Tatler https://tatler.lakesideschool.org The Student News Site of Lakeside School Wed, 10 Feb 2021 21:45:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6.1 Faculty Couple Spotlight https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1908/life-culture/faculty-couple-spotlight/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1908/life-culture/faculty-couple-spotlight/#respond Wed, 10 Feb 2021 21:45:36 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1908 Many of you probably know Dr. Sjoberg from the counseling center, or from the talks she’s given at class meetings. Some may have worked with her on StudGov or with the Assembly Committee. Many others probably have had Mr. Sjoberg as a math teacher at the middle school, or as a coach on the swim team. Well, as the last name suggests, they’re actually married! I sat down with them recently for a short Zoom interview and learned about exciting moments in their relationship, such as their Lakeside chapel wedding, dead bird proposal, and the time Mr. Sjoberg’s brother tried to set Dr. Sjoberg up on a date: 

 

How long have you guys been together, and how did you guys meet?

 

Dr. Sjoberg: We’ve been together about four and a half years and married for about two a half years.

Mr. Sjoberg: We met when I had a concern about a swimmer that I coached, not at Lakeside but a swimmer that I coached in the summer, and I knew we had the resources at the counseling office. I wanted to reach out to her about some advice as to how to handle the situation. I met with her and Ms. Lutton to talk about this swimmer. We met, and on my way out, I noticed a book on her desk that I’d just read, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and we started chatting about that. 

Dr. Sjoberg: I was really impressed by how thoughtful he was being, and I thought, “who is this guy?” and that’s how we met.

 

What was the proposal/marriage like?

 

Dr. Sjoberg: We actually got married at Lakeside in front of the chapel, and all the chairs were in Red Square. Our reception was in the WCC. We had games out in front of the quad, and it was really fun. 

Mr. Sjoberg: The proposal story is really unique, because I was waiting for a cadaver situation for a transplant. 

Dr. Sjoberg: Uh…

Mr. Sjoberg: I needed a cartilage transplant in my knee.

Dr. Sjoberg: That’s better; sounds less severe.

Mr. Sjoberg: I had a plan to propose, but I had a backup plan to propose if I was going into surgery. We hadn’t quite made it to the date of the actual proposal, so I had to use the backup plan. I recreated the dinner we had on our first date, same place and same bottle of wine, and then we biked down to Golden Gardens, and I asked her when the sunset. I was really nervous. There was a dead bird not that far away from where we were sitting, and I kept complaining because I was so nervous. Then I asked her, and it was clear she was happy, but it took her quite a while to actually say the word yes.

Dr: I mean, I thought it was obvious, but yeah, that’s how it went.

 

What’s it like working together at the same place?

 

Dr. Sjoberg: I think it’s great that we work in two different divisions since we don’t see each other all the time, and we don’t have a lot of overlap at different moments. But we still know who people are, so if there’s something interesting to talk about, we know what happened. 

Mr. Sjoberg: Yeah, it’s kind of the best of both worlds. We work together, but we’re not in the same place all the time. Because of Meredith’s [Dr. Sjoberg’s] job, I don’t actually get to hear much about the students, which can be a little frustrating, so I’m definitely the one talking more about the kids. 

 

Any fun memories or anecdotes while at Lakeside?

 

Dr. Sjoberg: So I was actually friends with Mr. Sjoberg’s brother, Profe Sjoberg, who works at the middle school, even before I met Rob. 

Mr. Sjoberg: A funny story is that my brother tried to set Dr. Sjoberg up on a date with somebody else. So that’s pretty ironic. 

Dr. Sjoberg: This is true, I was talking to Profe Sjoberg about trying to meet someone, and he set me up on a blind date that was not a good match at all. Funnily, his brother was right nearby. 

 

Do you guys ever talk about students you’ve had?

 

Mr. Sjoberg: I have a vivid memory of my first year teaching. I had a student, a current eleventh grader, ask me, “Mr. Sjoberg, do you have any favorites?” I paused and thought about it for a second, and thought “of course I have favorites.” The important thing is that I’m treating everyone fairly. And this kid goes to me and says, “Thank you for being honest.” So a lot of times I’ll have a student like that who says something really meaningful to me, and I’ll go and ask, “Meredith do you know this kid?”. Sometimes she can’t really tell me though. 

 

Dr. Sjoberg: For me, I definitely don’t talk about counseling, but I’ve done assembly committee and student government, so that’s fun. I love those because I feel like I have free-range, I can ask something like, “this student is awesome. Do you know them from the middle school?”. It’s great when he knows what I’m talking about. 

 

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February Fables https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1905/life-culture/february-fables/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1905/life-culture/february-fables/#respond Wed, 10 Feb 2021 21:44:48 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1905 Ah, February. It’s the pearl in the oyster. It is veritably unique among its dozen counterparts, and there are some facts that everyone knows about it. First of all, it is objectively the most challenging month to spell. Secondly, it is also the shortest month of the year. 

As well, the ancient Roman festival of health and fertility, Lupercalia, was in February. This fact is of utmost importance due to a variety of factors. The martyr Saint Valentine was killed on February 14th, and the church detested Lupercalia, considering the pagan celebrations too vulgar, and more importantly, too non-Christian to be allowed. Thus an easy solution emerged: declare a holiday to celebrate Valentine’s martyrdom, and naturally, all the pagan celebrations will stop as the citizens bustle around, celebrating a murder.

Fortunately, humanity often ignores nature’s whims and throes, and the association between mid-February and love continued. If not for the Roman citizens of 270 A.D., where would I get my sugar intake for the month of February? 

While the connection to passion and fertility started out much stronger than that with the nebulous concept of love, the holiday slowly started gaining its modern conception as centuries passed. Valentine’s greetings were spoken and then later written. By the mid 15th century, Valentine’s Day had essentially become what it is today (without the traditional American hyperconsumerism).

However, February this year not only brings Valentine’s Day. It also carries with it the Lunar New Year, celebrated by Asian countries and peoples across the globe and immortalized in dance at Lakeside assemblies. And by broadening our lenses to include a wider variety of cultures and folklores, we can explore love stories from every month of the year.

 

The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl

This first story comes from China, and is well known in variants among various Asian cultures. Zhinu, a weaver girl, falls in love with Niulang, the cowherd. However, their love is forbidden by the girl’s father, and he separates them across the heavenly river. Not only are their physical forms apart from each other, so does the celestial body they represent. Zhinu is the star Vega, and Niulang is the star Altair; these stars lie on opposite sides of the Milky Way, as the heavenly river blocks Zhinu and Niulang. 

However, on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar, magpies, in great flocks, would gather at the river. Keenly aware of these split lovers’ sorrow, they form a bridge with their bodies, allowing Zhinu and Niulang to reunite for one day. 

This date, 7/7 in the lunar calendar, marks the Qixi Festival and is the Asian parallel of our Valentine’s Day.

 

Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus was known to be an amazing musician during his lifetime, but after, he was immortalized in this Greek tragedy of love. He meets Eurydice, a nymph, and falls in love with her. After courting and dating, they decided to marry, absorbed in their love. However, misfortune strikes on their wedding day, and a poisonous snake bites and kills Eurydice. Shaken with grief, Orpheus strikes up a plan to save his beloved. Finding his way to the Underworld, the place where the dead are taken, he barged up to Hades, who rules over this realm. He played out his sorrow in a song that mesmerized the god of death, and Hades granted him his wish. However, the god was not so simple and placed a condition on Orpheus: Eurydice would follow him back to the world of the living, but he could never look back to ensure that she was following. Desperate for any solution, Orpheus agreed and began the trek back without that assurance. He continued unabated by his anxiety almost up to the surface. However, as he glanced up into the shimmering beauty of the world, he recalled the purpose of his endeavor: to save his loved one. Unable to resist, he swung his head backwards, and stopped in shock. Eurydice had been following the whole time, but now she was fated to never return and share the world with Orpheus. Tears streaming down her face, she disappeared back into the land of the dead, and a shaken Orpheus vowed to never love again.

 

By appreciating these stories of love and anguish, resistance, and tenacity, we can appreciate people’s storied lives and flourishing cultures from the past and present.

Edward Poynter’s 1862 depiction of Orpheus and Eurydice, moments before death. (Poynter)
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The Merits of STEM Competitions https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1901/life-culture/the-merits-of-stem-competitions/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1901/life-culture/the-merits-of-stem-competitions/#respond Wed, 10 Feb 2021 21:42:46 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1901 February is known to most students as a month of romance and celebration, with Valentine’s Day and the Lunar New Year coming around the corner. But for some Lakeside students, as pink and red balloons fill the air around them, it’s also a hectic month of preparing for and taking tests. The Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the USA Department of Energy—among many other national organizations that would fill the page if I listed them all—all host various STEM-related competitions, almost all of which occur somewhere between January and March.

Some may wonder why these competitions are worth participating in when Lakeside already has such an excellent honors math and science curriculum. One answer is that competitions and school curricula have different focuses. Taking advanced math and science courses at Lakeside can provide a solid foundation, and students learn core concepts in algebra, geometry, or calculus that are useful in many disciplines. On the other hand, competition math is a blend of many math topics. Some of them are not very emphasized in traditional curricula because they may look like whimsical tricks or neat puzzles rather than “real math.” However, contest math increases the breadth of math comprehension as a whole. Using complex numbers to solve geometry problems or using algebraic techniques to understand number patterns are common tropes in competitions. This not only improves students’ math capabilities but also develops their problem-solving skills.

To get another view on math competitions, I asked Lakeside freshman Alex Z. ’24 for his take. Alex has performed extremely well in national math competitions: he is one of the top twelve math contestants nationwide in the tenth grade and under. Alex says that competitions are like solving sudoku puzzles, and that they are “a fun challenge on which I feel I can see improvement consistently.”

Besides math, computer science is also a popular STEM competition subject. Lakeside’s advanced CS courses focus on programming with considerations to concurrency, platforms, and hardware constraints. Students learn to implement large projects with many parts, and are exposed to topics such as natural language processing or machine learning. On the other hand, most competitive programming is about creative problem-solving and efficient algorithmic design. The challenge of competitions is writing concise and elegant code with the most optimal data structures and the fastest algorithms. Both are useful skills for someone who wishes to pursue a CS career.

Students interested in physics should make sure to check out the national physics exam F=ma (named after Newton’s Second Law), which garners over 6,000 participants every year. According to Lakeside alumni Sanjay R. ’19—who has won numerous national and international accolades for his performance in physics—competitive physics significantly differs from the physics taught in school in two aspects. One, of course, is the breadth of subject matter. “The physics you learn at Lakeside is a solid introduction,” Sanjay says, but “to do well in contests, you also need to know electromagnetism, fluid dynamics, and some other subjects too.” To Sanjay, contests were a way for him to expand his knowledge of physics. The other difference was in the problem-solving strategies required. Physics contest problems are hard not only because they require more knowledge but also because they require ingenuity and creativity. Sanjay is currently studying quantum mechanics at MIT. He believes that the tenacity, perseverance, and problem-solving skills he learned through competitions were the most important things he gained. “Some of the hardest physics problems we’ve been assigned [in college] are often more doable for students who have a competition background,” he says, “because we’ve just had a lot more experience with really difficult problems.”

No article about Lakeside’s STEM competitions is complete without a shout-out to retired Lakeside math teacher Dean Ballard, who single-handedly coaches the physics and math teams. Mr. Ballard sees many competition problems as puzzles. The test isn’t about how quickly one can regurgitate memorized formulas, but rather how good one is at playing around with interesting puzzles and trying to figure out a way to get the answer. He says that the math and physics teams are a great way to enrich one’s learning, and to connect with other students with similar interests.

STEM competitions can be compared to sports. Take the swim team, for example. Most students on the team won’t be a professional swimmer in the future, but they’re still spending hours at swim practice in order to shave fractions of a second off of their times. Why? The ability to swim exactly fifty meters of backstroke half a second faster will never serve some practical application to their lives. Instead, hours of swim practice is a way for them to challenge themselves, and the competitive aspect can be powerful motivation. This goes for STEM competitions, too: we don’t learn more about a subject simply to raise our competition scores; rather, we use competitions as a way to set goals and improve ourselves.

STEM competitions are often misconstrued as esoteric knowledge quizzes with no real practical value. You may doubt the usefulness of what you learned when those specific topics are eventually forgotten, and life goes on. But what you never lose is the ability to think deeply and creatively, or your appreciation for the subject. Competitions really can be for everyone. All they require is a willingness to spend time mulling over interesting puzzles—something I’m sure every Lakeside student possesses.

For Alex Z., stem competitions are a fun challenge on which I feel I can see improvement consistently. (Schuyler)
Lakeside’s STEM program wouldn’t be the same without Mr. Ballard. (Schuyler)
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A Valentine’s Day Narrative: Corona Edition https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1899/life-culture/a-valentines-day-narrative-corona-edition/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1899/life-culture/a-valentines-day-narrative-corona-edition/#respond Wed, 10 Feb 2021 21:38:09 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1899 This is the story of the most romantic day of my life. It all started when I smiled lazily as I awoke to the disheartening rain of Seattle’s winter beating down on my window. The fat tears the sky sheds this time of year normally depressed me right along with everyone else, but today was the exception. The day of love! Nothing could bring my mood down today, because I just knew my moody high school boyfriend was the epitome of romance and thoughtfulness. I could only imagine the endless vases of roses he’d have sent or the chocolates and teddy bears that probably awaited me downstairs.

In a rush of excitement, I hurried to change into my best online-school outfit: a shirt, my pajama pants, and slippers. Because this was a special occasion, I opted for the blue, floral top that made my eyes pop on the zoom screen instead of my normal grey T-shirt, complete with deodorant stains and dog hair. Smiling at myself in the mirror, I sighed happily and then rushed to the door, barely containing my anticipation as I bounded down the stairs in a frenzy to see what romantic notions awaited me. 

“Surprise!” Garrett’s voice shouted, “Happy Valentine’s Day, babe!” 

“Oh my gosh,” I responded enthusiastically, scanning the room for flowers, chocolate–anything! I spun around looking for my big romantic gesture, but as I looked, I couldn’t even find my boyfriend! “Wait. Where are you?” 

“Here, babe.” His voice came again. I scanned the kitchen again, looking for the source. Finally, they landed on my laptop. On yet another zoom screen with Garrett’s smiling face filling the screen. I tried to sound excited as I responded, “Hey!” and pulled up a seat to the kitchen counter. 

“Check your inbox!” Garrett said to me, and I felt myself becoming hopeful once more. I hurriedly clicked on the outlook icon on my desktop and pulled up my inbox. I quickly scrolled through the numerous emails sent by my teachers that I’d probably never look at, titled things like “You’re failing my class we need to meet ASAP,” and “Your essay was terrible,” finally landing upon “Valentine’s surprise.” I felt my heart flutter. Maybe corona-tines day won’t suck after all? I clicked on it and waited, smiling at Garrett, still on my zoom screen, while I waited for it to load. 

The words “Happy Valentine’s day to my most beautiful-est Girlfriend!” suddenly popped up, and some elevator-music-type song started coming from my computer. A creepy bird cartoon with heart eyes was singing it, even doing a digital dance on the screen. “An e-card.” I say, “Yay!” I can’t really explain the levels of disappointment I was feeling at this moment,  but I tried to sound enthusiastic for Garrett’s sake. “Thanks, Babe!” I told him. 

And then we lived happily ever after. You know how Valentine’s Day can make or break a couple? We were definitely made. His most thoughtful e-card and romantic Zoom call really set the tone for our whole relationship, and as such, ours was a true adventure filled with heartfelt moments and love. Not. 

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School Dances https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1895/life-culture/school-dances/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1895/life-culture/school-dances/#respond Wed, 10 Feb 2021 21:37:19 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1895 Usually, by this time in the school year, we can expect to have gone to a dance or two, but not this year. It seems that dances are elements of the distant, COVID-free past for now. That, sadly, means many freshmen do not know what the dances even are. In retrospect, that might be for the best, as dancing over Zoom is bound to be strange to say the least. But just what are these mysterious dances we’ve heard so much about? 

It seems that there are many. In a regular year, we’d have Winter Ball in the first week of December and Spring Fling at the start of March. There would be senior prom in May and various dances hosted by clubs like GLOW scattered throughout. Winter Ball and Spring Fling are the more formal dances while club dances are generally less so. Both these formal dances and club dances are often fundraisers. “Winter Ball is held at Lakeside and is organized by the juniors as one of their fundraisers for their senior prom, and Spring Fling is at an off-campus location and is organized by the seniors as their second fundraiser for their prom,” says Maya D ’22. “Prom is then a mix of off-campus (a scavenger hunt across Seattle happened for the seniors my freshman year) and on-campus (they have a red carpet in Red Square and a more traditional dance), but what exactly they do depends on their budget (Winter Ball plus Spring Fling revenue) and what they can plan.”

Winter Ball and Spring Fling also have themes. This means that decorations, too, are different from year to year. “Last Winter Ball it was Area 51, and past dances have been Masquerade Ball or Winter Wonderland themed,” says William M ’21. Prom also changes with the senior class, depending on how they plan it, though a few factors like the red carpet stay the same. 

As for what happens in the dances, it depends. “Some people like to do big asks and throw before and after parties, while other people just go to the dance,” says Maya D ’22. “I think the most memorable part for a lot of people isn’t necessarily the dance itself but who you go with and maybe what you do beforehand (which can vary wildly depending on what people like to do). I would also say that asking someone is pretty memorable and was one of the best parts of the whole experience for me.” Each dance has a DJ, with formal dances generally hiring them from companies. “Generally, people begin to show up a few minutes to an hour after the start of the dance and leave early,” says Evan S ’21. “All the students are packed into a room with loud music, I imagine all having a fun time.”

For many, dances are fun, which makes the lack of them somewhat disappointing. But as we’re in hybrid now, we can’t help but wonder whether or not we’ll have a dance to look forward to in the coming months. From what I’ve learned about dances, there certainly seems much to hope for!

William and Evan ’21’s Winter Ball group. (Harnett)
Maya ’22’s Winter Ball group last year. (Johnson)
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What Your Taylor Swift Crush Says About You https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1892/life-culture/what-your-taylor-swift-crush-says-about-you/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1892/life-culture/what-your-taylor-swift-crush-says-about-you/#respond Wed, 10 Feb 2021 17:54:08 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1892
  • Country Taylor – “Taylor Swift,” “Fearless”
  • Country T-Swizzle is the acoustic guitar version of her that we all know and love. But not like that. If your Tay-Tay crush is this Taylor, you’re a really sweet person who likes Country Taylor for her innocence and vulnerability, or you are a child predator. Worse, you might be a child predator who regularly goes fishing.

    • 2012 Indie Taylor – “Red”

    This Taylor era seems like her confused phase. Is she pop or country? Is she indie, boho, girly? I can’t tell. If you like this version of Taylor, you’re probably just as confused. Maybe you are someone stuck between two versions of themselves like Taylor was between music genres, or you are a mix of personalities and interests—you don’t really have a category. You’re the type of person no one can put a label on. Are you a jock, a nerd? I couldn’t say. The only thing anyone really knows about you is that they knew you were trouble when you walked in. 

    • Cheerleader Taylor – “1989”

    From the bleachers to cheer captain, 1989 Taylor is the epitome of 2014 pop, and her polaroid album cover is definitely of its time. This Taylor is finally the cheerleader she refers to in her country days, and if you love her, you’re a people person! Your dream place to live is probably the Big Apple, and you might not be too hot, ‘n and instead cold on Katy Perry. You love people with spunk and those who can spew subtle insults because you’re the same way. But the people you go for? You could only get them in your wildest dreams. 

    • Edgy Taylor – “Reputation”

    The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now… why? Because she’s busy ignoring you. After an Instagram blackout and disappearance from the media’s eyes in 2017, T-Swizzle came back in full swing with “Reputation.” If you crush on edgy Taylor, you’re the type of person who likes someone with confidence and who can speak up for themselves, and bleached-hair-Taylor is the definition of this. Taylor from “Reputation” is perhaps the coolest Taylor, but she’s also most likely to call you a snake and tell you exactly what she doesn’t like about you. I know you’re bold, so be wary, because if you’re not endgame? You can’t blame her—she said so in a song. 

    • Pastel Taylor – “Lover”

    If your celebrity crush is Pastel Taylor, you definitely wore pink light-up Skechers to school when you were 6, and your crush on Taylor’s “Lover” phase is representative of your endearing and juvenile personality. You probably miss your childhood, but aren’t you glad you’re older now because “spelling is fun?” Other than that, you love everybody! You’re probably one of the most welcoming people your friends know—but don’t go overboard. Sometimes, you need to calm down. 

    • Cottage-core Taylor – “Folklore,” “Evermore”

    Cottage-core-y Taylor lovers, here’s some news for you: you’re an overwhelmed person who used to thrive in work settings until “Folklore” (or I guess quarantine…) hit, and ever since, you fill your days by braiding your hair into buns and probably having dance parties by yourself in your room. But that’s okay. That is you trying. If not, you’re definitely someone who likes nature and being outdoors—or the idea of the outdoors—which is why this Taylor’s woodsy vibes appeal to you.

    Taylor’s album line-up. (People)
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    Powerfully and Playfully Portraying Puberty in “Big Mouth” https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1887/arts/powerfully-and-playfully-portraying-puberty-in-big-mouth/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1887/arts/powerfully-and-playfully-portraying-puberty-in-big-mouth/#respond Tue, 09 Feb 2021 17:43:07 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1887 In the growing genre of edgy comedic animated series, sweetness is not the first word that comes to mind. While often clever and intelligent in their own ways, shows like “Rick and Morty,” “South Park,” and “Family Guy,” don’t usually send the most wholesome or kind messages and sometimes feel mean-spirited. Edgy humor often comes at the expense of compassion towards the characters and an episode of “Rick and Morty” often leaves me feeling entertained, but not uplifted.
    Walking the line between rauchiness and sensitivity is “Big Mouth,” a hilarious animated series tackling puberty with surprising nuance, compassion, and creativity. The show, loosely based on the experiences of creators Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg, follows middle schoolers Nick and Andrew and their group of friends navigating puberty and all the confusion, awkwardness, and self-doubt that comes with it. The kids are influenced and advised by their own hormone monsters, creatures representing every preteen’s hormonal impulses who guide and direct the kids’ decisions, often in questionable ways. While hormone monsters could’ve easily been one-dimensional, flat characters, the monsters instead take on eccentric personalities, backstories, motivations, and lives of their own, which is one of the many delights of the show. The monsters, who can’t be seen by adults, cultivate intimate and endearing relationships with their preteens, almost like Hobbes is to Calvin in “Calvin and Hobbes,” only if Hobbes was far more vulgar and talked much more about sex.
    The middle schoolers also become acquainted with other manifestations of pubescent influences, such as Tito the anxiety mosquito, the depression cat, and the shame wizard, who work together to isolate and confuse the kids as they try to make sense of relationships, their sexuality, and who they want to be as adults. By making these emotions and impulses distinct characters, “Big Mouth” humanizes each of the middle schoolers; no one is ever simply gross or mean or lame or dumb, but instead a complex, confused individual trying to understand their rapidly changing body and life.
    Season four focuses on the characters’ anxiety and their fears of loneliness, concluding in a surreal battle between gratitude and anxiety inside Nick’s subconsciousness represented by a massive toad beating up a mosquito. Creative and hilarious touches like these elevate “Big Mouth” from a goofy cartoon about gross preteens to one of the more complex and unique shows that I’ve seen. Through the show’s endless creativity, messages that could come off as preachy or contrived in a cartoon, like sexuality, body inclusivity, and hyper-masculinity, are instead some of the most entertaining parts of the series. Whether it’s through a musical number sang by a massive tampon about how having one’s period is nothing to be ashamed of or a sex-ed-themed Star Trek spinoff, “Big Mouth” has a remarkable ability to make uncomfortable subjects more accessible and more entertaining, albeit in an often graphic manner, as it doesn’t shy away from any of the gross intricacies of puberty.
    However, as is often the case when making a comedy show about sensitive topics, “Big Mouth” has been criticized for insensitivity and inaccuracy. In an episode where a new student comes out as pansexual to her classmates, the new student creates a metaphor to describe pansexuality: “It’s, like, some of you borings like tacos, and some of you like burritos. And if you’re bisexual, you like tacos and burritos… But I’m saying I like tacos and burritos, and I could be into a taco that was born a burrito, sure, ’kay, or a burrito that is transitioning into a taco.” While well intentioned, this description of pansexuality was offensive to the non-binary and transgender community by implying that gender was binary and that a transgender man or woman isn’t actually a man or a woman.
    Instead of responding by bashing political correctness or oversensitivity—like many other comedians have done when criticized for being offensive—creator Andrew Goldberg offered a sincere and thoughtful apology, in which he reflected on what the show had done wrong and thanked the critics for “opening [the writers’] eyes.” While the show is filled with its share of edgy, graphic, and explicit jokes, the jokes rarely are insensitive or cruel, never breaching the show’s central value: inclusivity. With an exceedingly diverse cast of characters, “Big Mouth” makes an effort to portray puberty for anyone, whether they’re black, white, biracial, gay, straight, or transgender. In “Big Mouth,” edgy jokes aren’t simply to test the boundaries; rather, they make the characters more sympathetic and relatable. No matter who we are, “Big Mouth” knows that everyone has their inner hormone monster.

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    Love is Dead: What Happened to the Rom-Com? https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1880/arts/love-is-dead-what-happened-to-the-rom-com/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1880/arts/love-is-dead-what-happened-to-the-rom-com/#respond Tue, 09 Feb 2021 17:40:14 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1880

    I, Estelle, take you, Lakesider, to be my rom-com loving partner, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward. And get ready, for the worst has already come—the romantic comedy is dead.

     

    Plastered all over movie theatres in the 1990s and the 2000s, the rom-com was highly successful commercially and critically. Movies starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Grant thrived in box office ticket sales, and quotes from iconic romances were embedded into daily lingo. The stories of two (usually white and straight) leads who met in elevators, laundromats, or on the street were ubiquitous at the turn of the century. Movies of the saccharine sweet genre were usually formed from the same, overused archetype—the couple meets (perhaps by a bet or after falling into a coma), they face an obstacle (like a bet… or a coma), and reunite with a big ol’ smooch (sometimes after a confession on an airplane)—but maybe that is why the rom-com is so beloved. Its unattainable idea of love and life makes it perfect for viewers in a rut and with some Molly Moon’s on hand.

     

    While the repetitive nature of the typical love story came with a feeling of familiarity, it also presented challenges in originality. Screenwriters scrambled to sell comedies that relied too heavily on Anna Faris and love heptagons. The almost always white love interests fell short in a world striving for diversity, and the lack of same-sex couples was unacceptable. Love was not being captured in the many ways it occurs. Instead, love was only seen from a straight white writer’s point of view, possibly a man hunched over in an ironic tee shirt listening to the Smiths. The overall quality of rom-coms also shot down with the rise of mid-budget films—and to make matters worse, audiences were just not interested anymore. Apparently, they are now more intrigued by superhero movies—another genre dominated by white men—except they fly now? And that’s cool? Additionally, with marriage rates dropping among young adults, the rom-com’s vague marriage plot simply failed to highlight the priorities of the new generation.

     

    But the rom-com isn’t entirely gone. The lighthearted love that used to live in films now exists more commonly in television series like “Jane the Virgin” or “Love, Victor”. With a format that allows for more diversity and time, TV shows have become the new hub for romantic comedies. A viewer is able to see a variety of more realistic relationships, with all the highs and lows and the make-outs and make-ups. Romantic comedies surely share many flaws. However, in newer spaces and perspectives, I am hopeful that we can keep the love alive.

    Because, in the end, rom-coms are patient, rom coms are kind. Rom-coms do not envy, they do not boast (except about when “Annie Hall” won four Oscars—rom-coms like to brag about that sometimes)… Rom-coms always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. Rom-coms never fail (except in ticket sales nowadays, but you get the point). So this Valentine’s, get your favorite pint of ice cream and put on “Notting Hill,” because rom-coms are really just a genre standing in front of an audience asking them to love her.

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    “Soul”: A Return to Form https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1877/showcase/soul-a-return-to-form/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1877/showcase/soul-a-return-to-form/#respond Tue, 09 Feb 2021 17:38:56 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1877 Sound the bells! Dispel your fears! For Pixar has gifted upon us a genuinely good movie!

    You all read the title, and I feel like this has to be restated every few years, but Pixar has granted us yet another masterpiece. Pixar returns to form with their first near-universally loved, non-sequel in three years, the longest hiatus since the time between “Up” and “Inside Out”. Sure, “Onward” was good, but it was more of an “eh, it’s pretty good.” “Soul” is an almost-universal “that was great!” If, of course, you can determine what the movie actually means.

    At first I was a tiny bit disappointed; the opening of this movie seemed to promise a more by-the-life, run of the mill movie. Pixar is known for their mystical circumstances and “What if?”s, but occasionally they show prowess in human, personal stories as well. Movies like “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” show that they can just as easily focus on a comparatively average story and deliver a touching piece. I was hoping “Soul” would be like that, leaning into the jazz scene. I hoped for the next “Ratatouille.” It wasn’t, but all the same, this movie got me thinking and extremely invested in the story

    “Soul” follows jazz musician turned middle school band teacher Joe Gardner, who dreams of a career in jazz in New York City. Despite the objections of his mother, he goes to audition for an opening in Dorothea Williams’ legendary jazz band. Impressed by his piano playing, she decides to accept Joe for a gig later that night, which he gladly accepts (after all, jazz is his “purpose” in life). On the way back to his apartment, on a call with a friend, he falls down a manhole and dies. Now in the soul world, the Great Before, he decides to help a yet-to-be-born soul, 22, discover her spark in life so that her Earth Pass is filled out and he may return to Earth.

    Artistically, I enjoyed the movie. The various caretakers, Jerry, Terry, and the bunch, are super fun. Their dialogue is fun, the voices more fun, and the designs super-cool. I especially love the wire-sculpture style. I will say though, it is weird to see what is pretty much a picture-perfect representation of New York City and then these people with shiny eggplant heads. I don’t dislike it, but it is a bit jarring. I will say they get the cosmopolitan-ness of New York right, though. I didn’t realize until after the movie how accurate it was —the hustle and bustle, the rumble of the subways, vents of air in the streets, gum on the sidewalks—all of these details felt so genuine, true things they transplanted from life to screen in a seamless manner. New York has a certain smell to it, and I swear I could smell the city through the screen.

    In fact, my one real gripe with the movie is, ironically, the music. The jazz and soul are all great, they’re all bangers, but almost all of the music that isn’t diegetic (when the music exists within the fiction and the characters can hear it) is largely forgettable. A few sounds in general maybe, but nothing like (and I hate to make comparisons) the motifs in “Coco” and “Inside Out.”

    Similar to “Coco” and “Inside Out,” in fact, “Soul” analyzes an abstract concept and portrays it in an artistic fashion. “Soul” leans less into emotion to convey the story and concept, unlike how “Coco” and “Inside Out” did. I still enjoyed it almost as much, but that’s only because of my personal experiences—with music, living in New York, uncertainty about life path/goal, etc.—that made this movie relatable. Someone with other experiences would still like the movie, but probably less so. By the end you had to think about it, since the ending and message were vague. The fact that the ending was vague enough that you had to think and fill it in made some people dislike it, but honestly if you’re going into a non-”Cars” Pixar movie, I have this to ask: why would you not pay attention to the movie? I personally thought it was great, and the question everyone’s asking (what did Joe do? What happened to him?) doesn’t matter; it’s the point of the movie that he is going to live his life. I will concede, this movie won’t be great for kids—most of the topics covered are things people don’t experience until they’re in or out of college, and there is relatively little humor. That being said, “The Incredibles” was light on humor

    There’s one part of “Soul” that reveals its status as an excellent Pixar movie. Every Pixar movie has similarities to the stereotypical hero’s journey: near the end, the hero undergoes a revelation, finally changes, then goes on to the final conflict. “Inside Out”: Joy realizes Riley can’t be happy all of the time, then goes on to escape the pit and find Sadness. “Coco”: Miguel realizes he’s related to Hector, and that sometimes family is the most important, goes on to defeat Ernesto de la Cruz and save Hector by playing for Coco. “Soul”’s “revelation” is Joe realizing that “purpose” and “spark” aren’t the same. When Joe puts down 22’s items and quietly taps at his piano, with nothing but the notes being played, the subtle lighting, and his face on-screen: it’s beautiful, sublime, and the best part of the film. This moment shows the supremacy of Pixar as a storytelling power. The rest of it ain’t bad, but it just doesn’t measure up to this short moment. The messages I could glean from this hit close to home, as I’m sure pretty much any future/current college-goer will. What are your passions? Your spark? Your purpose? Seems redundant, right? Sometimes, though, they aren’t mutually exclusive.

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    Shakespearean Rom-Coms https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1874/arts/shakespearean-rom-coms/ https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/1874/arts/shakespearean-rom-coms/#respond Tue, 09 Feb 2021 17:38:08 +0000 https://tatler.lakesideschool.org/?p=1874 The Bard is known as the founder of rom-coms, but I must admit that his humor is many times outdated and taketh a lot of brain power. Many of Shakespeare’s plays consisted of lovers and their quarrels, and his founding of the romantic comedy is credited in many of today’s teenage rom-coms. Here are three of the most Shakespearean rom-coms—while they’re not all critically acclaimed or objectively astounding, they’re perfect for a night in of silly puppy love.

     

    “10 Things I Hate About You”

    “10 Things I Hate About You” is perhaps one of the most beloved romantic comedies, and its premise is based around Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” The story starts with Kat Stratford, said “shrew”, and her little sister Bianca. Like in Shakespeare’s original, main character Kat is uninterested in love and refuses to date one of the slimeballs that attends her high school in Seattle. Because of this, her sister is also barred from dating by their strict and concerned father. With those guidelines, a bet begins: Kat must start dating for Bianca to go out with the many people who want to be with her, and it’s just a matter of who can set Kat up. The emotional toil of starting a romantic comedy with a bet is a classic, and I can only love this film more as I highly resonate with Kat—after all, she is a shrew from Seattle.

     

    “She’s the Man”

    “She’s the Man,” by Andy Fickman, is a classic 2000s romantic comedy, and its basic plot is very similar to the Bard’s “Twelfth Night.” Well, similar if “Twelfth Night” had cell phones, flawed-but-2006-feminism, and Channing Tatum. Viola Johnson, played by Amanda Bynes, decides to impersonate her brother at his boarding school when she is not allowed to join the boys’ soccer team after the girls’ team is cut and soon falls in love with her roommate (who thinks she’s a man) while her roommate’s crush falls in love with her (dressed as a man)—and this isn’t all the falling in love that happens. “She’s the Man” is incredibly confusing in terms of who likes whom, but the misunderstandings of the film make it all the more Shakespearean!

     

    “Get Over It”

    “Get Over It,” adapted from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” includes not only a high school production of the Shakespeare play the movie is based on, but also Sisqo, the singer of “Thong Song,” as one of the main characters. “Get Over It” once again shows a Shakespeare story about love and misunderstandings in a high school setting—except this time, director Tommy O’Haver shows main character Berke Landers imagining his life as a “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Berke pictures himself to be Lysander and his conflicting love interests as Hermia and Helena consistently throughout the movie. Every character in this romantic comedy is falling in love with the “wrong” people, just like the characters in its predecessor, but this version has Carmen Electra in the credits. “Get Over It” is a perfect mix of Shakespeare and “High School Musical,” and you don’t want to miss Kirsten Dunst’s singing and Coolio’s short mid-interview cameo.

     

    Perhaps Shakespeare would find each of these movies ridiculous; on the other hand, he did create a character with a donkey head that hangs out with fairies in the woods. Shakespeare is involved in every part of our lives, and his influence is seen particularly in today’s movies. In fact, Shakespeare is the basis for many more romance films, such as “O” and “My Own Private Idaho,” but this month, I focused strictly on lighthearted comedies made with the intent for laughter, just as Shakespeare did with many of his own plays. Sorryeth!

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