Victoria Pignatelli

Students’ reading habits deeply affected by start of new semester

BY VICTORIA PIGNATELLI
Entertainment Editor

For many, reading is a gateway to another, less stressful, world. Balancing time to read for class and time just to read for fun is difficult for most students.

“I’m a big supporter of reading, but when I’m in the full swing of a semester I just can’t focus on my own reading, “said visual arts student Emily Sullivan.

Students such as Sullivan have a difficult time finding the balance between required reading and their reading for pleasure because, according to some, there is just too much required reading for classes.

“If I try leisure reading, I tend to fall asleep no matter what I start,” said Ben Foerster, a biology major at CCM. “It isn’t the content, no, but the time I have to read for fun. I feel like I’ve read less since I started school this semester, more than ever in my life.”

There is a fine line of balance, and some students have fallen into habits that impact their school performance.

“One semester, I got caught up in a series of books so bad that I couldn’t put them down,” said Sullivan. “I read probably more than eight books in a three week period, and my grades went down. I had exams. Huge mistake.”

Reading, to some students, is extremely important. In some cases, required readings for school can be fun; most of the time these readings are not.

“Honestly, I have a hard time reading what I’m assigned,”said Kyle Ducote, a history major. “I find the class readings to be so boring, and uninspiring that I just don’t read them. I’d rather use my time better, and read other things, like novels that have meaning.”

Extracurricular reading is far from a ‘bad habit’ but, during a semester, it can prove to be detrimental.

“It’s my last semester here at CCM, and I can’t be bothered with my free reading,” said Kiera Simmons, English education major at CCM. “I’ve got so much for my courses that I can’t even look at my book shelves full of unread books. I’m so stressed out and tired from my class readings that my ‘to be read’ pile has been left entirely unread since January 22.”

Leisure reading during a busy semester is something that many college students just haven’t gotten the grasp of managing into their time yet.

If a student likes to read, then they should do it. It is simple enough, but some either choose to ignore it while the semester is going on or they ignore their other readings, and focus only on the entertainment.

 

Courting Controversy: 2016 Oscar awards

BY VICTORIA PIGNATELLI
Entertainment Editor

The  88th annual Academy Awards ceremony is set for Sunday, Feb. 28 and this year the ramp up for the ceremony has featured more than a look at the past year in film.

In addition to the celebration of supposed  best in film and art in Hollywood, this year’s ceremony is laced with controversy as some of Hollywood’s most luminous stars have taken to social media with race complaints. Leading the charge was Jada Pinkett-Smith, whose husband Will Smith was left off the ballot for his performance in “Concussion.”

Her remarks about the lack of diversity in the nominations ignited a firestorm of controversy with some calling for boycotts and others calling the situation overblown.

The Academy Awards ceremony is generally a topic of conversation in most circles. The movie industry itself makes billions of dollars which feeds into the global economy.  Most movie-goers are either avid movie buffs or simply those that use it as a means to a longer conversation, but either will watch the oscars.

In more recent years, the Academy has come under pressure for not being as diverse an institution as it could be. This year’s reaction has probably been boiling under the surface for some time, as evidence from the instantaneous negative reaction to this year’s nominees.

The host, Chris Rock,  has the responsibility of  balancing the event as a tradition, and the current situation throughout the evening’s festivities. Although Rock’s publicist has denied his directly changing parts of the monologue to reflect the current situation, according to the Hollywood Reporter, there is still some talk of the material reflecting the current, “#OscarsSoWhite” movement on the Internet, primarily on Twitter. Despite the controversy that is surrounding the annual event, the films up for awards each have their value as pieces of award worthy cinema.

 

“I’m only watching the Oscars this year to see what the celebrities will say and do about the obvious racism,” said County College of Morris student Natalie Cortez. “It’s time the Oscars change, I follow the hashtag on Twitter, and I never realized how bad they were in representation of other races.”  

This year’s ceremony has a lot to prove, as many more people may be viewing it than in prior years. Although celebrities like Pinkett Smith have called for a boycott of the ceremony, the negative press may just draw a larger audience out of curiosity.

Controversy aside, the nominees this year are decent films. Some are standouts among others that do not necessarily prove themselves to be in the same caliber. From “The Revenant,which looks like the frontrunner after the Screen Actor’s Guild awards, to a true shocker for Best Picture, “Mad Max: Fury Road, 2016 will prove to be a very dynamic year in Oscar nominated films. Each of the films for Best Picture is different in their own right. Of course, the academy  snubbed films like critics’ favorite, Carol” and “Steve Jobs,which many groups have cited a bias within the academy for.

“When I read the list for Best Picture, I was upset,” said CCM communication student, Hannah Thomas. “I loved ‘Carol’ and thought it really had a chance. I think the awards are going to be fun and elegant as always, but this year I feel like they’re going to be a little uncomfortable, given the situation.”

No matter how great this year’s nominees are, and the hope for Leonardo DiCaprio to finally get his award, there are tense feelings surrounding the ceremony. The controversy and racist accusations against the Academy have truly had an impact on public opinion of the awards.

“I don’t know if I really want to watch the Oscars this year,” film enthusiast and English student at CCM, Will Francik said. “I don’t want to give them views so maybe they’ll finally listen and award those who deserve it. I’ve seen every nominated film, and I just don’t get it. They weren’t great films. All had their flaws. The academy is stuffy and old; it definitely needs to change.”

Perhaps it is time for the Academy Awards to change. The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Issacs, has put several new rules in play for next year’s nominations. She, as president has been changing elements about the Academy since she became president in 2013, and now three years later, bigger changes have come.

Her Academy has been facing negative press since the nominations were released. No matter how much damage control and press junkets the Academy does in preparation for this year’s ceremony, the controversy will reign supreme in the thoughts of those watching and paying attention.

No matter how many predictions or thoughts the public has on the subject, they will be watching carefully for the reaction to the current situation with racism and diversity in Hollywood. It could prove to be one of the most interesting ceremonies of the last 88 years, possibly since Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to accept his award in 1973.

 

Grease lightning only strikes some

BY VICTORIA PIGNATELLI AND LAURA CALDERON
Entertainment Editors

On Sunday, Jan 31, nationwide audiences tuned into Fox Network’s live adaptation of the renowned film and Broadway production, “Grease.”

For the past three years, NBC has provided the general public with live televised musicals, beginning with 2013’s “Sound of Music.”

For those that did tune in, many were confounded when the Fox adaptation omitted some unforgettable moments that the 1978 cinema classic made audiences love.

The scope of the production was wide and ambitious, covering several detailed sets and incorporating a live audience. Although the production was large and flashy with style and finesse, it seemed to collapse under its own weight, having taken on such a legendary stage and screen play like “Grease.”

“I felt like they didn’t have the right attitude to play those legendary characters, like the original film cast did,” said Sarah Bumiller, a history education major at the County College of Morris. “I liked Aaron Tveit a lot, but he just wasn’t Danny Zuko.”

The production fell short of expectations held by viewers who had seen “Grease” previously. Some felt it was misleading and confusing due to the changes in story order and continuity within the new production. Songs and scenes were readjusted due to stage adaptation, and concerns over the length of the production as a whole.

“TV musicals are an abomination of the small screen,” said Gerald Neely, a history major at CCM. “Fox shouldn’t have their hands on anything; it usually ends up terrible.”

Between the singing, shoddy sound editing and shaky live camera, “Grease: Live!” suffered many pitfalls of its large cast and crew.

Several cast members playing the main characters (like Danny, Sandy and Rizzo) did have prior singing and acting experience, but because of the live element of the telecast, these experienced players seemed to have fallen short of expectations. Julianne Hough, a well known professional dancer, known from her “Dancing with the Stars” fame, actually fell during one of the most important dance numbers of the musical. Whether it was nerves or miscommunication with her partner, it certainly had an impact on that scene in particular.

Aside from mistakes, the ensemble as a whole seemed to be mismatched and lacking a certain charisma that other ensembles of “Grease” casts have had in the past. The live audience aspect was troubling to the setting, as many members of the audience were dressed in modern attire, throwing off the believability of the 1950’s setting.

“I love ‘Grease,’ and personally I feel that the modernization of the movie ruined the plot as a whole,” said Valerie Evans, a hospitality major at CCM. “Mario Lopez and Joe Jonas were great to see, but I thought their appearances took away from the show as a whole.”

Despite several disappointing moments in the live telecast, the event did have some redeeming parts. Didi Conn, the actress that originated the role of Frenchie in the 1978 film made a cameo role, which thrilled many viewers that knew her from the original film. Also, the inclusion of a few songs from the Broadway adaptation was a delight to some older audiences, as those songs have been largely forgotten about when “Grease” is thought of.

“I loved ‘Grease,’ I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I would,” said Kristen Urban, communications major at CCM. “I hope the networks make more musicals for television in years to come. They’ve been really great and only get better.”

 

Adult coloring books soothe students’ stress

BY VICTORIA PIGNATELLI
Entertainment Editor

Stress. It’s an ailment that many suffer from, and do not have an outlet to relieve it. Of course, there are stress balls that one can squeeze to relieve tension, there is an offer of counseling, and various other forms of relief. However, some afflicted persons either do not have the time or finances to invest in certain forms of stress relief. In more recent news, many adults and students have turned to a childhood pastime: coloring.

Coloring is gaining momentum as one of the top methods for stress relief and calming one’s self in the world. For many students, it offers an outlet to take a step back and simply focus on the colors in the space of a page.

“I use coloring books to zone out,” said Karlie Wertheimer, a mathematics student at the County College of Morris. “They’re my peaceful meditation in a busy, frenzy of a day. I don’t have to think about numbers, graphs or anything.”

In France, the United Kingdom and here in the United States, coloring for adults is growing as an art. Within the last year, there has been an exponential growth on coloring books being printed for the adult market.

Artists like Johanna Basford have stirred up a perfect storm in creating intricate designs for both young and old to fill in with color. Her designs have consistently sold out on Amazon and are bestsellers at Barnes & Noble. Basford’s works like “Enchanted Forest,” “Lost Ocean,” and “Secret Garden” have consistently outsold her competition in the newly lucrative market of more complicated coloring books.

There have been several studies conducted on the positive effects of coloring in terms of relieving stress, and calming the mind and body. Therapists have almost entirely agreed that coloring is an effective form of art therapy. In an article from Discovery News, psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala explains that coloring can lower the activity of stress hormones which can provide a calming effect on a person’s state of being. Stress is evolving to be a large problem in the average person’s life. Particularly in the life of a college student, stress is an issue that most students deal with on a daily basis.

Of course, coloring may seem like a strange idea to many people afflicted with stress, but, in actual practice many find it to be a calming and fun exercise to ease tensions from long and tiring days.

“My life is full of stress, and I can’t help but look for new ways to ease the tension I have every day,” says Baylee Shoenfeld, an English major at CCM. “I have a little box of my coloring supplies, and whenever I feel knots building up in my shoulders, I reach for my colored pencils, my books, and I’m on my way to a mindless afternoon.”

For college students like Shoenfeld, mindlessness and escape are important in terms of their ways to relieve stress.

“I’m obsessed with my coloring books, I’ve got Star Wars, Disney Princess; you name it, I’ve got it,” said Abby Robertson, coloring book enthusiast and History student at William Paterson University. “I need them, because between my job and classes I barely have a moment to breathe and just think about nothing. Coloring gives me the opportunity to relax, and just ease my mind for a while.”

College students are under more stress than ever. Coloring seems to be a widely spreading activity that promotes relaxation and and a sense of calmness. For a growing trend among stressed out individuals, coloring to relieve stress is a tried and praised activity, accessible for anybody with a colored pencil and paper.

Holiday films excite, and dazzle viewers this season

BY VICTORIA PIGNATELLI
Entertainment Editor

Snowflakes, red ribbons and the sentiment of joy seem to cover the period of time from the day after Halloween to Christmas. Autumn ceases to exist in the media’s eye, while winter swoops in and covers the American media landscape for the next two months. Every year, this holiday season creeps into stores and media outlets earlier and earlier.

From traditional holiday-themed commercials, and most broadcast sitcoms showing their holiday specials, the season spreads to any and all modes of media and communication. However, there is one form of media that the holiday seems to embrace, like a long lost old friend: film. Nearly everyone has a favorite holiday film. Of course, that is a generalization, but holiday films permeate further than popular culture. Some holiday films have become traditions to watch and are always shown during this time of the year.

To understand the popularity and permeability of these films, their history should be examined. Of course, “Its A Wonderful Life” is one of the classics. Since 1947, this film has been a holiday tradition for many families and individuals.

“I need to watch it every single year on Christmas Eve,” said avid film buff Kimberly Calvert “In my family, there hasn’t been a year that I can remember that we didn’t sit down together and watch the movie.” To many families, this film holds a special place as a solid classic.

Throughout the history of film, there have been holiday films during this time of year. According to an article on traditional holiday film,  from the earliest silent film beginnings, themes of holiday tidings and cheer have been featured in film. From the silent era on, holiday films have come out every year, right to this year’s “Meet the Coopers,” which is a typical holiday and family-themed film. The actors may change, and the screenplays might differ in the order in which they present the scenes, but for the most part these holiday movies tell the same stories year in and year out.  The holiday film is a vast genre that pushes together themes of joy and happiness in order to portray the image of a perfect, ideal holiday.

“Don’t get me wrong, I like holiday movies, but there aren’t enough movies about other holidays,” said Myra Patel, a radiology student at County College of Morris. “I love the warm and fuzzy feelings about the season, family and togetherness, but what about Kwanzaa? What about Hanukkah?” Patel’s voice is not alone in standing out among the sea of red, gold, Santa Claus and snowflakes.

Holiday movies as an entity are cliche, yes. When observing holiday-themed films over the last 10 years, it is plainly obvious that there is a lack of diversity in holidays portrayed. With Adam Sandler’s “Eight Crazy Nights” the public had the rare opportunity to see a Hanukkah-themed film released as a major theatrical event. Unfortunately, that film’s performance in the 2002 holiday season was abysmal, which probably made studio executives believe that other films about the holiday would not perform well.

On the flip side, there are those who believe that the holiday film genre is alive and well, producing beautifully crafted and wholesome films that project positive images for the holiday season.

“There is no mistake that when you watch a Christmas or holiday themed movie that you get a sort of warm and fuzzy feeling, said Tessa Cammarino, a student of history at CCM. “I know my family watches “Elf” together to get in the holiday mood, right after Thanksgiving,”

When it comes to holiday films, traditions and emotions take control and create a feeling of comfort for many different people. The holiday season comes with togetherness, family and the end of a year. It is a time of looking back, progressing and looking forward to a new future with a new year on the horizon.

As a genre, holiday films are a keystone in the filmic fabric. They encompass a time period, yet they each show its viewers a little piece of the values and important feelings of the era in which they were made. Holiday films are special, as they show a special time of the year for everyone on earth. No matter the religion or race, holiday films have the potential to create a sentiment of hope and joy in any of their viewers.