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A Season of Gift-Giving

December 20, 2011

Baseball field fixed By Brandon Fuhs Staff Writer The MSJ baseball field has received a makeover this past fall, mainly due to the multiple safety hazards that endangered infielders. The torn up, weed-infested infield that turned into a swamp on rainy days has been redone thanks to the hard work of many parents and the varsity head coach Steven Griggs. At the beginning of the school year, Coach Griggs worked with an active group of baseball parents to create a proposal to present to Mission Possible and MSJ Boosters, requesting financial help for redoing the infield. Mission Possible granted the baseball team $10,000 and MSJ Boosters gave another $2,000. Griggs commented about the necessity of a new field, “Extended use, improper irrigation, wrong maintenance practices had all contributed to the failure of the infield turf area, making it unsafe.” The renovation of the field began with the removal of the old infield grass, followed by filling in the grass area with 24 tons of topsoil, seven thousand square feet of sod, and sprinkler repairs. Eighteen tons of PacBell infield mix were laid down across the infield dirt and leveled out as well. The rebuilding of the mound and the batter’s box is planned this coming month. Even before the proposals were made and the infield was replaced, there were dozens of players and parents that helped, and they continue to help improve the field and its facilities. Lucky Ott, father of sophomore Wyatt Ott, supervises the projects on the field. He facilitates meetings to work on the field and creates schedules to have certain projects completed. So far, the parents and players have removed many large rocks from the home dugout area and a batting cage, restrung and hung up a net for the batting

photos and layout by graphics editor angie wang

Egypt’s renewal: first elections By Nihar Parikh Staff Writer Ten months have passed since the spectacular Egyptian uprising that led to the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, ending his 30 years of autocratic rule, but the future of the revolution is still anything but clear. The uprising that sparked much of the Arab Spring is now shrouded in confusion as thousands again took to the streets of Cairo’sTahrir Square.Their goals and motives spanned a multitude of issues that reflect the current state of affairs in the country. The fate of the new Egyptian government is up for grabs as different groups try to secure their position. Supported initially by the

masses, the military and its civilian council have been the interim rulers since Mubarak’s fall, but their push to maintain power as the country yearns for democracy has many wondering if they had switched one military regime for another. Also, young, secular students, the root of the February revolution, are feeling “robbed” of their cause as early elections are showing huge wins for traditional Islamist groups. The military council was embraced by the Egyptian republic as it was the primary force that drove Mubarak from power, but it has gathered significant opposition because it seems reluctant to give up its newfound power. Early in November, the council declared that it (and not yet-to-be-elected Parlia-

December 21 Minimum Day

ment) had the right to elect the prime minister, and even went so far as to nominate the prime minister during Mubarak’s rule as the new head of cabinet. Most protesters rejected the nomination and insisted that not only does the council not have that authority but also the council clearly doesn’t understand that Egyptians want nothing to do with the old regime. This was reinforced when the generals authorized violence against the protesters, which seemed a bit too similar to the police brutality of Mubarak’s administration. The military eventually conceded to many of the protesters’ demands and promised to transfer power to the democratically elected

Baseball players and parents all pitch in to renovate the baseball field.

See EGYPT, NEWS Page 3

See FIELD, NEWS Page 3

December 22-January 4 Winter Break

January 5 Return from Winter Break

staff writer brandon fuhs

January 16 Martin Luther King Day (No classes)

2 News

The Smoke Signal

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

News in Brief Italian Cat inherits $13 Million On December 12, 2011, Tommaso the Italian cat inherited $13 million from his deceased owner, Maria Assunta, in her will. The cat’s money will be placed in a trust fund with the 94 year-old woman’s nurse, Stefania. Assunta had no living relatives, but “she looked after her cat more than you’d look after a son,” according to Stefania. Stefania is now fully responsible for the caretaking of Tommaso, as she promised Assunta before she died. Tommaso is now the fourth wealthiest pet in the world, trailing Gunther the German Shepherd by well over $100 million.

Tommaso is now the fourth wealthiest pet in the world, after inheriting $13 million.

Santa Claus Convention On Saturday, December 10, flurries of people donned in red suits and hats descended upon New York’s Grand Central Station to take part in the annual Santa Convention. The creators of the event have proclaimed that it is a “non-political and non-sensical Santa Claus Convention that happens once a year for absolutely no reason.” Thousands of variations could be seen as people took creative approaches to the traditional Santa costume, with people dressed as SlimSanta and BatSanta. The celebration also took place in other cities around the world, including London and San Francisco.


Santa Claus Convention participants gather at Battery Park in New York City.

Operation Toy Drive in Bay Area Operation Toy Drive, an event that started 14 years ago in North Carolina, came to the Bay Area for the first time. The toy drive was organized by a nonprofit charity that collected $500,000 worth of gifts from various companies and presented the presents to military families living in the Bay Area. Because of the growing gap between military and civilian families, Operation Toy Drive hopes to reach out to the people who serve the country. Army spokesman Lt. Ray Ragan said, “In this time of economic distress, families all over the country have been hit hard and are stretched to their limits. This is especially true for the families of servicemen and women in the Bay Area.”

photos from archives, layout by news editor allan ko

for the nov. 17, 2011 issue Feature page 7:

• Kenny Jacoby took pictures.

• Freshman Jordan Terbeek was in the picture for running shoes.


Children line up at the first-ever Bay Area Operation Toy Drive.


Tuesday, December 20 2011

The Smoke Signal

News 3

MSJ charity drives: results EGYPT | Egypt: A work in progress continued from page 1 Parliament as soon as possible. Voting commenced in late November but the results surprised the world and many Egyptian leaders, which led to the second issue. Two Islamists parties, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and Salafis’ Nour Party, captured a clear majority with over fifty percent of the vote. This marks a key change in the movement that began with extremely secular, purely democratic ideals embodied by the nation’s youth. These citizens now are concerned that the revolution will mimic the 1979 Iran rebellion that replaced the monarchial Shah with an ultraconservative Islamist party. At the moment, the Muslim Brotherhood promises to be moderate, but the Sulafis’ extremist party poses a real threat to the current separation of church and state. This issue will especially come into play in the next few months when the new Parliament drafts the

constitution for the country. Egyptians are unsure if these groups will vehemently push Shariah, Islamic law, which could limit the rights of women and push religious mandates like fasting during Ramadan. The next few months pose challenges for the fledgling government. The world is looking on as Egypt rebuilds, wondering what type of government will rise from the ashes. Hopefully, Egyptians will be able to resolve their issues with military rule and Islamist control and restore stability to the nation.


Voters line up to enter a Cairo polling station.

BASEBALL | Field gets a makeover continued from page 1 cage, and cut tarps to cover the bullpen mounds and plate area. Ott also built a storage pit for excess infield dirt, rebuilt a door for the mower container, and built stairs for the storage container. He has many projects scheduled to be finished before tryouts begin on February 6 that include fixing the scoreboard, repainting the dugouts, and putting up the net for the second batting cage. “I just want to make sure this talented group of ballplayers, have a field that is safe and playable,” Ott said. “I’ve learned it’s more effective to do what needs to be done than it is to complain about the problem.” Ott has donated over one hun-

dred hours of his time to the program, and his services have made a huge difference to the field. In addition to Ott, Neelima Vinnakota, mother of sophomore Eswar Vinnakota, has put in over a dozen hours selling advertising banners to hang on the outfield fence. Contributions by parents, players, coaches and clubs have rejuvenated the baseball field. As of the last work day, all of the other players and parents have worked a total of 110 hours on the field. The program continues to have work days to make progress on the field, and the team has more fundraising plans for the future. Coach Griggs, alongside Ott and other diligent parents and players are improving the field,and the school. ▪

Canned Food Drive The annual Canned Food Drive, organized by Leadership 2 (L2), collected canned foods from students’ third period classrooms and clubs during the month of November. A total of 6507 cans were collected and donated to Abode Services, a non-profit organization with the mission of ending homelessness. Of those cans, 4143 were collected from students’ third period classes, of which Math Teacher Evangeline Sugden’s Honors Precalculus class, Social Studies Teacher Risha Krishna’s World History class, and Health Teacher Cate Ruebling’s class donated the largest quantities of cans. Sugden’s class was awarded a pizza party for donating 746 cans. Krishna and Ruebling’s classes, which donated 639 and 541 cans respectively, were each awarded donut parties. Sugden was given a $20 Office Max gift card, Krishna was given a $20 Starbucks gift card, and Ruebling was given a $15 Jamba Juice gift card. The remaining cans were collected from MSJ’s 72 clubs. The clubs, excluding service clubs, donated a total of 866 cans, on average exceeding the 10-can quota. MSJs’ service clubs (Interact, Leo Club and Key Club) organized their own InterKeyLeo can collection during which they collected distributed fliers advertising the collection to neighborhoods in the MSJ attendance area, excluding Gomes, on November 11 and then collected cans from those neighborhoods on November 20. They contributed a total of 1498 cans to the drive. L2 Charity Committee Co-head Senior Laura Conn said, ”At first it was going really [slowly] and I thought we weren’t going to be close to our goal, but as we did the second collection with the clubs, we got many more donations, so it really turned out well.”

One Dollar for Life The annual One Dollar for Life (ODFL) drive, organized by Peer Resource, is a branch of the national ODFL organization. The organization asks for one-dollar donations from high school students across the nation, and then works through nongovernmental organizations to provide aid to impoverished communities in developing countries. MSJ students were asked to donate a dollar each in their history classes. The donations totaled $1446.59. Peer Resource Advisor Jamie Richards said, “That’s great, but it still means 700 some people didn’t donate, which is sad because who can’t come up with a dollar?” The money raised will go through an organization called Seeds of Learning and will probably be used to purchase a cement mixer for the construction of a school in Nicaragua. Students will be able to volunteer later in the year to help construct schools at a designated site during the summer. Last year, Senior Candice Tandiono and Peer Resource Advisor Jamie Richards helped build a school in Nicaragua. Unicef The annual Unicef drive, hosted by Key Club, collected money by distributing orange Trick-or-Treat for Unicef boxes to third period classes. Students were encouraged to donate spare change during the drive. The money goes to the Trick-or-Treat for Unicef organization that uses the funds to provide immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water, and sanitation to impoverished children around the world. MSJ students donated a total of $501.08. Key Club awarded Geography teacher Joshua Hunter’s third period class a donut party for raising $74.06, the most donations of any class. “It’s like a little act of kindness,” said Key Club President Junior Michelle Lee, “I’m really thankful that everyone donated.”

By Sherry Xiao Staff Writer

MSJ district crime rate higher than expected By Matt Farberov Staff Writer Many people believe that the MSJ district of Fremont may be one of the safest in the Bay Area. However, within the last year, daylight burglaries are becoming more and more frequent, leaving many citizens concerned. Statistics provided by n e i g h bo r h ood, a crime reporting website, indicate that Fremont is safer than the average California city. The site states that one’s chances of being a victim in Fremont are 1 in 353, compared to the statewide 1 in 197. One must also note, that MSJ’s murder rate is among the lowest in the nation (at 0.01 per 1,000). However, Despite the low violent crime rate, Fremont’s Property Crime Rate is much more alarming. For property crime, on the same scale of 1,000 citizens, Fremont is rated at 29.06, just below the national median of 32.1. The Smoke Signal spoke with Fremont Police Sergeant Hummel, the Supervisor for Crimes Against Persons. Sgt. Hummel

confirmed that there has been an increase in burglaries in the MSJ District. When asked whether MSJ residents are targeted because of their socioeconomic status, he said, “Absolutely. You aren’t going to go to East Palo Alto or East Oakland and break into a house there. You won’t find anything. You go where the money is.” Math Teacher Mehebub Karmali found out firsthand what it was like to

be a victim when his house was burglarized last December. “I’ve incurred extra cost to prevent this happening, and I had to go find ADT services and incur extended amounts of money on that,” said Karmali, “they took some jewelry; fortunately it was all fake since my wife had all her expensive jewelry in the bank. Probably the most expensive item was

a watch, which was worth approximately... $500.” When asked whether he thought he had been a target or burglarized at random, Karmali said, “I think I had been targeted because I’m Indian and many people know that Indians keep 24-karat jewelry in their house.” Sgt. Hummel confirmed that Asian and East Indian families are likely to be targeted. He said, “We found in the past there

porch, assume they are Asian, and go.” In most of these MSJ burglaries, gold has been the driving factor. Hummel said, “They see gold, take it, sell it to any number of “We Buy Gold” [places] in San Jose. It’s then melted down, and that’s it--there’s no trace of it. It’s easy to grab, dump, and get rid of.” According to, in the MSJ district, of 333 annually reported

were a lot of Asian victims. There is common knowledge that Asian families keep a lot of cash around and are weary of putting their money into financial institutions. So instead they try to hide it in closets, under beds, exactly where the burglars would look.” He also said, “These people drive around, look for nice houses, see a bunch of shoes on the

crimes, 288, or 86 percent, are property crimes that include theft and burglary. When asked who was committing these crimes, Hummel said, “We’ve arrested people who are neighbors of the victims, and we’ve arrested people who are transient to the area.” As the disturbing trend continues to rise, Sgt. Hummel recommends that homeowners be aware of their surroundings, consider stalling security systems, and invest in a safe. Hummel said, “These people don’t want to stay inside. Being in the house is their danger zone. They are in the house for two to five minutes, grabbing small stuff, and boom-gone. Buy a safe, and mount it to the ground. A few bolts will make the difference. They will take what they can, and leave.” ▪

4 News

The Smoke Signal

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

GOP Election Candidates Newt Gingrich Although he wasn’t popular at first due to the fact that he had been inactive in politics since 1999, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich surprised many as his polls surged high, and he stood neck to neck with Mitt Romney in a recent survey by CNN. After Gingrich stepped down from his position as speaker of the house and resigned from his post as representative from Georgia in 1999, Gingrich faded away from political life for some time. Gingrich is very well known for supporting President Reagan’s policy of ‘‘less government’’, thus leading to his explicit criticism of Ben Bernanke, the current chairman of the Federal Reserve. As the elections draw closer and closer, Newt Gingrich and his debating skills have only improved again and again on the floor. Gingrich has had an astonishing rise in the polls recently and seems to be very confident that he will win the Iowa Republican Presidential Primary. ▪

Mitt Romney Another veteran from the Presidential Elections of 2008, Mitt Romney currently leads the top of the polls. With his father a former governor of MA, Romney has had experience in politics since a young age. Romney at one point in his life was a successful businessman, and spent most of his time in the private sector as a co-founder of Bain Capital. Romney strongly believes that the private sector is what can get this country “up on its feet and running again.” Mitt Romney was the governor of MA from 2003-07, and he didn’t seek a second term but instead opted to run for president in the 2008 election. Although he lost the Republican nomination in 2008 to John McCain, Romney is giving it a second shot in the upcoming election. Romney’s healthcare bill in MA (dubbed Romney-care) has given him much trouble throughout his campaign because it resembles in many ways President Obama’s current healthcare bill. ▪

By Vipin Dulam Staff Writer Ron Paul After his unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2008, Ron Paul stands up on stage once again in this 2012 presidential run. Paul ran for president as a member of the Libertarian party back in 1988. However, he switched to the Republican Party due to heavy criticism from the Libertarian party for his strong antiabortion beliefs. Unlike most of the other candidates, Paul spoke out that the US’s own actions in the world were the main cause for the 9/11 attacks. He was also one of the few republicans who voted against the USA Patriot Act and the Iraq War. Although this did outrage many candidates, like Rick Santorum and former Mayor of New York Rudy Guliani, Paul has stuck to this view time and time again. He famously stated in his 2008 election campaign, ‘‘We have allowed our nation to be overtaxed and over-regulated and over-run by bureaucrats for too long; our founding fathers would be ashamed of us for what we’re putting up with.” ▪

Michelle Bachmann Although her campaign started out with a strong number of supporters, Michelle Bachmann’s poll numbers have dwindled down to single digits as of late (in the low 7 percent according to a recent poll by CNN). Bachmann has voiced her opinion that there was a relation between democratic presidents and swine flu outbreaks, and although it is normal that the republican candidates would want to slander the democratic president, Michelle Bachmann is the most outspoken out of all of them and says that Obama’s healthcare is what dragged down the economy. However, the Republican hopeful is still popular among many conservatives. Her opposition to abortion and gay marriage has been steady throughout her political career and has attracted the right wing. Michelle Bachmann is a Representative of the sixth District of Minnesota, and currently is the only woman in the running for President. ▪

Rick Santorum Rick Santorum, a longtime champion for democracy and religious liberty is also another Republican nominee. As a former senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum is very well known for his views against “radical Islamists”. Santorum also served as the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. During his time in the senate, Santorum was very outspoken against homosexuality. During a debate hosted by CNN, Santorum attacked Ron Paul for a post that Paul had on his website the day of 9/11. The post underlined Paul’s belief that the attack was something America brought upon itself. Santorum, who was urged on by strong applause by the audience, strongly stated that this was a disgrace to the memory of those who died in the 9/11 attacks. Currently Santorum’s popularity in Iowa (where the next Republican Primary elections will take place) is at a low five percent according to CNN’s recent poll, but he continues to campaign and garner support from the right wing. ▪


Beware the dangers of Craigslist By Sonali Toppur Staff Writer Craigslist, an online market that hosts ads for a diverse group of sales and services, is once again under scrutiny for being instrumental in several Ohio killings. Brogan Rafferty, age 16, and his church mentor Rich Beasley, an Ohio chaplain with an extensive criminal record, are suspected in the murders of three men and the wounding of a fourth. Allegedly, the victims had responded to a Craigslist ad for a job on a cattle farm. One applicant was shot in the arm by Rafferty, but managed to escape. The bodies of the other victims were discovered buried behind a mall. Ohio policemen believe that the motive was robbery since the victims were told to bring all of their belongings with them, as the “job” would require them to live on the farm. Police have now discovered that the farm named in the ad does not exist. Being under 18, Rafferty cannot be charged with the death penalty. However, as he is charged for murder, he could face a lifetime in prison. Beasley, the suspected co-conspirator, is currently in jail on previous charges related to drugs and prostitution, but will be tried for both murder and attempted murder. Public records show that Beasley has been imprisoned for 15 of the past 30 years. This is not the first time Craigslist has been in the spotlight for its use in luring victims. In 2007, the first “Craigslist Killer” was identified when a theater graduate was killed after responding to an ad for a temporary nanny. This was followed up by other deaths, including the 2010 murder of a man in Tacoma, Washington by people who pretended to be interested in purchasing a ring. While Craigslist

can be a valuable resource to teens seeking employment and buying or selling merchandise, it is imperative to consider the inherent risks. Similar to social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, Craigslist is also flooded with online scammers and predators. Many parents have expressed concern over their teens using the site, as it was only last year that Craigslist removed its “adult services” section, and even then, many such ads still remain undetected. The website has been under fire multiple times and has a history of unconsciously providing a cover for underthe-radar child prostitution. The ads placed on Craigslist are not verified in any manner, so users must question their authenticity and legitimacy. Even a seemingly harmless post could potentially hold malicious intent, making the site unsafe for both children and adults. There are methods to making site usage less dangerous, such as using CraigGuard. According to site developer Jessica Brock, CraigGuard is a free site “which enables users to review their experiences with people they connect with through Craigslist.” While Brock’s site may not be able to prevent a murder, it at least has the capability of warning site users against buyers and sellers who regularly cheat their customers. The recent tragic events remind the public to employ basic Internet safety measures and to remember that while the Internet is a treasure trove of aid and information, it still remains a dangerous place. ▪

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Smoke Signal

Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 47, No. 4 | December 20, 2011

41717 Palm Ave. Fremont, CA 94539 (510) 657-3600 Editors-in-Chief Andrew Han, Diya Roy News Allan Ko, Mekala Neelakantan Opinion Anthony Chen, Courtney Tam Feature Sida Lu, Edward Nguyen Centerspread Frank Chen, Alice Zalan A&E Alekya Rajanala,

Maya Ramachandran

Sports Omar El-Sadany, Sanjna Shukla Graphics Angie Wang, Kevin Zhai Web Aishwarya Thakur, Jonathon Teng Tech Sai Chilakapati, Vipin Dulam Business Rachel Choi Circulation Connor Williams Ads Ditha Balaji, Jade Shi Events Nihar Parikh, Sherry Xiao Writers & Photographers Vishal Bajpai, Leland Bernstein, Jason Chen, Matt Farberov, Brandon Fuhs, Jaynelle Gao, Kevin He, Catherine Ho, Kenny Jacoby, Vivian Jair, Anjali Kanthilal, Avery Kruger, Vishak Menon, Jin Peng, Kyle Qian, Tanya Raja, Anusha Rijhsinghani, Hannah Shih, Sonali Toppur, Grace Wu, Kerrie Wu, Supriya Yelimeli, Anna Zeng, Lindy Zeng

Advisor Sandra Cohen Send letters to the editor to opinion@the Letters under 300 words may be considered for publication and must include a full name and school affiliation. The Smoke Signal reserves the right to edit for clarity and length.

To advertise in the Smoke Signal, e-mail Advertising that is included on the pages of, or carried within, the Smoke Signal, is paid advertising, and as such is independent of the news and feature content.

The Smoke Signal’s right to freedom of speech and press is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The Smoke Signal

of Courts! You=Santa Claus By Courtney Tam Opinion Editor Every young child knows the drill on Christmas Eve: prepare a beautiful array of sugar cookies (and subsequently sneak one into his or her pocket), pour a tall, chilled glass of milk, leave a note to Santa Claus, and then run off to bed and eagerly await the joys of ripping wrapping paper at the break of dawn. Then, the jollyfaced man who dominates the holidays will shimmy down the chimney, arms full of toys, and enjoy the scrumptious snack while arranging gifts in stockings and under the Christmas tree. Anxious to secure a spot on Santa’s coveted “Nice” list, these children endeavor to always be on their best behavior all three hundred sixty-five days a year to please the man from the North Pole. They share their toys with their friends, eat all their vegetables, and do their schoolwork like obedient children for fear of a lump of coal in their stockings on Christmas Day. The idea of Santa Claus bringing joy to everyone around the world is something that is instilled in children from their earliest years. Most children are extra good before judgment day, spurred on by the impending arrival of dear Santa Claus. After all, he’s impossible forget around this time of year. He’s everywhere during the holidays: on postal stamps, holiday cards, on Coca Cola cans. There’s even a Charles W. Howard Santa School in Midland, Michigan, whose mission statement is to “…uphold the

Opinion 5

anthology Mr. G & Mrs. C By Anthony Chen

traditions and preserve the history of Santa Claus.” Santa Claus seems to be a ubiquitous symbol of generosity, inspiring a multitude of kindness around the winter holidays: like the selfless acts of Reverend Maurice Chase (dubbed “Father Dollar Bill”) and Secret Santas to hand out 100 dollar bills in one of the poorest cities of America, Reading, Pennsylvania. But why wait until the winter holidays to be reminded to be generous by a jolly old man? Everyone is capable of emulating Old Saint Nicholas every day of their lives. So today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, be a Santa Claus. Look in the mirror and you’ll see a true Kris Kringle (though possibly missing snowy white beard, the red jumpsuit, and twelve reindeer with a sleigh). You don’t have to tote around hundreds of thousands of toys and deliver them to children around the world on Christmas Eve. Just do something philanthropic, no matter how small the deed. Volunteer at a shelter or donate clothes to help the homeless. If not, Oren Arnold once said, the best things to give are: “To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”Or just commit a random act of kindness, keeping the spirit of Santa Claus dream alive and well the whole year. ▪ Send letters to the editor to

Opinion Editor My first experience with marriage counseling was with two very wellknown people: Mr. Government and Mrs. Citizen. When they walked into my office they were barely on speaking terms. It was time to get to the bottom of the problem. “So, Mr. Government and Mrs. Citizen, what is it that brought you two here?” I put on my poker face. “I’ve completely lost trust in him,” she snapped. “It’s absolutely ridiculous. The fool is abusive, paranoid, and heavily in debt. I can’t even sway him anymore. I’ll have you know, he’s been accepting quite a chunk of money from some very powerful people. Mhm. It’s driving his bad habits.” Overall, this looked like a typical case. The husband gave off a strange vibe though. He was a massive man, and his shifty eyes kept darting towards the window. That’s when I noticed – there was a sea of black suits and navy and camouflage uniforms filling up the parking lot, street, and skyscraper on the other side of the road. Thousands upon thousands. I gaped. Mr. Government grinned. It was a very wolfish grin. He casually lifted his arm and the mass of people saluted him. “Don’t mind them. Just my lawyers and security guards, you know? The usual,” he remarked. Mrs. Citizen looked less than pleased. In fact, she looked scared. “Sam, why did you tell them to spy on me? Why are they wiretapping my phone calls and reading my email?” “Just to keep you in line, my dear,” he replied. “Infidelity is a huge problem. I think morals are declining in this day and age.” “Morals? MORALS?! My sister

can’t pay her hospital bill, and here you are taking money from me and your rich friends and giving it to your personal army and your gambling friends! I even heard you’ve been doing some insider trading! Don’t you dare talk to me about morals, you heartless savage.” “You and your sister didn’t work hard enough. And about my finances? They’re all perfectly legal. So there!” Confetti began to rain down upon the horde standing outside. They began jumping and grabbing. I looked closer. It wasn’t confetti. It was raining money. “Mr. Government, are you really sure you can afford that?” I asked. “Oh, don’t you worry about it buddy. My friend Mr. China has deep pockets.” He held up a stack of bonds, fresh off the printing press. “You owe $15 trillion, dear,” Mrs. Citizen said wearily. “Refusing to pay for our childrens’ education won’t help that. Sometimes I think about running off with Mr. E.U. to a foreign country. At least he can take care of my sister.” “Don’t make me set my goons on you!” “I’ve already been pepper-sprayed and beaten! What more do you intend to do?!” “Keep bothering me and, under the new National Defense Authorization Act, I’ll lock you up forever for no reason.” At this point I’d had enough. Mr. Government had some serious issues. I referred the couple to psychiatrists, who prescribed Mr. Government with 2000 grams of anti-corruption medication and a slap in the face with the Constitution. They also recommended over-the-counter ACLU to Mrs. Citizen, to be used as needed. ▪ Send letters to the editor to

What it Takes: A Bittersweet Goodbye By Rachel Choi Staff Writer

With the advent of the Internet, news has become much more electronic. All the breaking news is immediately reported on most homepages, such as Yahoo and MSN. As a particularly tech-savvy group of people, MSJ students, especially the ones with smartphones, probably appreciate the convenience of being able to see all the breaking news just by touching the CNN app. However, the move of news from page to screen and the subsequent downscaling of the paper newspaper industry greatly affected Government/ Economics Teacher Jaime Richards, who wrote a weekly column called “What it Takes” for newspapers such as the Argus for 12 years. With the aim of discussing the characteristics of successful people, Richards wrote more than five hundred columns, including ones about particularly MSJ-relevant topics such as Chipotle and the Lady Warriors. During an interview with Mr. Richards, he revealed that he had received notice that his last column would be printed the last week of October. However, what was strange was that his last column, due to appear on October 29th, 2011, was never published. It appeared online on, but it never appeared in print. Richards then called his editor only to discover that his article hadn’t been printed because of the sentence, “It’s no secret that the Internet has wounded print newspapers.” (Though this sentence may seem strong, it’s important to note that, in context, it was more of a prelude to how the

loss of his column is a temporary setback to Richards’ goal of reaching more people.) Unfortunately, Richards had not received any prior notice, and had not been able to revise his column. His final column, with his farewell to his readers, didn’t reach the majority of his readers, who read his columns in the newspaper. It would have been more considerate if the Bay Area News Group had given Richards a chance to revise his column so that it could be printed. If one person had taken the time to ask Richards to rewrite his column, Richards and his readers might have been much more content. Mr. Richards’s biggest regret about the situation that was he never got to deliver his parting words to his readers. To leave them with a lasting memory, he had prepared a quote by a politician named Huey Long, “God, don’t let me die. I have so much left to do.” He had also wanted to remind them about his website and his books. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the chance to deliver that message. When something changes, we often get prior notice of it. For example, when the USPS raised postage fees, we knew about it before hand; we didn’t need to find out about it at the postage office. Though these small actions may go unnoticed, this happening exemplifies their importance. Like Dr. P. M. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, said, “The quality of our lives is about treating each other well in every situation. We are all the trustees of one another’s happiness and well-being in life.” ▪

staff writer sherry xiao

staff writer connor williams

6 Opinion

EDITORIAL: The Right to

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

500-Calorie Vegetables


By Anna Zeng Staff Writer

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” There it is. The words of our Founding Fathers, the ones upon which great people built this country. Various forms of government in other countries had proved unsustainable in the past, resulting in imbalances in power and wealth. The thirteen colonies were supposed to change that. The government of the United States was designed to serve the people; in theory it should be able to provide opportunity, ensure equality, and adapt to change peaceably. That ’s not what we’re seeing as the Occupy movement unfolds. Students have a reputation for protesting. This is especially true of UC Berkeley, which garnered nationwide attention in the 1960s because of the student protests concerning the Free Speech Movement and the Vietnam War. You might think that after 50 years, our country would’ve gotten more democratic, but the student protests for the Occupy movement at UC Berkeley and UC Davis are still met with excessive force from campus police. Police presence may indeed be necessary to prevent rioting, but force need not be used until push comes to shove. Peaceful protests should be allowed to happen, and yet some UC Berkeley students were beaten by the police and have even filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging the use of excessive force. A huge

The Smoke Signal

uproar resulted from images and a video of UC Davis police officer Lt. John Pike pepper-spraying students sitting in a line with their arms linked. Pepper spray is banned from combat by law of international treaty, but it was used so casually on the suffering students from such close proximity that it looked like the officer was watering plants. Yes, a majority of the student protestors had not moved from their encampments despite being given a deadline, but the use of police brutality should not be condoned. Was it truly necessary to pepper spray the eyes of students sitting in a line on the ground of the UC Davis Quad, simply refusing to leave? Was it truly necessary to beat the students and professors at UC Berkeley with batons when they refused to leave their encampments? It was not as though they were wreaking havoc and destruction upon the universities. They were simply endeavoring to make a bold statement against their grievances, including proposals to raise tuition for schools in the UC system in the coming years. Amidst the uproar of the brute, physical force used against the student protestors, it is not to be forgotten that students’ civil liberties and rights to protest are being infringed upon. Their ability to express their opinions should, in no way, be removed. After all, UC President Mark Yudof said, “I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful…fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right.” ▪ Send letters to the editors at by January 20, 2012 or comment online at

Pizza might just be the fattest vegetable ever to exist as an “official” vegetable. Just last month, Congress passed a revised agricultural appropriations bill with such vague phrasing that it looked just like the nutrition guidelines from before. Back in January, the Obama administration had released a set of pro-nutritional reforms to be signed into law, including edible-mashed-plant equality. But, of course, when the agricultural appropriations bill was signed, the infamous tomato paste problem was left terribly ambiguous. Though the original bill included an aggressive attack on many points of such ambiguous phrasing, Republicans on the Appropriations Committee successfully undermined the Obama Administration’s attempt to fix the ambiguity. Newspapers and news channels had been busily buzzing away about it, but after the Internet explosion of the meme, “Pizza is a Vegetable,” the catchphrase might turn out to be humorously familiar to many frequenters of the Internet (like those in Silicon Valley). However, one can only trust and learn so much from internet gags. In truth, this is not a duel about pizza. It’s actually a food fight about tomato paste, which goes in pizza sauce, which goes into the pizza, which finally goes into your lunch. Each meal has a portion of fruits and vegetables, since both food groups are combined under nutritional guidelines. Though MSJ’s famous fried sides like tater tots and potato wedges have accidentally counted themselves as “vegetables,” the federal law openly declares tomato paste a vegetable. Step back a bit. The law might have a point here. Tomatoes are extremely nutritious. Blast them into mush, and they’re even more nutritious. A normal serving of vegetable takes a full half cup of the stuff. Every last fruit and vegetable (even the condensed purée versions) obeys the golden rule. But a 1/8 cup of oddball tomato paste counts as a full half cup serving of vegetable.

Of course, if that rule did not exist, valid common sense tells the government that nobody would want to hold a drippy pizza stacked six inches tall with half a cup of tomato guts. But what about holding a sloppy pizza while knowing that it’s supposed to be nutritious? That’s like eating a meal programmed to transform itself into a heap of lumpy goo. Seeing no point in attempting to shove a mess in your mouth, you shove it away. Henceforth, you don’t buy any more pizza. Henceforth, the school doesn’t purchase any more pizza. Henceforth, the government wants nothing more of school lunch pizza. In the end, major frozen pizza manufacturers will be mad at the government for not buying pizza. Oh, Republicans! Thankfully, with the influx of the Obama’s Round Table of Secretarial Knights, the government discovered that tomato paste has no legitimate excuse to receive special treatment. Of course, since all foods are equal, tomato paste must be treated the same as any other mashed version of a fruit or vegetable. At this point, after the passing of the bill, Congress just sounds like an irresponsible mother. Like giving plastic jewelry to your mother as a Christmas gift, justifying the act of selling cheap pizzas with little nutritional value, especially for America’s future to eat, is absolutely unacceptable. On a lighter note, we have no need to worry about MSJ school lunches. The stricter nutritional guidelines of the FUSD have not only taken away the vegetable status from MSJ’s fat-saturated tater tots, but have also acknowledged what pizza really is. “Pizza isn’t even counted as a vegetable in our school lunches,” says Rachel Hoover, manager of MSJ’s nutrition services. All is well in our little Mission bubble, but in the outside world, America is struggling with nutritional integrity. Even in the face of financial ruin, the government should be moral enough to not feed its schoolchildren five-hundred-calorievegetables. ▪

Internet Freedom By Avery Kruger Staff Writer

Those who haven’t been living under a rock for a few years should know that social networking is a pretty big thing. Some of the most-visited sites in America, like Youtube, Facebook, and Tumblr, are based completely on content that comes from their users. However, this wild frontier of technology could be coming to an end as quickly as it began. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), introduced in late October, is a bill intending to gag the internet. SOPA, if passed, would allow the government and organizations to ask for court-ordered injunctions against copyright-infringing websites, which include those irresponsible for the content generated by their users. After filing against infringing sites, prosecutors could force search engines to stop displaying links, Internet service providers to block access, and more. In short, SOPA would destroy whatever websites land in its crosshairs. Although the intended targets are torrenting websites which allow for the download of pirated software and media, everyday websites like Tumblr and Youtube would come under fire as well. The past few years have seen an exponential increase in startup companies setting their sights on the gold-lined streets of the social media market. Facebook has only recently begun to hit its stride. With the huge wave of tech companies came a huge wave of employment. The Bay Area is a focal point for the technology scene, with companies like Google and Facebook headquartered

The certificate that appears shortly after a website has been seized.

around the bay. The advent of SOPA could have a number of startling effects. Sure, a few websites here and there might be blocked, but with these targeted websites come a host of new issues. For one, it would be a huge discouragement for startup companies. Already dominated by huge companies, the social network scene is hard to get into in the first place. Under SOPA, new social networking sites would have an even harder time; startups have little budget for legal issues, so although Facebook could undoubtedly survive prosecution, new companies would have an

ice cube’s chance in Hades of making it big, let alone establishing a user base. With a falloff in startups and social media will come economic fallout. Numerous people are employed in the industry, and companies going under means many going out of work. The US is already struggling to recover from the recession of 2007, and unemployment is just beginning to drop again; SOPA would likely add to that statistic. People discontented with government welfare programs won’t be happy when a whole new industry worth of employees has to be supported.

The Arab Spring of this year used Facebook as a major means of communication, and social networks as a whole have come to represent freedom. What then will countries say when the US itself starts censoring its people? The US spoke out when Syria blocked access to the Internet, and the “Great Firewall” of China remains a topic of contention to this day. How hypocritical will it seem when the US itself is creating its own firewall? Software pirates, the main target of the act, would remain largely unaffected as large sites like Youtube struggle to control and restrict user-generated content. Because of SOPA’s methodology, large, frequently visited sites might be easy to control or block access to, but people always find ways around restrictions; new pirate sites pop up every day, and there is nothing SOPA can do to prevent that from happening. The end result will be the major inconveniencing of the general public and a complete failure of accomplishing SOPA’s goal. Pirates are targeted because of a stigma that they are leeches on the economy. This doesn’t have to be the case though. Valve’s Gabe Newell says, “We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.” Companies like Valve aim to cut losses from piracy not by imposing restrictions, like SOPA is, but by making legitimate service a better option. If this policy is attempted by more media companies, then piracy could become less of a problem and startups might still have a chance. ▪

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Smoke Signal

BEFORE WINTER BREAK By Tanya Raja Staff Writer

Students at MSJ frequently complain about their heavy workloads, exorbitant amounts of stress, and the resultant feelings of mental imbalance. Teachers, parents, and administration express this sentiment as well, and because of several new school policies, (such as the new start time and “no homework on Fridays”) it seems that MSJ is making an effort to reduce this stress. These policies, however, though well intended and arguably beneficial, have not changed much. Having finals before winter break would considerably lighten the stress level at MSJ for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious is a limited amount of stress during winter break, which would be utilized relaxing and having fun instead of poring over textbooks and pulling out hair in frustration. Rather than having semesters of equal length, first semester would be shorter, and end right before break. Winter break would be placed right between the two semesters, meaning no work at all from school and more time to enjoy time with family and friends. This implementation would also lead to other beneficial changes to the school. Schools like Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, CA have successfully shifted finals to before winter break, leading to a temporary imbalance of semester lengths, and a gradual shift of the entire school year. The Fremont Unified School District is one of the latest districts in California to start school. Teachers struggle to cover the necessary material in time for AP and STAR testing; this change would allow a more comprehensive and relaxed curriculum. As Menlo-Atherton has demonstrated, moving finals to before winter break will eventually lead to an earlier start to the school year, allowing much needed time to cover material for tests. Mission SOS, along with Vice Principal Zack Larsen, are working to make this


Opinion 7


By Vivian Jair

proposition a reality. Students from this school attended a convention at Stanford University in October where they met with Denise Pope, a speaker on the Stanford Board of Education, and discussed the possibility of moving finals, which she responded to enthusiastically. Mission SOS received over 200 signatures from P.E. students last year during the Health Fair petitioning to move finals, and is currently researching other schools that have generated positive results by implementing this

Imagine a school year starting mid-August, one that forces hardworking students to cram their studying into the short Thanksgiving break. Then envision all the seniors, scrambling to both study and complete college applications. Sound familiar? Most likely not, and let’s hope it will stay that way. Numerous school districts have long debated

change. Martha Kreeger, an MSJ parent heavily involved with Mission SOS, said “Research shows that exams before winter break are one of those institutional policy changes that have made the biggest differences in high school stress levels. I think it’s good for kids to have two weeks without work, which exams before winter break will give them. It’s not healthy to be unable to relax.” Winter break should be just that, a break. As of now, those two weeks, rather than being replete with high spirits and holiday cheer, are burdened with stress and anxiety for the upcoming year. After working so hard for the past four months, students deserve a fortnight of rest, and having finals just a few weeks after break is not allowing that. ▪

whether finals ought to be before or after winter break. MSJ’s finals have traditionally taken place after the break, this year from January 25 to 27. Harker, a private school in San Jose, had earlier finals, from December 13 to 15. Traditionally, winter break has been used to get a head start in studying. If finals are placed prior to break, students will have no choice but to study during Thanksgiving break instead, which is an entire week shorter. Those who claim that students do not study during break don’t realize that this will give even less time for procrastinators to study. Also, by having finals prior to winter break, students will stress over the exams that they just took, especially if they did not do well. On top of that, students who go on vacation earlier will miss finals entirely. This becomes an ut-

Staff Writer

centerspread editor frank chen

ter nightmare for both the student and teachers to make the test up. Meanwhile, one can just imagine the seniors, who will be caught in an ugly predicament between finals and their college applications. Yet, another unappealing problem that would arise is the complete readjustment of our school year. We would start mid-August and end in May. This would unbalance semester lengths, making the second semester longer. A school board representative of the Palo Alto Unified School District said, “In the end, I’m not sure if the calendar would reduce stress or simply shift it. I feel like we’re trying to cram everything into the first semester.” Also, moving finals forward would cause more material to be in the May finals, and surely no one wants that. Testing right before winter break, an anticipated vacation, will cause students to want to hurry through finals. This leads them to cram their studying, thus relying on short-term memory instead. This is a downright terrible price to pay for any students, since the information learned will be easily forgotten and thus wasted. One interesting study, called the “Spacing Effect,” found that having finals following winter break is much more beneficial. According to the experiment, a greater gap between introduction of material and reviewing causes better scores on exams, and also improves long-term memory. Additionally, testing after winter break will snap students back into concentration after the holidays, instead of allowing them to slack off for the beginning of the new semester. The idea that studying during break is harmful to vacationers is also not true, since the real problems are actually projects, which can still be given if the finals are moved up. Meanwhile, those who don’t want to study during break can still study after, which is still over two weeks of time. Nevertheless, having a longer break before finals is more valuable. Overall, the reasons for taking finals after winter break far overshadow those for moving it to before. What would be the rationale, then, for changing a schedule that has worked well for so long? If such a question were to show up on a multiple-choice final sometime later this year, the answer would definitely be “none of the above”. ▪

8 Feature

The Smoke Signal

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Student Spotlight: Anna Demchuk By Anjali Kanthilal Staff Writer

By Kerrie Wu Staff Writer

Ever looked at a friend’s intricately done nails and admire how beautiful they are? Well, here at MSJHS, we have our very own nail artist, Anna Demchuk! The Smoke Signal conducted an interview to find out more about Anna and her passion. Smoke Signal: When did you first start working with nails? Anna Demchuk: I started working with nails back in the summer of seventh grade. SS: How did you discover your passion? Why nails? AD: My mom got me a set of three brushes and I started using nail polish and drawing designs and I really liked it. And then I went on the Internet, and started looking at nail art and saw some really cool designs. And I was like, “I seriously want to try this,” so I started doing it and have gradually gotten better! SS: Do you have a business, or do you just to it for fun? AD: I guess I kind of have a business, because I have regular clients that come, but it’s mostly just because I like doing it; its not a necessity for me to do it. It is my passion, it has its ups and downs. SS: How long does it take to complete a typical set of nails? AD: A typical set on normal nails takes about one and a half hours. This includes the whole spa treatment (like cleaning the nails and actually doing the design.) SS: How do you come up with your designs? AD: I’ve always been artistic, so I’ve always been drawing a lot. So basically, whatever the person likes, be it Marilyn Monroe or dinosaurs, I’ll just take in their preference of colors

photo courtesy anna demchuk

and anything else, and it’ll just come to me at one point or another. I’ve never really planned a design. SS: Will you be willing to share a secret about how you do your “cool nails”? AD: To keep your hand steady, you usually put your hand under the person hand and rest your other hand with which you’re drawing onto your fingers. There is no real secret, but you have to have a lot of patience. SS: Do you do any special occasions? AD: Yes. I have been doing Halloween for October. I can also do Valentine’s, Christmas and other holidays and special occasions. It’s really the clients’ choice. SS: What is your usual process for doing nails? AD: I do my nails similar to what they do in salons: the cleaning, then drawing. I learned from watching them. I don’t have any professional tools, but I do have a set of 15 brushes, and six dotting tools. And obviously nail polish! And some acrylic paint, rhinestones, and flowers. ▪

You’re trying desperately hard to help the environment by recycling, but it’s just so confusing. I mean, do biodegradable take-out boxes go in the compost or the recycling? What about stickers? That ugly 100 percent polyester sweater you got from Aunt Lou two years ago? Thankfully, with the onset of Christmas season, a fourth ‘R’ is now available: regifting. This is not only a better choice than recycling, but also a solution to your holiday gift giving woes. When regifting, it’s the thought that counts—if possible, give things back to whoever gave them to you. Why? Consider this chain reaction: you give your overachieving friend who is already dying to get a summer internship a blatant, pitiful regift consisting of, say, that board game he gave you for your birthday. Because of your regift, he goes with his dad to his high-tech company’s annual white elephant party. While your friend is there, he starts up a conversation with his dad’s boss, who suddenly feels sorry for him because he has terrible friends like you and is guilt-tripped into giving him an internship. Suddenly, you’re a hero! Not just any hero, but a tragic hero who sacrificed his own reputation to help his oblivious friend. It’s a win-win situation—your friend no longer needs to spend his winter break filling out applications, and you’ll never receive crummy gifts from him again. If you can’t remember who gave you what, no worries. That implies nobody’s ever given you a present worth remembering, which means nobody you know deserves a gift that well thought out. However, don’t be cruel and put absolutely no thought into it. In these circumstances, regift things like candles that they will never use, free real estate agent calendars, and dusty old things that still have your name

DIY Presents By Hannah Shih Staff Writer

DIY Wrap Bracelet: Layering jewelry is a simple way to freshen up an outfit, and with these understated but unique bracelets, you can stay on trend without breaking a sweat. Supplies: 44 inches of leather cord, a hex nut, 58 inches of linen cord, scissors, a crystal chain or brass ball chain 1. Take 44 inches of leather cord and fold it in half, making sure the loop will fit over a hex nut. Then wrap a linen colored cord around the leather five or six times. 2. Place the crystal or ball chain in between the two strands of leather where the wrapping ends. Then continue wrapping the chain to the leather, making sure to securely attach it together. 3. After you finish wrapping the chain, wind the linen cord around the leather a few more times and tie a knot. 4. Thread the hex nut on and then tie a second knot. Cut off the excess leather and cord and slip the loop over the hex nut.

DIY Reusable Coffee Sleeve: http://thecottagehome.blogspot. com/2010/02/reusable-coffee-sleeve-tutorial.html

David Letterman once said, “If it weren’t for…coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.” This applies to most of the students at Mission at well, but now, when you get your Starbucks, you can help the environment along with your mood by making your own reusable cloth coffee sleeve. Supplies: 1/4 yard fabric, 4.5" elastic,

staff writer hannah shih

1. Fold the fabric in half, open up the paper sleeve on the cloth, and cut a 0.75” border. 2. Snip a sheet of fusible interfacing the same size as the fabric and iron it onto the back of one piece of the cloth. Then, remove the paper backing and pin the pieces of cloth of the wrong sides face out. 3. Cut a 4.5” of elastic, fold it in half, and place it facing inward between the two pieces of cloth. 4. Sew around the three sides (two long sides and the side of the elastic) leaving a 0.5” allowance, and turn the fabric right side out. Fold the open side 0.5” in and press it down, letting the interfacing seal it. 5. Top stitch all around if you’d like and place a button about three inches from the side opposite of the elastic.

on it. This will give help them save money, since they will have regiftable items to use in the future. If anything came with a gift receipt, make sure to include it, so your friends have an opportunity to better themselves by exercising patience and virtue as they wait in the fifty-person long line to be assisted by an assistant’s assistant customer assistance worker who has difficulty operating his cash register. Of course, the greatest puzzle that has baffled psychologists and rocket scientists for years is the dilemma of what to give your mother. After painstaking, extensive research, experts have found a simple solution to this problem. Give your mother an obviously effortless gift. Then explain that you’re too busy studying and saving up for college to buy something. Point out that even if you get her a gift, you’re using her money anyway. Your mom will be so impressed by your self-motivation and understanding of parenthood that she may or may not ask you to start paying rent—a sure sign that you have become a mature adult. As some final words of advice, know that the Smoke Signal is not responsible for injury to regifters due to encounters with angry, unemployed Santas. Happy regifting! ▪

When people imagine the holidays, thoughts of cookie-stealing Santas, awkward discussions with distant relatives, and even the annoyingly cheerful Christmas carols starting four weeks too early come to mind. Birthdays and Christmases are the only occasions to cash in on gifts. Christmas mornings usually hold great importance. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to buy gifts, don’t let your loved ones down. Instead, personalize a gift that both saves you money and shows how much you truly care. Some common ideas are bookmarks, photo calendars, scrapbooks, mixed CDs, and even gift baskets to suit their personal interests. Here are other easy and creative ideas.

DIY Bow Tie: bow-ties With Winter Ball just passing us by and many other formal events are looming in the distance, a personalized bow tie for that classy guy in your life. is the perfect holiday present. Supplies: bow-tie template from Martha Stewart, cardboard, scissor, ½ yard fabric in the print you want the bow, ½ yard fusible interfacing, iron, 1. Get an online template from Martha Stewart and iron two 6” by 22” lengths of fusible interfacing to the back side of fabric. 2. Then, cut the interfaced fabric with a cardboard cutout of the template. Sew the corresponding sides together with a bias seam and 0.25” seam allowance. 3. Turn it inside out and trim the corners. Push on the tie and sew it closed.

DIY Snow Globe: http://www.well-worn. com/2009/12/faux-real-luxe-snowglobes.html

Snow globes epitomize the beauty of the holidays and preserve it for years to come. Personalize your snow globe for the recipient and make it even more special. Supplies: a jar with a lid, figurines or jewelry to make the scene, clear epoxy, distilled water, glycerin, glitter 1. Using the epoxy, stick the figurines or jewelry to the lid and let it dry. 2. Pour water into the jar and put a bit of glycerin in to make the glitter fall slower. Then add in the glitter. 3. Put the lid on tightly. ▪

Tuesday, Decmber 20, 2011

The Smoke Signal

Feature 9

A Christmas Peril By Jin Peng & Jade Shi Staff Writers

Occupy North Pole

Tactical Gifting Christmas time may be considered a time of giving gifts to loved ones, but truly it is of vicious financial exchange and the keepsake of one’s precious reputation. Decorum states that if one receives a gift from somebody, one must return a gift to the sender of equal or greater value or else become the epitome of shame. Of course, there cannot be communication beforehand as to keep such “gifts” a surprise, but what’s really surprising is that unexpected present you receive from a person that you never accounted for when you did your Christmas shopping. Nothing is more heartbreaking than that moment when you are greeted with a $100 gift card to Chipotle, and what was meant to be a “thank you” comes out instead as a gut-wrenching “POR QUE?” with the intent to kill. Luckily, there are methods to counter such a problem. Other than stocking up on worthy gifts to give out in self-defense to receiving those unexpected threats, you can play the one who distributes cheap candy canes to everybody as to portray yourself as generous and full of Christmas spirit, thereby negating your obligation to give gifts. In addition, you can always go live on the moon where shipping services are expensive and the lack of an atmosphere will instantly terminate possible “gifters” that pose a threat.

‘Thank You’ Cards To appear as if you’re a kind person who cares about the wellbeing and state of mind of other people, and so they won’t notice your presents were all last year’s Halloween candy leftovers, you should write thank you cards for everyone! But to protect your own sanity, here’s a nice template to base all your cards on:

NORTH POLE-- December 20, 2011 Elves at Santa’s Factory have staged a protest and named it Occupy North Pole. In a drastic divergence from the previously overdone festive atmosphere of North Pole Street, the elves have set up camp and initiated a peaceful protest against the insidious and insensible actions of one Santa Claus. Inspired in part by the success of the Easter Eggs in their revolution against the Bunny, the elves are protesting the injustice of working tirelessly day and night for a jolly, fat Santa who receives hefty healthcare benefits and claims all the credit. While elves who are employed may work either directly or indirectly for Claus, they themselves do not receive the same adequate benefits and pay in cinnamon candy canes. In response, elves are occupying. In retaliation, St. Nick is seeking support from the rulers over the next generation. Parents, especially those of children meant to be on the Naughty List, place their trust and sanity in the stability of Christmas. Children whose parents support the ventures of Claus are placed on the Nice List—and happy children mean happy future leaders. Never mind any incompetency they may have. The cycle repeats. Elves are naturally diverse creatures, with tights in a multitude of colors, but it’s the first time in a century that more and more elves have joined the working class, leaving only the few Santa’s favorites as Manager Elves. Children now look towards China as the land of toy-goods, leaving elves heartbroken and unemployed.

Dear ______, Thank you for the cool _______________. I’ve always wanted to _______. I really ____ it, and now I can use it to ___________. Thanks for being _______. Merry Christmas! ______

Stealthy Santa Christmas is undoubtedly the most fantastic way to end the year, with its heartwarming holiday cheer and spirit. Unlike summer vacation, which is accompanied by tedious prep classes and refreshing Facebook, there is a certain magic to winter break that no other break can compare to. Whether it be great shopping discounts, trips to Tahoe, or finding your old SAT book in a shoebox under your Christmas tree, winter break is truly a two-week era of pure bliss and joy – not. The greatest nuisance of all proves to be life’s own way of catching us slipping, walloping our faces right after break with finals, New Year’s resolutions that never happen, and miswritten dates that usually end up leaving you ripping the corner of your paper as you erase it in a fit of rage. What is meant to be a relaxing vacation is now plagued by the apprehension of imminent doom that bothers students to the extent of prompting them to open their backpacks before school even resumes. However, even in such a conundrum, students manage to pull through with some of the most amazing feats of heroism in the year, completing the most massive of all projects and essays the mornings and amazingly sometimes the nights before they are due. So remember, even when it’s quite a bother to come back to school, there’s always spring break to look forward to! Also, the ability to write in cursive is the key to succeeding in your AP and SAT examinations.

Dear _Auntie Prudence, Thank you for the cool puke-colored socks. I’ve always wanted to take off my shoes in PE and have people stare in horror_. I really have no words on how to describe it, and now I can use it to wipe my dirty floors. Thanks for being considerate of my feet. Merry Christmas! Your nephew Robert

Dear Person Who Sits Next to Me in English Whose Name I Cannot Recall, Thank you for the cool squishy melted Hershey’s Bar. I’ve always wanted to eat squishy melted Hershey’s Bars in English. I really ate it, and now I can use it to _recall my eating habits _. Thanks for being _someone who sits_. Merry Christmas! Bobby Bobinson II

graphics by graphics editor kevin zhai

10 Centerspread

The Smoke Signal

Tuesday December 20, 2011

Tuesday December 20, 2011

The Smoke Signal

Things to do Before By Leland Bernstein, Kevin He, Anusha Rijhsinghani, Lindy Zeng Staff writers

With some people predicting the world will come to an end exactly one year and a day away on December 21, 2012, there are many things to do. Instead of sending your Christmas wish list to Santa (he’ll be too busy to respond anyway), debating on what gift to buy your mother (for tips see Feature page 9), or struggling with resolving New Year’s Resolutions (which you know will only last about a week), you should start planning for an action-packed 2012. Go out, explore the world, but start small and venture through the Bay Area. Try new things (such as milking a cow) and act crazy (adding papaya and guava to your pizza to make it truly Hawaiian). The general tip is to act first, think later, because actions speak louder than words. The Smoke Signal offers ideas to keep you occupied for 365 more days.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Places To Go

Did you know that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world that exhibits some of the most gigantic sea animals in the ocean? Logically, the aquarium must be big in order to accommodate the majestic ten-foot Pacific Bluefin Tuna. Even if you are afraid of fish, water, or both, you can squish your face up against the glass and still be a safe distance away from the unblinking eyes of the “Monkeyface-eel.” For the rather unenthusiastic fish fans, there are various other exhibits featuring penguins, sea otters, and even the highly fascinating phytoplankton.


