Category Archives: Entertainment

YEAR IN REVIEW: Video Games

By Matthew O’Hara

2018 was a fantastic year for gaming. A variety of releases from both new and old franchises hit the gaming community by storm. Whether it was for their story, multiplayer capability, or their art, many games received praise from both critics and players alike. While there were so many fantastic releases this year, there were a few that rose above the rest. Here is my list of the top 10  games released in 2018:

#10 Call of Duty Black Ops 4

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express.co.uk

Black Ops 4 is a new and interesting take on the Call of Duty Black Ops series. This installment of Call of Duty is more focused on multiplayer, as Black Ops 4 contains no formal campaign, and instead focuses on its zombie mode and multiplayer battles. While the lack of a formal campaign was a bit surprising to some, Black Ops 4’s variety of multiplayer modes, its zombie mode, and new battle royale mode more then make up for the absence of a campaign. The game also supports split screen, allowing you and friend to play online or offline together on the same console. Overall, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is a solid multiplayer game with immense variety that definitely deserves a spot on this list.

#9 Assassins Creed Odyssey

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store.steampowered.com

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an open world stealth action game that takes place during the Peloponnesian War.  The player takes the role of either Alexios or Kassandra, mercenary warriors whose personalities vary depending on how you play the game. While the game does have a story to it, the player is given a large amount of freedom, allowing you to explore the large and fascinating world around you. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey also has a fantastic combat system that lets you customize your character’s weapons, armor, and abilities to suit your playstyle. Overall, Assassins Creed Odyssey’s fantastic graphics, interesting story, and great combat system make it a game to remember in 2018.

#8 Monster Hunter World

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polygon.com

Monster Hunter World is an action role playing game that allows you to hunt and slay ferocious monsters. As a monster hunter, you’re tasked with going to the New World, a recently discovered land that is crowded with powerful monsters. While in the New World, you can battle a variety of beasts and monsters, each with different looks, abilities, and difficulties. After defeating a monster, you can harvest it and use the monster’s materials to craft stronger weapons and armor for yourself, allowing you to face greater challenges. Monster Hunter World also has a variety of weapons to choose from, each with a unique and interesting play style. My one critique of the game would be an underdeveloped story, which took away from the fun gameplay.  

#7 Far Cry Five

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trustedreviews.com

Far Cry Five is open world action shooter that takes place in  fictional Hope County, Montana. You play as the Deputy, a member of the Hope County sheriff’s department who tries to liberate the county from Eden’s Gate, a large and violent cult that is preparing for Judgement Day. As the Deputy, you roam around Hope County’s massive open world, freeing civilians, completing missions, and destabilizing Eden’s Gate wherever you go. The game has a large number of fun side quests to complete, which can reward the player with money.  The game also has a unique group of characters, each with their own interesting personalities and backstories. The fun that comes with Far Cry Five does not end with the story, as the game’s arcade mode lets you play on custom player-generated maps, allowing for almost infinite replayability.

#6 Celeste

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celestegame.com

Celeste is an indie platformer game that is being celebrated for its pixel art style and engaging story. In Celeste, you play as Madeline, a young woman struggling with depression as she tries to climb Celeste Mountain. Along the way she encounters numerous platforming challenges, which require you to jump and dash with speed and precision. These challenges begin to grow more difficult as you continue through the game, and the levels gain more and more hazards that can spell certain death for your character if you’re not fast enough. These levels are also accompanied by Madeline’s development as a character, as she encounters new friends and faces her own dark reflection. Overall, Celeste’s interesting and emotional narrative, fun but difficult gameplay, and beautiful pixel art style make it a game to remember.

#5 Forza Horizon 4

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microsoft.com

Forza Horizon 4 is the eleventh installment in the series, an open world racing game with a variety of cars, races and multiplayer options. With over 400 cars to choose from and the ability to create your own races with your friends, Forza Horizon 4 gives you  countless play options. On top of that, Forza Horizon 4 also includes changing seasons and weather conditions, which make no race or play session exactly alike. The sheer amount of variety and replayability makes the game a fun and memorable experience.

#4 Super Smash Bros Ultimate

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gamerant.com

Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a crossover fighting game featuring characters from different Nintendo series, along with a few from other companies. With 76 playable fighters and echo fighters with more downloadable content on the way, Super Smash Bros Ultimate has the biggest roster of the entire Super Smash Bros series. This large and unique roster is paired with 103 stages to play on, along with a variety of different game modes and activities. Super Smash Bros Ultimate also includes a new story mode, which challenges the player with unique and difficult battles. Overall, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a fantastic fighting game with tons of replayability and a fun story mode.

