Malibu drops Oak Park in five for first-ever ‘Dig Pink’ game

After almost blowing a two-sets-to-none lead over the Oak Park Eagles Thursday, Oct. 17, the Malibu Sharks pulled out a 15-13 win in the fifth game, earning their second Tri-Valley Volleyball League win of the season (25-15, 25-19, 19-25, 15-25, 15-13).

Malibu started strong in the final game with an early 6-2 lead, which forced an Oak Park timeout. The Eagles responded with two straight points only to be countered by three unanswered points by Malibu.

After a second timeout, Oak Park roared back, scoring four points and pulling to within one. Later in the game, junior outside hitter Lily Rudnick tied the game at 13 with a kill.

With the score tied, Ara Bolander gently tapped the ball over the net, putting her team up by one.

On the next rally, Ally Sidly rocketed the ball in between a number of Oak Park defenders, sealing the victory.

But head coach Airess Padda felt that Malibu’s defensive effort was the deciding factor in the final game.

“I think our defense that game really came through,” she said. “I just think they wanted it so bad, that there was no losing. They fought really, really hard.”

Devyn Masterson believes the team’s victory had everything to do with energy.

“We really were determined to win in the fifth game,” Devyn Masterson said. “We brought that energy back onto the court and I think that helped us win.”

Masterson felt the back-to-back losses in Games 3 and 4 were due to a lack of energy and said the team got down on themselves when making mistakes.

The Sharks won the first two sets with a scrappy defensive effort and multiple service aces, most evidenced by a dominating 25-15 first-game win.

But a hard-fought third game shifted the momentum toward Oak Park. The game saw seven ties and a questionable reversed call by a referee that put Malibu down by three instead of only one. They eventually lost, 25-19.

“I think we just weren’t ready for the [loss],” senior Danica Downing said. “We all thought we were definitely going to win that third game because we won the last two.”

The disappointment from the loss bled into the fourth game, Padda said, leading to a poor outing in the fourth and a lopsided 25-15 loss for Malibu.

This was the second time this season Oak Park and Malibu have crossed paths. The Sharks lost 3-0 to the Eagles on Sept. 24.

Masterson feels camaraderie and familiarity with the team was a factor in Thursday’s win.

“I think we’ve grown as a team and gotten closer and I think that we’ve learned how to benefit each other on the court and work together better by pumping each other up and giving each other compliments and not getting down on ourselves much,” Masterson said. “I think that’s why we won today.”

Thursday night marked the first-ever “Dig Pink” game, an initiative to promote breast cancer awareness. The freshman, sophomore and varsity girls volleyball teams wore pink jerseys to commemorate the occasion, and the gym was decorated with pink balloons and ribbons.

Before the game, breast cancer survivor Sally Strip spoke to attendees of the volleyball game about her struggles fighting the disease, and singled out Malibu’s volleyball coaches in support of the “Dig Pink” games.

“Let’s all work together to beat breast cancer,” Stripp said.

Padda believes winning against Oak Park on a night which featured breast cancer awareness held a special significance.

“To be playing for women that have breast cancer, it just motivates you so much more,” Padda said. “This game will never be forgotten.”

Malibu’s next couple of games are against tough opponents, Padda said. No matter the outcome of those games, she feels that her team is headed in the right direction.

“Even if we don’t win, just to bring the energy and the fight they had tonight, I think it’s just going to be great for our team,” Padda said.

Advertisements

Horror film ‘The Purge’ showcases intense maze in downtown

Halloween has become synonymous with stale, not-so-scary walk-through mazes in recent years, often based on themes from popular movies and TV shows like “Evil Dead” and “The Walking Dead.”

But Jason Blum, producer of such acclaimed horror films as “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious,” created a new maze experience that surpasses the staples already available to horror junkies at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights and Knott’s Scary Farm.

“The Purge: Fear the Night” is an interactive experience based on the plot of suspense thriller “The Purge” that takes audiences through a complex storyline rather than merely having costumed employees jump out of a corner attempting to make them squeal in fear.

Image

Photo by Alex Vejar

The attraction starts with visitors viewing a faux television emergency broadcast by “Purge News Network” while waiting in line. They are given the roles of Level 10 government officials which, according to the plot of the film, signifies they can’t be harmed by purgers.

Guests are then led into a pitch-black mini-maze one at a time that will cause some to bump into a wall or two.

After making way through an almost-suffocating hallway in absolute darkness, they’ll find themselves in a large room, listening to actors playing the President and First Lady give speeches about the purge.

Small groups of five or six are taken to see the anchor of “Purge News Network” for a photo op. But the anchor is literally caught with his pants down, seemingly unaware he would have visitors.

Then the shit hits the fan.

The group is taken hostage by “Constitutionalists,” who have murdered everyone in the TV studio, and forced to follow them through six floors of the building. They are often told to “shut up” and will have to take shaky elevator rides, be transported in the back of a truck, and witness hails of gunfire and lots more bloodshed.

Each room the visitors enter plays out much like a scene from a play as they are all acted out live. The unique aspect of this experience is the audience is given tasks — like finding a key card or helping to deliver a baby — in order to move on the next part of the story.

Blum, who has a background producing theater, wanted to combine his passions of stage and screen into one unique experience.

“I love theater and I love live events and I make horror movies,” Blum said during a press meet-and-greet event. “This is my version of doing a live event and kind of getting back to my roots.”

Josh Randall, director of the attraction, said “Fear the Night” was only similar to other Los Angeles mazes because its attendees walk through it, and the similarities end when people involve themselves by performing tasks to advance in the maze.

“I think the big [differences] are that this is a real-life scenario; this isn’t about monsters, so nobody dripping in blood in vampire fangs is going to jump at you and say ‘I want to eat your brains,’” Randall said. “We wanted to create an environment that was completely immersive, that you felt like you were part of it.”

Image

Photo by Alex Vejar

“The Purge: Fear the Night” is open on Thursdays through Saturdays until November 2. There are eight total periods of entry every 15 minutes starting at 7:15 p.m. to 8 p.m., then beginning again at 10 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.

Admission is around $40 dollars, and compared to the lofty price tags of Universal Studios and Knott’s, this attraction is worth the money and more.

Minimum wage increase is past due

I get paid $10 an hour at a dance studio in Santa Monica to sit at a desk, make and take a few phone calls, accept people’s money and watch people dance. I work part-time and am able to pay my monthly bills because I live at home with my parents.

On the other hand, a full-time food service worker deals with people all day, wears a ridiculous uniform, makes unhealthy food and probably goes home to their children smelling like french fries, but only gets paid minimum wage, which is $8 per hour in California, and barely makes their monthly rent.

Something is tremendously wrong with this picture.

Nowadays, with cost of living constantly increasing, it’s getting harder for someone to make ends meet on the measly weekly paychecks they receive from minimum-wage jobs.

An employee working 40 hours a week at the federal minimum wage — $7.25 per hour — would make $15,080 in a year, before taxes. That is just below the poverty line of a two-person household in the United States, which is $15,510 per year, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

So if you’re a single parent trying to put your kid through school, it doesn’t matter if you have a full-time job; if you make minimum wage, you are poor.

And what does it mean to be poor? You are unable to save up money. People with disposable income have the privilege to save up for college, to eat healthier, go on family trips, etc. Needless to say they don’t have to live day by day.

This is why the recent vote by the California Legislature in favor of a bill that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2016 arrived just in time.

But actually, it’s long overdue.

The federal minimum wage has stayed stagnant since 2009, when it was raised from $6.55 per hour to its current rate at $7.25. It previously increased yearly since 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The bill, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, will first raise California’s minimum wage to $9 on July 1, 2014, and then to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) want to take it a step further. In March, the congressmen introduced companion versions of the Fair Minimum Wage Act to the House of Representatives and Senate, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over three years, then have it increase annually, adjusting for inflation.

The act would also increase pay for tipped workers — those who work in restaurants, valets, etc. — to 70 percent of the federal minimum wage. The current federal pay rate for tipped employees is an ungodly $2.13 per hour.

According to the Raise the Minimum Wage website, the nation’s minimum wage should be at $10.74 if the U.S. had followed inflation rates for the past 40 years.

