Grade: BThe Circa Survive you once knew is gone. The band's major label debut proves to be more intricate and, for lack of a better word, mature than previous efforts.Since releasing Juturna nearly five years ago, Circa's popularity has grown exponentially.
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