Gator Prints The Student News Site of Crystal Lake South High School Thu, 23 Jan 2020 18:15:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How I Made My Way to Europe Thu, 23 Jan 2020 18:15:00 +0000 I will begin to state that I have only kept the dearest of friends I made unexpectedly and rather rapidly during my two week stay on the outskirts of Muskegon, Michigan. How I yearn for its signature soft summer breeze. Its beautiful, deeply rooted evergreen trees that expanded far beyond the brisk, taunting glow that the earth gave off around me. I remember the shortfall of the cell phone clicks, ticks, beeps, rings and vibrations that otherwise stunted the sensuous palpitations that nagged and toggled all such organs beneath my ribcage. I was sleep deprived for the majority of my visit,  the night time the only opportunity to rack my brain. More so, I spent most afternoons thoughtlessly fatigued from the continuous withdrawals of creative energy our elders prompted of us musicians. The days were long, the nights encrypted in a sweet, shallow haze of OFF bug spray and light bonfire smokes. I often awoke bathed in a cold sweat, and my bones felt as If they were shifting in and out of various states of rigor mortis. I was ecstatic.

The tenth of July was a day I will never forget  as long as I live.(2019)


For myself personally, financial stability has never been considered an issue prevalent in my family. However, I have a distinct awareness in that my parents didn’t grow up nearly as privileged as I am- I have been blessed, to say the least, with an insurmountable opportunity to flourish as a young woman. I’ve gone on countless vacations, driven through many states, stood upon landmarks to bewilder the soul. A music and arts stay away camp I attended multiple summers allowed me to tune my craft to the most delicate of precision and artistic efficiency. I’ve wandered through airports of grand, clean structures, and those of a rural, dank foreign air. I’ve been Lost within an adventurous haze of fascinating individuals, pungent sounds, the thrill of exhaustion coursing through my body in livid color. Because of my father, who has slaved for the Des Plaines Police Department for longer than I’ve been alive, awake the odd hours of the night as the rest of the world engrossed in lifeless slumber. My mother, who has been employed full time since I was a toddler, single handedly manages all of the purchasing logistics for a multi million dollar waste management company. Truly, I’ve been given more than a child could possibly deserve. My youthful years in transition to young adulthood will always go down in my memory as carefree, bountiful, joyous.

However, childhood doesn’t last forever- It was time for me to start taking some personal and financial responsibility, my parents encouraged.  Around November of my sophomore year is when I began applying for part time jobs in my area. I would scrounge valiantly for any sort of lead I could find online-indeed, monster, snag-a-job. I was applying everywhere, yet there was no company who was willing to hire an aloof teenager, never mind one who doesn’t have the flexibility to work long hours and tailor my schedule to a job. I didn’t actually begin working until May of 2019, when I received a call from the place of my nightmares.

When I entered the doors of the Crystal Lake Little Caesars for my first job interview, the cool and collected outdoor air dissolved into a damp, raunchy, humid smelling musk. The automated bell chimed in the doorway to alert my presence, as If I was expected by somebody. The floor was gritted with dirt, lumps of molding dough, footprints condensed in flour and discolored pepperoni pieces. The man behind the counter spoke on the phone in some Indian language I recall, perhaps Hindi now that I think about it. He ended the call abruptly as I turned to meet his eye, approaching him with caution- my interview attire, I observed, far too formal for the setting. 

“Hi. Emma right? I’m Bilal, nice to meet you.”

“ Hi! Wonderful to meet you!”

I shook the meaty, sweaty paw he offered out to greet me.

“So what’s your availability like? When can you start?”

I was drawn aback. I came to the interview with the expectation of, well, being evaluated based off my qualifications. Which I have to admit, really wasn’t much- I have a relatively high GPA. I’m really involved with the school band. I’ve volunteered at animal shelters before. 

“Um-” his bulging brown eyes pressed me to flee. “I guess I can start next week Friday.”

“Great. See you then, Emma.”

Retreating to the Civic, my father scraped up a fresh expression of curiosity.

“The job is mine.”


i : Le Début- pour Clèment

“I walked in parched,

Skating on broken glass and wallowing in the cremated remains

Of the love I had before me 

Digging in the ashes 

Finding a dead boy’s tooth

Cased in my brain as a piece of the delicate jaw 

Begging for it’s tough edges to sink into my skin

Now weak




Crying in my room because 

Before I went in I was in love 

And when I went out I was

Continuously in love with another 

A game of a sort like connect the dots where

We follow the markings and wait for the right one 

But I butchered the beautiful picture 

The first and the eighth, the second and the ninth 

We don’t look right together

They all fight the same 

So with the urgency of a toddler’s fist

I scribble them out 


Now I met you

In a place of art

My friends pages were 

Disoriented, from hell and back 

They had 

Given themselves away to him

Sliced and scored


And hurt 


You were new 

To my heart 

You had vaguely seen 

Who I was 

We had walked down to the lake and 

Shocked each other 

In the complexity of the lives we are living

Within the prices we were paying to 

Like each other.


I can’t refund myself 

The priceless time 

That we cherished 

I can’t go back.


After you 

I can’t promise and explanation 

To my eccentricities 

 But to you

Only my soul has spoken 

And my mind 

Can only attempt to comprehend 

It’s behavior.


When I was a girl 

I let a boy 

Kick me for fun 

I let my personality be contoured 

By a ten year old 

For the love I thought 

For the approval of a teen 

In junior high school

For the wistful stare

Of a young man

Who couldn’t have matured

In a heartbeat for me

Who couldn’t of viewed a woman correctly in his lifetime 

Because of the blurred visions 

Of her acquaintances

Her depth and her intricate smile 

As only the strange guys

will spare a passing glance

The ones who look into her eyes 

Rather than her body.


Tuesday night

and I’m cradling a piece of plastic in my hand 

It’s too loud to think 

We exit north 

As the music roars before us

I think of my father 

and his spiraling profession 

My mother’s unethical workload 

My sister’s collage of friends waiting for her back home-


We meet, and

Suddenly the energy 

Catches up to me 

and for one of the first times in my life I’m thrilled 

To socialize and empathize,

To spill out my story 

And absorb yours

To link hands in the first few minutes 

Reach out into the crowd 

Feeling myself breathe, smile

There is no substitute 

For joy within the moment 

There is no logic behind 

My Beginning of interest in you.


We fear of falling apart 

Of growing gone 

But every night 

I gaze up at the stars 

And internally acknowledge that 

They’ve been rewritten

There’s hope that was never there

And tears that refuse to fall 

As we sit and wait patiently 

For sanity to emerge.(2018)

We met when I was fifteen. He had curly hair, thick rimmed glasses. He played the tenor saxophone- He was from France.

I hadn’t made a friend ever so quickly before, rather any at Blue Lake thus far in the week. I thought my cabin mates were so odd. A girl in particular, Riley- a self proclaimed “Equestraunaut”- freaked me out beyond belief. I didn’t feel as If I belonged in such a competitive, artistically extensive world. I direly missed my new boyfriend of two weeks, and I just wanted to go home.