Angel Island

You’ve seen the island whenever you cross the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, so take a walk through history by visiting Angel Island’s Immigration Station. Also known as the “Ellis Island of the West,” it processed Asian immigrants entering the US. Gaze intently at the Chinese poetry etched into the walls. The only way to the island other than swimming is by boat, so whether it’s by ferry or sailboat, save yourself much walking by bringing a bike. Bikes are allowed on the ferry free of charge so it’s a great opportunity to admire the Angel Island’s picturesque landscape.

Ever wondered how it feels to be a prisoner? Take a firsthand view of life at the infamous Alcatraz Island. There is no reason not to go to Alcatraz; the high-security and notorious criminals such as Al Capone are but remnants of the past, and despite what the tour guide says, sharks with only one fin do not swim in circles around the island. So pay a visit to the ex-jail turned museum and tour various rooms around the building. Pity the long-gone prisoners who once sat in their dismal damp cells, and when you leave, relish in the fact that you are able to escape from Alcatraz by simply stepping aboard a ferry.

Climb Mission Peak

Sure, almost everyone who lives in Fremont has climbed (or at least attempted to climb) Mission Peak. Instead of taking the same old well-trodden route to the summit, grab a map (conveniently located at the trailhead) and explore some of the lesser-known paths on Mission Peak (to humans anyway). The cows shall serenade your presence with glorious “moo’s” of welcome. And even if your wanderings do not carry you to the top, you will leave the mountain and peaceful solitude with sore legs ready to join the bustling life of the city again.

Flea Market at Ohlone College Early in the morning on the second Saturday of every month, a curiously large number of people gather at the empty parking lot of Ohlone College. Their motive—to set up for the monthly flea market. Stroll through aisle upon aisle of various goods ranging from antique camera lens to bobble-headed figurines for the dashboard of the car. Also, don’t forget to satisfy your stomach at the hot dog and popcorn stands. To find it, just sniff out the enticing aroma of butter and sizzling meat. You will be sure to find everything that you are looking for here.

Sunol Water Temple Underneath a domed white pavilion, water from two different sources meets in a white tiled cistern, forming a channel that flows onward. Made up of twelve concrete Corinthian columns, it may seem as if the structure is located in Rome. This building is the Sunol Water Temple, designed by Willis Polk, one of San Francisco’s most famous architects in 1910. Standing underneath the pavilion and looking up toward the ceiling, you can see paintings portraying Indian maidens carrying water containers. The

Parlez-Vous? We’re all required to take a language at school, but we’re limited to very few and usually stick with the norm of Spanish or French. Rather than learning these languages for our personal intrigue, we merely do them to fulfill our graduation requirements. Try learning a completely new and exotic language that you’re interested in, such as Bulgarian or Mongolian, and then hold a conversation with a native speaker. Even try ordering food

Learn how to cook an entire meal by yourself Considering the world is supposed to end when most of us are 18 or younger, the majority of us are still very dependent upon our parents and have not learnt the art of cooking. Ask your parents to teach you a few basic recipes, or search up the recipes of your favorite foods online. Surprise your family by cooking them an entire meal on your own. It’s okay if the food comes out inedible the first few times, that’s normal. Just try not

see people’s astonished reactions to your performance!

from a restaurant in their language and entertain some waiters!

to let your food kill your family before the end of the world does.

Looking for a place to travel to next summer? Try making it for the 2012 Olympics in London! It would be the last summer Olympic Games before the world ends and would be an absolutely incredible experience. Seize the opportunity to sit in the stands among the overwhelmingly enthusiastic crowd for the last time. Watch in amazement as a world gymnast does a Yurchenko or a sprinter breaks the record for the 100-meter dash right before your eyes. Tickets start as low as 50 euros, which is around 67 dollars, for some events. Buy your tickets soon!

all know it doesn’t really take seven minutes to get to class.

Up Close and Personal Yeah, yeah, we know you raise your hand in class, but how often do you really talk to your teachers? Mission isn’t one of the top public schools for nothing; we have a quirky, talented, and incredibly motivated team of teachers and administrators to guide us through high school. Take surfing lessons from Dr. Fry, conquer Mission Peak with Mr. Richards, or have a latte and a chat with big, bad, Mr. Larsen. You don’t know school until you’ve been old-school schooled by Mr. Hui. Just make sure you have the opportunity to go out and do something fun.

Take part in a flash mob Have you ever seen videos of tens or hundreds of people spontaneously breaking out into dance in a public location? These flash mobs take a lot of time and preparation but produce spectacular results. Grab all of your friends and choreograph an easy dance routine that can be learnt in a few days. After practicing and perfecting it, go to the public place of your choosing, such as a mall, and

2012 Summer Olympics

Tour with a Detour For one week, take a different route to class every day. Unbury that planner from the bottom of your bookshelf and dust it off; you are going to need that map. You'd be surprised how much a fresh perspective can change your day. Along the way, you might meet an old friend, or maybe discover a hidden bathroom. No matter what happens, or doesn’t happen, take a break from your typical boring routine. We

Singing out a window Have you ever wanted to attract a swarm of birds with your beautiful singing? Disney’s timeless classic Snow White has shown us that it is as simple as opening your window and belting out lyrics in your high-pitched, sweet voice. Be careful when picking the song of your choice, however, as it will determine what type of bird swoops down to you. You may attract a vulture if you go with hard-core rap music, while a delicate blue jay may flutter by to a sweet, melodic tune. This works best on balconies, but if that is inaccessible, be sure to give it a try from your front door!

Build a gingerbread village:

Centerspread 11

School Things To Do

tranquil place is a perfect spot for a picnic or a short stroll,

Do It Yourself


Val’s Burgers Voted to be one of the West’s top 10 burgers, Val’s, located in Hayward, is where you go for a classic American diner-dinner. Here’s a quick sample of the menu. Baskets of giant, hot fries. Authentic milkshakes of almost every flavor you could ask for. And of course, their delicious burgers and steaks made perfectly to order. A word of advice, they have a small parking lot and fill up quickly during lunch and dinner rush hour. 2115 Kelly Street Hayward, CA 94541

Get "A" Life Get an A on your next test for every single subject. This is a hard one, but hey, nothing in life comes easy. For one or two weeks, get down to business. Log off Facebook, you've been stalking profiles for too long. Stop checking your Gmail, you're not going to get an email from the president the moment you stop looking. Bring out the books, whip out your calculator, and do the Mission Marathon. Trust me, when you're done with this one, everything else will be easy-peasy.

Books—No Electricity Required No, there is no OR in high school, so delete Sparknotes off your favorites tab and make a trip to the peculiar building in the middle of campus. You know, the one with the books? We know math and science are important; Heck, they are the best. You can’t fill out your college apps if you don’t know how to read and write, so get cracking. Trade in the Twilight novels you keep under your pillow for a volume of Dickens or Hemingway. Sure, it’s a book about a whale. At least he doesn’t sparkle.

Munch Away

Fentons Creamery and Restaurant The already famous eatery is now known worldwide thanks to Pixar’s “Up”. Besides making boyhood dreams come true, Fentons will fill you up with ice cream before you’ve eaten half of your order. Their dishes are truly colossal, four to five scoops for the regular size, and are made with the best ice cream mankind has known. It’s amazing ice cream, do you need another reason to visit?

Believe it or Not, School is for Learning Don't fall asleep in class. One week for seniors, two weeks for juniors, three weeks for sophomores, and four weeks for freshmen. That means pay attention, put your phone away, and listen to what your teachers have to teach. Make sure that you actually do follow though. Who knows? Maybe the atomic mass of Boron could save your life one day, or perhaps you’ll cash in on Jeopardy. Try this challenge with the "Get 'A' Life" challenge for double points, and no coffee allowed.

Instant Popular Guy Nothing like the end of the world to make us try something new. Make the best of your last year on Earth: show up to student council, get in on a Friday activity, or go cheer for a home game. You’d be surprised how much fun it can be to cheer from the bleachers, contrary to popular belief. At any rate, you’ll put on a convincing show of school spirit, even if you really don’t have any idea what you are doing. Everybody loves the guy who isn’t afraid to make a fool of himself! Besides, if the world is going to end, might as well go out cheering, right?

Foster’s Freeze What began as a simple soft serve ice cream store in 1946 has grown into a great chain of restaurants. The closest Freeze to Mission is in San Jose, and during a long lunch it’s possible to make it there and back. Arguably California’s first fast food restaurant, their burgers easily surpass McDonald’s and their shakes will make your taste buds implode, explode, and beg for more milkshake.

We’ve all built the standard gingerbread house in elementary school with graham crackers and excessive frosting. But how many of us have turned that one lonely house into a gingerbread village? Gather a group of your ten closest friends and make a small town, complete with stores, a doctor’s office, a fire station, and of course, the coveted houses. Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner child and go crazy with decorations! This is a great holiday experience that you can share with your family and friends.

Oakland Coliseum Fireworks As the world ends in 2012, that means you have one last chance to enjoy the 4th of July at the Oakland Coliseum! Once the game finishes, all the spectators are allowed onto the field to get an amazing view of the pyrotechnics. You also get to throw beachballs around and buy huge chili cheese dogs Note for guys: girls love this, trust me. Warning for girls: if you go with a guy you don’t like, you might like him after the fireworks.

Pyzano’s Pizzeria The eight time World Champion Pizza Acrobat, and two time World Champion Pizza Maker doesn’t live in an obscure Italian city you will never visit. He lives in Castro Valley, California. Tony Gemignani is world famous for what he can do with pizza - so much so that he has been featured of numerous cooking shows. The world’s best pizza maker is a mere THIRTY minutes away, why haven’t you paid him a visit yet?

Boiling Crab Tired of burgers and fries? Don’t feel like pizza? Want to be buried under tons of delicious seafood? Then hit up the Boiling Crab in San Jose - ask anyone at MSJ and they will tell you how delicious any of their seafood is - their shrimp, clams, and of course their crabs! But if you want seafood with some kick, you can turn up the heat with their XXX seasoning, a devilish mix of rajun cajun, lemon peppers, and garlic butter.

12 Arts & Entertainment

The Smoke Signal

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Showcase of Student Artwork




By Tanya Raja & Anusha Rijhsinghani Staff Writers

Smoke Signal: What do students learn in Art 1? Edie Christensen: Art 1 covers the basics, including shading, contour line drawing, perspective, and color theory. Students learn about the different periods of art, from the Renaissance to Greek surrealism. They also work with surreal landscapes, printmaking, linoleum block printmaking, and pen-and-ink drawing. With the supplies fee, I buy new supplies for each student; this year they got their own colored pencil sets, ink kits, and sketchbooks.


SS: What do you think is the importance of learning basic art? EC: Drawing is an activity that’s as human as it could be, from cavemen to the present day. In our computer age we must keep in touch with our feelings, our understanding of ourselves, while retaining the ability to express our humanity. SS: What skills can students gain through the different Art classes offered? EC: In Art 2 and 3, we do mural designing and painting, and continue to learn about watercolor in Art 2 and acrylic in Art 3. In the AP class, students build a collective portfolio with their work from Art 1 to 3 and work on building their unique portfolio of artwork. AP students can also send in their work to College Board for portfolio credit if they wish. In the AP class we work with cubism, surrealism, modern art, contemporary art, and portraiture. The class is very individualized, so one student can work on fashion design if that’s the theme of her portfolio while another student interested in Digital Imaging can use graphic design in his portfolio. It is rigorous; you can’t come into AP Art without having a portfolio started. For students interested in seriously building a portfolio, AP Art is the class for them. By the end of the year they will have at least excellent twelve breadth assignments and twelve assignments of one concentration of art style.


SS: Is there anything else you would like to add about the Art classes offered? EC: I would like to encourage people who have never taken any art class before to try and take Art 1. Art is certainly a skill that lasts throughout your life. It is something personal and expressive; art brings so much enrichment to your life and taking an art class allows you to appreciate artistic beauty. photos by staff writers vivian jair, tanya raja, & anusha rijhsinghani

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Smoke Signal

‘New Year’s’ B

Arts & Entertainment 13

‘TY.O’ Cruzes to an A By Sai Chilakapati Staff Writer

By Grace Wu Staff Writer

New Year’s Eve is a romantic comedy with an all-star cast including Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher, Sofia Vergara, Sarah Jessica Parker, and more. It shows the lives of couples and singles of all ages on New Year’s Eve in New York. The stories are New Year’s Eve classics: Randy (Ashton Kutcher) meets Elise (Lea Michelle) and falls in love, Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) sets out to complete her list of resolutions with the help of Paul (Zach Efron), Tess ( Jessica Biel) and Griffin (Seth Meyers) set out to have the first New Year’s baby. The seemingly unrelated stories are then cleverly tied

together by plot twists. The plot stops and starts because of the separate stories that play out in the movie, making it a bit hard to follow. Each story appears onscreen again after twenty minutes, which forces the viewer to recall what is going on with the characters at that point. New Year’s Eve is also very predictable due to its cliché stories, but some funny punch lines compensate. The message of the movie is also unclear, seemingly emphasizing forgiveness on New Year’s Eve, along with risk-taking. The acting proves many of the actors can deliver a variety of acting styles from funny to dramatic. Hilary Swank was surprisingly versatile in this romantic comedy, prov-

