SFHS Knight Life Student Newspaper

All the news that's right to post

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Some Thoughts: A Superstitious Dilemma

leave a comment »

By Chris Ferro

2/1/2011

My father wakes me up at 6:00 A.M every morning. The following routine is always the same: I lazily slide out of bed, take a shower, comb my hair, brush my teeth, get dressed and wait for my mother to do the same. She enjoys being fashionably late, so in the meantime I pack my schoolbag, feed my dogs, surf the internet for a few minutes and occasionally hound her to get dressed. She eventually does, and we rush out of the house and attempt to make it to school and work on time.

As hectic as this may sound, nothing here is out of the ordinary for me. I’ve grown accustomed to this madness. In our society of excessive advertisements, overblown phones and computers, and multifarious video games, one element stays constant. People will remain superstitious regardless of the time period. The example of my daily routine is something that I cannot live without. There’s something to repetition that causes a certain fondness within the self. The same friends, the same teachers and the same school all provide an environment in which an individual can relate to. Anything contrary or contradictory to the norm is treated like a social pariah. Thus is the harsh truth of life:  If you’re not “normal”, then you’re the problem.

To quote a sticker on my friend’s refrigerator door, “Normal is only a setting on a washing machine.” People may think that they are casual and calm, but something tends to lurk behind the façade. It is the same reason why a devout Catholic may be a Nine Inch Nails aficionado or why a “Gothic” person might adore Mozart. There’s something to the human psyche which necessitates a blending of values and traits. The subtleties of people’s personalities help distinguish them from the crowd. Perhaps, for this reason, human beings also tend to be inclined to the supernatural.
           

Reality is boring. If taken at face value, life could be described as a series of events before one dies. In actuality, life is much more than that. Superstition is a way of verifying this fact. The discovery of something beyond human nature or intelligence, a “supernatural” force, is the goal of any individual seeking an alternate reality.

Ultimately, it is in the nature of human existence to believe in something higher than one’s self. Something as simple as a routine or a habit connects one to the supernatural. By doing one thing a specific way, people think they can change their fate. In my case, if any portion of my routine was altered in the slightest, I would be worried. Changes put people on edge. That is why it is easier to assimilate with the crowd rather than stand out from it.

Here is the rub: Is it natural to believe in superstitions? Horoscopes and Ouija boards may give some people a connection the “spiritual realm” but ultimately, they were manufactured and designed by humans. Their very purpose is to attract customers. Rather than celebrate the individual, horoscopes place people in categorical boxes based on astronomical sign and date of birth. The various descriptions of personality types, relationship matches and daily fortunes appeal to the individual searching for meaning in his or her life. It provides comfort in an increasingly uncomfortable world.

One of these days I’m going to attempt an experiment. I will walk under ten ladders, have six black cats pass me by, spill five salt shakers and carry three umbrellas into an enclosed area. In this unnatural world, the truth may be more shocking than a lie, so I would be not be surprised in the least if that day turned out to be one of the worst in my life. I would be equally undisturbed if my day remained the same as any other. Now, if I could only find the nerve to try.

Advertisements

Written by cromo1969

February 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Review: Dead Space 2

leave a comment »

By Mitchell Reslock

2/1/2011

You stumble awkwardly out of the sterile lighting of your padded cell, helplessly bound in an asylum straightjacket. The twenty or so hulking, deformed monstrosities swarming the hallways immediately ahead pause to look up from mutilating the scattered bodies of their victims and lock their horrible, dead eyes on you. A prompt flashes to the right of your screen: Hold the Left Bumper to run.

I kid you not, this is the situation the next chapter of Dead Space tosses you into literally within the first twenty seconds of the game. EA’s flagship of the horror genre returns with equally copious amounts of exhilaratingly intense action and brutal, gory scares. Silent protagonist and reckless power-tool toting engineer Isaac Clarke returns as the unlikely hero in this futuristic thrill ride, only now he’s decided to ditch the “silent” part in favor of greatly expanding on his character and its tumultuous psychological struggles.

