Glorification of torture as entertainment is reprehensible

As I sat in the darkened theatre, tears poured down my face in a ceaseless flow. A man is hanging from the ceiling by his wrists, a bag has been placed over his head, and the conservative Muslim has his genitals exposed before a female intelligence agent. He has been deprived of sleep for over 96 hours, only receives enough food and water to survive, and is routinely beaten and water-boarded. At one point, he is led around on a dog leash and then crammed into a drawer-sized box. Zero Dark Thirty, I quickly realize, is not for the faint of heart. And I’m barely 10 minutes into the movie.
It is the scene that has made the otherwise gripping film about the 10-year manhunt and eventual takedown of al-Qaeda figurehead and 9/11 mastermind, Osama Bin Laden, one of the most controversial movies of the decade. The film begins with a statement that the movie is “based on firsthand accounts of actual events.” Now, some may say I take things too literally, but when a film studio makes that kind of declaration, it has a responsibility to do just that – portray the events as accurately as possible.
While the tactics used in the opening 10 to 15 minutes of the film capture one’s attention, the scene leads viewers to believe that torture led the CIA directly to Bin Laden.  That was not the case, and glorifying this kind of sadistic treatment is reprehensible. Former CIA director and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has repeatedly stated, along with many other government officials, that “enhanced interrogation methods,” such as water-boarding, stress positions, and ice baths, are counterproductive, often lead to unreliable information, and are unethical and immoral.
So why does the film emphasize this grisly part of the American history? The screenwriter and director are sensationalizing these Machiavellian methods and offering them up for our entertainment.  As Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, said, the movie “distorts a difficult history and seems to turn torture into morally neutral entertainment.”
One of the issues I have with the torture presented and sensationalized is that it is in blatant violation of international law and the Geneva Convention. Leaders of numerous foreign countries have been prosecuted because of their crimes against humanity, including torture. The United States, however, seems to get a pass for it’s (albeit rare) severe discrepancies in regards to torture. Scandals like Abu Ghraib, in which prisoners were subjected to rape, sodomy, electric shock, and being forced to eat pork (which is against the Islamic faith) offer a clear example of this. The military personnel involved were given slaps on the wrists legally and most were simply given a dishonorable discharge. The photos of this incident are absolutely horrific and left my stomach churning. I shudder to think about the photos President Obama and the CIA refused to release. This is not a moral grey area. Torture is wrong, and it doesn’t work.
I understand that war is always brutal and I understand that the United States is in a war against terror and, by proxy, terrorists. That does not mean that torture, a despicable war crime, should be pardoned, much less glamorized. We are a country that stresses values like humanity, ethics, the rule of law, and basic human dignity. These principles apply both at home and abroad. Any violations of these ideals should not be tolerated. Movies that are “based on first hand events,” like Zero Dark Thirty, have a responsibility to focus on the actual “interviews” and intelligence gathering that led us to Bin Laden, not on a torturous interrogation that is riveting but disgraceful.

~Jordyn Elliot, guest reporter

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Yo gusta La Tengo

Indie rock veterans Yo La Tengo have been churning out noisy guitar rock since 1986. Fade, their 13th album, came like a welcome treat from a pastry chef who’s been baking yummy sweets for years. Like its bright album artwork suggests, Fade is a lush, catchy, and vivid record, perfect for starting out the New Year on a positive musical note.
Fade opens with the irresistible shuffling guitar riff of “Ohm.” Rich with beefy neo-psychedelia, youthfully earnest ensemble vocals, and even a fuzzy guitar solo to wrap everything together, “Ohm” is a fun and energetic celebration, bringing together the spaced-out pop of the sixties with the deadpan guitar rock of the nineties.
“Is That Enough” compliments “Ohm” with cutesy love-struck lyrics, sweet violins, and a pillow of warm fuzz to rest in. It’s the kind of song you could hear on the Juno soundtrack, except a little more rich. “Well You Better” continues the low key, adorably innocent atmosphere of “Is That Enough” until “Paddle Forward” blasts back into the grungy, crashing power chords that were so gloriously exhibited in “Ohm.”
After “Paddle Forward” buzzes out its final guitar splashes, Fade settles into a series of low key, chill-out grooves. “I’ll Be Around” introduces flavors of folk guitar picking, reminiscent of Fleet Foxes or early Bon Iver. “Cornelia and Jane” features percussionist Georgia Hubley on vocals, complimenting the track with a nice feminine touch. The retro “Two Trains” has more Sonic Youth noise rock in it than any other song on the album, mustering up a hint of Yo La Tengo’s 80’s roots. The record closes with the echoing, melodic “Before We Run,” accompanied by a psychedelic atmosphere built off of deceivingly mixed horns, singing violins, and pummeling kettle drums.
Yo La Tengo has always been a great band, and Fade is just one more great album in their catalogue. Fuzzy guitars, melty horn ensembles, candy-sweet violins, and youthful, heartwarming vocals all come together to form a thick smokey, psychedelic grunge album that even the most skeptical listeners will not be able to resist. I just hope Yo La Tengo will still be baking up their unique twist on indie rock for years to come.

