Monday, February 24, 2014

Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein, or Uncle Shelly for the little ones, is a poet, playwright and musician who had a knack for fun simple rhymes. He diversely applied this technique to children's poetry (for which he's most famous) and adult-themed situational comedy, in songs and one-act plays. Known for his bald head and imposing beard, he rejected society's notion of visual conformity and embodied an attitude showing a "harsh and real" version of himself, in voice and in appearance.

Silverstein's willingness to buck the "nice" norms of society are extremely inspiring, and continues to give generations permission to play with the way the world seems through his poetry and beyond.

Shel Silverstein was born in 1930, and died in 1999, just three years after publishing his final book, "Falling Up." Twelve of Shel Silverstein's books have been published, including "Where the Sidewalk Ends," "A Light in the Attic," and "The Giving Tree." Less famous are his albums, which included "Boy Named Sue and Other Country Songs" in 1969, the title track of which was later popularized by Johnny Cash. He also wrote more than 100 one-act plays, which have started to be canonized and produced by various theater groups around the country under umbrellas such as "An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein" or "Shel Shocked."

Some web resources to delight your Shelly bone are found below:

The Official Shel Silverstein Page

This is an informative site featuring Shel Silverstein's black-and-white hand-drawn style, with information about his life, his works, and some games that were put together out of Shelly creations.

Shel Silverstein on the Johnny Cash Show (youtube)

A recorded video of Shel Silverstein on "The Johnny Cash Show" on April 1, 1970. Shel and Johnny perform a verse of "Boy Named Sue" together, and then Shel Silverstein performs a children's song called "Daddy, What If."

Some Uncle Shelly Poems

Thirteen of Silverstein's poems are available on this website, hosted by a Weber State University professor.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


 I've chosen to share my love for Blind Melon with the class. Shannon Hoon (lead singer and songwriter) is my greatest inspiration. His lyrics resonate with his bleak perspective of the world and dark sense of humor. However, he writes songs with an upbeat tempo and you simply can't resist singing along. His music seems initially cheerful until you are able to fully comprehend his message. I feel as though I relate to him and his view of the world. He allows me to have this somber perspective, enjoy a wonderful tune, and his unique, incredible voice all at the same time. It certainly makes it seem less sad.

Here are some websites that only merely capture his greatness:

This website gives you a history of Shannon Hoon. It begins at his birth and visits subjects like his role as a father and his heavy drug abuse.,,299375,00.html

This Entertainment Weekly Article announces his death.,2370344

This article also announces his death. More importantly, it delves into the effects of Hoon's drug use on the band, Blind Melon.

Eminem, Marshal Mathers, Slim Shady. Where to begin? One of the most debated recording artists of all time, with an attitude and a drug problem, Eminem makes for one hell of a role model. When I was young I first started to listen to Eminem and fell in love with his music. Unfortunately at the time I was not old enough to comprehend the explicit lyrics he would scream into the microphone, but I certainly regurgitated them as if they were my own. (So much so it would get me into trouble). Personally, I believe that Eminem is one of the most underrated musicians of all time, his skill level surpasses those still recording today, and his lyrical intelligence matches the greatest minds of all time. His music describes the life of an abused child, a drug addicted teen and the life of a white rapper is a primarily African-American culture. Something I could never relate to, but still feel a connection when I listen to his music.

This is the most compelling album I have ever listened to, it talks about drug addiction and the struggle of growing up a small kid in a big world. This was the album I fell in love with, each track tells a different story, from a different high, to a different struggle. 

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. "Eminem (American Musician)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. This was an article i read when I was first getting into rap music. This inspired me to listen to Eminem, and really understand the life he went through to get to where he is today. This also gives readers the chance to respond to the criticism and hype he receives on a daily basis. 

"Eminem." MTV Artists. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. MTV is a great source to view older articles about Eminem, from his arrests during the early years of his career, to his original songs and underground mix tapes that he composed before becoming who he is today. 

"EMINEM." N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. This is Eminem's home page, a cite where fans can follow the latest news, music, and tours. Its also a place where fans can exchange thoughts about Eminem and articles including family life and home struggles he may be going through. 

Dragon Ball Z Abridged

So this is going to be an unusual choice, but the artists I would like to highlight are Team Four Star, a YouTube channel run by Takahata101, Kaiserneko, and Lanipator (they do not share their real names). The channel has become quite a hit, and I think they are a very good representation of the new kinds of art that are becoming possible thanks to technological advances. The genius of Team Four Star comes from their ability to take existing material, most successfully in the case of the anime Dragon Ball Z, and redub the voices, and recut the images and create and entirely new work of art.

This is easier to understand if you have seen the anime Dragon Ball Z (and if you haven't, then you obviously had a very different childhood than me). Team Four Star does not add any new images to the footage they are working with. They simply edit each scene so that the order of events are rearranged, or cut out entirely. This, combined with the new dialogue that they write themselves, makes it possible to create a new series that has an entirely different plot, tone, characters, and themes.

When they first started out, back in 2008, you can tell that the process of rearranging clips of Dragon Ball Z into a new, yet still coherent story, was a work in progress. The early episodes, while still funny, are not as seemless or professional looking as more recent ones. Team Four Star has been producing Dragon Ball Z Abridged for over 5 years now, and you can tell just how much they have improved. If you are familiar with Dragon Ball Z already, I would recommend starting with Episode 31 (linked above). This episode represents the start of the 3rd "season" and I think would be more likely to hook new fans. People already familiar with Dragon Ball Z (which I imagine represents 99% of Team Four Stars audience) will recognize the characters and the major events of the plot, but they will also see how much more adult and clever the dialogue has become. 

I think the fact that Team Four Star has updated a beloved anime for an adult audience is the key to their success. There are many millennials who grew up with DBZ and have fond memories of it. Team Four Star has taken that anime and inserted adult themes and language very successfully. It hits all of the nostalgia notes of the original anime, yet provides the perverse pleasure of hearing Bulma shout "you motherfucker!" at Vegeta. The ability of three people (who all live in separate states) to reedit and redub a cartoon with professional quality equipment was not feasible until recently. The democratization of art through technology is opening all kinds of new opportunities for artists to get their name out. 

The Official Team Four Star Website can be found at:
The Website is badly in need of a redesign. On a recent video Team Four Star promised a new, more polished layout soon, so hopefully by the time you click the link, the new redesigned website will be up. 

The Team Four Star YouTube Channel can be found at:
This is where most fans go. The YouTube channel actually has more content than the website, and is easier to access. 

Team Four Star also puts out an abridged series based on the anime Hellsing Ultimate, though at a much slower pace than they put out DBZ Abridged episodes. This series is extremely funny in its own right, though it does not get nearly the same attention since Hellsing does not have a the cultural cache of DBZ. 

James Cameron

James Cameron is a critically acclaimed Canadian filmmaker who is known for directing some of the top grossing films of all time. His most popular movies Titanic and Avatar are ranked number 1 and 2 on the list of all time worldwide box office grosses, both of which racked up over 2 billion dollars! Titanic, released in 1997 was the first film to ever make over a billion dollars. It received 14 Academy Award nominations and Cameron himself was awarded three Oscars for best director, best film editing, and best picture.

Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time which has earned Cameron two Golden Globe wins for best director and best motion picture. Avatar brought James Cameron's work to my attention and is my favorite film of all time because it is the movie that sparked my interest in sci-fi films. I was very excited to hear that he is planning on creating a few sequels to Avatar, the next one is set to be released in december of 2014. Other popular films directed by James Cameron include movies such as True Lies, and the Terminator and Aliens series'. James Cameron is also well known for being a deep-sea explorer who has been on over 70 deep-sea expedition including exploration of the shipwrecked Titanic and a record breaking solo dive in the deepest trench in the world, the Mariana's trench. Cameron is also the founder of his production company known as Lightstorm Entertainment.

This link leads to a short biography about James Cameron's life and work including his major films and deep-sea expeditions.

This site is a National Geographic webpage which covers James Cameron's passions of filmmaking and diving. The site talks about how he explored the sunken titanic to accurately portray it in his film as well as his contributions to the scientific community.

This website is a fan-site which contains an extensive biography about his life and his career as a filmmaker. This website also has many photos of James Cameron throughout his life as well as photos of his artwork for films.

created by: Thomas Wellman



ODESZA is a Seattle based duo that produce and mix their own tracks. The duo includes Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight who are also known from their stage names "Catacombkid" (Mills) and "BeachesBeaches" (Knight). After graduating from Western Washington University, the two Bellingham based boys went to Seattle to start  a recording project. They released their first, and my personal favorite album, Summer's Gone. Their sound is calm, with smooth melodies matched on top of a hard bassline and psychedelic like vocals, their sound is a great addition to the electronic music community. Some of their tracks have claimed a number 1 spot on the Hype Machine Popular Chart. ODESZA has released other albums, such as, My Friends Never Die EP. They have toured with artists Pretty Lights, and Michal Menert, and have performed at the Sasquach Music Festival in 2013. 

So, why ODESZA? As most have never heard of this duo, let alone know how to pronounce their name, they have inspired me and kept me going through my own hardships. The calmness of their sound helps me relax in the busiest of days, and the base and vocals also hype me up on my walk to campus in the morning. I believe that DJs, and music producers are extremely talented, even though they are not using their own voices or their own instruments, the ability to mix and combine sounds so smoothly into one final product is an amazing skill to have, and I have a high respect for it. The EDM and techno music genres are expanded from  groups like ODESZA because they have a calmer sound than most of the hard trap sound most associate with these genres. is ODESZA's personal website, here you can look at their biography, more about the artists, you can listen to some of their releases. Personally, I found out more about where they've performed and I found out some of the artists they've worked with that I did not previously know about. this website you can listen to their released tracks, and mixes they have produced. Also, they share facts about tours, how they originated, and just general information about them. This is a great site to really get a feel for what they do.
Usually, I don't consider facebook as being a reference for anything except for maybe somebody's relationship status. But 
since Odesza is so local and is still a growing duo, there isn't a lot of online resources about them specifically, or that are 
accurate for that matter. This site shows again, what they produce, and a breif history, but also provides links and additional
information that is not on their personal website. 

Tim Bergling (Avicii)

Tim Bergling (Avicii) 

Avicii began to gain popularity in the online world around 2010. A few years after this is when I was beginning to become exposed to dubstep. The song Levels by Avicii is still one of my favorites. The song has a great beat that is very catchy. Even now, the song has not gotten old. Another thing that I really like about Avicii is that his songs are quite unique and include many different beats, tones, and mixes of musical styles. A great example of this is in the song Silhouettes. In this song, he features a women’s voice, which adds a lot to the piece.
Recently, Avicii has produced two songs that I think are incredibly well done. The songs Wake Me Up and Hey Brother are much different than his prior work. They include more lyrical emphasis and seem less of a dubstep style. However, with this being said, Avicii still is able to include a very captivating beat in both pieces. Both songs seem to have depth in the stories they are telling. As for me and probably for many other people, these two songs really resonated with me.

This site gave me insight into some things about Avicii I didn’t already know. For one, it showed me that Tim Bergling, stage name Avicii, is a fairly young artist. The site states that Avicii started out by practicing and preforming in his own house, so it is inspiring to see how far he has come.

Wikipedia actually surprisingly has the most information on Avicii that I was able to find. There is a detailed report of his music focus over his career from start to present.

I thought this site was interesting because it explains how Avicii collaborates with different people to make his songs. He does the beats while he lets other people sing. Although this site is just someones opinion, I think it is valuable.