Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Future of Journalism.

For my Media Effects class, I just concluded a fairly lengthy evaluation concerning the future of the journalism -- a topic I am very interested in (especially since it has to do with my hopeful vocation or homelessness). It may seem dry to some, but the topic affects us all -- whether we read the newspaper, have a smart phone or use social media. I think it's safe to say that covers just about all of us. Take a gander if you so desire and hear what the "best in the biz" have to say about where the media industry is headed. Click below.

The Future of Journalism (PDF) 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Playing Catch-Up.

I think I've finally come to the realization that I'll never be done with my perpetual "to do" list. There is no last hill to climb before a blissful, end-all paradise. And I'm content with that conclusion. The ride is the best part anyway. The most important thing is maintaining the balance. Now, well into the latter half of the semester, I'm finding (and making) more opportunities for me to write again. With school and my job as editor at the Universe, it's been nice to sit down and get the juices flowing again lately.

Below is my latest Rhombus Online Magazine post (which I spent many moons on) as well as a couple articles I did regarding election coverage for The Daily Universe:

Rhombus Online Magazine
MUSIC: 20 Important Songs You Should Hear

The Daily Universe
Students play vital part in nation's oldest student-run exit polls
A liberating evening for democrats

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Day In the Life of a News Editor.

It's a typical Tuesday here in The Daily Universe newsroom. Here is my workspace. It's sort of like a cubicle but not quite. More like an designated open space area in the shape of a quasi-hexagon with Avatar-like lily pad light refractors hovering above me. My area has the makings of any typical place of labor — computer, telephone, newspapers, spider-embroidered hand towel, celebratory "party poppers" and a tri-fold piece of headwear with "Birfday Hat" enscribed on the side in magenta and lime green crayon. Home sweet home.

This is Parker. He's my co-editor on the campus desk. The contents of his workspace are far less arbitrary than mine, though his affinity for spotting wildlife outside the window, incredible punch-making abilities and desire to live for over a century provide more than adequate color commentary and excitement on this side of the newsroom. He — not Lassie — is man's best friend.

These are some of our reporters hard at work at the multitude of computers lining The Daily Universe newsroom walls. Even though everyone on our desk opted to study public relations in place of the ideal, utopian calling of a print journalist, we're most of the way through the forgiveness process and secretly think they're great anyway.

Here are the voyeuristic, oversized windows on the west side of the newsroom. Coincidental? I think not. Often, the appearance of deer, inclement weather or wandering students capture our attention and add that "je ne sais quois" that provides reporters with the profound sense of inspiration they need. Or maybe just satiates the innate curiosity and fly-on-the-wall nature of a journalist.

Just another day in the life of a mild-mannered news editor.

(All photos courtesy of my cell phone)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Horizons Broadened.

It's been years in the making with painstaking efforts and crumbled plans. I think "The Road" (great novel I just finished) describes it best:

"Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before... Bedrock, this. The cold and the silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone."

After all this metaphoric yearning and hardship, I finally did it. I ate at Jack In the Box. If you don't believe I accomplished such a feat, I'm one step ahead of you. See evidence below (photograph courtesy of Kerisa Shelton).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Man vs. Wild

There's something about the male genetic makeup — some indiscernible facet not able to be scientifically identified — that causes us to, on occasion, risk life and limb to be...well...manly. I'm not talking about avoiding the sharp corners of a tortilla chip while scooping salsa and watching the latest NBA game, I'm talking a little more uninhibited. This past weekend I made the trek down to northern Arizona for a little R&R at our family reunion and subsequent jaunt over to Snowflake for the coveted Pioneer Day celebration. True to form, the rodeo called my name and as a highly unqualified city boy, I entered myself into the rodeo with my two cousins to compete in the grocery race. Our number was called and...well, I won't give away the rest — just watch and note the Avatar-like union between man and beast.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Flipping Through My Future.

