Friday, December 18, 2015

A Dialog on Theater

By Danny Niederberger

Matt Cavallo is a senior at Saint Thomas Aquinas College. He is a Communication Arts major and he is involved with the Laetare Players, STAC’s theater group. Last month he directed the fall play. The play Matt chose to direct this semester was 12 Angry Jurors.

12 Angry Men, or 12 Angry Jurors, as it was retitled due to the presence of female actors, is a courthouse drama written by Reginald Rose. It was originally broadcast as a television play in 1954. In 1955 it was adapted for the stage, and a film was made in 1957. The story takes place in the jury room of a courthouse. The jurors must decide the fate of a 19-year-old kid who was accused of stabbing his father by unanimously voting whether or not he is guilty. Eleven jurors voted guilty almost immediately and the last juror is left to convince them all otherwise.

Dr. Evan Matthews, the head of the theatre program at STAC and advisor of Laetare Players, was the producer of 12 Angry Jurors. Sean Feeley was the stage manager and Jared Miller, Laetare’s Secretary, operated lighting and sound for the show.

Danny: So Matt, what are your thoughts about directing as compared to acting as you have done in the past? 

Matt: Well it was challenging, and it was certainly something I wasn’t used to. But I’m glad I did it nonetheless. It was an experience I enjoyed, especially for my last year of college.

Danny: Why did you choose to direct?

Matt: Last semester I played my biggest role so far, Mark Cohen in Rent. So I figured it was something that I wanted to try and I wanted to step back and let others get on the stage.

Danny: What kind of reactions did expect from the audience and how do they compare to reactions he show actually got?

Matt: Well there was one scene in particular I recall. There was a heated up moment between Juror #8 [the main protagonist] and Juror #3 [the main antagonist]. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into detail. Anyway, I expected a huge shock from the audience in this one scene and it turned out exactly as I expected. Outside of that, I haven’t really thought about audience expectation, but the house was bigger than it was for last year’s fall play, so that’s good. 

Danny: Speaking of past fall plays, this leads me to my next question. How was this show in comparison to the fall plays you’ve done in the past? 

Matt: I actually haven’t been involved in the fall plays at STAC until last year so I can only compare to that one. I mean I found the experience much more fun this year than I did last year. We had a much bigger audience too.

Danny: Well, I have seen and/or been involved with plays since my first year here and I can tell you this was definitely the biggest audience we have had for a fall play. With that said, congratulations Matt Cavallo on a job well done. You should be absolutely proud of yourself. And thank you very much.  

Danny Niederberger is a senior studying Communication Arts at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Scott Muscat: Many Memorable Baseball Seasons

STAC Baseball Coach Scott Muscat

By Samantha Soto                                      

In 1989 a young pitcher was the 18th draft pick for the Milwaukee Brewers. After pitching just two short seasons in the minor leagues, a shoulder surgery ended his professional career in baseball. After this rough patch, he decided to avoid the game entirely and went on to be a teacher and even do some ministry work for 3 years. 

Almost like a sign, in 1999, he saw a newspaper article for a college looking for a new head baseball coach. Suddenly he found his love for baseball again and took on the role of St. Thomas Aquinas College’s head coach. The Spartans' dynamic diamond commander for the past 16 years is none other than Scott Muscat. 

When Muscat first arrived in 2000 he was determined to change the whole baseball program, but did not exactly have a plan as to how he was going to do it. He started by requesting scholarship money so that the team could get better players and that the school increase the recruiting program. He was successful and in just one short year, by 2001, the team went from NAIA to NCAA DII. 

In 2002, STAC played for the first time in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference and finished in 5th place. It was in this same year that Muscat’s player Brian Flynn was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. By 2003 STAC’s record was becoming increasingly impressive, as they now placed 2nd in NYCAC tournament and number 1 seeding in the ECAC Tournament. The team continued to rise above and prove that Coach Muscat was truly just the man they needed. 

As the years have passed, Muscat has lead the team to 10 of its 12 conference tournaments, 3 ECC tournament titles, 3 regular season titles, an NCAA East Region Championship and other honors. Muscat has personally received a few awards for his amazing coaching including NYCAC Coach of the Year, ECC Coach of the Year twice, East Region Coach of the Year twice, and ABCA East Region Coach of the Year. 

After having the pleasure of meeting and talking with Coach Muscat, I learned a lot about him, especially when it comes to baseball. During his early years, pitching in college, he kept thinking to himself “If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. It’s not my job to draft, it’s my job to pitch.”

When he thinks back on that time in his life, his only true regret was not pitching more innings in his junior and senior year after his first arm surgery. He even feels if it wasn’t for his injury he could’ve even gone on at least to the double A. 

Muscat even stepped back into the game briefly to play for the Nyack Indians but refused to pitch. He instead played center field and enjoyed every moment, pushing himself to play until he was 41. But now at the age of 48, he has realized he can definitely never play again and takes a lot of pride and joy in coaching. He has learned how important it is to be a mental player and now takes more pressure off himself and lets his boys be the stars. When his players are down, it affects him as well but he gets through it by reminding himself “You can’t give up on your game plan or coaching philosophy” and “Can’t forget how difficult the game is.” 

Now looking back on his life, he’s enjoying just being a coach and stepping back so his players could be the stars. Muscat said the number one thing he hopes his players get out of STAC is “Sometimes you have to put others before yourself; you’re not always going to be the star. The results will eventually come.” 

After further discussing how important it is for his players to maintain a high GPA, his coaching styles, Spartan volunteer work, and even his children and their love for little league, he let me in on what professional teams he would love to coach if given the chance: “Dodgers or Cardinals. Teams with a lot of history, or maybe the Pirates. I’m not sure, but either way that would be an amazing opportunity.” 

Muscat left me with this motto he personally likes to live by: “Preparation leads to the results. The results kind of lead to themselves and they will take care of themselves.”

Samantha Soto is a junior majoring in Communication Arts at St. Thomas Aquinas College.


Pool Cue Massacre

Photos by Brendon Padilla


By Brendon Padilla

There are many recreational activities available for students at Saint Thomas Aquinas College. They can participate in a club sport, practice music in our various artistic clubs, or do something as simple as hang out with friends in the Romano Center. The issue with the Romano Center being an option for recreation is that fewer students are looking forward to going there. Why? If you would look at the condition of the pool cues and tables, you would understand. Someone or a group of someones have been destroying the pool room equipment in the Romano Center.

Tension amongst the students has been stirring for the majority of this semester. Dave Eng, the faculty member in charge of the recreational activities, purchased new pool cues for the tables and within a week, the majority of them were broken in half or broken into shards. Of all the questions that this raises, one thing is certain: STAC is running out of ideas.

One table itself has extensive damage. The felt is tearing off the table, the pockets are falling out of place, the wood is chipping and you can lift the entire side wall off of the table. Dave Eng came up with an alternative and decided to put one of the ping pong tables on top of the damaged pool table. All of the students were under the impression that this was a good idea. Ping pong has even become tremendously popular at the Romano Center. Until recently, when a student decided to rip off the rubber from the ping pong paddles. Some of the ping pong balls and paddles were even ripped in half.

Most of the students were under the impression that the pool tables were considered crossing a line. It turns out that a mysterious someone wanted to take his vandalism to the next level. Someone used a blunt object to make a hole in one of the walls by Dave Eng’s office. Students keep asking: when will the destruction end? What will happen if the objects are replaced? Will the same destructive pattern repeat itself?

Bryan Mannine, one of the freshman students, had an interesting opinion on the matter. I asked Bryan “How many pool cues did Dave Eng. purchase this year?” he responded “I think it was 12 or something along those lines; at least all of them have been broken in some way, whether it be the tips or in half.”  

I asked him “How do you feel about the fact that STAC has replaced the pool sticks so many times only to find them broken the next day?” He stated “I honestly hate the fact that people have no respect for things that aren't theirs, so they think it is okay to break them when it's not.”

“How often would you say that you go to the Romano Center to play pool?”  He stated “I’m almost always at the pool tables. People like me who commute love spending time in the Romano Center because there is no dorm for us to go and stay in while we wait for our classes to start. Pool helps pass the time and I really enjoy the game.”

Akiel Andrew, treasurer of Student Government, also had a strong opinion about the tables. “The pool tables are the first thing you see when you walk into the Romano Center. Their condition conveys to all of the students and the visitors what kind of stature we hold ourselves to.” I then said, “I never took that point of view into consideration. Do you have any advice to give the students who most frequently use the pool tables?” Akiel responded by saying “Take care of the pool sticks and the pool tables. If you’re at home, you would take care of your belongings. STAC is basically like your second home; so treat it as such.”

I asked Akiel if there were any other points that he would like to add to either students or faculty. He responded with this statement. “The Romano Center is one of the main places students can go to have fun; might as well fix it up a little bit.”

Both students and faculty members have been brainstorming for possible solutions that could solve this endeavor. This situation is actually becoming more serious than people are anticipating. For starters, whoever is doing this damage to the school is technically getting away with vandalism. When the culprit goes unpunished, we as a school give the impression that we don’t care.

The main objective is to prevent another pool cue massacre. Just like Akiel stated in the interview, STAC is our home. We grow as individuals here. Years from now, the students who are attending STAC will either be graduated, in grad school, or continuing the rest of their lives. What kind of impression do they leave behind when they choose to ignore what is going on in their own backyard?

Brandon Padilla is a junior studying Communication Arts at St. Thomas Aquinas College.


Meredith Vieira: TV Newswoman on the Go

By Sarah Hogan

Meredith Vieira was born on December 30, 1953 in Providence, Rhode Island. She graduated from Tufts University in 1975 with a degree in English. Vieira immediately began pursuing her dreams of a career in broadcast journalism. She started as a news announcer for a Worcester, Massachusetts radio station, but soon started working as an on-air reporter for WCBS-TV in New York City.

 In her early years she reported on the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit and an award-winning series on child molestation. In January 1982, Vieira became a reporter for CBS News in Chicago. Two years later she was named a correspondent. In 1987 Vieira moved back to New York and began working as a principal correspondent on CBS. In 1989, Vieira won four Emmy Awards for stories she reported on.

For the next two years Vieira would work as a co-editor of CBS's 60 Minutes. During this time, she worked on the award-winning segment "Ward 5A," about the first AIDS ward in San Francisco, and won an Emmy Award for "Thy Brother's Keeper." During this time, Vieira was anchoring CBS Morning News and worked as a contributing national correspondent on CBS Evening News With Dan Rather. In June 1991, she also became contributing correspondent for the CBS News primetime series Verdict, reporting on courtroom trials.

Then later in 1991, Vieira became pregnant with her second child; 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt informed her that the show needed a full-time correspondent. Their dispute became public, and Vieira left the program. 

In 1993 she joined the ABC News crew as chief correspondent for Turning Point. After that she won her sixth Emmy for the report “Inside the Hate Conspiracy: America’s Terrorists.” In addition, Vieira worked on stories like “Framingham Eight”-- eight women who were fighting for a second chance after killing their partners they say abused them; for this she won an award from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television. 

Eventually Vieira decided she wanted to step down from the intense work she was doing and spend more time at home with her children. This led to an opportunity more suiting of her time-- a position as co-host of ABC’s The View. This early morning talk show launched in 1997 with newswoman Barbara Walters and cohost Debbie Matenopoulos. The show offered a diverse, multigenerational look at topics ranging from entertainment to politics and legal issues.

After her success on the talk show, Vieira decided she’d found her temporary niche and would move on to hosting the game show Who Wants to be a Millionare. Then in the spring of 2006 she joined the team at NBC for The Today Show. 

Today Vieira is now hosting her own show, The Meridith Vieira Show, on NBC. Needless to say this is one talented woman and her efforts to continue capturing and reporting news are endless. I can’t wait to see what she’ll bring on next!

Sarah Hogan is studying Communication Arts at St. Thomas Aquinas College.


Ella Fitzgerald: Singing Out from Mean Streets to Carnegie Hall

By Jessica Mizzi

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Va. on April 25, 1917. Her father, William, and mother, Temperance (Tempie), parted ways shortly after her birth. Tempie and Ella went to Yonkers, N.Y, where they eventually moved in with Tempie's longtime boyfriend, Joseph Da Silva. Ella's half-sister, Frances, was born in 1923 and soon she began referring to Joe as her stepfather. Their apartment was in a mixed neighborhood, where Ella made friends easily. She considered herself more of a tomboy, and often joined in the neighborhood games of baseball. Sports aside, she enjoyed dancing and singing with her friends, and some evenings they would take the train into Harlem and watch various acts at the Apollo Theater.

In 1932, Tempie died from serious injuries that she received in a car accident. Ella took the loss very hard. After staying with Joe for a short time, Tempie's sister Virginia took Ella home. Shortly afterward Joe suffered a heart attack and died, and her little sister Frances joined them. Unable to adjust to the new circumstances, Ella became increasingly unhappy and entered into a difficult period of her life. Her grades dropped dramatically, and she frequently skipped school. After getting into trouble with the police, she was taken into custody and sent to a reform school. Living there was even more unbearable, as she suffered beatings at the hands of her caretakers.

Eventually Ella escaped from the reformatory. The 15-year-old found herself broke and alone during the Great Depression, and strove to endure. Never one to complain, Ella later reflected on her most difficult years with an appreciation for how they helped her to mature. She used the memories from these times to help gather emotions for performances, and felt she was more grateful for her success because she knew what it was like to struggle in life.

In mid 1936, Ella made her first recording. "Love and Kisses" was released under the Decca label, with moderate success. By this time she was performing with Chick's band at the prestigious Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, often referred to as "The World's Most Famous Ballroom."

Shortly afterward, Ella began singing a rendition of the song, "(If You Can't Sing It) You Have to Swing It." During this time, the era of big swing bands was shifting, and the focus was turning more toward bebop. Ella played with the new style, often using her voice to take on the role of another horn in the band. "You Have to Swing It" was one of the first times she began experimenting with scat singing, and her improvisation and vocalization thrilled fans. Throughout her career, Ella would master scat singing, turning it into a form of art.

In 1938, at the age of 21, Ella recorded a playful version of the nursery rhyme, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." The album sold 1 million copies, hit number one, and stayed on the pop charts for 17 weeks. Suddenly, Ella Fitzgerald was famous.

By the 1990s, Ella had recorded over 200 albums. In 1991, she gave her final concert at New York's renowned Carnegie Hall. It was the 26th time she performed there. 

 In September of 1986, Ella underwent quintuple coronary bypass surgery. Doctors also replaced a valve in her heart and diagnosed her with diabetes, which they blamed for her failing eyesight. The press carried rumors that she would never be able to sing again, but Ella proved them wrong. Despite protests by family and friends, including Norman, Ella returned to the stage and pushed on with an exhaustive schedule. As the effects from her diabetes worsened, 76-year-old Ella experienced severe circulatory problems and was forced to have both of her legs amputated below the knees. She never fully recovered from the surgery, and afterward, was rarely able to perform.

On June 15, 1996, Ella Fitzgerald died in her Beverly Hills home. Hours later, signs of remembrance began to appear all over the world. 

Dubbed "The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. She performed at top venues all over the world, and packed them every time. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range. They were rich and poor, made up of all races, all religions and all nationalities. In fact, many of them had just one binding factor in common - they all loved her.

Jessica Mizzi is a senior majoring in Communication Arts at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

Luke Bryan: Kicking Up

By Sarah O’Malley  

If one has not seen country music phenomenon Luke Bryan perform live, it’s something to look into, especially if you’re a teenage girl who enjoys a country boy who knows how to dance! But there is a lot more to the life of this country star who is known for shaking his hips on stage in front of millions of fans.

Bryan’s current fame comes from his album that he dropped in the last year called Kill The Lights. Luke Bryan has been a country favorite since the second he signed with Capitol Records in Nashville and they released his first widely distributed album, I’ll Stay Me, in 2007. But with all of the success that he has had over the last several years, fame has not gone to his head. Bryan is known to be one of the most down to earth people that has crossed the media in a long time.
Luke Bryan, whose real name is Thomas Luther Bryan, grew up in the small town of Leesburg, Georgia on his family's farm, where at the age of 14 he received his first guitar and country music became an instant obsession. Artists like George Strait, Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard caught his ear and become some of the people he looked up to in terms of his musical career. Alongside being in his high school musicals, Bryan began writing his own songs at a young age.

Early Set-Back

He planned on going to school for music in Nashville but, unfortunately, the night before he planned on leaving for school, his brother died in a tragic car accident. Instead of going to Nashville, he attended the local college of Georgia Southern University so he could remain close to his family. But just because Bryan did not go away to school did not stop him from pursuing his music, he resorted to just playing in small, local venues with his band. Five years later his father told him that if he didn't get his act together for Nashville to start his career, he was going to be fired from working on his family’s farm.
In 2001, Bryan finally moved to Nashville and kicked off his successful career by writing "My Honky Tonk Career" for Travis Tritt, and before he knew it, in 2004 he was offered a solo record deal with Capitol Records Nashville. Capitol released Bryan's album I'll Stay Me in the summer of 2007, followed by Doin' My Thing in 2009. The album peaked at number two on the country charts and at number six on the Top 200. It also generated two number one singles, "Rain Is a Good Thing" and "Someone Else Calling You Baby.”

His success at such an early age led to an Academy of Country Music nomination for Top New Male Vocalist. It was known that Bryan’s career was going to be successful when Billboard and Country Weekly called Bryan an “artist to watch” so early in his career. Unfortunately, Bryan was struck with more family related tragic news when he found out his sister Kelly died suddenly in 2007. Medical officials were unable to determine what exactly caused her death.

Despite this tragic news, Bryan returned with his third album, Tailgates & Tanlines, in the summer of 2011. Before the release of the album, he gave fans and country music listeners a preview of this album with the song "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)," which still plays on the radio today. This song was the first of four Top 5 singles on the country chart. His hits "I Don’t Want This Night to End" and "Drunk on You" both went to number one, while "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" remained at number three. Well into 2012, Tailgates and Tanlines remained on the top of charts.

Bryan kept his successful standing in country music by winning ACM's Entertainer of the Year award in June. That August, he released his fourth studio album, Crash My Party, which hit number one on the country charts and the pop charts. Each of the first four singles from the album, the title track, "That's My Kind of Night," "Drink a Beer," "Play It Again," steadily climbed to number one on the country charts during 2013 and 2014.
Enduring Another Tragedy

About a year ago, Luke Bryan was faced with yet another family tragedy. Bryan’s brother­-in-­law died unexpectedly and he and his wife Caroline topped headlines when they took in their three nieces and nephews to live with them alongside their two children, Bo and Tate. While having to deal with these tragedies and taking on an even bigger family than he already had, Luke Bryan did not fail to keep his career path moving. He released his fifth studio album, Kill the Lights, in August 2015.
Although its first single, "Kick the Dust Up," became a chart­-topping anthem, the rest of the album mostly showed the quieter, genuine side to Bryan. Kill the Lights sold 345,000 copies its first week and beat out Dr. Dre’s Compton to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200. “Strip It Down” went number one in October 2015, making this Luke Bryan’s fourteen cumulative chart topper. The album’s third single, “Home Alone Tonight” was released on country radio stations on November 23, 2015. This song became an instant hit after Luke made an awesome performance with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild at the American Music Awards on November 22 of this year.
Luke Bryan is definitely one of those artists where people are constantly looking forward to seeing what he has in store for us next. His increase in popularity over the years is proven by him never failing to keep his fans and others on their toes because each and every album is different and seems to get better and better over the years. Bryan kicks off his “Kill the Lights” tour on February 18, 2016 and everyone should be on the lookout for hits from his latest album hitting country radio stations nationwide.

Sarah O'Malley is a Communications major and senior at Saint Thomas Aquinas College. "I will be graduating in May and am still not 100% sure which direction I want to go with my major. I am a huge country music fan and for the Spring semester I will be interning at Cumulus Radio, which is affiliated with NASH FM, New York's most popular country station!" 

Works Cited:­bryan


Justin Bieber: On the Circuit, Making Amends

By Emily Kopac                                                                                    

Justin Bieber’s 2016 Purpose world tour will be at Madison Square Garden on July 18 and 19. The tour will also be in our area May 4 and May 5 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and July 9 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. 

The Purpose world tour starts March 9, 2016 in Seattle, Washington and will end in New York City at Madison Square Garden. Justin Bieber has not been on tour since his Believe tour, which started in September 2012 in Glendale, California and ended in December 2013 in Perth, Australia. 

On August 28, Justin’s new single “What Do You Mean?” was released, followed by “Sorry,” which was released on October 23. The full album, Purpose, was released on November 13. Tickets went on sale for the Purpose world tour on November 20. 

The Purpose tour is to stop all around the United States and Canada, including Vancouver, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, Miami, Chicago, Baltimore, New York City, and many others. Justin has been all over promoting this album and tour; stopping at the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and even doing the first ever Justin Bieber week on the Ellen show. Justin was a guest on all of her shows during that week, Monday through Friday. Justin ended the week by doing an outdoor concert for the audience. 

Along with promoting his album and tour Justin Bieber has been talking, wanting people to know that he has changed and he is sorry for everything he has done in the past and is truly grateful for his fans and everything they do for him. The tour was originally scheduled to end on July 18, 2016 at Madison Square Garden but because of the popularity of the ticket sales another date was added for Madison Square Garden on July 19. As of now there are announced to be a total of 64 shows around North America.

Emily Kopac is a sophomore majoring in Communication Arts at St. Thomas Aquinas College.