Pierce Pioneer

‘Trump’s Wall’ Still Up in the Air

Budgetary concerns arise for the funding of ‘the Wall’

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The renewed United States-Mexico border is still in its planning process, and its construction has yet to begin. One of the major concerns is how much the Wall will cost, and where and who the money will come from.

President Trump originally estimated it would cost $10 billion, but now, according to Reuters.com, the Border Wall is estimated to cost $21.6 billion. This estimate from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stems from the costs of acquiring privately owned land, specifically sections in Texas.

John Pennington, one of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) members for Pierce College, believes the budget may very on the way the cost is spread out. “There is a very structured process for federal funding in the United States,” Pennington said, “And it is critical for readers to remember that proposed budgets from the Executive Branch are just that: proposed.”

One possibility for funds was to adjust and institute new tariffs in the National American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These tariffs would be targeted toward Mexican exports. On February 14th, in a Toronto Conference on the future of North American trade, Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said, "Nothing in the new NAFTA should be a step backward. We will definitely not include any type of trade management measures, like quotas, or open the Pandora's box of tariffs.”

Trump has made little mention of his intentions for NAFTA in regards to the Wall, and pulling from any of the U.S.’s DHS funds have not been directly address at the time.

Pennington said the cost may pull from other departments that relate to such environmental and territorial matters. The DHS houses many “legacy agencies,” including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose budget the DHS would pull from. “DHS is the overarching budget,” Pennington clarifies, “And sub-agencies fit within that overarching budget.”

The Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) is the primary funding source, and has been funded consistently for several years, even through the financial crisis that began in 2007.

Pennington believes that chances are slim for the Wall’s construction effecting the funding and budgets for Washington, and any other States’ FEMA and DHS. “FEMA and its state, tribal and local partners have fought to maintain the funding,” Pennington said, “I do not see that changing in the next several years under this or any Administration.”

Construction on the Wall does not have a clear date, nor is the source of funding for it clear. It is safe to say that branches of Emergency Management and Homeland Securities will remain largely unaffected by the implementation of the 2000 mile Wall.

‘Logan’ faces pain, grief in Jackman’s final movie

Latest installment treats grizzled hero with appropriate seriousness, sincerity

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In this sendoff to Hugh Jackman’s performance as Logan, this film stands tall as not only an exceptional superhero movie, but as an emotional story about people holding close to whatever they has left.

Set in 2029, the story follows a scarred and beaten Logan, also known as Wolverine, as he reluctantly escorts a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), and Logan’s old mentor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), across the country, searching for a mutant haven, Eden. This Logan is far more grizzled than ever before, overwhelmed by loss and despair. He suppresses his pain through drinking or evasion from facing his sorrow.

Meanwhile, Logan, Laura, and Charles are being hunted by a corporation who believe they own Laura. Laura is a mutant with Logan’s abilities, who was raised to be a killing machine before she escaped the facility with the help of some nurses. The corporation quickly dispatches its hit squad, led by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).

The film takes a far more serious and poignant approach with its story and the emotional ramifications the characters endure. Where one superhero film may be light-hearted and inconsequential with its stakes and threats, “Logan” treats death and characters constantly being hunted with far more dramatic impact.

Moviegoers need not to see the past X-Men movies to fully understand the backstory of “Logan.” The film offers plenty of information and dialogue that informs the audience of the events that transpired in the new past.

Charles is a powerful psychic mutant, but is now suffering from Alzheimer's and repeated seizures. Logan looks after Charles, and whenever Charles tries to help Logan confront his pain, Logan tries to brush it off or tell him to stop talking, before the grief overwhelms him. Grief is a key component to “Logan” and one of its many strengths. Characters who try to avoid their problems or face them the wrong way, all learn to let the pain pass through them, and let them keep pushing forward.

One of the few weaker aspects of the movie would be that it is the last film with Wolverine. This becomes a flaw for the future of the franchise given the ambiguity of what exactly happened between the 1980s and now in the new timeline. The previous timeline, which featured the first three X-Men films, had many of the X-Men die because of their war with Magneto.

Now those films have been undone, it is unclear if a mutant war ever happened. The new timeline implies a large scale massacre of mutants through 2029, the movie’s present.

“Logan” is a gripping story and a violent action drama. Film studios should take note that violence and profanity isn’t the sole solution to making superhero films feel refreshing and engaging.

“Logan” is a film that deserves to be R-rated. It benefits the movie by showing the ramifications and stakes the characters must undergo. But if future superhero films follow with R ratings by being violent or profane just for the sake of it, these films will suffer.

The balance is needed between family-friendly and lighthearted and an adult approach to certain stories if the writing calls for it.

“Avengers” films can be more of a joy ride, “Guardians of the Galaxy” films should be witty and sarcastic. But when films such as “Batman v. Superman” actively try to be serious and dreary, they lose the effect of the dramatic moments.

When a film is dark and moody 100 percent of the time, the scenes or moments that should be treated seriously lose their weight, as they are buried in the sea of gray filters and melancholy voices.

“Logan” is one serious film that is appropriately adult. It is dealing with characters who are suffering and hate themselves for who they have become. The film paces itself with heartwarming moments, humorous scenes and layered characters.

“Logan” has set itself high on the scale of superhero films —  that future films should learn from. Its meaning, impact and the appropriate tone, this story about the X-Men’s most iconic hero, gets the treatment it deserves.

Student pursues running a ‘Let’s Play’ Channel

With hopes for the future, Reggie Williams wants to make fun content for everything gaming

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Williams is a Pierce College student pursuing a General Arts degree. But in his free time, he has guest starred on his friend’s channel, “Metal Jesus Rocks” on YouTube. Williams has recently started his own YouTube channel, “Radical Reggie.” His channel focuses on things like “top 10’s,” favorite memories of games, and their history with playing video games.

“People really liked me on his channel,” Williams said, “I’ve gotten a lot of fans, and now have about 17,000 subscribers.” YouTube channels typically start out pretty small, and though 17,000 seems small in comparison to creators like “PewDiePie’s” 53 million subscriber count, but starting in the thousands with one’s channel within less than a year.

Williams is unable to do “Let’s Plays,” a form of playthroughs where someone plays through a game in its entirety, but Williams has hopes in the future to get the equipment to expand his range and audience.

“I’m more into the older games, but I might try more modern games,” Williams said, “Right now, however, any footage a play of a game comes out chopped out.” Williams has used recording services like the PlayStation 4’s Capture mode, which allows people to record their gameplays and post them online. This service is far from perfect: pixelated footage, sound issues, and bumpy video has plagued this service for years. “I plan to get a good gaming PC, but for now I’ll work with what I have.”

Williams considers his gaming as just a side gig, he at first didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted to do. But after trying out YouTubing, Williams found it far more enjoyable than he expected. He is inspired by the fans, who have seen the videos from his friend’s channel that featured him, and after getting some heartwarming messages encouraging him to do it, Williams finally started his channel.

“They said I came off as a nice guy,” Williams said, “Soon or later I said ‘why not?’ and tried it out.”

YouTube has had its fair share of negative commenters, whom Williams refers to as “Hecklers.” These people are generally seen as ones who say hurtful, insulting and inappropriate things just for the sake of it. Williams’s friend on “Metal Jesus Rocks” has deleted some of the worst comments, but Williams plans to simply ignore them on his own channel.

“What you do is you don’t feed those guys,” Williams said, “If you engage with them, you’re not going to get a sensible conversation out of them.” Williams is open to answering questions and having discussions with fans who do want a genuine conversation in the comments section.

Let’s Plays have gained mass popularity in the gaming community, ranging from the longer console playthroughs of “Achievement Hunter,” to the hyper-edited PC gameplays of “SovietWomble.” The appeal likely stems from less so the games themselves, but the entertainers’ comedic styles. “PewDiePie’s” humor is more vulgar and spontaneous, with wacky voices and silly moments he gets himself into. Whereas “Achievement Hunter” is more energetic, and benefits from the unique personalities that encompass the channel, and how they play off each other. Williams was liked by fans because of his informative discussions, sense of humor, and “nonchalant” kind of reviews over different aspects of games. “I talk about games on the channel like I would when talking to my friends,” Williams stated, “So my videos get less into the specifics of why the game’s good, and more what I just enjoyed overall.”

Williams hopes to see his channel to become full time. He is excited to see where his gaming goes from here, and plans to support his channel for as long as he can.

French Spy, famed performer, Josephine Baker defied societal expectations

With her comedic style, bawdy charm, this American turned French citizen served both countries

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Exotic beauty, no-holds-barred dancer, famed singer, and French Residence Spy; Josephine Baker went from humble beginnings to sophisticated prowess. Baker grew up in St. Louis, Missouri as Freda Josephine McDonald in 1906. She took the name Baker after one of her divorcés, Willie Baker, but had multiple divorces with many men before and after Willie Baker. The only thing Josephine Baker who take from her husbands would be her French citizenship from Frenchman Jean Lion in 1937, and one marriage to French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon in 1947, who helped her raise 12 adopted children.

But Baker never depended on a man for financial support, her early life from the age of 13 ranged from her waiting tables, babysitting, and eventually, a performer. Her career in entertainment started slow, but soon skyrocketed with her comedic style and risqué wardrobe. When World War 2 began, Baker served the rebellious groups of France, whom were resisting the German occupation. Baker would perform for the troops, and served as a correspondent for the French Resistance by smuggling in secret messages written on her music sheets. Baker would later also serve as a sub-lieutenant in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

After the War, Baker was awarded the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette, and was name Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government for hard work and dedication. Baker returned to the United States in the 1950s, and began to fight segregation and become a powerful voice in the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1975, a 68 year old Baker performed one last routine in Paris, concluding her 50 year career. Days later, Baker slipped into a coma, and passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage.

‘For Honor’ offers visceral battles between history’s fiercest warriors

New video game introduces fun combat despite glaring flaws

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Set in an alternate medieval timeline, where a massive cataclysm shifted parts of continents closer together, “For Honor’s” setting alone sets itself apart from many other games of its nature. The game is a strategic “fighting game,” but is blended with many other elements of combat that makes it both challenging, and rewarding.

The combat is centered around a parrying and blocking style, a cat and mouse game that revolves around players switching between stances as they plot their next move in the moment. A player can turn their stance to the left, right, or up, and switch between these stances on a whim, should their attacker swing in either of those directions. This, on top of varied classes of skill and abilities, makes for every combat encounter an intense battle for survival.

The story is its weakest point, despite the clear effort of the developers, Ubisoft Montreal, made with what feels like a low budget. The story follows 3 different factions: Knights, Vikings, and Samurai. Each chapter has multiple missions following a few characters within that faction, as they face the ever growing and violent Black Stone Legion. Their leader, Apollyon (Catherine Kidd), thrives off of war, and recruits only the strongest and most forthright warriors.

The missions have some surprisingly varied ideas, from chasing a runaway on horseback, to fighting a Viking warlord and his pack of wolves. But the individual fights with every other enemy in the game begins to feel repetitive. When some A.I. enemies begin to break the rules set by the game for the players, the fury a player would feel from having their move that was called “unblockable” in the game menu itself being blocked by a tough enemy, gives the feeling of being cheated.

The feeling that the budget for the game was low stems from the character variety and voice acting. Any character in the campaign that isn’t a Class players can play in the multiplayer are replaced with generic “grunts,” with unmoving mouths and copy-and-pasted faces. Characters mostly have American accents, even though the game has the factions clearly being English/French, Swedish/Gaelic, and Japanese. Though players will hear everyone in their faction speak English, the opposing factions will indeed be speaking their native tongues. But being a Medieval Knight or a Celtic Viking and they have Westcoast-American accents, does pull players out of the immersion.

Another problem with the campaign is that there are many tutorials that crop up throughout the game. After the first mission, it is somewhat understandable that the game would want to teach the players some new mechanics that weren’t covered in the tutorial mode. But the tutorial mode is mandatory, and finishing it then jumping into the campaign, then having to go through it all over again, felt like there was a developmental oversight, or a need in the settings menu to switch off tutorials entirely. Learning a new Class does require some practice, but when the game reminds players how to parry a halfway through the campaign, even though parrying is one of the 3 core mechanics of the game, it becomes a nuisance.

The Classes players choose from are all unique and have varying degrees of complication. “The Warden” is your typical claymore-swinging Knight, and easy to understand and control, but the naginata-wielding “Nobushi” will have move sets that require great practice and attention, for both those playing as her, and those who fight her.

The multiplayer offers a variety of maps and game modes, players will rarely feel tired of playing a match of “Dominion” after hours of play. Boredom seems to be a non-existent issue, given each match players are always trying to hone in their skills with their favorite Class. If they want a change up in style, all they have to do is change Classes and the process of rewiring their brain for a completely different set of moves starts the engaging process all over again. If they tire of playing a certain mode, the Deathmatch based “Elimination” and “Skirmish” modes offer a change up in goals, and the 1 versus 1 “Duel” and 2 versus 2 “Brawl” modes offer a more intense round based style of gameplay.

However, this is where one of the game’s biggest shortcomings shines. The game is superb in 1-on-1 combat, where both combatants have to focus on out-maneuvering each other, parrying and blocking when necessary, then striking when able. But the moment a player has to fight more than 1 enemy, or if multiple players engage all at once, the game turns into an incoherent slugfest. Though a player may be able to hit multiple enemies at once with a well-placed horizontal swing, the friendly fire will result in them harming their allies. Even if the damage dealt towards allies is a much smaller portion than to that which is dealt to enemies. But the staggering it causes to friends could prove fatal as enemies typically see those opportunities quickly, and strike with ease.

The best advice: If multiple enemies begin to rush a player, that player should either find a ledge and time it right where they can kick one of them off the ledge, or just run for an ally for back-up. If the player is the only one left alive, they best ready their sword, and prepare to die in glory.

“For Honor” manages to offer a dense and original combat system, despite its flaws in some Class balancing, and the multi aspect of the multiplayer combat. Fighting can be exhilarating, and each minor victory feels like a great triumph.

Revenge is sought, betrayal is executed in ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’

Violent, layered, and action packed, this second instalment further opens up this peculiar world of assassins

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The first “John Wick” was more focused on revenge, and also gave glimpse at an intricate world of hitmen, and how Wick was amongst the deadliest, and characters all around Wick were terrified of him. In the first film, Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), the father of Wick’s target, aptly described him: “John Wick wasn’t exactly the boogeyman, he was the man you sent to kill the boogeyman.”

