Perfect Pumpkins

Corn mazes, scarecrows, and turkey. Oh My!

It may not feel like Fall has arrived in Texas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the fun activities it comes with. One of the most popular things to do this time of year is carving pumpkins, but knowing where to begin might be a challenge. Let’s learn how to pick and carve your perfect pumpkin.

Step one is the search. It can be as simple as going to your local grocery store, but one of the best parts about fall is visiting pumpkin patches. These are perfect setting for drinking apple cider, maybe iced apple cider here in Texarkana, and taking fun pictures. There is a perfect patch on Moore’s Lane right in front of the William’s Memorial Methodist Church. When your hunting begins, find one that is symmetrical and flat-bottomed, this will ensure good balance. Keep in mind that the lighter skinned pumpkins will be easier to carve because their skin is softer, but the darker ones will last longer.

When you get it home, wash and dry the outside, and store it in a cool area until you’re ready. Next you will want to cut the lid so you can clean out the inside. After carving a circular top, use a scoop to clean out all the guts. Be careful not to get too close to the sides, leaving about an inch of smooth skin to work with.

Next you will transfer your preferred pattern with a marker onto the outside of the pumpkin as a guide for your carving. If you’re at a loss of ideas check out the website below, there are over 700 free templates to choose from.

Now it’s time to carve away. Tools are up to your discretion. The easiest way will be using a clean, sharp knife. While following your pattern, cut in a steady, continuous motion. When you’re all done, you can preserve your creation by spraying it with bleach.

Happy Carving and Happy Halloween!

http://www.pumpkinlady.com/

Come Home to A&M-Texarkana!

October 9-14 Texas A&M-Texarkana Eagles gear up for Homecoming 2017! There will be plenty events for students, faculty, and community members to take part in.

Preliminary voting for Homecoming Court opens Monday, so be ready to cast a vote for your favorite nominee! Our 2016-2017 Homecoming King Brian Huynh described opportunities he had during his reign by quoting Michael Jackson’s famous lyrics, “I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life. It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference…” Throughout the year he was presented with different opportunities to represent our university in positive light. He ended the statement with “Go vote for Homecoming Court!”

Tuesday there will be a Homecoming Spirit Banner Competition. This event is an opportunity for organizations on campus to show their school spirit. Banners will be judged based on creativity, originality, appearance, and relation to soccer and homecoming.  The organization that wins will be awarded a pizza party during one of their meetings. Judging is at 12:00 p.m., so get your creative juices rolling!

Wednesday will consist of “Rally on the Lawn” and “Chalk the Walk” from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on the University Center Lawn. Come hungry, because there will be Chick-Fil-A! Wax hands, air brush tattoos, and bubble soccer will also be open to students. Organizations and individuals can compete in chalk the walk, and all materials will be provided. During the rally, your 2017-2018 Homecoming Court will be announced.

On Thursday, Homecoming King and Queen voting will open. That evening, we will also welcome back Eagle Alumni to our University at the “Eagle Round Up Distinguished Alumni and Faculty Celebration.” Wear your jeans and cowboy boots, and be sure to brush up on your two stepping! We will feature a live band and BBQ. At 8:00 that night, our seniors will have their bonfire and torchlight parade.

Friday night, Invisible Man will be showing at 6:00 p.m. in the U.C. Lounge, and there will be a Homecoming Glow Run at 8:00 p.m. beginning on the U.C. Lawn. Don’t worry, you don’t have to run it if you don’t want to. Wear as much white as possible, because you will be sprayed with color throughout the course.

Saturday wraps up the fun-filled week of events with a chili cook off beginning at 9:00 a.m. The women’s soccer game begins at 3:00 p.m. and the men play at 5:00 p.m. Between games, your new homecoming king and queen will be crowned.

Don’t miss out on these festivities! Student Life Coordinator Michael Stephenson says, “We have had an increase with participation in the banner competition and I hope this is foreshadowing for the upcoming week. This is a great opportunity for us to come together and celebrate the Eagle family and rally up to support our soccer team.” Check your ace mail for more information on how to register for events.

Halloween in a Hurry

If you are like me, you love Halloween because it is one of the few occasions you don’t have to buy gifts for someone or bring some kind of dish. You just dress up and have fun. This holiday doesn’t require one to be with family, and encourages one to just go out and have fun, fun for all ages from trick-or-treating in the neighborhood as a kid to doing a Halloween pub crawl as an adult. It has everything from costume parties, contest, to random events.

