Monday, December 22, 2008

I-Spy for movie-mind

Every so often, I experience a weird moment when I'm watching a movie in a theater.

I restrain myself from falling fully into a film.

The typical movie-goer enters a cinema, grabs a seat and waits for the feature presentation. The movie starts and viewer willingly relinquishes sight, feeling and hearing to the story plastered across the silver screen.

I mean that is the whole point of going to a movie: being exposed to an environment, event, experience that is unique, hard-to-come-by through a certain lens, perspective; that's the draw of them. That's why sometimes I'll pay $10 to go to Regal or Bethesda Row.

But, have you ever noticed how weird Hollywood is? American filmmakers and producers make nearly 1,000 movies a year, all different, but there's only a handful of people to play the roles.

We see the same person (Tom Cruise) play a honorary Samurai in one movie, a German WWII officer in another, a pilot in another and a sports agent in another. Different eras, wildly different stories and different people with different characters. And for whatever reason our brains don't even register that we're seeing the same face. I mean, we might recognize that it's Tom Cruise, but it doesn't affect our absorption of the story.

I think when actors are type-casted (i.e. Michael Cera as the awkwardly cute boy-next-door), it makes sense. But, it's interesting; type-casting seems to be looked down upon. Same role over and over again. No challenge. But, it seems like it's a natural thing; it makes sense.

It's also weird to tell yourself that the people you are seeing are acting. They aren't really the person. I mean, it's to be obvious to know that these celebrities are not in fact the characters they play, but sometimes during a movie, it's weird to conciously know that these people are just reciting lines.

But, I guess it is more than that. It's not just reciting lines, especially when you are watching really good actors and actresses. It's those people who really trick your mind to believe you're seeing the real deal, in the actual time and place, that are the award-winners. And even then, I still think a lot of amazing actors and actresses are overlooked or compromised by star-studded politics.

Friday, December 19, 2008

2008's soundtrack podcast

I made a podcast highlighting my favorite tracks off of my soundtrack to 2008.

Download it here, to play on your iTunes or other media player.

Soundtrack to 2008

Pitchfork has taken their holiday hiatus, so they haven't been posting as often. They've instead been sharing lists ranking their favorite albums and tracks of 2008.

There's not many surprises to faithful Pitchfork readers: Crystal Castles, Vivian Girls, and No Age, among others, fall within the top 20.

I just posted the "eight greats," or things that really made 2008 fantastic, last entry. That kind of gives you a taste of my life through out the last 12 months, but, like I wrote here, music is the true memory capture-r.

So, here's the 8 albums of 2008. Some of these did not come out in 2008, so don't be misled to think this represents what the music industry did this year. These are the singles, the beats, the melodies, that I couldn't get enough of (and still can't).

These are the songs that made me smile when I walked to class on cold Syracuse days, the songs that I fell asleep to warm under my down comforter, the songs I'd wish would play at a house party so I could dance out to the fullest with friends. These are the songs I lived my life to in 2008.

Ray LaMontagne, Trouble
LaMontagne's homespun soulful voice soothes the spirit. I've grown to love every song on the album, and it didn't take much time. He released A Gossip in the Grain this year, but Trouble still ranks as my favorite album by him. Trouble is all about love, but not all sappy, predictable manifestiations of it; he gives it to you real, the good and the bad, natural, familar love that all listeners can relate, and attest, to.
[favorite track: Jolene] [close second: Shelter]

Kings of Leon, Only By the Night
Kings released Only By the Night in 2008, and at first, I didn't like it. I thought it was too much of the same, not too different from their old stuff. I was wrong; I admit it. Only By the Night really showcases Jared Followill on bass, playing intergral parts in the development of Use Somebody and 17. Listeners can really tell that Kings have played together a long time, just by how well-composed and, may I dare say, juicy their tracks are. Their debut released in 2003 and they've been rocking ever since, even in this, their fourth album.
[favorite track: Use Somebody] [close second: Manhattan]

Lykke Li, Youth Novels
She's got moves. She's got the cutest voice ever. She's got the formula to the perfect indie pop song down pat. Just listen to this album; it has 14 perfectly executed examples. I've made a fool of myself walking down the streets of Syracuse, unable to keep myself from walking with a hip shake here or lip sync there; it's truely addicting/contagious/Swedish.
[favorite track: Dance Dance Dance] [close second: Let it fall]

MGMT, Oracular Spectacular
I've loved MGMT since the minute Joe Ryder played Electric Feel for me. This album is fantastic; I can't even count how many times I've listened to it all the way through. It will make you want to dance, sing along, pick up an instrument, see them live. Their next album is due out sometime in 2009, with the help of the Chemical Brothers. The 14-minute Metanoia single released late this summer and, if it is any indication of what MGMT will give us in the future, I'm boosted to the fullest.
[favorite track: The Handshake] [close second: Weekend Wars]

Bonus video:

Broken Social Scene, Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene's 2005 self-titled release received most playtime by me this year than it ever had in the past. The pending Bonnaroo experience brought them back to the top of my iPod's "most listened to," and rightfully so. If you're not familiar with the best thing Canada has most-likely ever contributed to indie music, pick up this album. Everything is fantastic: the energy really makes some songs chug on like a speeding freight train, others showcase the pure beauty that can come out of well-designed, well-played music. You need this album.
[favorite track: Fire Eye'd Boy] [close second: Swimmers]

RaRaRiot, The Rhumb Line
My dearest RaRaRiot, how you've grown. From the small sets at Mezzanotte and FunkNWaffles, you're now superstars, playing national tours and even being featured on Nordstrom BP's playlist (it's super weird to hear it while working). I had only been accustomed to getting my RaRa fix live or with old recordings, but Rhumb Line offered me a whole new option with old classics and new additions. Great thing is, RaRa is still RaRa: indie pop with strings and catchy beats/melodies.
[favorite track: Too Too Too Fast] [close second: Oh, La]

Deichkind, Aufstand im Schlaraffenland
Jan showed me this band when I was in Germany, and it was like an epiphany. Could this be real? A really good German band? That's not to say Germans are bad musicians, but Americans really trump German's indie scene, no one can deny that. But, Deichkind was something new. They've deemed themselves "electro/hip hop" but all I know is that they make some mean dance songs.
[favorite track: Remmidemmi] [close second: Limit]

Bonus: Kopf oder Zahl (deichkind remix), Jennifer Rostock

Sigur Ros, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
This Icelandic band's fifth album did not fail to impress by any means. I'd like to think this is the most pop, pedestrian album they've produced, but they've still maintained the pure beauty that is at the heart of their sound. It's all in Icelandic, but I think that makes it better; English would hurt it's value.
[favorite track: Við Spilum Endalaust] [close second: Gobbledigook]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Click here to listen to the latest paigewithwords podcast.

eight greats of '08

I've almost forgotten it's Christmas time. Syracuse's early-afternoon dusk and snow made it much easier to believe it was December, but, since I've been home in Maryland, it's been warm and rainy like spring.

I've noticed that as I get older, my anticipation grows for my New Year's eve plans rather than the discovery of gifts from Santa under the tree.

2009 is exactly two weeks away, and I'm realizing that another whole year as gone by. But, my god, what a fantastic year 2008 was.

The Eight Greats of '08 (in no particular order)

People complain that Bonnaroo is getting "too mainstream" and it's not worth going to anymore. Sure, there was Kanye West (horrible, but more memorable of a set than any of his good ones) and Jack Johnson, but Rilo Kiley, Broken Social Scene, Sigur Ros, Sharon Jones, Avett Bros, Willie Nelson? All in one place? Not to mention, kickin' it with 10 of your closest guy friends on a 700-acre stretch of farmland in Tennesee with no rules, no judgments, no hostility; just music, love and great times. People have it right when they describe it as the modern day Woodstock. One of the best times of my life.

Twenty-one years of existance; beer me
August 15th marked my 21st birthday. College Park bars, backyard BBQ w/ pinata & games and a huge after party at Nate's with a dance party and booze. GREAT day and thanks to everyone for making it so special.

Fall semester
While we're on the subject of drinking, I wasn't misled to believe that life as a legal adult was 100x better than being underage. I was able to spend a lovely Friday in downtown Syracuse at Syracuse Beer Fest with Josh. Thursday Trivia Nights at the Inncomplete got me through the week; cheap good beers, great company, cool set-up. I even went on a little roadtrip with friends to Wagner's, a fingerlake vineyard/brewery. I discovered Al's Wine and Whiskey, which pretty much is the place to be, with party games, wine and, you guessed it, whiskey.

Ashley, I need the exact recipe for that fantastic orange juice, peach concoction, or better yet, I need you to come over and make them, and then we can play banana.

The epic roadtrip to Albany to see a FREE MGMT & Justice show. It had just started as a suggestion to Yofred that we should totally go to this SoCo sponsored show, but it snowballed into two packed cars of guys and myself to spend the day at in the middle of no-where, drinking heavily, playing beanbag, scoring free stuff and listening to Matt&Kim and Justice, among other bands. MGMT's drummer broke his foot so they were a no-show. But it was still fantastic! I was able to meet Jason, Nick, Drew and Andres, with whom I've been able to develop great friendships over the past few months. Plus, I got to talk to two dudes from Pitchfork! And I was included, hilariously, in a profile of Justice.

Black Keys in Columbus

Nick Fink came over to get some music. Nick Fink mentioned he was going to Ohio to see the Black Keys. Nick Fink offered a seat in his car to me. I went.

Nick, Jason, myself and Travis embarked on an incredible weekend in Columbus. We saw Black Keys in a fantastic small outdoor venue on a warm autumn evening, and they rockeddd it. The show still ranks #1 in my top 5 shows of all-time. We stayed with Jason's brother Max, whom goes to OSU and has a Columbus apartment,and met his friends, whom were awesome.

I was able to see my family from Ohio-- Papa and Uncle Bobby-- and I spent the day with them, shopping and talking politics (more like agreeing-to-disagreeing politics). Bobby always says, "There's a reason why they call conservatives the right wing."

The night after the Black Keys' show, Max's band played in this shitty basement bar and they were great. On the way home we drove through Clevelandto see where Jason grew up and meet his mom. We decided early on in the trip that we were going to also make this adventure a beer tour, so we stopped off at brews across New York, PA and Ohio on the way to and back from Columbus.

I came back to Syracuse a changed woman: knowing a lot more about beer, blown away by the Black Keys and with a tainted perception of candlesticks.

A two-week family vacation to Kassel, Germany to visit Mimi Ruth and Manfred turned into a 10-day trip to Cologne to visit Jan and Marvin, with the beginning and end few days spent at the intended destination. The german boys had visited America between my freshman and sophomore year of college, but I had not been to Germany since senior year of high school and I didn't think I was going to have the opportunity to go back. I had the BEST time, seeing Jan's family and Marvin's family, clubbing, shopping, relaxing, going to bars, just spending time with meinem Schatz!

Friends (NOT the show)
My friends make me so happy; From being partners-in-crime to dealing with my quirks (boardgames, pig noises, grey hair, dancing, paige-isms) and loving me anyways, I don't know what I'd do without them. Every single one of them are special to me, from my best friends to anyone who's outgoing enough to come to my house on a whim.

My Maryland friends make home fantastic, and never fail to make me crack up.

I lost all my syracuse girlfriends to London, Spain and Australia early in '08, but after patiently waiting, they all returned to me; and boy did we have fun this fall.

I know, if all else fails, I have you all to brighten my day, make me smile and remind me of what's great in life.

Ultimate Frisbee
Anytime when I make a list, it is so easy to think of the great things that happened in the most recent past, but I don't want to forget about spring semester. Ultimate frisbee filled many voids in my life: missing a team sport/soccer, missing close knit girlfriends. I learned the game with the help of all the girls on Fox Force Seven and I soon found myself in love with the game. Spring Break was fantastic, playing ultimate all day long in beautiful warm Georgian weather. Ultimate pushed me to do things I didn't think I'd ever do (laying out) and created great friendships on both the girls' and guys' team.

I could not wait to come home to Maryland for the warm weather to play pick-up games with Dan Harp and Co. early on in the summer on La Plata beach.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy in Becoming Jane.
McAvoy is irresistible.

Click here for the newest podcast!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Click here to listen to my first paigewithwords podcast!

Clarification: mixtape coming soon!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Corruption Central

When news first broke of Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich's flagrant bribery and obvious power trip, my first reaction was bewilderment.

Blagojevich was trying to sell the vacant senate seat that President-Elect Obama would be giving up in January. He also was threatening to withhold funding from Children's Memorial Hospital unless the editorial staff at the Chicago Tribune were fired, because he had gotten poor press in the past.

The amount of power and just plain balls this governor had blew my mind. [Also a mind blower: that this ameature sketch of him titled 'The Face of Disgrace" has one bid on eBay. Hurry while you can, you might be even able to get it over-nighted in time for the holidays.] [pps: Is it just me or does his eye-to-face ratio remind you of John Travolta?]

Subsequently, media outlets began to look back into the history of Illinois government for follow-up stories.

It turns out that you don't have to go back too far to find another corrupt governor; try Blagojevich's precessor, George Ryan.

Ryan currently resides in a prison, serving a 6-and-a-half uear sentence after dealing state contracts and leases to political insiders.

Looks like instead of avoiding abusing power, Blagojevich took cues from Ryan on how to do just that.

And it is not just confined to the governor's office. Illinois 1926 senator Frank L. Smith took took "the modern-day equivalent of $14.5 million in campaign contributions from the owner of a utility he regulated," according to an article on Quad Cities Online. Illinois' citizens elected Smith, but his fellow Senators in the U.S. Senate refused to let him take office, based on his sketchy track record.

With Illinois a suspect hotbed for political corruption, it is only logical to have reservations about Barack Obama.

Don't get me wrong. I voted for Obama; I think he's the kind of person we need in the Oval Office to start changing American government in the places it needs work. But I think it's only logical to recognize the political past of Illinois politicians and be critical as a result.

I'm not saying Obama is going to take bribes or demand change by the weight of money. I think he's been more transparent and moral honest than most past politicans with his stand to not accept lobbyist money as well as making sure his transitional team has not ties to lobbying agencies or groups.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday happenings

The Post-Standard had a delightful post today about downtown Syracuse’s Christmas-pasts and invited readers to share their memories. It’s a bittersweet mix of nostalga and depressing reality of how far the city has fallen since those memorable times.

Sure, Syracuse could do a lot better economically, but I think the city still has something to offer people, especially SU students.

