Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Traveling Cheap Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

By P.J. Decoteau / Staff Writer

Good news, students! Now that Barack Obama is in office it’s once again safe to travel abroad without being generally hated by everyone – at least until you’ve finished your fifth beer and start acting like an asshole. Forget about the fact that the value of the dollar has dropped and give yourself the opportunity to bask in the new glow of being tolerated instead of loathed, like a misguided but well-meaning younger sibling.

The problem, of course, is that traveling remains an expensive and stressful undertaking that never seems to be worth the hassle. Fortunately for you, I’ve done the research and unearthed some tips and tricks to help make the process easier, quicker and cheaper.

Tickets: Most likely the biggest expense of the trip, you’ll find that the “Pricelines” and similar discount Web sites offer no real disparity between prices while boasting the “lowest priced tickets available”.

Luckily we students get pampered, probably out of pity for the insane amounts of money we spend on college, and can take advantage of student discounts that provide what the other Web sites don’t: actual discounts. I used StudentUniverse.com and saved over a hundred dollars, and all I had to do was re-enroll in school!

Passport: It’s pretty well known that getting your passport takes more time and effort than it would for you to write an 80-page dissertation on the passport-getting process. Aside from the fact that it costs, with picture included, around $115 for a tiny booklet with your photo inside, it seems criminal that it should take three to four months just to make the thing and send it through the mail.

You can save a few bucks by getting your picture done at Kinko’s, or you can just buy some cardboard paper and scissors, make one yourself, and hope you don’t get arrested (which you will). The real trick is in the timing. You can save yourself about two and a half months of waiting by applying at the end of the year, when the offices are all caught-up and applications slow down to a trickle. I applied in November and received it less than two weeks later – proof that bureaucracy only sucks most of the time.

Packing: Since most of you probably don’t want to do what I do, which involves about two or three days’ worth of clothing, a week or more abroad and no washing, I suggest picking and choosing what to bring wisely.

It’s an obvious but often forgotten fact that any checked luggage that weighs over 50 lbs. will cost you about $50 extra, depending on the airline. That’s money that could be spent on an extra night out. The simple answer is to admit that you don’t really need five pairs of shoes or ten wool sweaters for Italy in July. Besides, no one cares what you’re wearing abroad because everyone looks funny.

Money: The most important part is that you need some. With such a poor exchange rate at the moment, expect to spend more on everything, meaning that a dinner costing €10 will actually be costing you about $15.

As it is, traveling abroad is a lot like your first three or four dinner dates with a girl; put money aside to pay for dinner and then expect to pay about 25 percent more. Use the previous tips to save a bit, guilt-trip your parents into helping you out by reminding them that they still haven’t gotten you a present for your birthday (which was three months ago), and start buying Busch Beer instead of Sam Adams.

It’ll all be worth it when you can actually afford to do lavish foreign things like eating and going places. Just don’t forget the two golden rules of travel: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and, in the words of that annoying neighbor kid from Home Alone, “bring me back something nice”.

Album Review: Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘It’s Blitz!’

 

By P.J. Decoteau / Staff Writer

Karen O, in all of her ripped one-piece leotard sexiness, has apparently been listening to a good amount of early 80’s new-wave and Prince. Considering that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs gained notoriety for their back-to-basics rock formula (one guitarist, one drummer, and a crazy-ass singer) their leap into new sounds and synthesizers has been setting their fan base abuzz with worries of jumping the shark. After a few run-throughs with their new album, It’s Blitz!, I can officially declare the concerns to be legitimate. 

 

2006’s Show Your Bones, the band’s second release, softened the impact of their debut’s sharp edges and was clearly aiming for a more commercial appeal. Karen O’s distinct shriek and overflowing sex appeal seemed muted, as did guitarist Nick Zinner’s ragged riffs. Put simply, it just felt too put together compared with the debut’s about-to-fall-apart aesthetic that made the band so enthralling to begin with. 

