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Sarah Miller Paints Birmingham Landmarks


Sarah Miller’s painting of famous landmarks In Birmingham

Sarah Miller’s painting of famous landmarks In Birmingham

On September 6, 2014, I attended the 2014 Artwalk in Birmingham. This interesting event broadened my horizon as to why people my age should learn to care about artwork. Art is something that society needs to learn how to appreciate in an order to make us better rounded individuals. There were many different types of artists on hand, but the one that really caught my attention was Sarah Miller.

Miller was one of more than 200 artists whose work was on display during the 2014 Artwalk in downtown Birmingham.  Now in its 13th year, the juried art show includes painters, sculptors, photographers, performance artists and musicians from around the state.  Office buildings and loft apartments became art galleries for 48 hours, while downtown’s landmark galleries Space One Eleven and beta pectoris welcome numerous first-time visitors alongside their loyal patrons.

At her tent, which was located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 23rd Street North, Miller had on display “This Is Birmingham”. The exhibit featured many different works of art that capture the inner essence of what exactly is Birmingham. Her work captured the inner essence of what exactly is Birmingham because her works of art feature many iconic landmarks of the city. These iconic landmarks include Regions Field, the downtown skyline, and The Vulcan. These are probably some of the most iconic landmarks in the city. Thus, her title makes sense given the subjects of her paintings.

Miller’s paintings used many vibrant colors that appeared to jump off the canvasses.  In this series, some of the main colors that she uses are yellow, black and white.  These colors contrast with one another well.  I thought that these colors were an excellent choice for the images that the artist was working with.  These colors make the paintings appear to be stunning to me.  Her color choice not only amazes me, but the placement of the colors within the artwork.  If Miller had not gotten her placement right, then the colors would not have worked nearly as well together as they do.  I saw this whenever I squinted my eyes.  The shapes that I saw were numerous squares, rectangles, and triangles, just to name a few.

The way that Miller had the exhibition arranged was interesting to me.  I found this interesting because I had never seen an entire exhibition displayed in this fashion before.  She was not in a store, gallery, or anything of that sort.  The space that she occupied was a tent.  She did something that many businesses do in order to get people interested in what they have to offer.  She had some of her most expensive products on the outside of her tent for every passerby to see and she had her more inexpensive pieces inside with her.  I thought that this was an excellent plan of action for her to have.  I firmly believe that by her having that plan of action, she was able to sell more paintings than she would have any other way.  I thought that the purpose of the pieces on the outside of the tent was to get your attention and to get you to come and buy something on the inside of the tent.  I thought that her choice of display did affect how long someone looked at something.  The large paintings got your attention and made you stay at her tent longer than the average person would stand and look at the small paintings.

When I squint my eyes and stand closer, I see all of the lines, shapes, and colors that are within the piece.  The further away from the piece that I stand, the more difficult it is to notice the individual details as well as you do whenever you stand close to the piece.  I did not see anything from a distance that I could not see up close.  The subject of the exhibition was fascinating to me.  I found the subject fascinating because I would have never imagined someone wanting to paint pictures of famous landmarks.  I had never thought that an artist would consider the painting famous landmarks of Birmingham, especially when compared to something as famous as the Golden Gate Bridge.  The subject of the exhibit is everything that is great about the city of Birmingham.  I think that Miller painted these pieces because she wanted to show off everything that is great about this wonderful city.  I think that Miller being from Birmingham had a huge impact as to why she decided to paint this series.

I had an excellent time with my parents at the Birmingham Artwalk this past Saturday.  My parents really liked doing something different.  Both of them said that throughout the day, “they felt as though they were walking around Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana”.  All of the musicians and the diversity of the crowd helped to add to the experience of the event.  I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the crowd for a Saturday in the fall.  I was also shocked when I observed that there were many people, both young and old, at the Birmingham Artwalk.  Both of these things surprised me because I would have never thought that people in my generation could ever appreciate art.

I would highly recommend going to this fantastic event at the next available opportunity.  I would highly recommend this as a great educational experience to anyone.  It really opened my eyes to that art is not nearly as boring as I gave it credit for.  Art is something that a person has to develop a taste for in order to appreciate.  I have learned to appreciate art more the older that I have gotten.

The 16th Street Baptist Church Was Never The Same After The Bombing


This is part of the memorial that was dedicated to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

This is part of the memorial that was dedicated to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Back in September, we watched a documentary titled “Four Little Girls” in my English class. This documentary was about the innocent victims from the 16th Street Baptist Church bombings, among other things. This was not only a documentary about the bombings, but it is also about the events that happened both before and after this horrific event. Spike Lee, who was the director of the documentary, told the history of the event in a new and interesting way. He used many interesting elements to captivate his audience through the music of the film, the people interviewed in the movie, media in the film, and the choice to show the autopsy photos of the girls from directly after the bombing.

One interesting way that Spike Lee told the story of the bombing was through the music of the film. The music played a key role in the documentary because in some parts of the movie it was more powerful to play music than to have people talking. For instance, at the beginning of the movie instead of making the choice to play a clip from one of the interviews, Spike took a risk and opted to play music. The music that he chooses to play was inspired from the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. This made perfect sense to do this because it captivated his audience. I thought that it helped to captivate his audience because it broke up the monotony of just listening to people talk throughout the documentary. It also helped to introduce to the viewers the seriousness of the events that had taken place.

Another technique that Lee used to keep his viewers interested is the people that he interviewed for the documentary. Spike Lee interviewed not only friends and family of victims, but also other people that were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. An example of this would be that Lee interviewed many of the key figures from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The film of Governor George Wallace’s speeches on why segregation should last for forever helped to give the viewer some necessary background as to why the civil rights movement was important. While it was important for the director to interview the friends and family of the victims to document the hardship that they continue to experience to this day, it was even more important to give the viewer more than one perspective. If the viewer only gets the perspective of the family members, then the audience will become bored and uninterested because the message will become redundant to them. However, the more perspectives that are available to the viewer, the more interesting the piece will be to them. When the audience is interested, they might take something valuable away from the film.

The third technique that that Lee used to keep his viewers interested is the documentary is using old media in the film. When I say old media, I am referring to the use of the front page of newspapers that came out the day after the tragedy and the television news broadcasts that reported the story. Throughout the documentary, the front pages of newspapers from all across the country flashed across the screen. I found it interesting to get a glimpse into all the differing perspectives from all around the nation on this horrific event. Some newspapers made it an above the fold event, while others hardly gave it the attention it deserved. By adding some examples of old media to the documentary, it added an element that would have been missing from the film.

The last technique that I considered important that Spike Lee used in the documentary was the choice to show the autopsy photos of the children from directly after the bombing. The choice to show these photos in the documentary provided the wow factor that had been missing for much of the film. When the photos appeared on the screen, it was something that just immediately grabbed your attention. These images were so graphic that I understand why it was controversial for them to appear in the documentary. However, it seemed perfectly appropriate to show the photos in this situation. By showing the photos, it brings across the point of just how brutal of a crime this was. If the bombing had never happened, then the children could have gone on to become perfectly productive members of society.

I really enjoyed this documentary. Since I grew up in Louisiana, I never really learned anything about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. When I watched this documentary, I was surprised as to how informative and educational it was. I was not expecting that at all. I thought that this would be just another uninteresting history documentary. I say that because I had seen documentaries on World War I and World War II and they were very dry and boring. However, this documentary was not like that at all. I was wrong to say the least. Spike Lee does an excellent job using many different methods to keep his audience moving along with the film. I was never at a point where I was completely uninterested in what was going on in the documentary. I would highly recommend this piece to anyone. I hope that future classes get to see this film for years to come. It is important to continue to educate future generations so they can learn from the mistakes of the past.

My Vision of Myself as a Reader and a Writer


A person can have a couple of different visions of themselves as a reader and writer. I have a mostly positive vision of myself as a reader and a writer. I think that I am a decent reader, but playing football at Birmingham-Southern College does not allow me to dedicate much time to reading for pleasure. I think one of my weaknesses for reading is that I am a slow reader. This is especially true when it comes to reading things for school. When I am reading things that I do not understand, I will spend longer than I anticipated trying to make sense of what is going on. I am going to challenge myself to read for pleasure for at least half an hour every day and to not trying and spend so much time reading things I do not understand for school. Instead, what I need to do is to ask questions about what I am having trouble understanding in my readings.

I also see myself as a decent writer. I think that some of my weaknesses are grammar and word-choice. I also find I am repetitive in papers that I am writing. What I mean is that I have a tendency to say something that I have said earlier, just with different words. One goal that I have is to commit to actually keeping up with my blog. The only way that I will improve is practice my writing. I have a tendency to start a blog and then I will never follow through with it. This time, I will work to change that. Overall, I think that I am a decent writer with a lot of room for improvement.

There is a wide range of websites, magazines, newspapers, and people that I follow on Twitter to get information from. The websites that I visit on a regular basis are yahoo.com and espn.com. I will go to Yahoo and ESPN many different times throughout the day to see the updated content throughout the day. I like going to both websites to get all the news that I need. Some of the magazines that I read are The Economist and Sports Illustrated. Some of the newspapers that I read are the “USA Today” and “The New York Tines”. I read these newspapers over others because I am able to get them free at Birmingham-Southern College. Some of the people that I follow on Twitter are Lars Anderson, Bill Simmons, Dan Patrick, Paul Finebaum, Dana O’Neil, Jim Dunaway, Mark Cuban, Drew Brees just to name a few. The last five books that I read were “Business as a Calling”, “Delivering Happiness”, “The Mocking Bird”, “License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver”, and “For What It’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker”.

I decided to take this class for a variety of reasons. I wanted to take this class because I wanted to take advantage of the limited Journalism related classes that Birmingham-Southern offers. Originally, my dream in life was to get a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Alabama and to one day host my own sports-talk radio show. However, sometimes things change. During the spring of my Senior Year of High School, I had the opportunity to live a different dream of mine. That dream was to play college football. I thought that when I decided to play college football, I was giving up one dream for another. However, I was wrong. I realized that by playing college football, it would give me a perspective on the game that few journalists have. I would have an ability to talk about the game in a way that most people cannot. This class gives me a further opportunity to hone the skills that I will need in order to have a chance to be successful in the industry.

I am extremely excited to take this class. I think that this class will help me to develop the skills that I need so I can get a job in the real world doing what I really want to do for the rest of my life. I think that if you are truly happy in what you are doing, then you will never work a day in your life. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to see if I truly like Journalism enough to want to do it for the rest of my life.

Whats Wrong With Cooperstown and Why Mark McGwire Deserves To Be a Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame


As Induction Weekend is upon us, I just wanted to reveal the hypocrisy that has come to exist in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I think that its wrong for Tony La Russa to be honored this weekend for his achievements and for Cooperstown to completely not acknowledge the man who helped Tony La Russa become as famous as he is.  The man I am talking about Mark McGwire.  If the Hall of Fame wants to honor a manager who saw a lot of his success come from a man who is a known Steroid user, then I think McGwire deserves to become a member of the greatest Fraternity in all of Baseball.  In my opinion, all of the Baseball Purists out there need to embrace the Steroid use that has plagued baseball and need to stop trying to sweep the issue under the rug.  Its just doesn’t make any sense to me how one can be praised while the other is treated like he never even existed.  

However, I completely understand where the Baseball Purists are coming from.  Their point of view is that they think that the Steroid Era is a Black Eye on the game and should never be acknowledged.  If this is the way that they feel, then they need to take all of the records away from every known steroid user.  

While I will never claim to be a fan of either McGwire or La Russa, I think that Cooperstown needs to do the right thing and either acknowledge both or neither and not one or the other.  If the purpose of Cooperstown is to recognize and honor the history of America’s Pastime, then the Steroid Era needs to be acknowledged in some way or form.  I also think that Barry Bonds and Pete Rose also need to be inducted into Cooperstown.  The reason is because eventually people will forget about the mistakes that were made and history will eventually come to repeat itself.  The whole reason why we have to learn about history in school is so we don’t make the same mistakes that our ancestors made.  If the issue is thought about this way then it makes perfect sense why all the known steroid users should be put into the Hall of Fame. 

2014 National Championship Preview


           Well we are finally here.  We are at the conclusion of March Madness.  This tournament has never disappointed from start to finish.  I am sad to see it go, but we still get to celebrate the greatest tournament in all of sports for one more night.  Who would have thought at the beginning of this tournament we would see a #7 seed playing a #8 seed for the national championship.  I know that I sure didn’t.  However, that is what makes this tournament so great.  Just when you think you know it all, the unexpected happens.  

#7 Connecticut VS #8 Kentucky

           I think that this is going to be a fantastic game to watch tonight.  I think that it’s so fitting that we will finish this tournament with a game that few people thought that this could happen.  We have a game between two evenly matched teams.  Both teams have gotten hot at the right time.  If the game comes down to three point shooting and free throws, Connecticut has the advantage because they shoot 39% from behind the arch and 77% from the free throw line.  However, I can never count Kentucky out because of all the comebacks that they have made in the tournament this year.  After their win saturday, they are now 4-0 in games that they have trailed at halftime in the tournament this year.  I think that physically, Kentucky has an advantage because of all their size and strength.  Another area that Kentucky has an advantage is talent wise.  However, this cannot be the only thing you rely one because talent will only get you so far.  

Prediction:

          I think that this is going to be a fantastic game tonight.  These are two teams that are evenly matched.  This is going to be a difficult game to call, but I am going to try and do it.  I think that Kentucky will win this game off of yet another game-winning three pointer from Aaron Harrison by the score of 82-79.  Regardless of what the outcome is tonight, this tournament has turned out to be better than anyone could have imagined and this game will be just the tip of the iceberg.  

First Four Day 2


Last night we were treated to some phenomenal basketball.  Both games went pretty much how I expected them to go.  Albany got their first ever tournament win last night.  Since they won, we live to see what everyone else is calling ugly uniforms for another couple of days.  North Carolina St. continues to prove to the world that they do indeed belong in the tournament.  Tonight we will see much of the same type of action.  The second night starts with a battle of #16 seeds with the Cal Poly Mustangs playing the Texas Southern Tigers.  Our second game matches a pair of #11 seeds with the Iowa Hawkeyes vs. the Tennessee Volunteers.  I expect both games to be just as much if not more competitive than the action we saw last night.

 

#16 Cal Poly Mustangs vs. #16 Texas Southern Tigers 5:40 p.m. cst

I think that this will be just as highly competitive of a game as what we saw in the early game last night.  No one thought that either team would be here coming into their respective conference tournaments last week.  Texas Southern finished 3rd in the SWAC and Cal Poly finished 6th in the Big West.  Both teams are ecstatic to be here in the Big Dance.  Both believe that they each have the potential to beat Wichita St. and make history.  Statistically, one would give the edge to Texas Southern as they dominate the Mustangs in every category possible.  However, I believe that one cannot make a prediction based on stats alone.  You also need to take into consideration a team’s heart.  Cal Poly showed a lot of heart last week in the Big West tournament.  A lot of teams would have just folded on their season with having a losing record, but Cal Poly didn’t.  They continued to fight and grind their way towards an automatic bid by winning their conference tournament.  If they continue to show the same amount of heart and toughness that I have seen over the last week, then I think that they can come out on top tonight.

 

Prediction: I think that this will be a close game just like we saw last night.  I think that Cal Poly will eventually start to pull away and advance to take on undefeated Wichita St. on Friday  I think that Cal Poly will win this game by the score of 65-57.

 

#11 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. #11 Tennessee Volunteers

This is another game that has a very intriguing matchup.  The Vols finished 4th in the SEC and the Hawkeyes finished 6th in the Big Ten.  Statistically speaking Iowa seems to have edge in every category.  The average over 80 ppg compared to just a little over 70 ppg for the Vols.  Both teams have about the same field goal percentage as they both shoot well over 40% from the field.  Most people will probably be favoring the Vols in this one because before they lost to Florida in the semi-finals of the SEC Tournament, they had previously won five games in a row. 

 

Prediction: I believe that the Hawkeyes will win simply because they will possess an intangible that it takes to win.  This intangible is that their head coach’s son had surgery earlier today.  The team will rally around their coach’s son and win the game tonight.  I think that the game will be competitive.  However, I think that Iowa will eventually pull away and win this game by the score of 82-71

NCAA First Four Preview Day 1


While the NCAA Tournament may not officially start till Thursday, the First Four actually begins tonight.  Tonight we have two fairly evenly matched games tonight.  The first game is #16 Albany vs. #16 Mount St. Mary’s at 6:40 p.m. est on TruTV.  The other game pits #12 Xavier vs #12 North Carolina St.  at about 9:10 p.m. est on TruTV.  

1. #16 Albany vs. #16 Mount St. Mary’s 

This game features a pair of teams that were not supposed to be representing their conferences in March Madness.  Albany is representing the American East and and Mount St. Mary’s represents the Northeast Conference.  Both teams had to climb an uphill battle in order to get to where they are today.  They both finished in fourth place in their respective conferences.  The Mountaineers prefer to just shoot three-pointers the entire game.  Whereas Albany prefers to play by attacking the inside and driving towards the rim.  This game could play into Albany’s hands because by being a team that likes to attack the inside, they might be able to force Mount St. Mary’s to get into foul trouble capitalize that way.  Both teams are feeling great about themselves after coming out of nowhere to win their conference tournaments.  The question that will get answered tonight is which team will best be able to capitalize on that momentum.  

Prediction: I think that Albany will win this game tonight.  This game will come down to who will be able to best control the tempo and stay out of foul trouble.  This will be a close game and then Albany prevails in the last two minutes of the game due to the foul trouble of Mount St. Mary’s by the score of 62-55.  The winner will strive to become the first ever #16 seed to take down the #1 overall seed in the Florida Gators.

 

2. #12 Xavier vs #12 North Carolina St.

This is going to be the game of the night.  The game represents two average teams from some of the best conferences in basketball in the Big East in the ACC.  We will once again get to see a the rivalry of the Big East vs. the ACC.  I think that North Carolnia St. will win this game because since Dayton and Xavier were rivals in the A-10, I would expect for North Carolina St. to have a homecourt advantage tonight.  N.C. State has more momentum than Xavier after advancing to the semi-finals of the ACC tournament and I expect to see this momentum carry over into tonight’s affair.  

Prediction: I think that N.C. State has way too much going for it after advancing to the semi-finals of the ACC tournament.  I believe that this game will be highly competitive, but the ACC will prevail in this affair.  N.C. State will win by the score of 72 to 64.  Like the earlier game, I am predicting that this game will remain fairly close until the waning minutes.  However, North Carolina St. will win simply because of the home-court advantage discussed earlier.

 

I think that we will be in for a treat over the next two days.  These game are of higher quality than those in previous years.  The First Four is finally starting to become the premier event that the NCAA had hoped for when the expanded the tournament a few years ago.  Be sure to tune in over the next couple of days as the madness gets going tonight.

Super Bowl XLVIII Preview


Today is the day that we all have been waiting for.  It’s Super Bowl Sunday.  We have been waiting all football season for this day and it’s finally here.  I know that all of y’all are sick of all the analyzing and dissecting of this game from every conceivable angle that has been going on for the last two weeks.  However, please humor me and allow me to give my last-minute analysis.  

Keys To The Game

1. Denver Broncos’ Offense vs Seattle Seahawks’ Defense

              This was pegged as the featured story line going into the game.  Both are ranked number one in the NFL in their respective categories.  However, the question has been for the last two weeks as to which one would give.  One has to give, because the Super Bowl can’t end in a tie.  If Peyton Manning wins this game, I believe that this will cement his legacy is the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

2. The Weather

            This has been billed as the main story since it was announced that New York and New Jersey would host the Super Bowl.  However, it looks like that the weather will end up being a non-factor in this game.  The NFL has lucked out in this one, because the area is forecasted to get about seven inches of snow tonight.  I personally had wanted to see some snow during the game, because football is meant to be played in the snow.  However, it looks like it’s going to be beautiful weather for both the fans and the players.

3. Special Teams

         I personally believe that this game will come down to special teams.  I believe that a kick will be made or missed to win the game.  I think that it would be poetic if the game were to end this way since Rodger Godel has talked about eliminating the extra point.  If the game comes down to special teams, then I believe that will validate the need to keep extra points around.  This game could not only come down to a field goal.  I believe that this game could also come down to a kickoff or a punt being returned for a touchdown.

 

Prediction

       I believe that this game will not only live up to the hype, but it will exceed expectations.  This will be a great game.  Its Old School vs. New School.  I believe that Peyton Manning will come out on top.  I believe that if he wins tonight, then his legacy will be permanently cemented as the greatest Quarterback in NFL history.  I believe that this game will come down to special teams.  I think that the Broncos will win this game on a 40+ yard Field Goal as time expires to win the game 27-24.  

 

Saints Vs Seahawks NFC Divisional Playoff Game


The Saints and the Seahawks meet today at Seattle in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game. This a a huge game as the winner will go to the NFC Championship. The Saints are trying to shock the world and continue a magical playoff run. Last week Seattle was off since they are the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the Saints won in Philadelphia on a Shayne Graham Field Goal as time expired for the first road playoff win in franchise history. The Saints are trying to overcome the moniker that they are an indoor team and cannot win outdoor games. Seattle is trying to win and host the NFC Championship next Sunday.

Top Three Keys To The Game

1. The Weather

The Saints were able to overcome the weather in The City of Brotherly Love, but can they do it again in Seattle. The Weather Forecast calls for a high of 48 and a low of 42. It is supposed to rain early and often during the game. It is also supposed to be windy. This will be the ultimate way for the Saints to proclaim that they are not just an Indoor Team

2. The Crowd:

The crowd in Seattle is known as the 12th Man. They recently broke the World Record. I think that the Saints have an advantage here because they played at Seattle earlier this year and know what to expect as far as the noise and weather go. The Saints also need to score against Seattle early and often in order to take the crowd out of the game early.

3. Third Down Efficiency:

This will be key for both teams to be able to sustain drives and keep their respective defenses off the field. The last time these two teams played, the Saints were 6/15 for 40%. They will have to be much better that that if they want to have a chance against Seattle’s offense.

Prediction:
I think that despite what all the National Media is saying, the Saints have a legitimate chance. The Saints always have a chance as long as Drew Brees and Sean Payton are working together. I think that this will be a close game and will come down to special teams. The Saints will win 38-35.

Sports Update on 7/20/11


We have had a very interesting summer sports wise. We have the NFL lockout looming, which I do not think will end any time soon. There are simply too many issues for this to get resolved by tomorrow. The revenue sharing and the rookie wage scale look to be the issues that will prolong a deal from getting done. In other news we now officially have a lockout in the NBA. I do not see us having a season in the NBA nextyear, as there are just too many teams loosing money for there to beable to agree on anything by october. I firmly enjoyed watching the Home Run Derby and the allstar game last weekend. I was happy to see Adrian Gonzalez win the Homerun Derby and The N.L. win the allstar game. Prince Fielder played an amazing game and completely deserved the MVP award As a side note, I would like to congradulate the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Bruins, and the University of South Carolina Baseball Program for winning titles in there respective leagues. Stay tuned for more updates on the NFL and NBA lockouts. I will also post any big name deals getting done on the MLB tradedeadline. Thank You for reading and would deeply appreicate any coments/suggestions for future blog entries, J.B.

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