A Review of DHS’s Little Women, The Musical

On Friday, November 2nd, DHS’s production of Little Women opened its doors to the public. The play is based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel and featured several Da Vinci students, such as senior Neil Das as Roderigo and Mr. Laurence, senior Samantha Sheridan as Marmee, and senior McKella Van Boxtel as Meg. The play chronicled the lives of the four March sisters and their mother, growing up in the Civil War era, with their father away in the army. The audience comes to understand the similarities and differences between Meg, the girly grown-up; Jo, the ambitious tomboy; Beth, the gentle sweetheart; and Amy, the precocious child. Jo, portrayed by DHS senior Jordan Hayakawa, leads the story with brilliant vocals and excellent delivery of lines. Sweet Beth is played by DHS senior Savannah McCoy, and childish Amy is wonderfully portrayed by DHS junior Lily Linaweaver.

The story begins with a flashback to Jo’s experience in New York and her attempts to land a publishing deal with a New York company. We then jump back to the March home. The several transitions and flashbacks of this type can be a tad misleading for those unfamiliar with the story, but a little context clues help tie it all back together. Throughout the two and a half hour long production, the audience follows Jo’s quest to travel and write, Marmee’s difficulty raising four ‘little women’ alone, and Beth’s ultimate death of scarlet fever. As the actors took their final bows at the very end, the crowd was on their feet.

The production value was very well done, with excellently designed sets and beautiful vocals from each of the actors. In one scene, Beth and Mr. Laurence (Das) sing a tune called “Off to Massachusetts,” which I would rate as the best song in the entire musical. McCoy’s voice mixed beautifully with Das’s, sending chills down my spine. In addition, I was happily surprised by the sheer vocal talent from each of the actors. One can only expect so much from a high school musical, but the cast of Little Women exceed those expectations.

The musical continues the weekend of the 9th, and will finish its run on Saturday, November 10th. The cost is $10 at the door, and $10 well spent. I highly recommend taking a couple of hours out of your evening to support the kids of DHS and Da Vinci in their production of Little Women.

 

Pete Davidson Under Fire

On the final episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL) before our November midterm elections, the show trotted out Pete Davidson for another election special. During the skit in question, Davidson was tasked with giving his first impression of a batch of midterm election candidates. After mocking incumbent Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, he compared Republican Representative of New York, Peter King, to a cigar.  

Next on Davidson’s hit list, oddly enough, was yet another Republican. This time, it was Republican challenger Dan Crenshaw. It would be worthwhile to add some important context to Davidson’s comments. Dan Crenshaw, during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2012, had his right eye destroyed by an improvised explosive device, and his left eye was badly damaged. After several surgeries, he regained eyesight in his left eye. After regaining sight, he returned to the Navy to serve two more tours, once more in Afghanistan, and another in South Korea. Crenshaw attempted a sixth tour, but was medically retired due to injuries to his eye.

Pete Davidson understood this well, and went on to mock Crenshaw and his wounds sustained during combat. Davidson joked that “You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate in Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie,” Davidson, resisting a laugh at his joke, expanded upon his comment, stating, “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever. Whatever.” Crenshaw handled this more professionally than anyone could have, taking to twitter to share a “Good rule in life: I try hard not to offend; I try harder not to be offended. That being said,  I hope SNL recognizes that vets don’t deserve to see their wounds used as punchlines for bad jokes.” In a video obtained by TMZ, Crenshaw took the high road, saying “I want to get away from this culture where we demand apologies from people every time they misspeak. […] I don’t need to demand an apology from them, they can do whatever they want. They’re feeling the heat from around the country right now.”

I am far less willing to give Davidson the benefit of the doubt. Davidson has been a long time liberal, in December of 2017 he went as far as to tattoo former Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton onto his right leg. Davidson was targeting Republicans, and alluded to it himself when he said “Here’s a Democrat, so I look fair,” before proceeding to mock Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. Finding little to mock in a young, handsome, passionate NAVY Seal, Davidson went straight for the lowest hanging fruit: a decorated SEAL’s disability. One of the byproducts of the politically correct cultural moment that we find ourselves in, is that some things can’t be joked about. Regardless of how you feel about the situation we’re in, we’re in it. And if anything deserves to be off limits, It’s the mockery of disabilities sustained in conflicts, won by people like Crenshaw, who defend the freedom to mock him in the first place.

If we were to remain consistent in our principles, Davidson crossed a line, and is now no-longer suitable for employment. In theory, Davidson should be treated no different than James Damore, Roseanne Barr, or Bill Maher. Either offensive things said in the public domain are subject to punishment, or they aren’t. SNL, in recent years, has taken a turn to the left. They were recently under fire for a skit called “Kavanaugh Hearing Cold Open,” which portrayed then Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was tasked with defending himself against a 35 year old allegation, as an angry drunk. SNL had little to no empathy or understanding of the situation Kavanaugh found himself in. SNL is easily America’s most recognizable, late-night, comedic TV show. As such, SNL must be held accountable in mirroring and upholding the political moment that we live in. It is unfair and hypocritical that Davidson be let off the hook, but others suffer consequences of jokes and statements made in the past. It is either okay to make jokes about touchy topics, or it isn’t, and SNL can’t have it both ways. SNL and It’s platform could be a tool used to dismantle this black & white paradigm, but until they do, Dan Crenshaw deserves an apology and Pete Davidson deserves punishment.

 

John Carpenter’s Halloween: Hit or Miss?

John Carpenter’s 1978 making of the film Halloween has immortalized villain Michael Myers in the horror movie hall of fame. His recognizable murder mask and Carpenter’s eerie soundtrack has remained a holiday staple for the past forty years before finally making a reappearance in theaters in 2018.

The 1978 version tells the story of Michael Myers, a sociopath with an intense passion for murder, after he escapes his holding asylum where he has been living since he was six years old. At the age of six, Myers brutally murdered his older sister Judith on Halloween night. His outbreak, as chronicled in Carpenter’s original film, allowed him to terrorize his younger sister, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as well as other teenagers in the area. However, he is ultimately caught and transported back to his asylum.

The 2018 sequel continues the narrative Carpenter has so greatly painted. Set forty years after Myers’ last outbreak, the watcher discovers that although Strode has aged and started a family of her own, her life is still haunted by Myers’ crimes and her fear of him. Strode’s daughter and granddaughter criticize her paranoia, but her preparation ultimately is the divide between life and death for the Strode family when Myers breaks out and comes after them, killing many other unlucky townspeople on Halloween night. Strode luckily traps Myers in her basement and sets him on fire, allowing the watcher to believe that he has died. But has he?

Credit Nightmare Nostalgia

I never saw the 1978 version of Halloween. However, the 2018 sequel disappointed and underwhelmed me. The film was packed with a cheap storyline and lots of guts and gore to distract the watcher from the lack of effort in the script. Judith’s story is retold in flashbacks, but not once do filmmakers remind the audience that Strode is actually Myers’ younger sister, leaving the question, who is Laurie Strode, and why is she so infatuated with Michael Myers? A quick Google search solved that issue for me, but I found myself waiting throughout the entire film for some clue to be dropped without success.

The amount of brutal killings unrelated to the storyline make this film almost disgusting to watch. Myers has the tendency to hack anyone to death who stands in his way of ultimately reaching Strode. I would have prefered a structured storyline with perhaps some meaning to the deaths of the townspeople. I felt as though their murders were cheap ways to draw out the storyline before Myers reaches Strode at the very end.

I am by no means a film critic, but I would only rate Halloween (2018) six out of ten stars. I was definitely entertained, but I think next time I’d save the $8 and watch something with a little more substance. I’m also left wondering, is this the end? Is Michael really dead? I suppose the audience will have to wait another forty years to know.

“Shelley; or, The Mother of Science Fiction” A Review

It has been two hundred years since Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published her famous story “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,” however it is often surprising how different people’s perceptions of the story are. From the fact that the monster isn’t named Frankenstein and could talk quite eloquently, to how Victor Frankenstein wasn’t a doctor, many details of the original story have been distorted by countless remakes. So, I decided to take a look at the original and find out what is at the roots of this horrific tale.

Frankenstein is a very interesting discussion of scientific license and a warning of deadly consequences of improper use. Consider that this came before the infamous “Manhattan Project,” where nuclear weapons were developed. Similar to how Victor is horrified by his creation, when the researcher Julius Oppenheimer saw the first atomic test he thought of this quote “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

This book is also beautifully written, with complex sentences and interesting vocabulary throughout. This format makes the book have a slow but building pace, allowing tension to gradually build up until the finale. However, it wouldn’t be honest of me if I didn’t mention my feeling towards the structure of the book. It opens and closes from the perspective of an arctic explorer who complains about not being able to meet any friends. I felt like this part was mostly just a framing device that ultimately doesn’t matter, because eventually Victor shows up and starts narrating the story from his perspective. Then, within that narrative, the monster shows up ands starts telling the story from his perspective. Lastly, the monster overhears some people in a cottage telling a story from their perspective. I just feel like all this complicated structure add only confusion and annoyance to my reading and nothing to the plot.