The intense, visceral action of “John Wick” has become a staple of this new franchise, and the film, more than once, implements clever fight scenes and chases that set these films apart from other, more run-of-the-mill action flicks.

Following the events just weeks after the first “John Wick,” “Chapter 2” pits the legendary assassin against double-crossing contracts, dozens of skilled killers, and shows the audience an even deeper look into the complex world this assassin organization.

One of the most notable aspects of the first “John Wick,” was the fast and smart “gun kata-esque” fight scenes, which “Chapter 2” is far from lacking. “Gun kata” is a fictional term of fluent gunplay mixed with martial arts, that has been seen in movies such as “Equilibrium” (2002), and has been refurbished and grounded in the “John Wick” series. Where “Equilibrium” would have their shooters make impossible shots and unnatural finesse, John Wick uses his close quarters combat and gunplay in a more realistic and visceral way.

Wick will take precise shots at any angle, and able to take down foes through advanced jujitsu before finishing them off, typically with two shots to the head and heart. These scenes are one of the two most fascinating and entertaining things about this new franchise, the second being the unique and layered world of hitmen.

These killers have very strict rules to maintain order between thousands of assassins across the world. Gold coins, for example, are used as a currency amongst the assassins and their resources, and also function as a badge of their status as hitmen, allowing them access to secret areas, munitions, contacts, and more.

John Wick, however, is forced back into action due to one other rule that keeps these killers from chaos: a “Mark.” This special locket represents an obligation between one member to another, and can be initiated whenever the one who offered the “Mark” deems necessary. Wick used the “Mark” to first “get out” of the organization, but he had to do so by striking a deal with Santini D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio).

Wick is fully aware that D’Antonio is an untrustworthy member of the assassin’s organization, who wants to take the seat amongst “the Table,” the leaders of the organization. Each seat is occupied by a representative of each country that has an assassin branch, though D’Antonio desires the seat his father once held, his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini), is the one who is about to inherit it. Wick is reluctantly forced to make the deal, and is quickly thrown into a bloodbath, made from those who attempt to stop Wick.

Reeves’s performance is somewhat better than it was in the first movie, mainly because Wick’s dialogue has been shortened to sparse conversation and one-liners. The film wisely takes the route of Wick being a man of action, rarely words. The revenge-double-crossed plot isn’t really new to Hollywood, but the movie’s focus is largely on the world around Wick, and the paths Wick takes to reach his targets.

The first film was a relatively simple revenge story, but what made the narrative interesting was how fully aware everyone around Wick were of how dangerous and relentless he is. Though Wick isn’t as feared as he was in the first film, the fear is replaced with a strange respect and comradery between the assassins, especially towards Wick. Even the assassin, Cassian (Common), who has a recently deepened hate towards Wick, still treats him with professional respect and honor.

“John Wick: Chapter 2” is fully aware of what kind of film it is, and instead of other “self-aware” action films that are obsessed explosions, nonsensical violence, and recycled uninteresting plots, “John Wick” keeps a level-headed pace in action, violence, and story.

‘The Walking Dead’s’ formulaic approach becomes show’s greatest shortcoming

AMC’s long running series suffers from slow pacing, controversial narrative changes, dull characters

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AMC’s “The Walking Dead” recently premiered its 6th season’s part 2. This show that has been running since 2010 has had its ups and downs, but the downs have become the most glaring as of late. Though the show has many likable characters, villains, and ideas, these are overshadowed by behind the scenes changes, unsatisfying resolutions, and the show’s overall slow and stretched out pacing.

The show follows Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), as he and his group tries to survive in a world infested with the reanimated dead, called “Walkers.” The core group of survivors are Rick, his son Carl (Chandler Riggs), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), and Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan). These are the current surviving characters that have been around since season 2, since the series has fluctuated with characters dying. But therein lies one of the divisive issues with the series: the show has strayed far from its graphic novel roots, and has been trying to fill in those changes ever since.

Characters who died much earlier in the graphic novels are still around in the latest season, and other characters have been killed off in the show, where they are still alive in the comics. Some characters have been altered to fill in those empty roles, despite their lacking personalities.

The character Michonne (Danai Gurira) is bland, no matter how much the show tries to portray them otherwise. The character Carol, however, who was quiet and depressed in the graphic novels, has become a dangerous and effective character in the television adaptation. The character Daryl is a brand new character who exists in the show exclusively. Though these characters, along with the main character, Rick, remain intriguing, it is the show’s formula that has held the show back from great potential.

The show has entered a predictable cycle since season 3, where it would have a first and second half with typically 8 episodes each, and the halves would be separated by roughly 3 months. The divisive issue lies in how the show’s quality seems to suffer for viewers. The formula is that the show will begin its new arc, with subtle changes to the original story, be moving at a glacial pace in terms of exciting events, then end with a sort of “part 1 finale,” where the intriguing story and action ramp up. The 3 month wait occurs, then it is the second half that is far more jam-packed and consistent with its pacing.

Season 6 was the worst casualty of this, where the group has settled down in their new home “Sanctuary,” with Rick taking more of a charge over the town after the last season ended with him proving to the town’s leader, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh), that they need to be prepared for any threat that comes their way. The first half deals with multiple threads the previous season left open, but they all end abruptly.

There is a threat of some psychotic survivors called “the Wolves” who have various traps and ways of sabotaging settlements so that more of the living can join the dead. But these “Wolves” soon attack the town, and are then quickly disposed of. The group clears the town of the Walker “herd” that had infested the town, and even though there were some losses, the emotional attachment audiences had toward these characters varied from minimal to non-existent.

There was one character in particular, Sam (Major Dodson), who was an innocent kid who had to witness some gruesome deaths of many people around him. Sam shuts down or talks too much when he is scared, but this led to him becoming nearly insufferable with how much of a detriment he was.

If a character is defenseless but still has redeemable characteristics, then they are deserving of sympathy from the audience. But if a character is bordering on useless and only annoys the audience every time they open their mouths, then the viewers are quick to call for their demise. This dissonance is very specific to forms of fiction. Since the audience knows the story isn’t real, seeing irredeemable, unbearable characters whom the show wants people to root for, becomes impossible to do.

“The Walking Dead” has many issues, but still remains a pretty enjoyable show. If it can break free from its slow first-half, great second-half cycle, this otherwise fascinating series can continue to thrive in the seasons to come.

AMC fires ‘Walking Dead’ showrunner Frank Darabont

Show’s founder was let go after studio informed him they were going to slash budget, demand more episodes

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During the production of the show’s second season in 2011, one of the show’s writers and showrunner, Frank Darabont, was fired due to his refusal to AMC’s request to increase the amount of episodes in a season, after they had slashed the show’s budget. Darabont went on record during an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, calling AMC “notoriously a pain in the ass.”

Jeffrey DeMunn, who portrayed the character Dale, decided to resign from the show after Darabont’s firing. The original story was then changed to have the Dale character killed off later into the season, which began a series of changes to the original concept.

Darabont and his agents at CAA claimed that AMC breached his contract and deprived him of tens of millions of dollars in profits from the hit series by making a sweetheart deal licensing the show to itself. Darabont is now suing for $280 million, but the case has been ongoing since 2013.

 

 

Walking Dead character pros and cons:

 

Michonne:

Pros:

  • Skilled, katana wielding wanderer
  • Intuitive, catches onto traps and tricks set up by the living

Cons:

  • Not much personality, ranges from angry to trying to be sympathetic
  • Relationship with main character, Rick, feels forced and awkward

 

Carol:

Pros:

  • Straightforward, willing to make sacrifices when necessary
  • Puts on an “innocent” persona, to trick people and make them underestimate her

Cons:

  • She begins to hate having to kill, even though the people she kills are evil
  • Becomes a hermit in most recent season (7), out of a lot of the action

 

Daryl:

Pros:

  • One of the most resourceful survivor of the group, almost an unstoppable force
  • Has an engaging character arc, changes from a stubborn recluse to a loyal friend

Cons:

  • Moves past the losses of others a little too quickly, needs more time to mourn
  • His stubbornness gets him in a lot of trouble, will sometimes make decisions that put the group at risk

“A Series of Unfortunate Events” revitalized in delightfully dark Netflix series

Comedic, strange, and endearing, the latest adaptation of the famous novels offers a unique experience for viewers

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Netflix’s latest original series offers a peculiar adaptation of a quite peculiar book series, and gets it all right. The series follows the three orphaned Baudelaire children: the eldest sibling Violet (Malina Weissman), middle child Klaus (Louis Hynes), and their infant sister, Sunny. Violet is technologically savvy and constantly problem solving through her jerry-rigged inventions, Klaus is the epitome of bookworm, seeing patterns and clues through various notes and texts, while Sunny speaks through baby gibberish which only Violet and Klaus understand, and has four front teeth that allow her to bite through anything in seconds. These children are faced with heartbreak and devastation as they try to survive a world that keeps pulling them from guardian to guardian as they are hunted down by the malicious Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris).

Weissman and Hynes are expressive and believable as two of the three Baudelaire children, they give their characters a certain look of intelligence and perception that was a steady idea readers would have in their mind when reading about the two problem solving. Sunny is given subtitles for her infant murmurs and sounds, which comically adds a strange depth to the child, such as her expertise in poker, and her love for works by composer Tito Puente.

Harris’ performance as the infamous villain Count Olaf is a treat that never gets old. Both intimidating, clumsy, and sarcastic, the sinister character is put in the right hands of the hilarious Harris. It is impressive when an actor is able to portray an evil character who’s also a bad actor. Harris will be consistently cruel and unknowingly goofy, and be able to switch into the poorly acted caricatures that Olaf disguises himself as.

The show has the novels’ signature narration and wordplay reimagined through the investigative observations of Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton), himself. His dialogue is weaved to be philosophical, remorseful, and always full of intrigue. Even if Snicket spoils the fate of a character, he only spoils it because the vast majority of the audience can sense such inevitabilities. Meanwhile there seems to be a sort of meta narrative, but less fourth-wall breaking to the real life audience, and more so that Snicket is on his own adventure, which seems to relate to the Baudelaire’s woeful adventures.

One main complaint that can be made isn’t the shows fault at all, just that there are so many dense or incompetent characters who are completely oblivious to the obvious truths the children see. But the story of both the books and the Netflix series uses these annoyingly unhelpful characters to push the children to want to problem solve on their own.

Their family banker Arthur Poe (K. Todd Freeman), shrugs off any revelations or facts the children present to him as simple child imagination, completely unaware of the clear threats in front of him that face the children. This leaves viewers frustrated to the point where fast forwarding seems like a viable option, when sitting through scenes that devote 15 or so minutes that can be summed up as the children saying something true, and the adult characters smiling and saying “Oh you kids and your wild imaginations!”

There’s a balance between writing characters to be purposely incompetent and the scenes remaining engaging, and characters being unbearably incompetent for the audience. But the show handles the characters in such a way that it fully acknowledges how oblivious some characters are, it pokes fun at them, and both Snicket and the Baudelaire children quickly catch on and point out how ridiculous some people are.

Some people argue that making fun of tropes or flaws in a narrative, but still going through with those tropes or flaws can feel contradictory and lazy of the narrative, but in this “Series of Unfortunate Events,” these flaws are used to encourage characters that would be otherwise helpless to make their own decisions and forge their own path as much as they can. With witty narration, effective comedy, and fascinating main characters, Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is worth the time for this strange story.

Nintendo ‘Switch’ features innovative design, but uncertain potential

The newest gaming console is almost here, Nintendo’s spotty history may harm the console’s success

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The Nintendo “Switch” is the latest console by the Japanese game development company. This console is set to release March 3, worldwide, millions are eager for the company’s long awaited innovative console, but the question still stands if this this console will be able to contend against the other modern consoles on the market.

The “Switch” continues Nintendo’s philosophy of being more focused on innovation and bringing something people have never seen before to the Gaming Industry. The console has two “nunchuck” controllers, which are separate controllers, each held in one hand. These controllers can click onto a square pad and used remotely for home gaming, or can click, or “switch,” onto a tablet, turning it into a mobile console. The console’s primary selling point is its switching, along with its major first party titles that are launching with the console.

One of the shortcomings for the mobile aspect of the console, is that the battery life of it is approximately 3 hours. This may seem not too inconvenient for those on a city bus or those with lunch breaks at work. But for those who are on long road trips, or plane rides, this 3 hour limit could become very frustrating.

There seems to be clear signs that the “Switch” is the culmination of years of innovation from Nintendo. The “nunchucks” are a more modern and modified variation on the 2006 Nintendo “Wii’s” “nunchuck” and the “Wii-mote” controller, the “Wii-mote” focused almost entirely on motion controls, where players move the controller in one direction, and the character and/or object of the game mirrored that movement. The tablet used for the “Switch’s” mobile features is reminiscent of the “Wii U GamePad,” which served as the primary controller for the 2012 console.

The first launch game for the “Switch” is “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the long awaited installment of the famous series that looks to be a true return to form for the franchise, dating back to the very first “Zelda” game from 1986. The original “Legend of Zelda” game was famous for its vast exploration, and open world that the player was thrown straight into, with dungeons hidden around the world, and minimal guidance towards the player’s main goal of defeating the evil “Ganon.” “Breath of the Wild” supposedly takes place a century after a massive calamity in the land of Hyrule, which most of the games take place in. This mysterious calamity leaves a ruined Hyrule open for exploration, through far reaching valleys and overgrown and forgotten temples.

The “Switch” doesn’t have any forced on “gimmicks” that have scared away some consumers, though the duel “nunchucks” do have motion controls available for certain games, the motion controls are not required for most of the new games such as “Breath of the Wild” and the to-be-announced “Super Mario Odyssey.” So far, Nintendo has not announced if there will be any use for the tablet aside from its mobile functionality, and the “nunchucks” snapping onto the tablet could make on-the-go gaming an interesting experience for gamers.

Though Nintendo does create video games, its focus audience has not always been pure gamers, entirely. The 2006 “Wii” was aimed towards a much larger audience: kids, adults, elders, and gamers alike. They developed games such as “Wii Sports” and “Wii Fitness” with the idea in mind that a grandparent could pick up the controller and have just as much fun as a child playing “Mario.”

