Archive for December, 2010

Diving Deeper into the MKA Book Fair

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

– Leah O’Beirne

If you were to dive into the sea of books at this year’s MKA book fair, you might have drowned! MKA is home to the largest scholastic book fair in the country, with thousands of books from which to choose, suited for both the young and the young at heart. This year’s theme was, “Dive into Reading,” and with the amount of books at the event, the possibilities were endless. Before the book fair was even set up on any of the campuses, parents were invited to spend an evening with Dominique Browning, author of Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas and Found Happiness. The book fair officially kicked off on Sunday, November 7, at the middle school. There was an ice cream social, and if that wasn’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of the cookbook, “The Cake Bible” (2009 IACP Cookbook of the Year Award winner), was signing her fabulous book.

Perhaps the greatest part about the MKA book fair is the extraordinary authors that come to visit our three campuses. This year David Shannon, Jon Scieszka, and Sarah Weeks visited Brookside. Shannon is the author and illustrator of the commemorated NO, David! series. Scieszka is the author of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairy Tales, along with many other books. Sarah Weeks has written over fifty children’s books, while also helping to establish ART, a traveling group of authors, who perform reader’s theatre across the country. The Middle School also received three guest speakers – Jon Scieszka, T.A. Barron, and John Connolly. Barron has written over twenty incredible books, and Connolly is a New York Times bestselling author and freelance journalist for the Irish Times.

Here at the Upper School, we enjoyed one of the most inspiring guest speakers to ever appear at MKA. Liz Murray is the author of Breaking Night, a memoir of Murray’s incredible life story. Born to two drug addict parents in the Bronx, Murray completed high school (after dropping out) in two years, won a New York Times scholarship, and graduated from Harvard in 2009. When Murray spoke to the Upper School, she talked about her numerous obstacles and how she overcame them. Liz’s life began to turn around after her mother died of AIDS, causing Murray to realize that instead of dwelling on what she didn’t have, she should be thankful for what she did have. Liz realized she was healthy and young, and therefore started to knock at the doors of various schools throughout New York. She was finally accepted into the Humanities Preparatory Academy. Every day after school, Liz would work tirelessly in an effort to maintain straight A’s, and following heir study sessions, she would return to wherever she was living on the streets. After much dedication and hard work, Liz was accepted to Harvard University and her story was given the identity of “Homeless to Harvard.” Whatever people call Liz’s story, it is truly amazing; she has overcome unimaginable obstacles in order to become successful. Liz’s story provokes one to appreciate how lucky one truly is, and here at MKA, we are especially fortunate to have a book fair as wonderful as we do.

The End to A Memorable Season: Cougars Vs. Minutemen Goes Down to The Wire

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

– Aaron Stagoff-Belfort

The MKA Cougars soccer team has been startlingly dominate this season, led by co-captains Travers Nammack and Kyle Duca.  This squad amassed a regular season record of 17-2-1 and has been poised for playoff excellence.  The Cougars had a heartbreaking OT loss to Gill Saint Bernard’s earlier this week, and then began to prepare to face rival Newark Academy in the semi-finals of their tournament.

As game time drew closer, the anticipation to see the game was felt by many MKA students.  Some of the students were let out early while others could only strain their heads out classroom windows trying to get a good look at the pitch.  Finally, when everyone was let out, fans came running down to the field to see the game.  The rivalry between the Minutemen and the Cougars has heated up considerably over the past year, as both teams thrived in the regular season.  A playoff matchup seemed imminent.  The Cougars had won the first two regular season matchups against the Minutemen with a 3-2 victory at Newark and a 3-0 blowout on Homecoming on the Cougars home turf.  This was the third matchup, a final chance to extend an already memorable season.

The Cougars quickly fell back 1-0 but they seemed primed to score at any second.  Using a balanced attack featuring Sophomore Miles Hackett and Junior Steve Piela, the Cougars stormed down the field.  However, it was Senior Michael Mitrovic who finally put the ball in the net towards the end of the first half, evening the score to 1-1.  The first half ended that way and it seemed MKA was making a comeback.

