My Favorite Teacher

My Favorite Teacher

Having a mom for a teacher makes this question almost too easy.
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Take a moment to think of your favorite elementary school teacher. You probably have an image in your head of your fourth grade teacher who wore jeans on Fridays or your first grade teacher who had a pet in her classroom. If you’re fortunate, more than one teacher comes to mind. For me, the answer isn't a teacher I ever had in the classroom, because my mom is a teacher.

My mom started teaching before I was born and my whole life I have been a teacher’s kid. When I was a baby she would dress me up in matching Halloween costumes with her (I'm the lion in the cover photo!) and let me come in to meet her kids during their parties. I loved being in the classrooms with all of the kids and books, some people thought that was a stage I would grow out of, but I think that being a teacher’s kid is so ingrained into me that even after my mom retires I will still fondly recount those times.

There are, of course, perks to being a teacher’s kid. You get to go in the teacher’s lounge when everyone else only knows it as an elusive and exclusive parlor (it’s really not that exciting, but it is for a seven year old). You and the other teachers’ kids get to play on the playground afterschool when there are only three or four of you around. There are tons of books and in the summer when you go into school the library is your own little kingdom, with all of the books you could dream about reading. If you forget your lunch money your mom is right down the hallway to write a check.

But, some of the best parts of being a teacher’s kid don’t happen at school.

Even now that my siblings and I are all out of elementary school, our mother stays there. She brings home charts for us to fill out about our New Year’s resolutions with cartoon owls in the top corner. When I came into her classroom for her winter party she was in her element, introducing me to her new bunch of children and entertaining them while still maintaining control of the class. The balance is a fine one that I truly believe can’t be taught by a degree, but through years of being a teacher who cares.

One of my mom’s students came up to me to ask exactly who I was. The question made me smile a little bit and sit up straighter. “I’m Mrs. Holden’s kid,” I told the girl.

“I am too,” she said, nodding and glancing at my mother who was helping another student with their holiday craft.

She didn’t seem to distinguish a difference between us, so I didn’t push one. In fifteen years when someone asked her about their favorite teacher she might have to comb back through her memory to think of Mrs. Holden (or, if she had bad taste she might not pick Mrs. Holden). But my answer for favorite teacher is always ready.

Cover Image Credit: my photo

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The Differences Between 'A Quiet Place' And 'Truth Or Dare'

One is great. One is not.
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I don’t usually like to rate movies out of ten. People see movies for different reasons, and personally, I believe that most movies can be enjoyed as long as their viewers go in with the right expectations. But despite this gracious philosophy of film, I also believe that there are some films that do things well and some that do things poorly. Such objective standards can be rated on a scale from one to ten.

Over the last few weeks, film fans have been graced by at least two fans that paved the way for future original creative endeavors, and at least one that has continued to establish my cynical outlook on the Hollywood machine. A Quiet Place, one of the more optimistic offerings, was one of the best-written films to come from the horror-thriller genre in the last few years. This weekend’s Truth or Dare was one of the worst written. And the key areas where they diverge are quite obvious.

1. Basic Premise

A Quiet Place, in addition to elegantly expositing slowly, carefully, and of course, quietly, contains a premise that can be summarized in one word: shhh. There are few, if any, rules except “be quiet.” And there is no grand summary of how the sound-hunting creatures came to plague the planet; we are only told what is relevant to the plight of the Abbott family, our protagonists. Understanding the monster allows us to wrap our brains around it. We fear that which we do not understand.

In comparison, Truth or Dare establishes nonsensical rules that are so far from logical that they cannot possibly be threatening. The context for the events we’re witnessing is so contrived that it is near impossible to feel tension or fright. And there’s no ambiguity, despite your desperate pleas for the cringe to end. They lay out everything you need to understand the “threat” so it’s no longer threatening.

2. Plot Motivators

A Quiet Place’s movie journey genre is known as “monster in the house.” The protagonists are trapped in a confined space with a terrifying brute force that can’t be reasoned with. This is what drives the plot: a compelling antagonist. Creatures with such auditory acuity that they can hear sounds from miles away. Insurmountable obstacles in interesting settings and situations.

Rather, Truth or Dare opted for a character-driven plot, which is a completely legitimate writing decision. Truth or Dare’s problem is that all its characters are idiots. This is a very common horror film trope - overly sexed teens are inebriated, or their brains are underdeveloped, and because of it they fall victim to some horror movie antagonist. The film’s antagonist might be the demon possessing the group’s game of truth or dare, but it seems more that it’s the group themselves and their poor decision-making skills, or their penchant for bringing up intensely personal arguments in the middle of life-or-death situations, or their unrealistically melodramatic responses to trauma.

3. Jump Scares

The idea behind A Quiet Place lends itself to the use of the loud jump scare. Sure, it’s a horror trope, and sure, it made me roll my eyes when I saw it. But the film is more allowed to use loud jump scares than most of its peers because they make sense in the context of the story - most of the film is very quiet (obviously), so any sound is going to seem louder than usual, and the slow-moving landscape has the same effect on the movement.

Truth or Dare, though, would rather use all of its jump scares on fake-outs, which is a well-documented frustration with modern horror films. Jump scares are unrelated to the plot and serve as a very thinly veiled attempt to give the audience a quick jolt of fear. They’re still a cheap method of scaring in A Quiet Place, but at least that film’s context allows the audience to forgive its use. The scares in Truth or Dare are so obvious that, again, they can’t possible come across as threatening.


A Quiet Place was across the board an incredible film. Truth or Dare is not. But like I said, I believe that most movies are good for something. There are objective standards which Truth or Dare fails to measure up to. There are documented writing formulas and genre tropes which the film actively ignores. But if every movie is good for something, what is Truth or Dare good for?

Well, it’s pretty great for noting how not to make a horror movie.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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'Ready Player One' Is Our Modern Day '1984'

The dangers posed by VR and advancing technologies.
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In 2011, Ernest Cline Published his best-selling science fiction novel "Ready Player One." Since then it has become a New York Times bestseller, translated into 20 different languages with a motion picture adaption currently in theaters. "1984" was a book written at a time when everyone was paranoid that the government would be watching their every move. Now that this is a reality, authors and film producers are turning their sites on the newest technological threat to society. Virtual reality.

The plot of "Ready Player One" is fairly simplistic. The United States has been ravaged by climate change and widening wage gaps aided by the disappearance of the middle class have turned the United States into a third world country. The protagonist, Wade Wyatts, plays an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) for a good portion of his adolescence. The MMO or "Oasis" as it is so called is the last frontier for mankind. The last place left to be traveled and explored at one's leisure. When the games creator dies, a scavenger hunt begins to find a hidden easter egg in the game that will allow users to take over the company and gain access to the creator's fortune (Think Tron Legacy meets Willy Wonka).

While the film is intended to be a sci-fi-action adventure film, its modern context bares more sinister undertones. Today, virtual reality is being utilized on a more massive scale than ever before. Videos of VR chat streams with Ugandan knuckles are all over Youtube. Horror Games utilizing the Occulus Rift are all the rage. We even have VR pornography now. While VR might sound exciting as technology advances, consider this. VR technology is based primarily on the idea of immersion. Most VR games are simulations and in VR chat you can choose an avatar and become whoever or you want to be. But what if technology advanced to the point where your simulated reality was created by your thoughts? Furthermore, what if the technology became so advanced that it could bridge the gap between reality and simulation? This is important because as technology advances, we become less involved with one another. IMVU, Pokemon Go, Second life, VR Chat, all of them prompt us to embrace technology rather than physical interactions. If there is one thing this film can teach us, it's that talking to people and being genuine shouldn't be taken for granted as technological advancements make physical interactions more and more of a rarity.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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