CreComm: A Bittersweet Goodbye

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In life, we often find ourselves fighting to the finish line in one thing or another. We're always looking to complete something, whether it's a puzzle, a book, an essay, a degree, a career - we're always looking forward to the day where we can be done with one thing, and then move onto the other. 

That was certainly my mindset when it came to my final semester in the Creative Communications program. People would ask, "Joey, how's school going?" and my answer would almost always be something along the lines of, "Well, it's almost over, so at least there's a light at the end of the tunnel!"

Well, here I am. Last Friday I handed in my final assignment, and on Sunday night I stepped into the Red River Radio studio to produce the final episode of my precious hip-hop radio show, The Booth. You might say I'm officially through the tunnel. But as I had my last CreComm class, handed in my last CreComm assignment, and signed off on my last CreComm radio show, it was probably one of the most bittersweet feelings I've ever come across in my life, because I realized that I'm really going to miss CreComm. 

Applying for Creative Communications was one of the best decisions I've ever made, and these past two years have been two of the best in my life. The program itself was amazing. The instructors were so knowledgable, and truly invested in the success of their students. I learned technical skills that I never realized I had any interest in ever learning, I became a borderline competent graphic designer, I fell in love with shooting and editing video, I learned how to host and produce a radio show, I became a play-by-play and colour commentator,  and I had countless other experiences that made me realize that the field of communications is exactly where I want to be in life.  

But as great as those things are, that was not what made this goodbye feel bittersweet. The part of CreComm that made it the best two years of my life - is the people. 

Never in my life have I met a group of people more talented, compassionate, selfless, and so enjoyable to be around than the people I've spent these last two years with. CreComm could be a complete nightmare, but being able to go to school and hang out with some of these amazing people boosted my morale to a level that it had no business being at. 

No matter where I go, or what I do, I will hold a special place in my heart for these people for the rest of my life. And I look forward to maintaining some of these relationships, and continuing to be inspired and uplifted by the presence of these truly great people who I have the privilege of calling my friends. 

Finishing CreComm feels like I'm flipping the page on a significant part of my life. I have things on the horizon, and reasons to rejoice at what comes next, but before I do that, I just wanted the opportunity to give these last two years the send-off it deserves. 

My last "CreComm" moment came shortly after 9pm last Sunday night, as what was going to be a simple and modest final segment of The Booth, turned into what felt like a final goodbye to the entire Creative Communications program. Once I turned on the mic to sign off one last time, I realized that I had more to say then: "That's all we have for tonight, take care everyone."

And although the words came out as a goodbye to The Booth, listening back to them days later I realize that it really was more of a goodbye to CreComm. My "listeners" in this sense are really just the people who supported me, inspired me, and pushed me on to get through a program that has really made me a stronger person. 

So with that, I now present to you my goodbye to CreComm, and a thank-you to everyone who was with me along the way - straight from The Booth on Red River Radio. 

Famous People Play Handball Too

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There are only a couple things left standing in my way of finishing the whirlwind of an experience that has been Creative Communications at Red River College. Now is not the time to reminisce as there's still so much left to do. That time will come, but right now one of the final obstacles ahead is a documentary about the relatively unknown and underrated sport of handball.

I'm finding out many new things about handball as this project gets closer to completion, but perhaps the best tidbit of information we received was that Bill Cosby was actually a legitimate handball enthusiast. Not only that, but he's got a famous bit called "Handball at the Y" that is considered a "classic" Cosby comedy routine. 

Whoever said handball isn't a mainstream sport probably feels pretty silly right about now. Take that racquetball. 

You Had Me At Hello: The 20/20 Experience

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After a seven-year absence from music, Justin Timberlake has officially returned with Tuesday's release of his newest album, The 20/20 Experience.  

Before I get to my thoughts on the album, I feel like I need to make a confession: I liked the album before I even listened to it. 

I would consider myself a fairly big Justin Timberlake fan, however it was only until the recent resurgence of R&B music (see The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Miguel, and a potential D'Angelo comeback) when I first recognized that I needed some new JT in my life. However, after that realization, Justin's musical comeback has been the only thing I have thought about for months. But, fortunately for me, and the entire R&B genre, that day has come - and Timberlake certainly isn't rusty.

It's true: The 20/20 Experience could've been a Nickelback cover album and I'd still have it on repeat for the next three months. But even after throwing all of my Justin Timberlake bias aside (if that's possible) I still think this is a great album. 

The new album takes the smooth falsetto-filled vocals and electro-futuristic production that we loved from FutureSex/LoveSounds, and turns it into a hypnotic, emotional, seductive, and playful ten track album that only includes two tracks under six minutes long. 

20/20's lack of mainstream radio appeal is one of the things that sets this album apart from his last. In FutureSex/LoveSounds, the songs were short, catchy, and made for the airwaves. Conversely, in 20/20 the songs are long, layered, and pleasantly repetitive, making the album flow together smoothly, allowing you to get lost in the music.

But don't let the seven minute average song length deter those of you with a short attention span, as this might be Timberlake's catchiest album yet. JT snatches you up right off the top with Pusher Love Girl, putting his falsetto on full display in a snap-worthy, sax-assisted track that had me screaming "HE'S BACK!" after the first minute. How's this unbiased approach working out so far?

That fanboy response to Pusher Love Girl was very similar to my reaction when I first listened to Suit and Tie a couple of months ago. But one of the most encouraging things about this album is that Suit and Tie is probably the weakest song on 20/20. But following up Suit and Tie are two of the stronger songs on the album in Don't Hold the Wall, a song that screams Timbaland (in the best way), and Strawberry Bubblegum, the token "sexy" track on a JT album complete with a delightful beat change half way through the song to help keep the song fresh and the album flowing. Strawberry Bubblegum is a great example of the hypnotic nature of the album, as the eight minute track flies by, with soft vocals and a pulsing electronic sound that takes your mind out of reality and into some sort of JT induced trance. 

Despite the large selection of great tracks on this album, the clear standout is Mirrors. We were introduced to this song a few weeks ago, as it was announced as the second single off the album. However, with the track clocking in at eight minutes, it hasn't really gotten the kind of boost in exposure that you would expect out of a Timberlake single. Taking a page out of the FSLS track, LoveStoned, we're reintroduced to the lost art of beat-boxing, oddly enough on the most romantic track of the album. But as cheesy as beatboxing can sound, it certainly works in this track, as producer Timbaland seems to have a way of finding the right feel for a Justin Timberlake song.

Mirrors is a nice track because not only is it well-produced and well-performed musically, but lyrically it breaks down the indestructible nature that most of us see JT with, and shows that he's just a hopeless romantic sap like the rest of us. Did I say us? I meant to say you. That's not me at all...

All in all, The 20/20 Experience is a very satisfying album. Is a masterpiece piece? Probably not. But for those of you who have been patiently waiting for one of the most impressive entertainers of this era to release some damn music already, you'll be pleased to know that this album was definitely worth the wait. 

The good news is, we won't have to wait too much longer for more JT, as he's already announced that he's got another ten tracks on the way for the second half of The 20/20 Experience. Oh Justin, you know exactly how to get back into our good books. But who are we kidding, you never left. But the important thing now is: I think it's safe to say that both JT, and R&B music are officially back. And I think that's just great. 

Best Tracks: Pusher Love Girl, Mirrors, Strawberry Bubblegum, Blue Ocean Floor
Weakest Tracks: Dress On and Body Count (Aka: don't bother with the deluxe edition)

In the Arms of The Maker

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It's hard to find the right words to describe the feeling of losing a friend, especially one as kind, caring, and incredible as Scott. Thanks to Noah to helping us find those words. 

You'll be forever loved, and forever missed by so many people. We'll see you again, Scott. 

The Doubt of a Fighter

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In my life as a Christian, doubt has always been something that significantly effects my life. When I first started really taking my faith seriously, my doubt was something I was incredibly embarrassed about, and I thought that it meant that my entire faith was nothing but a lie I was telling just to fit in.

Along the way I learned that doubt was something that everyone dealt with, and that doubt can be used as motivation to try to learn more and to dig deeper to figure out what you actually believe.

But when I was told that everyone deals with doubt, I always imagined that to strictly apply to someone's walk with God, and any advice I received regarding doubt really didn't apply to those who weren't at least seeking God in some way or another.

However, last week I was watching an episode of The Ultimate Fighter of all things, and there was a segment where the coach Chael Sonnen was giving advice to one of his fighters. Both the question being asked, and the answer that Sonnen gave made me recognize how prevalent doubt is, not just in the Christian faith, but in the world we live in. What struck me even more was how almost identical the advice was for fighting as it is to faith.

Many Christians, and especially young Christians, think they are alone in their doubt. Believe it or not, these people should listen to the wise words of Chael Sonnen: "It's okay, and it's normal."

The day I was told just that, was the day when everything changed in my relationship with God. Doubt does not have to mean that your on the road to failure. The best way to handle doubt in any aspect of life is to acknowledge it, talk about it, and use it for motivation to learn more, dig deeper, and be better. And that is some of the best advice I've ever been given.