By Jasmine Tang
Contributing Writer

Jennifer Lawrence stars in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” reprising her role as Katniss Everdeen. Photo Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Jennifer Lawrence stars in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” reprising her role as Katniss Everdeen. Photo Courtesy of Lionsgate.

“You’re going to be the best dressed rebel in history.”

That one line pretty much sums up the experience of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.” Fresh out of the arena, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”) finds herself quite literally thrust into the spotlight when she is asked to become the Mockingjay, a symbolic leader, for the rebels of Panem. Katniss must navigate television ads, wardrobe issues and words of encouragement from her former mentors in order to move a step closer to defeating the elusive President Snow (Donald Sutherland, “The Italian Job”).

As the first-half of a two-part movie, “Mockingjay — Part 1” adequately fulfills its role as a stepping-stone for the finale. It pales in comparison to its predecessor, the highly-acclaimed “Catching Fire,” but succeeds in bridging the gap from the action-packed second movie to the (hopefully) astounding finale.

“Mockingjay — Part 1” takes flight a few months after “Catching Fire” abandoned us in the moment that Katniss Everdeen learns that her hometown of District 12 was destroyed by the wicked Capitol, who rules over the impoverished districts of Panem.

We meet Katniss Everdeen once again, as she has been shuttled off to District 13 after defying the Capitol yet again and literally exploding her way out of her second Hunger Games. Jennifer Lawrence expertly portrays the fractured, shell of a person that remains after she loses everything. Her partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, “Red Dawn”) was captured by the malicious Capitol at the end of the last movie and is used throughout the film to bait Katniss in a cat-and-mouse game between our dear femme fatale and the sadistic President Snow.

Julianne Moore (“Children of Men”) was also introduced in this film as the President Alma Coin of District 13, a stern, tight-lipped woman who doesn’t bow down to anyone, not even Katniss Everdeen, the beloved Mockingjay. However, her scenes are mundane and lacking in the fire required to accurately capture the determined nature of the woman who is seeking to take down the Capitol.

President Alma Coin attempts to unite the districts against the Capitol, a difficult feat since the majority of people in Panem remained oppressed by Snow. These feeble attempts cause the first half of the film to lack the energy that was evident in “Catching Fire.” The lack of action created a tension amongst viewers, who were unsure when the movie was going to take off.

But everything seems to shift after Lawrence’s highly anticipated rendition of “The Hanging Tree.” Her voice is enticing and it is enough to electrify the people of Panem into revolt. Lawrence’s song seems to awaken the people in their seats who were beginning to lose interest in the mundane wartime saga that comprises the first half of the movie.

Woody Harrelson (“True Detective”) brings much-needed comedic relief to the film in his reprisal of Haymitch Abernathy, the (formerly) drunken mentor to Katniss, and his scenes are a welcome change against the seemingly tiresome ones that occur in the bunker-like board room with Alma Coin.

Elizabeth Banks (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) aids in his endeavors to make the audience laugh in her reprisal of Effie Trinket. Banks brings new dimension to a character who has been stripped from the frills of her former life. Her butterfly-applique dress and 12-inch tall pink wig are replaced with a jail-like jumpsuit and headscarf (and never-ending sass to match). With her world turned upside down, Effie struggles to make the transition from Capitol Barbie to a self-proclaimed prisoner of war, even though her only choice was to flee or risk being killed by Snow.

Director Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend”) did a phenomenal job at recreating the militaristic, stringent conditions that the characters are living under in the novel. Although the dialogue sometimes adheres too closely with lines from the novel to feel authentic, the actors are generally able to seamlessly incorporate them into a natural dialogue.

Fans speculated about where the split between parts one and two would occur. Many believed that part one of “Mockingjay” would end with an overly dramatic scene, intended to up the shock factor and leave fans clamoring for more as seen in previous sagas that split the final novel into two such as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.” But Director Lawrence doesn’t give the fans the cliché ending that they predicted. He goes past the moment of horror you experience when Peeta lunges at Katniss, and he is eventually knocked cold. Instead, he shows the aftermath of this moment, leaving us with characters that are physically and mentally shaken and in their most emotionally vulnerable state yet. Although we are not left gasping in our seats to discover the outcome of the infamous choking scene, we are indeed left with characters that sit before us like an open book. Only then does Lawrence choose to close the chapter.

The movie seems to come full circle at this moment, with Jennifer Lawrence departing from us in a similar state to the one we found her in: broken.

Any of the movie’s previous shortcomings are forgotten. Part one definitely served its function: I am only left waiting for part two and wishing that it wouldn’t be an entire year until these characters grace the screen again.

As for the breathtaking song that Jennifer Lawrence sang? Let’s just say it was the perfect one for when the screen went black.

— By Jasmine Tang, Contributing Writer

By Erin Degler
Contributing Writer

HorribleBossesPosterThere’s always a tendency to be afraid of sequelitis, the unnecessary continuation of a movie that just happened to have a loose end — and then, unfailingly, the sequel only creates more loose ends. Slapping a “2” onto a movie that would have worked as a stand-alone film is usually what makes action movies redundant. As I walked into the theater to see “Horrible Bosses 2,” there were posters for “Taken 3,” “Big Hero 6” (I wondered where the first five were) and the new “Hunger Games” installment, which, to be fair, is a necessary sequel.

However, what makes these problematic is largely their inability to recreate the initial sense of enjoyment that audiences experienced in the first movie’s showing. Some argue that Hollywood is dead, only able to make adaptations of books, adaptations of adaptations or sequels that reuse tropes and storylines that are monotonous.

“Horrible Bosses 2” was none of these things. The sequel is an incredibly creative, unique and genuinely funny movie that references the original film only to make sure that very few things were repeated. Without giving away too much information,  anything that could or should have happened in the first “Horrible Bosses” played an integral role in giving the movie a surprising sense of continuity. I expected the new movie to be unnecessary, rehashing the same jokes and trying to siphon money out of crowds by way of the actors’ star power and status alone. But “Horrible Bosses 2” was funnier than the first movie, to the point that it could have been a standalone film.

With a screenplay by Sean Anders and John Morris, the duo responsible for “We’re the Millers,” the movie had the audience in stitches for a vast majority of the film. On top of a well-done screenplay, it became very obvious that, once again, the three starring actors had been turned loose to improvise to their hearts content. The chemistry between Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”) as Nick Hendricks, Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”) as Dale Arbus and Jason Sudeikis (“We’re the Millers”) as Kurt Buckman is electric. As Anders has said, “We’d get a take or two that was more-or-less on script, and then we’d open it up and let the guys go nuts, and that’s where some of the funniest moments came from.”

Resulting is a movie where our less-than-brilliant average Joes are put into yet another impossible situation, and each time, they somehow make the worst decisions possible. And it is hilarious.

The Wheel had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with the starring trio. When asked about the best behind-the-scenes pranks, the crew admitted they really had the most fun on the screen. As Day said, “There were not a lot of whoopee cushions on that set.” Jokes and pranks tend to happen off-screen when the mood needs to be lightened, but apparently while filming “Horrible Bosses 2,” it was more necessary to try and get serious.

Whereas in the first movie the boys are all trying to kill off their terrible, horrible bosses, the sequel finds Nick, Dale and Kurt deciding to be their own bosses. This, unsurprisingly, does not go over well. Most of the movie is dedicated to them trying to fix their resulting failure in the worst way: kidnaping (otherwise known as kidnapping). Unlike the first movie, “Horrible Bosses 2” features Bateman, Day and Sudeikis together in almost every scene.
“We spend almost all of the time together,” Bateman explained, “Off the bat, we’re all on a couch together.”

With Bateman’s straight-man character, Day’s neurotic energy and Sudeikis’ too-cool attitude, their scenes were incredible. Even more incredible was the sheer will it must have taken for the supporting roles to keep from cracking up. Old faces return such as Jennifer Aniston’s sex addict, Jamie Foxx’s criminal advisor and Kevin Spacey’s truly horrible boss (he’s back, and somehow worse). And there are a few new big-name stars entering the picture, namely Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) as the kidnappee Rex Hanson and Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”) as Rex’s father, Bert Hanson.

“Waltz didn’t need to play funny because the humor of his scenes sparked from playing it straight,” Anders explained. If the blooper reel during the credits was anything to go by (yes, there are bloopers, you’re welcome), Pine struggled to do the same. And speaking of Chris Pine …

“We got to have a fourth musketeer,” Day said. “He brought a lot to it. Brought a lot of hotness. He brought the looks.” I couldn’t agree more.

“Horrible Bosses 2” is hilarious. It does have its fair share of callbacks to the first movie, so if you want to see it, I would recommend taking the time to watch “Horrible Bosses” first. But if you want to go to the movies and aren’t up for anything too heavy or dramatic, “Horrible Bosses 2” is lighthearted and sure to keep you entertained the entire way through. I would see it again with my other friends just to see them laugh. It is truly a treat for us to see these three fantastic comedians come back together three years later.

As Day said, “It was fun to get back together as actors … as the characters, though, it’s a seriously bad thing.”

But for the audience? A seriously great thing.

— By Erin Degler, Contributing Writer

 

By Jake Choi
Staff Writer

After 15 years of publication, Naruto ended on Nov. 10 with its 700th chapter. Like millions of other fans, I was sad to see a part of my childhood end. Naruto was the first series that got me started on reading manga. It resonated with so many people in their youth because, at its absolute core, Naruto is the classic tale about growing up in the face of adversity. It is the ultimate underdog story where the titular talentless ninja must become a strong hero who is accepted by his peers.

For those who aren’t familiar, manga is the name of Japanese comics. Naruto was published by Weekly Shonen Jump, the weekly magazine where different manga chapters are released. To understand the massive dedication that author Masashi Kishimoto put into his work, one must realize that a chapter released each week typically has 18 to 19 pages. If one were to consider 15 years of publication, well, that’s a huge legacy filled with pages demonstrating dedication and fortitude.

The story centers on Naruto, a young ninja who grew up alone and was hated by other villagers. He soon learns the real reason for his ostracization is because the Fourth Hokage, the village leader, trapped a very powerful and malevolent fox spirit inside him. After learning this secret about himself, Naruto strives to become Hokage and goes on ninja missions to prove his worth and gain acceptance from his ninja community.

The premise of the series may seem simplistic but that is its intent. Naruto is a series that needed to appeal to its young targeted audience, so the storyline couldn’t be too complicated. However, don’t judge Naruto to be a childish series just yet. Like any other series, Kishimoto crafted his series to go far beyond what anyone expected from the beginning.

Naruto has many positive aspects going for it: it has a world that a person can easily immerse themselves into. The ninja world is a huge land with different ninja countries, each with its own culture and people. The story mainly takes place in the Hidden Leaf Village and the story explores its history and inhabitants. Like all manga, the art is mainly in black and white — but as an art style, Kishimoto is very impressive and easy on the eyes, featuring the right balance of shading and toning.

Being a Shonen series, there is a lot of action. One thing that I think Naruto surpasses other series’ in is in the fight sequences, which are creative, high-paced and intellectual. The ninja abilities we see personify the characters’ temperament, and are used in a way such that they can outwit the opponents. The high-tension clashes are as mental and physical as they can get between ninja warriors.

In close examination of the main characters, our hero Naruto is a typical Shonen archetype. He is loud, brash and ambitious; the type of person whom young readers can empathize with in terms of maturity level while older readers can look forward to his growth. Other main characters include Sasuke, Naruto’s rival prodigy who has a personal goal of vengeance, and Sakura, a young female ninja, who acts as the mediator of these two ninja teammates. As readers, we see how all three struggle to overcome personal problems; for Naruto, he has to prove his worth as a hero after suffering from being a lonely outcast as the container for the destructive fox spirit. For Sasuke, he has an ambition to kill his brother as vengeance for killing his entire clan and family. For Sakura, she must throw away her love in order to do what is right for the ninja world.

But in terms of characters, the supporting cast and the antagonists of Naruto are the most interesting. I talked before about how the story explores the history of the ninja world; the story also gives flashbacks to explore the backgrounds of supporting characters and they are often heartbreaking stories that give lots of insight into how and why the characters act and think like they do in the present. The villains in the stories are many, each with their own vendetta and plan, but Kishimoto adroitly gives quirks to them so that they are unique in skills and attitude. He is able to make his villains both frightening and likable at the same time.

Even so, Naruto is not perfect. The main problem of Naruto comes with its Shonen genre. Although there is an overall storyline with engaging obstacles, there are also repeated cycles of characters training and getting stronger. This would be fine, except it means reading several chapters without plot development. I could forgive that because the training is informative and entertaining, but the fight scenes also drag on for many chapters and hundreds of pages. The repeated cycles, therefore, muddle the pacing of the story because each character has his or her own story and battle to focus on. In the end, it’s hard to know what’s going on with each character, causing the overall storyline to get bogged down and heavy on detail.

Another weakness can be seen in Naruto himself. He is rather one-dimensional because his motives in becoming Hokage and saving his friends get repetitive and boring. There were also instances when I would get frustrated with the ambitions of Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke because their individual goals become less interesting as the story drags on, causing the intensity to drop significantly.

Overall, Naruto contains themes of spirited friendship and a determination to never give up. It has many epic moments that get the readers’ blood boiling in excitement, but, at the same time, suffers from its length, genre and predictability. The sheer scope of this ninja world is huge and this is reflected by the impact Naruto has made on the manga industry and culture.

The battles, both physical and emotional, in Naruto are memorable and heartwarming, and they accomplish their goal in drawing readers into the lives of characters who are charming in both power and personality. The series does a very good job with storytelling in terms of describing characters’ histories and backgrounds of the different characters.

I would highly recommend this manga to anyone who is looking for a fun series full of heart and adventure. It has been a special part of my childhood and my interest in manga, and will be one I won’t forget.

To quote Naruto’s catchphrase: “Dattebayo” — and believe it.

— By Jake Choi, Staff Writer

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By Kelsey Klosterman
Staff Writer

Music can come from anywhere, and there are dozens upon dozens of platforms out there for musicians to get their work out there.

Aside from programs specially tailored to music, like iTunes and Spotify, there are many ways to find music in areas that are used for other purposes — like YouTube.

YouTube has videos on just about anything, but there’s a huge community within the site that’s set aside for musicians.

Viewers go to YouTube to find new artists to listen to, and it’s easy to find people you like because of all the collaborations YouTubers create with each other.

There are loads of musicians who get their big break from their channels and many who use YouTube as their main platform to put their music on display.

Corey Gray is a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles whose main platform for spreading his music is YouTube. He released his first EP, Let Loose, in 2012, which featured four original songs.

In January of this year, he released his latest EP, Y.O.U., the title an acronym for “Your Own Universe,” featuring four more tracks.

Gray’s YouTube channel is filled with dozens of beautiful acoustic covers of chart-topping tracks from artists of diverse genres, from Lana Del Rey to 3 Doors Down. Covers, collaborations and live music are all over his channel, but his original songs are definitely worth a listen, too.

One of his most popular originals is “Step Away,” a song from Y.O.U. that depicts a couple struggling with their relationship. It features Gray singing over a piano backing, a simple combination that highlights the sorrow in the song.

Other original songs and videos Gray has made are very upbeat, celebrating the carefree lifestyle of people who let loose and have fun.

Wisconsin-born Madilyn Bailey has been a musician since she was a child; she plays the piano, acoustic guitar and the drums, but her voice is her most important instrument. She has used YouTube as a way to spread her music to the world since 2009.

Bailey’s channel features original tracks, but her videos are primarily covers of popular songs.

With over 100 covers and collaborations, she has made a name for herself as a famous YouTube singer-songwriter. Her tracks often feature her singing over her own piano or acoustic guitar instrumentals.

Bailey’s channel also has vlogs about herself, including videos with Q&A sessions and make-up tutorials requested by her subscribers.

YouTubers like Bailey are known for their creativity, and another example of this phenomenon is Oregon singer-songwriter Peter Hollens, who created his YouTube channel in 2011 and has since made a huge name for himself in the music world. He’s spent his entire life in music; he founded the first official collegiate a cappella group in the state, judged and performed in a cappella competitions and recorded for several studios.

What makes Hollens unique, though, is his multi-tracked a cappella covers — he records himself dozens of times and combines every track to create a complete song.

He’s not only the main voice of the song but the instruments and back-up vocals, too. It’s the epitome of a one-man show.

Hollens appeals to all kinds of people: his “Legend of Zelda” and “Skyrim” collaborations with Lindsey Stirling attract the gaming community, his Wicked and Phantom of the Opera compilations attract the musical theater groups, and his covers of chart-toppers by artists like Imagine Dragons and Bruno Mars bring even bigger crowds. When it comes to Hollens, there’s a song for everyone to enjoy.

YouTube has a huge community for music-lovers, and it’s easy for anyone to find dozens of artists they love.

From original music to covers, a cappella to trance, there’s music for everyone.

If you’re looking for new artists to listen to, try the YouTube community — they’ll have something to suit every musical taste.

— By Kelsey Klosterman, Staff Writer

College junior James La Russa (left), College senior Sarah Beach (center) and College senior Aneyn O’Grady (right) perform in Tara Lee’s “The Swimmer,” a piece choreographed for the Emory Dance Company. Photo Courtesy of Lori Teague

College junior James La Russa (left), College senior Sarah Beach (center) and College senior Aneyn O’Grady (right) perform in Tara Lee’s “The Swimmer,” a piece choreographed for the Emory Dance Company. Photo Courtesy of Lori Teague

By Emily Sullivan
Staff Writer

After nearly two and a half months of collaboration, the work of students, faculty, guest choreographers and guest dancers came to life at the Emory Dance Company’s (EDC) fall performance.

Last Thursday, Nov. 20, was opening night for the EDC’s “Intersections of Mind and Body.” Some of the pieces were original works by Emory faculty members, while others were comprised of guest choreography; four of the five pieces were newly choreographed.

Bebe Miller’s “Prey” was the exception to that rule, and the first performed; Miller’s choreography had been previously hand-notated and was restaged with the help of Agnes Scott College student Bridget Roosa, for a combined cast of Emory University and Agnes Scott College students.

In order to make any necessary revisions to the restaging, Miller held an intensive with the EDC over one weekend. Long hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday were filled with rehearsals, explained College freshman Maggie Vail, who performed in both “Prey” and University of Alabama Faculty and Guest Choreographer Sarah Barry’s “Traveling Light.”

After a brief introduction from Director and Associate Professor of Dance Lori Teague, eight dancers from Emory and seven from Agnes Scott walked onstage in a blackout. When the music to Miller’s piece, “Pine Tree and on the Street” began, the dancers proceeded to make noises similar to those of birds cawing. The cast, a grand total of 15 people, proved effectively loud in an engaging and surprisingly non-distracting manner. The use of such a large group was also powerful in terms of the group’s visual dynamic: many movements occurred simultaneously, ranging from crawling to arm flapping to jumping.

The next piece performed, “The Swimmer,” was choreographed by Tara Lee of the Atlanta Ballet. This piece presented several duets, including a partnership between Emory College junior James La Russa and College senior Sarah Beach; with the duet came high back attitudes and deep pliés. The duet repeated itself at the end of the dance; tasteful repetition and beautiful technique were the piece’s two strongest suits.

Amongst these duets were movements that simulated weightless swimming, allowing for the audience to feel intrigue but also calmness that was radiating from the dancers.

The third piece, falling right in the middle of Thursday’s show, was “Schönheit Gegenübergestellt.” Choreographed by Dance Instructor Tara Shepard Myers and translated from German as “Beauty Juxtaposed,” “Schönheit Gegenübergestellt” featured wild hair, colorful costumes and an excellent technique level.

The dancers of this piece, some wearing neon and one in white, utilized scaffolding as a prop; displaying the dichotomy between attitude and environment, the isolated white-costumed dancer, Beach, drifted around the others on, around and through the bare scaffolding.

Next up was Barry’s “Traveling Light.” Vail described the process of creating and polishing the piece: “The cast of nine dancers and two understudies worked with [Barry] over two weekends,” she said. “Her piece, ‘Traveling Light,’ focuses on community, the connection between all of the dancers and how we support each other.”

This message was carried out effectively, as the audience could envision camaraderie among the dancers while uplifting music and bright lights showered the stage. The choreography appeared difficult but rather small at times; attention was therefore drawn more toward the dancers’ multitude of emotions and expressions.

“Norm” was the last piece performed, choreographed by Senior Dance Lecturer Greg Catellier. During the EDC auditions, Catellier stated that he wanted his piece to involve significant collaboration between his dancers and himself, and the piece proved nothing short of interesting. “Norm” was accompanied by a jazzy house song, “Rose Rouge” by St. Germain, that repeated the lyrics, “I want you to get together.”

Dancers portrayed the simple desire for individuality but also for conformity and often used a wall as a common place on which to lean, to pose and to exclude. The piece was ultimately a combination of fun personalities and a great way to end an awe-inspiring show.

Emory’s dance students, guests and faculty alike are highly devoted to the EDC and its success. No one conveyed this better than Catellier himself, whom I was fortunate enough to be sitting about two seats away from. He was laughing, grinning and grooving for the entire duration of his piece.

— By Emily Sullivan, Staff Writer

Mulan Dance Group performed at the LiNK Benefit Concert in the Cox Hall Ballroom last Friday. Various student voices and dance groups performed to raise money and awareness for refugees who escaped from North Korea. Photo by Julia Munslow /Staff.

Mulan Dance Group performed at the LiNK Benefit Concert in the Cox Hall Ballroom last Friday. Various student voices and dance groups performed to raise money and awareness for refugees who escaped from North Korea. Photo by Julia Munslow /Staff.

By Julia Munslow
Staff Writer

Mention North Korea, and many people will immediately conjure up images of political unrest.

However, Emory’s student-run chapter of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), who recently hosted their annual benefit concert, takes the attention off of the politics and places it on the people, focusing on rescuing refugees.
LiNK’s fourth annual Benefit Concert took place last Friday at 7 p.m. in the Cox Hall Ballroom. The event included an educational presentation about LiNK’s cause, performances from student groups such as No Strings Attached, Adrenaline and Solar Sun and delicious Korean food.

LiNK President and College senior Vincent Vartabedian described LiNK as a national human rights organization with two central goals.

“The first [goal] is to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in North Korea,” Vartabedian shared. “And the second [goal] is to raise funds so that refugees get relocated and resettled.”

The Benefit Concert sought to meet both of those goals.

The concert began with an introductory video that asked audience members to imagine living in North Korea: surviving without basic freedoms, such as the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech, and suffering from famine.

Members of the LiNK Executive Board kicked off the performances, dancing to Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” The lighthearted performance featured, to the dismay of College sophomores John Lee and Shawn Kim, Lee and Kim wearing bright red dresses and attempting to move their hips as fluidly as possible to the music.

Following the Executive Board’s performance, No Strings Attached sang Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” featuring College senior Fei Gao, and Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” featuring College sophomore Brian Steinberg.

Though Steinberg had to fight through some technical issues, the group did their best to work around the faulty sound system.

The Mulan Dance Group followed the a cappella group, dancing in beautiful synchronization. The precise gestures and elegant hand movements from the Chinese dance troupe were impressive, although the group had trouble filling the room with their presence.

Also on tap were LiNK Nomads, who spread the word about the non-profit organization, traveling the country and educating as many people as possible about the plights of North Korean refugees.

LiNK Southeast Nomad Tom Harrington, a national representative of LiNK, followed the dancers with an educational presentation that sobered the mood, sharing videos of refugees who escaped from North Korea as teens.
However, the stories of the refugees managed to end on a hopeful note, as the three refugees who shared their stories in the video reminded audience members of their ability to save other refugees.

Following the presentation, Emory’s belly dancing group, Zeebah, performed. Though a few girls had trouble balancing the golden swords on their heads, the expertise of others was clear, evidenced by those who managed to finish the performance without rebalancing their swords.

Next up was Solar Sun, a duo comprised of College sophomore Sol Lee and College senior Erin Sun. The pair slowed down a medley of Beyonce hits, creating a captivating acoustic medley including songs such as “Drunk in Love” and “Single Ladies.”

While the mere idea of an acoustic Beyonce medley had me excited before their performance even started, the pair still completely met my expectations. Sun’s soft and clear vocals, supported by Lee’s vocals and guitar, managed to fill the room, eliciting positive reactions from the audience throughout the performance.

Following Solar Sun was the AV Club, who performed a cover of Bastille’s “Pompeii.” Comprised of College senior Andrew Navia and Vartabedian himself, the duo showed off their strong vocals and enthusiasm.
After the AV Club came beatboxing duo Arjun and Kevin Lu, made up of College junior Arjun Patel and College freshman Kevin Lu. The two managed to stand out from the rest of the program, improvising their performance and astonishing the audience.

It was only in witnessing the pair of vocal percussionists with my own eyes that I accepted that the two were solely responsible for the nearly perfect musical simulations.

After the beatboxers, musical trio Jenny, Steven and Jae, featuring College senior Steven Song and College juniors Jenny Park and Jae Lee, sang a remix of songs from Korean pop group Big Bang.

And Adrenaline, Emory’s co-ed hip-hop group, ended the show with a bang, easily filling the room with their intense presence.

The entire concert felt casual and relaxed, focusing on raising awareness for LiNK’s cause instead of concentrating on perfecting the performances.

Multiple LiNK members, equally knowledgeable about North Korea, shared their insights about why LiNK is important.

“When people think North Korea, there’s stigma against it, they really just focus on the politics,” LiNK Secretary and B-School sophomore Soo Min Kang said. “But they don’t think about the people who are actually suffering from that government, and I think it’s really important to help spread the word, [and] also to help raise money for those refugees.”

Though a relatively young chapter on Emory’s campus, LiNK has found much success on other college campuses around the country.

“We’ve rescued over 300 North Korean people,” Harrington shared proudly. “Over half of [the rescues] have been fundraised by college students.”

The performers were also aware of the importance of giving back to their community.

“When [performers] stick close together and work toward something, it’s beautiful,” Patel said.

Lu agreed, adding, “Hopefully we just bring more attention to the cause and show people what LiNK is about.”

While LiNK’s Benefit Concert concert was hardly a professional production, the event succeeded by raising awareness and funds, as well as by showing the enthusiasm and talents of the performers — which is exactly how a benefit concert should be.

— By Julia Munslow, Staff Writer

College freshman Jay Gillen (center) performs in “Old McSkellar Had a Farm,” the latest performance from student improv group Rathskellar, in Harland Cinema last Saturday. Erin Baker/Staff.

College freshman Jay Gillen (center) performs in “Old McSkellar Had a Farm,” the latest performance from student improv group Rathskellar, in Harland Cinema last Saturday. Photo by Erin Baker/Staff.

By Annie McNutt
Staff Writer

Rathskellar has done it again. From the plaid attire to the country twangs, “Old McSkellar Had a Farm” was a farm-filled funny fest.

On Saturday, Nov. 22 in Harland Cinema, Emory’s improv comedy troupe, Rathskellar, performed some new games as well as some old classics. The evening started off with a game called “New Choice.” For this game College seniors Natalia Via and Neel Ghosh, two of my favorite Rathskellar members, pretended to be in a custodial closet. The humor that ensued was a bit grotesque but, nonetheless, laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Via was also phenomenal in the Shakespeare game performed later on in the evening. Via and College senior Julia Weeks spoke in Shakespeare-esque language about a radio, or as they called it, “a metal box of music.” Via’s emphatic gestures and unintelligible verbal ramblings were perfect. Her gestures stood out most when Weeks threatened to change the radio station to the modern age, and Via became visibly distraught over the thought of losing her Shakespearean identity. Both girls perfectly intertwined the classic English with comedy while at the same time making it seem as though classical English was their first language.

Another notable performance was from College freshman Jay Gillen, whose first game of the show was “Musical On-Off.” Taking on the role of a protective zookeeper, he tried to keep a lovestruck girl away from a koala (okay, you had to be there).

His musical numbers, full of perfect rhymes and accompanied by incredible dance moves, mesmerized the audience.

Standing at six feet, five inches, Gillen’s jig, which consisted of him jumping up and down dancing across the stage, made it impossible not to notice him. As a member of Rathskellar for a matter of months, Gillen is already a rising star.

“Death Box,” a game that I had never seen before, was definitely one of the most unique and complex games of the night as it involved multiple players and multiple roles. In this game, four students (four pairs) rotated in a box.
Each pair was assigned either a relationship or a non-geographic location. The most entertaining pair by far was Ghosh and College junior Mike Green. Ghosh’s opening line, “This was the worst honeymoon idea ever,” immediately grasped the audience’s attention.

The setting was an igloo, and from being ice-stuck to each other to the petty bickerings of a married couple, the two played the perfect honeymooners.

Another great game was “Character Switch,” acted by College senior Josh Jacobs and Gillen. Switching between the dark and gloomy Ozzy Osborne and a jovial drummer was no easy feat, but Gillen and Jacobs managed flawlessly. Gillen began the sketch as Osborne, with Josh as the jovial drummer, a role perfect for his constantly smiling face. Osborne was the dark, negative leader, and the drummer was the happy-go-lucky, unsuspecting and faithful drummer.

The sketch quickly turned dark with Osborne threatening to kill the drummer. However, this also proved entertaining because the more the two switched roles, the harder it was for Gillen and Jacobs to figure out who was going to meet his demise.

The final sketch of the night was Rathskellar’s first-ever long-form: a short play. Though somewhat disjointed, the different acts were related by common themes. The overarching theme ended up being about various friends, lovers and strangers asking each other to prom, which rang true with the college audience as we many of us are familiar with that situation.

From the “friend zone” scene acted by Ghosh and Natalia to the “stranger in a well” conflict acted by Jacobs and College junior Rebecca Han, the audience could not stop laughing in mutual understanding.

Overall, the show was, as it always is, a great break from the stress of looming finals. It is important to remember to laugh and when you attend a Rathskellar show, they don’t have any trouble reminding you.

— By Annie McNutt, Staff Writer

By Amy Krivoshik
Contributing Writer

the-ghost-brideIn Chinese folklore, ghost marriages were thought to appease restless spirits. In a ghost marriage, a dead concubine could become a wife, or two lovers could be united after their deaths. And, in the most unusual types of ghost marriage, a living bride could wed the ghost of a deceased husband.

In her dually captivating and frightening 2013 novel, The Ghost Bride, debut author Yangsze Choo explores the rare and ancient practice of ghost marriages. The Ghost Bride’s vivid setting and persuasive voice envelop readers in mysteries that plague the living and the dead.

Set in 1893 in Malaya, The Ghost Bride is told in the unwavering voice of Li Lan, a young woman who is reluctantly drawn into the parallel world of the Chinese folkloric tradition. The story opens when Li Lan’s reclusive, opium-addicted father calls her into his study. He informs her that the prosperous Lim family has offered her the hand of their son, Lim Tian Ching. A marriage into the Lim family would provide Li Lan with wealth and high social status. But there is one additional detail: Lim Tian Ching died several months ago. The Lim family is asking her to become a ghost bride.

When the ghost of Lim Tian Ching begins to both haunt Li Lan’s waking hours and to appear in her dreams, The Ghost Bride quickly becomes an unsettling adventure. Li Lan accidentally enters the eerie, dreamlike world of ancient Malaysian folklore as she tries to evade, and understand, her Lim Tian Ching. And as Li Lan is drawn in to a parallel world of hungry ghosts and ox-headed demons, The Ghost Bride quickly escalates into a gripping, ghostly mystery.

Li Lan’s persuasive voice carries the story seamlessly between the world of the living and the world of the dead. In the ghostly shade of Malaya that Li Lan experiences, starving spirits have no real bodies to nourish, long shining golden threads connect people to the ones they love, burnt offerings materialize in the spirit world and corrupt border officials patrol the gates of hell.

The historic Malaya of 1893 slides in and out of focus as The Ghost Bride reveals an eerie depth to Li Lan’s city. The imperfect and unjust portrayal of the folkloric after world into which Li Lan journeys in The Ghost Bride is one of the most intriguing, and unsettling, aspects of the story.  The world of ghosts reflects the living world in its horrors. And the corruption that Li Lan witnesses in the afterlife of Malaysian folklore reflects the corruption and injustice that Li Lan finds in the living world. In this ghostly realm, it is still possible to die, to starve and to wither away. The horrors of the ghost world render Li Lan’s plight to return to her own world all the more urgent.

The characters that Li Lan encounters are similarly compelling and unnerving. Li Lan meets jealous Fan, a spirit lover who continues to feed off of her beloved’s qi, or life force. She meets Er Lang, a mysterious border official who refuses to take off his hat for fear that Li Lan would “never treat me the same way again.” And, finally, Li Lan searches for her mother, who died when she was an infant, and whose true identity Li Lan cannot be sure of.

“We don’t use names here,” a ghost tells Li Lan. “My grandchildren want to think that I’m enjoying the afterlife and I want to preserve that illusion.”

Li Lan’s chilling journey into the intricate illusions of the world of Chinese folklore renders The Ghost Bride a truly enthralling read.

– By Amy Krivoshik, Contributing Writer

Jason Charles
Staff Writer
Last week at Terminal West, Atlantian music lovers were treated to two generous sets of electronic indie-pop rock from acclaimed duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (DEJJ).
 
As I waited in line outside the venue, I could hear the electro-tinged Bon Iver-esque harmonies soaring through the doors and I panicked, thinking I had somehow misread the start time and missed the opener.
But as I walked inside and the stage came in view, I saw Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott on stage alone, without their band. After the first song concluded, they explained that Michael Shuman’s (Queens of the Stone Age) side project, Mini Mansions, was set to open the show but their bus had broke down earlier that day, meaning that they now had to open for themselves. The crowd roared with excitement because we knew we were in for a special treat.
 
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. formed as many great ideas do: in a basement. 
 
In 2009, Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott were both busy with their own musical endeavors in the Detroit indie scene. Epstein saw Zott perform, was impressed and decided to take a risk and give a complete stranger a call. The very next day, the two met in Zott’s basement and wrote “Simple Girl,” a folksy Beatles-like tune for the 21st century. The one track was all it took to convince both musicians to drop their respective projects and join forces.
 
The subdued opening set highlighted the duo’s individual raw talent and collective songwriting prowess. It was a rare opportunity to appreciate the stories behind the music and to hear each of them speak a bit about the music as well. They joked about the awkwardness of the situation of having to open for themselves. “You all must be thinking, ‘Wow Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has the most depressing opener,’” joked Zott. Epstein reminisced about his personal “musical low point” earlier in his career when he used to play cover gigs just to pay the bills. He explained that he was asked to sing the refrain of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” at a local bar and almost cried of embarrassment.
 
The duo concluded their impromptu opening set with a lovely, chill-inducing cover of The Beach Boys classic, “God Only Knows.”
 
After a quick break, DEJJ returned to the stage and immediately made light of the situation. “Hey that opener was pretty solid,” Epstein teased. But then it was right back to business.
 
The second set was a danceable, blissful escape into psych-retro pop heaven. Song after song, DEJJ delivered with resonant harmonies, elevated synths and infectious beats.
 
Their newest track, “James Dean,” was a haunting interruption from their high-energy shtick, offering a suspended, syncopated beat and electronically altered vocals. It’s the kind of track that you can’t help but hum to yourself as you leave the show.
 
The fact the DEJJ is not touring to support a new album allowed them to pull tracks at will from their catalog. Newer tracks like “Run” off of DEJJ’s 2013’s The Speed of Things followed the iconic 2011 single “Morning Thought” at will.
Towards the end of the set, DEJJ rallied the crowd and brought out their loudest, most danceable tracks. Zott hopped off stage and jumped with the crowd for one of my favorites, “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor).” As bubbles filled the air above us and Zott danced and sang alongside his fans, I could not help but feel anything but elated.
 
The Detroit natives helped shape a genre of music that is now saturated with thousands of copycats and wannabes. But with not one, but two incredible sets demonstrating their musical aptitude and showmanship, DEJJ demonstrated how they have helped to shape a world of merging and emerging genres. 
– By Jason Charles, Staff Writer

Cadillactica

By Josh Lehman
Contributing Writer

“I wanted to express that there’s a point in everybody’s life when you get older and can’t do the things that you used to do” professes Big K.R.I.T. to Spin magazine. Up-and-coming rapper Justin Scott, whose stage name is Big K.R.I.T., shows signs of maturation and offers a deviation from his usual sound. Sometimes change isn’t necessarily a negative thing, as exemplified by Big K.R.IT.’s sophomore studio album Cadillactica. The K.R.I.T. first heard on Wiz Khalifa’s Kush & Orange Juice mixtape almost five years ago has been left in the dust both sonically and lyrically by the K.R.I.T. on Cadillactica. Similar to his old projects, Scott still manages to win over listeners with his smooth Mississippi accent and impactful storytelling ability. The deluxe album contains 17 tracks and various striking features, including modern popular rappers Lupe Fiasco and Wiz Khalifa, West Coast legendary lyricist E-40, southern icon and UGK member Bun B, British rock artist Jamie N Commons and more.

Big K.R.I.T.’s unparalleled work ethic has not gone unnoticed in recent years. Since his debut with K.R.I.T. Wuz Here in 2010, Scott has grinded out six full major projects, which has established him as the face of progressive southern rap. One major difference of Cadillactica from his previous bodies of work is the production style. K.R.I.T.’s previous mixtapes were laced with various soul samples with the sound engineering of a studio album. An example is “Praying Man” off of Live from the Underground (2012), which samples a soul record of legend B.B. King. Cadillactica surprisingly deviates from this pattern with a plethora of creative, freshly composed beats. With delicate background samples out of the picture, there is room for a wider array of heavy bass lines and drums. The album was clearly made to be roaring from a low-rider with an accentuated bass-boosted sound system. The track off of Cadillactica with arguably the lowest bass levels, “My Sub, Pt. 3 (Big Bang),” lyrically illustrates the image of Scott riding around with two 15-inch subwoofers in his car.

Scott, who raps “Grew up on the country side of town, now I’m ballin’ under city lights,” a man coming from humble Meridian, Mississippi beginnings, is finally given the acknowledgement he deserves. Scott boldly labels himself as the best southern rapper with the track “King of the South,” a title widely recognized as belonging to Atlanta rapper T.I. The lyrics are boisterous, fast and a bit obnoxious over a simple and repetitive keyboard-based beat. For most, excessive bragging can be a major deterrent from appreciating rap music. Luckily, K.R.I.T. checks his boastful nature with appearances from older, respected rappers. Texas native lyricist Bun B is featured on hit track “Mo Better Cool,” which shows that Scott has not forgotten the major figures that had established southern rap culture. Another example of Scott respecting his elder rappers is in the catchy track “Mind Control.” The anthemic tune features veteran 46-year-old California rapper E-40, as well as popular Pittsburgh stoner mogul Wiz Khalifa.

Interestingly enough, my two favorite tracks from the album are the two bonus tracks from the deluxe edition. The first “Mt. Olympus (Reprise)” proclaims Scott’s indifference towards his critics while he angrily yet skillfully rides the angelic choral beat. A steady build of drums only further enhances the intense tone derived from K.R.I.T.’s savage and rapid verses.

“Mt. Olympus (Reprise)” adds Scott to a recent series of rappers who seem to be infatuated with the concept of divinity.  This trend was initiated by Kanye West’s “I Am A God,” and was reinforced by Eminem’s “Rap God.” “Mt. Olympus” accurately demonstrates Scott’s world-class rhyme sequences and abstract sense of rhythm.

The second bonus track on the deluxe album, “Lac Lac,” embodies another facet of Big K.R.I.T.’s southern charm. There is a steady bass line, a pleasant kick and clap rhythm and a peculiar southern twang in the synthesizer line. K.R.I.T.’s Mississippi accent shines as he talks openly in a sanguine tone about rolling around in an old school Cadillac low-rider. Scott interestingly decides to feature budding rapper ASAP Ferg on the track. Ferg recently has been experimenting with his flow and breath control, as observed on “Lac Lac.” The Harlem rapper matches Scott’s southern accent with an unrecognizable yet enthralling accent of his own. Because he speaks through the obstructive filter of complete gold grillz, Ferg’s brisk expressions are interpreted as somewhat indecipherable. At one point in the verse he recites the word “refrigerator” more closely to “furgedator.” Although it may be difficult to understand the individual words of the lyrics, the overall sonic vibe of the verse is nothing short of sublime.

Cadillactica is an admirable body of work that evokes an understanding of a culture revolving around dipping in low-riders, 40-ounce malt liquor and an aspiration for something more out of life. Through creative production techniques and relevant storytelling, Big K.R.I.T. successfully refines his already impressive resume with his second studio album. His deviation from heavy sampling techniques to make way for original composition has taken his career onto a favorable path. With a clear level of innovation at the forefront of Big K.R.I.T.’s objectives, a growing fan base waits in anticipation for what is to come next.

— By Josh Lehman, Contributing Writer

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