‘Halcyon:’ Goulding spins sonic gold

When I first heard Ellie Goulding’s single, “Lights,” I was underwhelmed and wrote her off as just another Ke$ha-dubbed one-hit-wonder. Thankfully, I was introduced to more of her music. Let’s just say, her Pandora station currently runs my life. In particular, her latest album, Halcyon, has taken over my interest…and my iTunes bill.
It is clear that Goulding has grown from her first album Lights. Though she continues to display songs from several different emotional ranges, the music itself seems a tad more mature. The beats and tempos seem to follow suit with the lyrics in originality and they both team up and take the listener on a journey of sorts.
Usually, I don’t listen to electronica, but once I heard the unique melodies and great lyrics I was hooked. On Halcyon, Goulding utilizes a wide range of lyrical topics, like hope for the future in “Anything Could Happen,” which is an anthem of sorts. From the stand point of a college-bound senior, the future is really an unpredictable thing and this song gives me everything I need to look at the years to come with hope. The up beat tempo and great vocals always give me goose-bumps and gives me that urge to turn it up and dance no matter where I am.
Halcyon features a few tear-jerkers. The tortured love song, “I Know You Care,” is almost as heart-warming as the video (which features clips from the film Now is Good, a movie about a girl who gets cancer and meets a boy she eventually falls in love with…basically it has all the components to make most people with hearts and working emotions cry). The song brings me back to that one break up that never should’ve happened.
There’s even a song that gives a shout out to your hometown, even if you hate it in Warrenton “In My City” gives you something to be proud of here, or wherever you’re from.
And these are just a few choice favorites from yours truly, the whole album is filled with relatable themes coated in the fluttery vocals of Goulding and optimistic electropop tones. This is an album that I can listen to over and over again; I love it, and you should too.

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

LONG.LIVE.A$AP: Trash this CD A$AP

LONG.LIVE.A$AP may be the headstone to mark the grave of Rocky’s career as a rapper.
A$AP Rocky proclaimed his potential late in 2011 with his mixtape Live. Love. A$AP. I was enticed by the mixtape, particularly his single, “Peso,” which could prime the pump for any party worth attending. Both through his lyrics and production, he obtained an intensely raw and intriguing feel that set him apart from the big-box rap that currently dominates the pop music scene.
After multiple release delays over a year of anticipation, A$AP’s debut studio album promised to invigorate the new year. However, I’m incredibly disappointed in A$AP and his team. They completely fell short of the potential demonstrated on his previous releases.
Though the lyrics on his mixtapes were nothing to tweet about, Rocky puts even less thought into the lines on his record, which recycle the same women-money-drugs theme through almost every track and fail to sustain any depth whatsoever. His references are strikingly predictable, such as Bill Gates on the subject of money or Kurt Cobain when discussing suicide. His lack of depth, diversity, and the slow flow of his delivery render him unintelligent. Even “Phoenix,” the only song displaying significant introspection, is laced with cheesy metaphors and a sporadic form.
The first four tracks live up to the production quality on the mixtape. Clams Casino’s production, “LVL,” is by far my favorite track on the LP, furnished with an abrasive chillwave synth and a phaser that will collapse your lungs. But the majority of the second half of the album fades into something other than hiphop.
Many tracks would be better off on a teen pop album. One song, featuring Santigold singing a jaunty pop chorus, is decent, but Rocky is completely out of place. Despite A$AP’s gnarly vocals, it feels like a Nelly Furtado song with the sub dropped. And there’s the eerie pop song, “Fashion Killa,” where A$AP spreads vogue brand names and raps about shopping with his girl. It’s for sure a song pitched to the females, sounding like it belongs on a Keysha Cole or Brandy album.
The album’s flagship single, “F**king Problems,” disgraces the entire genre of hiphop. The single went on to top charts with its catchy chorus and expansive collection of featured rappers. But I wonder what middle-aged, white-collar producers and writers diminished A$AP’s originality and potential after he was signed to RCA Records. The track is cheesy beyond description. The atrocious pop song contains the same chord progression found in Justin Bieber’s track, “Eenie Meanie,” and One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young.” What once sounded like raw authenticity now sounds like a Disney cartoon edition of The Human Centipede.
The track “Wild For The Night,” Skrillex and A$AP’s duet, which starts as a laid-back Rocky track and then suddenly napalms into a typical Skrillex malfunction that leaves one wondering, where did that come from? From here the album is straight up boring and often feels like A$AP is running out the clock. There are a couple laid-back attempts at sentiment that ramble until you plead for them to end.
Rocky is an exhibitionist, writing for the sake of writing without deliberation or inspiration, but what he manages is simply asinine obscenity. I consider rap an art. Poetry, in fact. If licking the sole of your shoe is art, then congratulations, Rocky, you stuck your entire foot in your mouth.
Whatever originality and audacity Rocky previously displayed is now thoroughly whitewashed. What once promised quality, backslid to the lewd women-money-drugs cliché that was better off when it was uttered from some middle-school guy friends.