Throughout the novel, little sympathy seems to be given to the monster, and he is characterized as almost pure evil. Listen to this quote of the monster after he meets a Victor’s young brother William and finds out the two are related, “Frankenstein! you belong then to my enemy―to him towards whom I have sworn eternal revenge; you shall be my first victim”(Shelley 139). Many supervillains struggle to sound that evil on a daily basis. I kid, but I resent the monster’s characterization mainly because I see him more as a victimized child.

My greatest annoyance throughout the novel was my lack of sympathy for Victor himself. It is clear that Victor is intended to be the tragic protagonist of our story, and I feel for until the scene where he creates the monster. As previously discussed, he is horrified by his creation coming to fruition, and because of this he casts out his poor defenseless illiterate creature into a world that will never accept him. It was at this point my sympathy lay with the monster, the abandoned child, and not Victor, the horrible father. From this point on I felt like I must be reading the book wrong because how it tried to characterize Victor as the hero, when he was so clearly not, in my mind of course.

Look out William! Image from Frankenstein, The Ballet

Though I didn’t like this book, I do recommend watching the ballet. No joke, there is a Frankenstein ballet, it was made a few years ago by Liam Scarlett. I don’t know if there are any live performances, but you can buy a version that was taped at the London Opera House. It isn’t as good as the live performance, but it still displays a much more emotional and intense rendition of Shelley’s masterpiece. Although, you definitely are intended to read the book first since next to nothing is explained.

‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Ushers in a Newer, More Modern Era of Romance

Like “Mean Girls” or “Sixteen Candles”, recently-released Netflix original “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” revolves around the microcosm of high school – but where its predecessors may have failed in terms of diversity and even realism, the film succeeds in providing humor, relatability and more nuanced representations of identity.

Regardless of how much you think you hate rom-coms, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is an enjoyable venture for anyone with a heart. Lana Condor plays Lara Jean Covey, the film’s spirited but lovably sheepish main character whose usually tranquil teenage experience becomes chaotic when letters she’s written to her crushes somehow fall into the aforementioned crushes’ hands. Mayhem ensues as Lara attempts to control the damage done to her relationship, accidentally gets adopted by the popular crowd, and, despite her best efforts, falls in love with someone she knows she doesn’t have a chance with.

While the basic plot is unequivocally kitschy – and that’s even before the fake dating comes into play – Condor’s acting, alongside Noah Centineo, saves the day. Whatever disbelief you might harbor for such a tropey love story is suspended by the setting, the soundtrack, and the way Condor and Centineo interact on-screen. Setting a rom-com in high school may not to be the most original idea, but it provides a familiar backdrop that plays well against the also-familiar moments that Lara Jean experiences in front of the camera – embarrassment, exhilaration, andhesitation to actually feel her feelings.

The film’s sense of realism extends into its casting and soundtrack, too. Surprisingly enough for an extremely white-washed genre, the importance of Lara Jean’s Korean heritage is not overlooked: she and her sisters drink Yakult ritually, make fun of their father for butchering Korean dishes, and talk openly about their dual heritage at multiple points throughout the film. (Other examples of racial diversity and even a glimmer of gay representation appear in the film, but take a backseat to Lara’s role.) Though it’s important to acknowledge that “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is providing much-needed representation in a generally bland genre, the movie itself addresses Lara Jean’s identity with refreshing casualness – no drama, no self-congratulatory speeches, no poorly-scripted remarks on her Korean background from even the slimiest of characters.

The film’s soundtrack is one of its high points, and again, realism is its advantage. The majority of the songs played are synthy pop ballads that wouldn’t be out of place in a “Bedroom Pop” playlist on Spotify, the kind of songs that you add to your library even as they’re playing from the movie in front of you. During particularly dramatic moments, a few striking chords from a classical song might play to really drive the point home, but unlike many other movies, the tracklist from “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is fascinatingly easy listening.

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” could’ve easily succumbed to the wiles of an easy, tacky plot. But it stands out against a sea of rom-coms and Netflix originals because of its genuinely modern flair, shining from the film’s diversity, casual realism and relevance to today’s high school experience.

Music Review: The Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters are an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1994. The band’s current members include Dave Grohl on guitar and lead vocals, Taylor Hawkins on drums and backing vocals, Chris Shiflett on lead guitar, Pat Smear on guitar, Nate Mendel on bass, and Rami Jaffe on keys. Grohl formed the band after the death of former Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain in 1994.

Recently the band released their ninth studio album titled Concrete and Gold. “It’s a new evolved sound for the Foo’s, but added some more heavy elements in songs like Run, or symphonic elements like in the song Concrete and Gold” said senior Freddie Longshore-Neate. So far the response to the album has been mixed. Fans reactions have been very affirming and positive. Although reviews from publication have been mixed as well. “Grohl and co are on point, the tracklist has girth and depth. What Concrete and Gold lacks, perhaps, is actual concrete: fresh, modern, risky architecture, rather than Beatles tributes” said Kitty Empire The Guardian’s pop culture writer.

