Steroid Confession

While it is quite obvious that I have never taken steroids, when it comes to baseball players, it is not always as easy to tell.  The main assumption is that all of the great sluggers of the “steroid era” took them.  My aim with this project was to challenge that assumption. 

With a presentation structured like mine, one would normally make a comparative argument with pictures of the guys who got jacked in the “STEROIDS” section and  skinny dudes or unrevealing pictures of bigger dudes in the “NO STEROIDS” section. The argument would be the simple one that the players who took steroids got a lot bigger over the course of their careers.  My argument took much more thought to represent. The specific players chosen and the order of the photographs were a crucial component.  For example, Mo Vaughn, the big fat guy who is assumed not to have ‘roided up, absolutely had to be where he was to make the argument clear.  I tried putting him in the third section, but with a more normal looking player in his place, the presentation had no argument; it just looked like a bunch of random pictures in a row. 

I was fighting more than one assumption here.  For example, old-time players like Babe Ruth are not even thought of in the steroid conversation, but in comparing appearances, Ruth looks as much like a steroid freak as anybody. By using a healthy mixture of big guys and little guys, old guys and young guns, I was making several arguments at once.

The cunfused boy who introduced the third section helped me out very much. Just the title “STEROIDS?” implies the the audience should try to distinguish between those who abused and those who didn’t.  However, the boy’s face says it all: there is truly no way to tell.

While I could have made the argument more easily with words, using a visual presentation was a more memorable experience. I think the lasting effect of the presentation reaches beyond the steroid issue in baseball to all walks of life. People who see it will be encouraged to look into things through a fair lens and not judge a book by its cover.

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But I had a good reason…

My artwork is a pointed message to the Catholic church. It is to serve as a reminder that their hope isn’t in some dude in a white robe and a big hat, but in the risen Lord. If the graffiti is successful, someone seeing it would be kicked in the butt and encouraged at the same time.

My original idea was to remake the Barack Obama “HOPE” poster, but with an image of the pope and the word “POPE.” I had imagined that it would be successful in conveying my message because of the timing. Not only is this a time when everyone is anticipating the selection of the new pope, but it is also a time when people are beginning to realize that President Obama isn’t the hero that most expected him to be. Two things made me deviate from that plan, the first being that the message was too vague. There would be several different ways to interpret such a sign, but I had a specific message to convey. By expanding the amount of text, I was able to keep the same wordplay and, hopefully, convey the appropriate meaning as well. Secondly, I would have had a terrible time stenciling a realistic image of the still unknown pope with the same blue and red pattern of the Obama poster. This way, I was doing something I was capable of. The cartoon style face also helped me to make the point that the pope really isn’t some god-figure, just a man.

The act of making the stencil was fun. I was glad that I had gotten the practice in class to see which kinds of things work well on a stencil and which ones don’t. I came into the assignment knowing my own limitations and the limitations of the medium itself. I didn’t make the effort of going out and getting the appropriate supplies, so my tools consisted of colored pencils and a pocket knife. The result was something a little softer than graffiti, which is probably a better fit considering the space chosen.

A good choice of punctuation was crucial to properly represent my message. The words “HE IS YOUR ONLY POPE” would not have worked if I had used a period instead of an exclamation point. The meaning in that case would not have implied the word hope; it would have been like a public announcement instead of a play on words. The exclamation point makes the sentence reflect dire straits, which then ties the onlooker’s mind to the phrase “ONLY HOPE”. The affordances of graffiti also helped me here because I was able to accentuate the punctuation mark by making it red.

I don’t think I’ll actually bring my graffiti to life, but if I do Joanna Drucker would support my cause. She would say that I was using language for the purpose of edification, and therefore the purity of my intentions would override the fact that I’m vandalizing property. I like that lady.

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A New Pope


paint action

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This was Jin’s and mine.

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Call of the Wild

The most reliable place to find graffiti, in my experience, is in a large, concrete culvert. Moist, dark areas like these tend to attract graffiti artists from miles around. This is generally not where the dominant artists congregate, however, as they tend to seek out more high-traffic areas so as to attract a mate. This scene is where the youths go to have fun and prepare for adulthood.

When I entered the culvert, I was immediately met with a spray-painted face.
This was obviously an amateur job. Actually it’s an amatuer representation of an amateur job, but it looks very much like the original. Whoever made this had no bones to pick with anybody, he/she just wanted to have fun and make a happy image of a man with a dog hat. That’s why I always enjoy this kind of graffiti scene. It’s just a bunch of mildly delinquent kids having fun.

Ah, yes, the bathroom graffiti. This piece is a classic example of the bathroom line of work. You see, in the bathroom nothing is sacred, and the graffiti here is always met with a critical lens. In the “Omar” piece, one simple face alien dude was transformed into a personality as many onlookers added their thoughts. Here is the progression as I saw it.


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Me too!


Girl sliding down a handrail. This one is probably just meant to be playful, and doesn’t have a deep social meaning like many of his other works do. Maybe it could be that this is in some area heavily traveled by people on their way to work, who might be unaware of their surroundings, just focused on their own routine. The girl, however, is unaware of all that, just in that place to have fun.

Banksy’s works in Jerusalem are a commentary on the situation there between Israelis and Palestinians. In this case, a girl is frisking a soldier. The note under the picture says that it was painted near the wall separating Israeli and Palestinian territory, and that people are often arrested for terrorism when they are found near the wall. It’s suggested in the picture that the girl found a gun on the soldier and took it away…

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The Rationale

My podcast was a self-proclaimed detective story about the missing poop.  The point of the podcast was to sound solid and to be really funny.  This was the first project of this sort that I had ever done. What was surprising to me was that, even though I was a complete noob to special effects, the finished project sounded very much like I had imagined.  Here is how it all came together.

The story was inspired by a true event.  There really was a notably large turd in the bathroom at my dorm and a bunch of college kids really did flock in to see it.  While my subject is more geared toward an audience grade schoolers, it makes sense that our class would enjoy it, having seen how all my peers reacted to the real thing.  The question of audience appropriateness was solved in the fact that nobody truly outgrows poop.

What makes this story good for radio is that it is a detective story.  The intro music was taken from the computer game “Pinball Panic,” which came free with the movie “Monsters Inc.”  It sets the mood perfectly.  I very loosely followed the detective story format. There was no big mystery.  Part of that was due to the five minute target length. That all worked out because of the humorous nature of the podcast. 

There were a couple of issues for me when the task evolved from writing a script to telling the story in podcast format. I am good at keeping the reader’s attention in writing, but when I transferred the story to sound, there was one part that was too slow.  I had to remove two of my favorite lines because they didn’t contribute to the podcast like I had expected.

What was really fun was getting my friends to act for me.  They honestly blew away my expectations.  Their acting was brilliant.  I played the role of a director.  I had an idea of what their lines should sound like, so I read them aloud before I let go of the reigns.  A very welcome surprise came after I recorded the scene with “Dookie Man.”  In the story, his encounter with me is a little mysterious.  We recorded our section in a different room than the other sections, and the accoustics of the room gave a supernatural tone to our voices. It was a special effect that I didn’t have to make.

This story is about a turd.  In writing the tale, I had to think about the affordances of a piece of poop for storytelling. The turd was stolen, so the thief had to have a motive for doing it.  Of course the only person who would ever think of doing such a thing would be from school food service.  James Elkins says that when a person uses his eyes concertedly, a shimmer on the horizon becomes a mirage and a butterfly’s pattern becomes a code. In my case, a turd became a meatloaf. 

Another affordance that came from a story about a turd was the excessive lexicon on the topic.  I was able to take ideas from other minds about how to express the object in humorous ways.  Joanna Drucker wrote about the power and affordances of language.  Language helped me out in ways that I don’t think most of my classmates had the privilege of enjoying.

When four men needed to transport an ark up to “Dookie Man’s” room, I knew that this story needed an elevator sequence.  I had remembered our discussion about elevator music from class; how in films, the same song is usually used, and that the scene is typically a break from the action.  This was my opportunity for another joke.  In a relatively actionless drama, the elevator scene became the break to the action.  Ironically, the track was taken from an episode of Spongebob Squarepants.

This was a super fun assignment for me.  My project turned out well, in my opinion, because I had so much fun doing it.  I learned very much.

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