Last updateFri, 08 May 2020 6pm


The Material Girl Hasn’t Lost Her Pop Sound

Material Girl Pop SoundSuper Bowl XLVI was the last time that I have seen Madonna perform live, bringing back a sense of nostalgia for all her fans.

On her Facebook page, she updated her status on December 17, 2010 which stated, “Its official! I need to move. I need to sweat. I need to make new music! Music I can dance to. I’m on the lookout for the maddest, sickest, most bad a** people to collaborate with. I’m just saying...”

The Facebook update had fans looking forward to her newest album, MDNA, which was released on March 23.

When I was growing up in the 90’s, Madonna was a music icon. Her hit songs such as “Like a Virgin,” “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Vogue” were heard on the radio and TV all the time.

Leading up to today, she has had a successful music and acting career. With the release of MDNA, Madonna is once again the talk of the year.

“Give Me All Your Luvin,” featuring Nicki Minaj, became the first hit single for MDNA. Those who watched the Super Bowl had a chance to watch her perform it live during the halftime show with Minaj.

Even though this song had a catchy melody, the lyrics were too repetitive and cheesy for me. The first two lines of the song, “LUV Madonna YOU Madonna,” made me feel like I was listening to a high school cheerleader team.

During the halftime show, I guess that the song was appropriate for the game, but I still wasn’t a fan after hearing it.

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These Short Stories Are a Real ‘Knock’ Out

Short Stories Knock outCritically renowned Israeli author Etgar Keret released another collection of short stories titled “Suddenly, a Knock at the Door” that fans will laud over for weeks. This is the fifth collection of short stories released in the United States by Keret, translated from Hebrew, and shows that even the most overused cliché can open a door to a world full of possibilities and strange people that make a story unique and lifelike.

Keret has been publishing short stories since 1992, coauthoring some graphic novels released in Israel and working for the Israel film and television industry. Keret didn’t gain world recognition until 2004 when a collection of short stories (“The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God and Other Short Stories”) was released in the U.S. Now his stories can be found in The New Yorker, The New York Times and featured on NPR’s “This American Life.” His stories have also been portrayed in graphic novels and his novella “Kneller’s Happy Campers,” which was adapted into the independent movie, Wristcutters: A Love Story starring Patrick Fugit and Tom Waits (it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival). Keret has won prestigious writing awards including being named a Chevalier of France’s Order of Arts and Letters.

Upon first view of the book, many fans may notice the difference in thickness and weight; it’s much bigger than his previous releases. This is a very good thing for the fans that want longer stories and more to read in one collection. With 35 stories offered that range from a single paragraph to over 20 pages long, any fan of short stories should be thrilled with this release.

They are silly but mature, find the ordinary in the weird, or suggest a unique view of this violent, cruel world. Keret switches hats constantly but his characters never leave the restraints of everyday life, only subtle differences explain their existence or give their purpose in life.

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The 31st Annual Black Maria Film + Video Festival Was Hip

entertainment-hip-priestFrom a Hip Priest to dancing buttons, the 31st annual Black Maria Film + Video Festival treated viewers to a fascinating collection of narrative, documentary, animated or experimental short films on March 26 in Pollak Theatre.

Donna Dolphin, associate professor of communication and juror for this year’s festival, welcomed a large crowd. Dolphin added that this festival has been held on campus for 21 years. She continued to say 13 of this year’s 70 films would be screened at the University. Dolphin also mentioned that “Black Maria is a competition and celebration of indie works, some of which are experimental in nature. The work you are about to see is different from what you are accustomed to on TV or when you go to Loew’s.”

Dolphin added the films “can be challenging at times,” and that “Black Maria engages us with the filmmaker to do a little work.” She then introduced John Columbus, founder and director of the Black Maria Film + Video Festival.

Columbus explained Black Maria, located in West Orange, was the first motion picture studio, where inventor Thomas Edison would make short, silent films.

Columbus also discussed the first six films and said Hip Priest was a “labor of love” for director George de Domenico, “who grew up Roman Catholic and wanted to do something on a street preacher.” Colubmus said that for We’re Part of the City: 4th Movement,dealing with Occupy Wall Street, “What happens to the sound is important… think of a sonic artist put in the middle of a protest movement.”

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Don’t Evade the Comedy of 21 Jump Street

Entertainment-21_jump_streetWhen you think back to high school, do you shudder at the thought of braces and being shoved into lockers? Or do you think of varsity jackets and ruling the hallways? No matter what your repressed memories of the golden years are, 21 Jump Streetwill still keep you laughing all the way to the “Korean Jesus” of this famous address.

For Schmidt (Jonah Hill), his nightmares of high school consist of bleach blonde hair and being rejected by his dream girl for the prom. Jenko (Channing Tatum), on the other hand, looks fondly back on those four years as the football star.

However, several years have passed since the awkward time of adolescence, and Jenko and Schmidt are now partners-againstcrime (or the lack thereof) as police officers. But, being that they are basically inept at doing anything but handing out tickets, they are assigned to patrol the local park on their bicycles.

After a stint involving a local gang of bikers and a lack of Miranda rights, Jenko and Schmidt are given a new assignment: go undercover as high school students to try and bust who is creating and selling a new drug that is taking over the campus and killing students. Their operation is known as 21 Jump Street, which is also the address the operation is based out of, known as the rundown Korean church in town.

Tatum is well-cast as the arrogant high school jock reminiscent of Kelso from “That 70’s Show.” And for every swooning teenage girl (and her mother), the movie frequently pokes fun of his good looks and his stereotypical dumb demeanor. Hill is also well-cast as his nerdyyet- still-kind-of-slow partner, making the pair the true underdogs of the precinct. Together, they form a brotherhood of great chemistry and a goofy sense of humor.

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People Keep a Strong Tune While Working Through Life

entertainment-workingWorking, a witty and inspirational musical about the average working class citizen opened at the Lauren K. Woods Theatre on Wednesday, March 28. A moderately sized and eager crowd gathered to watch the latest theatrical success to be performed by University students.

The stage was set to satirize the worker mentality with each actor given a designated “cubicle.” Some were stacked on top of each other, a move that gave the actors and actresses much more room to dance and interact without having to leave the stage or stand idly by.

A screen at the top of the set displayed quotes from Studs Terkel, the author of “Working..” “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of immortality too. Stories pass from one generation to another,” said Terkel. This hunger for stories inspired a musical that was captivating for more than just its catchy music and skillful acting; it was captivating because the musical is about us.

Director and Choreographer Nicole Ricciardi expressed her love of the play’s content. “I like it because every word is true. Every night I hear something different. [This version is] brand new, it’s a complete reworking of the original.”

The actors in Workingplayed members of many different professions, so each role was simply titled, “Man #1” or “Woman #2.” The cast consisted of Brandon Wiener (Man #1), Michael Rosas (Man #2), Henry O. Siebecker (Man #3), Taylor Bogan (Woman #1), Jasmine Walker (Woman #2) and Sarah Clemency (Woman #3). “The play used to have 26 actors,” Ricciardi says. “It was adapted to only use six. It was incredible.”

Considering the variety of roles and responsibilities each performer had to take on, I was skeptical about how well they would do. I was blown away by a combination of distinct personalities and beautiful delivery. If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve thought I was watching a Broadway production.

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Fine Art Stretches From Pollak Gallery to Ice House Gallery

entertainment-art-exhibitGraduating seniors presented their fine art pieces last Friday night as part of the Senior Art Exhibit on display at the Rotary Ice House Gallery and Pollak Gallery.

There were numerous paintings, photographs and sculptures by eight different artists, each having their own section to present work highlighting their progress and work at the University.

Both galleries were filled with families, friends, students and professors delighted with the art and offered plenty of kind remarks. Some spectators took pictures of pieces they liked while others enjoyed refreshments and the atmosphere, like Pablo Marin, a graduate of the Art Department.

“I came to see professors, students and, of course, all the great art. I really appreciate how the Art and Design departments are really well knit,” said Marin. “We’ve hung out before class, after class. Just the support they get from the faculty and from fellow students is pretty cool.”

The Rotary Ice House Gallery upstairs’ walls were filled with photography portraits by seniors Brittany Lee Platt and Danielle Kappock. Despite both using photography, their selections hung on opposite walls as their subjects and inspirations varied greatly.

Platt’s had a unifying theme seen in each portrait, her models standing out in front of the black background. Paper and magazine clippings that appeared like tattoos are plastered on the naked skin, with each blemish, scar and freckle bare. The first portrait displayed a quote circling the model’s neck and shoulders that said “Oh the places you’ll go.”

One tattoo looked like a red rose, another with plaster that appeared like a bird. The graduating photographer included a type out on what inspired her work titled, Media Impact, saying, “Today’s culture is over saturated with news and popular media, imagery, and written commentary that in part contributes to the framing of our development as men and women.”

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Natasha Trethewey Captivated Listeners With Her Poetry

poetry-readingAfrican-American poet Natasha Trethewey visited Wilson Hall Auditorium last Thursday to read poems from her upcoming release titled “Thrall.” The event was presented by the University’s Center for the Arts Visiting Writer’s Series.

Trethewey, born in Mississippi, is a renowned writer with three collections of poetry released including “Native Guard,” which earned her the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. She is also the author of a creative non-fiction book titled “Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

Trethewey has been the recipient of many awards and honors and was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

The event was attended by many including undergraduate and graduate students, professors and fans of Trethewey.

Hannah Portnoy, an adjunct for the English department, who was attending the event with her class, said the students “really wanted to come” to this event and she thought it be great for them as well. “I just love poetry and literature. We’re in the English department and I think that it’s good to have [students] exposed to it,” said Portnoy. “It’s very important for the students to gain experience in listening; it adds another dimension. And it’s always wonderful to meet and hear the poet.”

Michael Thomas, Director of the Visiting Writer’s Series, started the reading with a great introduction, saying, “Without music, without art, without poetry, literature, we don’t survive, we don’t prosper. Also, we need you, our audience, scholars and listeners. We need your attention because without all of you, one might say the poems don’t have life, they don’t breathe.”

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I See Stars Has the Right Beat in Digital Renegade

digital-renegadeIt appears that everything nowadays is slowly making the move to become digital. One can shop, read the newspaper and even pay bills through digital methods.

Is it possible that even rock and metalcore are moving in a digital direction as well? With the release of I See Stars’ new album Digital Renegade, it certainly appears to be possible.

I See Stars is composed of lead singer Devin Oliver, unclean vocalist Zach Johnson, Jeff Valentine on bass guitar, Brent Allen on lead guitar, Jimmy Gregerson on rhythm guitar, and Andrew Oliver on drums.

Digital Renegadeis the band’s third full-length album and their strongest effort to date.

Many fans of the band were disappointed with their last release The End of the World Party which was released a little over a year ago. The band took a pop punk approach to the album that was considerably lighter than their first album, 3-D. Many fans were unhappy with this approach and wanted I See Stars to return to their heavier roots. I See Stars seemed to get that memo and Digital Renegade was exactly what the fans ordered.

The album kicks off with a song called “Gnars Attacks,” and it immediately hits you like a punch in the face. The speakers are invaded with the chanting of “Burn every bridge you ever built, how do you live with yourself,” accompanied with electronic beats and of course the usual metalcore/ punk sounds of I See Stars. The song focuses on the idea of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer and is a great way to start things off. Right away you pick up on how impressive Oliver’s vocals have become since the last album, not to mention the powerful screams of Johnson.

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A Citizen’s View of the Algerian Civil War

rachidaImagine living in constant fear that the ones who will rob your house and potentially kill you aren’t foreign terrorists or some enemy of the state but your neighbors from next door. This is the fear that characters in the film Rachida f eel o n a d aily b asis. A t one point, school teacher Rachida (Ibtissem Djouadi) even exclaims, “I’m in exile in my own country!”

Rachidawas screened in Pollak Theatre as the third movie in this year’s Provost Film Series. It is set during the civil war that affected the country in the 1990’s. If you were like me, you probably weren’t even aware that there was such a country called Algeria back then (if it’s for the same reason as me, then you were too young to know or care).

 Dr. Thomas Pearson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, gave a quick history lesson about the Algerian civil war before the movie started. However, while it was very informative and gave good context for the film, it didn’t make the audience resonate with the Algerians nearly as much as the movie did.

Rachidabegins w ith R achida, a teacher, on her way to school. However, as she heads toward work, she is pressured into bringing a bomb into the school by former students of hers who have joined the revolting Algerians. When she refuses, they shoot her and leave Rachida for dead.

Right off the bat the audience is shown the torment the citizens felt during this civil war. Rachida makes a recovery physically, but the psychological scars still remain. Rachida moves to the countryside with her mother and begins teaching at a school there. However, the countryside is just as bad, if not even worse, than the city.

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The Hunger Games is a Well-Played Adaptation

hunger-gamesThe Hunger Games certainly did not disappoint fans as it hit theaters this past weekend. The first adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling book trilogy managed to stay relatively faithful to the source material without compromising the integrity of the movie.

The action-packed sci-fi film introduces audiences to Panem, a future version of North America that has been divided into 12 districts. The districts are closely monitored and regulated by the Capitol.

In order to prevent an uprising, the Capitol holds the Hunger Games every year. Here, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are randomly chosen and forced to enter a fight to the death, which is televised and considered required viewing for all Panem residents.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the games. She only volunteers to protect her sister, but the reality is that she does have a good chance at surviving because she illegally hunts. She has become the main provider for her family since her father died.

In the book, a lot of time is spent on Katniss’ role as the adult in her family, but the movie manages to get the message across very quickly. Though her mother is only in a couple scenes, the way Katniss speaks to her clearly conveys that Katniss is the caretaker.

Lawrence plays Katniss rather perfectly. In fact, she actually brings a certain vulnerability to Katniss that makes the movie version more likable than the character in the book. Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta Mellark well, but his job as the boy-next-door type wasn’t exactly hard. Woody Harrelson was great as functioning alcoholic and mentor, Haymitch Abernathy.

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The Power of Forgiveness is Explored in Fambul Tok

03.21.12_Page_12_Image_0002Could you forgive someone who committed atrocities to you, your family and your community? That was the question posed in the documentary, Fambul Tok, which was screened in Pollak Theatre on March 5 as part of On Screen In Person (a film series where directors present their films and partake in Q&A’s).

On Screen In Person was sponsored by the Department of Communication and Center for the Arts and funded by the National Endowment of the Arts’ Regional Touring Program.

Andrew Demirjian, specialist professor of communication, welcomed everyone and introduced director Sara Terry. He said Terry has won a number of awards and is founder of the Aftermath Project, a non-profit organization that allows photographers to capture images in post-war countries. Demirjian said, “I am excited to watch this with you and have a great discussion.”

Terry thanked the audience and said the film was “a very specific post-conflict story” and asked, “What does it mean to be human?” Terry added, “I think the film is best experienced the way it was edited.”

Fambul Tok focused on villages in Sierra Leone, Africa, where fambul tok, or family talk, is used to forgive people for actions committed during its civil war (1991- 2002). Performed around a bon fire at night, victims and attackers face each other in the hopes of amending relations. Individuals are also recorded talking about their past experiences before their fambul tok ceremony. The film also featured John Caulker, founder of Fambul Tok, as he traveled around the country and tried to help bring peace to these communities. (He’s presented as a strong worker and inspiration for fixing his country through this “old tradition.”)

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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

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