Category Archives: OPINIONS

Music Reviews


By: Daniel de Lisle

Guest Writer

  1. “Fireflies”- Owl City

In the song “Fireflies,” singer, songwriter, and producer Adam Young (aka Owl City) has mined for success and struck one-hit wonder gold with nothing but a boyish charm, extensive music production, and I can only imagine a full load of tenacity. Finding this song appealing is a lot like doing drugs—most young people have done it at some point and a lot them still do.

The upbeat, techno pop verses are catchy and the simple piano/guitar/rhythm chorus pairs with his voice nicely while building the song as it progresses. The melody lines flow and the singing is adequate but makes use of many studio tricks; hardly noteworthy. Often the lyrics air on the side of sanguine; words that are too sweet for words.

The extensive production makes for a passionless song that limits itself to being no more than a pop break from your average day. With a real drummer, a good guitarist, a little less Kanye and a little more Swift, Owl City could be capable of some great progressive music. For now though they will remain everyone’s dirty shame of 2009.

2. “Party in the USA”- Miley Cyrus

A lot of people would expect me to bag on this song, and those people are going to be disappointed. I actually like this song; it’s got a catchy guitar rhythm, unobtrusive although lackluster drums, and some interesting synth sound effects that somehow manage to add to the chorus. If anyone besides Miley sang this song I would be happy… but I’m not.

My problem with this song is record executives. Song writers are contracted to write songs for famous artists which big name record labels like Atlantic or Columbia buy the rights to for dirt cheap. Every time Miley is going to release some new product, the executives at Hollywood Records will hand her a single and spend a month in a recording studio waiting for her to sing a part perfect once, then cut and paste those correct takes into a Frankenstein song.

That is how you get things like Ms. Cyrus’s seemingly “perfect every time” vocal flailing on this otherwise decent song. I blame the record executives because they are greedy and know Miley brings home the bacon. If they actually cared about music they would give the good songs to someone who could sing them and not sound like a fire truck being repeatedly beaten to death by auto-tune. It’s shenanigans like this that keep Kurt Cobain dead.

3. “Bad Romance”- Lady Gaga

I want to get one thing straight—I love Lady Gaga, whatever the hell she is. If you strip away all the crazy outfits, ridiculous lyrics, and alleged man bits, you are left with one of the most powerful voices in pop today. “Bad Romance” sounds like what would happen if Cher and Techno music got freaky together.

Gaga brought her characteristic ear-catching lyrics, artful melodies, and bold voice to the table with the kind of production, sound effects, and song writing that only a star can buy. The song has just enough variation to keep you interested the whole way through and seems to have borrowed tricks from Madonna, Daft Punk, and even the French—not bad company in my opinion.

With the release of her sophomore album and a great first single, all doubts in my mind have been suspended—I expect to see Lady Gaga lead the techno-pop genre well into the next decade.

-Daniel de Lisle is a Whatcom student and local musician who claims a background in Jazz, Funk, Ska, Classical, Rock, and Pop music. He has played trombone with groups like Snug Harbor, the WWU Jazz Program, the Whatcom Wind Symphony, and the WCC Jazz Ensemble.

He has also played as a guest artist with the Acorn Project, The Love Lights, and the Thomas Harris Quartet. Daniel has recorded on four CDs, including Snug Harbor’s “Sounds from the York,” which has been nominated by What’s Up! Magazine for the CD of the Year Award.

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How Fruitcakes Could Save Christmas


By Matt Benoit

Ah, the holiday season. Candy canes and Christmas wreaths abound, the smell of gingerbread and egg nog lingers in the air, the soothing sounds of Christmas carols echo through the cold winter wind, and people everywhere put aside differences to wish each other well in a warm and gentle spirit.

Yeah, right. Of course you didn’t buy that—it’s too much like a Hallmark card version of the holidays. The real holidays look more like Martha Stewart on crack cocaine (“White Christmas,” anyone?)

People invade malls like Vikings with credit cards to pillage expensive gifts, neighbors put giant inflatable figures in their yards and string up enough lights to make their homes vaguely resemble Indian casinos, and family members we really don’t want to see show up (sometimes “unannounced,” because, oh boy, it’s a “surprise”!).

And last but not least, there are fruitcakes.

The Microsoft Encarta dictionary on my computer actually gives the definition of fruitcake as “cake with dried fruit in it,” containing, among other things, sultanas, which are—also according to the Encarta dictionary—the female relatives of a sultan. Either that, or they’re dried grapes. I’m not entirely sure.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, though, gives the official definition of the fruitcake as “a brick-like holiday gift which nobody ever eats that is traditionally rewrapped and sent to relatives you don’t like very much.”

It is unknown how the fruitcake got its start (heavy drinking is our guess), but the first fruitcake was thought to have been given as a “gag” gift, which is to say that the recipients of the gift started gagging after attempting to eat it. Today, not much has changed, as being given a fruitcake is about as meaningful as Tiger Woods’ wedding vows.

But that may soon change thanks to the federal government. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it would create a new batch of 50 million fruitcakes in order to help stimulate the sagging U.S. economy and replace the current fleet of aging desserts.

The last batch of 22 million fruitcakes was created in 1984 at the behest of President Ronald Reagan, and almost all of them continue to circulate the globe each year thanks to the United States Postal Service and package couriers like UPS and FedEx.

The hope is that the new project will help rejuvenate the economy and lessen unemployment by creating an estimated 25,000 jobs associated with the production and shipping of the fruit-filled cakes.

“Look, we do realize that nobody eats these pieces of crap,” said FDA spokesperson Givmea Bite, “but c’mon—these are getting a little hard even by traditional Fruitcake Hardness Standards (FHS).”

Bite demonstrated the need for replacement cakes by showing Congress a video in which one of the 1984 fruitcake models was dropped off a 27-story building and onto the roof of Tiger Woods’ Cadillac Escalade. The cake, dropped by Woods’ wife, ripped straight through the vehicle’s roof and floorboard, leaving a three-foot deep crater in the pavement where it landed beneath the vehicle. The cake was projected to be traveling at 258 mph at the moment of impact.

President Obama agreed with the plan, saying in a press conference at the White House that the current fruitcakes have become “unreasonably hard” and adding that it would be “unpleasant to think of the destruction they might cause if they were to fall into the wrong hands.”

Obama’s remark immediately brought back memories to many of the infamous “fruitcake bomber,” Eim Eaten Al Yurfood, who was tackled by passengers on a United Airlines flight in Dec. of 2001 when they noticed him trying to light the fuse on a fruitcake he had carried on-board the aircraft.

Obama ended his speech on an inspirational note, saying, “There is hope for the fruitcake, there is hope for the economy, and there is hope for America. God bless you and happy holidays.”

That type of uplifting message reminds me of that classic 1947 film, “The Fruitcake That Ruined Christmas,” starring Jimmy Stewart. It contains, of course, the famous line perhaps best capturing the essence of the fruitcake, which is: “Every time a bell rings, Tiger Woods will probably have to make a child support payment.”

Anyway, in closing, I have to admit something—I’ve never actually received a fruitcake as a gift, apparently because nobody hates me that much (although I did receive a combination personal groomer/nose hair trimmer one year).

But I have the strange feeling that, this Christmas, I just might get one. Also, Tiger Woods is definitely going to be on the naughty list.

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New winter classes and clubs you’ll wanna check out…maybe


By Matt Benoit

Well, it’s almost the end of the quarter, and that can only mean one thing: free beer on campus! No, wait, that’s not it. Actually, it means finals, but it also means signing up for your next quarter’s-worth of classes (which hopefully will not be the same ones you took this quarter).

So, in the interest of serving you, the student, I thought I’d share some of the new and interesting classes and clubs coming to Whatcom for winter quarter. Let’s take a look:


Navigation 100, with your instructors, Northwest Airlines pilots Timothy Cheney and Richard Cole. Learn how to overshoot your destinations by at least 150 miles!

Intro to Quail Hunting, with former vice president Dick Cheney. Bullet-proof vest recommended.

The Art of Bathroom Stall Graffiti (ART666)—Learn how to scribble racist, sexist, or just plain weird-ass crap onto the partitions of the college’s bathroom stalls in an aesthetically-pleasing manner.

Tone-deaf Choir (MUS126)—Do you notice people laughing, cringing, or putting in ear plugs any time you burst into song? Have you ever considered that you might be tone-deaf, and, as a result, a really crappy singer? Well, now’s your chance to find out. Open auditions will be held for students who can’t hold a note.

“2012—why we’re all gonna die!” (HIST149)—Learn about the prophecies of the end of days coming in 2012, and find out what to do when the world starts to crumble like a fractured saltine cracker, and we’re all totally screwed (except for John Cusack). Who needs that degree if you won’t be around to use it?

Penultimate Frisbee (PE146)-Not quite as good as Ultimate Frisbee, but pretty close.

Personal Finance 100 (BUS100) with your instructors, AIG’s board of directors and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Learn how to lose billions of dollars, and then just ask the government for more!

Ponzi Scheming 101 (BUS247), with guest lecturer Bernard Madoff. Prerequisite: Greed 100.

“Hiking the Appalachian Trail” (PE147), with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Features a field trip to Argentina.

Public Speaking 162 (CMST162), with instructors Kayne West and U.S. Representative Joe Wilson. Learn how to interrupt and sabotage the speeches and conversations of everyone from presidents to pop stars!

Texting Messaging 101 (CMST101)—Lern how to txt mess. in class w/o prof’s knowledge! OMG, ROTFL! UR MY BFF!

Northwest Winter Weather Systems (WET365), with Bernie Dougan. Learn about the winter weather systems of the great Northwest. Poncho required.

The Art of Losing (SUK202), with the Detroit Lions. Learn the advanced techniques needed to prevent your team from winning much of anything and ensuring the absence of postseason appearances. Prerequisites: Allowing the other team to score (SUK101), Who needs possession? (SUK100).

Community Ed Classes:

Transitioning into Retirement, with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.

Special seminar: “the art of debating”—Learn how to yell and scream about universal healthcare and the secret communist plots of Barack Obama, just like our nation’s top protestors! Obama-Hitler mustache posters WILL be available!

“Oh my God! What is that?”-How to control your reaction to seeing that big yellow orb in the sky, better known as the sun, during Northwest winters.

New clubs:

Sleep Deprivation Club-Meets at 2:30 a.m. every Monday. Bring a case of Red Bull and some NoDoz.  The club’s advisor, Sandy Mann, will shine a flashlight in your eyes once every hour to make sure you’re still awake.

Laziness Club—attendance, participation not required. Will meet when they “get around to it.”

“Twilight” Club—Turn into a young vampire and make really bad movies.

Student Failure Workshops:

“Ignoring the alarm clock and other new ways to ditch class”—“Hey man, this class is boring…why show up?”

“Homework? What homework?”—Learn how to treat the homework schedule less like a requirement and more like a suggestion.

“Where did all my money go?”-How to blow your budget on things like liquor, gambling, members of the opposite sex, and products sold on late-night infomercials.

“How to get on your instructor’s bad side”—Learn the fine techniques required to really push your luck with your professor, including mimicry and verbal abuse in the classroom, as well as sending several hundred e-mails to their in-box every day.

Procrastination Seminar—class has been postponed.

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What’s the first thing you’re going to do when school gets out for the quarter?

April Hinkel-Johnson Whatcom Voices


April Hinkel-Johnson –

“I’m gonna get my wisdom teeth pulled out.”



Jimmy Wilder Whatcom Voices


Jimmy Wilder –

“Spend Christmas break making music and buying presents.”


Jessica Perry Whatcom Voices


Jessica Perry –

“I’m going to continue taking high school courses and decorate my house for Christmas.”


Jason Simon Whatcom Voices


Jason Simon – 

“Enjoy my weekends, and hope that next quarter is easier.”


Jackson Brandt Whatcom Voices


Jackson Brandt –

“Get money and have fun.”



Armando Gomez Whatcom Voices


Armando Gomez –

“Spend money, like every day, as if it’s going out of fashion.”

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“Tragedy” is no tragedy


By Matt Benoit
Horizon Editor

Whatcom drama instructor Gerry Large says, in his director’s notes for the performances of Will Eno’s two one-act plays, that he considers Eno to be “the Eugene Ionesco of the Will Ferrell generation.” The New York Times called Eno “A Samuel Beckett for the John Stewart generation.”Play Review (2)
I don’t know what to call him, but I do know that after seeing a performance of two of his plays Nov. 19 in Whatcom’s Syre Black Box Theatre, that Whatcom’s drama department is an incredible bunch of actors.

The two one-act plays, “Intermission” and “Tragedy: A Tragedy,” ran from Nov. 18 to Nov. 21, and was their first big production of the quarter.
The first play, “Intermission,” is just what it sounds like—a short, 10 to 15 minute play that features two couples—one older, one younger—watching a play and then arguing and discussing it during the intermission.
It was well-acted by Erika Almskar, Colleen Ames, Rodney Dejager, and Garent Gerrity, who seems to have more dialogue than anyone else in the play. The wardrobes were also sharp, including Gerrity’s hair and beard, which was dusted with a gray powder to make him appear middle-aged.
The second performance, “Tragedy: A Tragedy,” is a satire of sorts on television news people, starting off with some really dramatic music and overall giving a great example of how fake and overly dramatized television news has all too often become.Play Review (1)
The stage is dark except for four spotlights, which shine on a studio anchor at his desk (played by Riley Penaluna) and three various field reporters (played by Emily Lester, Tim Greger, and faculty member John Gonzales.
In this case, the story the four people are covering is the seemingly permanent invasion of night, and the chaos this has created. As the play progresses, the four characters become increasingly loopy and struggle to keep from losing their minds as the “continuing coverage” simply continues and continues and continues…
The play, only a one-act, is actually quite long at around an hour in length.
Gonzales and Greger had, I thought, some of the funniest lines, including, “It’s the worst world in the world out here!” and “I’m at the First Congregational Church, where, incidentally, no one has gathered.” They also got to utter a few choice words of profanity the dialogue provides.
The humor incorporates both the physical (Gonzales does an excellent job at providing this, including one scene where he pretends to practice some kind of martial arts only to trip and fall over; he then returns to the scene drinking a beer) as well as the non-physical, with a lot of hyberbole, overexaggeraton, and dialogue that states the obvious.
Greger’s hair gets progressively messier and messier as the play goes on, and he gets to use the art of spin, commenting that the public should not focus on the fact that it’s dark, but rather, that it used to be light.
The anchors primp and fuss during their supposed “breaks,” and put on their fake confidence each time they go back “on-air.” It was very entertaining.Play Review
Overall, from the costumes to the lighting, both of these plays were well-worth the cost of admission. To borrow some lines from “Intermission,” the people were experienced and the cast was good.
“Do you get to the theatre often?”
Well, after seeing these performances, I think maybe you should.

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