All posts by Corey O'Neill

Make Money Cleaning Out Your Closet

 

by Brennah Dallaire

Each year we ditch the old for the new, spending another fortune on the latest trends of the season. With these tips, you can put some money back in your pocket before you run out and buy those new sneakers.

 

Get Motivated

Grab a cup of coffee and turn the music on. The caffeine and good tunes will give you that extra motivation to purge all of the unworn clothing taking up space in your closet, and turn it into extra cash in your wallet. The best way to go about this process is to take an item out, then decide if it is a “keep” or “sell” item. Lay the “keep” items out on your bed and neatly fold the “sell” items, putting them in a garbage bag or reusable tote.

 

Ask Yourself The Important Questions

Deciding if an item is “keep” or “sell” is the hardest part. Here are a few tips to guide you to making a decision.

1. Is it a staple piece, meaning, is it timeless and can you pair it with many different outfits? If the answer is yes, throw it in the “keep” pile. If it is a trendy piece that your not sure is still in style, let it go, it’s a “sell”.

2. When was the last time you wore the item? If you have not worn the item in over a month, consider putting it in the “sell” pile. If it’s been three months or longer, it’s definitely a “sell” item.

3. Take a look at the pile of “sell” items. Make sure they are gently worn. They should have no holes, snags, or stains on them. They shouldn’t be older than a year a half.

 

Set Aside the High Ticket Items

Take a look at the pile of “sell” items one more time. Are there any designer or high end pieces? If so, set those pieces aside. If they are in excellent condition, you may want to put a little more effort in and sell them on a specialty site like Tradesy, Poshmark or Ebay. It is more work to set up an account, write a description and wait for a buyer. But if you get close to what you paid for the item originally, it will definitely be worth it.

 

Find Your Favorite Buy/Sell Service

Plato’s Closet is the easiest place to sell your gently used clothes. To sell, they require a valid photo ID. They take items that are up to 1.5 years old. The store will resell your items for 50-70% of what the item sold for at its original price, and you are given 30-40% of that, said Enfield Plato’s Closet Associate, Laura Kuphal. If the total of your sold items amounts to $40 or more, you will be paid by check. If the total is less than $40 you will be paid in cash, Kuphal said. Plato’s Closet does buy accessories including hats, headbands, belts, necklaces and jewelry (excluding body jewelry). Plato’s Closet excepts authentic designer brands including Coach, Michael Kors and Dooney and Bourke. Specially, trained employees verify that designer bags and accessories are authentic. Plato’s Closet offers a military discount, as well as a stamp card. Each stamp represents a $10 transaction, whether it be for buying or selling. Once you fill your stamp card, you can use the card as a 20% off coupon.

You will see the largest return on those high ticket items that were set aside in the purging process on a specialty site like Tradesy. Tradesy is an online marketplace to buy and sell gently used brand name clothing. The site boasts “Selling on Tradesy is Simple.” After creating an account, you can post the items you would like to sell. Tradesy will even enhance your photos to help them sell. Worried about the stress of shipping your items after they sell? Don’t be. According to tradesy.com, when you make a sale, Tradesy will send you a “pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping kit, complete with beautiful packaging.”  Tradesy will take a 14.9% commission. Access your earnings using PayPal, a debit card or an ACH transfer. Make sure your items are 100% authentic before listing them. If they are not, a buyer can flag the item. If a buyer returns an item they purchased from you, Tradesy will take care of the refund, unless it is because it was not as you described. If your item is not as you described or is not authentic, you as the seller will be charged back for the refund.

 

Cash It In 

Do you need some convincing to spend the time cleaning your closet out and selling your clothes? Shown here is a receipt from my personal transaction at Plato’s Closet. I brought in a small reusable tote full of my gently used clothes I haven’t worn in months. The proof is in the purchase. I purge my closet and sell at Plato’s Closet often, so this haul wasn’t as grand as some. See my receipt. Plato’s Closet offered me $21.90 for my clothes. There was a clearance sale happening in store, and I purchased two Old Navy shirts and an Old Navy skirt from there Summer 2016 inventory for $3.80. I left with $18.10.

 

Straight to Donation

The most important guideline to abide by is that anything you don’t sell at Plato’s Closet goes to donation. Plato’s Closet in South Windsor will take your unsold clothes and donate them for you. Call other locations to confirm they offer a similar service. Don’t put something you don’t wear back in your closet. The goal is minimalism, a decluttered closet and money is your pocket. If it has been over a month and you haven’t sold an item on one of the specialty sites mentioned, try selling the high ticket item at Plato’s Closet.

 

Enjoy Your Cash & Closet

You may have a favorite local thrift store in mind to sell to. That will work as well, but be aware of the commission they take.

Inside tip: Shop your items around. Inventory at used clothing stores are different, and will need different pieces or accessories. If some items don’t sell at one store, bring your haul to another before dropping it off at a donation drop box.

 

Repeat

Consumer Expenditure Surveys from 2013 show the average spending per year of people under 25-years-old is $1513.00 . For a college student, that is a decent chunk of change. The saying “it takes money to make money” is true when you can make money off the clothing you’ve already purchased. Purge items from your closet as soon as you feel it getting cluttered. Try it at the beginning or end of every season.

Snow Day Fun Day

by Brennah Dallaire

A snow day is the ultimate God sent for those of us that are professional procrastinators. My criteria for a “snow day” is as follows: you have power, school is cancelled for the entire day, and you don’t have to go in to your place of employment.

Some see snow as a burden, and in some regards it is. Eventually when the snow stops falling, you will have to leave your cozy home, dress in multiple layers and break your back shoveling that white frozen water that has fallen from the sky. Don’t get too mad about it.

If you keep a positive outlook on your snow day, you will fulfill all your wildest dreams (well maybe some chores). A snow day is an opportunity to break out those cute L.L. Bean duck boots you haven’t taken out of the box yet. You won’t need to hit the gym because shoveling is all the upper body strength training you need. And it’s good to leave the house and get some fresh air, enjoy the cool weather before you are sweating to death in front of the A/C.

There are however several “ingredients” to making your snow day as beneficial as possible. The first and most important ingredient is coffee. If you can’t safely make it to a local coffee shop, I suggest French pressing a nice bold roast. The caffeine is really going to kick your motivation into over drive. The second ingredient is Wi-Fi or smartphone data. Much of the tasks I like to accomplish on a snow day are online. The third ingredient is not a nap. Plan for a 1-2 hour nap around 1p.m. It’s the perfect time because the daylight will keep you from oversleeping. Lastly, the fourth ingredient is pajamas. Wear your pajamas all day.

The possibilities of what you can accomplish on a snow day are never ending. Procrastinators can catch up on the three chapters they are behind in reading for their International Law course. Netflix aficionados can finally give in and start the 13 seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy” their friends have been pressuring them to watch. Start an Instagram account for your cat or dog, their social media presence is very important. Start up an online business. Try affiliate marketing on a blog or if you have a creative talent make an Etsy account.

Snow days were made to allow you the time to clean your house. If you own your own home, try rearranging your furniture or finally clean the grout in your bathroom. If you live with your parents, help them out by doing the dishes or vacuuming the house.

Try cooking a new dish in your free time. Make it more exciting by free styling in the kitchen by cooking without a recipe and using what you have in your fridge.

I hope these ideas inspired you to make the most of your snow day. You can follow CCSU on Twitter to get the latest school closings and delays.

Netflix It: New Girl

by Kayla Murphy

Besides my bias for binge-watching this “adorkable” show, New Girl has become one of the hottest trending comedies throughout the network. Starting back in 2011, New Girl has gained about 10 million viewers over the six seasons.

Kooky school teacher Jess, played by Zooey Deschanel, moves into an apartment in Los Angeles with three men after her boyfriend cheats on her. Her housemates Nick, played by Jake Johnson, Schmidt, played by Max Greenfield, and Winston, played by Lamorne Morris, all must help Jess get out of her break-up slump. Jess’s best friend CeCe, played by Hannah Simone, is also featured throughout the show aiding Jess, while forming a love interest with one of the housemates.

“I love the humor and quirky characters,” says junior theatre major Josh DiOrio, “I really like Zooey Deschanel as an actress.”

Highly recommending this show to others, DiOrio believes that people in general will enjoy this show because each of the characters has a different personality that anyone can connect to. “It’s an easily relatable show,” he says.

Freshman elementary education student, Lyndsy Ignacio, says she really likes the characters and how the characters interact with one another.

“I love their personalities,” she says. “I love Nick Miller, he’s my favorite character on the show. My goal in life is to marry my own Nick, he’s so cute,” she jokes.

Nominated for several Golden Globes and Emmy awards, New Girl combines comedy and dramatic elements that will engage a vast audience. The characters, all in their mid 30s, must figure out how to deal with maturing relationships and different career choices.

