Friday, March 23, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Essay by Hazel M.

Avengers: Infinity War
It’s happening, everyone. The latest addition to the Marvel franchise is only 39 days away, and it’s going to be a big one. The trailer, which came out on Friday showed great promise of a major blockbuster that is going to take Marvel fans on an emotional rollercoaster. With more than 155 million views for the trailer, it seems as if the whole world is looking forward to being blown away. It took 18 movies, starting from the first Iron Man, which was released in 2008, to set up the platform for the Infinity War movie ten years later. The various end credit scenes sprinkled throughout the movies, giving viewers the tiniest taste of the main villain, Thanos, has kept people greedy for more. Every battle, every obstacle, ranging from Loki trying to take over the world in the first Avengers movie, to Peter Quill and his fellow guardians holding the power of the infinity stone together to defeat Ronan the Accuser. Every movie has been a stepping stone through a wild journey of unity, endless action, and sometimes even romance. Although, some viewers might not agree with all the “ships” the directors choose to bring together (cough cough Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter). Infinity War is the climax of a ten year journey, the summit of high mountain.

Looking back now, it’s crazy to see the insane journey that not only the viewers have been through but also the cast. Without them, the Marvel Universe wouldn’t exist, and for many of them such as Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, we probably won’t see them again after Avengers 4 due to contracts ending. However, all those details are still up in the air, so maybe these beloved actors will continue to play their iconic characters. Despite what happens in the future, it’s important to focus on the now. The ‘now’ consists of the most awaited film in years directed completely with IMAX cameras (the first Hollywood film to do so), and fan following so ecstatic to watch it that the pre-sale tickets have already started breaking records. Avengers: Infinity War is going to be one heck of a movie, and hopefully it lives up to all the hype, which let’s be honest, it’s Marvel so it obviously will.  

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Gun Control by Shania Arora

When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student's right to live. All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine.
[Crowd chants] Shame on you
They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.
[Crowd chants] Throw them out”

That was the transcript from Emma Gonzalez’s now famous speech, We Call B.S..
For a continuous eleven minutes, Gonzalez spoke about gun violence and how it affects the world today, especially the teens “who don’t know what they’re talking about”. Gonzalez had brought up several points about the gun control legislation being declined, and more importantly, how the NRA funds many politicians to maintain power within the government. It’s no longer about parties and beliefs, our government officials rely on money for power, to flourish that inner greed that was taught to everyone: “money gets you to places; money buys happiness”.
This article isn’t going to be long for one reason, everything I want to say has already been said, and no one is listening or will listen anytime soon. It’s as if people don’t want to pay attention to the obscene rise is mass shootings. There have been over 9,000 incidents just in the past two months relating to gun violence. 9,000. There shouldn’t be hesitation to a total gun ban or at least automatic weapons. Like Emma had stated, these are senseless tragedies that have no place. We could have eliminated this problem years ago. The first school shooting was in in 1764, when four Lenape Indians invaded a school house and killed a teacher and approximately nine children. From there, every decade from the 1840’s-on have had shootings in American schoolhouses. It started at one, then three, to eight, and now a record of over 100 in the past decade.
These shootings are not simply getting more frequent, but also getting more deadlier.
Recorded, 2,000 plus people have died in a gun related accident in the 2018 year, 500 of them being students. This isn’t acceptable. No student should have to die in an environment where they’re to learn, where they are supposed to be safe. No person should have to die.
The first mass shooting took place in Philadelphia, 1949, after WWII. A 28-year-old veteran, Howard Unrah, had become enraged after a series of events led to a bad day. He was ready to see a blind date, but got stuck in traffic and his date left. He was saddened and angry, stewing in his dark car until 3 am, where he came home to find his apartment fence was broken by one of his neighbors. This broke him. In the night, Unruh made a list of who he planned to shoot, people who had wronged him, and the next day, he shot 13 people in a 20 minute period. Once he was caught, it was discovered the Howard was “mentally unstable”. No one had ever suspected the Veteran to do such a thing. Unrah was a gay man living in the late-forties. He was an abnormal man to society, and he was open about it to the psychologists that examined him. He also stated that he told his only girlfriend that he was gay and she left him when he described himself as a “schizo”.
This goes to show that mass shootings have always been about rage and people who are deemed different from the rest. And this also shows how the least suspecting people are always the one who commit the crime. This was a respected man of the country. So mental health and background checks won’t stop this. No one can read minds. You just have to take all the guns away. I know many don’t believe in this because “of their second amendment rights”, but here’s a reality check: the second amendment was written for the militia, or the local army, not for the commoners. If you live in a dangerous area where crime is high, then I understand if you have a pistol under your pillow at night or if you abide by the open carry law. But we have a military defense, we don’t need to protect ourselves with a rifle. And on that topic, hunting is not a sport, unless you actually depend to the meat to survive (rural areas). If not, then you don’t need to have and arsenal in your basement.
I know this will take time, to even just change school policies, but I know we can get there. Slowly, politicians will realize that the death toll is hurting their career and they’ll want to do something about it. They might start with heavier background checks and schools will probably have a guarded entrance where everyone is searched. Then, possibly, certain guns will be banned and certain people may not be able to get access to weapons anymore. Finally, the second amendment is either changed or removed completely, and we won’t have to deal with this issue anymore. But that’s in an ideal world. Years from now, I hope the legislation will be changed all together because our generation will finally have a say in what’s been going on. We will finally be able to show the adults what we’ve been talking about, and maybe, it will stop for real.
All we can do for now, is keep rallying and saying our piece, because every small action leads into a big change.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky Review by Nina Claudia Soukhanovskii

Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky Review
by Nina Claudia Soukhanovskii
A Tempting Quote:
“I look up at him, and my heart leaps into my throat— I can’t say a word. I want to yell Stop, don’t move! and can’t. And there probably isn’t enough time, anyway, it all happens so fast: Kirill steps over the empty, turns around, and his back goes right into the silver stuff. The only thing I can do is close my eyes” (Strugatsky 31).
Terms to Know:
The Zone- When some aliens visit this planet, they leave behind a “dead” area known as the Zone. It contains many strange things that humans struggle to explain, including random magnetic fields, electric currents, and possible time travelling. Additionally, anyone who enters the Zone carries with them series of bad luck and other effects on themselves and those around them. For example, Redrick’s (the main character’s) daughter grows less human after he continuously visits the Zone. She stops understanding the human language and develops strange animal-like ways.
The Visit/Visitors- This term is used to describe the aliens that “created” the Zone. Once again, science knows little about them and where they came from.
Empty- One of the artifacts that the aliens left behind in the Zone. They are really valuable, and will bring anyone a large pay if brought back. However, one must endure the dangers of the Zone in order to obtain an empty, so that is why not many are up for the challenge.
Golden Sphere- is rumored to grant a wish that you really want from within. Redrick (the main character) and Arthur (who just happened to have come along with him) try to find this so that they can fix the problems that they experience in their lives.
Stalker- Someone who goes to the Zone to hunt for artifacts and other clues. Redrick (the main character) is a stalker, and so are most of his co-workers.
In the beginning, readers are introduced to Redrick Schuhart. He is very easy-going with his life, and often doesn’t see the serious side of things. He enjoys going to the bar and drinking with his friends, despite the seriousness of his position as a stalker, which means he illegally enters the Zone at night to search for valuable artifacts.
We also meet his girlfriend, Guta, who is pregnant. Despite all the scientific research that the children of stalkers are born with strange mutations, Guta states that she wants to keep the baby. Redrik and Guta later get married.
Then, during one of his trips to the Zone, Redrick and his coworker run into a mysterious silvery web and before Redrick can say anything, his coworker, Kiril, steps into the web by accident. This is where the quote I wrote above comes in. Kiril seems to be fine at first, but he dies from a “heart attack” several hours later. The loss of his friend causes Redrick to really think about why he is a stalker.
The next time the readers see Redrick he is part of a “gang” of stalkers, lead under a code name  by Richard Noonan. Certain decisions that he makes anger some, while please others. At this point, he is torn between his family and his work (which leads him to jail at one point) and it seems as if his work is taking over.
In the end, Redrick has to realize that maybe all of the sacrifices he makes for his stalking are not worth it, and he has one last chance to redeem himself. Whether or not he takes the chance, and how he gets it is for the readers to find out.
My Thoughts
This book is a bit slow at first, but I promise you that by the end, all of you will like it. There is also a huge message behind the whole thing that will be revealed at the end. If you don’t get the message, go back and reread the book until you get it. It’s practically impossible to miss. In fact, my favorite part of the book was the last few chapters because of how it all connected. I also enjoyed how the book was broken up into sections and how each little section.
I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. The reason why I didn’t give it full starts was because it might be difficult for some people to pick up on the initial terminology and ideas. That’s why I included a few facts that I thought might be helpful in the beginning of my review. Enjoy!

A discussion on bullying & sexual harassment by Shani Arora

In recent events, serious allegations of sexual misconduct have arisen and taken the spotlight in mainstream media. More recently, the case against Larry Nassar has come into focus. Dr. Nassar was a renowned doctor in the medical community, who slowly led his way up the ranks and became the head doctor who dealt with many of the female Olympic gymnasts. However, it was learned that Nasser had actually been assaulting many of these gymnasts during medical examinations. This was a shock to those who had been oblivious to the obvious: sexual harassment has always been here, and it’s no longer welcome.
This violence has only become so evident after social movements such as “Time’s up”, “Me Too”, or more recently “Cover the Athlete”. The “Time’s up” movement began after a slew of women began to expose their attackers via social media, describing what had been done to them. This came after a year and a half of individual cases discussed on the news. The “Cover the Athlete” began after audience and Olympians from Rio noticed how interviewers would not focus on women’s accomplishments, but their appearance and what they wore. But how does this affect teens? This clearly has no correlation to me or you or any student attending high school.
And yet, it does.
Public schools are notorious for letting people get away with things as simple as opening someone else’s locker to having “fight weeks”. This, however, does not exclude sexual harassment allegations. The provided articles below have given some insight into what girls went through as they progressed in their high school careers. A fourteen-year-old girl last month accused her gym teacher, Jim Whiteaker, of grabbing her butt. The same teacher was accused in 1998, for a similar occurrence, but it was only reported after graduation. Another girl, Shaneiko Cummins, said that had happened to her in May of 2013. The experience was described as “he grabbed my shoulder… I told him to let go… the doctor had diagnosed me with a torn labrum in my shoulder… he told me to no go to the nurse”. The principal had said to not go to police until the district investigated the situation. The investigation never transpired.
In another case, a former teacher of Passaic High School, Jose Maria, engaged in inappropriate conversation and actions with two students, who have now graduated and reported the incidents. Conversely, students are also to blame for the assault taking place. From schools all across the country, girls have reported male classmates of grabbing their breasts and buttocks, and forming gangs to “force [girls] into storage closets and assault them”. Even scarier, elementary school boys creating a Friday ritual of “slap a** Fridays”. In total, from years 2011 to 2015, there were 17,000 reported incidents in the United States. Although this may seem like all the cases out there, many are either scared to report it or might classify it as bullying.
In a way, it does boil down to bullying. “It’s just locker room talk” or “you’re just a girl; you don’t know what you’re doing” are all forms of verbal and emotional harassment. So, why don’t we treat it like bullying? Thankfully, schools are beginning to recognize these situations. Now, teachers are promoting the idea of not letting someone ‘into your space’ without your permission. Or even more directly, teaching them to not blame the victim. New Jersey administrations are also now recognizing the abundant amount of cases being discovered, and are actually firing teachers the minute the stories released. The justice system has charged multiple teachers for their crimes, sending a message to incoming teachers that this is not tolerated. And more importantly, the state government has taken it into their hands to propose bills that will strengthen background checks on teachers and make it easier for students who are still in high school to come forward.
Fortunately, I have never had to experience this neither has any of my friends or anyone else (officially) at SB has had to undergo the circumstances. I am also grateful that this movement has finally taken place when it did, so I can watch change happen. The prominence of this movement empowers teens to find our voices and speak up. And we know that because of this movement we will be heard.
Maybe it is going to get better for the girls and boys of this generation. Maybe, in a few years from now, they won’t have to watch the news every day, wondering which teacher or which celebrity has been accused of sexual assault. Maybe they’ll look back and laugh at how idiotic all of this really is, pondering (and never having to experience) the terrible cycle that is the behavior of humanity.

Review of Black Panther by Shania Arora

Over the past two weeks or so, Black Panther has become a phenomenon. The motion picture debuted a nearly all Black cast with the first Black superhero. The movie was so well recieved that it brought in a profit of $235 million dollars, and has 97% on rotten tomatoes (one of the highest rated ever). It has broken the box office for good.
A little background on the comics: The superhero, Black Panther, originally appeared in the 52nd Fantastic Four edition. From there on, the Black Panther was apart of the avengers, and then making his own debut in a solo feature of Jungle Action. There were 24 novels made for this series, however the writers were still unhappy that their superhero was technically still a guest star to his own series. Jungle Action did end due to feuds over low sales and the content within it (it dealt firsthand with the controversial topic of the KKK). A year later or so, T’Challa was revived in a 200-page novel specifically written about the Black Panther and Wakanada. This is the novel that was used for the 2018 movie. From there, the Black Panther experienced 6 mini-series, including the first novel. The most recent series being in 2016, totaling to about 200 comics. Marvel has done great justice to the exceptional superhero, but what about Hollywood?
The movie business hasn’t done nearly enough for T’Challa, just based off of the fact that he is the first Black superhero. However, the movie was amazing and and beautiful in every aspect. The film discussed the conflict in Wakanda, where some of the leaders believed that Wakanda should use their resources to help the community outside of their bubble. The others were fearful that leaders of other countries would take advantage of them. They talked about how the outside community is dying, referring to the obscene amount of unusual shootings that have taken place over the past few years. Okoye, the female general, even stated in a fight, “Guns. So primitive.” After a heart-pounding challenge for the throne, T’Challa was enlightened and decided to go forth with the idea of helping those who cannot help themselves, but without force. T’Challa bought three buildings in Oakland, California, and opened Wakanda’s first refuge center and revealed the secret of vibranium to the UN. Women’s rights were also dealt with, in the sense that the binary genders lived in an equal world where no one had more power than the next. Though this film praised a serious topic of racial discrimination all over the world, it had breaks of comedic pause and a light-hearted love story. But the main idea was not lost at all; the movie showed how a faction (whether it be a race or group of friends) can come together and form a unity, to protect each other and do good.
My opinion on the movie is that is very positive (it was pretty spectacular). Some may argue that the plot was fairly simple, due to the fact that not much happened until the very end. But I think that was a good choice that the writers/producers/directors chose because it allowed room for better understanding of the characters and what Black Panther is about. I also loved that it was not solely about racial discrimination in America, but rather all around the world and other types of discrimination from the past. However, I wished maybe they would discuss more about the women’s role because it was clear they filled the typical man roles with women (i.e. the military). I only say that because, well, I’m female and that relates to me. It didn’t diminish the quality of the film whatsoever, but it would be interesting to see the Black Panther team take on other controversial topics.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Title: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon Review by Snigda Gupta

Title: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon  Review by Snigda Gupta

Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
The book has two main characters, Daniel and Natasha. Yoon focuses mainly on these two characters alternating chapters with their points of views. However, she will sometimes add in the viewpoint of a seemingly insignificant character at random points in the story. Nicola Yoon spins the web of their short love story, that is destined to last no more than a few hours in a single day.

Daniel: The youngest son out of two, he is pretty introverted. Daniel is Korean and feels a great amount of pressure from his stereotypical Asian parents. Being forced to go to Harvard, becoming a doctor, and only dating Korean girls are only some of the limits Daniel’s parents have placed upon him. And today, he’s on his way to his Harvard interview.

Natasha: She is the older sister of a “non-dreamer” brother. Natasha has already faced many disappointments in her life, and her father is one of the biggest ones. And today, she must fix his biggest mistake, driving drunk, and forcing her family to deport back to Jamaica. The poor girl is devastated as she travels on her journey to find someone who will help them stay in the US before she has to leave. Little did these two, very different people know that their paths would cross on the most important day of both their lives. Daniel falls for Natasha suddenly and hopelessly, while Natasha is the true cynic of all dreams and love.

My Thoughts: I thought this book was a great example of so many issues presented to us in society today. Deportation, racism, parent pressures, depression, suicide, failing marriages and stereotypes are only few of the causes of stress in today’s diverse community. This love story shows how there are ways to get around and even help others with a simple “thank you”, or “I love you”. Overall, I thought it was a very beautiful and eloquent of presenting all the problems in today’s world, and the book even presents a few simple solutions.

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Review of Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby By Ravjit Kaur

Book Review of Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby By Ravjit Kaur 

If you like fantasy, adventure, and a little bit of romance, then this is the book for you! Emma Jones has her future all planned out. She’s going to become a dragon-slayer, just like her mother, and spend her life tracking and hunting them. Her affinity for killing dragons presented itself early on, so she knows Principal Kessler will be giving her the single dragon-slayer designation. That is, until Curtis Green walks out of the principal’s office with Emma’s assignment, and she gets assigned fairies. Now, she’s spending her days at the mall trying to capture the small, annoying creatures, while Curtis is out slaying dragons. Then, they get paired together for an assignment, and she has to show him how to hunt things that she herself doesn’t even know how to hunt. One day, when on assignment, she sees a dark, evil figure lurking on the grounds of Buttonwood, her school. After a brief interaction with it, which leaves her with some scrapes and bruises and the realization that only she can see it, she and Curtis set out on a mission to find out what it is, and bring it down before it hurts anyone else. With the help of her friends, the annoying fairies, her family, and her mother’s old books, Emma sets out to track this thing down. With some shocking twists and turns along the way, and some crazy new revelations, will she be able to get rid of this creature once and for all? Or will she fail like her mother, and lose all the people she loves as a result? Read the book to find out! I really liked the plot of this books, and the small details really added to the story and brought it all together. It is very exciting to read, and has lots of plot twists that keep you on your feet! Rating: 7.5/10