V for Vendetta


       Led by director James McTeigue, V for Vendetta is overflowing with action and  adventure, made to keep you on your toes. The 2006 flick is somewhat complex, but its political and romantic storylines are interesting and entertaining. Together Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving will stop at nothing until the people of London, understand the deceitfulness, lies, and hardship the English parliament has caused them.

“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot”

    The movie starts of with this quote, and practically throughout the entire film, we can see re-enactment on what happened on the 5th of November, when a man named Guy Fawkes brought the gunpowder into the tunnels, in an attempt to blow it up he was caught, and executed. This takes place at the very beginning of the movie.

     I saw this film twice: once in class and a second time at home. I’ve got to admit that I got much more out of this film seeing it a second time. At first, the film seemed long, boring, and way to complicated.

    V for Vendetta is set in London that has been taken over by a fascist mean and manipulative dictatorship. This government survives on the fears of its citizens to keep them in order. The story follows a young woman named Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) who meets the so called terrorist V (Hugo Weaving) in an alley,  as he plans to bring down the fascist government with madness ,sabotage and the assinations of important vital members of parliament.  He believes this will in fact “change” government.

    The movie begins as Evey, (Natalie Portman) is rescued by V from a group of men in a dark alley, just as they were about to rape her. V, then takes Evey away to see his “show” on the rooftops,  little does she know, she is about to witness the demolition of The Old Bailey, London’s town symbol. V is sure that blowing up buildings can fix parliaments problems. V makes a promise that, after the destruction of The Old Bailey building, that on the next November the 5th, he will continue in the footsteps of Guy Fawkes and blow up Parliament.

   The government in V for Vendetta can be compared to Nazi Germany, with its flag symbols and many evil dictators. To me, V for Vendetta is a film based on “the right” What does a government really do if they are  never questioned; if citizens just accept everything they tell us or do. Although this movie is obviously fake it makes us think about our own “problems” with society and the government that leads us.

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”- V.

   On the other hand V for Vendetta is a just a movie that should have of made you think? As it made me think.  Which I believe was exact intent of the film, to make you think.  People need to decide for themselves: Is V a hero or terrorist? Is what he’s doing right or wrong?

    I believe Natalie Portman’s performance as Evey is very well played out. Basically, she starts out as an unsure young woman, somewhat frightened of life. Throughout the course of the film, she gains an inner strength and is shaped into a person very mush  like V. She becomes a strong, confident, and direct force focused on changing the world for the better, and no longer burdened by fear.

   Chancellor Sutler, the “leader” of the government on the other hand is mean, manipulative, and runs a corrupt government. He only appears on the television during the movie. Sutler, whom I believe is more like the modern day Hitler, believes in a total dictatorship. Sutler, who was the leader in the so called nuclear “war” years ago , was held responsible for ruining and killing the lives of innocent immigrants, muslims, and homosexuals,  sending them to concentration camps. These crimes against humanity were unknown to the citizens of London.

    However, it is V who stands out, although his face is very well hidden by a Guy Fawkes mask the entire movie .He is a very intellectual man whose signature musical interests throughout the film include Beethoven’s 5th symphony. I found myself rooting for the guy and his cause, although he is a “terrorist.” It makes someone reconsider exactly what a terrorist is?

    The movie also emphasizes some romantic aspects as well. One between Valerie and Ruth, two lesbian’s lovers torn away by the government and eventually killed. And the other with  Evey and V. In my opinion their relationship is not one of sexual feelings, but more of a kinship between two individuals who feel, love and act very similar. Evey grows to love V, because he makes her see who she really is. Fearless. She admitted to V that her fear has taken over her and when he takes it away, well that opens a new window in her life.

    While the middle and the end of the movie are somewhat slow, it has its times where it picks up and gets good, but not too much. The last part of the film comes through with the visuals and action sequences that are actually, in my opinion really good. Audiences should definitely be prepared to be entertained, but also do a little bit of thinking too.

     I also like the interesting use of music. The music used over the scene of the Old Bailey courthouse being destroyed, is great and adds the entire effect to the moment . As a huge fan of the stones I especially loved the song being played in the ending credits “Street Fighting Man” which is a very political song about anti-war. Also, the music that comes out of V’s jukebox is wonderful stuff. I really love the tune that they eventually dance to “Cry Me a River”, because all this point it shows the kind of love V has for Evey, and how he is longing to share a dance with someone.

     In the end, V succeeds in his attempts to blow up Parliament, but not without cost. Evey is forced to lay V’s lifeless body into the stack of explosives inside a train that is to be sent under Parliament. This train is then wired to explode under Parliament, and therefore, ignite the revolution V dreamed about.

–Raquel Ortega







Simplistic, Romantic, Willa Cather.



 Willa Cather was born on December 7, 1873, in Back Creek, Virginia. She was an American author, writer and teacher. Cather was noted for her books about immigrants and their struggle to make a living in the Midwest during the 1800’s.She became famously known for her works in My Antonia, O Pioneers!, and The Song of the Lark.When Cather was nine year old, her family relocated from Virginia to Nebraska. She spent the majority of her child life there. The small town Red Cloud was mostly an immigrant town with more “foreigners” than “Americans.” Since Cather wrote novels about individuals and immigrant groups who had not been written about before,  people will find her characters “individualized” and true-to-life. At first, Cather did not like the small rural town, but became to love all the land and people around her, this eventually became some of the many inspirations of her books.


“I was little and homesick and lonely…So the country and I had it out together and by the end of the first autumn the shaggy grass country had gripped me with a passion that I have never been able to shake. It has been the happiness and curse of my life.”


           In the quote, Cather describes her loneliness as a child. She quickly recalls it being a time in her life where she was sad and “homesick”, but later realizes how the meadows of Nebraska changed her life forever.


           After, graduating from Red Cloud High School in 1890, she went on to continue her education at the University of Nebraska. But Cather’s passion wasn’t always writing. At first she wanted to study medicine, however when one of her stories was published in the school newspaper, she developed a great adoration for literature. In college, Willa spent time editing the school magazine and publishing articles and play reviews in the local papers. In 1892 she published her short story “Peter” in a Boston magazine, a story that later became part of her novel My Antonia. After graduating in 1895, she returned to Red Cloud where she was offered a position editing Home Monthly in Pittsburgh.


From about, 1901-1906 Cather went on to become a High School teacher. She latter received a job working for one of New York’s finest magazines, McClure’s Magazine. There she became the managing editor. After working as a journalist in New York, she published one of her most famous novels O Pioneers!  The novel tells the story of a Swedish immigrant family. After the main character, a young girl inherits the farmland after her father passes; she is devoted to making the farm a reasonable and workable place for prairie families to live. In 1912, Cather relinquished her editorial duties at McClure’s, and stared traveling and writing full time.


Her travels set an inspiration for one of her novels, The Song of the Lark. There a theme of journey appeared. In the novel, a young girl leaves her small rural town in pursuit of becoming a famous opera singer. My Antonia, a story about her life in Nebraska, was a tale about land and immigrant pioneers.


Willa Cather once said, “she understood the coming change between cultures, she saw immigrant children moving away from the culture of their parents and into a kind of uneasy Americanism”


John Giangrasso, 25, says “nowadays some kids get caught up in “materialistic” objects and really forget where they come from, but always find their way back”


My Antonia is among Cather’s finest work, but according to A negative review of Willa Cather: Writing at the Frontier by Alice Hall Petry critics point out that her male characters often have female attitudes and interests. From an early age, Cather was troubled by her sexual identity. She preferred to dress in men’s clothing and as a teenager she began signing her name William Cather, Jr. Cather also was active in community theater productions and often took male roles. In My Antonia the main character Jim Burden grows up with a fear of sex and only in fantasy he allows a half-naked woman to smother him with kisses. The original of Antonia was Annie Pavelka, who Cather met as a child and maintained a lifelong friendship.


Willa Cather’s literary heritage is a complex one. She is most well known for her subject matter. It was new in early American literature to write about the immigrants who arrived in the United States. However, there is a uniquely American tradition of writing that Cather succeeds to. According to Willa Cather: A Literary Life by James Woodress, he terms Cathers literature as a form of “regionalism in contemporary literary criticism.” Regionalism is a kind of fiction that pays close attention to place, especially the land, in the lives of characters.

Cather thought of her fiction as doing something new, but doing it out of the materials of the past. She is definitely known as a part of the “legacy of past writers” as her influences in her fiction writing.

Cather is most known for her novels, but she was a short story craftsperson as well. One of her more popular story is Old Mrs. Harris, it was told to be her best. Among her collections of short stories are Youth and the Bright Medusa and Obscure Destinies.

Willa Cather stated in her later years about Nebraska: “that country was the happiness and the curse”of her life. She admired the pioneers who struggled to make a better life for themselves and their families. She loved the trees and the wildflowers, especially the sunflowers along the roads which she wrote always “seemed the roads to freedom.” She also believed that the tree’s lives were connected with pioneers and that no place in the world grew more beautiful flowers than Nebraska. Which is why many people say Cathers work as a literary author was simplistic, romantic, and all-in-all very natural.

According to sources, Willa Cather was a life-long lesbian, although she hid it for many years. Cather’s closest relationship was with her lifetime companion, an editor by the name of Edith Lewis. The two lived together in Greenwich Village for forty years, until their deaths. They arranged to be buried together when they died.

All in all, readers can now get a sense of how Cather dedicated herself to writing, and the struggle she went through, just to hide her sexual identity. She had a lifelong passion for writing. Her literature is definately well respected for its naturalistic and simple demeanor.





Bennett, Mildred R. The World of Willa Cather. New York: Dodd Mead, and Co., 1951.


Woodress, James Willa Cather: A Literary Life. U of Nebraska Press, 1989.

A negative review of Willa Cather: Writing at the Frontier. Alice Hall Petry.

Click below to see chronology timelines of Willa Cather:




–Raquel Ortega

Homosexuals, gays, lesbians. Let them marry.

Ok let’s get real. If you ask around, most of “us” especially the generation Y population are in favor for gay marriage and equal rights for homosexuals. This brings us to one of the most controversial issues among America today. The “gays.” There are still many issues people want to know, questions need to be answered. Will society actually benefit from gay marriage? Perhaps. Or most importantly, is gay marriage changing “traditional” current marital sanctions? But, in my opinion there is still one question that concerns me, do we still agree with the notion that all same-sex loving, committed couples can marry?

I believe, clearly and fully that most same-sex couples, along with the gay and lesbian population would marry if same-sex marriage was legal. In a recent study the California Supreme Court concluded that gay marriage will be good for the economy. The study says that same-sex weddings will give California just that boost it needs, also creating about 2,200 additional jobs. The California study also says that same-sex couples should add about $684 million to the state’s wedding business.The study estimates that half of California’s 100,000 gay couples will marry over the next three years and on average about 70,000 come from out-of-state.

Since we know how same-sex marriage can be beneficial for the economy. We can now move on to how it is “good for gays.” A recent article by Gay Patriot, shows that gay institutions “can provide role models for gay people, after the exhileration of coming out, can easily lapse into short-term realationships and insecurity with no tangible goal in sight.” If its not obvious, marriage can provide homosexuals with legal benefits like health insurance, but most gays look for a sense of social acceptance. So why are so many Americans bothered by it? Could it be the fact that they just don’t want to see it? If two people care about each other, who cares if they are straight or not?

Fortunately in France, The Civil act of Solidarity (PACS) is a legal civil union between two same-sex couples. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less than marriage. PACS is a “contract” drawn up between the couple. Individuals who have registered a PACS are still considered “single” with regard to family status for some purposes, while they are considered in the same way as married couples are for other purposes. Registered couples are able to share such things as joint auto insurance, extend their social-security coverage to each other, file joint tax returns, and leave each other property in their wills on favorable tax terms.

Author and homosexual activist Jonathan Rauch, argues that “gay marriage is not so much a civil rights issue as a civil responsibility issue.” Rauch claims, that each gay person is an individual seeking a good life. Just like the rest of us straight people who have happiness and good health, gays deserve it too. It should be a way of life that we should not object to give. Like many others of my generation, Rauch also believes same-sex marriage will “dignify gay love and sex as it has done straight love and sex.”

A close relative of mine, Tamara, 28, when faced with the question-what is the difference between gay and straight marriage? She simply replied, gender, religion, and the law. Tamara who is for gay marriage believes every human deserves the right to love, without discrimination like many people still do.

As to the idea of “traditional” marriage—the nuclear family was not seen in the USA until the early years of the 20th century. And even in the past hundred years, there have been many households that did not fit that model, like divorced and mixed family marriages. So will same-sex marriage weaken traditional marriage? Now, we do not know if gay marriage can actually improve or weaken traditional marriage. Gays marrying or not marrying should not have any impact upon the marriages of straight couples. A close friend of mine Katherine, 22, believes that same-sex marriage may actually influence straight couples to get married, as it can remind people that marriage is an important sanction between two people who share love for one another.

This brings up the reason why gay marriage would be a bad thing, and it is the same reason straight marriage is already a bad thing for many; people are not involved not true. Many people may not be prepared to deliver on their promises whether its was to stay faithful or deliver on financial affairs. Some people who do not believe in same-sex marriage in the United States claim that allowing gays and lesbians to marry would risk the institution of marriage, weaken families, and cause harm to children or loved ones.

We should ask ourselves, what really is marriage? Can the two words “I Do” change the way society views us? Can gays really “marry” without being discriminated? Those who are serious about gay marriage should not have to prove themselves to anyone, and maybe same-sex marriage can change American culture. If gay marriage is to have any meaning, society should not limit love to just man and woman.

–Raquel Ortega

Alleged Stolen Car Chase Leads to Death of a Grandmother


          FREEPORT, New York– Car accident kills one and injures two in an alleged stolen  car chase. On a Saturday evening, a Hispanic female (whose full name cannot be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement) died on the operating table from severe internal injuries. The accident included daughter, grandson, and son-in-law.

          Around 10:30 pm Saturday evening, Fire medic Lourdes Rosado-Norman and husband Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Joseph Norman were quietly sleeping in their home, as they are woken up by skretching tires and a loud crash. Norman explained “it was a loud crash” followed by a “screaming hysterical people.”

          According to the Patient Care Report, all four passengers lived in Brentwood, New York. Upon arriving at the scene Fire Medics’ immediately saw Espenol, 23 screaming in pain, and took notice of the injuries she sustained including a broken leg. Chitas,23, who was uninjured claims to have been chasing someone who had just stolen his car, and immediately jumped into Espenols’ vehicle to follow the stolen car. According to Chitas,23, they were “chasing” a male Hispanic that had “stolen his car” heading east down Merrick Road, speeding over the 30 mph speed limit, and losing control of the vehicle.

          The collision took place at the corner of Merrick Road and Park Avenue, just down the street from where the Normans’ live. When speaking with Fire Medic Norman, she recalls both her husband and herself “jumping out of bed” and immediately driving to the scene of the accident not realizing it was just down the street. Upon arriving at the scene, they immediately “assessed the situation” to see if any people were injured and to verify that 911 was called. Medics saw the small four door Toyota on the side walk. According to witnesses and statements given by family, the car spun and rolled over as per bystanders after hitting a pole, tree, and taking down a fire hydrant.

          By the time Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Joseph Norman, rushed to help Espenol,23, Nassau County Police Ambulance, Freeport Fire Department, and Freeport Police had arrived at the scene. Fire Medic Norman, noticed Grandmother,44, lying prone (on stomach) screaming that she could not breath and rushed to save her. Fire Medic Norman remembers trying to “calm” the wounded female as she scremed hysterically in pain. Norman said “it was just like she was drowning in her own blood, I felt helpless.” When Fire Medic Norman turned Espenol,44, over she instantly noticed a “massive” bruise on her lower torso and also noticed that Espenol had obvious signs of internal bleeding.

          According to Emergency Medical Technician Joseph Norman, passengers Espenol,44, and grandson Espenol-Chitas,4, were “forcefully ejected” thru the back window of the vehicle. Medics claim that Espenol,44, landed 15 feet from where the car spun many times and hit the pole.

          Espenol, 44, was later pronounced dead at Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC), due to massive internal bleeding, and a lacerated liver and spleen. According to Medics, Espenol-Chitas,4, had no obvious signs of shock, but was complaining of lower back pain, and has minor cuts and bruises. The child was suspected of being ejected from the back window, along with his grandmother. He was transported to Nassau University Medical Center by members of the Freeport Fire Department Emergency Rescue Company # 9.

          When Asked, How can unfortunate accidents like such be avoided? Fire Medic Lourdes Rosado-Norman and Medical Technician Joseph Norman, along with the Freeport Fire Department give us some tips:
1. ALWAYS use seat belts.
2. Let police handle their own business.

          These tip are not a sure way to prevent a car accident, but restraints have had a profound effect on reducing collision related deaths says Fire Medic Norman.

-Raquel Ortega

Arts and Education

Making money is usually the number one priority for most people. Interestingly enough, John Grasso has spent most of his life focusing on his first love, music. I immediately saw an ambitious and creative person who was willing to understand and accept the differences in others. John truly “wowed” me with his dedication to the arts and his vow to entertaining, guiding, and educating special education teenagers.

Aside from Johns’ caring willingness to help others, he has practiced music to the best of his abilities. John has dedicated most of his life to learning, composing, and practicing music. According to John it “doesn’t matter” what kind of music genre it is, as long as it’s melodic beats, rhythm, and  sounds come together to create an amazing tune. When asked, what makes him a good musician? He simply stated Dedication, Desire and Determination. He believes he has all three to keep perfecting his material. Through much practice John has already perfected what some people thrive to accomplish. He is able to play an array of instruments from the piano, drum and guitar to beat mixing and learning basic skills with his turntable. He explains “He doesn’t need anyone’s help either when it comes to putting together the track, arranging it, mixing it, compressing or mastering it. John like many other young male adults has been extremely influenced by rap legends like Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, and Dr. Dre, but has also looked up to American rock bands like Maroon Five. Until now, he has come to believe that there is no place for him on stage and the majority of his musical work is producing and writing creative music. Currently John is extremely happy where he is at musically and says “He has received a lot of reviews from people who have heard it.” He states “When you see someone’s eyes light up because of something you put together and is so much a part of you, the feeling can’t be beat.

Still one question was on my mind. Did John ever think about becoming a music teacher? He replied NO. He said he was once in a music class at Nassau Community College and felt “Stuck out, like a sore thumb.” To him the class has no variety, mainly just focusing on jazz and classical music.

 John instantly grasped my attention when he said he wanted to become a special education teacher for “different” teens. He explained that he has an infinite amount of compassion and willingness to help handicap teens to achieve academic success. In his words he believes “Communication is key, to ensure a child’s well-being.” With this in mind I immediately sought out some questions to really capture what John is trying to “achieve” through teaching handicap students. When asked, what (in his perspective) what would he find to be the most challenging part of teaching? He said “Just trying to get out of character” because special education teachers need to be very focused in understanding  a persons needs and wants, but overall he say that his character is not going to change because he feels he “has no control over that.” He states “I just know that I’ve questioned myself in the past and I always land on my feet.” John believes that one thing will make him a good teacher, his personality. John explains, his “People skills” come naturally to him and through his love for teaching he is excited to share and express himself with students. Although John has no experience with handicap teens, he believes “Everyone does want to learn, and if you don’t want to learn you don’t want to grow.”

John is also part of the many people who love comedy. He is deeply inspired by a mixture or surreal stories whether about him or his many friends. In the future he would like his debut solo sitcom to feature a good friend’s father. When asked why? He said because “he’s just so funny”. Some of his many comedic inspirations range from comedic performers like Dave Chappelle to Martin Lawrence.  John admits that he likes to “make people feel better”, whether it is with comedy or his witty, confident, down to earth personality.

All in all, John ambitious and creative ways have greatly inspired him to achieve any goal he sets his kind to. His caring and understanding determination to help “special” teens came clear when speaking with him. He has dedicated his life to pleasing other whether it is musically or through communication. Through communication and entertainment he plans to motivate others and himself.


  Raquel Ortega