Category Archives: opinion

Fifteen movies in one month with Mr. mcKenna

By Drew Smith/Staff Writer and William McKenna/Guest Writer

Film is a topic of passion and particular endearment for me. My favorite films have impacted me in ways I was unable to predict. Filmmaking is a satisfactory and fulfilling experience for me. I love making, watching, discussing, and being inspired by films. With all that considered, I often fail to watch films as much as I should. I often will find myself having not seen a film in months, putting off movies I should have seen by this point, and generally lacking the drive to just sit down and watch. That’s why for this month, I watched fifteen films, along with Mr. McKenna. He recommended seven to me; I recommended eight to him. The genres and quality of the films vary wildly throughout, and our opinions certainly differ, but be sure to check out these films on your own time, I guarantee you it will be worth it. 

  1. Bicycle Thieves (Recommendation by McKenna, review by Drew) – Bicycle Thieves is a post-World War II Italian film directed by Vittorio de Sica, and it is beyond fantastic. A striking film for its time, this film captures tragically the horrors and plights of the working class, amidst a time of reconstruction and destruction. When a man desperately tries to support his poverty-stricken family, he finds a job opportunity that requires a bicycle, and when his bicycle is stolen, he spends every waking minute hunting for it in Rome. The performances by Lamberto Maggiorani and Enzo Staiola are so magnificent, their father-son dynamic is put on display, their relationship carries the entire film. The cinematography is simple but extremely tactical, so many scenes’ tension is carried by nothing other than the camera and its positioning. The soundtrack and soundscape is minimal but still bolsters the already quite emotional film, for a film released in such hard times, the quality stays consistent throughout. Every aspect of the film is so incredible. It tells one of the saddest tragedies of the 20th century, of working class hardship and absolute desperation, and about the lessons we pass onto the next generation. This film gets a quite-deserving 5/5.
  2. Good Time (Recommendation by Drew, review by McKenna) – MEH…at best. This is a film that screams….”Hey look how edgy and raw a movie I’m making.” It stars the new young superstar of the day…Robert Pattinson… who is desperately trying to shake his pretty boy image that put him in the game with those Twilight films. I have never seen them and I have no idea their merit. Good Time is a very basic heist gone wrong film that attempts to do a full on Soderbergh with improvised immersive  dialogue through character. Many non-actors portray their various professions, cliche stuff like that. The director also stars in the film Benny Safdie…he plays an autistic person…he does give a very good performance as a man who trusts the person who should be looking out for him…his brother, Pattison, who of course abuses him and forces him to help rob a bank…which goes south fast all before the opening credits …edgy. The rest of the film is about Pattinson trying to spring his brother out of jail. He gets the wrong guy out and goes on a not very likely adventure with a character even worse than the Pattinson character. There really is no major character in this film worthy of any sympathy except the autistic brother. Pattinson spirals from one awful situation to the next. I’m not sure what I was supposed to feel. All I saw was the abuse of an autistic person by the person who should have loved him most. Clocking in at 1:41 it is at least 20 minutes too long. I kept screaming, “Move it along!” The directing is okay with its faux gritty cinematography. It made some noise  at Cannes in 2017… I guess for being pretentious and gritty? I’m not sure what I was supposed to find interesting or entertaining in this film? Whatever it was …I did not find it. I wouldn’t say it’s as bad as a found footage film…but it’s in the same ball park.Oh yeah it actually rips off Of Mice And Men…I beg you to watch that instead starring John Malcovich and Gary Sinise… man, Good Time is a lazy piece of junk. The closing credits broke my heart.
  3. Big Fish (Recommendation by McKenna, review by Drew) – Big Fish is a fantastical feature by the great Tim Burton, and it’s quite a doozy. With larger-than-life sets, campy and over-the-top acting, and a sweet soundtrack to go with it, this film is quite magical. Ewan McGregor absolutely carries the film on his back, with his toothy smile and comical Southern accent, each scene that he’s in is so hard to peel away from. The film centers itself around a father-son dynamic, when Ewan McGregor’s character begins to fall severely ill and is on his deathbed, his now matured and adult son must confront him and try and get to the truth behind the tall tales his father told him. This movie is quite heartbreaking. Its tragic tale of misunderstood fathers and frustrated and unsatisfied sons is so bolstered by its lead actors and bombastic score and set pieces. The film has plenty of heart, spread out amongst so many endearing scenes, whether it is a dramatic retelling of time served in the military, or a simple exchange between father and son; it’s all done very well. But for all the film gets right, it still falls flat in some aspects. I believe the son’s character arc and story is not nearly fleshed out enough; it definitely lacks some much needed narrative to it. And the pacing as well as editing are all out of whack in certain areas. The film cannot help but bounce from scene to scene with no rhythm or rhyme and often leaves the viewer startled or just confused. The film gets so much right, but its disjointed and poorly organized structure weaken the film’s message and theme. This film gets a 3.5/5 for me.
  4. Roma (Recommendation by Drew, review by McKenna) – A masterpiece…a human story…the style and beauty of the story does not distract from the human story it presents. Every scene is meticulous and informs the mood, emotion and time of the story. There is a huge backstory but it’s the little story with Cleo that forms the narrative. The film has a smooth pace and is very tight. Coming in at 2 hours 15 minutes not a minute is not important to the story. It is shot in glorious black and white, which only enhances the beauty of this very human story.
  5. Nosferatu (Recommendation by McKenna, review by Drew) – Nosferatu is one of the most unique and excellently crafted horror films of all time. Using the backbone of the classic Nosferatu narrative, it expands from that in such ingenious and mind-boggling ways, using incredible filmmaking to carry those explorations into the horror genre. Directed by the German filmmaking titan Werner Herzog, this feature has some of the best directing, cinematography, writing, and pacing of any horror films out there. Starring Klaus Kinski as Count Dracula himself, Kinski has the performance of a century, with his subtle use of body language and physical performance as a bastion for horror, and his line delivery absolutely executes on the building tension throughout the film. Every scene with Count Dracula only builds upon the undeniable terror of the character, capitalizing every minute he’s on screen to fleshing out and constructing the character. Throughout the film, he becomes scarier and also receives a plethora of depth to the character; you soon realize he’s not just a monster, but a pathetic and utterly lonely old man who has nothing to do in the world but cause harm. This film is perfect in every aspect, and has so much more to say about death and the perception of it under the surface. Such a home run of a film. 5/5.
  6. Wildlife (Recommendation by Drew, review by McKenna) – Terrific film…but a real downer about a family falling apart in the ‘60s. Written by the amazing Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano who also directs. Based on a book published in 1990.  It’s well shot and paced with a compelling story that breaks the viewers heart. There are no villains in the film…just human beings getting lost along the long trail of life. The wild fires featured in the film represent the family that was being destroyed by forces that were beyond their control. When the fire passes only the standing dead trees are left… the family is THE standing dead. The film ends with the broken family getting one more family portrait… so the boy can remember he once had a family. Terrific performances by all the actors in the film…very well cast . They all convey an inner sadness that seems genuine.
  7. American Movie (Recommendation by McKenna, review by Drew) – American Movie is a splendid documentary that explores the dreams and aspirations of an independent filmmaker in Wisconsin, as he attempts to make his first feature film, and then subsequently goes onto finish a still developing short film. This documentary is so neat and the people within it are just so fun to watch. So many personalities are to be found from the filmmaker himself Mark Borchardt, to his goofy and subtly creepy best friend, and to his Swedish mother, so much is captured within the runtime. Through crises and triumph, the camera is always rolling, as it slowly reveals throughout the film Mark’s deep insecurities and fears about mundanity. His constant self-criticising and self-actualizing are humorous to watch, but also saddening as you soon get to understand what is really going on in his brain. His ambition and dedication feels futile, but still deserves the absolute respect of any viewer. The documentary is a fantastic romp through Wisconsin, and it never fails to entertain. 4.5/5
