The spring school semester is almost over, vacations are being planned and many of us are scrambling for jobs and internships in hopes to make some money during the summer months. In the midst of all that, there are also going to be some great movies in theaters. While this summer feels a lot lighter than past years, there are still going to be some blockbusters. And with that, here are my five most anticipated movies coming out this summer! Note: I will NOT be discussing the early summer film, “Avengers: Endgame.” “Dark Phoenix” (June 7) The current X-Men saga has been nothing short of fantastic, and fans will get to see that story continue with the next iteration, “Dark Phoenix.” In this film, we get to see the beginning of Jean Grey, one of the most powerful and mysterious mutants of the X-Men universe. Some may remember the original story of Jean Grey from the original X-Men trilogy, so this film could be considered a sort of reboot. “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner is in the leading role, and she will be supported by X-Men veterans such as James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender. “Men In Black: International” (June 14) Another reboot looking to be one of the hottest films of the summer is the newest installment of the Men in Black franchise titled, “Men In Black: International.” The original trilogy of films saw Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones battle aliens all over the world, and it is much beloved by sci-fi audiences. In the next film, we will see “Thor” series veterans Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as they try to save the world from an even greater threat. The film is looking to continue the comedy of the original series, and the two stars already have great chemistry, so look out; it might be a hit! “Toy Story 4” (June 21) The Toy Story trilogy was wrapped up in a neat little bow back in 2010 with a fitting send-off as Andy went off to college. All was well for the toys… or so we thought. This summer, Woody, Buzz and the gang are faced with new challenges and get into even greater trouble as they discover the world of carnivals. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen reprise their roles as the leading pair, and they are expected to be great as always. Even if you think the Toy Story franchise has gone on too long, never fear; I would not bet against the artistic masters at Pixar even on their worst days! “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (July 5) This next film is another sequel, but it is a tricky one to dissect. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is the next film in the new Spider-Man saga, but wait-- wasn’t Peter Parker “snapped” at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War?” We might have to wait until the next Avengers movie to see how that gets resolved, but this next Spider-Man film is looking to be a great one anyway. It will officially kick off the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it is sure to be a great adventure. Starring Tom Holland and Marvel Universe newcomer Jake Gyllenhaal, fans are chomping at the bit to see what trouble Spidey gets into next! “Lion King” (July 19) This summer might be known as the summer of reboots and sequels, but then again, plenty of movies nowadays are continuations and rehashes of stories already told. Be that as it may, people are excited for Disney’s newest live-action telling of one of their greatest movies, “Lion King.” Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Jungle Book”), the film already looks gorgeous from a two-minute trailer. Audiences old and new are sure to delight in what many believe is Disney’s greatest animated feature, and it is led by a star-studded cast as well. Everyone from Donald Glover and Seth Rogen to Chiwetel Ejiofor and Beyoncé Knowles is in the film! And that’s it! There are many more great films coming out this summer, so this is just a taste of what’s to come. Be sure to catch these movies if you want to beat the heat for a few hours. Happy watching, and have a great summer!
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The renowned musicians of the “Argus Quartet” are coming to Macon on April 2 to deliver a performance at Wesleyan College. Their website calls the group “one of today’s most dynamic and versatile young ensembles,” and they are currently on tour across the country. The Argus Quartet started six years ago in Los Angeles. “We gathered a group of friends who loved to play chamber music and wanted to pursue it as their career,” said Clara Kim, the quartet’s violinist. “Most of us had already graduated from school at that time, so we worked very seriously from the beginning to create a professional endeavor.” Their namesake comes from the street, Argus Drive, where the group would get food from a taco truck. Ever since those early days, the group has gone on to play in countless concert halls and win numerous awards, such as first prize at both the 2017 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition and 2017 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition. The group does much more than play contemporary music; the Argus Quartet is well known for the innovative and engaging concerts. According to their website, “the Quartet’s core mission is to connect with and build up a community of engaged listeners, with the strong belief that today’s ensembles can honor the storied chamber music traditions of our past while forging a new path forward.” The quartet aims to play a variety of musical genres from different sources. “Our quartet enjoys presenting a diverse representation of music-- we have two pieces written by our friends who are still living, as well as two gorgeous traditional works (written by a brother and a sister). We aim to bring a fresh vibrant energy to all the music we play, and design programs that will offer something for everyone,” Kim said. “Some of the more contemporary music is dance-like, maybe even closer to pop music, but there is dance and a certain vivaciousness to the traditional pieces too.” Kim said the group enjoys interacting with the differences and similarities of music across the ages. “We enjoy giving a platform for the dialogue between those pieces-- between centuries of music that have evolved in many different ways but still have a common thread of holding and expressing an immense range of emotion and color,” Kim said. “What we strive to do is give the audience a live, meaningful experience that doesn’t come with any expectations, but rather with just an openness on both sides to be together for the moment.” Currently, the group travels around the country playing for many different audiences. “We love playing for all sorts of different audiences-- from older crowds to younger children and everything in between. We particularly enjoy visiting educational communities like Wesleyan University and meeting students, faculty members and neighbors from those communities,” Kim said. The Argus Quartet will play at Wesleyan College on April 2 from 7 p.m. until midnight. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students.
There aren’t many artists that sing, write their own music and play the drums-- all at the same time. However, this is exactly what up-and-coming artist Lindsay Beaver can do. Beaver is currently on tour in support of her most recent Album, “Tough as Love.” Beaver is a singer-songwriter with a passion for soul and blues music. “When I first started out, I couldn't find a singer I liked and I couldn't find a drummer I liked, so I decided to do both,” she said in a recent press release. Raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Beaver is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to music. Though she is a classically-trained violinist and a jazz-trained drummer, her sound is full of southern roots and influence. Beaver’s music contains bluesy rumblings, jazzy sounds and rock-and-roll tracks. Beaver, 33, now resides in Austin, Texas, which is where her latest album was recorded. “Tough as Love” is Beaver’s fifth album. Her first four albums were all recorded with her band, the 24th Street Wailers, but “Tough as Love” will be her first release under her own name. After touring through Canada, Europe and all across America, Beaver is back on the road once more to share her music with her fans. “Beaver stands behind her kit when singing and reaches down deep to deliver her soulful vocals with swagger and intensity. She has a timeless authenticity that grabs your attention. She cannot be denied,” said Richard Ludmerer of “Making a Scene.” “I like music with drive and passion,” Beaver said. “I write what I know and I sing what I know. At my shows, I want people to have fun and to be moved. I want everyone to be inspired to dance and I want at least some people to be moved to tears. And I definitely want every person to go home saying, ‘I’m never going to forget this.’” Ludmerer said that from the first song to the last, “Tough as Love” is rough, raw, fearless and moving. Beaver’s sound might be recognizable to music fans in Macon; with influences like Little Richard and Amy Winehouse, her style aligns with our southern music town. Her other influences include The Ramones, Billie Holiday and Queens of the Stone Age, among others. Beaver has won numerous accolades; most recently, she was awarded Canada’s 2018 Maple Blues Award for Drummer of the Year. Lindsay Beaver will perform at The Creek Stage at The Rookery on 543 Cherry St. in downtown Macon on Saturday, April 13. Tickets are $10 each, and the show starts at 10:30 p.m.
When the first “How To Train Your Dragon” film burst onto the scene back in 2010, the world was really caught by surprise. Production company Dreamworks is no slouch when it comes to animation. With franchises like “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda” under their belt, no one thought that they would make a bad movie. At the same time, no one was prepared for just how good the “How To Train Your Dragon” series would be, and it has finally reached a conclusion almost a decade later. “How To Train Your Dragon” is based on a children’s book series by author Cressida Cowell, which ran from 2003 to 2015. “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” hit theaters on February 22nd, and this means audiences will have to say goodbye after one last glorious adventure. In this latest installment, audiences will see Hiccup and his company of dragon-flying friends face off against a foe that might spell the end of his town of Burke. Meanwhile, Hiccup and Toothless hear rumors about a mysterious hidden world of dragons, and it just might be the key to their survival. But don’t worry, it is not just action and family-friendly feel-good scenes, it tugs at the heartstrings and is fitting for all ages. “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is simply fantastic. The animation is some of Dreamworks’ best, the voice acting is perfectly done and the story has so much heart in it that it’s bursting at the seams. The story takes some unexpected turns, and the movie does a good job of really making the viewers feel for the characters. A good animated movie will look good and tell a cohesive story, one that leaves a lasting impression on the audience and binds the entire trilogy together. A great one will appeal to all audiences and tackle some very real issues that hit close to home for many viewers, like the loss of a loved one, saying goodbye or moving on. “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” sets itself apart from other animated films by leaving those impressions combined with the story beats it addresses. It is not just a “feel-good” story- there are real consequences that the audience can relate to. Instead of just making the viewer feel better and relate to the characters, the movie does a fantastic job of describing the harsh realities of the trilogy, which is why this film just might be the best of the three. It’s sad to say goodbye to the story of Hiccup and his friends. This last story is more than fitting for the characters, as it wraps up many of the storylines that have been going on over the last decade. Hiccup is a full grown man and village leader by the end of the film, and watching him grow up with his beloved Toothless was a wonderful payoff. The supporting cast isn’t just left in the dust either; there was a surprising amount of development and finality to all of the friends and family members in the film. “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” teaches viewers some valuable lessons, like learning to let go and learning what is important for everyone (not just oneself), and the payoff is so satisfying that it may even leave a tear in your eye. This is absolutely an installment that you cannot miss, so be sure to catch it while you can!
Artwork by students of Bibb County Schools will be displayed at the seventh annual Bibb County Schools Student Art Show, which happens to be during March’s “First Friday” tradition in Macon. “This annual exhibit was started to celebrate Youth Art Month by recognizing the young artists in our community and giving them the opportunity to show their work in a true art gallery,” said Melissa Macker, a representative for the event. Several students from the Bibb County Public School District created art for the installation; selections were made from all grade levels and school sizes. Students in second grade at Porter Elementary School will be featured right alongside students from Central High School. The art that will be on display at the exhibition was selected by the teachers of Bibb County Schools. According to Macker, they judged based on hard work, creativity and the enthusiasm of the students. Many different young artists will be on display at the art gallery, but not everyone in the county could be selected. The exhibit was able to happen due to a partnership between the Department of Fine Arts of the Bibb County School District and The 567 Center for Renewal, where the exhibit’s opening will be held. The 567 Center for Renewal is located at 456 First St. in Macon, and the gallery will open to the public on Friday, March 1. There will be light refreshments at the opening, as well as a live music ensemble performed by students from Bibb County schools. Admission into the gallery is free of charge, and it will be on display for the entire month of March.
Eric Anderson is a visiting professor from the Rhode Island School of Design, and he recently visited Macon to speak at the fourth biennial Frances Sewell Plunkett Lecture Series in the Decorative Arts. The lecture series is an event that takes place every other year and is dedicated to the exploration of decorative art throughout history, as well as in modern times. Anderson delivered three lectures. Anderson received a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College and a doctorate in art history from Columbia University. Previous speakers for this lecture series include Chinese art historian Stanley Murashige, Pierce College Professor of Art History Constance J. Moffatt, and chief curator and vice president of collections and research at Old Salem Museums and Gardens Robert A. Leath. The title of this year’s lecture series was, “Living on the Edge: Homes, Belongings and Modern Design,” and it was held at the McEachern Art Center in downtown Macon. The three lectures were held on Feb. 20 and 21, and the events were open to the public. The first lecture was titled “Making Home: Interior Decoration from the Cult of Domesticity to Queer Critique.” On Feb. 21, there were two lectures, titled: “Breaking Down Walls: The Psychological Interior from Freud to the Fallout Shelter,” and “Lost and Found Homes: Nomads, Refugees and Homelessness from 1960s Counterculture to 21st-Century Global Migration.” “The Art Department (was) excited to bring Anderson to Mercer for the Frances Sewell Plunkett Lecture Series,” said Erin McClenathan, assistant professor of art history at Mercer University. “These lectures provide a wonderful opportunity for members of the Mercer and Macon communities to join us downtown at the McEachern Art Center, if they haven’t already.” Once Anderson joined Rhode Island School of Design’s staff in 2012, he became the director of the Master of Arts program at the university. He has a wide range of research interests, and he is even writing a book, titled “Material Visions: A Cultural History of Design and Media.” Anderson has also served as a visiting professor at the University for Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria. The Frances Sewell Plunkett Lecture Series has been held every other year since 2013, made possible in part by an endowment from the Plunkett Family, in memory of Frances Sewell Plunkett.
Over the past few years, Netflix has changed the way we watch television. Ever since they started out as a DVD-by-mail service, they have been at the forefront of the television and movie business, revolutionizing the way we access and view content. As soon as they started their on-demand service, viewers were spoiled; all of a sudden, we could watch a seemingly endless selection of movies whenever we wanted. Then Netflix added television shows, and binging was the way of the future. Gone are the days where we wait for a new episode each week on cable TV. Now most people will just wait until the entire season is on Netflix and watch it in one sitting. With competitors such as Amazon and Hulu nipping at their heels, Netflix looked to change the game again, and change it they did with the release of “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” For those who are unaware, “Black Mirror” is an anthology series that explores the not-so-far future and presents plenty of “what-if” questions, delving into the realms of sci-fi, thriller and even mild horror at times. “Bandersnatch” is simply the latest in the series, but it is much more than just another episode. “Bandersnatch” is the first successful “choose-your-own-adventure” television show. This idea of the viewer deciding where the story goes has been around for quite some time now in books, but never before has it been tried through a television medium. Netflix pulled out all the stops and created a story that is as wild as it is gripping, and the viewers end up as a part of the story just as much as the characters they are watching. By selecting from two options on the screen when prompted, viewers decide which way the story goes. One would think that the switching of paths is chunky and ruins the illusion, but Netflix found a way to make it seamless. All in all, there are five different “endings” that the viewer can achieve, and there are numerous dead ends that can be followed. Netflix filmed over five hours worth of content for the show, and it certainly pays off. “Black Mirror” episodes have attracted both up-and-coming actors and more-well known names to the show. The main character in “Bandersnatch” is played by Fionn Whitehead, and the show is supported by the talents of Craig Parkinson, Will Poulter, Asim Chaudhry and Alice Lowe. Each of them plays their parts beautifully, especially Whitehead. The only criticism that one could have for “Bandersnatch” would be the storyline itself. While the path-choosing is seamless and the acting is wonderful, the story leaves a bit to be desired at times. With fans being able to choose what they want to happen, oftentimes I found myself wanting an entirely different ending to occur, but having it never come to fruition. That being said, the story that was presented was still strong enough to carry the premise of the show. “Bandersnatch” is perhaps the boldest visual experiment of recent memory, and its success is certainly a bright sign for the future. By intertwining the viewer with the story in ways that only a “Black Mirror” episode can, the show truly shines. If you have not yet experienced “Bandersnatch,” do so as fast as you can. You will not regret it!
