All posts by Signal Contributor

Migliorelli illustrates the importance of IMM

By Jillian Festa
Correspondent

Interactive media designer, educator and musician Frank Migliorelli gave a rapid-fire Brown Bag presentation on Friday, Oct. 3.  He began with a comprehensive description of the College’s Interactive Multimedia (IMM) Department, highlighting its mission to use interactive media in order to empower, entertain, collaborate and educate. He then expressed his enthusiasm for the undergraduate program, stating how rare and useful it is to delve into video game design, mobile application design, web design and animation right from the beginning of higher education. 

Migliorelli earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University and followed up with a Master of Professional Studies in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University.

Originally, Migliorelli was interested in advertising and writing jingles. His job in a youth center sparked his interest for working with children and technology.  He conducted research for a project on child interaction with computers and, thereafter, became fascinated by the idea that kids could learn problem-solving skills through games, especially after hearing of a 15-year-old boy who learned to write using technology. 

Migliorelli credits two books as his inspiration for mitigating the digital divide: the 1986 publication of “The Neuter Computer:  Computers for Girls and Boys” by Jo Shuchat Sanders and Antonia Stone, and the 1996 publication “Information Inequality: The Deepening Social Crisis in America” by Herbert I. Schiller. 

He worked for 10 years setting up programs that would make technology accessible for students and cities. Five of those years were spent at Sunburst Communications as director of Multimedia Production, making games and educational software and music. Examples of the company’s work include popular children’s games “Type to Learn” and “Hot Dog Stand.” Migliorelli’s musical work at Sunburst was very creative, “much like School House Rock … creating educational music videos for kids.”

Migliorelli was also senior vice president of design for 11 years at ESI Design, an experimental design team based in New York City. Under his creative direction, ESI produced state-of-the-art museum exhibits, non-profit agencies and Fortune 500 clients. The firm created an interactive touch table for real estate and an award-winning interactive website for the JFK Presidential Library (jfk50.org). 

One of his proudest contributions was with ImaginOn, half library, half children’s theater. Opened in 2005 in Charlotte, N.C., the project aimed to combine storytelling with performing. He helped to create a stimulating, whimsical environment in which kids compose stories.The story then goes to a website, and through connected computers, kids work together to create an interactive digital puppet show.

After sharing the most high-tech and low-tech of his ESI projects, Migliorelli discussed what he learned from his time at ESI Design.

“(There are) two guiding frameworks for good interaction design: seeing, doing, learning, making, taking and sharing, and that great interaction design is great storytelling,” Migliorelli said. He also noted that setup and immersion are crucial to “telling a good story.”

He then wanted to shift his attention and focus on addressing the STEM field. 

“Culture is afraid of science,” he said.  “Only 11 percent of adults could name a living scientist … I want to change that.” 

His goal was to change the abbreviation of STEM from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to Stop Testing Encourage Minds.  He started the company Mig Idea to develop a STEM learning center, create projects in the educational, cultural and entertainment fields and much more. 

Migliorelli now works as the director of digital experience at the New York Public Library, digitizing educational programs and exhibits in physical and virtual spaces. He has big plans to spread technology to those who do not have it.

When asked where he gets the confidence and energy to work so much, Migliorelli stated that he is “never completely confident,” at first.

“You’re going to make mistakes, you just have to learn what the risks are, and learn how to prototype,” he said. “You learn how to succeed from failing.” 

He then told the audience to read the book “The Phantom Tollbooth,” as it was a huge inspiration to him. He ended his lecture with advice to the IMM students in the crowd: “You’ve got the power … go use it. Go make something great.”

Migliorelli inspires audience to make something great. (Kyle Bennion/ Photo Editor)
Migliorelli inspires audience to make something great. (Kyle Bennion/ Photo Editor)

Authors United controversy heats up, Group returns fire at Amazon over e-books

By Alyssa Sanford
Correspondent

Suzanne Collins. Malcolm Gladwell. James Patterson.

These are just a sampling of the hundreds of names that appeared on a Sept. 19 letter from Authors United to Amazon’s 10 board executives. And despite the fact that Authors United initially described itself as an impartial coalition fighting for settlement between Hachette Book Group and Amazon, the aforementioned authors are at their limit.

Authors United, a coalition of writers, is fighting with Amazon, citing illegal monopoly tactics and demanding an investigation. (AP Photo)
Authors United, a coalition of writers, is fighting with Amazon, citing illegal monopoly tactics and demanding an investigation. (AP Photo)

 

They’re angry, and they’re ready to take legal action against the e-commerce giant for good reason.

Authors United, a worldwide coalition of over 900 writers, both obscure and famous, is taking their grievances with Amazon to the Department of Justice. They claim that Amazon is practicing “illegal monopoly tactics” and that the company needs to be investigated.

The dispute over e-book pricing between Amazon and traditional publishing houses, such as the French company Hachette Book Group, has been going on for several years, but tensions abruptly rose in early 2014. Amazon wanted to set uniform pricing for e-books, while traditional publishers wanted to dictate their own prices. Hachette found Amazon’s $9.99 price tag to be unpalatable. As a result, negotiations broke down.

On May 9, Hachette confirmed that Amazon was delaying shipments of their books. The online retailer slowly and steadily pushed Hachette books out of stock and acknowledged later in the month that they were “not optimistic” the problem would be solved in a timely manner, according to Publishers Weekly.

The New York Times reported on Monday, Sept. 29, that Authors United, previously unwilling to take sides in the Amazon-Hachette dispute, sent a form letter to the top board execs at Amazon, including CEO and chairman Jeff Bezos, pleading with Amazon to reconsider its harmful business tactics.

“These sanctions have driven down Hachette authors’ sales at Amazon.com by at least 50 percent and, in some cases, as much as 90 percent,” Authors United wrote in a letter that can be located on its website. “Several thousand Hachette authors have watched their readership decline, or, in the case of new authors, have seen their books sink out of sight without finding an adequate readership.”

It is becoming increasingly difficult for authors to stay out of the fray. Hachette authors or otherwise, authors like John Green and J.K. Rowling have subtly condemned Amazon for “(bullying) publishers into eventual nonexistence.”

The Times also reported on the same day that Authors United filed a suit with the Department of Justice against Amazon and its “illegal” business tactics, signaling a shift in the tense dynamic between authors and the online publisher/distributor.

As valuable as Amazon is in providing consumers with products at the click of a mouse, and at competitive low prices to boot, this recent development is troubling. Bezos’s company could force small-scale authors out of print and could bring the already-struggling print industry to its knees in a shorter time frame than previously expected.

I want to see Authors United follow through with their suit. There are antitrust laws in place that protect companies in our free-market economy, and Amazon is violating those laws. Obviously, the Federal Trade Commission allows for competition between two corporations, but Amazon is deliberately cutting consumers off from Hachette products.

That’s not competition — that’s monopolization. And that’s illegal under the Sherman Act of 1890, according to the FTC.

If Authors United manages to bring suit against Amazon, it could mean a revitalization of the publishing industry. Consumers should have the right to decide whether or not they’re willing to spend more money on a product — corporations shouldn’t get to decide for them.

Chesney crafts much-needed musical ‘Revival’

By Lauren Del Turco
Correspondent

Kenny Chesney’s recently released studio album “The Big Revival” brings some much needed authenticity to the country music genre that is currently drowning in cheap beer and drunk girls. The album aptly opens up with the words, “get ready for the big revival.”

Chesney’s new, 11-track album combines his well-established signature style of energetic guitar riffs and rockabilly choruses with folky narratives and hippie vibes. Some of Chesney’s greatest past hits vary from the slow soul of “You and Tequila Make Me Crazy” (2010) to the feel-good stadium anthem, “Summertime” (2006). “The Big Revival” similarly features both Chesney’s arena rock energy, with new song “Til It’s Gone,” and a knack for quiet and melodic acoustics on “Wild Child.”

“The Big Revival” also continues Chesney’s frequent collaboration with other artists. “Wild Child” features Grace Potter, who first appeared in Chesney’s 2010 LP “Hemingway’s Whiskey.” Contributors on past albums include musical legends such as Willie Nelson, Uncle Kracker and Allison Krauss.

“Wild Child” is one of the standout songs on the album, creating a female character with “a kaleidoscope of colors in her mind” and a lot more depth than most of the females currently being portrayed in popular country music. Chesney and Potter’s well acquainted voices make for soothing harmonies and practically poetic lyrics.

The album’s lead single and greatest success is “American Kids,” with its airy jangle and tumbleweed energy. The melody change of the two-part chorus amps up the volume and has you clapping your hands and tapping your toes. “American Kids” embodies the real-life appeal of many of Chesney’s past hits. Lyrics like “MTV on the RCA, no A/C in the vents” feel familiar, just like the song’s references to hometown weekends and that “boyfriend daddy doesn’t like.”

The only shortcoming of “The Big Revival” is “Don’t It.” The folky narrative gets lost in the mellow monotone buzz of the verses. The song wanders along, unsure where it’s headed, until it comes to a quiet end.

Overall, “The Big Revival” is just what the “No Shoes Nation” (as Chesney fans have come to be called) needed, especially after the poor performance of “Life on a Rock” in 2013. Don’t call it a comeback — call it a revival.

‘Revival’ contains authenticity that is missing in today’s country music. (AP Photo)
‘Revival’ contains authenticity that is missing in today’s country music. (AP Photo)

Lerche makes his voice heard on ‘Please’

By Tristan Laferriere
Correspondent

Sondre Lerche is no new face in the music scene. Since 2001, this Norwegian-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has been giving audiences who crave a taste for pop and indie rock with a touch of jazz the meal they desire. Now he’s back in 2014 with a whole new album, “Please” — a combination of some new sounds that stick to the old Sondre Lerche style that fans of his previous albums will enjoy, but with spice added to the beats to create a new vibe for the overall demeanor.

Released on Tuesday, Sept. 23, “Please” is the ninth studio album to come out of the inspiration of Sondre Lerche. If you’ve never heard of Lerche before, don’t feel bad. While his music has been well-known to a generation of underground indie-rock fans, he has kept a pretty humble view and has been sort of a best-kept secret in the music industry. 

My personal discovery of Lerche’s music came from walking into a used record shop in SoHo to find his second album, “Two Way Monologue,” on the discount CD rack. I was intrigued by the visuals on the jewel case, so I grabbed it, played it and instantly loved it the whole ride home. With this new set of sounds, “Please” lives up to the standards of Lerche fans such as myself and adds a little something extra.

New listeners may find the album has a similar presence to Florence and the Machine, with a rather theatrical performance and powerful melodies. It’s quite different if you’re used to Lerche’s days of “Two Way Monologue,” and at first, it seems drastically different, but overall, it’s a refreshing change.

The song “Bad Law” was instantly catchy and quickly grew on me, becoming one of my favorite tracks from the artist. Then, at times, I was brought back to that softer sound that I was used to with Lerche’s music when I reached tracks like “Crickets” and “At Times We Live Alone.” Sometimes Lerche’s softer tracks use a haunting melody while he sings with a speaking voice, similar in tone and style to Jason Mraz. Fans of Mraz will be very pleased with Sondre Lerche, as the two share very congruent and dynamic voices.

If I had to choose a favorite track from “Please,”  it would be a difficult feat. However, the classic Sondre Lerche sound mixed with a new sensation is best presented in “Sentimentalist.” A chilling melody indeed, Sondre takes the style fans are used to and gives it an almost new-age feeling with his hauntingly beautiful voice echoing into our ears in a way that I’ve never heard before. Lerche has a way of keeping the listener in an upbeat mood while listening to his songs, but at the same time, throws in a few tracks that really make you stop and enjoy the melancholy melodies he is a master at creating.

Overall, “Please” is very, well, pleasing to the ears, and while I recommend some of his earlier albums for new listeners to start with, this new release is definitely one of his best.

Lerche adds new spice on ‘Please.’ (AP Photo)
Lerche adds new spice on ‘Please.’ (AP Photo)

Landing the perfect job / College Opportunities Fair

By Jenna Brophy
Correspondent

Students mingle with employees from a variety of businesses and organizations at this year’s Opportunities Fair. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Editor)
Students mingle with employees from a variety of businesses and organizations at this year’s Opportunities Fair. (Kyle Bennion / Photo Editor)

Early Friday mornings on campus usually mean sweatpants and T-shirts for students as they make their way to classes, breakfast or the library. But on Friday, Oct. 3, students dressed in their business best and headed over to the annual Fall Opportunities Fair in the basement of the Student Recreation Center, where job and networking opportunities abounded.

The area had been transformed from an athletic space to an exposition, with more than 150 organizations and businesses setting up tables to talk to students about their opportunities for the future. Handshakes and smiles were exchanged as résumés were passed from student to recruiter, and there was not an unfriendly face in the room as the Rec Center buzzed with the chatter of students and their potential future employers.

Beginning promptly at 11 a.m., students were able to sign into the Opportunities Fair and receive a booklet describing each employer present and its respective opportunities. Whether it was a full-time position or an internship, or even if it was simply relevant to a student’s particular major, it wasn’t difficult to find an eager employer in the sea of tables.

No matter what a student’s interests were, companies gave students a broad spectrum of available internships during their college years as well as post-graduation. Businesses ranged from Target and Burlington Coat Factory to Morgan Stanley and everything in between. The FBI and various state police departments were in attendance as well, as were the Armed Forces.

Businesses were not the only ones that attended the Opportunities Fair — graduate schools had booths, as well, talking with students about furthering their education with opportunities in law or medical school.

Students on campus left the Fair with nothing but good prospects and motivation. Junior management major Nick Samra attended the Fair for the first time and was excited to talk to the companies present.

“They have really good companies here, and if you do your research on a few of them, it gives you the opportunity to find the job or internship you’re looking for.” Samra said.

Junior mathematics major Rachel MacGrath was more apprehensive about her first visit to the Opportunities Fair.

“I’ve never been to something like this before, but I think it’s a great place to learn about things and talk to people,” she said.

Companies were active prior to the Fair, too. CIT, a commercial lending and leasing organization that finances middle-tier business companies, gave a preparation session prior to the Opportunities Fair in order to help students feel more comfortable discussing future employment possibilities. The information session, which occurred on Monday, Sept. 29, featured alumni representatives from the company, giving the room a sense of community and comfort where students could both learn and ask questions.

A brief PowerPoint presentation was given to explain the functions and practices of CIT, followed by a description of their Financial Development Program, in which students from select colleges are chosen for internships at CIT that later turn into careers. The session then moved on to tips and tricks for the career fair. Students learned both what to do and what not to do to make themselves seem marketable to employers. The CIT staff encouraged students to familiarize themselves with five to 10 companies that they were interested in and deliver copies of their résumés to those employers with whom they felt potential.

Perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of CIT’s preparation session was when students were asked to create a personalized, 30-second elevator speech. By tailoring their first-impression strategies, students could network with each other as a way to practice before the Opportunities Fair.

Sweaty palms held shaky pens as the students jotted brief notes about what they would say about themselves, but as soon as they began to mingle with each other, their nerves were put at ease. The CIT employees were friendly and encouraging as they walked around and listened in on the student’s conversations, offering advice on how to make their speeches even better.

“Talking with representatives from businesses and universities helped me feel bright and confident about the future ahead,” junior psychology major Andrew Edelblum said about this week’s career events. “I’m super pumped to get started sorting through all the business cards and application URLs I received last Friday.”

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Echoes: Peeling back the layers

By Emma Kumpf
Blogger

“Expect complexity and diversity.” These are the words my professor used to introduce my Gender in Islam class today, but I think they are also an appropriate introduction to my time here in Jordan. There is so much here that is different from my home, but at the same time there are so many similarities.

Jordan is a complex and diverse country overflowing with people to meet and culture to learn about. One of my first observations was the different ways that people dress. Some women dress in clothing that covers them from head to toe, while other women dress in clothing that looks very similar to what you and I might wear in the U.S. I have noticed these extremes,but also every layer in between. The same goes for men.

I also see complexity and diversity in the treatment I receive out on the streets. There are many that are welcoming to Jordan and I love the hospitality that has been showed to me even from people that I will probably never see again. Most times that I hop into a taxi, the driver is quick to say welcome and introduce himself in his broken English. Other taxi drivers have given short Arabic lessons on the drive, eager to introduce their language and culture to any guest in their home. Many Jordanians welcome any outsider with warmth and excitement.

However, there are times I feel like I want to run back home. As a woman, it can be intimidating walking alone or even with other people. American women are given extra attention and I have already received my share of catcalls while out in public, even if I am dressed conservatively. There are other times where taxi drivers can try to take advantage of my unfamiliarity with this country and its cultural norms by trying to overcharge me.

Still, there are more layers to this incredibly rich and diverse country. It has a population of six million, but those numbers are nearly doubled when the refugee population is included. Jordan welcomes refugees from many of the surrounding countries in this tumultuous region. Also, of those original six million, 70 percent are Palestinian Jordanians. There is so much to learn in order to understand the culture and dynamics of Jordan.

I have learned so much in the short time that I have been here. I am eager and excited to see all that God teaches me while I am living here. There are so many layers to this beautiful, diverse, complex, incredible country that I get to call home for the next three months. I think Jordan is like an ogre, and to quote my friend Shrek, “Ogres are like onions… Onions have layers.” Jordan has many layers and I can’t wait to start peeling the onion to find all Jordan has to offer.

Until next time,
Emma

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The view from Kumpf’s apartment (Photo courtesy of Emma Kumpf)

 

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The view from Kumpf’s campus (Photo courtesy of Emma Kumpf)
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The sunset on the way home from a trip to Jerash (Photo courtesy of Emma Kumpf)
Senior forward Gina Caprara dominates on offense on Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of The Sports Information Desk)

Women’s soccer picks up 5-0 home win

Senior forward Gina Caprara dominates on offense on Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of The Sports Information Desk)
Senior forward Gina Caprara dominates on offense on Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of The Sports Information Desk)

By Michael Battista
Correspondent

In a dominating display, the College’s women’s soccer team scored a victory over Fairleigh Dickinson’s Devils 5-0 on Tuesday, Sept. 23. Coming off the previous Friday’s win, the team was hoping to start another winning streak after its last one was cut off at four games. The defense didn’t need to do much, however, as the women’s offense kept the action in the Devil’s zone for a majority of the game.

The goals came in the middle and end of each half, with the beginning of each having back and forth skirmishes for possession. It was during these beginning minutes that the Lions showed some flaws, as they missed numerous passes to one another and wasted golden goal opportunities. Sophomore midfielder Sarah Marion, who netted a goal and an assist, showed some frustration.

“Sometimes you just get unlucky in the box. It happens,” Marion said. “We’ve practiced those exact plays in practice before, too.”

However, these missed opportunities didn’t hold the team back for long, as shot after shot landed in the back of the goal. The Devil’s could not hold the ball in the Lion’s end for very long, only for one- to three-minute bursts. Marion believed that the backfield “was solid all the way through the game and contributed heavily to the shutout we had.” She went on to say that in the second half, the women’s offense “made it difficult for FDU to even get the ball past midfield.”

Coach Joe Russo echoed the statement.

“I think it is a combination of both,” Russo said. “The defending aspect in soccer starts with your attacking players and carries through to the back line.”

The Lions defense, lead by sophomore Brianna Petro, senior Lori Genovesi and junior Brianna Cummings, helped keep the total shots on goal against the Lions to three, with none needing to be saved by goalie senior Kendra Griffith. Players like Marion, junior forward Justine Larocca and senior forward Gina Caprara were some of the many outstanding players on offense, whose combined efforts took nine of the team’s 26 shots on goal.

Even toward the end, as both teams started to get physical with one another, the women were able to keep calm and focus on the task at hand.

“When a team’s tired, they get scrappy,” Marion said, saying that she believed both teams were losing steam toward the end of the game.

Looking at how the team is playing, Marion thinks each game is important, yet believes that “Montclair will be a big game” for the women’s team. The 7-1 Red Hawks play at the College on Saturday, Oct. 4, and will be one of the team’s biggest challenges in the regular season. Regardless, the team’s next game on Wednesday, Oct. 1, against Richard Stockton College is its main focus. Russo explained he sees “the next game being the most important (one).”

“The common theme has always been: Win the next game … and win the last game,” he said.

Defining Bolivia’s new and changing class system

By Ellie Schuckman
News Assistant

In the second of six presentations from the College’s Politics Forum series, students and faculty alike gathered to celebrate and discuss the recent publication of a book detailing Bolivian life and the constantly changing definition of the middle class.

The middle class in Bolivia is not like the middle class in America. (Courtney Wirths / Features Editor)
The middle class in Bolivia is not like the middle class in America. (Courtney Wirths / Features Editor)

“This is where serendipity plays,” she said. “You just never know where it will take you.”

Miriam Shakow, assistant professor of anthropology and history at the College, listened to a panel of three students examine and pose questions regarding her book, “Along the Bolivian Highway,” on Tuesday, Sept. 23, in the College’s Library Auditorium, to which she responded with detailed accounts of her time in Bolivia.

“Within Bolivia, people know that there is a middle class … which, unlike (in) the United States, there is this alternate intermediate category that … is indigenous,” Shakow said. “To be middle-class (in Bolivia) is different than being middle-class in the United States. If you call it middle class, people think of the term ‘clase media,’ the cognitive middle class as amongst the elite, even if they’re not all the way up there.”

The presentation, titled “Readers Respond to Along the Bolivian Highway,” was sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Department of History and the School of Humanities and Social Science. It was also a celebration of the work Shakow did.

“It’s an important occasion to mark,” said Elizabeth Borland, chair of the College’s Sociology and Anthropology Department. “It’s a big deal for a faculty member to write a book.”

The panel consisted of junior sociology major Chris Felton, senior history and women’s and gender studies double major Caitlin Weisner and senior sociology major Peter Peliotis, each of whom made points regarding specific moments in the book followed by questions they had for Shakow.

“What I really found to be useful … were the parallels found to the United States in looking at our own politics,” Peliotis said. “I liked this idea of intimate politics that Dr. Shakow uses, and that idea is that it’s power struggles between friends, families and neighbors.”

Those in attendance seemed to enjoy the set-up of the discussion, with multiple people giving their views instead of having one speaker.

“I think they had a lot of the same questions I had,” senior sociology major Andrew Wilson said. “It allows for four different perspectives.”

The panel also discussed how people in Bolivia who aspire to reach upper nobility have debated a class struggle: whether indigenous people should rise above their social class or try to break down the hierarchies.

“Bolivia is a society that we often think of as a struggle between the super wealthy elites —  a very small minority — and a destitute of an indigenous majority,” said Borland, referring to details in Shakow’s book. 

In stating the struggles many Bolivians face, the root of the problem may be in the perception others have on those living in rural areas, as 65 percent of the population is poor, according to Shakow.

“(The town I was in) was officially classified as a rural town, but a majority of the people who lived there did not actually work in farming,” said Shakow as she discussed the misconceptions of many indigenous peoples. “The self-perception of the people in this area were that they were farmers, because that’s how they were used to thinking of themselves … But in fact, most people are making a living through coca leaves or cocaine production.”

With an “economic boom” in cocaine production, many people in Bolivia who classify themselves as lower class have emerged as a type of middle class.

Unlike in the U.S. where there are defined upper, middle and lower classes, in Bolivia, those lines are blurred. Those living in rural towns consider themselves lower-class farmers when, in reality, the work they are doing classifies them as members of the middle-class.

“I never once heard anybody I was working with say the term ‘middle class,’” Shakow said. “They didn’t think of themselves — and I don’t think anybody else thought of themselves — as members of the middle class because they came from the rural area.”

Though the debate of this new middle class rages on, Shakow remains optimistic in her work.

Students showcase talents at first Soloist Night

By Mackenzie Cutruzzula
Correspondent 

The Rathskeller held its first student soloist night of the semester on Friday, Sept. 26, featuring four student performers. The room was filled with tunes both old and new, including hits  from The Beatles and Adele.

Sophomore Joanne Kim kicked off the night with her guitar in hand. She warmed up the small crowd with her soulful voice and R&B feel. She put her own twist on indie hits such as “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand and “Sleeping Sickness” by Dallas Green. Kim was excited to sing her favorite song of the moment on stage, “Riptide” by Vance Joy. Finishing off her set with a throwback crowd pleaser, Death Cab For Cutie’s “I’ll Follow You Into The Dark,” Kim was greeted with lots of applause.

Following Kim, Eric Mauro gave the growing crowd a lot to smile about. His cheery folk sound was catchy and vibrant. Equipped with a ukulele and a smooth voice, Mauro went all-in on The Beatles classic, “Blackbird.” Mauro gave the crowd a piece of his personality, playing two original instrumental pieces on his ukulele. Mauro had great stage presence as well, smiling through minor mistakes and laughing at himself.

Junior Seton Helwig accompanied Mauro for his last number. With a ukulele and a set of bells, the duet sang Chvrches’s “The Mother We Share.” Helwig remained on stage for her solo set, creatively opening with the “Orange is the New Black” theme song, “You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spektor.

Helwig loves performing in any way possible. She is a competitive drumline drummer outside of campus and part of the women’s ensemble at the College.

Helwig had never participated in any of the Rat performances before, but she enjoyed her time singing hits like “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men and “To Make You Feel My Love” by Adele.

Ending the night was junior  Ryan Quindlen. With the longest set of the night, Quindlen played to an engaged crowd of about 35 people. His pop rendition of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” got the crowd interested. Taking on other hip-hop and R&B classics and making them his own, Quindlen covered TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.”

“I love performing, and I really enjoy writing a lot,” Quindlen said, having been involved in music for about nine years.

The real show stopper was one of the four original songs he played. Getting the crowd going, he introduced his next song as being about “my one true love.” The crowd met the introduction with a unanimous “aww,” but Quindlen warned against being misguided by that teaser. The crowd was graced for the next three minutes by a song that referenced every movie that featured Emma Stone. Cleverly titled “Emma Stoned,” Quindlen demonstrated a talent for storytelling spanning his other original songs “Pop Culture” and “Toothbrush.”  The finale of the night was also an original, “I Don’t Know, Love,” a catchy tune with a snap, crackle and pop of a hook.

“I would like to do music in the future, even if it’s just a side thing,” Quindlen said. “I’m definitely not done pursuing it.”

Quindlen can be found DJing at local bars on the weekend and performs in a Led Zeppelin cover band in his hometown. Closer to campus, though, he enjoys playing shows at the Rat throughout the semester.

Johansen writes a magical, riveting novel

By Kayla Whittle
Correspondent

Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is a 19-year-old princess and leaving her sheltered home in the woods for the first time. Her kingdom, the Tearling, is threatened with war by its neighbor, Mortmesne, whose queen knows powerful magic. Though she is young and inexperienced, Kelsea is able to find strength and magic of her own in “The Queen of the Tearling”.

‘Queen of the Tearling’ captivates with an epic storyline. (AP Photo)
‘Queen of the Tearling’ captivates with an epic storyline. (AP Photo)

Looking at the nearly 500 pages that make up this novel, you may be intimidated. This book by Erika Johansen is a daunting read of magic, royalty and war, yet so well-written that you begin to forget how bulky it is.

 “The Queen of the Tearling” is not fast-paced. While there are incredible fight scenes, packed with flaming arrows, attempted assassinations and traitorous guards, they are dispersed throughout the book. It sets up a complex plotline — really, several plots tied into one epic tale — making large sections filled with court intrigue and battle planning necessary. The storyline continues to grow throughout the book until the conclusion, where plot twists fuel an epic battle that leaves you anxious for a sequel.

This is a novel that should attract readers simply because it can cater to teenagers and adults without hurting the plot with unnecessary romance. There are no love triangles to be found in the Tearling. Kelsea is busy training to fight, learning court etiquette and earning the loyalty of her people — leaving no time for drama-inducing men. As she gains the respect of her people, Kelsea comes into her own after acting like an anxious girl when she is truly a formidable queen. Moving from a stable home to a court where her own uncle is only one among many attempting to kill her, Kelsea must grow physically and emotionally stronger. She also gets admiration from the reader. This is particularly important due to the fact that Erika Johansen is writing this book for a trilogy and needs Kelsea likable enough for fans to continue rooting for her.

This novel would be perfect for anyone looking for an epic storyline and a fantastic set of characters. The Queen’s guard, foster parents and even her maids are well-developed and interesting. Johansen also provides a villainess worth hating, the monstrous queen of Mortmesne who at times overtakes the narration.

“The Queen of the Tearling” is a novel that needs to be more well-known and read. Hopefully, more readers will indulge in this complex plot and beautifully designed setting.

Eric Holder resigns as US Attorney General

By Roman Orsini

Staff Writer

President Obama applauds as Attorney General Eric Holder announces his retirement.
President Obama applauds as Attorney General Eric Holder announces his retirement.

AP Photo

On Thursday, Sept. 25, President Barack Obama announced the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder will remain in his post at the Department of Justice, (DOJ), until a successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, a process that may take until the end of this year. Holder voluntarily made the decision to leave for personal reasons.

Holder has served in the Obama administration since its formation in 2009 and was the first African American to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official. During the second Clinton administration, Holder also served as the deputy attorney general, the second highest position at the DOJ.

Holder’s tenure as attorney general has derived mixed views among political leaders in Washington and the American public. The politicized nature of his legacy casts him as a controversial leader in the spectrum of opinion.

Supporters of Holder point to his career-long efforts in advancing civil rights causes. “(Of his contributions), defending all Americans’ right to vote; making sentencing and other aspects of the criminal justice system fairer and more color-blind; protecting immigrants from undue harassment; and hastening full equality for gay and lesbian Americans” were some of his key ambitions, according to the Washington Post.

Efforts under Holder’s Justice Department sought to reform sentencing laws for criminals, to ensure a fairer path to justice. The DOJ also pursued marriage equality efforts by not upholding the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which gave states the right to decide the legality of same sex marriage. Many LGBT rights advocates support such a shift in policy, while many oppose the power of the federal government to intervene in such decisions.

Detractors point to Holder’s selective enforcement of existing federal law and political biases while carrying out his office. Following the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington last year, Holder signaled that the DOJ would not prosecute drug users in those states. The DOJ would generally overlook marijuana related prosecutions at the federal level.

Holder oversaw a 2009 sting operation, Fast and Furious, which involved the transfer of an estimated 1,400 automatic firearms to Mexican drug cartels, according to CNN. The purpose of the operation was to track and apprehend cartel members by allowing these guns to “walk” through their organizations. Yet, the operation ended tragically in 2010 when a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed by a gun traced to the program.

Following a bipartisan vote by the House of Representatives in 2012, Holder became the first cabinet member to be held in contempt of Congress, over his failure to release documents pertaining to Fast and Furious.

Darrell Issa, the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee has said that “Eric Holder is the most divisive U.S. Attorney General in modern history.” In spite of Holder’s resignation, the contempt citation from Congress remains in effect — targeting him and the DOJ.

Echoes: Czech languages of communication and sports

By Neil Nadpara
Blogger

As a first semester freshman, I planned out my future semesters so that I’d be able to study abroad. Before starting college, my older friend told me that studying abroad in London was one of the best decisions he made. Although I was set on studying abroad, I was not sure where to go. I wanted a city that was modern yet had a rich history; a city that had a unique culture different from the United States; and a city with a geographical location would enable me to travel Europe. Prague was a perfect fit.

It took a whopping one night for me to appreciate the importance of language and communication. My study abroad program (UPCES) arranged taxi rides from the airport to the hostel we would be staying at for the first few nights of orientation. My friend and I were directed into a cab whose driver spoke no English. It was a 20-minute ride to the hostel, and we reached there at 9 p.m. so it was pretty dark. The driver dropped us off where the hostel was (or so he thought), he pointed towards the building, and he quickly drove off. It didn’t take us long before we realized that the hostel was nowhere in sight. Our phones were useless because we did not have internet on them. We tried asking people on the street and in shops, but they didn’t speak English. Communication and smart phones felt like luxuries and I appreciated them more in that instant. After 45 minutes of dragging around two luggage bags through dimly lit alley ways and on cobblestone sidewalks, the only thing we could do was laugh when we finally found the hostel. In a sense, I am happy to have such a “memorable” welcome to Prague.

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Charles Bridge (Photo courtesy of Neil Nadpara)

The next day, we visited the main tourist attractions of Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge. Since the weather was ideal, Charles Bridge was packed with tourists. The entrance to the bridge is trulyextraordinary and historical. The bridge is lined with many statues on its sides that look fascinating during the day but can be surprisingly creepy at night (no exaggeration). Additionally, there are street merchants along the bridge that sell unique Czech instruments, accessories, and more.

Old Town square was filled with many street performers, magicians, and illusionists. One intriguing illusion is the one pictured below.

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Illusionists in Old Town Square (Photo courtesy of Neil Nadpara)

I don’t know what’s more amazing: the illusion or the fact that these guys maintain the same facial expression for hours on end every day. Immediately after seeing this, I had to find the nearest place with Wi-Fi so I could Google how the trick worked (yes, I cheated). If you’d like to know how it works, I encourage you to do the same because I don’t want to ruin it for you!

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Dutch soccer fans (Photo courtesy of Neil Nadpara)

Although I knew before I arrived that basketball and football were not big in the Czech Republic, I was surprised to learn that soccer was huge. I am an avid sports fan who loves basketball, soccer and football, so I was excited to learn that Czechs loved soccer. In my third day here, I found out that there was a UEFA Euro 2016 (basically the FIFA World Cup of just Europe) qualifying match in Prague. The Czech Republic would be playing against the Netherlands, which is a soccer powerhouse. As we walked around the city during the day, I saw the anticipation for the match all around me. Even though it was just a qualifying match, the Czechs were veryexcited for the match and many were wearing soccer jerseys. The tension in the air was apparent and I even saw a small scuffle between Czech fans and Dutch fans. What was surprising was the number of Dutch fans that made the trip down to Prague for the match. I probably saw as many Dutch fans as I did Czech fans. The famous Charles Bridge was filled with Dutch fans who were having a great time occasionally chanting. One group of Dutch fans were all suited up in style, grabbing the attention of everyone on the bridge. For a second, I thought they were Dutch soccer players or coaching staff, but I soon realized that they were just extremely dedicated fans.

Although it was too late to buy tickets for the game, we went to a local pub and the spirit of the Czechs was amazing. The Czech Republic ended up winning the game 2-1, with the winning goal coming late in the game. All of Prague was so celebratory and lively following the win, even though it was only a relatively miniscule qualifying match. I appreciated the passion Czechs had for soccer and loved being part of the post-game celebrations with newly made Czech friends at the pub.

In my first three days in Prague, I learned two things: 1. Getting lost in a place where you don’t speak the language sucks. 2. Sports speak a universal language that I could understand and be a part of. Although I felt immersed in the Czech language of sports during the day of the soccer match, my next goal (no pun intended) is to become fluent in the Czech language of communication.

See you guys next time,
Neil Nadpara

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Echoes: An American abroad

By Rajath Kenath
Blogger

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Old Town Square at Night (Photo courtesy of Rajath Kenath)

No amount of time spent in America could have prepared me for a city so hauntingly beautiful, that the moment I step outside, I am filled with instant reverence and respect. To juxtapose Prague (Praha) with a city like New York would be foolish, as the differences are so jarring one would begin to doubt that these two cities exist in the same world. In essence, Prague is a puzzle — a puzzle 12 centuries in the making. Separately, the 10 districts of Prague are brilliant by their own accord. For example, Prague 1 is the Times Square of the Czech Republic. It is the historical heart of the city: always bustling, full of lights and full of tourists. Prague 2 is a favorite amongst locals. Its tree-lined streets and large parks as well as community squares make it a hotspot for foreigners to live. Prague 3 has the most bars per capita in all of Europe. Prague 4 is where the working class of Prague reside, essentially where most of the Czech people hang out. Together all of these districts serve to form an unforgettable city full of culture and some of the most ornate architecture the world has ever seen. As far as the eye can see, there are rooftops clad in orange shingles, cobblestone roads, gothic-themed churches, and street performers of extraordinary talent.

My two weeks in Prague have been nothing short of unbelievable. Perhaps the best, and most implausible part, is how cheap this city can be. This is a city where you can find a carton of 18 eggs for less than the equivalent of $2.50. This is a city where beer costs less than water. This is a city where living in an apartment in the picturesque Prague 2 costs less than living in a dorm on campus. Here the streets have no trash or garbage. Here the public transportation system is so efficient that 20 years from now, there may be no need for cars in Prague. Regardless of where you are: on the Charles Bridge, inside the St. Vitus Cathedral, in the center of Old Town Square, next to the thousands of graves in the Jewish Quarter, or even while doing something as seemingly uneventful as waiting for the metro or shopping for groceries, you cannot help but feel a sense of appreciation for where you are now. That is what it means to be an American abroad. We are outsiders peering into the daily lives of people in cities much older than the ones we come from — cities whose rich histories fill them with life and beauty. Being abroad is an unforgettable cultural experience not to be taken for granted, and I am grateful that my experience is only beginning.

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Overview of Prague (Photo courtesy of Rajath Kenath)
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St. Vitus Cathedral (Photo courtesy of Rajath Kenath)
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View from the Charles Bridge (Photo courtesy of Rajath Kenath)
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The Jewish Cemetery of the Jewish Quarter (Photo courtesy of Rajath Kenath)

Lion’s Playlist: All-nighter tunes

By Nicole Ciullo
Blogger

Now that we are approaching the end of October, the easy-breezy workload from syllabus week has been replaced with the stress of papers and the first round of exams. The library is filled with students cramming to finish an assignment the night before it is due and it is finally hitting freshman that college is not only about the frat party coming up on Friday night. To help you deal with real @tcnjproblems, here are some relaxing songs to get you through those restless nights:

Bob Marley – Three Little Birds

The smooth, relaxing voice of Bob Marley is enough to get you through any 12-page paper. Just imagine sitting on the beach at a summer bonfire with friends, because “every little thing is gonna be all right.”

Mika – Relax

This song is a fun twist to typical relaxation tunes. While it is a calming song, it is impossible not to dance along. Try it. I dare you.

John Mayer – Heartbreak Warfare

Ever since my freshman year, this John Mayer song has served as the background to all of my study sessions. His soothing voice will give you the feels.

The Gaslight Anthem – The 59 Sound

Gaslight Anthem provides listeners an upbeat and relaxing experience perfect for any stressful evening. As my favorite band, I could listen to this song all day. Give them a listen!

Kid Cudi – The Prayer

One of Kid Cudi’s softer songs that is sure to calm your nerves before a big presentation. Enjoy!

School is stressful but with the proper study playlist, schoolwork does not have to be a task. A little music to soothe the soul will help you get through any difficult assignment. Best of luck to everyone in the upcoming week!