  8. Lift (Recommendation by Drew, review by McKenna) – Terrific little doc …it’s one shot (outside of several cutaways of flies walking on an elevator wall… which makes me think of the “fly on the wall” saying) talking to people over a number of days at different times when they are on an elevator… you get a glimpse into the lives of regular people just being human beings. The conversations last only as long as an elevator ride…it’s uplifting and heartbreaking all at the same time. The human condition is an amazing thing and it doesn’t take much to bring it out… just ask. Clocking in at 25 minutes, it leaves you hoping all the people presented were okay after the camera was turned off. There were a few other cutaways down the elevator shaft and of things going on and off the elevator. I saw it as a metaphor for life… it’s just a short up and down journey.
  9. Coven (Recommendation by McKenna, review by Drew) – Coven is very interesting. Directed by the aforementioned Mark Borchardt, the short film is quite a mess, but has a ton of heart. The short film is all done by real people in Mark’s lives, a community project headed by Mark himself. It attempts to explore alcoholism and drug abuse, but does not go very far in its venture. It’s mostly centered around horror, as a writer finds himself in a hospital after an overdose, and his only remaining friend pushes him to join a suspicious support group.  It is a very choppy and misorganized short film, but I cannot help but love it considering the circumstances it was made in. A very interesting watch, that I can’t say much on as a short film, but as an experience, I very much enjoyed. N/A.
  10. Travelers (Recommendation by Drew, review by McKenna) – People who ride a commuter train talk about their lives. It’s a heart breaking examination of the frailty of human life. People coming and going just trying to find why they are in this world. Unlike his other film this one ventures into the living spaces of the subjects. All have hopes and dreams. Much more polished than his first film Isaacs has a  knack for getting people to open up. Well-shot with perfect sound. It has little moments of joy that make the travel worthy of the journey. Once the film is over the viewer can’t help but hope all the people we have met are okay in the world. Clocking in at 48 minutes, it’s a ride worth every minute.
  11. Slacker (Recommendation by McKenna, review by Drew) – Slacker is a feature directed and written by the incredible Richard Linklater. It is quite the unique and tactical film. It was crafted using guerilla filmmaking techniques, a low budget of nearly $20, 000, entirely underground and inexperienced actors, and almost always filming on location, this feature utilizes and capitalizes on every opportunity and resource available to make this film possible. Slacker follows the lives of hundreds of people in Texas, spanning twenty-four hours, as they live out their lives and explore the world around them, running into old friends, encountering thieves, as well as being followed by manic conspiracy theorists, this film tackles a massive task of capturing all of these stories. For a 97- minute runtime, the film manages to feel like three hours and overstays its welcome. It seems it would fit better as a lengthy short film, there are definitely individuals the film follows that just are uninteresting and ruin the pace of the film, and if you cut them out, it would be much, much better. The film could have been a masterful short film, but instead turned out to be a slightly disappointing feature film. – 4 out of 5
  12. Meantime (Recommendation by Drew, review by McKenna) – This is a well crafted and directed film from the UK with a powerful cast that has both Tim Roth and Gary Oldman when they were really young. Set to the backdrop of the poor working class of the Thatcher era England, man, it’s joyless. There are scenes that are uncomfortable to watch but they inform the reality the film presents and are necessary. The listing has it as a comedy drama…but I saw no comedy. Tim Roth plays Colin, the main character who is lost in a sea of English despair. The conclusion is absolutely heartbreaking, in that it isn’t an end… just another continuation into the dead end of his existence. The scenes in the film are punctuated by the music that consists mainly of a single piano playing down beat music… mundane music for a mundane life. Well directed by Mike Leigh this is a film that is raw and gritty with purpose…. like life.
  13. The Jerk (Recommendation by McKenna, review by Drew) – The Jerk is a wondrous comedy directed by Carl Reiner that stars the undeniably incredible Steve Martin. This film piques my interest. Its strong direction towards absurdity and the fantastical mixture of Steve Martin’s performance and the film’s writing lead to a completely goofy, yet outdated experience. The pace of the comedy certainly disservices the film. When certain jokes fail to entertain or just are not that funny, the film feels as though it comes to an absolute halt as you wait for the unfunny bit to be wrapped up so you can move onto the next joke. But when jokes do work, it is beyond amazing. While plenty of the film has not aged well, so much of it has, so much of its witty absurdity and goofy performances are spectacular and a blast to enjoy. For as much of the film is able to get right, it certainly lacks substance in many departments. The cinematography is far from engaging and plenty of the creative aspects lack life. Certain parts of Martin’s performance are perhaps too over-the-top and cause the film to be more obnoxious than humorous. It’s a solid entry, but lacks substance in many areas, and could use a stronger direction and a cleaner script. – 3.5/5
  14. Black Girl (Recommendation by Drew, review by McKenna) – It’s a well constructed human story by Osmane Sembene, a director from Africa. It’s overwhelmingly sad. A Black woman from Senegal goes to France to become what she thinks is a nanny. Instead she is enslaved by a horrible French couple. It’s a very slow destruction of a human being.  Recognizing the story telling and structure doesn’t do the film justice. It’s just so sad it’s hard to watch. It’s real and raw… the film gave me anxiety… perhaps that was the point. The lead drives the story through her eyes as she reflects on where she is in life and where she has come from. Her eventual ending is tragic. The French couple are pure evil…cold and heartless monsters. The French couple take everything but give nothing…. they torture the woman with their white French privilege… they of course get off scot-free and never answer for their criminal actions. I recognize the film as a great work of art… but I didn’t enjoy it. Movies are an escape for me…I already know humans are awful. The film is just over an hour in length… a hard hour to watch.
  15. Mishima (Recommendation by Drew, review by McKenna) – A Paul Schrader masterpiece… that must be clear… it works on every level… it borders on high spectacle with its eclectic stylized story structure… all working together to come together in one story… it’s ultimately a tragedy. The story is based on the real Japanese writer Yukio Mishima who commits suicide for his world view in 1970. It’s a fictionalized account that incorporates his various writings into the story. It’s a story of self-illusion bordering on full delusion. Mishima sees himself in the grand world of his novels and plays…seeing himself as the only person who can lead Japan back to glory by reinstating the Emperor to power… that would be a terrific story alone… but much of it actually happened which brings a humanity to the story that may not have existed if solely a work of fiction. Much of the story is about the past…looking back…always stylized… we know what the past is…. The present is confusing and the future is scary. So let’s go back…which isn’t possible…the present is already the past. Great artists sometimes carry much madness and self importance…Mishima brings that to the forefront of the story. Mishima as a character exists in Shakespearean level of self tragedy …. he is simply an epic figure in his own mind. Often with great ego comes great art. Schrader doesn’t compromise the story he wants to tell as he moves the story along at a perfect pace, jumping around time periods scene to scene and never confusing the viewer. It is shot in color and black and white and also uses varied color balance to create mood for time and place. Set design is spectacular…parts are surreal that helps illustrate the ego of our protagonist. The person who created these grand visions in his mind thinks a great deal of himself. Mishima embraces extreme ideas of masculinity with his physical body and his outward mannerisms… all of which made me wonder who he was trying to convince. All the machismo looked to be a shield to keep people see his inner vulnerability and self. The film ends with Mishima trying to storm a military installation and trying to install the Emperor to power…25 years after World War Two was over…. it’s a very ego-driven pursuit…ultimately Mishima commits ritualistic suicide…perhaps as he had always envisioned …he becomes a character in one of his story’s. The thing is…this film is a great representation of America today … 36 years after it first came out…exaggerated masculinity …. storming of a political facility and holding officials hostage…demanding to go BACK…it’s nutty how close to now it is.

Well, that’s all for our fifteen film review. We’ve gone from the endearingly hilarious American Movie, to the everyday lives and occurrences within an elevator in Lift, to the horrific masterpiece of power and meaningless destruction in Nosferatu, and the absolute blurring of the lines between art and life in Mishima. It has been an absolute blast to not only recommend these films and get to see the quite animated reviews from McKenna, but to also see the wondrous variety of recommendations I received from him. This experience has helped me push outside of my usual film taste and explore other genres, styles of filmmaking, and general approaches of these films. It has challenged me to look past what I usually think of as a fantastic film and to see value in films that aren’t necessarily obvious masterpieces. This has been an extremely valuable experience.

Holiday story: A Day in the Life of an Elf

By Kalei Griffin/Staff Writer

As one of Santa’s elves, I have many tasks to accomplish. Throughout the day, I am in charge of many things. It’s a luxury being one of Santa’s elves. Let me take you through my day! 

Each elf has their own room. Mine is located in the middle of, what we call, the Santa hall; its where the most prized elves stay. Santa calls me his “beloved elf”. Every elf wakes up around 6 in the morning. Some wakeup at 5 just so that they can get a head start, but I’m quite lazy when it comes to waking up so I stick to 6! Once I wake up, I go straight to the designated elf room(bathroom) and get freshened up. I brush my teeth and then do my skin care routine, which takes about 10 minutes. After that is done, I brush out my hair and begin to get dressed. My “uniform” is pretty simple: a hat, a snug dress, and a pair of pointed toe shoes of my choice(most of my shoes are bedazzled hehe). Once my whole morning routine is done, I head down to headquarters for a light breakfast. I usually have 3 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon, and two pieces of toast but sometimes if i’m feeling fancy, i’ll have some of Mrs. Clauses homemade cereal, aka, elf charms. It’s delicious!, but I prefer a warm breakfast. While i’m down in headquarters chowing down on my breakfast, I chat with my fellow elf besties for the meantime. We usually just discuss what we are doing that day, what we are going to eat that day, and sometimes, if there is any gossip going on, we will secretly discuss that as well. 

Now that breakfast is over, all of the elves head to the workshop to receive our tasks to complete for that day. Santa wakes up at 7 because he feels that he needs his beauty sleep in order to function. Once we arrive at the workshop, we wait patiently for him to come down and join us. Once he is completely awake, he joins us on the floor and assigns us our task(s). I usually get the honor of making the stuffed animals and legos; everyone else usually has the more boring jobs like making wooden cars, trains, assembling toys together, etc. It takes no longer than a few hours to make the desired amount of toys for that day, so after we are done, we just find something else to do. We can make more toys, clean, help Mrs. Clause cook, go sledding for a few hours, or have a snowball fight. We usually choose to either have a snowball fight or go sledding. 

After having fun, we join back together to have lunch. It changes every day so we have no idea what we are going to have. My favorite is chili with elf-shaped bread slices. Today we had creamy elf mac and cheese with tomato soup and crackers. It was so yummy! After lunch, we continue our snowball fight/sledding adventure until dinner. 

For dinner, we had a thanksgiving feast basically. Everything you can think of that you would have at thanksgiving, we had. With having a big dinner like that, most of the elves go to bed super early. It’s like they are in a food coma. We eat until we can breathe. Santa, after dinner, always eats a plate or two of chocolate chip cookies with two glasses of milk. When I eat a big meal like that, I have no room for cookies. I don’t know how Santa does it! At this point, everyone heads to bed and relaxes for a few before falling asleep.

You might think that elves are super busy 24/7 and that we don’t have any time to have any fun, but really, it’s the exact opposite! With that being said, that is a day in the life of an elf! 

Holiday Story: Santa Leaves a Mystery

by Kyler Rhoades/Staff Writer

Santa Claus was passed out cold on her fireplace, and Olivia was beginning to regret coming downstairs for a snack. She was in shock, and also a little frightened. Was Santa Claus really in her house? She stopped believing in Santa years ago, but after this, realized that she had been wrong all this time. Unsure of what to do, Olivia tapped on his shoulder. At first, it did no good. Santa was out cold, perhaps tired from all the trips he had been making around the globe. It was three in the morning, and he surely had more places to go. Olivia, still unsure of what to do, started pacing the room. She ventured over to the kitchen, and spotted that the cookies and milk left for him by her little sister hadn’t been touched. Still hungry, she decided to take one of the cookies for herself to enjoy. As she reached for a cookie, she heard a voice, “Ah, taking my snack I see.” 

Olivia quickly turned around, and saw Santa Claus. He wasn’t very tall, had a white beard, and looked almost identical to how you see him portrayed. “Uhm, well, I was a little hungry myself,” Olivia said, startled. Santa laughed, “Oh it’s alright. As a matter of fact, I’m starting to get a little full. Billions of cookies will do that to you.” They began to have a conversation, and Olivia asked a question that Santa loved, “You deliver all of these people presents, but you get nothing in return, what would you want for Christmas?” 

Santa smiled, “Seeing the joy on each and every one of the kids’ faces is enough for me.” After a few minutes of talking, Santa told her he had to go, and for her to keep this interaction their secret. He snapped his fingers, and up the chimney, he vanished. 

Several hours later, Olivia and her family gathered in the living room, ready to open presents. Olivia’s little sister, Madison, noticed a present that she hadn’t seen before. No label on it, nothing. Her parents, also a little confused, told her to open it. There was a note inside, with a riddle on it. The riddle insinuated that it will lead the person reading it to the greatest gift of all. The family then started their journey to find this present. The riddle read, “If a lion had a Christmas music album, what would it be called?” They immediately wondered what they could possibly do which would lead them to the gift. The family all agreed that the riddle seemed very hard to figure out, and how they could possibly use it to find this gift. Then, Olivia remembered, during her conversation with Santa hours prior, in response to him asking what they’d be doing to celebrate Christmas, she noted that she and her family were potentially going to go to the zoo, as it was something her little sister had been begging her parents to do. Unfortunately, her parents tried to buy tickets to go and see the lights, and a fireworks display, but it was sold out. After the conversation she had with Santa resparked in her mind, she said, “The zoo!” Her parents thought it made sense as well, since it said something about a lion in the riddle.

Looking around their home, they looked for more clues; that’s when Madison discovered something stamped on the “Jingle Bells” record they had, which they always listened to on their record player this time of year. Jingle was crossed out, and it instead said, “Jungle Bells!” Madison lifted up the record to discover four tickets to the zoo. Filled with excitement, Olivia, along with the rest of her family, knew one thing was for sure: Santa Claus is real.

Holiday Story: Midnight snack

by Ben Brunsting/Staff Writer

Santa Claus was passed out cold on her fireplace, and Olivia was beginning to regret coming downstairs for a snack. The large man groaned softly but didn’t move and inch. He just remained still at the base of the fireplace. Olivia couldn’t help but let her curiosity get the better of her and tip-toed over to Mr. Clause with the subtlety of an assassin. As she got closer she started to notice more and more details about Santa, Such as his large sack of presents being almost bottomless with colors not even the rainbow has. She discarded the thought of peeking at the presents and continued tip-toeing towards Santa.

 When she finally reached him she got a good look at his face for the first time. His nose and cheeks were red as in the stories, his mouth surrounded by a forest of white hair. There appeared to be no damage to Santa besides the fact that his hat had fallen off. She sneakily grabbed his hat from next to him and tapped on his cheek in an attempt to wake him up. At first there was nothing but groaning but as the presses on his cheeks got harder from her impatience, he began showing signs of waking up. He wrinkled his nose and said, “Please… honey, five more minutes,” in a low voice.

Finally Oliva spoke and said, “Are you talking about Mrs. Claus?”

Her voice surprised Saint Nick and he awoke with a start. His eyes darted around the room to figure out where he was. At first he looked around panicked until he saw his presents. He grabbed the bag and resumed looking around Olivia’s living room until his eyes settled on Olivia holding his hat out in offering. Santa calmed and let out a loud sigh. He accepted his hat from Olivia and stood up. 

“Why, hello there, Olivia, I apologize for waking you.” He spoke softly with a large smile on his face.

“Don’t worry, Santa I was already awake,” she corrected. “I was coming down to get a snack and saw you on the floor.” Her eyes glowed with curiosity while staring at the jolly fat man. 

“Well, that’s good.” He chuckled. “I am sorry, though, it made you worry about my well-being.”

“Are you ok, Santa?” she questioned, her face souring.

“I am in tip top shape, my dear,” he reassured. “Just watch.” He began to wave his hand and light came out and took the cookies and milk Olivia had left out straight to Santa. He took a large bite and a swig to match. After his drink he let out a loud sigh. The light then took care of all of the soot that came out of the chimney upon his descent. Olivia giggled as the light twirled around her and she attempted to spin to follow it. Santa also laughed at the child’s actions and grabbed her so as to stop her. They both laughed and fell to the ground to stop the dizziness. 

As their laughter died down Santa rolled up his sleeve and took a long look at his watch. He sighed and spoke to Olivia. “I’m sorry, my dear, but I must be going. I have many more houses to get to.” 

Olivia looked at him and frowned, but still she nodded in acceptance. Santa patted her on the head and smiled, “I’m glad you understand. now hurry on upstairs so I can put your present under the tree.” She smiled once again and hugged Santa. 

“Will you be back again next year?” she asked.

“Of course, Olivia, I’ll always come back,” he reassured me.

As Olivia looked back one more time while meandering up the stairs Santa waved one more time and said goodbye. She went halfway up the stairs and came back down to see if he had left. When she peeked again he was gone and a new present was under the tree. She smiled and returned to her room and collapsed on her bed. She slid the covers back on top of her and shut her eyes hoping to awaken next on Christmas morning.

Website: https://www.fulcrumgallery.com/Marcello-Corti/Santa-asleep-in-Chair_955946.htm

Holiday Story: Stevie’s Story

by Tyler Young/Staff Writer

Dear Journal,

My name is Stevie, and I will be writing in this journal to describe my day. Now, I started this journal on December 20. It’s only a few days before Christmas! But for an elf, these last days before Christmas are hard.

First, my morning starts like this. I work the night shift for Santa at the North Pole and end my shift at 11:00 p.m. Then I drive my toy car (not life size) back to my little gingerbread house with my wife sleeping in our bed. I crawl into bed and sleep until about 7:30 a.m. My wife usually wakes me up and from there I get out of bed and go to the bathroom. 

Now, us elves are not humans. We don’t use soap when we shower, instead we use maple syrup. Elf skin is not like human skin. We take the maple syrup and use it like soap, but it keeps us smelling great and looking great. Then, I brush my teeth. Normal right? Wrong! We don’t use toothpaste like humans. Us elves suck on a candy cane. It’s practically the same thing. It keeps our mouths minty fresh. I finish up in the bathroom and head to the kitchen. 

My wife is usually kind enough to make me breakfast, but sometimes I do it myself. Today though she prepared me my favorite. She made me a birthday cake, Christmas cookies, an apple, and chocolate milk Now you might be thinking that this is unhealthy. But for elves this covers the main food group. That particular food group is “Happy Food” and us elves live off of Happy foods so it’s good for us.

Once I finish my breakfast and my bathroom routine, it is roughly 8:00 a.m. So I use the day to my best advantage but also not wear myself out. 

Next things next, I sit in my work chair and start ordering toy supplies that I might need for the week in case something comes in late or something is destroyed. But before I do that, I have to review the wishlists that I have been assigned for the week, what supplies I need, and when I need to get those toys assembled. I make myself a list of supplies and order the supplies to my workspace back at Santa’s factory. This takes me about an hour to do.

Now that it is about 9:00 a.m. I’ll usually watch the elf news so I can watch out for the toy stocks or any last minute Naughty or Nice list changes. I get bored after about 30 mins of the news, so I now end up helping my wife with house chores or go to the grocery store to buy happy food or toy supplies. Once I’m done with that it is about 10:00-10:30 a.m. At this hour I usually go outside and make sure the snow is nice and healthy. Snow is considered our grass because it never stops snowing. If it gets too high I take the snow blower and remove some off. 2-3 inches of snow is a reasonable amount on the ground. I usually clear it anyway so I don’t get trapped. When I finish, the time is pushing 11:30 a.m. It gets boring having to wait until 7:30 to go to work. But you have to make the best of it. 

In the afternoon I’ll take a nap or watch some TV and eat lunch. My wife is gone in the afternoon hours so I have to watch the house and make some time for me. For lunch I usually make a pizza, brownies, and a smoothie. You know, happy foods. It’s usually 12:00 when I first lie down to take a nap because it gets boring. I go to the bedroom and just lie down and snooze. But I have to be up or be done with whatever I’m doing by 3:30 pm. This is one of the more magical times for an elf. This is because all the elves in the village leave their gingerbread houses and go to the center of the village where Santa is waiting for us all. From there, his greatness will touch the side of his nose and the big ol’ Christmas tree in the town square lights up and Christmas music starts to play and we all just dance and have a good time for about an hour and a half. We dance, we have conversations, we talk to Santa, and just have an awesome time. We do this every day at the same time starting December 20-December 24 to celebrate the holiday season. 

Evening hours: During the evening hours, my wife and I will eat dinner or chit chat about our days and listen to nice Christmas music or hang up some more decorations for the house. We are considered to be the most festive couple in the North Pole and have won the “Most Festive Award” five years running by Santa himself! It’s such a pleasure. But after I eat dinner, which is usually a turkey or ham with all of the fixings, and spend time with my wife,. I have to start packing my briefcase and get ready for my shift at the factory. It’s a good job and it pays well. There are 250 factories and I work in factory 19 with my buddy Ed. Not to brag but Rudolph himself is our supervisor so I get to talk to “THE Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer” every day! So when I leave to work in my wind up toy car, I park in my parking space which is 12B and walk into the factory and sit in my positional place.

Now that the sun has set and I’m in my workplace. My job is to receive lists and the toy parts I ordered to the office and start building. Since there are 7 billion people in the world and about 3 billion children. There are only 3 million elves. So my list is pretty big. My list usually is about 30 kids a day for 25 days. Now you’re probably thinking “Oh, that’s not that bad.” Well, you have to remember that kids want more than one gift under the tree. So I work until about 11;00 p.m. and get in my Christmas pajamas and go to sleep. That is a day in the life of an elf and it is just about the perfect life. Thank you for reading my story.

Holiday Story: An Elf’s Adventures in december

by Audrey Roberts/Staff Writer

Day 1

December 1, 2020

Most people think we elves work all year round to get presents for everyone.  But that’s not true.  We don’t start work until July.  The term Christmas in July actually originated when it leaked that we start work again in July.  But whatever.  Anyway, we’ve been at it for months now, figuring out what everyone wants and then starting the toy-making process.  While most elves are in the toy making departments-crafting, wood work, painting, gears, naming, fixing-I’m one of the elite elves that works in the researching department.  We get the special honor of figuring out what a kid wants.  As we go through each kid’s life and their likes and dislikes, we figure out what everyone wants.  While it’s tiring going through a lot of the same lives every year, it’s always fun to see how someone’s done since the last time we checked a year ago.

Because interests change, kids don’t get exactly what they want, but if we worked to make sure everyone got what they wanted, we’d be making every single toy at the last minute!  Anyways, my boss, Jingle Wreath (Mr. Wreath), gave me this journal as my ten-year anniversary present.  I’ve worked at this job for ten years and I’ve made sure to work hard.  Considering we only work for half the year, we got to prove we deserve our long breaks!  Anyways, I think I’ll write til Christmas and then take a break until next year.

So long for now, journal.

P.S. My name is Cheery Stocking.

Day 2

December 2, 2020

Today I got to research more last-minute kids.  Last-minute kids are what we call December born kids.  They’re the ones that are tiny little babies that get born in December.  This one girl really stood out to me though.  Her name is Sally Banitch.  Sally is the cutest little baby, but her birth was a hard one.  Her dad died in a car crash and her mom went into early labor because of that same car crash.  Her mom had been so sad because of her husband’s death, but her face got so happy when she saw Sally.  I can tell that they’re going to have a good life together, even if they get a little lonely.  Plus, I can tell Sally will bring back the light into her mother’s eyes!

We all decided that she should get little socks with her name on them for Christmas.  The clothing elves are great at making the softest and warmest clothes, especially for babies.

Also, my friends and I all went to Rudolph’s Hot Chocolate Parlor for dinner!  It was Snowy Bell’s idea and treat.  We all got hot chocolate (of course) and chocolate chip cookies with some candycanes on the side.  It was nice to hang out with them since I’ve been swamped with work.

I’ll write again soon!

Day 5

December 5, 2020

You’ll never believe what happened.  The power went out.  It’s only gone out a few times in Claus history.  Unfortunately, the snow storm was so bad, they still haven’t gotten the lights and trees back on, let alone the equipment everyone needs.  Nothing got done today!

On the bright side, all the departments got to have a free day in the workshop.  The Research department went down and read old records of past children and their histories.  My favorite was about a little boy who made a new Christmas List every month because he couldn’t decide what he wanted.  This all stopped when he turned 10, but his old lists were so cute.

One of them said:

My Christmas lest:

1.I want a buny rabbet

2.I want a fun trip to Disney World

3.I want a twin sister

4.I want Marcie Jones to sit next to me on the bus

5.I want to meet a raindear

I can’t wait to get back to work, even though it’s starting to slow down.  Soon the Research Department will have to join up with the Travel Route Department to help make any adjustments to kids they missed or added that were or weren’t on the list.

Until tomorrow!

Day 6

December 6, 2020

I was cleaning out my closet and found an old picture of some friends I made when I was an intern.  Not all elves get into the Workshop and you have to be an intern first.  In the picture, I realized that five of us didn’t make it.  Unfortunately, one of us got Mint Bite (a very serious winter condition for us elves) and was sent to Florida as an agent.  Merry Icicle got sent to the South Pole to handle the upstart who had been stirring up our naughtiness-meter by spreading lies about Mr. Claus.  He even spread one that made Mrs. Claus seem like a Hippo.

Luckily he’s entered an agreement to always get a present as long as he doesn’t say anything else about the North Pole and its inner-workings, whether true or false.

Then I realized that my best friend in that picture was still my best friend now: Mistle Star.  We both work in the Research Department and can’t wait to go on our annual Skiing trip we take in January to celebrate a job well done.

Write to ya next time!

Day 7

December 7, 2020

I’m so mad I could yell!  Candy Candle came in and demanded, demanded, that we rewrite all of November’s present choices.  She claimed that no one would want anything we had put on that list and we had to start over.  She thinks that because she’s Mr. Wreath’s daughter she owns our department but she certainly does not.  She’s only 12, and already set up for a job in the Painting Department.  Whatever, she won’t have long before she will have to focus on her internship instead of bossing us around.  Either way, her father, our boss, came in and put a stop to her anyway.

In a week, half of us will go to work with the Travel Route Department and the other half will stay in the Research Department to deal with any new comers.  I do hope I get chosen to help with the Travel Route DepaPerrtment.  I’ve never had the chance and would love to try it!

Well, I guess I’ll find out on the 15th.  Write later!

Day 8

December 8, 2020

Today I learned that adding candycanes to your mint tea works better than adding sugar!  It sounds disgusting, but when I told some of the other elves and they tried it, they agreed that it was the most wonderful tasting cocoa they’d ever tasted.

Afterwards, I-

Wait, someone’s knocking on the door…

Alright.  So nobody was at the door but there was a secret letter.  Here’s what it said:

Dear Cheery Stocking, 

This year you have been chosen for Santa’s Holiday Party Committee (SHPC).  As you know, every year, we elves throw a big Christmas celebration in honor of everyone’s hard work, especially Santa who spends almost his entire year working with every department to make each Christmas a success.

Tell no one you are a part of this committee.  Come to the Holiday Meeting Room at 9:30 P.M. tomorrow night.  If you don’t arrive, we will assume you’re uninterested and will invite someone else to the committee.

Don’t be late,

The head of SHPC

I can’t believe it!!  I’ve only heard of the legendary committee!  They’re said to be legendary people, myths, that are so secretive no one knows if they’re real.  For all anyone else knows, the Holiday Party comes from thin air.

I can’t wait for tomorrow night!

Day 9

December 9, 2020

You will never guess who the head of the committee is for the SHPC.  It’s Mrs. Claus!  She was beautiful, too.  Everyone thinks she’s really old with grey hair, but her hair is dyed gray.

Apparently, every year, she invites five new people to the committee to keep up the flow of new, creative ideas for the party.  This year, she decided to pick Starry Mistletoe, Candle Bow, Crimson Present, Ginger Frosting, and me.

This meeting was just about the rules, (don’t tell anyone you’re in the committee, share every idea, give good advice, never make fun of someone elses idea or degrade it, and have fun).  She also said that next meeting we would plan the theme.  Every year the theme is different.  Last year the theme was reindeer and everything was reindeer styled.

Day 8

December 8, 2020

Tomorrow night I get to go to the second meeting.  I’ve been thinking about what theme ideas I could come up with.  I made a list of my best ideas in order of my favorite to least favorite:

1.Gingerbread theme

2.Snowman theme

3.Christmas Tree theme

4.Starry Night theme

The ones that have been done that I remember are the Snowball Fight theme, the Present Swap theme, and the Christmas Carol theme.  I liked the Christmas Carol theme the best!  Everyone would be laughing and having a good time when someone would randomly start singing a carol, and the rules of that party were if anyone started a song, everyone had to finish it together!

So long for now!

Day 10

December 10, 2020

She loved my idea!!!  She thought very highly of my Gingerbread theme and it’s in the top 3.  We get to think them over and then we get to vote for them in two days at our next meeting.  The other two options are an Ornament theme and a Christmas Lights theme.  I really hope my idea goes through, but if everyone else likes a different theme better and thinks it will be more fun, then I want that one to be chosen.

I also got another last-minute child.  This one was a little boy with the name of Joseph Smith.  Joseph is a super-grouchy, but adorable, little boy.  His blue eyes sparkle with mischief whenever he opens them.  I can’t wait to read about his life every year!  I decided to put him down for a cute shirt that says, “My present to you is mischief!” in green and red letters.  On the back of the shirt will be a picture of the Grinch.  I think it will be a great present for him.

Day 11

December 11, 2020

Mr. Wreath came by with some forms and asked us to fill one out if we wanted to be considered for the group that goes to help the travel Route Department.  Of course I filled one out.  A few more people filled some out as well.  There weren’t too many so I think I’ve got a good chance of going this year.

In the cookie room where we go on our breaks, I heard someone talking about the Annual gift exchange.  Ever since the Present themed party a few years ago, someone has left a box with names in the cookie room on December 10.  Every elf takes a name and they get a gift for that person.  I had completely forgotten in all my excitement about getting on the committee.  I went to pick out a name and I got Snowy Bell!  (She’s the one who treated us to Rudolph’s Hot Chocolate Parlor a week ago.

Ooh!  Thinking about that got me to figure out what her present will be!  She brought us to the parlor because she loves hot chocolate and wanted to hang out with her friends.  I’ll get her a hot chocolate machine for her present.  I hope she’ll like it!

Bye for now.

Day 12

December 12, 2020

IT WENT THROUGH!!!!  My idea!  Mrs. Claus and everyone, myself included, voted and mine had the most votes.  Don’t worry, though.  I didn’t vote for my own because that’s cheating and rude.  I voted for the Ornament theme.  Maybe that’s the idea we’ll use next year!

After we figured out what theme to use, we started brainstorming ideas for the party’s theme.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Snacks:

-gingerbread cookies

  • Snowflakes
  • Christmas trees
  • Ornaments
  • Presents
  • Bells
  • Reindeer
  • Wreaths
  • Gingerbread men

-hot chocolate

-eggnog

Decorations:

-gingerbread houses/other gingerbread structures put all around the main entryway (where the party is held), and in all sizes:huge stands and miniature table toppers

-gingerbread cut-outs that go hang up in the room

-the main Christmas tree can have all its ornaments replaced with gingerbread men

Music:

-Christmas music of course

I’m so excited!  I can’t wait to share all my ideas during the next meeting. 

Till tomorrow!

Day 15

December 15, 2020

I better watch out!  I just keep getting good luck.  Today I got my form back that I sent to try to get into the group going to the Travel Route Department.  I’m in!!!

I can’t wait.  I finished up one more last-minute child and then started shutting everything down.  I get to go over tomorrow with some of the others and I’m so excited!!

Plus, earlier, at the SHPC meeting 

Day 20

December 20, 2020

I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while.  We’ve been busy mapping Santa’s route and trying to predict where the storms, blizzards, and any other hazards will show up.  On top of that, planning the SHPC has become another full-time job.  We are busy making all the decorations and finalizing the plans for the treats and activities, plus the music needs to be chosen and put in an order that flows and still keeps the holiday mood in full bloom.  I never knew how much work went into planning the party.

Either way, There are only 5 days left until Christmas and only 24 before Santa’s big sleigh journey.  The work is piling on and I go to sleep exhausted every night.  But it’s the good kind of tired.  It’s the kind you feel when you’ve worked hard and can tell you’re accomplishing something.

Day 22,

December 22, 2020

The route for Santa has been finalized, checked, and quadruple checked.  Now, we all just need to keep an eye on the weather and hope nothing goes wrong.  I remember watching the Santa tracker and, like everyone else, freaking out when the 2004 Great Christmas Eve Snowstorm came roling into Texas.  The people working in the Travel Route Department were so cool, though.  They stayed calm and collected and helped Santa finish his deliveries with no harm to him, the reindeer, or the presents.  Though the sleigh was a bit beaten up.

I hope nothing like that happens this year, but if it does, I hope I can keep as calm and collected as they did.  Along with my mind on that, the decorations are finished and we’re getting ready to hang everything up.   While Santa is delivering presents and everyone else is watching the Santa Progress Tracker, the elves in SHPC all go and hang the decorations up, get the food and drinks set out, and make sure everything is ready.  Of course Mrs. Claus doesn’t get to help us because elves would wonder why she wasn’t watching the Santa Tracker.

Though I doubt she minds since she also seems a bit worried whenever Santa goes on his big trip.

Talk to you soon!

Day 24,

December 24, 2020

Alright.  I know it’s really early but I don’t think I’ll have much time to write once Santa takes off.  Since I’ve last written, the treats were made yesterday, the decorations are hidden and ready to go, and the Travel Route hasn’t changed.  And…one sec, someone is knocking.

It was Starry Mistle.  She says Santa is leaving soon.  When Santa leaves, all the elves and Mrs. Claus gather in the main hall to see him off.  The reindeer take off at his signal, Rudolph’s nose always shining bright, and then the big front doors open up and away he goes.  Once he’s gone, everyone will go to watch the Santa Progress Tracker.  Once he’s halfway done, the elves in SHPC will go set everything up and come back a few at a time, making it look inconspicuous.

Got to go.

Day 25

December 25, 2020

Christmas was incredible.  No weather changes caused any problems and Santa’s ride went without a hitch.  When he got back, he was thrilled to find the theme of the party was a Gingerbread theme!  All the elves partied until early this morning.  We all ate, and laughed, and talked, and sang, and exchanged presents.  Snowy Bell loved the hot chocolate machine I got her.  Turns out, through sheer coincidence, she pulled my name out of the box!

She’s so thoughtful and notices everything.   She knew that Mistle Star and I also go on our annual skiing trip as a job-well-done and decided to get me new skis.  I love them.  They’ve got little stockings with goodies in them to represent my last name.  She had them handmade by a specialist.  She’s so nice that way!

Anyways, after the party slowed down, Santa called our attention to the main Christmas tree, (which was covered in gingerbread ornaments to continue the theme), and we all got our holiday present from him.  This year we all got magical candy canes!  They sound lame, but everytime you lick them, you taste another flavor.  And, some of the flavors will turn your hair a different color, make your eyes have all the colors of the rainbow, and more (but don’t worry, it’s not permanent!).

We’ve all worked so hard, it’s sad to see another year go by.  But I’m glad that I’ve been given so many chances this year.  I’m now a member of SHPC, I got to work with the Travel Route Department, and I’ve read so many wonderful stories about the lives of so many incredible kids.  Plus, now I’m going to leave to go on my skiing trip with Mistle Star!

I’m glad my boss, Mr. Wreath, gave me this journal.  It’s been fun writing about my time.  I can’t wait to look back on these memories and remember how much fun I had!

Well, I’m off!  Until next year!!! And Merry Christmas!

Opinion: We need an art club

by Summer Terry/Staff Writer

Photo Caption: Nevaeh Stewart, 9, talks to Summer Terry, 9, about the possibility of an art club.

“I would join (an art club), if we had one,” said Ariana Carmichael, 9. “I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands, and don’t really know how to spend it.” 

A lot of kids draw in their free time here in GCHS, so I thought, why not ask them about an art club? We don’t really have art clubs here, and I think we should. These are some of the students’ opinions on having one. 

One of the first I asked was Carmichael. “I would like to be a part of something,” she said. “I think it would be really fun to join,” 

Of course, I’m no expert at knowing what people would want, so I went ahead and asked what they’d expect it to be like.

“Just a place to share common interests and art, perhaps a bit of constructive criticism if wanted,” said Carmichael.

“I think that an art club would be a good place for students to work on personal projects. It would also be great to have art club students do collaborative projects for the community, such as painting murals and artwork for the school, or even doing face painting at events,” said Ms. Hannah Johnson, 2D Art teacher.

Students say they’d go alone, but would consider asking their friends to join. Most think having an all-in-one art club would be fun.

 “I think it would be a lot of fun and motivating if we got to do projects for the school,” said Carmichael. “I prefer drawing and 2D art, (but) I think an all in one would be fun!”

I also asked if they’d prefer to do group or individual projects. “I’m honestly on the edge for both of them, but mainly leaning for individual projects,” Carmichael. 

“I’d prefer it to be after school, and such,” said Carmichael. Most seem to want the club after school, instead of before. 

Of course, like any other subject, some people don’t enjoy it that much. “No, (I wouldn’t join) because I don’t like art that much,” said Nevaeh Stewart, 9. She said if she did, she would go “with friends to feel more comfortable” and she would expect to “learn more about art.”

 

Esports leagues provide scholarships, recognition

by Alex Young/Staff Writer

These days video games are a huge aspect of people’s lives and leisure time. Even if you don’t play video games they will most likely still be part of your day. You can see them on the news, in articles, and especially from people talking about them around you. These very video games help people through all kinds of problems in their life or for some it just  helps with their boredom. Since these games are already incorporated with our lives, what if we make something more out of them? What if we could make an esports team that we can use to teach us many things and allow kids to make more friends?

Video games can provide many benefits to teenagers, children, and adults, but for this article we are going to focus on teenagers/adults. Even though many people believe that video games are bad for kids it is actually the opposite. Video games can benefit teenagers in their everyday lives and school. Video games help with teenagers concentration, coordination, and problem-solving skills. In an article from engadget.com dated February 9, 2017, writer Sheila Eugenio stated, “Video games, especially action games have been proven to capture the players’ attention for the entire period of the game.” The reason this is helpful to teens is that this is usually brought about by the players need to complete certain objectives within the game. This helps teenagers have the same mindset in school when it comes to doing homework and completing assignments. Video games can also improve coordination by making the player focus on more than just the screen they have to focus on what they are doing and what to do outside of the game to play the game which also helps with multitasking. These are just some of the many benefits of playing video games but how successful has high school esports been.

Many other high schools have in operated esports teams and gaming into their school and extracurriculars. Two of these school esports teams are in Georgia. These two teams of many in their esports league went against each other in front of CNN. These high school esports teams have helped many kids in their college and high school career when it comes to finding colleges and paying for them. There are many other schools all around the U.S. doing the same thing in some kind of way. These esports teams also benefit both the school and the students a lot when it comes to money and colleges. Many colleges now have esports teams and are looking for players by giving out scholarships. 

The students who are participating in the esports gain a lot more than teamwork, experience, and another thing to put on their college resume. From an article written on September 19, 2019 Brian Seto McGrath for NBCNews.com wrote an article about  apparently you can get scholarships for colleges. Jeremy Murray, a junior at Francis Howell Central High School in St. Charles, MO, watched six of his teammates as they were offered nearly $400,000 in scholarships to play esports in college. Esports can give students great advantages like this scholarship for their college career. There have been many other cases where colleges gave out money. In the same NBC News article, McGrath noted, “In the 2018-19 school year, some 200 colleges in the U.S. offered $16 million in esports scholarships.”

On  September 25, 2019, Mike Sullivan wrote an article for Fox 59 about how scouts are going around looking for players that do very well at video games such as a student from Tipton, IN who received a full paid scholarship from Davenport University. Yes, Indiana has its own esports league now, with thirteen schools involved. Tipton High School teacher John  Robertson is behind the project.

Some high schools that have esports competitions are giving each player on the winning team money for their college tuition. Esports doesn’t just help kids make money; it can also help schools make money. High schools can hold competitions for people to pay to come see. These days many people want to watch sports, so why not local esports? 

Esports teams can be very beneficial in many ways that are useful. It can make both the students and the schools a lot of money. It can help students with college tuition or scholarships to certain colleges. It can also help the player with certain skills such as concentration, coordination, and problem-solving skills. There are even a couple schools that also believe this was a good idea in Indiana who made their own high school league. I believe that we could and should incorporate an esports club into our school. 

 

Theatre Review: Murder on the Orient Express

By Andrea Lenser/Staff Writer

 Photo Caption: Playbill from Murder on the Orient Express, seen Wednesday, March 4 at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. 

The stage adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express was written by Ken Ludwig and is based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name. The story follows Hercule Poirot, a detective who must find a murderer among a lineup of passengers, a conductor, and an old train owner friend, all while being stranded on a train that has a diminishing supply of provisions. The victim is a man named Samuel Ratchett, who receives eight stab wounds in the wee hours of the morning. Simultaneously, the Orient Express hits a snow bank, forcing Poirot to solve the crime quickly, lest the killer strike again. 

  The seven passengers and the conductor accused of the crime are Colonel Arbuthnot, his wife Mary Debenham, Helen Hubbard, Hector McQueen, Princess Dragomiroff, her assistant Greta Ohlsson, and Countess Andrenyi. All of them are unique characters, but they all share something in common: resentment of Samuel Ratchett and a common motive for killing him. 

Shortly after discovering Ratchett dead, Poirot finds a clue that reads, “Remember Daisy Armstrong.” Daisy was a five-year-old girl who was abducted and then killed in New York. It was revealed soon after the discovery of the clue that Ratchett had been the one to murder the girl. All of the passengers had connections to Daisy, so all of them had a motive for killing him. 

So if all of the passengers had the same motive, how did Poirot find the killer? The reveal near the end of the show answers that question. The conductor and the passengers claim that they had all seen a second conductor on the train, despite the fact that there was supposed to be only one. However, they all banded together to create this story to hide the real murderer: each and every one of them. 

Ratchett had eight stab wounds, “some weak and some strong.” The reason that he had eight separate wounds of varying intensity was because eight different people, the passengers and conductor, had stabbed him. They all sought revenge for Daisy’s death and attempted to elude capture by coordinating alibis and lying about a mysterious figure on the train. Poirot, however, was clever enough to see through their lies. 

While the idea of all of the suspects taking part in the murder is an interesting concept, I think that the story would have benefitted more from a more traditional ending. Poirot states at the closing of the production that there were two possible solutions: that all eight had killed Ratchett, or an unidentified person had broken in to the train and left before he/she was detected. However, the latter solution contradicts a statement that Poirot made earlier: “No one could have entered the train because there are no footsteps in the snow. This was an inside job.” If Poirot had just presented the eight-killers solution in a sure manner instead of offering up the idea he had already proven wrong, then I feel that the audience and I would have been more astounded by the twist ending. 

While the ending of the tale was underwhelming, the overall professionalism and attention to detail portrayed by the cast and crew for this production was phenomenal. The most unique aspect of the show was the set and scene changes. Three different settings were used when on the train: three bedroom units, a dining unit, and a lobby unit. However, instead of having blackouts for scene changes, the three locations were set on a round platform that rotated counter-clockwise. Whenever a scene ended and a new scene was to be ushered in, the characters would freeze on the moving platform and let the platform carry them backstage. Meanwhile, the new setting would spin around, making the transitions simple and quick. 

Another aspect of the technical design that added to the uniqueness of the show was the use of various lighting designs. A plethora of lighting gel colors were used, such as shades of red, blue, orange, pink, and purple. The gels were utilized to exhibit the mood being portrayed in a particular scene. For example, when the passengers discovered Mary Debenham unconscious on the ground with a bullet in her arm, the lights were switched to appear a deep red to show the intensity of the scene. 

The use of spotlights also add character to the show. Near the end when the crime is about to be solved, Poirot explains the events and the characters act them out as a flashback. To show that their actions were of the past, the lights are dimmed and spotlights shone on the actors portraying a past event. The spotlights create a contrast between the past and the present so that audience members can tell what is happening at the time and what events had already taken place. 

IRT always goes above and beyond with their shows and Murder on the Orient Express is no different. While the story and the ending of the show were not particularly satisfying, the show is still worth seeing because of the incredible technical design and the professionalism of the cast and crew.   

Little Women: Book Vs. Movie Review

By Andrea Lenser/Staff Writer

Whenever a well-known classic novel is adapted for film, controversy is sure to arise. Movie directors must make tough decisions on what details of the book should be included and should be cut. In many cases, the movie is not received well by fans because of the varying opinions on what should be included in the film. However, Little Women was able to overcome this precedent and was acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. 

Little Women tells the story of the March sisters and their journey to finding their place in society despite their poverty. The sisters live in a comfortable home with their mother, Marmee, and their housekeeper while their father is off fighting in the war. Meg, the oldest sister, had a yearning for luxury, but she never let that hope get in the way of the care and nurturing she provided to her sisters and mother. Jo, the second-oldest sister, was strong-willed and fearless. She liked to write and much preferred to dress and act like a man rather than as a lady. Beth, the second-youngest, was bashful, but always did whatever she could to help her family and anyone around her. She also had a great love for music, especially piano. Amy, the youngest, was materialistic about exquisitely beautiful possessions, but she dealt with this desire by painting and sketching what was important to her. 

Another important character was Laurie, the March sisters’ next door neighbor. He lived with his grandfather in a mansion, but he was not happy due to his extreme sheltering. With the help of the girls, specifically Jo, he is able to break away from the mansion and experience real life for the first time. The sisters and Laurie have many adventures together, some exciting and adventurous, some heartbreaking. One trial that they had to overcome was the untimely death of the third sister, Beth. The group grew closer together during this time and learned all about trust and forgiveness. 

The novel highlights many other important messages that the sisters and Laurie learn throughout their journey to adulthood. One simple lesson taught to them by their mother was to always give what could be given. For example, on Christmas morning the girls gave up their lavish breakfast so that a poor family would have something to eat on Christmas. Their father also supplied them with encouragement and words of wisdom through his letters, inspiring them to always be the best version of themselves. These constant reminders guided them into growing up to be generous and kind adults that their future spouses could appreciate. 

The Little Women novel has 47 chapters, so of course the film could not include every detail, but it is clear that the directors and producers painstakingly scrutinized the book to make sure the portrayal of the book was as accurate as possible. The appearances of the characters could have perhaps been more accurate, but the attitudes of the characters could not have been more on point. The scenery and clothes were also exquisite and explained the time period well. 

One interesting detail of the movie is that it is told in flashbacks. The novel is told chronologically in time, whereas the movie starts where the book ends. It starts with Jo attempting to publish a book called Little Women, a journal of the many adventures she and her sisters had experienced. It then shows her life as an adult and her reminiscing about the past. The flashbacks are unique to the movie and complement the novel well, even if the story is being told in a slightly different way. 

The filmmakers also did a wonderful job of developing the characters and showing their growth. An example of this happening is with Jo. In the early flashbacks, she is moody and rash in her decisions, whereas in the later ones, she is more mature about her actions and it is clear that she has learned from her past mistakes. At first, Jo was quick to refuse and then change her mind on her engagement to Laurie, but she realizes later that her rash decision to be with Laurie would have negatively affected her later on in life when she discovers that he is not her soul mate. 

Overall, both the novel and the film exceed expectations. If you’re a bookworm who is detail-oriented, then reading the book is the way to go. If you’re more of a visual learner and prefer to see the whole picture and not focus on too many details, then the movie is more for you. However, the story is what is most important, and both the novel and movie are masterpieces worth exploring.