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Friday, May 8, 2009


Over the past month the Weigle library at Penn had its annual Mashup Contest which celebrates student creativity with video and multimedia.

Check out the top 4 winners above. These are all great, but there's just something VERY funny about our second place winner's video about the muppets talking about the big "O".:

  • Video + Poem + Painting (1st place winner)
    by William Strasser
    "Whether in Classical mythology, Renaissance painting, 20th century poetry or modern music videos, depictions of suffering have never ceased to captivate audiences. I aim to juxtapose these depictions in order to highlight ways they have changed and ways that they remain the same, identifying something inherent to the human condition.

  • The Muppets Take "Manhattan" (2nd place winner)
    by Aaron Walker
    "I'm trying to show that puppets can be lewd AND funny - unlike Avenue Q. Here I've spliced the audio from Woody Allen's "Manhattan" over video from "The Muppets take Manhattan". "

  • No Way Out of the Field of Dreams (3rd place winner)
    by Allison Seelig
    "I am trying to show how baseball serves an important mythic function for the nation by making it into a national security issue obsessed over by the government.

  • Slumdog Millionaire 2 (People's Choice Award-determined by online voting)
    by Akash Barot with Adam El Sehamy and Zhibo Wang
    "If you thought Slumdog Millionare was the last great Bollywood movie, you would be mistaken. Get ready for the sequel!

The 2009 Contest was sponsored by Penn Libraries, the Penn Humanities Forum, the Cinema Studies Program, and College Houses and Academic Services. The 2009 Video Mashup Contest award ceremony was held on April 30, 2009.

Funny UPennWatch ALL the entries HERE

Check out my other Funny Friday posts here!


Other Creative Class Video Projects HERE



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Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Bad Robot
Last January I wrote a post on how Dave Baronoff (C'99, L'02, Mask and Wig) went from lawyer to producer for JJ Abrams.

I am happy to report that Dave is doing extremely well.  This year, not only was Dave the Associate Producer of THIS popular movie, and has appeared on the cover of Ad Age, but come this weekend, you'll see his name taking up the whole screen under the "Associate Producer" credit at the end of the new Star Trek film.

In an interview Dave did earlier this week with a Philly newspaper, Dave tells us why everyone's going to like Star trek:
'“I liked ‘Star Trek’ (growing up), but I was never obsessed with it,” says Baronoff, admitting he was more of a “Star Wars” guy. “What’s amazing about this process is I’ve been converted. What J.J. and the writers have done is to create a new way into the franchise and taken characters beloved by so many and found a way for the rest of us to connect with them.”'
On Monday night I was fortunate enough to see an advance screening of the new Star Trek movie and it was really great. If you like JJ Abrams other works including Cloverfield, "Fringe" (you'll see similar title treatments and special effects in the movie), "Lost" and "Alias", you'll also love this movie for its attention to contemporary story telling and character development. You'll also appreciate the clever incorporation of some of your favorite Star Trek classic lines. Be sure to check out the movie when it comes to theaters this Friday!

Read an interview Dave did earlier this week with a Philly newspaper HERE

Learn more about Dave and his journey in Hollywood
(great for anyone considering a career change or career in Hollywood)

On a related note, if you haven't seen the documentary Trekkies, you must see this to truly understand the Trekkie culture out there!  You'll be amazed!



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What happens when 4 Penn alumni come together to raise money for a good cause? Ask (l to r in pic in left) David Fraga (C'07, Mask and Wig, Sphinx Senior Society, Performing Arts Council), Allam Taj, (Law '09), Sam Adelsberg (C'10), and Andrew Dudum (C'11).

In February, these 4 created LendforPeace.org, a non-profit microfinance platform focused on the Middle East and was recently featured on Fox Business (see interview clip above featuring David Fraga).

LendforPeace.org was founded by these four Penn students (two Jews and two Palestinians) on the premise that grassroots economic development through microfinance may help increase stability in the Middle East. While the founders disagree about a lot of things, it is hard to disagree about a mission of poverty alleviation and job creation.

Supported by such institutions as the Clinton Global Initiative and Ashoka (the largest association of social entrepreneurs in the world), Lendforpeace.org was launched on February 5th at an event on Penn's campus.

UPennVisit www.LendforPeace.org and their Blog HERE

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If you saw "The Celebrity Apprentice" last week, you would have seen that our alum Melissa Rivers (C'89, Tabard) got fired and caused quite a bit of commotion after being fired.

I actually held off on simply showing a clip of the episode without allowing Melissa the opportunity to defend herself. Fortunately I found this clip from her recent appearance on a popular talk show  ...where she did indeed defend herself.

In the clip above, Joan and Melissa Rivers dish why Melissa got so upset. Also, note Melissa's reference to why her alma mater "the University of Pennsylvania" wouldn't be proud of her poor "annunciation and punctuation" in regards to calling contestant Annie Duke a "Whore Pit Viper" when she meant to call her a "Whore". AND a "Pit Viper".  Watch the clip above to see what I'm talking about.




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Tuesday, May 5, 2009


On this happy Cinco de Mayo day, I have a fun, music filled, Penn related, celebration treat for all of you...

Did you catch the Youtube Symphony project that was going around the web a couple of weeks ago?

If you watch closely in the video above, at minute 4:07, you would have found Adam Matta (C'96, Mask and Wig) beatboxing the "brake drum and snare" parts in the Mashup Video.

Adam has gone international with his beatboxing recently:
  • He headlined the Human Beatbox Convention in London, at the Southbank Centre. 
  • Was in Austria the same week, rehearsing with Nihan Devecioglu, who will be a guest artist at the show at BAM Cafe in June.  More info about the BAM gig HERE
Some of Adam's amazing performances (this guy has serious talent!)

More Penn musician posts here

Click to see what other 1996 Penn grads are up to

Check out who is registered on DuelingTampons.com



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Monday, May 4, 2009


This past Wednesday night (4/29/09), Penn alumnus Elon Musk (W'95, C’95) appeared on a popular late night TV program and discussed his electric sports car company Tesla Motors.

Find out:
  • how much this car costs now(!)
  • how the Tesla is environmentally friendly
  • more about the electric car movement
  • a preview of his sleek new, affordable Model S car which will come out in 2 years
At the end of the interview above, Dave cut Elon off just as Elon was about to make "an important point" about this new car. 

I emailed Elon and he told me that the "point was that the real comparison price for the Model S is under $35k, so it's comparable to a high end Ford Taurus, when you consider that gasoline costs a lot more than electricity."
    Elon also did another interview late last week (see video below) with Charles River Venture Partner George Zachary. While this video isn't the best quality, Elon does mention Penn, as well as:
    • his motivation behind his interest in cars
    • what other transportation related projects Elon is interested in (inlcuding an electric plane!)
    • more about the 2 companies he co-founded: SpaceX (space transportation company) and PayPal and how he broke into these businesses
    • his dislike for firing people
    • other CEOs in the Technology space from who he draws inspiration
    • how this current political administration will be helping Tesla
    • how he manages his time between running SpaceX and Tesla


    On a related note, if you haven't already seen this movie, check out Who Killed the Electric Car...it's a fascinating documentary on the whole destruction of the electric car movement in the mid 1990s!

    Musk was featured in the Nov/Dec issue of The Gazette HERE

    Wikipedia info on Musk HERE

    Other ways Penn and our alumni are going green HERE

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