The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

In God We Trust?

How can I think of new and positive ideas to talk about when my thoughts are constantly being interrupted by the many uplifting reminders that our country is currently in a recession? I want to be intrigued with new topics and conversation starters but I can’t turn my head without hearing someone prelude their statements with, “In these tough times…” Today I sit in the waiting room of the endless, unopened doors of opportunity; I am on the top of the mountain peak of life where they sky is the limit, and in a few weeks I should be more than eager to dive, arms open, into the ocean that is the real world. But… I am looking down, into this imminent ocean now, and its heavily polluted, many are drowning fast and even though I am teetering on the edge of reality ready to take the plunge, someone is going to have to push me. While I should be more than ecstatic to graduate from a university and be the first in my family, I am terrified of what is to come because of our society’s current state of peril and depression.

  The only place I thought I could possibly escape these constant reminders turned out to be where I felt the effects of our current crisis the most. The recession hit home when I was sitting in Easter Sunday Mass at my local parish in Orange County. The priest gave his homily, of course, on the current economic status. He assured the congregation that in such unstable times, we need only to put our trust in God. He said we should be living like its Easter Sunday everyday but in a “Good Friday world.” So basically, he is saying to celebrate and be joyous every day while we live a life of fasting and minimalism. This is a hopeful state for our acquisitive society, especially this specific crowd in Newport Beach. It was comforting to know that people are turning to their faith in the face of adversity, which provides community and spirituality to help through difficult times. But is faith as fulfilling when it is only used as a crutch?

 On the contrary, May 5, 2009 the front page of Newsweek magazine read “The Decline and Fall of Christian America”. Inside it brought to light how almost two thirds of the public now say religion is losing influence in American society, and the number of Americans who think religion "can answer all or most of today's problems" is now at a historic low of 48 percent, according to a recent poll. I could not help but think, were people giving up hope because their chosen god was not saving them from suffering?

  Recently an interview on CBS News discussed the role of religion in a time of economic crisis by questioning various religious leaders. A Reverend responded, “Faith teaches us that we should not align our selves with materialism and therefore the recession should not affect our faith or our hope in God.” This concept was hard to swallow in a church filled with people who only attend Easter and Christmas Mass. Looking around at all these people squeezing their eyes shut and probably praying for an improvement in the stock market made me start to abandon my faith.  I couldn’t help but speculate the validity of prayer and the reasoning behind it.

 Thankfully our forefathers knew the struggles we would face and imprinted In God We Trust onto our currency as a reminder of who to turn to when all we have left is a dollar. If faith provides strength through God to help us through our challenging times then it must have the ability to bring people together and out of despair. Yet while studies show more and more people’s faith diminished because of the economic status do we continue to instill our only trust in God or should we abandon our faith and take it upon ourselves to find hope for our great depression? 

-Madeline L. Weese

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We really, really love sports

“ Jordan , for three – AND IT’S GOOD!” I’ve said it and you’ve said it, as we fire another piece of wadded up paper towards the trashcan. We all love MJ, but that’s not the point here. We love sports, a lot.

To start, we have this strange infatuation with sport stats. People rattle stats off as if they are solving a metaphysical quandary, or like they are doing the business of splitting the atom. We listen to them intently – “In 2007, Kobe became the youngest player to reach 20,000 points. Hank Aaron used to hold the record for most career home runs in the Major Leagues with 755, until he was surpassed by Barry Bonds. In the 2007-2008 season, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 42 goals. A-Rod signed the richest baseball contract in history at $275 million.” Blah, blah, blah. If you aren’t betting on the games, why bother memorizing these stats? It’s like you have to know stats to justify that you are a sports fan. Can’t I just enjoy watching the game? I’m a fan of you shutting up about field goal percentages – that’s what I’m a fan of.

I was sitting around the other day and began thinking about the playoff hockey games that were going to be aired later in the night. I didn’t stop there, I picked up my phone and started reading predictions, injury lists, line orders, and so on. I did it like it mattered. I guess what it comes down to is not whether or not it matters, but how much it matters. Does social justice matter? How about poverty? But damn, those Red Wings look good on paper.

We talk about teams like they are our teams or as if we are a part of them. “Let’s go boys!” we scream. And when they win we say, “We did it.” Personally, I didn’t do jack-diddly. I drank a beer and barbecued. The only sweat I broke came from the flames of the coals. But anyway, “We did it.”

Game's on, gotta go.

-Alex Tandy

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Have Ta'en Too Little Care of This

O! I have ta'en Too little care of this. Take physic, pomp; Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, That thou mayst shake the superflux to them, And show the heavens more just.

I've exhausted my mind during rare conscious moments with these words...the grief of King Lear, the question of perspective.
Joan Didion made note of the "unremarkable circumstances" of the day on which the "unthinkable" occurrs..."the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames, the swings where the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy." Seldom do we anticipate the events that forever change us. Rarely do we dream we will trek the territory we'd stationed in the realm of something separate and surreal.
"You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. The question of self-pity."
Perspective has forever changed. I came-to that day knowing it was all becoming wrong, my darling. So did you. Something inside us, perhaps the curious quality that syncs our nightly dreams--our beat changes--sent Mayday warnings to our senses, bore in us an animal instinct that the seasons were due for a shift. I have taken too little care of this. I sat up beside you, you weren't the same. I could tell you were going fast, I could feel the eruption of nerves. Who knew that we would wake at dawn on the careless track of one life, and derail by dusk to be thrust on another?
"The question of self pity"
Upon these events, the hovering goal of eventual completion, hefty means for happy ends, changes its course. How little we expect it; life as a steady frame embedded in slabs of foundation, now a broken house succumbed to eternal renovation.
"You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."
These times of adversity reveal character, love. The evils that lurk beneath your skin, those only palpable in the darkness of alarm, come to front and NO I don't want to hear your excuses. The shock of this malignant reality-delivered so plainly by Moira's hands, yes- will cripple and make devils of us if we fail to reach for truth. That is the only way we can make this right again, that is the only way we stay strong. We must atone after taking too little care of this.

Alison May
Photo: Carden's Design: Ashley's Photo Shoot

Monday, April 27, 2009


"Bro," or Anthony Smulders, will forever have a place in the hearts of many men. As a member of ADG (which he moderated at LMU) I, along with hundreds of other members, had the unmatched pleasure of spending quality time with a man that most students saw in passing or avoided as a biology prof. The truth is that Brother Smulders is one of the most decent and kind men I have ever met. He never stopped encouraging; he was never afraid to make sure to correct someone when they messed up; he was never, ever hesitant to give someone a second chance. All he cared about is people caring for each other.

It's the passing of men like this that can shake people to the core. Brother Smulders was a member of ADG for almost forty years. He was a national president, as well as man of the year seven times. He always played the role of coach, mentor, and guide. When the going gets tough, Bro's catchphrase kicks in: "like water off a ducks back."

I've spent nights talking with him; I've spent nights getting drunk with him; I've seen him yell and scream.

And I've cried with him.

Here's a paragraph of his philosophy that not many have seen, but he was always willing to share.

"In closing, I'd like to briefly explain my life's philosophy, which is basically contained in four simple words: PEACE*LOVE*HOPE*JOY. These words appear not only at the bottom of my e-mail messages, but have been at the very bottom of every test I have ever given at the University. They refer to my belief that each person is unique and has a unique purpose in life, and that it is my task to guide each and every one of these students through the good times and the bad times. Once you accept yourself as you are created, you will be at PEACE with yourself. It is only then that you can LOVE yourself for who you are, and truly LOVE another person for who they are. In that case you can LOVE humankind, and then there will be HOPE for the future and PEACE for the world which will bring JOY to all, including the 'haves' and the 'have-nots.' It is our duty to bring people together."

rest in peace, bro.

Real Housewives? Or Desperate TV actors?

Although Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County and the Real Housewives of New York City are addicting TV shows, one must really wonder how prominent, wealthy, and status-worthy these women really are.
These two reality TV shows are based around TV cameras following these five ladies around, in their hometowns. Real Housewives of Orange County was the first breakthrough Bravo series, and since then, Bravo has expanded their realities series to different parts of the country, including New York City and Atlanta. These ladies strive to live the “good” and wealthy lifestyles, while juggling their “dramatic” home lives, children, husbands, and careers. The reality of these perfect lives is obviously tweaked. With the cameras on call 24/7, the housewives act catty and self-centered while confessing their true feelings to the cameras. Their necks are draped in luscious diamonds and their perfectly tan bodies seem overly worked . The constant shopping sprees, beach-life, city-life adventures and other hobbies they part-take in are truly nothing than the opportunity to brag about status and wealth.
When a new housewife joins this reality TV show, chaos often erupts and dramatic gossip swirls in and out of the ears and mouths of the housewives. This high school drama captures the viewer’s attention and draws them in as each episode passes. Just recently on The Real Housewives of New York City, Kelly, a thirty-something fashion model, turns her nose up and acts like she deserves each lady to bow down to her at each event. Her criticism of the other ladies and their lifestyle proves the point of the show: dramatic “reality” of competitive, self-centered, wealthy ladies, who mostly earn their “income” from their prominent husbands.
Nonetheless, as I was thinking about the show and discussing it with my friend, I thought, “Wouldn’t that be fun to have a Real Housewives of Washington, DC?” As I thought about the extravagant shopping sprees in Georgetown and the nightlife parties with politicians could be, reality hit me. No one from a status-worthy family in Washington, DC would subside to this form of national humiliation. The conscious mindsets most people have in the DC area are not about being on TV or about parading their lifestyles, money, and status around so all could see. The conservative high-profile status is what makes them prominent and glorified; it is not the dream-life of acting it out to the whole nation on a reality TV show.
Therefore, I pose the statement once more. The ladies on Real Housewives are not actually status-worthy because of their actions and acting-abilities. It is not the power of TV that makes someone “famous” or accomplished, but the actual duties one performs and how it betters society’s life. However, I cannot rag too much on this reality TV show, because it has been one too many times where I have caught myself watching the Real Housewives of Orange County and New York City marathons for hours on a Tuesday afternoon.
- Monica Augustyn
Photo from:

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Baby Snuggie"

Just when I thought people had created every possible thing, I came across a new item—“The Baby Snuggie”, actually called the Peekaru, (see photo above). I have yet to decide how I feel about this item of clothing/child harness. Initially, I laughed for about five minutes in my room and then proceeded to run around showing my roommates the most absurd thing I had come across in the past couple of hours. As I think more about it, I can’t help but wonder how far people will take an idea to make a profit. For example, this “baby snuggie” is made obviously for a mom and her child based off the more widely known Snuggie.

The Snuggie craze is absolutely hilarious. I have been tempted on numerous occasions to purchase one of these after seeing the infomercials on T.V. Who wouldn’t want to be cozied up next to a fireplace, reading a good book, wrapped up in their very own Snuggie?? Then I realize, why spend fifteen dollars when I can walk upstairs to my closet and put on one of my robes backwards, because really that is what a Snuggie is. A Snuggie is a backwards robe. I have had this conversation with numerous people and everyone agrees that this invention is ludicrous. At the same time, I cannot help but seriously consider buying one just for the heck of it. I would love to see my roommates’ expressions when they walked in and I was just enjoying an afternoon nap completely engrossed in my ginormous Snuggie.

Back to the “Baby Snuggie”…that child looks absolutely miserable. By the looks of this advertisement, he has been put in some sort of a straight jacket. From my experience with young children, I can say that most kids would not sit still in that. Sure, maybe they would sit still if they were exhausted or had been playing for hours on end, but this isn’t going to be an everyday occurrence. I mean it is one thing for a baby to be carried in one of those baby Bjorns, but this looks a little claustrophobic for my liking. Not to mention, other than hilarious, the image in this advertisement is frightening. It is kind of like this mom has a face attempting to grow out of her chest, all the while making her look trendy in her blue vest with a built in baby face.

On the same website I found this photo, I read that the OG Snuggie has “become the dress code for the "Snuggie Pub Crawl" -- and some people, surprisingly enough, claim to really dig them!” First of all, I need to witness the so called “Snuggie Pub Crawl” ( Seeing even twenty people running around in a Snuggie would be enough to last me a lifetime. Second, I want to meet someone who actually loves these without realizing their absurdity. One of the problems a couple months ago was that these were a one size fits all kind of a thing. My next door neighbor at my parent’s house who is 12 received one from his parents. The Snuggie was literally HUGE on him and was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. His parents had clearly gotten him this gift for their own personal satisfaction to laugh at him endlessly.

While the gift is indefinitely hilarious, it is also a ridiculous invention. From this point forward I am considering only buying this gift for my friends for their birthdays. At the same time, I hope people don’t seriously think this is a normal purchase and I also hope that Snuggie loses my email address (which I never gave them) because I legitimately receive three emails a day from them. The “baby snuggie” is over 80 dollars and while it may look intriguing, I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t get a good laugh out of seeing someone walking with one on.
For more information on the “Baby Snuggie” (official name: Peekaru) see this link:

E. O'Neil

My $1,500 Mistake

If you do nothing else in your life, take the law seriously. The excuses that you have used to get out of mistakes growing up do not apply in the adult world I am quickly becoming a part of. Statements such as, “I’m sorry, I forgot,” or “My dog ate my homework,” are now often met with apathetic results. Acceptance and forgiveness cannot always out-weigh the mistake itself. There is no such thing as, “You are forgiven this time,” or “At least you learned your lesson.” If you mess up with the law all you will get is burned.

I know I did when, on Monday, I opened a letter from the DMV that informed me my license would be suspended due to my failure to appear in court. What?!

Why was I supposed to go to court? They must have confused me with someone else. What could I have done to (no pun intended) warrant this? I haven’t done anything illegal!

And then I had a striking realization of last fall when I was picking up my roommate from LAX Airport—I got a ticket that day. Her flight had landed in the early morning and I had to peel myself out of bed just so that I could climb into my car (still wearing my PJ’s) to go pick her up. Of course, in my groggy state I had forgotten to bring my driver’s license. And of course, as I drive around the farthest bend of the airport looking for her, I see her waiting for me a few hundred yards away. However, with the chaos of LAX distracting me I had missed my chance to pull into the appropriate pick-up lane. The last thing I wanted to do was to make another lap around LAX—I just wanted to go back to bed.

I was faced with a decision: pull over (quickly) where I was, on the red curb, and pick her up now—or—drive around the airport for another 20 minutes so that I can pull into the damn pick-up lane like I was supposed to. I rationed that no one would care if I stopped briefly in the red, so I pulled over and waved at her. That was before I saw the cop in my side view mirror. That extra lap would have been worth it.

Typical of a power-tripping airport police officer, he gave me a ticket for stopping in the red, driving without a license, and failure to present my car insurance. I actually had my car insurance in my trunk but I was so frazzled by the experience I didn’t see it when I looked. I even tried to use the, “My Dad is a cop too. He will be so upset. I’m so sorry” line, which did not work, even though it is true.

So I got a little ticket. I became lazy with it. I had totally forgotten about my first court appearance but was fortunately able to get an extension. Then, stupid me wrote myself a note that said, “Take care of this before 12/2/09” when the actual date was 2/2/09. Oops!

So now I have a mother-load of a fine, I was sent to collections, and was very close to having a warrant out for my arrest. I spend a whole morning on the phone with the court and tried to use the excuse, “I’m sorry. This is the first time I have dealt with this type of thing. I made a mistake. Won’t the judge understand that?” but was immediately shot down. The only acceptable excuses were hospitalization, incarceration, or military service and I did not fall into any of those categories. Like I said, this adult world is a little harsher than I expected. So now I have been plunged back into the credit card debt I have worked so hard to get out of and will have to spend the next several months paying it off.

I wish that I could have gotten a pass this time. I wish that the collections agent had been sympathetic to my situation. I wish I had just driven around the LAX loop one more time. But I also understand that if our government tried to empathize and understand each individual case and then make exceptions, our legal system would be worthless, not to mention even more time-consuming.

Next time (hopefully there won’t be one), I am going to take care of the ticket the same day I get it—or at least very shortly after. In two weeks I will no longer be a student; I will be a working adult. It is now important that I pay attention to the news because it actually affects me. I now have the responsibility of earning enough money to pay my bills. I now have to think about how I can make it in the world, how I can construct my career, and how I am going to make enough money to survive (hopefully somewhat comfortably). This is downright terrifying but it is also exciting. Perhaps the reason why it is so exciting is because there is so much to lose if you mess up. The pressure is on.

But right now my lesson to pass on is to take the law seriously. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about this one. The law is probably one of the most unforgiving aspects of this new adult world—and I accept that. I will just have to learn to step up to the challenge. At least I can say I have learned my lesson, even though I wish it could have been cheaper.

Fortunately I’m still young and, for now, I have nothing to lose (and my bank account will agree).

Laura Woods

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Medley of Thoughts: A Letter I Would Never Send

Dear You,

If I was frail, I wouldn’t be able to withstand your venomous attacks, your verbal whiplashes, nor your soulful glare. If I was too sensitive, it would be easy to mop up my puddle of nothingness because I would quickly evaporate as does a drop of water on sizzling pavement. If I was boring, you wouldn’t be captivated by my very presence, locked in so deeply that you could never leave my side. You know why? Because you have allowed me to tightly wrap an invisible leash around that tattered heart, making it nearly impossible to part from my mystifying trance.

It took three little words to open a can of worms and the worms found a way to bury themselves in your pile of bullshit. I’m not like the others who were prematurely plucked from the bunch and forced to bloom. I open my petals on my own accord. Don’t you dare try to put me in the same worthless box as the opened legged and closed and minded because I am different, contrasting, unrelated, and any other word that means I am incomparable to what you’re used to.

Frail, sensitive, and boring: that’s what you called me; you spat those words in my face and now I’m spitting back. Misery loves company and your company has made me miserable. Such a snake you are, mistakening me for a timid, feeble little mouse, attempting to squeeze the life out of me and swallowing me whole. You attempted to play me like a fool but instead I had you on my lap strumming your strings.

The next time you try to play vampire and suck the spirit out of your next “victim,” I would advise you to make sure they are indeed the “victim.” The more you tried to drain me the stronger I became and the smaller you have become. A leech is nothing without a host. I was no weakling, and definitely no fool; and what you attempted to kill came back and robbed you of your own dignity—or lack thereof. Now you’re crawling around with an empty soul looking to me to revive you of what you've lost. So I ask you, who’s the victim now?


Jennifer Vassel

Photo Credit: Pregnant Pauses

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let Me Tell You Why I DON'T Love College

I gave my brother the dirtiest look the other day. We were both slumped in the backseat of my mom’s car listening to 102.7 KISS FM (because what else do you listen to when you’re a pre-teen?) and he was singing along to a new song I hadn’t heard yet.

Man, I love college, ay!
And I love drinking, ay!
I love women, ay!
Man, I love college!

I did a double take—there’s was no way my 11 year old brother just sang that. He’s 11 for crying out loud! But he kept going and I almost wanted to smack him.

I can't tell you what I learned from school but
I could tell you a story or two, um
Yeah, of course I learned some rules
Like don't pass out with your shoes on
(Get the Sharpie!)

And all I could think was, whose college experience is this? It certainly wasn’t mine—or anyone else’s. I couldn’t help but be mad. I have worked too hard the last four years to have my entire collegiate career to be distilled into a womanizing song about getting drunk, having sex—and well, do it all over again, as Asher Roth spins lyrically.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to party when you’re in college. By all means—go ahead—supposedly that’s an essential part of the college experience. But that’s not all there is to do in college, seriously. It’s a lie. A sad, sad lie. And granted, I don’t think my brother understands half of what he’s singing, but to the kids that do, that’s just an unrealistic portrait of their potential futures in college.

There’s classes, clubs, service organizations, classes, internships, dorm living, classes, oh and did I mention classes? You couldn’t possibly live a life based on Asher Roth’s song, I Love College, every night. You’d probably die of liver failure, contract an STD or unintentionally conceive a child (Asher Roth recommends guys put two condoms on—trust him), and worse, you’d flunk out of college so fast—faster than you can say beer pong or faster than falling down from a keg stand. And given how much it actually costs to go to LMU, you’re better off moving into a college town and making friends with the local party scene.

Why can’t there be a song about how college is about finding who you are, figuring out what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, expanding your horizons, meeting new and interesting people? Or hey, why not talk about how difficult college actually is, because it’s the last time in your life that you can be in a safe secure bubble before you have to go out in the world and make something of your life?

That’s what the real college is. And you’ll waste it all if all you ever do is party, you’ll miss out on everything and worse, you’ll come out of it knowing absolutely nothing except not to pass out with your shoes on. And that’s not what I signed up for.

It’s not about partying, not all the time. It’s work. It’s a learning process. It’s preparation. It’s real life.

Issa Morada
Photo Credit:
Lyrics taken from: Metro Lyrics
Check out the video on youtube.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Are we more like puppets than we think?

How often do we think about propaganda? Often times it seems outdated, we associate this term with Nazi Germany, Anti- Woman Suffrage in 1909, or Rosie the Riveter. But, if we don’t think about how propaganda emerges we wouldn’t think twice about the visual representations painting the world we live in.
When we think about history and the times when propaganda emerged words like war, depression, and disaster surface. It seems safe to say that propaganda gains an immense amount of power during times of CRISIS. It helps relieve people’s fear and anxiety with comfort and control. But, is it real stability? In Nazi Germany it wasn’t, it was cruel. During woman’s suffrage it wasn’t, it was cruel. Can we look past even the simplest form of propaganda to see the true intent? Are we being manipulated today in this current time of crisis?
In an article called, US Army Recruitment at the Mall With Video Games Jon Hurdle reports on this updated hazardous recruitment strategy costing 12 million dollars, it “looks like a cross between a hotel lobby and a video arcade.” He says,
The U.S. Army Experience Center at the Franklin Mills shopping mall in northeast Philadelphia has 60 personal computers loaded with military video games, 19 Xbox 360 video game controllers and a series of interactive screens describing military bases and career options in great detail.

Potential recruits can hang out on couches and listen to rock music that fills the space.
Hurdle goes on to describe the different rooms all including high tech video games seeking to replicate the experience of war. One room has a real Humvee military vehicle projected on a 15-foot tall battleground with deafening sound effects. Another room plays out an attack using an Apache and Blackhawk helicopter.

Do most, especially young recruiters, view this arcade in the mall as propaganda? It trivializes war and convinces recruiters that war is fun. In a video game, the player is protected in front of the screen, at a distance, connected by a remote control. After effects of depression, anxiety, shell shock and physical disabilities do not even play a role. Recruits are put in a relaxed environment and taught to believe war is for them. They are taught to be killing machines, killing all insight.
James J. Kimble in Whiter Propaganda? Agonism and “The Engineering of Consent,” discusses the roles an internal protagonist and external antagonist play in the means of propaganda. He says, “domestic propaganda that constructs both protagonist and antagonist is at the very least an invitation, one that suggests to its audience that its way of viewing the world is at once rational and logical.” The U.S. Army Experience Center is a form of domestic propaganda constructing a protagonist US player and antagonist Iraq player. There is a limited scope in which to view war. This is not the kind of place to question both sides of a war. Soldiers are taught to want to be the protagonist and kill the antagonist through a game. And how is this influencing our army? Do we want our soldiers to be trained with a limited scope? The fear is that they won’t join with the appropriate knowledge.
And so, propaganda lies in casual nooks and crannies manipulating the world around us. If we do not think twice about it we will become ignorant or worse…
Krystle Aldana
Photo credit- Political Humor

Pardon My Pantaloons

Can you call it a sport if they wear pants? Recently, we witnessed Angel Cabrera in the Masters at Augusta. He beat, among others, Tiger Woods and Phil Michelson. If you saw these guys in a lineup, Angel would be the guy who makes you think “What’s wrong with this picture?” I will concede that Golf is a competition, but I’m not agreeing that it is a sport. Angel can drive the ball further than anyone, other than perhaps John Daly, another paragon of physical excellence. He then smokes a cigarette on his way down the fairway to where he hit the ball.

If golf was a sport, John Daly and Angel Cabrera would never beat Tiger Woods. Just look at the three of them. One of them has no body fat(Tiger), and the other two are covered in it. Angel beating Tiger is like Willie Nelson beating Michael Jordan in a game of basketball. And there is also something just plain wrong about the pants they wear in golf. Ugly, fluorescent and paisley plaid. Where’s the dignity?

After Angel won the Masters, it would be understandable to say that he was a great golfer. One could say that in the moment he was the greatest golfer in the world. But I don’t think anyone would look at him and say he was an athlete, and don’t sports have athletes? And there is still the pants thing. Shorts give the limbs freedom of motion, unhindered, a requirement for athletic competition, and not necessary for walking across a field and hitting a golf ball.

What about car racing? Once again, definitely a competition, but is it a sport? Keep in mind that these guys(men and women) are competing while sitting in a car. A race can last up to five hours, about the time it takes to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. I’ve done that myself but I’m not making any claim to be an athlete or competing in a sport, just because I sat in a car for the whole way there.

How about baseball? I’m not sure if they really wear pants, they are more like pajamas, and I’m just not allowing a sport to be played in the same clothes that you sleep in. Bowling? Competition yes, sport? probably not.

Here’s a problem: basketball qualifies as a sport for many reasons, but there is a troubling trend with the length of the shorts. They’ve gone from the embarrassing “John Stockton shorts” to versions that are longer and longer every year. If they’re not careful, they’ll be playing in pants and then we’ll have to wonder aloud: “is basketball a sport if they wear pants?”

Photos courtesy of and

Thank You
Ron Brown

Finding The Inner Cure

The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart. ~Nikolai Lenin

So many lives have been touched by nature: disasters and diseases.

As far as I could remember, my grandma always had breast cancer.

When I was a child, I didn’t know any better. I didn’t understand the cancerous lump on her left breast. The pain and fear that spread like wild fires.

Ever since my mother found out about my grandma, she has remained by her side.

A few years ago, I asked my mother what happened when everyone found out she had breast cancer.

We didn’t want to believe it, but it was real.

As I grew older and began to understand the thin line between life and death, I have always felt this innate fear and anxiety towards my grandmother’s health.

When I was in high school, the cancer hit her pretty hard. At that point, she had already had her breast removed. But the cancer found a way to keep living.

She went through radiation and chemo. She gained weight, grew sluggish, and lost her hair. She had moments of anxiety, emotional breakdowns, and sometimes, the will to stop to live.

She continued to persevere with the tough love and strength of her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

When I was a freshman in college, things took a turn for the worse.

My grandmother had been feeling unbalanced and not her usual self. My Mom took her in for some tests. A few weeks later, we received the results.

My grandmother had been in Mexico when we heard the news that her cancer had spread throughout her body, in places such as her lungs, knee, hip, and brain.

It was my first spring break as a college student and I had never felt such devastation and shame towards myself. It was my first year of college and I had neglected seeing my relatives, including my grandparents, on a regular basis.

Ever since I found out that the cancer had spread, I have made my family a stronger priority within my life.

When I was younger there were days that I would wish that God would take the pain from my grandmother and let me bear it for her. There were days when she was too fragile and there were moments when she was strong and overbearing.

As a senior getting ready to graduate, I am so grateful and fortunate that she will be there to see her first grandchild graduate with a Bachelor’s degree.

My grandmother is the strongest that I have seen her in a long time. She no longer depends on a wheelchair to carry her weak body. She walks without the support of her cane.

Although breast cancer has posed many obstacles, strains, and heightened emotions, each year my family gathers together to support the Breast Cancer Walk.

We have made tshirts and a poster with my grandmother on them, crossing out each day and year that she continues to fight and survive.

We gather in hope and love with everyone from everywhere who has come to run or walk in behalf of those in memory or those surviving.

Our family unites, lead by my grandmother, in the hopes of someday finding a cure.

Jennifer Ellspermann

Photo Provided by Jennifer Ellspermann

Gum Spitting

I have a terrible habit of always spitting my gum out of my car window. I know I could spit it back into the wrapper, but I just don’t want to. I hate when all those little wads of paper pile up in all the nooks and crannies of my car. Then there is the fact that sometimes spitting it out your window is the only viable option. Gum wrappers, or paper in general, is not always available to someone stuck in traffic.

Actually, I like to think that I have gotten quite good at spitting gum. Since the tomboy in me was never able to perfect the art of “halking a loogie,” I believe I have made it up with my gum spitting. I can generate enough breath by puffing up my cheeks to launch the gum a fairly far distance…assuming my head is tilted upward at the perfect angle. I probably won’t be setting any records but I do impress myself. So it saddens me to know that this habit might be bad.

The idea that concerns me the most is that gum spitting is considered littering. I know that it is bad for the environment and that my Mom strongly disapproves but it’s so to deny the convenience of it (and I have tried)—even when it accidently flies back into the car. This happened to me once: The gum I had spit out was blown back into the car and landed in the hood of my favorite sweatshirt only to be found days later. My guilt got the best of me and I chalked it up to karma.

When I decided to look my habit up online, I found several websites dedicated to answering the question: Is spitting gum out your window littering? Apparently, there is a large online community that has the same problem I do. On, Megan64 responds, “I think no, and my rationalization is that gum just gets run over and becomes either part of the road or part of someone’s tire which can only help to reinforce it.” So, I’m just helping out the community by filling potholes and preventing flat tires? I wish. I think this can be filed right next to that myth that gum stays in your stomach for 7 years (which is not true).

I learned that spitting gum out the car window could even present danger to your life. In New Hampshire this year a man actually crashed his car while trying to spit his gum out. Turns out that he was so focused on launching that piece of gum that he forgot to turn the wheel on a sharp curve in the road. Fortunately he walked away from the accident—probably questioning his littering habit.

I suppose the more pressing matter is that gum makes our streets and sidewalks look dirty. Next to cigarette butts, gum is the 2nd largest littering item in the world. Those little wads of who-knows-what have enough resilience and chemicals to stain our sidewalks permanently. England especially has a problem with this considering about 95% of their cities are dotted with gum. Let’s face it, we just don’t want to go down the path of having our streets looking like the underside of a middle school desk. Change can only start with us right?

Well, I hope I have given you a good argument to quit this habit. From now on I think I will try to keep my gum, like my appendages, inside the moving vehicle.

P.S. Gum littering is also illegal.

Laura Woods

Monday, April 20, 2009

The East Coast Style

As my family and I leave our home on Easter Sunday to attend mass, I take a moment to observe the beauty and pristine landscape the East Coast has to offer. After living three years in Los Angeles, it is a nice change to see green grass, fewer cars on the highways, flowers near bloom, cheery blossoms and much more. As my parents, older brother, his fiancée and I drive to church, I reflect back on the eighteen years I lived in the Maryland area completely distracted and in my own world—refusing to take advantage of the beauty around me. I get the biggest reminder as my family and I park the car and walk into church and notice the pews overflowing with the preppy, classic, east coast style.
I knew I was home.
After attending college for three years in Los Angeles, I have grown accustomed to the “laid back” look many people go for. It is rare to see boys dressed up to go out at night. And by “dressed up” I do not mean a tux or a suit. However, I am referring to khaki pants, a button down Oxford shirt and Sperry’s to be traditional. It was quite the culture shock to me to understand that “dressing up” for Californians, meant jeans and a black t-shirt. It was a nice refresher to be back home and to see that the men and women put much effort in looking nice for such a joyous occasion.
I walk into the church wearing a mixture of styles: a Vineyard Vines sundress, pearls, black cardigan and black heels, my own little LA touch. I take a moment to look around the church, seeing if I recognized any of my elementary or high school friends and their families. Mass is a fashion show. You look to see what everyone is wearing in comparison to your own attire and how you could improve your style before the following week’s mass. Bingo…I spotted an old friend. Her Lily Pulitzer, bright pink and green patched dress could be seen a mile away as she walked down the aisle following her older brother and parents. Her “Franco Dress Printed Patch” classic Lily dress fit her perfectly tan body that has been baked to a crisp in a tanning booth, as her pearl necklace draped her neck. The typical east coast hairstyle—dark chocolate, stick straight hair—fell down her shoulders. She walked gracefully holding her Coach handbag and white cardigan sweater, which she later wrapped around her neck.
This typical East coast attire defines the classic atmosphere I correlate with home, and I miss it. Most “West Coasters”, including my freshmen roommate, would tease me as I walked to class freshmen year adorning my usual look: J. Crew plaid skirt, navy blue Ralph Lauren polo, Rainbow flip-flops, Tiffany’s chain bracelet and heart earrings. Unlike my west coast peers, I carried my books in a large Vera Bradley summer tote bag, instead of the usual JanSport backpack.
Every time I return home for a break from school, I go back to my roots and dress preppier than I do in Los Angeles. It is so interesting to see the difference in styles between two parts of the country. Although I like the “laid back”, flip-flop attire of California, I will always be an East Coast girl and will have the urge to wear my pearl earrings on a daily basis. The classic, elegant look of my hometown always wins my heart. Anyone can attest to that, especially after seeing the subscriptions to Vera Bradley and Ralph Lauren catalogues that I receive monthly in my school mailbox here in California.

- Monica Augustyn
Picture from:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

[SHOP!] Kick Your Heels Up and [SHOP!] Throw Your Hands Back and [SHOP, SHOP, SHOP!]

“A new study has determined that women think about shopping as much as men think about sex” (once every minute)

Adrenaline rushes. Sweaty palms. Twitching fingers. Googley eyes—I get them all…and I don’t even have to physically step inside a mall or a single department store; I can easily be in front of a computer screen on a website and still get that exhilarating rush of excitement. I have a sick problem. Some smoke, some drink, some party…but my vice—my vice is SHOPPING.

When you’re in class, or in bed, or having an engaging conversation and you can’t concentrate because you’re daydreaming about what shoes go best with this dress and what accessories accent that top—then you’re a shopaholic. If you can’t walk past a store without double or even triple-taking an outfit on a mannequin, then you’re a shopaholic. When you’re on a budget and you see something that catches your eye and you know you shouldn’t get it but you rationalize the situation so much that you convince yourself you should buy it—then you are a shopaholic!

“Forget sex, shopping is women’s big obsession” reveals a survey in Cosmopolitan Magazine, which delved into the minds of 770 women nationwide. Women think about shopping every 60 seconds, which is about 960 times a day, and more astonishing 6,720 times a week. On average, 2 of every 5 females are self-confessed shoe and purse addicts, 15% can’t stop thinking about accessories, and 13% obsess about makeup. 23% said that they would cancel a date with a well-known celebrity for the ultimate shopping purchase. What was even more surprising was to find out that almost half of the women surveyed said they would much rather be shopping than spending time with their partners.

I definitely differ from the average “shopaholic.” I actually have my priorities straight, and I am still sane, which is more than I can say for Ali, who appeared on MTV’s True Life: I’m a Compulsive Shopper. For Ali, shopping has become so addicting that she is no longer able to lead a healthy lifestyle. Ali has allowed her bills to accumulate and is in debt almost fifteen thousand dollars. This does not phase her—even when Rent-A-Center comes and removes all her furniture which she’s never paid for. You’d think that would be a wake-up call when you realize your bed and dresser are replaced with a sea of clothes with tags still attached. Will she ever realize that that card of plastic is her enemy???

Now I’m not bad at all. I definitely plan on slowing down sometime in the near future. But in the meantime…does that dress come in my size?

Jennifer Vassel
Photo Credit: Bengaluru International Airport

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ignoring the simple tasks

I like to have a clean bathroom, relatively speaking. My bathroom is by no means dirty, but nor is it spotless. Depending on who I am living with this can cause some tension. How hard is it to clean up after yourself? You make a mess, you pick it up. I just want to start yelling as if I’m in a basketball game, “FUNDAMENTALS,” and then do the five-clap rhythm afterward.

A classic example of failure to clean up after oneself comes in the act of brushing one’s teeth. When you brush, toothpaste falls into the sink, and there are two consistencies of toothpaste that will fall out of your mouth during this act. The troublemaker, here, is the form of the toothpaste that is nearly what it was when it came out of the tube. This is the toothpaste-type that never got mixed with your teeth and saliva. This toothpaste is sticky and tends to remain in the sink basin unless you remove it with your hands.

Unfortunately, this task of removing the toothpaste from the sink basin is a task far too difficult for many to take on. I have no idea why, but people just seem to neglect to do this. In turn, I have a growing desire to put toothpaste on their faces when they are sleeping.

It’s not so much the fact of the toothpaste being in the sink that bothers me. No, it is the choice or failure of someone to act by cleaning it out of the sink. One of the easiest tasks is frequently overlooked and I don’t know why.

My guess: There is some satisfaction gained in the flirtation with inaction. It’s kind of like cheating on a significant other: You play with evil, even when you know you shouldn’t. Remember Adam and Eve?

I see this kind of garbage all the time, and you will too, if only you look around. Next time you walk through a parking garage make some close observations. Look at how many people didn’t bother to straighten their car out neatly between the lines. Sometimes I want to leave little notes on their windshield stating, “There was damage done to your car – see if you can find it.” Of course, I would never touch their car, but it’s just the idea that they may be driven slightly crazy which would give me the feeling of justice I need for not being able to open my car door with more than 5 inches of space to get out.

Excuses, there’s always excuses. “I was late for work,” or “I didn’t have time.” It would take 15 seconds to repark the car. And not “having time” to do something which represents common courtesy to others is all the more a slap in the face.

You know, Nike’s slogan is fully applicable here, and offers great advice:

“Just do it.”

-Alex Tandy

Photo uploaded by user: Mets501 on wikimedia commons.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Art of Reading

If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.
- Stephen King

When I was eight years old, I had mastered the art of reading.

Books were my companion and best friend. I learned something new every time and each year my relationship with reading continued to grow and blossom. At the age of eight, I was delving into the world of The Baby-sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin. I became the confidante of Karen, who experienced a world of two families and living in a “little house” and “big house.” Each book that Martin produced was always interesting, funny, and captured my devotion to the series.

My passion continued to expand to include the world of The Boxcar Children and the world of mystery became my obsession. I enjoyed each of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s mysteries and adventures that each of the Boxcar brothers and sisters encountered. My love for Children’s literature expanded to Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, E.B. White, Judy Blume, and Maurice Sendak. The voices of children were my own and I felt a kinship with them that I have never experienced with another human being.

My love for reading moved into genres that were unexpected and life altering. When I was twelve years old, the dark words of R.L. Stine, Lois Duncan, and Christopher Pike drew me into a world of death, horror, and murder. My teacher expressed concern to my parents that I was only reading this genre of writing. I dismissed her apprehension and reassured my parents that things were going fine. Besides, by the time sixth grade was over, I had finished all the books I could get a hold of by these authors.

When I entered seventh grade, I had developed an interest into authors such as S.E. Hinton, Rudolfo Anaya, and Gary Soto. My love of literature took on a cultural approach, whether it was addressing gang culture or Mexican American culture. My teacher had a strong interest in my education because he understood my natural love for reading. He recommended authors and books for me to read, and I was immediately hooked. My favorite novel I read was Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. That book changed my existence and understanding of literature, which compelled me to read every book I could find written by Anaya and, if I could not find it, I would order the rest through the library.

The art of reading could not have been accomplished without the public library. I spent many hours, days, and summers in the library. I would quickly complete my homework and run around the library. I would check out so many books, I would fill up my backpack and two paper bags. The librarians grew to know me and were astonished at how I could devour books within a few weeks. My childhood is filled with happiness at those moments in my life.

As I look back now, I wish I had more rare moments of my pure delight and devotion towards my gift of reading.

Jennifer Ellspermann

Photo Credit: Girl Reading

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Choice is Theirs

Easter is quickly approaching and a very interesting decision arises for Obama—the decision of which Church the Obama family will attend. This has been a huge issue of discussion because no matter what church he chooses, there is going to be scrutiny and he will be upsetting someone no matter what. A decision that generally would have zero impact on church goers is a decision that our nation anxiously awaits the results of his choice. The importance of this decision further shows the constant problem between the state and religion and in this instance the problem is one that ties into both because Obama’s decision for his religion will directly link to the state and to what people think of him.

All eyes are on every move that Obama makes because with his role as the first African American president comes a lot of scrutiny and commentary on all decisions. An article in the Washington Times by Joseph Curl states that due to the importance of this decision, “White House aides and close friends of the family have been quietly checking out D.C. churches on a shortlist - maybe a dozen in all - and attending services, speaking with pastors, reverends and rectors and reporting back to the Obamas”. For most families, this would be something that they could decide on their own and without having to worry about what others thought of their choice.
For Obama, his decision means upsetting various groups of people. As Curl points out, this is going to be a very tricky choice because choosing a “predominately white church” will offend blacks all over America. However, reverse the situation and there will be another upset. In a case like this, there is really no right choice. The only choice that he has to make is one that is right for his family and that will benefit his wife and children, despite who he may upset along the way. Regardless of his choice, he will face some harsh scrutiny but I guess that is just part of the package in being a part of a major historical moment.

I personally think that this decision is his and for everyone else it is a private matter and everyone should give Obama the same respect they expect. I wouldn’t choose a church based on what some neighbors would think; rather, I would choose based on my faith and what I believed was right. His decision will definitely have to be made by this coming Sunday and it will be interesting to see both the positive and negative press that he receives after celebrating Easter with his family.
For the full Washington Times article please click this link:

E. O'Neil

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reality T.V. Equals a Cheaper Alternative

In just the past five years, reality television has overflowed all television networks, demonstrating both people’s obsession for the “real” aspect this genre provides along with a commentary on how capitalism affects art consumption. Networks are airing more and more reality shows because they are more cost effective. These stars absolutely get paid, but not as much as say a star on Grey’s Anatomy. For example, Ellen Pompeo of Grey’s Anatomy makes 200,000 dollars PER episode and that isn’t even including how much she gets for re-runs. Then you have “reality” television such as The Hills, where Lauren Conrad is making 75,000 dollars per episode. On that same show, Brody Jenner makes 10,000 dollars per episode. Then, you have real reality shows where a salary of 10,000 dollars would be more than enough.

These numbers may seem unimportant but in the large scheme of things, think about how much more appealing a reality show would be to networks. First off, they do not have to pay their celebrities as much. “The Hills” is a different case because that is more like an episode of “The O.C.” than an episode of dancing with the stars. Celebrities on real reality shows make a lot less than many television stars.
Networks get to become capitalists when they are able to pick and choose how much they distribute to these “real people” rather than having to pay millions of dollars to over-demanding and over-paid celebrities that make up the rest of television. The people in charge of these networks are able to make private decisions based on the distribution of their wealth, which is one of the main factors of capitalism.

With our economy at the state that it is, networks are bringing us reality television at an even cheaper cost. An article in Entertainment News brought to us by KSL states that “reality shows were already TV’s low budget alternative”, but with the recession and “diminishing advertising revenue”, network producers are working even harder to provide without losing a significant amount of their money. Reality shows cost less than a million dollars to make, whereas a scripted drama can come close to two million dollars. Ryan Nakashima of KSL states that “reality shows don’t use expensive actors and writers”, which MAJORLY cuts the cost of creating their shows.

Viewers at home are not the only people experiencing the recession. TV networks are also suffering and having to cut costs where they are able to. In fact, one of MTV’s newest shows is “College Life”, which is yet another reality show but this is one that really narrowed down its expenses. Anyone who has seen previews for this show can tell that it is extremely low budget. The college students participating in the show are their own director and camera man/woman. MTV distributed handheld cameras to them, which enable them to film their true experience in college, bringing the handheld with them wherever they go and whenever they choose to bring it.

Every major network is hopping on the bandwagon for cheaper costs and the creation of more and more reality shows. Networks such as NBC, CBS, and the CW have apparently green lighted around 30 new reality shows, which is much higher than years before. Reality shows are also able to cut expenses by working with advertisers who would normally be featured on commercials in between the show. They feature these advertisers’ products in their show and they work with them as sponsors for the “prize” on many reality shows. Rather than offering a million dollars in a recession, they are offering other alternatives such as dinners, makeovers or the chance to be in a professional photo shoot. Reality shows are “real” and like its viewers, these shows are experiencing the tough times in this economy. Many people may question how real this form of television is, but regardless of whether it is real, scripted, not scripted, the bottom line is that it is entertainment and a cheaper alternative for networks. Cutbacks are necessary, but entertainment is still possible and no network is going to stop providing us with the entertainment our society constantly craves.

E. O'Neil

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Speulveda and 76th Street

I was on Sepulveda and 76th Street when my life changed.
I was on Sepluveda and 76th Street when my life changed...lanes...

And you know what I can't even complain because I know I needed it.

It was of those days where I couldn't think straight and I couldn't breath properly and I just needed to...get away.

So that's what I did.
I search of my happiness.
So I drove.

I'm driving...I'm driving...I'm driving...

And as I'm driving I see those mesmerizing eyes, those real eyes, that can realize what really lies within in me

I'm driving...I'm driving...I'm driving...

And as I'm driving I imagine our skin on skin contact which is beyond fact the direct cable that channels through my mind body and soul and it is my goal to see my happiness TODAY.

I'm driving...I'm driving...I'm driving...

And as I'm driving, it is MY green light when this old lady with all her might...
Slowly...swerves....left....right in front of me and we crash.
We crashed on Sepulveda and 76th Street and I did not see my happiness that day.
On that day, my life changed. Itchanged lanes on Sepulveda and 76th Street.
I thought I was dead. DEATH was knocking at my door...

And then, when I opened my eyes...clouds of smoke filled my mind
You see, it filled my mind, then it surrounded my car...
It surrounded my car after it filled my mind of smoke, smothering, stifling
All my thoughts, all my emotions except for one cuz all I could think about at that particular time was....YOU

You were the only one on my know when someone has that type of presence that makes your jaw lock shut...I am speechless.

I didn't even think about the impact of the airbag that busted my lip and bruised my chest.

Not even the fender that was mangled and tangled in the lady's car let alone is she was still alive my

Headaches hurt way less than my heartaches and all it takes is for someone to just...

The stench of the smoke and radiator fluid didn't even phase me and it's amazing to me that it stung my eyes so bad but my cries were for something else.. I could've...
I could've died without...

letting you know how I felt about you.

I mean...I have eyes....four of ‘em actually, but I wasn't seeing...
There's movement in my legs but I wasn't walking...
Fingertips stroking skin, that's not touching...
Yeah, sounds are coming out of my mouth but I wasn't talking...
Until NOW.

And, as this story unfolds... it took a collision for me to see that.
And for that...I AM THANKFUL.

Jennifer Vassel

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week?

“Do you really attend a Catholic university?”
One of my professors posed this question to the class the other day. We were discussing the day off from school scheduled for March 31st in honor of Cesar Chavez day. And although Loyola Marymount University has always scheduled this day off in respect of a Mexican-American civil rights activist, many students and faculty question the rational behind this day off from classes instead of Holy Thursday or Easter Monday.
Loyola Marymount University does not give students off these two respected holidays in the Catholic faith. Holy Thursday and Easter Monday traditionally are recognized as days of the Holy Week leading up to and following Easter. As a Catholic institution, LMU states that they set the example of promoting faith in their mission. However, if this was the case, would they not recognize the importance of honoring those two days instead of the March 31st “holiday” which most of the student body sees as a day off from classes where they can either party or sleep the whole day? Does LMU not uphold their standards as a Jesuit institute by honoring the Catholic faith of the student body by giving those two days off to reflect and prepare for Easter?
For the past few years that I have attended Loyola Marymount University, I have constantly struggled to decide whether I should fly back from my Easter visit with my family on the east coast on Easter Monday—thus missing a full day of classes—or fly back to California on Easter? I am a very hard, diligent worker; however, my answer for the past three years has been: miss classes on Easter Monday and enjoy the holiday with my family on Easter Sunday. Sitting in Baltimore-Washington International airport on Easter Sunday does not sound too appealing, especially when I dread the almost seven-hour, uncomfortable flight back into LA. Our fellow Jesuit Universities, which are also academically acclaimed throughout the country, such as Boston College, Fordham University, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Loyola of Maryland, Loyola of Chicago, St. Joseph University, and Xavier University are just to name a few of the twenty-eight Jesuit Universities that have Holy Thursday and Easter Monday off. The other nineteen universities have Easter Monday off as well, and there is only one Jesuit University that has neither Holy Thursday nor Easter Monday off…correct! Loyola Marymount University!
The last few weeks of senior year of high school as I decided between two universities, and a university in the south and Loyola Marymount University. I chose LMU because of its Catholic faith and their mission. I believed that by continuing to attend a Catholic school, I would foster and build my faith, as I grew older. I was comfortable being in a setting where I was able to attend mass with my peers and be involved in the Catholic atmosphere that other public universities around the country lacked. However, upon arriving to LMU, I have been wondering the same question my professor asked our class, as each year passes, “Is this really a Catholic school?”
I am truly disappointed that after many years of students and faculty asking the administration why we have a day off such as Cesar Chavez day and not Holy Thursday or Easter Monday, they have not addressed the question or fixed the problem. I do not understand why giving those two days off so students can celebrate Easter with their families instead of rushing back to campus on Easter is a difficult task to accomplish. Students hurry back just so they can attend classes by Monday morning, thus putting stress on the student. The twenty-seven other Jesuit Universities around the country seem to avoid this problem.

- Monica Augustyn

Photo Taken by:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pay It Forward

When one person goes out of their way for another, without benefiting him or herself, true selflessness is revealed. I have lately noticed a shortage of people helping out other people because no personal gain is received in return. In many circumstances when people do something for the good of someone else in which they do not directly benefit, then it is not worthwhile. When I am able to eyewitness even a small hospitable deed done to help out a stranger, the effects of that action is visible on both of faces of the parties involved. Helping others in need produces gratitude as well happiness for the giver and the receiver, and if those feelings were to be multiplied worldwide it would improve the condition of humanity. Especially in a time like the present, if each person were to do something especially major to help out another person than the number of people truly in need would be significantly lower. I am a strong advocate of the Pay It Forward movement, which was first introduced in a novel, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, as an action plan within a work of fiction and also in the heart wrenching film in 2000 starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. Pay It Forward refers to changing the world one person at a time by the promotion of this theory: one person must do three different favors for three different people, these “favors” must be life changing and something that the person being helped cannot do by themselves, those three people must each do the same for three other people in need and so on. For me, this ideal seems impossible even for a small area of people to accomplish because of pride and selfishness but I do believe there is an alternative. I am not talking about forcing people to do favors for people, but collaboration.
When people collaborate to accomplish something significant it creates a lasting impression on the people involved as well as the result of their combined efforts. Recently, I recognized such an act of collective kindness by a group of older men who put their own personal struggles aside to help a stranger in need. This stranger is a young woman who had just came out of jail and was trying to get back into reality without a job or any money. These men used their individual resources and collaboratively got her a place to stay, a steady job, and some much needed support on all levels. These men had no debt to be owed, no guilty conscience they felt needed to be cleared, and did not benefit from helping this young woman. With the help of collaboration and humility from these men, this woman was able to turn her life around. If it were not for their helpful resources and willingness to help out a complete stranger in need this woman would have been lost in reality and possibly on the streets.
One of these older men was my father, and when I heard about this story it made me realize how much people have to offer other people in need if they can allow themselves to pay it forward. All they really had to do was reach out to someone who needs it and to put their self-involvement towards another persons self-improvement. We have so much to offer other people who are not as fortunate as we are, and I do not mean money. If people could learn to share what they have with people who are lacking, especially if they were to collaborate with other people’s resources, it would make the world go around much smoother. Could you imagine a reality where each established individual was required by law to help three other people get off the streets and change their life around? It starts with you… Pay It Forward.

Maddy Weese

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Angry Vagina

March 27, 2008.

I stood before a hushed crowd, watching my subtle movements. The flick of my wrist, the tugging of my hair, the scratching of the manuscript within my damp palms.

The room had been silenced by the “NOT-SO-HAPPY FACT” that spoke of gender mutilation of girls and women. The females in the room squirmed with the notion. The men lowered their heads in shame. All were affected by the “NOT-SO-HAPPY FACT” that by April of 1996, female genital mutilation had been inflicted on approximately 130 million girls and young women.

It was a sobering moment. A reflective moment. A small fragment of time that emotions swelled for the men and women present for those words.

It was powerful. Perspectives were altered. Men and women both felt violated. The unity between the sexes was brought on by a not so happy fact.

I approached the stage. The stillness was unbearable. Many looked towards me, some filled with sorrow in their eyes others with the hope that I will brush away their discomfort. No one knew what to expect.

I paused, took a deep breath, and exclaimed, “My Vagina’s angry!”

Some were shocked. Others were amused. People laughed, while others looked around confused.

“It is. It’s pissed off. My vagina’s furious and it needs to talk. It needs to talk about all this shit.”

The crowd roared with laughter. My confidence began to grow as everyone began to warm up and respond to me. All I could hear was the roaring in my head and the beat of my heart. The adrenaline and exhilaration soared within me and spilled from my lips. I saw the faces of loved ones. My father’s face burning. My fifteen year old sister’s confusion. My mother’s uncertainty. I refused to let that deter me. With renewed strength and confidence, I delivered my lines with all the sauciness and anger I could muster.

I felt alive at my first public performance. I had avoided Public Speaking my whole life. Never took an active role in a play. I barely would speak for group projects. I never felt a strong compulsion to speak my thoughts to the world. I felt my writing was sufficient enough. When I appeared to the first audition for the Vagina Monologues, I was nervous and uncomfortable. I was given a stack of monologues to sift through. I was told to choose one to audition for and I was going next. The first monologue I picked up was “My Angry Vagina” and I immediately knew it was the right one for me. The boldness, the directness, the sassiness. This was meant to happen. I was meant to speak out against the injustices and oppression that women have experienced. I felt the words of the monologue draw from me my inner woman. I hesitantly approached the room for my audition, put my heart and soul into the moment…and walked out with the part.

When I entered the stage, this back a new high for me. The rush, the excitement, the warm reciprocation from the crowd that quenched the thirst within my soul. All of it compelled me to give my best performance.

I strolled off the stage, basking in the applauses and whistles that followed me like a shadow. My fellow performers exclaimed, “Great Job!” Others gave me a pat on the back. I smiled, thanked everyone, and felt my inner intensity slowly drain from my body. I watched as the next performer entered the stage.

I looked out towards the crowd and knew I had made a lasting impression.

“It wants to stop being angry. It wants to come. It wants to want. My vagina, my vagina. Well…It wants everything.”

Jennifer Ellspermann

Picture Credit: Angry Cat

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


My sophomore year of college I cut my bangs super straight, Lady Gaga style,. I just thought it would be fun and new. I didn’t realize how much trouble it was going to be as my friends and fellow classmates told me, “Oh, you look so Asian!” I didn’t know how to respond to it besides just staring very hard at them and the obvious reply, “Um. Yeah. I am Asian.”

Needless to say, I’ve never cut my hair like that since. Because I’ve thought, well what did I look like before that? Not Asian? I didn’t think that was possible. Less Asian? How do you even quantify that?

I get it. I’m not some super-kung-fu-Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-samurai girl like Zhang Ziyi or Michelle Yeoh. I’m not super sexy and exotic like Lucy Liu or Kelly Hu. I’m not super nerdy and I don’t have crazy strict parents who cry if I get grades lower than A+ like Rory’s friend on Gilmore Girls. I’m not a breakdancer, I don’t sing like every other Filipino girl, I quit piano a week after my first lesson, and I’m a communications major, not an engineering, pre-med, biology, or business major.

What am I supposed to do, start wearing kimonos, talk in a “FOB” accent, eat kimchi, squint more, and pretend I can kick your ass in science and math for you to get that I’m Asian? Just because I bum it in jeans, date outside of my race, and I don’t speak Tagalog 24/7, doesn’t mean I’m whitewashed, or I’ve forgotten my culture.

I’m an American, as well, have people forgotten? I don’t bleed red, white, and blue, but having lived here the last 20 or so years of my life, I feel just as American as most natives. I feel like being American is having the freedom to decide who you are and what you want and actively pursue that. This may or may not be true in real life, but it’s something that I feel is being different than being cast as “Asian.” I think people have forgotten that simple fact.

On the flip side, there are other people who think I’m only Asian. And I can only do Asian things. I once went to a Barnes and Noble to buy the 4th Harry Potter book, Goblet of Fire, when it came out. The lady at the cashier register said I should join their costume contest. She said I could be Cho Chang, undoubtedly the only recognizable and visible Asian character. I was only twelve at the time, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was being discriminated against. I could only be the Asian character of the book? Because honestly, if we’re going to play with stereotypes, I think I’d connect with the Hermione character: a smart overachiever. Instead of a weak, lovesick, crybaby, like Cho Chang was. (Ironically, when I cut my bangs that one time, the Goblet of Fire movie came out at the same time. My boyfriend and I at the time were unofficially nicknamed Cho Chang and Cedric Diggory. I think there’s some kind of conspiracy going on.)

So what am I then? I’m Asian. I’m not. I’m not Asian enough to others. I’m not typical. I lack definition. Worse, I feel like I’m losing my identity because of these so-called Asian stereotypes people seem to be perpetuating and consuming. I don’t like being pulled from one end of the spectrum to another, whether I’m one thing or not. But I don’t know what other option I have, because the only one left is to be invisible and not exist at all.

Issa Morada

Photo credit: Loretta Humble at Wikimedia Commons

One opinion is not enough (in my opinion)

It’s amazing how little we know when we think we know so much? Confused? Let me try that again. We’re dumb, not smart. Weak, not strong. Oh yeah, we know things, sure. The sky is blue and I have five fingers. You’ve got six? No way.

I read a fair amount of news and I hope you read me loud and clear: One opinion is not the be all and end all. It’s not the Great Bambino. It’s not the Big Kahuna.

The New York Times published a letter of resignation on March 25 from Jake DeSantis, a former A.I.G employee who wrote his letter to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G..

DeSantis was one of the recipients of the $165 million bonus money, which has caused an uproar throughout the United States. Taxpayers were furious that these bonuses were being paid with their dollars. What Mr. DeSantis explained was quite a different story.
He never dealt with or organized a credit-default swap for A.I.G..

In fact, a large majority of the employees within his arm of the company, A.I.G. Financial Products, was not responsible for these bad business transactions. DeSantis said, “Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.”

DeSantis went on to say, “I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.”

DeSantis was banking on his bonus being paid to him; that was his salary. When the numbers came out, he said he was allotted $742,006.40. Of this money, he is not sure how much he will keep because a House bill is in the works that will tax those A.I.G. retention payments by 90 percent.

DeSantis has decided that whatever is leftover will be given to Americans that need the money. He wrote, “I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn … I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G’s or the federal government’s budget.”

Here is a man who worked for a paycheck, undoubtedly, and was to be paid with a bonus. This same man, who was not involved directly with credit default swaps – the damning tools of the company and a portion of our financial system – is being pressured to give his money back by the American people and Congress.

Guilty by association. Now, how’s that for fairness? His choice to donate his money was more than admirable. The typical Wall street vampire that has been depicted in the media wouldn’t even have considered the possibility of acting charitably. Jake DeSantis is a man that stands outside of the stereotype and asks us to look beyond our finger before we point it.

Because one opinion is not the be all and end all. It’s not the Great Bambino or the Big Kahuna. It’s just one opinion.