Taio Cruz released his muchawaited third album on December 6. The name of the album, TY.O, is a phonetic spelling of his name, Taio, to help many people who constantly mispronounce his name. The album has a strong electro-musical inspiration, much like most of his previous albums. As Cruz said in an interview with Rap-up TV, “It’s very much a continuation of the Rockstarr album.” The album also features popular stars like Flo Rida, Pitbull, Ludacris, and David Guetta. The album starts off with a sure hit single, “Hangover,” ft. Flo Rida, that was supposed to have been in the original soundtrack of the movie Hangover 2. In addition to its amazing tune and lyrics, this song is a prelude for the remarkable songs in the rest of the album. Another huge hit among fans is “Telling the World,” penned and ing her unexpected comedic skills. sung by Cruz, which was debuted The ball drop in Times Square last year as a major song in the was especially well shot because of movie Rio. Its piano background the different angles showing the viewpoints of the characters. The setting in New York city added tremendously to the cinematography. Viewers can’t be anything but blown away by the city lights, unique attractions, and close-ups of the descent New Year’s ball. Gary Marshall’s directing skills are mediocre in New Year’s Eve, with nothing outstanding. Overall, this film is a light-hearted romantic comedy, good to see on date night or family night. Its punch lines will provide a good but unmemorable laugh. ▪ Rating: B

and appealing slow tempo create a palpable sensation of love. “You’re Beautiful” is another sensational song with a catchy rhythm that provides diversity to the album with its romantic theme. An already popular party song, “Little Bad Girl,” by David Guetta ft. Taio Cruz and Ludacris, provides a nice contrast to sensational and rhythmic songs like “Telling the World” and “World in Our Hands.” “Tattoo” is a slow R&B (rhythm and blues) song with a catchy chorus and its unique lyrics, “I’m on ya like a tattoo, ow.” However, songs like “Troublemaker” and “Shotcaller”, with their meaningless lyrics and crazy choruses, broke up the album’s flow by being placed between many of the melodic and catchy songs in the album. Overall, however, the diversity of the songs’ tempos and themes keeps listeners captivated from the first song to the last. TY.O will be a sure hit that will bring Taio Cruz back up on the international charts like he did with his party hits “Dynamite” and “Break Your Heart.” ▪ Rating: A-

The ‘Sitter’ Just Sat There ‘El Camino’ holds Keys to success

By Connor Williams Staff Writer

As the next in a long line of raunchy adult comedies directed by David Gordon Green, this latest installment felt a little weak. Jonah Hill stars as a college dropout who is forced to help his mom by babysitting the neighbor’s kids. There we meet the children who seem to be either heavily medicated or psychotic. Some points in the film make the viewer realize how bizarre and ludicrous the entire concept is. Hill’s character, due to ridiculous and unreasonable circumstances, brings

the children into a drug dealer’s den of body builders and roller-skating door guards. There were highlights in the midst of all of the normalcy. Hill did not fail to bring his usual brilliant comedic timing to the movie, helping the questionable script. The characters we meet along the way also play some great parts, like the bouncer at the all-black bar they visit, who goes by “Soul Baby.” Comparing The Sitter to Green’s other movies, such as Pineapple Express or Your Highness, is inevitable. Some of Green’s usual magic was gone. Your Highness for example, did not gain huge box office success, but was a different and hilarious take on the usual “stoner quest comedy.” With The Sitter, most of the usual magic is lost; it felt like they were trying too hard to squeeze out laughs by over-playing everything. All in all, The Sitter failed to deliver Green’s usual standard of comedy. It feels like he gave up, and just went with it. Hill has another big comedy coming up, 21 Jump Street, about a pair of cops who return to high school to bust a drug ring. Hopefully this will help fans forget this latest misguided project. ▪ Rating: C-

By Ditha Balaji Staff Writer

The Black Keys have made a triumphant return to the indie-rock music scene with the release of their seventh studio album El Camino. The Ohio-based band, consisting of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, has been active since 2001 and has sold over 2 million records in the United States. Although their first album, The Big Come Up, was released in 2002, their previous album, Brothers, earned them the most recognition, snagging them the award for “Best Alternative Music Album” in the 2011 Grammy Awards. Famous for songs such as “Tighten Up” and “Howlin’ for You,” the blues-rock band marches confidently back into the spotlight with this new addition. The track listing boasts an array of 11 songs, written by the band itself. The first single, “Lonely Boy,” received much positive acclaim and quickly topped U.S and Canada alternative music charts. Its flowing melody and swooning lyrics make the song an easy radiofavorite, providing a great intro to the album. “Dead and Gone” has a positive up-beat rhythm, complemented by hand-claps and staccato

lyrics. “Gold on the Ceiling,” which is rumored to be their next single, reinforces their blues background, with heavy guitar and a snapping beat. “Little Black Submarines” shows the sensitive side of the record, with a slow, sweeping melody and dejected lyrics. Each chorus is simply a repetition of the name of the track, seeming to make the songs underdone. Overall, the album is an eclectic ensemble showing off the many layers of the band. It remains true to the iconic sounds solidified in past albums while experimenting with new trends, fitting comfortably with the current state of alternative music.

The band always has a way of showing their quirky nature through original and creative album covers, and El Camino doesn’t dissapoint. The cover is centered around a 1989 Chrysler Town and Country, not a Chevy El Camino, the car in which the band toured during the start of its career. The garage-rock band has been noted as a prominent force in the indie-alternative genre, and this album is no different. Full of whimsical beats and catchy lyrics, coupled with the Black Keys’ signature blues-jazz beats, the album leaves a feeling of satisfaction and contentment. ▪ Rating: A

14 Arts & Entertainment

The Smoke Signal

Winter Chorale Concert

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

By Frank Chen Centerspread Editor

On December 6, MSJ’s performing arts students performed their annual winter concert at the Ohlone College Gary Soren Smith Center. Directed by MSJ Visual/Performing Arts and Chorale teacher Jason Aucoin, the concert featured students from Concert Choir, Treble Ensemble, Chamber Chorale, and Show Choir (Musical Theatre Vocal Workshop). The Concert Choir kicked off the performance with a lighthearted song called “Come to the Music.” After a brief introduction by Aucoin, the group continued to perform four more songs, including “Ring the Bells on Christmas Day” and “Jingle-Bell Rock,” in which the Concert Choir incorporated clapping in unison in order to further emphasize the beats and rhythm of the traditional Christmas song. Their enthusiasm and energy were consistent all the way through their last piece. Next, the Treble Ensembles, dressed in black and silver, performed several songs of great variety. One of those was “Sakura,” a traditional Japanese folk song, which was accompanied by flutist, Sophomore Connie Kim. The group ended their performance with a Hawaiian Christmas song called “Mele Kalikimaka.” As the Treble Ensemble stepped down, the Chamber Chorale took the stage, starting with a Christian hymn called “For the Beauty of the Earth.” The harmonizing sounds of the Basses, Tenors, Altos, and Sopranos combined created

a single voice full of different pitches. After they concluded this mellow piece, Junior Alto Silvia Zannetti introduced the next couple of songs: “Three Pieces,” a collection of three short a capellas, and a German piece called “In Stiller Nacht.” The latter, although a song in a foreign language, did not deter the audience from enjoying its graceful musical peaks and valleys. The Chamber Chorale then diverted from its selection of slow songs, changing into some fast-paced pieces. Junior Soprano Leena Yin introduced the next couple of songs, including an animated piece called “Danza Danza” (Dance, Dance). They concluded their performance with a famous Christmas song called “Up on a Housetop,” just in time for the upcoming holidays. After a quick intermission, MSJ’s Musical Theatre Vocal Workshop gave an amazing performance to end the show. The group broke into their first piece, “Let Me Entertain You,” with great enthusiasm and choreography, organized by Junior Shivani Ariathurai. The magnificent stunts performed by Senior Kyle Cho, Saif Jivani, and Sophomore Daniel Zopfi were spectacular, especially Cho, who did several backflips as part of his choreography. As they finished singing their final song, “Marry You,” the crowd erupted into applause. MSJ’s performing arts students have again shown their hard work, dedication, and devotion through their amazing performance. ▪

photos by centerspread editor frank chen

Music-Making Process By Sonali Toppur Staff Writer

Aspiring musicians everywhere wait for the day their names will top the charts. However, the road to musical fame is long, and not all reach their intended destinations. For those willing to pursue their musical dreams despite the difficulty, here is a guide to the process.

Step One: Write a song

The only rule of song writing is to write about topics you feel strongly about. Music is all about passion, and a good writer is someone who can communicate that passion to the listener. Don’t write about themes you aren’t familiar with because you can sound bland and disconnected. Composing can be difficult and most musicians find themselves more comfortable with either writing the instrumentals, or the lyrics. You may have to venture out of your comfort zone to make sure both parts of the song are equally impressive. Almost all famous musicians these days hire other people to write their lyrics. Some take no part in the songwriting process at all and just sing the finished product. That being said, if you are a solo artist, don’t be embarrassed to ask others for help with the aspects you have trouble with.

gineers to make you sound polished and to help you emphasize your strengths.

Step Four: Distribute and promote

Step Two: Find a record producer

Usually once people have some good material, they go straight to YouTube and post a recording of themselves singing it. However, a homemade video does not show off your voice and instruments in the best quality, so sending a record producer your video can come across as unprofessional and not serious about your music. A record producer is a person who can make your music marketable and help you with a lot of the technical aspects of recording, producing, and promoting your entire album, so you want to convince this person that investing a lot of time in you will be worthwhile. You can do this by recording a music demo of what you consider to be your best work. Shell out the money and get some

recording time at a studio. Nothing too fancy, just use the quality microphones and amps to highlight your musical ability. Remember that producers receive hundreds of demos from hopeful artists every day, so you really only have around 15 seconds to grab their attention before they move on to the next one. Once your demo is done, sell yourself! Do some research online and find both local and international producers to send your demo to. You’ve got nothing to lose, so mail it in to all the big shot producers as well because Dr. Dre and L.A. Reid are always scouring for fresh talent.

Once your studio songs are complete, its time to get your name out in the media. You want to release a single first, which is an album with one song intended for radio play and used to build anticipation for an upcoming album. You can follow up with an E.P., which is similar to a full album but smaller with only six or seven songs. An E.P. is also a good way to start because not only is it less expensive, but it requires less material. Send your music to newspapers, critics, radio stations, and post yourself on YouTube. Even try sending your music out to some TV shows, like “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which often spotlights up-and coming artists. Be proud of your hard work, and enjoy your moment. ▪

Step Three: Record in the studio

Studio recording is deceptively hard and demanding, so be prepared for late nights. Just remember that your music producer knows what to do to get your best sound. They will be working with the equipment en-

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Smoke Signal

Arts & Entertainment 15

Christmas Hangouts By Vishal Bajpai & Catherine Ho Staff Writers

Counting down the number of school days until Winter Break starts? Of course, everyone is. Instead of planning the originals—ski trips, Christmas shopping and Christmas dinner, why not visit some alternative places for some fun?

Christmas in the Park Christmas in the Park is an annual event located in downtown San Jose at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Each year, a non-profit organization transforms this location into a holiday fantasy for many to visit with friends or family members. At Christmas in the Park, you can find over sixty musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and the sixty-foot Community Giving Tree. In addition, many schools, organizations, and stores located in San Jose decorate Christmas trees for it to be displayed at Christmas in the Park. These custom designed trees, beautiful exhibit of Christmas lights, and hand-crafted displays are definitely worth a visit. Christmas in the Park is a main attraction of San Jose during December. Location: Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose Dates/Time: November 25 – January 1, 5:30-12 PM Price: Free! Web:

Global Winter Wonderland

Best House

Global Winter Wonderland is located in Santa Clara at California’s Great America. This festival featuring over forty magical lanterns and illuminated structures has attracted millions of people since the event started. Global Winter Wonderland’s theme revolves around the centuries-old Chinese lantern festival, displaying larger-than-life lantern replicas of the world’s iconic landmarks. Some of the lanterns include India’s Taj Mahal, Paris’s Eiffel Tower, Mexico’s Chichen Itza, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and New York’s Statue of Liberty. However, this is not all! Global Winter Wonderland also has shops, food, musical performances, fun rides, carnival games and a whole list of special events! Global Winter Wonderland is definitely a great place to stop by with your friends and family!

The best of mega-houses, however, wasn’t in the little enclave of gifted houses mentioned earlier. It is in Santa Clara on Peachtree Lane. The house’s decoration left no space in the front lawn, every inch occupied by Christmas lights making trees, giant inflatable Santas, and reindeer. Even the roof of the house, not just the edges but the center, had lights shaped to look like giant snowflakes.

Location: California’s Great America, Santa Clara Dates/Time: November 25 – January 1, Friday – Sunday, 4-11pm Price: Adults $12, Children/Seniors $10 Parking: $10 Web:

Best Neighborhood Every Christmas people decorate their houses. Most houses put up the regular lights and the occasional sign or tree decoration, but there are always those rare mega-houses, houses that push the definition of Christmas decoration into the realm of modern art. The Smoke Signal’s quest to find such megahouses led us to an area in San Jose bounded off by I-880 and Guadalupe Parkway on the east and west, north of West Valley Freeway and south of I-280. While driving around for a couple of days looking for mega-houses, we found that this area in San Jose had the most. Most of these long houses have huge lawns filled with reindeer, sleighs, and snowmen. Some of the houses actually look alien, as if from another planet.

Santana Row Walking through Santana Row at night, the first thought in our heads was the cold, so if you plan to go, bundle up, or better yet bring someone you wouldn’t mind cuddling with. During this time of year the Row gets its Christmas spirit on—wreaths, lights, and trees are all decked and trimmed. The center piece of the whole display was the giant Christmas tree. Every year the tree is lit, an occasion that draws a huge crowd, and for the rest of the holiday season the tree stays up, a towering obelisk of Christmas merriness and festive revelries. However, the guise of good will and holiday greetings is easy to see through, as stores all around shamelessly hawk their over-priced merchandise. That said, if you plan on going, bring lots of spending money, because even the food is expensive. For all those who like to avoid odd glances and condescending stares, dress up, as you would for a party at a nice restaurant. We would definitely recommend checking out Santana Row if you are into window shopping, giant crowds, and lot of Christmas decorations. If not, you might want to consider other spots like Vasona Lake Park and its Fantasy of Lights Drive-Thru.

photos by staff writer vishal bajpai,,,,

16 Feature

The Smoke Signal

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Santa’s Dear Diary By Supriya Yelimeli Staff Writer

December 15, 2011 9:00 AM Another year came and went, and it looks like there’s only two weeks left until Christmas. It’s time for Milk and Cookie Drills, Naughty and Nice lists, and daily reindeer practices. I’ve decided this year to begin some sort of journal leading up to C-Day. Even though it’s a lot of hard work, I’m sure it will be a jolly good Christmas as usual!

December 17. 2011 3:00 PM Perfect, just what I needed. That Prancer has gotten it into his head that he isn’t as loved as Dancer, and he’s starting to have some serious self-esteem issues. I guess it doesn’t help that Rudolph is always running around acting like he’s better than everyone. Truth is, I only picked him because I thought he was his brother, Brodolph. What is up with that red nose anyway?

December, 16 2011 9:00 PM You know what’s irritating? Elves. There was a last-minute change on the list last year and they got their hands on an XBox. A few weeks ago one of them ordered Modern Elfare 3 and now it’s all they ever do. I keep overhearing things like “HA. I totally nuked that reinzombie” and it’s really putting a damper on my holiday spirit. How do I get them to work?

December 18, 2011 9:00 PM The hot chocolate machine malfunctioned today. I’m going to cancel Christmas.

December 19, 2011 12:00 AM I guess one thing is good about this stress. I can finally fit into my suit, and I must say, I look quite good. I got a new stylist today and my beard is looking whiter than ever. I’m pretty sure the missus noticed too.

December 21, 2011 6:00 PM Technology is going to be the end of me. I saw a commercial today for Santa Spy, some sort of camera that allows you to catch “Old Saint Nick” on the job. First of all, I am not that old, and second of all, why is everyone so intent on seeing me. Just let me do my job people. You don’t see me trying to catch, say, plumbers at work. It’s just weird.

December 23, 2011 3:00 AM So, tomorrow is the big day. I wish I could say everything worked out fine and Christmas is going to go great, but I don’t think I’m cut out for the job.

December 22, 2011 3:00 PM I swear, the interns get worse every year. I was lifting a box of reindeer treats today, and I know I’m not the fittest Santa in the world, but is it necessary to tweet a picture of how “ridonkulously red” my face is? I should have just listened to my mother and become a Computer Engineer. December 24, 2011 12:00 AM It’s game time. Everything worked out fine. The sleigh is locked and ready and the elves have the Project SANTA (Super Anonymous Nighttime Treat Association) all set to go. I’m going to start with Mochi Balls, work my way through rice cakes- I mean, I’m going to start with Japan and work my way across the globe. I hope all goes well.

December 26, 2011 12:00 AM Looks like it was another successful year. But these time zones always mess with my mind, I don’t know if I’m allowed to have jet-lag or not. Either way, I’m going to take a very, very, very long nap. I don’t complain a lot, but I sure do get the job done. Goodbye until next year! ▪,graphics by centerspread editor frank chen

Foreign Exchange Program By Angie Wang Graphics Editor

In September of 2010, Junior Tim Fordan applied for a scholarship from the Parliamentary Partnership Program (PPP), an organization that works with Germany's Congress to offer over 300 scholarships to students interested in traveling abroad. In March of 2011, Fordan found out that he had been selected to study in America. Fordan is one of many foreign exchange students studying around the world. Many global organizations such as Center for Cultural Interchange, Youth For Understanding, and Cultural Homestay International help students like Fordan find schools at which they are able to study and share cultural as well as social experiences. Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI): CCI has been sending American and Canadian high school students abroad for over 25 years. Its travel abroad program includes destination such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. CCI works with Greenheart Travel to bring students the only cultural exchanges organization that incorporates social and environmental awareness into its study abroad program. CCI is dedicated to organizing a program that is perfect for the student, giving the student a choice of a three-month, semester-long, or year-long program. The length of the program is one of the many important options students are offered. Youth For Understanding (YFU): In 1951, Rachel Andresen started the program now known as YFU in order to bridge the gap between Post-World War 2 United States and Germany. It was clear to Andresen that sending teenagers to live and learn abroad was the perfect way to close the

Coat Drive By Jason Chen Staff Writer

German foreign-exchange student Tim Fordan is Mission’s most recent foreign-exchange student. photo editor angie wang

distance between countries. Since then, YFU has worked to continue its global efforts. YFU is one of the world's oldest, largest, and most respected international educational exchange programs. YFU students are able to explore different perspectives of the ever-changing global community, a skill that will prepare them for the responsibilities that they will hold in the future. Cultural Homestay International (CHI): CHI is an educational organization founded to promote international understanding and goodwill through peopleto-people relations. In 1980, Tom and Lilka Areton decided to bring people of different cultures together by experiencing each others’ customs, languages, and values firsthand. CHI is one of the leaders of educational and cultural exchange fields in North America, helping young people open their eyes and minds to the values of volunteering, democracy, and freedom. CHI’s mission is to reveal the benefits of cultural interchange and its involvement in contributing to a more prosperous and peaceful world. ▪

The Christmas season is one of the most joyous times of the year for everyone. We are all excited about the gifts and breaks that await. However, for the 35,000 homeless living in the Bay Area, it is a time of suffering. With the temperature dropping by the day and the rain starting to fall, we all have coats to enjoy a warm winter. For the homeless, they have to endure a season of shivering in the rain. That’s why Peer Resource decided to team up with L2 to create the warm coat drive that ensures a warm, comfortable holiday season for the homeless people in the Bay Area. For the project, Peer Resource and L2 decided to collaborate with the One Warm Coat Foundation. The San Francisco based organization started in 1992 when a group of citizens decided to hold a local Thanksgiving coat drive. Since then, the organization teamed up with groups throughout North America and expanded rapidly. Groups across the nation work with the same goal: collecting coats to give to those in need, free of charge. One Warm Coat also hopes that by participating, people develop and nurture the spirit of volunteering and service. The organization dreams that in the future, coat drives will become a part of American lifestyle; when a coat is no longer needed, people will donate it and become warmed by the knowledge that their coats will go directly to children, women, and men in need. Since the organization’s creation, One Warm Coat has collected an impressive 3 million coats. MSJ hopes to add to that number by offering free coat check during Winter Ball to anybody that donates a coat. The idea of a coat drive at MSJ started several years ago. They are held every two

One of the One Warm Coat donation boxes around campus. staff writer jn peng

years and the last drive was held back in 2009-10. That drive yielded impressive results, but Peer Resource and L2 hope to break that record by a wide margin this year. Starting December 5, coats, sweaters, and other articles of outerwear can be dropped off at B33, N7, or the office. The drive will last until December 21, so there is still plenty of time to encourage all of your friends and classmates to make a difference in someone’s life by donating. Peer Resource and L2 encourage everyone to participate, according to Senior Mariya Waheed, a member of Peer Resource and L2, “We hope to help people realize how fortunate they are and donate to those in need in the spirit of the holidays.” To the students that have already donated a coat, Peer Resource and L2 are extremely appreciative of their efforts and thank them for displaying generosity and good will. ▪

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Smoke Signal

By Lindy Zeng Staff Writer

For many of us, winter break evokes images of sitting at home, cozying up on the sofa, and reading books. Why not take a break from this monotonous routine and hit the slopes? There’s no better time than now to start planning that Christmas trip to Lake Tahoe. This guide will help direct you through the planning for a successful vacation. Clothing Winter apparel is obviously important on the cold icy slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Plan to pack a hat, a scarf, long, thick socks, and waterproof gloves. Waterproof ski pants and a parka are worn over inner layers such as a sweater and long underwear. Bring a helmet and ski goggles to protect your head and eyes. High-quality apparel can be bought in sporting shops such as Big 5 and REI, and basic necessities such as socks can be found at essentially any clothing store. Equipment Rental Skiing and snowboarding are sports that use specialized equipment. Some resorts offer tickets, classes, and ski or board rental all packaged into one. There are various rental shops in the Bay Area, such as the Any Mountain store in Fremont. Another option is to stop by one of the many rental stores lining the streets of towns near Lake Tahoe. Tahoe Dave’s Skis and Boards is one such shop located in Kings Beach, Squaw Valley, Truckee, and Tahoe City. The rental process is easy. One must sim-

Heavenly is one of the most heavily visited ski resorts.

ply complete a form asking questions such as shoe size, weight, height, and skill level. Assistants bring out equipment that can be worn to ensure comfort and safety. Resorts Lake Tahoe is home to many ski resorts, ranging from the small family-run business to places as large as Squaw Valley USA, host of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Listed next are several beginner-friendly ski resorts. •Mt. Rose: A portion of this park offers wide-terrain and two chairlifts for beginning skiers and snowboarders. There is plenty of room to navigate the trails safely. Visit www. for more information. •Soda Springs: This place is extremely beginner friendly with 80 percent of the terrain for novice- and intermediate- level skiers. For more information, visit www.skisodasprings. com. •Tahoe Donner: With 60 percent of its

trails rated intermediate and 40 percent rated novice, this small park is fun to explore. For trail maps and more info, visit •Donner Ski Ranch: Another small resort with a less crowded “back mountain,” it is easily accessible to those of intermediate level and beyond. Visit •Boreal: This is one of the closest resorts to the Bay Area. You ski here during the evening due to the on-mountain night-lighting fixtures for an interesting experience. Visit for opening and closing hours. •Northstar at Tahoe: A large park with half-pipes, restaurants, and on-site lodging. has more information to offer. •Squaw Valley USA: There is over 4,000 acres of skiable terrain, with difficulties ranging from beginner runs to advanced trails such as the Lady’s Olympic Downhill. Visit Lessons Every ski resort offers lessons to people of all ages, from cheaper group lessons to oneon-one private lessons. There may be special packages that include rental as well. It all depends on the ski resort that you choose. Ticket Sales Tickets can be purchased at the resort, but it is much more economically wise to buy tickets in advance at places such as Sports Basement, Costco, and REI. However, the ticket price may be included in the lesson

By Anjali Kanthilal Staff Writer

By Nihar Parikh Staff Writer

Marred by months of lockout, fans were prepared for a disappointing National Football League season. But with its surprise success stories and strong play, this season has been anything but lackluster. The teams that will most likely be playing in the postseason do not reflect the experts’ initial picks but definitely will prove to provide an exciting and competitive winter for fans. Possibly the most unanticipated storyline was the emergence of the Bay Area’s own San Francisco 49ers. After going 6-10 last year, most analysts didn’t expect much from a very similar personnel group even after the acquisition of former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. But exactly the opposite would be true as Harbaugh proved to be the one change the team needed to finally rise above their dismal performances of previous years. The team is now sitting with 10 wins and has already locked in a playoff position as the winners of the NFC West division. Harbaugh has coached the once struggling quarterback Alex Smith to his best year as a pro, so far throwing 15 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. The defense, led by Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator at Stanford Vic Fangio, has allowed the fewest points per game and the fewest opposing rushing yards of any team. Due to their soft schedule ahead, the Niners will most likely secure a first round bye and home field advantage for the second round, making a spot in the NFC championship game a real possibility. Across the bay, the Oakland Raiders have also played a surprisingly solid season, even

Carson Palmer and the Raiders will be in a tight playoff fight till the finish

Harbaugh and Smith have made the 49ers the team to beat in the West.

with a couple key mid-season injuries. After losing quarterback Jason Campbell and star running back Darren McFadden to injuries, the Raiders’ staff proved their adaptability by quickly signing former Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Carson Palmer. He has posted a 3-3 record as a starter, solid numbers considering his recent acquisition. At 7-6, the Raiders could work their way into a postseason spot, but they will have to play more consistently to regain their lead in the AFC West over the rising Denver Broncos or to secure a wild-card position. As of Week 14, only the unbeaten Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers, the New Orleans Saints, and the Houston Texans have secured playoff positions. The New York Giants only hold a slim lead in the East over the Dallas Cowboys, who are competing against the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Atlanta Falcons for the two wild-card spots. In the AFC, the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens have almost locked in their positions as division leaders, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have virtually secured a wild-card position with their 10-3 record. The AFC West is still up for grabs with the Raiders chasing the Broncos, which further muddles the already large field for the wild-card spots. With the Niners and Raiders boasting both strong play and records, this postseason is looking to be very exciting for fans. The teams are full of young talent and emerging players, so we just might be on the brink of a new promising era in Bay Area football. ▪

On December 8, the Girls’ Soccer team traveled almost an hour and a half away to play a preseason game against Deer Valley in Antioch. Though they lost 0-2, they showed all their skills and how well they work together as a team. For the majority of the game, the ball was on the opponents’ side. Defenders Junior Taylor Garden and Sophomore Ashley Hsu kept the ball in the offensive half, while Goalie and Captain Junior Kylie Moltzen made some tough saves. Whenever there was a one-on-one, she was not afraid to step out, tackle the player, and steal the ball. Unfortunately, the Wolverines didn’t give in; they refused to let the Warriors score. Forwards Sophomore Juliana McCuaig, Freshman Sharan Singh, and Senior Marcela Chinn had impressive shots on goal, but one after another, the opponents’ defense would stop the ball. The other team

By Angie Wang Graphics Editor

At the start of the new school year, Senior Sida Lu, head of L2’s Sports Committee, sat down with the ASB Officers to discuss new ideas that the Sports committee could implement. “I realized that MSJ lacked the intramural sports that students played at Hopkins Junior High School, easy-to-play sports that get the student body interested. After a little bit of research and discussion, we decided that Ultimate Frisbee is easiest to learn and play at an amateur level,” Lu says. Sports Committee members Junior Allison Cho, Senior Gigi Hsu, and Senior Anurag Reddy worked with Lu to plan the tournament. The tournament was a double elimination tournament, with both a “winners bracket” and a “losers bracket.” Teams that continued to win would play in the winners bracket. The winners of this bracket, Team FBGM, consisting of Seniors Stephen Eng, Justin Chen, William Kim, Ning Jeng, Omar ElSadany, Vincent Tian, Kenny Chin, Binjih Lin, and Kevin Sheu, earned 40 percent of the total amount collected in entry fees. Teams that lost games dropped down to the

Sports 17

package, so plan accordingly by doing some more research. Safety Safety is an important issue in all sports. For skiing and snowboarding, learning general safety concepts can prevent life-threatening injuries. Always wear a helmet. Ski helmets can be rented or bought at many sporting shops. Also, slather on the sunscreen on exposed parts of the body such as the face and neck because snow reflects the sun’s rays. It’s best to carry a backpack with a cell phone or walkie-talkie, a snack, and water inside. The snow, no matter how clean it looks, should not be eaten. Keep a map of the park handy in case of unfamiliarity with the trails. Always be on the look-out for incoming skiers or snowboarders, and stay in control. Planning in advance is the best way to ensure a pleasurable ski experience. What better time to start preparation than now? Hope to see you on the slopes! ▪


Ski helmets are a very important part of staying safe on the slopes.

started becoming overly physical and ended up getting a yellow card which granted MSJ a free kick. During the first half, MSJ had two slipups that resulted in the two Wolverine goals near the beginning of the game, but overall, MSJ had the stronger performance. MSJ started to pick up the pace in the second half, leading to a rough but fair game. The last 40 minutes remained a 0-0 tie. Moltzen says, “Even though we lost, I think that preseason is really the time to start to get to know your team and start to figure how you are going to help the team out. We have a lot of potential on our team and this season will be a good one if we can adjust to each others strengths and work on our weaknesses together.” Girls’ Soccer is definitely a sport to watch this season. League games are usually every Tuesday and Thursday, so be sure to come out and support the team and show your MSJ spirit! ▪

losers bracket but still had the chance to play against fellow “loser” teams. The teams in this bracket competed to see which team could earn back its entry fee and walk away as the “winning loser”. The remaining money will be put in the Sports fund for future Sports Assembly activities. During the finals game, Team FBGM played against Team Browntown and won 3 to 2. Valuable players from FBGM include Senior Kevin Sheu, who is known for his exceptional defense, as well as Senior Stephen Eng, who was deemed MVP for his spectacular overall performance. Senior Shashank Agrawal, from Team Browntown, was also an outstanding player overall, excelling in both throwing and catching. This year, 10 teams played in the tournament, adding up to about 90 students, of all different grade levels. “Our goal was to introduce something new and to get many students involved, and the intramural tournament definitely accomplished both of those goals. We hope that our hard work this year will set a nice foundation for future Sports Committees,” says Lu. ▪

18 Sports

The Smoke Signal

By Sanjna Shukla and Omar El-Sadany Sports Editors

BCS or BS? The BCS National Championship Game is supposed to be the ultimate contest, a final competition that brings the two premier collegiate football teams in the country to determine America’s National Champion. But does it? Unlike its sporting counterparts at the professional or the collegiate level, NCAA Division I-A Football, the highest level of college athletics, does not employ a playoff system to determine its national champion. Rather, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), a separate selection entity, determines the final standings based on a combination of human polling and computer rankings. The top two teams in the final BCS polls square off in the National Championship, with the ranking system acting as a surrogate for the standard playoff system. Based on their position in the BCS standings, the remaining top ranked teams compete in other BCS Bowl games, the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Orange Bowl. The BCS ranking system has faced criticism and complaints since its installation in 1998 on the basis of its subjectivity and its inability, in many observers’ eyes, to truly bring the two best teams together for the most crucial game of the year. This year

Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and the rest of the Broncos have been the object of controversy at the hand of the BCS.

further shed light on the inefficiency of the system. While undefeated LSU (12-0), No. 1 in the BCS standings, was a clear choice to participate in the National Championship, four teams, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Boise State, only suffered one loss throughout the season, leaving question marks on the parity of a system that would have to distinguish between different teams with the exactly same record, teams that had not faced each other, further complicating matters. While Stanford and Boise State were not considered contenders for the championship, due to their participation in a supposedly lesser conference, the race between Oklahoma State and Alabama for the No. 2 spot in the nation eventually boiled down to the last week of the season. With both teams finishing the season with one loss,

it was up to the combination of the computer rankings and the human polls, which consist of votes from both the media and head coaches, to distinguish between two seemingly identical teams. While Oklahoma State came out on top in the computer ranking, due to its strength of schedule and the fact that it won its conference, Alabama won the human vote, with supporters citing its only loss at the hands of LSU, the No.1 team in the country, while Oklahoma State’s lone defeat came at the hands of the lowly unranked Iowa State. Eventually Alabama’s success in the human polls edged it past Oklahoma State, and as a result they will be facing LSU in the National Championship on Jan. 9. Furthermore, another issue that this year’s bowl game selections revealed was the inherent conference bias. Although both Stanford and Boise State finished with one loss, Stanford will play in a bowl game, while Boise State was not selected. Even West Virginia with three losses chosen ahead of the Broncos. Boise State plays in the Mountain West Conference, and as a result does not hold as much weight as schools that participate in the Pac-12, the SEC, or the Big-12. This year’s controversial events are not anomalies; rather they are a continuation of the disturbing trends that the ranking system propagates. By substituting a playoff system with the current ranking method, the NCAA risks losing the inherent beauty of sports-the fact that on any given day, any team can win. By limiting the game

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

to numbers and figures and human prediction, the BCS is taking away from college football everything that fans love about the sport. In the 2010-11 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers began the playoffs as a wild card team, riding their momentum to overcome higher-ranked teams. Every year, NCAA March Madness offers countless upsets with “Cinderella” teams overcoming teams that were subjectively ranked higher. UConn, the eventual champion, was not seeded as the No. 1 team in the country. As a result, the BCS system must undergo further examination, and be subject to heavy duty changes that will bring some sort of playoff system- the only fair way to truly distinguish between teams that have very little to compare between them, with widely different schedules, conferences, and opponents. The old adage goes something along the lines of “Football games aren’t won on paper.” But with the current BCS system, to an extent, they are.▪

LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and the rest of the Tigers will square off against the Alabama Crimson Tide on January 9 for the National Championship.

Captain’s Corner: Boys’ Basketball By Vishak Menon Staff Writer

staff writer rachel choi

Senior Captains Param Bhatter and Vishal Shea bring experience and leadership to the Varsity Boys’ Basketball team.

By Jonathon Teng Staff Writer

Acquiring the title of captain on any sports team comes with both respect and much responsibility. With the basketball season just beginning, the Smoke Signal had the opportunity to speak with the captains of the MSJ Varsity Boys’ Basketball Team, Seniors Param Bhatter and Vishal Shea. Smoke Signal: As captain, how do you try motivating the team? Vishal Shea: I motivate the team by keeping the practices interesting; by varying the drills, by making them more challenging and more fun. I motivate the team by telling them they are important because, without them, the team cannot succeed. I tell them to be positive and I let them know what is expected of them as team players. SS: What roles do you think you have that the coach shouldn’t deal with? VS: Well, I have to make sure the team always play its hardest so that we will games. Also, when we lose, I have to make sure that no one has his head down and tell them we have to move on to the next game. SS: What’s your goal for the basketball team this year? Param Bhatter: This year is really a developing season for the team, as we have a really young team. We are mostly going out in games and trying to compete by giving the underclassmen more experience in games, which will help them mature and grow more confident in their abilities. We hope

that once the season comes around in January we will be able and mentally prepared to take on opponents in MVAL and hopefully break a .500 winning percentage this year. SS:What’s your favorite part of being a captain? PB: The best part of being a captain is definitely the respect that you are given from your teammates and coaches. Whenever a decision needs to made, or a motivational speech in the locker room is given, you are the one to do it. You feel like an integral part of the team by keeping the entire team in sync, on task, and responsible so it is able to function as one cohesive unit. SS: You lost six seniors last year. How will you cope with those losses and try to achieve with this young team? PB: With all the seniors we lost, we are looking for current seniors to step up and replace their spots, and continue to thrive and flourish. We also hope that our preseason schedule, in which we play many games, provides the underclassmen plenty of opportunity to mentally prepare themselves for the game at a Varsity level. The pace of the game for Varsity basketball is much faster, making it much tougher, and the only way to completely understand this is through experience. By having the underclassmen become more familiar with the level of the game, and having our returners step up, we hope to compete and win many games in league this year. ▪

For years MSJ Wrestling has been respected as one of the toughest teams on campus. The hours of grueling practice and conditioning it undergoes translate to outstanding performances at tournaments throughout their league and beyond. Led by their long time head coach Athletics Director Tom Thomsen, MSJ wrestlers have placed high in both NCS and State level competitions over the past several years. Thomsen, who came from a family of wrestlers, excelled throughout high school and into the college level. His coaching helps impart a sense of determination and perseverance which is found at the heart of the MSJ wrestling team. Day after day the team can be seen hard at work in the wrestling room. With the help of Thomsen and other assistant coaches, returning wrestlers drill and learn more advanced moves, while first-time freshman and sophomore participants go through more instruction to learn the many takedowns, escapes, and other techniques to be employed during a match. After losing six seniors, the team is looking to stay strong under Senior Captains

Will Booth, David Kim, and Corbin Lee, all of whom went to NCS the previous season and look to lead the team to further victories. Already the varsity team has gotten off to a successful start. On December 3-4 at the Newark Ironman Tournament/Invitational, they ended with a 3-2 record with wins over College Park, Saratoga, and Los Gatos. The following day at the invitational, Booth, Kim, and Lee all came home champions with 1st place finishes alongside a 3rd place finish for Junior Vinay Pathania and 4th place finish for Junior Alex Dornfest. The JV team has also excelled thus far having competed at the Haystack tournament held at Hayward High School on Dec ember 4. 21 MSJ wrestlers placed in the top four of their respective brackets, many of them freshman who were wrestling at their first tournament. The team as a whole will continue to practice hard and prepare for their upcoming tournaments and into league competition. But according to Coach Thomsen, hard work is where it all starts. He says, “My expectation for the team is for every varsity wrestler to qualify for NCS. Hopefully through practice and drilling everyone will get better in matches and as a team. Meeting these goals is the only way we can continue to develop and improve.” ▪

staff writer catherine ho

Coach Thomsen has high hopes for the wrestling team this season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Smoke Signal

Sports 19

Infamous Sports Scandals By Kenny Jacoby Staff Writer

If you’ve been anywhere near a TV in the last month and a half, you are probably aware of the recent sex abuse allegations at both Penn State and Syracuse University. Between former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and former Syracuse basketball coach Bernie Fine, a total of 11 boys have come out making claims of child molestation that date as far back as 1984.

Former Penn State Football Coach Jerry Sandusky lost his job as a result of his actions off the field.

Granted, neither of these cases have yet gone to court, but for the number of potential victims, it is hard to imagine that either could be completely false. Not to mention that Sandusky admitted to having showered with the young boys and a recorded phone conversation involving Fine’s wife revealed that she had concerns about her husband possibly raping the team’s ball boy. Both coaches have been fired, but the horrific effects of both scandals are still lingering around their respective campuses. Because both of the allegations became public at roughly the same time, many people don’t recognize the magnitude of the events that

supposedly took place at the two universities. So how do these scandals stack up with some of the previous biggest scandals in sports? 1. O.J. Simpson: O.J. Simpson was a superstar runningback in the NFL, who still holds many records today. In 1994, almost a decade since being elected to the NFL Hall of Fame, Simpson was charged with the murder of his wife and her friend. After failing to turn himself in, Simpson got into the infamous Ford Bronco Highway chase with the police. Against all odds, Simpson was found not guilty in his court trial. He went on to publish the book If I Did It, describing how and why he could not have killed his wife and friend, though many people still believe he is guilty. 2. Munich Olympics: During the 1972 Summer Olympics, the Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September kidnapped and killed 11 athletes and coaches from the Israeli Olympic Team, as well as a West German police officer. At the time, 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs had been jailed in Israel, and the terrorists demanded that the prisoners be released, or else they would continue their rampage. Five of the eight kidnappers were killed on a failed rescue attempt, and the other three were captured but later released by West Germany after other Black September members hijacked a German aircraft. 3. Steroids in MLB: In 2003, the steroid era of the MLB began when the United States

Anti-Doping Agency discovered performance-enhancing supplements being sent to players, that were traced back to BALCO Labs. BALCO had been supplying these steroids to some of the MLB’s greatest players, including Barry Bonds. Many baseball greats since have been revealed to have used steroids, including Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens, and more. 4. The Black Sox: In 1919, eight members of the Chicago White Sox can legitimately be blamed for their team’s loss in the World Series. They had intentionally thrown World Series games in exchange for bribes from professional gamblers looking to turn a huge profit on the games. These eight players received lifetime bans from the MLB, and were from then on known as the Black Sox. 5. Tiger Woods: Two years ago, the pristine image of the former number-one golfer in the world was shattered when the secret of his adultery with multiple mistresses was uncovered. He and Elin Nordegren quickly got a divorce, and Woods announced his indefinite hiatus from professional golf. Since the scandal, Woods has had only one first place finish in any tournament and has dropped to 52 in the world rankings. 6. Pete Rose: Pete Rose was a baseball great; he holds the seemingly unbreakable record of 4,256 hits over his career—the most by any player in MLB history. In 1989 Rose was permanently banned from the MLB,

Tiger Woods’s negative publicity affected his performance on the course.

after it was discovered that Rose had been betting on baseball games all throughout his career, including those that he had played in. It was not until 2004 that Rose finally confessed. The Penn State and Syracuse scandals were not dealt with appropriately when they were first discovered, and thus, the alleged assaults continued to happen for years. Had they been assessed properly, numerous young children could have been spared the horrors of what they endured. For this reason, the Penn State and Syracuse scandals are in their own separate league for sports scandals. Never before in sports history has such an atrocious occurrence happened, let alone twice. Because of these incidents, innocent boys’ lives will be scarred forever. When the two scandals are all said and done, they will go down as likely the worst in the history of sports. ▪

Photo 20

The Smoke Signal

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

photos by staff writer hannah shih, courtesy grace wu,

Vol. XLVII Vol. 4  

december issue