Wednesday, April 28, 2010

“New Media” Is Not Always “Good Media”

By Ashley Badillo

The music industry has welcomed the change in media, from selling cassettes to selling CDs in record stores. Now, without leaving the comfort of their homes, people can download entire albums or just their favorite singles off the internet. It is best to buy albums than to download music off the internet. To illegally download songs off the internet hurts not only the artists’ but also everyone who took part in creating that song. Producers, ghost writers, music managers, and record labels all lose money every time a song is illegally downloaded off the internet. New legal downloading sites such as iTunes may sound better, but overall it actually hurts the music industry and the artist.

In one year the overall music industry revenue has dropped 25% because of legal downloading. Music stores, such as F.Y.E and Tower Records, have been shut down due to lack of customers. Soon there will be no need for record stores at all. Artists’ singles are bought and listened to through iTunes and Lime Wire rather than buying albums. The majority of the artists’ songs are no longer being heard because of downloading. Illegal downloading is so much easier and cheaper than legal downloading; in a few years from now what is to stop people from doing so, if record stores are all shut down.

Because of downloading sites such as ITunes and Lime Wire, album sales have decreased. “The combined effect of all these competing forms of distribution, plus the continued growth of illegal file sharing, has been decreases in CD sales. From a peak of almost 800 million albums (CDs, plus records and tapes) sold in 2000, the sales declined to 619 million albums at the end of 2005. Digital track sales increased 150 percent in 2005, but overall sales still declined 4 percent because many people buy single tracks, not full albums, from online stores,” reported The New York Times. Money that is spent on making an album is going to waste due to the fact that not many people are buying albums anymore. Record stores such as Tower Records are going bankrupt and shutting down due to the lack of customers. Within five short years album sales have declined by 181 million, causing many artists to lose money and making it harder for newer artist to become establish in the music industry.

“Much of the music being swapped between computers is copyrighted, and swapping these songs can be considered piracy- violation of the copyright of the artist or recording companies who own it. So as a listener, you have a legal dilemma when you turn to the Internet and MP3s to look for diversity of music. By looking for new talent on the Internet, you can help new bands get around the gatekeeping of the music and radio industries, but if you only listen to their MP3s and don’t buy their CDs, they won’t survive,” noted Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology. By getting attention off the internet, artists do not have to worry about advertising or censorship, because it allows the artists to promote their music however they want. The only thing is that if people are not buying a new artist’s album, then the artist loses out on a lot of money and may not even be able to create another album or they may never become successful.

Even with all the great success, legal downloading has become unpopular with record labels and established artists. “ITunes has become the runaway hit of the music business; selling more than five billion song downloads since it started five years ago. But a growing number of record companies are trying to steer clear of Apple Inc.’s behemoth music store, because they say selling single songs on iTunes in some cases is crimping over all music sales,” according to a Wall Street Journal entry later reported by The Charleston (SC) The Post and Courier.

Artists such as Kid Rock have kept their albums and singles off of iTunes and in doing so have seeing a significant growth in album sales on the Billboards’ Hot 100 chart during a period where the music industry is going on a slight downfall. Atlantic Records has even pulled one of their artists (Estelle) off out of iTunes and has seen her sales go up. Record labels are not the only ones that have a dislike toward legal downloading; artists feel the same. “A number of labels and artist would prefer to see their music sold as an album. Some want the higher profit from a CD, while others feel selling a track at a time is like selling a book by each chapter, effectively reducing its value as a complete work of art” stated in an article on Macintosh News Network. Artists lose out on distribution sales when songs are bought off of iTunes. And since many people tend to only buy the songs they have already heard (most likely from the radio) they do not even bother to listen to the other songs by the artist. Much of the creativity that is put into making an album is becoming a waste.

Artists and record labels are fighting back against illegal downloading. “Individual groups like Metallica, recording companies like EMI, and representatives of the entire industry, like the Radio Industry Association of America (RIAA), sued Napster and other services to stop them from allowing people to trade copyrighted music. The rulings eventually killed Napster. The industry also began to sue individual downloader’s-more than 17,000 by the end of 2005-settled suits with 3,900 of them, according to RIAA,” noted Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology. Not only are record labels and artists suing sites such as Napster, but now they are also suing individuals who download many songs illegally. In doing so, the amount of illegal downloading that goes on may drop but there is still the problem with legal downloading. As for now, artists are coming up with more creative ways to sell albums, such as adding DVD’s about the artist in the album that cannot be found on iTunes, or putting posters in the album covers. But with sites such as Lime Wire and iTunes, there will still be a continuous down fall in album sales.

It is better to buy albums than to download singles. By downloading singles a person will miss out on the other songs that appear on the albums, and with the continuous lack of album sales record labels themselves will begin to go bankrupt. And if there are no more record labels, then there will not be any more artists. “New Media” can lead to bad business, and downloading music off the internet versus buying albums is becoming “bad media.”

For Further Information:

NY Times, January 6, 2006.

Joseph Straubhaar and Robert LaRose. Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology. Thomson Learning Inc. 2008.

“Why some record companies avoid iTunes.” (31 August 2008).

“Artists avoid iTunes; singles discourage album sales” (29 August 2008).

Ashley Badillo is a student at St. Thomas Aquinas College. She is a Communication Arts major who will graduate in the spring of ’11, and hopes to one day work in the Independent Film industry. Ashley still lives at home with her mother and older sister in Lower Manhattan in New York City.

"Hurt Locker" Review

By Alex Bly

“The Hurt Locker,” directed by Kathryn Bigelow, is about an American bomb squad in Iraq. They particularly focus on disarming I.E.D.s (Improvised Explosive Devices) that are planted by terrorists to kill civilians and U.S. military personnel. It is one of the jobs that we rarely hear about and that is what makes the movie so interesting and unique.

According to Yahoo Movies, the director of the film, Kathryn Ann Bigelow, was born in San Carlos, California in 1951. After high school Kathryn studied painting for two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. She also studied Film Theory and Criticism at Columbia University, where she earned a masters degree. Later she went on to direct such films as “Near Dark” in 1987, “Blue Steel” in 1990, “Point Break” in 1991, “Strange Days” in 1995 and “K-12, The Widow Maker” in 2002.

This year, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director, according to IMDB. Her movie “The Hurt Locker” beat her ex-husband James Cameron’s major film “Avatar,” which was expected to win. The official Oscar website shows that she also won against “The Blind Side,” “Inglorious Bastards,” “District 9,” “Up,” “Up in the Air,” “Precious,” “An Education,” and “A Serious Man.”

The reason the win was so unbelievable was that the film was expected by many to be a sleeper film. It was very low budget and only expected to be viewed by people who are truly film fanatics or people interested in this topic. It was truly a win for the underdog this year at the Oscars.

The main character Sergeant James is played by Jeremy Renner. Sergeant James comes in to replace Sergeant Thompson, played by Guy Pearce, who is killed by a remotely detonated explosive in the very beginning of the film. He wears a protective outfit but it does not save him. Sergeant James is not liked by his new squad mates -- Sergeant Sanborn, who is played by Anthony Mackie and Specialist Eldridge who is played by Brian Geraghty. They think he is too brash and not concerned enough about his or their safety.

The reason Sergeant James, the main character is not liked is because he is reckless and takes unnecessary risk. For example, in one part of the movie he doesn’t wear his bomb suit that helps protect him from flying debris and the force of the explosion. He also stays near the bomb until he disarms it even when he is warned that is could blow any second and that he needs to leave.

The terrorists are portrayed as cold and intimidating. In confrontations, they stare down Sergeant James and his bomb squad and ignore their orders. The American soldiers are in constant danger. Their enemies are not just Iraqi soldiers but also some Iraqi civilians, both of whom hate the invading Americans.

Sergeant James is addicted to the danger of being in the bomb squad. He not only shows no fear, but he actually seems to enjoy putting his life at risk. He shows no hate or prejudice against his enemies. He views diffusing the bomb as a challenge of his abilities, and relishes the chance to “defeat” the bombs and traps the enemy has set in his path.