This idea led to a massive success with the “Wii,” by 2007, the NPD Group, which specialize in reporting on worldwide sales and industry analyses, reported that the “Wii” had sold 10.8 million units in the U.S. alone. The “Wii” became the fastest selling “next-generation” console, surpassing Microsoft’s “Xbox 360” and Sony’s “PlayStation 3.” As of 2016, the console has sold 101.63 million consoles worldwide.

The 2012 “Wii U” was a far less successful console, shipping only 3.5 million units worldwide by 2013, and about 96 million worldwide as of 2016. A cause to this less impressive release has been mainly pointed at the console’s title. “Wii U” was largely mistaken as just an extension of the “Wii,” rather than a brand new console.

The “Wii’s” success, however, was considered because of Nintendo’s then-CEO, Sotaru Iwata, now deceased. Iwata turned the company’s focus towards innovation and “pure fun,” rather than trying to compete with the other company’s modern graphics and abundance of Third Party titles. Third Party titles are games created from developers not owned by the company’s who make the consoles those games are sold on.

Iwata was a well respected businessman and became beloved by the gaming community throughout his time as Nintendo’s CEO, until his passing in 2015. He coined the famous quote, “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” Iwata died from complications with a bile duct tumor, but Nintendo carries on his philosophy of mass market appeal and unique technological innovation, that Nintendo still believes has saved the company many times from economical collapse.

The Nintendo “Switch” is just on the horizon, and whether it will push the Industry forward, or just be another luke-warm Nintendo console, has yet to be seen.

All faiths welcomed: A Prayer Room for every person

An open door Prayer Room offers students a quiet space for religious prayer and practice

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Ginger Montalvo/Contributing Photo

The Intervarsity Christian Club uses the room for bible studies. Pictured here from left to right are: Hilary Bullimore, Lando Hawkins, Joyce Yeung, Cory Maccini, Noah Klinkhammer, Lucy Cornelio, and Kenneth Guerette.

The Prayer Room is in the Olympic building, room 263. This room was created as to invite those of various religions to come for prayer or meditation, if they need it. The room has been around for roughly 5 years.

David Roholt, an Art Professor at Pierce, has his office located just across from the Prayer Room. “We use to have rows of shoes lined up outside of the room,” Roholt says, but the room is now mainly used by Christian students or students looking for quiet meditation or self-reflection. Roholt, along with other professors at Pierce, feel that not many people know about the Prayer Room, believing it is somewhat tucked away and difficult to spot while passing by the busy hallway. Other than the Christian students, the room doesn’t get as much use as it did when it was first established.

Mary Meulblok, the manager of International Student Services, says that the idea for a prayer room was thought of after the college got a U.S. State Department Grant, that had 15 or so international students come per year. About half of these students were Muslim, and most of these Muslim students followed the belief in praying five times a day. The Islamic prayer is called “Salah,” and follows the five Pillars of Prayer, Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha.

They are at dawn, afternoon, in the mid-afternoon, at sunset, and at night; though these times can shift around given the change in season, given the days getting shorter or longer throughout the year.

Professors would call in, telling Meulblok that students were praying in the hallway and such, “As a service to the Muslim students, we wanted to provide them with some kind of place to pray.” Facilities, along with a little help from Holly Gorski, the Vice President of Human Resources at Pierce, were able to find the International Student Services a room. Gorski and Meulblok wanted to focus on making the room inviting to not just Muslim students, but anyone of any faith, “Equity was what we were looking for,” Meulblok says.

This room proved to be temporary, and the Prayer Room changed places twice until being relocated to its current location.

Meulblok does not manage the room, but does keep it reserved, and will inform students of its existence should the need arise. “The program we started [the Prayer Room] for has gone away, but we still have Muslim students with such needs.”

Ginger Montalvo, the president of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), has invested in keeping the Prayer Room decent: getting chairs, rugs, and various religious tomes into the room. “I’m not in charge of it, but no one is, we just try to help in whatever way we can,” says Montalvo. The IVCF is actually a more inclusive club that welcomes various branches of Christianity, from Covenant to Catholic, “We consider ourselves inter-denominational, which we feel is more friendly to any person of Christianity, even non-denominational Christians.”

In Montalvo’s additions to the Prayer Room, she has added numerous decorations to be more welcoming to everyone, including a photo collage of people of various nations, Islamic prayer rugs, and a world map: with pins of nations that some international students come from.

According to Montalvo, the club was brought to Pierce about 4 years ago, but the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship is a national group, which Montalvo herself volunteers with.

Montalvo says one of the challenges for everyone in a club that invites so much Christian diversity, is sometimes “people won’t always agree on certain things,” Montalvo says, “One of the skills to be learned is how to come together in unity without changing your personal beliefs.”

The group isn’t a church, simply a club for people to come together, which Montalvo believes makes them more open in different kinds of ways.

There is a statement on the door to the Prayer Room that was written by Montalvo’s club, which says, “We love you and we support your right to worship and pray freely. Blessings and safety for you during this time.” This statement also is signed by some people from the IVCF Montalvo says this was written and signed after the election of President Trump, “There were a lot of race riots and things when Trump was elected, we wanted to state that we would not change in our acceptance of anyone’s religion no matter what.”

The Prayer Room was created for all faiths to have access to a safe place, for people to fluctuate usage of the room for all religious practices. It holds no bias towards any one religion, and has various religious texts for study, and rugs for prayer. Whether someone is Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or simply curious, the door is open.

Virtual Reality: a New and Promising Technological Frontier

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Virtual Reality (VR) has gained quite some buzz since mid-2016, with multiple companies and developers rushing to forward this new addition to the gaming industry, is it really time to hop onto the VR bandwagon just yet? VR is a type of gaming where someone puts on a head set with a screen overlay, where a high-resolution television screen would give them the illusion of being in the game, given the device’s movement would match their own.

The first addition to this new age in VR began with the Oculus “Rift,” which started with a Kickstarter in 2012 by the company Oculus. Kickstarter is a website where various developers, artists, and technological pioneers put their idea or product on the Kickstarter website, and people can invest money to them to help the creators reach their “stretch goals” and make their dreams a reality. Some ideas are sure fire hits, while others fail horribly. The Oculus “Rift” was the prior, and reached its goal in no time, but soon got bought by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.

The new age of VR had begun, soon leading to various new innovations with the technology, all sticking to the 2 control sticks or “nunchucks,” and the rectangular head mount that has become the device’s signature. In 2014 Sony software announced the “PlayStation VR,” though allegedly had been working on the idea of head mounted gaming technology since 2009, this device was intended to be a far more accessible, consumer great product. In 2015, the game and software developer Valve announced the “HTC Vive,” which was a far more advance and efficient VR device compared to the “Rift” or the “PS VR,” it’s PC requirements are exponential, but those who have the proper high end software and requirements, find the “Vive” to be the superior Virtual Reality device.

However, the biggest innovation in this growing branch of industry would have to be the Microsoft “Hololens,” which is doing what the other competitors have yet to follow, which is implementing Augmented Reality (AR). What AR entails is that consumers would be able to see real life through the device, but it would display virtual additions to someone’s everyday life. Though Microsoft featured the “Hololens” to be applicable to video games at their E3 Conference in 2016, showing how someone’s “Minecraft” world can be recreated as a miniature version on their living room table through the “Hololens’” AR head set. The only problem is that the “Hololens” is still in development, and has yet to be released to the masses.

For now, it is safe to say that most people should wait for VR and AR to become more developed and perfected. If they have a powerful computer and plenty of disposable income, the “Vive” would be an easy choice. If they just want to see what VR’s like, the “PS VR” would be a good choice. But for now, it would be wise to save those $300 plus, and see where this new and promising industry leads.

Capturing the Moment and Walking Through History

A TCC Art Professor shares her art and experiences from recent trip to Greece

For as long as she could remember, Professor Marit Berg had always wanted to visit Greece: her fascination with the Minoan culture, the city of Crete, and the ancient site of Knossos, were always desired trips she dreamed of one day making. In the Fall of 2016, she was able to make this trip, and came back with numerous sketches and paintings she created herself. “In the cities, especially in Crete,” Berg said, “I was enchanted by the Venetian architecture. I tried to capture the intimacy of the narrow passage ways and Baroque architecture.”

Professor Berg’s pieces vary from sketches she made in the moment, to paintings she made in the moments after. Berg has been an artist all her life, and an art professor and Tacoma Community College (TCC) for about 20 years. She grew up with artistic parents, and traveled throughout Europe and Mexico before she was 10 years old.

Berg’s art style in the past differs from this gallery. Her paintings usually rely on “shared knowledge and symbolic reference.” She considers her past work to be more surreal, since she uses contrasting themes and images to evoke new connections. Her paintings and sketches in “Recent Travels,” were inspired by what was right in front of her, and were encapsulated moments.

“The Apartment, Athens,” Berg wrote in her Gallery Statement to Pierce, is a reflection on her observation of a city with a “dichotomy of ancient cultural sites.” Berg says Athens is a “lively city, a bit rough around the edges, selling you cheap tourist icons of the past.” But she still believes the city “impresses people with a deep and vast sense of time.”

One of Berg’s favorite pieces from the trip, was one of her 10-year-old daughter, Maeve, reading on a couch. This moment was captured after a decent extra day they spent in Athens, and just before that, however, they had a stressful time re-booking tickets to Mykonos, due to a recent ferry worker’s strike in Athens. “This piece is about making the best out of the unexpected,” said Berg. “The sketches are also important emotionally because you engage so intensely with your surroundings for a short period of time.” Berg believes that sketches like those can take the artist right back to the moment.

When Berg travels, she always carries some painting supplies as well as her sketchbook. This gallery is meant to inspire artists to want to keep a sketchbook with them wherever they travel. Her gallery will be up until February 28th, which will conclude with a ceremony and Q&A session with Professor Berg, all in the Fine Arts Gallery.

“Passengers” Introduces Audiences to Unique Sci-Fi Suspense Love Story

Despite controversies surrounding its premise, the film excels in empathy and humanity delivered by the two star-studded leads

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Though "Passengers" has received some backlash for what some see as disturbing themes, the film does handle the subject, the characters controversial actions, and overall narrative and development in an appropriate manner. "Passengers" follows the story of two civilians on board a spaceship transporting them to a distant planetary colony, after a malfunction in the ship, one of them, James “Jim” Preston (Chris Pratt) wakes up from his “hibernation stasis” nearly a century too early.

It isn’t spoiling anything that hasn’t already been shown in the trailers, and widely talked about in the media, to say that Preston makes a difficult decision to wake up another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). A majority of moviegoers and critics alike latched onto this character’s mistake, and the consequences that followed it, and labeled it as bordering on Stockholm Syndrome, where an abducted or captured victim develops a relationship with their captor, mostly along the lines of the romantic. But this is not the case for these two condemned "Passengers".

Preston had been alone on the ship for over a year, almost losing his mind in the isolation and repetition of his life aboard the limited vessel. He first tried to get back into “hibernation” but his pod wouldn’t function, along with other multiple attempts to put himself back asleep, he accepted his fate early on, to die alone on the ship. After hanging out at the bar with the android bartender, Arthur (Michael Sheen), going to every expensive restaurant of every nationality, playing games, and exploring the outside of the ship while tethered in a spacesuit, Preston became miserable and almost suicidal at his doomed life.

When Preston makes his choice, he doesn’t make it on a whim, he contemplates, he refuses to do it, he weighs every option, and still continues to try to refuse the idea. But, knowing he is making a huge mistake and destroying this person’s future, he awakens Miss Lane.

The performances are particularly impressive by the limited cast, showing audiences a range and variety of emotions that had never truly been portrayed by the leads Pratt and Lawrence. Pratt usually plays a sarcastic, wise cracking, smart mouth as seen from his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Jurassic World (2015), and the Magnificent Seven (2016). But here Pratt portrays a conflicted and desperate man with a heart of gold: when he’s happy he looks genuinely joyful, when he’s going through a range of conflicting emotions, you see it on every inch of his face, every delivery of his lines.

Though "Passengers" has received some backlash for what some see as disturbing themes, the film does handle the subject, the characters controversial actions, and overall narrative and development in an appropriate manner. "Passengers" follows the story of two civilians on board a spaceship transporting them to a distant planetary colony, after a malfunction in the ship, one of them, James “Jim” Preston (Chris Pratt) wakes up from his “hibernation stasis” nearly a century too early.

It isn’t spoiling anything that hasn’t already been shown in the trailers, and widely talked about in the media, to say that Preston makes a difficult decision to wake up another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). A majority of moviegoers and critics alike latched onto this character’s mistake, and the consequences that followed it, and labeled it as bordering on Stockholm Syndrome, where an abducted or captured victim develops a relationship with their captor, mostly along the lines of the romantic. But this is not the case for these two condemned "Passengers".

Preston had been alone on the ship for over a year, almost losing his mind in the isolation and repetition of his life aboard the limited vessel. He first tried to get back into “hibernation” but his pod wouldn’t function, along with other multiple attempts to put himself back asleep, he accepted his fate early on, to die alone on the ship. After hanging out at the bar with the android bartender, Arthur (Michael Sheen), going to every expensive restaurant of every nationality, playing games, and exploring the outside of the ship while tethered in a spacesuit, Preston became miserable and almost suicidal at his doomed life.

When Preston makes his choice, he doesn’t make it on a whim, he contemplates, he refuses to do it, he weighs every option, and still continues to try to refuse the idea. But, knowing he is making a huge mistake and destroying this person’s future, he awakens Miss Lane.

The performances are particularly impressive by the limited cast, showing audiences a range and variety of emotions that had never truly been portrayed by the leads Pratt and Lawrence. Pratt usually plays a sarcastic, wise cracking, smart mouth as seen from his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Jurassic World (2015), and the Magnificent Seven (2016). But here Pratt portrays a conflicted and desperate man with a heart of gold: when he’s happy he looks genuinely joyful, when he’s going through a range of conflicting emotions, you see it on every inch of his face, every delivery of his lines.

Preston’s a human being who makes mistakes and knows he is, and he has to live with the pressing regret, and audience’s both hate and feel sorry for the character. Would anyone else make this kind of decision? In that kind of scenario, knowing they’d either go insane, die alone, or commit suicide, Preston’s choice is pretty understandable, and there’s a unique sympathy and empathy that is rarely, in film, this tough to feel towards the movie’s benefit. So Preston chooses to do what he selfishly wanted because he’s a human and makes mistakes.

