Archive for ‘Snippets from life’

July 23, 2010

Rusko


Last night I saw Rusko live for free at the Red Circle Lounge in San Diego. That’s right. The world-famous, England-native dubstep DJ himself — FOR FREE. And the show was incredible. I wanted to describe the show on the blog, but some experiences are best communicated by experiencing them yourself.

Here’s a video from when Rusko was in British Columbia. Watch at least a minute of it, and you’ll see about what last night was like.

Dubstep is one of those things you either love or hate. I love it. I love the way the bass hits you hard, but in a refreshing way, like a blast of water. I love the way so many songs I like can be remixed to fit the genre’s BPMs and rhythm. I love the tension of the build up, and the release of the drop. I love the way you can memorize the beats the way you memorize song lyrics, and how the beats can elicit the same type of emotion lyrics do.

The best way to experience any electronic dance music is to hear it live. Rusko, for example, is great when I’m YouTube-ing his mixes. But there’s no comparison to in person. He skillfully intertwines songs and produces incredible bass lines, but the best part is the way he and the crowd feed off of each other. The relatively small crowd last night didn’t know the exact list of songs he planned for his set, but the way they danced showed they could feel where he was taking them with the music, with every build up, drop and wobble. There weren’t many lyrics in the songs, so it was clear that the experience he wanted the crowd to have was based on the music.

Obviously, not everyone will like EDM. But the music can be really cool. So here are some of the tracks that got me hooked. These are all remixes of songs you may have heard. Try it out, and see if you don’t instantly want to dance.

Rusko’s remix of “Pro Nails”

TC remix of “Nothin’ on You”

Rusko’s remix of “Remedy”

Borgore’s remix of “Sleepyhead”

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July 16, 2010

(partial) STORY — Mission Valley fire burns four acres


See the full story here.

My contribution

As the fire continued to burn, parked cars lined both sides of Camino del Rio North near the Courtesy Chevrolet business as motorists stopped to observe and snap pictures of the fire.

In the 15 minutes Jack Ahrens of Pacific Beach had been standing there, the 29-year-old witnessed the quickest fire he’s ever seen. Ahrens was on his way to go shopping when he spotted the flames.

He saw firefighters scurry from the top of the hill to attack the flames and watched as helicopters, which were scooping water out of the nearby San Diego River, made drop after drop.

“I’m definitely nervous for the people who live up there,” he said.

Ahrens said he saw people on Interstate 8 almost getting into wrecks because people were stopping to watch the fire.

View from my cubicle at the Union-Tribune. Notice the houses at the top of the hill.

Random observations

The California summer is everything it’s cracked up to be. The intense desert heat, the flaming sun rays that feel like fire on your face. And of course, the real fires. I witnessed my first today.

The herd of journalists crowding around the window beside my desk signaled the arrival of the dreaded flames. I’d barely had time to snap a picture before someone volunteered me to rush to the scene and get some reactions.

What I saw can only be described as a ballet. The organization and precision with which the city reacted was a dance choreographed both by familiarity with summer blazes and respect for their power.

The swooping planes and the scurrying firefighters pushed back and forth against the fluid fire, rapidly making its leaps up the hill near houses and hotels in University Heights. The helicopters meticulously rushed in and out like a flowing tide. Each shield of water they dropped sent another sizzle into the already rising smoke, which looked like dirty translucent sheets ruffling in slow motion.

Less graceful were the reactions of passersby. Traffic jams and confused or worried pedestrians filled the streets and sidewalks. A contingent of police officers directed the congested motorists and vainly tried to stop people from walking toward the flames. But they had to work or get their cars or meet friends or go to hair appointments and wouldn’t be stopped for the fire that appeared almost choked out.

The activity of the area slowly ebbed out into other parts of the city as the water flowed to the earth and proved its dominance over the flaring hillside. But left behind, with the smoke still rising, was an ashen patch of scortched ground stretching from the top of the hill to the bottom.

June 22, 2010

If a tree falls in the forest, but no one hears it…


Caution: The video is really stupid but guaranteed to knock you out of writer’s block.

If you write something, but no one reads it, does it exist?

Looking at my measly blog stats (my best day has been about 40 views), I wondered what the secret to a successful blog is. What is the technique that, when appropriately employed, makes your writing irresistible? What is the skill that, when you learn it, allows you to create tantalizing pieces of literary magic that draws an addicted following of readers?

Unfortunate for a budding writer is the fact that there isn’t a formula for writer fame. If there was, someone would have figured it out, written a book and made a million dollars turning every Lucy N. O’grammar into the next Shakespeare. Then who would we young English and journalism majors look up to, when everyone knows how to write well enough to earn a loyal following? How would high school English teachers craft a list of books for the year from so many viable options?

Of course, there have been tons of articles that can give you the best shot to write well. I’ve even read articles about giving your blog the best chance to be read. But nothing is certain, and often I feel the secret ingredient is elusive luck.

I did have one glimmer of an epiphany amid my cynical musings about the hopelessness of anyone caring about my blog posts enough to make unsolicited future visits. You see, looking at the list of “referrers” on my blog stats, I determined most views came from either Facebook friends or my family. And I thought to myself that probably the only reason those people were reading was because they know me.

…Because they know me.

Hmm.

It’s easier for famous writers to maintain an audience, because people already know who they are (not to mention they’re really talented). But for the rest of us, if someone knows you and you don’t bore them to tears, they’ll read your writing, at least once. So you have that one chance to prove your stuff is worth reading. Step number one to getting and audience.

Step number two: show any strangers who wander across your carefully-constructed words who you are through that writing. Is that possible? Is it possible to display yourself well enough through writing that they care about you (at least subconsciously) and want to read more?

Maybe those are all silly questions, but this line of thinking inspired me to find ways to convey myself in everything I produce, whether a routine news story or a creative piece for an English class. After all, there are countless writers out there that have the mechanics to pound out some solid copy. And, there are almost no original ideas left. It’s all been done before. The difference is who’s writing.

I realize this idea is itself something that’s been said by writing coaches in the past, but it’s my challenge to myself — to leave a piece of who I am in whatever I do.

I’ve often described how I feel about my writing by saying my stories are like my children. But really, a more accurate description is that they are extensions of myself, left out there for the world to absorb or discard, to savor or ignore.

So in the future, when trying to make even mundane stories interesting, I’m going to do that by giving them personality — mine.

June 14, 2010

“Them”


The L.A. Pride 2010 parade was going on not far from where I stayed in West Hollywood this weekend. I’ve never been to one before, so I went with a few friends.

There was a protest and counter protest going on. I heard people (on both sides of the gay rights isssue) yell at other people that God hates them, and they’re going to hell.

I’d never witnessed that kind of exchange before, and it broke my heart. What exactly does condemning someone to hell accomplish?

“… I think I know enough of hate/ To say that for destruction ice/Is also great/And would suffice.”

—Robert Frost

On a lighter note…

I saw a lot of interesting shoes and tried to capture as many as I could while walking down Santa Monica Boulevard. Here are some of the highlights. I wish I could show you all of them.

May 29, 2010

A missed chance


“People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.” —Sheila McKechnie

There was a homeless woman who just walked into Starbucks, and I really want to know her story.

At first, I wasn’t sure if she was actually homeless, because like everything else in San Diego, she looks like a contradiction. Instead of a grocery cart, she used a relatively new brown suitcase with another bag attached to the handle.

She wore a dirty, torn bandana over her hair. But just above her face — which revealed her flustered emotions and the worn features common to the homeless — she wore a pure white visor, like she was expecting to play a game of tennis later. She was muttering to herself and breathing hard as she picked up an ungodly amount of napkins, but not in a way that made me nervous.

Above her nude tank top, she had a beautiful red and orange short scarf tied stylishly, though hastily, around her neck. But for her pants, she wore cutoff, dirty sweatpants. I didn’t have time to catch her shoes because she hurried out the door too quickly.

I wondered what her background was. I wondered if her stylish clothing and baggage were remains of a more fortunate past or if she’d picked them up somewhere along the way, just like the napkins. Was she from San Diego? Where was she going? Is she alone?

What were the napkins for?

Once out the door, she paced a short distance back and forth in confusion before deciding which direction she wanted to go. She tucked the napkins in her luggage before she started walking.

And now she’s gone. I have no picture.

I wish I would have talked to her.

May 26, 2010

California Dreamin’


“As one went to Europe to see the living past, so one must visit Southern California to observe the future.” —Alison Lurie

On Saturday, I arrived in San Diego. On Monday, I started my internship at the San Diego Union-Tribune. Also on Monday, I got a byline on a blog post and a contributing line on a front-page story. On Tuesday, I got four stories to look into, three of which will probably pan out.

I love California.

There’s nothing like working around seasoned professionals at a daily metro newspaper to show you just how far you have to go. This summer, I expect to work hard and learn even harder. I hope to improve on the depth of my stories and my ability to produce breaking news stories quickly. I’m also going to study how the U-T incorporates social media into its news coverage, so I can bring that knowledge back to the Herald for its never-ending quest to keep up with the technological times.

Oh, and the weather is absolutely fantastic.

Article of the Day

Huge Gap Remains Between Mainstream Media and the Social Web

The reason this caught my attention is that — like I said before — we’re really trying to step up how we use social media on the Herald’s website. Though a college newspaper’s audience is slightly different from a national newspaper’s, I think the concepts presented are important to consider. Incorporating social media is of no use if no one’s looking at it. It goes back  to the idea of balancing what readers need to know and what they want to know. The information in this article is interesting because it’s helpful in determining a better profile of who that audience of social media users is. I haven’t quite decided how we at the Herald could use this information, but it’s something to watch out for.

On that note…

That article and a team meeting at work today snapped me into an editor-in-chief frenzy. I started scribbling ideas and notes to myself about all the things that need to be done before the fall/changes we should make. A big (though not particularly original) one was thinking of stories as packages. It’s something we’ve sort of talked about as a staff before, but the U-T takes it more literally. In their story-submission system, reporters create “packages” with the story slug. Then the story and any visuals are dragged into the “package” to link the whole thing together. That kind of literal packaging made me realize that I really want reporters and photographers to not think of their work as isolated from everything else in the paper. The paper is a unit. At the very least, reporters should pitching the visuals for their stories.

That’s all for now. I should have a post tomorrow about the (non) progress I’m making on my thesis (writing realistic fiction about six famous journalists). But that depends on actually getting some work done for it.