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September, 2014

  1. Speech Overview

    September 25, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp

    My speech turned out just okay. Looking back there are things i would do again and things that i would change or have been better prepared for. The good thing i did was the powerpoint. The powerpoint helped me in a couple different ways. First, it allowed me to show two videos i had of the rally relatively easily. This gave people a good idea of what it was like as well as caught their attention. The powerpoint also served as my notecards. It allowed for me to remember the major points that i felt i needed to cover as well as helped me remember what exactly i was planning to say during my rehearsal. The powerpoint also helped me with things such as eye contact. This allowed me to quickly glance at the Powerpoint and be able to read a bullet pretty quickly (since they were only a word or two) and then get back to the speech. The powerpoint also helped me feel more comfortable while speaking. I have given a good amount of presentations with power points in the past so having one for my first major college project helped me feel a lot more comfortable.

    Many of the bad things that occurred as a result of the powerpoint. First the videos made the powerpoint too large to save it anywhere. It took forever and i ended up having to borrow a flash drive in order to be able to show the powerpoint. Also, I made the powerpoint on Keynote, Mac’s version of powerpoint. I had never done this before so I had no ideas how to get it to play on a windows device. This made me look unprepared and was a horrible way to start off my presentation.

    In conclusion the powerepoint created both the bad and the good associated with my presentation. If I could do it all over again i would have been prepared to have to present on a pc instead of assuming i could just present off my computer.

  2. Wake of the Flood

    September 25, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp


    Before Workingman’s Dead became my new favorite, Wake of the flood was my favorite Grateful Dead album. This was their first studio album to be released after a three year hiatus after the release of their previous album, workingman’s dead. This was the first studio dead album to not feature Ron “Pigpen” McKernan because of his death in 1972 due to liver failure. Because of this, the dead was missing a major blues and country influence on this album. There new piano player, Keith Godchaux, had a lot of jazz tendencies, so his addition drastically affected the sound of the album.


    I first began to listen to this album because of an amazing 1989 live version of “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” i had found on youtube. This song is one of the more popular dead songs not on the greatest hits album. It’s lyrics are very deep and Jerry’s voice is perfectly suited for this song. The next song on the album is “Let Me Sing Your Blues Away”. It has heavy jazz influence as anyone even listening to it for the first time can tell. My favorite lines of this song are

    “Only two things in the world I love,
    That’s rock ‘n’ roll and my turtle dove.
    When I was a young man I needed good luck,
    But I’m a little bit older now and I know my stuff.”

    These lines were written by Hunter Moore and he knew that Keith was going to be singing this song. The first two lines are a nice homage to Keiths love of his wife and rock and roll. The second two lines are funny and sad at the same time. Keith was the youngest member of the band at this time, 23 years old to be exact, and hunter intended the part about being a young man to be both comical now and meaningful when Keith got older and would perform this song. Unfortunately Keith would die in a car accident in 1980, so this final meaning would never be reached.

    The next song is “Row Jimmy”, but I’m going to discuss that song at the end. The next song is “Stella Blue”. This song is slow and gives a feeling of longing for someone or something. It is a unique and beautiful song. After that is “Here Comes the Sunshine”. This song is extremely upbeat and is the only song to contain the lyrics “Wake of the Flood”. I used to listen to this song when my day at High School was over and i was walking in the sun to my car. It would express me level of happiness and my feeling of freedom perfectly. For some reason the lyrics

    “Good to know you got shoes to wear when you find the floor,
    Why hold out for more?”

    dead eyes of the world

    always connected with me. The next song is “Eyes of the World”. This song is featured on several greatest hits albums. It’s lyrics are extremely deep and take hours of analyzing and deciphering to truly understand all the subtle meanings. It is up near the top for my favorite dead songs. The final song is “Weather Report Suite”. I was never a big fan of this song. Something always just sounded off to me. However, during liver versions that could last up to 30 minutes the Dead got it right and fixed whatever sounded off.

