Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Vid Recs and Other Real Life Stuff


So the second semester's over and done and we have -- let me see -- two days between the submission of grades and the start of the summer term. (What fun.) I'm teaching two classes for the summer, and both of them are GE (general education, or core, classes): English 1, or Basic College English, and English 11, or Literature and Society. My English 1 is usually a grammar and writing class, with a bonus novel thrown in if I feel like discussing it at the end of the term; my English 11 is usually divided into genres, and I try and tackle both poetry and prose, and for prose I divide it into short stories and the novel. This summer, I'm trying to tack on a theme to my English 11, and talk about modernity and how it segues into postmodernity and what this means for the writing and the world that's around us now. I'm still wondering how I'm going to execute it for a bunch of freshmen and sophomores who are probably taking this class because they want an easy 1.0 (that's an A, for those of you who aren't in UP) and because "English class is easy".

HEHEHEHEHE. No.

In the meantime, I've got to finish a couple of projects that I've let slide for the last few weeks (months, actually), and prepare for a couple more underway. I'm crossing my fingers that I have time for all of these, plus actual, proper writing -- you know, of the creative kind. My idea notebook is brimming with all sorts of half-baked plots and concepts that are just itching to be released into the wide, wide world.

Anyway.

So it's been kind of an open secret that I am a big fan of YouTube - and I don't mean like, I like cat videos and AutoTune remixes. I love original content, and I'm a big fan of original creators who have been around since before YouTube was acquired by Google and we were all made to sign up with a Google+ account to comment on videos.

So here's a bunch of vlogger (video bloggers) and content creators who you should be watching, if you haven't already. There's a lot of great stuff online that makes me just want to dive in and watch videos for hours. But here are my recs, for your perusal:

John and Hank Green (thevlogbrothers)

So you might be familiar with John Green, who wrote this little book called The Fault in Our Stars, which is coming out as a film this June (August if you're in the Philippines). But parallel to his writing career is his alternative role as half of the Vlogbrothers, with his younger brother Hank. They started out in 2007, as a project in communicating effectively - for a year, they decided that they would cease all textual communication (email, social media, text) and communicate solely through video blogs. This project, called Brotherhood 2.0, became so successful that they ended up spearheading an online community called Nerdfighteria (members are called nerdfighters), where people who identify as nerdy and geeky and strange are given a safe space to feel comfortable and welcomed and are encouraged to do good for themselves, the people they care about, and give back to their communities. I fell into this rabbit hole during my last year of living in Singapore, and I can't tell you how important or valuable their videos were to me at that time.


Charlie McDonnell (charlieissocoollike)

Charlie's gotten a lot of real world media attention as the vanguard of this new wave of YouTube "super stars" - he's the first British YouTubers to have a million subscribers, even though his videos were done in a very homemade fashion and he's pretty much just making hilarious commentaries about his life and the world he lives in. He's dry and a bit sarcastic and a bit apologetic about everything. He's now trying his hand at professionally making short films, still on YouTube, and learning the director's trade. I actually found him through my Doctor Who obsession: I found out about Time Lord rock, and discovered a band called Chameleon Circuit, and Charlie was a member of the band, and a big DW fan as well. It was also through Charlie that I found the Vlogbrothers, and the YouTube community.



Dan Howell (danisnotonfire)

Another British YouTuber who makes crazy commentaries about the world he lives in and the weird stuff happening in real life or on the Internet. He looks like a pasty white Goth dude but he's really about as un-Goth-y as you can get. He also does a lot of collab videos with his housemate Phil, and they host a radio show called The Dan & Phil Show on Radio One in the UK.



Carrie Hope Fletcher (itswaypastmybedtime)

I may be watching a lot of British YouTubers because here's another one. Carrie's actually the younger sister of McFly frontman Tom Fletcher, but she also sings and acts and is actually on the West End right now as Eponine in Les Miserables. But even before that, she's been doing a lot of covers of songs and videos about being a girl -- well, a woman now -- and dealing with life in a very positive manner. She can be a bit annoying or cloying sometimes, but she's actually a lot of fun now that she's figured out the kind of voice that she has online.



Craig Benzine (WheezyWaiter)

Another American comedian, WW is another vlogger who has been doing this for quite some time. He's actually a trained film person, and he used to be an asthmatic waiter who made YouTube videos in order to keep his skills sharp. He has a number of regular segments on his channel, such as Explosion Wednesday (which still isn't a thing), the doobly-doo, and the invisible parts of his apartment. He also keeps a number of clones in his employ - all of whom are regularly fed to the crocodile in the kitchen whenever they are no longer useful.



Other channels you should check out:

Becoming Youtube is a great mockumentary about the current state of YouTube, with interviews with various people in the industry as well as the up-and-coming creators. Benjamin Cook attempts to unravel the secret of becoming YouTube-famous, and ends up finding out why people make videos about themselves, and what it says about the world we live in.

How To Adult is a relatively new series that aims to help young adults and people who are attempting to live independently a bunch of tips and tricks and how-to guides in order to educate them about things that, let's face it, school never really teaches us. So far, they have an episode on how to ask someone out on a date, how to make friends as an adult, and how to do your taxes. Plus, it has one of my favorite female YouTubers, elmify.

The Art Assignment is also another educational video series about art and culture in the contemporary world, and aims to show the audience how art affects us and how we can affect what we experience as art. It's hosted by former museum curator Sarah Urist Green and co-produced with PBS. Corollary to this is The Brain Scoop, which has the adorkable Emily Graslie creating science videos at the Chicago Field Museum. Emily started out as an unpaid grad assistant at the University of Montana's Zoological Museum (which is severely understaffed and underfunded) but through a series of serendipituous moments, was able to move on and move up.

Of course, if we're talking educational videos, I'm going to have to point you to Crash Course and Sci Show and their corollary shows - all of which are produced and created by the Green brothers and sponsored by YouTube.

If you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, I can't help but push you towards The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a transmedia adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which is just one of the most awesome things in the world. The company behind them, Pemberley Digital, has also created Welcome to Sanditon, and their current series, Emma Approved. GO AND WATCH THEM.

Do you have any recommendations that I should put up? Let me know!