I have had some very bad luck with the food on campus lately. Within the last six months, I have had mixed up orders, extremely long waits, not great tasting and undercooked food and in one case, I found bugs in my food. I understand that Mercer might not want to invest too heavily in food for its students, but something absolutely needs to change. Let’s start with the University Center. The renovations three years ago were wonderful; Chick-Fil-A is obviously a staple, Panda Express was a welcome change and Subway was not the worst casualty (that title belongs to Burger Studio, baby come back!). Moreover, the Farmer’s Market has been a welcome change to campus food as well. However, the overall quality of the food and service in the University Center has become worse and worse over time. Chick-Fil-A’s waiting times are getting longer and longer, even when there aren’t a lot of students waiting. The quality of Panda Express’s food has absolutely gone downhill; the food can be cold and undercooked, the options don’t vary and I even found bugs, living bugs in my food one day. The Farmer’s Market is often the best place to eat in the UC, but not everyone has a meal plan. Then we have the Connell Student Center, and I would argue that it is much better off than the UC, though that is not saying much. The Fresh Food Company (Caf) has been a Mercer staple for years, and while there are many students that do not like it, there are also many that do. The Caf has done a lot of great things lately too, from switching up the menu to trying to accommodate for everyone as often as possible. The only thing I would say that needs to be changed about the caf is the freshness and quality of the food. Which Wich was a wonderful addition to the CSC, and I think it is a lone bright spot when it comes to “fast food” options on campus. While wait times can certainly be longer than people like, the quality of the food is often very good, and I have never had a major problem there. Mix that with the P.O.D, and the CSC is really the best place to get food on campus. And of course, we cannot forget about Einstein’s, the wonderful bagel shop in the library. This was also a great addition, but it is not something I would count as a part of a students “meal” plan. While a bagel and a drink is always tasty, it is not a whole meal and is better suited as the snack that it is when studying in the library. Now I do understand that some people, as well as Mercer administrators, may just see all this as yet another student complaining about food options that they believe are always changing. I would argue that while the food options do try to change, there simply is not enough change to justify the significant drop in the quality of the food. Oh, and we cannot forget the fact that all of the food options on campus, save for the Caf, have terrible weekend hours, forcing students to look elsewhere for food which is often a problem. I feel that now is the time for another change in the food options at Mercer University. I am not blindly shouting for more fast food or more new options; I want to see the blatant problems that we have be fixed! Cold food, awful hours and horrible wait times are things that can be easily addressed. If that could be done, I am positive that the administration would hear far fewer complaints than they do now. I also do not want to see any more living bugs in my food, please.
Awards season is coming to a close, and the 91st Academy Awards are almost here. For all of the movie lovers out there, awards season is a great time; we get to see which of our favorite movies are recognized for their greatness, and which ones are left behind. Nearly all of the major awards shows have come to pass, including the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards and many of the guild awards shows. The BAFTAs, on Feb. 10, were the last major awards to be handed out before the Oscars on Feb. 24. Without further ado, here is the awards season wrap up! I will include both who I want to win an Academy Award, as well as who I think will win one in all of the major categories! Best Animated Feature: From “Toy Story” to “Coco”, Pixar tends to win this category every time they make a film, and very few Pixar films have not won this award. However, I think that total may grow, due to the release of “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse”. While “Incredibles 2” was a fantastic film in its own right, “Spiderman” was a stunning feat of animation, and the story was unlike anything viewers had seen before in an animated superhero film. Who I want to win: “Incredibles 2” Who Will Win: “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” Best Cinematography: If there’s going to be a runaway winner in a category, this will be the one. “Roma” has racked up all but two of the cinematography awards this season, and the movie is stunningly shot. Who I want to win: “Roma” Who Will Win: “Roma” Best Screenplay: This award is split up into two categories at the Oscars-- Adapted and Original-- but it is not like this at every award show. Both races are coming down to the wire too: in Adapted Screenplay, “BlacKkKlansman,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” are all neck and neck. Likewise with the Original Screenplay category, “The Favourite” and “First Reformed” are both top contenders. With no wrong answer, it will be a good one to watch! Who I want to win: “BlacKkKlansman” and ”The Favourite” Who Will Win: “If Beale Street Could Talk” and ”The Favourite” Best Supporting Actress: I have always loved the supporting actor/actress categories because these performers always put on just as good a show as their fellow lead actors and actresses. Regina King from “If Beale Street Could Talk” seems to be running away with this one, but both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone from “The Favourite” also have picked up a few awards this season. Who I want to win: Regina King Who Will Win: Regina King Best Supporting Actor: In this category, Mahershala Ali from “Green Book” has been on fire. Ever since he won a few years ago with “Moonlight,” he has been cast in so many different films and TV shows. Many agree he is the front runner once more, but don’t count out Richard E. Grant from “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” who also has picked up quite a few awards this season. Who I want to win: Mahershala Ali Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali Lead Actress: This award pretty much seems to be a race for second place between Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”), Toni Collette (“Hereditary”) and Glenn Close (“The Wife”). The favorite so far is thought to be Olivia Colman for her role in “The Favourite,” but do not count out any of the other women just yet. Glenn Close won at the Golden Globes, Lady Gaga has star power behind her and McCarthy delivered a phenomenal performance in her own right. Who I want to win: Lady Gaga Who Will Win: Olivia Colman Lead Actor: This category just might be the most interesting of the year. Ethan Hawke from “First Reformed” has been winning awards right and left, but he still feels somewhat left out. When it comes down to it, the award is between him and nearly every other nominee, including Rami Malek from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Bradley Cooper from “A Star is Born,” Viggo Mortenson from “Green Book” and Christian Bale from “Vice.” This one is absolutely up for grabs. Who I want to win: Rami Malek Who Will Win: Rami Malek Best Director: This award is another way to gauge the winner of Best Picture, so it obviously will be close. The assumed favorite so far seems to be Alfonso Cuaron from “Roma,” and he would be hard pressed to lose the award at this point. However, Spike Lee from ““BlacKkKlansman” and Yorgos Lanthimos from “The Favourite” are lurking in the shadows, hoping to steal this one for themselves. Who I want to win: Spike Lee Who Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron Best Picture: There are eight different films nominated this year: “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther,” “Green Book,” “The Favourite,” “A Star is Born,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Roma” and “Vice.” It feels like a weak year for Best Picture, with really none of the films wholeheartedly getting my vote. The odds on favorite so far is “Roma,” with its directing, writing and cinematography awards, but there is a very real chance that “Green Book,” “The Favorite” or “BlacKkKlansman,” could come away with the award. Who I want to win: “BlacKkKlansman” Who Will Win: “The Favourite” And there you have it! The Academy Awards will be on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. Be sure to tune in to see who wins. Don’t just take my word for it-- watch all the nominees yourself and pick your favorites. Happy watching.
