Tori Amos celebrates Christmas with Midwinter Graces

Posted by Kate on December 09, 2009
Life and Arts / No Comments

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By Alyssa Palombo
Sports Editor

After a prolific career that has seen her release 10 studio albums over a period of 17 years, pianist/composer/singer Tori Amos has finally released a Christmas album entitled Midwinter Graces. It is a healthy mix of original songs and traditional favorites—with a “Tori twist,” of course.

Of the 14 songs on the bonus track edition, five are written solely by Amos. The first of these, “A Silent Night With You,” is a sweet, tender holiday love song that describes a relationship which has seen many years go by. “Now or then, I just want to spend a silent night with you,” Amos sings over piano and strings.

The next original, “Snow Angel,” features a simple and pretty piano part, over which Amos sings of the year’s first snowfall. This stripped-down ballad does nothing to initially grab the listener’s attention, yet on closer inspection it perfectly evokes a peaceful winter night.

“Pink and Glitter,” another original, is a bold, jazzy track, complete with a full brass section. Its lyrics emphasize the importance of finding happiness independent of material possessions: “Our joy isn’t about a present/or a grown up motor toy.”

The song “Winter Carol,” which is from Amos’s in-progress musical entitled “The Light Princess,” features a haunting piano and string part, which is its best characteristic. Interestingly enough, the song, which celebrates the coming of winter, also contains several references to pagan mythology and symbolism which those familiar with Amos’s work will not be surprised to hear. “Our New Year,” the last of the original songs and one of the album’s standouts, finds Amos singing plaintively of past heartbreak, and the hope that the new year will be better: “Every corner that I turn/I’ve convinced myself one day you’ll be there/Choruses of ‘Auld Lang Syne’/Could this be the year?/Yours and mine.”

Amos’s fans are no doubt not at all surprised by the fact that she chose mostly lesser-known Christmas songs to arrange and record, adding new lyrics to almost all of them. The first track, “What Child, Nowell” finds Amos creating a hybrid of “What Child Is This” and “The First Noel,” rewriting the melodies a bit and adding some new lyrics over piano and harpsichord. “Star of Wonder,” which tells the story of the three kings that sought the Christ child, gets a Middle Eastern twist, courtesy of carefully arranged synthesizers and percussion.

“Candle: Coventry Carol” finds its haunting melody set against a backdrop of brass, drums and wind instruments, as well as the ever-present piano, and features a guest appearance by vocalist Kelsey Dobyns. “Holly, Ivy, and Rose” sees Amos team up for a duet with her nine-year old daughter, Natashya.

On “Harps of Gold,” Amos embeds the familiar Christmas theme of “Gloria in excelsis Deo” within a set of original lyrics: “I’ll show you how it’s done/You’ll smile through the pain/Sweetly singing over the plain/Gloria, Gloria in excelsis Deo.”

“Jeanette, Isabella,” is another lesser-known, yet beautiful, Christmas folk song to which Amos brings new life. The relatively simple arrangement of piano, harpsichord, acoustic guitar and light percussion sets off the gorgeous melody to great effect. “Emmanuel” gets a similar treatment, with Amos letting the dark, haunting melody do most of the song’s heavy lifting.

The two bonus tracks, “Comfort and Joy” and “Silent Night,” feature simply Amos and her hope, with Amos staying mostly on the left side of the keyboard. Her rendition of “Silent Night,” however, is beautifully simple, and brings the album to a close on a high note.

Midwinter Graces is a fresh and well-done effort which is sure to please Amos’s fans. However, those looking for a more traditional Christmas album had best look elsewhere, for if there is one thing that Tori Amos is not and has never been it’s traditional.

Get to the chopper!

Posted by Kate on December 09, 2009
Life and Arts / No Comments

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By Garrett Weinholtz
Copy Reader

This past month was filled with new video game releases that rocked the gaming world. Titles like Assassin’s Creed II and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 came out after much anticipation, but the game that caught the most of my attention was Left 4 Dead 2. This title is what games are supposed to be, pure fun. The first Left 4 Dead title took the gaming world by storm when Valve released it last year, winning many awards including “Game of the Year.”

Left 4 Dead 2 adds onto the story following the apocalyptic pandemic found in the first game of the series. Players follow four new survivors (Ellis, Nick, Coach and Rochelle) and work together to fight in new levels against huge hordes of zombies. There are three new special zombies that players should watch out for (or learn how to use if they’re playing as zombies in versus or the new scavenge mode). The Charger is the most terrifying to me. This special looks like a deranged Tank zombie with one oversized arm. As his name describes, he charges into a survivor then pounds the survivor into the ground until he or the survivor is dead. There are also some uncommon infected zombies, which include: zombies dressed as S.W.A.T. officers, zombies in hazmat suits and the most horrifying to me, clown zombies.

The game adds a lot to the series that improves the overall quality of the title. One thing that players will notice right away is their ability to use melee weapons. Players can keep the fight going using pans, baseball bats, nightsticks and my personal favorite, a guitar. The melee weapons are quite effective, unless survivors are completely surrounded by a horde of zombies. For the most part, these weapons are one hit kills, but the survivor has to be willing to get close enough to deal some real damage.

There is a new A.I. Director 2.0 that continues the spawning of enemies based on how the player is doing. The new Director also spawns weapons, ammo and even different environments based on how the players are doing. If the survivors are running to the safe house with ease, the A.I. Director will cause a building to fall and block a player’s path or have rain start to pour. The Director also rewards players for exploring the level by giving better weapons and ammo to players that take more adventurous routes. Things like incendiary ammo are spawned for players that go exploring.

Left 4 Dead 2 is a fantastic new game. I was worried that this game would just be an excuse for Valve to make more money since the sequel came out so soon after the first game, but this is a true gamer title. I would not be surprised to see this game win another “Game of the Year” title for this excellent series. Go to your local game store and pick up this title. You won’t regret it.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Definitely not Little Theatre

Posted by Kate on December 09, 2009
Life and Arts / No Comments

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By Jacob Castiglia
Life & Arts Writer

Earlier this semester Little Theatre took on one of the most renowned plays in existence, Romeo and Juliet. From November 19th to the 21st however, audiences at the Marie Maday Theatre were able to see a more obscure play, but nonetheless, a remarkable one. Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf first appeared on Broadway in 1962, which aimed to expose the true face of the American middle class couple. Although the play is certainly an ambitious one to stage, Little Theatre’s adaptation, led by director Daniel Kuether, successfully showcases one of the most intense and shocking plays of the 20th century.

What may have surprised those of you who attended the show was that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a mere four-character play. From the first scene an obvious love-hate relationship is presented between husband and wife, George and Martha, who invite the recently wedded couple, Nick and Honey, to their home for drinks at two o’clock in the morning. I have often heard the events of the play described as a night resembling these characters’ journey through hell. Such an interpretation would not be wrong considering how the interactions between George, Martha, Nick and Honey become more aggressive as each act passes, revealing the painful realities of each couple’s relationship in the process.

The role of George was played by sophomore Josh Robinson who effectively grasped the essence of the character. George is a peculiar, invasive and often frightening man, and Robinson conveyed these qualities well. He always presented a sense of contained anger, which at any moment could be unleashed.

Martha was played by senior, Alicia LaClair, who gave a superb performance. The complexity of Martha’s character makes this no easy task, but LeClair’s obvious determination followed through on stage. She is exceptionally talented at showing a range of emotion, whether it be in her portrayal of Martha’s childish behavior towards George or the agony she feels as she is forced to live a life without illusions.

Anthony Volpe performed as Nick, a timid and insecure biology professor. What stands out is how well Volpe illustrates Nick’s transformation throughout the play. He starts out as an uncomfortable and awkward man, but as the night goes on, he gains a certain degree of assertiveness. During the final moments of the show, Anthony achieves in portraying a character who is much more confident and aware of his life’s imperfections.

Although Honey is a rather superficial character, Colleen Shaughnessy executed the role proficiently. Honey is a ditzy young woman, often completely oblivious to what is happening on stage; Colleen’s performance makes this very believable as well as the devastation Honey expresses when her secrets are unveiled.

However, a great deal of credit must go to director Daniel Kuether for putting it all together. Every aspect of the play was noticeably polished and creative, such as the lighting which corresponded to the atmosphere on stage and the sound of a ticking clock prior to the show starting; this effectively gave the feeling that something bad was about to happen. Kuether’s creativity and obvious attention to detail truly complimented the constant anxiety of the play.

Ultimately, everyone involved with Little Theatre’s adaptation of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? deserved the rounds of applause that followed each performance, especially the cast who took on four very difficult and emotional roles.

Together with the work of both the director and the crew, Little Theatre put on a tremendously successful and stunning show. If you weren’t able to see it, I encourage you to watch the 1966 film adaptation so you don’t miss out on this incredible play.

New Moon adds new dimensions to the Twilight saga

Posted by Kate on December 09, 2009
Life and Arts / No Comments

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By Katie Kawa
Copy Editor

A strong book-to-movie adaptation should bring to light parts of the book that were overlooked or underdeveloped, increasing the appreciation for the original material while standing on its own as a strong film.

A problem occurs when the film adaptation brings to light flaws in the literature it is based on, raising questions and doubts where none existed before.

This is the problem encountered in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the film version of the second book in Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular series about the star-crossed love between a human and a vampire. Its success as a film is mainly due to the success of its development of a relationship that leads to a dead end and frustration with the heart of Meyer’s story.

The relationship in question is actually not the central romance between Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Readers of the novel know that Edward is missing for much of New Moon, having left Bella in what he views as an attempt to protect her from the dangers of being with his kind.

No, the real focal point of the film is the budding relationship between Bella and her best friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). After Edward’s abandonment leaves Bella a shell of the girl she once was, the adoring Jacob is the only one who can pick up the pieces. However, Jacob has problems of his own to deal with, and his transformation into a werewolf adds another level of anxiety to Bella’s already unstable footing in the world of normal teenagers.

It is clear for Meyer that the feelings between Jacob and Bella were never meant to overshadow the all-consuming love between Edward and Bella, but that is precisely what happens under the direction of Chris Weitz in New Moon.

It seems that no one can talk about New Moon without talking about Lautner, but the conversation should be about more than just his statuesque body, which is displayed without a shirt for much of the film. His Jacob has an inherent warmth and unconditional love for Bella that should be what has teenage girls swooning rather than just his chiseled features.

The chemistry between Lautner and Stewart is electric. They have a wonderful mixture of playfulness and serious attraction that only serves to make Bella’s choice appear all the more difficult to the audience.

The issue then becomes the fact that the choice isn’t difficult in Meyer’s eyes. The love Bella has for Edward was always supposed to overshadow the love she has for Jacob, but that does not come across at all in New Moon. The chemistry between Stewart and Pattinson, which was so raw and beautiful in Twilight, feels forced here. Heavy breathing and pained expressions do not alone equal burning passion, but that is all that is to be found between them in this film.

The cheesy dialogue that has come to be expected in Twilight films is spread evenly between the three leads, though Stewart has an ability to make Bella convincing even at her most ridiculous. Her acting has vastly improved since the first film, but much of that stems from her interaction with people other than Pattinson.

The supporting characters stole many of the film’s scenes, especially Billy Burke as Bella’s father, Anna Kendrick as her hilarious shallow friend and Dakota Fanning as a vampire who can physically torture using only her mind.

The movie belongs to its stars, though, and it lives and dies by their interaction. Fortunately, the tender chemistry between Lautner and Stewart keeps the film alive. Unfortunately, that chemistry leaves many doubting Bella’s ultimate choice of Edward over Jacob, which is the very lifeblood of the series.

It will be interesting to see how those doubts will be handled when the next film, Eclipse, is released this summer.

Shea’s to present award-winning In The Heights

Posted by Kate on December 09, 2009
Life and Arts / No Comments

By Katherine Songin
Life & Arts Editor

The original cast of In The Heights performing on Broadway

The original cast of In The Heights performing on Broadway

Musical theater lovers and anyone who can appreciate the importance of home, family and finding where you belong will enjoy Broadway’s new musical that has captured the hearts of viewers since its debut in 2008.

The New York Times called it “a singular new sensation,” New York magazine called it “the most satisfying musical in years,” and the Associated Press deems it “a destination well worth traveling to.” This January, Buffalo’s Shea’s Performing Arts Center presents In The Heights in its first national tour.

In a universally represented story set in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, In The Heights represents a vibrant community that struggles as they take chances and chase their dreams, all the while never forgetting their roots and where they came from.

Last year, In The Heights prepared for the 2008 Tony© Awards where they were nominated for thirteen nominations and emerged with four awards in major categories including Best Musical, Best Music and Lyrics, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations.

With what first was a dream, Lin-Manuel Miranda created his personal reality with a masterpiece that has been deemed the present and future of the Broadway musical.

“We have built something that is going to outlive us,” said Miranda. “It’s even written into the show, ‘What do we leave behind?’ ”

Time magazine labels the musical as  representative of the new Barack Obama era, as it represents hope and change on Broadway, reaching out to new audiences and proclaiming the “Yes We Can” philosophy to viewers on Broadway and, now, to the entire nation.

“There are those moments when the show becomes part of the consciousness of the world,” comments the Joseph A. Callaway Award-winner and Tony© Award nominee, Thomas Kail. “It becomes part of a world that you have come conscious of for so long. This show is part of our world, now.”

“The cast has an energy that could light up the George Washington Bridge for a year or two,” stated the New York Times in their review after opening night. With a show that claims to be so fresh, innovative and compelling, one can only hope that the touring cast will be just as electrifying. Kyle Beltran will play the main character, Usnavi, alongside Daniel Bolero as Kevin, Rogelio Douglas Jr. as Benny, Yvette Gonzaelz-Nacer as Vanessa and Arielle Jacobs as Nina.

“People come, people go,” proclaims Usnavi in the final song, “In The Heights.” “Let me show all of these people what I know: There’s no place like home.”

In The Heights will be performed as part of Shea’s 2009-2010 M&T Bank Broadway Series, Jan. 26-31, and tickets start at just $27.50.

To avoid the service fees, tickets can be bought directly from the Shea’s Box Office located at 650 Main St.  For tickets online or over the phone, customers can call Ticketmaster  at 1-800-745-3000, or visit their website at www.ticketmaster.com.

For additional information, please visit Shea’s pages on Facebook, Twitter or www.sheas.org.

Dunkelman gives lecture about Michelangelo

Posted by Eric on October 26, 2009
News / No Comments

On Thursday, Oct. 1, Martha Dunkelman, Ph.D., gave a lecture entitled “What Michelangelo Learned in Bologna.” Dunkelman, who is chair of the Depart­ment of Fine Arts and director of the Art History Program at Canisius, gave the talk as part of Canisius’ “Meet-the-Faculty” se­ries.

In the talk, Dr. Dunkelman wanted to showcase her non-teaching professional work, specifically her interests in the Ital­ian Renaissance, including the works on Donatello and the great Michelangelo, especially in his younger years. In addition to Michelangelo, Dr. Dunkelman is also fascinated by the smaller-scale devotional objects that would have been found in in­dividuals’ homes at the time of the Italian Renaissance. Much of her talk focused on personal reactions to these devotional pieces.

Dr. Dunkelman’s talk helped present the art of the Italian Renaissance in ways other than those found in a classroom set­ting. The presentation included a slide-show showcasing numerous works from Michelangelo’s stay in Bologna, a period in his early years as an artist which art histori­ans believe influenced his later works, such as his famous Roman Pietà.

Michelangelo’s visit to Bologna, a city in northern Italy that was a hot spot for the arts and culture during the Italian Re­naissance, took place between 1494 and 1495 C.E. According to Dunkelman, the city was a thriving city filled with hard-edged, expressive artists. The University of Bologna, which was established in 1088, is the oldest in Europe and is still revered as an important centre of European intellec­tual life.

Dr. Dunkelman talked in great depth about her own trip to Bologna, during which she had the opportunity to visit many of the young Michelangelo’s works in person. She presented many of her per­sonal photographs taken in Italy as well.

Using her own personal photos al­lowed her to explain her theory that small devotional works of art were meant to be viewed from a lower angle. In typical Ital­ian homes, they were almost always dis­played well above eye level. These pictures showed drastic differences in the artwork when viewed at eye level as opposed to from below. This, according to Dr. Dunkelman, is just one example of the innovation of the young Michelangelo.

“We would do well to capture his youthful receptivity,” Dunkelman said of Michelangelo, who was only 19 during his stay in Bologna.

The professor first delivered a talk on the topic of Michelangelo’s year in Bolo­gna at the Sixteenth Century Studies Con­ference in Geneva, Switzerland, in May of 2009. Dr. Dunkelman has also published Central Italian Painting 1400-1465, as well as numerous articles and reviews about art and art history. She has been infatuated with the Italian Renaissance since she be­gan studying art at Wellesley College.

The talk, which lasted just under an hour, drew numerous students from the undergraduate body as well as many faculty members from the Fine Arts department and the rest of the Canisus Community.

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Ask Nancy: Where does all my money go?

Posted by Eric on October 26, 2009
News / No Comments

Welcome back to Ask Nancy, where each week we answer your financial ques­tions. You can e-mail me at asknancy@ canisius.edu, and each week I will feature one or two questions. Here is this week’s question:

Dear Nancy,

On Thursday, I got my paycheck- I went out to celebrate Thursday night, then Friday I went to dinner with the girls, and Saturday I went to the mall to find a cute outfit to go out in. Later, I took my boy­friend out for a really special dinner, and afterwards we went to this new club down­town. Sunday, my roommates and I invited the guys over for pizza and the game, and by Monday, I was already running low on cash! I just don’t know where it goes!

Broke in Buffalo

Dear Broke in Buffalo,

It sounds like you want a little help managing your money. This really starts with setting a savings goal. Do you want to spend all of your paycheck in a weekend or do you want to start saving? I assume that you want to change because you are writ­ing me. Let’s assume that you want to start saving, either for your future, to pay back student loans, or to make a major purchase.

To make and achieve a realistic sav­ings goal, you need to create a budget. That means calculating how much money you have to spend each month, knowing how you are currently spending your income, and then making decisions about where you can cut back to achieve savings. That will require making some tough decisions about your needs versus wants.

To calculate how much income you have to spend each month, include money from your job, birthday checks, the holi­days, etc. Next, keep all of your receipts for 2-4 weeks to give yourself an idea of what your expenses really are. Divide the receipts into categories like rent, food, clothing, car expenses and entertainment (including HBO, Internet). Maybe even include a “boyfriend/girlfriend fund,” or a specific entertainment allowance.

Now comes the hard part. You need to identify those purchases that are wants. For example, we all know eating is a ne­cessity, but going out for food is a “want.” Clothing is a “need,” but designer apparel is a “want.” The expenditures that you identify as “wants” are those that you can forgo and save instead.

Once you decide how much you can realistically save out of your current spend­ing, you really need to put yourself on an allowance and plan ahead of time for ex­penditures. If you know you usually buy a pizza on Sunday, plan that into your bud­get and see if it works.

Azuwur unveils “PostSecret Canisius”

Posted by Eric on October 26, 2009
News / No Comments

Today, Azuwur will unveil its theme for the 2009-10 yearbook to the public. En­titled “PostSecret Canisius,” the theme will pay homage to the popular community mail art project stated by Frank Warren.

The PostSecret project asks people to anonymously mail in homemade postcards with a secret about themselves on one side of the card. These secrets are displayed on PostSecret’s website.

PostSecret has become extremely pop­ular since it started in January of 2005. The series has spawned multiple books and even a museum exhibit, but now it will become part of Canisius College’s yearbook tradi­tion.

Azuwur is hoping PostSecret will en­courage students to help take part in the yearbook in ways they never could before. Students will be able to submit their own secrets by dropping them off in various box­es around campus.

“Secrets can be anything: funny, sad, heartwarming, embarrassing, etc.,” said Da­mion L. Morris, Editor-in-Chief of Azuwur in an e-mail to The Griffin.  “As long as it is true,” he added.

Submission boxes will be placed out­side the Andrew L. Bowhuis Library, in the Commuter Lounge located in the base­ment of the Richard E. Winter ’42 Student Center and in the Old Main vestibule. The boxes will be collected on Nov. 24.

To coincide with the yearbook topic, the Canisus College Student Program­ming Board (SPB) will be bringing Frank Warren, PostSecret’s founder, to speak at Canisius.

In addition to starting PostSecret, Warren has spearheaded suicide preven­tion efforts to help those who reach out in their postcards. In 2008 he teamed up with 1-800-Suicide to help people through cri­sis hotlines he helps set up on college cam­puses.

Warren will not only talk about the importance of suicide prevention but also share his favorite PostSecret stories and discuss the importance of the website.

For more information, please contact the yearbook at azuwur@canisius.edu or at 716-888-5379.

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Trustees name Hurley 24th President

Posted by Eric on October 26, 2009
News / No Comments

Tuesday represented an incredibly important day in Canisius College history, marking the announcement of the College’s 24th president, John J. Hurley. After several months of deliberation, a national search came to a conclusion this week when the Canisius College Board of Trustees announced its selection in Montante Cultural Center.

Hurley is a 1978 alumnus and currently serves as the College’s executive vice President and vice president for college relations. His appointment to the position of president will be effective July 1, 2010, and is subject to the execution of an employment contract. Hurley will succeed the Reverend Vincent M. Cook, S.J., as Canisius’ first lay president in the College’s 139-year history.

The crowd that gathered at the Montante Cultural Center Tuesday morning was among the first group of individuals to officially hear the news. Vice President for Business and Finance Patrick E. Richey began the occasion by saying a few words, welcoming guests and thanking the Presidential Search Committee for their hard work and dedication to the selection process.

Joseph Castiglia, a 1955 graduate of the College, made the announcement on behalf of Canisius’ Board of Trustees. In reference to Father Cooke’s legacy as president, Castiglia described the 17-year reign as an example of “extraordinary leadership.”

“Few could imagine the success we would realize,” Castiglia said. “It takes a very special type of leader to raise the bar, a visionary who can bring plans to life, a person who understands and embraces and supports our Jesuit education, vision and values.”

Hurley, who spoke following Castiglia’s declaration, accepted the offer, thanking those present for their attendance and the Board of Trustees who “humbled” him with this appointment. In reaction to the perception that he will be the first non-Jesuit president of the College, Hurley spoke directly to Canisius’ Jesuit community, assuring confidence in his ability to lead the College into its future and uphold its Jesuit values and philosophies.

“I look forward to working with them very closely to ensure that Jesuit identity at Canisius College is not only preserved, but it is enhanced,” Hurley said. “I thank them for their vote of confidence.” Present at the announcement were members of Hurley’s family who have supported him throughout the process.

Hurley currently serves as the director of Canisius’ “A Legacy of Leadership” campaign, where he guides the College to its goal of raising $90 million. Hurley said his appointment and the successful conclusion of this search “serves as a confirmation of that vision that was first articulated by Father Cooke many years ago and to all of us to achieving it in the months and years ahead.”

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Alyssa’s Asking: Sam Zarka

Posted by Alyssa on October 01, 2009
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This week I spoke to freshman Sam Zarka of the men’s soccer team. Zarka, who hails from Paris, France, scored his first goal of the season – and of his collegiate career – in the team’s win against Robert Morris last week.

I was able to get his opinions on life in Buffalo and at Canisius, among other things. And, of course, we talked some sports as well.

What are your plans for life after Canisius?
Go back to Paris.

If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one person in the world, who would it be?
Melanie Dacheux.

What is the best food you’ve ever eaten on campus?
Waffles.

What’s your favorite TV show?
“Friends.”

What is one job that you could NEVER do?
Police officer.

Do you have any pets?
Labrador.

What is your favorite movie of all time?
Leon, The Professional.

What is your favorite sport to play (other than your Canisius sport)?
Table tennis (ping pong).

What’s a bad habit you have that you’d like to break?
Saying bad words in French during games, but I will never break it because I LOVE it.

What is your dream job?
Billionaire.

If a movie was made of your life, who would play you?
Me.

Where did you go to high school?
St. Jeanne Elisabeth in Paris.

What is one band/artist that you’ve gotten into recently?
Miley Cyrus, and I hate it.

What is one thing that you wish you could do really well?
Sing.

What is your favorite thing about Buffalo?
Jason Marks.

What is your favorite sport to watch?
Women’s volleyball.

What is one thing you’re looking forward to as the season progresses?
Win games…and get a girl but I won’t tell you who…