ISSUE “I AM MAD AND BLACK AND A WOMAN.” —–Character from Diary of a Mad Black Woman VINCENT CHAVEZ
GABE FERREIRA MARCO BELTRAN MELISSA CASAS
News Director Music Editor
WES VERNER Literature Editor
COLLEEN BROWN Culture Editor
ROSE FEDUK Comics Editor
DUCHESS OF SPAIN Grunion Editor
GABE FERREIRA Art Director/Cover
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Photo Editor/Cover Photo
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VINCENT CHAVEZ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
LETTERS TO AND FROM THE EDITOR
VIN’S TWO ’CENTS
Contributors: JOSEPH PHILLIPS, KEVIN NG, CAMILLE HOVE, SIERRA PATHEAL, WES YOUNG, LILI DOVE, AMY PATTON, BEN KIM, KRISTEN DESMOND, ALLEN TOLKOFF, ASHLIE BONSER, JOHNNY OSKAM, FELICITY LANDA, ADAM LEVINE, KRISTIN CONNELLY, MIKE CLELAND, JOSEPH FLORES, IRENE THAISS, KRISTIN DELFS, GENEVA TRELEASE, MAXIMILIAN MARES, ANTHONY NGET, RACHEL CLARE, MICHAEL WOOD, TYLER DEAN, TYRE JONES Disclaimer and Publication Information
The Union Weekly is published using ad money and partial funding provided by the Associated Students, Inc. All Editorials are the opinions of the Union Weekly, not ASI, or CSULB. All students are welcome and encouraged to be a part of the Union Weekly staff. All letters to the editor will be considered for publication. However, CSULB students will have precedence. Please include name, major, class standing, and phone number for all submissions. They are subject to editing and will not be returned. Letters may or may not be edited for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and length. The Union Weekly will publish anonymous letters, articles, editorials and illustrations, but must have your name and information attached for our records. Letters to the editor should be no longer than 500 words. The Union Weekly assumes no responsibility, nor is it liable, for claims of its advertisers. Grievance procedures are available in the Associated Students business office.
Questions? Comments? Crumpers?! Mail: 1212 Bellflower Blvd., Suite 116, Long Beach,CA 90815 Phone: 562.985.4867 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.lbunion.com
ey handsomes, any big news lately? Well, I’m going to have to stop you right there, because my news is bigger. That’s right, I’m pregnant. No, I’m just joshing you. Despite my child bearing hips, fierce maternal instincts, and vast collection of nipple cream, I’m just your average Joe/certified biological male. You see, what I’m pregnant with is rage. And though my rage is usually against the machine, like our dumbass printer that picks and chooses which computers it will print from or the office television who I constantly hear talking behind my back, this week, I take all kinds of issue with the assholes messing with our newsstands.
Culprit number one are the jackasses behind the No on 30, Yes on 38 fliers that were slapped on the front of our stands last week. First off, if you want to place an advertisement, you have to pony up the dough like everyone else. Ink ain’t cheap, you know? Secondly, we released a voting guide which detailed our arguments supporting Prop 30 and denouncing Prop 38. Why anyone who is pro-38 would think to advertise on a college campus (this measure focuses its funding to K-12 education and completely ignores community colleges and public universities) is beyond me. Thirdly, the schmuck who wrote the flier didn’t even take the time to copyedit this mess (here are my favorite fuck-ups: “Stop Being Manipulated and Threaten by California Politicians” and “Prop 38 would sends money direct to schools”). Simply unprofessional. And to top it all off, the flier is ugly. Ugly as sin, I tell you. We also had an incident last week
involving large quantities of our paper disappearing. Apparently, the stands near the Nugget were virtually empty by Monday afternoon. Now, unless CSULB has a massive underground Satanist population (Go Beast!) or last week’s Sedoku was freakishly popular, I think we had a perturbed group on campus dumping our issues. I won’t point any fingers, but we all know it was the Christians. That is a joke. But is it? Yes, it is. We have no way of definitively knowing who trashed our issues, but as a precaution, our senior editor has graciously volunteered to stake out in the shrubs closest to the Nugget and body slam any and all suspicious characters. So, to the punks that snatched our issues, stay off our turf unless you want a mouthful of Marco bod. Best Wishes and Soft Kisses,
UNION FEQ: FREQUENTLY EMAILED QUESTIONS In the spirit of my rant and threatlaced intro letter, I’ve decided to simultaneously throw some shade at the writers and illustrators who have been stingy with their art and address some of the frequently emailed questions (FEQ©) I’ve received regarding our contributing process. Here we go: If I can’t make the open meetings, what should I do? And if the answer is to “go hug a dick,” well then, the jokes on you because I don’t do that anymore. If you can’t make the open meetings, email is your best bet. Email the editor of the section you’re interested in writing for. If you don’t know which page your story should go, just email me or one of our managing editors and we’ll find the proper home for it.
Do I need to formally apply to contribute to the paper? Because that’s something I’m not prepared to do, as I am a busy person with a full life. In fact, I’ll probably have to abruptly stop writing this emai No, we do not have a formal application process. If you want to be a part of our paper, here’s how our process works: you have an idea, you write it, you send it, we like it, we publish it. Simple. Also, we welcome people of all kinds of commitment levels. Contributors, staffers, future editors, it’s all cool with us, baby. I’m not a journalism major. Does this mean I can’t write for the Union and we’ll never meet and eventually fall in love? I had my heart set on all that happening.
The Union, since its inception, has never been affiliated with the journalism department. We’re all about creative freedom here, always have been always will be. The only section of our paper that adheres to a journalistic standard of writing is the News page. Moreover, we accept majors of all shapes and sizes. Our staff includes students from the international studies, English, German, and industrial design departments. More than anything, I want to read your stories. I want to know what bands inspire you creatively, which films formed your personality as a child, or why every time you read your favorite book, it still shatters you. All I ask is that you write something you’re proud of, and then have the confidence to submit your work for brutal judgment.
QUICK, WRITE ME A NOVEL
NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH INSPIRES CREATIVE MINDS TO CRANK OUT AN ENTIRE NOVEL IN A MONTH SIERRA PATHEAL UNION STAFFER
ttention all novelists! Have you written your first 8,330 words yet? What? You don’t know what those 8,000 words refer to or why you should go to the trouble of carving the time out of your busy schedule to write them? Well, never fear. I’m here to answer both of those questions. Thursday, November 1 marked the first day of National Novel Writing Month, termed NaNoWriMo for short and NaNo for shorter, a nation-wide (and, to a more limited extent, international) effort to write at least 50,000 words in the space of a month. Sound crazy? It is, but it’s wonderful, too. NaNo began in 1999, when 21 friends in the Bay Area decided, for reasons vaguely indecipherable but quite intriguing to me, each to write a novel in the space of a month. According to the history page for the project, they don’t quite know why they were doing it, either. But something happened that they hadn’t expected: They had fun. “We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process,” according to
the website, “and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.” And that, I find, is a great description for the process itself. Is it high literary writing? Not exactly. And yet, it’s exhilarating, exciting, and invigorating, and it turns a deservingly daunting task into something theoretically achievable and wickedly fun. The central goal of NaNo, as it has evolved, is to turn off your inner editor and just write. It’s the extreme side of the plan-it/pants-it debate (i.e., do you plan your scenes down to the color of the drapes and the length of the protagonist’s penis, or do you plant your pants-clothed butt in the chair and channel whatever’s crashing around in your brain?), and even for planners and perfectionists like me—or possibly especially for us—it’s a whirlwind of an experience. Once you’re done, you can edit all you see fit—and you’ll actually have something to tear apart rather than stopping, getting discouraged, and moving on to another project—but the inner editor has both
the right and the responsibility to remain silent until December 1. Or maybe you’ll just set the novel to the side, never to be addressed again, and go on with a shuddering sigh of relief come December. That’s okay, too. That’s what happened to my last NaNo project—an 83,000-word mess sloppily detailing the adventures of a tomboyish princess and a cantankerous dragon—and it’s perfectly acceptable. Because the product isn’t what counts. It’s the process, and the process is, believe me, enlightening. Which isn’t to say I’ve given up entirely on creating a salvageable product. My goal this year, whether or not I hit the 50,000 word mark, is to come up with an
editable, usable something—preferably, a long-usable something. My justification: any time NaNo forces me to spend with my stories instead of with my schoolwork can’t be wasted if I actually do more than clutter my flash drive with it, right? Right? Okay, so maybe that’s a faulty argument. But the ones recommending NaNo aren’t. It’s a great experience, and I heartily urge you to give it a try—you won’t regret it afterward, although you may be ready to shoot me sometime between now and the 30th. That’s okay. I’ll be ready to shoot me, too, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. It’s November 5th, which means I’m already 4,000 words behind. Let’s get to writing, shall we?
SRI LANKA ON OUR MINDS CSULB’S GSA GOES ALL A STUDENT GROUP HELPS THOSE LIVING IN POVERTY OUT WITH OUTRAGEOUS JOSEPH PHILLIPS
CHECK OUT THE QUEER VARIETY SHOW ON NOV. 8
The Social Business Student Association is about to break new ground this year as it works towards giving back to the people of Sri Lanka. This island nation off the coast of India is in need of development that is both sustainable and whose investment is not in profit but in the bettering of humanity. A mixture of students, faculty, and community members, Social Business is about bringing people together in a global sense. Doctor Unna Lassiter of the Geography Department has the goal of uplifting the arts and designs of the Sri Lankan people in order to market an exportable good to the whole world. This is not a bad idea, chiefly because the creation of an artisan class helps to ease the hardships of groups formerly living in extreme poverty. What the group is working on is not to sell the goods, but to create the means by which the average Sri Lankan can make a living. To bridge the needed partnership, Social Business has formed good relations with the Sri Lankan Consul General in Los Angeles. Through the Consul, they will not only gain advice on how to help out, but will also gain knowledge of a population relatively unknown to citizens of the United States. On a more personal level, both Sri
Lanka Consul Sidath Kumar and Consul General Hector Weerasinghe will be on campus on November 19 to speak on matters of trade opportunities and the country’s political situation. This event will begin at 11 a.m. and is open to all students and interested parties. This event is perfect for those in the business field, as well as political science or international studies majors. Apart from the presentation, the event will also be a good time to research the student exchange program offered to and from Sri Lanka. Dr. Lassiter spoke of the Social Business Student Association as the “Stanford of the South,” a reference to the social business programs offered there. As a university we have been offered an opportunity to do great things with the new relationships we have forged with Sri Lanka. I believe that this group has the potential to carry their potential to the next step, namely offering sustainable development to a nation in need. There are projects that are still in development, and all ideas are welcome. If you are interested in joining a movement that can truly make a difference in this world, then make sure to attend the group’s meetings every Thursday in USU 306 at 12 p.m.
ANTHONY NGET CONTRIBUTOR
It has never been my intention to shove my “gayness” down anyone’s throat, although it does set up a pretty good ‘that’s what he said’ joke. It’s a simple fact. I am gay and I am a student of this campus. There is an irrational fear that by supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) community, you become gay by association. Surprisingly, this isn’t true! Watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race did not make me want to pick up a dress, which I assure you would not be a pretty sight. My legs are just too hairy. The same way that watching Madea’s Family Reunion did not make me black, although it made me want to wear a dress just to let Tyler Perry know how ridiculous he looks. I admit that analogy is a bit of a stretch, but it’s important to acknowledge how you construct your own identity. I am gay, but I am also a student. I have the same concerns as most students. I have to deal with midterms, rising tuition, and avoiding the seat next to the guy with smelly farts in my Monday night class. I also have concerns you may not have. At times I’m afraid for my safety. At times I’m afraid that I don’t get the respect of my
peers because of my sexuality. At times I’m afraid of commitment, but that’s a story my ex can tell you later. It is very unfortunate, but it is true that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable with their sexual identity. I’ve encountered more than a few people on this campus too scared to come out to their friends. This is what I want to change. I know I can’t do that with one smug article, but it’s a start. Visibility is key; to achieve this, CSULB’s Gay Straight Alliance will be hosting an event called OUTrageous, a Queer variety show on Thursday, November 8. The show will feature a variety of acts from stand up to drag performances, from bands to spoken word. The goal is to have a variety of performances that reflect the diversity of the LGBT community. The show is from 8 to 10 p.m. at the USU Beach Auditorium and is only $5 suggested donation. I challenge you, if for whatever reason you have been hesitant to support, to seize this chance now. I ask of you to come and support my community. You will always be welcome. UNION WEEKLY
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DEGREE SELECTION SHOULD BE BASED ON INTEREST, NOT INJUNCTION SIERRA PATHEAL UNION STAFFER
was talking to a girl over dinner the other night, whom I will call for the space of this article Danielle, and she mentioned that she was planning on declaring a microbiology minor next semester. Intrigued, I asked why. I, personally,would be more willing to cut off my hand with a rusty saw than to purposefully subject myself to microbiology, but liking it isn’t unheard of, and I have eternal respect for people who do. “Oh, my mom says I have to,” she shrugged, taking a resigned bite of her burrito. “She says there’s jobs there.” Okay, I’ll admit, her mom is onto something there. Microbiologists make, according to the stereotype at least, way more money than English majors, and I don’t hear much about the dearth of jobs in the sector. But there’s something deeply wrong with this situation.
ROSE FEDUK COMICS EDITOR
The girl I was talking to hates microbiology. She’s already majoring in science—also partially due to her mother’s wishes—and she looked utterly depressed at the idea of taking the courses required to achieve a major in microbiology, let alone the work which would come afterward. Maybe I’m not a good role model when it comes to major selection. I went a little crazy when I came to college, declaring two different English majors, a writing certificate, a Math minor, and a German minor within the space of two years, (and yes, I’m still planning on finishing all of them.) But there’s a serious difference between my bizarre conglomeration of degree objectives and Danielle’s unwilling minor: I wanted to learn the subjects of my degrees, and I still do. College isn’t the first step in a formulaic pattern entitled “The Path to Jobs.” Just look
at the struggles recent college graduates have finding high-paying entry-level jobs and you’ll see what I mean; if a job is all you’re coming to college for, unless you really like that microbio minor your mom made you declare, you’re probably out of luck. College, at least as it was explained to me, is supposed to be more than that. It’s supposed to be a place to explore your interests, to take courses you never knew you were interested in, and to discover new sides of yourself— to become more like that mythical creature, the well-rounded student. If your hiring committee at Boeing asks why you majored in engineering and you say, “I wanted to get a good job, but I hated every single class and I hate my dad for saying I couldn’t major in art,” you’re probably not going to get that callback any time soon. Moreover, you probably won’t want it. Guess what? If you hated every class required
to get your degree, you’re probably not going to enjoy the work after graduation, either. College shouldn’t be about struggling through classes you hate in order to achieve a job that drives you crazy for years afterward, no matter what number’s on the paycheck. College should be about determining what you actually want to do with your life. Figuring out a profitable career can come afterward. College is for exploration and—surprise!—education, not following prescribed patterns and adhering to arbitrary decrees, parental or otherwise. I’m not saying you shouldn’t major in microbiology, not by any means. I have crazy respect for the people who want to. But that’s just the thing—you have to want to. If you hate what you’re doing already, consider getting out of it and figuring out what you actually want to do. Unless I miss my guess, you’ll be grateful later that you did it now.
