Academy Life

Welcome to the Academy, Mr. Belush

By Gigi L.

This year, there is a new member of the AHN 8th grade team. His name is Mr. Belush, and he teaches social studies and religion classes.

Q: Where did you teach before you came here?

Mr. Belush: Leonard High School in Shanghai, China, then Dowdell Middle School

Q: Why did you decide to come to the Academy?

Mr. Belush: For better opportunities, professional growth, and higher academia

Q: How do you like it here so far?

Mr. Belush: It is absolutely amazing

Q: Now for the important stuff. Which fast food restaurant do you believe has the best french fries?

Mr. Belush: *Contemplates* Mel’s Hotdogs loaded fries

Q: What is your favorite TV show?

Mr. Belush: I really don’t watch TV.

Q: Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob and why?

Mr. Belush: I’m Team Jacob, werewolves all day. OMG TAYLOR LAUTNER!

Q: What is your favorite football team?

Mr. Belush: The New York Jets

Q: You’ve been given a raccoon. You cannot give away or sell the raccoon. What would you do with the raccoon?

Mr. Belush: If it’s a baby raccoon, I’d house-train it. If it’s an old raccoon, it’s a chew toy for my dogs.

Q: If you were a Bath and Body Works candle, what would you smell like?

Mr. Belush: Pumpkin spice. I’m basic.

Q: If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

Mr. Belush: Samuel L. Jackson

Q: Finally, the most important question. This question may make or break your career. Who is your favorite Teletubby?

Mr. Belush: La La 

Although I do not agree that La La is the best teletubby, overall, Mr. Belush seems like a pretty cool guy. Welcome to the Academy, and we hope you have a great time here.

Academy Life

Interview With Mrs. G

By Amelie S.

Mrs. Gonzalez, also known as Mrs. G, is an eighth-grade teacher at AHN, and she has been teaching at Academy for a couple of years.

What made you want to teach? 

When I was in college, I got a job at a preschool.  After a few months of working there, I changed my major from Business to Education.

How long have you been teaching? 

This is my 14th year of teaching.

Do you have a pet? 

Yes, a Basset Hound named Max

What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled to? 

I love France, Italy and Spain.  But this summer I traveled around Florida, and I really loved visiting St. Augustine.

Do you like your students this year? 

Yes, of course! I like my students every year.

What are your favorite foods?

Pizza and sushi rolls


Meme Ranking

By Gigi L.

A meme is difficult to explain. It is so abstract, yet so confined. According to Wikipedia, “A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning.” In simpler terms, a meme is a popular, funny picture or video. Memes define our generation. They are art. They are masterpieces. If Leonardo DaVinci saw them, he would die a second time. However, some memes are superior to others. Please enjoy this ranking of my personal top-five favorite memes.

5. Doge

Doge is a classic. He has been a part of our lives for so many years. Every time you see him, you can’t help but smile. They even made him into a currency. It would be a crime not to include him on this list.

Photo Credit: Cointelegraph

4. Rickroll

This is arguably one of the most popular memes of all time. You know the feeling when you send someone a “very important document,” and it’s just a Rickroll. Rickroll wreaks havoc. It’s fantastic.

Photo Credit: The Verge

3. Get Krissed

Although this meme isn’t as classic as some of the others on this list, it is still amazing. I myself have used it many times. I’ll text my friends and say, “My lizard is in the hospital,” and they’ll say, “What?!” And then, I send them this absolute gem.

Photo Credit: MsKendallandKylie

2. Woman yelling at confused cat

This one is beautiful. It is just so emotional. Not only is it funny, but there is a deep, underlying meaning. The woman is clearly quite dismayed, yet the cat is simply perplexed. I love this meme.

Photo Credit: Know Your Meme

1. Crying Cat

And finally, in the number one spot, is the crying cat. This meme is dear to my heart. It has gotten me through some very difficult times. It is so versatile, yet every meme it is included in is just perfect. It is glorious. It is holy. It is the best meme of all time.

Photo Credit: Know Your Meme

I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this meme ranking. If you don’t agree, too bad. I’m obviously right.


Home Sweet Home Alone Is a Catastrophe Covered in Christmas Lights

By Gigi L.

Oh boy. On Nov. 12, 2021, Home Sweet Home Alone was released on Disney+. As a die-hard fan of the original, I decided to watch this movie on a Saturday afternoon with nothing better to do. I’ll admit it, I went into this with pretty low expectations considering the track record of remake movies. However, I was left even more horrified than I could have ever possibly imagined. So, in the spirit of Christmas, let’s talk about everything wrong with Home Sweet Home Alone. (Before we start, there will be spoilers in this article, so do not read any further if you do not want to read about the plot.)

Poster for Home Sweet Home Alone, 2021

There are two original Home Alone movies, not counting the other three Dollar Store additions which we don’t talk about. So, technically, this is the sixth installment in the series. I mean, I think it’s a cool idea to remake a classic into a more modern interpretation, but this movie is just really really stupid. According to Claudia R., an enraged viewer, “It’s an abomination to society!”

Diving right in, let’s meet our main characters. First, we have Jeff and Pam McKenzie, your average middle-class married couple. They are trying to sell their house because Jeff has just lost his job and Pam’s salary is not enough to keep their house. On top of that, Jeff’s super rich and snobby older brother, his wife, and their painfully annoying son are coming to stay with them for Christmas. 

During Jeff and Pam’s open house, we meet our other main character, Max, aka the Kevin of this movie. Max and his mom stop by because Max has to pee and he just can’t wait 30 seconds. They have a brief conversation with Jeff and Pam in which Jeff shows them a box of old dolls, including a defective one. Max’s mom says that dolls that have defects can be sold for a lot of money. After that, Max and his mom return to their own house. Max’s family is preparing to leave for Tokyo for the holidays. Max is annoyed with everything and, being the childish brat he is, storms off to go sleep in the garage. 

First problem, Max is literally the worst main character in the history of main characters. He’s a little hobgoblin whose hobbies include pouting when people don’t pay attention to him and making the people watching at home want to yeet him off of a cliff. 

While Max is watching Looney Tunes in his BMW, Jeff is looking online to see how much his old, defective doll is really worth. Turns out, it’s a lot of money. Jeff, hoping to save his family’s home, then goes into his box of dolls to try and find his doll. It’s nowhere to be found. Naturally, he assumes Max took it, because that makes a lot of sense, right? 

Going back to Max, he wakes up to an empty house because his family left him. Oh dear, what is he to do? Just like the original movie, Max has the time of his life eating junk food, dancing around the house, and enjoying his alone time. Meanwhile, Jeff and Pam are plotting to steal the doll back from Max’s house. Okay, more problems. First, why is Jeff assuming Max took the doll? Like, it could’ve just fallen out of the box or something. Second, breaking into someone’s house to steal something that you don’t even know they took is extremely idiotic. Third, there are so many other solutions to their problems, like, I don’t know, maybe Jeff could get a job? We’re not even 20 minutes in and I already want to rip the TV out of the wall.

Continuing on, Jeff and Pam sneak onto Max’s property to steal their doll. Frightened, Max calls the police. You’ll never guess what happens next. The police come, and the officer who steps out of the car is none other than Buzz McCallister, Kevin’s older brother in the original movie. Okay, I don’t know why they decided to include Buzz. Sure, it’s cool, but it wasn’t necessary. They make such a dramatic moment about it, but it does nothing for the story and he has, like, two lines. Anyway, Buzz lets them off, and they go home.

Later, Jeff and Pam sneak onto Max’s property again. Max overhears them plotting and decides to set up traps. Then, we get the montage of Max making the Rube Goldberg machine just like the original movie.

Jeff and Pam get there for their final attempt on Christmas Eve. Like geez, these guys are wimps. Can’t they just get it over with in one blow? Jeff and Pam then go through Max’s traps and we get that “funny” scene of them basically getting murdered. Now, in the original movie, this scene was good just because we all wanted the robbers to get what they deserved. Marv and Harry were just pure evil, so it was kind of funny to see them get battered and tattered. But Jeff and Pam are just two regular people who want to save their house and make a better life for their kids. When you think about it that way, it’s not as fun to see them get burned alive. Plus, the little spawn of Satan, Max, is happily watching these poor people being tortured and pleading for their lives. What a sweet little boy. 

Jeff and Pam end up coming face to face with Max, where we get the scene that enrages me the most. MAX DIDN’T EVEN STEAL THE DOLL! Turns out, it was Jeff’s nephew who took it from the box! So, Jeff and Pam’s whole elaborate heist was for nothing. Anyway, they clear up the misunderstanding and become friends with Max.

Alright, we’re getting into the home stretch. The next year, Jeff and Pam invite Max and his mom over for Christmas dinner. Jeff and Pam were able to save their house, big surprise. They didn’t even sell the doll; Jeff just got a job. Wow, what a revolutionary idea, don’t know why he couldn’t have just DONE THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE. 

Now comes my final problem with this movie, the message. In the original movie, we get this heartfelt scene at the end where Kevin is with his family and he learns that he should never take them for granted. In Home Sweet Home Alone, the message is really just that if you have lots of money, everything will be fine. Not a great lesson for kids, huh?

In conclusion, this movie doesn’t even deserve to be called a part of the Home Alone series. It’s just SO BAD. If you’re going to try and remake one of the best Christmas movies of all time, at least do a good job. I threw so many pillows at the TV, I had to go to Target and get more! Okay, Merry Christmas, and be sure no one breaks into your house to steal back something you never took in the first place!


The Percy Jackson Movie Is a Flaming Dumpster Fire

By Gigi L.

I know that I am VERY late to this party. The movie came out in 2010. Although it has seemingly disappeared from the media spotlight, I still want to express my deep concern for the writers of this movie. Seriously, are they okay?

Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief is a movie adaptation of the first Percy Jackson book written by Rick Riordan. Desperately trying to make a successful franchise, Disney began working on the project with Logan Lerman as the main character, Percy Jackson. On Feb. 12, 2010, Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief was released, and fans were not too pleased. One viewer posted a Google review saying, “I would rather play poker with Gabe himself than watch this movie. I would go to Tartarus for 24 hrs. I would be Hades’ personal assistant. Because they really messed up this movie.” Another angry fan wrote, “This movie… is the WORST book-to-movie adaptation ever. It’s disappointing in every way.” It was so terrible that the film received a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes and just 3 out of 5 stars on an average audience review. Ok, the movie is bad. But why is it bad? Let’s break down exactly why Percy Jackson fans were hitting their heads against the wall when this atrocity came out.

Movie poster for Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, 2010

There are a lot of things that contribute to making a “bad” movie: the acting, the effects, the costumes, etc. With this movie, however, I really question the writers. I am genuinely astonished that this movie actually exists. Films have to go through rows and rows of executives and producers before they get the corporate thumbs-up. The fact that hundreds of people looked at the script and said, “Yeah, this is great,” really says a lot about human intelligence. In no way, shape, or form am I trying to say the writers are untalented; they are just more talented than this movie demonstrates. 

First of all, there is almost nothing even remotely similar between the book and the movie. It is true that when you are making a movie adaptation of a book, you have to change some stuff. Take 2001’s Harry Potter, for example. The writers altered a few things, but overall, it was not terrible. They kept all the main points and wrote the script in a clever and articulate way. The Percy Jackson writers just did not care. I will bet you ten thousand dollars that his movie was written at 2:00 in the morning when everyone was sleep deprived and the only thing keeping their bodies functioning was a room-temperature frappuccino. Nothing makes sense.

The very first scene in the movie starts out with Poseidon getting out of the ocean and walking to meet his brother, Zeus. Zeus is a bit cranky because his big, fancy lightning bolt was stolen. Naturally, Zeus suspects Poseidon’s son, Percy Jackson. Because, why not? The movie does not do a very good job of explaining why, so if you want to know, read the book. Zeus tells Poseidon that Percy has until the summer solstice (June 21) to return the bolt to him or else he will, like, destroy the world or something. Then, Zeus blows up a wall and storms out like a twelve-year-old girl. Already, there are some problems. In the first few minutes of a film, there is usually a scene that sets up the story, the characters, and sometimes the main problem. While the scene did all of this, it was done very sloppily. 

Moving on to a later scene, Percy and his class are at what seems to be a history museum with their teacher, Mr. Brunner. Mr. Brunner is babbling about Greek mythology. Then, in the middle of the lesson, a teacher named Mrs. Dodds pulls Percy out to “speak with him.” Then, they go into some sort of storage room. You’ll never guess what happens next. Really, it’s a doozy. Mrs. Dodds jumps on top of a shelf and transforms into a shriveled, raisin-looking bat creature called a Fury. She keeps asking Percy to give her the lightning bolt, but Percy obviously does not know what she’s talking about. Then, Mr. Brunner and Grover come in and Mrs. Dodds/raisin-bat-thing smashes a window and flies away. This scene is EXTREMELY poorly done. First off, it is very confusing. Why did she turn into a bat creature? Why is she asking for the lightning bolt? Also, why should we care? Mrs. Dodds is not really an important character. She was only seen in one scene previous to this one, so it’s not like her sudden transformation into an ugly hairless rat is a huge, ground-breaking twist. It would be kind of like if a random professor that nobody cares about from Harry Potter turned into a monster ten minutes into the movie. Weird.

   A Fury from Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, 2010

I am not going to go through every scene because that would take ten thousand years, but I do want to talk about one more thing. Spoiler warning, so if you have not read the book and/or want to watch the movie, the following information will ruin some plot points for you. 

So, the main villain in the book is Ares, the god of war. He is a twist villain, meaning he is not revealed to be the actual bad guy until the end where the big fight scene takes place. At the very end of the book, there is another giant twist. One of Percy’s friends, Luke, is revealed to be working with Ares and to have stolen Zeus’ special lightning bolt. However, in the movie, Ares does not even exist, and Luke is the big boss bad guy. This decision was probably the worst choice the writers made. Luke was an awful main villain; his motive was weak, and he sounded like a little kid playing supervillain. I could understand if they wanted to switch up some things, but there are other ways to do that than take out the MAIN VILLAIN. That would be as if they took Voldemort out of Harry Potter and just made Professor Quirrel the criminal mastermind. Overall, the Percy Jackson movie is an embarrassment to the film industry. It was sloppy, rushed, and the plot made no sense. Why this movie got the “okay” will probably forever be a mystery. In the meantime, I think we should just offer up some goat sacrifices and pray to the gods that the 2023 Disney+ series will not be as bad.


Don’t Eat It: The Peculiar Profession of Food Styling

By Gigi L.

We’ve all seen it. Don’t lie to me. That banquet scene in Harry Potter. It’s so mesmerizing, so mouth-watering that you just want to crawl through the screen and shove that glorious turkey in your mouth. Except… you probably shouldn’t take a bite. All that delicious, delectable, lucious, enticing, pungent food is fake. “What? No way!” Yep. There is a whole profession dedicated to creating fake food for movies and swindling hungry viewers. Meet the evil crusher of all your dreams, the food stylist.

A scene from the 2009 film, Julie & Julia

You are probably wondering why your beloved Harry Potter would do such a thing. Well, the answer is simple. Filmmaking is a long process. It can take days to shoot one 2-minute scene. Directors and cinematographers definitely cannot afford to have food melting on the job. Fake food lasts a lot longer and can stand the heat of those big studio lights. It is also a lot less wasteful and less expensive to just buy a feast made out of plastic. Food stylists have a very important job. As a reporter from Insider said, “They’re the movies’ biggest problem solvers you never think about.”

So, what does it take to be a food stylist? Turns out, it is a lot of work. The head chef at Fake Food Factory, Lisa Friedman, did a video interview with Insider in 2018. She walked us through the excruciating process of creating fake food for movie clients. Typically, the production company will place the order and then send Lisa a real version of the food they want created. For instance, the Harry Potter crew would have sent Lisa a real turkey for her to use as a model when making their deliciously deceptive fake dinner. After that, Lisa makes a mold of the item to get the size and shape right. Most of the time, fake food is made of rubber or foam. She pours the material into the mold to set. After the pieces come out, she sands down the excess. Once the pieces dry, they are painted and decorated to look like real food. There are not really any rules or regulations for making fake food, so artists have to get creative with materials. Brenda Chapman, food stylist and owner of Just Dough It!, told Insider, “You just kind of have to look at things a little differently, and think, okay it’s not made for this but it does look like this. We use a lot of Styrofoams, a lot of stuff from the local hardware store, you know, caulking, and drywall patching, and sheet rock mud.” For example, to replicate granola and ground beef, Lisa Friedman uses crushed corkboard. 

Fake food is popular in the movie business, but sometimes, real food is used. Production companies will try to use real food whenever they can, so artists can cover real cereal, popcorn, or candy in special resin to preserve it. This method might be more convenient for studios due to time-sensitive projects.

Fake donuts created by Brenda Chapman for The Muppets, 2011

Food styling may not be a well known profession, but it certainly plays a key role in keeping movie studios up and running to produce your favorite films. But if you’re ever on set and you see that delicious, fat, juicy turkey, whatever you do, DON’T EAT IT.