Super Bowl 2017 proves to be anything but boring

I am not an avid football fan. Although I will tune into a game and have spent many a Saturday afternoon sitting on the splintering benches of California Memorial Stadium at the University of California, Berkeley, I was not invested in Super Bowl 2017.

However, The Guardian’s Tom Lutz’s colorful recap of the game was, while not quite as lively as Lady Gaga’s halftime performance, entertaining and enjoyable. Lutz seems to be aware that a basic play by play of any sports match isn’t an exciting read, so he spices it up by taking it upon himself to cast aside his news voice and write honestly.

One can tell that Lutz is passionate about Super Bowl, and it is far more enjoyable to read the thoughts of someone who actually cares about the topic they are reporting on than an attempt to sound enthused by an apathetic person. Lutz’s uses colorful language in his recap, such as when he refers to the Patriots’ victory as “a frenzied, brain-frying climax,” that has more life breathed into it than a simple “the Patriots won in overtime.”

Lutz also displays his skill as a storyteller by reminding readers of the Patriots history throughout the season. Boston’s home team is painted as the underdogs rising to the challenge after Tom Brady, the starting quarterback, spent the first four games of the season on the bench after he was found guilty of deflating footballs in order to give himself and his team the advantage over opponents.

It is an interesting twist to present the Patriots as the underdogs considering that the Atlanta Falcons, the Pats rivals in the Super Bowl, had not been to the Super Bowl in decades prior to Sunday’s match and have yet to win a Super Bowl. On the other hand, the Patriots won the Super Bowl two years ago in 2015. Lutz’s continues to cast the Patriots as the underdogs throughout the piece, citing the Falcons 28-3 lead at the start of the quarter. And, to be fair, Lutz reports that no team has ever come back and won the Super Bowl from as far behind.

Lutz’s piece was entertaining on account of its inclusion of color and the narrative that it crafted, which goes to show that journalists are ultimately storytellers, no matter the subject they are reporting on.

 

If you’d like to read Tom Lutz’s Super Bowl 2017 recap, you can view it at this link: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/05/new-england-patriots-super-bowl-51-champions-atlanta-falcons

Reborn

Kathi George and Julie Crosier are arguably the best looking people in the room. The sisters are dressed in a uniform of knee-high black boots, dark-wash skinny jeans and monogrammed pink jackets. They are dressed to impress, and with good reason; today they will conduct business at Grace Christian School’s annual craft fair.

Shoppers mosey along under the florescent lights of the cafeteria, stopping for baked goods or hotdogs nestled inside slices of white bread, $2.00 apiece. Little old ladies seated behind card tables wait patiently for passers-by to notice their knit caps and woolly mittens. It’s a charming example of small commerce, but nothing special.

The illusion of small-town normality falters. Kathi and Julie are accompanied by one dozen babies. They aren’t actual babies; they are dolls. Dolls with wet mouths, crusty eyes, and runny noses. Dolls with wrists that blue veins climb like ivy. Dolls with palms a fortuneteller could read. Dolls that more than one unsuspecting fair-goer mistakes for living, human children.

Kathi, a 61-year-old teacher at Williamstown Elementary School, and Julie, a 53-year-old fitness instructor and black belt, stand by their creations, which are nestled comfortably in wicker baskets and look as peaceful and still as every new mother desperately wishes her child would be.

Because of their eight year age difference, Kathi and Julie once led fairly separate lives. The blonde, blue-eyed sisters now spend Saturdays poking fun at each other and promoting their joint business, Until Forever Nursery, while vending their reborn dolls at local craft fairs.

Reborns are dolls that precisely, and disturbingly, resemble real babies. They are not your grandmother’s beloved Raggedy Ann. Not Chatty Cathy, the once premier item on your mom’s Christmas list. They aren’t even the American Girl dolls you accessorized. These dolls are another species altogether.

Some people love them. Others consider them creepy. It is easy to see why. A well-made reborn doll uncannily resembles an actual infant. Kathi and Julie once had the cops called on them for endangering children while they strolled with two reborns in the hot sun. Of course, the doll is an inanimate object. Still, objects can take on lives of their own through the illusions that they produce. And reborn dolls are masters of illusion.

Julie tucks a flyaway lock of blonde hair back into her braided halo and lifts Alexander, an adorably ugly little thing with a face like a basset hound. Cradled in his maker’s arms, nestled against her bosom, the doll transmutes into a baby boy. One boy (yes, a real one) sees Alexander and is smitten. The child’s grandmother offers the doll to him. He greets Alexander with a peck on the lips.

A mother creeps from table to table. Her gaze lands upon the dolls, shock contorts her features. For a moment, she seems horrified.

“Is this a…real baby?”

“Oh no! It’s a doll. Would you like to hold her?”

She does not answer immediately, unease wrestling with curiosity. She finally takes Louisa, who is as round and pink as a ripe strawberry, in her arms. A smile erases the tension in her face; she holds Lousia with delicate protectiveness.

“You have to look at this baby!” she calls back to the rest of her family, who have left her behind with the dolls.

“Smell her neck! She even smells like a baby!” a voice interjects.

The forgotten mother gives Louisa a shy sniff and proclaims that the doll, whose neck is scented with baby powder, does indeed smell “like a real baby!”

Kathi smiles at the scene. She and Julie have only been making reborn dolls for seven years, but Kathi is a veteran doll maker. Kathi’s first doll wore its brown, yarn hair in two plates and sported a yellow dress; Kathi made the doll for her daughter, Kira, in 1979. Now 39 years old, Kira still has the little doll with the yarn hair in her possession.

Kathi was drawn to reborn dolls by the challenge of creating something so lifelike. After hours of work, Kathi connected her first reborn’s hyperrealistic head onto its soft torso, bringing her creation to life. She immediately called Julie.

“When she held it in her hands she just looked at me and started to cry. She just said ‘you have to teach me how to do this.’”

The studio that Kathi keeps in the home she shares with her husband, Fred, and dog, Maverick, bursts with dolls that date as far back as the 19th century. It is not for the faint of heart. The eyes of a hundred dolls follow visitors as they peruse Kathi’s collection. You feel as though the dead eyes of the dolls are sizing you up and a

Kathi is at home here. On the first snowy morning of fall, she sits cross-legged on the studio floor, sorting doll clothes and humming Christmas carols. It is not yet Thanksgiving.

Not everyone loves the dolls as Kathi, Julie and their customers do. Elementary school boys dragged along by their parents edge closer to the display of seemingly sleeping dolls, jostling each other and giggling all the way. A chubby boy with a loud voice and stains on his shirt presents a challenge.

“I dare you to touch one of them,” he says.

A friend boldly obliges. He approaches the basket filled with monkey dolls, which are less popular than the reborns, but are quite cute with their hair bows and onesies. With a hesitant hand, the boy strokes a little monkey’s mohair fur. He shrieks. His friends echo him. They vanish from the scene like steam evaporating.

Others fairgoers also recoil. One family is split. The mother nestles a doll in her arms and strokes its ruddy cheek with her finger. The father, who wears a baseball cap and T-shirt, doesn’t make eye contact with it.

“They look too real. You just see them sitting out there and you want to protect them. It bothers me to see them out here all alone,” he says.

He shoots a glance at his son and future daughter-in-law, who keep back, and says “Besides, we’re hoping the kids will give us a real one soon!”

Some customers “adopt,” as Kathi and Julie say, reborns because the doll reminds them of a child they know or have known. Julie specializes in custom dolls, modeled after real children. Parents send Julie pictures of their child. From there, Julie finds a mold that resembles the child. She then makes alterations on the mold until it becomes a doll doppelganger of the child. It takes about 20 hours of work for Kathi or Julie to complete a reborn doll, and even more time to complete a custom.

Most custom dolls are modeled after living children, but Julie also receives order for dolls commemorating children never born or who’ve passed away. One couple reached out to Julie after they’d learned they could not have children together. They wanted a doll that resembled their hypothetical child. The couple sent Julie current pictures of themselves and pictures of themselves as small children. Julie created the doll from the two sets of pictures. Another couple reached out to Julie after they’d lost their child. Their order never went through, but the intention was to store the child’s ashes within the doll.

“We feel very honored to be asked to do that. It touches our hearts and honestly if we can make anyone fell better, if we can bring happiness to people through our dolls, then that’s really what it’s all about,” says Kathi.

Meeting The Guardian

Hello! And thanks for joining me for my first post on my first blog. I’m not exactly sure  how this blog will evolve over the course of its lifetime, but for now let’s talk about The Guardian (US edition) and see if we can figure out what it is trying to accomplish.

I recently started reading The Guardian (US edition) for a journalism class. It is a pretty interesting publication, although I’ve got to admit that this may be a result of the, err, “interesting” political climate the country has been cursed with and journalists have arguably been blessed with these past few months.

The Guardian started off as a UK based newspaper, but success allowed it to expand its reaches to various corners of the globe. The Guardian now operates a UK, US, International and World edition to keep citizens around the globe up to date not only on developments in their own countries, but developments in foreign countries as well.

Although The Guardian US does not have an official mission statement as far as I know (which is making completing my homework assignment rather difficult!) it seems evident that the original incarnation of the publication is dedicated to informing the UK’s public of relevant political, social and economic developments and that the subsequent versions of The Guardian are trying to provide international audiences with the same.