It was the night of the camp dance. We spotted each other through a clearing in Stuart Shell, a vast outdoor concert hall that arched over the sky. I suppose it’s most like the bean in Millenium Park-in the way it obnoxiously boggles above your head, and shuts you out from the tantalizing glow of sun. I liked it.

I noticed his thick accent off the bat, and appealed to me as if unsure of what to do or who to talk to. I always got along better with guys, more or less so. I could tell how uncomfortable he was, floored by all of the jumping, screaming, the chaos. I could barely make out what he was saying, a muffled sentence or two maybe. I was beginning to exit the crowd, uninterested in being toggled within a mass of heavily perspiring middle schoolers. He caught me nearly on my way out, stuck in a file line directed towards the seating area.

Hey, what do you think of this? Too loud to have any fun, I think.

I then, anxiety tumbling off my shoulders in uneven heaps, began to unwind to the melodic boom and crash of early 2000’s pop music. We looked at each other briskly, a smile creeping across my face as I hustled myself in his direction, shouting across the shell, “This dance is so stupid, you know?”


We learned so ridiculously much from each other. Only slightly younger than me, he was on track to graduate high school in 2019, as the French school systems send their youth much earlier to university compared to US students. He spoke amazing English, and knew about everything pertaining to modern day American culture- Books, music, TV series’- he knew it. 

I remember when  he didn’t understand why he heard everyone around campus recycling words around like “Cringy”, “epic,” “Yee”, or “Yeet”. I cracked up upon him telling me that. 

“Primarily, you will hear kids saying that in reference to a meme of this animated green dinosaur who makes the gutteral “yee” and “yeet” sounds. People put him up against TV and movie soundtracks and make remixes in conjunction to the sound.”

He furrowed his brow slightly and gave me a sincere half smile. “Emma, this phrase is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

I chuckled, forming awareness about of how stupid it probably sounded to someone new to the US and its awkward means of entertainment.

“ That’s why we call it cringy.”                                  


I so desperately wanted to see him again. The week and a half we spent together was magic in simplicity- I felt renewed, inspired, eager to live a little. To say he and his culture fascinated me does no justice to how it felt to know, befriend, and make music with a person who lives just about halfway across the world.

Nearly a year later, my first week of my new job started, which piled onto multiple weeks, and abruptly ended a month and a half later. I was miserable and overworked, and often thought to myself I’m lucky I’m not in the situation Bilal, or the majority of Little Caesar’s employees were. 

I had picked up from my co-workers that Bilal was in his late twenties and attended university before he wound up manager of our location. Apparently, he had dealt drugs on campus and was expelled on the spot. He had been banned from the college for a hundred years, or some other absurd number of years that equated to life.

I began to gather Bilal was not a hard worker. Oftentimes, even on our busiest nights of the week, he would leave the store to smoke in his car for what seemed like hours on end. One night in a rampage of frustration I told him he should do his job for once and cigarettes were going to kill him, no matter if he switched to juuling or whatever else he justified as acceptable for his health. He told me he didn’t care, as long as he got paid it didn’t matter.


I wanted to go more than anything.

Blue Lake, as I knew since the past summer, offered a month long tour of Europe for competitive musicians who wished to perform in an international band, choir, or orchestra. On a particularly lazy summer evening, I found online that only 250 out of 2,000 kids were accepted out of all applicants. I sank down in my bed sheets. 

I’ve never been the best at anything. I was academically bright when I pushed myself, which I did rarely, but I was far from a natural or prodigy. There just wasn’t a way. A six thousand dollar tuition fee would destroy any hope of the trip being financially in reach for my family. 

I wanted to go more than anything, and although I hate to admit it- Little Caesar’s gave me that opportunity.

I was accepted in late September, although I had left that oppressive grease pit long before I got that news. Thankfully, I was able to snag a job from an unusually cheery assistant manager, Joseph, responding to my indeed application for a kitchen position at Mariano’s. I hated food service from the start, but I was so grateful for the two extra dollars an hour, among other aspects of the job. Mariano’s was a union. Who had been there the longest didn’t determine who had to do the dishes.The employee bathroom didn’t smell of stale weed and molding garlic sauce. Employees were right minded because Kroger respected our time and didn’t overwork us or demand unattaintably quick service. I had collected 2,000 dollars since that month of May. Months of misery, of tears because the job was tearing me apart, but I needed the money. My preferred option to leave was triumphed by my everlasting need to stay. 

I was a baby, in a sense, because it would all be worth it in a few months time. For the first time ever in my life, I had paved the way to my own opportunity. Through many hours of tricking myself into feeling I was being “slaved” into making cheap pizzas and scanning groceries, time and a more mature mind has brought me to rethink that belief. Yes, pizza is gross, and crabby grocery store fossils who still write checks despite the year are unbelievably annoying. People are hard to work for. Employers and coworkers will not dedicate every living second to you to make sure you are happy and comfortable with your job. I have been frustrated. I have been emotionally beside myself, even.  But I’m not clueless. A part time grocery store gig will in no way compare to the stresses of a developing career prevalent to my future- So I take what I can get, fake a smile and turn on that “customer service Emma” persona. 


Because I’m able to go on a life changing journey across Europe through the generosity of my employers and hard earned cash. I’m able to pay for this trip in its entirety, independent of my family’s income. After dedicating myself to “becoming the best” in my musical life for the past three years,I decided to discard terms like“good enough” and “Worthy” from my mental set. I was good enough when I made myself good enough.When I practiced before and after work everyday. When I started paying for half of all my music lessons. Even when I enrolled myself in two languages instead of one, to show Blue lake I’m culturally versatile and experienced enough to take on this International experience.

I did it. Better yet, y’all,I did it for myself.

My last tech rehearsal was coming to a close, the second to last day of session two at Blue Lake. I had been floundering around with my mange-y, wildly unkempt stand partner Robert for the past two weeks in tech class, and I felt a loss unprofound yet utterly disappointing. I would miss our inside jokes, our slips of the tongue where we would accidentally address our clarinet professor as “Gary” or “Gare-bear” instead of Doctor June. I knew I would never see most students in that room again, and that saddened me. I was exhausted in every state, but craved if only a few more days to coincide amongst the inevitable, of going home.

Dr. June went around in a circle and asked us If we had future plans of pursuing a career in music. “I want to go into music education,” I spoke in a nearly incomprehensible blur of words when my turn came. “My parents are worried I won’t find a job. They want me to go into a more solid line of work. But-” I stifled my urge to yell. I can’t imagine my life without music. Whenever I look into my future through a chilling glass window of a 9-5 office building, my heart tailors to a crisp and I forget how to be happy. He could see how my head was spinning, because Dr. June saw me for the player I was, the dreamer and creative I was.

“Every school needs teachers,” his smile cooled over my nerves. “Music performance is a way more difficult type of work to get into. Teaching is a far more manageable career, and truly rewarding. You have passion.” Hopeful, my eyes met his. 

“I know you can do it.”

