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.

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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.

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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.
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“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.
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“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.

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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.
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“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.
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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

Book turned movie impresses with effects

When a movie based on a book comes out, fan expectations commonly reach astronomical heights. Often these films underachieve, relying on the fact that the book’s fame will insure some box office success. Fortunately, Ender’s Game, based on Orson Scott Card’s book, avoids most of these pitfalls.

Gavin Hood’s rendition of Ender’s Game features stellar visual effects and solid acting to support the plot, which is usually less complex than the book. While some of the moral ambiguity and complex characters that made the book so intriguing may be lacking in the movie, it should be noted that conveying these visually would either be impossible or take as much as four hours.

The story begins on a futuristic Earth, which has narrowly survived an invasion by the alien Formics, largely due to the heroics of Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley). To prevent future invasions, the International Fleet begins a program to train children as the new Earth commanders due to the faster analytical capacities of young minds.

Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is a rare third child on the overpopulated Earth. He is a strategic and intellectual genius, and one of the Fleet’s prime candidates for command. His personality is conflicted between his violent brother Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) and his gentle sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin), which concerns the International Fleet’s training commander, Lieutenant Graff (Harrison Ford). However, after Ender decisively defeats a bully at school, Graff determines that Ender is ready to move on to the Battle School, where the Fleet’s commanders are trained.

The Battle School pits Ender against other children in both a classroom setting and in a strategic laser-tag-like game set in the incredible Battle Room. He is soon socially isolated as a prodigy, forcing him to learn leadership skills that will be key to his later success as a commander. The pressure on Ender is immense and some of the Battle School’s methods are slightly questionable, but Ender largely grows through the difficulty, aided by the newfound support of his fellow trainees.

Ender next must face his greatest challenge: overcoming his own doubts and the flawless strategy of the Formic forces. As he reaches his final battle, he needs all his brilliance and fortitude to have a chance against a vastly superior force.

Ender’s Game features excellent visual effects, with stunning battle scenes and shiny technology. Also, the acting comes across well, for the most part. Butterfield and Ford interact well, and the young cast of other cadets play their parts accurately.

The Battle Room, in particular, is beautifully portrayed. I would have liked two or three other scenes from the book in the Battle Room to have been included just to see more of that room, but time constraints likely eliminated that possibility.

The plot itself, however, is merely adequate, as Card’s deeply moral questioning is mostly lost in this simplified version of the story. However, this is excusable considering that the largely internal drama of the book would not translate well into a movie, and the plot overall is certainly not subpar, just slightly shallow.

One thing that bothered me as a fan of the book series was the character of Petra Arkanian (Hailee Steinfeld). Petra is somewhat of a love interest for Ender in the film, unlike in the books. That is not a problem and I can see how this helps the film as a whole. My problem is with the transformation of Petra’s character from the aggressive, caustic genius of the book to the kind, supportive girl of the movie. I liked the old Petra better. People who have not read the book will likely not care, but that change irritated me.

Still, I truly enjoyed the film, which is saying something, considering how picky I can be. Hood’s presentation of Ender’s Game is about as good as such a movie can be. While it cannot match the book for complexity, I would still recommend it as a good science fiction/action movie, with or without the original book. But seriously, read the book.

Ender’s Game is just under two hours long and is rated PG-13, largely for violence. It premiered in the US on Nov. 1.

For more movie reviews, read the Oct. 24 article, “Reshowing old-time film disappoints senior, pipe organ impresses.”

By |2013-11-08T00:00:00-07:00November 8th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Tower Cafe provides quick service, quality food

If you ever come out of a performance at the Tower Theatre and are thoroughly famished, you may consider walking about one hundred yards down Olive Ave to The Tower Cafe. After walking up and down the main street for about thirty minutes looking for a local favorite, we finally chose to eat at this place, due to the tri-tip sandwich they were advertising out front.

When we walked in, the atmosphere was pretty inviting. It is right on the main street so it kind of gives you a feeling of retro dining. The man working the cash register was also very polite and non-judgmental for the excessive amount of food we ordered.

Our order was made around 7:30 p.m.. We ordered two chicken tacos for $3 each, a tri-tip sandwich for $6.89, and a plate of cheese fries with bacon for $5.50. To our surprise all the food was prepared and on our table within six minutes.

We began our meal with the chicken tacos. They were quite simple containing grilled chicken, cheese and pico de gallo in two corn tortillas. These were very good due to the seasoning used on the chicken.

Next we moved onto the tri-tip sandwich. When we first saw the sandwich, we did not really think it did the advertisement in the front window justice.

This sandwich, however, was surprisingly better than expected. Sometimes a concern for people and their food is the fact that the food is cold. This was definitely not the case here due to the fact that the meat was fresh off the grill.

The meat was piled on a sesame seed bun and covered in barbecue sauce. The only negative side we could find to the sandwich was the sauce. Usually when a restaurant claims to have “The best tri-tip sandwich around,” there is some uniqueness to there sauce. The sauce on our tri-tip sandwich tasted as if it were store bought.

Our final dish of the evening was the cheesy, bacon fries. Now, you really cannot go wrong with cheesy, bacon fries, but considering this is a critique, then we must find a bone to pick. Overall they were awesome, but they could have been better if they had real cheese instead of the cheese sauce.

The other customers in the restaurant looked pleased with their meals. We spoke with a customer about what she ordered.

She told us that she ordered the French Dip Sandwich and that she was enjoying the meal so far. The only thing she found wrong with the food was the cheese. The menu told her that order would come with swiss cheese and hers came with american cheese. Overall, the customer was pleased and guaranteed her return. She rated the restaurant a strong 3.5 out of 5.

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

For more reviews, read the Oct. 30 article, Video game falls short of expectation.

By |2013-11-05T00:00:00-07:00November 5th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Video game falls short of expectation

The Arkham games have a history of evolving the way superhero games are seen. Batman: Arkham Asylum in particular helped usher in a new era for superhero games. Batman: Arkham Origins is a sorry exception to this rule, giving us close to the same gameplay with not enough new ideas.

Arkham Origins for starters is a terrible name. Not only is it horribly cliche but it has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the game. You play as a young, unrefined Batman who has only been a hero for two years now.

One of the major villains, Black Mask, has hired eight assassins to kill Batman on christmas. Unfortunately you only fight six of these assassins as part of the main story, the rest are only available through side missions.

Some of the battles are disappointing. Namely the battle with the assassin, Electrocutioner. The gameplay is sluggish and, at times unresponsive. There were many times when I would press the “Y” button on the controller to counter an enemies attack and I still got hit. This is especially apparent with the DeathStroke boss battle.

The story of Arkham Origins is respectively well written. It shows a young Bruce Wayne, still battling with his want of revenge, meeting a lot of villains which become important later, for example, the Joker.

This meeting, in particular, is awesome. You get to see behind some of the psychology of the biggest mass murderer in the DC Comic’s universe. One part of the plot had me laughing at how cool it was.

The map is much bigger than any of the other games. This in most normal games would be a welcome addition, however here it feels misplaced. The parts of the map from Arkham City feel as if they are pasted together. Disproving any illusion that this is a different Gotham then seen in any of the other games.

The rest of the map feels to similar to the parts from previous games. Almost as if they just renamed the districts of the Arkham City map.

Also getting across the new map is a long and hazardous experience. There are a lot of enemies that are prepared to fire on you at a moments notice.

Story wise, Arkham Origins is respectively well written. With many references to both previous games and the comics which the game is loosely based on. The story, unfortunately does not hold up to the standards of Arkham Asylum or City.

The previous’ games all have better stories than this. Though this story is no where near bad.

My major problem with the game is the new weapons. Batman has always been a gadget heavy hero, carrying batarangs among other things. However the new weapons found in this game are too silly.

Things like the shock gloves ruin the more gritty feel that was set back in Arkham Asylum. The shock gloves are especially suspect because they ruin the previously layered combat which needed a great deal of skill to perform flawlessly. The shock gloves blow through the defense of every enemy type.

All in all, Arkham Origins is a good game but it does not hold up when compared to its predecessors.

The game is rated T for teens and is available at most local stores.

Follow The Feather via twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Oct. 24 article, Reshowing old-time film disappoints senior, pipe organ impresses.

By |2013-10-30T00:00:00-07:00October 30th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Reshowing old-time film disappoints senior, pipe organ impresses

The Warnors Theatre, formerly the Pantages Theater, was built in 1928. For much of its glory days, the theater was used for motion pictures, and it boasted an intricately-made pipe organ with the purpose of facilitating sound for silent movies.

Now, over 80 years later, ?The Return to the Silent Movies? series offers a unique opportunity to venture a glance into the genesis of cinematic creation. Such showings will include early twentieth century movies such as The Great Train Robbery, Hot Water, and Pollyanna. I myself went to see The Phantom of the Opera (1925).

As I entered the 1920s-era theater, I realized that something magically golden existed in the atmosphere, as if the spectral image of the past floated just inches behind the curtain. Its spectacular vaulted ceilings and grandiose architecture stood as a shadow of an era long-gone, and a society mostly forgotten. An impressively large pipe organ arose hydraulically from a lower level room and rested just before the stage. Once freed from its cavernous lair, the organ burst forth in a vociferous cry of airy tunes which reverberated off the walls and tickled my eardrum with ancient sounds. I felt exhilarated by its performance as I contented myself to close my eyes and listen to its lovely racket.

The proceedings began with a demonstration by Dave Moreno, the organist. Moreno has been playing the organ since he was 13-years-old and has been playing for over 40 years. He explained that the organ was made with the theater in order to replace the need for an entire orchestra. Consequently, the magnificent musical device has hundreds of different sounds including a car horn, drums and various wind instruments. Every sound is projected out of the organ pipes and into the grand auditorium with impressive vitality. It is quite magical.

At first, I was enthralled by the experience. I gazed upon the pipe-organ in wonder, and sat in excited impatience for the movie to begin. As the show commenced, however, my countenance began to change from bright-eyed enjoyment to forlorn regret. I tried to look past the primitive film-making and view it as a classic piece of art, but found myself unable to do so. Suffering through an hour of terrible cinematography, I realized that I hated the entire thing. By the end of Act One, I exited the theater in disappointment.

The story in itself is not bad; for those of you who are not familiar with this fantastic tale, it is about a talented young opera singer named Christine who sings for an esteemed opera house in France. Unfortunately, the theater is haunted by a grotesque, mask?wearing entity known simply as ?The Phantom.? Through various means, The Phantom woos Christine to his underground lair and holds her captive as his honored lover. The rest of the story deals with the conflict between The Phantom?s desire for her, and her struggle to escape him.

Overall the sequence of events was quite interesting; I found nothing wanting in the storyline of the movie. However, the movie itself . . . sucked. It was boring. It was poorly made. It was downright awful. Maybe I’m spoiled by the modern age of hi-definition theatrical experiences. Perhaps I simply cannot, after viewing such visual masterpieces as The Dark Knight, appreciate the works of primitive film-makers. It is like stepping from the cockpit of an F-22 raptor onto the seat of a tricycle. The tricycle is simply not fast enough anymore.

Likewise, The Phantom was so far below my standards that I could not help but dislike the experience. The showing left me with a very distinct truism ringing in my mind: silent movies are a thing of the past, and are in no way relevant to my generation.

Thankfully, I only wasted $3 at the box office. That is not a bad price for two hours of ?entertainment.? And, now that I think about it, I am grateful for the opportunity to peek into the hazy world of 1920s show business. It provided good insight at least. I suppose the evening was not a complete loss. The pipe organ itself is worth seeing/listening to. And, despite having not enjoyed this particular show, I am excited to see the Jan. 16 performance of The Great Train Robbery (1903). I have seen that film before, and I hope it will be a better experience. This classic movie is also being shown with The General (1926).

In the end, I did enjoy many aspects of the experience. I enjoyed the marvelous pipe organ. I enjoyed the mystical atmosphere of the restored 1920s building. I even enjoyed seeing all the crazy people who dressed up for the performance. However, the movie itself was simply too old for my taste.

No matter how much we idolize the past, it is irrecoverable. Like a phantom, it stalks our consciousness with enticing promises of romance and fantasy. When we finally take a look at it, however, we find a creature unpleasant and uninteresting.

So I come to this conclusion: while the organ performance is worthy of attending, silent movies are no longer good entertainment. Let us leave the ghosts of movies gone by in the basement, and pay homage to the cinematography of the enlightened present. It is far better.

The next Warners “Return of the Silent Movies” event will be the showing of Hot Water (1924), Nov. 21. For those who would like a Christmas-themed event, Warnors will host the silent films Big Business (1929) with Silent Christmas Cartoons, Dec. 19. All shows begin at 7 p.m. Be sure to check www.Warnors.org for costume contest information.

For more information regarding future events call: 559.264.2848 or visit their website.

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

For more reviews, read the Oct. 14 article, Clovis High presents ‘Exit the Body,’ entertains audience.

By |2013-10-24T00:00:00-07:00October 24th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Tasks, activities showcase queens (VIDEO)

The pageant started off with a comical video that included an introduction of each candidate in which they explained what they thought about other candidates and themselves.Jeremy Brown | The Feather Online Archive

The pageant started off with a comical video that included an introduction of each candidate in which they explained what they thought about other candidates and themselves.

Queen Pageant involves crazy clothes and make up

As homecoming draws ever closer the queen candidates of the royal court gathered for their annual Queens pageant. Unlike the stereotypical definition of pageantry, this event usually consists of various challenges that tend to test the candidates abilities, talents and often stomachs. In the past these trials have included anything from public karaoke to consuming cups of a mystery concoction. Most often participants walk away a little messy and with some very interesting stories.

This year the pageant took place at ground zero in front of the whole student body, Oct. 23. Queen candidates Hannah AvilaAnnaleah Madison ,Mikayla Messer, Annalise Rosik and Emily Shakeshaft all took to the stage in an effort to secure student votes.

The pageant started off with a comical video that included an introduction of each candidate in which they explained what they thought about other candidates and themselves. They then held a brief fashion show in which they described the wacky outfits they had designed for the king candidates. After this the queens took part in several messy competitions that involved the help of their king Candidates.

Rosik enjoyed the way the video turned out and loved getting a little dirty. She also believes that the queen candidates created a good show for the student body.

“I liked how the video turned out,” Rosik said. “I think the students enjoyed it too. Getting messy is always funny and I’m glad that we got to work with the king candidates.”

Messer’s favorite part of the pageant was the makeup competition. She thought the most awkward part was when she had to hold the ruler with the two tic tack boxes on either end in her mouth and try to bounce all the tic tacs out, as part of her individual challenge.

“My favorite part was when the kings gave us a makeover,” Messer said. “It was all really fun overall. The most awkward part was when I had to hold the ruler with two tic tack boxes on either end in my mouth and try to bounce the tic tacks out.”

The queen’s several chaotic competitions left them in need of a change of clothes. One competition involved the queens to catch cheetos thrown by the king candidates in shaving cream which was placed on top of their heads. Another event called for the kings to be blindfolded and attempt to put makeup on the queen?s faces. Finally queen candidates attempted to eat chocolate pudding, cinnamon apple sauce, whipped cream and a chocolate cupcake using only the hands of the kings who were been blind folded once again.

Avilla enjoyed the food eating competition where the kings acted as the queens hands. Avila got a good laugh out of being fed by another person.
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“My favorite part of the pageant was when Kyle [/fusion_builder_column]

[Hudecek] was feeding me,” Avilla said. “I just thought it was really funny and awkward having him be my hands. It was hilarious having food stuffed into my mouth with someone else?s hands.”

After the royal court concluded their performance students were encouraged to vote for their favorite homecoming queen nominee. The audience members each walked away having witnessed the queen pageant of 2013 and harboring different ideas and opinions about the event.

Senior Lucas Lopez believes it was one of the best pageants. He thought the events succeeded in getting all of the candidates involved and highlighted

“I thought it was hilarious and I loved it,” Lopez said. “The events were really ridiculous and the girls were so into it. It definitely got them involved. The kings were really funny too, they didn’t steal the show but they were definitely involved.”

Mikayla Miller, ’15, thought the event was not only comical but creative and extremely interesting to watch.

“It was really funny,” Miller said. “I liked what they did this year, it was original and enjoyable. I like how they did the special one minute thing for everyone so that they each had their own moment.”

Queen Pagent 2013 (VIDEO) from The Feather Online on Vimeo.

Queen Bash 2013 (VIDEO) from The Feather Online on Vimeo.

Queen Pageant (85 PHOTOS) by Slidely – Slideshow maker

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

Action-packed scenes keeps reader intrigued

Tom Harris, a flamboyant nightclub owner with a harem of ex-wives and a penchant for jazz; Max Jackson, a young ex-actor with an old, self-deprecating, cynical soul; two men who couldn?t be more different yet bond over two common traits: A morbid curiosity, and….

Well, I?d tell you the other, but that would ruin part of the fun of Deadbeat: Makes You Stronger, an exciting and laugh out loud hilarious mystery-thriller from British author Guy Adams.

The story opens with Max and Tom attending a funeral out of sheer politeness. They barely knew the woman and just want to get on with their day. The woman is cremated and Tom and Max go out drinking at Tom?s nightclub, called Deadbeat.

When the night is over, they go wandering around town and come across two burly men manhandling a coffin into a van. The men accidentally drop the coffin and out comes a 30-something year old woman?s body. And she?s still breathing.

Tom, having read far too many detective novels, decides to investigate and Max, being the loyal friend that he is, reluctantly tags along.

From there, Adams sends both the duo and the reader on a thrilling ride. Tom and Max prove easy to like thanks to snappy and frequently funny dialogue. The novel is primarily narrated by the pair, with both characters having a separate, yet equally charming voice. The shifts in perspective prove easy to swallow barring the one chapter that bafflingly switches to third-person.

The first two-thirds of the novel are brilliantly suspenseful, a standout setpiece being a scene in which Max infiltrates a sinister undertaker?s office by hiding in a coffin. But even in such moments, where our heroes could be caught at any moment, the novel never loses its biting wit.

Said wit comes primarily from the relationship between the two characters. They tease each other and really get on each other?s nerves, but their friendship runs deep and they?re never afraid to stick their necks out for one another.

The story doesn?t skimp on the action either, especially in the intense final third. Tom and Max are chased, shot at, dangled off rooftops, all that good stuff. It?s all told with intricate detail and thrilling urgency and the non-linear structure helps add to the page-turning quality.

There is however, one problem I had with Deadbeat, and it?s a pretty big structural one. I feel that the novel?s transition from detective story to paranormal thriller could have been handled with a bit more grace. The villain is introduced as a nice and innocent guy, so innocent that of course he is secretly super sinister. And sure enough, later on in the very same chapter he was introduced and BAM! He becomes evil. It just feels a little jarring and I feel like the reveal could have been handled a bit better.

However, despite that issue, I still look forward to the further adventures of Tom Harris and Max Jackson. They?re really fun guys to hang out with.

Deadbeat: Makes You Stronger is available for purchase on Amazon or at local bookstores for between eight and ten dollars.

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

For more reviews, read the Oct. 21 article, First novel excites reader to continue series.

By |2013-10-22T00:00:00-07:00October 22nd, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

First novel excites reader to continue series

Cyrus Smith hates his home, the old, beaten Archer Motel. He misses California, he misses his parents and he’s sick and tired of eating waffles, since that’s all the motel ever makes. He finds himself missing it, however, when a mysterious man known as “Skeleton” checks into the hotel, and is murdered that night, forcing Cyrus and his sister, Antigone, to leave.

Right before Skeleton dies, he gives Cyrus a key ring with two keys and a little, sheathed fang like tooth. In the middle of the night, three intimidating characters arrive and burn the motel in search of the keys. The next day Cyrus finds his older brother Dan missing. What exactly have these keys gotten them in to?

These events begin the book The Dragon’s Tooth. The Dragon’s Tooth is book one in N.D. Wilson’s series the Ashtown Burials.

I picked up this book shortly after finishing Wilson’s series 100 Cupboards, which I found so enjoyable that I immediately looked up his other books. The Dragon’s Tooth did not disappoint. With well developed characters, a mysterious and enticing storyline and an enjoyable writing style, each turn of the page brings something new and intriguing.

Wilson cleverly intertwines real world history, myths and cultures into the story, giving it a sense of humor and reality while at the same time making it feel a bit more fantasy-like.

The book focuses on Keepers, or explorers, who travel the world and collect and protect ancient relics and discoveries. Wilson takes real life myths, legends and histories, intertwining the stories to give background to his. He handles the lore very well, making it’s relation to the story believable.

One of my favorite elements of the book was its ability to be funny without sounding like it was trying too hard to make you laugh. I would break into a massive smile while reading the book and enjoyed the clever quips some of the characters had to share.

The book, while having a mildly complex storyline, manages to pick up almost every loose end and unanswered question which gives a satisfying closure at the end, but also asks more questions, causing the reader to be eager to continue with the series.

The Dragon’s Tooth is a well written, fantastic story, lovable and enjoyable for readers of any age. It will leave readers longing for the next in the series and eager to turn the page. With relatable characters and an air of mystery, it makes a great book to pick up to find yourself in a story of adventure.

The Dragon’s Tooth runs at 496 pages and is available for $8 on amazon.com and most local bookstores.

Wilson can be contacted at his website or via Twitter: @ndwilsonmutters.

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

Read a review on Wilson’s other book series, 100 Cupboards, here. For more reviews, read the Oct. 14 article, Clovis High presents ‘Exit the Body,’ entertains audience.

By |2013-10-21T00:00:00-07:00October 21st, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Clovis High presents 'Exit the Body,' entertains audience

I entered the Dan Pessano Theatre with no expectations. I knew nothing about the play Exit the Body, and I knew nothing about Clovis High?s drama program. With an open mind I took my seat and waited for the performance to start.

While I waited, I scanned my new environment for any peculiarities. The room itself could not have held more than 200 people, and the stage felt quite small as well. The entire set consisted of a couple doors leading into a living room, two couches, a desk, a small liquor table and a few windows. It all seemed quite mediocre to me, and I began to wonder if I might regret buying my ticket by the end of the first act.

Every negative disposition vanished, however, the minute the actors took the stage. Jenny, a perky, unrefined country maid, entered first, and was soon followed by her smart and classy city boyfriend named Randolph. Another person was snooping around the house, and somehow escaped just as the couple entered, but we do not know her name at this point.

Through the dialogue between Jenny and her crafty compatriot, it is revealed that the house belongs to a long dead Mr. Redfax, who died in a car accident a week or so earlier. Jenny also mentions the fact that Mr. Redfax was the prime suspect in a diamond robbery, and he more than likely hid the jewels in the house. They talk about their dreams of stealing the jewels for themselves until they hear the sound of a car out front.

The couple scrambles out of the house just as three women enter from the front. The first is Helen O?Toole, the only realtor in this small New England town, and the other two are future renters. One of them is Crane Hammond, a successful mystery writer, and the other is Kate Bixley, her secretary.

Hammond enters excitedly and barely contains her joy upon seeing the quaint country abode, but Bixley immediately makes it clear that she wishes to return to the bustling streets of New York City. The former basks in the glorious prospect of their one month vacation, while the latter groans over her misfortune. During this time we also meet Vernon Cookley, an elderly, cranky old cab driver, who later turns out to hold several other occupations including town sheriff.

With much ado, the realtor gets the celebrity and her assistant settled, and then leaves them to a nice and peaceful rest. However, the house proves to contain many unforeseen horrors that immediately begin to plague the two tenants.

The first evil manifests in the return of Jenny and her obnoxious personality. She declares that she is in fact there to serve them as the maid of the house. Both Bixley and Hammond are struck by her bubbly speech and incompetent farm-girl background, and Bixley immediately takes a disliking to her.

Not even the pitched terror of Jenny?s voice compares to what Hammond finds buried in the closet. There, hung up on his jacket, is presumably a dead body. Hammond immediately lets out a scream and faints onstage, and when she awakes she finds that she is the only one who saw the body. This becomes problematic when her secretary opens the door to a very empty closet.

Needless to say, this ordeal sends Hammond through a series of events that resembles the novels she writes. This time she finds herself in the very center of the enigma as opposed to her normal position as omniscient writer. She does not quite know how to handle the situation.

Matters become even worse off for her when she is forced to protect her promiscuous friend Lillian Seymour who, although already wed, marries a gentleman by the name of Lyle Rogers. Seymour deems it prudent for her image to say that Rogers is not her husband, but Mrs. Hammond?s husband. Thankfully, Mr. Richard Hammond is off at a conference in Chicago, but for most of the play, Hammond finds herself spinning an intricate (as well as hilarious) web of lies just to cover her friend.

In the play, Hammond is a very individualistic, strong woman who seems quite sure of herself. The sequence of events, however, begins to fluster her and cause her to doubt her capabilities. I think Rachel Martinez, a junior, acted this out perfectly.

All of the actors performed superbly, and I found it hard to choose my favorite, but I really believed Martinez?s portrayal of Hammond. I felt her exasperation over the entire situation, and I found her attempt at composure quite comical when put in contrast to the manic personalities of the other characters.

Somewhere between the middle section of the first act and the beginning of the second I began to become very bored. This arose not from poor acting but rather from poor writing. The play starts well, and ends beautifully, yet I found the middle so dry and uneventful that it nearly ruined the entire production for me.

However, just when I thought the play had lost all momentum, the third act began. I will not endeavor to tell you all that occurs in this final piece, but just know that it consists of nine or ten individuals running around manically in the dark looking for diamonds. It is glorious. It is fantastic. It is unutterably hilarious. This part of the part of the play was truly golden.

If you like comical dialogue and hilarious entrances and exits, this play is perfect for you. Certainly it failed to carry itself through the long and uneventful middle parts, but over all I found myself quite entertained. I laughed; I smiled. I found myself enthralled by a bunch of ludicrous people running around in the dark.

It’s not a piece of literature worthy of any large stage, but it surely serves its purpose as a high school drama. And, for me anyway, that was enough.

On top of that, the play also presented a simple but applicable message for all of us: Do not, under any circumstances, pretend to be married to someone who is not in fact your spouse.

Such fabrications often cause some sort of wild debacle that quickly gets out of hand. Just be honest. Honesty is honorable, and it keeps you out of trouble. And, in the spirit of truth-telling, I am going to honestly say to all of you that this play was delightful, and fun, and out-right hilarious. I highly recommend it to anyone searching for a small diamond of happy laughter.

Exit the Body will be showing this weekend at the Dan Pessano Theater, Oct. 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. These last three days will conclude the production’s six-day run.

For more information regarding dates and showtimes call 559.327.1347 or visit their website.

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

By |2013-10-14T00:00:00-07:00October 14th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Breaking Bad Ending Review NEEDS WORK

Breaking Bad has become one of my favorite shows. It is the story of change, how one man, Walter White, became a vicious drug lord.

Breaking Bad is a T.V. show that surrounds White and his family, they are a group of good people that end up in a terrible situation. White learns that he has terminal lung cancer and decides that the only way to leave his family enough money is to start making methamphetamine.

The last episode shows White returning to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to save Jesse and get revenge on his old partners for disowning him. He ends up sparing their lives in exchange for their help in giving his money to his family. He also frees his long time partner from slavery by killing his captors and, in the process, accidentally killing himself.

This is one of the few shows to end well. Others shows like Lost and Dexter ended terribly, for various reasons, but not this one. The ending was amazing, long time fans of the show will watch it with a tear in their eye because in the end from the beginning of the show to the end he loses more money than he makes for his family.

New fans of the series will want to go back and watch the awesome run of one of the best shows ever. Each and every character from this award winning show has some kind of resolution. They even bring back Jeese’s friends, Badger and Skinny Pete.

The way this episode is written is interesting. Instead of feeling like an ending it feels more like an epilogue. The real ending was two episodes ago this is just a wrap up.

Many people argue about the non-redeming nature of this show, saying it is not appropriate and teaches bad morales but, to me thats the point. Even after everything White has gone through he still ended up with nothing. This show is dark, it is meant to be.

This episode, once again, shows why these actors deserve every award they receive. Bryan Cranston gives the best performance of his life in this episode. The story of White is over and it could not have been more satisfying. Every single scene is interesting and well thought out.

I really enjoyed how the main writer, Vince Gilligan, managed to bring White back to his more science centered roots. In the last few episodes leading up to the finale, the show felt more action filled. However in the finale White went back to his Macgyver esque roots by jury rigging a machine gun to take out his enemies.

The finale of Breaking Bad was well made and beautiful. The last scene in particular brought a tear to my eye as we see a dying White walking through a meth lab reminiscing about what he has done like being the direct cause of the murder of his brother in law.

This was an appropriate ending to an awesome series. Every episode of this season raised the stakes and showed how amazing the writers and actors on this show can be.

The world of Breaking Bad is incredibly realistic. Every moment is well thought out. Every character stays true to the emotions and personalities that were set in season one.

Breaking Bad is a perfect example of how a show should end. Every moment is important and beautiful.

Twitter Handle:@EthanNathe26

By |2013-10-08T00:00:00-07:00October 8th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

'Africa's Unfinished Symphony' expands cultural perspective

Often in history classes, there is a feeling that although humanity has done horrible things in the past, the world is more civilized now. In America especially, it is easy to assume that others enjoy the same standards of security and stability that we do. This could not be more false.

Lucia Mann’s novel, Africa’s Unfinished Symphony, set in Africa from the 1970s to the present, still served to remind me that the safety enjoyed by Americans is not universal.

The book follows the life of Farida, a Kenyan girl born into the Aweer tribe. Her Muslim father, who wants a son, treats her horribly. Her mother, who follows a tribal god, treats her more kindly. Regrettably, she does not have the influence to prevent a barbaric tribal coming-of-age ritual that leaves Farida scarred and distraught.

Farida does not have much time to recover from this traumatic incident, however, because a rival tribe soon comes and slaughters everyone in her village, burning it to the ground. She alone survives, rescued by an Anglican minister and left to be cared for at a nearby Carmelite convent. She grow up there, and becomes a nun because it is expected of her, changing her name to Sister Bertha.

However, after suffering still more traumatic events, Bertha sees a ghost of a dead girl, which leads her to forget the Catholic tradition that she adopted and return to her tribal beliefs. The remainder of the story addresses her transition, its effects and Farida’s attempts to deal with her turbulent past.

Brutality is presented in various forms throughout this novel, showing the racial, religious and cultural tensions that still exist in Africa today. Because of this, the novel, though fictional, serves as a sort of expose of many violent and unconscionable customs in Africa, since these events do have a basis in reality. Africa’s Unfinished Symphony served as a good reminder to me that not everyone lives as Americans do.

My review has presented the story in a linear fashion, but in the book, the story jumps from one point to another frequently. While this adds a refreshing storybook feel, I felt that it occasionally obscured parts of the plot, which left me with mixed feelings about this plot element. Also, several chapters were devoted to characters other than Farida, which confused parts of the storyline.

However, the story is fairly compelling, showing violence and humanity along with courage and compassion. Although word choices occasionally puzzled me (the use of “until the cows come home” in the first chapter was particularly incongruous), Africa’s Unfinished Symphony still provided a cultural experience; just being exposed to ideas that were foreign to me as an American helped broaden my perspective a little.

Africa’s Unfinished Symphony runs just under 200 pages and is available on Amazon. Lucia Mann has also written two other books addressing racism and slavery.

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

For more reviews, read the Sept. 26 article, ‘The Shining’ exploits human fears, reality.

By |2013-10-04T00:00:00-07:00October 4th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

'The Shining' exploits human fears, reality

The Shining is an impressive feet of psychological horror. Written by Stephen King, one of the only people who gives H.P. Lovecraft a run for his money. It is a horror book about a young family moving into an empty, haunted hotel.

King offers some of the most scary stories ever. Author of things like IT and Pet Cemetery, King shows us exactly where our fears lay by using childish fears like clowns, the undead and ghosts to plague our minds with fear.

The Shining surrounds the Torrence family as they move into the Overlook Hotel to be the caretakers for the winter. The Overlook is in the middle of the Colorado mountains, and gets snowed in every year, so the owner employes a family to stay there and make sure the the place is still functional.

Jack Torrence, along with his wife, Wendy, and his son, Danny, move in and are trapped in what would seem to be a haunted hotel. The truly impressive part of The Shining is the way it draws from your mind to produce intense visuals such as an elevator full of blood that pours out all over a hotel lobby. This part is extremely intense.

There is another awesome part that shows Jack viciously pounding on the door with an axe trying to get to his family. This part is definitely one of my favorites because of the iconic line “Here’s Johnny” said by Jack while he breaks down the door.

One of my few problems with the book is its length. There seems to be a lot of parts that do not need to be there. Although these parts do help add a serious sense of suspense and dread, they still feel odd along with the better parts of the book. Like the lengthy beginning, they do not go to the hotel till at least a quarter through the book.

My other problem deals with the ending. Though I will not spoil it here, it ends abruptly and without much explanation. I’m hoping for some explaining in the sequel book, Doctor Sleep.

One of the really cool parts of this book is how it can be interpreted in so many different ways. There are several different point of views you can look at this book like the idea that the ghosts of the hotel possessed Jack and forced him to try to kill his family.

The other part that helps lend some interesting moments is that Jack’s son, Danny, is what’s called a shiner which means that he can see the ghosts that inhabit the Overlook. This helps gives us some of the scariest parts of the book such as when Danny enters room 217 which has the ghost of a woman that drowned in it. This part is super tense and when I read it I couldn’t put the book down.

There are many movie adaptions of this book, even one directed by Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Though, none of the movie adaptions completely capture the true horror of this amazing book.

The movie adaptions seem to go out of their way to change things in the book. Everything from the ending to the room number is different in the movie from the book.

There are a lot of things people take away from this book. Such as phrases which are used a great deal in the book to mean murder because it is murder spelled backwards. As well as “Here’s Johnny,” a now famous phrase which shows Jack beating a door down with an axe, help solidify nightmares for years to come. This is a very compelling read that will keep you up at night.

Some of the best parts are early on. By the end of the book, The Shining has lost a lot of steam that built up early on. Scenes like Danny’s encounter in room 217 as well as when wasps attack the family are some of the few parts later on in the book that feel memorable.

Although by the end of the book you feel for a lot of the characters, only a few will actually stick with you. Dick Hallorann is one of those characters. Dick is the man who teaches Danny about his power and, in the end, helps save both Danny and Wendy. Most of the other characters are important but in a book that only surrounds four or five people they feel forgettable.

The Shining is amazing. It provides a great amount of deep characters with realistic and interesting fears. It really hones in on the common fears that human beings have on a daily basis.

The Shining is available for purchase on Amazon or at local bookstores for between eight and ten dollars.

Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Sept. 19 article, ‘Enders Shadow’ provides relatable character, storyline.

By |2013-09-26T00:00:00-07:00September 26th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

'Enders Shadow' provides relatable character, storyline

Many authors have tried to capture the mind of a genius. Some have succeeded. None, however, have portrayed brilliance in a more intriguing fashion than Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.

Since a film rendition of this epochal science fiction novel is coming out, I really wanted to review it. Unfortunately, Tynin Fries, ’14, already did that. So here it is: a review of Ender’s Shadow, a sort of sequel to Ender’s Game. If you are going to read this, go read Fries’s review first. Things I say here will make much more sense.

Ender’s Shadow is not really a sequel, it’s setting places most of the book at the same time as the original. Because of this, I initially thought that the book would be boring, just because I knew much of the plot from the original book.

Fortunately, I was wrong. Ender’s Shadow is fascinating, following the early life and exploits of Bean, who eventually becomes one of Ender’s best friends.

Bean grows up in the slums of Rotterdam. Tiny for his age of four years, he is a sort of feral toddler, scavenging for food on the streets. Bean has no name, as far as he knows, until the leader of a gang of children dubs him “Bean.” With an already brilliant grasp of strategy, Bean convinces the leader, named Poke, to let him join. He tells her to force one of the street bullies to help their gang find food.

Poke manages to enlist a bully, named Achilles (pronounced Ah-sheel), but Bean insists she picked the wrong one, since Achilles is a schemer who has set his mind on dominating the small gang. Poke, however, ignores Bean’s entreaties to kill Achilles.

Achilles soon maneuvers to take control of the local soup kitchen, attracting attention from the International Fleet recruiter, a Catholic woman named Sister Carlotta. The International Fleet is, well, an international fleet designed to defeat the invading alien Buggers. She attempts to test the children by holding “school” for them for a few days, but really she wants to find out if Achilles is intelligent enough to go to Battle School. However, she is shocked at Bean’s initial test results, which far surpass Achilles’.

However, at this point, Achilles kills Poke, but only after Poke makes him promise not to kill Bean. This has a huge emotional impact on Bean, who until this point has been only cold and unemotional.

After this incident, Sister Carlotta begins testing Bean in earnest. His scores are almost impossible, especially considering that he is younger than most children taking the test. Soon he is admitted to Battle School, the International Fleet’s training program for commanders.

Despite the fact that all of the previous plot seems out of genre for the series, it is crucial for Bean’s character development. From here on this story begins to intersect with Ender’s more as Bean struggles through Battle School.

I was worried that when Bean reached Battle School his story would be exactly the same as Ender’s Game, ruining any originality the plot had to begin with. That does not happen.

While Ender tried to learn from the Battle School process, Bean tries to undercut it. Certainly, he is interested in tactics and learning, but he also resents all the manipulation that the administrators attempt. Ender works to pass the tests against the odds; Bean works to beat the Battle School at its own game. Bean is a sneaky little toddler. He does not buy anything that the teachers tell him, but he learns by sneaking around and finding out what he should not know. Soon, he has Battle School officials worried that he will find out too much.

Still, Ender and Bean eventually become close friends, since they are by far the most intelligent in the school. Bean and the rest of Ender’s chosen group have to defeat the Buggers, and the rest is sci-fi history.

I found the fresh perspective on Ender’s Shadow to be just as engrossing as the original. In the acknowledgements, Card notes that any discrepancies between the two books are intentional, to show differences in perception. I found that both intriguing and a little funny; if I were an author trying to write a sequel, I am definitely pulling a trick like that. Still, the small differences add to Bean’s character.

If there is a flaw to be found in this book, it is that the portion of Bean’s life in the slums of Rotterdam take a really long time. I know that it is key in developing his character, but I wanted to get to the stuff I recognized, like annoying bullies at the Battle School.

Overall, Card’s storytelling is excellent, and Ender’s Shadow is just different enough from its predecessor to add to the series. Bean is a believable character, if unusual, and I found myself rooting for the little genius. This book would make an excellent addition to any science fiction fan’s shelf.

Ender’s Shadow is the first book in the Bean branch of the Ender’s Game series. (The series splits two ways, one following Ender starting with Speaker for the Dead and another following Bean starting with Shadow of the Hegemon.) The book is about 400 pages, and is available for on Amazon or a local bookstores.

Ender’s Shadow is available for purchase on Amazon or at local bookstores for between eight and ten dollars.

For more reviews, read the Aug. 20 article, Fantasy book gives way to enticing storyline.

By |2013-09-19T00:00:00-07:00September 19th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Intense action game ends unexpectedly

Every once in awhile a game comes out that changes how video games and, by extension gamers themselves, are perceived by the rest of the world. The change started with the original Mario Brothers, it showed that games can hold a decent story. Then the popular science fiction game series, Halo, showed that that story can extend past the video game into books and now The Last of Us has changed the genre once again.

The Last of Us is an intense action, drama game that surrounds the characters of Joel and Ellie. Thrown together by hopeless circumstances these two unlikely heroes must work together to travel across America. Joel is 47 years old and has lived through an apocalypse and Ellie as a 14 year old girl who has never known anything different.

Created by the renown studio Naughty Dog, the creators of games like the Uncharted series and Jak and Daxter, The Last of Us has a very interesting twist. The game involves a kind of infection called Cordyceps. This infection, which actually exists but only infects insects, has evolved to infect humans. The disease grows on the brain and turns them into a mindless zombie.

One of the few problems with the game is that the enemies are easy to manipulate by doing certain things. For instance there were many times when I was right in front of one of the human enemies without him seeing me. The game had glitched and even though I was sitting right in front of him, he still didn’t see me.

Other than that, the game plays amazing. The melee in particular is very brutal and is one of the reasons that this game earns its mature rating. No matter how good the mechanics of the games are, the story is where it really shines.

The game takes over the course of a year. The world is left in ashes after an outbreak of Cordyceps infects over half the population.

For the most part you play as Joel taking a little girl named Ellie across what is left of America because she is immune to the Cordyceps. You are trying to get her to a group of people who call themselves the Fireflies.

The Fireflies are a group of people who are against what remains of the federal government. They work to try and overthrow the government. Throughout the year Joel and Ellie grow together as a team.

Okay guys, here is where we get into spoiler territory so beware, below is the end of the game.

SPOILER:

The game ends in one of the only ways it could without being disappointing. After finally making it to the Fireflies, Joel learns that the only way to make a cure from Ellie is to remove her brain and study the infection. They need to figure out why she is immune but of course this operation would kill her.

After all they’ve been through, Joel is not ready to just let Ellie die so he storms the Firefly base and kills everyone. Eventually you find Ellie in a medical bed knocked out, you take her and leave.

After Ellie wakes up, Joel lies to her. He tells her that she is not alone, there are other people that are immune and that the Fireflies are working to get a cure from one of them. Ellie is not sure whether or not to believe him and she makes him swear that what he said is true. He swears and the game ends.

The reason this is such a good ending is because throughout the game Joel becomes a bad guy. He, to save a girl who he considers his daughter, kills the last chance to save humanity. This dramatic conclusion is why this game is so good.

The The Last of Us is rated M for mature audiences and is available at most local stores.

For more reviews, read the Aug. 20 article, Fantasy book gives way to enticing storyline.

By |2013-08-27T00:00:00-07:00August 27th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Unexpected Victorian-era book reveals charismatic plot

I strongly dislike almost any novel set in the Victorian era. Consequently, when I looked at the back of a new fantasy series and saw a reviewer comparing the setting to Victorian England, skepticism was my first response. However, Imager by L. E. Modesitt Jr. far exceeded my expectations, proving itself to be one of the best fantasy books I have read all year.

In L’Excelsis, the capital of the country of Solidar, most of the power is controlled by the noble class, called High Holders. Merchant factors or members of various trade and art guilds fill out the middle class, and the poverty stricken lower class lives in slums infested with gangs. Also, a very few people, called imagers have the magical ability to visualize things into reality. However, their abilities are limited. For example, an imager can “image” a wide variety of objects, but if they attempt something that surpasses their ability, they will die.

The protagonist, Rhennthyl or Rhenn, faces a pressure with which many students can sympathize: His father wants him to work in the family business as a wool factor, but Rhenn cannot imagine anything more dull. Instead, he becomes an apprentice portrait painter, but his mentor seems to have no interest in his advancement. Since apprenticeship is required by the guild to become a master, his career seems to be on hold.

However, Rhenn’s stagnant career soon takes an abrupt turn. Shortly after discovering that he has some small imaging ability, his mentor and another apprentice are killed in an explosion which Rhenn’s imaging may or may not have created. Upon applying to other painting masters, he finds that none will accept him, not because his painting lacks skill, but because he has enough skill to threaten their status as experts. Desperate, Rhenn enters the Collegium Imago, where imagers are trained and isolated.

In this stage of the book, I was worried that Modesitt might make the Collegium into an imaging version of J. K. Rowling’s Hogwarts. However, few similarities actually occur, likely due to Modesitt’s older target audience and more complicated world. Aside from a few bullies, virtually no themes correspond with Rowling’s books.

One explanation for this is the change in tone upon Rhenn’s entry into the Collegium. Rhenn’s education includes philosophy and political science as well as more practical sciences like chemistry. Some of this education, particularly in Solidar’s politics and in ethics, is discussed at length with his mentor Master Dichartyn, adding a more philosophical tone to the book.

Rhenn is soon faced with his first real challenge as an imager. Two bullying imagers identify him as a threat and target him. After several veiled threats, the two corner Rhenn in a hallway, but Rhenn has learned to image an invisible shield around himself. Unfortunately, this shield is both exhausting to use and only serves to spread impacts. The bullying pair begin to collapse his shields, putting him in mortal danger. In an attempt to incapacitate them, Rhenn images lye into their eyes.

While his imaging does serve to stop their attacks, Rhenn now has another problem. The lye did far more damage than he had intended, blinding one imager and killing the other. While his plea of self defense is accepted by the imager’s court, he is far more worried about the father of the blinded imager, the powerful and vindictive High Holder Ryel.

As Rhenn continues to move up through the ranks of the imagers, he notices a disturbing pattern. Many of the younger generation of imagers are being targeted for assassination. Master Dichartyn suspects that a foreign power is attempting to destroy the Collegium by attrition, since the imagers are relatively few.

While Rhenn avoids multiple attempts on his life, he must also protect the interests of his family from Ryel’s plotting. But Rhenn must be careful; many of the answers he seeks are hidden behind the veiled words of those around him. He will need all of his imaging talent and ingenuity to untangle the web of intrigue that threatens his life, the Collegium, and his family.

I found Imager to be fascinating, from its meticulously crafted world to the subtle political manipulation that is prevalent in it. It is by far the most realistic fantasy I have ever read; Modesitt has a believable view of human nature, if a bit cynical. I enjoyed the philosophical aspect of it, because although I disagree with some of Modesitt’s conclusions, I enjoyed the thought provoking nature of many of the questions he considers.

I was also impressed with Modesitt’s ability to make a world with magic seem real. Part of this is his focus on human nature, but part is the brutal practicality of imaging. For example, most fantasy novels that I have read portray powerful attacking magic as huge dramatic fireballs or massive thunderbolts. Modesitt uses no-nonsense methods of fighting: poison imaged into an enemy’s brain or a bubble imaged into his artery. I found this refreshing, since the fireball battle was starting to get a little old.

Imager has its fair share of suspense as well, with plenty of fighting and conspiracy. Rhenn’s brilliant first person narration makes action scenes even more interesting. However, if you are looking for a book with the constant action and readable charisma of the Percy Jackson or Harry Potter series, look somewhere else.

While Imager has its own brand of gritty, cynical charisma, it requires a strong ability to understand context. Also, the action can seem slow at times. I would say that the only flaws worth mentioning are the lack of explanation of the setting in the beginning (thus the need for context skills) and the occasional gaps between significant scenes. Because of this, I would recommend this book to fans of fantasy or action, but with the warning that not everyone will enjoy it as I did.

Imager is the first in the seven-book Imager’s Portfolio, and is about 430 pages. It is available for purchase on Amazon or at local bookstores for between eight and ten dollars.

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

For more reviews, see “Bok shares personal experience in Escape from Slavery.

By |2013-08-16T00:00:00-07:00August 16th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Senior attends One Direction concert, enjoys performance

For around 20,000 fans, the wait was finally over to witness the closing tour for Europe’s hottest boy band One Direction, Aug. 9. Widely known around the world, singers Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson ended their tour in Los Angeles (LA) with four showings.

While holding major events like major league basketball games, the X-games and a multitude of concerts, the STAPLES Center in LA seemed a proper fit for this particular occasion for holding thousands of screaming Directioners.

The tickets for the concert were first placed for purchasing in August of 2012, but because the tickets for the two LA showings rapidly sold out two extra shows, on the ninth and tenth of August 2013, were added. Opening these two dates for extra shows proved to be beneficial since both also sold out quickly.

Upon arriving to the Staples Center, lines for the concert had already stretched around the building, crowding the sidewalk and entrance doors. Finally entering the building, booths of merchandise were set everywhere selling shirts and tank tops for both One Direction and opening Australian band, 5 Seconds of Summer.

While anxiously waiting in the reserved seats, large television screens on either of the stage prepared the audience by advertising commercials for One Direction’s supplies at Office Depot and for their new perfume, Our Moment. With these constantly showing, the crowd would scream and yell just being able to catch a glimpse of their faces.

5 Seconds of Summer opened the show with their pop, upbeat songs, including hit single “Heartbreak Girl”, instantly raising the audience to their feet. With the four member band, they each wowed the crowd with their instrumental skills and talent.

With each singing, Luke Hemmings and Michael Clifford on guitar, Calum Hood on bass, and Aston Irwin on drums, they easily grabbed the crowds attention with their rock songs and Australian accents.

Waiting 40 minutes to an hour, songs like “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and the “Macarena” excited and pumped up the crowd with dancing. Right before One Direction came on stage, the producers played their newest single “The Best Song Ever” music video which had everyone up and singing along.

Before the show began, the screens showed a video with the band having a house party, beginning with Payne opening the door and ending with all of them smiling for the camera after falling in the pool before the lights went out and “Up all Night,” a song off their 2012 album Up all Night, started up.

Following the opening number came songs off both of their albums, including Up all Night and Take Me Home, like “Heart Attack,” “More Than This” and “One Thing.” During the show, in a way, they swept everyone off their feet with their charming accents and hilarious personalities.

As the beginning of the song “Change My Mind,” the band stepped on a floating platform that took them across the audience, to a small stage in the middle of the stadium. From there, they sang a remake on “One Way or Another” (Teenage Kicks) that, when first coming out on Red Nose Day, all the money off purchasing the song went to support Comic Relief.

After the song ended, one of the activities that One Direction typically do is answer Twitter questions that are asked by certain people who are sitting in the audience. As they finish answering, the screen will tell them where they are seated in the audience and will wave to that particular section.

Riding the floating platform back to the stage, One Direction ended the concert with more of their songs, including top hits “Kiss You,” “The Best Song Ever” and “What Makes You Beautiful.”

One of the aspects of the concert that surprised me was the fact that despite having any choreography, they still seemed to make the crowd aflutter with their own crazy dance moves. They are known to not know how to dance so to see them acting goofy and seeing their true personalities was a highlight of the night.

When the concert finally ended, my ears felt like they were muffled because of all the screaming girls and loud music that it was difficult to hear anything around me. Eventually, the muted sound in my ears faded, but the excitement of the concert did not. I was more than happy to have attended the concert because it fulfilled and surpassed all of my expectations.

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

By |2013-08-15T00:00:00-07:00August 15th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

'Gatsby' embodies 1920s, takes risks (VIDEO)

The great, the powerful; Gatsby. The film of the summer has hit theaters with a bang as The Great Gatsby opened May 10 to its eager audience. This film created so much hype that it would be hard to live up to the expectations, but Gatsby never fails.

The Great Gatsby follows the story of the novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, previously adapted into a 1974 flick. But this film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, created an atmosphere so convincing that the 1920s seemed desirable.

The film is centered around a story, being told by Nick, about the infamous Gatsby and his forgotten legend. The reasons behind the telling of Nick’s story is the only detail that director Baz Luhrmann embellished on. With this being the only big change from the book, the flick was an incredible adaption.

Nick Carraway is a fresh face in the New-York world, moving to West Egg where he works in the bond business. His neighbor, later discovered to be Gatsby, lives in a mansion that is always holding lavish, extravagant parties.

These are not just regular parties, these are infamous, headline making parties, where no one receives invitations . . . except Nick. Gatsby’s parties are the epitome of the 20s, rich with jazz, dancing and scandal that draw the “new money” crowds towards Gatsby’s gates. Gatsby first makes Nick’s acquaintance at one of these spectacles, igniting Nick’s curiosity of the man’s true nature.

From that moment on, Nick becomes Gatsby’s target as he tries to prompt him to help with his life-long goal. Gatsby has been, unknowingly, climbing the social ranks to please Daisy, his first and only love. Despite the fact that Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), Gatsby holds on to the hope that they are meant to be together.

The rest of the movie reveals the struggles that Daisy experiences, torn between love, lust and luxury. Nick is overwhelming aware of Gatsby’s futile efforts to repeat the past and erase the past five years of Daisy and his relationship, but he is only a fly on the wall, refusing to interject against the immoralities surrounding him.

The scenes are split between’s Nick’s narration, presented as a memory, and fade into a present account of the happenings in West Egg, Long Island in 1922. This format of story telling is a refreshing contrast to the usual and predictable point of view that most modern movies use.

In telling Gatsby’s life story, Nick is writing its entirety in a journal as a form of therapy years after the fact. In some scenes throughout the movie, text illuminates the screen, reminding the viewer that Nick is narrating each scene. In my opinion, this was a clever way to portray the timeline of events, recounting the years-later feeling the novel gives off.

As actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan should applaud themselves. Together, their chemistry was extremely believable, even in the scenes where they were playing acquaintances to fool Tom. The mystery that DiCaprio was able to emit to Nick, and the viewer, was unparalleled. Mulligan as Daisy makes the viewer fall in love with her when they should be hating her.

Along with the acting, the costumes and sets were era-perfect; they represented the 1920s perfectly through the contrast of luxury and wealth. The wide-angle views of the Valley of Ashes gives off the exact gloomy, depressing atmosphere that Fitzgerald portrays in his novel.

In terms of soundtracks, this is one of the most interesting, risky sets of songs that I’ve ever seen in a movie. The album, available on iTunes, includes a variety of songs that would not normally be grouped together. Artists rang from Jay Z, Beyonce, will.i.am, Fergie and even The xx. The Great Gatsby producers took a major risk in using rap music, but it payed off; sometimes being different is best.

If seeing this movie is an option, as Gatsby would say: see it, old sport. This is one of the best book adaptions that I’ve ever seen, let alone an all-around good movie. The themes are for a more mature audience, but the level of entertainment this flick offers is excellent for everyone.

The Great Gatsby runs at 143 and is rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language.

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

For more reviews, read the May 9 article, The Feather Gamecast (VIDEO).

By |2013-05-13T00:00:00-07:00May 13th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Feather Gamecast (VIDEO)

With the ever-greatening presence of multimedia, a few Feather staffers decided to start a series devoted to reviews, walkthroughs and tips for many video games and consoles. These staffers use their interest in gaming as an outlet to expand The Feather’s multimedia diversity.

Senior Nathan Bender and Freshman Dalton Cowin channel their gaming expertise to provide tips for viewers. Every episode features a new game, and may contain a review, campaign walkthroughs, multiplayer tips, personal preferences or simple gameplay.

In the initial episode of The Feather Gamecast, Bender and Cowin feature Halo 3: Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) guiding the viewer through the first level of the campaign.

Bender personally believes that ODST is the best installment in the Halo series in terms of the single player game quality. The storyline and new approach to Halo provided a completely new gaming experience to the Halo veteran.

Cowin thinks that ODST has great gameplay and a mysterious, adventurous feel. Out of the Halo franchise, the game is unique and underrated, as the experience was not what the fans of the series were expecting.

Film disappoints with poorly executed story

No genre of film is more emotionally manipulative than the sports film. It is almost at the heart of the genre. Almost every sports movie has its fair share of slow-mo shots, soaring music and teary-eyed speeches.

Now, a few truly great films do exist in the genre (Rocky, Raging Bull and The Wrestler to name a few.), but those are also films that broke from the mold and transcended the genres that they were couched in.

You would think that a film about Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB), would truly be something special. It is a truly inspirational story, and one that could, again, make for a truly spectacular movie.

However, instead of relying on the strength of the incredible true story to carry the movie forward, the filmmakers instead relied on the same tired cliches that we’ve seen time and time again.

The film opens laughably, with Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), chomping a cigar and proclaiming in a gruff voice, “I think that a black man should play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.” His colleagues argue, saying that they won’t possibly be able to find a player good enough to transcend the prejudice and vitriol that people will hurl his way. Rickey leans back in his chair, puffs on his cigar and says “We’ll find one. I’m sure he’s out there, right now.”

Cut directly to Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), playing in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs, and doing an inhumanly spectacular job at it. It is a bizarre first ten minutes, and it makes for an annoying introduction to the world. It’s a wonder that these two scenes were not reshot.

It is not too long before the Dodgers catch on to Robinson’s talent and decide that they need him on their team. The scouts find him at a gas station, (don’t ask me how) fighting for his right to use the white-only restroom.

Long story short, after a brief stint with the Minor League Montreal Royals, Robinson is signed onto the Dodgers in 1947.

It’s really difficult to critique a movie like 42. On one hand, No on can deny that the film’s story is incredibly moving, because it is. It’s an amazing story. On the other hand, however, I, as a critic, can’t deny that the movie does not handle the story in a way that moved me.

Boseman’s performance is incredible, especially a late film scene where we see Robinson at his lowest. It is no coincidence that this scene is by far the film’s most powerful. It is an effective blend of great impression and great acting.

Harrison Ford, on the other hand, does a great imitation of Branch Rickey. However, his performance is incredibly one note, and at times downright embarrassing.

My main problem with the film is that it doesn’t feel like the filmmakers had any confidence in the story. With any other sports movie, I can kind of forgive the cliches because, well, the stories of most sports films aren’t that appealing. But this is Jackie Robinson, a man whose story is universally inspirational.

Why the filmmaker’s felt the need to end the film on a long slow-motion tracking shot of Robinson doing a victory run around the diamond while soaring music plays and the crowd cheers him on, is beyond me. It comes off as shockingly insincere.

All in all, 42 is a half-decent effort as a sports movie, but a beyond subpar effort as a Jackie Robinson biopic.

For more reviews, read the April 12 article, Bok shares personal experience in ‘Escape from Slavery’.

42 runs at 128 minutes and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements including language.

By |2013-04-23T00:00:00-07:00April 23rd, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Bok shares personal experience in 'Escape from Slavery'

Francis Bok was born into a privileged life, with a loving family and all of the freedom in the world. At age seven, when he went to the market to sell some goods, the market was raided and the Arabs killed all the men and took all of the women and children as slaves.

Bok was forced to care for his master’s livestock with the utmost care, and with nothing but scraps for return. He lived like this for ten years until his first escape attempt, which failed.

He finally escaped on his third try and sought the police for help, instead of helping him, they too forced him into slavery. After a few moths of unfair treatment, he decided to try and escape yet again.

With the help of a kind Arab, he was safely transported to a refugee camp where he met hundreds of fellow people from his Dinka tribe. He shared his story to the surrounding camps in hopes of finding someone with information about what happened to his parents and siblings.

The police soon came and arrested him for speaking against the govenment and kept him in prison for four years. He continually denied he was ever a slave or that he ever said anything against the government, and with no evidence to keep him, they let him go.

In prison, he realized that in order to truly be free, he needed to get out of Sudan as soon as possible and go to Cairo. With much dedication and hard work, Francis eventually made his way into Cairo and began his new life.

He met lots of new friends with good connections who encouraged him to apply for refugee status and to go to America. Shortly after his interview, he found himself as an official refugee.

He was also accepted to be one of the few to go to America and begin a new, free life. He struggled with the new culture and language here in the U.S., but was eventually approached by an anti-slavery commitee. They asked if he would tell his inspiring story, and shortly after he began telling his story, he was meeting many people in very high places; his story stil inspired people today.

Imagine swinging on your six foot tall father’s shoulders, looking over your lush green farm and hundreds of livestock with the warm breeze brushing against your skin. You feel safe and loved as your father tells you that he believes that you will one day do great things. You cannot help but feel proud because out of your several bothers and sisters, you are the one he believes will go far.

Now imagine waking up in a strange house, hearing people speak a language you are not able to understand, and feeling utterly alone. Seven year old Francis Bok was forced to spend the rest of his childhood years as a slave and being treated as nothing more than a hard working piece of meat in the novel Escape From Slavery by Bok and Edward Tivnan.

Had it not been for the requirement to read this book, I am positive I would have never given it a chance. I often find that biographical books are depressing and difficult to relate to, but this particular novel caught me by surprise; I could not put it down.

When I think of Africa, I usually think of dry, brown and I hate to admit, ugly terrain. But within the first five pages of the book, Bok had me adding it to my list of places to visit before I die.

He decribes it as full of life and beauty, with his fruit trees, endless green fields and thousands of livestock. This immediately got me excited to find what other things Bok would put into perspective for me.

When he was caputed by Giemma (his master), and was treated with such cruely and inhumanity, I instantly found myself hating everything he (Giemma) believed in and stood for.

This novel took me by suprise emotionally, in ways I never even thought possible. When Bok continually tried to escape, I realized that I was at the edge of my seat completely poured into those terrifying moments. I found myself sharing and, in a way, experiencing crucial moments with him.

As Bok arrives in Cairo and makes new friends, he finally knows what it is like to have friends other than animals for the first time. Can you imagine not being able to trust a single soul other than yourself for ten years of your life?

This book was written very well, and it immediately draws the reader in. Not only does it begin unexpecedly, but also had a very inspiring and heartwarming ending to it.

Anyone would be able to relate to this book, whether it be having trouble fitting in, feeling alone, having good friends that you enjoy spending your time with, or fighing for what is right. This book contains all of those and more.

I must admit at the very end when he is learing about the history and politics of Sudan, I found myself trudging along, but at the end of the day, reading through it all was worth it.

For more book reviews, read the March 4 article, Steinbeck elaborates on 1960s, expresses America.

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

Little Leaf Tea disappoints with poorly-made drinks

On a Friday after school, my friend and I decided to visit Little Leaf Tea in order to satisfy our tea cravings. I heard great reviews about the place and their variety of tea selection and knew that I would enjoy the gourmet tea.

They offer numerous types of tea, including exotic flavors such as Oolong tea, Artisan tea and White tea. The restaurant provides over 150 teas and they can be ordered both hot or cold, depending on the customer?s preference.

When I first entered the place, I could smell the pungent aroma from the tea. On the walls, they have different types of teas in big jars with names labeled. The pleasant aroma and the visual display of the teas definitely made it clear that they specialized in tea and my expectation grew. The restaurant is pretty small with about six tables inside. It resembles a family owned restaurant and provides a cozy environment.

As we approached the counter, we were greeted by a friendly worker who handed us the menu. When I opened the menu, I was surprised to find out that the restaurant not only had tea, but also variety of food items. The selection included bagels, salads and desserts such as cookies, danishes and fruit pies. Although I was tempted to order one of the pastries, I wanted to test the water first by tasting their tea. I ordered taro slush tea with pearl and my friend ordered iced Irish creme cherry.

The prices are pretty reasonable, since both of our drinks combined were around $8.00. They are cheaper than other tea and coffee places in town. Like Pearl Tea House includes pearls in their drink for free, Little Leaf Tea also adds their pearls in their drink with no extra charge; some places charge around $0.50-1.00 for pearls.

After we ordered our drinks, my friend and I sat in one of the tables and waited for our drinks to come. The atmosphere of the restaurant is pretty nonchalant, as they were not very busy at the time. There were few people inside reading and enjoying their drinks, just as in any typical restaurant.

After waiting about five minutes, our drinks came out. I was very excited to try my tea, since the vibrant color seemed like it was full of flavor. However, disappointment came as I took my first sip. Although the drink looked very tasty, it did not meet up to my expectation and I was completely dissatisfied. The drink did not taste like tea, but rather tremendous amount of powder and water mixed in. I could not taste the taro at all, and they put so much ice that I felt as if I was drinking water with powder.

Besides the tea itself, the pearls disappointed me as well. They were very mushy and got all over my teeth, when they are supposed to be chewy. It is safe to say that the taro tea at The Little Leaf Tea was the worst pearl tea I have ever tasted.

My friend?s drink also did not turn out very well. Her drink also tasted very bland and watered down. Both of the drinks that we ordered did not satisfy our tea cravings at all. We were almost certain that our tea was made by a newly hired employee. In fact, we visited local tea place, Teazer World Tea Market, in order to get the bad taste out of our mouths.

Overall, I was very disappointed with my experience at Little Leaf Tea. They do not live up to their reputation and excellent reviews. Although they are a bit cheaper than their competitors, I would rather spend extra few dollars and go to a different tea place, where tea actually tastes like tea, not powered water.

For more reviews, read the April 8 article, History Channel showcases ‘The Bible’ television series, Week 5 (VIDEO).

By |2013-04-09T00:00:00-07:00April 9th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

History Channel showcases 'The Bible' television series, Week 5 (VIDEO)

The Christian Bible, one story written over a period of 1600 years by over 40 different authors into 66 separate books, has been read, shared and taught to millions of people all around the world. Although parts and stories from this best-selling and most widely-known book in the world had been converted to film, no one had ever tried to boil the whole story down into a series until executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett came together to create the epic miniseries The Bible.

Premiering at 8 p.m., March 3, on the History Channel, the 10-hour production was broken up into 2-hour episodes and was shown every Sunday night through March 31. Each episode focuses on the lives and stories of some of the more prominent and major Bible characters, beginning with Abraham in Episode One and ending on Easter Sunday with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Feather provided a brief review for each of the episodes.

The final episode of “The Bible” begins with a short recap of the previous week and leads into the first scene, where a Roman soldier tells a crowd that Jesus had been sentenced to death. The Jewish priests approach Pontius Pilate and ask him to execute Jesus for them so they may not desecrate themselves before Passover. Despite a warning given to his wife in a dream, he reluctantly concedes to get rid of Jesus and decides to put the matter in the hands of the people. Since an old law allows Pilate to release one prisoner at Passover, the crowd asks for Barabbas, a convict guilty of murder, and then at the urging of the priests demand that Jesus be crucified.

Jesus is whipped and then adorned with a crown of thorns and a purple robe, mocking His kingship. After beating him and stripping him of his robes, Roman soldiers force him to carry his cross to Golgatha. Once they reach the top of the hill, Jesus is nailed to the cross and raised up to hang there. As Jesus says his final words, soldiers cast lots for his clothes, unceasingly mocking him. Two criminals hang beside him, one of whom jeers at Jesus and the other who asks that Jesus remember him in Heaven. When Jesus dies, conquering sin once and for all, the sky goes black, the temple curtain tears in two from top to bottom and there is a great earthquake, showing people that this truly was the Son of God.

Jesus is taken and laid in a tomb, but three days after his death, He unexpectedly rises and appears to his disciples. They continue their ministry for 40 days, and then Jesus is taken up into Heaven, leaving his disciples with his great commission to spread the gospel in all the world and with the promise of his Spirit to guide and empower them.

At Pentecost, three thousand people come to salvation, sparking a fire in the apostles’ ministry. Some, however, do not appreciate what the apostles are stirring up, and the early church undergoes great persecution, led by the Pharisee Saul. After the killing of many believers, including Stephen, Saul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus and is converted to Christianity. The Jews have a hard time believing that the man who was just trying to kill them would now be preaching to them, but he continues nonetheless.

Numerous disciples are killed by the Roman government, including Peter, James, Paul, Matthew and Thomas, but they are unable to get rid of John. In frustration, they exile him to the island Patmos, where he receives Revelation, the last book of the Bible. The movie ends with Jesus talking to John, his beloved, and promisng him that he is returning soon.

Like last week, I really enjoyed the finale of The Bible, and I am a little sad that the series is over. There were some parts, as there always are in Hollywood movies, that were a little questionable and some stories I was surprised that were skipped. But overall, I am really glad that they made this series and that it was so widely televised and viewed. The message is one that needs to get out, and the producers chose probably the most culturally relevant way to do it-through television.

Although the movie was not able to cover in depth many of the Old Testament stories because it spent so much time on Jesus, I am really glad that the producers showed as much of him as they did. He is central to the gospel message, He is the gospel message, so for them to show a minimal amount of him would have defeated the purpose of the movie ? to show viewers God’s love and grace for them and his desire for relationship despite the countless failures and falls.

Also, Jesus’ actor, Diogo Morgado, did a fantastic job in his role. I liked him in the fourth week, but my respect for him was taken up to a whole new level when I saw the crucifixion scene. He made it so real that I had a hard time remembering that I was watching someone act. He exuded pain and suffering yet mercy and forgiveness, and I was drawn to the scene more than I have been to any other graphic scene in all of the movies I have watched. I cannot think of a more perfect actor to play Jesus, and he was definitely one of my favorite parts of the whole series.

As always, there were some detail changes that I did not appreciate, but there certainly were not as many as the first three weeks. The stone at Jesus’ tomb is broken instead of being rolled away, Jesus comes and visits Mary in the tomb instead of the angel at first, Jesus walks through an open door instead of walking through a wall when he first appears to the disciples and Thomas is also with them the first time instead of only being there the second time. Whether it was condensed or just off, I do not understand why the producers felt the need to change parts of the story like that. If it was a lack of time, would it not take the same amount of time for Jesus to walk through a wall instead of waltzing through the door?

The crucifixion was pretty graphic and bloody, but I am really glad this time that they emphasized the brutality with which the Romans killed Jesus. It looked and sounded so real, and every crack of the whip on Jesus’ back and pound of the nails into his hands made me wince. If they had played that down at all, I think viewers might have missed just how much pain and suffering that Jesus went through for them. I really hope that they see how much they are worth to Jesus for Him to leave Heaven and come to Earth to be murdered by those he was dying to save. If viewers walk away with this, in my mind the series has been a success.

As the producers said at the beginning of the series, the theme of “God is with us” does remain a thread throughout the whole story, in the first three weeks with his presence, provision and protection for the Israelite people and then in the final two with Jesus coming to Earth and the Holy Spirit living inside of and moving in the early church. In the Old Testament episodes, this phrase is said over and over as a source of hope in the face of trials and obstacles. Although it is never said in the New Testament episodes, it does not need to be because Emmanuel, “God with us,” truly is with the Jews, in body as well as in Spirit. I was not sure that this theme would be kept for the duration of the series, but I thought they stuck with it well.

At the very end of the movie, the basic gospel message is given using flashbacks on Jesus’ teaching and ministry and his Revelation to John on the island of Patmos. I am so glad that the producers used three minutes to wrap up everything that was shown in the whole series. It would be a shame for them to have spent ten hours presenting God’s redemptive story and to have missed the wrap-up that drives the message home. If viewers missed everything else, this is the one thing I hope they would walk away with- Jesus’ desire for reconciliation with all people, hIs sacrifice to make that possible, his call to spread the gospel and his promise to return soon.

Overall, I enjoyed the series and I am glad I watched it. There definitely was a lot of emphasized blood and violence and fight scenes, especially in the Old Testament episodes, but I felt it was a pretty accurate depiction of the Bible, aside from the changes and additions they made in some scenes, details and attitudes of the characters and scenes. I honestly have no idea what it was that the producers thought they would gain by altering God’s inspired word, as if human ideas are better than his, and I have issue with the artistic liberties they took with a true story like this. It is one thing to take a fiction novel and make a few adjustments, but to take the Bible and decide that it is not good enough is not okay, especially for producers who are believers. An author never includes details for no reason; there is always a purpose for the way he writes his story.

I would suggest this movie to people, although I would not recommend it for a family movie night with little kids because of the violence. I would, however, just make sure to inform them of the artistic license that was taken with the story so they did not go into it thinking it was perfect. Despite the changes the producers made, though, I think the message that the producers wanted to portray of God’s continued love for his people still came across. I really hope that the show’s 13+ million viewers pick up what it puts down; I know I did.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @JennaWeimer42.

For a review on the previous week, see the April 2 article, History Channel showcases ‘The Bible’ television series, Week 4 (VIDEO).

By |2013-04-08T00:00:00-07:00April 8th, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments

'Newsies' impresses with choreography, acting (VIDEO)

From the beginning, the audience of the Nederlander Theatre were instantly intrigued. Immediately I thought of a Disney’s version of Magic Mike but without the provocative plot or scandalous dancing. Opening with two shabby homeless men singing their heart away into the early morning, they tell the story of a group of Newsies who stand up to the all powerful Joseph Pulitzer.

Based on the 1992 Disney movie, Newsies premiered world wide on September 21, 2011, and brought to Broadway in 2012. The theatrical play is directed by Jeff Calhoun and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli; the show still proves to be one of the most popular selections on Broadway.

Newsies, set in 1899, is the story of a group of orphans selling newspapers just to make ends meet in the impoverished streets of New York. Jack Kelly (Corey Cott) and Crutchie (Andy Richardson), along with a group of others, are tired of being bullied by the evil Pulitzer who raises prices on the newspaper for the newsies, as a tactic to sell more papers. This is a tale of nobody’s who are in search of a way to broadcast their voice to show the corruption within “The World” newspaper.

Jack Kelly is torn between his dream of traveling to Santa Fe and staying in New York to help the newsies. The constant struggle between leaving and running away was a classic fight or flight moment. The audience sympathetically wanted to side with Jack but could not, knowing the right thing to do was to stay and fight back. The question that that I asked myself throughout the night was “Would the storyline change if Kelly left to Santa Fe?”

Kelly must do his best to motivate the crew and keep them on their feet; with the cost rising of newspapers. Kelly organizes a union to go on strike. In the midst of coordinating the event, for a time, he is bribed by Pulitzer to turn his back on his lifelong friends and run to Santa Fe and never look back or else he will be sent to the local juvenile delinquent jail: “The Refuge.”

The story continues with the scenes of the newsies gathering and conspiring how to overcome the recent rise of the cost of the newspapers. From here the singing and dancing becomes intense and the crowd is constantly clapping in awe of the performance. The audience is amazed with the successful completions of backflips and splits; some seemed more impressed with the harmonizing voices.

For a small time in the show Kelly does turn his back, but his newfound friend Dave (Ben Frankhauser) reminds him of his friend, Crutchie, who was abducted and sent to juvenile services during the first strike. Together with the support of other newsies from Harlem, the Bronx, Queens and other notable cities they stand up to Pulitzer who is forced to compromise with Kelly. Of course the Newsies won.

The play ends with infectious need to sing along and fantastic choreography which caused me to want to stay awake during the show. Hence, this would be the first time I have stayed awake during a musical. No one seemed too displeased with the play itself. In fact, the choreography was the highlight of the evening. The biggest hit of the night was the song “Seize the Day.” The song recurred thoughout the night and was popular among the audience.

The wardrobe for the characters amazingly reflected the time period in the musical. The detailed work was shown throughout the entire night on each character. It amused me to see the characters clothes portray their personality in the musical. But I commend Richardson who played Crutchie for his ability to actually fool the audience members into thinking he was actually crippled.

The actors are indeed talented and displayed that during the play. The actor that especially drew my eye was Nicholas Lampiasi, who played Les, the youngest cast member. During the entire night the crowd would “ooooh” and “awww” at the facial and physical expressions the kid was capable of.

The actors definitely made a huge impact. The plot may not have been the best, since the 1992 movie was a dud. The muscular studs that were bulging out of their clothes kept the audiences’ attention through the night. The combination of good-looking men and heavenly voices mixing together made the play more enjoyable. Although, I was shocked to see less than a handful of female actress included in the musical. Overall I could watch newsies all over again and still have the initial shock of excitement.

To watch the trailer for the Broadway show, Newsies, visit Newsies, The Musical, on YouTube.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @StephanMelendez

For more reviews, read the April 2 article, History Channel showcases ‘The Bible’ television series, Week 4 (VIDEO).

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

History Channel showcases 'The Bible' television series, Week 4 (VIDEO)

The Christian Bible, one story written over a period of 1,600 years by over 40 different authors into 66 separate books, has been read, shared and taught to millions of people all around the world. Although parts and stories from this best-selling and most widely-known book in the world had been converted to film, no one had ever tried to boil the whole story down into a series until executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett came together to create the epic miniseries “The Bible”.

Premiering at 8 p.m., March 3, on the History Channel, the 10-hour production was broken up into two-hour episodes and will be shown every Sunday night through March 31. Each episode focuses on the lives and stories of some of the more prominent and major Bible characters, beginning with Abraham in Episode One and ending on Easter Sunday with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Feather will provide a brief review for each of the following episodes. Check back every week through Easter to read the latest update on the series.

Once again, this week?s episode began with a snapshot recap of the whole series, from Noah in the ark to Jesus beginning his ministry with Peter. The scene transitions to the Pharisees teaching by the law and the crowds flocking to Jesus, transfixed by his teaching and his words. Despite the many miracles Jesus performs, including the feeding of the 5,000, the healing of lame and leprous men, his walking on the water and his raising Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees remain doubtful and scorn his teaching, what they believe to be blasphemy.

