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Arts and Entertainment 12/2010

Agalloch brings spirit to black metal

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Agalloch have made a decent name for themselves in the black metal and post-rock scenes. “Marrow Of The Spirit” is a follow up to 2006’s “Ashes Against the Grain,” an album that polarized post-rock and black metal communities for straying far away from traditionalist aspects of the genres. What the band creates transcends simple genre labels and pre-concieved notions about the limits of black metal and post-rock alike.

    Starting off with “They Escaped The Weight of Darkness,” the listener is invited into the listening experience by the sounds of a flowing river backed by a cello piece by guest musician Jackie Perez Gratz of band Grayceon. This song lulls the listener into a peaceful and melancholy place. This brief introduction is a stark contrast to the following track, “Into The Painted Grey.” The song begins with thunderous drums courtesy of new addition to the band Aesop Dekker, formerly of punk band Hickey and black metal band Ludicra. His punk background shines through on this album bringing a raw and unrelenting aggression to the album not previously seen in Agalloch’s discography. The track is a thorough display of the band’s ability to create a positive sound in a harsh song.

    This ability to create beauty shines throughout the album, wherein the explores many different types of music and song structures. “The Watcher’s Monolith” contains a section that nearly sounds like it could be a shoegaze song. The guitars and drums slow down to a pop beat that add a bit of fun into what would otherwise be a very serious record. Elsewhere on the album, “Lake Nidstång” brings in electronic elements, giving the song a haunting and bittersweet feeling. The song ends with a furious drum beat, and finally a repeat of the previous electronics.

    The climax of the album comes with the penultimate song “Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires,” in which the band combines all previous shown elements with mastery. The song truly encapsulates the feeling of winter by creating a sound that is terrifyingly beautiful. The sweeping chords of the guitars combine with vocalist John Haughm’s shrieks create a melancholic triumph which successfully ends the album’s harder elements.

    The final track, “To Drown,” ends the album somewhat where it began. The song shows an ambient side of the band which provide as the falling action to the album. Gratz’ cello sections heard in the introduction make a return here giving the song a deservedly evocative end. The track finishes up with the sounds of a flowing river which brings the album full circle.

    Even though Agalloch is considered a “metal” band this shouldn’t scare potential listeners away. The band takes elements from many different aspects of music creating a masterpiece of an album that most fans of music can find something in to enjoy. The beauty on the album far outweighs the harshness, and the band proves why they are one of the best in the scene.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5



by John Hill

Coraline Review

A new town, a new flat and misty weather –sounds like a perfect day to go on an adventure. 15-year-old Maya Donato did just as that as she takes the audience on an adventure in the musical adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s children’s book Coraline with her captivating portrayal of Coraline herself.

The play tells the story of a little girl, Coraline Jones, moving into a new town with her workaholic parents. Bored out of her mind, Coraline decides to explore the new apartment, finding a mysterious door that leads to a fantasy land where her “Other Mother” and “Other Father” grant her every wish. Coraline soon finds out that the fantasy land really is too good to be true the hard way.

In the quaint theatre, no larger than the average classroom, of the SF Playhouse, the production had several stage props that were all used to their fullness. Just as the stage props, the seven actors had also performed to their fullest. Nearly each of the actors played at least two roles, but the audience was overwhelmed by their performances and wondered if there were more than just seven of them. Four of the actors had to change their costumes and appearances in between scenes but that time frame was so short that the audience rarely noticed them missing. All the actors delivered amazingly convincing performances and equally as astonishing musical numbers. The vocal performances of the actors were top notch as they hit every note, sang on time, and did not forget to act while doing it.

Stacy Ross’ portrayal of both Coraline’s mother and “Other Mother” is not to be missed as she captivates the audience with her talent of so vividly switching from one character to the other. Along with the rest of the cast, she gave a breathtaking performance singing “Falling…Falling” during the demise of “Other Mother.”

Donato sends chills down the audiences’ spine with her amazing vocal cords. Her sweet and fantastically credible performance almost brings the audience to believe that they are in on the adventure with her.

Susi Damilano and Maureen McVerry also did terrific jobs portraying Miss Forcible and Miss Spink. Singing and dancing together as if they were one kept the audience entertained and the atmosphere fun.

Directed by Bill English, this west coast premiere of “Coraline” will last until January 15th, 2011 with tickets costing from $30-$50.



by Tiffany Do and Shirley Zhu

Battle of the wits

            There are several movies that have been made over the century, but only few get to be specially titled a “classic”. One of those would be the Princess Bride. As one of the most highly rated comedy films of all time, it is a film that not only captures the hearts of critics but the hearts of anyone who watches it. The movie was first shown on September 25, 1987. It is based on a novel titled The Princess Bride and was written by William Goldman. The film was directed by Rob Reiner with the screenplay written by the same author as the novel. The beginning of the film takes place with a grandfather (Peter Falk) who is visiting his sick grandson (Fred Savage), while offering to read him the princess bride story. Within that time period, a young woman living on the farm, Buttercup (Robin Wright) asks of the families hired farm boy, Westley (Cary Elwes), to do several odd jobs and chores. As he does them, he would always reply to buttercup, with his famous catchphrase."As you wish.  The couple eventually takes a liking towards each other, but as time passes on quickly within the book, Westley eventually goes missing. Buttercup believing him to be dead goes her way to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). But on her way to see him, she is taken captive by a trio of outlaws. A short witty man named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a wrestler by the name of Fezzik (André the Giant), and a fencing master by the name of Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin). But those three are not the only ones who are pursuing Buttercup. There also seems to be a mysterious and masked man after her as well, though his motives are not quite the same as the other three. The princess Bride is one of the best known movies out there, with its incredible use of irony and comedy; when they presents some of the best scenes in the movies, such as the battle of the Wits, a most memorable moment when the mysterious masked stranger faces off with Vizzini, fighting over buttercup using only their wits, and two glasses of wine, one filled with poison. It is a worth while movie and a great classic. The Princess bride is not your average every day, clichéd romance film , It’s a movie that is not easily replaced or remade, the actors did a great job keeping in character, even amongst the most silliest of lines, and the director did a great job adapting the film from the story. It is recommend to viewers everywhere who yearns for a unique,and creative comedy/romance film.



by Helen Moy

L is for Glee

High School Musical, move out of the way, and make room for Glee!

Glee is a brand new tv series that incorporates musical numbers in every episode. This comedy/musical has captured the hearts of many, with well over seven million views in the U.S. to date.

But these hardcore “gleeks” (or glee fanatics) have nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve watched every single episode of Glee so far, and it has ceased to amaze us.

Glee is about a regular high school with an unusual choir group called “New Directions.” All members in the group have a very unique character, even with their typical stereotypes. This includes a dumb jock, an overachiever, a pregnant cheerleader, a gay teen, a disabled teen, and a mix of cultural diversities.

The season, which just ended recently, contains a variety of songs. From classics such as, “Somebody to Love,” and “Imagine,” to newer songs such as, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” and “Take a Bow,” the Glee cast covers each song with expertise.
But Glee is not just a typical tv show filled with sex and drama. The show constantly displays a humble viewpoint that always makes the audience laugh without any obscene jokes. Not only that, but the Glee cast is composed of a variety of characters that allow viewers to expand their perspectives and really learn life lessons.

If you are looking for a feel-good tv series, then Glee is just for you. Be sure to tune in on April 2010 for season 2!


by Kary Kwong-Lee and Jacalyn Ho

News logo

Leave Bieber alone

No pop artist currently has the polarizing effect that Justin Bieber
has. It's funny, I was never aware of Bieber until I heard the
incessant whining of teenagers everywhere about how horrible a singer
he is. Naturally, I decided to take their advice and ignore him
completely. Unfortunately, the complaining didn't seem to cease. When
people on the Internet try to express how undeveloped someone's
musical taste is, they'll often say something along the lines of, "I
bet you listen to Justin Bieber." All of this attention around some
Canadian pop singer intrigued me and eventually caused me to look one
of his songs up.

After listening, I couldn't fathom how Bieber is deserving of such
animosity. I guess the aversion stems from his high singing register.
Is it really that odd hearing a male singer with a high voice? I think
it would be a lot more shocking if Bieber had an extremely low voice.
It just shocks me that people are so distraught over a teenage boy
having a high singing voice. Having that high a registry shows control
over his voice as well as a wide range.

People also seem to use Bieber as a scapegoat for homophobia. His
voice being a high registry combined with his fashion style cause many
people to call him a "faggot." It takes maybe, I don't know, three
seconds and two brain cells to realize that every song he sings is
about girls. He is completely not gay that to call him gay shows a
lack of intelligence. People who do this are obviously homophobic, and are trying to find a person to unload their hatred onto.Calling him untalented is one thing, considering music is subjective, but a "faggot" is unreasonable for any singer.

I suspect many people despise him for being another "Disney pop"
singer as well, which he is very far from. Despite some collaborations
with Miley Cyrus, Bieber is almost like the anti-Disney teenage pop
star. He didn't come from a background of a famous family or being a
child actor. He started his career off inadvertently by just posting a
video on YouTube. That is the definition of DIY (“do it yourself”).
Even though he hit it big from association with other pop musicians,
he was never rigged to become a sensation in the way that The Jonas
Brothers or Cyrus were with their backing by Disney. Furthermore,
instead of opting to collaborate with other teen pop stars, he goes
for the jugular of the music industry by seeking out artists like
Kanye West and Raekwon to be on his songs so that his music goes beyond what one would find on the average kid-pop song.

All in all, Justin Bieber will continue to make music for a long time.
It's very hard to tell at this point how huge his popularity will
become, but it's safe to say that people will continue to insult him
for a long time. Bieber's music career has obviously just started and will continue despite people thinking it's over when he hits puberty. Time will tell how much of a lasting impact he will have, but I'm sure it could be a pretty big one.



by John Hill

Harry Potter Review

Saving the world from a crazy nose-less dictator can get pretty difficult when one is full of teenaged angst. Opening on November 19th, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” gives a rather large, two and a half hour taste of the last chapter of the eight-part film. 
Picking up where the story left off, the film begins as the six others do, during the summer. But this time around, no one is reading the potions textbook or brushing up on their spell casting, but packing up to leave, not for Hogwarts, but for good. Some are moving for the safety of their families and some are literally erasing themselves from home all together. Emma Watson portrays the muggle (non-magical human)-born witch, Hermione Granger, with just the right amount of emotion to make any fan weak at the knees and tear up at the eyes.
Another moving performance is put on by redhead Rupert Grint who plays the part of Ronald Weasley. His facial expressions allow to audience to sense his angst, jealousy, love and true happiness.
The movie follows the trio in their journey of destroying the third of the six known horcruxes, while looking for the rest. Hermione brings Harry and Ron to various woods that hold dear childhood memories. The beauty of the wintery landscapes is captured by the excellent cinematography; the bright, white snow helps set the pure, chilling mood.

Based on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the movie leaves little detail out but puts too much emphasis on certain scenes. Some parts of the film have audiences drift in and out of attention. On the other hand, the peaks of action keep the viewers interested and engaged. All in all, the film did a terrific job transforming the book into a film. Look out for “Deathly Hallows Part 2” and final installment to the Harry Potter franchise this July.



by Tiffany Do

Facial Cleansers

            Going through puberty can bring many disturbances to the teenage body, with the most common one being acne.  It’s quite easy for a person to get acne but sadly it is very difficult to get rid of it. The first step to clearing your skin is knowing your skin type, which acne products suit your skin type and how to use the product.


If your skin dries out easily you have sensitive skin.

Products that work well on sensitive skin are:

  • Aveeno’s Clear Complexion Cream Cleanser- $8/ 5oz
  • Yes To Tomatoes Facial Wash- $10/ 3.38oz
  • Clean and Clear Morning Burst Shine Control- $7/ 8oz


If your forehead, nose, and chin area (commonly known as the T-zone) is oily but your cheeks stay smooth and soft you have combination skin.

Products that work well on combination skin are:

  • St. Ives Green Tea Scrub- $6/ 4.5oz
  • Clean and Clear Blackhead Scrub- $6/ 5oz
  • Clean and Clear Exfoliating Scrub- $5/ 5oz


If you are prone to breakouts you have oily skin.

Products that work well on oily skin are:

  • Clearsil’s Acne Clearing Scrub- $8/ 5oz
  • Clean and Clear Morning Burst Shine Control- $7/ 5oz


Products that do not work well are products from Neutrogena because they can replace your pimples with tiny scratches.


Recommended Procedure:

First, cleanse your face with your skin type’s recommended cleanser. Second, use a toner that does not have any alcohol in it and is oil free like Loreal’s Oil Free Toner costing around six dollars. After 15 minutes, you should moisturize your skin to prevent it from drying out. Recommended moisturizers are Olay Active Hydrating Original costing from five to ten dollars and Garnier Nutritioniste Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel Cream costing around ten dollars.


*Note: Skin type is hereditary. 

*Tip: Smell the product before you buy it to make sure you can stand the scent and won’t have a problem using it.




by Shirley Zhu