Pointer Press February 2024

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Pointer Press February 2024


















Marriage Should Be Strictly Economic Ella George

In this modern society, you may often be asking yourself what love even is. The answer? Love is a lie. You don’t need love, you need something solid that you can hold in your hand, and that solid thing is money. Married people pay fewer taxes and get paid more. Marriage is a contract, a piece of paper that you sign. You don’t have to be in love to get married, and there’s no need for planning giant proposals or wasting years of your life dating. Plus, with the absence of love and all the tedious things that come with it, you can focus on your education, career, and making more money! My advice? To trade love in for money and marry one of your friends. Getting married for love will only slow you down. In an article from Brides magazine, journalist Meredith Lepore writes that “data supports that the average length of a relationship before marriage is between two and five years.” Further, the article states that over the past 50 years, the average ages of couples during their first marriage has increased by almost a decade. Why would anyone waste 2-5 years on a relationship and continue dating as they grow older when they could be spending that time working and saving money? It’s best to skip out on that and jump right to the wedding. It is often important to have an extensive education in order to get higher paying jobs. The State Bar of Texas confirms that to obtain a law degree, “seven years of education following high school is typically required.” Those aren’t seven easy years either. You have to study and learn the tricks of the trade so that you can be a successful attorney for the purpose of making more money, of course. Indeed, a career guide, states that “it takes between 10 to 14 years to become a fully licensed doctor.” Similarly to becoming a lawyer, you must spend a huge chunk of your life working your tail off to become a trained, successful medical professional. In a similar instance, the American University of the







“anesthesiologists spend 12 to 14 years in school and training after high school.” Twelve years of your adult life must be sacrificed for this kind of profession. Is it worth it? Well, according to Indeed, “Anesthesiologists can make up to $663,000 per year.” Twelve years doesn’t sound too long anymore, does it? There is no time to waste on useless relationships when it takes this long to become qualified for these high paying jobs.

People who are married get paid more, too. In an article from Big Think, author Scotty Hendricks explains “how much more married people earn compared to their peers…(it) can range from 4.5% to a staggering 32.6%.” Nobody should skip out on earning this much more by waiting for “the one,” because no one is going to be paying you 32% more while you're searching for them. Avoiding distractions allows you to make as much money as possible as fast as possible. There simply isn’t time to waste when there are opportunities to make more money. An additional relevant goal for the modern adult is to pay the lowest amount of taxes possible. H&R Block, a company providing tax preparation services, introduces one of their articles on personal tax planning by stating that “...you're almost always better off Married Filing Jointly (MFJ).” To back up their claim, they list the following benefits: “student loan interest deduction…[and the] exclusion of interest on Series EE or I U.S. Savings Bonds used for higher education expenses.” Getting married is therefore a great way to save money while pursuing the aforementioned lengthy education needed to get a high-paying job. With these considerations in mind, there is a clear way to attain a financially successful future: pushing the lie that is love aside and getting married to a close friend right out of high school. Then, get a part-time job to make and save money while spending ten years earning a high level degree. During this time, you don’t have to pay as much in taxes, so you keep more of your money. This is the perfect pathway to entering the workforce and getting rich. There is no better way to win at life.

Is 2-D Animation a Dying Art Form? Natalie Morales Haskell

Films such as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid were staples of numerous childhoods, mine

While animated films are still quite modern, with Snow White

included. Every evening, consumed by a different Disney film, I would eagerly scan through a massive collection of VCR tapes, selecting the one most appetizing that day. With caution, I would delicately slide the tape into the VCR recorder built into our little TV. A countdown would appear on the screen. When it hit 0, the atmosphere would transform completely. Soulless beige infomercials were exchanged for lively, colorful fairy tales. The quavering yellow sun rising against the red sky on the African savannas, the vibrant marine creatures dancing and

animated film) being released less than a century ago in 1937,

playing instruments under the sea, the heavenly candlelit ballroom graced with Belle’s voluptuous, golden gown. The list

to be an example of this paleolithic animation. Fast forward to

goes on and on. These classically animated films are filled with a plethora of iconic scenes. Despite only being 2 dimensional, these animations were capable of bringing life to the screen.

and the Seven Dwarfs (the first ever full-length traditionally humans have long been fascinated by the concept of “animating,” or bestowing life upon the inanimate. In fact, the art of animation long predates cinema, with the earliest tracing back to 3000 BCE: Cave etchings of animals with melded bodies from the paleolithic area may have appeared to be in motion under a flickering flame. The Grand Panneau of the Salle du Fond, a 33 feet long piece filled with repeated images of cave lions that have the illusion of chasing their prey is thought the 19th century and a number of devices are invented, all attempting to animate objects The Phenakistoscope, invented by Joseph Plateau in 1832, was a spinning disk with a series of images of an object going through a motion. It generated the illusion







phenakistoscope was the zoetrope two years later. The device, invented by William George Horner in 1834, consisted of a band of pictures wrapped around a cylindrical interior. When looking into the slots around the body of a spinning zoetrope, one would see a seemingly moving object. The kineograph, better known as a flip-book, was patented in 1868 by John Barnes Linett. A flip book is a series of drawings all stacked on top of each other that create a moving image when flipped through quickly. However, in recent years, 2-D animation seems to have become a thing of the past. Major animation studio Dreamworks abandoned the art form following the release of Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas in 2003, while Disney's last movie in such a style was Winnie the Pooh in 2011. In its place, 3-D animation has dominated the Western movie industry for the past decade. Cartoons have grown exceedingly more detailed as 3D animation continues to advance - it's undeniably an amazing feat. I recall watching Frozen for the first time, completely awestruck by the depth of the visuals. The natural movement of the characters’ hair, the textures of the fabric, the way the lighting brought depth: it all made the implausible appear plausible. Beyond the illusion of realism, Frozen was absolutely gorgeous. The glistening icy wonderland suited this 21st century fairy tale, and the entire “Let It Go” sequence? Perfection. The marvelous ice castle constructing itself from the ground up showcased Elsa's liberation in an exhilarating manner. And that dress - what little girl couldn’t picture herself in Elsa’s iconic, shimmering blue dress? Needless to say, the style has expanded the possibilities of animation. But it is not a replacement for classic animation. Neither is it “superior” to the 2-dimensional animations that preceded it. They are just different art forms, each with their own strengths. As such, classic animation still deserves a place in the modern world.

It wasn’t until 1906 that the first animated film - the Humorous Phases of Funny Faces by J.Stuart Blackton - was created. The 3 minute silent film transformed sketches on a chalkboard into moving entities utilizing stop motion. Meanwhile, Emile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie is the earliest example of a traditional (handdrawn) animated film. With a total runtime of just under 2 minutes, the film was composed of 700 hand drawn images, which were shot on negative film to achieve a black board effect.

About 2 decades following Fantasmagorie, we would witness the birth of Disney. In 1923, Walt Disney along with his brother Roy would reach an agreement with a New York distributor to distribute their series “Alice Comedies,” marking the beginning of the company. Unfortunately, this partnership was not one made to last. 4 years later, Walt Disney would pursue a new cartoon series centered around the character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. To his dismay, he found out that the distributor had gone behind his back, signing all of his animators to a different studio and hoping to create the series for a lower cost without him. To further rub salt in the wound, upon reexamining the contract, he discovered that the distributor owned the rights to Oswald, not him. This misfortune however, led to the creation of Disney’s iconic mascot, Mickey Mouse. Disney released Steamboat Willie in 1928, a monumental step towards its future as an animation giant. The release of the cartoon was such a success that it led to a Mickey Mouse series. Then, in 1932, Disney pushed the boundaries of animation by releasing Flowers and Trees, the first ever fully colored cartoon utilizing Technicolor. Flowers and Trees won the first ever Academy Award for Best Cartoon.

Jumping ahead to the end of the 80’s, a new era of Disney was on the horizon. Disney had been struggling, no longer enjoying hefty profits in the box office. The studio plunged into a dark age following Walt Disney’s death, and 1985’s Black Cauldron was an absolute disaster, losing 23 million dollars. Box office flops made the future of animation at the studio uncertain. But when all seemed lost, The Little Mermaid came along, becoming the highest grossing animated movie of its time. This pulled the company out of the abyss it had fallen into, and kickstarted the Disney

In 1934, Disney looked beyond cartoon series and set his sight on producing a fully animated feature film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In order to achieve this daunting feat, Disney turned to rotoscoping. Developed by animator Max Fleischer in 1915, this technique exchanges purely hand-drawn animation for tracings over live action footage. Its use of live action footage allows animators to add a sense of realism to the motion of characters. In Disney’ s case, while the live action footage was not directly traced over, it was referenced in order to get a sense of the characters’ movements. Multiple dancing scenes, along with Prince charming’s movements, were rotoscoped over live action footage. Along with rotoscoping, Disney became the first studio to employ the multiplane camera while producing Snow White. The camera added depth by shooting through multiple moving backgrounds rather than a single background. After 3 years of hard work from its animators, the beloved film was finally released. It was an instant hit, becoming the highest grossing movie of its time and cementing full length animation films as a core aspect of Disney’s business. Soon after, entering the 1940’s, Disney successively released the classics Fantasia, Pinnochio, Dumbo, and Bambi, making up the golden era of Disney.

