• “Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke – Book Review

    “Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke – Book Review

    “Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke is an atmospheric and intensely detail oriented read. The world laid out within its pages is expertly crafted and incredibly interesting to learn about.

    The book follows a man named Piranesi as he explores his labyrinthian home. Within this labyrinth of a house are infinite rooms filled with halls, statues, and even an ocean. Piranesi joyously does research on something called the Great and Secret Knowledge for a man named The Other who visits him every two weeks. But as Piranesi learns more about the world he inhabits, a mystery reveals itself.

    This book is written in the first person and through journal entries, but unlike many books it doesn’t step into the same pitfalls. Even though it is told solely from Piranesi’s perspective it never leaves a detail undescribed. It is intensely atmospheric and describes everything with a childlike wonder. Susanna Clarke finds ways to describe common items in ways that most would never think of. Some of the descriptions in the beginning will be kind of confusing and use a lot of repetition, but if you take the new details as they come and remember them it will all make sense in the end. It is also quite slow compared to most other fantasy books because it is not very plot driven. It is not a grand epic journey, but is much more character driven. 

    Piranesi is a man who is lost in what it means to be human. He is the only one except the Other who lives in this infinitely large labyrinth and yet he doesn’t wallow, he learns. He writes his journals to keep track of information for himself, but also for the people after him so that they know what this world meant to the people of the past. In this way it is a very fascinating, compelling, and thought provoking study on humanity.

    The enjoyment of this book will definitely depend on the kind of reading you like to do. If you’re looking for a plot driven action packed fantasy adventure this may not be for you, but if you want to read a book full of atmospheric descriptions, an expertly crafted plot, and amazing characters you’ll want to add this one to your shelf.

    Author: Susanna Clarke

    Page Count: 245 Hardcover, 272 Paperback

    Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Mystery

    My Rating: ★★★★

  • “Super Mario RPG” A Worthy Switch Remake of a Beloved Classic

    “Super Mario RPG” A Worthy Switch Remake of a Beloved Classic

    On May 13, 1996, “Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars” saw release on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. While the game was released near the end of the console’s lifecycle, it has garnered a devoted following. Now, on November 17 of this year; a full remake of the game has come out on Nintendo Switch.

    The game introduces a number of updates from the original SNES title while remaining faithful to the established gameplay and story. When the Mushroom Kingdom is invaded by an enemy force known as the Smithy Gang, Mario goes on an adventure with allies both familiar and fresh in order to recover the Seven Stars and restore peace to the land. In addition to Princess Peach, Toad and a reluctant Bowser; fan favorite characters unique to this spinoff join your quest: Mallow, a mage raised by frogs; and Geno, a magic gunman with a powerful finger beam.

    Developer ArtePiazza (a subsidiary of the original game’s partner Square before they merged with Enix) have made the ideal remake for fans of the original to re-experience it and for newcomers to try for the first time. While the original was already an ideal entry point for those new to role-playing games; a new setting known as “Breezy Mode” is perfect for younger players and those who want to enjoy the story with a minimum of fuss. 

    The visual presentation is a smooth and colorful evolution of the pre-rendered graphics from the source material. On top of the soundtrack being rerecorded for modern sound setups, the music from the original Super Nintendo game can be accessed with a simple flip of the switch in the options menu.

    Overall, the Switch version of “Super Mario RPG” is a worthy remake of a beloved Super Nintendo classic. It is highly recommended, and will grant fans’ wishes of all ages on the seven stars.

    “Super Mario RPG” A Worthy Switch Remake of a Beloved Classic

    By Steven Pryor

    Publisher: Nintendo/Square-Enix

    Developer: ArtePiazza

    Platform: Nintendo Switch

    ESRB Rating: E

    My Rating: ★★★★★

  • Wellness Wednesday – Wherever You Go, There You Are

    Wellness Wednesday – Wherever You Go, There You Are

    I read a poignant article about a woman who lost nearly half her body weight but not all her troubles.  She had bariatric surgery, and believed, as her surgeon insisted, that life would be so much easier after she got want she thought she really wanted– a skinny body.  But she found that the insecurities did not fall off with the weight.

    A lot of us are like this.  We think when we get that one problem dealt with, we will finally be happy. 
    Once we have finally attain the right “X”.  Substitute for X:  partner, job, weight, place to live.

    Wherever you go, there you are.  You, with the same imperfections, strengths, and history you had before.  You can run but you can’t hide, and when you get “there”, the common denominator between you and comfort arrives with you. 

    Some years ago, I saw author and Harvard professor Dan Gilbert lecture at Oregon State University about his research on happiness.  You can hear some of his ideas at this Ted talk link.  Think you know what will make you happy?  Dr. Gilbert’s findings suggest you are wrong.  He found that many people overestimate what circumstances will lead them to that golden joy, as well as those that will make them miserable.  The good news:  Most of us are far more resilient than we believe.  75% of us will recover, or at least be OK, two years after something we assume will ruin us.  “We are not the fragile field of flowers we believe ourselves to be,” Gilbert says.  Conversely, we are also not going to be saved by that X factor we think is between us and our ultimate happiness.  People routinely overpredict what will make them happy in the future.  Whether it’s graduation, a new job, new car or new sweetheart, after an initial high we’ll be pretty close to where we were to begin with, happiness wise.

    the constant, changing moon brings me ridiculous joy

    So, what does make us happy?
    Gilbert noted a few things.  Experiences, not stuff bring more lasting pleasure.  We will remember and cherish that trip to a new and beautiful place more than that new piece of bling.  And bling connected to relationship will always be more meaningful than just bling bought, because of the memories brought with it.  People are happiest when they are engagednot passive recipients of objects or experiences.  In one replicated study, people given $20 were divided into two groups.  One was told to spend it on something enjoyable for themselves, and one told to spend it making someone else happy.  Guess which one reported more and longer lasting satisfaction with the experience?

    And it’s frequency, not intensity, that’s the best predictor of overall life satisfaction.  Small and common joys trump far-apart epiphanies. A sense of meaning and community also make a huge difference. For a great overview of happiness research presented in an intriguing and digestible format, watch the wonderful documentary “Happy”.   

    Author Tom Robbins has a quote: “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” I’m not sure about that, but it’s never too late to figure out how to bring more satisfaction to those hours you have left on Earth.  Don’t put it off.

    Jana Svoboda,  LBCC Advising Center

    Image by storyset on Freepik

  • Photojournalism Fall 2023: Back to Nature

    Photojournalism Fall 2023: Back to Nature

    As fall winds down both in the colorful trees and for the term, we look back at how PhotoJ captured the season.

  • Veteran’s Day Parade

    Veteran’s Day Parade

    Scenes from the 72nd Annual Linn County Oregon Veterans Day Parade, November 11, 2023, in Albany, Oregon. Captured by Brenda Autry and Scarlett Walter.

  • This Week in LBCC Athletics: Recapping a Perfect Volleyball Season; Basketball Season Starts Strong

    This Week in LBCC Athletics: Recapping a Perfect Volleyball Season; Basketball Season Starts Strong

    36-0. That’s the final record of Linn-Benton’s volleyball team, who finished their undefeated season with a 3-1 victory over the North Idaho Cardinals in the NWAC Championship game on November 19. 

    The Beaks went on a strong run in the NWAC Elite Eight over the weekend, defeating Skagit Valley 3-0 on Friday and Highline 3-2 on Saturday before their win over the Cardinals on Sunday. 

    Besides their championship victory, the Roadrunners volleyball team amassed several individual accolades last week as well. On November 15, the NWAC All-Region awards were announced for the sport. Five LBCC athletes were honored as well as volleyball head coach Jayme Frazier. Grace Boeder was named the NWAC South’s most valuable player while Maddy Hellem and Brooklyn Willard both made the NWAC South first team. Kinsey Brelage and Meah Carley were named to the second team and third team, respectively, while Frazier was named the Coach of the Year. 

    But the awards didn’t stop there. The LBCC squad received tournament-specific honors as well. Boeder won Tournament MVP while Hellem and Grace Luttrell were named first-team all-tournament. Brelage was named to the second team. 

    The Beaks entered the 2023 season with massive expectations. At the end of the 2022 season, LBCC was riding a 19-game winning streak and their second consecutive NWAC Championship, ending that season with a 34-1 record. 

    But coach Jayme Frazier and the Roadrunners managed to outdo their incredible 2022 in 2023, finishing with a perfect 36-0 record. Now, their multi-season winning streak stands at 55, with three straight NWAC Championship titles. It was an unforgettable season to say the least. 

    First week of basketball in the books

    In addition to LBCC volleyball’s success last week, the school’s two basketball teams added to their win columns as well. On the opening day of the season, both the men’s and women’s teams recorded victories. The men defeated Linfield JV 88-82 while the women defeated Pierce College 62-52

    Both teams took to the court the next day, November 18. The women won once again, defeating Centralia 53-43. However, the men were unable to beat Lower Columbia, the third-ranked team in the NWAC. The Beaks fell to the Red Devils 75-49

    The results of the weekend left the women’s team with a 2-0 record. Freshman forward Natalia McBride currently leads the team with 24 points over that span, while freshman guard BettyAnn Wilson has recorded a team-best 16 rebounds. 

    As for the men, they sit at 1-1. Sophomore forward TJ Zimmermann leads the squad in both points and rebounds over those two games, with 52 and 27, respectively, including a monster 41-point performance against Linfield. Freshman guard Michael Lundy is second on the team with 25 points over that span.  

    Both teams won’t play again until after the week of Thanksgiving. On Tuesday, November 28, the women will take on a University of Oregon club team at 5:30 p.m. while the men will take on Corban JV at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be at the LBCC Activities Center on the Albany Campus. 

    Overall, LBCC teams played in a total of seven games over the last week, going a combined 6-1 over that span, including an NWAC title and 10 individual honors. That’s a great week for LBCC athletics. 

  • Annual Willamette Valley Ornament Hunt

    Annual Willamette Valley Ornament Hunt

    Photo by Willamette Valley

    As winter approaches with its shorter days, grayer skies and colder temperatures, it can be hard to find ways to get outside. Luckily, winter also brings with it one of my favorite annual traditions — ornament hunting!

    Every year the Willamette Valley Visitors Association holds their “Annual Willamette Valley Ornament Hunt.” Rangers and staff from the National Forest Service along with volunteers from the Cascade Volunteers, hit the trails and hide two hundred locally-crafted wooden ornaments for hikers to find. 

    The hunt runs from Nov 17 – Dec 31, with ornaments hidden on 24 trails in both the Willamette and Umpqua National Forests. A full list of trails and links to trail information can be found on the Willamette Valley Visitors Associations website: https://www.willamettevalley.org/ornament.

    The trails vary in length and difficulty, and many are accessible making it easy for anyone to participate in the ornament hunt. I’ve even heard that volunteers sometimes hide the ornaments just past the parking area, so keep your eyes peeled. However, ornaments will never be off trail, so don’t stray from it, and remember to practice leave no trace principles while recreating in the forest. 

    These ornaments are highly coveted among mid-valley hikers, myself included. I’ve searched for several years and have yet to find my treasure. Despite my lack of success, I love being out on the trails searching! I’ve explored a lot of new trails while ornament hunting, and discovered a lot of beautiful places I never would have seen otherwise. 

    So if you’re looking for a fun way to spend a day in the forest, or you just really want one of these unique ornaments, check out the list of trails and get to searching! Happy Hunting!

  • The Commuter: Latest Edition

    The Commuter: Latest Edition

  • LBCC Volleyball – Roadrunners Capture Third Straight NWAC Title

    LBCC Volleyball – Roadrunners Capture Third Straight NWAC Title

    LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Linn-Benton volleyball completed their undefeated season with their third straight NWAC Championship in a win against North Idaho College on Sunday, Nov. 19.

    The Roadrunners finished their season with a perfect 36-0 overall record. North Idaho will finish 32-2 with their only two losses coming against LBCC.

    North Idaho came out ready for the challenge and would take the first set 25-22. After a quick reset, the Beaks rallied and took the next three sets in a row, winning them with scores of 25-16, 25-19, and 25-12, respectively. 

    “We were pretty nervous right at the start, after that first loss, they just gathered themselves up, I said my usual stuff and they decided,” said Roadrunners head coach Jayme Frazier after the game.

    Freshman Brooklyn Willard led the team and set her season high with 19 kills. Sophomore outsider hitter Grace Boeder collected 10 kills, four digs, an ace, and after the game was awarded the Tournament MVP award.

    Freshmen Maddy Hellem and Grace Luttrell received first team all-tournament honors, and freshman Kinsey Brelage was awarded second team honors.

    For more tournament results and stats visit the official NWAC website here.

  • LBCC Volleyball – Beaks Eye Three-peat with Win Over Highline, Advancing to NWAC Championship

    LBCC Volleyball – Beaks Eye Three-peat with Win Over Highline, Advancing to NWAC Championship

    LAKEWOOD, Wash.- Linn-Benton volleyball defeated Highline College in the NWAC Conference Semi-Final on Saturday, Nov. 18. They will now advance to the championship game, where they hope to record their third-straight NWAC title.

    LBCC is now a perfect 35-0 heading into the NWAC championship game. Highline College moved to 30-5 on the season and will now compete for third place. 

    The Roadrunners prevailed in a tough five-set battle, winning the match 3-2. Despite Linn-Benton’s hot start, Highline would take the first set 26-24. In sets two and three, LBCC found their footing and won them back-to-back, with scores of 25-16 and 25-20, respectively. Highline took set four 25-21 to set up a back and forth set five in which Linn-Benton secured their victory, winning 15-10. 

    Linn-Benton’s defense held strong throughout the match as the team acquired 18 total blocks and 74 digs, but it was the Beaks’ relentless offense that made the difference. Four players collected double-digit kills, led by freshman Maddy Hellem, who recorded 13 of her own.

    Linn-Benton volleyball will now move on and look to cap off their undefeated run in the NWAC Championship against the 32-1 North Idaho Cardinals on Sunday, Nov. 19. The match is set to start at 3 p.m. at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington.