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in-class activity

Local Graffiti

1) Street Graffiti (non-stencil)

So, I don’t have a real photo of my example of street graffiti, but I swear I used to. It was probably two phones ago, during my sophomore year here in Champaign. My friend, Kyle, and I were bored one day, and decided to walk around campus looking for something to do. Somehow we ended up in front of the ACES Library, and Kyle was sitting on a flat stone bench talking to his girlfriend on the phone. When I glanced over at him, I saw the best street graffiti I have ever seen in person, sprayed below Kyle on the bench. Obviously I lost the picture, but I quickly Photoshopped a generic stone bench to resemble the real picture enough.



It took awhile, but I finally understood that the purple spray paint had been added on by someone later. I want to specifically look at why the purple painter added what he or she did. Obviously the original graffiti-er was trying to get student’s attention as they strolled through the south quad, but I would imagine people who read that had some ugly images pop into their heads before class. Whoever sprayed the purple letters wanted students to chuckle or smile as they walked by, instead of imposing such a heavy subject in your mind during a stressful day. I really appreciated this lighthearted, non-offensive joke, and I think it was a brilliant idea that accomplished what the artist wanted perfectly. Lend Grapes.


2) Bathroom Graffiti @ Green Street Cafe, Men’s Stall


I thought this was the best bathroom graffiti I had ever seen, although I’m not sure that is saying much, considering most “stall art” is pretty obscene. This quote struck me as a kind of “meta-graffiti”, especially with the finishing touch of some drunk guy trying to scribble it out ineffectively. I actually took this photo about 6 months ago, so I’m proof that the artist was indeed successful. The placement of this quote becomes a thing of beauty, along with the meaning of the words. The artist knew that people would try and scribble over the quote, and that it would eventually be painted over, but they also knew that at least a few readers would understand the beauty. 100% art.


Podcast Project Rationale

(apologies for the late submission)


            For my podcast, I decided to conduct an experiment in sound discomfort. In the article, Sound Engineering, Shipka says that she lets, “…students determine the most fitting, or soundest, way of conveying, communicating, or representing the work they mean to do in response to a task” (Shipka). I wanted to see how a dry sense of humor would, or would not, translate to the audience. I recreated a Norm MacDonald interview on an episode of, “Conan”, when Norm tells a long joke with his trademark, monotone delivery. My goal was to mimic the audio of an authentic “late night” show for the introduction, but then eliminate the familiarity of studio laughter. I was hoping that by removing the visual, and auditory, cues from the original clip, the punch line of the joke would actually be funnier. Obviously it is tough to measure how funny something is, so I showed the real video to a group of my friends prior to playing my podcast in our class, for a rough evaluation.

            Originally, I planned to download the actual audio from the show, but I couldn’t get rid of all of the background laughter. I researched, “The Late Show with David Letterman”, and decided to copy the basic format for their intro segment. I used a typical, booming announcer’s voice, on top of the theme music from, “The Gong Show”, to try and convince the audience that they were listening to a real show. I used my own name as the guest on the show, with host, John Stamos. I asked a friend to be the voice of Stamos, because it would have sounded unnatural if I had to play both parts. I didn’t want to make my friend record 50 takes with me, so there are some choppy parts, but it doesn’t sound too scripted. Once I started telling the four-minute joke, the only sounds other than my voice, were a couple, scripted interruptions from the host. While I was telling the joke, I tried to pause at the same times that Norm did in the original clip. The silence during each pause, plus the length of the joke, was meant to increase the “cringe” factor for the audience. Once the punch line was finally delivered, I added an eruption of pre-recorded laughter and applause. After suffering through the entire story, I wanted the audience to understand the joke, and how I was mocking the laugh track concept, at the same time.

            I am happy with the way my introduction sounded, but there are a few things that could have been better. If I could do this again, I would have kept Norm as the guest, and I would have used the name of an actual late night show. I think people might have paid closer attention if they thought it was an actual comedian, instead of knowing it was me on a fake show. I also wish I would have tried telling the joke in different pitches. I think my voice ended up sounding whiny, instead of the droll tone I had intended. Besides those two aspects, my podcast ended up sounding fairly close to what I wanted.

            Since my source for this podcast was never in written form, I wanted to, instead, compare the differences between seeing and hearing Norm’s joke. When I showed the original video to a group of my friends, their responses were similar to the studio audience’s live reaction. It is obvious that watching Norm tell the joke to Conan, along with some laughter cues, helped my friends understand the humor before the punch line. When I played my podcast during class, the listeners got frustrated with the length of the joke, as well as the content. The silent pauses even made me uncomfortable, and it felt like most people wanted the whole thing to just be over. My hypothesis was definitely rejected when the punch line did not produce the laughter I was expecting. After hearing reactions from the class, I think most people had stopped listening to the joke once the silence became too unbearable.

            Similar to Val’s museum project in the Shipka article, my podcast experiment was meant to, “…play with audience expectations” (Shipka). By taking away the comfort of a standard, talk show laugh track, I was hoping to produce some uncommon responses from my audience. The dry humor was almost completely lost during the lengthy joke, and the punch line ended up suffering as well. Even though the joke failed, I think my experiment gave me some insight into how humor does, and does not transcend different media. In this particular case, Norm MacDonald’s joke depended on his status as a famous comedian. When he told this joke live, his reputation, combined with his expressions, kept the audience focused and engaged. My audience had no such expectations as I told the joke, and not knowing what to expect probably caused disinterest and confusion.

My Soundcloud Profile

My Soundcloud Profile

Pre-Class Melodies

Song #1: “When I Drink” – The Avett Brothers

  • This is a slow, acoustic song by the Avett Brothers, but I can promise it won’t put us all to sleep. Even though the song might seem like it is only about ‘post-booze’ regret, the lyrics are meaningful and hopeful. I always feel like I am going to make the best out of my day when I listen to it walking to class, hungover or not. At the very least, this song will spark some conversation about who had a crazy time at the bars the previous night.

Song #2: “World News” – Local Natives

  • I have to admit: this choice is a little biased because it’s probably the most played song on my iPod. It has an uptempo beat to keep anyone from dozing off, amazing vocals, and somewhere in the middle there is a quick, “Wooh!”, that always gets my attention. I think it will get people energized, but not distracted from class (bonus points). The lyrics are all about letting go of petty issues that can sometimes control us, and how awesome it feels to just be a good person. Hopefully more people check out Local Natives after they hear, “World News”.

Song #3: “Hacienda Motel” – Pickwick (starts at 3:52 in video)

  • To say the lead vocalist of Pickwick is talented, might be the understatement of the century. He is all of about 5’10” and 160 pounds, but somehow he is able to belt out notes with some serious soul. Like, “World News”, this song has a contagious beat, but the way the instruments are being played gives it a very unique sound. I think the vocals in this song will wake our class up, and the slide rhythm on the acoustic guitar could get us thinking outside the box. Fun Fact: this was the first song Pickwick wrote as a band, and the lyrics tell the story of how Sam Cooke was killed (clearly a huge inspiration to the band’s style).

Song #4: “Unaware” – Allen Stone (for your consideration)

  • I spent about half of my total time working on this project just trying to decide between Allen Stone or Pickwick for my last song. Both lead singers have vocal abilities that are one-of-a-kind on this planet, so I decided I couldn’t leave out “Unaware”. Allen Stone also carries a “soul” element to his voice, but it is his unbelievable range that sets him apart. The end of this song will have everyone wondering when the singer changed from a white guy, to a Baptist church choir singer. I think this song will have an effect similar to my third choice. If everyone isn’t fully alert after the last chorus, we might as well cancel class that day.

Typography HW #2


See if you can guess what kind of food each of my different restaurants serve:





1. This one was kind of tough for me to come up with, but I decided it looked enough like a Mexican burrito place? Close enough.

2. I thought this font would be great for an upper-class, chic lunch place, probably near a big business area in some city. I’m thinkin’ $40 salads.

3. Maybe this doesn’t look like a typical pizza place font, but I think the free hand style makes it look pretty casual and not too much like a corporate chain.

4. This font was meant for a high quality restaurant, featuring a top-of-the-line chef that becomes all the rage after a great newspaper review.

5. This looks like a straight-up copy from Subway, and I’m picturing it above a similar, inexpensive sub sandwich place.


Media Literacy

1. I decided that after almost four years of studying advertising at this university, I should probably be able to read advertisements in a way that a lot of people cannot. Whether it is knowing where to find the fine print, or identifying a style of persuasion, I would like to think that I can point out a lot of details in even the shortest commercial spot. Since we are all subject to thousands of ads every day, people often decide whether ads are good or bad by how they just reacted to it. In reality, there are different theories in advertising, and some of the most despised ad campaigns in history have been the most effective. Now that I am searching for jobs in the industry, I can sometimes recognize when a single ad firm has multiple running ads. For example, we all know that Old Spice came out with a very unique ad campaign a few years ago that made them lots of money. What people may not have realized was that a few years later, Dairy Queen completely changed their commercials to the same random humor. The first time I saw the new DQ ads, I could immediately tell that the same firm was producing the Old Spice ads. Another example of how I can close-read ads is by looking at the layout of print media. On blockbuster movie posters, I ask myself, “How did the creator of this poster intend for me to view this poster?” They could have used brighter colors in one spot to attract my eye to that area first, or the sizes of the actors’ faces are relative to their importance in the film. By learning how to create advertisements, it makes you look at them in an entirely different way.

2. I chose to close-read this terrible Miller Lite commercial that came out in the last year or two:

Right away I thought about demographics, but most people could tell you that this ad is catering towards males from 18 to 35 years old. Next I noticed how about 90% of the shots in the ad had a visible Miller Lite logo, even if it is a small neon sign way in the background. Repetition is probably the oldest form of persuasion, and Miller is trying to sneak in as many logos as possible in 30 seconds without looking too obvious. I would also say that this ad is trying to do something that most people don’t realize happens in advertising; Miller is targeting who they think is already buying their product. Most people think that when ads cheap shot their competitors, it is so people who don’t buy their product will suddenly decide to switch brands. In this ad, I think Miller is targeting people who already drink their beer, and reassuring to them that they are indeed more of a man because they like Miller.