Madagascar, successful Escape 2 Africa
Nov18

Madagascar, successful Escape 2 Africa

“I like to move it, move it.” “He likes to move, move it.” “She likes to move it, move it.” “We like to … move it!” The catchy opening song to Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is the most recognizable part of the first movie, in which four New York zoo animals find themselves on a ship headed to the island of Madagascar. In the second movie, however, the animals, in their attempt to make it back to New York, crash land in mainland Africa. The collision forces Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman to learn what their own species do in the wild, and Alex has an improbable encounter with a family member, Zuba, voiced by the late Bernie Mac. The animals’ development in the story is fun to watch, and the humor in the film, although intended for children, can adapt even to the most mature sense of humor. The cross-species love story in the sequel provides backbone to the two characters involved and also shifts the focus away from the dominant nature of Alex’s story. The film does justice to each character, embracing its unique traits, while still showing that it is the same as its ancestors “back home.” The story gives the “cookie-cutter” zoo animals more depth, but reminds them of their love for the zoo they left. The all-star voicing in the sequel is led by Ben Stiller (Alex), Chris Rock (Marty), Jada Pinkett Smith (Gloria) and David Schwimmer (Melman). The cast also includes big names like Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer and Alec Baldwin. The performance by Bernie Mac was one of his last on film. The late actor appears in Soul Men and this sequel to Madagascar. His career began in 1992 in Mo’ Money, as a doorman, but blossomed into a rich portfolio of blockbusters including Transformers, Ocean’s Thirteen and Guess Who, along with his own show. The recognizable voices in the movie, however, are not a distraction from the story. All performers do a great job of encompassing their roles, shedding the stereotypical acting that goes along with their voices. The only downside to the film is the lack of continuity between the minor characters from the first and second movie. The lemur king is silly, but his part in the movie is almost overplayed, and his circumstantial appearances in the stories of the four zoo animals in this movie are seemingly spastic. The plotting penguins are done an injustice in the film. They are underplayed and underutilized in the development of the story. An encounter between the wild animals and the out-of-place penguins would have definitely been interesting to watch....

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Texas Java serves Cru treats
Nov18

Texas Java serves Cru treats

Texas Java is the highly anticipated coffee house that opened its doors in Belton this past July. It’s about a mile from campus, and for many, it has been a godsend. Temple used to be the nearest place to find a coffee house, but now that has changed. Junior Christi Williams said, “I love it because it’s more convenient than driving all the way to Temple for Starbucks.” It’s suitably placed in the Oak Ridge shopping center on Main street, next to a popular sandwich shop. People from the surrounding businesses are always stopping in for a quick cup of coffee. Java is in full operation, and the community has welcomed it with open arms. It is, however, more than a coffee shop. Not only does it have a wide variety of coffee, but they also sell fruit smoothies, soft drinks, an assortment of cakes and pastries and even Blue Bell ice cream. Java is also a good place for students to study and do homework. Charles Rayburn McRae, an alum of the university, said,  “It’s very peaceful, and the staff is learned in their trade.” The mood is laid back, and the urge to get classroom assignments accomplished is strong with the help of an affordable caffeine rush. The shop also offers free wireless Internet for people who bring in their laptops, iPhones or other wireless devices; and with more than 10 tables and a few comfortable couches, there is plenty of space to go around. The atmosphere seems to be a common reason why students enjoy the place. Williams said, “The staff is very friendly and personal. They’re not like (others), who just want to get you in and get you out.” A good reason for that is most of the staff are current students of the university. Senior Asa Crow, an employee said, “all but one” of Java’s employees are UMHB students. The staff is made up of 10 workers. A few of the popular drinks they offer are the Chi Tea Smoothie, White Mocha frap, and flavored pecan coffee. Another feature is that the java can be made hot or chilled. They even have a special cold blend that keeps the frozen coffee from melting too quickly. Customers even have the option of the color straw they would like to drink their coffee or smoothie with. It’s the little things that makes this spot so inviting to college students. Before Texas Java came along, the university had its very own coffee house called The Daily Grind. It was equipped with coffee, treats, various soft drinks and games. Unfortunately, the hours of operation were limited, and...

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Pause for Thought: Bucket list before kicking the can

By Joshua Thiering December graduation is quickly approaching. This collegiate exodus of seniors into the land of new opportunities is a source of terror for some, and for others it is like being a dog that is finally let off his chain. But before the fast-approaching big romp in the world, a final run around the UMHB backyard is in order. Here is a bucket list of things to do before your college career kicks the bucket. Attend a Civil War re-enactment Some things in history are best not to recreate, like the Hindenburg blimp explosion. Others like civil wars and Renaissance festivals are just great opportunities to get dressed up in period garb and use antiquated language. Take lots of photos — they make interesting Christmas cards. Experiment with facial hair College is about experimentation. Call it a social experiment. Why buy a turtle neck, when you can grow your own? Why not grow a throat beard like Henry David Thoreau for the Civil War re-enactment. Speaking of Thoreau… Live in a tent beside the pond “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” Thoreau wrote in Walden, a great American classic. And so, taking a page from Walden we will go to UMHB pond, because we wish to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of college, and see if we could learn what it had to teach, and not, when we came to graduate, discover that we had not received a real education. I want to suck the sweet nectar from the fruits of the simple life, to jostle the juice around in my mouth and to feel its sticky dribble on my chin. Speaking of simple pleasures…. Go to a drive-in with your honey Kanoodle the night away together. Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy the simple pleasures in life like a good movie, snuggling and hand-holding. Drive-ins used to be called “passion pits,” but that hardly is demeaning ever since The Passion of the Christ came...

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George ‘W’ Bush story told by Hollywood screen
Nov04

George ‘W’ Bush story told by Hollywood screen

Although many speculated that the film directed by well-known liberal Oliver Stone on the life  of the current president, George W. Bush, would be a cheap jab at the president in his last few months as commander in chief, they could not have been more wrong. Stone himself admitted during an interview on the popular television program The Colbert Report, his motives for making the movie were not entirely pure. However, during the making of the film, Stone said that he had a change of heart. During the televised interview Stone said, “Making the movie really kind of opened my eyes to this guy Bush. I really started to like him. He’s a great man, and I believe he’s on his way to being a great president.” The film stars Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, American Gangster) portraying “W” from his childhood to the Iraq war. The star- studded cast includes, Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, James Cromwell as George Herbert Walker Bush, Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush, Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld and Toby Jones as Karl Rove. While Brolin comes away with an astounding performance as the film’s protagonist, it is perhaps the rest of the cast that truly brings the story to life, particularly the performances of both Jeffrey Wright, who portrays Gen. Colin Powell, and Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice. “W” chronicles the life of Bush, traveling back and forth between flashbacks of young Bush attempting to escape from his father’s shadow to behind closed doors in the cabinet of the President of the United States. The film is designed to give audiences a new perspective on the current administration from the viewpoint of the presidency. It has both lighthearted moments and those of high drama and should be considered one of the best films of the year. The film runs for 129 minutes and is rated PG-13 for language, including sexual references, some alcohol abuse, smoking and brief disturbing war images. The film is a must see, if not simply for the breathtaking performances — for the even-handed glance at the highest office in the United States. Its message of hope and redemption speaks to the lost American dream. For those who hate Bush, this is a chance to understand him. For those who love him, this is a chance to see him for the man he truly...

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Students take stage, publish works
Nov04

Students take stage, publish works

Even though it’s not the typical coffee house setting, a hushed audience and a list of performers packed the SUB for a night filled with creativity and student participation. The first Open Mic Nite of the semester was preceded by the unveiling of the university’s annual publication, the Baylorian. “It’s great that we’re getting to see a lot more of the arts publicized around campus,” assistant campus activities director, Jeff Sutton, said. “And the best part is that students are showing up and wanting more.” In October, the 2008-09 edition of the Baylorian was made available for purchase. That evening, a small group of students gathered at the amphitheater to read aloud some of the recently published work. Immediately after, Open Mic Nite commenced. Last semester Open Mic Nite was introduced to the students as a venue allowing musicians, writers and storytellers to showcase their talents in front of an audience. Now, the event is returning with the same vision. “It’s cool because we’re not affiliated with anything — with any organization. Open Mic Nite is totally student-led and relies on us to participate for it to be a success. I think it has been,” senior philosophy and theology major, Andy Wayland, said. Almost in the same vein, the Baylorian is a published collection of short stories, poetry, artwork and literary criticism that can only be possible through the submissions of faculty, alumni and students. “There are so many great voices from people at our school, and without those voices, we wouldn’t have our publication,” senior managing editor, Russel Dotson said. “We thoroughly evaluate every submission and try our best to give the authors and artists a chance to see their work in print.” Last year’s editor, senior English major Kaylynn Bishop, hosted the Baylorian unveiling and also performed in Open Mic. “I feel like Open Mic Nite and the Baylorian are two visions that cohabitate very well,” Bishop said. “Both involve artistic endeavors going public, and I think it’s great that our school body is taking more involvement in those areas.” Next year’s publication of the Baylorian is already accepting submissions. Students or alumni interested should send their work as an attached document to baylorian2009@yahoo.com. The deadline is Jan....

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Crusader Knight ’97 in band
Nov04

Crusader Knight ’97 in band

Jason Baird, Mr. Crusader Knight of 1997, used to wear the sought-after crown. Representing Burt Hall, he entertained students with a two-minute video that was voted students’ and judges’ choice for favorite video his sophomore year in college. Now Baird stands on stage for a different crowd. He is a singer and bass player for Austin’s Bridge, an up-and-coming band known for its bluegrass, country feel. According to Christianity Today, their sound can be likened to that of Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts and 33Miles. “Hands down, they’re the best new ‘guy group’ in faith-based country-pop,” Christianity Today’s music review said. Baird met Justin Rivers, the lead singer and guitarist, in Austin, Texas. They wanted to use music to “bridge the gap between   a sinful man and a holy God,” Baird said. The group has been together since 2006 and recently enjoyed the spotlight for receiving the 2008 Dove Award for Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year, “He’s in Control.” They were nominationed for three awards. Rivers said, “We were shocked because they’re so many people who don’t know who we (are).” The threesome, made of worship pastors Rivers, Baird and Toby Hitchcock, have been involved in music in some form since  childhood. “I knew music was the only thing I was going to do,” Rivers said. “I tried to play football in high school, and I tried to pursue other avenues of interest, but none that I liked as well as music. It just consumed me.” Hitchcock’s parents were musicians, so he grew up travelling. “I remember being on the road and being like 4 years old and singing all their songs in the back seat,” Hitchcock said. For Baird, ministry has been his resounding calling. He was a youth pastor before he became a music minister. “In my worship leading area, I was like ‘This is fun, but I don’t want to stand up and conduct music.’ I want to work with a band,” Baird said. “So I started working with bands. That’s where my passion for music developed.” Each member has traveled a long road to get to the place where he is now. Rivers said he got a kid guitar for Christmas when he was 3 years old. He and the six-stringed instrument were inseparable. “I don’t really recall this,” Rivers said, “but (my mom) said that I would carry it around … day and night, like it was my security blanket.” As a child, he entertained church members nearly every Sunday, trying to play along during worship. Rivers said, “People would be on stage singing, and I would be the little kid on fourth...

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