Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Dark Skies” movie disappoints and alienates audience

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Any mention of a new movie that involves aliens gets me pumped. Hearing about “Dark Skies” was no different.

Personally, I believe the existence of the extraterrestrial is one of the best plot devices for any movie looking to suspend disbelief, as it is one of the few forms of fiction that is plausible in concept. Statistically speaking, it makes perfect sense for us to be sharing the universe with other forms of life.

And when I saw the preview for “Dark Skies,” I couldn’t wait to see what our cosmic neighbors had in store for some unsuspecting humans.

The plot follows the Barrett family, your average American household of mom, dad and two kids. As they begin to experience increasingly disturbing break-ins and out-of-body experiences, it is revealed that otherworldly creatures are the perpetrators behind these unsettling events with motives that stretch far beyond a desire to inspire fear.

My initial perception is that this movie would do for the supernatural “Paranormal Activity”-inspired genre what “28 Days Later” did for zombie films: provide a relatively believable scenario in which something absolutely terrifying happens to average people, making it that much scarier.

Now let me be clear: Watching the preview for “Dark Skies” was the most enjoyable part of my experience with this movie, and made me reconsider my universal excitement for forthcoming extraterrestrial films.

Seriously. If you’ve seen the preview, you’ve seen the best parts of the movie. All of them. By the time I mentally checked off the last element I had seen in the TV spot, there were at least 45 minutes left in the film (keep in mind it’s only an hour and a half), which left me wondering where they could possibly take the story.

The answer? Through a series of poorly executed attempts to mess with the viewer’s mind. The plot twist in the last five minutes was on par with those of any “Saw” movie past the first two; sure, I didn’t know what the plot twist was until it was revealed, but this new information did not make the overall story any more interesting or scary.

The bigger problem with putting all the best parts of a horror movie in the preview is that I knew what to expect as each character took their turn peering around a dark corner. We can all agree the only redeemable quality of a bad horror film is that it still might be able to make you jump out of your seat. Thanks to the distributors of “Dark Skies,” my posterior never left the chair.

That brings to me to my last point. Obviously, to help this inadequate script sell some tickets, scaring people would help. That can’t happen if you have a preview that ruins every instance of suspense. But after watching “Dark Skies,” I realized there wasn’t anything else interesting enough to sell the movie in a teaser. My conclusion? Don’t bother making a movie that can’t sell itself without ruining the experience of watching it.

But hey, if you haven’t seen the preview and feel like watching “Signs” recreated by a first year film student … no, I can’t even tell you to watch it, even if you manage to do so for free. I’m not one to speak out against illegal video pirating, but do us a favor: Skip watching this movie online, save us all the bandwidth and save yourself 95 minutes.

Life lessons from Taylor Swift

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Okay, ladies (and gentlemen), you must admit: Taylor Swift has been singing about your life since you took a deep breath as you walked through the door on your first day of high school. Those were the days, driving around your home town all summer long in his Chevy truck (which had a tendency of getting “stuck” on back roads at night). Now that we’re older and those magical nights are gone, it’s incredible that Taylor’s songs still speak to us. I have a theory that this is because all of life’s lessons can be learned from her. Yes, we can just ditch our textbooks, listen to some Taylor, and gain all the wisdom we need. Here are the important takeaways.

Lesson number one: How to react after a breakup. The first appropriate step is to get sad. There’s a time when a relationship is over when all you want to do is shed teardrops on your guitar and cry because when he said, “forever and always”, he didn’t mean it. You will remember it all too well and in this stage it’s normal to be devastated – so let yourself feel! Next, get angry. Burn his picture and scream about how much you hate that stupid old pickup truck he never let you drive. Finally, you just get over it. When he calls you up and is all like, “I still love you,” just scream, “We are never getting back together. Like, ever.” It just feels so good.

Lesson number two: Today is a fairy tale. We all know there is no way that Taylor actually spends that much time hanging out in ballrooms and standing on balconies in summer air while the whole place is dressed to the nines. As much as we all wish we were princesses, we’re just average college girls who wish they never grew up. Truthfully, you don’t need to actually be enchanted to dream and sing about white horses and prince charming. Being a princess is a state of mind. Dust off that tiara, ladies. Turn every party into your very own fairy tale ball, and if Mr. Charming doesn’t show up by midnight, feel free to ditch the whole scene and go grab some breakfast with your girls. Who needs a knight in shining armor when you have your best friends, anyway?

Lesson number three: The “cool” kids never win. Taylor was practically invisible in high school. Before Taylor knew who she was going to be, she was just an average chick like many of us, stuck on the outside looking in, while wearing sneakers and T-Shirts on the bleachers. Well, she took the road less traveled by, and now Taylor is shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town to the tune of $80 million. Who’s cool now? Taylor proves that we should do what makes us happy and not worry about what anybody thinks.

Lesson number four: Stick up for yourself. Love (and life) is a ruthless game, and some people are just mean. We’ve all been there: Once upon a time, a few mistakes ago, everything was going perfect with this boy until it turned into this crazy contest of who can act like they care less. Years from now these losers will just be stuck in a dive bar, drinking over a football game, washed up and ranting about the same old bitter thing. Taylor has perfected the art of calling out these jerks in her songs. Not only does she make these silly boys who broke her heart look like fools, she is fantastically successful doing it! When someone puts you down you are entitled to fight back. There is nothing this girl does better than revenge.

So go ahead – drive your new Maserati down a dead end street, dream like you’re made of starlight, dance wonderstruck all the way home, and ride shotgun with your hair undone. Taylor’s songs resonate with us because she wears deepest desires of her heart written on her arm for everyone to see, and I believe we all share this secret wish to be that fearless. If you have something to say (or sing), go ahead, speak now! At our core, we are all just happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way like Taylor, and greatest lesson she can teach us is that everything will be alright if we just keep dancing our way towards our own happy ever after.

(Challenge: Find all the references to Taylor lyrics in this story)

Fairfield United group hosts open mic night

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At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, the Lower Level BCC was more crowded than usual. The reason: an open mic night called International Café. This event was both imagined and developed by the Fairfield United group, which is composed of many of the cultural and diversity groups on campus.

The event was organized to show the unity and support among Fairfield students of different cultures and backgrounds. It is the first of two shows that will be put on by Fairfield United.

International Café featured songs, recitations, original poetry and even dance performances by the students of Fairfield. These performances covered a range of topics including love, personal heartache, homelessness, racism, gender inequality.

Bringing all of these diverse issues to light was the purpose of this event. Junior Durell Snow explained that International Café began when students of the campus’ diversity groups expressed their concern with the lack of open expression and spoken word events available to students on campus.

“Last year, we really wanted to give people the opportunity to open up about personal challenges that young people go through on a daily basis,” said Snow. “We really hope to inspire other student spectators to be courageous at facing and opening up to their own realities.”

Another powerful purpose behind the event was to show students that they were not going through personal difficulties and crises alone; rather, the student body was behind them and supporting them.

And it was clear that the students brave enough to share their talents and struggles with their peers were not alone on stage. At several points throughout the night, the student performers tripped over their words, momentarily caught off guard by nerves. However, the students assembled in the audience cheered them on, supporting them through the rest of their performance and helping them continue.

While the focus of the evening was the student body, International Café also featured special guest Mitchell Grey.

Mitchell Grey is an up-and-coming alternative/R&B band featuring the talents of Ryan Bandong (vocals), Joseph Diaz (guitar), Napon Pintong (bass) and Matt Pana (drums). Their own cultural backgrounds echoed the evening’s celebration of diversity.

Mitchell Grey performed a short set comprised mostly of original songs off of their first album “On The Stellar Way,” but they also included a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.”

Overall, Mitchell Grey and the students’ performances and support of each other sent out one message: We are all people. When we discriminate, we only hurt ourselves; when we come together and celebrate our differences, something beautiful is created.

Some students expressed their worries with a drop of participation in the International Café. Senior Gaelle Isazu, a student returning from abroad and previous Asian Student Association executive board member, hoped that the event would “cause those who are not in any cultural clubs to have a change of heart and join.”

“This would help to take away the constantly lingering thought of Fairfield University not having much racial or ethnic diversity,” added Isazu.

By organizing and hosting the event, the groups involved hoped to show the interconnectedness of the many student diversity organizations on campus and move away from the trend of individual activities.

As Isazu said, “It shows that although all cultural clubs are different, they can still come together …”

Author Rebecca T. Alpert discusses her book at the Dolan School of Business

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Jews. Blacks. Baseball.

To many, these three words seem very disconnected and unrelated.

A crowd of curious spectators filled the Dolan School of Business last Thursday to listen to author Rebecca T. Alpert discuss her book Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball.

Jews played a major role in helping to break color barriers during the 20th century, Alpert explained. During this time when racism was on the rise, the Jewish community stepped up to support the blacks, especially in baseball, by getting involved in the Negro Leagues and becoming the first group to approve the integration of the sport.

Alpert believes Jews and blacks had felt a common “sense of shared victimization,” as the Jewish community had also experienced their own freedom struggles leading up to World War II.

Post-World War II, Alpert explained that anti-Semitism was just beginning to fade as racial discrimination came to the forefront. Jews were able to relate to the blacks yearning for equality and righteousness, and they felt they were simply following their religious beliefs by supporting moral and social justice.

Dr. Yohuru Williams, a history professor at Fairfield, commented that Alpert’s book is a “story of both the familiar and unfamiliar.” It forces readers to think of “how far we have come and how far we still have to go.”

The event served as the opening of Fairfield’s Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies 2013 spring semester season. “This lecture was a great opportunity for the Fairfield University community to be exposed to a world-class scholar who is helping to transform our understanding of the civil rights movement through baseball,” Williams said.

Alpert is a graduate of Barnard College. She received a Ph.D. in religion from Temple University, where she currently works as an Associate Professor of Religion and Women’s Studies. Albert specializes in religion in America, with a focus on sexuality and sport. She was also ordained a rabbi at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1976.

In addition to Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball, Alpert authored Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition and Whose Torah? A Concise Guide to Progressive Judaism. She also co-authored Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Approach, and she has written numerous articles on contemporary Jewish life.

Many members of the audience were pleased with the event and found it fascinating and educational.

Sophomore Nicole Davidow said that the event was very interesting. Though she did not have much background knowledge in baseball, she was amazed that the sport provided such a connection between Jews and blacks.

Freshman Jeannette Eckelman found the lecture to be an informative and creative way “to incorporate the fight against anti-Semitism and civil rights in a post-World War II era.”

iPick, YouListen

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“The Skin Surf” by Tera Melos

Tera Melos is a math rock band that continually redefines the genre. From the first second to the last, “The Skin Surf” is a jaw-dropping, face-melting experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This song is a phenomenal example of the band’s pure genius in combining pop melodies with insanely technical guitar work. With lyrics as strange and sporadic as the melodies, it takes a few listens to come to the conclusion that the song makes perfect sense and no sense at all. This is one of my favorite bands, and if you like this, keep an eye out for their new album “X’ed Out.”


“Grass and Bones” by Prawn

These are a few of the nicest guys and one of the new and upcoming bands in a genre blending post-rock, indie and art punk. Though the genre seems to be flooding with carbon copies, Prawn differentiates themselves with catchy guitar riffs, relevant lyrics and raw group vocals. Their latest EP “Ships” is their best work yet. The band knows amazing composition, with bass and drum driven songs that have such genius and beautiful transitions between fast and slow tempos. I’m really glad this band is gaining swing and popularity because they truly deserve the reputation as an awesome band.

“Nanou 2” by Aphex Twin

Richard D. James, otherwise known as Aphex Twin, is a world-renowned electronic artist, composer and innovator. “Nanou 2” off the album “Drukqs” is a beautiful piano composition influenced by composer John Cage. “Nanou 2” is three and a half minutes of directionless beauty. The song is filled with chord after chord of sad optimism that I can only describe as the feeling of your first smile after a hard cry. This amazing piece is one among many on his album. Just beware, the album is split between heavy electronic music and piano compositions.

“Came Out Swinging” by The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years are proof that pop-punk isn’t dead yet. Group vocals, catchy melodies, a heavy sound, wild energy and plenty of angst: Is there anything more you could want from a pop-punk band? This song is the opener to the band’s third LP “Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing,” and it really starts with a bang. With lyrics like “My body feels rejected and I can’t say that I blame it/My heart keeps saying stay young/My lower back seems to disagree,” it’s hard not to relate, especially after four years of college. The whole album is track after track of gems. They really outdid themselves and are one of the best — and few — thriving bands of the genre.

Career Fair expands to accommodate more majors

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Dressed in her business casual attire, résumé in hand, Lauretta Purwin ‘13 attended Fairfield’s Semi-annual career fair Thursday, hoping to follow in the footsteps of recent alumni, such as Brittany Martin ‘11.

Martin was able to turn her junior-year visit to the Career Fair into an internship with the Target Corporation that later became a post-graduation full-time job offer.

“This is how I found the right career path for me,” said Martin. Purwin hoped to do the same, stating that attending the event is “the extra step … to get [herself] out there.”

Like many students, Purwin is looking for employment after she graduates from Fairfield. Director of Career Planning, Cathleen Borgman, believes the Career Fair, organized each semester, is an effective way to seek employment, noting that several of the 300 students that attended the event would be offered jobs or internships.

“Employers are happy to be here,” said Assistant Director Stephanie Grejtak.

Although some students may believe it is not essential to attend the Career Fair until senior year, Borgman argues it is important to attend as an underclassman, adding that it gives students an opportunity to practice their elevator speech — a quick pitch used to market oneself to a company or organization.

With more than 70 corporations and volunteer organizations participating in the fair, Fairfield University’s Career Planning Center organized a diverse list of employers, ranging from accounting firms to cosmetic producers like Avon.

However, according to Elizabeth Cortez ‘13, it has not always been this way. She explained that this is her first year as a Fairfield student when representatives from companies are not overwhelmingly focused on students seeking business degrees.

Cortez added, where a mechanical engineering major would usually only find one or two organizations interested in students pursuing degrees in the field, this semester she found more than 10 organizations seeking future employees with such a degree.

Aside from meeting with possible future employers, this semester’s career fair also provided students with the option of taking a headshot. The photos would be sent to students’ emails with the notion that they can be used for their LinkedIn profiles.

As a website, LinkedIn allows members to develop a professional network by connecting with others on the site. Fairfield’s attention to this reveals that today’s job searches are evolving to become more Internet-based, rather than newspaper-ad based. The headshot taken of a student presents a professional image as opposed to a photo taken from their Facebook page.

Ken Ducey, Jr., a representative from HamletHub — a local news organization — encouraged students to attend career fairs, stating that it is a “great opportunity to meet self-starting [and] motivated individuals one-on-one.”