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A&E

Andrew Jackson is a rockstar

By Charlotte Woo

Andrew Jackson was not the man history depicts him to be. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackon.JPGA musical loaded with satire, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” is the story of our rock star seventh president, Andrew Jackson. Book writer Alex Timbers and composer Michael Friedman use humorous wit to display that the history of the United States “just got sexypants.”

            “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” premiered in Los Angeles in 2008 before moving to the off-Broadway Public Theatre in New York during the month of May 2009. The show eventually opened on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre to positive reviews during the fall of 2010, but closed after three months due to poor attendance.

            San Francisco Playhouse secured the rights to the show that would serve not only as the opening production of their tenth season, but the first production in their new space on Post Street. The direction by Jon Tracy is a great spin on the original material. The acting is extremely high-energy and very in-your-face, which works in the show’s favor.

            Nina Ball’s set designs are a step back from what is normally expected of a Broadway musical. Ball uses minimalist and versatile designs to go a long way. Levels at four different heights and curtains for blocking make the production vulnerable, as the audience can see pretty much everything depending on the viewpoint from the house. The costume designs of Abra Berman are just the right balance of modern style and the style of the 1820s/30s. With the addition of a jacket or hat, the actors who play multiple characters seem like entirely different people.

“WWE ‘13” beats down on the competition

by Jacob Ortega

 

Yes, I'm aware that professional wrestling isn't an actual combat sport. wwe 13 cover art.jpgIn reality it's more like a carefully choreographed dance, albeit more dangerous. World Wrestling Entertainment is among the largest and most successful companies in the world today, so it's no surprise that they make tons of money off video game sales. I have a long history of watching the WWE and playing games associated with it, so I decided to pick up a copy of “WWE '13,” THQ's newest installment in their line of WWE games. As a fan of wrestling and wrestling games I had high expectations for “WWE ’13,” most of which were met.

       Being the sequel to last year's installment, “WWE '13” uses the same foundation as “WWE '12” and improves on its predecessor in many ways. The in-ring combat of “WWE '12” remains mostly untouched in this sequel, which makes sense considering that the faster pace and simpler interface that “WWE ‘12” provided over its prequels were some of its best features.

       Strikes and grapple moves are quick and easier to do in “WWE '13” than in previous titles, and the time a wrestler needs to recover from an attack is sufficient to keep the match fast-paced while maintaining the dramatic feel of the game. The amount of moves each wrestler has at their disposal is definitely enough to keep matches varied, regardless of which wrestlers you pick. That won’t be a problem, considering that “WWE ‘13” has the largest roster of any wrestling game ever, featuring over 70 individual wrestlers from the past and present.

       With many returning features being untouched in “WWE '13,” the subtle changes to gameplay are very noticeable. The changes to in-game physics make the game feel more realistic (whatever that’s worth in “sports entertainment”). This can be seen in the way submission maneuvers work. The button-mash-fest “Breaking Point” submission system is still in place, pitting both players in a battle of button mashing to determine whether a wrestler submits or breaks free from a submission hold. What’s different to the system is that the defending wrestler has an option to pull themselves closer to the ropes in an attempt to break the hold (this is called a rope break). Moving along the idea of “realism” is the “experience” setting in the pre-match menu. This sets how much punishment a wrestler can take before being successfully pinned, allowing you to set up short squash matches or long, warlike Wrestlemania main event matches.

        Unlike recent wrestling titles, “WWE ‘13” focuses on the WWE’s “Attitude Era” (which lasted from September of 1995 to March of 2001).  Following suit, a large number of wrestlers from the Attitude Era are available to play, and the “Road to Wrestlemania” single-player mode from previous titles has been replaced by the new “Attitude Era” mode. In this new mode you play as different wrestlers throughout the Attitude Era, reliving moments that defined their careers. While the mode lets you play through the WWE’s violent history, it dares not to show some scenes from the past, mostly the ones that were caked with too much blood for the little kids of today.

        Any fan of wrestling video games loves the customization options that wrestling games give to the players, and they will be happy to see that the creator suite has been upgraded in “WWE ‘13.” Fan favorite features, like wrestler creation, arena creation and move-set creation, return. They are accompanied by new modes, such as championship title editor (allowing you to edit championship belts at will). The create-a-finisher mode has been replaced by create-a-move, which allows players to assign created moves to your wrestler’s arsenal more freely. The move-set creation mode includes every move from “WWE ‘12” with a bunch of new moves, which will make many wrestling game fans extremely happy.

