Entertainment

CCM parking lots drive students into a fervor

BY RACHEL GANGEL
Contributor

“It’s insane how long some students are willing to wait for a parking spot,” said Drew Mautz, a visual arts major at CCM.

The school has eight parking lots accessible for students, which should be enough for each student and faculty member. But when location preferences come into play, all the space in the world is not enough.

“It goes without saying that lot seven is the most popular,” Mautz said. “I personally refuse to even try and find a spot there since I know numerous people who try every day and they sit there for a while waiting for classes to end and students to give them their spots.”

Mautz usually tries for lots two or three, which often have available spaces.

Other students are not as willing to take a longer walk to avoid the wait in lot seven.

“I think waiting for the closest spot possible is worth it,” said Victoria Jones, a liberal arts major at CCM. “I hate walking from the far lots to the buildings for classes, I feel so exhausted by the time I reach my classroom. I refuse to park anywhere other than lot seven and will wait however long I have to in order to find a spot.”

Nighttime students have the advantage of using lot five, which is a faculty-only lot during the day.

“A majority of the classes that I take are night classes which begin at 6:30 p.m., meaning I can park in lot five because I park after 5:30 p.m.,” stated Giana Phillips, a liberal arts student taking a few courses at CCM. “I work full time so the night classes were my best option, and parking is super easy to find later at night. If I park in any other lot other than five, which isn’t often, I go to lot seven. The spots there are equal distance for me.”

Whether distance or hour of day determines the spot, CCM students feel strongly about their parking lots.

NBC’s ‘The Good Place’ revives the intelligent network comedy

BY STEVEN HERNANDEZ
Contributor

Intelligent TV has become commonplace. Cable networks like AMC and HBO are turning out long-form stories now (Breaking Bad, The Sopranos) that are better than most films, and that is to say nothing about the quality behemoth of Netflix, with recent addition A Series of Unfortunate Events wowing critics.

However, these well-financed cable networks are leaving basic cable networks like NBC in the dust. Sure, NBC had 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, but the intelligent, hilarious minds of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have left a hole filled by sick star vehicles like Kevin Can Wait and pseudo-intellectual, mind-numbing, trite chuckle pieces like The Big Bang Theory.

So imagine my surprise at the depth created by Michael Schur’s (The Office and Parks and Recreation veteran) new NBC show The Good Place. Instantly establishing a lore of heaven that is both inoffensive to salient religions, and based on utilitarian principles of morality, The Good Place is set in The Good Place, where only the spectacularly moral are allowed access to the afterlife. Now imagine again what would happen if you placed an accident in heaven. Due to a clerical error, Eleanor Shellstrop (played by Kristen Bell), an all-around “bad person,” has been placed in The Good Place, while the woman who shares her name (who spent her life saving sick children in Africa) is condemned to The Bad Place. Top it all off with a soulmate who spent his life as a philosophy professor of ethics, and the maelstrom of transcendent consequences due to a “bad” person being in The “good” place, and we have a potential masterpiece for character development in a conceptually boring, perfect land.

The cast is led by the aforementioned Kristen Bell with Ted Danson playing the angelic/creator role of Michael. Newcomer William Jackson Harper plays Eleanor’s soulmate, Chidi Anagonye, and is a welcome addition to an already talent-addled cast. His moral deliberations are refreshing in a world of supposedly objective, but alternative facts.

The seeds are lain for truly spectacular character development in The Good Place with Lost-esque expository flashback scenes interwoven between the current events unfolding in each episode, and what’s even better, it’s actually funny. Poking fun at the esoteric and incomprehensible nature of philosophy in Chidi’s ethical manuscript, the upbeat but emotionless omnipotence of The Good Place guide and assistant, Janet (played by D’Arcy Carden, another spectacular fresh face), and the pretentiousness of Eleanor’s next door neighbor, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) all left me with more than a smile on my face.

The Good Place convinces me that fresh ideas can still be broadcast on broadcast networks, and that intelligence is being catered to in the realm of television. It will make you smarter, and it might even make you a better person.

CCM softball team work to build off past success

BY BRETT FRIEDENSOHN
News Editor

The softball team at County College of Morris has begun practicing for its 2017 regular season which it will open Sunday, March 5 against Rowan College at Gloucester County.

The Titans look to repeat their region title victory after winning the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX Championship May 6, 2016.

Softball head coach Greg Wardlow said that a lack of pitching depth may hinder his team.

During the fall preseason, the team had three pitchers, two of whom have since announced that they cannot play this season because of injuries. Since then, the coaches have been working to find players who have had some experience pitching and train them so that they can pitch behind starter Mary Mastriani. These backups consist of infielder Carly McDaniel, outfielder Taylor Van Sant, second baseman Kellyann McClain who pitched one inning for CCM last season, and Vincenza Megone who pitched for Bloomfield High School until her graduation in 2015 and played for CCM in the fall 2015 preseason but not the spring 2016 regular season.

Despite this, Wardlow said that this season’s team is akin to last year’s.

“Other than the pitching depth issue, I think our team is comparable to last year,” Wardlow said. “And we’re always optimistic. Maybe we’re a bit better … I think our overall defense is shaping up to be a little bit better than last year. I think our team speed is definitely a little bit better.”

Wardlow expressed confidence in Mastriani as the starting pitcher. Mastriani pitched in 2016 with a record of 22-6, and was named by international softball news agency Fastpitch News as an NJCAA Division II All-American for the fall 2016 preseason, along with four other pitchers nationally.

“She was one of the principal reasons why we won the regional championship,” Wardlow said. “And she’s back and continues to give us optimism, but our pitching depth behind that took a bit of a hit, so right now, we have quantity, not sure of the quality in our second and third pitchers, but we’re working on that … They’re not as experienced as the two pitchers we lost, but we’re still optimistic that with Mary leading the way, when we get to the big games, we’ll still be okay.”

Magone said that she was adjusting back into the pitching role.

“I feel confident,” Magone said. “It’s fine. I did it all my life, so it’s just like muscle memory.”

Softball assistant coach John Baccolini has focused in on training the backup pitchers this season.

“They’re all well-quality athletes,” Baccolini said. “We start off with fastball and changeup first, and then, we’ve been doing mostly that in late December and January, and then, as we move into the middle of February, we’ll start working on their breaking pitches.”

Starbucks: The Price You Pay

Students and faculty weigh in on the monetary indulgence of their Starbucks drinks

By Erin Post
Contributor

The benefits of having a chain coffee store located in the Learning Resource Center at County College of Morris may be offset by its prices.

The prices at the LRC Café, which serves Starbucks drinks, versus an actual Starbucks chain store, do vary. One of the most popular drinks — a White Chocolate Mocha — is $3.75 for a Tall at the Morristown Starbucks chain store location, whereas it is $3.99 at CCM.

Because of the Starbucks prices on the CCM campus, some students did have to rationalize buying multiple Starbucks drinks on campus. “It is a little expensive and I have to ration it over the semester. I would pay more if I had to,” said Tarra Frawley, a non-matriculated student at CCM. “The fancier stuff could be cheaper. The thing that bothers me the most is that you can’t use gift cards.”

Other students shared the same opinions as Frawley and did not seem to mind the prices of their drinks, such as Jacinta Courter, an interior design major at CCM. “My drink was okay – good not great. I thought it was tasty, so I was okay paying $3.99 for it,” Courter said. “I wish it was free, but I know that wouldn’t happen.”  

While some enjoy the deliciousness of a Starbucks beverage, others prefer a different brand altogether. Professor David Pallant, a communication professor at CCM, said, “I normally go to Dunkin. I like their prices better.” When asked if he would pay more for his drinks, he said, “Absolutely no!”

College students cannot be separated from their coffee, and that is increasingly true. According to a 2014 study by the NPD Group, a national organization that tracks trends in eating and drinking habits, from 2002 to 2012, there was an increase by 14 percent of 18 to 24 year olds drinking coffee.  

It could be that college students are willing to pay more for their Starbucks because of their beloved caffeine boosts.  The NPD Group reported that this age segment is turning to coffee as their pick-me-up of choice.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, reports that a 16-ounce Grande at Starbucks contains 330 mg of caffeine.   

All in all, the prices for Starbucks drinks may not be a problem for many college students, as long as they get their caffeine fix.

Partnership provides study abroad opportunities at CCM

BY AMANDA ALLER
Managing Editor

While movies of our youth showed Hilary Duff and the Olsen twins racing through Europe on their overseas excursions, students at the County College of Morris can mix that excitement with college credits through a study abroad partnership with the College Consortium for International Students (CCIS).

The consortium partners with a range of different schools, from large universities and state institutions to other smaller community colleges, including CCM.

As a CCM student, you get to travel with a slight discount and you also receive a credit transfer, which is arranged for you before you venture off to your temporary home abroad.

“If you’re a non CCIS member you can still apply to a CCIS program but you won’t get the discount,” said James Hart, chairperson of intercultural communications at CCM. “It would be like if you were a visiting student at a school. So you’d have to request a transcript which would then be sent to your home school. Here at CCM, all of that is already pre arranged so that we can make it as easy as possible.”

The prices range from as little as 4,000 dollars to as much as 20,000 dollars. The price depends on whether you’re going for a whole semester or for a couple of weeks in the summer. Some of the institutions offer summer programs, which are typically less expensive than the longer semester programs.

“I picked a major and then a place that made sense for that major,” said Sabrina O’Toole, marine biology major at CCM. “When I went to Hawaii, I had a scuba diving class so I was getting hands on experience.”

Summer programs are usually as short as two to three weeks and as long as six weeks. They’re similar to CCM’s summer classes, which are broken down into five week mini-semesters. Whatever class you take during the mini-semester counts as a regular class, just a condensed version. When someone goes abroad, there is always an academic component, though it may be as little as a three-credit class.

Kelly Guapacho, CCM alumna, fondly reminisced about the time she spent at the Lorenzo De Medici Institute in Florence, Italy. She stayed in a hostel while she was there and didn’t meet her room mate until move in day. She said her only regret was taking too many classes but that she spent her weekends traveling as much as she could.

“I recommend it to anyone seeking adventure” Guapacho said. “It was enlightening. Spiritual. It was everything all at once. It was amazing.”

According to Hart, CCM chose to partner with CCIS because they offer a wide variety of study locations.  There are 26 countries available for travel, some with as many as five programs.

“I thought the application process was going to be a lot harder than it was,” said Julia Ryan, communication major at CCM. “I had to write a reflective essay on why I wanted to go to England and fill out a request for transcript form, which altogether, only took me an hour to finish.”

“There are so many advantages of studying abroad,” Hart said. “It increases your intercultural sensitivity and creates important communication skills which can apply to people within your own culture. It teaches you how to make yourself understood along with how to connect with someone who you don’t have a lot in common with.”

TBS’ ‘People of Earth’ engaging, layered comedy

BY NICHOLAS SISTI 
Entertainment Editor

Hot off the heels of last season’s absurdly brilliant critical and commercial success Angie Tribeca, the TBS mid-fall lineup may have found a worthy replacement in People of Earth. Created by David Jenkins with executive producers Conan O’Brien and acclaimed screenwriter Greg Daniels, it cultivates a cool blend of jokes and intrigue.

The series follows the journey of Ozzie Graham, played by Wyatt Cenac, a journalist who is tasked to pen a story on an alien abductee (they prefer the term “experiencers”) support group in Beacon, NY. Ozzie is initially highly skeptical of the authenticity of the delightfully quirky group members’ differing reports on their experiences. However, he soon finds himself pelted day and night with disjointed, constantly changing visions of him hitting a deer with his car on the way to Beacon that don’t quite seem to add up. Couple this with constant hallucinations of a talking deer, and he decides to join the group himself to figure out the truth about what’s been happening to him.

Group member Gerry, played by Luka Jones, takes a particular liking to Ozzie, and agrees with his sentiment that the group should shift to a more investigative approach. The group clearly has some interpersonal communication issues (the yelling matches reach obscenely hilarious territory), and Ozzie’s relatively stubborn yet constructive personality helps to  keep them grounded. Under Ozzie’s wing, the group now has a mission: to understand why and how these experiences occurred, not just mope about them once a week.

Many members of the group recount wildly different “experiences”. Some swear that they were encountered by reptilians. Others insist that they were taken aboard a ship by grey aliens. Two of the women assert that they were seduced by a man with long hair who “looked like Ryan Gosling.” The show manages to explain these varying reports by revealing that they are all in fact true, as the alien ship which they are being taken to houses a reptilian, a grey, and a long-haired man who slightly resembles Ryan Gosling. It’s a unique, Cabin in the Woods-esque way of potentially explaining the stark variations of extraterrestrial encounter reports. Soon we find that the aliens are a laughingly dysfunctional trio, and it’s certainly an interesting juxtaposition to witness their flawed interactions in contrast to the group.

Given its supernatural aura with comedic aspects peppered throughout the dialogue and situations, more than a few comparisons can be drawn to that other high-concept comedy this season, NBC’s The Good Place. Though People of Earth doesn’t hold the same level of star power as Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, it does a remarkable job of resonating a genuine sense of curiosity with the viewer whilst not taking itself too seriously.

People of Earth airs on Mondays at 9pm on TBS.

Game of Thrones denied crown

BY SAMUEL GUGLIELMO
Contributor

“Game of Thrones” (GoT) has been one of those franchises that gamers have been hoping Telltale would get their hands on for a long time. Announced at the same time as “Tales From the Borderlands,” GoT is the game that many people hoped would be Telltale’s finest hour. Instead, it’s one of their biggest disappointments.

GoT follows the story of five different members of House Forrester. After having the bad luck of showing up to the Red Wedding, the lord of House Forrester is killed and the house is thrown into turmoil. Worse, the nearby House Whitehill is stepping up aggression on House Forrester in an effort to take their land and their ironwood trees. Alliances are made, people are stabbed, politics and trade happen, and a war begins.

While there are five playable characters, they all don’t really get a fair shake. By far the most interesting of the bunch is Asher Forrester: the exiled second-born son. Having become a sell-sword in Essos, Asher is called home and is asked to bring a group of sell-swords with him to assist. Watching him attempt to act serious when he knows his family needs him but still clashing with his old life style is an interesting dynamic. On the other end of the spectrum is Gared Tuttle, the squire to Lord Forrester. Gared is sent to The Wall after killing a man, where he is asked to find the mysterious North Grove that Lord Forrester spoke of before he died. He then promptly spends five episodes wandering around doing nothing before finding the poorly explained North Grove that seems to serve no purpose. Gared’s entire arc can basically be removed from the game with no consequences.

The other three characters are hit and miss. Ethan and Rodrick Forrester basically do the same thing: keep House Forrester running during the war. During the first three episodes this means a bunch of scenes that are very similar and involve either defying or playing nice with House Whitehill. The latter three episodes sees things becoming far more interesting, as they must actually make difficult decisions on who to trust, who to side with, and what to do with House Whitehill. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Mira Forrester, who resides in King’s Landing to earn political favors. The first three episodes sees her making tough choices on who to bribe and blackmail, while the latter three episodes put her in a similar situation to Gared: not doing anything plot relevant and stuck wandering around somewhere not interesting anymore.

Thrones’ plot has some other major issues as well. It feels like it takes forever to get anywhere, with many scenes and even entire episodes feeling like they’re just filler. Characters from the TV show have a few appearances, all voiced by their actors even, but it’s strange how they’re handled. Some of them may as well not be in the game, Jon Snow is only there to remind you this is GoT and doesn’t really have a point in the plot. Ramsay Snow plays such an important part in the first episode and yet anyone who watches the show knows nothing is going to happen to him.

GoT also suffers from being an ugly game, graphically, artistically, and technically. The game suffers from a weird blur effect. The idea is that it makes the backgrounds look like an oil painting, yet in practice it makes the whole game look like it’s underwater. Characters get blurry and wavy for no real reason, and anytime the camera moves it gets really distracting. Artistically, the game has Telltale’s signature art-style where everyone has big eyes and slightly over-exaggerated expressions, which doesn’t quite fit . Worse, though, is the characters taken from the TV show who have realistic faces and expressions. They look like they’ve been lifted from an entirely different game, especially when they’re near one of the original characters.

There’s also various technical issues, mostly related to the audio. The worst was when music or sound effects would just not play: a late game encounter with a polar bear felt significantly less dramatic when it played a roaring animation that wasn’t accompanied by any roars. Horseback chases and sword fights never carried the dramatic oomph they should have when there was no sound to accompany them. Characters would randomly have their sentences cut off, or music would skip or stop. It’s a shame that all of this drags the game down.

There’s nothing different here that you wouldn’t see in any other Telltale game. Gameplay mostly consists of making dialogue choices and responding to quick time events so you don’t get killed. Sometimes a puzzle or two gets thrown in, though never anything more difficult than matching up some basic symbols to a map. Sometimes I got to walk around and explore a little bit, which is good for world building but never really meant much else.

Quicktime events are common in GoT, considering how often fighting breaks out. It’s the same usual Telltale stuff: sometimes you need to hit a button, sometimes you need to push an analogue stick in a certain direction, and sometimes you need to highlight something and hit a trigger. In both the first and last episode I had problems with the game failing to register button presses, yet in the end all that happens when I failed the QTE was that my character died, I got a game over, and then I restarted right where I died. Makes me wonder what the point even is.

“Game of Thrones” fails in many aspects, and that’s a shame. It’s one of those IP’s that you just know Telltale could make something great from, but instead we get a game that feels like Telltale did the bare minimum to get it out the door. A few interesting storylines can’t save a plot that dawdles, can’t excuse the mess of technical issues, and can’t make up for the reused gameplay formula.