Category Archives: Review

Why I love “Dice with Ellen” and you should too

Everyone knows Ellen DeGeneres as the loveable, quirky daytime T.V. personality who dances through the audience, gives celebrities pop-scares and shows the cutest viral videos.3

Aside from the normal talk show host stuff, Ellen is also known to play all sorts of hilarious games on her show such as “Know or Go,” where people stand on a high platform and answer Ellen’s trivia questions. If they know the answer, they can stay until the next round. If they don’t know the answer, they go, and a trap door underneath them lets them fall into a pool of foam below.

In 2014, DeGeneres’ app “Heads Up” took the world by storm with 650,000 downloads in the first month alone and over 10 million downloads today. The game was Ellen’s take on charades, allowing players to choose from a variety of fun topics. Three years later, I still see the game played by people waiting in lines at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.

In March, DeGeneres came out with a new app, another personal take on a classic game. “Dice with Ellen” is based off the classic family night game “Yahtzee.” The game is free, but has upgrades you can purchase and does require a strong internet connection.

4In the new game, you can play Facebook friends, matches and Ellen’s squad. Once you start a game, you click “roll” and have three chances to submit your dice. Like “Yahtzee,” you can get points for numbers one through six, three or four of a kind, a full house (three of a kind and a pair, a small straight (four dice in a consecutive sequence), a large straight (five dice in a consecutive sequence, five-apolooza (a “Yahtzee,” or five of a kind) and chance (the sum of any combination of dice). Like the original game, if you earn over 63 points in the one through six column, you get an additional 35 points.

“Dice with Ellen” differs from “Yahtzee” with its tournaments, frames, special dice and profiles. In tournaments, you can play against other players to earn bonus roll dice that you can use to buy into other tournaments or use for an extra roll in your regular games. As you play more games and earn experience points, or “xp,” you can unlock new frames around your profile picture. You earn bonus rolls and diamonds when you win a game. You can use diamonds to purchase specialized dice or you can earn special dice by winning tournaments.

My favorite part of the game is going head-to-head with Ellen’s squad. You can play against 5people who work on her show like Carol from accounting, Louis the camera guy, Dave the exec or Ellen herself. If you beat a member of Ellen’s squad, you earn diamonds, xp and other prizes.

But the best person to beat is Ellen herself. If you beat Ellen, you get her lucky dice which allow you to have an advantage over your matches in the regular game. The dice make it more likely to get a five-apalooza, which is 50 points.

I’ve been playing for less than a week and my eyes are glued to my phone screen. My average score is 217 with 10,400 xp. After playing for just a few days, I’m already classified as a “veteran” and a level 15 player. My highest score is 343 and I can’t wait to roll a perfect game! If you ever want to play me, you can search my user name “TashaB97” and we can play!

This app was created by Scopefly, an app developer that makes my other favorite game “Wheel of Fortune Free Play.” The developer also makes the original Yahtzee’s app, “Temple Run” and “Walking Dead: Road to Survival.”

I think Dice with Ellen is a fun take on a classic game. I’m totally addicted, the game is limitless. I would recommend downloading the app to anyone who loves Ellen’s quirky style or is looking for something fresh. 10 out of 10, Ellen!

Drama Debuts with Breakups and Butterflies

Student-directed one act plays “The Nine Worst Breakups of All Time” and “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” were performed by Theater on the cafe stage Thursday Feb. 26.

“The Nine Worst Breakups of All Time,” a comedy directed by seniors Cimone Dailey and Destiney Rodriguez, had the audience laughing the whole way through.

“It was my first time directing a play and it was very challenging since I’m usually the one on stage being directed. It was exciting to have the roles flipped,” said Rodriguez.

Eve, played by junior Kelly Ramirez, is a mysterious and magical agent from the organization “Relationships for a Better Tomorrow.” She takes recently single Katie, played by sophomore Sam Saucedo, back in time on a countdown of the nine worst breakups in history.

