Pierce Pioneer

Citizens in American concentration camps

Japanese Americans in Tacoma, WA were thriving since before WWII, and on Dec. 7, 1941, the idea of their citizenship changed. US navy base Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack was bombed by the Japanese navy air service. Afterwards, Japanese American citizens were looked upon differently.

“US citizens were among the first in the country to be forced from their homes with only the baggage they could carry,” the Tacoma History blog stated.

Any day starts as routine for anyone, until there is a knock at the door that will change life and perspective forever. Perhaps more importantly is the understanding that when speaking of American citizens, only a certain people come to mind at first.

I recently read “We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration,” written by Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura. The experience was bittersweet in a sense because I love learning history but am aware that it’s sometimes ugly.

The book is a graphic novel which is excellently done, and I would invite anyone to read and go as far to say it was a great way to communicate history. However, this is not a review. What I am writing now is more a reflection on the occurrences and hoping to find out if the United States has learned something from the experience.

The graphic novel, like its title adheres to, reveals the struggle of Japanese Americans during WWII. The story covers the experiences of three people, Jim Akutsu, Hiroshi Kashiwagi and Mitsuye Endo. Each had difficult choices to make during their incarceration but raised questions of what citizenship actually is for someone who immigrated to the states.

Tacoma history has shown that Japanese people have been immigrating to the US since the 1880s. Through the 1940s a Japantown in downtown Tacoma was formed and was blossoming. Today, other than the Gerard Tsutakawa’s Maru sculpture close to University of Washington Tacoma, there is nearly no evidence of a once buzzing and vibrant Japantown.

There were hotels, barbers, dry cleaners, laundries, Japanese newspaper offices, restaurants, temples, churches, produce stands, import shops and a Japanese-language school. The town stretched from 17th Street near Union Station north to 11th street and from Pacific Avenue west to Market Street.

I have lived in Tacoma for almost two decades and have been downtown many times and have never seen a trace of Japantown. I will admit that I was never really looking for one and have not tried to acknowledge there was one. The main reason is not because of a desire to not see one, but merely because I had no idea there ever was one.      

“There is no Japanese American neighborhood here now and that is one of the many incalculable costs of the Nikkei wartime incarceration,” Nimura stated in a blog on Discover Nikkei.

In 1942, 900 Japanese Tacomans were loaded onto a train headed to Pinedale Assembly Facility near Fresno Calif. Later, the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup was converted into an internment camp for Japanese Americans from Seattle and Alaska.

During this time, Japanese men were being enlisted into the military to prove their loyalty to the US. Akutsu, Seattle born and native, refused to be drafted to the army when he was classified as a non-citizen and an enemy alien. He saw he had no obligation to serve and was imprisoned at McNeil Island Penitentiary.

Adults were given a questionnaire that became known as the “loyalty questionnaire,” meant for recruiting to the armed forces. Kashiwagi, born in Calif. was defined as a “disloyal” for refusing to answer. He renounced his US citizenship because answering yes or no, would be admitting allegiance to the Emperor of Japan.

Endo was the plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit which led to the ultimate closing of the concentration camps in 1945. She was sent with her family to the Tule Lake, Calif. concentration camp after being dismissed from employment. Along with 63 other employees she challenged the firings with the aid of JACL and their lawyer James C. Purcell.

Akutsu is a vocal critic of the Japanese American Citizens League and now lives in Seattle. Kashiwagi died in 2019 but became a poet, playwright, actor, author and known as a pioneer of Asian American Theatre. Endo resettled in Chicago and took a position as secretary for the Mayor’s Committee of Race relations and later died in 2006.

Perhaps their struggles are highlighted in history. The reality is the struggles are shared by a community of people who were either born in the US or had established a life here.

American citizens were incarcerated. American citizens were forced to renounce citizenship. American citizens were robbed of their life and dignity.

“For the sake of my daughters,” Nimura stated, “I have to believe that a deeper sense of empathy for all of our histories is possible.”

The legends and history of mount rainier

Standing at 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is one of Washington State’s natural treasures and iconic landscapes. The glacial peak is an active volcano, but thriving with wildlife, an aged forest, rivers, missing hikers, hidden dangers, history and even legends.

“Mount Rainier National Park is part of the traditional lands of indigenous people who have been here for generations,” the National Park website stated. “We learn from their example of stewardship and respect for the land.”

