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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Speaking of the Undead, How Can I Look Like One?

Leave it to Bobbie Weiner, better known by her nickname Bloody Mary, who is best known for her work on Titanic and Pumpkinhead II. She started out in make-up school after her husband decided to file for divorce.

Bobbie Weiner’s Success

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Move it Like a Zombie

“Ah hahahahahahahah eh hahahahahah, mmuahahahahaha!”
“Creeeeeeeeek!”
At that second sound of a door starting to close, I stood frozen with arms bent like a monster, knees slightly bent, and head pushed forward toward the audience, waiting as the song closed with the door groaning closed against its frame. Suddenly, I dropped my pose and fell to the ground along with the other 349 performers in front, beside, and behind me of the main walkway of the fairgrounds. As I feigned a motionless state like a zombie back in its grave, fairgoers watching the performance from both sides of the walkway voiced their approval through louder whistles, cheers, and a roaring thunder of applause. Michael Jackson, we did you proud today.

***

“Can you look at the RB News Journals I saved for you?” Mom asked when I woke up for breakfast.
“Sure”
“I can’t remember which one, but there’s one which has an article about a flash mob at the San Diego County Fair,” she said. “It sounds fun but-”
“It’s not a true flash mob,” I finished as I picked up the stack and skimmed through the first one.  Paper #1 contained nothing unusual, just the realtor listings, top honors students recognized for achievements from 3 of the 4 high schools, and obituaries. Next.

Paper #2 dated May 4th started looking bleak but changed when I turned the page and saw the article complete with a picture taken from a rehearsal, the headline blazing ‘Thriller zombies’ needed for fair; Poway practices set in the upper left hand corner.

“You should ask your friends if they’re interested,” Mom said as I read the article. “Maybe see if Jaxon, Lilliana, or -”
“How about Taylor?”
“The tall one who attended Bishops? I’m sure she’d get a kick out of it,” Mom replied. “It seems like practices already started long before you came home but check the website for the Poway ones. I’m sure you can jump right in and learn it.”

***

“Hello folks! Are you here for the Thriller dance practices?” the woman asked.
“Yes.”
She set her backpack down, unzipped it, and dug around for a pen and a clipboard with forms.
“I need everyone to fill out an information form with their name, phone number, and best e-mail address to contact you by in order to get you into the fair for free. Also, please fill out a liability form if this is your first time dancing with us. This covers safety and the possibility of having you appear on local, national, and world news.”
I nearly did a double take – did she say world coverage too? She must have read my mind for she explained that she danced in the mob last year. What started with local coverage in San Diego, quickly was shared via other networks nationwide, and even to people in the world. Pretty astounding for one big performance for one of many county fairs.

“Good morning everyone! Let’s get started,” a man said as he arranged us into different lines. He went to the front of the group and began calling out instructions as he did the moves. “So we’re going to start out by stepping on our right foot forward, followed by the left foot. We’ll move forward twice then backward and while we’re doing this, your arms should be out in front. So let’s try that. 5, 6, 7, 8!”

The group imitated his movements and he added that since we were zombies, the movements should start rigid and look sharp since zombies don’t move fluidly but in abrupt, jerky motions. An older woman spoke up at this time about where we could find instructions for the dance for practice on our own time. Our instructor turned around and replied to check cstarproductionz.com for a video of Chris, the man who orchestrated last year’s mob, walking through the moves.

“The music is from Thrill the World,” he added. “It’s a global project where Michael’s Thriller routine is performed in various locations all over and some performances raise money for charities.”

***

“I found a clip of your performance,” Dad yelled from the computer. “Can’t really see you of course but I can see Taylor. Were you standing by her?”
“Yup. Thank you Taylor for being 6’3” and easy to spot,” I replied as I joined him. I leaned in close to see the small screen, trying to squeeze as many of the 350 performers as possible into the high up shot.
“Lots of people watching,” Dad commented. “I’m thinking that all the talk on the radio about increased fair traffic was due to the hype about this performance.”

The San Diego County Fair, originally known as the Del Mar Fair, originated in the late 1800s. It grew and changed over the span of 100+ years to become the typical loud, fried food heaven, sketchy rides, and thousands of visitors fair that one pictures. This year alone set a record of 1,412,133 visitors over the 22 day run. Last year it was slightly over 1.3 million. This is purely my biased opinion but I think the Thriller performance on Tribute to Michael Jackson day of the fair drew the majority of viewers who flocked to a San Diego fair from Los Angeles and elsewhere in the US.

Gas $25
Dance lessons for that Flash Mob Your Daughter’s in $0
Fair tickets $20
Daughter’s ticket $0
Watching Her Perform for Mass Audiences all Over Priceless

Old Town Orange is Bringing Fresh Produce to You (Interview with Megan Penn, Board Director)

 

Megan Penn, Board Director of the Old Towne Orange CA Farmers and Artisan Market

Food isn’t produced the same as it used to be in the early 20th Century. Before World War II, produce and livestock were handled without chemicals or pesticides to provide a quality product to consumers. 

