Finals Week - Chimes Day By Day

Finals Week - Chimes Day By Day
Zachary Newcott

We now stand at the precipice of Christmas break and in it our freedom from the cold clutches of Biola. Only one thing stands in our way, and that thing is final exam week. Never fear my friend, Day By Day is here with some helpful stress-relieving techniques.

Day One - Yoga Day

There are five basic branches of yoga, and although I don't know what they are and couldn't pronounce them if I did, I do know that any one of them results in a trip to the emergency room with a foot lodged in a very unfortunate location. That said, from the one semester of yoga I took to fulfill a PE credit, I learned that with proper breathing and exercise anyone could make themselves stress free. Except for me, especially when my yoga final exam required me to do a head-stand and resulted in a pulled groin and a black eye for my professor.

Day Two - Violent Video Game Day

If there's one thing I learned from Nature of Math, it's that nothing can take away my pent up frustrations over the book Flat Lands than an extended period of aimlessly running over virtual pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto. Some may say it's sick, and they may very well be correct, but if running over pedestrians is wrong then maybe I don't want to be right. Be sure to dedicate a few hours each night before you hit the books to get that stress out of your system, and if you stay up too late remind yourself that you can always do your reading in the morning.

Day Three - Music Break Day

Nothing can get you in the mood for studying quite like the right tunes to back you up. Blast yourself some Disney Classic Hits Volume Five as you begin to memorize your biblical passages for your New Testament class. Then find yourself surprised the next day to recite Ephesians 1 perfectly as The Colors of the Wind.

Day Four - Late Night Burrito Run Day

Be sure not to let the stress get in the way of your late night studying by taking a quick trip to a local food joint. Although your only options at four in the morning may be various mexican restaurants, remind yourself of the nutritional value to be found in beans. Then rush home as the hot sauce turns your intestines to a single churning ball of cramps.

Day Five - Nap Time Day

On this day get rid of all that stress you've built up from studying all night by taking a quick nap. I find that the best slumbers are often the most unexpected ones. On this day be sure to stare listlessly at your final exam before blacking out and waking up an hour later in a haze of confusion. Yes, you might feel an additional boost in stress levels when the professor announces you have five minutes left, but cherish the rush of adrenaline you'll get as you randomly fill in circles and scribble an essay that for some reason vaguely relates your cat to geology.

Day Five - Beg Your Professor Day

Sure, your stress might have p'wned you good by earning you only a fraction of the possible points on your test, but turn those lemons into sweet bitter lemonade by approaching your professor in tears and explaining that your grandmother died the previous morning. When he reminds you that your grandmother already died earlier that semester, quickly counteract by saying your grandfather also for some reason went by the name of "grandmother" and you don't like to talk about it. Consider yourself covered.

Day Six - Reap the Benefits Day

On this day kick back and relax as you realize that grades aren't everything in this world. Cherish the C's you have worked so hard to earn and remind yourself that even if your parents wouldn't be quite pleased with your grade reports, there's always photoshop to convince them you earned otherwise.


No Strings Attached - Chimes Opinions Article

Christmas With No Strings Attached
Chimes Opinions Article
Zachary Newcott

I believe I was in the third grade when I was looking out the back window of my parents Honda Civic only to see our newly bought Christmas tree slide off the roof and tumble behind us across the highway.

"The tree!" I screamed, followed closely by my mother who just screamed, perhaps not even fully realizing what exactly I was screaming about.

The tree meanwhile spit off pine needles as it rolled.

"Maybe it's still okay," I thought to myself, shortly before it was run over by an eighteen-wheeler.

Stunned, my eyes began to water. It was the only tree in the lot that didn't have a massive bald spot on its side.
That wasn't so much the case anymore.

Its perfectly straight trunk was now separated into five or six smaller splintered trunks, and each of those wasn't in such great shape either.

I slunk down in my seat. My family of six was often crowded into the car, so I had since gotten used to sitting in what we called the "pod," and what everyone else from normal families usually calls the hatchback trunk. My father turned the car around. All the while he was reminded by my mother that we probably should have tied it down a bit tighter, or given up some change to tip the guys to tie it for us.

In retrospect I realize this is all just part of the challenge of the holidays, for which all men must give their own account. In olden days they had to trek out into the mountains and chop themselves a tree with nothing but their bare hands. The times may have changed, but the inconveniences of tree transportation will always be the same.

I'm not sure what I would've done if I were in my father’s shoes in such a situation. Would I have gone back to pick up the shredded pieces of our Christmas decor from the side of the highway? Perhaps, if only to take it back to Home Depot in a desperate and sad attempt to make an exchange.

Somehow we ended up getting a second tree, and this time we double-knotted it. My brother Nick would remember this lesson well when later in high school he would find himself being a tree salesman.

"Remember Nick," My father told him, "Don't ever tie the strings through the windows of the car." Laying his hand on his shoulder, my father continued to wisely note, "If you do, the people won't ever be able to get out."
Nick's eyes widened, and he nodded with the secret of the trade. My father nodded as well, and today I fear it may have been out of personal experience.

Even if the tree makes it home in one piece, there's always the chance it won't make it much longer after that. My father has since gotten into the habit of tying the tree to nails in the wall. This tradition has come to pass after one year in which we glanced through the living room window to see our cat Stimpy clutching the tree where the angel should go. It was a surreal sight for my father and I, to look through the window into our house as “Silent Night” played faintly in the distance, and see Stimpy begin to violently sway the tree back and forth from its peak, as if it were wagging the trunk like its own tail.

My oldest brother Ben takes a different approach. His yearly tradition is to toss the tree onto the top of his car, hop into the drivers seat, and then with one arm outstretched through the window he simply clutches the trunk of the tree with one fist as he drives. No strings attached. This has been his solution to just about anything the man has ever been forced to place on his car roof, including furniture, mattresses, and at one time a home-made raft that he and his friends used to briefly sail down the Potomac river.

I envy that confidence. I myself only bought a Christmas tree once, and from my previous experiences I was so nervous I briefly considered placing it into the car, buckling it in, and driving it home in the front seat.

I was a sophomore in college at the time and decided that the other nine guys I was living with could use a little something to get them into the holiday spirit. In search of something at least a little non-traditional I purchased a few strands of blue Christmas lights to string on the tree.

“Nice Jew lights,” Anthony said to me when I finished setting it up.

“I thought they looked nice,” I said.

By this point Ryan had walked in the front door and stopped immediately once he noticed there was something green in the living room.

“What do you think Ryan?” I asked.

“What is this, Hanukkah?”

Lacking in an angel we settled on topping the tree with a sombrero and then promptly forgot about it. In very little time the withering brown tree in the corner became a staple of the living room. It was something we weren’t even cognizant or aware of until every once in a while an ornament Micah had attempted to make over a month ago would become too heavy for the frail branches and shatter on the ground.

“Did you actually paint these ornaments, Micah?” Ryan would ask concerned while looking at the numerous splotches of paint on the hardwood, “or did you just fill the inside of them with paint and splash it around?”

“Let me put it this way,” Micah replied, “one way was faster.”

It wasn’t until late February that I returned from a trip to New York and was able to fully notice the sad decaying tree collapsed in the corner of the house. Now its sombrero was fully slouched, and below it a dense ring of grey pine needles had formed.

By the time I had carried it out to the gutter the branches were completely bare.

Later, when eight of us were all huddled around the television for a few rounds on the Nintendo 64, Anthony would glance in the corner and say “Something’s different in here. Did somebody move the furniture?”

Clearly, the sun-stained shape of a tree in the corner wasn’t enough for him, but later when he would find his shoes filled with the pine needles I had swept up from under the couch, it would hit him.

I meanwhile returned to my room, hung up the remaining Jew lights, and even though it was February, I thought of Christmas.


Station Master Cat Still At It

Sometimes things look pretty bad in this world, but when they do it's time to sit back and say, "Thank God Station Master Cat is still around to do whatever he does, and to do it in high-larious costumes!"

"I hate my life."

Yes, in case you forgot, like I did, Japan is still putting their Station Master Cat to quality work.

With that said, it's still good to know that Station Master Cat is probably in good hands.

"Back to work Station Master Cat!"

Happy holidays Station Master Cat.


Easy A's

Easy A's
University Link Magazine

Here's a snapshot of my latest spread in ULM. (pick up a copy today!)


Black Friday Year 2

Black Friday Year 2
Chimes Opinion
Zachary Newcott

If there was one thing I wanted to do this Thanksgiving it was to spend money. As a matter of fact, the only services I wanted in exchange for my goods was a line to stand in, an employee to hand my debit card off to, have it swiped, and then be able to say "Thank you good sir!" as I continued to march directly out the exit.

Naturally, I wanted the best deal. So I scanned the newspaper ads that Thursday night only to find that one particular store remained completely unmentioned. Realizing that this unpublicized location would certainly be my best bet for holiday deals, I decided it was time to don my gay apparel (aka: my layers of five jackets) and head out the door.

Luckily for me, it seemed like this was going to be a Black Friday to remember, as I appeared to be the only one in line at Circuit City.

"Haha, suckers!" I laughed confidently, knowing that I was able to be first in line and to top it off only had to arrive six hours beforehand to do so. "Now it's time to play the waiting game!" I yelled, pulling out my lawn chair and proceeding to twiddle my thumbs.

This confidence however did come with a certain amount of suspicion. It seemed strange to me that the Circuit City logo above the building had been completely removed and replaced by a tattered "Halloween Superstore" banner. In addition to this, the employees appeared to be dressed somewhat over-casual in black plastic bags, and I found it disconcerting that they were keeping all of their belongings in shopping carts, smelled like cat food, and were huddled around a trashcan fire.

"Hey kid, did you know the government stole my kidney?" One asked with a crazy eye.

I responded with a hearty laugh. Black Friday lines always involved a certain amount of dark humor, and even though I was in for the deal of a lifetime this line was clearly no exception.

I was disappointed however to find that all the doorbuster shelves were completely empty, except for one that appeared to have a week old dead rat.

It seemed that this year there simply wasn't anything to waste my money on. Depressed, I returned home to learn on Wikipedia that Circuit City went bankrupt long before I had ever arrived. As I hung my head down depressed I knew I must have missed out on an amazing liquidation sale.

The sun was only just rising and I had completely let down the American public and economy by failing to play my part on Black Friday. This was worse than the time I mistakenly waited in line at Kids R Us instead of Toys R Us. I wondered what Sacagawea would say had I been one of the first pilgrims who failed to buy a robotic hamster toy on the day after the first thanksgiving. I couldn't let it happen. I hopped back in the car and made my way to the nearest toy store.

I was at the tail end of the line, but I was in a line nonetheless. As we entered the store together I was in a haze of confusion. I was astounded by the fact that once again, there was nothing I wanted to buy. Then I came across a stuffed animal Koala that reminded me of Beth. Thinking of her I remembered what gifts were supposed to do, let people know that you're thinking of them. It wasn't on sale, and had been sitting on the shelf for what appeared to be months, but as the check out lady asked me if it was worth waiting in line all morning for I was surprised to find myself saying, "Yes."

It really was.