Thanks, Mom & Dad

Maxwell Luce (Freshman)

“My parents are very, I guess, ‘pro-education’ and ‘pro-knowledge’ and aren’t very indoctrinating. They don’t really care that I have radically different opinions about pretty much everything than them. Building off that, they don’t care too much when I disagree with them, as long as it’s reasonable. Like obviously, if they wanted me to clean my room and I was like ‘no’ they’d be upset, but when it comes to things like cultural values, religion, politics, philosophy, things like that, they don’t really mind that my opinion is different than theirs, which I think is rare among parents.”

James O’Brien (Junior)
“I appreciate my parents for a multitude of reasons, the most primary being that they provide for my most basic needs more than adequately; I think that’s the first thing to ask, and they do it quite well. The second thing, which many great parents do and my parents do, is that they provide multiple opportunities for my intellectual furtherment, whether it be through them or through find- ing someone else, and I’ve always appreciated their investments and care to my development as a person and an intellectual being.”

Thomas Soden (Junior)
“The thing I’m grateful for most about my parents is that they are always caring and supportive of anything I do. Even if they don’t approve of it, they’re still willing to give it a shot. Like, my first time playing la- crosse…they wanted me to play baseball, but they still helped me and supported me, and I’m still playing lacrosse to this day.”

Andrew Hoffman (Sophomore)
“I appreciate that my parents allow me to take opportunities; they’re very open to that, like if I want to try a new sport or a new thing or do a new camp or something, they’re very supportive and they’ll help me see it through. I’m very thankful that they allow me to take these opportunities and that they can give them to me. There’s this summer camp I went to called “Camp Carolina,” and it’s a pretty expensive camp to go to, but I think I learned a lot through it and grown, so I’m very thankful they allowed me to go there.”

Jagwire’s ideas for Mother’s and Father’s day

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just over a month apart and right around the corner. When it comes to picking gifts, essentially all the same rules apply.

Choosing gifts comes naturally sometimes, but other times life leaves us a little clueless. It’s okay though, because keeping just a few things in mind streamlines the process of choosing the ideal gift. The number one thing to keep in mind is the generality of a gift. Gifts for parent should be thoughtful and come directly from the heart. Think back to something your parent really wanted, but never took the time to get for themselves and you’ve got yourself a good gift.

Gifts should also under no circumstances throw shade. Just don’t do it.

Imagine the gift is an introductory book to Spanish. There’s a big difference between giving that to someone who wants to learn Spanish compared to someone struggling in a Spanish class. No matter what the intent of the gift is, if it can be interpreted as judgmental or insensitive, you should probably avoid it entirely. Remember: there’s a fine line be- tween a thoughtful gift and a hurtful one.

Gifts people end up using a lot will constantly remind them of the gifter, but gifts that never get used aren’t harmful.Understand there is incentive to choose a good gift, but no penalty for being a little creative.

Price also plays a very significant role in what gift to buy. Buy something that’s too expensive, or more accurately, something that seems expensive, and you’ll make your parents feel self conscious.

A good way to minimize price while dramatically increasing value is to make gifts yourself. Homemade blankets, or fabric things in general, make good gifts.

Homemade coupon books, on the other hand, may have worked when you  were seven, but unless your parents specifically asked, it would be better to find something else.

Then again, gifts don’t have to be limited to physical possessions. The classic breakfast in bed effectively conveys how much a person means to you by the effort  put into making the meal. However, actually serving breakfast in bed is generally a bad idea as it is uncomfortable for the person eating and can be a hassle to clean up, especially if any accidents occur.

Be careful when attempting to select something you are not familiarized with. You don’t want to be the guy that accidentally gets his dad the fifth book in the wrong series.

Gifts can be a secret, but they don’t have to be. If surprising your parents works for you and adds something of value to the experience, go for it, but generally speaking it’s not a big deal.

Mother’s/Father’s day gifts aren’t necessary like birthday gifts. They hit a sweet spot between practicality and need. In the end, you aren’t just celebrating a person; you’re celebrating your parent’s efforts and successes.

If your parent is into carpentry, maybe consider a tool or gadget they don’t already have. If they like to cook, a cookbook isn’t a horrible idea, but a utensil specific to what they cook, like a spatula, might make a better gift. If they like piña coladas or dancing in the rain, buying a blender might be too expensive, but some stylish rain boots might do the trick.

The amount examples for specific situation make all the possible gift combinations virtually unlimited, so remember not to stress yourself too much. You might as well check yourself before you actually wreck yourself, but it’s not the end of the world if you mess up. Feel confident that the gift you thoughtfully selected is the best one you could have given.

Illustration by Ryx Zan

Hurricane Heist is a theft of two hours

WARNING: Spoilers ahead (but you likely won‘t watch this movie anyway)

After watching the trailer for The Hurricane Heist, I was dead (as was half of the cast). In just two minutes and ten seconds, I saw the “no witnesses” trope, the “where is she” meme and some “let’s go save the world” shenanigans. Those are all real quotes, by the way.

There was also some joke about citizens of the state of Alabama owning five billion firearms, but whatever. Already, The Hurricane Heist is shaping up to be another crappy action movie in which the special effects take priority over the screenplay.

Unsurprisingly, The Hurricane Heist flopped in theaters around the country, not earning even one tenth of its budget on opening weekend.

So how was it, really? I had to find out for myself.

The actual movie aside, my experience watching The Hurricane Heist was probably one of the best viewing experiences I’ve had at a theater—simply because I was the only one there. The seats were also pretty comfy. To be fair, it was a Tuesday night showing at 10:00 pm, but my complete solitude speaks to the overall underperformance of the movie.

The characters were a mixture of bizarre and boring. The strangest by far was main character and crusty-money babysitter Casey Corbin. Five minutes into her introduction, Corbin rams a truck into an already crashed car (with people still  inside it) and proceeds to drive straight through a tobacco field while cracking a smile and engaging in awkward side conversations.

The main antagonist is the archyetpal one who wants money, so he tries to steal cash that was on its way to be shredded. However, he doesn’t get any of it because he’s the bad guy, and you’ve got to stop the bad guy, right? Theft is theft and theft is wrong, but when the plot revolves around stopping someone who tries to take money that belongs to no one, it’s strange to see the main characters start to systematically kill off the bad guys.

To the movie’s credit, there are a few aspects of the story that are much less laughable. The logic the characters used in making their decisions and their motivations were really well fleshed out. The information the characters had about what was going on and what to do next based on that information felt reasonable and made sense for the most part. In a scene where a Corbin wanted to take a baddy’s firearm, she explains briefly that she can use her pistol with no ammunition as a bluff.

Instances where characters explain themselves or talk about some plan of theirs can seem lazy from a storytelling perspective, but it seemed to fit well enough. Then again, there were also times char- acters would do really dumb stuff, like shooting at the one person they need alive or deciding to build a car bomb by looting supplies from of the local Lowe’s.

The dialogue was painful to listen to. Boring conversations were there only for some basic character introduction and provided very little background into the lives of the characters. Thinking back  to the very beginning of the movie, Corbin and the undercover main antagonist discuss something unmemorable when suddenly the evil villain mentions something about Corbin not knowing many things about him. Boring and unoriginal work perfectly together to make me want to leave the theatre.

What really ruined the movie (if you didn’t already consider it ruined) was the ending. At this point, some other inferior reviewer might write something along the lines of “I really don’t want to spoil the ending, but…” and then go on to say something vague that infuriates the reader more.

However, The Hurricane Heist ended abysmally, so here goes.

All the bad guys die. Literally all of them. Unlike other ridiculous thrillers, The Hurricane Heist has a wide array of somewhat relatable antagonists you get to bond with for the first ninety percent of the movie. They may all be unoriginal archetypes (no surprise there), but they also felt real enough to deserve an end other than a ridiculous cop out. However, just as the bad guys are about to escape with literal tons of money, the good guys hunt them down to save the girl. Either they shoot them somehow while riding in tractor units or force them into the storm.

Overall, The Hurricane Heist is not horrible, but also not quite okay. To put it in perspective, it’s not the worst way you could spend two hours, but more likely than not it would be more productive to binge watch the Veggie Tales television series in that same amount of time.

A Tale of Two Citation Tools

Recently, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools shifted from using EasyBib as its primary citation maker tool to NoodleTools. The reason: EasyBib started flooding its site with ads.

So what is NoodleTools? Essentially, NoodleTools is a tool similar to EasyBib in that it helps the user properly format and order citations. Carrboro High School’s library website explains that the district no longer sub- scribes to EasyBib and has switched to NoodleTools. However, one can still find EasyBib on the Google Apps page.

There has been some retaliation by Carrboro High School students, especially since some teachers now require that students use NoodleTools for project citations.

Some students prefer EasyBib for its feature set and simplicity.

“I think it’s really convenient to use,” commented Cora Van Raay, a sophomore at CHS, when asked her opinion of EasyBib. “I don’t really like NoodleTools, because you have to put in  all the information yourself, and it takes a lot of time.”

NoodleTools markets itself as a paid resource for educators by educators. Primarily, its selling points as a citation tool are the number of options available to adjust and the ability for teachers to communicate with their students along the way. NoodleTools aims to turn students from basic users into experts throughout the course of multiple projects.

EasyBib, on the other hand, tries to be the quick-and-easy citation generator. The citation builder textbox is the first thing a student sees on the site. Gathering sources flows fluidly by having users fill out information one piece at a time. EasyBib also automatically searches websites for information such as authors, publishers, publishing dates and credibility, which eliminates a good chunk of the work. The site offers both a free and paid service, the latter of which removes ads and unlocks some other features.

But how much of an issue are the ads?

“Personally I don’t really notice the ads,” said Van Raay. “I don’t really care because they’re not really getting in the way of anything.”

However, others do see these advertisements as an issue. Because loading advertisements takes a while to process on slower internet connections, navigating through EasyBib can waste minutes of one’s time.

“EasyBib’s got all those ads, so it slows it down a lot,” explained Maxwell Luce, CHS freshmen. He finds that both resources are fairly comparable. “I’ll probably switch to NoodleTools soon; it’s just a matter of getting familiarized with the website.”

Illustration by Ryx Zan

How Many Valen-times Must I Buy You Chocolate?

For me, Valentine’s day is the day I don’t get any Singing Grams, but in all fairness, it’s more fun to sit back and watch others get sung to anyways.

My problem with Valentine’s Day is that, for as long as I can remember, I have always felt a societal pressure to buy stuff for someone else, even if it’s something small, like a small box of candies. It’s gotten to the point where Walmart has its own guide on what gifts to buy based on the stage of one’s relationship.

Nowadays, Valentine’s Day celebrations miss the point of the holiday. If you’re meant to celebrate loved ones and friends, why have we settled on buying each other cards with clichéd text and candies attached?

More than likely, it’s because showing up without candy made you look bad. One of my worst memories from elementary schools was not getting a lollipop card combo from a kid I thought was my friend. I may have cried a bit.

Behind the seemingly innocent celebration lie advertisers trying to take advantage of the holiday to sell their company’s goods. I can’t say I blame marketers for doing their jobs, but these practices do conflict with the holiday’s spirit.

However, is Valentine’s Day the only holiday to blame? Most others are on a completely different level of sales-based propaganda. Christmas, for example, has become so commercially oversaturated store chains adorn their aisles with the typical shiny string and tree ornaments before Thanksgiving. Not to mention the Holiday “sales” where the seller drastically increases the price of their goods only then to return them to original price and claim a price reduction.

Valentine’s Day gets a bad rep because people see that it isn’t the innocent holiday from their childhoods, but just something one has to deal with in general in our commercially driven society.

Though at first it may feel like an evil force designed to make you spend money, I’ve come to realize it doesn’t differ from anything else sold or traded in life. I try enjoy the holiday and try not to think about marketers or sales and such.

Geostorm: Science Gone Too Tar

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

The movie Geostorm isn’t a dark chocolate bar that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth; it’s a carton of milk a few days past its expiration date. You think to yourself, it’s still fresh, I mean, how bad can it possibly be? Then you choke it up immediately.

You’re unable to rid yourself of that rancid taste. The movie revolves around a man, Jake, who’s in charge of creating a web of satellites. Max, Jake’s younger brother, works alongside him until he fires Jake for ignoring orders. Max then becomes the head of the satellite program, and when the contraption inexplicably kills thousands of people, Jake’s former superiors send him to fix the problem by himself. Jake then ventures to space where he discovers that the United States sabotaged his program from the very beginning.

Geostorm’s special effects serve as a comparably nice side to a rotten meal. Waves freezing in place and the many deaths of space voyagers seem convincing enough. However, the rest of the death scenes left me unimpressed. Some of the good-looking explosions did occur in the vacuum of space, which shouldn’t be possible. I guess not even the laws of physics can dissuade a movie’s thirst for explosions, like friction against an unstoppable force.

With so much destruction, Geostorm’s tone never matches the ever-increasing casualty count. Random meteorological events freeze, explode, melt and drown thousands of people with nothing to show for their deaths. A thunderstorm on steroids turns half the state of Florida into ash and low-key explodes a building full of Democrats; yet, with all this devastation, everyone just blindly cheers for Jake.

Poorly executed scenes on top of bad plot frequently caught my eye. However, some scenes surpass their brethren by doing everything wrong simultaneously. In one such scenario, Max tells his Secret Service waifu she must commit treason. He tells her she has to because “I’m asking you” and “it’s bigger than you and me.” Then, all of a sudden, his secretary in- correctly corrects him by briskly spewing “it’s actually ‘you and I.’” What truly makes this scene the crap of the crop boils down to the two clichés stuffed into one exchange: the prescriptionist secretary who tries to develop herself as a character in a comment that falls flat on its face, and the other stupid lines of dialogue that complete the conversation.

Geostorm digs an even larger grave for itself by constantly forcing clichés onto its characters. The actors clearly have a tough time identifying with their character’s unoriginal motives and the generally unrealistic dialogue. Little annoyances here and there slowly started to add up. Jake knowing every little pointless detail about his space web (except for the actual layout of the ship he’s on) really irritated me because they added nothing to his character. The few scenes in which Dusette, the French security guard, and other characters notice the most obscure details only to advance the plot also frustrated me— they completely broke the only moment of immersion the story offered.

Is Geostorm enjoyable? Sure. The movie’s pacing did not allow for boring moments though at the expense of critical story elements. If you enjoy awkward conversations that don’t make sense and laughing during the serious parts of a movie, then, by all means, get a ticket.

Geostorm could have been more fun if it didn’t take itself so seriously. Had it kept  its terrible plot, but refined its characters, it could have been a much different movie. With so little to lose, Geostorm could have easily taken some risks and explored new comedic or philosophical avenues. With its cookie-cutter formula for a crappy plot, the movie crew clearly focused on finishing the movie rather than adding anything to an already heavily exploited genre.

Illustration by Ruby Handa.

The Honors Factor: Student Perceptions

Signing up for high school courses, whether it be for freshman or junior year, unlocks countless combinations of classes and career paths. The classic decision of what classes to take often leads to the same question: should one take standard or honors?

“[I thought] all honors would probably be somewhat challenging,” said Henry Schneider, a Carrboro High School (CHS) freshman who decided to take all honors.

Yet, honors classes were not quite as he had expected.

“The only thing I wanted out of honors that I haven’t really gotten was sort of a faster course load or interesting, new material,” said Schneider.

Misconceptions about the difficulty of the classes one signs up for can cause students to take classes on false assumptions.

“It affects your GPA too,” said Anneliese Merry, a junior at CHS. “You’re told not to take all of these honors classes, but you could just as easily take them, it’s a big GPA boost.”

External pressures also add to the stress; school counselors often direct students when they sign up for their first batch of high school classes.

“I remember in middle school our counselors would definitely push us towards not taking honors or only taking honors that we thought were good for us,” said Merry.

However, honors and standard classes may be more similar than one would expect. Both classes teach the same material with varying levels of work.

“It’s not necessarily that we have a higher level of learning — it’s more like we end up getting more assignments,” said Schneider.

Brian Kelly, another junior at CHS, elaborated on the matter.

“Both the honors and non-honors students have to take the same final at the end of the year,” said Kelly.

Students may also take classes not based on how they think of them, but rather how colleges view them.

“I figured it looks good to other people,” said Schneider when asked to explain why he took all honors.

He also added that he expected the extra workload to be worth the GPA payoff.

Nowadays, many sophomores sign up for multiple AP classes for their junior year to stay competitive; a
small change in one’s schedule can influence how he or she is seen by colleges.

“I took five honors classes my sophomore year and two AP classes, and this year I’m taking four AP classes and three honors classes.” said Kelly. “I think that often there’s a big emphasis put on the difference between honors and AP that isn’t necessarily there.”

Yet, standard courses do remain relevant during the later years of high school. For some, standard classes are better suited for their learning style.

“It’s just a different way to learn,” said Merry. “People who take standard classes aren’t less smart.”

Illustration by Ryx Zan