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Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)

March Music Madness

March might be big for basketball, but it’s also big for music. The big South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is happening in Austin, TX for the next few weeks. SXSW is for music, film and interactive (apps, social mediaetc.) industries to show off what they’re working on and interact with others in their industry. The festival has been attracting bigger names recently (Coldplay, Lady Gaga and 50 Cent are all scheduled to play), but the festival is known for pushing some of the best new bands and artists into the spotlight. These are some of the bands that I’ll be looking out for in the future (you know, when I’m not crying about how far away TX is).


The Saint Johns are Louis Johnson and Jordan Meredith, a Nashville-based folk duo that  writes beautiful duets. His rock voice contrasts really wonderfully with her delicate, breathy vocals. Plus, their lyrics are incredibly honest and relatable. These two have the potential to fill the folk-duo void left from The Civil Wars’ breakup.

Download: “Your Head and Your Heart,” “Josephine”




Mary Lambert is known to many as the girl in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” but don’t blow her off as a backup singer. Her own music is more orchestral and way more emotional. Her song “Body Love” combines music and spoken word and will probably make you cry. Plus, her voice is phenomenal.

Download: “My Moon,” “She Keeps Me Warm”


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MGMT Misses Mark on Self-Titled Album

How does one properly react as a musician when achieving unexpected fortune and fame with only one record and a few hit singles? It sounds overwhelming, but for MGMT, the answer’s quite simple: Run far, far away from it.

They’re not the first to do this, of course. In the past, artists like Nirvana, The Flaming Lips, and Radiohead have all challenged their early, unexpected fame with more adventurous and difficult releases. Though they risked alienating new fans and blowing record deals, some artists just can’t resist flexing their artistic muscles to prove that they’re real “artists.”

And boy does it seem like MGMT feels that they need to prove something. After all, success doesn’t come more abruptly and unexplainably than it did for MGMT, as their first album, 2007’s “Oracular Spectacular,” sold millions of copies, garnered countless enthusiastic fans, and spawned infectious singles like “Time To Pretend” and “Kids,” which still receive strong radio play. They were taking the pop music world by storm, and no one could stop them.

Except for MGMT itself, of course. Since their breakthrough, members Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser have tried avoiding pop music like the plague, choosing instead to indulge in more experimental, psychedelic influences on their 2010 follow up, “Congratulations,” and now culminating on their new, almost completely inaccessible album, “MGMT.” But at what cost does all of this come?

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All Was Well

How exactly am I supposed to say goodbye to the last four years of my life? My experiences here have changed me completely (for the better) and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when I pack up my room, knowing I’m not coming back in a few months. There are also people I couldn’t imagine life without and who made my four years here some of the best.

First of all, thank you to my family for encouraging me to go to Monmouth and for putting up with a kid who always forgets to call.

Thank you to Amanda Caruso for being the best friend a girl could ask for. Four years ago, we moved into Beechwood, I took one look at your posters and told you we were going to be good friends. I think you thought I was crazy (which is correct), but I don’t think either of us thought we would be so close by graduation. I am so glad you’re the one I’ve gone through the last four years with.

This school wouldn’t be a school if I didn’t have great teachers to learn from. Thank you to all of my professors at Monmouth. There are far too many too name, but you’ve all been so influential.

One of the most important parts of my life at Monmouth has been the way the University allows students to participate in other departments. Obviously, The Outlook office is a home, but so is Woods Theatre.

Thank you to the Theatre Department. To Sheri Anderson, Nicole Ricciardi, Fred DelGuercio, Doc Burke and Maurice Moran, thank you for teaching me so much and letting me be so involved in the department. I really do consider it a privilege. Nicole and Sheri, you two are basically full time teachers and part time psychologists. You’re both amazing and deserve so much credit for what you do.

Thank you to all of the students in the theatre program. Despite being an English major, Woods Theatre gave me a home when I needed one most. I’ve never met a more welcoming, friendly group of people in my life. You’re a family. We don’t wear letters or call each other brothers and sisters. We don’t choose new members; we let new members choose us. We welcome them with open arms. I wasn’t a very happy person when I joined you guys for “The Foreigner,” but being with you guys changed everything. I’m really happy right now, and I credit you guys with a lot of that.


Stephen Lang, thank you for knowing how to make a girl feel special.


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“Parks And Rec” Wraps Up

Over the last several years, Amy Poehler and a wonderfully nuanced comedy cast have made “Parks and Recreation,” a quirky mockumentary about local government in a fictional town, into an under-the-radar hit for NBC. The show, starring Poehler as Leslie Knope, an over-achieving and over-enthusiastic government employee, concluded its sixth season last Thursday, April 24 with a powerhouse episode.

The finale’s opening scenes find Leslie far from her beloved town of Pawnee, IN, and at a major crossroads in her life. She’s in San Francisco attending the National Parks Conference, but her mind is on a job offer that would uproot she and her charmingly dorky husband Ben (Adam Scott) to a new state. Despite the pros of the new gig, Leslie can’t bring herself to leave Pawnee - not when the town is in the process of a merger, and certainly not when she just found out that she’s pregnant with triplets.

Leslie’s inner turmoil, while being the focus of the latter part of season six, does not weigh down the final episode with unnecessary drama. Rather, it allows for realistic character growth as we watch the hero of the story choose her next path in life. A particular highlight came in the form of a cameo from Michelle Obama, who was the keynote speaker at the National Parks Conference. Though the First Lady’s guest spot felt rather like an excuse to promote her campaigns, watching Poehler’s comedy chops as Leslie reacts to meeting her idol is worth a rewind.

While Leslie grapples with her future, Tom (Aziz Ansari) is looking to officially open his new restaurant in time for the town’s Unity Concert, which Leslie has arranged to seal the merger of Pawnee and its neighboring communities. He’s enlisted the entire Parks department to help, but chaos ensues when the team struggles to pull together the opening on such short notice. After a disastrous first attempt, Ron (Nick Offerman) and the others convince Tom to give it another go, suggesting that he encourage celebrity attendees at the Unity Concert to stop by the Bistro after the show.

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The Energizer: Brooke McCarthy

Brooke McCarthy’s voice was pouring into the parking lot of Woods Theatre when I arrived at our interview. She was upstairs finishing a voice lesson before our interview, a hobby that clearly paid off when she won the lead role in the Department of Music and Theatre’s spring production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

When the lithe brunette came down to meet me five minutes late, she greeted me with a huge smile and immediately started apologizing for her lesson. I can’t really imagine anyone getting mad at such a welcoming and upbeat personality. Immediately, though, I can tell that, despite her business major, McCarthy is a theatre kid. She’s outgoing with the ability to speak to strangers very well. Just sitting next to her, I can almost feel all the energy she has bottled up.

Despite this, she was just a little terrified when she was given the role of Audrey for “Little Shop”. McCarthy has been involved in the theatre department throughout her four years at the university, but still, she feared that other classmates would be angry that she wasn’t still in the major.

McCarthy said, “For the first couple weeks of rehearsals, I was literally like ‘Oh my god, everyone probably hates me. I’m not even a major…I hope that they’re not holding that against me’ …but I think it ended up working out really well, and I think it helps that I’m really good friends with a lot of the people [in the play].”

Brandon Wiener, a junior, played McCarthy’s love interest in “Little Shop of Horrors”. Wiener said, “When I learned that Brooke was given the role of Audrey I was ecstatic because we had played opposite each other my freshmen year in ‘Crimes of the Heart’ and I couldn’t wait to rekindle that flame in ‘Little Shop.’ I thought she did an incredible job, and I cried when I [killed her character] every night.”

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Springfest Artist Sammy Adams

On March 4, 2010, Boston’s own Sammy Adams released his first ever album entitled “Boston’s Boy.” Nobody really knew who he was or where he came from. But he has come a long way collaborating with Mike Posner and Pharrell Williams and will be performing here at the University on Sunday, May 4 at Springfest.

Adams had been accused of faking the numbers when the debut of “Boston’s Boy” topped the iTunes hip-hop charts in 2010. No one believed this underground college singer could be that successful so quickly. He did produce the figures to show he wasn’t lying and did not buy the records himself to get his album on the top of the charts. I think “haters” and critics are going to think twice about Adams now.

“Boston’s Boy” shows Adam’s skill as a pop-rapper. Any song on his album is good for driving around with the top down with your best friends in the summer time. His music and lyrics are very relatable to the younger generation as he sings about traveling, escaping the “haters,” girls, relationships, and just being young.

“Driving Me Crazy,” a single that Adams may be best known for, has a catchy dance beat and lyrics. You just want to sing along and have fun with your friends. While his songs are definitely hip-hop, they also can fit into the dance-pop category. I found myself listening to the feel-good “Coast to Coast,” and the party anthem “Swang Your Drank” multiple times.

Adams is very straightforward in his songs, allowing for many young adults to re¬late to his music. He says that he knows who is buying his al¬bums and recognizes his loyal college fan base. It’s said many college students prefer his sec¬ond big hit, “Tab Open,” about the college life.

Adams wants to be taken seriously as a rapper. He does come across as that geeky “white boy” but he raps harder than some of his competition. In 2010, Adams told popmatters. com, “College kids don’t want to hear about stuff they can’t relate to...they want the truth,” says Adams. “Chilling, hooking up with girls, getting hammered and waking up with a headache, these are things every college kid does every weekend.” He connects with his fans and I definitely could feel that as I was listening to his music.


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There is a divide in the world of book publishing, and no, we’re not talking about the e-reader debate. Self-publishing is taking the internet by storm, and it has readers divided.

Self-publishing is when an author skips having a publisher and just prints their book themselves. This is a very expensive thing to do with physical books, and getting self-published books in actual stores is an even bigger hurdle. Then the internet went and changed everything, as it seems to do so often.

Now authors can submit their manuscript to a number of programs and have an e-book formatted and for sale in a matter of moments. They completely skip the traditional publishing process. The most famous self-published author is likely E.L. James, author of “50 Shades of Grey.” Many authors have been jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon in hopes of being another James (who was eventually picked up by Vintage Books, a subdivision of Random House), but have their hopes quickly taken away.

Kevin Holton, a junior, has self-published mystery novels through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. It’s a choice he regrets. “Unless you’re a marketing major, you’ll likely find little to no success in self-publishing because there’s a huge stigma against it. Generally, such work (I found out after) is considered self-important, low quality, and not worthy of traditional publishing,” Holton said.

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Streaming Sensation:


After enduring a long commute back and forth from school, Tommy Dietz, 21, a Rowan University senior and lifelong video game enthusiast, likes to unwind with a nice game of “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.” What’s strange about this, however, is that Dietz won’t be playing the game himself, but watching someone else instead.

He’s not alone, as millions of gamers around the world are putting down their controllers and logging on to, a website which allows users to stream live video game content and commentary or watch and comment on other’s video game streams, all free of charge.

“I watch Twitch somewhere between two to three hours a day normally,” said Dietz, explaining how Twitch has become almost as big a part of his life as gaming has. “In a sense, Twitch has basically become TV for me.” was created by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear and launched in June 2011 as a gaming-centric subsidiary of live-streaming website, which Kan and Shear also co-founded. According to Twitch’s “About” page, the website currently garners more than 45 million visitors per month.

Dietz first learned of Twitch in June of last year through another popular video-based website you may have heard of: YouTube. It was there that a number of online gaming personalities, such as Criken and TotalBiscuit (both of which regularly garner hundreds of thousands of views per video), began posting links to their Twitch streams, introducing Dietz to his newest obsession.

“I remember the first thing I was a part of was a ‘WoW’ (“World of Warcraft”) stream done by Criken where a good couple hundred people ran around the game trying to invade enemy cities,” said Dietz, chuckling to himself. “It was goofy, but playing with someone you’re a fan of, plus being a part of a big community working towards some goal, was really fun.”

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Annual Landau Exhibit Impresses Again

At the entrance to the “A Judgment of War” art exhibit in the library, a quote by the artist, Jacob Landau (whose selected works have been on display there since April 10) reads: “I am interested in art as advocacy of the human, as revelation of the tragic, as hope of transcendence.”

With just 12 works in total, the exhibit may seem humble. But those 12 works by Jacob Landau, including his lithographs, wet pastels, and woodcuts, are all the exhibit needs to materialize the humanist artist’s aforementioned quote. Works touching on human existence, the tragedy of war, and the hope of peace each wield a unique ability to deliver a powerful, thought-provoking punch to the viewer.

A majority of the works in “A Judgment of War” depict images of the Holocaust (appropriate, considering Landau hailed from a Jewish family), as well as Dante’s circles of Hell. Most of the lithographs and woodcuts with these themes are rendered in black, white, or grayscale, which complement the dark material and comment on the black, white, and gray areas of good, evil, and morality.

One such work is a lithograph titled “The Geography of Hell,” from the Holocaust Suite of Jacob Landau. With overlapping clusters of bodies, haunting faces, and cavernous eyes, the artwork allows the viewer from the outside of the frame to look in on the chaotic scene and feel a kind of detached sorrow for the tortured, fearful subjects—the Jews during a terrible period in the world’s history.

A very different piece, a wet pastel titled “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” stood out most prominently in the exhibit for its large size and wide range of colors, which stood in stark contrast to monochromatic pieces like “The Geography of Hell.” Although the pastel does not betray any overtly religious images, it is actually a vibrant rendering of a story in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible in which Jesus opens four of seven seals on a scroll in God’s right hand, summoning riders on white, red, black, and pale horses. These horses are said to symbolize conquest, war, famine, and death, respectively, and their riders are meant to be the harbingers of the Last Judgment.

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Blue Mountain State Kicks Off Fundraiser

Blue_Mountain_StateIn a clip posted to YouTube on Tuesday, April 8, Alan Ritchson as his "Blue Mountain State" character Thad Castle announced that his popular television show will be made into a movie using a Kickstarter campaign. (The video posted is a tampered version of Jimmy Kimmel's interview with Kanye West, but still we get "BMS" back.)

"Blue Mountain State," which was broadcasted by the Spike TV, lasted three seasons before its abrupt ending in 2011. The show followed Blue Mountain State College quarterback Alex Moran (Darin Brooks), BMS captain Thad Castle and BMS mascot Sammy Cacciatore (Chris Romano) through their extravagant and highly inappropriate lifestyles while attending college.

Fans of the show were upset with the unexpected ending because they never got to watch Moran's senior year at Blue Mountain State and felt the show never properly concluded.

A junior communication major and avid fan of the show, Maggie Lowy, said, "I honestly felt a little empty because they cancelled it without answering so many questions. Right at the peak of the show, they took it away."

When the fourth season was cancelled in 2012, producer Eric Falconer tweeted, "BMS wasn't cancelled because of a drop in ratings. Season 3 was actually up 20% + in all male demographics vs S2. It was a budget issue."

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michael_grubbs_quadOn Friday, April 11, the university's Student Activities Board (SAB) held their Concert in a Tent event with artist Michael Grubbs, the frontman of indie pop band Wakey!Wakey!.

Grubbs was actually a replacement. Originally, Tyler Hilton had been scheduled to appear, but a movie role came up that he couldn't turn down. In exchange, the former "One Tree Hill" star sent Grubbs, also a former "One Tree Hill" guest star.

Krista Varanyak, a junior, was originally very disappointed by Hilton's cancellation. She said, "I originally planned on going because Tyler Hilton was playing, but a week or so ago, Meg McGowan said he wasn't able to come anymore. She said they had the option between Wakey!Wakey! and another act. I'd like to think that I'm the reason she ended up choosing Wakey!Wakey!. I've been a fan of his since he was on 'One Tree Hill' and bought his CD immediately after hearing it."

Rachael Brady, a junior, also came to the concert because of her familiarity with "One Tree Hill," which went off the air in 2012. Brady said, "My favorite part was him playing some of the songs that he performed on the show. It was a really cool experience to have these songs I originally saw on television be played for me live by the actual performer himself."

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“Turn” Should Ask For Directions

michael_grubbs_quadIn an era of increasingly realistic and gritty period dramas, it takes more than just extravagant costumes and timely dialogue to be a success. "Turn," AMC's newest show about a cabbage farmer that becomes a spy for the colonists in 1770's America, will have to learn this lesson the hard way after airing a mediocre series premiere on Sunday, April 6.

On paper, the historical drama has potential: it follows the life of Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell), a family man with a deceptively simple life. When his home town of Setauket, NY is invaded by the British, he finds himself torn between two worlds. Will he obey his father and pledge his loyalty to King George, or will he take an offer from his childhood friend to become a spy for the rebels?

The story of an undercover spy ring that helped America win the Revolution is a compelling one and coming from a network that has launched period pieces as rich as "Mad Men," "Turn" seemed likely to be a hit. While the drama succeeded in establishing a fresh take on an old topic, the execution lacked excitement and was more or less 90 minutes of confusing build up. In trusting that viewers would already sympathize with the colonists, the episode forgot to give us any unique reason to root for the heroes.

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A Buyer’s Guide for Record Store Day 2014

Record_Store_DayApril 19 might not mean much to most normal people, but if you're a passionate and rabid music collector (like me), the date cannot come soon enough. That's because this Saturday marks the 7th Annual Record Store Day event, an unofficial music holiday where artists and record labels release exclusive products (typically vinyl reissues, singles, and compilations)which are sold exclusively on that day in thousands of independent record stores all around the globe.

There's bound to be something for everyone from the many releases exclusively available on Record Store Day. However, trying to make sense of the massive, sprawling list of releases for this year's event can be an incredibly daunting task. Thus, to make things a bit simpler, here are five of my top picks for Record Store Day releases that I would strongly suggest to just about any music lover.

Joy Division – "An Ideal for Living"

12" Vinyl

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Pollak Theatre took a trip back to the 1940s with “In The Mood,” a music revue that is in its 20th anniversary season. Audience members sang along to their favorite hits of the 1940s, complete with period costumes and a full orchestra.

The theater was almost completely full with an older audience. The woman next to me asked, “Are you enjoying this? You’re young for this kind of music. Everyone here is old.” I did, in fact, enjoy the show. Six talented singers showed off their skills with standards from the era such as “La Vie en Rose” (from Édith Piaf) and “All or Nothing at All” (from Frank Sinatra).

However, the cast weren’t the only ones singing. Plenty of audience members sang along to their favorite numbers, even when the cast wasn’t searching for audience participation. When the cast did try to ‘teach’ the audience the words to “Hey! Ba Ba Re Bop,” it seemed completely unnecessary. This audience knew what songs they were here to see.

Of course, the singers were not the only focus. The show paid particular attention to their String of Pearls orchestra. The orchestra made a big entrance with all but their cellist and pianist entering in from the audience to uproarious applause. The narrator (Joshua David Cavanaugh) was also sure to introduce each song’s soloist. The show even included multiple songs that were solely instrumental.

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The Mother of Disappointment

The Not-So-Lengendary “How I Met Your Mother” Finale

After nine years, 208 episodes, and one great pop culture mystery, we deserved a better ending to “How I Met Your Mother.” The eagerly-anticipated finale that aired last Monday, March 31, was not only shallow, but a slap in the face to the series’ dedicated fan base, who were told by the end of the episode that they had misunderstood the show’s basic premise all along.

The biggest problem with the finale lied not in one incident, but in the execution of the ending, which felt like both a betrayal of the characters and their fans. The hour-long episode, while containing some distinctly funny and heartbreaking moments, served only to undo nine seasons worth of character development. Ultimately, we were left with an episode that more or less reflected the show’s first season, resolving storylines that had been irrelevant for years.

When Carter Bays and Craig Thomas first launched their sitcom in 2005, they introduced us to a group of twenty-something friends living in NYC. The series might have faded from the pop culture radar had it not contained a revolutionary twist: it was a love story in reverse, narrated by endearing architect Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), as he sits down to tell his kids about how spending his post-college years with friends Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) led to him meeting his future wife.

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“Game of Thrones” returned for its fourth season on Sunday after a year of leaving fans in a state of disbelief and heartbreak from the infamous Red Wedding episode. While the premiere lacked high excitement, it set the audience up for a season that promises to be just as thrilling as its predecessor.

Sunday’s episode, “Two Swords,” opens with the melting of Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) former sword, Ice, as Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) turns it into gifts for both Jamie and King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). We are immediately reminded of the loss of the Stark family not only through this scene but also through the playing of “The Rains of Castamere” featured in the episode; the music that signaled the execution of Rob (Richard Madden) and Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). The premiere was not the most dynamic introduction season opener, but it served its purpose of exposition to set up the audience for the season to come.

With so many questions that fans have been contemplating since last season, the episode does a good job of providing foreshadows of what are probably the more important storylines. Overall, the premiere does an exceptional job of introducing the audience to the current setting of the story and all the characters we have loved, hated, and hated to love.

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Chris O’dOwd Wows the Crowd


After 40 years, the much acclaimed “Of Mice and Men” novel written by Nobel prize winner, John Steinbeck, has been revived on Broadway at the Longacre Theater.

Set in CA during the 1930s, the play centers around migrant workers George Milton (James Franco) and Lennie Smalls (Chris O’Dowd). In the beginning, the audience is made aware that the two characters were forced to seek new work after Lennie was falsely accused of sexual harassment. From this statement the audience foreshadows trouble for the two at their new work site, a ranch owned by a man named Curley (Alex Morf) and his father.

The play hosted many well known actors such as Franco, O’Dowd, and “Gossip Girl’s” Leighton Meester as Curly’s Wife, all three of whom made their broadway debut.

Franco is seen by many as one of society’s greatest movie and television actors, and yet his theatrical performance may have proved his best appearance in any industry thus far. When he first stepped on to the stage, many gasps crossed the audience, produced mainly by teenage girls who were star struck. As the play continued, the audience seemed to forget that the man presented as George was their beloved idol and instead, began to think of him as this migrant worker.

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HeartBreaking Band Break Ups

When it comes to alternative, punk, pop-punk and other subgenres of rock music, fans are diehard. These people, who have formed their own culture, come together for a common cause: to support their favorite bands, who some fans claim have done as much as saved their lives through music. With fans so invested in this music and the performers within it, every headline in Alternative Press is breaking news: new albums, record deals, tour dates, break ups.

It’s a visceral experience for fans when their favorite band calls it quits. Their entire time spent with that genre of music that they have essentially lived by and grown with is forever influenced. For some, you can equate it with losing a loved one: you’ll think of that show where you caught the lead singer’s guitar pick, the meet-and-greet you paid an entire summer’s savings for, the song that got you through those tough times during your angst-y teen years, but repeating those experiences suddenly becomes impossible.

Just last year, NJ-native alternative rock band My Chemical Romance (MCR) announced that they would break up after 12 years of making music together. It was a devastating blow for MCR junkies to hear the band’s famous last words, “We’ve gotten to go places we never knew we would. We’ve been able to see and experience things we never imagined possible. …  And now, like all great things, it has come time for it to end. Thanks for all of your support and for being part of the adventure.”

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Pollak Theatre was filled on Saturday night with a crowd ready for some acoustic music from local songwriters. Songwriters by the Sea is a series of concerts hosted by musicians Joe D’Urso and Professor Joe Rapolla, Chair of the Department of Music and Theatre. The round-robin style concert brought together three local professional musicians to play with D’Urso and Rapolla, while three university students opened up for the professionals.

Natalie Zeller, Bryan Haring and Erin Holmes all received some huge applause from the audience. I sat next to some 14-year-old girls who were brought along by their parents, and they seemed a little smitten with Haring and thrilled that his music was available for free on

Of course,  they weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the student openers. Connor Healey, a music major, enjoyed the Blue Hawk Records artists, stating, “The student performers were wonderful. Bryan, Erin and Natalie all did a great job, and I really enjoyed their songs.”

The three went around playing a mix of their own songs and covers. Zeller kicked off the show with her original “Bipolar” while Holmes played a sultry cover of Feelin’ Good” and Haring dedicated an original song to his girlfriend.  Each played a couple songs before ending with a cover of Muse’s “Madness.”

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Cloud Nothings Puts Listeners on Cloud Nine

In a world where indie music runs the gamut of quirky synth pop, lavish baroque pop, and guys wearing suspenders who sell lots of albums, it’s hard to forget that, for a while, indie rock wasn’t hard to define – grungy, sloppy, yet heartfelt rock music a bunch of guys probably wrote in their friends basement.

Few other bands understand that as well as Cloud Nothings, and their latest opus, “Here and Nowhere Else,” serves as a hard slap in the face to those who think you need suspenders to be “indie.”

Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Cloud Nothings was initially the one-man music project of front man Dylan Baldi before morphing into a full band to record 2012’s masterful “Attack on Memory.” Where Cloud Nothing’s early material consisted mainly of scrappy, catchy lo-fi pop rock Baldi conceived out of boredom, “Attack on Memory” was a fully fleshed out barrage of post-hardcore angst and massive hooks that would be an enormous challenge for just about any band to follow up.

However, “Here and Nowhere Else” not only lives up to the task of succeeding one of the decades best indie rock albums, it pretty much tops it. Though it only clocks in at a half hour, “Here and Nowhere Else” is densely packed with savage riffs and some of the strongest hooks Baldi has ever written, interweaving the two seamlessly into an album that is endlessly listenable and a front to back blast.

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The University was host to the inaugural poet Richard Blanco on Tuesday, March 25. Speaking in Pollak Theater, as opposed to the usual Wilson Hall auditorium, he served as the most recent installment in the visiting writer’s series as well as one of the most prestigious speakers to come to campus in the last few years. This event was co-sponsored by the honors school.

Blanco is an awarded poet and civil engineer who lives in Maine. He was the first immigrant, first Latino and first openly gay inaugural poet in history (he read at Obama’s second inauguration). His mother fled Cuba while seven months pregnant, gave birth to him in Spain and then moved to the USA when he was a baby. Growing up in the “cultural purgatory” of Westchester, Fla., he was always conscious of the divide between the version of America he saw on TV, the America he lived in, and his parents, who frequently reminisced about the life and family members they’d left behind. His attempts to find the balance between these worlds influence the majority of his work.

The evening started off with an almost full house and an introduction from Michael Thomas, Associate Dean for the school of humanities.  “Blanco’s poems are a testimony to the duality of identity,” Thomas said.

With this, Blanco took to the podium. Beginning with more general statements about his life and his take on poetry, he shared with the audience the emotional and cultural foundation of his work. “The writer’s job is to share something about real life,” he said, mentioning how poetry should function as a mirror for what is really happening in the world.

“In some ways, to be a poet is the most self-indulgent endeavors,” he laughed, “but in some ways, it is the most selfless.”

Throughout the event, he showed pictures from throughout his life, beginning with his first baby photo: the one used for his green card when he first immigrated to America. He talked about how this is a symbolic representation of who he would later become and that it serves as a reminder of how far he has come.

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When The Pretty Reckless first broke onto the scene with their album “Light Me Up” back in February of 2011, their blend of hard rock roots and aggressive, sexually charged lyrics set them apart from both other bands and from their female-led musical predecessors. One of the other main factors for their huge popularity was the chatter all across the internet at the band’s choice of frontrunner and leadsinger, Taylor Momsen, a name that left some going, “Who?” while others said, “Cindy Lou Who!”

Despite the hype over Momsen as the band’s lead, she has not overshadowed her bandmates, Ben Phillips (lead guitar, backing vocals), Mark Damon (bass), and Jamie Perkins (drums, percussion). Phillips had a notable role in their newest album release, titled “Going to Hell.” While he only sang a few verses in one song, this is a huge jump from “Light Me Up,” where he only sang a few lines.

“Going to Hell” begins with one of their hit singles, “Follow Me Down,” where a brief dramatic introduction (with porn star Jenna Haze faking an orgasm) segues into a guitar-heavy opening riff, allowing Phillips to set the album’s tone with his signature style. As with a number of songs from “Light Me Up,” this one deals with Momsen singing the age old, “Since I’ve met you, I’ve been crazy” line, talking about the influence of a significant other, though the song ends implying that heartbreak killed her, leading appropriately into the next song.

“Going to Hell,” the second track on this release, is a faster, more excited song with echoes of “Goin’ Down” from “Light Me Up.” It even features the priest to whom Momsen confesses her numerous sexual dalliances, singing, “Father, did you miss me?” A line later followed by, “For the lives that I take, I’m going to hell. /For the laws that I break, I’m going to hell,” a whole-hearted embrace of the vice and decadence for which the band is now known.

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“Veronica Mars” Captures Fans Again

Of all the feisty teenage heroines that have populated television culture in recent years, perhaps none were more quick-witted or unflinchingly self-aware than high school detective Veronica Mars. Played with a familiar snarky attitude by the pitch perfect Kristen Bell, Veronica was revived from a premature television graveyard to solve one more mystery on March 14 in the film adaptation, “Veronica Mars.”

The beloved cult classic show, which originally ran under the direction of Rob Thomas from 2003 to 2007, made headlines last year with a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign. The online funding platform saw an unprecedented amount of traffic on the site when Thomas and Bell made a promise that hit all the right notes for fans of the quirky and boundary-pushing television show that met with an untimely demise: raise two million dollars, and we’ll make a movie.

The fans raised $5.7 million, and it was time for Thomas and Bell to make good on their promise. The goal, Thomas said at a Comic-Con panel, was to create a stand alone film that would be a “love letter to the fans.” This wish fulfillment strategy turned out to be both an asset and a crutch for the final product, turning “Veronica Mars” into a satisfyingly funny but slightly watered-down version of the original hit.

The film wisely opens with a beautifully-edited montage and a voice over, filling in audiences on the show’s basic premise. The opening establishes Veronica’s past, which was fraught with betrayal, vengeance, and an unflinching desire for the truth. All of this led to her joining the family business by becoming a detective. At the center of this drama is Veronica’s high school enemy-turned-boyfriend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), with whom her relationship has always been complicated.

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The University’s student-run record label, Blue Hawk Records, will be dropping their third EP and hosting a live show outside the Rebecca Stafford Student Center on Wednesday, April 30. Having already launched two successful compilations since the label’s inception in 2013, Professor Joe Rapolla and his Music Industry students are currently working hard to write, record, and deliver new tracks.

Students can expect Blue Hawk Records’ third EP to contain music from the university’s own Abby Devey, The Trusties, and Kevin Stryker’s Band, as well as a collaboration between JPiFF, Jax the Genius, and Joe Faenza. All featured music was written by the artists and recorded at Lake House Studios in Asbury Park, NJ.

Because Blue Hawk Records is still fairly new to campus, the University’s Applied Music Industry II class was tasked with developing an effective public relations program to spread awareness about the label’s new EP. This campaign will include video and radio promotion, press releases, and both campus and social media outreach. The program will culminate with a promotional concert outside the Student Center on album release day.

In developing a final product that is for the students, by the students, the University’s Music Industry majors have the unique opportunity to learn about all areas of the field in a real world situation. Blue Hawk Records gives students the chance to expand their knowledge beyond the classroom and gain crucial experience in the professional music world.

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Wes Anderson’s “Grand” Adventure

The films of director Wes Anderson have always had a sort of architectural sense to them, with every minute detail, from the dialogue to the music to the stance and position a character is standing in a shot, being meticulously crafted and constructed as a small piece of a greater, more elaborate whole.

With this logic, one would imagine “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Anderson’s latest, to be his most baroque-like and grandiose construction yet, and not just for the lavish model of the hotel appearing through the film. From its dense, fast-paced plot to its lavish, gorgeous cinematography and art design, every facet of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is crafted with extreme precision detail, but is bursting with enough heart and personality to make it all seem effortless and fun.

Set in the fictitious Eastern European nation of Zubrowka, where the enormous Grand Budapest resides, the film tells stories within stories in order to uncover the history of the fictional hotel and the characters that ran it. Set initially in the 1960’s with the hotel in decline, the film starts with a writer – known only as “The Writer” (Jude Law) – who writes a book about The Grand Budapest, based mainly on a conversation he had with Zero Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham), the hotel’s then-owner, while staying their one evening.

At this point, the older Zero (who’s younger self is played by Tony Revolori) tells his story about his experiences there as a lobby boy working under the guidance of concierge Monsieur Gustav H. (Ralph Fiennes) in 1932, which makes up the bulk of the film’s narrative. From here, we are taken through Zero’s perplexing tale of an old lady’s will, a priceless painting, prison breakouts, an oppressive, intimidating army, and more, all with the purpose of explaining how Zero ended up owning the once renowned hotel.

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“Little Shop of Horrors” Slays Audiences

Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy finds mysterious plant from outer space and feeds it humans in order to achieve success and keep girl. While this may not sound like the typical love story, it is what happens downtown in the University’s spring musical “Little Shop of Horrors,” which opened on March 5 in Lauren K. Woods Theatre.

The setting of “Little Shop” takes place in a flower shop on Skid Row, a rundown street lost in the ever-growing urban city in the 60’s.  The owner of the flower shop, Mr. Mushnik played by Nick Zaccario, is on the verge of closing due to no business on Skid Row. However, Mushnik’s “ward,” Seymour, played by junior Brandon Wiener, shows him the strange and unusual “Audrey II” he finds at an exotic plant shop in another part of town.

At first, the plant is withered and dying until Seymour cuts his finger and sees that the plant needs human blood to survive, and gives it enough to flourish.  Soon, “Audrey II” generates an astronomical amount of local and even national success for the shop until Seymour finds out that the plant is actually a creature from outer space and has another craving: world domination.

What most people don’t know about “Little Shop of Horrors” is that it takes the same journey as Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” and John Water’s “Hairspray.” All three of these comedies were originally movies that were turned into musicals. Once all of these cult classics made it big on the great white way, their musical adaptations were then again recaptured on the silver screen.  “Little Shop” in particular was originally created as a comedy in 1960 before it was revamped into an Off -Broadway musical in 1982.

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Pharrell’s Phantastic “GIRL”

Pharrell Williams (also known as Skateboard P) is back at it again, hoping to gain much more positive exposure with his second solo album “GIRL,” released on March 5. His first solo album, released back in 2006, “In My Mind” didn’t turn out so good within the eyes of the critics and his fans. Now, at the age of 40, he’s hoping for some positive results, and he is headed on the right track with his newly released single “Happy” after it shot to number one on the music charts.

Although radio stations play the song to death, it still makes me want to scream and shout “because I’m happy” and next thing you know it I’m either blasting it in my car or dancing around my house. Throughout the album you can hear nice guitar lines, which bring funk with a taste of the R&B singer Prince.

The first track on the album “Marilyn Monroe” is not a track you want to skip over. It has a great beat and a bumping bass line alongside the interesting lyrics about a helpless romantic and the perfect lady. Pharrell sings, “Not even Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn Monroe)/Who Cleopatra (‘Patra Please)/Not even Joan of Arc (Joan of Arc)/That don’t mean nothing to me/I just want a different girl.” The meaning behind the lyrics is that he not too fond of the beauty queens of history, and that he is just into girls with their own attitudes and personality.

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Stop-Motion Animator Visits University

The final installment of Monmouth’s “ART NOW” series came to Wilson Hall on Thursday, Feb. 6, showcasing the work of accomplished stop-motion painter, Jennifer Levonian. Much like the previous guests of the visiting artist series presented by Professor Michael Richison, Levonian’s work is accomplished through multiple mediums. Her presentation, which involved both a lecture and interactive workshop, highlighted the process of animating paintings to produce short films.

Levonian first became interested in this unique medium while she was studying painting at the graduate level and signed up for an animation course taught by recent Oscar nominee David Sousa. This introduction to the world of short film opened up new doors for Levonian, who quickly fell in love with the medium.

She began painting puppets that required multiple moving parts, which were then filmed and edited to give the illusion of motion. Using this stop-motion technique, Levonian went on to create films that have been featured in places like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

Some of these short films were screened during the presentation on Thursday, including a very relatable piece called, “The Poetry Winner.” This short featured a character named Caitlyn, who had just finished college for the semester and was spending her summer as a grocery store clerk. The story culminates with Caitlyn’s declaration to a fussy customer that she is, in fact, a poetry winner, thus validating herself among a mundane hometown life.

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Remembering Harold Ramis: A Comedy Legend

Though taste in comedy might differ, laughter is universal. Few understood this fundamental truth more than the late Harold Ramis, a Hollywood visionary behind cult classic films like “Ghostbusters,” “Caddyshack,” and “Groundhog Day.” News broke Monday, Feb. 24 that Ramis had passed away due to autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis at the age of 69, and his loss has since been felt all throughout the film community.

The writer, director, and actor was most often characterized by his boundary-pushing humor, first showcased when he got his start at Chicago’s Second City, a well-known comedy troupe. After an auspicious launching of his career, Ramis left the windy city for the Big Apple to collaborate with Bill Murray and John Belushi in “The National Lampoon Show.”

Before long, Ramis’ satiric writing style was in demand. He was hired as a performer and head writer of “SCTV,” a late-night sketch comedy show in the same vein as “Saturday Night Live.” This move would effectively launch his film career as he regrouped with the “National Lampoon” team to write the rowdy fraternity movie, “Animal House.”  Following this successful debut came “Caddyshack,” a film directed by Ramis about country club golfers, played by comedic veterans Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield.

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“Little Shop of Horrors” to Open in Woods Theatre

Want to see a murderous plant musical? Sure, it sounds weird, but the Theatre Department has proved that it’s also pretty hilarious. “Little Shop of Horrors” will open at Woods Theatre on March 5 at 8 pm.

Directed by Maurice J. Moran, the show tells the story of Seymour (Brandon Wiener), a flowershop salesman who grows a strange new plant that he calls Audrey II. He really just wants to help Mr. Mushnik (Nick Zaccario) keep his shop open and maybe impress Audrey (Brooke McCarthy). Things take a turn for the worst when he realizes the plant needs blood to survive.

Zaccario plays the oldest character, but he is actually one of the youngest cast members. Zaccario was thrilled to be cast. The communication and theatre major said, “Being a part of the cast of ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ as a freshman nonetheless, is truly an honor - it’s one of my favorite shows of all time, and I was just thrilled to get to revive my role as Mushnik two years in a row.” (Zaccario previously played Mushnik in a high school production of the show.)

Moran said that casting was a very hard process this year. Anyone from the university in any department is welcome to audition for the Theatre Department productions every year. This year’s cast includes students from the theatre, communication, music, political science and psychology majors.

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Lea Michele’s Lackluster“Louder”

The third time is the charm. After less than stellar albums from Matthew Morrison and Mark Salling, a “Glee” star finally managed to release a decent album. To the surprise of no one, Lea Michele will be the first “Glee” cast member to release a successful mainstream debut with “Louder.”

Vocally, Michelle knocks it out of the park. She can sing, but after five seasons of singing covers and hitting high notes on “Glee,” that was expected. Lyrically, she could use some work.

Michele’s singles were kind of disappointing. “Cannonball” is bright and uplifting but didn’t quite work for a first single. It seems like someone wanted to use Sia Furler’s songwriting credit (known for her song “Breathe Me” and Flo Rida’s “Wild One”) to validate Michele as more than just the girl on “Glee.” Honestly, it could be a decent song, but Michele’s weird pronunciation of the word ‘cannonball’ is so irritating that I can’t focus on anything else. She grew up in Tenafly, NJ and Bronx, NY; there is no way that she naturally says “cah-nun-bowl.”

The real issue with the first songs released before the album dropped is that someone really wants to show Leas as the broken girl dealing with boyfriend Cory Monteith’s death. Monteith died in July, after Michele finished her album, of a drug overdose. Of course, that has to be a massive part of her life right now, but that isn’t the strength of the album. Only two songs were added after Monteith’s passing (“Cannonball” and “If You Say So”), and it was supposed to be a dance pop album. The best songs aren’t about loss and moving on; they’re about love and not letting go.

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Seth Meyers Launches New “Late Night”

On Monday, Feb 24, a new era of nighttime television began as Seth Meyers officially took over for popular comedian Jimmy Fallon as host of “Late Night” on NBC.

Many critics have been wondering for weeks now whether or not Meyers, best known for his 13-year stint on “Saturday Night Live” and eight-year run as co-host of the show’s famous “Weekend Update” segment, will be a sufficient follow-up to the beloved Fallon, who has been bumped up to “The Tonight Show” after Jay Leno’s departure. Despite Meyers’ deep and impressive comedic experience, critics worry that his unique style of delivery and sense of humor will be unappealing to young adults—who happen to be the target audience. However, Meyers silenced the doubters after his first episode pulled in 3.417 million viewers overall, a rather impressive feat for his first attempt as host.

Meyers opened his show with a monologue (typical of late night shows) and those who were fans of Meyers as co-host of “Weekend Update” will enjoy this bit. As expected, he joked about current events such as the Winter Olympics and Canadian politician Rob Ford.

However, there was a striking similarity between the styles and deliveries of each joke in Meyers’ monologue and his one-liners from his days as a “Weekend Update” anchor. For fans, this might not pose an issue at all, but for others, Meyers’ delivery might make his monologue seem contrived and less “conversational” when compared to other late-night hosts’ openers. Sophomore Amanda Glatz agreed with the latter, saying that Meyers, “should start branching away from the Weekend Update-style of line delivery” if he wants to have late-night success. Despite this, Meyers sets a nice, simple tone for the rest of his show.

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The “Corpse” in Pollak Theatre

Director Ben Popik brought his bizarre comedy film “The Exquisite Corpse Project” to Pollak Theatre last Thursday as part of the University’s ongoing series “On Screen, In Person,” where he screened the film and answered questions.

Popik was formally a member of the New York-based sketch comedy troupe Olde English, which he conceived back in 2002. The troupe is best known for their 2006 viral video “Ben Takes a Picture of Himself Every Day,” which stars Popik and currently has nearly 3 million hits on YouTube.

“The Exquisite Corpse Project,” Popik’s first feature film, is a documentary/comedy where five writers are challenged to each write 15 pages of a feature film after only reading the previous five pages of script. The film mainly focuses on the writers themselves in documentary style while also displaying the completed – though disjointed – final product. The film was released in 2012 and has won a number of awards, including Best Documentary and Best Director at the LA New Wave Film Festival.

The name “Exquisite Corpse Project” – according to the film – is derived from a party game wherein multiple people draw a different part of a figure on a folded piece of paper without knowing what the other parts look like.

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“American Idol” Winner Rocks Freehold

“American Idol” season 8 winner is unstoppable. Soulful pop singer, Kris Allen got the start of the weekend going at Encore Events Center in Freehold, NJ this past Friday night, Feb. 21. Allen made hundreds of his fans feel like they were in his living room with his setlist of new and old tunes.

Five years and even a broken arm later, he is still the down to earth guy he was shown to be on the popular reality tv show. Friday night, he even said that he wanted everyone to forget about what they had been going through or what had happened during the week and just enjoy the music for the night.

Allen opened with “Paul Simon.” As a new song, it was a risky but successful move. It got the crowd up and moving and the energy flowing in the room. “Better With You” was next, a popular song from his latest album “Thank You Camillia.” His strumming and vocals were one with perfection.

As the night went on, Allen and his fans continued to have more and more fun. He proved his “sweetheart” reputation when he sang “Happy Birthday” to multiple fans that were in the audience.

Along with his introduction of multiple new songs, Allen made sure he sang popular songs off both of his albums. Included were “Alright With Me,” “Out Alive,” “Monster,” and “Rooftops.” A few songs in, opening artist, Caroline Glaser, from NBC’s “The Voice,” accompanied him on his song “Loves Me Not.” Originally sung with singer-songwriter Meiko, Glaser did the job well and sang a beautiful duet with Allen. Their voices were simply soothing to the ear. Glaser is definitely someone to watch out for.

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Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” Takeover

For the first time in over 40 years, “The Tonight Show” is back in NY. The controversial move came after a succession of line-up changes by NBC, who finally announced last year that Jimmy Fallon would be replacing long-time host Jay Leno in late night television’s most coveted time slot. The “SNL” alumnou, famous for being one of the happiest people in Hollywood, was all smiles during his hugely-anticipated debut on Monday, Feb. 17.

Whether you are a fan of Fallon’s work or not, there is no denying that he is the embodiment of childlike humility. After making his inaugural entrance to tumultuous applause, he delivered many sentiments of gratitude, including a choked-up ode to his daughter Winnie, praise for his loyal band “The Roots,” and even a tongue-in-cheek reference to the previous hosts of the Tonight Show: “Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno.”

Though a case can be made that Fallon overdid his gratitude, his monologue was a classy way to introduce himself to viewers that may not be familiar with his stint on “Late Night.” Despite Fallon’s recent fame, this could be a very likely case; “The Tonight Show” had been hosted by Leno for almost two decades, and its built-in audience isn’t necessarily privy to Fallon’s goofy, impression-heavy sense of humor. If Fallon wanted to rise above the inevitable comparisons to his predecessor, he would have to use his unique comedic style to his advantage.

Fallon’s greatest strength undoubtedly lies in his physical bits, and he’s probably best known for dancing, rapping, and playing games with celebrities. In one of the most memorable moments of the night, Fallon invited Will Smith to take part in a musical montage about the history of hip-hop dance moves. Always one to play up pop culture, Fallon included references to Smith’s “Fresh Prince” days by doing ‘The Carlton,’ and even tried out the move made notorious by Miley Cyrus, the twerk.

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Hawk TV Originals

Check out some of Hawk TV’s original programming this Friday and Saturday.

What the Hawk

2:00 am | 11:00 pm

Shadow Showdown

1:35 am | 4:00 pm | 8:00 pm | 11:30 pm

Save Point

3:30 am | 3:30 pm | 10:00 pm


3:54 am | 7:00 am | 9:30 am | 10:30 am | 1:00 pm | 7:00 pm | 10:35 pm |

Good Morning Monmouth

4:30 am | 7:30 am | 10:00 am |


5:00 am | 1:28 pm | 2:00 pm | 9:00 pm

Weather You Heard

6:55 am | 10:55 am |7:55 pm


8:00 am | 11:00 am | 6:00 pm |

The Extra Point

8:20 am | 11:29 pm | 6:29 pm

Ace of Hearts


Valentine’s Day typically means roses, chocolates, wine, and a romantic comedy that will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling. However, Netflix has given its viewers something much better than the five dollar heart box of chocolates found in the “holiday” isles of CVS, instead we received the return of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his deliciously deceitful ways.

The second installment of the Netflix original series “House of Cards” gave its fans an emotional roller coaster. Throughout the first season, the Underwoods showed their thirst for power through the manipulation of multiple people, all of whom were so easily casted aside in order to move a step ahead.

With Frank’s deceiving plays, he was able to move from House Whip to the Vice Presidency within 13 episodes of the first season. Any fan will realize, while Vice Presidency is achieved, Underwood has not yet accomplished what he has set out to do. Readers forewarned those who wish to continue reading, there are plenty of spoilers ahead.

“Hunt or be hunted,” the famous words spoken by Underwood in his powerful monologue directed to his dedicated viewership, setting the tone and theme of what surely turned into a bloodcurdling second season.

The season began where season one left off, with the Underwood’s returning from their nightly run together. The opening image of misty night run emphasized the unity between the two characters, who are fierce and determined while they run, similar to how they pursue their growing powerful positions in the political scene.

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A large crowd gathered in Wilson Auditorium for the semester’s first visiting writer, the poet Marcus Wicker, on Feb. 11. Despite the cold and blustery weather, Wicker later remarked that a surprising amount of people had come out for the reading, thanking everyone for braving the elements to show their support. He was invited to campus as part of the African-American history month events taking place throughout campus.

Wicker is a Michigan-born African-American poet, 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship recipient and assistant professor of English at the University of Southern Indiana. His work has appeared in “Poetry,” “Beloit Poetry Journal,” “Ninth Letter” and “Crab Orchard Review.” Much of the work he read was from his debut book, “Maybe the Saddest Thing.”

The event began with a spirited introduction from Michael Waters, professor of English. Describing Wicker’s work as “action painting meets the pop of hip-hop” and his book as one that “crackles with intellectual and sexual electricity,” Waters lauded the visiting writer for his unique blend of audacity, imagery and humor.

Being a younger poet, much of his work was saturated with contemporary references and influenced by jazz and hip-hop. In some cases, this showed through the rhythm of his work, as many poems have an ebb-and-flow cadence that mimicked the break beat style he loves. Others, though were more direct, such as his “Everything I Know About Jazz I Learned from Kenny G.”

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“12 Years a Slave” Deserves 12 Oscars

As one would expect a film based on American History’s ugliest practice to be, “12 Years a Slave” is a gruesome, beguiling and unnerving experience that’s occasionally difficult to watch. What one might not expect, however, is that it’s one of the most artistic, beautiful, and exquisitely crafted films of last year, and it absolutely demands your attention.

Films about slavery have been done before, but few match the poise or the conviction director Steve McQueen utilizes in his gripping take on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir of the same name, bringing the era of slavery to life like never before. But what really makes “12 Years” stand out is it’s dueling, almost conflicting aesthetic blend of beauty and ugliness: One moment you’re taking in breathtaking shots of vast cotton fields and Southern landscapes, the next you’re cringing in your seat at depictions of horrific abuse and racism at its most destructive.

“12 Years” tells the story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) a free African American living in Saratoga, NY with his wife and two kids in the mid-19th century. An expert violinist, Northup one day encounters two dapper, eccentric entertainment moguls (Scoot McNairy and Taran Killam), who invite him to Washington, D.C. and offer him a job playing violin for two weeks, to which Northup enthusiastically accepts.

Unfortunately, Northup is deceived by these gentlemen, awaking in chains and on his way to Louisiana to be traded into slavery like a piece of livestock. Torn from his loved ones and stripped of any and all human rights, Northup endures backbreaking labor and abuse in the hands of a number of slave owners, from the surprisingly sympathetic to the outright tyrannical, with the hope that one day he may see his family again.

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Best Picture Breakdown

Oscar Special

All across movie theaters in 2013, audiences soared into space, bartered with pirates, flourished on Wall Street and even fell in love (with an operating system, of course). During what was arguably one of the best years for movies in recent memory, both new and old Hollywood talent collaborated to bring emotional, exciting, and entertaining stories to the big screen. The nine stand out films nominated by the Academy will battle it out for the coveted title of Best Picture on Mar. 2. How is the race shaping up? Here’s the breakdown:

Two films have been considered front runners since day one: “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity,” both of which focus on the triumph of the human spirit, but do so from unique perspectives.

“12 Years” tells the story of a free man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) sold into slavery in a pre-Civil War United States. The harrowing tale explores one of the darkest eras of our history, and has resonated with audiences and critics alike. Helmed by influential director Steve McQueen, the period piece is up for nine Oscars this season, including Best Supporting Actress (where breakout star Lupita Nyong’o is nominated for her stirring turn as a defiant slave) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

In the other corner stands “Gravity,” a technologically advanced piece about two astronauts (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney) and their fight for survival in outer space. Perhaps most impressive about Alfonso Cuaron’s thriller is his ability to tell a small story on such a large scale, a feat that will likely earn him the title of Best Director. This film has received nods in many tech categories and will also compete for Best Actress.

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Would Students Deport Bieber?

A “We the People” White House petition on deporting pop star Justin Bieber, 19, received over 240,000 signatures, which surpassed the 100,000 signatures threshold required for an official White House response.

Created on Jan. 23, the petition states, “We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture. We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nation’s youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society.”

The name Bieber is exploding in newspapers, tabloids, blogs, and social media sites across the nation for recently getting hammered with a DUI while drag racing, aggressively resisting arrest, double-teaming a stripper with his buddy, assaulting a limo driver in Toronto, and having his plane held in NJ after allegedly smelling like marijuana. Bieber is sliding head-first down a very slippery slope.

And thus, the petition to deport this mindless musician was born by the ingenious Michigan native Roger Skyrzynski who simply had enough of this blasphemy. Although originally intended to be a joke, this petition is no longer a joking matter.

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MU Celebrates Beatlemania

The University proved that Beatlemania is alive and well on Saturday at a day-long symposium titled, “Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles.” The event, which filled Wilson Hall, was sponsored by the University’s Center for Performing Arts, the Department of Music and Theatre Arts and the GRAMMY Museum. Participants listened to discussions, musical performances and some even had their brain activity mapped.

Dr. Stanton Green, Dean of Humanities, introduced the day by giving a little background on his own history with The Beatles. “[The Beatles] came into my life in 1963 when a friend showed up with a mop top and Beatles boots,” Green said. Even when he started college, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band could be heard from dormitory windows and he moved in for the first time.

The day featured a lot of this sort of reminiscing. Of course, the symposium was not just a walk down memory lane. Bob Santelli, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum, asked in his Keynote Address, “Why did we, literally, go crazy about them?”

While Santelli noted that the genius of John Lennon and Paul McCartney had a big hand in it, while every other panelist seemed to add reasons to the list.

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“Her” Redefines the Unconventional Love Story


Do not cross the line. This is the oldest story in the book. From the playground to the workplace, society has been advised to never cross the proverbial line. In an age where society is connected by a constantly evolving technology, it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish where the line actually exists. In fact, where is this new line and have we crossed it yet?

Director Spike Jonez, fresh off the success of “Bad Grandpa”, works in tandem with costume designer Casey Storm and production designer KK Barret to create the world that Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Pheonix) lives in. While many would expect a future Los Angeles to resemble something similar to the style of “The Matrix”, Theodore’s planet is eerily similar to today’s world. The major difference between Theodore’s world and our own is the complete advancement of technology. It becomes apparent that in Theodore’s world, social interaction amongst humans has become obsolete.

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“Gravity” Soars Beyond Expectations


Outer space has always been characterized by the dichotomy of inexplicable beauty and overwhelming terror. Director Alfonso Cuarón depicts the great unknown as such in his Oscar-nominated film, “Gravity,” using innovative 3D technologies to take his audiences on an otherworldly adventure. The film’s cinematography (done by visual expert Emmanuel Lubezki) is arguably the best of 2013’s lineup and succeeds in establishing realism in an otherwise fantastical story.

“Gravity” begins with simple statements on a black screen, providing the viewer with textbook information about space before Cuarón drives his point home, delivering a 12-minute long panoramic view of the Earth. The shot is captivating and instills in onlookers a real sense of weightlessness.

For those who prematurely believe that the film is nothing more than astronauts floating in space, these opening scenes may not show much potential. But much like one of the film’s prevailing themes, it’s worth sticking around for the ride - especially when a nearby shuttle just exploded.

The debris is headed towards a US shuttle where two astronauts are in the middle of conducting research when they receive word from Houston about the impending collision. Matt Kowalski is the veteran of the duo, played with an off-beat reverence by George Clooney. With him on this routine mission is Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer played by Sandra Bullock, who has no previous experience in a space suit but a ton of emotional baggage.

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New HBO Series is “Looking” Good

“It’s San Francisco. It shouldn’t be so hard to meet cool people in this town,” said charming Patrick (Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff), who’s trying to find the right guy for him and figure out what has gone wrong on his search. This solidifies the focal point of HBO’s new series “Looking”: looking for love as a gay man in San Francisco. With his best friends by his side, looking is only the start of their journey for a happy ever after.

Set in modern day San Francisco, Patrick is a 29-year-old successful video game developer along with his two best friends Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Dom (Murray Bartlett). All three of them are gay and are trying to figure out their love lives. Patrick wonders where he goes mistaken, due to a history of bad dates. Dom is approaching his forties, is still single and is saddened how he can no longer attract younger men with ease. Agustín, with his boyfriend are exploring whether to be monogamous or not.

The pilot episode, “Looking For Now,” opens with Patrick having an erotic encounter with a stranger in a park because he is desperate for companionship and love. He soon realizes that this isn’t his style. He has just been invited to his ex-boyfriend’s bachelor party, which triggers emotions of loneliness and wonder. He begins to question his dating life. Dom is hung up on his ex and Agustín is experiencing minor growing pains with his boyfriend. Anybody and everybody can relate to them and certain experiences of these characters already, no matter what their sexuality is.

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Grammy Winners

And the winners are....

Record of the Year: “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers

Album of the Year: “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk

Song of the Year: “Royals” by Lorde

Best New Artist: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Best Rock Album: “Celebration Day” by Led Zeppelin

Best Alternative Music Album: “Modern Vampires of the City” by Vampire Weekend

Best Rap Album: “The Heist” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: “Holy Grail” by Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake

Best Pop Vocal Performance: “Unorthodox Jukebox” by Bruno Mars

Best Country Duo/Group Performance: “From This Valley” by The Civil Wars

Best Dance Recording: “Clarity” by Zedd featuring Foxes

Producer of the Year: Pharrell Williams

Best Urban Contemporary Album: “Unapologetic” by Rihanna

Best R& B Song: “Pusher Love Girl” by Justin Timberlake

Best Rap Song: “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk Featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: “To Be Loved” by Michael Bublé

Best Rock Performance: “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons

Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media: “Sound City: Real to Reel”

Best R&B Album: “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys

Best Song Written For Visual Media: “Skyfall” by Adele

Best Rock Song: “Cut Me Some Slack” by Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic & Pat Smea

For a complete list of winners, check out




Kristi Hunt is one of the newest artists to be welcomed into the Blue Hawk Records family. The music major’s love of music started as a child in Marlboro, NJ.

“I used to put on shows where I would sing and dance for my family. Once I started attending school I was always involved in choir and I haven’t stopped since,” Hunt said.

Hunt loves pop music, and she admires the heavyweights of the pop world. “I’ve always been drawn to pop music that has a vocalist with a huge range. I’ve always admired Christina Aguilera for her vocals... Since I was about six years old I always wanted to sing like her and emulate her. I’m so impressed by the power and range of her voice. She keeps me motivated to practice my butt off!” Hunt said.

The senior was lucky enough to be in Applied Music Industry II and Applied Music Industry III, the classes that started the University’s record label. This fall, Hunt decided to audition to be an artist on the label. Obviously, it went pretty well.

At the release party for the label’s latest compilation, Hunt performed her own music for the first time. Hunt said, “I’ve performed all over, but the release party in Plangere was the first time I ever performed my own music. I was really nervous because I did not know how it would be recieved by my peers but it ended up being so much fun. A lot of people seemed to enjoy it and I definitely want to do it again.”

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“The Hobbit” Sequel Succeeds

Peter Jackson’s second installment of J.RR. Tolkien’s novel, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” follows a group of dwarves on a mission led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)to take back the lands that once belonged to the dwarves during their period of success, growth, and stability. Their homeland is demolished by the tyrannical dragon, Smaug (a CGI version of Benedict Cumberbatch) who uses his great size and strengths to destroy the land of Erebor, the kingdom of the Lonely Mountain, and acquire all its riches, leaving many slain.

Thorin, with the help of Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) the Grey Wizard, other dwarves, and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), treks into the Lonely Mountain in order to find the arkenstone—one of his most prized possessions lost among the riches Smaug claims in the Lonely Mountain

The film is filled with tremendous detail from the character’s personalities, which reflects Tolkien’s literary eloquence. The actors work well with that detail in order to make the story come alive and capture the audience’s attention. The visual effects make the hunt for the arkenstone all the more dangerous with the inflections in light in the Lonely Mountain and the drastic changes in color. The changes in color and light exemplify the unsettling fears of all people under Smaug, including Thorin and his pack. It also serves as a simple means of representing Smaug’s malevolent nature.

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“The Wolf of Wall Street” is Howlingly Good

The American Dream can mean a lot of different things, but to Jordan Belfort, the titular “wolf” in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” it’s quite simple: Getting rich and living large. But how far can one push the American Dream before it becomes a nightmare?

This is what director Martin Scorsese explores in his latest opus, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a stylish, fast-paced, and completely unforgettable romp through the greatest and most ridiculous excesses to come out of Wall Street that speeds through its three-hour run time in a pristine Lamborghini.

Set in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when everyone seemed to want a bite of Wall-Street’s cheddar, “The Wolf of Wall Street” tells the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a stock broker who started his own firm called Stratton Oakmont with a bunch of scoundrels in Long Island, employed some more than shady business practices, and yes, got insanely, deliriously rich in the process.

It’s sort of a rags-to-riches story, as Belfort’s humble beginnings and naïve attitude in the film’s beginning greatly contrast the ruthless, hedonistic monster he’d grow into, but “riches” feels like an understatement. In fact, what “The Wolf of Wall Street” does best is highlight just how rich he is, from the enormous pool parties to yachts with helicopters attached to all of the drugs and women in the world, to really paint the portrait of a man on top of the world. But wait, how does that old adage go? Oh yeah, what goes up….

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Disney’s “Frozen” Melts Hearts

When “Frozen” was first advertised last year, I’ll admit I was skeptical of what Disney was trying to accomplish with this film. With the exception of “Tangled” and “Toy Story 3,” the past few years of Disney films have not been a portrayal of their best work. Yet, “Frozen” was a pleasant surprise that gave me that same giddy feeling as when I watched other classics like “The Little Mermaid” or  “Beauty and the Beast” as a child.

Disney’s “Frozen” is the story about two sisters, Elsa and Anna, in the fictional Kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa was born with magical powers that allow her to create snow and ice with the wave of her hand. One day while the sisters are playing as children, Anna is accidentally injured by Elsa’s power.

She is healed, but all memory of Elsa’s power is erased from her memory. Because of this incident, Elsa is forced to suppress her powers and emotions from everyone except her parents. This leads to Elsa giving Anna the cold shoulder as she shuts her sister out in order to prevent Anna from being injured again.

The movie jumps to when the girls are fully grown on Elsa’s coronation day. The emotional stress from this event causes Elsa’s power to be revealed, and then she is shunned by the local townspeople who deem her power as witchcraft.

This causes Elsa to unintentionally create an eternal winter as she runs and hides in the snowy mountaintops outside the kingdom. With the help of mountain man Kristoff, potential husband Prince Hans, and a live snowman named Olaf, Anna now must face the cold weather and sister to restore order to Arendelle. 

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Earlier this semester, James Porricelli, also known as JP or JPiff, had an opportunity to perform a hip-hop set at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, the very venue where Bruce Springsteen earned his nickname “The Boss.”

Imagine looking out across a sea of people, all anxiously awaiting the musical compositions you’ve practiced repeatedly with angst and gusto, anticipating this very moment. But instead of looking in to the eyes of eager fans, your gaze cannot help but drift to the back wall that is covered in guitars autographed by notable musicians. Standing on the stage, you can feel the history that was created by artists such as Kiss, Cheap Trick, Jon Bon Jovi and Maroon 5. While the knowledge of playing in a legendary venue may give some stage fright, you’re more amped than ever.

Many artists forget the history of the club when they step on stage, but JP is serious about his music, so for him it is not just about having fun. After performing, JP stated, “...the whole time, my mind was just running down the list of all the famous people who’ve played there.” JP hopes this performance is just one in a slew that will lead him to eventually making a living from performing music like all of his Stone Pony predecessors.

Kyle Brendle, The Stone Pony house promoter, seems to believe that JP’s determination to keep improving will help him propel forward in the music industry, as he did during the battle of the bands performance. Brendle said, “JP ruled the Pony stage with great presence, the words flowed effortlessly and naturally. Determined and focused, new school hip-hop at its best, the crowd loved him.”

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Get Back in the Studio

If anything helped define the music landscape this year, it was the insane amount of high profile artist comebacks made throughout the year. From hugely popular artists like Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, and David Bowie to less popular (but no less important) music groups like My Bloody Valentine, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Boards of Canada, it seemed like nearly every artist any big music fan wanted to return to the scene either released an awesome new album or went on a big comeback tour.

Well, almost every artist. 2013 saw many huge comebacks in the world of music, but I still can’t help but think of a few more big names that haven’t reared their head in quite some time. Some of these artists haven’t released an album in decades, while others have often publicly decreed they’d never get back together, but after seeing so many big returns this year, it seems like just about anything is possible.

Will 2014 be the year these artists finally come out of hiding? We’ll just have to wait and see.


Surprisingly, this one may have actually beaten me to the punch. Andre 3000 and Big Boi, the two distinct halves of hip hop’s most eccentric duo Outkast, have been unofficially defunct for close to decade now, with their last album, “Idlewild,” being released back in 2006. But word has it that the duo are set to make a big return in 2014, with strong rumors of a tour and headlining set at Coachella currently in the wings.

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Matisyahu Makes Music at Monmouth

Rapper Matisyahu played Pollak Theater on Dec. 5.

When Brooklynite Matthew Paul Miller first burst onto the international music scene in the early 2000s, he was not known as Matthew Paul Miller at all—instead, by his Hebrew name Matisyahu, as a Hasidic reggae superstar. In a little under a decade, from his 2005 “Live at Stubb’s” album to this year’s “Spark Seeker,” so much has changed in Matisyahu’s personal and professional life.

While he might have changed his sound (“[Spark Seeker] is definitely pushing the boundaries of what I’ve done before,” he said.) and traded in his long beard and yarmulke for a clean shave and short, graying locks, one thing has remained the same along the way—his mission to provide youth of all backgrounds with interesting, inspirational music.

Matisyahu’s acoustic event, presenting his fourth studio album at Pollak Theater, was a testament to this. Humbly seated on a stool, armed with a microphone, and accompanied by a thumping bass, finger-picking acoustic guitar, and cello, Matisyahu delivered a powerful blend of reggae, hip-hop, and rock to the crowd for two hours. As if this mix were not distinct enough, he managed to make an incredible display of beatboxing for prolonged periods of time and at varying speeds through a majority of the set list.

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The Best and Worst of 2013 Pop Music

There’s a certain realm which exists in the world of music that both fascinates and disturbs me – a realm known as the radio. I’m not talking about niche stations or college radio (Go WMCX!), I’m talking about common, Top 40 playing, comes-in-crystal-clear-no-matter-where-you’re-driving radio.

My relationship with the radio is an odd one, as no matter what, my stance is never set in stone with it. Every year is the same: I hear a few songs that make me think we can be friends, and then I hear many, many more that make me want to file a restraining order. When will it end?

Not in 2013, certainly. As another year ends, let’s review the top 5 reasons why I love pop radio and the top 5 reasons why I mostly loathe it. Keep in mind for a song to make either list, it must have had significant radio play on Top 40 stations this year, so not every song from a popular artist will count (sorry Kanye, you’re still the man, though!).

Also, I decree there will be no Miley Cyrus on either list. That’s just too easy.

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On Friday Nov. 22, audiences filed into Pollak Theater to see Josh Ritter. First, however, was opening act Natalie Zeller. Zeller, a sophomore, played a 45 minute set to open for the distinguished singer/songwriter.

Zeller walked onstage with her acoustic guitar and a smile. She said, “I’m so honored to be here. I was going to be here anyway tonight to see Josh Ritter, so this worked out.”

The music industry major first sang a song called “Bipolar” and said, “Sing along if you know it.” Zeller definitely had some fans there as audience members were heard singing along to the track (which was featured on the first Blue Hawk Records compilation CD).

Zeller really liked audience participation. She asked audience members to clap with the beat many times over the night. It kept concert goers interested, even if they weren’t familiar with her music.

The Blue Hawk Records artist also played a song that is on the newest compilation from the record label. Zeller talked to the audience about recording “Twisted,” a long process. She said, “It was 10 and a half hours in the studio, but I’m not complaining at all.” The compilation CD came out Dec. 2 on iTunes.

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“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Lights a Spark at the Box Office

This weekend, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” had the largest Thanksgiving box office on record, earning over $110 million from Wednesday to Sunday. The movie got into record books, but did it stay true to the book that it is adapted from? I’m a book lover, which often makes me hate movies. Every once in a while, though, there is an adaptation like “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” that makes a perfect transition from page to screen.

“Catching Fire” starts just a little while after the credits rolled in the first movie. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have settled into their new mansions in Victor’s Village after managing to win The 74th Annual Hunger Games.

They head out on their victory tour where they have to face the families of those they killed in the Games. They see the people revolting against the government, despite Katniss putting forth her best effort to pretend she supports President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the government in the Capitol.

This is where “The Hunger Games” really shines as a movie and book series. Katniss does not try to be a hero or lead a revolution against the government. She just wants to protect the people she loves. Snow knows that the people see Katniss as a symbol of revolution though. So he wants to figure out a good way to kill her. Thus, The 75th Annual Hunger Games puts only previous winners in the competition.

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Fifty Years of Flying Through Time and Space

Television’s longest running sci-fi adventure series, “Doctor Who” celebrated its 50th Anniversary this past weekend in a special episode to commemorate the occasion.

The series started in England in 1963 and ran consistently until cancellation in 1989. The show kept going by having the main character, the Doctor, regenerate every time he died, allowing a new actor to take over the role. A 1996 made-for-television movie attempted to revive the series but didn’t see much success. Finally, in 2005, the show was brought back and welcomed into the lives of a whole new generation of fans (or Whovians, as they like to call themselves).

BBC America aired the special at the same time England was broadcasting it, which allowed fans to watch at 2:50 pm. It was definitely worth a Saturday afternoon. “The Day of the Doctor” brings back some familiar faces in what may be one of the Doctor’s greatest adventures through time and space.

During the last day of the Time War, the Doctor (John Hurt), faces a decision that will impact him for the rest of his life: the destruction of his home planet as well as the Time Lord race.

After the Doctor steals the universe’s most destructive and powerful weapon, the Moment, the interface system appears in the form of Bad Wolf Girl (Billie Piper) in an attempt to provide judgment for the deployment of the device.

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No Applause for Lady Gaga’s “ARTPOP”

Lady Gaga is one of those artists who packs a pop powerhouse punch and constantly outdoes herself. She has proven herself worthy of a pop icon title in a few short years and is now releasing her fourth album, “ARTPOP.” As a mega fan of hers, it isn’t fun to admit this, but “ARTPOP” has put a pause in her platinum streak.

I’ve always been a huge fan of hers, from her creative style to her authentic pop songs and more. I have had the pleasure of seeing her twice in concert where the woman surely can sing her heart out and dance like her life depends on it. I even saw her on the VMA red carpet, where news anchors shouted “Lady Gaga!” with joy as she walked by. She is a genuine talent and each album (“The Fame,” “The Fame Monster” and “Born This Way”) kept upping the pop genre’s game.

One thing that Gaga has done superbly throughout each album has been her ability to synthesize pop gems that not only have become dance anthems, but keep you singing all day long. “ARTPOP” hits a steep, downward slope however. It doesn’t have the same magic as seen in her previous albums and suffers from a strong lack of effort. Many of the songs included on this disc are disappointments.

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Book history scholar John B. Hench delivered a lecture entitled “Never Far From Books,” for students and faculty in Wilson Hall last Wednesday to educate on the growing and changing field of book studies.

Hench, 70, now retired, was the Vice President Emeritus for Collections and Programs at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS), a national research library of pre-twentieth century American historical literature. Hench is also the author of the book “Books as Weapons: Propaganda, Publishing, and the Battle for Global Markets in the Era of World War II,” as well as an avid book collector with a collection of over 1,500 pieces of literature.

This was the second annual event in the lecture series “Ink and Electricity: Advancing Liberal Learning in the Digital Age,” which was sponsored by the Humanities Department at Monmouth University. The event was free of charge and open to the public.

Students and faculty packed into the intimate yet ornately decorated and gold-trimmed Wilson Hall room, filling every elegant leather chair in the process and then some. Dr. Kristin Bluemel, Wayne D. McMurray-Helen Bennett Endowed Chair in the Humanities and professor of English, coordinated the event and gave a brief introduction before the lecture began.

Hench, who was accompanied by a large stack of worn, yellow-tinted books, took a highly autobiographical approach to his lecture. He shared with the audience how his father’s prized book collection, his studies at Lafayette College and Clark University, and many years of work for the American Antiquarian Society influenced his passion for collecting and researching books and book history.

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“Thor: The Dark World” Brings the Hammer Down

The Nordic god Thor is back again with the release of “Thor: The Dark World.” After the events that happened in New York in “The Avengers,” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard to face his father (Anthony Hopkins), Odin, and prove he is worthy of the throne.

The question on most people’s minds going into this movie is what will happen with Thor and Jane (Natalie Portman)? As you remember, Jane is the girl that Thor fell in love with before he had to return to Asgard to deal with Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Do not worry! This will be addressed in “Thor: The Dark World” and there will be more barriers in Thor’s way. Thor will have to deal with new conflicts and fight an old enemy.

Along with the ongoing problem with what to do with Loki, Thor states that he had learned to not trust him or give him any more chances. Unfortunately, a problem arises that is not Loki’s fault and Thor needs to fix this or Loki will be the least of his problems. In fact, Thor will need Loki’s help in order to deal with this new threat.

Thor’s adopted brother, Loki, is back because they just cannot seem to get rid of him. Loki has to be judged by Odin and punished for what he did in New York. Thor’s reluctance to completely stop trusting Loki may prove to be a problem for Thor in the end.

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Students Shine in “The Laramie Project”

It was a cold winter night when the Department of Music and Theatre Arts produced Moises Kaufman’s play, “The Laramie Project” on Thursday, Nov. 8. Rest assured, the audience’s mood in the Lauren K. Woods Theatre was quite the opposite.

This particular production follows Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project as they conducted hundreds of interviews with the people from Laramie, WY following the fatal beating of homosexual, University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard.

Many of the selected interviews range from eye-witness accounts to those affected personally by Matthew’s death. This analytical, yet touching perspective play examines the social and moral ramifications of the beating while delving into more widespread, controversial topics, which includes the obscene social stigma directed towards homosexuals. The cast, comprised of University students, carefully crafts the narrative through each individual’s interpretation of the interviewees.

To some, the subject matter that the production is based upon may make it seem a little dark and discomforting. That’s the beauty of the actor’s interpretation, the personalities in the play are portrayed as stereotypical and over-zealous to alleviate the seriousness. One particular character, named Doc O’Connor, played by junior Brandon Wiener, brings some humor to the stage as the elderly, east coast accented cab driver who babbles about the beauty of the mid-west while wearing his trademark flat cap. In regard to comedic content, his ability to work the audience is gold.

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PlayStation 4: More Than Just Video Games

For those of you keeping up with the video game industry, this year has surely been an exciting one. Next week marks the launch of the PlayStation 4 (PS4), Sony Computer Entertainment’s fourth home video game console in its PlayStation line of products.

Launching Nov. 15th, eager PlayStation fans will be lining up to storefronts the night (or day) before, hoping to secure their own console and games.

Sony has high expectations for their new console, with sales expected to exceed five million units by the end of the company’s fiscal year on March 31, 2014. This is the biggest system launch to come since the release of the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 in late 2006.

Pre-order numbers for PS4 are much greater than past consoles, with millions of people (including myself) ordering at either online or in-store locations; this is even more sweet due to the $400 price tag, an unexpected move from Sony. Many industry analysts anticipated the system to launch at $500, so the cheaper price point is much appreciated.

If you are interested in the system and did not secure your own pre-order, fear not! During an interview on “Fox Business,” Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Jack Tretton reassured fans “We’re holding back some inventory to make sure people have an opportunity to buy one, come launch day…. Production yields have been phenomenal.”

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Justin Timberlake Rocks IZOD Center

Justin Timberlake grooved his way to the hearts of thousands of fans at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ for the second date of his solo “20/20 Experience World Tour” on Saturday, Nov. 11. With his slicked-back hair, Christian Louboutin flats, Tom Ford designed suits, playful charm and impeccable musical ability, Timberlake embraced the essence of the ‘30s and swooned the crowd from 9 pm until midnight.

By not having to share the stage alongside rap-sensation Jay-Z with their “Legends of the Summer Tour,” Timberlake seized the opportunity to individually embody what it meant to be an entertainer.

The Weeknd opened for Timberlake on a smaller, front-facing stage with his “reign of seduction,” as fans like to say, starting at 8 pm. His intoxicating melodies and flawless vocal arrangements were displayed in songs including “Wicked Games,” “The Morning,” and “Remember You.” The Weeknd’s dark and damaged lyrics resonated with some of the deeper, post break-up songs that were scattered throughout Timberlake’s performance, including “What Goes Around… Comes Around.”

Timberlake’s flirty and suave performance opened up with “Pusher Love Girl,” a single off of The 20/20 Experience. His voice graced the crowd, free of any strain, while his dance moves upheld an equal rhythmic elegance.

Timberlake showcased his abilities by playing the keyboard and guitar while singing along simultaneously.

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Arcade Fire’s “Reflecktor” Explores Genres

Where does “indie rock” end and “freakin’ huge rock band” begin? For Arcade Fire, the biggest little band in the world right now, you could argue multiple points. Some might say it’s selling out Madison Square Garden (twice), and others would argue winning Album of the Year at the Grammy’s is the point of no return. Which one is it?

Well, neither. The real tipping point – the moment where Arcade Fire really embraced being larger than life – is “Reflektor,” the group’s flashiest, grandest, and most bloated album to date. And guess what? It’s awesome for it!

“Big” is nothing new for a group like Arcade Fire. The band’s penchant for diverse instrumentation and fitting as many band members as you can on one stage certainly doesn’t scream modest, and their albums, from their profound, genre-defining debut “Funeral” to their Grammy-winning achievement “The Suburbs,” exhibited emotional and musical maximalism at its most sincere.

Yet when Arcade Fire goes the distance on “Reflektor,” their genre-bending, meticulously produced new double-album,  it feels different than it did in the past.  Arcade Fire’s previous work had a sort of underdog-level grandness to them, like this “little” indie band was pushing itself as far as they can go and constantly beating the odds to achieve greatness.

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Students Tackle Real-Life Tragedy in Fall Play

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the tragedy against a member of the LGBT community, Matthew Sheppard, which took place in Laramie, Wyoming. In recognition of the anniversary, The Department of Music and Theatre Arts presents “The Laramie Project” as this year’s fall play.

“The Laramie Project” is a collection of interviews, gathered by members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, of family members, friends, neighbors, and more that were affected in some way by Matthew Sheppard’s death. The play was written by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Company. The play is brought to Monmouth by director Dr. John Burke, professor of Theatre Arts.

When picking the play, Dr. Burke not only did it due to the anniversary date, but he had his actors’ benefit in mind. He said, “It’s a very different style of acting that [the students] haven’t experienced, and they should have a chance at it.”

Dr. Burke has also taken on the challenge of working with a very big cast. Fourteen students will perform the 60 roles in the play, and whether big or small, each are a totally different character that the students will have to portray as their own. Burke said, “Every one of these characters gives you another perspective on what happened, and some of them give you a real sense of tragedy…and some of them give you a sense of prejudice that is still in the town.”

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Daring Docu-series Deals With Death

“She’s like not breathing and she’s blue and like stiff and like f***ing dead,” Nicole, a 25 year old woman, said to the 911 operator asking why she thinks her mother is dead.

This is the abrupt opening of Showtime’s new documentary series, “Time of Death.” If you’re looking for a good cry, this mini-series will do the trick. The premiere alone was hard to watch (I had to stop multiple times), but it’s amazing. Each episode follows two terminally ill people.

Every week we see Maria, a middle aged woman with three children and stage IV breast cancer. Statistically, Maria is alive well after what science would predict. She mentioned, “Don’t believe everything you read” after citing that the American Cancer Society predicts that someone in her position has about 18 months to live. She has survived four years with her diagnosis. It almost makes a viewer feel hopeful until you remember that no one on this show is getting a happy ending.

Each episode also follows a secondary person whose storyline is contained to just one episode. The premiere follows Michael, 47, a war veteran diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer usually found in pediatric patients. While Maria doesn’t look sick to the unsuspecting stranger, Michael is pale and gaunt, restricted to a wheel chair and forced to have a nasal cannula (a tube under his nose) for oxygen.

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Blue Hawk Records Fundraises Online

While some were trick or treating on Oct. 31, Blue Hawk Records was launching an online campaign to raise funds to record a new album. Bake sales are fun, but Blue Hawk Records, the University’s very own record label, realized there might be a slightly cooler way to raise money. The young label has been campaigning on to raise $500 for a new album.

Crowd sourced fundraising websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been proven to be successful, especially for artists trying to fund creative projects. Artists make a video selling their product and then ask for donations. Donors receive perks established by the artist, which can be anything from a free download to a personal concert.

Browsing through Indiegogo is kind of like watching an explosion of creativity. It’s just a collective of creative people with numerous ideas, all of which need funding.

Some artists are famous, such as We the Kings, a band who used Indiegogo to raise almost $150,000 for their fourth studio album (and first independent release).

Plenty are far from famous and just raise money based on a cool idea: Robert Morrison is a New York businessman who managed to fund his idea for wireless, waterproof speakers called Rebel Speakers.

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Katy Perry Spreads Light Through “Prism”

Katy Kats all around the country were roaring with excitement last Tuesday, Oct. 22. Katy Perry released her third album, “Prism,” in hopes of showing her fans a more vulnerable and mature side.

Perry is shedding her bubblegum, cotton-candy image that she created for herself with her 2010 album, “Teenage Dream,” to show everyone she is growing up and to spread the light of positivity.

Some may be sad that she burned her blue wig, but this is the Katy we’ve all been waiting for. She’s finally living in the present and acting her age.

“Teenage Dream” debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, and it became the first album ever by a woman to have five number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Can she top it?

According to Billboard, “Katy Perry is on course for her second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as her latest release, ‘Prism,’ should easily top the tally next week with her best sales week ever.”

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Web Series Worth Watching

YouTube is a myriad of things to watch, from cats playing the piano to the philosophical argument of what sound a fox makes. However, scripted web series have been making a lot of waves in recent years. Figuring out what’s worth watching in the crazy smorgasbord of YouTube can be tough, though. So here the scripted series worth watching on YouTube.

1. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Guys, it won an Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. A YouTube web series without any famous names won one of the highest honors in television. Needless to say, this retelling of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” has caused a lot of waves all over the internet.

Lizzie Bennet is now a twenty-first century communications student who created a vlog as part of her thesis project. Through the vlog, she tells us about her life. Lizzie reenacts scenes from her life with her sisters and friends, telling viewers about her crazy mother and her obnoxious new neighbor, William Darcy. It’s smart, funny and heartwarming.

2. WIGS This is technically not an individual series but an entire channel of fantastic scripted web series, to the point where I can’t just pick out one. Sometimes you can tell when a channel has a lot of money. When a channel has names like Jennifer Garner, America Ferrera and Anna Paquin, you know someone is definitely funneling a lot of money into this. This leads to professional quality, though.

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An Evening with Jake Shimabukuro and Keller Williams

The stage was lit up by dim, blue lights, and held a few guitars, a rug, and a loop tool machine. This was the setup for Keller Williams, when he and Jake Shimabukuro co-headlined at Pollack Theatre on Friday, Oct. 25.

The theater was about half full, with an audience that ranged from freshman college students to middle age adults. A lot of the audience members wore Hawaiian shirts or puca-shell necklaces, which fit with the atmosphere due to the headliner being famous for playing the ukulele. When I heard that the main act was famous for strumming the playful Hawaiian instrument, I assumed that the concert would be very chill and possibly a bit boring. I was completely wrong.

Williams walked barefoot onto the stage while playing his acoustic guitar and went on to play two songs. At the end of the second song, he introduced us to the glue of his entire act: his loop machine. A loop machine is a device that can record multiple instruments at a time and play it back to create layers for the song. Williams did this for us live on stage. His ability to use the loop machine was extremely unique, as were his songs.

Williams showed that he has a great sense of humor when one of his songs started with a loud “Oh no! I just remembered I left a doobie in my pocket…” His songs also consisted of a wide vocal range, although the higher notes were a bit pitchy at points. He used the levels of his voice as sound effects in later songs by using the amazing machine.

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Rapid Fire Recommendations

You’ve got 3 papers, a group project and 800 pages of reading. So I’ll try not to be offended that you don’t want to read 700 words on why an album was awesome or crap-tastic. To make your life easier, here is a quick list of songs you should be listening to.

“Going to Hell” by The Pretty Reckless is a rock song will definitely up the creepy factor if you’re looking to set the mood for Halloween.

“Sweater Weather” by The Neighborhood hit the alternative charts in the summer, but now it feels seasonally appropriate. Maybe that’s why it started to appear on mainstream charts.

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Student Spotlight: Sal Mastrangelo and Dan Robinson

If you take a walk across campus on any given night, you may catch freshman Sal Mastrangelo and junior Dan Robinson jamming out in the underpass that connects the academic side of campus to the residential side, a place they consider to have the best acoustics. Having grown up in musical families, the two cousins were bound to be musicians.

As children, both boys were forced to take piano lessons, and they didn’t enjoy it at all. Yet as they continued to learn how to play, their love for music grew.

Reminiscing, Robinson talked about how, as a surfer, he has always loved the beach, but his mother would make him take his piano lessons before he could go to the beach. What once seemed a punishment to him soon grew into a passion.

As the boys grew older, their involvement in music grew as well. Mastrangelo began playing the drums his freshman year of high school, and he is currently learning guitar.

Robinson began playing guitar about a year ago, and started singing about half a year ago.

The boys come from a close-knit family, so they have always had a good relationship, but their bond became stronger because of their love for music.

“That sealed the deal,” joked Mastrangelo.

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“Carrie” Is not Very Scary

We can all agree that being a high school student is tough. It is hard enough dealing with relationships, schoolwork, and finding your own identity. Then throw in telekinetic powers, a vengeful queen bee, and a religious fanatic for a mother and you have entered the world of Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz).

As a fan of horror movies, I was disappointed with this updated version of Stephen King’s novel “Carrie” which has been transported from the seventies to today’s society.

Director Kimberly Peirce said in an article from The New York Times that she “wanted to get inside this girl’s journey. And particularly her bond with her mother, which was huge for me.”

However, there are weird camera angles that made certain scenes appear, for a lack of a better word, awkward and brought me out as a viewer. For example, there are multiple times when the camera is facing upward, getting a lovely shot of Carrie’s nostrils instead of her face during key moments when she is breaking ground in her character development. Those points were made to be point-of-view to create the fly-on-the wall effect, but it did not achieve that goal.

Overall the plot moved at a decent pace. There were some stagnant scenes that were not featured in the original, which helped the plot move fluidly. However, most of the film seemed a little too light-hearted leading up to a few gory moments that left me nauseous, more than they left me on the edge of my seat. The comedic scenes did break up the little suspense the film had, but this movie felt more like a sequel to “Mean Girls” than a horror flick.

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Julian Sands Celebrates Harold Pinter

Julian Sands spoke at Pollak Theatre on Friday Oct. 18. The renowned actor presented “A Celebration of Harold Pinter,” his own lecture on the famous playwright.

Sands has been in Oscar nominated movies such as “A Room with a View” and various television shows, including “Smallville” and “Dexter.”

It’s easy to see why there would be a celebration of Pinter. The English playwright and actor won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.

Sands referred to him as the “defining dramatist of the twenty-first century” (though Sands mentioned that, according to Pinter’s widow, Pinter would have given that title to Samuel Beckett). Pinter is definitely considered one of the great playwrights of the era, having written 29 plays and having won countless awards (including a Tony).

Sands came onstage in his suit to a stage that was almost entirely bare, with the exception of a small table with some books and notes for Sands to read from. Sands rarely read from his books and notes. He would hold them up, but mostly, he had the material memorized.

Sara Rimassa, junior English and education major, really enjoyed this aspect of the performance. Rimassa said, “I thought he was great. I mean, he’s so dynamic and just the way he read. I thought, personally, that he was just going to be reading from paper, but he was almost acting and engaging with us personally. It made the time fly by.

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Adult Swim Provides Adult Laughs

“Ladies and gentleman, it’s the ERIC ANDRE SHOW!” Consider these first urgent lines more of a warning for you to brace yourself than an introduction, as this latest Adult Swim (a section of Cartoon Network) oddity is one of the most chaotic, surreal, and captivatingly bizarre shows on television today.

Debuting last year and recently entering its second season, “The Eric Andre Show” is, like much of Adult Swim’s original programs, comedy not for the faint hearted, and last week’s episode, “Lou Ferrigno; Downtown Julie Brown,” was a perfect testament to the show’s dedication to outlier comedy.

Brought to you by the same production company behind the brilliant, divisive “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!,” “The Eric Andre Show” compares heavily to its predecessor with its jarring, occasionally gross-out take on comedy, but differs by focusing itself more into a late night talk show parody centered on the outrageousness of its titular host and dazed, straight-man sidekick, Hannibal Buress (who himself is a rising star in the world of stand-up comedy).

But this is less like a David Letterman/Jimmy Fallon kind of talk show and more like some strange, public access project where the cast thinks nobody is watching as the show slips into unorganized chaos quickly. On the set of “The Eric Andre Show,” nothing is off-limits, and practically nothing is impossible.

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The Outlook’s Top 5 Women Who Rock

There are few things I love more than a good rock band with a woman on lead. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the era of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the Spice Girls’ “girl power” trend or maybe it’s just because I wish I was a rockstar. Either way I really love girls who rock, so why not share my top 5? They might not be on the level of Stevie Nicks and Joan Jett yet, but they’ll get there one day.

1. Gwen Stefani has more recently been in the spotlight for her pop career and her fashion line, but she is coming back to rock music with No Doubt. When the band went on a reunion tour in 2009, Stefani performed all of their high energy hits without missing a beat. It was like they hadn’t taken a break at all.

Stefani is what makes No Doubt different. The Orange County native is pretty, but tough (her arms rival Michelle Obama’s). Her voice sounds like no one else, which makes it perfect for the blend of rock and ska that No Doubt plays. Her style creates trends that extend beyond the world of music and into the world of Vogue. The boys of No Doubt definitely have talent, but Gwen Stefani is what makes people look at them. The fact that she can still do all of this after 20 years of playing music is pretty amazing.

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Student Spotlight: Alexis Fox

How London Brought Out One Student’s Inner Rockstar

Senior Alexis Fox is an English education major who has been singing for as long as she can remember. She first picked up the guitar when she was 12 years old. Fox said, “I actually traded in my elementary school grade clarinet for it! It was a left-handed guitar, but for some reason it was strung right handed, and that kind of just stuck.” Since then, Alexis has started writing her own songs and giving live performances.

Fox wrote her first song when she was in the sixth grade after starting a band with some friends. Fox explained, “We’d write our own lyrics and come up with tunes, and then sing them along with karaoke versions of other songs. It didn’t last very long.”

When asked about what initially inspired her to begin writing her own songs, Fox stated, “I just wanted to have my own music to sing along to. I wanted to be able to create something instead of just copy what’s already been done.”

Despite writing her own music, Fox never really performed live, “I’d only really played in front of people I knew and, generally, only with covers. I’d been writing songs for quite a while, but I’d never felt confident enough in them to bring them out into the open.” But all this changed during Fox’s study abroad trip to London during her sophomore year at the University.

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“American Horror Story” Thrills

“When witches don’t fight, we burn,” says a deliciously dark Fiona Goode (played with excellency by Jessica Lange). This statement alone assures the audience that they’re in for a magical and wicked good time for “American Horror Story: Coven,” the third season in the hit anthology series. With each season comes a new theme of fantasy and real horrors, and this time around, the witches of Louisiana are here to cast a spell on you.

It’s modern day New Orleans and after discovering that she is a witch possessing a unique bloodline (traced back to the Salem Witch Trials), Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) is sent to Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. It’s a mysterious school where she encounters three other young witches, who too possess magical powers and this bloodline.

It’s not long before the “Supreme” witch Fiona Goode returns to warn them that witches are in danger and that they need to be prepared. After flashing back to New Orleans 1834 with torturous, slave-dweller Madame Delphine LaLaurie (played by a sheer evil Kathy Bates), Goode looks to the past, in order to help their future against voodoo and its Queen.

Without an exceptional cast, then this show would fall flat. Luckily, “American Horror Story: Coven” delivers in episode one, entitled “Bitchcraft,” with excellent acting by the actors, who bring the terror to the small screen. In the first episode alone, there are three standout performances already, and they are here to scare you.

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“Romeo and Juliet”: A New Take on an Old Tale

With so many adaptations of Shakespeare’s classic tale, there was a sense of skepticism as I watched this new version of “Romeo and Juliet.” However, director Carlo Carlei and screenwriter Julian Fellowes were able to breathe some new life into this tired, old love story by creating an authentic piece that not only Shakespeare himself would be proud of, but would also entertain hopeless romantics of the twenty-first century.

In fair Verona is where we lay our scene, Douglass Booth and Hailee Steinfeld play the famous star-crossed lovers of Romeo and Juliet. The on-screen chemistry between the actors was well done and was captured in a different manner.

In other adaptations with pairings such as Leonadro DiCaprio and Claire Danes or Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, the connection seemed overly dramatic or purely emphasized on the lustful passion the young couple was allegedly supposed to share.

However, Steinfeld and Booth interacted with a genuine naïve nature that warms the heart. Steinfeld maintains an incredibly sweet demeanor as Booth chases after her with a delightful goofy boyish charm, which is a nice contrast from the self-pitying Romeo that has been played by other actors.

The main characters are supported by an all-star cast including actors Paul Giamatti who plays wise Friar Laurence and Ed Westwick from “Gossip Girl” who plays Juliet’s enraged cousin Tybalt. The only real problem with Giamatti’s performance was that he did not have a British accent consistently throughout the movie. It might not seem like a deal breaker, but it brought me out of the movie as the vernacular speech wavered in and out while he spoke.

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Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz” is Filled with Snoozers

Miley Cyrus: America’s first living, breathing hashtag, and her disjointed Twitter feed of an album, “Bangerz,” make me fear that the impatient excesses of the smart phone age have finally caught up to us. I fear that people, especially celebrities, can now trade their humanity for cheap, hyper-modern personas tailored to fill social media pages.

Until now, I found it best to just ignore the Miley-madness that has swept the nation since her cringe-worthy VMA performance. Like most people who just so happened to be watching that night, I reacted pretty harshly to the performance, feeling every bit of humiliation and awkwardness Miley probably should have been feeling and praying for just one second she’d put that damn tongue away.

However, I quickly got over it when I soon realized what all of this was: Another pop singer’s contrived, misguided attempt at reinventing herself as “edgy” to get as many people talking as possible – and it really worked. Why do most pop singers even do things like this in the first place? To sell albums, of course!

I really don’t have a huge problem with musicians pursuing some sort of persona to tie in with their music. From Bob Dylan’s “drifter/poet” image to Kanye West’s top-of-the-world arrogance, popular artists have often presented themselves in very particular ways as a method of underscoring the philosophy behind their music – and in those cases, with excellent results.

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Justin Timberlake Overload?

Maybe it’s just me, but after two smash hit singles, a massive hit of a comeback album, frequently appearing in commercials, guest-appearing in a mediocre Jay Z song and a VMA performance/tribute that made the man appear as a god amongst mere mortals, I began to think that maybe we’ve had enough Justin Timberlake for one year.

Not to say that it hasn’t been a pretty good ride. “The 20/20 Experience,” for all its excesses, is still one of the sharpest and most dazzling pop records in recent memory, and though I’d love to go a day without hearing one of them, “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors” are still pretty great singles. And yes, I was hit with a few nostalgic warm fuzzies watching JT reunite with *NSYNC for all of two minutes.

But what’s this? Another Justin Timberlake record? The second piece of the puzzle nobody even knew was missing? I don’t really see what more JT had to prove this year, but I’ll bite. “The 20/20 Experience,” after all, is still pretty great, and seeing as how these were all recorded in the same session, so it’s just more of a good thing, right?

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A Typical “First Date”

Girl and boy meet. Girl and boy hate each other. Girl and boy fall in love, despite their initial first impressions. You’ve seen the plot of “First Date” before. Chances are you’ve seen it way too often. Playwright Austin Winsberg didn’t come up with anything new. That doesn’t mean “First Date” isn’t worth seeing though.

The musical premiered on Broadway in July after its world premiere in Seattle last year. It centers on a blind date between Aaron (Zachary Levi) and Casey (Krysta Rodriguez). Aaron has just gotten out of a serious relationship and is on his first blind date ever while Casey dates frequently and doesn’t get tied down often. Casey is the artistic, indie type while Aaron is a clean-cut businessman. At first they don’t think they like each other, but that’s only their first impression.

Okay, it’s predictable. You know that this is ending with a big kiss and an implied happily ever after, but the way there is fun. “First Date” makes jokes out of all the awkward topics of first dates: awkward pauses, bringing up the ex, looking each other up on the internet. Google is probably the best reference. When Casey discovers Aaron looked her up before hand, she searches for him on her smartphone. Let’s just say that hellfire comes with it, and it’s hysterical.

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Theo Katzman played The Studio at Webster Hall to a full house on Saturday Oct. 5. The show wrapped up his “Why Not” Tour in New York City after touring around the Northeast and Midwest through most of September.

Theo Katzman is a New York-based musician who graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in jazz studies. While in Michigan, he was a part of My Dear Disco with Michelle Chamuel (she was runner up on the last season of NBC’s “The Voice”). His album “Romance Without Finance” was released in 2011, and he released the first single off his next album, “Pop Song,” in September.

The crowd was comprised of a lot of young women. It’s not like Katzman isn’t attractive, but nothing about him or his music makes one immediately think of him as a teenage girl magnet. It’s less surprising when you discover that Katzman has spent a lot of time opening up various shows for “Glee” star Darren Criss, including every show on Criss’ summer “Listen Up” Tour.

Joey Dosik opened the show with a handful of songs from his EP, “Where Do They Come From?,” and unreleased album.

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Student Spotlight: Taylor Hope

Sophomore Taylor Hope is more than just the average musician from Sayreville, NJ. She is double-majoring in math and music here at Monmouth University. At only 19, she has already opened up for big stars such as Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw, played a solo at Carnegie Hall, and had Bruce Springsteen himself come and watch her entire solo set.

Hope started playing the violin when she was only 5 years old, but had the interest a couple years before. Hope said, “I wanted to [start playing] at 3. I saw a violinist playing in the park when I was little, and I loved the sound of it.”

Like any normal parents, they did not believe that their 3 year old would actually continue with such a delicate instrument. Hope explained, “[My Parents] bought me a fake violin, but I was like ‘No! I want a real one!’”

It was actually a teacher at her school that confirmed her desire to play, although that was not his intention. Hope said, “There was this teacher who taught third graders and up, and he said ‘Bring her in, she’ll be too intimidated and won’t want to play’…and after the first time he said, ‘Get her a violin.’” So persistence paid off for toddler Taylor, and her parents finally gave in and bought a real violin.

Her musical talents do not just stop at the violin. Over the years, Taylor has learned how to play the piano, guitar, and the mandolin. She also enjoys singing while playing on her multiple instruments.

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Web Exclusive: No Strings Attached: “Puppeteer” Deserves Your Attention

It seems like “Puppeteer” couldn’t have been released at a worse time. With only a couple of months left before the new consoles release and the highest grossing videogame of all time on shelves, who would give the time of day to a quirky little game from Sony Japan? However, the novelty of running over pedestrians while listening to Queen only lasts so long. In order to fight off the tyranny of boredom, a hero needs to rise from the ashes of the giant that was the last console generation. “Puppeteer” is out there, fighting the good fight, and it is about time that it got the recognition it deserves.

“Puppeteer” is a side-scrolling action platformer with a unique twist: the game takes place inside a theatre. Curtains open and close as a scene begins or ends, the audience laughs at a joke or gasps at hair-raising moments and a brilliant narrator provides context to the story. A colorful group of characters are made more memorable by the fact that they are technically actors playing a role. Occasionally, they are too over dramatic and incite the other performers, get into quips with the narrator or forget their lines. While the humor is hit or miss, these moments help to cement the theatre setting.

The narrator is one of “Puppeteer’s” biggest triumphs. Narration is something rarely done in videogames due to the high amount of voice overs necessary. It takes a truly enthusiastic voice actor and elegant writing to pull off narration. He is used just enough, although there are occasions when he talks over the characters’ dialogue and it feels as if you are in a court room. Despite these minor shortcomings, the narrator is a welcome addition, allowing players to slice up foes while he feeds them context.

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“Rayman Legends” Trumps Original

In an age where video games are becoming more gritty and realistic, hardly anyone would have guessed that what may be one of the year’s best games would be absolutely nothing like that.

Developed by revered game developer Michel Ancel’s UbiArt team, “Rayman Legends” is a vibrant splash of color and life that feels vital in today’s gaming landscape. Its fast paced platforming challenges, bizarre worlds, characters and all-too loveable sense of humor makes it a clear stand-out amongst the competition. Yet what makes it so great is just how much fun is packed into every crevice of the game.

“Rayman Legends” is the sequel to 2011’s widely acclaimed “Rayman Origins,” which attempted to revive the dormant Rayman platforming series after almost a decade (not counting the “Raving Rabbids” games, which have taken a life of their own). With its hand drawn cartoon style and wildly creative personality, “Rayman Origins” breathed new life into not just the Rayman series, but platformers in general, proving that they still had a place in today’s maturing game world.

“Origins” was a fantastic game in its own right, and on the surface, “Legends” wouldn’t seem much different. You’re still running, jumping on platforms, pummeling enemies, utilizing the same abilities, and playing many of the same characters.

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Dawes Rocks Pollak

Folk-rock band “Dawes” performed at Monmouth’s Pollak Theater Sept. 25, along with opening act Johnathan Rice and Hayes Carll.

At the start of Rice’s very mellow performance, the crowd looked like what I expected: every group of middle-age friends had a row to themselves. Rice’s performance stuck mainly to the songs, with few breaks for some intimate stories with the audience. When Rice did speak, his Scottish accent combined with a slurred tone conjured up some amusing statements: “I’ve never been to college…I guess this is as close as it’s gonna get.”

Hayes Carll’s set started quickly after Rice’s, and now the seats were starting to fill up. It is sad that a majority of the crowd missed Rice’s set and came at Carll’s because Rice was better. Unfortunately, the only thing that kept me awake during Carll’s repetitive set were his personal and entertaining stories about his son and travels. The audience was more receptive to Rice too. Audience member Justin Rayan from Fort Rivers stated, “I’ve never heard of [Johnathan Rice] before but I thought he was really good…I thought the band backing him was really good…I’ll be sure to check out some more of his music.”

As Carll’s set ended and Dawes started setting up, I looked back (my seat was towards the front right of the theater) and saw that there was barely a seat empty. The whole theater was packed in anticipation for the band. The lights dimmed and the crowd started to holler and whistle, but the band added extra suspense by not yet appearing.

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“Breaking Bad” Comes to a Close

Showrunner Vince Gilligan concluded the AMC series, “Breaking Bad,” in a 75-minute finale on Sunday, Sept. 29. Millions of viewers tuned in to watch the airing of “Felina” at 9 pm, which reinforced “Bad” as one of television’s greatest drama series.

Five seasons and 62 episodes later, Walter White, the loving cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher who transformed into the maniacal blue methamphetamine manufacturing drug kingpin, finally met his fate. Gilligan said during an interview on the after show “Talking Bad,” “This show was intended all along to be very finite. It’s a story that starts at A and ends at Z, as it were. It’s a very closed-ended thing.”

The stunning finale opened up with Walt in a car: weak, dying, and alone. His diminishing drive to live made it appear to viewers that it was over – but then he found the energy and desire to tie loose ends. He was fueled to go back to New Mexico and embrace both his fate and identity as Heisenberg. It is both odd and depressing seeing Walt on our television screens hit a low, for he is always portrayed as strong and intimidating.

Every move Walt made from that point forward seemed almost flawless and perfectly calculated. He first stopped at Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz’s residence, the owners of the prosperous “Gray Matter Technology” who stole Walt’s research and publically announced that Walt was useless to the establishment of such a company.

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“Massachusetts” Comes to Monmouth

massachusetts-comes-to-monmouthUpon walking in on the “Massachusetts” art exhibit in Joan and Robert Rechnitz Hall, you’ll be greeted by a wide array of art styles. Some paintings are dark and ominous, others are surreal, depicting reality in supernatural ways. Despite differences, each piece invokes you to come closer for further inspection. The exhibit is a combination of works from nine artists in total, each bringing their unique flavor to the Vincent DiMattio Gallery. DiMattio is also a professor of art at the University.

The commonality that brings these pieces together isn’t found within the art itself, but within each contributor’s relationship to the state of Massachusetts. All but one of the artists graduated from Massachusetts College of Art during the mid 1960s. The other received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Boston University. After graduating, most of the artists went their separate ways. Regardless of the path they chose, they all found success in the arts. This special class has reunited to showcase their works to the public.

One of the first artists’ works you’ll be greeted by is Enrico Pinardi. His paintings lure you in with a sense of familiarity, but you’ll notice something strange: a plate floating slightly off the table, a shadowy figure in the background or a cracked floor underneath a clean white table. It seems as if the paintings are trying their best to show you that everything is fine, but instead reveal that something is missing.

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Visiting Writer Series Introduces Katie Ford

Poet Katie Ford came to read a selected collection of her works on campus on Thursday, September 19, as part of the Visiting Writers Series. This marks the first reading of the ninth year this series has run.

Ford is the author of two books of poetry (“Deposition,” “Colosseum”) as well as the upcoming “Blood Lyrics.” Colosseum was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by Publisher’s Weekly and The Virginia Quarterly Review. She received the Lannan Literary Fellowship, a $100,000 dollar award, as well as the Larry Levis prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and a wide variety of high-circulation journals. Ford teaches at Franklin & Marshall College.

The event opened to a nearly full house at 4:30 pm in Wilson Auditorium. She was introduced by Michael Thomas, Assistant Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, who not only praised her work but cited the praise of others, such as a New York Times review that described her work as having “the veiled brilliance of a stained glass window at night.”

“We also hope that you will be moved emotionally by a writer’s representation of what it means to be a human being, whether that experience is one of joy, celebration, longing, love, or sorrow,” Thomas said. “Art needs audiences as much as we, the audience, need art.”

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Student Spotlight: Idol Threat

Retro rock music takes on a modern twist in songs written by local band, Idol Threat.  Lead singer and guitarist Robbie Reiner is a junior at the University studying criminal justice. He writes and performs classic-meets-contemporary rock music with drummer Pat Reiner, and bassist Brian DeSeno, both of whom attend Manasquan High School.

The band takes inspiration from artists such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Ultimately, Idol Threat aims to make rock n’ roll mainstream once again. “It’s something that a lot of people are missing out on,” said Pat. “People don’t listen to rock and roll the way they used to and we want to keep the art form alive and expose as many people as we can to it.”

Coming from a family of musicians, Robbie and Pat have been playing music from a very young age. “Basically our whole family is musical. My mom played the flute and my dad played guitar and I guess I always wanted to play the guitar as he had,” Robbie said.

Bassist, DeSeno is the neighbor of the two brothers. “[DeSeno] apparently played bass and we didn’t know it. We did a show with him once and it just clicked from there,” said Robbie.

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“Dexter” Series Finale Kills

America’s favorite serial killer, Dexter Morgan, had his final bow last night in Showtime’s series finale of “Dexter.” There were disappointments taken to social media, claiming the series finale was a sellout. However, I think the writers ended the hit show the only way they could.

Dexter, Hannah, and Harrison are riding off into the sunset of Argentina, while Deb and Quinn continue their life in Miami? Sounds good in theory, but let’s be serious, it’s just not “Dexter” material.

From the beginning, we saw Dexter’s two worlds collide and come dangerously close. By day, he balanced his family and career in order to appear normal. The other part of him, his dark passenger, always got in the way of any humanity he felt in his other life.

Through the entire series, he struggled to feel what regular people do, but it’s just not who he was fated to be. Every single turning point in the series happened because of Dexter’s selfish addiction. It’s no secret he was responsible for the death of characters like his wife Rita, arguably Captain LaGuerta and, in last night’s episode, his own sister, Deb.

Throughout this season especially, we saw Dexter as more of a human being than a serial killer. The motherly figure character, Vogel, entered the season to make Dexter’s understanding of who he is come full circle. Dexter’s darkness makes him who he is. We love to love him. We root for him, but the same joy we get watching him take out bad guys is the joy he gets from doing the actual killing. His drug is killing; our drug is watching.

We are reminded of this during the shocking finale. Dexter gets into his traditional kill clothes and ends Deb’s suffering, takes her onto his boat and into the impeding storm. Viewers are led to believe he is going to kill himself and his sister.

When Dexter tells his son, “I love you. Remember that every day until I see you again,” I was sure he was long gone. Hannah reads about his boat wreckage and suspected death in the newspaper, chokes back her tears and walks off with Harrison in Argentina. The screen goes black and, simultaneously, viewers choke back our tears too.

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“Grand Theft Auto” Renews Grandeur

Hang onto your Playstations and X-boxes because Rockstar Games has one last game for you to play before you trade them in for the new consoles. Despite working with decade old hardware, Rockstar has managed to make its latest installment one of the most beautiful, detailed, and spacious games this console generation has ever seen. Set in the fictional city of Los Santos (think Los Angeles), “Grand Theft Auto V” (released September 17) is literally Rockstar’s biggest game yet.

How big? According to Game Informer, “Los Santos is bigger than the worlds of ‘Red Dead Redemption,’ ‘San Andreas,’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto 4’ combined.” But bigger doesn’t always equate to better. Does “GTAV” live up to the hype of being hailed as the last great game of this generation, or does it buckle from the weight of its own ambition?

It is safe to say that Rockstar delivered on exactly what they set out to do. The over world of Los Santos is a technical masterpiece. The city is bustling, with noisy pedestrians on their cellphones and traffic whizzing by. The countryside is barren, brown and dusty, and the mountains on the outskirts of the city give you a bird’s eye view of it all. The graphical fidelity is astounding, and when coupled with the superb sound effects, the world is given a life of its own.

As you interact with different objects in the environment, each sounds as if it is right there in front of you. When you climb a chain fence you hear the clang of metal jingle. When you jetski, you feel the “vroom” of the motor every time you go airborne, and the splash of water when you land. Even the simplest of actions have been given the utmost care, making Los Santos the centerpiece of the “Grand Theft Auto V” experience.

Scattered throughout this world is a plethora of activities to partake in. There are darts, drag racing, scuba diving, stockbroking, and more. There are also random encounters that will occur organically as you navigate through Los Santos. People shout through the streets yelling that their car has been stolen or a drunken couple may wander up to you and ask for a ride. It is entirely up for you to decide if you help these people or not (as long as you weren’t the one who stole that nice old lady’s car).

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Janelle Monáe Falls Short of Expectations

R&B isn’t an easy genre to stand out in these days, but for a singer as hard working and charismatic as Janelle Monáe, it’s kind of impossible not to. With a powerful voice, wild imagination, and restless creative spirit, Monáe has made some very exciting and inventive pop music since bursting onto the scene, with her debut album, 2010’s “The ArchAndroid,” being quite an artistic achievement.

Despite her talent, however, her latest record, “The Electric Lady,” shows that even she is still susceptible to one of the biggest curses in the music world: the sophomore slump.

Can you blame her, though? You try following up an album like “The ArchAndroid” – a dense, kinetic, sci-fi-themed odyssey that blended R&B with more genres and styles than I can count on one hand while never losing sight of its infectious pop sensibilities. The fact that something so overly ambitious worked the first time is a miracle in itself. What do you possibly do to follow such a monster?

Monáe was certainly up for the challenge as “The Electric Lady” is still a very ambitious record that clearly comes from the same warped mind as before. But while “The Electric Lady” is still a unique record by modern R&B standards, I can’t help but feel that something is missing this time around.

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Alumnus Spotlight: Slick Chops

Some graduates leave the University and never look back while others seem to linger around until they realize they have to leave. Rapper Slick Chops seems to have found the happy medium between the two. The 2013 graduate is currently recording his next album and interning in New York, but he remains connected to The Music Alliance, a club dedicated to giving those interested in the music industry professional opportunities.

His musical roots, unsurprisingly, started in childhood. His father introduced him to the music of the 50s, 60s and 70s early on, but it was a little later that hip-hop came along.

“I was introduced to Eminem when I was around 9 years old and ever since then, I’ve been writing raps…I started recording music freshman year in high school after meeting another hip hop artist who was already recording. He showed me the ropes to recording and since then I’ve been recording consistently,” Slick said.

As a teenager, Slick used to participate in cyphers with another rapper at his local mall on a weekly basis. Eventually, the high school students attracted a crowd of over 200 people and the cops shut them down. Since then, Slick has moved on to local hangouts such as Brighton Bar and The Saint as well as Brooklyn staples like Public Assembly.

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Fall Brings Wonderful New Televison Shows

Fall means sweaters, pumpkin-flavored everything and, most importantly, new television shows. Last year, a good number of shows were picked up, leaving us with a smaller number of pilots this year. Still this fall brings us many comedies, a couple dramas and one Avengers spin off.

In the way of comedies, we have “The Crazy Ones.” This multi camera comedy features comedian Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and it’s a big deal for both of them. Aside from a handful of guest spots, an “Aladdin” cartoon and one mini-series, this marks Robin Williams’ first starring role in a television series since “Mork & Mindy” (which aired from 1978-1982).

Gellar returned to television with the now defunct “Ringer” last year, but this will be her first attempt at a comedy series. She’s familiar, though. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” had plenty of comedic elements, and she did create some laughs as Daphne in “Scooby Doo.”

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Artist Zuan Lee Astounds Students

The Rotary Ice House Gallery celebrated its first art exhibition of the year with a reception hosted at 5 pm on September 12. This collection was created by the artist Zaun Lee and will be on display until November 15. Numerous professors attended with their classes, though other patrons were simply curious students eager to see this new display. Refreshments were served until the event ended at 7 pm.

Entitled “My No-Man’s Land,” this was a series of paintings, drawings and multimedia works depicting a combination of geometric grid shapes and the exposed muscle or bone structures of the human body as well as other nature-themed images.

According to literature distributed by the Monmouth University Center for the Arts, these were designed to “highlight the role senses of emotion” and show “a journey into the trans-dimensional dynamic of one’s own understanding on the internal logic of senses in decomposed narratives.”

Upstairs, one can see a series of large, overlapping images painted on translucent Mylar sheets, showing the geometric nature of the human body. Some images included a circle of six hands, drawn so that the muscle and bone was visible, all stretching away from the center, as well as numerous power symbols and lines arcing off into the distance. Smaller pieces were a variety of shapes drawn on a nature-themed color scheme, paint running down from the top.

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“Glee” Deals with Sorrow

Around midnight on July 13, my Tumblr and Twitter started blowing up with rumors that “Glee” star Cory Monteith died. Everyone from Justin Bieber to Britney Spears has been rumored dead on the internet at some point, so these things aren’t taken all that seriously anymore.

However, around 1 am the Vancouver Police Department announced via livestream what thousands of “Glee” fans were hoping wasn’t true: Cory Monteith was found dead in a hotel room. The next days were filled with questions of why he died (heroin and alcohol), how on and off-screen girlfriend Lea Michele was handling the tragedy and what the fate of “Glee” would be.

There was brief speculation that the show would be cancelled. Maybe they would do a special to wrap up the loose ends before leaving. Then it was rumored that “Glee” would just take a huge hiatus, taking a winter or spring premiere. Then the shocking announcement was made: the fifth season premiere of “Glee” would be pushed back only one week to September 26.

Showrunner Ryan Murphy made one thing very clear: Michele was calling the shots. Michele’s Rachel Berry is the central character on the musical dramedy, even though it has a large ensemble cast. Rachel and Finn (Monteith’s character), known affectionately as Finchel, have been the main love story since the pilot. Murphy publicly acknowledged in various interviews that if Michele decided to call it quits, the show couldn’t really go on.

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Woods Theatre Offers Professional Summer Opportunities

Every year, the University’s professional theatre, Shadow Lawn Stage, performs a show in the summer. This year, they produced “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” but it wasn’t just professional actors involved in the production. Multiple University students and alumni earned parts in the play, helping them boost their resume and gain experience in a professional setting.

Taylor Bogan graduated with a degree in theatre arts last May, and within a couple weeks she found herself back in Woods Theatre for “Spelling Bee” rehearsals as Olive Ostrovsky. For Bogan, the real perk was her co-workers.

Bogan explained, “The benefit of performing in a professional summer show is getting the chance to work with equity professional actors. When you work with a more experienced team of actors it makes you work harder.”

Two members of Actor’s Equity Association (AEA) were in the play. AEA members are considered professional actors, and being a member is how most actors can earn professional jobs. First, though, they have to gain membership, and “Spelling Bee” helped put student and alumni actors on track to getting their Equity membership.

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Fruity Game is Suprisingly Sweet

With a rather puny library of games and disappointing quarterly sales, it would be a vast understatement to call the Wii U’s first year a rocky start. While the Nintendo consoles lineup will prove to pick up steam later this year, the console’s “killer app” might already be here in the form of “Pikmin 3.”

Developed by legendary game wizard Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario, Zelda, etc.) and hotly anticipated for years, “Pikmin 3” is the kind of polished, unique and engaging experience the Wii U desperately needed, the kind of truly enthralling adventure that sucks you into its world like few other games in its class.

The game centers on three space explorers (Alph, Brittany and Charlie) who venture to the fictional planet PNF-404 on a quest to find food for their home planet of Koppai. There, they gather hoards of tiny, vegetable-like creatures known as pikmin and use them to gather fruit, fight intimidating beasts and locate lost ship parts to ensure a safe, and fully stocked, trip home.

Fans of the series will feel right at home with “Pikmin 3,” as the core mechanics of the game really haven’t changed. For those who are uninitiated, “Pikmin 3” is essentially a strategy game with a unique adventure/puzzling twist. Players are required to complete a variety of tasks within a set time limit each day, from building bridges and gathering fruits to fighting giant bosses and hauling their dead carcasses, utilizing a variety of pikmin with different abilities and weaknesses.

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Student Spotlight: Joe & Box

Maybe you don’t think of the University as a place to foster the education of the next superstar of the rap world, but you might be wrong. Junior Andrew Boxman has been rapping for well over a decade, and hopes to be able to make a living off it one day.

The music industry major is known as Box, one half of the rap duo Joe & Box. He describes their music as “fresh and in your face, with many creative metaphors with interesting flows, [and] some knocking punchlines! We make it as true to us as possible.”

Box met Joe Urso back in fifth grade, and the childhood friends have been creating rhymes for the majority of their friendship.

Box said, “It was around fifth, sixth grade when, on occasion, I would write rhymes, no more than 16 bar verses about nonsense! In middle school, Joe and I would write songs together, comical rap songs about how much we loved food under the name ‘Fatty and the Funky Bunch.’”

Once they started high school, the two wanted to get serious about their art. “When freshman year in high school came around, we began to rap daily; writing verses and free-styling and it we really grew from there,” Box said.

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Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication 
and Instructional Technology (CCIT) Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey 07764

Phone:(732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151