Thursday, December 31, 2009

CARINA 360°: My Top Ten Highlights of the Year

As the year comes to a close, I have written up my top ten highlights of the year. Hopefully you agree!

10. Twitter blew up this year. Seriously, people made a fuss when Miley Cyrus deleted her account. When Ashton Kutcher beat CNN with millions more followers. Pshh. I’m more of a MySpace type of person. *Yawn.

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize??? I know, huge shocker for everyone! Click Here.

8. Lady Gaga, she just came out of nowhere! I don’t need to say much about her, other than her fashion sense is so beyond crazy awesome.

7. FREAKING VAMPIRES! EVERYWHERE! Ugh, I'm so annoyed. Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, Day Breakers, and so on. I hope 2010 is full of wizards and witches. You know, Harry Potter! Gosh I love him.

6. Reality “Stars” seem to have been the new norm. The Kardashians, the Jersey Shore cast. Looks like getting a show on E! or MTV is the new way to gain fame. SCREW TALENT! Also, did you know that in ‘09 you could be famous just by pumping out 8 kids!? Well you could: Octomom.

5. Sonia Sotomayor, The first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

4. H1N1 flu a pandemic. Hand sanitizer and tissues were being bought in bulk, and racist Mexican jokes were airborne like the virus itself. So far over 3,000 people have died and the vaccine was in short supply.

3. Michael Jackson dead at 50 due to Heart Attack. The world stopped. No I'm not being sarcastic.

2. Doesn't matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, voted for him or not, you must admit, this was a super huge deal! He’s the first African American to hold office. On January 20, 2009 Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President.

Now what could be number 1 on my top ten highlights of the year? What could beat President Obama? It's Britney B**ch!

1. OMG! April 12, 2009 was possibly the best day of ‘09 for me. This Easter Sunday in San Jose, I saw Britney Spears in concert. (*Angels Singing). Say what you want, all the other thousands of people in the Arena feel the same way. This was a huge deal for me. You see, Britney Spears music has been in my life since forever. So getting to see her was like epic for me! *sigh, I will never forget that day.

And everything else ...

The homeless doll
Balloon boy
Rihanna and Chris Brown (I hate you Chris Brown!!!)
Susan Boyle

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mikeala AxToGrind: Audio Addiction

Hello, everyone!

Allow me to offer assistance in the conquering of the after holiday let-down. With music, no less. In all honesty, this is simply a clever ruse in which I have an excuse to talk about music (under the cover of post-Christmas decompression advice.)

I'm sure you've all encountered that kind of song before. That insanely catchy beat, thoroughly addicting riffs, and ear enrapturing lyrics. Well, while you sit amid the mountains of wrapping paper and leftovers, left in whiplash by the swift departure of Christmas, here are some definite pick-you-up-and-get-you-moving tracks. You know, the aforementioned "insanely catchy" ones:

"She's Got Me Dancing" by Tommy Sparks*:

Straight out of the i-Phone commercial, comes with a guarantee to get you dancing. Or at least leave you with the intense desire to, restrained for fear of looking like a fool. (My advice: dance anyway. Anyone who makes fun of you is clearly just jealous of your moves.)

"Ulysses" by Franz Ferdinand:

From an album chock full of addictive dance beats, this track reigns as one of the elite. Just trust me. After all, when has a song named Ulysses ever let you down before?

"Let's Dance To Joy Division" by The Wombats:

Drenched in a tongue-in-cheek irony that makes for one heck of a great song. Upbeat and most definitely catchy. Give it a chance, I swear it's digital happiness.

"All Is Love" by Karen O and the Kids :

So, so sweet! From "Where the Wild Things Are" soundtrack. Excellent movie, impeccable song. Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs gets almost unbearably sweet, and sounds great doing it. Simple, happy, and an all around feel-good song.

If these songs don't get you moving, then you might want to give your legs a good poke, 'cause you just might be paralyzed.



*Strange video, I'll concede.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mikeala AxToGrind:Scrooge (Merry Christmas, Everyone!)

First of all;

Bah Humbug.

Sorry, just needed to get that out of the way.

In the case you haven't picked up on it already, let me spell it out: I really don't like holidays. It's not as though I leave out rat poison for the Easter bunny or wait with a BB gun for old St. Breaking-And-Entering to come struggling down the chimney...I'm not an incredibly active holiday-hater. I actually do quite enjoy the concept of holidays, the picturesque setting of family togetherness and selflessness and gift-giving, all of that tinsel infused goodness. But when I actually get down to the holiday get together, it thoroughly contradicts any idealistic notion I might have conceived beforehand. In order to evade disappointment, I try not to expect very much.

And even then I somehow am let down, nearly every year. It's far from the materialistic disappointment of not getting the Christmas presents I want, that's the least of my concerns. It's nearly everything else. I try not to be too cynical or self-pitying (and if I'm failing at this, please feel free to let me know), but it seems to me that Christmas has simply lost whatever magic it once held for me.

At best, it turns out to be a few family arguments and a few hours of sitting with a painted smile. At worst, full blown chaos and sitting in a room of people attacking your morals and beliefs.

I really do wish that I could believe in that greeting card harmonious family at the fireside backdrop, but I haven't seen anything along the lines of that in my family, or in anyone close to me. I'm sure happy holidays exist, I just can't work out where. And the step beyond that, how to get there.

Or, it could very well just be my pessimism rearing it's Santa hat adorned head. (It has many seasonally appropriate outfits.)

I'm terribly sorry of this comes off as overly-cynical and standard issue "emo kid" perspective. I truly do try to avoid that. I didn't run this past an optimist before posting, which perhaps should be part of the due process?

Anyway, I really would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Eat, drink and be merry.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

That Religious Guy: The Adventures of Fr. Robin Hood

..... Simony is the act of selling the sacraments, paying for holy offices, or simply making a business out of the Church. Not many people are accused of such a canonical crime these days, but one priest in Mexico has been. Fr. Raymundo Figueroa has been removed from his parish by Archbishop Rafael Munoz for selling the sacraments, being a true Robin Hood in black.

..... Of course, Fr. Figueroa had good intentions at first. He came from a struggling parish, that of Santisimo Sacramento (Translation: Blessed Sacrament, which makes his deeds more ironic...) The church had a bare concrete floor and little heating during cold times. In an effort to raise construction funds for his flock, Fr. Figueroa traveled back and forth from Mexico to the U.S., charging for quick and expensive baptisms, first communions, and confirmations. For first communion, the Robin Hood priest charged $160, but for an additional $20 one could have flowers and chairs at the event! At one point, people from Los Angeles and San Diego were crossing the border in order to receive the sacrament of confirmation, the highest price being $75. All this "fund raising" financed the parish's cushioned pews and loudspeakers. Santisimo Sacramento parish grew to an astonishing 8,000 people, all praising Fr. Figueroa.

..... Why are his actions so bad? Well, Fr. Figueroa mislead many American Catholics through his administering of the sacraments. He would send deacons to substitute for him or clergy from the breakaway Old Catholic Church. Instead of a holy atmosphere in a church, first communions and confirmations would be held in parks, living rooms, or backyards to the sound of mariachis instead of choirs or organs. All of these ceremonies were treated as simple gatherings, like a birthday party that happens every year. Unfortunately, these sacraments are important because they happen only once in your life. You prepare for them for years because the Church wants you to know your faith in order to defend and spread it. A few months of Fr. Figueroa's catechism aren't enough to prepare you for any sacrament.

.....Yet possibly the worst aspect of Fr. Figueroa's crime is that he made the Church into a business. He made something sacred into something on-sale. Parishes usually charge a small fee for sacraments only when there's an expense involved like books. At St. Luke's in Stockton, I got the impression that one shouldn't make money from holy goods. During one particular rummage sale, I picked up a rosary and was given it for free, possibly because it was a religious item. The bibles sold after Mass on Sundays there are never sold for profit but only to cover the costs of buying new bibles for sale later. Fr. Figueroa tainted the spirituality of his parish by mixing faith with literally, theft.

..... In many ways, the Robin Hood of literature was a good and bad figure. Sure, he gave money to the poor but he also stole in order to get it. Fr. Figueroa should be applauded for his original purpose of helping his poor parish, but should be reprimanded for the way he gained money. Like a thief, he stole the money of innocent people and he stole important events from their lives. It's because of priests like Fr. Figueroa that the whole priesthood suffers bad publicity. His actions just prove that sometimes bad consequences can come from good intentions.
"They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.
He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area.
Then he taught them saying, "Is it not written: 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples'? But you have made it a den of thieves."
The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it and were seeking a way to put him to death, yet they feared him because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching." - Mark 11:15-19 

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

Sunday, December 20, 2009

That Religious Guy: A Break in the Clouds

..... It seems that every day is a cloudy one. The weather outside may be crisp and clear, but on the inside, it's cloudy. In the minds of most high schoolers, this is the daily forecast since we are still trying to discern our vocation, our calling. What will we be in life? A doctor? A lawyer? An artist? And for me, a priest?

..... One of the benefits of being a teen discerning for the priesthood is the feeling of assurance involved in the process. I'll know that by constantly contemplating my purpose early in life, I'll come out stronger. Stronger because I will have known whether I truly was being called to the priesthood or something else. This assurance also manifests itself in different ways. The assurance of support from family and the church, and most importantly, the assurance of guidance from God.

..... The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare meaning "to call." Basically, God calls each and everyone of us to fulfill a vocation, whether it be holy orders or married life. His call, however, might not be obvious or audible at first. This is to say that one should keep quiet and listen closely for a big booming voice from the heavens. If only it were that easy. At times, a vocation might altogether just disappear because of distractions erupting from society. After all, the secular mentality seems to be that the only way to be successful in life is to get married, have kids, and make money. Emphasis on the money part. The power to discourage also plays a major role in destroying vocations. I've personally heard a range of negativity about my thoughts on becoming a priest:

"Don't waste your life!"

"This is just a phase."

"Don't you want to get married?"

..... Then I realize that each one of these comments has a flaw. Is it really a waste of one's life if it's dedicated to serving others? In essence, the office of a priest can be described by one of the titles of the Pope. A priest is a "Servant of the Servants of Christ." In order to be first, one needs to be last.
..... The vocation to be a priest is most definitely a phase. But isn't the desire to be a doctor or lawyer also phases? After all, one doesn't just wake up and say "I'm going to be a neurosurgeon!" No, it's a long and arduous process trying to determine your future profession. If it didn't have stages, no one would ever be able to determine their calling.
..... Married life is one of the highest positions on the worldly hierarchy. That and multi-billionaire bachelor/bachelorette. Sure marriage is a beautiful sacrament, a fruitful institution that represents love and procreation. Holy matrimony, however, isn't for everyone. Some people like Fr. What's His Name and Sister So and So would rather have had Holy Orders instead. I don't see what's all the fuss about. When you're a priest, you're married to the church and will have more kids then every man in your parish since everyone will be calling you Father!

.....If I could describe the process of discerning a vocation to the priesthood, it would be like a cloudy day. The clouds are so thick with doubts, discouragement, and distractions that you can't see anything. So one day, you decide to do something. Research. Discussions. Prayer. You try anything to make those dark clouds vanish until you're rewarded with a penetrating light from the sun. I imagine that this is what it feels like to find purpose, to finally see what's coming ahead.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

P.S. Oh yeah, visit my blog where you can read all my religion posts

Saturday, December 19, 2009

That Religious Guy Wants YOU to take the SURVEY!!

..... Ok Delta Kings and Queens, please take The Stagg Line survey by following this link:

1. Go to Web site.

2. Click Multimedia section

3. Go to Budget Cuts Survey

..... The purpose of this survey is to let SUSD hear the voice of students and what we think of the Budget Cuts. It seems that in this economic recession, the only group not being asked for input on matters of education is the students! Take the survey and be heard! Results will be published in the January issue of The Stagg Line.


Jeremy Dela Cruz

That Religious Guy: Rosaries and Gangs?

Here's an editorial I wrote for (I revised it a little but it will mainly appear the same on the Web site.) :

..... The rosary is a Roman Catholic devotion that some say originated from St. Dominic, who had been given this gift by the Virgin Mary. To many, these simple beads and a crucifix are a sign of personal piety and veneration of the Blessed Mother and her Son. To police officers and school administrators in South Lake Tahoe, California, the rosary is considered a "gang sign."

..... Apparently on Wednesday, a group of predominantly male and Latino students were apprehended by a South Tahoe High School resource officer for reportedly using rosaries as gang affiliation. All the rosaries were confiscated and the students were photographed and their pictures put on a database. Some of the young men had previous disciplinary problems and so the belief that they were misusing their religious articles seemed valid. In our opinion, however, South Tahoe High School was wrong and was violating religious freedoms.

..... This little episode, however, caused quite a stir on campus as an organized students protest took place against the administration's actions. Word had spread through the electronic grapevine of a demonstration complete with signs and chanting. The atmosphere at 9 am Friday in the quad was one filled with banners reading "Stop Discrimination" and phrases of "We are one" being spoken throughout the crowds. Many were complaining that teachers were unfairly taking rosaries away from students, intolerable acts indeed.

..... If the rosaries at South Tahoe High were really being used as gang signs, why would the student population go to great lengths to show their displeasure and side with the Latino students? One student even considered it racial profiling since the administration seemed to be only selecting minority students for confiscation. It seems that the school and police officers in that area misconstrued devotion for deviance. The officers justified their policy because adult gang members had confessed to using rosaries as identifiable signs.

..... Granted that there may be a chance that some teens use rosaries as gang signs, school administrators, however, shouldn't see this sacred symbol as one of violence. Students at South Tahoe are now being encouraged to wear their rosaries under their shirts as a matter of safety. This does not attack the problem, but only reinforces the mentality that rosaries should now be associated with red shoelaces and Old English lettering. If anything, by asking students to hide their rosaries, this is a way for administrators to effectively keep religion off school grounds.

..... For Catholics, we must take offense to this since the Blessed Mother is one of our greatest guides in life. Her rosary is a sign of community, not gangs. Some Catholics may not like the practice of wearing rosaries because of the belief that it should be used for devotion not decoration, but many people wear rosaries as an expression of faith, a faith meant to be seen not hidden.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

P.S. I guess we should start worrying about nuns with guns!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Technology and Teens

Okay so we live in a very complex world with a ton of technology. In society we have those adults that choose to work and those that don't choose to work. Then there are children from ages 6-11 that are somewhat familiar with technology and then there are teenagers. Yes I am on of those so called "trouble makers" that someones grandparent calls them.

Technology is important to everyone in the world. Obviously right? In my eyes there are two groups of teens: there is your technology freak-a-zoids and then there are those who really don't give much of a flying hoot. I am in the group that just doesn't give a hoot. The technology freak-a-zoids can't even live without their phones! I mean come on, are you for real?! It reminds me of my sister, she is in the group that I call the "technology freak-a-zoids" Well her and a few other that I know.

Teens these days are getting way out of whack with their phones, the Internet, and video game systems; practically all of technology. Our age group takes advantage of the technology given to us. Like the cell phone for example, girls or guys take advantage of the "use" of the phone. Some will send nude photos or antagonizing text messages, this is known as "digital abuse." When I was at the mall Saturday with my friend. There was this little girl no older than 11 maybe and she was yakking on her phone and cussing up a storm like it was the thing to do and get this she was doing it in front of her mother in a public place. Now that's embarrassing to her mother. If that was my child "ooohhh" she would of gotten slapped and no phone.

I'm not saying that I am just the perfect person and I don't cuss, because I do. But there is a certain extent especially if you're in public. "You make yourself look like a fool!" My bestest Anayeli said. Nobody is perfect, but I mean come on you should have more common sense. The Internet is a whole different story that we won't even get into at this point.

Overall technology is evil just like money is the root to all evil. Our society was alright without technology. Then again there is your good technology like new medical technology and then there is your evil technology such as cell phones, the computer, etc.. That's pretty much all I have to say for now. Adios mis amigos!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CARINA 360°: Houston Elects First Lesbian Mayor

A couple of years ago, Houston voted against a ballot that would give benefits to same-sex partners of city workers.

Now following in the footsteps of Providence - Rhode Island and other cities, Houston Texas, as of December 12, 2009, has elected their first openly gay mayor, Democrat Annise Parker.
(Not only that but she has also made history again for being the second female mayor of Houston.)

As a 53 year old mother of two, she and her partner of 19 years have never made an issue out of her sexual orientation. Before becoming the new mayor of Houston, she was city controller for the past five years.

Even though only 16 percent of qualified voters showed up, Parker still won. With 53 percent of the vote, she beat city attorney Gene Locke.

As with any gay or lesbian public figure, Parker did receive protest from anti-gay groups. Residents of the city got mail telling of the relationship with her partner.

"I have always stood up for the fact that I am gay. It's part of the resume that I bring to the table, but it's just a piece of the package," Parker said.

But she has nothing to worry about now, she won!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fabled Faith: ET Can't phone home? :(

              See a U.F.O? Well, I wouldn't waste my time calling Britain, because they obviously don't want to hear it.

I recently read that Britain no longer has a U.F.O hotline. Where's E.T supposed to phone home now? They said the U.F.O hotline had been existent since 1959, but some felt that it was time for it to go. According to, too much money has been wasted.
This organization is estimated to save  about $ 73,000 a year. With all of the prank phone calls, "fake" sightings, and  mentally deranged people calling, they thought that getting rid of  the hotline was the best way to go.

Others aren't taking it so well. In a few articles, there were people who thought it was dangerous. "Where do we go when there's an arial attack?", they said, "What about the terrorists?" 

Oh come on! Seriously? People are getting tired of hearing the same voices calling and telling them they saw a U.F.O when it was only an army plane passing overhead. 

Anyway, I'm just a little intrigued by this, and am actually really interested to see what you guys think.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Clearly Claire: Stuck in Catholicism for a Week

I am not by any means "That Religious Guy," but that doesn't mean that my family isn't religious. My family used to wake me up at 9 o'clock every Sunday morning to go to church and I would sit bored through the whole thing. The only thing I ever liked about church was the singing. I love to sing.

Slowly, though, my parents decided that they weren't going to go every week, then we became Christmas and Easter Catholics. We would go to church on the important holidays, you know, the day Christ rose from the dead and the day he was born. A few years ago, though my parents decided they were too busy making Easter dinner to go to church, so we only went on Christmas. Last year, we didn't go to church on Christmas either. How can God compete with opening presents?

So, you may ask how in the world a person who hates church and doesn't go could wind up in a convent for a week, up at 6 a.m. every morning praying to God that I didn't jump off a cliff. I went to the convent almost two months ago and am still recovering from the horrible week

My great aunt is a nun and I love her so much, but I would never want to be like her. They had prayer meetings everyday that lasted an hour. I could barely get through one hour of church on Sunday and she had to go everyday. I felt like such a sinner.

I also decided to visit the college located near the convent and had to spend two hours watching a play about Jesus and his disciples singing songs about the grace of God. It took all I had to not burst out laughing when some girl started singing a love song to Jesus. But my eyes were open to a whole new world.

I realized that to a lot of people, religion is everything. It keeps their families together and can unity a community, it just isn't for me. I am a sinner, through and through. I was born to be one and I can't change that, but I don't really want to. I like that I am not spiritual. The week was horrible, but it someways it was good, because I learned about a different place where, even though it doesn't make sense to me, it makes sense to others.

So I won't be going to that college, or becoming a nun anytime soon, but I might go to church more....

Okay, Maybe not.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mikeala AxToGrind: (un)Cool.


It's time to come clean.

I like Adam Lambert.

And it's hard to say that I really care what people think about it. It's not as if I'm some main-stream junkie or Idol fanatic, I just appreciate talent, and unabashed nature.

Lambert is a far cry from the usual stock of humanized, modest Idol finalists and, reflecting on contestants of the past, it's a bit of a wonder how he even came to be even accepted as far as Hollywood, as opposed to receiving the ax for, I don't know...over dramatics? (see; Bikini Girl? Hello?) But I suppose that raw talent does count for something nowadays. (Hopefully)

So, Lambert survived the Idol and at the 2009 American Music Awards made his (re?)debut, much to the displeasure of many. In a closing performance for the awards show, Lambert led two leather clad men across the floor by leashes, ground a singers face against his pelvis and kissed a male band mate. Lambert is still suffering the fallout of this performance, having been cancelled from Good Morning America as well as Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Lambert tweeted his response to the ABC cancellations, saying that the station was responding to "FCC heat", brought on by his "racy" performance.

But, really now? Of course there's virtually no mention anywhere of Janet Jackson fondling one of her dancers during her AMA performance.

And then there was the matter of the Early show censoring the photo of Adam Lambert kissing his keyboardist before showing a perfectly unedited photo of the infamous Britney Spears/Madonna kiss. CBS responded to the questions raised by issuing the following statement,
"We gave this some real thought. The Madonna image is very familiar and has appeared countless times including many times on morning television. The Adam Lambert image is a subject of great current controversy, has not been nearly as widely disseminated, and for all we know, may still lead to legal consequences.”

I really can't be the only one smelling double standard here.

Female musicians have gotten away with risque performances in the past, not garnering even close to nearly as much controversy as Lambert has in his short time in the public eye. Because Adam Lambert is a man, he simply can't do what women can do (no pun intended). And because he is a homosexual man, people feel that he shouldn't even try.

If a female performed Lambert's AMA "scandal" to the T, there would be no controversy.

and that's what irks me. There's a double standard here, pertaining to female and male gender roles.

People try to put Adam Lambert in a box. And he doesn't like boxes. He puts a nail-polished fist through boxes. Boxes for how as a man he should act. Boxes for how, as a man for American Idol, his performances should be.

Well, I've been criticized and chastised for showing an interest in Adam Lambert (beyond his supposed controversies), because he is deemed main-stream. Because he is from American Idol. And as I've stated before, I'm not an Idol fiend. It's now cool to be a critic. It's now cool to like the uncool, to be uncool.

And that's why it's not cool to like Lambert, because he's popular. You shouldn't talk about him, unless it's about his "racy" aspects.

But if being uncool is only now cool, then I've always been ahead of the curve.