Thursday, October 29, 2009

Issue #3

Welcome. You are now reading the third issue of North Country Entertainment Magazine, reporting on arts and entertainment in Northern New York State, Montreal, Burlington, and beyond. Happy reading.

Meet the Zukes Girls

By Chris LaRose

"I'd like a Zuke's special, please." This sentence is heard repeatedly on a daily basis at Zuke's Deli and the girls who make each and every sub for you never get sick of hearing it. "I think the customers that we get in here are sometimes the best part of the job," said Alysha Baker, 20, who is one of the "Zuke's girls" everyone has come to know and love. Zuke's Deli has been a staple in student's lives for quite a long time and although the current group of girls working at deli haven't worked there forever, they've been around long enough and that people openly recognize them in public. "I'm constantly hearing 'ZUKE'S GIRLS!' as we are walking around downtown," says Mackenzie Albin, 22, who has worked at Zuke's since coming to Plattsburgh State.

While the girls may be recognized quite often in public, many people have wondered what the "Zuke's girls" are doing when they're not making subs for hungry, hungover college students. "People will ask what we do besides working at Zuke's because they always see us working," said Devan Gallagher, the newest Zuke's girl, "and I always joke and tell them that I live at Zuke's." However, the girls certainly do have lives outside of Zuke's (come on, like they really work 24/7?) and they were more than happy to answer a few questions about the life of the Zuke's girls.

First up is Mackenzie Albin, who says her life outside of Zuke's mainly consists of playing with her dog, Mr. Pudding, and hanging out with her boyfriend and roommates. "Yes, I am taken," she joked, "so all the guys coming into the store can stop asking." When she's not working, Albin says you can most likely find her at home, but that once the weekends roll around you can always find her downtown. "My weekends start on Thursday," she said, "so I'll be at the Krazy Horse... shaking my thing." When asked to sum herself up in two words, she had to take a minute. "You know, I'm way too complicated to be summed up so easily," she said, "but I'd have to say open and crazy."

Next is Devan Gallagher, the most recent addition to the Zuke's girls, but she says she "feels like she's been there just as long as the others." Though she just turned 19 and isn't able to go downtown like the other girls, she admits to still having fun. "I can't go downtown with everyone else," she said, "but I don't just sit around and do nothing besides work." She says that working at Zuke's is an extremely fast-paced job and that her definition of what it means to be a Zuke's girl is "quick and efficient... with a great attitude." You can always find her dancing, both at work and outside of work, because it's one of her favorite things to do. "People always comment on how we dance around the deli a lot," she said, "but I'm literally always dancing."

Third is Lauren Dooley, the oldest Zuke's girl who is currently getting ready to graduate. "After this semester I'm moving to New York City for a teaching position," she said, "so it's going to be really difficult to say goodbye to this place." When she's not working, or partying it up on the weekends with other girls, you can find her with a redbull in one hand and a cigarette in the other. "It sounds so classy," she joked, "but those are my two favorite things." An extremely interesting fact about Lauren is that she drew all the menus at Zuke's and draws all the images on the quote board as well. "Art has always been something I was good at," she said, "and I really can't wait to bring it into my classroom."

Lastly is Alysha Baker, nicknamed "Sheesha" by everyone close to her. "I'm not even sure where the nickname came from," she said, "but it stuck... and I like it." When she's not making the best possible subs for customers, Baker says she's not ever doing the exact same thing as the day before. "I'm always doing something random that I haven't really done before," she said, "I'm not a fan of repetition." Her favorite part about working at Zuke's is the customers and how they interact with the girls working. "Sometimes guys will use the cheesy pickup lines on us," she said, "things like: 'do you want my footlong?'... We always just laugh in their faces." Like the other girls, she's always out to have a good time and says most people recognize her because of her "big hair" and "big personality."

So the next time you're in Zuke's be sure to look for the girl with the big hair and the big personality, or the girl with the Redbull in one hand and a cigarette in another, and say "hey", because now you know them - at least a little bit.

Credit for graphic: Chris LaRose

Art Goes Postal

By Cassandra Thomas

There’s a competition in your mailbox. You’ll find large letter stamps and creative talent on its way to the UK, fighting for a chance to be published in an art book, sold at an exhibit or posted on the web.

Mail Me Art (MMA) wants artists to mail them art via stamps and envelopes – next day delivery is acceptable. Participant and winner for May 2009, Jonathan Cusick, 31, mailed MMA a mailman with a special package made of cardboard.

“I wanted to do something different and that would raise a smile,” said Cusick. “I would have loved to have followed my little man along his journey to have seen people’s reactions in the Royal Mail -- I painted their uniform and satchel.”

Darren De Lieto, founder and co-editor of illustration-news portal Little Chimp Society, runs the British-based project. Little Chimp Society is a social network that supports the online community for all artists and gives those artists an opportunity and if doesn’t matter if you’re super talented or low in confidence. Lieto was willing to answer some questions about MMA, but didn’t stay in touch as promised, maybe there’s too much in his inbox.

The inventive mail-art, once notebook doodles, are now found in MMA exhibits being seen by people all over who would have never had the ability to see it – ‘an artist’s vanity.’ Professional and amateur artists, all ages from all over the world, mail in their work on a number of objects ranging from postcards and envelopes to boxes and pieces of wood.

“It’s a place that loves artists of all kinds,” said Tom Kane, 52, creative director of Cheil advertising and June 2009 winner. “I love the fact that any artist can participate, no one is excluded.”

Prizes are given to the winners. The winners get awarded recognition; miscellaneous items (pin badges, Football Hero cards, Tresson vinyl toy, etc.), collectable illustration pieces, a signed copy of “Mail Me Art Going Postal with the World’s Best Illustrators and Designers,” or added to the MMA gallery. Submissions are posted on the website and/or in the exhibit. According to the MMA website, the artists receive 70 percent of the sale value. MMA has hopes of releasing a follow-up book, possibly called “Mail Me More Art” and if the project continues to be successful, they’ll run another exposition.

“It’s so inclusive and accessible,” said Jonathan Hannaby, 30, participant in the MMA project. “You don’t have to be a professional artist to enter and you can be in any part of the world.”

Credits: ???

Adults and Yu-Gi-Oh

By Nick Will

Two magicians stand across a battlefield from each other. Each at the end of his life, one summons a giant dragon to fight for him. In an instant, the dragon is gone-slain by a trap set by the other magician.

This is a scene that takes place almost every Sunday at Plattsburgh’s local mall, only the battlefield is a tabletop. Every Sunday, a group of players get together and play a card game usually associated with children and Saturday cartoons: Yu-Gi-Oh. The tournaments are held by Jim’s Sports, a local sports enthusiast shop.

Yu-gi-oh is a card game that is linked to a cartoon series of the same name, and the cards that are printed by Konami, the company that owns the trading card game, are similar to cards that are used by the characters in the cartoon. The cartoon series began in Japan in 1998, and didn’t reach the United States until it was remade in 2000. The card game came with the TV series, and has been continuing strong in both countries.

According to Brandy Rivers and Sean Brown, two sales clerks at Jim Sports, the game is played by all ages. Rivers stated that the average age of players is between 15 and 22 and Brown followed up staying that his youngest player is 7 and the oldest is 50. Rivers went on to say that Brown has been hosting the tournaments for what will be three years in December.

According to Brown, the tournaments are broken into two sections: Beginners and Experts. Each section is charge an entrance fee: three dollars for the beginners and five for the experts. This money is used to buy the prizes from Jim’s Sports that will become the prizes awarded to the winners. Each group has a different set of rules, which Brown went on to detail. “The expert players are restricted to a list of cards they are not allowed to use” stated Brown. He went on to say that Konami has a published list of cards that you are not allowed to play, or that you can only use one or two of in your deck.

“For the beginners, we allow them to use one of each banned card if they choose, to make it easier” said Brown. According to Brown, this makes the game easier to play for beginners. Brown told me that the rankings are determined by a player’s skill and the length of time they have been playing. “We judge on merit” stated Brown.

According to Brown, adults play for the strategy aspect of the game. Brown himself started playing Yu-gi-oh in 2003, retiring from the card game Magic: the Gathering which he had been playing since ’93. “Magic is more strategy based than Yu-gi-oh” commented Brown, “but Yu-gi-oh is more dependent on a player’s deck building skills.” Brown commented that Yu-gi-oh was more demanding because you can use any card that has ever been printed with the exception of the few that have found their way onto the banned list, were as in Magic, most tournament formats have a set group of printed card that you are and are not allowed to use.

Yu-gi-oh is a game that can be enjoyed by all ages according to Brown and Rivers, which they credit to the amount of people who have been continuously coming back to play and purchase cards. For more information on the Yu-gi-oh card game, visit your local sports or comic book store or go to

Theater criticism a dying career in its current form

By Jessica Bakeman

David Cote has experienced four species of theater critic.

The Time Out New York theater editor said the worst type is the critic vampire, who uses a play as something to “lob jokes off, to riff off of,” he said.

Then there’s the critic hack, who doesn’t have a streamlined interest in theater, but marches to Broadway so he can file a story, any story.

The critic enthusiast likes to look at the stars.

But the critic advocate, he said, goes to the theater to advocate new playwrights and companies, to immerse himself in international theater, to hit the theaters “below 14th street,” to “have an experiential investment in the health of the scene.”

While it would be unacceptable, Cote said, for a New York Times film critic to review the latest Pixar movie but be unable to review films from Russia or France or Italy, it should be the same in theater.

“I don’t trust most theater critics in this town,” he said of New York reviewers. “If you sort of lived on a diet of off-Broadway drama and Broadway musical, you really know nothing about what was going on in the theater world.”

Like many of his contemporaries, Cote didn’t have theater criticism in mind as a career goal when he attended Bard College for English and theater.

Theater critics often fall into their positions.

Randy Gener, senior editor of American Theatre magazine and member of the International Association of Theatre Critics, saw himself writing novels and plays, not theater reviews. He pursued journalism while studying at the University of Nevada Reno for some money on the side.

After college, a friend helped him get an internship at the Village Voice, where he was later hired.

Critics agree that not only is there no clear course of action for the pursuit of the career, there may be no opportunities for success anyway. Sentiments of hopelessness are widespread among notables currently in the profession. Particularly, Madeline Shaner said she wouldn’t recommend the career to anyone.

Currently writing for Backstage in Los Angeles, Shaner has written for virtually every paper in the city except the Los Angeles Times, she said. She was educated in England and joined the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle in 1990.

As far as advice for her followers, she said, “Good luck, because there are less and less publications and less and less places to go.”

Christopher Rawson, chair of the American Theatre Critics Association and senior theater critic at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, gives the following suggestion for aspiring critics: “Inherit some money.”

While decades ago, full-time, salaried criticism was a viable career path, the economic difficulties suffered by newspapers and magazines today no longer provide that option.

“All the theater critics I know are either supported by a husband or a wife or for the most part they have job-jobs and theater criticism is something they do in the evenings,” Shaner said. "I don’t see it getting any different; I only see it getting worse.”

As critics who started working 30 or 40 years ago desperately try to keep their jobs, young people have few opportunities to break into the field.

“Theater critics aren’t really good for anything else,” Cote said. “One out of every 100 of them (can do something else). Mostly they just sort of hang out until they’re 80 years old, completely useless, and then they die. So if you have someone in that position, they’re going to hang onto it with their bloody fingernails.”

An option is for a young journalist to start out as a general assignment reporter and show editors prowess in theater criticism.

“The usual way to get a theater critic job is get a job writing on a paper and show you know something about theater and move yourself in that direction,” Rawson said.

Caldwell Titcomb, president of the Boston Theatre Critics Association and retired Brandeis University professor, said he sees this as the future for merging newspapers.

“They’re obviously going to combine jobs where they can do it because they can save money,” Titcomb said.

Titcomb wrote theater reviews for the Harvard Crimson from 1953 to 1982, and wrote 50 short articles for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance, published in 2003.
Age is not the only barrier to potential critics’ success.

As an Asian American, Gener has had to prove himself, writing unpaid pieces to show his ethnicity doesn’t inhibit his ability to write about traditional American playwrights, for example.

“Nobody in their right mind, at least in the beginning, would hire me to write about Arthur Miller, (so I wrote) thoughtful, engaged, sometimes cranky articles for journals,” he said.

Gener said sexual orientation and gender can also be determining characteristics for review assignments.

“If you’re gay, you’re sent to the gay plays,” he said. “If you’re the young person, you’re sent to the solo shows,” if you’re a woman, you’re sent to shows written by female authors.

Success, though difficult to attain, can only be reached with the most important element of a review: good writing.

“Drama criticism is no good at all unless people will read it, so you have to learn to write well,” Titcomb said.

Cote agrees; readers will flock to good writing.

“If the writing is interesting, if the lead paragraph is grabby and analysis is well considered, people will read it,” he said.

He suggests blogging for practice.

“Whatever you see, write something about it,” he said. “Keep a blog and take a little time to write something. If you have the time or inclination and want to write a 400- or 500- or 1,000-word review, put a couple of days into that, and put it up.”

As a general rule in criticism: “Read, read, read; see, see, see; write, write, write,” Cote said.

Critics feel there is a responsibility associated with the work they do.

Titcomb maintains that a critic can become a trusted, familiar source of information and advice for readers.

“A critic is a kind of teacher of the general public about theater,” he said. “And if you have people reading the same critic week after week, month after month, you get to know what that person’s criteria are, opinions are, so that one can judge whether to be guided by the particular person or not.”

Shaner particularly enjoys the power.

“There’s a certain personal power that I like but I don’t always admit that,” she said. “I like to be able to say what I feel is good and what I feel does not work from experience. That gives me a deal of pleasure.”

Best Kept Secret—Winter is the New Summer!

By Kristen Rafferty

When the sun and the beach disappear, what’s left? The beautiful Bolton Landing on Lake George is even more stunning after the sun sets and the tourists head home. As the leaves begin to turn, the water darkens, the temperatures drop, and locals take back the town. From ice fishing to karaoke to trucks racing across the frozen lake, Bolton hosts a variety of local events throughout the fall and winter seasons that melt its cold climate into a thriving hot spot.

1. Karaoke at Frederick’s Bar and Grill

Just when you thought the sounds of summer had died. Stop in every Friday night at this local watering hole, complete with a popcorn machine and stone fireplace, and hear “Margaritaville” sung in many different keys. “

I've viewed karaoke night so many times,” laughs born-and-bred local Luke Shane, “and it is absolutely hysterical to see these inebriated adults go ahead and belt out ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ completely off key.”

Jimmy Buffet, Billy Joel, and good old Frank Sinatra have all been known to frequent the bar-turned-stage that is home to many an embarrassed local and passerby, and drinks are on the house for especially entertaining acts. Frederick’s is located on Main Street in Bolton, directly next to the only stoplight in town.

2. Sugar and Spice and Everything Fall

Everything nice is exactly what you’ll get from the colorful leaves and crisp weather of fall in Bolton.

One local alumna of Bolton Central School suggests the usual activities—“Apple picking, cider and donuts, and the leaf-and-wax paper thing are sort of traditions around here,” says Kristy Schupp. For all the out-of-towners, that last one is a form of art. Locals collect leaves and iron them between wax paper to use as art around town. Boating is another major fall activity, with most locals preferring to go out in cool weather of October rather than deal with the high temperatures and increased traffic of the summer.

“The lake is the calmest in the fall,” Kristy sighs. “It’s just beginning to turn a deep blue for winter, and it’s the calmest it will be all year…you just fly across it and it’s private and just pure beauty, with the colorful mountains all around.” As the weather turns colder, people turn to hiking those mountains.

“Frost on the ground doesn’t stop any of us,” Schupp laughs. And even though you have to be overly bundled, a horseback ride up any of the spectacular Adirondack Mountains is always in demand. “I’m going sometime soon,” Schupp says enthusiastically. “Especially towards November, there’s not as many lines, and it’s a perfect, fun, crisp weather activity.

3. Snowshoe’in in the Sticks!

Strap on a pair of snowshoes and trek your way through the acclaimed Adirondack forests as frost and then snow begin to rest on the wooded lands of Bolton and Lake George. Even more beautiful in winter, the icicle-ridden birch trees and easy-to-follow trails around town make a hike through the backwoods of Bolton an adventure extraordinaire.

Local resident Donny Sammis is a frequent snowshoer, and insists there’s no better way to spend the day. “Snowshoeing is a way for me to gather my thoughts in the peace and quiet and solitude of nature,” he says. “It gives me a perspective on life I can’t get anywhere else.”

Stay alert, though—you won’t really be alone. Wandering around the thick forest has been known to disrupt its thriving wildlife and a few friendly deer and maybe a turkey or two are likely to join you for part of the journey. If you’re lucky, you might even see the town moose. Nicknamed “Henry the Moose” by locals who have been graced with his frequent backyard visits, you’re not going to want to miss out on this unique experience that only the Adirondack forests can give. Visit ADK Kayak, the local outdoor adventure supply store, for all the gear you need.

4. Terrific Trio

Grab a fishing pole, sharpen your ice skates, and start the snowmobile. A day on the frozen Lake George is really the only way to spend some of the most pristine winter days.

“It’s pretty windy out on the lake in winter, but real fun most of the time,” says Lake George resident Luke Sussdorff. The ride out on the foot-and-a-half-thick ice is a thrill in itself, and ice fishing is a popular pastime of the men, while the women and children enjoy skating. Locals congregate around shanties for hot dogs, kielbasas, burgers, and of course, hot chocolate. Any grandparents want to join? Pull out the old beach chairs—they’ll make great grandstand seats for the day of family fun.

“Just the idea of getting out onto the ice, and the actual details of fishing—keeping the hole open and stuff like that—it’s a challenge,” says longtime resident of Bolton and seasonal fisherman, Dennis Carroll. For the prime fishing, skating, and snowmobiling areas, visit the Chamber of Commerce on Main Street of Bolton, or call 644-3831 for more information.

“When I go out on the lake,” says Sammis, who is also an avid snowmobiler, “I go out to get a rush. The flat open lake, me and my snowmobile…I race across it and feel like I’m flying.”

5. Winter Carnival!

The annual winter carnival is held on Lake George—literally. While kettle popcorn and hot chocolate stands populate the outskirts of the lake, the action truly takes place on it. Follow the snowmobiles to the center of the frozen bay and watch as dragsters and derby-style trucks race in front of hundreds of winter enthusiasts. Outhouse races are tradition (you have see it to believe it) and kite flying demonstrations are also on the schedule of events. The month-long carnival kicks off in January with the annual Polar Bear swim, where literally hundreds of crazy people jump into ice-cold water for no good reason except entertainment and tradition.

“I've always wanted to do the polar bear plunge,” Luke Shane says. “But each year I have backed out and been too scared to do so. Maybe one day I'll muster the fortitude to jump in 35 degree water on New Year's Day. I really want to.”

Who doesn’t? Even if you can’t bring yourself to willingly risk hypothermia, spectators are encouraged and welcome. The fun continues throughout the month of February with action-packed weekends that satisfy the whole family. For more information, visit or call 240-0809.

Credits (from top to bottom): Google Images, Dan Sheridan, Kristen Rafferty, Dan Sheridan, Google Images

When pressed, most people would say ...

By Andrew Beam

When pressed, most people would say that New York City has the most eclectic mix of culture compared to their town. Those that live in the Saratoga and Albany area might be surprisingly unaware of the music that is right down the street at their local venue/bar. “It’s easier to move to Brooklyn and make a go of it,” Josh Potter, associate editor of Metroland magazine, says of the culture filled city. “When you go there, though, you have to sell your soul a little.” Potter feels that this is an exciting time for the Saratoga/Albany area, as great music as he says always comes in “waves.” With the overtly diverse Phantogram, the area’s darlings who just recently signed to Barsuk Records, an independent label based out of Seattle, a lot of attention has turned to the Saratoga/Albany area. Here are the top five bands that the focus may fall upon:

1.) Railbird

The legend of Sarah Pendinotti is quite strong in the Saratoga area. She had been in bands such as the Sarah Pendinotti Band, Raptor, and is currently in a band with bassist Ben Davis in an acid/folk band called Fit Club. What has garnered the most popularity for them is their main outfit Railbird, a psychedelic/experimental/folk band, who incorporates a little bit of the electronic age, is a driving force in the area. “I’ve only been in the area for two years,” Potter explains, “[former bassist] Tony Martellis caught my interest, that’s how I heard about them.” He refers to Pendinotti as an incredibly “charismatic front woman”, but this does not mean that other band members aren’t relevant. “They’re a very democratic band,” he says, “There is wonderful interplay between the two guitarists.” What may also influence this interesting blend of genre’s may come from Pendinotti’s fascination with science fiction, but Potter himself is not all that sure it is incorporated. “It comes out of a folky/singer/songwriter thing,” he explains, “They suddenly became really prolific.”

2.) Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned

If the name doesn’t all ready spark some sort of interest, maybe the collection of players and interest may tickle your musical craving. Lead Singer Alex Muro (though there is frequently an element of gang vocals) takes the reigns of guitar, trumpet, accordion, trumpet, and tuba; drummer Tim Koch adds the typewriter, coffee mugs, and trombone; Dan Pardee contributes singing saws; Donna Baird plays the cornet and french horn; Louis Apicello plays the kazoo… well you get the idea. So this jazz/folk/indie band from Albany is very unique. “I think it is the drug fueled Americana, but they’re not on drugs I think,” Michael Janairo, Arts and Entertainment editor for the Times Union says, “It seems like there is a lot going on. They’re fun, and it was great to see they got a lot of press at SXSW through NPR. It makes this area look good.” At any point in time, there is a jumble of different instruments heard, and the energy flows through their sound. They stay true to the area, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. “They’re very staunch Albanians,” Potter explains, “They’re purists. They went to school here and they remain here.”

3.) The Red Lions

While they are a band with a mixture of people from New York City and Ithaca, they’re base is in the Albany area where lead singer and guitarist Eric Margan. Their sound can be explained as a delicately orchestral based, folk/ragtime blues band, but can switch to an upbeat blue fusion with a horn section. “It is lush neo-romanticism,” Janairo says, “it is pastoral without being country for a digital sound” Live is where this band is in its natural habitat. They include the string elements with the Duo Parnas live, with Madalyn Parna on violin and Cicley Parnas on cello. Their album and band ethic is very independent as noted by Janairo. “They’re debut album is amazingly well produced for a do-it-yourself record.”

4.) Super 400

Sure, there are other bands that are trying to be the next big indie band that wants to be swept up in the arms of Rolling Stone as one of their “Breaking Bands”. Then there is band Super 400 who just want to play some straight up Rock N’ Roll, the way it was intended. For a band that was once signed to Island records, they certainly don’t seem to care about their position now. Chris Wienk, radio DJ for public radio station WEXT in Troy, said that he doesn’t fancy old fashion rcok all that much, but Super 400 is just something “special.” “When you hear it on CD, you can tell live they are technically so proficient on their instruments,” Wienk says. “You can tell their style comes from Cream.” They are a band with a wealth of talent, but they are not the kind of people to go on and brag about it. “Kenny [Hohman, guitarist] might be one of the best guitarists you’ll ever see,” Wienk says, “He could be flashy, but he is very subtle in what he does.” Wiek also feels that when drummer Joe Daley gets behind the kit, the man “is the beat.” “He mellows right into it,” he says. “He seems like he’s all over the place, but he is very controlled.” While bassist and singer Lori Friday may be a kick-ass-rocker-chick, she is also a great musician Wienk says. They’ve involvement in the community certainly doesn’t go unnoticed, as while playing in the band, they also teach guitar to people in the area. “They are very community-minded,” Wienk claims. “They did a show for us for free and gave up a Friday Night gig’s pay. Back in January, they insisted on buying their own tickets, and then some.”

5.) Phantogram (formerly Charlie Everywhere)

This is a band where not only the local community, but all over the world. Consisting of singer and keyboard player Sarah Barthel and guitarist and beat-maker Josh Carter, the Saratoga natives can fool many listeners as they bring aboard with them a much more urban sound that would make you think they’re from New York City. The best way their sound can be described, because they are such a difficult band to pin down with an explanation, is street beat/psych/hip-hop. “I think unwittingly, Josh and Sarah created a new space of music,” Wienk says. “It is a marrying of ambient sounds to hip-hop rhythms while adding some shoegaze.” There is no doubt that this band is very unique, it is the reason why Wienk thinks they had such a great appeal to labels. “They have this haunting feel that sucks you in, and without knowing it, you end up falling in love,” Wienk explains, “They are not copy-catting.” After signing to Barsuk records, many in the area were quite ecstatic to hear the news as WEXT tweeted about it, they’re former label Sub-Bombin, a record label based out of Saratoga, posted the news on their website, and local publications raved. Janairo is quite happy to see a band of their caliber get signed to a label. “It’s a good sign to see them get signed,” Janairo says, “and they are definitely a band to watch. I would say what they play is what the direction indie pop is headed.”

Beer Pong or Beirut? North Country College Students Debate

By Jeremy Fisher

Talk to any college student across the country and theres a good chance that most will agree on what a college party should consist of. They would probably say that there should be beer and lots of it. They would probably also say that there should be a game involved with beer, particularly one that involves two teams on a table, tossing ping balls into their opponents' cups. What many college students in country, including ones in the North County, don't agree on is what the game is actually called.

“As long as I have been in college, I've been hearing people arguing with each other over what it's called,” said Paul Skaperdas, a student at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “Many people call it beer pong and many people call it beirut.”

There are multiple college campuses scattered around the North Country region and there doesn't seem to be any consensus among the students on the title of the famed beer sport.

“I think the majority of the people I know here call it beer pong,” said Don Distasio, student at SUNY Plattsburgh. “Although I have met some people at parties who call it beirut.”

According to Skaperdas, it is the complete opposite across Lake Champlain than it is in Plattsburgh.

“I call it beer pong, but there are way more people who say beirut,” said Skaperdas. “When I make a list for people who want to play at our parties, I write 'beer pong' across the top, but someone always crosses it out and writes 'beirut'.”

Legend has it that the game that most undergrads play now was derived in the early 80s at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Folklore has it that a couple frat boys got bored and started throwing balls into each other's cups. The name “beirut” was supposedly conjured up because they felt like they were “bombing” the cups, reflecting the U.S. Military involvement in Beirut, Lebanon at the time. However, many people are in disagreement over this origin, just like they are in disagreement over the name.

Ben Keefe, a former University of Vermont student and current SUNY Plattsburgh student believes that region has something to do with who calls it what.

“A lot of New Yorkers call it beer pong which is probably why its more common here in Plattsburgh,” said Keefe. “In Vermont, a lot of people are from New England and they call it beirut.”

Though many people in region believe that beirut and beer pong, despite the disagreements over the name, is still the same game. However, in some parts, students see it differently.

“To me, 'beer pong' is using ping pong balls,” said Frank Hunter, a student at SUNY Canton. “What I call 'beirut' is using quarters instead of balls with rules being slightly different than 'beer pong'.”

According Hunter, his version of beirut was being played at his fraternity long before regular beirut or beer pong became popular, adding more debate against the myth of the game's origin.

“That is the way we see it but I know many people who have different opinions,” said Hunter. “Some people say that with 'beer pong' you need to play with paddles to hit the ball into the cup and 'beirut' is when you just throw it.”

Still the debate continues among North Country collegians and other beer guzzlers across the country who enjoy the game. Despite the many arguments and disputes over the title, it seems as if young adults will continue playing beer pong/beirut into the foreseeable future.

“I personally don't care what people call it,” said Distasio. “It's all the same to me and I'll call it whatever as long as its fun.”

What will your future hold?

By Jamela Gibson

As I enter Subway eatery on campus, many students are waiting for their name to be called so they can see the psychic and get a glimpse into their future. “I’m nervous about going to see the psychic because I’ve never done anything like this before and what if they tell me that I am going to die or something," senior Virgillo Hunter explains.

His legs begin to shake faster and faster as the anticipation of his name being called begins to build.

About five minutes later his named is called and he is off to see the psychic. Twenty minutes go by and he's back with an astonished look on his face.

As I begin to ask him how did it went, the first thing that comes out his mouth is “Oh my goodness, that was so creepy,” and he begins to chuckle.

“There were so many things the psychic said and I was just in shock about. I’ve never met this man prior to this and I can’t believe he told me things that I thought I only knew about myself.”

Hunter is not the only person who feels that the psychic was exactly on point, PSUC junior, Amanda DeLosh says “the psychic was most definitely on with my future. That was the hard part to comprehend because the things she was telling me were so right on. All I could do was sit there in awe,” she explains.

Some people do not believe in psychics and will never go and see one. For example, PSUC student Myasia Butler is one of the non-believers when it comes to psychics. "It would be nice for them to tell me what my future holds, but at the same time I just want to be surprised." She goes on to say, "growing up I was always told not to go to psychics to get your future read, believe in God and anything that you want to happen will," she explains further.

Junior at PSUC, Amanda DeLosh, says “you have to go into it [psychic section] being objective, don’t change your daily routine because of something a psychic told you, even the psychic that I went to told me that.

Not only do people not go to psychics to get a glimpse as to what their future might hold, some people don’t go to psychics because of religious regions. Latywonna Thornton is a Jehovah Witness and in their culture visiting a psychic is against their religion.

“My friends tell me that get their future read with a psychic and sometimes the psychic can be telling the truth or just making things up as they go along. I want to see what’s in my future, but at the same time I am not going to go against my religion. Its not worth it,” says Thornton.

Some psychics are right on point with their predictions and some psychics are way off. Also, there are psychics that either use tarot cards, a crystal ball or may read their client's palm.

Although, I couldn’t ask the psychic one on one questions he gave me his email address for me to send him some questions for him to answer, he never returned my email.

What will your future hold?

Losing The Fangs: Vampires Go Mainstream

An ad for the synthetic blood vampires drink in HBO’s True Blood

By Daniel Ring

The Halloween season in full swing and the supernatural is all over our television and movie screens. However, the creature of the night that people can’t get enough of at the moment has to be the vampire. Whether it’s the moody, angst-ridden Twilight saga, the high-school drama style of Vampire Diaries or the gory, sexy True Blood – “vamp-mania” has gripped the nation.

Vampires have made a major comeback in the last year or so. This glut of new franchises all have their own interesting twists on the traditional vampire myth, whether it’s the lack of fangs, immunity to sunlight or that vampires have become an ethnic minority. The one thing they all have in common however is their distinctly American take on the idea. These new breed of stories are a far cry from Dracula. Though its under debate as to whether this is a good thing.

Alex, a student at SUNY Plattsburgh, thinks that most of the current vampiric output is geared towards girls, “its not horror – not in the same way that classic vampire films are, there is too much focus on how attractive the vampires are, the real monster element has been lost.” The main narrative in all these current shows is, after all, romance.

True Blood is different again; it has traditional vampire themes entwined with southern ideas and beliefs, producing a show that is politically charged and distinctly American. The shadowy beings have become part of the mainstream, attempting to gain social acceptance, they turn to synthetic Tru-Blood for sustenance. However like most minorities, they have to deal with many prejudices.

Sexuality plays a major part in all the shows. However, True Blood aside, the focus is on abstaining from desire and lust rather than pursuing it. Twilight is the best example of teen lust versus moral responsibility. According to Ruth La Ferla, a journalist for The New York Times, “Impulse-control is an especially resonant theme in the current era of conflicts and cutbacks.”

Protagonists Bella and Edward from teen hit Twilight.

Hannah, another student from SUNY Plattsburgh and a big fan of the Twilight saga, explains how these new breed of vampire flicks actually give more meaning to the myth, “Its a non conventional view of the vampire story, it brings the archaic stereotype up to date...the abstinence themes of Twilight and Vampire Diaries aren’t really an issue because these are vampire stories in the first place, immediately making them more edgy and interesting.”

But has this new breed of bloodsuckers really lost their bite? Despite the interesting twists these films and shows make to the conventional vampire theme, it’s impossible not to draw links with sexual abstinence, a major issue that has been promoted by many teen pop culture icons. Gone is the sexual and moral exploration and adventure of adult cult classics like Interview With a Vampire – replaced with an abundance of teen angst and sexual frustration.

Now if only those rings weren’t silver...

New Moon will be on general release on 11/20/09
Vampire Diaries airs every Saturday at 8pm EST on The CW.


Review of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’

Review of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’
By Nicholas Persad

Sex. Debauchery. Scandal. Three words that accurately describe the overtly sexual, button-pushing play ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ which concluded its three performances on Oct. 24 with its midnight showing in the Black Box Studio Theatre in the Myers Fine Arts Building at Plattsburgh State.

The play which was directed by PSU student Antonette Knoedl was a creative blend of musical theatre, interaction with the audience and sexual exploitation.

The play’s opening performance was by the ‘Phantoms’, a group of scantily clad dancers whose seductive gyrations and teasing countenance provided the heated mood that would resonate throughout the play. As they danced one realized that in this room, at this moment there were no restrictions and no form of physical display was out of the ordinary.

The first characters on stage were Brad Majors and Janet Weiss played by Andrew Murano and Elizabeth Abair respectively. They portrayed the newly engaged couple who as a result of their car trouble become playthings for the sexual deviants who dwell in the castle where they seek refuge.

For the play to have its interactive nature, comments from the audience where encouraged and welcomed when the cast members delivered different lines. In the beginning it was somewhat distracting as it was unclear whether these audience members who were making these comments were part of the show. By the second scene it blended perfectly and enhanced the performances by including the audience to such a great extent.

The Narrator played by Steven Hebert was the third character to enter the stage, and his role was to inform the audience as to what was going on in various situations.

When the unsuspecting couple found themselves at the doors of the castle they were greeted by Riff Raff, the butler of the castle play by Rory Wallace. Wallace’s voice was an astounding asset and elevated him above the rest of the cast, and it was evident that he was professionally trained. His acting skills proved just as formidable as his voice. His character was one that grabbed the attention of the audience whenever he was on stage. Wallace’s character proved to be one whose lines would often produce comic remarks from the audience. When his character invited the young couple into the castle he said, “You should come,” and then someone from the audience would scream, “On her face,” before he could finish the line. The actors seemed trained to pause when saying lines like these to allow the audience to appreciate the joke but still hear the lines.

Riff Raff’s female counterpart Magenta played by Danielle Henderson also had a powerful voice and on the stage she completely embodied the demonic look of her character. However, Henderson’ voice was oftentimes inaudible over the loud background music.

Characters such as Columbia played by Kady Smith and Eddie and Dr. Scott both played by Caleb Newell added to the comic relief of the play, but they did not enhance it or detract from it with their performances.

The entrance of the character Frank ‘N’ Furter played by Jason Spencer was truly a spectacle. He walked onto the stage in a corset and high heels and as he sang he moved across the stage with the elegance of a woman who has been wearing shoes with 5 inch heels all his life. His character was the focus of the story, and he did an excellent job of capturing the minds of the audience by never faltering with his character throughout the entire play.

The only character that did not live up to the hype of the production was the title character himself. Rocky who was played by Andy Velez was a tremendous miscast. His voice was not up to par with any of the other performers on stage, and he was never engrossing with his performance. He seemed to be trying too much to give this impression of this tormented, created creature that was under the power of Frank ‘N’ Furter. His performance did not seem effortless like it did for the other performers. His character became a side character whenever Wallace, Henderson or Spencer took the stage.

The ending of the play was when the audience recognized the true stars of the show. Wallace and Henderson in the final scene rebelling against their master stole the show. Overall the play was a huge success with the exception of a few less than captive performances.

Zombieland Review

By Gabriel Dickens

“Nut up or shut up” could've been Zombieland's signature quip, except one doesn't really need to “grow a pair” in order to sit through this horror comedy. Light on horror and heavy on action – along with deadpan remarks abound – Zombieland is nevertheless an enjoyable undead romp through spilled guts, torn flesh and decapitated bodies.

Lanky and phobic nice-guy Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has survived two months alone in the zombie-pocolypse with his shotgun and rules akin to something found in Max Brooks' “Zombie Survival Guide.” On the way to see his parents in Ohio (alive hopefully), he hitches a ride with a no-nonsense cowboy named Tallahassee (Woody Harrison) on his quest to find the last remaining Twinkie in civilization, and civilization itself, which supposedly resides in Florida. That is, until his armored Escalade is hijacked by two conniving sisters – 12-year-old Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and older sibling Wichita (Emma Stone).

During all the backstabbing, they happily mow down hordes of fleet-footed undead in any number of creative, macabre fashions, while never forgetting to finish 'em off. That would be rule number two: The Double Tap.

Speaking of which, one would think “Conserve Ammo” would be on that list of rules. After finding a stash of high-powered weapons inside a yellow hummer (rule number 34: Always Check the Back Seat), Tallahassee fires off round after round of automatic rifle fire into the air. “Thank God for rednecks” indeed.

But it wouldn't be much of a zombie film without nearly unlimited ammo now, would it? While perhaps not in the same league as “I Am Legend,” Zombieland still provides plenty of blood-spurting action and some white-knuckle suspense. In one scene, Tallahassee uses a combination of a banjo, baseball bat and hedge clipper to slaughter zombies at a supermarket, and he still had a miner's pick and shotgun at his disposal.“When Tallahassee goes hulk on a zombie, he sets the standard for not to be f---ed with,” affirms Columbus.

Unfortunately, the movie runs into a roadblock, and not of the zombie variety. Chalk it up to uninspired Hollywood-style romance instead. Never-been-kissed Columbus falls for Wichita, except that she prefers “bad boys.” Not to worry, for his redemption lies in facing his greatest fear – a clown, which also happens to be a zombie. The unremarkable characters and vapid writing amount to little, and only serve to scare those who plopped down hard cash expecting to see a roller-coaster ride of a film.

Nestled between these dead bits is a scene involving a comedy legend, which is a testament to the Shaun of the Dead-style black humor found throughout the film, albeit dialed down a few notches. Harrison's timing is spot-on, and even Eisenberg's character has a sarcastic side. The two play off each other splendidly. Perhaps things get a tad campy towards the end, but it does seem to pay somewhat of a homage to the classic “Army of Darkness.” And the audience really doesn't need the rules bludgeoned over their heads every time a zombie is “Double Tapped.”

Director Ruben Fleischer has created a thoroughly enjoyable zombie flick which sets itself apart in a market crowded with horror and suspense films in the weeks heading up to Halloween.

The Many Flavors of Charlie Peppers

By Nicole Weber

Double majoring in newspaper journalism and theater, and a double minor in gender and Women’s studies and English, Charlie starts his days off with morning runs and loves to procrastinate by dancing in his room.

Charlie Peppers is always on the run and with him running for Student Association president this year he is all the more busy. But what else is there to Mr. Peppers besides academics?

A fan of superheroes, RPG, role-playing (computer) games, and the Matrix, Peppers said his three favorite superheroes would have to be Buffy, the Flash, and Shadowcat. When defending that Buffy was a superhero, Peppers said, “She has super strength, can endure a lot of pain, has died twice and lived for eight years as a slayer when slayers usually only live for one year.” Peppers admits his in-depth knowledge on Buffy has come from his obsession over the show. “I can tell the episodes by the number. I’ve been watching it since the second grade,” Peppers said.

Peppers created his own RPG, “Future is Ours,” as a senior in high school. The game has nine followers from around the world, and of course … the game was inspired and based off of the Buffy “Universe”.

Being a fan and major in theater Peppers is involved and will be performing in the classic piece “Waiting for Godot” in the basement of Myers from November 12th to the 14th. Peppers is casted as ‘a boy’ who is the messenger of Godot and the link between the two main characters “Estragon and Vladimir and Godot.

Peppers’ love for theater has inspired him to apply to NYU’s theater program for graduate school. Peppers also has two plays that, inside his head, he has already sketched storyboards for. “Plastic Ego” which will be about toys and “Wonder Waitress” which, surprise, will be about a superhero waitress.

Brooklyn bred, and Brooklynite, Peppers has been living in Crown’s Heights for 20 years with his parents, his cat Penny, siblings Chanta, 23, and Aaliyah who is seven. In a recent article with Cardinal Points on his campaigning to be S.A. President, Peppers tells a personal story about living in a mostly Jewish neighborhood and experiencing a hate crime against his family.

Peppers has built thick skin.

Belonging to two marginalized groups being an African American and openly gay, Peppers said he feels that he can tell how other people from marginalized groups are being treated, and how they must feel. Peppers also feels he has good empathy, and that his intuition is strong.

Considering himself an optimistic person, as he agrees with many other people who believe so as well, Peppers says he isn’t an ignorant blissful person. Peppers said he was taught the value of the dollar and the ethic being the work that made the dollar. Peppers favorite color and how he dresses changes with the mood of his day. His sense of fashion: Peppers says has matured into a majority of crisp collared shirts and jeans; growing up from his younger collection of comic superhero t-shirts.

Peppers initial interest for his major in journalism, came from the love of writing. “People become an art project,” Peppers comments on reporting. “Take that artwork and lace it with prose,” is what Peppers says he loves to do with his reporting.

Peppers decided to declare a gender and Women’s study minor based on his belief that “every man should be a feminist”. “I love my mother, and the thought of anyone belittling her the way I hear other people talk to other women boggles my mind,” said Peppers.

One woman in Peppers’ life is best friend Jenna Manders. Peppers recounts for how himself and Manders initially met; saying it was a little embarrassing for him. “I slammed my finger in a door, and I was shaking my hand jumping around and she thought I was doing a dance,” Peppers said. Peppers says he considers Manders one of people who helped him except his orientation a lot more than he already had.

“I was in Macomb walking down the hall and I thought he was doing the ‘Hot Walk’ dance (a dance for a song “Hot Walk” where the person is shaking their hand so to snap one finger into another), so I started dancing with him and then we just started talking,” Manders said.

Manders said he initial ‘click’ with Peppers was definitely a factor toward her being there for him when he came out. Manders said how she showed Peppers an article titled “Nature of Harm and Arguments” by John Corvino which explained reasons why people are prejudice toward gay people through the perspective of being the prejudice person. Manders adds that she has seen growth in Charlie’s acceptance of his orientation in the past few years.

Regarding the future Peppers says he would want to be a “porn star”, but all jokes aside, Peppers said he would really love to be an actor. “Comedy is a little to natural for me, but I would love to do Broadway (big fan of drama), but I would need to learn how to sing first,” Peppers said. For the near future Peppers hope to go to NYU for grad school while having an internship or an externship/job at a newspaper or magazine.

Ten years from now, Peppers hopes to have the same attitude with life, and to be healthy. Peppers would like to direct, create or act in a play and have people moved by it. Peppers also said he would like to be an advocate for the gay community.

“Treating everyday as if it’s a video game. New day, new level,” Peppers said is his attitude on life and what keeps him positive.

“I want him to be as successful as he wants,” Manders said. “His positive attitude affects people and his social skills can take him anywhere,” Manders said. “I hope he’s top journalist or a writer for GQ,” Manders predicts for Peppers future.

Dream job: Writing for the New York Times or writing comic books.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Issue #2

Welcome. You are now reading the second issue of North Country Entertainment Magazine, reporting on arts and entertainment in Northern New York State, Montreal, Burlington, and beyond. Happy reading.

“Rising Tide” a mix to quench a different thirst

By Jessica Bakeman

An album of upright bass, fiddle and acoustic guitar doesn’t normally conjure images of binge drinking, casual sex and rock ’n’ roll — but that’s what you’ll find with “Dustin Jones and the Rising Tide.”

A mostly up-tempo drunken Celtic extravaganza, the album, released this month, showcases a unique style that just seems to work.

Fans of Jones’ band Inner City Surfers will recognize the familiar liquor-drenched lyrics on the album but not the musical style of lead singer’s new friends — brothers Sheldon and Marshall Jääskeläinen of The Wild Turkeys.

The album leads with a hard edge, with the wannabe rock tunes describing the lead singer’s addiction to alcohol and “honeys,” and ends with softy, vulnerable lyrics and accompaniment.

This collaboration with a Celtic-feel taps the keg with its first track, “Molly Malloy,” a piece profiling Molly who loves a certain activity — guess!

“‘Molly, whatcha drinkin’?’/ She says, ‘Booze, all day,’” the song opens. “‘Would you like a glass of water?’/ She says, ‘No, no way.’”

The song then slips into a three-part harmony chorus of “Molly’s on a mission,” a brave quest to keep up with the boys while drinking off her hangover, and repeating the mantra, “We’re gettin’ drunk all day.”

Jones’ vocal quality is reminiscent of vocals in the work of Simple Plan and Blink 182, alternating in levels of harshness.

The second track, “Hideout,” discusses the narrator improving his mental health: “Lost my keys/ Lost my wallet/ Lost my pride/ Lost my shoes/ Well if drinkin’ is a talent/ I’m sure that I’ll never lose.”

Despite the fact that the lyrics and instrumentals fit together like pieces of different puzzles, the awkward music is surprisingly enjoyable. Like Jones’ 2007 album “Inner City Surfers,” the stupidity of the lyrics is compensated for by the sophistication of the music, and though the centerpiece this time is a raging fiddle instead of a wailing electric guitar, Jones once again gets off easy.

“Rising Tide” is a gem of the album, and sounds much more like a traditional Celtic ballad, beginning in a capella three part harmony with a fiddle at the forefront of the track and the acoustic guitar strumming support in the background.

The most introspective of the tracks, “Don’t Know,” is the standard lyrical expression of not knowing what the future may hold. He does, though, tell what his music means to him: “I’m happy chasing dreams/ singing songs that I believe help me grow.” Apparently, his musical alcoholism is beneficial to his growth as a being.

“Guy Like Me,” one of the only songs on the album with a theme not centered around booze, pulls percussion into the mix. Featuring softer, fiddle strokes, the instrument sounds more like classical violin. Background vocals include scooping “ooo’s” straight out of 1950s sock-hop tunes. Jones gets soft again on this number, singing that “you might have met a lot of guys before/ But you never met a guy like me.” Finally a song with lyrical substance, the track comes in at only 2 minutes and 43 seconds, leaving listeners high and dry.

“Don’t Stop,” the defining mellow ballad ending the album, is by far the best track, giving listeners’ ears a conclusion to the controlled Celtic chaos that proceeds it.

The album takes you on the hiccup-ful journey of a partier’s night: It starts with the blind goal of getting drunk and having fun, then turns to thoughts of romance and sex, moves next to the intellectual ponderings of inebriation and ends with soft, mellow sleepiness.

For alcohol fans trying to experience a different drunk, “Dustin Jones and the Rising Tide” might be the perfect cocktail — even left unstirred.

Credit: MISSING!

Fall of Troy Review

By Andrew Beam

As Thomas Erak professes, “I fucking hate myself,” in the opening track of their brand new album, the tone has been set for what is to come. The Fall of Troy is ready to change things around.

When progressive/hardcore band The Fall of Troy released Manipulator in 2007, it was pegged as an absolute failure by fans and critics. There will be some who will blame it on the fact that it wasn’t the sequel to their 2005 release, Doppelganger, in the sense that it wasn’t heavy enough. There will be others who will say that it was due to the awful production quality as it sounded like no one cared at all when it came to mixing the album. The Fall of Troy themselves, will blame it on the fact that they were rushed and did not have enough fun making the album. Regardless, Manipulator was a huge let down in the eyes of many.

