Throwback Thursday: Costumes of Halloween Past

Ayse Hunt

 

We asked Roosevelt students to tell us about their favorite Halloween costumes from years past, and here’s what they said:

“When I was a little kid I was a grape. Actually, I think I might have been a bunch of grapes. I chose it for myself, which was impressive because I was only 2 or 3. I just really liked grapes.”

–Seth Lambert-Vail

 

“I was a dead cheerleader in 6th or 7th grade —I put leaves in my hair and made it look like I was dead.”

–Avery Connell

 

“I was a paper bag one year. I literally just put a bag over my head.”

—Henry Bowman

 

“I was a witch when I was 11. I made my younger brother dress up as a cat and be part of my costume.”

–Camilla Rask

 

“I wore a George W. Bush mask for Halloween in 8th grade. It was funny because everyone thought that I [had intended to dress up] like a clown.”

–Jesse Beckett-Herbert

Privatization of Prison Services Leads to Inmates Getting Shafted

By Ben Gauld

 

State officials, in both Ohio and Michigan, are furious after reports of maggots being found either in the food served to inmates or in dangerously close proximity to where the food is prepared. The link between the two incidents? Aramark.

Aramark is a food services provider that recently signed lucrative deals with both Michigan and Ohio to handle the preparation of the food served in each state’s penal system. Both deals are worth over $100 million. Ohio paid $110 million for Aramark to provide food services to the states prison’s from September 2013 to the end of June 2015 whilst, last December, Michigan shelled out $145 million for a three year pact with Aramark. However, it appears that both states are already having buyer’s remorse.

Since signing the contract with Aramark last September, the state of Ohio has already levied $272,200 dollars in fines due to poor conditions surrounding the preparation and distribution of the food while Michigan imposed $98,000 for similar reasons.

The Michigan Department of Corrections deputy officer, Randall Treacher has accused Aramark of consistently running out of food and making unauthorized substitutions when such shortages do occur.

The state of Michigan claims that their contract with Aramark will save the state between $12 million to $16 million over the duration of the contract. However, the slashed budget resulted in 370 state workers losing their jobs. The result has been an understaffed operation that has left prisoners highly dissatisfied with the quality of their meals.

The conditions of the food served to prisoners in Michigan caused them to protest this February. Two-hundred prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility marched single file into the courtyard and protested for 25 minutes before returning to their cells. The executive director of Michigan Corrections Organization union, Mel Grieshaber, expressed concern over the quality of food being served in prisons in Michigan. “I hope they get things worked out, because when it gets warm out … we’re just fearful something might kick off” he said. From 2002-12, US prisons have been responsible for 49 outbreaks of foodborne illness resulting in more than 100 ill, according to the Center for Disease Control. Because of our countries questionable past when it comes to food safety for prisoners, his fears are justified.

Grieshaber felt that the quality of the food was unfair not only to the prisoners, but to the guards tasked with maintaining the safety of the institution. “These guards don’t get frequent breaks and often have to eat the food served at the prison themselves” he said. He also seemed concerned about the prospect of restless prisoners which could potentially lead to violent confrontations between inmates and security. He also maintained that, just because the inmates find themselves in prison, doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. “I’d say around 80% of the guys in (prison) are good guys who have made mistakes in their past…they deserve to be treated humanely.”

Because the organization at fault here, Aramark, is a for profit corporation, minimal expenses and corner cutting are incentivized as it makes them more profitable. Aramark is publically traded meaning that it has an obligation to make as much profit as it possibly can to please its shareholders.

A senior attorney with the Food Safety Program at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, David Plunkett said that the fact that Aramark is a private enterprise doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of their service will be any worse. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s privatized or not. The people who get those contracts ought to be doing a good job.” However, in this particular instance, it is apparent that the privatization of the food industry in correctional facilities has created unsafe conditions for inmates across the country.

Governor Rick Snyder (R) faces pressure from both the political left and right to end the contract and place the food services of prisons back into the hands of state workers to ensure the safety of the inmates. State Representative Sam Singh (D) claimed the states contract with Aramark “only serves to jeopardize public safety”, a sentiment echoed by State Senator Tom Casperson (R) who said that he is concerned “not so much (with) the money, as the safety.”

The unsanitary and generally poor service provided by Aramark has causes Michigan to rethink its contract. Due to the fines imposed on Aramark for various malpractices, the Michigan Department of Corrections is determining whether or not to terminate the contract or, if not terminated, how to rework the contract to ensure higher quality service to the states inmates. However, it didn’t get terminated because we can’t have our governments corporate sponsors feel alienated lest they stop funding our politicians campaigns. Michigan instead appointed an “overseer” to the process which has resulted in Aramark employees pay raises averaging $2 per hour coupled with more workers training and a 20% increase in staffing. It’s shocking that their punishment is being forced to do things they should have been doing anyway but such is life.

While we may call ourselves the “land of the free”, the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population while only containing 5% of the world’s population. Despite the overwhelming amount of people incarcerated in this country, they still are an easy political target for budgetary maneuvering due to the dubious notion that “because they committed a crime, they deserve whatever misfortune that befalls them.” Frankly, this is bullshit and there is a reason our constitution outlaws cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners deserve, at the very least, humane treatment during their time in the penal system and, for blatantly failing to provide it, the contracts Ohio and Michigan signed with Aramark should be terminated immediately. Sadly, things don’t work as they ought to in our countries political process. After all, money talks, bullsh*t walks and a gigantic, multi-corporation like Aramark surely has enough money to buy a whole lot of megaphones.

Ravenna’s Greeter

By Sage Bitter

 

If you frequent the Ravenna Neighborhood, it’s likely you know Larry. Mainly because Larry is not the kind of guy who lets you walk by without a greeting. Or, if you don’t seem to be in a hurry, an update on the weather. Larry Jorgenson as he tells it, was “Born in Renton, 1953.” Displaying his second most used catch phrase after his greeting “Hi! I’m Larry!”. By splitting his time at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center where he has a monopoly over the bench by the door, and in the center of Ravenna Park at a bench by the wading pool, Larry welcomes as many people as he can each day.

Larry has a cognitive disability, but it in no way changes how he has tirelessly fulfilled his duty to “greet the people” in Seattle for about the past thirty years. Since that time, he’s become a beloved fixture in the Roosevelt and Ravenna community. As Tom Ewings, from the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center said, “Larry knows people from when they were kids, and now they have their own kids”.  Ewings also mentioned that having someone with a disability, like Larry, in the neighborhood, bridges a gap; leading to a more inclusive and positive community. Larry is a television weather aficionado, as well as a basketball enthusiast and an 80s pop/rock listener. And when he offers his routine cheerful greeting with a smile and s a wave, it’s hard to resist the urge to smile back in return. Larry makes people feel welcome wherever they are, from the lobby of the community center waiting to drop off their kids at daycare, to the forested ravine. When asked why he addresses each person that comes by, Larry said, “It makes me happy.” There couldn’t be a better reason than that.

Larry has made his mark on the neighborhood, and Ewings said on the days he’s not at his bench, the question he is asked most often is, “Where’s Larry?”.

Shooting in Canadian Parliament

By Flora Davis

 

Shots rang through Canadian Parliament and Ottawa’s War Memorial late Wednesday morning.  Peter Henderson witnessed the shooting and death of Nathan Cirillo, a soldier guarding the National War Memorial of Canada around 7:16 a.m.  According to CNN, the suspected thirty-two year old gunman named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau so far has no proven ties to any terrorist organizations, but is identified as a high-risk traveller by Canada.

 

Later, at 10:00 a.m., a second round of shooting was heard in the halls of Parliament, just across the street from the war memorial. The same gunman continued to fire dozens of shots inside the building before he was shot down outside of the entrance to Parliament’s library, according to the New York Times.  Now regarded as a hero according to CNN, sergeant at arms Kevin Vickers ended the life of Zehaf-Bibeau, unfortunately leaving investigators with no clues to the gunman’s motives for the shootings.  Shortly after rapid firing was heard in Parliament, the building went into lockdown.

 

On Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the site of the shooting to pay tribute to Nathan Cirillo.  According to CNN, while setting a ceremonial wreath on the steps of the monument where he was shot, a man came up behind the Harper and covered his face with a white scarf.  The attacker was dragged off by police.

 

Another incident involving a soldier being hit by a car in Montreal earlier this week has not been proven to be directly connected to either of these other incidents, however the suspects of these crimes are all on Canada’s high-risk travelers list.  According to the Washington Post, Harper has confirmed that the shooting was a terrorist attack against Canada, and poses the question of whether or not Canada is ready to combat terrorism.

Ebola and Racism

By Ayse Hunt

The Ebola Virus

The Ebola outbreak is concerning on many levels, but one of the most disturbing effects that Ebola has had is not the number of people it’s killed or the way it has highlighted the lack of necessary hygienic materials  in less developed countries, but rather the implied racism that it has spurred.

In an especially appalling report by Reuters , it is made clear that the Ebola outbreak is having a hugely negative impact on the African immigrant population in Dallas. Dallas is home to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the institution that treated Thomas Duncan, the first case of Ebola to be reported in the US, as well as two nurses who treated Duncan and contracted the disease.

The report outlines how a local politician has branded the children of African immigrants who attend an area school “Ebola kids”. It also has an interview with a Somalian woman who described how people have been treating her and others in her community since the outbreak saying, “[p]eople are looking at us in a bad way. We didn’t have anything to do with this. Somalia does not have Ebola. It is on the other side of Africa”.

From the level of Ebola-related panic that most Americans are showing, it is clear that many people know very little about how the disease is transmitted and where it originated. The fact that all African immigrants living in Dallas are automatically suspected by other citizens of having Ebola shows how many Americans don’t understand that the outbreak is currently only confirmed to be in Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone—four  out the 50+countries that make up Africa.

There was an article in Newsweek that was published in August entitled “A Back Door For Ebola” that featured a chimpanzee on the cover of the magazine that claimed that bushmeat is smuggled into the U.S. was going to lead to an Ebola epidemic in the United States. The article includes an implicitly racist infographic explaining the cultural significance of different kinds of bushmeat entitled “Don’t Eat That Chimp!”

Newsweek Cover

Since the publication of that Newsweek article, The Washington Post has debunked the claims made by Newsweek, explaining, “the authors of [A Back Door For Ebola] and the editorial decision to use chimpanzee imagery on the cover have placed Newsweek squarely in the center of a long and ugly tradition of treating Africans as savage animals and the African continent as a dirty, diseased place to be feared”.

With so much misinformation and fear-mongering in the coverage of Ebola by many media outlets, it is important to understand and be able to recognize the undercurrents of racism in reports about the disease in order to stay informed.

Hole in the Wall Invitational

By Malcolm Roux

 

The Roosevelt men’s and women’s cross country teams attended the Hole in the Wall invitational on Saturday the 11th, both teams posted impressive results combined with some disheartening races.  On the women’s side, Roosevelt placed in the top three in all three Junior Varsity races and seventh in Division 1 Varsity.  Proving Roosevelt’s depth and promise for future years, the JV races were dominated by Roosevelt.  In the second fastest JV heat, Emily Morley lead Roosevelt to a first place finish, nearly thirty points ahead of second place. While the Varsity squad suffered to some extent from injury and illness, they still pulled off a seventh place finish, only beaten by two other metro schools.

The men’s team also produced a very mixed bag of great PRs and disappointing performances. While the Freshman/Sophomore runners took home fourth out of fifteen, rounding out a series of impressive finishes, the varsity team struggled with absences and a slew of unforeseen obstacles.  Two of the top seven, Gustavo Berho and Max Baker, did not attend due to prior commitment and sickness. During the race Sophomore Jack Bylund was ‘flat tired’ so to speak, and had to stop in the first 100m of the race to fix his shoe.  This resulted in a team finish of twenty-third, but spirits remain high on both teams looking toward the metro championship on the 23rd.

Lower Woodland Metro Meet

By Malcolm Roux

Both the boys and girls varsity teams had impressive results in their all Metro meet on thursday, October 23rd at Lower Woodland. Both teams will advance their seven varsity members to the district meet and a chance to qualify as a team or individually for the state meet in pasco. This was the first of three post-season races, and the team’s performance allows them to advance with confidence into the district meet.

The boy’s placed sixth overall in the fourteen team league, while nine teams advance to the next event.  While the whole team performed well, some individual performances stand out, like Gustavo Berho and Jack Bylund’s cooperative effort to break 17:00.  The two sophomores ran together and finished fractions of a second apart for more than a ten second PR each.  Being Roosevelt’s second and third runner, their impressive performance was needed to place roosevelt so high in the rankings.  Outside of varsity Zach Adams and Ross Branch both had great races, getting times in the low 18’s, and showing they they are contenders for the varsity team.

Despite pouring rain and thunder delays, the girls team finished fifth out of fourteen. After huddling under the little shelter there is at Lower Woodland, Anna Larson was able to post one of the few PR’s of the day with a 19:38.  While Larson posted a fantastic result, her teammate and long time running partner Jane Barr suffered from an asthma attack. Barr still finished the race in flying colors, contributing as the fourth runner on the girls team.  The girls team looks forward to districts and a solid shot at State.

Both teams are contenders to qualify for state at the districts race, where only six teams advance through. But for now, the runners wait to see how they match up with Metro’s district partner: Kingco 3A.

How Avant Garde Is Too Avant Garde?

By Ayse Hunt

C:\Users\Ayse's Laptop\Pictures\Photos for News\SAM Sculpture Park- Avant Garde piece\Ayse's Camera 553.JPG

     Art is a funny thing—the same painting might be heralded as a chef-d’oeuvre by one critic, and torn to shreds by another. Avant garde, the French phrase meaning a group of people at the forefront of new developments, is a type of modern art that takes any traditional rules of what is and isn’t art and throws them out the window. But in my (albeit limited) experience as a museum goer, there have been a few avant garde pieces that have left me wondering why anyone ever regarded them as art in the first place.

     I think most of us have had that experience. You’re in some fancy art museum on a school trip or with a friend, and there are a cluster of very high-brow, artsy people gesturing towards one of the pieces excitedly. So you work your way to the front of the group of people to see what you can only imagine is the next Mona Lisa, and you’re greeted with something like this Image by Dave Munger.

Via Dave Munger’s Blog (http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2007/06/08/euroupdate-2-is-science-art/)

    When faced with art that seems like something that anyone could make regardless of formal training, the inevitable question that arises is where the line between avant garde and complete randomness exists. Or, if such a line even exists in the first place.

     One of the most well-known avant garde artists is the American composer John Cage. He is famous for his work 4’33’’. It is a three-movement work that instructs the performer to sit quietly without playing their instrument for a total of four minutes and thirty-three seconds. As a musician, I had learned of John Cage and his infamous “silent” piece through what I heard from other people. I never took the time to read about the history of the piece and what John Cage himself had to say about his message. It wasn’t until last summer in a music history course that I learned about how essential this piece is to how we define music today.
I learned that Cage was not simply a composer with a sense of humor, but rather an innovative thinker who raised important questions about what music really is. His aim with 4’33’’ was not to have the listener sit in silence for the duration of the piece, but rather to have them realize that there is no such thing as silence. That even in the sanctity of a concert hall during performance, there is someone coughing, or shuffling their feet or even just exhaling. The lack of music was designed to call attention to the lack of silence, and in the process, Cage shook the music world to its core.
I recently had the chance to explore a new installation by Seattle-based artist Trimpin at the Olympic Sculpture Park entitled “You Are Hear”. Close to the main entrance of the park, the installation features three bright orange sets of oversized headphones and corresponding tractor seats.

Each set of headphones offers a different selection of sounds. One plays a track that sounds like a toddler banging on a toy piano, another with sounds of nature, and the final set of headphones is silent as homage to John Cage.

Photo By Ayse Hunt

While the installation probably isn’t the kind of thing most people picture when they think “art”, it fulfills the working definition of art that I created after studying John Cage. I believe that art is any kind of expression that calls attention to a subject matter of the artist’s choosing. It might be as direct as a still-life oil painting calling attention to the beauty of how light falls on a bowl of fruit, or as indirect as the sounds of traffic mingling with an art exhibit to remind the viewer of their surroundings. In my opinion, there is no line where avant garde becomes too crazy to be considered art, just as there is no line where it becomes too mundane to be considered art. As long as there is someone behind the work with intention, to me, the piece is art.

“You Are Hear” will be at the Olympic Sculpture Park through October 30th. I highly recommend checking it out and experiencing its unique artistry.

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

By Noah Foster-Koth

Rated PG-13

Movies adapted from young adult novels have ranged from great (The Hunger Games) to terrible (Percy Jackson and the Olympians). The Maze Runner, which has been adapted from a lesser-known book by James Dashner, ranks somewhere in the middle. Director Wes Ball’s interpretation of Dashner’s story is saved from its weak script by a fast pace and great cinematography.

The film starts just after a boy named Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) has his memory erased. Thomas is dropped into an isolated forest called the Glade. There, he joins a community of young men who have been brought to the same place in equally mysterious circumstances. Their village rests in the shadow of a massive, dangerous maze, which is inhabited by ravenous, disease-spreading monsters. Some believe that the maze hides the path to freedom.

In outline the story sounds rather unique, although some of the individual components feel recycled from other, better films. The young warriors seem like they should compete in The Hunger Games, and the Maze itself is similar to Harry Potter’s Forbidden Forest. However, The Maze Runner’s gorgeous visual artistry helps it stand out amongst other films in the genre. When I say that this film is visually gorgeous, I don’t just mean that it has a ton of CGI in it (although the CGI work is also excellent). What makes The Maze Runner special is that director Wes Ball and his cinematographer have composed each shot with a painter’s eye for composition and detail. The result is that even the more mundane images, like that of two characters walking around a pond, are rendered striking and memorable. Naturally it’s a difficult effect to convey with words — you have to see it for yourself.
The Maze Runner’s greatest flaw is that none of the characters really resonate. That’s my biggest gripe with what is an otherwise well-constructed adventure movie. The problem isn’t just that the characters are all broad archetypes (the optimistic heroes, the cheerless bullies, the doe-eyed younger children). It’s that their situation is very difficult for the audience to identify with.

A key component of making likeable movie characters is to put them in situations that the audience can relate to, at least on some level. The Maze Runner has very few of these, if any. The dangers that Thomas and company find themselves in are so foreign and outlandish that you’re often too busy trying to understand what the threat is to really invest any concern in the characters.

That being said, Ball and Dashner wisely take the focus off of the characters and instead direct the audience’s attention to the plot. For the majority of its 90-minute run time, the film is coy about who built the titular maze and why. Keeping these details mysterious is a clever creative choice that builds suspense and sustains the audience’s interest. The deadly perils Thomas faces in and around the maze are more frightening the less we know about them. The audience is never given any outside information beyond what is known by Thomas and his friends, which provides at least one piece of shared experience between the audience and the characters.
Eventually the film feels compelled to offer an in-depth explanation for these mysteries, and it’s here that the story reaches its lowest point. Up until then however, The Maze Runner sustains a vibe of mystery and tension that make it feel like a feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone. In other words, it’s thrilling and disturbing in equal measure.
Give it a chance.

Grade: B +

Guardians of the Galaxy garners $11.7 Million dollars…Chris Pratt Gets Fit for Hit Flick…Aliens are just Multi-hued People (Again)…Is Every Sci-Fi film going to use the word Nova?

By Daniel O’Connell

Are you in the mood for cultural/ethnic conflict? Mothers’ dying of cancer? Sexual relations with green people, pink people and sometimes purple people? This thing has all of them…in space. Yes, it’s true, you can watch Chris Pratt of Parks & Recreation’s fame debut on the cinema screen as a loveable goofball, but this time as a buff loveable goofball. He brings with him the same cliched group of rag-tag space criminals as you’ve come to expect from Hollywood – a feisty gun-toting raccoon, a proud and serious green woman, a tree trunk with feelings and Dave Bautista. The group flash around deep space, battling baddies in dark clothing and – surprise, surprise – eventually forming deep, lasting friendships. Blegh.

I saw the movie in a certified 1950s drive-in theater, one of the few surviving in Washington. It inhabited a small forest clearing somewhere amidst Port Townsend, the vestigial incarnation of a favorite American pastime. The parking spots were marked with pressed dunes of soil, and as we drove in a net of heavy xenon beams aligned with the projector screen before fading out to give way for the projector. Surprisingly, they had managed to maintain the classic hook-speaker system, whereby you pull out a wired speaker and attach it to the side of your car. For fear of bugs – and the screams of small children – we resigned to tuning in to the glitzy sound-effects with our radio.

The opening pulls a classic American switcheroo: It prods encouragingly at your heartstrings before abruptly sliding into a groovy rendition of Come and Get Your Love, to which our main man dances along rhythmically. Naturally, things don’t go as planned, and the screen is soon torn asunder by flitting swipes of lasers as the easily identified baddie does all he can to stop Pratt from escaping with a mysterious object. There’s also the pink woman shaming it up in his ship with whom he evidently “slept” the night before, but she is quickly dispatched of (I blame the patriarchy).

All in all, it’s a fitting intro. It vies to cover all the bases of a summer cinema crowdpleaser: Action, which varies from oh-my-will-the-main-character-get-hurt hand-to-hand combat to wow-these-rainbow-colored-people-aren’t-that-good-at-shooting space warfare; Romance, an awkward process whereby Buff Goofball tries to teach Proud Green Woman to dance, a concept that utterly baffles her; and Comedy, as Rodent Manboy and Groot “Grooty-pie” Grootson banter back and forth in terse hissing and basic-bitch grammatical assertions.

My only real gripe with the movie would lie in its cliches and conventions, but it would hardly be fair for me to criticize these points when it’s clear that that’s all it was trying to be. Overall, it’s fun, it’s entertaining and it’s got something for most every schmuck. Word around the urinal is that a sequel isn’t too far off. If it’s your thing you should have plenty more enjoyment to come. So go see it. Or don’t. I didn’t make the goddamn movie.