Fans of the hit television show 24 were shocked last Monday as former FBI agent Renee Walker was killed off in the shows final season. A Russian operative shot Walker, played by Annie Wersching, after a passionate love-making scene with Jack Bauer. She later died in the hospital. Walker, who was introduced into the world of 24 in Day Seven, was a by-the-book character when first established to the audience. As her relationship with Bauer began to blossom, she, too, evolved into an entirely different character. Walker was a different type of character on the show for a variety of reasons, specifically because she was nearly a mirror image of Bauer. Because of this, many people would refer to her as "Jacqueline Bauer." "Obviously, that's quite an honor to share that title," Wersching said. "I got that a lot last year when [Walker] first came on the scene. It wasn't something we thought about or said when we were filming [Day Seven], so it was interesting to hear that it was the fan reaction. Again, he's a tragic hero, and, obviously, that's sort of ended up happening to her." While a lead character's death from the show isn't new to anyone, in the past, some stars have actually complained to Executive Producer Howard Gordon after reading the script and seeing their character's dying off. While Wersching initially wanted to plead for a chance for survival, the reasoning behind her character's death held her back. "At the top of the season they don't usually know all that much of what they want to do, so the fact that the one big thing they knew they wanted to do was to bring her back damaged, to have Jack have to sort of save her in more ways than one and have them finally get together and then have her be taken away from him, which leads to his path for the end of the series. I knew that that was pretty set in stone, a big thing that they wanted to do overall for the season," Wersching said. "I didn't beg too much. Obviously, they knew that I was very sad about it and upset, but those are the moments that make 24 so great." In Walker's final episode, both actors and actresses, along with producers from the show, wanted to make her final moments as strong as possible. For Wersching, Walker's death felt right, but it still brought about many questions in her mind. "Simply because I love the character so much, you always think of other ways that things could have happened. I kind of wish that the Jack/Renee love story-making would have maybe had its own episode to resonate and then maybe she got shot because that was a pretty huge deal," Wersching said. "There's a little part of me that was like bummed that those both happened in the same episode because that's really kind of getting overshadowed by the fact that she died. That was a huge moment for the show." According to Wersching, one major question was how long Walker and Bauer would spend in bed making love. Because the show is in a real-time format, decisions such as this have to be considered carefully, unlike many shows on the air today, because of the assumptions people could make simply due to a timing error. "Because he's Jack Bauer, there can't be like an eight-minute adventure, but we went through many different ways that it was going to be. We weren't even sure if were able to actually get them to the place where they were actually making love because of the real-time," Wersching said. " But they figured out finally sort of a way to do it, and it was interesting trying to see to, like, because they knew she was going to get shot right afterwards, so Jack couldn't be naked when he was carrying her to the hospital, so there had to be a way for him to sort of get a little bit of clothes on, but yet make it look like they were still going to go back and have more fun. The specifics were very interesting to figure out, but we were very aware that it needed to have the right amount of time." While the timing was a serious issue for those involved, the lovemaking scene itself was somewhat tough for Wersching and Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Bauer, because of the relationship they built throughout the past two seasons. But Walker's death made the scene somewhat easier to act. "Since I knew it was coming, I knew that I was pretty prepared for all of this," Wersching said. "However, we shot the lovemaking and the death, sort of both of those things, together over the two days, so it actually helped take away – Kiefer and I were so nervous about the love scene – that it sort of helped tame down the ‘oh, that Renee was getting shot' part. The whole thing was bittersweet. It was bittersweet to be able to shoot scenes with Kiefer where they finally get close and then straight into covered in blood. It was all pretty bittersweet." Throughout the entire series, episodes end with a clock ticking from the end of the 59th minute to the beginning of the next hour. In a majority of the episodes, beeping occurs in unison with the time changing. In few episodes, however, there is silence, which producers do in honor of lives lost by a main character, or if some other powerful moment occurs. Walker's character is the only character in the