A Review and Analysis of Sufjan Stevens’ “Impossible Soul” That Literally Nobody Asked For

By: Alyssa Murphree, May 9, 2017

I’ll cut to the chase. This is a completely unwarranted review and analysis of a song that was released in 2010. You may be wondering how or why I’m going to write a review of a just one single song. But this is no ordinary tune. This is the nearly 25-minute spectacular that is Sufjan Stevens’ “Impossible Soul” and I’ve only now just garnered a mature enough attention span to listen to it in its entirety and ponder its meaning.

“Impossible Soul” is the final track on folk-rock, multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens’ 2010 album The Age of Adz. The song is a five-part musical epic chock full of deep, as well as catchy lyrics, wild guitar solos, the harmonizing of male and female vocalists, and some questionable, yet intriguing autotune usage. Much of Stevens’ music is autobiographical, and “Impossible Soul” is no exception. However, this song happens to provide a different experience for each listener, as each individual may have their own favorite part of the song and their own interpretation of its meaning. Music is, a very personal medium after all. Given the lyrical content though, the majority can agree that this song is Stevens’ way of reflecting on and coming to closure with a past relationship, a lover to whom he had bared his impossible soul to.

Each of the five parts have their own distinctive sound and are unique from each other, however leaving any one out could potentially alter the context of the song. They all carry each other and bring something beautiful of their own to the table. Based on my interpretation, these parts symbolize the five stages of grief, the grief Stevens experienced following the end of this intimate relationship. Grieving does not occur in linear progression, and the sequence in which they occur varies between each individual. In fact, some people may not experience every single stage. But here on “Impossible Soul”, we can observe the run of Stevens’ emotions through the different parts of the song

The first part is when Stevens and his partner are actually in the process of breaking up, the very beginning of this personal journey. We can gather that this was an unhealthy relationship for Stevens by the lyrical content that occurs in this section and throughout the song. The rhythm to this part is slow and cautious, as if Stevens is trying to gently tread his way out of this relationship. In the first few verses of the song, Stevens sings “oh woman, tell me what you want, and I’ll calm down without bleeding out, with a broken heart that you stabbed for an hour,” before stating “my beloved, you are the lover of my impossible soul.” It appears that Stevens is defensive and somewhat apologetic through this breakup, and that he feels the need to assure her of the love he did feel for her, despite how he was treated. But unfortunately, the damage was done and we can get a sense of denial, the first stage of Stevens’ grief in this part, as well as the next. “Don’t be distracted,” are the words that Stevens sings repeatedly throughout this second part, as he appears to be hyping himself up for the rocky road that is yet to come in the aftermath of this breakup.

In the third part, we garner the self-loathing that Stevens is experiencing at the very beginning of his newly single life. “Stupid man in the window, I couldn’t be at rest. All my delight, all that mattered, I couldn’t be at rest,” sings Stevens, although it is not entirely clear if the “stupid man” he is referring to is himself, or rather that he is angry at God, as he is a highly spiritual individual and many of his songs allude to that aspect of his life. This section displays the anger and depression he is experiencing in his grief. In the background of this part, we hear frantic, muffled, what seems to be yelling, which elevates the unrest that is felt in Stevens and that the listener can feel as well. The lyrics “oh I know it wasn’t safe, it wasn’t safe to breathe at all” add depth to the unsettling and emotional downward spiral he is experiencing before slowly calming down at the end of this part. “Hold on Suf, hold on Suf,” he sings to himself over and over before enthusiastically clattering into the next part.

With no time to spare, we move from the melodramatic lyrics and instrumentals right into my favorite part of “Impossible Soul”, the rousing and self-motivating part four. “It’s a long life, better pinch yourself! Put your face together, better get it right,” chants Stevens and the background vocalists in what is seriously a bonafide jam. It’s hard to imagine somebody’s emotions shifting into self-love, perseverance, and acceptance this quickly following the brutal breakup we just spent nearly half of the song listening to. From there, the remaining majority of this part is Stevens repeating the catchy mantra “it’s not so impossible!” to himself over and over with a trumpeting, infectious beat scattered between.

Just as quickly as the transition from part three to four occurred, we move into the slow, acoustic final part of “Impossible Soul”. Because this part has the ability to stand alone from the rest, it can sometimes be found individually with the title “Pleasure Principle”. Stevens tinkers on the strings of an acoustic guitar as he sings “I never meant to cause you pain, my burden is the weight of a feather. I never meant to lead you on, I only meant to please me however.” Stevens is coming to terms with the circumstances of the breakup and accepting that he played a role that led to it as well. He acknowledges that a significant factor of him remaining in the relationship for so long was for his own pleasure, his selfishness, stating that “girl, I want nothing less than pleasure” and even questioning his partner in believing that he would stay for so long with “and did you think I’d stay the night? And did you think I’d love you forever?” In this part, we hear Stevens finally accepting the course the relationship took, the final stage of grief. “Boy, we made such a mess together,” he admits to himself, as the 25 minute tale ends and softly fades away.