If you are still like me, then whenever Halloween comes around it either sneaks up on you, or you just do not have the money available. So, how does one dress up for Halloween when it sneaks up on you, and you are on a budget? Listed below are a series of budget friendly ideas.  I tried gathering the most unique and fun ideas I could find.

 

It’s Raining Men

  • What you will need:
  • Umbrella
  • Set of male portraits
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Tape

 

As the pictures suggest it is simple, just cut out the faces and tape string to the back of the portraits. Hint: If you have fishing wire you can use that instead of string. Next you open the umbrella and tape the other end of the string to the edges of the umbrella.

 

            Group Guess Who

  •             What you will need:
  •             Cardboard/ thick poster
  •             Scissors
  •             Markers
  •             String
  •             Tape
  •             Red or Blue Shirt
  •             *Paint Optional

Make a frame out of the available poster or cardboard by using the scissors. In this case a sturdy white poster would work best. Next you can paint or draw the ‘Guess Who” title and name onto the frame. Hint: If able, you can print the title and name out, and simple cut and paste it to the frame. Measure the inside width of the frame with the string, cut it, and then tape it to the inside width. This step will allow the frame to balance on your head without having to use your hands. Next pick a plain red or blue shirt to wear and you have your costume. You can try to style your face to look like a genuine Guess Who character but you could also use your name and go as yourself. It’s Halloween so it’s all up to you, and this idea is great for groups.

Brawny Man

  • Red Plaid Shirt
  • Blue Jeans
  • Brawny Paper Towels

Alright guys, this one is for you. If you have a red plaid shirt then all you need to do is buy a thing of Brawny paper towels and there you go. All you have to worry about is losing the paper towels throughout the night, but if someone happens to make a mess, then you are a man prepared.  Hint 1: If you lose the paper towels and have an ax at hand you can be a lumberjack. Hint 2: If you lose the paper towels and add a tool belt then you can be Al Borland from Home Improvement.

            Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn

  •             Black or White Dress
  •             Jewelry
  •             Make-up

Both of these lovely ladies are great by themselves but this is also a great idea for that best friend costume. It’s simple if you have a black or white dress already on hand. Just add a few accessories, do your hair and makeup and you have an elegant costume ready to go.

Jelly Belly Unisex

  • Clear Trash Bag
  • Printed Jelly Belly Logo
  • Clear Tape
  • Scissors
  • Multi-color Balloons

Start with inflating the balloons. Then take the Printed Jelly Bean logo, cut and paste it to the front of the clear trash bag. From their cut yourself some arm and legs holes, reinforce the holes with tape. Hint: If you want a more secure hold tape to yourself, but I recommend wearing leggings/pants and a longer sleeve shirt. Once the clear bag is secure begin putting the balloons inside the bag. Once that is complete fix the top to where it looks good and is comfortable.

            Emoji Time

  •  Yellow Poster
  •  Scissors
  •  String
  •  Markers
  • *Extra Paper
  • *Glue

This is a great solo, group, and unisex costume. And it requires minimum work. Have a yellow poster, cut it into a circle. Take the markers and color in the desired emoji face. Hint: If you do not want to risk discoloration, then color the pieces of the face on plain white paper, and then copy and paste it onto the poster. Once the face is complete poke two holes at the top of the face and thread the string through. Essentially, you are going to wear the face as a necklace. Not the string on both ends secure with tape. Make sure to wear all black underneath and you are good to go.

Darla the Fish Killer

  • Ziploc Bag
  • Nemo Cut out
  • Tinfoil
  • Makeup
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Hair Ties
  • Clear Tape

The amazing thing about this costume is it really doesn’t matter what you wear clothing wise. You cut and paste Nemo to the outside of the Ziploc bag fill with water and stick to the side. Next you add freckles to your face and put your hair up into high pigtails. After that, you take the tinfoil and roll it up and curve into a circle. You can curve the tinfoil around the ears and wear it similar to how you wear glasses, or you can pin the tinfoil to your hair. That’s it. That is all you have to do it and everyone will realize who you are imitating.

Ace Ventura Pet Detective

  • Blue Jeans or Khakis
  • Hawaiian Shirt
  • Hair Gel
  • Note card
  • Markers
  • *Sunglasses

Another simple costume for the guys. The biggest thing you will need is a Hawaiian button up shirt and we all know someone who has one of these shirts. You will need hair gel to give your hair that swirl, but other than that all you need is the note card and markers to create the Ace Ventura business card. Hint: Yes, he is seen with red pants but blue jeans will work fine. The message still comes across clear. Sunglasses are optional.

Sims Character

  • 2 pieces of green stock
  • Wire
  • Head Band or Hat
  • Glue

This costume is great for those who really don’t want to dress up, yet still want to be part of the part. You can dress like your normal self and put on the diamond and you instantly transform into a sim character. The costume is then enhanced if one takes on the role of a sim character. The plumbob diamond can be homemade. If you are like me and you are a visual learner then the DIY tutorial is down below.

Identity Thief

  • Hoodie
  • Name Tags
  • *Sunglasses

Grab your favorite hoodie and the name tag labels from Wal-Mart. Write random names on the name tags and stick them all over the hoodie. For an added effect try different writing styles or get your friends to help you out. Sunglasses are optional.

 

My challenge to the faculty of Texas A&M University-Texarkana.

I challenge you to dress up like Hogwarts Professors. So, call upon your inner wizard or witch and let us all have fun this Halloween. TAMUT community, feel free to dress up like Hogwarts students!

Blade Runner 2049 Review: The Perfect Successor

Blade Runner 2049 has been rated R for Violence, some Sexuality, Nudity and Language.

Sitting in a theatre for an extended period to watch a film, no matter which it is, is becoming something of a miracle for me. Whether I’m excited for it or not, it just doesn’t seem to influence me buying the ticket, setting the time aside and going. Blade Runner 2049 started as that kind of movie – I was more aware of its lengthy runtime than I was its source material, more aware of the cost of the ticket than I was that Harrison Ford or Ryan Gosling starred in it. I was also aware of the praise being given to it and of a particular term – ‘The Perfect Sequel’. Happy as critics were to label 2049 as such, I don’t know if I could say the same. What I can tell you is that this movie is, in every sense, a must watch – Blade Runner 2049 an example of what a film can truly be when free of its obligations.

Yet let us not throw away the term of ‘Perfect Sequel’ too quickly, as I agree that on its face, once could see Blade Runner as such. One main reason for its labelling is that 2049 doesn’t attach itself to its official predecessor, the Final Cut of the original Blade Runner. Another is that 2049 does not franchise Blade Runner – over the course of its 2 hour, 40 minute runtime, 2049 tells its own, unique story. This is correct – there are no deliberate omissions of closure to help anticipation for another film. However, to say that 2049 lacks attachment to its predecessor is an understatement – frankly, 2049 acknowledges the age of its source material and almost expects you to have never watched the first film. In fact, 2049 is perhaps best viewed without a refresher of the original. What it does with that material works best when seen from the perspective of Ryan Gosling’s character, K. 2049‘s inciting action, a chance discovery of a secret long-buried, sets the Blade Runner on a journey to unravel a mystery of identity and a collision course with original Blade Runner protagonist Rick Deckard. Deckard’s inclusion in the film, along with any mention of prior events, are used as pieces of the puzzle as opposed to things you should’ve known prior to watching 2049. You’ll learn what you need to from them and move on.

In watching the performances of the film’s main cast, it struck me that every character in some way felt important. 2049 is, much like its stance on the original material, not content to weigh itself down in traditional methods. Its runtime certainly lends itself to this – every character has ample time to sell their performances and be fleshed out. You come for Ryan Gosling’s K, you stay for Sylvia Hoeks’ Luv – a powerhouse in her own right, much like Harrison Ford and Jared Leto are. Considering Ryan Gosling’s ability as a silent actor and the brief screen time of Ford and Leto, it’s clear 2049 wanted to play as much with audience’s expectations of actors as possible – the result is tasteful and not necessarily disrespectful, although I would’ve loved for Leto’s character, Niander Wallace, to have been given more time to keep doing his thing.

Lending itself to the stellar performances is the visual treasure trove and cinematography. Everything in 2049, from sweeping cityscapes to intimate imagery can only be described as worthy of pause. More than once, or twice, or a dozen times even, 2049 tells a story and sells you a lifestyle on its imagery alone. The protein farm of Sapper Morton; the downpour of an overcrowded and despondent Los Angeles; the vibrant yet lifeless Las Vegas – each place speaks to a facet of this world never explicitly stated. It never needed to – director Denis Villeneuve shows incredible skill with the camera throughout, almost never using the same trick twice to keep the film as much about the film as possible.