Lawrence has shown some acting chops in the past, ranging from the disturbed mind of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (2012), the sporadic and bipolar Tiffany from Silver Lining’s Playbook (2012), to her somber and stern portrayal of Mystique in X-Men First Class (2011). This time around Lawrence’s character, Lane, is a humorous, knowledgeable, and well-spoken individual. As her character develops and her feelings towards Preston swerve back and forth, Lawrence delivers a convincing range of expression and attitude that sets the tone for every scene that faithfully follows Lane’s current, and empathetic, mood.

The controversies of "Passengers" would have been understandable if it weren’t for the movie’s self-awareness of its premise, humanizing Preston’s poor decisions and Lane’s varying changes of heart; and the rich dynamic between these two characters and the film’s two leads.

The ending to "Passengers" felt a little too pleasant. To describe the feelings of the very end of the film without spoiling it: Preston’s decision of a selfish and condemning choice at the beginning of the story, should have concluded with him making a selfless and redeeming choice. The ending wasn’t bad in any way, it was actually quite heartwarming and unexpected, but an ironic hero sacrifice would have felt more appropriate. Besides that, the rest of the film is intriguing, the performances are spectacular, and the story is believable.

Preston’s a human being who makes mistakes and knows he is, and he has to live with the pressing regret, and audience’s both hate and feel sorry for the character. Would anyone else make this kind of decision? In that kind of scenario, knowing they’d either go insane, die alone, or commit suicide, Preston’s choice is pretty understandable, and there’s a unique sympathy and empathy that is rarely, in film, this tough to feel towards the movie’s benefit. So Preston chooses to do what he selfishly wanted because he’s a human and makes mistakes.

Lawrence has shown some acting chops in the past, ranging from the disturbed mind of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (2012), the sporadic and bipolar Tiffany from Silver Lining’s Playbook (2012), to her somber and stern portrayal of Mystique in X-Men First Class (2011). This time around Lawrence’s character, Lane, is a humorous, knowledgeable, and well-spoken individual. As her character develops and her feelings towards Preston swerve back and forth, Lawrence delivers a convincing range of expression and attitude that sets the tone for every scene that faithfully follows Lane’s current, and empathetic, mood.

The controversies of "Passengers" would have been understandable if it weren’t for the movie’s self-awareness of its premise, humanizing Preston’s poor decisions and Lane’s varying changes of heart; and the rich dynamic between these two characters and the film’s two leads.

The ending to "Passengers" felt a little too pleasant. To describe the feelings of the very end of the film without spoiling it: Preston’s decision of a selfish and condemning choice at the beginning of the story, should have concluded with him making a selfless and redeeming choice. The ending wasn’t bad in any way, it was actually quite heartwarming and unexpected, but an ironic hero sacrifice would have felt more appropriate. Besides that, the rest of the film is intriguing, the performances are spectacular, and the story is believable.

‘The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine’ brings expansive journey to an emotional end

Downloadable content for video game brings fans back for one last engaging adventure

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It has been over 1 year from the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s initial release in 2015. Since then, they have release a series of free downloadable extra content and 1 full length paid downloadable content (DLC) that was released last October. Now, the final-- and quite possibly the largest-- paid DLC has been released: Blood and Wine.

The new story takes place in the land of Toussaint, an ancient and prosperous city, built in and around Elven ruins and surrounded by lush greenery and enriched vineyards. The land is massive, it introduces new temples and fortresses to explore, and a beautiful city to be immersed in.

The story follows one last adventure for the main character of the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Geralt of Rivia, as he is hired to investigate the murders of multiple noble knights. Geralt arrives at the start of a great festival and tournament, and partakes in certain events to further the trust of certain individuals to help his investigation. Geralt soon discovers a much deeper and darker secret that has been the groundwork for the murders, involving the motives of the killer and the victims themselves.

This new DLC truly feels like a final “hurrah” for Geralt, Geralt at one point meets an old friend named Regis, an ancient vampire who is filled with charm, intelligence, and generosity. This friend is weary from all the strife and troubles that fill this world, and Geralt shares this feeling. But Geralt has been appointed by the Duchess of Toussaint, Anna Henrietta, to put an end to the threat that looms over the peaceful city.

Toussaint offers a far different atmosphere compared to the other cities players explore in the base game of the Witcher. Typically, the lands Geralt explores are filled with despicable people, disgusted with Geralt’s very presence, and are corrupted with greed and violence. The only land that offers some refuge from all the misery and hatred was the Skellige Isles, a vast snowy land occupied by ruthless vikings and barbarians. These barbarians, ironically enough, had a respectable honor and courage about them that gave players a bit of a break from the murderous scoundrels and backstabbing thieves that filled the mainlands.

Toussaint is filled with proud and noble knights always looking to pledge their love and honor to their Duchess and the people of Toussaint. The whole of Toussaint mirrors a Italy-France kind of aesthetic and style, with valleys stretching with vineyards and tall colored buildings bordering canals and wide brick roads.

The monsters encountered in Blood and Wine range from pale wyverns to man-eating plants, but most notably is the more imminent and looming threat: vampires. Vampires are far more complicated and diverse in the Witcher universe compared to any other fiction. There are more beast-like and blood-hungry vampires such as Ekimmaras and Katakans, but there are also a class of vampire simply called Higher Vampires. Higher Vampires are fiercely intelligent, unimaginable powerful, can take the appearance of every day humans, and are virtually unkillable. They are for all intents and purposes, immortal, with the only way to truly kill one is for it to be slain by another of its kind. Other than that, they will continuously regenerate and grow stronger the more enraged they become.

Geralt’s friend, Regis, though a vampire, has fasted himself from any blood from any creature, for he was once an addict of blood, close to the point of attacking humans in the streets to suck them dry. He is now calm, collected, and respects human’s kinder natures and apt abilities for ingenuity. He assists Geralt in his investigations and proves a vital piece of the puzzle in the murders.

The story is superb, the characters are engaging, and the new land is beautiful and at times mesmerising in its immersiveness. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine can bring players to the point of tears in its excellent writing. This is a fantastic and well deserved conclusion to Geralt’s long journey.

Fallout 4: Far Harbor’ lures fans back to renowned video game

Expansion to 2015 game offers refreshing experience and a new landscape to explore

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Far Harbor is the first major expansion to Fallout 4, the first two smaller expansions were Automatron and Wasteland Workshop. Though these downloadable expansions were entertaining, they only added some new content and only brought fans of the game back for a short time. Far Harbor has added a completely new area to explore, people to meet, and monsters to fight.

One of the biggest things Far Harbor succeeds in is its atmosphere. The base game of Fallout 4 took place in a post-apocalyptic Boston, whereas Far Harbor takes place further north, closer to New Hampshire’s coastline. The large environment is filled with more dense pine forests and fishing towns. Players get the sense that the community of Far Harbor, the name of the main village, effectively survive on this coast. They do, however, live under the constant threat of the looming “fog,” and the creatures that dwell within it.

As the player traverses the fog, they will come across unsightly mutated creatures including mutated angler fishes, bipedal toad monstrosities, and ferocious irradiated wolves. Though the expansion doesn’t add too much in terms of weaponry, the weapons players do receive are effective and fun to use. One being the lever action rifle that’s fast and accurate, and another being the harpoon cannon, that is self-explanatory.

What brings the player to Far Harbor, storywise, is a new investigation that has presented itself at the player character’s companion, Nick Valentine’s Detective Agency. Worried parents are looking for their daughter that left without a trace, and the player finds a tape that talks about how she believes that she is a Synth, and has ran away to a Synth paradise called Acadia. Synths are synthetic organisms created by the Institute: a secretive facility of scientists who are descendants of the researchers of the Cambridge Institute of Technology, who work deep underground to supposedly help the ruined world above. Some Synths escape the Institute once they being to gain a self aware mind, and feel that they are slaves to their institute creators.

The characters are all interesting: the citizens of Far Harbor are fiercely independent, and have a habit of seeming hostile to newcomers, even if they are desperate for help.

Far Harbor is at odds with an increasingly hostile group of cultists called the “Children of Atom.” These fanatics worship the power of the atomic bomb, and believe radiation is some kind of “transcendence” in the eyes of their god, Atom. Given the citizens of Far Harbor’s near constant war against the horrors that thrive in the fog, they disagree with the cultists to say the least.

The Synths of Acadia wish to bring peace between Far Harbor and the Children of Atom, but Acadia’s leader has a dark secret that the player must uncover that may prove detrimental in the inevitable conflict.

Far Harbor succeeds in its atmosphere, explorative motives, and its story. This expansion has set a high and hopeful bar for any further expansions for Fallout 4.

Michael Darcher’s final release event for newest SLAM

Rewards and Readings were given in opening reception for 18th issue for the Student Literary Arts Magazine

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Christopher Eastman/Staff Photo

Robertson considers Darcher her major influence for writing.

“SLAM has always been about collaboration,” Darcher said in his opening speech. “And this issue is no different from its predecessors in that regard.”

That literary magazine became SLAM, whose reception was held on May 3, celebrating the release of the 18th issue of the magazine.

This reception was particularly special since it was the last of Darcher’s involvement in SLAM’s release, due to him retiring at the end of Spring Quarter. SLAM will continue to exist after Darcher leaves, with Corrina Wycoff taking the reigns as SLAM’s Program Coordinator.

Darcher acknowledged the editors that worked on this issue of SLAM. “They do all the work and I get paid for it,” Darcher jested, “It’s a perfect system.”

Darcher commemorated the work of the editorial board that consisted of Corrina Wycoff, Heather Frankland, Audrey Scarborough, Zoe Fisher, Kelsey Short, Amy Todd, MyQueena Allain-Pendergrass, Keith Fincham, and Lauren Betzina.

Darcher handed out checks to students who were selected for particular awards, namely The Elizabeth Breen Prose Award that was given to Breanna Harris for her story “Star-Crossed.” Other students who received different awards were Charles Burt and Lori Brock for the Cherry Tinker Art Award, Rachel Watson who won the Brian Martin Cover Design Award, and lastly, Allain-Pendergrass and Nicole Robertson who won the Susan Wallace Poetry Award.

Darcher also praised the work of Brian Martin who was in charge of the layout and design, saying that SLAM wouldn’t have gotten where it has without his help.

“Each issue has its particular strengths,” Darcher said in his speech, “This year had especially good poetry.”

Students then went up on stage to read their poems, as well as actors and actresses from the theatre department who went up to read some selected poems.

One poem that was read by Robertson was called “Memories of Mother,” a poem talking about a young girl living with her drug addict mother, one excerpt at the end of the poem says, “Twelve years later and she still hasn’t come home. I think she’s in the sky, either high or dead.”

After the event, Roberston discussed another one of her poems in SLAM called “Death,” a poem about the death of her uncle from a drunk car accident, and what her two year old cousin said that she felt was truly eye opening in her coping with the grief.

Aside from “Death,” Robertson wrote most of her poems about her mother,“I don’t really write to read aloud,” she said, “I write really more for myself.” Robertson then went on to talk about how she believed the poems were her way of expressing her feelings onto the page to help herself cope with her mother’s disappearance, “Mr. Darcher always said ‘writers write to be heard.’”

Robertson said she was grateful for Darcher’s work and encouragement, “Mr. Darcher’s class is the reason why I want to be a writer now,” Robertson said, beginning to tear up, “This has been an amazing experience for me, because now I’m a published writer!”

Robertson then said she had never really won an award before this, and said Darcher feels like family, and concluded, “He has really inspired me to follow writing.”

At the end of the event, Patrick Daugherty stood up and commended Darcher’s work and influence on both this school, its students, and the perseverance of SLAM. Darcher then received a standing ovation from the over 100 attendees for his work over the years.

 

Darcher’s reflection on history of SLAM, and a retrospect on the development of latest issue:

When Michael Darcher arrived at Pierce College, he noticed there wasn’t a student literary magazine, “Given the population and diversity of our student population, this surprised me.”

Darcher has worked at the college for about 20 years, and is a long-time English professor here at the Fort Steilacoom campus, and is retiring after Spring Quarter.

“When we were first trying to get the kite off the ground, there was an old barista stand that had donated $7000 to the Pierce College Foundation,” Darcher said. “My first thought was, ‘Boy did I choose the wrong profession.’” Darcher knew from this that the school would have the funds for his idea of starting a literary magazine, he then submitted a request for a grant in hopes to start up a student literary magazine. The Foundation then gave them a $1000 grant, “And I felt that really legitimized us.”

When Darcher was pitching the idea to some of his colleagues, they made a clear point early on that the magazine should remain exclusively comprised of student works, “We felt that the talent, quality, and the quantity of student work here held great potential.”

According to Darcher, when SLAM first began, it was one of the first programs to be supported by both Campus S&A budgets, the other being than athletics, “If you will, we were the intellectual athletes.”

There was a controversy over the cover of this issue of SLAM, with the original art being a person with their arms spread out, with the person either falling or just flying over the bridge being up to interpretation. Darcher said that the decision making process has always been difficult for the editorial board, much more so than whatever content that is actually in the literary magazine. Some members believed that this art would send a damaging message to people who might have had experiences related to suicide.

Darcher personally disagreed, “I felt these contentions ran contrary to my notion of art,” he said, “I believe that art is suppose to provoke response.”

The board settled on the cover that is used now, done by Rachel Watson.

SLAM had been named best literary journal by the Washington Community Colleges Humanities Association (WCCHA). As well as in 1999, the Pierce County Arts Commission awarded Pierce College for its support of SLAM.

 

Christopher Eastman and Patrick Connell/Staff Photos

**SPOILER ALERT** Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere, ‘The Red Woman’ review

**SPOILER ALERT** After a long wait, audiences return to the mythical and unforgiving land of Westeros, with few questions answered, while still remaining engaging

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The key question audiences had at the end of Game of Thrones season 5, was “is Jon Snow alive?” Though this question is still up in the air, season 6’s premiere both amazes and somewhat disappoints.

The opening shot of the episode is Jon Snow’s corpse in the snow, with his Direwolf Ghost howling in the distance.

Davos, Jon’s loyal friend Ed, and another small hand of loyal Men of the Watch help bring Jon’s body into a room and lock themselves into it.