Business Management, and Fashion Shows: My Follow-Up Interview with Tyler Wombough

A few weeks ago I interviewed my friend Tyler Wombough about his college football career. Since then my classmates have given me some other questions to ask him in a follow-up interview. This past Monday I had the privilege to do this follow-up interview with him about both his major at DelVal and the fashion show I mentioned in the post about my last interview. He laughed when I told him what the interview was going to be about.

Rachel Lyle: What year are you?

He seemed hesitant to answer this question and seemed unsure what to say.

Tyler Wombough: I am a transfer junior

RL: Why did you choose delval?

TW: Football was big reason and the school is only 40 minutes away from my house.

RL: What is your major?

TW: My major is Business management

RL: What are some of the things you do as a business management major?

He had a confused yet thoughtful look on his face when I asked this one but finally answered with this.

TW: Well, I take a lot of management courses, a lot of marketing courses, a lot accounting courses, and a lot of small business management courses. Those are some of the courses I’ve taken after I came here.

RL: What is your favorite part about being a major? Why?

He didn’t take very long to answer this one he just went right into enthusiastically and excitedly.

TW: It’s a field I want to be in cause I want to own my business. It helps me a lot with being in tune with how I manage things, how I do my own accounting, and how I run things.

RL: What was your favorite class so far? Why?

TW: Public Speaking was my favorite class because my teacher Curtis-Beaman made it fun and I don’t mind talking in front of people.

After he said Public Speaking I said that I hated that class and then he smiled and laughed and told me why.

RL: You are on the football team and you participate as a model in the fashion show. How do you your teammates react to this? Do you ever get teased or made fun of?

He laughed a little bit when I asked this question and

TW: No, there isn’t any teasing. Mostly we just laugh it off and don’t really bring it up at all. We all kind of do our own thing when we go out on stage. (He’s not the only athlete or football player who is a model in the show.)

RL: How many years have you been a model in the fashion show?

TW: I have been in it for 2 years.

RL: Which one was your favorite so far? Why?

TW: Last year was my favorite because it was my  first year participating and all the scenes were cool and fun especially the Devils scene. (For those of you who don’t know the Devils scene was an all males scene where all of the males who participated picked a girl prior to the show who they know would be in the audience and escort her to a chair waiting for her on the stage. They would then basically seductively and sexually dance for them or on them, such a lap dance or something similar. All of the males who participated were did this at the same time and they wore no shirt or wore something that made them look sexy. We got in trouble for it one of the males took it a little too far, so we won’t be doing something like that again anytime soon.)

RL: What has been your favorite scene so far? Why?

TW: My favorite scene so far was the Devils scene last year because we each got to show off on stage and go crazy and do our own thing.

RL: Are you planning on being a model in the show again next year?

TW: I will possibly participate again next year but it depends on who is going to be doing it.

Here’s when I went in a whole new direction with the interview.

RL: You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

He rested his chin in his hand with a quizzical look on his face for this one while he contemplated his answer.

TW: I would be a Firework crayon. Every stroke a would be a different color because I’m different and I don’t mind standing out.

RL: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?

He contemplated this on for a little bit but not as long as the one about the crayon. The answer seemed to come to him a little easier for this question

TW: I would be a dog because I would have a very simple life. I would be loved by everybody, get walked a lot, wouldn’t have to clean up after myself and would get to sleep basically all day.

So that was my follow-up interview with Tyler. I discovered with this one that we have very similar answers to the last two questions. The differences being I would choose Sky Blue for the Crayon because I’m not afraid to be different but I don’t want to be in your face about it and I would be a cat because I would get to be fat and lazy and wouldn’t have to exercise and no one would care or judge me for it. I would also be allowed to sleep for like 18 hours a day and not be judged for it.

Psychology, and Penguins: An Interview With Alison Teter

I am a brother in DelVal’s chapter of the co-ed fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. In this chapter of the fraternity we have all different kinds of majors. I am an English Literature major; we have someone who is switching his major to Chemistry; we some Zoo Science majors; we have Small Animal Science majors; we have Zoology majors; we even have a couple Counseling Psychology majors. Because of this connection of being in a co-ed fraternity and being friends with people of other majors, this past Monday I had he wonderful privilege to have an interview with Alison Teter, a counseling psychology major at Delaware Valley University. I got to interview her about being a Psychology major.

Rachel Lyle: What year are you?

Alison Teter: I am a junior.

RL: Why did you choose DelVal?

She was very enthusiastic when she answered this one.