Clarke and his terrifying saga have returned tenfold, improving on nearly every aspect from the original title. The shocks come faster and harder. The remarkable action sequences beautifully skirt the line between cinematic storytelling and nerve-fraying dexterity tests (How well can you shoot the fuel cell off a gunship while the twenty-foot Tormentor tries to tear you apart in a vacuum?) The zero-gravity puzzles bend your mind in a new dimension. And the violence just grows more deliciously grotesque. This is no game for the faint of heart. This isn’t even to mention the hilariously fast-paced and entertaining co-operative engine the multiplayer modes have become. Wander off alone for more than a nanosecond as a human and expect to soon decorate the walls of the encompassing room.

Sadly, however, Dead Space 2 could not have added so many incredible improvements to its horror formula without suffering at least a few small drawbacks. The bursts of action are incredibly fun and it’s very nice to place a personality inside that air-tight engineering suit, but it clutters what truly made the original scary. Dead Space‘s hook was the absolute and oppressive loneliness. Sure, there were other survivors, but you would only see them perhaps once an hour via a static-strained hologram. The other ninety percent of the game was spent slowly wandering alone through the pitch-black, blood-splattered metal hallways, hearing only the dull clunking of your boots and Isaac’s ragged breathing bouncing off the tarnished confines of his helmet. That alone is what set you up to jump straight out of your chair when the screaming Necromorph smashed through the vent and pounced on you.

Regardless, Dead Space 2 is a simply a fantastic and gruesome adventure sure to keep you up well into the night (whether you’re still playing or not). A-

Written by cromo1969

February 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TV Review: Adventure Time, Regular Show

leave a comment »

By Alex Sercel and Christian Romo

1/24/2011

Children and pre-teen television programming has developed a couple new faces recently. Recently, there’s been a renaissance of hand-drawn cartoons, most notably on Cartoon Network, aimed at the very generation that created the demand for entire channels of children’s programming. Shows like Animaniacs, Rugrats, and SpongeBob Squarepants brought us into the animated realm; Adventure Time with Finn and Jake and Regular Show are slowly bringing us back.

AS: Cartoon Network’s animated series Adventure Time with Finn and Jake is one of the best shows on television.  Adventure Time chronicles the adventures of its two main characters, Finn the human and Jake the dog, as they explore the Land of Ooo.  Finn is a twelve-year-old boy whose main motivation in life is to slay evil; Jake is a magic dog with the ability to change the size and shape of his body at will. 

What sets Adventure Time apart from all other animated shows on the air today is Finn’s sense of right and wrong.  Finn follows a strict moral code which leads him to defend the innocent and to vanquish wrong-doers.  Besides the morality, the show is surprisingly funny.  The sense of humor is often bizarre to say the least, but Adventure Time is a joy to watch.  Its vibrant animation and quirky writing make it an excellent series which has something everyone will enjoy.  A

CR: On the surface, Regular Show is a typical buddy comedy about a stoic blue jay named Mordecai and an eccentric raccoon named Rigby. The twenty-something bff’s work for and rent from Benson, the ill-tempered gumball machine, and are periodically visited by Skips the yeti, Pops the jolly British lollipop-shaped man, the High Five Ghost, Muscle Man, and Margaret the cardinal, Mordecai’s love interest. It’s a bizarre premise for a TV-PG rated show, but it has also caught our interest.

The interactions between Mordecai and Rigby are a little like that of Dag and Norbert from The Angry Beavers, but other than that it’s hard to find something that isn’t completely unique. In the show’s pilot episode, the two heroes create a choreographed dance routine with the help of a magical keyboard to coerce their friends to give them money. Rigby, however, abuses the power and accidently sends Skips, a bunch of baby ducks, and a soda machine to the Moon. It would take an inordinate amount of space to describe the rest of the plot.

Regular Show is undoubtedly targeted to males 13-24, but it brings me back to Saturday mornings, sugary cereal, and staying in my pajamas until lunchtime. It’s a landmark achievement, and I look forward to continue watching. B+

Written by cromo1969

January 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Book Review: Timequake

with one comment

By Chris Ferro

11/9/10

“You were sick, but now you’re well, and there’s work to do.” In short, this simple but elegant quote represents the novel entitled Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut. For all those who are scratching their heads at both the name of the book and of its author, allow me to extrapolate. Perhaps one of the most influential underground writers of the twentieth century, Kurt Vonnegut gives new meaning to the word “satire.” The author of such books as The Slaughterhouse-Five and Hocus Pocus, Vonnegut allows his readers to enter a story in which of itself is a microcosm for something greater. Often misinterpreted for cynicism, his novels incorporate the excessive use of satire and comedy to reveal truths about the human condition.

In this regard, Timequake is no different. Instead of basing the story around entirely fictional characters, Vonnegut places himself in the novel alongside of them. By using this method, the reader is allowed to step into the harmonic chaos that is Kurt Vonnegut’s mind. Timequake’s premise is relatively simple. A glitch in the universe causes everyone on Earth to relive the past ten years of his or her life. The rub is that people have to consciously relive the past. Meaning, of course, that the person doing the action already knows every event that will be redone in the “rerun” of ten years. Yet, even with this knowledge, the ten years must have the same perfect execution as first time they occurred. If a driver accidentally ran over another person in the past, during the rerun that same person must run over the same bystander once again.

This introduction to the story allows for Vonnegut to fabricate characters, including himself, that undergo this “Timequake” and what they think, feel, and act during the event. One character depicted in the novel has been used by Vonnegut in countless other books, each time serving a different purpose to the respective stories. This fictional character Kilgore Trout is himself an underground science fiction writer who writes short stories for magazines that nobody reads. Being a part of Vonnegut’s intellectual psyche, Trout plays an important part in Timequake, facilitating stability when the entire world seems to have gone insane. Each character, in his or her own right, has some sort of pressing issue and must deal with it face to face during the Timequake. Since all of the actions are already set in stone, apathy becomes rampant. Free will is put on suspension. However, in order to find out what happens as a result of this emotional deprivation, one must scour through the pages.

Many consider Timequake as an answer to the intrinsic human longing for changing the past. How people constantly make mistakes and immediately want to correct them. Yet, life would not be life if people did not make mistakes and certain wrongs were not done. The construction of each chapter in the novel is a subtle connection to the next one. One action done by one person drastically affects the life of another character in the novel. Whether good or bad, subtle or extravagant, every event in the novel is interconnected with another. The book is a microcosm for life. Trying to understand the nature of why things happen the way they do is futile. Spontaneity constitutes life.

Reading Timequake sets one off on a journey through the mysteries of human experience. At some point, the reader will be able to relate with an event described in the novel. This story is a tribute to all the times in life where things just do not seem to make much sense. But if taken in the larger context of one’s life and being, everything starts to become clear. Piecing together the puzzles of experience is a life long process accomplished only in death. Timequake reaffirms that. A

Written by cromo1969

November 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

TV Review: Outsourced

with one comment

By Julian Vischer and Tim Nguyen

11/1/10

Photo Courtesy: NBC/Universal

Outsourced is the most recent sitcom added to the NBC “Comedy Thursday” line-up. It’s a show about an American employee of a novelties company who must move to Mumbai, India to keep his position. The premise is that he must work with his Indian employees and explain to them the American culture while trying to understand the Indian culture himself. 