From Native American tribes, world explorers, tourists, industrialism, the Great Depression, WWII and picnicking families, all have visited the iconic landscape. Mount Rainier has seen people and times of all kinds. At first glance when visiting the park, the land begins to articulate the tales of its life and the enchantment ensues.

The Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin, Island and Yakama were some of the native tribes who presided over the mountain. Archeologists have discovered that the ancestors of these tribes would hunt seasonally and gather resources like medicinal plants and berries. For thousands of years the native people were living on and traveling to Mount Rainier.

A native American guide named Sluiskin in 1833 led a party of European settlers to the mountain and was concerned with their intention of climbing. The concern was due to the belief that a malevolent spirit lived at the lake of fire on the summit.

The tribes knew the stories of the volcano and never climbed past the snowline. Mount Rainier and other volcanoes, according to their stories, had romantic relationships with each other. The natives considered them deities who were vengeful and erratic with their love affairs and each having an evil spirit at their peaks.   

The mountain was known to the tribes as Talol, Takoma or Tahoma, meaning “mother of waters,” or “snow-covered mountain.” Yet another possible meaning is “larger than mount baker.” The current name was given by George Vancouver, who named it Rainier in honor of his friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier in 1792.

In 1899, various businesses, scientists and mountaineers came together to establish a park around Mount Rainier, thus making it the nation’s fifth national park. When agriculture, grazing and mining on the mountain met with difficulties, the interest shifted toward tourism and study of the glacial terrain. Even after the opening of the park the mountain remained important to the native people.

Many changes began to be seen at the mountain once the park opened. By 1930 roads were being built and surveyed, and The Paradise Inn was opened with plans to develop the Sunrise Day Lodge. All the changes brought about debate to how much of the area should be developed or left as wilderness.

During the Great Depression, the park started to try and add more attractions. Visitation to the park was down even after a nine-hole golf course, a new area at the Sunrise and plans for a ski lift were being added. With visitors still dwindling, the park received funding from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” for improvements to campgrounds, trails and forest fire protection.

During WWII the park saw little visitors and was instead used as a training ground for the 10th Mountain Division, who were known as skier soldiers, with a unique style of combat. After the war the focus for an increase in visitors to the park started.

In the mid-1950s the federal government started a project called Mission 66 and were seeking to upgrade national parks nationwide. Mount Rainier would be the first to get development under the new program and served as an example to various national trends.

Since the opening of the park, there have been millions of people who have visited and almost half a million people have attempted a climb to the summit. The mountain is used in many different ways recreationally and certain areas have been zoned for those purposes. 98% of the park was designated as wilderness by the Washington Wilderness Act of 1988 and there has been an effort to understand and protect the natural resources.

Historically the mountain has been significant to many people, whether native or otherwise. A lot of changes, views and meaning of the mountain have shifted since the start, but with all the increase in use can the park remain standing for more generations to enjoy?

“If the past history is any guide,” the park website stated, “The park will adapt to new challenges and continue to preserve the mountain as a place of wonder.” 

Highs and lows of quarantined mental health

Students have had their share of mental ups and downs during quarantine and though some saw the lockdown optimistically others weren’t so sure how to feel.

Having an extrovert or introvert personality had an impact on the mental stability of students as they managed schedules, family, friends, work and solitude. 

“It’s a rollercoaster, where it kind of depends on what I am thinking about,” said Zakariah Swanson ASPCP president of Puyallup student life. “If I can look at the silver lining or not.” 

College life is never really stress free even for the “best” student. There are students that are faced with more than just the usual issues and have added strain due to already having underlying mental health concerns.

“Every day felt like bricks on my chest, the amount of stress I felt,” said Vanessa Garcia, student engagement coordinator. 

Garcia was candid and revealed she has Asperger’s Syndrome and told of the difficulty she was faced with during the pandemic. She also said her favorite part about the quarantine was getting to wear sweatpants for events.

Some students looked at what was lost but also looked at what could be gained. Still the longer it went on the more tiring and the less motivated students were to put up with the status quo.

“The pandemic amplified my mental health,” said Nathan Haueter, student organizations coordinator. “When I was doing really good it made it even better and when I was doing bad it made it worse.”

Finding a solution to manage the highs and lows of mental health seems to rely on relationships and being around people for the motivation to do good. Not having the usual net of people around has made the pandemic more difficult for some students while others were able to stay motivated.

“Celebrate small victories,” said Madison Rannow, vice president of student organizations, commenting on what she would likely tell her past self before the pandemic.

Looking back, many students will have learned many different lessons through diverse struggles, each as hard in its own way as the other. The world turned small for students, both foreign and domestic and all the possibilities that once were within reach were somehow taken and placed a little further out of reach.

Equity Diversity and Inclusion Senator Jessica Xu, finds having an adaptive mentality to be beneficial. Being an international student who has not been able to go home in over a year has built frustration, especially not being able to have family around as a support system.

For some students, the pandemic felt easy at first but harder as it went on. Time out of school kept expanding and became more strenuous. Along the way most students learned to not be hard on themselves and found a way to thrive in the midst of this moment in history.  

“I got used to it and got into a system where my mental health is not based on the circumstances, but on what I decide it to be,” said Karen Nunex-Michel, vice president of activities board.

 


Summer elevating wildfire concerns

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources and their partners are taking measures to urge Washingtonians to take proper precaution against wildfires. The caution is being led by raising fire danger ratings and making Washingtonians aware the danger could have a longer reach this summer.

“This is no longer just an eastern Washington issue,” said Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “Wherever you live in Washington State you are at risk of wildfires.”

In the month of April, the state had over 220 wildfires in comparison to last April with 160. According to the DNR, 80%-90% of fires are caused by people.

As the statewide drought continues, the more rapid the fire season timelines progress. Practicing safety and care to not cause a spark during recreational times or while doing yard work is best to avoid starting an accidental fire.

DNR saw hotter and drier temperatures along with the drought forecast and saw hotter and dryer landscapes throughout the state. This puts more homes at risk.

Debris-pile burns in April were seen to have been the cause of most fires. DNR suggests residents build a wildfire defensible space around their homes.

The urgency from DNR is for Washingtonians to take time and help their families be safe. Residents can find fire danger ratings for their areas and wildfire prevention and preparedness online at the DNR website.

Kris Brannon’s SuperSonics Dream

After his death on Feb. 11, Seattle SuperSonics’ superfan Kris Brannon’s impact ripples through the community

 

Seattle SuperSonics’ superfan Kris Brannon, 47, mostly recognized as “Sonics Guy”, died of heart failure on Feb. 11. The news of the Tacoma resident was confirmed by his sister on Twitter, as he will be missed by family, friends and fans alike.

“A sad day for all of us,” said the owners of an investment group working to bring back the Sonics. “[He was] one of the kindest, most dedicated [and] big-hearted Sonics fans ever.”

Known in the Puget Sound for advocating the return of the Seattle SuperSonics, Brannon became the subject of artwork, memes and has written over 20 articles on a Sonics fan website. Fans attending Mariners, Storm and Rainer games were always on the lookout for the 6’5” guy with an afro wearing green and gold.

Brannon had attended over 1500+ events, reminding fans of what they had lost by the NBA team moving to Oklahoma back in 2008. He could be seen holding a sign at every event that said “Bring ‘Em Back!”

With a smile ready and his battlecry being heard over any crowd at games, city council meetings and rallies, he was a presence that could not be ignored. Brannon’s enthusiasm for his team was immeasurable and was a huge part of why people are pushing for the team to come back to Seattle.

Today a mural of Brannon can be seen on first avenue south’s Wall of Fame. The mural was done by Jeff Jacobson and stands next to Walter Jones, Jack Sikma and Edgar Martinez in remembrance of his contribution to Seattle sports fans.

“Thanks for everything you’ve done for Sonics fans everywhere,” said owners of the investment group. “We’ll never forget and we won’t stop trying until we make your dream, and ours, come true.”  

Pierce opening for the winter

After a year plus of campuses being closed, there is hope to welcome all students back to in-person teaching. 

An email was sent out to Pierce College staff with updates on current plans for returning to campus and fully reopening no later than winter quarter of 2022. “The full reopening will incorporate lessons learned throughout the pandemic about safety and the needs of students and employees,” Pierce College Chancellor and Presidents stated.

The plan includes a gradual return to campus while the classes remain online during spring term, starting with employees wanting to return to the campus. This would be the start of a larger phased return.

The decision to reopen, made by the governing body of the school, will be in alignment with the guidance of the governor’s office and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health District. The state’s higher education reopening plan, and the COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation and recovery plan, will also help to ensure all safety protocols are met and have a revert-to-remote operation if needed.

Any further updates on plans to return to campus will be given as the evolving situation with the pandemic is monitored. Information on when it is safe for students and services to return to campus will be given to the school’s staff.

The Chancellor and Presidents stated that they are looking forward to and hope for face-to-face interactions soon.

Pierce County enters phase 1 for a new trail in Tacoma

A breath of fresh air is being given to nearby residents of Tacoma and South Hill, with a newly planned trail being headed by Trails Coordinator Brianne Blackburn. Designs have been completed for the current pipeline trail in Tacoma to be extended to reach South Hill, with projections to start construction in 2022.

The Pierce County website stated their intent for the trail is to provide residents with expanded non-motorized commuting and recreational opportunities, while supporting healthy, active living.

“The long-term connection has long been a vision of Regional Trail advocates with the “Tahoma to Tacoma” vision connecting communities from Commencement Bay to Mt. Rainier National Park,” Pierce County website stated.

Pierce County’s pipeline trail will be a paved trail running along the Tacoma water pipeline between 72nd St E and 94th Ave E. This will connect Chapman Memorial Trail in South Hill with the newly constructed trail in Tacoma.

The project schedule started with analysis in Nov. 2019, and will have 3 public meetings in between the process being held as virtual open houses on the Pierce County website due to COVID-19 restrictions. The plan for the trail is currently in Phase 1, which will construct 1.6 miles from 72nd St E and Waller Rd E through Orangegate Park.

A grant application has been submitted for Phase 1 funding and the project is seeking $2.2 million from state or federal aid. All future phases will be planned as resources are available.

In the meantime, residents have opportunities for input and to receive updates on the project by signing up for email updates.

Mass Shootings – A Seemingly Endless American Tragedy

With mass shootings on the rise again, we take a look at what may be the causes for such violence in America.

Fifty-nine dead and 500 injured: Las Vegas. Forty-nine dead and 58 injured: Orlando nightclub. Fourteen dead and 22 injured: San Bernardino, Calif. Thirty-two dead and 17 injured: Blacksburg, VA. Thirteen dead and 24 injured: Columbine, Colo.

 
 

These mass shootings happened between 1999 and 2017 and were executed by people of various ages and races. Mass shootings are not new to American society but are still a surprise when they occur.

 

Wanting someone to blame is a natural response for these repeat occurrences, but pointing a finger is not as easy as it seems. Perhaps what happens before a mass shooting is worth taking a look at, in hope of finding a solution before such violence occurs. 

 

Dr. Jeffrey Simons, an expert on terrorism and political violence, believes mass shooters are lone wolves and more dangerous than terrorist groups. “One thing to remember about lone wolves and what makes them so dangerous is they’re not part of a group, so there is no constraint on their level of violence,” Simons said in an interview with NBCLX.

 

According to the gun violence archive website, mass shootings are defined as there being four minimum victims either killed or injured, not including the shooter if the shooter were to be killed during the incident. There have been 610 mass shootings in 2020, even with nationwide quarantines in effect. Since 2014 mass shootings have been on the rise in the U.S., and Washington State lists as having had 29.

 

The most obvious statement one can make is that the list of mass shootings is long and getting longer. The desire to end such a threat, which can happen at any moment and any place, is great, but the question is how to defeat a threat that is invisible until it decides to show itself?

 

The reality is that anyone is capable of committing such an act of violence and the rest must try to look for signs of it. As difficult as it seems, violence does not stop, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

On the mentality of mass shooters, Simons said that 30% to 40% have some type of mental illness. “Many times, that mental illness will affect their perception of reality, but they also can be very dangerous in what they do.”

 

The perception of mental illness being directly correlated with mass shootings is a normal one. Yet some think that the cause of gun violence is more complex than just mental illness.

 

According to a study done by  Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, the factors for mass violent acts are due to childhood abuse, neglect, household antisocial behavior, binge drinking and stressful life events. This is not to say that mental illness plays no role in the matter, but the study does seem to bring out preventable issues.

 

The article went on to say that many researchers have had an understanding that most people with mental illness are non-violent and that a lot of the violent acts are committed by people who have no mental illness. The study wanted to point out that substance abuse along with mental illness is responsible for the increased risk attributable to mental disorders.

 

Looking at reports of violent acts is difficult, to say the least, and there is a more difficult view of the cause of violent acts. There is a consensus among researchers about mental illness and violence, but the difference in opinion lies in what is at the center of the recurring incidents.

 

The study found that having a mental and substance disorder simultaneously will put an individual at the highest risk of expressing violence. The conclusions from the study signaled that severe mental illness with substance abuse had a stronger relationship to violence. In contrast, severe mental illness and violence had a modest relationship.

