Near death exhibit showcases avoidable fatalities

This past weekend, a friend and I visited the new exhibit taking place near the Savemart Center called The 99 Experience. Through research beforehand, I found out that it was marketed as an extremely realistic walkthrough of all the major, preventable causes of teen deaths in America.

1-1024x768Jeremy Brown | The Feather Online Archive

The name “The 99” comes from the statistic that 99 teenagers die everyday from things that can be avoided.

The name “The 99” comes from the statistic that 99 teenagers die everyday from things that can be avoided. Of those 99, 31 died from automobile accidents, 16 were killed by their own peers in gang related violence, and 12 committed suicide. The other 40 die from drug overdose, drug influenced choices and other poor choices.

I had heard many mixed reviews of the event from friends who had gone and been disappointed, but I was excited to go and check it out for myself. With the tagline “The ultimate near death experience”, I didn’t go into it with much hope for a relaxing evening.

The 99, like most horror attractions, does not advertise much of its secrets, so in all reality I did not know what I was getting myself into. Not really a fan of horror attractions or haunted houses, I thought that this event would be a happy medium with all the gore of real life paired with a strong moral lesson.

Upon arrival, the many people in line were amused by a man on a microphone entertaining the people in the waiting crowd with games and a dance off competition. This set the crowd in a rather jovial mood, which was quite misleading.

The mood quickly shifted from anticipation to apprehension as we were ushered into the enormous, circus-esque tent, in which the event took place. We were greeted with morbid before and after pictures of drug users and an ominous video foreshadowing the disturbing events that we were about to witness.

We then entered the first of approximately eight rooms in the experience, where we were introduced to our guide through the exhibit: Death himself. Although in reality the hooded figure was only a performer in a mask, partnered with a insidiously sinister voice-over, the effect was quite chilling.

The next couple of rooms were the most unsettling. Gory scenes of gang violence, drug abuse, and a distracted driving collision all gave me a bad feeling in my stomach. My heightened sense of fear was intensified by the terrifying, realistic actions of the performers. Whether it was being a raving drug addict in withdrawals, or a screaming distracted driver, coming to grips with the bloody ramifications of her poor decision, all of the actors performed their tragedy in a very convincing fashion.

Then the experience took an unexpected turn. We were ushered, by Mr. Death, into a fiery room with screaming, shackled performers. Then people dressed as demons seemingly jumped out of nowhere, and a figure, presumably Satan himself, gave a chilling monologue, claiming victory over our damned souls. Suddenly a light leaped forward in the darkness, and we were beckoned by a bellowing voice to come towards it.

In the next room we were shown scenes from the film The Passion of the Christ, where Jesus is whipped and beaten by Roman soldiers. Then a performer portraying Christ was dragged into the room by a man dressed like a Roman soldier. He was told to pick up a cross and was whipped repeatedly.

To my astonishment, the supposed “reality horror show” had turned out to be a type of ministry, hoping to give an unexpected reality check to visitors who had no idea that their night was going to be religious experience.

The conclusion to the experience consisted of watching an allegorical video in which God’s love for humankind, and the subsequent sacrifice of his beloved Son. The video shows a train master sacrificing his son to save a train of people, without those people knowing what just happened.

Then everyone walked into a room filled with volunteers from local churches who sat and prayed with each individual and offered free “get to know Jesus” packets to everyone. The volunteers attempted to talk to everyone about what knowing Christ is all about, and how they can get connected to a local church.

The experience as a whole left me with a very odd feeling. This was a type of ministry that I had never before encountered and I was caught a little off guard by its brusque nature. That being said I would greatly encourage my friends and peers to attend this experience if they can, as it was a great chance to see the importance of making good choices and why we need to accept Christ as our Savior.

The exhibit will run in Fresno daily from 7-11 p.m., with the last showing on Nov. 2. Taking in account waiting in line, the entire exhibit takes around an hour and thirty minutes to go through. The next stop on the tour after Fresno will be Orlando, Florida in early 2015. Tickets at the door are $10, but half-off coupons are available on the website.

For more information on The 99, click here to view their Facebook page.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @NickFontes1.

For more reviews, read the Oct. 28 review, Horror fest terrifies, leaves lasting impression.

By |2014-10-31T00:00:00-07:00October 31st, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

War book sparks feelings of patriotism in FC junior

UnknownFC file photo

This book is a tribute to those who fought the tremendous test of survival and sacrifice. 

Before school ended, last year, I enrolled in AP Language and Composition. One of the requirements for the course was to read a couple of books and write a summary essay on them afterward.

While searching around for an interesting novel, one of the books I chose was Black Hawk Down.

Built on the bond of brotherhood and the strength of a family, the U.S. military is the strongest family in the world. Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden emphasizes this theme through the memories they have made together.

I had seen the movie multiple times and was not fond of the idea of reading a book in which I already knew what would happen. I eventually decided to go along with the notion of reading the book, although I already knew the plot. Soon I figured out that the book gave more detail about the soldiers and their relationships on and off the battlefield than the movie offered.

The book gave me the same intense heart pounding feeling as the movie did. Every time I opened the book feelings of patriotism lined inside of me.  The story took place in Somalia, during their Civil War.

The book follows a 100-man squad of marines fighting their way through the enemy infested city. Only supposed to take an hour, the squad’s mission to abduct two lieutenants of a Somali warlord was thwarted due to an enemy ambush.

Along the way to Black Hawk helicopters went down. The group of soldiers had to go and secure the crash sites for survivors while battling off the attackers.

The entire contingent of Somali fighters in the city of Mogadishu tailed the small squad. They were against the clock to retrieve the grounded crew and to make sure that there was no crew members lost in their battalion.

The fighting lasted throughout the night with gunfire being exchanged constantly. Rescue was on the way, but they would get ambushed and lead in the opposite way from the crash sites.

The level of detail presented in the emotions of the soldiers was unbelievable. I felt as if I was standing right in the room while a loved one received the news of their deceased family members.

This book is a tribute to those who fought the tremendous test of survival and sacrifice. The sacrifices these soldiers made for each other were very selfless and humbling.

The stories these soldiers give is a lesson everyone can use in their life. When things begin to get difficult fight till the end.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @GarchaKevin8.

For more opinions, read the Oct. 14 article, COLUMN: Ebola virus continues to infect.

By |2014-10-17T00:00:00-07:00October 17th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Featured App: Duolingo

Duolingo currently offers up to nine language courses for English speakers including Spanish, French and German. Duolingo

Duolingo currently offers up to nine language courses for English speakers including Spanish, French and German.

Language App revolutionizes world of learning

Occasionally The Feather highlights one app that is relevant to campus life. This week Duolingo, a free multilanguage learning guide will be featured.

Doulingo

Duolingo was created by Guatemalan entrepreneur Luis Von Ahn in 2012. Since then the app and online site has generated more than 25 million users and won App of the Year from both Apple and Google. In addition, the company received Best Education Startup at the 2014 Crunchies, a series of technological based awards.

Duolingo currently offers up to nine language courses for English speakers including Spanish, French and German. An additional course on American English is available in 15 foreign languages. It is compatible for both iOS and android systems and contains a colorful and user friendly format.

The Duolingo learning process involves a series of interactive games that enables a person to progressively move to higher and higher levels within the program. It even has the ability to record one?s voice. This is designed to aid in proper vocalization methods.

Once users master the basics they begin to advance to more difficult levels of expertise. Users have the ability to review their lessons and retake sessions at any time. There is also an option for inviting friends, making the world of Duolingo a social sphere as well. Check the Duolingo app on Facebook as well.

Junior Emily Ladd missed a year of Spanish due to schedule issues. As a Spanish II student Ladd decided to refresh her knowledge through Duolingo. She says that the site makes learning a new language an enjoyable experience.

“It?s fun, but challenging and really useful,” Ladd said. “It’s more like a game than just a quiz. It also encourages you to take a refresher course after awhile and can figure out the words you?re struggling with. It teaches you the basics with words and phrases you would use in daily language too. You learn grammar and all the basics you need, yet still a fun way.”

For more information on Duolingo, check their Twitter page: @Duolingo and/or read about it on the TNW blog.

For more features, read the Oct. 10 article, Woodshop allows students to explore artistic ability, talent.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @skylerklee.

By |2014-10-13T00:00:00-07:00October 13th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Features, Media, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Local Mexican food offers authentic flavor

With such a wide variety of authentic Mexican food to pick from in the Fresno area, it can sometimes be difficult to make a dinner choice. Let me assist in your next partaking of Central American Cuisine by suggesting Sal’s Mexican Restaurants.

Sals2

Walking through the doors, you get the feeling as if you have just walked into a within a small pueblo. Kindly greeted by hostess upon arrival, I was taken directly to my table in the Fresno restaurant.

Within five minutes of being seated, there was a bowl of tortilla chips and fresh Pico de gallo. A lot of Mexican food restaurants will bring you some sort of homemade salsa, but I believe that Sal’s choice of pico de gallo really clears the pallet and freshens the taste buds, preparing them to receive full satisfaction from the meal soon to follow.

Having such a large selection of entrees to choose from, I decided to treat myself to a chili verde burrito. After hearing good things about this particular dish from my fellow classmate Jason Swain, ’15, I simply had to try it.

The time between ordering my food and receiving it was about 18 minutes. This would normally be a little lengthy of a wait, but considering I was dining on a Friday night and there was a considerably large amount of people, it was a reasonable amount of time.

When biting into the burrito, I felt as if I had just taken a bite of Mexico itself. The amount of authenticity that was put into that burrito was overwhelming and it was simply fantastic.

Inside the large flour tortilla was a combination of slow roasted pork drowned in a pool savory chile verde sauce, beans, rice and cheese. This burrito was top notch.

Personally I am a cheese person so if there were one thing I would add to the mix, it would be more cheese. However the normal person would probably find the amount of cheese used to be adequate.

Having a large fan base throughout the valley, it is not hard to find a fellow admirer of Sal’s. Sophomore Philip Christopher, shared his thoughts on he restaurant.

“I love going to Sal’s with my family,” Christopher said. “We like to go there when we are feeling Mexican food. I usually order either carne asada tacos or chicken enchiladas, it depends on the mood I’m in.”

Sal’s has managed to create itself quite the reputation for delicious catering. If you are ever in need of cuisine services for an upcoming party or event, I would recommend Sal’s any day.