The Wesleyan Market is a monthly shopping event where local vendors and sellers can showcase their products to the public held on the campus of Wesleyan College in Macon. The market has been operating on a monthly basis ever since August of 2008, and they have been a local staple ever since their inception. Hannah Doan, a representative for the Wesleyan Market, said that they have been hosting it on their front-campus ever since. “The idea of the market came from a trip our Trustees and students took called SLI (Student Leadership Institute),” Doan said. “They visited Portland... and noticed all the local markets in the area. One of our staff members at the time thought up a plan to create a farmers market on Wesleyan's campus, and hence the start of the Wesleyan Market.” A large number of vendors attend the market each month as a way to reach the public. Some of the vendors that attended January’s market included Bone Creek Farms, John's Cakes, Bon Bon Custom Cakes, Cookies, and Sweet Styling, Khalilah's Kitchen and Breedlove Farm. “We have our market on the second Saturday of each month, year-round, from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. We work with local vendors (within a 50-mile radius of Macon, Ga.) that have produce, local meats, handmade items and consumable food products,” Doan said. Everyone in Macon is welcome, not just Wesleyan and Mercer students. If you are trying to get more involved in the community, the Wesleyan Market is a good place to start. For more information, visit the Wesleyan Market on Facebook. Their next market will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wesleyan University’s front campus.
Macon's monthly "First Friday" tradition is going to be pinker than ever in February. The Pink Poodle Parade will be the very first event of the year presented by the Think Pink Committee. This group has a number of events that will lead up to the Cherry Blossom Festival, and the first kick-off event hopes to bring Macon's artistic community together. Melissa Macker, a representative for the art opening, spoke about the upcoming event’s origins. “The Pink Poodle Parade is organized every year by the Think Pink Committee. The Think Pink Committee is a group of dedicated volunteers committed to supporting the Cherry Blossom Festival in collaboration with the local art community,” she said. “The painted poodles are inspired by the Cherry Blossom Festival mascot, Blossom, a pink poodle.” Blossom is a fan favorite local mascot of the International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, so it is fitting that she’ll be the honorary theme for the Pink Poodle Parade. “Thirty different local artists will be featured in this exhibit. Each artist will have a painted poodle on display, as well as a piece of original artwork hanging on the wall,” she said. This art exhibit’s history is steeped in Macon’s history and icons. Macker explained the process that the artists took in order to create their pieces. “Each artist chooses their own theme for their poodle, which in the past has included poodles featuring famous musicians, as well as well-known Macon landmarks,” she said. At the opening reception for the exhibit, guests will be encouraged to vote for their favorite poodles. The entire exhibit will be open through the month of February, up until the 25th, and people can drop in at any time. At the conclusion of the Pink Poodle Parade, the various poodles will be given out to local businesses for display during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Be sure to check out the opening reception of the Pink Poodle Parade on Friday, Feb. 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The 567 Center for Renewal located at 456 First Street. No tickets are required, and it is free entry for everyone.
The first semester of the school year is coming to a close, and many of us are excited to finally have a break. Some people like to travel, others like to visit family, but whatever you are doing, going to the movies is a must for this winter season. There are plenty of big name movies coming out in the next couple of weeks, but here are a few that I think you absolutely need to see. “Mary Poppins Returns” Disney’s latest trend of “re-imagining” many of their older animated titles has really been a success thus far, specifically with films like “Jungle Book,” “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast”. The latest in this live action theme will be “Mary Poppins Returns.” All of the old flair and fun is returning, with the fan-favorite songs and old-timey charm as well. With Emily Blunt in the leading role, audiences are sure to be in for a treat. “Aquaman” The latest in the DC comics film universe is the solo film “Aquaman,” and superhero junkies are waiting with bated breath. Ever since the character’s reveal in last year’s “Justice League,” audiences couldn’t get enough of Jason Momoa’s fantastic rendition of the underwater hero. However, it is no secret that the latest DC films have had modest-at-best reviews, and it pales in comparison to Marvel’s “Avengers.” Only time will tell, but the future sure looks bright for DC with Aquaman on the horizon. “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” Another superhero movie will grace the screens this holiday season, but it's going to be quite different than anything audiences have seen before. For starters, it's a Spiderman movie, but it isn't about Peter Parker. As a matter of fact, the so-called “Spider-verse” has multiple renditions of web-slingers, and this movie will introduce the world to the next one in line, Miles Morales. On top of that, the movie is animated! It looks gorgeous in the trailers so far, so absolutely go out and see this movie for a brand new and unique experience. “Bumblebee” The Transformers film series always seems to have a trick up its sleeve, and this time it’s in the form of a solo character story that focuses on the beloved yellow Camaro Bumblebee. This film is an origin story of sorts, detailing how Bumblebee got to Earth in the first place, and audiences are sure to be in store for some over-the-top action sequences as well as plenty of laughs. “Glass” This movie is going to be exciting to say the least. M. Night Shyamalan is one of the more unorthodox directors in Hollywood, but he always manages to turn a crowd for each of his films. While he was recently in a lull, he stormed back onto the scene with 2016’s “Split,” and audiences loved it. “Glass” is going to be a sequel to “Split,” as well as 2000’s “Unbreakable,” and together they are going to jump-start this mini film-universe that Shyamalan has envisioned. Early trailers look promising, so this is one you definitely need to check out!
