Friday, December 8, 2017

New Hope Can Die of Laughter Thanks to the Mask and Zany Production of Candide

Jen Abele
Features Editor

Mask and Zany’s Production of Candide, directed by Mrs. Pittner, enjoyed a successful run from Nov. 9-11. The bawdy, chaotic, nature of the adaption made the show very entertaining.
 The show’s title character, Candide, played by Ben Dupont, is the illegitimate nephew of a German Baron, Blake Poulsen. He grows up in Baron’s castle, taught by the scholar Pangloss, deftly handled by Daniel Scanlon. Candide falls in love with the Baron’s daughter Cunégonde (Hope King). When the Baron catches the pair kissing, he banishes Candide from his kingdom. Candide is then drafted into the Bulgar army, flogged repeatedly, and does everything in his power to be united with Cunégonde while being accompanied by Cacambo (Phoebe Liucci), Dr. Pangloss, sheep, and others.
 Freshman Katelyn Cowen played Ben Franklin, Surgeon, and Slave Bladder. Freshman Sophia Danis played Unlucky Beggar, Revolutionary number two, and Mademoiselle YouYou. Freshman Caleb Ferraez played Bulgarian Soldier number one, Don Fernando, Don Issachar, and Sheep. Freshman Logan Palau Woman Soldier, Sexy Woman number one, and Ensemble. Freshman Anna Prager played Rattoli and Ensemble. Freshman Blake Poulsen played Baron Thunder-Ten-Tronckh, Grand Inquisitor, and Martin the Hyper-Active Pessimist. Freshman Meghan Siano played Lucky Nun, Mademoiselle MiMi, and Revolutionary number one. Freshman Jonah Silberman Heinrich Thunder-Ten-Tronckh, Biscayan, and Sheep.
  Junior Aidan Lear played Executioner number one and Sexy Woman number two. Junior Lola Dardzinski played Paquette, Cunégonde’s chambermaid. Junior Lauren Adler played the Amazonian Queen, Drill Sergeant, and Sheep number three. Junior Jaya Batra played the Bulgarian Deserter, Hot Grandmother, Woman Soldier, Amazonian Princess, and Sheep. Junior Tara Chumbley played Viceroy of Inquisition. Junior Sarah Harrison played Inspector General, Voltaire, and Sheep number two. Junior Grace Leister played as Woman Soldier, Horse number two, Bulgarian Soldier, and Ensemble. Junior Zach Meixler was part of the ensemble.
 Senior Sophia Carroll played the Baroness Thunder-Ten-Tronckh, woman soldier, Madame, Amazonian Princess, and Horse #1. Senior Isabella Mailer played Executioner number one, Sheep, and slave auctioneer. Senior Grace Zander played The old woman with only one buttock.
 The stage crew featured a collections of extremely talented people.  The set design was done by Morgan M. Manfredi; lighting design was created by Michael Howell; Tyler Horn served as the technical director; choreography was crafted by Bernadette Del Prado; properties artisan was Emma Repasy; Ryan Keating was the stage manager; Quinn Reinert was ASM; Michael Howell served as the light board operator, and  sound operation board was handled by Bryan Houlton. Technical Consulting was provided by McAfee Madding, art by Grace Leister, and Ms. Mary Dupont was the volunteer coordinator. T-shirts were provided by Kampus Klothes, and  videography services were provided by Mr. and Mrs. Giorgi and Alex DiGena. Amy Parker did the production photography and the snack stand was managed by Ms. Mary Dupont.
 Lola Dardzinski and Hope King were both in charge of the Marquee board. The carpenters who built the set were Tyler Horn, Michael Howell, Henry Chouteau, and Jerry Sun. Costumers were Amy Parker, Wendy Meckes, Parker Miele, and Sophia Borzilleri. The electricians were Michael Howell, McAfee Madding, and Henry Chouteau. The Run Crew were Deanna Bock, Sophia Borzilleri, Joey Buck, Henry Chouteau, Alex DiGena, Chloe Elias, Christian Keating, Matthew Lieber, Kaylee Lynch, and Jerry Sun. McAfee Madding Jr., was also in charge of sound design.
 Mask and Zany’s Candide was comical from beginning to end. It was a strong start to the year for Mask and Zany. This spring Mask and Zany will be performing Pippin.
  Those interested in seeing Candide should see Mrs. Pittner for a DVD.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Harvey Weinstein has been expelled from the television academy

Victoria Siano

On Nov. 7, 2017, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was banned for life from the Television Academy as a result of his sexual harassment and assault accusations from a number of women.
 The news of Mr. Weinstein’s charges had raised questions regarding his future in the nonprofit organization. In a hearing last month is was decided that the organization would take disciplinary action against him, the decision of which would be made after a hearing, which took place on Monday, Nov. 6, and the Television Academy’s governance voted to expel him from the Academy for life.
 The organization issued a statement to Variety magazine: “The Academy supports those speaking out against harassment in all forms and stands behind those who have been affected by this issue.”Due to this, the Academy has found the accusations made about Weinstein to be deeply disturbing and horrific, and as a means of better preventing such people from taking part in the organization, has been accelerating a process to review a potential membership code of conduct it had been reviewing before this information was discovered.”
 In a response to this issues, the company has released a statement claiming: “We are determined to play a role in protecting all television professionals from predatory harassment, ensuring they are able to practice their craft in a safe environment.”

 This banishment is just the most recent in a series of professional condemnations brought on by the recent accusations about his mistreatment towards women, with some of the other punishments consisting of being kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild of America, BAFTA, and being fired from the Weinstein Company - a company which he had co-founded. The forced departure from TWC has resulted in Weinstein suing to gain access to his personnel files and company email account.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Saturday Night Live Returns

Riley Brennan
Co-Editor In Chief

As September came to a close, and an abnormally hot fall persisted, Saturday Night Live returned for Season 43. The comedy sketch show, which recently dominated at the Emmy’s, the show and actresses/actors alike winning multiple awards, started the season off strong with host Ryan Gosling, and musical performance by Jay-Z. The show’s cold open featured Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, with appearances by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (played by Aidy Bryant), and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (played by Kate McKinnon). The three tackled current events, which was a reoccurring theme throughout the show. During the Weekend Update segment, anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che covered topics such as President Trump and his actions towards the hurricane in Puerto Rico, where Che’s strong word choices towards the president earned him a healthy amount of criticism and backlash. SNL however, is known for the strong opinions and stances they take on politics, which this season premiere was not lacking. During Jay-Z’s performance on the show, he made his own political statement by wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey.
 Politics aside, the show had numerous funny and random sketches and bits. Ryan Gosling reprised some of his roles from his last appearance on the show, and occasionally struggled to hold in laughter. This included his monologue, which revolved around his role in the movie La La Land, featuring a surprise appearance from his co-star, Emma Stone, where the two joked about “saving” the jazz music genre.
 The premiere also featured three new additions to the cast, including comedians Heidi Gardner, Luke Null, and Chris Reed. The three replace ex cast members Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata, all who left at the end of last season.

Overall, Season 43 shows promise, which is a good thing seeing as it has big shoes to fill after last year’s season, earning the title of the most watched season in 23 years.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Construction Plows On

Amanda Horak & Parker Miele
Staff Writers

  It is year two of construction at the New Hope-Solebury High School and some major pieces of the project are complete and already being used by students. The office has been completely redone, and has even moved to a new location. The lobby area around the office has a high ceiling with big windows above the front doors. The old office now is the new home of the Guidance Department, yet it still looks the same as before.
  The biggest change that affects the students is the new hallway, which  features work created by the art students and new glass-front cases where the school can put its trophies. Many students don’t feel the hallway is big enough for the traffic in the halls, but some staff claim that once the senior hallway is opened the halls will become less crowded. Some people say that it is difficult to just have one hallway, but the students and staff are still managing.
  A 12th grader, Olivia Keenan, said: “The school is moving in a positive direction, but it is impacting my education.”
  There are multiple places in our school that are still under construction too, like the high school gym, locker rooms, and the fitness center. The high school gym has boards up and around it along with the fitness center, which means no one can see outside the windows.
  Teacher Mr. O’Hara said ironically the “glass behind the walls [makes him] feel insignificant.”
  Mr. Sherman, one of our Physical Education teachers, said that the new fitness center is to open on Oct. 19 if everything goes as planned. The machines should be delivered by Oct. 18 and the floors are being installed Oct. 9, 10, and 11. Many students, like those in Fitness for Life, are very excited.
   This is a very exciting time for our school with all the new and improved classrooms, gym, and lunch rooms we have been given. Many students are thrilled about all the new upcoming gyms and classrooms we will receive, but we still have a little bit of time to wait!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Head Hunters: The Impact of Hancock’s Album 44 Years Later

Jeremy Pether
Staff Writer

As time goes on, most music is largely forgotten, with only a small selection of popular songs and albums continuing to have a spot as culture evolves. But just because it’s remembered, doesn’t mean it stands the test of time. Is that the case with Herbie Hancock’s 1973 album, “Head Hunters”? As “Head Hunters” approaches its 44th anniversary, it’s a good time to look back and consider its impact. Exerting a notable influence on jazz, funk, soul, and even hip-hop, it has left its mark on the music world. In 2013, Rolling Stone ranked it 498 on their Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 2007 it was placed in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, a collection of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important”.
 For this album, only one member from Hancock’s previous group returned, as Hancock was looking to take his sound in a new direction. He ditched guitars entirely for the clavinet, and assembled a more R&B focused group. On Hancock’s sleeve notes of the 1997 reissue, he wrote "I began to feel that I had been spending so much time exploring the upper atmosphere of music and the more ethereal kind of far-out spacey stuff. Now there was this need to take some more of the earth and to feel a little more tethered; a connection to the earth....I was beginning to feel that we were playing this heavy kind of music, and I was tired of everything being heavy. I wanted to play something lighter." The album has a calm but groovy sound that appeals to a larger audience than some of his earlier records, and it’s considered to have paved the way for the jazz-fusion movement.
 The album consists of four tracks. “Chameleon”, “Watermelon Man”, “Sly”, and “Vein Melter”. It’s a small number of tracks, but they’re all lengthy, ranging from six and a half minutes on “Watermelon Man” to nearly 16 minutes for “Chameleon”. All the tracks are original for this album except for “Watermelon Man”, which was on his first album, “Takin’ Off”, but was reworked for the album. “Chameleon” opens the album, with a strong bassline leading it off on a funky beat. It’s an engaging, well executed song that at a 15-minute run time stays surprisingly fresh. The track starts with the bassline and then plays around with what meshes well with it. It stays interesting and flows well. “Watermelon Man” is probably the most memorable track, for the opening alone. The intro is comprised of the sound of blowing into a beer bottle to simulate the hindewhu, a style of singing / whistling in Pygmy music. It then breaks into a simple but rhythmic groove that hooks you in. “Sly” is up next, starting with a relaxed intro then hitting breakneck pace in a crazy, chaotic song. Finally, “Vein Melter” (despite it’s title) has a much slower, more relaxed pace, while still having a great sound.

 “Head Hunters” turns 44 on Oct. 13 of this year, and it’s very much an incredible album. It’s influences can be seen in many genres, and it deserves the classic status it holds. “Head Hunters” is far from overhyped, and has left a solid mark on the music world, including spearheading the jazz fusion movement. It’s at least a solid 90 out of 100, with my only gripe being songs get dangerously close to dragging on. It’s available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, or you can stream it from Spotify.

REVIEW: Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

Stephen Prager
Staff Writer

At the abrupt conclusion of “Mortal Man”, the closer to Kendrick Lamar’s likely career-defining album, To Pimp a Butterfly, there’s a sense of terrifying closure.  The album is a whirlwind of emotions, featuring Lamar projecting his self-loathing onto the world around him and sharing his rawest and most honest thoughts about the state of his home and his country at large.  
 In the final moments of the album’s epic finale, “Mortal Man,” Lamar shares the album’s central metaphor, the metamorphosis of a butterfly surrounded and institutionalized by a “mad city”, with the ghost of his idol, the late, great Tupac Shakur.  The music swells, and Lamar finds himself frantically calling Tupac’s name, to no answer – the final sound we hear is a pain-stricken “Pac?!” indicating that Lamar’s guiding voice left as quickly as it was resurrected.
 This scene comes at the end of an album of a truly dense piece of artistry that displays so much volatility, mistrust, and anger that it seems at points like a shocking Janis Joplin-like death or Jeff Mangum-like disappearance is looming for Lamar.  It’s the double-edged sword of pouring your heart and soul into a piece of art – what is there left to give when you’ve laid all of your thoughts and demons on the line?
 Of course, Kendrick Lamar did come back, and his fourth LP, DAMN., is about the most logical comedown possible following his magnum opus.  It picks up in the aftermath of Lamar’s meteoric rise to a life of fame, something unimaginable for someone who grew up in an environment as unforgiving as Compton.
Despite its aggressive title, DAMN. is fairly restrained in comparison to its predecessor.  It maintains some of the same quirky production value, with time signature changes, spoken word poetry, and news soundbites that represent Kendrick’s current disillusionment with the world around him.  Yet Lamar raps with an unfamiliar detachment that seems to have manifested in the shadow of his greatest achievement.
 DAMN. simply doesn’t have the energy that was synonymous with To Pimp a Butterfly.  Nowhere on the album is there a song with the swagger of “King Kunta” or the infectious artlessness of “i.”  DAMN. is more of a character study of Kendrick Lamar himself instead of the chaos that surrounds him, and it is by nature a less chaotic album.  Instead of the dense fusion of traditional hip-hop with elements of soul, big band jazz, and rock that made To Pimp a Butterfly appear gritty and representative of the diversity of the city, DAMN. sounds slick, as if it was produced to put Lamar’s voice back at center stage.  “DNA.” is a fine example of this - with a repetitive backing track that sounds like something an amateur freestyler might rip from Youtube, the song can turn its focus to Lamar’s questioning of whether he is defined by the “loyalty and royalty” or the “poison and pain” inside his DNA.  It a fine choice for Lamar to re-calibrate himself and make a more straightforward rap album, especially considering that the subject matter really isn’t conducive to the disorienting bombast that To Pimp a Butterfly mastered.
 If this sounds like an overly safe or cowardly choice for an artist of Lamar’s caliber, it assuredly is not.  The album’s orientation towards minimalism is actually fairly risky because forces his voice and lyrics to carry the weight of the album, to mixed results.  It works on “YAH.”, for example, because Lamar’s slightly slurred vocals meld perfectly with the dreamy keyboard effects that dominate the song.  “GOD.” also uses minimalism to its advantage, as the quiet synthesizers in the backing tracks create a feeling of isolation as Lamar pleads with God to not be judged for his sins.  However, it works less effectively on “HUMBLE.” which encompasses Lamar’s troubled childhood in ways that feel derivative of better songs like “Hood Politics” or “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.”  And then there’s “LOYALTY.”, which flat-out wastes Rihanna’s talents on hackneyed lines like “on your pulse like it’s EDM” and “gas in the b*tch like it’s premium”.
 As is a general principle with Kendrick Lamar, his best songs are the ones in which he leaves his blood, sweat, and tears on the track and swings for the fences creatively.  DAMN. does have its fair share of songs that break the album’s status-quo.  The best song on the album is “PRIDE.”, a sweeping anthem that features Lamar’s admittedly idealistic and impossible vision of a world that he’s saved by putting aside his pride and greed to truly help the poor and struggling.  “DUCKWORTH.” is a similarly impressive track, telling the story of how one small moment of mercy from a notorious criminal to Kendrick’s father sets off a butterfly effect that allows the criminal to avoid life and prison and allows Kendrick to grow up with his father and eventually find prosperity, instead of dying “in a gun fight” like so many others from his home.  Lamar is not nearly as politically outspoken here as he was on To Pimp a Butterfly either, but DAMN’s “XXX.” at least deals with some of his shock and terror following the election of Donald Trump – with lines like “You overnight the big rifles, then tell Fox to be scared of us” that suggest that Lamar is resigned to the fate of the nation and has no desire to change it, only to weather whatever storm may come.
 That’s a key difference between DAMN. and Lamar’s previous work – it doesn’t have the fighting spirit that defined To Pimp a Butterfly or even good kid, m.A.A.d. city.  Instead, it’s like a one man show where Lamar plays both the hero and the villain.  It actually seems somewhat unusual to have a Kendrick Lamar album that doesn’t feel genre-defining or genre-defying, especially considering the deification he receives from many people who want to see genres getting redefined through experimentation.  But DAMN. is best looked at as an inoffensive transition album more bent on concluding what surely will be looked at as a classic era of Lamar’s music defined by its daring verve. It’s not jaw-dropping or apocalyptic like To Pimp a Butterfly, but nobody is likely to leave expecting DAMN. to drive Lamar off the deep end either.  Instead, it leaves the listener looking ahead at a future era that once again defies every limit aside from Lamar’s ambition.

Grade: B

The Rise of Street Style during Fashion Week

Riley Brennan
Co-Editor In Chief

At the beginning of every September, for most people the school year begins, and for New York City, Fashion Week runs rampant. The season of shows came in a blur of designers, models,  and show stealing street style looks.
 While the motivation for this September’s fashion week was the designer’s display of their Spring/Summer 2018 collections, the people who attend the shows often stole the spotlight. It’s no secret that those lucky enough to frequent the shows throughout the week, dress to impress. Often times the looks the audience shows up in gain more attention than the actual work on display. Vogue magazine’s website even has an entire tab, featured on their homepage, dedicated to street style. In fact, there’s an article with a total of 223 photos, solely made up of “The Best Street Style from New York Fashion Week Spring’ 18.” Among the photos were common themes, warm toned colors, loose fitting jeans and trousers, flare pants, skinny stripes, plaid, pencil skirts, ruffled blouses, denim (x5), draped dresses and jackets, and a variety of fun patterns.
 Photographers line the street outside of show venues to snap photos of the attendees. This is one of the ways press is able to interact with fashion week, as not everyone will be invited to attend the shows. However, this whole concept of focusing on what the guests are wearing rather than what the models are wearing is troublesome. The concept of caring about what attendees wear to a fashion show is expected, but the line between caring and overshadowing is very blurry.

 An increasing interest in what the celebrities and bloggers are wearing to the shows seems to stem from social media, and the theory that anyone can be a celebrity in today’s pop culture. None of this is inherently bad, but with more and more focus going to the people at the fashion show, rather than the actual work on display, the fashion industry has the potential to evolve into one that is purely driven by social media stunts, instead of the artistic vision and talent. As always, it’s the masses that determine the future.