Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review on "Gotham," Fox's New Batman Prequel Series

Fox’s new television series “Gotham” made a riveting debut this past Monday, Sept. 22. The show is made out to be a prequel series to the DC Batman franchise, giving the origin stories of many popular characters such as Bruce Wayne, James Gordon, Catwoman, and several others. It is immediately apparent from watching the pilot episode that this series is going to be a big hit with Batman fans and non-fans alike.

The all familiar dark mood of the franchise is instantly established from the first shots of Gotham City, where the towering buildings loom and the night is seemingly eternal. Even scenes that take place during the day are dimmed with brooding black clouds. This gives an excellent foundation for the show’s plot, which is equally as sinister.

Ben McKenzie as James Gordon
Taking a different approach than most other media in the franchise, the plot of “Gotham” primarily follows the character James Gordon rather than Batman. Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, is a young detective just getting his start on the Gotham Police Department.  McKenzie fits the role perfectly, creating a character whose youth and strong moral compass help him to combat organized crime. He and the other actors do a fantastic job at creating realistic representations of the characters.

The storyline of the show is just as compelling as the actors. Starting out with the investigation of the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, it promises to be fast-paced and filled with surprises in each new episode. Curiously, there are many aspects of the show that are reminiscent of previous Batman films. One such example is when Mrs. Wayne is murdered and the camera focuses on the pearls from her necklace bouncing onto the asphalt. This same kind of shot was used in the 1989 “Batman” movie.

With its pilot, “Gotham” has proven to be a legitimate new Batman series. The show’s producers have artistically designed all aspects of it- from the foreboding Gotham skyline, to the intrinsic relations between the characters. Fox may find itself bringing in new fans to the Batman franchise with this new spin, as well as giving seasoned followers a new fixation. Gotham airs on Fox Mondays at 8/7 CST. Visit the series website to keep up-to-date on the show and to view other related media. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Comedy Leads to Tragedy: Robin Williams and the Sad Truth about Comedians


Many have wondered in recent days what could have lead comedian Robin Williams to take his own life. Famous for making people laugh till' they cried in his numerous comedy roles, it was unthinkable that this seemingly joyous man could suffer so terribly from depression. I have even heard several people comment something along the lines of "how can a guy with so much money be depressed?"

Believe it or not, the sad reality is this: the vast majority of comedians suffer from some form of depression. How can this be so? According to a recent study, comedians are significantly more likely to have psychotic traits linked to depression than other creative individuals.

So what's the deal here? I went around CofC's campus to get students' opinions on the subject. Here's what they had to say:

Lauren Holton
Lauren Holton
Junior Psychology Major
Lexington, SC

"He was basically my childhood, like Jumanji, Flubber, Hook were all big in my family. I could go on and on. I connect that to growing up. I think many comedians are too self-critical. I know that depression is highly correlated with creative people. Like the more creative you are, the more likely you are to have suicidal tendencies. It ticked me off when they were saying on the news that he seemed so happy. Of course he is going to seem happy, he was using comedy to help bury his problems."

Jessica Smith, Ph.D.
CofC Instructional Technologist
Jessica Smith, Ph.D

Knoxville, TN

"I loved him, I remember I wasn't very old when Mrs. Doubtfire came out. I remember that vividly and enjoying that film. I know Goodnight Vietnam was one of his biggest roles, but Patch Adams was my favorite. That one really reflected his philanthropy and humor. It doesn't surprise me that most comedians suffer from depression, I think that applies to artists in general. My mom was an MFA and taught ceramics, so she was an artist and I grew up in the Arts scene. Just like if you're a scientist or mathematician, artists see the world in a different way, and you can clump comedians in with them. They just feel things so intensely, it would be hard not to let it get to you and drag you down. Comedy to them is a defense mechanism, like if I can make a joke out of it, maybe it's not so bad.

Kendall Ilerz
Kendall Ilerz
Freshman Archaeology Major 
Indian Land, SC

"I used to watch Mork and Mindy with my mom, Hook, Aladdin was my favorite. He just always made me laugh and see the funny side of things. I get why he and other comedians might be depressed. When they are sad and upset they don't want others to feel that way and so they try to make them laugh. I think they hide their emotions that way for the benefit of others and it ends up getting the best of them."

Sarah Caro
Sarah Caro
Freshman Communications Major
Columbia, SC

"Robin Williams showed me that it was okay to be different and silly and to always put smiles on peoples faces no matter what. I love his classic movies. My favorites are Mrs. Doubtfire, Flubber, Patch Adams, Jumanji, and Happy Feet. I wouldn't say it's just comedians who suffer from depression. Many people deal with depression or what I like to call "reality." Many people put smiles on their faces and go about their days but there are hard days where people face reality. Comedians get wrapped up in their own worlds -- entertaining people -- and don't have time to deal with reality on a daily basis like the rest of us. They get hit with it overwhelmingly where we get doses of reality everyday and learn to cope. I guess this could also go along with celebrities. They live in a world that isn't real, it's entertainment, their life is in the spotlight and not a lot of people realize what else goes on in their lives."

Corey Jorgenson
Corey Jorgenson
Senior History Major
Hanahan, SC

"[Robin Williams] didn't really impact my life at all. And definitely Flubber and Aladdin were my favorites. I'm sure in his case it was due in part to his cocaine addiction. Substance abuse really takes it's toll on a person's mental stability. He was also diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson's. As for other comedians I'd say their acts are a facade for how they are really feeling."

To put matters briefly, personality traits that cause a person to have a comedic personality can be directly associated with traits that cause depression. In order to cope with their own hardships, comedians often joke about their struggles to make themselves feel better and to attain social acceptance. But joking doesn't make their problems any better, it only buries the feelings until one day the person is unable to cope with them.

Suicide as a result of depression is one of the biggest killers in America. According to data compiled by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide claims the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans yearly.
The bottom line is, if you are ever feeling depressed or that you may commit suicide, seek help immediately. A great resource is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. The College of Charleston also provides counselling services free of charge to students.

As the popular saying goes, "Those who laugh the loudest are often the saddest."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Favorite Places: The Unitarian Church Garden-Graveyard

Dearly Beloved,

We are gathered here today to experience one of Charleston's most beautiful and historic locations, the Unitarian Church Graveyard. This is one of my favorite spots to visit in the Holy City. 

Entrance to the Graveyard

Located in the heart of historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina, this graveyard has served as a serene and natural final resting place for several centuries. 

One of the many overgrown graves

The Unitarian Church, to which the graveyard belongs, was established in 1772 by a group known as the Society of Dissenters. Known today as the Universal Unitarian Congregation, they focus more on making life better on Earth rather than the afterlife. According to the church's website, the graveyard was established in 1800. It was designed to resemble a garden, going along with the Unitarian's deep connection with nature.

Spanish moss drapes over the gravestones

Several myths and legends surround the graveyard. It is a popular spot for the famous Charleston ghost tours to come to as it is home to a few famous phantoms. I highly recommend one of the tours if you are interested in the supernatural, click here for a list of them. One such myth involves the spirit of Annabelle Lee, the girl whose tragic death Edgar Allen Poe wrote of in one of his famous poems. It is said that she would secretly meet her lover in the Unitarian graveyard before she met her dismal demise.

Shadow the Graveyard Cat

I've never seen any of these ghosts personally, however I see this friendly black cat most times when I visit. I don't know if he already has a name, so I just call him Shadow because he likes to shadow (follow) me around the graveyard. Interestingly enough, in ancient Egyptian mythology, cats were depicted as the guardians of the underworld, ensuring the no one got in and that no evil spirits would escape. Nevertheless, Shadow is an adorable addition to the graveyard experience.

Dazzling flora grows alongside the headstones of the dearly departed

As you stroll along the narrow paths of the graveyard and take in the earthy smells, you instantly feel at peace. Its natural glory provides an ethereal convergence between the realms of the living and the dead. 

A lively path

Among the graves are several open areas with benches and arranged plants. These areas are excellent places for relaxation, meditation, and spiritual growth. Something about being so close to the departed along with the serenity of the garden awakens the imagination and puts a person into a state of bliss.

Steps to a dais

The atmosphere of this amazing place has inspired many famous writers and poets such as Emily Dickinson, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Margaret Fuller. Transcendentalist/philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, famous for his On Walden Pond, gave a speech here in 1827.

A perfect place for meditation
Though the graveyard may at first appear neglected and overgrown, it is actually well kept. Gardeners of the church work diligently year round to keep the paths clear and do the best they can to maintain the graves. The plant life is allowed to grow out to attain a more natural look. This beautifully contrasts the meticulously manicured gardens of the surrounding Charleston houses.

An Overgrown Grave

So whether you are a frequenter of graveyards, enjoy walks in nature, or are just looking for an interesting place to visit in Charleston, this should definitely make your list of places to go! It is open during daylight hours and located on 8 Archdale Street, click here for directions. Like I've said, it is one of my favorite places to peruse when I'm downtown. The garden-graveyard is a serene embodiment of the cycle of life, bringing liveliness and beauty to a place where there is normally only death. 

As the plaque at the entrance to the graveyard reads, "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Excitement at Carowinds and New Ride Revealed

“It doesn’t matter that it’s a hundred degrees out, Carowinds is the coolest place to have

Michelle Privette is not alone in this opinion, as thousands of other thrill-seekers traveled
from all over the south to enjoy Carowinds’ attractions in the famous Carolina heat. For those who have yet to experience it, Carowinds is an amusement park located in Charlotte that straddles the SC and NC border.

I recently had a chance to join the crowd and get firsthand experience of the amusement park.

There are rides for all ages and all levels of comfort. As a thrill seeker myself, I favored the
Intimidator, one of the park’s newer attractions that entails ninety degree drops and exhilarating
speeds of up to 75 mph.

For the more sedate, there are attractions such as the Windseeker, which lifts riders 300
feet into the air for a panoramic view of the park.

“The Windseeker is awesome,” said my brother Tucker Privette, “I love the extreme
heights and views. I felt like I was superman flying!”

Visitors this weekend also got a glimpse of a project that has been a mystery for the past
few months. The construction near the front of the park was revealed to be a new attraction
coming next spring called the Fury, claiming it will be their most electrifying roller coaster yet!

A trip to Carowinds makes for the perfect weekend getaway. It is only a short 3 hour road trip from Charleston and tickets are around $42 when purchased online.

Check out Carowinds' video introducing their new upcoming ride, The Fury!

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