Renaissance. The Disney Renaissance is widely recognized as one of the greatest eras of the studio, churning out some of its most iconic, beloved, and nostalgic animated films. What made these movies so special? All of them were filled with sweeping, action-filled shots, which can be credited to the use of CGI. The Renaissance era films were unique, combining the use of computer-generated backgrounds along with hand drawn characters. These techniques are what made the vast landscapes of Pride Rock, the dynamic branches and vines of Tarzan’s escapades, and the grand ballroom of Belle and the Beast’s dance all possible. Disney notably invented and experimented with new technology in these films. In Mulan, for example, the animators developed a crowd simulation software called Attila in order to animate the thousands of Huns charging down the mountain. Another key factor to these movies were the scores by Alan Menkin, but that's a topic for another article. Meanwhile, a new style of animation was emerging. Pixar had initially begun as the Computer Division for Lucasfilms, formed in 1979. Then in 1986, the Computer Division was bought






and called

transformed Pixar.





collaborating with Disney on the Computer Animation Production System (CAPS), a revolutionary collection of software that computerized processes of traditional animation. Then, in 1995, Pixar released Toy Story, the first ever fully computer-animated feature film. The film was a hit, making 365 million dollars world wide. Following its success, in 1997 Walt Disney Studios and Pixar reached an agreement to jointly make movies over the next 10 years. And since then, 3-D animation has been unstoppable, dominating the industry.

While Disney continued to make 2-D films up until 2011, it became clear which way the tides were changing. As the Disney Renaissance concluded, 2-D animated films no longer brought in the profits they had before. Subsequent 2-D films such as Treasure Planet and Alantis: The Lost Empire performed poorly in the box office, with Treasure Planet in particular losing 31 million dollars. On the other hand, the studio’s 3-D animated films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and A Bug’s Life were all hits. Meanwhile, other studios such as Dreamworks also began following the same pattern. Dreamworks’ The Prince of Egypt, despite being an absolute masterpiece, did not make anywhere near what the company had anticipated. At the same time, A Bug's Life was released and (despite its notorious plagiarism feud with Dreamworks’ Antz) made massive profits. Learning from their mistakes, Dreamworks released the fully computer-animated Shrek, which was met with rave reviews and enormous earnings at the box office. Following that, Dreamworks never looked back. Disney continued to make hand-drawn animation films, with The Princess and the Frog in 2009 and Winnie the Pooh in 2011, and while enjoying mild success, those films underperformed by the studio’s standards, and they left the medium for good.

Five Films to Watch This Valentine’s Day Julia Peavey

Cinema has long been a champion of romance, touting tales of love and heartbreak with almost as much frequency as it touts its own art form’s virtue. From the first ever kiss on screen, which was featured in the aptly titled 18-second 1896 film The Kiss and generated outrage from the Roman Catholic Church, to “Here’s looking at you, kid,”









coincidently, have also been vocally opposed by the Vatican), there’s no doubt that film has both shaped cultural






reformed the age-old notion of the love story. So if you find yourself looking to watch a movie this Valentine’s Day, consider the following zeniths of romance: 1. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg by Jacques Demy (1964) Edward or Jacob, Peeta or Gale, Cal or Jack? If you’re But though Disney may no longer produce traditionally animated films, that does not mean 2-D animation is gone for good. In 2019, Netflix released Klaus. Klaus is unique in that, despite appearing to be 3-D animated, the film is traditionally animated. Director Sergio Pablos, wanted to explore how the medium would have evolved if there had not been computer-generated animation. The studio utilized volumetric lighting and focused on texture in order to give it the feel of a living painting. Along with being revitalized by Klaus, 2-D animation is thriving in Japan. The film studio Ghibli, which relies mainly on 2-D animation, has enjoyed massive success with films such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and, more recently, The Boy and the Heron. Even Disney could soon return to 2-D animation, as was suggested by the codirector of 2023’s Wish in a recent interview with The Direct. While traditional animation may not have the grasp on the industry it once held, it is by no means dead. Rather, it is a timeless art form with a promising future ahead.

looking for yet another problematic love triangle, look no further than The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’s Genevieve, Guy, and M. Cassard. After the immature and insolent Guy bids his young love Genevieve adieu and goes off to commit war crimes in Algeria, Genevieve will miserably pursue a relationship with the wealthy, polite, and doting diamond salesman M. Cassard. Will the passion of youth or the security of an assured future prevail? Find out in a uniquely musical fashion - adding to the infinite romance, even the most mundane lines of conversation are unceasingly sung. Rhythm or chorus? Not in Demy’s playbook. Speaking (or singing) normally is simply not enough to encapsulate such scintillating love. And if your mother asks how you spent Valentine’s Day, just say, “In the usual way, I assure you.”

2. Ex Machina by Alex Garland (2014)

4. The Phantom Menace by George Lucas (1999)

Is she into you or is she a robot programmed for self-

Despite the obvious draws of pod racing, Trade Federation

preservation using you as a tool to escape her creator?

Viceroy Nute Gunray, and ever bigger fish, what makes The

Answer this age-old question by spending 110 minutes

Phantom Menace a staple for any Valentine’s Day is, of

with Ava, a humanoid Artificial Intelligence invention,

course, Jar Jar Binks. Before watching be sure to revisit

Nathan, her brilliant and narcissistic inventor, and Caleb,

episodes eight and nine of Star Wars: The Clone Wars



season six, where you’ll be gratefully reminded that dear

compound to perform an advanced Turing test on her.

Jar Jar has a canonical love interest. After witnessing Binks

Tensions rise as Ava’s knowledge is evaluated, and

courageously rescue and passionately kiss his lover, who is

paranoia sets in beside Pollock paintings, impromptu

the queen of an entire planet, allow that fact to loom over

choreography, and talk of AI’s future rule of the world. As

you as he clumsily leads you through Naboo’s Gungan

you grapple with Ava’s motives alongside the infatuated

palace and gives you a piercing, yellow-eyed stare. There


is no watch more fitting than The Phantom Menace if you












psychological thriller will set the scene for a Valentine’s

wish to celebrate the indomitable power of love.

Day like no other. So press play on Oliver Cheatham’s “Get Down Saturday Night,” sharpen your kitchen knives, and prepare to question what it means to be human.

5. Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock (1954) What better way to end your February 14th than with film’s most classic tale of a Peeping Tom? Upon being confined 3. Poor Things by Yorgos Lanthimos (2023)

to his apartment with a broken leg, the perpetually sweaty

As one of the most heartwarming directors working

L.B. Jeffries eagerly chooses the romantic and murderous

today, Yorgos Lanthimos never fails to channel the


Valentine’s Day spirit. Poor Things, his most recent

entertainment. Rejoice in Jeffries’ confidence as he both

feature film, excitingly deviates from his past feel-good

assumes the role of amateur sleuth and steadfastly

work in The Lobster and The Killing of the Sacred Deer to

believes that he can do better than Grace Kelly, who plays

achieve something even more whimsical - it’s fun for the

his doting, oft-ignored girlfriend Lisa Fremont. Four whole

whole family! Nothing attracts eager suitors quicker than

flashbulbs later (and after a delightfully firm reminder that

an infant’s brain in a grown woman’s body, and so the

women are better at shopping than they are at reading!)

film’s Frankenstein’s-monster-retelling of a protagonist,

you’ll be certain that voyeurism, cinema, and Valentine’s

Bella Baxter, is quick to be whisked off on a journey to

Day are indeed the perfect trio.

experience the wonders of love and life. She progresses through the pleasures and pitfalls of this adventure just as quickly as she progresses through the stages of psychological development, displaying free will, curiosity, and a penchant for questioning the innate oppression of imposed societal norms. And so if pink and red hearts aren’t enough to fill you with joy this February 14th, surely having a post-watch discussion on the societal stigma of sex work and the flaws of modern feminist theory will be!







