1894 City Gallery and Membership Kickoff Review

On February 16th, Main Street Texarkana Hosted a Grand Opening for the 1894 City Gallery. The event was a success as over 200 people came to celebrate and support another downtown business. People from all around the area got to enjoy the live music. The style of the music fit in perfectly with the mood of the event while everyone browsed around the art gallery. The gallery part was the main section that was open, but the guest would wander up the stairs to see the upcoming apartments. People enjoyed seeing the floor plans and getting that before look, and the construction was a major topic of discussion and excitement.

The event allowed for Main Street to do their membership kick off where the community could buy a membership that helps Main Street Texarkana revitalize downtown. The organization works closely with downtown which has eight different restaurants, many museums and several shops that have a steady following.  Down town is home to photographers island (state line sign), The Arrow Bar (oldest bar in Texarkana), and the Texarkana Gazette. Of course there are many other attractions to downtown, and the Main Street website has them all listed.

Main Street Texarkana is a non-profit organization that focuses on rejuvenating downtown by encouraging traffic as well as offering grants and loans to potential business owners. The organization also offers free design assistance to those who help build up that area of town. Some common events associated with Main Street Texarkana include the Christmas parade as well as the more well-known Dine on the Line. The Texarkana City Guide is also published by Main Street. This non-profit organization relies on the support and donation of the community. A base membership is $25 with a student membership coming soon to encourage students to take part in downtown. Members get early access to event information as well as a variety of other things depending on the type of membership purchased.

If you missed this event, another downtown event, hosted by Texarkana Twin City Sports will happen in early March. They are throwing a downtown festival that will take place with the Big Bass Clash Fishing Tournament on March 9th-11th. Mainstreettexarkana.org as well as the Texarkana Twin City Sports website have more information about this event. To keep up to date with upcoming events, subscribe to the Main Street Newsletter.

Upcoming Red River Innovation Lab Event: Lev Manovich Book Lecture!

As the month of February comes to a close, Dr. Morton will be hosting the second Camus event held in association with the Red River Innovation Lab for the Humanities – a Book Lecture on Lev Manovich’s “Language of New Media”.

Where: UC217

When: February 27th, 12:15PM – 1PM

No reading necessary prior to this lecture – just come eager to learn and ask questions about the new opened RRILH!

Upcoming Red River Innovation Lab Event: Premiere Import Tutorial!

Dr. Drew Morton will be kicking off the first of many events held in association with the campus’ newly opened Red River Innovation Lab for the Humanities – starting from humble beginnings with a tutorial on importing DVD/YouTube clips into Adobe Premiere!

Where: The Computer Lab in UC323

When: February 1st, from 12:15PM to 1PM.

This will be the first campus event of the semester closely associated with the RRILH. Feel free to come to the tutorial with questions about what the Lab is and what it can do for you!

Memoirs of a Geisha

During the semester, I did not have as much time to read as I would have liked. I reread one of my favorite stories, Memoirs of a Geisha, recently and was reminded of why I enjoy this book.

The story is told from first person point-of-view from an older geisha. She begins the story when is a just a young girl in Japan during the Depression. Chiyo Sakamoto is a poor girl from a fishing village, but captures the attention of a man for her unusual eyes, which are a blue-gray color. She and her sister are taken from their home and Chiyo is sold to an okiya (house where geisha live) in a prominent area of Kyoto. The story is based on background information provided by retired geisha, Mineko Iwasaki, but Chiyo’s character is fictional. Without giving too much away, she becomes a maid before she begins her journey to being a geisha. Chiyo is in awe of the beauty of the geishas and the respect they are given, but the path is very difficult.

I enjoyed the novel because it read at a leisurely pace without being slow. In the beginning of the story, Chiyo is just a child. The narrative highlights her curiosities at that age and her emotions as she is taken from her home. It also reflects her maturity as she gets older and encounters different experiences. Reading the story made me feel like I was following Chiyo through her life. A good book will pull in its readers until they feel every emotion and that was my experience with this one. When there were moments of heartbreak, it hurt me to read of her tears and devastation. The story was very detailed, but well-balanced with dialogue. Many different characters are introduced throughout the story, but it was not confusing because there was a clear distinction between them. Each character had a strong impact on Chiyo and I could feel that through their descriptions.

Prior to reading this book, I had heard of geishas and only knew what they looked like. I did not know what they did, but there was a negative association between geishas and prostitutes. Geishas are traditional Japanese entertainers. They entertain men through song, dance, conversation and serve tea as hostesses. Young girls spent years training and perfecting their skills that would make them successful geishas. They went to schools that taught dance, musical instruments, and other skills. It was important for them to be successful because they were expected to repay their okiyas back for the money spent on their food, lodging, kimono, and other tools needed.

There is a great deal of effort and time that is required for being a geisha and not every woman can do this successfully. It is also important to note that some people would confuse geishas with prostitutes. The difference is that geisha’s wear their sash tied in the back, but the prostitutes tied theirs in the front. There are still some geishas practicing in Japan, but they are mostly in the company of the higher social class.

This book is controversial because Iwasaki sued Arthur Golden after the book’s release. According to her, he was supposed to keep her identity a secret and revealed parts of her life that were supposed to remain personal. She felt that he did not accurately portray her life and shamed the geisha profession. Iwasaki published her own book in 2002 titled, Geisha: A Life, to tell her story in her own words.

Whether the story is completely true or not, it is still a very good story that I can always come back to when I want something to read. This is also an award-winning movie.

Monster Hunter World PS4 Beta Ongoing

If you’re looking to take a quick breather from finals, how about taking some time to slay giant monsters?

Monster Hunter World is an upcoming action adventure game being developed by Capcom. It’s the next entry in a long-standing series about hunting down and defeating giant creatures which is now seeing its way to consoles – and is available to play now as a beta!

The Monster Hunter World beta is divided into three missions where you’re tasked with hunting down a monster of Easy, Medium or Hard difficulty alone or with friends. You’ll track and fight these creatures in ever-evolving boss battles across two stages from the full game – the Ancient Forest and Wildspire Wastes, pictured above. These stages also contain an Apex Predator monster, something you’d normally fight in its own mission which is instead just roaming the three missions available to be tackled as an optional boss.

None of these monsters are to be underestimated though – they’re fierce and unique, with styles of attack and characteristics unique to them that change the fight. An example is the above pictured Barroth, a monster with a rock-hard skull who coats itself in mud and muck as a sort of outer shell or armor.

You’ll be fighting these monsters using a plethora of tools and a wide array of weapon types to choose from, ranging from long-range options such as the Bow or Heavy Bowgun to more melee centered options such as the Longsword or Insect Glaive.

The beta is available to download on PS4 right now and the beta will last until 11AM Tuesday (12/12/17). Better get hunting!

Windows Mixed Reality (VR) Demos in Shreveport!

Looking to try out some new technology this holiday season? Here’s a suggestion – come get a demo from me of the new Windows Mixed Reality headset in Shreveport!

What? The Windows Mixed Reality headset is Microsoft’s own entry into the field of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. It’s been out since mid October and I’ve had the pleasure of demoing it for customers since! To go into detail here would detract from the demo but allow me to leave you with a slightly better idea of the system – Windows Mixed Reality is a VR headset designed to interact with your Windows 10 PC for a more accessible, more valuable VR experience.

Where? At the Best Buy at 7080 Youree Dr, Shreveport, LA 71105. That is unfortunately a full hour and a half from the Texas A&M campus so I’d suggest planning a day out in Shreveport with visiting the store at some point in mind – the demo’s about 7-10 minutes of time with the headset.

When? Here’s my schedule in store:

  • Wednesday: 5PM – 9PM
  • Thursday: 5PM – 9PM
  • Friday: 12PM – 9PM (Out for lunch between 4PM and 5PM, roughly)
  • Saturday: 11AM – 8PM (Out for lunch between 3PM and 4PM, roughly)
  • Sunday: 11AM – 8PM (Out for lunch between 3PM and 4PM, roughly)

This schedule continues until 8PM December 31st, at which point my job (as it is contracted) ends. There’s no word on if I’ll continue afterward or if it would be at the same store so you’ve got the next three weeks to decide if you’d like to stop by!

How? Easy – just come to the store and find me in the Windows department on the right hand side. I will be hanging around that area and I’ll be the only one in a Microsoft uniform – so feel free to flag me down!

Demos are first come first served – especially considering the drive to Shreveport from Texarkana (and I should know – I make that drive twice a day, four days a week!), I’d recommend earlier in the day and not later.

Of note, however, is that you’ll need to sign a waiver before putting this headset on and the powers that be use this to create an age restriction – Anyone under 13 cannot be demoed and anyone under 18 needs a Parent or Guardian signature in addition to their own.

That’s all you really need to know – anything other than that, I’d rather tell you in person. If you do stop by, I’ll be happy to run you through the demo – although as a favor to me, let me know you’re from Texarkana and saw this story when you stop by! I don’t post this expecting a large showing but it’d be pretty neat to know you’re a reader of the newsletter.

PlayStation Plus vs Xbox Live Gold December 2017

Xbox and PlayStation have been competitors since 2002. The evolution of the systems has come to modern-day online services so you can play against your friends. You not only pay a monthly fee to play online but you also receive a couple of monthly games for free. The question is:  which one is better?

This month on PlayStation:

PS4

  • Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition
  • Kung Fu Panda Showdown of Legendary Legends

PS3

  • Xblaze Lost: Memories
  • Syberia Collection

This month on Xbox:

Xbox One

  • Warhammer: End Times – Verminitide (December 1 – December 31)
  • Tales From the Borderlands (through December 15)
  • Back to the Future: The Game – 30th Anniversary Edition (December 16 – January 15)

Xbox 360 

  • Child of Eden (December 1 – December 15)
  • Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death (December 16 – December 31)

Both consoles offer great game but PlayStation only offers two. Another downfall is that once your PlayStation Plus subscription expires, you are no longer able to play the games you got free. Xbox allows you to keep and those games for as long as you want, even when your subscription expires. Xbox also has backward compatibility where you can play Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One.

When I first got my Xbox One, I was able to download Xbox 360 games I got for free with Gold years ago. As an owner of both consoles, Xbox Live Gold is overall the better buy.  If you buy a console this holiday season, you might want to keep these things in mind.