Monday, December 14, 2015

Another Hunger Games?

What if you didn't have to say goodbye to the immensely popular distopian world of Panem and the story that follows live of the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. According to director Francis Lawrence, he describes that he would be eager to continue to work on the film, and as of now, that is an extreme possibility. Lionsgate productions has also been hinting of possibly creating Hunger Games prequels. When questioned about such statements, Jennifer Lawrence, the movie's star, says that she thinks that it is "too soon" to revisit the world of the Hunger Games. She is currently working on other film projects, but would be willing to star as Katniss in the future.

I completely agree with Jennifer that they are making plans for a new story way too quickly. The author, Suzanne Collins, hasn't even written any sort of plot for a new story line. If the film's company was to rapidly continue the project, they would have to write most of the events themselves, which could either make the story adventurous and exciting, or completely a disappointment and potentially ruin the whole series. Personally I would love to see another move, or maybe read another book, but for the time being, I think that Lionsgate are being too ambitous if they follow through with making a movie and will most likely destroy our visions of the fantasy world that it takes place in. Please give the movies a little time to settle and maybe in ten years time, when everyone will get excited again, you can come out with another hit.

An Anthem for Adolescent Individuality (final)

Let's take a step back into 2008, in the heart of Disney Channel. Here was a rising star named Demi Lovato who had starred in the hit original movie, Camp Rock, and the TV comedy, Sonny with a Chance. Her first album, Don't Forget, was one of her big jumps to stardom. As one of the title tracks, "La La Land", she described the pressures of society, especially in Hollywood, to look and act a certain way. Unlike many of the people around her, she states that she does not want to change who she is, no matter environment she is in.

Let's take a look at the lyrics: she sings, "I'm not a supermodel, I still eat McDonald's. Baby, that's just me." In places that glamorize the "perfect body," it seems like Demi does not want to give into the pressure of looking a certain way. She wants to eat what she wants to eat and it is her decision in the end. To continue this trend, she asks, "Who said I can't wear my converse with my dress? Well, baby, that's just me!" Her own style is another thing that she wants to define her as an individual in a society filled with people who all look the same. She's just being herself and isn't afraid to stand next to someone wearing a thousand dollar heels. Not only is her physical appearance trying to be changed, but so is her own personal life and the emotions that come with it. She sings, "And who said I can't be single and have to go out and mingle? Baby, that's not me." Over and over again she ends her phrases with "that's not me" after she states something she is being pressured to do. She remains relentless whenever she is trying to be changed in attempt to increase her popularity, her fan base, and maybe her revenue. Others even say that "[she needs] to be afraid of losing everything," and yet she ignores their so called "advice" and continues to control her own life the way she wants to. She doesn't care about what other people think of her At the end of the song she sings statements like, "I'm not going to change," "I will stay that same," "I won't change anything in my life," "I'm staying myself tonight." Usually the last words in any kind of writing, like a poem or a story, it leaves the reader, or listener in this case, with some sort of message that is meant to stay with them. A sort of everlasting impression that sums up all of the words before. In this case, Demi Lovato is showing that she is determined to not be changed by the the "la-la land machine" that is

This whole bubble of the West Coast creates a sort of illusion of perfection and lifestyles that are not realistic. Everyone has the same routines and looks the same. People that enter such an environment end up being pumped out to be the same each other, like how a machine never changes its product. Maybe going so far to say that Hollywood is the machine and the celebrities are what it is producing and that it is not the paradise that it is made out to be. Not like the other celebrities in the business, she won't change what she wears, what she eats, who she dates, or how she lives her life to please anyone, but herself. It is easy to not know this song if you were not an avid Disney Channel viewer in the late 2000s, but Lovato's music video for "La La Land" has over 100 million views on YouTube. Hopefully such a message of staying true to yourself despite the pressures around you has spread to more than adolescent young girls, but to different kinds of people all around the world. Use Demi Lovato's incredible vocals and her lyrics to encourage yourself to be happy in your own skin. Join the thousands and check out the music video here

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Heartfelt Goodbye to the Black Mamba

