Being privileged does not rule out depression [page 3]
Read about new teachers’ love stories [page 5]
Viola Davis: A win bigger than the Emmys [page 6]
“If the characters fall outside the white, straight, abled status quo, chances are their stories will be silenced.” [page 3]
Taipei American School | 800 Chung Shan North Road, Section 6, Taipei, Taiwan | blueandgoldonline.org | VOLUME XXII, ISS. 01 | October 8, 2015
The Rise of Robots at TAS By Rebecca Tseng
Step into 1D21 after school and you’ll be greeted by a room crammed full with chattering, excited students and high tech machines, from six 3D printers to milling machines, each precise up to 1/1000 of a millimeter. This year, the robotics department brought in several new resources, one of which is TAS’s very own Baymax. The red research robot, Baxter, has cameras in its wrists and a ring of motion sensors around its head to help him detect people. Breaking Boundaries: Jason Wang (11), Jason Dong (12), and Mr. Fagen play with a robot in the robotics lab. [THE BLUE & GOLD]
Students are using Baxter to learn about automation and assembly and for Artificial Intelligence assignments. So far, Baxter has been taught to diﬀerentiate between two objects and place them in diﬀerent areas. Another new addition to the department is the water jet cutter, which was a gift from a donor. By increasing the pressure of water to 50 thousand
pounds per square inch, the water jet cutter can cut through steel, marble, glass, plastic, wood, and almost any other material with a fast stream of water. Previously, students had to use aluminium sticks to build their robots, but with this new machine, they can cut materials to their own design. “[Before], it was like using lego blocks. You can’t build anything without using
the blocks,” said Mr. Fagen, one of the department faculty members. “Now, instead of being limited, we can let the design needs dictate the design.” While the advanced robotics engineering classes are using the water jet cutter to make machines, the 3D media arts design classes are also putting it good use by making aesthetically pleasing objects. After students cut materials with
nology, taking place from September 23 to 30. It also won three other awards and was nominated for another four. The Internationally Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) is a competition for high school and university students where students present their synthetic biology projects. TAS students have been extremely successful with iGEM in the past even though they’ve only been attending for two years. Last year, they won the second runner-up award, the best website award, and the people’s choice award for best project. Creating a synthetic biology project is an eight-month-long process
it by cutting apart DNA, inserting new pieces, and reassembling the DNA in bacteria, so that the bacteria can fulfill its purpose. This can range from serving as a nightlight for children to cleaning polluted water. “I think of synthetic biology as building new animals or hacking DNA to create your own superpower,” said Leon Y. (12), the project leader for this year’s iGEM team. “Being able to present our project in front of more than 3000 people as high schoolers and have judges, university students, and other synthetic biology experts listen and give feedback was an absolutely unbelievable experience.” To secure their grand prize win, the TAS team engineered a biological system that controls production levels of Granzyme B, an enzyme that breaks chemical bonds. The enzyme is particularly important for the human immune system because it can cause cell death in response to tumors or inflammation. However, if too much Granzyme B is produced in the body, it starts to randomly break the chemical bonds
TAS iGem World Domination
the water jet cutter, they can use the new welding table, another addition to the department, to weld the pieces together into the desired shape. With constant new equipment flooding in, the robotics program at TAS has exploded over the previous years. Four years ago, there were only a handful of robotics classes and one robotics team. Now, the department
oﬀers 29 sections of robotics and programming and trains four competitive robotics teams. All of the teams qualified for the Vex Robotics World Championships last year. “The students who work in this lab love it,” said Mr. Fagen. “Between classes and after school they’re here working on projects. I try to say yes as much as I can. We figure out how to do things as we go.”
By Catherine Lin
“I think of synthetic biology as building new animals or hacking DNA to create your own superpower,” said Leon Y. (12), the project leader for this year’s iGEM team. Synthetic biology is done by cutting apart DNA, inserting in new pieces, and reassembling the DNA in bacteria, so that the bacteria can fulfill its purpose. This can range from serving as a nightlight for children to cleaning polluted water. From September 23 to 30, nine TAS students presented their synthetic biology project at the annual iGEM World Championships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, competing with 259 teams from all over the world. The event was the culmination of an eight-month process beginning in January, which included coming up with a project idea, experimenting, presenting to the judges, and creating a website. The TAS team of nine students won the grand prize for the high school division of the iGEM competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Tech-
“Lots of times in a classroom, you’re told information, but you don’t ever really get to create science on your own. including researching, experimenting, and creating a website. Students design their own project and then build
World Champions: TAS won the grand prize for the high school division. [MR. CLAPPER]
needed to maintain tissue structure and elasticity. This can result in arthritis or prolonged wound healing. To solve this problem, the team modified a molecule already present in humans to limit the production of Granzyme B without aﬀecting its functions in the immune system, and created a bandage to deliver the molecule into the body. Juniors Fiona T. (11) and Huiru H. (11) worked alongside the National Yang Ming University iGEM team instead of the TAS high school team. Their project prevents, detects, and cures Phytophthora Infestans, a virus that killed 90% of potatoes during the Irish Potato Famine. “People feel connected to it because that disease still happens everywhere, all over the world, so we thought that was a good
topic,” said Fiona. The NYMU team won a Gold Medal, which is awarded to one in every three university projects. Mr. Clapper, the team’s advisor along with Dr. Chiang, agrees that iGEM allows students to gain independence with their projects. He explained, “Lots of times in a classroom, you’re told information, but you don’t ever really get to create science on your own. So I love that it’s student-run and it’s real research. [Students] give up their mornings, flex periods, lunchtime and after school time for 8 months out of the year, including summer. There is a reason why we won this year and were a finalist team last year: their dedication to scientific research and not running away when things get really hard.”
