After a few hopeless weeks of script writing and failed attempts at filming scenes for my class’ anti-cyber-bullying project, we switched gears completely and started on a brand new project. Rather than a video with scripts and acting, each of us made a poster representing a type of bullying and second poster representing ways to end cyber-bullying completely. Personally, this was the best idea the class has had all year; however, it was very late into the process at the time of the switch, putting us far beyond our original deadline of May 6.

Even though we missed every deadline we set for ourselves on this project, the final product is actually really nice and looks fairly well done, despite a few of us who didn’t know what we were really doing (looking at myself).

The message of obscure methods to cyber-bullying was conveyed brilliantly in my opinion, and I really hope others enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed(?) making it. The class worked (mostly) hard on this project hoping to show others just how prominent cyber-bullying is, and that it’s not just the typical name-calling. Although we didn’t get to present the video to our local middle school like we wanted, the video was uploaded to YouTube and will hopefully begin to get some views.

I have sat here staring at this blank document for far too long, unable to think of a proper introduction to this post. For my Digicom class, we have been given an end-of-the-year project: an anti-cyber-bullying video. I didn’t ever realize how prevalent cyber-bullying is in our society, despite the numerous commercials, pep-rallies and guest speakers discussing how serious the issue is. I also never realized how many different kinds of cyber-bullying there actually are, nor did I understand how easy they are to commit.

As a group, we came up with the idea of obscure ways to cyber-bully, because few people are aware that a lot of the things they consider innocent fun are actually bullying. The popular site “People of Walmart” is one of the many online pages that is considered a form of cyber-bullying: uploading.

Uploading, which is the first form of cyber-bullying featured in the group project, is borderline self-explanatory. It is when an embarrassing photo, video, recording etc. is uploaded to the internet without the subject’s permission. The entire website of PoW is built on embarrassing pictures of unsuspecting shoppers. Not many viewers consider this bullying, but if a viewer suddenly saw a picture of, say, his little sister — his opinions might rapidly change.

The second method we will be revealing is identity theft. This really seems out of place on a list of types of bullying; however, this is perhaps one of the most common forms of cyber-bullying, and people rarely even know they’re doing it. This form of bullying is most commonly described through fake profiles on social media: if one person was to make a Facebook profile of someone else, and use it to bully others or ruin the reputation of the victim.

Exclusion is the third form that we will be discussing in our video and is usually seen in person rather than through the internet. While exclusion is the most common form of bullying in schools, it is less noticeable online, and it can be anything from simply refusing to add people as friends to just not sharing a picture with them. It can also go to more serious lengths when bullies start encouraging others to exclude the victim.

Other types of cyber-bullying will be mentioned throughout our project as well, such as insulting and harassment, but these three will be the primary focus of the video.

As students, my group and I have been to countless rallies, gatherings and presentations about the atrocity of bullying, but, sometimes, it takes an assignment like this to really enlighten one to how serious the issue is.

 

With an astonishing rarity does it occur that I am granted the ability to use my love for Cracked in a school project. This week is officially wonderful. For those unfamiliar, I cannot accurately describe this site; you must discover its glory for yourself. For those that are more curious about the project, (which is what this blog was originally created for) hold on to your flaming cowboy hats.

Recently my advisor did what she does best: she (forcefully) advised me to actually do what I’m supposed to do and check this week’s assignment. To my dismay, it wasn’t really something that I could’ve easily gotten excited over. I was to scour the internet in search of six to eight articles about a topic of my choosing.

Not too bad, but not too exciting without a really good topic, so I chose something really generic, with the intention of finding some really non-generic articles. My topic was simply “Creative Writing.” I left it very broad; this way, I could add just about any article that vaguely references it, including magnificent and hilarious Cracked articles. While I make it seem like I didn’t take this very seriously, writing is definitely an obvious passion of mine, and all of the articles I found were informative and helpful.

After finding all of these wonderful pieces of literature, I was to copy and paste the link into a neat little app called Delicious. In the past I pretty much did the same thing but I pasted the links into a blank Google Doc. Delicious seems to be a bit more helpful.

Now get ready readers because there was a third step to this project:

I had to Scoop It.

Scoop.it is another one of those really cool but not very well-known apps that my advisor has shown me throughout this semester. It almost acts as a social media site, where users can create “Topics” formed of multiple different articles (It’s all coming together now). The links that I saved to Delicious were then copied again onto Scoop.It as “Scoops” and used to form my topic. These articles were anything from “The Emotional Benefits of Writing,” to “Over 300 writing prompts.” Naturally, the cover article that defines my entire topic is the fateful article from Cracked.

While stumbling through the unfamiliar and unpredictable fog of the internet, there are those few serendipitous in which I stumble across a jewel. In my time on wordpress.com, I have read through many great blogs and written my share of posts; however, none have impressed me so much as to entice me into reading every post as far back Halloween of 2013 (that’s not creepy; I swear).

It’s appalling that something could grab my attention for more than five minutes, let alone for hours at a time, but apparently, it can be done. All it takes is a blog, a bit of nostalgia, some common interests, a few ninja turtles and a writer known only as the Surfing Pizza.

Pizza’s love of writing comes from his loud and passionate inner voice, which, according to him, greatly contradicts his normally shy personality.

“I had a way to communicate and reach people without the awkwardness and eye contact,” Pizza said.

By reading his words, I never would’ve guessed that the man behind them could possibly be shy in any way, shape or form. His voice saturates his writing, contaminating everything with his personality, and it is a wonderful thing.

“One of the best things about writing is that you can say something that really makes a person feel, think, laugh or cry,” Pizza said. “They’ll read it and say, ‘yeah, me, too. I relate to this.’ Writing is really powerful in that way.”

With posts talking about everything from his reflections of his childhood to how NOT to unclog a toilet, it almost gets complicated to pinpoint a single theme; however, that’s not always a bad thing, especially with blogging.

“When I first started the blog, my themes reflected a sort of post-college internet humor,” Pizza said. “I was writing about silly stuff like making the biggest-ever Lunchable Pizza or taking pictures of the Shoney’s mascot bear pooping in the neighbors’ lawn.”

According to him, now that he is 33, his themes have become more sentimental. He now writes more about childhood, adulthood and nostalgia — three of my favorite things to contemplate and attempt to mash into one on a daily basis.

“I’ve grown up and forgotten a lot of things,” Pizza said. “Finding some old toy at a yard sale jogs my brain and helps me to remember. One of the greatest rushes is to find something and say ‘I remember this!’ — it brings back not just that toy, but also the sights, smells, scrapes, and dreams of childhood.“

In addition to balancing a job, and a blog, the mysterious Surfing Pizza is not alone in life.

“I’m the Pizza’s number 1 fan,” Pizza’s wife (who will remain known as Mrs. Pizza) said. “I love seeing how a dirty, neglected toy found at a flea market that I have no interest in can become a clever, witty and heartwarming story on the blog.”

Many of Mr. Pizza’s more recent blog posts directly involve his life with his significant other and their plans for the future. These posts are some of the best reads because the emotion shines through the words much more clearly than in some of his other posts. It is easy to see how much he looks forward to the future with both Mrs. Pizza, and their soon to be their first born son.

With so many aspects of life warring amongst themselves for dominance, it’s hard to believe that either Pizza has time for additional hobbies. Nevertheless Mrs. Pizza finds time for the common hobbies of yoga, playing with the dog, and watching “mildly exploitative shows on TV, like Hoarders,“ in addition to some more uncommon hobbies like going to street festivals and discovering historic main streets in local towns.

Mr. Pizza also enjoys record collecting — his stash reaches a staggering number of 500 mint condition records from the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Motown and more.

Pizza takes writing to a new level of emotion and reality. His words have the power to summon memories that I had thought to have been forgotten. Pizza is a perfect example of one who had a passion and ran with it, something that any person with a passion should be doing.

“Don’t attempt to major in Economics if your real passion is writing or art just because you think knowing economics might make you more money,” Pizza said. “Also: don’t do drugs, don’t start forest fires, napkins on your laps and always be nice to old people.”

 

The conglomeration of young journalists into a massive force creates a deafening roar of voices mingling together to form one noise. The raucous reverberates against the thick walls of the Meacham Auditorium, echoing within the ears of all those within, yet individual voices are lost amongst the crowd. Flashes of camera phones dot the sea of bodies as selfies are taken to commemorate this monumental occasion. None of these young attendants want to forget this day: the 98th Annual Scholastic Journalism Conference — Media Monday.

March 31 marked the fateful day; student journalists across the state of Oklahoma piled into busses, vans, submarines, blimps and climbed on the backs of magical flying dragons to be taken to the campus of the University of Oklahoma. The newspaper and yearbook staffs at my own high school were not left out of the event. While this is an annual occasion, it does not diminish the excitement of our small group as we pack ourselves into the bus and prepare ourselves for the hour-long drive.

Media Monday is a day set aside for student journalists to come together, learn some tricks of the trade and (hopefully) win awards. This is accomplished through a series of short breakout sessions led by various professors and a keynote speaker’s lecture followed by the long-awaited awards ceremony. Lunch is stuffed somewhere in the middle of the busy schedule. Although in previous years I had found ways to avoid particular sessions that seemed more educational than others, I genuinely was there to learn this year.

After a tall starbucks mocha and a welcoming speech from Oklahoma Scholastic Media president, Evan O’Brien, and OSM Executive Director Melanie Wilderman, the staffs split up to hit as many sessions as possible.

 

10-10:50 a.m.  No Generic Entertainment Coverage, Please! (Megan Deaton)

As I walked into the Frontier Room, a common classroom for the more Entertainment-geared sessions at Media Monday, I saw five familiar faces. Mission failed. However, it is always nice to be in a session with a friend or five, especially in a session that isn’t necessarily the most informative. Our instructor mostly discussed how to cover Pop Culture in a news setting without being ridiculously cliche or generic (hence the title of the session). Despite it being an interesting topic, our instructor was being ironically generic with her teaching methods: simply reading what she had typed up on her Powerpoint presentation. None of the information was particularly helpful, but hopefully the notes taken by one of my staff members will help newcomers next year.

 

11-11:50 a.m. Greasy Cheese Pizza

For the first time in my history of Media Monday, I did not get a Stromboli. A mistake I will never have the opportunity to rewrite. Due to myself not being as hungry as usual, I ordered a single slice of pizza (which was abnormally large, don’t get me wrong). I didn’t expect there to be more grease than actual cheese dripping from the crust. Even though I probably shaved off 10 years of my life and only had enough food to hold me over for about an hour, it was probably the most disgustingly delicious pizza I’ve ever put in my mouth.

 

12-12-50 p.m. How to Become your Newsroom’s Most Admired Editor (Richard Weiss)

I don’t often write about my experience as the editor of my paper, even though I have difficulty keeping any newspaper-related stories out of my posts. This was a session I was definitely interested in (even though I only have 2 months left here. Insert frownie face). I was quickly disappointed as the instructor only spoke of extremely generic tips for journalists in general. Writing tips that were somewhat helpful, but not necessarily geared towards editors were the bulk of the session. One good example of this was when he told us that no sentence should exceed 21 words, a rule that I strive to break more often than I follow. He did mention a few helpful tips, but they were lost amongst the many pointless analogies he paired them with.

 

1-1:50 p.m. Keynote Address

Never have I looked forward to a keynote address more that I did this year. Our speaker was the famous televeision meteorologist, Gary England. Yes. I said Gary England. For one who is a celebrity in a way, he was one of the coolest men I have ever heard speak in front of a crowd. He didn’t use any cliches in his address, despite the title being “Dreaming the Big Dream.” He avoided them like the plague; rather, he delivered his message in anecdotes, gloriously relating them to his own life through high school and college and after. The point of the message was, for lack of a better way to explain it, simple: Have a dream, and follow it. Although it is cliche and moderately generic, it’s delivery more than made up for it. He also managed to fit in a few video clips from the news station, and from the time he was a guest on the Colbert Report. After his address, a few members of my staff were smart enough to hang back to meet the man himself. I took this one step further, and somehow convinced him to take a picture with me. It was not a regular picture. It was a selfie. I took a selfie with Gary England. It will be posted soon.

 

2-2:50 p.m. Writing Aerobics (Richard Weiss)

Who wouldn’t want to attend a session with a title like this? Despite it’s brilliant name, I was extremely disappointed with the session as a whole. It was the same professor who led the session (that was supposed to be) about being an admired editor. The entire session was simply rehashed information from the previous class, effectively boring everyone who unluckily attended both sessions. My mind soon wandered into what would happen once this class was dismissed.

 

3-:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony

The staff of the Demon Pitchfork was literally on the edge of their seats as names were called one by one to receive various awards in writing, photography and design. After what felt like an excruciating amount of time, the awards moved from individual contest, to overall. This is what we had came for. For the past four years in a row, our staff had taken home the Sweepstakes Award, basically winning state for journalism; however, this would be the year to break the streak. I wasn’t disappointed when the name of a different school was called. The staff has accomplished a lot this year. Many of us were new to this, and we were also trying to get our website off the ground (pitchforklive.com). We fought censorship, and we struggled through deadlines. I couldn’t be more proud of what my staff has accomplished.


After the ceremony we took staff pictures from inside a decommissioned phone box and prepared for our departure back to the school with heavy hearts and high hopes for next year.

 

Warning: the following blog post will not contain the following:

graphic sex

horrendously foul language

gore

nightmare-inducing plot

 

In addition, this blog post will not require the use of the following:

a mirror

English-to-German/Hebrew/Latin Dictionary

Braille alphabet

protractor

knowledge of Morse code

a partially insane mind

 

However, the book I am about to discuss contains and will require all of that. For those who have already read this book, I am almost positive that the title is already as clear as day.

House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski, is one of the most dangerous books that I have ever made the mistake of letting take over my life, and my teacher didn’t even assign it to me. As I sit here at my computer, I am in constant war with my own mind trying to find a way to accurately describe it.

House of Leaves is a book.

There. That wasn’t so hard.

It’s a book about a guy named Johnny Truant.

Okay. So far so good.

It’s also about a guy known only as Zampano, who wrote a manifesto that Truant finds and reads.

Getting a bit more complicated, but I think I’m still making sense.

The manifesto is about a documentary made by a guy named Will Navidson, and the documentary is about his house — which may or may not be God.

Still not too mind-warpingly complex. I think I can continue safely.

As the reader is experiencing Truant’s life, he/she’s also reading Zampano’s manifesto, and he/she is also reading expert’s notes and commentaries on the documentary. All at the same time.

Actually, this doesn’t sound nearly as confusing as I thought it would.

Hopefully that isn’t too misleading, because House of Leaves will genuinely twist the reader’s sense of what is real and what is dream/nightmare. He/she will begin to accuse their own house of harboring a dark secret. They will spend minutes (hours?) huddled in their closets expecting something to change, but nothing will.

Tape measures will cross the floor, scale the walls and will be stapled and taped to the ceiling to be sure nothing is shifting. All windows will have been boarded up long before it progresses that far but now they will realize that what used to be the comfort of darkness has become their own personal Hell. Light bulbs are no longer an option as the reader’s electric bill is months overdue by now.

I personally didn’t experience any of the traumatic events described to me by other readers; however, I did have nightmares for a few weeks after finishing House of Leaves. According to online forums, other people have also experienced nightmares, and a few people claimed to have needed therapy. Others say that this book was written by XXXXXXXX, or that it is impossible to find House of Leaves – it has to find you.

For example, say a man is at his house looking for a matching pair of socks. He opens his drawer and BOOM. There is House of Leaves sitting on top of all if his neatly folded laundry. He didn’t find the book. It broke into his house and found him.

I don’t believe that is how it works.

However, I do agree that this book isn’t normal. Reading it has been one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, and I have read it a total of three times. It never gets easier to handle. For anyone who loves a challenge, or believes that they can’t be frightened or swayed from their own beliefs about life, death or the world, I dare them to read House of Leaves.

 

Friday has once again rolled around and snuck up behind me, and, despite my mental preparation, I find myself scouring Twitter looking for pages that are worthy of both my follow, and my blog. Due to last week’s overwhelming amount of journalistic pages, I have resolved myself to stray away from them for this week. This plan has obviously backfired on me as a new theme takes center stage, and with only three pages to blog about this week, it may be much more apparent.

3. @DanWarp

Dan Schneider is known for his title of director on the television network “Nickelodeon.” His direction on the popular television show “Drake and Josh” is borderline legendary. As an avid television watcher, I think it is beneficial for me to follow him so i know when new episodes of some of my favorite shows will air. It also allows me to find out if any new shows are going to be any good.

2. @StephenKing

I have always had an unnatural love for horror novels, despite my absolute hatred of any horror movie. (I think the difference has something to do with the presence of an actual plot.) Stephen King is definitely a celebrity among horror authors. With books such as “Pet Cemetery” and “Four Past Midnight,” he has left his mark on the horror genre forever.

1. @scottlync78

If someone were to ask me what my favorite book was, they would immediately get an exasperated sigh, followed by a long list of titles, authors and genres as a response. Despite the numerous amount of favorites I have, two of them are by fantasy author, Scott Lynch. He has written a trilogy of books, (“Lies of Locke Lamora,” “Red Seas Under Red Skies” and “Republic of Thieves) and each one is obviously Lynch’s writing style. His writing puts the reader on a rollercoaster — usually one without pauses. While it can be difficult for some to read, these are by far some of my favorite books I have ever read.

Never have I had an assignment that I dreaded more than this; at the beginning of every year of high school I know that this important job looms over the heads of all who are part of the newspaper staff. Weeks are spent in preparation and lessons upon lessons are taught to the new staff members; we have to be sure that they know what they’re doing and are doing it correctly.

Failure is not anoption for thiscrucial mission, and although we all hate it, we understand that it is necessary. If we don’t succeed, the paper will die without its needed funds, so we group up and set out. Our vehicles tear out of the school parking lot, loaded with student journalists clutching their manilla folders as if they are their lifeline. We split up, each group taking a separate quadrant of the town in order to cover all of our bases. The time has come to sell advertisements.

If one was to open up a newspaper and check the bottom of most pages, they would see a multitude of squares and rectangles devoted to a particular business stacked against each other. These are advertisements, and although nobody looks at them, businesses pay the newspaper a considerable amount of money for them. These ads supply my school paper with most of our money; without them, we would be crippled.
The mission is gruelling, but as each team trudges through the town, storming businesses and collecting contracts morale slowly raises. Teams stick together during the class periods, but in the back of everyone’s minds plots of betrayal are being constructed.

Every year during the two-week period of ad sales, a contest is held. It’s very simple — whoever sells the most amount of money in ads gets a reward. While this is different every year and seldom something outrageously spectacular, the staff gets serious about their competitions. I have heard stories of years past when staff members would sabotage their fellow men in order to get the upper hand.
I believe I was victim to this kind of sabotage when I was an underclassmen. I did not yet have a license, so I was paired with two of our editors. As they drove, I noticed first that they were passing many businesses that could potentially be good clients for us. Then I realized what they had brought with them: a longboard. This couldn’t end well.
Without a license it was difficult for me to make any sort of sales outside of class, so this was one of my precious few opportunities to do my duty to the staff. I didn’t want to believe that they were doing this on purpose, it was my own fault for volunteering to ride with them in the first place.
At last the vehicle slowed to stop on a lonely road behind the public library. My escorts stepped outside into the warm August air, bringing the longboard with them. Before I was able to exit the car myself, one of them was already coasting down the sloped street toward.
CoastingI wanted nothing to do with these shenanigans. I only wanted to be a good little underclassmen and do what I was supposed to do. Needless to say, this was not at all what I was supposed to do. Even if I did want to participate, I didn’t know how to longboard; I didn’t even know there was a difference between a longboard and a skateboard.

My mission was in jeopardy, and I did the only thing I thought I could do to salvage any hope from this bleak scenario. I stood silently against the car and watched as they repeatedly coasted downhill and walked back up. This went on for almost 20 minutes.
I wasn’t a very brave little underclassmen.
Hanging my head in shame, I rode back to the school with my crooked wardens. Never again did I ride with them to sell ads. In fact, I managed to convince my parents to chauffeur me around the city with my trademark manila folder in hand.
As time went on, I gradually got better and better at selling ads, and I went on my own misadventures, leaving my manila folder in the front seat of my car to watch as I hungrily devoured my recently procured McDonald’s.
I never did win the ad sales contest.

One square mile is my limit. Within it, a river, the edge of a forest, and my people. We have little to our name: 200 metal plates and 100 sets of metal cutlery. They’re not very useful in this situation other than to be melted down into raw materials. Survival for the moment, is our biggest issue; however, the point of all of this is to see how government is created, sculpted, and refined. Once life is established, it will be the job of myself and my group to lay down the first guidelines of a government and lead these people.

At the beginning of my senior year in high school, I found myself dreading my government class (I now understand I was dreading it for a good reason: it’s dreadful). But one of the first assignments we were given gave me high hopes for the year. My instructor split the class into groups, and although I wasn’t very happy with my partners, his next words brought a glimmer of hope into the room.

We were design a government for a group of 100 survivors. Every law, regulation, recommendation, punishment, and reward were to be set and enforced by us. At this point I should make it clear that any time I refer to my group I am most likely referring to myself as the rest of my group did very little actual work.

The only thing they did do was chip in any time I started to lean slightly too far into the red zone of dictatorship. As my close friends and some peers know, it is a bad idea to give me any amount of authority or power. Once they deemed the punishment of beheading too extreme for breaking curfew, I slowed down a bit.

Unfortunately, we were never given the opportunity to finish this project, as our teacher simply forgot about it, much to the excitement of my classmates. I feel like this could have been one of the most fun things I would’ve ever taken part in during school, and it would have been a magnificent learning experience. Hopefully I can find a way to try this again on a larger, more interactive, scale, and this time, I won’t have a council of nearly-silent legislators holding me back from beheading people.

 

My eyes scan over the jumble of letters printed on the paper, constantly checking, rechecking and re-rechecking every single letter for any connection or pattern. Of course there isn’t a connection off of that “R;” I’ve checked it 37 times in the past 11 seconds. While that may seem like an exaggeration, it is definitely not.

If any of my readers has had one of those teachers that are constantly assigning these, they already know exactly what kind of paper I am talking about. These are the assignments that make my eyes burn and bleed. They make me feel as though I will accomplish nothing in my entire life all because of a simple word that eludes my vision.

I seem to have a running theme of assignments given to me due to a teacher being too lazy to actually give us something worthwhile, but this one is special. Word searches hold no educational value whatsoever, unless one would count the ambiguous “It helps you become familiar with the word so you can read it easier.” Yes I assume that works in the same way that any other form of actual teaching would. Only with a word search the students are losing a lot of much-needed education on the rest of the subject.

A student gets the same educational value from a crossword puzzle printed in the morning newspaper (or handed out on 47-year-old worksheet in science class). The only reasoning I can see behind these assignments is that it provides the teacher with a break to take grades or do some one-on-one teaching to a student who needs it. However, I think there are other ways of getting that break without having to lose any education with the other students.

In my opinion, watching a documentary on a particular subject would teach me more about it than a word search, and I would become more familiar with the vocabulary as it is used throughout the movie.

There are many alternative assignments that teachers use to take small pauses in the middle of a cycle in order to catch a much needed breath. Whether they come in the form of a word search, crossword puzzle, or even a coloring book tossed haphazardly over the shoulder is up to the instructor.