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Need More Potter? Welcome To Pottermore
By Kelsey Gulick, Grade 9

We've read all of the books, seen all of the movies, played through all of the video games - fans still cry out for more. An online world, perhaps? Will they get it? Well, maybe.

Welcome to Pottermore! An online, interactive reading experience that brings the vast amount of Potter fans into Harry's world! While some fans will be disappointed in hearing that it's a 'reading experience' and not a MMO (massively multi-player online game), this will surely be a site to check out once it's open for the public on October 1. J.K. Rowling even has some surprises for us: No longer shall we just be reading what we already know, but we shall be introduced to eighteen-thousand words of information about Harry's world that Rowling says she's been hoarding for years.

However, it's not all reading. There will be gaming elements that are sure to please fans. Players will go to Ollivandor's to receive their very own wand, and will be sorted into one of the four houses.

Ever noticed that you can't find any of J.K. Rowling's books in eBook form? There's a reason behind that. Pottermore will be the only place that you can find them.

Ready for an online Potter experience? I'll see you on Pottermore, October 1st.

Sources:
http://blog.games.yahoo.com/blog/793-pottermore-less-games-more-reading;_ylt=AgUfAldlb.MYUQlcRezKc_lfzssh
http://pc.ign.com/articles/117/1178428pl.html
http://www.cheatcc.com/ccc_newsserve

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Halo Remake and New Trilogy Announced at E3 2011  
By Russell Adler

That’s right - there is going to be a remake of the first Halo game: Combat Evolved. And, as a bonus, a new Halo trilogy has also been announced. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 4 were officially announced at the E3 2011 Expo.

After the cliffhanger ending of Halo 3, fans will rejoice after watching the trailer that confirms the further adventures of Master Chief and Cortana. With the Halo remake, players will once again control the heroic Master Chief as they discover the mysterious ring-world, Halo, in enhanced graphics! Both will be released on the Xbox 360.

What does the remake have to offer? The original campaign is remastered for the Xbox 360, and the beloved multi-player maps are enhanced for Xbox Live! That’s right - you can play online! You can even play the campaign on co-op online. Once again, Superhuman Master Chief and A.I. Cortana will travel through Halo, fighting the Covenant (an evil group of Alien species), rescuing team mates and uncovering a force more powerful and more sinister than the Covenant.

Old fans will enjoy the remade campaign, and new fans will witness the origins of the legendary series. The remake will be released November, 15, 2011, exactly ten years since the release of the original Halo.

Halo 4 is going to be the first in a new trilogy of Halo games. Master Chief, and his Artificial Intelligence counterpart, Cortana, will return after five years. Sadly, it will be a little while before Halo 4 is released; the trailer announces a holiday 2012 release. Not much is known about Halo 4, except that it will be the first of a new trilogy, and that it will be developed by three-hundred and forty three industries, as well as the remake.

Both games are available for pre-order and their ratings are currently unknown, but will probably be rated M for Mature, like the original trilogy. Parental discretion is recommended.    

Sources:
http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page
http://www.gamestop.com/xbox-360/games/halo-combat-evolved-anniversary/91401
http://www.gamestop.com/xbox-360/games/halo-4/91448
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9iQiHNXgMU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U95yDEhEUl8&feature=relmfu

 
 
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Most Famous Movie of All Time!
By Amanda Leal, Grade 12

Have you ever wondered which movie has ever made the most money? Well, no need to wait any longer, because I’ve got the answer! Pirates of The Caribbean? No. Tranformers? No. Then what? According to chacha.com the 1997 drama “Titanic,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, made $1.8 million. Wow! That seems reasonable.

Wait, has another movie beaten the romance? Yes! The 2009 movie, “Avatar,” starring Sam Worthington and Zoey Saldana, grossed over $2.5 billion. Sorry, “Titanic,” “Avatar”’s got you beat! “Avatar” is about a man who is sent out to retrieve information about the planet of Pandora, but then finds out the truth about what his superiors are planning and tries to save Pandora. How cool would it be if this was real?! Totally!

If you like the action type movie, “Avatar” is the way to go; if you like sappy love stories, then “Titanic” is the way to. Even though each has a little bit of the other in them.

What about this year? So far, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” has raised $261 million. That’s great considering the fact that it has only been in theatres for one month. “Avatar” and “Titanic,” you’ve got some competition!

Sources:
colider.com  chacha.com and imdb.com/chart/
Image by Hannah Fishbough, Grade 12

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Review of “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”
By Christy Box, Grade 10

She started out as a maid. However, contrary to the usual “Cinderella stories,” she didn’t fall in love with someone rich and live happily ever after. Instead, Gladys Aylward became a missionary in a remote area of China. She gained her fame, not by going from rags to riches, but by completely changing the place where she lived, as well as the people who lived there.

