CMAs: down-home controversy
Nov25

CMAs: down-home controversy

As is their custom every year, country music fans sat in anticipation watching to see which of their favorite stars would take home awards for their music. It was hosted yet again by a hilarious Brad Paisley and pregnant Carrie Underwood. They joked about everything from Ebola to Taylor Swift’s switch to the pop world.   What perhaps garnered the most laughs was an Ebola-inspired duet of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” re-named “Quarantined” by Underwood and Paisley.   This year highlighted what many hope is not a permanent break with tradition. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Eric Church’s joint rap number and a performance by Ariana Grande left a lot of viewers scratching their heads.   What made the evening more controversial was a racial joke from Brad Paisley. He informed the TV audience they would not be seeing ABC’s new show Black-ish, but instead they were viewing “Whit-ish.”   This ignited a bitter firestorm of tweets from fans and celebrities alike.   One particularly passionate Tweeter @Tennacvol sent out, “Don’t get why @BradPaisley is getting grief over his comments, #BlackishABC … Isn’t the title racist itself? #comeonman.”   That wasn’t Paisley’s only flub of the evening. In an interview with the Highway, a Sirius XM country station, Underwood said she would be keeping the gender and due date of her baby a surprise. Paisley, in what may or may not have been a planned spilling of the beans announced that she would be having a boy.   Underwood says she and her husband may name the baby after Garth Brooks.   Country music’s hottest power couple, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert took home several awards that evening. Lambert, broke a record becoming the most decorated female country vocalist.   In an interview with ABC, her husband, Shelton, sarcastically said “I told my wife when we were walking off the stage, I go, ‘Miranda, I’m sorry, you only won four CMAs tonight. I mean, I’m really sorry.’”   Rising star, Kacey Musgraves received “Song of the Year” for her single, “Follow Your Arrow.”   “For a song that I was told could never be a single, it just blows my mind…. It’s just an anthem for all kinds of people, so I could not be more proud,” she told...

Read More
Belton native lives out long-time dream
Nov25

Belton native lives out long-time dream

Almost every person who comes from a small town dreams that their future holds something greater. They hope to get out, travel the world and make something of themselves.   Brandon Jarratt, a Belton native, was one of those small town kids not too long ago. But recently, he made his visions a reality and is now working at Disney, his dream job.   It all started in 1995 when Toy Story was released.   “I fell in love with the idea that you could use computers to help make an awesome film … I’ve always loved movies, and I’ve always loved the hand-drawn Disney films, but that movie in particular was new and exciting for me as a kid,” Jarratt said.   When he was in high school, he found out that Texas A&M had a visualization master’s program. Being so close to home and closely connected to what he had always dreamed of doing, Jarratt went on to study computer science and got his undergraduate degree.   While in the master’s program, Disney partnered with a program that Jarratt was a part of in the summer of 2011 that worked with students to help them create short films. With this opportunity, he was able to meet his current boss, Hank Driskill.   The next summer, Jarratt applied for an internship with Disney where he spent eight weeks working under some of the people he now has the opportunity to work alongside of.   Since, Jarratt has started working full time with Disney, he has spent almost two years on the newest Disney animation, Big Hero 6. As an assistant technical director, he worked on software development for the film along with technical support for the artists, helping them fix any kinks they might have.   “One of my major projects last year was to work on building the city of San Frantokyo, which is where the movie takes place. It’s a fictional city that’s a mashup of San Francisco and Tokyo,” Jarratt said. “If you’ve ever lived in San Francisco or anybody who sees it … then they’re going to recognize things. … It’s all based on real life.”   Jarratt has seen the film in its entirety eight times because of the amounts of screenings the production crew goes through. He said the storyline is great and has action and humor that appeals to children and adults.   “All the work I did on the technical side — building the city, all the things we did to get it to look right — none of that would matter if the story was no good, so I’m...

Read More
Interstellar: Out of this world
Nov25

Interstellar: Out of this world

A cloud of dust envelops the countryside. The earth has become unstable and will soon be unfit for humans to inhabit. The fate of mankind is left in the hands of one man, an astronaut-turned-farmer who will wrestle with whether he should save his family or the human race. This is the premise of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi drama Interstellar.   Nolan’s films historically have deep, sometimes ambiguous plots that leave the viewer guessing until the end. Interstellar is no exception. However, the way Nolan ties it all together leaves much to be desired.   The basis of the movie is that a severe drought has caused crops to stop growing and has sent the world into a severe depression. So much so that former astronaut Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, has been forced to find a new career as a farmer. Cooper, however, stumbles upon a secret NASA facility where he is soon given the task of exploring space in order to find a new home for the human race.   One of the major drawbacks is the length of the movie. The initial plot setup takes nearly an hour, and the middle part of the film seems to drag on endlessly as the crew explores space. Much of the information in this section is crucial to the climax, but just seems like it could have been presented in a more timely manner.   The biggest problem with the film, however, is that it suffers from an identity crisis. During the first two-thirds, Nolan tries to stay somewhat scientific. Sure, some technologies and scientific theories that are presented may seem a bit farfetched, but not so much that the viewer couldn’t buy in. During the climax, however, the film takes a strange turn. After Cooper takes a trip through a black hole, he ends up in what seems to be some sort of alternate reality. It is never fully explained what or where this place is.   During the conclusion, Nolan does tie a few loose ends together, but many viewers will likely leave the theater with more questions than answers.   To add to the confusion, the setting of the movie is a bit unclear as well. Technological advances point to the fact that it’s set in the future, but an exact time period is not known. And while the world has spiraled into a depression, NASA has somehow found the resources to build ships that travel to other galaxies.   However, if it’s possible to look past the gauntlet of plot holes, what’s left is an entertaining film on a multitude of levels.   Great action scenes...

Read More
Ebola: Global concerns spur Texas response
Nov07

Ebola: Global concerns spur Texas response

Ebola –– That mysterious African disease that had never been detected in the United States until a couple of months ago and never diagnosed on U.S. soil until earlier last month. It’s the recent culprit responsible for bursting America’s bubble of relative security, protecting its inhabitants from exotic, life-ravaging illnesses. The fresh memory of the death in Dallas and the not-so-distant scare in Belton has Central Texans wondering what their schools, workplaces and government are doing to protect them.   Although the virus is communicable and has been posing a threat from Texas to New York, according to the Centers for Disease Control, it is not airborne and is difficult to transmit unless a person comes in direct contact with an infected patient’s bodily fluids or a surface that has.   However reassuring this news may sound, many are still paranoid considering that trained medical professionals are still contracting the disease.   Something else feeding the uncertainty and fear is the virus’ 21-day incubation period. People who have come in contact with the disease may not exhibit symptoms for three weeks. This is the reason for quarantine among medical professionals, missionaries and others who have traveled to West Africa are imposing on themselves.   Senior nursing major Kristiana Bohene believes it’s necessary for those working with Ebola patients to think of the common good and quarantine themselves during that incubation period.   “If they were potentially exposed to Ebola, they should be quarantined until they are not showing symptoms. The quarantine of one can be good for all to prevent the further spread of illness,” she said.   A potentially disturbing precedent is the refusal of Maine nurse Hickox to self-quarantine.   Bohene said, “I can’t imagine being in her shoes, but I do think that sacrificing 21 days for the good of others is the right thing to do if she is showing symptoms.”   The state of Maine is working to bring her into compliance.   After the CDC began re-evaluating the health risk to passengers on the Frontier Airlines Flight #1143, from Cleveland, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas, it was discovered that two Belton ISD students, one from North Belton Middle School and one from Sparta Elementary, along with their family, were traveling on the same plane with one of the nurses who cared for Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who died at Texas Health Presbyterian.   School district officials cancelled classes for thorough cleaning at those two campuses as well as Belton Early Childhood School because students are bussed between that building and Sparta Elementary.   Many are expressing frustration with the federal government’s seemingly slow...

