The magic of live performance

By ALLISON GUY

Staff Writer

OPINION – There is nothing quite like going to see a live performance.

The performers—whether singers, actors, dancers, or some other type of entertainers—are physically in front of you, sharing the same space.

You become a part of the crowd, getting lost in its energy. You hear the performers respond to the audience with ad-libbed comments, which are sometimes sentimental, sometimes humorous, and almost always entertaining.

As the show plays out before your eyes, there are no spoiler alerts. Each moment is new and thrilling.

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  Fulton Hall’s Black Box Theatre is where many live performances are held every semester that are open to students and the public.  Photo credit: Allison Guy

And when the event is over, you are left with the memory—which is hopefully a good one—and this memory comes to mind whenever you see or hear something that reminds you of the performance.

In the case of concerts, when you hear the recorded version of a song that was played live at the concert, you cannot help but think about the live performance.

You cannot get any of that if you stay at home and watch Netflix, or even if you go to the movie theater to see the latest blockbuster.

While both recorded and live performances have their merits, there is something special about going out to see a live performance. Performances are shared experiences, shared only by the people who attended or performed at the event.

There’s a sense of exclusivity about a live performance, like it is a secret that you and only a select group of people share.

With the internet, people (often illegally) record performances and post them on YouTube, opening up more people to the partial experience of the performance, but it is not quite the same as physically being in the same space as the performers.

Maybe this unique sense stems from the fact that live performances are not something you can go back and experience again after they have ended. Sure, you can watch a video that you recorded on your phone during a concert, but there is no way that you are going to have the experience of being at that concert again.

This is in contrast to TV shows and movies, which you can watch—and experience exactly the same way—over and over again.

Performances can also provide an escape for people, causing them to temporarily forget about their personal troubles or circumstances.

For me, going out to see a live performance is exciting; it is something that I do not get to do every day. When I watch a performance, I let myself become immersed in it. The stresses of college and young adult life leave my mind. This sense of an escape from reality is part of what gives live performances their appeal.

Live performances are not only rewarding for audience members, but also entertainers.

“I love telling a story,” says Theatre major Jake Thereault. “I love being able to share cool stories with other people, and… theatre is the way to do that. There’s just something different about being in the same space as the performers and as the actors. You can feel the energy in the room.”

The energy that Jake spoke of is unique to live performances, once-in-a-lifetime events that will never come again.

Take that, Netflix.

Trump’s America: A Year in Review

By ETHAN WILT

Staff Writer

OPINION – It has been just over one year since the election of Donald J. Trump and the commencement of the wild ride America has been on since.

If there is one word to describe the atmosphere of the past year, it would be chaos. The country appears as if it has been flipped on its head. No matter how much people try to act like everything is normal, it is not.

The past year has been filled with investigations, confusing foreign policy, controversy, and low approval ratings. This period will go down as one of the most chaotic times in American political history.

On election night, in his victory speech, Trump pledged, “I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me”. Yet since the election, he has stoked division, almost daily on his Twitter account. Not one to hold back, he has attacked both Democrats and Republicans, merely for disagreeing with him.

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President Donald Trump giving one of the first executive orders of his presidency (picture from CNN.com).

The multiple investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and whether anyone, especially from the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, has consumed the administration. Each story that drops is a bombshell that appears to catch the administration off-guard and send it reeling.

With the firing of the FBI Director, James Comey, Trump not only intensified the investigations, but expanded them as well, by forcing the Justice Department to appoint a Special Council to conduct the investigation.

For all the talk of unity, division is what has been witnessed most often. Following the protests and violent attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, the President set himself apart from the rest of the country by refusing to specifically condemn white nationalists at the rally.

While the president is frustrated that his agenda is not getting through congress, division is not the solution.

The Republican Party has become so factionalized and members are finding it difficult to accomplish anything. The party controls both houses of Congress, as well as The White House, yet has struggled to pass any meaningful legislation from their agenda.

Over the summer, the task of repealing and replacing Obamacare stalled, and then gained steam, and then stalled again. Republicans have been swept into office since 2012, at both the federal level, as well as state and local governments.

When actually confronted with replacing the act, division set in. Moderates within the party did not want to fully dismantle the law, while hard line conservatives looked for a full repeal and a streamlined bill that would hand much of the power, funding, and decision making to the states.

These divisions proved too much to handle for the party leadership, as they failed to reconcile differences between their members, with bills either being too moderate, or too conservative.

With all of the problems existing within the Republican Party, the Democratic Party is in its own period of chaos. Members of the Obama/Clinton wing of the party are clashing with the Sanders wing, which is moving further and further left, risking the party’s viability in elections.

Since Hillary Clinton’s loss last November, the finger pointing began and has continued. Clinton herself released a book, detailing why she believes she lost. Acquaintances of Clinton, party leadership, and political pundits alike have all given their reasons for her loss as well.

Scandals within the party have only further divided the party. Bernie Sanders supporters had their worst suspicions validated with the release of emails detailing that the party preferred Clinton, and never fully gave Sanders the chance.

Up until Virginia elections a week ago, they had failed to win any of the special elections across the country. Even with the President’s approval ratings historically low, they lack a platform to run on, and it shows. In order to win elections they have to be more than anti-Trump and actually offer something.

Increasingly playing a role in divisions, the cable media plays to the worst of people of each party with Fox News on the right, and CNN and MSNBC on the left.

Each one has commentators that further push the opinions and policies of each party further and further from each other. What was once simply a disagreement now makes the other “crazy” or “insane”.

It seems as if there is no room for moderates in American government or society anymore for divisions are growing deeper and the reasons why are increasing.

It is important to remember that these issues did not arise with the candidacy and election of Donald Trump and have been brewing for years before. However the election of President Trump has intensified this climate.

These issues will not go away once he is out of office either, and it will take years, likely even decades of hard work to create an American that is amicable once again.

Disasters like hurricane Harvey this summer show that America can still unite when challenged. They show our potential, one that is not being seen often.

This year has been full of chaos, and it is difficult to remain optimistic after everything that has happened. Things will get better, but when this will happen is anyone’s guess.

“Stranger Things” is 2 for 2

By JOHN EICHER

Staff Writer

The sophomore season of “Stranger Things” fails to create new ground or defy audience expectations with its plot, but remains lovable due to its characters. While the plot remains stagnant, the show manages to stay afloat off the backs of its excellent cast.

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Photo from Dan of Geek.com

The series has always prioritized its characters over its plot and the intrigue of the show has never lied within its mystery, but rather how the mystery affects the citizens of Hawkins.

 

From the first episode, the ensemble cast that the first season spent so much time bringing together is separated yet again and everything has been set back to square one, ignoring much of the ground work laid out by its predecessor.

Will is a prisoner to the “upside down”, Nancy and Jonathan are caught in a love triangle, and Winona Ryder is back to renovating a house for crazy people.

While most sequels in the science fiction genre focus on expanding the world that has already been established, “Stranger Things 2” retraces its origins to retell the same story.

By the end of the second season, nothing much has really changed. The mysteries of Hawkins remain unsolved, and little is learned about the “upside down” or where it came from.

The group of boys are just as entertaining as before, and the introduction of Sadie Sink as Max is a welcome new addition given her hilarious skepticism to everything weird about Hawkins.

The introduction of Sean Astin as Bob also adds a refreshing level of optimism, but his inclusion is starkly undercut by the predictability of his character’s arc.

Although the returning characters are not given much action, the group dynamics are rearranged to create fresh and interesting relationships.

The definitive standout is the monster hunt between Dustin and Steve. Given his two dimensional role as a bully in the previous season, it is hilarious and heartwarming to see Steve as mentor to Dustin. The friendship between the two is unexpected, yet genuinely believable given their similar romantic struggles.

The newly formed father-daughter relationship between Hopper and Eleven also keep the show from going stale by creating a much needed original conflict. Both characters are survivors of trauma, creating levels of insecurity that put a strain on their dynamic.

Hopper is overprotective because he lost his daughter, and worries that Eleven will receive the same fate.  Eleven was raised as an experiment, and just wants to live a normal life that is free from hiding. Both of their issues are rooted in understandable pain, creating an authentic tension that feels natural and engaging.

The plot might be a meandering repetition of the original story, but the characters make “Stranger Things 2” worth watching based off performance alone. The stakes may remain the same, but the scenes lose their tension because the audience cares about the characters so much.

As the show enters the third act, there is a genuine excitement to see everyone come together yet again, and the ending is satisfying enough to warrant the need for a third season.

If the second season is just a repainting of the original series, its a pretty one at that. Some rides are so fun, they just have to be experienced twice, making “Stranger Things 2” an enjoyable sequel worth binging.

The Flyer gives “Stranger Things 2” an 8 out of 10

The Praxis Core test and why it still matters

By ALLISON GUY

Staff Writer

OPINION— Along with creating lesson plans and making sure they get enough hours at their school placement, many education majors are conscious of the Praxis Core. This necessary evil is meant to ensure that teacher candidates are ready to educate children for the future.

In most states, if a teacher wants to get certified to teach elementary content, history, secondary education, special education and more, they must be proficient in this test.

While there are additional Praxis tests required for certain content areas such as world languages, all education majors must be evaluated in mathematics, writing and reading through a standardized format.

There is a growing argument that this standardized testing is not necessary for all teachers. Some would say that a physical education teacher does not need to know concepts of math to be successful at their job.

Math, reading and writing skills all come in to play during a teacher’s daily routine, though sometimes indirectly.

For example, if a teacher is writing on a classroom board, they need to ensure that they are using proper grammar and spelling. In turn, their students will then most likely use proper grammar and spelling as well.

“A teacher needs to have these basic skills mastered, because these are important foundations that we as educators need to pass on to the future,” says Megan Lynch, a Praxis Core tutor for the Center for Student Achievement at Salisbury University. “Every teacher candidate must ask themselves ‘would I want my child to be taught by a person who does not know reading, math, and writing?’ ”

Students, especially elementary school students, learn copious amounts of information from their teachers. It is vital that their teachers are able to provide them with basic knowledge that they will use for the rest of their lives.

According to a 2016 survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 70.2 percent of employers surveyed said they look for written communication skills on recent college graduates’ resumes, while 68.9 percent said the same for verbal communication skills.

Both written and verbal communication skills are learned through reading and writing.

Also, 70.2 percent of employers and 62.7 percent of employers said they look for problem solving skills, and analytical and quantitative abilities on recent college graduates’ resumes.

Mathematics can help students develop problem solving skills, especially analytical and quantitative skills. This proves that reading, writing and mathematics are important for students to have not only while they are in school, but also to help them get hired later in life.

What is most important is that the Praxis Core test evaluates reading, writing and mathematics skills. Teachers in every subject area use the concepts covered in the Praxis Core in teaching and everyday life.

Although it is expensive, the test helps education students prepare for their future careers as successful teachers.

The great melting of Greenland’s glaciers

By LILY BAZIS

Staff Writer

OPINION — The health of our planet is often something people take for granted.

Very few stop to think about the consequences their daily actions have on the Earth. Global warming deniers and some politicians refuse to acknowledge that the human race is slowly destroying the planet.

Global warming is not new to the public, as it has been reported on for years. Yet, it is

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As sea levels continue to rise as the glaciers of Greenland are slowly melting away. Source: NASA caption

still neglected by way too many people. Even the most concrete evidence given by dedicated and experienced scientists has not swayed much of the public.

If more people were convinced of the issue, perhaps there would not be such an increase in global warming as we are seeing today. One problem being reported by media is the melting of glaciers.

Recently, the glaciers of Greenland happen to be the topic of conversation on NASA’s Global Climate Change website. An article published on Nov. 1. confirms that “New maps of Greenland’s coastal seafloor and bedrock beneath its massive ice sheet show that two to four times as many coastal glaciers are at risk of accelerated melting as previously thought.”

Together, researchers at NASA, the University of California, Irvine and 30 other institutions have presented what they believe is the most comprehensive and accurate map of Greenland’s bedrock and coastal seafloor. Using this information, they have concluded that the damage to the glaciers is much worse than they had previously thought. This further proves the detrimental effects global warming can have on the planet.

“These results suggest that Greenland’s ice is more threatened by changing climate than we had anticipated,” said John Willis, the Principal Investigator of NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland mission.

Known as the “great melt” in Science Magazine, Greenland’s accelerating surface melt has doubled the sea level rise from 1992-2011, to .74mm per year.

This finding has left many scientists baffled, including geophysicist Isabella Velicogna of the University of California, Irvine.

“Nobody expected the ice sheet to lose so much mass so quickly, things are happening a lot faster than we expected,” Velicogna said.

It is quite alarming to learn that so many scientists are astounded by the results they are encountering, and concerning in terms of what this means for the future of our planet. Earth is our home, and it should be treated with respect. Instead, Earth is falling victim to the horrible effects of global warming, a slow but definite killer.

It is important to acknowledge that global warming is indeed happening, and will be impacting people in the future. The quicker we realize this, the sooner we can get to work on a possible solution. Of course there is no easy fix, but there are definitely ways to prevent problems like these in the future. Hopefully we can help save the Earth one step at a time.

Put your phone away

By DREW LACOUTURE

Editorial Editor 

OPINION— They cause car accidents, they can damage people’s vision and they make outings with love ones a waste of time.

Many people, and in particular millennials, are constantly being told by their parents and the media that they are using their phones too much.

This is definitely true, yet most people cannot function without their phones for more than a day. At the same time, if you are in a public place to eat or socialize, a phone should not be needed in most cases.

When people are at restaurants or at the dinner table, they use a device instead of talking to the person they are with.

They might be checking their social media accounts, emailing for work or looking at it to ignore the other person.

What should be a fun one on one outing inevitably ends up turning into a silent, awkward and objectively cringe worthy event to watch.

This is occurring with husbands and wives, mother and daughters, children, grandparents and best friends.

This is not just a problem for younger generations. A study in Today found that “54 percent of kids think their parents check their devices too often.”

While this may seem like a small habit avid phone users have, they cannot distinguish phone time from alone or social time with friends and family.

However, cell phones have an even stronger effect then people know.

In the journal titled Psychology of Popular Media Culture, a study was conducted on several hundred college students. It examined their dependency on their smartphone, and their relationship status.

It was found that people who were more dependent on their smartphones reported being less certain about their partnerships.

There are countless articles and studies that say cell phones are destroying family life. Just keeping the cell phones turned off during dinner can make a huge difference.

If there is tension at the dinner table, or the person whose cell phone is out of sight is unwilling to talk, it is still better to keep the phone away and attempt to spark a conversation.

There are a few exceptions to this.

If someone is checking Snapchat stories while also holding a solid conversation, their phone can stay out, although not for the entire outing.

Furthermore, it is totally acceptable for someone to show some baby pictures, check the time or quickly text someone back.

Whether it is a first date or a reunion of old friends, people need to communicate with their loved ones before these bad cell phone habits develop.

Cell phones are a necessary part of American lives, for both leisure and career endeavors. Yet when you decided to spend time with someone, the phone notifications can wait.

Kelly Clarkson shows her fans the “Meaning of Life

By CHARLES FERN 

Staff Writer  

OPINION— Kelly Clarkson has been a major pop star for 15 years and she just released what she has called the album she always wanted to make.  

While it may not be her best work, “Meaning of Life” does deliver some good tunes that will please old and new fans.  

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Photo via BreatheHeavy.com 

The word soulful has been used many times to describe this album. While this does have some truth to it, there are still many elements of the pop rock style Clarkson is known for.                  

The lead single “Love So Soft” summarizes the album quite well. It has soul-like instrumentation and vocals, but still has a pop hook. The simultaneous feeling of old and new is welcome, but it does not evoke classic soul music as much as she probably wants it to.                                 

 

Some better examples of soul are provided with “Heat” and “Medicine.” These songs are raucous and catchy, with call-and-response background vocals and funky production dominating both songs.

Clarkson sounds like she is a having a ball on these songs, which makes them a joy to listen to. 

The album’s highlight is “Whole Lotta Woman.” This track talks about how Texas women do things. The lyrics to this track are humorous, containing references to pots full of grits and warm biscuits on a Sunday morning.  

Clarkson’s vocal displays the classic confidence mentioned in the lyrics. The track also features members of the band Earth, Wind, and Fire, which is icing on the cake. 

She also delivers some strong ballads on the album. The highlight of these is “Move You,” which has beautiful lyrics, a tender vocal from Clarkson, and even a gospel choir. The choir is not overpowering, but the song is still effective. 

Other standout tracks include the sultry “Slow Dance” and the album closer “Go High.” Both of these tracks have different intentions, but they show the versatility of Clarkson’s voice.  

Clarkson’s voice is just as powerful as ever and while she does not jump octaves as often as Christina Aguilera, there is no denying that she can convey just about any song she desires.  

Clarkson also knows that subtlety can be a useful tool in sending a powerful message, and this helps make the music have more of an impact on the listener. 

The album has been described as a return to Clarkson’s roots. This makes sense, as she got her start singing Aretha Franklin songs on “American Idol.”  

Interestingly, Clarkson is returning to these roots on Atlantic Records, which housed soul artists like Franklin and Ray Charles. 

“Meaning of Life” does not stack up to classic Atlantic recordings from Franklin. However, it is great to hear Clarkson sounding so inspired and full of life. 

The songs on “Meaning of Life” are not quite as exciting as Clarkson’s previous hits like “Since U Been Gone” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.” Songs like those are what she does best, and the album would benefit from a moment along those lines. 

This album is a solid if slightly uneven effort. This can be said of most of Clarkson’s albums. “Meaning of Life” certainly will not hurt her, but her true masterpiece is still waiting to be unearthed. 

The Flyer gives “Meaning of Life” a 7 out of 10. 

Las Vegas, gun control opinions

 By JOHN EICHER  

Staff Writer 

OPINION- American has been in a constant cycle of tragedy, mourn and figure pointing but no progress is being made on gun control. Public opinion on this intense topic has shown virtually no change in over a decade. Given that five out of ten of the deadliest U.S. shootings have occurred within the past ten year, this is very concerning. 

On June 12th, 2016, a lone gunman open fired on the Pulse Night club in Orlando, tragically taking the lives of 49 innocent people. Four months later, a nationwide Gallup poll was conducted in order to gauge public opinion on gun control. The survey found that 55% of Americans were in favor of stricter gun laws, while 34% believed that legislation pertaining to firearms should remain the same. 

These numbers are troubling, given that the survey is a recurring poll. When Gallup had conducted the same survey in October 2002, the results had shown that 51% of citizens were in favor of stricter gun laws, while 36% were in favor of them remaining the same. Throughout this fourteen year gap, the minimum and maximum for each respective category only ranged 16% for more gun control, and 5% for the latter.   

When interviewing Anna Susie, president of College Republicans at Salisbury University, she revealed that local students had reached a similar conclusion. “Right now, the consensus on gun control has remained unchanged. The College Republicans condemn the Las Vegas massacre, however, we do still believe that everyone, with proper training and background checks, has the right to bear arms.” 

When asked if College Republicans would want to change anything legally to prevent mass shootings, she responded “The College Republicans do not have any particular legal changes that we believe would prevent these mass shootings. Mass shootings are very difficult to predict and prevent. 

Few probably need reminding on the correlation between repetition and insanity, but there is still some truth to the phrase. The debate on gun control and the tragedy itself flood the news cycle every time something like The Vegas massacre occurs and it is the same story every time.  

Stubbornness is not a partisan dilemma. It is a human one. Whether gun control is the solution or not, people must remain open to change in order for this national wound to subside. The answer may lie within stricter gun laws, or perhaps an increased focus on mental health and security, but neither solution matters if no one is willing to consider the possibility that they may be wrong. 

The bridge between politics and tragedy can truly be a treacherous one. Sorting through the facts and emotions of an international trauma is a difficult process, but a necessary one at that. If the public discourse on gun control and mass shootings continues its refusal to change, history will repeat itself. Regardless of who is right, the route of ignorance leads to no solution. The only clear way ahead is with an open mind. 

There is no I in team

By LILLY METCALFE 

Staff Writer  

OPINION- Group projects, more like time wasting pits of sorrow. Dealing with unfamiliar and unmotivated classmates is a difficult and awkward experience. Group projects are made to promote teamwork, time management and communication skills. Here are the four types of group project experiences every college student can go through in their academic career. 

The procrastination group: this is the group that waits until the last minute to prepare an average or below average project that they finish in a matter of hours. These are the students who are either too busy to meet up prior to that stressful night, or ignore the due date for weeks until it is almost too late. The students think they have plenty of time to complete the project, but then end up pulling an all-nighter to complete the assignment. Then when presenting the project, they all look tired and unenthusiastic, dissatisfied with each other and the final product they have created 

The over-achievers: this is the group that will meet right after learning about the project. They will meet every week and come up with creative ways to present their project. They make all the other projects look bad and will volunteer to present first. They will get so involved that when presenting, they go over their time limit resulting in points off, but will still get an A. Now a person that is a procrastinator might not like a group like this, for they might see this group as “try-hards,” but this is the best group to be in.  

The one-man army group: this cannot be counted as a group effort, for there is only one person who pulls through and completes the project. They give simple tasks for their unenthusiastic members and even then the members still manage to mess that up. The one student will do the majority of the talking when presenting. This person will complain that they had to do all the work, but they secretly are happy that they had all the control to make the project perfect to their standards.  This begs the question if a group project is even worth assigning at times, especially to a general education class. 

The one-man slacker group: this is a group that is similar to the over achievers, except for one problem. There is a member of the group that does not carry their own weight. This person does not show up to scheduled meetings, slacks in their contributions and during the presentation they create a monologue that has nothing to do with the project whatsoever. They will sabotage a group’s grade unintentionally and no one talks to this person because the damage has already been done. 

Of course, not everyone will experience these kinds of groups. However, it is inevitable that a group project will be completed and presented. So, be wise about who you end up being partners with and do not wait until the last minute to complete a group project. 

Spotify, Hulu close in on monopoly

By DREW LACOUTURE 

Editorial Editor  

When it was announced this past September that a bundle of Hulu and Spotify would be available to college students for only $4.99 a month, thousands of prayers were answered. This is fantastic for anyone who uses these platforms for music, movies, and television. However, with Netflix and T-Mobile offering the same exact bundle, consumers might be heading towards a future with one universal streaming product.  

This partnership puts hours of binging and millions of songs into the hands of those wFullSizeRender_previewho may have previously felt hesitant to pay for streaming. As Tim Connolly, head of distribution and partnerships at Hulu, put it “they’re [Spotify] an iconic brand in music streaming and a proven leader in reaching and engaging young consumers.”  

However, Hulu needs this partnership more, with Netflix having over 100 million subscribers globally. Hulu last reported having 12 million in May 2016 according to Business Insider. 

Companies have been partnering in this fashion for a long time and it is still a large trend, exemplified by the recent Google and YouTube partnership. Partnering gives both parties a broader audience and an upper hand against competitors. This competition might be nonexistent with music streaming service Tidal continuing to struggle to gain subscriptions.  

Looking at the fan’s perspective, this would not be consequential at all. Being able to access most of one’s entertainment under a single payment or one eventual platform is not only convenient, but it is also practical. With that in mind, it is important to remember that with one single product on the market, the streaming world may soon start to look like Walmart. 

Small businesses have been suffering in recent decades because of big-box stores. Instead of having to go to the farmers stand to get produce, or a hardware store for household products, now anyone can buy anything at Walmart. People usually recognize that the products are better at other places, but only having to travel to one place is a whole lot easier.  

Students that are consumers of this new bundle are aware of this possible future. “I love being able to watch Hulu for almost free now, but this bundle is not good for any of the others services because there could be a monopoly,” said Hannah Driscoll, a human resource major in the Perdue School of Business. 

While neither Spotify nor Hulu have bought out the other (since Hulu is owned by Walt Disney, Fox and Comcast) this might change and the two companies may eventually converge. If a monopoly is formed over time and Netflix, Apple Music and Amazon Prime become bought out, the quality of the service will drop.  

The bundle of Spotify and Hulu is truly a beautiful thing for the short term, but if it is really successful the next few years of streaming may be a lot different than the present. Everyone might only have to log into one single service. This would not be a bad thing if we knew that both streaming services were in it for more than money. Hopefully new technology will come along to make streaming outdated, before it is too late.