#3 Marvel’s Spider-Man

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playstation.com

Marvel’s Spider-Man is an action adventure game that allows players to swing through the streets of New York as the one and only Spider-Man. Set eight years after Peter Parker became the famed crime fighter, the game focuses on trying to reclaim New York City from a variety of classic foes such as Mr. Negative, Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Doctor Octopus. Along the way, Spider-Man can participate in side quests for rewards and gain new combat skills and suit abilities, which can give you the edge in later battles. The game is also accompanied by a fluent and responsive combat system that makes the game even more of a blast to play.

 

#2 God of War 4

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gamesradar.com

In God of War 4, you play as Kratos, the former Greek god of war, as he travels to ancient Norway and battles against monsters and gods from Norse mythology. In this installment of God of War, Kratos is accompanied by his son Arteus as the two embark to spread the ashes of Kratos’ wife on the highest peak of the Nine Realms. Along the way, the pair encounter numerous beasts from Norse mythology such as Wulvers and Draugurs, along with Norse gods such as Baldur, Modi, and Magni. God of War 4 also includes a variety of side quests and puzzles.  This story is coupled with a fluent combat system that focuses on Kratos using his Leviathan Axe and Guardian Shield in a variety of combos and deadly abilities. Overall, God of War 4’s excellent story, combat system, and puzzles make it one of the greatest games of 2018.

#1 Red Dead Redemption 2

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variety.com

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open world action shooter developed by Rockstar Games. You play as Arthur Morgan, a sharpshooting outlaw that rides with Dutch Van Der Linde and his gang. After a failed robbery in the town of Blackwater, Dutch’s gang suffers huge losses, and is forced to flee to avoid incarceration. The game then focuses on Arthur and his fellow allies trying to rebuild the gang’s funds so they can head West and escape the law. While on this mission, Arthur is involved in train robberies, old scores, lost loves, feuding families, and an ever-changing America that wishes to destroy his way of life. As you go through the game, you get to interact with your fellow gang members and learn about their pasts and personalities, each different and interesting in their own way. Along with the game’s intriguing story, Red Dead Redemption 2 also includes a large open world and a number of side quests and activities that can give you money and special rewards. The game also includes a fast-paced combat system that focuses on swift and steady aim and using the environment as cover. Overall, Red Dead Redemption 2’s fantastic story, interesting characters, numerous side quests, and gritty combat system make it the best game of 2018.

 

Featured picture from China-briefing.com

What’s Inside the Little Shop of Horrors?!

By Callia Gilligan

Mark your calendars for December 13th, HHS! That date is opening night for our very own production of Little Shop of Horrors. The musical was written by Howard Ashman and composed by Alan Menken, composer for lots of Disney movies including The Little Mermaid.  It is a love story about a young man, Seymour, with a crush on a girl named Audrey. While working in a florist shop, Seymour discovers a mysterious plant that he names Audrey 2.  After the death of Audrey’s boyfriend Orin, Seymour feeds Orin’s body to the plant. Audrey 2 grows more thirsty for blood so Seymour has the task of hunting down more bodies to feed the plant. To find out what happens next, come see the musical!

The musical is directed by our very own Mr. Fahey and Mr. Wade. According to Mr. Wade, Little Shop was chosen because the Hanover Drama program likes to have a mix between older and newer musicals. This particular musical fits the roles of students that were already in mind for the cast.  Emma Gannon plays Audrey,  Fred Trankels is Seymour, Erin Foley plays Audrey 2, Ben Manning is Mr. Mushnik,  Chris Manning plays  Orin, and Elise Falvey, Michelle Sylvester, and Kathryn Sheridan play the Greek Chorus Girls. The show does not have many main roles, Mr. Wade said. In fact, it’s supposed to be focused on the ensemble. The cast loves the show so much and is having so much fun with it.

The musical can be described in many different ways. It has good moral messages about greed and love, but is also described as “darkly humorous” by Mr. Wade, who actually played Seymour once in a school production! The show is fun and timely and both Mr. Fahey and Mr. Wade look forward to it. I know that I certainly am too.

