Novelist Ted Dekker gives Skin goose bumps
Apr21

Novelist Ted Dekker gives Skin goose bumps

By Evangeline Ciupek Wendy Davidson could barely see the road through the pounding storm—she had just escaped from an abusive cult. Blinded by the rain, she crashes into a stalled pickup. Blood smears the truck’s window, and the driver is gone. Wendy runs back to her car for the pistol she keeps under the seat. Ted Dekker’s 2007 novel, Skin, takes readers on a wild ride through the otherwise sleepy town of Sommerville, Nev.. The town is plagued by tornadoes and Sterling Red, a serial killer who enjoys sucking mustard bottles, killing the innocent and hiding their bodies like Easter eggs. Wendy is joined by Carey and Nicole (a brother and sister with secrets), and policeman Colt, “a clumsy, insecure mess around women, and only slightly better around men.” They all rush into a safe house to escape the tornadoes. Afterward, everything outside has changed. Is it a freak of nature? Is it an alternate reality? Are they all going crazy? Is one of them Red? After the tornadoes pass, Wendy, Casey, Rachel, and Colt are astonished at the sight of Sommerville. It is submerged beneath tons of sand. It is a wasteland criss-crossed with dangerous electric currents. Wendy hears a humming sound. She’s tormented by ever-increasing blackouts. “She gasped, then immediately realized that it wasn’t the world but her own vision that turned black. Pinpricks of light swam on the horizon. She was losing her sight ….” Jerry Pinkus joins the fray. He’s a computer whiz whose index finger was chopped off in his sleep. He claims Red did it. But Wendy isn’t convinced. They get trapped in the library, which becomes the set for Red’s deadly mind games. To say that Dekker is a prolific, as well as exciting, writer would be understating the truth.  Since 1997 he’s authored and co-authored more than 30 books, including graphic novels and series. The novels Thr3e and House became movies. Dekker creates supernatural thrillers pumped with spiritual metaphors. “Darkness and evil are no less comforting than a wolf is a sheep. So when I write about the wolf, I give him fangs and a thirst for blood. (He’s) not a lap dog who we feel nice about cuddling …. If … illuminating such an enemy disturbs the reader, we should all be grateful,” Dekker said in an interview with Ann Vande Zande for CBN. Skin exhibits common threads found in many of Dekker’s novels: no-way-out dead ends, romance, self-sacrifice, villains experiencing tremors and (excuse the expression) a black-and-white view of good and evil. Some common words used include “pig,” “black bat” and “the circle.” Dekker seen life as a stage...

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‘Duplicity,’ two sides for every story
Mar31

‘Duplicity,’ two sides for every story

The Movie Duplicity is not unlike many espionage movies before it. Elements from Mission Impossible and Mr. and Mrs. Smith weave themselves into the plot of the film and the planning process by the characters in the movie rivals Ocean’s Eleven and it’s similarly named successors. Julia Roberts adds a slick, sneaky and sexy feel to the story alongside stunning co-star Clive Owen, playing a pair of spies plotting to take down their respective companies. Pros Despite an awkward opening scene, the movie starts rather quickly and wastes little time giving no more background to the characters than what we would absolutely need for the story. Duplicity’s strengths lie in its thrilling moments. When plans are set into motion, it is easy to get emotionally involved in the outcome of the covert operation. The ending to the movie is superb, shocking and surprising to movie-goers. The film keeps viewers on their toes, wondering where things are going to go next, following every emotional rise and fall and guessing the outcome of the worst (and best) situations in which the characters find themselves. Duplicity is not going to have the same kind of ostentatious entertainment as a movie like Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean, but delivers its value in the intellectual play between both of the main characters, Ray and Claire. Cons The movie goes back and forth in time too much, causing problems in the continuity of the film. Information is not provided about what is going on until the actions are set into motion, which breaks the momentum and becomes problematic. An attention span is required to enjoy the movie to its fullest. There are so many details involved that viewers have to remain on their toes to catch each little facet of the plot. Duplicity is hard to follow, but if you can keep up, the reward at the end of the movie is worth it. The Bottom Line The Bells gives Duplicity a three out of five bell rating because of Julia Roberts’ impressive return, an interesting heist story and some great chemistry between both of the leads. The film makes use of great cinematography and mixes the use of older-style editing with great camera work to pull off a visual treat. The twists in the plot keep the audience guessing at each turn and pulls everyone’s emotions into the final steps of the heist. Although not distinctive in its ideas, Duplicity does a lot of things right and pulls it all together into a pleasant, but forgettable...

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CAB sponsors event, coffee and live music draw crowd
Mar31

CAB sponsors event, coffee and live music draw crowd

By Russell Dotson Texas Java opened its doors for more than 200 students March 3 for an event hosted by the Campus Activities Board. This small-town coffee shop has progressively become the local student hotspot for studying and social networking, so it was only a matter of time before student organizations began to bridge the gap between campus and students’ favorite caffeine dive. Jeff Sutton, assistant director of campus activities, organized the event with Jennifer Larkin, a junior history major, who serves as the executive board member over logistics. “We had a lot of students say they wanted to do coffee house events,” Sutton said. “They like music, and they like free stuff.” So CAB came up with an idea. “We tried combining as many things as we could, passed out free drinks, and had live student musicians, and then we were able to pass out some surveys to find out what students would like to do next year.” Once students filled out the survey, they got a ticket that was good for any drink in any size. “The surveys gave us vital information, helping us know what events students have gone to and what events they liked, and what they have heard about from other places that they would like to bring here,” Sutton said. The first musicians to hit the stage were Ryan Chandler and Jacob Campsey, who call themselves Two Guys and Two Guitars. After Chandler and Campsey were Alison Hankins, Mark Rojas, Jonathan Dean, Abbey Smith and Megan McCuscy. “Jeff and I wanted an easy, low-key event,” Larkin said. “It was a great opportunity to get feedback on CAB that we might not necessarily have gotten on campus.” Larkin is one of three executive board members working with CAB. “I plan events, make sure they go well and make sure that if any problems come up, I can deal with them,” she said. “I also take event ideas and make them a reality.” Larkin and the other two board members meet throughout the week, assisting with the planning and oversight of events. They work closely with 30 other students who volunteer their time and services. Mara Prindle is a freshman who works with CAB. “At the meetings, we talk about the upcoming events and volunteer to help with them. Each event has to have a chairperson. I served as the chair for Ladies Night and Preview Weekend last semester,” she said. For the Texas Java event, she handed out flyers in Johnson where she lives. Last semester, the Beltonian, Belton’s dinner-and-a-movie movie theatre, started offering UMHB students a free movie pass on Thursday nights. Sutton...

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The Watchmen makes  top of box-office charts
Mar10

The Watchmen makes top of box-office charts

The Movie Consider yourselves warned. The Watchmen is not your typical superhero movie, and the heroes are not what most would consider “super.” Despite having mixed reviews, The Watchmen grossed $55.7 million over the weekend, earning $4.55 million at its midnight showings alone. The film presented some interesting concepts and did some good things while destroying the image Superman, Batman and Spiderman have built. The superhuman group isn’t all that different from any average Joe. They curse, drink and smoke cigarettes while trying to save New York from the criminal population. If I had to compare the characters to a popular superhero, I would say they are most like Batman. Batman is an average guy who helps Gotham as a vigilante, just like the Watchmen. The group is made up of six members: the Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, The Comedian, Rorschach and Nite Owl. The only character with supernatural abilities is Dr. Manhattan, a godlike figure in the film. The adaptation from graphic novel to film is impressive to say the least. The visual styles are beautiful and vivid, and the special effects add an exciting feel to the production. Like the innovative Sin City, The Watchmen uses interesting camera angles and overly-dramatic lighting to give a dark touch to the movie. **ADVISORY** this film is not for young viewers or people with weak stomachs. Rating The content of the film is surprising. There was much more cursing, nudity and gore than I anticipated, and the naked Dr. Manhattan made several scenes uncomfortable and awkward to watch. The Watchmen almost boasts its R rating by filling the movie with nude scenes and other adult content. The gore also made viewers in the theater cringe at times. Many would deem the film inappropriate and lewd at times, but The Watchmen does a couple of things right. Pros First, the plot is pretty interesting and keeps true to the “save the world” theme that most superhero movies stick to, but puts an exciting twist on a stock idea. Second, the film ties the plot into important events in U.S. history and shows how things might have gone with a superhero group helping out the American side. The movie gives an alternate reality of a New York City gone wrong during the Cold War. The nuclear standoff between Russia and the U.S. is a key element in the story. Now, on to the things the movie did poorly. Cons The nudity, language and gore really take away from the value that The Watchmen could have had otherwise. It all just gets a little ridiculous and over the top. The 163-minute run-time...

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High School Musical 3  DVD release
Feb24

High School Musical 3 DVD release

The Film: HSM3 is exciting to watch and explores the many emotions seniors feel their senior year. It is just as hard to say goodbye to the cast as it is for them to say goodbye to each other. Special Features: The two-disc special edition has an expansive selection of special features to choose from. Viewers can go behind the scenes of prom and graduation and learn how the stylists chose specific outfits to suit each character and their personality. The bloopers are a treat, and the deleted scenes hint that there may be another HSM movie following the last in this trilogy. Sing Along: The extended version features a sing-along version of the movie with the choice to switch between the different dance routines and songs. Digital Copy: The best reason to buy the special edition of HSM3 is the inclusion of a digital copy disc. The digital copy of the movie allows buyers to save the film onto their computer and into their iTunes, which can transfer the movie onto an iPod or...

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Slumping economy, TV shows cut short
Feb24

Slumping economy, TV shows cut short

By Evan Duncan The economic crisis is not just hitting businesses, banks and real estate. Most industries are pinching pennies these days, and entertainment is no exception. Television networks are cutting costs, and the effects are showing up on screen. Marketwatch.com says automotive ads, which normally supply one third of all TV ad revenue, are disappearing as auto sales decline. Overall, television profit is down 40%. Executives are being forced to find new ways to be successful. In January, NBC announced a plan to give Jay Leno the 9 p.m. central time slot five days a week. That means five hour-long dramas, such as E.R., will not be returning in the fall. Conan O’Brien will be taking over the Tonight Show at 10:30, and Jimmy Fallon will run things in Conan’s old slot. In the life of college students, who spend most evenings studying or with friends, this move may not have much impact. Tanner Perkins, a junior English major, is unfazed by the adjustment. “Let’s just say, watching Craig Ferguson at midnight is worth more than watching Jay Leno any time,” he said. “Jay Leno is only good for wasting time for the good shows.” Even before the economic troubles, TV networks had been facing issues. Digital Video Recorders, or DVRs, allow viewers to record television and watch it later. DVR users can also fastforward through advertisements. Web sites like hulu.com offer shows on demand with limited commercial interruption. As fewer viewers are seeing ads, advertisers are not willing to pay as much as they had before. Cheaper ads mean less money for networks to put into content. As other businesses falter, even less money can be put into advertising, especially on a medium that is not as influential as it once was. “I love Lost, but I watch it online,” said sophomore biblical studies major, Brittany Montgomery. “That way it fits my schedule. I can pause it when I want, and I don’t have to sit through blocks of commercials. I barely even use a TV.” Despite the worries of executives, the crisis has been good for some shows. The Sarah Conner Chronicles of Fox, for example, would normally be canceled after the low ratings it has received. But Fox, like other networks, has little material after last  year’s writer’s strike and low funds to develop new shows. For Conner...

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