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Pick that school and really fight!

By Matt Benoit

This time of year, many of you are no doubt caught up in the mind-numbing, teeth-grinding, fingernail-biting, hair-pulling, and possibly even eye-gouging anxiety of deciding which colleges to apply to.

There’s a lot at stake; after all, this is your future—a totally gnarly future chock full of all-night toga parties, flaming jello shots, mindless orgies, and…whoops! Ha, ha, ha, of course we are only kidding, as we did not realize mom and dad were reading this column.

That last part should be changed to “chock full of all-night study parties, caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages, lots of hand-holding, and otherwise rational, perfectly legal activities.”

Now, some people say these college years will turn out to be “the best years of our lives,” but I’m not entirely sure about that. If this is true, it would lead me to believe that my life after college will turn out to be a spiraling abyss of shattered dreams, continual letdowns, and repeated failures in every facet of my existence. I can’t wait.

So that’s why I’m here to help you define a few key points to keep in mind when applying to colleges. You should and probably do have a lot of questions to answer in deciding which university is right for you, so let’s begin:

There are, of course, many steps in applying. To help pay for your education, you’ll want to apply for scholarships, which today are about as easily obtainable as a sexually-transmitted disease.

There are scholarships for being of a certain ethnicity, being in a certain major, being from a certain location and having a dog named Gertrude McPoodlePuppy—there are probably scholarships for applying for scholarships. My high school actually offered a scholarship to students whose family members owned a Harley. I wish I was making that up.

Besides being decided on a major at this point, it’s also important to consider your minor, which is important because—if you are a still a minor—you’ll have to have someone else buy your booze for you.

Now, I could drone on about all the academic requirements, but who cares, right? I mean, the university may ask you clarifying questions about your transcript (i.e. “Why is your GPA to the right of the decimal point?”), but all you have to do is just make some good excuses (i.e. “That MUST be a typo!”)

After all, there’s always other, perhaps more criteria to consider, including:

1) Are there places other than your dorm room to drink lots of beer, have sex, or get high?

In some cases, the answer is no. Take Central Washington University in Ellensburg, for example. If you stand in the middle of the street at midnight (and trust me, you can—there is virtually no traffic) and listen carefully enough, you can actually hear tumbleweeds conversing with one another.

In fact, the city’s official tourism slogan is: “If it weren’t for this university, only about 15 people would live here.”

2) What kind of mascot do they have?

It is important to think about what type of lively character you will have representing your school and supporting your athletic teams during home games. Whatever they are, the type of mascot will usually have the word “fighting” in front of it, even if the school is full of pacifists. Here are just a few to mull over:

-The University of New Mexico is home to the legendary “Fighting Quesadillas.” On really hot days, the mascot’s cheese will melt and bubble. After athletic victories, the team’s coaches are “showered” with a celebratory nacho cheese bath.

-The University of Idaho’s mascot is a giant potato named Spud that likes to get baked after games.

The University of Alaska is home to the “Fighting Lipstick Pit-Bulls.” Their mascot is Sarah Palin, and the school’s motto is “Going Rogue.” I have it on good authority that, if you really squint really hard towards the horizon, you can actually see Russia from the third-floor chemistry lab in the science building.

The University of Puget Sound is home to the Geoducks, which, as we all know, closely resemble clams with prescriptions for Cialis.

-Last but not least, there is UC Santa Cruz, whose mascot is—no joke—a banana slug. The mascot is not allowed to get near perspiring basketball players for obvious reasons:

SPORTS ANNOUNCER: “Wow, Bob! Looks like the SC mascot’s really having a meltdown over there! They really shouldn’t have made him hold the player’s sweaty towels!”

Another consideration is a school’s “alma mater” (Latin for “drinking song”). This, of course, is a musical composition full of beautiful verses that pay tribute to your educational home, and which nobody ever remembers how to sing properly and usually butchers at sporting events after a few beers. Here is an example:

College, College

A place of higher knowledge

For every lesson taught

There was that beer I bought

Where I got along

With that great water bong

Where I paid the tuition

But getting tail was my mission

You see how this works. Anyway, I don’t think I need to belittle you with anymore advice. In closing, I want to wish you only the best of luck.

After all, it won’t be long now before you’re wandering through the isles of some esteemed bastion off academia known as a college bookstore, purchasing overpriced textbooks and other literary-inspired products like the Ernest Hemingway-brand dandruff shampoo (“A FAREWELL TO DANDRUFF”), or John Steinbeck-brand fruit juices with flavors like “WHITE GRAPE WRATH.”

This, my friends, is your time. And, if you’re lucky, someone else’s money.

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Notice: “Deception” writing contest seeking submissions

reads“Deception,” a Whatcom County writing contest being held in honor of this year’s WhatcomReads! book, “Old School,” by Tobias Wolff, is seeking submissions. In order to participate, the following criteria must be met:

-You must attend a high school or institution of higher education (Western Washington University, Bellingham Technical College, Whatcom Community College, or the Northwest Indian College)

-Write up to 800 words

-Create an entirely original story (fiction or non-fiction is welcome)

-Entries must be submitted via e-mail to: by Thursday, January 28, 2010.

The theme is Deception

-When does a lie become the truth?

-How far would you go to win?


Entries will become property of The Big Read/WhatcomReads and will not be returned. Portions of a winning entry may be used rather than the whole. By submitting an entry all writers grant permission to The Big Read/WhatcomReads to share their writing on the library Web site and in publications and media. Winners will be announced February 1, 2010 on the Web site

One winner from each educational institution will be published in an anthology and will be invited to read their work at an author’s reception at Village Books on Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 4 p.m.

The winning entry will also be published in the February 9 issue of the Horizon.


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Music Reviews


By: Daniel de Lisle

Guest Writer

  1. “Fireflies”- Owl City

In the song “Fireflies,” singer, songwriter, and producer Adam Young (aka Owl City) has mined for success and struck one-hit wonder gold with nothing but a boyish charm, extensive music production, and I can only imagine a full load of tenacity. Finding this song appealing is a lot like doing drugs—most young people have done it at some point and a lot them still do.

The upbeat, techno pop verses are catchy and the simple piano/guitar/rhythm chorus pairs with his voice nicely while building the song as it progresses. The melody lines flow and the singing is adequate but makes use of many studio tricks; hardly noteworthy. Often the lyrics air on the side of sanguine; words that are too sweet for words.

The extensive production makes for a passionless song that limits itself to being no more than a pop break from your average day. With a real drummer, a good guitarist, a little less Kanye and a little more Swift, Owl City could be capable of some great progressive music. For now though they will remain everyone’s dirty shame of 2009.

2. “Party in the USA”- Miley Cyrus

A lot of people would expect me to bag on this song, and those people are going to be disappointed. I actually like this song; it’s got a catchy guitar rhythm, unobtrusive although lackluster drums, and some interesting synth sound effects that somehow manage to add to the chorus. If anyone besides Miley sang this song I would be happy… but I’m not.

My problem with this song is record executives. Song writers are contracted to write songs for famous artists which big name record labels like Atlantic or Columbia buy the rights to for dirt cheap. Every time Miley is going to release some new product, the executives at Hollywood Records will hand her a single and spend a month in a recording studio waiting for her to sing a part perfect once, then cut and paste those correct takes into a Frankenstein song.

That is how you get things like Ms. Cyrus’s seemingly “perfect every time” vocal flailing on this otherwise decent song. I blame the record executives because they are greedy and know Miley brings home the bacon. If they actually cared about music they would give the good songs to someone who could sing them and not sound like a fire truck being repeatedly beaten to death by auto-tune. It’s shenanigans like this that keep Kurt Cobain dead.

3. “Bad Romance”- Lady Gaga

I want to get one thing straight—I love Lady Gaga, whatever the hell she is. If you strip away all the crazy outfits, ridiculous lyrics, and alleged man bits, you are left with one of the most powerful voices in pop today. “Bad Romance” sounds like what would happen if Cher and Techno music got freaky together.

Gaga brought her characteristic ear-catching lyrics, artful melodies, and bold voice to the table with the kind of production, sound effects, and song writing that only a star can buy. The song has just enough variation to keep you interested the whole way through and seems to have borrowed tricks from Madonna, Daft Punk, and even the French—not bad company in my opinion.

With the release of her sophomore album and a great first single, all doubts in my mind have been suspended—I expect to see Lady Gaga lead the techno-pop genre well into the next decade.

-Daniel de Lisle is a Whatcom student and local musician who claims a background in Jazz, Funk, Ska, Classical, Rock, and Pop music. He has played trombone with groups like Snug Harbor, the WWU Jazz Program, the Whatcom Wind Symphony, and the WCC Jazz Ensemble.

He has also played as a guest artist with the Acorn Project, The Love Lights, and the Thomas Harris Quartet. Daniel has recorded on four CDs, including Snug Harbor’s “Sounds from the York,” which has been nominated by What’s Up! Magazine for the CD of the Year Award.

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Notice: Co-op offering cooking classes for WCC students

IMG_2488cropThe Cordata Community Food Co-op, located at 315 Westerly Road, is now offering cooking classes with priority given to WCC students. Titled “Learn to Cook at the Co-op,” the classes will take place in the Roots Room of the Cordata Co-op and are taught by instructor Dorothy Hopkins.

There will be three sessions of the class, which will take place on three consecutive Fridays (Jan. 15, Jan. 22, and Jan. 29) from 4 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $15, with room for between five and 10 students. Those interested must sign up for all three sessions.

Topics covered will include organizing and stocking a kitchen, basic nutrition, exploration of grains, legumes, and vegetables, and shopping on a budget. To register for the classes, go to the Co-op Service Desk at either of the Co-op’s two Bellingham locations, or call (360) 734-8158. You can also e-mail at

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