 

Solutions have been brought up in the effort to deter and stop mass violence such as arming teachers, banning assault weapons, banning high-capacity magazines, universal background checks, active shooter drills, banning violent video games, having people report potential threats, funding CDC research for gun violence and more. Still, the issue of mental health problems to any degree arises and the risk of any type of violence is real and is left unchecked while deciding powers debate the issue.

 

All of the proposed solutions would have either a low or high level of success but the debate over the cause of mass violence is ongoing and finding a solution seems far from over. At the moment people must be on the lookout for the threat before it happens and find a more personal solution for it.   

 

https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls

Jeffrey Simon’s interview with NBCLX

https://www.lx.com/community/author-says-lone-wolves-like-colorado-shooter-are-more-dangerous-than-terrorist-groups/33457/

Mental Illness and Violence Article

https://www-proquest-com.ezproxy-h.pierce.ctc.edu/docview/921486642?accountid=2280

What is the driving force behind sexual harassment?

Author and talk show host Candace Owens was left with a bad impression by the performance of ‘WAP’ by rap artist Cardi B at the 63 annual Grammy Awards. Cardi B and Owens had a dispute on Twitter about what empowers women following the performance and came to the answer from different perspectives.

“You are in a position to empower young women to aspire to something more than taking off their clothes,” tweeted Owens to Cardi B. “But you don’t feel you can be more.”

I have noticed intrinsic worth alludes to many modern women today, yet it determines the expression of self and what others expect from them. A woman is a woman, and she need not prove her equality to men. I believe her worth and empowerment are found neither in what she provides or takes from society, but in who she is.  

What empowers women has been an ongoing discussion for some time and there are many, from experts to the common person with varying answers on the issue. The idea of women taking control of their sexuality or taking control of their minds and pushing forward has been difficult to balance.

In today’s culture, it seems each woman must make a choice and stand to either one side or the other of the line drawn in the sand by society. Whatever choice is made, there is no definitive answer as to what gives women their power be it their body or mind.

In any industry today women can be seen thriving and achieving great success and are in high praise and respect from peers. Some women have made their choice and are either expressing the ownership of their own sexuality or on the other hand, women engaging with the world intellectually. Still there are those who choose to be wives and mothers. The social norms of women being only homemakers have been all but removed.   

Whenever women empowerment is mentioned, sexual harassment and abuse of women are not far behind. It seems to arise to try and change the conversation and puts the focus on a different issue altogether. Perhaps what must be done is to take a hard look at women empowerment to find what the cause of a plague such as sexual harassment is.  

Pretending sexual harassment does not happen to anyone is foolish, and pretending it happens to everyone is foolish as well. The essence of women empowerment could be the key to revealing a clear answer as to what makes part of society believe sexual misconduct is acceptable in any way, shape or form.

According to the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs website, women are one of the demographic groups which are victimized more frequently than others. The statistics show that 80 percent of women are being victimized before the age of 18 and only 25 percent of these women will seek medical attention after the assault and only 33 percent of them will seek counseling.    

Bitterness and resentment have crossed generations in the battle against harassment. There are many theories as to why such a vulgar thing keeps happening, and there seems to be no end in sight. Anyone can be caught in the battle whether they signed up for it or not and it seems there is no particular thing one must do to be a victim other than just be present.

James Campbell Quick, Ph.D., a professor of leadership and management at the University of Texas thinks the issue lies with how power is used by people in authoritative positions. “Sexual harassment is really not about sex. It’s about power and aggression and manipulation. It’s an abuse of power problem.”

There must be a clear dominant person with the power to do what they wish with another person. When these parameters are met, there is one that possesses power over another and exerts it with disregard to consequences.

Now, the awareness of consequences alone seems to not be the answer as to why sexual harassment keeps occurring. The fear of consequences has been proven to not completely stop anyone from engaging in cases of sexual misconduct in the workplace or other areas.

Such behavior and even emotions may carry through to the next generation and then pass to the next. Thus the cycle can continue, and no escape be provided for future generations if the mentality toward women cannot change and the adjustment of how to look at women as people does not take root in society.

Certain measures may be taken such as women not assuming that every action from a man is a sexual act. And on the other hand, men must stop thinking everything a woman does is for sexual attention. This could be a start for the bitterness, resentment and hurtful social norms that keep sexual harassment and the mistreatment of women around to cease.

Women taking control of their sexuality or women taking control of their minds in their field of work are the dominant approaches to empowering women. The other choice and less observed by culture is seeing women with intrinsic worth and willingly leaving this dignity intact.