From cavemen to the Civil War, Eve shows Katie that her breakup wasn’t the most heartbreaking of all. In fact, Eve’s is, with her breakup being number one on the countdown.DSC_0151

“My favorite breakup scene was the caveman one. I thought it was funny how they were able to bring the characters alive,” said Ramirez.

The caveman scene, a cast favorite, starred freshman Michael Alvarez as Ug and junior Elizabeth Sanchez as Rah. Although low on Eve’s countdown, it was pretty high on my favorites.

Despite Eve’s translations of their grunts and gibberish, Alvarez and Sanchez made the argument easy to understand through gestures. Their glazed-over expressions and fascinated stares added to their amusing scene.

“The caveman scene with Ug and Rah was my favorite, because who would have known that cavemen had such complicated love lives?” said Rodriguez.

Some other breakups consisted of throwing a surprise breakup party, breaking up by charades and karaoke, a mistaken proposal, and sending a messenger from “MOB-N: Messengers of Bad News” to a girlfriend patiently waiting at Denny’s.

DSC_0268“My favorite breakup was the mistaken proposal. I love how she just jumps into his arms just to push him away when she gets it,” said Saucedo.

In the mistaken proposal scene senior Kylie Buckles plays Julie and freshman Jalen Taylor plays Tyler. After a long romantic evening Julie thinks Tyler is proposing, but when he gets on one knee and drops the bad news, she leaps into his arms in delight only to register his words and forcefully jump down.

It’s easy to tell why this ironic breakup is number two on Eve’s countdown—Tyler sets up a big night so that they end their relationship on a “high note,” but ends up breaking Julie’s heart.

If I had to choose my favorite breakup, it would be the Civil War scene starring seniors Marilyn Martinez and Julian McDonald.

I was especially entertained by McDonald and his characters Elijah Rhodes and Guy.

Elijah, a soldier in the Civil War, is constantly getting letters from his obsessive girlfriend Jessica. When she threatens to come to the front-line of the war, Elijah forges a letter from President Abraham Lincoln. He gives himself away when he misspells the president’s name as “Abrahem Licon.”DSC_0216

In their correspondence, each character would read their letter aloud as they were “writing” it. When it came to the forged letter from the President, McDonald donned an Abe-style top hat as he unsuccessfully tried to convince his girlfriend he, as President Lincoln, made a mistake with his name and wishes she stay home. McDonald’s transition from Elijah to Lincoln was comically choppy and visually showed the awkwardness and obvious lies.

Despite that they were simply reading letters, Martinez and McDonald’s tone, facial expression, and body language brought more emphasis to the words—allowing for a humorous alternative to simply doing a voice-over.

McDonald’s second scene character Guy, an aspiring actor starring as Danny Zuko in “Grease,” is dating Katie’s travel guide Eve. Eve meets him after rehearsal and he then breaks up with her via musical number, with his “Grease” cast as backup dancers. Musically, he explains how she’s possessive, controlling, and annoyingly organizes his backpack. McDonald seamlessly transitioned characters and added his own charisma to Guy as the innuendos and sarcasm of his dialogue seemed to just flow into the musical number and his shimmy off stage.

DSC_0397In the second play “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” junior Sabrina Lopez captivates the audience in her portrayal as Raja, a Jewish teen living in the Terezin ghetto during World War II. Under the direction of senior Isaac Pineda, the tear-jerking scenes came to life on the stage and made me feel Lopez truly suffered through the horrors of Terezin.

While living in the ghetto, Raja befriends her new teacher Irena, played by junior Geneveave Quijano. With Irena’s guidance she learns how to adapt to her new life and find happiness when everything is taken from her.

As everyone she knows is transported to the camp Auschwitz, Raja takes to her diary as comfort and grows stronger emotionally.

Throughout her time at Terezin, Raja meets a boy named Honza, played by senior Matthew Quintana. They clandestinely exchange cartoons and letters to be published in Terezin’s secret newspaper. Slowly their relationship changes from annoyance, to tolerance, to friendship, and finally to love.

