does life have meaning without goals? Essay

“Man is a goal-seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.”

Political ideologies have a surprisingly differing view on the source quote. First of all, Marxist beliefs support worldwide egalitarian socialism as the end goal for humankind. The only way to make more money or move up at all in this system is by working faster or with better quality. In pure socialism, each day is essentially the same and every person is part of the same gray conglomeration of working-class citizens. Humanity is not generally pleased by identical routines, as happiness stabilizes over time, and in pure communism many people would either get bored or point out small flaws in the system and their life. It is always possible to have goals of some kind, however, even in a system that is one hundred percent authoritarian and left-wing. The goals change in this situation to either resisting the authority or being the best part of it one can. They are self-evidently different types of goals than the sort truly free people have, but they are goals nonetheless.

On the other extreme of the political spectrum, free-market supporters and free-market anarchists see a world in which everyone is theoretically perfectly free to set and reach goals, as there are no obstacles in the way of such undertakings. In contrast to Marxists, they agree almost perfectly with the source quote. Anarchies such as Russia during 1918 (before the Communists had much control) or Somalia in the present day seem to present varying challenges and have few absolute characteristics. Depending on the pre-anarchy circumstances of a nation, such as reliance on the government, or their level of technology, different events may take place. In Russia, society got along in a tolerable manner since they did not have to rely on the government for much in the first place. Actually, the anarchy was not horribly different than society was at the end of the Tsarist days. In Somalia, however, it is common knowledge that anarchy is not helping their situation as they have a serious crime and pirate epidemic. Odds are, some sort of government could take some steps to improve the situation in that country. Anarchy, therefore, does not seem to free people to live their dreams and set goals any more than liberal democracies do, except in anomalous situations.

Liberal democracies such as America and Canada give the people a huge selection of goals to choose from. They can set spiritual, religious, economic, self-improvement, or political goals with a high degree of freedom. On the whole, liberal democracies typically seem to have a larger amount of choice to set goals when compared to other political systems. But the motive of goals in the first place begs the question– does life only have meaning if one is striving for goals?

Personally, my life becomes somewhat meaningless and drab if I partake in the same labor everyday with no difference or objective as time passes. There is a pleasant, predictable quality and a certain amount of meaning to it but something is also lacking. When I worked on a dairy farm for a summer it was possible to see first-hand what it is like to essentially have the same routine every day, and it is pleasant enough, except when it goes on for years and at times turns into a prison. One of my friends who was in a prison would say the same thing; that in some ways it is tolerable to have little freedom but it lacks the energetic quality of liberty. It is not a terrible choice to have a predictable lifestyle with few goals, however, it is a much more human and satisfying thing trying to become an improved person, worker, or artist.

Symphony Movement no.1

Available for listening here. I worked hard for long hours to write this, and it seems worth it in the end. My first real music score. There’s nothing like a real orchestra, even though solo instrument compositions are nice as well, so I wrote something for an orchestra. Or at least most of an orchestra minus a few strange instruments such as the bassoon.

Tell me what you think! :)

Societal Overuse of the Internet

Picture a world not so long ago, when every single person you meet is truly there, attentive and tangible. How things have changed. 

In a manner remarkably similar to the Industrial Revolution, and arguably with wider changes, the world has restructured itself to a non-physical web of communication and economy. At most restaurants, parks, and public places, it is amazing if less than a quarter of the populace is not truly there because they are lost in the unlocational but omnipresent Internet. Clearly, it is a blatant abuse of one’s life to overuse the Internet to the point of detracting from the myriad other experiences of life.

Whether or not one interacts with others on the web makes some difference concerning its effects. Being completely isolated for a long time can cause loneliness and depression, but even while having superficial interactions the same can take place. The only possible replacement for true friendship face-to-face, or at least temporary substitution, would be deep and fulfilling conversations online. You may ask yourself; how often do these occur? Are they normal and expected or surprisingly anomalous?

In interviews with baby boomers and the “Greatest Generation”, it is clear that in most cases children used to play outside often and relatively unsupervised, perhaps too much so. Nevertheless, they enjoyed their immediate surroundings. Nowadays, nothing short of a power outage could hope to produce a similar result. I have observed a subset of children using almost exclusively terms from the currently popular video and computer games, at this point Minecraft. If they are asked a question that would be exceptionally easy to answer in any other decade, “What is the durability of shears?” instead of saying “Good,” or “I’m not too sure, I’ve never used them,” they are more likely to say “238.” Children are either following adults in their addictions or overtaking them.

It is not necessarily in the presence of the online habit but in the absence of the overusers doing much else that its harmful effect is most strongly observed. When Internet addicts become a majority in an area, it quickly causes in most cases a dehumanization and communal numbing. There is much joy gained from online stimulus, but it is instantaneously fleeting on nearly every occurrence. Television has similar effects but is being slowly overtaken and replaced by the Internet. In one of these neighborhoods, if one decides to walk around and enjoy a beautiful sunset or sunrise, there will rarely be more than a small subset of people enjoying their immediate surroundings, as most will be occupied doing something else. All of their houses will be virtually bathed in EMF fields.

The electromagnetic field (EMF) caused by these numerous electrical devices truly do cause many observable changes. People have actually migrated to an EMF-free town in Virginia in order to avoid it. Some of the purported changes high EMFs make are increasing subconscious mental activity and dreaming and nightmares. If the power in a house or the whole street is turned off, a curious energetic change immediately takes place– the buzzing kinetic feeling drops gradually through floor and disappears, in its wake is a cleansing, peaceful, but creepily unfamiliar atmosphere. It’s as if the air is simplifying itself viscerally. If no attention is paid to these feelings, they are harder to notice, however to my friends and I these impressions are quite strong. The best way to experience this is to try it yourself.
There is no need to completely avoid the benefits in communication, the ability to buy otherwise unavailable goods, or the useful tools commensurate with the Web. It has many capabilities that truly come to positive ends. If you choose to partake in it, be confident that the Internet is being used in valuable ways by you, and not that you are being used and abused, your time being irreparably sucked away, by its everpresent authority.


A normal American family was talking mundanely at their dinner table. The house was on the border of a town, next to both other houses and sheer wilderness.
“I don’t think they’ll ever get rid of the penny,” complained Abbey, a young woman.
“Maybe,” said Bill. He wore a camo hat and old grey t-shirt.
“What did she think?” asked Lizzie.
“Shut up, Lizzie,” complained Sam, a ten year old boy. His grandfather heard what he said and slowly turned his head, menacingly.
“What did you just say, Sam? You have to learn your manners. Give me a stick.” Sam knew what was coming. He made up his mind.
“No,” he replied. His grandpa, quick as a leopard, walked over, grabbed him, and spanked him furiously.
“These stupid kids, never listen to authority,” he said. Abbey looked at him like he was evil. Bill also did not look very happy. 

“What are you doing to him? You’re not a real grandpa!” hissed Lizzie, with improbable venom. “You’re a grumpa!” The girl took pride in her hasty nickname, and smiled triumphantly. Grumpa narrowed his eyes but conceded and walked away slowly. He collapsed onto a couch and drank 14% alcohol barleywine. His family occasionally took a glance at him and noticed his defeated and bitter eyes.
He had flashbacks of his horrible childhood, in the woods surviving alone to avoid his family, having no food to eat for days except that which he hunted himself, and getting lashed by his strict father for things he didn’t do. The old man put his empty bottle down and walked upstairs solemnly. The family talked pleasantly about many different things. 
After a pause, Grumpa brought his .48 magnum downstairs and showed Bill, somewhat privately.

“It’s a .48 magnum, for when a .44 ain’t enough.”

“Not bad,” replied Bill, raising his eyebrows, noting the shiny stainless steel of the bulky sidearm. Abbey saw it and immediately retched.

“That’s disgusting. What are you doing pulling that out when there’s kids around? What if it backfires?”

“It ain’t loaded,” replied Grumpa, dusting her off.

“How are you sure?” asked Abbey. Grumpa pointed it at her and pulled the trigger. It clicked. He smiled triumphantly.

“Leave it upstairs,” she demanded. He hesitantly gave in. As Grumpa walked towards the staircase, he saw a headline about a communist invasion and saw fast-paced scenes of panic on the news channel.
“It’s all a bunch of bullcrap,” complained Grumpa. “They needs more viewers and that’s what they’re gettin’. Bullcrap.” His cousin walked into the living room.
“I don’t think so,” argued Bill. “It seems like it’s really happening. I know those Soviet commies finally got the nerve to do it. But we’ll beat their asses.”
“I worked on a cattle farm. I know what bullcrap is,” said Grumpa. “This is bullcrap.” Abbey, looking at the television from the kitchen, was scared but slightly excited.
“It is scary… but picture the improved labor and corporate laws we would get,” she admitted.
“Only labor laws they has is ‘work your ass off in the gulag'” said Grumpa, spitting.  They were quiet.
“I’m hittin’ the hay,” said Grumpa. Bill waved goodnight.

The next morning, Grumpa saw even worse news reports about the Communists invading their state of Oregon by the boatload, having taken off from a port of the other side of Alaska. The power went out suddenly, leaving a nervous and viscerally horrifying feeling in the air. The other family members were in the kitchen, conversing in a slightly nervous way. They ignored Grumpa.
The old man walked outside to take a piss. He walked deep into the woods behind his property.
“Why waste a gallon of water fer’ a cup a piss?” he always said. There was a loud racket as armored vehicle after armored vehicle came in from the west.
“Soviets. Shit,” complained the old man. He knew it from their camouflage. As soon as he zipped up his jeans, he ran back into the house.
Five Soviet grunts had lined his family up in front of their wall and were preparing to shoot them. Grumpa gets out of the bathroom.
“Y’all communists can go to hell!” yelled Grumpa, pulling out his .48 magnum from his belt holster. He aimed it quickly on the head of the first soldier and pulled the trigger just as he spun around to aim at Grumpa. The bullet smashed through three of the soldier’s heads, as they were all in a row. The elderly man shot the other two within a second.
“More reds are a’ comin’!” said Grumpa hastily. Outside, another armored personal carrier stopped right in front of the house to investigate the gunfire. Before anyone knew what was happening, Grumpa ran off to the kitchen and came back with a mason jar full of moonshine, a rag, and a lighter.
He lit the rag, and as the front door opened, the old man lobbed it right at the squad of soldiers, setting them on fire.
“Come on! follow me,” said Grumpa, walking towards the back door and not wasting a second. His family was too paralyzed to do anything at all, and were still trying to get over their near-death experience, except little Sam, who ran quickly after Grumpa.
They left the house and entered the edge of the woods. There were more commies getting out of their vehicles on the main road. Grumpa reloaded and shot a few, but one of their gunners spotted them and fired a machine gun at them.
“Drop!” shouted Grumpa, knowing how to properly yell from being in the Marines. When he stopped shooting, they ran further into the woods to avoid death.
They lived out in the woods for a day and Grumpa showed Sam how to shoot. He saw a rabbit and shot it, killing it instantly.
“How are you gonna skin it? We don’t have any knives,” said Sam, hopelessly.
“Stop complainin’ kid,” replied Grumpa, pulling a knife out of his gun. “It’s custom-made,” he explained. He started a fire with gunpowder from a bullet cartridge and ignited it by shooting a piece of metal next to it.
“This is gross. How can I eat it?” said Sam, sad.
“It’s this or nothin,'” replied Grumpa. Hesitantly, the child ate three bites. It was surprisingly good considering the circumstances.
“Where’s the family?” he asked, worried.
“We don’t know and it don’t matter.”
They slept under the clean sky and millions of stars. The moon was a bright crescent.
In the morning, Grumpa gave Sam a pep talk.
“We don’t know if we’ll be here an hour or a year, but you can’t forsake your family. I’m going in deep into enemy territory. I’m seeing if they’re still alive. What are you doing?”
Sam didn’t know what to do. He decided to compromise between being courageous and being cautious.
“I’ll stay close to you, but I’m not going out of the woods,” he said. They found Bill camped out a hundred yards into the woods. He hugged Grumpa, who felt quite awkward.
“Are the others still alive?” he asked.
“No,” replied Bill, wiping his eye. Grumpa looked downtrodden.
“Damn Commies.”
Grumpa walked up and could see the house in the distance. There were no people in sight. He heard propellers off in the distance and saw a gargantuan Soviet bomber cruising through the sky, dropping bombs by the bucketload.
“No!” he said. “Sam, come!” Sam ran over speedily. “Get a log!” ordered Grumpa. Sam procured one in ten seconds and laid it down in front of his grandfather.
He steadied his revolver on it, laying down like a sniper. He was in perfect control of his body and breath.
“Three thousand yards away, fifteen degrees to the right, four hundred and thirty inches of drop… two thousand five hundred yards, twenty degrees, five mile an hour wind…” Grumpa put two hundred percent of his focus into steadying his firearm.
“Two thousand one hundred yards… three mile and hour wind, two miles… There it is!” Milimeter by milimeter, he pulled the trigger, until BANG! the shot whizzed through the air, gradually traveling a mile before it collided miraculously with the cockpit of the bomber. Just as the aircraft flew close enough to drop a bomb over the family’s house, the pilot turned the plane around quickly. Black smoke poured out of it and it started to drift downwards.
“That’s the end of that,” said Grumpa. Not long later, there was a huge explosion two and a half thousand yards away. “What goes up must come down.”
Bill and Sam looked at him and smiled.

Death of Salesman essay, is Willy a helpless victim of society?

Is Willy Loman a helpless victim of society or a tragic hero?

Azure James

In the play Death of a Salesman, despite assurances to the contrary, Willy Loman is not a helpless victim of society. Rather he is a victim of his own severe delusions regarding The American Dream. As the story progresses, and Willy’s delusions begin to shatter, Willy becomes shattered along with them like a mirror, and all the broken pieces amount to only a shadow of his former self. Normal outside challenges combined with a severe lack of inner fortitude lead to Willy’s demise. He was not simply a victim of external forces, for if Willy would have probed deeper into his own psyche, he could have revealed some of his own delusions; superficial materiality, emphasis on likeability, or delusions concerning Ben and Howard’s personality traits. He could have looked deeper into his own mind and revealed the motivations of his own behavior, such as his own fear of abandonment stemming from childhood. If he had the introspection to reveal these patterns, as his son Biff did, Willy Loman could have led a happier, more honest life.


The Salesman had a number of positive characteristics, meaning the best for his sons, providing for his family and nearly paying off their house, and generally working hard. Along with Willy’s positive characteristics were a number of fatal flaws, which eventually contributed to his death. Willy’s friend’s son Bernard, as a lawyer, is dedicated to hard work and ingenuity. Bernard believes in a timeless morality– that hard work and determination can lead to success. Yet Willy, in contrast, doesn’t follow in Bernard’s footsteps very well. Instead, he thinks Biff can get away with stealing a crate of footballs, never tells him or Happy to work harder, and avoids looking at ways in which he can improve the execution of his job. Willy strong believes that superficial qualities lead to success, such as being handsome or charismatic, yet pursuing these characteristics never actually leads to any success, financial or otherwise, in his own life. Willy ends up as the play begins as an erratic person and has trouble getting by, even in the best of circumstances. The commencement of Death of a Salesman demonstrates this well – with Willy Loman driving crazily and erratically.  He is not making enough money to survive or thrive, and has been trapped in the same life situation for a seemingly endless amount of time. His boss, Howard, is about to fire him, although he does not yet know. It is difficult to identify exactly what has brought about Willy’s faults, but it is clear he has been in this same situation for quite awhile and that he could have avoided his baleful situation. By the time the first scene of the production starts, Willy is already in a very difficult position.


Suddenly Willy’s friend Charlie offers him money and a job, for no reason at all aside from that he is a good friend. This again proves that Willy is not a victim of a cruel society. “Society” itself is actually offering him a valuable opportunity to break out of the situation that he has encaged himself in. Some of Willy’s faults include confusion, self-contradiction and pride. The latter fault, pride, is what prompts him to reject Charlie’s kind offer, denying a valuable opportunity to improve his lot and save his life.  His self-contradiction puts Willy in a prison of unsureness and uncertainty. He becomes paralyzed and unable to move houses or change jobs. Willy’s strong sense of pride creates a similar predicament. The character Happy is a mini-version of Willy—and we also see these qualities demonstrated in him as well. Many people could take a situation like Willy’s and improve it by means of some virtue. But Willy stops himself and continues driving relentlessly into the brick wall of his own destruction, both metaphorically and concretely. He is not a victim of society, he is a victim of his own self-sabotaging nature.


Macbeth is a good example of a true tragic hero which we may contrast Willy against. Compared to Macbeth, Willy has several faults, not just over-ambition, Macbeth’s prime fault. He is deluded in his shallow interpretation of the American Dream. It all crumbles before him when he perceives that his own son—Biff—betrays him. Part of the package of Willy’s dream is that he always projected the same yearning for success upon his son Biff. There is a critical part in the story at Frank’s Chop House when Biff outright rejects his father’s idea of the American dream. Even though Willy, as a salesman, does his best to sell him on the idea, Biff severs himself from his father at that point and calls him a “phony little fake.” This also fuels Willy’s long-time fear of abandonment, stemming from his own childhood. Biff’s taking over his own life and fate benefits him as he is free to do what he truly enjoys, but it is a recipe for disaster in Willy’s psyche. From this point on the out-of-his-mind salesman is pushed over the edge.  

Sadly, this fate was avoidable, as by taking Howard’s job or by truly looking at himself and thinking with ingenuity Willy could have changed his circumstances. Unlike Macbeth, Willy has several character flaws that all contribute to his downfall. His obstinacy, pride, and delusional thought patterns doom him to failure.  He is clearly not a victim of society– he is a victim of himself.

The Warning Shot

“It’s in the Constituition- the right to bear arms. It protects us from tyranny,” said Jack Williard, speaking as if he were reading a rehearsed speech from a conservative playbook. He took another sip of beer and rested his coozie against his t-shirt.

“No,” replied Alex, shaking his head in unacceptance. “That was written for muskets, not AR-15’s.” He was dressed in a nice tucked button down shirt and tan slacks.

“If a robber comes in my house, I’m shooting him dead,” replied Jack the stone wall.

“Well I would fire a warning shot, even if I had a gun.” Alex looked off at the ground beside him.

“I’m sick of arguing about this. You just won’t listen. Let’s go talk to Grandma Elizabeth and she’ll tell us who’s right.” Jack smiled a little too confidently, inspired from the beer.

“This is why I don’t like barbecues, because of all you conservative nuts, but sure, if you’re so into it.” pouted Alex. Reluctantly, he followed Jack over to the table where the older folks were sitting.

“‘Scuse me, Gram, me and Alex here were having a fight–“

“What sort of fight?” she asked quickly, jarred suddenly from her conversation of seat cushions and window shades.

“About guns.”

“Them again,” said Grandma Elizabeth, laughing. “Sit here a moment, will you, Alex?” She talked in a gentler way than Alex but much more authoritative voice than Jack.

“See, I know you’re a modern liberal. Believe it or not, when I was a girl, I knew someone a lot like you. They had ’em even way back then. This was about eighteen sixty when this event happened. I knew the man, James, his name was, when he was sixty or seventy. Back when he was a young man he had an expensive Standardbred horse that had won a few races in its day, and he used to take the girls on rides in his green surry. The most expensive one they sold.”

“Yeah,” replied Alex, a little impatient about the history lesson.

“So he was nearly a vegetarian, didn’t believe in violence, had a little trouble at school but got by in the end. His papa had a musket, he tried giving it to James, and James stuck it above the fireplace and then promptly forgot about it.  One night, believe it or not, a thief entered his property, hearing about the expensive horse. He brought a bridle and some carrots, enough to fool most horses. James got up, pulled a lantern off the wall, and took the musket off the fireplace. You wouldn’t believe how scared he was seeing some stranger putting a bridle on his most prized animal.

He had a real conflict of interest at that point. James would never be the sort to shoot someone, unless he was about to be shot himself, but he couldn’t just stand there and let his fortune ride away, either. So he acted like you would.

‘Get away from that horse or else,’ shouted James. The thief saw him with the rifle and tried hopping on the horse. He slipped off and fell on the ground.

‘I’m going to take a warning shot,’ informed the young man. He aimed the rifle in the thieves’  general direction and fired, terrified that he would hit his horse or the thief. Once the robber got on his feet again, he noticed James had fired his only shot, so he ran up and hopped on the horse. As the stranger galloped away laughing, James kicked himself and decided he’d had enough of warning shots and vegetarianism, and a year later about that time he was a pretty tough customer. The point is, in eighteen sixty, you didn’t have warning shots. Now ‘nigh everyone acts like he used to it seems. Way ahead of his time, but not so smart, that man was.”

Alex silently stared at the ground, processing all the information. He didn’t know what to say. There were a few moments of silence, then Jack started smiling and chuckling.

“Took a warning shot with a MUSKET,” laughed Jack obtusely. “What the hell.”

The Beast

“Why exactly are you so interested in this?” asked John Ivans, standing uncomfortably in his doorway. His guest was Jarl Winslow, English multimillionaire and eccentric. Their Pacific town had never seen anyone of his stature and it made John quite uncomfortable.

“I need him for my private collection. It’s a big affair, very exclusive,” replied the sure, foreign tone of Jarl’s voice. He was overdressed, wearing a creme blazer and white pants, making him stand out that much more.

“Well, I’ve thought about it a lot since you last called, and I can’t really refuse.” He summoned up his courage for a moment. “I’m not honestly so into this whole idea, but if you insist, I’ll help you out.”

“Thank you very much. You will have no complaints regarding payment, that I can assure you.” Jarl slid two hundred-dollar bills out of his black shell cordovan wallet. “Your advance.” John took it carefully, regarding it as one regards a dying bear on a bear hunt.

“Are you sure?” he stammered.

“Extremely. I shall see to to-morrow,” replied the gentleman, tipping his hat briefly and departing.

– – – – – –

“I suppose this man is the best in the area, as far as his knowledge of the land goes. We will have a shot at success with him on our side,” said Jarl confidently.

“The Sheriff wouldn’t recommend anyone but him, I don’t think,” said Robert Crawford, private investigator. He sighed and  watched the road as he drove. Crawford had served in Chicago for ten years, seen a lot of tough stuff, and developed skin as thick as a rhinoceros. Anything during this trip would be a total piece of cake. The Northwest was a joke compared to a Midwestern metropolis. Or so he thought…

– – – – – –

The next evening, before sunset, Winslow, Crawford, and Ivans took the long drive to the edge of the county, where the woods were so thick there was scarcely a house. This was the area where there had been several sightings in the past years.

“But you seriously have an actual mermaid?” asked John Ivans, barely believing his ears.

“That is a secret. You would have to see for yourself, but I do not let guests in often. Perhaps I will invite you sometime later,” replied Winslow. The car slowed down, kicking a few final pieces of dirt into the air before stopping entirely. Crawford got out of the driver’s seat and leaned against the hood for a minute, breathing in the fresh mountain air. The three men stood silently for a moment, then started to study the treeline.

“Well, I think I’ll take a look n’ see if there’s any tracks,” ventured John.

“Of course,” said Jarl Winslow, putting on his brush poncho to keep his blazer clean. They walked down the hill before the treeline and the tracker pulled out his special tools, a multicolored flashlight and a rangefinder. Crawford stayed behind, hand on the butt of his Ruger Redhawk forty-four magnum. Something about the woods didn’t seem quite right to him, although John Ivans seemed to think it was normal. The sun was almost brushing against the horizon already.

“I brought two trail cameras,” informed John, placing one strategically on a tree and marking it with yellow tape. “We can come tomorrow and see if they find anything.”

Crawford nodded resolutely. They traveled another hundred yards and put up the next camera, but Ivans did not see any tracks except for one belonging to a small rabbit. As night fell, Crawford found himself feeling a bit off, scared of the slightest things. Winslow seemed to be acting less exuberant but not as affected as Crawford. Ivans kept to himself, and no-one else could tell what he was thinking and feeling. They headed back to the vehicle, tense but relieved to be done for the night.

– – – – – –

Winslow had never believed in the beast until he was driving out in the country after a secret business meeting. There, in the middle of the night, he saw a coyote run by. After stopping the car and listening resolutely, he saw a dark figure rushing through the leaves and heard horrible, gruesome sounds emanating from the forest. The canine yelped, and a fearsome deep-voiced mammal grunted and roared. Whatever it was, it made him think the old Indian legend was true. From then on, he was determined to capture it. 

– – – – – – 

After checking the cameras the second day, the men saw nothing of value.

“I do not want to sound heavy-handed, but are you sure there are no other steps to take?” inquired a disappointed Jarl Winslow. John stared at him for a second, then a light slowly came on in his head.

“Wait– I know. There’s an old man that lives around here, and if anyone knows about this creature, it’s him.”

“Where does he live?”

“He’s in an old shack a mile past the end of old Mill Road. It will be a hike to get there. No-one else lives in that entire section.”

Half an hour later, the trio found themselves trailblazing through the underbrush on the way to the house. The land was desolate and wild, teeming with energy.

“What do you know about this creature, Mr. Ivans?” asked Jarl.

“Not a whole lot, aside from what my dad told me. The Natives called him Dvahamochak, and they used to tell them stories about him to keep their kids from going outside alone. It scared them pretty well. There were no sightings for a hundred years, but recently they’ve started up again. Nowadays, around here we call him Big D.”

Winslow laughed for a moment.  “Do you know anyone who has seen him?”

“No, not personally. We’re almost there. I’m going to set up another camera that views his house.”

“Good idea,” said Crawford, who had been silent for ten minutes.

The shack was from the generation that made things the old way, by hand with local materials. Logs, not plywood; nails, not screws. It was not in the best of shape, however. Crawford wondered how anyone could live in such a tiny area. Winslow broke the nervous waiting feeling as they stood in front of the house by knocking decisively. It was silent again for a minute.

The door opened, revealing an old bearded man with a face full of wrinkles.

“Who is this?” he asked, surprised.

“Jarl Winslow, Detective Crawford, and John Ivans,” said the millionaire, sweeping his hand. “We’ve come to ask you some questions, if you don’t mind, about this local legend.”

The old man looked scared.

“Uh, what are you asking?”

“Well, Willie, we thought you may have had some sort of contact with this creature, living out here like this.”

He felt suspicious about the whole matter.

“No, I’ve never seen it. I’ve never even heard of it. There’s no Sasquatch around here,” he pouted, looking at the ground.

“You’re sure?” followed Winslow.

“Yes, darned right.”

Winslow caught a look at the interior of the house, which was a total mess.

“Mister Willie, if you would like, I could get you some new furniture, a new bed? It seems the current one is… not in such good condition,” offered Jarl.

“No. No! There’s no point in that,” snapped Willie, slamming the door abruptly.

The men left downtrodden, again, and even Winslow found himself feeling that there was barely a point in their continued search.

“What did you think of Willie?” John said to Detective Crawford.

“He was pre-ty weird,” he replied concisely. The journey back was easier since there was already a trail, and before long, they were back in town, forced to wait another night. Morale was low, but Winslow and Ivans decided to give the cameras one more chance.

– – – – – –

“Oh my gosh,” said John, staring wide-eyed at his trail camera. “Look at it.”

“That’s just Willie,” said Robert Crawford, unsure what to think.

“I don’t think so,” replied the tracker. “It’s as tall as the whole house! And it looks like it’s about to wait in front of the door or go inside!” He could barely believe his eyes. “And look at this one, he’s going in the opposite direction, and it looks like it could have even been inside the house!”

Crawford could barely believe their success, but Ivans had stunning evidence. Besides, the bipedal thing caught on film was much taller than a person, especially Willie.

“Something is not right here,” said Crawford. “Willie must be hiding something.” He grasped his revolver again. Ivans felt for his pistol in his pocket as well, just to be sure. Winslow had stayed in town, tired of their past failures and feeling a little bit under the weather.

“We have to go talk to him again,” declared Crawford.

They knocked on the door, but nobody answered.

“Open the door!” shouted Crawford. “Or I’ll kick it down!”

The detective got ready to bash the door down but John stepped in and turned the handle, opening it. Crawford looked slightly embarrassed. Willie was inside, sitting on a chair, staring directly at them.

“We want to know if…” said the detective, cut off.

“No! He’s never been in here!”

John flashed a quick glance at Crawford and nodded.

“We found pictures of something, it looks like–“

Willie stood up and ran past at the two men, pushing John off to the side and escaping through the door. Quickly, Detective Crawford was onto him. They collided and Willie fell to the ground. The detective pulled out his firearm and pointed it at the old man while yelling.

“Where the frick is Big D?”

“He was never here!”

“I’m serious, we have pictures. Why are you denying this?”

“You don’t understand,” whimpered the old man. He shouted into the woods in a bizarre way.

“We know it was around here.” John Ivans appeared behind the detective.

“Just calm down, put your gun away, and I’ll tell you,” said Willie, slowly getting up. There was silence for a few minutes, then Crawford obliged.

“See, me and him, we have… a relationship.”

The two investigators were stunned. Willie turned around, seeing something important, and ran off into the woods. Crawford drew his revolver and fired, the bullet bouncing off a tree. They lost sight of the old man.

“What the hell?” said Crawford. They followed after Willie, and after barely making it into the forest, they saw him standing right next to a gigantic lumbering ape-like creature, talking to it. They were barely twenty yards away. Crawford and Ivans stopped cold, amazed.

“I can’t believe it,” whispered John. The detective was silent.

Willie was talking to the thing, quietly at first. Then, the two men heard it.

“Go get them!” shouted the old man, pointing. Instantly, the beast gave chase to them through the woods and across the open field as Ivans and Crawford ran for their lives.

“Get your gun!” shouted Crawford, panicked. They spun around and fired at the beast as it got closer and closer to them. The detective emptied all six shots in his cylinder, and the creature dropped right at his feet at the last second. Behind it was Willie.

“Why… Why did you kill him?” he yelled, hitting the ground and pounding it. “He was my only friend!”

“That’s enough, Willie. You’re going with us.” Crawford walked over and handcuffed the crying old man. John stayed put, staring at the huge body of their target. It had barely been killed in time.

“The place for you is at the mental hospital, Mister,” said Crawford, walking behind Willie all the way to the car. What do you think Winslow is gonna think of all this?”

– – – – – –

In the red, carpeted room of Jarl Winslow’s private museum, the newest exhibit was receiving a lot of attention, more than anything else in years. Killed in a gruesome fight to the death with a Northwestern hunter, the body of a massive ape was displayed in all its viscous glory.Winslow billed it as one of the toughest, most heartless predators in the world.

Clash of Clans; why it is so popular

Clash of Clans; why it is so popular

by River Stratkotter

Clash of Clans is an enjoyable and addictive multiplayer strategy game. It is enjoyable because of the high-quality gameplay where you get to attack other players and win trophies. Clash of Clans can also become extremely addictive, and is very popular worldwide, one of the top games in a number of different countries. 

As a player, you can pillage other people’s villages, take their loot, and aquire more trophies. Trophies are used as a symbol of status within the game. You can upgrade your buildings, village, and townhall to unlock new buildings and defenses. I find these aspects very exciting while playing the game. Sometimes, upgrading can take days. 

Clash of Clans, for better and for worse, can become a highly addictive game. Most people find attacking other people’s villages to be very exciting and frenetic. Another addictive aspect is that it is difficult to get enough loot to upgrade something newly-bought. The adrenaline rush brought on by the game’s mechanics and upgrading system has made many players spend up to thousands of dollars on the game. 

It has very good ratings on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Another way to see how popular the game is would be looking at how many total clans there are. (a number in the tens of thousands, and each clan can have up to fifty people) One reason for the game’s popularity is because it is free to download. Combined, all these factors make the game very popular. 

Aleksandr Pushkin: The Truth, Critical Essay

Aleksandr Pushkin: The Truth, Critical Essay

Azure Gallagher Michalak

“From ancient times sages were seeking

For the forgotten truth’s footprints.

And they for long were loud-speaking

The usual speeches of old flints.

They were repeating: “The truth-treasure Had hidden self into a well.” (5)

And, drinking water all together, were crying: “There we’ll find it, well!”

But someone faithful friend of mortals, (Maybe Silen this person was)

The witness of their disputes, thoughtless,

Had tired of water and of noise,

Left all attempts to find the holly, And thought about wine, the first, (10)

And, having drunk a bowl, whole,

Saw, on its bottom, the truth, lost.”

