Redbox vs. Netflix: Battle to be the best
Feb21

Redbox vs. Netflix: Battle to be the best

The popular DVD and Blu-ray kiosk company Redbox, Verizon Communications Inc. and Coinstar have decided to come together for a joint venture, which remains unnamed, and will launch later this year. There are no details yet concerning how much money it will cost or what type of movies or TV shows they will have. Members of the companies have been  tight-lipped about the information for the project. Parties involved are pleased with the business decisions and excited about expanding boundaries further than just the little red machine that sits outside of a local Wal-Mart or a CVS Pharmacy. Officials from the companies are sure they will be able to provide people with convenience and more possibilities when it comes to choosing which way they want to watch a movie. They are also confident that streaming videos will give Redbox a much needed platform to reach consumers all around the world. The partnership will combine the easy rental of movies from Redbox, along with streaming the movies online, and on -demand services from Verizon as well. Customers will have to pay a somewhat affordable price for a monthly subscription, but it will still be cheaper than its rival company, Netflix. Although there has been a slight increase in price at the kiosks, it has not slowed down consumers’ desires to continue doing business with the company.  Redbox offers a selection of newer DVDs versus Netflix, which, due to regulations, has a larger selection of older movies. In the future, Redbox will also have a larger selection of older movies which will have streaming capabilities. Netflix, once the leading place for renting movies has now begun to struggle, especially in 2011. Many consumers are getting turned off by the fact that after they finish one movie and then return it, they have to wait an additional two days to receive another movie from their list. The company has split its streaming and mailing DVD services, which resulted in hiking customers’ bills. Since Netflix has agreed to extend its 28-day wait for new releases to a 56-day wait for Warner Bros., the anticipation for others has  driven them to visit the nearest Redbox. Considering the convenience that both companies offer, their decision to combine their effort may be a success. With all the rumors and speculation, only time will tell if this joint venture will prove to be better than Netflix....

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Twists to classics make opera a blast
Feb21

Twists to classics make opera a blast

The UMHB Opera performed Rita and Little Red’s Most Unusual Day Feb. 10. Music lovers gathered to watch the performance at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple. George Hogan, director of the UMHB opera/musical theater program, UMHB Opera Cru and an instructor of applied voice, directed the opera. The first performance was  a tuned-up version of Little Red Riding Hood, which was renamed Little Red’s Most Unusual Day by John Davies. The play was first performed by the opera students  to several thousand school-age children from the area for the Arts and Education Program put on by the Cultural Activities Center. Last semester, the Opera performed 10 shows in a week for the children. Freshman vocal performance major who played Little Red, Haide Gonzales, said, “My favorite scene to perform is when I realize my granny isn’t granny, but instead the Big Bad Wolf because the kids are more scared than I am. In fact, I loved every minute of it. When we did the production in the fall for the school district. It was amazing to see the kids get so into it. I loved when I had to say Dudley, the forest ranger (Ranger-Rover), ‘wanted to be mom’s boyfriend’ because the kids always thought it was so disgusting and openly expressed it.” An orchestra and a conductor were new additions that some of the cast had to adjust to. Sophomore vocal performance major, who played Mr. Bigbad (the Wolf) in Little Red and Gasparo in Rita, Josiah Davis said, “Working with the orchestra was definitely new because I have pretty limited experience working with an orchestra and following a conductor. I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to sing and act while you’re watching someone out of the corner of your eye who’s trying to tell you cues and stuff. So that was tough. By the time the performances rolled around, we got it together.” Rita by Gaetano Donizetti, is a play about an abusive wife who believed her husband, Gasparo, had drowned, while Gasparo thought Rita had died an unfathomable death as well. Beppe played by Matt Klepac is Rita’s new husband who puts up with her temper and abuse. Through a series of spectacular events, they all come face to face, and the laughs, exquisite sound and acting phone through. Junior vocal performance major who played Grandma Hood and Rita, Elizabeth Pasichnyk, commented on her most memorable moments performing Rita. The mood of the play holds much sarcasm when Rita antagonizes Beppe constantly by confessing her love for him and then snatching it right back. When he breaks a beloved porcelain cup, she...

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Expectations fall with Fray’s CD
Feb21

Expectations fall with Fray’s CD

When The Fray released the single “Heartbeat” at the end of 2011, expectations rose for the release of their newest album Scars and Stories. The band was known for its simple melodies, acoustic guitar leads and piano choruses but has now moved into the rock realm. Most of the songs are more upbeat than those on their previous albums, making it a fun collection of songs to listen to. The band worked with Brendan O’Brien to produce the work, and his experience in the music industry played a big part in Scars and Stories. O’Brien has worked with well-known bands like Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen in the past so he knows rock music. The Fray’s partnership with him insured that they had a good chance of creating a successful rock album. Even though this CD is different from what their previous albums were, it’s not enough to really impress. Just because the songs are faster and have more instruments in them doesn’t necessarily mean they are better. The love and heartbreak theme of the album is something that most people can relate to, but The Fray isn’t the only band writing songs about that love, and they didn’t do it well enough to catch a lot of new attention. People who weren’t previously fans don’t have much incentive to jump on that bandwagon now with the release of this album. It’s difficult not to tune out after the beginning tracks, the first of which was the single “Heartbeat.” It might end up being the biggest hit on this record. None of the other songs really have the potential to overcome current chart toppers. The album is more of the same band that’s been heard before. For fans, that’s great, but for the music industry or those seeking new music, there are more interesting and catchy songs to devote listening time to. The guitar strokes on different songs start to blend together pretty quickly, making listening easy but not thrilling or enticing. The Fray may be bearing their bruises, losses and some triumphs through the lyrics of Scars and Stories, but the depth and involvement of the music just doesn’t match up to the purpose of the songs. The band will probably sell as many copies as they have with past releases, but The Fray didn’t hit it big with this album release and most likely won’t grow their fan base much because of it. Listen to this album as background music while studying? Sure. Star it on Spotify? Probably not....

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Red Tails recalls dark time for Tuskegee Airmen

In 1925 the Army War College performed a study that concluded “Blacks are mentally inferior to the white man, by nature subservient … cowardly … and therefore unfit for combat.” In 1944 an elite unit of Tuskegee Airmen better  known as the Red Tails proved this statement to be fallacious and  ludicrous. Just in time for Black History month and inspired by true events the movie Red Tails tells a story that defines our nation’s history and reveals to the world that courage has no color. It begins in the heart of World War II. As America waged war overseas, African-American fighter pilots fought segregation from the American armed forces, which declared them unfit for war because of the color of their skin. These aviators were in the 1 percent of African-Americans who held college degrees at that time, but despite their intellect, they were still considered “inferior” by their own military. “And you all thought what? You’d sign up. You’d get shiny boots, a uniform and that’d be the end of 100 years of bigotry? You’re colored men in the white man’s army,” says Maj. Emanuelle Stance (played by Cuba Gooding Jr). As second-in-command of the group his harsh words rang true. “It’s a miracle you’re flying fighters in Italy and not mopping latrines in Milwaukee.” The intelligent and well-trained men, who acquired their nickname for painting the back of their P-51 planes red, were issued faulty equipment and ordered to be 100 miles away from the front line. Col. A.J. Bullard (played by Terrance Howard), commander of the Red Tails, refused to allow racism to keep his skilled pilots from seeing combat. Bullard attempted to convince his superiors of the fact that the pilots were ready for war and pointed out that they had already exceeded everyone’s expectations. “When we came under your command, Colonel, you stated very clearly that we would never find Negroes who could pass the pilot’s exam, make it through flight school, survive basic combat. We’ve done all of that,” he explained to his racist superiors. “We have a right to fight for our country, the same as every other American. We will not go away.” Bullard was right, the Red Tails did not go away. After accomplishing their first mission, they were assigned to buffer and protect U.S. bomber groups from German war planes. The pilots went above and beyond the call of duty and earned the respect of the nation. They demonstrated that duty, honor and intelligence are not just qualities given to white men, but to all men. Despite the controversy over the movie’s all black cast, interracial relationships, finances...

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Students admire different sound

From whimsical to rhythmic sounds, the Waterloo Sound Conspiracy convinced listeners that they could relate to classical music during its concert Feb 2. The ensemble played five pieces with such unique sounds that the audience could not help but be swept up in the moment, whether they were fans of the genre or not. Chair of the music department Dr. Mark Humphrey was hoping that students would be receptive to the ensemble, whose performance was part of the Hillman Visiting Artist series. He said, “I think that sometimes classical music is misunderstood, and I think there are a lot of reasons for that. Some of it is the way that we classical musicians present it. And the Waterloo Sound Conspiracy is trying to change that.” Humphrey wants to give students different experiences with music. He said  the group is trying to send a message through its delivery “that classical music isn’t boring” and that “there’s a young generation of classical musicians who are very interested in keeping this art form alive and exploring new ways to do it.” The group did something that is considered unique to most quintets. Instead of sitting down during their performance, members stood up throughout their time on stage as a better way to communicate with each other and the audience. Before each piece was performed, members took turns explaining the significance of the set that was to be played. One student appreciated this tactic. Freshman exercise and sport science major Ricole Lowe said, “I like how every person has their own role to play in the music and that they introduced the piece and what it was about and they gave information about what we were about to hear. For me, that was really helpful since I don’t have much exposure to classical music.” Students who attended the concert sat down with cautious ears but many were pleasantly surprised to find out that the quintet was able to bring classical music to life in a way that was relatable. Sophomore prephysical therapy major Jacy Mullins said, “I really enjoyed listening to the Waterloo Sound Conspiracy. The ensemble made it easy to forget the fact that I don’t have much experience with that type of music, I was just able to enjoy it.” So the question is, did the group manage to change the minds of UMHB students about classical music? Lowe said, “I really enjoyed myself. I didn’t feel that way coming into the concert. I felt like it was a really good performance. I would definitely go back and see them. I can honestly say that I’m a fan of classical music...

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Bells staff predicts 2012 Oscar winners
Feb07

Bells staff predicts 2012 Oscar winners

Awards season is definitely upon us, and in just a matter of weeks, the 84th Academy Awards will honor the greatest movies of the year. Stars will take the red carpet Feb. 26 to show off their designer duds and see who will take home the awards. With so many worthy movies and actors, it is sure to be a tight competition, but The Bells staff is weighing in with their picks for who deserves to take home this year’s golden statues. Though some big name films are in the running for best picture, one seems to stand out among fans. The Help portrays a young white journalist from Jackson, Miss. played by Emma Stone, who documents the stories of African American maids in the 1960s. The movie is adapted from a novel by Kathryn Stockett, and both have enjoyed success and popularity. Not only is the film full of humor and has a cast of talented actresses, but it also has cultural significance. It displays a important period of time in our nation’s history in a way that is both informative and entertaining. Among the other top contenders is the sports drama Moneyball starring Brad Pitt and the black and white picture The Artist. Also nominated are The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life and War Horse. Talented stars were also in no shortage this year, and many of the nominees for best picture also produced best actor and actress noms. This being his fourth time as an Oscar nominee, Brad Pitt is likely to take home the prize as best actor in a leading roll for his work on Moneyball. He portrays the Oakland Athletic’s general manager Billy Bean as he tries to rebuild a losing team. The bad-boy persona he has established in previous roles really give weight to his unorthodox methods in resurrecting a secondrate baseball team. Pitt is a great actor and once again shows that on screen. Other nominees for the title are Demian Bichir in A Better Life, George Clooney in The Descendants, Jean Dujardin in The Artist and Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. For the other most coveted award for best actress in a leading roll, The Bells votes are somewhat divided. A definite front runner is The Help’s Viola Davis, who portrays the first of the African American maids to agree to tell their heart gripping story. She did a wonderful job of playing her part and made every single scene believable as she grasped the audience and hung onto them with every emotion until the very end. No stranger...

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