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Entertainment

Who Stole the Show at the VMA’s?

Kanye WestFrom Madonna’s infamous performance of Like a Virgin in 1984, to Britney Spears’ memorable performance with a python snake in 2001, the MTV Video Music Awards have become a global phenomenon that people wait all summer for, and the 2016 award ceremony was no different. On Sunday, August 28, celebrities, singers, songwriters, and more gathered in Madison Square Garden to set off the year’s greatest hits. This year’s show was quiet arbitrary - to say the least - filled with many memorable performances. The show opened with Nicki Minaj singing alongside newest pop-sensation, Ariana Grande, who sang her most recent hit, Make Me, while reenacting what appeared to be a cycling class on stage. Rihanna,  winner the Video Vanguard Award, performed four dispersed times throughout the three hour showing, while Beyoncé hit the stage for a 15 minute performance of songs pulled from her newest album, Lemonade. Aside from these unforgettable performances, Alicia Keys did something extremely unexpected. Rather than singing one of her own songs, she sang a poem honoring Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech that touched many people in the audience and ones watching at home.

The performances made during this year’s ceremony were definitely one for the books, but one in particular I found to be a long awaited, exciting performance. Hitting the VMA stage for the first time in nine years, Britney Spears made her return. Singing a song from her new album, Glory, Britney sang “Make Me” featuring G-Eazy. Rather than simply singing the song, Spears incorporated her talent of dancing into the performance, which made it more entertaining. Not only was this performance eye catching, but so was her outfit on stage. Britney’s yellow leotard covered in Swarovski crystals with matching boots lit up the stage.

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New Season of “Catfish” Captivates MTV

CatfishNev Schulman and Max Joseph, hosts of the MTV series “Catfish: The TV Show,” are reeling in what could be the worst catfish yet.

A catfish is a person who pretends to be someone they are not by using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and dating apps to create false identities, mainly to pursue deceptive online romances and relationships, however, in episodes from prior seasons, some catfish used social media solely to get money from the other person and had no interest in a relationship.

The concept of “Catfish: The TV Show” began after Schulman himself was catfished back in 2010. He believed he was talking to a gorgeous, blonde, twenty-something when he was really talking to a married and middle-aged woman, Angela Wesselman. While that occurred, Schulman’s friend, Henry Joost, and sister, Ariel Schulman, documented everything and it later premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Once it was seen by the public, many contacted Schulman explaining that they had experienced very similar situations. “Catfish: The TV Show” was then created to follow the journey of hopeless romantics that have formed online relationships without meeting each other. It is up to Nev and Max to tell the stories of these hopeless romantics as they discover the truth behind these online romances and sometimes shocking revelations along the way.

“Catfish: The TV Show” made its debut on November 12, 2012 and the show recently began season five, which premiered on August 10, 2016 with two very intriguing episodes. In the first episode, former Playboy model and mother of two, Jayme Nelson, requests the help of Nev and Max when she discovers that her online boyfriend, Lucas, is not only fake, but is catfishing an insanely large number of other women as well.

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Summer’s “Stranger Things” Should Stick Around

Stranger ThingsIn just one moment, my carefully organized, meticulously timed television-watching schedule was turned upside down.

With the fourth season of Orange is the New Black untouched, half a season of the new AMC show Preacher on my DVR, and the entire series of Gilmore Girls that has been in my watchlist for as long as I can remember, and more, I wasn’t looking for anything new. Then there was Stranger Things.

Despite a backlog of things to watch, it became almost impossible to ignore the buzz around Netflix’s new original series. Articles popped up all over, exclamations of its greatness flooded social media, and it seemed that everywhere I turned, someone was raving about this unexpected summer hit. Who was I, a mere human trying to keep up with the best of what television has to offer, to ignore it? And thankfully I did not, since it ended up being one of the most fun and satisfying shows of the season.

Stranger Things, created, written, and sometimes directed by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, is a summer delight that should not be forgotten even though classes are back in session and it is no longer the trending topic. It has all the mystery, suspense, scares, and unexpected fun that one could enjoy during not only the warm summer nights, but also during lazy fall afternoons.

In the small town of Hawkins, Indiana in 1983, things are predictable and tame. But when local boy Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), a geeky kid who plays Dungeons and Dragons all day with his three best friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), things get strange, for lack of a better word. Joyce, the boy’s anxiety-ridden mother (Winona Ryder), Will’s three friends, and Hawkin’s chief of police, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) attempt to forge their own investigations into Will’s disappearance, with each beginning to unravel the mysteries behind a shady government laboratory in town, a quiet, on-the-run little girl that appears in the woods, and much more.

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Fifth Harmony Steps Up Their Game

Fifth HarmonyIn just four short years, the girl group Fifth Harmony has gone from singing competition frontrunners to a household name (most likely a household that is home to teenage girls). Their latest tour in support of their album, 7/27, is sure to wow fans and evoke plenty of awkward dancing and loud singing that should be reserved solely for shower purposes.

Opening up for the girls was 2005 teen icon, JoJo. Aquamarine herself sang songs old and new, mixing in some hits from her heyday as well as new hits, such as “F**k Apologies.” At first when my friends and I noticed she was opening we were slightly excited. We only knew her old songs and weren’t expecting too much. Then she came on the stage and completely owned it. She had a sweet moment with the crowd, where she explained why she had been gone so long and why she did not put out any new music. She then explained how she is back and ready for everyone to hear what she has been working on. Closing her set, JoJo gave the crowd the one song they had been waiting for, “Too Little Too Late.” The audience rose to their feet and the screams were deafening. From that, we were off!

The show kicked off with a flight attendant directing ticket holders to their seats, letting audience members know they are ready for takeoff. The girls open with a high energy party, “That’s My Girl,” followed by their first big single, “Miss Movin’ On.” The set list was broken into five parts, representing each part of the “flight”- Cloud 9, Fantasy Island, Mystery Island, Paradise Island, F.U.N., and then an encore. The set list for the talented singers featured songs from both Reflection and 7/27, singing hits like, “Sledgehammer,” “Worth It,” “Bo$$,” and “Dope.” Showing no signs of slowing down, the girls handled multiple costume changes and quick set changes like seasoned performers; fans would never know this was their first major tour. 

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“Fire Emblem” (Meets Its) Fate

Fire Emblem FatesIn Fire Emblem Fates you play as a prince who can turn into a dragon; also you can marry and have kids with your siblings… oh, right, context. Fire Emblem Fates was one of my most anticipated video game releases of this year; now, after having completed it, it’s currently my biggest disappointment of 2016 (don’t worry Final Fantasy XV, you’ve still got a shot to disappoint). Fire Emblem is a series of tactical turn-based RPGs set in a medieval-fantasy world, and it’s debatably the most popular series in the genre.

The installment Fire Emblem: Awakening added systems for marriages and children into the series. Basically you pair up certain opposite-sex characters by having them fight together, they become friendly over time, and eventually get married and have children; afterwards, through a cheesy time-travel plot twist, these children become units in your army. On the plus side, some of the mechanics associated with this system are interesting—by pairing characters with different classes/stats, you can essentially breed super soldiers. Unfortunately, a lot of effort had to be put into this system to make it work; tons of lines for character interactions had to be written, and complicated balancing for character stats was made essential. I feel that the rest of the game has suffered due to effort being put into these system, and its unnecessary (and occasionally disturbing) expansions.

With their newest title, Fire Emblem Fates, Intelligent Systems (the game’s developers) have doubled-down on the marriage and children systems. While I feel that these systems have played a part in making the series more popular, I also feel that they are starting to take away from the more strategic aspects of the game.

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Drones Are Changing the Game

Drone Game ChangeVideo cameras of all shapes and sizes have for many decades captured amazing artifacts, which has in turn led to the creation of our favorite movies, TV shows and now, YouTube videos. However, in 2016, the game of filmmaking is changing forever—and it is all because of drones. Drones may not have come out yesterday, but this year, it is becoming more socially acceptable for them to be used in everyday life. Something that was once shunned by everyone in close proximity due to its noisy behavior is now something you can casually fly in your backyard, and now, drones are changing the game of aerial cinematography.

While it is still incredible what a more standard video camera can do, drones are more skilled in obtaining aerial shots, and these shots are what make anything from a Hollywood movie to a homemade short film something worth talking about. The special thing about drones becoming more accepted this year is that now they are more obtainable, not just for award-winning filmmakers, but for anyone who wants one, and that is going to be very impactful for many people’s creativity. Aspiring filmmakers and YouTubers, or people who just simply enjoy messing around with a camera and an editing software, now have endless capabilities of what they can create.

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"Game of Thrones" Returns For an Epic Season 6

Game Thrones Season 6Anticipating Game of Thrones Season 6 yet? You better be. Fans of the epic fantasy series have so much to look forward to. Not only will this season return to all the characters we’ve grown to love or hate and introduce new characters and new story lines, but this is the first season that the hit HBO show has surpassed the book series by George R.R Martin. The sixth installment, “Winds of Winter,” is not scheduled to be released this year, leaving many of the book fans with only one option: watch the TV show if they want to find out what happens next. The HBO producers and writers are now faced with the task of continuing a show that doesn’t have the source material there. But since the first Season 6 trailer dropped, it has already gained millions of views on YouTube in over a day. It looks like this season is shaping up to be the biggest from all the fan reaction.

The multiple Emmy-winning TV show was left on a cliffhanger last season when Lord Commander Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) was betrayed by his brothers of the Night’s Watch. It was a chilling scene with Jon being repeatedly stabbed in a Julius Caesar “Ides-of-March” fashion. The last shot was him lying in the snow, a trail of blood coming out from his body, leaving many fans aghast about his death over the summer. Did he really die? Game of Thrones has been known to kill major characters before, so it’s no surprise that some fans are mourning Jon Snow. However, book fans have many theories. One theory about “The Tower of Joy” will most likely be uncovered this season, but another theory involves the Lady Melisandra, the red priestess who was loyal to Stannis Baratheon. After her visions about Stannis turned out to be wrong, she returns to the Night’s Watch. Could it be that Melisandra returned there for a reason? She has long been fascinated with Jon Snow and she follows the Lord of Light religion, which gives servants an absorbent amount of power. Perhaps Melisandra has a few magic tricks up her sleeve, but this is all speculation of course.

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Get Educated With Video Games

Zero EscapeIn my classes at Monmouth, every now and then I’m introduced to a concept which I already know something of from a video game. I remember last year, in Dr. Patten’s intro to political science course, when he explained the prisoner’s dilemma to us. I was already familiar with the concept thanks to Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, and this helped my group to avoid a potential 10-year prison sentence in our exercise.

Before I get into this though, let me just add a quick disclaimer: if you hear something in a video game that interests you, you should research it independently; it doesn’t have to be extensive, but be sure at least give it a quick google. Most games are works of fiction, and often they take creative license, even when they present something as factual. To illustrate this: in the video game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, a curious incident involving chemistry is discussed. According to the game, in 1920, due to an accident involving the transport of liquid glycerin, a sample of glycerin crystallized. This was curious because glycerin had never been crystallized before, and afterwards glycerin everywhere started to crystallize spontaneously.

To call this story about glycerin half-true would be giving it too much credit; some research was done on the crystallization of glycerin in the 1920’s, but that’s about all the truth there. However, due to the game’s presentation, this story actually fooled a good number of people. Many players thought the game was summarizing a historical event, when in actuality the game was combining a semi-popular occult myth with the plot of Cat’s Cradle, a popular Kurt Vonnegut novel. Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is highly regarded for having a story made up of interesting facts and compelling fiction; unfortunately, as has been illustrated, occasionally the two blend together.

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A Closer Look at “The Legend of Heroes”

LH TCSThe Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Cold Steel is long and at times nonsensical, much like its title. To be completely honest, I went into Legend of Heroes expecting a 20-ish hour game and a very easy review. The premise of the game is basically teenagers going to school and fighting stuff… Where have I seen this before? Oh, right, Valkyria Chronicles 2, Final Fantasy Type-0, every Persona game ever, Harry Potter, and in a million other cheap knockoffs. The image running with this story actually mirrors one released for Final Fantasy: Type-0, right down to the protagonist holding a flag (no one will accuse this game of being original). Actually, in many ways this game feels like a PG version of Final Fantasy: Type-0; there’s a very similar premise/setting, but no mature content about the horrors of war. That said, as a whole I’m glad that I played The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Cold Steel, and I look forward to the sequel.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Cold Steel is a fantasy JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) set in a semi-modern world. Gameplay makes use of tactical turn-based combat and several social sim elements (interactions with other characters provide character depth and story information). And, as I may have mentioned earlier, the foundation of its plot is not exactly an original concept; actually, it’s probably the most overused premise in the genre right now. Knowing this, I went into Legend of Heroes not expecting much, and my first hour in-game didn’t change that opinion for the better. I was initially quite unimpressed by Legend of Heroes’ dated graphics and total lack of animated cut scenes; if someone had told me this was a 2007 game, I’d have believed them.

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Meet the Masterminds Behind “Jordan Belfort”

Jordan Belfort Walker DylWes Walker and Dyl are the masterminds behind “Jordan Belfort,” Spotify’s “#1 College Song” from 2015. Many college students are guilty of having this song on his or her playlist, which is truly something special when considering that Walker and Dyl are college students themselves. Walker attends Temple University and Dyl goes to Tulane University, and while being students, they were still able to produce a popular hit like “Jordan Belfort.” The song has received over 30 million hits on SoundCloud and YouTube, and on the iTunes pop chart, the song peaked at #29. This success is what ultimately led them to landing a deal with major label Atlantic Records. After talking with Walker and Dyl, I learned some pretty cool things about their careers, their successful song and what inspires them to do what they do.

The two have been best friends since middle school, and after they both got into the music scene from DJ-ing, they decided to collaborate together on this catchy tune. The two are always stimulated and inspired from being surrounded by so much music, which is what led them to start recording stuff on their own. Walker said, “I slowly gained a liking to all and everything hip-hop culture, and all my friends would freestyle together and that is when I started producing instrumentals and actually recording raps.” What originally started out as mindless fun has turned into a career for both Walker and Dyl, which is something that still amazes them and makes them proud to be making music. When asked how they feel about having the most popular song in the U.S. amongst college students, Walker said, “I kind of still don’t believe it. Almost every college kid in America has heard my goofy voice. Something really special indeed.”

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Pollak Set to Rock Through the Decades

Pollack RTAFive decades of rock n’ roll music are coming to Pollak Theater in a powerhouse, one-night only concert hosted by University senior and professional violinist Taylor Hope on Thursday, April 24. Hope will be joined by accomplished local musicians such as Glen Burtnik, Joe Bellia, Joe LaFragola, and Bob Stasiak as the ensemble takes audiences through the evolution of the rock genre, from the groovy vibes of the 1960’s to the cutting edge styles of today.

Hope, currently studying music and math at the University, worked closely with faculty and contemporaries in the music industry to develop her show, “Rockin’ Through the Decades.” The concert is in addition to Hope’s senior recital, and proceeds generated from ticket sales will be donated back to the University.

“I came up with the idea last year to put on a concert to wrap up my senior year at Monmouth and to donate the proceeds back to the music department,” said Hope. “It’s been a great experience putting together a show from scratch, from having a vision and being able to execute it. I’m so lucky to know so many talented musicians and am so fortunate to have some of them join me for the show.”

One of these guests, Burtnik, is a former member of the Styx revival and host of popular “Summer of Love” 1960’s concert. In addition to his myriad of accomplishments and over four decades of experience in the music industry, Burtnik has a long history of performing with Hope.

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Contact Information

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

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

Phone:(732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu