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by Jake Hayes

Every year since 1988, EA sports has dished out this virtual football game featuring new roster updates and game modes.Twenty-seven years later, Madden 16 offers a fresh take on offense. The power of the game is truly in the hands of the user this year, allowing for multiple weapons to be added to the player’s arsenal.

The user on offense can now choose how the wide receivers and tight ends catch the ball to ensure a successful pass. Say your wide receiver breaks ahead of the cornerback and is wide open. By tapping the square button, the user is allowing for the wide receiver to RAC (Run After Catch). This option is perfect for players who are completely open and are looking for major yard gains. Another new option is the aggressive catch, which can be used by clicking the triangle button. This comes in handy when trying to catch the ball under double coverage. The final addition to Madden 16’s offensive is the possession catch. This is the route to take if you’re looking for a first down and trying to play it safe.

At first glance, all these options sound perfect, but with each option comes its own Achilles heel. RAC can often give the safety the opportunity to intercept the ball. Aggressive catches allow the player to jump straight into the air to get the ball, but it can open the player up to injuries. The only negative side to possession passes is that the player typically catches the ball standing still.

One small, but important feature would be a new skill available to running backs. By holding the L1 button, players are now able to squeeze between defenders. This is extremely useful, whether it’s third and short or trying to run down the clock. I’ve never been very good at running the ball in past years, but this is different. Being able to squeeze between the line allows for even someone of my skill level to make major plays.

One feature that Madden 16 can improve upon for next year is its commentary. Phil Simms has been the same repetitive voice over the years. This doesn’t necessarily ruin the game for me, but it deserves to be mentioned because no game is perfect. Another feature that could be better is the graphics of the game. This being my first Madden on ps4, I expected better graphics than what was delivered.

Madden 16, in general, is a terrific game overall and a great addition to my Madden collection. If I had to choose between a new commentator and graphics or the new mechanics, mechanics would win every time.The offense now has all sorts of new ways to surprise the defense and bring the ball in for a touchdown.


+Reimagined offense                          -Repetitive commentary

+More make-it-or-break-it moments  -Same graphics

+Running backs                                                                                                     8.9/10                               

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The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who during "Santa For a Day." | by


by Dakota Antelman

Despite minor qualms with the ensemble performance, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which just wrapped up a five performance run at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, manages to engage not only its young patrons, but also their parents and older relatives.

The musical, written by Timothy Mason and directed in Worcester by Matt August, follows the classic storyline of Dr. Seuss’ book of the same name. The Grinch (Stephan Karl) embarks on a mission to end Christmas for the peppy Whos who live in a town near his mountain cave. Upon meeting the innocent Cindy-Lou Who, however, the Grinch softens and triumphantly returns the presents and decorations he stole.

While the show is obviously directed towards its younger viewers, the performance does not leave adults feeling unfulfilled. Rather, the brilliant costumes, cartoonish accents, storybook sets, and remarkably immersive acting capture any and every eye.

Stefan Karl brings a glorious personality into the character of the Grinch. He walks a fine line between the animalistic and human, once even descending down the proscenium of the stage, with the mannerisms of a spider.

The sets figure in strongly with Karl’s performance as well. There are moments where Karl seems both a part and apart from the sets behind him as well. In his entrance scene, his cave belches green smoke out onto the stage before him, setting out a mystical carpet for him to sulk and ooze down as he first introduces his comedic quirks and Anti-Christmas sentiments to the audience.

The light design, organized by Pat Collins, is key in the Grinch’s scenes. Each time he appears in front of the audience, the stage is instantly bathed in overwhelming green light. Fog chases the Grinch almost wherever he goes, while discreet shoe level lights seem to illuminate said fog at every opportunity. But rather than being outshone by such accessories, Karl retains his character’s human qualities. He is able to keep crowd members constantly engaged by his multilayered performance.

All and all, the fourth wall does not stand in this production. Time and time again, Karl in particular thrusts his craggy fingers at audience members, barking any variation of “I hate Christmas because of you!” His openness serves as perhaps the biggest reason this production is so palatable to such a wide range of audience members. This openness is never more appreciated than during the soaring tearjerker of a number that is “Santa for a Day.” While such a song might otherwise threaten to alienate the average grade school student, Karl, at one point, momentarily breaks from the heavy material and groans, “Oh no, a ballad!”

Karl’s scene partner in that scene, five-year-old Cindy-Lou Who (Aviva Winick), spends much of the play as the adorable antidote to the Grinch’s pessimism. She sets herself apart from the Who ensemble by turning a minor character in Dr. Seuss’ book into a classic wise-beyond-her-years individual. Winick sings about there being more to Christmas than the gifts she might get. She lectures the crotchety Grinch about love and his own lonely life with a sympathetic and objective tone that is certainly unique to a five year old. When The Grinch returns, she is the child who runs forward to sing about individuality with him.

Old Max (Bob Lauder), the story’s gray and wary narrator, is the antagonist to Cindy-Lou Who’s unburdened youth. He tells the story with sadness and embarrassment at what the Grinch did. He tells Seuss’ story like a war story and draws an at times bleak lens over the whimsy taking place behind him, particularly as he talks of the night where he and The Grinch actually stole the Whos’ presents.

Unfortunately, Lauder does often seem stranded on the stage. Though his voice is robust, this awkward blocking is never more glaring than when he sings “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch Reprise.” He finds himself darting in between Young Max (Matt Weinstein) and The Grinch, dodging presents the two are throwing to each other. He ends up crowding his scene partners, which seems to detract from the iconic song he sings. Lauder is able to make up for these issues nonetheless with his wonderfully gruff vocal style which he showcases regularly in his musical numbers.

Likewise, while the Who Ensemble does at times seem hollow, they are redeemed by the brilliant sets designed by John Lee Beatty, which are the most eye-catching when illuminated by the warm red light that follows the Whos. These sets bring Dr. Seuss’ original book of How the Grinch Stole Christmas to life. It is as if the brushstrokes on the towering wooden sets of the show are perfect echoes of the very brushstrokes that Seuss drew onto letter size paper when he penned his original book nearly 60 years ago.

Overall, this show resonates with even the most mature. It harkens back to times of childish innocence while concurrently speaking to themes of social struggle and loneliness. This show rounds itself out with ideas of magic and wonder. At the center of it all is one transformative man in green fur and a ruffled and stained red Santa coat.

While the Grinch may not steal Christmas, he certainly does steal this show!

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by Rocco Malloy

The highly anticipated sequel to the well-known movie Pitch Perfect was released on May 15, 2015. Anyone who has seen the first movie couldn’t wait for the release of Pitch Perfect 2. As much as I would like to pretend I wasn’t excited for the sequel, I definitely was. The first movie was hilarious, so I could only imagine what the second one was going to be like. I personally enjoyed this movie, as I did the first. This sequel was not like most. It was almost better than the first one.

Following the Barden Bellas, the first all-female acappella group to win a national title, the movie is a musical comedy that leaves you wishing you could sing so that you could be in an acapella group, too. The movie opens with a performance by the Bellas in front of hundreds of people, including President Obama. The performance is amazing, as usual, until something goes terribly wrong. They are suspended as an acapella group leaving them devastated as they are a group of seniors who want to finish out the year by winning another national title. To regain their status and right to perform, they make a deal that if they enter an international competition that no American group has ever won, and actually win, that they are no longer suspended.

The movie was, as expected, hilarious just like the first one. The characters were just as funny, if not more funny as they were in the first movie. There were a few new characters that brought a little more to the table. Since it is a sequel, there had to be a few new characters. The movie did a great job at tying in characters from the first movie when you would least expect it. The best part about sequel movies is that it is basically a reunion for the audience and even the actors.

Pitch Perfect 2 was neither worse nor better than the first one. Sequels can either be completely awful compared to the first movie, or sometimes people like the second movie better than the first. But when it comes to Pitch Perfect, both movies were uniquely hilarious, entertaining and unpredictable (for the most part). The second movie, however, was a lot less predictable than the first movie. You never really knew where the movie was going or what was going to happen. I think a little of that had to do with the advertising not giving away too much of the plot, but also a lot to do with the script and storyline.

I would definitely suggest seeing this movie for anyone looking to have a good laugh, but also watch some pretty great performances. The international accapella groups were extremely entertaining, and honestly, incredible. If I was a movie critic, I would give this movie “two thumbs up.”

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by David Ferguson

The digg app, a spin-off of the popular, is an easy way to browse the most popular stories on the internet. With its sheek black and white design, the digg app allows users to quickly scroll through the most shared articles and videos on the web at a given time. Each post includes the article/video title, the article/video’s source, and the number of likes.

DiggBecause digg is a culmination of the most populars stories of the day, there are a wide variety of topics covered on the site; the different categories, include politics, music, funny, design, business, art, and many more. The wide variety of topics covered and sources of information on the site means there is something for everyone; there is everything from Saturday Night Live skits to articles on Chinese food to scientific articles on the Darwin fish. One downfall of the app, is that brief descriptions of each article or video are not provided, while these summaries are included on the website.

DiggThe simplicity of the digg app may be the app’s greatest upside. Swipe the article/video to the left and you are given three options: like the piece, bookmark the piece for later, or message/e-mail the piece to a friend. Swipe the page to the right and there are four categories: top stories, video, diggs, and saved. The top stories tab allows the user to view the top articles and videos on the internet at that time. The video section allows the user to see the top videos on the web at that time. The diggs tab allows the user to view the articles he or she has liked and the saved tab allows users to see the articles/videos that they have bookmarked, which is especially useful because digg continually updates throughout the day and articles can move through the site quickly.

The digg website and the digg app are perfect for anyone interested in up to date and fascinating cultural, scientific, and entertainment news.

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Brolin's character restraining Winslet's as her son is forced to distracts a neighbor.

by Kaylie Blais

The first interaction between Winslet's and Brolin's characters when taken hostage in her house.
This is the first interaction between Winslet’s and Brolin’s characters when she is taken hostage in her house.

Labor Day is not worth your money or your time. If all you care about is the actors, watch them in a different movie because this has major plot and character problems.

An escaped convict (Brolin) takes Adele (Winslet) and her son hostage and makes them hide him from the cops over Labor Day weekend. During this three-four day stay, Brolin and Winslet’s characters fall in love.

The random placements of flashbacks of a young man and a young woman together seem unnecessary. These flashbacks though useful to seeing Frank’s past (a.k.a. his crime) have no impact on the current timeline in the movie because Brolin’s character (Frank) never confronts or talks about his past with Winslet’s character (Adele). This makes no sense to me. When a convict is in your house bonding with your son, you never think to ask him what he did to wind up in jail.

Another questionable plot point is Adele’s son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) and his discovery of girls. Not only did this have no relation to the main plot, but it is not believable. This thirteen year old has a convicted murderer in his house, and at night instead of fearing for his life, he’s thinking about a girl’s see-through shirt or how to get a girlfriend the next day. I don’t care if hormones are kicking this character should fear for his life. This subplot belonged in a coming of age movie targeted at teenagers not a movie about love developing between a man who takes a woman and her son hostage.

That being said there were some things that were okay about the movie. Adele and her son have a strong bond (at least in the beginning) that you would expect between a mother and a son. There were a lot of moments that you would expect a parent and a child to show. Henry worried about being abandoned when Adele and Frank transformed into a couple. Adele worried about Henry not having a constant father figure in his life and her shame that he had to take care of her instead of the other way around.

However once they got comfortable around Frank, Adele and Henry were able to individually bond with Frank, and the three characters were able to have a comfortable and loving bond with each other(if you ignore the fact that they knew each other for three days and one member  had just escaped prison). That family atmosphere made the love between Frank and Adele more believable. When Adele first met Frank, he had adopted a threatening manner towards her son, and it was during this time that Adele hid a kitchen knife on her person as protection for her and her son. However as Frank adopted a more fatherly attitude towards Henry by playing baseball and cooking with him, Adele fell so in love with him she agreed to flee for Canada with Frank and take Henry with them. Still a little hard to believe (especially after only three days) but it added a little depth to their relationship that could offer a little support to this decision.

The one thing that was great about this movie was Winslet’s portrayal of her character’s struggle with depression after her husband left her when she miscarried for the fourth time. In a take with a close up of her hands, Adele’s are never steady, and she often stammers over her words. You see her struggling to get out of bed in the morning and stuttering over her sentences when she feels stressed. She’s withdrawn from everyone around her besides her son. When she does venture out of her house, it’s clear that she hasn’t interacted with anyone in a long time by their surprise at seeing her. I thought her portrayal was spot on and the only silver lining for this movie.

Unfortunately one woman’s acting can’t carry a whole movie, and I rate this a C with the recommendation that you not put this movie at the top of your list.

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by Alexa Duplisea

The Voice

If it’s Monday or Tuesday night, check out The Voice on NBC. Most people are skeptical about reality shows, but The Voice is a highly rated show. Different from X Factor, American Idol and other talent\singing shows, the singers on this show get coached throughout the season on how to become great singers on stage.

Each celebrity judge at the beginning of the season chooses a group of auditioning singers to mentor. Throughout the show the celebrity running their group teaches them how to better their performances. Every singer is unique, and the artists always say for the singer to find themselves in the music and become more confident singing on stage.

The celebrity singers on this show – Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher, and Blake Shelton –  are all talented singers. Each artist has had a singing career for a while, and they have all had great singles like Usher with “Scream” and Shelton with “Honey Bee.” They know how to capture an audience and fans with their voice. Also since they have been in the business for at least 3 years each, they know what songs people are capable of singing, what works for each singer and how to really show your audience yourself in the music.

At the beginning of the show when Shakira and her team sang “Stand by You,” Shakira sounded amazing. This show chose the right celebrity singers. They are diverse, from country to pop, and from hometown boy Shelton to international sensation Shakira.

On this week’s elimination episode each celebrity singer performed with their teammates. Sasha Allen and Kris Thomas sang with Shakira, and they made it sound like they have sung together for years. It was absolutely my favorite performance of the night.

By the end of the show the Swon Brothers and Josiah Howley were eliminated.

This show is worth watching again. Overall I give it 4 stars and plan to keep on watching and staying up to date on who stays on the show and who gets eliminated.


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by Alexa Duplisea



Secrets aren’t impossible to keep, but for how long can a person keep such a big secret, like an affair with the President of the United States or being part of a team that rigged the presidential election? If you are Olivia Pope, you have to keep both of these secrets. The hit show Scandal knows how to create drama and suspense.

Scandal, which plays on ABC on Thursday nights at 10pm, is a captivating show. It focuses on a group of people that call themselves “The Gladiators.” During the first show of the series, this team rigs the presidential elections to have President Fitzgerald Grant, or Fitz, put into office, but now they have to keep their secret. That certainly generated suspense in the show as viewers wondered when they were going to get caught and by whom. To keep their secret safe, they have to lock up and hide the device that holds all their secrets to rigging the election. Someone is after their secrets, and they have to keep “the mole” from getting the device.

The other big secret is the affair between Fitz and Olivia. Only Cyrus, Fitz’s close personal assistant, and Fitz’s wife, Mellie Grant, know about the affair. I was shocked when she didn’t tell everyone right away. Even though a man was investigating Mellie and trying to get her to reveal the name of Fitz’s mistress, she never once gave the name away.

About halfway through the show, Harrison Wright, Olivia’s coworker, reveals that he knows about Olivia’s affair. He will keep the secret if she stops the affair, so it will put the president and his love life out of the press. Olivia is handling this situation very well, and she acts like she has everything under control. She does lose control when she is telling Fitz that he has to keep his presidency or for the rest of her life she would feel like it was her fault.

Olivia and her team need to keep the president out of the newspapers because of his biggest secret, the rigged election. I wanted people to find out that they rigged the election because I wanted to see what might have happened in the show. Unfortunately, the show ended before that happened.

I loved the suspense, but with all the different problems going on at one time it made it hard to follow along. Who was the mole? Why was this person going to be killed? Who is following this man? It was hard even to put a name to all the faces because there were so many characters in this show. Scandal is definitely a show that you have to watch every episode in every season or you would be lost.


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Why is reality television taking over America? Because fantasy has dried up, and we need a new trend. It used to be that people had guilty pleasures that involved large amounts of science fiction, like cult favorites Doctor Who, but those types of shows are becoming more and more uncommon and reality TV is becoming more of the norm.

Every Monday and Sunday night I spend valuable time in front of my TV watching one of the many Real Housewives of… franchises. When the two hour finale of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was on, I spent the full two hours glued to my television.