After 20 years of being the pride and joy of the Los Angeles Lakers, the 37 year old Kobe Bryant announced his retirement. He actually wrote a poem about how his life had been great and that he loves the game, but his body couldn't take much more and that "this season is all I have left to give." To see his actual tweet, click here

In 1996 the young high school star, Kobe Bryant, was selected as the 13th overall draft pick by the NBA team the Charlotte Hornets. He was then traded to the Lakers and ended up spending the rest of his career with the team. He went on to win five national championship titles, including a three-peat, is a two-time NBA finals MVP, seventeen-time NBA all-star, and has won two gold olympic medals with the national basketball team in Beijing and London. The list of his accomplishments seems to go on forever as there are many more than listed above. Looking at what Bryant has done makes you wonder what the league will be like without such a veteran who has made his own personal mark on the sport. This could even be connected to the well known NFL Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, and how he is nearing the end of his historic career. Overall, I will miss seeing Kobe on the court with the Laker's jersey on. I know that we shouldn't be hopeful of a coaching career as when he was asked, he laughed and said, "that's the funniest thing I've ever heard." I dread the end of this season because I know that the league won't be the same without the Black Mamba at it's heart.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Increasing Diversity On the North Shore

Recently, it has been brought to the attention of residents and politicians alike that the northern suburbs of Chicago's housing prices are deemed unaffordable for a majority of the population. One of them, Wilmette, has the average price for a house range between $670,000 to $700,000 compared to the state average of $170,000 according to Because of this, the majority of the residents are white and prove to have little diversity. To try and fix this “problem” and attract a new crowd to the town, there have been talks between Wilmette plan commissioners of building a 20-unit affordable apartment building. When village leaders met to discuss the idea, many other residents came to express their opposition. Their complaints included their concerns of increase an of crime and or possibly a resulting decrease in their own house values.

Personally I believe that such an idea is unrealistic. In no way am I discriminating against person, no matter their race, but typically the richest families in our nation are white. Wilmette has currently over 27,000 residents and covers 5.41 square miles of land. It is realistic to assume that everyone in every house in those 5.41 square miles of the neighborhood are fabulously wealthy. Yes there are many large, expensive houses throughout the town, particularly near the lake, there are also many affordable houses and small apartment buildings throughout the neighborhood.

One must also keep in mind that the phrase, “location, location, location,” is a very relatable topic to such a case. This is something that realtors and homeowners or buyers frequently consider when looking at places to live along with their price. Last year my grandmothers had told me about how her local top doctor was putting his house on the market. It was the largest property, not including a farm, that was being sold in the town of Grand Island, Nebraska. It had a three car garage, three stories, and was appraised on the market for $300,000. My grandma expressed her disgust with such a price that she said in her slight country accent, “Who has that kind of money? That price is ridiculous!” This price is less than half of the Wilmette average, but it’s that way for a reason. Instead of looking at the house itself, let’s look at what is around it. Grand Island is very different than Wilmette, Illinois. What adds hundreds of thousands of dollars to property costs are factors like being near Lake Michigan and Chicago, some of the best public schools in the country, and even the peaceful atmosphere.

If even more “affordable” apartments were added to the town, there could be large problems. Agreeing with some of the angered residents, it could lower their own appraised value for their homes and is not very logical concerning the factors that make the area so expensive. I don’t think that any of the objections are made to insult people of the lower class or another race, but are made to show concern for personal loss of money in the long run for the families already living in Wilmette. Personally I don’t think creating another group of people living in Wilmette is as big of a problem is it seems. If these buildings are approved to be built, they need to be done so in an area where it does not threaten the value of the nearby houses.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Police Handcuff 7-Year-Old Student

On October 12th, a seven year old child attending Brownell STEM Academy's after-school program in Flint, Michigan was handcuffed by police. His mother, Chrystal McCadden, was called into the school office, and when she arrived, she saw her son’s wrists bound together. When she demanded that her son be released, the officers claimed that they didn’t even have the key. Chrystal Claims, “He don't deserve to be in no handcuffs, he ain't in here with no knife, he ain't in here with no gun. You put my son in handcuffs and you don't have the key — what sense does that make?" She later revealed to NBC reporters that her son had ADHD and had never attempted to hurt himself or another person. That would make it difficult to calm his actions when the teacher demanded him to stop. It is still unproven exactly what the boy did to show some sort of disturbance in the school environment. The mother even managed to record video of her son while in the handcuffs in the school. See the two videos here

The Flint Police Department released a statement on Friday that the young student "appeared intent on injuring himself" and was then handcuffed to prevent injury to himself and other students. Along with this, James Tolbert, Flint Police Chief, made a public announcement toward the McCadden family, explaining his apologies for the incident. He has scheduled special training for all of the department’s officers in “de-escalation tactics” to use toward children.

One would only imagine that these kind of interactions between children and police rarely occur, but this is not the case. Only last week, a South Carolina school officer was fired after flipping an 18-year-old student in her chair. Along with this, in August, an 8-year old Kentucky boy who had ADHD was handcuffed while in school by a Kenton County Sheriff's Deputy after failing to listen to his teacher.

This topic is obviously very sensitive towards some and I understand that. It brings up the question if children, or even students, should be treated this way by police officers. Should they be treated as if they were adults? Personally I do not think so because they have experienced less than those who are older and could possibly not know better. I know that this is not exactly the best, most specific reason, but just imagine seeing a child behind bars who might not be able to help committing their crime, like McCadden who had ADHD. Let me know how you feel.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Stop Dreaming Donald

2016 Presidential Candidate
Donald Trump
For a second time, Donald Trump has been accused of using the band Aerosmith's song "Dream On" to power his campaign. Representatives from the lead vocalist, Steven Tyler have now sent another cease-and-desist letter to Trump's campaign. Inside this letter it states that they do not "have [their] clients permission to use 'Dream On.'" It is very reasonable why this is a potential issue because it could make it look like Tyler is connected to Trump's presidential bid not to mention that it isn't even legal. It doesn't matter if the two are friends because if Mr. Donald Trump doesn't have Aerosmith's permission to use their hit song, or any of their songs in that manner, than he is not legally able to use it.

I know that Donald Trump is a powerful billionaire and that he must get in legal trouble frequently. He might win these kind of cases frequently, but the problem is that I think that it adds to his ego. It could make him feel like he is untouchable because he has the money to hire the best lawyers in the world. Personally this kind of behavior is not what I would envision in a president of the United States. Nothing like breaking the law before voting day. In saying this, I understand that there are many people who strongly support Trump's ideas and decisions in life and in his campaign. It is just my opinion that this is not a good idea to break the law twice and still expect people to trust you with the nation's government. I would like to think that our future president would create a good image for the rest of the world to see the country.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Shooting in Oregon

Oregon college shooting suspect Chris Harper-Mercer is seen in a photo taken from his Myspace account
Undated photo of Chris Harper-Mercer from his Myspace page
Just on the first day of October, a 26 year old community college student named Chris Harper-Mercer had attended his English class just like any other day. The thing is that that is only what all of his peers and teacher thought. During the class, this student opened fire on everyone else in the room using military grade weapons. It turns out that he brought six guns that day and 5 ammunition magazines. Eventually the police caught up to the gunman and he was killed in a shootout. In this school shooting, Harper-Mercer killed nine students and teachers, while injuring many others.

According to friends and neighbors, Chris Harper-Mercer was a kind of "awkward loser" who was always seen riding his red bike. He lived with his mother who was friendly to the whole community. While she would chat with other people, Chris would keep to himself and not engage. After a thorough search of their apartment, police found seven other guns.

Unlike some other mass shooters, Harper-Mercer was an army boot camp dropout who flunked out in 2008. After extensive chaser, investigators found through his social media that he was fascinated by the Irish Republic Army, was frustrated by organized religion, and tracked mass shootings that happened all around the world. He seemed to urge others to watch a Virginia shooting from August and stated that "the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight." There was also a message posted on 4chan, a racist and misogynistic forum, that described an upcoming attack, but it is unproven if it was commented by Harper-Mercer.

 Yes all of the guns that he used in the crime were legally registered, but that doesn't make it right for him to be able to use them. I have mixed feelings towards gun control, but if the laws were a little stricter, then there wouldn't be over one shooting a day. In the 274 days so far of 2015, there have been 294 mass shootings. Learn more towards gun control here. Now I'm not saying that no one in the United States shouldn't be able to own a gun or weapon, but that restrictions for registering for a gun are much more intensive so that the police potentially have more leads before crimes happen. I hope that changes will be made and less people die each day, but hoping will only get us so far.

Article describing Oregon shooting

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Next Super Star?

Over the past couple of years, a few players in particular have been hyped in the basketball community. One of which is an 18 year old from Jackson, Mississippi named Malik Newman. Currently Malik is a freshman at Mississippi State University following his father Horatio Webster who played there from 1996 to 98. As a senior at Callaway high school, he was named as the #1 shooting guard in the country with a five star rating according to Malik managed to win state with his school team. Along with this, he played in McDonald's All-American Boys Game in 2015 and the 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championship where he was named MVP.

This is a pretty impressive resume for anyone to have. Of course experts and basketball fanatics all question what will happen with this young prospect. Is it possible that Malik could become the next Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, and dare I say, Michael Jordan? As of now it is nearly impossible to know for sure he will go on the ranks of legendary point guards and hall of fame players. At the very least, I hope that he makes it to the NBA by the end of college. For these guys, sports are everything and they have been competing and training for basically their whole lives. With such dedication and accomplishment I feel like these kind of athletes like Malik Newman deserve to get far in a career that they love above everything else. I know how it feels to love something so much that you dedicate all of your time to it. Sports are the center of my life as well.

Now as much as I list all of Malik's accomplishments, one must think about what would happen if he is not drafted to a professional team. My father once told me that he went to school with a guy who was the valedictorian of the high school and was accepted into Harvard University. He was such a big shot until he started the curriculum, couldn't handle the pressure, and then moved back to Kearney, Nebraska to study Russian literature. My one worry is that Malik has potentially reached his "peak" in skill and can't progress any further or even starts to stack off during his college season. Let's say that he doesn't become part of a team like the Houston Rockets or Miami Heat and can barely pass any of his classes in college. Wouldn't it be sad if he went from a starter in the McDonald's All-American Game to working behind one of McDonald's cash registers?

Of course this are unlikely situations that Malik could be in, judging by his progress as a basketball player, but I can't help but wonder if he is in over his head or if he doesn't continue to put forth the same amount of effort in university. I personally support Malik Newman and his future and hope that he becomes successful. Where do you think he will be in ten years time? Is he overly hyped?

To read more about Malik Newman, check out him and his stats at

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Tribute to Contruction

A Tribute to Construction

I go to a school on Winnetka Avenue
Surrounded by land where trees and flowers grew.
We have two campuses full of thousands of students
But one is under construction to make some improvements.
They'll spend millions of dollars to cover the excuse
They're working on things we won't be able to use.
They said it will be done in a couple of years
But I know it's not true and so do my peers.
Some hallways are crowded because others are shut down
Now the main hallways will become even more run-down.
On a beautiful day we'll try to open the windows
Just to be greeted by the noise coming from below.
The revving of engines, the falling of stone
We'll just shut the windows and rely of the air conditioning alone.
While I'm taking a test, I can hear the noise outside
I would put my hands over my ears and close my eyes.
They always remind us of
the future to come
But I can't remember while the noise is pounding in my head like a constant drum.
We are always surrounded and trapped in this cage
I'll flip through the pages of renders that fuel my my rage.
The new school will be great for both of my younger brothers
But what about me? What about all of the others?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

No Morality

Today this post will center around Louise Erdrich's book, The Round House. Just in case you haven't read the book, it follows a thirteen year old boy named Joe who lives on an Indian reservation. One day Joe's mother is violently raped and she ends up suffering severe depression and refuses to leave her room afterward or talk about the crime with anyone. Now a vital part of what will come next will spoil the book for people who have not read every page. If you continue, I cannot be held responsible. You've been warned. As I was saying before, Joe's mother is tormented by the idea that her attacker, a white rich man named Linden Lark, is walking free, untouched by the law. To escape the constant danger that he believes his family, friends, and especially mother, to be in while this man is on the loose, Joe decides to end the fear. He stakes out Lark on his favorite golf course and kills him with a gun with the help of his best friend Cappy.

Now Joe seems to be a consequential thinker throughout the book as he worries about the future and not necessarily the actions it takes to get there. He kills Linden Lark to protect the people that he loves. Lark is a dangerous man who had already attacked his mother and could easily do it again if he was not stopped. I would like to imagine myself as a consequential thinker like Joe. I strongly believe in receiving punishment for wrong actions that were committed. I assume that many other people feel the same. While I do believe in punishment, I don't necessarily know if this punishment should be death. For example, if there was a serial killer  who was arrested and put on trial, I would most likely would not be compelled to spare their life. I feel like they would deserve to die for causing so much suffering. The difference with Linden Lark is that he didn't kill Joe's mother and yet still Joe killed him. I am not completely convinced that the outcomes were equal. Now if Lark continuously threatened Joe's family or friends, and even attacked someone again, then maybe I would reconsider, but this didn't really happen. I guess that one could make an argument that Lark actually killed his romantic interest Mayla, but Joe doesn't really connect to Mayla. What I'm trying to say is that Lark should have been convicted of her murder and then killed by officials rather than having Joe murder him and not really considering Mayla's death, but his mother.
I know that these thoughts are a little confusing and not straightforward, but that's how my mind is perceiving these situations. I don't think that I will ever be completely convinced that Joe killing Linden Lark was the right thing, and maybe that makes me a categorical thinker. I  mean even Joe wasn't even sure if what he was about to do was the best idea: "Murder, for justice maybe. Murder just the same. I had to say this a thousand times in my head before I said it out loud" (280). I guess this makes him a categorical thinker as he tries to convince himself that murder is the only answer, but is clearly not sure by his decisions.

Overall I think that you could be both a consequential and categorical thinker and that it always depends on the situation. I feel like people are always arguing that immoral actions should never be performed, but what if the other person isn't innocent.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Run Joe Run

As of now, the Democratic race for presidency is continues between candidates such as Lincoln Chafee and Hillary Clinton. As of recently, these politicians were seen as the only possible candidates for this Democratic portion of the elections. Little did they know that Vice President Joe Biden had a few tricks up his sleeve. On September 7th, 2015, Biden marched in Pittsburgh's annual Labor Day parade and spoke to a crowd of thousands. Here he was greeted by cheers and chants of "run, Joe, run."

"Run, Joe, run." What does that mean? This could obviously mean that the chanters wanted Biden to the create a presidential campaign. Or what if this meant something else? Let's say that there were people in the crowd who didn't support Biden and were chanting the slogan for another reason. Could the phrase "run, Joe, run" be seen in a different way? It is possible that some chanted to Biden that he should get himself away from any idea of joining the race for president. Run is a physical action that has more than one definitions and could be portrayed in more than one way.

Nevertheless, it is extremely possible that Joe Biden will strive to become the next president of the United States once Barack Obama steps down after his eight years. He makes claims that "the wealthy aren't paying their fair share" and to make the United States whole again. While many support the idea of Biden running, it is in the end up to him to decide to do so. He has claimed that he isn't sure if he and his family had the "emotional energy" for yet another campaign. After all, this presidential campaign could end up not succeeding like in '08 when announced his candidacy for President of the United States.

Until that moment happens. all we can do is wait for Vice President Joe Biden to make his move, that is if that moment ever happens. Personally I think that Biden should run as it would most likely be the last chance he has and the worst that could happen is that he loses. So, like the Pittsburgh union crowd cheered, "give it a go, Joe."

Read more about this topic here or here and stay informed on who is running here