Author, political activist and lecturer Hellen Keller in her book Optimism Within wrote about what she thought brings balance to the world. “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.”

Quick, J. C., & McFadyen, M. A. (2017). Sexual harassment: Have we made any progress? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(3), 286–298. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000054

“Mortal Kombat” (2021) Review: An Appreciative Look

Seeing Mortal Kombat on screen is nothing new due to the franchise being a video game as well as a filmed cinematic experience back in 1995. Kids as young as 8-12 years old were playing the video games. Surprisingly though, it was because of the portrayed violence that gave the franchise its appeal to all audiences who came in contact with it.

The latest addition to the Mortal Kombat universe is the new 2021 movie directed by Simon McQuoid. The film takes audiences back to witness the endless fight between the fighters of “Outworld” and the fighters from “Earth Realm”, as the respect McQuoid had for the franchise is easily seen.

Mortal Kombat has not been seen on the big screen since the two installments back in the mid 90’s. Teenagers who played the games as kids were able to see some of their favorite characters in live action for the first time. The films at the time, though cheesy in some sense, were great with their interpretation, and none would deny having heard an unforgettable music score.

Seeing the characters in this year’s much anticipated film gave an air of mixed emotions. Maybe the making of another movie took too long? Maybe the previous movies were satisfactory enough and needed no further expansion of the universe? Still the revamped characters and some additional ones brought some fresh excitement and new possibilities never experienced before.

For those familiar with the franchise, it is a safe bet they were quoting lines from the old movies and hoping to hear them again from the actors they knew so well. The nostalgia some fans were seeking from the old films did not seem to be present, but every character gets a poster worthy epic entrance which they own with ease.

In this new film there are some martial artists among the actors, such as Joe Taslim from Sumatera, Indonesia who has won gold medals from 1997-2009 in Asian and National Championships in Judo. He has trained in Wushu, Judo and Taekwondo. 

Another martial artist in the film includes Max Huang who is part of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team and has won gold at the German Wushu Nationals in 2009. There is also Hiroyuki Sanada, of Japanese descent, who is no stranger to the action genre and has trained in Shorinji Kempo and Kyokushin Karate.

All of these true martial artists show off the skills they have honed over their fighting and acting careers and step into the shoes of some of the most iconic characters ever imagined. Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, Raiden, Kano, Sonia Blade and Kung Lao are some of the original fan favorites who fill the fight card, the film rounding out a few other surprise characters as well.

One wonders the difficulty it would take to perform a fatality in a live action sequence, but with the help of modern computer graphic imaging, it could be considered a FLAWLESS VICTORY! (pun intended). No film is perfect, but the expectations for a movie like this one is to honor the games as much as possible, and it delivered.      

Some complaints about the movie could be that the backstory to some of the character’s motivations are a little vague or just do not make sense in the larger scope of things. The issue is the characters are so memorable that anyone who has followed their journeys in the games have witnessed them evolve into something more than when they started.

Today’s average movie buff wants story driven drama and action, yet that is not what Mortal Kombat is about. Mortal Kombat is about just that, mortal combat between two fighters; meaning a fight to a sometimes-gruesome death, and that is exactly what the audience receives from the movie.

Difficult as it may seem to step into the roles of fighters, all the actors did their best to bring the characters some new life and even some unexpected hilarious moments. For those seeking to just sit and enjoy a modern somewhat cheesy martial arts movie with awesome fighting sequences, CGI and “R” rated brutality like the games, this is the one for you.

Surprises of Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a day that is known for celebrating Mexican pride with parades, friends, parties, family gatherings and most of all tequila.

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, has become a well-known holiday in the United States and has been celebrated in Mexico since 1863. In an effort to raise awareness and educate about this festive holiday, here are 5 Things you may not have known about Cinco de Mayo.

It’s not Mexican Independence Day

Mexico had declared their independence on Sep. 16, 1810 and this marked the beginning of hostilities against the rule of the Spanish government.

Celebrates the Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla is known as a great victory over 6,000 French soldiers on May 5, 1862. Benito Juárez, president of Mexico rounded up about 2,000 troops made up of indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry to face the assault by the French. Mexico was led in the battle by General Ignacio Zaragoza from Texas and lasted from daybreak to that evening and the effort by the Mexicans was able to drive off the French. Immediately after, the victory was declared a celebration.

Mexico Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is observed by the state of Puebla where the Battle of Puebla took place. Although they are not the only state to put on a celebration, for most of Mexico May 5 is a day like any other and is not considered a federal holiday so banks and stores stay open. For those that celebrate, some traditions include military parades, reenactment of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.

Why does the United States celebrate Cinco de Mayo?   

The United States celebrates Mexican culture and heritage on May 5, mostly in parts where the Mexican American population is great. In the 1960’s some Chicano activists brought awareness of the holiday due to their observance of the Battle of Puebla. Today, most who celebrate do so with mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional Mexican foods like the beloved tacos. Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston are cities which hold some of the largest festivals that mark the occasion and there are still others that will celebrate with chihuahua races like in Chandler, Arizona.

Why Tequila on Cinco de Mayo?

On May 5, 47% of drink orders are margaritas compared to the rest of the year with 23% and tequila sales double leading up to the celebration of the holiday. However, tequila was not always so easily accessible. From 1000 B.C.-200A.D. the Aztecs fermented a drink called pulque which was made from the sap of the agave plant. The drink was important to the Aztecs and they worshiped Mayahuel the goddess of maguey and her husband the Patecatl the god of pulque. When the Spanish arrived and met the Aztecs they discovered pulque and the drink started to catch on. Since then, tequila has taken its time in becoming what we know today and had been handled by the Spanish who were distilling agave in the 1400’s-1600’s. In 1758 the Cuervo family started to commercially distill their own tequila followed by the Sauza family in 1873. Don Cenobio Sauza identified blue agave as the best for making tequila and this is where the tequila known today started to be produced. The Margarita was later invented in 1936 by an Irishman called Madden who ran a bar in Tijuana and called the drink Tequila Daisy (daisy in Spanish is margarita). It was not until 1974 that tequila became the intellectual property of Mexico.

Being Mexican or not, Cinco de Mayo is a day which celebrates Mexican culture altogether and is known for friends, family and good fun. This year the holiday may look a little different, but a celebration of the Mexican culture will never die.

Godzilla vs. King Kong Review: An Appreciative Look

Slight Spoilers Ahead


We have had “The Thrilla in Manila,” “The Rumble in the Jungle,” “The Brawl in Montreal” and now we have what I’m calling “King of Titans” in “Godzilla vs Kong”!

The fourth installment in the MonsterVerse franchise directed by Adam Wingard packs a titanically large punch (pun intended) when these two giant monsters collide to see who bows to who. Whether you are a fan of Godzilla or Kong entering this film for the first time does not matter. The film will leave you wanting more of each respected titan and will bring a new level of appreciation for them.

From the opening credits of the film the viewer can see the breakdown of the monsterverse, and each fight leading up to Godzilla and Kong facing off for the first time in the franchise. Godzilla is not new to brawling with various other monsters with unique abilities and strengths, but he soon finds out Kong is in a different class all his own.

The experience of such a monumental fight was very nostalgic for me. I can remember being 10-12 years old and loving to see monsters clash with one another. I remember not being able to decide which was my favorite of all the creatures ever imagined, but my top two were definitely Godzilla and Kong.

Before viewing the film, I admit to not having any expectations for it being more than another monster film. That quickly turned once Godzilla was on the screen. 

Even if you have seen the previous movies from the monsterverse, there is something about Godzilla that draws the kid out of you. Seeing him makes you remember his classic roar and his dragon breath and gives you the feeling that Kong will have no chance in this fight since he is known more for defeating titans.

Our favorite titans have to share screen time in this one and could not hog all the glory from the film even though they are the main event. The cast was well rounded but did not give enough of a lift to the film to make it a perfect monster movie.

The classic conspiracy theorists join together to provide some comical relief between what everyone tuned into watch. The film did have a classic villain plotting some secret scheme for the world. Although considering monsters were destroying cities with their earth-shattering fights, I cannot say I blame him for trying to find a way to overpower them and put humanity on top again.

Sadly, this is one thing in the movie I could have done without. I caught myself thinking many times through the film that I could do without the people in it. Unfortunately, that would only make it a 40-minute movie and not a full-length feature.

The story that was built around the fight was a sci-fi adventure which had holes with no explanations. I do want to be fair and say that perfect science was not the main focus and dealing with sci-fi is not always the easiest thing. Still the ideas for the origins of the titans was given a good effort.

Overall the film is worth watching due to its epic battle scenes. The movie moves from fight to fight like a boxing event. Each fight is a round on its own and you can never really tell who will win in the end. You could say you have ringside seats to one of the most action-packed fights of all time. You will find yourself cheering for both combatants and not wanting either to lose because of the heart they both show. 