Point Loma Unity Game



Ava Mulno

When asking the student coaches and hosts about their favorite elements of the game, seniors Kody Knobloch and Rachael Morris agreed that “Jason’s 3-pointer” and “seeing all my players score” were among their highlights. Scotty Fisher, a sophomore, shared that he “enjoyed seeing everyone have fun and everyone happy.” Sophie Taylor. a junior, said that her favorite part was “getting to know the kids during the practices.” The 6th Annual PLHS Unity Game was hosted on Thursday, January 11th in the Big Gym. The Circle of Friends club presidents Natasha Perez. and Bert Hochbrueckner collaborated with the Point Loma High School athletics department to sponsor this awesome, inclusive and free event. The game features the varsity basketball teams and special education athletes. Point Loma was the first ever San Diego school to begin the Unity Game tradition back in 2018; since then, other local high schools have followed suit, including La Jolla High School and Madison High School. The culture of inclusion at the game was highlighted through coverage by KUSI Sports, the local news channel that supports high school sports. They were invited to cover the game, and aired it on Thursday night, as well as sharing clips on their Instagram page. Each Unity player selected their own “walk out” song to hype their grand entrance, and the Point Loma cheer team lined up to fire up each player. The crowd filled the stands and rooted loudly for each participating student. Each Unity player contributed their own spirited play, and showed off their talents with impressive shots for their teams. The final score was tied 25-25.

The positive dynamic from this game showcases the bond between our varsity student-athletes and special education students, and creates a safe and connected environment for each student. The culture of inclusion through the Unity Game is cultivated through the connections between these students and the players. The crowd could feel just how special these moments were for the players to feel excited about coming to a school where they feel loved and welcomed; each of them had their moment to shine in front of a large and supportive audience. Go, Pointers!



This year's women’s basketball season kicked off with three new coaches - Head Coach Mannisto, who used to play professional basketball, Varsity Coach Will, and JV/Varsity Coach Mr. A. Many players this year were relatively new to the sport and didn’t have a lot of experience, but there were veteran returning players who helped to elevate the team. This group included three seniors: Kylie Wade, Rachel Morris, and Bella Sisk-Correll. These three fighting Pointers laid it all out on the court for their final basketball season at Point Loma High School. The season started out strong, with the team playing in two tournaments during winter break before moving into their regular season. The team finished the season with a 16-12


This season has had a great stretch of play as the men’s basketball team has an impressive 18-8 record heading into the CIF Division 3 playoffs and has secured the 5th seed in the tournament bracket. They will be hosting 12th-seeded Imperial High School on Wednesday, February 14th.

record, and at the time of publication, was traveling all the

The team has turned around the year, winning 10 out of their

way to Blythe, CA for their opening playoff game.

13 last games to finish the regular season. During a home game against Crawford, the 61-55 win in overtime was made

In addition to their on-court successes, the team enjoyed a

much sweeter when freshman Graham Murdoch made the

great deal of team bonding experiences as well. Recently,

half court shot during halftime to win $700, marking a historic

they finished up a fundraiser Shot-a-Thon, where each of the players shot 200 free throws and sponsors gave a cash donation for each free throw made. The team enjoyed some Italian food while receiving their team bags and uniforms, then announced their personal goals, and the new coaches introduced themselves. Then they went downtown to Tavern+Bowl East Village for an afternoon of bowling, arcade games, and snacks. Lastly the team went back to Italian towards the end of their season at Officine Buona Forchetta, enjoying free pasta and pizza together as a pre-game meal. The varsity team looks very promising for next year, with new freshmen already rumored to be preparing for the varsity

feat that was anticipated all season. Senior night was also very memorable as 12th graders Nick Freeman, Randy Sarahiva, Baset Raofi, Nick Woodworth, Kody Knoblock, Anthony Ross, and River Abenroth took the court to beat Canyon Hills 64-52 to win the Division 3 Central League Championship in a very close race, with a record of 6-2 in the league. Some leaders of the team include Grant Stewart (with 16.8 points per game, 2.4 steals per game, and shooting 83% from the line), Nick Freeman (with 13.5 points per game, 9.4 rebounds per game, and having a 50% field goal percentage), and Trevor Dorris (with 8.5 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, and shooting 44% in field goals). This season has been a true success, as it has defied the expectations that many

team. The coaching staff runs a tight ship, and at this rate

had after losing key seniors last year, but they are a force to

next year the team might be in a position to win league. Fight

be reckoned with and should be supported going into the

on and go Pointers!

playoffs, as they can make it far. Go Pointers!


Microplastics: A Part of Us All

Kate Joslin

One of the most shocking recent developments in our understanding of how plastics impact our ecosystem is the extensive discoveries of microplastics in almost every corner of our planet. I had the opportunity to attend a viewing of investigative director Rory F. Fielding’s We’re All Plastic People Now, which reveals information about how plastics are now being found in our own blood, organs, brains - even in newborn babies. Although it is an alarming film, it does hold a sense of hope for a better future, and the film has been used to educate and inspire the public through many environmental organizations - such as our very own Surfrider San Diego. This Surfrider Event included a panel of specialists who focused on how we can “turn off the plastic tap” and stop this issue at its root cause. The best place to start is in your own home, limiting your plastic usage as much as possible by using reusable bags, containers, and water bottles. This may sound redundant, as this initiative has been around for much of our lifetimes as high school students, however it’s important to continue to keep up the efforts to limit any more plastic from entering our already overwhelmed system. Another way we can help keep this issue at bay is one that I have found really fulfilling - beach and coastal area cleanups! Much of the microplastics that end up in our water systems and food starts in the ocean, an issue near and dear to many San Diegans, to whom the ocean is an important part of their everyday lives. Organizations like Surfrider San Diego, I Love a Clean San Diego, and our very own PLHS Greenpeace Club and Sailing Team hold beach cleanups often, helping to keep the plastics from entering our waters. Even without a group or organization, it is so easy to grab a bag and go clean up your favorite beach it’ll make your next beach day better too. Solving these massive multi-generational climate issues can seem like a daunting feat, but it is so important to remember that every little thing helps - even just cleaning up your local beach.

Fashion & Pop Culture

Classic Winter Holiday Movie Review Ava Brennan

While we have moved on to Valentine’s Day, it is important to reflect back on other holidays and the rituals that accompany them. For many families, watching Christmas classics is an essential tradition. Some families watch the same movie every year while others change it up regularly. Even if Christmas movie binging is not part of your holiday routine, these movies are still fun to watch in your free time. Looking back on the holiday season, these movies were some of my favorites to get me in the festive mood. It is easy to find a Christmas movie that suits your needs, whether you want a comedy like Elf, or a lighthearted moralistic classic such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, you are guaranteed to find a suitable holiday film out there. I watched all five of these holiday classics this season and enjoyed them in their own ways. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: First, a book, then a 2D animation, then a live-action classic, turned into a 3D animated movie. The story follows the Grinch, a social outcast who lives in solitude at the top of a mountain that overlooks the town of Whoville. After years of being bullied and made fun of, he is pessimistic about everything, with Christmas at the top of the list. In his anger, he decides to steal Christmas and ruin the holiday for all of the Whos, who love Christmas. In doing so, he meets a young girl named Cindy Lou who teaches him the true meaning of Christmas and gets him to rethink his choices. Together they go on to fix everything the Grinch destroyed or took and restore Christmas for the town. This movie has a heartwarming message behind it and effectively engages children with the theme in a fun way: the best part of Christmas is spending time with your loved ones. This is displayed when the Who’s continue to celebrate their Christmas together despite the presents and decorations being stolen by the Grinch. Whether you prefer the original live-action version or the new animated version, this movie is still a great watch with funny moments for kids and adults. The animated version might be slightly better for young children as the Grinch in the live-action can be pretty terrifying. In my opinion, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a great choice during the holiday season and scores a seven out of ten. Polar Express: The Polar Express is based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg which tells the story of a young boy’s self-discovery. A young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus hops on a train headed for the North Pole where he meets friends and has new experiences. The train comes along some bumps in the road - figurative bumps of course. These issues could interfere with the children getting to meet Santa on time. Everything turns out fine and the children learn important lessons along the way.

