The sunscreen that can’t be seen

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I’m a person who typically falls between the shades “porcelain” and “ivory” on the color spectrum, and I’m covered in freckles. Along with that comes sensitive, easily-burned skin every time the sun comes out. I’ve had to learn ways to protect my skin, because I will never be a person who tans instead of burns.

Over the years I have tried countless sunscreens — “active wear,” “sensitive skin,” sprays, sticks, lotions, even brands made for babies have made my skin burn from the chemicals within them. I remember being miserable as a kid after being out on the water all day feeling like my face was melting off. That is, until I found Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion. I swear by this product. The only time I have ever gotten a sunburn with it, it was because of user-error.

This sunscreen comes in a range of 30-100 SPF, and should be reapplied every few hours as directed on the bottle. Most sunscreen lotion can be a sticky mess, leaving my hands all greasy and smelling like a coconut just dumped all over me, so I often opt for spray. Neutrogena’s lotion leaves nearly no residue, doesn’t leave you all white and streaky and is unscented–probably a reason why my skin doesn’t burn with it. This enough is a reason for people of all skin-types to try out this brand.

I wear it under make up on harsh summer days, and it doesn’t add any extra oil to the look and is gentle on my facial skin. This would make it great for those that are prone to breakouts as well. On long days at the beach, I even venture to put it in the part of my hair (scalps can burn too!) and you can hardly tell it is there. It is water and sweat resistant, leaving you protected over two to four hours, depending on your sun sensitivity level.

The formula that Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen uses Helioplex, which allows the sunscreen to last longer against UVA and UVB damages.

While this sunscreen is a little more pricey than most, usually ringing up at about $8-$14 according to the SPF level and where you buy it,  a little goes a long way, and you will get plenty of uses from it. You can find it at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Ulta, and more.

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Review: Amacate Tortilla Bar

Amacate Tortilla Bar opened three days ago, and as a taco fan, I decided to pay them a visit as soon as possible.

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Located in the old White Horse Bar and Grill, Amacate has a great location near the hub of Dowlen and Parkdale Mall. The outside got a vibrant coat of paint and an inviting entrance, which had me excited to give them a try.

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When my boyfriend and I walked in we were immediately greeted and given menus. You order at the counter, then a server brings your food to your table, which made for a quick in-and-out lunch.

The menu boasts 17 different types of tacos, spanning from barbacoa, chicken and beef fajitas and fish to specialty tacos such as the Chipotle Chili Crab — topped with a poblano chili stuffed with crab, white rice, sour cream tomato sauce and fresh cilantro. Amacate even includes a small vegetarian menu, featuring a cactus taco.

With the amount of choices, I wish I could have mix-matched different types of tacos on the lunch plate, so I could try more types in one seating.

After ordering, we chose a table and were quickly served three salsa options and a bowl of chips. The plating and feel of this place is cultural and hip, down to the three little cups holding the salsa verde, warm red salsa and a mole-type dip.

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For starters, we got appetizer of queso, which came out similar to the velveeta/rotel mixture you make in the microwave. It was disappointing, after seeing all of the more authentic menu options, but let’s be real, we’ve all noshed on a huge bowl of the stuff at parties–I’m not above it.

For main course, we ordered lunch portions of el mariachi–chopped beef, chorizo, onion, avocado, chicharron and cilantro–and chubby pork–pork belly, onion, guacamole and cheese.

Our food was brought to our table in no more than 15 minutes, and included two tacos plated with the same mini coffee cups, this time filled with beans and sticky white rice.

The tacos were fresh, hot and stuffed to the brim. The chubby pork was tender and flavorful, with a kick from the guacamole, and the rice and beans were perfectly portioned. However, on the el mariachi, the meat was so greasy that my tortillas were completely saturated and dripping. I know chorizo can be grease-heavy, so it may have been a poor choice on my part, but I found myself picking off the toppings because I couldn’t bring myself to eat the tortilla.

Overall, I will definitely return to Amacate–even if it’s just to try the churro ice cream sandwich that was calling my name. I think it’s a refreshing change from the typical Southeast Texas Tex-Mex joint and I would like to try other varieties of their tacos in the future.

 

 

Dancer in Flight

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Renzo Jimenez performs an aerial routine in the studio, March 26.

Renzo Jimenez has a fear of heights, but that doesn’t stop him performing aerial silk routines. “When I go up there, it’s like nothing else matters — as long as you don’t look at the floor,” Renzo says. The La Porte senior started dancing at 14, before taking classes at 18. He started aerial dancing last year when he took a class at Lamar. “It was the first time they were offering it and I thought it would be fun,” the health major says. “It got real when we got up there. I’m not going to lie, I’ve fallen a lot. You can’t just think that you’re going get up on the silk and do tricks. You have to condition before even getting onto the silk, like any other sport or thing you do. You have to gradually get up there.” The dance minor says aerial dancing came easy. “I don’t weigh a lot and I can pick myself up there,” he says. Last fall, Jimenez performed an aerial duet where he didn’t come down for three or four minutes. “On the stage, all you can see is light. You’re holding yourself up there, breathing, and making sure you’re aware of your surroundings.” Renzo says that dance is an emotional outlet. “It gets me to release my emotions. When I’m out there, I just let that energy out without having to speak it. Basically, dance is like words for me.”

Real time printing left students impressed

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A trip to Triangle Press opens eyes to other side of news production

For the past two years, I have worked as a photographer for the University Press and learned the process of what it takes to make a weekly newspaper. We turn in photos, writers turn in stories, editors lay them out, they are looked over Wednesday morning and then magically the news print fairies drop them off in the stairwell for us to distribute by 6:45 a.m. Thursday. Yesterday, I got to meet the news print fairies – coated in globs of ink rather than pixie dust.  For the final issue of the paper, my class made a trip out to Triangle Printing in Orange, TX, the multi-million-dollar web press that brings our hard work to life every Wednesday.

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First, we saw where our digital files get inscribed onto metal plates that will later on be dipped in magenta, cyan, yellow and black ink. When I learned this, I was surprised that you could create the spectrum of colors we have in photographs and graphics with just 4 shades of ink. This four-color process works by separating each page on a metal plate according to what colors it needs (For example, the body text is on the black plate, the red University Press banner on the magenta). This allows the inks to mix with each other and create the colors we need.  It explained why I’ve always been told to lighten my photos 20% – so the ink doesn’t over saturate the paper trying to create a mixture of dark colors.

We then ventured out into the warehouse to see the giant humming machine being prepared for printing. The metal plates for each of our pages slide in between two rollers to be coated in their assigned ink, similar to how a pasta maker works. Using offset lithography, the design on the plates are transferred onto a wet cloth, which is then transferred onto the newspaper. It was amazing to see all of the paper web around the mechanic assembly line, and then come out in less than a minute. At first, the touch of the paper was still dewy from the transfer, but news paper is designed to dry fast for high speed production, so after a few seconds they were ready to be stacked. This machine can print 30,000 newspapers in an hour, so our set of 5,000 was produced in no time.

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It was really rewarding to watch all of the steps of the last paper I worked come to fruition and this visit gave a whole new appreciation to why we take certain steps on our side of production.

Review: “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” is the tale of two bachelors caught up in double lives vying to win over the hearts of two women infatuated withearnest the idea of an “earnest” man.

Lamar University’s rendition, which runs through Sunday, of the farcical comedy is engaging, quick-witted and downright funny.

Wilde’s lines are well-executed in a manner that effortlessly delivers the humor, without coming across as a punchline.

Sydney Haygood is a sensual, confident Gwendolyn, hopelessly in love with Jack Worthing. Jack, who is playing out a city-life as “Ernest,” is played by an emotionally-charged Ed Seymour. The two plan to wed once they receive a blessing from the bride’s hard-to-please (unless you’re wealthy) mother, Lady Bracknel.

Shelby Dryden plays a snarky and opinionated Lady Bracknel, who feels Jack’s family tree makes him unworthy of her daughter’s love and denies consent.

Algernon, Gwendolyn’s cousin, played by Chris Schroff, brings a fun, boyish banter to the group. When he catches wind that Jack has a second life in the country — one that includes his beautiful, young ward, Cecily — he makes a trip out to the estate.

Emily Buesing, a lively and naive Cecily, has created a romantic fantasy of the homecoming of Jack’s wicked brother, “Ernest.” Algernon arrives as “Ernest” and the two fall in love, much to Jack’s despair.

The leading ladies were the powerhouses of the play, landing lines that produced smiles throughout the audience.

One of my favorite parts was when Gwendolyn and Cecily meet and oversell their liking for each other, with a hint of jealousy, until think they are engaged to the same “Ernest” and deliver blow after blow to each other. The two then team up, upon finding out the men’s lies, in a sisterly alliance.

I loved the ‘in the round’ staging, where the audience fully encircles the ground level stage, similar to a boxing ring. I felt that I was actually in the scene at times, catching myself wincing when Jack chases Algernon to the edge of the stage. I recommend sitting on the front row for the same effect.

The actors made smooth transitions, making sure that no portion of the audience was neglected and even interacted with them at times, which was fun and engaging.

The ensemble was strong from start to finish and left me giggling throughout. The set, costumes and sound were perfect, and kudos must go to guest directors Philip Lehl and Kim Tobin-Lehl from Houston’s 4th Wall Theatre.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” continues today and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre.

Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 LU/LIT faculty and staff, senior citizens and Non-LU students and $7 for LU/LIT student with a valid ID at the door.

For tickets and information, visit the department’s website.

Review: “What’s He Doing in There? Photobombing in the Italian Renaissance”

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The lecture, “What’s He Doing in There? Photobombing in the Italian Renaissance,” offered insight as to why painters of the period included themselves in commissioned pieces. Associate Professor of Art History at University of Houston-Downtown Azar Rejaie was the guest speaker.

I could definitely tell that Rejaie had done her fair share of researching on this topic—this woman knows what she’s talking about. She offered reasonable and valid ideas as to why artists embedded themselves in art, gave excellent examples projected up on the screen of when this happened in history and went over how researchers have come to these conclusions.IMG_0626

However, I think that being over-researched may have worked to her disadvantage and I couldn’t help but feel that her lecture ran like listening to an actual research paper. I have taken one class within art history, in which I remember learning about this phenomenon, but I still found it hard to follow along between jargon and references to other works she didn’t have in her slideshow. I wish she would have started off by asking for a show of hands on how familiar her audience was on the subject, so she would know preface with a few need-to-know facts.

I thought it was relatable and fun when she compared painters embedded in commissioned work to a wedding photographer including themselves in the bridal party photos. This was a great opener and a refreshing end, and I would encourage her to include more examples of how it’s like modern day “photobombing” throughout.

The lecture was definitely directed towards students majoring in art, but, let’s be honest, there was only a few of us that weren’t in art classes and she was simply speaking to her audience. I’m glad she took questions at the end and was able to clarify on things that students wanted to know. I still managed to take away a few points from my time and I left knowing a little more than when I went in. The free public lecture was held by the Department of Art April 18, in the Dishman Museum auditorium.

A master of none

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Why does it seem that the hardest part of blogging is coming up with something to talk about? I kill so much time reeling through subjects in my mind before tossing them away as uninteresting, old news or something I don’t know enough about. I leave class feeling motivated, with a list of topics I know I need to cover, only to go home and look at my blank document and start rifling through Google suggestions. It’s frustrating because once I get the wheels turning, I can get my opinion out there in no time.

A major factor in having a relevant blog is consistently producing content. I, myself, have a problem producing enough content. I was supposed to have 13 blogs done for my opinion writing class and I’m coming up short and cramming at the end of my semester. If I garnered more from my everyday life, I would be able to come up with something new to write about almost every single day. There are so many chances in which I try a new restaurant, listen to new music, go to events or have an experience that someone else may be able to relate to. All I have to do past that point is put my opinions on that experience into words.

It sounds easy, but as someone who feel that they still have a lot to learn, it’s difficult to put your opinion out for others to follow along with what I say. But truly, no one knows it all, and someone just might know less than me and learn a thing or two from my blog. Throughout the semester this class has given me more confidence in what I write, and as I continue to learn new things, I can now share them with the world.

 

Movie Review: “I, Tonya”

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Margot Robbie is Tonya Harding in I, Tonya.
Photo courtesy of Neon

After being hated for the infamous Olympic incident since 1994, the movie ‘I, Tonya’ unexpectedly makes you rethink your idea of Tonya Harding.

In this movie, Nancy Kerrigan, everyone’s favorite victim of the scandal, can almost be forgotten and instead, Tonya is the actual victim of her circumstances and of others’ selfish bad decision making.

Margot Robbie, the powerhouse lead and producer, gives the audience an emotional connection to Harding’s tumultuous relationships riddled with abuse, jealousy and monetary struggles while trying to make her mark in the elite skating world. I felt for her, especially when running from her mother’s physical and verbal lashings into the arms of yet another abuser. I wanted to shake her and say “You’re better than that!”

Through the drama, the film is still funny. I found myself laughing in the middle of an intense abuse scene, when Tonya breaks the fourth wall with a snarky comment. Many lines are from the real-life people, and of the my favorite parts was when we get to hear them say the iconic quotes at the very end. It reminds you that what happened was real, no matter how ridiculous it sounds.

The movie feels like a documentary in the way it transitions from interviews with each character who explain the scandal from their angle, but also tells the “truth” from the filmmakers point of view.

Robbie, Allison Janney, and Tatiana Riegel have all been recognized with nominations, but I think this film deserves more.

I say, Tonya was cheated out of the gold, again.

 

Balancing Act

Graphic by Hannah LeTulle

Learn life skills to manage life stresses

Since I began college about three and a half years ago, I’ve learned (mostly through trial and error) how delicate the school/work balance can be, especially when one adds in organizations and a social life on the side.

The struggle between taking classes and working to pay for them is something that many students face. More than 70 percent  of students have some sort of job in addition to their classes, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Even students who receive some sort of scholarship need to work to pay for rent, food, or even just a night out with friends.

I’m the type of person who finds it difficult to say no to a job experience. Anytime I’m finally handling with my workload, opportunity knocks at my door and my mind screams, “Think about your resume!” and “Build your portfolio!”

Next thing you know, I am taking on just one more thing. I currently have three jobs and freelance on the side. I’ve been forced into finding a process that keeps me from drowning in responsibilities.

Transitioning my thinking from work to study mode is an important step in finding balance. My priority list constantly shifts from a group project, to writing up a press release for work, to making sure my photos are in for the University Press. I stay on track by writing out a day-by-day schedule of things I need to get done for the week every Sunday afternoon. By doing this, I allot ample time to complete each assignment and give myself deadlines. This helps keep all of the work from building up at once and permits me to focus on the task at hand without another assignment looming in the back of my mind.

One of my better decisions has been finding jobs on campus. These employers are more flexible with student schedules and allow me to work hours here between my classes, instead of full six-hour shifts. Campus bosses are understanding when I need a day off to study for a big exam and my schedule is adjustable each semester as my classes change. Let’s not forget how much time and gas money it saves.

When a job is less flexible, I free up time by taking evening and online classes. Instead of meeting for a 55-minute class three times a week, I meet one afternoon a week for about three hours. With an online class, I can create my own schedule to study, do discussion boards and read, which gives me flexibility for my other obligations.

The most important thing I’ve learned is to be aware of my limitations and to let my boss know them too. There is such a thing as burnout, which feels similar to going 100 miles an hour and then smashing into a brick wall. The best way to avoid it is by making sure I’m not taking on too much. Bosses are always going to have more assignments to hand out, but it is up to us to accept or be aware enough to turn them down. Honesty is typically well received and, let’s face it, work is done much more efficiently and of a  higher quality when one can put time and effort into it.

College is a thrilling roller coaster of stress, but by taking steps to reduce school or work conflicts, one can avoid lots of headache.

Celebrities are people, too

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Justin Timberlake performing at the Super Bowl LII halftime. Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

 

Following Super Bowl LII, I was casually chatting with a family friend and the conversation went something like this. I asked, “What did you think of the halftime performance?” They said, “Well, I’m just glad Justin Timberlake kept it clean and his opinion on politics out of it.” That’s the kind of argument-provoking response where I would rather just smile and nod than go any further.

Why are celebrities expected to keep quiet and entertain? Are they simply jesters whose sole purpose is to distract us from our lives with sports, movies, singing and more? They have the same rights as us all to share their opinion. Admittedly, they have a larger following to influence, but we, too, can plaster our views all over social media for our “following” to see.

The April 14, 1997, cover of TIME
 Cover Credit: FIROOZ ZAHEDI

Had that entertainer never used their platform to shine light on the topic, some may have never even known the issue existed in the first place. Had Ellen Degeneres not used her platform, as our funny sitcom friend we know and love, LGBT acceptance would be wildly different. Had Viola Davis, a respected and award-winning actress and producer, not addressed equal pay for women of color in her speech at the Emmys, the problem would have never been regarded as important.

Celebrities force their audience to at least confront an issue and assess how they feel about a thing. In fact, it is almost cowardice when a celebrity doesn’t use their large platform to promote something they’re passionate about. It is a waste of an opportunity.

Sure, they could take it too far (I’m looking at you, Kathy Griffin) and severely damage their career, but at least they are standing for something. Playing it safe means not wanting to ruffle any feathers and, in turn, not losing any profit and fans.

It is a weird concept to think it’s okay for Beyoncé to openly promote Pepsi, but not the Black Lives Matter movement. Is it different when they are paid? They are still celebrities endorsing an opinion. Yes, soda is much less controversial than civil rights, but does that make the opinion any less valid?

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Beyonce’s BLM tribute

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Beyonce partnered with Pepsi

It is important to note that while we may love an actor, singer, etc., it is still our responsibility to do our own research and take our own stance on a topic. It’s naïve to think that because Kirstie Alley is your favorite “Cheers” cast member, you should blindly trust her when she speaks out against vaccinations. But a discussion with a doctor or a quick Google search could help decipher your own opinion on the subject.

All in all, in a world where our president hosted his own reality show, it’s ironic that we tell our celebrities to be silent on issues that they are passionate about.