Random Archive

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These Past Few Weeks

So, I figured that a Summer 2013 update was in order for all of the UOD followers out there. These past few weeks have been fairly hectic for me, but in a very good way!

One of the big things I’ve been working on has been an internship with the Investigation Discovery Channel. Last summer, I met a wonderful women who was the executive producer of an ABC show called Final Witness. I wasn’t able to work with her then due to time constrictions, but after staying in touch with her throughout the academic year, she was able to bring me on board her new project with Discovery ID.

The show is called The Bad Old Days, and it’s all about telling the true tales of crazy murderers and their unfortunate victims from the 1950′s and 1960′s. Beyond that, I’m not really able to say anything else other than I’ve been working nonstop as assistant to the locations manager and general pre-production, production and post-production assistant. The cast and crew has been doing loads of great work, and I’ve been learning quite a bit about shooting in and around NYC.

A beautiful sunset seen onset in upstate NY.

A beautiful sunset seen onset in upstate NY.

 

Other than that, my company, Passing Planes Productions, has been working on a few projects with some local businesses and companies. I don’t want to give anything away yet, but I should have some promotional and business tour videos up and available within the coming weeks. Be sure to like Passing Planes Productions on Facebook if you haven’t already!

A couple of other final updates include:

- I’ve made a Vine account–be sure to follow Danny Boy Scarpati

- A few ideas for some summer short films are in the works… stay tuned for more

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Who’s Sponsoring What, and Why?

In January 2009, BioShock 2 released for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Both a sequel and prequel to the original BioShock in a single player story and multiplayer story, respectively, fans across the globe rushed to stores to pickup their copies. After a few short months of offline single player campaign and online multiplayer gameplay, a downloadable content package (DLC, for short) was released on the consoles’ marketplaces. As fans downloaded the DLC, they realized that the size of the file they were downloading was 128.00 KB.

You don’t have to be a Computer Science major to know that anything in KBs is pretty small. Usually, Text Edit and Notepad notes are only 10KB or so. How could a full DLC package for a fifth-generation console game (complete with high-definition video and audio) only equate to 128.00 KB? It can’t. What the fans discovered was that they were downloading a virtual key of sorts that would unlock the DLC content which came pre-installed on the original game disc.

This sparked a large debate over what constituted “DLC” and what people were really paying for when they purchased a game. On one side, the content was already on the disc, and since people paid $59.99 for that disc, shouldn’t they have been allowed to access all of it? On the other side, the content was not pertinent to the single player or multiplayer experiences and only added to the overall experience, so didn’t the developers, 2K Games, have a right to moderate when the unlock code for extra content was released? In the end, no true verdict was reached, and people eventually just moved on to the next problems life threw at them.

Many were felt bothered and betrayed by the realization that they already owned the "new content" they were purchasing.

Many were felt bothered and betrayed by the realization that they already owned the “new content” they were purchasing.

 

In the case of the recent announcement of Sony’s PS4, a similar thing happened. People noticed that of the two posts published on BuzzFeed, one was “sponsored” by PlayStation while the other was not. Both appeared to be identical posts, minus a sponsor acknowledgment and off-white background color. The problem that arises from these two posts is that readers can’t be certain what is the true, objective opinion of the reviewer, or what is the information sponsored and written in by PlayStation’s own marketing team. Like with 2K Games, fans are left with a feeling of distrust towards the company.

Andrew Sullivan of The Dish writes that what’s not being respected here is the ” divide between editorial and advertizing,” a sort of unspoken boundary that exists, much like the separation of church and state. As times have changed and the line between journalism/criticism and industry advertising has widened and dissipated, it’s no longer clear what constitutes a totally unbiased piece of writing.

The infamous PS4 announcement was where the new PS4 controller was unveiled. Will we be able to navigate true journalism and editorial criticism with it? Or just loads of sponsored, influenced content?

The infamous PS4 announcement was where the new PS4 controller was unveiled. Will we be able to navigate true journalism and editorial criticism with it? Or just loads of sponsored, influenced content?

 

Editorial writing and media advertising need one another for both to survive, so sponsored content must continue to exist–without it, many companies wouldn’t be able to continue operating due to lack of funds. However when the two things become indistinguishable, “aren’t we in danger of destroying the village in order to save it?”

The Dish blog post can be read here.

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99% Certainty Is Not Foolproof

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are two super sly newscasters. They know exactly how the American people feel and what they want, they can play to just about any group or audience while basing statements exclusively off the facts (for the most part), and they’re just all-around funny guys. Who better to represent our country that these guys?

In an interview with Jim Cramer, the official commentator of Mad Money, a show about making easy money quickly, Stewart brings up key arguments against Cramer’s work and what he says his purpose is. Cramer says that he tries his best to expose and call out the people in high places (mainly, financial industry leaders and mavens) in order to get them noticed and held responsible for any illegal or distrustful actions. Stewart argues that while Cramer says this is what he’s doing, there is a serious second agenda that he and his show have (as well as the financial network that airs the show), which revolves around creating an entertainment show that tells some of the facts and acts like they care about the state of the economy and serious monetary decisions when they really don’t.

Stewart told Cramer that the money and finances that he's always talking about are very serious parts of our nation--"they're not a f***ing game." (Jon Stewart Interview)

Stewart told Cramer that the money and finances that he’s always talking about are very serious parts of our nation–”they’re not a f***ing game.” (Jon Stewart Interview)

 

Stewart uses clips from another interview with Cramer where he’s caught discussing financial decisions and practices that he seems to be against on his own show as an incentive to try and get him to speak freely. As Stewart attacked Cramer and the people he represented, I realized that he’s a heck of a lot like Will McAvoy from The Newsroom, a show which our Mass Media class is watching this semester. Like McAvoy, Stewart gets straight to the point and interrupts the interviewee every single time s/he goes off topic. It’s a form of questioning and investigative journalism that is almost completely unseen on regular news channels. On Fifth Estate shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, this kind of questioning is not only possible, it’s heavily desired.

This two-part interview with Jim Cramer can be viewed here.

As for Stephen Colbert, he interviewed Julian Assange, creator of WikiLeaks, a site devoted to releasing corporate and government secret documents and media to the United States public. Assange believes that what he’s doing is something that is and always has been a part of the flow of information to the people. By providing them with information that would otherwise be denied from them, the people have a freedom to know who did what when.

In a very similar manner to that of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert gets straight to the point with his statements and questions and allows no time to dance around the straight, hard answer, whatever it may be.

In a very similar manner to that of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert gets straight to the point with his statements and questions and allows no time to dance around the straight, hard answer, whatever it may be.

 

Colbert counters what Assange believes with some humor, but true humor at that. “Governments are elected based on what the people know about the government…if we don’t know what the government’s doing, we can’t be sad about it.” It seems funny at first, but there is some truth to this statement, especially in the fact that many people have a policy of ‘ignorance is bliss.’ Assange doesn’t believe in this kind of thinking, and feels that by reveling secrets to the public, he and the site can 1) provide the source of the leak with the maximum possible political impact, and 2) provide the public with the full, uncensored source material.

In the case that Colbert brings up involving a secret video of an Apache helicopter attack on innocent people in Baghdad, Assange makes it clear that he titled the video “Collateral Murder” to achieve maximum political effect for the source. “That’s not leaking. That’s a pure editorial,” Colbert responded.

The extended interview with Julian Assange can be viewed here.

These two video interviews lead to very serious questions about who has the right to edit what the public sees. Even though both appear to have only the best intentions for the American people, there are clear underlying motives to persuade and influence decision-making processes and opinions. As Dr. Alan Grant said in Jurassic Park III, “some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.”

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Shock Radio A.M.F.M.99.LifeF76Rock!@#$%^&*

The spoken word is a very powerful thing. That probably goes without saying (and is also probably a cliche way to begin a short blog post about shock radio), but I think that people often forget just how powerful it really is. It can command, objectify, transport, alter, move, kill, spark–just about everything that can happen in this natural world can be caused or begun by words.

