Boys, take the hint

Boy meets girl.  Boy falls in love.  Girl avoids eye contact and all other forms of interaction.  Classic tale, right?  Boys, if you ever find yourself in a scenario like those described below … take my advice and take the hint.  Perhaps you will recognize some of these stories, and perhaps you know that they have have a happy ending.  But remember, that’s exactly what makes them only a story in the first place.

If you lived in a post-apocalyptic era in which you were both forced to fight to the death in an arena with 22 others. If, when you declared your love for her, she shoved you into a potted plant.  If in the arena she dropped a nest of deadly hornets on your camp.  If you find out your best chance of survival is to convince the nation that you’re in love.  If either of you could LITERALLY DIE AT ANY SECOND, and she STILL has reservations about kissing you,

take the hint.

If you two were both on this huge boat about a century ago.   If said-boat suddenly hit a large body of  ice and was sinking.  If the only thing between you and your freezing cold watery graves was a wooden door you had to use to stay afloat.  If she won’t scoot over just a little bit to make room for you and save your life,

take the hint.

If you were both at a ski resort on New Year’s Eve and you think you two just made this huge connection because some random guy FORCED her to sing karaoke with you.  If the clock struck midnight.  If all of these other couples are kissing.  If she would (supposedly) never see you again.  If she makes up some lame excuse about having to “go find her mom,” this is not the start of something new.

Take the hint.

If you met her at a ball.  If you had been dancing all night.  If you think that you’re making this big connection.  If suddenly she said she had to go but didn’t really give you a clear reason why.  If when you tried to follow her, she was in so much of a hurry her (very pricey) glass shoe fell off.  If to get away from you she didn’t even stop to grab her (but seriously even though shoes were 20 percent off she still paid way too much, but it was just like they were made for her, you know?) glass shoe.  Before you even consider scouring the entire kingdom for her,

take the hint.

If you had to scale a Ferris wheel to convince her to go out with you in the first place.  If she and her family moved away 364 days ago.  If you’ve been writing her a letter a day ever since without so much as a “k” or “:)” response,

take the hint.

Boys, no means no.  Girls, you’re welcome.  Now hopefully you won’t have 10 unread messages and 16 pending Snapchats when you check your phone. Hopefully you will be able to walk down the street without constantly checking over your shoulder and hopefully there will be no more pebbles hitting your window in the dead of night.

Sports rituals help bring teams together

When would wearing ragged socks that haven’t been washed in a decade be socially acceptable? If said socks were first worn when your sports team won the championship according to junior volleyball player Joie Graves.

There are few other events that bring about such superstitions, rituals and traditions more than sports.

Because competing is superstitious business, athletes and fans alike will do whatever it takes to get the win, including getting tattoos … of the temporary kind.

“For districts, the volleyball team brought Avengers and biker gang temporary tattoos,” Graves said. “We put them on our arms and stomachs so that we looked bada–.”

Aiming to put a similar fear into their components, members of the men’s swim and dive team bleach their hair bright gold near the beginning of their season.

But that’s only one of many traditions according to junior Aaron Tracey.

“Every year we also have a spirit week to lead up to SECs. We normally try to make up new themes for each day, but we always have a safari day,” Tracey said. “We also do crazy hair cuts before SECs and sing ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias after home meets in the locker room.”

Following this team’s lead and with an attribution to school spirit, the members of the women’s swim and dive team dyed their hair maroon for states.

But that’s not their only tradition.

“We shave our legs together the day before our last meet,” junior Reagan Maisch said. “It’s supposed to make us go faster, but it also helps with team bonding because we’re all in the same boat.”

Following the hair theme that can be seen with the swim teams, the men’s cross country team also has a sacred tradition: mohawks.

“It started five years ago, and since then we all get mohawks the day before regionals, and we keep them until states,” senior Justin Skiver said.

But whatever the tradition, the end goal is the same.

Graves said, “Even though our traditions don’t really help us win, doing something as a team makes us stronger.”

There are plenty of ways to beat the cold

If you are like me and you hate snow and cold weather, then my advice to you is get the heck out of Michigan.  It’s really cold in this state and not pleasant at all.  However if you can’t migrate out of this freezing cold, then here are some tips to beat it.

First, when you wake up in the morning, make yourself some hot chocolate before you depart.  Hot chocolate not only tastes delicious, but it will also keep your hands warm.

I would also suggest starting your car five to 10 minutes early and blast the heat, so when it is time to leave, you can at least be a little warm.

And when the weather is below zero and it’s almost too cold to go outside, I suggest wearing two pairs of gloves and socks. For me at least, the parts on my body that get the coldest are always my hands and feet.  So wearing two pairs of gloves and socks only further insures your feeling of ultimate warmth.

I also suggest buying a surplus of hand warmers in the fall, so every morning you can just heat one up and you’re set for the whole day.

If you follow all of my tips to stay warm for the treaturous winter, I assure you, you will be in the clear in your quest for escaping the cold.

A cup of Joe for Valentine's Day

It’s Valentine’s Day. The loveiest doveiest day of the year. If you’re like the old me, this is probably a terrible reminder of the loneliness and rejection that constantly haunts you.

But the new, improved and current me loves this time of year.

For me, I like to keep it interesting so I use all kinds of different methods to reel in the big fish. Since I am such a nice guy, I will share a short work of my genius. Here is my newest bait that is sure to be a big catch:

Roses are red, lilies are yellow

If you give me a chance, I’ll prove I’m a fine fellow.

My game so good they call me Carmelo,

All I have to do is start with a hello.

You may think I’m just a friend,

But I can no longer just pretend.

I want to be with you to the end,

Even if I have to spend, spend, spend.

I wish you could understand how much I care,

Continuing to just stare is too hard to bare.

Can I please just touch your hair and treat you fair?

I really think we’d make a great pair.

I’ll put you under my spell.

Trust me, I don’t kiss and tell.

Just ring my bell, and I’ll treat you well.

For you’ll never have to dwell,

Even if you smell.

Choose to be with me, and I’ll give you a show.

I’ll love you from head to toe and our love will grow.

Pick truth not dare, I want you to know.

Give your boy some love, Sincerely, Joe.

American Hustle captures '70s culture in captivating manner

“American Hustle” is an awful film with terrible acting, terrible direction and a terrible story line.

If you believed that, then you can imagine what it’s like to get lost in the web of cons surrounding Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale) in David O. Russell’s stylized, fantastic story of scandal.

It’s a film about lies, deception and the art of the con. A fictional story (loosely based on facts surrounding the ‘70s Abscam political scandal) bolstered by an historically-accurate backdrop, “American Hustle” is a unique, character-driven experience.

Bale plays a simple con-man who gets roped into pulling larger and more risky schemes by the seductive Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Eventually the two get caught by a broke and desperate FBI agent named Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) who agrees to let them go if they help him pull a few high-profile cons involving the incrimination of political figures such as Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).

Every character gets in a little over their heads, and the result is an engaging and entertaining story throughout.

The hilarious script and impeccable cast are the strongest points of the film. Every actor involved sinks deeply into their role and pulls off incredible comedic timing. Jennifer Lawrence has a fairly strong performance as the eccentric Rosalyn Rosenfield to whom Irving is reluctantly “married.”

However, of the five main cast members, Lawrence’s performance was the weakest. I couldn’t get past the lurking feeling that I was just watching her playing a character, rather than truly seeing Rosalyn Rosenfield come to life. In addition, her accent didn’t feel consistent. While her character was well-designed and well-written, Rosalyn deserved a more immersive performance than Lawrence gave.

On the other hand, Bale, Cooper, Adams and Renner were all fantastic. Russell has worked with most of these actors in the past (Bale and Adams in “The Fighter,” Cooper and Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”), and he knows their strengths well.

In addition, the cinematography, sets, costumes and lighting are all gorgeous. From extravagantly-decorated casinos to lavish hotels, the movie is a delectation to look at.

Russell is an experienced director, having been nominated for best director and best adapted screenplay at the 2013 Academy Awards for “Silver Linings Playbook.” His perspicacity as a filmmaker shines through in every shot and directorial choice.

The period costumes are captivating and beautiful. Adams and Bale both have near 40 costume changes each, and it works. Everything period-specific in the movie is a shining example of the most classy, grandiose aspects of the ‘70s.

And nothing exemplified the ‘70s better than the film’s soundtrack. With Elton John, the Bee Gees, Chicago, Santana and America, there are plenty of great artists from this era, some of which aren’t well known. Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs uses these songs in an incredibly effective ways to creatively amplify the action on screen.

“I’ve Got Your Number” by Jack Jones plays while Irving is describing his enduring love for Sydney. “Evil Ways” by Santana plays while Lawrence’s character walks towards a group of mobsters unaware of the danger that will follow.

Not all of the songs are perfectly period accurate (such as “Long Black Road” by Electric Light Orchestra from 2001), but they all fit in and work together to create sonic joy.

Perhaps the best example is “Jeep’s Blues,” a 1950s song by Duke Ellington that plays an important role in the film, appearing three times. The song becomes an intrinsic theme for the movie, and is a prominent illustration of the relationship between Irving and Sydney.

Despite the chaotic double-crosses and plot-twists, “American Hustle” is a love story at its core. The tumultuous relationship between Irving Rosenfield and Sydney Prosser is the focal point of most of the events in the film. Moments that are touching and introspective work in good balance with moments that are outrageous and comical. “American Hustle” is a tremendous success.

UFOs? Whoa! (with video)

“Domed,” “oval-shaped,” “quilted surface,” “lights in the center and on each end,” “fantastic speeds,” “sharp turns,” “dive and climb,” “great maneuverability.” These are some of the words used to describe an unidentified object seen by dozens of witnesses including law enforcement on March 20, 1966 in Dexter.

That night, on Frank Mannor’s McGuinnes Road farm in northwest Dexter, in the midst of hundreds of UFO sightings in Michigan at the time, Mannor, his family and dozens of other witnesses said they saw a domed, oval-shaped object with a quilted surface actually land in a nearby swamp. According  to these witnesses, the object had lights in the center and on each end.

According to then-40-year-old Mannor, he and his 18-year-old son Ronald followed the UFO into a swampy area, but as they came closer, it slowly rose up, moved right above their heads and quickly disappeared into the night.

Just after, two officers who had not arrived on scene yet, Stanley McFadden and David Fitzpatrick, saw an object that matched the same description over Mast and North Territorial Roads in Dexter. They said it looked to be about the size of a small house, and they had never seen those types of movements on any air craft as it hovered quickly disappeared into the night moments later.

Dexter resident Louie Ceriani has lived in Dexter since 1928 and recalled the incident as exciting. He said it sparked a lot of intrigue in most citizens whether they believed in UFO’s or not.

“The excitement of all of this caused people for miles around to look skyward looking and hoping to see a UFO,” Ceriani said. “Some said they saw one but never told the press but only to their friends and that was with a smile.”

Jim Koch was a junior at Dexter High School at the time and said he felt the collective excitement that was going around town at the time.

“I remember it was a big deal at the time,” Koch said. “I was in high school at the time, and one of our favorite activities to get out of the house was to go look for UFOs.  We would cruise around the back roads and do what high school kids at the time did.”

In fact, Ceriani said people came from miles around to check out Mannor’s farm because the case got so big.

“Even professors came to Frank’s farm,” he said. “Of course, they knew better: that Frank was just making it up. But Frank stuck to his word saying he did see a UFO. The more intelligent people thought maybe Frank was a little tithed, not well-educated. The press even took pictures of Frank and his house.”

Due to the various, alleged UFO sightings in Michigan at the time, the Dexter case attracted national attention as Project Blue Book, set up by the U.S. Air Force, sent Dr. J. Allen Hynek to investigate the sighting reports.

At first, Hynek agreed that there was something going on in the Michigan skies. But after he consulted with Blue Book headquarters, he changed his mind, and said that the sightings were nothing more than swamp gas.

“Marsh gas usually has no smell but sounds like the small popping explosions similar to a gas burner igniting,” Hynek said in 1966. “The gas forms from decomposition of vegetation. It seems likely that as the present spring thaws came, the gases methane, hydrogen sulfide and phosphine, resulting from decomposition of organic materials, were released.”

With Hynek’s conclusion, the case was closed. Project Blue Book, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was terminated Dec. 17, 1969. Of a total of 12,618 sightings reported to Project Blue Book, 701 remained “unidentified.”

Then-Sherrif Douglas J. Harvey was angry at the time due to Hynek’s conclusion. He had spent time in army bases in the swamps of Lousiana during World War 2 and claimed he had seen plenty of swamp gas before.

“That’s a pretty weak theory,” Harvey said. “I’ve seen plenty of swamp gas and this wasn’t it. We saw what we saw, all right.”

Sharrar promoted to new position

When new Superintendent Chris Timmis was hired on June 12, he said he saw changes right away that he wanted to make in the district administrative structure.

And with an announcement on Dec. 3 that Assistant Principal Mollie Sharrar would be accepting a new position as the Executive Director of Instruction and Strategic Initiatives, Timmis started the first of these changes.

After working as an assistant principal split between the high school and Mill Creek middle school from 2006 to 2007, Sharrar became the principal at Creekside Intermediate school. She worked there full time until 2010, at which time she returned to the high school to once again be an assistant principal.

Throughout her time at the high school, Sharrar has seen her fair share of changes, one of them being the implementation of the International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Timmis said he noticed a conflict in the district between supporters of an Advanced Placement curriculum and those who supported the International Baccalaureate curriculum. But in his view, there really shouldn’t be a conflict.

“The way I see it, they’re all smart kids,” Timmis said. “There isn’t a program that works for all students because everyone learns differently, so why not figure out a way to make them both work.”

Such debate between supporters of AP and IB was just one of the factors that has lead Timmis to begin putting together a district instructional support team that he wanted Sharrar to lead.

“There’s nothing more important that we do than teach,” Timmis said. “And right now, we don’t have anyone in charge of that. The whole concept is to have a team that will lead what we do in terms of teaching. There’ll be a team to oversee and manage new initiatives to make sure we get them done.”

Sharrar was on a short list of people Timmis said he considered for the position. He said he met with her to discuss some of the details and sent her a proposal. After he worked with Sharrar to tweak the proposal a bit, he appointed her to the position.

“I looked for strong leaders in key roles,” Timmis said. “I had no need to look outside the district, since we already had her here. Now, I’m most looking forward to putting this instructional support team model into place.”

What most often ends up happening in a school district is that a principal doesn’t necessarily have control of making the changes they want to make happen, happen, Timmis said. His plan is to set up a team so Dexter has the people in place to implement new curriculum, changes and ideas, and implement them well.

But as Sharrar’s influence in the district expands, it means changes for the high school’s administration.

Sharrar, who was in charge of testing at the high school, was part of a three-person team that also included Principal Kit Moran and the other assistant principal, Ken Koenig. And Moran said he’s going to miss Sharrar immensely.

“I have the best team of people on the planet,” Moran said. “We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses really well. We all kind of do our own thing, so it’s really the three of us in charge, collaborating.”

Moran also said he enjoys working with Sharrar, and has worked with her for five years, so filling her shoes would be no easy task.

“Our new job is to find someone with the skills (Sharrar) has,” Moran said. “Someone who will fit into the team just as she did.”

And find someone they did.

On Jan. 20, the board of education approved former high school teacher consultant Karen Walls as the new assistant principal.

Walls was among 160 applicants for the position and was called back for two rounds of interviews.

“We’re all looking forward to working with her,” Moran said. “Her energy and enthusiasm is fantastic. And so is her knowledge of special education students.”

Although she won’t be moving very far within the building, Walls is just as excited about the new position.

“What was so enticing about this is that as an administrator, I will still stay connected with kids,” Walls said. “I’m not far removed from any of the staff, and I’m looking forward to being able to have a really positive influence. I’m really so thankful to transition with Sharrar, but I know I have big shoes to fill.”

Laurence Carolin's memory lives on through Make-a-Wish Foundation

For those who knew him, Laurence Carolin was someone who put others before himself at all times.  He cared for people, helped others and cheered people up on daily basis.

Carolin died in January 2010 at the age of 15 from a brain tumor which developed in the center of his brain.  When his doctors told him that he didn’t have much time left, however, he didn’t fear death. His attitude was that if it was time to die, it was time to die.

“Some people die sooner than others,” he said at the time.

Accepting death is one of life’s biggest challenges.  Fighting for life is another.  Regardless, Carolin didn’t let his brain tumor stop him from staying positive.

He was offered a wish from the Make-A-Wish foundation and said that he’d like to meet Bono from the band U2. Carolin credited the band’s lyrics as with helping to raise his spirits and keep him positive about his situation.

Make-A-Wish said that they were unable to make the arrangement so Carolin then said that he wanted the $5,000 that was going towards his wish to go towards the UN Foundation.  This act of selflessness is how we should remember him.  He has helped raise over $20,000 dollars in donations to the UN Foundation.

He was truly a one-of-a kind kid.  He is not the average Joe who would just cruise through the day and do everything for himself.  Carolin went out of his way to support and care for the people in his life.  For him it was a priority, not just a side gig.  Carolin is respected because of actions like these.

And one of his most important legacies is Airplane Day, so named because it was the day when the adopted Carolin flew into the United States from South Korea.  Today, the Carolin family still celebrate Airplane Day.  They get together to remember how great the day was and its importance.  They give gifts to each other share stories related to Laurence.

This year’s Airplane Day is going to be celebrated at Foggy Bottom as an awareness/fundraiser/music festival on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 6-10 p.m.  Admission is free, but donations to the United Nations Foundations will be accepted at the door.

If you can’t make it to the celebration, please consider donating to the UN Foundation online at unfoundation.org/

Laurence Carolin inspired more people than I can count.  His strength and fight are what kept him moving forward.  We should follow his example.  We should put others before ourselves and pay it forward.