A Semester In Review

The fall semester has finally come to a close. I can imagine that everyone is sighing in relief that it’s over. Now,  we can plop onto our beds, face first onto the pillow and take nice long break from this anxiety filled mess that was this fall.

When I look back at this semester I feel jaded and robbed of what was suppose to be exciting semester. With this being my second go around of doing online classes, I was less than thrilled to hear the news half way through the seamster that the spring was going to be same thing all over again.

A huge disappointment but not a surprise. All we can do is look forward and push onward. I will have to say though that during this period of solitude at home. I’ve had time reflect on the past and grow a deeper appreciation of life pre-pandemic. I always found myself sitting by my window with drink in my hand just staring down the way towards Manhattan and getting lost in my memories.

I came to learn that there are many things that we’ve taken for granted because we have grown accustomed to expecting that they will be there tomorrow. Friends, Family, your local coffee shop, even plans. No one in there right mind would think that at the turn of new decade we would be facing global health crisis and lose all semblance of normality within our society.  It’s like an atomic bomb had just been dropped on us and now we’re just sifting through the debris of what is left.

But the bomb wasn’t the pandemic itself. No, that came afterward. The pandemic was the catalyst that set it off . The count down was set in motion long ago. There was no way to predict when it was going to go off but it finally did.  It erupted with a fury that engulf everyone, a summer filled with protest and violence that has shaken us to our core.

Tension has been mounting for year for an issue that has still not been resolved. This pandemic only amplified that disparity that exist between Black and White pitting the issue on the for front of everyone minds. There was no escaping that harsh reality that plagues this nation. I say this to emphasized that tool we call the internet has play a vital roll in bring this struggle inside each and every house hold in America.

If there is any bright side to this crazy year it is that this class has given at-least for me an outlet to relieve stress and enjoy something new.  A way to block out all of the insanity on the news and to be able to create. That is what I feel is the purpose in creating the The Phantom Chronicle . A place where I can pour out what I’m feeling and what I see both Journalistically and personally all in the same place.

Through the guidance of Prof. Seslow and through the influence of my fellow classmate work. I learned how take the power of the internet and put my own spin to it. As a journalist my goal is to report what is going on in our neighborhoods, our nation, and the world. We do that by creating stories that allow our readers to connect to the issue on a personal level. This class has been an amazing asset in giving me new, creative and unorthodox methods my storytelling abilities in ways I never thought of before by using memes, gif, art, videos, and sound to enhance the experience.

Now, in traditional news print media this would never fly, maybe in magazine writing but you are still limited compare to on the web. You have more freedom and tools at your disposal. You have hundreds of choices and directions you can take to create a unique but compelling story. That to me was the biggest take away from this class.

My website will eventually have a bunch of different projects, pieces of writing, and art in the near future. Move forward, I will be trying to actively post every day or at least every other day with new and creative content. I guess you can call this my little creative play ground.

To explain my website set up, I broke my pages down with my blog being the second option next to the home button since it is where most my time will be spent through out the weeks. This will be where my daily personal blog post will reside and I named it the “DAY TO DAY” since I’ll be recounting my experiences and personal thought that are on my mind at that day.

Next “News” which will eventually encompass news articles I write about York from Pandora’s Box and of the city overall. This will later  be broken down to subsection with specific topics of intrest such politics, breaking news, business, etc.

After that we have the “OP-ED” section which will hold all of my journalist and overall formal opinion on news related topics. Finally, the “Review” section is where where a I will putting up my journalistic opinion the latest, “Films”, T.V./ Streaming  shows, and “Music” releases I think this deserved its own page because these are my favorite topics to write about on my free time. 

My goal is by the start of next year I am looking to have all of these pages and categories completely populated with a whole bunch of content. This being my first “Day to Day” Blog post. Marking the beginning of new chapter for this site.

Im not big fan of grading my own work because of how subjective it is. Your perspective is automatically screwed because we’re our own worse critic. We can either be to nice to ourselves or to harsh. It’s just hard to be impartial to your own creativity. Nonetheless, after I evaluated the grading policy for this class, my overall work ethics, completing all 15 post required for the course, and having built a website. I think that for the semester I deserve an A or an A- at-least.

To all my fellow classmates and to Prof. Seslow I want to thank you for a wonderful semester even with how crazy it was. I learned a lot and really enjoyed reading everyones post through out the weeks. They brighten up day when things got bleak. I hope you all have a restful break, I wish you all a happy holidays and Merry Christmas !!!



Positions by Ariana Grande: A Project With No Direction

Photo Credit | By Flickr

By Saul De Leon

Released on October 30thPositions marks Ariana Grande’s sixth studio album and is a shell of her capability as an artist when it’s put up against her impressive discography.

Grande’s vocal performance on this album falls flat and fails to deliver an enticing experience as lyrics and production quality feel generic and bland. Coming off the heels of her successful fifth album, thank u, next, Positions pales in comparison and lacks the grandeur presentation; failing to live up to the hype. Unlike her previous five projects, which displayed a steady progression of her growth, Positions is underwhelming, filled with many forgettable tracks and doesn’t hit the mark.

The album opens up with the track “shut up.” Although it has a catchy beat, it comes off as your typical pop track and isn’t the most engaging opener that we have seen from Grande in the past. However, it’s not a dealbreaker, but Grande is known to flex her vocal range which in itself is captivating. She instead plays it safe and doesn’t venture outside of her comfort zone.

The true issue lies not so much in the production of these songs but in the writing and the lack of emotional investment. For instance, injust like magic” in the chorus Grande states “Middle finger to my thumb then I snap it/ just like magic/ I’m attractive/ I get everything I want because I attract it.” It’s simplistic but at the same time she’s Ariana Grande and we as the audience already know that she can get anything she wants with the snap of the finger. Lyrics like these pull the listener out of their immersion and raise eyebrows disparagingly. It is an odd flex of status that has already been established and at this point redundant. It prevents listeners from being able to relate to her lyrics and takes away from the overall experience.

The thing that stood out the most from this project was the lack of banger tracks. Where if we look back at her fourth album, Sweetener, which was chock full of hits like “God is a woman” and “Breathin,” Positions doesn’t have a single track that really stands out, which comes as a surprise because of how consistent Grande has been up until this point. It seems like she has gotten comfortable and is relying on her star power to carry most of the weight.

Many of these tracks feel uninspired and lack the layer of emotions that in the past has propelled some of her weaker tracks to go under the radar. Even the features from The Weeknd and Doja Cat fell flat with the exception of Ty Dolla $ign, who crushed his feature on the track “safety net, which is probably the only solid one on the album.

Position feels less like a fully flush out album and more like the accumulation of all of the leftover tracks from previous albums that didn’t make the cut. There is no clear direction and the songs all feel out of place from one another like there is a compilation of singles. With the lack of a cohesive theme, Positions suffers from indecisiveness and an identity struggle as a piece of music with no uniform sound as an album.

Nevertheless, even with its many shortcomings, it doesn’t take away from Grande’s top tier statues as an artist. It was inevitable that Grande would eventually have a bad outing and this seems to be it. However, it doesn’t excuse the generic nature of this album.

Enola Holmes A Fresh Take on the Holmes Family

Photo by Netflix

By Saul De Leon

Enola Holmes is a delightful and intriguing addition to the lure of fascination that is Sherlock Holmes’ family. Released September 23, 2020, on Netflix, partnered with Legendary Pictures and PCMA Productions. Directed by Harry Bradbeer who is most notably known for his contribution to directing 11 episodes of the hit Amazon Prime Series, Fleabag.

Takes a light-hearted innocent approach to this film by creating a clear division between the bright-eyed extroverted personality of Enola played by Mille Bobby Brown and contrasting that to the reserved introverted nature of Sherlock played by Henry Cavill. While the characters differ heavily on their approach in handling complex investigations, they share the unique but brilliant quality of natural detective instincts that the series is known for.

The film follows Enola as she guides us through her journey of searching for her mother Eudoria Holmes played by Helena Bonham Carter who abruptly disappears and abandons Enola. Following her mother’s disappearance, Sherlock and Mycroft played by Sam Claflin are called back home to investigate and to figure out what to do with Enola.

Mycroft takes charge of the situation and decides to send Enola to a finishing school for young ladies. This subsequently triggers Enola’s decision to go on her quest of finding her missing mother. On her journey, she stumbles across a young boy Viscount Tewksbury played by Louis Partridge the son of a powerful Lord in England on a train to London. He is attacked on the train and Enola saves him from being murdered.

Enola and Tewksbury find their way to London and part ways but as Enola would find out later on Tewksburys attempted murder ties hand in hand with her mother’s disappearance. This leads Enola on a parlous adventure of mystery and betrayal that would allow her to carves her path of becoming a strong independent woman.

With the combination of CGI, set design, and beautiful cinematography Enola Holms is a gorgeously shot picture. The costumes and locations do a tremendous job of keeping the audience immersed in 19th century London with its chaotic but exciting fast-paced nature.

Brown’s performance as Enola was touching and humorous. This role allowed her to shine outside of her in the critically acclaimed role Eleven in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. Brown does a brilliant job building Enola from a sheltered girl who learned everything about the world from books and her mother. Into a daring but clever detective who can stand toe to toe with the great Sherlock Holmes.

In many ways, Enola and Sherlock are the same people but unlike Sherlock, Enola is less awkward and likable in her interactions with other characters. Whereas Sherlock has trouble connecting with others and more often comes across as arrogant showing off his brilliance. However, Sherlock is already established as a detective and is seen as a legendary figure in England. Where Enola is seen as this mysterious child riding on the coat tail of her mythological brother.

It was clever of Bradbeer and the writers to create this division because it gets the audience wondering what qualities do these two have in common. It is made clear that detective work is in their blood and that is due to a large part of their mother Eudoria. This helps explain why Sherlock is the way he is, a direction that previous adaptations have not explored.

Though Sherlock resents his mother, Enola is quite fond of her. Enola shares many of her mother’s qualities which explains why Sherlock is so distant from Enola at the beginning of the film. Yet, by the end of the film, both Sherlock and Enola come to appreciate each other and see one another as equals. Neither is better but is special in their own way which creates fascinating chemistry between the characters.

The main aspect that stood out of this film was its underlining theme of feminism. Throughout the film, Enola is constantly being pursued by her brother Mycroft. Since he is trying to take her to a Finishing school to teach Enola how to be a proper lady. However, Enola is her mother’s child and was never thought of these stringent stereotypes of 19th-century womanhood. Enola’s personality challenges the system and her personality goes against the societal norms of this world. Unlike previous films that focused more on the investigation tropes of Sherlock, this film is more of a character study.

Themes like feminism tend to be pushed down our throats in films that have strong leading women. Enola Holmes doesn’t do this because the Holmes family is already unorthodox. The addition of Enola doesn’t change the dynamic but amplifies the qualities are these characters and build off them. It is a seamless transition that was inevitable for this series and with strong performances from this stellar cast. The film shines and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there are already talks of a sequel.

A Summer Worth Forgetting: The Death of a Once Great City

Photo by Flicker

By Saul De Leon

When schools shut down back in March, it was a kick in the gut and it seems like a global apocalypse had become a reality. As each month passed, New York started to feel dystopian; almost a literal ghost town as if a bomb had just gone off. Images of wrapped-up dead bodies being packed into trucks and being buried in mass graves flooded the news. All while our
president continued to downplay the severity of the situation and neglected our city.

While being a responsible New Yorker protecting my family and community by being in quarantine, the real enemy of this summer was not the virus itself but the human mind. I couldn’t help but feel like my world was turning into an episode of the Truman Show.

Trapped inside the four walls of my apartment with only my memories of walks in the park, dining indoors, and having drinks with friends to keep me company. Life as we knew it had all but disappeared in the dust of an invisible disease playing the role of the grim reaper and I wanted out.

As each day passed, the reports of cases and death continued to rise. By that point, we had gotten used to the bad news. Crime and violence started to rise here in the city as cops decided to go on vacation from taking responsibility for the systemic issues that plague our justice system. Soon, the police replaced the virus as Public Enemy #1.

When I was finally able to travel outside my neighborhood after four months of near solitary confinement for an overdue haircut, I discovered that the spirit of this city had died. It was buried beneath the rubble of its failing economy. Each block I walked on throughout Downtown Brooklyn resembled the ruins of the once-great Roman Empire. I can recall walking by a father standing on the corner holding his three-year-old son asking me for money surrounded by dozens of closed businesses. U-Haul trucks double-parked up and down Fifth Avenue as those with better means packed up to flee the Big Apple for the suburbs.

It was a surreal sight-seeing Atlantic Avenue practically empty. With a lack of tourism, it goes to show how much New York’s economy relays on it. The city is in a dilapidated state crumbling from the inside out and suffering from a broken heart. It’s hard to tell if we are going to recover from this pandemic. New Yorkers are some toughest people you’ll meet, but unlike after events Sept. 11, it feels our soul was torn out. Maybe this is the moment that New York finally goes to sleep.