Album inspired by love

Written by Carissa Lucas With her first single, “Mine,” off her new album already passing 1,000,000 downloads, fans can expect big things from Taylor Swift’s Speak Now. Released last week, the album was already in the number one spot on iTunes hours after it became available for purchasing. Swift is known for using aspects of her life — especially relationships — as inspiration for her award-winning music. Many critics reason that her complete honesty is why fans all around the world have fallen in love with her songwriting. Speak Now is no different, with songs seemingly dedicated to former beaus Taylor Lautner, Joe Jonas and even John Mayer, who was reported to be with Swift when they collaborated on his song “Half of My Heart” in 2009. Most Swift fans now know that “Dear John” is about Mayer, but it’s been reported recently that “The Story of Us,” a song about awkwardly avoiding a former flame at an awards show, is directed at him as well. The song also seems to be a song of regret. She accuses “John” of taking advantage of her at a young age, and sings, “Don’t you think 19’s too young to be played by your dark twisted games when I loved you so? I should have known.” The past two years were the inspiration for her latest album, including the now famous incident involving Kanye West at the 2009 Video Music Awards. A year later, Swift performed “Innocent” at the 2010 Video Music Awards, and it’s no secret that the song was aimed at Kanye West as forgiveness for the 2009 VMA debacle. Swift shows maturity in “Innocent” as she readily proclaims, “You’re still an innocent.” In a recent interview with People magazine, Swift admits that writing songs helps her get over things. “Sometimes, when things impact you so intensely, it takes writing a song to get over them,” she said. However, something she might not be completely over is her relationship with Lautner. While in the past we’ve heard heartfelt, sorrowful songs, we’ve never heard her directly apologize for anything. But that’s exactly what she does in “Back to December,” which is almost certainly about her relationship with Lautner. The pair dated for several months last year and reportedly split in December. What better way to complete the album than with a couple of songs aimed at her ex, Joe Jonas? Swift doesn’t disappoint with “Last Kiss,” which owns up to her missing him and the relationship. It is much more tender than the song off her last album devoted to Jonas, “Forever and Always.” Another song, possibly about her relationship with...

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Music with a twist
Nov02

Music with a twist

Dark Chocolate. White Chocolate. Cookies & Cream. Sprinkles. Hott Chocolate. Milk Chocolate. Whipped Cream. What do these things have in common? They are all associated with desserts, but in this case  are also the names of the popular new rap group at UMHB: Ready 7. Originally called The Chocolates, Ready 7 is composed of six singers/rappers, their manager Kevan Mullins, and their essential “DJ” Dee Jay Bow who creates their beats and records their music. The group of freshmen met during Welcome Week through roommates and other acquaintances. The original four consisted of Jiovanni Jones, Jared Cash, James Allen and Kitrick Bell. The remaining three, Ryan Hull, Ross Nesselrode and Mullins joined soon after school started. Freshman communication major Kitrick Bell, aka Dark Chocolate, said, “We don’t really know how it started, exactly. We decided to write songs to mess around and have fun. Then it turned into something real.” There’s no determined leader of the group as each has his own role to play. Members of the band sing, rap, play instruments and write songs. Freshman business major Jiovanni Jones, aka Hott Chocolate said, “We’re like brothers. We hang out all the time, and we encourage each other.” Ready 7’s past and present experiences have given birth to songs such as “Perfect Girl,” “Wall Around Her Heart,” and “Problem.”  The band’s motto is “Treat all girls like princesses.” Freshman business major Jared Cash, aka White Chocolate, describes their music as “clean, wholesome music that any age group can enjoy, we’re an R&B group, but that’s not really our genre. Ready 7 is our genre.” The band records late at night, which can conflict with other activities since Bell and Allen play basketball for the Cru. However, freshmen business major James Allen, aka Milk Chocolate said, “Although it’s been stressful, it’s absolutely worth it.” The band already has almost 400 fans on Facebook along with posters, shirts and Youtube videos. Freshmen biology major Ryan Hull, aka Cookies and Cream said, “We’re not worried about how many fans we have; we appreciate those who support us.” Ready 7 even has its own symbol. Freshman business major Kevan Mullins, aka Sprinkles said, “If you turn your left hand upside down, it makes a seven. It just represents us.” The band has been known to serenade random people in Hardy or McLane.  After hearing them sing, junior nursing major Haley Ratliff said, “I’m impressed on how they can harmonize on the spot and do a really good job. It was really fun to hear.” Not all comments about Ready 7 have been positive. People on Twitter have commented that the band members should...

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Strong acting can’t save sad plot

The combination of Clint Eastwood’s directing and Matt Damon’s acting seems promising at first, but two hours of dull, drawn-out storyline leaves the audience wanting something more. Hereafter shows the necessity of a strong and compelling story line. Three story lines compose the main account of Hereafter. The life of a French reporter, Marie Lelay (Cécile de France), is drastically changed by a mysterious near death experience during the Indian Ocean tsunami. She is then consumed by the urge to research life after death. A British boy, Marcus (Frankie McLaren), loses his twin brother in a car accident and attempts to communicate with him in the afterlife. And a blue-collar worker, George Lonegan (Damon), has the unique ability to communicate to people in the afterlife – an existence referred to as the “hereafter.” The depiction of the hereafter itself, a black-and-white, weightless existence, seems depressing and certainly not something to look forward to after death. Eastwood’s normal flair is evident in the film, as each of the three stories draws the audience into the characters’ feelings and emotions. However, the stories are written into a single screenplay, when the only common characteristic they share is the touch of death. The three stories finally combine in possibly the most anti-climactic setting possible, the London Book Fair. Marcus gets to talk to his brother, and George and Marie meet and begin a romantic relationship. Damon actually suggested Eastwood recast his character in an e-mail, suggesting Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, or Josh Brolin because of a scheduling conflict. But Eastwood, so impressed by Damon’s acting performance in the film Invictus, re-adjusted the filming schedule to accommodate Damon. Even Damon’s acting prowess could not improve upon Hereafter’s downfalls. It was three somewhat compelling stories, awkwardly intertwined and unrealistically...

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Hunger Games: compelling end
Nov02

Hunger Games: compelling end

With the weight and intensity of college reading, good fun books often get neglected. Textbooks dominate the time of red-eyed pupils. It is rare for pleasure reads to crack the schedule of the wearisome readers. But sometimes a book is worth putting your friends on hold and enjoying those precious free moments. Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games trilogy, which concluded this summer with the release of Mokingjay, are perfect for an escape from studying, and even this world. The series is set in the fallout of a massive futuristic war. What’s left of the world is divided into districts and controlled by the Capitol. After quelling a failed uprising of districts, the Capitol has decided to remind the poor, disunited and weak districts of their authority by sponsoring The Hunger Games. Every year, two children are selected from each district and placed in an extravagant area filled with traps, creatures and weapons. Only one participant, the victor, is permitted to leave alive. Cameras follow the bloodbath and broadcast it live to all the televisions – which sit dormant the rest of the year. No one is permitted to turn off the gruesome carnage. The series chronicles the young life of Katniss Everdeen. She enters the games in the first book of the series. Her mother and sister watch her at home. She and her father used to defy the Capitol and hunt to provide for the family. After her father dies, she continues to provide for her family and develops incredible and deadly accuracy with a bow. These skills prove vital in her time in the arena. The gladiator concept may seem tired, but Collins takes it much further. Katniss is the catalyst for a much bigger story about the districts trying to fight for their independence. The young girl becomes the face of a resistance she never intended to join. Her desire is to live peacefully with her family, but the world just won’t allow that. The books are more than futuristic sci-fi novels. Collins delves deeply into her characters and what makes them act the way they do. Katniss’s personality as it is affected by her circumstances is the focal point in such a magnificent tale that covers totalitarianism, murder, war, commercialism, poverty, revolution, genetics, depression and love. Technically classified as juvenile fiction, the series is an easy read that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Like Harry Potter, their location in the book store shouldn’t dissuade older readers. The Hunger Games are smart, passionate, fresh and even dark. The fast -paced prose begs readers to keep scouring through the book. All three can easily be read...

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Latest thriller brings twist to a social work case
Oct19

Latest thriller brings twist to a social work case

If you want to watch a movie that pulls you into the storyline within the first 15 minutes the new suspense/thriller Case 39 is a good choice . The audience is hooked by the story of a little girl named Lily who lives with abusive parents, or so the viewers think. Academy Award winner Renee Zellweger plays Emily Jenkins, the social worker who gets Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland) out of her apparently bad situation. And then comes the scene that really kicks the movie off. Emily comes in on the parents trapping Lily in an oven as they try to gas and burn her. Little does the audience know, Lily’s dying would have been a happy ending. But 15 minutes doesn’t make for a good movie. So Emily saves Lily and allows the little girl to  live at her house. And with this, Emily’s life drastically begins to spiral down as she starts to unravel the mystery of who and what Lily really is. This movie definitely has the ability to make the audience jump in their seats. It also makes viewers cringe and have the urge to itch their skin as well. One scene nearing the middle of the flick, involves the regretful death of Doug, played by The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper. In a scene that shows Lily’s personality turning from an “innocent child” Lily gets Doug to tell her his biggest fear in life, wasps. The next time we see Doug, there are wasps coming out of places where wasps shouldn’t come, like his own ears and eyes. By telling Lily his fear, Doug seals his own doom. I went into this movie with the mindset of not expecting much. I did not think two of the three big name actors in the movie were capable of this genre of movie, partially because I have never seen them in this sort of role. The movie hasn’t received much publicity by commercials. In fact, the film was shot in Vancouver in late 2006 and was delayed twice before its final release date at the beginning of October. The reason for the delay has been kept unknown. I walked into the movie with low expectations and not knowing much about the plot.However, I was continually surprised throughout the film.  In the end, I thought it was an excellent thriller. Though Case 39 is not as chilling as Paranormal Activity or other films, people who are easily frightened should not pay $8.50. If they are not fans of demons or devil type movies then this film should be avoided. A scene in particular toward the end of the movie shocks...

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Facebook: Zuckerberg’s billion dollar idea
Oct05

Facebook: Zuckerberg’s billion dollar idea

Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in the world. How come? Because he created the largest social network on the face of the planet. Why? All because of a broken heart…. A headstrong Harvard undergraduate and computer programming genius, Mark Zuckerberg played by Jesse Eisenberg embellished an idea in 2003. He created enemies, made long-lasting friendships, and began his career at the young age of 20. Director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin take the audience back to the moment when Zuckerberg created Facebook. A heated argument and break-up ended a horrible night of furious blogging while simultaneously drinking beer — ultimately leading to the creation of connecting 500 million people all around the world. Facebook.com is The Social Network. On the window of Zuckerberg’s dorm room, best friend and later CFO of Facebook.com Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), calculates a formula that assists in perfecting the site. Working tediously and many endless hours to perfect the specific codes it takes to create such a website, Zuckerberg completed his plan, which soon spread nationwide, then to another continent. Fortune does come with fame, but Zuckerberg’s fame wasn’t always on the upside. He is hit with two different lawsuits after officially putting the site online. The Winklevoss twins, who hired Zuckerberg to build a website for them, claimed he stole their idea, so they sued him for ownership — for $65 million. Saverin, who signed some contracts that weren’t legitimate in keeping him as one who gets a certain percentage of the company’s money. Sorkin not only does a wonderful job of creating memorable one-liners that will live on after the movie goes off the big screen, but in telling a young billionaire’s story. Eisenberg’s character is not exactly like the real Mark. Sorkin and Eisenberg wanted to create their own version of the computer genius. Eisenberg said, “The character, as created by Aaron and me, is an intense and ambitious and serious person …. He’s accused of stealing this idea that he knows he’s the only one who could possibly create. He’s accused of betraying friendship when he feels his friend was taking his company in the wrong direction.” To think Zuckerberg even knew this social network would reach past the Ivy League universities and into the big world is fascinating. Facebook.com is ultimately everywhere. In the end, none of it really mattered — not the fame, not the money, not even reaching the one million  user goal. All Zuckerberg really cared about was Erica Albright — the woman who broke his...

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