Living with Hope: experimental theater

The San Diego State theater department recently teamed up with Playwrights Project to stage “Living with Hope” in SDSU’s experimental theater from March 16-19. The performance consisted of two short plays: Mabelle Reynoso’s “Other People’s Kids” followed by Out of the Yard Playwrights’ “Finding Our Way.” Both plays centered on the cycle and struggles of addiction.

The first play was prefaced by a series of abstract and disturbing images, such as a detailed drawing of the Grim Reaper, projected onto the stage’s backdrop. The images were adorned with provoking phrases like, “Just another hit… euphoria setting in… lifeless here I die,” and “I did things no girl should dare.”

Photo by Julianna Ress.

“Other People’s Kids” featured interconnected stories related to meth use. Destiny Girley and Nick Sandoval played Gaby and Jesse, a young couple expecting a child. Gaby is an ex-meth user while Jesse is still using and selling, which leads to abusive behavior toward Gaby. Gaby attempts to get her life together for their child, and ultimately their breakup. Jake and Gaby’s story realistically displayed the pitfalls and manipulation that come from meth use and abusive relationships.

Alex DeMarco played Patty, mother to Brown University-bound teen daughter Mackenzie, played by Paige Jensen. Mackenzie, while an exceptional student, is a social outcast due to her fierce academic dedication. She turns to drugs looking for a feeling of normalcy. Obtaining meth through Jesse, she sacrifices her health and college plans because of the drugs, much to Patty’s dismay. Mackenzie’s story ends somewhat unresolved, as it remains unknown if she recovers from her addiction. However, amidst Patty’s disgust at what her daughter has become, she realizes that Mackenzie is still human and is suffering from a disease. The ambiguity of Mackenzie’s character arc reflects the uncertainties faced by addicts’ families – will she recover? Will she die? Will she spend her entire life on the streets? Mackenzie and Patty’s relationship was a heartbreaking and accurate display of the struggle to keep hope alive when parenting an addict.

“Finding Our Way” began immediately after the final scene of “Other People’s Kids” and was a much more abstract look at addiction. The play featured several reenactments of the characters’ first time using various drugs due to peer pressure, low self-esteem and curiosity. The most powerful scene was when a mother came home with a man, both clearly intoxicated, and proceeded to fight right in front of her daughter while three other characters attempted to shield the daughters’ eyes.

“Finding Our Way” stressed that there are better ways to treat addicts than incarceration, such as rehabilitation centers, therapy and meditation. The play stood firmly against jail time for drug-users, since those laws affect the families of addicts arguably more so than the addicts themselves.

The play additionally featured “addiction” personified, who goaded the other characters into doing drugs to attempt to catch the feelings they constantly chase. The characters would fall at the touch of the “addiction” character, depicting the immense power addiction has over their lives.

The performance as a whole portrayed addiction in two wildly different ways. “Other People’s Kids” presented the many lifestyles of drug addicts, emphasizing that drugs can find anyone. “Finding Our Way” offered a look into the addicts’ minds, and the options available and steps necessary to reach recovery. “Living with Hope” treated addiction effectively and realistically, and avoided going over the audience’s heads by being preachy or cheesy, as is often true of performances about drug addiction. The show was especially powerful and relevant to students, but the stories, as “Living with Hope” stressed, could relate to anyone.

Featured Image by Julianna Ress. 

6 International movies you should watch

Movies are a great way to escape your troubles. They transport you to the past and the future, or let you stay in the present. Movies allow you to visit foreign countries and get a glimpse of different cultures around the world, and let you enjoy amazing special effects. The beauty of international films, specifically, is that they give you an authentic look at these cultures, all while telling heartwarming, funny and entertaining stories. Below you will find six of my favorite international movies. Most of them can be found on Netflix or on Amazon.

1. The Beauty Inside

This South Korean film will make you laugh, cry and feel all the feels. It centers around a man who has a different body every time he wakes up (he can wake up as either gender). Except for his one friend and his mom who know his secret, he has no relationships with other people. Spoiler alert (minor): this is a love story, but if you’re not into that, you should still watch it. It’s really really good. You can find this movie on Netflix.