the blue & gold october 8, 2015
From Inception to Implementation: New Developments at TAS TAS Hits a Hole-in-One with Introducing InNOVAtion at TAS Our New Golf Facility
By Rebecca Tseng and Neha Purswaney If you’re interested in using virtual reality technology in the classroom, or scientifically measuring your stress levels throughout the day, there’s a possibility you will have the opportunity to do so soon. Thanks to our own TAS students, the school could be introduced to many new technologies and programs. These ideas for TAS, among numerous others, were formulated during the school’s first ever startup weekend, NOVA, which was created during one of Mr. Ives’ social entrepreneurship classes. Inspired by Google’s “Startup Weekend,” the students in the class gathered a team, Jeremiah Hsu (11), Timothy Shu (12), Trevor Shim (12), Ellen Chang (12), and Justin Rhee (12), and NOVA was born. At the event, teams of students had the opportunity to design any creative project ranging from a physical product, campaign, website, software to a business plan with resources at hand. Over 80 participants, separated in 18 groups, participated in this event. NOVA provided the time, space, and facilities for students to create whatever they wanted. “The groups fully utilized their individual space,” said Timothy. “Some brought in air mattresses, some roller skates, other people even created a blanket fort.” “We are so appreciative [for] opportunity to develop our interests in a hands on program,” said Darren Chien (12), a member of Novagence, who was one of the winning teams of the event. His team, also composed of Thibault Binier (12), Tommy Moran (12), and Paul Chang (12), pitched the idea of the Standable. Noticing that sitting during class creates problems with alertness and poor posture, the team proposed a desk that could easily
turn into a standing desk. “Even though there was external factors that aﬀected each person’s mood, such as broken fingers, eye infections, baseball games, [and] no sleep, we supported each other,” said Thibault. “Our way of releasing stress was by having raves with really loud music, as well as meditating. This kept us sane after hours of machining and debating.” Another winning team, Vitijoka, consisted of Vivian Teng (11), Josephine Hu (11), Tiﬀany Chen (11), Katie Chang (11), Kelly Chen (11), Angel Huang (11), and Tiﬀany Ma (11). They created the idea of the Stresslet, a bracelet that measures student’s stress through a circuit based on how much they sweat. “This data will be sent to an app on your smartphone through bluetooth, and you can track your personal stress levels throughout the day, as well as see which classes cause the most stress for people,” said Vivian. The judges of NOVA were Mr. Ives, Dr. Hartzell, Mr. Sinclair, Mr. Fagen, and TAS parent Mr. Jenkins. The top six teams were separated into two groups: Novagence, Flux, and Vitijoka, who earned the opportunity to present to the administration, and Void, Lumos, and Fiesta, who would get to present to the School Board. If approved, their ideas will be implemented in TAS. “Entrepreneurship takes time. It was great to see so many teams so dedicated about their own project and working on it through the night,” said Ellen. Timothy agreed; he said, “It [was] a stupendous experience both for us and the participants. We hope to do more of these events in the future, if possible.”
By Claire Moy TAS has finally unveiled its own golf-training facility, complete with putting green, chipping areas, and three hitting lanes--opening new opportunities for golf-loving students and golf fans alike. The NT$2 million facility, which replaces the more than 30-year-old green, is the first real golf-training facility on campus. Donations for the project came from parents of middle, lower and upper schools. Located above the wellness center, its construction will help facilitate practice by TAS’s medal-winning golf team as well as introduce and promote the game among students. “I am really excited about the new golf facilities because [they’ll] maximize the amount of practice time every day. Hopefully, both teams will benefit greatly. Consistent practice is crucial for this sport. All aspects of the game can be practiced and strengthened with the new facilities,” said Stephanie Cheng (12), who is on the Girls’ Varsity Golf Team. The facility was built so golf practices could happen on campus. Previously, the golf teams were only able to practice twice a week because the drive to the golf course was 40 minutes long. As a result, practices were inconvenient
For those who can’t stand sitting: Thibault Biner (12) demonstrates how students would use the Standable, designed by his team, Novagence. [DARREN CHIEN]
Oculus Rift: Trevor Shim (12) tries out VOID’s virtual reality device. [JEREMIAH HSU]
Judgment Time: Dr. Hartzell sits with the rest of the judges while they watch each group present. [JEREMIAH HSU]
and strenuous. Construction for the golf course started last summer in July, and finally finished on September 12th. The course went through two typhoons, sustaining damage enough to delay the finish date by three weeks. While the course is not open to all students and is a supervised facility for identified golfers, it may become part of the life skills program in the future, as TAS wants to promote golf amongst students. The Upper School golf teams have performed very well in the recent years, with both the girls’ and the boys’ team winning several bronze and gold medals in the last two years. Mr. Iverson, coach of the girls’ golf team, says that he expects an improvement in play. “With the higher specter of golf and the addition of this golf training facility,” he says, “the golf coaches are confident our player will get used to having medals around their necks at the end of each IASAS season.” “It’s a great privilege that we get these new constructions,” says Jesse Kao (11), who is on the Varsity Golf Team, and was a representative for TAS at IASAS golf last year. “I am really looking forward to play and practice on this practice area and I am sure everyone else is too!”
New Haven for Golfers: TAS students welcome our very first golf-training facility.
A Glance Around the World
[THE BLUE & GOLD]
By Amanda Huang
England is hosting the eighth quadrennial 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The Santee Sioux tribe is opening the nation’s first marijuana resort in South Dakota. If this experiment is a success, tribes nationwide could explore it as a moneymaking option beyond casinos.
The Pope makes historic first visit to the United States.
On average, one person is murdered in one of Brazil’s regional capitals every half hour.
From 10/1 to 10/10, Asia’s largest film festival will take place. This will be the 20th anniversary for the Busan International Film Festival. A senior UN official predicts that another million Syrians will their homes by the end of this year.
Madagascar’s officials stopped more than 700 tortoises from being smuggled out of the country.
the blue & gold october 8, 2015
The Long Silenced Life of Oscar Wao
By Bonna Yi
“In a country that has become so extraordinarily diverse, we still imagine a white writer as the universal writer-and that absurdity is becoming almost unsustainable,” Junot Diaz said in an interview for the Salon two years ago. Diversity is a concept that is both celebrated and cursed in the American literature world. There are books ranging from Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a PartTime Indian to Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. These books become reflections of the myriad of lives in the melting pot of America. But there is curse brewing in the same pot: diversity is being silenced. According to the American Library Association, 52% of the books challenged in the last decade included diverse contents. These books (compiled in a list on bannedbooksweek. org) include Sherman Alexie’s aforementioned novel and Satrapi’s Persepolis and are stories containing characters of minority backgrounds. The most common bans are initiated for the following reasons: racial issues, antifamilial values, blasphemous dialogues, sexual situations, cultural insensitivities, and age inappropriateness. Basically, if characters fall outside the white, straight, abled mainstream status quo, chances are their stories will be silenced by the public. Banning novels seem to stem from the fear that if people read novels containing racism, blasphemous dialogues, or sexual situations, readers will imitate the content in real-life. However, books are mere representations of what is already
going in the real world. Real people out there are racists, which is why we have violent protests in Boston and on the streets of New York. Real women and men use blasphemous vocabulary to express themselves because it was the only language they were taught to use. Families are trying to escape for a better life on rackety boats and trains to
The most common bans are initiated for the following reasons: racial issues, anti-familial values, blasphemous dialogues, sexual situations, cultural insensitivities, and age inappropriateness. a country that may or may not welcome them. Young adults are confused in sexual and social situations, not knowing if it is alright to be attracted to the same gender or involved in drugs. Recently, Taipei American School seems to have scurried under the haven of its bubble by dismissing Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao from an American Literature curriculum. Diaz’s novel, which has won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction among many other awards, is a story about a socially awkward Dominican-American teen who can’t quite fit in. And of course, the novel contains harsh language, violent situations, and numerous cultural and religious references (which are misinterpreted as cultural insensitivity). I tried to reach out to the
school board to better understand the decision in omitting Diaz’s novel from the English curriculum. There has not yet been a response to my attempts to better understand this decision. However, someone who did make a comment was Junot Diaz himself. When asked why he thinks his book got dismissed at Taipei American School, he said: “I guess I have more faith in young people than their parents do and I have more faith in teachers than parents do. These type of bans are not about parents protecting young people from anything—they’re about parents protecting their own sham sensibilities and protecting a disgusting culture of respectability which is more profane and perverse than anything I could ever write, a culture of respectability which enforces silence around its own oppressiveness and promotes all manners of hypocritical values.” Age appropriateness seems to be a concept that adults--the ones who make the decisions for the young and what they are exposed to--have a hard time determining. Is there a time limit on maturity? At 18, do we, as legal adults in the United States of America, all automatically become mature enough to understand the brutality of violence, curse words, sex, and drugs? Can we then read banned books and be perfectly able to understand them? The answer, I hope, is no. As a highschooler in the 21st century, I think it is not too hard to understand that the world is not perfect. People fight, kill, and die. Kids do drugs and have undersage sex. Racism exists and erupts in violent fights. As Junot Diaz said,
“[a] young person who can survive this crazed profane culture of respectability long enough to make it to high school is more than capable of putting up with a few curse words in order to engage in a complicated piece of art that sheds light on the real world and not the fantasy world that some parents want to insist on”. It’s not hard to accept the harsh reality of the world. What is hard to understand is why those harsh condition exists, and how can we survive them in the future. The same future, by the way, that was created for us by the adults who made decisions to ban books because they mirror the horrendous truth of the real world. It seems that the fear comes from having kids exposed not to the lies of kindness and fairy tale happiness created by parents, but to the hypocrital honesty of what the real life-with all its disgusting racist, alcoholic
new materials much sooner to students. Another issue with traditional school schedules is the risk of students burning out in May. In May, especially, students begin to break down mentally and physically from pressure and exhaustion. This severely distorts a student’s focus and learning capabilities. Year-round schedules help to cover the issue by providing numerous threeweek breaks throughout the school year that allow students to rest and recover before returning to school. I believe this would prevent burnouts for students come time for May, which, in turn, would keep students focused on exams and other assessments. If we have more breaks throughout the year, all of us — students and staﬀ—will be more rested and yield better results. The trend of year-round schedules has caught up in many states in the United States. California, Texas, Minnesota, Florida are among the numerous states that have 11-month school years and many are finding success with the new schedule. Some prominent examples are Minnesota’s Cambridge-Isanti school district and California’s Oxnard school district. The Cambridge-Isanti school district claims that it has had overwhelming success with the year-round schedule; in fact, it has been so successful that parents are arguing for a year-round high school in the district. In Oxnard, school districts have been using year-round schedules since 1976 and the district has claimed that a nine-year analysis shows that
academic results have drastically improved with the new schedule. Despite the success and advantages the new schedule oﬀers, there are not enough supporters of the new schedule. Understandably, students love summer vacation and are unwilling to change it to one month as summer vacation has
By banning books, the world does not become safer or better. The brutal world depicted in banned stories is all around you. and profanity using people. Adults are afraid of showing the world created by them. Of course, I must admit that part of the reason why books are banned is the protective instinct many adults harbor for their kids. This need to protect is well-founded and completely respectable. However, one must realize that there is a juncture in a kid’s life where someone else’s protection will
Silenced: Junot Diaz’s recent Pulitizer Prize winning novel. [GOOGLE IMAGES]
not be enough. Through exposure to the stark reality of the world, kids can learn to protect themselves. By banning books, the world does not become safer or better. The brutal world depicted in banned stories is all around you. It will pervade and you will become part of it. Books are mirrors--they show you and everything around you. So be vain and look at it the way you’d look at yourself in the mirror. Look for the obvious and hidden imperfections on the surface. If you find blemishes (which there are bound to be), have the courage to face it as part of who you are without shame. Don’t close your eyes and look away. While this article does not represent the entire views of our staﬀ, nor the views of TAS at large, The Blue and Gold actively encourages community dialogue. If you have an opinion on this matter, e-mail us at email@example.com.
11 month school year? No Problem
By Andrew Lin
Shortened Summers: The two competing school calendars [GOOGLE IMAGES]
Many American schools across the world, including TAS, have kept the same school schedule for years: 180 days of school with a two month summer break and other breaks throughout the school year. However, as society continues to modernize, the need for a more balanced schedule becomes more apparent to accommodate the busy schedules of students and teachers alike. Proponents of a year-round schedule have risen to challenge the traditional school schedule in an increasingly modern society. In a world of constant updates— be they on Twitter or CNN.com-no one takes a break from information. No one seems to take a break from learning, either— except, it seems, for those whose job it is to learn: students. Many say that as society evolves to become even more modern than it already has, the traditional schedule is obsolete; change is needed. While the thought of abolishing the traditional school schedule in favor of
a year long schedule may scare students into thinking that summer breaks are eﬀectively erased, what students fail to realize is that, year-round schedules oﬀer many hidden advantages. These advantages can not only help any student in academics, but also help destress our highly stressful lives. A big problem for many students when they return to school in fall is that they lose a lot of what they learned in the previous year. This forces teachers to have fall reviews to recover the losses. Studies indicate that students score higher averages on standardized tests in spring than they do when they take the exact same test after summer. The year-round schedule would greatly help students who are struggling with retaining knowledge from previous years as it has been proven to help increase information retention rates in students. The schedule would also restrict the need for fall reviews which would enable teachers to start teaching
In a world of constant update, be they on Twitter or CNN, no one takes a break from information. No one seems to take a break from learning, except, it seems, for those whose job it is to learn: students. been the core of childhood memories. Many teachers and parents are also uncooperative in learning and adapting to the new schedules which prevents many schools from adopting new
schedules. These factors inevitably make yearround schedules hard to implement in schools. While I understand that some students and faculty use their summers wisely—by traveling, studying, or working at a worthwhile job— ultimately think that the benefits of yearlong study greatly outweigh the costs. After all, the mission of TAS says that it wants to encourage students to velop a love of lifelong learning, and learning shouldn’t stop simply because the temperatures are higher. Year-round schedules oﬀer great advantages for students and teachers that help school become a better learning environment. But until people understand the truth and functionality of the misnomer, the year-round schedule will always be overshadowed by the popular traditional schedule. TAS: let’s rethink the status quo.
the blue & gold october 8, 2015
Junior Docents: Night at the National Palace Museum By Christine Lin
As Claire Y. (10) prepared for her first hour long tour at the National Palace Museum, her hands shook. “My hands were shaking so much my instructor had to hold my hands and tell me it was okay,” said Claire, “But it really wasn’t so bad once I started
talking. By the time the tour ended, I felt really accomplished.” Claire’s final exam, to give an hour-long tour at the National Palace Museum, marked the end of the four week long summer docent program, a collaboration between the TAS summer
TAS Junior Docents: Anjoli Guha (12), Alethea Wang (11), Annabel Uhlman (10), and Katie Fong tour in the National Palace Museum.