Jesus calls his disciples from the most looked down upon and unlikely walks of life, including fishing and tax-collecting, and people begin to notice the reason Jesus is with them: to save not the good but the sinners. In the midst of political unrest and rebellion, the Jews begin to believe that Jesus is the leader they have been waiting for to rise up and defeat the Romans. However, Pontius Pilate begins to feel threatened by the crowds that Jesus attracts and the Pharisees desire to get rid of this “blasphemous” teacher and his unorthodox ideas.

As Passover nears, Jesus continues his ministry to sinners and saints alike despite the opposition he faces from the teachers of the law. Taking advantage of every opportunity he has to teach, Jesus gives his famous Sermon on the Mount, saves an adulterous woman about to be stoned, turns the market in his Father’s temple upside down and warns people of the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders, continuing to share a message of grace and show the people that he really is the Son of God. The Pharisees, disgusted by his message and methods, begin to plot against him, looking for any way to convict him and condemn him to death.

Deciding upon blasphemy as the charge, they talk Judas, one of the 12 disciples, into leading them to Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver, and the guards set out to arrest Jesus. Meanwhile, Jesus is eating his last meal with his disciples, known as The Last Supper, and informing them of his coming death. He goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and then is arrested and taken by the Roman guards to court. Here, the movie leaves viewers with Jesus condemned to death and on his way to trial before Pilate, the story to be picked up again in next week’s conclusion.

Out of all the episodes so far, this week’s has been my favorite. I was not too repulsed by the blood and gore, but even more than that, I think the storyline and characters really remained true for this episode.

As far as the violence goes, I do not feel that this episode contained as many graphic scenes than the previous weeks. I did close my eyes for the parts I thought would have a lot of blood, because personally I do not like people getting hurt, but there were certainly less times that I felt the need to look away than there have been in the past. Interestingly, whether or not the producers intended to create this effect, it seemed like the violence happened wherever the Romans were, and that peace reigned wherever Jesus was, obviously until his arrest. As a viewer, I did not fear bloody scenes as much when Jesus was around.

I really like this Diogo Morgado (Jesus), and although he does look like an American Jesus, I love the way he is depicted. He definitely nails the authority, gentleness, compassion, love, mercy and power all in one person, especially in the sincerity in his eyes. Out of all the characters so far, Morgado is my favorite, hands down. Roma Downey and Mark Burnett made a great choice of an actor; he is perfect for this role.

Although it is not specifically stated, the theme of “God is with us” is more prominent in this episode than it has been in any of the others, and rightly so. Whether or not people realized it, Jesus was God with them, now in flesh rather than only in Spirit. Once again, the producers nailed the prominence of God’s presence with his people.

During the week of Passover they started labeling the days until the festival to give viewers a timeline in their minds counting down to Jesus’ arrest. It was a nice touch and it created a sense of anticipation and dread for the crucifixion. Labels like that are a little thing, but it helped a lot to put the events with approximately the right time period.

There were a couple of details in Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead that were inconsistent with the actual story, but other than that, the movie stayed pretty true to the story. Out of all of the episodes, it seems like this one has deviated from the Bible the least. I was pleased with the accuracy, and although I was a little frustrated with the Lazarus scene, I am glad that they included it in the movie. Translations, interpretations, creativity and artistic license will always play into the way scenes are depicted, and what is most important is that Jesus’ power over even death was shown in that scene.

Jesus’ various teachings were woven well into his interactions with the people and with the Pharisees. In many places, “The Bible” is unclear as to where and when some of the lessons were taught. It is easy to say as a viewer, “Jesus didn’t say that then/there,” but I thought the producers did a good job of incorporating and placing those unclear parts into reasonable scenes.

The Pharisees were accurately portrayed as completely ridiculous, and their interactions just sealed the deal in my mind. Even down to the way they dressed and talked to each other, their attitudes entirely convinced me that they really had no idea of what they were talking about and of how deceived they really were. Bravo to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

One more scene I found pretty interesting was the one where Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. It flashes from him to the Pharisees praying to God, then to Pontius Pilate praying to his god. These shots well contrasted the intimacy between Jesus and his Father, the distance the Pharisees felt from God because of their many rules and regulations and the real lack of a god that Pilate and his people had. It made me think about their forms of religion in a way I never really thought about it before. When an overview movie about The Bible can get a Christian to think about a part of the story in a new way, that’s pretty good, and I was pleasantly surprised by that.

Overall, I have enjoyed this episode more than any other. I do not think I really have any bad things to say about it. I know next week is going to be pretty gruesome because it is the crucifixion week, but as far as staying true to the story, I am encouraged by this week’s showing and look forward to the conclusion.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @JennaWeimer42.

For a review on Week Three, see the March 21 article, History Channel showcases ‘The Bible’ television series, Week 3 (VIDEO).

By |2013-04-02T00:00:00-07:00April 2nd, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|1 Comment

History Channel showcases 'The Bible' television series, Week 3 (VIDEO)

The Christian Bible, one story written over a period of 1600 years by over 40 different authors into 66 separate books, has been read, shared and taught to millions of people all around the world. Although parts and stories from this best-selling and most widely-known book in the world had been converted to film, no one had ever tried to boil the whole story down into a series until executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett came together to create the epic miniseries The Bible.

Premiering at 8 p.m., March 3, on the History Channel, the 10-hour production was broken up into 2-hour episodes and will be shown every Sunday night through March 31. Each episode focuses on the lives and stories of some of the more prominent and major Bible characters, beginning with Abraham in Episode One and ending on Easter Sunday with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Feather will provide a brief review for each of the following episodes. Check back every week through Easter to read the latest update on the series.

Episode Three of The Bible started with a brief recap of the last episode and then gave a teaser for this week’s section. The movie opens in Jerusalem with Zedekiah, king of Judah, and his repeated failure to heed the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah. The Babylonians lay siege to Jerusalem for 18 months, then attack. People are killed, the king escapes and is later taken captive, the city conquered, the holy articles taken from the temple and the temple burned.

Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego) are captured by the Babylonians and taken to serve in the king’s court. While they are there, Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and is promoted in the court. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to bow down to the golden image, are thrown into the fiery furnace, and emerge from the flames unharmed.

Cyrus the Great conquers Babylon and Daniel ends up in a pretty high position, much to the disgust of the other officials. Their plan to get him into trouble faultlessly succeeds and gets Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. Daniel prays and comes out untouched, and Cyrus observes that, once again, “God is with you.” The king allows the Israelites to return home to Jerusalem, but Daniel knows that his people will be ruled by a new empire, the Romans.

From here, the movie transitions into the oppression of the Israelites and the brutality with which the Romans ruled. Mary, a virgin, and Joseph, her husband-to-be, are told that she will give birth to the Son of God, Jesus. Caesar Augustus calls a census and they return to Bethlehem, where Mary delivers Jesus, fulfilling hundreds of prophecies from hundreds of years ago. Shepherds and wise men follow the star and come to worship the baby. King Herod finds out about the new King, flips out about his eventual loss of power and sets out to eliminate this threat by killing all of the Hebrew baby boys under two years old. Joseph has a dream and the little family leaves for Egypt to escape the slaughter.

Meanwhile, Herod is dying and kills his son, and the people revolt only to be crushed by the Romans’ brutal response. Pontius Pilate fears any gathering of people as a threat to his dominance, John the Baptist prepares the way for the Messiah and Jesus returns to Galilee. John baptizes Jesus and Jesus goes to the desert to fast and pray before the start of His earthly ministry. Satan enters the scene and tempts Him, but Jesus stands firm and Satan flees.

John the Baptist has been arrested for preaching about Jesus and he waits in a prison cell to talk to Herod. In the meantime, Jesus meets Peter and goes out with him onto the lake. Flashback to the prison and John is beheaded when he refuses to stop preaching. At the Sea of Galilee, Jesus has just called His first disciple. The movie leaves us here for the week with Jesus’ invitation to Peter to join Him in becoming a fisher of men.

This week the differences in the way certain events occurred were more prominent, although I do not think there were more differences than last week. Some details are off, like who laid siege to what city, where angels spoke to people, what happens to minor characters like guards and the way some people said or did things.

King Nebuchadnezzar in his state of insanity ends up in a dungeon instead of a field, Cyrus throws only one of the officers who had plotted against Daniel into the lion’s den instead of killing all who were in on the plan and their families, the angel casually talks to Joseph on the street instead of coming in a dream, and the wise men come to the manger scene instead of arriving when Jesus was older.

This episode was pretty graphic again, and I was a little sad to see that. Personally, I do not really like watching a bunch of blood and gore, and sword-stabbing and putting eyes out is not my idea of an enjoyable and heartwarming movie. Of course, the Bible is not a G-rated book, but I did not really expect to have to cover my eyes and ears to avoid seeing people have their throats slit. The violence was not created; it was just emphasized.

I am continually in awe of the location the producers picked to film. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and really contributes to the authenticity of the series. The special effects have been really good, and I think their role and quality in the fight scenes have definitely helped this movie seem so much like Hollywood.

The movie skipped some major parts in Bible stories, and even some major Bible stories, I think, but it has prompted me to read through the whole book, cover to cover, to recover some of those details. With the aspect of mystery that the producers give, despite the gaps, the series is likely to cause many viewers to pick up the Bible and read it for themselves.

There are a bunch of historically accurate details, which add to the story, but there are also a lot of skipped Biblical details. As I have watched the series, the thing I have to keep reminding myself is that certain parts were not necessarily recorded in the Bible but that they could have happened.

I was disappointed that they did not include some elements of a few scenes, like the dove in Jesus’ baptism. Yes, 95% of everything that happened in the movie did happen in the Bible, but it did not necessarily happen that way.

I feel like we kind of rushed through the Old Testament, too. I know Jesus is the main message of the Bible, but at only halfway through the series, we were already through everyone else. It would have been nice to see Old Testament characters such as Esther and Joseph portrayed also before moving on.

Like the last episode, this installment has also deviated a little bit from the story, not so much in the actual plot but in the way things happened. It definitely is the Hollywood rendition of the Bible, but despite the gaps and the gore I really am glad that it is being shown on a network like the History Channel. I look forward to next week’s section of the series, especially how they depict Jesus’ miracles and ministry.

So far, the producers have stuck with their desired theme of God’s love, mercy and grace for His people regardless of their failures and shortcomings. The one line that seems to tie the whole series together is “God is with us,” and they truly have shown His working in and through those whose hearts are set on Him. Although not everything is dead-on in detail, I think The Bible has fulfilled its intended purpose. I am really excited about the message this series portrays and I eagerly anticipate the next episode.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @JennaWeimer42.

For a review on Week Two, see the March 13 article, History Channel showcases ‘The Bible’ television series, Week 2 (VIDEO).

By |2013-03-21T00:00:00-07:00March 21st, 2013|Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized|0 Comments