After 2007’s EP Is Is it seemed as though the band were rearing back to let out another full album of dirty rockers, but they apparently had other plans. It’s Blitz! is heavy on the synths and light on anything that would remind listeners that this is, in fact, the same band that gave us “Black Tongue” and “Y Control”. I get it, change and moving forward and all that, but why mess with something so good? 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad album. Scattered throughout are some enjoyable, dance-ready tunes (highlights “Heads Will Roll” and “Dragon Queen”) and some songs that, with a simple shift in production values, could bring back some of that missing edge (“Dull Life” and “Shame and Fortune”). The real problem is that the band doesn’t seem to be having any fun anymore, and that tedium shows through on most of the album’s ten tracks. Opener and first single “Zero” represents the entire disc perfectly – It’s danceable but a bit monotonous and will leave you wanting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs that were dirty, sexy, loud and fun.

Chicago Supported by Cast

By Charles Desrochers / Staff Writer

This past weekend, CCSU put on its production of the musical, Chicago.

The musical is set in 1920’s Chicago around Roxie Hart, played by Sarah Kozlowski, who tries to reach for celebrity after she is thrust into the public eye when she kills her lover.  

The cast and crew did a fantastic job putting together a professional quality show. The lighting stood out the most as it brought much variety to the set that consisted mostly of a jail cell and a few desks.  Separate spaces were creatively added within the set through magnificent shading and coloring, so a tip of the hat must go to the lighting crew.

Acting was excellent and playful. All of the characters felt naturally suave and slick like they had been intended while garnering uproars and chuckles form the audience as it seamlessly weaved through the narrative.

The audio on the other hand was, overall well done, but spotty in parts.  On some occasions the actor’s voices, like Ally Brown as the operatic Mary Sunshine, came in clear and were not drowned by the ensemble. During other parts it seemed like the voices were struggling to be heard from the middle of the auditorium.  

In a play where everything was exceptional the audio was what fell to the floor. There were times when the trumpets seemed to drown out the vocals, but it didn’t happen quite enough as to draw attention away from the story.  

The only time the crowd wasn’t fixed on William Caswell’s portrayal of the slick lawyer Billy Flynn was during the climactic court scene and all of the attention was on the jury, who were all played by Doug Oliphaunt.  With all of his characters keeping the audience laughing he temporarily stole the show from the lead performers.

So, on opening night CCSU’s production was an astounding success.  The quality of the play coupled with the popular story of corruption in jazz era Chicago came together wonderfully. The audience felt invited by the constant breaking of the fourth wall and once the tickets were handed out they were entranced until the very end

Album Review: Love’s ‘Forever Changes’ Re-Release

By Sam Perduta / Special to The Recorder

Love were one of those sixties bands who had more influence on the world of music than actual commercial success, much like Buffalo Springfield or the Velvet Underground (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Fleet Foxes and Okkervil River claim Love impacted their music greatly).

Fronted by Arthur Lee, the first African-American frontman/guitarist in a rock n’ roll band (he was producing records while Jimi Hendrix was still on the “Chitlin’ Circuit”), Love were the kings of the Sunset Strip from 1965-68.

They discovered and signed The Doors to their record label, Elektra Records, and could count The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd as fans. Their 1967 album Forever Changes is a cult-classic and minor masterpiece, and stands out as one of the most unique records of the sixties.

Forever Changes is an album that grabs you from the start. The songs combine folky guitar strumming, West Coast psychedelia, existential lyricism, and Herb Alpert-esque brass sections, with great pop sensibility and harmonies.

The actual music is very uplifting – very reminiscent of other California bands of the time- but the lyrics are dark and brooding, and as introspective as anything Bob Dylan ever wrote. This is because Lee thought he was going to die while making the record, and wanted it to be his goodbye.

He belts out, “What Is Happening and How Have You Been/Got To Go But I’ll See You Again/And Oh, The Music Is So Loud/And then, I’ll Fade In To The Crowd”, and you know he truly feels like he’s about to leave the world forever.

