Hello and welcome back! I hope everyone had a nice summer break and feels ready to take on all that this next semester has in store. Over the summer, I enjoyed my down time but could not have felt more ready for classes to start back up. If you do not know me personally, I am the type of person who likes the structure classes give me.
What a hot summer we had. The cold weather really snuck up on us. Down here in southern Maine, the leaves have just started to turn within the last few weeks. Alas, I am still sporting my Birkenstocks.
As always, I hope that everyone is doing well and I look forward to writing to you again soon!
“I got spanked my whole life and turned out fine.” How many times have you heard (or maybe said) that? It seems like an easy solution–children misbehave, good parents smack their bottoms, they stop. They learn they shouldn’t do that. Simple, right?
Not exactly. It seems more and more parents are refusing to correct their children, and that can be hard to watch. But are they wrong? Why does seeing a child cry or scream upset people so much?
“People whose parents used to hit them can feel distressed in that situation. It is hard for them to see a child throwing a tantrum,” child psychologist Anneliese Wildermann said. “They feel a strong impulse to yell or hit the child. They don’t understand that’s a normal part of a child’s development and find it unbearable to see someone cry or scream. If the parent doesn’t punish the child in public, they can feel resentful,” she said. Unfortunately, this kind of reaction is a typical sign of trauma. “They need to convince themselves that the treatment they received as children was good for them. Otherwise, that would mean their parents hurt them for nothing,” Wildermann said.
While plenty of people say they “turned out fine,” many struggle with issues such as depression, sleep disorders and alcohol or drug abuse. It is not uncommon for childhood trauma to also cause trust issues, panic attacks, social anxiety or other underlying conditions.
On January 1, 1967, New York Times headlines buzzed with coverage of a deadly war raging thousands of miles away in Vietnam. By February, journalists hustled to be the first to break news of the quickly deepening tensions surrounding the Vietnam War: “2,000 in Capital Protest War: Clergy and Laymen March in Front of White House.”
Across the country, civilians everywhere were beginning to see the true effects the war was having. Rod MacKay was not oblivious to what was happening around him. “The Vietnam War was starting to become more noticeable, and a lot of stuff was going on,” he said. A young man from small-town life in Maine, Rod was a bright 18-year-old. His family had moved several years earlier to southern California. “Several friends and I had been talking about it one day,” he said. “We knew a lot of people had been drafted and we just had a few drinks one night and decided we were all going to enlist. So, that’s what we did.”
Rod knew the next step was going to be a tough one: telling his family. “First I had to decide to go home and tell my folks I had enlisted, because they had no clue. Which was…,” he laughed. “That was an experience. My mother was very upset. My father looked at me and he was a bit upset, too.” Both of Rod’s parents had served in World War II. “My mother, the lieutenant nurse, and my father the sergeant,” he said. “So, they knew what could possibly happen.”
Rod’s parents were not the only ones horrified that he had enlisted. His younger sister, Shari, shared in their fear. “It broke my heart because I had heard dad’s stories,” she said. “And everything in the news that was going on at the time—the idea that he would be over there putting himself in such danger—and I know that because of the position that he had. He would be in frontlines and stuff like that, clearing areas in the jungle. Doing all these things that he did, it just terrified me.” Though scared for her brother, Shari knew there was no stopping him. “I knew my brother,” she said. “I knew he wasn’t just there to be some idiot. He was doing what he thought was right for his country.”
Indoor summer concerts are back. It seems like every day an artist announces a new tour. Harry Styles recently announced the continuation of the U.S. leg of his world tour, rescheduled from last year due to Covid-19. So far, he has announced only the U.S. portion of the tour though. In most of the rest of the world, full capacity concerts are not a thing again yet.
Across the country, everyone from Lady Gaga to Maroon 5 to Bruno Mars is booking multi-city tours. According to data platform PredictHQ, ticket sales are booming. The predicted revenue for June is $1.6 billion. People are excited to attend events again, and bands are excited to perform.
At the same time, Covid cases are steadily creeping back up in every state, mostly because of the Delta variant. Most states have no mask mandates in place and Covid protocols vary from venue to venue. During a recent White House briefing, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that this is becoming a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
In Las Vegas, there have been huge crowds since shows have returned and the mask mandate has dropped. Las Vegas has seen its highest rate of new Covid cases since February. The Southern Nevada Health District advised that everyone wear masks again. But it has no authority to enforce it.
Phyliss Jenkins attended the first full-capacity event at the
MGM Grand Garden Arena since before the lockdown. She saw two shows that weekend, Dave Chappelle and Bruno Mars. She says that at one show they did offer masks, but it was more of a swag gift. At the other, they did not. In both crowds, few people wore masks at any time. But still, she’s excited. “I would say personally, on a scale of 1-10, I’m about a 12. Not only personally, having not been anywhere for over a year, but to be going to two concerts. That even in a normal year would be exciting. So, I’m really, really, excited,” she said. But she is also worried about coronavirus. “I am still concerned about it…throughout both of the shows and going through the casinos, because you don’t have to wear masks. But I still had my mask on throughout both shows.”
“Scary” is how Pheobe Horibe used to describe her first night living out of a van. Sleeping in a Cabela’s parking lot was unfamiliar territory. She didn’t sleep very well that first night. Over the last few months, Pheobe has since become comfortable parking on the street or in parking lots. She prefers to park in cities or “urban camp” over finding spots in nature. “I find a sense of safety in numbers when parking with other RVs in, say, a Walmart parking lot.”
Recently there was a big stigma around living full time in a vehicle. Many associated it with poverty or people too strange to be in normal society. With social media, van life has taken on a new life. People of all ages are converting old cargo vans or buses into tiny homes on wheels. Many people document building their homes through blogs and share their travels once they hit the road. That was how Pheobe first found out about the lifestyle. “I saw it on my Instagram feed one day back in like January of this year. I just thought ‘That. I want do that.’”
After hours of research, she bought a RAM Promaster and set to work. But it wasn’t easy. Without a carpentry or mechanical background, Pheobe had to teach herself how to make her dream a reality. A friend let her park in their driveway and another lent her a saw. The only help with the actual build she had was having a friend hold up the wooden planks that cover her ceiling while she nailed them in. It wasn’t perfect, but it was home. The sense of accomplishment was empowering.
Netflix will begin offering video games on its platform next year. It’s a move to stay one step ahead of its television streaming competitors. Netflix hopes it’s a way to gain new customers. The saturated streaming market saw Netflix lose 430,000 subscribers in the second quarter of this year.
They say the games will be included with the subscription. But there is no guarantee that this will not lead to an eventual subscription hike. Gaming is a tough space to get a foothold in. Others have tried and had mixed reviews. Both Amazon and Google have offered cloud-based video games on their platforms with limited success. Apple already has Apple Arcade and now Apple TV Plus. Netflix will have a steep hill to climb.
Mike Verdu will oversee the project as vice president of game development. He has a long history as an executive and a video game developer, dating back to the ‘90s. He joins Netflix from Facebook and Electronic Arts. Verdu has also worked for TapZen, Zynga and Kabam.
This is not an unexpected move for Netflix. Nor is this their
first venture into the video game space. They’ve previously licensed the rights to some of their shows for video games and had an interactive game TV show as well. According to a report in PricewaterhouseCoopers, during the pandemic, gaming grew faster than many other forms of media and entertainment. But that’s no guarantee that this will be successful.
At a recent meeting, Netflix executives said they would initially focus on mobile devices. They may expand to console games like Xbox and PlayStation in the future. But will gamers be interested in yet another platform offering games?
Jared Pie is a college student who belongs to a large group of online gamers. He spends hours a day on his PlayStation. He’s not sure yet what to make of the idea of Netflix joining the gaming arena. “If it’s just for mobile devices, then it won’t affect me much. If they struck a deal with the consoles, would I pay for it? It depends really on the game. I think if it’s included with the subscription, I would be more inclined to download it. The bigger games, I would expect to have an extra charge. Not sure I’d pay when I already have PlayStation games, though. But it does sound interesting.”
If you told people 30 years ago that you were vegan, they would think you were talking about a religion. Nobody was used to that word. What? No meat? No milk or eggs, either? No honey? What else was left to eat?
Animal products have been at the heart of most cultures. In Brazil, for example, Nestlé took over in the ’60s. Its condensed milk only was used to make baby formulas, at first. Then, it had the idea to create sweet recipes. That was a success. From then on, condensed milk was the main ingredient of every Brazilian dessert. Even in India, where there is a strong vegetarian culture, many traditional dishes contain milk.
For a long time, vegans had to stay out of most gatherings and dinner parties. It was too much work to cook for them when every classic dish had animal products. The lifestyle was considered strict and difficult to stick to, and only for crazy tofu-eaters.
But it’s not that vegans loved tofu and vegetables. They just had no other option. The first plant-based cheeses on the market were horrible. Desserts and treats existed in only a few stores, and they were expensive. There’s no doubt that a lot has changed since then.
In the last 10 years, there has been a big shift in the market. Plant-based products are everywhere. As the movement grows, big companies have started creating vegan versions of their products. Today, Ben & Jerry’s offers 19 vegan versions of its ice cream flavors in the USA. Most fast-food chains will have at least one vegan option on their menu.
Several months ago, headlines said that movie theaters were getting back to normal. COVID-19 restrictions started lifting and people began returning to the theaters. Just a few months on and the Delta variant is raging. Movie theaters are once again struggling to recover.
During the lockdown in 2020, movie studios opted to show their films on their streaming platforms. Once vaccinations began, it looked as if a comeback was possible. Hollywood launched a PR campaign proclaiming “the big screen is back.”
And for a while it was. During Memorial Weekend, box office sales hit $100 million. Those were the best weekend sales since the pandemic began. Yet that was less than half of the sales from the same weekend in 2019.
Sharonne Hill brought her son, Jadon, and niece, Ashley, to see “Paw Patrol: The Movie ” recently. It was their first theater outing since the pandemic began. She thinks theaters may be forced to shut down again. So, she ventured out as a treat. “We’re all just tired of sitting in the house. Streaming movies at home was great at first, but with the way COVID-19 is coming back, I don’t know how long theaters will be open. I thought we’d better get here while we still can.”
Early July, the lights turned on in a small black-box theater in Manhattan. The Armory finally returned to the stage after a year of virtual comedy performances. The audience was small, all masked, but excited. As the COVID-19 vaccines roll out and become more accessible, small venues such as this are returning to in-person shows. Returning is strange, but the performers are happy to be back.
Melissa Canon Parker is a longtime member of The Armory who has performed on their improv comedy house teams and other resident shows. These include the fan favorite Shot4Shot, a drinking game set to a real movie that comedians–regardless of age, gender, race or size–act out. She felt awkward and uncomfortable returning to the stage, but said, “I’m not even sure where I’m going. But man oh man, is it so much fun!”
Performing improv on Zoom wasn’t easy, even for expert artists. Technical difficulties happen, sometimes making things awkward or slow. Everything has its perks, though. “There was definitely a learning curve in patience, taking turns to speak, challenges in the reliability of internet speed or technological capabilities for teammates. As a full-time mom, it was instantly easier for me to participate and attend shows,” Parker said.
After last season’s restrictions, Presque Isle soccer teams thrive on their hometown support
It was a warm, late September’s night at the Presque Isle Middle School’s turf field, a rivalry girls game between Presque Isle and Caribou. Having ended regulation tied at 1 goal apiece, and now with 30 seconds to go in double overtime, a tie was all but inevitable. But Presque Isle had other ideas, as Olivia Kohlbacher banged home a rebound goal to win the game with 14 seconds remaining in the second overtime. The Presque Isle girls celebrated, having just stolen a win from their rivals. The large crowd roared for their hometown team’s exciting win. In any other season, the roar of a crowd after an exciting finish would have been a normal occurrence, void of any reflection and gratitude. But the year 2021 is not just any other soccer season.
In September of 2020, high school athletes across the state of Maine had no idea if they would have a sports season. It was during the height of the pandemic, and a vaccine seemed eons away. Finally, games were permitted to start in the last week of September with a number of restrictions for each fall sport. For soccer, those included mid-halftime sanitization breaks, wearing face coverings whenever not in the game, players who didn’t have their mouthguard in their mouth were sent off the field by officials. But most noticeably, a decrease in the number of fans. The limit was 100 people: this included players, coaches and officials. In Presque Isle, each player could invite two fans. This created an awkward atmosphere for home games. No doubt every school across the state of Maine and beyond felt this.
The raw energy of high school sports is an incomparable element. The passion for one’s hometown and high school creates tremendous atmospheres for student-athletes to play in. This brings communities together, arguably more than anything, at least in rural northern Maine. This energy was absent in 2020. But in 2021, with the pandemic hopefully in its waning stages, high school sports have seemingly found a return to normalcy. The overtime thriller between Presque Isle and Caribou was exactly what was missing from 2020. Student sections ruled again.