Cici’s Pizza Embodies “You Get What You Pay For” (April 2011)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
April 11, 2011
Barnes, AJRL 475
Assignment: Restaurant review

You’ve probably seen the commercial for “the endless pizza, pasta, salad and dessert buffet,” Cici’s Pizza. They have eager looking diners and an endorsement voiceover from a knock-off Don LaFontaine.

The simple food doesn’t exactly leap off the TV screen, but there is something about the concept of mac ’n cheese pizza that would give any poor, hungry, possibly inebriated college student cause for consideration. The prospect of an all you can eat buffet that won’t give you the runs like the dining hall is in itself worth the $5 tab. For apartment students like myself, spending $5 is a reasonable trade off from having to do dishes on any given night.

My dining companions, Amy and Sean ¾ students whose wallets are as empty as their bellies at this point in the semester ¾ were cautiously optimistic about our venture over to the Wolf Road Shoppers Park, where a Cici’s restaurant opened last July.

We discussed the possibility of executing a Cici’s experience, to which friends shrieked with joy that “They do exist!” as the Texas-based franchise is known for advertising in cities they don’t necessarily occupy.

As I write this, I am struck by the fact that hours later I am more impressed by the staff and overall facility of Cici’s than with anything I ate. The Colonie pizza cafeteria, “pizzateria” if you will, was incredibly clean ¾ save for some soda drippings down one aisle from an overzealous, corpulent seven year old ¾ and the every staffer we encountered was polite and friendly.

There are about eight four-by-five foot, black and white photos of smiling children hung around the restaurant ¾ doing little to break up the merry haze created by yellow walls, yellow plates and yellow “Wet Floor” markers.

Upon sitting at one of the 36 tables in Cici’s we mused of the small slices’ striking similarity, in look and taste, to the pizza served in the Chartwells operated on-campus dining halls. The staple of any pizza place has to be the classic cheese pie. Cici’s looks good, has appropriate parts cheese to sauce. The crust is thin, not overly crispy, not entirely memorable. The sauce is flat, it has no discernable herbs or fresh flavors ¾ it was kind of ketchupy.

Make no mistake, Cici’s does not purport to serve pies authentic to anywhere within a thousand miles of Italia. Their mission, since the first buffet opened in 1985, has been to “exceed each guest’s expectation in food, service and cleanliness at an affordable price.”

Well, if a $4.99 and $1.69 bottomless fountain drink sound like budget-busters, it should be noted that Cici’s offers a $1-off Student Discount, and you might just be lucky enough to have someone in line near you offer up a “Buy One Get One Adult Dining” coupon.

My total bill for three people, plus “add a drink” and tax, was $8.62.

The buffet curves around from the register; salad bar, soup and pasta, then pizza and dessert. No surprises.
Salad is salad. Cici’s is no different. Little cubicles of toppings ¾ baby carrots, croutons, huge slices of onion, magenta bacon bits ¾ sit next to the basin of iceberg and red cabbage shards. The ranch dressing had hints of dill, which was an odd but not off-putting experience.

The soup, chicken noodle, is unimpressive. A can of Progresso would be more satisfying. There is a full bodied broth, which alone misleads as to the effect of the dish. Oversized cavatappi pasta (that corkscrew lookin’ noodle), shreds of carrot, diced red pepper, and celery overshadow the “chicken” part of this soup ¾ the poultry product, is found sparingly throughout my bowl, is in pieces smaller than the eraser on the end of the pencil I wrote with.

The “endless pasta” described in ads is in fact finite. One kind (second use of cavatappi), one square serving dish, one topping ¾ the same disappointing, flat sauce they use on the pizzas. Sean, always hungry and seldom picky, says that the frozen Banquet spaghetti he ate for lunch was more satisfying.

There were between 12 and 15 kinds of pizza laid out to choose from, with bakers constantly refreshing and swapping trays. Several whites (spinach alfredo, bruschetta and a garlic-sauced disappointment), various veggies, meats (chicken, ham, pepperoni and something that might have been steak) ¾ Cici’s definitely needs to label their serving station, as the guessing game really held up the line.

