Category Archives: Entertainment

‘Better Than the Movies’ review

By: Kaylen Fuentez

‘Better Than the Movies’ is a book written by Lynn Painter that was published in 2021. This book is about a teenage girl Liz and her neighbor and childhood friend, Wes. They don’t get along very well but when their old childhood friend, Michael, moves back into town, Liz asks Wes to set them up. 

I think this book had a good concept but it was definitely predictable and wasn’t something that was unheard of. But I do think the characters were written really well and with a lot of substance.

 I think it was easy to get attached to the characters since they all had such engaging personalities. I think my favorite character is Wes, throughout the book he was very thoughtful of Liz and you can tell he truly cares about her. He helped her to start talking to Michael even when he knew he’d had feelings for her. He continued to be there for her when she was upset over her relationship with Michael, her friendship that was falling apart, and as well as grieving her mom and accepting her step mom.

The subplot of ‘Better Than the Movies’ was Liz trying to cope with the death of her mother who passed 2 years prior to when the story takes place. One of the ways she copes with her mom’s death is watching rom coms which she grew up watching with her mom. Throughout the book Liz’s mom is constantly mentioned and everyone always says how much she reminds them of her mother. Liz always takes her resemblance to her mother as a compliment but in a part of the book her and Wes have a fight and he says she’s trying to be her mom because that’s one way she copes. I thought that it was a really interesting concept and I’m glad that though her mom passed she’s still such a big part of the book and Liz’s thought process.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was all of the references to films and music. Liz has an obsession with films as well as creating playlists for every moment. At the beginning of each chapter there was a quote from a rom com which described how the chapter was going to go, and after finishing the chapter the quote would make a lot of sense and I thought it was a clever way to add substance and hobbies to Liz’s character.

The songs mentioned throughout were also a nice touch because it gave you more of a sense of what was going on and how Liz was feeling in that moment, and how the song could correspond to what was going on. At the end of the book, there was even a page dedicated to Wes and Liz and it’s called “Wes and Liz’s Playlist” that included about 20 songs that showed how they feel about each other and the journey of their relationship throughout the book.

Overall, I think this book was a nice easy read, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s the best book I’ve ever read. I rate this book 3/5 stars and it’s a great book to read in a short span of time.

Shrimp Taco recipe review

By: Gabe Kleiber

This recipe is from

This is from my mom’s own personal food website, and I wanted to make this because it usually only takes her half an hour to cook, but is still one of my favorites.

It has less than 10 ingredients and only 4 steps, could easily be made by a middle schooler, but still manages to cover every base a taco should. It is easily better than many of its restaurant counterparts. If anyone is interested in learning to cook, this would probably be my number one suggestion.

Even though the recipe says to grill, a cast iron skillet does the job just fine. This is the only thing you actually have to cook, the rest is just prep and assembly. The night I made this I was in a time crunch, so I just microwaved the tortillas. In total, it took around 25-30 minutes. For an experienced cook, it is easily doable in under 20.

With all the talk about speed, I don’t mean to understate how good the taco itself is. A beautiful golden crust on well seasoned shrimp, mixed with the acidity from the lime is already a good dish on its own. But combined with the texture and freshness of avocado, and the multi-layered flavors of pico de gallo with a slight dash of hot sauce elevates it to extraordinary new heights.

This would certainly be an accepted dish at a fine dining restaurant, but it was made by a home cook in half an hour. This is truly a gem among dishes. I could eat this every week and be left with an appetite for more and plenty of time to spare. One of the best and easiest meals to make I have ever seen in all my years of eating. 10/10

Review: SZA’s new album ‘SOS’

By: Alexa Ramirez

SZA’s 5 year hiatus has finally come to an end, and her new album ‘SOS’ has broken the internet, reaching the No. 1 spot on Billboard 200. This album contains 23 tracks, is filled with several collaborations, and is a definite sign of expansion in this upcoming musician’s artistic style.

Image of SZA taken from:

Solana Rowe (SZA) is a 33-year-old R&B singer from Missouri. She began making music in the early 2010’s, and released her debut album, ‘CTRL’, in June of 2017. This album gave her a great deal of her fame, but is filled with nearly all contemporary R&B, which is what got her the reputation she has in the music world as an R&B singer.

She has also gained huge followings through social media, and experienced success with TikTok, where many of her songs, such “Good Days”, “Broken Clocks”, “Drew Barrymore” and many more are used by fans making videos.

She also made an appearance in the movie ‘Black Panther’, in the song “All the Stars” which she collaborated on with Kendrick Lamar.

She has also been featured on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, and performed in the Good Vibes Festival, Panorama NYC, AFROPUNK FEST Paris and many others.

Though she is relatively new to the music scene, she is definitely making a large name for herself and her music is only on its come up now.

While she has stayed relevant through social media, she hasn’t been releasing much music since her debut album in 2017. Since then, she has added a deluxe version of her first album ‘CTRL’ and has released three songs. “I Hate U”, “Good Days” and “Shirt” were all songs she released between albums which kept her relevant online. But really, this new album has been a big deal in her career since she has been off the grid musically for a long time, and many people didn’t know when, or if, she would be releasing music again. There were even rumors that she retired, or is retiring from music altogether.

When speaking on how releasing music has negatively affected her she said, “I’m making the best album of my life for this next album and I know that, because it’s going to be my last album.” ‘SOS’ was the last album she had been referring to, setting the standards high and the audience eagerly waiting on its release.

This album is a very unique one musically, and artistically, considering her previous label as an R&B only artist; she has definitely expanded on that and added a variety of rap and pop songs to this album.

The songs “Kill Bill”, “Conceited”, and “Seek & Destroy” all explored an upbeat pop side to her, which is a fun one to see because her music is usually very beautiful in more sad or quiet ways, while these were more bold and bouncy.

I also was so excited about her expansion on her rap side with the songs “Low”, “Smoking on my Ex Pack”, and “SOS” which were fun and very singable. She doesn’t get enough credit for her plays on words which were shown off in those songs, and many others on this album.

I thought expanding on her skills, and also keeping some R&B songs that she’s known and loved for, like “I Hate U” and “Blind” was genius because it caters to many different needs fans might have had for this album.

Side by side of the album cover and its inspiration from Daily Mail

Another interesting detail about the album is its cover; in the cover photo, SZA is sitting on the edge of a diving board over an ocean as seen in a similar photo of the late Princess Diana, who was photographed sitting on the edge of the diving board on Mohamed Al Fayed’s Jonikal yacht. The photo was taken in 1997, before her death. When asked about the resemblance between the two photos, SZA said, “I just loved how isolated she felt, and that was what I wanted to convey the most”. This unique attention to detail in every aspect of her album is something key to understanding the type of artist that SZA really is.

I rate it a full 5/5 because the songs were all so good and special, and music aside, it spoke volumes about her as an artist and as a person and I’m excited to see where her musical journey will take her in the future.

Xbox vs. PlayStation

By: Manny Ochoa-Reeves

Image taken from: Xbox Vs PlayStation

Console wars have been a debate since the early 1990s. Everyone would argue if Xbox or PlayStation was better. Nintendo isn’t really included in the console war because of how different it is from Xbox and PlayStation. The two are very similar with only a couple of differences.

The main thing that separates Xbox and PlayStation is the exclusive games. PlayStation has some games that can’t be played on Xbox, for example “Spider-Man”, “God of War”, “Horizon” and more.

Xbox is definitely lacking on exclusive games; they really only have “High On Life”, “Halo”, and “Forza”.

I definitely think that PlayStation is taking advantage of their exclusive games because that’s probably why most people buy PlayStation consoles.

In my opinion, the looks of the consoles definitely matter. The PS5 design looks really good because it’s white with a more futuristic vibe. The reason it looks really clean is because both the controller and the console light up with colored LED lights. Something interesting about the PS5 is that it’s made out of plates that you can take off and replace with other ones with cool designs.

On the other hand, you have the new Xbox which is kind of just a black box with a white button, and it’s a bit taller than older designs. Especially without the disc slot, it looks really bland and boring.

The controllers are very important in this battle of consoles. The Xbox controller is just about the same, but they worked on their vibration to make games more enticing. The PS5 made an entire new controller, matching the PS5 with a futuristic design. They also added a little mouse pad type thing that would affect some games. PlayStation has definitely been trying to design a better look for their technology.

Over the years, Xbox and PlayStation have both come out with many gaming consoles that have been tied in their power, graphics and quality. The Xbox Series X and the PS5 are almost tied with their performance, but the Xbox has a better GPU making it faster and better.

Personally, I’ve been playing Xbox for my whole life. But just recently, I got a PS5 just so that I could play the exclusive games. For me, I really can’t tell the difference, it’s really just which controllers and exclusive games you prefer. But in reality, the console war is really dying down because of computer games. You can get some of the exclusive games on a computer and have a better performance.

JOYSTiCK Ep. 6: ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ – Turkey gizzards in the third dimension

By: Daniel Kendle

Aw, so cute! A galliformes’ intestinal contents!

Image taken from:

Hello and welcome once again to JOYSTiCK, the HPSH serial that enjoys reviewing and exploring video games. Our 6th game is ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land,’ our 3rd Nintendo-exclusive title thus far. Released in March of 2022, it’s also my introduction to the series.

Kirby has always been an interesting franchise to look at from afar. Generally receiving good reviews, I’ve never been turned off to the idea of trying it. However, I generally play games I know I’ll like, or ones that I think will be an intriguing experience, even if bad. But while I think the series is cute, I’ve always left it at that; the 2D entries of great fame never really had me bursting at the veins for a chance to play.

But now, ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ is the pink intestine’s leap into its first 3D platformer title, now on the shiny, relatively-new Nintendo Switch. Is this game worthy of its pristine title? Or is this one big ol’ turkey in the making? Let’s find out.


This is one of the few times I won’t be able to compare a game to its older entries, because…you know. So, with all that being said, this game is pretty fun!

Out of the 5 titles I’ve reviewed thus far, ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ feels the most…normal? Standard? Whatever the description, the game feels good to control and has a solid idea of what it’s doing.

Being a 3D platforming game, it obviously functions as one would expect: you have to make your way through levels through various means of mobility. This is where the game – and franchise as a whole – differs from others, due to Kirby’s 2 main abilities: floating, and…inhaling.

Let’s start with float. When you tap the jump button a second time, you puff up and enter a state of stasis in the air, slowly drifting back down if you don’t repeatedly hit the button to keep staying in the air, which means you’re able to cross large gaps and high barriers with ease. Since this has been a mainstay in the franchise since the first game ever, critiquing it can be somewhat strange due to the gameplay piece’s longevity, but overall, it’s an interesting feature. While I do like the range of freedom it grants you, I can’t help but find it painfully slow to wield, seeing as Kirby’s running speed is fairly quick, but his floating is just far too slow. I wish they could’ve upped the pace just a little bit, as what we have is an interesting ability that I used rarely in places where it wasn’t needed.

Inhaling fares much better. It pulls no punches; holding down another button has you breathe in, letting you inhale enemies, powerups and “Mouthful Mode” items, of which we’ll talk about in a minute. Anyways, inhaling an enemy has them be caught in your mouth and shot out again, defeating them. This can generally be done with most creatures, and is a decent – albeit basic – way of progressing. However, the much more diverse option of going about defeating the game’s bloodthirsty kittens and puppies is through powerups.

Power Ups consist of many different hats, each with different perks and powers, for instance, the Hammer ability gives you, what else, a hammer that lets you slap these small mammals into the ground. The Tornado ability has you be able to conjure and surround yourself in a whirlwind that gives you faster mobility and combat prowess, the Fire ability lets you breathe fire, and the Ranger ability gives you a…a gun.


I really like these powerups, they all feel so lively and fresh. I personally like the Ranger and Tornado abilities the most, but that’s just me. The only one I’d say is subpar is the Bomb powerup, as I never found it very intuitive to control. Aside from that, power ups are great.

Finally, let’s discuss Mouthful-Mode. This feature allows you to swallow various objects, like vending machines or traffic cones, and use them with various perks. For instance, inhaling a car lets you drive around. I like these, however, I can’t help but feel as if they’re all a little under-utilized.

Pretty much every mouthful item you’re able to use is restricted to one single area. You’re never really incentivized to explore with these, or discover what else they can do. You basically get a set of obstacles for each, and that’s it. The game’s main gimmick, used so little and in so small of places…It’s pretty disappointing.

Outside of the levels, there’s also a hub world known as the Waddle-Dee Town, where you can buy items, upgrade your power ups, and do other fun activities. I like this, as it feels good to have a place to go back to after some levels in order to rest up and stuff. The fishing mini game is super cute and charming. I liked the arena and tourneys within it, and of course, the little luck-based machine that spits out little rewards and figurines! It’s neat how you’re able to unlock more series of figurines to roll for in-game.

Overall, gameplay in ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ is certainly a mixed bag. While some things are great, others feel very loose and underutilized in comparison.


So I, as a person, am a fan of cute games. I like games that have heavy, grungy atmospheres and environments, but I’ll always have a place for chibi or cutesy styles in my heart, no matter the game.

I’d argue that what “defines” a cute artstyle is through the emotion it conveys towards the player. For instance, a video game can have a chibi look to it yet be filled with gore and violence. You can also have a fairly realistic game that has generally fun and lighthearted play. This is all, of course, subjective, though some aspects just don’t mesh well together. I mean, give an infant a gun, and it’ll look out of place, right? The same goes with video game graphics. if you drop a high-def model of a heat-guided nuclear missile into, I dunno, ‘Animal Crossing,’ it’s bound to look out of place. This isn’t something that I’d argue is opinionated; some things are just a given, and the conflicts of 2 separate medium’s graphics is an example of that.

But is this a bad thing? Now, THAT’S divisive. While the combining of multiple art styles is, almost by definition, objective, how one feels about the clash is certainly the opposite. I personally enjoy seeing multiple mediums join together, though I require certain barriers to be made in order to feel like a successful mix of several graphic designs has been made. If things feel too out of control, then the whole thing blows. Combining different game’s art styles and graphics is a delicate, yet fascinating balance of complex forms.

And with all that being said…

…‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ looks really, REALLY good.

Nintendo, as a company, has proven they’re the masters of simplistic, appealing art and animation. ‘Super Mario Odyssey,’ ‘Pikmin 2,’ ‘Animal Crossing: Wild World,’ frickin’ ‘Pokémon Black & White,’ if you really wanna dig deep. So, this game looking great is practically second nature to us consumers.

To summarize, the game mixes semi-realistic environments with more cutesy characters. I mean, Kirby’s literally just a round ball with knobs at the ends; there’s really nothing too drastic here. I think this mix looks quite nice, as it could’ve come across much worse. I’ve seen these videos of people putting cartoony game characters into hyper-realistic environments, and while I may be in the minority, I’ve always thought that they look really ugly, personally. Meanwhile, while the background environments look semi-realistic, they never feel too out of place.

The only bad part is that the UI (user interface) sucks! Everything is so small; I have to squint to see my health bar.

Overall, the game looks great. Animations are solid, everything is super cute, and it feels like yet another great ‘Nintendo’ showcase of art. The UI is kinda lousy, but it’s just a minor issue on my part.


We haven’t done this in a while, no?

I say this because the last time we covered the bosses in a video game was ‘Metroid Dread,’ otherwise known as the first review we’ve done. So I thought it would be fun to bring that back. Plus, they’re the last big part of the game I feel the need to cover, and I want this issue to exceed 2,000 words.