Blade Runner 2049 is perhaps not the Perfect Sequel it is lauded as. 2049 doesn’t want to be held back by such terms. It would be accurate to call it the Perfect Successor to Blade Runner – it’s stood on its own two feet, unconcerned with merely elevating the original or placing the franchise on some pedestal for the future. It’s an investment for the present – no long-term contract required.

Destiny 2 Review: Apology Accepted

Between the pedigree of the studio and perceived change of allegiances from the home of their flagship franchise on Xbox consoles to Sony consoles, Bungie had probably set the bar high enough before pre-release footage and marketing was even factored in. September 9th, 2014, the next major Intellectual Property (IP) from Bungie, developer of the critically acclaimed Halo games, released. Titled Destiny, it was released worldwide with expectations best illustrated by the tagline of the series to this day: Become Legend.

It was spectacularly less than. Technically sound but rife with intrinsic issues Bungie would address over the next three years of their ’10 Year Plan’ for the franchise, Destiny was the game many loved but many, many more were left with a bad taste in their mouth from. Fast forward to September 5th, 2017 – the release of the official sequel, Destiny 2. I’ve returned to the game with each expansion for one reason or another but this was the one occasion where I put my foot down – if Destiny 2 wasn’t good enough to stand on its own, I wasn’t coming back. And so, I played – and if I had to leave you with two words from a less-than-pleased player of the original game that sums up my feelings of Destiny 2 – Apology Accepted.

Let me be more concrete. Destiny 2 is first-and-foremost a First-Person Shooter (FPS) game concerned with grounding its gameplay in Role Playing Game (RPG) elements. As in Destiny, players are a Guardian, one champion of many of a moon-like entity sat just above the Earth’s surface known as the Traveler. You, along with your fellow Guardians (be they players of in-game characters) have fought to protect the Traveler and the people of the Last City from a myriad of alien threats – the four-armed, scavengers called the Fallen; the Hive, necro-aliens infesting the Earth’s moon; machine-aliens named the Vex; and the imperialistic brutes of the Cabal. It is this fourth, last race that takes center stage in Destiny 2 – within ten minutes the Cabal have successfully invaded the Last City and sealed away the Traveler, depriving you of your Light – the source of power bestowed by the Traveler which grants you otherworldly abilities. Oh, and your immortality. That too.

You, the Traveler and the Cabal assaulting the Last City.

The game’s plot centers around this premise – having been led via a vision to a shard of your god and regaining the power to fight back, you must retake the Last City, free the Traveler, defeat the Cabal’s Red Legion and take down their leader, Ghaul. The game’s campaign, taking place over roughly ten to fifteen hours, is extremely simple, devoid of depth and poorly paced, having you move very quickly in later portions of the game through planets which otherwise have a wealth of content to explore. Yet, despite such grievous issues, it is far more filling than the campaign of the original Destiny, in large part because despite all its flaws, Destiny 2 conveys what’s being done as opposed to its predecessor, where you’re presented the things your character is doing. In particular the game’s lore on various locations, characters and events, present in its predecessor almost only through Grimoire Cards accessible via a companion app has now been corrected in the second game, with the lore being present as fleshed-out dialogue during missions (which changes depending on the race of your character and whether you’re a returning player) and scannable items in the in-game world. This is much more accessible and personal, something that consistently grabs the players attention as they stumble upon previously unknown information which might embellish a known topic, answer a lingering question or, as is often the case in the Destiny games’ storytelling, pose entirely new ones.

What’s always been a solid delivery for the Destiny series is the gameplay itself. Players choose from one of three classes – the headstrong Titan, the cunning Hunter or the empowered Warlock. From there, you have access to three subclasses, which change the class’ primary element (Void, Solar or Arc) and shake up the gameplay through a unique super move and various perks or changes to the core concept. While players may find one play style to their liking above all others, each class and subclass feels distinct and rewarding to play. As this game is primarily a shooter, you’ll use many, many guns – mostly of varying types separated into Kinetic, Energy (which are the same type of guns as Kinetic Weapons but with an elemental modifier) and Power (separate in type and application – big weapons for big threats) Weapons. Finding a load-out you like and sticking to it is made difficult by the game’s system of progression, wherein the average strength of all equipped gear will decide the power of gear acquired later. Without proper foresight and planning, you can easily lock yourself into a high-powered gun or armor piece of the wrong type, which delays progression in the game until you happen to get the things you need and work your way back up again.

What’s worth noting however is that even in these instances where you’re artificially given a hurdle to climb, there’s such a wealth of content to undertake whether by type or place that you’ll likely never burn out on anything as you play. Within any of the four planets that serve as the games’ settings, you have your main campaign missions chronicling the Red War, supplementary Adventures and post-game Quests – additionally, there are Public Events which appear at set intervals within the game world as freeform goals to complete, Regional Chests to find and collect and Lost Sectors to explore and clear. In addition, there’s Player Versus Player (PVP) game modes, Strike missions (undertaken by a team of three players), the weekly Nightfall Strike (one of the Strikes within the game set on a timer, with modifiers to gain back time and change gameplay) and the six player Raid, a multi-stage trial requiring geared, capable players to complete various complex tasks to progress. The sheer enormity of ways to progress in the game means that at any stage of play, you’re acquiring valuable loot for your adventures such as the highly sought after Exotics, weapons and armor with unique perks that can drastically alter styles of play. Such a large amount of content – none of which feels overly repetitive or specifically there as padding – means that no two players will gear the same and should you ever get bored with how you’re playing the game, you can change things up and still feel as rewarded there as you were before.

As a long-time player of the series, having seem the ups and downs of the Destiny series, Destiny 2 represents a fresh start and the best foot forward for the franchise. It’s not perfect but it isn’t built on fundamentally broken components like its predecessor was, and as it grows and develops in the coming years, Destiny 2 will remain a heartfelt apology to fans of the series and an example of how Bungie has learned from the experience and wishes to move forward – with purpose and clarity. And, well, you know my thoughts on that already. If there were ever a time to say this, it’s now, at such a crucial time for the series:

Become Legend.

What’s Up With Kpop?

Korean Pop, better known as Kpop, is popular music from South Korea. Kpop has also had a solid following all over the world since the 90s.  One South Korean everyone might be aware of is Psy, who created the Gangnam Style dance craze that went viral back in 2012.  Since his insane popularity the South Korean government has giving the Kpop industry money to continue its work in the hope it would put South Korea on the map and encourage tourists to come to the country.

What makes Kpop unique is that it has managed to incorporate all genres of music from rock, pop, and metal, to jazz, rap, and R&B. It has taken all these genres and made its own brand. It’s not strange to hear several genres played in one song. Kpop also features boy and girl bands alike that can have up to 10 members. Unlike U.S bands Kpop bands tend to have several more members and they start training really early. They are taught to sing, dance, and play instruments at a young age. They compete with thousands of other  teens just as skilled. They practice 12 hours a day, including time for studying, because education is important in South Korea. They attend Kpop private schools where one 3-month semester can easily cost $1,000. Keep in mind that they can start as young as 6 and at roughly $4,000 a year, by the time they reach 18 a private school can cost up to $48,000. Even then they are not guaranteed to be in a band, but with their extensive study, they are still able to go on to college and get well-paying jobs.

Kpop has opened its arms to all genres and culture. It takes the best parts and makes it unique. The Kpop industry has been marketing its music and videos to be globally friendly, with 44% of song titles in English, and a lot of the choruses and hooks in these songs in English as well.

Below are three different songs. Which one is your favorite? I’d love to know why.

This song is to showcase a very popular boy band as well as how this expensive music video has found a way to incorporate different genres. This song is likely a party song as it encourages people to dance. “Put your hands up, like you got your country back. Jump up, like you would sprain your ankle. Shake, like you have a seizure. Sing a song together everyone. Ringa-linga-ring Ringa-linga-ring”

 

This song is to show that Kpop bands can have numerous people and yet they find a way to showcase everyone almost equally. This chorus is essentially telling a guy that if he likes me very very very much then call me. The rest of the song goes on to describe how the girl doesn’t know if the guy is serious about her or not and she wants to know either way, all while her friends and family call the guy a snake.

 

The song is called crazy and it fits. By crazy, she does not mean insane, she means more like wild. In the song she states she is crazy, everywhere she goes it’s crazy. Don’t fight the crazy, embrace it.

Destiny 2 Begins First Wave of Releases

The highly anticipated sequel to the Action Shooter series released on September 9th, 2014 and helmed by original Halo developer Bungie Studios, Destiny 2 has released worldwide (September 6th) to PS4 and Xbox One consoles and will release on PC October 24th.

Continuing a three-year long series set in a not-so-distant future wherein humans have accelerated their civilization’s expansion with the aid of an otherworldly planet-size being known as the Traveler, players take on the role of a Guardian, champion of the Traveler and all civilization within its Light. After an attack on the Traveler and the last bastions of humanity by the Cabal, hostile alien occupants of Mars, players must defeat the Cabal army now occupying Earth, freeing the Traveler and taking back their home.

Losing what has been home for fans of Destiny is not lost on them and is a deliberate choice for Bungie – while the games predecessor had a historically rocky launch and post game history, in effect restructuring what in the game’s early years was called a ’10 year plan’, Destiny 2 aims to expand on the goals of the original. It’s packing more story, content and gear than the first game at launch and to continue delivering enjoyable, cooperative content for players for many years to come.

Players can progress through the games campaign alone or with two friends, take part in instanced Strike content and partake in overworld content in the games new Patrol areas in areas such as the European Dead Zone (EDZ) of Earth and Titan, a moon of Saturn. Participating in any of this content, as well as the game’s player versus player (PVP) game types, awards the player gear such as weapons and armor, any of which can be unique Exotic items carrying unique perks. As before, players accumulate stronger gear and weaponry for harder content in the game’s endgame, such as the six player Raid or upcoming DLC content such as the upcoming Curse of Osiris expansion.

Early impressions and in-progress reviews of the game show a favorable reception, with commentary that the time Bungie put into this sequel to the original was not in vain – the experience feels fresh and wholly rewarding. However, time will tell if the appeal holds as it should into the many, many months ahead for fans of the series.

Destiny 2 is out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles for $59.99, will be available on PC on October 24th and is available at any major retailer or online through the consoles’ respective digital marketplaces.

Follow Fear (How Ellen’s Fear Made Her Millions)

If you could do anything in the world without failure, what would it be? Would you become an astronaut, a cardiologist, or a talk show host? What is keeping you from following your dreams? Comedian, successful television personality, and a household name, Ellen DeGeneres has done the “impossible” and is a prime example on why facing your fear is a good thing. Although everything may look effortless as she enters her 15th season of The Ellen Show, making a name for herself was a struggle.

A yogi by the name of Sadhguru once said, “Fear is simply because you are not living life, you are living in your mind. That means your fear is always about that which does not exist. If your fear is about the non-existent, your fear is a hundred percent imaginary.” Before DeGeneres was a big time talk show host she starred in a sitcom called Ellen from 1994 to 1998. In 1997, she did something courageous she stopped hiding her true identity and by coming out and saying she was gay on national television. Mind you, this was during a time when people did not discuss sexuality, gay marriage was far from being legal, and there were a few openly gay actors.

DeGeneres says, “I didn’t do this because I was fearless, I did it in spite of the fact that I was scared to death…it made me really proud of myself and made me realize I wasn’t as weak and pathetic as I thought.”

Can you imagine what it’s like to be judged by millions simply because you don’t want to live a lie? Many people admire Ellen for her honesty because in life you will always be faced with things that scare you, but it is up to you on how you choose to let “fear” affect you. Ellen lost her career for three years, lost all her money, and had to start all over. There may be a time in life when most of us will hit rock bottom. You will either let your “failure” consume you, or take that opportunity to start over and get back on your feet.

As Ellen once said, “The bad things are our biggest teachers.”

After being inspired by Johnny Carson, Ellen herself wanted to attempt her own talk show but once again was fearful because her thought was, “Who is going to watch a gay woman in the middle of the day?” Now 15 years later the show is doing more than okay!

The path to success is not a straight line and if you truly want to live your purpose and maximize your full potential you must live without fear. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, take risks, and be unapologetic for your personality. Nothing happens over night, I once heard Oprah say, “l don’t believe in luck, ‘luck’ is when preparation meets opportunity.”

No matter how “bizarre” your dreams may seem, it’s possible, remember in 1997, people thought Ellen would never be able to show her face in Hollywood again.

This Generation’s Obsession with Superheroes

Superheroes have become a major part of modern day pop culture. Every century has their obsession, The Greek era had its obsession with pleasing multiple gods and the 80s went through its obsession with neon colors and insanely poofy hair. So when and how did superhero movies become popular?

It can be said that the beginning of superheroes becoming mainstream in cinema was Spider-Man in 2002. There were plenty of superhero films before Spider-Man, but this was where superheroes began having a big effect on millennials. Now we have the ability to portray them in a realistic way. The more technology progressed, the more realistic super heroes became.

Iron Man is a playboy, and that isn’t exactly the best role model. However, he does defeat terrorists, and considering that is such a prominent topic in our media and politics today, Iron Man is made relevant to us. Iron Man began Marvel’s phase one of the cinematic universe that we see today. There has been a superhero film almost every year since then and is all ultimately leading to Avengers Infinity War, which will be one of the biggest films in history. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad–there has never been a film where so many previous films and characters lead up to it.

We also see the tone of the movies getting darker. In Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight we not only see a Batman like we have never seen before–more dark, brooding, and self-aware–but also a Joker that leads the audience to question human nature itself. Heath Ledger’s Joker was a darker and different Joker than we had ever seen before. Normally fans would be outraged by any change to a long beloved character, but Ledger did it right. That sets up a type of superhero film that people wanted to see. It is the reason DC has been able to keep up with Marvel. Both companies have brought their own unique attributes and beloved characters.

Marvel has somewhat taken DC’s darker approach with their release of the Netflix series Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones–all of which leads up to the release of The Defenders. The Defenders are not fond of being called superheroes. They are much more complex, and audiences have shown fondness of such complex characters. In our modern world, complex characters and anti-heroes are becoming more popular. Deadpool for example is an anti-hero. He is a taco loving, fast talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humor. The reason for dark, complex characters to become popular is most likely because of today’s politics.

In today’s world it is hard to distinguish good from bad. Even in Captain America: The Winter Solider, Captain America struggles to find a side to trust when Shield, a once trusted institution, turns out to be taken over by Hydra, the all foreboding enemy. The audience is able to understand and accept that everything in life is not a black and white scenario; cinema is able to delve into such topics now.

Whichever way the superhero films go, they are here to stay. They may not be as popular in the future as they are now, but they definitely started something that reflects our views and generation.

Stepping Up: Arkansas High Theater

Allison Hall

Arkansas High, of all things, is probably least known for its theater program, but I have a feeling that that is about to change. In 2014, a new instructor was introduced and he couldn’t be doing a better job. Since the arrival of Mr. Hamilton, set design, casting, cast and crew chemistry and much more has blossomed. The most recent production, performed four times from April 21 to April 24 by both a white cast and a red cast, blew my mind having one of the most energetic casts I have seen in a while. I attended the white cast performance only, yet it is clear to see that there is a lot of new and eager talent moving up the theatrical ladder at Arkansas High.

Harvey, an original 1941 piece, was performed amazingly by the white cast. Upon entering the student union at Arkansas high, the audience was swept away by melodic notes of what is assumed to be songs of the era. The atmosphere was great. Sitting in eagerness, the audience is greeted by a very vivid and optically pleasing set as the curtains open at seven. Differently than typical shows, the music didn’t stop. It continued and followed a light footed maid around the set. The really cool thing about the set was the fact that it was double sided and rotate friendly. The curtains never closed. While scenes changed music played and the audience got to experience the creation of a new area, which, to me, added to the elegance of the show. Everything ran so smoothly and gracefully. Even the characters seem completely natural.

Speaking of characterization, the cast was phenomenal, particularly James Hodges playing as Elwood P. Dowd and Semaj Harris who played Judge Omar Gaffney. Hodges did exceptionally well in creating this quirky, smooth, and lovable Elwood that made the audience chuckle and aw at his innocence. Elwood came across as this pure child-like man and the audience fell in love. It really worked in contributing to the idea of the imaginary bunny (sort of an imaginary friend that a kid would have) and the thought of Dowd actually being mentally unstable (kind of a coping mechanism for whatever the issue may be). Spoiler alert, in the end Elwood is fine, but Hodges’ use of swift arm gestures and naturalized interaction with a rabbit that’s obviously not there kept the audience guessing. It felt magical. Mr. Harris was a different story. The audience had love for him, but for completely different reasons. His over the top stereotypical judge persona and use of a typically authoritative klutz accent sent the audience over the edge. It was funny. And I don’t mean funny like I just heard a joke about the economy and chuckled. I mean funny like I just saw another flying lawnmower video pared with random music and laughed until I cried. His timing is impeccable. This added so much to the comedic vibe he put off. He paused at just the right moments to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Venturing from these two, the entire cast was really incredible.

In the end, Harvey was fun and family-friendly and actually entertaining. I’m still in awe. I can’t wait to see the next show in the fall. I urge that you do the same!