A 2012 study conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research contends that inflation is the not the only variable at work in this issue. According to the study, increased productivity since 1968 should put the minimum wage at above $21.

Twenty-one dollars an hour is pushing it, but the idea makes sense. Technology allows tasks to be performed faster, and therefore, employees get more done with the time allotted to them.

If an employee is getting more done during a day on the job, their hourly pay should reflect that. No matter how you slice it, American workers are getting paid too little for the work they do.

Opponents of the new California legislation argue raising the minimum wage will cause employers to hire less people. In a recent LA Times editorial, Kevin A. Hasset said that unemployment and poverty rates will be unaffected and there are better ways to pump money into households with low income, such as expanding the earned income tax credit.

Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show on Aug. 29, made the case that those who advocate higher wages for food service employees don’t think about the repercussions of paying a McDonald’s worker $15 per hour, an amount they and other fast food employees protested for in recent months.

“Maybe the consumer doesn’t want to pay $10 for a Big Mac so that people working at McDonald’s make $15 an hour,” Limbaugh said on his show. “It’s not just a one-way strata.”

These opposing arguments make valid points. No one wants to pay more for something just because the government decided to increase a worker’s minimum pay by a few bucks.

But look at the work they do for that money.

These employees are on their feet for hours, often times doing manual labor, and they get mistreated by the people they serve far too often.

Whether an employee is a teenager who landed their first job, or a wife who wants to help make more money for her household, increasing the minimum wage puts more cash in the pockets of consumers, which translates into increased spending and helps the economy grow.

On top of that, it puts more money where it belongs — into the hands of those who work their asses off for it. This country could use a little more appreciation for those types of people.

Service workers who get paid minimum wage deserve to be recognized and paid like other workers in higher positions in our society.

Apps you didn’t know you needed: midterms (or exams) edition

It’s midterm season, and while some students have already taken their tests, many are preparing for — maybe even dreading — days of studying.

But students needn’t worry too much because there are several apps available that can facilitate efficient studying, help calm nerves and aid in concentration. For example, studies have shown ambient noise can aid in concentration and stress relief.

Here are some recommendations that could help ease midterm stress.

Flashy cards

app1For those who are visual learners and love using flashcards, Brainscape is a solid choice in studying software. The app lets users create their own flashcards by creating a subject — i.e. Biology, English, etc. — then making a deck. Inside the deck, the user can type in both the questions and answers to what they’re studying and make as many cards as they wish.

As a student goes through each flash card, they can choose from one of five colors indicating how comfortable they feel about their knowledge of a particular card, ranging from red (not at all) to blue (perfectly). Based on what color they chose, the app determines how soon a card will show up again.

Brainscape keeps track of the user’s progress with a percentage of overall mastery of their chosen subject along with a “confidence breakdown,” a pie chart that indicates the user’s confidence level in each individual subject, as well as the entire library of flashcards.

If a student chooses, they can create an account that lets them sync their flash cards with other iOS devices.

Users can buy other pre-made flashcards by visiting the “Brainscape marketplace” within the app, where additional subject flashcards are available for purchase.

Brainscape is free, with additional content starting at 99 cents. It is only available for the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers.

Take the coffee shop with you

app2Coffitivity attempts to recreate the ambience of a coffee shop, a frequent studying spot for students. Users can choose from three pre-recorded soundtracks named “Morning Murmur,” “Lunchtime Lounge” and “University Undertones.”

Users are also able to send in audio of their own favorite coffee shop sounds for possible inclusion to the app’s website and mobile app.

A feature that may be appealing to students is the ability to play music from iTunes while listening to the recordings on the app. A user can balance volume levels and decide how loud they want their music or the ambient sounds.

Coffitivity’s website can be accessed for free. For on-the-go users, the Coffitivity app costs $1.99 and is available for iPod, iPad and Mac computers.

‘Tis the season for studying

app3Relax Melodies Seasons is another application that provides ambient sounds.

The difference: users can put themselves in the sounds of summer or the ambience of autumn with time-of-the-year-specific recordings.

The app features a total of 32 ambient sounds, with 24 corresponding to the four seasons in a year. Some examples of non-melodic choices are “Fireplace” or “Family at the Beach,” while others such as “Aurora” and “Dream” feel more like an instrumental song.

Two of the sounds which are not season-centric are “Concentration” and “Pre-Sleep,” recordings designed to have positive effects on brainwaves.

Lending credence to the “seasons” part of the app’s name, Relax Melodies Seasons offers eight classic Christmas songs such as “Carol of the Bells,” “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells.”

Users can mix and match any of the 32 sounds, giving them the freedom to create their own ambience and can choose from five pre-made combinations of sounds in its “Favorite” section.

There is a free and paid version of Relax Melodies Seasons which is available for iPod, iPad and Mac computers. Other Relax Melodies apps are available for Android devices.

Sounds to study to

app4Study is an app designed to increase a user’s productivity. It involves a 45-minute track that includes nature sounds — mainly birds — and slow, short melodic phrases.

According to the app’s iTunes page, it is generally recommended to take a break after 45 minutes, hence the track’s length. The ambient sounds can be put on repeat with a simple swipe of a button.

The app’s “Info” page says the user is meant to experience a “body-relaxed, mind-alert state that’s ideal for studying.”

Study is free and is available for any iOS device.

Namaste

app5For students who are looking for to relax or relieve stress before or after a big test, yoga can be the perfect solution.

Simply Yoga is a beginner’s yoga app with three workouts of 20, 40 or 60 minutes and includes over 30 poses and three pre-made routines. The app offers instructional videos for each pose.

Simply Yoga has both a free and paid version — which allows users to create their own routines and is ad-free  —  and is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

CTVA professor discusses new documentary ‘Pastriology’

Alexis Krasilovsky, CTVA professor, has a new documentary called “Pastriology.” A sneak preview of the shorter version “Let Them Eat Cake” will be shown Monday. Photo by Alex Vejar / Daily Sundial

Alexis Krasilovsky, CTVA professor, has a new documentary called “Pastriology.” A sneak preview of the shorter version “Let Them Eat Cake” will be shown Monday. Alex Vejar / Daily Sundial

When cinema and television arts professor Alexis Krasilovsky couldn’t afford to eat a meal while in college, she did what she said many students do.

“I’d eat a piece of pastry,” she said.

Several years later, she found herself at a party for the Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh. After being allowed to only interact with embassy people, rather than natives who had been displaced due to a recent fire, she thought of an idea for a new film and a story she felt had to be told.

“I began to think about the disparity; it’s such a poor country,” Krasilovsky said. “That stayed with me.”

That story is “Pastriology,” a documentary exploring pastry traditions in different parts of the world while also shedding light on areas where people not only cannot afford to eat a pastry, but don’t even know what one looks like. It is a fusing of footage shot in eight countries by multiple directors.

“Let Them Eat Cake,” the shorter version of the documentary, is set for a sneak preview in CSUN’s Elaine and Alan Armer Theater on Monday.

Krasilovsky said she never intended to make documentaries, yet her previous film “Women Behind the Camera” won multiple best documentary awards, according to its website. The movie focuses on female filmmakers from around the world and is based on Krasilovsky’s book by the same title.

As one of the first female students allowed to attend Yale University, Krasilovsky wanted to address the “silencing of women” at the time using the universal language of film.

“I found that in order to tell [my] stories the way I wanted to, it wasn’t enough to just write them,” Krasilovsky said. “I had to direct them and produce them.”

Existing in a male-dominated industry, Krasilovsky feels something should be done about the “abysmally low” number of female writers and directors.

“I think it starts with education,” she said of reasons why there are not enough women in filmmaking. “It’s really important to have a diversity of faculty so we have more role models for the students. We have to have a diversity in the curriculum of the examples of works that are shown to the students so that they don’t feel the formula is the only thing out there.”

Krasilovsky has taught at CSUN for over 25 years, a milestone that surprises her.

“I had no clue that I would be going into teaching much earlier in life, [but] the people were so nice [at CSUN] compared to the backstabbers in Hollywood whom I had been interviewing with and/or working with that I thought, ‘Gee, this might be a nice thing to do — for a while,’” she said. “I never dreamed that I would be here 25 years later.”

Krasilovsky feels being an educator makes her think more directly about issues, and her role at CSUN makes her filmmaking more personal.

“Teaching has been a good way to be able to make the films that I want to make,” she said. “I’ve been able to make quite a number of films that I believe in, often with my students.”

One of those students is junior screenwriting major Shannon Hourihan, Krasilovsky’s intern for “Pastriology.” She started working with Krasilovsky by staying after a film class to inquire about the internship opportunity.

“She’s very passionate,” Hourihan said of Krasilovsky. “I’m very impressed with just how much she has on her plate and how hard she works. It’s constantly inspiring.”

Joel Krantz, CTVA professor at CSUN, edited sound for Krasilovsky’s film. Although he doesn’t normally work on documentaries, Krantz learned a lot by working with her.

“It was a good experience to just work on her documentary and see how she did things,” he said. “She’s really a talented director.”

Krasilovsky finds her ability to help her students get past professional obstacles to be the most fulfilling part of her career.

“To be able to overcome some of those issues in my own life and to teach some of my students to overcome those issues — how to break through as an unknown, how to avoid sexual harassment, how to listen to your inner voice and tell real stories instead of just going for the surface gloss — that has been immensely rewarding,” she said.

Matt Damon visits CSUN to introduce NYU professor Diane Ravitch, a representative of the Education on the Edge speakers series

Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University, spoke for the first inaugural Education on the Edge speaker series in Northridge Center of the USU Wednesday, and discussed her views on the problems within American education and what should be done to fix them.

Matt Damon, Academy Award-winning actor known for such films as “Good Will Hunting” and the “Bourne” movies, introduced Ravitch, who is acquainted with Damon’s mother.

“I’m very honored to have the opportunity to introduce Diane tonight,” Damon said. “She’s somebody that I have admired for a very long time. She’s an amazing person. She’s America’s foremost historian in the areas of education policy, she’s a champion of public education, she’s a courageous speaker and she’s a truth-teller.”

Michael Spagna, dean of CSUN’s college of education (COE), felt Damon’s appearance was important because actors, artists and athletes have gained cultural relevance, which could make an impact on others by publicly supporting an educator.

“I think if we can transfer some of that cultural appreciation that we have for actors like Matt Damon to teachers, we’ve done a great thing because they’re, right now, not appreciated that much.”

After approaching the podium, Ravitch promoted her new book “The Reign of Error” and throughout her speech, a common theme was “hoaxes” related to education.

She said former President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was a hoax because Senator Lamar Alexander, her former boss at the U.S. Department of Education, told her he didn’t believe that 100 percent of children would be proficient in math and English by 2014 – an ambition of the act – but it was important to have goals.

“That means the people who passed (the act) didn’t believe it was possible, and for the last 10 years we’ve been firing teachers… and closing schools based on an impossible goal…that’s a hoax,” Ravitch said.

Ravitch criticized the Race to the Top program, an incentive that provides grants to states that implement certain education reforms.

“It’s causing more teaching (only to pass) tests, it’s demoralizing teachers and principals (and) it’s causing more schools to be closed.”

Ravitch said she didn’t know where “the top” was and why educators were racing there.

“Does this mean that we’re all supposed to get higher test scores?” she asked rhetorically. “More likely, it means we’re in a race, and a race has few winners and a lot of losers. But that’s not what American education is about. American education is supposed to be about equality of educational opportunity, not a race to the top.”

Ravitch also discussed high school graduation rates and said the notion that graduation rates are flat or low is another “hoax”.

“(It’s) the highest they’ve ever been in history…We are making progress, and we’ve got to recognize it,” she said.

Ravitch emphasized the problem of poverty, calling it a “barrier to greater progress” and lamented that others have said it was an excuse for bad teachers.

“The hardest problem that we face is the biggest problem, and that is that the cause of low test scores, the cause of low academic performance, the cause of almost everything  negative that happens is poverty,” Ravitch said. “We must reduce poverty in this country.”

Nina Rees, president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter schools, was a former colleague of Ravitch and disagrees with Ravitch’s views on poverty.

“That mindset very much contradicts the viewpoint of a lot of reformers who believe that regardless of how poor you are you should have access to a high quality education,” said Rees. “(We also believe) it is the educators job to bring that quality education…and you certainly should not be making excuses for kids who come from a disadvantaged home. If anything you need to invest even more time and energy because education ultimately is (their) ticket out of poverty.”

Ravitch mapped out several solutions to the problems she feels America is facing with education, including good prenatal care for women to facilitate normal cognition in their children, universal pre-kindergarten, arts programs in schools and reduced class sizes.

Spagna feels Ravitch’s visit is an example of CSUN’s commitment to education.

“(Ravitch) recognizes that we are a big producer of quality teachers, and so she wants to speak at institutions where a lot of people are going into a profession and wants to inspire them,” COE Dean Spagna said.

Teachers and students have mixed feelings about myCSUNtablet initiative

To begin the fall semester, seven academic programs were given the opportunity to combine education and technology, potentially leading to one cohesive force of learning.

However, after a month of implementation, the myCSUNtablet initiative has garnered mixed reviews among teachers and students.

“I’d rather just take notes on paper and just have a typical lecture than sit there and do activities on the iPad,” said Mei-Ling Cabrera, junior cell and molecular biology major. “I guess it’s kind of a learning thing but I don’t learn like that.”

Cabrera is among those types of students who prefer a more traditional form of learning, consisting of taking notes on paper while listening to a professor’s lecture.

Ibtissam Haddada, 24, senior student, said she initially struggled with learning how to use the applications on the iPad, but supports the initiative moving forward.

“It’s a good thing [for] education,” she said. “It’s a good thing also not to carry too much stuff on you; it’s just [the] iPad that has all kinds of notes you need, everywhere you go, basically.”

After having taught at CSUN for 15 years, Beth Phillips, who teaches classes for the physical therapy doctorate program, feels using the iPad as a teaching tool has been quite an adjustment.

“It’s teaching an old dog a new trick for sure,” Phillips said. “I was happy with a scalpel in the anatomy lab and chalk in the chalkboard. But I’m convinced now that I’m halfway through with this that it is going to be really helpful once I’m done with it.”

Phillips said she has experienced technological snafus when students are trying to access an application all at once, but that the problem was not a major hinderance to the learning environment.

Brandon Johnson, a student in one of Phillips’ classes, has benefitted from the myCSUN tablet initiative.

“It has actually helped me out in preparation for quizzes and examinations and, deeper than that, helped me actually understand what’s happening in the human body rather than just recording what is on a test,” Johnson said.

Some professors are not only using iPads to teach course content, but also to administer exams and quizzes.

Cindy Malone, professor of biology, said that students may be experiencing added stress from the new software they’re using to take tests.

“There was no amazing revelation of wow, everybody did much better, but that could be just it was a lot of stress taking the exam on the iPad,” Malone said. “The new software and the inability to take notes on stuff and just a whole new thing may have masked any kind of increased learning that we may have seen. The increased anxiety decreased the ability to find the right answers.”

Phillips believes that once the kinks work themselves out this semester, using iPads will become a better experience for students and professors alike.

“I think once everyone gets used to using it and understands how to quickly download things, what apps work best for themselves, its going to be very efficient,” Phillips said. “There’ll be much less use of paper and much less strain on your muscles carrying around heavy textbooks.”

As part of the initiative, students are required to either already possess an iPad or buy one through Apple or the CSUN bookstore. Students can opt to pay for the device in two- or three-semester installments using their financial aid.

Phillips said she tries to accommodate students who either cannot afford an iPad or have a different type of tablet.

“I don’t want somebody to have finances be the reason they can’t participate [in class],” Phillips said. “They won’t have as many bells and whistles and widgets and things they can interact with, but they will have all the basic content in a PDF format if they can’t buy the iPad.”

The long-term impact of the myCSUNtablet initiative remains to be seen, but some students are already looking forward to the possibilities.

“I think the future is bright,” Johnson said. “I think that it’s all about storing information in one localized area that allows students and professors ease of access to necessary and pertinent information to help us absorb the information that we need to learn.”