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Arts & Entertainment

“Parks and Recreation” says farewell to Pawnee

by Aurora Oliva

Beginning its journey as an “Office” spinoff show, “Parks and Recreation” on NBC quickly found its own voice with a variety of lovable misfit characters, an accidental gay penguin marriage, and of course a miniature horse named Lil’ Sebastian.

The fifth and last season of Parks and Rec is set in the progressed and futuristic period of Pawnee year 2017.

Throughout the six years Parks and Recreation has been on air, viewers have been a part of the cutest, craziest, and most comedic situations on television.

Their series finale, “One Last Ride,” not only showcased these memories, but found an intriguing way to end their story both in their futuristic present and the far future: time travel.

Unfortunately there was no TARDIS this round; instead flashforwards took us to the “Parks and Rec” gang years ahead, to help us get a taste of the future while seeing our lovable misfits in the years 2022, 2023, and all the way to the year 2048.

In the beginning it may have been a little weird going back and forth between present storylines and future ones, but as the episode continued, I realized it really made the season so amazing.

While the final season’s episodes brought interesting glimpses of the future lives of the former “Parks and Rec” employees, what really made the season stand out was the past connections between old friends and how it affected the future.

In this sci-fi future of Pawnee, there is no math. Marijuana is legal. Business cards are no longer made of paper. Meat is non- existent. Technology is all 3D. And if you want to dye your hair, just take a pill.

For example, the adorable Andy Dwyer and his understandably hostile wife April Ludgate are Polar opposites that are destined to be together, but they’re faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to have children.

Ron Swanson, after quitting his CEO position in the only profitable company amidst the financial crisis of 2023, faces a mid-life crisis.

Tom Haverford, a prominent owner of 20 Tom’s Bistros, faces the reality of economic instability after all his restaurants close down. Now he faces a life without a steady stream of in- come or swagger.

However, with the help of their former colleague Leslie Knope, who’s the dot connect- ing the relationships of all the former workers of the Paw- nee parks and rec department, they’re able to surpass those difficulties.

Even in the future where algebra and calculus cease to exist, relationships transcend time. The bonds of friendship formed with others are high- lighted throughout the season, and those highlights are neatly wrapped and packed in its season finale, ready to be presented.

 

Dylan Gardner’s not as adventurous as one would hope

by Henry Monteiro

It’s always fun to see artists making a career for themselves before they even legally hit the drinking age. When a career like this begins, the question isn’t whether or not their next album will succeed as much as their first hit release, but whether or not they’ll eventually descend in a blazing hellfire of bad decisions and financial bombs. 

Some come out as popular, if not more so, after growing up, like Michael Jackson, or they end up with one hit at most and a future career as VH1 trivia questions, like Donny Osmond. 

In this sacrificial pit of young singers, our newest lamb is Dylan Gardner, an eighteen year old, self-proclaimed “music nerd” with an uncanny resemblance to a young George Harrison, with his debut album “Adventures in Real Time.” 

When a young musician typically discusses their influences, they’ll often name a couple recent acts with brand recognition, a popular 80s musician and the Beatles thrown in for good measure. Dylan Gardner, meanwhile, states more of his influences from the classic 60s pop rock canon, with bands like the Kinks and the Doors. Usually, when an artist names influences like these classic bands, it demonstrates a love for where their music is coming from, where these bands influenced those who came after. 

Sadly, Gardner’s debut album comes off as less of a new album influenced by these classic bands, and as more of a traditional indie pop album, packaged for the summer. However, this isn’t to knock the music itself. Gardner is a talented songwriter, excellent at invoking an atmosphere of a summer day with friends at the beach. It’s just that, with the influences, I was hoping for something a little more based on 60s pop music, rather than the more recent indie pop sounds of bands like fun. The only song that is reminiscent of the 60s in a large way is “The Actor,” which come straight from the John Lennon school of guitar ballads. 

Regardless of the influences, Dylan Gardner does seem to have a slight problem where the album feels like it was scrubbed clean by the label. Many of the songs seem like they were originally intended to be a simple guitar-piano band setup, but synths and horns were added at the last minute to satiate the masses. It feels like a studio produced work, instead of one released by a so-called “musical prodigy.” 

Songs like “Don’t Get Started” are the exact kind of songs that end up in commercials with young teenagers kissing on beaches to sell soda, but it’s catchy and fun. 

“I’m Nothing Without You” comes from the Train school of songwriting, with an opening highly reminiscent of “Hey Soul Sister,” but it’s light enough to keep you dancing to its folky sound. 

If you enjoy indie pop, you’ll likely enjoy this album. No real songs stand far above the rest of the album, but at the same time, none of the songs seem like they were included for the sake of counting as an LP. For the most part, this is good, since the whole album can be listened to without skipping, but it also serves to be an album without highlights. 

Either way, even with its faults, “Adventures in Real Time” still serves as a decent debut for Gardner, with finely honed pop sensibilities and Gardner being a quality singer himself. I await his next album, as long as he’s able to demonstrate more of his influences.

 

‘Fresh Off the Boat’ provides fresh new perspectives

by Dana Yong

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In the past, television sitcoms were used as a medium to pro- mote classic American ideals, complete with the perfect family and the perfect household, usually made up of white actors. However, as the American population becomes more diverse, so do our television programs. Shows and movies have begun to include minorities and other groups that have historically lacked representation.

This past year, ABC unveiled a new show, “Fresh Off the Boat,” based on “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir” by celebrity chef Eddie Huang, centered around a Chinese American family.

Huang’s memoir narrates his childhood as an Asian American with immigrant parents, struggling to find his own identity.

“Fresh Off the Boat” follows the life of Eddie Huang, played by Hudson Yang, a hip-hop loving third grader growing up with his two brothers and immigrant parents in 1990s Orlando.

He and his family move from

is Huang, to pursue his dream of owning his own restaurant.

The importance of this show is monumental; it provides representation in mainstream media for greatly underrepresent- ed groups, such as immigrant families and other minorities, making the predominantly white community out to be “the others.”

Historically, television and movies have been widely Euro- centric, casting those of minority groups as “the best friend” or “the sidekick” but rarely as the main character. Those who are cast have been watered down to two-dimensional secondary characters with indistinguish- able traits. For example, Mindy Kaling’s role as Kelly in “The Office,” while both hilarious and lovable, lacked depth.

Kaling now has her own show, “The Mindy Project” on FOX, in which she plays a gynecologist/obstetrician in New York. Other than Kaling and an African American nurse played 

by Xosha Roquemore, the cast is mostly white. This show helps break down the walls for people of color to enter show business, but the role played by Kaling’s Indian heritage in the show ends at her character’s name, “Mindy Lahiri.”

However, in “Fresh Off the Boat”, the characters are not wa- tered down and hardly attempt to “play it safe” or be politically correct. The characters tell the truth. The show recognizes and emphasizes differences instead of trying to buff them out and “white-wash” them, and it does so in a hilarious, relatable way.

Eddie brings Chinese food for lunch and gets teased. He asks his mom, Jessica, for Lunch- ables, and she finds the orderly, quiet grocery store unsettling compared to the Chinese mar- kets she’s used to. Jessica has the boys attend CLC, or Chinese Learning Center, to get ahead in their work, and Eddie looks on as two white kids play right out- side the window, saying that he imagined it “sounded like child- hood.”

Rather than opting out of using Chinese accents in fear of sounding “racist” or “stereo- typical,” the actors on the show proudly assume their roles as Asian American immigrants, and immigrants have accents. The accents aren’t meant to stand out, acting as some sort of ongoing joke. They’re not loud, exaggerated, overdone, or laughed at. They’re simply a part of who the characters are as people. The shameless em- brace of diversity gives the show a refreshing authenticity that’s hard to find elsewhere.

This show changes the negative connotation of the term “fresh off the boat” into a positive one, something to be proud of rather than something to be ashamed of, and that’s amazing.

‘Xenoverse’ dragon balls is a hit

by Jasprit Samra

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People who were “Dragon Ball Z” fans and (watched or read every episode) as a kid might enjoy “Xenoverse”, which was released in February 2015 on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.

“Dragon Ball” is an old franchise that started as an anime then expanded to movies and video games. “Dragon Ball” video games are street fighting games with extra abilities.

The game’s story revolves around a guy named Trunks who protects the flow of time. Trunks and the player’s creat- ed character must stop villains Towa and Mira from interfering with time by going back to the past to reset historical events back to normal.

Players battle through the classic sagas (chapters) including the Saiyan Saga, the Frieza Saga, the Cell Saga, the Buu Saga and the Battle of the Gods saga to finally face off against Demigra, the main antagonist of the game.

The player starts by creating his or her own character, which is a new aspect in the franchise. You will be able to create a character from five races: Majin, Saiyan, Humans, Namekian, and Frieza’s Clan. After that the player can customize their character to their liking. Similar to a role playing game (RPG), the outfit one chooses will boost your skills as well.

I don’t like this because they analyze forced to look a certain way to be strong. An example would be that players can’t wear blue in a certain outfit.

The character starts at level one. Every time one levels up, they will receive three points that can be distributed for Health, Max Ki, Max Stamina, Basic Attacks, Strike Supers and Ki Bl photo courtesy of IGNast Supers. Upgrading is important because it will make it easier and faster to win fights.

After the character is created players you start at a social base

Toki Toki City, the hub world of the game where other charac- ters such as Masters and pre- made Time Patrollers reside, as well as shops for clothing, accessories, items and skills.

The tutorial is not helpful be- cause in the beginning I didn’t know what to do. For example I did not learn how to go through portals and had to look it up. An- other example is when players first start in Toki Toki City they are told to talk to people, but that doesn’t make sense since there are way too many people.

This game is also way too hard compared to all their previous games. I just want to have fun fighting bad guys not become enraged after repeating the mission over and over again.

What I liked about this game is that unlike the previous games, which follow “Dragon Ball Z”’s storyline, this game doesn’t. “Xenoverse” has its own story that includes the best of “Dragon Ball Z”’s events.

The graphics also should be mentioned because it has the best graphics of all “Dragon Ball

Z” games. The characters were very detailed, and the environment is stunning.

The game is not just about completing the campaign. It has a lot of online/offline parallel missions and online tournaments that will keep me busy. I like that after players beat the campaign they can still continue their journeys with tons of mis- sions, improving/buying skills and leveling up their character.

The fighting has improved a lot since the previous games. The gameplay is smooth and easy to learn. I really like how players can use skills without memorizing long combos. The only problem I had when I was fighting was the lock-on system. I sometimes locked onto different enemies while I was fighting another, which is frustrating.

Overall it is a good game that has some problems, but the fun outweighs them.