While ‘Metroid Dread’ has very grungy, metal bosses, ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ has more cute creatures to fight. Literally EVERY enemy is cute, and I couldn’t help but go “awww…” before caving in their skulls. Also, like I said, you get power ups primarily from inhaling enemies, and most creatures have this functionality. The enemy’s theming also helps you know what they’ll give you: for instance, the bomb-bouncing seal gives you the bomb ability.

But moving onto the actual bosses, they’re pretty solid! Not as good as previous JOYSTiCK entries, but nonetheless quality enemies.

The first bout is with Gorimondo, this big ol’ gorilla thing. As someone who has a phobia of chimpanzees, I always thought that this thing’s design looked…off. Like, its feet were super tiny compared to this titanic bod. And the fight itself, while decent, isn’t very memorable. Babies could beat this thing, honestly.

The big palm tree Tropical Woods came next, and I quite liked this one in comparison. It has these roots that surround you and the stage, puffs of smoke that it can blow out in waves, and can summon large iron barricades to protect itself from harm. Overall, a pretty neat fight.

Then…we have a fight. Between a cat. That stands on 2 legs. Who is somewhat anthropomorphized. Everyone, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but what we have here…

…is a furry.

Clawroline is honestly a fine battle; the designers used some interesting ideas, like having the arena be part of some of her attacks. However, her design, like Gorimondo’s, is just so weird. Her legs…like, huh? Maybe I just don’t like anthro characters that much due to how they make me uncomfortable, but still. The fights are fine enough but the leopard we have to face is just creepy-looking.

I do like King Dede, however. He’s been a character within the franchise since the beginning, and while the boss fight isn’t super memorable, it’s still good and fun. I’d say that it’s the most interesting character, seeing as he’s a returning favorite.

Sillydillo is an armadillo who…is silly. (Who’da thunk it?) In reality, the fight is cool, though some of his attacks, like trapping you in a giant cage or rolling after you, are somewhat buggy and unpolished-looking. Like, they have very strange hit boxes, and I never really got used to them. Nothing feels very well-choreographed, and I think it could’ve done with some work.

Finally, there’s like, 3 final bosses, for whatever reason. I’ve decided to talk about the first, but I won’t spoil the last for story-related reasons. Leogar, this lion dude, is interesting, though his actual fight is very underwhelming. Again, there are 2 other fights after this, but for a final boss, he’s very weak. And honestly, that’s an issue I have with most bosses in this game: they’re just not very memorable. I’d still call them “good,” but that’s just not enough for a 3D Nintendo platformer.


‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’…isn’t perfect.

The UI is stinky, the bosses, while good, aren’t memorable. The movement is janky at times, and the Mouthful-Mode items are generally limited in scope for a gimmick. These all keep it back from being one of Nintendo’s classics.

Of course, I had loads of fun with this game! The levels are fun, the town is great, the animation is lovely, and I definitely wouldn’t call this a rush job. More just that it didn’t exactly meet all of my standards.

I’m giving ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ a 7.5 out of 10. That can always change in the future; for example, I’ve raised ‘Pokémon Legends Arceus’ from a 7.5 to an 8.5. This could be the same for this game, which, while fun, has some personal issues.

And that’s all for this episode of JOYSTiCK! See you next time.

‘Ginny and Georgia’ review and summary

By: Ayamei Her

Note: In both season 1 and season 2, it mentions some sensitive topics such as: eating disorders, body dysmorphia, depression, self harm, abuse, sexual abuse, racism, and drug abuse. 

If you don’t know what ‘Ginny and Georgia’ is, it is Netflix’s current #1 show and it is full of drama and intensity. In season one, the show introduces a mother with her kids in a car together, on their way to a new town to live in. Georgia (the mom) has moved her two kids (Ginny and Austin) around through many cities and towns. Georgia wanted to settle, and she wanted stability, so she decided on the small town of Wellsbury.

Ginny was upset about the move, she always felt like Georgia was always disrupting her life once she felt as if she had settled in, although Ginny was worried about fitting in and making friends, she made friends quickly with Maxine, and her twin brother Marcus, who lived across the street from Ginny and her family.

At her new school, Maxine introduces Ginny to her friends Abby and Nora, and they become a friend group and combine their initials together to make a name for the group which is “MANG”. 

The first complication is that Ginny develops feelings for her best friend’s twin brother Marcus. Despite those feelings, Ginny starts dating a boy name Hunter. Ginny sneaks Marcus into her room nearly every night though, keeping him close and exploring her feelings for him. Eventually, she cheats on Hunter with Marcus, but inevitably, with time, everyone finds out about Ginny and Marcus’s secret affair. 

Now, with Georgia, she is one of my favorite characters because her back story is just so deep; her character does so well with hiding it. She is clever, playing mind games with people, while most of all trying to be the best mother she can be for her kids. Georgia has a very rough past and decided to hide it from her kids to protect them, she ran away from her abusive home and joined a dangerous biker gang who protected her while she was pregnant with Ginny, raising her alone at the age of 16.

Georgia has done some unspeakable things such as kill people who she felt she had to protect her kids from. She says from time and time again that she does everything for her kids and to protect her kids. 

Georgia and her son Austin
Ginny and Georgia

A private investigator was sent to see into Georgia’s past to see who she really was. He finds out that she has been through a life of crime and pain and tells Ginny that he knows about her mother’s life, and that he doesn’t want someone with a past like Georgia’s to be around Ginny and her brother Austin. After Ginny was told, she put the pieces together and left home with her brother, and that’s how they ended season 1. 

Season 2 starts with showing that Ginny and Austin went and stayed with her father for awhile, and it shows that her mother is angry at Ginny, but misses her kids very much and still has no idea that Ginny knows of the crime Georgia committed. Soon, Ginny tells her father about her self harm, but begs him to not tell her mother, so he secretly puts Ginny in therapy so she can get the professional help she needs.  

During this, Ginny moves back to her mom’s and starts the angsty teen rebel phase where she starts to skip school, smoke, and spontaneously dyes her hair. 

While Ginny starts to seriously date Marcus, Maxine and Nora continue not being friends with Abby and Ginny, but Abby and Ginny start to become friends.

During Ginny and Marcus’s relationship, everything was going great and they seemed to be perfect for each other. But Marcus starts to have a depressive episode and feels like his happiness is only coming from Ginny. He says that it’s not fair to have his happiness depend on one person, and he can’t love her if he can’t love himself, so he decides to break up with Ginny.

Ginny and Abby decide to reconnect with Maxine and Nora, and they all become friends again. During Maxine’s show, that she was acting in for school, Marcus takes Ginny out in the hall and they break up which leaves Ginny heartbroken. 

Marcus and Ginny

I won’t spoil the ending of season 2 in case you haven’t watched it, but I would recommend watching the show if you like a roller coaster of emotions and tons of new surprises.

All images taken from the Ginny & Georgia Instagram page at: gngbts

HP Theatre Arts proudly presents: ‘The One Act Plays’

By: Erin Moore

This winter, Highland Park’s theatre club has been working tirelessly to put together five one act plays, to be performed one after another this coming weekend. Whether it be costumes, sets, props, lights, sound, mics, acting, stage managing, or our hard-working directors, lots of hours and effort have been put into these productions. 

If you’ve seen the signs up all throughout the hallways of  Highland Park Senior High, it’s likely you’re aware of the five winter one acts to be performed this coming weekend. “Call Me Stan,”  “Put a Ring On It,” “Clowns with Guns,” “Speed Date,” and “The Bifrost Incident.” Each one act is directed by our very own HPSH seniors including James Nins, Evan Nelson, Ryan Terry, Julia Williamson, Liv Knafla, Max Nutter, Bella Schmitt, and Spike McIlrath. 

The following synopses are spoiler-free and are from the HPSH Thespian Society Schoology group.

“’Call Me Stan’ [is] a dark comedy about parents meeting their daughter, Brittany’s, boyfriend, but something’s not quite right about him. He’s too old, too rich and even red!” 

“In ‘Put a Ring On It,’ Allison tests the limits of just how chaotic a family dinner can get as she is willing to do whatever it takes to get her boyfriend to propose to her.”

“’Clowns with Guns’ takes a theatrical and absurd look at the repeated and seemingly endless cycle of school [gun] violence. It happens, everyone is terribly upset, things continue on as normal, it happens again.” Note: due to the violent content of this one act, people are free to leave at intermission if the feel necessary.

“It’s Valentine’s Day and the pressure is on. Seventeen crazy characters search for love in a round-robin game of ‘Speed Date.’ Everyone’s in on the action: a hopeless people-pleaser, a Frenchman, a guy hung up on his previous girlfriends, an art therapist, a clown, and more. They’re desperate, chatty, needy, strange–and the clock is ticking. Will they find love before time runs out?”

“A mix of Greek tragedy and Norse mythology set in the far future, where the old gods and trains through space exist. ‘The Bifrost Incident’ is the story of the end of the world told by a criminal investigator slowly going mad from cosmic forces.” Note: this one act is not well suited for children, it is more PG-13 than G. Audience members may also leave at intermission if the choose

Tickets will cost $10 for adults and $5 for students. Cash, card, and check are accepted. Performances will be in the Highland Park auditorium on January 20th @ 7 and January 21st @ 2 & 7. Concessions will be available during intermission. 

If you’re interested in viewing these stories, want to come watch friends/family, or want to support the arts at Highland, be sure to come watch! 

For more information, visit @hptheatrearts on Instagram, look for the posters in the hallways, or ask anyone you know involved in the one acts. 

Reviewing different ski hills in Minnesota

By: Ann McMullen

Although Minnesota does not have any true mountains, the hilly terrain of primarily the east half of the state makes for great alpine skiing. These hills, combined with the massive amount of snow we get that seems to last for half the year, make skiing a popular winter activity. In fact, there are so many ski hills in the state that it can be hard to choose one to go to. If you’re wondering where you should ski…look no further than this article.

The closest major hill to the Cities is probably Buck Hill, located in Burnsville. There isn’t much variety in their runs, and it’s all condensed into quite a small area. That being said, a huge amount of olympic medalists grew up skiing at Buck Hill, so they must be doing something right! I’d say Buck is a great place to try out skiing, and if you enjoy it, you can eventually go to a bigger, steeper hill.

Afton Alps is arguably the most popular ski hill in the state, located about half an hour east of the Twin Cities. It’s definitely popular for a reason. It’s in a pretty area, has 17 chairlifts, and even a hilltop chalet! However, Afton can get really, really busy. It’s good skiing, for sure, but you’ll probably spend more time waiting in lift lines than actually going down the hill.

Lutsen Mountains is the closest thing to a real mountain skiing experience that the state offers. This resort is located in the town of Lutsen on beautiful Lake Superior, about twenty minutes south of Grand Marais. There are four unique “mountains” with different types of terrain, allowing anyone from beginners to experts to find something they can enjoy. In addition to the great skiing, Lutsen offers a variety of fun activities in the off-season. Their gondola still runs in the summer to provide beautiful tours of the mountains, and an alpine slide is available to ride down the steepest of their four hills.

If you’re looking for beautiful views like those in Lutsen but don’t want to drive the four hours, look no further than Spirit Mountain in Duluth — essentially halfway between the Cities and Lutsen. At Spirit, you can expect to see Lake Superior, as well as cool views of Duluth itself. The only real downside of Spirit is how small it is. If size is what you’re looking for, I wouldn’t recommend it. Otherwise, it’s great! I also feel inclined to share that they have an alpine roller coaster open in the summer, that winds through a forest and provides beautiful views of the lake. And, get this — you can even control your speed!

And finally, my personal favorite: Welch Village. I may be a bit biased because I grew up coming here nearly every winter weekend, but this hill — just under an hour south of the Cities — has a lot to offer. I wouldn’t call Welch a “hidden gem,” but it’s definitely overshadowed by Afton. That being said, Welch isn’t nearly as busy as Afton — there are rarely long lines for the lifts and you’re sure to be able to find a spot to sit in one of their two chalets.

I hope this helped you see how much downhill skiing Minnesota has to offer. See you on the hill!

A review on the game ‘Stardew Valley’

By: McKenzie Welch

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Video games come in many different formats and genres, and people all over the world enjoy these technological creations. ‘Stardew Valley’ is considered a farming simulation, and it allows people to choose their own story and design their farms in the ways that they choose, which is a big part of what makes the game so appealing.

‘Stardew Valley’ is an indie game created by Eric Barone, under the developer ConcernedApe. It was released on February 26, 2016 and has been growing ever since. People have even made many different modifications that you can install to make the game more personable, which also helps hold people’s interest in the game more often.

From my personal experience, ‘Stardew Valley’ is a calming
game that is fun to play on your own and with friends. When playing by
yourself, you are able to make your own decisions regarding your farm
and you have total control. Your actions are the only things affecting the
way your story goes.

When playing with friends, you have someone to talk to and split activities with, and you get to make a farm that reflects all of the players. ‘Stardew Valley’ has connected many people.

There are many different activities in ‘Stardew Valley’ to participate in, which keeps the game interesting. There is farming, mining, talking to townspeople, and fishing. This is another reason that it’s great to play with friends, as there are always activities people like and activities that people dislike when it comes to ‘Stardew Valley’.

All in all, I rate the game a 10/10. It is incredibly personable to different types of people and the things they enjoy, whether that is referring to the storyline they choose, the in-game activities they enjoy, or the modifications they add to the game. Whatever the case, it is a calming game with many positive qualities that I enjoy immensely.

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Free or low-cost winter activities

By: Emilia Moberg

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I really want to go out today, but it’s 1) very cold and 2) I don’t have that much money to spend”? As Minnesotans, most of us are used to the cold weather and are prepared for snowy weather conditions. People still go out and live their lives, especially to help curb seasonal depression during these dark months.

However, it can be difficult to find things to do and places to go when you’re a student with limited funds. Despite being prepared for the cold, it is a lot easier to plan activities for a whole day during the summer and spring without spending any money.

I have experienced this problem first hand many times, so I have compiled a list of some of my favorite things to do/places to go during the winter that are free or have a low cost.

1. Museums
Museums are a great way to spend some time during the winter because they are inside and heated, and offer a lot to see. There are a lot of great museums in the Twin Cities that offer free admission to people under 18.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is an art museum with three floors and over 90,000 artworks. It has a variety of African, Asian, European and modern art, ranging from paintings to sculptures to architecture. The MIA also has a cafe with seating.

The Walker Art Center is another art museum that offers free admission to under 18 visitors. The Walker is more focused on modern art and cycles out exhibits relatively regularly, as well as having a permanent collection on display.

One downside of both of these museums is that you have to pay for ramp parking, and there is limited street parking.

2. Coffee shops
Going to a coffee shop during the winter might seem like an obvious choice, but some coffee shops are definitely better than others, in terms of price and atmosphere.

JS Bean Factory in St. Paul is one of my favorites to do homework at. There is usually always a place to sit, and drinks and food is relatively inexpensive. You can get a 16oz tea for around $3.50 and coffee for around $4.

Another one of my favorites is Caffetto Coffee House in Minneapolis. It has a really unique, grungy but cozy atmosphere, along with inexpensive tea, coffee and food. Caffetto is a great place for late night studying or hanging out, as it stays open until 1am.

3. Thrifting
Thrifting is a fun activity for all seasons, but similarly to the museums, it’s great for winter because thrift stores are a warm, indoor space you can spend a lot of time in.

I think the Salvation Army/Goodwill bins specifically are good places to go because of how frequent clothes are cycled in and out. Many people typically spend multiple hours searching through the bins and waiting for new bins to be available to look through. Further, since clothes at the bins are priced by weight, you can purchase a lot of items for very cheap.