‘Down’ with Jesus

By Leif Johnston The bearded Robertson clan has suddenly become a part of American pop culture this past year. The family went from being average working-class to one that created duck calls in their hometown of West Monroe, La. This soon developed into a multi-million dollar corporation. One thing that hasn’t changed about the Robertsons is that their faith in Jesus Christ will always be at the top of their priority list. Season one aired last March and now the Duck Commanders are in their third season, with the third episode of that season scheduled to air March 13. The ratings of the show rise as audiences get a glimpse of the ins and outs of the Robertson family’s lives. Reasons for this trend include their unfailing commitments to  faith, family and ducks. This may seem like a simple concept, but it is just what many Americans are looking for in a society that is largely frustrated with dramatized, fake reality T.V. “I think people are especially interested in Duck Dynasty because the Robertsons’ family and friends are outrageous, unpredictable characters, yet they also are relatable and likable. They are God-fearing, family-oriented people who enjoy life,” Jim Miller, director of the mass communication program at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., told the Christian Chronicle. If you happen to follow the show, you know that Phil Robertson and Si Robertson thoroughly enjoy duck hunting, catching bullfrogs and getting rid of those pesky beavers. But more importantly they cherish the opportunity to let the younger generation know that God should be first in their lives. The show is aired on A&E, and, unfortunately, some of the strong Christian references were edited out in season two. This didn’t fly with Phil Robertson as he told the Christian Chronicle in an interview,        “They pretty much cut out most of the spiritual things. We say them, but they just don’t run them on the show.” In the first episode of the current season, the Robertson family sat down to eat, but before they dug into the ducks they had killed in the opening day of season one, they bowed their heads to pray. But in past seasons as Robertson prays, the words “in Jesus’ name” were edited out. Josh Reese senior intredisciplinary studies said, “I think it is awesome that they would go the extra mile to make sure Jesus gets the praise. It is good to know that the Robertson family stands behind God ….” Whether the guys on Duck Dynasty are making duck calls or riding four wheelers, they will end with thanking God. This simple act may have a...

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Should The Last Exorcism be cast out of theaters?

The Last Exorcism Part II picks up right where the original left off. Nell Sweetzer (played by Ashley Bell) is the only individual left after the cult ceremony toward the end of the first film. Sweetzer travels to a home for recovering victims and begins to pick up the pieces. She tries to make a new life for herself, which includes a new job and a possible romantic interest. Just as Nell begins to forget the horrifying events of her past, the evil that once possessed her comes back for more. Nell soon realizes she must partake in another exorcism, but just like the first time, the situation doesn’t go as planned. The events that follow are even more terrifying than anyone could ever imagine. The film has an overall MPAA rating of PG-13 for horror violence, terror and brief language. Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly, the movie also features Spencer Treat Clark (who played Lucius in Gladiator), Julia Garner and Judd Derek Lormand (who played Officer Darrell Lino in Joyful Noise). Bell’s most recent projects include: The Black Tulip, Sparks, The Bounceback and The Marine: Homefront. Unfortunately, The Last Exorcism Part II takes a major step back from the original film. The plot is so overused and washed up. Not even the few cheap jump scares can save the movie. Even though Bell is spot- on with her acting, it’s just not enough to make an average thriller extraordinary. The Last Exorcism was interesting and kept viewers guessing until the very last scene. As for Part II, well, the trailer is as good as it gets. The sequel is predictable and downright boring. The film closes without a solid ending, leaving room for a third movie, but if I were the director, I would just close the door on the franchise now before it turns into another cheesy Paranormal Activity series. If you’re looking for an even scarier version of the first film, you won’t find it here. Don’t waste money going to see the sequel. You’ll be left disappointed and wishing you had rented it at the nearest Redbox...

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Songwriter shares dramatic life story

Ifar “Eef” Barzelay spoke as a guest for the university’s C3: Conversations About Christianity + Culture program and followed up with a concert that was part of the Highways & Byways series. Associate Professor and music department chair Dr. Mark Humphrey was excited to have Barzelay as a speaker for the  March 1 portion of the C3 series because of the experiences that have shaped the way he writes songs. “Eef is less of a speaker. He’s a songwriter, and that’s what he does well. You read his lyrics, and you get the best of him; he’s not a believer in any way, but he writes in incredible ways about belief, nonbelief and doubt,” Humphrey said. Barzelay said at the beginning of the program, “My grandfather watched his father get beaten to death essentially in front of him, because he was Jewish…. And it wasn’t even by Nazis. It was their neighbors.” After that experience during the Holocaust, his grandparents changed their names, began to only speak Hebrew, reinvented themselves as Zionists and completely rejected God. Barzelay said being raised among Jewish atheists and Zionists made it difficult for him to have anything tangible to hold on to when it came to his beliefs. The songs Barzelay performed during the concert contained lyrics that made freshman marketing major Hannah Warren think about the mysterious ways in which God works. Warren said, “A part of a song that really stood out to me said, ‘Just remember that God loves mostly those who fail.’ Although I didn’t agree with what was said, it made me realize that a lot of people, including myself, tend to recognize God’s work only during a time of need.” Humphrey said that Barzelay’s background and belief   system are different from any of the previous C3 speakers, which made it worth the risk to have him speak for the program. Humphrey’s  favorite part of the songwriter’s visit was the relationship the university built with its guest. He said, “We made a commitment to say ‘we’re going to pray for you,’ and what was fascinating to me was at the end, after telling us all these interactions he’s had with Christianity, no one in his whole life had ever said ‘how can I pray for...

