Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ode to Chuck Berry: A rock legend passes away at age 90

Jay MacDowell
Staff Writer

The world has recently lost a rock legend. Chuck Berry, born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri, passed away at 90 of natural causes on March 18, 2017.
  Chuck Berry, or the Father of Rock and Roll, was born at a time when St. Louis was an extremely segregated area. Trying to escape the racial issues, Berry, like his 5 siblings, pursued hobbies. His music career started at just six years old when he joined the local church choir. When Berry entered his high school talent show with a friend, he quickly became addicted to the emotion that he experienced performing for a crowd. This was what sparked his interest in guitar. He began taking guitar lessons soon thereafter.
  After dropping out of high school, he and his friends made a few impulse choices and ended up in jail for robbing a few small stores. After being released in 1947, seven years early for good behavior, he returned to St. Louis to work for his father’s construction business, be a part time photographer, and act as a janitor at a local auto plant.
  Four years after his return, a former high school classmate, Tommy Stevens, asked Berry to join his band. The band played at local black nightclubs and Berry quickly gained a good reputation for his lively showmanship. A year passed and Berry joined Sir John’s Trio. This band played at upscale black nightclub and began to draw in a white crowd. By 1955 Berry began his search for a record contract in Chicago.
  Legendary blues musician Muddy Water met with Berry and encourage him to speak with Chess Records. A few weeks after their first meeting, Berry wrote “Maybellene.” He brought the song back to Chess Records, and they immediately signed him. Within a month Berry’s song “Maybellene” hit the number 1 spot on the R&B charts and the number 5 spot on the Pop charts. While reforming the music world with a combination of a blues beats, country licks, and stories, Berry quickly constructed many other unique singles. As he was influencing the rock world, he was also influencing the community. People of all races got together in harmony to enjoy Berry’s music and he spoke to the youth with his stories. In 1959 he was charged and later convicted of transporting a young woman for “immoral purposes” under the Mann Act and imprisoned for 20 months. He came out a new man and produced some of his most famous pieces like “Nadine” and “Promise Land.” Instead of being his easy going self he was more of a businessman. He had changed into a serious and distant person towards the end of his career. Berry released his last album called Rock It, in 1979. He continued to play into the 1990’s but lost some of his stage personality and popularity.
  Chuck Berry is one of the most influential rockers of all time. His playing style and bad boy personality inspired many current blues and rock players. He formulated many different playing styles into one. His contributions to the rock world will always be remembered.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

SNL finds a spicy groove in satirizing the Trump administration

Riley Brennan
Features and A&E editor

On the SNL episode that aired on February 4, actress and comedian Melissa Mccarthy, portrayed President Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer in a skit. The skit was then posted to the show’s Youtube account, where it has raked in over 23 million views, and counting. Despite the abrasive character Mccarthy plays, Spicer’s response was more lighthearted than one would expect after seeing the temperament of Mccarthy’s Spicer. When E News asked Spicer what he thought of the skit, he responded, “I think Melissa Mccarthy needs to slow down on the gum chewing...way too many pieces in there.”

 Due to the success of the skit, Melissa came back as a guest star to open the show the following Saturday, once again playing Sean Spicer. Alec Baldwin hosted the show, who has been a guest star on the show quite often, starting months before the actual election, playing Donald Trump. Thanks to Baldwin and Mccarthy, the episode was full of political skits, “featuring” the president, Vladimir Putin, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, and more. SNL has always featured political skits and sketches, though Donald Trump does not appreciate the ones that feature him, having tweeted many insults aimed at the show. This past January, following an SNL skit featuring him, tweeting, @NBCNews is bad but Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!”. The backlash has yet to cause SNL to stop using Trump as a character on the show.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

La La Land's record breaking win at the Golden Globes

Riley Brennan
Features and A&E editor

In the aftermath of the Golden Globes, everyone is reporting on Meryl Streep’s speech, which was in directed towards President-Elect Donald Trump; however, La La Land won all seven awards it was nominated for, a record breaking achievement.
 The film, which is a musical set in present day Los Angeles, follows Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone playing a struggling musician and actress whose paths cross. La La Land was released worldwide on Dec. 25, 2016, though the production received eight Critic’s Choice Awards, at the Critic’s Choice Awards, over a week before it was released.
 Expectations for La La Land were high prior to the Golden Globes, and it did not disappoint. The film won awards for best motion picture, musical or comedy, best screenplay, best director, best score, and best song. Emma Stone won best actress in a motion picture-musical or comedy, and Ryan Gosling won best actor in a motion picture-musical or comedy. Through winning seven awards, La La Land surpassed the previous records of sixth golden globes held by the films “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “Midnight Express,” both of which respectively have six awards. Damien Chazelle won for directing and writing the screenplay for the movie. He originally made his debut with the musical “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench.”
 Jimmy Fallon hosted the award show, making his entrance with a five-minute musical number, most of which was a parody of La La Land, including some of the most popular scenes from the movie. His opening number featured many celebrities, such as; Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Evan Rachel Wood, Sarah Paulson , Ryan Reynolds, Justin Timberlake, and the children from the Netflix original series, Stranger Things.

Remembering an Iconic Woman: Debbie Reynolds

Amanda Horak, Parker Miele, and Isaac Zucker
Staff Writers

Debbie Reynolds, an incredible actress and singer, died on Dec. 26, 2016 due to a “broken heart.” This was said to have caused a stroke after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away. She was born April 1, 1932 in El Paso, Texas. She was discovered later by Warner Brothers Studio while she was working in beauty pageants. Reynolds made her first cinematic debut in the 1948’s film June Bride.
 After June Bride, she started to excel and leave her mark in Hollywood. At the young age of 19, Debbie Reynolds sang along with Gene Kelly and Donald O’conner in the 1952’s Singing in the Rain. She then had a number one hit in 1957 in singing the emotional ballad “Tammy” from the film Tammy and the Bachelor. Reynolds continued her acting in comedies, romances, and westerns, a few of the most notable being The Rat Race, Pleasure of His Company, and How the West was Won. She was nominated for an Academy Award in 1964 for her lead role in The Unsinkable.
 Reynolds decided to take on a new role with starting on television and performing on stage. She starred in a short sitcom in 1969 on The Debbie Reynolds Show and later on What’s the Matter Helen? in 1971. After a few years in television, she started doing stage work. Reynolds spent the next several years performing in Las Vegas and on Broadway. She received a Tony Award nomination for her role in Irene in 1976.
 In her later life, she returned to films in The Bodyguard and then Heaven and Earth in 1993. In 1996, Reynolds performed in Mother, followed by In & Out. She also started out on a recurring show on NBC called Will & Grace. In November of 2015, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award.
 In her personal life, Reynolds went against Frank Sinatra’s advice not to marry a singer and married crooner Eddie Fisher, who later left Reynolds for actress Elizabeth Taylor. Before their divorce in 1959, the couple had two children, Carrie and Todd. The year after her first divorce Reynolds married another man, Harry Karl, but they later got divorced in 1973 because of his gambling addiction. After 12 years Reynolds got married again to a real estate developer Richard Hamlett and the couple again had problems with money so they divorced in 1996.
 Debbie Reynolds did amazing things in her life, which she will always be remembered for.