Rapper MF DOOM Pronounced Dead at Age 49

By: Malachi Williamson

Recently, the well respected rapper Daniel Dumile, mainly known by his masked persona, MF DOOM, has passed away. His wife, Jasmine Dumile, told the public through various social media posts. Jasmine released this statement on DOOM’s instagram:

“The greatest husband, father, teacher, student, business partner, lover and friend I could ever ask for. Thank you for all the things you have shown, taught and given to me, our children and our family. Thank you for teaching me how to forgive beings and give another chance, not to be so quick to judge and write off. Thank you for showing how not to be afraid to love and be the best person I could ever be. My world will never be the same without you. Words will never express what you and Malachi mean to me, I love both and adore you always. May THE ALL continue to bless you, our family and the planet.”

The news was released December 31, 2020, two months after DOOM died on October 31, 2020, giving his wife and family time to grieve. No cause of death has been stated. 

MF DOOM was born in London in 1971. He and his family moved to Long Island, New York when he was a kid, and he started performing and producing hip hop as a teenager under the stage name Zev Love X. He and his younger brother Dingilizwe, known as DJ Subroc, formed the group KMD and put out a critically acclaimed debut album, Mr. Hood, in 1991. Their second album was set to release in 1993, but DOOM’s brother died after being hit by a car. Five years later the rapper re-emerged as MF DOOM, wearing a mask modeled after the Marvel villain Dr. Doom.

DOOM spent his whole career wearing his signature mask. This was due to him wanting to place an emphasis on what he sounded like in his music versus what he looked like, as he stated in an Red Bull interview. He also said, “the mask really represents to rebel against trying to sell the product as a human being,” referring to corporate companies giving their artists “gimmicks” to start selling music. DOOM or any of his alter egos didn’t really get personal in his music so as to not lead back to him as a person, making him a lowkey presence in the industry and leaving nothing connected to his name. He worked on his personas alone and built the image of being the “Supervillain” of rap.

MF DOOM’s most acclaimed albums are Operation: Doomsday, where he talks about his return to the rap scene after KMD disbanded. The album Mm..Food talks about a plethora of topics such as backstabbing friends, bad rappers, and women all incorporated with food bars; Madvillainy is about DOOM being the “illest villain” accompanied by Madlib production. He is praised for his lyrical prowess, off kilter flows, and complex rhyme schemes displayed in these albums. His influence spreads far and wide in the rap industry, most notably in rappers such as Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Joey Bada$$. 

Many artists and celebrities have expressed their condolences across social media, like Aminé and Adult Swim who tweeted out “RIP MF DOOM,” Tyler, The Creator tweeting “safe travels villain,” and Q-Tip tweeting “RIP to another Giant your favorite MC’s MC .. MF DOOM!! Crushing news…”.

Sources: https://medium.com/@bradleydlambert/understanding-mf-doom-the-best-mc-with-no-chain-ya-ever-heard-2a05c713df1d

Acing Her Way to Furman

By: Regan Sumy

Ava Augustson, a senior at Cary this year, has recently launched her volleyball career. She is the captain of the varsity team this year and was awarded “Player of the Match” four times this season and “Player of the Season” last year (2019 season), and she was even named “Athlete of the Week” by the News & Observer. Ava has decided to continue her volleyball career as a Paladin at Furman University. 

When did you begin playing volleyball?

Ava states, “I started playing volleyball when I was probably 9, but I started playing at the national level when I was in 8th grade.” 

What is your favorite aspect of playing the game?

As most athletes feel, they love the entirety of the game, but Ava specifically feels like her “favorite aspect of playing volleyball is the feeling of getting a kill/block or even a perfect pass in a super important tight match, and turning around from the net for all of my teammates to be screaming and cheering.”

What is your fondest memory of playing volleyball at Cary?

Ava says that her favorite memory while playing volleyball at Cary was during her “sophomore year when we almost took a set from Green Hope (who are now a 5-time state championship team) even though we lost- it’s always such a fun match when it’s super close.” A big part of Ava’s morals that make her a great player is that win or lose, she continues to show leadership and radiates positivity. 


Did playing club volleyball outside of school increase your passion and motivation towards the game? 

Ava is currently playing at the popular NC volleyball club, North Carolina Volleyball Academy, which she has been playing on the top national team for 3 years. She says that her experiences playing club have “absolutely motivated me to want to play at the next level in college. I wouldn’t be half the player I am without the coaching and support from my teammates, who are now my best friends if I hadn’t played club.”

