The Amazing Spiderman 2 Review

While it may lack some of the quality and charm of the first movie, The Amazing Spiderman 2, which played at Cole Cinema this past weekend, is a solid edition to what Sony intends to be the ongoing Spiderman franchise, that will hopefully serve as the build up to slightly better movies.

Amazing Spiderman 2 continues the story of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) as he graduates high school, and deals with the increasingly demanding pressures of being Spiderman, while at the same time attempting to solve the mystery of his parent’s departure from his life, reconnecting with childhood friend and poor little rich kid Harry Osborn (played by famed anemic, Victorian schoolboy Dane Dehaan) and having more back-and-forths than a ping pong match about his breakup with his ever-chill scientist girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

While Peter is busy juggling his great powers and even greater responsibilities, Oscorp Industries once again proves that for a billion-dollar multinational corporation, it’s shockingly under-qualified to have a genetics lab. This is made abundantly clear when shy and lonely electrical engineer Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) makes a shocking discovery (ie. He falls into a vat of genetically modified electrical eels and dies, because his coworkers would rather have a laugh at his expense than obey serious safety protocol. (What the heaping spoonful of hell, Oscorp?). When Dillon wakes up alone and afraid in the morgue, he has become the electrically charged super being Electro, capable of leeching power from nearby sources of electricity to charge his own devastating attacks.

As stated in the opener, Spiderman 2 really is a solid movie. Andrew Garfield delivers big as Spiderman in and out of costume, and the highlights of the movie come from seeing him in action sassing the bad guys and building up the disenfranchised. It’s a wonderful marriage of wit and warmth, with just a little twist of angsty teen frustration, that makes Garfield’s Spiderman truly worthy of the giant reboot it has received (sorry, Tobey Maguire). Another big winner for the movie is the pretty dazzling chemistry of Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker. In a genre where romance can be, ironically enough, such a mood killer, Stone and Garfield’s moments together not only don’t detract from the action, but instead add enormous character and light-heartedness to the movie. It’s cute, not too melodramatic or gross. Boo hoo hoo… (If you don’t know why I included that last part, you may want to take a break from this article.)

In spite of this, while advancing the ongoing story of Spiderman for what is obviously going to be future movies, I have to admit I thought that as far as stand-alone plot, it had very little meat on its bones. Like so many superhero movies in the post-Avengers world, I think Spiderman suffers from just-wait-for-it syndrome, a debilitating illness where a studio makes a butt-ton of average hero movies under the pretense that they’re important build-up to one incredible film that will give you everything you wanted when you came to the theater and spent $12.50. There’s surprisingly sparse action in Spiderman 2, as the bulk of the film chooses to center on Peter’s confusion over his parent’s secrets and his torch for his ex-girlfriend. Remember how I said Peter and Gwen are great together? Well, that’s really only when they’re physically together, which they aren’t for a huge chunk of the movie. This is all fine, except that the things Peter accomplishes in pursuing these things really don’t matter at all to the ongoing story.

The other huge loss in terms of plot comes in the lackluster part given to Electro. Much of Jamie Foxx’s performance is great, but initial screen time is used to establish the earnest desire of Max Dillon/Electro to be noticed and liked, and the obsession with Spiderman he develops after the Web-Swinger treats him with kindness. Dillon’s insecurity and loneliness makes for a very sad and interesting backstory, but after Dillon becomes Electro, this aspect of him takes a backseat to his newfound hatred of Spiderman in terms of his motivation, which is a shame. On top of that, despite Electro’s seemingly impressive powers, Spiderman defeats him super quickly. Twice. Electro had the potential to be both a sympathetic and sinister villain, but he just falls short.

Besides the discovery of his father’s work at Oscorp revealing why Peter survived the radioactive spider-bite that turned him into Spiderman (which, I’m sorry, who cares?), and the break in friendship between Peter and Harry, in two and a half hours Spiderman 2, which has devoted so much of the movie to advancing the overarching story at the cost of action and the primary plot, really only contributes with one major event to the life of Peter Parker. I won’t say what it is outright, but after endless hinting throughout the first and second movie, The Amazing Spiderman 2 depicts one of the most famous and tragic moments in comic book history. Even if you see it coming, it’s pretty nail-bitingly tense and upsetting. It’s a really great moment in an otherwise fun but mediocre fare, though it’ll be hard to fill a particular pair of shoes in the upcoming movies.

To conclude, Spiderman 2 is worth the watch if you’re invested in the Spiderman series. If you’re looking for some stand-alone superhero movie on a Saturday night, I might pick the first one instead. It does whatever Spiderman 2 can.

Humor Column: The Seven Plagues of St. Mary's

And lo, the incorporeal manifestation of St. Mary’s College of Maryland spoke to Delia, the humor columnist. She had heard the voice of her College many times before, and though she had been prescribed a strong medication by her therapist, she had eventually decided would just have to let this weird shit be.

The College summoned the journalist to the highest hill o’er the lowest valley by the widest tree in the land of St. Mary’s, which happened to be exactly on the spot of the Arby’s. So the columnist and the disembodied voice of her undergraduate school split an Angus Three Cheese and Bacon, for all know that Arby’s is a hearty, delicious experience you can count on. And the College our School said, “Hear me writer, ye must obey the deadlines of your editors. Turn your articles in on time, lest someone would make you wait ‘til the last minute on a Sunday. And the columnist said, “Nay, this I cannot promise, for I am like, super busy all week and I hath promised my friend Jamie that we could party in honor of her birthday this Sabbath eve.” At this the College grew cold, and super passive aggressive. “So be it, writer. Well I guess if ye of so much pride can do as ye please, then ye shall not mind if I just let seven plagues descend upon thine campus, since, ye know, we’re just doing whatever we feel like now.” And the journalist said. “Ok! Ok! I shall obey my deadlines, so swear I.” And the College said “No, no, do not go out of your way on my account. Actually, I want to do seven plagues now. I really do.” And the journalist rubbed upon her temples and said ‘I cannot talk to you when you’re like this. Why must you punish all who dwell on campus for my transgressions? If they discover I am the cause, they shall surely throw me into the river.” “Yep.” Came College’s reply. “Pretty much.” And thus seven plagues came in time to St. Mary’s College, and the humor columnist was stuck with a bill for $37.45.

Plague 1. Floods

The College commanded the waters of the St. Mary’s River to rise and floweth all through the dormitories. The students of the first floors all screwed their faces up in disgust as puddles formed in the halls, and a lone pair of underoos floated out of the laundry room.

Plague 2. Insects

Next the College commanded the creepy crawlies of the earth of to make themselves at home within the students dwellings. Flies teemed to trash cans, gnats blackened the ceiling and cockroaches called into question their ability to survive a nuclear fallout, because they straight up died everywhere. And the students bemoaned their fate and went ‘Auggghhhh, that is so grooooosssss!”

Plague 3: Hurricanes

Next the College brought about a sweeping deluge to knock the power out during freshman orientation. “Wait a moment,” said the humor columnist. “I’m a little confused about the chronology of all these plagues. Didn’t that hurricane happen…” College then cut her off with a second, milder hurricane that nonetheless meant being stuck inside right after Hallowgreens. The journalist was silent after this, for she missed her Netflix and did not wish to provoke anymore wrath upon her binging of ‘New Girl.’

Plague 4: Mold

College then sent a great many spores of fungus to line the walls of Prince George and Caroline. It then softened the administrators’ heads so that action was slow and indecisive as the mold grew in size and health hazardy-ness. In time the studentites were forced on an exodus from their home dorms, and put into the neighboring inns, where it was super inconvenient. In a moment of pity and also really mixed up Old Testament references, College gave the wandering students an arc, on which they stayed for forty days and forty nights, possibly more, I don’t care.

Plague 5: Mice

College sent the creatures of the Earth to once more run free through of homes of the Studentites, and lo, the journalist spoke again. “This is intensely crazy, I’m putting a stop to this.” “Be my guest,” replied College. “Tell everybody I’ve been talking to you in your head and that this is actually all your fault. Please, go right ahead.” The Writer was silent for several moments, and The College, our School, said “That’s what I thought.”

Plague 6: Budget Cuts

College sliced the fiscal resources of the school, and lo many ‘difficult decisions’ had to be made. “This is idiotic.” Said the journalist, sitting behind the cardboard box that was now her desk. “Quiet please,” said her professor, using a piece of brush to clear the sand, thus switching to the next slide of the ‘Powerpoint.’

Plague 7: The Dearth of the First Years

Finally, College sent a Common Application all across the land, and the enrollment of the school began to perish. There were not enough freshman to fill the slots allotted for the class of 2017, and administrators searched far and wide for people to fill the roles.

“College, you have made your point, and filled me with shame” said Delia the columnist. “I shall flake on my deadlines no more.” “And this is very good.” Said College, “But why looketh you so bleakly?” And the writer replied “When so many things go wrong, how can I look out gladly upon my school?”And the College replied, “How? Why, look around you writer.” The writer looked, and before her were many wonders. She saw the river and the beach and Daffodil Gulch, she saw the deep woods of North Campus. She saw Kent Hall where her teachers filled her days with meaning and challenges. She saw the apartment she called home, and the friends she shared it with. She saw the clubs she cared about, and the newspaper she was proud to write for. All in all, for any seven plagues that came, she could say there were far more than Seven Wonders for it. Indeed, thought the writer, this was her school, and whatever the reasons, she was proud of it. And the writer said. “You’re right, this is very good.”

And don’t forget to stop at Arby’s.

Volleyball: Good Prospects for the Season to Come

The SMCM volleyball team is looking to be a competitive presence on the court for their 2014 season. Led by captain Autumn Fisher, the team consists of two firstyears, three sophomores, seven juniors, and one senior. Their current record stands at four wins and four losses, with two 3-0 wins at the Puerto Rico Classico standing out as a season highlight. “It was an amazing, eye opening experience that taught us how different teams play,” said sophomore Mimi Graf.

Despite the challenging opponents in the conference, new coach Jeremy Sands is optimistic about upcoming games. “The Capital Athletic Conference is tough and you need to face top competition to prepare for the battles ahead of us,” he stated. “I am confident that our team will emerge as one of the strongest teams to date. I look forward to being a part of the journey.” The team feels confident that Sands is preparing them well for the rest of the season. “I think he’s done a really good job with telling us what he wants and setting up practices to try to get the most work done in the short amount of time that we have,” said junior Karlee Valliant. “He came in very organized and set a good base for how the rest of the season should go.”

This year’s team is intent on playing up their strengths while simultaneously improving weaker areas. “We want to work on our mental toughness,” said junior Autumn Fisher, who went on to say: “that being said, our current strengths are plentiful: we can run a great offense, and our communication is strong.” The players feel that being a close-knit group is an advantage to the team both on and off the court.

After some tough matches against Franklin & Marshall College and host Stevenson University on Sept 13, the Seahawks are hoping to break their current streak of two losses on September 20 with games against Bridgewater College and host Washington & Lee University. On Sept 26 and 27, they will be participating in the 21st Annual Lycoming College Warrior Tip Off Classic, followed by their first conference game against Southern Virginia University on Oct 1.

The team is also busy preparing for other events this season. “I’m looking forward to community outreach and the Dig the Pink game to support the fight against breast cancer,” said junior Jenny Staab. They will also be playing an alumni game at Hawktoberfest. “It’s going to be so much fun to get together with the women we have played with, and the ones we’ve never met, to hear about their experiences and get them involved in SMCM events in the future,” said junior Mandy Goodspeed. Overall, the team expressed very positive feelings about the rest of the season. “All in all, I look forward to every game,” said Fisher. “Being a collegiate athlete is an awesome privilege.”

SMCM Institutions: The Swings

There are many parts of college life that nudge students towards adulthood; careers, graduate studies, and networking- and suddenly, there are swing sets.

Tucked into three discreet locations around the campus, the swings are not only there as sweet aesthetic touches to the image of a nature-loving college. They are also, in a sense, tiny portals by which to escape back to ones childhood when college life seems to get too heavy.

The most significant, and perhaps the most inconspicuous one is the swing behind the library. For me, I did not know this swing truly existed until I was a sophomore, thinking that it could have been a figment of a senior myth saved for gullible incoming freshman. When I finally decided to go looking for it, I was pleasantly surprised to find a familiar image from my childhood overlooking the pond- a double swing overlooking the water- only at St. Mary’s.

The second is the most public and arguably the most inviting; a set of mesh hammock swings dangling from the large tree that shades most of Margaret Brent Hall. These swings are the scene of relaxation for many students of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Departments. They are the desks of impromptu outdoor classrooms, and the lunch seats of many visitors. For professors, they may even be moments of silence, a quick break from grading reflection essays.

The third is hidden behind the greens- and not for the faint of heart.  Set over a drop off in a small clearing in the woods, this wooden plank swing is a stomach-dropping thrill that sends you through the trees towards the view of the water. As a senior, I never knew that swing was there until a few days ago.

There are times on this campus when I truly feel like an adult- I walk as a senior, carrying my bag holding a folder with my resume tucked inside along with a portfolio of papers regarding my SMP. In some instances, I take myself seriously and for some brief moment I feel as though I am ready for life beyond the path. I think about my project and my resume, and how lately my laptop feels as though it has grown to be an extension of my hands. Most days, I feel that all I do is type and stare, hitting the backspace key more than anything else on the keyboard.

Thankfully, these times are sporadic in the company of my friends who coax me out of my room, out of Kent Hall, and away from my sorry addiction to typing. They yank me out of the cave that is my SMP and out into daylight when they want to take a walk. Sometimes, if I am out, I venture off alone. I find myself swinging back and forth, my bag is on the ground, and my shoes are off, and for a moment, I am a college senior-who is six again.

Art Club Spotlight

“How many people love art, but can’t do it because they’re bio majors?” asks President Sophomore Keely Houk of the SMCM Art Club.

One of the major goals of the newly formed Art Club is to be a space not only for students who have dedicated their studies to the arts, but also for those who simply want to include more creativity in their lives at St. Mary’s. “We really want to create a community for artistic people on campus,” says Houk.

“It’s really a stress free environment,” said first year Raziela Manangan, as she and other members sat sketching possible logos for the Art Club’s t-shirt design contest.

“I’ve been drawing for all my life, and only recently started taking it more seriously,” said Jaina Beatley-Patterson, a first year. “I think the club [will be] a nice mix of doodling and enjoyment”.  Though the club has a large population of first years in its assembly, upperclassmen who found a lack of artistic opportunities in their academic lives also joined the ranks. Junior Tessa Haynes said last year that she had an interest in the creation of a student-driven Art Club, but like many, had little time to fit anything into her busy schedule. “I don’t really get to do much art in my day to day classes, so this is a good place for that,” she said.

Art Club pushes its members to sharpen their artistic skills and broaden their creativity through different exercises. “At our first club meeting, we did an activity where everybody had to sketch each other, and then we switched off so we had two different portraits,” said Houk. They also have plans to bring in live models for members to practice drawing.

President Houk and Vice President Junior Edward Brence also elaborated on the club’s plans for possible future events that can include the entire school population, not just students in the club. “We have talked about a kind of Art Fest, where at the end of the spring semester we want to portray everybody’s work,” said Houk.

Brence continued, “We’d love to have this place where everyone can go around and see what people on campus are doing, and possibly incorporate some music and food and make a day of it.”

The club executives have also talked about the possibility of creating a student-designed mural somewhere on campus. The club’s board is working closely with staff sponsor and Art Professor Carrie Patterson to carry out their plans.

Art Club was formed out of frustration for the lack of a space for artistically inclined students to meet and express themselves. Houk stated, “Last year I think the big thing for us was that the arts were struggling; so we wanted to say, well, look at how much it affects all of us, look how many of us are involved.”

“There was this idea on campus that the arts were lagging—but that’s not the case here,” said Brence. Houk agreed, saying, “We had 102 students sign up for the club. There’s definitely interest.”

Art Club meets Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm, in Montgomery Hall 105.

Meet Clinton Brantley: The New Director of Public Safety

“You have to be open and receptive to the needs of the community you serve.” This is the first part of Clinton Brantley’s response to the question of how public safety can be an effective force on campus. He comes to St. Mary’s after ten years as the Chief of Police at Wesleyan College.

Brantley’s mission as the director of St. Mary’s Public Safety is the same as it was at Wesleyan: ensuring the security and safety of the campus. However, there are some crucial differences. Perhaps most significant is that, unlike their counterparts at St. Mary’s, Wesleyan’s officers are all licensed police; complete with arrest powers. This meant that at Wesleyan, officers have considerably more raw authority than they do at St. Mary’s. While some directors might be bothered by this apparent loss of authority, Brantley insists that he feels quite the opposite. According to him, the most important part of a Public Safety department is that it is tailored to the campus that it serves. In the case of St. Mary’s vs. Wesleyan, St. Mary’s simply employs a lighter footprint with regard to public safety enforcement.

Brantley’s respect for St. Mary’s policy does not mean that he lacks a desire to improve the Public Safety department. He hopes to introduce and expand programs that will strengthen Public Safety without, as some have feared in the past, “policifying” the department. Instead, he places a huge emphasis on improving the Public Safety’s relationship with students. He plans to begin a program he calls “Chief’s Night Out.” On certain evenings, often week days, Brantley and several other officers will travel between certain public spaces on campus such as the campus center, the pub, and perhaps Dorchester Circle in order to make themselves available to talk to students. Brantley emphasized that this would not be a patrol. He expects that the officers on the walk will be off duty, in the sense that they will not be looking to enforce school policy. Instead, their focus will be on reaching out to the campus population and strengthening their ties with the community. In Brantley’s words: “I see where we need to build a better bridge between the campus and the PS department.”

In addition to improving his department’s relationship with the community, Brantley aims to take steps to improve safety on campus. Specifically, and somewhat unsurprisingly, his chief concerns are with decreasing alcohol abuse and sexual assault on campus. To this end, he hopes to employ off-campus experts and professionals to present educational information about these issues. Brantley has already expressed an interest in bringing back the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program that used to exist on campus.  The program is designed to teach people, primarily women, simple self-defense techniques to better protect themselves from sexual assault. Other programs and presentations are still being determined, but Brantley hopes that community education will reduce the need for Public Safety to exercise its authority by allowing community members to more effectively police themselves.

Addressing what may be, for some, the elephant in the room, Brantley said: “I’m not sure about previous directors, but I feel very strongly about my community outreach programs.” Brantley is currently looking into increasing the number of officers on staff specifically, he says, to increase the amount of time that each officer can spend on community outreach. He is also exploring a variety of options for increasing student communication with department. One proposal under consideration is a regular column, published in The Point News, where he can answer student questions about issues relating to public safety on campus.

Welcome from the Student Trustee

Greetings St. Mary’s community!

My name is Taylor Schafer and I am proud and honored to be your student trustee for the 2014-2015 school year! As a senior and very involved member of the community, I will serve as the voice and a liaison between the student body and the Board of Trustees. I want to thank last year’s student trustee, Michael Killius ’14, for guiding and preparing me for this year. I am also pleased to introduce student trustee-in-training Eric Schroeder ’16, who will join me in the spring when he returns from Dublin to prepare for his role as my successor.

The Board of Trustees serves as the governing body for the College, making major big picture decisions regarding things like student tuition, campus construction, and external and government relations. I encourage you all to attend our quarterly meetings, the first of which will be held on Saturday, September 20, at 8:30a.m. in the Glendening Annex. All are welcome.

For those of you who don’t know, this year’s Orientation theme was “A Voyage to a New Beginning.” Of course, the theme is referring to St. Mary’s starting its year with some new faces—a new president, a new dean of students, a new public safety director, etc. And of course, our newest Seahawks, the cohort of 2014, who joined us just last week. I welcome you all to campus and look forward to working with you all this year to move St. Mary’s forward in a positive direction. I encourage you all to carry the theme of new beginnings with you throughout the entire year in order to strengthen our community. The best way to do that is to be open-minded to change and the views of others, to lend a helping hand whenever you can, to pay attention to the language you use, to try something new, and to engage in meaningful dialogue with others. In short, embrace the St. Mary’s Way.

So I challenge you all: next time you overhear an offensive comment or rude slur used, say something. Next time an interesting and exciting opportunity arises, take it. Next time you see someone lost or hurting or alone, guide them. May we remember all the times we’ve been helped, guided, and saved in our lives, and pay it forward.

As a student trustee, I plan on spearheading several projects and events that will embrace the challenges listed above—to engage students in positive dialogue and awareness within our community and beyond. I will be communicating in several ways to the campus to give information about those projects throughout the year. For now, I encourage you all to reach out to me if you have questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions. I am always willing to chat and I look forward to creating an unforgettable new beginning with you all!

 

Love,

Taylor Schafer ‘15

Student Trustee

 

  • Open Hours: Monday 11am-1pm @ The Daily Grind
  • Twitter: @TaylorSMCM
  • Email: tmschafer@smcm.edu
  • Stop me on the path!

Play Preview: "Much Ado About Nothing" Coming in November

Amidst the coming whirlwind of too-soon midterms, surprise papers due in a week, and the ever-changing lineup of faculty, St. Mary’s students will have a moment to laugh at the comedy-romance spectacle that is Much Ado About Nothing. The Shakespeare play about “betrayal, lovers, bumbling villains and incompetent law officers” is coming to Bruce Davis Theater November 7-9 and 13-16. Directed jointly by Prof. Michael Ellis-Tolaydo and senior TFMS major Madeleine Barry, Much Ado is going to have a very unique and distinctly St. Mary’s twist on typically traditional Shakespeare.

Stage manager and junior Austin Gore is behind the scenes, “making sure all the actors have arrived safely” and generally trying to “maintain the director’s vision.” While it is still early in the production, Gore says he “enjoys Shakespeare but does not have a favorite scene yet.” In total, around 42 people auditioned for the play and were accepted.

Senior and TFMS major Celia Rector is playing the character Hero, a woman that falls in love with the soldier Claudio. Rector says of the play, “I absolutely love Shakespeare, and this comedy has always been one of my favorites. There is something special about it, because while a lot of the jokes and situations are over the top, all of the characters have a genuine love for each other, and really are trying to work towards happiness.” The play will certainly be a welcome distraction from midterms, when the time comes around for it to grace the stage. Be sure to grab a ticket when November rolls around, for it is sure to sell out fast.

Book Reviews: From Page to Screen

For those who love the silver screen for its cinematic genius, and for those who just love curling up in bed with some popped corn and their favorite Netflix series, it is time to check out; these totally tubular books! Every issue, this new column will give readers five interesting books along with a snippet about each one. This week, we are highlighting books that have either been made into a recent movie or television show or are coming soon to a theater/Netflix account near you. Enjoy, and look for us in coming issues where we tackle the fantastical world of books to find out what you should be reading.

 

A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin; Game of Thrones on HBO

Both a critically acclaimed series in its original novels and in the widely watched HBO series, A Song of Ice and Fire is a must-read for any fantasy fan—but not just for the Tolkien or D&D lovers out there. Even if you aren’t usually one to go for a medieval political drama with added dragons and family tragedy, any one of the dozens of heart wrenching characters are enough to drag any reader into rooting for their triumph in Westeros. This reviewer suggests any fans of the show to give the books (despite their intimidating length) a try; you’re sure to get a more in-depth view of your favorite characters, houses, and story lines.

 

Divergent series by Veronica Roth; film series directed by Neil Burger

Though Divergent may seem like yet another Young Adult dystopian series hopping on the Hunger Games bandwagon, I think there’s still a case to be made for Veronica Roth’s rich world building and clever storytelling. Divergent is the first in an addictive, thrilling trilogy that follows its heroine through questions of morality, bravery, and the power of choice in her regimented and divided society. With the ever looming “book or movie?” question in mind, I’m always one to pick the book—though the adaptation got a lot right, you miss out on a lot of what drives the series: the inner voice of the very humanized main character Tris.

 

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon; series on Starz

For fans of historical fiction, Outlander hits a double whammy, following a WWII British combat nurse as she’s pulled back in time by mystical Druid powers to mid-18th century Scotland. It’s not just what one could call a whimsical historical romance, but also a richly described look at that intriguing trope of a complete and total outsider being thrown into a wild society with little context to help them see their way through. Outlander, both in show and book form, is plain fun, full of adventure and drama and yes— silly, dashing, kilt-clad romance.

 

The Giver by Lois Lowry

If you haven’t read this, drop everything and run do not walk to the nearest library because The Giver is one of our generation’s best novels. Published in 1993, Lowry sets the scene by exploring a utopian society where everyone has converted to “same-ness;” emotion is shunned and deflected using futuristic technology that dulls natural human feelings of emotion. Jonas is the protagonist and lives with his community-appointed parents until the  day comes where he receives his community position. Unlike his peers, who receive positions like laborer, birth mother, and teacher, Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of Memory, where he learns the truth behind his seemingly perfect community and all the secrets that lead up to the decision to live the way they do. It is a gripping novel that keeps its readers on edge and brings tears to the eyes at the shocking ending.

 

The Fault in Our Stars By John Green

With the movie hitting the silver screen last June, this heartfelt story has touched countless viewers. Before the film was released however, this touching novel by John Green had already stolen the hearts of readers worldwide. Hazel is a cancer patient with an oxygen tank who meets Gus, who has a prosthetic leg, at a support group for teenagers with cancer. They fall for each other in a whirlwind romance that brings readers into their emotional story until the very end. It’s a fast and easy read that I highly recommend to anyone who loved the movie.

 

St. Mary's County Fair: A Weekend of Local Fun

The sun is setting over the St. Mary’s County fairgrounds but the fairgoers are still steadily pouring in through the gates. It is 7 pm on Friday night and the smell of funnel cake and corn dogs fill the air with that sweet smell of a swiftly fading summer. St. Mary’s County Public schools were closed today to allow its residents to celebrate the fair without fear of missing school. The St. Mary’s County fair is an integral part of what makes this county so great, and is another fantastic reason for going to school down here in the county. Back to the basics of 4H, farming, and good old fashioned fun, the county fair connects 21st century families to this county’s historic farm roots.

One of the best parts of any fair is the food. To satisfy a sweet tooth, many different options are available. Whether it be a plate of crispy funnel cake covered in powdered sugar, an apple dumpling drenched in caramel and whipped cream, or a scrumptious caramel apple, it’s all there for delicious consumption. If it’s dinner food that strikes fairgoer’s fancy, there’s a large array of options to choose from including favorites like corn dogs, shrimp baskets, and chicken dishes, and then the more modern choices such as gyros, barbecued chicken skewers, and kielbasa. For drinks there are the options of soft drinks, freshly squeezed lemonade, ice cold beers and ciders, and of course bottled water.

And, of course, the fair had a multitude of attractions to captivate anyone’s attention. Farmers brought their animals in from all over the county to strut their stuff in the livestock competitions. There were goats and sheep, cows, bunnies, pigs, chickens, ducklings, and other assorted farm animals competing for the prized title of Best In Show. The 4H awards had an entire barn to themselves with many sumptuous-looking fruits and vegetables on display decked out in every kind of placing ribbon. The pig races and Clydesdale show captivated audience members and local business representatives and public figures alike, who came to show their St. Mary’s County pride, and snag some quality advertising at the same time. A “True Love Waits” booth was a fun stop to pick up “Live Pure” temporary tattoos and fill out a true love test checklist in case of any fairgoers who questioned their partner’s undying devotion. The religious undertones were obvious, but the women running the booth were friendly and good spirited.

For the young and young at heart, there was a plethora of sideshow games offering tantalizing prizes and promises of fun for a small fee. Fair favorites like target shooting and that game where a contestant tries to throw a small ring around a glass bottle could be found all over, as well as games to win goldfish and giant inflatable aliens. And the rides! Thrilling and spinning the whole day long, they lit up as the evening rolled in and clouds darkened. The ferris wheel and the drop towers were the sights to see, illuminating the excited faces of riders queuing up below, and towering over the fairground’s skyline with their glittering show of multi-colored lights. The air was full of laughter and the mouth-watering smell of popcorn and candied nuts. Occasionally a passerby would look up as a ‘Vote Republican!’ emblazoned red balloon drifted up and across the sky. The St. Mary’s spirit was present in all corners of the fair; all you had to do was look.