Category: Arts & Entertainment

Bands and big batches of beans, beef

TIM PEPPER
Arts & Entertainment

Music, chili and crowd surfing. And all for 18 bucks! What better way to spend an overcast Saturday?
Richmond’s rock station XL 102 held their annual Chili Cook-Off this weekend at the Richmond International Raceway and it was a blast, to say the least. With numerous stands handing out free chili samples, as well as others selling other carnival delicacies, and an excessive amount of locally-brewed beer, the Chili Cook-Off had all of its bases covered.
Headlining this year’s event were bands: Panic! at the Disco, A Day to Remember, and Seether, as well as local bands: The Hold Steady, Kongos, The Orwells, and Fun Size.
“All of the bands were fantastic, but Panic! at the Disco’s lead singer, Brendon Urie, really stole the show with a backflip and some unexpected screaming,” said freshman Stephanie Gotschall. “Screaming isn’t something the band is known for, so it was an unexpected, but welcome, surprise.”
Panic! at the Disco is a pop punk band from Las Vegas, Nevada. They were founded in 2004 and have been making music consistently ever since. Their debut studio album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” (2005), put them on the charts with the single “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” on the top ten lead singles that year and leading to a more awards for the album in the future. The band is most well-known for their single “Nine in the Afternoon” and is adored by fans nationwide.
A Day to Remember is a band from Ocala, Florida and tends to swing between the metalcore and pop punk genres. It was founded in 2003 and is most well-known for the song “The Downfall of Us All” from their album Homesick (2009). The band has been touring since their debut and released their most recent album, Common Courtesy in 2013.
Seether, a South American band founded in 1999, was very popular at this year’s Chili Cook-Off. The crowd was suddenly filled with hundreds of middle aged parents as this post-grunge alternative rock band took the stage. This band is most well-known for their songs “Broken,” “Remedy,” and “Fake It,” which have all hit top lists at one point or another.
The chili, provided by multiple local restaurants such as Famous Dave’s, was very popular and disappeared shortly after the event started. The beer, on the other hand, remained throughout the event and many fans could be seen stumbling through the crowd in a drunken stupor.
All in all, the 2014 XL 102 Chili Cook-Off was a fantastic experience, its fans hope it will continue to be just as good, if not better, in the future.

Chew! Chew!

GLEN ROSE
Staff Writer

Are your final papers and exams starting to stress out you or your significant other? Well, I have a place for you two to go together. It’s called Press 626. Tucked into downtown Ghent, this restaurant is built into a house and has a very charming feeling to it.
You’re welcomed in by nice lighting, especially during the day, and a mix of smells including cheeses, wine and all the food they’re cooking for the other patrons.
When you get to your seat, your water is brought in a used wine bottle and poured into a recycled, re-purposed wine bottle cut into a cup. This is just one of the things that gives you the rustic feeling that the restaurant seems to strive so hard to keep.
Press 626 was awarded “Best Grilled Cheese in the State,” which is what got me in the door. This seems a lofty claim, especially from a wine bar.
The grilled cheese sandwich has Vermont cheddar, Swiss, pepper jack, and goat cheeses, all on sourdough bread. When you first hear all of those cheese types, you may be thrown off, since a lot of those are very strongly-flavored cheeses, especially the goat cheese and Swiss. Even though these cheeses are strong, you don’t lose the flavor of any of them in the sandwich. Every bite is like a full cheese plate.
Sandwiches are accompanied by fries that seem to be freshly made. Other sandwiches available, besides grilled cheese, are a grilled veggie and cheese sandwich, a salmon BLT, and a sandwich that can have steak or a large Portobello mushroom on it. Many of these sandwiches come with Sriracha Mayo, which sounds great.
So if you’re looking for a place to have a date night or lunch with your girlfriend or boyfriend, that won’t break your wallet in half, this is is the place for you.
It is located on the intersection of Colley Avenue and Olney Road, in downtown Norfolk near the Hague neighborhood.

Superhero movies still soar

TROY AUBUT
Staff Writer

Nothing beats watching a superhero movie when you can do it with friends, do it for the eye candy, or do it for the story. Some fans and moviegoers may have noticed, though, that it seems as if superhero movies have been coming out on a larger scale recently, and there seems to be at least five superhero movies playing almost every year since 2000.
With “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” playing in theaters now, the next superhero movies to come out this year are “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” on May 2, “X-Men:Days of Future Past” on May 23, and then “Guardians of the Galaxy” on Aug. 1.
“Captain America:The Winter Soldier” has been getting good reviews for its thrilling storyline and has been in second place in the box office for the year of 2014, with a total gross of almost $170 million. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, and Dane DeHaan, has already been released internationally and will be coming to the U.S. next month, bringing a unique plot and multiple villains all in one.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” will also be coming next month with roles being reprised by various actors and actresses from earlier installments. It will be about the superhero ensemble joining forces with their past selves to save their future.
Finally, “Guardians of the Galaxy” will be coming out later this summer and will bring with it a new set of interesting characters familiar to many avid comic book readers, but unknown to moviegoers, to add on to the large story of the Marvel cinematic universe.
So what’s up with all these superhero movies coming out in bulk? “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel,” “The Wolverine,” and “Thor:The Dark World” came out last year, and each garnered a good amount of attention. “The Wolverine” is an example of a superhero movie that relies heavily on one single actor to make the character seem believable. In this case, it is Hugh Jackman who does this for the great enjoyment of fans.
There are many reasons that could be responsible for the success of superhero movies according to various websites. Word and Film.com points to the use of technology like CGI, which makes the movies seem realistic and actually complement the movies as well.
Wired.com points to the idea that some of the movies feature iconic characters played by amazing actors and actresses who seem to make the movies a success. WiseGeek.com states that these movies inspire and bring hope to those who look around the world and don’t see a lot of good;these movies can serve as a form of escape from the world around us nowadays.
AMC Movie News not only states some of the above reasons, but also states that superhero movies are successful because of the large amounts of sources that Hollywood can draw from, which also happen to be the sources that fans and moviegoers recognize.

Less money, more music

ANDREW MULLEN
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Popular music-streaming site Spotify decreases cost of premium account for college students

Digital music has become increasingly popular since the mass rotation and sale of devices like the iPod, and back in the day, the Zune. Since music has become so easily bought and stolen, physical copies of CD’s or vinyls are less prominent in dorm rooms and homes across the world. There have been many sites that have become faces for online radio, and are more widely used than even iTunes nowadays.
Spotify, Pandora, last.fm and bandcamp have become among the most well-known and widely used sources of online music. Each of these services uses a music genome program that matches the pace, rhythm, style and tone of the music station the user picks in order to randomize bands and songs to introduce new artists into the everyday library of the user.
These services are usually free. However, each services offers a premium memership which has add-ons that the free versions do not offer.
To give a quick rundown of the most popular sites and what they are and do, it is important to know that each has a website version, a desktop application and a mobile app. The mobile version of Spotify allows the use of radio and an artist shuffle, but not access to the playlists that can be saved and listened to anytime on a computer. Pandora is similar in that the mobile app is purely the radio function, but the browser offers a lot more functionality and preference-tweaking. Paying for a premium account, paying for it, allows the full services of Spotify to be accessed on a phone, anytime and anywhere.
However, nobody wants to pay money for music anymore. To remedy this, Spotify has bitten the bullet and acknowledged that college students are more likely to pirate music than they are to continue listening to advertisements on their radio station every few minutes. In order to bring in more users, Spotify has officially lowered their cost for the premium accounts from $10.00 a month to $5.00 for all college students. This discount will also apply to those who already have accounts at the full price.
To offer a service like Spotify for a cheaper price than just about any other popular music radio site is an excellent deal for most people. Considering that monthly fees can be dangerous for college students, since they can creep up at inopportune times, having the price be reduced by half is fantastic news. With a premium account, there are no ads, unlimited songs and music selections, the ability to take your music collection around on your mobile device and elevated premium sound quality.
Since music has already made the mass transition into a fully digitized distribution process, it is not surprising that many websites allow smaller bands to freely post and share their music. Services like Spotify, Pandora, Bandcamp and Soundcloud all allow smaller bands to submit their discography to be circulated on radio stations, along with the ability to have their own profiles on the site.
Due to the popularity of the sites and the amount of traffic they receive each day both from mobile apps and browser access; it is no small wonder that many smaller, undiscovered bands long for their music to be hosted on one of these sites. To be able to be discovered, liked, followed and subscribed to is a testament to the way digitized music works, and the way a band gains notoriety nowadays.
By lowering the price range for a premium membership specifically for college students, it seems as though the idea was partially based on the idea that the younger age will elicit the need and want to discover new music instead of sticking with the old, stagnant favorites. By branching out and discovering new music, the customer will use the application or browser tool more often, making their overall popularity among college students higher. Not only does Spotify realize that college students are broke, they also realize that the demographic has an intense and sometimes insatiable need to discover new music. This spells good news for the company, the customer and the bands.
With the change in Spotify’s prices and policies, it is possible that more services like this will lower their prices for specific demographics that are more likely to subscribe to their services. The music business will not be going down the drain anytime soon and nor will the popularity of music radio.

Nostalgia and media

LASHAWNDA WHITE
Staff Writer

Animated memories from the past are being reborn into movies

Do you get that feeling of euphoria in the pit of your stomach when you hear that your favorite cartoons and books from your childhood have been modernized and made into a movie? I know I do.
In recent years, there has been an increasing rise in that phenomenon. Classic superhero cartoons like Superman, Batman and Spider-Man have made their way to the big screen over the years, continuing in their popularity. And those are just a few.
Many Marvel superheroes, such as Captain America, Iron Man and the X-Men, have made their way onto the big screen.
Freshman Destiny Banks said, “I think it was a good idea to make the old superhero cartoons into movies because my generation starts to get more interested, and we have something to share with our parents.”
The TV show “21 Jump Street” was made into a movie which was so successful that it is getting a sequel, “22 Jump Street.” “Transformers” has become one of the biggest summer blockbuster movies, with the fourth installment set for a June 27 release date. With so many old cartoons becoming more successful in theaters, it was no surprise when it was decided that the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series would become a movie starring the likes of Megan Fox.
But it’s not just old TV shows and cartoons that are being made into movies. Books are finding their way onto the silver screens, as well. The one book series that may come to your mind is “Harry Potter,” which has become one of the most successful movie franchises in years. The “Lord of the Rings” book series has also grown in popularity with its movie trilogies and now “The Hobbit,” which is the prequel, has been making waves in the theater. The “Ender’s Game” book series was released into theaters last year but did poorly, so it has not been decided yet whether there will be a sequel. Another book-based movie whose release is highly anticipated is “The Giver,” which is set for an Aug. 15 release date.
Freshman Syreetha Frye said, “I think it’s cool to see books made into movies, to see if the director of the movie depicted the character like the way I pictured it as I was reading.”
Overall, people like to see old cartoons re-birthed and books made into movies, because it brings back memories of their childhood. Movies based on books also give them actual faces to picture for the book characters they have grown to love.

Instant movies

EMILY GIBSON
Arts & Entertainment

Imagine a movie theater without the itchy seats or screaming children; instead, just you, a couple of friends, some snacks and the comfort of your own living space as you watch a movie on demand from your couch or bed.
Next year, the Student Government Association (SGA) and Residence Life plan to make this fantasy a reality for Virginia Wesleyan students by introducing Resident Select, a movie-streaming program that will offer unlimited access to a selection of movies to VWC residents.
Resident Select is the name of a program that allows a campus to set up its own channel, so that students living on that campus can access the channel and watch the movies available to them on demand.
Each month, 10 new movies will be selected for streaming on the Wesleyan campus, and the prior month’s movies will still be available until the current month ends.
“We will have approximately 20 movies available for viewing at any time because we keep movies for a second month after we first get them,” said ResLife director, Phillip Boyd, who proposed the Resident Select program to the SGA. “So if we have 10 movies in August, we’ll get another 10 movies in September, but we will still be able to watch the August movies until we get the new movies for October. In October we would still have September’s movies, and so on.”
The movie database on the site includes an archive of older movies, but also some newer releases that will be available for streaming on college campuses months before they will be released through Netflix or Redbox.
Steven Bond, the SGA president, is currently working on bringing the program to Virginia Wesleyan.
“It’s recent movies, but we can select older movies as well. But it’s the new movies that they advertise,” said Bond. “That’s what makes their program nice for college campuses.”
If the program gets approved, movies would be selected by SGA, ResLife and the student body.
“Ideally, this would be a collaboration between Residence Life, WAC, SGA and voting directly from residential students,” said Boyd. “This is going to be based on student demand. We will work out the mechanics of the movie selection process once we have secured the product for our students.”
Virginia Wesleyan’s WiFi connection has had problems with streaming programs, such as Netflix, making the connection run slower. The Resident Select program runs on a different server, since it is an on-demand type of service, and therefore will not have a negative impact on the Internet.
“The good thing about this program is they build a server for this campus and when students go on this website, it doesn’t affect the school’s Internet at all, so I’m hoping that this will be another alternative for Netflix because Netflix is a huge problem here because so many people are on it and it slows down our WiFi,” said Bond. “So, I’m hoping people will go on this a little more than Netflix.”
The program will cost residents an additional $8-10 annually on their room and board fee, which will give them unlimited access to the movies on demand.
“So, basically, it’s really cheap,” said Bond.
Virginia Wesleyan hopes to bring the program, which has been used on campuses around the country, to our campus next year.
“I do not see this replacing Netflix, Hulu, or other external streaming sources, but I do think it will nicely complement those offerings in terms of the variety of entertainment choices that students will have because we will have such a wide variety of movies to watch that otherwise would either be unavailable or have to be privately acquired by each student who wanted to watch the movie,” said Boyd.
SGA hopes the program will be implemented next year if they can get enough student’s signatures on a petition that they will present to administration.