Who are the people that have helped you progress the most?

Just like amazing teachers in the classroom, volleyball is taught by amazing coaches. Without teachers and coaches, it would be harder to learn new skills. The people who are playing with you also play a big role in your development. Ava takes consideration into how important her coaches have been in her volleyball career so far as she states, “I think the most influential people in my volleyball career have been my amazing coaches, Coach Goodloe and my club coach, Jon Garner, who have taught me everything I know about the sport. Also, my teammates are important because they are who I look up to, simply for their drive and work ethic, which have influenced me a ton.” 

What are some motives of why you chose to sign with Furman?

Ava explains that she “decided to choose Furman not only because the campus and location are so beautiful, but [she] fell in love with the culture and team when I took my official visit. [She] automatically felt super comfortable with all the girls and the coaching staff. It also doesn’t hurt that the education is great.” 

Were there any other schools or places you were interested in attending?

As most high schoolers have experienced or will in the future, choosing your college (or after-high school plan) is not an easy task. Whatever you choose to do tomorrow will forever affect the rest of your life. Ava tells us that “when I began my recruiting process I had in mind that I wanted to travel far from home to try and live in a new state, so I was looking at a lot of schools in Florida, New York, New Jersey, and California. But as I progressed in my process and I began going on official visits and meeting the teams and coaches, I realized other factors need to impact my decision besides location- such as the coach, team, and honestly the value of the scholarship you are getting for the education the school has.”

What do you plan to do once you are at Furman?

Starting to begin a new chapter of her life and volleyball career, Ava has had to do some serious thinking about what she wants to do after college. She states, “I’ve struggled with figuring out what I want my major to be, but I am now leaning more towards the medical and science field. Therefore, I will most likely major in Biology or Health Science so I have a good amount of career options to choose from after I graduate.” 

**A big thanks to Ava for interviewing with me, and best of luck on your journey! Feel free to continue with her journey with her by following her Instagram account, @avaaugustson! Congratulations and go Paladins!

Recipes to Try this Holiday Season

By: Celia Pope

All of us have picked up some new hobbies this year, whether that would be drawing, sewing, or an instrument like guitar. If you are like me, you probably picked up cooking or baking during all of the free time you’ve had, and this time of year is the perfect time to put those new skills to use with these delicious holiday recipes.     

VANILLA ROLL CAKE: 

(http://atreatsaffair.com/christmas-vanilla-roll-cake-recipe/)

This dessert is very similar to the French dessert called bûche de Noël, which you will be able to see through the taste of buttercream, vanilla and sweet glaze!

Ingredients:

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

-2 eggs

-3 egg yolks

-1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1/3 cup (30 grams) sifted cake flour

-3 tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch

-1/4 cup red & green Wilton batter bits or edible confetti

-2 egg whites

-1 tablespoon sugar

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM

-1 cup butter, room temperature

-3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar

-3-4 tbsp red & green sprinkles

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1-3 teaspoons heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 450F.
  2. Line a 17X12 jelly/sheet pan with parchment paper . Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl add the 2 eggs, 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar. With the paddle attachment on, beat on medium to high speed around 5 minutes until pale in color and thickened. Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few more seconds.
  4. Sift the flour and the cornstarch over the egg yolks mixture and with a spatula gently fold it in.
  5. Fold in the batter bits as well.
  6. In a separate grease-free bowl, add the 2 egg whites and 1 tablespoon of sugar. With a whisk, whip until firm peaks form.
  7. With the spatula, fold the whipped egg whites into the egg yolks mixture.
  8. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, spread it evenly and bake for 6-7 minutes until golden brown and, when touched, it springs back.
  9. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven sprinkle with powdered sugar and then invert the cake onto a clean dish towel. Remove the parchment paper, sprinkle with more powder sugar, and roll up the cake with the towel. Place on a wire rack to cool.

(BUTTERCREAM INSTRUCTIONS)

  1.  In a clean bowl add the butter. With the whisk attached to the mixer, whip the butter for 2-3 minutes on medium to high speed.
  2. Lower the speed and slowly add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
  3. When all the sugar is incorporated increase the speed and whip for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add a few drops of heavy cream until it reaches the consistency you desire.
  5. With a spatula, fold in the sprinkles.
  6. Gently unroll the cake and spread the buttercream evenly all over it.
  7. Roll it again and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  8. To decorate, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or microwave and pour it over the cake. Add more sprinkles (optional)
  9. Let the chocolate settle for few minutes and slice the cake

SNOWMAN CAKE POPS:

(https://tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/snowman-cake-pops/)

Ingredients:

CAKE:

-1-¼ cup All-purpose Flour

-1 teaspoon Baking Powder

-1 teaspoon Baking Soda

-½ teaspoons Salt

-2 whole Large Eggs, Room Temperature

-1 cup Granulated Sugar

-½ cups Canola Oil

-2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

-½ cups Buttermilk, Room Temperature

-2 sticks Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature

-2 cups Powdered Sugar

-2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream

COATING AND DECORATION:

-1 bag (1 Lb. Size) White Candy Melts

-½ bags (1 Lb. Size) Red Candy Melts

-5 pieces Black Candy Melts

-3 pieces Orange Candy Melts

-20 lollipop Sticks

Instructions:

  1. To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and half of the vanilla, mix until just blended. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a greased rack. Let it cool completely.
  5. To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add the remaining half of the vanilla and heavy cream, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy.
  6. To assemble cake pops, prepare two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  7. Break the cooled cake into a few big chunks by hand, place them into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until the big pieces turn into crumbs. Add frosting gradually into the cake crumbs and blend until the mixture becomes a dough. You’ll use about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of frosting.
  8. Scoop dough into 10 to 20 teaspoon-sized balls for the heads, and 10 to 20 tablespoon-sized balls for the bodies. Place them on the prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the small cake balls from the refrigerator. Gradually melt the white candy melts in the microwave, heating in 10 second intervals and stirring in-between. Dip one end of a lollipop stick in the candy melts and insert all the way through a small cake ball, leaving about one centimetre of the stick at the bottom. Repeat with all the small cake balls. Set aside for 30 seconds.
  10. Remove the large cake balls from the refrigerator. Dip each small cake ball in the white candy melts and gently tap off excess. Carefully but quickly insert the end of the stick into a large cake ball. Secure the head and body part and let it stand for 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining cake balls.
  11. Dip each snowman body in the white candy melts and gently tap off excess. Place cake pop onto a piece of parchment paper. Let it dry completely.
  12. Place the red candy melts in a microwavable Ziploc bag. Microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds to completely melt the candy melts. Push the melted candy toward one corner of the bag. With a pair of scissors, snip off a very small opening, and start piping the hat and scarf on each snowman cake pop.
  13. Repeat with the black candy melts for the eyes, mouths and buttons. Repeat with the orange candy melts for noses.

PEPPERMINT MOCHA CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES:

(https://bakerbynature.com/peppermint-mocha-chocolate-cupcakes/)

:

CUPCAKES:

Ingredients:

-3 tablespoons coconut oil OR canola oil

-1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

-3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

-3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-1 teaspoon baking powder

-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

-1 cup granulated sugar

-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

-1/2 cup full fat sour cream

-1/2 cup hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees (F). Line a 12-cup cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake liners and lightly spray the liners with non-stick spray (optional but it does help them peel right off). Set aside.
  2. In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the oil, butter, and chocolate in the microwave, heating in 30 second increments, and stirring in between each increment, until completely melted. Whisk mixture until completely smooth and set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt; stir together until thoroughly combined and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, yolk, sugar and peppermint extract; beat until smooth.
  5. Add the cooled oil/butter/chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the sour cream. Repeat the process until everything is added, and be sure to mix until JUST combined. Quickly stir in the hot coffee – it’s important not to over mix, here! Just stir until everything is evenly combined.
  6. Fill the prepared cupcake liners so that each mold is 3/4 of the way full (you’ll have some leftover batter). Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

FROSTING:

Ingredients:

-3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

-3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

-1 stick unsalted butter, very soft

-2 tablespoons sour cream

-3 to 4 tablespoons half and half (you can find this in the dairy aisle near the heavy cream)

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

For the Chocolate Drizzle:

-4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

-1 teaspoons vanilla extract

-1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Instructions:

  1. Sift together the confectioners sugar and cocoa powder, whisking well to ensure it’s bump and lump free!
  2. Using a handheld mixer OR a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy; about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder, alternating with the sour cream and half and half, then add the peppermint extract and salt. Once all of the ingredients have been added, increase speed to medium-high and beat the frosting until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Frost cooled cupcakes and top with chocolate drizzle and crushed candy canes.
  4. Place chocolate in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl; set aside.
  5. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the heavy cream until very hot, but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and set it aside for 2-3 minutes. Whisk the cream and chocolate completely smooth; whisk in vanilla. Allow the chocolate to cool for about 5 minutes before spooning the on the top of each frosted cupcake. Sprinkle the wet chocolate with crushed candy canes.