Cici’s was packed. Whole families filled tables and booths, kids free to roam between the buffet and arcade at the back, which housed a quarter claw machine and two car racing games. Cici’s is the kind of place, located between Afrim’s Sports and Colonie Mall, where you can stop on your way home from a busy day of errands, soccer game or shuttling the kids to a birthday party.

The dessert options are less diverse than the main dish choices. Miniature cinnamon buns, undercooked and over iced, sat next to “apple pie,” a streuselly concoction with apple nibblets and cinnamon goo. It must be noted that Amy had more to say about the dessert pizza, obviously enjoying it better than the dinner pizza. The only other treat at the end of the counter were confectionary sugar-dusted brownies. The pastry looked to be freshly-baked, darker on the edges and glimmering under the incandescent bulbs of the display cover. Unfortunately, they tasted little cocoa-dusted matchboxes.

On the way to the car we decided that only the low, low price of Cici’s would lure us back. We would also opt to take advantage of the “waiter service” and order an entire pie instead of sampling from the buffet. That would limit the odds of Sean conceiving another food baby, as his five trips back into the dining line resulted in hours-long abdomen distention and indigestion.

Small Town Musical A Big Hit (April 2011)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
April 4, 2011
S. Barnes, AJRL 475
Assignment: Live performance

7:06 pm.   Flitting flutes and swooping clarinets crafted a sprightly introduction to Chateaugay Central School’s spring musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Friday night. The first notes of the show starkly contrasted the cruel opening scene, in which the paltry prince shuns a powerful enchantress disguised as a haggard beggar.

7:10 pm.   Flecks of flame fell from above the painted set, signaling the prince’s change from man to beast. As high school musicals go, pyrotechnics are some sophisticated stuff!

Eleventh-grader Morgan Simonsen certainly looks the part for her role as Belle, committing so far as to cut and dye her long blonde hair to a shoulder-length, muted brown. She is new to CCS this year and will certainly be an asset to their future productions, as she has more than a half dozen characters on her theatrical resume.

Simonsen’s first song, “Belle,” has significant support from the chorus of townspeople. She seemed to struggle, retreating to a sing-talk rather than attempt some of the higher or longer notes you’d expect. Simonsen is no Susan Egan, the Tony-winning actress who originated the role on Broadway, but she is miles better than the plethora of Rebecca Black’s found on YouTube.

Brian Ashline, a senior, and Joshua Trombley, an eighth-grader, are a wonderful pair as Gaston and Lefou. The singing voice of an actor is as important to presenting a convincing character as the costume styling, and Ashline didn’t disappoint. I was expecting Peter Brady, and James Earl Jones came out. His voice is deep and full, with good natural tone. His hyper-masculine goon of a character is rounded out by a charming little lisp and excellent comedic timing.

Trombley, who supported last year’s The Sound of Music production from the orchestra, absolutely beams in his duets with Ashline. The young man fully committed to the physical comedy required for this role and does his best to match the vocals of his fellow castmates ¾ though his age makes him more of a sniveling sidekick than the sleazy co-conspirator known from the 1991 animated film.

Pubescent boys aren’t always the most rhythmic or coordinated, but during “Gaston” in the local tavern the male ensemble pulls off a stunning kickline-esq routine, weaving their arms and drinking cups. The euphonium, a tenor cousin of the tuba, swags in and plops about like the ballet hippos of Fantasia, while clarinets punch sharply between clinks from the metal mugs on stage.

Arguably the most known song in Beauty and the Beast is “Be Our Guest.” The CCS version of the sequence was well choreographed and executed by the supporting cast of Lumiere (Isaac Kinney, a freshman) and Mrs. Potts (Kayla Trainer, a junior). Kinney did a wonderful French accent as the mischievous candelabra, but efforts to carry it through his singing make it obviously unnatural and held him back overall. Trainer opened up her voice nicely, and controlled her breathing better than anyone else in the play, not huffing or puffing into her mic during or after a lyric.

The band, who work as hard or harder than the actors, sounded over rehearsed and labored on this iconic number. The pianist, CCS student Katelyn Legacy, gets lost in the festivity, trailing the rest of the musicians at times.

When the Beast’s solo “If I Can’t Love Her” came at the end of Act I, senior Alex Lamica shed his hunched traipse and guttural shout, replacing the brutish presence with one of vulnerability and angst.

Lamica’s voice is beautiful, there is no other way to put it. He has brought audiences to tears in past vocal performances with Half Past Seven, a select choral group. Even with layers of spirit gum and facial prosthetics Lamica shines; you can see him concentrate on the approaching notes and annunciating his words.

8:22 pm.   Intermission begins and the absurdly close Franklin County residents mull about the 400-seat auditorium. Parents congratulated each other, the stage crew spilled from backstage to gossip with friends about missed cues and forgotten props, and children begged for money to buy a cookie or souvenir.

8:45 pm.   The house lights blink and the band starts up again. Violinist Amber Nezezon seems to be in charge, instead of conductor Gayle Peryea. The cymbals, flutes and sax follow behind the soothing sway and dip of strings.

The turning point of Beauty and the Beast is when Belle is released from the castle to find her sick father, only to be confronted in the woods by hungry wolves. The Beast comes to save her, a fairly suspenseful struggle as children’s stories go. The musical accompaniment here is breezy, as if unconcerned with whether the Beast is going to defeat the five attacking hounds.

Simonsen earned all the clamor there was over her at intermission during “A Change In Me.” Reflective and fluid, this girl is make-it-to-Hollywood-week-on-“American Idol” good.

The climactic “Mob Song” gave me chills ¾ and it had to be the singing, not a draft, because the packed house was a muggy 80 degrees by the time the curtain fell. This group number had intricate, synchronous choreography and a purposeful, percussion-heavy accompaniment. The struggle to “kill the Beast, kill the Beast” broke as Gaston was thrust offstage, and the da-da-daa-dadumm notes of the “Beauty and the Beast” theme crept in as the spell was reversed, transforming beast back to man.

9:35 pm.   Following a 35-person finale number and cast bows, the 14-piece pit band ¾ a violin, three flutes, two clarinets, a soprano sax, euphonium, trumpet, two French horns, piano, bass, and two percussionists ¾ played until the last members of their audience left the auditorium.

Part of CCS Beauty & the Beast cast take their bows

UAlbany Students Earn Their Bad Reputation (March 2011)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
March 21, 2011
Barnes, AJRL 475
Assignment: Fresh Angle on Kegs & Eggs
__________________________, popular online dictionary for contemporary slang, lists the definition of “Kegs and Eggs” as a holiday unique to Albany, that may be celebrated one of two ways. The first is to drink all night at various parties until sunrise, at which time you move to a bar and “continue partying, drinking and bathing in beer until around noon.” The alternative would be to set your alarm clock for 6am, rush downtown, stand in a line outside Chubby’s, Michael’s, or Bogey’s that is 100 people long, pay a $15 cover and fight over some 80 pitchers of draft.

Well this year the fine scholars of UAlbany hashed out a third way to celebrate this inane tradition: Getting so drunk in your frat’s backyard that you and your 200 new friends throw major appliances out of houses, tip over vehicles, and generally maim a once quiet, residential neighborhood.

Videos shot by the revelers themselves have attracted thousands of views on Youtube, thanks in part to their presence on local and national news outlets.

Clearly visible on several online clips are strapping young men in bold t-shirts proclaiming their Greek affiliations. “Wearing their letters” may very well land them amongst the 40-some-odd students who have been arrested in relation to the destruction.

Several rumors have inevitably sprung up, many of which center on the campus Greeks.

“Yeah, no one’s gonna talk to you, especially if they’re in the frat,” says Meaghan Mulligan, 21, a ResLife staffer on State Quad.

Things are alleged to have been tense for members of UAlbany’s Greek life prior to the Kegs and Eggs melee, as one of the more vicious rumors circulating claims that this season’s rush cost one hopeful pledge his life.

Mulligan confirms that the ResLife staff were informed of a student death about two weeks ago, a student that was pledging, what Mulligan referred to as “the big business fraternity.”

She did not indicate that any name or class standing was given about the deceased, but implied that it was a result of a hazing ritual gone wrong “and probably alcohol poisoning.”

University spokesman Karl Luntta did not return requests for comment on this situation and others that stemmed from the Kegs and Eggs mayhem.

If this rumor is true, it would be particularly audacious for any student group to have held a wild party and acted out so defiantly in the face of such a tragic incident.

This scenario, coupled with the group destruction of Pine Hills ten days ago, begs the question; Does UAlbany have any control over it’s students?

The administration would like to think so, as they recently flexed their muscles over the Kegs and Eggs humiliation by cancelling the beloved, 30 year old spring celebration “Fountain Day.”

Punishing thousands for the misbehavior of dozens ¾ what a way to win the compliance of your student body.

The Greek community at UAlbany is substantial, there are 26 authorized fraternities and sororities on campus. But contrary to the image of an all-powerful body displayed by films like Animal House (1978), Revenge of the Nerds (1984), and Old School (2003); the SUNY Albany Greeks are in no way a definitive presence in the social scene. They are, however, at the center of this chaotic ‘who done it.’

“No recognized organization participated in negative activities on Kegs and Eggs,” claims Christina Crosley, the Interim Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Coordinator at UAlbany.

A finely worded response, given that there are “S C E ,” “T K F ”and “T K E ” emblazoned on the chests of many roisterers. Crosley absolved her office, and the University by extension, of any necessary action against the Greeks because whoever was there frolicking amongst the annihilation must have been from one of the derecognized branches.

She voiced with particular pride that the Tau Kappa Epsilon’s and Alpha Chi Rho’s came out for the community cleanup on Friday.

The Albany Student Press has covered the issue of “illegal fraternities” at the school on three occasions in the last four years.

If the operation of “underground” groups is a big problem, why has more not been done about their activity?

One Youtube video in particular, titled “UAlbany kegs and eggs 2011 madness,” is described as “frat fighting and TV smashing.” It currently has over 1, 200 views. (Update: As of November 2011 the video has more than 4,200 hits)

It is discernable that one of the organizations involved in the fight are S C E , Sigma Chi Epsilon ¾ one of almost a dozen fraternities and sororities that have been stripped of their privileges at the University in the last five years.

The other half of the scuffle are recognizable by the clip-art-like graphic of someone vomiting into a toilet. Consultation of other videos reveals these lads to be with Tau Kappa Phi, T K F ¾ another group not recognized by the administration.

Crosley stated that once an organization fails to meet University criteria for operation, “it means they’re shut down.”

The university reports the chapter to their national offices, who can potentially rescind their charter.

Beyond that, little is done to ensure that the group has in fact disbanded ¾ the renegade-ness of it all makes these groups all the more appealing, hence their continued recruitment.

Whether any student present for the riot thought what they were doing was okay is irrelevant, because about 80 percent of the people shown in the Youtube videos are holding cameras and smart phones ¾ making their behavior impossible to get away with.

What they thought was merely documenting the day for their own memories, was in fact creating photographic evidence of the crimes for the city prosecutors.

There is no apparent accountability among the rioters, Mulligan notes. “People are saying ‘Well if they hadn’t kicked us out of the bars, we wouldn’t have been in the street.’ Like that excuses it,” she shrugged facetiously.

PostSecret Founder Finally Comes to Albany (February 2011)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
February 14, 2011
Barnes, AJRL 475
Assignment: Original Reporting

“Hi, my name is Frank, and I collect secrets.”   The audience went nuts.

Frank Warren at UAlbany; Feb. 8, 2011

Frank is Frank Warren, and he has been called “The Most Trusted Stranger in America,” because a community art project he started in 2004 has lead him to possess over a half million secrets mailed in by strangers.

