Posted in 2015-2016, Culture, Entertainment

Book Review: “Water for Elephants”

By Alanna Anderson 

***There is content within the review that may ruin the plot for some people***

If you’re into historical fiction, shifts between time period, romance, slightly graphic sex scenes, and don’t mind animal abuse and violence or slightly unrealistic endings, then Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen might just be for you.

The story tells the journey of the main character, Jacob, who ends up in the circus after an unfortunate event leaves him feeling lost, abandoned, and in search of a new home. The rest of the story entails not only his journey with the circus, but also narrative shifts to present time where he’s in an old folks home complaining about his helpless state. Not only are the morals and scenery of the story compelling, but the characters of the story, for the most part, seem to come to life.

If you are looking for action, this story is probably not the best place to look for it but it does include its own spark. The story is one that mainly touches on the struggles and troubles of life and those who are living, just trying to make it through. The main downfalls are the main character (and his romance), unnecessary description, and lack of a structured plot that keeps the story from being truly great.  Overall, the main purpose of the story was clear and I felt anticipation, but not enough to be truly impressed with the story.


Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson starred in the 2011 movie adaptation of the book.

Something that definitely caught my attention throughout the story were the morals that the characters introduced. The author had the good fortune of choosing a setting and time period that could be manipulated easily for her story. Since the story took place during The Great Depression, Gruen does a great job of channeling all of the desperation and loss that was common during that time. This was also used to find ways to implement specific themes and values throughout almost the whole story, but the one that stuck out the most to me was the idea of respect. The idea of being able to respect people as a common courtesy and only stopping when their actions prove that they should be treated otherwise.

Another moral was that everyone has struggles and that it’s not wrong to acknowledge them. These are just two among the many that could’ve been interpreted, like how being abusive and not showing humanity can result in a hard case of karma. The morals definitely made the story more complex emotionally. If someone wanted to read a fiction book that touched on morals and the underlying aspects of human nature then this book is suggestible. This is one of the techniques that I really appreciated in the book and found to be enjoyable.

It was enjoyable how the author took advantage of characters and their development in order to keep the reader interested. Sadly, she seems to expand on every character except for Jacob and Marlena (a person very close to Jacob). With these two characters she sort of expects the reader to just like them and automatically accept them. This lead me to create a strong bond with a lot of the characters, such as Kinko, a man who ends up being Jacob’s friend. I really felt for him and wanted to hear more about his story than I wanted to hear about Jacob’s. Another person who I wanted to know more about was Camel, a kind-hearted drunk in the circus, as it’s hinted at that he has a dramatic past, but his past is only mentioned to make Jacob have sympathy for him.

43641.jpgA way that the author created these connections was making the reader feel sympathy for
a character; it made me care more about them and feel like I’m supposed to pay attention to them. It was actually very effective but where the author went wrong is when she only added in these characters’ stories to attempt to make Jacob more interesting. I feel that this was a lost opportunity for her because her story was held back due to trying to progress a character who just wasn’t that interesting.        

A cool aspect of the story is that the point of view shifts between the young and older version of Jacob. Seeing the differences between the two sides of him helped with the mystery of the story because it built anticipation as to how he ended up where he was at. His grouchiness seemed a bit odd too. When he is young he is cheery and innocent and chivalrous, and when he is older he loses that charm and becomes a crabby elderly man. This can happen and I’m sure that it has happened to people before, but for the character himself it seemed to just discredit the positive emotions that he feels while he’s young. This also begins to create too strong of a contrast between young Jacob and older Jacob. The differences in their personality at times makes it seem like I’m not even reading from the perspective of the same character.

The personification in the story was one of my favorite techniques.  Rosie, the smartest and most kind-hearted elephant who is Jacob’s best friend, and even other animals such as the always smiling chimpanzee were described frequently as smiling or doing something such as shaking a hand in thanks, or showing a strong spark of intelligence. This had the benefit of making me feel closer to the animals than the humans sometimes because they were the only ones acting relaxed most of the time and not freaking out like the humans were.

The one issue with this is that I wanted more mentions of the animals. They seemed like they would be a focal point of the story because of Jacob’s occupation and interests, but they’re used more to enhance the story than actually be that involved in it. The personification of the animals was made even more interesting when they’re compared to how the humans are physically described in the story. In one sex scene the man is made to sound beWater-For-Elephantsast-like and in moments of anger the humans are described as feral and wild. This contributed to the parallel of appearance being deceiving and the “real animals” being humans due to their destructive nature.

I started reading the story with high expectations because of the buzz that had been built around it, but found myself greatly disappointed. Expecting something great from a book because it has become popular and a movie is always a way to find disappointment. I still have an underlying frustration with the story because I was stuck in a state of excited expectation and never-ending boredom.

Many aspects of the story left me conflicted, like my opinion on Jacob. He was the kind of main character that I felt sympathy for, but started to lose a connection to because I was constantly waiting for him to make up his mind and come to a decision about his life and people and stick to it. Luckily, I felt a better connection to a lot of the other characters of the story and they’re what helped me to pull through and kept me reading. I do appreciate that the impression of chaotic circus life did help me to connect to the story and Jacob more.

The anticlimactic events in the story (that were usually anticlimactic due to Jacob’s constant inaction) contributed, in my opinion, to the story’s decrease in greatness. It’s alright to have a few teasing moments, but the story seemed to take the moments that I was looking forward to and made them completely disappear. The ending made me want to bang my head against a wall for a bit as well. It seemed too farfetched and unrealistic and completely rushed. It seems especially rushed when I found out that the author wrote the story in a month, and this might have made it zoom through the editing process. If it weren’t for my interest in the characters of the story and how they would turn out my interest in the story would’ve almost been completely gone.