Though the Red Woman remarks that she saw Jon in the flames, fighting at Winterfell, as she solemnly looks at him.

The Game of Thrones first episodes always follow a trend of “where are they now” with a couple of exciting moments sprinkled here and there. This episode had some very exciting moments such as Sansa’s rescue from Ramsay Bolton’s men, as well as a smaller, but still interesting scene where Arya is given a carved pole and beaten by one of the faceless men (faceless men being a unisex term, given the Faceless Men are, well, faceless, and have no singular identity).

Aside from a rather disturbing scene that revealed a surprising secret about the Red Woman, there wasn’t anything too surprising that happened with anyone else. People knew pretty well that Ellaria (Oberyn Martell’s lover) would start a coup in Dorne, it was pretty easy to predict how Cersei would react upon learning about her daughter’s death, and Daenerys’ fate among the Dothraki Horde was either going to end with her misery, or her talking her way out of danger; with her succeeding in the latter.

The way these different stories can go is looking to be one of the more interesting and exciting seasons yet. Arya’s blindness may be another aspect of her training as a Faceless Man, Sansa and Theon (Reek) are now under the protection of Brienne of Tarth and Podrick.

Daenerys is being led by the Dothraki to the temple where all widows of Kals go while Daario and Jorah search for her.

Cersei and Jaime are faced with the challenges presented in the wake of their daughter’s death, Tyrion and Varys try to control the torn city of Maureen, and Jon’s fate, as well as the fate of the Men of the Night’s Watch, is still unknown, and can go many directions.

All in all, this season has many questions left to be answered, as well as many events going on all around the world that continue to prove why Game of Thrones is such a popular and loved show.

Captain America: Civil War

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After the catastrophes that occurred in Avengers 1, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Avengers 2, the United Nations have now initiated the Sokovia Accords, where they will be able to regulate the Avengers and their actions.

Civil War brings to light the consequences, both negative and positive, that affect the world the Avengers scour. Steven Rogers, known as Captain America (Chris Evans), sees the Accords as something that threatens the freedom of his fellow Avengers, as well as his rogue friend, Bucky (Sebastian Stan), also known as the Winter Soldier.

The Captain’s main opponent in the Civil War, and the one to suggest the Accords, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), also known as Iron Man, reacts out of immense guilt and a desperate need to take responsibility for the deaths he and the Avengers have caused.

Civil War may be the most emotionally fueled Marvel movie yet, though it does rely a lot on the audience to have seen the previous movies as well.

The movie does do well in providing enough context, but having that previous knowledge of important events from the previous films does help understanding this dire strife.

As tensions continue to rise throughout the story, the torn Avengers begin to form their teams and fight for what both of them believe is the right thing.

Stark manages to gain the allegiance of new characters Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Whereas Rogers rallies up Ant Man (Paul Rudd), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and others.

The most compelling aspect of Civil War is the colliding morals of both sides, this movie manages to balance the morally ambiguous differences and struggles of both sides.

Rogers wants freedom and privacy for his superpowered friends, while Stark wants the world to trust the Avengers, and not feel they are unpredictable and destructive vigilantes.

One of the newest additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man, has a complicated history with the character’s movie rights between studios. Sony Picture Studios were the ones to most recently own the rights to Spider Man, and made the Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel.

Spider-Man has been now rebooted and recasted 3 times in the past decade, and only now, Marvel has been given the rights to Spider-Man to incorporate him into their Cinematic Universe.

Spider-Man’s role is brief in Civil War, but the movie acknowledges this and has valid reason for it, with Stark needing more muscle to stop Captain Rogers.

Black Panther (Boseman) plays a more significant and morally torn character, who is looking to avenge his father.

The movie is long, clocking in around 2 1/2 hours, but the film fills each minute with an engaging story, interesting confrontations between characters, and well choreographed and heart-pounding fight scenes.

Captain America: Civil War leaves the audience emotionally torn, but still eager for the future of the Avengers movies.

Hydration Stations: an expensive luxury, not a necessity

The cost of Hydration Stations may outweigh their usefulness

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The value of hydration stations varies from person to person. This state is an undeniably “damp” state to say the least. Though depending on the year and person, the actual desire for hydration stations is up for debate for different reasons.
Some people, even native Washingtonians, still carry their own water bottles. The water bottle friendly hydration station allows students to easily place and fill their bottle without much difficulty. But couldn’t the same be said for just an average water fountain?
The angle someone would have to put their bottles while filling them could be a bit awkward, or their lack of desire for their personal water bottle coming into contact with the fountain’s focette that many people’s breath and hands have touched before.
This avoidance of germs is understandable, and there is the fact that there are many water fountains in the school that have different outputs of water, one may shoot a small puddle of liquid while the other right next to it would shoot out a high enough stream that the water would splash everywhere.
The cost of hydration stations would be far too much compared to the frequency they would be used as well. The price for a simple water fountain seems to be far less than that 1 foot longer extension that the hydration station is made up of.
As Spring comes rushing in with dry and hot days, it is always important to remain hydrated. But the ease and abundance of normal water fountains removes any real need for most students to have a personal water bottle at their side at all times, with a few exceptions based on people’s personal health and other situations.
Hydration stations would be more of a waste of money and resources than the value of having them everywhere. The ones the school already has (the one in the Cascade’s 4th floor and the one in the HEC hallway), seem to be enough for the students who truly need such a convenience. Especially the Cascade’s station, given it is close to the very hub of the college that is the 4th floor.

The displacement of placement tests

A reflection on the role of placement tests and their tendency to pigeonhole students

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The Compass is being phased out. And now that the college is looking into other options, it brings to mind how valuable placement tests really have been over the years, and if their necessity is really what it seems.

There could be numerous factors as to why students may not succeed in a placement test. It could take hours, and fatigue could lessen a student’s effectiveness, it could be that they have simply forgotten a certain aspect of a test, and as tests like the Compass adapt to their answers and lessen the difficulty of them, soon putting the student on a path that would lead to a student being placed into a lower level class when they normally have the ability to take the higher level classes, but simply needed clarification on one particular subject.

It appears to be that Pierce College may be moving away from placement tests like the Compass or Accuplacer, though there are talks about the College Board organization adapting the Accuplacer to be much more of an accessible tool, the American College Testing organization’s response to disjointed data and stats is to completely remove their placement test that rivaled the Accuplacer for so long. But Pierce supposedly may still look for other options away from both organizations.

There is an underlying belief that students should not be placed in “boxes,” that student success and what they get from education is subjective, and can be interpreted very differently compared to what other people think. Though it is true intelligence cannot be measured or categorized without a large amount of people’s experiences and abilities diverging from whatever chart or category their intelligence was put in, there will always be a scientific pattern leaning on way or another of the effectiveness of education.

This factors into placement tests as well, the mathematics instructor David Lippman said that there were studies showing that there was indeed about 70 percent of students who did well in the classes they were placed into based off of the results from the Compass test, but that still means there were about 30 percent students who were displaced and their time, money, and education, were all wasted from the placement test’s error.

This test was the 2010 assessment study from the Ohlone College in Fremont California. The percentage of students who said they were properly placed was far fewer than what the instructors believed, and what the placement test decided for them.

Now if this margin looked about 90 or even 85 percent accuracy, then this issue wouldn’t be a problem at all, some students just fail classes, and that’s that. Whether they don’t do the work or the courses they chose weren’t anything that they really understood.

But this percentage of failure versus success was a large enough gap that led to the ACT removing the test all together. “A thorough analysis of customer feedback, empirical evidence, and postsecondary trends led us to conclude that ACT Compass is not contributing as effectively to student placement and success as it had in the past.”

Different forms of placement testing that has led to the existence of the Compass and Accuplacer dates back to the mid 1800’s, but generations can vary drastically from one another depending on the type of world they live in. Students who only knew what they learned in class back in the 1970’s may not be the same as students today who have access to an endless source of information in their digital devices.

Perhaps college’s possible departure from placement tests is for the better, changing that 72 percent satisfactory margin towards 80, or even 90 percent accuracy. That students will have the opportunity to take classes that properly challenged them and pushed their professional knowledge, to better their chances for success, and to improve their education for an ever changing world.

Navigating Education without a Compass

ACT’s Compass placement test is being discontinued, raising questions and concerns about what student placement alternatives will be put into place

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Patrick Connel

Students take the Compass test inside of Pierce’s Testing Center. Soon, this room could be empty.

The American College Testing (ACT) program has published the following announcement on their website, ACT.org, “A thorough analysis of customer feedback, empirical evidence, and postsecondary trends led us to conclude that ACT Compass is not contributing as effectively to student placement and success as it had in the past.”

The Compass test is a placement test used in community and technical colleges. It is a computerized test that is untimed, adaptive, and measures skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.

The Compass test has been the lead placement test for colleges for decades, but this test, including the ACT Asset, Windows Compass, eCompass, and Compass 5.0, will discontinue on November 30 this year.

David Lippman, a mathematics instructor, shared his thoughts on the Compass test’s removal, “The whole placement process has always been a bit of a challenge,” Lippman said. “For example if we want to test someone to see where in 7 levels of math someone belongs, we don’t want to put them through 7 hours of testing to figure it out.”

Lippman added, “None of us are particularly sad to see Compass go,” Lippman said, “There were a lot of us who did not particularly love it.”

Lippman talked about how Pierce College plans to handle the Compass’ removal, “We’re always trying to find a way to find out where people belong, and it’s not always going to be easy.”

Lippman talked about how the Compass may not always be accurate. How some students may be placed into pre-calculus, but may have forgotten a certain subject in algebra that they need to know for pre-cal.

Lippman said the placement testing process will never be perfect, “The stuff I’ve seen suggests that 70 percent or so of students who were placed in classes because of the testing did just fine from where they were placed,” Lippman said, “Though there are also students who feel like the classes they were placed in were wrong.”

The study Lippman is referring to is a validation study of placement tests conducted in Ohlone College, where 74 percent of students who were placed into their math class by the Placement Test said they were placed into the proper class, whereas the instructors thought that 92 percent of students were placed into the proper class. The study’s summary, submitted by one of the college’s professors Wayne Takakuwa stated, “Students often completed a higher level math course in high school than the math course they test into at Ohlone.” Concluding that the student’s placement in math courses were lower than what they had already studied in high school, now being moved to less appropriate courses based off of the placement test’s results.

Lippman talked about what he called “a big push” called “multiple measures,” which he said means two different things: the testing for students on multiple courses, and to take into account multiple factors for when the student is taking the test such as where they are in life, or how long it’s been since they’ve been academically tested.

Lippman mentioned other types of placement tests schools are starting to use such as the Smart Balance, a new test being used in high schools that is being given in 10th or 11th grade, and if a student does well in that test they are then placed into college level courses.

But the one other system Pierce College is looking into, according to Lippman, is one that will have student’s placement be based off of their high school GPA. This would apply to both Running Start students, recently graduated high school students, and students who are returning long after acquiring their GED or high school diploma.

Lippman did, however, say that the biggest downside to this system would be that students who are returning to school, whether it’s been 3 years or 10, may have forgotten some important subjects they may have known well back in high school.

So a student who may have graduated with a 3.8 GPA may be placed in a high level class, despite having not been in school for years, and may have accidentally forgotten the level of subject matter that they are placed into. Lippman clarified that this was only one suggestion, not a solid plan.

One of the ACT’s competitors is the College Board’s Accuplacer, but Lippman believes Pierce College will look more into phasing out placement tests all together, focusing more on GPAs as a basis for student placement.

The Accuplacer is run by the College Board, the same organization that runs the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), the test for high school juniors and seniors. The SAT is also competitor to the ACT which covers grades K through 12.

“Recent studies have been looking at the accuracy of placement tests,” Curt Warmington, the English Chair for the Fort Steilacoom campus said, “The English Department had started research into this question prior to learning that Compass was going away. Personally, I think there is good reason to question the effectiveness of placement tests, and I’m glad that we are doing this work.”

“[The English Department] is still meeting and looking at options,” Warmington stated, “We have done research and have met 4 times so far.” Warmington talked about how there might be a taskforce that will be working on a solution over the summer, but the plan of appointing the taskforce is still in need of approval.

“We will probably use more than one assessment tool,” Warmington said, “But we are not sure which yet or exactly how we will use them.”

Though the Compass is being phased out this Fall, data via ACT eCompass will still be available through December 31.

Look past gender identity and see the humanity

Reception held for Jo Anne Geron’s ‘STARE!’ exhibit, where she blurred the lines between gender identities

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Geron reflecting on her journey.

Last year, professor Geron was offered a sabbatical to finish a project she had been passionate about for years.

A sabbatical is a year of paid vacation given upon the acceptance of a request letter. Though multiple professors may submit sabbatical requests, only one is awarded.

Her art exhibit, “STARE!”, went up in the Fine Arts Gallery on April 1, and will remain up until May 5. On April 13, the college had a reception and Questions and Answers session at the end.

Geron wanted the project to be about obscuring gender and how that affects people’s view of others, Geron is a psychology professor and the department coordinator in the social science division, “I felt very familiar with this issue because of my work,” Geron said.

She began this project in 2014, after Israel attacked Benghazi. “I’m Israeli, so this was constantly on my mind, and it really did influence my work.”

Geron said she first ran into a multitude of problems when starting the project, with at first wanting to use the photos of the real transgender people who were murdered for her art, but she would have had to contact their families, and learned that many of them were not in contact with their families anymore.

Before she began her drawing, Geron learned that in 2012, 12 people were murdered because of their transgender Identity in the U.S.. Geron said she began this project in honor of people who have been murdered because of their transgender expression, saying it started as a pure social justice piece.

In the beginning, one of her concerns was using the victims’ photos as inspiration. But with the amount of time Geron would have to spend with the photos of these people who were no longer alive, she said she wasn’t eager to spend a year with that.

She then began a whole new approach, and hired some models and used custom made head coverings to obscure the model’s genders.

During the Q&A session,  a student asked when Geron knew she was done with the project, Geron jokingly remarked, “I never know when I’m done,” and talked about how she would often need her husband, professor Tom Link, or her son, Gabe Symer to tell her when she is finished with her work.

The illustrations presented featured subjects with multiple gender identifiers represented onto each person: someone with breasts and a moustache, masculine arms but a feminine face, still partially covered by cloth wrappings.

