Monday, November 17, 2008

Vlogging

After a boring weekend filled with more school work than I usually care to do, its time for a blog. I took a trip last week with Nate to Staples to buy a webcam. The reason? One of my best friends is teaching in Spain this year and he bugged me into getting one so we could Skype. I'm a bit late on the Skype-wagon but I already love it. Having only had a webcam for a few days I've already conversed across the globe with my friend in Spain, across the country with my sister in Boulder, and across the Peninsula with Nate.

Talking with someone through a computer screen is weird. Ah the technology! I soon began to think about other uses of webcams and how a lot of people use them to vlog. After hopping on the blog bandwagon I've decided to start a vlog. Just kidding. But I would like to digress on the subject.

There's something about experiencing a real person that's gives a sense of who that person is. And experiencing a video of a person is the next best thing to seeing him or her in the flesh. When a person vlogs as opposed to blogs, what they're essentially doing is recording a message to the world. Its a peculiar phenomenon.

With this in mind, I've picked up a few subscriptions to vlogs over my time as a Youtube member. I think the most interesting vlogs are the ones of real people. The vlogs that don't have any production value or edits are my favorites. These blogs are just normal people throwing part of themselves out to the world... in the form of a video on Youtube.

I did a search tonight for "First Vlog" on Youtube and pulled up about 10 videos. These three are the most intersting:

Vlog #1
A 16 year old kid with braces talks briefly about his small town life. He apparently has an "online reputation" as a blogger. Interesting...


Vlog #2
A 12 year old girl from what sounds like Britain talks about giving too much information out on the internet... and her love of eating. Weird as hell.


Vlog #3
An American college student vlogs while studying abroad in Holland. She mostly gives out tips to people who want to study abroad but I'll go ahead and assume the vlog's partly giving her friends and family a way to keep up with her.


I could surf Youtube all day looking at these first vlogs, and I might even keep tabs on a few. But here are two vlogs I've seen before. I subcribe to both of these guys but I rarely check their vlogs out:

Vlog #4
This is one of the saddest videos I've seen. The guy's name is Alonzo and he's a graphic artist/designer. His blogs are mostly uplifting, he's religious, and a bit nerdy. His youtube name is AVTpro, and this vlog was made the day after his mom died.

Its kind of shocking to see someone talk so openly and publicly about something so personal. I almost felt uncomfortable watching it. But its definitely a way to deal with problems. From surveying his vlogs, Alonzo comes off as a really nice guy and its horrible to see something bad happen to him.

Vlog #5
To end on an uplifting note, the last vlog of note in this blog will be one by Benny Coma. According to his blog, Benny "is available, for a nominal fee, to legally perform weddings, funerals, and non-denominational bar mitvahs". He mostly does sketches but this video is a bit different. I don't know if it actually counts as a vlog because its actually just a guy singing a song to a webcam, but I'll count it anyway. The song is called Olive and he wrote it for his daughter. Someday she'll be happy he did this.


I've joked before about making a documentary about vlogs. The weirdest thing to me is that young kids are really into this stuff. To think your entire life could be chronicled on the internet... this notion will undoubtedly be a reality for some. The internet blows my mind.

Though its not likely that I'll ever start a vlog of my own, I do appreciate them. Anyway, a blog's good enough for me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

TV Review: Summer Heights High

Last night I had the chance to watch the first episode of Summer Heights High, a satirical Australian comedy series recently picked up by HBO. The show follows a flamboyant drama teacher, a female exchange student, and an absurdly immature bully all played by actor/writer Chris Lilley.

Packed with wholly inappropriate and politically incorrect jokes, this show was destined to end up on HBO.

Though this series is a comedy, any tv/film dealing with the subject matter of high school will surely include themes and situations we've already seen (or even worse experienced). But the thing that sets this show apart from others is its faux-documentary format. The mockumentary genre is usually reserved for film.

If nothing else this show will prove to successfully emulate the look and structure of a documentary... about high school life like you've never seen it before. Therefore expect no conventional television plot from Summer Heights High as the 30 minute episodes consist of quick humorous interwoven scenes almost exclusively involving the three main characters.

With only seeing the introductory episode, I think the thoughtless humor and lack of plot are conducive to fast paced entertainment, but these things take away opportunities to sing to the moral wants/needs of the audience, which is the theoretical reason people enjoy watching film/tv. When the characters aren't tried by worthy causes, when they don't have a chance to be express themselves through anything more than dick jokes, I can't help but get the impression that Summer Heights High is just another sign of the times where ultra-dumb humor rises above the rest. Don't get me wrong, its fun in short doses but not worthy of a stellar review.

The other problem I had with this show was the pace of the editing. There are far too many cuts. What happened to the good old days when cutting between one shot and another would convey something. I know this is television for the face-book generation but in my opinion cuts should be made for a better reason than simply keeping attention deficit-ed (new word, yeah! sorry I lost my train of thought) viewers from switching the channel.

If you believe watching television should be little more than pure entertainment, then Summer Heights High is for you. As immature as the humor is, its filled with plenty of laugh out loud moments. And on a final note, its impressive to see that an unknown actor (at least in the States) has somehow written and starred 3 times in a single show.

The Good: Jokes push the limit of being in really bad taste.

The Bad: Face value humor and an obnoxious editing detract from any sort of meaningful viewing experience.

The Ugly: When I said offensive jokes were good... that doesn't include the ones making fun of handicapped kids.

Watch this show if: You need to stop thinking for 30 minutes... and have HBO. If not there's always MTV or Youtube.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The City Green Online


The City Green from Jesse Berger on Vimeo.

After weeks of procrastinating I finally put The City Green online tonight. Though Youtube is my preferred online video service I used Vimeo because the film is over the 10 minute limit for Youtube uploads. I'm not a fan of watching films online partly because the quality is worse but more because its hard to concentrate when you're sitting in front of a computer. Oh well, enjoy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election 08

Guess who I voted for?