Performances will be held Thursday, Dec. 13, and Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 pm. A Saturday matinee will be held at 2 pm on Dec. 15. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens

HHS Senior Becomes Published Author

By Lexi Rynning

Alex McFarland has always enjoyed burying his nose in a book. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Alex would be inspired to write one of his own. That book, started for a contest in middle school, has been published and is now available for purchase on Amazon.com.

A senior at HHS, Alex is a well-rounded student, participating in many after school activities including Lit Mag and Drama Club as well as excelling in his classes. Back in middle school, Alex entered a writing contest with his friends. They each wrote a story and uploaded it to a website to get other people’s perspectives.  While Alex didn’t win, he decided to keep working on the story. Inspired by his favorite author, Chris D’Lacey, he wrote What Was Missing. The story follows Madeline, whose father has fallen into a coma  after a mysterious archaeological dig releases the ‘Iss.’ In a world full of technology and dragons, Madeline joins other children in a mission to rescue their parents and save the world.

On his book, you won’t see Alex’s name. Instead, the author is listed as Draconis Solutus, which means” free dragon” in Latin. Alex originally created the pen name because of a website called Watt Pad which allows writers to express their creativity and ideas. He didn’t want his real name out on the Internet. From what I know, he plans to continue using this pen name on future books, which you can purchase from him or on Amazon for $15. Alex even did the cover art himself. He took a picture of a cardboard roll, like a paper towel roll, and used editing software to create the cool effect, then drew a dragon eye in the middle. 

Alex is currently in the process of editing two more books, The Game of Tag, which is a sequel to What Was Missing, and Project Anchorak: The Buried City. I have already read his first published book and loved it. The characters were really cool, and the plot was well thought out. He is planning to release the second book in a month or two.

Alex used so much creativity to build the world portrayed in the book and imagine what everything could be. He credits his success to the support of his family, especially his younger brother, William, a freshman at HHS, his girlfriend Megan, and all of his friends.

Film Exposes Secret Research Study on Twins Separated at Birth

The documentary Three Identical Strangers starts off as a happy reunion of three young men who find out they’re long-lost brothers. But it doesn’t take long for the viewer to realize the whole thing is not going to end well. When the brothers find out they were separated at birth for a secret research experiment, their joy turns to devastation. And as I watched, so did mine.

Available via streaming services including Comcast’s On Demand, the movie chronicles the lives of Eddy Galland, Robert Shafran and David Kellman. When 19-year-old Robert arrives at a small community college in 1980 and is greeted by strangers as a an old friend, he is mystified. He soon meets a classmate who introduces him to Eddy, who shares his looks, birthday and adoption story. The brothers become a media sensation, profiled in newspapers and on talk shows nationwide. The publicity leads David to realize he’s actually the third of the separated siblings.  The boys go viral before going viral was even a thing, embracing  their fame with a bachelor pad and club hopping, an appearance in a Madonna movie, and even a Manhattan restaurant named Triplets. Everyone marvels about their shared interests and mannerisms, even though they were raised in very different families. It’s a very 1980s phenomenon, and I couldn’t help but get swept up in the fun they were having.

The first sign I had that something was not right was when I realized that the documentary, filmed some 30 years after the reunion, only has interviews with two of the brothers. Where was the third?

In the film, joy soon leads to confusion and anger. The families confront the New York City adoption agency that placed the boys, demanding to know why they were never told the siblings existed. The adoption agency claimed it would have been too hard to place all three children in one home. But soon an author writing a book about twins learns there was a much darker reason. The boys, and other sets of twins from this same adoption agency, were separated so researchers could study how different parenting styles would impact children who were genetically similar. You may have heard of the debate over nature versus nurture: is it our DNA or our surroundings that has a greater influence? The study, led by the late psychologist Peter Neubauer, followed the boys into their teens with questionnaires and observation. Its existence was a closely guarded secret – the parents were told it was a study about adoption – and its results were never published.

Discovery of the study devastated the brothers. They felt robbed of their childhood and manipulated as lab rats. While they dealt with this revelation, they also struggled with the realization that the similarities so obvious upon their first meeting masked some very significant differences. As the brothers grew older, started families,  and went into business together, they saw that their upbringings had instilled different work ethics, values and beliefs. Disagreements developed, and they were no longer the carefree trio. They also saw signs of mental illness, which they later suspected might be another reason their family was targeted for the study.

The movie entertained, but also made me think —  not a bad combination for a lazy Friday after Thanksgiving. It inspired some serious discussion about nature versus nurture, the ethics of research and the effects of overnight celebrity. We never get answers about whether the study learned anything worthwhile. To me, it was just a glaring example of the scientists’ arrogance at playing God. I felt terrible for the two adult brothers still living today. When we finally learned what happened to the third, it was heartbreaking. Growing up with four siblings, there have, of course, been times when I wished they didn’t exist. But I also can’t imagine never knowing them. While the brothers reunited at 19, the years they spent apart – and the knowledge of why they were split up – haunted their entire lives.

 

 

Prism Concert Showcases Talent, Passion of HHS

Music has always been a big part of the culture here at HHS, but the talent on display at the 2018 Prism Concert on Oct. 25 truly knocked everyone’s socks off. The concert featured performances from the Wind Ensemble, Vox, Concert Chorus, Jazz Ensemble, the Corporation, and the Marching Band. Led by the hardworking Mr. Harden and Mr. Wade, the concert was truly outstanding and showcased the amazing music department at HHS.

The concert opened with the Wind Ensemble performing a piece entitled “Make Our Garden Grow,” written by Leonard Bernstein. It was truly a beautiful piece. The ensemble sounded so well together that you could really tell how much the performers love music.

Next, the Vox Choir took the stage and performed “Dirait-On,” written by Morton Lauridsen. Amazing is just an understatement on how they performed. Every time those girls sing, it’s just an awesome sensation. Chills go down your spine and you’re just in awe of their talent. It’s truly magical.

After Vox, Concert Chorus performed “Nine Hundred Miles,” a traditional American folk song. The chorus sounded beautiful and full of passion. You could see it in their eyes and the way they stood on the risers. They wanted to be there. It was a beautiful moment.

If you weren’t sure whether you wanted to see the upcoming school musical, Little Shop of Horrors, then the next performance likely convinced you. Emma Gannon, who plays Audrey in the musical, and Fred Trankels, who plays Seymour, sang the duet “Suddenly Seymour.” The two of them were outstanding. They have amazing voices and could tell the story of the song through their motions and words. It captivated me and this was only a taste of what they can do. If they were this good with just one song, imagine how awesome they are going to be during the show! I can hardly wait!

Next, the Jazz Ensemble performed “One More for the Count” by Mark Louis. The piece was written to honor Count Basie, a jazz pianist, organist, and composer. The Jazz Ensemble did Count Basie proud. It was such a good song that it made you sway in your seat. There was also a solo on the trombone by Andrea Contreras. She killed it! The performance was outstanding and made you want to move your feet.

The combined choirs then came back out onto the stage and performed “I Know a Young Maiden,” written by Orlando di Lasso. They were stunning. The audience sat in such stunned silence, you could hear a pin drop! All of those beautiful and amazing voices put together was just perfection! I could listen to them for hours! 

The second to last performance of the night came from the Corporation, singing “For the Longest Time” by Billy Joel. There were solos from Fred Trankels, Jack Thornton, Peter Bell, Peter Scribner, Ben Manning, Chris Manning, and Christian Lyttle. The boys sounded awesome. This song was really a perfect fit for them. It was catchy, fun, and upbeat! It was certainly a moment to remember for the longest time.

The HHS Marching Band performed their filed show “Journeys” to cap off the night. The show features the songs “Country Roads,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” “The Road Home,” “Homeward Bound” and “Life is a Highway.” No matter how many times the band performs this music, it still strikes me. They work so hard and they bring all of this energy which just makes the crowd go crazy! 

Throughout the concert, video segments were projected for the audience to see. In these videos, members of the music ensemble spoke about what music means to them. In these videos, you could totally tell how much music is a part of everyday life here at HHS. These kids eat, sleep, and breathe music, as do Mr. Wade and Mr. Harden right along with them. That’s what makes music here at HHS so special. It’s the passion and the love. The students want to be here and create music. Music is just so special and it brings so many people together in so many different ways.

This Prism Concert was certainly a night to remember. It showed off all of the talent here at Hanover High and the dedication of the teachers who lead the music department. I certainly cannot wait for next year’s concert!

Hamilton in Boston Lives Up to Its Reputation

By Callia Gilligan

Hamilton: An American Musical is well known to many people. It has music and lyrics by the genius, Lin Manuel Miranda. He’s composed a ton of musicals and movies like Moana, In the Heights, Bring It On and 21 Chump Street. All of his works are amazing but, I dare say, Hamilton stands out.

Hamilton is about the Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who immigrated to the colonies, fought in the Revolutionary War, and eventually helped establish the country we live in today. The soundtrack, surprisingly, is a rap-hip hop score, and tells the entire story. The actors sing throughout the show; there is always, music, talking, singing or rapping.

As a musical theater kid, I generally love any musical and I’ve seen a lot: about 20 shows in New York City and five in Boston. I’m very fortunate to get to see the amount of theater that I do. Hamilton tops everything I’ve ever seen. I’ve loved the show since the Original Broadway Cast Recording was released in 2015. It has such an enormous following that tickets are really hard to come by, so seeing it recently in Boston was a dream come true and unlike anything else.

Lots of people share my opinion when it comes to this show. Many celebrities love it, including the Obama family, who invited the cast to perform at the White House. If you haven’t listened to the cast recording, listen to it. It is fantastic and you will become obsessed.  I’m going to touch upon the moments that I felt stood out to me the most in the show.

The show starts out with the number “Alexander Hamilton.” It is evident from the beginning of the show that a lot of the story will be conveyed through body language and dance. There are background dancers that move the set pieces and dance with such raw emotion that it helps tell the story in such an honest, pure form. The number starts out with Aaron Burr, Marquis de Lafayette, Hercules Mulligan and John Laurens setting the scene for Hamilton’s life, explaining how he worked his way out of the Caribbean island where he was born.  Alexander’s first appearance on stage earned actor Edred Utomi thunderous applause. The first line Hamilton sings shows the audience just how ambitious he is. Hamilton sings, “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.” The opening number continues to set up Hamilton’s life, getting us up to speed for where the story picks up. We learn that Hamilton’s father left early and his mother died when he was 12. When he was 17, a hurricane destroyed his town. Eventually, after slaving away and writing about his story, he raised enough money to board a ship that would take him to New York. At the very end of the number, Aaron Burr sings, “And I’m the damn fool that shot him.” The line foreshadows Hamilton’s death at the hands of Burr.

After the opening number, the story resumes in 1776 in New York City, where Hamilton meets Burr for the first time. Hamilton talks very fast, providing his opinions on the coming revolution and sharing his story of being an orphan. Burr responds by telling Hamilton to “talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” Throughout the entire show, Burr is very passive aggressive, and rarely says or does anything that benefits people other than himself. He’s often very jealous, and can’t accept that his failures are his own fault. This is first demonstrated in “Aaron Burr, Sir” when he takes Hamilton as stupid for being excited about the war. Nicholas Christopher, the actor who played  Burr, did an outstanding job with both the passive-aggressiveness as well as the moments when Burr shows raw emotion.

Another song that stood out to me was “You’ll Be Back,” sung by King George, England’s monarch at the time of the revolution. It is written like a breakup song to the colonies. The lyrics are hilarious including “I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.” The delivery of the song by Peter Matthew Smith was fantastic. It was also the only song I noticed where there was really nothing going on in the background, just King George and the audience.

My favorite parts of the whole show were probably the songs “Helpless” and “Satisfied.” Both tell the same story, in different points of view, of when two wealthy sisters meet Alexander for the first time. “Helpless” starts with Eliza and Alexander meeting at a ball. It cycles through how they write letters to each other and fall in love, and ends with their wedding. “Satisfied” picks up right at the wedding, but rewinds (literally rewinds as the actors on stage do the choreography from “Helpless,” but backwards) to the night when Eliza met Alexander, but from her sister Angelica’s point of view. Angelica, played by Sabrina Sloan, displays her wit and intelligence and her care for others, most importantly her sister. At the ball, Angelica and Eliza notice Alexander and are attracted to him (talk about a womanizer). However, Angelica speaks to him first. The two share an immediate attraction, but Angelica realizes that there is no way she could marry Alexander due to her family situation and Eliza’s feelings for him, so she sacrifices her happiness for her sister. Angelica’s sadness, despair and regret are part of what made this number stand out. You felt so connected to her. This number was also great because of how involved it was. Everyone in the cast was moving and singing, not just Angelica. Really, the whole show is like that; there is always more going on in the background.

