Bringing the Beach to Saint Leo

Saint Leo is widely known for its athletics program and the plethora of sports it offers to students, such as golf, basketball, swimming, and track to name a few. Now, lady lions can look forward to the addition of a new sport to the Intercollegiate Athletics Program in the spring of 2018: beach volleyball.

Beach volleyball has quickly become one of the most popular sports among NCAA institutions. Students can expect to see a lot of construction on campus in the upcoming semester. Saint Leo will immediately begin constructing a five-court complex on the intramural field near the Tennis Center.

The idea to bring the sport to campus was put forth by Saint Leo’s Gender Equity Committee. The announcement was recently issued to students and staff by University Communications. In the announcement, Saint Leo’s Athletics Director Fran Reidy stated that “The addition of beach volleyball will provide additional opportunities for women to compete in the Green and Gold for Saint Leo University and is a natural fit for Saint Leo athletics.”

Saint Leo already offers a long list of sports designated for both men and women, including basketball, golf, cross country, and lacrosse. In addition to indoor volleyball and softball, beach volleyball will be specifically geared towards female athletes. Peter Lefresne, the Assistant Athletics Director for Communications, believes that the new sport will help enrollment.

“[Beach volleyball] will help attract young ladies to Saint Leo University,” Lefresne said. “It will also help to provide additional intercollegiate sport opportunities for young women.”

Though the same principals apply, beach volleyball and indoor volleyball are two very different games. In accordance with NCAA regulations, the new beach volleyball team cannot be composed of all of the same members of the indoor team, a whole new team must be created. However, members of the indoor volleyball team will have the opportunity to play both sports.

College beach volleyball also differs drastically from Olympic beach volleyball. According to NCAA.org, there are three main differences: teams, attire, and gender. College volleyball games are played by an all-female team composed of at least five pairs, while the Olympic teams can feature both men and women playing as individual pairs. While Olympic competitors typically wear bikinis, Saint Leo’s players can expect to wear more modest, basketball-like uniforms. Students looking to join the new team shouldn’t do so expecting Olympic standards.

Lions’ head volleyball coach, Sam Cibrone, will now take on a different role as the new director of volleyball, meaning a new assistant coach will be added to the beach volleyball program. For students interested in joining the new team, Lefresne says that the process will be the same as joining any other sport in the intercollegiate program.

“Interested Saint Leo students should contact the head coach directly to find out about the timetable for open tryout opportunities,” said Lefresne. “As well as to complete any required medical clearance paperwork that may be required prior to a tryout.”

Lefresne and staff believe that beach volleyball, like all sports in the program, will be beneficial to students.

“The athletics program is a way for students to just play those sports that love,” said Lefresne. “Students will develop a lot of leadership skills and time management skills. It is well documented that there are a lot of different benefits other than the competitive aspect itself.”

Students interested in joining the beach volleyball team should visit the athletics department, located in the Marion Bowman Activities Center, for more rules and information. To learn more about the sport itself, visit http://www.NCAA.org.

Not the Same Old Song and Dance

It’s no secret that the music scene blossoms during the summer months. New artists churn out hit after chart topping hit and highly anticipated concert tours get underway. 2017 seems to be the year for those nearly long forgotten artists to resurface. Bands such as Incubus, Paramore, and Gorillaz, to name a few, have all been out of the limelight for nearly a decade and all recently released new albums.

But something isn’t quite right; something sounds a bit off. These bands and others like them have drastically changed their sound. While their new hits are well received by today’s listeners, they may fail to meet the high expectations of the fans that still rock out to their debut albums. What causes artists to make such drastic changes in tune and just how does it affect their success and fan bases?

Nowadays, some bands may not even realize that they’ve made any change at all, but die-hard fans can hear the difference. Incubus became popular in the mid-90s for their funk metal sound with mellow grunge undertones. With hits like “Wish You Were Here,” “Nice to Know You,” and “Drive,” they’d achieved the perfect balance between fast and slow. With the release of their latest album, simply entitled “8,” that balance is gone. Most of the songs are unnaturally slow and the few that attempt that original funk metal sound shaky and uncertain. All eight tracks sadly lack the qualities that made the band such a cult sensation in the first place.

Other popular rock groups, such as Paramore and Linkin Park, have pulled a complete 180. They’ve abandoned their angry and angsty sound for a shiny synth pop feel, much to the chagrin of their hard rock loving fan base. Like many other artists before them, they’ve gone mainstream, perhaps to the point of no return.

As for the popular animated band Gorillaz, their highly anticipated new album, “Humanz,” manages to keep up their quirky, individual sound that audiences fell in love with, but with one exception. Most of the album’s 20 tracks lack the recognizable leading vocals from the band’s front man and co-creator, Damon Albarn. Instead, the band relies heavily on their collaborating artist to provide the bulk of the vocals of each song, while Albarn and the rest of the group fade into the background.

In all things, change is inevitable for one reason or another. When it comes to the music industry, artists are faced with the challenge of keeping up with the changing times. Bands must assuage an ever-changing audience if they wish to remain successful. They have to adapt to a new generation of listeners and adjust their music to fit that generation’s taste. They must ensure a promising following, even if that means disappointing pre-existing fans.

But is success worth losing what made the band unique in the first place? There are those individuals who lose interest in a favorite artist once they’ve gone mainstream. Some fans just don’t want to listen to a particular band when they sound almost exactly like every other band.  Ultimately, an artist must follow the money. The previous generation of fans is growing up, growing old, and moving on, while a new generation is just discovering the band’s music and is willing to buy every album and go to every concert so long as they like what they hear. To fans, this is considered “selling out,” but to the artist, it’s just business.

Success may not have anything to do with the changing sound. Perhaps it is a change in the life of the artist that brings about a drastic shift in genre. In an interview with the New York Times in April, Paramore’s lead vocalist, Hayley Williams, said that a change was necessary. She, like many other artists, was growing up right alongside her fans. New life experiences, both good and bad, brought about new inspiration that led her down a different path. Sometimes the artist is far less concerned with financial success than they are with escaping a rut and retiring the same old shtick.

But for all that they do, an artist’s future remains out of their hands. It is ultimately the fans that decide the fate of today’s music. While the new generation boasts enough pop lovers to keep bands like Paramore in the spotlight, record sales may plummet for bands like Incubus who fail to find that perfect sound that will appeal to both new and old fans. Music lovers can only look forward to rising stars. A new and unique artist may one day surface with a sound that reminds fans of a band they’d long ago forgotten.

“GLOW” Shines Bright among Netflix Landscape

“GLOW” is a newly released show on Netflix from the same mind that brought Orange is the New Black, another popular Netflix series. The series, set in 1980s Los Angeles, is a comedy-drama about wrestling circuit featuring only women, called Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW). The show, which entire first season aired on June 23, 2017, focuses on a large cast of characters working together for the female wrestling promotion come to fruition.

The series’ main protagonist, Ruth Wilder (Allison Brie), is likable despite the fact that she revealed to do something reprehensible. However, the show manages to redeem her character through her charming and quirky personality, which brings a lot of lighthearted moments to the show. The other characters that stand out in the series are Sam Sylvia, the director of the circuit played by Marc Maron, Debbie Eagan, Ruth’s friend played by Betty Gilpin; Cherry Bang, played by Sydelle Noel; and Carmen Wade, played Britney Young. The director is witty, Wade is eccentric, and Bang is a strong-willed persona; yet all these aforementioned characters’ face their own demons, such as family ties or failing careers. It is the character’s struggles that evokes sympathy for these characters and makes them more dimensional and realistic, and the characters’ quirks and eccentricities are what makes the characters likeable and enjoyable to watch as well.

“Glow” does a great job to balance the screen time between a large cast of characters. In fact, the dynamic between the cast of characters is rather interesting. The characters are distinct and diverse in physical presence and personalities. There distinct natures make most of the characters rather compelling, and the fact that the show takes the time to delve deep into each of the character’s stories make them 3 dimensional and even more compelling. The show finds a way to touch on most of the characters’ faults and little quirks, which is tough to do with such a large cast of characters. If there is a second season, it would be great if the show explores the characters more deeply by probably devoted each episode to one characters to give the audience more backstory on the characters. Nevertheless, the characters’ quirks and their dynamic with one another are things that drive the show and keeps the audience watching.

Another aspect of the show that is great is the premise. The idea of the characters working together, with conflicts, to achieve a goal is compelling. The audience is on a journey with the characters, and most likely willing to route for the characters along the way. As they are learning more about wrestling as a craft, so does the audience, especially those who are not familiar about what goes on behind the scenes of wrestling. The series immerses the audience in the wrestling entertainment world, allowing the audience to appreciate wrestling as a craft. However, the show falls down in one aspect because it fails to address the dangers of wrestling, especially wrestling when not being trained properly. The show could take advantage of this as a plot line but it fails to even touch on this subject.

Nevertheless, the setting of Los Angeles in the 80’s is fully realized and believable in this series and the show sets a certain atmosphere that places the audience in the period and feel more connected with the show.

Also, the show explores great themes, such as view of females in the time period, perception of wrestling, and show business. The show also balances both comedic moments with dramatic elements;

the acting from the actors, along with the writing in the show, allows for both comedy and drama to coexist very well. Also, the fact each episode is approximately 30 minutes makes the show easily digestible, and makes this Netflix show easy to binge.

The show deserves great critical praise and recognition as it is well crafted. The acting and writing is superb and the characters and atmosphere are compelling and these are reason to continue to watch the show as the audience feels for the characters and feel for their struggle to reach their goal of having the wresting show come to fruition. The series gets 4.25 out of 5 paws.

So Long, Old Chum: The Death of Adam West

On June 9, the world lost a hero. Iconic actor Adam West, best known for his role as Batman, died at the age of 88.

In an interview with Variety magazine, West’s family revealed that he had been suffering from leukemia. After a short battle with the disease, he passed away in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones, including his wife, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Before there was Keaton, Kilmer, or Clooney, there was West. Born in 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington, West began acting in the 1950s. He became the pinnacle of 1960s pop culture with his portrayal of the caped crusader in the campy television series “Batman.”

West was first discovered and considered for the Batman role via a Nestle’s Quik commercial, in which he played the suave Captain Quick. “Batman” producer William Dozier approached West with the pilot script, and the rest is history. His role as the beloved DC superhero made his career…and almost ended it. After the series was cancelled, West, who had become the victim of typecasting, had difficulty finding work.

Unable to find steady acting work, West bounced between the big and small screens for years, taking on roles in obscure movies and television shows that often flopped. He even resorted to dawning the cape and cowl and making special appearances alongside the batmobile at car shows, conventions, and carnivals. At Comic-Con in 2014, West told his audience that he feared the cancellation of “Batman” had been the end of him, but he soon realized that that wasn’t the case.

“I look around and see the adults; I see you grew up with me, and you believe in the adventure,” said West. “I’m the luckiest actor in the world, folks, to have you still hanging around.”

West’s acting troubles were over when he found regular work on the popular animated adult television series “Family Guy.” His character, the campy and quirky mayor Adam West, became a series regular and a fan favorite. Having worked with West in the past, “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane all but jumped at the chance to make him a part of his show.

“When ‘Family Guy’ came around and Seth became brilliantly successful, he decided to call me and see what I was doing,” West said in a 2012 interview. “He asked if I would like to come aboard as the mayor, and I thought it would be neat to do something sort of absurd and fun.”

West first appeared in “Family Guy” in the year 2000 during the show’s second season and remained a major part of the series up until his passing, marking a 17-year run. Upon hearing of the actor’s death, MacFarlane shared an emotional statement on Twitter.

“’Family Guy’ has lost its mayor, and I have lost a friend. Adam West was a joy to work with, and the kind of guy you always wanted around…he knew comedy and he knew humanity,” said MacFarlane. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Mayor. You’re irreplaceable.”

Other important figures from West’s life have shared their feelings on social media, including friends, family, fans, and co-stars.

“He was bright, witty, and fun to work with,” said Julie Newmar, who starred alongside West as Cat Woman in “Batman.” “I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity. He meant so much to people.”

Fans from all generations will recognize West from numerous cameo appearances in popular television shows, including “The Simpsons,” “The King of Queens,” “The Fairly Oddparents,” and “The Big Bang Theory” to name a few. He and his beloved and memorable characters have impacted and inspired many individuals throughout the years.

Actor Burt Ward, who played the Robin to West’s Batman said it best when he told Variety “I will forever miss him. There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films. In my eyes, there was only one real Batman that is and always will be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Knight.”

Are You My Mummy?

Not since 1935, when the bride of Frankenstein first shambled on screen, has there been a more iconic female movie monster…until now. Meet princess Ahmanet, the undead villainous star of Universal Pictures’ monster reboot “The Mummy.” The film stars Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, and Sofia Boutella and is directed by Alex Kurtzman.

After Nick Morton (Cruise), a brash soldier/ treasure hunter unearths the long-forgotten tomb of an ancient Egyptian being, he inadvertently unleashes a great evil upon the world. Mummified alive for her heinous crimes, princess Ahmanet (Boutella) returns to wreak havoc upon the modern world and claim the power that is rightfully hers. Nick must find a way to stop Ahmanet and break the wicked hold she has over him before she revives an even greater evil. To defeat such a power will require a great sacrifice.

While it lacks the humor and thrills of its predecessors, the reboot boasts plenty of action and chilling special effects. The corpses that Ahmanet leaves in her wake are brought back to life through the power of some seriously chilling computer animation, making for some of the most truly frightening mummies on the screen to date. Though primarily an action flick, the film packs plenty of unexpected jump scares that will have audience members stifling screams and launching their popcorn into the air.

There are, however, a number of other factors that give “The Mummy” an overall “meh” vibe. Ahmanet’s backstory is a little too fanciful for an action/thriller flick; the fact that the key to her vengeance is a magical dagger seems a bit too much like a dark fairytale and makes it a tad hard to take the film and its story seriously. Much of the plot was also easily predictable and made quite bland by its lack of stellar performances.

Tom Cruise was, well, he was Tom Cruise. While he pulled off the action scenes with natural ease and believability, his humor was bland and halfhearted and he lacked the sensitivity needed for more emotional scenes. While Cruise’s character undergoes some serious development, he carries out every scene with his deadly serious action hero bravado, making the dramatic and important changes barely noticeable and takes away their intended emotional effect.

The film’s crowned jewel was Russell Crowe. His portrayal of a certain iconic doctor is diverse, believably natural, and effective. Crowe added the perfect blend of suavity, intellect, and menace to the role, a role that he will thankfully reprise in an upcoming film in Universal’s new Dark Universe.

“The Mummy” is the first installment in the Dark Universe, an extension of Universal Pictures under which several of the company’s classic monster movies will be rebooted and released. It serves as Universal’s equivalent to the Marvel and DC universes. Fans of the original black and white Universal monsters should be on the lookout for future reboots such as “The Invisible Man,” “Frankenstein” and “The Bride of Frankenstein,” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

As far as risky reboots go, “The Mummy” was an entertaining ride with a lot of unused potential. It’s decision to make the mummy a woman was a brilliant and bold move and perhaps helped to launch the era of the female monster. It’s a must see before it leaves the theaters, but don’t rush. The film gets a 3/5.