“The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” is a film made in 1958, starring Ingrid Bergman, Curt Jurgens, and Robert Donat. Gladys Aylward (Bergman) goes to London to be sent to China as a missionary by the missionary society. However, she is turned down because she is not qualified. This setback doesn’t stop her, though, and she saves enough money as a maid to go to China by the most dangerous (but cheapest) route, via land through Russia, where a border dispute is going on. She starts off on a long trip that does not guarantee survival. When she arrives in China, she helps an aging missionary set up an inn (which they call the Inn of the Sixth Happiness). However, Gladys meets some opposition from a Eurasian soldier, Capt. Lin Nan (Jurgens) and the leader of the town, the Mandarin (Donat). Wanting to get Gladys out of the way, the Mandarin appoints her as “foot inspector,” a dangerous job where she has to stop the centuries-old custom of foot-binding. She surprises everyone by not only excelling at this job (and others she picks up), but becoming known over the next few years as Jen-Ai, “the one who loves the people,” finding success in everything from stopping a prison riot to leading one-hundred orphans across the mountains to escape a war. Meanwhile, a romance develops between her and the Captain, who begins to find out there’s more to Gladys than he first thought.

Yes, this is, in fact, a true story. Gladys Aylward really did live and do all of the things in the movie, as unbelievable as that may seem. There are certain discrepancies. The romance between her and Captain Lin Nan was exaggerated (though not completely untruthful). A few small facts were changed, but otherwise the movie is a correct representation of her life up to the time she fled from her inn. She was even still alive at the time this movie came out, and was then setting up a children’s home in Taiwan.

The actors in this movie were terrific. Ingrid Bergman does a wonderful job as the caring, clever missionary. Though her Swedish appearance and accent are nothing like the short, dark appearance and British accent of the real Gladys Aylward, she does the part so well that you forget. Curt Jurgens did well with both sides of the complex soldier. Robert Donat, in his last role, was the most moving of all as the Mandarin. You could clearly see the character begin to change as the movie progressed.

This movie has the perfect balance of action, great dialogue, romance, and even comedy. Throughout the entire two and a half hours of this movie, you never get bored because there’s always a new aspect to switch to. It’s a movie for every kind of person, whether you prefer war, romance, inspirational, or adventure stories. It has something for everyone.

I recommend everyone watch “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness,” and find out about a genuinely amazing woman. If you would like to learn more about her, you can also read her autobiography, “The Little Woman.” Happy watching!

Source:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051776/
Public Domain image of the real Gladys Aylward

 
 
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The Legend of Korra
By Kelsey Gulick, Grade 9

Do you remember back when Nickelodeon’s hit show Avatar: The Last Airbender was on television? Do you remember how audiences young and old were swept away by the great story and wonderful characters that the show contained? Ladies and gentlemen, the Avatar returns!

Placed seventy years after the time in which Avatar: The Last Airbender’s story takes place, Nickelodeon’s upcoming mini-series, The Last Airbender: Legend Of Korra, will follow the story of Korra, Aang’s successor. The show, unlike its mother series, will stay mainly in one location: Republic City, a place where all the nations reside.

This time, rather than fighting against a rebellious nation, Korra must fight against a new anti-bending belief - all while mastering airbending (the only bending technique left for her to learn).

The show is now set to premier with twenty-six episodes in the next year, although it had previously been set for November of this year with only twelve episodes. There will be no filler episodes, since it is a mini-series. Joaquim Dos Santos and Ryuki Hung will both be returning to the show, where it is assumed that they will be working on things like the animation and the design, since that’s what they did in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Also, Jeremy Zuckerman will return to create the soundtrack for the series, as he did in the previous series.

Some of the original cast will return to voice characters in the Legend Of Korra, such as Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of both Appa and Momo, and Dante Basco, the voice of Zuko. Although Basco will not be playing Zuko, it has been confirmed that the character will be, in some way, related to Zuko’s character.

I don’t know about you all, but I am definitely looking forward to the premier of The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra.

Sources:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Airbender:_Legend_Of_Korra
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar:_The_Last_Airbender
Image by Hannah Fishbough, Grade 12

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5th Quarter: A Movie Review
By Nicole Sills, Grade 9

This story may make you rethink letting teens drive at age sixteen. "5th Quarter" is an inspirational movie based on the true story of young man named Luke Abbate - only fifteen when he died.

The story behind the movie: in February, 2006, Luke Abbate needed a ride home.  His friend offered him one and Luke accepted. Luke was not the only one in the car with this driver; there were several other people. The driver decided to experiment, despite the objections of Luke and the other passengers. At almost 90 mph, the driver lost control of the car; the car spun off the narrow road and onto an embankment, about seventy feet below them.  

Luke was rushed to the hospital with irreparable brain damage. There was nothing that could be done, and he died two days later, four days before his sixteenth birthday.  

On the day of his death, his parents made a difficult decision: to allow the doctors do what they wanted with Luke’s organs. Within the next few days, the doctors found five people who needed organs that Luke could give them. One of the patients included a mother who needed a heart transplant. They rushed the heart across the country where the mother lived, and because Luke and mother both had the same uncommon blood type, the doctors could save her life with Luke’s heart.

Luke’s brother, Jon, was considering giving up his football career, but knowing what his brother would have wanted, he did not. Upon his return to the team, he got approval from the head coach to change his number from forty, to his brother’s number: five.  After the third quarter ended in a game after Luke’s death, Jon held his hand up high and outstretched his five fingers. His parents followed, and slowly his teammates caught on. Gradually, the fans of Wake Forest, and the fans of the opposing team, joined in. The final quarter of each game became known as Luke’s Quarter - the 5th Quarter.

Make sure to see this movie today, it is sure to be a huge hit!

Sources:
http://the5thquartermovie.com/about/

 
 
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The Final Hour: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
By Christy Box, Grade 11

Until I saw this movie, I really didn’t care for the Harry Potter series. Whatever my opinion of this series was before, I now stand corrected. This movie is the most epic tale you will see in a long time.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 begins exactly where Part 1 left off: Harry Potter must find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, discover the secrets of the Deathly Hallows, and defeat Lord Voldemort (who is now in possession of a powerful wand and powerful followers). However, there are many surprises and secrets still left for Harry, as everything we have seen suddenly comes together in a thrilling finale to an amazing series.

The plot of this film was so well-written and believable that you will hardly remember you’re watching a movie. You can feel the tension build as the story progresses. The story easily transitions from comedy to drama, drama to romance, and romance to thriller in just the span of a few minutes, taking you along for the ride. The dialogue is amazing and will leave you with many new favorite quotes. Most importantly, the entire film will leave you on the edge of your seat.

The acting in this movie was also first-rate. Every actor was completely into their character. First and foremost, Daniel Radcliffe did his best job as of yet playing Harry Potter, and Ralph Fiennes made Lord Voldemort seem real. Kudos must also be given to Alan Rickman for showing several sides of Snape we had never seen before (and never expected). These actors brought the characters to life and made us love them all.

As I sat in the theater of the midnight premiere, all around me there were cheers, applause, laughter, and sobs. For the first time, I cried during a movie. As the series finally ends with a bang, we’ll all be sad to see the story and our favorite characters leave us. However, I recommend this finale to everyone, whether or not you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series: You may find that you are a fan after all.

Source:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1201607/

Photograph by Russell Adler

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The End of the Harry Potter Series
By Ashley Viera

The last movie of the Harry Potter book and movie series recently premiered in theaters on July 15, 2011. I
personally attended the premiere at Sunset Mall.

The last movie involves Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), a teenage wizard, and his mission to kill his menace, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). In order to complete this task, Harry must find three objects known as the "Deathly Hallows"; together, they make one master of death. In addition, there are seven other objects known as Horcruxes, which hold pieces of one’s soul, namely Voldemort’s; as long as the Horcruxes are not destroyed, he will live.
 
Harry Potter is joined by two friends on this arduous and audacious duty - Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson).

The movie was technologically well constructed and breathtakingly compelling. The movie was action-packed, with scenes such as the intense break-in of the Gringotts Wizarding Bank, to the impacting, evocative final battle between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter. The acting was equally entertaining and impressive; almost every scene depicted exactly as in the book.

Although there are many grand aspects about this movie, there are others which have left me thwarted and disconsolate. One of these is the scene of Fred's (Ron's brother) death, which was made to be brief and trivial, which is wrong, for it is a vital scene in the movie. Continuing, the movie felt rushed; details and emotional connections in between characters were unconsidered for.

My cousin and her friend, however, considered the movie “perfect and epic.”

Artwork by Hannah Fishbough, Grade 12

 
 
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The Glee Project
By Loren Allen, Grade 9

Glee creators and producers have started a new competition unlike any other on Oxygen channel.

They came to the realization that some of the original characters of the Glee cast are graduating and will have to leave the show. The solution? Start a competition where the competitors must sing, dance, and act... but most importantly, show that they belong on Glee. 

The producers first had the tough job of cutting thousands of hopeful auditioners down to eighty-three. After that cut, they had to choose just twelve contestants that made it onto the cast of the reality show The Glee Project. But they have their eye on a much bigger show: Glee.

Contestants record, dance, act, and perform each week in front of Glee executives hoping to get noticed. 

The winner of the Glee Project gets to be a guest star on six episodes of Glee.

Go big or go home!

Source:
http://thegleeproject.oxygen.com/bios-enhanced-listerine
Graphic by Priscilla G., Grade 9

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The Voice on NBC
By Loren Allen, Grade 9

Every Tuesday night, NBC’s The Voice came on. The show's goal was to make the next music super star.

The show started out by each of the four coaches picking the contestants for their teams. Some of the hottest people in the music business are the coaches: Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine. These auditons were done in way unique to reality television: blind. It didn't matter how old the contestant was, what they looked like, what they were wearing, or how they worked the stage. They were being judged completely on their voice.  

After the auditions and each coach has their team in place, a series of intense elimination rounds occur until the winner, the voice, is found.
 