The show stars Ben Rappaport as Todd Dempsey, the Kansas-born native who must transfer to India to be the head of a company called Mid America Novelties. Second in command is Rajiv Gidwani, played by Rizwan Manji, who is sarcastic, stern, and always looking to get Todd’s job as manager. Todd has some very unusual employees. Take Manmeet, for example, played by Sacha Dhawan, a master flirter on the phone but a goofball when he meets women in person. Gupta, played by Parvesh Cheena, can never stop talking, but does have a sensitive side. Asha, played by Rebecca Hazlewood, is Todd’s love interest. Todd actively tries to pursue her but is hindered by her arranged marriage ideals. Todd finds familiarity in Charlie, another American manager who had to be transferred.

TN: Already into its sixth episode, I have grown to enjoy this series. It has quite a charm to it. It is not one of those slapstick or random sitcoms like The Office or 30 Rock. It ran a little slow at the beginning, but it is starting to build up. It has its quirks and moments. Ben Rappaport plays the charming manager well, and his relationship with Asha is beginning to grow. The story for Outsourced has started off slowly, but it could definitely end with a bang. B

JV: I can’t stand Outsourced. Every joke is based around the fact that Indian culture is different from American culture. Seriously, how many times do we need to hear Todd Dempsey say “Oh my God…” to which Gupta replies “Which one?” The jokes get old fast and I am ashamed to see that people would rather watch this trash than NBC’s Parks and Recreation, which it replaced. My Thursday night line-up used to be perfect with Community, 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and finally a recorded episode of South Park from the night before. Outsourced is quickly turning from a minor annoyance to an obnoxious stain on the formerly pristine shirt of television. NBC, I am disappointed. D-

Written by cromo1969

November 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Review: Fallout New Vegas

leave a comment »

By Mitchell Reslock

10/25/10

Fallout is back, bringing with it another hopeless, barren wasteland to spend countless hours exploring. Your desperate quest takes place in the west of the country this time as an amnesiatic courier scouring the irradiated Mojave Desert for the man who shot you in the head and left you to rot. It’s still two centuries after a nuclear war between the US and China ruined the entire planet. It’s still a massive, radioactive, and plainly dirt-colored flatland to adventure in. It’s still filled with mutated creatures, savage raider tribes, and laser-happy robots.  There are still weapons from the past, present, and future. The retro 50’s theme to the last scraps of civilization is still equal parts humorous and eerie.  It’s unfortunate, but New Vegas feels identical to its predecessor, right down to the clunky ranged combat and sketchy voice acting.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Fallout 3 was a masterpiece, well worthy of its universal acclaim.  Despite the awkward shooting and seemingly boring landscape, it offered its players months of incredibly detailed content that always rewarded those fearless travelers that wandered into even the most remote crevices of the wasteland. The story and major characters were memorable, an amazing feat considering the waning attention spans of Generation Y.  Enemies were challenging and creative. New Vegas offers several new additions, including more varied stat-buffing items, armor, weapon and ammunition mods, and enemies, as well as two new crafting systems. There are even welcome patches of green vegetation here and there.  It you absolutely loved the last Fallout game, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy this one.

But after you wander past the hundredth recycled car wreckage, cave, building style, and propaganda poster identical to the ones in Fallout 3, the less Vegas feels like a proper follow-up and more like a gigantic sixty-dollar expansion pack. There’s plenty new things to enjoy here, but it all still feels like the exact formula we’ve seen before, as fun as it was. Vegas is a super-sized adventure you’re sure to waste a good portion of your year exploring, but it won’t wow you nearly as much as its older brother did. B+

Written by cromo1969

October 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Halo: Reach Review

leave a comment »

By Mitchell Reslock

9/19/2010

Picture Courtesy: Microsoft

  One of the most anticipated games of 2010 has finally arrived. Halo: Reach isn’t just the next big shooter, it’s the closing of an era in console gaming. Ever since Master Chief first leapt into the spotlight with the promise of securing FPS dominance outside of PC games, the entire Halo franchise has been stamped on countless shirts, mugs, novels, and commercials over the past decade. For every one thousand fans Bungie was able to recruit, ten thousand flimsy imitations of their games were churned out by other developers clamoring to get a piece of the frenzy. The Chief’s helmet has become a recognizable icon for even the most casual gamer. Everyone’s been wondering how well Bungie’s swan song will stand up to its massive legacy. Well, there’s good news and bad news.

                The campaign is every bit as beautiful and action-packed as you’ve come to expect from the franchise, but it has no patience for new players. If you haven’t played any of the past games and read at least one of the novels, you’ll completely lose the plot (a prequel to the first Halo) in a matter of minutes, in addition to being crushed under the game’s increased difficulty level. A quick introduction: the fall of humanity’s colony on Reach is the single most catastrophic tragedy in the franchise’s lore. It was a military fortress containing over 700 million people, as well as the training grounds for Master Chief and his SPARTAN-II super soldier pals. The SPARTAN-III’s are cheap knockoffs of them, weaker but infinitely more expendable.  That’s what you’ll be playing as, once again a personality-lacking rookie joining a veteran squad of specialists, a reference to Halo ODST. Although the destruction of the planet has been stressed throughout the books and even in advertisements for the game, Reach‘s focus is almost entirely on your small group. There are really only a few levels in the game that give you a glimpse of greater battles going on outside your unit’s concern. While this does give you a chance to feel closer to your teammates, who are thankfully much more memorable than those in ODST, the sense of the epic scale that Reach’s destruction deserved is lost.  Just as it was in the last installment, you’re not trying to save the universe or single-handedly tackle an army of impossible numbers. You’re a small team of soldiers trying to get a job done and survive in the process. And though the pulse-pounding climax feels significant and seals the Halo series in a complete and emotionally-satisfying conclusion, you’ll still have a Master Chief-sized hole in your heart.

                But there is good news. Bungie has once again found a way to improve their already enviable gameplay on all fronts. The graphics have never been more crisp and refined. The dark and foreboding soundtrack is as masterful as ever, matching the desperate mood of the game perfectly. You, alongside your team, will once again be taking on the evil Covenant juggernaut, be it in the form of clusters of deadly Elites, columns of armored Wraith tanks, or screaming Banshee flyers. But there are several twists. New weapons, vehicles, and enemies make their debuts without feeling an inch out of place, making this Halo arsenal the largest yet.  The traditional shooter formula is occasionally remixed with impressive and exciting aerial combat missions both in the expanses of space and over ruined cityscapes. The risky addition of the new armor abilities pays off, completely revitalizing infantry battles as snipers fly to impossible vantage points with jetpacks and quick-witted strategists fool enemies via clever use of hologram doppelgangers. Revamped computer AI results in allied marines concentrating fire and generally being useful, while making even the lowliest alien grunts a threat with the inclusion of intelligent flanking tactics. Bigger enemies anticipating your melee swings will often dodge and counter them. Reach‘s frenzied skirmishes will pleasingly keep you on your toes. This may arguably be the ultimate Halo experience.

                Reach‘s multiplayer has also greatly surpassed its predecessors. Halo 3 provided a massive array of gametypes and customization options, and this latest installment has only added to it. Unprecedented playstyles such as Infection return with added variations you’re free to tinker with, while entirely new modes like Race make their hilariously fun premiere. The ability to tweak the already intense Firefight matches removes them of their tinge of monotony present in ODST.  Although the nine starting maps may feel slightly constricting, the inevitable map packs and unbelievable freedom and ease of the reworked Forge mode will ensure your addiction to Reach‘s online games takes a very long time to wane.

                Halo: Reach is an outstanding game. For all you fanatics of the Halo universe, this is a must-buy, but you especially will find that the slightly disappointing plot mars the exhilarating and immensely enjoyable campaign mode. No one, however, is going to be dissatisfied with Reach‘s expansive and infinitely fun multiplayer experience. Get it now if you’re looking for an remarkably entertaining sci-fi romp with enough guns, lasers, and explosions to shame Michael Bay, but don’t depend on the story living entirely up to your expectations.

Written by cromo1969

September 20, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized