Monthly Archives: September 2009

Kevin and his ukulele

At this time of the morning I can’t think of a witty introduction to this assignment (not surprising considering I can’t think of my name at 3 a.m.), so I’ll present it in a straightforward fashion.  For our assignment this week we had to produce three videos with our flipcams.  The first video utilized the BBC five-shot technique, the second was raw footage of an interview, and the third video spliced the two together to form a longer video.  They are as follows…

Five-Shot Technique

Raw Interview Footage

Final Product

Thanks again to Kevin and his angelic voice!


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Rape of a Nation

Child Soldier

“The warlords have been recruiting child soldiers and, in the last 10 years, more than 30,000 child soldiers have been recruited in Eastern Congo.”

The project I chose to critique was Rape of a Nation by Marcus Bleasdale.  Fresh off of a headlines exercise in my 308 class I can appreciate the value of a title (or headline, if you will) that sucks you in like this one did.  This title is certainly not conservative, but it does an effective job illustrating the thesis of the project.  The piece deals with the tumultous state of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a war-torn region that has seen an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998, according to the International Rescue Committee.  Warlords and government forces wage battle daily, and the people of the country are caught in the middle.

Rape of a Nation corpse

The slideshow starts with a rythmic, pulsating drum beat that is accompanied by a series of photographs that present a grim narrative of the country- death, violence, and lots and lots of money.  Interspersed between these images is a running tally of the death roll.  The number rises in unison with the drum beat until it reaches its final number.  Over 5.4 million.  The collective impact of the audio, images, and running ticker is a powerful entry point into the story.

Rape of a Nation death toll

The dramatic entry point is only one of the techniques that Rape of a Nation employs effectively.  The slideshow uses a combination of sound, photographs, and video to engage the viewer.  It also has a graphic that shows the gold and diamond deposits that litter the countryside.  The graphic helps reinforce the claims Bleasdale makes about the wealth of the country.

Rape of a Nation graphic“The Congo is gifted with enormous natural resources… It could and should be a very, very rich country.  But in fact what the reality has been in the past years is that these natural resources have been a curse.”

Rape of a Nation money

Bleasdale utilizes sound beyond just the opening sequence.  At one point the slideshow switches to video of a young Congolese man crouched in some type of fox hole.  The video is shot from below him and captures the sound of his heavy breathing while gunshots ring out over his head.  The man’s fear is palpable and really serves to draw the viewer into the conflict.  Even after the video fades away his heavy breathing continues, now overlayed over more images of violence and death.

Rape of a Nation military“They will pillage, they will rape, they will steal cattle, they will steal goats, they’ll take a chicken at gunpoint just so that they can eat because they’re essentially not getting paid by anyone.”

The sequence of events feels a little disjointed, although that is more a byproduct of the number of terrible things happening in the region than any condemnation of Bleasdale’s work as a journalist.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t until I finished the slideshow that I realized the piece was a broad overview of what was going on instead a focalized narrative on child soldiers or disease and illness or the democratic process or any of the other subjects it touched on.  The pacing of the slideshow is fine, however.  At no point are you disinterested in what Bleasdale (who also narrated the piece and appeared at times in front of a camera) has to say.  He touches on a broad span of topics without dwelling on any one of them.

Rape of a Nation sick child“Just the very smallest of illnesses like diarrhea, the most basic of sicknesses like malaria, which warrant just a small series of pills, they have no access to this sort of medication…”

The actual dialogue of the slideshow was fairly sparse but the pictures say more than any sentence could.  Most of Bleasdale’s photographs are dynamic, close shots in black and white.  They tend to focus in on a central character or object while the surrounding background is slightly blurred.  This allows the viewer to have a clear picture of what the focus and intent of each photograph was.  I found the choice of (mainly) black and white photography to be an appropriate one.  The bright garb of the people that is displayed in some of the videos would not have fit in with the somber tone of the piece.

Rape of a Nation village

The above shot does a good job of focusing in on the child, who conveniently is looking directly into the camera.  Another strong camera technique Bleasdale employed was the use of unusual angles in his photography.  Very few of the photographs are taken on an even plane.

Rape of a Nation cliff

Rape of a Nation fear

The thing that Bleasdale does so well with his photographs is give the viewer a real sense of being there.  He inserts himself- and therefore everyone who encounters his work- directly into the situation.

Marcus Bleasdale

Marcus Bleasdale

I have yet to get in contact with Mr. Bleasdale to discuss his project but will update the post if I am able to…

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Greg Ostertag

This has to be addressed before the USC-Ohio State game kicks off (which means I have exactly 38 seconds to write this article.  Watch the grammar and punctuation devolve as I near the finish line)…

The Portland Trail Blazers had Greg Ostertag work out for them last week as a possible replacement for injured rookie Jeff Pendergraph.

Let that sink in and marinate for a minute…

This is kind of like President Obama appointing Wyatt Earp to be his National Security Advisor.  Ostertag has been so irrelevent the last few years in the basketball world that he might as well be the long-dead cowboy.

The similarity between the two doesn’t end there.  Notice the grainy black and white photograph of Earp above this paragraph?  Color film was still in it’s nascence the last time Ostertag scored a point.  Every basket he’s made has been in black and white.

For people unfamiliar with who exactly Greg Ostertag is, remember the big white guy Jerry Sloan used to scream at?  That was him.  Still unsure?  Google Image any NBA player’s name; Ostertag will be the guy getting dunked on in the picture.

Even Sabonis dunked on him

Even Sabonis dunked on him

It’s hard to imagine how Ostertag can help the organization.  I doubt the locker room would listen to him as a veteran leader and any on-court production he could provide would be minimal.  Maybe he gives really good back rubs.


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USC-Ohio State Preview

Here is a quick primer on some of the players to watch on the Ohio State football team.  It also doubles as a bit of shameless self-promotion, which is convenient.

Penetrating and insightful article, no?

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USC-San Jose State continued…

3rd Quarter

13:45- McKnight weaves through the defense for a long touchdown run.  35-3 USC.  He talked about emerging as the feature back during the offseason and is well on his way with 135 yards and 2 touchdowns so far.

12:55- My mind is starting to wander from the game.  San Jose State cannot move the ball on offense.  Should I get Mexican or Chinese for dinner?

12:08- San Jose State stuffed for a 4-yard loss.  USC has 11 tackles for a loss already.  Definitely going to go with Mexican tonight…

11:32- Spartans facing 3rd and long.  This is becoming a familiar refrain.  USC almost intercepts the pass twice.  4th down.

Expecting big things out of this return…

11:17- Punted out of bounds at the 14.  I never said I was Nostradamus.  Or Negrodamus.

Oklahoma State up 17-7.  Can’t decide whether I would rather see Megan Fox in a bikini or an SEC school lose.

Okay, I’d rather see Georgia lose…

10:45- Petros Papadakis has said “conservative” about 43 times this game.  Hopefully Carroll lets Barkley sling it around a bit before the Ohio State game.

The roommates are getting antsy and want to swim.  I’ll be joining them after this drive.

8:46- USC down to the 5-yard line after a Brice Butler catch.  I’d like to see Barkley throw on this next play.  Let him show off the arm…

Even Uncle Rico doesnt have Barkleys arm strength

Even Uncle Rico doesn't have Barkley's arm strength

8:28- Barkley completes the first touchdown of his USC career.  42-3.  I’ll set the over/under for career touchdowns at 94 (in only three years).  Any takers?

Time to swim.  Sorry ladies, there won’t be any pictures.

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USC-San Jose State

(Sort of) live blogging from the USC-San Jose State game.  Viewed from the comfort of my blisteringly hot apartment.

There won’t be any posts from the first quarter because I didn’t have my computer, but it wasn’t pretty.  San Jose State leads the game 3-0.  A quick observation from the first quarter:  San Jose State players wear garbage bags on their heads when on the sideline.  Their athletic budget must have been cut during the summer.

Anyways, on to the second quarter…

10:51- Stafon Johnson runs it up the middle from 5 yards out.  7-3 USC.  Johnson has always been my favorite of the USC stable of backs.  I will undoubtedly draft him three rounds too early in fantasy football next year.

With the first pick in the draft...

With the first pick in the draft...

Switched over to the Georgia-Okie State game.  A Cowboys coach is rubbing his belly on the sidelines.  I switch back to the USC game.

9:31- Patrick Perry picks up a first down on third-and-short.  He has quick feet and shifty hips (I’ve been reading a lot of Mel Kiper Jr. recently…)

8:23- My buddy is strumming his guitar during the game.  What’s up with that?

7:43- USC forces a fumble.  The band starts up again.  If you’re ever on campus go to a band practice.  The director sounds like Steinbrenner on Seinfeld.  It’s uncanny.



6:59- Barkley fakes a handoff and throws to an open Damian Williams.  Hopefully the new coordinator starts to trust Barkley a bit.

6:20- Damian Williams takes a screen down to the 6.  He’s the best receiver in the country not named Dez Bryant.

Damian Williams

Damian Williams

5:15- Johnson scores on another short run.  14-3 USC.  I’ll be taking him 5 rounds too early now.

Matt Millen is a commentator for ABC now.  I expect the ABC network to fold within the hour.

4:48- Johnson mumbles something unitelligible into the camera.  His ascent up my draft board is stalling.

4:02- 3rd-and-11 for San Jose State.  Not the position they want to be in.  Sacked for a 9-yard loss.

2:49- Allen Bradford finds a crease in the defense and runs it in from the 44.  21-3 USC.  The Trojans are starting to overpower San Jose State.

2:23- Spartans QB Kyle Reed has sat out the last few series.  He took a big shot in the first quarter.  The new guy, Jordan LaSecla, is probably hoping the training staff finds Reed some advil quick.

He could use some Tough Actin Tinactin too

He could use some Tough Actin' Tinactin too

0:55- 17-yard completion to Damian Williams.  He’s been wide open on every one of his receptions.

0:43- Havili hurdles a defender en route to a 7-yard gain.  He could start at tailback for a lot of programs.

1st and goal at the 10.  It’ll be interesting to see if the coaching staff puts the ball in Barkley’s hands.

0:34- Fade to Williams in the endzone.  Incomplete.  Nice throw by Barkley.

0:28- Pitch to McKnight.  He easily gets to the corner.  28-3 USC.

Halftime stats:

Matt Barkley 8/11 137 12.5 0 0
Joe McKnight 10 62 6.2 1 22
Allen Bradford 3 53 17.7 1 43
Stafon Johnson 6 27 4.5 2 9
Stanley Havili 2 10 5.0 0 7
Matt Barkley 2 -5 -2.5 0 1
Damian Williams 3 67 22.3 0 33
David Ausberry 2 37 18.5 0 27
Anthony McCoy 2 20 10.0 0 22
Stanley Havili 1 13 13.0 0 13

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Channing Frye’s Blog

Because it’s the greatest thing I’ve seen since LaGarrette Blount punched that guy here is the address to Channing Frye’s blog.



Funny guy…

I should add that I don’t condone what Blount did.  He embarassed the program and should be at minimum suspended.  It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the program going forward (this season and beyond).  A savvy person might see this incident as a way to make a national statement that players are held accountable at Oregon.  Nice little recruiting pitch to parents in the future, right?


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