Javier Colon won the first season of The Voice, but a new and exciting competition begins soon with season two.  

Stay tuned!

Source: 
http://www.nbc.com/the-voice/ 
Photograph by Kristin Whittingto​n, Grade 9

 
 
Wait...What Just Happened?: A Review of “The Event”
By Christy Box, Grade 10

What happens when you mix aliens, political intrigue, hijacked planes, kidnappings, and strange characters? You get “The Event.”

“The Event” is a 2010 TV series starring Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Scott Patterson, and Taylor Cole. It is really impossible to place it into one genre, but science fiction may be most appropriate. The plot begins when Sean Walker (Ritter) takes his girlfriend (Roemer) on a trip to propose to her. However, things take a strange turn of events when they meet a couple on the same cruise. Sean’s girlfriend gets sick and stays in her room one day, and by the time Sean gets back to her, she has disappeared. Not only that, but there is no longer any record of them even being aboard the ship.

Intertwined in this crazy conspiracy are his girlfriend’s father (Patterson), who is forced to hijack a plane, and one of the President’s advisers, Sophia, who seems to know far more than she tells. Everything is going like any normal conspiracy theory plot...until the plane disappears into thin air. It is soon discovered that all this insanity is the work of a group of stranded aliens. That’s right. Aliens.

There is no contest. “The Event” is the weirdest show on TV right now. I have honestly never stared at a show in confusion, wondering where that plane went. What’s more, that was only the pilot. The next twenty episodes lead you on an adventure you can hardly believe. This is part of what keeps the show interesting. Because they come up with the strangest twists and turns, you can never tell what will happen next. Besides, once you get into science fiction territory, anything can happen. It’s a rather addicting show.

At first, it’s hard to care about the characters. You have an interest in Sean and his girlfriend, but the rest are too underdeveloped. However, as the show continued, the character develop more and more (and in very intriguing ways).

Conclusion? It’s an all right show. While “The Event” is not an outstanding hit show, it still keeps up a good pace and an intriguing plot. It just finished its first and only season with a huge cliffhanger, and they are currently looking into other channels and outlets to pick up the show now that NBC has cancelled it. If you have some free time, look into some previous episodes. It just might keep you hooked.

Source:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1582459/
Simon Cowell: The Story Behind the Legend
By Rachael Britton, Grade 9

We all know about Simon Cowell, long time judge of American Idol, X-Factor, and other talent shows around the UK and USA. He’s a music critic, to say the least. He also has a giant reputation for making blunt, maybe even un-called for comments about people’s musical and even physical abilities. In a nutshell, Simon is a love him or hate him kind of guy. But what most people don’t know is how Cowell managed to become the famous man he is. How did he become a judge on one of America’s favourite TV shows, the famed American Idol? Before we can get to those kinds of hard-hitting questions, let’s start with some basics of Simon.

Simon Phillip Cowell was born in Lambeth, London on October 7, 1959, which would make his age now 51. His father, Eric Cowell, was involved in the music industry, and his mother, Julie Brett, was a former ballerina. He has four brothers, three of which are half-brothers, and Simon is the 3rd oldest of them all. Simon says the first time he gave someone criticism was when he was four. His mother was wearing a white, fuzzy pillow box hat, and he said to her, “Mum, you look like a poodle.”

In his late teens, he tried all sorts of jobs, but found it hard to cooperate with his bosses and colleagues until finally his father, an executive at a giant recording studio called EMI Music Publishing, was able to find him a job at the age of 17 working in the mail room. It’s quite hard to believe that he went from being considered the bottom of the industrial food chain to what the Sunday Times list estimated his net worth of in 2009: a whopping $196 million dollars!

Simon worked his way up, working for several music companies, but not making much of a success. At one point when Simon was 30 years old, he actually had to move back in with his parents because of debt problems. But that didn’t stop good ‘ole Simon! He kept climbing the rungs of the music industry ladder, and soon found himself with his own music company, Syco Music. He also released many novelty records that featured popular kids shows like Teletubbies, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and Zig and Zag.

His father died in 1999 of a heart attack on the very day that Simon got his first #1 in his then unknown band Westlife, which his father had always predicted would make it big.

In 2002, Cowell was offered the position of a judge on the 1st season of American Idol, and continued his hefty role in the program until 2010.

He is now engaged to make up artist Mezhgan Hussainy, who he met on the set of American Idol in February of 2010.

He also signed a deal with FOX letting his production company broadcast his shows Britain's Got Talent and American Inventor on other channels, as long as he did not appear in the shows.

In the United Kingdom, he signed a deal with ITV for £6.5 million pounds, or $10.67 million dollars for 3 years that gave ITV the rights to his shows X-Factor, a British vocal talent show, much like Britain’s Got Talent and American Idol, and Grease is the Word, a show looking for talent to appear in London’s West End revival of the musical Grease.

In 2007, he earned roughly $72 million dollars from his various projects. So by this time, he was very famous, and very rich. Despite many people accusing him of not knowing talent and being partial to British contestants on his other shows on account of his nationality, he never gave up when negative comments came his way and kept a positive outlook on America as a whole.

“If you would have asked me what I thought of America before I came over here I would have used the word 'corny'. And then you come over here and you find that it's not corny at all. British people are very cynical, they cannot bear someone else's success. Americans embrace other people's success. Everything in America is larger than life.”

His British talent competition show, X-Factor, is moving to America, starting September 11th of this year. Cowell is also the executive producer of popular TV show Britain’s Got Talent that had roughly 12 million viewers a week, which beat rival producer and creator of American Idol Simon Fuller’s So You Think You Can Dance.

Simon also has several other shows that he has either produced or co-produced, including American Inventor, Celebrity Duets, Grease is the Word, and Rock Rivals. He also wrote an autobiography, titled by his catchphrase, “I Don’t Mean to be Rude, but...”. In it, he writes about his childhood and his experiences with the different shows he’s been involved with over the years.

Most people tend to think of Simon Cowell, the 6th richest person in the British music industry, as a heartless man who gets his kicks out of putting down contestants and auditionee’s on his several talent shows around the world. But Simon does indeed seem to have a heart. On a season of American Idol, a female contestant told the judges that she had quit her job to pursue her dream of becoming America’s next Idol. After hearing her audition and being rejected, Simon called her boss and got her job back for her. He is also involved with many charity organizations.

When asked if he ever felt guilty about being honest to American Idol contestants, he replied, "No, what I am doing is kind by telling people who are useless 'Do something that you're good at'. So I would only feel guilt if I misled somebody who was terrible.” And when asked why he might be so rude to some contestants, he said, “Sit in these auditions for three weeks and hear "I Believe I Can Fly" out of tune for the millionth time, YOU try and be nice.”

So he can’t be all bad, right? A lot of people would beg to differ. Whatever the opinion one holds of brutally honest Simon Cowell, one must recognize how far he's come since working in that mail room at age 17.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_cowell
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1101562/
 
 
Actor Spotlight: Timothy Dalton
By Christy Box, Grade 10

When it comes to the best actors of all time, few people immediately think of Timothy Dalton. However, this sometimes under-appreciated actor deserves a ranking among the best. His best works include:

King Phillip II in “The Lion in Winter” (1968)
Heathcliff in “Wuthering Heights” (1970)
Mr. Rochester in “Jane Eyre” (1983)
James Bond in “The Living Daylights” (1987)
James Bond in “Licence to Kill” (1989)
Rhett Butler in “Scarlett” (1994)
Boris Pochenko in “The Beautician and the Beast” (1997)
Voice of Mr. Pricklepants in “Toy Story 3” (2010)
Chief Inspector Jones in “The Tourist” (2010)
Alexei Volkoff in “Chuck” (2010-2011)

You might have noticed from the parts he is famous for that he is great at playing complex characters. Perhaps that’s because he is a complex character himself. He is frequently quoted saying how much he disliked playing James Bond, but he considers playing Mr. Rochester in “Jane Eyre” to be one of his best. He is often referred to as a Shakespearean actor, and most of his characters are dark, mysterious, and complicated.

Timothy Dalton is really a world-class actor. His portrayal of Mr. Rochester was one of the most accurate ever done. In his part in “Chuck,” he showed he is able to transition seamlessly from drama to comedy to adventure. He showed in “Toy Story 3” and a part in “Looney Tune: Back in Action” that he’s not afraid to take light-hearted parts. He has taken on several characters that were last portrayed by Olivier, Clark Gable, Sean Connery, and other greats, and every time he has been matchless.

If you want to watch some of Timothy Dalton’s works, check out some of the great movies and shows he has done.

Writer’s Recommendations: “Jane Eyre” (1983) and “Chuck” (2010-2011)

Sources:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001096/
Demi Lovato left Sonny with a Chance                      
By Niharika, Grade 10
                     
Popular Disney Channel star Demi Lovato has announced that she will leave her hit television show Sonny With a Chance. Lovato told PEOPLE, "It's kind of sad for me that a chapter of my life has ended but there couldn't be a better time for me to move on."

"I don't think going back to Sonny would be healthy for my recovery," said Lovato on her recent time in rehab. She made this major decision to focus on her health and well-being.

Disney has accepted Lovato’s decision and can’t wait to see where she will go in the future.

Lovato will take a break from acting to focus on her singing career and will be releasing her third album soon.

Sonny with a Chance has been replaced by So Random!, a spin-off of the show. Catch it every Sunday on Disney Channel. Check your local network for times.     

Source:
http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20483103,00.html
 
 
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The Other Side of Down – Another Side of David?
By Grace Cunningham, Grade 8

It was October 5, 2010 – exactly one year, ten months, and twenty-four days after David Archuleta’s self-titled, debut album was released. On that day, nearly two years later, David’s second full-length album, The Other Side of Down, was launched into the waiting hands of millions of fans worldwide.

The album is full of optimistic pop, with a certain twist of David’s personality that he himself has dubbed “dorkiness.” However, even with that comment, The Other Side of Down features much of David’s musical maturity.

As you listen to the beginning title track, the bouncy, energetic seeds of the album are planted. With uplifting lyrics about seeing things from a new, more positive perspective and an upbeat tempo, “The Other Side of Down” makes for an encouraging starter.

“Something ‘Bout Love”, the second track, is another bubbly tune. More electronic influence can be heard in it than in the first song, but it isn’t too much.

Strong tastes of acoustic guitar can be heard in the third track. A song revolving around confusion, “Elevator” provides a whimsical view on rolling with the punches, so to speak, throughout uncertainty.

“Stomping the Roses” cheerfully explains one's frustration with somebody who is immature and careless; somebody who doesn't seem to mind if they ruin something beautiful (hence the "stomping" of the "roses") or hurt someone else.

An account of self-searching is made in "Who I Am" - yet another buoyant tune. If you listen closely, you can hear David singing, "I don't care if Jeff Fenster is calling." Interestingly enough, Jeff Fenster is the former executive of Jive Records, and that line, most likely, is referring to David's eventual departure from the label this past February. As for the musical aspects of the track, a simple, acoustic piano/guitar rhythm duo lines the song with frequently harmonizing vocals.

"Look Around", the eighth track, gives listeners the album's only techno-esque feel, complete with heavy synth (for David Archuleta, anyway) and 8-bit finale. The lyrics advise someone to stop living in a self-made fantasy, and to see what they really need in the actual world around them.

The ninth track, "Good Place", has the strongest rock influence of all the songs on the whole album. Additionally, strings and a marching beat make for a peculiarly refreshing bridge.

Ironically titled "Complain" discusses contentment, even during trying situations and dissatisfaction. It also seems to musically resemble John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" (especially at the end of the song's bridge), perhaps just with a more electronic sound. This similarity isn't surprising - David has listed Mayer as one of his musical influences.

Promising anthem, "Things Are Gonna Better", takes the album for a hopeful spin. Choral vocals can be heard behind David, adding energy to the song.

Finally, the fantastic album comes to a heartfelt end with "My Kind of Perfect". On this finalizing track, listeners hear of the search for the girl who is, well, "his kind of perfect". Moreover, there's nothing exceptionally fancy about the last track - just a simple piano accompanying David's smooth voice.

Overall, The Other Side of Down proves to be a fun and spirit-lifting album full of mood-brightening lyrics and infectious beats. You definitely cannot wrong with David Archuleta’s latest collection of optimism-infused pop.

Source:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Archuleta

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Top 10 Movies To See This Summer (Part 1)
By Rachael Britton, Grade 9

If you go to the movies this week, pay attention to the theatrical previews. They aren’t your typical, lame, dull previews about Coke and popcorn selling at the snack bar. Instead, you’ll see action-packed, comical, and dramatic sneak peaks advertising the new films that will soon be at a theatre near you. But not every movie is a must-see, though most of them are. Here are some obvious, and not quite so obvious choices for your next night at the theatre.

10. Cowboys and Aliens - The title pretty much sums it all up. Arizona. 1873.  A strange man with no name and no memory of who he is wanders into the fear-ridden town of Absolution. The only clue to his identity is an abnormal shackle he wears upon his wrist. He’s considered an outcast until a bizarre space craft lands. The residents soon find that their outcast is their only hope of salvation, and it’s up to this man and his posse of the town to rid the Earth of the demon’s from the sky. With a cast that includes Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, and a production team that includes the director of Iron Man, Jon Favreau, this movie is sure to be an instant hit. Make sure to mark your calender for opening night, July 29!

9. Super 8 - Coming to the cinema screen June 10, this sci-fi flick is sure to delight adults and kids alike. A group of kids living in the year 1979 find some mysterious things going on after they witness a strange train crash. Soon they investigate, and find it’s up to them to solve this strange intriguing dilemma. Directed by J. J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, you know it has to be great!

8. Cars 2 -  The sequel to Cars, which made it’s debut appearance all the way back in June of 2006, has got a lot of youngsters talking. While the first Cars was about Lighting McQueen (Owen Wilson), a famous race car, getting stuck in a rinky-dink town, this sequel finds Lighting and his newly-found friends of Route 66 preparing for an adventure of a lifetime; racing across the world against some of the world’s fastest and coolest cars. This film is scheduled to race it’s way into theatres June 24.  

7. Priest - Some might think this is just another vampire movie, and those few might be correct in that thinking. Set in an alternate world where years have been wasted away and ravaged by the constant struggle and wars between man and vampire and the world is ruled by The Church, this story revolves around a famed warrior priest, who now lives ominously in the midst of other humans. His niece is soon kidnapped by a band of blood-thirsty vampires, and he breaks his sacred vow to go on an exciting journey to rescue her, assisted by the niece’s boyfriend and a warrior priestess, who possesses unworldly powers. This is an action/horror/thriller that might not be right for everyone with a rating of PG-13. This film is now showing at most theatres.

6. The Muppets - They’re back with another hit-film, scheduled for release on November 23! The always in control Kermit, glamourous Miss Piggy, wild Animal, comical Fozzie Bear, and weird but lovable Gonzo reunite to save their old studio from a big oil tycoon with the help of three of their fans. This cast is star-studded to say the least, with appearances from Amy Adams, Katy Perry, Emily Blunt, Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, Jason Segal, Ricky Gervais, and even more!

There are 5 must-see movies! Check out Part II coming soon!

Sources:
http://www.etonline.com/movies/110948_10_Must_See_Movies_of_the_Summer/index.html?photo=11
The Muppets: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1204342/
Priest: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0822847/
Cars 2: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1216475/
Super 8: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1650062/
Cowboys and Aliens: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0409847/

 
 
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Accidental Agent: A Review of “Chuck”
by Christy Box, Grade 10

Have you dreamed of having a really exciting life? Maybe you’ve even had the dream of being a spy. It’s fun to dream about, but what if you had a regular life until one day when you were dragged into being a spy? Then you’d be just like Chuck.

“Chuck” is a series starting its fifth season this September. It stars Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, and Adam Baldwin. Chuck (Levi) is an ordinary, nice guy. He doesn’t really know where his life is going since he got kicked out of college for something he didn’t do. He’s working at an electronics store repairing computers...until one day when someone sends him a database of government secrets call The Intersect. These secrets are downloaded into his brain, and now Chuck has to help the CIA catch the bad guys with the Intersect and his own nerd skills. That is, with the help of Agents Sarah Walker (Strahovski) and John Casey (Baldwin).

The writing on this show is absolutely brilliant. Somehow, the writers manage to fit intrigue, adventure, romance, and loads of comedy into every episode. The comedy is perfectly written. Chuck always has a witty response ready, and even Casey’s dead serious lines turn out completely hilarious. The characters are extremely well-developed, even some of the more minor ones. The three main characters are perfect fits for each other. Chuck is an all-around good guy, but mostly inept. Sarah is a professional spy, but keeps getting her personal feelings mixed up with her job. Casey is a basic military tough guy, and the perfect foil for Chuck. However, there are some characters that work in the electronics store that could be done without. These characters were focused on a bit too much in the second season, but they have been given smaller and smaller parts.

The plots for every episode are very well-written, and frequently involve the characters (usually Chuck) having to get very far out of their comfort zone. The antagonists are everything they should be, and the spy work is awesome. One thing that is really great about this show is its balance between all kinds of genres, making it easy to get interested. The writing is somewhat similar to “White Collar” and “Psych,” so if you love these shows, you’ll probably love “Chuck.”

The actors are also first-rate. Although most of them are relatively new in Hollywood, they are still perfect in their parts. However, Adam Baldwin (no relation to the Baldwin brothers) has been acting since 1980, and he has even had parts in famous productions like “Independence Day.” All the actors seem to fit their characters, and the acting in the out-of-character moments is even better. “Chuck” also features some very well-known guest stars, like Brandon Routh (the latest Superman) as Shaw, Matt Bomer (Neal Caffrey from “White Collar”) as Bryce Larkin, Scott Bakula as Chuck’s father, and Nicole Richie and Chevy Chase as two of many villains on the show. The latest season starred Linda Hamilton as Chuck’s mom and Timothy Dalton as Volkoff, the ruthless yet lovable villain.

Overall, this show is fabulous. I consider it to be the best show running right now. I would say this show is simply awesome. It is the only show I have ever seen that never ceases to surprise you, leaves you laughing, and makes you care about the characters. If you’re looking for a great show that can make you laugh and still keep up suspense, you’ve found it. “Chuck” just finished its fourth season and will be returning in the fall for its fifth and final season. Come join the hundreds of thousands of viewers that already love “Chuck.”

Recommended Episodes: “Chuck vs. the Truth,” “Chuck vs. the Nemesis,” “Chuck vs. the Dream Job,” and “Chuck vs. the Ring.”

IMDB - “Chuck”
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0934814/

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And The Winner Is…
By Nicole Sills, Grade 9

“And the winner of American Idol Season 10 is…”  

That was about 10 seconds before the big news was announced by host Ryan Seacrest.  The crowd was silent, the tension was thick… there were only two people left, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina. After two hours of performances from the top 13, the big news was only 10 seconds away.  The two had their first singles prepared, ready to sing if they won.  But only one will be given that chance to sing in front of America one last time.  With the judges unanimously predicting that Lauren Alaina would be the next American Idol, the suspense was incredible.

“And the winner of American Idol Season 10 is… Scotty McCreery!”  Scotty was elated to say the least.  Seventeen years old… born and raised in Garner, NC, and quoted as saying, “I am going to work my tail off to get to the finale and to win this thing and bring it back to Garner, North Carolina!”