AT: My favorite teacher in high school, my animal science teacher, was a big influence on me. She is alumni from DelVal. I went a tech school and she brought our class here for a tour because the animal science aspect is a big thing here at DelVal. I looked at other schools for the interdisciplinary aspect between Small Animal Science and Counseling Psychology but I only really found it here at DelVal.

RL: What is your major?

AT: I was originally a dual major in Counseling Psychology and Small Animal Science, but that was way too much; so now I’m a Counseling Psychology major with a minor in Small Animal Science.

RL: Why did you decide to become a counseling psych and a major?

AT: Well, um, in high school I figured out I wanted to go into Psychology. I thought was going to be a vet. According to my family my first word was dog but I don’t know if that’s actually true. When I went to tech school I shadowed a lot of Vets but I decided after that I did want to be a vet. I also have many friends with mental health issues who were hospitalized because of attempts of suicide. I was horrible to watch them and to feel so helpless. I decided that never again would I let that happen. I was original a dual major but I was not fulfilling the credit requirement for Small Animal Science. I realized that animals help me to be happy when I’m having a bad day and when I was in high school my teachers noticed and would often do things like let me hang out in the kitten room and do my homework and other similar things. Because of this I changed to Small Animal Science to a minor and I want to go into Animal Assistant Therapy.

RL: What are some of the things you do as a Psych major?

She seemed like she didn’t really know how to answer this oneat first but then she dove right in and answered with a smile on her face.

AT: I go to class. I’m doing student research as a follow up of one of the projects I did. I do a lot of learning and practicing. Psych labs are more often practicing skills of psychology rather than just doing experiments. It’s pretty fun but often it’s terrifying because of the fact that these things can be a defining moment to my career. I do a lot of learning of theories, and a lot of research. I also do introspection; one of my teacher taught me a saying, counselor known they self, it sounds silly but it’s true because if you don’t know your own weakness and strengths your not gonna do a good job of helping others with theirs.

RL:What do you enjoy the most about your major? Why?

AT: The thing I enjoy the most are the professors. They’re just really great people to put it in plain language. They’re open, and so kind.It’s unbelievable that they can be so patient, understanding, and encouraging. I have one professor, who I don’t know how he puts up with me, he is so patient. They also clearly know what their doing.

RL: What has been your favorite class so far? Why?

AT: I don’t know how to answer this because half of my classes have been my favorite class so far. Women’s Lit was great because I love Professor McCal and I loved the material. I just loved the material and the professors in like all of my classes. I love Small Animal Management because I love the material and I love the teacher. I saw her earlier today with some of my friends and she was making fun of music choices because of our pop music and how she can show us what good music is. I loved Multicultural Issues with Dr. Irving because I loved her and I loved how she taught us to think about hard topics. I loved Abnormal Psych because I love Dr. Muchler and learning about Disorders in the DSM and detail oriented it is and how to deal with them.

Here is where I took the interview in a completely different direction.

RL: If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?

She was hesitant on answering this one, and she answered it thoughtfully.

AT:If I were to get rid of one state in the U.S. I think it would be Rhode island because it’s the smallest state and the country would least effected by taking such a small amount of land out of it. Whereas if go rid of a stare like Wyoming here would be a space in the middle of the U.S., a big gaping hole in the middle of the country that would disorienting. I also don’t think people realize that Rhode Island exists.

RL: A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

She laughed as she answered this one.

AT: He doesn’t say anything because he is a penguin and he is not capable of speech, and because Charline stole him from the zoo for that party she was planning and lost him. (For those of you who don’t know Charline is another brother in the fraternity who is basically obsessed with penguins.)

So that was my interview with Alison Teter. We had a lot of and we laughed quite a bit.

My Rant On Teaching Consent and the Sex Before Marriage Debate

By Taylor Blasko

So this blog is a direct response to an article that one of my friends shared on Facebook entitled, “She Only Said ‘Yes’ Once.” Here is the link to the blog to make it clearer for you what I’m about to talk about: http://foreverymom.com/marriage/she-only-said-yes-once-reggie-osborne/

This blog basically says that society has ruined what sex is “supposed” to be and puts people who wait to have sex before marriage on a pedestal. Because of course they’re the ones that are doing it the right way. As the title suggests, it also says that if you wait to have sex until marriage you only say “yes” once. But do you? I think saying that implies some very dangerous things that should not be applied to twenty first century society. I thought we moved past the idea of the 1950’s where women were merely property? Didn’t you? It seems not….

The article talks about how the answer was always “no” in his heart and in his then girlfriend’s heart to sleeping together. Which is fine, I’m not saying that’s not a choice that nobody is allowed to make. If you truly feel like you don’t want to have sex before marriage for a religious or otherwise personal reason, more power to ya. But this blog then goes on to say that once him and his wife said “yes” at the altar in front of god, “She has never had to say it again.  She said “yes” only once.  She meant it to last.  I meant it to last.  It has lasted fourteen years.  It will remain in effect until death parts us.”

Okay, does that sound all sentimental and cute if you don’t give it a second thought. Maybe, I’ll admit it. But what are you really saying? Are you saying that she only had to give her consent once? One time? And then what? After that ONE time of consent you automatically own her now? She is never allowed to say no again? The whole base of this article basically alludes to the fact that we don’t need to teach people what consent is…because people shouldn’t be having sex before marriage (which that’s in your Christian-ideals world of practicing abstinence, but not everyone is Christian, sorry).

And the blog gives off the feeling that our media has “ruined” sex. Which, I’m not going to sit here and argue that the media hasn’t sexualized and objectified women specifically and done some pretty horrible things within the industry, but you can’t say it was ruined. In the blog the author implies that things used to be fine…you know, when everyone practiced abstinence because if you didn’t you would be stoned or humiliated to death. Do you really think though that this meant that people didn’t have sex before marriage? Because news flash, they did, they just had to cover it up because it was unacceptable in society. Is that the society you want back? The one where everyone needed to be super secretive about being sexual beings and we all had to pretend that we were never once horny in our lives? Yea, that’s super realistic. Oh, or the one where women had no say in their bodies and the man could just impregnate her because she wasn’t allowed access to birth control. Oh okay, that one.

But anyway, back to what I was saying about consent, just because she says yes at the altar doesn’t mean she isn’t going to come home from work exhausted and irritated and snippy. Each person in a relationship is allowed to have feelings. Including those of irritation and anger. If she is in this mood maybe she doesn’t want to have sex. But do you just imagine that you own her now and since she said yes once that that means she has to say yes every time? This is the problem. You sir are part of the problem with why it’s so hard for people to wrap their heads around consent. If I’m in a situation of a sexual encounter I’m allowed to say I don’t want sex. I’m allowed to not engage in sexual acts at all. I’m allowed to start engaging and change my mind and withdraw my consent. So are you. Nobody is obligated to have sex because they said they would that one time. WHAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT??!?!? I don’t need to want sex every second of every day of my life. And I especially shouldn’t be forced to want sex every second of every day that the person that wants to have sex with me want to have sex. Period. Consent is ongoing. It doesn’t stop being a question or an issue even if you do wait to have sex until after marriage and even if you only ever have sex with one partner. Every single sexual encounter still requires there to be consent from both parties to continue. Whether I’m married to you or not.

You claim that asking for consent isn’t romantic, “Somehow that seemed extraordinarily out of place to this young man, that one would have to pause the progression of an intimate encounter to ask, over and over again, “May I do this now?” Those aren’t exactly words of passion and romance, are they?” But okay, I’m SOOOO sorry that my need for safety and safe spaces is ruining your sexy time. I’m so fucking sorry. You talk about this in terms of teaching a class consent and coming up with less direct and awkward ways of asking for consent, “They wanted to come up with a way of asking, ‘Can I do this to you now?’ without actually sounding like an alien from another planet.  Many of their suggestions were too vague or nonspecific, but finally they settled on one that they could all agree on. Two simple words: ‘You good?'” Which, okay I’m going to ignore the fact that we have this idea in our heads that boys need to ask permission to “do things to girls,” because it shouldn’t be men manipulating women, sex should be an act of enjoyment together, not manipulation. But anyway, this is fine I feel. If you want to ask for consent you can ask, “You good?” but I think there needs to be boundaries beforehand that layout what that question really means, or even in the moment make it clear that you are asking if they are comfortable with what is happening.

But then you go and debase this whole idea that we should teach consent to teenagers and say, “The answer is no.  I’m not good.  You’re not good.  None of this is good.  This is not what sex is for.  This is not what love is for.  We’ve ruined it. Sex has become so detached from anything meaningful, personal, and private.” Oh okay, so we should just get rid of consent, we should allow men to do whatever they want to women as long as they wife them up first. Kay, got it. And this kind of ties back to my previous blog about gender norms and husband hunting. If you’re really just going out to find someone that fits the “husband mold” so that you can finally marry them and lose your virginity without even getting to know them, you should probably rethink your decisions. Are you doing this because this is what you truly want? Are you doing this because your parents have told you time and time again that this is the way you have to do it? Are you doing this because you (rightfully so) want to experiment and learn about your own body but you have no way of doing so unless you actually marry someone and commit your whole life to them first?

And again, why do we try to hide the fact that humans are mammals and are therefore sexual beings? It’s not wrong to want to experiment or learn about your own body. It’s not. And we need to stop teaching young adults that it is.

Interview with Editor of The Gleaner

By Taylor Blasko

I got to sit down with the editor of DelVal’s literary journal. If you all didn’t know, recently there was a gala for The Gleaner hosted on April 12th over in the Life Science Building. It did a great job of showcasing and having this year’s issue  make a debut to the public. I think the issue turned out really awesome and I wanted to sit down with the editor and find out more what went into making this year such a success. The editor for this year’s issue was Katelyn Lucas, a graduating senior this year.

 

Taylor: Can you tell me a little bit about what The Gleaner is?

Katelyn: The Gleaner is Delaware Valley University’s literary journal. We accept poetry, prose, photography, and artwork from undergraduate students at DelVal and other universities. We also host a film competition at our gala each year, which we accept both high school and undergraduate submissions for. We pick a winner and they get announced at the gala and get a cash prize. We also do a high school writing competition where the winners are the ones that get showcased in the issue. The goal of The Gleaner is to showcase undergraduate publications and expand writing among the college student community.

Taylor: What was the theme of this year’s Gleaner?

Katelyn: The theme of this year’s Gleaner was “What Keeps You Up At Night?” In the past we have gone with one word themes that have been pretty broad, but this year was unique in that we asked a pointed question.

Taylor: What kind of material was submitted for this broad/interpretable theme?

Katelyn: Like I was saying, because of the fact that we asked a question this year we got a lot of poetry and prose directly asking that question, some pieces even incorporated the exact words, “What Keeps You Up At Night?” into their pieces. A lot of the photography and artwork that was submitted was on the darker/shadowy side but overall I was pleasantly surprised with the array of ideas for photography/artwork. My two personal favorite photos that were submitted this year were titled “Paper Top, Rock Bottom” and “Nope. Thank you :).” Go check them out.

Taylor: Talk to me about the layout and design process of this year’s issue.

Katelyn: This issues concept was based off of the Rorschach test. We were going for a psychological type approach to the layout with this in mind which is why we did ink blots and the black and white theme throughout the issue.

Taylor: What was the hardest part about this issue?

Katelyn: We are always on a time crunch to put all the works in so editing always seems rushed. Once everything is put into InDesign there is a short period of time that we have to make sure that there are no typos in everyone’s pieces. One specific challenge of this year was making sure that InDesign wasn’t cutting off the text at the bottom of pages and eating up full chunks of people’s stories/poems.

Taylor: What is your favorite part about this issue?

Katelyn: Can I say my favorite part was that it all turned out well? Like basically this issue was my favorite issue design and layout wise and I think it turned out really well.

Taylor: What, if anything, would you have done differently?

Katelyn: Maybe we should have advertised the film competition better because we didn’t get that many submissions for the film competition.

Taylor: How did the gala go?

Katelyn: I think it went well. The rooms that we set up turned out really well I think and I’m really glad that people engaged in the Rorschach test room where we had a scavenger hunt type game set up where people had to look through the issue and find certain sentences in works or parts of pictures in the photography/artwork section.

Taylor: Have you decided on a theme for next year’s issue (2017/18)?

Katelyn: Yea, we have. The next issues theme will be “Where are you going? Where have you been?” Sticking with the idea of asking a question for a theme was the consensus.

 

Overall, it was really obvious that Katelyn was super pleased with how this issue turned out. I think the whole time she was talking about it I could tell she was happy to end her college career, and her career being a part of The Gleaner, with this issue that she is so proud of and put the most work into out of anyone else involved. So for those of you that write out there. Where are you going? Where have you been? Tell The Gleaner, they want to know. Submit for next year’s issue everyone!!

YouTube Success 101: Don’t Be a Terrible Parent

By: Alyssa Murphree, April 26, 2017

Last week on his show, Youtuber Phillip DeFranco opened up a can of worms that would leave the Youtube community, the internet, and the media up in arms. In the initial segment that appeared on The Phillip DeFranco Show, he accuses the channel DaddyOFive, a family prank channel, of abusing their children.

The “pranks”, include parents Mike and Heather Martin of Baltimore, Maryland accusing and punishing their kids for things they didn’t do, staging a home intrusion, and breaking their kids belongings, among others. These things sound bad enough on their own, but there are many other red flags within the videos that are out of context with the pranks themselves and involve the welfare of the children. DeFranco includes clips from some of their videos for his segment, which include the kids being hit and yelled at by their parents, hit by each other, and gaslit by their parents.

The last prank video that DaddyOFive uploaded which caused this uproar consisted of the parents spilling ink on the floor and blaming their youngest son, Cody for it. However, their version of “blaming” him is them swearing and yelling at him at the top of their lungs. Cody is in very obvious distress during this, even after his father concludes by telling Cody “it’s just a prank bruh”. I can safely say that I am not the only person who was made uncomfortable watching this video and I am glad that these parents are receiving this negative attention for their “humorous” “prank” videos.