I hope you are able to bring smiles to someones face with these desserts, whether it be from a neighbor, friend, or family member. Have fun and happy holidays!

Nutcracker Performances Cancelled This Year? Here’s How You Can Still Watch the Ballet at Home

By: Ruby Schweitzer

With dance classes having to reduce their sizes or go online to prevent the spread of COVID, many ballet companies have had to forego their Nutcracker usual performances for live audiences. If you’d still like to keep up your yearly winter tradition and watch a Nutcracker performance from home, there are a number of options available that vary in cost and accessibility. 

Watch Carolina Ballet’s performance live on WRAL

Carolina Ballet puts a lot of effort into making their dances unique, while still sticking to the traditional story. Their Act I is especially entertaining, with multiple magic tricks involving dancers that seem to float in midair with no strings attached and climb out of suitcases and presents after being flattened into pieces of paper. Act II shines with its Tea dancers that jump over each others’ heads and Candy Cane dancers that spin in the air with hoops. If you’re looking for a performance that will keep a younger audience entertained while still serving beautiful choreography, tune into WRAL on Christmas day at 7pm for the exclusive TV showing, and get the chance to support a local ballet company.

Pay for an online performance 

If you’ve always wanted to watch a specific ballet company’s performance of the Nutcracker, but never happened to be traveling in their state during winter break, you’re in luck this year. New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and many other famous ballet companies are streaming their performances online this year. The Hip Hop Nutcracker, which is a fun reimagining of The Nutcracker with contemporary choreography and costumes, is also online this year. Most companies are charging $25-$50 to gain access to the stream, but since you can watch with your whole family and don’t have to pay for multiple tickets like you would in person, it’s much cheaper than a normal show would cost. 

Watch your favorite dances on YouTube

The Nutcracker may be an acclaimed ballet, but there are still some parts that can drag, especially if you’ve watched them dozens of times before. If you don’t feel like sitting through a whole performance this year, you can find your favorite scenes on YouTube. The Moscow Ballet and Royal Opera House Ballet channels are both very thorough in posting clips of their dances online. For those who are watching The Nutcracker more out of an appreciation for the choreography than for entertainment, this can be a fun way to compare how different companies change up the dances and what different performers can bring to a role.

Watch the narrated 1993 New York City Ballet Nutcracker for free

The 1993 New York City Ballet Nutcracker, starring Macaulay Culkin, is available on Amazon Prime for free as long as you have an Amazon account. This version was produced to be watched like a movie, so it has much closer camera angles than a typical ballet recording and can put more emphasis on the facial expressions of the performers. It also includes narration in some parts, which makes it a good introduction to the ballet for younger audiences, who may have a hard time following the story otherwise.

Watch a movie inspired by The Nutcracker


Instead of watching the actual ballet, you could also watch a movie inspired by The Nutcracker. Barbie in The Nutcracker and Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms are two of the most popular movies based on the ballet. Neither received particularly good reviews, but they could still be fun for a family movie night. The Four Realms features Misty Copeland and a more diverse cast than typical performances, and Barbie has a nostalgia factor for teenagers and young adults who may have watched it in the early 2000s when it came out. Both movies place less emphasis on the actual dancing, and more on their own variations of The Nutcracker’s story.

Looking for a Holiday Beverage This Season? Here Are Some Places to Look

By: Lelani Williamson

With Christmas right around the corner, I’m sure everyone is looking for a place they can fulfill their taste for a nice holiday beverage. Here’s a list of places with locations all around that have a variety of different beverages for the holiday season. 

Starbucks

During the holiday season, Starbucks always releases many great drinks to the public. They have numerous locations in Cary, Raleigh, Apex, and Morrisville that are easily accessible if you’re in a rush or have plenty of time. This year, they have a variety of sweet chocolate and peppermint coffees and hot chocolates for you, including: 

-Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

-Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino

-Toasted White Chocolate Hot Chocolate

-Peppermint White Hot Chocolate

-Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin Donuts, another place with locations all around that’s quick and efficient, has released multiple holiday coffee flavors for a limited time during this holiday season, including: 

-Signature Peppermint Mocha Latte

-Signature Gingerbread Iced Latte

Chick-fil-A

Great milkshakes are on Chick-fil-A’s menu year round, but during this holiday season, they have made a special milkshake to help you get into the holiday spirit.

-Peppermint Milkshake

Sheetz

Gas station Sheetz has made a few drinks for the public that have holiday flavors. They have a variety of different beverages that can fulfill any craving you are having, such as:

-Son of a Blitzen Frozen Hot Chocolate

-FaLaLaLaLattee Hot Latte

-Pink Bunny Suit

BurgerFi

BurgerFi, known for their great burgers and shakes, has made a milkshake flavor for this holiday season. It is limited time only and will not disappoint.

-Candy Cane Bark Milkshake

Cookout

Cookout, a fast food joint with locations all over and known for their amazing milkshakes, released a milkshake just for the eggnog lovers this holiday season. 

-Eggnog Milkshake

Bruster’s

Ice cream shop Bruster’s with locations in Apex, Raleigh, and Durham has come out with a variety of holiday milkshakes for everyone. They all have different tastes and ingredients such as eggnog, gingerbread, peppermint, and Oreo.

-Eggnog Milkshake

-Gingerbread Milkshake

-Peppermint Stick Milkshake 

-Peppermint Oreo Milkshake

Rating Bath & Body Works Holiday Scents

By: Kiera Kofkin-Hansen

It’s that time of year again when the stores stock their shelves with all things holly and jolly, and there are peppermints mochas brewing at every coffee shop. One of the biggest culprits of creating festive knick knacks for all of our five senses is the infamous Bath & Body Works. In order to ease what I’m sure is a huge stress in your life, I’m rating five of their holiday scents on a scale from 0 to 10! 

  1. The first scent is one of this franchise’s more well-known ones: Vanilla Bean Noel. Awfully similar to the year-long Warm Vanilla Sugar, it possesses a classically sweet smell. Vanilla Bean Noel, or VBN for short, is rather bland compared to some other scents but smells exactly how you’d expect it to taste, igniting two of the more commonly sharp senses. Overall, VBN gets a 7/10.
  1. Next up we have another classic christmas scent, Crushed Candy Cane. Crushed Candy Cane is a particularly effective scent for those who don’t like overly strong ones but still crave a little bit of holiday flare. It has a relatively strong peppermint smell to it, though it’s not overbearingly sweet (or that sweet at all), which makes it perfect for a subtle holiday aroma. Overall, I rate Crushed Candy Cane 7.95/10
  1. An unorthodox holiday scent is Frosted Coconut Snowball. If you’re a coconut fanatic like myself, this will be one of your favorites. This scent somehow manages to combine the summery feel of coconut with the shivering of winter and make it smell good. The coconut component isn’t as prevalent as it would be in a sole-coconut scent, and it has a sense of cold that only a snowball could give a person. For its originality and combinative structure, I rate Frosted Coconut Snowball a 9/10
  1. Spiced Gingerbread is another classic. This Bath & Body Works scent manages to smell somewhat how you would imagine it to taste: sweetness that would give Willy Wonka a run for his money. Yet, disappointingly, no spice, figuratively or literally. It does smell uncanningly like a kitchen after gingerbread cookies have been baked, but I feel the name is too misleading given the lack of a spicy fragrance. Spiced Gingerbread gets a 4/10 from me. 
  1. The final scent under my scrutiny is Fresh Sparkling Snow. The most basic of basic winter holiday scents, although it’s an uncommon one. Fresh Sparkling Snow doesn’t smell like snow (does snow have a smell?) but I also can’t pinpoint anything else which it could smell like; a very original scent indeed. It’s sweet to an extent which is pleasant and not at all nauseating, which can sometimes be difficult to find, yet is extremely unexciting for a holiday scent under the nose. Overall, I rate Fresh Sparkling Snow a 5/10

I hope this quick guide to what scents are hot and not at Bath & Body Works this holiday season has calmed all your fragrance generated nerves. Happy smelling! 

The Best Local Holiday Light Displays

By: Avery Phillips

’Tis the season! The holiday spirit that we all have needed is finally here. More people than ever are celebrating early this year by putting up festive decorations and lights. I’ve compiled a list of the best decoration displays and light shows in our area to spread some holiday joy with you!

Lake Myra Christmas Lights (Wendell)

The lights at Lake Myre are always a success, featuring lights in many unique shapes and sparkling christmas trees in many different sizes. Lake Myra Christmas Lights is open from November 25th through December 31st, and each show lasts about 25 minutes. This year, there are COVID-19 precautions, such as allowing no more than 50 people inside the fence and required social distancing. They will be closed every Monday-Wednesday.

