Author Archives: Alexandra Dickerson



The Amateur Music Video!

Kropp was a secret geek in high school. He thoroughly enjoyed sports, rap, and women but had a soft spot for cartoons. He says he would secretly want to be a superhero if he had the chance – “a dope superhero” at that. He is currently a USC student studying environmental science, is enrolled in the NROTC program and loves to skateboard. He has very close ties with his extended family. He hopes to one day commission into the navy as an officer.

What may come to mind when reading the title is a very under-budgeted, poor music video by a new talent trying to make their way into the music industry. But, in fact, an AMV – Amateur Music Video, is something much more personal. AMV’s are composed of a song of your choice (as the theme song to a video); and by yourself on programs like iMovie and Adobes Premier Pro, edit scenes from a TV show or movie or music video that has already been published. It’s your own music video with characters and actors from your favorite media.

My friend, when he was in middle school, used to take clips from his favorite cartoon Teen Titans and create music videos. On youtube, he and thousands of others would have AMV challenges as to which video was the best – determined by those who posted the challenge and by other viewers. The editors were challenged to create something that had great images, a story or a smooth flow, and most of all the song had to represent not only the story that he was trying to tell but had to represent the characters themselves. His favorite characters were Beast Boy and Raven. Beast Boy was the comedy relief on the show – “or tried to be” he says. While Raven played “the devils advocate”. Not to mention he liked the bit of romance there was between the two.

He spent hours after school watching episodes to see which scenes would be right for the song. He then spent days cutting down the episode into scenes and then the rest of the time was devoted to synchronizing the combat and movements of the characters to the rhythms in the song.

Analysis: I also used to make AMV’s in my early high school years out of videos from Lost. One of the main reasons I did it was because after the show finished it gave me an opportunity to change some of the outcomes. I changed the romantic relationships with one love song and some downloaded scenes of my favorite episodes. I also kept the show alive by continuing to play around with the characters that would no longer show up on Tuesday nights. I think that may be the reason he did it – not just because he really liked the show growing up, but he wanted to be amongst the characters. He wanted to be a Teen Titan (c).

While he was too shy to give a link to his own videos, he gave us the link to one of his friends and competitors:

“Measure Twice, Cut Once”

Kropp was a secret geek in high school. He thoroughly enjoyed sports, rap, and women but had a soft spot for cartoons. He says he would secretly want to be a superhero if he had the chance – “a dope superhero” at that. He is currently a USC student studying environmental science, is enrolled in the NROTC program and loves to skateboard. He has very close ties with his extended family. He hopes to one day commission into the navy as an officer.

“When it comes to sh** that matters, you measure twice, cut once.” Not only is Kropp talking about how much he loves woodwork (because he actually spends hours messing around with wood, even though he doesn’t have a woodshop area yet, he plans on getting one when he graduates college); but Kropp heard this friendly proverb from his father. When Kropp would make mistakes growing up his father would correct him and say this over and over again. He thought his dad was such a hero, such a role model. Then he heard teachers in school saying it. He felt betrayed. When he went home to ask his father about it. His father replied “Son…its a saying. Something you should live by. But something we should ALL live by.”

The way I heard about this is because he and I were working on a project together for a class. I measured the cardboard wrong and we had to go buy a new one. And there you have it. He shook his head and said “Measure twice, cut once”. When I asked him to elaborate he gave the story above. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand it. It was a common meaning – the phrase – but the context was unfamiliar to me.

Analysis: I really love this quote. My parents don’t mess around with tools or maintenance much, the way Kropp grow around a handy father. So I had never heard that saying before, but knew exactly what he meant by it. Basically, think before you do. Don’t jump into things without double-checking, holding everyone or thing accountable. He then elaborated that you could measure a thousand times though, and still end up cutting it wrong. But at least then you can say you tried.

Crossing the Line

Steele is one of my friends I train in the ROTC program. Very interesting character. He is a freshman at USC. In his spare time he reads The Prince by Machiavelli on the Realism; an International Relations school of thought. He dates 5 women at a time and loves clash of clans.

Because Steele is in his first year he is required to take the primary courses in his first semester on Naval Contemporary and Historical Life. One of the events, when I started asking him about naval tradition as a part of folklore was an event called crossing the line. The ceremony of crossing the line is an initiation rite in many navies across the globe including the United States, Great Britain, and Dutch navy. The ceremony commemorates a sailor’s first crossing over the equator. It is rumored to have originated when the ship was passing what are called “headlands”. It’s meant to boost morale. Sailors were stuck at sea for months at a time away from spouses, family and friends. It was also dually created as a test. Senior Enlisted sailors were to make sure that the newbies on board would be able to handle themselves in the long run. Originally this was seen as an event where hazing took place. Kicking, shoving, hitting, and yelling. Now a days it’s less violent and more humiliating to coincide with the Chief of Naval Operations orders.

Analysis: This once gruesome initiation process now, entertaining tradition goes to show that the Navy is changing. We’re looking less to beat and use fear to retain our sailors. Obviously there is an appeal to toughening up the people that have to go out there and fight our wars for us. But like the Chief of Naval Operations deems necessary, one of them isn’t battering our own sailors. Today it seems like it is much more a test of mental strength. Can words break you. If words make you cry, your in the wrong business here.

Where The Hell Is Cuba On The Map?

Sara comes from a traditionally American family. However she told me about the time when she spent new years with her Cuban friend:

“It was very strange Alex. They filled champagne glasses with grapes! They ate them real fast. Then her grandmother walked up to everyone with a suit case. They each out an item in and then she walked around the block. When she came back she took a bucket of water and throw it out the door. What the hell!”

She later asked her friend who explained everything.

One, her friends grandmother was a bit crazy and slightly out of her mind. Two, they were old Cuban traditions – of course she was going to find it weird.

Analysis: Culture shock anyone! The twelve grapes each represent one months in the calendar. By eating them real fast after midnight, you’re hoping that good luck will come for each of the months that are to come.

The grandmother walked around asking for one valuable item from each of them. She put them in the luggage case and walked around the block to signify that the important things in life will only come with a little bit of effort and lot of hard work. To remember that the important things in life you earned and you need to continue working to keep them. Lastly the odd bucket of water is meant to symbolize all the sins from the past year. By throwing it out of the door she is asking for the families forgiveness and getting rid of all their demons.

Microwave Blindness

Sara is a very gossipy, religious, fun girl. Sophomore at USC, she’s in the Helene’s and a sorority. She’s from Anaheim, California. And she has an incredibly interesting memory and past.

Probably the funniest of my interviews was this one. Sara described to me how her friends in elementary school told her not to eat too many green vegetables because she would turn green; not to eat too many carrots because she would turn orange. She said that when her friends told her that she replied with something along the lines:

“Oh, ok. I don’t want to be green. But listen, want to know a secret. Don’t stare at the microwave when there’s food in there. It’ll make you go blind.”

I’ve never ever heard of this growing up but I have heard other friends talking about their mothers telling their young children to stay away form the microwave when it’s cooking food.

Analysis: It’s a myth! People who don’t understand microwaves sometimes believe there is some sort of deadly radiation coming out of the oven, but that’s not true. Microwaves are the same waves used by many wireless gadgets. The only difference in the case of microwave ovens is that they are a lot stronger, so they tend to heat things up when they hit them. Microwaves cannot escape from the oven, because the inside is made of metal, which blocks microwaves. And the window in front of the oven blocks microwaves, too, because it contains a metal screen with holes that microwaves are too large to pass through. This allows you to look inside the oven without being exposed to any of the microwaves. You can look for as long as you want. It won’t hurt you.