In a clip from Talk Radio, Barry Champlain does something that isn’t very far from what most radio show hosts do today. He speaks directly to the audience (sometimes including himself in the congregation, sometimes not) and tells them what he thinks of them. Not only that, but Barry flat out tells them to go to hell–after all, his audience is made of “voyeuristic, perverted, hate-filled, prideful, sad little swine.” There’s no doubt that what he says is filled with his own self-pity, self-hate and disgust, but there is some insight amongst it all.

 

In a different clip from Pump Up The Volume, Mark Hunter also speaks directly to his radio audience in an extremely straightforward and blatantly offensive manner. Again, this is something that’s certainly both shocking and refreshing to listeners, but there’s serious insight amongst all that is said.

 

The insight that I’m referring to lies with the fact that “we create the experience.” That’s something that a teacher in my high school told me. He was and is, in my opinion, a crazy but amazing man, who doesn’t deal with whiny, fake, selfish people and things. He said “we create the experience” because we choose, every day, how to live our lives and how to react to things. We choose out words and our actions, and we choose how to interact with others.

Barry Champlain and Mark Hunter are definitely whiners, in a sense. However, they’re choosing to create a very real and non-invisible environment for themselves. By addressing the audience directly and saying flat-out how they feel about themselves and everyone they’ve encountered in their lives, they’re showing everyone that they’ve nothing to hide. Barry talks about how disgraceful the people of the world are for delving deeper and deeper into a social abyss of sorts; Mark talks about how if you don’t feel disturbed all of the time (living in the world that we’re all living in), then there’s something wrong with you. Both men are creating a very serious, shocking experience through words over radio.

I enjoy and appreciate what both are doing. They’re basically telling people to look at themselves and either make a choice: go higher or go lower. We’re already low enough, in a sense, so why not go higher? Why not try to start improving thing (our lives, our personalities, our mannerisms, etc.) and create better experiences for ourselves? I see no valid reason as to why anyone should go lower, so I’m definitely a believer of the more positive side of what can be found in what Barry and Mark are saying.

When an event comes along like the shooting at the Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church, an event caused by words (and shock words at that), it makes people really think about the power of words. Especially when those words directly involve popular political and social movements, which many people take extremely seriously.

 

I believe that Bill Moyers, among other things, speaks about what my high school teacher has always been speaking about: creating experiences. The terrible thing that the man who entered TUUC caused to happen was a strong and direct example of someone creating a very bad, negative, powerfully misguided and mislead experience. What that man chose to do may have stemmed from political beliefs, but it ultimately involves personal feelings and experiences. No matter who or what the man was or believed in (liberal, conservative, republican, democrat, devout church-goer, atheist), he chose to create a very specific experience and drag himself lower down than he already was–after the action, he ended up in jail facing major criminal charges. If he had only bettered himself and chose a different path–created a different experience–he wouldn’t be in jail and there wouldn’t be blood on his hands.

Radio talk shows, among other things, are very powerful ways to convey messages through spoken word, since they involve nothing BUT spoken word. There are no images or sound effects or background music tracks–only words and opinions. Harry, Mark and Bill, in my opinion, all seem to believe (in their own unique ways, of course) that this spoken word causes people to do different things, act different ways, create different experiences. And this is very much the truth and reality.

 

For the record, the way the clip from Talk Radio was shot is absolutely amazing. A continuous, full outward 360-degree camera tracking shot was a perfect way to get across the feelings Barry had inside of him–being watched from all sides, feeling judged, but also feeling like a judge himself.

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I’ll see you in another life, Raphael.

For those of my Macaulay friends and classmates who haven’t heard yet, our class year unfortunately lost a peer the other day. I didn’t know Raphael at all, which is unfortunate–even though his home campus was Baruch and mine is Brooklyn, it doesn’t mean that we weren’t connected. He was a member of the Macaulay Honors College community and my class, as well as the Scholars Council, a group that only does good, honest, hard work for the benefit of all of us.