What began with 300 blank index cards distributed throughout the Washington, D.C. area Warren lives in, has become an empire of personally decorated, carefully worded postcards sent from across the country, and the world.

Warren, who is the founder and proprietor of the hugely popular “PostSecret” website, served as keynote speaker for UAlbany’s 20th Annual Sexuality Week. Tuesday night’s event attracted so much interest that an additional show had to be added. Students poured in from neighboring St. Rose, Hudson Valley Community, RPI and Sage College.

A Facebook page for the event had 639 people listed as “Attending–” a hard feat with only 150 seats available in the Main Theater of our Performing Arts Center.

Tickets were free with a student ID, and $15 for the public. The speaking engagement was hosted in conjunction with a three week-long showcase of the postcards Warren has collected through PostSecret. The exhibit, which closed on Friday, was made up of images that can be found in Warren’s most recent book release “PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God.”

Warren took the stage after a clip of the All-American Rejects’ music video for “Dirty Little Secret” played. Warren was approached by the band in 2005 to sell the rights to some of the postcards for one thousand dollars, Warren countered the offer by asking AAR to make a two thousand dollar donation to the Hopeline (1-800-SUICIDE) where Warren was a volunteer. The video was one of the most requested on MTV that summer.

Warren revealed a few secrets of his own on Tuesday night — speaking about the lasting effects of his troubled childhood, bouts of homelessness, and seeing his best friend fall to his death while in college. Warren admitted that his relationship with his parents is tense — as PostSecret grew Warren’s father called the work “voyeuristic” and his mother deemed it “diabolical.”

“This project has taught me to have patience with myself and patience with the world,” he said.

Warren has consistently said, “There are secrets we keep from others and secrets we keep from ourselves.”

Looking back, Frank Warren feels as though PostSecret came about because he too had secrets to reconcile, and parts of his life he had to face.

A few of the brave souls who approached the microphones after Warren’s presentation seemed to surprise even themselves with the candor of their words. Some choked up, one cried into his hands, and another offered an overdue apology.

Following the speech and audience interaction, Frank Warren was available for a book signing. All five of his “Post Secret” titles were for sale, prices ranging from 26 to 35 dollars.

The line to meet Warren curved and turned like the entrance to a rollercoaster. Eager twenty-somethings moved by his work smiled anxiously as they moved closer and closer to his table.

What is it that is so attractive about the premise of spilling your guts to a stranger?

Warren says that it’s all about common humanity. The two secrets he sees most often are “I pee in the shower” and “I’m looking for someone to tell my secrets too.”

Warren says that this project would never have become what it is without free access for viewing and sharing made possible by the internet and social media.

There is a universality that we often forget, trudging through our daily lives, that makes things a little easier to bear. Being able to see the newly scanned secrets every Sunday on allows for a little reminder that you are not alone in feeling what you’re feeling.

The PostSecret community is a system of friends that never meet, but are forever bonded over their audacious insecurity.

Two years ago a secret that read “I have lived in San Francisco since I was young… I am illegal… I am not wanted here. I don’t belong anywhere. This summer I plan to jump off the Golden Gate bridge” resonated with so many visitors of the PostSecret site, that 20,000 people joined a Facebook group in hopes the sender would change their mind. It was because of that group that the city of San Francisco has officially declared September 22 “Please Don’t Jump Day.”

Maybe Frank’s dad was right, there is a hint of voyeurism at the heart of PostSecret. But maybe if we all just acknowledged the morbid fascination, the contrite curiosity that we have for each other’s secrets and lies — there would be fewer divorces, fewer wars, fewer suicides.

PostSecret promotes understanding of your fellow man.

It’s like Frank Warren says, “Everyone has a secret that could break your heart.”

Death of Fellow ‘Dane’ Evokes Anger, Questions (February 2011)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
February 7, 2011
Barnes, AJRL 475
Assignment: Controversy

Last Thursday De Von Callicutt was sentenced to life without parole for the October 2008 murder of UAlbany senior Richard “Rick” Bailey.

But was justice really served for Rick?

Bailey’s parents, James and Lisa, have been hopeful but tenacious throughout the investigation and trial processes. In two and a half years they have not let anyone forget their loss, their mission, or their beloved son.

Lisa Bailey told reporters, including Rob Gavin of the Times Union, “Life in prison is not enough for me. I don’t think any sentence would ever have been enough. He’s breathing and my son is not…”

James Bailey addressed the court and Acting Supreme Court Justice Dan Lamont through a prepared victim impact statement. He asked that Callicutt, 20, be penalized “as harshly and severely as possible.”

But Justice Lamont cannot punish Callicutt in a way that many would deem perfectly appropriate. New York, along with 14 other states, does not have a statute for capital offenses.
Instead of losing his life in a much more humane way than how he killed Richard Bailey, De Von Callicutt will sit in jail for the rest of his natural life.

New York has a sordid history with the death penalty, with controversy first arising in 1860 when a moratorium was established. Legislators were trying to determine a method of execution more humane than hanging. Since then the practice has been instated and repealed half a dozen times.

In 1995, Governor George Pataki upheld his campaign promise to sign death penalty legislation into law.

The New York Times described the decades long problem in a 1995 article, “Death Penalty in New York Reinstated After 18 Years; Pataki Sees Justice Served.”
“The state’s highest court declared New York’s last death penalty law unconstitutional in 1977. Every year since, the Legislature has approved death penalty bills, only to have them vetoed by Democratic governors,” wrote James Dao.

After the highly publicized signing, Dao spoke with Devorah Halberstam, a Paktaki supporter whose 16-year-old son Aaron was killed on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994.  “[Number] 1, there has to be justice, and we talk about deterrence after,” she told Dao.

Families and friends of crime victims across the country, across the world, feel that the adage “an eye for an eye” is adequate, albeit cliché. Executing the person who committed an offense on their loved one of course cannot bring the person back or make the loss hurt any less, but they would sleep better knowing the offender cannot hurt someone else this way ever again.

Many argue that capital punishment only perpetuates the violence so rampant in our culture, to which I must ask: How? We’re getting rid of the rapists, murderers, and drug-addled thieves who are committing crimes.

Currently, prison overcrowding contributes to repeat offenses. People who should be locked up, get out. They steal, rape, or assault again. Why do they get out? Because there are spaces being taken up by people who committed even more horrific acts and were told to sit in, what is basically ‘time-out,’ for the rest of their lives.

When I was a freshman in college, a friendly conversation with my roommate quickly turned when she boldly stated “Its wrong, we shouldn’t do it,” but had no real reasons or facts for her feelings.
So I asked her, “If your sister was raped and murdered, would you want the guy who did it to be alive, sitting in jail, with your parent’s tax dollars feeding and clothing him?”
She sort of burst in to tears and never answered me, but I think I made a valid point. Just about everything in life comes down to money. Who has it, who doesn’t; how you use it, how far it gets you; whether it’s being taken from you, whether it’s being mismanaged by our government.

The National Institute of Corrections calculated that in 2008, New York state spent $55,670 per inmate — 48 percent higher than the national average of $28,771 — despite the fact that New York incarcerates 32 percent fewer people than the national average.

If you Google information about the history of death penalty legislation, or the costs of incarceration versus execution, you will find dozens and dozens of impassioned message boards, with people swearing up and down that it is cheaper to detain for life than euthanize.
They are wrong.

Further financial support for states following through with capital punishment cases, are the statistics on cost of an execution. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the drugs used in a lethal injection cost about $85. The final figures are of course higher, much higher, because of all the manpower and coordination that goes into facilitating an execution.
Still, paying $200,000 (or less) is far more financially agreeable than paying almost $2 million dollars per inmate, if each “lifer” serves 35 years in prison.

Capital punishment has been legal in the United States since 1976, but is one of the laws states can choose whether or not to employ.

This matter should not simply be decided by whatever party has more members in the Assembly that year. I think that regardless of religious motivation or political affiliation, people are entitled to decide more specifically where our money is going. I think if more people knew these figures, more people would be in favor of the Death Penalty. Residents should be allowed to vote on the existence of capital punishment in their state — because clearly elected officials do not always carry out the will of the people.

This all sounds a little callous now that I read it back — so practical, even passionless — but the only sure things in life are death and taxes.
And I want my taxes paying for the death of people like De Von Callicutt.

Oscar Winner Gibney Visits UAlbany (May 2009)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
May 6, 2009
Barnes, AJRL 475
Extra Credit: Alex Gibney Seminar


The New York State Writer’s Institute hosted Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney in the UAlbany Science Library on Friday, April 24.
Don Faulkner, Director of the Institute, introduced Gibney to the crowd of about 30 people. Gibney’s credits include “Taxi to the Darkside,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” and “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.”

Amidst talk of his films, three of which were screened at the University’s Page Hall prior to his speaking engagement, Gibney fielded questions from the audience. Inquiries ranged from “What’s next?” to “How’s your lawsuit coming?” and “How do you feel about Michael Moore?”

Gibney was most playful when answering one woman’s question about how he felt regarding Conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity’s offer to be waterboarded for charity. It was obvious by the conversation that followed which political ideology Gibney is aligned with.
Gibney said he finds it appalling that people continue to joke about it because “waterboarding is drowning. And drowning is not a pleasant experience,” but he would “be happy to go and administer it to him.”
“MSNBC versus Fox News… That’s a network rivalry we’re all going to enjoy in the future,” he added with a laugh.

This segment re-opened the talk of his Oscar winning documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side.” Popular entertainment search-engine IMDB describes the film as “an in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.” “Taxi to the Dark Side” is comprised of archive footage, soldier’s personal videos and interviews, in which many speakers “lament the loss of American ideals in pursuit of security.”
When A.O. Scott of the New York Times reviewed the film, he commented that “Plenty of moviegoers would happily pay not to think about the issues raised… But sooner or later we will need to understand what has happened in this country in the last seven years, and this documentary will be essential to that effort.”

Gibney acknowledged that in today’s market, even documentaries need to be entertaining.
He said, “What’s the point of making a film that’s not entertaining?” and that he aimed to show viewers an “intimate connection with consequences of corruption” in his most recent work. He related this to the question about Michael Moore, mastermind of such films as “Bowling for Columbine” and “Sicko;” stating that Moore “opened doors for documentary filmmakers” because of his own commercial success.

All-American Rejects Hit The Road (April 2009)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
April 21, 2009
Barnes, AJRL 475
Assignment #3: Album Review

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Oklahoma rock band The All-American Rejects, abbreviated “AAR,” kicked off the East Coast leg of their “I Wanna Rock” tour, with stops across New England and Canada in support of their December release “When the World Comes Down,” last week.

Album Cover

“When the World Comes Down” has been on the Billboard 200 chart since it’s December 16th release, peaking at number 15 in late January. With 12 tracks “When the World Comes Down” has just over 45 minutes of music. The four-man group has received attention and success since 2001, when their full-length debut “The All-American Rejects” sold over a million copies.

“I Wanna” is a playful opener on the junior effort. It is repetitive without being annoying, which is seldom found in pop ditties. “I Wanna” begins with a sort of spoken-word, as we heard previously on 2001’s single “Swing Swing.”
It is a more obviously provocative song, which is right on pace for this place in their career. “I Wanna” shows lyrically that they know where they came from, but also where they’re going.

“Damn Girl” seems like your typical retelling of a love triangle at first listen. But a pointed chorus with lyrics like “You stole my heart and then you kicked it aside / No girl, you can’t see / When he’s inside you, know there’s no room for me,” quickly reminds why AAR stand out on the fickle pop-punk scene.

“Gives You Hell” served as the first single and easily bridges the gap between “When the World Comes Down” and the 2006 release “Move Along.” AAR has gently brought audiences along, using catchy, radio-friendly anthems to draw us in, so that we will buy the disc and discover the ballads ¾ which become deeper and more mature on each album.
“Gives You Hell” is a power-pop tale of vengeance and a little spite. It has a similar vibe to such singles as “Move Along” and “Dirty Little Secret,” with emphasis on a simple chord progression and easy rhyming lyrics.

“Breakin’” is the clearest “break-up song” on the album. This is the closest thing to “emo” that AAR has to offer on “When the World Comes Down,” a welcome change from their 2001 self-titled debut ¾ which every brooding high school kid had to have at the time.
The song has a steady drum beat, which gains momentum as the song continues, and hyper guitar. Lyrics like “not a soul sleeps / Another heart skips a beat / It’s every note that you wrote / And I hope that you choke on the lines / You’re wasting my time” help to drive their (perhaps) tearful, angst-y message home.

“Another Heart Calls” is a haunting collaboration with Alabama-based sister act The Pierces.
“Another Heart Calls” has a folk vibe, thanks in part to The Pierces, but could still do very well among AAR’s usual young, Top 40 audience.
Lead singer Tyson Ritter is not overshadowed by the guest singers, which is more than can be said for other such duets as “Congratulations” by Blue October and Imogen Heap, or “Picture” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock.
Indie outfit The Pierces, who have released three studio albums of their own, have had success lately with their singles “Secret” and “Three Wishes” being featured on such primetime television shows as “Gossip Girl” and “Dexter;” and should expect additional exposure as “When the World Comes Down” continues it’s climb.
“Another Heart Calls” reads like a lover’s spat, each says “I’ll never ask for anyone but you,” but that “All I ever do is give, it’s time you saw my point of view” and “Everything that matters breaks in two.”

“Back to Me” is boring, typical, and unnecessary at this point in the career of AAR. They can do better, in fact there is better, before and after, on this very CD.
The deepest lyric in the whole song is “When your eyes light up the skies at night / I know you’re gonna find your way back to me,” which is troubling in itself because this band has produced such stinging one-liners as “Truth be told I miss you, but truth be told I’m lying,” and “All your tears couldn’t match the bitter taste of all these wasted years.”

AAR Frontman Tyson Ritter

“The Wind Blows,” slated to be the second single off “When the World Comes Down,” is a vulnerable discussion of infidelity. Likening his companions loyalty to the shifting of the wind, Ritter mews “You threw our love away / Then you passed it to someone new / You wanna stay / But since you wanna play / We can finally say we’re through.”
“The Wind Blows” is along the same vein as “It Ends Tonight,” off their 2006 record, and will no doubt be as successful, if not more so, than that single.
AAR present an interesting perspective; one that is androgynous and ageless, one that is not as feeble as you may expect from 20-somethings clad in skinny jeans.

Like many artists of the moment, AAR includes a “hidden track” at the end of “When the World Comes Down.” “Sunshine” is just three minutes long, but manages to fit “Forget about the sunshine when it’s gone” in (literally) 10 times.
This track is stirring musically, but could have just been left off. The message not to allow yesterday’s problems to ruin today’s joys ought be employed when looking back over this album. Don’t let the successes of “Damn Girl” and “Another Heart Calls” be dragged down by the missteps of “Sunshine” or “Believe.”

On a scale from zero to five, I would rate “When the World Comes Down” as a three. And a half.
If you were to listen to each of The All-American Reject’s three albums end-to-end, a clear and natural maturity could be traced.

As a fan, I can appreciate that their work has grown up as I have. The same issues are discussed, heartbreak (“Fallin’ Apart”), mild injustice (“Real World”), and lust (“I Wanna”) among them; but they are told from a different, newer perspective.
In many cases, artists become bored or restless with themselves around this phase of their careers, and AAR is no exception. I believe they have consciously made an effort to lay groundwork for more diverse future projects ¾ projects that will continue to be supported by their fans.