5 things to do in Syracuse during the Christmas season

1. Ice skating in Clinton Square
For $3 “admission” and $3 rentals, you can’t go wrong! The rink is actually quite large, covering the pond that is usually there any other time of the year. The square’s huge lighted Christmas tree and various light displays illuminate the landscape around the rink, as Christmas music hangs in the air. I had a great time; it wasn’t too crowded, the rentals were pretty good and the company was delightful.

2. Simmer down now
My mom always used to make a “simmer pot” during the winter, combining spices in a small pot on the stove and leaving it on simmer. Result: a house that smells just like Christmas. So drown out the smell of beer and laundry sheets with this seasonale scent!
5 to 6 cinnamon sticks, broken
1 tbsp. lemon peel
1 tbsp. orange peel
1/2 c. whole cloves
1 tbsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. whole allspice
1 tbsp. bay leaf pieces
2 slices dried apples, optional

Combine ingredients. Add water to simmer on stove top or in potpourri pot.
3. The Christmas Story at the Landmark

The Landmark Theatre on South Salina is having a holiday movie series. Today they showed Jim Carrey’s The Grinch but next Sunday they’re showing the classic The Christmas Story. What is Christmas without leg lamps, “you’ll shoot your eye out” references and boys getting their tongues stuck to freezing metal poles? Incomplete. Don’t watch it on TBS like you do every year; go to the Landmark instead with a group of friends. $3

4. Lights on the Lake
Buckle up and drive around a two-mile stretch of road near Onondaga Lake to bear witness to an assortment of light displays. I’m going with a car-full tomorrow night. $6 if you go on Monday or Tuesday with a Wegman’s card; $8 otherwise. Open 5 to 10 nightly until Jan. 4.

5. Hang some mistletoe
The tenants that lived in my apartment last year must have been really into the holiday season because their mistletoe still hangs from the ceiling in the doorway to our living room. People have been avoiding it all year, especially during beer pong (a few guys have had a few close calls). Hang up some of that poisonous plant in common places and demand compliance with the tradition: you have to kiss! Take pictures of goofy occurrences and share them with us!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Since I'm already on the music topic

So I like music. A lot.

People often assume I play music after realizing how much time I spend listening and reading about it.

The depressing thing is I don't. Not currently at least.

I began playing trumpet in fourth grade. Being the tomboy I was, I wanted to break norms that girls only played flute. I was that obnoxious prepubescent feminist. I feel a bit nauseated myself looking back on it too.

But, regardless, I really liked trumpet. In middle school, I was competitive about it and was one of the first chairs. For those who have never played in concert bands, typically instrument sections are split up relative to skill: first, second and third. The firsts have it the hardest, typically having solos and higher notes. Second and third parts compliment the first part, with notes in lower octaves to bring harmony to the overall sound.

Even more intensive, I took private lessons and I even went to overnight band camp. Get your loser coughs out now.

I continued in high school, but I didn't really care as much. It was fun, but I was not nearly as set on being a first trumpet. I started playing just for the fun of it. I even got to do jazz band senior year, making the most of it and even showcasing my love of vintage dresses at performances.

I brought my horn with me to Syracuse, but I've honestly played maybe 20 notes on the thing since I first got here four years ago. I miss it. I want to pick it up again, but I don't even know where to start. My sheet-music reading is rusty and my lips aren't in tip-top strength.

I passed up the opportunity to be in a ska band (Skip16) junior year of high school, and I really regret it. I feel like the only real opportunity to play in college would be in a jazz/funk/ska band. Had I played with Skip16, I would have already battles the jitters and first-time anxieties.

I've always loved bass guitar, so I gave it a swing over the summer. I really liked the challenge of learning something new and being able to create music, making compositions I've longed to hear other bands play.

I borrowed my friend Jimmy's sister's bass and amp and I taught myself some of the basics and how to read tabs. I can bang out a few covers and a standard Bb blues line, but I really want to get into it and maybe even be good enough/have enough of an understanding to play in a band and improvise.

So music players out there, any tips?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cosmic dancer

I love music.

Seriously. That’s not an exaggeration. What’s not to love?

I mean, I get warm fuzzies with I hear the perfect progression of chords (G, G/F#, Em, A, D, A, Bm: brownie points if you can tell me what song that’s from).

I even consider some guitar solos to be sexy (Weezer’s Only in Dreams; my god, the build-up is hot).

Music is that perfect boyfriend, who never fails to make you smile at just the right time. He is there when you need him and compliments your every mood (the highest highs and lowest lows). He always has an answer. He’s, like I said, perfect.

And he’s not one-dimensional. He’s complex, with obvious strengths you notice when you first meet him or within the first few weeks of your relationship (catchy beat, fun chorus). But, he also has underlying secrets you only discover the more time you spend with him (deeper lyrics, perfect break-downs). He’s rarely boring, although he does have his moments. Sometimes he can get repetitive if he plays it safe and doesn’t try new things (sophomore album flop). He grows with you—maturing, perfecting.

I can’t seem to wipe the smile off my face when I’m dancing. I’m instantly so incredibly happy, ask anyone. It’s something about feeling music’s beat and responding in the most natural way possible: just moving what feels right (see: hips, toes, feet, hands, head, body in full).

It’s a give-and-take relationship. I absorb the music, but in return I dance more energy into it, supporting each note with a hip thrust, pushing the beat stead on it's course and energetically anticipating what comes next.

I always daydream about dancing with a love interest, as if that would be some fantastic intersection of energy and happiness. I’ve had it happen a few times in my life; experiences where I was able to recognize their value mid-happening , and accordingly store away in memory all the moment’s sights/feelings/sounds/surroundings as a keepsake.

But those moments are rare. Those boys are rare. Those connections are rare.

My friend Mikey told me today that, “well, we all know why I like to dance with girls,” suggesting a much less euphoric motivation than what I had in mind.

Meet the male dancing rationale: stimulation. But, honestly, I'm not let down. It’s their loss.

I’ve got no complainants. Even if there are only a handful of boys that can really get down and work it, my boyfriend Music is always down to meet me on the dancefloor, without fail and with all the right moves.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Do not trust AP as real-life Early Edition

Huffington Post posted a story today reporting that the Associated Press released misleading information suggesting that former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Clinton’s first term Secretary of State Warren Christopher will be major players in President-elect Barack Obama’s transition into power.

Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Spokesperson Stephanie Cutter clarified Nunn and Christopher’s roles, stating that Nunn will serve as an informal advisor on defense and Christopher will not be used at all.

I do not know why newspapers attempt to predict the team before its formally announced. I can only imagine that this guessing game is an attempt to prove how well government beat writers "know" their stuff. It’s kind of that whole situation where a friend thinks they know you so well enough that they claim they know what you’re really thinking, even if it’s completely different from your actual feelings or thoughts.

The attempt by beat writers to boost their egos really just hurts the press in the end. People lose trust in reporting. Sure, you’ve covered government for X amount of years and you might have contacts that have a slight idea of who will be in that team, but why not get a direct quote involved in the transition? None? Sit tight. When they’re ready to announce who’s on the team, they will. Guesstimating the transition team is just a waste of time. Remember how much print space and coverage was dedicated to prediciting who was going to be McCain and Obama’s running mates in this year’s election? How many of those guessed correctly that there would be a McCain/Palin ticket? Zero.

Not only is readership misled by guesses, but the press is not even doing their job (see Ashley's most recent blog entry). We’re not gamblers or psychics. Journalism is about reporting factual, newsworthy content. It’s about telling stories and enlightening the public. If all the manpower put towards coverage on making these guesses or Obama’s new puppy or Mrs. McCain’s possible love affair was put towards things that actually matter, maybe the press would be able to cover things in less-publicized corners of communities or important topics not considered to be "mainstream."

UPDATE/SIDENOTE: Has anyone seen how much 2012 talk is going on (Palin? Huckabee? Jindal?)? Seriously. And we thought presidential campaign coverage was over.. fat chance; It's never over.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A rolling stone gathers no moss

During the spring semester of my freshman year, I went to the gym every morning when it opened at 6 so I could do an hour of cardio before I had class at 9:30. I quit drinking for the whole semester. I had a full schedule with classes that required me read every night, and I did those readings. I made dean’s list that spring and got down to my goal weight.

Slowly but surely I’ve grown less determined (see: lazy) over the past four years. The success doesn’t feel as rewarding at the end of the day, and it sure doesn’t make up for the struggles had to get there (hunger, tired, discomfort).

I don’t know what happened. I try to blame it on a list of excuses. I’m only taking 12 credits this semester, one of which is an internship at a newspaper and three others that are classes that have homework but I’ve determined I can get by without doing the readings. I try to explain that because I have so much free time, I don’t have motivation to work or work out. That doesn’t make any sense, but at the same time we all know how that feels (see: lazy).

It also helps that there’s no consequence. If I don’t stick to my diet, what’s the harm? I’m not overweight. I don’t think I look disgusting. Why do I put myself through discomfort if I don’t really want it? If I don’t do a reading, I will still get a good grade in the class. If I don’t go to that lecture, I’ll still be able to learn anything I missed from someone else.

It’s a burden and a gift. I can skip out on obligations and not feel the burn, but at the same time, I’m not bettering myself. I’m giving in to failure (see: lazy).

The thing is I should care. I have the capacity to be a really great person. I don’t have any illnesses or disabilities. I have, clearly, lots of time. So, what’s holding me back?

I think I need to read this blog every morning I wake up.

When googling "cures for being lazy," suggests:
1. Clearing your mind
When I have too many ideas rattling around in my head, fighting for my attention, I get overwhelmed and end up not wanting to do anything
2. Put your life in perspective
Laziness often requires a shock to your awareness to break you out of the little trance you are in. You are in a comfortable place and you think all is well. But then someone you love dies, or you get a huge bill come in that you don't have money for, and then it's like having a cold shower of reality -- it wakes you up to what you should have been doing.We have to think about what we want, and realize that time is running out, and if we don't do it, we will never experience the things we want to achieve in life.
3. Note the power of momentum

Laziness is just a habit, and habits take consistent effort to change for at least 30 days. Just keep moving and focusing on doing one thing after another. It's like stoking a fire, you have to poke the embers to get the flame going again. Avoid the actions or activities that lead to you feeling lazy: don't go to bed late and then sleep in till late in the morning. The person who isn't busy and occupied makes a big deal out of simple tasks, and puts them off, or takes ages with them. Become busy, keep your energy flowing, stay in motion through the day. The mind loves to be occupied, purposeful and focused -- these give it great energy and a sense of meaning.
4. Get emotional

Another good way to get yourself going is by comparing yourself to others. There comes a point where your laziness really hurts your self-esteem because you will find yourself getting left behind by your peers. This aspect of life is particularly noticeable if you are wanting to attract a partner. If you are lazy, you will have very little to offer them.
5. Reframing situations

Laziness is often quite selective. A man is lazing on a bench because he doesn't want to paint the wall but if a beautiful woman appears and asks for his help, he will jump up and help her (suddenly finding the energy!). What we have to do is find the thing(s) that we love to do, and see if there is anyway that we can do that as a career.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's just resort back to trading arrowheads.

If you buy something at the Bookstore, you have four ways of paying: cash, credit card, debt card or Bookstore charge account. Simple enough, right? Apparently not.

Gaffe #1: To charge or not to charge.

ATM cards are a modern convenience that has spared many trees from being made into paper checks and made it much easier to spend lots of money without really feeling the burn (until you later log on to your bank's online personal banking site). The cards can be used in ATM machines to draw money from your checking or savings accounts, but they also can be used right at the checkout register. Users have the option of using the ATM card as a credit or debit card. This is where things get, apparently, confusing.

My mom once told me that that when you choose to charge purchases, you are indeed withdrawing funds from your checking account but the withdraw is delayed, usually for about three days. This would come in handy if you wanted to buy something the day before you were getting paid and didn’t have all the money at that very moment, but would given a day or two. (photo credit)

Choosing debit would pull right out of your checking account, but it costs the account holder a fee with each transaction, somewhere in the ballpark of $1 to $2. So sure, you might know exactly how much is in your bank account at that very moment, but is it really worth a few bucks? Those dollars add up fast, and most online banking shows your credit charges in the account summary even though they haven’t been processed, so you still have any idea of how much dough you’re rolling in.

So kids, when you tell me you “don’t care whether it’s credit or debit,” I almost feel obligated to debit you.

Gaffe #2: Can I use my card? You tell me, Einstein.

Syracuse University allows parents to set up credit cards on their kids’ I.D. cards. It's a pretty good way to make sure your kids are spending your money on overpriced school supplies and junk food, which I guess is a step up just giving them cash that would most likely go towards stocking their dorm room’s secret liquor closet.

Biggest flaw? Those freshmen with SU charge accounts don't know what the hell it is or where they can use it (a: only in the bookstore, hence it's name, Bookstore charge account). (photo credit)

It acts like a credit card. Have you heard of those before? You buy something and then receive a bill later. So many kids ask how much money is left on their card. It’s not a gift certificate or allowance. You charge as much as you want, and suffer the wrath of angry parents later.

Gaffe #3: May I see you card?

I came into work this past Sunday and my manager told me that they’ve started to crack down on card use and the main branch is requiring all Bookstore cashiers to look at cards, check the name and look at their signatures.

In the six hours I have worked since they have instated the new policy I have never experienced more blank stares, bad attitudes and rolled eyes.

"Is everything okay?"

Yes, everything is fine. Nothing is wrong with your card. I promise you'll be able to make it through the 5 seconds it will take for me to look at your picture and confirm you are the cardholder. Read the piece of paper taped to the signature deck: “Please hand your student charge card or credit card to the cashier; if you are paying a credit card and it is not signed or unreadable you will have to provide the cashier with a photo id.” (photo credit)
The thing people don’t understand is that this procedure is in their best interest. I’m making sure that you are using your account, not some random person or thief. I fail to see any inconvenience about handing your card over for one second.

I’m really not in the mood to deal with people tonight. Is it that obvious?

Update: Two minutes after I finished this blog, a girl came in and said "Can I buy something with this card?" as she held up her i.d. card. I explained that she could if her parents had set up a charge account. She just looked at me. She wandered about for a minute or two. She came back to me. "So is there ANY way I can buy something with this card?" Am I speaking English? Is this a bad joke? Sadly, she was serious and I proceeded to once again explain what is a Bookstore charge. I really hope she's just visiting a friend and wasn't actually admitted/enrolled at SU.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Men aren't pigs, but they might be a weird breed of werewolf

My girlfriends and I are convinced that men have undergone a change this fall. If it was February, we might reason that love is in the air. Since it's Halloween, I'm going for a more sinister rationale.

Everyone is familiar with the legend of werewolves, whether it be from a scary story shared fireside or a viewing of the 1985 Michael J. Fox classic Teen Wolf. Man turns into beast: nails become claws, teeth become fangs, body becomes covered in a ridiculous amount of hair. (sidenote: there's apparently a Teen Wolf drinking game. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you rent it, gather friends and enjoy the beauty that is Fox with some cheap wine.) (photo compliments of

After some research there appears to be a real condition where people truly believe they are werewolves called Lyncathropic Disorder. I've learned a bit about it from a Nancy Drew computer game, but nothing too in depth. I found a website that outlines the elements associated with the disorder and I'll attempt to prove the boys on Syracuse University's campus have turned into a special breed of werewolf: the woman-hungry.

Man to Beast
I haven't run into any guys with fangs. Some guys are hairy, but nothing too disturbing. Paul did maul my neck a few weeks back that might be comprible to an animal bite, it healed and I don't feel posessed in any way, so I think I'm in the clear.

Werewolves can initate transformation, but they can always be affected by moon phases, like the infamous full moon. Sounds like howling can also conjurge up a man's inner beast.

The woman-hungry male most recently identifies with involuntary werewolve transformation. Who conciously wants to become needy? Like werewolves, It is mostly with nightfall (and drinking) that the guys transform, becoming overwhelmed with the desire to meet up with prospective mates, or texting multiple messages despite receiving no response or sign of interest after any of them.

Mind of a Werewolf
Werewolves do not lose all sanity as beast. They still the ability to recognize people and avoid traps, but they have a tendancy to act instinctually like a real wolf.

The woman-hungry tap into their natural physical urges too, but almost too much. Granted, the average boy typically can be (and often is) an aggressive speciman, the woman-hungry has an odd presence of companionship to their otherwise normal sexual advances. The use of pet names is increased, attention given almost to a suffocating degree and cheesiest in all senses of the word embraced.

Don't get me wrong. I like attention, I want signs that you dig me and want to hang out. But too much too soon is a turn off. And if you don't get a response after your third attempt, it doesn't look like a future together is in the cards. And if there was, it's gone now.

Symptoms of Werewolfry
My girls and I have concluded, from experiences with many subjects, that guys have undergone a personality change unlike anything we've witnessed before. Awkward and mixed signals, we don't even know what to make of your advances and we doubt you know either. You're woman-hungry. You've lost most rationale. You're making impulsive decisions, which you later regret and attempt to remedy but just add to the vicious cycle of mixed signals. You text and act really interested at one moment, and then don't seem interested, and then 15 minutes really interested again.

Werewolves symptoms pretty much fall under the umbrella-term of bizarre behavior. I can't think of a better adjective to describe a guy's unwarranted assumption that you're now dating, even though you've only hung out once.

I mean there are some good things about guys this fall. It seems like they've become more aggressive, more willing to lay the cards on the table and see how things play out. It's honestly just a game of balance: how to show interest in a girl, but not go overboard and turn woman-hungry. It's the mixed signals that are the downer. But hey, if he looks like Michael J. Fox, I might be more willing to deal with it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

of me and men

I've never been your typical girl.

Label me as a tomboy, maybe, but I don't think it's quite that clear cut. I don't think I could throw punches (or take them) and I'm not fond of bugs. I sometimes have a tendency to gravitate towards men though.

It's gotten me in trouble in the past (and present). Boyfriends get jealous. Girls get pissed. My friend Sam tried to explain that if I come across a girl that dislikes me, for what seems like no reason, it's most likely because I'm a "big flirt."

Flirt? I've been around legitimate flirts, and I'd rather not be grouped with them. If anything I'm the antithesis of a flirt; I'd like to think I embrace the knowledge that I have rather than bury it under a "dumb-helpless-girl" act.

For whatever reason, I'm not really intimidated by guys. Sure, I have my moments, but for the most part, I feel like my interests span a broad enough spectrum that I can interact well with any one-- male or female. And I like the fact I'm comfortable with the opposite sex, but it makes things that much more complicated.

Guys are easily led on to think I like them when I'm really just interacting with them as I would with any person. I do call all my friends endearing terms: boo, booface, sweetheart, lovebug, love, etc. I think more girls are less open and outgoing with the opposite sex, so I think the normal guy might interpret my signals as if he was talking a a typical girl.

But it's not just tricky for guys, it's hard for me too. If I'm into a guy, I don't know really how to show him. I'll most-likely treat him like other guys, but attempt to convey a little more interest. But guys can't read minds and I can't be more outgoing.

So the debacle persists; but I'm not really worried about it. It's a two-way street. If a guy is interested in me, he'll make moves too. And then I'll know I can more boldly show interest, with a lesser chance of rejection. But let's be real, senior year is for fun and friends.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lawrinson Bookstore:

7:25 p.m.: I picked up this shift to earn some more money, so now I’m sitting bored in a comfortable office chair, ringing up the occasional underclassman that wanders in to get his or her Pepperoni Bagel Bites or energy drink. No shopping sprees of $40+ yet tonight (there’s always some student who’s quick to buy a ridiculous amount of sodium-saturated junk food and overpriced SU merchandise) but one girl is toting around a shopping basket so there’s potential.

7:30 p.m.: No dice. She just got what could be a pseudo-healthy dinner for two: Two Lean Cuisines, two pints of rainbow Sherbet, two Starbucks fraps and a pack of gum. I wonder if people know that I’m recording what they’re buying, and leaving you to make judgments of their person and/or character via those selections.

Things on my mind at the moment: the economy & congress’ bailout plan, new always sunny at josh’s with a bottle of bully hill wine, Chuck’s after, Urban Outfitters, Luna bars

Monday, July 21, 2008

Out of my Outbox

Boost: Vacations are a great way to get away from work and stress.
Downgrade: Away from internet and American (or any English-speaking) press, you lose complete grasp of what is going in the world.

Ash brought to my attention the exchange between AP's Ron Fouriner and Karl Rove, Bush's chief advisor, and wanted to know my take on the situation.

Here's the e-mail I sent her:

It's hard, being human and all, to completely de-attach from natural conversational inclinations as a journalist. I feel like the best interviewers are those who are able to conduct an interview in such a way that the interviewee feels as though they are talking to one of their closest friends. After all, any interview is basically just a conversation.

So, it's hard. You want to have some give-and-take. No one likes a conversation that's completely one-sided. Sure, people love to hear themselves talk but I personally like some feedback; it kind of affirm the person is listening to what I'm saying and that they understand.

In this situation, I feel like the journalist wasn't wrong in answering Rove's question, but he was wrong in how much he admitted. I think there's a range of what's appropriate and not, as there is with anything. There are somethings that are just TMI, and I think the journalist entered this realm.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Good things come in three, Tough decisions come in two

Sometimes one idea is duplicated, and the result is so much like the former that is hard to determine which one is better. Here are some things that conveniently emerged at the same time and that I have taken the liberty to crown the better part of the pair.

Boyband Hearthrobs Who Didn't Age Well but Attempted a Comeback a Decade Later Anyways: New Kids on The Block vs Menudo

Why?: that is the question I need to ask twice (naturally). 1. Why in god's name would grown men think it's okay to sing "I was like, "hey, girl, can I get your number"/I remember what you told me too, /"Don't call after ten"/But you know that I did, /'Cause I couldn't stop thinkin' 'bout you."? The slang and content in it's entirety is beyond inappropriate. 2. Why did the music industry really think pop-listeners wanted more boy bands? That's so 20th century; I want catchy pop-emo ("Shake It" by Metro Station is such a good guilty pleasure) and badly-lyricized R&B (Have you heard the new LL Cool J? See me in the club.)
The NKOTB site says, "New Kids On The Block — five now fully-grown men who forever defined what the modern boy band would look and sound like — are back together for the very first time in nearly a decade and a half, and currently hard at work on their first new album since 1994." That may be the most embarrassing introduction I have ever read in my life. "Five fully-grown men who forever defined what the modern boy band would like and sound like"… sounds more like five fully-grown mean who can't escape their boy band mold and figured "don't fight it, embrace it." I'd probably do the same thing if I was in their shoes.

There's no real competition here. Menudo wins by a landslide. I still do not know why these boys' manager wanted to market the group as Menudo when they could have very well given them a fresh, new name. Any chance to cultivate Menudo fans of the 1980s into listeners of the new crew was lost when those same girls ditched their TeenBeats and neon scrunchies for real jobs to support their children and husband.

Winner: Menudo

Who's Got the Magic Stick: The Illusionist vs The Prestige

I love magic and anything set pre-1950, so when I heard about the release of The Illusionist and The Prestige in 2006, I thought I had just hit the jackpot.

Both casts were pretty spectacular. The Illusionist had Ed Norton and Jessica Beal and The Prestige snagged Christian Bale and Scarlett Johansson. I'd have to say that the Prestige's cast just seems to be a downgraded version to the Illusionist's. That's not just my immense love for Norton talking, but I do have to admit I lost some respect for Johansson once she released her own album.

I don't completely remember either of the films, and some parts from both run together (can you blame me?), but I'm pretty positive that I was extremely disappointed with The Illusionist. The Prestige had more of an interesting story, which was about two rivals that competed to be the best magician on the market at that time. The Illusionist was more of a love story, a weak one with some kind of unbelievable twist.

Winner: The Prestige (Don't take it personal, Ed. I still love you.)

Young, Smooth and Oh-so Fine: Chris Brown vs Ne-Yo

I grapple with this battle on a constant basis, so much so that I hate to really even sit down and make myself pick between these boys. Barely legal and angel voices.. does there really have to be a winner? Can't I just have both?When I used to have a cellphone with the capacity to visit GetItNow and download actual ringtones, "My Sounds" folder was pretty much split evenly with Chris Brown and NeYo realtones. The two heartthrobs came onto the music scene at relatively the same time, but they often released singles at different times. I had the luxury of switching between their songs as they were released instead of having to choose which song was better.

So let's break down the eye-candy into three categories: cuteness, songs and dance.First up, Chris Brown. He's a dime; I'm going for 10 out of 10 on cuteness. Not only does he have a perfect complexion and great smile but he was dancing in an oversized shirt modeled after the first C. Brown, Charlie Brown, in his video "Yo." Charm and wit earns you a perfect score; take note boys. As for NeYo, he's pretty good looking, but he only scales an 8 on my meter. On to songs, Chris Brown has good a good selection. I'm loving his use of electronics in his latest single "Forever," and I loved "Kiss Kiss." But if I never hear "Run It" again, I'll die happy. Ne-Yo is some stiff competition for Mr. Brown. "Sexy Love" might have stayed as my ringtone so long that I'm convinced my friends now associate that song with me from hearing it so often. I still love "Because of You" even though I'm pretty sure it has been on the radio for probably a year now; I don't think I'll ever get sick of it. Ne-Yo wins the song portion. Last but not least, dance. I love to dance so my man is going to have to either have sick moves, or at least a decent two-step. Chris Brown is fantastic, just watch any of his videos. Ne-Yo dances but I don't think his stage presence can compare.

Winner: Chris Brown

Disagree? Can you think of other competing pairs? Who wins out? Leave a comment!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"You've got to be bloggin me!"

In Web Writing class, we've been discussing blogs endlessly. Hours have been spent outlining the basics of blogging: how does blogging differ from traditional newspaper writing style (is there that much of a difference?), is the future of journalism in blogs (really?), what separates personal online diaries (my professor likes to call them "sex diaries") from quality journalism when both media are considered blogs?

I understand the fascination the media industry has with these online forums. Blogs truly do allow anyone with an internet connection to assume the role as a story-teller and share their experiences with the world. But is that really a dangerous thing?

Sure, people claim that blogs are not as creditable as, and are certainly more opinionated than, any news you would find in a print newspaper, but I do not think that ruins the fate of journalism. People are able to recognize if a blog is a legitimate source of information or not. If anything, blogs are assumed to be opinionated and simply aggregates of news drawn from other creditable sources. I almost have to be proven wrong or shown a legitimate affiliation with a creditable media outlet before I absorb any information from a blog as pure, unbiased fact.

I think it is unfortunate that many people think readers or the average person would not be able to recognize the difference between a blog and newspaper. Blogs, by definition, are just personal narratives. Newspapers have complicated things by adding blogs to areas that were otherwise off-limits to columnists.

To me, a blog is basically a column, only given the added option to be biased or fair in judgment. Some blogs do offer expert advice, almost like a online forum outfitted with expertise for a certain niche. Other blogs assume the traditional role of being just an online op-ed resource.

As newspapers move online and more multimedia is integrated into coverage, I do not think of blogs as a threat to journalism, but that is only if they are considered to extras, synonymous to sidebars or graphs.

The danger lies with the potential for readers to only subscribe to blogs and allow traditional, unbiased news reporting die out. In that instance, an average person would have to read three times the amount of news, via blogs with different perspectives, just to have a reasonably level understanding of the world; And, people already do not read the one newspaper delivered to their doorstep and plastered on their computer screen.

Friday, March 21, 2008

After a month-long hiatus, I have decided to blog because I have just had a revelation.

I always look back to high school and think of carefree times. I always seem to forget the 6:00 a.m. wake-ups and extremely short weekends. Or the stress of work, schoolwork, SATs, sports and getting into my dream college.

But, from what I do remember fondly, two things are absent. I feel as though these two things have worked their way into being a vital part of my current daily life, but I cannot determine if it is for better or worse.

Potential demise #1: Facebook.
I didn't even hear about the site until summer before freshman year of college. I had bumped into my friend Hillary in the parking lot of CVS and we were talking about our college plans.
"Have you signed up for your facebook yet?"
"What's that?"
"Oh! You have to once you get your school e-mail so we can keep in touch."
And I did just that.
It was great. I was able look at pictures from all my high school friends' universities and check out events going on at SU.
But nowadays facebook is a bad habit I just can't kick. I waste so much time and brainpower just aimlessly navigating among my friends' profiles, pictures, applications. More bluntly, facebook-stalking.

Potential demise #2: sugar
Mmmm. So delicious. Cookies, candy, anything that pretty much tastes too good to be true. Sure it tastes good for that minute you're eating it, but is it really worth it? Sugar crashes suck, making you feel unhealthy, lazy, thirsty and just plain horrible.

With both of these things I can't help but ask, why do I do this to myself?
It's silly to rash and claim to completely abandon any consumption of Facebook or sugar, but how much better would I feel if the two were dramatically reduced from my media & food diet, respectively.

But it's worth a try. Don't take it personally if I don't respond as quick on facebook, or refuse an offer to split any sort of dessert or candy with you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I stepped down the cement stairs that were slightly damp from the flurries Syracuse had been getting. Twilight hung in the air. I had just missed the sun, but its presence lingered. Snow fell lightly like glitter, illuminated by the headlights of passing cars. My ears were warmed by love and mathematics as I walked down the college neighborhood sidewalk, hopping to avoid puddles and muddy cracks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

SUper Tuesday

Sen. Barack Obama’s appeal to the younger generation did not appear to be strong enough to beat out Sen. Hillary Clinton in the New York state primary, as she led the Illinois senator by 23 percent an hour after the polls closed Tuesday night, according to

SU Students for Barack Obama, a Syracuse University student group that tried to spread the senator’s message of change to undergrads, concluded their primary season campaign yesterday at 9 p.m., but their advertising was not a success with some students.

"I only saw one rally and didn't know they were groups on campus," said senior David Vassallo. “I'm more an anti-Hillary person and I knew more than the Obama supporters at the rally. It's only effective if they knew what they were talking about."

The Syracuse campus student chapter of the Obama for America campaign was directed by sophomore Marshall Spevak and held events such as the Jan. 31 rally on the quad and promotions at SU men’s basketball games.

Its Facebook group has 60 members, but only 10 students participated in more than one of the group’s events, said Spevak.

“We've been trying to be more visible—holding up signs and cheering,” he said. “I hope a lot of students vote, but I don't even want to speculate numbers. I wouldn’t even dare to guess.”

Despite working alongside the city of Syracuse’s Obama campaign, Spevak said the campus group targeted students and that students were very welcoming to their message.

“Obama really engaged the youth,” said the political science major, who is originally from Cherry Hill, N.J. and voted by absentee ballot for Obama. “I've talked to so many students across campus who are enthusiastic for voting.”

Junior Rita Aidoo, from Bronx, N.Y., did not know about Spevak’s group and decided to vote for Obama without influence from any campus groups.

“I'm only really interested in health care so I don't think anything would have changed that,” she said.

Freshman De'Marcus Woods said that campus groups could potentially swing students who did not have a specific interest in policy or a grasp on politics.

"I think people are stuck in between,” Woods said. “I don't think people really know and if groups can open their eyes and explain how a candidate can affect their lives, you never know.”

The Democratic primary race’s top candidates were whittled down to Obama and Clinton after Sen. John Edwards’ withdrew on Jan. 30. Clinton’s campaign focuses on health care reform, strengthening the middle class and ending the war on Iraq, whereas Obama champions a broader theme of change, according to their websites.

Spevak stayed at the Obama Headquarters, 3000 Erie Blvd. East, all day Tuesday, only leaving to campaign with signs at busy intersections during rush hour. No representatives from the student group were scheduled to visit the polling places in the SU area, he said.

Sandra Frio, of Syracuse, worked at one of the SU polling sites in Goldstein Student Center, 401 Skytop Road, until 9 last night. The poll opened at 11:30 a.m. Polling was also held at the Whitman School of Management, 721 University Ave.

She said she was surprised with the voter turnout within the first hour of operation.

"We're hoping a lot of students come,” said Frio, who has worked in the same ward through out all of her time staffing election sites. “I'm very hopeful to think that the young students are interested in their future."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Prog rocks politics

Jeremy Vecchi was never intending for his vote to count towards a primary win for Senator John Edwards, had he stayed in the presidential race.

“I'll be honest, I didn't think he'd actually win it,” said Vecchi, who was an Edwards supporter until his Jan. 30 withdraw. He was going to cast his ballot for the senator from North Carolina anyway.

Vecchi is one of the many leftists in Central New York who looked to Edwards to be a vehicle to bring a more progressive edge to primary debates, and not necessarily win the overall nomination.

Progressive Democrat Aynne McAvoy, of North Syracuse, supported Edwards after her first choice—Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio—exited the primary race.

“There is a community of us in the United States that have backed Dennis right along, but unfortunately it just isn't big enough or strong enough or powerful enough right now to make it happen,” McAvoy said. “I was disappointed that he dropped out but I wasn't surprised.”

According to a Gallup poll taken before the Iowa caucus, 2 percent of identified Democrats said they would have voted for Kucinich, and 12 percent supported Edwards. The day after Kucinich’s withdraw same poll was administered reporting that Edwards’ support had rose to 14 percent.

Vecchi said Kucinich may have been the most progressive candidate out of the Democrats, but Edwards shared the political spotlight with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

“His voice in the campaign, as long as he went, was able to continually push the debate leftward, or at any rate to in a more progressive direction,” the graduate student said.

Progressivism focuses on social justice and workers’ rights, as well as regulation of large corporations.

McAvoy ranks the economy and Iraq high on her list of important issues, but particularly liked Edwards’ focus on “the little guy,” she said.

“He was going to go after big business and pharmaceutical and the whole thing, which I really really wanted to see,” McAvoy said.

Vecchi also liked Edwards’ focus on corporate influence and his plan against it.

"With Edwards, he was willing to take on the fact that Washington is bought and paid for by corporate power in this century, and he was the one who brought lobbyists into the Democratic debates,” he said. “Without him there, Hillary and Obama would not be talking about the fact that lobbyists are one of the main problems here. But because he brought it in, all of the sudden everyone is talking about it.

With Edwards gone, progressives have to look to other candidates, both new and old, to represent their interests.

A national exploratory committee was launched since Edwards’ departure to investigate the feasibility for Independent Ralph Nader to run for president. Found at, the committee involves Peter Camejo, Nader’s 2000 vice-presidential running mate, as well as other politicians. Volunteers can offer time or make the suggested $300 donation, in exchange for free DVDs and books.

It is unclear if Nader started the committee himself. Representatives from were unable to be reached.

Nader’s entry to the race could replace the progressive voice now absent from the campaign trail, but it is hard to gauge its affect within the Democratic Party.

“I'm really not sure how Hillary or Obama would respond,” Vecchi said, who is intrigued by the prospect. “At this point I'm voting for Obama, and I will almost certainly vote for the Democrat in the general election. I have to admit, I may be willing to support Nader's entry to the race to push it more in a progressive direction.”

McAvoy has watched all the debates and remains undecided between Clinton and Obama, she said.

“If they want to pick up his voters, but the mere fact that they jump onto his bandwagon a day after he leaves the race isn't really going to make that big of a difference as far as the voters go,” she said. “We're all going to have to wait and see.”

Kucinich has not made an official endorsement of any of the Democrats, but encouraged his supporters to vote for Obama, according to his presidential campaign website.

Central New Yorkers may gravitate toward Clinton because of her work in upstate New York as well as the state’s senator. Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll endorses Clinton.

“She's been a real leader and she's helped us with technical assistance for my city,” Driscoll said. “She has worked on a number of initiatives with me. Broadband is something she has been very involved with and weaved into discussions year round. Her office has been very helpful.”

Vecchi does not think of Clinton, and her husband, in quite the same way.

In the ‘90s, “there was a big shift away from economic populism and [the Clintons] really embraced corporate interest in the Democratic Party,” he said. “I think overall the legacy of Clintons has been a negative to the Democratic Party and then hence to the country. That sort of the ideology I would not want to be as powerful in the Democratic Party.”

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Survival of the fittest/fattest

Nowadays, thin is in. Celebrities are whittling down to ungodly sizes, being envied and idolized by society.

Ironically, in medieval times, the more weight you carried, the more beautiful you were. Plumpness reflected a complete diet, and the wealth necessary to afford exuberant (or just fulfilling) amounts of food.

It's hard to find a common denominator between these judgments at face value because skinny is the complete opposite of fat. But there is a underlining factor that does link the "ideal body type" in each time period-- lifespan.

As obesity rises in modern day Americans, health risks follow suit. Obesity is the leading cause of type 2 diabetes, and can also result in high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, sleep apena and other extremely dangerous conditions, according to the Mayo clinic.

A thin figure suggests a healthy diet and high fitness level, even if in actuality the physique is attained by adopting unhealthy habits. Ultimately, truly fit people lack healthy complications and ideally will live a long life.

And I think that is what people find attractive.

The potential for someone to live a long life is an attractive thing. The heartbreak of losing a loved one is a deep-rooted fear. Would it be that far fetched to think that people are subconsciously drawn to people that will postpone that pain?

The same mentality goes for the well-fed of MacArthur's time. In those days, well-fed meant a longer life untouched by malnutrition or starvation.

So as much as people try to challenge society's constructs for beauty and attractiveness, it is hard to figure out what dictates these norms. If it really does depend on lifelines, perhaps science will have to create some kind of medication to live longer before we see a change.

Or find that whimsical Fountain of Youth. It's hard to tell which research would be a better investment.

Monday, January 21, 2008

You can't stop the children of the revolution

Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed more than 35 years ago, Julius Edwards does not believe he is truly dead.

"We have a whole bunch of Martin Luther King juniors in this room today," Edwards said, the master of ceremonies and assistant director of Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Center.

Members of the Syracuse community sat scattered among the chair-filled gym of Dr. King Elementary School to observe performances and an address made by political activist Barbara Ransby, all of which commemorated the life and legacy of King.

"If we really want to honor King, we have to honor the legacy of continuing the activism that he gave his life in,” said Ransby, also an assistant professor of African-American studies and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “We have to honor King by continuing to challenge and hold up issues of justice in our own time."

Nazjahrik Mosley, 8, recognizes the change King brought to society.

“Back in the old days, laws weren't right so he changed them,” Mosley said. "Whites can go to the same school. He got freedom."

Mosley said he thinks that King means family too. He attended the event with his god-brothers and cousins, who also attend elementary schools in the area.

Family was a theme mentioned, as well as seen, through out the celebration.

Edwards thinks that family plays a vital role in making a difference.

"We hope to encourage young people to follow their dreams,” he said.

Gregory White II, sophomore at Nottingham High School, is already following his dreams, playing music with the Signature Syracuse Jazz Ensemble and aspiring to attend a music college. White, an alto saxophonist that has been playing since fourth grade, performed Oscar Peterson’s “Night Train” and Nat King Cole’s “Route 66” with four other student musicians at the celebration.

"I know playing at this was for a good cause and for the community,” White said. “I always like to play so I'm always going to play anyways."

White has played this annual event in the past and said he enjoys playing this show because he always learns something.

“Since we've been coming here for about four years now, I like the speakers because they really wake me up,” he said. "(Ransby) was good, but I think some people in the past hit it harder."

White’s mother Rachielle White came to support her son and hopes he takes away something from today’s event.

"People died and fought really hard for us to have freedoms and we have to remember that,” she said “Education is the key and you know there was a time where you got killed as a black person if you learned how to read or if they found out you knew how to read.”

In addition to the jazz band, the Dr. King Elementary School Drill Team, five students from the Levy Middle School Choir and a soloist from Tucker Missionary Baptist Church Choir were showcased during the two-hour show.

Ms. White said she enjoyed all of the show and plans to also attend Ransby’s keynote speech addressing "King's Challenge: Can We Live Peacefully in a Violent World?" that will be given at 6:30 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.

Ransby reminded the audience that the best way to remember King and those people who fought alongside him is to become an activist.

"Do so with courage and determination in our own abilities,” the historian and award-winning author said. “To do so with our imaginations intact, and to do so demanding truth in a context in which it is becoming a rare commodity."

White said he has started to look at King’s message differently after hearing Ransby’s delivery, and he thinks he can make a difference by embracing his passion.

"Music can make change, music can do a lot,” he said. “I don't know how, but I know that it stands somewhere."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of equality lingers in the political air of this Democratic presidential primary season as a woman and black man vie for the party’s nomination. Syracuse University will host a dinner Sunday to honor the spirit of King through out his life and struggles.

But the struggle is not over; it has just taken another face.

That face belongs to the vote of the black woman, torn between voting in the primary with allegiance to her identity or according to her policy preference.

Sophomore Kendra Courtney Adjei finds policy as the main influence on her vote, but admits that other elements play a role in making her decision.

"I think it's impossible to have anyone vote strictly policy-based. There are always different biases that naturally happen and race just happens to be one of them,” she said. “I think with many African-Americans it will run through their minds—voting just for the sake of identity, with those who identify with them racially."

Political commentators like New York Times’ David Brooks categorize these biases as a result of identity—what a person defines themselves as, whether it is by gender, race or any other description.

Adjei said she identifies with both race and gender but feels that she is more defined by her race between the two.

"I think it's just the surroundings. Everyone is like, 'you need a black president,’ someone who is for minorities,” she said. “So I guess, not that it really sways my opinion, but that's just what I hear more of."

Identity plays a small role in affecting Adjei’s vote, but some black women will consider only identity when placing their primary vote for the Democratic nomination.

"It depends on the person, whether they choose to let that determine their vote or let policy determine their vote,” she said. “I think it will definitely be a factor in African- Americans.”

Adjei said she does not feel that her identity influences her political behavior enough to swing her vote against her policy preference. When given the choice, she would vote for the candidate more aligned with her political ideology, even if she shared identity with the other contender, she said.

Political Science Professor Jeffrey Stonecash of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs finds that race influences the Democrat vote more than gender.

"There are always people who say race is a pretty powerful factor in American politics,” he said. “There is no group that votes so much on the base of one attribute."

Gender may not be as politically powerful as race, but it still holds weight.

Women accounted for the majority of partisan voters in 52 percent of the 82 Democratic presidential primaries that took place between 1980-1996, according to Barbara Norrander’s study, "The Intraparty Gender Gap: Difference between Male and Female Voters in the 1980-2000 Presidential Primaries.” Men held the majority in 1 percent of the same primaries and 48 percent recorded equal participation by both genders, according to the study.

Choices run deep for black women; they determine how much policy and identity drive their votes, as well as whether they identify more with their race or gender. Even deeper, they want their vote to count.

"I'm sure a lot of them are playing the game of electability; they're just trying to figure out who's going to win,” Stonecash said. “They're torn between being loyal to their identity and they don't want to end up supporting someone such that the Democrats lose."

Black Democrats, both male and female, favored Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination since March, but preference shifted this month, according to a recent Gallup poll. Between Nov. 1 and Jan, 10, black Democrats’ support for Obama rose 18 percent and dropped 21 percent for Clinton, according to the poll.

Stonecash credits a portion of this shift in public opinion to Obama’s caucus win in Iowa on Jan. 3.

“For a long time the black population was very supportive of Clinton because they didn't think Obama could do it,” he said. “Now all of the sudden they are like, 'Oh, maybe he can'."

Adjei will continue to follow coverage of the primaries, but their results will not affect her vote, she said. More personal investigation of the candidates’ platforms will help to narrow her decision.

The keynote speech delivered by the associate professor of African-American studies and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago Sunday might aid Adjei and other black women as they contemplate the role of their identity in politics.

Adjei is not sure if the Democrats’ primary question is best answered by the nomination of a man or a woman, but she knows one thing.

“What we need is something different, because what we've been doing hasn't been working," she said.