DeFranco’s video quickly circulated the internet and it didn’t take long for major media outlets to pick up this story and for investigations on the family to commence. In fact, it has been stated that Child Protective Services have been called to the family’s home previously, but were unaware of the videos. Now that they are under more intense public scrutiny, the family is undergoing a more thorough investigation for child abuse.

Not only is the blatant abuse of their children unsettling to watch, but the fact that these parents continue to upload videos because they actually have a fan base is equally disturbing. DeFranco has said that he has come across people defending the actions of the Martins. As for the family themselves, they have uploaded a series of defensive videos following the accusations. In the first one, they are gathered in the kitchen with all of their kids and the parents ask them if they are traumatized, to which the kids unanimously replied “no”. Those in defense of the family now believe they have fodder for their argument but anybody who is familiar with the dynamics of an abusive household know that disagreeing with an abuser usually doesn’t work out in your favor, which is why the kids are siding with their parents. The big theme here for this family is gaslighting, which is a form of psychological manipulation used to make the victim believe they are wrong and the abuser is right. But emotional abuse isn’t the only occurrence in these prank videos, there are multiple accounts of physical abuse as well, such as one incident where Mike pushes Cody headfirst into a bookshelf, giving him a bloody nose.

“Apparently, a lot of people don’t get it, don’t see the humor in it”, states Mike in the first follow up video, titled Blocking all the Haters! You are correct sir. Quite a lot of people don’t see the humor in watching your kids scream in distress while you exploit them for video views and sponsorships. Not to mention how twisted it is to refer to people as your “haters” for expressing concern over the wellbeing of your children.

But this story is far from over. Following the initial Phillip DeFranco video, Mike and Heather are interviewed by another YouTuber where they tell them that their pranks are staged and that the kids’ reactions are “slightly exaggerated”. After that video though, the backlash didn’t stop, as you could imagine, and they ended up deleting every video from their channel except for one new video. This video, titled Family Destroyed Over False Accusations consists of the parents explaining in a defensive tone that their videos are fake and that the kids are willing participants.

The last time we have heard from the Martin family was last Saturday. They deleted their previous video and uploaded a new one in its place called DaddyOFive Founders Issue Public Apology. This video displays a completely tone than what we’ve ever seen from Mike and Heather Martin. They are teary eyed and apologetic as they take responsibility for their actions and acknowledge the bad parenting decisions they have made. They also tell us that they’ve hired a crisis public relations agent and are in family counseling to deal with the situation.

I have been following this story since the beginning because I have always found the power of social media to be incredibly remarkable and powerful. It’s interesting to witness many people finding themselves and successful careers out of a single upload or channel. On the other end of the spectrum though, sometimes that power can be taken out of hand and used improperly, as we have seen here. I’ve always respected Phillip DeFranco as a content creator due to his level-headed demeanor and honest response to a wide range of subject matter. I think it was important for him to shed light on this channel. With this story still developing and the DaddyOFive channel’s videos deleted, I hope we can all see a happy ending with justice for these kids.

Phillip DeFranco’s video that started it all:

Undergrowth – A Brief Story

by Brandon Eckerd

Deep within the undergrowth, beneath the starry sky and full moon, a small white rat shifts through the forest floor. The heat of the tropical sun still radiated off the damp leaves. His whiskers twitch as they brush against fallen logs and mossy stones. The thin-tailed rat lifts his head, catching the scent of his destination on the wind. He sidles up next to a fallen log as he runs, feeling the safety of cover at his side. The sudden crack of a breaking branch behind him causes him to freeze. For over a tense minute he waits, pressed against the log. There is no more signs of movement. He sniffs the air again, mouth watering at the scent of fallen fruit.

The faint glow of dawn pierces the forest as he arrived at the base of a great tree. Scattered across the ground are plump, green fruit. He grabs on and stuffs it in his cheeks. Another white rat appears next to him, grabbing another fruit. The rat has a notched ear and thick tail. He knows this rat from ten burrows past his own under the fallen palm tree. Red eyes stare back into red. They brush whiskers and touch noses. Feelings pass between them: familiarity, comfort, concern and hope. Together they gather the fruit, stuffing what they can in their cheeks and carrying the rest between their teeth. The thin-tailed rat follows behind the notched-eared rat as they scurry back into the undergrowth.

They track the rat scent across the leaves, logs and stones. They stay close to each other and even closer to cover. It is safer this way. From under a log appears another white rat. She stares at them with her only eye and reveals a mouth full of crickets. She falls in line behind the thin-tailed rat. Sunlight is now pouring through gaps in the canopy, heating the forest floor. They squint their red eyes as they pass through the rays.