A Christmas Story: Ralphie Parker just wants one thing for Christmas, a Red Ryder BB gun. He will go to any lengths to get this present, like asking his parents, writing a school essay about it, and telling Santa that it is what he wants for Christmas. Through his attempts to get his dream gift, he makes many childhood memories of winter, along with his brother Randy. This movie is an older winter classic and suits a slightly more mature audience. The idea of Christmas is present throughout the movie but in a less obvious way than the other movies covered. This is because the theme isn’t about the true meaning of Christmas, it is simply a story about a pretty average kid who wants a particular gift. Since Ralphie is an average kid, he is more relatable than the characters in other Christmas movies which makes this movie unique. Randy is also entertaining and has some great comedic moments in this film. When Ralphie finally gets the gift he has been pining over the whole movie, it is a happy moment for him and the audience watching at home. A Christmas Story is a tradition for my family to watch every year. The nostalgia combined with the iconic lines of the film deserves a rating of nine out of ten. Elf: Buddy the Elf, played by Will Ferrell, was raised by Santa’s elves since he was a toddler. Many years later, he discovers that he was adopted and his real father resides in New York. In a spur-of-themoment decision, he decides to travel to New York in hopes of finding his true father. Throughout his journey, he experiences things he has never experienced before due to living at the North Pole his whole life. It is through these experiences he can find his true identity. Elf is one of the most famous Christmas comedies, and for good reason. This movie is lighthearted enough for younger children but funny enough for parents and adults to enjoy and laugh along with. Will Ferrell serves his role in this movie well and creates a slightly annoying, overly peppy character which is exactly what this movie is supposed to have. It is slightly confusing whether the film is trying to say if proof of Santa Claus is necessary or not. Elf is a strong Christmas comedy and deserves a rating of eight out of ten. Buddy’s naivety is the source of many laughs throughout the film and the humor of this movie is perfect for all audiences, whether young or old. Overall, each and every one of these stories can be enjoyed with the whole family, as a Christmas movie should. From the characters to the festive settings, along with the positive messages, these films are able to quickly take a special place in our hearts reserved for Christmas time. As we reflect on the holiday season, we think of the charming memories that were made with friends and family. Adding these movies to your Christmas to-do list can evoke many heart-warming feelings and all of these movies are must-watches to amp up your holiday festivities next year!

“Valentine’s Day” Movie Review Maggie McAteer

Fourteen years ago Valentine’s Day (2010) was released into theaters. Since then, many have compared it to 2003’s Love Actually, a popular Christmas romantic comedy which features an ensemble








interconnected storylines. Although it was a box office success, earning $52.4 million its opening weekend and $216 million worldwide, making it the second biggest opening for a romantic comedy, after Sex and the City (2008), the movie received generally negative reviews, with critic Sady Doyle from The Guardian even arguing that it was the worst film ever made. Director Garry Marshall, who had previously made Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries, went on to create two similar movies New Year’s Eve (2011) and Mother’s Day (2016), which feature similar plots of intertwining stories on their respective holidays. Both films received poor reviews and made significantly less money than Valentine's Day ($142 and $48 million respectively). The film features rom-com stars such as Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman), Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries), and Patrick Dempsey (Enchanted), as well as other celebrities like Jamie Foxx (Ray), Jennifer Garner (13 Going On 30), and Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born), while musicians Queen Latifah and Taylor Swift also played roles. In fact, some may better know the movie as being pop superstar Taylor Swift’s film acting debut. In addition to playing a small part alongside Taylor Lautner, Swift contributed two songs for the movie’s soundtrack, including “Today Was A

As was previously mentioned, Valentine’s Day draws many similarities to the Christmas movie Love Actually. However, many of the things that made Love Actually so delightful were either done badly or taken to an extreme that ruins the original charm of Love Actually. For example, the basic premise of an ensemble cast with interconnected storylines just doesn’t work as well in the film; there are simply too many storylines to keep track of, making the experience of watching the film confusing, especially as it tries to force unnecessary connections between characters into it. The movie would have worked much better overall if a few storylines had been cut, which would have had the added bonus of lowering the runtime. Another plot point they attempted to rework was having an elementary schooler fall in love. Unfortunately, the child actor they cast was not great, and was definitely no Thomas-Brodie Sangster. That whole story ended up being awkward, but was mildly redeemed by the kid’s relation to Julia Roberts’ character. In general, a lot of the movie felt forced with many characters having little chemistry. This was not helped by the “narrator” coming in halfway through the movie to inform the audience that they were now entering the sad part. It made the movie’s basic rom-com plot stand out as completely unoriginal, which it is but they didn’t have to point it out. In addition, at one point a character comes out as gay and there are some controversial jokes and comments made surrounding it, though the representation is generally positive

Fairytale,” which peaked at number two on the US Hot 100. Valentine’s Day opens on a happy note with Reed (Ashton Kutcher) proposing to his girlfriend (Jessica Alba), who agrees to marry him. There is also an introduction from Romeo Midnight, the film’s pseudo narrator in the form of a radio announcer, who sets the tone by saying that Valentine’s Day is his favorite day of the year. The movie then introduces Jamie Foxx’s character, a sports reporter who hates Valentine’s Day but has to do a feel good story on it, before following up on the relationship between “adult phone entertainer” Liz (Anne Hathaway) and mailroom clerk Jason (Topher Grace). The other stories featured in the more than two hour film include: a U.S. Army captain (Julia Roberts) on a long plane ride next to Bradley Cooper; a surgeon (Patrick Dempsey) and his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) whom he has to leave on Valentine’s Day; two awkward teenagers (Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner) who aggressively make out on live television; two awkward teenagers who do not get to make out (Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins); and a football player on the brink of retirement (Eric Dane), among a few others. For the first half of the movie things generally go well for all of the characters, but when Romeo Midnight comes back on things take a turn for the worse. Still, in standard rom-com fashion, everyone gets a happy ending, with the exception of some lying dirtbags who do not deserve to be happy.

Despite having a multitude of downsides, this film made for a genuinely enjoyable watch for a few reasons. Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper’s characters were a highlight, with their performances providing a steady rock amidst a sea of chaos and showing the importance of kindness and how not all love is romantic. Ashton Kutcher’s character, Reed, was also likable for the majority of the movie. He had his low points towards the middle of the film, but as the person with whom the film started and ended, he made for a great (almost) protagonist. Honestly, the movie might have been better if it had just been a normal rom-com about Reed and his story, ignoring all of the other unnecessary storylines. Of course, Taylor Swift is in a few scenes, though her contribution to the movie is really her music and not her awkward acting and dancing. At the end, the credits featured outtakes from the movie which was a cute touch. By conventional movie making standards, Valentine’s Day is not a good movie. The acting is just okay, the plot predictable, and the whole two hours, which really could have been cut down by removing a few unnecessary storylines, are jam packed with romcom cliches and tropes from an airport chase to realizing the person you love is the one right in front of you. Regardless, if you’re looking for a cheesy, feel-good, chick flick about love that you don’t have to take seriously, Valentine’s Day is definitely worth a look this Valentine’s Day.


The 12th

Annual Hungry

Point Loma

Nicole Witt

Jaselle Cahill

Dog Dash


The second Sunday of February is a momentous occasion for everyone. Super Bowl Sunday and the Hungry Dog Dash occur on the same day! This year, the twelfth year of the Hungry Dog Dash, both big events fell on Sunday, February 11th. What better combinations of sports-watching and sports-doing are there?

Due to a series of atmospheric rivers, flooding in

Each year, the Hungry Dog Dash is put on entirely by volunteers from the school’s student body, faculty, and parents to accommodate the long trek of five kilometers. The race began at 8 A.M., but the volunteers wake up bright and early and arrive at Liberty Station at five in the morning, sleep deprived. This year there was a new record for the number of participants with 558. They ranged from little kids to dogs and everything in between.

area, many have been left with damaged property

California has become a prominent issue over the past month. These destructive floods have caused expensive




transportation, and risked civilian safety. While the floods have luckily not caused any fatalities in the and no means of transportation. This flooding has also led to economic impacts, with thousands of properties damaged and awaiting repair.

At the start, there were kids inching forward little by little, anxiously waiting for the race to start. When the race finally began, it was like releasing the dogs as everyone bolted. Speaking of bolted, there was another record set. Jyden Schmid, Point Loma High alumnus, set the course record of 15:50 for the 5k. Another alumnus, Meghan Johnson, got first for the female category with a time of 18:36. Both Schmid and Johnson took home trophies, as well as Sunset View Elementary for having the most participants from a single school. Safe to say it was a good showing for Point Loma High! In the central area there were many welcome distractions from the impending doom of running a race. There were multiple businesses on display for the community, including Camp Bow Wow, Nuttzo, and West Coast Animal Imaging. The band, Dog Town Juniors, performed as well. The Hungry Dog Dash fundraiser supports the Point Loma High cross country team, while simultaneously creating an event where all members of the community can come together. Mark your calendars for next year’s Super Bowl Sunday and Hungry Dog Dash Sunday!

