Man (and Woman) on the Street

Here’s a set of interviews I did around Hofstra, asking average students whether or not they are worried about North Korea, what could happen in the next week, and how they would alleviate the situation.



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Soundslides Interview

Here is a short audio interview I made through Soundslides, featuring my friend Clarissa Suikkari, a student caller at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she is studying Architecture. Clarissa’s job is to contact UTA alumni and inform them on what is happening at the university and how they can donate or help in any way.

Soundslides Audio Interview

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Turn It Down!

We’ve all had that moment, whether it be someone is talking too loudly or you just need to shut out the world, where we turn up the volume, put our earphones in, and block the outside world for a few minutes. However, cranking up the volume may be a hidden danger to your health. New reports have come out claiming that excessive use of earphones at a high volume can cause permanent hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders recently stated that prolonged exposure to sound above 85 decibels can cause damage to hearing; earphones, at maximum volume, can reach up to 105 decibels.

While there are other things that reach high decibels in our lives, like motorcycles, lawn mowers, and power tools, we don’t usually listen to these things on a daily basis for long periods of time. Earphones, however, are stuck right in our ears as music blasts against our eardrums. Prolonged exposure to noise at such a high level on a regular basis causes hearing damage in 1 out of 8 children and teens and 1 in 6 adults, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Such damage includes partial or total hearing loss, trouble hearing high frequencies, problems focusing on certain sounds in noisy situations, or an internal ringing in the ears.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is championing the campaign to get people, especially teens and young adults, to turn down the volume. The Health Department recently released a statement saying that they wish, “to better inform and educate New Yorkers,” about hearing loss. In his 11 years in office, Bloomberg has tried to get New Yorkers to kick their unhealthy habits, like smoking, drinking giant sodas, consuming too many calories, and now, listening to their music at a high volume. He’s launching a $250,000 social media campaign (which has already raised $70,000 from an anonymous donor, according to the Wall Street Journal). The campaign will aim to warn teens about the risks of hearing loss as a result of listening to loud music through earphones.

While I’m all for living a healthy lifestyle, there are some things people just won’t change. Kids, especially teenagers, seem to have this idea that what they do now doesn’t affect their health, especially long term. While I personally try to keep the volume low, since you can’t always drown everything out, most people blast their music to the point where I can hear it over my music. While this is absurd, putting out recommendations won’t solve the problem. People are going to do what they think is best, even when they face the consequences.

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VuVox Photo Essay

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Slideroll Photo Essay

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A photo essay with my friend Kristen, a fellow dancer for Hofstra’s Spacefroot Dance Company, during our rehearsal process.

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The Kennedy’s of Yorkshire

If you were lucky enough to avoid spoilers from across the pond regarding Season 3 of Downton Abbey, then Sunday night’s finale came as quite a surprise. The sudden death of Matthew Crawley in the last 45 seconds of the episode was unexpected, and ripped the hearts out of every viewer.

Fans are up in arms, taking to Twitter to express their outrage over the season finale. While it seems no one enjoyed the end of the episode, everyone watched- over 8.2 million people tuned in, making Downton’s season 3 finale the most-watched show on PBS since Ken Burns’ 1990 ‘Civil War’ documentary series.

If you have a soul, you didn’t want any more death at Downton this season. After Lady Sybil’s untimely death in childbirth, there was enough sorrow for the entire season. However, the season finale led you on for an hour and a half, showing scenes full of joy and happiness, luring viewers into a false sense of security, save for a few hints that something might go wrong with Lady Mary’s pregnancy. But after delivering a healthy heir, all seemed well in Yorkshire.

Then the camera switched to Matthew, joyfully riding his sports car down a windy country lane. That is, until his car was hit head-on and he careened off the road, killed instantly. The final image of Lady Mary holding their newborn as Matthew lay dead and bleeding in the road left viewers with a sense of loss and despair, as if creator Julian Fellowes had personally ripped out our hearts and stomped on them.

However, all the blame can not be placed on Fellowes. Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew, had decided long ago not to return for Season 4. So the writers had no choice but to kill him off, though probably not so violently. Stevens said he is “very fond of the show,” but at the same time there is a “sense of liberation.”

Not everyone is outraged over Matthew’s demise. Some have argued that he had to die; after all, Matthew had done his job. He had produced an heir, after suffering some of the most important and plot-driving setbacks of the show; being rejected by Lady Mary, getting engaged to Lavinia Swire, being wounded in the war and paralyzed from the waist down, only to miraculously recover, losing Lavinia, finally winning Lady Mary, and struggling through all of Season 3 to produce an heir while simultaneously saving Downton from financial ruin.

Some people are taking the news of Matthew’s death harder than others. Someone is petitioning the White House to force Dan Stevens to return to the show, arguing that “Since PBS is partially funded by the US Government and US citizens tax dollars, Dan Stevens has basically committed a crime against the people of America. As a result he should be immediately deported to the UK and given a choice… either return to the show for at least another two full seasons or be permanently banished from the United States.”

While this may be taking it a bit far, we can agree that everyone was shocked and hurt by Matthew’s sudden death. While it may seem ridiculous to be this invested in a British television show (clearly you’ve never been on the Internet), the Crawley family is like a fictional version of the Kennedy’s, transplanted from Hyannis Port to Yorkshire.

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30 Seconds of Super Bowl Stardom

There are some people out there who couldn’t care less about football. However, when the Super Bowl comes around every February those same people will often sit down with everyone else and, with great pain, sit through a 2-plus hour sporting event not for the football, but for the commercials.

While we may ignore the advertisements that bombard us nearly 24/7, 365 days of the year, on Super Bowl Sunday we actually pay attention to the ads. Perhaps it’s because they hold the title of ‘Super Bowl Ad,’ along with the roughly $3.5 million dollar price tag for only 30 seconds of advertising.

Either way, if millions of viewers are all watching one channel for a few hours, any advertiser with half a brain is going to jump on the chance to squeeze in a commercial. And they want to make sure it’s a good commercial. It’s one thing to be trending on Twitter for a few minutes, and it’s another thing to have people talking about your commercial for a few days.

So what makes a good Super Bowl commercial? First of all, it needs to be interesting to everybody. Aside from the usual Go Daddy commercials, most Super Bowl ads appeal to various demographics.

Volkswagen has used a Star Wars theme the last few years, including an ad entitled “The Bark Side,” featuring dogs barking out The Imperial Death March. And of course there was last year’s ad with a child dressed as Darth Vader attempting to use The Force to start his dad’s Volkswagen.

If you don’t enjoy Star Wars, maybe you enjoy the vintage Coca-Cola ad featuring Mean Joe Green, re-imagined recently with Pittsburgh Steelers player Troy Polamalu. Or there’s the E-Trade Baby, the Budweiser Clydesdales (my personal favorite and always a tear-jerker), or the Snickers commercials featuring Betty White and other famous celebrities. If you’re weird, you probably even enjoy the creepy Apple 1984-themed commercials.

But not everyone loves Super Bowl commercials. “They’re not all they’re cracked up to be,” said a Hofstra University Economics major. Some people don’t even watch them. Freshman PR major Alyssa O’Brien remarked that, “the college years are not the years for me to be watching TV because there’s a lot to do.” Journalism major Melissa Koenig doesn’t watch anything related to the Super Bowl, saying that she “just doesn’t care.”

Regardless of whether you’re watching the game to support your team, chow down on party food, or enjoy the commercials, most of us can agree on one thing; we’re all going to sit down for Beyonce’s half time performance.

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