Archive for February, 2015

by Dave Aston

The Montgazette Editor

Wow, what a semester!

A fiftieth anniversary bash followed by finals. Montcoberfest at the same time we celebrated forty years of our Dental Hygiene Program. The opening of the Forty Foot Cafe and Candace Benson’s amazing finish on “Sunday Best.” And, on the small scale, my first round as Editor-in- Chief.

I first thought the job entailed just checking articles for grammar, syntax, style and structure. Boy, was I so wrong. Through the club meetings that were held this semester, I learned many valuable lessons. Among them, ideas for future stories, how to get The Montgazette read by more people and even suggestions on how to market the paper to a wider audience. The most valuable lesson I learned is that The Montgazette and all of Montgomery County Community College’s media outlets face a common difficulty. Engagement.

We are all bombarded by numerous forms of media. The Montgazette brings news of interest from our students to our students, faculty and community in a way that doesn’t require batteries or big screens. This is huge in surpassing the dif ficulty of engagement. Putting The Montgazette in places where people can easily see it and encouraging fellow students and faculty to read key ar ticles was the next key step. Our par tnership with USAToday produced The Buzz: MCCC app that has brought The Montgazette to the digital domain.

The Montgazette is now on the verge of a series of big changes that will come about next semester. For starters, we have teamed up with the communication program faculty on West Campus to get stories from Pottstown. In addition, monthly meetings will be held all semester long, starting in early February. Many more things are in the pipeline for an exciting future for Montco and its dynamic newspaper.

For now, enjoy the winter break. Have amazing holidays, no matter which one you celebrate. For those who are graduating, congratulations! Well done! Good luck in your future and come back to visit us often. The hard work we’re doing for The Montgazette, and Montco as a whole, will ensure that when your children come here to pursue their dreams, we’ll be ready to make them come true.


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by Justin Krauss

The Montgazette Staff Writer

Retail stores, including Target, Kmart, Best Buy, Macys, and JC Penny, heighten their competition with each other particularly during the holidays. In 2013, many stores decided that they would open their doors on Thanksgiving Day evening.

Over the last couple years, retail stores started opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday. Now it has gotten worse for many people who work in a retail environment with opening on the Thanksgiving Day holidays.

This year, stores are opening earlier than last year so they can make more money and keep up with their competitors. Many stores opened around 6pm on Thanksgiving Day and remained open through Black Friday and the weekend.

But what about family time?

In a Facebook study, I asked the question to get various opinions on retail stores opening early on holidays. “I don’t like it, we always went to my grandparents on Thanksgiving and we never thought of shopping that day… Society is taking the true meaning of the holiday away, ” commended one respondent.

Another responded, “I think it shows that corporations care only about profit and nothing about family which can be seen by the steady decline of benefits since the 1950s.”

Some of the people who responded on Facebook said that if Americans refused to shop on holidays then stores wouldn’t open so we have ourselves to blame as well. Other comments included, “I think it shows a willingness to put profits over family but if the marketplace didn’t support it with their dollars, it wouldn’t happen.”

Overall, from the responses I got, it appears many people do not agree with companies opening on holidays.

In reality, consumers are taking the family aspect of holidays away by letting these companies profit from this idea. Since companies are making profits, they think opening stores earlier will make them even more profitable. For me, the worst thing is that Kmart opened their doors on Thanksgiving. This shows how consumer need is increasing every year.

On the other hand, there are still some family-first companies out there like Costco and GameStop who did not open their stores on Thanksgiving. There are also no plans for any of the stores to open on Christmas.

If retail stores really want to compete effectively, it should be online, against retailers like Amazon, who already has prices lower than many traditional retail stores.

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by John Jungers

The Montgazette Staff Writer

The science-fiction, journey and film “Interstellar” was released to North American audiences in November. It was directed by Christopher Nolan and stars actors Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and Mackenzie Foy.

Among its brightest traits, “Interstellar” has a brilliant, colorful palette. Its focus lies in the grand scale and awesome objects of space such as black holes, planets and stars. McConaughey’s drive into a wormhole is a visual spectacle with spherical distortion to represent a bent void in space. Saturn is shown in a gloomy, pale-orange with its thin, brown rings. The most magnificent piece is the black hole, chained together by rings of light and shifting clouds of dust. The revolving grit bends and contorts as McConaughey’s ship enters and is dwarfed by streaming rock.

An equal part to the visuals is the sound. The sound is impactful and resonant as burning fuel gushes from a launching space shuttle and as McConaughey’s ship is peppered by debris. The audio design effectively represents the space void through minimal use of effects. But to add greater audial depth, Hans Zimmer’s score is heard accompanying the lush visuals and intense scenes. The music uses appropriate synthesizers and keyboards alongside an orchestra to represent a technological and futuristic setting. Zimmer propels climactic moments with building urgency, repetition and velocity.

The performances are moving throughout the film. McConaughey brings out a powerful attachment as a father to Foy’s character, his daughter. His acting delivers heart-wrenching moments and dramatic saturation. Chastain and Hathaway are equally as engaging in conveying the dying hope and frustration of space travel.

“Interstellar” is a film built for the movie theater. Its large sets, loud booms and dedicated performances are traits of Nolan’s films like “The Dark Knight” and “Inception.” The sights and sounds are projected passionately and the actors lead the audience on an isolated traversal of space.

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by Thomas Drakeford

The Montgazette Staff Writer

Last month, “Big Hero 6” was released by Disney Animation Studios just in time for the holiday season. Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, “Big Hero 6” tells a story pulling at audience’s emotions and imagination. It is a great movie about overcoming personal loss.

As it begins, the main character, Hero, is interesting in bot battling. His genius mind can come up with innovative technologies. Without any parents, Hero looks up to his older brother, Tadashi, who also has a technical brain.

The action heats up when Tadashi is killed in a fire leaving Hero with no one left. Or so he thinks. Tadashi has created a new technology called Baymax. Hero discovers the health care giver in his bedroom and quickly befriends it in a way to cope with Tadashi’s passing.

Adventures ensue and Hero finds other friends along the way trying to avenge Tadashi. Baymax truly steals the show as his humor makes people of all ages laugh along.

Disney has done it again with another smash hit. Critics are calling it, “Sweet and sharp and exciting and hilarious.” The Hollywood Reporter says that “Big Hero 6” is, “Immensely satisfying.”

Go and treat yourself to a great time at the movies and experience the comedic adventure that is “Big Hero 6.”

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by John Jungers

The Montgazette Staff Writer

“Halo 2: Anniversary” was set to release as part of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” on Nov. 11 from 343 Industries for Xbox One, Microsoft’s eighth-generation console, and features updated art design, graphics and music.

There are no new compositions being introduced to the game; only reworks of the original “Halo-2” score, which contains orchestral, ambient and choral pieces. Orchestral Conductor Wataru Hokoyama describes the score as a grouping of Classical music and Rock with an “earthy… and-out-there-into-space” sound.

As “Halo 2: Anniversary” is a re-release of “Halo 2,” a popular first-person shooter from 2004 made by Bungie Studios, the anniversary edition features visual and audial upgrades. The soundtrack was rerecorded at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, California. It was produced by Senior Audio Director Paul Lipson, Composers Tom Salta and Lennie Moore and Hokoyama.

Also in the redefined score is returning guitarist Steve Vai, who played electric guitar on the original score. His performance is captured on several tracks including the “Halo Theme Gungnir Mix,” the iconic rock song of the original “Halo 2.” While a finished recording played in the studio, Vai played his part over the song and the best take was chosen for the track. His style is sporadic yet focused as he streaks his left hand across the instrument’s strings: “[He] had a blast doing it then…” and was honored to be brought back.

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by Nathan Hegel

The Montgazette Staff Writer

The movie industry seems to have entered a phase of tunnel vision, at least in the mainstream. Hollywood focuses on spending lots of money to make lots of money. They stick with what works and they do not make much of an effort to try new things. In other words, they play it safe. Hollywood uses and reuses existing properties based off of their success rates in the past, but how long can that last?

Many great filmmakers who are still making movies today say that the industry is on its way to a meltdown. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were guests on a panel at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in 2012. Lucas said, “[Movie studios are] getting narrower and narrower in their focus. People are going to get tired of it. They’re not going to know how to do anything else.”

Spielberg agreed and said that movie studios would rather spend $250 million on a single film rather than using that money for several personal, quirky and unique projects. Spielberg thinks that there will be an inevitable meltdown. After this meltdown, Lucas predicts that there will be fewer movie theaters, but the ones that remain will be bigger and better and more expensive.