history of 24 to receive two silent clocks – other than Jack Bauer. The first clock occurred once in Day Seven after she was buried alive, and in Day Eight when she died from her gunshot wounds in the hospital. Wersching believes that this is a big deal for anyone who has acted on the set of 24. "It was a great honor, obviously," Wersching said. "Besides Jack, she was actually the only one to ever get two silent clocks, because there was a silent clock, with a little bit of breathing for Renee after she was buried alive in Episode 5 of Season 7, and I didn't even think about that. A complete honor, because I'm a fan of the show and I know the significance of the silent clock – a complete honor." Wersching was sucked into 24 for a variety of reasons prior to getting the opportunity to be a part of the show's universe. Specifically, how the show is presented to viewers is one reason why Wersching feels that it has succeeded for so long. "Well, definitely in the beginning, it was such a groundbreaking show, and there was nothing else like it on television. It's really like a little feature film every week with the ticking clock and the real-time aspect," Wersching said. "There's such an intensity to the show that at the end of the episode, it just leaves you wanting more which is how I think every television show should be." While most fans are upset following March 26's announcement that the series was officially ending, Wersching felt that all is not lost. "There were always sort of rumors going around through the crew," Wersching said. "We knew it wasn't necessarily looking great, but everybody had high hopes. I think the fact that the movie is sort of lurking out there in the future was something that at least was something sort of to look forward to, knowing that you will at least see Jack again." E-mail: email@example.com
In February, The Fall of Troy announced that their spring tour would end the band's eight year run. In response, music lovers of all shapes, genders, sizes and fashions flocked to Mohawk Place in Buffalo on Wednesday to give the group a truly memorable send off.
Crafting a world of myth and magic is a hefty job. Take it from renowned Dungeons & Dragons writer Keith Baker. Artfully weaving a story that's as complex as it is compelling, famed game writer Keith Baker attended this year's UBCon. Greeted by a crowd of gaming enthusiasts, Baker helped bring this year's event to new heights. Baker first earned recognition when he won the Wizards of the Coasts' Fantasy Setting Search in 2002 with his self-generated campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. The award granted him an unprecedented $100,000 grand prize for his stylized, battle hardened world known as Eberron. He described his highly acclaimed campaign as, "the logical evolution of society and magic as humanity enters a time [just] after a long period of warfare." A few lucky gamers were given the opportunity this past weekend to experience the D&D campaign like never before: through the eyes of its creator. Baker gave 12 Dungeons and Dragons fans a game of epic proportions, or at least what could fit into the four-hour block allotted for the event. Baker, himself, played the role of the dungeon master. A dungeon master, or DM for short, is one who controls the story and flow of the game by controlling the monsters and non-player characters who inhabit the world. "For the first game of Dungeons and Dragons I've ever played, it was nothing like what I expected it to be. It was a lot of fun," said Michael Doohaluk, a freshman computer science major. Dungeons and Dragons has existed in one form or another for 35 years. Since the game's introduction, its popularity has grown to astounding numbers, with estimates of about 20 million people who have wielded the infamous d20 dice. When asked for some tips on becoming a better DM, Baker stated a few basic strategies to help players feel more connected to their setting and have a better overall experience. Going against the ideas of version 3.5, Baker's first bit of wisdom warns participants not to "make a dice roll you don't want to succeed, nor make one that you want to fail. Everything doesn't need to be a dice roll, and every dice roll doesn't necessarily need to count. That's what the DM screen is for." This advice leads into his next point of trying to work with the players to build a game that everyone is able to enjoy. "Too often are the DMs working against the player when they should be working together to make a collaborative fun experience," Baker said. Baker's last piece of advice for gamers was one that should be carried into all aspects of life. "The only way you can fail, is if you don't have fun," he said. Those words embody the spirit of the game. In an era where stories are too often told through the big screen or over the dull hum of a CPU fan, gamers need a realm where creativity just flows naturally and players of all ages can be storytellers with a unique tale to tell. Baker has spent the past few months traveling internationally, staying with fans of the game and writing articles for Dungeons and Dragons Insider. Baker said that freelancing gave him more freedom than a desk job at Wizards would. His Eberron campaign book is filled with signatures and stories from past players and those who partook in this past weekend's events are now archived in that book for another generation of D&D fans to admire years from now. Baker has also been working on a table-top card game called Gloom, in which players attempt to make their character as miserable as possible through a series of unfortunate events, while attempting to make their neighbors happier through event cards. Though nothing is explicitly planned for this year, Baker is hard at work developing scenarios for D&D Insider while still creating his own campaign. In the meantime, he will be traveling around the country, allowing others the chance to attempt to decipher the cryptic plot-points of this traveling storyteller. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nations engaged in a bloody war, witches and wizards cursing each other and, to top it all off, brain-craving zombies running amok. Who knew all of this could happen at UB? The 21st annual UBCON kicked off last Friday and ran nonstop until Sunday. With hundreds of fans in attendance, dozens of events taking place and violent battles fought throughout, this year's UBCON was an impressive sight to behold. For those who put so much time and effort into this event, nothing was more important than providing the fans and attendees with the best weekend that they possibly could. "This is a big thing ... [Strategies and Role Players Association] and Anime Club, all together to give all these people here a really fun weekend. There's a reason why people stay here all weekend without getting a single hour of sleep," said Christopher Wood, a first year graduate student. There was no shortage of interests at UBCON over the weekend. The staff went out of its way to arrange enough events to cover a wide and varied range of personal tastes. This way there was plenty to see and do for everyone in attendance. "There's a lot of magic playing, there's LARP [Live Action Role Playing], people play board games, people play video games. It's a fun place," said Wood. Though the card games, board games and costumes were as striking as they were numerous, for many it was the infamous Nerf war that drew them to UBCON. For both Friday and Saturday night, UB's Student Union played host to one of the largest Nerf wars in North America, according to UBCON's Web site. The game lasted over six hours and was comprised of over 100 players. However, there was more to the war than just point and shoot. "They choose ten people to start off as zombies. Literally everyone else, which is almost 100 people, has to kill them. But if you get killed by a zombie once … then you turn into one. There's also a team death match, which is self-explanatory, and capture the flag, which is also self-explanatory," said Ben Fox, 18, Amherst. But even if attendees did not come prepared to play, UBCON had them covered with the Dealer's Room. Inside SU 145, attendees could find a marketplace brimming with everything any anime or gaming fan could ever want or need. One wall had dozens of board games for sale. Another boasted a collection of various jewelry and clothing. Also for sale were cards, drawings, weapons, action figures and assorted candy from across the globe. The Dealer's Room was a conglomeration of everything that brought UBCON fans together. Even more impressive than the amount of items for sale inside the Dealer's Room, however, was the everlasting battle for glory taking place on the field right outside of the Student Union. Dozens of warriors from all over had gathered to battle one another in the full-contact sport of Dagorhir on North Campus. "There are groups of us all over the country that do this," said Ben Jackson, a senior Spanish education major from Buffalo State. "Basically, it's a full-contact combat simulation sport … We try to be as realistic as we can while still being safe." The battlefield was filled with players garbed in multicolored uniforms and armors, brandishing weapons. While the weapons themselves were harmless and created out of foam, the armor was as real as could be. "You're allowed to wear armor, which has to be authentic, meaning that it has to be made out of real materials that historically people made armor out of … If you wear armor, you feel it. It's a lot heavier; its limits your mobility. But it gives you an additional shot in any portion of your body that's wearing it," said Jackson. For fans of cards, board games, anime or just beating up someone else, this year's UBCON had something for just about anyone. UBCON will return next year, but it'll take some magic to make it better than this year's event. E-mail: email@example.com
Groin thrusts, dancing and outlandish facial hair were abundant as Foxy Shazam nearly tore down the walls at Mohawk Place Tuesday night. Hundreds of bands pop up every day with the same goal: to become the next big thing. Many have attempted this somewhat impossible task with very few actually succeeding. After their visit to WRUB Day, Foxy Shazam got ready to put on a show that Buffalo will not soon forget. Foxy, who is well known for their on-stage antics, headlined one of the best tours to stop in Buffalo in quite some time. The band's five-year experience was evident, as every member of Foxy knew how to dazzle the crowd. From stellar dance moves to amazing balancing acts, the band's show made sure that nobody will be forgetting Foxy Shazam. Leading the on-stage frolics was front man Eric Nally, whose performance knows no bounds. Hanging from the pipes upside down and rolling around on the ground is just the tip of the iceberg for Nally. Right from the opening chords, Foxy had the crowd eating from their hands. The band quickly moved through fan favorites like "Yes! Yes! Yes!" while also getting into new material like "Count Me Out." Although Nally may be one of the most extravagant singers, the supporting cast of Foxy didn't let him steal the spotlight. Every member of Foxy Shazam had their own style for entertaining the crowd. Classically trained pianist Sky White is as eccentric as the beard that rests on his face. White jammed out on the piano while lying down, face underneath the bottom of the keyboard and didn't miss a note. The brass section might not be Foxy's most prominent feature, but Alex Nauth sported some ridiculous dance moves that complimented Nally's antics about as well as anyone could, and added some glass shattering backup vocals. As Foxy stormed through their itinerary, they did a great job mixing the fan favorites with material from their upcoming self-titled album. The crowd erupted as Foxy played "Introducing Foxy" and "The Rocketeer." The pinnacle of the show was when Nally started to smoke four cigarettes at once. He must have decided that he didn't like cowboy killers since a couple of drags in, Nally turned the death sticks around and started eating all four at once. It may have been unconventional, but the crowd ate it up. To end their tenure at Mohawk Place, Foxy Shazam played the cult classic "No, Don't Shoot." The crowd exploded into a massive mosh pit, and as Nally ended the show he pulled out all the tricks. Head banging, dangling from the ceiling, and brutal breakdowns left the crowd begging for more Foxy. Before Foxy Shazam took the stage, Bad Rabbits, hailing from Boston, got the crowd moving with their unique style. Combining rock and funk, the band had the crowd dancing as soon as they took the stage. Their high-energy show is unmatched by many in the music industry. The only people having more fun than the crowd during Bad Rabbits were the actual members of Bad Rabbits. The deeper Bad Rabbits got into their set, the deeper the audience fell in love with the band's sound. There is no way that Bad Rabbits will not blow up. Their unique style and energetic live show puts them a head above the rest. In between the two sets, The Young Veins took the stage. Riding on the fame they garnered from Panic! At The Disco, The Young Veins serenaded their preteen Twilight fans with a bad Beatles knockoff. Opening the evening was the local band Raspberry Infernos. Their trippy grunge rock sound was the perfect way to start the night. When the lights faded to black, the crowd knew that they had just witnessed one of the best shows that will come through Buffalo for a while. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A diverse crowd of blues fans filled the Center For the Arts on Wednesday to see blues guitar legend Buddy Guy. To start the evening off, Buffalo native Tom Hambridge warmed up the crowd. Less was more with Hambridge's performance, as the only instruments used during the performance were a keyboard, played by Guy's pianist Marty Sammon, and Hambridge's single drum, with improvised percussion on microphone stands. The singer/songwriter/producer began with a song that he wrote for George Thorogood, "The Fixer." A few songs in, Hambridge slowed things down with "Shoebox," a song the audience requested. One of Hambridge's last songs, before he gave the stage to the headlining guitar virtuoso, was "I Got Your Country Right Here" – a song Hambridge wrote, but has gotten Gretchen Wilson some radio airtime. Guy's band gave him a booming introduction, and the crowd's welcome was just as loud. Not a second was wasted; Guy began playing the lightening-quick licks he is known for as soon as he hit the stage. Once Guy began to play, two things became evident: why he is a legend and the impact he's had on artists like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. The band rocked out to fan favorite "Nobody Understands Me But My Guitar," before giving a great performance of the blues standard "Hoochie Coochie Man," which had Guy and backup guitarist Ric Hall trading licks. In honor of the less than pleasant weather, the band played the beautiful blues ballad "It Feels Like Rain." The weathered musician let the audience know how much he loves the city of Buffalo, and that he has been coming here since 1968. Guy told fans to be on the lookout for his next album, but he was unsure when it would be out because of the way his genre is treated. "You don't hear blues on the radio anymore, but if you call me I'll come play it for you," Guy said. Guy then graced the audience with a little history and blues lesson, saying that bluesmen had been playing songs that people loved for years after the British invasion. He also said that blues musicians used the same type of provocative lyrics as hip-hop long before the latter genre was around. Continuing the lesson, Guy played samples of different blues styles, ranging from John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" to Eric Clapton's "Strange Brew" to a number by B.B. King, which he travelled into the audience for. Before ending the night on a high note, Guy thanked the audience. "I love every one of you; you couldn't make me dislike you no matter what you do," said Guy. Rounding out the end of the night, Guy played the blues/rock classic "Voodoo Child" into "Sunshine of Your Love." Although the musician has had 73 laps around the block, he sounds just as good as ever. His guitar playing is better than ever and his voice has the same powerful, smoky sound that his fans love. Guy gave an amazing performance and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. E-mail: email@example.com
With its loud licks and extravagant style, there is no doubt that Foxy Shazam is one of the best up-and-coming bands out there. The band brings an unmatchable energy to its performances, but the group is rather reserved and incredibly polite off of the stage. From joking about hoping to find Bigfoot, to analyzing the movie The Goonies, to the bassist, Daisy, explaining that all good keyboardists have weird fetishes, they are a very laidback bunch. Foxy Shazam isn't too afraid to touch on the most obscure conversation topics. The group has already put out two full-length albums, and the third is on the way, hitting the shelves and iTunes on April 13. Foxy's sound has evolved with each song, and it keeps getting better. "We never want to make the same record twice, so this is just the next Foxy Shazam record. It is just the next step, we always take it step by step, we never go backwards and we never stay still," said lead singer Eric Nally. A self-titled big label debut is the next step for the band. "We just got better, as musicians and writers," said guitarist Loren Turner. "When you are playing with the same group of people for five years, you just feed off of one another and you know what they are going to do and they know what you are going to do." Drawing on influences ranging from Michael Jordan and Marty McFly, to Miles Davis and Pantera's Dimebag Darrell, Foxy has an interesting sound. However, the group doesn't like to be placed in one category. According to Nally, listeners just need "an open mind," adding, "it is just about sitting back and watching or listening to it." And although Nally's slender figure, finely trimmed moustache and impeccable dance moves may be reminiscent of the late and great Freddy Mercury, Nally was never impacted by the Queen front man. "I think me and Freddy Mercury were inspired by the same things. I don't think we really inspired each other or whatever you want to say," Nally said. "We were inspired by the same things. He liked theater a lot and they were a very theatrical band and all that stuff. We probably have similar influences, which is why you can draw comparisons. Plus, I have a moustache." Sound and incredible live performances are not the only things that make Foxy stand apart from other bands. Both keyboardist Sky White and Alex Nauth, who plays the horns, are classically trained. Many classically trained musicians choose to stay in that genre or play jazz, but growing up, White knew his only choice was rock n' roll. The same did not go for Nauth, though. "I grew up classically trained and when I got to a certain age, probably the middle of high school, I just knew that I didn't want to do classical work," Nauth said. "I just didn't know what I wanted to do. I didn't think that being in a band was an option, but as I got older it became the choice." The group members are also unique in their ability to mix their families with their music. Nally is only 24 years old but is the father of two young boys, which he believes inspires him differently than other musicians. "My kids play a big part in just being inspired to write certain lyrics or whatever, it is interesting living two opposite ends of the spectrum. You don't normally combine the two," Nally said. "Every person I have ever met that has kids and is in a band normally just has to do the whole kid thing the whole time, but my family is really supportive of my career, so it makes it [possible] for me to keep pursuing it … It really helps with inspiration." White has the same high hopes of success for the group. "I want us to do something big, important and beautiful. Something that when we are old, we can look back [on] and be proud of what we did with our lives," White said. Fans can also catch the band playing on the ground this summer; they will even be playing Lollapalooza. And seeing as their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio is not too far away, there is a good chance that Daisy, Nally, Nauth, Mcveigh, Turner and White will be back in Buffalo soon. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org