There is a Sal’s Mexican Restaurant in Fresno, Selma and Madera.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @namoodnhoj. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

By |2014-10-10T00:00:00-07:00October 10th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Movie adaptation filled with suspense, action

The Maze Runner, directed by Wes Ball, is an action packed thrill ride that provides a straightforward, more simple look at the original book. The movie combines drama, suspense, action, a little bit of comedy and sci-fi to make a movie that will satisfy all viewing groups. The one problem I experienced was how the events in the movie skip around quite a bit compared to the book.

The-Maze-Runner-Teaser-Poster-2

I have read the first and second book, The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials. Anyone who has read the first book will realize that the events in the movie are out of order. If you are not expecting the movie to be completely accurate to the book, then your experience will be phenomenal. On the flip side, if you are expecting it to be exactly like the book, then you are in for quite an awkward time at the movies.

If you are sensitive of spoilers, the next four paragraphs are spoiler heavy. Please skip to the eighth paragraph if you are not ready to hear the plot of the movie.

The Maze Runner is a movie showcasing the life of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) in a gigantic glade surrounded by the world’s biggest maze. Everybody in The Glade has had their memories wiped, leaving them only with their name. With a seemingly impossible puzzle, the “Gladers” face many problems.

The maze moves every night, making it harder and harder to memorize. Although these problems seem quite prevalent, the biggest problem they face are the Greavers.

The Greavers only come out at night, making them the reason that the maze runners go back to The Glade daily. Greavers are giant spider like monsters, with slimy bug like bodies and mechanical robotic arms, that sting their prey, infecting them with their poison. When someone is stung, they go through something called “The Changing”, which makes them lose their mind, but also receive memories of their past life, and visions as well.

Thomas goes through the changing, and receives an injection that saves him, and the new found memories of his past life. He and the only female Glader, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) are found out to be associated with the group of scientists called WCKD (or WICKED) who put the gladers in the place that they currently stood, as a test to study brain activity. The Gladers were also used by the scientist to develop a cure for the new sun flare caused disease, The Flare (further described in the second book, The Scorch Trials).

Even though the movie is not completely book accurate, it does cover most of the book very well, just in a jumbled order. However, I personally understand where the director was coming from, because of the small amount of time that was received to make a long book into a two hour movie. If the audience would think of it in this way, it would be easier to see why the events are in a very different order than the book.

The movie ends with Thomas and the Gladers escaping the maze, and completing the trials they were put on. Even though there is a second trial ahead of them, there is a great joy of escaping the almost impossible task.

Overall, The movie, The Maze Runner is well worth watching if you aren’t expecting it to be exactly like the book (as most movies are not). I rate this movie four stars, for it is well put together for such a lack of time. The movie also has a spectacular soundtrack! The amount of action and special effects is phenomenal, and the drama and suspense are quite similar to that of the book, making it one of my personal favorite movies of 2014.

The Maze Runner is rated P-13 for intense elements, thematic events and some sci-fi violence.

Follow the Feather via Twitter: @thefeather
This writer can be reached via twitter: @jareds_the_name

For more reviews, read the May 13 article, Lewis interprets mythology, changes point of view

By |2014-09-25T00:00:00-07:00September 25th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Eldery Fresno resident uses talents to benefit community (VIDEO)

For the last two and a half years, Charles Owens and his wife Patricia have come to play Farmers Market nearly every Friday, with violin in hand.Emily Ladd

For the last two and a half years, Charles Owens and his wife Patricia have come to play Farmers Market nearly every Friday, with violin in hand.

Clovis Fiddler Charles Owen’s shares story

Amongst the carefree chatter and the distant rumble of cars a lone violin can be heard. The instrument’s melody escapes into the warm summer air and a few bystanders stop to listen.

A black violin case with a bright red interior sits open inches away from the violin?s owner, a few abstract dollars scattered about inside.

The eldery gentlemen smiles warmly as a little girl drops a shiny quarter into the case.

Most often its in Old Town Clovis. Charles plays traditional hymns and manages to generate a considerable profit in donations by the nights end. The Owens then donate this sum to areas of need within both the San Joaquin Valley and Charles home state, Oklahoma.

Charles says that the charity or need that they choose to fulfill each week depends upon God?s lead.

“Generally speaking the Lord will tell us by Monday who we are to send it to,” Owens said. “We send it to the Salvation Army. We send it to the Fresno Rescue mission. We send it to Valley Children’s Hospital. Sometimes we just give it to people on the street who seem to have an immediate need. We don’t know until after we leave here where the Lord wants us to send it.”

Owens was originally born on a farm in Oklahoma. At the age of 8 he learned to play the violin and has continued to practice throughout the last 82 years. After graduation from high school Owens spent some time working on his family?s farm.

During WWII Owens abandoned his farm work for a uniform. He served for three years under the US navy. At the end of those years Owens returned to the states and decided to settle in the Fresno area, where he met his wife. After WWII he learned the art of plastering and assisted several churches in the creation of their facilities.

Owens says that despite, being raised in the church, he officially became a Christian in 1946 after attending a meeting at Blackstone and Clinton 67 years ago.

“I officially accepted Jesus in 1948,” Owens said. “When I first came to Fresno a man held a tent meeting off of Blackstone and Herndon. One night I went down there and gave my heart and dedicated my life to God”

Currently Owens is 90 years old and has been a member of People’s Church for the last 40 years. His wife was a charter member of the early church.

For the last 46 years up to present day, Owens has worked as an insurance agent. He also plays his violin occasionally for the People’s Church Sunday school.

Owens says that the couple first became interested in Farmers Market because they noticed a lack of Christian influence at the event.
&%picture2placement%&
“We decided with all these people that we would like to play before them and bring the story of Jesus to them,” Owens said. “The place has been very courteous with us and very helpful. They allowed us to come and play. God has been blessing us and those in the Fresno area. We love to do this”.

The Owens continue to come to the Farmers market every Friday. This is often made difficult due to Fresno?s summer temperatures. However, Owens says that his ability to persevere through the heat comes from the Lord.

“The good Lord has endowed me with the ability to take the heat,” Owens said. “I can stand it however hot it gets. There are so many wonderful people who will come by and give. It?s a pleasure and a joy to give to those who have needs.”

The Owens family bestows all honor and profit to God.
Charles says that the Lord values service regardless of the amount of talent one possesses.

“To God be the glory we just come out here,” Owens said. “I know I am not a great fiddler but here?s the thing about it, when I fiddle the tunes are great, the songs are great, because Jesus came into my heart. You don?t have to be great. God will take what you have and use it to the purpose he has intended.”

For more features, read the Sept. 23 article, Guest speaker tells story, delivers powerful message.

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronlilne. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @skylerklee.

Annual ClovisFest inspires community

ClovisFest is currently one of the largest annual attractions of the area with over 230 craft and business booths, about 12 dozen food venders, live entertainment, a carnival and hot air balloons.Emily Ladd

ClovisFest is currently one of the largest annual attractions of the area with over 230 craft and business booths, about 12 dozen food venders, live entertainment, a carnival and hot air balloons.

ClovisFest celebrates 40th anniversary

In 1974 a small craft fair was held in a parking lot in Old Town Clovis. Throughout, the last forty years the roadside attraction has grown to encompass a total of eight blocks

. ClovisFest is currently one of the largest annual attractions of the area with over 230 craft and business booths, about 12 dozen food venders, live entertainment, a carnival and hot air balloons. This year Clovis Fest was held Sat.-Sun. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at its traditional location on Pollasky Ave, Sept. 20-21.

Long time ClovisFest attendee Ron Sundquist founded The Clovis Museum in 1987 and served as the foundations first director and curator for 16 years. He is currently a photographer for the Chamber of Commerce and the Clovis Round up Newspaper. During ClovisFest, Sundquist often doubles as Sheriff Clomar, a legendary lawman from Clovis?s lesser known history.

Sundquist says that ClovisFest acts as a prelude to the fall season and is among the numerous events offered within the community

“The ClovisFest is the first introduction into the fall season,” Sundquist said with camera in hand. “It is one of the last big events of fall until the Christmas Parade in December. Other organizations have antique fairs in Clovis during the interim between what the chamber has. Clovis is an active community it has many activities for you.”

Various booths lined the streets, some with vibrant colored banners and advertisements. One of these booths was that of Arlene Cromer. Cookie Lee is a second year returning booth that advertises “fine fashionable jewelry at affordable prices”. Cromer says that she enjoys the large crowds of people and hopes to return in future years.

“My favorite thing about this year is that there are so many people and so many venders,” Cromer said. “Today we have been fairly successful. Hopefully, God willing, we will be able to return next year.”

In addition to crafts several charities adorned Polasky Avenue including Pink Heals, a foundation for Cancer awareness. A large pink fire truck signed by those effected was parked in front of the booth alongside a similarly decorated police car.

The Society of Cruelty Prevention(SPCA) also made an appearance. They offered pet adoption for a variety of dogs and cats. The Grey hound adoption center was present as well with a number of their dogs.

Spectator Mark (unidentified last name) lives in Springfield Missouri. When he visits relatives in the area he often attends ClovisFest. Mark says that he partakes in ClovisFest because of the unique products sold there.
&%picture2placement%&
“I come just for all of the different things that they sell here that they don?t sell back from where I?m from,” Mark said. “I like the friendliness of the people and the open air feel about it.”

A number of street performers also contributed to the festivities drawing large crowds. Among them was a magician, a woman dressed as Disney’s Ariel and a women dressed as Disney’s Elsa who performed “Let it go” acapella.

Courtney Lowitz attended Clovis Fest with her booth Leah B Boutique this year. The 22 year old grew up in the Clovis area and recalls attending the event from a young age. She says that the best thing about the ClovisFest is the liveliness and unity it brings to the surrounding community.

“I like the diversity of the venders including the food and selling venders,” Lowitz said. “The balloons and the little train that comes around makes it?s a great experience. I think it just allows people to be free and take pride in community involvement.”

Aside from the variety of booths, attractions and food offered at ClovisFest, there is also a Hot Air Balloon Fun Fly. The balloonist arrive as early as 5:45 a.m. and are scheduled to fly from 6:15 a.m.-7:15 a.m.. The Fun Fly has 8-10 participants and occurs both Sat.-Sun., Sept. 20-21.

For more information on ClovisFest, Sept 22 article, Flying high, Clovisfest excites crowd (SLIDESHOW) or last years article ClovisFest hosts 39th annual event, flies hot air balloons.

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronlilne. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @skylerklee.

Lewis interprets mythology, changes point of view

Most of my readers will remember that fateful day in Freshman English when they began a survey of Greek mythology.

tillwehavefacesamazon.com
This was a strange time, full of unpronounceable names and surprise quizzes on various mythological Greek deities and their almost identical Roman counterparts. It proved profoundly useful later in literature, as many authors are inanely fond of mythological references.

Many students are frustrated by this side of English. They think things like “why does it matter which of Zeus’s children were birthed out of his head” and “who cares about the eagle eating Prometheus’s liver?”

But this stuff is included in literature for a reason. When woven successfully into a literary work, these myths can take on a whole new significance and add beauty and human depth to a story. The best example of this, in my opinion, is C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, which takes a new angle on the story of Cupid and Psyche.

Now, before anyone makes any assumptions, this is not the C. S. Lewis of the Chronicles of Narnia series. There are no talking animals. This is not a children’s book. It is probably Lewis’s most literary work of fiction, to the extent that I feel a little elitist just by reviewing it. Meh-heh. Peasants.

That said, I actually enjoyed the book, which is rare for me with books that are considered literary.

Right, I need to talk about the plot. The author assumes that its readers know the story of Cupid and Psyche, which is typical for an English prof with a name like Clive Staples. But since my name isn’t Clive, I’ll give you a quick summary.

The story starts stereotypically enough with a king and his three daughters, one (the youngest) beautiful and the other two ugly. Now it needs to be understood that when stories refer to Psyche, the youngest sister, as beautiful, they mean supermodel status (and in a time before makeup, no less). I say this because some of the locals start worshipping Psyche, which seems silly, since that is a fantastic way to incur the jealous wrath of Aphrodite, the not-so-loving goddess of love.

So naturally, Aphrodite is enraged. She sends her son Eros (readers will know him as Cupid) to make Psyche fall in love with only men of low character. And here I need to clarify again. In this case, Cupid is not a naked baby with wings. The dude may or may not have wings, but he is a stud by all mythological accounts. Anyway, he ends up falling in love with Psyche instead of cursing her. Yay.

He takes her off to his castle, where they are married, with one ground rule. She is not allowed to look at his face. Apparently his godly countenance would terrify her or something.

The ugly sisters get jealous. They can’t even find an eligible prince who will marry them, and Psyche gets to hang out in a god’s house? They convince Psyche that Cupid is actually a monster, which is why she cannot see his face. They give her a lamp to look at his face while he sleeps. When she does this, a drop of wax falls on his face and he sees her and kicks her out. Then Aphrodite sees her opening and gets revenge by making Psyche work at ridiculously difficult tasks. Long story short, Psyche somehow overcomes this and becomes a goddess and rejoins Cupid and they all live happily ever after.

Lewis is not content with just reviewing this material. He throws a couple of fresh twists on the story. First, his protagonist is one of the ugly sisters. Next, he moves the setting to a more barbarous kingdom near Greece. Strangest of all, when his Psyche-character is taken to Cupid’s house, only she can see it. To the rest of the world, it appears as if Psyche is living alone on a hillside.

I am not going over that whole plot again. I will note that I found Lewis’s version far more entertaining than the original as well as more meaningful. For one thing, I think that it was the first book I have ever read in which the main character is plainly described as ugly. I found that both refreshing and amusing. I will also add that Lewis feels no need to match the storybook ending of the original story.

Since the plot follows the ugly sister, it seems pretty different from the Greek version at times, but it all clicks into place in the conclusion. In fact, Lewis uses his resolution to great effect, unveiling layers of meaning that had run under the whole book undetected to that point. The end portion of the novel is essentially a symbolic epiphany. It gets crazy.

Honestly, my only criticism of this work is the fact that readers need to understand the mythological background, which I just spent most of my review addressing. You’re welcome.

This work is the most meaningful piece of fiction that I have read this year. It combines themes of growing up, mythology, fate, loneliness, and jealousy in a way that ultimately shows some hope for redemption. It outshines the original story in its genuine portrayal of human value despite our flaws.

I would recommend this book to mythology or literature fans, or any people who want to read a deep novel that is still fairly accessible and interesting (assuming that they can handle the 300 page length).

Till We Have Faces can be purchased on Amazon for about $10, or at your local bookstore.

The author can be reached via Twitter: @m00re_is_better. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the April 23 article ‘Book offers parable-like aspect, strange characters.’

By |2014-05-13T00:00:00-07:00May 13th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Book offers parable-like aspect, strange characters

Let’s face it, insanity makes for a great story, and the centerpiece of many sanity-twisting stories is the fact that you cannot prove that you are sane. Neither can I. Our minds could have constructed the illusion of sanity, and everything could be a lie.

That has always been a fun concept to consider, and few stories I have read present it better than Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker.

Dekker’s story is constructed around two protagonists: Christy Snow, a seventeen year-old orphan with serious identity issues, and Austin Hartt, her genius boyfriend who is also an orphan.

To begin the story, Christy loses a silver locket which holds great sentimental value for her. While retracing her steps in a frantic search for her keepsake, she enters an abandoned hospital storage room which Austin uses as his private refuge for writing.

She falls through a trapdoor into a sort of basement, where she is trapped. She attempts to call Austin, but her message is cut off as her phone battery dies. In her panicky efforts to escape, she manages to kick through a panel, revealing the boiler room of a medical facility. Unfortunately for her, this particular facility is an insane asylum. Since there are no visitors allowed, the staff assumes that she is an escaped inmate and holds her to check if she is telling the truth.

Austin is busy auditing a graduate philosophy class at Harvard. Already worried about his severe migraine headaches, caused by a possible tumor on his brain, he gets a voicemail from a terrified Christy, who is cut off before she can say where she is. After checking everywhere else, he looks in his makeshift office, finding her locket and dead phone near an open trapdoor.

When he reaches the boiler room, he finds the asylum admissions director threatening an inmate with torture. He, too, is suspected of being an runaway inmate. He is knocked unconscious by the director to keep him from telling others of what he saw.

In the meantime, the staff has decided that Christy is actually an inmate named Alice Ringwald. During her attempt at escape, she finds Austin unconscious and wakes him up. They try to break out of the ward, but find themselves in the office of its administrator, Kern Lawson. They are separated for treatment, and Austin is informed that his name is Scott and he is suffering from delusions of grandeur and acute paranoia. From here the story follows their efforts to stay sane in an increasingly nightmarish situation, as Lawson’s experimental treatments twist their perceptions of reality.

I will readily admit that at this point, the story sounds like there is little positive material to be found thematically. However, Dekker manages to turn his plot into a parable of sorts dealing with identity and perceptions.

Dekker’s characters are strange, which had the odd effect of making them seem more human. They are aware of the fact that they are unusual, which adds to their insecurity, making them more relatable (and their growing doubt in their sanity more believable).

One criticism that I would offer is the implausibility of the setup stage of the book. The whole trapdoor thing seemed a bit far-fetched to me. To a degree, the strangeness of the introduction adds to the nightmarish vibe of the scene, but still, collapsing floorboards would have been more plausible and just as workable for the story.

The effect of the book as a whole, though, counteracts any small flaws. Eyes Wide Open was a story that made me sit back and think after I finished. Dekker, already well known for his intensely suspenseful novels, follows his specialty by providing a somewhat disturbing but gripping tale with an ultimately redemptive theme. The story moves at a breakneck pace, but without any of the action-thriller cliches that such a pace often implies. I would recommend this book to fans of psychological suspense novels or anyone else who feels like doubting their sanity for a little while.

Eyes Wide Open is 277 pages long, and can be found in paperback at bookstores locally or on Amazon for about $10. It is also available as a four part ebook, starting with Identity, which is free.

The author can be reached via Twitter: @m00re_is_better. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the April 7 article, ‘Winter Soldier’ proves best of Marvel movies.

By |2014-04-23T00:00:00-07:00April 23rd, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Music department prepares for end of the year concerts

This year the FC music department, as a whole, has hosted and participated in a series of performances including ASCI, the musical Bye Bye Birdie and several Christmas productions.Tynin Fries

This year the FC music department, as a whole, has hosted and participated in a series of performances including ASCI, the musical Bye Bye Birdie and several Christmas productions.

Music Department to take part in end of the year festivities

This year the FC music department, as a whole, has hosted and participated in a series of performances including ASCI, the musical Bye Bye Birdie and several Christmas productions.

As the end of the school year quickly approaches, some assume that the music department will slow its pace. On the contrary, the department plans on partaking in more events and showcasing the performer?s talents, dedication and passion for what they do.

Music Director Michael Ogdon recognizes that although the end of the year is approaching the music department will continue to work hard and participate in several more performances. He hopes that his students will continue to grow in their musical as well as spiritual aptitude as the year comes to a close.

“There?s still a lot to work for,” Ogdon said. “The music department is one of the only departments that is truly year-round. I fully expect we will each continue to improve our skills and musicianship as we concentrate on finishing well. We want to emulate the life of Jesus who was described as “growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.'”

In this last semester the department will be subject to interesting opportunities which were previously unavailable to them. One of these opportunities is “The Star Wars Wedding.”

An FC graduate formulated the creative idea of having a flash mob at his wedding. He has since called upon the help of the FC band and some Fresno State band members to make this unique surprise possible.

Besides this, FC has been invited along with five Christian southern California schools to the Disney Fine Arts Workshop, April 4. Here the FC choir along with those of the other five schools will have the opportunity to record at Disney backstage.

Percussion and Jazz band will also perform and be judged at Biola University, April 4. The music department participates in the Biola Band Festival every other year.

Freshmen Mathew Garza, ’17, a member of percussion and Jazz band, loves music and has loved it since he was very young. He believes that the pace is currently quickening and is excited about the upcoming performances. Garza enjoys learning something new every day and treasures every moment he can.
&%picture2placement%&
“I most definitely like band,” Garza said. “I have loved music since I was very little. The best thing about coming to band everyday is improving. I know that the harder we practice the better we will get.”

In addition to all of this, the department has planned a few local endeavors as well. The Kings Men Quartet sang for First Presbyterian Church, a local church in the downtown area, Mar.30. The Adoration Ensemble is scheduled to do the same in several weeks. Due to the abundance of events scheduled for the next few weeks the students will need to utilize class time to prepare.