        The “WWE Universe 3.0” mode is very solid. The mode is meant to add a bit of roleplaying to the game, creating matches and going through a calendar much like the WWE does. It also includes branching storylines, which give each story angle depth and add multiple possible endings for each angle. Players can also add their own created storyline to Universe mode, opening up many options that can make each gamer’s own experience unique. THQ has done a decent job at this in the past, but they really nailed it here.

        Also improving in “WWE ‘13” is the visual and audio presentation. This is a big part of the game, as it is a big part of the WWE in real life. The sounds of the crowd are clear and exciting, as is the entrance music for wrestlers. Even the in-match commentary is improved—at least in the Attitude Era mode. The commentary includes a wide mixture of dialogue and storylines depending on the time in history you are playing through, which adds a bit of freshness to that mode to separate it from other modes in the game. The commentary for standard exhibition matches, however, is about as bland as it was in previous years. Much of the commentary dialogue in normal matches is reused from last year’s edition, with slight changes to address the newer wrestlers.

        The one part of “WWE ‘13” that irked me beyond comprehension was the animation of certain maneuvers. The idea of the game is to capture the feel of an actual WWE wrestling match, and a big part of that is how specific throws and attacks work. When I recognize a move, but its animation is awkward or differs too far from what it looks like in real life, it annoys me greatly.

        Overall, “WWE ‘13” is a prime example of a game that excels in many areas but is held back by a few flaws that keep it from being a truly amazing experience. Hardcore fans of the WWE won’t want to miss this one, but critics might ream the game for some gameplay issues. “WWE ‘13” is a game I will be playing for a while, primarily because of its abundance of customization and history.

4 out of 5; while it isn’t perfect, it is still a lot of fun.

“Twelfth Night” casts spell of romance and hilarity over Lincoln

by Serina FangIMG_4246.JPG

Schadenfreude, long-lost siblings, and love triangles more tangled than the earphones of your iPod are all part of ALHS Drama Department’s fall play, “Twelfth Night or What You Will” by William Shakespeare.In this latest drama production, a poignant love story and humorous subplot come together to make a completely heartwarming comedy. 

 

The story of “Twelfth Night” takes place on the island of Illyria, though in this interpretation Illyria is an island off the coast of San Francisco with the time set in the early 1950’s. Julia Sayavong stars as the main protagonist, Viola, a young woman washed of aristocratic birth who has lost her twin brother in a shipwreck and was washed ashore on Illyria. Viola disguises herself as a young man called Cesario to serve the Duke Orsino (Martin Novitski). A love triangle ensues as Orsino sends Viola to deliver his messages of love to Lady Olivia (Kameron Toliver-Grays), but Viola is in love with Orsino herself. To further complicate matters, Olivia becomes infatuated with Viola disguised as Cesario and is also unwittingly involved in a practical joke played by her servants on her head servant Malvolio (Barrett Courtney).

 

Many would think a Shakespeare work is difficult to understand, the humor doubly so. However, the cast does an excellent job of getting the jokes across with wonderful acting, capturing the audience with passionate delivery and funny antics. Daniel Fielding, who plays the jester Feste, gets a majority of the play’s humor across to the audience with his overblown silliness while delivering his lines as well as additions such as skillful juggling and an amazing singing voice. Drama club veteran Barrett Courtney also does an amusing portrayal of the smug, holier-than-thou head servant Malvolio by speaking in a condescending, nasally voice. Even when Malvolio is utterly depressed after he finds out he’s been made fun of in a prank, Courtney’s performance manages to get the audience to by sympathetic and laugh at his character’s unfortunate situation because he looks and sounds so silly even when sad.

 

What I liked most in the play were the stage settings. The backdrops were beautifully painted, and, coupled with the bright lighting, the stage truly resembled a warm, sunny island with a distinct Mediterranean feel. Even though this version of “Twelfth Night” is set in the fifties, the costumes and jazz music do not clash horribly with the Mediterranean-like background. The ambient lighting and the vibrantly painted backdrops created a very romantic atmosphere, which drew the audience further into the story.

There were cheers and tears as the comedy drew to a close. The cast and crew were brilliant in this production, and I look forward to seeing another play performed by them. 

Owl City has arrived at The Midsummer Station

by Douglas Wong

 

Though Owl City’s latest album, The Midsummer Station, wasn’t actually released mid-summer, it is still as hot as a midsummer bonfire.Owl City.jpg

         Owl City is an electronic band composed mainly of Adam Young, but he does have other musicians touring with him. Young is known for the hits “Fireflies,” “The Saltwater Room,” and his most recent work with Carly Rae Jepsen, “Good Time.” All three hits have peaked the Billboard Hot 100, with “Good Time” reaching number eight. All three of his hits are collaborations and follow his conventional rhythmic style.

         Young still follows his main upscale rhythm in his current album. Compared to his previous works in Ocean Eyes, he is consistent with the flow of his songs by beginning with a slower rhythm and gradually increasing it with a drop, matching with the lyrics. A drop of course, is a transition into the next part of the song generally using bass.

         After listening and looking over his song lyrics, I realize that most of them are about spending time with a person. That is something that a regular listener, such as myself, probably would not have noticed. For example, the chorus Young and Jepsen sing in “Good Time,” “I'm in if you're down to get down tonight” and “We don't even have to try, it's always a good time,” they always refer to another person with them. His reference to being with another person reflects the fact that most songs now are about love in some kind of way no matter the genre. In no way is this bad, it’s just point to the fact that music today follows a general pattern.

         The song, “Silhouette” is the one song I would say strays from the main rhythm of the whole CD. Instead of using his electric beats, he uses a piano. The song mainly focuses on Young’s melodic tone. Any listener can hear the calmness in his voice as he sings. In my opinion, the background music should not be overpowering a song only the singer’s voice should. Owl City hits the balance perfectly with this song.

“Embers” feels as if it were played by a rock band and not by an electronica artist. With no electric beats, but instead actual guitars and drums, the song still has an upbeat tone to it. Young still follows his main rhythm to all of his songs, slow then increasing through a drop, even without his electronic instruments.

         Overall, this album is stuffed with amazing songs. Young wrote each song with its own individual beat that anyone could enjoy and bob their head to. His fast paced rhythm and beats in “Bombshell Blonde” and “Gold” truly define Young as an electronic artist, but the change in his known style in “Silhouette” captures Owl City as being an all around artist.

 

 4.5/5

Get involved with the zombie hype

by Jaimie Liu

 

The Walking Dead is a television drama that airs every Monday on AMC broadcast. It is currently in its third season. walkingdead.jpgWith genres of horror, romance, and comedy, The Walking Dead created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore follows a storyline about a zombie apocalypse that wipes out most of the population within the U.S.  Small groups of survivors find each other and band together to live. They go on a quest to find a solution to this sudden crisis and all the while, they rely on nature, abandoned houses and settles for food, clothing, and any other form of aid. The show includes love affairs, conspiracy and other scandalous conflicts that arise amongst them.

The story includes 15 main protagonists. Each has their own background that varies widely. This is what contributes to the significance and interest of the plot. Conflicts arise within the group however they soon learn to grow with each other.

As a committed viewer I especially am fascinated with the amount of detail that is included in both the comic and love action, including all the scenes, characters and Walkers - - the name that substitutes for the general term  zombie, and also the extremely realistic make up and feel within the modern day settings.

One of my most favorite characters is Dale. Dale enters the show as the younger brother for searching for his older brother, Merrill. Ironically Merrill is the man that the main group left behind by cuffing him to a pole while surrounded by Walkers. A long story goes on about that, but the main  point Is how negative Dale behaved towards the group in the beginning. Eventually he would find that it would be necessary to travel with them in order to survive. As the plot rolls on he softens around the group, especially to a mother and daughter that are especially kind to him. His transition is what I love the most, because it shows that compassion can spread and apply itself to anyone no matter how crude they appear to be.

The third season is planned to have sixteen episodes. For those that are looking for a suspenseful, heart throbbing and serious attention-grabbing exposition, The Walking Dead is exactly what they want.

Prepare for exciting new shows this fall

by Marie Vega

When the leaves start to change colors and the pumpkins begin to go on sale, get ready for the smell of season premiers in the air. line online lmao.jpgNew seasons mean new television shows. Sitcoms, documentaries, dramas, reality TV are all ready to entertain audiences everywhere, whether it be from the comfort of one's home, or on the go via smartphone or laptop. The new shows are here ladies and gents! The question is, "Are they worth watching?" Here’s my take on the new fall lineup hitting television screens everywhere.
        “The Mindy Project” on FOX (Sitcom): I had high hopes for “The Mindy Project.” I’ve been a huge fan of Mindy Kaling, the executive producer and series star, since she started her work as Kelly Kapoor, on NBC’s comedy “The Office.” Being a big NBC comedy fan myself, I was very curious to see what Kapoor could produce. As the show began I could hear Mindy’s voice off screen and realized that she was narrating. I wasn’t in favor of Mindy’s choice to have a voice-over to tell the story. I think that this is an easy way out of introducing characters to the audience. To me it seems like one long interview. “Hi, meet so and so. They like cheese omelets in the morning and wear the same snuggie every night. Then there’s this guy. He also likes cheese omelets, but he puts bacon bits on top as a twist. Also meet……” See what I mean? I just think an audience should get time with each character to figure out what they are really like. I also felt that the opening as a whole felt a little rushed. After all, we went through what felt like two years of Mindy’s life in about two minutes. The rest of the show however, was funny but not funny enough because I started to get bored towards the end. I have faith that “The Mindy Project” will get better over time, and I watch it religiously every Tuesday night.
       “666 Park Avenue” on ABC (Drama): From the previews, “666 Park Avenue” seemed to be a show that could easily be a movie. I feel most shows that are supposed to be scary and creepy should be made into movies instead of  weekly TV shows. My reason for this is eventually the scary effect will get old, repetitive and boring. With that thought in my head I wasn’t the happiest camper to watch this show.  In the beginning of “666 Park Avenue” a violinist was shown playing in a symphony with bleeding fingers. This character made no sense to me. His fingers kept bleeding but he wouldn’t stop playing his instrument. The old man in the balcony that kept staring down at him was the only part of the scene that made any sense to me, only because the old man was later announced as one of the main characters. I think they wasted time telling the violinist story, even if it did show that 999 Park Avenue, the hotel, is haunted. They have plenty of time to show the haunted hotel later on. The rest of the show was really good. As soon as it began to get the slightest bit boring, BOOM, an elevator starts  attacking a girl, or a guy’s dead wife comes back to life; something jaw dropping happens.  Can I just say the elevator scene was nothing like the elevator scene in “Gangnam Style.” The elevator literally started to smash this poor  girl over and over again, continuously opening and closing its doors as fast as possible. It was crazy! “666 Park Avenue” had me on the edge of my seat by the end of it. It was a bit confusing but entertaining, and I would gladly watch the rest of the season, especially if they continue to show amazing, O-M-G moments like the elevator scene.
       “Ben and Kate” on FOX (Sitcom): The first time I saw “Ben and Kate” was on accident. It came on right after “The Mindy Project,” and I was too lazy to change to channel, so I left it on. After a few minutes of watching, I started to really enjoy the show. I think Kate’s brother, Ben, really made the show much more enjoyable. He’s silly. In one scene he’s talking about house safety, and in another he’s using a fire extinguisher as a mini rocket to blast himself from room to room on a swivel chair. Ben is a very fun character and in my opinion makes the show its best. It’s simply a silly, funny, cute sitcom about a brother and sister. Seems a bit boring, but I swear, it’s wonderful!
      “Guys With Kids” on NBC (Sitcom): I think the executive producer of “Guys With Kids,” Jimmy Fallon, is the only reason why this show got picked up. I absolutely adore Jimmy Fallon and religiously watch his late night show. So one could come to the conclusion that I would love “Guys With Kids” just as much as Mr.Fallon. Well, my dear friend, you are  mistaken. This show is shot in front of a live studio audience, so, when a joke is told, we’re able to hear the audience’s laughter as well. I feel like the bulk of the show was aimed at making the audience laugh instead of telling the story. Sometimes the laughter felt forced, as if they had a “laughter” sign pop up the second a joke was said. “Guys With Kids” also seems unrealistic. Yes, I understand, TV isn’t all supposed to be realistic, but I think the show would be funnier if more people could relate to it. I mean, how many of us know two other people in the exact same situation as us. In my case, not many. I’m not saying this show isn’t funny at all; it is, but it just isn’t one of my favorites of the lineup.
         “Go On” on NBC (Sitcom):  I really didn’t know what to expect with “Go On,” but after watching it I really enjoyed it. From the previews I didn’t think it was going to be very funny, but in my opinion the pilot episode was funnier than “The Mindy Project.” I loved the way they introduced their characters; first, by all of them playing a game, and second, all of them had their little moment in the spotlight. I liked Ryan’s character a lot. He was funny and brought the rest of the characters together in a fun way that made watching very entertaining. I also felt that this show was very balanced when it came to making the audience laugh and telling the story. “Go On” is a sweet, kind, relatable show, and I would 100% watch the rest of the season.
         “Nashville” on ABC (Drama):  “Nashville” was kind of a mix between “Glee” and “Mad Men.” Is that too hard to picture? Well, I say that because the singing in “Nashville” was excellent, and the characters were very intense. It reminded me of “Mad Men” because the characters were also fancy and mysterious. At times I felt  “Nashville” was turning into a reality show. The problems these characters have are something out of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey:” drunk fathers, drug addicts as parents, a waitress possibly becoming the next country music sensation. It’s like a scripted reality show. But let’s face it, most reality shows aren’t real. But anyway, “Nashville” was excellent, and I’m totally ready for the next episodes to come!
           So there you have it! Some of the shows this fall were really great, others could use some work. Overall I fully enjoyed watching them and can’t wait till next season, when we all can get a whole new batch of shows! Happy watching!