My awareness of writing techniques definitely made me disappointed with certain aspects of the story. Scenery was definitely a high point and cannot be touched, but the graphic sex scenes of the story felt sort of desperate at times. Instead of relying on the natural surprising aspects of the circus, the author began to write in sex scenes that left me wondering about the necessity of them.

Capture.PNGAs they continued I became more and more aware of how unnecessary they were and how exactly they were holding the story back. It seemed like the author felt the need to throw in unnecessary events to an already wild story, unrealistic love between love interests, a slightly boring main character that remains stagnant while others develop, and a pace that isn’t consistent. All of these elements contributed to my displeasure at the story.

Gruen’s imagery was bitter-sweet for me. Some of her imagery was enjoyable and helped me to keep reading.  The life of someone living at a circus was vivid and descriptive and I could clearly imagine Jacob tending to the animals, and his vivid horror at being tricked into being bit by a lion. A counter to this is the fact that Gruen would describe some unimportant things more than others. There’s a sexual scene that is described in great (great, great, great) detail and it bordered on making me uncomfortable because the language and description became very vivid at this time specifically. At other times, events that were important to me just fell through the cracks. So while imagery was one of my favorite techniques of the story because it connected me to the text, it also put me off at times because of the moments and events that the author chose to explode and describe the most.

One of the biggest downfalls of the story was its lack of a structured and well paced plot. The story begins with a flash of a future event and it built the anticipation a lot. After reading that my expectations for the story grew even more because I looking forward to said huge event.

The beginning of the story had a pace that was okay. In the middle of the story I started to water-for-elephants.pngget the feeling that the author was getting bored with the story. It just felt like she was slowing down too much and trying to expand all of the moments that really didn’t need that done to them. At the end of the story I was so disappointed. The author seemed to just give up and assume that what she had written was enough to make up for a rushed ending. Basically, it felt like she was turning in an assignment that was due in an hour. This caused me to care a bit less about the story because she seemed to care less too.

The story had good points and bad points, but overall it is not a book that I will come back to soon. I felt like I was constantly looking for something that the story just couldn’t provide. The good use of writing techniques really couldn’t make up for the issues that I saw with pacing, Jacob, and the lack of attention drawn to certain aspects like secondary characters, because they were too distracting. If I had to read the story again it would be as a reference for imagery, but not for the plot at all. I’m still really glad that I could find a moral to take away from the story, but it’s from what I found in the text and not from any special relationship with a character. Maybe if the author had payed more attention to making her events deliberate and blending with her writing techniques I would feel differently.

I would suggest this book to someone if I knew that that didn’t bother them. I’d also suggest this book to people who enjoy books with imagery and are looking for something fun that includes morals about life, but not something that is even close to being considered a literary classic.

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

When Killers are Idolized

By Alanna Anderson 


A recurring fact of life is that when you see a disaster or crime occurring it is hard to look away. The suspense surrounding the situation seems to capture our attention there and keep it due to morbid curiosity. But while looking at the crime itself, we don’t see the victim(s). We don’t see who has been affected and injured by the event. Of course there are victims, but we don’t know their names, we don’t know who in their life will be affected by the event, and we don’t know their stories. All we’re usually told is an estimate of their age, a brief mention that they are leaving children or a spouse behind, and facts on why the attacker would’ve attacked them: like gender, race or other characteristics and actions to provide motive.

This is the same case in a lot of mass killings. While we receive detailed observations of the attacker through the news (their name, age, reassurance of their “calm” personality, and how exactly they had planned and executed the crime) the information about the victim(s) is left in the dark. They become lost as a number. A countless one, two, and three on a list of the people dead or injured. In the meantime, the attacker receives multiple detailed profiles.

Even when reading some novels on serial killers, the killers are almost idolized because of the attention that they receive, but usually just one or two of the victims are mentioned, usually to evoke sympathy, and the rest is just statistics. Otherwise, the lives of the victim(s) are lost to us and they become the unwilling catalyst for propelling the killer’s fame and popularity.

To add on to the idea of idolization, you have to think about this from the point of view of the shooter. In their profiles, they are often depicted as attention seekers that feel wronged somehow by a perceived injustice that has been dealt against them. They then turn that strong feeling of betrayal into an ideology that includes the pain of others for retribution. Part of that retribution could be public humiliation. Though many killers say that the act was for themselves and not the public, there is a harsh kind of empathy in forcing others to feel the pain that you are feeling or have felt.

By paying so much attention to the killer we are giving them attention that they may need to further their agenda. This attention is given to them in place of reaching out to give sympathy to the victim who has been violated and exploited.

“We need to pay more attention to helping the victim instead of making killers into movie stars.”

People tend to dehumanize shooters and make them into pop culture icons instead of the actual human beings that they are. But it does help to keep in mind that they are people. They are our neighbors, the people standing behind us in line at the grocery store, and driving in the car in front of us. In the words of Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird: “A mob’s made up of people, no matter what.” Behind every violent action is a human emotion that drove them to that path.

While these people shouldn’t be idolized and given so much attention to the point of ignoring the victim(s), we need to make sure that we keep this person as human as possible without glazing over their horrible actions. By seeing the attacker as human, it helps to keep in mind that they have to be held accountable for what they have done since we are all (for the most part) accountable for our actions.

Sometimes people may not even be aware of the fact that they are promoting what this person has done. This, however, can’t be helped. The idea of the unknown and different just attracts us. We can’t help but be curious about the people who have deviated from the morals and paths laid coded into different cultures and societies. We collect their facts like trading cards and we memorize every facet of their treacherous executions. The issue is not the morbid curiosity itself, it’s how it becomes presented when dealing with the situation. Writers and publishers are getting paid to provide what will be relevant and what will sell. When they see that what people are more interested in the killer than the victim, they feed off of that in a cycle of buy and demand.

When media and people’s personal interests give so much attention we are feeding into the attention that they crave. We are giving into that motive that they had and proving that through this terrible action they are getting closer to reaching their ulterior motive. What makes this even worse is when a person who allegedly knew the attacker says things about them that seem to erase the fact that they have murdered or injured a person/people. Things like: “they are usually so nice,” “I’ve never known them to be violent or rude to anybody,” and, “this isn’t like them at all.”

There’s also the trouble behind the news displaying certain attackers as distinguished and polished people and focusing on all of the reasons why they couldn’t have done this instead of all of the things that they did.

Remember that whenever you think about the actions of a killer, you must always remember those directly affected by them too. While the killer should be considered in a situation, you must always acknowledge the victim and their suffering. Pay attention to the victim in a car crash instead of the sight of the cars after they’ve crashed. And, besides, why would you want to romanticize a person who’s done nothing romantic or heroic?

In order to make the victim feel like what they have gone through has not been ignored in the face of the person who has hurt them, we need to make sure that we have our priorities straight as far as who we’re going to reach out to. We need to pay more attention to helping the victim instead of making killers into movie stars.  

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram 

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture, News

Fourth of July: When America Takes Over the Internet

By Alanna Anderson 


Fourth of July is a time for barbecues, fireworks, people wearing full outfits with the American flag as the only pattern, and the highly anticipated summer memes. They can be optimistic, or sarcastic, but either way they will discuss the views and thoughts of some citizens when it comes to America. First, I’ll start out by introducing a little background on this holiday that is more than just a day for elaborate firework shows.

We all know, even if it’s vaguely, the story of the colonists showing true American stubbornness by declaring independence from the British. What you may not know is that since John Adams believed that Independence Day was on the 2nd he refused to celebrate it on the fourth. Ironically, he died on July 4th, 1826. I don’t know exactly what you’d like to do with that information but, if anything, you could use it as an excuse to light fireworks on both days — even if your neighbors give you disgruntled looks. Early celebrations of the Fourth of July differ from today mainly because of the cultural differences of the time periods.

Fireworks were documented to have been used as early as 1040 in China, but the first commemorative fireworks set off in America was in 1777. Despite this, fireworks for public use didn’t become available until 1783. This ruled out the early use of fireworks and in its place was instead the ringing of bells, bonfires, recitation of speeches, concerts, parades, and the firing of cannons and muskets.

Another interesting event, which may or may not be debated as morbid, was the fact that the colonists held mock funerals of King George III. The colonists saw this as a way to symbolize that the King’s rule was dead. They would even carry around an empty casket with the King’s name on it and sit it near a gravestone that also had his name on it. I don’t know about you but I could see this becoming a coming-of-age tradition for eighteen year olds leaving the house to go to college. Or for millennials when they leave home.

Back to the focus of the article, it seems that a new tradition has been adopted by the holiday. While some guests at celebrations are kicking back with reminiscent tales, the others are lounging back in order to post what we’re all really excited for: holiday memes. It seems like memes have a culture all their own. They manage to connect all of our thoughts and emotions into one little picture and facial expression.

Fourth of July memes take on a whole new meaning when they begin to remind us of the reasons why some people might not appreciate the fourth of July. Such as:

Capture2.PNG      Capture3.PNG

Capture4.PNG     Capture5.PNG

Capture6.PNG      Capture7

While others are focusing on the advantages that this holiday brings (like the sales) (just kidding) (kind of), others are focusing on other aspects. Like the reasons why the holiday highlights the fact that though we fought for independence, the lack of independence for some means that we have an unfinished battle.The Fourth of July is when  some will take the time to focus on the fact that the holiday contains a lot of irony.

Such as:

Capture8.PNG        Capture9.PNG

We shouldn’t ignore that there is merit to the holiday, but we also shouldn’t ignore the irony of the holiday. While watching the fireworks light up the sky, also remember the smoke of muskets that took the lives of people whose land was taken. While stuffing hot dogs in your mouth, also remember those who were stopped from eating for the sake of being forced to build this country.

Fourth of July memes help to bring people back from the fireworks and into reality. They help people realize that there is more to this holiday than food and American flags. That even though we are free from British rule, there are still people in the present and in the past that have been oppressed by America’s power and ruling. This is not to say that people shouldn’t enjoy the holiday, it’s just to say that people should be aware of what this holiday means to everybody and not just themselves. Memes help people to be able to step away from themselves and into other perspectives. A memorable caption and a facial expression accomplishes this with just a click, and internet connection.

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram 

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture, News

The Case Against the Gay Panic Defense

By Alanna Anderson 

Should penalties or convictions in regards to murder cases be lessened by this discriminatory legal tactic?

Imagine that you’re in the hallway at school when someone asks you to be their Valentine; they happen to not identify as the gender that you’re attracted to. Do you get upset about someone saying something to you that you’re uncomfortable with? Or do you let them down gently in order to erase any ill feelings from rejection?

If you happen to be fourteen year old Brandon McInerney, your reaction is going to be a bit more violent. You come to school the next day and shoot the person that asked you to be their Valentine while they are seated in a classroom. Instead of receiving a civilized answer, they end up being murdered. You also get to cut a deal with the prosecutors that will give you a lesser sentence of twenty-one years in prison. How do you manage to convince the jury that you deserve to have your sentence lessened: by using the Gay Panic Defense.


Brandon McInerney (left) shot openly gay 15 year old Lawrence “Larry” King (right) in February of 2008

This may seem absurd to you, but it’s not the only case of murder being excused for this reason. Jonathan Schmitz murdered Scott Amedure, his friend, on the grounds that Scott had a crush on him. He directly stated that he was so embarrassed about Scott having a crush on him that he was unable to control himself and thus murdered him. To some, this would seem like a terrible excuse for taking someone’s life, but the jury bought it and the Gay Panic Defense was able to lessen Schmitz’s repercussions.

In 2002, a seventeen year old named Gwen Araujo, born with the name Edward, was brutally murdered by two other teens because she was a transgender individual. The murder was an act of revenge because they had slept with her and then compared their experiences to later on figure out that at birth she was considered male. She ended up being beaten, tied up, and strangled by them before she was buried in a shallow grave without being found for two weeks. One of the guys even admits to ‘vomiting and weeping’ at finding out that she was transgender, and that he hit her in the head with a frying pan. A third teen, who was not a part of the murder, aided in burying the body in order to stay loyal to their friends. In order to lessen the sentence of the attackers, the defense lawyers offered up the Gay Panic Defense.

In 2008, Joseph Bidermann, age 30, was acquitted of the murder he performed. The victim, Terrance Michael Hauser, was his neighbor and invited him to his apartment, though they had never spoken before. Bidermann ended up passed out on Hasuer’s couch, but awoke when Hasuer allegedly locked a grip around his neck and attempted to sexually assault him while a 16-inch dagger was in his hand. Bidermann responded by stabbing him 61 times essentially carving him to death.  He then fled to his girlfriend’s house where he took a shower. In place of calling the police, he and his girlfriend went to the hospital where Hauser went to get a knife wound on his arm treated, and a call to the police was made for them. In the end it was decided that Bidermann’s choice of stabbing Hauser 61 times was a justified way to handle the situation. And how did he get away with this: the Gay Panic Defense.

gay-panic (1)
(cartoon from

What is it about this defense that can cause murderers to get lesser sentences? Is it even valid?

According to data gathered by expert attorneys at NOLO, many courts have refused this defense, but despite that, it has still been used many times, like in the cases mentioned previously. It’s used when a defendant feels that their crime is justified because their panic over a romantic/sexual advance from a LGBTQ+ individual made them a victim, and in an act of self defense they were provoked into temporarily losing control of their behavior.

Courts defend their acceptance of this defense by stating that they don’t want to dismiss the fact that people can be provoked into actions, and they don’t want to charge them as much as someone who acted in cold blood. For them, the romantic/sexual advance acts as the provoking that the defendant needed to feel as though they were being attacked, and it justifies them going off the deep end.

But what about those victims who were walking home alone and were suddenly brutally attacked; or those minding their own business and not interacting with others? Is it fair to say that, because they were gay or transgender, they caused the people around them to ‘panic’ and lose control?

It is true that the opinions of others have to be heard in court, but there comes a time when the law has to decide whether something is fair or not. The whole point of the law system is to settle disputes between people in a civil manner that is unbiased and full of the rights that the constitution is supposed to provide us. But how can the court consider themselves fair and impartial when they are acting in a way that is discriminatory towards a specific group of people?


Another thing to consider it that the situation can arguably become more or less difficult to assess when the defendant is there behind the stand ready to answer questions, and the prosecutor’s family is the one representing the prosecutor because they are dead and can’t do it for themselves. Is it really fair to say that the person who acted out of revenge for being ‘deceived’ was a victim, but the person who has ended up dead for being themselves is at fault for their own death? It seems that using that logic would be unreasonably blaming the victim for a crime that was committed against them and that they can’t even defend themselves against.

The court has to understand that when excuses like these are allowed in law, it is setting the bar for public opinion and stances on matters. The use of this defense in court reflects a grim idea of the parts of society that feel this is justified, and those hateful opinions are being entertained with its continuation.

We can’t expect for the citizens of a country to fully embrace progression and positive change when it’s apparent that’s not what the law itself is representing. On top of this, it also shows that there are those out there that will continue to use it as long as it’s around. There are those who will see the cases where it has succeeded in reducing sentences and provides people with the out that they need to get away with murder. There is no way that the continuation of this ‘defense’ can be argued in favor of standing for the equality and equal rights of all. If we want to provide a safer, more equal, more just government, then we need to take away these loopholes that victimize victims. We need to take away the Gay Panic Defense.

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram 

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

Getting Help and Getting Better

by Alanna Anderson

Depression, ADHD, failing a class, a mood disorder, an aspect of your life that is affecting your self esteem. What do these all have in common? Well, they’re all things that you can get help for. The ways that you receive help for these could vary, but there are options available to help you deal with them more productively. A lot of people will avoid help because they think that it makes them strong, or they have to deal with it on their own, or they’re afraid of becoming reliant on the method that is making them better. On the contrary, getting help does not mean you’re weak; getting help is what will help you face these problems more effectively.  

One of the first ways to encourage yourself to get help is knowing that you really are not alone. A lot of the time when people say this it comes off as patronizing and it can easily be taken the wrong way, but listen to this:  “As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression.”(1) Pair that with the fact that “in 2015 the amount of students that were estimated to be entering into the 9th grade in a public high school was 4.1 billion.” I took the liberty of doing the math for you instead of leaving you to do it by yourself. There are around 512,500,000 adolescents in America that have depression. These 512,500,000 individuals could be going through a version of what you are going through and unless they tell you, you may not even know. So when I say that you aren’t alone, I mean that there are other people who are experiencing something similar to what you are. That doesn’t discredit your emotions or make them irrelevant, it just means that there are people out there who can relate to your struggles in some sense and can honestly say that they have been through hard and draining times too.

“Don’t let society hold you back from believing in yourself and having the confidence to seek out what makes you happy and healthy.”

A second way that I hope that I can encourage you is letting you know that you shouldn’t allow someone to discredit your feelings when you have a serious issue. What you consider a serious concern for yourself doesn’t just have to be something that a doctor can diagnose, a serious concern could also be in reference to things like your confidence and body-image. You may look down on yourself for a feature that you feel very negatively about. Maybe it’s something that you were born with (like hair color, skin color, biological gender, your nose, face shape, etc.), or maybe it’s something that you developed overtime or noticed as you got older (like acne, difficulty with school, social awkwardness, a bad habit, etc.) There is definitely help for these things, but pinpointing and acknowledging the issue is hard because it can feel like you’re admitting to having a weakness. But acknowledging a quality of yourself that you dislike can help you get on the path of seeking out a solution to it in a healthy manner, and in a manner that keeps your respect for yourself prevalent.

Society puts a lot of pressure on people to be skinny, hold certain beauty standards, get the highest test scores, abide by ‘gender roles,’ and to be a superhuman in a world filled with people who are obviously not that. These expectations are draining and damaging to people whether they are trying to fit inside of that mold or not. What doesn’t help the situation of overwhelming expectations is the bad habit that a lot of people have with comparing themselves to others.

You look over at someone’s paper and see that they have a higher score even though they are bragging about not putting effort into it. You study your butt off for a test and the slacker in class still seems to know everything by looking at it once. Or maybe you’re on the other side of this situation. You have to lie about how much effort you put into a paper just so your classmates don’t know how much frustration it put you through. You pretend to be the slacker in the class when in reality you sneak in study sessions whenever you can.


These expectations can be toxic and detrimental to overall health and they stop people from getting treatment because they believe that the majority of society will look down on them. “About six million people are affected by late life depression, but only 10% ever receive treatment.”(3) “Over 80% of the people that have symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving any specific treatment for their depression.”(4) Not only that, but “the number of patients diagnosed with depression increases by approximately 20% each year.”(5) Hopefully by seeing these statistics and data you will know that there are others out there who are also wary of seeking help. Even without our common knowledge there are so many of us who need to know that we’re not alone.

The issue can start small, like eating a little less each day, until you are more concerned with the idea of holding off on eating than the idea of being healthy. I’m not suggesting that one random missed meal is a sign of an eating disorder, but there are very relevant signs to pay attention to that could mean that something is wrong. Even if you aren’t able to get in contact with a doctor soon, contacting a professional is still preferable over self-diagnosing. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a doctor right away it’s still a good idea to have someone that you can express your feelings to in the meantime. If it’s not a family member or a friend, there are support groups that meet up physically and online. For people who need a safe place, these can be havens. Just keep in mind that doctors are here to help and that they can provide you with things, like medication and therapy, that those support groups will not be able to.

You must also keep in mind that while friends and family can be great sources of comfort, they will not be able to help you the way that a professional will be able to. While support is good, certain issues require professional care. A good idea for meeting with a doctor is to have some sort of plan in your head of what you’re going to tell them about your symptoms so that you are prepared to explain your situation in a more clear and organized way. Being prepared takes a lot of stress out of the situation and can make the healing process easier for you.

The point of seeking heimageslp is for you to attempt to take back some of your peace and happiness.  Treatment is not an overnight answer, but “up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of these treatments.”(6)

Even if the issue in your life isn’t depression, there are still ways that you can improve your situation. If you’re worried about a grade in a class you’re currently taking, you don’t need to worry about looking dumb by seeking help for that class because by doing so you are improving yourself.  If you think that you have a problem regarding weight, be willing to fix it healthily and don’t worry about how others will react. Don’t let stereotypes about your geographical locati
on, subculture, race, or your personal insecurities hold you back, be willing to improve yourself so that you can feel a sense of personal achievement in knowing that you helped yourself.

A lot of the issues in our life can seem like they’re never going to go away, that you’re helpless against them, and that there is no solution, but you would be surprised at what is available to you to aid in your process of healing. Don’t let society hold you back from believing in yourself and having the confidence to seek out what makes you happy and healthy. Remember, when it comes down to it, you are the one who is going to have to wake up every morning as yourself, not classmates, not people on the internet, or any other members of society. You are the person who can help yourself the most. Stay healthy, stay confident, stay woke. Adios.

Thank you to DBSA for helping people with disorders and for being a reliable resource for spreading awareness to those who are less knowledgeable about these disorders!

Sources (by order of appearance)
1(Center for Mental Health Services, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1996)
2(National Center for Education Statistics)
3(Brown University Long Term Care Quarterly, 1997)
6(National Institute of Health, 1998)

Alanna Anderson in a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram


Posted in 2015-2016, Culture, Entertainment

Why You Should Like Marvel Universe LIVE!


By Alanna Anderson

The idea of seeing a show up close and personal has been around for centuries, but modern technology has given it a new edge. Some of those cool things are the introduction of voice overs during the show, improved lighting, video backgrounds, and safe ways of suspending performers from the ceiling. Recently I attended a show with all of these features that goes by the name of…(*drumroll*)…Marvel Universe LIVE!

Marvel Universe LIVE! contains “25+ characters” and “1 epic quest.” As expressed in the title, the show is a live performance and fully takes advantage of a lot of the performance technology that has recently become available. The show is meant for a family audience so the jokes are PG rated, but they still contain small references that can only be caught by older viewers. Even without being a genuine fan of the Marvel universe, someone can still enjoy the performance and even some of the various puns. But that’s part of the reason why this article is being written: so that I can inform you of the pros and cons to see if this show is right for you.


Pros and Cons

Pro: The Decorations in the Lobby

This technically isn’t part of the show, but it was still appealing. Even though I wasn’t transported into a “whole new world,” I still enjoyed the efforts that were made to incorporate the Hulk into a hat for employees to wear. So while the Spiderman webs hanging from the toy carts and the Marvel posters pasted everywhere were cool, maybe it was the suffering-glint in the employee’s eyes as they tried to sound enthusiastic with Thor on their head that really got me going.