The instrumentalist section of the department will perform an end of the year concert for the FC community, May 5. A week after the choral department will give their end of the year performance.

According to sophomore choir student Ali Cowan the group has come to be like a family unit. Although she admits they can often get distracted, she believes that in the end they come together and perform well. She believes that Ogdon is a major source of encouragement and a driving force for them.

“Sometimes we get a little off track and need to work on our focus a little more,” Cowan said. “I?d say that it?s kind of like a big family. We can definitely all laugh together. Mr. Ogdon helps us a lot because he knows when to make jokes and when to be serious.”

Sophomore quartet member Joshua Carter enjoys the class?s relaxed atmosphere and admires the way he and his fellow singers accomplish their work.

“I enjoy practicing for the quartet,” Carter said.”The general feel of the class is relaxing. However when we need to get things done we always work hard.”

For more features, read the March 28 article, New location adds spark to annual event (VIDEO).

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronlilne. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @skylerklee.

By |2014-03-31T00:00:00-07:00March 31st, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Features, Uncategorized|0 Comments

‘Lucky Stiff’ offers superb acting, impressive set changes

Most people will go to extreme lengths when promised large sums of money. Sometimes, however, the cost of wealth is too much for an individual to pay. Harry Witherspoon, a poor shoe salesman in the play Lucky Stiff, learns this very same lesson when his uncle dies and leaves him an inheritance. His uncle promises him six million dollars if he fulfills the dead man?s final request: to travel with his corpse all over Monte Carlo.

The young man is ready for riches, and soon finds himself in predicament after predicament as he tries to convince everyone he meets that his uncle is actually alive. Eventually, the grisly details of the man?s murder begin to unfold, and it soon becomes apparent that there is more going on behind the scenes than a simple inheritance.

Clovis High School’s presentation of this play was downright entertaining. The stage was full of fast moving set pieces, beautiful costumes, and talented actors that really brought the story to life. Daniel LaJune (Harry Witherspoon) did an exceptional job as the confused young nephew, and Hannah Huyek (Rita La Porta) brought powerful vocals and hilarious expressions to the stage. The main cast was accompanied by an excellent ensemble, of which former FC student Natalie Griffin was a member.

Each member of the drama team performed at their peaks to transform the Mercedes Edwards Theatre into Monte Carlo; it really worked. One could feel the passion from their performance as they developed the story to its ultimate farcical conclusion. The entire thing brought steady chuckles to all in the audience, and more than a few contented smiles.

My only disappointment of the play is in regards to sound. There was no live orchestra, and the house speakers did not bring a very high quality sound. As a result, some of the dialogue as well as singing became garbled and inaudible. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

One thing that I found especially enjoyable was the amount of complex scene changes. The actors had to rearrange the same pieces of card shaped walls into different configuration for each scene. This clearly took a lot of practice to create. I never once saw any mistakes in the movement, and the play proceeded through each scene seamlessly.

The stage movement came in to play in an extraordinary fashion during the final scenes of the play in which the actors moved around in a confused comedy. These last parts were, in my opinion, the best scenes of the play. They were smart, funny, and gave a satisfying finish to a great performance.

The students worked hard and performed well, and I enjoyed the experience immensely. They created an evening of comical fun which audiences of all ages could enjoy, and in the realm of performing art that is a rare thing.

Opening weekend was March 14th-15th and the production continued and closed on March 20th-22nd.

For more information on Clovis Unified plays and other events visit their website: cusd.com.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @JohnathanNyberg. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the March 24 article, ‘Newsies’ excites with dance numbers, set changes.

By |2014-03-26T00:00:00-07:00March 26th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Sci-Fi book adds perspectives, comical storyline

Sometimes I think that I am having a bad day. I find that nothing puts a stubbed toe and a pile of homework in perspective like a comparison to poor Arthur Dent, who has his house and his planet both bulldozed on the same day, before being ejected into space, among other bizarre and unpleasant experiences. Arthur, the protagonist of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is launched into the hilarious series of utterly illogical events which make up Douglas Adams’ masterful science fiction work.

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams manages to make fun of almost everything, venturing into philosophy and science while still including social criticism. However, all of this is presented in such an amusing matter that the whole book gives the impression of being one very long joke.

Arthur Dent, a unremarkable Englishman, wakes up one day to find bulldozers outside his house, prepared to tear it down to make room for a highway bypass. However, just as Arthur’s argument with the demolition workers begins to make some headway, his eccentric friend, Ford Prefect, drags him off to a local bar and tells him that the Earth is scheduled to be bulldozed by brutish aliens to make way for a “hyperspatial express route.”

This is where the plot begins to get strange. Apparently Ford Prefect is actually an alien from Alpha Centauri who is conducting research for the prestigious Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The book quotes heavily and hilariously from this all-encompassing fictional reference work. Using Ford Prefect’s intergalactic hitchhiking knowledge, the pair manage to escape the planet before it is destroyed by catching a ride with the aliens responsible for the bulldozing, the repulsive Vogons.

The two protagonists are soon picked up by the President of Galaxy, who is on the run after stealing the ultimate spaceship. From here the plot degenerates wildly, conveying important ideas such as the meaning of life, the thought process of a falling sperm whale, the extreme intelligence of dolphins, among others.

This book is wildly amusing, yet it still raises some worthwhile ideas for consideration. Adams manages to mock the conventions of science fiction thoroughly while still crafting an interesting, if absurd, story. Despite the fact that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is occasionally crude and mockingly nihilistic, it provokes both thought and laughter with remarkable dexterity.

For example, one of the narrator’s examples of the primitive condition of life on Earth was the obsession of Earthlings with little green pieces of paper, which provides a useful reminder of the silliness of materialism in the long run.The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy remains the funniest book I have ever read. From the beginning to the end, it is one huge mass of throbbing irony.

If you have never considered the extreme usefulness of a towel while hitchhiking or the possibility that humans might be the third most intelligent species on Earth, I suggest that you read this book immediately to widen your horizons. It is the first in a series of five books, followed by the equally ingenious Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Only about 200 pages long, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is available at local bookstores or on Amazon for about twelve dollars.

For more reviews, read the March 3 article, ‘Son of God’ lacks originality, saved by Christ story.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @m00re_is_better. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

By |2014-03-26T00:00:00-07:00March 26th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

New York restaurant offers authentic Italian experience

While Fresno is very influenced by the Hispanic culture, many other cultures are prominent in New York City; one of the most prominent being Italian, hosted primarily in Little Italy.

imageJennifer Smith | The Feather Online Archive
Out of the over one thousand Italian restaurants available to eat at in the city, we had the pleasure of dining at La Nonna. This little hole-in-the-wall is conveniently located right in the center of Little Italy on the corner of Mulberry and Grand.

The journalism team kind of stumbled upon La Nonna by accident. The original plan was to make a reservation at one of our advisor Greg Stobbe’s routine spots, Il Palazzo, but we were forced to compromise due to unavailability. We looked directly across the street and decided to make the reservation at La Nonna.

I was very impressed to discover that after arriving at the restaurant 30 minutes earlier than when our reservation was made, they had already prepared our tables.

Upon entering, we were greeted by the host. We were guided through the main dining area into a back room, whose purpose is for private parties.

Like most other sit-down restaurants, we were given complimentary bread prior to the meal. A specialty menu was given to us containing the choice between seven different meals. We were given this special menu due to the size of our group, but it was not the normal menu, which contains many more selections.

Out of the options, I chose the Penne Alla Vodka. This dish contained penne pasta covered in a vodka tomato cream sauce and then topped off with chickpeas.

The food was delivered to our table within 20 minutes. Although that may be a long wait for food in a normal dining situation, but considering the size of our party, it was understandable.

When I took the first bite, I was surprised by how creamy the sauce was. Due to the tomato base, I was expecting a more chunky texture. The meal was delicious, so I believe that the creaminess worked in favor of this particular dish.

If I had to change anything about this dish, I would add meat to the sauce. I like my protein so adding some Italian sausage would have been a nice touch. I also would have taken out the chickpeas. Personally, chickpeas rub me the wrong way, but if you enjoy them, then there would be no issue.

Many of The Feather staffers were impressed by the service provided. Junior, Sara Peterson was very pleased by the service and the plates. She also dined with a different meal: the manicotti, which she also enjoyed.

The prices of the food is on the higher end, one meal costing around $18. If you are looking for a sit-down meal in New York, you better expect to pay at least that price. Considering the portions served, the price is very reasonable.

If you ever find yourself hungry after a long day of shopping in the nearby Soho district, I would definitely recommend making the three block walk to La Nonna for dinner.

This author can be reached via Twitter: @NhojNanood. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the March 3 article, ‘Son of God’ lacks originality, saved by Christ story.

By |2014-03-19T00:00:00-07:00March 19th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Feather in The City, Day 0

The Feather staff essentially first started their journey in the mid-to-late afternoon of March 16 when they made the approximately three and a half hour drive to the San Francisco International Airport.Tynin Fries

The Feather staff essentially first started their journey in the mid-to-late afternoon of March 16 when they made the approximately three and a half hour drive to the San Francisco International Airport.

Journalism Students Travel to New York

On March 16th 22 members of The Feather staff set out on the annul New York trip. Journalism advisor Greg Stobbe and staff grandparent Angie Fries are to chaperon the students as they visit New York attractions, Broadway productions and attend an assortment of journalism conferences. However, before this was to take place the students first needed to arrives in New York.

The Feather staff essentially first started their journey in the mid-to-late afternoon of March 16 when they made the approximately three and a half hour drive to the San Francisco International Airport. Students were responsible to find their own mode of transportation for this first leg of the journey and many made arrangements for car pulling.

Freshman writer Matthew Garza was driven to San Francisco by his mother and says that the ride was tolerable and looks forward to visiting the East Coast.

“My mom took me to San Fran,” Garza said. “It was a pretty smooth ride. I’m looking forward to seeing the landmarks. My mom and sister visited before and they say they had the time of their lives.”

At long last the travelers arrived at the JetBlue’s Terminal 1 ticket counter in the San Francisco International Airport at around 5 p.m. Here, the students were all checked in and took a seat as they waited for flight 916 which was scheduled to depart at 8:47p.m.

This was sophomore writer Emily Ladd’s first time on an plane or out of the West Coast time zone. Although originally concerned about the outcome of her experience, she found that it was an positive one.

