Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

A Skeptic Reviews the Hunger Games Trilogy

by Nigel Law

I am, and I freely admit this, a Harry Potter fan, and strongly believe that there really is no other fantasy book series as good as it. Because of this, I am always rather biased when I start a new series, because I am simply sure that it will not match the adventures of Harry James Potter. Also because of this, I was rather scared of the Hunger Games, because it seemed, based on what other people around me had said about the series, that it was actually a potential rival to Harry, and so, for fear of changing opinion, I stayed away from it (Yes, it may sound a little silly, but that’s how it went.).

Finally, though, my curiosity got the better of me and I bought it. Despite the fact that I started it in the car with my rather loud younger sister, I was basically hooked from the first page. From the very beginning of the first book, a lifestyle is created that is so wonderfully intriguing, and yet simultaneously so terrible; those who have read the book will perhaps understand.  By the end of the first book, I could tell something about the author, Suzanne Collins, and that is that she is not afraid to put in vivid descriptions of events in order to bring the reader closer to the experience. For some, though, this may be something to watch out for; particularly as the series progresses, there are some scenes that are perhaps a little too vivid for some younger readers. In other words, reader discretion is advised.

I finished the first book craving the second. It is nonstop action and intensity, and there is never a dull moment. The Hunger Games, both the series as a whole and the fictional event, is about a constant struggle to survive. I got the second book, and enjoyed it just as much. The second book is rather interesting. Without giving anything away, it has many of the same qualities that the first book had (even some of the same events done differently), except that the second book has a bit more to say about the series as a whole. The different perspectives that are introduced in the first book suddenly have a bit more light shined on them in Catching Fire, the title of the first sequel.

My reading sequence for Mockingjay, the final book in the series, went something like this: start it, read the beginning slowly, stop reading for a while, then read over 200 pages in the car and finish it. The reason for this, I think, is that the beginning is somewhat slow (not to mention a bit confusing too), because the part where Catching Fire left off is rather sudden, and to come back to it was slightly challenging. However, once I bypassed the beginning, the story picks up quite a bit. Mockingjay does what a really good series finale should do; answer questions readers may have had while reading the sequels, fill in gaps in the storyline, and keep you reading to the end.

Upon finishing Mockingjay, I double-checked to make sure that there were no more pages that I was missing, anything to give a little more closure to the ending. You see, by no means does the series have a “happy” ending; a better word might be melancholy, or maybe bittersweet. However, as readers will find out if they read the series, the end of the trials of the main character, Katniss Everdeen, in no way, shape or form makes up for half of the hardships and struggles that she had to go through in order to get to that point. So many close to her died (no names mentioned), and countless times she herself nearly joined them. So, when I finished the book I thought very hard about the series (ok, I cried, too), searching for some meaning that might be a substitute for closure, and luckily for my crushed spirit I found some.

The Hunger Games, one might say, is a really big metaphor. The series, and again, the fictional event seems to model perspective, desire, and man’s need for control. Even the name of the realm, Panem, has a hidden meaning. The Hunger Games is without a doubt a series that will make you think.

In conclusion, I would absolutely recommend the Hunger Games series, probably to boys and girls from age twelve and up. I’m sure some younger kids have read the series and enjoyed it, but some parts of the book really are rather vivid, and may be frightening. It’s not really a replacement for Harry Potter (again, probably biased) but it is an amazing series, both action-packed and thought-provoking, one that is sure to keep you turning pages as fast as Katniss can shoot with a bow and arrow. Just kidding, that’s physically impossible.

Contagion Review

Contagion

Summary: Vaccines, looters, mass graves, and a star scientist emerges.

Genre: Though elements of Sci-fi, Thriller and straight up Horror may have crept in, Contagion stayed true to what ,would and might happen. Following many plotlines you get the sense that everyone in the world is affected.

Gore: Director Steven Soderbergh wasn’t afraid to show seizures, bus accidents, looters attacking people, and blood.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars. An all-star cast leads human civilization through, what could possibly be, the next apocalypse. This is easily the best movie of 2011 (after Harry Potter, of course), and one of the best Thrillers ever.

Character List: After Mitch (Matt Damon) gets exposed to Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) he is put in isolation and found to be immune. Alan (Jude Law) is a blogger who first finds the disease, gets exposed and finds the vaccine. Dr. Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) is a disease doctor who is highly classified and gets caught up in telling his wife about the disease. Dr. Orantes (Marion Cotillard) gets kidnapped and is forced to save her assistant’s village. Dr. Mears (Kate Winslet) is an adventurous field doctor and who tries to find the vaccine and help sick people. Dr. Hextall (Jennifer Ehale) is a lab scientist who exposes herself to the disease in an attempt.

CAUTION: SPOILER AHEAD

Plot: Beth goes to Hong Kong and catches the disease. She and her group of friends go back to their corners of the world. Instantly China, Japan and the U.S.A. are all affected. This disease is amazingly fast at transmitting itself through any physical contact. No one is immune (besides Mitch). The disease can kill by seizures, confusion, and just plain old sickness. Fear leads ordinary people to steal from and kill others. The first vaccine is found by Alan, but proven a scam. The second vaccine is found and a horrible lottery is started. Characters get the vaccine when their birthdays are called from a lottery.

Are Books Better Than Movies?

 

Are Books Better Than Movies? He Said, He Said
By Zach Love and Sam Istvan

Hopefullly, we will help to answer this question by stating our opinions and giving proof.

Sam Istvan: Are books better than movies, or is it the other way around? I believe that movies are better than books. An example of a movie I liked better than the book is Narnia: The lion, the witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. In this book/movie, while the movie was action-packed with good acting and just an overall very interesting movie, the book could get boring at some parts.

One of the things about movies is that, even though you are able to create anything from your imagination while reading a book, in a movie you’re able to get a view of the movie director’s imagination and how he/she created it on a screen. Take Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I did like the book, but I found that it was hard to create what the scene looked like in my head because it was very confusing at times as Roald Dahl can be. However, in the movie, the director created wonderful scenes for me so I didn’t have to imagine it and it turned out I liked what the director created on the screen better than what I had created in my head. Now that you’ve read this, I hope I have shifted your opinion a little bit if you’re a book-lover and not a movie-lover, so there you have it about what I think.

Zach Love: Are books better than movies? I think that books are better than movies. Charlotte’s Web, for example, was much better as a book than a movie. After all, some aspects of the book, like Charlotte dying, cannot be put into film. I believe that it is easier to feel the emotions of the story as you read, because if you read, anyone can look like anything, and the story could take place at any time or any place. But the movie made sure that the characters looked like their vision of what the characters looked like; there isn’t much room to make things up. And in The City of Ember, The storyline simply fitted better with a book than a movie. For instance, the scene where the main character and another character were escaping the underground city that they lived in all their life, when they were going down the underground rapids, the main character’s little sister was squealing with delight. In the movie, they decided not to put in that part, and they clipped it because it doesn’t help the plot. But in the book, the plot can wander off as much as the author desires, as long as it gets back on track. When you read this, I hope that this article can influence your decision when you’re deciding whether to watch the movie or read the book.

Whether or not you like movies or books better than the other, they are both great ways to spend a lazy afternoon when you’re looking for something to do.

Carnivore Foods

The Best Generic Carnivore Foods

This article mostly covers generic styles of foods that include meat. I’m not covering seafood. Your local restaurant may have a version of these foods that is different. But, I’m just covering the basic foods. These are not in any particular order. Feel free to comment on the recommendations at the end and throughout.

Tandoori Chicken is one of the best generic carnivore foods. I find it to be the best Indian food for several reasons. The meat, cooked in a specialized Tandoori oven with spices, tastes incredible. The Tandoori style of cooking makes almost every meat taste incredible, but Tandoori Chicken is in my opinion the best Tandoori food. The chicken’s skin has a reddish coloring because of the many spices. Though it is a little spicy, but the average carnivore can handle it.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich is also incredible. Without any pesky bones, it is much easier to eat than a pork-chop. The meat is cooked entirely, instead of being completely cooked outside, and barely on the inside. It is best with hot sauce, which brings out the pork’s natural flavor. No restaurant makes it badly, but some make it better than others.

Though, this food is a little corny or childish to some, Chicken Fingers. Deliciously fried, and compatible with almost every sauce. Chicken Fingers are available at most restaurants. You can order it on the kids’ menu at places like Dave&Busters and the Cheesecake Factory. McDonalds chicken finger’s are in my opinion the best, but they are not healthy. Also called Chicken Selects, Chicken fingers are a great food.

Fried Chicken is varies from restaurant to restaurant, but in general has all of the unhealthiness and oiliness that carnivores love. This is the one food that both chain restaurants and family restaurants make. You can also make fried chicken at home. There are many different styles of making it; you can cook it with extra skin, no skin, deep-fried, lighter fried, and  it doesn’t matter fried chicken will always be incredible.

Skirt Steak, a lesser-known version of steak is very delicious. It melts in your mouth and tastes great. In my opinion, it is made best Brazilian-style. Spice selection may vary from restaurant to restaurant, but the melt in your mouth flavor stays. The style of cooking brings out the meat’s flavor. It is perhaps the only style of steak that doesn’t need steak sauce.

Rack of Lamb is the best choice for those of you that can’t eat pork or beef. Getting it Middle-Eastern-style is best, but Indian-style works too. Outback Steakhouse (which is the best place for non-chicken meats) makes it well too, with great Australian Flavor. Any of these styles gives it a spiced flavor; not necessarily spicy, but a nice spiced flavor. Because this food really varies from restaurant to restaurant, I can’t say that much about it.

Fillet Mignon, is generally a little pricey but worth it. The beef is always high quality, and the bacon is generally too. For good Fillet Mignon, my suggestion is to order from Omaha Steaks. But, be warned, if ordering by mail, pins are put in to keep steak together and bacon on the steak.

Alligator, a rather exotic meat, which is sold a lot near Louisiana and Florida, is incredible. It is a chunky meat that tastes a bit like chicken. I’m not sure what sauce could work for it, but it is fun to experiment with. With alligator populations going down, this should only really be a once or twice in a lifetime food.

Buffalo meat is incredible. Like alligator, overhunting could get rid of the animal for everyone. It is good spiced, but just tastes good normally. I would say that buffalo is the best meat ever. Though, only a good cook can make it properly.

Spicy Chicken Sandwich is a very good food. It’s always crispy and delicious, but the spiciness can range. Find out about the “heat level” before you get it, because it can be super mild to moderately spicy.

Buffalo Chicken Wings are perhaps the best specialty wing. Or at least at one point they were in Buffalo, NY, but they’ve spread everywhere. I don’t know what’s better. the sauce or the actual wing. Beware, if you buy it frozen, it can give you food poisoning and make you barf. I say that from experience, only eat them fresh.

These are just my personal favorites, if I missed anything then please comment.

The next section only covers chain-restaurants.

For Fried Chicken:
Church’s’ Chicken (best, or so I’ve heard)
Kentucky Fried Chicken (most common)
Popeye’s (unhealthiest, but my personal favorite)

For Tandoori Chicken:
Palace of Asia
Tiffin

For Rack of Lamb:
Outback Steakhouse

Infamous Writer Kurt Vonnegut Leaves the World Remembered

Kurt Vonnegut Biography
by Nick Dahl

Kurt Vonnegut was a writer in the 1940’s all the way up to as recently as 2007. He was a very influential American writer, in genres such as science fiction, black comedy, and satire. He was also the author of many great essays, which have now been put into great collections. He wrote all the way up until the day he died, always a great role model to all sorts of writers and celebrities today from Bill Bryson to Douglas Adams. Honorary head of the American Humanist Association and writer of such great books as “Slaughterhouse 5” and “Cat’s Cradle” this is a basic overview of his life and career.

Kurt Vonnegut was born on November 11, 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Kurt Vonnegut Sr. and Edith Lieber. His older brother was named Bernard Vonnegut who later grew up to discover artificial precipitation. With his grandfather and father in architecture, they wanted him to major in the study of architecture to take over his dad’s company, Vonnegut and Bohn. Not wishing to do so, he went to Shortridge High School. After completing his time there he decided to go to Cornell University, at which point he was majoring in chemistry, the following fall. Despite his classes being more in the sciences there he was also the Managing Editor of the school published newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun. Even though he was a decent student, Vonnegut decided that he would enlist in the army, instead of staying the course at Cornell University. The U.S. army then transferred him to Carnegie Institute of Technology and, after he finished that the University of Tennessee so that he could now major in Mechanical Engineering to assist him in his stay in the army.

Now being ready and trained properly to be in the army, Kurt was sent of to be in World War II. Upon arrival he was set up in the 423rd Infantry Regiment. After a few successful missions he and his crew went to the Battle of the Bulge. After the backup of Kurt’s regiment were cut off and ran away from the battlefield, they were alone and forced to fight. The 423rd regiment was captured and became prisoners of war, stuck in Dresden by the Nazi’s.

Because of his knowledge of how to speak German, Kurt was elected to become the leader of the POW’s. After taunting the guards about what was going to happen when they were saved he was beaten and was forced to resign from his position. They were then stored in the basement of an old slaughterhouse, which the Germans referred to as “Slaughterhouse Five”. This whole nightmarish experience was later the topic of his best selling novel “Slaughterhouse Five” and many other books that he wrote in his career. The Americans, not knowing of the prisoners being held there, bombed Dresden, the city where Kurt Vonnegut and his allies were being held. It was taken apart to rubble and almost all of the civilians died, but being trapped in the basement of a sturdy meat house, Kurt and his buddies survived. The Germans, needing someone to gather all of the dead bodies, put them to work breaking into buildings and taking away the corpses. Finally, after more suffering and torment the Red Army Troops saved him from capture. He was later awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery in the horrid situations he found himself.

After leaving the army he returned to school to get a degree so he could rebuild his life post World War II. He attended the University of Chicago while writing for a local newspaper, the “City News Bureau of Chicago”. He wasn’t given any big stories, just the ones to fill in the space between big ones. Some teachers were saying that he was not good enough and that he couldn’t make a living off of this. Continuing study for his school, he moved out to the city of Schenectady, New York. There he worked with General Electric because his brother worked in the same company and was able to get him a job.  In his spare time worked as a part-time volunteer fireman for the station right by his house.  After a while of not taking books Vonnegut had previously written for publication but would later on be publicized such as Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan. His school, the University of Chicago, accepted his book “Cat’s Cradle” and gave him the M.A. degree that he wanted in the year 1971.

Kurt Vonnegut very briefly worked with the magazine “Sports Illustrated”, where he got bored, goofed off, and quit his job. After considering very strongly quitting writing altogether, he was offered a job at the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop. After taking it, he continued writing in his spare time and produced such great hits as “Slaughterhouse Five”. He then again moved to Narnstable, Massachusetts where he managed a Saab dealership. Kurt continued to write such novels as Deadeye Dick and Breakfast of Champions and, after a failed suicide attempt he continued and wrote many science fiction books. Many of his later books either had him incorporated into the book or a character, which was supposed to be him named Kilgore Trout. He would often have the characters talk to him, as thought they were saying how they didn’t like how the story was going. In 1997, after the publication of his book Timequake, Kurt said that he was retiring from writing fiction books. He wrote a few non-fiction books and then retired for good after teaching at Harvard University for a short spell. He passed away on April 11, 2010.

There’s More to Chocolate than Hersheys

by Jessica Lu
Food Critic

Almost everyone thinks that Hershey chocolate is great, but it’s not very nice tasting in my opinion. Most of us only know of big companies like Hershey and Lindt. I think Lindt is better than Hershey, but it is still mediocre compared to some European chocolates. In the best chocolates, the taste dissolves quickly. This is because the chocolates that dissolve faster have smoother textures.

In this author’s opinion, Hershey chocolate is barely chocolate. If you tried melting a Hershey kiss in the oven it wouldn’t work, and it would just become dry and crumbly. If you tried just leaving it in your mouth to melt, without chewing it, it will not melt for a while. Good chocolate melts in your mouth within a minute.  You shouldn’t chew it unless there are nuts or caramel. Hershey mostly sells milk chocolate. So, if it is milk chocolate, dark chocolate from other companies should melt slower than their milk chocolate because it has milk and cream in it, but it doesn’t. Also Hershey’s “special dark” isn’t even dark chocolate, it’s just looks dark. Their “special dark” is sweeter than their milk chocolate. Good dark chocolate has just enough sugar and milk so that it’s not bitter, but not sweet. Hershey just makes all their chocolate so that they will please kids, who like sweetness. While doing this they stopped creating good, genuine chocolate.

Also, everyone says that chocolate is made of cocoa beans, when actually it comes from cacao beans. Cocoa is the powder used to make hot chocolate. Chocolate is made from Chocolate liqueur, chocolate butter, sugar, and milk. There are several types of chocolate unsweetened, semi-sweet, bittersweet, sweetened, milk, and white. White chocolate is technically not chocolate, because there isn’t any chocolate in it.

Here’s a table of well-known chocolate makers and how I rate their chocolate.

Hershey 3
Lindt 5.75
Dove 4.5
Ferrero Rocher 7
Ghirardelli 7

On the table above I rated Lindt as 5.75 because it’s a good  basic chocolate, but it doesn’t have the smooth texture of the finest chocolate. I put Dove as 4.5 because it doesn’t taste bad, but doesn’t melt well. Ferrero Rocher and Ghirardelli( both Italian chocolates) were even because Ferrero Rocher has good texture, and Ghirardelli melts quickly and tastes good.

Some ways that you can judge chocolate is by:
1. How quickly it melts
– In the oven
– In your mouth

2. How smooth it is
– Does the taste go away quickly, or just stay there

Now that you know a bit more about chocolate, go get a taste of chocolate and don’t chew.

Festival of lights review

The Festival of Lights, a Middle School Tradition

By Gabe Buyske

When one hears the expression “festival of lights” it conjures up pictures of well…. festivals. But the Festival of lights here at GFS was so much more. Whether it was “Let it Be” performed on stage or “Lean on Me” or even the simple beauty of the decoration  that pulled it together. I for one enjoyed the speeches about the holidays and the many wonderful musical numbers. I would also like to point out that it seemed everyone performed. And they performed so well it made small mess ups funny. I literally laughed out loud when such comedies occurred like the pronunciation of Sleipnir (slap-ner).  Or when the cape of the eight dancing woman fell off in 12 days of Christmas. When I talk it sounds like there was only music but there was something for everyone. There were speeches, interpretive dances, and a magnificent finale of “this little light of mine”. I sincerely hope you agree with me on how wondrous this performance was. If you did see it you will definitely understand me and if you didn’t then you have missed a once-in-a-lifetime event….until next year that is!