    Now i would like to discuss my all-time favorite Grateful Dead song, “Row Jimmy”. While not being included on any greatest hits album or even being a frequently played song at concerts, any true deadhead will tell you it is one of the most beautiful songs every written. It is supposed to convey they struggles of two poor lovers down in Mississippi. They live in a “shack” and struggle to get by. This song perfectly displays the struggle of poverty and the worrying that comes along with that. My favorite live version is from a 1989 concert. Jerry at this point looks old and the years of struggling with drug abuse has begun to take its toll. However, he still looks somewhat cheery during his performance of this song. I think this matches the intention of this song perfectly and creates an incredible performance. Below i have posted the lyrics as well as a link to the video. I have bolded the most meaningful lyrics to me and i have bolded and italicized my favorite four lines.

    Julie catch a rabbit by his hair
    Come back steppin’ like to walk on air
    Get back home where you belong
    And don’t you run off no more

    Don’t hang your head, let the two time roll
    Grass shack nailed to a pine wood floor
    Ask the time baby I don’t know
    Come back later, gonna let it show

    And I say row, Jimmy row
    Gonna get there, I don’t know
    Seems a common way to go
    Get down and row, row, row, row, row

    Here’s a half a dollar if you dare
    Double twist when you hit the air
    Look at Julie down below
    The levee doin’ the dopaso

    And I say row, Jimmy row
    Gonna get there, I don’t know
    Seems a common way to go
    Get down and row, row, row, row, row

    Broken heart, don’t feel so bad
    You ain’t got half of what you thought you had
    Rock your baby to and fro
    Not too fast and not too slow

    And I say row, Jimmy row
    Gonna get there, I don’t know
    Seems a common way to go
    Get down and row, row, row, row, row

    That’s the way it’s been in town
    Ever since they tore the juke box down
    Two bit piece, don’t buy no more
    Not so much as it done before

    And I say row, Jimmy row
    Gonna get there, I don’t know
    Seems a common way to go
    Get down and row, row, row, row, row

  3. Workingman’s Dead

    September 18, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp

    While any Grateful Dead fan will tell you that it is impossible to have a favorite Grateful Dead song because there are constantly new songs and rare cuts being discovered.nChoosing just one song to always be your favorite. However i have noticed that there are songs or albums that i will play more often than hoers for a limited amount of time. At this current moment my preferred album is titled Workingman’s dead.

    Workingman’s Dead was released June 14, 1970. This record is my current favorite because it has a country-ish feel to it. Before this record was recorded the Grateful Dead was spending a lot of time with Crosby, Stills, and Nash. So with the Dead spending all this time with them it is understandable why this album has country-ish feel. Another reason for this country feel is that Ron “Pigpen” McKernan had a lot of input on this album. Pigpen had been with the band since its inception and his personal music preferences included country and the blues. All of this led to a very country dead album.pigpen_180x270

    This also was the first album to include lyrics by Robert Hunter. Robert Hunter was a masterful lyricist and would come to write many of the Dead’s successful songs. His lyrics were deep and meaningful because before he became a lyricist he was a semi successful poet. This added to the Dead’s already impressive lyric and melody set. My current favorite song off of this album is titled easy wind. Pigpen actually sang this song, which was unusual because Jerry Garcia usually sang all the sons. This song emphasizes a heavy drinking, hard labor life. Pigpen demonstrated this lifestyle and therefore him singing this song was very appropriate. Unfortunately, this lifestyle would lead to the death of Pigpen a couple years after this album was released. He died at the age of 27 due to liver damage from excessive drinking. easy wind live 1970

  4. RCL Blog Schooling

    September 18, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp

    Ifemelu is very critical of American schooling. She thinks that Americans have it way too easy. She makes a point to say that the rooms are conditioned. She also mentions that all the assignments were easy and only required to be emailed in. She also points to the fact that teachers were willing to give makeup exams as another example of schooling being too easy. Ifemelu is used to much harder schooling conditions in Africa so it is understandable that she would think that Americans have it easy.

