Daily Archives: February 13, 2014

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Netflix is the new black

Kevin Spacey_01

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Being a college student can be hard, especially when it comes to studying for exams and doing homework and struggling through whatever else these vigilant students must go up against in their stressful daily lives. But it is important to remember that taking some time to relax is key to keeping motivation high. The naps, spending time with friends and going to the beach when weather permits are all great ways to rest, but another source of stress relief that has become exceedingly popular is Netflix.
If you somehow haven’t heard of it, Netflix is an incredibly popular Internet television service that has over 44 million members worldwide. With this service, users are able to rent either movies or television shows online, which are sent to them in their mail, or they are able to stream movies or television shows directly from the Netflix website. This method of watching television has become very popular in recent years and is Netflix’ s main source of income, earning them more than 3 million of their total 4 million dollars of revenue in 2013.
This Web service hosts many shows and movies from many different companies, but in the last few years, Netflix has also begun to host their own original series. These series have become very popular and include, but are not limited to, ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Hemlock Grove’ and ‘House of Cards,’ which is currently the eigth highest-rated series on Netflix by the International Movie Database rating scale.
“I really liked ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ said senior Ashley Hill. “It was interesting and I always felt a sense of anxiety after watching it, which really drew me in.”
‘Orange Is the New Black’ was first released as a Netflix original on July 11, 2013. This show tells the tale of Piper Chapman, who has been sentenced to fifteen months in an all-woman’s prison after being convicted ten years ago for smuggling drug-money to her drug dealing girlfriend. This show has received good reviews. It is rated at 8.6 out of 10 on IMDb.
“I also watched ‘Hemlock Grove’ and liked the show,” said Hill. “It was different, but not my favorite. I felt like the acting wasn’t that strong, but I did like the creepy feel it gave off.
‘Hemlock Grove,’ a show that premiered on April 19, 2013, is quite popular and tells the tale of a fictional town, Hemlock Grove, in which two characters, Roman Godfrey and Peter Rumancek, attempt to shed light on recent murders in the town as well as on the secrets within their own lives. This show has gotten more mixed or negative reviews from critics than ‘Orange is the New Black’ did, but still holds a fairly good score of 7.3 out of 10 on IMDb.
“House of Cards,” a political drama, is an incredibly popular Netflix original series that holds a 8.9 out of 10 review on IMDb. This show premiered on February 1, 2013 and recounts the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), who decides to exact revenge on the people who betrayed him. This show is highly acclaimed and has received multiple Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe nominations as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama. ‘House of Cards’ is also the first show to receive awards for an online-only television program.
Hill has yet to watch ‘House of Cards,’ but states that she intends to in the future.
These shows are incredibly popular and show that it is possible for online streaming services such as Netflix to successfully hold their own programs online. This recent move towards online streaming television is impressive and points at many possibilities for the future of television.
If you are interested in ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ ‘Hemlock Grove’ and ‘House of Cards,’ all three have new seasons planned for the upcoming year as well as more planned for the future. Definitely take the time to check them out if you are bored or procrastinating or doing whatever you happen to be doing in your free time.

Getting buff in Batten


Staff Writer

Virginia Wesleyan’s new intense training class is changing the way students get fit by leaving them crawling on their knees back to their dorms and trying to catch their breath. RecXFit, Virginia Wesleyan’s version of CrossFit training is becoming a growing trend in the way students push themselves to the limit and workout on campus.
“It’s now the big movement,” certified instructor and trainer Casey Sullivan said. “The sport’s awareness has raised to a whole different level.”
Sullivan has been doing CrossFit for over five years and is now offering a free class in the Fitness Center to any student or faculty member that would like to participate.
CrossFit is an intense strength and conditioning program in which military units, police academies and professional athletes use to get in top-notch shape.
“I want the people that come to my class to get the most out of the workouts each day they walk in the gym,” Sullivan said. “The program is built for anybody that wants to challenge themselves into seeing results.”
Freshman Javana Messersmith has decided to challenge herself with RecXFit and believes it is a program everyone should try out.
“You have to be willing to go in there with an open mind and be willing to push yourself,” she said. “It’s exciting to me and you do get results if you stick with it.”
Students aren’t the only ones taking part in the RecXFit experience. The classes have a mixture of personnel, including athletes, coaches and faculty members of all different skill levels.
“I love the workouts,” said Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach J.P. Stewart. “They are some of the toughest, challenging, most fulfilling exercises I’ve ever done.”
Stewart started CrossFit in December 2010 and hasn’t looked back since. Each session requires different exercises demanding a full body workout. He’s grown so fond of the program that he makes his team train using it.
“That’s all the team does in the preseason,” Stewart said. “I had them in Casey’s class everyday during the past Winter Session.”
With the demand for the program growing each week and the number of people in the class rising, where exactly were all of these students and faculty members working out?
At the end of the fall semester, more than $25,000 worth of remodeling and renovation to the Fitness Center was completed. The improved center, which opened late December, took approximately a week to complete and includes an all new set up, new carpet, new equipment and extended rubber floors.
“The new layout to the Fitness Center makes the place more spacious and open for use,” said Director of Aquatics and Fitness Willie Harrell said. “It was definitely designed with RecXFit in mind.”
With more open area added to the Fitness Center, Sullivan is utilizing the space to his advantage for his classes.
“Now we’re not just limited to the C-MAC anymore,” Sullivan said. “We can maximize the entire facility.”
This semester, Sullivan continues to instruct RecXFit with sessions offered every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 am to 9 am, and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 pm to 2 pm. The class is free to join and all skill levels are welcomed.

Sickly sweet Valentine’s Day movies


Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day movies show that the medium may be falling short at each and every attempt to capitalize on the holiday of love

More than the shortest month of the year, February is a sugarcoated, candy flavored construction paper cutout of a heart. Valentine’s Day can serve as an excuse to be overly public with your loved one as well as equally public with the fact that you have a loved one. Then there are always the people who put their bitterness of not having a valentine on display.
For movie companies, however, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to capitalize on the lonely, fragile or naïve hearts of the youth and produce hackneyed, gushy movies meant to make couples fall deeper in love and make single people buy more popcorn. This year, the big, trite Valentine’s Day release is a novel adaption called ‘Endless Love’, starring Alex Pettyfer and Gabrielle Wilde.
Although originally written as a romantic thriller by Scott Spencer in 1979, the 2014 adaption of the ‘Endless Love’ movie appears to diminish the raw, passion of the book to a clichéd plot about a bored, privileged girl who falls in love with a boy upon meeting him, although the pair must fight to be together because their parents forbid it.
Scott Spencer himself wrote for the Paris Review that the movie will be “a Valentine’s massacre,” because the script adaptation is void of the insanity, danger and bizarreness present in the original novel.
Movies, like this one, that are released on Valentine’s Day are generally ill-received by critics and viewers alike. They rely on the eager hearts of teenage girls and lonely young adults who will watch these two beautiful people interact on screen and imagine themselves in their position.
They won’t take into account the unhealthy codependence of such a relationship or the complete lack of talented or imaginative screenwriting because they will be deferred by the veneer of Valentine’s Day, and the movie will do relatively well despite the lack of any actual cinematic substance.
“They’re super sappy and they prey on female emotions,” said freshman Rachel Lambert.
“They never have a strong female lead. Instead, they have a strong male lead who is trying to make a girl happy and make her like him because, apparently, she can’t do that on her own,” Lambert added.
Through the years, there have been many Valentine’s Day releases that have followed the typical romantic comedy formula for success among the lonely hearts and idealistic teenagers.
Last year, the Nicholas Sparks movie adaption ‘Safe Haven’ was released, the year before that, it was ‘The Vow’, and in 2010, we had the appropriately named ‘Valentine’s Day.’ It seems that, as long as these movies will sell well in the box office, we will be subjected to their sugary romanticism year after year.
It’s not all bad, however. Some see the release of these Valentine’s blockbusters as a worthwhile opportunity for fake, clichéd romance to bud into the real thing.
“I think it’s a good way to get brownie points with your woman or at least it gives you an excuse to take the girl you like out on a date,” said freshman Kendall Billups.
The movie industry has been able to strategically release plot-less films on Valentine’s Day and still do relatively well because of the number of couples looking to do something romantic, the preteens who want to dream about their future and lonely people who go out of spite.
Only time will tell whether we will ever realize that watching these movies is basically turning your brain off for an hour and a half; but this realization definitely won’t be coming this year, or the next, as Valentine’s Day 2015 is set to see the release of the highly anticipated ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ film.

Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi


Sports Editor

Amidst the misery of the torrential rain, knee-deep snow, and sub-arctic temperatures we have endured over the last few weeks, a fire of excitement has been ignited to melt away our winter blues. The Winter Olympic Games are upon us, and this year promises to be one of the most exciting, awe-inspiring and controversial contests yet.
What better way to spend the harsh winter days than nestled in front of the TV, watching the most elite athletes from every nation compete in front of the cameras on the world’s largest stage.
“Watching the Winter Olympics all day is a win in my book,” said junior Thomas Mills.
“I started watching the Olympics in my room when it was too cold and I didn’t really feel like going outside,” said freshman Javon Trice. “I wasn’t that big of a fan before, but now I’m pretty interested in what’s going on.”
So, what can you expect to see in this year’s winter games? The images that probably come to mind are brutal displays of aggression in the ice hockey rink, impressive skill as skiers zip through snow-covered slalom courses, and flawless elegance as figure skaters parade gracefully on the ice.
“Figure skating is my favorite,” said junior Nancy Kelly. “The skaters are so skilled, and their outfits are beautiful.”
In addition to the typical sports you may expect to see, the Winter Olympics exhibit many sports that you probably didn’t even know existed. Ever heard of skeleton? Luge? Or even Nordic Combined skiing? Probably not unless you’ve been watching.
Skeleton is a sport where athletes ride a small sled down a frozen track. Extreme athletic prowess comes in to play when you realize that these athletes lay face down with their nose almost scraping along the ice as they hurtle head first down a track, reaching speeds of up to 140 km/h.
Luge is similar, although athletes propel feet-first down the course. Both sports are among some of the most dangerous on the planet and even the most elite of Olympic athletes have often died while in preparation for these events.
Nordic Combined Skiing incorporates both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Athletes propel themselves off the top of a huge peak and hope to land smoothly on the snow below before they embark on a winding course, gaining momentum along the way and reaching speeds of around six meters per second. Skiers have to possess speed, timing, balance and sheer mental toughness to compete in this dynamic event and are judged on both style and race time.
Although the games contain many thrilling events, the contest does not gain as much interest as the widely popular Summer Olympic Games, which draws a huge crowd, both filling stadium seats and dominating television network coverage throughout the duration of the games. This attitude regarding the winter games being less exciting seems to be reflected within the student body.
“I’ll watch the Winter Olympics if there’s nothing else on, but I won’t go out of my way to watch it,” said freshman Molly Barnes. “I don’t really care about any of the events that much and I only really like the skiing.”
Although some students disregard the winter games, other students understand that the entire nature of the games differs from the Summer Olympics.
“The Winter Olympics are much more extreme than the summer games since most sports during the winter contest deal with people flying off of ramps at crazy speeds,” said freshman Josh Cherry. “The winter games are more dangerous as a whole.”
So, even if snow and sub-zero temperatures are not your kind of thing, take a minute to check out the Winter Olympics. You might even find yourself on the edge of your seat with your eyes glued to a thrilling battle between the world’s best snowboarders, who hurtle themselves off colossal peaks and glide through the air as they compete to perform the most intense stunts that will probably leave you wondering if these athletes can defy the force of gravity.
Let the games begin.

Flappy Frustration


Troy Abut
Staff Writer

With over 50,000,000 downloads, the popular game known as Flappy Bird has become an instant fad this year.
Even though this game was made in May of last year, the game has risen to prominence because of the rage and frustration it causes, despite its simplicity. You may have become familiar with the game from friends, relatives and the many videos online of people playing the game; trying to show off their skill or lack thereof. The object of the game is to make a bird flap its way through a series of pipes simply by tapping the screen to keep the bird “flapping” in the air. Sophomore Katherine-Anne Christy says “It’s literally Angry Birds and Mario World combined,” and that best describes the way the game looks because of its graphics.
There seems to be no end to the game, and the fun of it comes from trying to get a high score. But once you get the hang of the game,which means getting past the first pair of pipes and so on it becomes progressively harder to maintain rhythm and concentration. It becomes addictive because you want to keep beating your previous score. What starts out as a few tries may turn out to be an hour or more of playing the game because of how it attracts your attention and inevitably causes you to waste time trying to beat a high score. Although getting a high score will allow you to show off and boast about your tapping ability, the game can become frustrating and stressful. As easy as it is to get through the pipes, it’s just as easy to lose at the game. Even though many players may recommend the game, it’s best played in moderation to prevent stress, anger, profane outbursts and broken mobile devices.
“I think it’s frustratingly addictive and the more you fail, the more it makes you play” says sophomore Robert Sutton.
But if you’re willing to give it a try, all it takes to get the score you want is a lot of patience, focus, and concentration.
Despite its popularity, on February 8, 2014, “Flappy Bird” was removed from stores by its creator Dong Nguyen. Nguyen took down the game because of all the bad press that surrounded his game as well as accusations surrounding the game’s success. Because of how famous the game became, many believe that Nguyen may have used Internet bots to promote his game and also help boost the game’s ranking in the stores. Allegedly, he didn’t think using bots was wrong. Another issue raised surrounding the game was that some of its graphics resemble those from a Super Mario World game; like the green pipes and the bird, who looks an enemy from this game. With this in mind, it’s easy to assume that the creator may have ripped off Nintendo, even though there have been no legal charges filed against him.
Although the game was free to download on the Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, the game was raking in $50,000 a day (and will now continue to do so even after the game was taken down from the stores) from ads alone, which worked perfectly for advertising companies since the game reached a large number of people. But most people think the biggest reason that Nguyen took the game down may be that he was overwhelmed by all the fame and hate he received from having made such a successful game. He made it so simple and different, that people praised it because of how difficult it was and how it allows the player to keep playing for a higher score, either for self-pride or for showing off scores against friends.
If you happen to be one of the many fortunate people who were able to download the game, then keep playing and sharing your scores. You happen to have a piece of gaming history that will continue to haunt avid players and confused gaming companies alike.
Students on campus have tried their hardest to master the game, and this is a small list of some varied scores recorded.

Senior Nikki Cuthbert 213
Sophomore Dakota Grizzle 117
Junior Tim Pepper 56
Sophomore Robert Sutton 14
Senior Michelle van Patten 16
Sophomore Glen Johnson 19
Freshman Mitchell Wilson 21
Freshman Kiki Decruise 25
Freshman Nicolette Burns 4

Birdsong donation enables turf field


Sports Editor
Staff Writer

After years of hoping, the athletic program’s dream of a synthetic turf field seems to be coming true at last. Revealed this January, a challenge gift of $1,000,000 has been made by the Birdsong Corporation to be used toward the installation of a turf field and other improvements to athletic facilities.
A synthetic turf field would make a world of difference to Wesleyan’s lacrosse and field hockey teams, as grass fields do not provide the consistent playing surface that can be integral to a game’s outcome.
“For field hockey specifically, the playing surface is such an important factor,” said Assistant Field Hockey Coach Kellie Finn. “The entire game is played on the ground.”
In addition to these already less-than-ideal conditions, grass fields cannot withstand the rainy weather seen too frequently in this area.
“After snow or rain, our grass fields get completely flooded out and unusable,” Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach J.P. Stewart said. “The men’s lacrosse team has been traveling about a mile down the street to DLH to use their turf field. We’re at a clear disadvantage. It puts us way behind.”
In fact, Virginia Wesleyan College is the only co-ed school in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) without a turf field.
“Years ago, when we first considered getting a turf field, it would have been cutting edge – but now we’re trying to catch up,” said Athletic Director Joanne Renn. “All of our competition have turf fields and we have to recruit against that.”
“I was disappointed when I first saw our stadium,” admitted junior Candace Carey, midfield on the Women’s Lacrosse team. “It’s a slight turn off for athletes when a school looks like they don’t put money into their athletics. Hopefully this is a step towards more modifications for Marlin athletics.”
The gift is ideally intended to allow for other upgrades to existing facilities, such as the baseball and softball fields, and the addition of a new track and field area as well.
“At our last campaign, we knew we needed to upgrade our athletic facilities,” said Vice President of College Advancement Mita Vail. “With a third of our student body involved in athletics, the Birdsongs recognized the need to be competitive with other schools.”
“If we’re the only school in the ODAC without a turf field, then some of the students we wish to recruit are more inclined to go where facilities are better,” George Birdsong said. “We have a long history with the school, so when this need came up, we thought it was something that required our special effort to jumpstart.”
Throughout the college’s history, the Birdsong Corporation and the family have been a tremendous part of supporting the college. The decision to focus their latest efforts toward a turf field was not only due to the teams’ drastic need for a better playing surface or their athletic recruitment, but because it serves the entire student body.
For instance, student programming, such as intramural and club sports, could be greatly improved.
“It would have a substantial effect on our ability to offer campus recreation to the students,” said Office of Recreational Sports and Outdoor Activities Supervisor Kelly Keys. “It would also likely improve student participation numbers.”
Director of Batten Center and Recreational Sports Jason Seward thinks the possibilities a new turf field would offer are endless.
“We have to fight daylight,” he said concerning the current scheduling dilemmas with outdoor club sports. “This will open up a world of flexibility for when we can play intramural sports and what sports we can play. This is a big step for us.”
This big step is all part of the college’s strategic plan to modernize and beautify Virginia Wesleyan. Other steps within the plan include the unveiling of an improved Social Science Lab in the fall and plans for a new art building, thanks to the recent Goode donation.
“We see this as necessary for the future of the college in terms of our competitiveness in attracting future students as well as giving our students the kind of facilities they deserve,” said Vail.
The versatile use of the turf field will be paired with a better view as students, guests and potential Marlins enter campus. By moving the practice fields to the very front of campus, where construction has already begun, and adding the anticipated arts building and turf field in their place, the college hopes to give a greater sense of arrival.
“I have long felt that we needed more of a focal point at Virginia Wesleyan when you pull in,” Birdsong said.
The new field will be open, heavily landscaped, with stands and possibly a storage house or press box. It will be closer to the dorms, encouraging students to attend games.
“We already have a great fan base but the turf field will make games faster which adds excitement,” said Finn.
Senior James Alvarez, midfield on the men’s lacrosse team, said, “I think it’s a great addition to the school that will benefit future student athletes by giving them the necessary tools to be productive on the field and will lead to more championships for our school.”
The Birdsongs’ contribution challenges other college supporters to raise an additional one million dollars by the end of 2015. The Board is still discussing borrowing money to start construction of the field sooner.
“Get me a shovel and I’ll start digging,” Renn exclaimed. “The quicker we can get this going, the better off we’re going to be.”