Category Archives: LIFE

Fascinating and fun stories that educate and entertain

How to Thrift

by Ceandria Mars ‘15 | Staff Writer

If you’re one of the people who would like to thrift but just don’t know where to start, here are some tips to get you started. The key to thrifting and the solution to the problem many face is time and patience. Obviously, there are a lot of clothes in a thrift store that you will come across that you won’t like, but it takes going through all of the unwanted pieces to find that one great article of clothing.

Some thrift shops offer designer brands for a hefty price, but still far less expensive than what they would be at a department store or another retailer. Michael “Jachuku” Howard  ‘15 said that he has shopped at thrift stores like Salvation Army in places as close as DC, Silver Spring, and far as New York City. He mentioned finding Versace leather pants for around ninety dollars, when in normal department stores they could be sold at prices up to thousands of dollars!

Popular thrift-blogger Lindsay Turner from thriftandshout.blogspot.com says to search anywhere and everywhere, because not all thrift stores offer the same things, and you might not find what you’re looking for right away.

Déjà Forster ’15 suggested a follow-up tip: to keep an open mind while thrifting and that you shouldn’t enter a thrift store with narrow expectations, because you’ll most likely be disappointed. Thrift stores aren’t department stores. The key is to look and look hard, but still Howard said he feels that, “You have to get lucky.”

The final and most unique tip, found on Lindsay Turner’s blog is “think outside the thrift store.” Picture items outside of the store, what you would wear them with, and if it’s customizable, or able to be used in a way other than what it was intended. She also says it’s good to know trends as you make your way through the store. A pair of baggy jeans, for instance, can be altered or turned into a pair of trendy shorts. Now that you have a guide on how to thrift, you can get started at a nearby store like Value Village on Allentown Road in Suitland Maryland.

Jachuku Howard '15 showing his thrift attire.

iPads for the Future

Kayla Preston ‘17 | Staff Writer |

There is an iPad trend in the Bishop McNamara community, with students and teachers using it for educational purposes. This idea has been incorporated by teachers into their daily class lectures and discussions, but has it helped?

iPads come with bluetooth capability, which allows keyboards and other devices to be synced, including televisions, speakers, and even classroom projectors. While some are concerned that iPads will replace the need for books, magazines, and even newspapers, support for the iPad in school appears to be strong among students.

Many students point to benefits in speed, familiarity, and convenience, believing the possession of iPads will allow them to contact teachers regularly and bring fewer books home in the afternoon.

“The use of iPads will help benefit us because we’d need less books, carry less weight, and be able to email teachers homework assignments and to ask them anything when needed,” Jaylin Bolden ‘17 said.

Some students believe the device will help prepare students for a changing world. Dana Hentz ‘17 said, “iPads will be good for the future because as the world is becoming more technologically advanced, so should the school.”

Other students believe incorporating iPads will speed things up in the Bishop McNamara community. “The computers we have in classrooms and in the library are slow and having your own iPad will help get work done faster,” said Temesghen Tesfay ‘17.

The teachers’ iPads are currently provided and maintained by the school and have beneficial apps already downloaded on them which most teachers enjoy and use.

“They are a useful tool in the classroom, but should be used judicially just as any other tools,” said Ms. Jan Steeger, a science teacher at Bishop McNamara

Ms. Ashley Graham, an  IT teacher, said “I love them and feel they are a great asset to the class. I like the visual material, especially for graphing and it helps my students understand better.”

Within McNamara, the addition of iPads may not just benefit students but also help teachers in their daily class routines. Technology itself has arguably benefited mankind greatly, and if this is true, iPads aren’t any different.

Canoodling with My Taste Buds

from Noodles & Company website

Is Noodles and Company Worth the hullabaloo?

Jerica Deck ‘13, Opinion Editor

So it’s six in the afternoon. First day of the week. Today had been one of those monotonous Mondays and after skipping both breakfast and my daily afternoon snack my stomach’s grumbled like a spork stuck in a garbage disposal. What did I do to stop the roars and the mcgurgles from booming through my insides? Why go to the best place to eat something a little different.

Panera Bread. Yes. Panera Bread. My first time going there I was lured in by their sign about bringing in a new lobster sandwich. Tasting the lobster bits on my tongue I quickly walked up to the counter but when the sandwich racked up to a $16.99 plus tax I quickly walked out. $16.99? In this economy? Ha.

I found myself scooting into another new place, Noodles and Company. When the glass door shut behind me it almost felt like I wasn’t in Bowie Town Center anymore because the thing about Noodles and Company is that they really sell on their funky atmosphere. The walls looked colorful and friendly. The employees were laid back and sweet. Plus, they even had a digital soda machine where you can add flavors to your soda by using a touch screen.

However what really impressed me besides their great use of earth tones and quirky furniture was their menu. They had American pasta, Mediterranean pasta, and even Asian pasta all under one roof. Within those pasta categories were several types of pasta ranging from spaghetti to indonesian peanut sauteé. From there, customers could add meats like meatballs, shrimp, and tofu.

I ordered a regular sized Truffle Mac and Cheese. This mac and cheese included succulent mushrooms, bread crumbs, truffle oil, and spices. The first bite felt like heaven. The second and third? A little more mediocre. Did I enjoy my meal, yes. However, after eating it, it wasn’t like the best thing I ever had. It could have used a little more cheddar or maybe an even sharper cheese to add flavor.

What I had really bought into was the hype. I loved everything from the quirky style to the customization to background music and even the cardboard colored menu. The thing is, Noodles is more than a restaurant; it’s an experience. What the company represents is something new, different, earthy, and exiting. It’s the alternative to McDonalds. It’s fast food with quality. It’s a big meal of pasta for about $8. The food was good, not great, but not just okay either, and even with eating this good food to go in my car I was still hypnotized by the essence of waiting for my food on a bar stool. That feeling makes Noodles and Company a quality restaurant and a cool hangout spot.

Meet the Next Clint Eastwood!

Independent film director and actor Tom Linskey could have Hollywood in his hands, if only he was on the radar.

Interview by Michael Breton ‘12 | Style and Culture

Title card from "The Last Signals"

Many young, ambitious people today aspire to reach stardom in Hollywood. As in any dream, there must be two things in the equation: talent and passion. Some have the talent, while others could only exercise the passion. Tom Linskey is an independent director who has both; he is also only a college student at Pennsylvania. His latest masterpiece, The Last Signals, is an example of not only his directorial visions but also his acting roles in which he played the co-star. The film was well received on youtube.com. The only problem is, he is oblivious to the industry. Tom’s films have this gritty, heroic theme going on that it reminisce those films of director and actor Clint Eastwood; less western, more Letters to Iwo Jima.

1.What are the themes that are portrayed in your films? Explain them.

Most of my films, especially these last few years, have all had the same theme; history and heroism. I really enjoy recreating true tales of bravery and inspiration with the backdrop of some major event in it. The Last Signals, of course, is no exception. It focuses on Harold Bride, the assistance telegraph operator of the Titanic. His chief was John Phillips. Phillips remained at the telegraph sending distress calls long after the captain allowed him to make a run for it, and Bride stayed, too, refusing to abandon his friend. They stayed in the room until it flooded out, which is a remarkable act of courage considering how much electricity flowed through that room.

2.Who are your favorite filmmakers?

This is a very tough choice. I know you’re specifically asking for film makers here, but I can answer the question of favorite actors easily. I think every generation tends to have a few actors who -almost no matter what they’re in- they pull it off, and often make it a good movie simply due to their presence. Far back, we’ve got Jimmy Stewart, previously we’ve had Steve McQueen, then Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks. Most recently, and still active, I’d say this generation’s top actor is Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio (and I’m not biased towards him because of James Cameron’s Titanic film- I genuinely feel he’s a talented actor).

Now, I’ll take a stab at film makers, but I can’t answer it as thoroughly. I’ve always enjoyed the work of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, especially when they team up, but my style doesn’t fully reflect them, though it used to. I’ve noticed my movies have tended to lean towards the style of Clint Eastwood’s most recent productions.

3. Your recent film, The Last Signal, was well made and seemed like a lot of effort. How did you decide to film this particular picture?

Thank you. I’ve always had an interest in the Titanic- for as long as I’ve had an interest in filmmaking, actually. When I read the story of Harold Bride (again), I was in high school, and it hit me- this story would make a great film, especially with the twist of seeing Phillips dead on the boat. When I thought about it more, the fact that the majority of film took place in the one wireless room, it suddenly became extremely possible for me, a high-schooler at the time, to pull it off. Harold Bride’s tale is one of the most important tales of the sinking, and if not for he and Phillips, no ships would have been aware of the sinking, and those in the lifeboats would have drifted almost indefinitely. This was 2 years before the completion, so the 100th anniversary wasn’t even on my mind. I realized it towards the end of production, and set the goal to be finished before then. This wasn’t originally intended to come out alongside the countless other Titanic related films for the anniversary.

4. Who or what are your influences as well as inspirations?

A lot of my inspirations are more on a personal level as opposed to related to film, such as T.E.Lawrence and William Murdoch, etc. With filmmaking, I’d have to say a lot of the names listed above in the favorite filmmakers. Quite frankly, however, I don’t pay too much attention to what others do in the film industry. I focus mainly on what I want to do, so I’m not actually heavily influenced by anyone, save for my friends who film alongside me.

5. Your films have this gritty, masculine feel to them. Most of your films are about war battles and disasters. Why these subjects in particular? Will you ever make “chick-flicks”?

I guess I always tend to lean towards the more epic kinds of films, as they’re the most exciting to shoot and create stories for, in my opinion. Would I ever make a chick flick? If by chick flick we’re talking like Twilight, or anything with Sarah Jessica Parker, then no. But, I’m not adverse to shooting a film more geared towards women, though I’m honestly quite surprised: according to youtube’s analytics, one of my strongest following is Australian girls age 18-24. Not complaining, of course 😉 . I also, for some odd reason, have a female following of 47%, which I wouldn’t have anticipated. Unfortunately, due to the fact that most of my films are war, and The Last Signals focused on Titanic’s crew (which was 800 some men and only around 20 women), most of my films tend to mostly show males. The film I’ve shot most recently, and all of my next three actually have prominent female roles, so my trend seems to be broken.

6. What is the film you were most proud of making?

The Last Signals currently is my pride and joy, but one of the next films I have in the making, I know for a fact, will be beating it out, if I can get the proper funding. The Last Signals was my only full length 2 hour film I’ve made. The youtube version is 42 minutes, but there’s a 2 hour version of it (which does feature quite a few women, in response to the previous question), but this film is limited in availability at the moment.

7. What would you like to achieve in the future?

I’d like to get my films to the point where I’m able to make money off them. None of my films as of yet have been for profit. I’d like to keep my films in the same themes that they’ve been following, and my main goal is to show people that history can be exciting to learn about. My main goal with a lot of my films is to show what truthfully happened; I want people to watch these films and, with or without realizing it, experience a fully accurate history lesson. The Last Signals did that.

8. Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker or would you like to be a mainstream director? Why?

I’m independent right now. I hope to remain independent. I honestly think that’s the best way to be. If I were to go mainstream, I’d have high budget producers, legalists, and marketing agents constantly breathing down my neck making the priority of the film to make money as opposed to tell a good story. The majority of a high budget mainstream movie’s money goes to actors and overpaid workers. An independent film can pull off just as good of a job with a tiny fraction of the budget, as they won’t use big names. Granted, a lot of mainstream actors are talented, but I have worked with some actors who I feel are better actors than some mainstreamers! And I didn’t even have to pay them! I hope to stay independent, but reach the point where finding a budget isn’t difficult.

9. When did you realize you wanted to be in film industry?

Tough question… I always made films- my first film I remember was in kindergarten, yet I also remember I’ve been making films before that. When growing up I wanted to be a teacher, then writer, then archaeologist, only in high school realizing that I wanted to turn my lifelong hobby into my career, and that’s stayed with me since.

10. What is your favorite movie that you did not make?

Most recently, I’ve really enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes series with Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law (and secretly wish I directed them haha), but some of my favorite films of all time are more vintage. The Time Machine from 1960 tends to be my favorite film of all time, followed closely by A Night To Remember (1958) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) is up there too, along with The Great Race (1965).

11. What is your signature film style?

A lot of my films tend be to less focusing on the massive explosions and constant fighting, despite often being war or disaster related, and more dialogue driven and based on dramatics. For example, The Last Signals, the film about the Titanic disaster, only had about 5 minutes of intense action, while the rest before that was dramatics and build up of tension, yet, most people say they’ve stayed hooked from the beginning. The style I like shooting in is a vintage style- a lot of the violence being off screen, for example, and relying on the actors to give the story as opposed to special effects and massive scaled shots. Granted, I don’t have the budget for those, but even if I did, I wouldn’t utilize them much. I also have an almost OCD style when filming. I want all the details in my films to be historically accurate. In the Last Signals, for example, even the Morse Code used was correct, the stars in the sky were positioned right, and a lot of the dialogue was word for word. It doesn’t add stress or anything to the project, it just allows me to be more proud in the end, and for all of these details, I’ve been told that The Last Signals is actually the most historically accurate Titanic film to have been produced.

_________________

Website:  http://www.jkiltsfilms.com/

Film on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-AWbrdNo58

 

Increased Security Measures Seen Around School

One of the school's three security guards, known by the student body as Anthony, lets students standing under the canopy know that it is safe to cross the parking lot at the crosswalk. Ensuring the safety of all students in the parking lot before and afterschool is one of the major jobs of our security guards. (Megan Ardovini '13/STAMPEDE)

Automatic gate and more security guards have stepped up school security in 2012

Megan Ardovini ‘13 | News Editor

Bishop McNamara is seeing increased attention given to the security of the school and the safety of its campus. There is a new automatic gate in the back parking lot, a greater amount of security guards on campus as compared to last year, and plans for setting up more cameras around the school.

According to Mr. Reginald Brady, the administrator who oversees school security, plans to increase our school safety have been talked about and in the works for a while. Although both the gate and increased security guards have occurred this school year, they have been considered for a while before. Recently, we have had some problems regarding car safety and thefts of personal property, primarily in the Mount Calvary and Union parking lots. Mr. Brady said this did not cause our increased security, but rather pushed us to “jump to it” faster.

“We reinforce security because it is an issue wherever you are,” Mr. Brady said. “Schools everywhere should be concerned about security.”

Each day there are two to three security guards on campus making rounds, securing the perimeters, patrolling all three parking lots, and reinforcing school polices. One of our newest security guards, Ms. Felicia Calloway, has been here since the beginning of the year. Usually Ms. Calloway works at apartment complexes, but she enjoys the change in atmosphere that McNamara gives her. She sees no real threat from the area surrounding McNamara, and does not anticipate any future incidents occurring now that greater security measures are in place.

“[Our] main concern is people who are not supposed to be here getting on campus,” said Mr. Brady. The new automatic security gate addresses this major concern because unlike the old gate, this new improvement only allows people already on the school property to get out, but not anyone from the outside get in.

For some students like Corey Snowden ’14, security never crosses their mind. Having transferred to McNamara in early November of this year from a public high school, Snowden says there are less security features here than were present around his old school, which he attributes to the fewer amount of incidents and threats our community has seen.

When asked whether he felt safe at his school, Ben Hartmann ’12 immediately said, “Of course. We are stepping up the security in the form of guards.” For Kevin McKeown ’12, security is “not a worry” mostly because of the presence of security guards on the campus as well as the new automatic gate in the rear of the school building. The automatic gate system is a good idea because “no unwanted guests can get in,” said Coye Gerald ’12. The overall consensus of students is that they do in fact feel safe here at McNamara.

The Toddler Doesn’t Need a Tiara

Toddler Pageants are ruining today’s tots

Opinion by Kate Fry ‘12 | Staff Writer

Please don’t be a baby beauty queen. I can see you now, standing up there on stage. You’re in a dress that costs far too much for how little goes into making it. That gown is your third change of clothes that night: you have already danced around in an outfit that would have done justice to a Vegas showgirl and a bikini fresh from the set of “I Dream of Genie.” But now a gaudy rhinestone tiara sits on your head, roses are awkwardly cradled in one arm, and as you wave to the admiring crowd, you cry. Your tears are cleaning that pound of makeup off your face.

But, in the morning, when your breath smells and you’re in pajamas and your pretty “face” is off in the pillow, I want to ask you,“Is it worth it, that little crown for all the pain and the warped ideas that these contests are giving you?” I’m just curious, because toddler pageants are making for some twisted tots.

For a case in point, look to CNN. They ran a story about a mom who sued three media outlets for “sexualizing” her five-year-old daughter, Isabella. The news organizations say that she was dancing inappropriately to the song, “Sexy and I Know It,” in an inappropriate locale for someone of that age. For this, the mother demands a sum of 30 million.

As it turns out, the girl was at a pet charity and was singing a popular song and dancing appropriately. So how could the media have thought she was doing something uncouth? It couldn’t have been the shoulder-baring, low-cut pink dress, could it? Or the obvious eyeshadow and caked-on foundation? These items are touchy for any self-respecting woman, but they are alright for a kid — really?

I can easily see why the critics looked askance at the kid. In a semi-dark room, lit intermittently by a strobe light, sits a child in a skimpy outfit, smothered in makeup singing a song with loose lyrics. That’s a scene that could be torn from the pages of a bad novel.

But, behind this tragedy of errors where a mother fights for her daughter’s honor, the mastermind behind the madness is never mentioned.

Toddler pageants. Google the phrase and up pops many pages of pictures of children ranging in age from absolute baby to little child in clothes and makeup that would make a streetwalker blush. The children don false eyelashes, teeth, and tans to complete this ignominious illusion.

Add up all these factors, and you get the sum: beauty pageants are seriously warping today’s kids. All the makeup sets a tone saying that makeup is a must for beauty; so are false sets of teeth and lashes; modesty has no place in beauty; and to really wow the crowd, show all the skin you can without alarming the censors.

Are those the values we really want to teach our kids? Do we really want to give them the impression that only beauty matters, that no one is ever really good enough without fake accessories, that high self-esteem is only for a certain group, or that they are never good enough? Do we want to increase the likelihood that our young girls will develop an eating disorder, or will feel the need to get extravagant plastic surgery and youth injections when they get older? We want to make them more insecure as they approach their teenage years? We want them to pass this unholy show onto their children?

I don’t know about you, but I would like to return to a simpler time, where beauty was something you only worried about after thirteen, and had some limits to the extent of the fake things you could wear and still keep your reputation, where beauty wasn’t crammed down a child’s throat.

A Legend Lost – Whitney Houston

Vania Brown ’12 | Editor

Whitney Houston is pronounced dead at the age of 48. On the eve of the Grammys, Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, released news of her death to reporters in Los Angeles this evening. The cause of death has not been revealed, though Houston was found dead by her body guard in her hotel room; there were no signs of criminal intent. She had been in rehab numerous times throughout her life, but had made a comeback in 2009 with album, I Look To You.

The world renowned R&B, pop singer, prominent in the 80s and 90s, was made famous for her songs, “Saving All My Love,” “I Have Nothing,” “Children of the Future,” and “I Will Always Love You.” Houston also had a firm acting career with her roles in the “The Preacher’s Wife,” “Waiting to Exhale,” and “The Body Guard.”

Houston leaves behind 18 year old Bobbi Kristina, her daughter with singer and ex-husband, Bobby Brown.

Houston was currently in production with her role in the remake of the film, Sparkle, said to debut this year.

From the Official Website of Whitney Houston

Let’s Have a Little Talk about “Of Monsters and Men”

Listen to Of Monsters and Men’s New Single

Emily Magruder ’13 | Staff Writer

Typically, the singles released by artists are the most generic and simply constructed songs on their albums.  But Icelandic folk/indie group Of Monsters and Men chose to release “Little Talks” as their single representing their premier CD ‘Into the Woods.’  This song showcases trumpets, an accordion, acoustic guitar and drums and vocals, who to the lay listener sound vaguely British.  Although the chorus is slightly repetitive, the creative lyrics demonstrate the young artists’ mastery of the English language.

The literal story listens in on a conversation between a man reassuring the woman he loves about the noises she hears in her home.  Metaphorically, “Little Talks” studies a young couple’s relationship and the evolution of their trust in each other.  Despite the turmoils they experience, including death, they optimistically sing about being brought home together. Little Talks proposes the unorthodox concept of a fairytale romance flourishing despite death juxtaposed by its traditional love song style.

These adorably romantic and fairytale-like lyrics are matched by whimsical instrumental.  This song is a festival of sound.  The joyful accordion is reminiscent of street performers while the staccato singing is the bustling crowds moving from attraction to attraction.  The drums, trumpet and acoustic guitars chime together emanating the warmth that can only be produced by laughter amongst friends.  This toe-tapping, finger-snapping, frivolously fun folk song is a wonderful introduction to the kind of folk/indie music that is becoming so wildly popular in the States and is a great addition to any person’s music library.

Get a Life, She’s Only 14

Controversial ad offends

 Commercial Against Obsesity Goes too Far

Carolyn Conte ‘14 | Opinion Editor

A young girl is in her family room watching TV, chewing on chips while dreaming about being a star one day. The Covergirl commercial ends, and a dramatic black background appears on the screen. White words flash up with sudden sounds, “High Blood Sugar. High Cholesterol. Hypertension.” It goes on, and a black and white picture of a wide girl accompanies the words. “Get healthy. Get moving. Get a life. Cut childhood obesity down to size.” The bigger girl is replaced by a bone-thin child.

    The state of Georgia has been criticized for its ads against obesity, but none of them offended me until this. When I heard a bit about the ‘insulting’ commercials, I was curious enough to watch some on Youtube. The first three left me thinking, “Yeah, it’s sad — but the kids themselves are admitting they want to be healthy and it’s not fun to get picked on. The overall message is to eat healthy, so it’s ok.” The last one I viewed, though, was truly disdainful. The overweight girl portrayed did not speak for herself as in the other ones, and instead written words narrated her health issues — which was good because it was informative — but when it wrote “Get a life,” my jaw dropped.

First of all, this is a totally wrong approach to encourage kids- especially girls- to diet. A person that needs to lose pounds should be motivated positively, not by bullying. “Stigma and prejudice are intensely stressful. Stress puts the body on full alert, which gets the blood pressure up, the sugar up,” said Colombia University Health professor Dr. Peter Muenning in a NY Times essay by Harriet Brown. Basically, feeling ugly and fat will make person more likely to get depressed, sick and gain more weight. There are a bajillion different ways to say ‘eat properly’ or ‘eat in moderation for a longer life,’ but it is plain offensive when you insinuate that the girl has no activities or friends. They have no right to imply that she has no social life, or that she has no potential for happiness. This was an unnecessary smack in the face to insecure obese children, and the phrasing itself was mean.

Then it has the audacity to follow with the expression ‘cut childhood obesity down to size’ and replace the still of the overweight girl with a stick figure girl. Muscle is required for a person to be in shape. A kid 20 pounds heavier than the one portrayed as ‘healthy’ would be average size. Enough kids are depressed because they hate themselves. Overweight and obese adolescents exemplified suicidal rates of 26.8% – more than twice the average of studied subjects, according to Medical News Today.

The sponsors should not be blaming the kids. Children adopt eating habits from their parents, and size structure is also inherited- it’s not easy to be perfect. Instead, the commercial made me feel like obese people are unwanted, useless losers that need to “Get a life” and be emaciated like the last image.  That ad did not make any little girl aspiring to be the next Rihanna put down their chips and exercise. Personally, it made me feel ugly, and like there’s no fun in life if you aren’t thin.

You can watch it now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPyw_VGrC3o&feature=related