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter

What’s Up

Parent Teacher Conferences
Parent teacher conferences will be held on Feb. 28, from 1-8 p.m. There will be no school for students this day.

Spring Sports
Spring sports try-outs will begin on Feb. 18 including baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, tennis, track, and boys and girls lacrosse.

DECA States
DECA state competition will be held from March 1-3. The students will travel to Virginia Beach to compete with students from all over Virginia.

Red Cross Blood Drive
HOSA will do American Red Cross Blood Drive March 5th outside the gym entrance on the Red Cross Van and sign up donors in the cafeteria during lunches the week before.  The one we did in Dec was a huge success from the Red Cross perspective, well organized and over the expected donor contributions for a van drive.

Fundraiser for Finley Hope
The National Honor Society is selling bracelets marked with the phrase “Finding Hope”, to help Finley Hope, a three-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, raise money for an operation that will allow him to walk for the first time. The bracelets are $1, and are available through March 20. Contact seniors Fiona McCarthy, Nicole Layton, Caity Ashley, Sofia Luna, Jillian Holt, Kellie Sengstack, or Mallory Wyne to contribute.

Winter Sports Awards
Winter sports awards will be distributed on March 5 at Fauquier High School.

Marking Period
The end of this term’s first marking period will be on February 20. Report cards will be released on February 22.

Midterms
Midterms will be held on March 21 and 22. Both of these days will be half days for students.

SAT
The SATs will be held at Fauquier High School on March 9. You must arrive at 8 in the morning and bring a pencil, calculator, snacks, and water.

Spring Break
Spring Break will begin on Monday, March 25. Students will come back to school on Monday, April 1.
Book Fair
The library will be holding a book fair from Feb. 25 to March 1, featuring items from Bookworm Central, a local book carrier from Manassas. The selection will include material for children, young adult, and adult age groups, and will also carry book marks, pencils, and notebooks. According to librarian Becca Isaac, the book fair is buy-one-get-one free, and the proceeds will help the school buy more books. The book fair will also be open during parent teacher conferences on Thursday evening, Feb. 28, until 8 p.m.

Read Across America Day
March 1 will be read across America day, which is a day that promotes reading with children and young adults.

HOSA States
HOSA State Conference and Competitions March 15-17th in Williamsburg, VA

NHS Food Drive
NHS will be doing a food drive for the Fauquier Food Coalition from March 1-20.

~compiled by staff reporter Gavin Cranford and design editor Josh Henry

Students attend band clinic

Senior Collin Steves (far left) practices percussion during a band class at the University of South Carolina’s honors band program.
Senior Collin Steves (far left) practices percussion during a band class at the University of South Carolina’s honors band program.

Over 400 students from high schools in Maryland through Texas take a trip every year to The University of South Carolina to participate in the college’s renowned Band Clinic. Band directors nominate 10th grade and older students who are eligible to participate, and they take the students on a four day road trip to USC where they learn instrument and performance techniques and have the opportunity to play in front of the entire university.
“This camp is top notch,” band director Andrew Paul said. “The guest conductors are the best in the world. I’ve been to at least seven other band camps like this one in respectable universities, but none of them come close to the quality of USC. Everything they have is top notch.”
This year, Paul nominated seniors Kayla Griffith, Emma Nobile, and Ben Thompson, junior Mya Payne, and sophomore Kristi Lapins to attend the camp. The group travels to the campus on Valentines Day and returns that Sunday.
The students in the clinic will audition for a spot in one of four ensembles. Each of the four ensembles consists of around 100 students and a hired conductor. Three of the bands have equal skill levels while the fourth is an honor band with the exceptionally able students. The students have lunch and then attend concerts performed by the university’s band and by professional symphonies.
“I absolutely think students should go,” Paul said. “I attended this one as a high school student. They get experience and learn a lot, to say the least.”
The students lodge at a nearby hotel, and Friday and Saturday they have intense 8 a.m. to 11p.m. instruction on their instruments. University professors teach the students instrument techniques, with at least one professor for every instrument. They also spend this time practicing for their performance. On Sunday, all four ensembles perform what they’ve practiced in front of the university students at a world class facility that rivals the Kennedy Center.
Last year Thompson attended the camp with a few other students from the county, and he will go again this year.
“It’s pretty intense because you have to learn all the songs in just two days,” Thompson said. “But everyone’s so experienced, so it’s more fun rather than a big challenge. I want to do it again and see if I can do better in the standings. I hope to get to the honor band. Last year I came close, but this year I want to break though.”
Paul says that all the students that have gone in the previous years have said they enjoyed it. The students get to roam the city, eating at really nice restaurants and visiting record stores. They also get to know each other well, particularly during the seven hour car ride. Senior Collin Steves also went to the camp last year.
“Ben Thompson was the only person I was rooming with that I knew,” Steves said. “But the other guys and I became good friends. All of us who went down together were just with each other a lot, whether we were practicing, eating, at the hotel, or just hanging out. We were the only people we knew in a program with hundreds of students, so it brought us closer.”
The clinic also allows students to get a taste of what majoring in music would be like, and it looks good on college résumés.
“After the trip I realized that I didn’t want to major in percussion or performance but still wanted to major in music,” Steves said. “So now I’m auditioning at colleges with piano and a major in music business.”
Both Steves and Thompson were surprised at how fun the conductors made the experience, despite the intensity of the clinic.
“I enjoyed it,” Steves said. “The place is great. You are surrounded by people who are passionate about music, and you learn off of other students, as well as the conductors. I would recommend it for any student if they are passionate about their instrument.”

~Jake Lunsford, staff reporter

Trivia team places third

The science trivia A team, consisting of seniors Sergio Ribeiro and Chenoa Payne, and sophomores Claire Burke and Rhiannon Begley, took third place at the annual Blue Crab Bowl on Feb. 9. An academic competition revolving around what mere mortals call trivia, the Blue Crab Bowl focuses on ocean sciences, with questions ranging from ecosystems to marine laws and technology, with some chemistry thrown in for fun.
Science department head George Murphy has been the team’s advisor since the competition began 16 years ago.
“I ask the students in my Biology II honors classes to participate,” Murphy said. “We actually have a Blue Crab Bowl of our own. As a practice for the end of the year exam, I split the classes into two teams to compete against each other.”
Participation in the Blue Crab Bowl requires interest in marine biology, but it can also be a learning experience.
“I am really interested in marine biology,” Payne said. “I was really nervous at first, but when the team made it to the trophy round, I was so proud of us.”
At last year’s Blue Crab Bowl the team did not place, making this year’s performance a major improvement.
“It was just great,” Begley said. “I didn’t expect to get as far as we did after last year when we got crushed, but it was pretty awesome winning as much as we did.”
Ribeiro plans to be an engineer, and participating in the Blue Crab Bowl is another step towards his goal.
“I learned how complex biological systems and natural systems are,” Ribeiro said. “In the future I plan to understand biological systems and then model them using software.”

~Josh Henry, design editor

Fauquier High School's student newspaper. By the students, for the students.