Reviews without spoilers: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson always creates a world for his films that feels distinctly his own, and Moonrise Kingdom follows that trend. Though this may be the first time the audience knows exactly what year the film is set in since he tells us that right at the top. It looks and feels like a Wes Anderson film, but also feels very true to the time in which it is set.

It’s not laugh out loud funny, it’s a creeper; the kind of film where you feel yourself smiling even when you’re not laughing. It isn’t so much twee as it is charming in a young way. The story is about two preteen misfits played by unknowns Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman. It manages to capture the feeling of youth very well, even while anchored by great adult actors. The movie never drags, and is relatively short at 94 minutes, but the way time passes in the film feels like childhood. It feels like a time when an afternoon could last forever.

I could have watched it for another hour, but the story wrapped up, then the credits rolled and sadly, it was over. I would love to visit this movie, this world, time, and place. I could wrap myself up in this movie on a rainy day. And I might, once it’s out on DVD.

Playing Hoops Underground

If you want to experience a bizarro version of college hoops, then division three NCAA Basketball in New York City may be for you.

On Tuesday night in the basement gym at Hunter College many fair skinned, non-tattooed young men ran up and down a court dominated by an imposing Jewish kid from Pennsylvania. (Well, okay there were some tattoos. One player on each team had one.)

Hunter College was hosting a double header against NYU. First the women’s teams played, and then the men’s teams.

Hunter cheerleaders did all they could to build the audience, which could hardly be called a crowd, into a frenzy. They didn’t succeed, but their commitment was admirable. For the women’s game they had six cheerleaders. By the time the men’s game began the squad had grown to nine.

There were also a few more bodies in the bleachers by the time the men’s game began. It was a mix of family, friends, and other athletes from Hunter, including a wrestler who shouted that his match was the next night before following up under his breath that no one would attend.

Hunter player Lorenzo Brown’s mother and father were at the game. According to the mother, they are at every game. Same for the family of NYU player Andy Stein, the imposing Jewish kid who looks like Tim Tebow and is finishing up his senior year.

Tuesday was special for the Steins with Andy scoring his 1000th point as an NYU player. His mother made a brief attempt at heckling the Hunter fans before seeming to realize too few people were paying attention for it to matter.

But it wasn’t boring. The teams showed up with as much spirit as you’d hope to see anywhere. During the announcement of the starting line ups the players bumped their coaches with as much gusto as the Miami Heat (minus the egos and over the top technological fanfare).

It’s just that the timing of everything felt a bit off. The cheerleaders weren’t in place when the line-ups were announced. The shot clock on one side was purposely turned off because it kept buzzing at the wrong time. When Hunter’s center, Panagiotis Koutsoloukas, missed a rebound and fell to the ground, he did so awkwardly, without the smooth manner in which many athletes can take a fall.

And even though NYU blew Hunter out – they won by 22 points – they didn’t feel completely cohesive either. Maybe it’s because it is division three. Stein, the clear star of the game, didn’t have any illusions of going into pro-basketball. If he didn’t, what could the others hope to do?

But they played hard. Really hard. It was clear that they cared. My favorite moment of the entire night was probably watching two of the women’s players celebrate a beautiful assist. If you want your athletes to care, and you like it at least a little bizarre, then yeah, maybe division three basketball in New York City is for you.

An Everyday Harlem Character

This is a 90-second audio story I did for class about a man in my neighborhood.

I have lived in Harlem for a few years now and I really love it. It is a friendly and polite neighborhood, rich with characters and full of history. I grew up in Brooklyn, and I find it reminds me of some of the best parts of the version of Brooklyn in which I grew up.

I’m passionate about using personal stories to tell larger stories and I’m always interested in busting stereotypes. I think stereotypes are actually useful, as long as they aren’t applied in every single situation.

The assignment was just to interview someone in our neighborhood and write some text around it. We were able to style it any way we want, so I imagined mine as a piece that would be part of a larger series about neighborhood characters.

A Brief Look at Lawrence R. Scott by Daisy Rosario

Avoiding the Sad Side Effects of Unemployment

sad cute pug dog

The unemployed are suffering from more than a lack of income. Other ugly side effects of not having a job when you want one, and make the effort to get one but can’t fine one, are stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent Gallup poll on the wellbeing of the employed versus the underemployed (Gallup defines underemployed as “the unemployed or employed part-time but wanting full-time work) shows that the unemployed experience the emotions of worry, sadness, stress and anger on a daily basis at a higher rate than the employed.

It’s easy to find yourself feeling lost. Regional labor economist Scott Bailey sums it up nicely in this article from The Columbian when he says “it sort of sets people adrift when they lose that hope of having what they view as a respectable life.”

How does one avoid feeling adrift? This is also where the lack of income comes into play. What can you do when you’re unemployed to keep your spirits high even when you can’t afford to do much?

Here is a list of fun things even the unemployed can afford to do:

  • Workout! It’s is popular wisdom that working out relieves stress. Yes, gyms can be pricey, but walking and running are still free. This yoga studio in Harlem has a few “donation” classes a week and all proceeds go to charity. Popular fitness apparel retailers Lululemon Athletica lead free yoga classes in some NYC parks and their own retail locations.
  • Visit a local museum: This is a great way to give your brain some stimulation. Many museums in New York City are free or only require a “suggested donation,” meaning they can ask you for $20 to get in, but you can give them $1 or even a quarter and be admitted. Two popular examples are the American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Find a hobby: Did you love to draw but stop doing it after high school? Maybe you used to read a lot of a particular genre and haven’t done it in a while. Now is a good time to pick it up again. Can’t make up your mind of what to do? This list might prove helpful in coming up with an idea.
  • Have a night out: You might be asking yourself, “how?” There are loads of fun resources online that can help you find things to do that don’t cost much, but one of my favorites is which helps you find free drinks so you can socialize like someone with some money in their wallet.

You might be able to make the most of this time. But above all, remember this.

Unemployment Sucks, Not Going Anywhere

As you have more than likely already heard, there were no new jobs created in the US in August. This ABC News article explains in detail why this is a big deal. But anyone who has ever been unemployed doesn’t need an explanation as to how it sucks.

I’ve been either unemployed, or barely employed since 2009, and while I now get to call myself a student and raise my self-esteem, I know first hand that being unemployed or underemployed creates some serious stress. Just look at these numbers from Gallup on the well being of the underemployed.

So what do you do? Personally, I started trying almost any job that would have me. And from this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, it looks like I wasn’t alone. The problem was I barely made any money at the random little jobs I picked up.

I once worked a day for a reality show that I won’t name. I had to go over convoluted paperwork with a mix of crazy and naive people who desperately wanted the chance to perform for some questionably qualified TV talent judges. I was sick for a week afterwards from shaking the hands of the politely deranged. I worked a 14-hour day with hardly a break and I made…$85. That ‘s less than minimum wage from a big company. Hooray!

And as my options dwindled, my ideas got stranger. I almost put on this outfit…

and danced around Battery Park for tourists, but then school started.

Need some weird ideas? What about these.

Bert Stein: Street Vendor

Bert Stein, 76, street vendor and former military medic during the Vietnam War.

Bert Stein, 76, is a South Bronx native and Vietnam Veteran who has been working as a street vendor for the last eight years. His cart, located at 43rd and 5th, sells sunglasses, pashminas, and t-shirts. He says his business has “gone down 40-45% since last year.”

He believes “if the Republicans keep their mouths shut, the economy will come back up.” He also attributes the United States’ current economic woes to a lack of domestic manufacturing and the number of jobs moving overseas. “All this crap I sell here is made overseas. I want to set fire to it,” says Bert.

Bert has had help for the last 14 months from Raju Khadka, a native of Nepal who has been living in Queens since 2009.

Bert Stein (right) in front of his vendor table, while helper Raju Khadka (left) looks at the paper.