Point Loma has never been known for its rain or gloomy days, and most picture it as sunny and bright. However, it is especially vulnerable during heavy rain or storm surges because of the lack of rain most of the year. Lower elevation areas such as Ocean Beach are more prone to flooding because







Students at Point Loma High School were hit with the






flooding- the brand new library suffered the most from the rain, with several inches of water seeping in and making the library inaccessible for several days. Fortunately, January 22nd was the worst of the damage, and the weather forecast in Point Loma is back to (semi)-sunny winter days moving forward!

OB Pier Update Kate Joslin

This year’s El Niño weather systems have brought rising seas and huge waves up and down California’s coast, leading to bigger and more frequent storms. The El Niño system is brought by temporary warming of parts of the Pacific and weakened trade winds which disrupt the normal weather patterns and bring big swells, king tides, and wet storms right to our doorstep in Southern California. These storms have posed the biggest threat yet to the many iconic beach landmarks that have become a quintessential part of our cities. More than six of the many public piers throughout Southern California have been closed due to damage following the most recent spat of bad weather, including our very own beloved Ocean Beach Pier. Another Ocean Beach resident, Jim Macdonald, shared a

The Ocean Beach pier is nearly 2,000 feet long- the longest concrete pier on the West Coast- and was built in 1966. It has been closed since October 2023 after being repeatedly battered by storms and swell since 2019, and the increasing frequency of these storms has made it more difficult for the pier to be repaired. The pier was still undergoing repairs after beatings from high surf that closed it twice last year when a monster swell in January entirely wiped away one of the pilings. Unfortunately, the difficulty and costly nature of repairing the pier have raised the question of whether it is worth it to spend an estimated $8.4 million in state funding to rebuild the pier.

similar sentiment.

As of January 15th, 2024, a new sign on the Ocean Beach Pier states that an application has been filed with the City of San Diego for its demolition. The notice from the City of San Diego’s Development Services Department reads, “An application has been filed with the city for a Site Development Permit for the historic designation, demolition, and replacement of the OB Pier.”

and reconstruction of the pier will have as limited of an

This notice has brought about many mixed feelings from the surrounding community, as Victor Arreguin, who has been fishing on the pier since it opened in 1966 shared. “I care about the pier. I love the pier. The neglect of the city is responsible for what we are looking at now.”

“It's pretty sad. You know? It's a landmark in Ocean Beach, and we just love it. If you had to imagine Ocean Beach without the pier, it's sad.” The city has been working on several new design options, some of which were outlined in the first segment of this series, but it could be a long time before we see anything happen. At the moment, the “full conceptual design and environmental permitting process are ongoing” according to the City of San Diego. The city is working closely with the California Environmental Quality Act guidelines to ensure that any finalized plans regarding the demolition effect as possible on the surrounding sea life. The City’s original plan was to wait until after the winter storm season to conduct a full assessment, but recent damage and upcoming weather patterns have created a new urgency to inspect and stabilize the pier. They will continue monitoring the situation as the storm season progresses and address any urgent items that may come up, but for the moment they







surrounding the pier in this condition, especially for surfers shooting the pier or surfing up against the pier. The City plans to host another community workshop this spring to discuss the preferred design alternative for a future replacement pier- if you are interested in staying updated on the life of this iconic part of our community you are encouraged to attend.


Dinner Date Tier List Helena Spydell and Max Allen

As we near Valentine’s Day each year, there becomes a sort of frenzy around significant others - or the lack thereof. This can drive many individuals to go on more dates than they would during the rest of the year. With that in mind, there are sure ways to have a wonderful first date, as well as ways to make sure the other person never reaches out to you again. And sometimes, the make-or-break factor boils down to the food that the pair is eating. We will be going over the full range of first date food in this article, starting with restaurants to avoid - in our “Bottom Tier” - before progressing to the “Mid Tier”, and finally ending with our “God Tier” suggestions. Be sure to note that the make-orbreak factor of these options is not the cost of the food, but is instead the amount of effort put into the date, as well as the general ambiance of the restaurant. Of course the actual taste of the food cannot be discounted either. Another caveat to remember about the list is that it is specifically for a first date and always to take personal preferences into consideration. If you are lucky enough to pursue a relationship with your date, it is safe to assume the guide can be relaxed and your partner’s preference can take precedence. And with that, let’s begin this guide to Dinner Dates. On the bottom tier we are starting off with Costco. This may be a cheap option, but it is one that should be avoided at all costs. (Please note that I am referring to the actual food court of Costco, NOT the grocery warehouse itself). In fact, I would go so far as to say that Costco’s food court should be avoided even in the most stable of relationships. It is honestly difficult to describe the exact feeling of eating at the Costco Food Court, but just picture overstimulation combined with greasy food, and this will paint a fairly accurate picture. So essentially: not the right vibe for a first date (or any date for that matter). Moving on from the cheapest option, more reasonably priced restaurants to be avoided on a first date include Chipotle and Dave’s Hot Chicken. These may be controversial picks, but please consider the rampant stomach ache that follows almost every meal at Chipotle and the number of teenagers that frequent Dave’s Hot Chicken at night. Though these meals may be acceptable later on in the relationship, it is strongly suggested to avoid them on the first date. Lastly, it is important to remember that expensive food can still be Bottom Tier, and certain high-end restaurants should definitely be avoided, such as the restaurant Eddie V’s. This restaurant has mediocre food and a grating atmosphere combined with a high price point, giving it a spot in our Bottom Tier. The Mid-Tier are respectable places for a first date that will hopefully leave your date satisfied. The following three options are solid dates that can even be elevated to “God Tier” with just a little more work. The cheapest option here is any local sandwich place, with The Gourmet Bagger on Rosecrans St. being a reliable choice. Sandwiches are casual and could be hit or miss in terms of ambiance, however, elevate this date to God Tier by making it a picnic. Take your sandwiches to a cute location like Liberty Station, the Cliffs, or Shelter Island. Also in Liberty Station is Liberty Public Market. There are plenty of options to choose from if you don’t know what your date likes, with the downside being that none of them really wow in terms of flavor, and the Market can be crowded without much seating. In contrast to the Market, the restaurant Supanee has great Thai food but not a great first date atmosphere, perhaps due to the lighting, which is not exactly romantic. Once again, it would be easy to elevate this to God Tier by getting takeout and creating your own atmosphere at home, and this restaurant would be perfect for a second or third date.

Finally, the God Tier. The ideal combination of ambiance, great food, and thoughtfulness that is highly likely to secure a second date. It’s possible to pay for all of this (exerting minimal effort, except for the hole it may leave in your wallet) if you take your date to Cesarina. The soft pink decor and mouth-watering pesto will do all the work, all you have to do is make a reservation so you and your date don’t have to wait outside. If you want to enjoy Cesarina without breaking the bank, take your date for some latenight tiramisu. For a more cost effective full dinner option, head down Nimitz toward Shelter Island. Pumarro is an Italian restaurant more reasonably priced than Cesarina but still “God Tier” quality, in both ambiance and flavor. If the dinner goes well and your date doesn’t want the night to end, follow dinner with one of the icecream places nearby. Try Portside Gelato if you want to walk (and it’s not too cold) or Craft Creamery for some fun flavors! The final “God Tier” option - and the most impressive choice on this list - is a home cooked meal. This is the most accessible date in terms of price but has the potential to go very wrong. Do not attempt this date if you can’t cook! This date is so special because it is the ultimate gesture of thoughtfulness. By taking the time to buy ingredients, plan a menu, and cook the meal, it is apparent how much you care. For terrible cooks you can potentially achieve this same effect with some thoughtful takeout. Order their absolute favorite food and set the table with real dishes and a few candles. Time is money when it comes to first dates. A good first date is about how much thought you put into making sure your date has a good time and good food. Did you just take them to Costco because you were in the area or did you plan out an entire meal with dessert? Knowing this distinction is what will take your dinner date game to the “God Tier.” God Tier doesn’t mean expensive, it means effort! A location alone will never be enough to carry a date, effort extends to your actions - being observant and asking questions before your date always pays off; a compliment (or multiple) never hurt a date either. We hope that this comprehensive guide to dinner dates in Point Loma helped you out this Valentine’s season and wish you all luck on your first dates!

creative writing

Champagne Lily Peavey

Champagne bubbles tell stories. At least, that’s what I was always told. Nestled in the froth of the celebratory drink are flashes of lives and loves of the romantic and drastically unromantic. I was told that if you look close enough, you could see the moments where things all went downhill, as those moments are often drowned out by the violent popping of the cork and the spew of bubbles. And just as the bubbles fall into the ground and slide down the green glass of the bottle while the champagne itself is poured messily into flutes, so do the once happy stories those bubbles held. Of course, not all of the things that start with champagne end in a disaster. But they are simply average. A commonplace in the tatters of a society, a reminder that things “never really were that bad.” But they are just normal. Somewhat monotone, another colorless thing that fades into the background. Mind-numbingly ordinary. However, to fall is to be extraordinary, and fall is all that champagne bubbles do. So they themselves and their tangled knots of stories amidst their short and fizzy lives are somewhat extraordinary. The story that I first saw within the champagne bubbles was not a happy one. It was rather tragic, when it was meant to be cheerful. To be joyous, gleeful, careless, and whatever other words there are to describe such an occasion. Instead it was somewhat unbearable to watch. To see such hope in someone so fragile and then to what that hope crack and crumble and fade. But, after all, isn’t that what makes it extraordinary? The tale was of a young man. His name was one I do not recall, for his mind was filled with a single obsession. Lydia. Day and night, his thoughts were of this woman and just how much he adored her. Her melancholy vocabulary, her lemon-scented perfume, and her adoration for the way that champagne fizzled when first popped. She, from my first view, was his everything. He was nothing without Lydia and so wholly believed that Lydia was nothing without him. And so an onlooker could believe that these two young people who appeared so desperately enamored with one another wouldn’t let anything come between them. But appearances lie, just as people do. But, unfortunately, a man caught up in the whims and currents of love does not see the lie creeping around right under his nose. In her saddened words, in her citrus scent, and the way she tapped glass bottles so they sounded like a symphony. So I was forced to watch in silence as this man went about his day and Lydia went about hers, a walking contradiction to all he thought of.

The months passed, and the charade was kept up. The man began to shop in a variety of lavish stores, all the while examining diamond jewelry for his beloved. All the while, Lydia sat at her vanity, her face remade and her lies becoming as foolproof as they could possibly be. And all the while, I watched, wondering how stupid this man could be, because he could not see the things in front of his eyes. It was like he had a blindspot when it came to her, and no matter how late it was when she got home and no matter how many times she reapplied that lemon perfume in an hour as though it would cover her tracks. Where this story ends now is quick and abrupt. The young man walked up to Lydia. He spoke to her softly and he asked her to dinner at her favorite place where they serve her favorite dessert. She gladly accepted. While he waited for her, Lydia stared into the mirror and dried her tears. I knew at that moment that she knew what was about to happen and she was dreading it as much as I was. But, still, they go to dinner in the man’s small black car that he just cleaned out for her. When they arrived at the restaurant, she blushed when he told her that he reserved her favorite spot for them. The waitress smiled at the couple and wondered if she would ever have that. I prayed that she would not. She was a good soul, and good souls do not deserve such pain. They deserve the ordinary. The young man waited until dessert. Then he dropped to one knee and begged Lydia to be his forever. She looked stunned. She was quiet for a moment. Then she uttered a denial of his request. She would not. For, a long five years ago, she had sworn to be someone else’s forever. She was someone else’s forever. An average someone who wed an extraordinary woman. An extraordinary man and an extraordinary woman. But the man became furious, and knocked the champagne to the ground. The gold drink spilled over the carpet, making little bubbles that frothed for a moment and then disappeared. He swore as he stormed away and Lydia cried. She cried until her eyes burned and then she left the restaurant and went home to her husband. She slept in his bed and in the morning she did not return to the young man’s house. And the bubbles finally popped. Lydia and her lover’s story ends there. Both heartbroken. And so Lydia would live an average life, I must assume. Someone extraordinary with someone average loses their allure after so long with the ordinary type of people. So the champagne will be poured among the ordinary for celebrations and their loving occasions. And it will be spilled and shattered for the extraordinary. Because, for the champagne’s stories, it will always be the extraordinary who capture its cold and twisted heart.

Electric Wind Will Baker

He heard through his brain the electric winds of an empty universe. Mr. Morgan was a thin man. This was his habit, of course. Gone were the days of the great bloated rubbery robber barons endemic to the Gilded Age - the modern titans were as sleek and efficient as the machines they produced, and Mr. Morgan’s Machines were the very best. Everything about him suggested a constant effort towards the conservation of energy. His very steps seemed to have been measured with a ruler to best ensure the most efficient collaboration between distance and physical exertion. He ate sparingly, or not at all. His rivals (of which there were at once very many and very few) whispered that he was in the midst of inventing a pill to replace altogether the necessity of eating. Mr. Morgan was inventing nothing of the kind. As a matter of fact, he had stopped inventing long ago - though, of course, the public knew nothing of it. Not a day went by without crowds of people gathering around one of Morgan’s factories (there was one in almost every city in the country) and attempting to garner a glimpse at what marvels the great man had in store for them. Mr. Morgan paid no heed to them. Any person with one of his Triple M’s wouldn’t be out in the street, clamoring for handouts. His shareholders had demanded that the machine prevent customers from doing anything of the kind. A company was the father of its customers, or so the advertisements said, and that meant taking a firm hand in guiding those who flocked to its banner. That was no longer Mr. Morgan’s concern, of course. He’d practically automated the entire company years ago - with his technology, why have human workers at all? Originality got you nowhere in business these days. No, what Mr. Morgan concerned himself with these days had little to do with innovation, and only the barest connection to the company at all. People called him eccentric if they were trying to stay on his good side (which was wise), and called him insane if they weren’t (which was the furthest thing from wise). He locked himself in his great vault of an office for days on end, only emerging at random - like a dragon issuing from within its lair. But who was to judge him? What fool would claim to know better than the great genius himself, the being of pure light who had led the human race out from darkness with the luminosity of his own intelligence?

*** The great genius in question was currently dozing at his desk. Bathed in the harsh artificial light of his office, the man’s angular

Such was the ruined state of the man who had built the world. His name was spoken with nothing short of reverence in every household with a Triple M, and there he lay, seemingly half-dead. His eyelids flickered, revealing a glimpse of the milky eyes beneath. The sights those eyes had seen! After he’d built the Triple M, Mr. Morgan had traveled the world. A victory lap, the press had called it (in those days there was still press, but they were replaced by the Triple M before long, of course). And what a victory lap it was! Mr. Morgan had been from the heights of the Himalayas to the depths of the Mariana. He’d seen the Pyramids and the Colosseum and both Poles. And when he had at last returned, he had locked himself in his office, taking one thing with him: a single Triple M. Mr. Morgan’s slumped form now lay before this great metal monolith. It was, as all of the advertisements touted, “designed with efficiency first in mind.” Every Triple M was sleek, easily handled, and created from completely interchangeable parts. The only bit of ornament allowed to the august contraption were the words printed boldly on its front: Mr. Morgan’s Machine. This was then followed by a serial number; in the case of the machine in Mr. Morgan’s office, the serial number happened to be a triple 6 (the irony of which was not lost on its creator). Mr. Morgan’s eyelids fluttered again, then slowly crept open. A tiny sigh escaped his cold lips, and he raised his head from where it had been lying. Blinking, he stood from his desk and began to pace the room - slowly. Everything he did now, he did slowly. Finally, his pacing came to an abrupt halt. He moved to face his machine. Then (ever so slowly) in a whispery voice, he said “Play program Prometheus, please.” This was the one quirk of the Triple M, though really it was a quirk of the creator; Mr. Morgan abhorred rudeness. When addressing a machine, he’d argued, one should address it politely. Above all else, we must never forget our humanity. A rueful smile touched Mr. Morgan’s lips. Predictably, the public had loved it. Children across the globe were saying their pleases and thank yous quicker than ever before - the better to use their shiny new Triple M. The machine in front of Mr. Morgan hummed to life. There were a few moments of crackly static - an intentional feature, designed to evoke the nostalgia of a record player - before the sound settled, becoming perfectly crisp and clear.

face looked even more skull-like than usual. He seemed to have been bleached of all color. His pale face was framed by long, pale hair. Colorless veins threaded their way through his papery hands, then traced their way into his pale neck. His heart was made of glass.

“I took fire from the gods, sir, and gave it to man,” the machine intoned, “What makes you any different?” “I monetized it,” Mr. Morgan responded, frowning, “Hardly a challenge. Next, please.”

The machine shuddered for a moment. Then it spoke again. “One may always escape physical bonds, Mr. Morgan, but the true danger lies in bonds placed on the spirit.” “Houdini,” Mr. Morgan muttered, a light beginning to appear behind his pale eyes, “Very good, very good. Still, platitudes do not a good conversationalist make. Yes, there are undeniably chains on my spirit, but I have placed them there myself - and lo! I can escape them without even a twist of my fingers.” “That would be a marvelous trick indeed,” the machine responded. “Sarcasm does not suit you, sir,” Mr. Morgan said, “Do not attempt to lecture me. I am not so blind to the world as to miss the predicament I am placed in. I asked for a conversationalist, please!”

“Curious,” he murmured. He pondered the machine for a moment. “Is my machine perfect?” he asked. “No,” said the voice emanating from the machine. Mr. Morgan sighed. “Next, please.” Before the machine had time to speak another word, he asked “Is my machine perfect?” “Yes,” this voice said. “Next, please,” Mr. Morgan called. The machine hummed again. “Is my machine perfect?”

The machine whirred.

“Yes.” “No.” “Yes.” “No.” “Yes.”

“There is a certain music to life-” it began, but Mr. Morgan cut it off, a bit of color in his face now.

And on and on it went. Finally, Mr. Morgan raised his hands, gesturing that the machine must stop. It went quiet.

“These persons were exceptional in their fields, yes, but that doesn’t mean those fields occupied every facet of their life! Please, restrain yourself from any more fragile metaphors.”

The light had faded from his eyes now, and to even keep his hands raised seemed an effort. They fluttered limply down to his side. He gazed at the machine.

The machine processed that for a moment, then it spoke once more, its voice now altered by the tones of a French accent. “Is there not more to discover?”

“Never a consensus,” he said, “Perhaps this truly is a perfect recreation. Since when have the greatest minds in history ever agreed on anything?”

Mr. Morgan smiled a moment, amused. “Madame Curie. No, there is not - I have reached the pinnacle of discovery.”

The question reverberated in the silent room. Mr. Morgan listened, as though expecting an answer, and when none came, the last of the strength went from his posture. He shook his head - one last act of defiance.

The machine stuttered, then fell silent. Mr. Morgan stared at its cold form in disbelief, the set to pacing once more, speaking to himself. A fire was in his eyes now, and his words came thick and fast. “The greatest minds in history, and they can do nothing against me. My machine is imperfect, that is the truth.” - he whirled in his tracks, began to pace in the other direction - “Unless it is perfect. I have achieved perfection, have I not? Which can only mean-” he whirled to face the other direction - “that in all of human history, there was not one person who could make intelligent conversation.” He sighed, and suddenly the years seemed to come crashing back down on him, and he sank into his chair. He sat with his head in his hands for some time. Finally, without looking up, he made another request. “Play program Prometheus, please.” The machine clattered to life. “I took fire from the gods, sir-” it started, but Mr. Morgan had already waved it away. “We’ve already had this one, thank you very much. On to the next, please.” “I stand ready to listen,” the machine said. Mr. Morgan raised his head from his hands.

“Perfect, imperfect…” he mumbled, his eyelids growing heavy, “It matters not. The machine is finished.”

*** Beloved inventor and longtime CEO of Mr. Morgan’s Machines, Mr. Henry Morgan was found dead in his office at half past two in the morning yesterday. The “Father of Infinite Intelligence” died quietly in his sleep, working until the very last hour of his life. But not to worry! The inventor’s legacy lives on in his luxurious Triple Ms - now in the newest model! Buy one now as part of our special “Funeral Sale”, or purchase “The Last Upgrade” in honor of the man who dedicated his life to the world! This Message Delivered via the Triple M network service, a subsidiary company of Mr. Morgan’s Machines.

Room 415 Celia Thome

My clammy hands gripped the outside of my quivering thighs, always too large for comfort in my tight leggings, rubbing together as I shuffled my feet on the carpet of the classroom floor, the dark, sickening patterns threatening to wrap around my legs and pull me into an abyss. The sun was abnormally blinding through the thin shades, blurring the rims of my already tunneled vision so that I could only see a rough outline of Luke, in all his glory. His hair had grown out longer than my parents would ever let my brother, and it poured down his freckled neck in a choppy fashion, as if someone had slashed a sharp knife through an innocent waterfall, the sun glimmering off the edges of its golden streaks, decorating the thick light brown pond I imagined running my fingers through so many times. I stared down at my feet as I made my way to him, a small sweat spot developing on the top of my worn converse, where my laces went down into the shoe, pressing against my foot, swollen in the stuffy, hot air of room 415. I squeezed my stomach in an attempt to settle the churning, my throat so wanted to end, my mouth dry and tasteless, despite the gum being strangled by my back molars, melting against my tongue. You’ve done this before, you’ve done this before. I pressed the thought to the forefront of my brain, willing myself to look up at Luke’s dark brown eyes, waiting by the

“Look, I um-I know you said no last time, but I just don’t see why, really. I just-” my words made everything worse, but now they were out there, tears threatening in my eyes to join. “Lyla, I'm sorry.” he said and turned to walk out the door, without me. “Wait, Luke, no-I’m sorry. You know how I feel about you.” “We’ve been through this-” “I don't understand- at least tell me why I’m not good enough for you.” I tried to stand taller, only making myself look pathetic beneath his towering figure. “Lyla! No, that's not it. You’re my…homie,” he stuttered, his eyebrows furring with an apology. Ouch. “And…” I pressed. “Look, you're too- too you, okay?” he breathed. “Too me? What does that mean?”

doorway for me to walk with him to my next class. “You’re too talented.” “Hey Luke?” My words came out more worried than intended, and I dug my long nails into my leg as punishment, not even able to feel it. “Yeah?” he said, no bother in his expression, only pure chill riding down his long body to the ground, woefully stopping before it could reach me. Luke was too popular for me, and, going into high school, I thought he might bring me along in his football-cheerleader world, but here I was, kneeling in the dust, begging for a glimmer of sun off those lovely locks that could bring our childhood friendship a little deeper into my teenage fantasies. “Do you wanna hang out this weekend?” The breath I let out after the words was shaky and too audible for comfort, forcing me to take a step back, as if it would make him out of ear shot. He paused for a long time, some expression of awkwardness and hurt on his soft, bottom lip. Crap.

I was suddenly too aware of my body, and I had no idea what to do with all my limbs. “You’re too smart,” he looked me dead in the eyes, “You’re too funny, and kind, and whatever else, you’re you!” “Ok,” I stared at him, “So, like, that’s not a reason.” “I’m gonna ruin you,” he stared down at his feet, and I moved one of mine behind the other, hoping he would not see the sweat stains. “What does that mean?” My wavering voice rose higher above what I intended, scaring me so that my next words were almost undetectable, “We’re just going to go see a movie or something, it’s really not that deep.” “But, you want more than that, right? It’s obvious. I just can’t do that okay?” He scanned over my body, but his eyes were somewhere else, not seeing what his pupil’s traced.

The sun’s glare was now hidden behind a low hanging oak tree in the quad, each branch surrounded by a white light, seeping into each divot in the bark, the thinnest ones, almost incandescent. The room had lost the blinding light, flickering over each dest, but the warm air beat against the closed window, trapping us all in a tunnel of a sunless fever. I brought my arms close to my ribs, knowing that my snug long sleeve was not forgiving under heated circumstances. “You’re talented too, you know,” I said in a voice as if I was approaching a large beast, alone in the woods, not sure how to get out of the situation. He ignored my words, and looked directly into my blue eyes, his now completely in the moment. “Do you remember Sadie Miller?” he asked, the name coming out slower than the rest of his words. “Um,” I thought hard, not understanding what she had to do with anything, “Oh, yeah! Oh. Yeah, she was in my biology class last year, before…” The tone in his voice switched, from stern to weak as he spoke, “She was my first real girlfriend.” “Oh. I didn’t know you guys dated.” “This was the place she told me she loved me. Room 415.” I didn’t say a word, only keeping my eyes on him, as he left the room once again. “Do you remember what sport she did?” he asked. “No,” I looked around my biology classroom from last year, the vision foggy, “Oh wait, yeah, she was a sailor right? She was really good, and they always made announcements about her, because she made it to state in her, like, freshman year.” “Yeah. She didn’t ever need me, she was incredible on her own, but I made the mistake of asking her out. She dated me for most of the year, but I only got to date the real her for a couple of months.” I tilted my head. “I was a lot more popular than she was, and she became accustomed to my friends and sort of left hers in the dust.” Like he did to me. “She started dressing differently, showing more skin, she tried to impress me by having so many friends, a lot of them not the right people. She acted so differently. A tear slid down my face, my cheeks hot and red. “Then, she quit sailing.” He paused, not sure how to keep talking. “She complained that it wasn’t a cool sport like cheerleading or soccer, and she didn’t have enough time with her social life. But that was it for me. I couldn't let her ruin her passion, so I broke up with her.”

“She threw things at me, then ran out of the room, ditching school. She didn't come back after that. I guess she had had enough. I cried at this window for the rest of the day, and at 2:43, I remember the bell ringing for 6th period, I looked up through the glass at that bridge way down by the water,” he pointed with a shaky hand in the distance, bumping the glass and pulling his finger away from the heat. I couldn’t breathe. “I could recognize her figure, her poofy hair, her hips. I saw them all rip away from my grasp.” His voice cracked, like a whip. “I didn’t come to school for a month.” “Oh my gosh. I didn't know.” Saliva caught in my throat and the room became dizzy. “I can’t ruin you like I didn’t to her.” “No, Luke, it wasn’t your fault.” I shook my head rapidly. “No, it was.” “Luke- wait, wait,” I reached for my backpack, digging through the deep pockets, before I pulled out a small homemade bracelet, with a white string, and beads, “She dropped this, on that day, and-I was going to give it back to her, but she-she didn’t come back. I guess I forgot about it.” He took the bracelet, laying it in the palm of his hand before clutching it so hard, his knuckles turned a sickly white color. “Thank you, but I don’t think I should have this.” For the first time since class ended, I smiled up at him. … The frothy water lapped at the sand, pressed into my toes, bringing each grain, one by one, back to the ocean. The sun slowly retreated away from the boats gliding through the still, glassy sea, as if nothing held them back, words, people, actions, pushing them forward, with a slight smile in the breaking of each wave and ripple. Luke pulled out a pair of thin, blue scissors, brought them to his lips, and pressed a long kiss to the center joint, where everything connected. He looked at me and I pulled the bracelet out from my jacket pocket, holding it above the water with two fingers, watching the beads slide down the bottom, gravity pulling them closer to the water, where she lives. He took the scissors, pressing the blade to the top of the bracelet, where only string was shown, taking a deep breath before closing them, and letting the beads fall one after the other, off the swinging string, blowing in the soft breeze, into the light air. Luke took my hand as we watched, the beads falling from the wind into the ocean, backlit by the brilliant glow of the setting sun, four red, one green, and five blue, just like was painted above the door of room 415.

Marble Nymph Illia Prodzora

Smoke rises as the sun sets, the only light sources consisting of a moon, fireflies, and a campfire. Four decrepit men sit around the fire, each leaning against their designated caravans. One is filled with booze, the second with corn, the third rattling with tools, and the fourth drenched in screams. “Silence, you cow-handed wretches,” the fourth shouts at his caravan. Previous screams convert to silent wimpers. “Save those voices, nymphs. The master will be delighted with you once we arrive”, the second creepily whispers to the caravan as he slithers across to the fourth. The men all laugh together as they take another swig of booze. The night progresses slowly, and, one by one, the men doze off. “Hehehehehe … you're a bad man… hehehehe,”a slight voice whispers. The fourth man is startled awake as a bright light keeps pacing his head. “YOU DAMNED FOREST SPRITE!” he shouts while standing up. “HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE!” The laughter grows stronger as the light begins to escape. The fourth chases with zero recollection of his previous colleagues that now happen to be nowhere in sight. Both play a game of cat and mouse around the caravans with the man always getting close but never in reach. “You’re a bad man, aren’t you?” the child-like voice asks as it keeps on evading. The now angered man gives no response as he increases his speed. With a swift grab the man finally catches the light. “You dreaded creature,” he squeezes it within his hand before harshly tossing it to the floor. The man stomps over and over. “This is what happens once you mess with someone of my stature,” the man boasts of his accomplishment. The last bit of light fades.Now everything is drenched in darkness. Nothing but silence is present. The man, now back to his mind, begins to panic as he shouts and yells with no acoustics present through the whole realm. “Hmhmhmhmhm,”a gentle, elegant voice giggles. The fourth man wakes with a gasp followed by one more scream.

“AAAAAAAAAA!” His eyes, now wide open, shoot around the campground. A slight glimmer of the still-burning fire lights the bare minimum. On his chest sits a woman with a coat and a pipe still giggling beneath her breath. The man is stunned, his only reaction is to stand up. “Get off,” he shouts at the woman. Full of anger, he stands, reaching for the closest sharpest object around as he threateningly points it at the woman. With one more giggle, she takes a puff of her pipe blowing it into his face. “Run,” she whispers. Previous bitterness of the men now turns into fear as he looks around the camp to see the open caravan cages filled up with nothing but stones where his previous compatriots used to lie. Taking a straight shot, he dashes for the hills, dropping his previous weapon as he whimpers. She takes one more puff of her pipe, throwing it into the air as it spins majestically. Her eyes glow with a purple hue, and she releases red smoke from her gaping mouth. It rushes towards the man, passing him within a second. All that can be heard is a continuous laughter that is neither maniacal nor angelic. “For someone with such a heart, your soul still is still empty, as hard as rock.” The man begins to slow. He wants to run, but his legs stop moving, with a sharp glance from his toes to his torso he has begun to transfigure. His flesh, bone, and blood all ossified into white marble. He shouts, but the wind pipes have already gone hard. The pipe falls from the air. She delicately catches in her delicate arms. The forest is silent. All that is vocalized are each of her steps. Without a word she stands before the marble statue impressing it delicately within her arms giving one last gentle kiss, her lips leaving a bright red stain. “Hmhmhm.” Taking one last puff, she raises her pipe, driving it right through the head and shattering the marble into infinite pieces. Releasing her smoke within seconds, it vanishes to the setting moon.

Birds that Mate for Life Anna Wang

Explore the many bird species that honor the phrase, “till death do us part” The geese in front of me were unbothered by my presence, plucking grass out in pairs and quacking before they flew away. Canada geese migrate to San Diego in the winter, and are among the many bird species that mate for life. The evolution of monogamy in birds is not only interesting, but also very cute. This Valentine’s season, learn about the many instances of love prevailing in nature. It is first important to note that, while Stanford lists the percent of monogamous bird species as 90%, this statistic is not exclusive to birds that mate for life. Most birds do not mate for life, rather, they may stay with a single mate for one or two breeding seasons, but will find another one in the coming years. Yet, there are plenty of species that do stay with their one and only, and these are a few of them: America’s very own bald eagle is a species known for staying loyal. These patriotic birds spend years building a nest or two with their partner. Every year, for up to 35 years, they return to the same nests to raise 1-3 eggs. Sometimes these nests can weigh over 2 tons and will entirely engulf the tree they are in. Bald eagles, like many other birds, participate in elaborate courting rituals. Two eagles will freefall together in a dive referred to as the cartwheel courtship dance. They will lock talons high in the sky and plummet towards the ground, only releasing before hitting the earth. Albatrosses. The wandering albatross has the largest wingspan of any bird, reaching up to 11 feet across! Shaq’s wingspan, a whopping 7’7”, is measly compared to these birds. These seabirds spend the first five to six years of their life in the air, not once touching the ground (and sleeping while gliding to do it). In each journey around the Southern Ocean albatrosses cover more than 10,000 miles. They nest in New Zealand, and mate for life. With a lifespan of up to 50 years, albatrosses have plenty of time to practice courting dances, which help them bond. Although there are some wandering albatrosses that “divorce” their partner (only about 13% of these birds separate with their partners, compared to America’s 50% divorce rate), a majority of them stay faithful. Many species of parrots are monogamous for life. The scarlet macaw, native to tropical rainforests in Central and Southern America, is not only the largest parrot species at 33 inches from tip to tail, but also known for their vibrant colors. Habitat destruction and poaching are the cause for a decline in population. Scarlet macaws are often kept as pets, and can live to be 75 in captivity (in the wild, they often live to be 40 or 50). Interestingly, scarlet macaws were sacred to the ancient Mayans and their mythology. Scarlet macaws are very social and intelligent, gathering into flocks of 10 to 20 birds each. They are monogamous and are often seen preening or playing with their significant other.

Clockwise, starting from top left: bald eagles in cartwheel courtship dance, bald eagle nest; scarlet macaws preening each other, scarlet macaws flying; wandering albatross gliding, wandering albatross courtship dance; Canada geese with chicks

The bald eagle is an example of a conservation success. In the 60’s, there were only 417 breeding pairs nationwide, and since then, efforts in repopulating have paid off: bald eagles, since 2007, have no longer been considered endangered, or even threatened. Sadly, many albatross species, like the wandering albatross, are classified as vulnerable, and 30% of all parrot species are endangered, including a majority of macaws. Birds matter, and nature matters. The conservation of these birds, and the habitats they live in, is something we all play a part in and should all care about.

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