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Singer John Legend and actor/rapper Common teamed up for the soulful Oscar-winning song “Glory,” which was written for the Oscar-nominated film “Selma.” While the historical drama itself was snubbed from any Oscar wins (which led to a lot of buzz about the Oscars being racist or biased), “Glory” took home the win in the “best original song” category.
Walking in the Thought Lot Saturday night, the first thing many people heard was the sound of a mandolin, guitar, fiddle, banjo and many more bluegrass instruments that were full of twang as the band Seldom Said No and Jerry Rigged took the stage for the night.
When I first saw the trailer for “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” I expected it to be a “James Bond-for-teens” type of movie.
Among the countless controversies and generally boring 87th Academy Awards Show, one controversy stands out. Many people have complained about Joan Rivers not appearing in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the Oscars.
Journalist and author Wil Haygood talked about his career with Shippensburg University students on the stage of the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center Thursday before the H.O.P.E Diversity Scholarship program.
Wil Haygood related how his story and movie, "The Butler," about the life of Eugene Allen, who was a butler at the White House during eight presidential administrations, became a reality.
This Friday marks the return of one of television’s popular and critically acclaimed television shows – “House of Cards.” The new season will be available for streaming on Feb. 27 and will pick up where it left off at the end of Season 2. Newly sworn-in president of the United States has risen to the top of the political food chain and obtained the power he was seeking. The only question is can he manage it or, better yet, keep it?There are many other leftover storylines from the Season 2 finale. A personal favorite of mine is the fate of Doug Stamper, portrayed by Michael Kelly. What will the first lady’s role be in the upcoming season? Is Frank truly protected from all his previous transgressions that got him to where he is now?Kevin Spacey, coming off his award-winning performance as Frank Underwood, has been exhilarating to watch as he works his magic on the unsuspecting people of Washington, D.C. Robin Wright is equally as frightening as her on-screen husband, but brings a whole different element to the show as she gracefully schemes with her weapons of choice like no other could.“House of Cards,” which debuted in 2013 on Netflix, has gripped people ever since Frank Underwood opened the door of his home to deal with some “pain.”You can catch up on both seasons of the critically acclaimed show on Netflix. Be sure to look out for the third season on Feb 27.
The mics were set, the crowd gave their input for scenes in a hat, and they were not disappointed. “Game on: Improv!” hosted their first show of the semester on Friday night. They are a comedy group that performs games from the hit TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” The group decided on a theme and played off of the newest craze “50 Shades of Grey.” There were many laughs shared throughout the night. It takes a lot of courage to participate in these games, in front of people, and you just have to let go, sometimes. I am actually a part of the group, as well, and got to participate in some games throughout the night. My favorite game that I participated in was Party Quirks. Each party guest has a quirk and mine was pretty brutal. I had to go to this party having just survived a car crash. It was challenging, but fun to adapt to the scene. Before joining this group, I couldn’t have done what I did, Friday night. It has been a group where I can expand and express myself. It was certainly a night of laughs. Throughout the show, audience members can participate. One crowd favorite is “Human Puppets,” where an audience member has to control the movements of the improv member within the scene. The given scene from the night was “Fightclub.” Another entertaining game from the night were the sound effects, where two audience members get to grab the mics and make outrageous sounds within the scene. The given prompt was a gay bar, and you could only imagine what happened. I talked to several members of the club and Keith Russell, the president, stated that his favorite aspect of “Game on: Improv!” is that he “likes making people laugh and that this group can give confidence to people, as well as becoming more comfortable in front of an audience.” Another member, Andrew Davies, likes that this group “can boost your confidence and that it’s a great stress reliever.” The environment was welcoming and the crowd loved every minute of the late-night comedy. Halfway through the show, they had a special guest. They had an alumni member do a skit with another member as a reunion and to see them work so well, dynamically, was interesting to witness. It was certainly an exciting scene to watch. The last game to occur was the scenes from a hat. In this segment, the audience suggest prompts to play off of. For example, one of the suggestions was “things you can say to your car and not your mom.” One member responded, “It has junk in the trunk.” It was a thrilling night to partake in and a great show that showcased great comedy. “Game on: Improv!” hosts a show about every month and I look forward to another night where laughs can be shared.