The show continues and the plot thickens. Eliza is pregnant, Alexander gets dismissed from the army only to get called back by George Washington; there is just so much to this show! To close Act I, there is a large ensemble number called “Non Stop.” It’s about forming a country and government after the colonies have declared their freedom from Great Britain. At the very end of the song, all the characters sing different versions of their themes that have been recurring throughout the show, all at the same time. The characters have come a long way since the show started. Eliza and Alexander have a baby, George Washington becomes president, Alexander is named secretary of treasury, Angelica moves to London and John Laurens passed away.

To open Act II, we meet Thomas Jefferson for the first time in a large number titled “What’d I Miss?” Jefferson is played by the same actor who performs Marquis de Lafayette, Bryson Bruce. Bruce played the character effortlessly and delivered each line with spunk and personality. The large dance ensemble highlighted the fantastic number.

The end of Act II really caught my attention. The characters’ actions shocked me, for example, when Alexander cheats on Eliza. “Stay Alive Reprise” and “It’s Quiet Uptown” brought me to tears. “Stay Alive Reprise” shows when Alexander and Eliza find out that their son, Phillip, has been shot and dies. Both his parents are right by his side. As Philip dies, the music stops and Eliza lets out this scream and starts sobbing. This moment caught me by surprise as it demonstrated the harsh reality of what happens when parents outlive their children. If I thought I couldn’t have possibly cried more, I was so wrong. After Phillip’s death, “It’s Quiet Uptown” reveals one of the only times Alexander shows true sadness. Death has always haunted Hamilton’s life. His mother died, his best friend died and his comrades die, but he never stopped moving. When Philip died, it was different. Alexander was so upset, he couldn’t work or do anything. It’s the first time we see this kind of sadness from Hamilton. It also shows Alexander and Eliza falling back in love and making up after all the heartbreak they’ve faced.

The show closes with Hamilton’s death. Hamilton dies in a duel against Aaron Burr, his first friend. As the bullet come towards Hamilton, time seems to stop. Hamilton gives a long monologue eventually coming to terms with his impending death. We don’t see Hamilton’s actual death, but we do hear from Aaron Burr about the moments that followed. The last number is a heartbreaking song called “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.” This number remarks that most of our Founding Fathers have a legacy, but Hamilton never really did. It also really humbles you and makes you realize time flies by so quickly and we all aren’t guaranteed another day.

I’ve seen a lot of theater. I’m a theater kid myself and I can say with absolute confidence, this is the best thing I have ever seen. If you can score tickets, go see it. Make sure you listen to the soundtrack because it is absolutely amazing. You won’t regret it.  

 

Tea Time with Tim: Ariana Grande & Pete Davidson Split

By Tim Sullivan

In a new segment for the HHS Indian, I’ll “spill the tea” on current pop culture news and drama.

Yes, after just four months of engagement, Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson have reportedly called it all off. I can’t say I’m surprised that their whirlwind relationship has reached its end. In both celebrities’ defense, this could have been caused by recent, unforeseen events; but, was it ever meant to be?

Grande, the talented singer, and Davidson, a Saturday Night Live performer, first met on the set of SNL when Grande hosted the show a few years ago. The singer claimed she had a huge crush on him even then, and that she was going to marry him one day. Her dream almost became a reality after a (very quick) engagement led to a jam-packed summer of romance and PDA. Unfortunately, the courtship was followed by a breakup, not a wedding.

Image from ET. Grande and Davidson first meet on the set of SNL.

Davidson proposed to Grande in June with a $100,000 ring after just a few weeks of dating. The two moved in together into Ariana’s $16 million apartment in New York, according to E!News. They were constantly getting iced coffee together (pictured below), and always out in public just having a good time. Before long, they had a pet pig named PiggySmallz, whose Instagram account quickly grew to almost half a million followers. (yes, a pig’s account) They talked about their relationship on several late night shows and in radio interviews. In one, Pete proclaimed that he was “the luckiest guy in the world” when Ariana said yes to him.

A Pinterest Photograph

Throughout the short-lived relationship, the celebrities faced doubtful “haters” on Twitter and other social media sites who claimed their relationship wouldn’t last. Some even called it a publicity stunt. Whether the doubters were right all along, or if the love was indeed true until recent events, is up for debate.