 -Aleksandr Pushkin, Yengeny Bonver translation [1]

One of the fundamental human attributes is the search for the Truth, the meaning of life. It has been a signature part of society ever since at least the beginning of civilization. People have attempted in myriad ways to try to find this universal truth; philosophy, religion, sports, math, science, and art are just a sample. And so Pushkin’s poem begins with a subject no less important than this; sages trying to find the meaning of life, the Secret that makes everything sparkle.

At the beginning, these wise sages track down footprints, and search widely for the remainder of the “truth-treasure”. They appear to be unsuccessful, and at the end, the situation becomes hopeless and the distracted wise men talk amongst each other whilst drinking water and making excuses, saying the truth must be hidden in a well. (5) As they are drinking water and still not finding the truth, it becomes apparent that this method is not working. The water in this poem stands for cowardice and blandness, and reminds one of the phrase “watered down.” It symbolizes the futility of their hunt for truth.

The search for meaning has been a failure for the wise sages, but someone else is now introduced, Silen or Silenus. At the end, only the person who became tired of the search actually found it. Silen was a satyr from Greek mythology, one of the first antinatalists. (those against bringing life into the world) This philosophy, of which a central tenet is overpopulation, has existed since long before the total human population was over one billion. Ironically, as Silen abandons the quest for the truth, becomes distracted and drinks wine, he actually discovers that truth lost at the bottom of his bowl. (12) The moral is that you cannot find the truth by furiously searching for it like the sages, only by letting it find you instead. The latter half of the poem could be miscontrued to support alcoholism, but in actuality the wine and water are symbolic for different ways of living, the former frenetically searching and the latter calm and collected. 

There are two words for “truth” in Russian, Istina and Pravda. The former is “divine truth” and the latter is subjective truth, the word used in this poem. [2] Of all the ways of searching for the Truth, some are direct and some not as direct; some use a physical method to bring psychological and spiritual satisfaction to their lives, others try to find it directly at a higher level. It seems the old men were trying this higher spiritual or philosophical approach without success. Silenus’ approach, on the other hand, was reminiscent of Forrest Gump, Sling Blade, or any simpleminded but generally happy people.

“The Truth” is a compliment to the physically-dwelling and simple-minded, stating that only by enjoying life can one find any remnant of the truth, not by trying to directly capture it. By being less intelligent, one is aware of less problems and life may appear better. Abstract worries or ideaologies may not obscure vision in these people. As the overused cliche goes, “Ignorance is bliss.” Many appear happy with their lives lived simply, on farms or the wilderness. 

One of the issues with this poem, and with Pushkin and Russian poets in general, is the fact that meaning is often lost or occluded in translation. Russian only shares primitive roots with English, and compared to French and Spanish it is quite difficult to translate. The numerous translations of this piece in particular make this fact painfully obvious. Neither of them are alike or even very similar. A literal interpretation is below, and it seems that the Yevgeny Bonver translation is actually inferior in a way, using rhymes that do not fully fit together and feel quite false. A fitting example is: “The truth-treasure has hidden itself into a well/ and there we’ll find it, well!” 

Literal Translation

It has long been looking for the wise

Traces of the forgotten truth

And long, long interpreted

Longstanding rumors elderly.

Asserted: “Truth is holy In the pits, cleaned up secretly “

And, happily drinking water, Shouted: “Here we find her!”

But somebody, mortal benefactor (And almost old Silenus)

Their stupidity important witness,

Water and cry tired,

Left our invisibility, First thought about wine

And, drained to the dregs the cup

Saw the truth at the bottom.

Although some of the English grammar and all of the end rhymes have been taken out in this version, it has more of the Russian character and arguably more impact than the translation at the beginning of this essay. Nevertheless, Alexsandr Pushkin is considered the Shakespeare of Russia, and “The Truth” is one of his more fascinating poems, on which many hours of research can be spent. It is very thought-provoking, a useful way to start philosophical discussions, and although the English version may not have the same impact as the original, it is still high-quality piece of classic poetry.




this is it; the Apocalypse

Everything was silent. I stood by the front window, staring outside at the neighborhood.

Something happened to the southwest, instantly appearing, as if a nightmare. A horrifying ashy explosion followed by a resounding crack. It reached up, gargantuan, through the sky, a slim brown spire of ash surrounded by a grey dusty pillar. The top of the cloud spread out suddenly and boldly into a shape resembling a mushroom.

The type of fear it created was not just physical, it was existential and undeniable.

My best friends, Ryan and Rinzal were in their house just across the street. I rushed to the front door, flung it open and yelled to my friends to come quickly. I could see through the window that Ryan heard me, and made a hand signal saying “one minute”, disappearing into the back of his house.

Thirty seconds later, my friends ran frantically across the street, briefly looking back at the explosion several miles away, which was now spreading up and outwards even more. With a momentary relief, they were safely inside my house. Ryan had brought a slingshot and Rinzal carried a set of poker chips under his arm.

“It’s not safe here. The radiation is going to go right through these windows,” I stammered.

“We should take a roll of that black plastic and tape it over them,” suggested Rinzal. He was thirteen years old, shorter and slightly younger than his brother and more cerebral.

I rushed to reply. “No, we can’t do that right now. Lock the front door.”

Rinzal ran to the front door and speedily spun the lock, making our house a step more secure.

“Come on. We need to get the supplies,” nagged Ryan worriedly.

“I have a bucket in my room,” I shouted, running towards it. “Go, get everything out of the cupboards.”

We worked very quickly to scavenge together food and other useful items. I brought an orange supply pail prepared for emergencies, and my friends took almost everything out of the kitchen.  Nonetheless, we forgot a number of things in our haste.

“The only safe place to go is in the basement. It will protect us from the radiation. Even if someone gets inside our house they probably still won’t find us there.”

My friends were worried.

“Are you sure?” asked Ryan. “Isn’t it just dirt down there?” He might as well have said it was too creepy for his taste.

“It’s the best spot,” I replied. The trapdoor to the basement was in the kitchen, covered up by a rug. I removed the cover and got a screwdriver out to pry open the trapdoor. Rinzal filled glass jars up with water and laid them next to me as I worked. Finally, the trapdoor popped open and I removed it, setting it to the side.

In front of us was the old wooden staircase leading into the basement. There were cracks in some of the steps, and they did not look absolutely reliable. At the bottom was a plain white wall. It looked as if there were no rooms in the basement, but once we descended to the bottom, we saw identical rooms on either side of the staircase, both rectangular and the size of the inside of a bus, between the two of them. We unloaded the supplies on the right side of the landing. There was a huge, black millipedal bug with ten body sections on the wall across from me. I gasped, horrified.

“Ryan, will you please get rid of that bug?” I asked nervously. He looked at me dumbly.

“No! Rinzal, won’t you kill it?” he asked. Rinzal shook his head. I cautiously approached the monstrous insect, thought about cutting it in half, but couldn’t stomach the thought of actually doing it.

“Please, Rinzal! I can’t…” I whined. He looked at the ground and thought for a moment.

“Ok,” he conceded. I backed off and sat on a creaky step as Rinzal got rid of the creature with his slingshot. Afterwards, we went back upstairs to dispose of its body and get the rest of the supplies. I rummaged around the kitchen for a moment for a deck of cards and jug of water, took one more quick glance out the front window at the grey wintry street, then descended down into the depths, putting the trapdoor on top, slightly ajar. The stairs groaned as I descended them and felt the heaviness that often comes along with going further underground. A miniature version of the bug I had just seen, about an inch long, crawled on the floor, but I ignored it this time and it moved away and disappeared into a small nook.

I turned right at the bottom of the stairs into the room where Rinzal and Ryan sat. Its central feature was a red plaid couch, next to which were two square coffee tables. At the furthest part of the room, where the trapdoor would be if the wasn’t a dividing wall between the room and the staircase, was a flatscreen television on the wall. I pressed the button on it, but it would not turn on. It was impossible to tell if it was because of the bomb or the faulty electronics, but the situation would not be changing any time soon.

It was encouraging to be with company in this room, and it made me feel less lonely. Rinzal mumbled something to his brother. He nodded.

“You should have brought your supplies over. Did you lock your door?” I asked Ryan.

His face showed guilt. “Yeah I locked it. We can get the stuff sometime later.”

“Hopefully,” I replied, not wanting to think much about it. “Good thing you brought those chips and slingshot, though. We’ll be using them a lot.”

“I got that little Nerf gun too,” said Rinzal.

“Cool,” I replied. “Good to have stuff to do. What about the rubbing alcohol and soap? Those were in the bathroom.”

“We’ll get it later after things calm down,” said Ryan, face serious. I nodded. Risking any more exposure at the moment would be extremely foolish. Silence reigned while we stared at the walls and breathed nervously. I felt a vague weight pressing down on me from up above.

Having never seen the other room before, I stepped over the bottom landing of the staircase to it. It was identical to the first, except it had a dirtier carpet and no furniture except a counter and small freezer at the far end. Something about this room on the left felt isolated and quiet, and it was filled with a cold grey, spacious energy. I stood in the center of the room for a few moments, not thinking at all, just doing nothing. More time passed, during which I heard Rinzal and his brother quietly conversing. For the first time since the bomb fell, I felt a sense of space, similar to the feeling of being alone in the countryside on a winter’s night.

For a bit, I just wanted time to think. I sat down, back against the wall. There was a newfound sense of freedom, of imprisonment. Thoughts, worries, and quiet passed through my head. In the air I could barely hear a sound. Slowly getting back up, I inspected the two pieces of furniture in the room, seeing if anything inside them was useful. We had brought a few things, but the more I thought of it the more it seemed there was almost nothing in the basement. After eight hours, we could perhaps take a speedy run back up to get clothes and books, the previously-forgotten supplies. 

I went back to the first room, where Ryan and Rinzal sat uncomfortably. They were obviously not used to doing nothing or being so confined. We surely had things to do, many of them, but it somehow felt sacrilegious to entertain ourselves at such a dismal time. I sat on the couch as well, pleased to find there was room for three people on it.

“I’m going to take a nap,” declared Rinzal.

“Where?” I asked, realizing that there was nowhere to sleep except on the couch only after I said it. “C’mon, Ryan, let’s go in the other room.” 

We grabbed up the poker chips and cards, turned the light off in the right-side room and settled down for some poker on the floor in the other room. Now, it felt possible to do something aside from sit quietly. The chips went back and forth until I eventually lost, and by then we had slowed down a lot and become quite distracted. In the bucket was a bag of crackers which we munched on, happy to finally hear some other sounds from breathing and silence. 

Rinzal manifested from the shadows of the right room, rubbing his eyes.

“I can’t sleep,” he complained. 

“I know,” I said. He never usually slept during the daytime anyways. 

“Why don’t you play a hand or two?” I asked. Time flew by as we played round after round of many variants of the game. Later, after an improvised dinner and some conversation, it started to get dark out. I decided enough time had went by for us to take turns quickly blacking the windows out, barricade some weak points, and get clothing and reading material.