A scene that really hit me emotionally was when Raja and Honza’s relationship clearly transitions to love as Honza makes his feelings known. He brings her a stolen sausage, something she obviously hasn’t had in a long time. Lopez’s quickness to grab the food and her evident appreciation of the gesture makes the simple exchange a defining moment of the play.DSC_0446

To me, the best part was when you learn the significance of the title. Before Honza is sent to Auschwitz, he meets with Raja. They look off into the distance at a small patch of green as Honza tells Raja he gives to her all the flowers and the butterflies there.

“There’s this scene when Raja and Honza are whispering through the wall separating the boys and girls part of the ghetto the night before he’s sent to Auschwitz. She’s frantically trying to find him and he whispers ‘I’m with you wherever you are.’ That’s my favorite scene,” said Lopez.

By the end of the one-act, Lopez and Quintana’s performances had the audience, myself included, feeling as though we had traveled back in time to the 1930s, experiencing the Holocaust through a survivor’s eyes.

In the past I’ve attended Drama’s bigger productions, but it was nice to sit through something shorter that was similarly entertaining and much more intimate. After their recent production of “Shrek the Musical” their night of one acts was a nice change of pace.

I felt that the student’s true acting potential was showcased more than in the musical as the leads of Katie, Eve, and Raja seemed equally as important as the other characters. The student directors came out to introduce themselves before every performance, which made me value the work that went into the acts more. Their introduction made the plays seem less of something that was magically brought together in one hour, and more of a piece of art that time and effort went into.

As the crowd was smaller than their full-on plays or musicals, I really appreciated being up close to the action. As there was only one microphone, hanging from the ceiling, you could feel something much warmer in the atmosphere as the actors used the total projection of their voice rather than personal mics.

This being my first time at a night of one acts put on by Drama, I’m starting to regret never having attended before. I encourage anyone who admires the arts or a more personal sort of performance to attend.

Currently Play Production is working on the spring play “The Foreigner,” to debut in April.

This article was originally posted by Newsbytes Online.

“Maleficent”

maleeDisney’s done it again, another amazing blockbuster. Although some critics weren’t all too impressed, I’d have to say Maleficent was magnificent. A true cinematic experience.

Angelina Jolie adds the perfect mix of sensual-evil needed to play a villain. I’ll have to say I was a bit bothered by how sharp they made her cheek bones and how they pronounced it “Male-EH-fiss-ent” where I’ve always heard it “Muh-lif-icent.” But hey, Disney owns it.

I was most impressed by the beautiful special effects. Disney of course has those unlimited resources, but they did it perfectly. The effects weren’t overdone like James Cameron’s “Avatar,” but there was nothing I thought they lacked like in the Kristen Stewart version of “Snow White.”

Now that plot line. I’m a big fan of stories told from the villain’s side; “Wicked,” “Red Riding Hood,” those ones. I love how they explain things and make you go, Oh! That’s why Maleficent is evil. THAT’S why she cursed Aurora. And I just LOVE the darker side of Disney.

So here we go. Maleficent is a fairy and protector of the Moore kingdom. Next door was this kingdom that lived the very greedy King Henry who heard all about the river of jewels in the Moore’s land and was too down to invade to steal it all.

mmaFlash back to Maleficent’s childhood. Her and this one human boy she met one day, Stefan, became very good friends. They fell in love, but Stefan’s human greed drove him from her, and she couldn’t understand. She was heartbroken.

Now fast forward to when the king leads his army to invade the peaceful Moore kingdom. After a long day of flying, Maleficent rests on the top of a rocky hill when she sees the army approaching. As protector of the kingdom, she meets the army and defeats them, but in the mean-time, greatly injures the king.

On his death bed the king announces whomever kills the “winged-beast,” Maleficent, will be named his successor. Stefan, eager to be the next king, approaches the edge of the Moore kingdom and calls to Maleficent as he did when they were children and used to play. The two reminisce and in a potion-induced sleep, Maleficent rests in Stefan’s arms. Unable to kill her, he cuts off her wings instead. He takes them to the king to “prove” the beast has been defeated and is named the next King.

Angry the love of her life betrayed her, Maleficent turns the beautiful, peaceful, happy Moore kingdom into a mmmmdark wasteland where she rots in anger. When she hears word the king has had a child, she decides to pay a visit to the baby’s Christening. There, she casts the curse we all know, that by sunset on her 16th birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a sleep like death, only to be awakened by true love’s kiss- but according to Maleficent, true love does not exist.

Stefan sends the child away with three pixies to raise her in a cottage in the forest, and they are to bring her back the day AFTER her 16th birthday. The pixies, unaware of how to raise a human, almost starve the baby to death. But Maleficent and her crow henchman ensure the child lives: they secretly feed her, keep her safe, and watch over her until she’s old enough to care for herself and does not have to rely on her dim-witted “Aunties.”

maOne day Aurora and Maleficent run into each other in the woods. Aurora recognizes her shadow, and exclaims that she must be her fairygod mother. Maleficent goes along with it, and lets the child call her fairygod mother. She shows her the Moore kingdom where she befriends many animals and comes to love the land, much like Maleficent as a child. Maleficent sees so much of her self in Aurora, and grows to love her, but she finds that she cannot break the spell she cursed her with almost 16 years ago.

On her 16th birthday Aurora asks if she can live in the Moore kingdom with Maleficent, to which she replies yes. She hurries home to tell her “Aunties” the news, when they accidently let it slip about the curse, Maleficent, and that they are to take her to her father soon. Angry with the truth and feeling betrayed by her “fairygod mother,” she runs away to see her father.

Now here’s where the story goes as we all know it. She’s locked up, some magical green light and maawhispers lead her to a spinning wheel, and she pricks her finger, falling into that death-like sleep. The Prince she met in the woods that one day kisses her but PLOT TWIST, his kiss doesn’t wake her up.

Crying over the child she’s come to love as her own, Maleficent tells her henchman that the reason Prince Phillip’s kiss didn’t work is because true love doesn’t exist. Distraught and hurt, Maleficent gives up and says her final goodbye to Aurora.

Will she wake up or remain in her death-like sleep forever?

Now, in my opinion, the movie was great. I love that they explained things like why Maleficent has a crow that follows her everywhere, why she cursed the baby, why she hates King Stefan, why she walks with a staff everywhere, and so much more. The screenplay writers did an amazing job, no doubt. The movie really makes you see Maleficent as the true hero, and understand her on a more personal level.

mmmmmJolie was the perfect fit. Well known, has sex appeal, and has played many good-but-bad characters in the past. Elle Fanning made a beautiful Aurora, she had that angelic face and princess charm. You couldn’t help but love her. The fairies were so precious, easily replaceable, but the actresses did a good job. And that PRINCE. Prince Philip played by Brenton Thwaites, I’ve never seen him in anything else, but you can bet I’m going to be binge watching everything he’s ever been in.

On the day of Disneyland’s 24 hour event I went. In California Adventures they had a sneak peek of the movie in 4d. Yes, 4d. It was 3d, but fire and smoke shot at us, the ground shook, it felt like we were really there. I think the preview was what really prompted me to see it opening day. I was definitely not disappointed.

This movie gets an A+ from me. I loved it. I can’t see how any critic has had an issue with it. In fact, the critics have not had the greatest reviews, but the movie has gotten over an 90% rating by the public. Trust me, it’s a must-see.

 

“Divergent” Review

It’s always said that the book is better than the movie, but as one that didn’t get a chance to read the Divergentddiv series before watching the flick on the big screen, I have to say I don’t have any regrets at all.

“Divergent,” starring Shailene Woodley as Tris/Beatrice and Theo James as Four/Tobias, is an action-packed, fast-paced movie with a twist of romance and the difficulties of cutting family ties. In a dystopia post-war Chicago, the government constructed a large wall and divided the population into five factions based on the virtues of the person: Abnegation, the selfless who are trusted to run the government, Candor, the honest, Erudite, the intelligent who work in the scientific field, Amity, the peaceful who work the land to provide food for the city, and Dauntless, the brave, fearless warriors and protectors of the city.

When one turns 16 they are sent to take a test that tells them where they belong within the factions. Although most people test into the faction they were born to, the person still gets to make the choice whether to go with their test result or their heart. When Beatrice finds out her test result was inconclusive her test administrator hurries her out of the exam room and manually inserts her result as Abnegation before authorities are alerted. Realizing Beatrice won’t leave without knowing why her test results came out the way they did, the examiner tells her that every once in a while a person is born who does not fall into a faction, they are called divergent. Although extremely rare, they threaten the system and are eliminated if discovered.

Beatrice goes home, but come choosing day she is troubled on what to choose- stay in Abnegation where she never really felt like she belonged but be with her family, or follow her heart and switch factions. Beatrice chooses to switch into Dauntless. Being the only one of the new recruits from Abnegation, that the rest of the city nicknames “stiffs,” she is determined to prove she belongs by always being the first to volunteer and changes her name to Tris. Her and the other new recruits are put to the test to prove themselves. At the end of testing the lowest scoring recruits are marked to be kicked out and deemed “factionless,” or the homeless whose food only comes from the selflessness of Abnegation when available.

Tris gets to a rough start being that she is weak in body, but not in mind. She practices harder than anyone else and challenges the authority ofdiv3 her superiors, one being Four, who has become interested in her tough personality. He takes her under his wing and teaches her how to fight the right way, helping her get above the factionless cut-off line. On the last stage of testing the new recruits are to drink a serum that will show the examiner their fears and how they would deal with them in real life. Tris, with Four as her examiner, understands that she is being tested, reminding herself over and over again “this is not real,” and finishes the test in record time. Four, suspicious of how she finished the test so fast, has caught onto her being a divergent. Tris is faced with another choice- deny and possibly live or come clean and suffer the consequences.

Later on down the road Tris reveals to Four what he already knew, that she’s a divergent. Four, being one too, teaches her how to fit into their faction and pass the final test that the Dauntless and Erudite leaders will be observing. Their relationship develops and they become inseparable. But there’s trouble within the government.

Erudite thinks Abnegation is unfit to run the city and is fighting them for power. They develop a mind-controlling serum they inject into the whole Dauntless faction, making them zombie warriors with the mission to invade Abnegation and exterminate them. Being divergent, the serum doesn’t work on Four and Tris, and they plot how to get to the Erudite command center in a protected part of the Dauntless faction and shut the whole system down. But first, Tris needs to save her Mom and Dad from the executions.

Will they shut it down or will Erudite’s mind-controlled zombies stop them in their tracks?div5

“Divergent” has been regarded as a Frankenstein mash-up of other movies, however I personally feel it’s in a classification of its own. The movie has been criticized for its similarities to the Hunger Games series as there is a division of people and issues with the government. To me the differences definitely outweigh the similarities, such as the plot, romance, and there being a sort of civil war in “Divergent” while “Hunger Games” has an over-controlling government.

The filming of “Divergent” is much cleaner and professionally shot than “Hunger Games,” without the shakiness of the camera that had many upset, dizzy, or feeling sick when watching it in theaters. Although there have been complaints about the casting of the leads, as there always are with book adaptations, Woodley and James did a phenomenal job. The acting is much more believable and flows undeniably better than its teen-raged predecessor “Hunger Games.”

“Divergent” definitely had me on an emotional rollercoaster- crying, squealing, screaming at the screen, and squeezing my friends on either side. It’s a movie you must have the full cinematic experience with, or you’ll regret it. I strongly recommend you watch this in theaters while it’s still available.

As for comparing to the book, there’s always the complaints and the praise. I’ve heard it’s pretty similar, only a few minor things, but I have nothing negative to say at all. As a movie-buff, I greatly admire the impeccable acting, special effects, set and costume design, and screenwriting. It’s an A+, five out of five stars, two-thumbs up movie for me that is bound to become a cult classic faster than “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” combined. I will definitely be adding the DVD to my collection when it comes out and to my list of all-time favorites. Watch it and you will too.