So there I was perusing the local Border's Bookstore, listening to the acoustic folk sounds of All On Seven (check 'em out here or read my article about them here) and catching up on my favorite music mags when I came across this cover story on Paramore from SPIN Magazine. The author got to follow the band on tour for a few days and see the grind for himself. While opinions on the quality of the band vary (and fiery lead singer Hayley Williams wasn't pleased with some parts of the expose), the article was captivating, revealing and just good writing. If I were a dog, my tail would've been wagging. It reaffirmed in my mind that this is what I want to do for a living: tell peoples' stories—whether it's stripping down the fame-inflated or promoting the talented-but-less-than-privileged. Love a little bit o' inspiration every now and then. The aforementioned article can be found at your local magazine stand or online here where the first half can be read.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Band of Horses, "Infinite Arms"

I've heard a lot of talk about Band of Horses the last few years, enjoyed a couple of their tracks and continued on my merry way. The group's newest release, however, "Infinite Arms," has solidified my position as a long-term, admiring fan. Playing sort of a folk/country brand of music with an unmistakable indie aesthetic, the band manages to sound simultaneously contemporary and antique—channeling a distinctly Western vibe, like laying out 'neath a desert sky (as the album cover would suggest, uh, kudos to the design team).

Stream "Infinite Arms" here, free of charge. I reckon you'll become a fan too.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What I'm Listening To...

As is periodically expected, here is a playlist of my latest musical pursuits, in no particular order...or genre. Just a few tunes I'm diggin' on.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spring Begins.

The grass is green again, reflecting the sun's reestablished presence, ready and waiting for the inevitable constant company—wielding picnic blankets, frisbees and glasses of lemonade—to arrive. Flowers of endless shapes, colors and sizes bloom everywhere and the mountains look inviting, having freshly shaken off winter's last cold whisperings.

Finally, spring is in the air.

Along with nature's annual makeover, a peculiar change of outlook also accompanies this wonderful phenomenon. Positivity seems more accessible. New opportunities present themselves--or at least cast seemingly worn-out opportunities in a new light. A certain je ne sais quois ignites the serotonin in our brains. Romance blossoms. Barry White music is no longer scoffed at, but encouraged.

If you ask me, "spring resolutions" should replace "New Year's resolutions." As a result, the number of people able to accomplish their goals in the former would rise from roughly 11% to 63% (yes, the aforementioned statistics are made-up and arbitrary).

Something about the season also let's the "magic" of life more easily fill our minds. Warm nights looking at stars, appreciating the beauty of nature, valuing relationships and more.

I love the feeling of renewal, of a fresh outlook and the chance to re-prioritize while worrying less about the little things and feeling a little bolder in my pursuits, whatever they may be. Being able to let my hair down and be more open to whatever may come my way.

I'd ponder more on the wonders of springtime and its effects, but it's time to go lay out on the grass, sip on some lemonade and groove with Mr. White. Good luck in your revitalized endeavors.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Parlor Hawk, "Hoarse and Roaring"

Listening to “Hoarse and Roaring” is like driving alone down a long, open road off into a sunset tinged landscape, leaving plenty of time to contemplate life’s hopes and struggles. Parlor Hawk’s distinct brand of Americana folk-rock permeates the effort with a tight sound featuring steadily strummed guitars, an achingly bluesy twang and frontman Drew Capener’s desperate vibrato on every track.

The band successfully creates a contemporary take on an antique sound with a salt of the earth vibe — but that’s not to say there’s anything ordinary about this music. The evenly-paced drum beats and clean harmonies are both intimate and personal in their everyman quality. The sound produced is at times melancholy but more often contemplative — simultaneously nostalgic and forward-looking. Utilizing instruments such as a pump organ and slide guitar, Parlor Hawk generates its vintage sound. The music and lyrics are unpretentious and fervent; simple yet rich and layered. Stylistic comparisons can be easily drawn to artists like Damien Rice, Ryan Adams or an early Wilco.

“Home,” the album’s opener, has a catchy chorus and sparse percussion with the duo of a bass drum and tambourine that eventually break into handclaps at the peak of the action. Capener careens in and out of the guitar riffs, channeling an old-timey, saloon feel as you envision an antique piano being played in the corner. Parlor Hawk’s country roots show through in “Every Bone,” a track laden with the twang of a steel guitar as the reluctant rhythm trudges forward with a message of love lost. “Julian,” the album’s most melancholy tune, well utilizes Capener’s wounded voice as he croons about faded love; “I’ll give you my canvas/Paint cracked and dry/Might lead you to question/But reason can’t ask reason why.” The album’s dream-like, “Lark,” is a swaying melody that plays like a bittersweet lullaby with the ethereal chorus floating in the night sky as Capener’s voice intertwines with the female harmony. The more upbeat “Flowers” contains a bluesy guitar hook and a steady, toe-tapping beat. “Saddest Song,” is a melancholy campfire sing-a-long, featuring only vocals and an acoustic guitar.

All in all, “Hoarse and Roaring” is an album that you’ll want to pick up and sing along with, no matter what mood you're in. Check out Parlor Hawk's MySpace page here and listen to some tracks.

Check out the official article at Rhombus Online Magazine

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Cycle.

What a whirlwind. Like the tail end of a draining bathtub.

I know what happens from past experience, but every time I’m faced with a new challenge, I lose perspective all over again and have to re-learn what I formerly thought I was better for—that impossible challenges slowly turn to manageable experiences which become great ones and inevitably end too early and I’m left with a feeling of gratitude, wondering where the time went.

This past week has been somewhat of a proverbial blur: finishing up my last stories, celebrating my birthday, dealing with controversy in the newsroom (specifically on my desk) and now concluding a semester that would receive the superlatives of “hardest,” “most intense” and “most rewarding” all at once.

It’s my last day in the newsroom, and as I type this entry on a computer I’ll probably never walk by again in desperation to get another source for an impending story I have to do, I contemplate the past few months as well as my immediate future simultaneously. It’s really a mixed bag of emotions—fear, worry, hope, anxiety, confidence and an unexpected sense of sadness leaving my home for the last four months.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me—my editors (Spencer and Kaye), fellow reporters, professors, friends and family who have supported me and given me encouragement and anyone else who has aided me along the way. As hard as this has been, I’ve loved every second of it and am eager to take the next step in bridging the gap to a career and begin my internship for The Daily Herald this summer.

Goodbye Daily Universe. It’s been a good ride.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where's Waldo?

It all began last winter.

It started with a passing thought, developed into a full-fledged idea, became tangible when we scribed it on paper and settled in our minds as a finalized goal: to make a movie filled with mystery, intrigue and stripes.

Yes, a movie about Waldo.

However, through the complicated and ever-shifting characteristics of college life, our promising project was put on indefinite hiatus--until now that is. Using a film competition put on via our church ward as a catalyst, Waldo was finally able to come into fruition through our camera lens.

In odd, yet successful combination with two of my latest interests--1920's noir private eye flicks and "The Office"--our freshly finished project, "Where's Waldo: The Movie," contains elements from all three. I, of course, play the part of the detective (see nerdy shot of me attempting to spice up life in the newsroom below).

The movie follows the Scooby Doo-esque adventures of a band of college students attempting to find the elusive Waldo, all the while encountering a myriad of colorful characters of lore on their pursuit.

The movie was a blast to make. Hopefully the end result is just as entertaining. I give you "Where's Waldo: The Movie."

Watch part one here:

And part two here:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

WARNING: Nerds May Seem Closer Than They Appear

The night began as any other typical Saturday evening would in Provo. A sense of restlessness, a flurry of activity and socializing, a crowded University Ave.--oft making any vehicular travel frustrating--and the expectation of a good movie with friends.

This particular Saturday’s movie selection was the much talked about “Slumdog Millionaire,” a film offered through BYU’s international cinema program—one of the University’s hidden gems (or so I thought). Turns out the movie was quite well-known judging by the roughly 437.6 people standing in line, reproducing approximately the length of the LaVell Edwards football stadium. I seemed to have underestimated the attraction of Mormons to the “clean flicks” editions of good rated R movies. We were forced to re-strategize our night’s goals.

After strolling over to the Eyring Science Center and playing with the assortment of gadgets and science experiments strewn about the building’s main area, we had collapsed in a thin hallway where we were admiring a glass display of Russian nesting dolls along with the seemingly unfit placement of a zebra Beanie Baby named Ziggy.

Enter “Spencer”—real name omitted for his protection (not to protect his safety, but future dating opportunities). Donning a Star Trek shirt and a disarmingly large grin, he greeted us in the small corridor. After a bit o’ small talk, he offered to give us a tour of some of the facilities he has access to as a physics major, forebodingly known as “the basement.” We weren’t sure why he would offer such an opportunity, but intrigued we ventured into the depths of the science center.

Appearing like some secret lab out of a James Bond movie, the basement was very cool-looking—in a sterile, mad scientist sort of way. “Spencer” led us down to one of the larger rooms with a bright yellow sign attached to the doors, reading:

“Big Scary Laser: Do not look into beam with remaining eye.”

We all laughed at it (somewhat suspiciously, I might add), and slowly proceeded to enter the room. A quick scan of our surroundings told us that this place was every nerd’s paradise. There were some computers in one corner, others scattered about, lasers and other contraptions on lab tables, a pair of light sabers in a box near us and a ridiculously complicated-looking math equation taking up an entire white board.

Eagerly, our geeky tour guide showed us around, tossing out terms like “Strontium,” “inferatory” and “U.S.S. Enterprise” (Trekkie reference) as we explored. Admittedly the tour was pretty fascinating and our escort’s enthusiasm for his surroundings a little infectious. However, we began getting bored so we said our goodbyes.

We walked back to my car enlightened, worn-out and grateful that our Saturday nights usually consist of activities with other life forms above ground.

Thank you Spencer, wherever you are, for such a special evening.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Graduate

I’d heard a lot of buzz about “The Graduate”—especially after being featured in “(500) Days of Summer”—but didn’t know too much about it until I finally watched it this weekend. Though I don’t think the plot was quite fleshed out enough and the characters weren’t very sympathetic, the cinematography was impressive and the uncertainty of youth well-captured.

"The Graduate" follows Benjamin Braddock’s post-college quandary. Braddock (played by a young Dustin Hoffman) spends his time after graduation sort of stagnating, without a real direction, wondering why he just spent four years devoted to academics and trying to figure out what it means for him now (the mood well-represented by Simon & Garfunkel’s musically-inspired melancholia).

Though you don’t get much of a chance to get a feel for Hoffman’s idealistic character before getting thrust into the action, you do get a sense of his perplexity. He’s a good person who has done what he thought (and has been told) best but seemingly received nothing from it of value.

Though the ending appears to be happy on the surface, there’s no clear resolution (this is the part “(500) Days” comments on). After narrowly escaping a wedding precession, Braddock and the object of his affection, Elaine, board a bus and reflect on what the audience supposes is their future. At first, smiles abound but gradually fade into looks of neutrality and subtle uncertainty. They ponder: is there really a clear right choice and happy ending? Is this it?

If nothing else, the film also causes us to reexamine our own futures and the choices we’ve made that have led us up to this point in our lives. It makes us question our motivations and plans. What do we really want? What's not so important? Where do we want to devote our energy and time? What risks are worth taking?

Ultimately—and especially as a college student drawing nearer and nearer to graduation—I’m left with the importance of balancing the academic with the emotional; working hard to succeed in school to secure a stable future while doing my best to keep relationships and family atop my priority list. Trying to be flexible with a lot of inevitable uncertainty, but still reaching for the ideal.

Overall, “The Graduate” is worth a watch and hopefully causes you to have a well-placed introspection as well.

(Here’s one of the Simon & Garfunkel tunes predominant on the soundtrack.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Helio Sequence

This past weekend I got the chance to head up to The Depot in Salt Lake for a concert put on by the City Weekly Music Awards, featuring a few local bands that were opening for The Helio Sequence--the real reason I attended. After a screaming, hard rock band named Bird Eater performed, redemption came in the form of the next act, a soulful rock group from Ogden named The Naked Eyes--sort of a Black Crowes meets Band of Skulls affair. Finally, after an overly long performance by a slow-paced Americana band and after being hit on by two intoxicated older ladies, The Helio Sequence took the stage. Really an amazing performance and the catalyst for the album review I wrote yesterday for the Universe. You can find the article here and listen to some choice THS tunes below.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine's Day-Induced Rant

The more I live life and go about the day-to-day grind, I am reminded more and more of how happiness and genuine peace come through achieving a balance and "reading between the lines" in a sense. Life never just gives us answers — sometimes we think we receive them, but there’s really no tried-and-true formula. No simple way to get around it. No obvious “quick-fix.”

It’s about learning, discovery, trial and error, connecting-the-dots. Finding truth in the midst of life's seeming dissonance and trusting in personal constants. Discovering and holding to the things that make us truly happy.

To me, there are sort of two trains of thought regarding our path within existence. One is the somewhat mundane, realistic view we cling to which fulfills our expectations and doesn't disappoint. We know what's coming — and though it's not usually special — it's nice to know what lies ahead.

However, there's a second view that encompasses what I like to call the "magic" portion. The special moments. Moving music. A beautiful view. Quiet moments with a special someone. Something ethereal that is often hard to create or sustain. But every once in a while you attain it. A sense of transcendence and clarity.

Instead of being completely idealistic or completely realistic, I try to be a mixture. Find or create "magic" in the day-to-day. Drive somewhere random. Go on a walk. Do something with someone — I don't know. Be realistic yet allow room for and know that the hopelessly romantic moments in life will and do come. I try not to get too burrowed in the day to day crap. As Artistotle said, “Virtue is in the mean.”

I think this applies to relationships as well. Nietzsche said “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”

To me, that’s the balance in love. Reconciling “madness” (the magic) with the reason (practicality) that gives birth to that madness. But often, even finding someone worth throwing caution to the wind for is difficult in itself — a sometimes seemingly hopeless pursuit.

For the longest time I couldn't find anyone I was really interested in. Opportunities arose, but they were never the ones I really wanted to pursue. I just started wondering if the vision of romance that I had in my mind was too utopian. That I was setting my standards too high.

I just feel like a lot of people "settle" in a sense. But I've learned that relationships, the one's you really cherish, don't come along very often just like anything in life. But they do come. And they're worth waiting for.

Love is hard. Relationships can be (and often are) confusing and difficult. Often the sublime portions are masked under struggle and frustration. It isn't always the fairytale we envision. We open ourselves up and risk showing someone who we are — lay it on the line — and chance getting hurt.

Like Leonard Cohen penned in his timeless "Hallelujah," Love is not a victory march/It's not somebody who's seen the light/It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah.

So why do people repeat this apparent irrational behavior? I think it's because when we find those truly great relationships — the one's that really matter — we get back everything we risked. It will still be hard, but then again it was never meant to be easy.

It's about being able to embrace personal differences and love the other person, despite whatever problems you might have.

It is here — in the "mean" — that we find enduring happiness.

For true enlightenment, listen to Cohen's aforementioned song below, sung by Jeff Buckley (in my opinion, the best rendition of the tune).

Reliving the 90's With An Old Classic...

Katie Brandeburg and some other notables from the Provo music scene cover Lisa Loeb's "Stay." A great rendition with an assorted grouping of backing vocals and a swingin' beat (enhanced by some clapping from the vocalists at the peak of the action).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nine-to-Five Jobs Are Lame

After a whirlwind journey into the world of journalism, I am finally a full-fledged reporter for The Daily Universe at BYU. I am currently on the A&E desk covering off-campus music and entertainment--pretty much my dream job. So far, so good. Here are some articles I've written now that I'm about halfway through my journalistic foray this semester:

Muse Music "Rockumentaries"--
Location Location --
Orion Music Festival --
Orion Reviews --
Sundance Film Festival --
Fictionist --
"Shock Doctrine" at Sundance --
Animal Collective's "ODDSAC" --
Mudbison --