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DiCaprio shines again on the big screen

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‘Shutter Island,' a new Martin Scorsese movie, has been No.1 in the theaters since its release on February 19. It got more views in the past week than ‘Avatar.'

It is a dramatic and a mysterious movie with a huge twist at the end, which Lasso won't ruin, but the end did get a lot of attention from critics since it has two possible interpretations. They don't specify if it ends with the common, obvious cliché or if it is completely different and much more interesting story. One would rather think it wasn't a cliché since Scorsese is such a well known and respected director and the performing was so great.

Once again, Leonardo DiCaprio did an amazing job working with the rest of the cast in a role different than he is used to. He made about 22 million from this success.

In the film, DiCaprio is a U.S. Federal Marshall, Teddy Daniels, sent to a mental treatment facility on an island to investigate the disappearance of a patient. While he is there with his partner, everything starts to get confusing and messes with their minds. They can't distinguish reality from nonsense anymore and in each scene there are new questions and twists.

The unique and undeniable thing about this movie is the quality of the shots with a lot of intensity. If movie watchers are still hesitating to watch it because of the scary trailer, don't be, it is worth the money.

 

John Mayer breaks hearts in Verizon Center

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John Mayer visited the Verizon Center and despite high expectations managed to leave the crowd in awe. Before his set began, the band Spearhead powered through a fast-paced set list and pleased the crowd with their antics. At moments the lead singers would run through the crowd, and they ended with a large group of teenage girls singing and dancing onstage with them.

After the stage crew cleared and reset the stage for Mayer's band, the moment finally came for John to do his thing. He opened up with his new single "Heartbreak Warfare" behind a semi-transparent curtain. He seemed to be enjoying himself as much as the crowd was enjoying him, flashing cocky grins during the crowd's cheering and hopping around the stage like a little kid at times.

The concert however reached a slow point when Mayer pulled out his acoustic guitar. He played mostly his new songs which makes sense seeing as it's a tour for his new album. Even though he mixed some classics into the set list, he left out some of his most notable songs. These include "Heart of Life" and "Daughters."

Junior Jade Womack said, "Unlike a lot of artists, Mayer sounded the same as on his albums. He displayed his ten years of talent and played my favorite song ‘Gravity at the Concert.'" Womack continued, "His guitar solos were amazing and made the experience all the more memorable."

The encores however made up for the slow acoustic break. Playing "Who Says" behind the semi-transparent curtain, with his own image projected up onto the screen was a truly unforgettable moment. This was followed by "Gravity" which featured Mayer playing his guitar while it was lying on the ground and behind his head.

The unofficial set list was:
"Heartbreak Warfare"
"Crossroads"
"No Such thing"
"Slow Dancing in a burning room"
"Perfectly Lonely"
"My Stupid Mouth"
"Your Body is a wonderland"
"Neon"
"Waiting on the World to Change"
"Belief"
"Assassin"
"Bigger Than My Body"
"Why Georgia"

Encores:
"Who Says"
"Gravity"

 

Editorial: New changes to Yearbook create hassle for seniors

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This year, there have been a lot of changes to the yearbook pages for seniors-- but is this change good or bad? It depends on who you ask. Some people enjoy the opportunity to add their high school accomplishments and artwork to the page; however, for me, I feel these are rather unnecessary and not really what I want going up on my senior page.

The artwork aspect does not interest me as I am not much of an artist. For people who are, this is probably a great opportunity, but that seems to be a small portion of seniors. Of course, there is always the option of putting a baby picture; personally, that is not something I am interested in, and judging by the amount of seniors who have left this out of their page, they most likely feel the same way.

Adding the accomplishments to the yearbook to me seems rather haughty. In the yearbook, I do not want to list accomplishments because it feels like bragging. We should not need to write the accomplishments down to remember them; if they are important enough, people should remember them for the years to come-- to me, writing them down almost takes away from their true meaning.

The part of the senior page I was looking forward to was the senior quote-- I feel the quote and the senior picture are a good allotment for each senior, and if people would like more space they can always get a personal page.

I was very disappointed to hear we could not use music lyrics in our quote because that limits our quotes-- I was personally thinking about using song lyrics. While I realize this is a copyright issue, I know people are allowed to use a certain amount of a song without violating copyright laws, and I would have appreciated this option.

If it felt like it was our personal decision in determining whether or not to add these elements of senior space, then I would be all for it. However, it seems that we are being forced to do it and judging by the amount of seniors who have not done it, it seems like this is a lost cause. If there were a little more freedom with the senior space, in choice of what to put and whether or not to do it, then I would be much more welcoming of the idea and I think my fellow seniors would agree.

 

‘The Pirates of Penzance’: St. Andrew's Episcopal School shows inner booty

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In a play full of pirates, useless policeman, nine silly girls, and an extremely sappy general, St. Andrew's Episcopal School managed to emit an aura of holiness, despite these typical, despicable characters.

The show began with a surprisingly long overture played by the supremely talented Stage Band. Immediately the audience was drawn in by the awkward yet talented group of pirates, even though the action began before the lights came up. Most impressive out of these bandits was the Pirate King, played by junior Ben Mitchell. It seemed as though Mitchell had the breath support of an Olympic swimmer.

Jonah Orr, the Pirate Apprentice, captured the audience with a tender tenor voice and his quick, subtle wit. After Frederick (Orr) decided he wanted to leave the pirate life, he attempted to find himself a "fine" lady. Unfortunately for Frederick, the first girls he saw (disregarding the calm, compassionate Ruth played by Astrea Somarriba) were Major-General Stanley's nine daughters.

The Major-General, played by Joey Schepis, created a brilliant atmosphere that brought every dead actor on stage to life. With a somewhat confusing, inside-joke rendition of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General," Schepis drew the audience out and appealed to the certain instincts of the crowd, being sure to mention the Cappies, of course.

Through some clumsy choreography, the daughters fumbled through their scenes and songs, sans diction. The blame for these mistakes was partially on the girls themselves, but also on the technical crew because of the inconsistency with microphones.

Soon the audience was introduced to Mabel, played by Katie Richer. Richer showed the audience she was a talented redhead with an exceptional voice, but through her arias, she forgot to act. Stone-faced and with hands permanently glued to her sides, Mabel still stunned all with her clear soprano voice.

This emotionless demeanor failed to spark chemistry with her ever-trying romantic counterpart, John Orr.

Steve White, who played Edward the Police Sergeant, saved the downward spiral with collective comic relief not only from himself, but from his constables as well. White helped the play end with a newfound confidence.

Overall, the show was endearing, especially with such strong male leads. Unfortunately it was the little things like the shaky ensemble and the spotty spotlight that transposed the show from being great to good.

 

‘Rebirth’ should be buried six feet under

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I'll start this review with a complete and full disclaimer, just so there is no confusion: I hate Lil Wayne. Yes, "hate" is a strong word and should never be thrown around carelessly, which is why I can say with 100% confidence that I hate Lil Wayne. I don't hate the man on a personal level, because I have never had the (mis)fortune of meeting the man. For all I know, Wayne could personally save a school child every day while simultaneously reversing Global Warming. But I can say that when it comes to the man who appears on TV and the radio non-stop with his barrage of songs and verses, there are few people in the world who I can't stand more than Dwayne Carter from New Orleans, LA.

The reasons to dislike him are monumentous: For starters, Wayne is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rapper. This will offend all of the fanboys who try to insist that everything Wayne touches turns to pure gold, but the reality is that he cannot rap worth a darn. His wordplay is terrible; his flow is anemic and non-existent; the metaphors and similes he is renowned for are third grade-level, corny, and cheesy; and his voice is beyond horrendous.

It's really hard to see exactly what is so appealing about a voice that is reminiscent of a frog with strep-throat who just performed a four hour concert without drinking any water, complete with intentional voice cracks and a high-pitched tone that sounds more violent and disturbing than any audio tape released by Osama bin Laden.

On top of all that, Wayne insists that he be called the Best Rapper Alive, a title given to him by...himself. He claimed that once Jay-Z retired in 2003, he became the best rapper alive (even though Jay didn't die or anything,) but then said the same thing when Jay-Z unretired in 2006. If that isn't the most narcissistic thing ever, I don't know what is. It's one thing to be a terrible rapper and claim yourself to be better than your subordinates, but to spit in the face of the other rappers who even made it possible for him to put out a record is an insult to everything the genre stands for. Lil Wayne couldn't win a rap battle against Andy Milonakis, much less anyone in the business with any kind of marginal talent.

Wayne's last studio album, "Tha Carter III," sold like hotcakes, especially in a time where albums weren't selling anything significant. There's no denying that the man knows how to market himself to incredible levels. After his gargantuan breakout success, Wayne decided he would no longer be just a hip-hop heavyweight, but now he would become a "rockstar." He started with his god-awful "Lollipop" video where he started carrying around a guitar and began using auto-tune, which of course is how rock vocals have been produced for years. I may not know much about rock-n-roll history, but call me crazy, I don't recall Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash using vocoder's on their albums.

The hype machine began rolling for Wayne's rock album, which would be entitled "Rebirth." Of course, most of the hype came from Wayne himself. This was because even Lil Wayne's most die hard fans weren't feeling the idea of their favorite rapper switching over to horrendous "singing" with weak guitars and whiny pitches. What a shocker.

The album's first single was released in early 2009, and to the surprise of few, "Prom Queen" was exactly what critics of the direction of the album feared; terrible lyrics from a whiny grating voice, all over a beat that was bad even by Lil Wayne standards. The negative reception towards the album caused it to be delayed numerous times, which was all punctuated when Amazon.com accidentally shipped around 500 copies of "Rebirth" to customers who had pre-ordered it on their website. Even though the album had been scheduled for a late December release, the album was once again pushed back to February, but the website still ended up shipping many of the copies to its costumers, causing the album to be posted online for all of the world the hear. Of course, it didn't help that the overwhelming response to the leak was negative, but the silver lining was that it forced Cash Money to finally stand firm with its February release date.

After all of the hoopla, it all comes down to the actual product. The album is truly, above all else, garbage. Actually, garbage would be a nice way of putting it. Hot, disease-riddled garbage would be more apropos. Every single song on the album (full disclosure: I listened to the leaked version back in December, which remains largely unchanged from the retail version) is terrible. None of them have any noticeable positives, and everything that was bad about a song like "Prom Queen" is especially evident on the entire record.

The album's other singles, "Da Da Da" and especially "On Fire," are atrocious. The album's so bad, even Eminem sounds weak on it, having an unremarkable verse on the grossly overrated "Drop the World." Everything on "Rebirth" is a picture perfect example as to why Lil Wayne is nothing more than a narcissistic self-inflated egomaniacal rapper, who got to be successful by completely filling himself up with hot air and try to make himself out to be something he clearly isn't, which is an artist with any kind of marginal talent.

 

Celebrating history

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Black History Month is discussed a lot in the world and sometimes ridiculed, but who really knows what it is? Where did it come from and why is it so important? It's a little strange that there aren't any real holidays for black Americans, besides Martin Luther King, Jr., but there is an entire month to celebrate them.

Black History Month is celebrated in February in the USA and Canada, but in the United Kingdom it is celebrated in October. It was first founded by Carter G. Woodson and called "Negro History Week."

Woodson chose the second week of February because it marked the two birthdays of two of the most important people in black history, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Freshman Alex Green said, "It's interesting. It's important we get to learn more about them."

Although this month is greatly appreciated, there remains some controversy over it. Some think that black history is just "American history." Also, it has somewhat lost it's meaning over the years, and has become a shallow ritual. Senior Erik Gravette agrees.

Gravette said, "African Americans have been important since the beginning. Having a whole month to them seems kind of redundant. Every month is black history."

Should this month even exist if people don't think that it's as appreciated as it once was? Even when it was founded, no one really understood the value of it. And now as the years go by, the value has been sucked into oblivion. Is it really fair to continue it if people just brush it aside?

If everyone was created equal, then the holidays and days of admiration should be of equal importance and have equal celebration.

 

Return to Oz: A Lasso staff member returns to Australia and reflects on her American experience

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Jordie
I walked into the room and it smelled like cleaning product and wet paint. That may as well describe how I felt when I first arrived at Sydney Airport. I was sick from jetlag from the 16 hour flight I just sat on, but also sick with nerves.

I am finally back home and it doesn't feel like it. Not in the slightest. My mind thinks that this is only a short vacation and we will head back to America, back to my comfort zone, where I will resume school at George Mason, see my friends and continue cheerleading just as I have for the past two years.

A lot changes in two years and I must say it flew by so quickly. I'm now standing in my new house, in my bedroom which is seemingly smaller than the basement I had all to myself not too long back. I am in Randwick, Sydney where, once again I am to start all over again-- new school, friends, lifestyle, sports. But something about this move felt uneasy and having moved nine times in the past, this was not the usual feeling. I was always excited to start again with a fresh beginning and a new adventure to be had. Why doesn't this feel like home?

I arrived in America two years ago with a closed mind I must admit. I didn't like it at all. The classes were too long, school started too early and I had too much homework. It might be an exaggeration to say I drowned in my tears every night for a good two months but to be honest that's what it felt like. I missed the normality of my small town existence, and yet I wasn't the slightest bit upset to leave Australia and come here until I actually started school.

Yet, my time in America was unbelievable. I had watched it on TV and in the movies but it was so surreal when I became lucky enough to experience it first hand.

Not expecting to excel from my position as the new, shy, Australia girl, I got to live the dream that every girl where I come from dreams of. To say the least, I came back with some great stories and even greater memories.

It first started when I joined to cheer squad in the winter of 2008. Having never done anything like it before, I excelled and for the first time it was something I was really good at. First tryouts must have been the scariest thing I had ever done and I don't think I have ever felt so intimidated in my life. Afterwards I continued and cheered for another three seasons and became co-captain of the squad.

A lot changed during those three seasons. Girls came and went but one person that truly believed in our progress as a squad was our coach, Beth Bird. Her inspiration and commitment to the team helped us to be taken more seriously by the school as well as push ourselves to new heights. Without hesitation, she pushed us to be the best we could be and without her it couldn't have been done.

After cheer I got to know more people, got a boyfriend, on the football team I might add - pretty funny actually considering I was a cheerleader. Even though you guys might think that's nothing special, never did I think it would happen to me. I went to one prom, two homecomings, too many football games and experienced American Halloween. It doesn't get much better!

School, though, was different. I was at school at 7am most mornings studying for science with Mr. Lahy and staying behind for math and English most afternoons. The teachers truly inspired me as well and I always felt encouraged, motivated and challenged. Mason is very lucky to have such a dedicated bunch of teachers and looking back I took it for granted. Of course I went for help when I needed it but every now and then I would knock it and head to Starbucks after school with friends for a well needed coffee. But you definitely don't get that type of enthusiasm from teachers everywhere.

I started taking journalism at the beginning of ninth grade and I sure do wish they had journalism classes where I currently go to school back in Australia. The pure enjoyment of being a part of the journalism staff made me appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes in producing an online school newspaper. Even though every year the staff gets a new bunch of people, we all worked together as a great team. I know that I am mentioning this one specifically and it is because journalism was unlike normal English (well not normal if you had Mr. Walsh) and taught me much about the world around me.

As for those school buses...I don't think I have ever been more excited to get on a bus. That may sound silly but I had only seen those big yellow buses on TV. The schools are definitely much bigger in America than they are here and the majority of high school students go to religious, select or private schools for better education and opportunity.

As for the sports aspect, I don't think I have ever heard of seven hour football practices during summer let alone two and a half hour cheer practices every single day. I was surprised and impressed to say the least. Although they were long hours, it paid off as I definitely learned a lot about fitness and the importance of taking care of myself. There was such a wide range and never ending opportunity to join and be part of a sports team within the school.

When school was out, ten weeks of summer fun began. Despite pouring with rain our very first carefree day, my friends and I made the most of every single day. Long days were spent tanning around the pool, vacationing in Cancun, and in every other spare minute I talked about the upcoming cheerleading summer camp at Virginia Tech University.

My first days of school compared to the last certainly weren't the same. It started by continuously getting lost in the hallways, being known for my funny accent and shying away from social events on the weekends mostly because I wanted to be by myself. Through everything that happened, I walked away with incredible confidence, amazing friends and a boyfriend who I will never forget, and the greatest, most unforgettable experiences.

Even though I'm now standing in this plain blank room in a place I am completely unfamiliar with, it will in time, be filled with good memories. But I will never forget my time, despite seeming shorter than two years, in America.

 
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