The Weather Channel

Janina doesn’t like to overindulge, but makes it clear that she is satisfied anyways. Unlike most people who consume multiple pieces of media, she sticks to one of each. She only drinks black tea, uses one program on the computer Dizzy bought her, and loses the remote which eliminates the possibility of switching off the weather channel.

When it’s on, Janina finds comfort in the continuous images. She talks about how in the winter, the sun escapes after a few hours and we’re left with nothing but darkness. The outdoors offer no comfort, so she has looked inside to find something positive. I’d imagine that it would get boring to look at the same green screen portrayal of her area, but perhaps there is something new to analyze if you are willing to look. She references the abstract lines that separate countries, and maps that highlight pressure for high altitudes. I found it powerful that she recognizes even though the Czech Republic and Germany aren’t outside her hamlet, the same elements are there too. The air they breathe is the same that makes its way to her, across oceans and mountains. It shows how people are all connected through nature, even when it doesn’t seem significant.

The satellite images of the Earth remind her that our planet is tangible, and a functioning sphere that keeps track of everything we do. Janina brings up the point that no one is recording the history of humanity on a camera, but the Earth holds us accountable because it doesn’t allow people to hide. Literally, we are exposed on its outermost part and have to live with our bodies showcased toward the stars and space.

Within the TV program, there are three types of people who tune in. The broadcast for skiers is meant to tell them about the slopes and snow conditions, but after spring comes their segment is replaced for the allergy sufferers. Pollen predictions are shown in bright red, warning them about danger zones. And drivers dismiss both of these since they’re only focused on how the weather affects the highway. Janina believes this classification of people is universal and compels us to apply it to ourselves. Responding to situations casually and being eager to indulge means they are a skier. They are pleasure seekers. There are also drivers, whose practicality forces them to take matters into their own hands, since they believe that’s the best way. And allergy sufferers, who have been conditioned to be on the offense, are wary of outside forces. Janina’s theory seems to be reminiscent of the categorization that horoscopes employ. But it is interesting to analyze how we behave, especially when the choices are random and somehow very poignant.

Computer Luv: Study Guide for Securing a Prom Date

The ultimate ask. 7 years of school-dance-dating have led up to this moment. In some ways, it’s easier to remember the skills you’ve learned. But this is a whole different level. Below are the steps outlining your guide to get through prom season, so study them. It’s not like you’re going to bother studying for finals.

  1. The search should start on social media. And if your class love story hasn’t begun organically, it’s only because you haven’t gone on Instagram. You can revisit past group partners and see if they’re single, then do a deep dive into their recent adventures. We’re looking for somebody with hobbies, someone who has bragging potential. 
  2. When you’re at the dinner table there is going to be plenty of anecdote time. College on the horizon, or not, people will be talking about the future. Scary. You want to look for somebody who can hold a conversation. And more importantly, talk about all of the cool stuff they’re doing over the summer. 
  3. Networking. You don’t want to limit yourself in the beginning. It’s crucial to have a web of about 5 potential students because if you’re looking so are they. Everybody is putting on their sparkliest, eyelash-batting personality trying to make themselves seem unforgettable. But along the way, it’ll become clear that they aren’t, and some potential picks will fall off your radar. It’s only natural.
  4. Money honey. Prom tickets are notoriously expensive, but senior pockets tend to be lint filled. And while it’s not holy matrimony, the phrase ‘marrying up’ summarizes our intent. You’re looking to couple with someone who can pay for your ticket and theirs. When asking about their job history make sure they’re currently employed. But subtly is key. No one wants to seem shallow. 
  5. Height matters. Everyone wants to take pictures with someone who is of proportional height. Not falling out of the frame. If it can’t be helped and they’re taller than you, make them come barefoot. And if you’re having the opposite problem, step stools are on sale.

So don’t settle. You can cherish the people you’ve known in high school, sign their yearbook. But prom is where it gets serious. If your pick has made it this far, they are checking off all these boxes. There’s only one prom. Ever. And in the age of internet interaction, people will only remember the pictures.

What is a Brazen-Faced Varlet?

In Act II Scene II, King Lear gives us some of the best Shakespearean insults. Clever, piercing, and humourous, Kent rips into Oswald for his personality. The two of them are at Gloucester’s castle waiting for Cornwall when Kent criticizes Oswald for the type of steward he is. Both of them are in the servant class, but there is a distinction made between their approaches. Kent believes that a servant’s advice should be in the best interest of the master, not simply what they want to hear. And even though he was banished from Lear’s kingdom, the counsel that Kent gave was productive for Lear. He pointed out his wrongs as a concerned aide, and was looking in the best interest of his leader.

However, Oswald demonstrates the opposite. He is a “yes man” who isn’t worried about what is morally correct but rather what the majority is thinking. He doesn’t need encouragement to go along with anything his superiors say, and will turn at a moment’s notice to blindly follow them. Shakespeare’s contrast of the two characters helps to display the theme of honor, because it prompts the audience to think about what they value as honorable themselves. It raises the question of whether individual thinking is necessary when people are indebted to the service of another person. When Kent tries and strike Oswald with his sword, he is antagonizing him again and testing his aggression. Oswald shows he has none and cries for help from Regan and Cornwall. It was obvious that they were going to side with Oswald, and Kent’s efforts are in vain. But who is really worse off?

On the one hand, Oswald is in a better position than Kent. He is still employed, favored by the kingdom, and isn’t bound by wooden restraints until the next sign of daylight. But his spineless following is not valuable to anyone, and he lacks the integrity to stand up for anything. At least Kent has the courage, and creativity, to call others out on their faults.

It’s interesting that honesty isn’t valued in the play King Lear, when it’s actually the only thing that prevents conflict. If the characters were as motivated to communicate with the same energy as their scheming, a lot of violence could have been spared.

“I’ll make a sop o’ the moonshine of you
Draw, you whoreson cullionly barber-monger, draw.” (II.ii.33-34)

Honestly, Kent has some of my favorite lines in the play. If nothing else was clear in the text, I was interested and wide awake when Kent started insulting Oswald. I felt the intensity of his hatred and the phrases he used were unimaginably specific. It helped to powerfully convey a feeling I was developing for Oswald as the play went on, but couldn’t get the words just right. Thanks, Kent!

Home with You

Heartache is powerful. And on “home with you”, FKA twigs makes us feel her woes as she pulls us through a 3 minute journey of her romantic relationship. The song is apart of her larger work MAGDALENE, which is the artists’ first studio album. The title is an ode to Mary Magdalene, the saint who famously witnessed the resurrection of Jesus and was one of his first followers. Historians suggest that Mary was Jesus’ close confidante, and she had a crucial role in healing people as a disciple. FKA twigs connected with Mary’s story and created an album where she navigates loss, love, and the conflict of staying authentic as a musician.

The opening lines expose the uncensored perspective of a girlfriend. She doesn’t shy away from her emotions, which clarifies what the central idea is and strengthens the song’s message. It starts with FKA twigs talking about how she’s in a headspace to focus on her relationship, devoted to her partner fully, and indulge in the love that her partner can give her. But she also battles with insecurity and doesn’t know if she is worthy of them. In the line “When I get my lessons learned, Apples, cherries, pain” she is showing how her positive attitude is tapering off and instead of sweetness, she reverts to focusing on the difficulty of her relationship. She then starts to talk about how the people who were her support system only reach out to her because she is more successful now. It makes her question which people want to be in her life for genuine reasons, including her partner. The verse ends without her gaining clarity, and this displays how her romantic love is distracting her from reaching a resolution to her internal conflicts. The songwriting technique of a proposed question with no concrete answer makes the listener feel idle, as if love is just as powerful when no action is taking place. The love occupies space in her mind and forces her to question what, if anything, is more important than loving others.

"I've never seen a hero like me in a sci-fi 
So I wonder if your needs are even meant for me"

In the quoted line, she is talking about the lack of representation for Black women in science fiction. She hasn’t seen examples of women who look like her being the protector and hero, which damages her capability to connect with that trait. The media that people absorb shapes who they are as individuals, and in the absence of good role models it’s more difficult to learn how to interact. Specifically, technology and social media have made younger generations rely heavier on seeing their favorite characters personify their values. Throughout the next lines she sings softly, almost as if she is whispering and unsure if she wants her partner to know about her ignorance as a lover. A certain embarrassment stems from her ignorance and she begins repeating the line “If you’d have just told me, I’d be home with you”, which shows that even though she doesn’t have the experience of being a hero, her passion gives her the courage to try and love unconditionally.

"But I'd save a life if I thought it belonged to you 
Mary Magdalene would never let her loved ones down" 

She emphasizes that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. One means that there is no love present at all, and the other is that the love is there when she is as well. She doesn’t want her partner to feel lonely and pushes herself to embody the selflessness of Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was a saint, but for centuries her significance was reduced to being a prostitute. Despite the gossip and ostracization she faced, Mary still chose to heal and project love onto others. FKA twigs is following suit and even though she doesn’t have the most positive view of herself, she would risk everything for her partner. Mary Magdalene was misjudged by others, and FKA twigs represents the perspective of people who have a harsh judgement of themselves. Additionally, the metaphor of being home symbolizes how she chooses to be present for the one she loves and see herself entirely. By being home and not far away in the entanglement of her insecurities, she is consequently repairing the self-doubt that harbors within herself.

The central idea of the song is that even when it feels vulnerable and uncertain, relying on the love you have for another person is the best choice. FKA twigs does not know how her relationship is going to end, but she knows that at any given moment she’d go to be with the person she loves. She leans into the love she shied away from at the beginning of the song, and it works out in her favor. Love drives her to be firmer in her conviction and the connection that she has in her relationship. FKA twigs wants people to understand a message that extends beyond her personal experience. The larger theme portrayed in “home with you” is that love prompts you to change, and being receptive to that change is the only way to mold happiness from pain and heartache.

The Myth of Meursault

Camus’ argument about Sisyphus is about the existential outlook on life. He references the myth as a way to connect how Sisyphus pushing a boulder for eternity demonstrates how some people are in control of their fate, while others are merely a pawn in it. Before being condemned to push the rock, Sisyphus was able to see the beauties of the world, like the sparkling sea and smiles of the Earth. And when the rock descends to the bottom, it reminds man of the joys of life and depresses him further, this is how the rock wins. But in contrast, Sisyphus’ motivation to go down to the bottom and try again, knowing it’s pointless, shows how strong-willed he is. Camus argues that everyday people have the same conditions as Sisyphus, but Sisyphus is happy because he knows the extent of his life and can therefore recognize himself as the controller of his destiny. As Camus says, “his fate belongs to him.”

When you examine Camus’ essay on Sisyphus alongside The Stranger, it would be difficult to figure out which one came first if you didn’t know already. The stories are interconnected because Meursault’s story is one where he was in control of his fate, and Sisyphus took control after laboring aimlessly for 10,000 years. If it were a competition, Meursault would definitely have the bragging rights since he figured it out way faster. Meursault was proactive instead of reactive to his surroundings, and didn’t succumb to the expectations of his peers. And overall, I feel the most powerful takeaway from Camus’ writing was its emphasis on autonomy, and how when humans eliminate outside distractions and embrace our own values is when we can truly dictate our destiny.

A Capitalist Commentary on The Elephant Vanishes

“The most important point is unity..even the most beautifully designed item dies if it is out of balance with its surroundings. (37)”

This short story opens with an unraveling investigation of a town’s elephant. The townspeople, or pupils, as the narrator describes them, aren’t too affected by the disappearance since they didn’t value the elephant’s presence anyways. The noun choice of “pupils” symbolizes how the citizens aren’t a community, but rather a collective. They organize for the sake of self-interest. Specifically, they keep the elephant after learning the town would gain full possession of the elephant’s land after it dies. I recognized the irony in the pupils only reaching an agreement once money was involved, and they tolerated the elephant in exchange for it. We know that this elephant is old, and it’s hardly a threatening creature. And although it wasn’t neglected by the townspeople, it surely wasn’t valued as a product of nature. I found it interesting how the short story highlighted the main idea that things we can profit from are only tolerated when they remain useful, and the dynamic shifts once this is no longer the case.

The reference the narrator makes to unity and balance is extended throughout the second half of the text. He uses this anecdote as a selling point for his job, but it also connects to the idea that When that respect and appreciation is lost, it doesn’t foster a nurturing environment. When the townspeople became fearful, like the only lady who stated she was “..afraid to let my children out to play, (36)”, it reconstructed the balance that the town had formed with the elephant. This balance of cohabitation was changed once the elephant vanished, making it no longer relevant and susceptible to villainization by the pupils. And as the narrator leads us along the story, we learn that even these negative feelings fade and turn into indifference. No one cares about the elephant anymore. Even speculation about its whereabouts doesn’t spark action to bring the elephant back, which further demonstrates how money is the ultimate motivator in this story.

Semplica Girls and the Interaction of Mutual Recognition

Semplica Girls and Lilly work toward mutual recognition when she interviews the girls for school. She goes beyond acknowledging the SGs by their Greenway names and worked on learning about their diverse backgrounds. Lilly’s interview took steps to treat them as equals, and SGs told her the stories that demonstrate they are complex people who have experienced life in a variety of ways. One SG, Januka, expressed that her name means “happy ray of sun,” and that her home country was in Laos. Rather than reducing the SGs to products of their less-developed countries, like her parents had, Lilly was able to educate her classmates about the authenticity of the Semplica Girls. In return, Lilly was mutually acknowledged by the school environment that allowed her to present her project. One could assume that the public school system would perpetuate the views of the outside world, and potentially agree with the objectification of SGs since students were educated on the Microlining process. However, in the context of the school project, Lilly was still able to share her views that opposed popular opinion.