Now, it is 2009 and the trio from Mukilteo, Washington is prepared to make a boisterous comeback that will make fans wish they had never wrote them off in the first place. In the Unlikely Event is an album that is fully produced and is filled with a mixture of blues, a tinge of metal, punk, and some familiar guitar thrashing performed by lead singer and lead guitarist, Thomas Erak.

What is missing from the original line up is former bassist Tim Ward. After basically referring to him as dead weight, the band went into the recording with fresh legs as they recruited Frank Ene on bass. Bringing a little bit more funk than what Ward had usually provided, Ene is a much needed addition to their formula as he enhances tracks like “Empty the Clip, the King Has Been Slain, Long Live the Queen,” where he walks his bass along the chorus, “People and Their Lives”, a track that shows Ene giving his instrument a motor like sound, as well as providing back up vocals on the jumpy “Single”, a quality that has never been featured on a Fall of Troy album before.

Yes, it seems that everything has fallen into place nicely for Erak and drummer Andrew Forsman and they are able to capitalize on the moment. This still is not the album that the heavier-loving Fall of Troy fans are looking for, but it is an album that shows a musical progression that most should give up their stubbornness to appreciate.

The first three tracks could leave most listeners out of breath as they recall the ferocity of Doppelganger, but still have a much more melodic characteristic that shows the maturity the band has been professing to everyone. “Panic Attack” is a frantic track about the many panic attacks Erak suffered during the recording of the album. The guitars are dropped down, heavy, and Erak still brings the scream that most fans are looking for. It transitions smoothly into “Straight-Jacket Kneehauled”, a brutal, almost metal-like track that finds Erak squealing through most of the track. Then to end the onslaught is the song “Battleship Graveyard” that finds the band at their most comfortable position with a melodic song that goes through a few spastic fits.

What is also very evident is the improved pipes on Erak, as he prides himself in being self taught when it comes to singing. He flexes his polished vocals on songs like “Single”, down-beat “Webs”, and surprisingly pulls out a little falsetto in the radio-friendly sounding “Nobody’s Perfect”, well, that is until it ends in a spooky tantrum.

The high point of the disc is reached during the wiry “Dirty Pillow Talk” as Erak’s guitar stylings borrow a tip from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame. To compliment, Protest the Hero’s Rody Walker makes a guest appearance in the song as he screams, “Slow down/You’re going to hurt yourself child.” This song has an interesting back storr as Walker was kidnapped by Erak in a van outside of the venue in which Walker was playing at. This interesting story just adds to the all ready outstanding track.

Success would be the word for The Fall of Troy for releasing In The Unlikely Event, as the band has made up for all their faults from the previous release, Manipulator. Even though the band claims they don’t care what anyone thinks and make music for themselves, it is hard not to think the band was at least thinking of the criticism they received from their last album. In The Unlikely Event takes those blemishes and improves on many of them with this release.

A Night with Layne Underwood

By Nick Will

The room was filled with the aroma of wood-grain, stale beer and musk. The trees shook violently outside the large windows that dominated the far wall. Beer cans littered the room in bags and piles on the two tables against the windows. A man sat in a chair near those desks, clad in a red flannel and a pair of old ripped jeans with a resonator laid across his lap.

No- this is not a hunting lodge in the wilds of the North Country, this is the den of Plattsburgh’s folk prodigy Layne Underwood. Underwood is a rugged young man of 18 years, pursuing a degree in music at SUNY Plattsburgh. He keeps his unkempt brown hair back in a small pony tail, even though his hair is only an inch or so long. Wearing a pair of old plastic rimmed glasses and a makeshift necklace forged of an old bracelet and a shoe string, Underwood sat with a grin strapped across his face. It was here that he unveiled his legacy.

Layne Underwood first started playing music in 8th grade. He and a group of friends had signed up for a talent show, and created a Blink-182 cover band called 21 Days. Underwood played lead guitar in the band, along with lifelong friend and bass player Mike Kelley. According to Kelley, Underwood was “very energetic, definitely the leader.” Kelly stated that Underwood got the band many of their gigs, and motivated the rest of the group. Underwood continued with his punk roots until the summer of his senior year. “That’s the summer my Gibson SG broke” commented Underwood.

In the summer of 2008, Underwood started playing a cheap Nylon guitar that he obtained inexpensively, and began to experiment with a loop petal in his barn. Loop petals allow musicians to layer electric instrumental tracks on top of each other by recording tracks and replaying them simultaneously; this allows one artist to play different parts in a song live by themselves. Underwood went onto say that he then started being able to layer up to 60 tracks. He described the feeling as “Euphoric, better than any drug.”

Looping tracks was only part of Underwood’s evolution into folk. Underwood stated that he had started noticing similarities in punk and folk chord progressions. Folk became Layne Underwood. “Folk has a simplicity to it” Underwood said; “It is just simple to grasp.” “Layne’s use of the loop petal creates a trance-like state not present in most folk music” stated fan Scott Dombert, who dubbed Underwood’s performance as “trance-folk.”

The metal resonator sitting on Underwood’s lap is a homemade concoction. Resonators are acoustic guitars that use metal cones to resonate sound rather than the traditional wooden soundboards of wooden guitars. Underwood converted his resonator to an electric format by shoving an input into one of the f-holes on the resonator itself and attaching wires to the bottom of the fret board. “National brand electric resonators had the electric inputs in the bottom f-hole” said Underwood. “I figured it would look cool if I shoved it in there.”

Underwood also had quite a bit to say about his musical style. Each show Underwood performs contains a split set: for the first half of the night Underwood plays his folk music while sitting, melancholy in a chair; the second half of his set is comprised of violin and loop tracks to which Underwood stands and dances around controlling his music with his feet on the loop pedals. “I play the violin and loop tracks for fun and for fans, but the folk comes from the heart” commented Underwood.

As far as writing goes, Underwood had this to say: “People always complain about writing too many songs about girls or about certain situations. I like to write both direct view and imagery based songs.” Underwood especially likes to write with imagery, saying that “It gives a feeling of Nostalgia: when people hear a word, it fires a chemical in their brain.”

His use of imagery can be seen in one of his personal favorites- the song “I’m changing my name” by Underwood features such vague and well written lyrics that you would never guess that the track was actually about an accidental abortion.

Underwood stated that the song is great because it was written in 15 minutes, and is a favorite among listeners. Underwood’s friend Mike Kelley stated that he was impressed the first time he heard the song even though he has “heard every song soo many times that he just knows them too well.”

Fan and classmate Nathaniel Johnson had this to say about Layne Underwood’s live performances: “it’s not not good.” Another fan, Jocob Spurr claims that Underwood’s mannerisms in his live performances make the shows more interesting. Be on the lookout for Layne Underwood. He frequents Plattsburgh venues such as the Monopole and Koffee Kat. For upcoming shows and tracks, check out Layne Underwood’s myspace page at

Fun, Family Frenzies For Fall!

Fun, Family Frenzies For Fall!
By Nicholas Persad

The apples have been harvested and are waiting to be turned into cider. The pumpkins have been carved into scary faces and are waiting to be put on doorsteps and window panes. The beauty and vibrancy of the fall foliage complements it all. It’s Fall. The time of year when the air begins to get a little crispier than it was during the summer months, and the warm, furry quilts that were stored deep in the cupboard from last year are pulled out and placed by the bedside.

The arrival of Fall also brings with it a vast amount of family activities that have come to characterize this time of year. Two that are extremely prominent and very appealing for the younger generation are pumpkin and apple picking.

Applejacks Orchard, which is located at 751 Brand Hollow Rd, Peru, NY unlike other orchards in the Plattsburgh area offers the public the opportunity to pick as many apples as they want and at their own pace. It is open from the third week in August until the week before Halloween. The orchard is also home to a petting zoo and a hay maze for younger children.

“We have a bee hive as well as all kinds of goodies. We also have something we call ‘Goat Mountain’ where the kids can go and pet goats,” said Jessica Mckee, the staff member in charge of the school tours at Applejacks. Apple picking is not a onetime thing but has become a tradition with many families. “Absolutely, it’s definitely a family tradition. We see a lot of the same families year after year,” said Mckee.

Pumpkin picking has become as much of a tradition as apple picking especially during the month of October as pumpkins are synonymous with Halloween.

“You get to ride on a tractor and see the apple field, the pumpkin field, the blueberry field and the eggplant field,” said Rory Wallace, a PSU student who went picking at Rulf’s Orchard. “Then we went into the pumpkin field to pick some pumpkins. It was quite fun especially because it’s around Halloween.” The overall cost of this excursion is $6. Rulf’s Orchard is located at 531 Bear Swamp Rd, Peru, NY.

Another activity that is enjoyable during this time of the year and allows you to be outdoors regardless of the unpredictable weather is the Vermont Corn Maze. This family-friendly outing can be taken anytime between August and October 18. The Corn Maze can be found at 1404 Wheelock Road, Danville, VT. The name is actually a little play on words.

“The corn field is turned into a maze,” said Dayna Boudreau, owner of the Vermont Corn Maze. “We spend January through May just to design the maze, then in June we transfer the design to the field. In July we make all the pathways and then in August we are open to the public,” she said.

Boudreau added that the maze sees most of its patrons during the fall foliage and that most people spend at least two hours trying to solve the puzzle. According the website 90 percent of teenagers do not complete the maze. The maze ends October 18 because the owners cut the corn while it is still good enough to feed the cows.

As the leaves change color and drop from the dying trees and the likelihood of snowfall becomes more imminent by the passing of each day the activities that are available to North Country residents decrease. These family traditions only come around for a small time period during the year but have become a symbol of Fall.

Here is where you can find more info about
Vermont Corn Maze

Here is where you can find more info about

Here is where you can find more info about

Dinner at the Circus

By Kristen Rafferty

The candlelit dinner is history. How about a lantern-lit meal instead? And bread bowls are old news—it’s all about the garlic bread trapeze tents now. Chandeliers, elephant candles, and colors to flood the streets of Saratoga—now that’s a real night on the town. Hidden between the classy restaurants, shops, and boutiques on Broadway Street in Saratoga is the Circus Café, the perfect blend of sophistication and fun that defines the thriving city.

Entertainment is core here, and what better way to keep diners enthused than to delight them with circus-inspired and specially arranged meals? Pasta is served a la garlic bread trapeze tents, and fries—curly of course, because straight would simply be boring—wind through your dinner like the limbs of a contortionist. A well-
proportioned steak dazzles the eye with colorful peppers that zigzag around it, and

Chef Dave Hernandez, whose award-winning burgers are classic, spices up the usual chicken with rum, lime juice, and brown sugar to create the café’s signature dish, Mojito Chicken.

“Mojito Chicken is by far the best dinner dish,” says Dan Sheridan, a frequent visitor to the restaurant. “But for lunch, it’s gotta be the Tropical Shrimp Salad.”
Manager Lindsey Ciccone insists that the café’s attention to combining great food with nonstop entertainment is the key to its success.

“From our food to our employees to the scheduled entertainment, everything is geared toward fun,” she says. “It’s really a combination of everything that keeps people coming in.”

Entrees are delivered by an exuberant wait staff wearing themed t-shirts that proclaim phrases like “Trapeze is My Art” and “Former Contortionist.” Upbeat and charismatic, the employees are specifically hired for their dedication to the restaurant’s theme.

“All of our team members are hardworkers, and excellent servers,” Ciccone proudly admits. “We’re really like a family here.”

Amidst red-velvet curtains and painted circus murals, the café boasts an upscale dining experience that is very much family-oriented during afternoons, transforming into an adult nightlife by happy hour, and, as local patron and longtime Saratoga resident Lisa Leroux observes, a “fun and funky” gay bar by midnight. Talk about a three-ring circus.

While Ciccone does acknowledge a single adults and gay following, she insists the café’s focus is primarily family-oriented.

“We have a great number of families who come in regularly,” she says. “We also host a large younger crowd, which makes up most of our nightlife.”

From Skidmore College students to sixty-year-old baby boomers, a variety of ages mingle to create a regularly diverse audience for the weekly entertainment on

Wednesday nights, and even come to perform their own material on Thursday open mic nights. Saturdays are reserved for the jam-packed karaoke nights.

“My friends and I go down there at least once a month for the karaoke nights,” says
Kiera Stewart, a senior at Skidmore College. “There are always so many people. Some of the usual karaoke singers are really good, and some are really bad, which just makes it more fun. It’s just an awesome night out.”

Adds her friend, Christina Stromberg, “We definitely owe that place some of our best birthday nights.”

Desserts make up the finale of the show, with chocolate shavings and two cherries topping off a Circus Maximus Blackout Sundae. Homemade cotton candy—nicknamed “Fairy Floss”—piles high on a single plate (the house favorite) and specialty martinis and cocktails color the nightlife of the café. Color-rich margaritas, served beneath the lantern-strung bar, cost only $4 and draw capacity crowds. The eccentric menu includes oldies like the Moscow Mule along with the signature, candy-filled Circus-Café’s Scorpion Bowl.

“The cotton candy is everyone’s favorite,” says Ciccone. “You can’t give someone a plate of foot-high cotton candy and not have them smile. Whether you’re five or fifty, it’s just a happy moment.”

Film Review: Passenger Side

By Daniel Ring

Bleeding Mexicans, porn stars, a crazy desert lady - this is movie has it all. And for a Canadian film that’s emotional and gritty this is not a combination you would expect. Directed by Matthew Bissonnette, Passenger Side stars two brothers; Michael (Adam Scott) and Tobey (Joel Bissonnette) and follows them on a soul searching adventure through the City of Angels.

Currently playing at various film festivals all over the world, Passenger Side has been received very positively by film critics. It won the Citytv Best Canadian Feature Award and has been listed as a “top pick” at the London Film Festival. Just recently, it was showing at Montreal’s 38th Festival du Nouveau Cinema.

It is a story of one man’s search for the woman he loves and his brother’s support in finding it. Though the plot loosely comes together, it is heartwarming and amusing enough to keep the audience interested. The history of the two protagonists is slowly revealed through the witty banter they both share whilst driving on this expedition to meet rather strange selection of individuals – each more ridiculous than the last.

The comedy is suitably subtle and self deprecating, a combination that the Canadian brothers fit comfortably into. Ridiculous situations are answered with dry one-liners that make the characters seem endearing rather than annoying. The witty banter the two brothers share on their journey is juxtaposed with heartwarming moments and the melancholy undertones that ultimately lead to the film’s climax.

The fact that the Matt and Joel Bissonnette are both brothers means that the relationship between Michael and Tobey must be somewhat autobiographical – a lot of history is hinted at throughout the film and has something in it that any two brothers could relate to. From forgetting your brother’s birthday or dealing with an overbearing parent to keeping deep secrets from one another, it deals with a lot of issues siblings may have or had to face.

The film has a very gritty, indie feel; it doesn’t pander to mainstream tastes. The long shots with no dialogue and quirky humor may put some people off. It’s depiction of LA is also one of a grimy, rundown city – this is not the glossy Hollywood metropolis that many may think exists on the sun-drenched west coast. The characters feel real and the setting feels real, which is why the increasingly unreal situations the characters find themselves in work so well.

This is a film that bears some of the grim realities of complicated relationships between friends and family, and while it leaves nothing to the imagination – the encounter with the transsexual being a case in point – it manages to do it with charm and wit. It is to sibling relationships what black and white television is to color, as Michael explains early in the film: “reality, without the makeup.”

Passenger Side is next showing at The Times BFI London Film Festival on the 25th and 27th of October.

Profile on Darrell “Dmac” Davis

By Jamela Gibson

Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Darrell Davis is an educated 20 year old Criminal Justice major with a lot of potential. With a rugged, “gangster” look, who would have thought he’s full of book smart and street smarts?

Excerpted from “Successful” by Darrell “Dmac” Davis. “I’m tryna find a way to be successful without being regretful so I inhale a chestful of marijuana smoke and I know it ain’t know joke cuz I wandered down this road to success repressed with no place to go. Nowhere to place my faith it’s all too real but I know success erases pain. Success erases debt and I ain’t made it yet I’m on this quest to success.”

Sitting at the table playing with his blackberry, and looking around as if he’s being watched. Sitting in front of me is Darrell Davis a 20 year old college senior who’s major is Criminal Justice.

As I ask him where his poetry comes from, he sits and absorbs the question, and then picks up his phone. Within matters of seconds he says in his monotone voice. “My poetry comes from pain, life experiences and struggles. Just hopes and dreams basically.”

As I ask him he does poetry he clears his throat and says “people on Def Comedy Jam inspire me such as sciryl (Lyrics spelled backwards) and Mos Def, my mother she’s a poet, and all the injustices do as well. I try to be socially conscience about whatever I write about.”

“I started rapping at 14, and poetry is just like rap so...actually rapping has kept me calm and I made a lot of friends through it.”

Being the second oldest to his eldest sister he explains to me his dreams, and he says “my dreams for poetry and me being a lawyer is bigger than no one can ever know.

I write poetry for people to understand words on a different level rather than just the same word from word as you see in a textbook.”

“Life is just a game and success will bring you pain, and what do I give success blood sweats and tears empty dreams that may never come true; if you willing to lose your soul for this then what does it mean to you.”

As we make eye contact for a brief second he looks down at his phone to see the time and he says I have to go but to leave you with this quote…”I know success erases pain.”

As he leaves I am lost for words and nearly speechless with the intelligence that Darrell “Dmac” Davis has at such a young age. If you spoke to him on the phone you would think he was a man in his early thirties that’s been through almost everything you can think of. But that’s what makes Darrell unique.

Dining with the Dead

By Alissa Vidulich

BEWARE: if the mere title of this article makes you queasy, uneasy or unsettled slowly scroll away from the article...

While picnics are typically regarded as being rather enjoyable and relaxing, cemeteries can stir a sweeping range of thoughts and emotions, from tranquility to terror. A cemetery picnic would be no 'picnic' for those who fear cemeteries, these people are known as Coimetrophobes. Those who are “[morbidly attracted] to” or even simply “fond” of cemeteries are referred to as Taphophiliacs, according to

If you find yourself in want of an outdoor excursion, and don't mind the scenery of tombstones of course, cemetery picnicking provides a unique alternative to the backyard or city park.

Cemetery socials were particularly common during the Victorian Era or “Gilded Age,” early 1800s to 1900s. Queen Victorian inspired the name of the time period as well as many aspects of day to day living during that time. With the Industrial Revolution in full swing the wealthy class was expanding. The worldwide nouveau riche looked to Queen Victoria, much like the present day “young Hollywood” look to Victoria Beckham, or (heaven forbid) Paris Hilton, for lifestyle cues. Thus, daily etiquette steadily grew more proper and restricting.

Picnicking provided somewhat of an escape from the etiquette-intensive formal dinners and balls of the time, but became common enough so that eventually there were regulations regarding picnic etiquette as well. Isabella Beeton's The Book of Household Management, published in 1861, lists essential picnic items, “It is scarcely necessary to say that plates, tumblers, wine-glasses, knives, forks, and spoons, must not be forgotten; as also teacups and saucers, 3 or 4 teapots,” she continues, “3 dozen quart bottles of ale, packed in hampers; ginger-beer, soda-water, and lemonade, of each 2 dozen bottles; 6 bottles of sherry, 6 bottles of claret, champagne à discrétion, and any other light wine that may be preferred, and 2 bottles of brandy.”

It is likely if anyone from the 21st Century were to bring their fine china and entire liquor cabinet to a picnic s/he might be hauled off to rehab.

Common dishes of the era included boiled tongue, curried rabbit, stewed eels and plum pudding. Yum!

Women would be fully dressed in their, often ornate, apparel. The men were to cater to the women while picnicking and would often be responsible for the brewing of tea using kerosene burners. They were required to stand if the women were seated.

“Picnics and celebrating of any kind were forbidden during the two years of mourning {mourning: the period of proper grief after the death of a loved one},” states Lisa Lewis a.k.a. Victoriana Lady, Professional Victorian Public Speaker and founder of, “If the family enjoyed the park-like atmosphere of the cemetery they could go anytime. For most people though it was for sentimental reasons, they wanted to stay close to their lost loved one after death.”

Cemetery picnicking in particular was “quite common,” according to Lewis “larger cemeteries were laid out like parks in the 1800's just for this purpose.”

While the many customs of picnicking have passed on since the 19th Century there are those who still relive the tradition of the Gilded Age. Cemetery picnics are now seen as a unique way to garner donations to assist in the upkeep of various cemeteries, such as the All Saints Soirée being held Oct. 24 by Save Our Cemeteries, a New Orleans group dedicated to the preservation of historic cemeteries.

For others cemetery socials are simply a great way to enjoy the day/night and might include a tour of cemetery, games, music and photography. William Burg, President of the Sacramento County Historical Society, explains the attraction of modern man to such events, “it is the appeal of having an event in such an unusually historic and beautiful place, and having an event that is obviously a celebration of life in a place associated with death.”

Still, there dines another breed who actually prefer to celebrate the concept of death and picnic in cemeteries for their darker “charms.” No, not ghouls, but goths. Jillian Venters, author of the book Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them, recently held the release party at Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetery. The event attracted scores of fans, or as Venters lovingly refers to them, 'Snarklings', in full Victorian-goth getup who drank tea and listened to excerpts from the gothic guide.

Aside from the Coimetrophobes, those of Jewish faith are also strictly opposed to dining among the deceased.

“Eating and drinking may not take place on the cemetery,” Rabbi Maurice Lamm proclaims, in his article Cemetery Etiquette on, “It is a violation of every code of honor.”

If you are interested in throwing your own post-mortem potluck, tombstone tea-party or belated brunch be sure to get permission from the cemetery owner(s), be respectful of the territory and invite acquaintances {just not your Rabbi!} in advance.

Credit: MISSING!

Is Hip Hop Dead?

By Nicole Weber

Rapper Nas claimed ‘Hip Hop is Dead’ on December 19th of 2006, with the release of his album titled his exact claim.

Songs like Eminem’s “Sing for the Moment” clipping a piece of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Jay-Z’s “Young Forever” which uses a clip of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” is just one example of the lack of originality sparking from the hip-hop world. Auto-tuning which was created by Antares Audio Technologies was popular in the ‘80s was revamped with the rapper/hype man T-Pain. T-Pain’s auto-tuned imaged then inspired Kanye West to do the same thing and the recycling continues.

With the modern day pattern of hip-hop, most songs only spit about money, sex, and violence.

In a study conducted by the University of Chicago called the Black Project, leader Cathy Cohen says, “the overwhelming majority of young people agree with the statement: ‘Rap music videos contain too many references to sex.’” Statistics from the study showed 72 percent of black and hispanic youth agreed with that statement, while 68 percent of white youth agreed with that statement.

The image of hip-hop, which use to not only be a genre of music but also lifestyle, has changed so much from the start that was born in the mid 1970’s.

“I understand why people are saying that,” referring to hip-hop’s hypothetical death, says Keshagen Adderly also known as DJ Nuff Sed in Nassau, Bahamas. “Everything that is coming out is just copying someone else and a lot of songs are just saying ‘snap with it,’ ‘dance with it,” says Adderly.

Nas says in a video with online community ‘Hardknock’ that new up and coming rappers aren’t thinking about the career as a rapper, but rather expect to achieve it over night. Nas also says he believes most new rappers are doing it for the money and fame.

“[Hip-hop] is moving away from substance,” says Adderly who adds that hip-hop is shifting from the initial movement and idea of explaining where you’re from and how they go to where they are today.

Adderly says, rappers “shouldn’t do a Mims and be proud to make a mil without saying nothing on the track.”

Not everyone agrees with notion that hip-hop’s genre died out or that it will.

“Album sales are very successful,” says Phillip Suruda. “Additions aren’t killing hip-hop. Music is always evolving; it will never be as it was in the past,” says Suruda.

Even Nas said he believes hip-hop can be resurrected or saved with rappers the Game, Kanye West, E-40 Snoop Dogg, and even Jay-Z/Hovi.

Adderly comments in retrospect on the new rappers coming out today, “if you’re going to be a good artist you would want to feed the people, give them substance, make money by doing what you love. “Making music that people would love [forever]; not just music that will be here today and gone tomorrow.”

For more information on people who believe hip-hop is still kicking and fully booming you can visit an online blog:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Philosophic Pfaff

By Cassandra Thomas

On a dim lit stage, one man was on the edge of his seat with gray socks and black clogs, while strumming his smooth brown guitar, a jazzy dude. The audience in awe was completely silent as joyful memories boggled inside their minds and danced with musical notes. Vibrations from the guitar were relevant to emotions they’ve experienced throughout their lives and helped trigger their thoughts to recollect moments of loneliness, broken-hearts, desire and serenity. There was a connection between this man and the audience – whatever he felt, they felt. Each thrust of the string gave off intensity and passion, which filled the air waves with soothing sounds massaging the ears of listeners. This is what he wanted: His spirit to be set free in the Krinovitz Recital Hall.

This was the 4th Annual Guitar Festival and Dr. William Pfaff, 49, Assistant Professor of Music at SUNY Plattsburgh, was performing his “Give Me an A” piece, which took him six weeks to put together and according to him, ‘it could’ve been polished.’ This musical genius hidden behind a desk was now on stage doing what he loved to do the most: perform. He knows his music has ‘the groove,’ but ultimately he is destined to ‘be one with the groove.’ This summer Pfaff attended inspiration boot camp, The Artist-In-Residence, at the Petrified Forest National Park in Holbrook, AZ, for two weeks. He wanted to be a part of the park rather than just be in the park: he decided to pursue artistic discipline while being surrounded by the park’s inspiring landscape.

Being a part of the park meant getting to know the people that run it and the resources that exist inside. Dr.Pfaff spent most of his time taking pictures of the events, the people and the scenery; however, he got the chance to create a hand-made instrument that resembles chimes (an instrument of the orchestra) out of petrified wood, which is found in the park. Learning to create beautiful sounds out of pieces of rainbow-colored crystallized logs, Pfaff translated the national park’s purpose: “a place of pleasure and preservation, into images which bring others enjoyment and a deeper understanding.” This helped Pfaff obtain spiritual peace artistically. He has learned to emphasize trying to get to know each individual piece of music through analysis and experience of it, which was taught to him by his principal teachers Martin Boykn, Yeduhi Wynerat , Allen Anderson and Niel Sir, while earning a Ph.D. in Composition and Theory at Brandeis University.

“The strange thing about music is it comes out people’s souls and spirits,” said Pfaff.

In an interview with Dr. Pfaff, I noticed his melodies reflected his overall character – spiritual and calm. Having to deal with stressful things as a professor, working on outside projects such as a piano trio for Kalliope; a solo piano work for Holly Roadfeldt-O’Riordan; and a CD of jazz tunes for a San Francisco jazz group, Atmos Trio, as well as maintaining a family with a wife, Stephanie Pfaff, and two ‘mentally whacked’ rescued cats, Syllo and Promise, a man needs some alone time in order to be optimistic.

Growing up in the suburbs of Southern New Hampshire and now residing in Plattsburgh, Pfaff has lived most of his life surrounded by breath-taking scenery, experiencing the great outdoors and being surrounded by artists of the different arts. On his spare time, in the comfort of his own home, Pfaff likes to write a lot of music, garden, read and help refurnish his home with his wife.

He puts emphasis on students in PSU, who are aspiring musicians, to broaden their horizons and expose themselves to many different things as far as music and life as a whole.

“There are plenty of things in life, try as many different things,” says Pffaf.

If a student has a strong belief in their talent or area of interest and a positive attitude that they bring to the classroom and the things they do, there is no telling what opportunities will lie at the front door, Pfaff believes. On a scale of 1-10, Pfaff gives his job a ‘8 solid’ because he’s engaged in music all the time and enjoys working with students college-age. He says they’re curious, ‘funky,’ and fun-lovely. It’s great to have a professor that supports his/her students and gives them space --Dr.Pfaff. But the students’ job is to “challenge themselves, and juggle the freedom, giving themselves limitations.”

Some of his friends, students and colleagues might say he’s a bit too quiet, but Pfaff knows the appropriate time to ‘push the envelope’, when it comes to working on music that is.

Pfaff said sometimes his friends admit to him, “You’re such a quiet soul, but man you need to turn up that f*cking instrument.”

Dr. Pfaff continues to learn every day since there is always more to gain and his opportunities continue to grow because his friends always request him to compose pieces for them. College is supposed to be functioning all the time, fresh and live; Teachers and students expand their knowledge and come to the classrooms to exchange. 10 years from now, he’ll still be writing, teaching and performing, so “right off the press, knowledge goes into the class.”