Read More
Texas divided on immigration issue
Nov07

Texas divided on immigration issue

The election of a new Texas governor had the whole country watching because of huge implications for all parties involved.   With a Greg Abbott win, the republicans keep Texas a red state while a Wendy Davis win would ultimately change the whole make-up of our country’s voting patterns, sending Texas to the democratic side.   One of the major issues on the minds of voters this election is immigration, continually making headlines not only in Texas but across America. Pressure has been put on the administration in Washington but little action has been taken regarding the problem, reinforcing the importance of the gubernatorial race.   With about 1,810,000 illegal immigrants residing in Texas according to fairus.org, this puts a burden on the public school system as well as the economy.   Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis have both made their stance on immigration clear when it comes to their home state. Abbott is the first one to tell voters that something has to be done with the current immigration laws. “The law as it’s structured is flawed. All these laws like the in-state tuition law — those are symptoms of larger problems. We have a broken immigration system,” Attorney General Greg Abbott said. And when asked if he would veto a repeal of the Dream Act, Abbott answered no.   Davis’s stance on immigration more takes a more laid back approach. She believes the illegals should be allowed to pay in-state tuition.   “I’ve met immigrants who are dreamers who work hard. I support it and will veto attempts to repeal the Dream Act because it makes sense for students and the economy,” she said.   Both candidates believe that the immigration laws need to be improved. But Republican Greg Abbott has made it clear that he is in favor of immigration as long as it is done within the law. Otherwise it puts the safety of the immigrants themselves as well as the citizens of Texas at risk.   “What the administration must do is make clear [to those seeking to cross the border], don’t risk your lives. No way should the U.S. have an open-door policy to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras,” he said.   “Immigration does seem to be a key issue in the mid-term elections because most of the competitive gubernatorial and congressional races are not in states/districts where Hispanics represent a significant percentage of voters,” UMHB Professor of History and Political Science, Dr. David Holcomb said.   With the majority of Texans voting Republican in the past, outsiders are beginning to see that trend slow down. The reason for this is...

Read More
When trafficking stats become human
Nov07

When trafficking stats become human

A young Cambodian girl sat slumped on the curb outside of a church, her body rocking with heaving sobs. After attending a Christian church service, the girl’s Buddhist family beat her for betraying their faith.   But it wasn’t their disapproval or her own physical pain for which she cried. She had lost her Bible.   In a display of their disapproval, her family had burned her Christian scripture, and she was brokenhearted about the loss of the book that meant so much to her. Senior nursing major Allison Toy remembers this moment vividly, recalling the passion with which the child mourned.   “She looked at them (the missionaries), and told them she wasn’t upset about being beaten. She hadn’t been able to read the word of God in three days,” Toy said. “So my team gave her a Bible, and she came to the community center every day just to escape and read it.”   Five years ago, Toy attended a conference where a man spoke about surviving the killing fields in his homeland, Cambodia. Even though his own people sought to kill him, he had nothing but love for them. “It broke my heart. I prayed about it a lot, and I really felt like God was calling me there,” she said.   Toy embarked for Cambodia first as a student, then transitioned into leading for two years before staying on her own this past summer. What made this summer different, though, was the combination of joy and unimaginable hardship.   Toy led a team of Americans for 10 days, serving through medical missions in clinics, working at the hospital, ministry in the church, teaching in the community and volunteer work. Toy’s parents joined the effort for the first time, too. Toy’s mother, Terri, knew Cambodia as a country ravaged by the regime of Pol Pot.She realized their need for love and was excited to experience the land that captured her daughter’s heart.   “While her dad and I have always had a great respect for Allison, it was an incredible opportunity to watch her live out her passions … her purpose, her respect for and understanding of the culture,” Terri said.   Dad Eugene made use of his skills as a doctor, teaching Cambodians about sanitation. He was amazed at the provision of God. When one supply would run out, patients required something different and needs could be met.   “For me, I learned so much from the people we met. The missionaries there have so few resources … yet zeal and desire to do more,” Terri said.   After 10 days, the other Americans left...

Read More
Page 50 of 217« First...102030...4849505152...607080...Last »