One thing nobody wavers on is when you go see the Foo Fighters you get what you pay for. After taking nearly two years to make Concrete and Gold the Foos are back and on a massive tour to promote the new album. The tour consists of over 50 dates spanning across five countries. Recently the Foo’s came to Sacramento and played for three and a half hours. A show covering anything from their greatest hits to songs only die hard fans know, songs from the first album like Alone & Easy Target to new songs from the most recent album like 2017 Grammy nominated song Run. Even cover of classic songs including Queens Under Pressure to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Baby Please Don’t Go.

The Foo Fighters continue their epic tour with a show at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on New Years Eve. Soon after they have a short break and with be rocking in Australia in 2018.

2017 in Review

While it can be argued how 2017 was compared to 2016, there’s no doubt that it’s been one very odd year. In the middle of crazy politics and tensions forming within the new presidency were records continuing to be broken in the entertainment industry and new products released throughout the year that people lined up to get their hands on. New installments in classic franchises became some of the most successful releases on the year, and a solar eclipse gave the country a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Controversy sprouted seemingly out of nowhere and it’s still not over. Reminisce on what else happened in 2017 with this handy timeline!

Yummy Christmas Cookie Recipes

The holidays are a time for friends and families to come together, and one way people connect is through cooking.
A great holiday recipe is peppermint popcorn. For this treat you will need: 1 pound of white candy coating coarsely chopped, 24 cups of popped popcorn, 4-6 crushed peppermint candy canes, and red nonpareils- or green for Da Vinci Pride! (optional) The directions for the peppermint popcorn are
(1) Melt the candy coating in a microwave and stir it until it is smooth
(2) In a separate large bowl, combine the popcorn and the crushed candy canes
(3) Pour the candy coating over the popcorn, and toss the bowl to mix
(4) Pour onto a baking sheet with wax paper and sprinkle on the nonpareils if wanted
(5) When it has hardened, break apart and store in an airtight container. (This recipe was provided by Taste of Home at https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/peppermint-popcorn)
The second fun and easy holiday recipe is peanut butter blossom cookies. This recipe requires: ½ cup of granulated sugar, 1 cup of packed brown sugar, 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1 cup of butter or margarine, 2 eggs, 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, an addition 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and 7 dozen Hershey’s Kisses. The steps to create these cookies are
(1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
(2) In a large bowl mix the granulated sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, and eggs with an electric mixture. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder
(3) Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in the additional granulated sugar and place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart from each other
(4) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are light brown
(5) Immediately after taking them out of the oven, press in the Hershey Kiss to the center of the cookie and let cool. (This recipe was provided by Betty Crocker at https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/peanut-butter-blossoms-cookie-exchange-quantity/78806839-e0bd-4710-8b10-82abbece7ce5)
With these creative recipes, the holidays are sure to be fun and delicious!

Movie Review: High School Musical 4?

OMG. Did you catch the teaser trailer for High School Musical 4 on YouTube?

It turns out the trailer that came out earlier this year was fake, unfortunately, but, according to refinery29.com, there is some truth to the possibility of some sort of reunion of the cast. Why not recap the previous movies so we are caught up and ready?!

In the first High School Musical, it’s New Year’s Eve and basketball star Troy meets studious Gabriella and they hit if off after singing karaoke together. They don’t think they will ever see each other again, but Gabriella moves to Troy’s high school and it’s magic all over again. Their relationship is challenged by Sharpay and Ryan, siblings who try to break them up. This high school love story shakes up the whole school. In the end, Troy and Gabriella amaze the audience with their singing and dancing.

In the second movie, it’s summer time for the Wildcats, which means finding a job. Troy and Gabriella get jobs at Lava Springs, a resort founded by Sharpay’s family. Sharpay still plans on ways to get Troy and Gabriella apart, and finds a way for Troy to lose his friends and Gabriella. However, the talent show at the end changes things when Troy helps Gabriella with her stage fright and things get better for them.

In the third and final movie, it’s senior year for the Wildcats. Troy, Gabriella, Ryan, Sharpay and the others are thinking about the reality of leaving for college. Gabriella goes to college early and Troy goes to see her there, realizing that it will be hard on the relationship to be far apart. At the end, all of the kids decide where they are going to college.
According to Hollywood Focus, this next movie will focus on the new Wildcats: Derick, Erin, Nathalie, Campbell, and Tamara. It is being written now and it should be released at the theaters in the next couple years.