New Music

I’ve been in search of some new music lately. After a while, I get a little antsy with the music I listen to because I’ve listened to it so many times before (that’s not to say I don’t still like it, but every once and a while you need something new). Luckily for me, there’s this fantastic website called NoiseTrade that gives you downloads of music (with the artists’ permission) either for free or in exchange for a donation for that artist. It’s mostly lesser known artists, but it’s all fantastic music. They recently put an album on the website from Matthew Mayfield. A couple of years ago, I went to a NeedToBreathe concert and Matthew Mayfield opened for them. He’s pretty amazing. After the show, he stood in the lobby and handed out his album, Now You’re Free. I’ve pretty much loved his music ever since. But the album that was just put on NoiseTrade is 72 Songs | Every Release. This means every song Matthew Mayfield has ever released. It’s pretty incredible. A lot of these songs I had already from his other albums/EPs, but some of them I’m hearing for the first time. Whenever I get a new album, I get really excited about music. This album especially has been perfect for studying and everything lately (Funny story: I’ve been listening to all of my Matthew Mayfield music and I noticed that some of the songs I haven’t listened to in a while I played a year ago. Basically that means that Matthew Mayfield is the best at getting me through finals). Anyways here’s one of my new favorites off this album:

This is the live version, but it’s still just as good. And here’s his cover of “Ring of Fire.” Just so amazing.

I really like his music because of the acoustic sound. He doesn’t have a lot of songs that are over-produced. And really, it’s just such. good. music. Please listen to this guy because he’s so talented and more people need to hear him.


It’s that time of year again…tests et. al. I have a big test today that I’ve been studying for like crazy. I made close to 150 flashcards…just on vocabulary. It’s funny because it didn’t feel like we were going over a lot of material these past couple of weeks. I think I’ll do okay – I have to remind myself that I know more than I think I know. I used to watch this show (let’s be honest, I still watch it on Amazon Instant) called Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. It’s about three best friends in middle school just trying to get through the years. Ned, the main character, has a guide full of tips about how to survive school. I kind of wish I had a guide full of tips for this time of year. I may have done this multiple times over, but finals never really get easier (they actually usually get harder). It’s always stressful to have projects, tests, everything piling up at once.  In times like these, I live pretty much in the moment (it’s the only way not to get too stressed out). I think, okay, I’ll just take this test, and then I can focus on everything else. Don’t worry, I’ll make it through unscathed, but happy thoughts would help. And chocolate. Definitely chocolate.

The Malted Falcon

As one of our class assignments, I created a Twitter Bot, The Malted Falcon.  I initially got the idea about taking a famous movie quote and replacing a word with something else.  I consulted AFI’s “100 Years…100 Movie Quotes” and decided to use the famous quote from The Maltese Falcon, “The stuff that dreams are made of.” Last year, I read the book for class, and although I haven’t seen the movie all the way through, this quote is definitely representative of the theme of the book. I started thinking that if I changed “dreams” to a different word, it would change the quote, but still make it recognizable enough. My first thought was that it’d be funny to change it to names of recipes. I tried to find a list of recipes on Food Network’s website, but was unsuccessful. After some Internet searching, I came across a PDF of all the recipes from Alton Brown’s show Good Eats.  I fiddled with the formatting and eventually was able to put the first 52 or so recipes into my bot’s vocabulary so that it would replace “dreams.”  From there, I needed to change the name of my Twitter Bot. The first thing that came to mind was “The Malted Falcon” – part food, part movie. I’m pretty happy with what my bot has tweeted so far. I might add more to its vocabulary in the future, but so far I think it’s doing pretty well!




Reflection: Jane McGonigal

We recently watched a talk by Jane McGonigal at the Ted Talks entitled “Gaming can make a better world.”  In this talk, McGonigal discussed how she believes that gaming creates better people who are better equipped to fix the problems in the world.  Overall, I think that McGonigal’s talk had some valid points that she backed up with solid facts.  She initially talks about the biggest problem with gamers: they don’t believe they can do in the real world what they can do in games.  Even if gamers can change the world in a game and solve all the problems affecting people, they don’t believe they can do the same in the real world.  This is one of McGonigal’s overarching points, and is one of the things she wants to try to fix.  I especially like how she ties back into this point by describing how people use games now to avoid their everyday problems as a means of escapism.  It’s these actions, McGonigal argues, that limit the ability of games and gamers to change the world.  If there were games that helped solve problems in the real world, then by playing these games, gamers could change the world.  Games do not have to be means of escaping; rather they can be problem-solving.  Moreover, the fact that there are so many virtuosos in gaming now, McGonigal argues, is another reason that we as a society should be looking at games as a way to solve problems.  Because so many people are so good at playing games, utilizing this resource would not only help us solve problems, but would also help us solve problems faster.  McGonigal’s talk raised some good points about the future of gaming in problem-solving solutions.  Her talk was well-researched and had a strong argument.  Overall, I really enjoyed McGonigal’s talk and I believe she has a keen insight into the future of gaming.

Catching Fire

I saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire this past weekend. It was so good! I’ve read the book, and I think the movie stayed very true to the spirit of the novel.  There were a few changes between the book and the movie, but I don’t think they made a huge difference in the narrative of the story or the overall feel of the movie.  Entertainment Weekly has a really good list of the differences here. I know a lot of people find the premise of The Hunger Games to be disturbing.  While I think that is a good point, I really like to look at the books from the standpoint of the criticism they make of society.  For an English major, I always love analyzing the deeper meaning behind novels.  Although sometimes I think we can get a little ridiculous about analyzing literature, I definitely think looking at the societal context of a novel can really help the understanding of it.  A theme of the book is the excess of the Capitol while many of the other Districts suffer, which I think is definitely relevant to today’s society.  The Hunger Games movies do a really good job at representing the sheer excess of the Capitol in contrast to the outer Districts. Overall, Catching Fire was an excellent movie. I think I liked it better than the first one…but Mockingjay is my favorite book, so I have high hopes for those two movies!

December 1st

Happy December! It’s crazy that November is over. I feel like the fall went by so quickly. Although time always seems to go by quickly except when you want it to (sitting in traffic, waiting in line…). I’m not sure what to write about today…Music? Movies? TV? Books? Oh I know! Recently, Entertainment Weekly has been running a competition to see what is the best Young Adult book of all time. Here’s a link to the article about the winner!

That’s right – the winner was the Harry Potter series! I know I already wrote a post about Harry Potter, but there’s so much to say about YA books themselves. I thought there were some pretty serious contenders in this race – “The Hunger Games” series, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” the “Divergent” series…the list goes on. In the end though, I think the right book(s) won. I know this competition was about the best YA book of all time, but I think Harry Potter is significant because it has defined a generation. I think it is similar to the way so many people who were teenagers in the 60s see The Beatles as one of the defining pop culture moments of their generation. Harry Potter has convinced so many kids to read, and I don’t think it will ever age. It’s one of those singular things in history that is so exemplary, it probably will never be repeated. Which I am definitely okay with.