He was the most loved out of the two, appealing to the large female teen fan base of American Idol. One of his nicknames was “Scotty McHottie”!  

The crowd went wild when they heard that he had won.  When asked by Seacrest what he was feeling, his first words were, “First I want to thank the Lord, because without Him, I wouldn’t be here.”  The jubilation is still going on, and it will undoubtedly be quite some time before the excitement dies down!

Congratulations Scotty!  What an amazing 10th Anniversary Season, one that will never be forgotten.

 
 
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Great Minds: Ten Writers You Should Know
By Emily Smith, Grade 11

Many readers today simply pick up a book from the “Newly Arrived” section of a bookstore. While new literature certainly entertains, it does not always leave a lasting impression, and more often than not, the reader walks away without a bit of fresh thought or knowledge.

The following authors have kept their books on bookshelves for good reasons: content, cleverness, and complex thought. These authors have continuously inspired modern literature, and their themes carry on through various stories.
  1. Ezra Pound (1885-1972): Ezra Pound was an innovative poet far ahead of his time. He contributed to the modernist movement and experimented with imagism. He, and a small group of other forward thinking poets, removed themselves from the abstractness of poetry, and created concrete images with imagery.
  2. Langston Hughes (1902-1967): One of the most prominent African-American poets, Hughes wrote some of the first jazz poetry (used often in poetry slams), and contributed greatly to the Harlem Renaissance. His poetry emphasized his belief that “black [was] beautiful”, and inspired poets of all races.
  3. T.S. Elliot (1888-1965): Regarded as one of the most important poets of the 20th century, T.S. Elliot partook in the modernist movement with Ezra Pound. In fact, Pound encouraged the publication of Elliot’s first poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
  4. Sylvia Plath (1932-1963): Constantly unhappy, Plath directed her depression towards creative endeavors, namely poetry. From age twelve she won awards for her strangely unique but moving poetry, until she delve into madness at age thirty, when she promptly ended her life.
  5. Gertrude Stein (1874-1946): The poetess who broke past poetic boundaries, Gertrude Stein wrote prosaic poems and left out one of a writer’s greatest weapons: grammar. Indeed, she was once quoted as saying, “And what does a comma do, a comma does nothing but make easy a thing that if you like it enough is easy enough without the comma.”
  6. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): Even today, Dorian Grey is a symbol of man’s deterioration from the inside, out. Corruption, evil, and loss of child-like innocence are all common themes associated with Dorian-esque characters.
  7. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (1785-1863): These brothers are the masterminds behind some of the edgier fairytales; Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are just some of the classics that still inspire writers today.
  8. The Brontë Sisters (1816-1855): Sisters of meager means, these three girls (Emily, Charlotte, and Anne) wrote of the lives that they could not live themselves. Exploding with angst, bitterness, and heartache, it’s a wonder their books don’t burst from the seams.
  9. Jane Austen (1775-1817): Although she herself never married, Jane Austen wrote beautiful prose on love, most notably Pride and Prejudice. Like the Bronte sisters, she came from a family of little fortune, and lived vicariously through her characters. As Anne Hathaway in Becoming Jane says, “My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.”
  10. Shakespeare (1564-1616): Need I say more?


Quote 1: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416508/quotes
Quote 2: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm

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The Book of Tomorrow: A Summary
By Maggie Poling, Grade 9

Cecelia Ahern, author of P.S. I Love You and The Gift, has recently released a new book entitled: The Book of Tomorrow.

The story follows a snotty, popular, attractive sixteen-year-old girl named Tamara Goodwin, whose father has just committed suicide. Tamara and her mother are sent to live with Tamara’s aunt and uncle, an odd, mysterious couple who keep much to themselves and spend little time on silly matters. Tamara’s uncle is the groundskeeper of a nearby castle ruin in Ireland, once belonging to a royal family, now only ashes in the wind.

At first, Tamara is conceited and pompous, only thinking of herself. She reflects on her Dad’s passing, and whether or not it was the money they owed to the bank after buying more than they could afford, or whether it was Tamara’s selfish attitude that sent her Dad to such great lengths as to kill himself. Her mother is so miserable that she never leaves the guest room on the second floor, leaving Tamara alone with two complete strangers, who just happen to be family.

Initially, she acts tough, bratty even, but as the story continues we see she is only scared of what has been, and what is to come.
Until, that is, a library comes to town - a portable library, a truck filled to the brim with books on various subjects. It is then that Tamara finds a book, a blank book with no title and no author, that her worries begin to fade. She takes it back to the cottage, and the next day, opens it to find her own writing. It’s a journal entry for the following day, and although it seems like a joke at first, tomorrow occurs just how the diary prophesied it would. As the story unfolds and the days continue, Tamara begins to learn secrets of her past she couldn‘t have possibly guessed. The book of tomorrow gives her answers to questions she’s pondered forever, and with these answers, she becomes a kinder, more understanding Tamara.

Book Rating: Four and half stars! A great summer read for all of the girls out there!

Source:
www.ceceliaahern.com