Is Cancel Culture Striking Fairly?

On March 2, Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced on their website that they would stop the printing of 6 of their books. The statement listed: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), If I Ran the Zoo (1950), McElligot’s Pool (1947), On Beyond Zebra! (1955), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976) as the titles being discontinued.

“We are committed to action,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises stated. “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” 

The decision to stop publication and licensing for the 6 books was made last year after Dr. Seuss Enterprises worked with advisors who evaluated the titles. Much of the public has opinions either for or against the decision, and it seems Dr. Seuss Enterprises is not making any further comments about their statement or actions. This leaves the rest of us to wonder if the right decision was made.

The 6 books that have ceased publication and licensing.

The idea of “Cancel Culture”, as it has come to be known, is slowly sifting through many established franchises and either removing them or slapping a disclaimer on them. The timing seems to be appropriate for some and not for others. The looming question is if cancel culture is being fair about its judgment as well as its motivations.

Protecting the minds of children seems to be the priority, but what can be gained by hiding the history of the culture from them in literary form or in any other form for that matter? 

There are many books which are considered classics such as Huckleberry Finn written by American Author Mark Twain in 1884, in which the n-word is used multiple times portraying a historically accurate picture of the cultural behavior at the time.

If the goal is looking seriously into books branded as offensive and removing them, then school curriculums could begin shifting in a different direction where the history on those pages could be lost for good. Touching the surface of social issues could be a temporary solution and good conversation starter by cancel culture. Yet there is still real evidence of racism in the world which seems to have no answer.

Ravi Zacharias the late christian apologist and author said to a question posed by an anonymous news reporter about moral ethics at an open forum, “The reason we are against racism is because a person’s race is sacred. A person’s ethnicity is sacred. You cannot violate it. My race is sacred; your race is sacred; I dare not violate it.”

To take a stand against violations such as racism would be a continuous effort by all in society, and using examples of such would have a beneficial effect. What the public considers before giving an opinion about any social issue is of great importance to the structure of society. Merely picking what to be upset about is the answer for continued discord.

All of the books discontinued by Dr. Seuss Enterprises have various cultures being represented in an unflattering way.

Some of the illustrations are clearly evidence of the cultural norm at the time, while others are disturbing, such as the depiction of black people resembling monkeys in If I Ran the Zoo.

A collage including examples of Seuss’ racist imagery.

Any and all races have a right to feel some offense, and yet there is something about certain minorities not being considered people at certain historical times that keeps alluding the present social mentality. The heart of the issue seems to be based on doing the right thing and the focus is lost when people are told what to be angry about.

Co-Authors of On the Perpetuation of Ignorance Dr. Steven Shepherd and Dr. Aaron C. Kay published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology wrote, “Individuals are often confronted with information that they do not know how to comprehend or evaluate, even though this information can be of critical importance to the self (or society as a whole).” 

Believing in the feelings of the culture seems to be an easy sell for all sides of the issues, but then arises a more prominent issue of missing the point. There are those frustrated with the facts not being taken into consideration before making a decision that can steer the culture down into the mire.

Many have taken to buying the remaining prints of the books canceled by Dr. Seuss Enterprises and have started selling them online. Some prices start at around $200 while others are going for up to around $1900.

Does the action of profiting from a social issue such as racism speak louder as a cultural norm than cancel culture? Again, the motivation of discontinuing any trace of history is key to understanding and learning to grow from past errors.

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises stated. The statement by Dr. Seuss Enterprises went on to say they will ensure their product will represent and support all communities and families.

Vice President of Learning and Student Success Debra Gilchrist parts ways with Pierce College after 30 years

Pierce College president Julie White announced March 3 over email that on June 30 will say good-bye to Debra Gilchrist, who is retiring after 30 years of service to the school. 

As the vice president of learning and student success for the last 9 years, Gilchrist has continued to gain the respect of her colleagues through her dedication to excellence.

“Throughout her time, she led the re-visioning of the library into an award-winning program, guided us through successful accreditations with the NWCCU, and collaborated on a district-wide model of academic leadership,” White stated. “Deb has been a strong, quiet, persistent voice for continual improvement.”

White commented on the difficulty to replace Gilchrist’s role as vice president for learning and student success, but the search for a successor will begin and the announcement will be given in the near future.

“Please join me in wishing Deb the very best,” White stated. “We will be sure to celebrate and wish her well before June 30.”

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