I don’t know why this happened. I don’t know why this path was chosen, by whoever ended up making the final decision. I don’t know a lot about this tragedy, but I do know that there will be an empty seat at graduation because of this.

I pray that God takes him into His arms.

Rest in peace, brother. I’ll see you in another life.

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Losing Focus Movie Premiere

Losing Focus, a short film that I’ve been working on with fellow filmmaker Rosaria Cariola for a little over one year, finally premiered on December 16 at my alma mater, Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, Queens. I wanted to post about this sooner, but Sandy recovery, final exams and the holiday season are all been reasons why I haven’t been able to.

The premier started off with a quick “thank you for coming speech” and a short synopsis of the film everyone was about to watch. Losing Focus is the longest film that I’ve ever acted in, lasting over 30 minutes in runtime. It was pretty enjoyable to sit in an auditorium filled with well over 100 people and watch them as they watched our film–I don’t think there’s any other better feeling in the world than physically seeing others enjoy the work that you create/you’re a part of.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it to the premeire, you can visit the official Losing Focus Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LosingFocus?fref=ts.You can also view some behind the scenes and promotional videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/LosingFocusMovie, and you can watch the official trailer for the film right here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYZE6PyB73E

If your Like the Facebook Page, you’ll be kept in the loop on future web release information and how you can see the film or get a hold of a DVD copy of the film! Hope you all enjoy the content that’s available online already! =u)

Four of the five cast members and the co-directors, co-writers and co-producers of Losing Focus on stage at Christ the King Regional High School.

Four of the five cast members and the co-directors, co-writers and co-producers of Losing Focus on stage at Christ the King Regional High School.

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One Final 2012 Update–Happy New Year!

‎2012… What to say?

It’s been the worst of times and the best of times, at least in my opinion.

I could recap all the bad things that have happened in the past few months, but I don’t feel it’s necessary. What I do feel is necessary is talk about the GOOD of 2012: communities coming together, people volunteering more often, a nation working hard to rebuild and recover from a poor economic state, the breaking of dozens of records (like the highest free fall ever from space), the world NOT ending, and of course, the release of Gangnam Style. We’ve all survived a lot, and it’s good to know that we’re going into this new year together.

God Bless you all, God Bless the United States of America, Happy New Year to you and your families, and enjoy my last “new” film of 2012 (it’s something that was never finished, but deserves to be seen). I’ll see you all on the far side!

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Merry Christmas to All! I bring tidings of a new short film!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you have a fantastic holiday with friends and family–I think everyone deserves some cheer right about now (after all of the bad things that have happened in the past few months). I’d also like to give a big “Happy Birthday shout-out” to one of my main men, Jesus (that was pretty corny, I know). Can’t forgot about the man who made this holiday possible.

My sincere wishes of good tidings, comfort and joy go out to each and every one of your families and friends, as well as to the many families and friends of those who were not fortunate enough to be able to be here today. It’s sad to say, but I keep praying and hoping that all us NYers, NJersites and CTites will be back on out feet strong and better than ever soon.

As my gift to everyone who sees this page and/or reads my blog, here’s a short film that my friend Andre and I made before he left for USMC bootcamp at the beginning of November. I was made with Halloween in mind, but Hurricane Sandy made sure that THAT didn’t happen, so it’s our gift you today. Enjoy, and please share if you like!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS,

AND GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES. 

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The Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses Mini-Concert @ Nintendo World

Yesterday, September 14, Manhattan’s Nintendo World hosted a one-of-a-kind Legend of Zelda event for fans. The night featured a short info session on the history of the ocarina, the magical instrument that Link uses throughout many of the Zelda games, an ocarina tutorial with the legendary ocarina player, David Ramos, and a mini-concert version of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses tour.

David “docjazz” Ramos teaching Zelda fans about the ocarina.

 

As Nintendo and Zelda fans alike started lining up outside Nintendo World almost 24 hours early, they knew that this was going to be an event to remember! One of the most well-known Nintendo fans of all time, Triforce, even showed up to kick ass and play ocarina (but he was all out of ass). A big shout out to him for always rocking his Power Glove, and another big shout out to “Mii Man,” who made my experience on the line a much more enjoyable one. As Mii Man said, “we Nintendo fans are a family!”

One people starting moving into the store around 6:20pm, fans flocked towards the merchandise table and David Ramos’ ocarina booth. David Ramos taught everyone about the history of the ocarina while playing a few tunes. Believe it or not, the ocarina has been around for over 15,000 years, but it was first titled and used mainstream in Italy, making it an Italian wind instrument. It moved from the East to the West throughout the 20th century, and it was chosen to be used in Zelda (first used in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening) because of it’s calming, adventure-like nature. Below is a short video showcasing one of the songs he played alongside some of the Zelda fans who had ocarinas.

Ocarina Tutorial with David “docjazz” Ramos

The mini-concert with the Zelda Symphony Orchestra began closer to 7:15pm and lasted one full hour. There were at least 200 people inside Nintendo World, so space was very limited. Some lucky people found space to sit down on the floor, but most fans had to stand up the entire time. No one seemed to care much though, because the music that the orchestra produced was beautiful. They moved through a bunch of different games in the Legend of Zelda timeline and showcase some exquisite music (like the Shop Theme from Ocarina of Time and the fan-favorit Opening Theme from Skyward Sword).

The miniature version of the Zelda Symphony Orchestra!

 

After the concert ended, fans were able to visit a signing table with David Ramos and the creative team/conductor behind/of the Zelda Symphony Orchestra. I myself had my ticket signed, and I later framed it alongside my wristband and the Zelda 3D game card included with the 3DS. This event made for a magical night that brought together a lot of Nintendo fans. I truly enjoyed myself, and I hope that everyone else who attended had as much fun as I did. Thanks for your love, Nintendo!

My framed ticket, signed by the Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses team!

 

By the way, if you’re interested in seeing the real tour this November, all of the information you’d need can be found here: http://zelda-symphony.com/schedule.

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New College Year, New Driving Experiences

It’s official. Summer 2012 has ended (not the season, just the school break). Now that it’s back to school, I find myself having all sorts of new good and bad experiences while driving from my house in Queens to Brooklyn College. I’d like to share some of them with you today.

THE GOOD:

  • Driving in general – I’ve always felt that driving is something everyone should learn to do. It’s really not that hard when you get right down to it. The hard part is learning how to be safe on the road and how to prevent accidents/collisions (this is also the most IMPORTANT part). Those two things sound very threatening by themselves, and I believe that’s what turns most people off from learning to drive (or makes them feel that it’s much harder than it really is).If you can brave the infamous road test and master the skill, driving will eventually become just plain fun. Being in control of such a powerful metal machine is a really cool feeling. Just check out a recent Macaulay VLog of mine if you don’t believe me:

  • Peaceful alone time - At least in my case, driving to and from college is something that’s done alone. On an off day, I might feel bad about this lonely feeling, but most of the time, I think it’s really relaxing. Driving to and from school provides me with time to think, pray, eat, talk/sing to myself–whatever I’m in the mood to do at the time. It can be a way to relax, a way to get anger out, a way to plan or a way to just be. Maybe I’m going a little too ‘deep’ with this one, so I’ll just end it there, haha!
  • Party rocking – Most of the time I’m driving, I’m listening to the radio. Whether it’s 92.3, 100.3, 106.7 or my own iPod hookup, music makes driving awesome. Now I’m not one of those annoying jerks who BLASTS every song so that the car and all other vehicles and houses around it are shaking. No, I just play my music at a medium level so that way I can hear the tunes AND the road.

