NCAA March Sadness 2020 by Isaiah Gundani

One of my favorite times of the year is NCAA basketball “March Madness”. The tournament this year has of course been cancelled (and rightfully so). March Madness is not only a tournament as it engulfs the news and popular culture for a month while millions of people compete to see who can fill out the best March Madness bracket. I take pride in my bracket-making skills and last year, with my bracket finishing in the 98th percentile on ESPN, was one of my best runs. Even more fun than making a bracket is watching the actual games. Many fans, including myself, love the surprising aspect of the tournament as you never know which teams will fall. Although the tournament is set up for the best teams to play the worst teams in the first few rounds, anyone can lose. This was proven is 2018 when Virginia (the number 1 overall seed in the tournament) lost to UMBC, the 16th seed. This upset sent the basketball world into a frenzy as it was the first time a 16th seed upset a 1 seed. Not to mention, it also busted millions of people’s brackets.

With no March Madness this year, basketball deprived fans like myself have found ways to cope. Bleacher Report did a simulated March Madness tournament using team’s efficiency as well as random number generator to add upsets to the tournament. I was shocked to see that Ohio State was the winner of the simulated tournament. I can’t complain though, since OSU is my favorite college team. In addition to following simulated tournaments, I have also resorted to YouTube and ESPN to watch games from past tournaments.

Although I greatly miss March Madness, it has made me realize how much we as humans take things for granted. I will make sure not to make this mistake in the future. For now though, I will social distance and continue to watch my March Madness highlights.


RuPaul’s Drag Race by Victoria Helmick

With everyone being on lockdown during these adjusting times I, of course, have stumbled upon many new series to watch while spending my leisure time. One show, in particular, that has caught my eye is nothing other than RuPaul’s Drag Race. Hosted by one of America’s most famous drag queens, RuPaul, 12 rising drag queens from across the country compete against each other in hopes of being the next “Drag Race Superstar!” 

The show itself centers on the 12 competitors who prepare for new challenges every week including fashion runways and fun musical entertainment. These challenges test the queens on their well-rounded talent. For example, some challenges are acting challenges, and the runway challenges have themes that each queen is expected to follow, but they can still think outside of the box; which can be risky. Each week one queen is eliminated after a lip sync battle between the two queens who under performed that week. The lip sync battles make the show, for they are practically the most energizing and nail-biting performances on television. The battles even bring to life RuPaul’s famous quotes.

Not only does Drag Race provide viewers with comedic relief on Friday nights, but the show also raises awareness for support to the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout the 11 seasons already aired, many of the competitors have praised RuPaul for how much he has done for the community and how they themselves have found a family through Drag Race. The show puts into perspective how amazing these Drag Race queens are in and out of drag, and focuses on how many had struggled through their childhoods and were not accepted by their families. 

Filled with guest judges from all corners of pop culture, RuPaul knows how to put on a show for his audience. If you ever feel the need for a good laugh, especially now, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a perfect show to escape from reality. And finally, as RuPaul always tells his queens before a challenge, “Gentlemen start your engines, and may the best woman win!”

The Case for Anime, and Other Things People Don’t Like By Aaliyah Williams

My earliest memory of anime was when I was maybe eight or nine years old hanging out with my cousin in his bedroom. Naruto was playing on his TV, and I remember having never heard of the show. Because he’s older than me and it was his room, he got to pick the show. The fight scenes filled with fog, masked people and ninja stars scared the literal life out of me. Since then, I believed that anime as a whole was a weird creepy genre watched by weird creepy people. It didn’t help that all the people in school that I disliked the most also ran leaning forward with arms flailing behind them, like the way characters in Naruto run.

One day, I was scrolling through Netflix trying to find a show to watch and I came across every season of Naruto. Of course, I had to watch it (as a joke) and see if it was as terrifying as I remembered it to be. The goal was to watch it until I found the one episode that made me scared of masked people to this day. But what I found instead was a heartfelt and well-written (mostly) show about a kid trying to beat the odds and be accepted for who he was. Of course the show is flawed (because the writer obviously spent about half as long developing complex and interesting female characters and made them constantly fight over boys, so half the characters were useless), but when every character was being utilized to their full ability, the plot thickened and things got really interesting, I forgot I was watching a show in Japanese. I was just reading the subtitles and watching and liking the show for what it was.

Since then I’ve been unashamed about the fact that I really like anime of all genres. People love to be disgusted with it, but the disgust always seems hollow to me. They never seem to actually dislike anime, but more the idea of it and the culture around it. I’ve never heard anyone tell me a reason they don’t like it besides, “the people that watch it are weird so it itself must also be weird”or “from what I’ve heard, it just seems corny.” I find that to be really fascinating.

I’ve found the same phenomenon to be present with a whole lot of things. Who actually cares whether someone pours the milk before the cereal? Both ways get you cereal in milk. Who really gives a crap whether someone has an Android phone versus an iPhone? Both get your information stolen and sold to make a quick buck off ads. And I’ve only heard a couple real reasons that IB is bad. Most of the time I just run into the usual, “it costs extra!” As if everything on this earth doesn’t cost money in some way, shape or form. We don’t live in a capitalist country that charges mothers money to hold their own babies skin to skin when they’re first born in hospitals, for crying out loud. Socialism? No one in America knows why they’re not supposed to like it. They just hear the word “socialism” associated with “evil China” and “evil Russians” and know it must be bad. There are so many things that people just decide are bad because someone else told them to. I exhibited this same behavior myself with being against sororities, but I realized my feelings of disdain for them came from movies with mean sorority girls that charge you extra money to call you fat and make you feel bad about yourself. I had to ask myself, “Where are your critical thinking skills?!”

I think everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and we as a human collective should be able to like what we like without being judged (as long as what you like isn’t harming someone else). But I think that we have a real mob-mentality when it comes to a whole lot of things. No one even knows why they don’t like things anymore. They just know they don’t like them. So, when someone brings up something that you “don’t like”, try it and really examine where your feelings are coming from. Did you form your own opinion? Are you being judgmental? Or are you just a sheep? Baa.

Senior Year is Cancelled? by Tomasina DeLong

As the pandemic of COVID-19 continues to spread, people are expressing their views about it on social media. This is the first time that I, personally, feel as though I have been affected by a crisis such as this. Often we read about wars and illnesses while feeling the security of privilege because we are fairly certain that it will not force us to make any drastic changes. This is where COVID-19 is different; it is closing our schools, canceling our concerts, and changing how we operate on a daily basis. I am conflicted in my feelings regarding the mandated closures. On one hand, I am a senior in high school and this is supposed to be the most carefree time of my life, but on the other hand, I am part of the at-risk populations so frequently referenced in media coverage. I have been working with a group of my peers on a project to bring a TEDx to Shaker Heights High School once again, a project that has been in progress since the fall of my junior year, a project which has recently been canceled until further notice. I can speak for the group when expressing great sadness upon hearing that the event had been canceled; however, at the same time, we had discussed this possibility during our meeting that day (several hours prior to this announcement) because we understand the district’s job in preventing community spread. These event cancelations are intended to limit large group gatherings and at the time the only people believed to be affected were the elderly and those with preexisting conditions or compromised immune systems and I am thankful that community officials are being mindful.–Pandemic - Typewriter image

Per recommendations from my doctors, I am only leaving my house for essential activities which almost led me to not vote in this year’s primary election due to health concerns. This means that during this 3 week “extended spring break” I am not spending time with my friends or going on my planned college visits, so it doesn’t feel like spring break to me. I would not be surprised if our prom were to be canceled, and the senior project I was planning on participating in has already been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. People joke about how the class of 2020 will graduate via Google Hangouts — and this is funny — but this possibility seems more and more real as the pandemic continues. Imagine that: no graduation? I mean, do people truly enjoy sitting in a cramped auditorium with potentially no air conditioning waiting 4 hours to walk across a stage for 45 seconds…I can’t be sure, but I feel like this is something I want to experience, no matter how dreadful it may be. 

I am frustrated, not at any person or organization because I understand they are simply taking necessary precautions for the safety of the public. I feel robbed of a traditional senior year filled with spring break trips, college visits, proms, musicals, and spontaneous gatherings. That being said, this is unprecedented and uncharted territory so in the spirit of positivity I need to remember that my senior year is unique and eventful in its own way. Additionally, the school and restaurant closures pose financial problems for people who cannot afford childcare or have been laid off due to corporations limiting hours. Long story short: everyone is being affected by COVID-19 and all we can do is partake in social distancing and hope that this blows over as soon as possible because it is a burden on the entire world…just remember you are not alone.