All posts by Corey O'Neill

What to Watch: The Last Man on Earth

by Corey O’Neil

¨The Last Man¨ on Earth may currently be the funniest show on television; and no one is talking about it.

¨The Last Man¨ on Earth stars SNL alum Will Forte, Kristen Schaal and January Jones.

The series revolves around a man named Phil Miller (Forte,) who believes he is the last man on earth, after a deadly virus spreads across the planet. He looks for others and paints billboards and buildings stating he is alive in his hometown of Tuscon, Arizona. Before attempting suicide, he discovers another survivor, Carol (Schaal).

The two have very butting personalities, and Forte and Schaal play off one another wonderfully. Forte plays his character with such ease, which makes it easy to believe that he is also the creator and the main writer of the series.

The series is produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the team behind the Jump Street films and The LEGO Movie. They also help write the series.

The show made its mid-season three return on back on March, 5. The episode featured none of its stars, but revolved around a newly introduced character played by Kristen Wiig.

This past premiere episode showcases yet again just how stellar it is written. We know nothing about this character and want to know more about the current characters within the show. The last episode left off on a cliffhanger, but Wiig is just too remarkable in her role, which is perfectly written to fit her comedic skills that it does not matter. Her character will hopefully return later this season.

The characters that are later introduced throughout the seasons provide another side of how life would be when humanity is thought to be gone, but through a comedic lens. Mad Men’s January Jones plays Melissa. Known for her dramatic roles in film and television, Jones in surprisingly hilarious in her role here. Another standout in the series is Mel Rodriguez, who plays Todd.

The series premiered back in March of 2015 on FOX, racking in 5.75 million viewers. Since then, no episode has come close to this number of viewers. It currently averages around 2.5 million viewers per episode, during its time slot of 9:30 p.m. on Sunday nights.

Rarely do you hear about this series, especially for it being on a major broadcast network like FOX. It has been nominated for five Emmy Awards since its premiere back in 2015. It is a great show that you show definitely check out!

Upcoming Concerts in CT

by Corey O’Neill

Connecticut is scattered with great concert venues. Whether at a local bar or at a much larger scene, there seems to be an intriguing show almost every weekend. Here are some of the notable upcoming shows around the state to look out for.

 

Bastille – Friday, March 31, Mohegan Sun

British indie pop band Bastille, sky-rocketed to the mainstream back in 2013, thanks to their radio smash-hit “Pompeii,” from their first LP “Bad Blood.” After a few years touring and recording, the group is back with a new record entitled “Wild World,” which was released this past September. Catch them at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, March 31. Tickets are still available from as low as $29, but act fast!

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Big Sean – Friday, April 7, Toyota Oakdale Theatre

Detroit rapper Big Sean is currently touring his newest album “I Decided,” which was released by GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings last month. Known for putting on a great show, Big Sean will look to put on another exciting performance at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre on Friday, April 7. Tickets are currently available by Live Nation for around $50.

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The Decemberists – Saturday, April 15, College Street Music Hall

College Street Music Hall is a relatively new location in New Haven, and it is rapidly growing in popularity. Since its opening back in May of 2015, the venue has hosted many favorite artists among young adults. Tickets usually go for around $20, regardless of who is performing. Indie band The Decemberists, will be taking the stage on Saturday, April 15. Other notable upcoming shows include Mayday Parade in May, and City and Colour in June. Great shows at a great venue for a cheap price!

 

Eric Church — Thursday and Friday, April 27 and 28, Mohegan Sun

For country fans, Eric Church will be performing back to back nights in later April. Church is currently touring his sixth studio album, “Mr. Misunderstood” for his “Holdin’ My Own Tour 2017.” Church has no opener for this tour and is playing two sets per show. Tickets are a bit pricey for this one, with prices starting from as low as $100.

 

The Fray – Sunday, April 30, Foxwoods

The Fray will be playing The Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Sunday, April 30. The group may not be releasing new music anytime soon other than their most recent single “Singing Low,” but they are touring to promote their greatest hits album, “Through the Years: The Best of the Fray.” Tickets start at $60.

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‘Have Mercy’ Returns With a New Single

by Thomas Redding

Have Mercy is a progressive rock band from Baltimore, Maryland that gained most of their popularity from their intricate and powerful lyrics. Lead vocalist Brian Swindle normally dives into deep and emotional subjects, including love, longing, heartbreak and self-discovery. These subjects build a connection between the band and their listeners.

Most listeners range from adolescents to those in their early twenties, who are experiencing the same situations and share the same emotions as the lyrics express. The band recently released a new single titled “Coexist,” off their upcoming album, titled “Make The Best Of It,” to be released April 21. The single has flashier qualities that differ from the typical sound of the band both lyrically and instrumentally.

The band is normally known for Swindle’s raspy voice, alternating between softer parts and aggressive, thicker yelling, while the instruments normally give off a soft and sweet rock vibe.

However, in the new single, Swindle takes the song from a more melodic side, and refrains from stretching the limits of his vocals, while keeping the raspy tone. Swindle shows his refrain in the verses, but raises his voice as he breaks into the chorus. One can speculate that this is done to emphasize the lyrical content of the chorus, which addresses that, as you re-encounter people of your past, they are likely to have changed, just as you have. Instrumentally, there are some distinguishable differences. The instrumentation is a lot more polished than their previous releases. It debuts a louder, more aggressive sound for the band.

The distinctive change has caused some mixed feelings from fans. Some listeners enjoy a rugged song because it reiterates back into the lyrical content. Additionally, the new track does not fit well with the rest of their discography, which, on the other hand, brings interest to fans and some anticipation in what’s to come for the band. They may seem to be straying from their creepier sounding songs, and headed into a catchier album that consists of more pop qualities. However, the difference between the previous and present sounds, shows just how versatile and talented the members of Have Mercy are.

Have Mercy has been together and touring for about six years. They have released two split EPs with other bands, alongside an EP and two full-length albums. They’ve come to master the emo-rock sound as well as gather an audience of loyal listeners. The new single blends the melodic content from their first EP while tweaking, yet staying true to the rock, instrumental sound of their previous album from 2015.

Their past releases, however, were recorded with a different mindset than this upcoming album. Their first EP and album were completely self-recorded; the band was not signed to a record label, had no producer and was not pressured by time constraints. They gained some popularity from those first releases, and received the attention of Hopeless Records. They were later signed to Hopeless in summer of 2014, and given the opportunity to make another album, called “A Place of Our Own.”

Many bands struggle with a debut album on a record label, due to the extraneous amounts of pressure to be efficient in album making and to have the album sell, which can often stunt natural flow of ideas and production. Have Mercy had to push out an album within about two months, and it showed in the content. The album is definitely good, but listeners can tell, there are some filler tracks.

This brings hope that there will be much more to expect in the upcoming album, which they have had over two years to work on. This has given them some artistic freedom, which can be heard in their new single, which I would promptly rate a solid 7/10. This elongated period has also allowed them to naturally mature and find their unique sound and style. Have Mercy shows their listeners there is still a lot left to be heard from them.

Review: ‘The Laramie Project’ Preaches Humanity and Compassion

CCSU Department of Theatre Performs ‘The Laramie Project’

by Kayla Murphy

Over the course of the week hundreds attended the play “The Laramie Project” showcased by The Central Connecticut State University Department of Theatre every night from Feb. 28, to March 4, at 7:30 p.m. There was a Friday matinee and admission was free for students Tuesday, Wednesday night and Friday morning.

Originated by the Tectonic Theatre Project in 2000, “The Laramie Project” is a documentary-play that focuses on hundreds of real-life interviews about the reaction to the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shephard in Laramie, Wyoming. The murder was declared as a hate-crime and brought attention to the lack of hate-crime laws in several states, including Wyoming. The show was divided into two acts and 13 cast members portrayed over 60 characters in a series of short scenes.

CCSU – The Laramie Project Dress Rehearsal – February 27, 2017

Director of the show and Theatre professor, Thom Delventhal, chose a show that touched upon many current events and issues, such as LGBTQ rights, religion and the use of media coverage.

“I’ve been looking for a simple, concrete message in the play that can help society heal,” said Delventhal. “So many people that voted for Trump said they did so because they were sick of not being listened to. But now that he is in office, the danger many immigrants, women, Muslims, people with disabilities, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community feel, have increased dramatically. Government is completely divided along party lines.”

Senior Theatre major, Nick Carrano, enjoyed working with such a close-knit cast and touching upon very important issues.

“In the end, we’re all human,” Carrano said, “Regardless of race, or religion, or sexuality, it’s not hard to accept people. Hate will never win; that legacy will never win. Love is what matters. I think this show does a good job portraying that love. ‘The Laramie Project’ is a cultural revolution and is a life lesson that I hope the audience understands,” Carrano said.

However, performing such a moving piece comes with challenges. Both Carrano and his fellow actor Jose Roman, a senior Communication major, had difficulties with accents and voices.

“I played the roles of Andy Paris, Matt Mickleson, Bill McKinney, Andrew Gomez, Kerry Drake and Cal Rerucha,” said Roman, “The most challenging part was coming up with different and distinct accents that the audience would be able to identify. Thom taught us to keep our voices loud and clear. We were able to adapt to it very quickly.”

Another challenge the crew faced was the costume changes for over 60 different characters.

Christopher Hoyt, scenic and costume designer, had the idea for all the cast members to wear black.

“We wanted them to be costumed in all black with different costume pieces to accent their character change. Our wardrobe was actually set on stage, which was an intricate part in the story telling. For the most part, every character was on stage; very rarely would they be backstage,” said Hoyt.

The most notable costume pieces were the angel wings worn by several cast members to block Reverend Freed Phelps, played by sophomore theatre major Kendra Garnett, from disrupting and protesting Matthew Shephard’s funeral.

CCSU – The Laramie Project Dress Rehearsal – February 27, 2017

“We took hiking backpack frames and lots of muslin material to create the frame of the wings. In the show, the cast plays reporters constantly writing notes and ripping them off. My students Haley Nelson and Alex Corey came up with the idea to take those notes and pin them onto the wings to create ‘feathers.’ It was a very creative and genius idea,” Hoyt added.

Overcoming quick costume changes and different mid-west dialects, the cast and crew performed their hearts out.

Delventhal’s final thoughts were, “We must listen to the stories of others without reacting or judging. We have to listen without being offended.”

The next show the Theatre Department will be hosting is the musical “Into the Woods” from April 25, to April 30. Tickets will be available at CENtix Box Office, located in the Student Center.

We Need the Truth

The New York Times ran a television ad for the first time since 2010 during the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony on ABC., firing back at President Donald Trump and emphasizing the importance of a free press. 

During the commercial block, a white screen appeared, with the words “The truth is, our nation is more divided than ever.” As the 30-second advert continued, the words “The truth is” remained on screen, with a variety of different messages following. As voices of reporters grew louder in the background, the advertisement ended with the words, “The truth is more important now more than ever.”

Although the advertisement does not directly call out the 45th president, it is clear by its message and tone that the statements provided target the travel ban and illicit ties to Russia.

In response to the commercial, Trump jumped on his favorite social media platform to share his thoughts. “For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly,” Trump tweeted.

Even as Trump continues to claim The New York Times is failing, the statement appears to be false. In reality, the Times actually added 132,000 paid subscriptions since Election Day, which is ten times the newspaper’s growth during the same period a year earlier.

The commercial was very upfront with its message. There is no footage or images that appear on screen. Instead, all that appears is a simple black text on a white screen. The Times advert is clear, direct and frank.

“The ad’s mission is to tap into national dialogue going on right now about facts and the truth and what that means in today’s world,” according to The New York Times branding executive David Rubin.

“The idea is to be a part of that discussion about what does it mean to find the truth,” said Rubin. “What does that mean in a world of ‘fake news?’ What is the role of journalism and journalists in that process and what is the role of the reader in supporting that journalism?”

The New York Times is one of many news outlets, including CNN, to be banned from a Friday casual press conference with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

It seems the Times is making a point, a very concise one, that says they will find a way to inform the public and decided to make that undeniably clear during one of the largest entertainment shows of the year.

They know how fundamental a free press is to a democracy and agree with Walter Lippmann that “there can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” 

Best Picture Goes To ‘Moonlight,’ Not ‘La La Land’

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by Brennah Dallaire

#Oscarfail and #envelopegate began to trend on social media after there was a serious mix up at the 89th Academy Awards, causing presenter Warren Beatty to announce the wrong winner for Best Picture. It wasn’t until the “La La Land” cast and crew were on stage and awards in hand that the mistake was corrected, and “La La Land” Producer Jordan Horowitz presented “Moonlight” with the award.

“There’s been a mistake. ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won Best Picture. This is not a joke, ‘Moonlight’ has won Best Picture,” “La La Land” Producer Jordan Horowitz said shortly after making his acceptance speech.

“’Moonlight,’ Best Picture,” Horowitz repeated, holding up the card with the award winner’s name.

Talk show host and host of the Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel, came back on stage just after Horowitz announced the real winner.

“Guys, this is very unfortunate what happened. Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this,” Kimmel joked, referencing a similar issue that occurred at the Miss Universe pageant.

“I’m gonna be really proud to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight,’” Horowitz said. Horowitz presented the Oscar statue to the Director of Best Picture winner “Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins.

Jenkins commented on the situation later in the evening on Twitter.

“Jordan Horowitz. Wow. I’m slipping slowly into reflection, perspective. Much respect to that dude,” tweeted Jenkins.

Warren Beatty spoke after Horowitz, trying to clear up the mistake that had been made.

“I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, “La La Land”. That’s why I took such a long look at Faye [co-presenter, Faye Dunaway], and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny…this is ‘Moonlight’ the Best Picture,” Beatty said. Applause from the audience followed.

Apparently, the wrong card was given to the two hosts, they assumed what they were reading was indeed the Best Picture nominated film “La La Land”.

The mistake eclipsed most other memorable moments from the show. Including candy, cookies and donuts being dropped from the ceiling in little parachutes.

“How are you guys holding up? Are you hungry? This is a show about the movies and you really can’t have the movies without candy. It’s un-American really. Close your eyes and wish very hard,” said Kimmel.

The treats were dropped a few different times. “Hidden Figures” star Octavia Spencer was shown digging into her sweet treats as co-star Taraji P. Henson leans in from behind her mouthing, “are you sharing?”

Kimmel did not make too many politically charged comments, but did send a personal tweet to President Donald Trump.

“Hey @realDonaldTrump u up?” Kimmel tweeted, showing it on the big screen of Dolby Theatre.

Kimmel then sent another tweet.

“@realDonaldTrump #Merylsayshi,” Kimmel tweeted as a riff on President Trump’s comments about Meryl Streep, after she criticized the President in a speech she made at the Golden Globes.

Kimmel surprised Oscar guests by inventing a tour bus of unsuspecting tourists into the Dolby Theaters and through the front row of the audience. Members of the tour were star struck, taking photos and selfies with famous actors. Mahershala Ali let one man hold his Oscar statue. Ryan Gosling hugged and kissed one woman of the group. Denzel Washington pretended to officiate the wedding of an engaged couple. One lucky tourist even shook and kissed Nicole Kidman’s hand. Many of the actors could be seen taking videos on their cellphones of the meet and greet.

A tearful Jennifer Aniston presented the ‘In Memoriam’ segment of the show, giving a special farewell to ‘Twister’ star Bill Paxton who died Saturday.

Other memorable moments included Jimmy Kimmel lifting young ‘Lion’ star Sunny Pawar into the air, to the famous Lion King song “The Circle of Life”.

Throughout the show, Jimmy Kimmel poked fun of Matt Damon, continuing their ongoing gag of beefing with each other.

“And tonight, in the spirit of heaven and bringing people to together,  I would like to bury the hatchet with someone I’ve had issues with. Now Matt, I’ve known Matt for a long time. I’ve known Matt so long, when I first met Matt, I was the fat one,” Kimmel said.

Kimmel was later shown conducting the orchestra to play as Damon tried to speak as a presenter.

Queen B is Out!

by Venus Zahid

The queen has officially bowed out. Beyoncé has officially announced that she will no longer be headlining Coachella 2017, per her doctor´s orders.

In a surprise Instagram post about three weeks ago, Beyoncé announced that she is pregnant with twins. Kneeling in front of an orchestra of roses with a veil over her face, she wore a berry-colored bra and silky-blue bottoms.

Her caption shocked fans, she wrote, “We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your well wishes. – The Carters.” Her sentimental tone left fans wanting to know more, as hearts were yearned to know Blue Ivy’s take on becoming a big sister at the age of five.

It was announced at the beginning of January that the megastar was set to be one of the headliners of the festival. Coachella is known for its killer fashion and its celebrity attendance, and of course, to listen to some of the biggest stars in the music industry.

But on Thursday, Feb. 23, Coachella made the following statement on Facebook: “Following the advice of her doctors to keep a less rigorous schedule in the coming months, Beyoncé has made the decision to forgo performing at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.”

“However, Goldenvoice and Parkwood are pleased to confirm that she will be a headliner at the 2018 festival. Thank you for your understanding.”

Although she won’t make an appearance this year, fans can look forward to her grand entrance in 2018– here’s to hoping she doesn’t get pregnant with triplets!

Beyoncé still conquered the Grammy stage on Sunday, Feb. 12. The Grammy Awards were her first public appearance since announcing that she was pregnant with twins. Beyoncé performed two hit songs from her 2016 album “Lemonade,” “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles.” Beyoncé’s performance was announced by her mother, Tina Knowles.

As if she wasn’t already a perfect mother, she dedicated her performance to motherhood. She had all eyes on her, wearing an extraordinary golden down with a matching headdress. Beyoncé entered the Grammy Awards nominated for nine awards, and came away with two. One for Best Music Video for “Formation,” and Best Urban Contemporary Album for “Lemonade.”

Let it be known that “Queen Bee” might be taking a break, but she will be back belting her high notes.

 

Netflix It: Hush

by Natalie Dest

With its leading slogan of “silence can be killer,” director of this heart-racing horror-thriller, Mike Flanagan, brings the act of silence to a new dimension.

“Hush” differs from the typical home-invasion thriller. However, this game of cat and mouse delivers a wide range of suspense, making its viewers wince and flinch. After its premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, this intense and breathless horror made its grand appearance on Netflix, gathering attention from avid binge-watchers.

Katie Siegal, who co-wrote the screenplay with Flanagan, stars as Maddie, the fiercely-independent heroine who has been deaf since she was a child. In hopes of seeking seclusion to finish the ending to her ‘in the works’ fiction novel, Maddie moves herself to a much rural area with minimal neighbors.

This isolation provides Maddie with the perfect environment to complete her work. However, it is a more than a perfect setup for the typical horror-cliche of a killer in a white mask to appear.

This roaming homicidal maniac is played by John Gallagher Jr., who is seen to cut off Maddie’s connections to the outside world. He continuously toys with her, physically and psychologically, as the film goes on, making it unsure of what his next move will be. In one Flanagan’s earlier scenes, this unnamed killer steals Maddie’s cell phone and texts pictures he has taken of her directly to the laptop she is using.

Gallagher’s character doesn’t count for Maddie’s willingness and attempts to fight back. “Hush” places a character with a handicap to be perceived as a disadvantage, serving as a tease for its potential viewers. But specifically in regards to this tense thriller, Maddie’s unexpected advantages are the keys to understanding this film.

As the masked murderer torments her inside and outside the house, the inner strength of our rooting hero is put to the ultimate test. The consistent back and forth between hero and villain is initially gripping, as the advantage shifts continuously from one scene to the next. However, this fight for domination eventually turns into the standard killer’s territory.

It’s not shocking that most of the action unfolds through a limited script of dialogue, other than a brief voice-over of Siegel speaking as Maddie’s conscience. With this lack of verbal communication, Flanagan uses this as an opportunity to use sound in different creative ways. He excluded audio completely to put viewers into the heroine’s shoes, and deliver a surprise jolt when necessary. It’s often a horror cliche to include bursts of loud noise and are rarely seen to be used effectively. But, are purposefully planted within this film and used for the right reasons.

All in all, the scenario of “Hush” is centered around a person who can’t hear, forced to fight off someone who not only is at an advantage, but also has weapons at their reach. The absolute worst nightmare to say the least. Through the unexpected brutal violence, this rated “R” horror embodies the essence of the words “suspense” and “thriller.”

21 Chump Street

by Kayla Murphy

The Department of Theatre at Central Connecticut State University held what was considered to be a heartfelt student production of “21 Chump Street,” in Davidson Hall Thursday, Feb. 23.

“This show was very touching,” said CCSU theatre tech major Terysa Malootian. “It pulled at the heart strings.”

“21 Chump Street” is a 15-minute musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is well-known for his Broadway shows “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.” Based on true events, the musical is about undercover cops in Florida busting drug deals in high schools.

The show opened with Justin LaBoy, played by Jamel Jimerson, walking into his final semester of high school. As a straight-A and friendly, it’s hard not to like Justin. However, when a beautiful Puerto Rican and Dominican girl named Naomi Rodriguez, played by Madalena Pattacini, walks into two of Justin’s classes, he instantly falls in love.

Justin went great lengths to obtain her affection and attention, and to get Naomi to go out with him. When Naomi asks Justin to get her weed, he hesitates but obliges. Not knowing that Naomi is an undercover cop, Justin makes an “irreversibly bad decision.” Sentenced to a week in jail and a three-year probation. Justin can kiss his dreams of college goodbye.

His first time ever directing a play, Dustin Wong, a senior digital film and TV production major, enjoyed the challenge.

“I’ve directed music videos and short films for class, but nothing like this. After being in two main-stage theatre department productions, I knew I wanted to direct a show. We’ve had a lot of fun working on this,” Wong said.

Wong explained how the show is supposed to be cast for “people of color.”

“I myself am a person of color,” said Wong, “The project that Lin-Manuel created was a show where people of color could shine. However, there are not a lot of people of color in the theatre department. We had some light controversy about how the show was cast, but I firmly believe that there is no need for labels. It’s just a show.”

Wong believes the show’s focus is more on a love story than it is about the color of someone’s skin.

“It’s one of the main reasons why I chose to direct this show as my first student-directed play. It’s a love story everyone can relate to,” Wong said. “It’s about doing everything you can to love someone, but mistakes happen, and you wind up paying the consequences.”

Victoria Johnson, a sophomore criminology and theatre student, was asked by Wong to be his stage manager for the show.

“We had a lot of challenges facing this show. Several of our cast members became ill, so we lost a lot of rehearsal time. Then after the major snow storm that hit two weeks ago, we had to postpone our show. But in the end, the show really came together and we all enjoyed working on it,” said Johnson.

Jamel Jimerson, a sophomore communications major at CCSU, said that he and the cast had been working really hard on this performance for over two months.

“We tried to make it the best experience the audience has ever had in 15 minutes,” said Jimerson.

The next show hosted by the CCSU Theatre Department will be the “Laramie Project,” directed by Prof. Thom Delventhal. Located in the Black Box Theatre in Maloney Hall, show dates are from Feb. 28, to March 4. Tickets are available at the Centix Box Office in the Student Center.