Super Mario Galaxy a must for fans

By MELISSA PILEIRO

Editor-in-Chief                  mario-galaxy-fp20251

Video games, whether you play them or not, are a staple of American culture. Even non-gamers can recognize characters like Pac-Man, Zelda, and Donkey Kong. However, none of them are as well-known or loved as everyone’s favorite plumber, Mario.

It might be because the Mario series has been one of the longest lasting—Super Mario Bros. first debuted for the Nintendo NES in 1985, and has produced nearly a dozen games since. Beyond its prominence, though, the simple controls coupled with tricky levels are what make the games so much fun.

At the end of 2007, Nintendo released Super Mario Galaxy for its wildly popular Wii system. Fortunately for gamers, Galaxy isn’t your typical Mario game. Once again, Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser, but this time they take to the skies in a huge way. With the help of a new ally named Rosalina, Mario travels through 45 different galaxies in search of the princess, with other puzzles and challenges to complete along the way.

What makes Galaxy unique from its predecessors is the role of gravity in gameplay. Rather than just moving in one direction like in the original games, or even on one planet, each level finds Mario moving from planet to planet. Each planet has its own gravity, and Mario needs to navigate its surface while occasionally walking sideways or upside down, all while dodging enemies. It might sound complicated, but with so many galaxies to explore, there’s plenty of time to get adjusted (take this from someone who is, admittedly, an amateur gamer). Other new features include power-ups that let Mario walk on water and lava, disappear, crawl up and walk through walls, and even fly.

The appeal in this game is that while it has all of the classic elements players have come to expect from the Mario series, it’s different enough to be both interesting and exciting, which is a must. There are plenty of extra lives and checkpoints to make the game forgiving, but its challenges give even the best gamer something to think about. Combine all of that with the game’s numerous awards (including Game of the Year 2007 from multiple publications) and positive reviews, and Super Mario Galaxy is definitely worth getting into.

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Limewire users in trouble with the law

lime-wire2

By SUSIE REMPFER

Staff writer    

Although file sharing sites such as Limewire are popular and come free of charge many students are recognizing that nothing in life is really free.  

With the declining economy, the music industry is losing more and more money. Up-and-coming bands are finding it harder than ever to get their feet off the ground. As a result authorities are cracking down fiercer and more frequently than ever on penalizing people for music piracy. 

“The most important development about piracy as of late, is the prosecution of people who pirate music and videos from the Internet,” said Carlos Parker a cyber crime teacher here at the college. 

What is most surprising about this is that they are targeting college-aged students, according to CNN, as the ones to subpoena and take to court. 

Music piracy consists of any form of unauthorized duplication or distribution of music including downloading, file sharing, and CD-burning. 

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sued hundreds of individuals, a large percentage of them being college students. Some of those students have had to pay amounts around $10,000, and in many cases an even higher fee. According to the RIAA’s website, the penalties can also include jail time. 

“The online infringement of copyrighted music can be punished by up to 3years in prison and $250,000 in fines,” the website said. “Repeat offenders can be imprisoned up to 6 years.” 

Zac Harris, a student at the college, recently deleted limewire from his computer as soon as he learned of the penalties. “I used to go on it every day. A lot of the songs on my iTunes were from Limewire. Needless to say that’s all gone now.” 

There are many who believe targeting college students for piracy is unfair. According to studies, however, those who use file sharing sites most frequently are those in the age group of an average college student. Although songs can cost a dollar or more each on music purchasing sites, part of this money goes to the artist and to the artist’s copyright. And because the artists have copyrights on their material, illegal downloading becomes as serious as plagiarizing on a research paper. 

Marci Hamilton, a writer for CNN, further explains the importance of enforcing copyright laws. “In a culture without copyright, only the rich, or the government-sponsored, could be this culture’s full-time creators. Poor artists would have to flip burgers long into their music careers – and might even give up on music entirely. In the end, then, there is no such thing as cost-free downloading.” She continued in saying, “It may be fiscally free today, but it will cost society dearly in the future.”

Because the danger of getting caught is higher for college students, many universities now have databases available, which lead to legal file sharing websites and programs.

Is hormonal contraception harming the environment?

By BRITTANY WALDER

Staff Writer

 

In the 1960s, the advent of the “Pill” was an efficient way to prevent unplanned pregnancies.  It was more effective than other forms of birth control, and “liberated” a generation of women by putting contraception into the hands of the people it effected most.

 More than forty years later, hormonal contraception is one of the most popular methods of birth control, but recent studies have suggested that the once revolutionary Pill may be having dangerous effects on the environment.