THE BAD:

  1. Speeders - Speeders love to go fast in areas where the shouldn’t be. The Belt Parkway (the highway I travel on everyday to get to school) is a prime example of a place where people go way, WAY too fast. Speeders also love to tailgate and honk repeatedly the nanosecond after a light changes to green. When I encounter a Speeder, I drive very slow. By doing that, they get pissed off and switch lanes to go and tailgate someone else. =)
  2. Reckless Drivers – Reckless Drivers don’t necessarily like to go fast, but they love to break the law. This includes changing lanes and/or turning without signaling, not stopping at Stop signs, braking at the last minute, running red lights and other things of the like. This is the group the causes the most accidents, by far. I’ve encountered many drivers that swerve in and out of lanes and speed through red lights, and almost every time I thank God that I didn’t witness an accident. Unfortunately, many of my friends do a lot of these things, despite my constant shouting and arguing against it. If I was a cop, I’d track down every bad driver I encountered and give them one heck of a ticket.
  1. People Who Have A License But Really Shouldn’t - We’ll say PLBS for short. PLBS are drivers who just don’t know how to drive. If I see a car on the road that has “Student Driver” plastered on all sides, then it’s no problem. But when I see cars that drive too slow (to the point where they can cause accidents), don’t know when to enter a lane from a highway entrance or can’t drive in a straight line, it’s unacceptable. PLBS also rarely signal turns. I can tell you right now that every Livery van driver in Brooklyn falls under this category.
  2. Salespeople and fundraising campaigns – This category is probably the least frequently occurring one on the list. It includes people who sell things on street sides (water, flowers, etc.) and people who are having fundraisers for random causes (little league baseball, children with diseases, cancer victims, etc). Also on the list are homeless people who sit roadside with sings that read, “No home, no job, no money.” I have no problem with people trying to make an honest buck or even people trying to raise money for whatever cause. The problem is when these people get angry. I’m sorry, but you are NOT allowed to be angry if a driver says, very respectfully and calmly, “No thank you, maybe another time.” Just the other day, I passed by a McDonalds that was having a fundraiser for a Brooklyn girl who unfortunately had a tragic accident that left her paralyzed. I didn’t know what this fundraiser was about at the time, nor did I have any money on me, so when one of the women at the fundraiser ran up to my window at a red light and shouted, “WANT TO HELP OUT A PARALYZED GIRL,” I respectfully and calmly said “I’m sorry, but no thank you. Maybe another time.” As soon as she heard me say no, the lady’s face went from happy to angry. She pulled her head right out of my window, said “Ahhhhhh, come on,” and hit my window with her ring hand. I heard a really loud crack and was worried my window was broken, but thankfully it wasn’t. I’m always for fundraising, especially since I did so much of it throughout my four years of Catholic high school, but when one of the people at the fundraiser gets angry because you say “no thanks” and then hits your car, I’m not happy at all.

THE UGLY:

  • BMWs – I saved this one for last and even gave it its own category because boy oh boy does it deserve it. BMWs are great cars. From mechanics and family who’ve owned them, I hear that they drive great and don’t really have many issues (until they start getting old, but I digress). They also cost a lot and go really fast, another thing people like about them. Unfortunately, these traits seem to draw out the worst drivers imaginable. Almost 95% percent of the time I see a BMW on the road, they do something dangerous, reckless and harmful to every driver around them. They’re always the cars that go way too fast. They’re always the cars with the tinted out windows and super-bright headlights. They’re always the cars that turn without signaling, run Stop signs and traffic lights, and swerve in and out of lanes. They’re the worst. Unfortunately, BMW’s clientele have turned me off from every buying or promoting the sale of a BMW, and I’m positive that you’ll feel the same way if you’re a safe driver like me.

Well, that about sums up my driving experiences in and around Queens and Brooklyn. If you’re a safe driver like me (and I’m saying that with humbleness and humility), you hopefully feel the same way about these things.

If you’re new to driving, don’t be afraid of the road! Just be careful and you’ll find yourself driving very professionally and calmly in no time. And if you’ve been driving safely, then keep up the good work!

I’ll see you on the road.