No one can deny that Grande has had a very hard past year and a half. On May 22, 2017, a terrorist attack occurred at one of her Dangerous Woman Tour concerts in Manchester, England. This senseless attack took the lives of 23 people including the bomber. After Grande held a very successful benefit concert, she continued her tour and followed it up with some much needed time off from social media and the public spotlight. She needed time to heal. Grande met another tough month this past May when she and rapper Mac Miller ended things after two years of dating. The breakup was reportedly caused in part by Mac’s issues with addiction. Not long after their breakup, Grande found love with Davidson and it looked like she was finally catching a break. At the same time, though, Miller began spiraling out of control, crashed his car and received a DUI. When  Miller passed away in early September, Grande went into a panic. She was attacked on social media by thousands of awful comments that blamed her for Miller’s death. As a result, she disabled the comment function on all her Instagram photographs.

Could this be the cause of Grande and Davidson’s breakup? Was it all just too much at once for it to work out? I think so. I believe that Ariana and Pete were madly in love at the beginning of their relationship and did intend to marry each other. I think they moved way faster than normal but it was because they had found love at first sight. After Miller’s death, I think Grande was reminded of her haunting past and needed more time to heal and focus on herself. She can’t spontaneously plan her future with this guy when she hasn’t repaired the damage that has been done to her mental health in the past year and a half. On top of that, she recently released her fourth studio album and has enough on her plate with just that.

In the end, I think this whole whirlwind love story with Grande and Davidson was quite out of the ordinary. Although I was rooting for them to stay together, I think they made the right decision. They realized they weren’t ready and didn’t want to rush into their futures, and I respect them for making this decision knowing there would be thousands of “I called it” and “I told you so” comments from doubters. I fully support Ariana in her healing journey and hope she is able to spend the time that she needs on herself after quite a rollercoaster of a year and a half.

 

Game is Tough, but Offers Countless Replay Options

By Matthew O’Hara

Divinity Original Sin II Definitive Edition is a turn-based, role-playing video game that serves as a modern spin on classic role-playing board games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Divinity II includes a variety of new maps, levels, and dialogue along with a new and improved physics engine, setting it apart and improving upon its original 2017 release for PC. Divinity II is available for the Xbox One and Playstation 4, making it more accessible for people interested in playing the game.

One of the main aspects of Divinity II is the amount of replayability and customization you can inject into your quest. You can choose your character’s appearance, class, abilities, and social background at the beginning of the quest, and can also do the same for your party members. If you do not enjoy or do not wish to use the customization options, you can choose from pre-set characters. Your actions influence the story, as the game gives you a variety of different dialogue options and decisions that change the game as you play. The story that involves the pre-set characters is about the Red Prince, a Lizardfolk fighter who was placed under arrest for studying dark magic known as sorcery. When he is thrown into captivity, he meets and forms alliances with a variety of unlikely allies that help him escape his imprisonment and accomplish his true destiny. These allies include Lohse, the cursed enchanter; Ifan Ben-Mezd, the sharpshooting wayfarer; Fane, the skeletal wizard; Beast, the destructive battlemage, and Sebille, the cunning rogue. Each of these characters has a unique personality and story that can be fleshed out in detail when completing side quests that are tailored to them. Along the way, you and your party will meet a variety of friends, foes, and monsters, each with their own unique battles and side quests for you to take part in. Each quest will yield a variety of different rewards and equipment to strengthen and level up your party so that you can progress in the main story and take on harder side quests.

While Divinity II is a very enjoyable and interesting game, it’s extremely difficult. Many of the enemies that you encounter will have more powerful skills and abilities, making you rely on strategy to survive. Divinity II also contains a variety of complicated puzzles and traps that your party must maneuver through, many of which will spell death for your characters with one wrong move. The level of difficulty is increased with the possible permanent death of your characters, forcing you to find and level up a new party member. Fortunately, Divinity II does allow you to revive your fallen characters with resurrection scrolls, but such items are rare and hard to come by. This brutal difficulty curve can be quite frustrating at times, as a simple mistake can lead to devastating consequences in the game, forcing you to reload and try again.

Overall, Divinity Original Sin II Definitive Edition is a fantastic strategy RPG, with an interesting story, diverse cast of characters, and a gigantic number of side quests that keep the game fresh and entertaining. While the game is enjoyable to play, it does cater to a specific kind of gamer, one who enjoys a challenge and strategic combat. Players who don’t fit this category will most likely become frustrated with its combat difficulty and perplexing puzzles. With these factors in mind, I give Divinity Original Sin II Definitive Edition 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Instagram Favorites: Profiles to Follow

1) @foodyfetish

Foody Fetish is a great profile to follow for all the die-hard foodies out there. With 3.1 million followers and counting, they feature videos of cutting into food, making food, and the classic most Instagrammable photos of food perfection. It’s a well-rounded feed, including all aspects of the foody world, rather than some profiles that only post videos of food being made or about certain restaurants. Foody Fetish makes your mouth water with and is definitely worth checking out. If you are into the restaurant and recipe scene, try @thisisinsiderfood for great informational videos.

