‘Coraline’ review

Button eyes and spiderwebs, Coraline is full of the stuff of nightmares.

Coraline was originally a novella written by Neil Gaiman, published all the way back in 2002. It quickly won many awards, which may I say, it deserved. In 2009 it was adapted into a stop motion film by Laika, which also appears to be quite well received. 

And in this one occasion, the movie may be just as good as the book.

Coraline is about a young girl, called Coraline, who has just moved to a new house. She feels as though her parents don’t pay enough attention to her, and she’s slightly ignored, not to mention bored. Then, she finds a small door in her house, which was originally boarded up, but suddenly one night, it is not. It leads Coraline to a fantastical world with two other parents and all the stuff she could ever want. But her other mother has more plans than just trying to make Coraline happy, and Coraline must fight not only for her own life, but also her parents’, to get out of the other mother’s world.

The book and the movie do have some differences though, the movie spends much more time exploring the world and characters, while the book is very fast paced. 

The book and movie are listed as horror, so while they are aimed at children, they are also full of ghoulish imagery. For example, the scene in the movie with Misses Forcible and Spink; trust me, you do not want to know that scene.

Neil Gaiman is also the author of novels such as American Gods, Good Omens, Anansi Boys, and more.

Laika, the studio that made the movie, also has made other movies such as Paranorman, Kubo and the Two Strings, and recently Missing Link.

I cannot recommend Coraline high enough. The book is short and a fun read, and I could rewatch the movie over and over again. If you are looking for a spooky movie to watch after Halloween, or just a fun time, Coraline is a must-see.

John Witherspoon passed away at the age of 77

On October 29, actor and comedian John Witherspoon, who starred in countless movies and many TV shows, for over the past 4 decades, died at his home at the age of 77 from a heart attack.

The family of John Witherspoon released a statement to the media saying:

“It is with deepest sorrow that we can confirm our beloved husband and father, John Witherspoon, one of the hardest working man in show business, died today at his home in Sherman Oaks at the age of 77.” The family continued the statement by saying, “We are all in shock, please give us a minute for a moment in privacy and we will celebrate his life and his work together. John used to say ‘I’m no big deal,’ but he was a huge deal to us.”

John Witherspoon was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1942. He later began his career as an entertainer and became a stand up comedian in the 1970’s. Just a few years after, he made his first television debut by appearing in shows including a detective series called Barnaby Jones.

Despite his roles in shows, in 1995, John Witherspoon arguably starred in his most known, and iconic role, in the comedy film, Friday starring Chris Tucker and Ice Cube. In this movie he played the role of Ice Cube’s dad. He continued to play his dad for the rest of its sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next.

Ice Cube and many other celebrities that worked with, or were close with, John Witherspoon spoke about his death over social media. “I’m devastated over the passing of John Witherspoon, Life won’t be as funny without him.” Ice Cube wrote on Twitter.

Another huge role John Witherspoon also played was the character, John “Pops” Williams, in the hit show The Wayans Bros, where he also played a father figure. “I’m sad. Broken. Hurt… yet extremely grateful to God that I got to spend 5 years of my life working with one of the funniest sweetest wisest humblest loving men,” Marlon Wayans, who played the son of John Witherspoon on The Wayans Bros, wrote on Instagram.

Many other celebrities including Regina King, Edie Murphy, Chris Tucker, and countless others sent their condolences and reminiscing about the times they shared with John Witherspoon.

John Witherspoon is survived by his wife and two sons. 

Fun Halloween candy…for next year

Halloween has passed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a jump on next year. Here are some candy ideas for the next time October 31st comes around.

Hershey’s Glow in the Dark:

Hershey’s chocolate and Reeses peanutbutter cups are delicious, right? Imagine getting these on Halloween but glow in the dark. They are fun chocolates that taste exactly the exact same as the traditional ones. You can buy 230 of these fun sized treats with $20. 

Reese’s Peanut butter cup eyeballs:

Add a twist to your candy bowl and give out Reese’s in cool eyeball shapes. They are spooky mini treats. But don’t worry, they still taste like normal Reese’s peanut butter cups. They come in small packets. 

Reese’s Peanut Butter cup bats:

Not only can you get Reese’s looking like spooky eyeballs, but also Reese’s in the shape of bats. They are fun treats to get. They are available in individually wrapped punches for your convenience.  

Spooky cat marshmallow Peeps:

Remember those yellow Peeps you would get for Easter? Now you can get some more Halloween festive ones to hand out. They’re purple and full of sugar. Trick or treaters will love them.

Cookies and Creams M and M’s:

Now you can get cookies and cream M and M’s. They come in dark and white Halloween festive colors. Spice up your candy collection with these. They taste like the yummy cookies and cream flavor along with the traditional chocolate.  

Layton Greene

Layton Greene was born in Missouri, on December 4, 1998. She became an overnight star in late 2017, when she made a video of herself singing Kodak Black’s “Roll in Peace”; it went viral with millions of views.

After the video went viral, she went into the studio with producer G-Styles and recorded an extended version of the song.

After that, she jumped into the top 15 of Billboard’s Hot R&B songs chart, and record labels started to take an interest in her.

“I always felt I was destined for this,’’ she said. “I try to find the light in every situation. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was going to be a professional singer. I knew I would be famous one day. I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I just knew it would.’’

She then introduced her new album two months ago Tell Your Story so the world could get to know her. The album is also about the struggles she has faced in life. She hopes that the new album also inspires others to tell their stories, and let others get to know them.

The 7th  song, “I Love You” has around a 5 million views on YouTube. It’s about a former flame and their toxic relationship.

Her love for music has attracted fans all over the world. Her voice is great and it fits the overall theme of the song “I Love You,” and the lyrics are enjoyable. Her lyrics are worth listening to again and again.

Overall, I would give Greene’s song a 9/10.

‘Skyrim’ for Nintendo Switch

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, is an open world RPG made by Bethesda, which, as we all know and agree upon, is the best video game developer in history. The reason it’s called Skyrim is because they were to lazy so simply say “horizon.” In Skyrim, you play as the Dragonborn, a mythical hero with the blood and soul of a dragon, that can speak the language of dragons, but spends the entire game killing dragons.

Skyrim starts out with you being taken towards your execution, with some other side characters that will either die in a few minutes or will never come up again. Actually, they might. I don’t know, I haven’t beaten this game yet. 

When you get to the execution, you get to create your character, by which I mean you pick from 9 playable races and spend way too much time deciding facial features that will never come up or aren’t noticeable. You also get to pick a name, which doesn’t matter either, because the game has voice acting and might not be able to pronounce your name. 

And you’re off, as a dragon attacks the execution and ironically saves you from being beheaded. After spending the first few minutes with your hands tied, you finally make it to a safe area with either an imperial soldier or a rebel (the choice doesn’t matter, you go through the same dungeon to escape from the town anyway). On your way out, you learn useful mechanics, like sneaking, fighting, and how much bows suck.

Once you finish the first dungeon, you have access to all of Skyrim. The guy you escaped with will give you a quest marker, but you can ignore it and just sorta do what you want. In my first session, I traveled to the northeast and ended up in this one town with a murder mystery, and I had to help solve it.

“Cool!” I thought. “What could go wrong with this?”

Everything. First of all, Skyrim has a problem with quests. The menu you access that shows your quests is bland and unorganized, and it doesn’t do a good job of showing which quests you want to do. 

Secondly, the game has a mini-map problem. A compass at the top of the screen will always show which way you are headed, and marks the directions of stuff like the nearest town. However, it also marks quest trackers. Here’s the problem: Every objective in the quest is marked, meaning to complete a quest, you basically just have to go where your mini-map tells you to.

I ended up abandoning the quest and decided to play the actual game. Speaking of the game, how does it play? Well enough, I would say. Except for motion controls. Motion controls suck. Don’t use them. 

For basic controls, you have two buttons mapped to each hand to use whatever is in that hand. If you have a shield in your left hand, and a sword in your right then those buttons will either use the sword to attack or block with the shield. If you are holding a two-handed sword, then you attack with the right hand button and block with the left. At first, I had a difficult time with the controls, but then I realized you can change any buttons to do anything in the settings menu, so I got over it pretty quick.

There are basically two pause menus: one for saving, settings, and stuff like that, and another for actual gameplay. The gameplay pause menu has four branches: Inventory, Map, Magic, and Skills. Inventory and Map are self explanatory, and the only thing you need to know about the Magic menu is that it also shows your active affects, like any poisons or disease you have, as well as your powers, like Amiibo support and dragon shouts, which we’ll get into later.

But the Skills menu is special. You have about 30 different skills, like one-handed, alchemy, sneak, restoration, etc. The more you use a skill, the more you level it up on a scale from about 10 to 100. When you level up a skill, you also get experience, which goes to leveling up your character. When you level up your character, you can choose between increasing your magic, stamina, or health, and also get to pick one feature from a certain skill, like increasing the damage of two handed weapons, healing more hit points from restoration spells, or being able to sell anything to any type of merchant.

It’s worth mentioning that this game is freaking huge! I’ve been playing for 10+ weeks and haven’t come close to discovering everything. My quest log is flooded with quests, both main and side, and I haven’t even been to every major town yet. However, the size of the game doesn’t always work in it’s favor.

See, Skyrim is what is known as an “RPG”, which means role-playing game. Role-playing means taking on the role of someone else and acting as they would, like playing pretend with rules. The RPG category is pretty broad, so normally I wouldn’t discredit a game for how it handles character interactions, but Skyrim is a special case. 

In Skyrim, when you are in a character interaction, you will have several dialogue options to choose from. Most of the time, the options they game gives you are pretty diverse, so you can make your character, at least in your eyes, friendly, hostile, sassy, basically any personality you want or can invision on your character. Sometimes the options are pretty sparse, but every game with detailed character interactions is like this, so I’m willing to let it slide.

“But Oliver,” you ask. “How does the character interactions have anything to do with the size of the world?”

I’ll tell you. The world of Skyrim is so huge you are bound to get distracted by anything and everything. Every side quest offers new possibilities for adventure, so of course you’re going to delay the main quest. But the size of Skyrim’s map means the game is going to be much longer, and in between play sessions the average player is going to forget what they are doing.

This means that you don’t really care about the character interactions because you just want to go onto your next quest by following the marker on the minimap. This issue is made even worse by the fact that all of the dungeons are very similar, and so is the quest design. 

Most quests follow the same formula: Go to a town, talk to a guy, now talk to another guy, now go complete a dungeon, and then go back to these guys called the “Greybeards,” which are sort of like your protectors to learn a new Shout, which is a special power only you and the Greybeards have.

Despite the formulaic plot structure, I really like some of the plot design in Skyrim. It focuses on certain “wow” moments that you get when playing, like fighting your first dragon, and hearing the “Song of the Dragonborn” play in the background. Another example is a remarkable character interaction, like when you find out that the innkeeper in the first town is secretly part of this underground organization.

By far my favorite dungeon was the one where you had to sneak into a party for a bunch of royal snobs and then sneak out and find information the host was hiding. It was a super unique quest, and I remember every aspect of it fondly. There was even this one part where I interrogated a prisoner and then punched him to death, and a glitch activated where he flew out of his chains and started flailing around on the floor for 30 seconds. It was surprising, not intended by the game developers, and honestly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

Unlike other RPGs, there are no classes in Skyrim, but the game is designed around three unique play styles: Thief, Warrior, and Mage. Thieves focus on the lock picking and sneak skills, and try to get critical hits by sneaking up on enemies. Warriors tend to use a variety of weapons and level up their one handed, two handed, block, and heavy armor skills. Mages focus on upgrading their magic, and skills like destruction, restoration, illusion, and conjuration skills, which are all different types of magic.

What I like about this system is that you can choose what you want to do with your level up abilities. Your character can be whatever you want, and it’s not really limited to the three main play styles. For example, I played a Warrior, but spent some of my levels into increasing my restoration skill, so on paper I was like a Paladin, which if you don’t know, are holy warriors that derive healing magic from their gods. If you wanted to be a Ranger, you could focus on the archery skill and also have some conjuration spells to summon a beastly companion. There are so many options.

Even if you don’t play a Mage, you have access to some magic called, “Shouts,” that you learn from those Greybeard people I mentioned. They will teach you how to do it, you can equip them in the Magic menu to the special powers button. Each one has a unique effect, like one pushes people away from you and another just sets everything on fire. The best part about them is that they don’t require magic to use, and instead have a cooldown timer, so that anyone can use them and no play style is better at them than others.

Oh yeah, this is the Switch port of Skyrim, so I have to talk about Amiibo. Amiibo can be used once per day, and when they are used, a Breath of the Wild style chest falls from the sky. 90% of the time, it will contain useless ingredients, but you have an off chance of getting some rare Breath of the Wild gear, like Link’s blue “Champion’s Tunic,” or even the Master Sword. I actually got the Champion’s Tunic, but died before I saved, so I didn’t get to keep it. It’s okay, because you can find both of them hidden on the actual game, so you don’t need Amiibo to get them.

I could talk about this game forever. To recount all of my adventurers would take hours and several more pages, so I’ll leave it out with this: Skyrim is a great game, and I would recommend it to anyone, but only if you have the time. If you’re in it for the long haul, just sit back and relax, and don’t expect a super engaging story. My only complaint is that there should be more to do on the title menu so you have an excuse to listen to the title theme for longer.

My final rating for this game is a 9/10.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj was born in the Caribbean but moved to New York when she was 5 years old. Nicki Minaj’s father was a drug addict with a long history of violence.

At the age of 12, Minaj casted her own first rap. Minaj then decided to go into acting at LaGuardia High School of Music and Arts. But her acting career didn’t do as well as she wanted it to, so she went into music and started to write her own songs.

She was then found by the Dirty Money CEO Fendi, who signed her to his label. From there on, Nicki Minaj’s music went well.

Nicki Minaj has recently announced that she has gotten married to a rapper from New York named Kenneth Petty. They both teased the internet for a long time hinting about their upcoming marriage.

Nicki Minaj posted an Instagram photo of two matching mugs that said “Mrs and Mr” and baseball caps that said “bride and groom.”

Also, she announced that she got married October 21st. They met in Sutherland Jamaica, Queens back in elementary school and they became childhood sweethearts. 

They announced their relationship last December. In January 2019, Nicki said on twitter “we were like this about earlier since we were very young kids in the hood.”

On her “Queen” radio show on Apple Music in August, she revealed that her and her fiancé were going to get married in 80 days.

Nicki Minaj’s husband committed crimes in the past. One of them was attempted rape in 1995, and he was guilty of manslauhter in 2006. He is labeled as a level 2 sex offender because of the 1995 rape conviction.

Nicki Minaj responded to fans about Petty’s past and she stated that the girl he allegedly raped was 15 and he was 16 and how they were in a relationship.

Book review on ‘Red Queen’

 

“I grew up wondering if I’d have enough food for supper; now I’m standing in a palace about to be eaten alive” – Mare Barrow

This quote is from the book: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. 

This is the first book of Victoria Aveyard’s four book series. It is a fantasy novel for young adults. The book has a dystopian type of atmosphere and it contains a lot of action through the entire novel. It has a hint of romance throughout the novel as well. 

The novel is based on the separation of different groups of people. There are those born with red blood and those with silver blood. The Reds (those born with red blood) are born as normal human beings, unlike the Silvers (those born with silver blood) who are born with supernatural powers that allow them to control certain things. 

Mare Barrow, a Red, lives her life in poverty alongside her family and other Reds. She steals in order to try and keep her family stable. One day while she is stealing she meets a mysterious man and the next thing she knew she was working for the King. 

At the King’s palace, she realizes that she has a supernatural power like the Silvers. All Silvers in the different powerful houses witness Mare’s supernatural power. The fact that she is a Red with powers could disrupt the hierarchy that the King rules over, so the King decides to give her a fake identity. 

The rest of the book tells of her journey as a Silver with Red blood.

The book jumps straight into the problems with the society and the harsh conditions that Mare and other Reds must face. The book keeps a consistent pace when revealing information and when placing action throughout the plot. 

The book has a slight touch of humor with Mare’s intriguing and stubborn personality. The book keeps the reader interested, hanging off the edge of their seat to find out what will happen next. 

I would give this book a 5/5.

Lori Harvey Accident

Lori Harvey, a business woman and model on Instagram, and on many other platforms, who is also the stepdaughter of the television host and comedian, Steve Harvey, recently got arrested during a car accident that turned into a hit and run incident on the 200 block of Moreno drive in Los Angeles, California, according to the Beverly Hills Police Department. Lori Harvey got a hit and run citation for hitting a parked car and for leaving the scene at around 9 p.m. on October 20th.

She was stopped and cited right after the accident, but she wasn’t at the scene so was not booked for the crime.

According to OK Magazine, a witness that saw it all happen claimed that Lori Harvey hit a parked car that caused it to flip over. The eyewitness also stated that, allegedly, Lori Harvey was texting and driving when she hit the parked car. The witness also claimed that she tried to help Lori Harvey out of her car but then she the drove off.

Steve Harvey hasn’t commented on Lori’s recent arrest at all.

Steve Harvey married Marjorie Harvey, Lori’s mother, in June of 2007, and he’s also the stepfather to 2 of Marjorie Harvey’s other kids: Jason and Morgan. According to the Beverly Hills police Department, Lori Harvey got arrested on two counts, “misdemeanor hit and run, and delaying a police investigation at 9:48pm on October 20th after she rolled her vehicle.”

Since the accident occurred on Sunday, October 20th, Lori Harvey hasn’t spoken about the incident on social media or to any news outlets since it occurred. Thankfully, this accident didn’t cause or result in any serious or terrible injuries to anyone.

Boo!

By: Vivian

I have never been the biggest fan of the horror genre. I cannot even remember ever seeing a horror movie over my entire life. But recently, I have become somewhat fascinated with the genre, so I set out to discover more about it.

Literaryterms.com defines horror as a fiction genre made to inspire feelings of fear, dread, repulsion, and terror in the audience. It feeds on ideas that have bothered humans for centuries, and delves into our deepest fears.

There are many different types of horror; gothic horror, supernatural horror, and non-supernatural horror are listed on the website. If you want an example of a horror story, read practically anything by Edgar Allan Poe.

Masterclass gives you a few tips on how to write horror. They say that you should use your own real life experiences, remembering things that used to be creepy to you, or other things to put a more sinister spin on. They also suggest you write the title first so you can draw on a whole host of ideas from it. You might also want to write the ending first so that you know what will happen and can put twists and turns throughout the story to both mislead your reader and set up the conclusion. They also say to use cliffhangers and plot twists to keep your reader hooked, but those tips could be argued that unless done right they become a bit annoying. 

Other sites have other tips, for example Nownovel.com talks about word choice and creating an unsettling tone or mood. They also advise that you read plenty of horror so you can observe how others write. It also compares the horror and tragedy genres, and the same elements both use. Tragedy is born out of character flaws and the choices they make, and so is horror. 

So, now I had to wonder, why do some people like this genre when I normally avoid it like the plague? Science Daily suggests that people actually enjoy feeling scared and other “negative” emotions in horror films, not just waiting for the payoff, while other arguments seem to be that people enjoy the payoff. Instead of feeling fear, some people feel excited, or full of adrenaline, and that makes everything more vivid.

Even now, after reading multiple articles on why people like horror, and how to write it, I am not fully sure I understand it, but I am definitely going to keep looking into it.

Highlights from the recent Apple event

Everyone knows about Apple. The extremely successful company has grown over the years and has created many revolutionary products of our time, like the iPhone. Recently, they had an event where they showcased some of the new products they were releasing this year. Here are some of the highlights:

New iPad

The newest iPad is better and cheaper than ever, with a starting price of just $329. That’s a great price considering the iPad is like a computer and many people use iPads on a daily basis for work and school.

The new iPad also has a 100% recycled aluminum body and comes with a free, year-long subscription to Apple TV+. We’ll get to that later.

Apple Watch Series 5

This announcement was expected at the event, but nevertheless was exciting. This new Apple Watch has many new features that can make your life much easier. Some of these features include a new compass function, and many health-monitoring features, including a heart rate monitor and an emergency phone call function if you can’t access your phone.

The best new feature is an always-on feature, where the display of the watch never turns off, which is very useful.

Apple Arcade and Apple TV+

Some of the software features announced were the Apple Arcade and Apple TV+.  Apple Arcade is a subscription service that allows access to a wide variety of games to be played on your iPad or iPhone. There were over 100 titles released when it launched on September 19, from big game companies like Capcom and Konami.

The other subscription service announced was Apple TV+. Apple TV+ is, when boiled down, Apple’s take on a television streaming service, similar to Netflix or Hulu. The service has original TV shows and movies, and is set to release on November 1st for $5 a month.

iPhone 11

The announcement of the night, that had to take the cake, was the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro. These new iPhones have tons of new features that top them from their previous models, especially the iPhone 11 Pro. It comes with 3 cameras, which includes an ultrawide camera lense. This lense is used to take very wide photos that look amazing, and it is considered the greatest camera on a mobile phone, ever.

 

Apple has created a wide list of products, and is improving on them now more than ever. These products are designed to be integrated into our everyday life and match with our lifestyle. Apple products have many uses, and can help make our lives easier.