2. Amelie

This French film is quirky and funny, and you’ve probably already watched it on Netflix because it’s pretty well known. However, I still included it, for those people who have never heard of it. The movie is about Amelie, who finds a box of old toys inside the wall of her apartment, and decides to find the owner to return his childhood toys to him.

3. Instructions Not Included

This heartwarming film from Mexico is about a man who finds a girl left on his doorstep. While trying to find her mother, the two form a bond that changes them both for the better. This movie might make you cry; it made me cry a lot. However, it was still really funny and worth watching. You can find this movie on Netflix.

4. Whisper of the Heart

This Japanese animated film centers around a middle school girl who reads constantly. She starts to realize that all the books she’s reading have been read by the same person before her. While trying to find the person who’s name is written on all of these books, the girl begins to learn more about herself and what she hopes to achieve in life. While this movie is not on Netflix, you can find it on Amazon. It is also available at stores like Target and Walmart.

5. Life is Beautiful

This World War II era Italian film is about a Jewish-Italian family that gets split apart through concentration camps. Despite the serious theme of the movie, the film is still very comical and lighthearted – plus the little kid is adorable. This film is also unavailable on Netflix, but it is available to stream on Amazon Video.

6. Old Boy

This film is also a South Korean movie, however, it is a completely different genre than “The Beauty Inside.” If you’re into action or thriller movies, this movie is great! On his daughter’s birthday, a man is abducted and imprisoned in a hotel room. After being drugged and hypnotized for 15 years, he is finally let out. However, he still doesn’t know who is responsible for separating him from his daughter. Also, his kidnapper continues to control his life, outside of the hotel room. So, he decides to find this person and get revenge. “Old Boy” can be found on Netflix. Fun fact: this movie has an American remake from 2013.

 

what you should know about The Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is finally here and available worldwide! Announced just a few months ago (in October), the Switch is the newest gaming system from Nintendo. It includes detachable, wireless controllers that hook onto the actual gamepad itself, which allows for on-the-go accessibility that has only been provided once before (with the DS series). The Switch is essentially the hybrid of at-home gaming and carry-on gaming, and is dominating other competitors such as the Playstation 4 and Xbox consoles.

The device itself carries 32GB of storage, and supports additional storage, via SD cards, up to 2TB. It also has its own speakers, charging dock, headphone jack – the works. The screen is brighter than its last carry on predecessor, The 3DS, by nearly nine times the pixels. Comparatively, the 3DS’ screen is 400 x 240, and the Switch’s screen is 1,280 x 720.  This is coupled with the most advanced touchscreen capability to date for Nintendo, equipped with a 720p touchscreen capacity. The battery life for the system itself lasts for about 3 to 6 hours, which isn’t exactly impressive compared to other handheld gaming devices. However, since the Switch is charged via USB cable, this is easily fixed with an external battery pack. The Joy-Con controllers, however, must charge while the Switch is being charged, but are rated to last up to 20 hours.

The Joy-Con controllers themselves are bright red and blue, and act similarly to the Wii controllers from previous consoles. However, the difference between the two, besides the obvious paint job, is the shape of the controllers themselves. Instead of the original white, sleek, rectangular controllers, the Joy-Con controllers are curved to fit the Switch, providing a more compact shape for on-the-go gaming. The safety straps, however, did carry over, for obvious reasons.

Now, for the games. Nintendo has created several multiplayer games for the Switch, including newcomers such as “Arms,” “1, 2, Switch” and “Snipper Clippers,” but has also brought back favorites, including “Mario Kart Deluxe 8,”  “Just Dance 2017,” “Splatoon 2,” “Fifa,” “Skyrim,” “NBA2K18” and even “Minecraft.”

Click image to view source. Copyright @ PCMag.

However, the game dominating the charts is their showrunner, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild.” Rated by IGN and multiple platforms across the web as 10/10, the game lives up to the legacy of the “Zelda” series. From impressive graphics showing off the world of Hyrule, to little secrets and puzzles along the way, the game provides hours of endless content. Reviews are raving about the freedom of the game too, as side paths allow gamers to veer off into the virtual world at their own pace for as long as they desire.

To wrap things up about Nintendo’s new breadwinner, though, I’ll address the elephant in the room. Or rather, the cartridge in the system.

Ever since the Switch was released, many online personalities have tested the theory that the Switch cartridges are considerably disgusting to consume. Obviously, you should not consume anything inedible, like a game cartridge.

But, the weird trend rose from a statement given to IGN by Nintendo about the Switch’s packaging. Nintendo stated, To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children. A bittering agent (Denatonium Benzoate) has also been applied to the game card. This bittering agent is non-toxic.” 

Denatonium Benzoate, for all you non-chemical savvy readers out there (me included – I had to do my research), is the chemical considered to be the most bitterest substance known to science. The chemical was accidentally created back in 1958 when scientists were experimenting and trying to create new anesthetics for dentists. So, be glad you don’t have to worry about having that stuck in your teeth the next time you’re at the dentist. Now, the substance can be found in rubbing alcohol, anti-freeze, liquid soaps and shampoos. If your curiosity gets the better of you, just know that the chemical itself is not a toxic substance. It just tastes really, really bad (so don’t do it, please).

Youtube TV

YouTube, the mass media giant and king of video sharing, has proven to be one of the fastest growing social media platforms on the web. From their founding in 2005, YouTube has grown under the wing of its parent company, Google, as well as through its own respective community. Instead of TV personalities, younger generations are growing up with YouTube personalities from many different categories: gaming, cooking, news, reactions, beauty and many others. My personal favorites include Philip DeFranco, his wife’s channel, TheDeFrancoFam, and the channels he helped found, SourceFed and SourceFedNerd.

Within the past few years, YouTube has grown to include YouTube Red, YouTube Music, the infamous YouTube Heroes and its newest addition, YouTube TV.

Announced on February 28, 2017, YouTube has labeled themselves as a new competitor among television live streaming.

YouTube TV will be the newest live streaming service for viewers’ television sets, for $35 a month. There will be no big contract attached, so users can cancel their subscription at any moment. YouTube TV can be shared by up to six accounts for that price (so your friends won’t be constantly bugging you for your Netflix password anymore), and will provide regular television channels such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and even some local channels, as Youtube continues to partner with more networks.

One cool feature is the ability to personalize what channels you would like to have and therefore pay for. For example, if someone is a huge baseball fan, but has no interest in cooking, they can choose to pay for MLB and remove Food Network and Cooking Network from their account.

Another feature is the unlimited Cloud DVR, which will mimic the way one would subscribe to a YouTube channel. Once “subscribed” to the show you want to DVR, YouTube TV will record it, and the user will be able to watch the show whenever, as long as they are connected to the internet. On top of all this, regular features such as pause, rewind and fast-forward will be available. There will also be no ads on YouTube videos, and viewers will have full access to YouTube Red via a YouTube Red app within YouTube TV.

So what does this mean for you?

Well, to put it simply, it comes down to the picking game for consumers. I think YouTube TV essentially has the upper-hand. The competition is Direct TV Now, Sling TV and Playstation Vue, as well as the traditional cable providers such as AT&T, Cox, etc. Personally, I think services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Amazon TV are also competition. The hyperlinks provided link to the FAQs and rates that each provider will have/has.

However, YouTube TV has something that the other providers do not: a well established, online community. YouTube announced that although they have not established the exact features that will highlight their creator community, they see many opportunities to bring in new audiences, and promote shows and channels, through YouTube Red. For a more visual example of that, I highly suggest watching Philip DeFranco’s video on the matter.

Will you be joining the YouTube community through YouTube TV? How does this sound to you, compared to what services you already consume (i.e. Netflix, cable TV, etc.)? Let us know on KCR’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.