One thing that hooks me to the show the most is the different chemistry between all of the characters. Each episode is enjoyable and exciting to see which characters will develop into relationships.

Are you cheering for Nick and Jess to get together? Do you think Schmidt should stop pursuing his admirer? Will Winston ever get a decent girl? With smart writing, this is a show that genuinely makes me laugh. New Girl takes all the awkward moments of one’s life, such as first dates and new jobs, and turns it into irresistible goofiness.

No Netflix? No problem! Tuesdays at 8pm on FOX, one can catch up on all the crazy schemes of New Girl.

2017 BAFTA Awards

by Corey O’Neill

This past Sunday, the 70th annual British Academy Film and Television Art Awards (BAFTA) were held at The Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Stars were shining on the red carpet, and once the show began, “La La Land” had a huge night.

Once again, “La La Land” scored big, taking home the most awards with 5, including Best Film. The film also won for Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Stone), Best Cinematography and Best Original Music. Having the most award nominations for a film with 11, “La La Land” looks to be a big favorite to win Best Picture at this year’s upcoming Oscars. The film also smashed a Golden Globes record, winning every award it was nominated for with 7. All signs point to Oscar wins!

During Stone’s acceptance speech, she touched upon today’s world affairs. “This country – and the US, and the world – seems to be going through a bit of a time, just a bit… In a time that’s so divisive, I think it’s so special we were able to come together tonight thanks to BAFTA, to celebrate the positive gift of creativity and how it can transcend borders, and how it can help people to feel a little less alone.”

Kenneth Lonergan’s film “Manchester by the Sea,” also took home multiple awards, winning for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Casey Affleck). Affleck won this award for his performance as Lee Chandler at the Golden Globes as well.

With Meryl Streep in attendance, Affleck felt he needed to speak to her regarding her Golden Globes speech after the ceremony. “I told her how much her speech at the Golden Globes meant to all of us and how grateful I was that she did it, and kicked in the door a little bit, and said it’s OK to talk about these things and said it doesn’t matter if we are actors, we have been given a microphone and we can speak out.”

Another film which took home multiple awards was Garth Davis’s film “Lion.” “Lion,” which is about an adopted man searching for his family in India, was awarded Best Adapted Screenplay (based on the book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Dev Patel). The 26-year-old Patel described the win as ‘so overwhelming.’

Other notable awards include Viola Davis for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Fences,” Best Editing for “Hacksaw Ridge” (John Gilbert), and Tom Holland, who plays Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was awarded the Rising Star Award.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Awards show, the BAFTAs are essentially the British Oscars. Like the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, the BAFTAs are a strong indicator for who and what will take home Academy Awards, award season’s most coveted prize. The Academy Awards take place on Feb. 26.

Starbuck Secrets: Valentine’s Day Special

by Kayla Murphy

For the next few weeks, the Starbucks franchise will be specializing in its latest flavor trend: molten chocolate.

Fans of the gooey, chocolately desert will love this special. The Molten Chocolate special can be ordered as a latte, frappuccino or hot chocolate.

The latte can be ordered hot or iced. Melted chocolate chips are stirred into espresso, topped with steamed milk and a swirl of mocha sauce completes the drink. The espresso-infused molten latte will have your taste buds begging for more.

The frappuccino is coffee mixed with mocha sauce and chocolate chips. After being blended with milk and ice, the molten chocolate frappuccino is then topped with whipped cream and mocha drizzle.

The hot chocolate combines mocha sauce, melted chocolate chips and steamed milk for a rich, creamy and smooth drink. Don’t forget to ask for the whipped cream and mocha drizzle.

One can buy these chocolate confections at the Starbucks located in the Elihutt Library on the ground floor. For any type of these three molten drinks, it’s $3.25 for a grande.

Gaga for the Lady

 

by Brennah Dallaire

Hundreds of red, white and blue drones filled the sky as Lady Gaga opened the Super Bowl LI Half Time show with “God Bless America.”

The much anticipated performance by the pop superstar, did not disappoint the tens of thousands of fans that filled NRG Stadium in Houston this past Sunday night.

“I’m one of 100 million #SuperBowl fans that just went #Gaga for the Lady, & her message to all of us,” Hillary Clinton tweeted.

Since the announcement of Gaga’s performance at Super Bowl LI in September, there has been speculation of possible political statements and collaboration with singer Beyonce. Although the show featured neither, Gaga surely wowed fans with strong vocals, visuals and one epic mic drop.

This half time show has risen the bar for acts to come. The show began with Lady Gaga singing from the very top ledge of NRG Stadium with the Houston skyline as her back drop. Hundreds of drones shining red, white and blue lights danced around until they formed the American flag, stars, stripes and all. After finishing “God Bless America,” Gaga, who was rigged to cables, dove off the side of the stadium and flew down to a platform below. Fans on the field strategically waved light wands following the rhythms of the music.

Not only did the show feature hits off Gaga’s latest album “Joanne,” it also featured a variety of older well known songs. The set included a cover of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land,” a recitation of part of the “Pledge of Allegiance,” and original songs “Edge of Glory,” “Poker Face,” “Born This Way,” “Telephone,” “Just Dance,” “Million Reasons” and “Bad Romance.”

Fans sighed in relief as there was little political tension at this years Super Bowl Half Time show. However, Gaga did make subtle statements regarding inclusivity and unity in a divided America as she began the night with “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land.” Then continued with an excerpt from the Pledge of Allegiance that read “one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” The pro LGBTQ singer continued with the hit original track “Born This Way” thats lyrics read:

“Don’t be a drag, just be a queen

Whether you’re broke or evergreen

You’re black, white, beige, chola descent

You’re Lebanese, you’re Orient

Whether life’s disabilities

Left you outcast, bullied, or teased

Rejoice and love yourself today

‘Cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi

Lesbian, transgendered life

I’m on the right track baby

I was born to survive

No matter black, white or beige

Chola or orient made

I’m on the right track baby

I was born to be brave.”

One thing we can always expect from Lady Gaga is eccentric outfits, and she delivered. She began the concert with a silver metallic and jeweled long sleeve bodysuit by Designer Donatello Versace, paired with fishnet stockings, matching boots and sparkling eye makeup. She ended the show in silver rhinestone hot pants and white crop top with football-esque shoulder pads.

Overall, this was a relatively safe performance by Lady Gaga. Considering we have seen the performer in outfits made of raw meat, inside an egg, and many edgy performances, this one didn’t seem to have any monster surprises. However, Gaga still delivered with excellent choreographed dance routines, unwavering vocals and an energy that had fans dancing and singing along.

Gaga ended the performance with a shout out to her parents, a mic drop, followed by a football catch as she jumped off a platform. After Sunday night’s performance, Billboard named Lady Gaga a “Legacy Artist.” Fans and other artists took to social media to proclaim Gaga’s performance as one of the greatest half time shows ever.

As if the world didn’t need any more evidence of the performers victory on stage, Lady Gaga now holds five of the top 10 songs on iTunes. She followed up the performance by announcing a world tour for her latest album “Joanne.”

Budweiser Super Bowl Ad Sparks Controversy

by Corey O’Neill

During Super Bowl LI this past Sunday, Budweiser aired a commercial entitled “Born the Hard Way.” The beer company’s advertisement sparked a national response online during and after the big game.

Budweiser, who is known for their intriguing Super Bowl ads, aired the minute-long advert, which appeared to be going after President Donald Trump and his immigration regimen.

The commercial focuses on a German man. He arrives in America to people screaming, “You’re not wanted here, go back home!” After some ups and downs, he later makes his way to a bar in St. Louis. A man at the bar buys him a beer, and introduces himself as Eberhard Anheuser. The German man is revealed to be Adolphus Busch. The advertisement is essentially a greatly dramatized story of Budweiser co-founder Busch’s voyage from Germany to America.

The advert generated controversy almost immediately, with people taking to Twitter, using the then-trending hashtag, “#BoycottBudweiser.” The beer company, which last year temporarily renamed their beer from Budweiser to “America,” announced that the advert was not a shot at the president’s executive order since it had been in the works for nearly a year.

Many Trump supporters on Twitter vowed to never drink Budweiser again.

The timing of the advertising rose some eyebrows, with Trump announcing his executive order very recently, which banned immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries as well as Syrian refuges indefinitely.

Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing at Amheuser-Busch, confirmed there is no connection between the ad and today’s political conditions. “There’s really no correlation with anything else that’s happening in the country,” said Marques.

Budweiser said the commercial was meant to “highlight the ambition of our founder, Adolphus Busch, and his unrelenting pursuit of the American dream.” Even so, many still question the timing of the commercial’s release.

“I drank your product for 30 years and I will no longer drink it,” read one comment on Budweiser’s Facebook page.

Many also critiqued the accuracy of the ad. Author William Knoedelseder, who has written a book about Budweiser, told Slate: “What’s true is, yeah, there was a guy named Adolphus Busch. He did land in New Orleans and come up the river to St Louis, and there was a guy named Eberhard Anheuser that he became partners with. But the rest of it, as far as I know, is just fanciful.”

Budweiser was not the only company who decided to play it safe with their commercials. Airbnb, Audi and Coca-Cola all aired adverts which promoted equality, peace, and could all be taken as shots at the Trump presidency.

This is not the first time Budweiser has been questioned for critiquing American culture. Last May, when the company switched the name of their beer to “America” for the summer, they received criticism, especially for being a Belgium company and not American.

‘Travesties’

 

 

by Brennah Dallaire

Dialogue was what made “Travesties” an excellent play, and dialogue was what made “Travesties” exceptionally boring.

Hole in the Wall theater drew a crowd Saturday night, as the company performed the comedy “Travesties” by Tom Stoppard.

Hole in the Wall theater, located on Main Street in New Britain, is a company dedicated to making quality theater available to the public. They do so with the help of volunteer actors, production team, construction and lighting crews.

“Travesties” was directed by Alex Kirstukas, and produced by Eugene Tellier and Christina Giannelli. The cast included Scott Hoffman as Henry Carr, Matthew Horowitz as Tristan Tzara, George Dagon as James Joyce, Steven Siemiatkoski a Lenin, Luis Marerro as Bennett, Shawna Pelletier as Gwendolyn, Avery Ferro as Cecily, and Lauren Hyne as Nadya.

“Travesties” is set in Switzerland during World War I. During this time, Switzerland was home to three revolutionaries that were unknown until much later. Such revolutionaries include Irish writer James Joyce, most famous for his works “Ulysses” and “The Importance of Being Earnest,” French-Romanian avant-garde artist and co-founder of the Dada art movement Tristan Tzara, and Russian politician Vladimir Lenin.

“Travesties” depicts the senile recollections of meeting these figures by British consular official Henry Carr. Minor characters include Gwendolyn, Carr’s sister and transcriber to James Joyce, Cecily, Carr’s wife and Nadya, Lenin’s wife. In the end, Carr’s wife points out that he in fact never actually met Lenin, but did remember his time working with Joyce.

“Travesties has become ‘a classic’ since its premiere in 1974,” Kirstukas said.

What is important to remember about this play is “the power of the creative arts—how they bring meaning to humanity, how they atlas even the most abysmal political turmoil, and how they help us to do likewise—could hardly be more timely,” Kirstukas said.

The acting was excellent. The play almost solely relied on dialogue between characters. In addition, the monologues were incredibly long, and recognition is due to the actors for memorizing an incredible number of lines. Carr, played by Hoffman, often spoke to the audience directly in long monologues at the beginning of his stories. Scott Hoffman called the character of Henry Carr a “demanding role.”

There were few errors, only three pauses or “umms” made by Ferro and Hyne as they struggled to remember their lines. Both quickly regrouped and finished their monologues. However, during Act I I it was difficult to follow along due to the wordy monologues and thick accents. It wasn’t until the beginning of Act II that a cast member summarized the events, that I was able to fully understood the fine details of the play.

The set was designed to look like the living room of Henry Carr’s home, and occasionally furniture was added to act as a library. The living room walls were a sage green with a front door and a side door. Paintings of countryside landscapes hung on the walls with a cuckoo clock. Chairs and a small coffee table were placed on the right of the stage where many dialogues occurred. A music box, three book shelves and a writing desk sat on the back wall of the stage. Props mostly included books, documents and a tea tray with two cups. The lighting and music were always on cue to signal changes in time. There were many flashbacks and flash forwards to depict the elderly Henry Carr’s storytelling of past events.

Overall, the acting in “Travesties” was phenomenal. I give kudos to the actors for doing the tedious job of memorizing as many monologues as there were. The actors were on cue, the set was well dressed, and the lighting and music was timely. I found the wordiness of the play to be overwhelming, and at times I found myself wondering when certain monologues would end. Unfortunately, today the average attention span is dwindling. I wanted more movement, more visuals to keep my interest. I give this play 3.5 stars out of 5.

As a disclaimer, I would like to say that I am by no means a theater expert. I am simply a person that enjoys venturing out of my usual entertainment comfort zone that includes Netflix, movie theaters and cable television. If you enjoy doing the same, “Travesties” will be at Hole in the Wall Theater through the end of February. You can visit hitw.org to find showtimes and purchase tickets ahead of time.