In 2005, scientists from the University of Colorado pulled 123 fish from the water near the Boulder sewage treatment plant, and found that only 12 of the fish were male.  Of the remaining fish, 10 had both male and female characteristics.  A similar situation occurred in 2007, when University of Pittsburg scientists found similar results in the Allegheny River.  Massive amounts of the female hormone estrogen have been detected in water supplies, which many believe is causing gender ambiguity in populations of fish.

Scientists have also begun to send up red flags regarding the possibility that an elevated level of synthetic estrogen in drinking water may pose a threat to humans.  Contraceptive estrogen has been linked to cancer, unstable hormone levels, and even recently an increase in male infertility.

 The amount of research regarding the transmission of synthetic estrogen into the environment has been abnormally limited.  Whether these findings have any substantial evidence is virtually unknown, and unaddressed outside of the scientific community.  If anything, the issue should raise the questions of what we are doing to ourselves and what we are doing to our already fragile environment.

Regardless of the results of future research, it is unlikely that if adverse affects on humans and the environment are occurring that women will stop using hormonal contraception any time soon.  Once more, human beings will likely choose convenience over conservation, and neglect our responsibility to the planet and to one another—the ultimate irony in what is supposed to be such an “eco-friendly” era.

Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

 

Jeanette Walls, author of the popular novel, The Glass Castle, visted campus recently.

Jeanette Walls, author of the popular novel, The Glass Castle, visted campus recently.

 

By MELISSA PILEIRO

Editor-in-Chief

Jeannette Walls used to pretend that her childhood never happened. Years later, she is finally facing her mother’s challenge and telling the whole truth.

“I used to be ashamed of my story,” Walls admitted to a packed audience at the Fine and Performing Arts Center on March 2nd. Her story—a childhood of poverty, homelessness, dysfunction and alcoholism—is CCC’s One Book, One College selection for this academic year, The Glass Castle. Those who have read the book will know that Ms. Walls struggled for many years to hide her abnormal past behind a successful, wealthy career in journalism.

In writing The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls hoped to reach not only those who grew up poor, but the wealthy as well. Regarding poor young people, she hoped that someone would read the book and think, “’If she made it, maybe I can, too.’ A dream, and a hope for the future, is a more valuable gift than a fancy place to live.” There is usually at least some division between the rich and poor, and Walls sought to bridge that gap. “Maybe a rich kid would read it and have sympathy for someone who grew up on the other side of the tracks,” she said. 

In her childhood, it was rare for Jeannette and her three siblings to have a roof over their head for long, or even a hot meal. In hindsight, though, she says that the lessons she learned from her experiences were overwhelmingly positive. “We might not have had food and we might not have had coal, but my parents never laughed at my dreams and ambitions.” Beyond that, her parents always taught her to make the best out of every bad situation. “Every bad experience has a incredibly valuable gift wrapped up inside, as long as we open ourselves up to learn from it.”

Above all, Walls’ rise to success is an inspirational story for anyone, regardless of financial or social status. After high school, Jeannette left her parents and two siblings to follow her older sister to New York.   Her perseverance landed her small jobs at newspapers around the city, and eventually led to a position with MSNBC. 

Since then, Jeannette has left journalism in order to focus her attention on promoting The Glass Castle. During her presentation here at Cumberland, she announced that casting is in progress for a movie adaptation of the book, but she wouldn’t reveal any considerations for parts. “I will tell you that the person they’re considering to play me really looks nothing like me,” she joked. Walls recently handed in the manuscript for a second book called Half-Broke Horses, a fictional first-person account of her grandmother’s life.

Walls shared her advice for students, particularly those in journalism and communications, during a conversation after the event: “Always persevere. Be willing to take whatever little jobs you can find and do the legwork to work your way up. Just do what my mama always told me: always tell the truth.”

Amnesty International Club to hold film festival

photo courtesy of Google Images

 

By LENNY DESERIO

Staff Writer

The Amnesty International Club of Cumberland County College will be holding a film festival starting on Wednesday, March 25th and concluding on Wednesday, April 8th. Amnesty will be holding the film festival in the Conference Center here at CCC and will show the following films: The Devil Came on Horseback, Blood Diamond and Hotel Rwanda. The films will be shown at 2 p.m. each Wednesday of the festival (3/25, 4/4 and 4/8)  in their entirety.

The Devil Came on Horseback is a documentary about the ongoing crisis in Darfur, Sudan, Blood Diamond deals with control of the diamond fields in Sierra Leone (a country in West Africa), and Hotel Rwanda deals with the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.  

According to Amnesty International Club member Mike Lorenzo, the club is focusing on these films since each of these deal with genocide, a major issue that the group works to put an end to. “Even though this is happening far away there is hope we can make a difference,” said Lorenzo.  “Students sometimes feel there isn’t anything that can be done to stop the brutality of genocide, but there is hope. That’s why we decided to show these films.”  

There will be no admission fee for the film festival. All students are invited and are encouraged to come out and attend. Students are also encouraged to ask their instructors whether or not they’ll receive extra credit. Since the films are about genocide, they are rated ‘R’ and are graphic in nature; students are asked to use their discretion when bringing children to the event.

Is Chinese Democracy worth the hype?

 

Axl Rose lead signer of Guns N Roses

Axl Rose lead singer of Guns N' Roses

 

 

By BRITTANY WALDER

Staff Writer

 

After 14 years, numerous lineup changes, does Guns N’ Roses’ sixth studio album Chinese Democracy live up to nearly two decades of anticipation?

When Guns N’ Roses came roaring onto the scene in the late 1980s, they were a raw, militant force in the industry, representing rock in its crudest form. 

Between 1987 and 2008, Guns N’ Roses saw a complete overhaul.  One of the last remaining members from the group’s golden age, Slash, was fired in 1996.

The album finally hit stores on November 23, 2008 after a purported $13 million in the making. Sales have been remarkably low, but critics have been generally positive.

“A few songs” do hold a genuine appeal, but when it comes down to it, Chinese Democracy sounds so eerily familiar and remarkably bland.  The album is a montage of whiny industrial rock, the sole force on the album resting in the irony of the title track.  The lyrics ring with the reverberations of a melodrama that has become a staple in modern music, and which, not surprisingly has long since lost its appeal.  Rose attempts to perform with the same rowdy angst that  is evident he no longer feels.

The effects are dismal, and when compared with the band’s heyday and the ridiculously long wait for the album’s release, is also really sad.

These faults might have been forgivable if Democracy was released even 10 years ago, thrown together amidst the destruction of the original band, when Rose opted to swap every iconic member for some less celebrated musician who would succeed only in stripping Guns N’ Roses’ style down to the bare essentials—music, riffs, discontent, and generic rock.

Nearly two decades of work should have theoretically produced something beyond mediocre.  Axl Rose’s vocals are mellow when compared to his performance  on earlier compositions.  He sounds like someone who is desperately trying to have fun doing something that no longer gives him a sense of satisfaction.

Overall, Guns N’ Roses doesn’t have the magnetism to pull in new listeners with Democracy.  If anything, it will, however, strike a nostalgic chord with longtime fans.  It is unlikely that like its predecessor, Chinese Democracy will be hailed for years to come.

The Bottom Line: 2 out of 5

Sittenfeld offers a female Holden Caulfield and a First Lady satire

 

photo courtesy of http://www.newsday.com

 

By SUSIE REMPFER

Staff Writer

Curtis Sittenfeld is quickly rising to the top as an author to be remembered.

Her first novel Prep instantly climbed the bestseller’s list to the number eleven position. For those who’ve ever read J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and wished Holden Caulfield had a female counterpart, Prep is a book worth looking into. 

Inspired by her time spent at boarding school, as well as drawing inspiration from the ‘80s sitcom The Facts of Life, Curtis is able to paint the perfect picture. Prep is not only a page-turner, but it is also a believable and ingenious story about coming of age, without making its theme overtly obvious. 

Sittenfeld notes how Prep was turned down, and then “un-turned down” by one editor, who originally thought the novel was, “too dark and well written to be successfully marketed as chick-lit.” And upon reading Prep, you notice that “chick-lit” doesn’t properly fit, rather, Sittenfeld creates a genre all her own.

In her latest novel, American Wife, Curtis draws inspiration from First Lady Laura Bush. 

“Soon after George W. Bush was elected, I read a few articles about Laura Bush that made her seem different from what I would have expected. I learned that she’s a big reader, and that she would invite people who had political opinions different from her husband’s to events at the governor’s mansion and then events at the White House,” Sittenfeld said in one interview. 

Although drawing from real-life inspired events, Sittenfeld creates fiction, and once again creates a masterpiece. As one critic put it, “The result is a masterful mash-up of highbrow and lowbrow that satisfies as ass-kicking literary fiction and juicy gossip simultaneously.”

American Wife deals with issues such as having an abortion and discovering your grandmother is a lesbian, it also involves a fatal car accident that twists the plot unexpectedly (this incident is factual: Laura Bush was part of a fatal car accident at 16). 

For those desperately seeking good writing, Curtis Sittenfeld is an author that always succeeds in exceeding expectations.