The 87th Academy Awards wrapped up late Sunday night with “Birdman” winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. This marked the film’s fourth Oscar of the evening and essentially crowned the “Birdman,” especially its director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the night’s winner. Inarittu accepted the award for not only best picture, but in the best director and best original screenplay categories as well. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki also took home the Academy Award for his work in “Birdman,” his second in two years — he also won last year for “Gravity.” “Whiplash” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” tied for second in the award count, taking home three apiece. “The Grand Budapest” took home the majority of the cosmetic awards, winning for production design, costume design and makeup and hairstyling. “Whiplash” won for the more technical awards, such as sound mixing and film editing. J.K. Simmons also took home the award for actor in a supporting role, for his portrayal of a harsh and boisterous jazz instructor. Many of the winners used their speeches as a platform to speak on important social issues. Winner of the Academy Award for actress in a supporting role, Patricia Arquette, focused her speech on the topic of women’s rights. The audience went wild, specifically Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez on whom the camera was focused, after Arquette emphatically declaring it is, “time to have wage equality once and for all.”“Selma” has been one of the more controversial films leading up to this year’s award show due to its the lack of nominations. The film was able to win one of its two nominations, grabbing the award for best original song for “Glory” by Common and John Legend. The two took their time on stage to address racial issues that continue to divide our country. “There are more black men incarcerated today than were in slavery in 1850,” said Legend, “we wrote this film for events that happened 50 years ago but we say that Selma is now.” One of the more surprising winners of the night was Graham Moore who took home the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for his work on “The Imitation Game.” He started his speech light, but soon got into the subject of his fight with depression and attempted suicide, as a “weird” teenager. In hindsight, he cites this weirdness as what made him capable of winning an Oscar and urges kids like him to “stay different.”There was a good deal of hype surrounding how Neil Patrick Harris would handle the often-criticized role of Oscar host. His experience as a host of both the Tony Awards (2009, 2011, 2012) and Primetime Emmy Awards (2009, 2013) made him a perfect candidate for the job. He opened with a beautifully done musical piece which featured surprise guests Anna Kendrick and Jack Black. He then skillfully addressed the elephant in the room, beginning his monologue with, “Tonight we celebrate Hollywood’s best and whitest, sorry…brightest.”Along with Harris’s opening number, there were several other musical performances throughout the night. Lady Gaga surprised many when she was brought on stage to sing a tribute to “The Sound of Music” to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary. This surprise combination left many puzzled, but the performance was undeniably good, despite your opinion of Lady Gaga the musician. Tim McGraw ushered in one of the more serious moments at this year’s ceremony when he performed Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from the documentary film, “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me.” The poignant film follows Campbell as he embarks on his farewell tour while fighting the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Campbell was unable to perform the song himself because of the disease, so the family agreed to let McGraw perform in his stead. The Oscar-nominated song, “Everything Is Awesome” was one of the liveliest performances featuring indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara along with SNL’s The Lonely Island. Everything from construction workers to a giant opossum joined them on stage as they sang the infectious song from what many felt was a snubbed film in the best animated feature category. Overall, it was a solid year for the Academy Awards with the usual ups and downs. The ceremony dragged toward the middle, but ended with enough interest to make the wait worth it. Though the preliminary numbers show a decline in viewers, Neil Patrick Harris did a formidable job and may very well be asked back.
“You just have to keep trying to do good work and hope that it leads to more good work. I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work and be proud that I tried everything. Yes, I want to look back and know that I was terrible at a variety of things,” Jon Stewart said in an interview with the Orange County Register.Stewart has announced that he will be leaving “The Daily Show,” effectively bringing an end to 17 years of political commentary and comedy.The surprising announcement follows the recent end of Comedy Central’s other flagship show “The Colbert Report.” “The Daily Show” will not be leaving completely, as a new, yet-to-be-named host will be taking over. People were expecting former correspondent John Oliver to take over, but he has recently renewed “Last Week Tonight” with HBO for another two seasons.Oliver did make a suggestion for who should take over in a recent interview on “The Tonight Show,” starring Jimmy Fallon.“How about Hologram Jon, because he’s said almost every word in the English language? If you can put Oliver Reed in a film that he wasn’t in, surely you can just have Hologram Jon, like Tupac, hosting the show every night.”Buzzfeed has written on this topic and Reddit has some modest discussion on who could take over.BuzzFeed currently has a poll running of some candidates that readers think should take over. The list includes names like Jessica Williams, Tina Fay, Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari and more. Amy Poehler, who recently finished up hit show “Parks and Recreation” and hosting the Golden Globe Awards, sits at the top of the list. Right behind her is “The Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams.Williams has been a big hit with fans of the show, recently, and she has a large following supporting her.In a recent set of tweets, she stated that she is not hosting the show and that she is “extremely under-qualified.”While it is not clear when exactly Stewart will be leaving, he stated he would not be renewing his contract. This means he should be departing sometime in 2015 or 2016. Still need your fill of political commentary and comedy? Check out “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on HBO for some great coverage.
I am not a fan of many of the big TV network shows. They do not do it for me in terms of comedy or drama; but ABC’s newest comedy, “Fresh Off the Boat,” has become the exception.The show, set in the ’90s, is about 12-year-old Eddie Huang and his family as they move from Chinatown in Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Florida, and the challenges they overcome trying to obtain the “American dream.” Some of these challenges include Eddie’s dad’s (Louis Huang) old west restaurant is not doing well, which was the whole reason the family moved to Orlando. A challenge for Eddie is that his mother, Jessica Huang, is what many would call a “tiger mom.” She is overbearing and expects the absolute best from her children.However, the plot itself is not why I love the show so much. It is the fact that it plays into all the stereotypes affecting race. When the audience is introduced to the Huang’s neighborhood, it is the stereotypical “white housewives” that greet the family. These women are dressed in roller skating gear and the leader is a typical blonde, who is way too perky and has an incredibly annoying voice. They introduce themselves dressed in the terrible fashion of the ’90s. This was one of the funniest parts, in my opinion, because of how much it played into the “white” stereotype. In a scene where Jessica tries to skate with the rest of the group, the women with stereotypical white names seemed like complete airheads talking about a soap opera. Another scene, from the second episode, showed how much a “tiger mom” Jessica was. Since her oldest son was getting straight A’s, she thought school was too easy, so she began tutoring her sons afterschool to prevent them from falling behind.Just as I love how much the show plays into the differences we see portrayed in the media, I also love how it plays into the similarities every family faces. In one episode, family members from Washington, D.C., visit and the two families try to outdo each other.While it is fun to laugh at the stereotypes, it was also nice to see how relatable the show could be. As the show progressed, I could connect with the characters and laughed more than expected.After only a few episodes, I was thoroughly impressed and excited to see where this series will go. New episodes premier every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
In honor of the late Kurt Cobain’s 48th birthday on Feb. 20, I thought it would be proper to give a track-by-track review of Nirvana’s sophomore album, “Nevermind.” Released in late 1991, the album knocked Michael Jackson out of the No. 1 Billboard position, made Kurt Cobain a household name and put Seattle on top of the music world. The album is consistently cited as one of the best of all time, and Nirvana, despite its short career, remains one of the most popular and polarizing bands in music history.The album gets straight to the point, starting off with the rock radio staple “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” As the first single released from “Nevermind,” the song is instantly recognizable because of its iconic opening guitar riff, Cobain’s seemingly meaningless lyrics and vocals, and, frankly, its catchiness. The song was made for radio, it seems, and will forever be remembered as Nirvana’s most popular song.The second track, “In Bloom,” was also quite popular and is remembered for its retro-classic music video. Slower in tempo and propelled by bassist Krist Novoselic’s chugging bassline and drummer Dave Grohl’s tight drumming, the song further solidifies Nirvana’s half-hearted and, perhaps, regretted attempt to break into the mainstream.“Come As You Are” follows a sort of call-to-arms of the Nirvana fan base. Kurt is remembered for his open-mindedness and acceptance of social deviants, and this song is practically an anthem for “grunge” fans. With another iconic guitar riff, this single also receives steady airplay to this day.The band speeds things up with “Breed,” Cobain’s guitar matching Novoselic’s bass note-for-note on the main riff. Simple, fast and quite “punk rock,” the song races along under Cobain’s angst-filled yelling. The fifth track, “Lithium,” is perhaps my favorite off the album. Brilliantly written from a bipolar point of view, the happy/sad tone of the song, combined with Cobain’s ironic lyrics, makes for a true alternative classic. The chorus of the song consists of Cobain yelling, “Yeah,” and my favorite part of the song is Novoselic’s bassline in the verses. He is all over the bass, once again, reflecting the bipolar theme of the song.“Polly,” an acoustic slow-burner with suggestive lyrics, slips in the middle of the album, showing off Cobain’s softer side. The song stands out simply because it is not played electrically. True to form, the band turns the punk rock back on for “Territorial Pissings,” with Cobain eventually screaming his lungs out and Dave Grohl putting on an exhibition in punk drumming. Quick and to the point, the song is over before you know it. There is a stellar reference to The Youngblood’s “Get Together” in the beginning, too.“Drain You” shows off Cobain’s obsession with infants and birth. It is a twisted love song, displaying Cobain’s odd obsessions. “Lounge Act” once again shows off Novoselic’s poppy bass-playing and Grohl’s immortal drumming technique, followed by “Stay Away,” which displays the punk side of Nirvana, again.“On a Plain” is another personal favorite of mine. The band is simply firing on all cylinders. One must listen to truly enjoy it.Ending with “Something in the Way/Endless Nameless” seems appropriate, sending the listener off with a downright depressing, honest acoustic session, then fifteen minutes of silence. This is followed by what can only be described as a “true Grunge-breakdown,” full of fuzz and spastic playing. Happy birthday and thank you, Kurt Cobain.
After an intense year of touring and recording, alternative rock band Imagine Dragons has finally dropped its sophomore album, “Smoke + Mirrors.” They have also dropped dates for another U.S. tour, starting June 3. Imagine Dragons hit the charts with a bang in 2012, when its first single, “It’s Time,” was released. It has won several awards since, including a Grammy for best rock performance. Unlike “Night Visions,” this album is a lot more experimental with the instruments and technology used. “Gold” is an over-the-top example of this, with a mash up of different sound effects and instrumental choices that will have your head spinning. Guitar-heavy “I’m So Sorry” is one of the best songs on the record, bringing the rocky edge the album needed. “I Bet My Life” is the “It’s Time” of the album, an upbeat song that has you singing along. “Dream” is one of the strongest contenders on the album with a slow, catchy beat and relatable lyrics, like “And all these sorrows that I have seen, they lead me to believe that everything’s a mess.” “Summer” is one of the more annoying tracks on the album, with a whiny chorus and a high pitched guitar riff in the background. The final track, “The Fall,” is very much like a track off “Night Visions,” which is welcome amidst all the new sounds. There are aspects the band has expanded on very much, while there could have been more “Night Visions” influence on some of the tracks. Its writing has undoubtedly grown; however, some tracks are too heavy on instruments and you are not sure what to listen to. Imagine Dragons is still new and are most likely trying to find that happy medium between lyrical and instrumental. When it figures it out, it has the potential to make one of the best albums in the next coming years. It is a group of extremely talented musicians who know how to please the crowd and have fun. The band knows how to mix its sound. It just needs to mix it in the right way.
I saw “The Vagina Monologues” when it played at the Memorial Auditorium, last year, and I have to say I had high hopes for it when I saw it again this year. It did not disappoint. The way “The Vagina Monologues” are set up is that each scene is a self-contained monologue that deals with a different issue, ranging from the comedic, like hair or its lack thereof, to more serious issues that include the rape of women during the Bosnian War in 1992. The play starts out with an intro, telling the audience that the performers were concerned for their vaginas. It then shifts into a list of what people in different places call their vaginas, “including, in Shippensburg, The Raider Bowl.” From there, it goes into the first monologue, “Hair,” which is about, well, hair. Moreover, it is about hair on and around a vagina: the woman narrating the monologue loves the hair — her husband does not. From that chuckle-worthy opener, the play alternates between comic and serious. While the entire play is great, there were several monologues that I either found hilarious or appreciated for the message that they delivered. One of those monologues, “My Vagina Was My Village,” deals with the rape camps set up by the Bosnian Serb army during the 1992 war in Bosnia. In the monologue, there are two performers on stage, one representing “before” and one representing “after.” The “before” performer is bright and cheerful, reflecting a happy-go-lucky attitude, telling us how wonderful her attitude toward her vagina is, even calling it her “hometown.” The “after” performer is angry, lamenting her rape at the hands of the soldiers from the Bosnian Serb army. She tells the audience how the soldiers “left their dirty sperm” inside her. The entire monologue is point-counterpoint, but then it ends with both performers telling the audience, “I live someplace else, now. I do not know where that is.” That is when it really hits home.On the other end of the scale was the monologue “Reclaiming Cunt,” during which the performer, on stage, regales the audience about her love of the word “cunt,” ending with a little audience participation by having them spell out “cunt” and chant it a few times. The last monologue in the show was a favorite of mine, as well, because the way it capped the play was so gut-bustingly hilarious. It was called “The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy,” and it was about a woman who was a sex worker, solely for other women. She talks about how moaning, of all things, was what got her into sex work with women and how she coaxes moans out of the women she works with at different points or in different ways. Then she and a few of the other performers, the “Moanettes,” demonstrated the different types of moans, like “the internship moan” or “the Hunger Games moan.” After demonstrating a wide variety of moans, the “Moanettes” and the original actress end up doing a rendition of “the triple orgasm,” and the curtains come down.All in all, it was an excellent show and just different enough from last year’s that I was pleasantly surprised. If you have not gone yet, I urge you to go. You will laugh and learn.
If you happened to turn on WSYC radio this past Sunday, between 4 and 6 p.m., you may have heard the soulful voice of Matthew Ruth. The 26-year-old York native stopped by the campus radio station to perform live for the listeners of the “Two Glasses and a Hat” show and talk a little “crap” about issues such as paying to play, problems with open mic nights and the limitations of what you can say on a radio station. Ruth discovered his love for music as a teenager and aspired to have a music career of his own. He taught himself how to play the guitar and has been performing ever since. When asked about his big music dreams, Ruth says he is not in a rush to fame and prefers to go with the flow of life and continue playing where anyone will listen to him. Ruth was kind enough to play a few of his own songs for the listeners of WSYC, including “Ghost and Goblins,” “Just Happy To Have” and “Holding On To Love.” His inspirations were the local singers he heard while growing up and some of his favorite bands; Bayside, Brand New and Balance and Composure. Now, he writes his own music, stating that there is more feeling in original songs than in just performing covers. His style can be classified as indie/acoustic, with an attention grabbing voice and a strong affinity for guitar playing.Along with performing his original music, Ruth is also a comedian. His material comes from his own personal experiences, such as funny moments from his childhood or comical events that he has personally witnessed. Along with his stand-up comedy, Ruth also plays musical comedy. The topics of his humorous songs are controversial, to say the least, and are probably not songs you would want your grandma to hear.Ruth is an adequate role model for aspiring young musicians. Getting into the music industry is no easy feat, but Ruth is surely on his way, with his refreshing talent and desire to bring good music to others. Before Ruth departed from Shippensburg, he left some advice for anyone trying to break into the music business. “If you want to succeed, you have to stick with it. It’s like a roller coaster ride; it has its ups and downs, but if you love what you do, you keep doing it.”