The Harsh Reality of Depression

Life is supposed to be happy. People should be able to feel good about themselves. If they get sick, they should have hope of getting better. But there are many people who can’t have this good life. They spend every day of their lives miserable about their existence. They lose hope in the world. This is the harsh reality of depression.

Depression never comes up randomly. There’s always a reason, even if it may be hidden. By far the most common one is a traumatic experience, or a series of traumatic experiences, that wind up affecting a person’s life permanently. The trauma could be anything from a physical injury, to the death of a loved one, to sexual abuse. This causes a chemical imbalance in the brain, usually of reduced levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemical imbalances are what cause depression.

Often times this trauma will implant a trigger in the victim’s mind. That trigger could be something really insignificant or inexplicable, like penguins. But the triggers all have reason. What if penguins were their abuser’s favorite animal? Bringing up the trigger causes the person to recall memories from the trauma. It makes them experience the trauma again mentally and makes the depression worse.

Depression is very unpredictable. Sometimes it will take days to set in, sometimes months. One day you could be feeling like the happiest person in the world, and the next day you could be miserable in bed all day. Sometimes it’ll get better in weeks, sometimes it takes years. But no matter how unpredictable it may be, it always takes a major toll on people’s lives.

The worst thing depression brings is the lack of motivation to do anything. Without motivation, someone is likely to stay in bed all day, not eat or bathe, stay in the same clothes for weeks. They won’t want to do work. They may not even want to do the things they usually love.

There comes a point when someone is so depressed, they may want to end their life. They feel that they don’t deserve to exist in this world, and that nobody would care if they left it. If someone is close to attempting suicide, they may seem unusually happy, because they have their plan concocted and are ready to execute it, and end their misery. If you ever see a sudden mood change like that, talk to them about it, and get them to call a suicide hotline.

The point of all this is that depression is bad. If someone you know is depressed, try to comfort them and help them through it. The times are hard, but it always eventually gets better. Just keep pulling through.

TCM Theater Showings

Every month, TCM shows a classic film in theaters for two days to show them to people who never got the chance to see them on the big screen. They are not at every theater, but they are not that hard to find.

At the start of every film there is always a host that will introduce the film and say something about its impact and reception. There are only nine more showings this year, but they are definitely worth it. On April 23rd and 26th, Mike Nichols’ groundbreaking classic The Graduate will be showing to celebrate its 50 year anniversary. The TCM host that will be presenting is Ben Mankiewicz. The film is known as Dustin Hoffman’s breakthrough role and one of the most important films in the New Hollywood film movement (also known as the American New Wave). On May 21st and 24th, Smokey the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds will be playing to celebrate its 40 year anniversary. Ben Mankiewicz will be hosting for this one as well. This film is what established Burt Reynolds as a star in Hollywood

On June 4th and 7th, Francis Ford Coppola’s tour de force mobster epic The Godfather will be playing. Often cited as one of the greatest films of all time from critics and audiences alike, The Godfather stars numerous acting legends, from Marlon Brando to Al Pacino to Robert Duvall to Diane Keaton, and the list goes on and on. This will also be hosted by Ben Mankiewicz.

On June 11th and 14th, Some Like it Hot will be playing. Directed by one of the great film directors of all time, Billy Wilder, and starring two of the screen’s best actors ever, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, this is surely to be enjoyed by anyone of any age or taste in film, a must-see. This will be hosted by TCM host Tiffany Vazquez.

On July 30th and August 2nd, Fast Times at Ridgemont High will be playing. While very silly and cheesy, Sean Penn’s breakthrough role is still a fun watch and worth seeing. It will be hosted by Ben Mankiewicz.

On August 13th and 16th, the classic Bonnie and Clyde will be playing. The film is well known for launching the New Hollywood movement, which I mentioned before. Starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, this classic should really be seen by everybody. This will be hosted by Tiffany Vasquez.

On September 17th and 20th, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial will be playing. Everyone has seen this Steven Spielberg classic. It will be great to relive this adventure on the big screen. It will be hosted by Ben Mankiewicz.

On October 15th and 18th, Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride will be playing in theaters for its 30th anniversary. A film everyone could enjoy, this will be great to see in theaters. This will be hosted by Tiffany Vasquez.

On November 12th and 15th, the classic film Casablanca will be playing to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Everyone loves Casablanca! This classic starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, and Peter Lorre is a globally renowned classic that is often considered one of the best films ever made. It will be hosted be Ben Mankiewicz.

On December 10th and 13th, the Sidney Poitier classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner will be playing. This film was very groundbreaking at its time because it is about an interracial couple. It is one f Sidney Poitier’s best films. It will be hosted by Tiffany Vasquez.

Memorium of Those Lost In 2016 – By Zach Mirsky

Though not physically here anymore, these legends have each left us behind with their legacy. Their voices and musical contributions will always live on.
Here’s a list of the most influential artists we’ve lost from 2016 to now:

  • January 10: David Bowie – Best known as “Ziggy Stardust” and for his gender bending artistry and pure talent. Nothing short of a legend.
  • February 4: Maurice White – Best known as the leader and founder of the group Earth, Wind and Fire. They had a legacy as being a funk and R&B band.
  • March 11: Keith Emerson – Co-Founded the progressive rock supergroup, Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The band was best known for their live performances and pyrotechnics. They were also considered the first prog rock supergroup.
  • April 21: Prince – Possibly one of the biggest guitarists/artists ever. Flawlessly mixing genres between rock, pop and funk, beloved by generations. Dead at 57, his songs and influences in pop culture will live on.
  • November 10: Leonard Cohen – Another extremely influential singer/songwriter and a beautiful poet. At 82, Cohen released his last album, entitled You Want It Darker, which explored the concept and questions of god and mortality.
  • December 25: George Michael – British star and gay icon, George Michael mixed his progressive social commentary with danceable pop music. He was considered to be very controversial.

Honorable mention:
The 23rd anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death was on April 5th this year.

Manchester by the Sea review

Manchester by the Sea was one of the best movies of last year. I cried twice both times I watched it, truly one of the most realistic films I’ve ever seen. The characters literally talk over one another and don’t hear each other at times. From the first scene I was gripped. The relationship between Casey Affleck and his nephew really grabs you from the start. We learn more about it as the film goes on through flashbacks and also watch it developed whilst learning about it. Each and every reveal about the characters is told to us in an emotionally intriguing way and at the perfect time. This was one of the best character studies I have seen in years. I truly felt for Casey Affleck’s character every second along the way and understood why he did everything he did even when I did not want him to do it. I even felt with characters that were barely in it. Many people complained about the film’s pacing and its ending, but I thought they were both perfect. While the pacing was very slow, it really was fitting and needed for its subject matter. Things don’t really get any better for our protagonist, but with everything else that happens to him in the film and with his reactions to it, a happy ending would have been unfitting and totally would not have worked.

Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams give beautifully powerful performances. Affleck actually gives one of the best performances of the 21st century. Affleck subtly dies inside while still showing us his misery. Michelle Williams was robbed by Viola Davis at the Oscars. She does not have much screen time, but is devastating when on screen.

The film was wonderfully directed, but I won’t deny its flaws. While the atmosphere felt very very real at times, there were still flaws in the cinematography that keep it from perfection. While the cinematography was great, there were two or three scenes in the beginning where I felt that it was a bit too simple with boring straight on shots that kept cutting exactly 90 degrees from one another. In the more emotional scenes it couldn’t have been better. In the emotional scenes, there was chaos going on all around our lead character and we were being shown his reactions first through wides, then it would often cut to close-ups of Affleck and we would see his reaction in more detail. The costume design was simple, but real and fitting. The film just overall felt alive throughout.

Another little nitpick I had was that the editing felt a tad bit choppy. I thought some of the shots could have ran for a bit longer at times. The film has a great score, too. It really matches every scene. The songs were playing in my head for days after I saw it, making all the sadness even heavier. It really should have been nominated for Best Score at the Oscars.

All in all, Manchester by the Sea was one of the best films of last year that is totally worth your time. Though I had a few nitpicks with some of the technical aspects of the film, the acting and script were both some of the best this decade and it will break the heart of anyone who sees it. A must-see.
9/10

“Too” by FIDLAR review -Zach Mirsky

Band Members

Band Members

The name FIDLAR stands for “F*** It Dog, Life’s A Risk,” and the name seems quite fitting for the music and lyrics. To sum up their latest album, “Too” is about getting sober and all the struggles and setbacks that come with it. Zac Carper, who has recently become sober, got the worst phone call in his life on May 18, 2013. “I was with this girl, and we were both drug addicts,” says Carper. “She was pregnant, and she overdosed on heroin while I was on tour.” She died from a staph infection, presumably from a dirty needle. “That day, I found out that my girlfriend was dead,” he recalls, covering his eyes with his hand. “I felt such guilt and shame over it. I was the one who introduced her to getting high. She had a miscarriage with my kid. I didn’t know what to do besides drink my life away.”

Carper’s addiction almost ended the band and his life several times. When talking about the new record “Too,” he says, “Dude, life for me is … hard and I use drugs to get over that. Now you take the medicine away, which was drugs, then I’m like a crazy person. I’m like psychotic now. I have mood swings. The only way I can deal with it is to write.”

FIDLAR IP Cover

FIDLAR IP Cover

Enough background, let’s talk about the music. This album has grown on me in such a short amount of time, to the point where for the most part, there are not many complaints about it. This album opens up with a banger, “40oz On Repeat,” a song that really paints a picture of an awkward kid with horrible anxiety and who is just isolated, painted by lines like “I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me talk to somebody I don’t know/Well I tried to ask you out about a thousand times/But in my head you just always say ‘no.’” The song title shouts out Sublime with their track “40oz To Freedom.” Then the song “Punks,” a song with intense screeched vocals, a (VERY) catchy and fuzzy guitar riff, and even a super bluesy organ sandwiched in there somewhere. That then leads to the song “West Coast,” a super fun and catchy skate punk song about skipping school, failing, and having fun. The classic subject: teenage debauchery. My favorite song on the album is “Bad Habits,” which is super relatable and very dark, lyrically. That was the first song written for the album and was sketched out when Carper was in rehab.

Favs: Bad Habits; Leave Me Alone; Sober; Overdose

Least Favs: Bad Medicine; Drone

Album Rating: 8/10

A Leap in the Legalization of Cannabis

According to the CBC, Canada’s liberal government will announce legislation this month that will nationally legalize marijuana by next summer. Provinces will have the right to decide how the marijuana is distributed and sold, what prices are appropriate and what age to sell to. College age voters are the most important in this upcoming vote to nationally legalize cannabis use in Canada. The University of Michigan reports that more than 38 percent of college students used marijuana in 2015 and since then the use of alcohol, tobacco and narcotics has declined. There are already 25 states that have legalized medicinal marijuana, against federal law, to treat a large number of illnesses from insomnia to epilepsy and even to help prevent opioid overdose. On a larger scale, government taxation on marijuana could provide new funds for the economy, with Colorado showing a increase of about $2.4 billion in 2015 alone. The legalization of marijuana would also greatly reduce the US’s incarceration rate. With 8.2 million arrests in the last 10 years for marijuana, and 88 percent of those arrests being just for possession, trying to uphold marijuana regulation costs states over $3 billion, money that would be of much better use for public interests. If there are already a large number of young people invested in the industry, then the public and government officials better start listening because otherwise The United States might just go up in smoke. Not to mention that the marijuana industry is the fastest growing industry in The United States. If it continues to grow at the same rate, as the federal prohibition is lifted, then the amount of taxes that could be collected from the industry would help the nation’s economy significantly.

Harmless Flowering Plant

Harmless Flowering Plant

April Fools!

For many, the fact that April Fools Day has just past is such a relief. This holiday comes once a year on the first day of every April, and is notorious for its pranks and cruel jokes. We have been living through this famous day for as long as we can remember, but do any of us truly know where the one day of year where nobody is safe comes from? Let’s look back at history. The origin of this day is slightly unclear, due to the fact that there are many theories regarding it. One of the most popular theories is the one including Pope George XIII, who ordered in the late 1500’s, possibly 1582, that Christian countries, particularly France, change their calendars to the Roman one. This would mean that the Julian calendar would have to be switched to the Gregorian calendar. With this alteration, the new year would be moved from its original date in the spring on April 1st to it’s new date in the winter on January 1st, which we have adopted as well for our celebration of New Year’s. Due to the fact that it was the 16th century, and there were many who resided in rural areas at the time, it took a while for news to spread that New Years had been moved. There were also those who simply refused to recognize the shift. Anyone who continued to celebrate the old New Year’s date was classified as “April Fools,” which is where we get the holiday’s name from. Spring celebrators were mocked, and had paper fish stuck onto their backs without their knowledge, which symbolized an “easy to catch fish,” or a gullible person, also called “Poisson D’Avril” in French. America is not the only country who has a day in the year specifically dedicated to silliness. India celebrates a spring festival called Holi, in which people play jokes and throw dyes at each other. Iran celebrates the holiday of Sizdah Bedar, in which pranks are also played on April 1st. According to the Museum of Hoaxes, “It’s more likely that April Fool’s Day resembles these other celebrations because they’re all manifestations of a deeper pattern of folk behavior — an instinct to respond to the arrival of spring with festive mischief and symbolic misrule,” and I couldn’t agree more with this statement.

A medieval times image of a man being tagged with a paper fish on his back

A medieval times image of a man being tagged with a paper fish on his back

Cyclone Debbie Devastates Australia

On Tuesday, March 28, Australia was hit by Cyclone Debbie, a category 4 storm comparable in damage to Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

The storm primarily struck the Queensland coast, hitting Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island, Proserpine, Bowen, Collinsville, and Mackay. Although not the worst storm to grace Queensland, it was incredibly large, and there has been a substantial amount of flooding as well as destruction of houses and buildings. Walls, roof tiles, and glass windows were blown away by winds at 260 km an hour. In addition, a bull shark was found washed up on land in Ayr, Queensland, prompting authorities to order people to stay away from floodwaters. Around 50,000 people were reported to be cut off from power. Many are in desperate need of fuel, food, power, water, and shelter.

Satellite image of Cyclone Debbie.

Satellite image of Cyclone Debbie.

During the storm, Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, expressed concern for those who could not contact emergency services. She also urged people to stay indoors, saying, “If you have plans tonight to go out and see friends, to see neighbors, to travel, please do not. Stay in your home; this is for one night. I need to have the roads clear for our emergency services personnel if they do need to go to the assistance of people.”

Cyclone Debbie’s damages will cost Australia billions of dollars, bringing a massive hit to their economy. It was hard to determine the exact amount of damage at first, with so many people unable to access emergency services. Now, however, we know that the disaster zone is 1,000 km (600 miles) wide. It is also known that four people have died because of floods, and at least three are missing. The destruction of rail lines will take five weeks to repair. Floods are reported to be around the same size as Texas. People are expecting lots of rain in the aftermath of the cyclone, which will last until around Thursday.

Save the Bees

Bumbling and Buzzing

You probably haven’t paid much mind to bees other than the frantic shufflings to get away from their buzzing bodies. Though many see these creatures as nuisances that leave behind painful, itchy marks, bees are an essential part of our ecosystem. It is important to first note the common misconception of stingings. Though honeybees are the only species of bees that can die after stinging (this is caused by their barbed stinger which sticks to the skin), bees only sting if they sense danger and/or if you aggravate them.

What They Do

With such small bodies, bees uphold many jobs that produce what we as people take for granted. Honey bees can be attributed to 80% of the world’s pollination which results in produce such as fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Along with the dependence on consumer goods, bees play a vital part in beautifying the environment. By pollinating flowers, bees are perpetuating growth and sustaining a living ecosystem in which other species live as well.

Dire Consequences

The population of bees has dropped nearly 90 percent since the 1990s according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The rusty patched bumblebee, once common in the U.S., is now on the brink of extinction. It is currently on the official list of endangered species. What is causing the rapid death of these creatures? Some causes include the use of neonicotinoid insecticides and yes, the big issue, global warming. As temperatures increase with each year getting warmer and warmer, many plants and animals are shifting northwards. According to studies done at the University of Ottawa, bees inhabit southern areas leaving them behind with less plants to pollinate. Bee colonies need approximately 264 lbs of nectar but with all the plants shifting elsewhere, the bees are left behind struggling to survive.

What You Can Do

There are many ways you can help bees maintain their habitat and survival. One way to help is by growing native plants. Bees prefer blue, purple, and yellow flowers with sweet fragrances. They see ultraviolet colors, found on flowers such as buttercups and black-eyed Susans. Another extremely important change that you can make is ridding the use of chemicals on your lawns and gardens. Lastly, you can go green and reduce your carbon footprint. Some ways to reduce your carbon footprint include reducing energy and water use, recycling as much as possible, and buying/eating less meat. All in all, bees are important creatures that make a significant impact on our environment and way of life. Help save them before they are extinct for good.

Sesame Street Adds First Autistic Character

The classic television series Sesame Street recently decided to add a new character. The character’s name is Julia and her mental condition has garnered much attention. Sesame Street has been on the air for 47 years and has been teaching lessons in tolerance since its first days on the air.

Julia is a four year old with red hair, a lot of friends, and autism. Her character has been in development for five years and will air on April 10th. One in 68 children born are diagnosed with autism. The number has increased by 119% percent since 2000. This character will be great for letting these kids know that there is nothing wrong with having autism. “It’s important for kids without autism to see what autism can look like,” said Stacy Gordon, the puppeteer of the character, when on 60 Minutes.

This will also be very helpful in minimizing the bullying of autistic people. “Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s okay,” Stacy Gordon also said.

Julia has a mother in jail and a father in the military. This will also be great for children who feel lonely in their struggles. It will help kids in similar situations have someone to relate to and make their problems feel real, let them know that there is nothing wrong with the situations they were given, and that it’s okay to feel upset about them.

Her autism will be shown in that she excels in some areas and lacks very much in others. She also spaces out a lot and it is very hard to get her attention. She’ll often also repeat what her friends Elmo and Abby say. She loves to paint and pick flowers. “That’s just Julia being Julia,” Abby said.

“Basically, in terms of vulnerable families, we’re looking at families who may have particular stressors in their lives that are impacting their young children,” said Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for U.S. social impact at parent company Sesame Workshop. Jeanette has been helping plot the development of Julia for about three years now.

The character is set to appear in two episodes of this season and more in the next. This will be a great reminder that in dark times with such an intolerant government and a seemingly intolerant people, there is still hope for our children and the future.