Spielberg and Lucas are not the only ones who are worried about the industry. Christopher Nolan, the man behind “The Dark Knight” trilogy and, more recently, “Interstellar,” expressed his concerns for the industry in a column written to The Wall Street Journal. Nolan said that, “The theatrical window is to the movie business what live concerts are to the music business–and no one goes to a concert to be played an MP3 on a bare stage.”

Nolan felt that there is a bleak future ahead for Hollywood. He blasted movie studios for their short term endgame of positioning films as products that can fill a variety of outlets, “like toothpaste or toilet paper.” Martin Scorsese on the
other hand, wrote an open letter to his daughter saying that advances in technology have made it possible for films to be made quicker and cheaper than ever before.

Nick Vergara, a digital audio production student at Montgomery County Community College, says that he is concerned for the future of film. He states, “They keep forcing the same movies and their sequels down our throats and I feel like there’s hardly anything original anymore.”

Matthew Marinelli, a communication student at Montco, says, “Mainstream Hollywood isn’t going anywhere… While there are plenty of advances that have changed how we watch movies in the past decade, advances in the viewing experience are not new to the industry. It is more a question of who is going to make the best use of the technology.”

Jeremy Keller, a former post- production assistant on “Nurse Jackie,” “Orange Is The New Black” and “Birdman,” says, “Honestly, I think it will be very much the same as it is now, but movies will be more expensive. I think there will be more features made just for Netflix only, like their TV shows.”

Technology has changed in the media over the past decade, especially in the television and music industries. Meanwhile, the movie industry has remained the same. That means it is undoubtedly on its way to changing very soon.

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by Dave Aston

The Montgazette Staff Writer

Fanboys and fangirls of the books, hold your anger. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, which was released nationwide on November 21, 2014, doesn’t disappoint. Until the last twenty seconds.

Mockingjay, Part 1, the third of the enthralling Hunger Games movies, starts with Katniss Everdeen, lead by the ever-awesome Jennifer Lawrence, in a state of emotional breakdown. She connects with her hunting partner, Gale Hawthorne, properly portrayed by Liam Hemsworth, but his anger drives a wedge between them.

On top of this, Katniss is not given time to sort out her feelings about the loss of her home, her neighbors and her integration into the dungeon community of District Thirteen, once believed destroyed. Katniss is not ready to return to her now non-existent home of District Twelve. Nor is she ready to become the leader, a.k.a. Mockingjay, of a rebellion against the evil Capitol, but is forced to.

After Katniss heeds advice from Prim, her younger sister, portrayed by the astonishing Willow Shields, she reluctantly puts her all into the role. Many televised propaganda spots, both by Katniss and Peeta, the boy she realizes she loves, make her lose focus. Josh Hutcherson, a superb actor, period, blew me away with his unbelievably realistic performance of Peeta Mellark, who is tortured by Katniss’s real enemy, Capitol President Coriolanus Snow.

When Snow orders a devastating bombing of District Thirteen, he deposits his genetically perfect roses for Katniss as a sign that he’s watching her. Katniss tries to show the rebels in the rebelling Districts that she has survived the bombing and is okay. As she stares at the flowers, she grasps the reality that without Peeta in her arms, she’ll never be okay.

Haymitch Abernathy, played by household Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson, reassures her that Peeta will be safe soon because Gale and others volunteered to rescue him. Except, Snow knew all about the rescue and purposefully let Peeta go.

Peeta is brought to the District Thirteen hospital, along with Jena Malone’s character, the always feisty Johanna Mason. When Katniss arrives to surround her boy with the bread with a loving hug, he surrounds her neck with his hands.

Does the movie end there? At the perfect cliffhanger moment? No. After Katniss begins to heal, she is told how Peeta was tortured and that the Capitol has turned him into a weapon against her and the rebellion. As the movie closes, the inhabitants of District Thirteen blindly cheer on their President Alma Coin, wonderfully performed by Julianne Moore, into the jaws of death or victory. In the last twenty seconds, Katniss walks down a hospital corridor then stops to gaze at Peeta, strapped to a hospital bed, thrashing about.

Then the movies ends.

And I went, huh?

Okay, movies have to be viewed for their own sake, separate from the books, which is hard for me. So I excused some major screw-ups until those last twenty seconds. But Part 1’s of any movie franchise have to have stunning, hold-my-attention-for- at-least-a-year, cliffhangers. This near- flop does not. Frankly, the superior acting by this irreplaceable cast is the only thing that salvaged this would-be 5-star flick, knocking it down to an unfortunate three stars. Maybe.

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