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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Belton celebrates Oscars in Grand Way
Mar06

Belton celebrates Oscars in Grand Way

In Belton, the Academy Awards isn’t just a one-time ceremony, but a week-long event at Grand Avenue Theater this week. Through Feb. 28, the theater is showing two of the nominated best pictures of the year, as well as three sets of short films. Daniel Bucher, business manager at Grand Avenue, said that showing films like these offers viewers a chance to see different material, instead of the normal films. “We are trying to draw in different people and offer different options. Some people may not come to see a movie, but they like the Oscars and it’s free admission, so they’re going to come check it out,” Bucher said. Adam Dubberly, assistant manager at Grand Avenue was eager about the theater being able to screen films that other theaters are not. “We are especially excited to be showing the nominated short films, in part because we are the only theater in the area showing them,” he said. The top five most celebrated winners were Christoph Waltz who won best supporting actor for his role in Django Unchained, best supporting actress, Anne Hathaway in her role as Fantine in Les Miserables, Jennifer Lawrence as leading actress in Silver Linings Playbook and leading actor, Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln.And for Best Picture of the Year,  Argo  won the Oscar. Sunday evening the Oscars were shown live on the big-screen at Grand Avenue.     Movie posters of the nominated best pictures were given away. Junior communication major Wesley Ashton went to watch the ceremony at the theater with a friend. He said, “My friend and I enjoyed the friendly service the grand Avenue staff provided throughout the showing. They offered us sparkling grape juice, food, and even raffle prizes….” Chances to see the films are still available at the Theater.     For show times, check www.grandavenuetheater.com/.nows...

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Gangster Squad sets bar high for 2013

By Leif Johnston “Every man has a badge” is a powerful statement made by Sgt. John O’Mara. This statement alone sums up the newly released movie Gangster Squad directed by Ruben Fleischer. A story driven by misfits coming together to stop the most powerful gangster in the West sets the bar high for films that are to come out in 2013.  Director Ruben Fleisher shows that he can steer away from his usual comedy films and create one that is action packed. The squad is in constant battle with Los Angeles’ most power-hungry mob boss, Mickey Cohen played by Sean Penn. The dialogue in the movie is serious and businesslike, but Gangster Squad member Sgt. Jerry Wooters, played by Ryan Gosling breaks up the suspenseful fighting scenes with numerous great one-liners. The acting in this film is brilliant. John Brolin, plays the honest cop that will turn to extreme measures to put Los Angeles’ monster to rest. Emma Stone plays the damsel in distress but playing it with a hard to get yet seductive demeanor. This aspect gives this film the depth that it needed to take it from an ordinary gun slinging action film to a movie that forces characters to make ultimate sacrifices for the future of the city, even though their families safety is on the line. The amounts of gunfire in this movie will more than likely bring criticism its way. But you can’t really have a true portrayal of a gangster film without excessive amounts of bullets fired. This film delayed its premier date after the Aurora shooting, but this move possibly made their chances of gun control arguments even greater in light of last month’s event in Newtown Conn. Regardless of the number of shootouts it still gives viewers a  glimpse into what it might have been like post WWII trying to contain these greedy mob bosses that took down anything that interrupted their progress. If you have a weak stomach this film may not be for you. The opening scenes will show that director Ruben Fleischer didn’t shy away from the bloody gruesome punishments that gangster Mickey Cohen orders on people in his usual way. Gangster Squad is a film worth the overly priced ticket. Grab some popcorn and enjoy this must-see...

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