The main theme of the lyrics are the dark side of the “peace and love generation”, and contain many existential themes, which can be found in songs like “The Red Telephone” and “The Daily Planet”. The lyrics are so well crafted that the subject matter creates an almost “anti-chemistry” with the backing music. The album has a feel and atmosphere all its own.

Love’s Forever Changes is a masterful album by a band that was at its breaking point, in more ways than one. Due to Lee’s growing paranoia, and rampant drug-use within the band, Love split in 1968. While the members continued to make music in other outfits and produced great work, Forever Changes remains their pinnacle, and is a must-listen for any serious fan of sixties rock, or music in general.

A two-disc collector’s edition of Love’s Forever Changes was released in April of 2008 and is available in music stores nationally.


The Third Man Set To Darken The Screen at Real Art Ways

By Michael Walsh / Asst. Entertainment Editor

A zither begins to play. A tour of post-war Vienna is given by a British police officer with a voiceover beginning “I never knew the old Vienna”.

This is how the memorable The Third Man, gets its feet off the ground. This memorable introduction is just the beginning of one of the most remarkable and mysterious films in the history of cinema.

The British film noir, directed by the overwhelmingly underrated Carol Reed, has been talked about constantly in the 60 years since its release, and for good reason. The Third Man is noir at its finest. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) arrives in Vienna only to find out that the friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), who invited him there, is dead. Martins dives deeper into the question of accident or murder by digging up all possible information and sources he can.

Film director Peter Bogdanovich puts it best. While entirely debatable, he likes to call The Third Man the best non-auteur film ever. This meaning the best culmination of talents, rather than a film that was being written and directed by the same person who also applies his or her distinct style to the film, like many films by the likes of Ingmar Bergman or Jean-Luc Godard.

The Third Man shows a lot of artists at the top of their game. The culmination of talent in The Third Man starts with Graham Greene’s screenplay. Greene used his novella of the same name to create the atmosphere, characterization and story for the screenplay that ends up bleeding from the film. His mysterious noir story was originally intended only as source material for the screenplay before it was published as a full novella.

The trend in talent continues to the screen with great performance after great performance. Orson Welles is, as writer Luc Sante says, the ghost in the machine for The Third Man. Alluded to constantly, referenced in the title and the most powerful and moving performer in the film, Welles is at his most mystifying in his limited time on screen. The banter between Welles and the perfectly American Joseph Cotten, two often on screen partners, is at its highest during the Ferris wheel scene in which Welles even added his own now famous line of dialogue to the script.

Acting doesn’t end with Cotten and Welles. The entire cast triumphs greatly and are key in making The Third Man what it is. Alida Valli is very dame while Trevor Howard is the cunning Major Calloway, the man running the investigation. Each performance, whether it is large or small, adds to the film in a major way.

The final key to the success of The Third Man is its director, Carol Reed. Vienna was such a beautifully photographable city in the time of this film. The damp, wet shots of the streets and buildings at night are evidence of the ability to make Vienna stand out as another character in the film.

The black and white style of the film noir hides the pain the post-war city might have, leaving viewers with only the mystery of the city. The best example of all this is the film’s conclusion that takes viewers from city streets to suffocating sewers. In an attempt to leave the film’s all too good mystery as alive and well as possible I will only comment on the finale as being tense and dazzling. It has made for some of the best and most impressive chiaroscuro moments in the film noir genre. It’s both visually arresting and an absolutely satisfying finish to the film.

The Third Man is one of the greatest films ever made. I’m a believer of this and so are many others. Whether it is Orson Welles’ limited yet captivating performance or Anton Karas’ unmistakable and perfectly suitable zither score, The Third Man is a timeless film entrenched in many minds for many reasons and will be stuck in the minds of many newcomers for many years to come.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li Fails

By Sean Fenwick / Staff Writer

To start off, screw Street Fighter: The legend of Chun-Li. Whoever thought that this film was a good idea either has some sort of mental disease or is a shit-flinging monkey. In a world where your cinematic choices are Madea Goes to Jail, The Jonas Brothers Concert in 3D or Street Fighter: The legend of Chun-Li, feel defeated by Hollywood.

Kristin Kreuk plays Chun-Li, a concert pianist living in Honk Kong whose life is up rooted when she discovers her father is kidnapped by this big evil man named Bison (Neal McDonough) who looks nothing like his video game character.

Bison uses Chun-Li’s father to set up big contracts so that he can turn the water front slums into high-class luxury real estate. That’s right the big evil Bison that was looking for world domination in the first Street Fighter movie has now set his sights on real-estate. How can a simple pianist stop such a fiend you ask?

Well have no worry, she fortunately receives an ancient Chinese scroll in the mail and decides to follow its clues to a crime fighting organization known as The Order of The Web. This organization is led by Gen (Robin Shou) and in a matter of days it seems Chun-Li is a master of all their ancient martial arts, which includes the ability to defy gravity with spin kicks, harness her anger for maximum power and to throw concentrated energy balls at people.

Directed by Andrzej Bartkwiak, known for his excellent films like Romeo Must Die, Cradle 2 the Grave, and Doom – oh wait all of those movies suck. It’s evident that Bartkwiak has no idea what to do when he’s in the director’s chair. Every scene fumbles around until a fight breaks out and when the fighting is going on it still looks like Bartkwiak is clueless.

I don’t want to write this film off completely. Michael Clarke Duncan and the Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo as Bison’s sadistic henchmen Balrog and Vega were all right to watch. And then there was Chris Klein (American Pie) as some random Interpol agent who was there for no reason, his acting was perhaps the worst part of the film.

How could this movie not have sucked so much?

Well for starters the shit-flinging monkey could have decided on a better character then Chun-Li, or he could have chosen to get a better director. The thing that upsets me the most about this movie is that they have the audacity to set up for a sequel.

Chun-Li discovers a flier about some underground “Street Fighting” tournament and its rumored that a dude named Ryu is attending. That’s sounds like a really great idea, if it was in this movie. If you take anything from this article I hope it is my warning: do not see this movie.

Album Review: U2’s ‘No Line on the Horizon’

By Michael Walsh / Asst. Entertainment Editor

U2, love them or hate them, must be given credit. Since their first album in 1980, the band has had the same four-man lineup and has stayed successful keeping their sound fresh and ever-changing.

The band’s latest album, No Line on the Horizon, is their first album since 2004 and another example of how U2 tends to make things different.

For me, U2 has always been a band that sits in the middle ground of my musical taste. Rarely do I ever find myself listening to any U2 albums from start to beginning before finding myself wandering away from it to something more pleasing to my ears. In fact, outside of songs like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Where the Streets Have No Name”, most of their work strikes me as unmemorable and simplistic sounding mainstream rock.

No Line on the Horizon is a bit different. It by no means is a perfect album or an album that has made me become a U2 fan, but it is most certainly an enjoyable listening experience. Brian Eno, whose latest critical achievement in producing Coldplay’s Viva la Viva or Death and All His Friends, joins U2 once again to produce and add his touch to the new album. If the first few tracks are any indication, the touch paid off. The album, which opens with the title track “No Line on the Horizon”, impresses from the get go.

The opening title track is an energetic barrage. Bono still has a voice. The album proceeds to “Magnificent” which at first doesn’t sound like a U2 song at all. The guitar at the beginning is mean and angry. Bono’s vocals add a lot to the second song.

No Line on the Horizon is an album that grows on you. When I first listened to the album a few weeks ago I wasn’t sure what to think. The songs are catchy, enjoyable and fun. The Eno touch is alive and well on tracks like the first single “Get on Your Boots”, “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” and “Stand Up Comedy”. The industrial and electronic vibe on “Get on Your Boots” seems to be a first for the band.

For a band that has released 12 studio albums in nearly 30 years, it’s hard to ask for more than what we’ve received here. As a non-fan of U2, I greatly appreciated and enjoyed their newest effort. It might not have made me become an Edge-head, but I do have new respect for the group that just won’t go away.

Watchmen Sets New Standard In Graphic Novel Adaptation

By Michael Walsh / Asst. Entertainment Editor

It doesn’t really shock me that one of Alan Moore’s main influences when writing the Watchmen book was the great and unique novelist William S. Burroughs. Both Moore, with Watchmen, and Burroughs, with Naked Lunch, are the minds behind two of the more unfilmable source materials, eventually turned into films.

Long before Zack Snyder took the challenging task of bringing the celebrated graphic novel to life on the big screen, the concept of a Watchmen film had been attached to different production companies and many names, such as heralded directors Terry Gilliam and Darren Aronofsky.

Nearly 23 years after the film’s initial rights were given to 20th Century Fox; the Watchmen film has finally come to fruition. All that now remains is the question of whether the film was worth the wait and whether the choice to film the once thought to be unfilmable, was a smart idea.

Watchmen, which follows Rorschach’s investigation of the death of an ex-superhero, is a tough film to review. Considering the different windows the audience could be looking through when viewing the film makes me fully realize what this film is to one might not be for another.

For starters, you’ve got your obsessed fanboy who has read the novel countless times picking detail after detail from the book’s deep subtext. Lower on the awareness chain are the viewers of my kind. These are the ones that read the graphic novel once after being mesmerized by the original trailer last summer. Last but not least are the members of the audience who are totally oblivious to the subject matter or the characters (don’t worry, that isn’t a sin in my book, just a fact).

For most films, making this distinction wouldn’t be important. But, folks, this isn’t The Dark Knight. Watchmen is a violent, gritty, strange, sprawling and extremely in-depth piece of work. This isn’t a film chock full of action. What it is though is a story, and a complex and complete one at that. It’s a mesmerizing period tale set in an actively catastrophic, politically challenged and tense threat of nuclear world war, ready to explode at any minute.

A diehard fan would hold this novel in the highest regard. It’s one of the most important graphic novels ever made. A one-time reader like me would be hard-pressed to find themselves caring too much about every little detail, worrying mostly about the large plot turns and devices. A newcomer to the deep story might just end up slightly confused.

Watching Watchmen was like watching the graphic novel come to life in a way I didn’t think was possible. Zack Snyder hit it spot on. His previous films, the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead and the 2006 graphic novel adaptation of 300 seem like child’s play in comparison to this sprawling superhero saga.

One of the most important reasons for this film’s success is the perfect casting. Each character turned out exactly as I imagined they would when I was reading through the graphic novel. It would have been very easy for Warner Bros. to give a part to a big named actor rather than dishing out roles to the most fitting contestants.

The important thing to understand about these impressive performances is that they aren’t incredibly jaw-dropping in terms of acting ability, but flawless in terms of producing an accurate and believable portrayal of each character. None of these performances will win awards, but they don’t have to for this type of film to succeed. The film is undoubtedly fronted by Jackie Earle Haley’s fierce and sympathetic performance as Rorschach. The stand out performance gives absolute justice to the gritty character.

I can’t possibly touch on every performance but I will add that Billy Crudup played Dr. Manhattan in a never overbearing fashion, Patrick Wilson was an excellent Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II), Matthew Goode was a perfectly cunning and deceptive Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan was ever so brutal as Edward Blake (The Comedian).The cast as a whole was entirely impressive and made this film what it was.

The most challenging part of translating Watchmen to the silver screen was bringing such a complex narrative jam-packed with philosophical themes and meaning down to a 163-minute film. Moore covered it all in robust fashion in 416 pages in his original text.

The first screenplay was written in 2001 by David Hayter before being handed over to Alex Tse to make revisions and rewrites. For all intents and purposes, these two faithfully captured all that was needed to be told.

The backstories of characters that intertwined with the films present day events such as Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan were executed perfectly and Snyder handled them beautifully on screen. The mood of the film was ever-changing, but with good reason. While not all the details are as you will find them in the graphic novel, you would be troubled to find a more faithful and spot on adaptation of Watchmen than this. The talked about tweaked ending is simply a different plot device that results in the same outcome.

Visually, Snyder excelled. His keen ability to produce such visually impressive films brought the vibrant and colorful pages of the Watchmen graphic novel alive. He didn’t so much put his stamp on the film as much as he translated the story over. Snyder created a true Watchmen world as far as I’m concerned. Costumes and sets were impressive and truly helped engulf me as a viewer.

My one complaint about this absolutely satisfying film comes from the odd and strange musical decisions. Rather than opting to use just the original score by Tyler Bates, Snyder decided to use songs from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and others. While I particularly liked the use of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changing” in the opening credits, something about Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” didn’t fit the role. It was strange and out of place, an overlook by Snyder and the rest of the crew perhaps. I can see newcomers not liking this film.

I can see hardcore fans being obsessively picky. Not to say that if you fall into either of those two categories you’re doomed of not enjoying this film the way I did. While others might have found the film too long and over encompassing, I personally am itching to get my hands on the future director’s cut DVD.

Watchmen by all means isn’t perfect, but it is spectacular. For me, it sets a new standard of brilliance in graphic novel and comic book adaptations. The Dark Knight was one thing, but Watchmen is something of a different breed.

From Flying to Jiving: Ornithopera, AVIARY’s Final Migration

By Karyn Danforth / Lifestyles Editor

Set up in one corner of Maloney Hall’s second floor art gallery were four tables of piano harps: the gutted insides of the giant grand instruments.

“It’s a pretty amazing invention,” said Wesleyan University graduate student Max Heath. As his hands rested upon a large block of glass, Heath moved it across the piano strings as a camera projected the glass and strings onto the wall behind him. “I hardly have to move the glass to create sound,” Heath said.

This was only an element of Michael Pestel’s multimedia installation, Ornithopera, a closing performance of his exhibition Aviary, which drawn upon the lost voices of endangered and extinct bird species is also a celebration of the ones still alive. In the orchestrated event, it is scored for a minimum of 31 sound and a couple movement performers with additional participating members of the audience.

Students and faculty from Central Connecticut and Wesleyan were aligned against each side of the galley with different instruments, the majority being handcrafted by Pestel. Opposite to the piano harps was slate drawing tables and an upright piano; the other two contained of a row of typewriters and slate writing podia, which consisted of a board of holes with a mixture of stones in each.

The audience lay inside these four walls of sound and eight performers with assorted string and wind instruments are inside of them centered around a bird cage atop a circular moving platform.

Explaining the background of Ornithopera’s significance, Pestel spoke to the audience outside the center of the circle he’d eventually step foot in. “The most important thing about this is listening to the lost voices, the voices of extinct birds species that have disappeared,” he said. “These species have been eradicated since the 1500s by the United States. Fifty percent of all animals will be endangered and extinct by the end of the century.”

Pestel urged audience participation with slates and chalk to create their own additional noises. The slates weren’t ordinary however. Dan Yashinsky, a Toronto based storyteller, told the audience a tale of his mother and the slates were saved from her roof; they were perched on by eight decades of birds.

Two Butoh Slowalkers (movement performers) slowly made their way around the perimeter of the room; as they crossed an instrument, it signaled the noises initiated by each student. On the upright piano Brian Parks, a concert pianist and composer, pounded down random patterns of notes at the same time; each note represented a letter in the Latin spelling of the species of birds.

Briskly typing away bird proverbs into the old-fashioned typewriters, CCSU art history professor Dr. Elizabeth Langhorne’s eco-art class also chanted little utterances under their breath.

And just like that, Pestel was moving back and forth, using various instruments as he strolled around the room; his two-year old daughter Josey dawdled around holding a baby doll, ran to Pestel and, still playing his instrument, swiftly scooped her into arms and carried her around.

He then stepped to the center and sat down with the eight performers, which was the invitation for the audience to partake. Chalking it up, some did rhythmic beats with straight lines, some went more free-form and curvaceous onto the slate. While the performers inside the circle kept to one instrument, Pestel used several bite sized items; mixing the melange of noises in the air. Pestel pulled out a traditional flute, Josey crawled into his lap with a doll still clutched in her hand.

All of the different sounds did seem a little intoxicating, enhanced by glancing at the videos projected on the walls of Pestel’s various close up experiences with birds; playing an instrument as the bird chirps back at him.

The sounds lasted for a couple Butoh Slowalkers rotations; about 20 minutes worth of ears ringing with high, low and clinky-clanky noises. For what was seemingly a grand finale of sorts, Pestel arose from his seat, walked over and stood next to a gong, and shot an object out of his flute, symbolizing the end.

Magician Pulls In Audience, Hits Big At CCSU

By Jason Cunningham / Entertainment Editor

Loud music is booming, a full house is chattering away, filling the Torp Theatre with a hurricane of energy. Then, all of the sudden, Norman Ng bursts onto stage, smiling bright and ready to perform.

What is it exactly that Ng will be doing? Magic of course. Before you get ready to sigh and yawn, know that Ng isn’t the typical magician we’re all used to. His philosophies on magic are far different than that of shock magicians like Chris Angel or the slick tuxedo wearing gimmicks of the Las Vegas magic scene.

“Most guys in Vegas are too flashy and guys like David Blaine are douchey,” said Ng jokingly after a well-received performance at Central Connecticut State University.

So what kind of magician is Ng? Well, first off, he’s a good one. The audience had nothing but enthusiasm for the young performer. If members of the audience didn’t have their jaws dropped in amazement at his illusions, they were laughing at his hilarious stories and improvised jokes.

“I would say that 70 percent of my tricks are original, the script however is all me, 100 percent. I write all of my own material,” Ng said. “That’s because for me it’s all about relatability. Some of my script is about my life; it’s easier for the audience to get into it when you share yourself with them. What I’m going for is conversational magic, I like to get the audience as involved as possible.”

Ng accomplished involvement right at the beginning of his act by offering up some cold, hard cash to audience members in exchange for assisting him in his tricks. He did the same later on in his on-stage game show.

Participation also seemed high because the audience really seemed to like him. There’s a certain amount of charm in his act that other magicians lack. He injects many stories about his life and his own personal interests into his act.

“I’m an artist. My art comes all from me, my story. The best way to derive emotions from people is to relate to them. That’s why I have the stories about Maine and the restaurant chain and hockey,” Ng said.

As most artists know, doing what you love isn’t always an easy gig. Most people entering a career in the arts face tough times, old and young.

“It’s wasn’t easy. Right out of school, when I was 18, I moved out to California with only $500 in my pocket and started my own entertainment company. I was living in Oakland, in poverty,” Ng said. “I would recommend magic as a career to people who have a passion for it, but let me says this, it’s hard. There are under 20 magicians who make a good living touring and doing what I do.”

Ng knew how to work the crowd. It seemed like making people happy was the most important thing in the world to him. There’s a certain type of passion we attach to soul-singers and actors, people who perform for a living.

Even comedians can often capture our hearts. Rarely would you think that a magician puts every ounce of his heart and soul into a performance – on Ng’s face it can be seen from when the lights go down to when the lights come up.

Instead of exiting, leaving his crowd satisfied and separate from him, he dives into the audience instead, offering answers to their questions and spending as much time as possible talking to them. Someone this passionate has a mission and Ng’s is clear, unlike the tricks behind his illusions.

“The new wave of magic is coming. It’s got to be brought back, magic is cool. So spread the word, because it’s my mission to help make it mainstream again. I want people to be inspired by magic,” Ng said. “After all, making someone truly amazed is what magic is all about.”