Letter to My Younger Self Thu, 16 Jan 2020 20:40:57 +0000 It’s hard to believe that I will be turning 18 soon. Officially, I will be an adult with adult responsibilities. During the course of my life, I have learned a lot from my successes, trials, and tribulations. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to talk with myself 10 years ago. What would I say? Would I warn myself of the trouble or just showcase the highlights? After some reflection, I imagine I would say something like this:

I never thought I would get the chance to tell you this. Granted, I never thought time travel would be possible, but here we are. Just looking at you takes me back. Blonde poofy hair, big bold stubborn attitude, and of course sporting the hottest apparel from Justice. You hate vegetables (which aren’t actually that bad except peas; peas are the worst thing ever created), and you rock a karate uniform. You have encountered so much in your 8 years but you still have more headed your way. Don’t be too scared. Life is tough and, hopefully, I can share some wisdom from what I have learned to guide you. 

First off, nothing comes easy in life. As you get older, you will see that you have to earn everything, and nothing is served on a silver platter. Well, one time I had seafood served to me on a silver platter, and it was delicious, but that is beside the point. You have an entire life ahead of you and very little limits. Reach for the sky and become whomever you want to be. If you want to be a pilot, an astronaut, a chef, an engineer, or even a unicorn, don’t let anything stop you…but the unicorn might be physically challenging, so maybe not that. Right now, you want to be an astronaut. Space and the unknown are frightening, but that’s also why it intrigues you. What will happen in life is unknown, but that is also most fascinating part. There is so much to do, and with some elbow grease (and pixie dust for sparkle), you can achieve anything to infinity and beyond.

However, while you can work hard for what you want, you will not always get it. Sometimes you can do all the right things, and it still doesn’t work out. In middle school, you won’t make the volleyball team nor the basketball team. You were supposed to go on many vacations and trips, and many were cancelled. You waited and cared for someone while they were gone to only find out that you weren’t enough for them when they finally get back. But as the movie Mulan put it, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” You will endure disappointment and heartbreak and tons of unfair things, but you fight back. Remember in karate when you learn to get back up? Life can be like that; it can knock you down, and you have to learn to stand back up and even sometimes give it the middle finger. Guess what, in high school you ended up playing on the freshman basketball team. You got to travel to Germany with some of the best people you have ever met. You grew as a person and realized that you were more than that one person who broke your heart. You are strong.

Strength is crucial for tackling the unknown in life, going out on a limb and taking risks. I have found some of my greatest successes doing this. One example of this was my trip to Germany. It was a different culture, and at the time I was facing serious medical setbacks and going to Germany was not ideal for me. I didn’t want to leave the comfort of my home (and go 2.5 weeks without american TV). I was scared, and even though I went with my friends, I thought that I was going to hate the experience. But I went and it turned out that it wasn’t the end of the world. You will have challenges, but like I said before, you know how to get back up. You learned more about yourself and your capabilities on this trip. Don’t expect anything because life can be surprising whether it’s for the worse or for better. “Adventure is out there.”

I know I shouldn’t tell you what I would change, but I will tell you my biggest regret anyway. It is your life, not anyone else’s, so don’t live it for anyone else. Take the classes you want to take, do sports or activities that interest you, pursue what you want to do after high school. My whole life I tried pleasing everyone else, especially one person. News flash, you are not selfish if you put yourself first. You will lose touch of happiness if you don’t start making yourself a priority. Who cares what other people think, as long as you aren’t harming anyone you are perfectly entitled to pursue your passion.

Now, I didn’t want to make you sad or depressed, but this was important for me to tell you. You deserve some explanation to what will happen and some insight to life. Also a couple other things you should know is that pb&j is the best sandwich, High School Musical 2 is the best High School Musical and never take a bunch of Germans into Walmart. You are so smart and have such a bright future, and I hope that my advice can help guide you. Even though it seems scary now, you’ll turn out ok whichever path you decide to take. In the words of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” You’re going to have one hell of a life.

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Being Crazy Wasn’t Enough: Why Jared Leto is the Worst Joker Thu, 16 Jan 2020 20:31:39 +0000 SPOILER ALERT: This piece may contain some movie spoilers!

It’s no secret that our culture has a strange fascination with characters who are portrayed as crazy or evil, and it’s no secret that a large part of these fascinations come from the actors playing the characters in various movies or TV shows. If you listen to experienced and serious actors about their craft, you’ll very quickly start to observe that there’s a very clear art to acting, and not everyone can figure out the complexities of being someone you’re not. But how do you be someone you’re not? One of the ways that requires the most focus and talent is the art of method acting, which is when an actor will continue to portray their character when not even on set or in front of a camera. They literally become that character in their everyday lives. This style of acting has lead to many great performances in the past, but none as famous or iconic of a story as Heath Ledger and his interpretation of the Joker in The Dark Knight.

I’ve seen the movie dozens of times; it’s a classic. Not only is it a groundbreaking film in terms of the actors’ performances, but it was also doing something that not many superhero movies were doing at the time. It was making superheroes realistic. Sure, not everything is realistic. A millionaire going around in a bat costume beating up criminals will always be an obscure concept, but most of the realism comes from the political aspects of the film, as well as how real the Joker’s threats feel and turn out being. So what made Heath Ledger a good joker? Simple. He was extremely dedicated to the role and made sure he respected it. He was so dedicated, in fact, that it killed him. Now, of course I’m not saying you need to go that far with method acting to have a good performance, but it’s just something that happened unfortunately. He spent weeks by himself, locked in a room, journaling, all in character, so that when he went to the stage, he made a convincing performance of a character who is on the farthest spectrum of extreme possible. He understood the character, and he respected the art of acting and the people he was working with.

Speaking of respect, let’s talk about Jared Leto, which is the very definition of a disrespectful actor. Not only to the craft itself, but also to his crew mates. Let’s start with the more well known story. His way of method acting was (obviously) to stay in character the entire time they were on set, even when the cameras were off. To show just how great of an actor he was, he sent gifts to the cast while in character! That’s so cool, must’ve been pretty exciting to get a joker gift, because the Joker is supposed to be really funny in an extremely dark and insane way. But then you read what he sent them and it’s not even a clever joke. He sent Margot Robbie, who played Harley Quinn, a dead rat. He sent many of the cast members used condoms, and brought a dead pig to rehearsal one day. The only gift he sent that was actually somewhat clever was sending Will Smith bullets, because Will Smith plays Deadshot, and Deadshot uses guns most of the time. Not only is sending used condoms literally a sex crime, but if you watch interviews with various cast members, it’s pretty clear that they were less than pleased with Leto’s gifts. Amusingly, the only person who didn’t get a gift was Viola Davis, and asked why she didn’t, she said, “I did not receive any personally, or else I would have gotten my husband — who was called ‘Headache Ball’ back in the day when he played football — and I would have said, ‘Take care of the Joker.’” It’s extremely obvious that Davis found these sort of Joker antics downright disrespectful and gross, including that she never even really met Leto until after the shooting of the movie was over, because he was the Joker during shooting. So we’ve got the gifts out of the way, the only other thing to mention about Leto during off screen performance was the fact that he made an actor who played one of his henchmen in the movie do things for him even when they weren’t rolling the cameras. He also had everyone refer to him as “Mr. J” which is the cringiest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

So now that we have the fact that Jared Leto is a disrespectful and awful method actor, let’s talk about the actual Joker in the movie, as well as the movie itself. Now, to be honest, I’m not sure that I can blame Leto entirely for the awful performance here, but he certainly didn’t help. There’s obvious problems with the competency of the script itself. It’s like the people who wrote the Joker character didn’t understand him at all. They show he’s a crazy guy, but there’s no relatability here, and it’s not even developed at all, like in the 2019 Joker movie. But wait, Heath Ledger’s Joker wasn’t developed either, the first scene of the movie he’s doing crazy things. Yes, but the difference between Leto and Ledger is that when making The Dark Knight, Ledger and Christopher Nolan (the director) took as much time and effort as they could to develop the character OFFSTAGE so that he would be believable ONSTAGE. Leto doesn’t do that, or at least fails at it if he was trying to do it. There’s also the problem that the Joker literally does nothing in the entire movie that’s significant. He kills a few people or whatever but he doesn’t really have any impact on the story. Which is good. If you’re familiar with the comics, Joker isn’t in the suicide squad as a member. So why put him in the movie? It’s also worth pointing out that a lot of Leto’s scenes were cut out of the movie, so maybe he was better at some point, but I don’t think it would’ve helped all that much to be honest.

Now let’s talk about one small thing before getting to the last really big thing. His laugh. Anyone who is alive today and is at least in their teenage years has most likely heard the Joker laugh in one or more different interpretations of it. There are actually a few good videos on YouTube that show every Joker laugh since all the way back in the 60’s, and when I say every laugh I mean movies, TV shows, cartoons, even the Lego Batman movie. The video is literally 20 minutes long, and after watching all of them, there’s a really clear distinction between Leto’s laugh and literally every other Joker laugh. Every actor has had a slight variation of the maniacal and insane Joker laugh, but Leto’s is absolutely horrendous. Look it up, you’ll know what I mean when you hear it.

And finally, the thing that bothered me, and several other people, the most. HIS APPEARANCE. Joker looks ridiculous in this movie. I can see what they were trying to go for, which is a more modern version of Joker rather than just the makeup and suit that he’s usually depicted with, but the thing is, every Joker has variation to them, but this one is just awful to look at. Let’s start with his actual clothes, which actually change throughout the movie. For a lot of the promotional posters and trailers, he was either wearing a purple blazer with no shirt underneath, or just no top at all. It’s like they were trying to sexualize Joker, which is very strange to me. Joker isn’t supposed to be sexy, he’s supposed to be crazy. It’s worth pointing out that when I say “crazy” I don’t just mean “oh he does weird things.” The biggest defining trait of the Joker is that he isn’t just crazy, he’s an agent of chaos. He loves it. He loves scheming, and manipulating, and destroying. Leto doesn’t do that. He just does stuff randomly for no reason at all. But anyway, what else is wrong with his appearance? He has this weird grill on his teeth. A lot of people hated this but to be honest, in my opinion, it’s not that noticeable so I didn’t mind that much. Not to say it was a good choice, but I didn’t really care about it all that much. Now, the worst part about Leto’s Joker appearance was his tattoos. Oh my god, these are laughable. If you look closely you’ll find several cringey ones, but I’m only gonna mention three. The first one, the mouth tattoo on the back of his hand that he holds up when he laughs was just laughable. It made no sense why it was there, and it wasn’t clever at all. The second one was a bat symbol with a knife through it. Like, oh, the Joker doesn’t like Batman, how are we gonna show that? Just tattoo it on his arm, it’ll look fine. And it sure didn’t. The fact that they are too lazy to even write a basic character motivation shows just how lazy the people behind this movie were. And finally, the worst tattoo on his entire body. The word “damaged” written on his forehead. This is easily the tattoo that took the whole theme of The Joker in this movie and just spelled it out for the audience. Literally! It would be like is Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker had “mental illness” written on his forehead or if Heath Ledger’s Joker had “chaos” written on his forehead. It’s just lazy. Plain and simple. 

So obviously I have some pretty harsh opinions on Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker, but I mean, a lot of people did. Heath Ledger set a standard of Joker performance, and even before Ledger, the Joker wasn’t usually a laughing stock to the audience. I don’t feel bad saying that I think Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix are the best on screen Jokers ever, and when I hear people say that Leto is the best Joker, it’s pretty insulting. Heath Ledger locked himself in a room for a month straight to get in character, Joaquin Phoenix had to lose weight to get the role, even Jack Nicholson did the whole method acting approach when he played Joker. What does Leto do? Disrespect his crew members, disrespect the art, and disrespect the character. Thank you for reading, if you have any questions, opinions, disagreement, fact corrections, etc. feel free to comment them below!

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Hotline Miami: The Art of Unconventional Beauty Thu, 16 Jan 2020 20:07:03 +0000  

SPOILER ALERT: This article includes spoilers from the Hotline Miami & Hotline Miami 2 Video Games

Hotline Miami was released in late 2012 as a top-down, low resolution video game that introduced us to brutal violence and an amazing and complex (and confusing) universe and story. Three years later it was followed by a sequel named Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. In my opinion, it’s one of the strongest examples of a video game focusing more on artistic integrity rather than appealing to the public or a certain group. It’s an incredible game, and it really is a work of art, but unfortunately a lot of people within the media seemed to miss the point of the game. A lot of media outlets called the game “disgusting,” even going as far as to say that it’s the most offensive game of all time, which is strange because it’s not even that wide spread of a game. It has a huge cult following, sure, but to the average person they have no clue about what it is. 

So what is Hotline Miami, and where does the controversy come from? The first game is seen through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, nick named Jacket, and his journey into madness. The game starts with Jacket entering a room with three masked individuals. A woman on his left wearing a horse mask, a man on his right wearing an owl mask, and a man in front of him, dressed the same way as Jacket, wearing a rooster mask. The interaction plays out with the woman saying very generalized and unrevealing information to Jacket, while the man in the owl mask only greets him with hostility. The man in the rooster mask then tells Jacket that it all started on April 3rd, 1989. The scene ends and we are transitioned to that very same date in Jacket’s apartment.

Once in the apartment, Jacket finds an informational pamphlet for a patriotic organization called “50 Blessings” and then gets a phone call and picks up. The person on the other end tells him that his cookies have arrived and are waiting outside his front door. Jacket goes to check and, sure enough, there’s a package right outside his door. But when Jacket opens it, instead of cookies, there’s a rubber chicken mask (exactly like the one the man was wearing in the room) and a piece of paper, containing details of a briefcase that must be retrieved from a building. The note ominously ends with “Failure is not an option.” Jacket gets in his car and goes to the building to see what the note was talking about. He gets there and it turns out that it’s actually a front for the Russian Mafia, and inside are the mobsters from that group. Jacket clears the entire building with extreme aggression and violence. Now having the briefcase, Jacket drops it off in the dumpster a few blocks away (this is where the note told him to drop it off). Once dropped off, a homeless man starts shouting from the entry of the alley way, angry that someone is in his alley. Jacket approaches the man but the man doesn’t want to talk. Jacket kills the man in self defense. Jacket walks towards his car but before getting in, takes off his mask and throws up at the thought of everything he just did that night. He shakes it off and returns to his apartment. He goes to a convenience store for some snacks where he finds his friend working. The friend (nicknamed Beard) makes some small talk and then tells Jacket to take whatever he wanted, saying, “it’s on the house.”

A little bit of time passes when Jacket gets another phone call from the same mystery callers that told him to clear the building with the Russian Mafia. Once again, the caller tells Jacket to clear a building with more mobsters in it. He complies, once again usually brutal force against them. This same kind of scenario happens for the next few weeks. Jacket gets a call, clears a building, then goes to a place afterward. It’s important to mention that Beard actually works at several different places. He works at a convenience store, a pizza place, a bar, and a video store. As Jacket clears buildings and does the callers bidding, he notices that there are quite a few people in rubber masks within these buildings, all of them either dead or being tortured for information. Jacket, realizing that he’s not the only one doing this, starts to really question who the callers are, but not enough to stop him from doing any of their bidding. While clearing a building, he finds a woman being abused. He rescues her (surprisingly) and brings her back to his apartment, where they start developing a relationship. After clearing out another building, the phone rings, and the callers tell him to go to a building that serves as an HQ for a phone company, where a “prank caller” needs to be dealt with. Jacket arrives, finding all of the employees were slaughtered, and goes to the manager’s office to find a man in a biker helmet hacking the managers computer. They fight, and Jacket comes out alive, with the biker dying, exclaiming that he was “too close for it to end now.” Shaking it off, Jacket returns home. 

After some time, Jacket starts seeing some very strange things. Bodies that aren’t really there, bodies that talk to him, etc. He goes to sleep and wakes up back in the room with the three masked individuals. The woman exclaims that she doesn’t like the picture that’s forming here, and the man in the owl mask, once again, only greets him with hostility. The man in the rooster mask offers Jacket three predictions:

“First, someone is not who you think he is.”

“You’re going to lose something important to you.”

“On July 21st, you will wake up in a bigger house.”

Jacket arrives back in his apartment and business goes back to normal. Phone call, killing, store, and home. He starts noticing that Beard is no longer manning any of the stores he goes to after his jobs, and is instead replaced by a bald man who acts very hostile towards Jacket for the remainder of the game. He comes home one night to find the door kicked in and his girlfriend dead on the bathroom floor, while a man in a rubber rat mask sits on his couch, and shoots Jacket. Jacket, having an out of body experience, has another conversation with the man in the rooster mask. The other two are noticeably gone this time. The man in the rooster mask assures Jacket that everything he does from here on will be pointless, and that Jacket will never see the bigger picture. He then tells Jacket to go across the hall to get some sleep. As Jacket walks, his clothes turn into a hospital gown, and Jacket sees himself in a hospital bed. He realizes that everything that we had been viewing from the beginning to this point had been a mix of memories and coma dreams. His head symbolically explodes, and on July 21st, wakes up from his coma, confirming all three of the man in the rooster mask’s predictions. He lost the one he loved, HE wasn’t who he thought he was, and on July 21st, wakes up in a hospital. Seeking revenge, Jacket escapes the hospital and goes on a search for the leader of the Russian Mafia, believing that they are the cause of his loss. He finds the leader of the Mafia and kills him. Believing his fight to be over, he walks to the balcony of the building where the leader was, tosses his mask to the side, and lights a cigarette. He pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket, looks at it one last time, and throws it off the building.

The game isn’t quite done yet, though. We rewind to May, where we start seeing the perspective of the biker that Jacket killed. We learn that he was close to uncovering the truth of the phone calls being made, and as we see him hacking the computer, we see Jacket walk in. We obviously already know how this played out, but in a turn of events, the biker wins the fight easily. He tracks down the address found in the computer and finds a janitor retreat to a back room. The biker follows, finding a computer and, if you collected the right amount of items throughout the game, can enter the password. The password is “I WAS BORN IN THE USA.” He then follows the janitor down a manhole in the backroom and confronts them. They admit that they are part of a patriotic organization called “50 Blessings” who are trying to topple a so-called “Russo-American Coalition.” In this universe, Russia and America went to war, and formed the Russo-American Coalition to prevent further destruction of either countries. Jacket wasn’t just killing mobsters, he was killing politicians too. The biker, satisfied with the information, kills or leaves (depending on the players choice) the two janitors and retreats to his bike outside, leaving the city and, fearing he knows too much, goes into hiding.

So that’s a summary and analysis of the first game. It brings up quite a few interesting concepts, and as if the story wasn’t confusing enough, it gets even more convoluted in the second game. To prevent this article from being 10 pages long, I’m only going to be focusing on the events that relate to Jacket, as the second game introduces several new characters and story lines, each still amazing but again this paper is already getting long. The main reasons that Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number such a confusing story to follow is that it’s not in chronological order and that, as I said before, there are a lot of newly introduced characters to the story. But again, only focusing on the Jacket related story line. So even though Jacket is the main character in the first game, and still is a huge role in the second game, you don’t play as him at all if I remember correctly. He is shown for a few scenes but other than that you don’t. Instead, we play as Richter, the man in the rubber rat mask that shot Jacket in the first game. We are introduced to him as an adult loner who takes care of his mother at home. It’s mentioned that she has medical problems and that the doctor told her to rest, but it’s never revealed to us what her condition actually is. As the days go on, Richter starts getting the same sort of calls as Jacket. He complies with the missions, and as he continues, he finally gets caught by the police and sent to jail. When told he has a visitor, he goes to the booth and two scraggly men come up to him and tell him that they appreciated the work he did. Although Richter doesn’t recognize them, these men are the same men that the biker found in the building that were dressed as janitors. They leave him be, and soon after a prison riot starts, giving Richter time to escape the prison. He flees to Hawaii, and goes into hiding. This all took place in 1989. 

One other masked character we are shown is Jake, who is shown to love his country, but the player can tell from context clues that his patriotism may be misplaced. When in his apartment, we see several confederate flags and banners. He, of course, gets the same phone calls that Jacket and Richter had been getting, and is happy to comply. After finding a stash of money in one of the buildings, he wants to get a confederate flag tattoo at a Russian tattoo parlor, but can’t get it until next week. Outraged, Jake leaves, and calls the Russian tattoo artist several insulting terms. Being a patriot, Jake goes to 50 Blessings with a plan to topple the Russo-American Coalition by having people kill Russians through calling them. It’s obviously pretty funny because that’s already what they are doing, but because Jake now knows too much, they kill him. This also happened in 1989 along with the Jacket story line and most of the Richter story line.

We then flashback to 1985 where we see Jacket and Beard as soldiers in the military, and we can tell by their dynamic that they are good friends. A journalist asks if he can take a picture of Beard and Jacket together and they comply and gives the Polaroid to Jacket. After this, we learn that they are part of an elite team and are ordered to do very dangerous missions involving clearing out Russian military forts. They proceed through each mission, and eventually their commanding officer tells them that they have one more before they get to go home. This same officer just got promoted to Lieutenant General and calls Beard in to his quarters to celebrate. Beard notices that he is not exactly very happy about the promotion, and when Beard asks him about it, the General eludes to the fact that America is going to lose the war. Beard and his team do the mission that was promised to be their last with ease, but when they get back the General has been told that there’s yet another mission to do. It’s obvious to both the team and the General that whoever is calling the shots is trying to get them killed. They are tasked with taking over an entire power plant by themselves. Surprisingly, they do it, and as they are making their escape, the elevator they were about to take blows up, killing a soldier named Barnes, and badly injuring Jacket. Beard carries Jacket out of the plant, and as Jacket thanks Beard, Beard tells him not to worry about it, saying, “It’s on the house, buddy.”

They finally get to go home, and we see that Beard and Jacket live far away from each other, Jacket living in Miami and Beard living in San Francisco, although they stay in touch with long distance phone calls. One day, while Beard is asking if Jacket had sent him that Polaroid yet, Beard says that there’s something happening outside and that he’ll be right back. He steps outside of his convenience store and sees a bright flash. San Francisco had been nuked by Russia. Every interaction between Jacket and Beard in the first game was all in his head from not being able to cope with his best friends death. When he gets the calls and finds out that the targets are Russians, he finds great pleasure in killing them because he seeks revenge, not even considering the circumstances or weight of his actions.

So the war is over, after nuking San Francisco both America and Russia agree to a truce and form the Russo-American Coalition to prevent any more harm being done to either country through nuclear warfare. As a result, corruption ensues as the political figures and Russian Mafia become, more or less, intertwined. This was what made 50 Blessings make the phone calls. To topple the Russo-American Coalition and regain control of America by the Americans. 

So all this happens, and after the Mafia being built up and destroyed again through other story lines in the game, we cut to Richter at his house in Hawaii watching TV with his mother. While watching the news, it is reported that a Russo-American Coalition political conference was raided by masked assailants linked to the 50 Blessings organization. They kill several political figures, almost all of them being Russian. Russia sees this as an act of war, and decides to nuke the US as a last straw decision. We then cut to every character introduced in the games in their houses or jail cells as the nuke continues to destroy everything, and, with that, the credits start rolling.

So there’s obviously a lot to process here, but it’s not as complicated as it seems. Jacket and Beard were in the army together, and when getting back they go their separate ways, and after Beard’s death, Jacket becomes a tool that 50 Blessings uses to destroy the Russian Mafia, which he subconsciously doesn’t question too much because he loves the feelings of revenge he feels toward killing the Russians who nuked San Francisco. The paper that he throws off the balcony is most likely the picture of him and Beard together during the war and, realizing he wasn’t there during the events of the first game at all, throws it off the balcony as a symbolic representation of him coming to accept this fact. 

Hotline Miami was a game that brought vibrant colors, amazing music, and incredible storytelling capabilities. It was a game that showed true artistic integrity. It was a game that was brave enough to make a statement about mental illness, political corruption, and the harsh nature of war itself, and it’s a game that deserves more praise and attention. Thanks for reading, check out the games. They’re really good. If you have any additions, comments, questions, or fact corrections, feel free to leave them below!

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Musical Movie Moments Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:21:05 +0000 One of my favorite English songs is “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly had so many layers: odd, eccentric and childish, with a certain aura of free-ness to her that pulled you in. From not naming her cat to avoid attachments, to engaging in quick romances and brushing off everything that hurt her, some part of her still had the young 15-year-old runaway in her, and we see that girl at the end of the film. She’s so likable that even her oddities make her so lovable and you want a happy ending for her.

“Moon River” has a dream-like quality to it, with the soft voice, the light melody or maybe just the fact that it’s Audrey Hepburn. It’s like prancing on clouds, and following Paul Varjak from his typewriter—conveniently writing about Holly— to his window to find her on her windowsill, looking off into the distance, and it’s almost contentment on her, but it could be pain and loneliness. The premise of the song, the shooting itself is so aesthetically pleasing, with Holly’s clothing, her pose, the very look on her face and the angle being Paul’s view of her, the minimal music, the soft voice, everything that went in packaged this so well. I’m a big fan of using unconventional angles, especially in songs. Focusing on smaller nuances of the actors, like shadows, reflections, objects they toy with, or just the small interactions. Films are like writing coming alive, and honestly, when I’m writing, I’m watching my story like a movie and focusing on things cameras don’t pick up, so when a film acts like a book in detail, it’s really cool. All in all, an amazing piece put together. 

The song starts at Paul’s feet, surrounded by crumpled piles of paper and frustrated ticking from the typewriter and follows him out to his window to find Holly. He only had like 2 sentences typed out, and the description of Holly really tells us a lot of what he takes her for. It’s sort of simplistic, with the title, “My Friend,” describing her as a wildly interesting person, calling her a “very lovely, very frightened girl.” 

Even the lyrics, “Two drifters, off to see the world, there’s such a lot of world to see,” with a resigned face that she’ll never see it all. But Holly and Moon River, they’re “after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ round the bend,” 

“My huckleberry friend, Moon River and Me”

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Rant Time with Muskaan Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:15:31 +0000 Hello friends, and welcome to a new segment here, it’s called Rant Time, and it’s especially fun.

Muskaan here, with an issue I feel isn’t touched on enough. Recently, I came upon a short film by Vogue India, so naturally I was interested, since these magazines, like Unblushed, usually partner with actors who speak against issues in the country, and I’ve previously loved past pieces and I’m always happy to see influential actors come out and support pieces that are generally “unconventional” to the masses.

This particular one came out 2014, so 6 years ago, but I think it still applies and also, I want to talk about it. So hear me out.

It’s called “Boys Don’t Cry” and even featured a well known actress from the late 80s for a second and a half. It started off well, and I was invested. As it unfolds, it hits each part of a person’s young life, starting at birth, going to about college. Each scene had a boy crying, and the ones around him scoffed at him, “Are you a girl? Boys don’t cry. ” His mom, his teacher, his doctor, his football coach (soccer for the Americans). Point is, that’s riddled in his head a ridiculous amount of times (seriously, he literally came out of the womb crying). Crying is weak. Crying is not a sign of a man. Crying is feminine and undermines his own worth.

I was holding on to the end, hoping, praying this would end right. Finally, we touch on the negative effects of teaching boys to suppress emotions. Finally, a topic we so often ignore:  Men’s mental health.

Two minutes later, the scene flashes to a young man, eyes red enough to seem like he was about to cry. I hold my breath. Have they finally come to see what this does to young men as they grow up? Will we finally have justice?

Then they zoom out. 

He’s twisting the arm of a woman—his spouse I’m assuming. She collapses on the floor, surrounded by a shoe and an overturned lamp. She’s brutally beat up, with a swollen lip and bruised eye. Then the actress appears and says, “From the beginning, we teach boys not to cry. Perhaps it’s time we teach them not to make girls cry.”

And then “the end,” screen’s blank, and I catch my face in the reflection. A little confused, and a lot annoyed. I look over the description really quick, and it’s the same thing—

“We teach our “tough boys” not to cry, but instead we should teach them not to make women in their lives cry.”

Now don’t misunderstand this—Yes. It’s an important message. It’s high time we teach people to control their anger, to stop allowing them to grow up and think they can act like this. Stop averting our eyes at domestic violence, both physical and mental. We need to respect our spouses; they are not objects. They are not property. Another thing was that both of them looked like educated people, employed and living a secure life in a flat. This showed that abuse can live anywhere, whether you are educated or not, well to do, or not. So yes, it’s an important issue, just not the right one for this piece. 

The build up was for another issue, and I’m sure everyone thought that was where it would go, and I don’t know, this end was just undermining, almost like they acknowledged the problem but brushed it aside. Many of the men in my own life are victim of this. My cousins around their parents, my friends, and now for the jump—my maternal grandfather. We meet him once every 5 years, and even then he’s constantly checking his behavior around us, finding it unnecessary to smile in pictures, to talk about anything sensitive, to go out and have ice cream with us, to just do something to do it. “What will people think?” is his favorite line, and I don’t blame him. Obviously, that’s the train of thought that’s prevailed for centuries, and that’s who he is. That’s improved now, but not enough to say that the mentality’s gone. What’s instilled in our parents will at some point come out to damage us.

We talk about women, and unrealistic body standards, and things that affect us, and they’re imperative to discuss, definitely, but often it’s forgotten that our counterparts can feel just as inferior as we can.

 Anyway, those were my two cents on the matter, you can take it anyway you want, I’m just closing here since this is getting to be a bit long, so farewell till whenever I’m in a mood again!

CLS Students’ 2020 Resolutions Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:04:13 +0000 We are just starting Semester 2 of the 2019-2020 school year. Semester 2 begins just after New Year’s Day, a public holiday where kids and adults have a day off from school and jobs. The holiday is celebrated by fireworks, parties, parades, special football games and resolutions. 

A resolution is a promise to yourself to do or not to do something. People think that resolutions are a waste of time and never work. But the more times you try to complete your goal, the more likely you are to succeed. Resolutions can be academic or personal.

A sample of South High School students were interviewed about their academic and personal resolutions. They were also asked how they would achieve these goals. Here are some of their responses: 

 “I would really like to join as many book fandoms as possible. To reach my goal, I will have to read a lot more. Some academic resolutions are to keep my grades as best as I can, feel more comfortable giving speeches, and not over work. I will continue to study to keep my grades up. I will also try adding humor to my speeches to make them easier.” 

 “A personal goal of mine is to learn the cello, and an academic goal is to get straight A’s. I’ll give it my all and I won’t give up.”

“I’m moving up classes so I guess do well and pass in them. For personal…. hmmm I guess to just stay in shape mentally and physically.”

“An academic resolution I have is that I want to keep all A’s and to get my homework done on time because I have less study halls next semester. My personal promise is to do yoga everyday. The process of me achieving the goals is to work hard, make to do lists and setting my priorities.”

In conclusion, resolutions are important and will benefit you. You will succeed if you keep trying and working on them. When you complete resolutions you will feel more accomplished and proud of yourself. Take some time to make resolutions this year!


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The Dangers of Black Friday Wed, 15 Jan 2020 19:50:58 +0000 The happiest time of the year. Who knew that the holidays could be so dangerous? Between fights, ginormous crowds rampaging through stores, and customers fighting with management for lower prices, this time of year brings out the evil within everyone and it comes out as scary behavior towards the wanting of inanimate objects. There are many large news companies that have given their opinions on this situation such as the New York Post. Hearing the opinion of this huge news station really helped to make the dangers of Black Friday very obvious. 

The statistics are too much to take in. According to the New York Post,Between 2006 and 2018, according to the Hustle, 44 Black Friday incidents in America left 11 dead and 109 injured — including one man who brought home a shattered hip after being shoved into a shelf of cut-rate presents.” There are 120 numbers too many. No one should ever get hurt Christmas shopping for loved ones. That is no way to spend the holidays, with a broken hip, injury, or death just trying to pick out a gift. 

Taking a look at this worldwide problem from a store’s point of view, the New York Post concluded that “In 2018, stores raked in $6.2 billion in the single day…” Stores are not going to do anything to put an end to that because of the insane amount of money that is pouring in. They need to look at the safety risks that these customers are dealing with because of the lack of rules within the stores during this time of the year. Entering and exiting the stores is a free-for-all, and the checkout lines are overtaken by customers attacking cashiers with hundreds of items. There is only one way to solve this, and that would be having police officers guarding the area and rules on certain amounts of people allowed in the store at a time. 

If Black Friday shopping is going to continue on for years to come, we must have strong security and guidelines to how it must be run. We can’t afford anymore injuries or casualties because of items at a store. That is no reason for hurt and pain, especially around the holidays. We can help this situation when shopping by talking to local police officers about stopping in at stores to keep an eye on things, report suspicious activity right away, and try to keep a calm attitude when shopping, entering, and exiting stores after the rush has ended. Stay safe and know when enough shopping is enough! Happy Holidays! 

The first dark day

“In 2008, a Walmart employee on Long Island was trampled to death when more than 2,000 enthusiastic gift-grabbers busted through the store’s front door and could not be contained. This marks Black Friday’s first stampede fatality.”

They didn’t make it past the parking lot

“In 2016, two people were shot in the parking lot of a South Jersey shopping mall. One died and the other was injured. But it was far from the only parking lot shoot-up. Four years earlier, two people in Tallahassee, Florida, were shot over a parking spot. Adding insult to injury, the victims never even made it into the mall for Black Friday savings.”

The pepper spray incident

“There were no deaths, but 20 were injured in North Carolina when an off-duty cop reportedly began pepper-spraying shoppers in 2011, NBC News reported. “He was raining it over the whole crowd,” a witness said. “Some of it got my granddaughter in her face and eyes, and she had to go to the emergency room because she is asthmatic.” Fellow cops seemingly covered for him by describing the “raining” as a “puff of pepper spray.”

Gun crazy in Texas

“Judging by the outcome of a Walmart parking-lot argument in San Antonio, Black Friday is the wrong day to be a good Samaritan. According to The Washington Post, in 2016, Isidro Zarate saw a man pulling a woman’s hair. He told the guy to “take your hands off her.” The hair-puller complied, only to reach for his gun and murder Zarate.”

The wrong look

“One final lesson for those brave enough to shop on Black Friday: Keep your eyes to yourself. Following this advice might have prevented a man from being shot at a mall in Memphis, Tennessee. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a shopper last year had the temerity to check out an “attractive woman.” Outside the mall, he got knocked out and shot by the woman’s beau. An overexcited spectator then pulled out his own gun and began shooting. The paper reported that it was unclear if the man was shooting at the brawlers or just into the air.”

Let it Snow! Fri, 06 Dec 2019 13:56:01 +0000 We are trudging through the cold into the next season of the year: Winter. The snow has started to fall, the ice has formed, and some people are still wearing shorts. How does snow form you ask? Perfect question! 

Well let’s start off with temperatures. In the US, we use the standard system of measurement, which isn’t very standard anymore. In Fahrenheit, the warmest temperature needed to produce snow is 32 degrees, or in Celsius, zero degrees. This is the freezing point for ice.

In these conditions, the normal water vapor will instantly form into ice crystals though ice doesn’t form unless there is pollution of some kind–not harmful gases or substances, more of grains of sand, soot, or ash. 

From there, the ice will continue to expand and grow heavier. This will lead to the falling of these crystals. I know everyone stays up at night just thinking, “Why is some snow more like a powder, and some really wet?” Well, finally, here is your answer. 

If the snow falls through warmer air underneath the cloud, it will either turn into sleet or rain. If it falls through moist air, the ice crystals will come out heavier than before, having collided with other ice crystals and bonding. If the crystals fall through cold air, they will become powdery and won’t stick together as easily. So if there is rain or sleet before a forecast of snow, there is a higher chance of having heavy packing snow. 

For snowballs, this is great. For the wheels of your car, not so much. Good luck throughout the rest of the winter everyone. May you all have good tire traction. And if you want to learn more about rain, sleet, or snow visit


DON’T DEFEND IT #1 “KIDS’ MOVIES” Mon, 25 Nov 2019 20:38:26 +0000 SPOILER ALERT: This article includes some spoilers of The Incredibles & Sing

Hi, I’m Sean, and with so many new and interesting media being presented and consumed everyday by virtually everyone, I thought I’d offer my perspective on some of these pieces as someone who is usually seen as very critical of media (specifically movies). So let’s. Get. Started.

To start off this viewpoint of mine, I’m going to start with the one that probably annoys me the most. KIDS’ MOVIES. Holy crap, the amount of bad kids films out there is stunning, and what’s even worse is that they often win awards! Now, before I get into the examples of both good and bad kids’ movies (in my opinion, of course), I want to share what is the usual argument against people like me who dislike these kids’ movies and how I view these arguments.

The main thing that people always say is, “Well it’s a kid’s movie. It’s not supposed to be well-written.”

Honestly, whenever I hear this I don’t understand it at all and am personally insulted on behalf of people who put in effort and time into making their animated movies as intricate and detailed as possible. Movies, like any form of art, can be bad. When your biggest defense against criticism is “it was a fun movie,” you might want to change your wording from “it was actually good” to “I really liked it!”

There’s nothing wrong with liking something that others consider bad, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that what you’re watching is bad or that it has flaws. There are plenty of movies that I love that have plenty of flaws, but they’re entertaining and interesting. When your movie has NOTHING to offer other than childish jokes, you stop being entertained and instead just look for flaws. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine for kids to like these movies, but kids aren’t the people deciding the Academy Awards, are they?

There are, of course, plenty of movies that are amazing in both animation, style, plot, voice acting, and, yes, even writing. Not only are they well-written, but they showcase such amazing creativity. Some easy examples are, of course, many of Pixar’s earlier works like Wall-E, Monsters Incorporated, Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and, of course, (my personal favorite) The Incredibles. Not only do these movies show very good animation for the time, good voice-acting, and great plots, they also have something that I feel is missing from many kids’ movies today. Emotional. Weight. Now, considering it’s my favorite of the previously listed films (and the one I probably know best), I will be comparing The Incredibles to a movie that was released not too long ago called Sing (made by Illumination Animation).

It’s very likely that those reading this haven’t seen both (or either) of these movies, so I’ll briefly explain the plots of both. To quickly summarize, The Incredibles was a movie released in 2004 and features the story of the main protagonist, Bob “Mr. Incredible” Parr, as well as his family. In his prime, Bob was a very successful superhero who was featured and celebrated nationally for his work in rescuing and protecting the innocent civilians of his city. A sudden anti- superhero movement starts, which eventually leads to superheroes being forced to go into hiding, as the idea of “supers” is now illegal. Cut to twenty years later, and we see Bob now working as an accountant with a family. As we progress through the story, it is revealed that Bob has been offered a secret job by an unknown group to help them by using his super powers. As the story develops, we learn that a character briefly mentioned in the beginning segment of the movie has come back to wreak his revenge on the family as well as unleash havoc on the city. They stop him (obviously) and, in turn, remove the ban of superheroes across the country. The movie ends with a not-so-subtle indicator of a sequel which eventually came like fifteen years later. 

Now, I’m not here to say this movie is perfect, but it certainly did something that wasn’t really being done at the time, which was making a darker Pixar movie. It still is funny, but the premise is actually pretty dark when you experience it for yourself, and I respect the fact that they showed actual guns in the movie. It just made the movie more grounded and made it seem like it took the subject matter seriously, which is honestly something that every film needs. When I tell this to people, I’m often met with, “It’s not supposed to be serious, it’s a comedy” argument. To that I have to say, watch ANY intelligent comedy, and tell me that they aren’t taking the premise seriously to a certain degree. A quick example before moving on to Sing’s premise and summary is the movie Ghostbusters. It’s a very funny movie, and is certainly branded as a comedy, but not only are there some serious scenes, but all of the characters make jokes surrounding the other characters and their actions, not making fun of the ghost crisis. So yes, it is a comedy, but that doesn’t mean they should be lazy with writing. Comedy movies are a subject for another day maybe…

Anyway, in 2016, a kids movie was released to the world called Sing, and ohhhhhhhh boy was it not good at all. The plot can be summarized with these sentences. A mouse (all the characters are animals) decides to hold a singing competition, but has a printing mistake on the flyer that advertises it. By mistake, the flyer gets passed around anyway, and many of the characters see this and decide to join in on the fun. That’s literally the main plot of the movie. Yes, there are several other subplots in there that make no sense, and considering how lengthy this piece is already getting, I’ll leave it at just one. One of the characters is a gorilla who has a dad who is a bank robber, and the subplot is that the dad doesn’t want his son to sing but, oh! His son DOES want to sing. There are a couple more that I can’t remember off the top of my head, but trust me, some of the “character development” is so awful that it’s very obviously just filler to make it a feature length film.

Now, before we end this, what is it that makes The Incredibles good and Sing bad in my eyes? The biggest part of Sing (well, with the writing anyway) is that NONE of the characters are fleshed out at all. There’s just too many characters and too little talent and time put into making them actually interesting or even likeable. But wait, hold on, The Incredibles has quite a few characters, too, so why isn’t that a flaw there? The people responsible for creating The Incredibles knew not just how to write good characters, but they also knew how to create interesting and (in my opinion) realistic conflict between characters without being lazy (i.e. writing every conflicting character as just opposites). Every character in The Incredibles feels like an actual person you’re connecting with rather than just a human (or animalistic) plot point to move the story forward.

Wow, this was a lot longer than I thought it would turn out, but when it comes to movies, I have a lot to say. Hopefully those who read this can understand that this is just my opinion and you are, of course, entitled to your own, and I respect that, and I would appreciate if you returned the gesture. Thanks for reading! Depending on how this does I might make the “Stop Defending It” a sort of rant series or something. If you have any questions, counter-points, suggestions, or differing opinions, be sure to leave a comment below. Hope you enjoyed, and have a wonderful day everybody.

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