The notched-eared rat stops and sniffs the air. The other two rats mimic his action. Under the pervasive smell of wet mold and rotting wood is another scent. The scent grows stronger. It is the scent of fear and dismay. The rats panic. Falling out of line, they dash towards the nearest cover. There is a burrow beneath a large rock in a patch of sunlight a couple meters away. The thin-tailed rat sees it and dashes for it. The notched-eared rat drops the fruit in his teeth and bites the thin-tailed rat, dragging him back and jumping over him. The thin-tailed rat squeals in pain on the ground while the one-eyed rat sniffs him with concern.

The notched-eared rat reaches the stone and dives for the burrow. From the burrow there is a flash of pink and brown. The rat attempts to turn around but stumbles on the wet leaves. He feels warmth and pain. Rows of hooked teeth dig past his fur and skin and into his bones. He lets out a desperate squeak, but the other two rats are long gone. Thick brown coils wrap around him as he is dragged beneath the stone. He lets out a gasp of breath but finds himself unable to inhale. Struggling only hastens the process as the scaled behemoth crushes his vessels. Blood is dammed in his veins. His eyes bulge, his whiskers twitch and his heart stops.

The thin-tailed and one-eyed rats scurry past the constricting python. Dashing across the leaf litter, they find a communal burrow. They scamper inside, pulse racing and whiskers twitching. They have survived yet another night.

Lakebed Leviathans

by Brandon Eckerd

When you are a kid growing up around the lakes and rivers of eastern Pennsylvania, there is one creature that dwarfs all other life. These colossal animals can grow up to 40 pounds and to the size of a hubcap, if not larger. Their jaws can snap branches and bone like balsa wood. They are camouflaged giants, hiding among the weeds and much of the lakebed. The can snap fishing line, bend hooks and lives for decades. They are the common snapping turtles: Pennsylvania’s resident leviathans.

The common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is one of two extant snapping turtle species. They are almost fully aquatic, only coming onto land to lay eggs, scavenge on carrion or move between waterways. They have a long neck used to grab air from the surface while keeping the rest of their bodies submerged. Snapping turtles are primarily carnivorous, feeding on fish, frogs, even smaller turtles. However, these river giants find carrion irresistible. A dead deer next to a waterway may have multiple snapping turtles feeding on it. They start their life about the size of a half-dollar, but can grow to great sizes over their decades long lifespan.

Everyone has their own “giant snapper story.” Most of them involve a surprise spotting at the park or accidentally snagging one while fishing. They talk about the turtles being the size of a trashcan lid or with a head bigger than a softball. These are generally gross exaggerations; it is rare for a turtle to surpass 25 pounds these days. I have my own snapper story that might live up to these common hyperboles.

I was walking along the Lehigh canal one summer afternoon. The canal has a booming slider population originating from released pets. During these late summer days, plant growth overruns the canal. Duckweed and lilies obscure the depths from the naked eye. I have always been drawn to waterways due to the multitude of animals that inhabit them, so I was walking as close to the shore as possible in search of frogs and snakes.

I saw it initially out of the corner of my eye: the movement of lilies and rippling of water. A large, brown head emerged from between the surface vegetation. Two ancient eyes stared me down, the hooked edge of its beak barely visible. Its tremendous head had to be the size of a football. It’s shell was colossal, adorn with its own plant growth and aquatic inhabitants. Algae tinted the turtle’s skin green. The reptile looked like a piece of the waterway had became sentient, separated itself from the riverbed and pulling its mammoth body towards the surface. It blinked once, took a deep breath, and submerged into the murky depths below.
Ever since that encounter, I have been enamored with these animals. Snapping turtles are Pennsylvania’s largest reptile and demand tremendous respect. A bite from these animals can easily break finger bones and lacerate your skin. They have been a part of our lakes and rivers long before any human had stepped into Pennsylvania. They are among the last species of an ancient lineage; one that has earned my own admiration and hopefully a greater appreciation from everyone who has encountered their own lakebed leviathan.

School Event: Track Meet 4/22

by: Alyssa Ruffolo

I am a member of the track and field team here at Delval. I love running, as you may have picked up on if you have read any of my previous blogs. I have run distance/cross country since high school, and as a transfer this is my first semester running for Delval’s team. So far I have really enjoyed my experience. I have made many friends on the team and everyone has been so welcoming and kind to me. Coach Moreno is a fantastic coach; he is encouraging, helpful, and extremely knowledgeable .

This Saturday, April 22, we had a meet at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania. This was a smaller meet with only a handful of teams present. I woke up to my alarm going off at 5:45am Saturday morning. I was pretty tired because I had worked the previous night at my serving job. I rolled out of bed, ate breakfast, packed up my bag and headed over to Delval (I’m a commuter). The bus was scheduled to leave at 7am, and I made it just in time. I sat next to my friend Rachel and read a book while she slept for the two-hour bus ride. Once we arrived, the weather was pretty miserable. It was cold and rainy as we trudged our equipment and tent up to the bleachers to set up. Once the tent was up, we huddled under it to stay out of the rain and cheered on our first runner as he defeated the 10k race. About an hour or two passed before Rachel and I had to start warming up for our first event, the 1500. A mile is 1600, so the 1500 is basically just a little less than a mile race. I thoroughly enjoy this race because this is considered a shorter distance for someone like me who usually runs the 5k (3.1 miles). The 1500 is a challenge because it is just under four laps, which doesn’t give you much time to catch up if you fall behind. I started to get nervous as we did our warm-ups, laced up our spikes, and did a few practice striders by the start line. Before I knew it, Rachel and I were at the start and the gun was going off. Breaking out of the crowd and finding lane 1 is always a challenge; you do not want to get spiked by another runner’s shoes. Once I found lane 1 I began to settle into a pace. One thing I personally dislike about track is that everyone is watching you… the whole time. In cross country, much of the races are run int he woods and so the runner has a chance to relax and really focus inside her/his head. On a track, however, the entire time all I hear is people yelling and cheering and this tends to make me stressed/nervous. I finished the race at a slower time than I would have liked. I have to admit I was pretty disappointed in my performance. I was having some trouble breathing, so I used my inhaler a few times and cooled down/stretched as to prepare for my next race, the 5k. The 5k is much more of a challenge for me because it is longer, 12 laps around the track to be more precise. I always get the most nervous for this race because much more strategy is involved than the 1500. Rachel was not running this race, so it was all me. Long story short, I also did not perform my best for this race. I suspect I may have been a bit dehydrated, because I was extremely light-headed coming off the track once I was finished. This was a disappointing meet for me personally, but as a team we did well. While many Delval students were enjoying the festivities of A-Day, we were dedicated and came out for this meet and that makes me proud of our team. We left around 5-5:30pm, and after unloading the bus back at Delval and driving home, I arrived back at my house around 8pm. It was a long day, but I have to say looking at my GPS watch and seeing that I completed a total of 12 miles yesterday felt pretty amazing/accompished.

If you have ever considered joining a team or club here at Delval but are hesitant, I highly recommend you give it a shot. I was very nervous joining the team late in the season and without knowing a single person. I am pretty outgoing myself, but it is hard to join a team when everyone already knows each other and has been practicing together months, possibly years. I am so happy that I sucked it up and starting going to practices because I have made some pretty great friends already. Naturally we as humans like to feel part of a group. It is so refreshing to spend even an hour or two a day with a group of people who enjoy exactly the same hobbies as you (i.e sports, clubs, activities, etc.). I am so thankful that Coach Moreno was so welcoming and easy to communicate with in the process of getting signed up for the team. If you ever want to check out a track meet, (we don’t always compete as far as Misericordia) our schedule is available online at delval.edu – as well as the other sports teams – feel free to come out and support!!

Something to Think About: the Word “Asian”

by: Alyssa Ruffolo

There are many words which we have now eliminated or at least deemed unacceptable in our ever-changing vocabulary here in the United States. Words such as retarded, queer, and gay all once meant something different than they do now. There are also offensive words for probably every ethnicity and race that exists in the United States, which we are encouraged by society not to use for pretty obvious reasons. The next word that needs to go is the word “Asian.”

Lets take a moment to define this word. When we use this word, many Americans think immediately of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and maybe Korean people. Most likely our minds jump right to these nations in particular because the United States has close relations with or has immediately been affected by them in some way. In reality, the word “Asian” encompasses the citizens of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen (http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/asia-resources/). That’s quite a few nations! Areas considered Asian occupy a total of 30 percent of the Earth’s land, and the people make up a whopping 60 percent of the world’s population! Doesn’t it seem a bit stereotypical when we group all of these people together as one race, “Asian”? Or maybe it’s just ignorant.

Either way, this word Asian is such an umbrella term that it basically has no meaning. The cultures and traditions of these nations vary greatly. We need to respect these people and start referring to them by the nation they come from. This requires us to become more educated about other nations and countries besides the ones belonging to the continent of Europe. We are very knowledgeable about Germany, France, and Great Britain, but what do we know about India? What do we know about the Mongolian Conquest and other extremely influential events that have occurred anywhere else in the world besides the United States or a war the U.S. was involved in? Our grade school education is too narrow and that is why we have ignorance. Perhaps next time you find yourself in a situation where you want to use the word “Asian,” maybe take an extra minute to discover where that person is truly from — just something to think about. Let’s move away from ignorance and start truly respecting other nations/cultures.