With another Super Tuesday having come and gone, citizens of the United States flocked to the polls to cast their ballots for various political positions, from state representatives to governors. However, a startling fact about our country is that we don’t vote. We live in the most progressive country in the world, yet we simply don’t want to go a few blocks or a few miles to go and vote for our representatives. There could be any number of reasons why people don’t vote, but the fact remains the same. I feel that on any voting day, whether it be local or national, everyone of voting age should have a day off of work and school. According to the Pew Research Center, the 2016 presidential election saw only 55.7 percent of the voting-age population (18 or older) vote. This number is atrocious. The United States is a country that allows any citizen, of any race, of any economic background to vote, and just over half of us do. By comparison, Sweden had 82.6 percent of their voting-age population vote, Australia had 78.96 percent and Mexico had 65.97 percent. If you really dig into the numbers, it gets even worse. According to the United States Census Bureau, only 43 percent of people aged 18 to 24 voted in the 2016 election. Less than half of our age group, the “Millenial” age group, votes in elections. Yet, lately we seem to be making the most noise over social issues, from rallies, marches and protests. Could we ever fix this? One of the most obvious reasons why voter turnout is so low is that it is subconsciously discouraged. Voting always takes place during the week, usually on a Tuesday. I am willing to bet that much more often than not, people are going to go to work or school, and not bother voting because of that. And the citizens that do want to take a day off to vote, or even a few hours off, can expect to be ridiculed or even discouraged from it by their employers. A good counter-argument to this is the fact that there is already weekend voting in the form of early voting. While this is a step in the right direction, it certainly is not enough. If people did not have work or school in the first place, then we would not have to pay voting staff for the weeks they work leading up to the election. Moreover, early voting is poorly advertised. “Super Tuesday” is well established, but you don’t hear too much about “Super Weekends.” If we want to have a higher voter turnout and have our citizens in the greatest country in the world vote, there needs to be an easier way to do so. If everyone was allowed a day off of school and work on election Tuesdays to vote, a much higher voter turnout could be expected. Similarly, if voting took place over the weekend when there was not any school or work to begin with, then the turnout would be much higher as well. Voting is a right in the United States, and there are people around the world that would die to have that right. It is time to change how voting occurs in America. If we can make even one small change, such as what day the voting takes place, I bet America would be a much better place, and voting would be celebrated, instead of ignored.
Macon has an extensive music history, and one arts association works to ensure that concerts continue to be held in this city. If there is a show, performance or concert in Macon, odds are the Concert Association has been involved at one point or another. Since 1933, the Macon Concert Association has brought numerous classical music performances to Middle Georgia. Everything from small ensembles and quartets to large symphonies and orchestras has come through Macon, at large part due to the Concert Association. They make sure that traveling acts know that there are venues in Macon ready to be filled and audiences ready to watch. The Association holds most of their events on Wesleyan University’s campus, specifically the Burden Parlor and the Porter Auditorium. According to Gateway Macon, the Association puts on shows in sets of four and sells subscription tickets that allow people to see each concert, with individual tickets on sale as well. The Burden Parlor is a historic event space on the Wesleyan University campus in Macon. It seats 100 people and has a fine reception area and a grand piano. The Porter Auditorium is much larger and seats over 1,000 people for events. The concert association uses this space mainly for special and larger events, such as “Portals,” the show by renowned violinist Tim Fain. This association tends to involve itself with fine arts performances. Recent shows consist of Baroque Ensembles, solo pianists, guitar duos and string quartets. The next show being put on by the association is the duo of violinist and Yoojin Yang and pianist Renana Gutman.
Every year, the week of Halloween sees many great horror movies come into theaters, and also many bad ones. There is not a better time to release a spooky movie than on the scariest day of the year, and audiences absolutely love it. That being said, some of the horror movies that come out during this time definitely leave a lot to be desired, so there is always a bit of risk involved, more so when an attempt to revive a beloved franchise such as “Halloween” is made. Luckily, Michael Myers does not disappoint, and the movie is a rousing success. “Halloween” started out in 1978, and it quickly became part of the gold standard for slasher movies. Years went by, and there would be many sequels, but none were quite as good as the first. After nearly a decade-long break, the series returns, and it is better than ever. This “Halloween” is a re-imagining of sorts; the filmmakers see it is a true sequel to the original “Halloween” back in 1978. The original actor that played Michael Myers, James Jude Cortney, returns to the role and Jamie Lee Curtis returns as leading lady Laurie Strode. Together, with newcomers Judy Greer and Andi Matichak as the daughter and granddaughter of Laurie Strode, the acting was truly sublime. The story was pretty simple in a lot of ways, and I feel like that made the film much better. Had the writers decided to fill the movie with a lot of flair and funny business (similar to “Halloween” movies of the past), odds are fans would not have been so inclined to see the film. The late trend of “simple-but-scary” horror films seems to be strong, and “Halloween” did well to not stray away from that. When it comes to slasher films, it doesn’t take a whole lot to get the movie right. At the same time, a few small steps could really put a movie in the wrong direction. Luckily, “Halloween” has a lot of history behind it to draw fans to the theaters. As it turns out, they did not need it; this year’s “Halloween” is so far the highest grossing of the series. It’s only been a few weeks since release, and things are only looking up!
Movie Review: “First Man” is a powerful look into the life of Neil Armstrong and the first steps on the moon
There is just something about the mystery of space that always makes for such great movies, and “First Man” is no exception. In this film, viewers are treated with an exploration of the life of the late, great Neil Armstrong, who was the first person to ever walk on the surface of the moon. This movie takes viewers on a trip through time, culminating in one of the most breathtaking scenes that has ever graced the big screen. “First Man” is based on the official biography of Neil Armstrong, titled “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong”. The movie is best described as a biopic on Armstrong at certain points of his life during the 1950s and 1960s, but it is very nearly a documentary of sorts as well. While it was acted and directed beautifully, there is only so much action and drama that can be put on screen when the focus of the film is set on one person. Directed by “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, the movie throws audiences right into the thick of it as soon as the movie starts. Right away, viewers will feel very tight and claustrophobic. This is due to the fact that Chazelle shoots many scenes as extreme close-ups, trying to help the audiences feel like the actual crew members did, being in such small and confined spaces. While it can be unnerving at times, it is a very unique experience that I feel is done successfully. Ryan Gosling plays the leading role of Armstrong himself, and it is a bit of a conundrum. While Gosling is a wonderful actor in his own right, he felt quite one-dimensional throughout most of the film. However, I do not think this is any fault of Gosling’s, or even Chazelle’s, but more so that Neil Armstrong was a very simple person who lived a simple life. The Armstrong family, as viewers will see, were not into flashy things, fame or anything of that nature. Neil Armstrong was a family man, but also a man of few words. But don’t get me wrong, Gosling does well in his role anyway, as do his co-stars Claire Foy, Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler. While the movie is by no means a bad movie, it does have its faults. However, the last 20 minutes of the movie make up for every previous mistake. The fateful first steps on the moon are truly a sight to behold, and Chazelle made sure it was one of the finest scenes in cinema history. One of the hardest things to do in film is to make an audience feel like they are truly there with the characters. Throughout the whole film, Chazelle used strategic camera shots and sequences to get us to the moon, and it all came together on the surface. The masterful music cuts out, the camera pans through the ship’s hatch, and audiences see the never-ending blackness ahead of them. In theaters, not a sound was made, and you could hear a pin drop. For the next few minutes as the characters explore the surface of the moon, viewers, for the first time ever, just might feel like they traveled to the moon. “First Man” is a better-than-average biopic about Neil Armstrong, his family and all the trials and tribulations he faced on his way to the moon. While it may seem slow to some, and even boring to others, I feel that the majority of movie-goers will be fascinated by all that went on behind-the-scenes during the space race. And if anything, the entire movie is worth it just to see the magnificent first steps on the surface of the moon; nothing in all of cinema can compare, and it will be very hard to beat for some time to come.
One of our nation’s greatest pastimes is the game of football. For the last 100-plus years, weekends have been ruled by football, either at the college level or at the pro level. As a college student, I feel it is somewhat blasphemous to say this, but I stand by it: professional football is better than college football. To me, it is better to watch, better to talk about and better to be a part of. For starters, professional football is just plain better football. It is more exclusive, the players have the incentive of money to play at a higher level and audiences can expect an all-around better experience. This, in turn, creates better competition. Players play higher quality games and it almost always is a close and exciting game. I cannot say the same for college football. There are over 100 teams in all of college football, none of which are allowed to compensate their players. This problem alone gives college another knock; students play their hearts out every week for their teams and receive nothing for it. In the meantime, the schools, the television networks and the coaches all receive massive paydays, and it's all on the backs of students playing for free. College football also has another major problem; every year, it seems like it is the same 10 teams that seem to be any good. Over the last decade or two, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Ohio State, LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas, Notre Dame and our own Georgia Bulldogs are always the best teams. Don't look now, but each one of these teams is currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. How can that be good for the sport? I would love to see some new teams and fresh faces atop the leaderboard, but that is not how it goes. In the NFL, even the dynasty teams don't win year after year; each year is a surprise, and it is always great to see who ends up on top. Lastly, pro football is just more entertaining. With college, you have one of two things; either a top tier team will completely obliterate a lower tier team (or even a respectable one), or two top-25 teams will go up against one another, and it will more than likely be a lopsided game anyway. Rarely are the games close, and when they are, it's a surprise. In the NFL, close games occur week after week, they keep fans entrenched in the action and people want to stay until the very end. College football is certainly fun to watch, but I find myself having less and less interest year after year. I only would ever root for my team, but I would never know half the names on the field. In the NFL, I have my team. Moreover, I am able to follow along with consistent action, great games and it is always much more satisfying in the end. Which form of football do you prefer?