As the second half started, MKA remained in control of the ball, almost scoring several times.  Then disaster struck.  Newark finally brought the ball down to MKA’s side and took a shot.  The ball hit off an MKA defender, spiraling into the goal, giving Newark the lead.  For the rest of the second half the Cougars came brutally close to scoring many times.  With less then a minute left, MKA took a corner kick, surely their last shot.  With many cheers from the crowd, goalie Matt Lane came down to play offense and attempted to head it in.  He just missed and when the game ended Newark Academy emerged victorious.  While Newark fans stormed the field, some MKA players collapsed while the crowd was in a visible state of shock.

While the season may not have ended the way the Cougars desired, they played exceptionally well, accumulating one of the best records in MKA soccer history.  It was a memorable season indeed.

“Conversations”

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

– Zoe Ferguson

“Conversations,” the Upper School’s fall play performed November 4-13, opens with a distraught-looking Sarah Cuneo—in an excellent suit of duckie-print footed pajamas—waving around a tennis racket like her life depends on it.  And for the most part, believe it or not, the play continues on that level of hilarity and profundity.  Conversations is a series of short one-act plays that investigate humans’ ability, and sometimes inability, to communicate with one another through speech.

JC Svec masterfully directs six one-acts by various playwrights.  “Whatever,” by Craig Pospisil, is the first piece in the presentation.  Alexa Adderley plays Liz, a worn-out, properly dressed woman who tends to Jessica, Sarah Cuneo’s character, who fancies herself the number-one fan of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Next, also by Pospisil, is “Class Conflict,” in which a hilarious interaction between a five-year-old, Lauren Friezo, wearing a suit, and her polar opposite Billy, played by Jordan Elman, who loves Hot Wheels and Batman.

A very intense piece, “An Interview” by David Mamet, features Sarah Cuneo as the Attendant and Ed Rosini as an attorney.  It took me the entire duration of the act to realize where the interview was taking place.  Cuneo grills Rosini on his past, what he may or may not have done, in a way that makes one fear that they may someday find themselves being interviewed by someone as prying as her character.  However, Sarah Cuneo layers very funny undertones into her lines, and seems to master the tone of the Attendant.

My personal favorite of the entire series is “On the Edge,” another one-act by Craig Pospisil.  Dan Kwartler’s Gene embarks on a conversation he never thought he’d have with Sammy, played by Alexa Adderley.  The two engage in a give-and-take discussion, teaching each other things about other people that they might never have otherwise discovered were real.  The ending is ambiguous, yet satisfying; the play would probably have been worse if it ended on a more defined note.  This way, the viewer can interpret the silence whichever way they wish.

The last piece before the intermission is “Stop Staring” by Lauren Friezo, who plays Nikki.  On the bus that serves as the setting for this skit, Nikki shares a two-seater with John, played by Ed Rosini, an obnoxious man with the same Bronx accent as Nikki.  Refreshingly humorous after “On the Edge,” the piece ends with an unexpected laugh from the audience as a man (Jordan Elman) sitting across from the bickering pair stops eating Chef Boyardee and does a quick wardrobe change.

The ultimate section of the two-hour ensemble is titled “After Liverpool – A Suite of Pieces” by James Saunders and arranged by JC Svec.  Hard to follow at times and funnily relatable at others, the six actors of “Conversations” engage in a fast-paced reflection on the way men and women interact and deal with daily relationship issues.  Essentially, the conclusion seems to be that most people fail to compromise with or understand the opposite sex.

Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

– Noah Kahan

Over the past 2 years, Kid Cudi has been a rare musical success story. He represents the small part of the industry that garners attention for music that is filled with heart and soul. His journey to success was very difficult, as he asserts on his album Man On the Moon: The End of Day, his first studio album, which was released last September. The album chronicles his aspirations. He introduces himself as a depressed man who desires nothing more than to be successful. His sophomore album Man On the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, removes listeners from his psychedelic dreams, and places them into his reality. This year has been an eventful one for Kid Cudi. Throughout 2010, he has proven that the fame that came with his release of MotM, has made him more messed up than he already was. Over this year, he struggled with cocaine addiction, punched a fan at a concert, was arrested for criminal mischief, and was caught drunk on camera by TMZ’s cameramen. At no point on MotMII, does Cudi play the victim. Based on the issues his fame has brought him, the tone of his album is surprising. Although the album is extremely dark, Kid Cudi never seems to feel sorry for himself. He paints a vivid self-portrait with the help of strong guests including Cee-Lo, Mary J Blige, Kanye West, Cage, Chip Tha Ripper, and others.

From the beginning of the MotMII, he creates a sort of narration, which takes a different form than the narration presented on his last album, there is no point where Common, a rapper who provided a voiceover narration throughout the last album, preaches. Instead, Kid Cudi establishes an unreliable narrator whose narrations (when he provides them), occur at the beginning of his songs. In “Scott Mescudi vs. The World,” he sets this up, by spitting in his usual rapping-singing hybrid style, “What up? How’s everyone doing? You are now in the world I’m ruling.”  He continues this narration style on the second track, “REVOFEV,” when he raps, “Welcome. Welcome you. Hey. I am your big brother. What do I have to say to the kids?” The tone of the song is very positive, he explains to listeners that they should never be down no matter how tough life gets. On the next song, “Don’t Play This Song”, the narrator is gone, focused on rapping about drugs. A sense of darkness gradually creeps onto the album through the tracks “Mojo So Dope”, “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young” and “The Mood”. During this section of the album, as his music becomes increasingly dark, his rapping gains momentum, creating this contrast that works very well. This trend continues through the next section, which recounts the period, during which Kid Cudi became entrenched in partying. “Mr. Rager”, the title song is incredibly anticlimactic, yet the anti-climax creates an intriguing dynamic, the chorus “Mr. Rager, Mr. Rager, tell us where you’re going tell me where you’re headed,” represents this concept that Cudi, Mr. Rager, does not know what is happening to him. He follows it with a song that obviously references his addiction to partying, but more specifically, the cocaine addiction he struggled with in the past year, it features Mary J. Blige, a fellow ex-drug addict. The concept of the song is that a drug addict turns to drugs because they think there is no other way to handle their problems. In order to end this section of partying obsession, Cudi has a song titled “The End”. He’s ending his addiction to drugs and partying. His final section is about his growth and emergence from the dangerous place he was in.

Throughout the entirety of the album, Kid Cudi has a strong idea of what he wants to portray, and at no point does he lose sight of his goals. From beginning to end, MotMII is a diamond that brings you on a rollercoaster of emotions. The album contains happiness and sadness, praise and condemnation of drugs. But most of all, this album represents Kid Cudi’s growth as an artist. It is structurally more cohesive, and more accessible than his last album, which set the bar high for this album. So, those of you who were not fans of MotM, I suggest you give the sequel a chance. It may grow on you.

Grade: A

Opinion: A Sad Day for Our Nation: Midterm Elections 2010

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

-Rafi Bildner

As I stared at the screen and watched, hour-by-hour, the Election Day returns come in, the true sadness of what our nation faces hit me all at once. This wasn’t just a few people from one specific party getting booted out of office – these were dedicated public servants who had devoted decades of their lives to fighting for their constituents, and on one tragic night, lost their ability to make a difference. Remarkable senators such as Blanche Lincoln, and Russ Feingold, veteran congressmen like James Oberstar and Ike Skelton, and of course, one of the most well-liked, and well-respected governors throughout our country, Ted Strickland, lost his job on November 2nd. As I sat there, more and more depressed as each hour passed, and as the map transformed into a gloomy, ominous shade of red. I asked myself: how was this the same America that had voted for such overwhelming reform just two years prior? Had we not already learned the painful lessons of putting Republicans in control in Washington? Although to be exact, the United States Congress lost 317 years of experience on November 2nd, 2010, to me, it appeared that our nation as a whole moved back a few thousand years: all I could ask myself as I tried to fall asleep that night, was simply this: what had happened to this great country?

Sure, call me naïve as to how distraught I am over the election: it makes sense, the pundits say. A natural backlash to incumbent power – this has happened many times throughout this nation’s history – the Populist party of the late 19th century, and of course Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America in 1994. Others make the obvious point that people, no matter what, vote on their wallets: no matter who is in office, it’s the economy that guides them at the polls. Finally, of course, there is the notion that Congress hasn’t produced the results that the American people want to see: simply put, they haven’t met the expectations set for them, and thus, must be reprimanded.

I want to make one thing clear: I do not dispute any of these theories: they are all very straightforward, and clearly put some meaning behind what happened this November. However, what I want to briefly talk about is what I believe this election has taught us about our nation – and this is what saddens me so deeply.

We no longer live in a rational society, that values intelligence, intellectualism and strong leadership. We no longer live in a nation that chooses its leaders based upon credentials, and credibility, but instead based on partisan slander and illogical notions. Our Founding Fathers diligently studied the philosophies of John Locke and Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Ask many members of the incoming 112th congress who these individuals were and they would be hard-pressed to find an answer for you. Why? Because the voters of this country proved this past November, that the only credential for getting elected is to say the following: “We got to make government smaller, and we need to cut taxes.” Oh yeah, and if you live in a Kentucky, throw in a statement about not supporting the Civil Rights Act, and that is sure to be a winning candidate.

But again, I digress: what makes me so nervous, when thinking about this country’s future is the civility that fled our borders over the last few months. Is it even possible to have a rational, civil debate, about the real issues that matter anymore? How can we possibly move forward when the very people that are taking control of Washington in January still have offered no solutions as to how they will fix this country’s problems? This is the fundamental flaw in our society right now: it simply does not matter if a politician has no credibility, intelligence, or even a plan as to how they intend to change the current situation. The American people showed that anyone – absolutely anyone, could get elected, as long as they weren’t already in office, and said the magic words: cut taxes.

Well, as we very well know, this most likely won’t happen, and for that matter, it’s likely that absolutely nothing will happen during the 112th Congress. This country has lost its way, and I really do fear for the future. I desperately want to live in a nation that values intelligence, respects strong leadership, and most of all, values civility. Right now, it appears this is simply too much to ask. For the sake of future generations, I hope this changes.

Editor’s Note: This is an opinion article, and as such, does not reflect the feelings of The Academy News or its staff. If you would like to respond, email academynewsmka@yahoo.com.

PETA: Helpful or Hurtful Animal Rights Activists?

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

– Anna Sheinaus

Peta's risqué Human Barbecue Protest

We’ve all thought about the idea of animal rights at one point or another; deciding between getting a hot dog or salad at lunch, choosing cruelty free products, or even watching Lady Gaga strut down the carpet in a meat dress at the VMAs. Some choose to express their beliefs about animal rights quite openly, such as PETA or People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA was founded in 1980, and attempts to communicate to the masses that “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.” There is no doubt that PETA has brought the plight of animals to the consciousness of many, using attention-grabbing campaigns; but, is it beneficial to the animals rights movement? This question has been subject to much debate since the organization began. Feminist groups criticize PETA’s use of scantily clad woman, and believe it trivializes the serious issue of animal rights.

Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of the group, believes that any publicity is good publicity, and muses that it is PETA’s duty to be “press sluts” (Michael Specter, ‘The Extremist’ The New Yorker, 2003). In addition to their publicity garnering tactics, PETA’s views on animal rights are highly controversial even amongst fellow animal rights organizations. They oppose the no-kill movement, and in fact encourage the humane use of euthanasia. The Humane Society of the United States, however, believes that animals should only be euthanized if they are too aggressive to be adopted or too sick to be treated. PETA are also opponents of animal testing, regardless of how beneficial the garnered information would be to scientists and human society. Obviously, this is highly controversial among Human Welfare organizations, which argue that animal testing saves lives. So, is PETA helping the advancement of animal rights? The debate can be further explored.

Even if you are not well-versed in the field or animals rights, chances are that you have seen PETA’s radical campaigns in some way or another, whether they are plastered on billboards, published in popular magazines, or have been demonstrated in your hometown. PETA is known for its absurd, even borderline offensive, publicity stunts. Among the best known of these exploits are their “Human Barbeque” demonstrations. In an attempt to express the cruelty of the meat industry, PETA supporters covered their naked bodies in fake blood and posed dead on barbeques.  Although it did garner media attention, most of it was due to the naked women PETA was exploiting. Much of the media attention was negative, as various organizations deemed it degrading to both humans and animals. This certainly was neither PETA’s first nor last extreme demonstration. PETA refuses to stop, believing that the publicity will get more people interested in the animal rights movement. Yet, their increasingly in-your-face techniques might in fact do more harm than they do good. One of the most well known Anti-Peta groups is the Center for Consumer Freedom, which runs the website petakillsanimals.com. The website criticizes PETA on its most contentious stance: its euthanasia policy. When you load the Peta kills animals website, you’ll be bombarded with facts and numbers that at first glance look innocent, but with further investigation turn morbid. According to the website, they represent the number of animals that PETA “puts down” or euthanizes year by year. One might think” This is absurd! Aren’t they supposed to fight for the rights of animals?” This is true, but unfortunately that sometimes means having to euthanize animals if they are chronically ill or cannot find homes. It is a sad reality, and PETA is often criticized for their viewpoint on this sensitive topic.

Personally, I am somewhat split on this debate. Four years ago, as a new vegetarian, I was attracted to PETA’s desire to draw the regard of the general population. Their antics were entertaining to me, and drew me further into the animal rights movement, thinking, “Hey, these people have a sense of humor.” However, as I did more research into the world of PETA and became more involved with their campaign, I realized I did not fully agree with their tactics. First of all, many of their demonstrations are often demeaning and offensive, and belittle the dire predicaments of animals all across the world. While I do agree that their publicity stunts catch the attention of people, they do so at the cost of what really matters: the rights of the animals they are fighting for.

Cormac McCarthy Writes The Cat in the Hat

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Where we goin’? asked the boy.

Dunno said the cat.

I thought we were goin’ home.

We are. If it’s still there.

And so they trudged and so they walked. The dead trees swaying, the decrepit January air beating down their backs. Further up on the highway they saw an abandoned Citgo where they stayed the night. The cat read from his book. The boy amused himself starring into the sparsely lit emptiness of the sky. Sometimes the boy thought about the sister. He tried not to.

They awoke in the dawn and ate beans.

That’s a funny name said the boy.

Name?

On the can you got the food out of. Says Heinz.

Ain’t no Heinz said the cat. Just a company.

Company?

Like the buildings we sleep in. People like them made the food for everyone before the storm came.

The cat loaded the cart with some food he found, his book, the umbrella, and the teacup. While the boy busied himself looking in the cart, the cat checked the revolver to make sure if it was loaded. It was.

Cat? said the child.

Yeah, boy.

Where’s the fish?

The cat sighed.

Already told you said the cat. He won’t be with us no more.

The boy instinctively looked at the cat’s revolver upon hearing this.

I wish you wouldn’t have to use that thing.

Either I use it on them, or they use it on us. You wanna end up like fish?

The boy shook his head. They walked for the rest of the afternoon, taking a break at midday for the boy to nap. The cat stood guard. A branch rustled behind the cat. He saw a strange, deformed creature, with blue hair, deathly pale skin and a tattered red jumpsuit. The red suit was emblazed with a white circle, inside spelling Thing 2. The cat assumed the skin had been poisoned by the storm, like the other one they’d met.

What’re you doin’ with that boy? asked Thing.

Not whatever you have in mind replied the father.

You look awful hungry. How long you been out here?

The father brandished the revolver.

One more step and I’m firing.

Thing 2 stood forward and the cat didn’t hesitate. The bullet pierced him through his upper left sternum, stopping his heart. The father heard another rustling behind him. It was the boy, awoken by the rattling of the firearm. The boy simply nodded, and rose.

They continued onward through the desolate Missouri terrain. It’d be a long time before they made it home to clean up the house for mom.

An Interview with Bobbi Brown

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07260/818129-129.stm

1)      What inspired you to venture into the makeup industry?

a.       I’ve always loved makeup. When I was a little girl, I used to watch my mother get ready and sit transfixed as she applied her white eye shadows. When I was older and thought I was going to drop out of college because I couldn’t find anything that interested me, she asked me what I would do if it was my birthday and could do anything in the world. I told her I would go to the department store and play with makeup. She told me to become a makeup artist, and that what I did!

2)      What would you like readers to take from your book and your experiences?

a.       A lot of young women are confused about their appearances and how to make themselves look and feel their best. There are so many unrealistic standards of beauty surrounding young girls today. It’s about finding what you love about yourself and enhancing those features, not focusing on the bad. Small steps make a big difference – a great haircut, a good diet, or a beautiful blush can all give young women the confidence they need to feel confident and empowered.

3)      What do you think constitutes true beauty?

a.       Happiness and confidence. Nothing looks better than a big smile and knowing what makes you look and feel good.

4)      What are make-up essentials you think every girl should have?

a.       Concealer; it’s the secret to the universe, instantly making you look more refreshed. Blush; a pop of pink blush on the apples of your cheeks instantly lifts the face. Lip Gloss; a swipe of gloss will instantly polish off your look. And, of course, a smile!

5)      What is your favorite make-up or beauty tip for teen girls?

a.       Have fun and experiment with your looks. It’s about doing what makes you feel confident and comfortable. Remember, though, you want makeup to enhance your features, not hide them. Also, nails are a great way to experiment with color. The dark purples, muddy browns, and khakis that are out right now will always look good on your nails even though they may not be the best shade for your lips or face.

6)      What are you inspired by in fashion and beauty?

a.       I am inspired by how makeup and fashion empower women to look and feel their prettiest and most confident. I love sharing my knowledge on the techniques of good artistry, how to find the right makeup products for your skin, how to apply them, the best tools to use, etc. With the right products, techniques, and tools, anyone can be their own makeup artist.

7)      What do you think is an appropriate, achievable, and pretty everyday make-up routine for a teenage girl?

a.       I always suggest this quick 5-minute basic makeup routine:

Even your skin tone with a tinted moisturizer with SPF all over your face. Next, cover problem spots with foundation and concealer as needed. Add color with blush on the apples of your cheeks, and add shine with a sheer color across your lips. Optionally, define your eyes with a coat of black mascara.

8)      I see that Hilary Duff wrote the forward. What inspired you to use Hilary Duff to write the forward and be such a big part of your book?

a.       Hilary Duff is a celebrity that has been in the spotlight since an early age, and even she has her own insecurities that she has had to overcome – this is something every teenage girl needs to hear. Hillary is also a firm believer of being beautiful on the inside as well as out. Her kindness and openness to discuss her insecurities is inspirational.

9)      What do you think is the most common make-up mistake teen girls make?

a.       Not wearing the right color foundation. Foundation should blend seamlessly into the skin. Your neck should NEVER be a different color then the rest of your face.  Your foundation should be made up of yellow undertones (not pink) as all people, no matter what color their skin is, have yellow undertones. To find the best shade for you, swipe a line onto the side of your cheek and step into natural light. The color should disappear into the skin.

10)   What is your favorite make-up look on teen girls?

a.       While good technique and the right makeup can make a difference, confidence is key to looking and feeling your best. Any makeup, no matter the color/texture/etc. can look great if worn with the right attitude.

11)   What do you wish you knew as a teen about make-up or beauty?

a.       That it’s OK to look different from everyone else, and that you don’t have to look like a Barbie. When I was younger, everyone had blond hair and blue eyes or tried to achieve that look. I was 5 feet tall with brown hair and brown eyes. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I too was beautiful. Right now, the girls have a hard time because they don’t look like the celebrities they see everywhere, and there is so much pressure to look great because their images are all over the internet.

12)   What’s your favorite part about what you do?

a.       I love sharing what I’ve learned with the countless young women I meet. Helping women and girls feel beautiful and realize their full beauty potential means everything to me. Everyone is pretty, but everyone with the right makeup can be pretty powerful!