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Clichés Haunt ‘Annabelle’ || Entertainment

"The Conjuring" really captured my attention back in 2013, standing out among other horror movies for its relative lack of jump scares, the way it did not rely on tropes to move the plot along, and how women were still shown as being strong characters. Though it did rely on some clichés, it set a high bar for what such movies could attempt, so I eagerly sat down to watch "Annabelle" on Friday, Oct. 3.

This anticipated follow-up fell short in nearly every single category, with its issues ranging from claustrophobia-inducing camera angles and an exhaustingly overused plot to utilizing tropes at almost every possibility. Where its predecessor at least attempted originality, the 2014 'prequel' bored me, only drawing my attention in the last few minutes (not counting its numerous painful jump scares).

"Annabelle," directed by John Leonetti and written by Gary Dauberman, is about a young, recently-married couple, consisting of the pregnant Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John (Ward Horton). The movie opens with them at church talking to Sharon Higgins (Kerry O'Malley) and Pete Higgins (Brian Howe), who live next door. After, John notes that they "shouldn't talk about the pregnancy" around them, as their daughter Annabelle ran away two years earlier. Coincidentally, Annabelle returns to the Higgins household with an unnamed male, murders her parents, then the two break into John and Mia's house and attempt to kill them as well. This ends with Annabelle committing suicide while holding the 'Annabelle' doll and bleeding on it, with the movie implying that her blood somehow let a demon begin using the doll as a conduit to attack Mia and John.

Throughout the film, the writers bash the viewers over the head with Satanism, Occultism, and related horror-movie clichés, ranging from Mia watching a documentary on Charles Manson in one of the opening scenes to a book called "The Devil's Welcome" prominently displayed in a bookstore window (which seems unlikely for Pasadena in the 1960s, when everyone was terrified of Satan worshippers). Nearly every scene seems obliged to mention demons, the mysterious 'A' shaped mark that appears throughout the events, or cult worshippers. The only times these aren't mentioned are when Mia is being attacked by said demon, so no one had to mention that it was there.

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Jackie Evancho: From Second Place to the Top of the World || Entertainment

In competitions, there can usually only be one winner. However, when it comes to shows like "America's Got Talent" (which concluded its ninth season on Sept. 17 by crowning magician Mat Franco), remaining contestants still have the future at their finger tips even though they were not awarded the big prize. To prove that contestants all still have a real shot at achieving their dream, "America's Got Talent" Season 5 runner-up Jackie Evancho, now a platinum recording artist at the young age of 14, released her third studio album on Tuesday, Sept. 23 entitled "Awakening."

Since "America's Got Talent," Evancho has proven that you do not need to win the talent competition in order to reach new heights in your career. From performing for the President of the United States and the Royal Family to making regular appearances with the Tokyo Philharmonic, she has showed future contestants that it's not always about winning.

Her journey began when she signed with Columbia Records and took a jump start in pursuing her career shortly after the completion of "America's Got Talent" at the age of 10. Prior to her latest album, she released two other studio albums entitled "Dream with Me," which was certified Gold, and "Songs from the Silver Screen," which topped at #1 on the Billboard Classical Charts.

However, with her latest album "Awakening," Evancho diverted slightly away from the all-classical inspired albums by taking on some more contemporary songs. While the album still contains classical selections such as "Think of Me" from "Phantom of the Opera" and "Ave Maria," it also contains modern-day songs such as U2's "With or Without You" and "The Rains of Castamere" from HBO's "Game of Thrones."

In response to her diversion away from classical music towards pop, Evancho told Sony, "Of course there are always going to be some classical pieces, but I wanted to reinvent the pop songs and make them my own. The only thing that mattered was that the song spoke to me."

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Nintendo 3DS Releases Crossover Sensation || Entertainment

A renowned attorney and a famous professor team up to defend clients accused of witchcraft. No, this is not the newest drama on a local network. This is the plot of the just released "Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" on the Nintendo 3DS. This game is a crossover of two fun (but perhaps little-known) series of video games, "Professor Layton" and "Ace Attorney," though it requires no previous experience with either series to enjoy.

"Vs." takes the puzzle solving Englishman, Professor Layton, and the unrelenting defense attorney, Phoenix Wright, and drops them into Labyrinthia. Labyrinthia is a storybook world ruled by the Storyteller, whose stories dictate the world's inescapable future. Plagued by the Great Witch Bezella, Labyrinthia holds witch trials where accused witches are found guilty and burned to purge the curse of witchery from the land. Assisting the mysterious Espella Cantabella in the first trial, Layton's puzzling prowess and Phoenix's dogged defense join forces to defend the innocent. Working against, and sometimes with, the Inquisitor Zacharias Barnham and his armor-wearing puppy Constantine, they must interview an array of unique personalities and investigate artful locales to end the witch trials, expose Bezella, and end the tyranny of the Storyteller.

The game is told through chapters which alternate between exploration and puzzle solving with Professor Layton and his apprentice, Luke Triton and trial segments with Phoenix Wright and his assistant Maya Fey. During exploration chapters, players travel from area to area talking to people and solving puzzles. Trial segments have Phoenix cross-examining witnesses and using evidence to find the truth behind various witch-related incidents.

Puzzles originate from the "Professor Layton" series and can be found anywhere. Most are found within the story, but some have to be sought out. Puzzles you miss are sent to a library at the end of the chapter, and completed puzzles can be replayed anytime through the Puzzle Index. Most puzzles submit themselves when you complete the assigned task, but others must have the right answer submitted from multiple choices. If you guess wrong, you're given another chance - though the reward for solving them is reduced.

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Meatless at MU: Is It For You? || News

Dollar Big Macs after midnight. Phat Spruces. Chicken Quesadillas and Steak Burritos. These all become things of the past once you convert to a vegetarian diet, but do not stop for a second to think this diet will come without great benefits. A plant-based diet not only contributes to better health and weight management, but also it benefits the environment. For individuals who have an extensive taste for different foods, a vegetarian diet on the University's campus is feasible.

According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (2009), a vegetarian diet is linked with low blood cholesterol levels and reduced risk of heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, a vegetarian diet is typically associated with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI), and lower cancer rates.

As less red meat and more plant-based foods are eaten, a vegetarian consumes less saturated fats and cholesterol, which are only found in animal-products. Vegetarians also take in more dietary fiber, magnesium, phytochemicals, and vitamin C than non-vegetarians.

Many fear a vegetarian diet because they believe deficiencies are developed in areas such as protein, iron, and vitamin B-12. However, Mary Harris, Director of the Monmouth Area Vegetarian Society (MAVS) and specialist communication professor, described the protein deficit as a misconception when stating, "Most of what the general public has been taught about protein requirements in general is a myth. Protein can be found in all plant foods". Harris continues, "Some sources of protein include: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, tempeh, nuts and seeds, tofu, seitan, quinoa, oats, peas, spinach, broccoli, and the list goes on and on". Additionally, many foods today are fortified with nutrients.

Another myth about vegetarian diets is that they are more costly. However, Dr. Null and Dr. Feldman refute this myth in the Townsend Letter. They write, "... A consumer may pay more than five times the price for steak (versus a loaf of whole-wheat bread), a food that does not rival its cheaper counterpart in terms of nutritional value and fiber content". A healthier diet that can be less expensive may be more alluring to a college student with a dearth of money.

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Debate Team Coaches Asbury Park Debate Teams to Playoff Rounds || Club & Greek

The University Debate team coached the Asbury Park debate team to a 4th place award at a debate tournament at the Institute for Collaborative Education in New York City this weekend. The Asbury team was coached after school every Tuesday afternoon by MU debaters Dan Roman, Kelly Craig, Sam Maynard, Jessica Roberts, Dylan Maynard, Ryan Kelly, Danielle Doud, Angela Ryan, Michelle Grushko, Saliha Younas, Monica Santos, Michael Hamilton, and Nick Whittaker.  The MU debaters took the Asbury debaters to three weekend tournaments affiliated with New York's Urban Debate League this year, but the third proved to be the charm as this was the first time the Asbury team made into the playoff rounds.  The Asbury team of Amaris Williams and Sharif James took a 4th place trophy after being coached throughout the year by MU debaters Kelly Craig and Dylan Maynard. Amaris Williams also took a 5th place individual speaking award.

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‘Tis the Season for Hot Chocolate || Club & Greek

Tis_the_season_hot_chocolateThe Monmouth University Street Team, (MUST) celebrated "National Hot Chocolate Day," by serving free hot chocolate to over 850 students and faculty members, outside the Rebecca Stafford Student Center (RSSC) on Thursday, Dec. 12.

MUST continued their vision to create situations that encourage people to think and talk about big, meaningful things, while promoting positive outlook on life. Every month, MUST decides on a "theme" for their event, and for the month of December, the theme was "celebrate".

MUST President Ryan Murphy explained the process for choosing a theme each month by saying, "There are certain aspects of life that we would like to promote on campus, things that we think might be lacking in daily conversation... Along with the holidays we wanted to promote the idea of 'celebration,' in a different way than we normally do it in the holiday season."

MUST were stationed in front of the RSSC passing out hot chocolate to students and faculty passing by who needed to warm up during the cold winter day. Those who did take advantage of the free hot chocolate were able to customize their drinks to their own liking by adding peppermint, marshmallows, caramel squares and whipped cream to their drinks.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Making Money or Making a Difference? || News

Companies have profited millions of dollars by raising awareness for breast cancer, yet in 20 years the question of how to cure breast cancer still remains unanswered.

Barbara A. Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action, located in San Francisco, CA, said, "Breast cancer is the poster child for cause-marketing."

Cause marketing is an agreement made upon the partnership of a non-profit charitable organization and for-profit organization in an effort to promote their business, sell products and donate a percentage to a good cause.

As stated in an article titled "We Can't Waste Another October: End Pinkwashing and Stop Cancer Before It Starts," Astra Zeneca, a pharmaceutical company, began the epidemic of BCAM. Zeneca distributes cancer treatments as well as carcinogenic pesticides.

BCAM has eventually become a profit month for corporations that promote their effort to spread awareness by selling their own products.

Joseph F. Rocereto, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing in the department of marketing and international business, said, "In a world where resources are necessary to advance any cause, those both noble as well as malicious, cause marketing represents an opportunity for nonprofits to enhance their contributions to those who rely on them, and to society as a whole."

Eighty-five percent of consumers were willing to support a company when the proceeds benefit causes they care about, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC).

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Placing the Cambell’s Soup Can Back onto the Canvas: Why “ARTPOP” is the Most Innovative Lady Gaga Record to Date || Entertainment

"I try to sell myself but I am really laughing, because I just love the music, not the bling." Gaga doesn't write music for the charts, but for the most honest and raw parts of both her conscious and unconscious. This lyric to the title track of Lady Gaga's new album, "ARTPOP," captures the true message of the album as a gestalt and uniform project. Currently sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100, "ARTPOP" is Gaga's most innovative and unique album to date.

As described by Gaga herself, the album is designed as "a trip" from track 1-15, each song on the album is meant to be a different adrenaline rush." The production team for ARTPOP is perhaps her best yet. EDM artists Zedd and Madeon produced five of the 15 tracks on the album, Paul "DJ White Shadow" Blair, a past collaborator on Gaga's preceding album, "Born This Way," produced eight tracks on the album, WILL.I.AM produced the track "Fashion!," and Rick Rubin, one of the executive producers on Eminem's most recent release, produced the melancholic track "Dope."

The songs themselves are unlike anything currently on Top 40 Radio, which shows Gaga's versatility as an artist. The opening track "Aura" is a euphoric track that positions "ARTPOP" to be an extremely ambitious record.

As the album progresses, you are taken on a journey to space in a song that Gaga completely wrote and produced herself: "Venus." Throughout the album, Gaga engages in "genre tripping." This is delving into genres that used to be unknown territories. Songs such as "Jewels & Drugs" with a cast of contemporary and retro rappers: T.I., Too $hort, and Twista, and her current single "Do What U Want," featuring R. Kelly, show both her diverse vocal range, and ability to adapt with different collaborators. Moreover, songs such as "Swine," lack lyrical quality, but make up in the production department with engaging beats that are sure to wake you up when listened through headphones.

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A Final Salute for President Paul G. Gaffney II: The Complete Interview || News

final_salute_for_president_gaffney_IIOUTLOOK: Exact starting date/What was the University like at that time?

President Gaffney (PG): July 7, 2003. I came here two days after retiring from the navy. The University was always in great place with a great location. The neighborhood stayed the same and it survived the hurricane. We had an opportunity to build some things, my predecessor had the MAC on the drawing boards and they had been talking about it for ten years. They were finishing up the library renovations. I had a chance to do a few things to fill out that ground and to raise some money for the University. I would say Sam McGill, President 20 years ago, and Becky Stafford, 10 years ago, got us on a really good track to be a University, to be a Division IA program, keep enrollment up between five and six thousand. They had good ideas and I just sort of kept them going and added some new energy to good ideas.

OUTLOOK: New ideas?

PG: One thing I tried to do was, I’m a firm believer that you have a job inside the gates of the University and that’s you going to class and learning something from a professor. A University is such a center of energy and intellectual power has responsibility outside the gate and if you don’t connect these professors with the issues around you and if you don’t get the students interested in those issues, I don’t think you’re getting the full value out of the University. What I tried to do was to do more things with our talent outside the gates, to get us more involved. The side benefit of that is that you get more well known in the region, the state, the governor’s office, in congress, and around. That eventually helps enrollment and our reputation as well. That’s one new thing that I did, setting up all these new centers that we have.

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Cleaning Up Our Beaches || News

Boyan Slat, 19-year-old aerospace engineer at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, created a device to potentially clean 7,250,000 tons of plastic from the world’s oceans-proving that a mere college student can solve global problems.

It is advocated to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water each day; however, it is not necessary to drink this water from 16-ounce plastic bottles. To see the harm of plastic pollution, just Google a picture of the United States’ very own “plastic beach” (also known as Kamilo Beach, Hawaii). In eight years, 260,000 pounds of plastic was collected from this beach during routine cleanups, according to the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. To give some perspective-on average, an empty plastic water bottle only weighs 0.03 pounds. Kamilo Beach is just one of many polluted beaches around the world, due to the five major oceanic gyres, which are rotating systems of ocean currents that essentially attract millions of tons of plastic.

No one wants to swim in plastic soup, including marine life, but recently it seems that they do not have a choice. Research by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that over 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds die from trash-related deaths each year. Furthermore, the University of British Columbia specifically studied the deaths of Northern Fulmars, a seabird common to the Northeast Atlantic regions. They found that 92.5 percent of the 67 birds studied had some form of plastic in their stomachs, ranging from 37 pieces per bird to 454 pieces.

Wildlife deaths and oceanic pollution can be stopped, but it is up to the public. The bottled water industry is entirely demand driven; therefore, in order to see results in the environment, the demands of the people must be altered. Some activists have displayed productive efforts, such as Concord, Massachusetts’ prohibition of the sale of plastic water bottles and the industry’s overall weight reduction of plastic bottles. However, Slat may have found the most effective solution of them all.

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Brighton Stabbing || News

Long Branch resident Robert Powers Sr. was attacked by his son, Robert Powers Jr., who yielded a machete and a switchblade knife upon the arrival of Long Branch Police Department (LBPD) last Monday. Powers Sr. received first aid for a head injury, according to LBPD.

Long Branch Director of Public Safety Jason Roebuck said that LBPD received a call about two males fighting outside at 121 Brighton Avenue around 5:00 pm on Monday. One of the subjects threatened to kill the other and then dragged him back into the house.

When police arrived on the scene, Powers Sr. opened the door bleeding from a head wound. He told officers he was attacked by his son and was then removed from the residence, according to Roebuck. Powers Jr., who was still inside, approached the officers with a switchblade knife. The officers drew their weapons and backed out of the residence, he said.

The officers were followed out by Powers Jr., who claimed that he was “Jesus Christ” and “the second coming of the Satanic Christ,” according to Public Safety.  Powers Jr. went back inside while police surrounded the house, said Roebuck.

The subject continued to yell incoherently at the officers using racial slurs and inappropriate names while holding a machete. Powers Jr. also made a fake Molotov cocktail, which police suspected to be made with water and a wick, Roebuck added.

Reinforcements called to the scene included the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team (MOCERT), West Long Branch Police Department (WLBPD), Long Branch Fire and First Aid and other off-duty officers, according to Public Safety.

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