Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I'm taking classes at the local community college right now for web design. I'm just about to start my third semester. I've taken three classes so far, but I may take as many as 9 credits this term, thanks to a couple of weekend sessions. It's kind of exciting to get new skills. I've made a couple of websites for my classes now, although you can't see any of them; they're on the school's server.

I hope to use these new abilities for evil. I mean, er, to get a different job. I just applied for one that requires a combination of media experience and web knowledge, both of which I both have. I have my fingers crossed. Please cross your fingers for me, too.

I give learning new skills 1 page of dense and confusing HTML code.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March Madness

The coolest thing happened to me yesterday. A coworker of mine, AS for short, came up to my desk and asked quietly "what time do you get off?" I was immediately suspicious.

"I have two tickets to the afternoon session of the NCAA tournament."

That's right, AS gave me free tickets to round one of the Big Dance. It was sweet. I got off work and met a friend, and we went down to the Rose Garden. There were thousands of people milling around when we got there, around 4:15. It turns out, in between the morning and afternoon sessions, they boot everybody in the building out, then make those with all-day tickets come back in.

The first game was Gonzaga vs. Akron. The Zags were obviously the crowd favorite, as they're a northwest team. They were really impressive, despite a lackluster first half. They actually trailed at halftime, but made adjustments in the second half and overwhelmed the Zips. Gonzaga is full of really long, tall guys who can shoot, and when they started to press, it was over. At the half, my friend Mike and I ran into 3 of the Hoelter brothers, with whom I'm going to the Saturday session as well. They were all wearing Kansas t-shirts, even though Kansas is playing elsewhere. That's diehard.

The second game was the biggest upset of the tourney (so far). Western Kentucky, the 12th seed, knocked off 5th seed Illinois. The Hilltoppers are very athletic, and the Illini are a fundamentally sound team, and each lacked the other's strength. In the end, athleticism won out. But it was interesting, because once Illinois began pressing, it became clear that WKU doesn't have many good ballhandlers. Illinois cut a 17-point lead to 2 with about 10 seconds left, but came up short. If the game had been a minute longer, Illinois would have won.

My only two gripes with the experience would be the lack of alcohol at the venue, and the fact that they weren't showing highlights on the bigscreen. First, I guess it's sort of NCAA rule that fans not drink beer in the stands, which is a ludicrous rule. The NCAA wants to pretend it's a pure institution, but without getting too into it, that's a ridiculous conceit. Students can't afford tickets to the game, so who are they trying to protect, really?

Second, why on earth wouldn't they show highlights from other tournament games? We could see on the one scoreboard showing other scores that UCLA was barely holding on, but they wouldn't show us what was happening. Instead, we got "greatest moments" clips, which repeated over and over again. We were there for the second session only, and saw some clips at least twice. Ridiculous.

I give my first taste of March Madness action (in person anyway) an 8. I can't wait until Saturday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Mix Tape

Stanley and I are exchanging mix tapes via the internet right now. I've always been a huge fan of making mix tapes, which is part of the reason I got into dj-ing. It's fun to find songs that segue into one another, and it's even better when those songs serve a larger theme. The one I'm working on right now is a "Robots vs. Humans" theme, inspired by a couple of Daft Punk songs, and the Flight of the Conchords. I have 14 songs picked out, alternating between robot songs and human songs. For the first exchange, I picked out a good road trip mix, starting fast and ending slow. Stanley sent me a country-tinged mix.

When making your own, I firmly believe in what John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity" has to say about mix tapes.

You start out hot, then crank it up a little. You don't want to blow your load, so you take it back a notch. From there, you must vary the intensity. If you go with too much hard rockin', the listener will glaze over. If you whimper your way through, the listener will stop paying attention. Of course, there's always room for the hard rocker and the quiet song, but you must set them up with mid-tempo stuff. Don't be afraid to toss in the quirky song that you love, even if it's a bit inaccessible on the first couple of listens. But remember, if the tape's not just for you, you must remember your audience. Put something that will appeal to the person who's listening. It doesn't have to be a song they know, just one they'll likely enjoy. In fact, it's best if they don't know it. Who doesn't take joy in discovering a great new song or band?

Lastly, try to think about the long-term listenability of the mix tape. It may seem fun to toss that Weird Al song in there, but if by the third time you've gone through the CD you're already skipping past the song, it means you made a mistake, and your listener will be less likely to give your disc multiple listens.

I give the art of mix taping eleven pairs of headphones!