Con: A Lot of the Attendees (Especially the Screaming Kids)

I understand that a show like this would draw in little kids, including my brother, but you can only get pushed by so many little Ironman’s before you start to lose your patience. Ironically, the only place that wasn’t crowded was the woman’s bathroom. While walking to the security guards to have them check my ticket, Soccer Mom #1 with the Unneat Bun bumped me with her purse. While walking up a set of stairs to get to the floor that had my seat, little Ironman, Hulk, Spiderman, Thor, Black Widow, and probably the whole Marvel Universe knocked into me. There were polite people that tried to stay out of my
way, but for the most part we were all so crowded together that it seemed like we were trying to imitate the codependency of Dean and Sam Winchester from
Supernatural. One of the worst parts had to be when I was standing in front of the toy cart to wait for my brother to pick something and Soccer Mom #2 with the Messy Bun and Mismatched Outfit, reached her arm so close in front of my face to point at something that I could see the mustard stain on her lavender cardigan, and smell the unpleasant scent of baby wipes mixed with olive oil. I still haven’t let that go, Soccer Mom #2.


Pro: The Snow Cone Cups

I was even further immersed in the show when I had the experience of slurping syrup out of Spider-Man’s head. I had finally caved in to the yelling and coaxing of the walking employees and decided to purchase a snow cone during an intermission. While the snow
cone itself wasn’t that good, it’s cool to have a Spider-Man head as a souvenir. I do have to wonder how many people have spent their money on this though since it 1. wasn’t very filling, and 2. was one of those purchases that while it doesn’t really mean much, it seems to make me think back and wonder if the money spent in the heat of the moment was worth it.

Con: The Cost

This is something that varies depending upon your own personal experience, but the cost of my family going was more expensive than some people would like to spend. The cost of four front row seats was about $360 — which is $90 each. I’ve listed this as a con because while my family was fine with this, it could be a deal breaker for other people. Front row seats gave us what we thought was the best experience, but it could still be fun for anyone anywhere that they may be seated. The problem with being in a different seat is that you may not be able to see all of the performance details and actors’ facial expressions, the person in front of you may be too tall to see over, and these problems are even more apparent when you’re faced with the fog that blows out fairly often due to performance enhancement. I personally loved my seat, but as always when you’re making a purchase, you have to figure out how much you’re willing to sacrifice for the sake of entertainment.

Theater-Marvel Universe Live

Pro: The Show Itself

Despite the cons that I’ve listed, I would definitely go to the show again and my family has agreed with me. It did at times feel as if the intermissions in the beginning were dragging on, but the show was a very enjoyable two hours. It’s background info was presented like a story by using video and voice over to make it seem like current news channels were speaking about a catastrophe happening in our world. The characters in the show had a 70’s-action-movie-flair and entered by flipping and jumping and climbing over ramps. Their actions were very exaggerated, but that added to the appeal of seeing a performance. Not only was there an actual plot to the show, but the large amount of action enhanced it instead of seeming to be random additions. The performers hung from the ceiling, rode around, did tricks on motorbikes, fought each other, and told amusing/horrible puns and fighting lines.

Like with the performers it’s obvious that the crew cared a lot about the production. The costumes seemed straight out of an action movie, the fighting choreography and stuntswere really entertaining, and the special effects helped the show. It was just really awesome to see and to know that there are people who care about the production of a show being amazing. It’s pretty rare that I have no issues with a show, but with this one I couldn’t really find any faults. There were no mistakes (that I know of), the story was organized and not just random fighting scenes with no connection to the plot of the show, all of the audience seemed to be completely entertained, and afterwards I kept replaying parts in my head that stuck with me. Not only do I give this show an 8/10, but I also recommend it to anyone who is into family-rated live action shows — and wants a Spider-Man head you can drink out of.

Live shows definitely aren’t for everyone, but they continue to be an element of our society that is still revered by many. Maybe it’s the sparkling lights, dazzling acting, and special effects — maybe it’s even the parts of the show that we personally think suck. Seeing a show live gives the audience a feeling of being connected and involved with the show. To many, the talent that it takes to not (noticeably) mess up and to nail a performance every time without the use of editing makes live shows more impressive than recorded shows. Either way, there most likely won’t be an end to live shows anytime soon. We seem to need this connection to the past that improves as time goes on. As long as people are still willing to use art to express culture and thoughts, and are willing to choose spending their money on shows over other things, the live show experience that we have today will not only continue, but also continue to get better.

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

Happy Harvest Festival

By Alanna Anderson

When you think of Thanksgiving, you may smell the teasing aroma of cinnamon from pumpkin pie, and see steam from a hot casserole. Or, maybe, you’re at a restaurant watching the waiters and waitresses scramble around to make it feel like home for their own feast. Wherever you are, and whoever you’re with, you’re doing something on Thanksgiving. We all have our own specific way of celebrating this holiday, but what was it like before our time? When the Native Americans and pilgrims sat together in 1621, did they suck cranberry sauce off of their fingers and watch a game? While they actually did neither of these, they did have a celebration notable enough that it carries on today.

“Remember to be grateful for the little things.”

First and foremost, some background information. Thanksgiving is often thought to have been made official by the pilgrims, but in reality the holiday wasn’t even popular or celebrated by all states for a while. Even when it wasn’t popular, there were other states (such as Texas) that claim to have people that celebrated it before the pilgrims.  It wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday. The decision to do so wasn’t instantaneous and it took the support of citizens, housewives especially. Writers such as Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, various cookbooks, and the editor of a magazine called Godley’s Lady’s Book, also helped the holiday be recognized. Something to take note of is the fact that Thanksgiving was about celebrating the harvest and reflecting on the struggles that were overcome. Another important fact to remember is that the pilgrims didn’t call the holiday “Thanksgiving,” it was just a “harvest festival.”

Now, it’s time for a little imagining. Close your eyes and imagine the perfect Thanksgiving. Does the delicious blend of food and companionship lift your mood? Can you see the golden skin of a stuffed turkey roasted to perfection in the center of a cloth-covered table? The same cloth-covered table that holds sweet potatoes next to cranberry sauce, and creamy gravy across from smooth pumpkin pie with golden, flaky crust. This isn’t what the Native Americans and Pilgrims saw. In fact, turkey wasn’t even that important to them. We know from Plymouth Colony governor William Bradford that they ate wild turkey, but they believed that waterfowl was the one who deserved the most love. Meat from waterfowl (which include duck, geese, swan, and eagle) was the most desired meat at the feast, and on the side was venison (deer), pigeon, eels, and shellfish. Other than these “delectable dishes,” porridge, peas, walnuts, plums, onions, carrots, and Indian corn also had a spot on the menu. What they didn’t have was pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce because they lacked the supplies for it. Men would go hunting together for “bro-time” and when they came back the women would tirelessly prepare the food. Aspects of this carry on today, except it is more common for a man to go “hunting” at a supermarket than outdoors, and men’s presence in the kitchen has notably increased.

After reading that, you may wonder how exactly the modern Thanksgiving came to be. Other than the fact that people love to eat and want an opportunity to eat more, an important reason was social impact and the introduction of modern traditions into an old, slightly unknown holiday. Many cookbook writers incorporated more elaborate recipes in their books that encouraged housewives (which, the majority of wives were at the time) to feel that Thanksgiving was cool, and fun, and something that any respectable family should be involved with. And really, who didn’t want to prove that they were a respectable family in the 1800s? America began to realize that they were missing out on food, and tradition, and impressing people.

There’s also the fact that modern America has the resources to trade and export that were not available back then, making it nearly impossible for the partakers of the Plymouth Thanksgiving to have things such as sweet potatoes.


This varies from the typical image that we have of Thanksgiving today:  the indoor celebration with the exaggerated turkey decorations hanging all over the place, and the odd candle names being advertised on TV and home magazines. There’s also the obvious difference that the Native Americans and pilgrims weren’t able to cram themselves into a living room to watch football together. There was no celebrating or groaning at a touchdown that was made, or name calling at a player who just wasn’t playing the way they should’ve been, or playing just a bit too well.

In actuality they had their feast outdoors. Just imagine trying to fit everyone into those houses of theirs! Instead of watching TV, they made do with what they had by playing games like “stool ball,”which is basically just volleyball. There was also the typical running games which, to put it simply, entailed running. “Catch” was a common game as well as shooting marbles through a “knicker box” and playing the “Pin Game.” Compared to other things about the feast, what they did for entertainment isn’t widely known. Apparently, they collectively decided that telling the future about food was important though.

Whatever it is that you get up to on Thanksgiving — whether it’s causing mischief with family, acquaintances, friends, or by yourself — remember to be grateful for the little things. Life definitely has its struggles but there are small things to be happy about too. Take indoor plumbing for an example, something that we take for granted but has unfortunately been scarce in earlier eras. Take this time to reflect on the things around you that fill you with joy — even if the amount is small. Despite the fact that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving the way that we did before we still have at least one thing in common, and that’s that the holiday is a time to be joyful, and thankful, and loving.

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram. 

Posted in Culture, October 2015


By Alanna Anderson and Amelia Lowry

Fall is in the air and in our lattes, and there’s no denying that distinct autumn scent that blows in the wind.  The people at Yankee Candle know this best, and will collect thousands of dollars this season alone with scents like, “November Rain”, and “Autumn in the Park”.

Something smells fishy here, and it isn’t just a candle.

For those of us who have had or are evil siblings, we know the old catch-a-smell-in-the-jar trick, and we can’t be fooled twice. There is no way that they could capture the autumn air in a jar and mix it into wax, right? These sneaky labels must be taking familiar scents associated with fall and claiming them to be something they aren’t — and it happens right under our noses. That is, of course, unless Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle are actually powered by super-human, malicious siblings who have mastered the art of trapping the smelly air inside a container, but our sources beg to differ.

There are many scents that our noses automatically categorize under a common fall-theme. Pumpkins, for instance, are almost always seen as a fun October activity — whole days are devoted to going to the pumpkin patch and picking out the best pumpkin in all of the land. After we snatch them from their comfortable homes in the dirt, we make them into pumpkin pies, roast their pumpkin seeds, slice and butcher them into Jack-o-Lanterns, and even squash up their innards for use in a pumpkin-spice latte. Cinnamon and apples have frequented their visits in seasonal scents as well. Finally, there’s nothing that screams fall more than a nice, smoky bonfire — but this can be achieved with a fairly small amount of effort considering the candle itself is on fire.

And, as it is, many of these familiar scents have been adopted by brands and given abstract names, when they really all smell the same. Bath & Body Works in particular has a penchant for apple-smelling perfumes and lotions, and the overuse of apples goes unnoticed once it is in its incognito form. While we understand that names such as “Crisp Morning Air”, “Bright Autumn Day” and “Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin” all give the illusion of smelling independently, each must consist of apple– straight to the core.

At least these fragrances have distinguishable contents. In some cases, candles have many more layers than what appears on the surface. Names like “Flannel” can be misleading– believe it or not, flannel candles don’t smell like cotton, and they don’t smell like elderly men from the smoky streets of Hagerstown.  It does, however, smell like the boys’ changing room in gym class. Not that we’ve been in there often…

What does a mountamlodgein lodge smell like to you? We were thinking it might smell like pines, maybe even bonfire-esque. Even the scent of fresh bed sheets washed with woodsy detergent would have been acceptable. In reality, “Mountain Lodge” by Yankee Candle also smells like an adolescent locker room and much more like the Hollister store than we feel is appropriate. It seems more logical that one would bring an axe on a trip to a cabin in the woods opposed to a can of Axe (how would you go about chopping wood with that?) but hey, you never know. “Sweater Weather” by Bath & Body Works doesn’t smell like Goodwill, and it doesn’t smell like The Neighbourhood, but it does smell a lot like a tree and that raises its own questions.

Some seasonal scents are less abstract, but they’re just as shameful as their artsy-fartsy co
unterparts solely because of the goofy commercialism behind them. A solid example of this so-called goofy commercialism would be the Mandle, or man candle– invented especially for people who think that candles have genders. These Mandles are the epitome of masculinity– there are no ‘manlier’ candles than bacon-scented candles and plywood-scented candles, after all. In other words, we see you toxic masculinity, we see you. As if this wasn’t disappointing enough, the Mandle called “On Tap” smells exactly like horse pee– just like beer.  

This could easily turn into a game: the objective would be to get a
fun, effervescent candle that would smell nice and make your home more seasonal, but first you have to pass the societal pressures and accept the fact that smelling good doesn’t belong to either gender binary.

Overall, you shouldn’t let a fragrance company get in the way of your autumn. Go outside, smell the November Rain and the Crisp Morning Air. Don’t believe everything you smell in a candle store. Better yet, buy what you want, whether you especially enjoy the scent of apples or if smelling plywood does it for you. Happy sniffing!

Alanna Anderson and Amelia Lowry are both Sophomores at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

Posted in 2015-2016, Culture

Halloween Costume or Creative Lingerie?

By Alanna Anderson

If you’ve decided to go trick or treating this year you may’ve been bombarded with questions on how you’ll go about it. Will you go with a younger sibling to have a more plausible excuse? Will you go with a group of friends to have company? Or will you take the journey alone? There’s also the tedious decision of buying or making a costume.

If you’re like a lot of other people then you either don’t know how to sew, don’t want to take the time to learn how to sew, or don’t have time to sew–this leaves the Halloween Store.

It’s a building full of easily broken props, dramatic masks, and other things that you may never pick up again. It’s also full of costumes that are quirky, disturbing, and slightly childish. Not just those but also the female costumes; the female costumes that get shorter and flashier by the year. Despite the constant pressure for girls to not show skin, but also not be a prude, Halloween seems to be one of the biggest days where girls are supposed to show more than their male counterparts. After a quick journey through Google Images I can say one thing for sure: I’m a bit offended.

For starters, the male and female bacon costume. A choice for those who believe that bacon flavored toothpaste isn’t enough to meet their daily requirement of bacon exposure. Or bacon flavored floss, bacon patterned sandals, or bacon sunglasses and phone cases. The guy is in a full black outfit, everything covered except for his hands, feet, and face. The bacon part of it comes into play with a long strip of bacon like cloth covering the front of his body. And I can’t forget to include his smile, he sure seems to be enjoying looking like bacon. The girl is wearing a dress version of bacon. It’s a single strap dress that looks like bacon where one side ends on a pointed angle at her knee, and the other ends above mid-thigh. She pairs this off with light beige heels and a Miss America smile.

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The next costumes that I compared were the male and female mouse costumes. The costume for people who are a mouse, duh. The man is completely covered in a grey onesie, except for the white oval-shaped patch on his stomach, and the mouse face and ears on the hood. He is posed with his hands bent at the wrist and his face partially covered by the hood. The female has on a tight, strapless dress that is all grey except for the white patch that extends from the start of the dress under her cleavage, to the beginning of her waist. If you look closely you can see a slight hood on her head where the mouse ears are. The dress ends above mid-thigh and she poses with her hands on her hips and her legs apart on her all black wedge heels.

The last, and most…intriguing, costume was the Ernie costume. In case you need a reminder, he is the orange monster on Sesame Street who annoys Bert and sings about his rubber ducky. The man dons a complete costume. His pants are blue, and connected to it is a striped yellow, red, and white shirt. Resting on his face is a big Ernie mask, and in one hand he holds a rubber duckie. The woman is wearing blue booty shorts and a long sleeved shirt that is striped yellow, blue, white, and red, but only covers 2/3 of her breasts because the front ends in a bikini fashion. Blue suspenders connect the shorts and shirt together and on her head is a small hat in the shape of the upper half of Ernie’s face.

This article wouldn’t be complete without a  mention of the other costumes that also stole my attention (along with fabric from women’s clothing). These honorable costume mentions go to the great white shark, Oscar from Sesame Street, Bert from Sesame Street, a half blue/black and half gold/white dress, Nemo, Scooby-Doo, and corn.    

The first and foremost thought in my mind: is fall not cold where they live? I can’t imagine walking outside in something that revealing with how cold it gets in Hagerstown. Second, why walk around in heels that high if you have to go from door to door all night? And third, and most importantly, why do the girls have to show more skin?

Overall, it is a person’s choice of how much skin they want to show (in the correct setting), but to mass produce only revealing costumes seems to remove that choice. How are girls supposed to gain confidence in an appearance fueled culture if they go from Tinkerbell to ‘sexy’ Ernie straight away with no lapse for confidence in between? As a society how are we supposed to empower girls to have self-worth when they’re constantly being told what is appropriate and what isn’t — only to be told that on a holiday meant for fun they have to dress a certain way. That’s almost like someone telling a pre-schooler that they have to learn the alphabet to succeed — then handing them the letters out of order.

In a society where the sexualization of females is becoming more and more apparent, how are we doing our part to overcome it? How will we ensure that girls aren’t attacked just for replicating the things they see all around them? In this society, where is the balance between a woman’s self-confidence and self-worth and what society expects of her? How much more self-esteem has to be destroyed before the balance is finally found?

Alanna Anderson is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts