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Hello everybody and welcome back to Common Culture! Today I want to talk about this picture of Willow Smith that’s going around. Yes, she’s in bed with a shirtless dude. Yes, that dude is Rico from Hannah Montana. Yes, he is twenty (seriously?!) and she’s thirteen (seriously?!). Sites have been blowing up with how inappropriate and wrong this picture is.

This seems to be a bit of an over exaggeration. I have a brother. I cannot count the number of shirtless friends-of-his that traversed my home during my childhood. They were often around me, they were my friends as much as his, and there was absolutely nothing inappropriate or sexual about it. I’m sure any of us have had situations like that, and could recognize this as a similar one.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. What I do want to talk about is Jada Pinkett-Smith’s response to the backlash over the picture: “Here’s the deal: There was nothing sexual about that picture or that situation. You guys are projecting your trash onto it, and you’re acting like covert pedophiles, and that’s not cool.”

Slowclap for Mama Smith.

An innocent picture picked apart by the media, conceptions and assumptions tossed all over it, and suddenly we have some new interpretation of how inappropriate Willow Smith’s relationship is with this guy? Why can’t we just let kids be kids? Like Jada said, it’s more creepy on the people who cannot look at this picture and see it for what it is, rather than immediately writing some weird child-sex fan fiction in their minds.

The Smith parents have always received criticism of their parenting styles. They don’t believe in punishment; they try to let their kids do what they want, and if they make poor decisions, the consequences will be punishment enough. They give them free reign over their body and appearances; Willow Smith is constantly seen with (and criticized for) her interesting and often changing hairstyles and clothing choices.

Will and Jada believe that they need to let their children be their own people as young as possible, grow into themselves as people early, young and strong. They want them to let them make their mistakes, and have the freedom to do so. They want them to feel that they are their own and the product of no one else. And who can really say that isn’t liberating or positive for a child? Sure, people will scoff at them for not grounding a kid when they’re out past curfew or when they have pink hair at age 10, but who are we really to judge? Do we have a chart with the stats of which methods work best? Doesn’t it depend on a plethora of circumstances?

I don’t know how to parent, but I like their theory. I think that people are constantly looking to judge anything that’s outside the norm or conceived as “inappropriate”, but the Smith kids seem completely fine to me – if anything, they seem to be particularly confident and strong-willed kids. And that doesn’t just happen on its own. That comes from – you got it – good parenting. Parenting that supports the children, allows them to grow and express themselves. And maybe allows them to hang out with a friend who isn’t wearing a shirt and doesn’t make a huge deal out of it because there wasn’t anything to make a big deal about.

As we wear down on the semester, I run out of ways to describe my perpetual puzzlement at how media works, but to be blunt on this one, I think the news outlets need to find real news to run before drawing outlandish conclusions with no reason to, especially involving children. It’s hard enough growing up, hard enough being in the spotlight, hard enough being the child whose upbringing is constantly being judged because of its nonconformity, when in fact it may be ingenious. We don’t need to add any extra difficulty. I think the Smith kids are fine, and are being raised with nothing but love and high hopes, so maybe it’s time to cool it on the ridiculous headlines.

“Your Weekly Popcorn” is a blog dedicated Jake Arasim’s short stories and movie reviews. Please enjoy his final short story of the semester, “Cursing in French.”

Jake’s song of the day: How Soon is Now? – THE SMITHS

http://youtu.be/HUMh8GQnDW8

Jake’s video clip of the day: Youth in Revolt (2009)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYTATEwJ_SA

I go to the library every chance I get! The library is the equivalent of Disney World, by my own perspective. Every day, since the age of six, I would always read. Read, read, and read, all day long, from dusk till dawn. Usually, kids around my age would get busted for watching television past their bedtime, or sneaking a midnight snack. As for me, I would get grounded for reading a book past midnight. Hardcore stuff, right?

I’ve always had some anxiety when actually looking for a book to read, at the library. The anxiety can get so bad, that I would have to take a leak. This sort of event would happen every time I would just be browsing for a book. Just books! I could look around, searching for anything else, and not have that problem. It’s always been with books, where my bladder suddenly decides it wants to squeeze the lemon. However, for the past several years, I have learned how to maintain my anxiety, by obviously taking a piss before I would make another trip to the library. So, every time I make haste to the city library, I would make a quick trip to the bathroom. You have no idea how annoying it is to look through shelves of books, and I have to take a raging piss. It’s ridiculous! The only bathroom, in the library, is down on the first floor and I’m usually on the third browsing the horror and sci-fi sections.

Speaking of science fiction, I personally LOVE Ursula K. LeGuin. Her book, The Left Hand of Darkness, made me fall madly in love with science fiction, in the first place. If I could marry anyone, I would marry LeGuin. However, she died in her late sixties, so I guess that’ll never happen. As for marriage, in general, who the hell would marry me? I’m a 32 year-old virgin, I read more than I talk, I go to bookstores (rather than bars), I work as an accountant, I eat, I poop, and I fall asleep every night at 10:32pm (I have a strict sleeping demand). So, who the hell would marry Mark Price II?

It’s not like I’m desperate for love to arrive into my life, anyway; I have my standards. I want a woman who isn’t a constant, noisy, bitch as she rants on and on about the gossip she hears, all around work. If I’m ever going to marry, my spouse should—no, my spouse MUST—keep work and home completely separate. I don’t come home every day, complaining about how my friend, Kevin (just using an example; I don’t have friends), was the one who ate Leslie’s sandwich, out of the refrigerator, to my cat Cujo. That last part is true, I do have a cat named Cujo, and I know he’s just a damn cat, but you get my point. Oh, and my spouse would have to at least enjoy reading. Oh, and if she hasn’t at least heard of the author, Larry Umbrella, marriage ain’t happening’!

I woke up one morning, feeling like a forgotten fish stuck in a non-operating microwave. I smacked my lips, after slamming on my alarm clock—reading 9:32 am—reminding myself how much I hate morning breath. After I give myself this reminder, I practically rush down stairs to get a bowl of cereal. I eat my cereal, I clean my dishes, I slip out of my pajamas, and then I go into the bathroom for a five minute and thirty second shower (to avoid an increasing water bill), and I get dressed. I usually wear a white polo, with tan khakis and Asics tennis shoes. Since I’m not the getting-into-shape type, I figured I should just wear tennis shoes on a regular basis. After all, I’m always walking two miles to and from my apartment and the library.

I lived across the street of my local dentistry. The massive announcement, which stood outside the dentistry, always revealed the time and date. The date was July 23rd, 2008 and it was a beautiful 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of wearing khakis, today, I decided to wear khaki shorts. After I changed into shorts, I rushed out of my apartment, worrying that I was going to be slightly delayed with my daily schedule. It felt good to finally wear shorts. This year’s winter was too long.

Speaking of winter, I always thought it was a pain in the goblin ass to add layers and layers of clothes just to keep my stupid body warm and survive from hypothermia. From where I’m from (Helena, Montana), the weather can be as downgrading as the negative 30s Fahrenheit. Not only do I have to wear more clothes, during the ridiculous season of winter, I also have to do my laundry more often. It’s a complete mess. Who the hell wants to do laundry? No one does, but it’s something we all have to do every day, so I shouldn’t complain.

So, as I started walking down James Street, contemplating about how much I hate winter, I completely forgot about one thing. And once I realized what that was, it was already too late to do anything to avoid it. It’s a Wednesday morning and I arrive at the library, two minutes shy from it’s opening time. This was completely my fault, because I forgot to look out my window, at my dentist building, to see how many degrees it was outside. I didn’t let that bother me, even though I was about to loathe myself completely, within the next ten minutes. The library was quiet (duh) and not a lot of people were inside it. This is why I like arriving at the library early because the library was open when everyone else went to work, and it was perfect for my work schedule, also. I made my way up to the third floor, where the science fiction and horror books were located.

(Both the horror and science fiction genres had four shelves, containing at least seventy amazing books. I kid you not, I have read at least over half of these books. You can pretty much say I have a lot of time on my hands.)

I quietly approached the shelves and my attention was immediately caught by the sight of a book. This was a book that I had been waiting for. For being a new, popular release, I’m surprised that my library only had one copy of The Essence of Pixie Juice, a hilarious science fiction novel, written by Larry Umbrella.  The book had just been released about a week ago and I started to get really excited. Really excited. I took the book off the shelf, being a lot smaller than I expected (I usually appreciate a novel worth reading over 300 pages, but 230 pages written by Larry Umbrella was good enough for me!) I started reading the synopsis on the back cover, before I realized the terrible “danger” I was in.

I really needed to go to the bathroom. I forgot to go back at my apartment! I started swearing in fluent French, under my breath. In graduate school, I finally learned how to speak fluently in French. Which is pretty cool, I guess, although I haven’t met anyone else who spoke French, ever since college. I continued to swear, desperately reading Umbrella’s synopsis, while desperately holding my bladder from exploding. Sunufabitch! Rrrgh! I was in no mood to rush quietly down the stairs. I really had to go, so I sighed frustratingly, and I decided to go down the stairs to the library’s only bathroom. I was unable to finish reading Umbrella’s hilarious synopsis, which also made me angry.

“It’s alright,” I whispered to myself, “it’s only a two minute potty break. I’ll be fine.” I walked past the librarian, who looked a lot like Aunt May from The Amazing Spider-Man comic book series, and gave her a slight wave, as I battled my way to the restroom. She waved back sweetly, as she was taking previously borrowed books back to their shelves. I hastily walked into the restroom and approached the urinal, loosened my belt, unzipped my pants, and released. I made the angry grunt, like a war-monger, as I pushed my urine into the toilet as much as I could, followed by a small release of flatulence. I was still going, which made me even more frustrated, especially when my damn cell phone started ringing. The ringtone played Beethoven’s fifth symphony, which meant that my work was calling. I started swearing in French, again, but a little louder than before. “Merde, merde, merde!!!”

mark prince ii (2)               I was not able to answer my phone, before I were to finish urinating. It was coming down, like a never-ending river of yellow. I calmly took out my flip cell phone, from my shorts pocket, still urinating, and … *plop* I had dropped the damn thing, all butterfingers and bad luck. It was all in slow motion, as I watched my ringing phone fall into the deep hole of the toilet. Not only was my phone drowning in a pool of my own piss, I was still going to the bathroom! My eye twitched violently. At first, I thought of simply taking the phone out, but that would lead to a phone covered in pee and that would lead to insanitary hands, as well as wanting to wash off the phone with water, thus damaging it more than it already was. I stopped peeing, but I was definitely pissed off. The phone was no longer ringing and I had no idea what my boss wanted. I bet it was something really important, something that actually risked my job. Fortunately, despite being furious with myself, there was a cell phone store a couple blocks south from the library. Thank God I was about due for an upgrade, also, or else I would be spending $550 on a new, stupid phone, which I really need, according to society. Society or not, I actually really need a phone. Without one, I don’t have a job, pretty much.

I left the library, flushing my poor phone down the toilet, after washing my hands. I walked at a faster pace, which felt weird to me. I never went on a slow jog in a couple years. I’m so damn lucky to be average-sized. I walked into the cell phone place, told the sales associate that it was time for an upgrade.

“What happened to the other phone?” he asked, with a slight chuckle. He was a heavier man. He was so fat, that when he laughed, his “chins” would jiggle like a freshly-made dish of tofu.

I lied. “Nah. My dog, Cujo, ate the other one. Had to throw it away.”

The fat sales associate laughed, as he looked through my account information, after I told him of course. His jiggly chins really bothered me. They looked hypnotic and unsettling. He needed to lose weight, now. I also saw that the man had a ring on the finger of his left hand. Lucky bastard. However, it could only mean that his wife was fat, also. Fat people like fat people. Can’t be any simpler than that. Alas, if he was dating a thin, yet curvaceous, woman I would be surprised, yet not surprised at the same time. There are wonderful women out there. If you don’t believe me, men all over the world, then you are missing out. Same goes to you, girls. There are great guys out there. Why the hell am I being so sympathetic? I just dropped my phone in a toilet full of toilet water and urine, while my work was calling me. Why am I thinking about love and affection, again? Damn, if people could read each other’s thoughts, the world would have ended a long time ago.

As Mr. Double-chin was setting up my new phone, which was only $25 thanks to the upgrade, a beautiful woman walked into the store, holding hands with what looked like her son. She looked like she was in her early thirties, as her son looked like he was only eight. The woman was gorgeous, standing at least five-foot-three, with short blonde hair, brown eyes, and tan-white skin. Tan-white skin?! What?! This woman has already gotten me into a spell, which I did not realize, until she actually spoke.

Another sales associate came out of the back door, behind the counter where Double-chin was working. He was overweight, also! I made myself laugh quietly, after I imagined the idea of the two sales associates dressing up as Santa Clause for when the Christmas season came. I could already imagine a giant advertisement, in big letters: “Ask what phone contract you want to Santa! The deals are ‘Ho-Ho-Ho-tastic!” Oh, God, I have no creativity.

I had realized I was under a spell of pure affection when the beautiful woman said to the sales associate, “Bonjour! Comment allez-vous?”

OH MY GOD! I yelled in my thoughts, which on the outside I smiled brightly. She spoke in French! The sales associate looked dumbfounded and I could tell he was not bilingual. I knew exactly what she said, obviously, and I thought about helping out. But obviously, I was too damn nervous to actually help the woman out. She looked confused too, as the Double-chin Number Two said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re saying, ma’am.”

Then it hit me. The other day, I was on MySpace.com, browsing through. I remember scrolling across a picture of a cat. Taking my liking for cats, the picture caught my attention, of course. There was a caption above the cat, labeling “If you’re too scared, or nervous, 20 Seconds of Courage is all it takes to make everything ‘purrrrrfect.’” The words of wisdom really struck me and I thank God for reading it in the first place. When I remembered that wonderful quote and that wonderful cat, I didn’t hesitate to step in and help out.

catI translated in English, to Double-chin Number Two, of what the woman said in French. She had simply said, “Hello, how are you?”

Double-chin Number Two chuckled lightly (Dear Lord). “Oh, I’m very well, how about you miss?”

She spoke in French, again, saying that her name was Michelle -What an iconic name for a French woman- and she smiled at me, after saying that she wanted a new phone, also. Damn, was that smile a punch in the face. She was gorgeous. Holy crap, this can’t be happening, could it? As Double-chin Number One worked on my new phone, I continued to translate for Michelle. Once the two Double-chins were working on our new phones, I noticed that Michelle’s son was sitting in a waiting chair, reading a small book.

“Wow, a reader, huh?” I said to Michelle, in French.

“Oui,” she replied, smiling brightly. Jesus. She told me that his son, Jacques, enjoyed reading. She had moved here to America, just recently, after a brutal divorce with her ex-husband.

Okay, first off, why would a beautiful woman, with a clever kid, move all the way from Europe, to Helena, Montana, in the United States. Of all places, WHY MONTANA?! This was certainly too good to be true. However, I wasn’t going to let my hopes up. She probably doesn’t even read, let alone know who Larry Umbrella is known for. Not meaning to be a Debbie-Downer, but I have my standards, remember? Oh, and second off, who the hell would want to divorce with such a French babe, like Michelle? Hmm, she’s probably a psycho, like me.

We continued to talk. I told her I was an accountant and I spent most of my time reading. I bet I looked so ridiculous wearing a white polo, tan khaki shorts, and Asics tennis shoes, in front of her. She was wearing a beautiful, pink, white-flowery, spring dress in white heels. The outfit matched her green eyes, perfectly. Then, Double-chin Number One had my new phone up and ready for operation. That was a relief. I began to make a quick call with my boss, until I noticed what Jacques was reading, as he sat on the waiting seat. It was a FREAKING COPY OF THE ESSENCE OF PIXIE JUICE WRITTEN BY LARRY UMBRELLA! WOW! Words could not express how jealous I was of that eight year-old boy. What? I can’t read a book that was for kids? Shut up.

I told Michelle how much I loved Larry Umbrella and she smiled, again. She said how much she loved reading Umbrella’s books with her son, before he could even read. Every night, she would read him a hilarious story written by the “bad-assory” powers, of writing, by Larry Umbrella. I felt butterflies flutter swiftly into my stomach, as I began to actually like Michelle a lot more than a mere acquaintance. Although she doesn’t read independently, at least Michelle knows who the hell the legendary Umbrella is! That was good enough for me. This next event was completely unexpected, while Double-chin Number Two was still working on Michelle’s new phone. My heart sunk when Michelle asked me for a cup of coffee, after she got her phone, with her and Jacques. In my head, I cursed in French, once again. Michelle was totally into me. This was brand new; I liked it a lot.

I was really impressed with Michelle. Hell, I still am. I said “Oui,” with a satisfied smile. Before I met Michelle, I hardly ever smiled. I was always so self-conscious about how my teeth looked. Sometimes I just really need to be confident. That kitty on MySpace.com was right, 20 seconds of Courage is really all that took. Ever since I met Michelle, I had to switch around my daily schedule a bit, which I have never really done before. The only other time I had to do that was when I had to visit my mother, if she wanted cans of soup from the nearby convenient store. I’m thankful that I met Michelle. If I never forgot to take a raging piss in my apartment, before I went to the library, I wouldn’t have married her eleven months later.  Oh, and guess what, I totally lost my virginity that night, too. It was pretty awesome.

I still visit the library, whenever I can of course, except I have two new people in my life, who are more than happy to tag along with me. I now look back to eleven months ago, and honestly, I want to slap myself for ever saying, “I want a woman who isn’t a constant, noisy, bitch as she rants on and on about the gossip she hears, all around work,” because Michelle does it alllllll the time. It’s not as bad I thought, it’s actually wonderful. Michelle is my best friend and she makes me not feel so lonely. And another thing, thanks to her, I stopped having so much anxiety whenever I would go to the library. I can now officially say “I’m free.” Pretty hardcore, right?

End.

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Hello everybody and welcome back to Common Culture. So this past Saturday, the NFL draft took place. Not gonna lie, I don’t know much about it. Football is not really my jam, just like it isn’t for probably a decent chunk of gay men (not generalizing – you go, football loving gays! I’ve seen Glee! Kurt was the best kicker they’d ever seen!). But this weekend, football was the subject of quite a bit of talk amongst the gay community because Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.

In the past few years, gay rights have become a much more heated issue, and so it may seem that this is not anything new. However, one of the places most grudgingly facing off against equal rights efforts are sports leagues. It’s unfortunately not surprising. In cave men terms, sports = men. Tough. Sweat. Muscles. Gay rights = not tough. Not manly. Yuck. This mindset didn’t apply to everyone but the headlines that began filling the newsstands couldn’t be ignored. Stories of athletes using homophobic slurs in locker rooms, avoiding teammates who they suspected of being gay, and athletes coming out after their careers were finished were everywhere. It just seemed to be a fact that athletes didn’t feel comfortable or safe with being gay and involved in sports.

And they had good reason to feel that way. Approaching the draft, Michael Sam, a defensemen for the University of Missouri, too felt the pressure of mixing sports and homosexuality. His chances of being drafted were lower simply because he was gay, and chances were high he would face the same scrutiny and judgment that others had faced.  But he was willing to take the chance. Sam purposefully came out before the draft because he wanted to be upfront about who he was. An incredibly gifted player but also gay. An asset to any team but one that refused to hide or pretend to be someone else. Michael Sam wanted the team that picked him to want all of him. And, historically, the Saint Louis Rams did.

This is history in the making that we’re watching. Because on Saturday, we saw a gay man be consciously chosen by a sporting team to join their organization, no matter his sexual orientation. We saw the opposing sides of sports and gay rights bridge the gap and progress be made. We saw Michael Sam cry tears of joy as he received the phone call that he’d been chosen. We saw him kiss his boyfriend and no one jeered or called them names. We saw history moving in the right direction.

I’m so glad to be alive at this time. A time where, even though it has been slow going, the organizations that had the hardest time accepting love, no matter what it looked like, are making progress. We are seeing people achieve their dreams and be supported and loved, whatever their situations. We are seeing through race, through gender, through religion, through sexual orientation. We are in a time where people try to put themselves in the positions of others, try to be open-minded, try to love in spite of and because of our differences. Because those differences are what make us valuable and what make us able to help each other to grow into better people.

So thank you for Michael Sam. Thank you for being someone bringing sports and gay rights together. Because maybe (and hopefully) one football-loving gay-hating guy in Saint Louis will see you on his team and root for you to bring the team glory and will realize that the team you play for has nothing to do with how you should be treated as a person. Hopefully he buys your jersey and wishes you happiness. Hopefully that spreads. Because we are in a time of change, and you are helping to bring it.

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5/5/2014 

Hello everybody and welcome back to Common Culture. Today was a slow news day so I thought I would just talk about something I love – Ellen DeGeneres. I think the only people who don’t love Ellen are those without souls, because Ellen is a gift to the world. So on this blog, I am going to give four reasons explaining why Ellen is a gift to the world and why I think we might as well just give it to her. The whole thing. Because she deserves it.

1.       Ellen is so funny. There’s something about a talk show host with a sense of humor who’s actually funny that immediately earns my endless love. Ellen’s opening monologues, the segments on her show, her pranks and her social media presence are always gold, A+ earning comedic bits. Ellen always has a smile on her face and doesn’t take life too seriously. The whole premise of her show is to be able to make people laugh, even if only for an hour a day, to better their lives. And to be honest, it works. My family and I used to watch Ellen together every day and would end up laughing with tears down our faces sometimes. That is quality time you don’t forget, and Ellen is to thank for it. If you don’t believe me about how funny this show can be, watch this clip, I dare you not to laugh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKA0f9vRO38

 2.       Ellen is so cool. At 56 years old, Ellen is cooler than most people I know. She has excellent fashion sense, is always up on the current trends and fads, and has no problem making fun of herself, playing games, or acting like the kid she is inside. Ellen is such a good sport and she doesn’t let anything get in the way of having fun. Check out this video to see Ellen being so cool I don’t even know how to describe it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKkCMYYXikI.

 3.       Ellen is so generous. I don’t know anyone who has a bigger heart or gives more than Ellen DeGeneres. Every day on her show, she is giving money to those in need, bringing attention to causes that need it, and making a positive difference in the world. She supports so many charities and organizations that, with her help, can make real, important changes. Ellen understands that her fame can be used to make the world a better place and she constantly does so. She is a true inspiration for what we should all hope to be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mg3vFfRKak. (I am tearing up watching this video right now! Man, Ellen is the best!)

 4.       Ellen is a role model. In a time where gay people were still hiding the truth about themselves, Ellen was brave enough to come out. Since then, she has served as a role model for so many people who felt that they weren’t represented in mainstream media. Ellen has fought tirelessly for gay rights, standing up for people like her and against bullies and laws and discrimination that keep them down. Ellen has championed with the “It Gets Better” campaign to prevent youth suicides due to the pressures of coming out. She is a hero, an inspiration, and someone  who cares endlessly about the well-being and happiness of others.

Is my love for Ellen showing? Pop culture has its share of stories about new haircuts and expensive vacations of various celebrities, but it also does the important job of giving us figures to pay attention to and look up to. Luckily, a few of them are people we can respect and aim to be more like, and I’m thankful I have Ellen as one of those!

 

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Jake’s song of the day: Fire in the Twilight – WANG CHUNG

Jake’s video clip of the day: The Green Mile (1999)

 

May is easily one of the most beautiful months of the year. It is the peak of Spring, where flowers are blooming, trees are looking alive, and people are getting outside to do super awesome activities. May is also a big, fat reminder for students and teachers that school is almost over, for the summer! May has always given me a sign of relief, a sign of happiness, as I finally see the “light of freedom” from escaping education’s challenging clutches.

May is also a month to celebrate a very special someone. Someone who has always stood behind your back, making sure you always made the right choices. This person is your MOTHER! YEAH! For me, my mom, Claire Axtman-Sitts, is one the most influential human beings I’ve ever met. She’s gorgeous, she’s genuine, funny as hell, and is a role-model for anyone.

 

mom grad

 

My mom was born on November 22nd, 1973, to my grandmother Sheila O’Halloran, and grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho. My mom has always been active, always getting involved. Throughout high school, she would cheer lead, play volleyball, play basketball, and she even did ballet. After high school, Mom attended Carroll College in Montana, where I was born and entered her life. Once she had me, she was able to finish college and get her Bachelor’s. Ever since then, Mother raised me, my sister Kayla, my step sister Brittani, and my baby sister Rylee.

 

me

 

 

In this past year, Mom has helped with so much with college. I couldn’t be more than thankful for my mom. I’m a Momma’s Boy and I am damn proud of it. All while she is helping me with college, she’s also working to help raise my sisters and keep a roof over their heads, including mine. I honestly wish everyone could meet her and just experience how awesome she really is. She works hard, she gives the best advice, and she has the best personality, and will make you smile no matter what. I’ve never felt so blessed and I would never replace my mother for anyone else in the world. She totally deserves to have a blog entry written about her, for she is a super hero in my eyes. My mom is da bomb.

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you so much. Everything you do is great and if it weren’t for your support and tender love, I honestly would be nowhere near I am, today.

 

Love your #1 son, Jake

Jake’s song of the day: Teenage Riot – SONIC YOUTH

http://youtu.be/xvDuATZCY8I

Jake’s Movie Clip of the day: Benchwarmers (2006)

Bryton woke up almost immediately on hard-wood floor, after he had been knocked unconscious from collapsing on a brass doorknob. He felt cursed to be alive, after witnessing the most horrific sight of his life. He felt like he would rather die, than to see that horrific, demonic face once again. What he witnessed was pure evil, an evil that he had never seen before. After all the years of stealing from people and hurting people, Bryton felt as though he was finally getting what he, and his group of thieves, finally deserved. He woke up on a rug, next to a massive wooden kitchen table, which shined faintly from the dimmed lighting of the house. It was far too quiet and the woman in the white night gown was nowhere to be seen. Not only was this woman unseen, but so were Ret, Laura, and the two dismembered heads of Zap and Noodle. Realizing where he was, Bryton searched his pockets for his pistol, which he always had since the first time he left his home. His gun was gone; someone had taken it when he was unconscious. His heart rate began to increase.

Bryton began to suffer his raging headache, once he had woken up and thus realizing that he was moved back to the kitchen, from the his only means of escape at the front door. Bryton slowly got up quietly, being aware of his surroundings. He stood over the large, wooden, kitchen table, which happened to have a massive silver platter sitting in the middle, surrounded by assorted plates and silverware. Bryton didn’t even want to know what was in that platter, he just wanted to get the hell out of the Cranston house. He was aware of the fact that it was quiet and he was going to use the silence to his advantage to finally escape. Bryton thought it would be appropriate to escape out of the back door, the one where Laura invaded the house. He had never felt so scared in his life. His palms were soaked in sweat, as were his forehead, and the rest of his body. He proceeded to leave the kitchen, until…

“Where are you going in such a hurry?” came a wretched voice from behind. Bryton decided to ignore the voice, which had the tone of a sadistic man, and continued to walk. He hastily walked through the halls of the house, continuously harassed by the same voice. “Get back here, now! You insignificant, putrid animal! You’re going to miss the main course! Hahahaha!”

The horrible laughing taunted Bryton, as he made his way through the house. There was no sight of Ret or Laura, which caused him to jump to the conclusion of the two being dead. Then, during the endless taunting from the disturbing voice, Bryton found the back door, which happened to be a massive antique. Bryton prayed in his thoughts that the door would be accessible to his escape, after he had noticed that every other window on the first story was completely barred, similar to a prison. The frightened man reached for the old brass doorknob, twisted, and gasped with relief. The door was unlocked and Bryton wasn’t hesitant to open the door immediately and run into… the kitchen? Once he stepped back into the kitchen, somehow, Bryton nearly had a heart-attack when he saw a whole family sitting at the kitchen table, staring at him. The man in the red zoot suit and his family sat under the dimly-lit chandelier, which hung over the table. Bryton noticed that the woman in the white night gown was sitting next time, also, although she had her normal face. Her normal face, before she revealed her demonic one, wore a terrifying grin. Two younger girls sat on either side of the kitchen table, looking up at Bryton, with the same god-awful grins spread across their faces. The man in the red zoot suit, however, showed an uptight expression revealing his anger towards Bryton. What did Bryton ever do to deserve this?!

“Sit down,” the man ordered, motioning to an empty seat across from him and his scary-ass wife.

“I…” Bryton stuttered, then was immediately interrupted by the man’s booming voice, along with his eye turning completely black.

“SIT THE HELL DOWN, BOY! YOU ARE OUR GUEST! Isn’t that right, family?!”

The family of unnatural beings looked up at Bryton, who was simply petrified with fear. The entire family laughed demonically, causing Bryton to run off once again. He had to get out of here!

“LEAVING SO SOON, BRYTON MATTHEW PEAR?! I WANT YOU TO LOOK AT ME WHEN WE SLAUGHTER YOU LIKE A BOAR!”

Voices of the family rang throughout the halls of the house, as Bryton ran for his life, all bellowing, “BOAR! BOAR! BOAR! BOAR! BOAR!”

Bryton could feel the warm, wet sensation of his own urine trailing down his legs and endless amount of tears rolling down his cheeks. He ran through a very long corridor, the same one he took to get to the back door of the mansion. As he ran through the corridors, it was suddenly silent. Bryton continued to run for his life, towards the back door at the very end, only worrying about himself.  He got to the door and opened it, expecting to see the night sky and a fence that he could hop over to get to Ret’s vehicle. Unfortunately, he ended up somewhere different. It was cold and pitch black and Bryton couldn’t understand what was happening. This had to be the back door right? However, he was ready to act in self-defense against what could be a potential threat. Bryton couldn’t see a thing, but he had a feeling that the back door could be in here. Was there another door that led me to the backyard? If so, was it always this dark before? Maybe those sick, sick demons turned out the lights to scare me. This isn’t real. I am getting out of this hell-hole.

Thinking that the pitch-dark room was much safer than the kitchen full of crazies, Bryton took out his flashlight, which was still in his coat pocket, and shined it in the dark room. He still could barely see a thing, due to the dense amount of dust lingering in the air. He could smell something rotting, something dead and unwelcoming. Bryton’s heart froze when he heard a disturbing sound of what sounded like flesh being torn. The tearing of flesh got louder, causing Bryton to shine his flashlight everywhere, desperately trying to spot any door that would get him out of this room. This room was certainly not here, before. The sound of tearing flesh grew louder, followed by Bryton actually flashing his light upon the source.

As far as Bryton has experienced with gruesome murders, such as the decapitations of Zap and Noodle, he honestly had no idea how to react once he had seen what was making a most horrid noise. A beastly dog, a regular husky, which resembled too much of a wolf, was devouring a human corpse. It wasn’t just a human corpse, but it was the corpse of Laura. As the dog slurped up and chewed on her innards, it slowly looked up at him. It stared at him, while Bryton stood there shaking, completely out of thoughts due to the immense fear.

The dog smiled, with blood and flesh falling from his mouth. “Excuse me, I am a messy eater. Not as messy as you are, however. Well, at least that’s what he, the Man in the Red Zoot Suit, wants. Anyway, have you ever had the gratifying taste of arteries, sliding down your throat? Oh my, it is wonderful. This woman, whom of which I have gorged myself upon, is your friend? Tsk, pity, as if her life had some meaning to it. She only spent her life robbing homes, murdering people, and snorting every ounce of cocaine in existence (Alas, I am just exaggerating). This all wouldn’t have happened if any of you thieves were up to this. Well then, I do believe it is your turn to die, being the ‘sole survivor of the Cranston house,’ that is. Now, I’m going to open wide and you will focus only on the pain that will be delivered unto you, as I crush every single pitiful bone in your body, with my sharp teeth.”

The vicious dog growled with determination, causing Bryton to start running, and started chasing after.  Bryton was running in complete darkness. It was far too dark for his own flashlight to lead the way. The disturbing sound of barking and growling rang in Bryton’s ears, as if the vicious talking dog had carried a microphone with him. This is it. I’m going to die, here. I’m going to die in nothing but blackness. I’m going to be eaten alive. Mom. Mom! I want my Mom! I’m sorry! I’m sorry for everything. All the people I’ve hurt, all the people I’ve killed! Please, God, please help me! The flesh-eating dog jumped on Bryton and took a bite out of his shoulder, blood oozing and ejecting. Bryton screamed in pain, almost crying. Please, God no! Not like this! AGGGHH!!  He screamed as loud as he possibly could, until he found that he was no longer in eternal blackness. Instead, he was sitting at the kitchen table with the Man in the Red Zoot Suit, his two daughters, and his wife. They all stared at him, with expressions of anger. It was silent in the house and Bryton couldn’t say a word, let alone scream. He shook in fear, as he clutched his shoulder, where blood was oozing everywhere. Bryton also noticed that the large, covered silver platter was still displayed on the table. The Man in the Red Zoot Suit, his face full of disgust, took out a bottle of bourbon and poured himself a glass. He downed the entire beverage, looking at Bryton.

“Sweetie,” the Man’s wife said softly, “He’s getting blood all over the floor.”

He immediately silenced her, by putting his middle finger on his lips. “Then have Sparky take care of it! Damn dog.” The Man in the Red Zoot Suit poured himself another glass, drank it all and started chugging the entire bottle of bourbon. He stopped and offered some to Bryton. He stared at him, shaking in fear, pain, and trauma. “Of course you don’t want any bourbon. You’re being a big cry baby. It’s not my fault that you can’t accept your fate! There was Jasper Frederick Houte, or what you group of pathetic morsels call, Zap. Wanted for several counts of rape, three first degree murders, and many counts of breaking and entering. Then there was Kimberly Oliver Prant, or The Noodle, who was held accountable for countless amounts of fraud and the killings of several homeless people. Then, there was your Laura Tiana Fillmore, killed her ex-husband, after he committed adultery and robbing houses. Then, Retterick Ethan Erickson, known for the most notorious bank robber in the southwest. Then, there’s you Bryton Matthew Pear, the one I HATE THE MOST!” The Man in the Red Zoot Suit screamed angrily and threw the bottle of bourbon against the wall, shattering it into pieces. Bryton hadn’t noticed it before, but the rest of the family had vanished. It was now just him and the Man.

“DO YOU KNOW WHY I HATE YOU SO DAMN MUCH?!” the Man in the Red Zoot Suit yelled. Bryton started crying, once more. He just wanted to die already. The Man calmed down a bit. “’Cause you had to be a pussy and realize of how horrid your soul was. It would’ve been nice to have a soul, like yours. All rotten and useless. Then you had to go and FIX IT! You and your ‘Oh God, help me please’ nonsense. Urg!”

The Man in the Red Zoot Suit pounded his fist onto the table and literally pulled his hair out. It was quiet, once again. Bryton was sure he was going to die, whether he tried to escape, once more, or not. He began to get dizzy, due to his loss of blood from the severe dog bite. He finally spoke, for the first time since he last talked to Ret. He had no idea where he was, but he assumed that he was dead (Well then, I do believe it is your turn to die, being the ‘sole survivor of the Cranston house,’ that is.)

“W…what do you want?”

The Man laughed and replied with a sassy attitude and took the lid off the silver platter. There revealed Rett’s decapitated head. Bryton didn’t react to it, for he had seen too much. The Man laughed manically as he took Rett’s head and drop-kicked it across the room, slamming against the wall, leaving a big spatter of blood. “Did you not just listen to me yell at you, you insignificant cow?! I don’t want shit! I’m done. Leave. I want you to leave, please. Unless you kill someone, rape someone, or steal a pack of gum. LEAVE MY HOUSE NOW!” The Man crushed the kitchen table with is fist, lifted Bryton from the seat, by his collar, took him out the front door and threw Bryton out onto the front lawn. He coughed in pain, after he hit the ground. The Man in the Red Zoot Suit stood there at the front entrance and snapped his fingers. The Grand Cranston house immediately caught fire, illuminating the entire area between Bryton and Rett’s van, which was still parked at the curb. The flames engulfed the Man in a casual manner and he was gone, only leaving Bryton with a massive house on fire. Bryton weakly got up on his feet, made his way to the red van, and drove far away from the sight.

Old man Bryton sat in his chair, staring at the window, with nurse Heather sitting next to him.

“My,” Heather said, “you have quite an imagination, Mr. Pear.”

“Thought you would say that,” Bryton replied, with an unsatisfied chuckle. “After I left the Cranston house I turned myself in, for everything I did before I decided to walk into that house of Hell. Thank you, nurse, I think it was time for me to tell my story. At least before I… moved on.”

Heather laughed. “Oh, Pear, you will be here for another long while. You’re the healthiest out of all our residents, here. I doubt you will be gone anytime soon. Who am I going to share stories with when that happens, then?” She turned around and looked at Bryton’s alarm clock. “Oh, wow, it’s past your bedtime, Bryton. Want me to help you into bed?”

Bryton sighed deeply. “No thanks, nurse, I can handle it. May I sit here and watch the window for a few more minutes?”

Heather sighed, taking another glance at the clock. “I suppose another five minutes won’t hurt. Thank you for the story, Mr. Pear, it was quite interesting. Five minutes. I’ll be checking up on you.”

Nurse Heather left Bryton’s room and quietly shut his door. The old man rolled up his sleeve to his shoulder, revealing a disturbing scar. Every time he would see it, he would shiver and yet he thought of it as a symbol. A symbol of survival, a symbol of repent. Within the next morning, Bryton was announced dead, due to uncertain circumstances. Old age seemed to be the only explanation. After Bryton had left the Grand Cranston house, the events that occurred in that house forever changed his life. Who knows what Bryton has entered into this time? However, he knew that this “new door” would not lead him into a room of blackness. 

End.

By Jacob Arasim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4/26/14

Hello everybody, welcome back to Common Culture! Today I want to talk about a sensitive topic—the growing issue of body shaming in the media. The idea for this blog came from an article I read.

If you didn’t read it, the gist of it is that model Cassi Van Den Dungen has had comments made in the past about the seemingly unhealthiness and thinness of her frame, to which she responded with a few Instagram comments saying, “Why are you allowed to love your ‘curves’ but it’s wrong for me to love my ‘bones’? Why is it OK for you to call me anorexic, but horrible for me to call you fat?”

As a naturally skinny girl for the whole of my life, I know what it’s like to have people say, “I hate you. How do you just look like that? How do you eat whatever you want?” I know what it’s like to feel guilty for the metabolism you were naturally given. I know what it’s like to have doctors question how much you’re eating or to imply they know about the eating disorder you’ve obviously got. And I certainly know what it’s like seeing pictures of girls who look just like me on the Internet with captions like, “This isn’t REAL BEAUTY” at the bottom.

In a time where media is so often used to stress what the perfect life is like—the perfect clothes and hair and body—we are all caught between what we are and what we’re supposed to be. As we’ve all been told a million times, these magazines and TV shows and celebrities shouldn’t set any standard for what we’re supposed to look like. But the truth is, they often do. External forces are always pushing against us, and unless you’ve found some way to live inside a bubble, you feel it.

The unfortunate truth is that somewhere along the line, “Skinny is the look” became the mantra of those external forces. Somewhere along the line, the body I was naturally given became the societal goal for beauty. And because that somehow happened, it changed the way I am seen by others and the way I should be able to act according to their standards. It took away my right to have my own judgments on my body because others didn’t think I deserved to complain. It took away my right to be a human with her own issues to conquer and made me an object people can observe and give opinions on: “Look at you! You’re so skinny. I wish I looked like you.” These are judgments under the guise of compliments. And sometimes, it was more than that: “You’re sick. Eat more. You’re ugly; skeletal; bones.”

And suddenly I am right with everyone else—uncomfortable in my own skin, looked at as other than human, feeling objectified and criticized, determined to work on something to fit in better with what I’m supposed to be. Suddenly I’m in the same boat as anyone overweight, anyone average, and certainly with others my size. And let me be clear: I don’t, by any means, think I am perfect. My small frame may be something others wish they had, but I am not perfectly happy with it. I don’t look at myself and feel like those girls in magazines. I am just trying to love myself, much like I’m sure Cassi Van Den Dungen is in spite of continuous comments on her weight.

That’s the point that people seem to miss. No matter the “ideal body” of any given time, everyone is insecure about certain facets of themselves. We are all (or should be) working not to become what we are supposed to, but to be able to look in the mirror and love ourselves. That is what I believe in. I don’t care what you look like, and I try every day to pay less attention to what magazines are telling me I should value in myself and others.

So, in response to Cassi Van Den Dungen’s posts, I don’t think anyone has a right to comment on anyone else’s bodies. Calling a skinny person skinny can be just as harmful as calling a fat person fat. We all have mirrors. We all know what we look like and what we’re “supposed” to look like. And we’re all battling something. So why do we label? Separate the “attractive” from the “not attractive?” Those are just made up ideals that don’t matter, so why do we make it harder on each other to move past them? And why do we feel we have a right to say anything?

People do this under the guise of “concern.” They criticize others, calling them “unhealthy,” which is true in some cases. But for the majority of us, who are not in dire circumstances, we are not on the verge of death. And, therefore, our bodies are no one else’s business but our own. It’s no one’s job to tell us we’re fat or we’re thin, or we should eat less or work out more or take some vitamins or gain weight. What they should tell us is, “You’re normal. We all look different; we’re all born into different genetic situations. That’s OK. That’s life. And you know what? Whatever situation you’re born into, or that you choose to live with, I love you for it. I love your fat; I love your bones; I love you and I want you to love yourself.” That is the best way to inspire self-love in your friends and in your family. That’s something you need to tell yourself every day.

I think it’s time we just stopped talking about others’ bodies. Stop making it our business; stop valuing it as something that defines a person. Stop commenting on every single thing we see, whether or not it is ours to judge. Because we’re all fighting this battle to overcome the ridiculous expectations our world sets up for us—the least we can do for each other is create a supportive, judgment-free environment to try and do so.

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4/25/2014

 

Hi everybody and welcome back to Common Culture! The school year is winding down and I know we’re all running out of steam. My advice for beating the end of school blues is as follows: 1. Spend a lot of time working on schoolwork. 2. Spend an equal amount of time not working on schoolwork. Half and half it; it’s always worked for me. And if you’re in need of a way to fill your lazy half, I’ve got your back with this blog post, which will detail one of my favorite procrastination materials: “Orange is the New Black.” I watched the show last year and haven’t been able to get it off my mind. Luckily, the trailer for Season 2 has finally been released (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e99SkdcB2UU) and the show is looking at a season premiere on June 6.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to finish this blog, then move on to Netflix to watch the show, and then to Google to read as many OitNB posts you can find. This show is a must see for anybody. It follows Piper, a woman who goes to jail after assisting her ex-girlfriend Alex in a drug-smuggling attempt. We watch Piper try to navigate prison and met all of her diverse inmate pals along the way. It is hilarious, emotional and so, so good. A little heads up—this show does feature quite a bit of crude language and material, so beware. Don’t watch it with little ones or your parents. Please. Just don’t do it.

As an attempt to convince those of you who haven’t been wise enough to watch the show already, here are my ten reasons why you need to go fire up Netflix and start catching up immediately.

1.      1. The cast is very diverse. This show has such a wonderful mix of characters. It’s almost entirely made up of women, which is so lovely to see! In a world where women roles are mostly reduced to two-dimensional love interests or a hot toss-in, covered in leather for the sole purpose of pleasing men, OitNB does a wonderful job of utilizing as many women as they can, while making them all fully fleshed out people with their own wants and dreams and desires! On top of this, there are so many different races, gender identities and orientations, ages, religions and personal backgrounds represented with these characters. It’s such a melting pot of people—almost like real life! Weird! I love seeing the differences in these people being celebrated and acknowledged.

2.      2. It’s an interesting look into the lives of inmates. I’ve heard people serving sentences in jail being referred to as “the scum of the earth,” “those pedophiles and perverts” and the like far too many times. The unfortunate truth is, yes, those people do exist in jail, but other stories also must be told. OitNB doesn’t reduce all of its characters to “bad people.” It asks us to see them as human beings and question why they did what they did, and what brought them to where they are. So many of these characters are people we grow to love and understand and empathize with. I love that OitNB doesn’t take the standard perspective on these jailed women but wants us to ask ourselves what we would do in their shoes. We’re all human after all, right?

3.     3. Laura Prepon. My personal favorite point on this list. You may remember Laura Prepon as sweet Donna on “That 70’s Show,” but Donna is not who you will meet if you tune into OitNB. Instead, you’ll be introduced to Alex, a rockabilly chick with an interest in drug smuggling. She’s serving out a prison sentence with her ex-girlfriend, Piper, and… well, let’s just say, they aren’t “exes” for very long. Alex is my absolute favorite character on this show. Laura Prepon is badass, hilarious and so great in her role.

4.      4. Laura Prepon’s eyebrows. They’re so well shaped.

5.      5. Laura Prepon’s glasses. They’re very hip.

6.      6. Laura Prepon’s voice. It’s sort of gravelly. Very nice.

7.      7. Laura Prepon’s face. This one’s self-explanatory.

Need I go on? I think I’ve got my point across.

8.      8. The show is hilarious. I cannot even count the number of times I have cracked up laughing, watching this show. Highlights include Crazy Eyes’s line, “I threw my pie for you!” Or maybe her peeing on the floor in front of Piper’s bed. Or Taystee and Poussey’s banter. Or Red wanting to eat the strongest chicken and absorb its power. This show is full of one-liners that will have tears soaking your laptop, I promise you.

 

9.    9. The show is emotional. On the other side of the spectrum, this show will break your heart. You will begin to care about all of these characters and then you will watch them get squashed under corrupt prison practices, societal pressures, or just the ghosts of their past decisions. The odds are against these women and watching them try, over and over, to beat them and rise up is moving and poignant.

10  10. The show is addicting. Need a break from studying? Need something new to love? Need a way to spend a day? I promise you, once you start this show, you won’t be able to stop. We all need some “me” time every once and awhile, and if you’re the type of person who loves to binge watch TV shows, this is the show for you.

Season 1 is up on Netflix now, and Season 2 will be out June 6. I encourage you all to watch! You won’t be disappointed!

Jake’s movie clip of the day: http://youtu.be/AgbFDvvVr0w

Jake’s song of the day: http://youtu.be/Y2wkR-jBpuo

Ahh, the 80s. It’s a decade I truly wish I was a part of. Boom boxes, parachute pants, big earrings, crazy hair, classic rock, the Walkman, cassette tapes, and classic movies that I will remember for a lifetime, were all a part of this era in time. If someone were to ask me what decade I would visit, my answer would easily be… the 80s. In my previous movie review, I mentioned that I chose to review the movie Super over an 80s classic. Because I’ve seen this movie so much, I decided to do the Super movie review, first. SO! Here goes it.

             10841913_det   The 80s consisted of many great trends, including awesome music, video games, and especially movies. Many of these movies were comedic, starring iconic and goofy teenagers of the time. Movies like The Goonies, Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, all play a huge part of the classic “80s movie franchise.” One movie in particular, however, I feel was left in the dust once it had its theatrical release. Like every other teenager movie, Better Off Dead happened to be one of them. This movie was directed by none other than Steve Holland, a famous Nickelodeon director, in the year 1985. Better Off Dead was Holland’s first directed movie and when it released in 1985, the movie really bit the dust compared to its main competitors. So many classic movies were being released in 1985 (Like Ferris Bueller, Back to the Future, and even St. Elmo’s Fire), so it’s no surprise that Better Off Dead was one of the movies left below the popularity line.

                Compared with Back to the Future, Holland’s first movie only raised over five-thousand dollars over its opening weekend… nationwide. As for Back to the Future, that damn good movie made over eleven-million on its opening weekend. The total gross for Better Off Dead was only over ten-million! DAMN! The movie isn’t awful at all, it’s just as awesome as every other 80s movie. And I’m a about to prove why this is so.

The movie stars actor John Cusack (Say Anything, Sixteen Candles), one of my most favorite actors of all time, as a typical teenager who is seriously obsessed with his girlfriend, Beth (Amanda Wyss, A Nightmare on Elm Street). We first see Lane Meyer’s room (Cusack) in the opening credits, which is completely covered with pictures of his girlfriend. This is a major exaggeration of typical relationship obsession. However, correct me if I’m wrong. As the movie progresses, Lane attempts to try out for the high school ski team, but fails. Not only that happens, but Lane’s girlfriend Beth breaks up with him for an athletic jerk-head, by the name of Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier, Revenge of the Nerds). Roy, being the captain of the ski team, is a complete tool, with long blonde hair, and a most cocky attitude. He’s a prime demonstration of a high school jock and every time you see him, you just want to punch him in the face.

Alone and depressed, Lane goes through a suicidal phase, which makes the movie seem a little dark. After his emotional break-up, we get to know Lane’s family. His mother is happy-go-lucky, a little psycho, and a horrible cook. There’s a scene in the movie where she boils bacon. Gross! Lane’s dad is strict and is seen as a parent who is trying to catch up with the current generation. Lane’s little brother is a boy-genius who can build a laser rifle, as well as a rocket ship.

01

Throughout the movie’s entirety, other than the fact that Lane constantly tries to win his girlfriend back, he also experiences some other wild events. Events like being constantly chased by a paper boy, attempting to ski a dangerous hill, working at a fast-food restaurant, repairing a broken-down Camaro, meeting a pretty foreign exchange student, dealing with his drug-influenced friend, and realizing that his best fortune was lying in front of him all along.

Better Off Dead is a great movie classic that was over-shadowed by its other movie competitors. In all honesty, I believe this movie is much better than most 80s movies. It’s so surprising that it didn’t get the recognition it deserved, with all of its comedic references, hilarious acting, and good storyline. This movie happens to be one of my favorite movies, but I am not going to rate it based on my biased thoughts. If you ever get the chance to watch this movie, I would highly recommend in doing so. In conclusion, this movie deserves four popcorn kernels out of five.

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4/20/14

Hello everybody, and welcome back to Common Culture. Today’s blog post is going to stray from pop culture a bit and go straight at “culture.” Theatre, particularly. As a theatre major, I am always interested in theatre’s place in modern culture and how it’s growing and progressing. And, in my opinion, the technological age has not been kind to this art form.

In theory, it makes sense that theatre may seem less accessible to people. We live in an age where communication with others is a click or tap away; entertainment, too. Everything we could need is essentially available within the walls of our rooms, provided we have a phone, a charger and a bucket to pee in. If we truly wanted to, we could lock ourselves in, have food delivered to our doors, watch movies all day forever and die after years of glassy-eyed screen tapping; we could.

However, I don’t think anyone wants to live that way. No sane person objects to a good night of entertainment, of connection, of communication, and of involvement every once in a while. And theatre offers all of those things. For the price of a ticket, an audience member can connect with a bunch of other strangers for one unique experience, happening only once ever, that only this one particular group people can live through. And after an hour and a half of laughs or tears, you leave the theatre and consider what you watched. You think about what was said. You think of how it applies to you. And for that glorious ten or fifteen or twenty minute drive home, you feel like you can rule the world. You feel like you can take that post-theatre-high to bed with you and wake up the next morning a better person. And in my opinion, you can. I’ve been made a better person plenty of times in my life after every play or musical I’ve ever seen. There’s something about the raw, live energy of a play that gets into your heart and makes living seem a little less hard for a while.

You can’t get that from a movie, or Facebook, or homework, or a nap. Not that those things aren’t important or valid or perfectly fine, but there’s a reason we’ve been doing theatre for centuries upon centuries. Because sometimes we need to get out and we need to feel something.

The theatre people who put these shows together know this. They know this and believe in this so wholeheartedly that they dedicate their lives – their time, their energy, their effort—into putting these shows up months before you even know they’ll be running. The night you come into the theatre, the actors and crew around you have been rehearsing for this very moment for months, slaving and working and crying and pounding our heads against a wall. For you. For the hour or two of straight emotion we hope you feel.

The thing is, if we don’t have an audience, there’s no experience. There’s no payoff. While many of you may work for months on a paper and feel that satisfaction when you receive a good grade; we wait for you to walk into our world and experience what we painstakingly set up for you. This is our test. This is our term paper. This is our presentation. This is what we’ve got. And all we want is to share it.

I promise you that you will lose nothing by taking some time out of your life to see some live theatre. It will make you better, make you smarter. It will make you more cultured and more open. Only good things come from seeing plays, and only you coming to see plays allow us to make more.

So please—if you’ve got a free night and a few bucks to spare, grab a friend or a date and catch a play. Boise has plays going on all the time, put on by extremely dedicated and talented people. The Boise State Theatre Department and the Theatre Majors’ Association are also always ready to share our stories with you. I encourage you to take us up on the offer and come with us on a ride soon.

Jake’s movie clip of the day: http://youtu.be/pFriRcIwqNU

Jake’s song of the day: http://youtu.be/jWkMhCLkVOg

Warning: This post contains spoilers!!

Shut up, crime! “Super,” the movie review, is here! Before I started writing my latest movie review, I was going to focus on an 80s classic, but that’s going to have to come later, because “Super” seems to have caught my attention. The movie was filmed in the year 2010, released in April 2011. This was around the same time the first “Kick-Ass” movie hit the box-office. Being another superhero movie similar to “Kick-Ass,” “Super” was trapped in its casted shadow. Even when it was in theaters.

I’ve seen trailers of “Super,” before, and ever since I was a sophomore in high school, I’ve been meaning to go watch it. After I saw “Kick-Ass,” I was very curious as to what “Super” had to offer. The movie stars Rainn Wilson (From TV’s “The Office”), as a troubled middle-aged man who realizes that his true destiny was to fight crime, as a superhero. Judging from the previews and the fact that Rainn Wilson was cast as an anti-hero, like Aaron Taylor-Johnson in “Kick-Ass,” I obviously expected something along the lines of something utterly hilarious and full of awesome action. I thought, “This looks really goofy. I want to watch it!”

Super also stars several familiar actors, like Ellen Page (“Juno”), Kevin Bacon (“Footloose,” 1984), Liv Tyler (“Armageddon”), Nathan Fillion (TV’s “Castle”), and even Michael Rooker (TV’s “The Walking Dead”). Not only that, the movie was directed by James Gunn, the director of the raunchy horror film, “Slither.” You got to admit, it sounds like a great movie. However, despite the fact that the movie sounded worth watching, I was honestly dumbfounded after eventually watching it, three years after its theatrical release. “Super” IS NOT the movie you think it is! It does fall under the comedy and action/adventure genre, but it also falls under the “What The Hell Was That” genre. I’m dead serious.

“Super”  begins as a regular movie, with a soft beginning, where you get to know the main characters a little bit and know about their story. Rainn Wilson’s character, Frank Darbo, is a happy middle-aged man who is now content with his life. After marrying his wife, Sarah Darbo (Tyler), Frank has been able to move on from his life full of rejection and heartbreak. Everything is going great, until Sarah is ultimately victimized by a local drug lord, by the name of Jacque (Bacon), and ends up leaving Frank. As soon as Frank discovers this, he makes a desperate attempt to get his wife sober and out of the clutches of his new arch-nemesis. He fails. Frank is now heart-broken and rejected, once again. As the story continues to be awkwardly hilarious, and yet depressing, Frank discovers something he never thought he would. After watching a Christian Church program on the television, starring a religious figure known as The Holy Avenger, Frank receives a message from God Himself and realizes that his true purpose in life is to fight crime. After doing some research in libraries and comic books, about what it takes to be a superhero, Frank Darbo achieves a new identity known as The Crimson Bolt. The movie slowly transitions to not only a superhero comedy, but an extremely dark one.

super-rainn-wilson   When I was about 30 minutes into watching this film, I was quite convinced I was watching something completely unexpected, if not a different movie. The Crimson Bolt does not show any mercy when criminals fall, victimized to his wrath. If someone were to sell drugs, steal someone’s purse, or molest little children, The Crimson Bolt is there to beat them senseless with a pipe wrench. A f***ing pipe wrench. A pipe wrench is a tool used for plumbing services, it can weigh up to twenty pounds, and it is frequently used as a murder weapon. Can you imagine a masked stranger running at you with a PIPE WRENCH, gripped tight in his hand, about to beat you senseless with it?! That’s how the movie gets dark: Frank Darbo beating bad guys with a pipe wrench. At least they’re criminals and they deserve these punishments, right?

Well, when Frank is finally discovered by the media as The Crimson Bolt, he becomes a wanted man, rather than a superhero. Frank, however, does not give a damn. As long as criminals are getting what’s theirs, he believed he was always doing the right thing. You begin to see Frank’s character dramatically change from a normal human being, to a complete psychopath. At least that’s what I thought, at one point.

There’s one scene that’s so disturbing, that I couldn’t believe what the hell I was watching. The scene starts off when Frank is waiting in line, to see a movie, and a random gentleman cuts in line to meet a random woman. So, what does Frank do? He goes to his car, changes in his Crimson Bolt costume and splits the man’s head open, with the pipe wrench. Crimson Bolt not only beats the man for cutting in line, he also obstructs the woman for helping the man cut in line, in the first place! Damn!

 

super1          Anyway, earlier in the movie, Frank meets a comic book store clerk by the name of Libby (Page) and she eventually becomes Frank’s kid side-kick, Boltie. First off, let me say that I have a major crush on Ellen Page and I will flaunt and woo over her, at every chance I get. In the movie, we see Libby as a really chill comic book girl, who knows everything about superheroes. However, by the time Libby becomes Frank’s sidekick, we then see Libby as a psychopath also. Of course Frank is psycho also, but that’s for a good cause (if that makes sense). Libby, however, ends up attempting murder on someone who simply keyed her friend’s car.

Remember when I said that the movie gets super messed-up, after Frank starts beating people with a pipe wrench? Well, it gets worse, once Libby becomes Boltie.

            As the movie continues, Frank and Libby make a determined choice to not only fight evil, but to save Frank’s wife from the clutches of Jacque, the drug lord. With the lack of super hero abilities and fighting experiences, do you think Frank and Libby got what it takes? I’m not going to toss any spoilers out, so you’re just going to have to find out yourself.

“Super” is most definitely a movie that anyone would expect to be a goofy, rated “R” movie with coarse language, non-stop action, and hilarious jokes throughout. What most audiences, like me, won’t expect is that the movie has so much dark material, it’s almost indescribable. If you don’t believe me and think I’m just over-exaggerating, then watch the movie yourself and see what you’re really missing out on. At first, I thought that this movie was a psycho roller coaster that I never expected to have loopy-loops. It’s exactly like that, but the movie itself portrays a compelling message that I never thought would be embedded in this crazy movie. It portrays the message of “expecting the unexpected.”

rainn wilson super

             This may sound obvious, but the message also comes along with the emphasis of the fact that anyone will have a plan in their lives. A plan that will either change their lives, as well as many others’ lives, in the best way possible. As ironic as that sounds, the movie seems to prove that to be true, even with all the brutal violence, depressing sequences, and some of the most unnecessary events. Where I’m getting at is that this movie teaches you important life lessons, in the most messed-up ways possible. And honestly, it’s awesome! Never have I seen a movie with so much balls! At first glance, you may think that the movie is weird and crazy, but give it a second chance and I doubt you won’t realize how unique and cool it really is.

James Gunn’s movie didn’t get as good of ratings as I had hoped for it to be. It got 6.8/10 on IMDB and a rating of 4.9/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. In all honesty, “Super” deserved more than that. An 8/10 at least! Despite all of the messed-up material, “Super” does live up to its  name, with an awesome soundtrack, great acting, great action sequences, and of course great directing. So, when you get the chance, check out this movie. It’s a lot more “Super” than it appears. In conclusion, this movie deserves 4 out of 5 popcorn kernels. This movie is kick-ass. 

download (1)download (1)download (1)download (1)dark popcorn

 

 

Rating: 4/5 Popcorn kernels

 

 

4/11/2014

Hello everybody, welcome back to Common Culture! Today I want to talk about Shia LaBeouf. Most of the Shia-related buzz died away around February, but I still can’t get Shia LaBeouf off my mind. When I wake up, I think of Shia LaBeouf. Before I go to sleep, I think of Shia LaBeouf. As I dream, I think of Shia LaBeouf.

Okay, not really. But the truth is this guy is so interesting to me. So this blog will be a sort of rudimentary overview, psychoanalysis, and praise-fest of Shia LaBeouf. Get ready.

Firstly, Shia was a Disney Channel star. As a person who grew up on Disney, I am a fan of anyone who has ever been on Disney usually, no matter where they end up. We grew up together, so I support them. I know how hard it is to be a kid and a teen, and it can’t be easy to do that in the spotlight.

My true love for Shia LaBeouf didn’t even really start when he was on Disney Channel, however, and it wasn’t during his Transformers-sort-of-real-celebrity time either. My love for Shia truly started after he started to slide back down toward obscurity, because that’s when he started to do the really weird stuff.

For example, here is a really interesting music video that Shia acted in: http://vimeo.com/45185028. It is surprisingly beautiful and artistic, and shows off a lot of Shia’s hidden acting chops. He started getting into arty things like this for a while, and that was a golden time, and then … the breakdown of Shia.

It all started with a plagiarism fiasco involving Shia trying to artistically build off another artist’s work without properly crediting them. Instead of really apologizing, Shia was sort of a jerk about it and danced around it. This made a lot of people angry. In response to people being angry, Shia acted sort of like the world was being mean to him and threw a really artsy temper tantrum.

First, Shia began acting really strangely in public. He wore a bag over his head at a movie premiere that said, “I am not famous anymore.” He seemed to be obviously in some altered state of mind at a press conference, at which he left immediately after the first question, which he answered in a bizarre obscure movie quote from the 1995 movie “Looking for Eric.” He tweeted for a month straight, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” and “I AM SORRY.” He dropped out of all of his planned movie roles. He started skywriting messages over LA.

And that is not my favorite Shia stunt so far. In February, Shia opened his own art installation in LA. He allowed people, one at a time, to enter a room where he sat behind a table with the “I am not famous anymore” bag on his head and he stared at them. Just stared at them. A lot of people cited the performance art piece as quite a moving experience, where oftentimes, Shia and the person emotionally connected. A lot of tears were shed. It was a very touching and peculiar experience.

A lot of questions have been asked of why Shia is doing all this. Some say Shia just feels really bad about the plagiarism issue and wanted to show that he felt guilty and apologetic, and even went so far as to apologize face-to-face with people. However, I am more of the opinion that Shia didn’t like all the heat he was getting for it and so he decided, “Hey, you want me to apologize? I’ll apologize. I’ll apologize so much and so ridiculously that you won’t even remember the plagiarism thing.” And to be honest, I think it worked. There might be some backlash about how Shia is acting childish—he did something bad and is going about dealing with the consequences entirely wrong. However, I don’t really care. What I do care about is what he’s going to do next. I think it’s entirely interesting. I can’t remember the last time a celebrity opened a face-to-face art installation where they cried in front of tons of people, one at a time.

There’s the possibility that Shia has grown up and is opening himself up to different forms of art and expression. If that’s it, I am a fan and can’t wait to see what his next move is. However, there’s also the possibility that the public shaming has really got to Shia, not to mention growing up in the spotlight, the years of working in the industry like an adult, or the pressure of being at the forefront of media. There is speculation that Shia is in the midst of a nervous breakdown and all of these weird behaviors are further signs of his mental instability. Different pop culture sites declare that whenever he’s been seen in public, Shia appears to be in various states of not good.

If this is the case, I am worried for him. I would never want to watch him dance like a monkey through some sort of personal crisis. If he is unwell, I certainly hope he gets the help he needs and can stabilize himself. However, I have a feeling Shia is just the kind of guy who gives the people exactly what they don’t want and keeps them on their toes. And that’s the kind of celebrity I want to watch.

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4/7/2014

Hello everyone and welcome back to Common Culture. Today I want to talk about this James Franco thing. I’m calling it a “thing” because I don’t really know what else to call it.

If you haven’t heard, here’s the lowdown: James Franco met a seventeen-year-old girl from Scotland named Lucy Clode after a performance of his Broadway play, Of Mice and Men, in New York; after she tagged him in a video from the performance, they began to communicate on Instagram. This moved to some flirtatious text messaging, where Franco tried to meet up with Lucy. She eventually declined his requests and then put the evidence online.

When I Googled the situation, I saw a lot of stuff I did not like. Mostly things like “Female Fan Puts Franco on Blast! Not cool!” or “Young Girl Desperate for Fame Flirts with James Franco for Attention!” One of the articles I read asks why she even bothered to flirt with him at all? Obviously she is looking for her fifteen seconds of stardom, stupid girl!

And I am here to say – this is ridiculousness. Another absurd circumstance of victim-blaming in which a teenager is called names for not actually doing anything at all with a grown man who happens to be James Franco.

All of these articles make it sound like Lucy is desperate to get her name into magazines and so she threw James Franco under the bus! Firstly, James Franco deserved to get thrown under the bus for this one. And it’s not even that she threw him under it, it’s that he threw himself under it and then let her take pictures. He is a very prominent 35-year-old man. You don’t go around asking teenagers to hook-up with you through Instagram! You just don’t! You’d think that’s common sense. When asked about the situation, Franco laughed it off and claimed he’s old and doesn’t understand social media; when a meme about how Franco is into teenage girls appeared, he just responded with “I am not!” This is weak. You are weak, James Franco. There is some sort of belief among celebrities that they can do whatever they want and laugh it off, but this should not be one of those situations. Thankfully, during his appearance on Live with Kelly and Michael, James apologized and admitted he used bad judgment. On the path to redemption, buddy.

Secondly, I don’t know about you guys, but if James Franco tried to hook up with me, I would probably want to tell someone. This is not a fifteen seconds of fame situation. This is a James-Franco-wants-to-hook-up-with-me situation, and that definitely warrants the right to tell someone – first and foremost because you interacted with a celebrity, which is cool, but secondly, because he is trying to do something uncool, and that is also worth mentioning.

So no, I don’t think that the derogatory articles about Lucy Clode are fair. Victim-blaming is wrong always, and calling out a seventeen-year-old for making the right decision to not hook-up with a grown man is not the proper way to respond. I think she was right to come forward with what happened because that is something people should know about the man they are worshiping. Not all celebrities are angels, and it seems James Franco is just another to reveal some weird inner part of their personality we never needed, or wanted, to know.

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4/7/2014

Hello all and welcome back to Common Culture! I hope I find you well and healthy and happy. Speaking of happiness, my topic today is about that very thing. Well, not happiness exactly, but close to it – glee!

That’s right. To all of you who hate Glee and don’t want to hear about it, now is your cue to leave. Or stay – this blog may interest you because it is not going to be a Glee-Praise-a-Thon. As a Glee watcher since its premiere in 2009, I do always try to look on the positive side of its decisions, but on the other hand, as a student studying dramatic writing and hoping one day to write for TV and movies, I can’t ignore its bad choices. So I will stand in the middle and hopefully try to uncover exactly what went wrong.

Season 1 is Glee’s shining moment. The show burst onto the scene with a weird concept that no one expected to succeed: a musical comedy about a bunch of underdog high schoolers in a glee club. Musical TV shows had been tried before, and they hadn’t done well. Yet, for some reason, Glee did. Maybe it was its cast of talented unknowns, or its snarky dark humor, or its earnest and heartwarming story that we could all relate to – one about a bunch of kids just trying to find their way in the world. Despite the fact that it was often cheesy or that people randomly breaking into song and dance is just hard to get on board with, Glee’s moral that even the underdogs can be winners helped the show become a winner. The previously unknown stars of the show became household names, music and merchandise from the show was selling like crazy, and Glee was just about the coolest show on TV.

Then came Season 2 – the season where we started to see traces of what Glee would become deep inside the guise of a mostly decent season. The usual plot lines filled this season: Sue tried to end the glee club, the students tried to navigate the complicated high school hierarchy, and all of the characters dealt with bullying, sex, religion, drinking and other relevant social issues. Important characters Sam and Blaine were introduced in this season and somehow they managed to avoid the axe the writers tend to bring down on many other new characters they write in. I’m not sure why they continue to introduce characters and then pull them out for no reason but more on that later. The important part is these are still the days when the writers were conscious of what they were doing. And for the most part, it did pretty well.

However, we do start to see weird things happening. My theory is that the writers got drunk off their unexpected success and got overconfident. They expected nothing from this show, got everything and decided that the world was their oyster. The show that was once filled with mash-ups and innovative covers of songs began to rely heavily on top forty’s. The famous guest stars began to pour in and the icky over-relevant-to-pop-culture plot lines came much more often. I mean, I cannot count the number of times Sam is referred to as “Justin Bieber” in this show just because his hair is sort of shaggy. It seems that the writers sort of lost track of what they were trying to achieve – a heartwarming, honest, quirky story – and got sort of stuck on “make money, be funny, and write a lot about Justin Bieber”.

And from here on, Glee totally loses its mind. I cannot even remember all of the things the writers have done that have confused or disappointed me in this show since it went haywire, but things I can remember are: having characters act completely out of character, forgetting facts and plot lines and just ignoring them like they never existed, writing something and then writing something else a week later because apparently they didn’t like what the wrote, consistently making their characters unlikable, writing most of the leads as caricatures of real people, making their characters behave poorly without ever feeling the consequences of those actions – need I go on. From a writing standpoint, Glee is a… how do I put it? A hot mess.

I don’t know what happened. It always makes me sad because Glee had such potential and such a fanbase. The only speculation I can really give is that the show was helmed by writers who did not know how to handle such pressure and expectations, and unfortunately, didn’t have enough knowledge of screenwriting to fall back on. I am still impressed that this show is being run by the same people, to be honest, because it literally just doesn’t make sense at times. It’s sort of tragic.

And now you’re thinking: “Wow. A blog about how Glee was great and now it sucks. That was pretty mean.” And I respond with, 1.) It wasn’t mean, it was critical. And 2.) I have more to say.

The truth is, though I think Glee’s writing is pretty crappy and I have hated watching characters I thought I knew turn into strangers at the hands of poor writers, I will always love Glee. Because one thing that the writers haven’t failed to do is retain the moral of the story, even if at times it seems to be fading. No matter what, in every episode of Glee, we are reminded that even the unpopular kids in school can live their dreams; that you can have the strength to do anything with good friends and family behind you; and that music can truly create bonds between the most diverse group of people. I grew up with these kids – I watched them go from nervous freshman to successful seniors to young adults out in the real world, recording albums and starring on Broadway and falling in love. Is it all realistic? No. But it’s TV. Maybe all the writers ever wanted was to allow kids like me, the theatre nerds who always felt a little weird in school, some sort of alternate world where it was the kids like us who succeeded and achieved their dreams. So even if I know it’s not real, even though I know no eighteen-year-old flies straight from Ohio into Broadway, I see myself in those kids. I see the drive and passion and the potential that I see in my own reflection. And that is why I continue to watch and support this show. I can acknowledge it for its mistakes and bad choices, but I can also keep my promise to see it through because of all it has done to inspire me to become one of those unrealistic impossible stories of success.

 

Daisies, daisies, daisies. Whether they love you or not, daises are already a major print this summer. Skirts, shirts, headbands, dresses, you name it, right now they will have it in daisies. This summer and daisy floral print will bring out your inner hippie/indie personality and give you that super cute feeing. So let that indie, peace sign-loving, inner flower child out and get ready to rock this summer with a few daisy pieces.

Jake’s song of the day:

I write about a lot of things, in case anyone didn’t know. I feel like it’s time I actually wrote about myself.

I know most people don’t like reading, at all. That’s OK; it’s completely understandable. However, I think reading is just as important having a discussion with someone, only that you’re the listener and the author is the storyteller. The real struggle, especially for me, since I’m an aspiring writer, is that there aren’t a lot of listeners.

I’m not forcing anyone to read; I’m not going to complain like a little whiny-butt; I just think it’s highly necessary that people know what it’s like when someone takes a certain interest, put most his whole life into it, and not get any recognition for it whatsoever. I’ve always had an interest in writing stories. What’s definitely odd about it is the fact that I never thought that, my ongoing interest for it, would last for well over 14 years. As a kid, I always wondered what it would be like to see my own imaginations come to life.

As I watched movies, such as Star Wars, I’ve always found it extremely appalling that his or hers imaginations have come to life. So much hard work was put into it and it astounded me. That’s what inspired me to become a writer, in the first place.

The challenge that I face most, when I’m writing, is not just Writers’ Block, but the lack of support, recognition, and the credit that I sincerely feel like I deserve. Not getting support from the people who I care about most really hurts, but the same excuse always follows:

“I don’t like reading.”

I get it.

Not a lot of people don’t like reading. A whole majority of the people I know absolutely despise it. The thing that bothers me the most is that none of them give my writings a chance, let alone a glimpse. I’ve been writing short stories for so many years of my life. I’ve also been writing for a local company, which grants me the wish I’ve always wanted: to be a published writer. It’s fun to write, but it’s not fun being the only one who knows what his writings are even about. Knowing that I’m the only one out of my friends, family, even at The Arbiter, to write short stories constantly, I still can’t help but feel like nobody cares. People write all the time, but writing is something that means very dear to me. I’m sure many others can relate.

However, I’ve realized, throughout my journey of writing, that I have to expect the unexpected. I will take this lacking of support and recognition and simply turn it into fuel, fuel to keep moving forward. This is the biggest challenge, in my writing, that I have ever faced and I will probably be facing it for the remaining years of my writing experiences. I’m going to keep writing, not matter what it takes, even when zero people put in the time to take a gander at my work.

This is a challenge, but I will never allow it to become a conflicting obstacle.

Furthermore, I would love to thank those who HAVE supported me. You have no idea how much it means to me. I sincerely thank you very much.

Best,

Jacob Arasim

Jake’s song of the day:

http://youtu.be/Q3T9ayhdgf8

Elizabeth Tip decided to attend college because she wanted to get a BA in psychology, as her boyfriend, Joshua Foster, decided to go to classes for engineering. Elizabeth was shorter than Joshua, with light-brown, extended hair. Joshua could never keep his eyes off of hers, for her eyes reminded him of the moonlight. As corny as Joshua was, his stature was much surpassing than that of Elizabeth’s. Elizabeth could look at his smile for hours, for his smile was simple paradise.  The lovely, corny couple have been dating for over five years, ever since they approached their sophomore year in high school.

They loved each other, dearly, and they believed that they had faced all the challenges any other relationship would face. Challenges such as time management, communication, fighting for their love, and the trusting bond that they both have with one another. Elizabeth and Joshua, throughout their five years of being together, have had their great moments and, of course, their not-so-great moments. However, they are both proud of themselves for being able to keep their commitment in a tight knot.

As their time together continued on, and when college came into the picture, Joshua knocked up Elizabeth. One night of unpreparedness led the two to have a baby girl, Marie. Shortly after their daughter’s birth, Elizabeth and Joshua moved into an apartment together for a fresh start. Joshua and Elizabeth, being in their early twenties, appreciated the fact that they’ve not only bonded as a wonderful couple that anyone would kill for, but they’ve bonded as a family.

Or so they think, of course.

With the two of them having jobs, college classes, and a six-month old baby girl, this family business was much tougher than they thought. Elizabeth and Joshua have been so busy that they’ve been unable to discuss it together. It was a typical Monday night when all of that changed.

Joshua sat on one side of the card table, eating his cheap TV dinner, as Elizabeth sat on the other side performing the same action. The apartment was quiet and calm, with the soothing sound of a record playing in the background.

“It’s actually quiet,” Joshua said with a smile, taking a bite of his chicken. “I think Marie is really liking the sweet sound of Frank Black.”

Elizabeth replied with a faint laugh, but seemed completely unsatisfied. “I suppose so.”

Joshua raised an eyebrow. “You OK? You’ve barely touched your supper.”

“You sound like my mother,” Elizabeth replied; she took a bite of her peas.

Joshua chortled. “Well, someone has to take care of you, right?” Elizabeth didn’t respond, but instead shrugged her shoulders, not looking at Joshua. “Aw, come on, Ellie-poop, what’s hurtin’ ya, if you catch my drift?”

“It’s not what you think,” Elizabeth said, “it’s just Monday, that’s all. Don’t worry about it.”

“Well, when you say something like that and be all vague with me, it’s usually a trap and that if I don’t tend to your care, I will regret it later.”

Elizabeth laughed. “You don’t know that, Josh.”

“We’ve been together for over five years, sweetheart. I know when my girl is upset. Now, what is it?”

Joshua reached across the card table, resting his hand on Elizabeth’s. She moved her hand away gently and set it on her thigh as she continued to eat. Joshua gasped, but responded in a sarcastic manner.

“Rejected?! By my lover? Oh, how can this be?! Well, I better put my hand, elsewhere, so I’m not too lonely.”

Joshua laughed at his unnecessary joke, as Elizabeth didn’t. He stopped immediately, after his position got awkward and ridiculous. It was quiet in the apartment, once again. Joshua looked at his food, as his lover picked at hers with the plastic fork. Joshua didn’t like this. Usually when Elizabeth was this silent, it meant that she was about to explode, like a time bomb. At this point, Joshua would have cheered Elizabeth right up about now. Then, he realized that this was serious. So, Joshua decided to take a different approach.

 joshua and elizabeth (2)

 

“We can go shopping, if that’ll make you feel better.” Joshua smiled, like a dim-witted school boy. Elizabeth took a bite of her peas.

“If that’s what you think will make me feel better, hon,” Elizabeth replied, “but I already went shopping and I don’t really need anything right now.”

Joshua laughed. “Oh! FALSE! Ellie, shopping is your favorite ‘sport.’ You always want something at the store. And I know it will cheer you up from whatever is troubling you!”

“Well, money can’t buy you out of this one, Josh.”

Joshua blinked, stunned. “Wait what? What do you mean?”

He hated not being able to look at Elizabeth in the eye. She was constantly avoiding eye-contact with him. She was extremely upset, but Joshua could sense a hint of guilt.

“Baby, please look at me.”

Elizabeth looked at him, straight in the eyes, with tears rolling down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry, Josh.”

Joshua looked down at his food, with a distressed grunt.

“Robert, huh? You better not be joking about this, Ellie!” He looked back at Elizabeth, stuttering. “You saw him, again?! This better be some sick April Fools’ joke, sweetie, because this ain’t funny!”

The Frank Black record continued to play, as Elizabeth sobbed and Joshua raising his voice. “I only met up with Robert for lunch, that’s it!”

“Bull!” Joshua yelled, causing Elizabeth to shush him to avoid waking up the baby. “Do you have any idea what that constant dill-hole almost did to us and our relationship? What you almost did?!”

Elizabeth fought back. “Josh, I swear to my dead mother, I only saw that constant dill-hole for lunch! He wanted to catch up, so I gave him the chance to meet up for lunch. That’s it! Nothing more! I know I should’ve told you earlier, but I know how much of a burden Robert is and I couldn’t help but keep quiet. I’m really sorry, Josh, but don’t you dare start blaming me for this as well.”

“Oh?!” Joshua chuckled, taking an aggressively ridiculous bite out of his chicken. “So, you’re saying what happened with you and Robert is my fault, also?! Oh, wow! This was three years ago, Ellie. Why is it coming back to us now?!”

“It’s not, Josh, because I couldn’t care less about Robert. But if you want to bring up the past, then yes, part of what happened between me and Robert was also your fault.” Elizabeth took a pea, from her dinner, and threw it at Joshua, hitting him in the forehead.

Joshua threw a piece of chicken at her, smacking her on the breast.

“How, Ellie?! How is it my fault?!”

“You hit me, Josh! That’s how!” Elizabeth threw the chicken right back at Joshua, which impacted his face.

Joshua ignored the chicken and stared at his girlfriend in silence. She had a stern look on her face, as his showed a surprised, yet shocked, expression. “I…I hit you?”

Elizabeth took a bite of her peas. “Yes. Yes you did. I don’t know if that’s your dementia kicking in, or you’re just full of crap, but yes, you hit me.”

“W-why would I hit you…? Ellie…”

Elizabeth looked at him with concern. “Babe, you don’t remember?”

Joshua shook his head, as he quietly began to sob. “Well, dammit! I figured it was something like that!”

“It’s your dementia,” Elizabeth replied. “Did you take your medication?” That’s when the angry energy really started to uplift.

“No,” Joshua replied with a stern look, “because I forgot!”

“How can you forget?! You’re supposed to take them every 24 hours!”

Joshua laughed manically. “Well, maybe my dementia is getting worser!”

“Oh, you and your crap vocabulary, I can’t stand it!”

“I’m an engineer, I don’t need to know that!” Joshua yelled, taking a sip of his glass of water.

“An engineer major!” Elizabeth snapped. “I’m surprised you can remember that!”

Joshua gasped in shock, like a preppy school-girl, took his water, and splashed it on Elizabeth’s face. She gasped just as loud as the liquid impacted her face and chest. She was soaked, with an irate attitude spread across her face.

“I really like this outfit,” Elizabeth said in a calm manner, desperately trying to hold her anger inside. She really didn’t want to wake Marie from her slumber. Joshua’s eyes were huge, for he knew the sort of trouble he was currently in. He was angry, too, so he decided to make the situation worse.

“Well, dear, if it shrinks, we can go shopping. It’ll make you feel better.”

Elizabeth, the time bomb, finally exploded once she lunged for Joshua, when she threw the card table full of food on its side. The impact of the table and dishes hitting the floor made a large thump. It was loud enough to wake up Marie, for sure. Elizabeth tackled Joshua on the floor, stuffing a handful of her mashed potatoes in Joshua’s face.

Joshua gagged and coughed as potatoes were smeared all over his face and forced down his throat. He grunted angrily, took the rest of his chicken, which happened to lay nearby, and smeared it on Elizabeth’s face. Elizabeth kept Joshua pinned down, rubbing her hand all over his face, as she also struggled to keep his chicken out of hers. “I’m not stopping unless you do!”

“Oh, I love mashed potatoes!” Joshua yelled angrily.

“You remember that too? Wow, what a surprise!”

Joshua spat, getting saliva and mashed potatoes on Elizabeth’s face. “At least I remember where I put your ring!”

They both stopped going at each other, once Joshua had said that last comment. Elizabeth sat up on Joshua’s stomach, as Joshua just laid there in shock completely unsatisfied with what he just said. If he was going to propose to his girlfriend, he certainly didn’t want her to find out about it until later, especially during this predicament, for that matter.

“Josh,” Elizabeth said, “what ring?”

Joshua laughed nervously and tried to come up with a lie, but failed miserably. “Ha! April Fool’s! I fooled you! You’re a real fool!”

“Josh, today isn’t April Fools’ Day; I know you’re lying. What do you mean by ‘I remember where I put your ring?’”

The sound of a crying baby rang through the halls of the apartment. Marie had woken up from her deep sleep. Joshua started to blame Elizabeth.

“See, Ellie? YOU woke the baby! And, you made a mess on the kitchen floor! Bad Ellie! Now, get off me!”

Elizabeth kept him pinned to the floor, making sure he couldn’t get up. Elizabeth was always somewhat stronger than Joshua.

“What ring, Josh?”

Josh sighed heavily, rolled his eyes, and confessed. “The one you’re sitting on.”

“There’s a ring in your pocket?” Elizabeth choking up.

“No, it’s up my butt,” Joshua responded sarcastically. “Of course there’s a ring in my pocket. I figured tonight would be perfect, since it was quiet and the baby was sound asleep, which she never is!”

Elizabeth sat up on Joshua’s stomach once again.

“What would be perfect?”

“To like… ask you to marry me and stuff.”

Elizabeth did not know what to think. She and Joshua just got into an outrageous conflict, a conflict like none of the others that they’ve had. She wanted to punch Joshua in the jaw, though she also wanted to attack him with kisses. The whole ring thing changes everything.

“Look,” Joshua said, catching his breath from all the fighting, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I hit you a few years back. Now that I think of it, I remember when and how it happened. I feel like crap just thinking about it now.”

Elizabeth leaned over him and kissed his lips tenderly. “Shut up, you fat idiot. I’m sorry, too, about the whole thing with Robert and lunch. I should have told you before-hand. I just felt so bad about it because… yeah… that happened.”

“Let’s not worry about it,” Joshua responded. “The past is past, what’s done is done. Let’s not let it affect us now. We’re in a healthy relationship, we love each other, and a beautiful daughter, who is refusing to go back to sleep right now. If the past is calling, don’t pick up, it has nothing new to say.”

Elizabeth snorted, kissing Joshua’s cheek. “Did you come up with that? The last part?”

Joshua laughed. “Pfft, no. I got it off the internet. Uh… Elizabeth?”

“Yes, Joshua?” smiling brightly.

“Will you marry me…? And yeah…?” Josh took out a ring from his right pocket, showing it to the love of his life. He was so nervous. “You’re r-really pretty when you sit on me like that.”

Elizabeth laughed, kissing Joshua over and over, taking the ring from his hand. “Hell yeah, I will marry you, Josh!”

The couple laid on the floor, covered in food, holding and kissing each other over and over. They completely forgot that Marie was still bawling her eyes out in her crib.

“I better go get her,” Elizabeth said with a smile. “Josh, you just made me the happiest girl alive.”

Joshua chuckled and smiled, not really thinking of what to say next. “You just made me happier than a girl.”

As Elizabeth went into Marie’s room to calm her down, Joshua proceeded to relax on the kitchen floor, covered in mashed potatoes, peas, and chicken. He laughed, staring at the ceiling, and calmly said to himself, “Best. Food fight. Ever.”

The End.

Jake’s song of the day

http://youtu.be/v30hFJ-T0zw

Have you read part one of The Man in the Red Zoot Suit? If not, click here to catch up!

Bryton Pear looked around the interior of the Cranston house, which he and Ret were exploring in a most stealth-like manner. The interior of the house was massive and it appeared to be much larger than the exterior. Being the most colossal home Bryton had ever stepped into, the Cranston house was also disturbingly quiet. Of course, when performing a crime such as this, Bryton would expect everything to be silent. However, this sort of silence literally made him fell a bit anxious. The dimming of the lights, from every room, slightly illuminated the home, giving the group of thieves’ full advantage for their visual perspective.

“I don’t think we need to use our flashlights,” Ret whispered cautiously. “I would suggest gripping them tightly, however. This house is large, you never know if you could get attacked from a house pet or a frightened resident. Just take whatever is valuable. Jewelry, antiques, etcetera. Then we’ll meet in the living room with Laura, Zap, and Noodle. You get the idea.”

“Gotcha,” Bryton whispered with a smile, as he held his flashlight in one hand, with his gun in the other. He was determined to rob everything that the family owned in this house. Hell, he surely wouldn’t mind stealing the Cranston house, himself. Bryton’s experience with burglary have been much efficient and he was ready for anything. Even if it were meeting the same fate as Zap did.

Bryton visited the kitchen, as Ret visited the game room, searching for any valuables.

Ugh, I’m never going to find anything in a kitchen, Bryton thought to himself as he quietly wandered. He found it very strange that the kitchen happened to be completely empty, shelves and all. The house was also extremely quiet. Being in the presence of this silence would drive a man insane within an hour. Bryton didn’t like it one bit, even though head been through the activity of burglary many times before. To give himself some relief, Bryton decided to humor his nervousness away. Heh, maybe I could find some very valuable spoons. I would have the richest soup of my life. Yeah, soup, that’s the way to go. Hahahaha, to be living in sweet wealth with high quality silverware. Story of my life. Gotta love me some soup. Bryton quietly, and carefully, opened a kitchen drawer, revealing a drawer-full of… nothing. Damn, I had the rest of my life planned with great silverware. I guess I have to wait longer, hahahaha. Bryton laughed quietly, once he shut the drawer.

As quiet as the house was, Bryton was slightly startled when he heard a slight thump coming from behind him. Natural adrenaline overwhelmed him, as Bryton immediately turned around, pointing his gun where he believed the sound came from. There was nothing there, according to Bryton’s sight against the dimmed lights, of course. Oddly, the dimmed lights freaked Bryton out, more than he thought, at least. He turned on his flashlight and shined it on the spot, which happened to be near the dining room table. Still nothing. Jeez, Ret, you’re a great burglar when you’re not making noise. Bryton shrugged and switched off his flashlight, only to rely on the dimmed lights, once again. He turned around to the direction he was facing before, only to see something peculiar about the refrigerator. The door was slightly open, with its light slightly illuminating the kitchen floor. Bryton looked around once again, completely puzzled. The fact that the refrigerator was open now, when it was not before, gave Bryton chills down his spine with air building up in his ski mask.

He calmly reached his arm out towards the door and gently pulled. He gasped heavily and tried his best not to scream at the top of his lungs. Zap’s decapitated head rested on a silver platter inside. The fridge was contained nothing but Zap’s head, which calmly dripped small amounts of blood on the floor. Bryton moaned with no satisfaction, as he vomited on all over the clean floor. He quickly shut the door and pulled his pistol out and began to run out of the kitchen. Someone, or something, killed Zap. His need, ranging from minimum to maximum, to leave the Cranston House was at a maximum, even if it meant risking the lives of Ret, Laura, and Noodle. I’m getting out of this pit of Hell! Oh, dear God, help me. Thoughts swarmed through Bryton’s head, like a school of fish. The image of Zap’s decapitated head would not leave. In fact, Bryton vomited, once again, all over the living room carpet. Ret and Laura were there, staring at him with eyes wide.

“The hell do you think you’re doing?!” Ret whispered loudly. “You know that cops have forensic scientists, right?!”

Bryton gasped for air, trying to figure out what to say for as an explanation. “Zap… dead. Zap is dead!”

Ret put his palm over Bryton’s mouth, shushing him. “Shut the hell up, Bry! What do you mean Zap is dead?!”

            Bryton tried his best to whisper, as he suffered traumatizing shock. “His head… is in the fridge, Ret! We have to leave, now.”

“Zap is upstairs, man,” Laura whispered. “Calm down, bro. Hey, Ret, I don’t mind cleaning this puke.”

“No, follow me,” Ret ordered, as he made his way to the kitchen with Laura following. Bryton didn’t hesitate to stop them. If Ret and Laura didn’t believe him, he was sure enough that he wasn’t going to let those two be the cause of his fate. He was so frightened that he was about to urinate his pants. He made it to the front door of the house and tried to open it. It was locked, even when he attempted to unlock it. He started to hyperventilate as he started kicking at the door, and even attempted to pick the lock. What the hell is this?! His body began to sweat, as he frantically went for the windows, which were covered in thick burgundy curtains, which appeared highly vintage. He frantically opened the curtains and was practically going insane when he saw metallic bars sealed over the windows. He checked for the other windows, resulting they were all secured with the bars. Why can’t I get out of here?! Oh, please someone help!

Bryton made another attempt at the front door, kicking it and trying to pick the lock. There was no sign of Ret or Laura either, not since they left for the kitchen due to their curiosity. Bryton presumed them to be dead, after suffering the same fate as Zap. Bryton started breathing heavily, his palms beginning to sweat. He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t. In fact, he couldn’t say anything. He was in complete and utter shock. He couldn’t take this madness anymore. The deranged burglar took off his ski mask in a frustrated manner, took out his gun, pointed at the lock and fired two rounds. He wanted to save his ammunition if any other unexpected occurrences were to take place. Praying that the lock would finally be disabled, Bryton was shocked that it wasn’t. The door lock was in mint condition, undamaged, reflecting dimmed lighting with its brass coating. Bryton was about to have a meltdown, until he noticed a figure standing behind him form the reflection of the brass doorknob.

“Honey,” it was a woman, “there’s a man at the door.” Bryton stood there frozen, and silently set his gun to the floor.

Thank God. Maybe this was all an illusion. Zap is not dead. The others are fine. I’m just the only one who got busted. Maybe the others are driving away in their van now, so they can avoid getting arrested. I don’t care if I’m arrested, I just want out of here. Bryton didn’t turn around to face the woman, but instead stood in his place, holding his hands in the air.

“L-look, lady,” Bryton said, “I’m not here to hurt anyone. I just want to leave. If you call the cops, I will be perfectly okay with it.”

There was complete silence, just like everything had been before. Bryton could see the woman, who stood in her place as well, standing behind him. By the looks of everything, coming from the reflection of the brass knob, the woman looked absolutely stunning. She wore a white nightgown and had short brown hair. She appeared completely harmless.

The silence finally broke when the woman repeated, “Honey, there’s a man at the door. Honey, there’s a man at the door. Honey, there’s a man at the door…”

“Miss?” Bryton interrupted. “Are you okay?” He slowly turned around to face the woman. She was about his height, looking simply gorgeous. She must have been the mother of the house. Before Bryton could say anything else, he became completely speechless, once again, when he saw blood pouring out of the woman’s mouth, eyes, and from the top of her head. He glanced at her, as the woman’s nightgown began to get soaked in the blood. He looked down at her feet to see yet another decapitated head. It was Noodle. A pool of fresh blood was beneath the woman, who smiled at him pleasantly.

“Honey,” she started again, her eyes turning pure black, “there’s a MAN AT THE DOOR!”

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            Her entire face became evil and demonic as she shouted in Bryton’s face, petrifying him once again. He stumbled backward and fell on his ass, slamming his head against the brass doorknob. His vision was turning into an obnoxious blur. The last vision he had was of the demonic Woman in the Nightgown smiling at him, as she calmly waved good-bye. Before he became completely unconscious, he heard yet another voice.

“I do believe that it is time to meet in the kitchen, everyone. This shall not take long, I assure you. We will all be asleep, soon.”

 

To be continued…

 

Jake’s song of the day:

http://youtu.be/UbEVzpdOlVg

       Hey, everyone, this is Jacob Arasim, finder of Your Weekly Popcorn and I think it’s time to share something new other than just another short story. In all honesty, if I’m going to have a blog, I would expect it to have some variety other than… yeah… just another short story. Stay poppin’, Boise State.

Throughout the years of being a confused, curious, and often dumb-founded teenager, I’ve always had a love for scary movies. However, scary movies weren’t always my favorite. They used to be my poison. Being someone who watched The Shining at the age of eight, thus being ultimately scarred by it, scary movies soon grew from my worst nemesis to my best friend (My worst nemesis now is the dreadful subject of math, but that’s another story.). As my love for scary movies continued to grow, I also took interest in low-budget horror flicks, by of which not a lot of people have heard of. Movies such as Evil Dead (1981), The Langoliers, Basket Case, House, etc. These sort of movies are absolutely atrocious, with ridiculous acting, pointless story plots, ridiculous special effects, and other characteristics you wouldn’t see in a regular blockbuster movies. Although, it’s really interesting how these low-wage film-makers can make such an interesting movie with a budget as low as $3 million.

For example, Evil Dead 2 (Directed by Sam Raimi) only had a budget of $3.6 million, which makes wonder how in the hell did they get this together?! (below: Evil Dead 2 [1987] star Bruce Campbell, Ash, fighting a monster-ugly-thing.)

Evil Dead 2

 

Low-budget films are all apart of interesting and original talent. Though they may look like complete and utter shit, I can’t help but admire the work that low-budget filmmakers can put together. Alright, now I’m going to finally cut to the chase, to the real topic of this here blog!

Dead End (2003) was discovered by me after ten years of its presence. It’s a story that really squeezes and twists your brain, like a filthy sponge. It’s a low-budget movie that actually makes you shiver with a hint of fright. To top that off, this movie happens to be a Christmas story about a regular family, who just want to visit family for the upcoming holiday. When the family is driving on a highway, surrounded by nothing but forest, their Christmas Eve literally turns into a nightmare before Christmas. There is a father, a mother, a daughter, a son, and the daughter’s boyfriend who are all together for this roller-coaster ride of terror. The father, Frank Harrington (as played by Ray Wise), decides to take a shortcut to get to the in-laws’ home in time for Christmas. The family has done this for Christmas every year for the past twenty and Frank’s first decision to take a shortcut takes a deadly toll on the family.

downloadThe story starts to get very exciting as Frank nearly hits a woman in a white gown, standing in the middle of the road. With the family startled, the see that the Woman is seriously injured and is carrying a baby. They want to help the Woman, but they don’t have enough room, so they end up leaving their daughter, Marion (as played by Alexandra Holden) in the middle of the road IN the middle of the night. They tell Marion to just follow the road and meet where she sees the car at a stop.

Okay, what?! Oh, like that couldn’t be anymore cliché?! 

The family decides to take the Woman in White with them, in the hopes to get help from the nearest populated area. Frank and his family discover an old shack and they decide to stop there to find a working telephone (Note that this movie takes place in a time where not a lot of cell phones were owned by everyone everywhere.). As Frank and Laura investigate the shack, their only son Richard (as played by Mick Cain) goes wandering off into the forest to do business of his own. And what I mean by “business,” I mean “monkey business.”

Now Richard is the bastard child of the family. He smokes pot, he listens to hardcore music, insults his parents, and is a total junkie. Throughout the movie, he turns out to be the main source of comic-relief. So when something wrong happens, the family is completely taken off guard by Richard’s wise-cracks.

 While Richard is in the woods and the two parents are looking for a working phone, the daughter’s boyfriend Brad (as played by Billy Asher) is left in the car waiting with the Woman in White. After a disturbing discovery of the fact that the Woman’s baby (whom of which she is holding) is actually dead, things really start to go haywire. Frank, Laura, and Richard all discover that Brad is gone, along with the Woman and her mangled baby. Meanwhile, Marion discovers her boyfriend in the backseat of a sketchy black car, which casually drives past her on the opposite side of the street. Completely petrified of the sight of her boyfriend being taken away, she finally (miraculously) finds her family to tell them the news. Frank, Laura, Richard, and Marion all go after Brad in search of the car, only to discover his mangled body in the middle of the road. The black car is also nowhere to be seen, especially the Woman in White.

Dead End, for some, might be a bit confusing and difficult to follow. It’s one of those movies where you really have to pay attention to, or you won’t get what’s going on. I, for one, happened to enjoy this movie for its disturbing surprises and mind-blowing discoveries. The events that follow are so chilling, even though you never actually get to see people die. It’s a movie that lets you imagine what how the character looks, once he/she has been murdered and that really freaks me out. And the road that the family happens to be travelling on seems to be ever-lasting. The movie also does not intend to scare its audience with violence and gore, but with intimidating their minds (Sort of like the feeling that you get when you were to watch Silence of the Lambs.). Along with the disturbing sequences, the actors, let alone characters, are great (Especially Ray Wise, who happened to star in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.), as you watch a loving family simply fall apart from all the madness. Oh, and the soundtrack is just awesome.

However, Dead End does have some faults, like when Brad actually owns a cell phone, which could have been used instead of going to an empty, creepy piece of shack. The movie does fulfill itself with great acting and a great story, which will make you react like this kitty.

surprised-face-on-cat

 Dead End is a pretty good movie to visually experience. It’s not like other scary movies, for it has its own unique style. I would give it 3 out of 5 popcorn kernels, minus 2 for its plot line flaws. It is definitely a movie worth watching, despite those faults. If you’re willing to check it out, Dead End is on Netflix instant. Enjoy!

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     Rating: 3/5 Popcorn kernels

 

 

 

 

 

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3/29/2014

Hello everybody, and welcome back to Common Culture after a little pause for spring break! I had a wonderful week of not catching up on sleep and instead catching up on all the papers and projects I have due right after break! Now that we’re back, let’s jump right into a topic that most people will probably think is in generally the same area as homework-over-spring-break on the Things That Suck Scale – Kim Kardashian!

I know what you’re thinking: “Dayna, we’ve been reading your blogs, and you’ve been posting about some generally fun stuff, I thought you weren’t going to stoop to shallow pop culture topics like Kim Kardashian!”

Or maybe I’m just assuming you’re thinking that, because that’s what I thought when I initially considered the idea for this blog post. As a person who likes to consider herself generally intelligent and interested in things that matter, I usually give Kim Kardashian a pretty small sliver of my attention. However, this blog is going to be less focused on “Kim Kardashian dyed her hair; Kim Kardashian had a baby with a ridiculous name; Kim Kardashian is crying over something” and more focused on her as an icon.

I mean, really, why is Kim Kardashian famous? First and foremost, we probably all know her from her less glamorous past – am I talking about the sex tape or her position as Paris Hilton’s footstool? No one knows! The truth is that all celebrities have “less glamorous pasts” – things they did that nobody considered glamorous enough to pay attention to. Then one day, they did something more glamorous, and bam, people cared! We have to remember that Kim got herself a reality tv show, and producers don’t give shows to just anyone. There’s achievement number 1.

Since the tv show, Kim has done company endorsements, lines of clothing, fragrances and cosmetics, some acting, some singing, some modeling, wrote an autobiography and even produced her own show. There are achievements 2-10, and I’m sure I missed some because, even though people like to act like it’s not true, Kim Kardashian has quite an extensive list of accomplishments. Most recently, Kim and her fiancé, some unknown guy named Kanye West, landed a cover on Vogue – a decision that received a lot of backlash because landing a Vogue cover is an extremely prestigious honor that many believe Kim didn’t deserve.

It seems to me that the people who claim this have not traced Kim’s stepping stones to where she is now. Of course, I think Vogue covers should go to models that have worked their whole lives for something like that to happen for them. But I don’t believe that Kim hasn’t worked her whole life to get to where she is. No, she’s not a model, but Kim Kardashian is a hardworking entrepreneur who has earned her success.

Okay, let’s discuss the elephant in the room: “But Dayna, Kim is only famous because she made a sex tape!” Yes, I know, and here’s my opinion: lots of people have sex. Lots of people make sex tapes. Sometimes the tapes are released and sometimes they aren’t. But the point is I think it’s time we stopped focusing on what people do and don’t share of their lives in the bedroom and start focusing on what differences these people make in the world. I don’t care what Kim Kardashian did in a sex tape. I know that she is worth a ton of money that she’s worked for; she’s started many business ventures, and she supports many charities and organizations.

The important thing is that when a person becomes a celebrity, it doesn’t matter how they did it. That’s not how media works. If a person does something to launch them into the public eye, no matter what it is, they are there and they will be watched. If what we see of Kim after she’s on our radar is something we don’t personally like, we have every right to not watch her; not buy her magazines. But let’s put to rest the notion that Kim hasn’t worked to get to where she is or that she’s “not really famous”. Because every action she’s taken in her life, whether or not we agree with it, has led her to become a very wealthy, successful, prominent business woman. And I don’t know about you guys, but in my opinion, that makes her deserving of a bit of praise.

 

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Hello everybody, welcome back to Common Culture! Today I want to talk to you guys about a topic that is endlessly misunderstood and constantly frustrating—book-to-film adaptations. This blog was inspired by the newly released trailer for the movie The Giver, which can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJNNugNe0Wo. If you haven’t heard of The Giver, I’m not sure that you actually went to elementary school. It is a dystopian fiction novel by Lois Lowry that chronicles the experience of 12-year-old Jonas, a boy who lives in a society called “the Community” that has effectively removed pain and diversity from their world. When he is chosen to be the “Receiver of Memories,” he begins to learn from an old man called The Giver details of how the world used to be, and of things like color, music and emotion. In the end, Jonas must decide whether to stay in his world—one that is safe and painless—or to leave the society and bear the weight of the real world on his shoulders.

The Giver is one of my absolute favorite books and it is now being given the fancy Hollywood spin in a movie adaptation (one that is far overdue, might I add). It has been added to the long list of my favorite books that have been turned into films, and like all of those before it, it is already facing criticism from fans of the novel: Will cast members like Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard do the film justice? Why is it in color when all the characters see in black and white, and Jonas himself doesn’t even see in color for a while into the book? Why is Jonas a 24-year-old man? And why is Taylor Swift in it?

I want to break down how film adaptations are treated for you guys. The process usually goes as such: A person reads a book and thinks, “I can imagine this as a film. I want to see this as a film!” And the moment a trailer, a cast list, even a notice that the film is being made comes out, the person loses their mind: “This is going to suck! They won’t do it right! They’ll destroy my baby!”

In my eyes, there are two ways people address book-to-film adaptations:

  1. The movie is meant to be a film version of the book. The movie is meant to be a literal, exact translation, a visual representation of the book.
  2. The movie is meant to be an interpretation of the book. The movie is meant to capture the essence of the book; the text should be used as a starting point to create a film.

The thing about films and books is that they are not at all the same medium. So to expect a filmmaker to forfeit their form for purposes of being more like the book is to ask them to stop being a filmmaker and be a visual-bookmaker (this sounds weird because it is not real). A filmmaker makes a movie because they know how to make films, and an author writes books because they know how to write books. The artist uses a medium they are most well-equipped to use, and see the story working best with. When a story transitions over various mediums, it must be understood that it will translate differently.

Therefore, #2 is how book-to-film adaptations work. #1 is how many readers want them to work and how they think it does. This is where the trouble comes in.

“Why is Jonas going to be so old?!?!” Well here are a few possible reasons: Brenton Thwaites, who is playing Jonas, is a hottie and that will sell in the box office; pre-teens onscreen financially do not do as well; it is much harder to find skilled young actors than older actors.

Do I think this is the best choice for the film? I don’t know. I do think that Jonas’ age is important because he is so young—he is naïve and trying to find his place in the world. Watching a 12-year-old discover his life is a fabricated lie is probably more heartbreaking than watching a 24-year-old discover this. However, we haven’t seen the film. We don’t know what Thwaites brought to the project or the character of Jonas. We don’t know why the filmmaker made this decision, but we’ve got to trust that they know their art.

When fans pitch hissy fits over small details in a book, it frustrates me, because they’ve got to understand: there are reasons. Things do not always come across as well onscreen as they do in a book. It may be in the end, some wrong decisions may be made, and that can be determined and definitely discussed after the film is released. Filmmakers aren’t always perfect and they do make mistakes, but they it is their right to construct the film the way they see fit. It doesn’t give them license to destroy a story, and if they do, that is something they absolutely have to own up to (see: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief movie adaptation. Oh man. So bad). But sometimes changes to the story aren’t the end of the world. Nobody complains that Emma Watson played Hermione, even though she is a goddess on earth and Hermione is described as plain and frumpy, because nobody minds watching Emma Watson onscreen. Nobody.

So next time you want to complain about an actor having baby-blue eyes when they are supposed to be sky-blue, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Will he still be able to portray the role properly?
  2. Will the exact shade of his eyes really affect the film?
  3. Will he still look great on a poster on my ceiling?

In the end, that’s all that really matters.