academy and the museum. By the end of the course Claire had learned over 8000 years of Chinese history in addition to topics such as jade, bronze, painting, calligraphy and Buddhism. This course, first oﬀered last summer through an application process, gave ten TAS students the unique opportunity to become a junior docent at the National Palace Museum. From Monday to Thursday students learned in the classroom, but on Fridays they got the chance to tour around the museum and look at artifacts they had learned about earlier that week. Although students received either a public speaking or art credit for the course, the docent program is vastly diﬀerent from any traditional public speaking course. Mr. Emanuel, Upper School college counselor and advisor for the program, said, “This [class] ties to so many other aspects of history, culture, art, and to modern-day life in Taiwan. Since you’re spending so much time actually immersed in the collection, you have a very diﬀerent experience than
simply researching and speaking.” What also made this course memorable was how passionate the docents from the palace museum were. “You could really tell that the teachers loved what they were doing,” said Josephine Hu (11). “I will never forget how Ms. Miao, a hilariously fast paced teacher, incorporated hands-on activities to make a lesson that covered more than 7000 years of Chinese history in less than two days enjoyable. It was probably one of the best history classes I’ve ever been in.” Becoming a junior docent also helped unearth the hidden love for Chinese art history in many students. Claire said, “Even though jade appears to be a dry subject at first, it’s really interesting. It’s easy to love the artifacts when you know the stories behind them.” Josephine said, “I will also never forget how passionate Ms. Wen-ling Wang was about jade. The tour she gave us was incredibly detailed, but it never felt dragged on. I still wanted to hear
more when it ended.” Claire recalled how towards the end of the program all the students were brainwashed by Chinese art history facts. “[One day], I wore a white skirt with dark blue patterns. Everyone pointed at my skirt and said it looked like flying white, a calligraphy brush stroke technique,” says Claire. “As nerdy as this sounds, we found it really funny.” Students who participated in the docent program will continue giving tours throughout the year to visiting scholars as well as the 9th grade Asian studies students. Mr. Emanuel said, “It was a success in pretty much every way possible. It was a success because the students loved it; it was a success because they all passed.” The course will be opened again to applicants next summer, with few changes. “The biggest goal right now is to continue to oﬀer a really high quality experience both to our students and to our visitors,” said Mr. Emanuel.
Junior Turned Freshman: Edmund Tong takes on college By Emily Yang On graduation day in 2015, TAS junior Edmund Tong held in his hands a laminated diploma and a small bouquet of flowers. He topped oﬀ the look with his very own graduation cap, the last of the three items given to him by his fellow StuGov oﬃcers. For Edmund, the day was practically his own graduation day. As a junior, he was about to head to Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science in the fall. It was going to be a very diﬀerent journey from the senior year others in his class saw ahead of them. The seed behind this move began budding after Edmund attended a summer program at Carnegie Mellon after sophomore year. “Throughout that experience, I was continually amazed by the educational capabilities that a college could oﬀer…[it] was so appealing that I did not want to wait
another year,” said Edmund. These thoughts became a reality when, at the beginning of the year, Edmund took his idea to Mr. Lowman, his assigned college counselor. From then on, Edmund began rigorously researching colleges that would best fit him. His application process “was hardly any diﬀerent from the process that the current seniors are going through.” The only diﬀerence was that he checked a few extra checkboxes and had to explain why he was applying without a high school diploma. Edmund applied to several other high-ranked institutions besides CMU. However, what drew him eventually to his school of choice was his avid love for computer science. “Quoting Mr. Lowman, Carnegie Mellon is the computer scientists’ playground. The longer I’m here, the more I see the truth
in that statement,” said Edmund. “My peers have played with all sorts of things that I’ve never heard of, and I can’t wait to learn more from them over the next four years.” Although interest-wise, Edmund was bound to fit right in, he was still nervous for his first day of school. “[It] was a pretty nerve-wracking day as I sat through 3D Calculus, Economics, the freshman English class, and Matrices and Linear Transformations,” he said. “I realized pretty quickly that this was going to be nothing like high school. The homework was going to have staggered due dates, and priorities would have to change as time passed.” But as everyone does, Edmund has settled down and is finding his place at his new home. “There are no average days at CMU,” he said. “Every day is unique because of the research I see that’s being done (did you know
that CMU is thinking about building Baymax?!), the stuﬀ that I’m learning, and the stuﬀ I’m being challenged with. One of my homework problems was solving P vs. NP (a major unsolved problem in computer science)–it was for extra credit, a million dollars, and a PhD.” He looks to continue engaging in the special community around him, having joined Cru, a Christian organization, and having applied to join the Carnegie Mellon Emergency Medical Service team. He also plans on furthering his work in computer science outside of class. Ultimately, he hopes to end up with at least a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, but Edmund remains open-minded about the endless opportunities ahead of him. To current college applicants, he urges you to take it easy and not
force the process. “The ideas will start popping into your head on the bus, right before you fall asleep, or while you’re walking to class,” said Edmund. “From my experience, those ideas were the best ones.”
High school dropout: Edmund Tong settles in at CMU.
Ms. Chen’s Summer: On Paper and In Person
By Ms. Chen (English)
Some people obsess over putting together the perfect summer music playlist. This summer, I did something similar. Instead of music, however, I decided to match books to my summertime exploits. That’s right: I curated a special summer reading list. Nerd alert! Prior to this summer I had never been to a baseball game. I had never played baseball. I have held a bat exactly once. My understanding of baseball was limited to the following words: homerun, bases, out, and strike. But this summer, I went to my first baseball game ever. To prepare for this momentous event, I decided to read Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding. The Art of Fielding details the college baseball career of one
“Strike!”: Ms. Chen enjoys her first game at Safeco Field
Henry Skrimshander, genius shortstop, as he faces the biggest crisis of his life. Beyond the compelling plot and the sympathetic ensemble of characters, the novel stands out for its intertextuality. The novel gains complexity if you understand its thick web of literary allusions to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. Similarly, my experience at Safeco field in June became richer as a result of my reading of the novel. At Safeco, I cheered at the double-play, booed at the terrible referee calls (“It was clearly in the strike zone!”), and correctly identified the shortstop. While I might have enjoyed my first game without reading The Art of Fielding, it certainly made my experience more enjoyable. One of the highlights of my summer was travelling in Europe, primarily Germany. To match my European travels, I read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, one of the best books I’ve read in years. Set in Germany and France during WWII, the novel follows two children, one German, one French as
their paths collide amidst the horrors of the Second World War. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, All the Light We Cannot See is simultaneously a page turner while also a literary marvel, containing some of the most beautiful prose I’ve come across. As I travelled from Berlin to Dresden to Munich, an interesting phenomenon occurred. As the novel brought the cities alive, my travels in the city brought the novel alive. I saw the protagonist Werner walking down Unter den Linden in Berlin as he visited his sick friend Frederick. As I stared out at Bavarian countryside rolling by, I imagined Werner’s school nestled in remote mountainous locations. At the museums, I saw the physical evidence of the Nazi atrocities; in the book, I followed the characters as they lived through those atrocities. I finished the last one hundred pages of the novel, crying in public on a bus leaving Germany for the Czech Republic. A fitting end for both my physical and literary travels in Germany. In some ways, I saw my travels in Europe as something of a pilgrimage. The trip to Dresden was a nod to
Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant satire Slaughterhouse Five. In much the same way, visiting Anne Frank’s house was high on the list of priorities for my trip to Amsterdam. The house itself is a remarkable museum with material exhibits and video interviews of Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father--the sole survivor of the house--and the family’s Dutch friends who helped conceal Anne Frank and her family in the small attic. As I walked through the small rooms that Anne Frank herself walked through, as I lined up to climb the claustrophobic secret staircase, as I stared at the walls on which Anne Frank had put up her posters of movie celebrities, Anne Frank’s words echoed in my mind: “I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” I am immensely grateful that I am privileged enough to be able to visit Anne Frank’s house. More than being financially able to travel, however, I am grateful for being able to read Anne Frank’s immortal diary at all. I am grateful for literacy--that which I often take for granted. Anne Frank knew the value of reading and writing. Despite
living in an attic for years, she explored the infinite expanses of the human imagination and experience through reading and writing. And through language she managed to live forever.
Westerkerk Tower: Ms. Chen listened to the same bells A. Frank wrote about
My travels during the summer were richly embroidered by my readings of excellent books, but the truth is one can travel as much or more through the written word. The truth is you don’t need to start traveling to read relevant books. The truth is you can start traveling right now. All you have to do is pick up a book.
the blue & gold october 8, 2015
New Teachers, Old Love The Blue & Gold explored some of the new teachers who came in pairs! Here are their love stories.
By Amanda Huang
Mrs.& Mr. Simeonidis: Smart Meets Steel
“It still impresses me how knowledgeable, smart, and curious my husband is on many topics,” said Mrs. Simeonidis. “He is always reading and learning.” Mr. Simeonidis is also surprised by his wife’s personality even today. “She seems very sweet, and she certainly is. But she also has a will of steel. That always impresses me.” The couple met when they were both working at a law firm on Wall Street. Mrs. Simeonidis thought he was “dapper and mysterious” and Mr. Simeonidis thought she was “very kind and quite pretty.” At the time, she was working in the recruiting department while he was a summer associate. Their first date was sweet and simple: they went to lunch and had burgers and a beer. One thing led to another, and soon, they were getting married. “We had a traditional Church wedding and a reception afterwards with lots of great music and dancing,” says Mr. Simeonidis. The two have two sons now, Stephen and Andrew. “I did not expect them to come out so blue and wrinkly. Happily, they have gotten much better looking.” Not only have their children grown up, but they also travel with their sons to see many parts of the world. “I will
always remember when we attended the Olympics in Greece with our sons and spent time with our Greek relatives,” says Ms. Simeonidis. “Each day of that trip was a fantastic experience and will never be forgotten. The family loves Christmas and has had many traditions over the years. “We used to go with our boys to chop down our own Christmas tree every year,” they say. “Now we have started a new tradition,” says the couple. “We choose a fun place in the world to meet and and celebrate Christmas together with our sons in that place. It might be a diﬀerent place, maybe even no tree, but as long as we are together, it’s Christmas. “ Now that Mr. and Mrs. Simeonidis work together, they can spend more time together. Mrs. Simeonidis says, “A perk [of working at the same place] is we now have the same vacation and holidays. Another perk is that I get to catch glimpses of my husband every now and then.” Mr. Simeonidis also loves working together at the same school. “I like walking to school in the mornings with [her]. On the rare occasion we can have lunch together, that’s like a special bonus.”
Ms. Winton & Mr. Baldwin: Climbing out the Friendzone
By Jingyi Ng
“We first met at the new faculty orientation meeting, and I hated her,” said Mr. Baldwin while recalling his first meeting with his spouse, Ms. Winton. Mr. Baldwin is an Upper School Math teacher and Ms. Winton is an Upper School English teacher. The two teachers first met in 1988 and their love story brings hope to those in the friendzone. While they started oﬀ the wrong foot, the two teachers got to know each other through a mutual friend and became close friends. “It was like he was my brother in many ways. I was just so comfortable with him. We were really just friends,” said Ms. Winton. “How can you fall in love with your closest friend? This is person I felt most comfortable with in the whole world. There was nobody I could be more myself with than with John (Mr. Baldwin). So it was just funny that that didn’t fit my idea of romance.” However, things changed when Mr. Baldwin decided to take on a job in another city three or four years after their first meeting. “I burst into tears; I didn’t know why. I didn’t get that [I was in love with him] until I realised I didn’t want him to leave,” said Ms. Winton. Mr. Baldwin, on the other hand, had chosen to leave the city after realising that he had fallen in love with Ms. Winton. He had believed that he would
Mrs.& Mr. Pasquini: Lab Partners to Life Partners By Rebecca Tseng “She would knit or do crossword puzzles during physics lectures,” said Dr. Thomas Pasquini. “I was wondering, how could she be so smart that she was listening to lectures while doing crossword puzzles. That’s what intrigued me about her.” Two of our newest TAS Upper School faculty members, Dr. Elisabeth Pasquini and Dr. Thomas Pasquini, met at Dartmouth College where they were both undergraduate physics majors. She was a junior and he was sophomore. “We were lab partners and ended up spending a lot of time together, so I asked her to go a movie with me,” said Dr. T Pasquini. While he was ready to get to know his lab partner better, she wasn’t sold on the idea initially. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go out with him, but he was very persistent and eventually I was like, ‘Alright he’s a nice guy. I’ll give it a try,’” said Dr. E Pasquini. “I told him I was already going to the movies with my roommate and he could come with us. Then I went home to my roommate and was like ‘you have to go to the movies with me.’”
The relationship may have started oﬀ with hesitancy, but they must have enjoyed spending time with one another, even with her roommate present. Six years later, they got married. The wedding was outside under a tent in the mountains of Western Massachusetts. A friend played guitar for them during the ceremony and they even had a barn dance afterwards. “It was a beautiful, sunny day,” said Dr. E Pasquini. “I remember playing frisbee in my wedding dress.” Now, the whole Pasquini family is at TAS. Their twins are in fourth grade, while Dr. T Pasquini works in the math department and Dr. E Pasquini works in learning support. However, the two try to stay apart during the day. “We tend to get pretty loud when we’re together, so we always sit on the opposite side of the room when there are faculty meetings,” said Dr. T Pasquini. “It’s nice having the same work schedule and being able to talk about work issues and having the other person understand,” said Dr. E Pasquini.
never be able to start a relationship with someone if he had remained in the same city as Ms. Winton. After their realisation, the pair decided to get married. “The wedding was beautiful. I had two children from a previous marriage, and they were part of the wedding. They were very cute, very funny, ” said Ms. Winton. But here’s the catch: the teachers may not actually be married. They were planning to deliver their prepared written vows, but Ms. Winton “completely blanked.” “I couldn’t remember anything of the vows that I had written, that I had memorised,” she said. Not one word. So I just started talking. I don’t know what I said. I just made stuﬀ up all over the place.” After 27 years, the two teachers still do date nights— something they did even while raising children. But moving to Taiwan has really given the couple some quality time, just between the two of them. “It’s not the same school; it’s not the same country. I miss [my children] terribly. A lot a lot. That said, it’s really good to have some time back just with John. Not having to navigate a whole family. And I think it’s good for them too. They miss us, and they’re going to come visit, but they also are launching into their lives,” said Ms. Winton.
the blue & gold october 8, 2015
Fresh from Oregon: Voodoo Donuts
From its huge voodoo doll paintings to its candlelit chandeliers, this shop is unlike any other. By Caroline Chou and Charlotte Chou Voodoo Donuts is now in town! Initially starting in Portland, Oregon, Voodoo Donuts is a world-famous donut shop known for its quirky doughnuts and voodoo theme. Taipei is the chain’s first stop in Asia, with the first store located next Drip Cafe, which is famous for their cronuts. With its huge voodoo doll paintings on the wall, large stained glass windows, candlelit chandeliers, and pink and brick patterned walls, Voodoo Donuts’ eccentric theme is what truly sets this shop apart. The interior design is just creepy enough to send chills down your spine. The shop houses a huge variety of donuts, ranging from salty to sweet, all with their own unique names, shapes and flavors, including bacon maple bar, the voodoo doll donut, the loop donut,
or the no name donut. One of the shop’s most famous donuts is the Voodoo Doll donut, a chocolate covered voodoo doll with a cracker stick piercing its heart. You might take a second look at their menu when you see the words “Dirty Old Bastard” written on it, but it’s really just a doughnut with peanut butter, chocolate frosting and oreos. Our personal favorite is the Bacon Maple Bar, which perfectly combines the crunch of the bacon with the sweetness of maple syrup icing. Even if you don’t like sweet mixed with salty food, the Bacon Maple Bar will make you think twice. However, if you’re not looking to jump into the crazy, the shop also sells classic options, such as their double chocolate donut.
Voodoo Donuts is definitely worth a visit because it is unlike any other donut chain store around Taipei. If you have a sweet tooth and a love for the unconventional, you’ll love Voodoo Donuts. Its doughnuts may be considered to be on the pricey side (with a price range from around 30 NT for the plain ones to almost 100 NT for the specials), but as they say, try new things! Address: No. 28, Lane 553, ZhongXiao S. Rd, Sec. 4 Cursed donuts: The Loop, Miami Vice Berry, Voodoo Bubble donuts [VOODOO DOUGHNUT INSTAGRAM]
Depression Doesn’t Discriminate By Andrew Lin I can understand why kids who live in poverty suﬀer from depression: they are malnourished, exposed to diseases and often confronted by death. However, I believe it is foolish to assume that the rich and privileged are exempt from depression. Despite living in a rich and supportive environment like TAS, we are equally exposed to depression as impoverished children, and we must understand what factors cause depression and how to eﬀectively combat depression to help those in need. Depression can happen to anyone, no matter how poor or rich you are. “Depression is definitely a disease that doesn’t respect privilege or status,” says Sherri Grande, TAS’s Upper School psychologist. “Having privilege doesn’t inoculate you against having bad things happen, it’s a disease like any.” Depression does not discriminate and that alone makes it a very dangerous psychological disease because it can attack anyone at any given time. Trauma, abuse and family problems are key factors in causing depression through dramatic changes to emotional levels and personal outlook of the world, but studies have shown that the pressure to succeed is the biggest factor that leads to depression. Children of aﬄuent families are often expected to succeed in academics, extracurricular and social aspects. Parents who spend huge sums of money for their children often hold high expectations for their children and put a relentless amount of pressure on their children to succeed. When the expectation is a reasonable and attainable goal, students begin to see expectations as a necessity, an obligation for students to fulfill at all costs. This obligation creates immense pressure for students to try to exceed expectations. If and when the student fails to accomplish the task, the student’s confidence and
self-esteem will suﬀer. Furthermore, wealthy parents want their children to follow what they had done before to attain the same amount of success and benefits they achieved. These parents force their children to follow their footsteps of success whether the goal is to become a doctor, physician, engineer or any other successful job. This mentality puts more emphasis on achievement and ignores what the child wants. When parents exert this pressure on children, the children would not only think that success is viewed more importantly than their own happiness but also think that their personal opinion is completely ignored. These thoughts are detrimental to a child’s mental health and outlook. Children who have these thoughts show increased symptoms of depression or anxiety. In fact, pressure is one of the biggest factors in triggering potential problems that can lead to depression or anxiety. How can we eﬀectively combat depression? A simple answer would be through counseling and medication but that is not my main point. Even before we think about counseling or medication, we need to think of how to prevent depression from happening to us. Parents have every right to push us to do our best but we cannot and should not tell our parents to change; it is simply out of our control. What we can do to help ourselves alleviate some pressure is to change the way we perceive expectations. Instead of viewing expectations as a necessity, we can change the way we look at expectations by setting our own expectations that are diﬀerent from what parents would give us. While parents may expect high expectations, we can dictate our own expectations to be much lower or none at all. Lowering our own expectations gives us more breathing room when we take
on assessments and it gives us higher chances to satisfy ourselves. We also need to train ourselves to be mentally strong in order to face high expectations and pressure from parents, teachers and peers to perform well in school. We need to be able to make friends and have friends that we feel comfortable talking to about diﬃcult subjects and friends that we know are willing to us in times of need. The biggest part of having a healthy sense of self is knowing yourself, which constitutes your strengths and weaknesses, and knowing how to move forward, utilizing your strengths and weaknesses to make decisions that can impact your future. If you understand and know yourself, you would know which decisions you make and enable you to experience fewer diﬃculties in life. It is very important for us to know ourselves so that we can experience less diﬃculties and have a lower chance of getting into problems that may lead to depression. A healthy sense of self is important for growing up in the future and for you to move forward to continue building on your life. There are obstacles that prevent us from recognizing depression that can become very problematic. “I don’t think necessarily [that] privilege plays a role,” says Ms. Grande, “but I think sometimes it keeps people from getting help.” This mindset is what most privileged students would harbor in their heads because they continue to believe that the issues are minor since having a higher status stops them from looking at the big picture. Another obstacle to getting help is covering up or “masking” where people express emotions diﬀerently between the inside and outside. Students can act like they are happy but are actually depressed by putting on a “mask” that stops people from seeing what is actually happening. These obstacles often stop people from getting adequate help and makes the
depression worse. Depression is a big problem that does not target specific people and does not have a specific cure. We should not let depression reach us first and instead, try to prevent depression from ever catching us so that we do not suﬀer from the perils of depression.
Depression is definitely a disease that doesn’t respect privilege or status. [Ms. Sherri Grande]
the blue & gold october 8, 2015
Behind the curtains of a crazy cast: Here are the main characters of this year’s fall drama, “You Can’t Take it With You,” a play about following your dreams and family values. [MR. EDWARDS]
Viola Davis’ Bell-Ringing Speech
You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. By Jocelyn Chen
The Emmys brought tears to many faces this week during Viola Davis’s impassioned acceptance speech for her awardwinning lead role on ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder. Her win made history as Davis became the first African-American woman to win Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Emotions were already high when Uzo Aduba took to the stage that evening for her tearful acceptance speech after winning Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. This was her second consecutive Emmy for this
role and she became the first actress to win both a comedy and a drama award for the same role as a result of the category-change for Orange Is The New Black from comedy to drama. Almost every reviewer agrees that the highlight of the show was watching these two powerful women of color, Davis and Aduba, break their respective records—which in turn probably saved the recent downward viewership ratings. The reason these women’s wins were taken to the headlines following the show is because they point toward a breakthrough for minority visibility, specifically for African American representation in television. Davis said, “Here’s to all the awesome people... who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be Black.” Of course, more is to be done to transform the media to accept more racially diverse roles with substance. Davis discussed this by opening her speech with a Harriet Tubman quote, saying, “In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that
line. But I can’t seem to get there nohow. I can’t seem to get over that line.” With that, she added the single most impactful statement of the night, saying “the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” It’s no secret that African Americans are under/mis-represented in the media, with around 13% of the U.S. population identifying as Black, but only 10.8% of speaking (not lead) characters in top-grossing films are apparent Black. Often, these minority characters are little more than stereotypes, with 31.8% shown in “sexy attire” and 30.5% shown with nudity. There’s a massive shortage of leading roles or roles of substance for African Americans, and the whitewashing of the media (85.3% of lead actors White in 2012) creates a racially biased gap between the two groups. There is no surprise that the media industry is predominantly white malebased, problems similar to insuﬃcient African American visibility widespread across all ethnic minorities and genders for all roles. In fact, a whopping 100% of the cable comedies and drama creator
Emmy winners in 2011-2 were White, and 93.3% of those White creators male. These numbers illustrate the reality of racial bias in the media, and they explain why Viola Davis’ breakthrough win is significant. Why it has taken so long for roles like Davis’ or Aduba’s on their shows to simply exist and be recognized by the television academy poses as a good question, especially in a seemingly progressive United States. It also creates even more questions, such as “How can roles for other minorities, such as Asians or Latinos, also come into the picture?” or “How can we now integrate more directing and creating roles into the industry?” I couldn’t predict the year where finally a just representation of minorities and equal opportunities for these actors and actresses in the industry exist, but Davis’ speech has definitely rung a bell for the academy audience and called attention to the equality gaps and holes in the industry. What happens next is up to a wide response to her speech, either by continuing to fail to recognize minority importance or instead actually transforming to accept more diverse roles. Only then will we “get over that line.”
Exploring Taiwan: Top Five Places to Visit in Taitung By Emily Yang We’re all leaving Taiwan eventually. That’s a fact I’ve accepted a long, long time ago. To be honest, part of me didn’t mind so much to have to leave this little island. Whenever I flew back from another country, I would jokingly note to my family members that “Taiwan is only beautiful at night.” Then Taitung happened to me. And now I know, with absolute certainty, that I was wrong: Taiwan really is beautiful. One day, we will venture beyond Taiwan, and hopefully take a piece of the island with us as we move forward in our lives. But it would just be unfair to Taiwan if you leave it behind without fully comprehending its beauty, its charm… and, in my opinion, a visit to Taitung constitutes just that.
Considered by some to be the most beautiful place in Taiwan, Lanyu is your prototype mini-paradise. Blue waters, open skies, fresh green grass, pale yellow sand… you name it. A 2.5 hour ferry ride away from Taitung, the island oﬀers an incredible snorkeling and diving experience. You can also rent a motorcycle or bicycle and just sight-see, and soak in glimpses of aboriginal culture, such as the traditional canoe-style fishing boats that line the coast. The island is home to the aboriginal Tao people, who would definitely help you out and give you recommendations if you’re polite enough of a traveler.
Lu Yeh High Land
Hit up Lu Yeh High Land--sit on a grassy hill and watch people mount hot air balloons against the open sky during the annual hot air balloon festival, which usually takes place between June and August. For the gutsy ones: go paragliding near Gaotai for $1500NT per person for an incredible view and experience!
Tie Hua Music Village
Taitung is known as the center of artistic expression in Taiwan, and Tie Hua Music Village is the place to find just that. There, you can enjoy a picturesque evening stroll through streets lit by handmade paper lanterns. Splurge a bit on cute little products like handmade bracelets and wooden carvings, or get a henna at one of the booths. Or simply enjoy the atmosphere, which is usually lightened up by independent, talented performers who sign up to play around the village. Once, I sat on a bench and just listened to a young boy play the ukulele for about ten minutes. Great things happen in this village. If you love any kind of art, or if you’re seeking a calming, beautiful refuge, spend a night at Tie Hua Music Village.
Taitung Seashore Park
Okay, yeah — another cycling path. As you might know from “Taitung Seashore Park,” the park path oﬀers a ride with the ocean over one shoulder and trees over the other. There’s even a manmade lake that the path circles, which you can take a dip into. Just outside one of the entrances, you can also find a vendor to buy coconut juice (still in the coconut!). The park definitely oﬀers many hallmarks of Taitung’s beauty, from the blue ocean to the lovely scenery to the laid-back atmosphere that you won’t be able to get enough of.
Kinchen Mountain Described by a reviewer as “Taiwan’s Swiss view,” the lovely panorama of yellow tiger day lilies provided definitely rivals familiar and iconic pictures of the flower-speckled fields in Switzerland. Up in the mountain, you will also find a small restaurant to drink some soup or eat popsicles that consist of the same day lilies. When my family and I visited, we got to listen to a man whistle with a leaf near the summit, so be on the lookout!
Treasures of Southern Taiwan: Visit Tie Hua Music Village (top) and Lu Yeh High Land (bottom) to see the hidden beauty and charm Taiwan has to offer. [GOOGLE IMAGES]
the blue & gold october 8, 2015
Top Five Lesser-Known Horror Movies
Many movies can scare you, but few can really terrify you.
A Cursed Family: House of Usher explores the thin line between the supernatural and the insane. [GOOGLE IMAGES]
Better than Twilight: If you want to watch a legitimate vampire movie, take a look at The Brides of Dracula. [GOOGLE IMAGES]
By Andrew Mobley
The month of all Hallows Eve is upon us; to get in the spirit, here are some frightful, lesser-known horror movies.
House of Usher (Color/1960)
Shot in a mere 15 days on a relatively low budget, House of Usher is the finest example of director Roger Corman’s genius. Roderick, the last male of the Usher family, is determined to see the family line end, as he believes it is cursed. A sickly sweet macabre, this movie, based on the short story “Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe, is one of the best examples of American gothic horror. The line between the supernatural and the insane is blurred so that you never truly know whether the Ushers are insane or just cursed, as they believe.
The Brides (Color/1960)
Very few horror movies can surpass the sheer awesomeness that is The Brides of Dracula. It is arguably the best of the Hammer House of Horror’s Dracula film serial, and should not be dismissed for its cliché name. The film pits the ever-resolute Van Helsing against the preeminent disciple of Dracula, Baron Meinster. Marianne, a beautiful young schoolteacher, is caught against her will in the last great battle between
vampire and vampire slayer. This classic movie stands the test of time, but for the heartless among you who discredit films merely for their age, you’ll at least be sure it’s better than the Twilight saga.
Phenomena, directed by Dario Argento, the Sergio Leone of Italian Giallo horror, has a style like no other horror movie. Whether this is a good thing or not I will leave for you to decide. The plot, though decent, has the potential to be so much better that it brings tears to my bloodshot-horrormovie-watching eyes. Jennifer Corvino, the daughter of a movie star, is sent to a girl’s boarding school in Switzerland. She has an unusual ability—a psychic link with insects. With the help of a wheelchair-bound scientist, she uses her gift to stop a serial killer from butchering young women. If you’re looking for originality and a creative cinematic style, this movie is for you.
The Revenge of Frankenstein (Color/1958)
The Revenge of Frankenstein is another fantastic film from Hammer House of Horror. Hammer was the British equivalent of Universal Studios when it came to horror, making their own versions of movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy. The
Revenge of Frankenstein is one of the best Frankenstein films. It is wrought with powerful emotion like few other horror films of its time. Baron Frankenstein is desperate to avenge the destruction of his life’s work. Standing in his way is Karl, the tragic cripple who only wants to live a normal life. I have seen it twice. You should see it thrice.
The Changeling (Color/1980)
The Changeling is a good example of what a haunted house movie should be like. John Russell is a pianist and composer who recently lost his wife and daughter to a car accident. In his attempt to rebuild his life, John seeks isolation in an old Victorian mansion, which happens to be haunted by the spirit of a murdered child. By today’s standards, this film is perhaps tame, as it contains no dismemberment of humans. I am an ardent dis-liker of horror films that are essentially Saw clones. This film was the original, quintessential haunted house movie and gives you fear, not disgust, and that’s refreshing. Like the trailer says, many movies can scare you, but few can really terrify you.
From Paper Towns to movie screens By Bonna Yi
From teens trying to crack a dystopian government in Divergent to the Maze Runner gang of genetically special kids surviving an apocalyptic zombie-land, stories of teenagers fighting the world seem to be go-to source for box oﬃce hits. But what if the characters are ordinary beings living in a perfectly non-destructive world? Recent movie Paper Towns is based on the 2008 novel of the same name by John Green (who was also the executive producer for the movie). Paper Towns starts oﬀ as a cute, casual story about a mediocre senior named Quentin Jacobsen (Nat Wolﬀ), or Q, and his childhood girl-nextdoor crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevigne). Although Q and
Margo have drifted apart throughout their adolescence years, Q still has a desperate crush on the unapproachable, uber-popular dream girl. In short, it’s a typical high school drama. That is, until one night, when Margo appears at Q’s bedroom window out of the blue. They soon embark on an incredible “mission” together, pranking an unfaithful boyfriend, saran-wrapping the car of a backstabbing friend, and removing the eyebrows of a childhood bully. The next morning, Margo vanishes, leaving Q and his friends to search for her using the clues she left behind in a Woody Guthrie poster. So begins a coming of age story of a young man with a savior-complex
seeking the elusive girl he’s always put on a pedestal. Margo remains an enigmatic character throughout the movie, only seen through the eyes of Q as this femme-fatale and muse. Margo, to Q, is the symbol of a holy grail that he must go after. The bulk of the plotline is translated wonderfully to the movie screens. However, the finer details of the novel is what seems to be missing from the actors. The novel depicts Q as an extremely ordinary, non-rebellious teenager with nice friends and the typical dream of going to college. The problem with translating this ordinariness into the motion picture is that it is scripted. The novel Q is an adorkable, awkward boy who has
trouble understanding the female mind. While Nat Wolﬀ fits the face of Q as the not-so-special, average-looking hero, his on-screen personality oozes with intelligent, memorized phrases that come out smoothly with a confidence. Likewise, while Cara Delevingne fits the face of the manic pixie-dream girl, her supposedly mysterious aura comes oﬀ as monotonous when put into words. Then again, because this is a movie targeted for the teenage audience, the lack of sentimentality and emotional tones in the conversations makes sense. Instead, the characters engage in sharp, funny banters about Pokemon, a beersword and the largest collection of Black Santas. Furthermore, the movie is embellished with the 21st century
A Terrifying tale: Phenomena is a stylish tale that follows an insect-whisperer’s clash with a serial killer. [GOOGLE IMAGES]
electric-pop tunes of the Vampire Weekend and HAIM to give it its feel of youth and upbeat excitement. With just the right amount of slowmotion eﬀects and voice-narration, Paper Towns highlights the moments in the cusp of Q’s transition into adulthood yet remainder in his goofy teenagery bubble. The movie is a quirky, coming of age story that helps us understand what happens when we blindly pursue an ideal and neglect reality. In the case of Q and many other males, it is their lack of understanding about the females that they pine after. But once we find out the truth about ideals and Margo, all seems better.
Next stop—Station eleven By Bonna Yi
The end has no end: Bestseller Station Eleven places its characters in a postapocalytic world. [GOOGLE IMAGES]
Eventually, the world will end and we will all die. There’s nothing sad or sentimental about it. That’s just a fact. After the end, all is forgotten. Unless we survive. Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven, which came out last September, is a portrayal of a postapocalyptic world that is stuck between an end and a start. The “Georgian Flu” virus destroyed most of the population, and the remaining survivors are trudging through an era without internet and advanced medicine. This is a picture of what the world could’ve looked like if the Ebola virus had taken over. But unlike most end of the world, sci-fi stories, this novel isn’t about how to survive. Instead, it is a question of what will survive. The focus of the novel is not the
devastation caused by the epidemic, but the narrative of the survivors. It is about the survival of their humanity. The story is fashioned in a time-tunnel, going back and forth between the world before and the world after the crisis, where survivors must attempt to create a new beginning. As an added, unconventional quirk, the survivors have formed settlements visited by a travelling symphony of actors performing Shakespearean plays. A line from Star Trek—“survival is insuﬃcient”—is a recurring catchphrase throughout the story and something the readers must contemplate. You can feel throughout the novel a fragile sense of preservation and remembrance, especially for the literary works of the previous world. The stories of today—the writings of Shakespeare read on Sparknotes and the episodes
of Star Trek available with a flick of a remote—have become historical relics struggling to survive. The people, of course, also survive, although they grapple with several matters while doing so. The novel’s cast of characters is a world in itself. The main characters include Jeevan, a onetime journalist turned paramedic who falls in and out of love, and Kirsten, a performer from the symphony who has flashes of memories from her childhood when the virus struck. Finally, there is Arthur Leander, a Shakespearean actor who despite dying in the first chapter of the novel, remains a key character in connecting the reader to the world before and after the virus. Incessant bits of meticulous, trivial details about each character and event plague the book. In fact, you’ll find so much so that it may be convincing
to abandon the eﬀort of trudging through the long descriptions without falling asleep. However, I found the mundaneness of the novel extremely humanizing. There is no grand suspense, surprise, drama or thriller—it is, to put it simply, quite normal. This heartfelt normality in the post-apocalyptic world brings comfort to the mind. In the world of Station Eleven, the end has already passed. And the end, in fact, is just a beginning. Memories survive; people survive. And most importantly, humanity survives as well.
The novel is a National Book Award Finalist and a PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist.