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Hunger Games review

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Katrina Nolasco

In Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, protagonist Katniss Everdeen, narrates a story that revolves around love, hate, life, death and the fate of humanity.

The Hunger Games  follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl that, out of thousands of other girls, ends up becoming a tribute to play in the Hunger Games. She and 23 other tributes are forced to participate in the ultimate, annual fight to the death on live television.  For Katniss, survival comes naturally and defying death is no problem for her. However, in order to win, Katniss has to kill each and every contender playing the game. This forces Katniss to decide what’s more important to her: her faith in humanity or her need to survive.

The book doesn’t fail to stay suspenseful. It’s violent enough to get everyone excited and has just a bit of quirkiness to cool off the violence. It’s very easy to get pulled into the story and it’s definitely hard to put down. Collins writes a legitimate prediction for the fate of humanity and it’s fairly easy to relate to her characters.

However, this book can get very brutal. The violence can be pretty unbearable for immature audiences. Although this book is marketed toward teenage readers, I can’t really say that most teenagers can handle it. The “Hunger Games” is essentially a reality show. 12 contenders are basically broadcasted on national television, fighting each other to the death, doing whatever they have to do to survive, despite their moral beliefs. This aspect of the book is quite devastating and, despite the fact that it was written for young audiences, probably isn’t suitable or even relatable to most teenagers. But, if one’s maturity levels are substantially acceptable and they are able to grasp fragile concepts of inhumane violence, this book is perfect. 

The Hunger Games is a constantly suspenseful, clever story. I can understand why so many people obsess over this book, which is why I give it 4 out of 5.

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Wingstop review

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ray Concepcion

Early September brought joy to Daly City residents as the popular San Carlos restaurant Wingstop opened a new location in the Westlake Shopping Center. Curious about all the excitement brought by the franchise finally making its way closer to home I decided to check it out, and I must say I now understand what all the fuss was about.

I ordered the ten-piece combo meal which comes with a choice of two of their nine chicken wing flavors which include atomic, cajun, original hot, mild, hickory, lemon pepper, garlic parmesan, hawaiian and teriyaki. The combo also includes a regular size side–such as carrot sticks, fries, or a bowl of baked beans–and regular drink. I decided to get the cajun and lemon pepper wings to get a balance of spicy and savory. The lemon pepper wings were a delicious blend of saltiness and tanginess. They were amazingly complimented by the staff-suggested honey mustard dipping sauce, which really brought out the lemon flavor while retaining its sweetness.

The cajun flavor is additional evidence as to why Wingstop is known as “the Wing Experts”. Tossed in hot sauce, the cajun wings are topped with a dry spice rub to add a little more kick than the original hot flavor. The staff suggested I try it with the ranch dressing and I was happy to oblige. The dressing complimented the spice from the sauce and the dry rub perfectly and had my taste buds going wild.

The meal was amazing and the staff is very friendly. I give Westlake Shopping Center’s Wingstop 5 out of 5.

Categories: Reviews Tags: ,

Hands All Over review

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rebecca Gigi

Grammy winning music group Maroon 5 has done it again with their third studio album Hands All Over joining forces with AC/DC and Def Leppard producer Robert “Mutt” Lange to create a highly different sound that fans will definitely notice and enjoy.

In this album the band has experimented by adding different styles of music to this pop album, ultimately adding to its toe-tapping and catchy choruses that will keep your finger pressing repeat. Guitar and keyboards are emphasized on this album will also catch the listener’s attention. The lyrics on this album definitely stick to leader singer Adam Levine’s obsession with women both past and present so if you’re not into hearing about chasing love then Maroon 5 is not your type of band.

I’ve fallen in love with two songs that highlight the two main reasons why I love this album. The first of these is “Don’t Know Nothing” that sounds like an old blues song, remixed with a 21st century vibe. I literally had this song on repeat for an hour after hearing it because it was so upbeat and made me dance in my seat while doing my homework. Listen to this song on YouTube if you don’t end up buying the album. It’s that great. “How” is the type of song that reminds me of the helpless romantic you see in movies screaming in the rain about how love is making them an emotional wreck. It’s a slower song that will make you sway back and forth with powerful lyrics. “Why does the one you love become the one who makes you want to cry?”

Although this album is great in more ways than one, I do have one complaint. Some of the songs are a little too slow for my liking. Slow songs make up a little more than half of the album and sometimes made me fall into a trance and forget what I was even listening to. Many generalities about love are made in almost every track that made me wonder how many times Levine used the word “love” on the entire record. I dare you to count and get back to me on that.

Overall this record is amazing. I enjoyed almost every minute of it as I continue to listen to it even while I write this review. If you aced a test, wrote an impressive essay, or simply feel like treating yourself to something special, go buy this album! I know you’ll find at least one song that you’ll end up downloading on your iPod. Hands All Over gets four of five stars.

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Halo:Reach review

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ryan Kratsas-Love

The geniuses at Bungie have done it again with the newest and final installment in the Halo franchise, Halo: Reach. The previous installments of Halo are not only considered some of the greatest first-person shooters of all time, but some of the greatest games of this generation, the expectations were overwhelmingly high. Fortunately for Bungie, they not only met those expectations, but exceeded them on all levels.

As the game begins, you assume the roll of Noble Six, a Spartan Mark III sent to a task force called Noble Team. Upon his arrival, Noble Team is dispatched to a relay station that went offline. They quickly discover that a hostile alien force, The Covenant, has begun an attack on the planet Reach, the strongest military outpost in the United Nations Space Command. For those who have played Halo games in the past, you know how it all ends. But for players new to the franchise, lets just say it doesn’t end well for Noble Team or the UNSC.

Compared to other Halo games, the single-player campaign is surprisingly easy. If you plan on taking on Legendary difficulty, like I did, four player co-op is an absolute necessity. The enemies are strong, fast, and most importantly, smart. Their shear intelligence adds an enormous fear factor and frustration to the game. In many instances, while I was camping back covering my friends, I found myself being killed from behind. Grunts are also drastically changed. Because the game takes place at the beginning of the war, they no longer speak English in their comical voices, but instead speak in alien gibberish nobody understands.

 A new addition to the Halo franchise is space combat, which is only available in one mission, and only for a short time. But the short time that you are in space, it is a compelling experience that is hard to forget. You do everything from battling it out with Covenant fighters in dogfights, to dropping in and destroying an enemy flagship systematically from the inside. It feels like you are playing a Star Wars game, and I say that with absolute adoration.

Another regular feature in the Halo franchise, Forge Mode has been greatly expanded and improved. Basically, forge is a map creator/ editor. You can create and edit nearly every aspect of the map. Not only that, but it is a fantastic sandbox mode where you and your friends can just get lost for hours in its immense customization. The first time I played Forge with my friends, we were in the same game making forts and towers for three hours.

Firefight is another solid returning feature in the game. Originally introduced in Halo 3: ODST, Firefight is basically a survival mode where you and your friends are pitted against endless waves of covenant troops that gradually get stronger as things progress. Everything is customizable. Enemy loadouts, types of enemies, and how many waves are just some of the few things that are at your fingertips.

Despite taking place before the main Halo Trilogy, several new weapons populate the game. For example, my personal favorite, the Designated Marksman’s Rifle, is a deadly accurate weapon that will get a headshot from across the map, leaving you feeling totally awesome. Another new weapon is the Concussion Rifle, which redefines the term “Noob Tube.” It is a semi-automatic grenade launcher that is exhilarating to use, and extremely frustrating to be on the receiving end of. If  you remember The Needler form previous titles, you will love its new recreation in the Needle Rifle, which does the exact same thing, except in rifle form.

Now for the absolute best aspect of the game. Matchmaking. In the past, matchmaking, or online play, has been an addicting and intense part of the Halo franchise, but now, it is even better than ever. Now featuring a class selection system, there is an absolutely perfect blend of balance and action that will make you refuse to put the controller down. It easily rivals the most played title in the gaming world, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Every second of the game is action packed and absolutely stunning. Graphically, there is hardly a game that can match the cinematic cutscenes and environments that populate the various parts of the game. As you progress through the game, it almost feels like you are playing a movie.

Halo: Reach is one of the most impressive and immersive games of the decade. If you do not own it, buy it. If you don’t have an XBOX, put this magazine down and go buy one, and get this game. Yeah, it’s that good.

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Blockscheduling

October 5, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ryan Krastas-Love

Every year, students try and better prepare themselves for their future by going to school. They go through six 50-minute classes a day. Some would argue that is an inefficient method of teaching and that block scheduling is more effective. But, in actuality, normal scheduling is the superior form of education that not only is more hands-on and focused, but it forces students to grasp instructional material at a faster pace.

Block scheduling has several flaws to it. Classes are held every other day, therefore students don’t retain information as well as they would if an everyday schedule was in effect. Core classes like math benefit from daily practice. In certain cases of block scheduling, classes can last up to four hours, which greatly exceeds the attention span of an average student. This results in less attention from students and more watered-down material in order to maintain the students’ interest, causing comprehension problems and making remedial review more necessary.

AP classes are essential to a student’s development, and are severely affected by block scheduling. Some schools that have adopted block scheduling have AP classes that last the entire year, as opposed to most block schedules, which allow for a class to be packed into one quarter. Therefore, AP classes restrict the amount of classes a student can take at once. This can lead to high school lasting longer than four years because students have not earned all their credits.

For students, block scheduling is full of classes that seem to last forever. Halfway through the class, students go into a trance and lose focus on what’s being taught. I know this from personal experience. It’s a useless and over the top way of instruction.

Categories: Opinion Tags: , , , ,

Blockscheduling: Pros

October 5, 2010 Leave a comment

By Marcus Ismael

During a typical school day, students experience six 50-minute periods and are restricted to a curriculum that can fit into that limited time. In classes like P.E. and science, a portion of class time is spent on preparing for the class. Over a period of time, this prep time takes up time that could be used for the lesson itself. What if there was a way to eliminate wasted minutes?

Block scheduling is beneficial in lab classes where setup takes up a large amount of time. Block scheduling requires no additional costs, staff or time to the school and is easy to implement. Regular, non-lab classes like English, History and Math can follow the regular schedule, yet performing arts, P.E. and science classes benefit from block scheduling considering prep time. Not only is time continuously wasted, but also many students simply need more time to learn in certain classes.

There are several ways to structure this type of scheduling. One is to reserve certain days of the week for the block schedule. The benefit is that time is made for lab experiments or other elective procedures like cooking in foods or developing film in photos. On days without block scheduling, more classes can be fit in for a shorter amount of time, making space for tests or projects. Another plan is the 4×4 model where days have four, 90-minute long periods. This allows the academic year to be compressed and allows a student to take sequential classes (i.e. Algebra I and Algebra II) in the same semester or year; impossible in a regular schedule.

Block scheduling is a flexible plan that adapts to students’ learning paces and provides opportunities to maximize instructional time. It is the answer to a more effective school day.

Categories: Opinion Tags: , , ,

Tales of an average, observant 21st century teenager: Age restrictions

October 5, 2010 Leave a comment

(Art Christen Alqueza

By Katrina Nolasco

It’s difficult to believe that once one turns 18, under the law, one is considered an “adult” and is expected to make good life decisions. In actuality, many 18 year olds can be some of the most immature, irresponsible people to ever walk the face of the earth.

From what I’ve seen in class, most 18 year olds don’t take their responsibilities seriously. For the most part, they’d rather fool around than focus on the task at hand.

What determines a person’s maturity level, anyway? How does one magically morph from a carefree 17 year old to a sensible adult in just one day? It’s not possible.

With 30 being the new 20, the 21st century is a tricky time for all age groups. Perhaps 18 is the new eight. Does that mean everyone should feel free to act ten years younger than their actual age?

Restrictions based on age are prevalent in teen life. A 16-year-old can’t watch a restricted movie, buy a rated “M” video game, or even get a license without taking driving school unless they’re 18. Most people would say age restrictions exist because they don’t want younger people to become exposed to certain things. Well, if they’re going to be exposed to these things later on, despite their age, what’s the difference?

Most people, if not all, are judged by their appearance or how old a person looks. In our society, one isn’t judged by their heart or mind but by how old they appear to be. Take the restricted movie scenario. One will usually get carded if they look younger than 17. But, what happens when a 15 year old looks 20? Any 16 year old can evade any movie security guard if they are tall and have a beard. What’s the point of the age restriction then?

With age comes different levels of trust. People tend not to take a person’s opinion seriously if they’re an “adult”. It doesn’t matter if they’re the smartest kid in the town if they’re only 15, people won’t really care. A person’s mindset doesn’t really change from 17 to 18, so should an 18 year old be trusted more? I can’t even tell the difference between juniors and seniors sometimes. They all pretty much just act the same – immaturely.

It seems our families bring us up to be dependent and needy. Due to this teens these days have no clue how to survive and make their own decisions. In some cultures, children are mature at 12. But in the U.S. we have six extra years, yet we fill them with ignorance, laziness and junk food.

People learn and mature at their own pace. Just because someone’s 17 doesn’t mean they can make better decisions than a 15 year old. Some people are getting treated unfairly just because they’re too young on their birth certificate. If only people could just see how the mind of a person actually works – maybe then all those mature 15-year-olds would get the credit they deserve and immature 18 year olds would just grow up already!