For college students, streaming is more or less a way of life. The countless hours of Netflix binging, Amazon Priming and Hulu hangouts mean that when we aren't studying, we are most certainly watching something. But which service could be labeled as the best for you? Many people like to say Netflix, but that may not be the case anymore. Here is an in-depth look at these three top services, and you can decide for yourself which is right for you. Netflix For years, Netflix has been the staple for countless household movie nights. After starting out as a movie-by-mail service, the streaming site stormed into the new wave with countless innovations and an impeccable website. Ask anyone you know, and odds are they have seen many of their original television shows, like “Stranger Things,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “The Crown.” Netflix has some great TV shows, but where they really shine is their movie selection. Year after year they have had the best movies to pick from, and they generally have a steady stream of new movies to choose from every month. On top of their selection, Netflix has an easy-to-use site, and many handy features, from intro-skipping to a great user interface. If you are not sure where to start, Netflix is a great option to go with. Amazon Prime Amazon is the relative newcomer to the group, even though they have been streaming movies and television shows for quite some time now as well. Now Amazon has most, if not all, of the same features as Netflix, and they even have a sidebar that will play (optionally, of course) during shows and movies where trivia and facts are displayed. However, where Netflix has them beat is in their selection. Netflix generally has the best movie selection, but as far as TV shows goes, Amazon has a different selection, so it is a good compliment to Netflix. Where Amazon does have a leg-up however, is their extensive collection of movies that one can pay to rent. Amazon is a strong competitor to Netflix, so choose wisely. Hulu Hulu is sometimes seen as the odd-man-out when it comes to streaming services. They have been around for a very long time (since 2007), but they originally were a free service with commercials playing throughout their shows. Within the last few years, Hulu has transitioned to the traditional form of online streaming, where users pay a fee, but they do still have some commercials, which is a negative on all accounts. Hulu does have the weakest movie selection of the bunch, but college students like to binge TV shows, and Hulu is one of the best, if not the best, for its collection. Hulu has recently gained a wide variety of high profile shows, from “South Park” to “Scrubs,” that are very binge-able. On top of that, they have a quickly growing variety of original shows, with the currently booming “Handmaid's Tale.” Hulu may be the least attractive of the options, but with the discount that students can receive, I would not count them out. And there you have it. There are three great options to stream your favorite shows, and each one has their ups and downs. The right service could be different for everyone, but there is no wrong choice when it comes to these three. In the meantime, happy binging everyone!
If you went up to nearly any student on a college campus and asked them if they have seen “The Office,” odds are you would get a resounding yes. The show is still a bingeable favorite for many, and John Krasinski as Jim is a fan favorite to this day. However, since the days of “The Office,” Krasinski has had to keep busy. Other than a movie by the name of “A Quiet Place,” Krasinski’s big project has been the Amazon series, “Jack Ryan,” and oh boy, is it a good one. For those unfamiliar, Jack Ryan is a character created by acclaimed writer Tom Clancy. He is a soldier-turned-government operative, and he has been portrayed on both the big and small screens for years. Amazon’s latest iteration of the character has Krasinski in the leading role, working for the CIA and trying to stop a global terrorist catastrophe. Now, the globe-trotting spy trying to save the world is no new theme for television. As a matter of fact, this trope has been played out countless times. So why is “Jack Ryan” worth talking about? The series lives and dies by Krasinski, who is absolutely outstanding throughout the entire show. Due to the whole “Jack Ryan” trope being done so many times before, the show did not have a whole lot of new and different things to show. There are only so many different ways someone can save the world, and you cannot really reinvent how someone does that. Luckily, the show does not falter too much in this case. While there were definitely some lulls in the series, and a few story beats did not quite mesh right, it is all pulled together with Krasinski’s performance. Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” was an expensive and lengthy production. It was in the works for such a long time that it’s no stretch to say that many people would have been disappointed if the show failed. This is why a strong lead actor is so important for any series, and this is no exception. When “Jack Ryan” starts to falter, viewers stay to see what Krasinski does next; audiences do not leave disappointed. While the show has been out for over a month now, it seemed to have gone by with only a little fanfare. “Jack Ryan” might not be the typical show that a college student watches, but this is a show you definitely cannot miss. Krasinski delivers a perfect performance, and the plot will keep you in just enough until the very end. Give the show a quick binge watch just before the fall TV season begins and I promise, you will be much happier that you did.
The city of Macon has a rich history in music. It is no secret that our city’s history is played to the tunes of legends such as Little Richard Penniman and The Allman Brothers Band. In addition to the famous rock bands and solo artists, Macon is known for its jazz. In fact, jazz music is so important that Macon even has its own group that is invested in the art-- the Jazz Association of Macon, or JAM for short. The Jazz Association of Macon is a group of musicians that put on shows in Macon, as well as hold meetings throughout the year to discuss ongoing activities. According to Edward Clark of the association, the mission of the Jazz Association of Macon is “to support, promote, nurture, and educate all interested people and age groups about jazz music and the arts.” Clark said that one of their best events is called “JAM goes back to school.” In this event, the association goes to schools around Macon and performs for the students, in addition to holding classes that “teach concepts of collaborative interaction, value of community, teamwork and self-expression.” The Jazz Association of Macon’s biggest event is the “Jazz and Arts Festival on Riverdale.” This festival has been held for the last 15 years, and it’s “a free, family-friendly event with live jazz music performed by local, regional, and national musicians and a vendor mart with dozens of artists’ works on display and for sale,” Clark said. Reportedly, 3,000-5,000 people attended last year’s event, and the JAM expects similar attendance this year. The festival is Oct. 20 on Riverdale Drive. If you are looking to get involved with the Jazz Association of Macon, anyone is able to join. There is an active membership that meets multiple times throughout the year. The JAM holds many other events as well, such as the “Jazz in the Courtyard” in the spring, and a “Holiday JAM” in the wintertime. Be sure to go to the festival on Riverdale on Oct. 20 to see what jazz in Macon is all about!