    Ifemelu also thinks that the participation aspect of American schooling is unnecessary. She thinks that this policy has resulted in students saying whatever they are thinking, whether it be important or not just to meet this requirement. She thinks that these discussions are pointless because they are filled with “empty words” and “empty thoughts”. Ifemelu states that because of this class discussions do nothing but waste massive amounts of valuable class time.  She has a really tough time with this policy and she says that she usually doesn’t participate.

    If I was Ifemelu, I would notice some of the things she mentions at Penn State University. Some classes do have pointless discussions. For example, econ 102 is simplistic is nature and the discussions that occur in that class are mind numbing at best. However, other classes such as ours have difficult and thought provoking discussions. Therefore, If Ifemelu came to Penn State her statements about empty participation wouldn’t be universally true and she would recognize this. Ifemelu would also notice that schooling here isn’t as easy as she tries to say that schooling in the US is. Yes the rooms for the most part are air conditioned, but that only was a small reason why she thought students had it too easy. She was somewhat correct in that some assignments are submitted online, but things like our speech wasn’t an assignment like that and actually was somewhat difficult. And finally, PSU requires a valid excuse to move an exam. they are strict with things like that so that criticism wouldn’t be valid.

  5. RCL Blog Video

    September 11, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp


    My favorite video of a speech is Stephen Colbert’s 2006 White House Correspondents’ dinner. I personally find Stephen Colbert to be one of the funniest and smartest comedians alive today. His way of blending actual political statements and ideas into clever and witty jokes is remarkable to me. However, I was very surprised when he was invited in 2006 to be a guest speaker at the Correspondents’ Dinner because his fake ultra conservative personality usually makes Republicans look bad. Nevertheless, he did a remarkable job and gave one of the funniest speeches i’ve ever seen.

    This speech could have want many different ways and could have even came across as too harsh but due to Colbert’s mastery of comedy and timing he was able to pull it off masterly. A perfect example of this was his first real joke he gave. He did the usual intro to a speech in front of this many prominent people, complimenting everyone who was there, but then used excellent timing to turn his excitement into a reference to Dick Cheney shooting his buddy in the face during a hunting accident.

    This kind of timing mastery continues throughout the speech. My personal favorite part is when Colbert makes fun of George Bush’s extremely low approval ratings. He uses a barrage of jokes to point out how bad his 32% approval rating truly is. The best timed and funniest joke was when after going on a little bit of a tangent how 32 isn’t that bad (using a glass of water as a reference, a play on the glass half full common analogy). He then put in the end that he wouldn’t drink that last 32% if it really was a drink because the last third is usually backwash. It was hilarious and perfectly timed.

  6. The Origins of the Grateful Dead

    September 11, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp

    The Grateful Dead have always claimed that the reason for their success is their experimentation with different sounds and mixing different genres of music. Even from the start, the Dead didn’t play into just one genre of music and would attempt to play songs live in a different way then they previously had (they would often change the song dramatically with each different performance). When asked about this time Jerry Garcia, the bands informal leader, said, “It was an experimental sound in an experimental time in front of an experimental audience”. In order to understand how this level of experimentation occurred and was cultivated in society at this time you need to have an understanding of the the Dead’s main venue, The Acid Tests.


    The Acid Tests were lavish parties thrown by Ken Kesey and his group of “merry pranksters”. These parties were famous for being an area where large groups of people would take LSD-25 (where the Acid in Acid Tests gets its name) and party and listen to music together. During this time LSD wasn’t illegal and Ken Kesey (who was exposed to substances like LSD and DMT during the CIA’s project MKUltra) was a huge proponent of its use for mental and spiritual enlightenment. In fact, he believed in it so much that each ticket into the acid tests came with a free tab of acid. Like i previously mentioned one of the main forms of entertainment at these parties (other than the acid) was the local bands that Kesey would bring in. In the beginning there were several bands who would perform there, but as time passed the band selection became more and more refined until The Grateful Dead was basically the last one standing. However, just because the Grateful Dead was the main band that performed at the Acid Tests doesn’t mean they took their time their time there seriously.

    The Grateful Dead were also big proponents of psychedelic use. In fact Jerry Garcia’s nickname at the time was “Captain Trips”. At these Acid Tests the Grateful Dead would drop acid along with the crowd. Because of this the band was unpredictable at best. Sometimes they would play for only 5 minutes and then just sit down on stage and relax, or other times they would play for 5-8 hours with long solos and blending songs into one another. This period of heavy psychedelic use would influence a lot of things especially the way in which they prepared their music and lyrics especially in their 2nd and 3rd studio albums, Anthem of the sun and Auxomoxoa. I’ll end this post with the lyrics of their most popular song at this time called  “Can’t Come Down”. This song still shows a verse and chorus organization, a style that they would go away from as psychedelic use continued and then come back to as psychedelic use tapered off.  You can see the influence of the acid tests (especially in the bolded lyrics) in the lyrics and can get a feel for the type of music was popular at these parties.

    Well I’m flying down desert streets
    Wrapped in mother’s winding sheets
    Asbestos boots on flaming feet
    Dreaming of forbidden treats
    When uniforms on nighttime beats
    Ask me where I’m going and what I eat
    I answer them with a voice so sweet:

    I can’t come down it’s plain to see
    I can’t come down I’ve been set free.
    Who you are and what you don’t make no difference to me.

    Well someone trying to tell me where it’s at,
    And how I do this and why I do that,
    With secret smiles like a Cheshire cat,
    And leather wings like a vampire bat,
    I fly away to my cold water flat
    And eat my way tthrough a bowl of fat,
    And I say to the man with the funny hat:

    I can’t come down it’s plain to see
    I can’t come down I’ve been set free.
    Who you are and what you don’t make no difference to me.


    They say I’ve begun to lose my grip,
    My hold on reality is starting to slip,
    To tell me to get off with this trip,
    They say it’s like a sinking ship,
    Life’s sweet wine’s too warm to sip,
    And if I drink I’ll surely slip, [flip?]
    I’ll just say as I take a nip:

    I can’t come down ’til it’s plain to see
    I can’t come down I’ve been set free.
    Who you are and what you don’t make no difference to me.


    So as I dream of forgotten seas
    And granit walls and redwood trees,
    And of the eye that only sees
    Endless mirrors and infinite me’s,
    About the winter’s coming freez
    This afterthought I say with ease,
    To all of you who make your fees:

    I can’t come down ’til it’s plain to see
    I can’t come down I’ve been set free.
    Who you are and what you don’t make no difference to me.



  7. RCL Blog #2

    September 4, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp

    Americanah is an interesting book about of racial difficulties and racial identity in America. In the novel Ifemelu struggles with what her civic role should be in her new home of America. She uses her blog as a way to analyze and complain about the civic life that America is forcing upon her. Other people read her blog and comment back and are interested in her ideas and her life. In doing this Ifemelu’s blog actually becomes a big example of a civic space. It is on this blog that the roles of an immigrant to a society and the role of a society to a new immigrant are discussed. People discuss new ideas and analyze current trends and issues in race relations in America on her blog. This blog becomes a sort of intellectual meeting place for a worldwide community. defines civic space as “Civic spaces are an extension of the community. When they work well, they serve as a stage for our public lives. If they function in their true civic role, they can be the settings where celebrations are held, where  social and economic exchanges take place, where friends run into each other, and where cultures mix.” and i would say that Ifemul’s blog meets most of these criteria. The community it is an extension of would be America as a whole. Her blog is her stage for her public life. She discusses events that occurred in her life and talks about how they affect her. While there isn’t any formal celebrations being held i would argue that her blog is a quasi celebration of maintaining a previous cultural identity while in a new country.  Her blog is also host to tons of social exchanges, people from all over the American community read and comment on her experiences. Many different cultures mix there and gain a better understanding of each other.

  8. Passion Choice blog

    September 3, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp

    dead albums
    For me writing has never come easy. Even writing something as simple as one of these 300 word blog posts is extremely tedious and time consuming for me. There is one exception to this rule; writing about something that truly fascinates and interests me. So when i heard that we had to write 10 of these blogs throughout the semester on something that we were passionate about i was excited, but nervous in choosing a topic that i might lose interest in and make this assignment as painful as most of my previous writing assignments throughout High School. After much careful deliberation, i have only been able to come up with really one main topic that i believe will hold my interest and give me plenty to write about: The Grateful Dead.

    My parents are by no means hippies or the stereotypical “deadheads” but even at a young age i was exposed to 60’s and 70’s bands such as CCR, Janis Joplin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Allman Brothers, Neil Young, Sly and the Family Stone, Pink Floyd, the Who, the Band, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and yes the Grateful Dead. Now i was too young to understand the history, meaning, or importance of any of these bands but i enjoyed to listen to them with my parents. It wasn’t until the end of middle school and the beginning of high school that i began to research and appreciate this vast array of music. I fell in love with what it stood for at the time, the deep almost philosophical meaning of the lyrics, and the level of experimentation with what constituted music at that time. At the beginning of this period of new musical understanding Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin, and CCR were my favorites, but around the beginning of sophomore year in high school one band had stood out from the rest: The Grateful Dead. To this day i have never heard a band with more diversity or beauty when it comes to lyrics, their sound, or even the genre of music they were playing. To this day i never tire of talking about, listening to, or researching more about them. So hands down my first choice for the Passion Blog is writing about the Grateful Dead.

    Since  this assignment requires me to give two possible topics i could write about i will include another even though this topic will undoubtedly not receive the same level of interest or dedication as my first choice. If needed i could write about my participation in sports during high school (mainly Lacrosse and Football, with only wrestling freshman year).

  9. Blog #1

    September 1, 2014 by Garren Christopher Stamp

    Jon Stewart is dead on with his criticisms of the state of arguments in America. I used to be a dedicated fox news viewer. When something big happened in the political world, the hosts would bring in someone who represents the political right and someone who represents the political left to discuss and debate the event. Almost without fail this “debate” would turn into a shouting match with both sides yelling at the other to let them finish. These are the type of arguments that Jon Stewart was criticizing. Neither side went on to the show with the intention of having an intellectual conversation let alone possibly change their opinion. They accomplished nothing but yelling out a few politically charged slogans and further dividing our country on the tough issues.

    Jon Stewart does a good job using good rhetoric in the debates he has on his show. While during the crossover interview he does stress that his show is a comedy show and follows different standards and has different responsibilities than the cable news shoes where these debates occur, Jon Stewart actually does provide several good examples of good rhetoric. The best examples of this are the mini debates he has with Bill O’Reilly when Bill is a guest on the Daily Show. During these respectful debates both Jon and Bill allow the other to talk, act with respect, and come into it with an open mind. These debates truly are remarkable examples of rhetoric can successfully be used.

    For every good debate aired on television there are probably 5 theatrical “debates” to counter it. Luckily it is easy to tell the difference between the two and that way viewers can ignore the bad and watch the good. First, do the debating parties treat each other in a respectful manner (let each other speak vs. interrupting, respectful language vs. name calling, etc.). Good debates require each person to act with respect regarding their treatment of the person they are debating. Theatrical debates are usually a lot less respectful and usually end with the two debating parties trying to yell their opinion over there opponent. Second, do the debating parties appear to come into the debate with an open mind. In good debates the debating parties listen to what the other has to say and allows it to potentially change their perspective. In bad debates candidates don’t truly listen to each other and rant interested in changing their own perspective at all. Finally, pay close attention to how the debate ends. Even if the two parties argued it out extensively during the debate do they end the debate in a friendly respectful manner (a handshake a farewell/thank you comment). Most good debates and good debaters end the debate with a friendly gesture while theatrical debates don’t usually have a kind farewell gesture since both parties don’t respect and are angry with the other side.

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