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Military ensembles march on Hughes
Mar06

Military ensembles march on Hughes

On a Tuesday evening, students, faculty and members of the community gathered in Hughes Hall to welcome two military ensembles–the 1st Cavalry Division Black Jack Brass Quintet and the Ear Assault Woodwind Trio. Both groups visited the campus from nearby Fort Hood. Director of percussion studies and professor of music history and literature Dr. Stephen Crawford was pleased to host the musical guests. He believes it’s good to have a strong relationship with the Army’s music program. “We’re so close to the military base here, there’s that good rapport. We want to support our guests,” he said. Crawford was happy with the concert  and its reception. “They were great ensembles. It was great to hear them both play,” he said. Director of instrumental    activities James Whitis was influential in arranging the concert. He was intrigued by the military’s music program when he began learning more about it through a former student who is a retired serviceman. It took quite a while for him to work through the Army’s red tape. Whitis said, “We started investigating the process … and it really took a little bit of time to get it done. You know, when you deal with the military, it’s not like UMHB. I mean administratively, you have to go through a lot of different   channels.” Through perseverance, the concert came to fulfillment. “Initially I sent an email to one person. They responded (that) I needed to contact another person … on about four levels, I finally got to the right person,” Whitis said. He shares Crawford’s thoughts on the close relationship that the university and the military base have. “UMHB and Fort Hood, I think, are good partners,” he said. “We have a lot of military students here, and I just felt like it was important to try and make a connection for the music department, so that’s what we did.” Music professors were not the only ones impressed. Freshman education major Lauren Ribera attended the concert and enjoyed it. “I am a big music fan,” and they were very much a joy to watch and very talented,” she said. The energy the groups displayed drew her in. Ribera said, “I thought they were awesome. I remember one of the leaders of the band being so excited that it looked like he might fall out of his chair …. They were a joy to...

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Tom Richard’s work showcased
Mar06

Tom Richard’s work showcased

The Baugh Center for the Visual Arts opened an exhibit of the work of Tom Richard Feb. 6 titled Guys or Dolls… and, oh yeah, Bombs and Peeps. Richard is a professor of art at the University of Arkansas at Magnolia.  His art has been displayed in several different exhibits in locations such as Chicago, New York City and New Orleans. Professor and department Chair of the visual arts department Hershall Seals makes note of the apparent quirkiness and somewhat comical approach in Richard’s work. Seals compliments his techniques with his take on a lighthearted gallery structure. “One of the things (I find) interesting is the way in which it is hung. I’ve chosen to do playful arrangements of the works of art so that it conjures up a sense of fun. This is hallowed ground. This is kind of an experiment of levity, and how art can be a lot of different things. It doesn’t always have to be real serious,” he said. Sophomore fine arts major Sarah Wright enjoyed all of the pieces included in the exhibition, but Jokes and Bombs stood out to her the most. The artwork consisted of five colorful drawings of atomic explosions. “I really like the idea of having something blurred, but incorporating outlines to make it pop. I can just look at it from the other side of the room, and I can definitely see it stand out, and I like the vibrant colors,” she said. Junior graphic design major Chance Alvis views the art exhibit as a fresh learning experience for all art students. “He uses peeps and action figures, and he makes it work really well, especially in the overall painting. He does it in a way that goes beyond the objects. That’s something, as artists, we need to keep in the back of our minds ….You can always interpret something different,” he said. The visual arts department will host a gallery talk with the featured artist Feb. 28 at 5:00 p.m. Fine arts experience  credit will be available. The exhibit goes through March 1. Richard will serve as a juror for the upcoming UMHB student competition. He will decide which entries will be shown in the next exhibit, which will begin early next...

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New Girl means new drama
Mar06

New Girl means new drama

After a literally show-stopping kiss, season two of New Girl has found its awkward niche that viewers can’t get enough of. Zooey Dechannel and Jake Johnson’s characters, Jess and Nick, finally lock lips after more than a season of tension. While everyone else notes the chemistry between these two, the characters themselves continue denying it. For now, the clumsiness must continue. We move on to the latest episode, “Parking Spot.” Welcome to the decision, where four roommates vie for one of the newest additions to the apartment: a freshly painted parking spot. All the characters believe they deserve the coveted position and must prove to the others why the slot should belong to them. Though Schmidt does, indeed, pay for the “wiffy,” Nick’s term for the wireless Internet, Winston believes he too has worthy qualifications. But with a vague twist that no one really understands, Nick must choose between Schmidt and Jess. Awkward. Given that he just smooched his lady friend, Nick’s rare soft side yields to Jess. “You can’t escape destiny. She comes for us all. That’s right. Destiny is a lady,” Jess says. Obviously, this causes even more chaos in the already confusing household. “Let the decider decide. I am not the suggester. I am not having fun with this game,” Nick says before he relinquishes his power of choice. Meanwhile, Jess barely escapes an elderly man in a station wagon, Nick positions himself in a lawn chair to save the parking space and Schmidt runs him over, naturally. The three end up camping out in the parking garage, where conversation returns to that kiss. Oh, that kiss. Jess admits that life in the house feels different when she says, “I thought we could go back to the way things were, but we can’t.” Insensitive and rueful as always, Nick ruins the honest moment, saying, “That kiss was the dumbest mistake I’ve ever made…dumber than law school…dumber than when I thought his name was Brack Obama.” With her feelings hurt, Jess storms out and decides that fish sticks are the answer to life’s problems . Wait, what? What on earth is going on? No one is really sure. Back to the roommate drama. Schmidt, in all his logical glory, insists that Nick has breached rules of the apartment, and the only way to make things right is for Schmidt to commit the same crime as Nick. Problem solved? Not quite. Next week promises more uncomfortable situations and unfortunate catastrophes that make New Girl the most simplistic and creative comedy on...

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