 

2) @danceranddogs

@danceranddogs is an adorable profile that includes beautiful photos of  man’s – and woman’s – best friend. For dancers and dog lovers alike, this profile is for you. The photos range from gorgeous to sillly to downright adorable and feature some of the country’s most beautiful dancers and the most adorable puppies. Your heart will melt!

 

 

3) @amypoehlersmartgirls

@amypoehlersmartgirls is an inspiring feed. Amy Poehler is known for her work mostly in comedy. She’s famous for her roles as Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation, Regina’s mom (“I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom”) in Mean Girls, her appearances on Saturday Night Live and her duos with fellow comedian Tina Fey. This site releases videos of awesome girls doing awesome things for their communities. One of my favorites is Julia, a 13-year-old who invented a gel that can fill a the hole left behind when a painful tooth is pulled. Even boys could learn from this page. Sometimes, because we are so young, it is easy for us to feel as though we don’t have a voice, but we do. This profile proves that teens and kids can make a difference and social media is a great platform for doing good.

 

4) @hi.ur.beautiful

@hi.ur.beautiful is a great account for diversity and body positivity. When writing this article, I wanted to stay away from feeds full of models with impossibly perfect bodies, because that’s part of the reason that social media can be such a negative place. We look at a photo and we compare ourselves to it, which isn’t right. Many images are touched up, and those that aren’t often feature people who spend every day getting in shape and looking beautiful. But are they as happy as they could be? Probably not. This page is great if you’re ever feeling bad about your body.

 

5) @old_disney755

If you ever find yourself reminiscing about your Disney Channel days, this account is for you. They post videos and scenes from the golden age of the Disney Channel and it really makes you miss the days when you were a little kid. Who remembers watching Wizards of Waverly Place,That’s So Raven and Hannah Montana? I miss those shows so much. Do you?

 

6) @marvel

I saved the best for last. Marvel studios is downright awesome. Whether you’re into the comics, the movies or both, just do yourself a favor and follow this account. In the Marvel universe, one of my favorite characters is the Scarlet Witch, an opinion that may be unpopular with other fans. I also love the Guardians of the Galaxy movies; both had amazing soundtracks. If you have no idea what I’m saying, hit the follow button and reserve a weekend for a Marvel movie marathon. Scratch that, you better reserve a whole week!

 

A Book Like No Other Explores Lincoln’s Personal Tragedy

It’s not often that I’m surprised by a book, but Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Part historical fiction, part supernatural fantasy, Bardo breaks free from the traditional format of a novel to tell the story of how Lincoln is haunted – and changed – by the death of his young son during the Civil War.

The author takes two very different tacts in alternating chapters. About half of the novel takes place in the cemetery where Lincoln’s 11-year-old son, Willie, is buried. The cemetery is populated by the spirits of dozens of colorful characters who have not yet passed on to Heaven or Hell. While these spirits tell their stories, they’re encouraging Willie to move on, but Willie lingers, confused, hoping his father will return to bring him home. This part of the novel is pure imagination, whimsical in the quirks that each character is given and the rules  followed by the society within the cemetery gates. These chapters reminded me of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, about an orphan raised by ghosts when his parents are killed.

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The rest of the novel is historical fiction, but instead of researching and imagining the people and events, the author uses only excerpts from primary sources. The author quotes the letters of White House maids and politicians as well as news accounts and books of the time. These excerpts, each followed by a short citation, tell the story in the real words of the people who lived. Writing like this is harder than just doing research and summarizing; this requires poring through countless documents, picking out just the right pieces and putting them together in a way that makes sense. I was awed by the task the author undertook as well as the story that was told. For the first chapter or two, I was a little confused by who was speaking. But soon I was drawn into the story and comfortable with the unique structure.

If you like history, especially Lincoln and the Civil War, this novel will fascinate you as it shows how a personal tragedy became a turning point for Lincoln’s policies. If you like fantasy that explores what happens after death, this book offers a lot for you as well.

Featured Photo: Robert Wuensche Illustration / Houston Chronicle