Geron had cardboard squares with a small opening to look through around the exhibit. These “viewfinders” were used so that people could look through them, and only see small parts of the subjects in the paintings, but at the same time being unable to identify which gender the person was-- being that they could not see the whole picture.

“I wanted to represent both feminine and masculine ways of being in the world,” Geron stated, “As oppose to specific male and female personal presentation.”

Geron wanted the subjects to have more of a representation of “expression, posture, tenderness, and dignity,” honing in on more of the individuality and universal humanity these people shared with others.

Students remarked on how she utilized certain angles and clothing that more and more obscured the lines between man and woman.

Another one of Geron’s intentions with the gallery was to acknowledge how some people feel uncomfortable with gender ambiguity, and illustrate the humanity transgendered people still share with people who have a more binary belief on gender.

At the end of the Q&A session, Beth Norman, a member of the college board, was very proud of Geron’s work, saying, “In all our years, this is one of the best sabbaticals we’ve ever offered.”

Dark Souls 3 offers a challenging but rewarding experience

“Embrace the Dark” in this fun soul-crushing game about power

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Though the 3rd installment of the Dark Souls games, Dark Souls 3 is a game that anyone can jump into, with little confusion.

The story of Dark Souls 3 seems to take place centuries after the previous games, with the last breath of an ever dying world reaching its end. Fire seems to be one of the only items of value to the condemned souls that sprinkle the world, that, and the power of souls themselves.

Fire is used for survival, while souls are used for power. Numerous souls are gathered with each kill, some of the most powerful souls coming from terrible foes that can crush unprepared wanderers without a second thought.

The player character is called an “unkindled one,” and is seeking to destroy the Lords of Cinder, and take control of the flame. Whether the flame is a myth, a palpable power, or simply a goal that keeps the player pushing forward, it is what they are after, and what they’ll do anything to find.

Dark Souls 3 has sprawling and intricate environments that weave and connect to one another, always keeping the player on their feet and sometimes in awe with the sheer scale of the world they explore. At one moment, the player may be exploring a forsaken catacomb writhing with unthinkable filth and monstrosities, and the next, they may be running through a frozen kingdom filled with dark spirits and forgotten knights.

The main argument those who view the series with disdain is that the combat is too hard. The people who don’t like the games see it as unforgiving, that enemies are far too complicated for anyone to fight fairly. And the fans of the games would agree, but this love for the game’s difficulty spawns more from the belief that the games aren’t hard in the way people would normally describe a hard game, that the enemies, weapons, and overall combat is designed intentionally to be unique and intricate; a puzzle for players to figure out through observation and experience.

The game can be difficult, but fans of the series see the difficulty more as a tactical challenge, rather than a broken and unpolished game.

People who love the franchise love it for different reasons. Some people love it for what they consider the deep lore, hidden meaning, and the internal puzzle solving that can go through a player’s mind as they put together bits and pieces of story that are presented, and also sometimes hidden to them.

Other groups of fans love the games for their tightly knit and challenging gameplay, sometimes completely ignoring the story and diving straight into the game with the hopes to kill everything that has a health bar.

They revere the game for the complicated and intuitively designed enemies and bosses, the wide range of weapons, and the immense feeling of accomplishment upon the defeat of the terrible foes through the blood, sweat, and tears that a player puts into beating the enemies.

Both groups often blend together, loving the game for similar reasons, making games like Dark Souls user friendly in a particular way.

Dark Souls 3 also has side stories and hidden tales sprinkled around the world. These stories can be told either through item descriptions or from lone souls who are on their own journeys.

Some items the player gathers as they make their way through a tomb tell the tale of a self proclaimed king who conquered numerous lands, crushing the crowns of the kings he conquered into dust and smelted them into his own crown, but this king soon became overwhelmed with a dark and powerful force called “the Abyss,” confined to a cursed chalice made from his hollowed out skull, only to be killed by the player who is teleported into his realm after touching the skull.

Another side story is of a traveler who the player meets throughout their journey, a polite and kind young women traveling with her mute but closest friend. She eventually gets separated from him, and ponders where ever he could be, but the player learns that this friend, in his solitude, has lost his mind, and viciously attacks anyone who comes near him.

Her side quest could actually become involved in the main quest, depending on how the player handles certain situations, as well as the path the player decides to follow in the main story.

The girl carries on, unaware of her friends location nor his lunacy, and she continues her quest in hunting an ancient lord whom she hopes to kill in the name of those she left at home.

These stories, and many others like it, add more and more depth to this dying world as the player explores its darkest corners. Dark Souls 3 is an accessible, if challenging, game that anyone looking for something different to play can enjoy thoroughly.

Zootopia Conveys Message of Acceptance and Perseverance

With sharp dialogue and meaningful story, this film is an animated joyride

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Set in a world where humans never existed, and where animals evolved to walk, dress, and talk, Zootopia follows the story of a rookie cop named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), the first  cop ever to be bunny, who moves to the big city of Zootopia, where animals live together in harmony-- or so she thinks.

Judy is a very stubborn, high energy, and spontaneous rabbit that has a tendency to get herself in danger out of her will to prove to everyone else that she can take on anything the bigger animals throw at her. An example of which is when Judy first joins the police force, she is given the job of being a ticket officer by her department’s chief, and one day she chases down a burglar through the mice sized part of the city.

But Judy soon becomes very saddened with the realization of how much the other officers and other animals mock her.

The film follows a theme of accepting others and not letting boundaries ruin bonds and friendships. The film can entertain both a young and mature audience, its story is both engaging and meaningful, and its dialogue is ageless, with jokes that anyone can laugh at, and characters anyone can relate to.

In the city of Zootopia, prey and predator live together, but some of those instinctive rivalries still exist: sheep don’t like wolves, leopards don’t like zebras, and rabbits don’t like foxes.

Judy soon meets Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a sly and relaxed fox who fancies the life of a con artist. After their first couple of encounters, and after Judy has been given 2 days to solve a missing persons case, she tracks Nick down and soon forces him to help her.

The case unfolds into a much larger conspiracy that threatens everyone in Zootopia, and puts Judy and Nick’s partnership under more and more stress.

The visuals truly show how far computer graphics have come, every bright and bleak color catches the eye, sets the mood, and leaves the audience with an enthralling a visual spectacle.

Every twitching ear and shift in emotion is clearly visible, giving viewers a clear idea of what emotion these characters are feeling. The writing is well thought out and gives the characters plenty of complicated personalities and character arcs. There are good setups, running jokes, and clever callbacks to previous lines that never feel awkward, forced, or lazy.

Each scene feels appropriately paced and flows together nicely, with serious scenes taking a darker or bleaker color pallet while some of the more fun and humorous scenes dawn a brighter, more vibrant tone.

A complaint some may have, but may sound odd, is that the really good jokes seem to only come from characters other than Nick and Judy. The two do have some great banter and endearing dialogue that’ll have viewers feel just as happy or sad as they do, but there isn’t that many memorable jokes between the two, though everything else about their dynamic and bond is quite memorable and entertaining throughout the movie.

One aspect of the movie that some people were cautious about was the prospect of a possible loving relationship between Judy the rabbit and Nick the fox. Disney managed to have them have a friendship that grows stronger throughout the film, with only a slight hint at something a little more at the very end.

But it is safe to say that there isn’t any romance between the two; and even then, the audience can become so invested in these characters that a future romance wouldn’t be as upsetting as moviegoers believed it would be before Zootopia’s release.

Which adds onto Zootopia’s overall message about seeing past other’s appearances and backgrounds. This does not mean that a love story has to be the focal point of the movie, nor does romance have to be the spearheading, end all be all of the movie’s overall message. Zootopia’s theme of pushing past physical and societal barriers to get along with others is clear, and Nick and Judy’s friendship is always endearing.

The story is fun, the characters are lovable, and the visuals and music are great. Zootopia is a funny and exciting film that can be loved by both children and adults.

Tacoma Little Theatre’s ‘The Last Night of Ballyhoo’ Shows Jewish Family’s Loss of Identity

Play explores when an old-fashioned newcomer challenges this assimilated family’s new traditions on the eve of war.

Photo+caption%3A+Sunny+%28Jill+Heinecke%29+takes+a+liking+to+Joe+%28Kelly+Mackay%29%2C+who+is+still+trying+to%0Aget+to+know+Sunny+better.

Tacoma Little Theatre/ Courtesy Photo

Photo caption: Sunny (Jill Heinecke) takes a liking to Joe (Kelly Mackay), who is still trying to get to know Sunny better.

Sunny (Jill Heinecke) takes a liking to Joe (Kelly Mackay), who is still trying to get to know Sunny better.

Sunny (Jill Heinecke) listens to her uncle Adolph (Russ Holm) reminisce his lost love

Joe (Kelly Mackay) patiently listens to the daydreaming Lala (Katelyn Hoffman) talk

Adolph (Russ Holm) and Boo (Stacie Hart) contemplate where their lives have gone to lead them to where they are now.

Following the tale of a German-Jewish family living in Atlanta Georgia, the play handles simultaneously the prejudices and progressiveness between American Jews in 1939, just before the U.S. joins World War 2.

The play starts with Lala Levy (Katelyn Hoffman) decorating a Christmas tree in the living room of the Jewish family’s household. The Freitag and Levy family grew up around closed off anti-semites and segregational Jews, which is one of the main themes of the play.

Lala and the rest of the family’s lives become even more complicated with the arrival of Adolph Freitag (Russ Holm)’s newest employee, Joe Farkas (Kelly Mackay), as well as the arrival of Lala’s more successful cousin, Sunny Freitag (Jill Heinecke).

Lala is somewhat childish, a constant dreamer, and prefers to remain within the house out of fear of everyone else outside. Meanwhile her mother, Boo Levy (Stacie Hart), is a stubborn but loving mother who wants her daughter to be successful, but can’t seem to pull her out of her shell. Boo also seems to follow the prejudicial thoughts shared with many others within their city.

When Adolph comes home from work with a new employee, Joe, a spiffy young Jewish man from New York, Joe becomes somewhat of a vessel for the audience as he is new in town and is unaware of the separation of the Jewish community nor people’s treatment of each other based upon that.

When Joe reveals himself to be a Eastern European Jew, Boo treats him with disdain, using his recoiling response towards Lala’s suddenly intrusive personality, as an excuse to talk ill of him.

The Jews in the Atlanta community seperate each other between German and Eastern European Jews, which is often either characterized through Boo’s attitude toward Joe or the community’s country club that run the Ballyhoo event.

With this in mind, the audience sees somewhat through Joe’s eyes what it is like to suddenly learn about a such a shocking problem within his own people.

pushing past prejudices emplaced by the overall community

Reba Freitag (Kim Holm) is another oblivious character, with a bubbly personality who also seems unconcerned with the importance of her Jewish heritage, a common theme amongst most of the characters. This trait is somewhat shared with Sunny, who is more open-minded and aware of who she is, but still doesn’t grasp its importance nearly as much as her intellectual equal, Joe.

The performances are quite entertaining, Russ Holm’s character Adolph is a lazy and snarky joker, who delivers most of the punch lines and humorous remarks. Russ Holm delivers as well, with well timed and acted jokes that can leave the audience dying of laughter.

Hoffman does a good job as Lala in emoting and showing this character’s conflict and fears. Heinecke also portrays her character, Sunny’s inner conflict very well, as the story shows this character’s sudden realization that not everything has to be the way it is, with the help of Joe.

Mackay does a good job in bringing to life Joe’s character and both his straight to the point personality and his somewhat “fish out of water” reactions to the ideals of this new community.

Stacie Hart and Kim Holm do well in playing Boo and Reba, respectively. The sister-in-law characters have some fun dialogue between them, and show different sides and results of the assimilated Jewish family.

With the story’s message about assimilation, the story does offer some good reasoning and motivation as to why the characters talk about what they believe in.

The conflicts and interactions Sunny faces between the other characters is always interesting, with each discussion offering a different view from the same problem.

With Sunny’s character being both progressive but also somewhat trapped in her family’s beliefs, her and Joe’s clashing of ideals offers some great moral lessons and revelations. Lala and Sunny also clash, with Lala being jealous of Sunny’s “non-Jew” features, whereas Lala sees herself as completely physically Jewish. Sunny is shocked by this statement, and never appears full of herself, merely surprised that her cousin thinks that way.

The Tacoma Little Theatre’s portrayal “The Last Night of Ballyhoo” is a good production and representation of the story. The humor is great and the characters are interesting and each have an important view on the difficult subject of cultural identity.

The story itself does bring up some interesting questions and views from a time period so complicated and with a culture so torn, the story never feels dull.

Students Forge Original Art Utilizing Their Painting and Writing Talents

The ‘Art to Art’ exhibit brings artists together to create powerful illustrations and literature

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The Art and English departments worked together to create the “Art to Art” event, where English students wrote poems to be interpreted by artists through painting.

The poets were asked to used a “found poetry” style, where they get inspiration from things they would either overhear or read, be it a song, a conversation, a book, even an instruction manual, and using that inspiration as a starting point.

“Some students would look for a theme, and build off of that theme,” said Heather Frankland, an English professor who helped manage the “Art to Art” exhibit, “They examined the original meaning and would often change the meaning when they changed the order of the lyrics, and wrote poems based off of that.”

Frankland had her English 101 class write the poems, rather than the poetry classes she assigns for the project.

David Roholt said, “Once or more a year is our goal, but typically winter quarter is when we manage to get it to happen.” Roholt is an art professor for the college.

Students walked around, admiring the art and poems, painters, writers, discussed each other’s works and what it meant to them.

“Most of the students were very excited to do this,” Frankland said, “Even though it’s something that’s not very typical in a English composition class.”

Anthony Mucciacciaro was a poet that based his poem off songs that were “all indicative to individuals losing scope of reality.” He  then related this idea to soldier’s dealings of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The painting, done by Maxlin Chase, was of a man with a mixed expression, wearing a tan military shirt and a jester’s crown, while holding up a smoking bullet shell.

“The Jester’s Crown is shown as a heavy burden on their head,” Mucciacciaro said, “Similar to PTSD.” He described how often through comedy, people can hide what actual pain they are enduring, “Comedy comes from a darker place,” Mucciacciaro stated.

Mucciacciaro appreciated how the artist portrayed his poem, especially in regards to the man’s expression, with it not being clear whether he is crying or laughing, whether he is in torment or joy.

The painting’s smoking shell led Mucciacciaro to believe it represented the soldier’s dwelling trauma within themselves, “In combat you’ll see shells of rounds smoking still even after they have been expelled from the weapon,” said Mucciacciaro, “Which is true for soldiers in that they’re still living somewhat in that moment and still have that fire in them, even after they go home.”

Van Alstine made a painting for a poem by Serena Ramirez called “The World I Live In,” a poem that Van Alstine said she had difficulty in deciphering what her assigned poet’s message in her poem, so Van Alstine made her own interpretation of the painting, that she believed wasn’t far from the truth.

The poem told the tale of a girl who is frightened by the idea of losing herself in an intimidating world.

Van Alstine illustrated this stress by making a woman who is protruding from a crumbling volcano, with her skin cracked, but her face and hair is unique, Van Alstine had this symbolize her enduring individuality.

Dozens of students came to admire the art presented, Roholt and Frankland consider this gallery a rousing success, “We’re happy to see it all came together so well,” Roholt said.

Jessica Van Alstine is an artist that attended the event, she said she loved the idea of the gallery, and liked working with other people and seeing their art and works.

 

Van Alstine’s painting based off the poem by Serena Ramirez.

The painter, Cyndi Omura, and the poet, Cory Carlson, discuss their collaborated piece, “The Closing of Claudio,” about a man remembering walking in the fields with his love as he battles depression.

The painter, Cyndi Omura, and the poet, Cory Carlson, discuss their collaborated piece, “The Closing of Claudio,” about a man remembering walking in the fields with his love as he battles depression.

The painter Jessica Van Alstine, the poet Nathaniel Devish discuss the art as Denise Yochum listens to the poet Anthony Mucciacciaro explain his work.

Laser Tag Event Fills A Room With Energetic Fun

Students participate in this laser tag event in joy and exuberance

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The Laser Tag event happened at Pierce College, Thursday, February 25, with several students showing up to play. Cover and barriers were set up, with florescent blue lighting in the linked Performance and Fireside Lounge rooms, with dubstep music in the background.
The students were at first given the chance for a free-for-all match, where it’s an “every man for himself” kind of play style.
As the group got larger, with friends and strangers joining in to play together, the students began the team deathmatch rounds, where they were split into red team and yellow team for a
“last team standing” goal in mind. The team matches range from random yellow team versus red team, boys versus girls, and friends versus friends.
John Euler, the student event coordinator, hopes to see this become an annual event for Pierce, “I’m hoping for this to be a stress relief for students, especially after midterms and nearing the end of the quarter.”
Euler and the school coordinated this event with the “Games2U” mobile entertainment company.
More and more students joined as the event went on, soon having close to 14 students at one point. “This was kick ass,” remarked Ben Capuli, a student participating in the laser tag event, “It’s a great stress reliever, especially now.”
The students Amy Rood, agreed they were thoroughly enjoying the event, but wished there would be more space next time. Many students hope the arena will be larger and more complex next year.
The rounds were quick, but many. As they played, the students roared and with laughter and joy, running and sneaking as they played.
“Students seem to have enjoy it. We did our best, and it seemed it’s all working out,” said Euler.

Death of a Salesman Review

A doomed father’s world crumbles as his past intertwines with his reality

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Death of a Salesman is a play about lost dreams, and false ambitions. The story follows Willy Loman (Joseph Grant), who is a 60-year-old, ever failing salesman whose hallucinations and memories leak into his own reality in his final days.

His mind takes over his life more and more ever since his eldest son, Biff Loman (Tim Samland), a 34-year-old slacker, has been living in their home for the past few weeks. Willy had extraordinarily high expectations for Biff, and  his son hasn’t met a single one of them.

Willy’s wife, Linda Loman (Kathi Aleman), and his youngest son, Happy “Hap” Loman (Gabe Hacker), are always trying to keep up a good mood and positive outlook towards the day for the sake of Willy. As Hap puts it, “He’s always happy when he’s looking forward to something!”

Death of a Salesman is truly a story of a man’s desperate pursuit for the “American Dream,” and how he was always blind to the long gone happiness of his family. On the surface, the story shows how Biff is nearing middle-age, and is still unemployed, it is implied that this was of his own doing, which it, for the most part, is true. But as the tale unfolds, Biff’s failings seem to have also been of his own father’s constant pressure and expectations.

There are no “villains” in Death of a Salesman, only people with contradicting hopes and rationales. Willy’s boss, Howard (Eric Cuestas-Thompson), is visually shown to be a cigar chomping executive, but in truth is very reasonable and has valid cause to do what he does.

The younger memory of Biff, who was a football star, has a nerdy helper named Bernard (Charlie Stevens), which may lead people to think that Biff was a bully to Bernard. Bernard also turns out to have grown up to be a successful businessman, which may also lead some to think that Bernard has now become a backstabbing “suit” towards everyone. But in reality Bernard was the young Biff’s friend, and the grown up Bernard is kind to Willy when he meets him.

The audience had a feeling of pity for Willy as he loses his mind scene by scene. But through this loss, the audience sees how this forlorn salesman isn’t a saint by any means.

Willy’s life has always been worsened by his stubborn and short-fused personality, and his constant reluctance to accept the truth.

The play cleverly transitions from Willy’s real life, to his dream-like delusions. Whatever the lighting is for his reality, the lighting for his memories will contrast it. For example, his dimly lit home is changed to bright greens and beiges when his memories first fill his eyes.

“I’ve been racing the junkyard all my life!” said Willy, and Willy’s reality does comes crashing down more than once on him in both his final days and in his past.

He lashes out at others when he hears voices of his past criticising him, and he tries to put on a persona that he is a well respected salesman who is known throughout many cities, when in truth, Willy barely comes home with any money at all.

The main actor’s performances were particularly spectacular. Grant--a 50 year veteran of theatre--plays Willy, and portrays this mentally ill and stressed father incredibly, showing a great spectrum of emotion as this elderly man jumps from joyfulness to confusion to anger to regret.

Aleman, who plays Willy’s wife Linda, gives a dramatic performance of a wife and mother who is trying to deny the truth of her husband’s mental and emotional state, even as Willy yells and loses his temper at her. Though her near constant state of distraught and crying may feel a little wary after a while, it is all understandable given this wife’s situation.

Samland, who plays Biff, blows the roof off as he plays an emotionally pent-up bum who’s outbursts fill the room with tension, anger, and sadness; all at once.

When Biff breaks down to and because of his father, which is a common occurrence, Samland shows how a son who is cracking down under the disappointment of his father looks like, after a lifetime of being his father’s only light.

Hacker, who plays Hap, also gives great performance as the younger brother whose goals in life are never really clear. Ranging from wanting to hook up with “gals” to wanting to keep peace between his family. He’s always coming up with big plans and dreams to get his brother back on his feet, but neither really go through with any of them based on their own shortcomings.

The Lakewood Playhouse’s portrayal of Death of a Salesman is a well produced, engaging story that captivates its audience with a sad tale of a lonely man and his troubled family.

Deadpool Review

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20th Century Fox/Courtesy photo

Deadpool during an iconic highway fight early in the film

Violent, vulgar, and all around hilarious. Deadpool lived up to its anticipation and delivered even further. The jokes hit hard and left everyone with split sides, the action was both gruesome and beautifully shot.

The story takes an interesting spin on the Deadpool character. This time giving him more of a focused, humanized, realistic reason for doing what he does and why he got his powers in the first place.

Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, has a love interest named Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin. Their deranged but meaningful love takes off as their twisted chemistry is apparent in every scene they share. Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson has his character stay true to his famously maniacal roots even before he becomes the “Pool of Death.”

The story jumps between different times in Deadpool’s journey from his search for his mortal foe, Ajax, who is played by Ed Skrein, all the way to his life just before his transformation. Deadpool knows how to pull his nemesis’ strings, by constantly calling Ajax his childhood name, Francis, and simply refusing to die over and over.

Though the story did change many aspects of Deadpool’s origin story, the movie still keeps the plot interesting, always keeping you on edge with the jumps through time. Them giving Deadpool someone to fight for, the plot keeps the audience aware of where they are in the story, never getting confused or lost in where they are in the film.

The jokes are excellently timed and delivered. Every comedic character, especially Deadpool himself, offer hilarious and entertaining performances. Reynolds breaths life into this undying character and truly becomes the Deadpool fans have wanted for so long.

The film never felt like it needed too fancy set pieces and big blockbuster style explosions. Though there are plenty of explosions and big fights, the audience never feels overwhelmed or numb to all the senseless destruction. The movie keeps focus, which is surprising given its main character is a spastical maniac, and its fight scenes are always fun to watch, well choreographed, and creative.

The downsides to Deadpool includes that the film feels like it could have used a few more scenes. It was a strange feeling like there was a certain something missing; one missing element could have been the need for more X-Men, with only a metallic nearly unbreakable giant named Colossus, and a angsty teen named Negasonic Teenage Warhead, were the only X-Men you see in the movie, with some slight exceptions to a few clever cameos and references.

Deadpool actually acknowledges this problem by saying, “Wow I’m surprised I only see you two all the time. It’s almost like the Studio couldn’t afford more X-Men.”

Though Deadpool’s production budget was only $50 million, compared to other Marvel films budgets like the 2008 Iron Man 1’s $140 million or the 2011 X-Men: First Class’ $160 million budget, the budget wasn’t anywhere close to the largest within superhero movie standards.

But, the film makes the best of it, and there’s never a moment when the CG looks cheap, or the sets and stunts feel fake and cut down.

Deadpool has met the anticipations of many fans, and has been considered to disprove cynical critic’s negative expectations, as well as attracted curious movie goers.

This crude action comedy, and its crude violent lead, has won over the laughs and love of many.

4000 Miles Review: A young man learns to accept loss and grow up with the help of his Grandma

4000 Miles is a play about taking responsibility and facing the hard truth that life and loss is never easy

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Fred Metzger/Courtesy Photo

Grandma Vera, played by Kate Russell, and Bec, played by Jazmine Herrington, in 4000 Miles.

The two main characters, Leo (Connor Roman) and Vera (Kate Russell), have a good dynamic. Roman and Russell’s performances gives the audience the idea that Vera was a controlling, feisty grandmother, and Leo was a lazy loner of a grandson.

Considering this was Roman’s first time on stage, he did a good job with room for improvement. Leo’s character does have a certain awkward, indecisive personality to him, but Roman’s performance felt too disconnected at times.

The characters that weren’t the two main leads felt like they needed more substance, either more development with Leo, or worked harder as someone who encouraged Leo to grow.

Bec, played by Jazmine Herrington, is a returning actress who was one of the highlights to the play. Whenever her character needed to display emotion, she transitioned well from someone confused, to someone angry, to someone on the verge of sobbing. Herrington and Roman worked well in displaying a fleeting chemistry that neither of them want. Her expressions were clear enough to where you followed her character’s thought process on how to handle Leo’s absent-minded personality.

Amanda, played by Rachel Derosier, was another minor character who did well. Derosier is another first timer, but managed to portray a drunk joker in the scene she was in. Her jokes were delivered well, and gave a good enough idea of who this brief character is and her effect on Leo’s arc.

Later into the play, closer to the end, Leo opens up and tells his grandma about how his friend died. It was an interesting moment when the character is the most vulnerable, and doesn’t know how to handle this emotion properly. So he jests and stammers, trying to tell this mournful event without getting too serious, staying true to his character’s theme.

But this emotion the actor himself is trying to display doesn’t hit as hard as it feels it should have. The pauses worked in adding emotion to the scene, but it yet again doesn’t make you feel like this supposedly uncaring, relaxed slacker is working through the troublesome feelings and memories.

The lighting was clever, with the room being completely dark with only two dimly lit lamp shades slightly lighting the actors. It added onto the atmosphere of the scene, and was a definitive moment that both gave answers to questions that have been raised throughout the play, as well as display the moment where Leo begins to take life seriously.

The Story didn’t really illustrate Leo’s arc and growth as well as hoped. Each scene was just one after the other with no real flow to them until closer to the end. It’s still an entertaining and simple play with some good lessons in accepting maturity and reality as hard as it may be to bare.

4000 Miles’ cast is for the most part good and do well to give the audience a decent idea of who they are and what they want, and though there were a few minor shortcomings with some of the performances, the play was still worth the watch.

4000 Miles

“4000 Miles” is an upcoming play that follows the story of a young man and his spirited grandmother

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Fred Metzger/Courtesy Photo

Photos of the actor playing Leo (left,) and the actress playing his grandmother Vera (right,) during rehearsal for the play.

Stories are usually seen as being more about the journey, rather than the destination, but 4000 Miles isn’t about the journey, it is about whom those making the such a trek really are. 4000 Miles, more than anything, is about the raw humanity of the characters.

After taking a long and hard cross-country bike trip from Seattle to New York, 21-year-old Leo arrives at his 91-year-old grandmother’s house. “Sounds real simple, and in so many ways it is,” said Fred Metzger, a Communications, Theatre, and Film Instructor for the Arts and Humanities Division.

Leo arrives at 3 in the morning and almost immediately begins to complain about the room buzzer, with it still having his grandmother’s deceased husband’s name still on the room’s plaque.

“Whenever you watch a show,” Metzger said, “You wonder why were you sucked in. Was it the action? Was it the setting? Or was it the character that pulled you in?”

Metzger described the play not being completely focused on Leo’s travels to New York, and more of when he arrives. “It’s about understanding who they are, and understanding their relationships to each other.” said Metzger.

“So much of what they look like and who they appear to be comes before the lines.” Metzger gave an example of when Leo comes into his grandmother’s apartment one night with his friend Amanda.

Based on how they look and act in that scene, the audience can already tell that the two have been partying and are drunk. “It’s physically so obvious between the two of them before the scene even unfolds,” Metzger said.

“The character is the seat in the amusement ride of the story, and if we can’t identify with the seat we sit in, it doesn’t work.” Metzger said last year he went through 20 scripts before coming across 4000 Miles, saying the script popped out. “It wasn’t a nice script, it was an amazing script.”

Leo is a foul mouthed loner who constantly tries to maintain futile friendships, and Vera is a no-nonsense, feisty grandmother who is still as outgoing as a youth.

“There’s a little bit of us in all of these characters,” said Metzger, “You should be thrown into kinship to grandma, and you should love and hate Leo, when we’re done.”

4000 Miles is set to premiere February 12, 13, 19, and 20 at 7:00pm, at studio 320 in the Cascade Building.

‘Deadpool’ close to busting his way onto the big screen

Here are some reasons why people are excited for this infamous “Mercenary with a Mouth”

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Marvel’s Deadpool breaks every superhero rule there is. He kills because he loves it, he does whatever he wants whenever he wants, and most of all, he breaks every boundary between the comic book and the real world.

Deadpool, also known as Wade Wilson, has regenerative powers. He got them from the X-Man superhero, Wolverine. Though he is seemingly ageless, and can regenerate any wounds he receives, he also has skin cancer.

An anti-hero is a superhero who is lacking in conventional heroic attributes. These attributes usually consist of being selfless, kind, and always on the side of justice. Deadpool is a selfish, destructive, fun loving madman.

The cancer was the original reason why he underwent the experiment that gave him his powers, so now his skin is literally falling off from within his suit.

Deadpool’s strength and “wits” are of his own mentality, however. He’s skilled in every way of “killing bad guys,” which he very much loves to do. Deadpool is somewhat insane--no, very insane.

Whether this was from the experiment or he was already a little off, and being on the verge of death then getting immortality becoming the last straw to set this vulgar merc off on his gleeful insanity.

“Breaking the 4th wall” is when a character in a fictional story acknowledges the real world. A character looking at the camera, speaking to the audience, or mentioning anything about their fan base and trends that formed about that character outside of the story.

Deadpool manages to break through the 4th wall so hard he built a 5th wall just because he wasn’t satisfied enough with the destruction.

He consistently comments about his situation, and will either narrate to himself in varied voices, complain about a troupe--meaning the predictable events that happen in a specific genre of story-- in comic books and how much he wants to break the troupe.

Or he’ll blame the writers for putting him somewhere he doesn’t want to be in.

One example of Deadpool’s wall breaking skills would be when he is working with another comic book anti-hero, the Punisher: when they are standing in front of a bad guy and Deadpool kills him in front of the Punisher. “Why’d you do that?” The Punisher asks.

“Because you were gonna do it, and this is my book!” Deadpool responds. The Punisher is confused, “Your what--?” and Deadpool drops it by saying, “Nothing.”

Another instance of Deadpool’s antics is when someone asks him if he remembers where someone went, he responds, “I remember, the Alamo, the Bee Gees, a whole bunch of quotes from the Golden Girls, and that 4CHAN thread where the devil makes potty.”

Deadpool is not within the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” he is part of the X-Men universe. The difference is that Marvel/Disney own the rights to the Avengers such as Iron Man, Daredevil, Spiderman, and Captain America.

Whereas 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the X-men, such as Wolverine, Magneto, and even the word “mutant.”

Deadpool was depicted on the big screen before, in X-men Origins: Wolverine (2009), portrayed by Ryan Reynolds.

The movie had mixed feelings, mainly leaning towards the negative, especially their treatment of Deadpool’s wacky character.

20th Century Fox/Marvel then decided to redeemed the highly appreciated character, they casted Reynolds again as Deadpool, but scrapped his origins from the 2009 Wolverine movie, and are giving him a chance to breath life into the character again.

The upcoming Deadpool movie is telling the full origin of Deadpool, as well as what he does after he gets his powers- a typical superhero movie, but if the movie follows the way Deadpool stories usually go, it’ll be chaotic, hilarious, and an all around ride of a lifetime.

Gaming Year in Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

2015 was a special year for video games. There were 3 games in particular that were among the strongest and most well received games of 2015.

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First is the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Witcher’s developers, CD Projekt RED,had developed the 2 lesser known entries into the Witcher series, but it was the Witcher 3 that gained the most fame and praise- and rightfully so.Wild Hunt follows the last adventure of Geralt of Rivia, a mercenary monsterhunter who comes from a group of top notch beast slayers called “Witchers.” Geralt is known to be the best of the best throughout the country, his senses are sharp, his tracking is to the slightest detail, and his combat prowess can topple beasts any other mortal manwould tremble at the sight of.

The Witcher truly showed how refined the Role Playing Game formulae has become, with crafting mechanics that can make Geralt unstoppable, and a story that can challenge the player with moral decisions that leaves them questioning their own morality while the world around Geralt becomes ever more darker and violent. Geralt is searching for his squire, Cirilla, a young women who has untapped and unimaginable power, who is constantly being chased by a pack of relentless warlords, known as the Wild Hunt.

The player can travel a massive living world that ranges from war-torn battlefields to lush green valleys surrounded by snow-capped mountains. There were so many factors as to why the Witcher 3 played the heartstrings of a captivated audience like a fiddle. The player can become filled with a sense of wonder, fear, impeccable love, deep hatred, and a consistent immersion that is rarely disrupted.

The player meets characters that they will either love or hate, and all for the right reasons. One character is a drunk military general by the title the Bloody Baron, he employs Geralt with finding his missing wife and daughter, and as Geralt searches for them and pieces the puzzle more and more together: the worried father begins to seem far more unpredictable and dangerous quest progresses.

Geralt soon learns that in one of the Bloody Baron’s drunken fits of rage, he accidentally pushed his once pregnant wife down the stairs. They had to quickly dispose of the fetus, and now this would-be child has become a cursed spirit, created from the apathy and disgust of the ones who quickly disposed it. Geralt then preforms a ritual with the Baron, the child’s father, to give it a name and except this dark spirit into his family.

The child then becomes a guardian spirit to defend the Baron’s family and house for all eternity. The Baron chooses to change his ways, and just wants his family back in his arms so that he could protect and love them for the rest of his days.This is but one of the early quests in the game that ranges in different emotions as the player progresses. There are many quests like this or far heavier, which is one of the many reasons that make this game one of the best games of the year.

‘The Revenant’ is a cold, haunting tale of vengeance

An intense performance by Dicaprio may grant him the Oscar that has eluded him for so long

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The Revenant follows the story of Hugh Glass (Dicaprio), who is traveling with a band of frontiersmen that are hunted down in the cold and damp wilderness of 1823 Midwestern America.

This group are pushed to their mental and physical limits, before they voluntarily separate after a wild grizzly mauls Glass.
Glass is rendered helpless, and many consider him already dead, with only a few still clinging to hope for Glass as much as he’s clinging to his own life- this is until one of the men tries to kill Glass, and almost succeeds.
Buried alive and half dead, Glass crawls out of the frozen earth, fixated on killing his downloadwould-be murderer.
This movie is not for the faint of heart, featuring graphic, but believable, violence, and unsparing suffering, and other graphic themes. All this is appropriately used and shown, with no excessive gore, merely realistic gore.
Dicaprio’s performance yet again raises the bar, as he perfectly illustrates what it means to be hungry, what it means to be frozen, and what it means to desire vengeance.

Dicaprio is not the only one who performs exceptionally: Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, Inception) and Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina) give air tight performances that give their character’s unique motivations, morals, and personal tribulations that breath more and more life into the world audiences are pulled into.

This film does have a few criticisms, one of which would be its pacing. The movie is slow, which benefits it in some aspects, but may wear some audiences down if they are expecting a back-to-back thrill ride of action.
With long wilderness shots and some longer scenes of Dicaprio sleeping near a fire, the movie certainly achieves in tone and anticipation, even if it may leave viewers waiting a few too many seconds than they would like to.

Another minor gripe would be when Glass hallucinates or dreams. It won’t completely tear someone away from the movie, but could make them tilt their head in confusion, giving off Gladiator (2000) vibes, but less in a symbolic “death is at our doors” feeling, and more of a “they are gone, but they want me to keep fighting” feeling.
One use of his daydreaming, however, is used very well, where he hugs a lost loved one, where it then cuts to him holding a tree, and he slides to the ground in sorrow.

151223_HIST_Revenant.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2To call this film’s tone ferocious is putting it lightly. The setting is cold and dirty, and shows how cold and miserable people could become back in those times.
Dicaprio did win an award for “Best Actor in a Drama” at the 2016 Golden Globes. Who made note of the trials and tribulations his crew underwent to bring this movie to life, also making special mentioning of the Native Americans who were involved in the making of the film, and how greatful he was for their help.

The Revenant is an exceptional movie with great performances, and aside from a few pacing issues that may very from person to person, this movie and its lead actor, have earned any awards that come their way.

Bloodborne

Will you parish or survive??

Bloodborne

The second game that was among the 2015 greatest games, was FromSoftware’s Bloodborne. A game with probably one of the thickest atmospheres a video game has to offer, Bloodborne is a dark and ominous game with an eerie sense of tension, exploration, and horror.

It is difficult to describe where exactly Bloodborne “takes place,” with the game shifting the player character in and out of reality and other worlds known as “Nightmares.” The Nightmare where the player begins their journey is in the City of Yharnam, a gothic London-esk dystopia with towering cathedrals and spires around every corner.

The player’s character is a Hunter, a skilled and well-equipped warrior with an arsenal that is specially tailored for slaying beasts.And beasts are more abundant than horse carriages in Yharnam. Once the proud citizens of Yharnam, these Twisted, teethed, growling monsters will tear apart anything in sight. The only thing that stands in their way are what is left of the Hunters, which is the player themselves. The night is long, and the secrets of Yharnam are deep. The Healing Church areconsidered once the saints of Yharnam, having complete control over every aspect of the city, gripping it with their ultimate remedy to all ailments and wounds: Blood.

 

As the Hunter explore the city and beyond, they discover the true evils that lie within Yharnam’s very walls. The game soon takes a Lovecraftian turn towards Eldritch Truth and incomprehensible horrors that have driven everyone but the Hunter insane.The gameplay is unforgiving if the player is not careful in their travels. FromSoftware is famous for making brutal, and sometimes considered “unfair” games such as King’s Field,Demon’s Souls, and most notably, Dark Souls. These games, including Bloodborne, have followed a specific formula on cautious movement, tactical and critical thinking, and deeper stories that are hidden below the surface of the tale presented.

Bloodborne is its own game, however. And is the most accessible Souls game to date. Though it is still very difficult, and if the player doesn’t plan out what moves they will make to survive the encounter at hand, they may parish quickly. Despite its difficulty, Bloodborne is a well thought out, at times unnerving game that is very enjoyable to anyone willing to try, though it is still not for the faint of heart.

Arcadia

A play put on by our Drama Department

Arcadia

Arcadia is a story that can be best described as a mirroring of time. One side of the mirror is Coverly household of Sidley Park, set in 1809, following a tutor always teetering on the side of the romantic, and student learning and discovering the secrets of life and the philosophy.

Arcadia PosterOn the other side of the mirror, is the household in the modern day. Focusing on a group of scholars ranging from the possible mathematical influence on time and fate, to the assumptions of character’s fate based on what little evidence they gathered. The present day scholars are trying to piece together the story of Lord Byron, an unseen resident of Sidley Park, and the death of Ezra Chater (Ben Stahl). They do this through the notes and letters of the 19th century guests of the household, as well as the theories and documents from Thomasina Coverly (Kait Mahoney.)

Though the story can become hard to follow, at times requiring your full attention to understand what the current seen was even about, the actor’s performances were quite impressive. Mahoney accurately depicted a curious and intelligent teenager far beyond her time, with an intriguing mix of young naïveté and constant philosophical discovery and mathematical understanding.

Mason Quinn, playing Septimus Hodge, Thomasina’s poetic tutor, did well in depicting the tutor as a flirtatious scholar, fluent with the ladies but trying to protect Thomasina’s innocence in her youth until the later half. Deya Ozburn playing one of the modern scholars named Hannah Jarvis, gave the audience a clear idea on this impatient historian more focused on the “Hermit of Sidley Park” than the romantic advances of her colleagues.

All the actors, both major and minor, managed to clearly emote, enunciate, and breathe life into their roles throughout the play. Where some audience members may be lost in what is happening in the story, they will have the pleasure of being lost in the characters.

The jokes were spot on and would offer the appropriate amount of humor to the scene and characters. An example of which being Thomasina’s curiosity in the concept of “carnal embrace,” consistently asking her tutor, Hodge, what it the phrase truly means. Until Hodge must explain clearly and concisely that carnal embrace is the act of sexual congress. Leaving the girl to shutter at the horrid idea. Thomasina’s mother then enters the room and asks Thomasina what she as learned, to which the girl tells her mother that her tutor gave her a clear understanding of what carnal embrace is. Leaving the mother disgusted with Hodge, and the audience splitting their sides over the misunderstanding.

Comedic moments like these, along with the actor’s great performances, help push the story forward when the tale itself becomes muddled in theory and ambiguity. Arcadia is worth the watch, the set is clever, the actors are impressive, the story is unique, and the shifts in time are easy to follow and flow together nicely as the journey ensues.Arcadia is playing at the Lakewood Playhouse, with showings on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 2:00pm, and a “Pay What You Can” on January 14th and January 21st at 8:00pm. The play will have showings until January 31st.

Immersion:Video Games and Other Worlds

Immersion%3AVideo+Games+and+Other+Worlds

Movies and video games have become the primary mediums for immersion in the past 2 decades. From 1993’s Jurassic Park and the 1996 Nintendo 64, to 2015’s The Martian and Fallout 4. Audiences and players have been presented with sources of entertainment that have the ability to enthrall them into fictional worlds and digital characters.

What is ‘immersion’? Immersion is that sensation one feels when they feel like they are in another world, and not sitting on a couch. It occurs whenever someone sheds a tear with the characters on screen or feel a certain sense of wonder at the landscape before them.

Immersion is the feeling of tension as Luke Skywalker flies through the trenches of the Death Star, narrowly escaping lasers and shagged obstacles in his way. It happens when someone first steps out of the woods in Legend of Zelda and they look upon the stretching valleys of Hyrule, wanting to explore and discover this brand new world before them.

Some have felt that immersion may be harmful to America’s society. Although any prolonged exposure to any entertaining activity could be unbeneficial to anyone of any age, enjoying a story isn’t a bad thing.

Those Nintendo 64 kids are now grown up, and though every person can be affected in different ways, the majority of those people are living normal lives. Some even benefited from video games, being able to have better problem solving skills, and a more expansive imagination.

The escapism of a story is something anyone should feel every now and then. If someone wants to be engrossed in a world, they should within moderation. Immersion can take many forms, and can offer people an experience they wouldn’t feel anywhere else.

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