“Why are you watching this?” I asked myself. I began to think of all the things that kept me coming back week after week.

The money. While we are living in a recession, and many, including myself, are unable to spend outrageous amounts of money on lavish parties or second homes, it’s nice to see those who can. These are women of all different backgrounds, races, and professions, and they have all figured out a way to make a living for themselves. And trust me, it’s a good living. There is an odd enjoyment in watching those with privilege get what they want.

A main argument against reality television, and The Real Housewives in particular, is that these shows lack artistic expression, but nobody is watching Lisa Vanderpump spend millions of dollars on a dinner party for the art of it all. It’s simply an indulgence. It’s easy to watch wealthy women fight because it isn’t relatable  We, as an audience, do not need, or want, to think about our real life problems. It’s healthy to get away from the stress you experience every day.

Also we know it isn’t real. Keeping up with the Kardashians is probably scripted, as is Housewives, the next American Idol has probably already been chosen. Who cares? I don’t.

Mindless television serves a purpose. It doesn’t matter what show or format you prefer, whether it is the dating shows like The Bachelor, the high stakes competition shows like Survivor,  talent shows like The X Factor, or famous for being famous shows like The Real Housewives.  And I think the sooner people realize that, the sooner we can stop talking about television and start talking about real issues, like who will be the Next Top Model… kidding!


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by Alexa Duplisea


Dancing With the Stars

I am no professional dancer, but while watching Dancing with The Stars, I just want to get up and shake my hips (not a pretty sight). This is definitely going to be on my list of good shows to watch.

Tuesday night at 9 p.m. was the results show for Monday night’s performances. Even though I was not able to see all the dances, the show gave a summary of the dances that were performed the night before. This gave me the opportunity to see the highlights and mistakes of each couple’s dance.

The best dance chosen by the fans was the jive, performed by Disney Channel star Zendaya Colemen and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy. The dance is fast paced and involves more quick feet movement than most styles of dancing. I was wishing that I could be Zendaya out there dancing around in that gold flapper dress. The couple earned a 26 out of 30 from  judges Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Len Goodman, for their almost perfect performance  As Bruno put it, “A star is born big time!” Zendaya will definitely be seen on next week’s episode.

In this results show, the viewers eliminated one of the 12 couples by the end of the night. To extend the show, they had performances by Icona Pop singing, “I Love It,” a personal favorite of mine, and singer Josh Groban performed also.

Three couples sweat it out in jeopardy, waiting to see who among them would be eliminated; Dorthy Hamill and her partner Tristan MacManus had to drop out of the competition due to Dorthy’s serious back problems. So all the couples that were in jeopardy were safe, until the following week.

As much as I enjoyed this show, I think it would have been more enjoyable if I had watched Monday night’s performances. I really wish I had gotten to see each dance because the summary of the dances made me wish I saw all of them.

For someone who enjoys shows with real people and awesome dances, then this show is perfect. But to enjoy this show, a person should watch on Monday and Tuesday nights. Overall, I give this show 5 out of 5 stars!

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After Seth MacFarlane made viewers of the 2013 Oscars laugh and cringe, rumors have already started flying about who will be the next host of Hollywood’s biggest night!

When MacFarlane stated that he would never return to host the Oscars, many began to consider who would take on the heavy task of hosting the award show.

When people began to speculate that SNL alumni Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would try to host the telecast, Fey said that she would be honored to be asked but had no real interest in being a hostess for Hollywood’s biggest night. Thank goodness! Fey and Poehler did well as Golden Globe awards hosts, but they lack the prestige that the Oscars demands. Both actresses have had lead roles in films, but nothing that has earned them any real traction in the world of cinema. Sometimes you are meant to stay on TV; the sooner Fey and Poehler learn this the better.

Somebody who has gained a lot of respect from her peers is the fabulous young starlet Emma Stone who has wowed audiences from films such as The Help, Easy A, or Super-bad. Stone could easily be the hostess with the mostess. A good companion for Stone would be another young starlet who has not only been praised by her peers but the the Academy herself.  Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence has shown her class, charm, and humor in various films such as The Silver Linings Playbook, Winters Bone, and The Hunger Games. They would be able to keep the youthful viewers MacFarlane was able to bring in while maintaining the class of the Oscars. I’ve got to say I totally ship this host pairing.