“I’ve never been on a plane ride before or been in the air before,” Ladd said. “I was generally nervous but one I got on the plane I just felt excitement. Right now I’m looking down at the San Francisco coast and all of the city lights and it’s absolutely amazing. I love it.”

After an smooth take off The Feather staff readied themselves for a five to six hour flight. Many utilized this time to sleep as the time for this function would be limited the next day.

At roughly 5:10 a.m. (New York time) flight 916 landed at the JFK Airport. After gathering their luggage and wits, The Feather staff boarded a shuttle bus and arrived at Hotel Edison. They quickly dropped off their luggage at about 7:30 a.m. and prepared for the day.

Multimedia Anchor Cally Fries, ’15, says that the flight and general travel scheme was similar to the her previous visit. However, it was far less pleasant for her then the first time.

“My stuff got puked on this time so I wasn’t very happy,” Fries said. “The flight was basically the same and it was good that we didn’t have a lay over this time. I still got my stuff puked on so it wasn’t necessarily pleasant.”

For more news, read the March 11 article, BREAKING: NSPA honors finalists, Feather absent from list.

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronlilne. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @skylerklee.

By |2014-03-16T00:00:00-07:00March 16th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, News, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Freshmen find opportunities to bond, initiate friendships

FreshmanFloatOlivia Quebe | The Feather Online Archive

Freshman year is a time for change; new students have come and other students have gone. In the first year of high school students start to grow up or at least try. They make new friends and lose others. It is almost like a year of wins and losses. Most classes do not bond during their first year of high school, but the class of, ’17, has.

Freshman year is a time for change; new students have come and other students have gone. In the first year of high school students start to grow up or at least try. They make new friends and lose others. It is almost like a year of wins and losses. Most classes do not bond during their first year of high school, but the class of, ’17, has.

Natalia Torres, ’17, thinks the class has bonded very well, and believes the relationships have grown and the students spend a lot more time together. She enjoyed being involved in homecoming and Night of the Stars (NOTS). In the upcoming years Torres is hoping to see better homecoming floats and better NOTS experiences for everyone. Even though junior high is more challenging Torres loves high school.

“Our class has bonded by the extra activities we have had to do for school,” Torres said. “High school is more challenging than junior high. I think our class should work on involving everyone and not being in cliques.”

New student to FC, Daniel Ayres, ’17, thinks that the class has bonded very well since the first day of school. He believes many of the students have grown together in Christ and in friendships.

“In high school you are on a higher maturity level and you get more respect from other people,” Ayres said. “You get to be an upper classmen but not completely so at the same time you’re still a lower class men.”

Looking at the sophomore class, the freshmen see how they bond and have achieved new goals together. Over the year the students have figured out how to act and react to things that they would not have faced in junior high. By this time next year the class hopes to have a better bond then we have now.

Taylor Cowger, ’17, says he likes to be around his friends and build better friendships with them. He hopes to make more friendships and become a better class by senior year. When asked about what the class could do to bond he talked about field trips.

“I would like to see the class bond in a field trip,” Cowger said. “We could go to the zoo or anywhere where the class would have good opportunities to get to know each other.”

Teachers who educate the freshman class and parents have seen the freshman class bond very well. Susan Ainley, drama teacher and parent to Brooklyn Ainley, thinks the freshman class is filled with real friends and great workers.

“I’ve seen other freshman classes sort of wander around all year, not really participating,” Ainley said. “This class had decided to participate. I love seeing how they connect with the upperclassmen. During NOTS they all jumped in and made a movie, got dates and had a blast. I think we will see this class do great things in the years to come and to always be a great group of friends.”

For more features, read the Feb. 27, WSL Talent Show awards top three winners article.

Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.This writer can be reached via Twitter: @sbbelmont98.

‘Son of God’ lacks originality, saved by Christ story

The story of Jesus Christ can never be ignored. Some call it the greatest story of all time. Others look to the tale as the reason for their worship. Yet others still regard it as nothing more than a mystified legend. All personal opinions aside, it remains an irrefutable fact that no other course of events in human history provokes more interest and criticism than the birth, death and alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Producers and married couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett brought the Jesus story to life in their new motion picture Son of God The movie plays out the life of Christ from the beginning of his ministry up until his death and resurrection. The movie features famous miracles such as Jesus walking on water, raising Lazarus from the dead and healing the lame man.

I was skeptical when I first heard about the film. Christian movies are notorious for their bad acting, lack of visual appeal and dryness of plot, even for those ambitious enough to assault the big screen. For the most part, the Son of God fell into this unfortunate category of spiritual yet mediocre films.

I did not dislike the entire film. There were good elements such as its honest adherence to biblical scriptures, and dramatic presentation of Christ?s character (Diogo Morgado). However, due to sub-par acting and a choppy storyline, the entire experience felt like watching the classic Christian film Ben-Hur. It just was not good enough for a modern American audience.

Yet as a Christian, I still felt a weird infatuation as the story unfolded. I loved how Jesus in this film felt less like a distant, godly prophet and more like a personal and charismatic leader. His character was impassioned, vibrant and emotional, and I could not help but like him. Even though I felt that Morgado slightly overdid his role, I appreciated the films attempt to create a more ?contemporary? Jesus.

Another high point of the film was its dramatic depiction of Christ?s death. It contained all the traditional tortures of the Messiah including the flogging, crown of thorns and the final crucifixion of his bloodied body upon the cross. This passionate performance brought some in the audience to tears and everyone to a state of thoughtful reverence.

Overall, however, the film was just too sensational. From the Pharisees who felt more like whiny fools than powerful leaders, to the inconsistent attitudes of the twelve disciples, the acting affectively condemned this film to be nothing more than a money-making box office flick.

The Son of God offers very little surprise, unremarkable special effects and almost no originality. In my opinion, Passion of the Christ (2004) offers a more realistic and more compelling retelling of the story than Son of God.

In conclusion, I wish to leave my readers with one important thing: despite the film?s subpar production, the Son of God still effectively delivers the essence of Christ?s sacrifice and it does so in a way that is generally acceptable to all Christians.

If you are looking for a fantastic film with awesome special effects and superb acting, this you will not find. But if, as a Christian, you are looking for a way in which you might remember the story of he who is the foundation of your beliefs, then this movie is certainly for you.

Son of God runs at 138 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense and bloody depiction of The Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence.

This author can be reached via Twitter: @JohnathanNyberg. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Feb. 3 article, ‘Steelheart’ leaves impression with originality.

By |2014-03-03T00:00:00-07:00March 3rd, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

‘Steelheart’ leaves impression with originality

“If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?” This classic icebreaker question, one of the few that actually prompts enthusiastic and interesting discussion, has been answered too many times (usually with flying). Bestselling fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, best known for finishing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, puts an interesting twist on this quandary in his new fantasy work, Steelheart. The question: “If you had a supernatural power, would it corrupt you?”

The story is set in what was once the United States. A cataclysmic event gave a few ordinary people incredible powers. They were called Epics, and it quickly became clear that they were no longer human. With their powers came an urge to control and dominate, with no respect for human life. The stronger Epics toppled governments and took territory as their own, enslaving the people to advance their personal empires.

One particularly ruthless Epic, known as Steelheart, controls the entire Chicago area, now called Newcago. Steelheart is incredibly strong and essentially invincible, can shoot energy at enemies, and can turn nonliving objects into steel. To show his control over the city, he turns all of Chicago into steel.

David Charleston, the protagonist, watched Steelheart kill his father when he was a child. But David also saw something else, something dangerous: The Epic was wounded by David’s father.

Steelheart, like every Epic, has a weakness. David becomes obsessed with finding and exploiting it in order to avenge his father, extensively cataloguing the weaknesses and powers of Newcago’s Epics and honing his skills with the rifle.

This is where the actual plot starts. Rumors abound of a group called the Reckoners. This underground organization of regular humans seeks to rebel against the Epics’ control. David, in an attempt to join the Reckoners, helps them kill an Epic, hoping they will allow him to join.

After some arguing, the Reckoners take in David as part of their team. With David’s knowledge of Steelheart and their expertise, they plan to kill Steelheart.

Their plan is to create a fake Epic to challenge Steelheart’s dominance of Newcago. But first, they force him into action by striking his power plant and one of his Epic lieutenants. This sets David and the team of Reckoners on a dangerous course, one that must end in a fight to the death with the invincible Steelheart.

I will admit, I was initially a bit skeptical of Sanderson’s attempt to set a story in our world, since he is primarily known for epic fantasy, such as his

By |2014-02-03T00:00:00-07:00February 3rd, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Drama performance requires dedication from students

Bye-Bye Birdie was originally inspired by Michael Stewarts' novel, Lets go steady. The production hit Broadway in 1960. Emily Ladd

Bye-Bye Birdie was originally inspired by Michael Stewarts’ novel, Lets go steady. The production hit Broadway in 1960.

Drama class to perform Bye-Bye Birdie

This year the FC drama department has embarked upon a whole new genre, musicals. Drama students are scheduled to perform Bye-Bye Birdie at Ground Zero, March 6-8. As the date of the event draws ever near, the cast prepares to give a stunning performance.

Bye-Bye Birdie was originally inspired by Michael Stewarts‘ novel, Lets go steady. The production hit Broadway in 1960. It is the story of a fictional American pop- star, Conrad Birdie, who was drafted into the war.

Birdie?s manager and song writer, Alfred Peterson, arranged one last publicity stunt in order to promote Birdie?s last song. He was to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show and give one girl from his fan club a farewell kiss.

Drama and choir director Susan Ainley has considered doing a musical for many years. She says the number of drama students this year made it possible. She choose Bye-Bye Birdie for its lovable plot and lively music.

“I have been thinking about this for a long time,” Ainley said. “When I saw I had thirty students signed up for drama this year, I knew we would do it. I love this musical, it?s fun and exciting. It has great characters that the audience will love. The music from the time period is great too”.

Alexis Kalugin, sophomore drama student, will be singing in the ensemble of this musical. She says that preparation will involve determination and hard work. However she believes that the school function will be a success and is excited to dance on stage.

“I think a challenge right now is having the energy to really get into it,” Kalugin said. “I will be in the ensemble. I?m most excited to dance in the Put on a Happy Face song.”

Due to the early deadline, and increased difficulty of the production, drama students have frequent practices and rehearsals in order to prepare themselves, including lunch, after school and weekend meetings. A choreographer has also been hired to insure that the major musical routines go smoothly.
&%picture2placement%&
Senor drama student Kyle Hudecek will be playing the role of Conrad Birdie. He looks forward to the singing and dancing numbers, although he admits that learning dance steps and full songs will take more time and dedication than that of a regular play.

“My favorite part is probably the musical numbers,” Hudecek said. “They are just lots of fun to sing, dance and act in. One of the challenges is that in addition to words and dialogue we also have to learn to sing and dance. It will take a whole lot of extra time.”

Music director Michael Ogdon and the jazz band have partnered with the drama department for the production. The jazz band will play the musical numbers and add to the authenticity of the program. The Adoration Ensemble and the Kingsmen Quartet will also be featured. They will aid in increasing the volume of the cast and harmonizing.

Ainley says she anticipates a spectacular performance from her drama students and is eager to see the Senior students try something new in their last semester of drama class. She encourages the Fc community to join the audience.

“I have complete confidence that this amazing group will put on the best show ever,” Ainley said. “I can tell that my lead characters all practiced over break, and their solos sound wonderful already. Everyone is trying to give their best, and we are having so much fun learning to dance! I am excited to watch the senior drama students perform a musical in their last semester of high school and I hope everyone comes to the performance to support the drama class.”

Tickets for this event will be available for pre-sale in February at the price of $10 and at the production for $15.

For more features, read the Jan. 10 article, Teacher continues family’s multi-generation mission work.

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronlilne. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @skylerklee.

Good Company excites with passionate acting, plot

“Men stood by their fences and looked at the ruined corn, drying fast now, only a little green showing through the film of dust. The men were silent and they did not move often. And the women came out of the houses to stand beside their men— to feel if this time the men would break. The women studied the men?s faces secretly, for the corn could go, as long as something else remained.”

The above quotation is an excerpt from what is arguably John Steinbeck’s greatest achievement: The Grapes of Wrath. The play version of the novel, adapted by Frank Galati, began with a slightly altered version of this passage. After several actors recited small pieces from the first chapter, they commenced to act out this legendary tale of human depravity.

Sitting in 2nd Space Theatre with a full stomach and a wallet full of cash, I could not help but recognize the eighty year time difference between the character?s world and mine. Nevertheless, Good Company Players brought this world to the audience from the very beginning. The action began with the return of Tom Joad, who just got out of prison, to his home in Oklahoma. He is eager to see his family again and is thankful to be out early on parole.

When he finally arrives at his father?s property, however, he finds a much different world than the one he left. The land has become barren from long drought and unwise farming techniques. The Great Depression has hit Oklahoma with fury. His house is demolished and there is absolutely nothing left of the Joads? farm. Tom later finds out that his family was evicted by the bank when they could no longer afford payments.

After reuniting with his family, Tom joins the Joads on a long journey to the only place where there seems to be any work: California. The rest of the play depicts the heart-wrenching tale of how the ?Okie? families travelled by thousands across the country in hopes of a better life, only to be misused by the selfish and wealthy farmers of the West.

I read the book several months ago and, like many who read the novel, I was deeply moved by Steinbeck?s telling of such a dark reality. While at the play, I was pleasantly thrilled to see that all the key scenes that made the novel great were a part of the production. The play followed very closely to the storyline of the book.

Being able to hear the voices of each character really helped the story “come alive” for me. Often, words are more powerful when spoken as opposed to simply written, and though I do not consider Good Company?s production to surpass Steinbeck?s work (such a thing is ridiculous to even consider), I did find that it gave me a deeper understanding of the story.

I found the acting to be quite proficient. All the actors played their part, or in some case multiple parts, with the distinguished skill one expects from Good Company. I especially enjoyed seeing the portrayal of Jim Casy (Noel Adams) and ?Ma? (Amelia Ryan). Ma was a very strong and stabilizing presence throughout the production, and Casy provided the flare of rebellion alluded to by the novel?s title.

I also cannot forget to commend Marc Gonzalez, who played the lead role as Tom Joad. He performed with great passion and sincerity, and his “I?ll Be There” speech was fantastic.

The only problem I found with the play was that at times it was hard to follow the storyline. I think that anyone who comes to the play without having read the book first might experience some trouble understanding the events that take place. Even I struggled a little bit to understand exactly what was happening. However, being an adaptation this is expected.

Another disclaimer to those who are unfamiliar with this story is that The Grapes of Wrath is not a light-hearted story. The scenes feature very serious and very dark depictions of historical events. People die. Women, men and children die. They are hungry, destitute and desperate. Insanity, violence and tragedy allow for very little comic relief, and there are moments in the play that rendered my eyes indefensible to unwanted tears.

But, for Steinbeck, art existed not as a tool to give pleasure to the upper-class intelligentsia, but as a weapon against social evils. He wrote this fantastic story in order to open up the eyes of the masses to the oppression that can occur under capitalism. He wrote it to wrench the hearts of the ignorant, and uphold the plight of the migrant farmer.

I have never known hunger. I have never seen the face of poverty stare back at me from the mirror, nor have I heard the scream of need resonate in my belly. This play reminded me of how lucky I am to live in the time that I live in, in the country that I live in and among the people with whom I live. It also reminded me that unjust realities are only changed when people rise up against evil.

So, instead of killing a few hours this weekend surfing the web, come and experience this awesome work of art. This play is worth the time, especially if you have read the book or seen the movie.

Showings continue until February 23rd every Thursday through Friday at 2nd Space Theatre.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @JohnathanNyberg. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more information regarding tickets and showtimes visit: Good Company Player’s website or call 559.266.0660

For more reviews, read the Jan. 9 article, Local restaurant offers flavorful dishes, low prices.

By |2014-01-13T00:00:00-07:00January 13th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Local restaurant offers flavorful dishes, low prices

If you’re tired of the processed “meat” offered by the everyday chain fast food restaurants, do not compromise quality for time when you can have the best of both worlds at Grill Masters BBQ.

Located just south of the Shaw and Clovis intersection, this place is perfect for satisfying the worked up appetite of a Clovis Rodeo visiter.

While visiting a nearby store, we were drawn in by the not-so-common aroma of a barbecue joint. We could tell when we entered the door that this family-owned business was simple and well maintained.

We both ordered the combination plate for $9 and drinks for $2. We were very pleased when our food arrived in only seven minutes from the time we ordered.

The plate consisted of a choice of a almond wood grilled tri-trip, slow-cooked ribs, or a roast chicken. Then, they offer the option to pick any two sides, including house-made chilli beans, potato salad, seasoned steak fries, hand-tossed side salad and rice pilaf. We both chose to indulge in the tri-tip and beans but had differing opinions on the second side, after much deliberation we ended up choosing salad and fries.

Upon receiving our meals, we noticed that the tri-tip was sliced very thinly and soaking in it’s own glorious excretions. The meat is cooked to perfection over almond wood, but pulled off during the state of medium rare.

Then, it is sliced, put in a pan and covered in a jus. As soon as the tri-tp meats your taste buds, you faintly hear the singing of an Angelic choir in the distance. The meat has a very smokey, yet juicy flavor and really draws out the different spices.

One of our sides, the chili beans, were hand made with a plethora of unrevealed spices. These spices give the beans a unique flavor with a little kick.

The most common problem with chili beans is the lack of different textures and the right cooking technique. The Grill Masters have succeeded in producing a cultured blend of vegetables, beans and spices. These chili beans were a very good topping for the seasoned fries that came with the meal.

Grill Masters is owned by Maribelle Aguilar and her husband, who started the business after refusing to relocated with their prior company.

“We started this place up about three years ago,” Maribelle said. “My husband barbecued for B & L Quality Meats for about nine to 10 years and they were relocating their store. We didn’t want to move and since my husband knew the business, he decided to go and venture out on his own.”

Maribelle stated that their chili beans and burgers are becoming best sellers. They also offer two different kinds of delicious barbecue sauces. These sauces include sweet and tangy along with sweet and spicy. All the food and sauces served in Grill Masters is home-made and cooked with fresh, local ingredients, provided by B &L Quality Meats.

If you enjoy challenges, you may consider taking Grill Masters up on their Matty Ultimeat Challenge.

This challenge requires you to consume a burger containing four half-pound patties, cheese, eight pieces of bacon, one quarter pound of tri-tip and three ribs all piled between two toasted buns. You must also partake in a very generous helping of chili cheese fries and rice pilaf.

All together, this burger and the chili cheese fries with rice weigh a whopping five pounds. If that didn’t already sound challenging enough, try eating all that food within 25 minutes. If you do happen to complete this arduous task, the meal would be on the house and you would acquire a special t-shirt advertising your accomplishment.

Our experience at Grill Masters was very good. With a combination of great food and friendly service, we would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quick easy dinner. It would also be the perfect place to hire to cater your next Superbowl party.

Grill Masters is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They accept cash or credit for payment. Grill Masters are located at 2700 Clovis Ave Clovis, CA 93612. If you wish to contact Grill Masters, they can be reached at 559.348.9483.

This writer can be reached via Twitter:@NhojNamood. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Jan. 8 article, ‘Beyond: Two Souls’ disappoints despite big-name actors

By |2014-01-09T00:00:00-07:00January 9th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

‘Beyond: Two Souls’ disappoints despite big-name actors

There are many games which try to be story driven experiences. Games like The Last Of Us bring us true emotions while beating its campaign. Then there are games like Beyond: Two Souls that try to be deep and emotional but end up being confusing and not worth your time.

Beyond: Two Souls is the newest game from Quantic Dream, the creators of games like Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophesy. In Beyond you play as a girl named Jodie, who was taken from her parents at birth and put into a program for paranormal investigations.

The two major characters in the game are Jodie (Ellen Page) and the man who raised Jodie, Nathan (Willem DaFoe). This blows my mind that these two fairly-good actors would do this kind of thing. It gives them publicity and the acting in the game is fine, however the story of the game is what is really wrong with this game.

Jodie goes through an experience when she was young that connects a ghost, Aiden, to her. The ghost follows her around through out the game and helps her on her missions.The experience she goes through does not make any sense because it happens every day, in real life, without people being attached to ghost.

Obviously, the story is what matters most in this kind of game. Beyond features no multiplayer or any other type of mode than single player. This is not bad but it limits replayability

The story of this game is absolutely infuriating because it jumps to different points in her life without any explanation of what is going on. Had I been able to play it without the jumping around the timeline, it might have felt a lot more meaningful.

Also, over half of the missions you play are absolutely meaningless and don’t affect the plot in any way. There is literally a level where all you do is have dinner.

There are around 20 missions in the game. Most missions play well but do not connect to each other. There is a mission that is in the Mojave dessert where you fight an ancient Native American god. This would be cool if it went further into the mythology of the Native Americans, but it does not. That entire level is to set up a character that they only use once later.

There is also a character, Nathan Dawkins, who was good throughout the game until the end when he becomes an enemy. This would be fine if it were not for the weird mixed up order that you play the game through. Because of this, he feels bipolar because of his sudden changes in mood.

This game’s story does not get cool or interesting until the ending. There are 24 possible endings and they are all terrible. A few of these are direct rips of the movie Terminator.

Stealing movie plot points seems to be a running joke at Quantic Dream as this game steals ideas from movies like Carrie, The Unborn and Terminator.

If you want to play a good game that is story based play The Last Of Us or Alan Wake. This Alan Wake game offers none of the subtlety or story of these games.

This game is a waste of your time and money, I would advise you to play something other than Beyond:Two Souls.

This writer can be reached via Twitter:@EthanNathe26. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Jan. 7 article, ‘Divergent’ captivates student, opens trilogy.

By |2014-01-08T00:00:00-07:00January 8th, 2014|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

CMT performs heartwarming 'Beauty and the Beast'

Beauty and the Beast is one of the most beloved Disney tales of all time. It is a story about love and despair; about the cost of sin and the hope of redemption.

In Belle, the common yet gorgeous village girl, we find a passionate and heroic individual. Her determination and compassion warm the heart of the selfish Beast and have the power to change his callous nature. Through this action, we come to both admire the Disney princess for her bravery, and rejoice in the freedom that love gives the Beast. The story is, in a word, heartwarming.

Too often, musical theater is considered a ?lower? form of entertainment. The drama student is never as popular as the model, and the Hollywood actress nearly always receives more fame than the Broadway actress. It seems that, more and more, the lights of live stages grow dimmer as cinematic lights shine brighter.

But I, for one, oppose this with all my heart. For those of my readers who prefer to spend their time in front of a 40-inch screen, watching prerecorded scenes of lifeless films, I challenge them to attend at least one drama performance this year.

In fact, why not go see Children?s Musical Theaterwork?s presentation of Beauty and the Beast? It has a familiar storyline, great singing, great dancing and a quality of entertainment well worth the box office price. That is more than I can say for many of the movies showed in cinemas every day.

Before I enter the specifics of this review, I wish to thank Children?s Musical Theaterworks (CMT) for offering the opportunity to experience the performing art of stage acting. Last Friday?s performance at the historic Fresno Memorial Auditorium provided not only quality entertainment, but also a vacation from the clutches of modern electronic diversions. I, for one, relished the chance to feel stimulated by a live show rather than dulled by an evening of virtual productions.

Not only does CMT?s rendition of the play provide a nice evening escape, but they do so with skill. Overall, I was very pleased with the acting and musical talent of the high school performers.

The strongest actor by far was Brandon Delsid. He absolutely stole the show as the ?flaming? Lumiere; his powerful vocals and pristine understanding of his character role really lite up the entire play.

Under Delsid?s leadership, the entire cast of spoons, plates and misfit castle items came together for what I thought was the most powerful moment of the play: the ?Be Our Guest? song.

That scene was absolutely spectacular, and I commend the entire cast for an excellent execution. The dancing was mesmerizing, the singing was superb and the special effects were spot on. If for no other reason, go see this play just for that moment, it is worth it I assure you.

Not every part of the play went smoothly, however. On the technical side, I found that the microphone volume was often either too high or too low, and they never seemed to get that quite right. At one point, Gaston (played by Niko Kazanjian) could barely be heard due to a problem with his microphone.

Also, I felt like the performers who played Belle and the Beast were slightly weaker than the more minor characters of Lumiere and Cogsworth. In my opinion, the relationship between these two leading roles could have been a little more dynamic, like that of Lumiere and Cogsworth, and for that reason I felt slightly disappointed. Do not get me wrong, they performed well, but they lacked a certain connection to each other that I was hoping for.

That being said, I really enjoyed Kazanjian?s portrayal of Gaston. His character was absolutely perfect with his ostentatiously, arrogant demeanor. He really caused the crowd to catch a sort of moral sickness from his putrid pride, and I found great amusement in watching him act.

Another interest I found in the play was in watching my fellow classmates. Caitlin Gaines, 15, and William Barisic, 19, were both a part of the ensemble and each played villagers. Barisic, being in 7th grade, was actually supposed to be in the junior cast, but was transferred to the adult cast because of his skill and potential. Despite his age, he performed just as well as all the other ensemble members.

Gaines, who is a member of our school?s drama cast, also performed very well as an enchanted plate. It was intriguing for me personally to see her outside of FC?s less prominent stage and on a more professional one. She fit right in among the other actors, and executed her job beautifully.

I have very little left so say except a final emphatic encouragement: go see this play. You will laugh at the Gaston?s portentousness. You will smile and clap for Lumiere?s animated performance. You may even cry when, at the end of the play, the Beast is finally free of his accursed form.

But, the most important reason to see this play is to widen one?s exposure to good entertainment. For your own sake, give the television a break for the evening. Spend some time viewing a more lively method of leisure that takes you beyond the walls of your own living room. It is worth it, I promise.

Beauty and the Beast will show four more times during Friday through Sunday, Dec. 13-15.

For more information regarding tickets and showtimes visit: CMT’s website or call: 559.442.3140.

Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Dec. 4 article, Long-time show celebrates 50th year with special episode (VIDEO).

By |2013-12-10T00:00:00-07:00December 10th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Cafe Via offers Italian comfort food

Have you been thinking about treating yourself to the great taste of an Italian meal, but hesitate because you do not want to cheat on your diet? If so, Cafe Via is the place for you.

This little slice of Italy is located on the intersection of Blackstone and Herndon. This location is ideal for your everyday River Park shopper.

The atmosphere is different from most restaurants in the Fresno area. When walking in the front door, it transforms into a Tuscan cafe. The service we received upon arrival was top notch; everyone was very inviting.

We came across this restaurant when it was referred to us by one of Jason’s coworkers. We felt that it would be the perfect place to write a food review for The Feather.

Our order was placed around 6 p.m. where we ordered the Chicken Alfredo for $15 and the Combo Via Calzone for $10. The food arrived reasonably fast, only taking about 11 minutes to be delivered to our table.

The Chicken Alfredo is crafted with whole grain Fettuccine pasta, cooked to perfection to the point of aldente. The pasta is then cloaked with homemade Alfredo sauce, featuring a smoky house made creole shrimp butter twist.

The dish comes with the options of hickory-braised chicken Brest, slow-cooked-Italian sausage, pan-seared shrimp or wood-grilled, fresh-water salmon.

The Calzone is a shell of house-made, wholewheat, Italian herbs and cheese crust. Inside this shell is specially cured pepperoni, Italian sausage, marinated bell peppers and onions.

Then, the dish is bound together with the perfect blend of mozzarella, parmesan and Romano cheeses. It is plated along side a bowl of hand-crafted marinara sauce, which is a combination of fire-roasted tomatoes, blended together with different Italian-derived spices.

The food is not the only great thing Cafe Via has to offer. The service was also overwhelmingly outstanding. The manager/owner was on a personal level with her customers.

Because she knew our intentions as food critics, she complemented us with a choice of their Artisan crafted desserts; we chose the fresh apple and pecan coffee cake. The cake is served on top a hot plate drizzled with caramel and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

We were not the only ones who were enjoying our food. We spoke with satisfied customers, Patricia and Randy about there meal.

They split the Seared Cracked Pepper Steak for their meal. Though they thought it was a bit overcooked, they really enjoyed the marinade. Overall, they enjoyed their experience at Cafe Via.

We would definetely recommend this restaurant as a top choice for anyone having trouble making dinner plans in Fresno. Whether you are looking for a quiet setting to take a date or you just want to enjoy some good food with some friends, consider Cafe Via.

This author is available on Twitter: @NhojNamood . Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Nov. 30 article, ‘A Christmas Carol’ opens hope, holiday spirit.

By |2013-12-04T00:00:00-07:00December 4th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

'A Christmas Carol' opens hope, holiday spirit

We are all familiar the story A Christmas Carol. We understand the plot, and the characters, and we are familiar with both its setting and theme. In many ways, the story is as central to the Christmas tradition as Jesus Christ himself, and ?Bah Humbug? is as familiar to the ear as ?Noel.?

But somehow, though the story is nearly 170 years old, it still manages to captivate audiences young and old, rich and poor, Christian and secular. Something in this ancient carol rings true in our hearts, and so we sing it with religious dedication year after year. It has become a part of us.

Good Company Players is retelling this beloved story in a special way this season with a dramatic production starring local talent. Being asked to write this review by my journalism adviser, I travelled downtown to the tower district and found myself in the cozy 2nd Space Theater where I eagerly awaited the beginning of the play.

And I must say, first off, that it did not disappoint. From the first scene to the last, this performance offered genuine laughter, compelling acting and a theme poignant enough to render every soul in the room into self-reflection.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the storyline, A Christmas Carol is about an old man by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is a money loaner who lives and breathes for the acquisition of wealth. He is a greedy, snobbish, and merciless man who hates Christmas and all things cheerful.

The play tells about a three ghosts who visit him on Christmas Eve in an attempt to change his callous heart. Scrooge soon finds himself on a wild journey through the past, present and future, and in this journey he uncovers the dark things about himself as well as the path to redemption.

But enough summarization of the plot, for I know how boring such things are to read. Allow me now to tell you all that I enjoyed (and didn?t enjoy) about this play.

The first thing that struck me was the simplicity of the set. Because the stage was quite small, the props were reduced to a bare minimum. This allowed the viewer to focus more on the actors and the plot rather than superfluous set pieces. Though some may find such an arrangement dull and boring, I really enjoyed its plainness.

Because many of the participants were amateur actors and teens, the quality of acting was not superb. It was also, however, not mediocre. I felt like the young ones performed wonderfully despite their age, and nearly every character was both believable and dynamic.

One must keep an open mind that Good Company Players is a company that offers opportunities to young people to cultivate their artistic talents, and as such it will not be a professional grade production.

That being said, I feel like the actors came together wonderfully and really displayed their passion, camaraderie and love for the performing arts.

The two characters I enjoyed seeing most were Ebenezer Scrooge and Gentleman #2. Kiaya Hargis, the young woman who played the above latter mentioned, is a student here at our school and a member of the drama class.

I found both humor and interest in her portrayal of her male role, and I think that she possessed an obvious mastery of the part. She executed her job professionally and skillfully, making a solid impression without stealing the stage.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Mark Norwood) pretty much ran the show. As a seasoned performer and skillful actor, Norwood provided experience and vivacity to the cast and led them with remarkable aptitude.

Obviously, the lead actor in every play must be a strong actor, and if the lead actor fails then the whole play hurts. Conversely, if the lead actor is exceptional and charismatic in his theatrical talent, the entire play is exalted. Norwood definitely exalted this play.

Not only did his rendition of old man Scrooge seem genuine and compelling, but he also connected with the audience very well. I found myself laughing at one moment, and then feeling horrified the next. Norwood really portrayed the dark side of Scrooge?s avarice nature, while still offering sufficient comic relief at opportune times.

Not all of the characters were as solid as Scrooge, however. For instance, I found that the ghost of Christmas Present was pretty weak. Colin Bracewell (the boy who played the part), did not have the booming voice and large stature that we expect from this role.

I found myself disbelieving the character and becoming anxious for his part to pass. This in no way reflects poorly on the actor?s level of talent (I think he did his best) but rather it shows a slight casting failure; Bracewell should have played a different part.

Despite this, I commend him for trying his best. He exuded confidence and effort throughout his part, and I, for one, appreciated that.

Another minor downfall of my experience involved the technical aspect of the event. The narrator?s voice was prerecorded and played through a sub-par speaker system, which slightly lowered the overall quality of the play in my estimation. It was not a big deal, but it was noticeable.

As I said before, A Christmas Carol is one of the most iconic Christmas stories of all time. In my opinion, Scrooge embodies the spirit of the holiday season more than any other human figure, fictitious or actual. We, as humans, connect with him.

Sure, Santa Claus provides a nice fable for children, but he is distant, god-like and intolerably perfect. The baby Jesus is impersonal, static and immobile in his humble crib, providing nothing to interact with.

See, Santa Claus belongs in books of legend, and Jesus Christ must be remembered for his sacrifice on the cross more than his birth unto the world. But Scrooge, he embodies the human spirit.

Scrooge represents the darkness in all of us that causes our spirits to cry out, then tremble, then become colder than snow. His redemption signifies the redemption we all seek in the Christmas season and his journey is the hope we all have in changing the destructive aspects of our personality.

Scrooge is, in a sense, a Christmas hero.

During the play, as I saw Mr. Scrooge struggle I saw myself struggle. As I saw him realize his shortcomings, I remembered my own shortcomings. And his triumph reminded me of the hope we all have because, on Christmas day, a new savior entered our world.

Hope. That is the true Christmas spirit. That is the true reason for our celebration and it is the unequivocal theme of this legendary work of art.

Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Nov. 20 article, Switchfoot extended play incorporates human condition.

By |2013-11-30T00:00:00-07:00November 30th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|1 Comment

'Catching Fire' exceeds expectations, appeases audience (VIDEO)

Posters, trailers, book singings and endless photos of the Hunger Games’s sequel, Catching Fire built the anticipation for the new release, as well as my expectations. Being a legitimate fan, having read the books, my family and I decided to attend the premiere showing of Catching Fire, Nov. 22.

This movie follows the consequences and life of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) after her performance in the 74th Hunger Games, where she cheated the game makers and both her and her on-screen love interest, Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson), survived.

Now, with President Snow (Donald Sutherland) out to get her, Katniss struggles with balancing her family’s safety from Capital harm and appeasing the population she inspired in the districts. Katniss’s stubbornness creates endless trouble for her, bringing dire consequences to her entire “race.”

Due to the threat that Katniss poses of stirring an uprising, President Snow decides to make the 75th Hunger Games a special event, being that it’s the third quarter quell. This meaning that the 24 tributes will be chosen from the victors in each district, dooming Katniss to death.

The rest of the movie is jam-packed with action from the actual game events, including fight scenes, special effects and mind games. But the beginning of the movie follows the recovery of Katniss and Petta after their first Hunger Games.

One of the things that impressed me, especially as someone who read the books, was the casting. The other victors were casted perfectly, matching my own representation of them. I especially enjoyed seeing Sam Claflin as Finnick and Jena Malone as Joanna. Their embodiment of the characters was spot-on, even adding in light humor to the darker atmosphere of the plot.

The flick also developed Katniss’s character very well. The second installment dealt a lot with her post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which included nightmares and flashbacks.

Jennifer Lawrence’s acting during these scenes, especially, was very impressive. Her acting has improved a lot since the previous film and it was obvious in the dynamic character she portrayed in just two hours.

The relationships between the Katniss love triangle fed my inner teenage fangirl. There was plenty of romantic scenes throughout the book that were tactfully done, but obviously added to appease the audience.

The special effects during the games were quite entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the animals; they were similar to ones in our world, but genetically altered to become vicious killers.

Another highlight of Catching Fire were the costumes and sets. The extravagant dresses and suits compared to the poverty-stricken rags emphasized the growing disparity between classes, spurring revolution. The costumes and sets also added to the tone of the story, which differed greatly from the previous movie.

For the amount of action and detail they put into the movie, the two and half hours seemed to fly by. By the end of the movie I had experienced many emotion: I cried, I laughed, and even “awww-ed.”

I would state that this movie is solely a sequel, meaning that if you wish to enjoy this film you must watch the previous one. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and loved watching it alongside my family.

If you want to spend two hours submerged in a whole different world, spend the few bucks to watch this film and you won’t regret it.

Catching Fire runs at 146 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.

This author can be reached via Twitter: @TyninFries. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more entertainment, read the Nov. 20 article, Switchfoot extended play incorporates human condition.

By |2013-11-22T00:00:00-07:00November 22nd, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Switchfoot extended play incorporates human condition

I remember when I first started listening to Switchfoot. I must have been ten or eleven at the time, and I possessed no more understanding of popular music than an Amish child. See, my parents (rightfully) disapproved of secular music due to its often immoral and suggestive themes, so for much of my childhood I listened chiefly to Christian contemporary or praise songs. As I entered the awkward stages of early puberty, however, they began to allow a greater variety in what I could listen to, and my horizons broadened quite a bit.

I quickly began enjoying artists with Christian ties who nonetheless practiced their craft in a more modern, liberal and “free-spirited” way in comparison to the typical “Christian” band. I listened to such artists as Skillet, Pillar, Red and, of course, Switchfoot. They were, in a sense, the gateway between my childhood of social ignorance and my more enlightened, current cultural understanding.

In other words, Switchfoot helped open my eyes to the big world of the musical art. That is one of the great accomplishments of this incredible band: they stay true to their Christian values while offering positive, entertaining and thought-provoking music to the general public.

The band just recently excited public opinion with the release of a three-song extended play (EP) for their upcoming album Fading West. The three new songs, “Love Alone is Worth the Fight,” “Who We Are” and “BA55” are, for the most part, very much in consistency with the Switchfoot we all know and love. They all feature the typical upbeat tempo and lyrics that we expect from them coupled with the familiar vocals of lead singer Jon Foreman.

The lyrics, though simple, present a deeply poetic representation of the human condition as the band promotes basic themes such as love, youthful innocence, hope and unified togetherness. This band, like always, brings solid music, solid vocals and all with a rock solid meaning behind their words. Few bands exercise such overall mastery.

My favorite song on the EP was certainly “BA55”. Though it was slower than the other two, its poetically haunting lyrics and different sound set it apart from any other songs that I have heard from them thus far. The most compelling part of the song is during the bridge section when the vocalist repeats again and again the words: “I believe that you?re the fire that could burn me clean.”

Something in those words emanates a deeply primitive desire to see God change things from within. That’s what I took away from it, anyway. The piece as a whole deals with the innate desire within all humans to find that one thing that “lets our soul fly” and frees us from the restraints of mortality. It is a beautiful concept.

I also enjoyed “Who We Are.” This song, which is more upbeat than BA55, deals with the theme of innocence within children and the passage from this innocence into a life of significance and determination. The third melody explicates this theme quite wonderfully as it reads: “They said it’s complicated / They said we’d never make it this far / But we are / They said the fight would break us / But the struggle helped to make/ Who we are.”

The only song I disliked on the EP was “Love Alone is Worth the Fight.” I disliked it for a couple reasons: one being the fact that it sounded like the generic Christian contemporary “lets-put-a-ton-of-feel-good-words-into-this-song” type of song.

Forgive my hyphen overuse, but I know of no other way to express my distaste for the corniness of the song. Also, something in it exuded the essence of mass-produced, lyrically shallow types of songs that pervade both secular and Christian radio stations. Don?t get me wrong, I enjoy uplifting songs with uplifting messages, but only if they are good. Songs like ?Love Alone is Worth the Fight? do not make me happy: they just seem fake, distant to reality, and boring. I just could not connect with the song.

Overall, however, I enjoyed the EP very much. I will undoubtedly look in to the new album, Fading West, when it comes out Jan 14, 2014. I’m also excited about Switchfoot’s original movie with the same name. Fading West, the documentary, portraits some of the touring and surfing destination the band vistited in the past. It officially premiered Sept. 20, 2013, and will be available to purchase, Dec. 10.

Switchfoot makes good music, and good music is hard to come by. I hope that the other songs on the album give us more of the wild rock side of the band that we already know, while also giving us a deeper insight into the world from their perspective. Because in the end, that is art: the expression of one?s point of view, one?s experiences, and one?s understanding of the human heart.

Somehow Switchfoot, with their rough edged music and uncomplicated lyrics, finds a way to, time and time again, pierce the barrier of artistic mediocrity and enter the hearts and minds of their listeners. This is what has made them great, and this is what continues to empower them to success.

Fading West can be purchased on iTunes for about $2.97.

To purchase the EP visit their website.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @JohnathanNyberg. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Nov. 14 article, Film entertains with witty dialogue, action.

By |2013-11-20T00:00:00-07:00November 20th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments