Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Can Show You What You Wanna See And Take You Where You Want To Be

UPDATE: I figured out why Rick Sebak was in the Southside. Find out more here:

I really should've just waited a day.

Today I went to WYEP, which was quite routine. I usually get a ride from my father, but he was only able to get me there today, which was alright. It was a nice day and it had been a while since I last took public transportation.

Taking public transportation here in Pittsburgh is always an adventure (If you don't believe me, follow @PGH_T_Party) and today was no different. I usually pick up the 51 from the South Side downtown at the corner of 12th and East Carson. Today, the lights at that intersection weren't working because a transformer caught fire there.

Needless to say, I was assuming that this would set the bus schedule back a while. So I waited, and looked down East Carson waiting for the 51. About ten minutes goes by, and who do I see walking down the sidewalk toward me but some guy that looks like Rick Sebak.

Rick Sebak (for those of you who don't follow public television/need a brush-up on yinzology) is a television producer for WQED here in Pittsburgh that is known for his scrapbook documentaries (he invented the genre) about local and quirky things ("Breakfast Special" "A Hot Dog Program" etc.). He also follows me on twitter.

Anyway, I'm watching this guy and East Carson, and then I realize that it is Rick Sebak. I say "hi" but honestly I'm a bit starstruck (seriously, making documentaries in this style is one of my dreams after, you know, being Scott Pelley or Charles Osgood). We talk briefly about the weather and he goes to his car, which is being blocked by a bunch of motorcycles. At this point I see the 51 in the distance. The motorcycle dudes move their motorcycles after talking to Mr. Sebak for a minute or so. And then they pull out at this intersection. Up rolls the 51, me with fare in hand. And so keeps going the 51, past me.

So Rick Sebak drives away, and the bus decided I wasn't worthy enough to get on it. I look around to see if I'm getting punk'd or something, I'm not.

The 48 pulls up, and lets me on. The 48 and 51 take the same routes from at least 20th and Carson into town, so I'm alright. Due to construction though, I had to walk an extra ten blocks than normal to get to my transfer. Which gave me an excuse to walk through Point Park's campus. The campus isn't like a college campus though... it's a collection of five or six city blocks making the whole city its campus. </Point Park Gushing>

I make it onto my transfer bus stop as it is rolling up to the corner. As if it was planned.

Friday, February 21, 2014

And it’s a Long Way up When You Hit the Ground

This is from Imagine Dragon's "On Top of The World" which is an amazing song by a band that can play very well acoustically, which you should totally check out sometime after you're done reading this post.

This week in English we have been talking about Modernism, which has left me floating down the path of meta-cognition and identity and art. Metacognition (which chrome is telling me isn't a word... meh [meh is also not a word]) metacognition is the idea of thinking about thinking, which after a week of thinking about thinking and streams of consciousness, it's just... weird.

Anyway, this week has been a smorgasbord (spellcheck saved me on that) of information, events, and assorted nonsense. I now have a graduation/commencement date (per CSB) of June 12, 2015. Which is crazy to think about, 476 days away crazy. I'm extremely excited yet at the same time quite terrified that that is the amount of time within which I need to take the SATs, ACTs, complete a FAFSA, apply for scholarships, and of course apply to all of the colleges I want to.

So this, and so much more has been running through my mind. I've been listening to a lot of lectures, acceptance speeches, and the sort lately. I am listening to John Green's lecture at Kenyon, and have listened to Bob Schieffer's acceptance speech of the Walter Cronkite award for Excellence in Journalism, as well as what I offered earlier from Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" speech and his concept of "Art is Never Finished, it is Just Released", and so many other things.

This is rambly, but that's because I'm not exactly coherent. Thinking about thinking does that to you.

Stuff I've been listening to:

"I'll never really know what it's like to be you. I will always see you in the context of myself" -
John Green's Kenyon Talk:
Journalism is not about scratching the surface, it is about going beneath the surface and finding the truth — Bob Schieffer, in his acceptance speech for the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism

Friday, February 14, 2014

If That's What You Wanted

That's the title of the song used in the trailer for the John Green Movie The Fault In Our Stars. I like the song, and the trailer, and the book, so you should check all of those out in the reverse order I listed it in...

It occurred to me that last week's post didn't properly publish. I pushed that through earlier today, so check out that below.

This week was rather uneventful. On Monday we had to deal with the aftermath of Friday's talent show, meaning the Video Lab was in shambles (cameras, tripods, mics all unplugged and had to be set up again... which didn't happen), I was sick, and I had to play referee between management and visual directors, and honestly deal with it being a Monday. Which was an interesting combination, which culminated in me being quite miserable.

But that morning I was forced to do something I rarely get to do: read the announcements solo from the office over the Public Address system. I probably sounded as miserable as I usually do, but I actually enjoyed it. It reminds me so much of audio recording at the station, and of recording the "Welcome" thing in the video lab. This has led me to ambition (which is usually quite scary when it comes to me because, well, JSVH, BBC 2 1/2, need I go on?) which has led me to want to do a podcast. I want to do a podcast talkshow sort of thing with my friends. We'll see how this goes, if anywhere.

The rest of the week was uneventful; I dabbled in a bit of photography again today as I have been lately. In doing this I've realized that sunsets in winter in western Pennsylvania are amazing. Actually, sunsets in general here are great. I plan on posting some of the pictures I've taken up on the Flickr shortly.

Also, I wrote an alternative post to this one over on the secondary (yet semi-identical) blog here: It's on Valentine's Day, and humanity... but I promise, it's not that profound.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It's a Switch Flipped

I didn't post yesterday. I was spending roughly 10-11 glorious hours (continuously... this count started at 11, you'll see why later) at the high school auditorium, working lights/stage management of the Crafton talent show. It's a crazy process. I was there until 10:30 PM (EST), so I didn't get around to blogging. Sorry.

My Friday began (as most Fridays do) reading the morning announcements. Afterward, we went to the cafeteria (after my Pre-Calc teacher told me I shouldn't be in class, that I should leave, and more importantly leave his room alone) to prep for the Pittsburgh National College Fair held at the convention center downtown.

After riding a bus, going up some stairs, and through some doors I was immersed in roughly 400 booths full of colleges, universities, vo-tech reps, and assorted insanity. Well, sort of.

On paper, there were 400 booths. Alex really was interested in four*: Point Park, RIT, Syracuse, and St. John's (Queens, NY). But neither St. John's nor Syracuse were present; the reps apparently decided to not show up. So with roughly an hour and a half to kill, I spoke with Point Park about admissions, and RIT about stuff I didn't learn in the mail. And then I wandered about. 

What I learned is this: the colleges that send stuff in the mail are irrelevant. What I've found most useful is to seek out who has programs I am interested in, and who is relatively local, and seek those institutions. This led me to talk with George Mason and Ohio University. Just another adventure.

So back to the talent show. It went quite well, and we had a chance to test out the "Welcome" announcement I recorded on Monday. It's a pretty generic thing I wrote to be played to give me time to dim the house lights at events:
Welcome to the Carlynton Junior-Senior High School Auditorium. We ask that you please silence all devices at this time. Thank you and Enjoy the Show!
I had my brother (who was on master sound yesterday) play it like ten times for me before anyone showed up. I am such a nerd. But seriously, isn't it cool to be able to say that this is your recorded voice, played before [now pretty much all of the] events [I highly doubt musical will use ours; they record their own]? Just me? Okay.

Either way, the talent show went pretty well considering we had no real run-through and I lost control of the light board twice during the show. It's a lot of set-up, and a lot of cleanup, but at the end it is so worth it. And again I am so thankful to be at a small enough school where I can do auditorium things as often as I do.

*I narrowed my list down to those four colleges using the College Board's BigFuture tool. I doubt that St. John's is real, though. And RIT is the only one that gave me MAJOR sticker shock**

**I consciously realize that deciding (or rather society/academia/the job market deciding for me) to go to college is going to lead to me being in debt for the rest my natural life. If that doesn't do it ($30-$40K USD PER YEAR?!?!?) something else will. I accept that debt will be there, but I am trying to draw a line at nothing above total Cost of Attendance (getting there, tuition, room, board, etc.) at $50K per year. RIT has a Tuition + Room + Board rate of roughly $42,000 dollars (or so the admissions guy told me, per College Board it actually looks like $47,677). Compare with Point Park's program's rough COA around $38,600 (Per College Board). I don't think I can justify that. This whole college/money/what to do with my life thing is quite terrifying, which is why I generally don't blog about it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

You May Select This Title, or Select One of Similar Literary Quality

I've been trying to start less often with the standard "So [insert start of post]" because honestly, it's not necessary. I first started thinking about this when Greg Joseph of the Clarks brought it up at the selection meeting of Reimagination CD, how he was trying to start less spoken sentences with "So." From there I started analyzing it, and it turns out that I do that a LOT, and it's really hard not to.

And yes, I realize this is a Sunday. I write when I can and how I can.

I want to talk about two things: the first being my research project, and the second being the adventure at the station. I'm doing a research project for English on the concept of 'literary merit'. Specifically, my paper is going to try and argue that YA fiction, specifically the case of John Green, has literary merit. In researching this, I've found a lot of differing viewpoints but mainly the question by these 'scholarly sources' is this: is literary merit and thus are merited to be required reading limited to the classics? This has been something I've been ranting about for years: who sets up what we read? why do we read what we read? and of course, what is the point of it all?

The answers aren't simple. <rant>* The education system in America as it exists today is a broken and crazy system. People who argue otherwise have not seen NCLB implemented, and have probably not talked to a teacher lately. The question I have is this: is society able to adapt to a group of strange people standing on the backs of giants, or do we have to all be of a certain classical mindset on the backs of certain giants? </rant>

Yesterday we met at the station with the ten acts that will be contributing to the Reimagination CD. The thing I love about working with Reimagine is that we start really small - meetings with four or five people -  but when it comes to the projects we work on, we do huge things.

Here is what a ten artist/ten track compilation looks like sitting in a room:
May not seem like much, but it seems pretty impressive to me. We enlisted five or six producers, the GM of WYEP, and we're having it all recorded/mastered at a professional facility, Church Studio in Carrick. But the thing I am continually amazed by is how something goes from talk to reality, it's an amazing process, and I'm so glad to be able to be a part of it.

I won't go into much detail because everything is just starting at this point, plus I don't have much detail at this point. Nevertheless, it is looking like the next few months are going to be good.

*This is a nod to HTML tags. Before anything can begin, it must have an opening tag, and then when whatever code or style or whatever is done, it must be closed. Thus, the rant has an opening and closing. I don't even know what I was saying there...