Some cite high prices as a main reason why they buy food from supermarkets instead of organic products at farmers markets or from organic specialty stores. But Collin Dunn of Treehugger argues otherwise: in the past few years, the US saw a 17-20% increase in organic food sales whereas more commercial products only increased about 2-3% per year. Matthew Saltmarsh of New York Times reported that the allure of organic produce and livestock is providing consumers with greater health and environment benefits.  

Old Towne Orange CA Farmers and Artisan Market is a supporter of organic, local grown produce and local products where students and Old Town Orange citizens can support their local farmers and live healthier. Located in the historic packing house district parallel to the train tracks and diagonal to the Dodge College of Film, the Old Towne Orange CA Farmers and Artisan Market is open every Saturday from 8 AM – 1 PM. The market opened for business on May 7, 2011 with 2500 in attendance; many made trips to the Farmers Market a permanent routine. 

I met Megan Penn, the board director of the Farmers Market, two Saturdays ago when she was welcoming visitors to the market. She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelors of Science in City and Regional Planning with an emphasis on Urban Design. After graduation, she returned to Orange, envisioning a farmers market like the one she visited by her college campus and set out to make her vision a reality. (This is an excerpt of the 45 minute interview)

Kunze: What do you think makes buying local, organic produce so appealing versus from a supermarket?

Penn: I like getting the chance to talk to the farmer about how they grew my food. I think its great to know that you are buying produce with the knowledge that it didn’t have to travel far to reach you; you know it either has been picked fresh today or yesterday. But I feel its more important to buy local produce to support and get to know the farmers making your food than just buying organic.

Kunze: What was the funniest moment you ever had working this event?

Penn: Oh gosh…the funniest moment ever? (eyes wander as she taps her fingers on her Starbucks cup) There was one day when the skies looked bad and all of sudden, it started raining hail for 15 minutes. Everyone ran under cover for protection and then we started laughing about it. I mean, because how do you plan for hail?

Kunze: Where do you see the future of this market in 10 years?

Penn: Becoming hugely successful but not in this location. Ideally, I love to have a street farmers market where 3 blocks of Glassell would be closed off for farmers, vendors, and visitors. I’d love to see hot food options being served where some guests could come to the market and buy something ready made to enjoy while looking around. And have more education ideas and opportunities happening around the booths. I only see positive things for this market.

Kunze: Do you have any advice for those attempting to start up their own business or a community event such as a farmers market?

Penn: Do lots of research. And create a business plan – that’s something that we should have done but we sort of just jumped right into it. And its very important to get to know your local politicians as this will make it easier to have things move along more smoothly.

The Economy? Uh…What About it? (A Quick Survey of Peers)

Curious to see what some of my peers thought or knew about the current economic state, I interviewed 5 Chapman students to understand where their priorities lay.
I asked them the following questions:

  1. What do you know about the current state of the economy?
  2. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being none and 5 being intense) how interested are you in the state of the economy?
  3. What concerns you more (or less) than the economy?
  4. Age?
  5. Major?

Student #1 I asked was a 19 year old female studying Environmental Science. She said she knew the current state of the economy is bad but nothing else. She said she is only a 2 in terms of interest in the topic. Personally, she is more worried about the whole environment.

Student #2 was a 19 year old male majoring in Graphic Design. He said he knew nothing about the subject. His interest is a 3 in the topic and he said that he was concerned but not super interested in knowing more about it. He is more concerned about political rebellions going on in various countries.

Student #3 was a 20 year old female studying Graphic Design. She said she did not know much about the economy except for the job market being less stable than in past years. She knew that it is harder for people our age to enter the work force right out of college or high school now. She said her interest was a 3 since she said it would be good to be informed but wasn’t particularly interested in knowing every single detail about it. She is more concerned about environmental issues.

Student #4 was a 21 year old female finishing her degree in Graphic Design. She was informed by her professors that the economy is getting better, but some of her friends and family say otherwise. She ranked herself a 4 in terms of interest because she admitted being fearful of plans after graduation and whether she can get a job in her field of study now. However, she is more concerned about war and fears the possibility of it happening again.

Finally, Student #5 was a 20 year old male Film Production major. He knows from personal observation and news stories that the economy is pretty bad right now. He ranked himself a 3 on the interest of the issue and stated that he had some interest but not a burning desire to know more. He is more concerned about the upcoming elections.

Well, there you have it – a prime example of the news media, once again, filling our minds with stories of drama, destruction, and negativity. What happened to just telling the news as it was without bias or personal opinion or emotions attached?

You Can’t Put a Price on These

We’re SO not gangsta even at the Happiest Place on Earth. But we can try just for grins.
Photo taken by Becky Lee

  1.  81 lbs of fur, muscle, and body fat with a drippy nose, a love of carbohydrates, and fan of squeaky toys better known as my dog Junior.
  2. My grandma and her close friends she’s known since they were in grade school. One of her friends is 91 years old and I did a big double take when I last saw her two summers ago since she doesn’t move around like a 91 year old woman. I sure hope she makes it to 100.
  3. Spending my Wednesday nights in the university radio box with my 3 favorite DJs: DJ Alman, DJ Foxxylady, and DJ Monorail Man. How many nights have I sat in with them where we have microphone troubles, random dialogue in between film and TV music scores, or DJ Monorail Man imitating the Inception ‘bwaaaaaaaahh’ sound when we decide to talk after 10 minutes of music? So many and hopefully many more to come.
  4. Meeting my friend Joseph who I’ve known since freshman year of university. He’s always been a kind, comforting friend that listened whenever I needed someone to turn to.
  5. Spending 3 years filled with music, shouting/cheering like barbarians for the home team, and random shenanigans such as losing a trombone slide in the stands and inverting a hand cymbal, all done with the Pep Band. In addition to the mishandling of instruments this year, we held up traffic in Old Town Orange as we diagonal crossed from the university campus to the correct side of the street for a building dedication. Highly illegal? Of course, but then again it was all my conductor’s idea. 🙂
  6. Meeting several international students who formed lasting friendships, taught me more about the countries their from, and did crazy things like try to pose like a stereotyped gangsta at the Happiest Place on Earth.
  7. Surrounding myself with art which serves as another link to the past, present, and future aside from written word.
  8. A personal pride of making my own original clothing designs to share with like-minded audiences.
  9. The support, spur-of-the-moment meet-ups, and advice given to me by my graduating friend Marx. These last 3 years have been great – don’t sweat the real world because I know you’ll do well.
  10. Coming home and cooking homemade meals.

Do you have a list of things that make you happy or grateful? Feel free to share them here.

Ice Cream and Architecture? Sounds Cool to Me!

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This duo took the ice cream sandwiches they loved making for friends and family and turned it into their business. Who knew that a little ice cream truck created during this tough economy would grow into a business with 4 ice cream trucks in 4 states and a brand new storefront in Culver City, CA?

Swap the Mall for Frugal Fun

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Writer Hao-Nhien Vu of LifeScript cites author Albert LaFarge’s book U.S. Flea Market Directory: A Guide to the Best Flea Markets in All 50 States for expertise in the establishment of flea markets, even down to the origins of the words. According to LaFarge, ‘flea market’ comes from the French phrase, marché aux puces, for the wingless parasites who feast on blood, since flea infestations were associated with used furniture. The terms ‘swap meet’ and ‘flea market’ seem to be used interchangeably depending on the region and personal definition of the individual markets.

I paid a visit to the Santee Swap Meet on Saturday and Sunday to conduct an immersion of a location where many turn to for their shopping experiences since the 2007 Great Recession. One might think that ‘swap meet’ means finding and buying personal items from sellers who are experiencing hard times.

One family selling gently used backpacks and personal items left a profound impression on me. When I asked the wife about the media portrayal of a mini depression today, she replied, “This is no where close to the Great Depression. If there’s still a line outside Starbucks, then you know its not bad but not ideal. We’re pretty fortunate compared to the past.”

Her husband agreed and pointed out that most of the young people today don’t know what hard work is anymore. In contrast, he worked since age 7 at his family’s businesses where he learned the values of working hard to reach your goals.

“This was back when gas was 23 cents a gallon,” he said. “I was working at my family’s gas station, working the register for several hours of the day. I didn’t complain about doing the work because everyone had to pitch in.” He advised me that life moves in different directions and one has to be flexible to be successful in life.

I interviewed shoppers on both days, one said she liked the thrill of hunting for the one item she never thought she’d find here. She also said that prices here were cheaper than retail stores with the same items. This buyer isn’t the only one with this opinion: out of 10 shoppers I interviewed, 70% of men and women said they shopped here for cheaper prices.
Regarding sellers, I discovered swap meet sales weren’t the desolate picture of hard times: 67% of men sold at swap meets as a business, most of their wares from estate, garage, and yard sales and in some cases, storage unit auctions. Women were 50/50 in terms of selling items as a business and selling personal items to clean out their homes.
Interested in finding your own treasure? Visit your local swap meet today!
Santee Swap Meet
10990 Woodside Avenue N.
Santee, CA
Hours: 6:30 AM-2 PM (Sat and Sun)
Admission: Sat $1, Sun $1.50