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Jason Oliva

"What has your college education taught you?" To appreciate a greater dependence on caffeine than my own body will allow. That's the truest thing I've learned in my life as an undergrad writing major. If I were ever given an award and had to express thanks under a blinding heat lamp in front of millions, I wouldn't think of God. At least not at first. No, my saving grace would have to be caffeine (Mom, you come in at a close second). I've noticed that in my own meandering existence I've come to enjoy the things that probably won't get me paid. I like to read everything from Faulkner to Graphic Novels. I've been playing guitar for the last eight years (the last five of which good). One of these days you might see me on the red line, or in the rafters at a Potbelly's. My guilty pleasures are B-rate horror movies, kung fu (preferably dubbed), baseball and all things music. If I were to be any animal in a future life, I would be an owl. (A: because I already have a similar sleep schedule, and B: because owls aren't easily domesticated.) My favorite color is red.

"Old Ironsides" Sets Sail in Boston Harbor

The U.S.S. Constitution sails on own power for second time in 131 years

The U.S.S. Constitution set sail Sunday for the second time in 131 years. “Old Ironsides” left her dock in the Boston Harbor for about 17 minutes on her own power for the second time since 1997, the previous time being in 1881.

The Constitution set sail in the Boston Harbor to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over British warship HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812, a battle which earned the historic warship its nickname “Old Ironsides.”

285 people were aboard the ship that once it reached President Roads in Boston Harbor, was let go by tugboats and free to sail on its own at a speed of 3.1 knots. The ship returned to pier after 2p.m. and reopened for public tours by 4 p.m.

“There were no problems,” said spokesperson Frank Neely. “All in all, it was a very successful sail.”

The sailing of The Constitution was a historic moment in the lives of crewmen enlisted to aid in the excursion.

“I’m extremely honored to be a part of the group that can say they sailed the USS Constitution,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate, Michael Zgoda. “Being able to learn from a variety of genuine chiefs and their different perspectives on leadership is overwhelming and important to the chief petty officer transition.”

In 2015, The Constitution will undergo restoration work in which the vessel will be placed on stilts out of water. 

The Constitution, which is regarded as the world’s oldest commissioned warship, is tugged into the harbor several times a year. Going on 131 years, this will surely not be the last voyage for “Old Ironsides.”

Willie Nelson cancels gig after breathing troubles

One cancelled gig won’t keep Willie away.

Willie Nelson was forced to cancel a fundraiser gig Saturday just outside Denver, Co. when he woke up and had trouble breathing. The country-western singer, 79, was taken to the hospital and released shortly after.

The Mile-High City’s altitude is thought to have caused Nelson’s breathing troubles and a statement from Elaine Shock, Nelson’s representative, reassures the public that “Willie’s fine,” and that Saturday was the only gig that was cancelled. Shock also stated, “He’s actually on the road to the next gig.”

The gig Nelson was forced to skip out on was Lulu’s Barkin’ BBQ, a benefit for the Dumb Friends League, an animal sheltering organization. The gig was held in Castle Pines Village, Co.

Whether or not Nelson was hospitalized for an extended period of time remains blurry, but Nelson is already scheduled to perform at his next show at the House of Blues in Dallas, Texas on Aug. 21.

Though just a minor bump in the road, the 79-year old singer and marijuana legalization activist shows he has no plans of coming down in the Mile-High City.

Filmmaker Tony Scott dies at 68.

Apparent suicide leaves Hollywood stunned.

Tony Scott, director of high octane blockbusters like “Top Gun,” “Man on Fire,” and his most recent film “Unstoppable,” committed suicide Sunday after jumping from a Los Angeles bridge. Scott was 68.

According to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, Scott jumped from the Vincent Thomas Bridge over Los Angeles Harbor at about 12:30 Sunday afternoon. Upon further investigation, a suicide note was found at the Scott residence, though the motives for Scott’s suicide remain unclear.

The younger brother of esteemed Hollywood filmmaker, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and his elder sibling often worked together on projects. The brothers began their own production company called Scott Free Productions and have shared production credits on films such as “Prometheus,” “The Grey” and their latest effort, a TV movie adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book “Killing Lincoln” in the works for next year.

There is no doubt that Scott’s death comes as a shock to Hollywood, as many actors and filmmakers who have worked with Scott in the past have been expressing their condolences via Twitter in the past 24 hours. Among those expressing deep remorse for the Scott family are filmmakers Ron Howard, Jon Favreau, and Denzel Washington, whom Scott worked with on numerous occasions.

Classically seen sporting a worn, red baseball cap, Scott will always be remembered by co-workers as having a driving passion for film, an industry that allowed him opportunities to work with many of Hollywood’s A-list actors, directors and producers.

Scott leaves behind a wife and two twin sons, Max and Frank. The late director will forever be immortalized for his contribution to American cinema and the sheer fun and excitement he brought to millions of movie goers worldwide.

Todd Akin's Foot Meets Mouth

Rep. Todd Akin (R) comments about rape and abortion may help Democrats Senate seat

Rep. Todd Akin (R) is giving Democrats hope of securing a Senate spot in Missouri following his comments regarding abortion and women’s health. The 65-year old Republican was responding to a question on a St. Louis television station about abortion. What followed was the proverbial opening of the mouth to make room for one’s foot.

According to Akin, an opponent to abortion, pregnancies from rape are “really rare,” and “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.”

As if rape victims can perk up, fold their arms, twitch their noses and presto their problems will be solved. Though that might be the solution for “I Dream of Jeannie,” anyone who has taken an elementary anatomy course knows that is simply not the way things work. Sorry Rep. Akin, but it looks as though you may need to sit by yourself for a while and think about what you just said.

The remarks have sparked controversy for the six-term congressman running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) this November, and Akin risks relinquishing Missouri’s Republican seat to Democrats.

Akin acknowledges his skewed beliefs in the wake of an almost immediate backlash from Democrats and women’s groups saying, “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.”

Believing abortion to be a “very emotionally charged issue,” Akin states “I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”

Democrats have been jumping all over the controversy surrounding Rep. Akin’s comments, trying to make Akin the third member of the Romney-Ryan ticket. It is not so much Akin’s words that have caused a stir in the Missouri Senate race as it is the Republican mentality that has fallen under scrutiny.

As a result of Akin’s absurdly disturbing remarks, Democrats are trying to rally around potential pickup votes, declaring Republicans are waging a “war on women” given the party’s  stances on abortion, health insurance, contraception and women’s wages.

The Romney campaign said that they disagree with Akin’s claims and that a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in cases of rape. And with election season bearing down, Republicans are going to have to start choosing their friends wisely.

The "Melk-Man" Spoils

Giants LF Melky Cabrera suspended for season-ending 50 games after violating MLB illegal substance policy

San Francisco Giants slugger Melky Cabrera tested positive for testosterone and will undergo a 50-game suspension, ending the 2012 season for the hot-hitting 28-year old left fielder.

Having been acquired by the Giants this past off-season from the Kansas City Royals, Cabrera has been on a tear. The “Melk-Man” produced a league-leading 159 hits this season with 11 home runs, 60 RBIs and the second highest batting average in the National League at .346. The 2012 All-Star Game MVP, Cabrera was on par for the best season of his career and represented a complimentary run-producer next to Giants catcher Buster Posey.

Neck and neck with N.L. division rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants have lost a valuable player in Cabrera and may be in jeopardy of relinquishing their division lead, and ultimately, bragging rights in California National League baseball.

Another substance abuse travesty smearing the reputation of America’s pastime, Cabrera made a statement via the major league players’ association expressing his regret:

“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down.”

A fan favorite this season, Cabrera has inadvertently spawned the “Melk-Maids,” a following of Giants fans enthralled by their 2012 season pickup from Kansas City.

Cabrera will now miss the remainder of the season while serving his suspension and can kiss his contention for MVP goodbye.

If anyone can make a group of grown men cry, the “Melk-Man” can.

Bumbo Causes Boo-Boos

South African retailer recalls 4 million Baby Seats products after infant injury rate increases.

Bumbo Baby Seats, miniature chairs of various colors designed specifically for  infants, is facing a recall of nearly 4 million products after receiving more than 50 reports that the seats have played a part in the injuries of many children.

Rising up about two feet from the ground, Bumbo Baby Seats are meant to hold infants in place with deep, angular grooves in the chair, however, many infants have wiggled their ways out of the colorful baby seats and tumbled over causing several skull fractures among some with bruises and lumps among others.

The South African-based company of Bumbo Baby Seats upon recalling millions of its own products said it would provide product owners with a safety belt to harness children in place and prevent future tumbles.

Priced between $30-$50, Bumbo Baby Seats, have been sold everywhere infant toys and accessories can be purchased, from Sears to Target, to Babies R Us and Toys R Us. But now the baby seats are facing a major recall and a potential decline in consumer spending.

This is not the first instance Bumbo has faced a recall for their Baby Seat. In 2007, Bumbo recalled 1 million seats to add a warning label informing people of the risks elevated seats pose on tables and countertops.

The solution for Bumbo is simple: send everyone who has a Bumbo Baby Seat a restraint belt kit that can be found by visiting www.recall.BumboUSA.com, or by calling (866)898-4999.

"Welcome Back, Kotter" actor, Ron Palillo, dies at 63.

T.V. geek Arnold Horshack, played by Palillo, suffers heart attack in Florida home.

“Welcome Back, Kotter” cast member, Ron Palillo, died Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The actor was 63 and was best known as high school geek Arnold Horshack on the 1975 ABC sitcom.

According to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Palillo suffered a heart attack at his home at 4 a.m. before he was rushed into emergency care and pronounced dead.

Though “Welcome Back, Kotter” only lasted four seasons, Palillo’s character, Horshack, had become widely known for his nerdy antics and was one of the most identifiable and likeable characters on the show.

Arnold Horshack paved the way for other television nerds like Screech from “Saved by the Bell” and Steve Urkel from “Family Matters,” and even squared up against Screech actor Dustin Diamond in an episode of the 2002 reality show “Celebrity Boxing.” The geek fight only lasted one minute and twenty-three seconds and Palillo left the match looking like a raccoon with a pair of black eyes. Needless to say, Screech won that bout.

Although Palillo’s career peaked by the time “Kotter” ended, that did not stop him from pursuing acting in a number of cameo appearances and several D-List movies.

Having attended the University of Connecticut  and earning a few Shakespearean parts before landing the gig as Arnold Horshack, Palillo even taught acting at the G-Star School of the Arts high school at his residence in Palm Beach long after his “Kotter” tenure ended.

Palillo leaves behind two brothers, a sister and his partner of 41 years, Joseph Gramm.

West Nile Virus cases surface in Chicagoland

A surge of numerous West Nile-infected mosquitos have been found in Chicago suburbs this summer.

West Nile Virus cases have been sprouting up all over the Chicagoland area this summer with mosquitoes carrying the virus having been found in Downers Grove, Bolingbrook and Naperville, to name a few.

On Tuesday, the DuPage County Health Department reported a human case of West Nile Virus found in woman, 50s, from Downers Grove. Because of her age, the woman has a higher risk of contracting West Nile and developing serious illness from the virus.

With all cases of virus-carrying mosquitoes popping up in Bolingbrook, three since June 20, it is a surprise not more people have been infected with West Nile.

West Nile Virus spreads when mosquitoes bite a bird that is infected with the virus, reproduce and then bite humans. Those in greater danger of contracting the virus do not use insect repellant or have free-standing water outside their homes. Plants with water-filled pots or vases and kiddie pools provide mosquitoes with damp breeding grounds to spread West Nile and precautions must be taken to remain disease-free this summer.

Ways to prevent potential West Nile infection are wearing long sleeves during dusk and dawn, using bug spray when engaging in outdoor activities, and making sure one’s window and door screens are intact, that is, if your home is lacking in air conditioning. 

Although symptoms vary for individuals, ranging from moderate headaches and fever to potential paralysis of the nervous system and even comas, West Nile Virus is treatable once the proper medical is sought immediately when symptoms arise.

Rest assured, West Nile Virus is not transmittable via human-to-human contact. The only method of contracting the virus is if an individual becomes bitten by a mosquito carrying the disease.

So when outdoors enjoying the last throws of summer, make sure you take the necessary precautions to ensure this summer is safe and virus-free.

The DREAM Act: Liberty and Education for Most

Through educational pursuit, 1.7 million undocumented immigrants are given the chance at American citizenship.

The DREAM Act, which will provide immigrants ages 15 to 31 with temporary residency in the United States without fear of deportation, has many immigrant parents looking out for the future of their children.

An acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, the DREAM Act comes with a checklist of conditions that would determine a candidate’s eligibility for qualifying for the 2001 Senate-proposed bill.

First and foremost, the candidates applying must have proof of arriving in the U.S. before the age of 16. Along with that, candidates must also have proof of their residence in the U.S. at least five years since the date of their arrival and be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of the DREAM Act’s enactment. A mouthful, but these are just the preliminaries.

In order for candidates to qualify under the DREAM Act, they must have graduated from an American high school, obtained a GED or been admitted to a college or university. And if that is not enough, the candidates in question must also have kept their noses clean and have what the bill refers to as a “good moral character.” That means no felonies or misdemeanors on the individual’s record will be tolerated when under consideration for DREAM Act aid.

Other requirements include two years U.S. military service, or two years at a 4-year institution of collegiate-level learning. If the candidate has met these requirements then he/she can obtain temporary residency for a 6-year period, within which candidates can qualify for permanent U.S. residency, that is, if they have acquired an American college degree or have served two years military service and received an honorable discharge.

Though there are a multitude of specifications to be met under the DREAM Act, many immigrants see the bill’s passing as a defining moment for their children’s future and have been scrambling for the necessary paperwork. Documents such as tax receipts, bank records and religious records can provide proof of U.S. residency for immigrants trying to qualify and receive aid.

So far, parent determination has been unwavering.

Beginning Tuesday night at 11pm, hundreds of people lined up for the DREAM Act’s relief program at Navy Pier even though the program’s first workshop did not begin until 9am Wednesday. Nearly 5,000 people have signed up for the workshop which aims to assist candidates in filling out the proper applications and provide information regarding the program that affects 7,500 Illinois residents. Parents and children waited with a concert ticket-like dedication with hopes for their children’s success in admission to the program.

America, the land of opportunity. It has been the age-old ideal of our fair nation since the Puritan exodus to escape persecution for their religious beliefs. And then, of course, there was Independence, which allowed this idea of “America the free” to truly blossom.

The DREAM Act reinforces these very American beliefs by giving everyone an equal opportunity to live, learn and succeed. In this economy where finding a job is as tiring as treading deep water, an education serves as the lifesaver keeping many afloat. After all, we are all immigrants in one way or another. We should all have a fair chance.

Ochocinco, Mucho Problemo

Chad Ochocinco arrested on domestic violence charges against wife Evelyn Lozada.

Chad Ochocinco (formerly, Chad Johnson) has found himself in the news once again, but this time it is not for the flashy showboating NFL fans have grown accustomed to. No, this time the Miami Dolphins wide receiver has fallen into the hands of the law after allegedly headbutting his wife, Evelyn Lozada, following a domestic dispute at their Florida home.

According to the Davie, Florida Police Department, the dispute between husband and wife occurred August 11, 2012, after Lozada found a receipt for condoms in the trunk of Ochocinco’s car. The ensuing confrontation, which took place in front of the couple’s home, resulted in a laceration on Lozada’s head and the arrest of Ochocinco, who was held on a $2,500 bail.

The couple was married on July 4th, 2012, a date chosen by Ochocinco so he would always remember the two’s anniversary, and had Vh1 reality show in the works entitled “Ev & Ocho” slated for a September 3, 2012 premiere.

Lozada, of Vh1 reality show “Basketball Wives” fame, has dated a troublemaker athlete in the past, in her former husband Antoine Walker who was arrested for a DUI in 2009 and three felony counts of writing bad checks in the same year. But now perhaps she has seen the error in her ways, filing charges against her recently-wed spouse following the domestic dispute.

As a result of the charges against Ochocinco, Vh1 has pulled the show from airing and his new team, the Miami Dolphins, have released the wide reciever as well. If convicted of a misdeamenor domestic violence charge, Ochocinco can face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.