There is one scene that deals with terrorists and not their traps. The main squad at one point encounters friendly British soldiers. While the two teams are having a discussion, an enemy sniper shoots one of the British soldiers. This leads to a heavy fire fight between the terrorists and the American Bomb Squad and British Soldiers. The British take many casualties but in the end the enemy sniper and his team of terrorists are defeated.

One of the themes in the film is decision. The main characters had to decide whether or not to trust these civilians. That had to decide if they thought they would take action to hurt them. In one part of the film a man with a bomb strapped to his chest slowly walks towards the crew and has his hand in the air as if he is coming in peace. He claims the bomb has a timer and they must defuse it quickly or else he will die. They take a while to discuss if they think he is a lying terrorist who will blow up the bomb or a person who actually needs help. In the end the main character decides to help him. It turn out that he is actually a good person who was captured by terrorist. Sergeant James and Sergeant Sanborn try to help him but must leave because they do not have enough time to get it off before the bomb blows up.

In the end of the film, the main character Sergeant James goes home to the U.S. But after a short time with his son, he decides to go back to Iraq once more for another tour of duty. The last scene is him walking towards a bomb to disarm it and the screen shows the number of days he has left as one. Then the number resets, showing he has signed up for another full tour of duty.

What is the reason? I think this is because he actually feels that bomb defusing is something that he is good at. It makes him special because it is the one thing he is better at than anyone else. We hear that he has disarmed over 800 bombs during the war, which seems to be some kind of record. But it is not enough for James. He wants to improve his record.

Overall, I liked the movie a lot. It was entertaining and kept me on the edge of my seat. It was an extremely suspenseful film. I never knew when a character was going to be blown up or shot. For this reason, I would have to give the movie a full four stars out of four.

Alex Bly is a sophmore at Saint Thomas Aquinas College. He currently lives in River Vale, NJ. He is majoring in Criminal Justice.

“The Dark Knight”

By Eddie Prendergast

With content in movies becoming increasingly stupid and lack-luster to say the least, a movie like Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is not just the epic tale of good versus evil, but the concessions that a good man faces in order to reach the greater good under extreme scrutiny. Arguably the best "Batman" movie ever, the movie put new life into a classic character, The Joker, spawning a slew of Halloween costumes and cult-like status for the late Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker was bone-chilling. It was truly an experience to sit and watch Heath transform into a maniacal genius. He is possibly one of the top villains of all time, in my personal opinion. From the first scene of The Joker and his men robbing the bank, it becomes clear that this is going to be a worthy opponent for the caped crusader. Played by Christain Bale, Batman is a step away from perfect. At times Bale's voice seems a little forced but that would really be a judgment call. Aaron Eckhart plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face, Gotham's District Attorney.

Harvey's campaign to wipe out the mob by cutting off their funds runs parallel to Batman's, which is where Police Commissioner Gordon played by Gary Oldman steps in to bridge the gap. In a joint effort to bring down Moronee (Eric Roberts), Gotham's D.A and Batman raid the mob banks only to come up short. The Joker, taking advantage of the mob's misfortune, proposes the idea to eliminate The Bat, plunging the viewers deep into The Joker's quest to take over the city. Nolan and his crew blend the visual and audio worlds seemlessly, making for an extremely believable right there feeling. The post-production work is practically flawless, with only some of Batman's physical impacts sounding slightly exaggerated. The love-story of Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes played by Maggie Gyllenhal doesn't overtake the film which is a plus in my book as movies like "Spider-Man" became a little too fixated on the boy-girl story then the super-hero's story. Nolan's perspective allows the viewer to see the character before they were villains allowing for a better understanding of the characters motifs. Bruce and Harvey's triangle relationship with Rachel really pulls at the heart-strings, especially when The Joker is holding the violin.

"The Dark Knight" doesn't leave much room for a trilogy, as "Batman Begins" offered a solid lead-in to The Joker. Also it seems that Batman could evolve more as a character, perhaps in the life of Bruce Wayne. It wouldn't be accurate to label the performance as stale, as I imagine it difficult to do something different being confined to that suit. However, that is a situation where lemonade could be poured because Bruce Wayne, other than being a cover for Batman, could have more of a story. Mr. Fox, Morgan Freemon, makes for a great tech-guy, as Batman's gear is crucial to his performance against villains. There is a playful chemistry between them that feels very natural. This was not so much the case when Aaron Eckhart was in the hospital scene with Gary Oldman, as I felt that each actor, maybe a mismatch, did not bring their A-game.

"The Dark Knight" offers an incredible story that transcends on so many levels. There is the obvious of good versus evil, but more so is the idea that a good man might have to do something morally questionable in order to achieve a greater good. The Joker in spite of all his insanity really has the right idea. He understands a human being's ability to walk away from someone even after doing something like cutting your face to make your wife feel better about her own. The Joker knows that people for the most part only want you there when they need you, and when they are finished they can't be bothered.

Batman being an idealist believes that people are good, and the scene of the prisoners and civilians capable of killing each other on separate boats is proof for Batman that he was right. Bitter-sweet though because Harvey Dent would succumb to his rage and ambitions for revenge, just like The Joker knew he would. The Joker symbolizes the ideas that money doesn't matter; it's intelligence that is the key. Because of how The Joker played his cards, (no pun intended), he was able to capture the Chinese money launderer and acquire half of the mob's life savings. What was interesting is that he burns his share of the money because the money is useless to a thief, or rather a worker who has cheap supplies. He knows that his position of power, the ability to take the Russian gangsters thugs' right from him shows that the fear of The Joker was much greater than a paycheck. His ruthlessness was all he needed to control the criminals who otherwise would be against him. "The Dark Knight" is a combination of beautiful destruction and twisted morals that somehow seem logical. Comparable to Scarface, movie-goers walked out of the theater wanting to be like The Joker. It is not often that people so unanimously agree to be the bad guy, but I'd be lying if I said I too didn't have the slight urge to introduce a little chaos.

"The Dark Knight" shines during a time when movies seem like jewels and turn out to be cubic zirconium. It saddens me that Heath Ledger will not be able to reprise his role, but maybe seeing it once is what makes it so great. Now in the same breath as James Dean, Ledger will be forever remembered as the murderous-lunatic he embodied so well. Bale and cast were nothing shy of great, making for one of the finest pictures I have had the privilege to watch.

Eddie Prendergast is an undergraduate student at St. Thomas Aquinas College, studying Communications. He plans on interning this summer hopefully in the field of communication or marketing, with a concentration in sports. He's expected to graduate in the Fall of 2010.

Interview with Ann Soltis

By Brittany Pinter

Ann Soltis is an 80-year-old woman living in Clifton, New Jersey. Ann was born August 26, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. She had 8 siblings, 2 girls and 6 boys. Ann said in a recent interview, “Growing up in Germany was very sad, it was a very sad time.” While Ann was growing up the country was in war and many families were living in poverty. The Holocaust was going on and it was very scary being a young girl in Germany. Ann recalled a time when she was at school and there was a parade honoring Hitler. Ann said, “Now looking back on that day I wish I could have thrown a brick at him, with all the horrible things he did.”

When Ann was a teenager she went to nursing school: there she found the love of her life. She met her soon-to-be husband Emil Soltis outside of the library while she was on her lunch break. They both knew it was love at first sight. Emil was a soldier in the war and once his duty was done he took Ann back to America with her.

The couple was married on May 17, 1952 and they came to America in September of 1952. They have three children, two girls and one boy, and eight grandchildren. Ann and Emil had a wonderful marriage and loved to travel. They went on many tropical vacations such as to Hawaii, Aruba and the Bahamas. Ann’s husband died on March 30, 2005 after having a stroke. Ann stays very active and is part of many groups in her church, St. Philips Church in Clifton, NJ. Ann is part of the Rosarian Society, the Prime Timers and she is also a Eucharistic minister. Ann is also an active member of the Red Haters Club. Ann is very close with her children and grandchildren. They threw her a surprise 80th birthday party this past August, at the Brownstone in Paterson, New Jersey. Ann was really surprised when she arrived and was thankful all her children and grandchildren made her birthday special.

Brittany Pinter is a Communications Arts student at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

The Screaming Man

By Brittany Pinter

St. Thomas Aquinas College is a small quiet private college in Sparkill, New York. The school is known for its academics and its one-on-one interaction with students. Over the past few weeks St. Thomas Aquinas College has been nothing but quiet, except for the mysterious Screaming Man on campus. Who is he and why is St. Thomas Aquinas College his screaming grounds?

A few weeks ago, resident students living in the McNelis Commons reported spotting a strange man walking around the wooded areas. Shortly after, students started to hear a scream in the late night and early morning hours. Amanda Nathan, a dorm resident, said, “The scream is terrifying. It is not a normal sounding scream. That man is scary.” She and her roommates were among of the first students to hear and report this screaming man.

A few weeks ago, students started to notice a strange man walking around in the wooded areas in the back of the 3 building dorm area. At first no one thought anything of it, but when he started to appear more and more often some people got concerned. Natalie Colon became concerned when she was coming back late at night from her team practices and had to walk past the woods. Once she found out the man kept lurking in the woods, she stated, “Even though I’m an athlete, I still won’t be able to take down a six-foot-tall man.” Natalie and her teammates all started to become worried since they have late night and early morning practices that they all walk to.

Many of the students thought the episode of the man lurking in the woods would soon end but little did they know, he would start to cause more worries. Students, mostly girls living in the 3 building, started to hear more screams late at night and in the early morning hours. At first many students thought it was a student joking around, but once the screams went on for over a week everyone became aware this wasn't a prank.

Christine Handy had heard rumors of the strange man screaming at night but she never really believed it was true. One night last week she and her roommates were woken up by the screams. Christine said, “This scream is like no other, it is a terrified scream. I’m actually scared this man might do something crazy.” Christine and her roommates called STAC security right away along with students who heard the screams too. When security got to the scene, there was no one to be found. Over the next few days the screams were reported not only near the 3 building in the McNelis Commons but also in the Aquinas Village dorms, which are located on the other side of campus.

As more and more students found out about this screaming man, many rumors started to circulate. Some students heard this man was walking around campus with a backpack and a rope in his hand. Other students were saying the man is suffering from post-war syndrome. With all different rumors going around school, many students became very worried.

As the issue progressed, the Dean of Residence Life, Norman Huling, and the head security officer discussed how to handle the situation. Many students felt like security around the dorm areas was not enough. The Orangetown Police was also involved with the situation and officers searched the wooded areas frequently. According to the Campus Safety Director Jim Nawock, “We have taken several steps. We have placed security officers in personal cars placed outside of the 3 building.” Mr. Nawock had also responded to many phone calls and emailed to concerned parents. Many parents were happy to hear the school was taking proper precautions. Mr. Huling also sent out an email so all resident students giving out safety tips such as, “Walk with a buddy and keep campus security’s phone number in your cell phones.” After the emails were sent, many students were relieved about the actions by the campus.

Currently the campus security is still looking for the screaming man, but he has still not been found. Lately the screams have stopped but there is still high security around campus. Thankfully, none of the students and staff got hurt during all of the commotion and campus security will continue to be on-the-watch for the infamous screaming man.

Brittany Pinter is a 20-year-old sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College. She is from Clifton, New Jersey and is majoring in Communication Arts. Brittany eventually wants to be a special events planner and plan many exciting events.

Disney World, a Place Where Dreams Come True

By Laura Jones

Imagine a place where you can throw your worries out the window, relax, and enjoy everything that it has to offer. There are so many magical things to do that most families can’t fit in, in one week. At Disney World, people of all ages can have fun. Between the four theme parks, two water parks, and many other thrilling attractions, everyone can find their own little happy place. Disney World really is where “dreams come true,” and if you want to feel like a kid again, this is definitely the place to go.

Last summer I went on an eight day vacation to Disney World for my fourth time with family and friends. We all are well over the age of 18 and still had a blast. There is no such thing as being too old for Disney. We spent the entire day in the parks, from 10am-10pm. It sounds crazy, and extremely tiring, but it was completely worth it because we got to spend every minute of every day enjoying what Disney World had to offer. No time was wasted and our feet may have been a little sore at the end of the day, but no one seemed to mind.

The best thing about Disney resorts is all the discounts and advantages that are included. There are plenty of deals and you can save a significant amount of money on park passes. If you purchase a “Park Hopper” pass, it can last up to five days and entitles you to go to any theme park, any day throughout the duration of your stay. If you decide that you want an extra day or two, as a guest at any Disney resort, you can buy an extra day for about five dollars per person! It sounds unreal, but just last summer I was able to do this.

Disney World in the summer is the most popular time for most families to go because children are out of school, but you have to keep in mind that it is extremely hot. Be prepared to sweat and deal with Florida sun’s strong heat. During this time of travel, you also have to remember that there will be very long lines for attractions. Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, too. If you don’t mind the hot weather, then vacationing to Orlando, Florida during the summer is perfect for you. If you choose to vacation in the winter months, you will definitely experience cooler temperatures. However, whatever month you choose to visit Disney World will guaranteed be a memory that will last forever.

There’s so much to do and there are so many choices at Disney World, it’s hard to make decisions. Animal Kingdom, one of Disney’s newest theme parks, is divided into seven areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, and Dinoland. According to Disney World’s website, this park shows Walt Disney’s passion for nature and conservation, and it leads the way in animal care, education, and research. It is so unique because it holds 1,700 animals from 250 species, across 500 acres of land. The most popular attraction is the Kilimanjaro Safari, which is so much better than the one at Six Flags Great Adventure. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest animal-themed park in the world! Here’s a fun fact from the Disney World website: Did you know that to keep 1,000 animals happy it takes about 3 tons of food a day? That’s a four and a half year supply for the average person.

Magic Kingdom, a fairy tale wonderland, is spread out across 107 acres through each of these magical lands: Main Street U.S.A, Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown Fair, and Tomorrowland. One of the most popular attractions at Magic Kingdom is the “It’s a Small World” ride and Cinderella’s beautiful castle, where at one point in time, guests were allowed to dine inside it. You can travel through this theme park while really putting your imagination to the test. There are parades that occur daily such as the “SpectroMagic” and “Celebrate a Dream Come True”, as well as nightly fireworks. Here’s another fun fact from the Disney World website: Did you know that Walt Disney wanted to be sure that the business of the park would never intrude on the show, so he had built approximately 1.5 miles of Utilidors-the access tunnels beneath Magic Kingdom?

Epcot is the theme park at Disney that is sprawled out over 300 acres, twice the size of Magic Kingdom, and is divided into two parts: Future World and the World Showcase. Future World is full of attractions that are inspiring and educational and has a wide variety of shows as well. According to the Disney World website, Epcot focuses on innovations and technological advancements. The icon of Epcot theme park is called Spaceship Earth and looks like a huge silver golf ball with an actual ride inside it. The World Showcase features shops, attractions, and restaurants that portray 11 countries including: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. This park also has nightly fireworks called “IllumiNations: Reflections of the Earth.” Epcot is a place you won’t want to miss! Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that while Walt Disney was generating new ideas for Disneyland Park in California, he thought about building an International Street? That idea grew to become the concept behind the World Showcase area in Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios, formerly known as MGM Studios, is an amazing theme park that offers behind-the-scenes opportunities of Hollywood. This park has action shows, breathtaking attractions, and backstage tours. According to the Disney World website, the Hollywood attractions date back all the way to the 1930s and 1940s in the four areas of Hollywood Studios. One of its newest attractions is the American Idol Experience where you can sing up on stage and audience members vote for you. This park is one that makes you feel like you’re up close and personal with Hollywood fame. Here’s a Hollywood Studios fun fact: Did you know that the icon of Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park is a 122-foot-tall blue and gold sorcerer Mickey hat, like the hat Mickey Mouse wore in the 1940 classic Disney film Fantasia?

Whichever path you choose while vacationing in Disney World, you are going to have a magical and memorable experience. Walt Disney World is truly a place where dreams come true, for people of all ages. Embrace this imaginative and delightful place in sunny Orlando, Florida, and you’re guaranteed to experience a vacation you will never forget.

Laura Jones is an undergraduate student at St. Thomas Aquinas College, majoring in Communications and minoring in Performing Arts. She plans on getting an internship this summer with a radio station and hopes to pursue a career in the radio, television, or magazine industry, while singing on the side.

College Tips

By Ali Reap

College years are probably the most fun, yet most stressful of a person’s life. There are some tips that incoming students who will be living on a campus should know about college life that many people find difficult adjusting too. College students must balance things such as homework, studying, sports, partying, sleep and maintaining good grades. Many students find it hard to find time, and often put too much time into some of these activities.

Moving into a dorm room is a life changing experience, and often some of the best years of a young adult’s life. You are living on your own, without parental supervision, so as much as it is fun, it is often a hard environment to sit down and do homework. Buying a planner is the first step to advising this problem. It is some where to write down everything you have to do every day, and most colleges sell them in their book store or you could get it at pretty much any local stationary store. If you know when something is due you are more likely to make the time to get it done. You have to make sure you actually use it, because you will find it extremely helpful to have written down all your assignments so you can get them done on time. The planner must be brought to every class so you don’t forget to write down anything, and as soon as the teacher tells you the assignment, or you see it on the board write it down immediately, so you don’t forget to do it.

Another smart idea if you are living on campus is to take advantage of the library hours. The library is a perfect place to study. Studying in a dorm room could become very difficult, especially for the people who live in rooms with three or four people or even a house where distractions could occur. The library is the perfect place to get away from distractions that just prolong your homework period. You can just go to the library, focus and surprisingly get it done much sooner. When working on a project with a partner or group of people or even by yourself you will find the library a useful place to get this done. The library is also a place that is often full of help if you need it for an assignment. There is most often a media specialist who works in the library who will help you with any research you need, as well as assisting in finding any books, magazines, or websites you may need. The library is usually open pretty late, and weeks of finals and midterms the library hours are usually extended.

Another useful tip for living at college is to eat right. Eating right is extremely important for a college student because it gives you energy. Energy is important for a busy college student, especially when you have lack of sleep and need to stay focused for the day. Eating right will enhance your ability to think and do work, as well as have the energy to stay up and do it. The cafeteria is a hard place to make healthy decisions because often the better tasting things are the fattier things. You must be careful of the “Freshman Fifteen,” which is often said because freshman students typically have a hard times adjusting to making the right food decisions in the cafeteria, and often gain as much as fifteen pounds. Gaining weight is usually something people do not want to do, so make the healthier decision as often as possible. Of course you are going to be expected to treat yourself once in a while, but that is typical.

Reading is one of the most important things to do in college. You will get tons of reading assigned guaranteed, but if you actually complete it all, it will help you out a lot. You will save yourself a lot of time and effort when it comes time to write a paper or take a test. Text book chapters are probably among the hardest things to read, because usually it is just fact after fact and it is a lot to take in at once. If you spread out your reading time, it makes it a lot easier to retain the information and actually learn it. Reading will not only strengthen your knowledge in that class but it is also healthy for the mind to read.

Sleep is probably the most important part of college. Sleeping is what every college student loves to do but often does not get enough of. Sleep is one of the body’s main source of energy, and often when living at school it is easy to stay up late with roommates and friends on nights were you need to get up early. Try as best you can to save your late nights for the weekends and get as much rest during the week as you can. Lack of sleep leads to falling asleep during class, and it lowers your immune system so you are more susceptible to getting sick.

Going to class is the last advice I could give to a college student. Some schools give a certain amount of days you can miss before it starts to affect your grade and others schools don’t; sometimes it depends on the teacher. Sometimes teachers tell you that if you miss class then it is your loss, and they are totally right. Missing class is necessary at time, but all I could tell you is to avoid it as much as you can because going to class is extremely necessary. By going to class you have the chance to ask questions, have group discussions, and learn hands on about the information you are learning. If you do not go to class, or you miss often, then you are more likely to get a bad grade in that class.

College will be some of the best years of your life. Tips on studying, sleeping, eating, planning, going to class, and any other strategies friends or family could tell you from experience would be worth considering. Going to college is a privilege and remember that there are people in this world who would die to go to college, so take advantage of your opportunity. I wish you all the best of luck with your studies!

Ali Reap is an undergraduate student at St.Thomas Aquinas College. She is studying Communications with a focus in Journalism. She hopes find an internship she greatly enjoys. She aspires to become a journalist or a photographer.

Media’s Effect on Society: From Beauty Ads to Mean Girls

By Layla Connelly

Television, movies, and magazines; are they just entertaining us? Or feeding our media addiction? Americans are addicted to the gossip and lives of celebrities. Every move they make is either recorded or documented, and we are more then caught up in this frenzy. We read and watch every moment of their lives, but is it just simply entertainment? Or is affecting young girls? Girls are becoming women and mothers younger than ever before. Thirteen year olds are giving birth, it has recently become an epidemic, and basically, babies are having babies! With sex being advertised everywhere, teens are being brainwashed and doing things they are not ready for. Between everyone on television being beautiful, skinny, and provocative, in addition to television shows based on teenagers being promiscuous without suffering consequences, such as Gossip Girl and the O.C., who is to be blamed?

The media puts extreme emphasis on weight and beauty. The desire to imitate the looks of these women can take a harsh toll on young girls self esteem. They stress themselves out about not having the ideal body, and diet until they can fit in to a double zero. They wear make-up and outfits that would generally be worn by older girls; this draws a certain attention to them -attention that girls at that age should not be getting. This makes it hard for people, especially males to determine the age of the teens. The older the girls look the more enticing they become to men which is when many problems arise.

Pressure to be in shape and to be beautiful is not only applied by males, it is also applied by other girls, such as the popular girls. Popularity is usually not based on how kind or funny a person is, but on how pretty they are, and what they wear. Girls try to imitate the fashion they see in magazines and television, once again, the media is influencing young girls, basically in every aspect of their lives. Girls can be vicious during their teen years. They can be rude, hurtful, and extremely mean towards each other. For the duration of this time period, girls find it crucial to have a clique and be in the right social circle. They will go to extremes to be popular, even to the point that they sacrifice themselves. Some girls change in to a complete different person. A perfect example of this behavior would be the movie “Mean Girls” starring teen star Lindsey Lohan. Lindsey played the role of a girl who completely changed her identity to fit in with the popular girls, and to get the cutest guy at school. Throughout the movie she, and the popular girls made several references to the pop culture world that we live in. The entire movie relates to this topic, however, in one scene, one of the popular girls’ younger sister, who cannot be older then maybe eight years old, is suggestively singing and dancing in front of the television imitating the celebrity she is watching, it shows just how young girls start.

For young girls with low self esteem, male attention is very important, and sometimes it is easier to gain then finding a clique that accepts you. At such a tender age, vulnerability is common, leaving girls to wear their emotions on their sleeves. When girls get attention from males it can make them feel better about themselves, this gives men the power. As well as being vulnerable, young girls tend to be naive because they have not had the life experiences that most have had. A young naive girl may believe everything and anything she is told by a man, in hopes of being loved or even admired. This is where manipulation can play a major role. Older boys or men can take complete advantage, and mentally or physically abuse the teens. They can convince them to have sex, even if they are not ready.

Virginity is something that was once sacred and precious, but now teens are losing their virginity younger and younger. The danger in that goes beyond just morals, but instead it can be a life altering mistake or health hazard. Pregnancy is very common in our society today, and with the young celebrity mothers, such as the sixteen-year-old mother Jamie Lynn Spears, it is only going to be more accepted. The teen birth rate has increased in twenty-six of the fifty states. However, pregnancy is not the only concern; STD’s have recently been spread like mad. Every one in four teen girls have an STD. That statistics show that seventy-five percent of teens have had sex before they turn twenty years old, and one in three get pregnant. Only fifteen percent of young females report keeping their virginity until they are twenty-one.

My reason for believing that the media has a strong impact on teens today, besides the fact that sex sells is because in society today, sex is everywhere. Whether it is a men’s magazine or a music video with video vixens half dressed, the sex appeal is there. However, sex did not always sell. In the 1950’s sex was not advertised as it is today, it was more personal and private act, and teen pregnancy was rare. It has since gone from thirteen percent in 1950 to seventy nine percent in the year 2000. Since 2000, teen pregnancy has only gotten worse.

I believe this drive to know more comes from being a teenage girl growing up in this generation. I cannot honestly say I don’t keep up with the media and the celebrities, because I do. I am no fanatic like some, but I do have an understanding of what is going on. I was also a young girl who did have very low self esteem and was insecure, so a lot of this I can relate to. I can understand the reasoning behind some girls' concerns and actions. I also have many friends who are teen mothers, and I see firsthand how hard it can be. They become a mother before then can even get into a bar. They have responsibilities I could never handle, there’s no more going out on the weekends for them, or hanging out with friends. It is all about their baby and doing what they have to for their child. Some of my friends can’t even go to school because they have no time; their lives consist of working and taking care of their baby. I do not think that is anyway for a teenager to live. Although, I respect them very much for their decision because they made a mistake and they realized that and have owned up to it. They are being responsible and mature in this situation because many girls get abortions to avoid the life changing decision; 1.29 million abortions were recorded in 2002.

I think the media should be more aware of this issue. If they do continue to advertise sex as they have been, and they will, they should make it a point to broadcast the consequences. Tyra Banks tries to help teens on her talk show by helping them gain self esteem, and letting them know the dangers of their actions, as well as how harsh and unrealistic the media can be. However, she was a runway model for years and is still a curvaceous beautiful woman who is admired. Therefore, I feel as if she constantly contradicts herself, because she is also the producer of the show “True Beauty” and “Americas Next Top Model.”  But she is the only celebrity who comes to mind when I think about who is out there to help the little girls in this country remain little girls. I think more celebrities should take some responsibility for this epidemic and try to do something about it.

Layla Connelly is a Psychology major at St. Thomas Aquinas College. She lives with her family in New York City when she is not at school and will be entering her junior year at STAC in the Fall semester of 2010.

Volquez Tests the Waters of Purity in Major League Baseball

By Zach Bloom

In the 2008 baseball season, Edinson Volquez emerged as a young star for the Cincinnati Reds. He was a hard-throwing right-hander who won 17 games and made the All-Star team to represent the National League. On Tuesday, Volquez was singled out in a negative way, becoming the first major leaguer to be suspended this season for violating the league’s policy for performance-enhancing drugs, reported

Volquez, a native of the Dominican Republic, was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a male fertility drug. The drug is not a steroid but is banned by baseball because it helps increase levels of testosterone in the body. Experts say that athletes use fertility drugs to compensate for the low levels of testosterone that result from steroid use.

The 26-year-old right-hander is recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery he underwent last August and was placed on the 60-day disabled list at the beginning of the 2010 season. He is not expected to rejoin the Reds until midseason at the earliest. He can serve the suspension from Major League Baseball while continuing his rehabilitation, which is an issue in itself. When asked about the situation, Volquez’s teammate Bronson Arroyo replied, “I’m actually surprised they’re letting him do that.”

In a written statement read to reporters on Tuesday, April 20, Volquez admitted that he used the drug, but claimed that he used the medications in order to help him and his wife have a child. If this sounds familiar, it is because it was a similar explanation to the one given by Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez last May after he was suspended for 50 games for violating the same testing program.

Volquez said in the statement that toward the end of last season, he and his wife looked for medical advice in Cincinnati from a doctor about starting a family. The doctor provided him with prescriptions to treat a medical condition. Volquez did not identify the prescriptions or the medical condition.

In an interview with reporters Volquez stated, “As a follow-up to our original consultation, my wife and I visited another physician in our home city in the Dominican Republic this past off-season. This physician also gave me certain prescribed medications as part of my treatment. Unfortunately, I now know that the medication the physician in the Dominican Republic gave me is one that is often used to treat my condition, but is also a banned substance under Major League Baseball’s drug policy.”

According to an article on, Volquez also said, "I was not trying in any way to gain an advantage in my baseball career. I am embarrassed by this whole situation and apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates, and the entire Reds organization for being a distraction and for causing them any difficulty." reports Volquez’s suspension came about three months after Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig proudly stated that the steroid era in baseball was essentially over. Coincidently, Selig made his statement on the same day infamous slugger Mark McGwire publicly admitted on for the first time that he used steroids while breaking home run records in the late 1990s.

“The use of steroids and amphetamines amongst today’s players has greatly subsided and is virtually nonexistent, as our testing results have shown,” Selig proclaimed in a statement made on January 11, 2010. “The so-called ‘steroid era’ — a reference that is resented by the many players who played in that era and never touched the substances — is clearly a thing of the past.”

As support for his statement, Selig reminded us that very few major league players have been suspended for positive drug tests in recent years. Nevertheless, Volquez’s suspension is still a deep reminder that performance-enhancing drug use has not disappeared from the sport, even if it has declined.

Zach Bloom is a Communication Arts major from New York City. He is pursuing a career in sports broadcasting and/or sports journalism.

The Complete History of World Wrestling Entertainment

By Jared Rosenblum

Professional wrestling, or what is now known as sports-entertainment, has always been a worldwide phenomenon. World Wrestling Entertainment, otherwise known as WWE, is the biggest and most well-known company and is a pop culture icon. Many past and present WWE Superstars, such as Hulk Hogan, Triple H, The Rock, and John Cena have been featured in various television shows and movies. However, the question remains, how did a once small company become so recognized?

WWE started as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation and was promoted and owned by Roderick James “Jess” McMahon. Jess McMahon was known as a boxing promoter in the early 1900’s but it wasn’t until he got together with former pro wrestler, Joseph Raymond “Toots” Mondt that he became famous as a promoter of pro wrestling. Not a lot is known about the early history of CWC except that it joined with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in 1953.

In 1953, Jess’s son Vincent J. McMahon was brought in to take over for his father and promote the CWC in the northeast territory. In a short amount of time Vince, Sr. and Toots Mondt controlled 70% of the NWA’s booking and started a wrestling revolution.

In 1963, the NWA Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion was “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers and because wrestling was very territorial Rogers was to travel to every territory to defend his title. Mondt rarely let Rogers leave the northeast territory, thus making the rest of the NWA territories very unhappy. When Rogers lost the NWA Championship to Lou Thesz in Toronto on January 24, 1963, McMahon and Mondt left the NWA in protest and formed the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) with Rogers as their world champion.

On May 17, 1963, Bruno Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers for the WWWF title and his reign lasted seven years, eight months, and one day, making him the longest reigning WWWF champion of all time. Some of the great stars at this time were Gorilla Monsoon, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Pedro Morales, and Ivan Koloff, just to name a few. But it wasn’t until 1980, after the promotion became the World Wrestling Federation, that wrestling became something more.

In 1980, Vincent K. McMahon, who is still the owner, took over for his ailing father and began an expansion process that eventually changed wrestling forever. McMahon’s first step was signing Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Jesse Ventura. Hogan had national recognition for appearing in Rocky III and became the WWF Champion on January 23, 1984, which is believed to be the day that Hulkamania was born. McMahon also teamed up with a small upstart television network named MTV to feature his wrestling promotion. Celebrities such as Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T joined in and became a part of the action and started the era known as “The Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection”. Wrestling had reached an all time peak and McMahon wanted to capitalize it with a mega event to encompass it all.

WrestleMania became the event that shook wrestling to its foundation. WrestleMania featured spectacular matches such as Andre The Giant vs. Big John Studd and a women’s championship match between Wendi Richter, accompanied by Cyndi Lauper against Leilani Kai. The main attraction of WrestleMania was Hulk Hogan and Mr. T facing off against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff with Muhammad Ali as a special guest referee. Other well known figures that appeared at the extravaganza were Liberace and Billy Martin. WrestleMania was a huge success and is an event and tradition that continues to this very day.

McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation had become a pop culture icon. WWF sold out arenas and stadiums everywhere they went and the wrestlers were looked at as heroes and role models, especially Hulk Hogan. However, in the early 90’s, a scandal broke out that nearly crippled the WWF and changed its place in pop culture.

McMahon was charged with distributing steroids to his employees and taken to trial. This put wrestling in a bad light and caused the popularity of the WWF to fall. However, McMahon was ultimately acquitted of the charges and decided to promote wrestling differently. Instead of pushing larger, muscular wrestlers, McMahon pushed smaller, agile and more technical stars such as Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. “The New Generation,” as this era was called, became much more family oriented but the business fell into a lull until the late 90’s.

World Championship Wrestling, WCW, became WWF’s main rival and WCW started to push the envelope. By centering storylines around sex and adult subject matter, WCW was looked as being a breath of fresh air to WWF’s family orientated programming. In order to compete with WCW and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), WWF decided to go in the same direction with their “Attitude Era.” Stone Cold Steve Austin became WWF’s next big star. Austin was a beer-drinking, foul-mouthed, rebellious wrestler who gained a huge fan following. Austin started doing things that normal people wished they could do, such as beating up their boss. Vince McMahon eventually became an on-screen character and feuded with a large number of his own wrestlers in storylines, but perhaps his most famous rival was Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Austin-McMahon rivalry became the centerpiece of the “Attitude Era” and in the end, put WCW and ECW out of business in 2001.

In 2002, WWF became WWE after a lawsuit by the World Wildlife Fund over the use of the letters WWF. WWE was now more focused on the entertainment value and less about the actual wrestling, which forced a number of fans to look for other promotions. Recently, WWE has started to notice that fans want to see more wrestling and are slowly evolving to please those fans. Two matches that supports this are Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV and XXVI.

While wrestling doesn’t have a clean record, it is definitely a great mix of sports and entertainment. Many people may not realize how much their daily interactions are wrestling related. Many people can be heard saying “suck it,” which stems from WWE’s D-Generation X. This just shows that wrestling is such an influential form of entertainment and should not be denied its place in pop culture.

For Further Information

Shields, Brian, and Kevin Sullivan. WWE Encyclopedia.
Bradygames, 2009. Print.

Jared Rosenblum is an undergraduate student at St. Thomas Aquinas College, majoring in Communications. Currently a junior, he plans to work in some fashion with the WWE coordinating their live events.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Death of Lech Kaczynski

By Michael Flynn

A Russian airliner carrying the top levels of Poland’s military and political leadership crashed in a Russian forest last Saturday. Ninety-six people, including Polish president Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria, died a short distance from the site of the Katyn forest massacre. They were traveling to the site for a ceremony commemorating the slaughter of 22,000 Poles at the hands of Soviet secret police, an event that has hurt relations between Russia and Poland for 70 years, according to the Associated Press.

Across Poland, people lowered flags to half-staff and taped black ribbons in their windows. Monks rang the Zygmunt Bell at Krakow’s Wawel Cathedral, which is the burial spot of Polish kings; the tolling is reserved for times of intense grief.

Besides the president and his wife, the national bank president, deputy foreign minister, head of the National Security Office, deputy parliament speaker, Olympic Committee head, civil rights commissioner and at least two presidential aides and three lawmakers were on board, the Polish foreign ministry said.

Some on board were relatives of the officers slain in the Katyn massacre. Another victim was Anna Walentynowicz, whose firing in August 1980 from the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk sparked a workers' strike that spurred the creation of the Solidarity freedom movement. "This is a great tragedy, a great shock to us all," former president and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa said.

"This is unbelievable, this tragic, cursed Katyn," Kaczynski's predecessor, Aleksander Kwasniewski, said on TVN24 news. It is "a cursed place, horrible symbolism," he said. "It's hard to believe. You get chills down your spine." Pilot error in heavy fog is being blamed for the crash, officials said.

A week later on April 18, Kaczynski was buried. After a solemn mass, two gun carriages bore the coffins of Kaczynski and his wife Maria, draped in the red-and-white national flag, through winding streets to their final resting place in Wawel Cathedral high above Poland's ancient capital. Thousands of Poles chanted "Lech Kaczynski, we thank you" and waved flags and banners of the Solidarity movement which the combative nationalist and devout Roman Catholic once helped to build, reported Reuters.

Their coffins were laid to rest in the cathedral's crypt, a hallowed spot for Poles usually reserved for kings, leading poets, and national heroes. They will be made available for public viewing and many of the people gathered in the Krakow's old town for the funeral ceremony started forming a long line to see the crypt.

People gathered by the funeral route were applauding when the Kaczynski family, including the late president's little granddaughter, were moving toward the Wawel hill. Other mourners included the presidents of Russia, Germany, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Georgia.

U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were among those forced to abandon plans to attend Kaczynski's funeral. They were unable to travel because of the Icelandic volcano ash cloud which grounded most European flights. "President Kaczynski was a patriot and close friend and ally of the United States, as were those who died alongside him, and the American people will never forget the lives they led," Obama said in a statement, noted by the Washington Times.

Michael Flynn is an undergraduate at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He is studying Communications and works at the campus radio station, WSTK, as a DJ and Program Director. He hopes to work in radio after college, but if that doesn’t work out he’ll probably just open up a coffee house somewhere.

Gender by the Book: Why Can't Men and Women Work Together?

By Jessica Fischer

Women are from Venus and men are from Mars. Or at least that’s what John Gray states in his book titled just that, about how to improve the communication between the two genders. We are clearly different, and learning more about the opposite sex and seeing their understanding of things can only strengthen the relationships we have with others.

A very long time ago, when we were hunters and gathers, men and women had different strengths of what they could do and how they could provide for their family. Men are more apt to be colorblind than women, so that made them better at hunting. They also have better vision looking straight on. Women, on the other hand, have better peripheral vision, which allowed us to be better gatherers, according to

Before the Industrial Revolution, women still had an equal part of working with men. Usually husbands and wives worked interdependently on their farm together. After factories emerged, more men went to work outside the home. Men’s working environment and separateness led to an impersonal, public, and utilitarian attitude. Women remained at home and became more directly associated with the personal, the private, the nurturing, and the emotional. References to women as weak and decorative, inferior, negative, and trivial emerged at that time. After the Industrial Revolution, women were wanted in the factories to work, because they were cheaper and more obedient than men. This was the first time women started working on their own. Though women’s work was greatly needed during World War II, when the war ended, women were fired from their jobs because the men returned home. They were told to be housewives and the caretakers for the family. This stereotype of what women were in the 1950s still follows us to this day.

Women are the nurturers of the family. When it comes to cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children, it’s considered the “woman’s job.” Now why is it that after advancing so far in our culture, that we still think this way? Why can’t a man clean the bathroom? Why can’t a man cook dinner? Why can’t a man change a baby’s diaper? What it all comes down to is gender stereotypes and what society expects men and women to be. A diligent housewife had dinner on the table precisely at the moment her husband arrived from work. Associated Content reported that a wife was a "good" wife only if she carried out her man's every order and agreed with him on everything.

The stereotypical woman is soft-spoken, emotional, subjective, self-effacing by reflecting uncertainty and humbleness, and complaint through submissiveness. The stereotypical man is an ineffective listener, emotionally inexpressive, categorical and certain in his language use, and dominating in discussions.

We are brought up to be the stereotypical women and men from the day we are born. How “girly” or “manly” we are is how we were taught to be. I feel children grow up following the Social Learning theory the most. The Social Learning Theory is the theory that people learn new behavior through overt reinforcement or punishment, or via observational learning of the social factors in their environment. We see our parents, friends, and everyone else around us, and since they are the closest people to us, that’s who we learn from. Boys play with toy guns, cars, and anything that causes destruction. Girls play with dolls, play house, or school. We don’t even realize how we conform to society. I played house all the time when I was young. No wonder the boys don’t play house. The house is considered the “woman’s place,” so why would they find that enjoyable. Even playing school is another gender related activity of fun because women are primarily considered as school teachers, so of course, us girls love to play it. Little girls are told to be ladylike and dainty. Little boys are expected to make messes.

Neither women nor men have it easy. We all have to conform to what society tells us to be. Unfortunately in our society a lot of the times we represent the Cultivation theory. Everything we see on television, movies, and magazines is fantasy, but is portrayed as if it was our real lives and that’s the way we are supposed to live. In the media alone, we are told what the norm is and what’s not. In every magazine, there are advertisements that are degrading to women. Women are reduced to mere body parts and it’s scary. Little girls see these advertisements and this is what they think they have to look like. Little boys see these advertisements and these are the only people they want to date when they get older.

Jean Kilbourne, author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, states that advertisements make women think that if we aren’t beautiful, it’s because we aren’t trying hard enough. What it all comes down to is that sex sells. Companies are willing to put women in passive and sexual positions, just to sell their product. Whether it’s just certain women’s body parts being shown, or their mouths being covered, it’s a way of saying how women don’t have a say in society. They are passive and their words are not important. The media also makes it seem that men are the reason for women’s existence. Women are portrayed as not worthy if they aren’t attractive and don’t have a man. We live to pleasure men and without them we’d be nothing. We are ready for sex all the time, whenever a man wants it. That’s a far cry from what the truth is, but that’s what advertisements portray.

Men also have it hard trying to comply with what society tells them to be. Men have to be masculine and not wimps. If men see other men crying, it’s a sign of weakness. Men show dominance, control, power and status. If a man is seen doing anything that’s not manly, they may be considered gay, which is a big deal for heterosexual men. Men get respect and admiration from others through violence. They wear a mask of masculinity to intimidate others. To be a respected man, you have to be tough, strong and independent.

My perception of my own gender has changed a little bit. The media does portray women in a not so desirable way, but I do think that some women are to blame. With all the music videos and the way women are perceived as sex objects for the men, it’s the women’s faults for jumping into that position to be treated like that. Maybe if more women stood up for themselves and said that we are not going to be perceived in this manner anymore, maybe something can get done.

My perception of the opposite gender has changed. Instead of getting mad at certain things someone of the opposite sex does, I realize that’s the way a majority of them are. Even just learning the fact that men and women communicate for different reasons is enough in itself to understand why we are so different. According to Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, women do rapport talking and communicate to form relationships with others. Men do report talking and communicate to exchange information. The reason why a man may not be listening to a woman’s twenty minute story about how her best friend did something wrong, is because they listen for the facts and the big picture.

If men and women can meet somewhere in the middle, we would all have better relationships with each other. If more men and women were subjected to this knowledge about how we can better communicate with one another, who knows how many relationships would be more successful. If we all communicate better, we will eventually get what we want, whether it’s compromising or just understanding that our jobs as men and women should be equal. No one person should do the cooking, cleaning, or taking care of the baby. It’s an equal responsibility. We, as a society, really need to reevaluate the stereotypes we have for women and men, because for women it’s a chore, but for men it seems to be a crutch.

Jessica Fischer is a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas College, where she is getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. She will be graduating in May 2011. While attending school, Jessica works as a freelance teleprompter operator.

Monday, April 5, 2010

With Age Comes Great Partying

By Amanda Youngblood

Sparkill, NY – People from across the country have different ways of celebrating their birthdays. When it comes to their 21st birthday, many people plan to have a big party. For John Capozzi, a student at St. Thomas Aquinas College, he decided to go to Las Vegas, Nevada for his 21st birthday this past August for a week. He knew this place had all the elements he was looking for – a crazy night life, public drinking, and free taxi rides to the hotel if he was too intoxicated and did not have enough money.

Capozzi decided to bring three of his closest friends from back home, Phil, Brett, and Andrew to Las Vegas. He was able to pay for the trip with the help of his parents and the money he saved into his vacation fund. However, before the partying could ensue, Capozzi and his friends had to sit on a Delta plane for two hours in New York. After the wait, the men were in Minnesota waiting for their connecting. Unfortunately, the flight was postpones due to poor weather. As a result, the four friends were given cots by the employees and had to sleep on the floor in an airport in Minnesota. By seven in the morning, a plane was ready to take them to their destination and within three hours they were in the “City of Lost Wages.”

The men stayed at the New York New York hotel because Capozzi “didn’t want to be too far from home,” he said, “plus, they [had] a rollercoaster and a coyote ugly bar.” After checking in, they prepared for their first night in Vegas. Wanting to look like VIPs, they went to the clubs dressed in suits. Capozzi said he and his friends spent up to $300 each on alcohol for themselves and other club goers. The next morning, he woke up still in his suit, but in another person’s room. When asked if he knew the people from last night, Capozzi laughed and said, “No, I just woke up and told the people I would see them later.”

After meeting up with his friends in the room he paid for, they decided to utilize two things that Vegas is known for, alcohol and gambling. Before the group of friends left their hotel room, they decided to have a few drinks. When they arrived at the casino, they sat at a Black Jack table where Capozzi taunted the dealer throughout a couple of games. Fortunately, the dealer did not feel the need to remove him from the table, unlike a manager who Capozzi later entered on his trip. “We were drinking the whole day before we went to an all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner,” Capozzi recaps. When they arrived for dinner, one of his friends dropped a plate of food, which upset an employee. When the manager was informed, he told the group of men to leave the restaurant because he said they were drunk and disorderly.

Nights of clubbing and gambling continued until the last day. Before the plane ride home, Capozzi and his friends decided to go sight-seeing. They thought it would be a good idea to take in the sights of Las Vegas during the day while not under the influence. Capozzi told the paper that the flight back home to New York on American Airlines was better than the flight to Nevada. No bad weather provided them from catching their connecting flight. When asked if there was something special he took back home with him, Capozzi said, “I invented a new drink, but I don’t want to tell anyone about it yet until I get it patented.”

Capozzi is looking forward to his next trip back to Las Vegas for another week of intense partying and a memorable time with his friends celebrating their birthdays.

Making the Cut: STAC House Band Singer

By Amanda Youngblood

Sparkill, NY – Kathleen Roepken, a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC), received a message on Facebook asking students if they would like to try out for STAC’s first house band. Thinking it would be fun if she tried out, she attended the audition. Days later when she opened an e-mail from Professor Martin in her STAC e-mail, Kathleen was shocked and elated at the news that appeared on her screen.

On Wednesday, February 17, Craig Martin, a religion professor at St. Thomas, held auditions for singers to become a part of a band he decided to put together for the school. It was held in the Multipurpose Room from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M. At the audition, there were 15 other students who were trying out. They sung an array of songs ranging from “Use Somebody” by the Kings of Leon to “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benator. Though Kathleen is in STAC Singers and has performed in front of an audience before, she was nervous and admitted, “It’s always good to expect some [competition] because it makes your confidence level raise because you want to do well!”

When it was her time to perform, she sang “Fences” by the rock group Paramore. After everyone performed, they waited in anticipation to learn who was going to be accepted into the house band. Through an e-mail days later, Professor Martin informed Kathleen that she would be one of the lead singers of STAC’s house band. Other people who are in the band are Mike Mitchell, who will play the drums, Dustin Horvath, the bassist, and Professor Martin himself, who will play the guitar. Aside from the professor, the other band members are students at St. Thomas Aquinas. When I asked Kathleen if they were going to have a band name she said, “I don’t know if Craig Martin intends on making a specific name for the band, so if anything he'll stick to 'The STAC House Band.’”

The newly formed band’s first rehearsal will be Wednesday, March 3.  They will be every Wednesday night depending on whether each member of the band is available until the date of their first concert on April 22. The songs they will sing will vary and be chosen by the singers.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Powerful Winter Storms Blow Through Area

By Kevin Phelan

This winter has been one of the harshest, stormiest seasons in recent memory. Strong gusts of wind, freezing temperatures, and several major snow storms have combined to make this one of the most hazardous winter seasons for Rockland County area residents in several years.

Brendan Phelan, a 20-year-old student at Rockland Community College, was one of the early victims this season of the unpredictable weather. During a powerful windstorm in late January Brendan’s car, a 2008 Subaru sedan, was damaged by a falling tree branch while it was parked outside of his house in Tappan, New York.

His passenger side rear view mirror was snapped off by the branch, left dangling by the wires inside, and paint along the hood and the side of the car was scratched off. The damages to the car came to a total of almost $400 to repair.

Brendan feels his luck was especially bad because the car was still relatively new to him; he has had it for less than a year. “Of course the tree had to hit my car and not (my brother’s)” Brendan says, “(He) probably wouldn’t have even cared about the scratches.”

On February 10 a powerful snowstorm hit the Rockland County area, dropping nearly a foot of snow in certain places. Twenty-year-old Amanda O’Connell was on the campus of her school, Saint Thomas Aquinas College, when it hit. Her classes were cancelled but she was still required to move her car from one lot to another in order to allow snow plows through.

A campus security guard was kind enough to give her a ride to her car, but it wasn’t until she got there that Amanda realized that she had nothing with her with which to dig her car out of the snow. For nearly an hour Amanda used her bare hands to remove the eight inches of snow from her car, then switched to using a CD case as an impromptu shovel when she finally could get into her car.

“I think that may have been the absolute coldest I’ve ever been in my entire life,” Amanda said of her ordeal. When Amanda did finally get back to her room she said that she was shivering for almost two full hours before she finally warmed back up.

Another snowstorm hit the area on Friday, February 26; this one even more severe than the one that had struck earlier in the month. Rich Goldberg, the liquor store manager at a Rockland area supermarket, was scheduled to come into work but after looking outside realized there was little chance of him actually making it in.

Rich lives in Monroe, New York, one of the areas most affected by the storm. By Friday morning over two feet of snow had already fallen on Rich’s driveway, and at the end facing the street was a pile of snow built by the plows which stood almost four feet tall. After shoveling for almost two hours Rich’s driveway was finally clear of the snow, but he would be out to shovel again later that night and once again the following morning.

While a fresh snowfall may bring with it a sense of tranquil beauty, it also brings with it the need to be careful when dealing with this hazardous weather.

City Dancers

By Senica Lopez

High heels, sneakers, boots and loafers - these are our dancing shoes. My pace quickens, trying to keep in step with the silent music and the dancers around me. Most of them are professionals. This is a daily dance for many of them.

Throughout my journey from the Bronx to Manhattan, I notice that nearly everyone has memorized their steps. They are quickly moving to the upbeat music within us, silently instructing us to hurry up, “Quickly, quickly now. Right foot, left foot, side step. Now twirl around the bum!” Occasionally there are collisions. Why can't you remember your moves? I want to yell at them. I step left, you step right!

Inside stores and shops, the inherent music slows. Time for the waltz. Our feet glide across the floor as we circle the clothes racks searching for a steal. Once outside, we must be alert and on point, for the music changes promptly. “Quickly now! Step one, step two. Now leap over the puddle!”

Sometimes the music is not within us, but around us. It comes from street corners, boom boxes, subways, and street cars. After my 15 minute intermission on the train, I step out onto the platform that now echoes the salsa music playing from the three-man band. I pass the band, but the music continues to play in my head, making me want to swing my hips just a little bit more as I walk to my next train. A five minute intermission later, the salsa music still playing in my head is replaced by a jazzy tune belted out by an elderly man whose skin clings to his bones for dear life. My pace slows in conjunction with the lazy music.

Outside, a man with a guitar plays a tune of sorrow and regret. My head bowed, I somberly continue on my journey. I am nearing my destination. I am on a street with no music playing, only the music within us all. “Chop, chop!” my instructor reminds me. “Step one, step two. Now duck under the tourist's camera!”

I enter the building, past the double doors and the receptionist filing her nails. There is no music here. I can relax; no more dancing. But as the elevator doors close behind me, I am reminded that the music never stops playing.

Vietnam Veteran Writes It Out

By Melissa Vitiello

“There are no words here / to witness why we fought, / who sent us or what we hoped to gain,” Gerald McCarthy wrote of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. in his poem The hooded legion. A professor of English at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, New York, McCarthy offers, along with fellow writers and veterans Jan Barry and Michael Gillen, a Writing Workshop for Military Veterans and Family Members, which provides a literary outlet for those whose lives have been shaped by war. McCarthy is a committed anti-war activist, and has engaged in actions by Vets for Peace and Vietnam Veterans against the War.

Gerald McCarthy was born in Endicott, New York, as the oldest son of an Italian mother and Irish-American father. He currently lives with his wife Michele and their three sons in South Nyack, New York. McCarthy is the author of War Story (The Crossing Press, 1977), Shoetown (Cloverdale Library, 1992), as well as his latest publication, Trouble Light (West End Press, 2008). His poetry, fiction and criticism have been published in New Letters, Poet Lore, Nimrod, Unaccustomed Mercy: Soldier Poets of the Vietnam War, A New Geography of Poets, as well as several other anthologies and magazines.

Moreover, McCarthy currently teaches an ongoing series of workshops with elementary school students at Blue Rock School in West Nyack, New York, as well as advising workshops with senior citizens at Thorpe Senior Center in Sparkill, New York. McCarthy is the recipient of awards from the National Writers Union and The New York State Council on the Arts, and has been a visiting artist twice at The American Academy in Rome. Every summer McCarthy directs a writing workshop in Tuscany, Italy, with writers Colette Inez and Lynn Lauber.

“I admire how Gerry has dedicated his life to teaching writing to a wide variety of people of all ages and to writing poems about life around him, as he was growing up and as he grows older, warts and all,” said Jan Barry, professor of journalism at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

At age seventeen, McCarthy left home to join the Marines and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. While serving in Vietnam from 1966-67, McCarthy unloaded cargo from ships with the 1st Marines, where afterwards he was transferred to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion in Chu Lai and then Danang. After McCarthy was released from military prison and civilian jail, he pursued the roles of a stone cutter, a shoe factory worker, as well as an anti-war activist before he attended The Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. Soon after, McCarthy enrolled at SUNY Geneseo where he studied with poet Dave Kelly. McCarthy has taught workshops in schools, colleges, migrant labor camps, and Attica Prison.

Barbra Yontz, professor of art at St. Thomas Aquinas College, recalled her first memory of McCarthy at a “College Day” meeting. Individuals were being singled out for reasons such as tenure or being a new addition to the college faculty, but McCarthy was singled out because of a book of poetry he had written. Yontz said that his recognition “made me take notice and I vowed to know more about him.”

“Over the years I have read his poems, seen his effect on students, and witnessed the ways he weaves together the beauty and power of lived experience in his work with his teaching. It is as though stitching together public and personal events through time comes naturally to Professor McCarthy….but then that is the mark of the most well crafted and gifted art. It seems effortless, when in fact it’s not. We are all lifted by his presence at STAC and as a colleague, I am inspired and proud to be even loosely associated with him,” said Yontz.

The Writing Workshop for Military Veterans and Family Members is held the first Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m. at the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) at 521 N. Broadway, Upper Nyack, New York. For more information contact Gerald McCarthy at or 845-570-1410 (cell) or 845-398-4134 (office).