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Entertainment

Volume 84 (Fall 2012 - Spring 2013)

Actor Nick Offerman Performs in Pollak Theatre

nick_offermanWith no shirt on, Nick Offerman took the Pollak Theatre stage Thursday night with a guitar in one hand and an American flag shirt in the other. He approached the mic and gave a simple, deep-voiced “Good evening.”

“Life can be this delicious,” he said as he rubbed his stomach, which is far from a six-pack. Before placing his patriotic shirt on, he said, “I warned you. Minor nudity advertised; minor nudity achieved.”

Offerman plays Ron Swanson on NBC’s hit comedy Parks and Recreation. Besides the mustache, the audience got to see just how far the similarities between him and his character go.

He prepared the crowd by warning them of sing-a-longs, sea shanties, Bible talk and that, of course, meat would be mentioned.

Through the course of the 135-minute set, Offerman told stories about him and his wife, Megan Mullally, who is best known for portraying Karen Walker on Will & Grace. He shared how he believed The Bible was created, his times as a born-again Christian, and The Hobbit.

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Dave Grohl Releases Epic Collaboration

davegrohlDave Grohl is hands down one of the greatest musicians of all time. He played drums for the legendary grunge band Nirvana and founded the Foo Fighters, who are one of the biggest rock groups around today.

Last year, Grohl decided to give directing a chance and made a documentary called Sound City, which is about the iconic rock studio of the same name in Van Nuys, California. The soundtrack to the movie is called Sound City – Real to Reel. The album was orchestrated by Grohl, along with several other artists who recorded records in the studio. The album is one of the strongest rock releases of 2013 so far.

The album kicks off with the track “Heaven and All,” which features Dave Grohl on drums, Black Rebel Motorcycle Clubs’ Peter Hayes on guitar and Rob­ert Levon Been on vocals. The song is a great way to kick the album off and is pure rock and roll. All of the musicians are in sync and start the album off with a lot of energy.

“Time Slowing Down” is the next track, which no pun intend­ed, slows down the pace of the album only for a moment. Each verse is slower paced and me­lodic, followed by an up-tempo chorus with booming drums and blaring guitars. Grohl plays gui­tar on this track and is accom­panied by Chris Goss on vocals. The rhythm section of Rage Against the Machine is also fea­tured with Tom Commerford on bass and Brad Wilk on drums.

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Students and Faculty Enjoy Reading by Prestigious Author

Gaitskill-MaryAuthor Mary Gaitskill visited Wilson Auditorium on March 12 to give a reading and speak about her writing process.

Gaitskill has written three nov­els as well as various short stories and essays. She has received much praise for her work, including nominations for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Award. One of her short stories, “Secretary,” was even turned into a film of the same title with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. With a career spanning over twen­ty years, the author had plenty to share with the audience about her experiences.

Assistant Professor of Eng­lish, Josh Emmons, introduced Gaitskill with a quote from Joyce Carol Oates: “Art should not be comforting; for comfort, we have mass entertainment and one an­other. Art should provoke, disturb, arouse our emotions, expand our sympathies in directions we may not anticipate and may not even wish.” Gaitskill’s work tends to be anything but comforting.

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New Timberlake Album Mirrors Perfection

JustinTimberlake_2020Experience-1024x1024If the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true, then the end of the late 90’s boy band craze must have given Justin Timberlake superpowers.

Ten years after ‘N Sync bit the dust, he’s still one of the most well re­spected pop stars the world has today, and his latest monster of a record, The 20/20 Experience, is undeniable proof of this.

Where the rest of his boy band brethren have all but faded into ob­scurity, Timberlake has been a con­sistent, omnipresent force in the world of pop culture since his 2002 solo debut Justified, along with his breakout mega-single “Cry Me a Riv­er,” took the music world by storm.

His second album, 2006’s Future Sex/Love Sounds, was an innovative album that further cemented Timber­lake as an important figure in mod­ern pop music. Basically, Timberlake could not be stopped.

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A Serious Look at a Practical Joker

ArCDozens of people filed into the Pollak Theater for Abel Raises Cain, the latest installment of the On Screen, In Person series on Thursday, March 14. The audience was varied, but due to some nu­dity, sensitive viewers and minors were encouraged to use discretion when deciding to attend.

The event began at 7:30 pm with a brief introduction from Matthew Lawrence, specialist professor of communication, followed by Jen­ny Abel, one of the co-directors, giving a short discussion of what the film would be about.

Abel Raises Cain portrays the life of Alan Abel, described as a “professional hoaxer,” who made a career out of pulling large-scale pranks on both the media and the public. However, the film didn’t just showcase his work. It also went into detail about what in­spired him, his financial hardships and his life today. Some of his major works were highlighted, in­cluding a satirical film he worked called Is There Sex After Death? Most of the nudity was confined to this portion of the documentary.

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Rejoice for Tomb Raider Reboot

Whether you’ve played the original games or not, you’ve probably heard of the “Tomb Raider” franchise. Made from nine games, two movies, three novels, a number of comic books and an animated television series, this wildly successful venture has always revolved around the protagonist Lara Croft, a young, female, British archeologist.

However, all of these have had a very similar outlook on the leading lady. She’s purported as a fiercely independent, able-to-handle-anything woman who can be shot at, blown up and stranded in a hostile wasteland without breaking a sweat. To top it off, she’s known for her disproportionate frame (huge breasts and a disturbingly narrow waist), which is squeezed into a v-cut tank top and booty shorts.

The “Tomb Raider” reboot doesn’t have any of these features, and I couldn’t be happier.

Throwing the player into the perspective of 21-year-old Croft, the game begins with her aboard the Endurance, a ship exploring the Dragon’s Triangle, a place that “makes the Bermuda Triangle look like a picnic.” She is one member of a team looking for the lost Japanese Kingdom of Yamati, home to the mythical sun queen, Himiko. Minutes into the opening sequence, a storm rips the ship in half, casting Croft into the surging ocean.

She wakes on a foreign shore, only several hundred feet from the other survivors, but they can’t see her. Moving to call out, she’s struck across the face, once again getting knocked out.

You get to control Croft when she wakes, having been hung by her feet from the ceiling of an ancient cave in preparation for sacrifice. Though you manage to free her, she is impaled in the fall when a small spike rams through her side. Gasping for breath, you guide her through the cave, lighting material that blocks her path on fire.

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Justin Townes Earle Rocks Pollak

earleThe soulful Justin Townes Earle made his way to Pollak Theatre at the University this past Saturday, March 9. The blues inspired country-alternative singer nearly packed the theater and the charming country artist Tift Merritt was there to open for his performance. The show was originally scheduled for November 4 and had been rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy.

Merritt opened with her powerful yet soft acoustic song “Sunday” off of Bramble Rose. She appeared to be running off of nervous energy and halfway into her set she accidentally told the audience how great it was to be in Red Bank. Merritt bounced back and explained that she’s been on tour for a while so it’s been hectic keeping up with the names of different towns. She continued with a heartfelt performance and played some tunes off of her record Traveling Alone released back in October 2012. “It’s my favorite thing in the whole world to play in a theatre with well behaved people,” Merritt said to the crowd before closing with “Another Country.”

After intermission, Earle took the stage and was welcomed with a warm round of applause from the audience. He fired off with his quick guitar finger picking and began singing “They Killed John Henry” off of Midnight At the Movies. He performed a variety of numbers from his discography including tracks like “Maria” from his upcoming album Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now due for release on March 27, 2013 with Bloodshot Records. Earle also announced early on that he’s in the middle of writing a new record and will start recording this May.

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Irish Peace Activist Performs on Campus

sandsThe Irish folksinger Tommy Sands paid a visit to the University on Monday, March 4. The Irish peace activist performed here as the start of a tour across America.

Sands has been a peace activist for much of his life. Being the son of two musicians, he used his talent to write songs in order to bring to light serious issues such as The Troubles, a brutal religious and political military conflict that lasted for roughly 30 years in Ireland.

Sands also recently paid a visit to Reno, Nevada, and wrote songs for imprisoned juveniles to help appeal to a local judge.

Sands performed live in Wilson Hall with his son Fionan Sands. The Sandses performed many of their more popular songs, such as “There Were Roses,” a song about a friend of Sands’s being murdered during The Troubles.

Sands also stitched his songs together using various stories, such as a famous fiddler player he knew growing up who managed to heal his dad through music when doctors failed.

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Great Discussion Built from "The Ruined Cottage"

The University hosted a talk entitled Imagining Harmony: Loss, Literature, and Human Flourishing on Monday, March 4. The event took place at 4:30 pm in Wilson Hall as part of the Distinguished Speaker series, run by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The talk was led by Adam S. Potkay, English professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. He is also the author of a wide variety of articles and books, including “The Story of Joy from the Bible to Late Romanticism” which won the Harry Levin Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association. In addition, he had “Wordsworth’s Ethics” published through the Johns Hopkins University Press in 2012.

The intention of the talk was to discuss the strange correlation between loss and human happiness by focusing on William Wordsworth’s narrative poem “The Ruined Cottage.”

Wordsworth (1770-1850) is widely considered to be one of the founders of romantic poetry. He later attended Cambridge University. In 1838, he was given an honorary doctorate in civil law from Durham University, then received the same honorary degree from Oxford in 1839.

The poem is about a small house that has fallen into disrepair, since those who once inhabited it passed away some time prior. Despite seeing a formerly happy home overrun by nature, the narrator, Armytage, turns away in joy, a paradox that confuses some. Potkay would not only discuss this scene, but its extension onto literature as a whole.

After a brief introduction by Jeffrey Jackson and Dr. Lisa Vetere, both professors of English, Potkay stood in front of a full room to discuss and critique “The Ruined Cottage”.

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“Two Trains Running” is a Runaway Hit

Two-Trains-Running“Two Trains Running” came to its final stop this week after a successful month-long run at Two River Theater Company.

The play takes place in 1960s Pittsburgh and is part of playwright August Wilson’s 10-play cycle. The cycle depicts the lives of African Americans in each decade of the 1900s.

Taking place in the 1960s means dealing with the civil rights movement in a big way, but that does not mean the play is full of tears and angst. Wilson expertly demonstrates how characters find hope in an era of oppression.

Chuck Cooper shines in his sarcastic moments as diner-owner Memphis. Memphis is trying to prevent the city from buying his diner. Pittsburgh authorities hasn’t offered him nearly enough money for the building and he isn’t giving up what is his without a fight. He would probably keep to himself if it weren’t for the regular customers who keep him on his toes.

Wolf (John Earl Jelks) is a slick bookie who runs numbers in the diner while Holloway (James A. Williams) sits back and plays the numbers with his social security. West (Harvy Blanks), despite being the richest man in town, drops by often for a cup of coffee served by Risa (Roslyn Ruff), a quiet, depressed waitress.

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Songs for the Season

song-seasonWe’ve had three long months of winter, and it seems like it will never end. And suddenly, like the leaves on an oak tree, things begin to change. Cue the beautiful songbirds and bushy-tailed critters that got to sleep through that freezing mess. Spring has arrived, and it couldn’t have come sooner.

Now how do you approximate this feeling to an album’s worth of music?

It seems completely arbitrary to assign a piece of music to a particular season, but it’s not hard to see characteristics often identified with a season like spring emulated in an artist’s music. Excluding pieces by composers (sorry, Vivaldi), these six albums, ranging from a number of decades, are all very distinct from one another, yet all six manage to conjure up, through sound alone, the feelings, images and sensations associated with the pristine beauty of springtime. Those with strong seasonal allergies can rejoice, as there’s no pollen to water your eyes here, just blissful, unique music.

1) Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968) – How did Van Morrison choose to follow up his sunny hit single “Brown Eyed Girl?” He created the cosmic, groundbreaking wonderland known as Astral Weeks. Though it failed to make the commercial splash that his debut and subsequent albums would make, Astral Weeks is Morrison’s finest moment, an adventurous and challenging experience that blends blues, jazz, folk and pop into Morrison’s own unique swirling concoction.

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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