Author Archives: Alexander Conover

Oh, Hi Mark!

Movies are an art form, one that can make us feel so many emotions in such a short time span. Where else can we experience high-quality visual storytelling to capture our imagination? In a book perhaps, but not just any book. This book details the history of a movie so bad that it is internationally recognized as a passion project gone wrong that ends up being funny.

Enter The Room, the famously infamous bad film and the book, The Disaster Artist, written by Bay Area native Greg Sestero. Greg details the nights and days leading up to the release of The Room along with his friend, the infamous Tommy Wiseau. Together, they embark on a strange journey through Hollywood, their dreams and themselves.

For those who do not know, The Room was a film released in 2002 and was directed by Tommy Wiseau, who is also the main character in his own movie and lists himself as Producer and Executive Producer. The film became a laughing stock among the movie-going communities. Thanks to the internet, it became widely known as one of the worst movies ever made. Greg Sestero is an actor in the film and has since written the book, The Disaster Artist.

The Disaster Artist is told from Greg Sestero’s point of view and alternates between The Room’s production and his increasingly complicated friendship with Tommy Wiseau. He also dwells on the mystery of Tommy’s origins. His thick Eastern-Europe, French-ish accent is already confusing enough, but it is also detailed that Tommy Wiseau has an insane amount of money within his reach.

The book also details what life was like during the production of The Room, from the insane working conditions to Tommy Wiseau’s nearly insane persistence. Fans of The Room will surely get a kick out of the on-set hijinks that had occurred.

The Disaster Artist will surely keep you interested all the way to the end as Tommy Wiseau’s questionable antics keep getting crazier and crazier.

The Disaster Artist has since been adapted into a feature film, starring James Franco. It has been nominated for an Oscar for best-adapted screenplay and won a Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a motion picture for comedy or drama. James Franco was there to accept the award as was Tommy Wiseau.

Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau recently reunited in a new two-part film series called Best F(r)iends. The first part was shown for a limited time on March 30 and April 2 in theaters, the second part will also be a limited time movie event with two screenings on June 1 and June 4 at your local theater.

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Complete Streets Initiative

One does not need to look far to see the less than stellar state of Hayward’s streets. The cracked streets are very much apparent and are in need of repair. Thankfully, an initiative is in place to improve the streets and sidewalks of Hayward.

The Complete Streets Initiative aims to improve the streets of Hayward and the Tennyson corridor, as well as to keep pedestrians safe. The initiative also plans to improve biking paths and sidewalks, as well as repaving roads and filling potholes of many streets in Hayward including Tennyson Road. Union City resident Arturo Soto agrees. He’s seen terrible road conditions on Industrial Blvd, as well as Mission Road. Arturo also pointed out that lower income areas generally tend to get less roadwork.

Teaming up with Smart Growth America, an organization whose mission is to advocate for federal policies and programs that support neighborhood development, 1,140 agencies nationwide are adopting the initiative to provide for a better environment for their communities.

The Complete Streets Initiative launched in 2004, planning to “…promotes the implementation of Complete Streets policies and professional practices,” according to the Smart Growth America website. Hayward is also partnering with Bike East Bay for better, protected cycling lanes.

Vision Zero Network, an organization committed to helping communities increase traffic safety, also partnered with the project. The Vision Zero strategy was first successfully implemented in Sweden in the 1990’s and was also proven successful across Europe.

Their approach included preventing traffic deaths while applying normal human faults, while also reworking transportation systems to prevent fatal car crashes, as well as widening roads and sidewalks. Pedestrian safety was a priority, entire intersections were reworked, including bike lanes.

The Complete Streets Initiative also includes the Complete Communities Strategic Initiative. The Complete Communities Initiative aims to improve Hayward so that it may become a better, thriving place to live for people of every citizen, family, and employee.

Transportation Manager, Fred Kelly, explains that these three initiatives work together. Complete Streets, Complete Communities and Tennyson corridor all overlap in certain fields. “There will be efforts to see what we view as a vision of Tennyson road.” The initiative includes protected bike lanes, the number, and width of traffic lanes as well as sidewalks.

The Complete Streets initiative, along with the Tennyson Corridor and the Complete Communities Initiative is one of the most important steps to making the overall Hayward community and the Tennyson corridor a better place.

For more information regarding the Tennyson Corridor, Complete Streets Initiative and Complete Communities Initiative, visit hayward-ca.gov.

Netflix’s Icarus: A Review

Scandals are commonplace in the world today. We hear about them every day on the internet, on news channels, even through word of mouth. Big or small, these scandals affect the population in a negative way. There will be many people jumping in on it on social media, condemning an event or person for what they caused and what was hidden over the years that was brought to light. When it happens to a person we have looked up to for years it’s a punch to the gut and a stab to the heart. What happens when it’s on an international scale?

Icarus is a documentary by Bryan Fogel about the Russian doping scandal uncovered in 2016. The documentary details Bryan Fogel’s journey into the experimental world of doping in sports and how it led him to the largest doping scandal in Olympic history.

For those who are not aware of the scandal, the story was published by The New York Times in 2016. Grigory Rodchenkov’s testimony detailed Russia’s state-sponsored doping program and how it affected past summer and winter Olympic events. Rodchenkov was originally the team’s doctor, working late at night close to the stadium in Sochi. The process of cheating drug tests was detailed by Rodchenkov and led to the Olympic committee temporarily banning Russia from competing in any other Olympic sporting events. He does not regret telling this information, but it does put his life in danger.

The film will keep you intrigued until the very end, wondering what will happen to Fogel and everyone else involved as the scandal breaks. The connections to many other smaller doping scandals, from Lance Armstrong to Barry Bonds, helps put into perspective what Bryan Fogel planned to achieve in this film as well as provide information as to how deep scandals can go.

The film drags in places in which there are slow moments that reflect on the weight of the situation, but those don’t last long as there is always some interesting scenes around the corner. Information is presented in a way so that keeps you interested and glued to the screen for the duration of the movie.

Overall, Icarus is a long, detailed look into the controversial world of doping and how it affects athletes as well as the Olympics. If you want a film to keep you interested and keeps you guessing, this is the movie to watch. With its suspenseful and emotional moments, this is one documentary you don’t want to miss.

The film was nominated for and won Best Documentary at the 2018 Oscars. Icarus is now available for streaming only on Netflix.

Los Angeles Times Boycotts Disney

On November 3 Disney decided to stop conducting business with the Los Angeles Times for their “unfair business” reviews in the city of Anaheim, banning the publication from private screenings for the movie Thor Ragnarok.

According to the article published by the Los Angeles Times in September, Disney has not been paying their fair share to the city of Anaheim for Disneyland Park. The city of Anaheim has granted various bonds, rebates and tax shield to the park for years.

Disney supports and funds various aspects of Anaheim, including funding for the local police department. Even so, employees of the Disneyland Resort and the residents of Anaheim share the same concerns that Disney isn’t doing enough for the city.

After the article had been published, Disney stopped contacting the Los Angeles Times and banning them from private screenings of Disney’s recent box office hit, Thor Ragnarok. Despite this, the review was published on time.

Shortly after, many critics came out in support of the Los Angeles Times, including the LA Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics and Ava DuVernay, who directed A Wrinkle in Time for Disney earlier this year. They all declined private screenings by Disney unless the ban was lifted and removed any Disney films from any of their year-end awards.

On November 7, Disney lifted the ban due to pressure from critics. The Los Angeles Times released a statement in the aftermath of the ban being lifted. “A powerful company punishing a news organization for a story they do not like is meant to have a chilling effect. This is a dangerous precedent and not at all in the public interest.

A packed main floor when opened to the public

Day of the Devs 2017

A packed main floor when opened to the public

Packed Main Floor

Day of the Devs is an annual gathering of independent developers and the gaming public to try out Independent games that are yet to be released. Independent developer Double Fine has been hosting Day of the Devs since 2012. Developers come from around the world to show their games to the public, to share their vision with hundreds of people.
 
In a small building in the Warehouse district of San Francisco, people stand in lines to try out games they’ve been waiting for, with developers on standby waiting to answer questions and see how people play their game. Among these many games, there will be ones that stand out, such as Harry Halibut, a game created entirely out of clay figures and settings scanned from actual 3D models.
 
Game Designer and composer, Onat Hekimoglu spoke with us about his game. “Our inspirations come from a lot of places. If you ask us, it came from many 1990s adventure games, but also stop-motion films that inspired us to go for this style. When we started, we experimented with various techniques including real stop motion animation. It was one of the biggest obstacles, but from that point on once we had all that set up everything went well.”
Main Hallway

Main Hallway

 
 
Another game teaches people that it is OK to be shy, to take a look inside themselves. Developer Pale Room looks to explore more of this concept.
 
Gabrielle told us about her inspiration for Small Talk, a surreal game that deals with exploring and understanding your inner self. “I was reading a lot of David Foster Wallace books, and I loved that idea of making games that are a part of you, and you can actually see yourself, and you’re actually changed a bit by it. Games don’t make themselves, you have to make them, and it’s putting enough time aside to get through it. I lucked out because you have to find people that are really dedicated to a specific vision. I want people to see a little bit more inside of themselves.”
 
Friendship and cooperation are another important theme. Pode is one such game. Based in Norway, developer Henchmen and Goon set out to make a likable cooperative game that can be played by anyone.
 
Game Designer Yngvill Hopen talked about her inspiration for Pode. “I wanted to make a game to play with my three-year-old son. You could have one person do all the difficult puzzles while the other explores. The setting of the game is based on Norwegian folk art, just Norwegian nature. Our obstacle was being able to balance the game for a single player and cooperation and making everything work and making a game fun for a three-year-old child as well as an adult. It’s been a lot of work to make everything look right. I want to teach people to work together and be friends. It’s very focused on emphasizing positive actions.”
 
Games like Pode can teach others about friendship and fun for all ages. The people at Sunset Division say otherwise, by creating a game isolating the player on an abandoned mining rig on an unknown planet leaving you to your own devices. The Rig is a virtual reality experience which puts players in the shoes of a travel agent in search of his lost sister-in-law. This haunting experience will keep them on their toes. Local San Francisco developer Sunset Division wanted to make a virtual reality game that was like the old adventure games of the 90s.
 
Artist and Filmmaker Abe Deekman detailed why making virtual reality games are so difficult. “The biggest obstacle was virtual reality, that’s all brand-new for us, and it’s very different in ways I never expected from making a traditional 2D game. Things you would think that would normally work no longer work at all. For example, moving around, you want to lessen the impact and how it plays. It’s hard to move really quickly because people will get sick really quickly. We have teleporting to solve that.”

From left to right: Planet Alpha, Runner3, Hello Neighbor

Bit Trip Runner 3, by Choice Provisions, has the wacky fun people are looking for. Weird imagery, a bouncy soundtrack, and a challenge. Game designer Dant Rambo and his team had a love for the older Classic Atari games as well as rhythm games. They made the first Bit Trip Runner game out of passion and kept with it, making sequels. He hopes to teach people that games can be more than just shooters and gritty adventure games. The games industry is dominated by a wide range of individuals looking to express their visions to the world, and this is just the start.

P. Diddy to Brother Love and Back Again

P Diddy, also known as Sean Combs, has decided once again to change his name. This time, he has decided to be called “Brother Love”, sparking confusion among his fans, annoyance among people who use common sense and outrage among the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) fan base.
 
On November 6, he announced in a Twitter video that he would no longer be answering to the many other names he has been come to be known by, but instead “Love aka Brother Love.” In his video, he explained further, saying that he feels like a different person. “I’m just not who I am before, I’m something different.”
 
Unfortunately, this new nickname has caught the attention of fans of the WWE, as it is the same nickname for Bruce Prichard, manager and producer for the WWE. Bruce was not pleased with the rapper’s latest name change.
 
Due to this, Sean Combs has gone back on his new nickname in another Twitter video, “Due to an overwhelming response from the media and due to not wanting there to be any confusion … I was only joking. It was just one of my alter-egos, one of my alter-egos is Love.”
 
People have also pointed out that a musician from Nashville also shares the same nickname. Larry Florman, an independent artist, has had the nickname since 2001.
 
Names changes happen often in the rap industry, such as when Snoop Dogg changed to reggae music, and gave himself the new nickname, Snoop Lion.
 
Sean Combs currently goes by Diddy, P Diddy and Puff.

Holiday Shopping Shenanigans

The holiday season is here, and everyone is getting in on the holiday spirit. You’ll notice every department store putting up decorations as well as multiple neighbors. Planning the ever important Thanksgiving and Christmas gathering gives way to good times and bad times, but the time we spend with family and friends are memories to cherish forever.

Things can get crazy during the holiday season, especially in food stores around Thanksgiving. Turkeys are the main food item to have when preparing for these dinners.

Hayward resident and FoodMaxx employee Walter Carrasco recalled a rather odd situation involving turkeys. “Two years ago during the week of Thanksgiving, a man was trying to sneak two big turkeys in his pants. It was so obvious that my boss was just standing there in front of him probably thinking ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was hilarious when he tried to run out the door. He didn’t get the turkeys. They fell out of his pants the second he moved.”

Mark Conover, a self-employed locksmith, remembers what he considers to be a “time-honored tradition” from his childhood. “We would have Thanksgiving at my Aunt’s house in San Francisco. I would sneak out of the house with the other kids and go over to the shopping district to dumpster dive behind department stores like Sears and JCPenny to find toys that were thrown away.”

The holidays can be busy for schoolteachers as well. Ginger Clark, a teacher at California High School in San Ramon, recalled her tradition as a child of transforming coins on New Year’s Eve. “An unusual family celebration tradition was when I was about 10, my grandfather and grandmother believed if we put out pennies on New Year’s Eve, they would all be turned into nickels and quarters.

This time of year other big events are celebrated, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Sometimes, the results can be pretty silly. Hayward resident Helene Adams remembers celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas, as well as teaching her son the Hava Nagila, a Jewish song to be sung on Hanukkah nights. “When I was a little girl, between 5 and 8, I lived in a very conservative Jewish household. Christmas used to fall in the middle of Hanukkah. We celebrated Christmas with presents and Hanukkah with money. Jewish kids in the neighborhood also got presents twice, which was very nice.”

“When I got married and had two children, the youngest stayed with us. We taught him as much as we could about the Jewish religion. While trying to teach him the Hava Nagila in Yiddish, he finally learned to sing it, but the only way he could sing it was by standing on the edge of the couch and holding on to the front door knob. It was very funny, and we took lots of pictures.”

While reading about these memories of holidays past, it is important to remember to make memories of your own. The holidays are meant to be spent with family, to have conversations, bond with relatives and have amazing food. Make sure to think of the family this holiday season and the good times you’ll spend with them.

Balcony Culture

The upper floor of the Chabot Cafeteria could be viewed as another space to converse with friends and eat good food. It is more than that. It is a space where people meet up every day to talk, play games and relax, as well as having a fantastic view of the entire Cafeteria floor. The Student Center Balcony is here for you.

People often bring their television setups and consoles, hook them up and play with their friends for hours on end. This is a unique place to share their interests with other like-minded people. They will also bring in decks from their favorite card games, set up a table and play to their heart’s content.

The space also contains walled-off areas in which groups of people can achieve some privacy and hang out for hours. Students also use the space to study for important tests when the balcony is mostly empty.

Even after class hours, the Student Center Balcony will always remain open so that anyone can come and relax. If you want a space that has almost everything you’ve ever dreamed of, this is the place to be.

The Student Center Balcony is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Disabled Students Resource Center

Chabot College is full of diverse students. Each has their own personality, their own mind and their own ways of studying and learning. People use their notepads, maybe physically writing things down helps them remember the information. Unfortunately, there are also others who have trouble learning, some who don’t learn the same way. It takes the extra effort to learn the same material, but there is one place on campus that can help with that.

The Disabled Students Resource Center can help these students through what could have been a difficult semester by offering the services they need to aid them throughout the semester and beyond. At the DSRC, tutors are also available to help students understand the material, as well as a “High-tech center,” adaptive technologies for students with disabilities. The services include text to braille converters, computers for students with low vision and scanners.

The DSRC also hosts events to raise awareness around disabilities and the struggle of daily life. The Able-Disabled Club exists to aid students by planning social gatherings, as well as providing campus awareness for students with disabilities. Every year they host a Disability Awareness Day during the spring season to help all kinds of students understand and cope with disabilities, as well as provide food and host sports events.

The Disabled Students Resource Center is committed to providing all the help a student needs to get through their semester. If you would like to help these students, you can sign up as a tutor at the DSRC in Building 2400. If you would like more information about the DSRC, you can pick up a copy of the DSRC Disabled Students Resource Center Magazine at Building 2400, or you can find it online on the Chabot College website. You can also see one of the many counselors at the DSRC is you have any more questions.

Napa Fire Covers the Bay in Smoke

On October 8, the Atlas wildfire in Napa County had grown in size and became dangerous to many homes and businesses near it.

Unfortunately, winds carrying the smoke across the Bay Area, left many to face the clouds of smoke.

The brown haze of heavy smoke from the wildfires in the North Bay brought about many air quality warnings from the Bay Area Air Quality Management. Their report on October 9 warned the public to stay indoors and to avoid unnecessary exposure and to reduce the amount of smoky air indoors by keeping the windows and doors closed.

By Wednesday, October 11, the harmful smoke had made its way to Hayward, creating a layer of toxic air. It prompted many at Chabot College to get face-masks from the Health Center to protect them from the smoke.

Chabot student Lisette Donaire recalled the day after, on October 12, when the air quality was still bad, “I was on campus October 12. I have asthma, like severe asthma to the point where I frequently have to go to the doctor. I used my inhaler about five times that day.”

Beatriz Saravia, a worker at Grocery Outlet in Oakland, was one of many people who had to evacuate as the fire neared her home in Solano County. “I heard about the fire on the TV news. We were told to evacuate Monday night (October 9) around 11 p.m.” She evacuated to her mother’s home in San Pablo.

By October 11, over 100 people had died, leaving many injured.

As of Thursday, October 12, smoke could still be seen to the north of Hayward, and the layer of smoke had moved south, affecting Fremont and San Jose.

Meanwhile, the Santa Rosa Fire destroyed 3,000 homes, including the home of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, and killed 15 people with hundreds still missing. PG&E has worked on trying to restore power for many customers affected by the wildfire.

The fire raged into the weekend of October 13, with daily efforts to put out the fire. It looked like it would be a while until the fire would end. On October 16, it rained over the area where the fire was and brought some relief to the fight.

By October 20, once the fire had died down, residents were allowed back into their homes.

Many buildings were destroyed, and many people are still missing. With relief efforts underway, the community hopes to rebuild as soon as possible.