A Look Inside The War Room

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Stag Bus or Drag Bus? New round of complaints for school’s off-campus travel

A student waiting at the BCC bus stop

A student waiting at the BCC bus stop

Fairfield University student Lauren Buscone ‘15 was shivering as she stood outside of the Marshall’s on Post Road. She’d just gotten done her night shift at a local restaurant and was eager to get out of the freezing nor’easter snowstorm that had come just days after Hurricane Sandy.

She’d been waiting at the designated Fairfield University Stag Bus stop for about 45 minutes in total, assuming that even with delays a bus should have shown up by now. It was only when her smart phone was finally able to pull up the “Stag Bus Locator” webpage that she discovered “Status: Shuttle Not in Service”.

She then started the 2-mile walk back to campus.

Thankfully, she was picked up on the way by a friend, but other times she has not been so lucky.

“It has happened to me a few times at this point,” she said. “Usually later at night.”

Buscone is just one of the many Fairfield University students who remain unhappy and frustrated with the operation of the Stag Bus.

In an unofficial online survey distributed to 85 undergraduate Fairfield University students, 68% said that they were currently dissatisfied with the means of off-campus transportation provided by the university.

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Recurring Problem for Students

Throughout the years, the Stag Bus has been a point of frustration for several Fairfield University students.

Since the year 2000, there have been 11 articles written about the Stag Bus by Fairfield University students in the school paper, The Mirror, most of which voiced their complaints and concerns about the Stag Bus. This means that there has been a different story written nearly every year for over a decade.

Some of the eye-catching and self-explanatory headlines students have used are “Not Homeless; Just Waiting For the Bus”, “More Stag Bus Woes” and “Is the school bus a bust? Some students seeing Red.”

Some of the most popular complaints made by students in the past have had to with how students thought the shuttles were too small, how the daily route didn’t include enough stops and how Fairfield Prep students were taking spots on the bus that belonged to university students.

The man who is in charge of addressing issues concerning the Stag Bus is Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Fitzpatrick.

Jim Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick, who has been overseeing Stag Bus operations for the past 20 years, says that the university has and will continue to consider student’s comments and complaints in order to make the operation run more satisfactorily.

“It’s one of those situations where you’re always striving for 100% perfection,” Fitzpatrick said. “You don’t get it, but you try to push and do everything you can to be able to get to that standard.”

Other Schools

While the term “Stag Bus” might be exclusive to Fairfield University, the concept of schools providing off-campus transportation to students is one that seems to be consistent nationwide.

It appears that almost all major colleges and universities offer some form of off-campus transportation. Subsequently, they have their own collection of complaints.

For example, Kate Hannigan ’14 of Providence College, claims that their shuttle doesn’t go to locations that students find interesting.

“We have a shuttle but I don’t really know too many people who use it,” she said. “It doesn’t run to the places that students actually want to go to.”

Another is Lauren Cook ’15 from Fordham University, who described the quality of the vans used to transport students off campus as “disgusting.”

“I once got picked up at night and the entire backseat was covered in someone’s throw up,” she said. “I almost threw up too.”

Sacred Heart University, another school located in Fairfield, CT, also offers an off-campus shuttle that runs a very similar route and schedule to that of Fairfield University.

According to students, there bus is far from perfect as well. One major complaint that SHU students have has to do with the condition of the buses themselves.

Kati Csizmadia ’15 said, “[The buses] break down sometimes which causes unexpected delays. Usually they fix it quickly but it’s still an inconvenience. I missed a class because of it once.”

Biggest Complaint

Currently, the biggest complaint that Fairfield University students have with the Stag Bus is its schedule and timing.

The current Stag Bus schedule begins at 11:15 a.m. every day and runs on a 45-minute circuit that starts and ends at the bus stop right outside of the Barone Campus Center. Monday through Thursday, the bus stops running at 10:30 p.m. but on Friday and Saturday it runs until 11:15 p.m. On Sundays, it runs until 7:30 p.m.

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“I usually work late on Sundays,” Buscone said. “And I always end up scrambling for a ride or walking. I just don’t understand why they don’t run a later bus on Sundays.”

In the same distributed student survey, 72% of students said that they were unsatisfied with the current Stag Bus schedule.

