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Entertainment

Wii U Launch Fails to Reach New Heights

Nintendo and I have been going to counseling lately. I want to see new people because Nintendo just isn’t delivering what they promised me. I told them that the Wii U was their last chance to win me back. Did they succeed? Uh… let’s just say I filed for separation.

The Wii U is supposed to be our first glimpse at the next generation of gaming. As far as first impressions go, this was a very lackluster experience.

Let’s start by taking a look at the Wii U hardware. We’ve got a new controller that has a touch screen and, in some cases, shows the game on the screen as well as the TV, kind of like the Nintendo DS. This is actually a really cool controller; props to Nintendo for their creativity here.

It’s a neat idea, it works pretty well and it’d probably be a great new controller for the Wii- wait, this isn’t a new controller, it’s a new console that costs 300 bucks. That’s ok, I just happened to have 300 dollars that I was going to flush down a toilet.

Well, if a DS controller isn’t your cup of tea, you can use the Pro Gamepad. What is this? It’s an Xbox 360 controller. Yes, it’s literally an Xbox 360 controller with Nintendo’s logo slapped on it.

I know this is the default controller most gamers use and it’s perfectly fine to use, but this is Nintendo- they pioneer in developing new and unusual things, then making them work. I wanted Nintendo to try something new and take risks like it usually does.

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Student Spotlight: Bryan Haring and Seasons

Bryan Haring is quite the entertainer. The junior dazzled audiences with his best cockney British accent as Staff Sergeant Froggy LeSeur in the fall play, “The Foreigner”. While Haring seemed pretty comfortable on the Lauren K. Woods Theatre’s stage, he is a bit more at home playing with his band Seasons.

Seasons is an electronic hard rock band in which Haring sings and plays synthesizer. Haring describes his band’s music as “a mix between Muse and Panic! at the Disco.”

Seasons didn’t come together in the easiest way. Haring and guitarist Dylan Sorkin had to really search for band members who would play together well after multiple bands they were in separated.

Haring said, “After [the last band] dissolved, I sought out Ryan Kroon (drums), a classmate of mine from high school. After he agreed to join, we held auditions to find another guitarist. We also auditioned candidates for lead vocals (I had planned to play bass and sing backing vocals) and bass. Kyle Rinfret (vocals, guitar) really wowed Dylan and I at the audition, so we welcomed him aboard on the spot. After I decided to remain on lead vocals, we looked into a bassist. I phoned another classmate, Joe Vena (bass), since we had been in a band years earlier. He accepted, and the line-up was completed.”

Those who have heard Haring’s voice might find it surprising that he had not originally intended to be Seasons’ lead vocalist. Haring has only been singing for four years and playing piano for three. Haring’s interest in music started with the saxophone when he was ten. Haring said, “I joined the school band on alto saxophone when I was ten. I was hooked after that.”

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The Return of Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino fans will have plenty to talk about this week as two of his iconic films are being shown once again in theaters. In commemoration of Reservoir Dogs’ 20 year anniversary, the film was re-released in theaters on December 4 and Pulp Fiction is set to follow on December 6. According to Derek Feit, the General Manager of the AMC Lowes Theatre in the Monmouth Mall, the re-releases are shown only once at 7 pm on the days scheduled.

Reservoir Dogs is Tarantino’s first motion picture that he both wrote and directed. The plot revolves around six men hired to participate in a jewel heist and are given code names to protect their identity. The film premiered at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival and gave Tarantino recognition among the movie industry. Actors Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, and more star in the film along with Tarantino himself. The movie is just under two hours and is jam packed with witty dialogue and gruesome scenes that make Reservoir Dogs hard to forget.

The violent comedy Pulp Fiction was the second movie both written and directed by Tarantino. Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta play two mob hit men who find themselves in some messy situations that intertwine with the lives of other characters. Uma Thurman and Bruce Willis star in the film, which is just under three hours long. Pulp Fiction won Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen at the 1995 Academy Awards.

Professor John Morano, author of “Don’t Tell Me The Ending!”, a book for aspiring film critics, describes Tarantino as “Auterish”, meaning that audiences can expect certain traits in the film before they even enter the theatre. “For me, he’s unique among directors because he has films that I love like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs and at the same time he has films that I loathe like Kill Bill and others,” said Morano.

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Potentially Exciting Television

By now you’ve probably heard that “Boy Meets World” is coming back. Well, it might be coming back. The spin off series, titled “Girl Meets World”, could be on Disney channel next year if the series gets picked up. Right now it is considered ‘in development,’ the same place that Joss Whedon’s The Avengers spin off is along with what could be the new “Downton Abbey”. Networks are developing pilot episodes before to determine if these would be successful series. These are just a few of the series that television fans are keeping their fingers crossed to see on their screens next year.

“Girl Meets World” centers on 13 year-old Riley, Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga’s (Danielle Fishel) daughter, according to TVLine.com. Savage and Fishel have officially signed on to do the show, should it be given the green light for a season. There might not be too many original cast members hanging around.

Rider Strong, who portrayed Shawn, announced that he would not be joining the cast right now. Don’t count him out completely. On his website, Strong wrote, “There might be a chance to see some of the BMW cast in a guest spot, and I think it would be nice to find out where our characters have been all these years. But Girl Meets World will be, and I think it should be, [its] own show. It will be about Cory and Topanga, their daughter, and a new set of characters.”

 Don’t expect the new show to be all about Cory and Topanga because this is being developed for Disney channel. The channel is aiming to attract kids today, kids who didn’t necessarily grow up with life lessons from Mr. Feeny. The show is about Riley, her older brother Elliot, and her best friend Maya, an edgy girl who might not be as dark as she seems (who sounds like the Shawn to Riley’s Cory). They will probably be learning their lessons from their history teacher, Cory Matthews.

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A Side-Splitting Comedy by MU Students

The Foreigner, Monmouth University’s play for the fall semester, opened on Friday, November 16. With a book by the deceased Larry Shue and direction by theatre department chair Dr. John Burke, The Foreigner is a side-splitting show that anybody,  can find a lot of laughs in.

“It was fantastic,” said Kevin Long, a junior and music industry major. “Just fantastic.”

The Foreigner takes place at a fishing lodge in Tilghman County, Georgia, in “the recent past” (the time period the set and costumes put in my mind was the mid 1980s). In it, Charlie Baker (Henry O. Siebecker) is a simple science fiction proofreader visiting his British friend, Staff Sargent “Froggy” LeSueur (Bryan Haring). Charlie is upset that his unfaithful wife may be dying in the hospital and tells Froggy that he wishes to speak to nobody because of an anxiety problem. As a result, Froggy decides to tell the owner of the lodge, Betty Meeks (Taylor Bogan), that Charlie is a foreigner from a distant country. Betty, who has never travelled, is eager to have the exotic Charlie, who does not speak a word of English, in her home.

 As a result of his assumed obliviousness, the lodge patrons and their friends discuss all sorts of personal matters in front of Charlie, allowing him to be, for the first act at least, a silent window through which the audience learns the subplots and setting of the play.

We learn that the other people living in the lodge are Catherine Simms (Zoe Bulitt), a wealthy but bored Southern debutante, her younger sister Ellie May Simms (Jamee Shea), who is assumed to be slow, and the shady Reverend David Marshall Lee (Brandon Wiener), who is engaged to Catherine. Often visiting is David’s friend from town, the equally shady Owen Musser (Guy Battaglia), who reveals himself as one of the primary antagonists of the show.

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Racism is the Real Battle in Camp de Thiaroye

This past Monday I had the pleasure of seeing the film Camp de Thiaroye, the first film in this year’s Provost Film Series. It was hosted by Dr. Thomas S. Pearson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“I believe these films will give us a much deeper appreciation of not only the configuration of Africa and the different states and the different factions, but also we will come to appreciate the traditions and the communal practices and emphases of various African cultures,” said Pearson.

This year’s film series, titled African Journeys: Haunting Legacies, Fragile Futures, is about the tribulations faced by African peoples from Algeria to Rwanda. “We’re doing a lot of initiatives with diversity… as an area, many Americans need to know more [about Africa]. Many people have little exposure to films by Africans about life events there,” said Pearson. He also noted that this series is part of the cultural series of events occurring across campus, including lectures and performing arts series installments centered on African culture.

This is indeed a deep film. This semi-autobiographic film focused on a squad of West African soldiers who fought for the French during World War II. They come back from their tour of duty as heroes but, while waiting to be shipped home, they are first held at a French prison camp. They came out of an international war only to fight a personal one.

Director Ousmane Sembene starts the film off with a celebration, and for pretty much the rest of the film, that’s the happiest the audience will see the soldiers. It is a study in the prejudice black soldiers face even when they risk their lives to save others. The camp is located in the desert. It’s a very barren, dry, and lonely looking place. They have no one to turn to except each other.

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“So You Think You Can Dance” Comes to the MAC

entertainment-SYTYCD-webThe top 12 finalists of FOX’s reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” performed at the MAC on Saturday night, one of the last few stops on a 30-city tour. The tour gave fans a chance to see their favorite dancers perform dance routines from the competition as well as entirely new routines.

“So You Think You Can Dance” is a FOX reality dance competition. The Emmy award-winning show was started in 2005 by Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe, two of the minds behind “American Idol.” In his pre-recorded introduction of the show, Lythgoe called the program “America’s favorite summer series.”

The audience was mostly female. The few men there looked to be bored dads with their seven year olds. The pre-show included commercials for sponsors such as Libman Mops and Just Dance 4. It’s safe to say that this was their expected demographic. Of course, not only little girls went with their parents. Danielle Febus of Hackettstown is 27 and attended the show with her mother. She said she was attracted to the show because she used to dance.  

Many attendees had dance experience. Sue Suozzo of Ocean Township has been following the television series since the beginning. She used to coach gymnastics and cheerleading in addition to choreographing school plays. Suozzo said that she loves the show because, “It gives a great opportunity to young people to share their talent.”

One of those young people is finalist Amelia Lowe, a native of Butler, New Jersey. The 18-year-old has been dancing since she was three. In an interview with FOX.com, she described the rehearsal process as being very intense. “Not only are you doing dances that you’ve done on the show, but you’re doing new ones,” she said.

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Breaking Dawn’s Fantastic Finale

Fans all over have been waiting for the premiere of the epic conclusion to The Twilight Saga’s Breaking Dawn: Part Two. The first part of the fourth movie left fans with the long-awaited turning of Bella into a vampire, complete with the opening of her eyes to reveal their blood-red color.

Part two picks up where the last one left off. Bella is now awake and is looking at her surroundings with her super-enhanced vampiric sight, until her focus rests on Edward. The couple has a tender reunion, only to turn humorous as Bella crushes Edward in a hug with her newborn vampire strength. She is then reunited with the rest of the Cullen family in addition to Jacob Black and Renesmee, her daughter. The rest of the movie follows Bella and the crew as they adjust to their new lives and worry over the fate of the rapidly-growing Renesmee. There is then the threat of the powerful vampire government, the Volturi, who believe that Bella’s daughter could pose a danger to all vampires.

 Fans of both the books and the movies alike will be delighted with this final installment of the saga. The action of the film followed the novel almost perfectly, and paced the action in a way that held the audience’s interest. As in the other movies, the setting was beautifully done, and the cinematography captures the essence of the area in which these characters live. The actors put on a solid performance, making you see past the hype around Stewart and Pattinson’s personal lives and focus entirely on their characters. Not only were the main cast members phenomenal in their performance but so were the supporting cast members, including Mackenzie Foy, the little girl chosen to portray Renesmee.

The young girl did a surprisingly good job at remaining serious in her role, acting wiser beyond her years and fulfilling an image readers all over the world have had in their heads. Expectations like that can be tough on anyone, let alone an eleven year old, but Foy shines in her role.

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Green Day’s Second Strike

entertainment-dosTime sure flies, doesn’t it? It seems like it was less than two months ago that I was reviewing the last album from Green Day. Oh wait, it was less than two months ago.

Back in September, we saw the release of “¡Uno!”, an alleged “return to form” for Green Day that really just amounted to a mostly watered-down, sterilized attempt for the band to reclaim their glory years, with only a few worthwhile moments to be found. Ultimately, Green Day couldn’t live up to the hype.

Now we find ourselves in November, and with the release of “¡Dos!”, the second installment of their “epic” trilogy, we can finally look past the hype and judge the album for what it really is: an almost completely watered down, sterilized attempt for the band to reclaim their glory years, with even less worthwhile moments to be found.

I honestly can’t say that I was surprised by this outcome in the slightest, as “¡Dos!”, along with the soon-to-come “¡Tre!”, were produced during the same sessions that spawned “¡Uno!”, a marathon of sorts by Green Day to write as many sub-par power-pop songs as they possibly can. Unfortunately, this means that “¡Dos!” suffers from nearly all of the same problems found on “¡Uno!”, only now, after just going through this ordeal less than two months ago, it feels like insult to injury, like getting slapped on your already sunburned back.

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Student Spotlight: Mike Burke and Suburban Cliché

The Outlook recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Burke, sophomore music industry major, about his experience as a musician. He plays the guitar in the rock band Suburban Cliché alongside Cole Gallagher (vocals, guitar), Frank Toledano (vocals, bass), and Tom Bell (drums).

The Outlook: How did you first get started in music?

Michael Burke: I remember first getting started in music around 6th grade. Like in a lot of elementary schools, everyone got to play their little recorders and learn jingle bells during Christmas, but nothing really more than that. It was a small school and we didn’t have a ton of funding for the art programs. I remember wanting to do a little more than play a few notes on a squeaky plastic toy, so I took private saxophone lessons through a program after school. I couldn’t stand the saxophone; I only stuck with it long enough to play one school concert and quit after that. A little while passed, and I remember my dad casually telling me to mess around on a guitar, just to pick it up and get a feel even if I didn’t know how to play. I remember sitting in my den strumming the guitar, open string and awful sounding, just getting the beat to some Bruce songs. From there on, it just progressed a little more each time until I was actually playing some notes and chords.

The Outlook: What instrument do you play?

MB: Guitar is my most comfortable instrument. I’ve been playing it for about 6 years now. I also play bass, drums, and piano.

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Taylor Swift Shows Many Colors on “Red”

Taylor Swift is perplexingly amazing. Her lyrics aren’t phenomenal, her melodies are predictable and her voice is only average. Yet, somehow, she still always manages to churn out an album that I will listen to on repeat for weeks. She continues this trend with her latest effort, “Red.”

The Pennsylvania native’s fourth studio album is titled “Red” because the moments in her life that she writes about are all moments that she sees in the color.  In her album booklet, Swift has a prologue where she explains the moments that inspired the album: “These are moments of newfound hope, extreme joy, intense passion, wishful thinking, and in some cases, the unthinkable letdown. And in my mind, every one of these memories looks the same to me. I see all of these moments in bright, burning, red.”

The country singer hasn’t just been influenced by pop music; she has started writing with some of the best names in pop. Swedish producers Max Martin and Shellback co-wrote three songs with Swift: “I Knew You Were Trouble.”, “22”, and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Martin and Shellback have collaborated with Pink, Adam Lambert and Britney Spears.

Taylor Swift, while she sells to the same demographic, isn’t really the same type of pop star. She has typically strayed away from synthesizer driven, overproduced tracks. Those three tracks are all very heavy on the electronic elements, and they don’t sound like typical Taylor Swift songs.

The Max Martin songs are irritatingly high pitched and repetitive. Yet, they have helped her sell records. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was the first and only single released before the album dropped and Swift sold 1.2 million records in her first sales week alone. It was the largest sales week for an individual album in a decade, according to Billboard.

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