Hours: Thursdays and Sundays: 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm, Fridays and Saturdays: 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm

Ticket price: Free, but donations are accepted.

Fieldstream Farm Lights Show (Raleigh)

The Fieldstream Farm Lights Show features different christmas lights and decorations; their main attraction being the tunnel of lights. They have the longest LED lit light tunnel in the world, featuring over 200,000 lights! People are welcome to drive through the tunnel if they have bought a ticket. Tickets can either be printed or the barcode can be scanned on your phone. 

Hours: Monday-Friday: 6:30 pm to 9:45 pm, Saturday-Sunday: 5:30 pm to 9:45 pm

Ticket price: $20.00 for vehicles containing 1-8 passengers, $40.00 for vehicles containing 9-18 passengers.

Night of Lights (Raleigh)

Night of Lights is a drive through light show located at the Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. Some attractions include trees decorated with twinkling lights, local art installations, light displays, and festive decorations. Tickets must be purchased in advance to be able to drive through. The Night of Lights festival will be open from November 16th through December 27th. The event will not be open on December 25th. 

Hours: Sunday-Saturday: 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm

Ticket price: $15.00 for vehicles containing 9 or less passengers, $30.00 for vehicles containing 9 or more passengers. 

Lights on the Neuse (Clayton)

Lights on the Neuse is run by Boyette Family Farms. They offer various attractions, such as a twenty minute hayride through beautiful lights, a chance to visit Santa, and a concession stand. A ticket is required for entry. They will be open on Fridays through Sundays from December 4th through the 20th, then open every day after the 20th until they close on the 25th. No reservations are required, but the purchase of online tickets is strongly encouraged. 

Hours: Friday-Saturday: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Sundays and the 21st-23rd: 6:00 pm to 8:00pm, December 24th: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Ticket price: $10.00 for ages 3 and up

Hillridge Farms Festival of Lights (Youngsville)

The Hillridge Farms Festival of Lights is a mile long drive through light show. This year the farm has a bigger display than ever before! It will be held from November 26th to December 27th. Tickets and reservations will not be available beforehand, you will have to pay upon arrival. 

Hours: Sunday-Saturday: 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm

Ticket price: $20 per vehicle 

Holt Road Christmas Lights (White Oak)

Holt Road Christmas Lights is a wonderful drive through experience. As you drive around the house, you will be surrounded by colorful holiday lights, arcs, and decorations. The owners will have decorations up from 11/26 through 12/26, and they are closed every Monday-Wednesday. 

Hours: Their schedule varies every day, but it can be easily found on @christmaslightsonholtrd’s facebook page.

Ticket price: Free

Johnson Family Light Show (Cary)

The Johnson Family Light Show is not your traditional light show. You won’t find inflatables, props, or figurines. Instead, you’ll find dubstep music and pixel lights. The pixel lights dance and flicker in time with the music that is being played, resulting in a fun visual experience. Each show lasts about 10 minutes. The shows will start November 26th and run through January 1st. No tickets are needed; all you have to do is drive by!

Hours: 6:00 pm to 10:30pm

Ticket price: Free

Enjoy the lights and happy holidays!

Best Local Places to Get Boba Tea

By: Regan Sumy

With more shops and restaurants opening up, you may be craving to get out of your house, but you have nowhere to go. I highly suggest hitting up a boba tea place; all of the ones I have been to during quarantine have done takeout or curbside pickup options, so if you are worried about going into public, maybe you should consider picking up some boba. This article will go over some of my favorite places and drinks. So let’s get into it!

First off, what is boba tea? Boba tea originated in Taiwan and is usually served with a tea base (or milk or fruit tea), but what makes this drink extraordinary is the boba, which are chewy tapioca balls. Tapioca comes from the root of a cassava plant. You can choose any flavor of tea or milk tea you want and add any toppings into your drink. Although the boba is delicious and customary, I have had many friends claim the boba hurts their stomachs, so you may want to take that into perspective when choosing your toppings. Most boba tea places also sell some different drinks, like smoothies, and most sell ice cream.

Milk Lab:

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Milk Lab is located off of Tryon Road, so it is most likely the closest place to get boba. I have been here a couple of times and have been satisfied with my drinks. The first time I went here, I thought Milk Lab served more dessert-type drinks than a casual refresher. They have a website (Milk Lab Website) that contains their menu which consists of fancy drinks, ice cream, and specialty drinks, Milklab Floats. My favorite drink from Milk Lab is called the “Brown Sugar Black Milk Tea,” which I get with boba. While I have never tried their ice cream or specialty drinks, I have heard from friends that they are delicious. 

Bumble Tea:

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Bumble Tea is located off of Avent Ferry Road, near Athens Drive High School, so this would be another place to try close to you. I have only been to Bumble Tea once and thought my drink was decent. The boba tasted great, but the actual milk tea flavor was bland. I ordered the “Winter Melon Milk Tea” with boba, which is one of my favorite flavors, and didn’t fall in love with it, but it was still decent. From what I remember when I walked into the cafe to pick up my drinks, it was a very cute shop. The whole logo is incorporated in the adorable cafe. The website (Bumble Tea Website), shows the menu, but if you click the “order for pickup” button on the top, it gives you many more options, which could be confusing. I am willing to try Bumble Tea again, but maybe a different flavor. 

Summertime Tea & Smoothie: 

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Summertime, which is located in Garner off of Highway 70, is my personal favorite boba tea place so far. It may be a little bit more of a drive than the other cafes listed so far, but I think it is worth it. I live closer to Summertime and go there more often, so I am probably biased when it comes to stating the best boba place. My go-to drink is a “Large wintermelon tea with boba, please.” The flavor of the tea is rich, and the boba is chewy- a perfect comfort food for me. Summertime doesn’t have a website, but they do have an instagram they post on periodically (@summertime_garner).  

There are a couple of other boba tea cafes around the triangle, but these three are the most local and popular. I hope you can enjoy boba soon! Check out any of these places and see if my reviews match your review!

Halloween 2020: What Should I Do?

By: Celia Pope and Sarah Cain

While we may not be able to have a normal Halloween this year, with trick-or-treating and fun parties with your closest friends, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to be bored, at home watching YouTube videos. Instead, go have some fun with your family outside, where it’s fun but still safe. You can even go and meet up at a friend’s house, or go out and about doing activities for some Halloween season excitement, all while making sure you are staying safe and distanced! 

If you still are up for some fun outdoor activities, some ideas for such could include Phillip’s Farm with their haunted farm and Halloween day activities, or going to The Matthews House, which involves outdoor and distanced trick or treating for anyone to enjoy. 

However, if going somewhere with tons of activities isn’t something you want to do, there are still a lot of super fun things to do with family or a few distanced friends right in the comfort of your own home. For example, have a pumpkin carving contest and see who can do the best, or have a fun outdoor movie night with popcorn and candy while you dive into a scary movie. You can even wear costumes to get into the Halloween spirit, or you could gather up some friends or neighbors to see who can come up with the best costumes for this year’s Halloween!    

Out and About Activities

Phillip’s Farm

Local business Phillip’s Farm has all year-round outdoor activities for everyone of all ages to enjoy, and unique to this year, celebrate Halloween. Although this place is tons of fun, anyone who comes to enjoy the night needs to make sure to be safe and cautious with being around so many people. (While scoping out the area, we saw hundreds of people there and realized that it was a bit of a danger with so many around.) If you plan on going to Phillip’s Farm this Halloween, make sure you are wearing a mask at all times and stay at least 6 feet apart from others at all times (as well as all other COVID precautions). According to Phillip’s Farm owner, Melissa Phillips, “We will be cleaning and sanitizing often throughout the night, and will have pre-ordered tickets to avoid lines. However, if you choose to buy a ticket at the farm, we will have lines marked six feet so that you can socially distance from others in line. We will also have employees walking around and enforcing the distancing policies.” Admission tickets will cost $12 for adults and children and $10 for seniors and military personnel. The Haunted Farm portion of the farm that is offered every Halloween will be open from 7:30pm to 11:30pm. 

Popular Attractions:

-Corn box (children can play in shelled corn)

-Cow-train (Train pulled through the corn maze)

-Ball Pen

-Bounce Pillows (giant pillows about ½ the size of a football field to jump on)

-Corn Maze

For more information go to:

The Matthews House

On Halloween night from 4:30 – 7:30 pm you can find a socially distanced safe way to continue your trick or-treating fun this year. It costs $5 to get into The Matthews House, and it will take place outside unlike under normal circumstances where you would walk around the spooky environment that has been created here. Come dressed up if you would like, and don’t miss the Halloween night trick or-treating that is so beloved by so many people.

(Address: The Matthews House in Cary

 317 W Chatham St 

Cary, NC 27511)

For more information go to:

www.eventbrite.com/e/trick-or-treat-at-the-matthews-house-tickets-122250296929 

At Home Activities

Movie Night

Movies on Halloween have always been a fun Halloween for many people. If you can’t go out and about this year, try cozying up with your family and enjoying a Halloween classic. Need some ideas? Here are some of the most top rated family Halloween movies in the US this year:

-Casper (PG) (Netflix)

-Nightmare Before Christmas (PG) (Hulu and Amazon Prime)

-Hocus Pocus (PG) (Disney+ (Limited Time))

-Halloweentown (PG) (Amazon Prime)

-Hotel Transylvania (PG) (Hulu and HBO Max)

-Ghostbusters (PG) (IMDB and Amazon Prime)

-Coraline (PG) (Hulu)

-It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (NR) (Amazon Prime and Hulu)

-The Haunting (PG-13) (Netflix)

Pumpkin Carving

It is always a fun idea to carve a pumpkin into fun, unique, and creative designs! Not only can this be a fun family activity, but you can also do it with friends (distanced of course)! If you are on the competitive side of things, you can make it into a pumpkin carving contest within the family or even the neighborhood!

Costume Contest

This one is pretty self-explanatory: gather up the neighborhood and create different categories for a costume contest! Some examples can include Most Creative, Scariest, Funniest, Best Homemade, etc. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it!

This year’s Halloween is not going to be the same as it usually is (along with most things this year), but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still have fun! Not only is going out to places like the Matthews House and Phillip’s Farm a good way to support local and small businesses, it’s a great way to enjoy a night out, a rare treat these days. There are also other ways that you can enjoy time with your family at home. You can have a movie night, carve a pumpkin, and more; the possibilities are endless! These days, it can be difficult to find enjoyment when there are still so many things we can’t do, so embrace this opportunity to have some fun, and have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

A Taste of Normality: FOCO

By: Kayla Engler

The fall season is upon us and personally, I couldn’t be any happier. As much as I hate saying farewell to the cloudless days with the unrelenting rays of sun, fall feels like renewal. Autumn paints landscapes a mirage of oranges, browns, yellows, and reds, stealing the simplicity from the boring greens. Fog settles into the forests and I get to pretend that I’m a character in Twilight for a couple months or so. Autumn pulls leaves from the trees and litters the ground with color, foreshadowing the snow that might fall in late December. Or rather, January or February… or March when it comes to North Carolina weather. 

I associate many things with fall: the start of a new school year, reuniting with those friends that you’re not close enough with to see over the summer but that you care about enough to miss, Halloween, Thanksgiving, bonfires, fear farm, camping, hot cider, apple picking, pumpkins… shall I go on? Though spring is the revival of all that was lost in fall and barren in winter, I see fall as the start of the cycle, a cycle for growth. Nonetheless, if you can’t tell, fall is a personal favorite of mine. 

One of my most favorite parts of fall is football season. And not just any football game, not just any week or any theme. My most favorite of all is homecoming. Homecoming is a week of tradition and fun. It’s a week when school spirit floods through the halls. There’s green and white, band music, smiles, and so much pride to be an Imp. That’s one of the things I was most disappointed to lose thanks to COVID-19.

But somehow, my sorrows were heard and my unspoken prayers were answered. This year, FOCO was born. That’s right, fake homecoming. For me, it all began when I ran across a TikTok that read, “So I threw a homecoming last night…” It was a girl and her friends in pretty dresses with cute boys and pretty decorations. It looked like a night of fun even if it couldn’t really compare to the joys of the actual homecoming dance. But I knew that we’d lost our homecoming football game, our homecoming parade, and our bonfire, so it seemed only fair that I take one measly thing back. 

I called up three of my best friends to pitch the idea and it was a hit. We chose a date, bought some dresses, picked a restaurant, found a place to take photos, and we were set. On October 17th, I got a small taste of what COVID stole from me, from all high schoolers. Here are a couple of my favorite photos from that experience: 

Ironically, groups of people from other schools across Wake County began sharing photos from their FOCOS around the same time. I suppose we weren’t the only ones that were missing our school functions. Check out some pictures taken by other people that participated in FOCO this year!!

All in all, from my own experience and from the fun I can see other people have had at their FOCOs, I highly recommend doing this yourself. So gather up some friends (not too many, stay healthy and safe!!), grab a tux or a dress, take some pictures, eat some good food, dance it out, but most of all make some memories! COVID might’ve taken a lot from us, but I think that this could be a little something that we take back.