“I wish it would run more frequently,” Sebastian Salvo ‘15 said. “As opposed to every 45 minutes, every 25 minutes.”

Catherine Fox ’16 said, “I wish it would run on a shorter loop. Instead of running every 45 minutes, it would be great if it ran every 30 because I know there’s been times when I need to catch a train and it’s been tight.”

Survey question about Stag Bus schedule

The timing of the Stag Bus has proven to be a significant problem for those students who work off-campus, namely those with jobs in town and those who have internships in New York City.

“Sometimes I have to get out of work, like, 10 minutes early,” said Colleen McFadden ‘15, a student who works at the Banana Republic in town. “But by then it’s already left or sometimes I’m waiting another ten minutes.”

Edward Reilly, an employee of Dattco, the bus company that Fairfield hires to run its shuttle service, has also observed a problem with the Stag Bus scheduling. Students more familiarly know Reilly as the day shift Stag Bus driver.

“To improve [the Stag Bus], they should try and synchronize it more,” Reilly said. “We have a problem with two trains on the Metro: the 5:15 and the 6 o’ clock. Either we just make ‘em or we just miss ‘em. If we could do something about that, I think it would be a help.”

Cost Too High?

Despite the fact that the university is aware of student’s discontent regarding the present Stag Bus schedule, according to Fitzpatrick there are no immediate plans to change it.

As is the case for several departments on campus during these tough economic times, one of the many reasons why no major alterations will be made to the schedule is due to lack of funds.

“I would love to run an earlier bus but it’s just not in our current budget,” Fitzpatrick said.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that cost has negatively impacted transportation offered by the university.

According to Fitzpatrick, in the year 2009 the university cut funding for an on-campus shuttle that transported students between different locations that are on the outskirts of campus, such as the Dolan apartments and the Dolan School of Business. (See “It’s A Long Road to Dolan” Mirror article).

While Fitzpatrick did not disclose the figures behind the financial impact that this cut had on the university, he did say, “…the reductions that have been made regarding transportation has translated to a significant cost savings for the university during a time period where staff were being laid off and programs were being cut. It did not have a minor impact on being able to keep some [other] programs on campus.”

Better Than Ever?

Despite the problems that some students still have with the current Stag Bus, Fitzpatrick claims that things are going better now than they ever have before.

According to him, so far this semester he has only received 5 official complaints from students, which is a record low.

“The Stag Bus, just like anything else, is not perfect,” he said. “But I think the track record overall this year has been well above average.”

Inside the StagBus

Some students agree, such Sara Robicheua ‘13, a student who works at the information desk in the BCC. She said, “This year it is way better than many of the other years. I’ve been working here for four years and this year they’re always on time. I can only remember one day when things got really messed up.”

Connor Kelley ’15 shared similar sentiments, “I think it’s really convenient and I think it’s a good thing that Fairfield does for its students. It’s doing a pretty solid job so far this year.”

What to Expect

Even though there are no changes to be made to the schedule in the foreseeable future, Fitzpatrick remains hopeful that alterations that are soon to be made to the “Stag Bus Locator” page, which features a real-time map that allows students to see where the Stag Bus is on its current route, will help students to better plan the timing of their trips.

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While this may have been a convenient and helpful feature at one point, Fitzpatrick describes the current webpage as “archaic and out of place” and that the university “cant get rid of it soon enough.”

“We’re hoping that at the beginning of the spring semester, there’ll be an app for the bus system,” Fitzpatrick said. “That way you will be able to get on your smart phone and find out exactly where it is.”

While Fairfield University continues to search for the magic formula to make everyone happy, students will have to make due with the current system.

“I appreciate that we have [a bus] at all,” said Jimmy Hughto ’15. “But it could be better.”

See also: Possible Solution to Campus Transportation Problem

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis New Haven Concert Review

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After fighting their way onto the popular music scene, Seattle-based hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are finally cashing in on the success that persistence, a loyal fan base, and more than 10,000 hours of logged studio time studio will get you.

Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) and Ryan Lewis have been working together as a collaborative team since 2000 and are currently in the process of ascending from their status as hometown heroes to that of national superstars, having finally found success after their recently released debut album titled “The Heist.”

“The Heist” was released on Oct. 9 and entered at No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes download charts and No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts, selling 78,000 copies in the first week.

As soon as their album was released, the duo embarked upon The Heist World Tour, which was created to promote and celebrate their debut album.

Recently, the band performed at Toad’s Place in New Haven, which was the first time either of the West Coast gentlemen had been to Connecticut.

Currently, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are not signed to a record label. According to Haggerty, this is completely by choice, as the band has been offered several contracts at this point but has turned them all down.

In a song off their album called “Jimmy Iovine,” Haggerty raps about what it’s like to be an independent artist in today’s modern music industry and how, at the end of it all, the artists themselves are the ones left with the short end of the stick.

One of the many facets of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ overwhelming success as independent artists is the fact that their music, more specifically their latest album, isn’t comprised of a bunch of similar songs. In fact, it could be argued that their diversity and variety is what’s making them so popular; it’s as if they have a song for everybody.

While some of their music is heavy and deals with serious topics such as their song “Otherside” about battling addiction, they have produced plenty of light-hearted songs such as “And We Danced,” which is a humorous song about enjoying a really great impromptu dance party.

The pair have also been applauded for producing several songs that comment on and draw attention to civil rights topics and societal issues such as gay marriage, racism and the dangers of consumerism.

Like many artists who are making it big these days, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ success is rooted in a strong Internet presence and subsequent fan base.

Known for their artistic and high quality videos, several of the band’s music videos have gone viral, including the videos for their singles “Thrift Shop,” which is played regularly on BET, and “Same Love,” a video about marriage equality that has been viewed on YouTube more than 30 million times. This latter video has also drawn the attention of well-known celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, who had the the band on her show for a live performance of the song and gave everyone in the audience a copy of their CD.

Their Nov. 18 concert at Toad’s Place, a small and relatively intimate venue, was filled with a frenetic and nearly tangible energy that can only be produced by genuine fans. Many in attendance were college students from nearby schools such as Yale University, Quinnipiac University and Fairfield University.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing "Victory Lap"

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing “Victory Lap”

Fairfield sophomore Patrick Kueny who attended the concert said, “The crowd was unbelievable, absolutely amazing… that was probably my favorite part. Everyone was singing along to every single song and we all knew the lyrics.”

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis gave an entertaining and lively performance that came with all the trimmings: sequin-clad dancers, multiple costume changes (including wigs) and more than a few stage dives and crowd surfs.

When the familiar beat and trumpets started blaring, introducing their most popular single “Thrift Shop,” the crowd roared and seemed to break out in dance simultaneously. Before Haggerty started rapping, he pointed to a few people in the audience who were sporting fake fur jackets and asked if he and Lewis could wear them as they performed the song.
Unsurprisingly, they said yes and crowd surfed them up to the stage.

In between sets, Haggerty and Lewis would address the crowd and talk about a variety of topics, ranging anywhere from how thankful they are for their supportive fans to how pretty they think the girls in Connecticut are.

In what most fans would consider a highlight of the night, Haggerty complimented the crowd on their enthusiasm and energy, saying that this crowd may have cracked their top three favorites of all time.

iPick YouListen

The Way We Get By- Spoon 

I really don’t what it is about this song, but whenever this song comes on my iPod I instantly feel cooler. If it weren’t so socially unacceptable, I’d probably start snapping and finger-gun pointing at random strangers who walked by. Perhaps it’s the unexpected combination of a catchy piano melody, strong beat via the drums and a tambourine that just won’t quit. Perhaps it’s that secret satisfaction I feel when Britt Daniels (lead singer) mentions some odd thing that he does that I also happen to do. Whatever it is, listening to this song quite frequently is one of the ways I get by.

Freaks and Geeks- Childish Gambino 

Childish Gambino, aka Troy from the show Community, aka Donald Glover has some of the freshest and most original rap verses I’ve ever heard. I don’t think he goes more than 3 lines in any of his songs without making some kind of clever word play that you hear and then 30 seconds later are like, “Oh now I get it, [insert laughter here], that was a good one.” While his songs are riddled with expletives and should under no circumstances be played while your mother is in the room, they’re great for getting the zone. His beats are catchy, his delivery is impressive and his lines are memorable.

Don’t Go- Rae Morris

Confession time: I discovered this show while watching Degrassi. Judge me if you must, but it was a really sad episode (that I may or may not have watched it more than once) and it featured some good music, such as this song. I’m pretty sure every girl out there has that one really sad song that they turn to when they are in need of a good cry and this is mine. It is a soft and delicate piano ballad about a girl who (you guessed it) doesn’t want her love to go. Rae’s voice is saturated in this sad desperation that can be detected in every note, making it beautiful and heart breaking all at the same time.

You’re an Ocean- Fastball

One of my personal philosophies (I have many) is to never be friends with someone who can’t appreciate a good throwback song. This song was the one that came on the radio during the early 90’s when you were driving in the car with your entire family and everyone belted out the chorus even though not a single person knew (or cared) what band was singing. I throw this song on when I’m driving around during the summer and just yell it, especially when I’m down the shore, because sometimes I like to point out the window as I drive by a beach and sing, “You’re an ocean!” to the ocean. Too punny, I know. 

This was published in Fairfield University’s newspaper The Mirror.

Zipcar: Possible Solution to Transportation Problem

An image of a ZipCar from the company's website

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One of the ways that many colleges across the country are improving the transportation options offered to students is by making car rental services easily accessible.

One company that many schools are investing in is called Zipcar, which is the world’s leading car-sharing service with more than 730,000 members and 11,000 vehicles in urban areas and college campuses throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria.

According to a press release from the official Zipcar website on October 9th 2012, the company has added dozens of new schools to its popular University program this past fall, and now offers campus car sharing at more than 300 colleges and universities throughout North America.

Some of these recently added schools include Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, James Madison University, Temple University, University of Iowa, Villanova University and West Chester University.

Mark Norman, the Zipcar president and COO said, “Students love the freedom and flexibility Zipcar provides on campus and the ability to continue their membership in leading cities around the world when they graduate, while universities choose Zipcar’s leading brand and technology to deliver sustainable improvement in traffic congestion, parking requirements and emissions reduction on campus.” 

While Fairfield does not have a contract with Zipcar, it does offer a similar rent-a-car system by Hertz that is located near the Kelley Center on campus.

“I used it a bunch of times my freshman year,” said Patrick Kueny ‘15. “It’s a good idea but I don’t think a lot of people on campus know about it.”

Fairfield University’s First Majors/Minors Fair

Several Fairfield University students made a major decision regarding their academic future yesterday.

Some made a minor one.

The academic choices came during the first official Fairfield University Majors/Minors Information Fair that took place in the Oak Room yesterday afternoon.

Students of all grades were invited to walk around the room from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., stop by the different tables that were set up by various departments and learn about the various majors and minors offered as part of Fairfield’s undergraduate curriculum.

“I liked the way it’s set up,” said sophomore Connor Kelly, who is an undeclared business student. “Very easy to see all the majors offered and choose which one you want.”

While the event was cosponsored by several different academic organizations around campus including Undergraduate Academic Planning, Exploratory Academic Advising and FUSA, the people working the actual event were primarily administrators, students involved in the New Student Leaders program and professors from the various academic departments.

One of the administrators helping to coordinate the event was Suzanne Solensky, the Director of Undergraduate Academic Planning.

“I think the fair is going wonderfully well,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of enthusiasm on the part of various departments participating.”

One of the most notable features of the fair was the fact that the university’s Registrar Office had a table set up where students could not only ask questions regarding core requirements and recommended classes, but could also sign up for their desired major and/or minor on the spot.

“We thought it would be convenient to take one more step out of the process,” said Jessica York, the Director of Exploratory Academic Advising and one of the administrators helping to answer student’s questions.

Several students, such as Grace Janizewski, a Theatre major who was working at the Theatre table, thought this event was beneficial to students, especially those who are undecided or unsure of what academic path they want to pursue.

Janizewski described an experience she had with an underclassmen student who happened to wander by and eventually stop at her table. The student was a Management major in the business school who, upon learning more about the Theatre department, decided that he wanted to add a minor in Theatre.

“He wouldn’t have known he was interested if he hadn’t met a couple of us,” Janizewski said. “The fair is a nice way to cross paths and include everything that you need to in your education.”

Undergraduate nursing student Grace Lessard, who was hoping to add a Spanish minor, said, “I was really glad to hear they were having an event like this… I’ve been meaning to officially declare a minor for a while.”

While this is not the first time the university has hosted an event purposed to educate students about the various majors and minors offered at Fairfield, this was the first year that all major and minor options, regardless of their specific college affiliation, were represented at the same event.

According to Solensky, this new event came about for two main reasons.

The first is that an event which had typically been held every October called “Core Unmasked”, which gave undergraduate students information about the core curriculum and different academic departments, was unable to be held this year due to lack of funding.

The second is that administrators thought it would be a good idea to take each of the various major/minor informational fairs that are hosted by each individual college within the university and consolidate them into one event.

Solensky explained that this new all-encompassing Majors/Minors fair is almost entirely built off of the largest informational fair held at the university, the one for the college of Arts and Sciences, which is typically held every spring.

As students left the information fair, they were encouraged to fill out a survey about their experience and what they would recommend to improve it.

“I didn’t declare a major or anything but it was fun to shop around,” said freshman Brianna Relihan. “Now I have a lot to think about.”

Poet, Veteran and Fairfield Alum: Colin Halloran ‘12 and His New Book “Shortly Thereafter”

While most soldiers consider family pictures and cigarettes to be some the most valuable things one can have while on tour, Afghan veteran Colin Halloran said he couldn’t live on the battlefield without his collection of books.

Halloran, who has published a new book of war poems titled “Shortly Thereafter”, said that’s one of the reasons why he was “not your typical grunt”, a line featured in one of his poems titled “Footlocker”.

Halloran, who served as a US Army soldier fighting in Afghanistan in 2006, read several poems from his book aloud to an audience gathered at the Fairfield University bookstore last Friday night.

He explained that he wrote the collection of poems based upon the experiences and    memories he gathered when he was fighting overseas and how they impacted him once he returned home.

The various poems in the book deal with several different topics and emotions, ranging anywhere from the sardonically comical account of nicknames people used to call him, to the sad reality of sitting through a boring college class after you’ve returned home and you know there are soldiers still out there fighting.

Before Halloran took to the podium to read aloud from his book, Dr. Michael White, Program Director of Fairfield University’s MFA in Creative Writing and personal friend of Halloran, stood before the audience and introduced him.

“I think he’s a wonderful poet, very mature,” White said. “He has developed a great deal.”

According to White, the men met for the first time about 4 years ago in a small coffee shop in Durham where they talked about poetry, the war in Afghanistan and Halloran’s interest in pursuing a creative writing degree. One year later, Halloran enrolled in the Fairfield University’s Creative Writing program and proceeded to study under White.

While at Fairfield, Halloran worked on several of the poems featured in “Shortly Thereafter” and used most of them in his thesis.

When asked what the most valuable skill he learned from working with the Fairfield creative writing program he said, “Figuring out my voice. As a writer, you have to know where you’re writing from, not just what you’re writing about. Through workshopping and close work with mentors and countless drafts I was able to kind of peel back the layers and get to that core of who I was.”

Although the book was only released on October 12th, 2012, it has already garnered some public attention and critical acclaim. So far, the book has been recognized for winning the 2012 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award.

In addition to writing poetry, Halloran also spends time traveling to schools throughout the Northeast where he works with students and teachers to teach them about the benefits of using literature in the history classes as well as how to analyze the ways in which poetry can inform various portrayals of war.

When asked about her thoughts on the reading, Brigitte Duffy, a friend and colleague of Halloran through the MFA program, said, “I was impressed by his depth of emotion and the way he described his experiences.”

During a Q and A session after Halloran was done reading, a member of the audience asked why he chose to write about his thoughts and experiences of war through poetry as opposed to other forms of writing, such as fiction.

Halloran replied, “Poetry gets down to the bare-bone essence of what you’ve been through…it is able to access that kind of emotional pull you experience and boil it down. That’s what I try to do.”

This article was published in Fairfield University’s school newspaper The Mirror

Finding the Road to Success via The Alternate Routes

Sitting in a booth at the Levee, occasionally being interrupted by the voice over the intercom informing people that their chicken turnovers were ready, the indie-rock band The Alternate Routes sat back and enjoyed a beer as they talked about music, making it big and how it all began at Fairfield University.

Several of the band’s members have graduated from Fairfield University, including lead vocalist Tim Warren ‘03, leadguitarist Eric Donnelly ’01 and drummer Kurt Leon ‘07. It was through their connection at Fairfield that all of these musicians met each and eventually came together to form The Alternate Routes.

“You know what’s funny, Tim, I don’t think I ever even told you this… The first time I ever saw you play was actually here at the Levee,” Donnelly said.

The two officially met a few days later after a friend of Warren’s walked up to Donnelly at a townhouse party and said that she was going to give his number to Warren. While Donnelly was mostly just confused as to how the girl had his number, Warren ended up reaching out to him a few days later and the two played together for the first time at the Quick Center during the spring Pops concert.

By the time both men had graduated from Fairfield, they had plans to move to Bridgeport where they would continue making music together and work on their first EP, which was released in 2003, titled “This is When”. They have released several albums over the last decade but are convinced that the best is yet to come.

“You always think the thing you’re doing is the best thing you’ve ever done or else you wouldn’t do it,” Donnelly said.

The Alternate Routes are scheduled to play on campus at the Quick Center this coming Friday, October 19th in celebration of Alumni Weekend. Tickets are currently being sold at the Quick Center box office. Tickets are free for Fairfield University students, $20 for alumni and $25 for the general public.

The band is excited not only to revisit the very stage where it all began, but also to continue to show fans and people who have never heard of them before the hard work, dedication and genuine passion that comes standard with every song.

“We’ve bet the last 10 years of our lives on the fact that people will like it… it’s something worth seeing,” Warren said.

Currently, The Alternate Routes are working on producing several individual singles that continue to showcase the band’s hearty, homegrown sound and thoughtful lyrics. Most recently, they have released a song called “Rewind” on their official website, which they worked on and produced in Nashville, Tennessee. They hope that these various singles will eventually culminate into their next album.

In addition to producing more songs, the band is also taking a step back and assessing some of the unmusical aspects of the music business that may reveal why they are still relatively unknown.

On the subject of making it big, Warren said, “We’ve been so close to being one of the bands that everybody knows about but, you know, we aren’t. We are friends and contemporaries with a lot of bands that you do know and we’ve seen that happen.”

Donnelly said, “It’s like a puzzle. You just have to figure out how to put all these things together and what makes something click and what makes something stand out. You never know. What we’re trying to do now is just own those details a little more.”

The Alternate Routes are currently trying owning these various details by themselves, as they are currently self-managed and working independently without a label. The band is quick to qualify that both of these decisions are by choice and that they feel working independently is the best decision for them at this time.

“You don’t need a publicist to communicate directly with your fans…you don’t need a label to make the people who like you happy,” Donnelly said.

One of the ways that The Alternate Routes communicate with their fans (other than their music of course) is through their social media presence. Like many bands, The Alternate Routes appreciate the opportunities and publicity a strong identity on the Internet can yield, especially given the technological tendencies of modern music fans. Donnelly said that he is in charge of the band’s social media presence, which he manages namely through their official website, Facebook and Twitter.

Even though The Alternate Routes have yet to take off in the way that they would like, they are far from being some unknown band from Connecticut. Throughout their career thus far they have toured all over the world, performed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and been interviewed on BBC radio. They have also had several songs appear on popular TV shows, such as their song “Please Don’t Let It Be” which was featured on an episode of MTV’s The Hills.

Despite the confusing and multi-faceted nature of today’s modern music industry, The Alternate Routes remain optimistic that their time is coming soon.

“I’m not a cynic,” Warren said. “Guys succeed everyday at it and it’s a weird combo of…I don’t know what yet. It’s that combination that all the people in our business are looking for.”

While The Alternate Routes keep meandering down this long winding road to success, fans are invited to tag along and enjoy the ride as the band continues to deliver the heartfelt music that has helped pave their way thus far.

Finals Week YouTube Procrastination

Finals week is coming up and you know what you need to do: find a cozy nook in the library, keep your travel mug perpetually full of caffeinated liquid and figure out a way to absorb just enough knowledge to pass the final exams that you’re fairly certain are going to rock your world.

But we all need distractions.

This sometimes means rewarding yourself for an hour of hard-core studying by watching a YouTube video of babies making sour-faces after sucking lemons (http://tinyurl.com/88u8xnd). Whatever gets you through!

Here are some particularly humorous channels that I turn to on a regular basis whenever I need distractions.

My Drunk Kitchen (YouTube: “MyHarto”)

This is by far my favorite channel to turn to when I need a break. It is a web series created by a girl named Hannah Hart who videotapes herself cooking delicious food in her kitchen, often with guest hosts and always with witty commentary. It should also be noted that she is quite inebriated off red wine before, during and after she is cooking. Dangerous? Probably. Hilarious? You know it.

Jenna Marbles (YouTube: “JennaMarbles”)

Odds are you have already heard of Miss Marbles. She is a spunky blonde with tons of attitude and who is known for being obsessed with her dogs, wearing a Ninja Turtles backpack and telling it like it is.

Although a lot of her videos are catered to a female audience, her views on gender-neutral topics are universally hilarious.If you need a heavy dose of sarcasm and someone to throw things back into perspective, she’s your girl. See: “How to Avoid Talking to People You Don’t Want to Talk To” (http://tinyurl.com/4qrmel2)

Theatre of Life (YouTube: “nick”)

It is essentially a video series of two guys named Nick and Beck who sit in beach chairs and do some intense people watching. The camera follows random people walking up and down the boardwalk while Nick and Beck add their own commentary, voice-overs and speculations. Their insight is hilarious, and every video has a way of making you feel like you’re sitting in a chair next to them, laughing along with some of your best friends.

Jimmy Tatro (“LifeAccordingtoJimmy” and/or “thejimmytatrochannel”)

All of the videos that Jimmy makes are funny – mostly because they deal with things that everybody can relate to on some level (see “Awkward Physical Contact”). Many of the videos that he and his friends make focus on some of the commonalities of college life such as Facebook stalking after a party or what it’s like to be part of a frat. My favorite videos are his “How To” videos because they are dripping with sarcasm and quotable one-liners. See: “How to Start a Bro Fight” (http://tinyurl.com/7jsu3j6)

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My Drunk Kitchen (YouTube: MyHarto)

This article was originally published in The Fairfield Mirror on April 25th, 2012. 

Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto” Challenges Fans

The one thing that Coldplay fans had anticipated almost as much as the Oct. 24 release of the band’s fifth album was an explanation to what “Mylo Xyloto” could mean.

There have been several theories circulating the musical blogosphere, although the band has yet to provide an official answer. The reason there is such fascination with this man-made word is that it is the name of Coldplay’s new album.

During a recent phone interview with The New York Times music critic Ben Sisario, Coldplay’s guitarist Johnny Buckland reportedly justified the album’s unusual title by saying, “When you’re on your fifth album, you are going to be judged against all your previous work and expectations. In a small way, this is us trying to break free of those expectations.”

Despite the mystery that still surrounds the album’s unusual name, the hype behind the album itself far outweighs that of its title.

Fans and critics alike have been waiting patiently for the album’s release, tantalized by the bright and unexpected cover art and only partially satiated by singles such as “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” and “Paradise.”

In the days leading up to the album’s US release, iTunes leaked one song a day to those who had pre-purchased the album in order to stoke the burning anticipation that was kindling in most fans.

“Mylo Xyloto” is reportedly a “concept album,” meaning that it is unified by one underlying theme. I do not have a definitive answer as to what this all-encompassing theme is; however, I would describe the overall tone of the album as whimsical and charming — the playful tale of a romantic love story.

Myloxyloto

The album’s sound is characterized by fast rhythms, syncopated beats and catchy melodies, all of which compliment light-hearted lyrics like those found in “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall;” ‘I feel my heart start beating to my favorite song.’

Even though this new style may immediately seem uncannily upbeat and very “un-Coldplay,” fans should be comforted to know that the band still has the same style.

They take their old sense of musicality and even some of their old style, and create a totally new hybrid by way of synthesizers and a more prominent bass.

If you are a Coldplay fan, give the album a few listens before crafting your opinion. There is no getting around it — “Mylo Xyloto” is a new and different sound for Coldplay. This being said, it is by no means a bad one.

“Mylo Xyloto” is a new take on an old favorite — an original masterpiece constructed from new, synthetic material and fragments of their past works.

But don’t just take my word for it; I encourage you to form your own opinion on the album. Maybe in the process you’ll be the first to discover exactly what “Mylo Xyloto” is supposed to mean.

This article was originally published in The Fairfield Mirror on October 26th, 2012.