FROM PORT TO SHINING PORT AIRPORTS AND PORTLAND: LANDS OF OPPORTUNITY RACHEL CLARE UNION STAFFER
I love airports the way that some people love sleep. There’s a certain sense of comfort that accompanies tucking myself into terminal gift shops and flipping through airline tickets, as if they’re bedtime stories with life advice slipped between seat numbers and boarding times. This sense of the unknown, of excited possibility, swells in our stomachs and hums through the air. I always find intrigue in the way people handle the transient nature of the airport: the seasoned business trip veterans with laptop briefcases, the tired parents coaxing children to quiet down with overpriced
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candy bars and airport McDonald’s, the folks convinced that the TSA is on a mission to ruin their lives at each and every turn. Eyes meet and lives intersect before we step off to partake in our own pre-determined trips—a wedding or a funeral, relocation to a new home, or perhaps just an escape from the everyday normality of life. I spent the last weekend in Portland, where elderly women rock the raddest of stellar blue hair and the rain mists and pours as often as the sun hangs about in the lovely LBC. Everyone says thank you for everything, and pedestrians have the
ultimate right of way. Seriously. If you’re even approaching a crosswalk, drivers are required by law to let you stroll on through before they continue along their way. It probably triples the driving time for anyone cruising through downtown, but at least pedestrians don’t have to worry about getting run down by the reckless drivers of SoCal notoriety. And the same goes for biking enthusiasts; bike lanes are aplenty, there’s always a place to lock up your ecofriendly transportation, and the scenery is pretty damn beautiful this time of year. Maybe I was just thankful for a few days to
break from our endless heat wave, or perhaps it was just the chance to set aside school and obligations for a weekend, but Portland was as welcoming a city as any for a brief getaway. Taking the time to actually absorb and appreciate a new city and a different pace of life truly makes all the difference. Wherever your next venture takes you, whether from airport to airport or from your garage to the interstate, make it fantastic. Sample the best of the local eats, slip into a used bookstore, and keep an open heart on hand. You never know what you’ll find when you reach your next destination.
CHANGE YOU CAN’T BELIEVE IN THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE SCREWS THE FRINGE VOTE MICHAEL WOOD UNION STAFFER
It’s coming up. It’s been all over the news, in every newspaper, all over the internet, and in nearly every advertisement. It’s election season in the United States and we at the Union Weekly have been working hard to cover this monumental occasion in which Americans pick the next leader of their country, the next congress, and weigh in on a variety of issues very deep to the character of their respective states. However, there is one thing missing. In the countless hours of news coverage, one topic seems to have escaped pundits, writers, and the electorate alike: our electoral system is broken. Not only has this system completely and utterly failed to represent the will of the American people, but has time and time again ignored a great many American voters out there. If you don’t believe me, if you think I’m being an alarmist, just ask yourself this:
When was the last time California mattered in the election of our president? We all know that we are a Democratic state and it has been that way since I was born. We know that our votes truly do not matter if we suggest an alternative party or candidate. Because in any event, our state is overwhelmingly controlled by the Democratic party, and we as Californians just have to deal with it. Actually, no, we don’t. This problem is a relic of yesteryear, the fears of democracy that our founding fathers burdened us with out of their elitism and ignorance. You guessed it; I’m talking about the electoral college, a little recognized institution that separates the selection of the president from the popular will of the people. In case you don’t know, the way the electoral college functions is through a delegate system. When a presidential candidate
wins the majority of votes from a state, he is given the support of the delegates of that state, proportional to its population, and the race to become president culminates a month after the election when the delegates’ votes are counted. The flaw of this system is that when we elect people on a state by state basis, many voices end up being canceled out, reinforcing the two party duopoly on political power in this country. Whether you’re a libertarian voter out in the rural parts of Northern California, a Green Party voter from San Francisco, or anything in between, your voice is not heard because it is impossible for political parties with widely spread out, disparate support to ever win a state and capture a delegate at the national level. And even if you do support a major party, say you’re an Orange County Republican or a Texas Democrat, your vote for president does not matter in the slightest
because you will consistently be outvoted by your fellow Californians or Texans who disagree with you in overwhelming numbers. You have become a victim of a flawed system. What can we do to fix this? There are many proposals floating around. Presidential election by popular vote and proportional representation are two popular alternatives to the electoral college system. But at this point, the American people are not ready to fix it. We need to ready ourselves to have a discussion about fundamentally changing our political process. Until we can approach this as the rational, democratic and fairnessloving people we are, we will continue to slip into apathy as the presidential race ramps up and we feel our votes don’t matter for the Commander in Chief. Because at least in this election, unless you happen to live in a swing state, your votes don’t matter.
IT’S NOT THE ECONOMY, STUPID THE IMPORTANCE OF PLURALISM AND COGNITIVE THOUGHT IN THE ELECTION KRISTIN DELFS CONTRIBUTOR
I was reading Scott Horsley’s article on NPR, “After Election Winner Will Face Economic Hurdles,” where he predicts that “whoever is in the Oval Office next year will have to cope with a sluggish U.S. economy and confront some urgent policy decisions.” Oh, no, not a sluggish economy! This seems to be the most preeminent issue on the candidates’ and voters’ minds. Was anyone else cringing a little bit as both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney assured young Jeremy Epstein that they would ensure he had a job once leaving college? As if the president had that sort of power: the power to “create” jobs, end unemployment, and ensure our security and happiness in this rapidly changing world. Apparently Epstein got the answer he was looking for in that first debate, and has decided who he is voting for. I’m still not so sure. The truth is, unemployment is sticky and despite popular belief, the president cannot “create” jobs. So you would think that people would realize that, right? No incumbent president has won a reelection with increasing unemployment towards the end of their presidential term, meaning that this stuff does matter to voters. In the end, this election might boil down to politics more than the actual issues plaguing this country, a bunch of “he said, he said,” and empty promises. This scares me to death, to be quite honest. So unemployment is high, and Obama isn’t quite doing it for you. Now what? Perhaps you don’t like Romney either. I certainly don’t. What then? Are you out of luck? Have you decided not to vote at all out of protest or disillusionment?
Independent parties have gained quite a bad rep, but is a vote ever really wasted? Did you know that Greece, which has also gained a pretty poor rep, has nine major political parties and over ten minor political parties? I’m all for majority consensus, but when did plurality and difference become seen as a bad thing? It’s hard for me to understand why I must choose between two adverse options. Isn’t the real point of voting to have your voices heard, and to feel represented by your government? I’ve started caring less about the outcome of this election and more about the issues, as I think more people should. In the end, a vote for what your believe in, whether it is clean energy, worker’s rights, free trade, or immigration, is never wasted. We should be showing America and the world that we are more than just two perspectives. Yes, your candidate may not win the election, but the only reason they have no chance is because the American people believe they have no chance. This election, I’m voting for the renegotiation of NAFTA, which leads to the exploitation of Mexico and the depression of the minimum wage. I’m voting for a minimum wage that can be lived on. I’m voting for women. I’m voting for a reduction in the military budget, and all of the waste, death, and hostility that goes along with it. I’m voting to end corporate risk without accountability. I’m voting for education and the DREAM Act. I’m voting for health care and reproductive care. I’m voting for me and all of the things that I believe will make this country great, and you should too. Vote for whatever it is that you believe in so that you can stand up against that which you don’t. UNION WEEKLY
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BEN GIBBARD’S SOLO VENTURE FORMER LIVES SHOWS GROWTH
FORGING THE UNDERGROUND MUSIC SOCIETY A FANTASTIC NEW MUSIC CLUB AT CSULB MAXIMILIAN MARES CONTRIBUTOR
In high school I used to go to shows every week. I’d see my favorite band at the Troubadour, Battle of the Bands at the Key Club, or the local metal band inhabiting the Whiskey A-Go-Go every weekend. But then I got to college and live music seemed to disappear from my life. Sure there are the bands that play the USU at noon, but after my first semester my classes always landed in that noon block. Why did I stop seeing bands? Was it that my mysterious adolescent money disappeared, even though I now have a job? Is it because I no longer have mommy and daddy to conveniently drive my car-less self to all those local venues? Is it because I can’t find an all ages place in Long Beach? Sure, Chain Reaction in Anaheim and diPiazza’s exist, but come on, only two locations? Maybe I was spoiled living in the valley. Three years go by and I barely see any live music. Hell, I don’t even know what bands exist around CSULB. There’s got to be bands. Then I discovered the CSULB Underground Music Society. Haven’t
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heard of them? Well that’s because they’re underground—okay, that joke is done with. This is a new club forming on campus with the intention of creating an alive, active music scene—a place for all the local musicians, bands, performers, and music lovers to converge together over easily accessible live music. Didn’t catch that? This group is going to create the all ages venue that I’ve dreamt of, right here on campus. At least, that’s the ultimate end goal. And here is where you come in (cue cheesy inspirational music). We need you, dear music lover/performer/artist. Got a band? Know a band? Looking to be in a band? Want to DJ? MC? Make noises in front of a bunch of people? Always wanted to design show posters? Or do you just love music? Then come to our meetings Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. right outside of Sbarro! Or got a press kit and want to get promoted already? Email us at CSULBUndergroundMusicSociety@gmail. com or find us at https://www.facebook. com/CSULBUMS.
GENEVA TRELEASE CONTRIBUTOR
he first time I heard Ben Gibbard’s voice, I was at some party as a freshman in high school, feeling out of place and awkward and unloved, when Death Cab for Cutie’s “Title and Registration” began to play. Miraculously, my self-conscious self felt a little better. But alas, this isn’t a sappy account of my stupid high school experiences; this is about the one and only Benjamin Gibbard. His first album removed from Death Cab for Cutie, Former Lives, was released two weeks ago. Gibbard’s new album is a solo effort in which his voice and songwriting inexplicably have the same effect on me as they did when I was an invisible 16 year old—his melancholic music has a way of channeling the core of young-adult empathy, a result which adorns all of his musical projects. While relatable subjects and a familiar voice initially stimulate similarities between Death Cab’s songs and Gibbard’s solo album, upon further listening, his sound and sentimental perspectives have undoubtedly matured. Former Lives playfully opens with “Shepherd’s Bush Lullaby,” a layered a capella waltz, which manifests the fairly optimistic tone of the album. The lyrics of this track describe a stroll through rainy London—a setting which may have easily influenced a broken-hearted tune, but instead Gibbard sings, “Know now that I love you, my every thought is of you, now the clouds are beginning to break.”
As the album continues, the sound progresses without tension or contempt; an airy, folksy tone seems to prompt a new sense of sophistication and liberation for Gibbard’s tracks. One of the more intricate gems of Former Lives is “Bigger Than Love.” This powerful track features the intelligent, badass, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, and was inspired by Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda, a book of love letters recounting the volatile relationship of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Admittedly, a few of Gibbard’s songs haphazardly dip into mournful reflection, but he appears to confidently respond to emotion rather than become consumed by it. He effectively alleviates any auditory gloom by including a variety of new elements and instruments to his sound; horns in “Something’s Rattling” and pedal steel guitar in “Broken Yolk in Western Sky” evoke an agreeable hopefulness which nod to Gibbard’s euphonic maturity. The final track of the album, “Building a Fire” exudes the most delicate, intimate sound of the album. The track is beautiful because it is simple and sentimental but not melodramatic; it is a man and his guitar, singing and playing with limited production and manipulation. Perhaps that’s what represents the core of Former Lives: a sense of clarity and independence gained from years of reflection and revision of his own musicality and songwriting. But alas, Gibbard’s honest words understood me like no one else as a freshman in high school, so maybe—just maybe—I’m a little bit biased.
SAMPLING YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ FAVORITE BEVERAGE
ost people only encounter ginger ale when visiting their grandparents or when trapped for several hours on a plane. Ginger as a flavoring doesn’t sound appealing at all, other than as a topping for several Asian foods, and harkens the end of the “Lemon
FENTIMANS GINGER BEER We debated until closing at our local Sprouts whether or not to buy Fentimans Ginger Beer because it’s really fucking expensive. Seven dollars for four bottles of soda felt like we were spitting in the face of every homeless person in Long Beach, but Rose assured me, and herself, that anything that could be so pricey has to be a little bit tasty and at least edible. We’d like to take this moment to say sorry to all the homeless in Long Beach because it proved to the both of us the sobering fact that paying more for something does not factor into deliciousness. It tastes okay, kind of like medicine, until you swallow it. Then it burns. Even when chilled,
REED’S JAMAICAN STYLE GINGER ALE In our search for the illusive Thomas Kemper, we came across Reed’s. For some reason, the Trader Joe’s at the Los Altos Market Square on Sterns only sells one brand of Soda and it happens to be ginger ale. We were a bit confused about “Jamaican Style,” for the only thing we know about Jamaica is encompassed in the 1990s classic movie Cool Runnings. After tasting it, we took Jamaican style to mean that it’s delicious and a little fruitier than your standard ginger ale because it’s sweetened by a mix of pineapple juice and lemon and lime juice. The ginger flavor is present with every
of Troy” episode of The Simpsons where kids were forced to drink beet juice, but it’s actually really tasty and refreshing. Maybe it’s because we’re getting older, or it’s our warped attempt at maturity, but both of us prefer cold glass of ginger ale to any other soda or cola. But there’s a flaw in our ginger
MARCO BELTRAN & ROSE FEDUK
love due to only ever coming in contact with the prevalent and popular Canada Dry, in all it’s incarnations, which is why we decided to broaden our taste buds into the vide variety of ginger brews. These aren’t necessarily a list of the best of the best, but of those that are easily accessible and budget friendly to any
college student. Sadly, we wish it was a bit more comprehensive, so if you, dear reader/ ginger drink lover, know of any better ginger ales, brews, or beers, send them to info@ lbunion.com or horde all the bottles for yourself like the selfish person college life has turned you into.
THOMAS KEMPER GINGER ALE It was tough finding a place that sells Thomas Kemper Ginger Ale. We went to one place, decided that it didn’t exist, and emailed the company in hopes that they would feel the plight of the ginger brew drinker and offer us a lifetime supply. Sadly that didn’t happen, but they did get back to us in a timely manner and suggested we get off our asses and go to Stater Bros. This was our favorite one because it offered the perfect balance of ginger and spice. It’s strong at first, letting you drift away
in a wave of ginger and honey, but fizzes out pleasantly in your mouth. Their’s has a bit of an after taste but it’s rushed out by the aforementioned honey. Compared to the other ginger brews, it’s fairly inexpensive, which is great for us since we’re planning on investing in Thomas Kemper. The only drawback is having to go to Stater Bros to pick it up since the Stater Brothers, Stater Stater and Luigi Stater, decided to build their stores in inconvenient locations to spite everyone that ever needs to buy a product from their stores.
VERNORS GINGER SODA We did a minimal amount of research into the subject of Ginger Ales, i.e. Google searching “Best Ginger Ales,” and that’s how we came across Vernors. It’s supposed to be the “Original Ginger Soda” according to the can, and according to several overzealous people on the internet on a forum, it’s the best ginger based drink of all. Anyone who commented Canada Dry was met with scoffs and guffaws, which is a little ironic since the same company makes them. With all the hype, we expected it to taste a little more like ginger and a lot
less like carbonated eggnog. In fact, if no one had told us this was ginger ale we would have thrown it away after the first sip. It’s really carbonated with a light, almost unnoticeable, hint of ginger that’s masked by an obscene amount of corn syrup. This can of carbonated sugar water also has the neat ability to give the impression that it’s gone flat a few minutes after opening. Overall, a big fuck you to the people on that forum who will probably die alone with nothing to comfort them but the robo-spouse they built from leftover cans of Vernors Ginger Soda.
every sip burns, and continues to burn all the way down to your stomach. It does taste like ginger, but it’s all the worst aspects of ginger intensified to the point where it stops being a refreshing drink and becomes undrinkable. In fact, Marco only took three sips of it and made a life-long pact with his stomach to never consume this liquid hell. BUT this was our first ginger beer, so we didn’t know what to expect. Still, it feels a little cathartic. Like getting the chicken pox early. Now, if anyone offers us a glass of ginger beer, we’ll say yes and pour it down the drain so as to save another person from going through a similar experience. You’re welcome.
sip as the surprisingly refreshing taste spreads across your tongue. Reed’s also offers other flavor options if Jamaican style isn’t for you. Just check Reedsinc.com to see their full selection of ginger brews and ginger flavored products such as ginger candy and ginger ice cream. Rose was also impressed because this is the company that makes a butterscotch beer, also known to all you Harry Potter fans as butter beer. Marco was not impressed by this fact as he halfheartedly read the first three books and decided that he would rather focus his time doing important things like sleeping and not knowing dumb facts about Harry Potter. UNION WEEKLY
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I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS A DIE-HARD STAR WARS FAN TALKS DISNEY AND EPISODE VII
KRISTEN DESMOND CONTRIBUTOR
et’s be real, if you grew up as a Star Wars fan, it’s pretty likely that you had your first sex dream about Harrison Ford as Han Solo (gender and sexual orientation matter not when it comes to Han). If you’re not a big Star Wars fan, it was probably about Harrison Ford as Dr. Jones. There were so many emotions running through me when I heard that Disney had purchased LucasFilm for $4.05 billion and that Episode VII was expected in 2015. At first, there was excitement: More midnight showings to attend, and more trivia to learn so that I can outdo and impress my nerd friends. But the excitement was followed closely by feelings of impending doom.
ROSE FEDUK COMICS EDITOR
Think of all the movies you saw over the summer. Now, think how many of those were sequels and how many of those sequels were horse shit in comparison to their predecessors. But, no matter how much Pirates of The Caribbean 12 and 13 suck, everyone will still go see Pirates 14 out of curiosity, and that is why sequels have taken over the film industry. It’s common knowledge that Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III fell short of IV, V, and VI. Sure, the prequel trilogy had the special effects we craved, and a character named Skywalker played by a terrible actor so that we didn’t even have to miss Mark Hamill. But any true Star Wars fan can recognize that they fell short of the
originals. Maybe it’s the special effects being used as a crutch for the inferior scripts, maybe it’s the fact that Padmé falls in love with a nine-year-old boy. Maybe us die-hard fans aren’t quite sure what’s missing, but the prequels are undoubtedly at a lower caliber than the originals. Almost everyone I know who loves Star Wars is thrilled that the new trilogy will be from the makers of The Avengers series. However, I’m not so sure that the people who made a few moderately entertaining comic book films are ready for something as epic as Star Wars. In an article in the Huffington Post, Lucas speaks of many more story lines that could be used for films. So the films could be beyond
a new trilogy, and the force could always be with us. And since Disney loves their sequels (Beverly Hills Chihuaua 3? Really?) the chances of us seeing an Episode XX are pretty high. Star Wars could go on and on into the future, until we have the means to travel to the galaxy far, far away in person and lose interest. I must admit, in 2015 I’ll be at the midnight showing, probably close to pissing myself for fear of the unknown. I’m going to give it a shot and I really hope I like it. It will still hurt a little if it sucks, but since I’m prepared for the worst, unlike the many Episode VII enthusiasts out there, in the event of complete and utter failure it won’t feel like the Death Star just exploded in my chest.
which will forever alter our lives thereafter. Throughout Flight, we come to find that while Whitaker may have safely landed the plane, the fact that he heavily abuses drugs and alcohol, lies through his teeth about it to everyone from his wife and child, to federal officials, and somehow still manages to find the strength to pull himself out of bed in the morning despite an ego the size of the jet wreckage, is what comes to the forefront and what is ultimately on trial. But is he guilty? Are we? The film is not without fault, however. I’m not against the utilization of in-yourface messages on the part of the director. Indeed, Cabin in the Woods is one of my new favorite films because of this frankness—but when that tactic becomes a motif, it becomes noticeable. When the success of a film like Flight depends solely on its seamlessness,
that motif can become as distracting. In more than one scene Zemeckis might as well have been sitting in my lap hitting me in the face with his script. Worst still, the vehicle for this motif is a sensationalized, almost parodic take on the Christian church. Aside from these nitpickings—and really, three-fourths of you probably welcome the obviousness of it all anyway (yes I am talking about the haters of Cloud Atlas) the film itself is a wonderful story of a man trying to start over, plain and simple, and the filmmakers could not have picked a better route to take the film in. As the son of a former alcoholic and drug addict, this film really found its niche in my heart. Not everyone that buys a ticket will feel the same way, but I say take the risk. Maybe seeing the film is your preordained cosmic event!
FIGHT OR FLIGHT A REVIEW OF THE AIRBORNE DRAMA TYLER DEAN UNION STAFFER
A tired pilot pours several gallons of alcoholic beverage down the drain of the old crop dusting property’s cottage bathroom, his arrogance almost as pungent as the gin on his breath from two days before. Flight isn’t the story about the heroic actions of a man, but of a man whose actions, both good and bad, reveal to those around him, and more importantly himself, his true character—or lack thereof. In Robert Zemeckis’ airborne drama, the director posits a very real, down-to-earth question: where does accountability begin? Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), an airline pilot, saves the lives of his onboard passengers when a malfunctioning system causes the plane to nosedive. In the ensuing investigation a toxicology report reveals that Whitaker was drunk and high on cocaine at the time of the incident, yet he somehow
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managed to avoid high casualties and “safely” land the plane. Zemeckis takes us on a journey into the life of an average man who just happens to be a pilot. A man who believes he “has it all”—a job, women, drugs, alcohol—but comes to realize he’s more alone than the dead who perished in the crash; a normal man who could very easily be me or you or your mother or my father. Through the course of the film we’re right there with Whitaker, hoping that he can overcome the investigation and get on with his life—I mean, he saved all those people, right? By the end of the film we’re not so sure. As already mentioned, what it comes down to is accountability. The film takes an accusatory stance of the individual as witness to a sort of pre-ordained event
GUNSMOKE AT HIGH NOON THE SISTERS BROTHER WILL SHOOT THE HAT RIGHT OFF YOUR HEAD LEO PORTUGAL WEB MANAGER
uthor Patrick DeWitt is the new sheriff in town, and his novel, The Sisters Brothers, is a badge that demands respect as he lays down some literary law. Written with humor as dry as a longhorn skull mounted on the wall of a saloon, and with wit sharper than the spurs on a cowboy’s boots, The Sisters Brothers surpasses any genre restrictions that my corny Wild West similes and metaphors would indicate. DeWitt has crafted an unceasingly entertaining tale. Each sentence and each word coalesce into beautiful scenes wrought with human emotion and tinged with darkness and violence; and shining through it all is humor, at times subtle and at times absurd, but always demanding a smirk, chuckle, or laugh. We encounter the invariably interesting (and often quirky) denizens of the California desert circa 1851, from a haggard old lady who may or may not dabble in the dark arts, to a boy who can’t help but constantly get struck upon the head (as the narrator explains, “I do not know what it was about that boy but just looking at him, even I wanted to clout him on the head. It was a head that invited violence,”). DeWitt strings together these scenes which could stand on their own as powerful short stories, but these powerful vignettes are wrangled, lassoed, tied together by the eponymous Sisters brothers, and a wonderful novel is formed. The brothers become our guides through a harrowing West. The narrator, Eli Sisters, is the younger of the two, and that fact is of great import, as the ordering of siblings tends to be. The novel’s first pages are quick to establish Eli as subordinate to his elder brother, Charlie. The first hint of this pecking order comes when Charlie chooses a horse named Nimble and Eli ends up with a horse called Tub; and it’s safe to say that
ROSE FEDUK COMICS EDITOR
the horses were not named ironically. To further establish the order of command (or at least some perceived order), their boss, the Commodore, promotes Charlie to the position of lead man on their next business venture: the assassination of Hermann Kermit Warm. There is a shifting balance of conflict and confidence between the brothers and it’s not always clear which way the scale will tip. This is where the magic lies in The Sisters Brothers: in the evolving relationship of the brothers as they travel from Oregon City to the heart of the California Gold Rush in order to complete their murderous mission, and in the thoughtful narration of Eli. Eli is slyly funny in his dry manner, and is surprisingly charming and endearing as he battles killers, ne’er-do-wells, and self-consciousness associated with his portliness. I was particularly charmed when Eli, “emboldened with brandy,” follows a beautiful woman out of a parlor: “She was not surprised I had followed her out,” Eli explains, “which is not to say she was happy about it. It was likely that each time she left a room, some man or another followed after her, and over time she had become accustomed to it. I reached up to remove my hat but it was not on my head.” He is a keen observer and, at times, a bit of a cowboy poet...all that besides the grimness that envelops him when he is engaged in the work associated with his profession. As the brothers face the Old West alone together, they are met with life-or-death challenges. And let me just say, when the sun reaches high noon and it is time for a duel between the brothers’ morality and their self-preservation, morality will take a bullet through the heart. The brothers cast a dark, looming
shadow as they live their life of violence; dastardly deeds are done, and Eli, our narrator, rides on. Yet it’s hard not to root for Eli. There’s honesty in his tale that leaves no stone unturned, regardless of what lifting that stone may reveal. Perhaps there is a sense of repentance that grows from his honesty. Perhaps his charm and humor prevail. For the longest time, I had little interest
in Westerns, but now I’m whistling a new tune. The Sisters Brothers and the Coen brothers’ film adaptation of Charles Portis’ True Grit have ushered in a new era for me. I finally understand why my dad thinkst Westerns are the best. But more likely it’s because they are both just great works, regardless of genre. The Sisters Brothers is currently available in ebook form for only $2.99 through Amazon.
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COMPLETE UNKNOWNS WIGGLE ME THIS DISSECT MY BRAIN