Hunger Games series sets mood for Central Texas Book Club

A new book this semester will be introduced during the 2012 UMHB Central Texas Book Club meeting. The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins will be discussed by Professor of  English Dr. Brent Gibson and Associate Professor in the College of Christian Studies Dr. Mike Robinson. Sigma Tau Delta is hosting the gathering, March 20, and refreshments will also be provided. All of the campus is invited to attend the event from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lord Conference Center. For those who do not have the book already, a paperback edition is for sale at the campus bookstore. Gibson gave a few details about what people can expect while in attendance at the discussions. He said, “Dr. Robinson and I will each give a talk about the book. After that will be a question-and-answer discussion about either what I noticed about the book or what someone else has noticed. I am going to start off by talking about some general things about the book, like its genesis and the way it was conceived….We will focus on the main character and what she is like.” Since department chair of English Dr. Jacky Dumas has taken over the book club, he has decided to choose readings for the students that have deep meanings. He said, “I have really been working on enticing the students to look at books that have a multi-disciplinary     focus.” Dumas explains how the new books for the book club are chosen each semester. “We take recommendations from faculty, generally the (English) department and students. We cut it down to a list of books that the students are interested in, and that’s usually our strong constituency of the students, so we want to pick things that will apply to them,” he said. Around the university, The Hunger Games is a favorite among many and is rapidly increasing in popularity through word of mouth. Junior Christian ministry major Kaitlin Burks is a big fan of the book. She is interested in attending the event if her schedule permits. She said, “I wanted to read the (books) when suddenly everyone started talking about them and getting excited about the movie. My best friends could not stop talking about how amazing they were and how I really needed to read them. It took me what felt like forever to actually get my hands on it.” Burks also said the book is very alluring and even tempts those who are not regular readers. “What really surprised me was that my friends who absolutely hate reading loved reading this book,” she said. “The author wrote them so well that it’s easy...

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Pop culture is theme for student art

The annual student art competition has come and gone, but the art still lingers. “Red Riding Hood,” “Dazed and Confused” and “Katy Perry,” along with many others can be found on display in the second floor of the library. Senior studio art major Joanne Cervantes won the competition with her artwork entitled “LJ Whiteleg.” She recently made a dramatic change in her creative style after having artist block for a year, so the victory was satisfying to her. “The reason I felt good about winning this time is because this work is so different from what I have done before.  My heart is really in this 100 percent,” she said. “I could have done my old style, but my heart just wasn’t in it. So for me to win first place in this new work, it just solidified in my mind that I am moving in the right direction. And it’s gratifying to see that other people can see what I see in it.” Cervantes described finding her inspiration in unusual things. “I see the beauty in junk. I wanted to do drawings from life. So I go out to the farm, and I just get around the horses, and work with whatever’s there. And to me that’s beautiful. It’s a very unpretentious environment, so there’s a lot of beauty in that. Just whatever’s around me,” she said. For sophomore Christian ministry major Jennifer Settles, the artwork is a refreshing change of scenery while doing studies in the library. “They should have this up here all the time because I like looking at it. I guess I just didn’t realize how many different kinds of art there is. Whenever I need a break from my studies, I can just gaze into the art,” she said. This year 75 pieces were entered, and only 29 were accepted for the competition. Submissions were open to anyone who is currently enrolled in an art class or who has taken an art class within the past year. First, second and third places were awarded, along with honorable mention. Professor and Art Department Chair Hershall Seals had encouraging words for those whose work is not on display. “The competition is always risky if you have your ego involved, but everyone has to understand that one judge’s opinion is one judge’s opinion. And you just have to be stubborn enough to keep entering, and eventually something will be accepted for exhibition,” he said. Cervantes, whose art is often misinterpreted, explained that fear can never be an option for any aspiring artist. She said, “Don’t ever be afraid to look stupid because you’re probably going to...

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Musician pours out soul in lyrics inspired by religion and politics

An abrupt lyrical volcano comes flowing out with lava consisting of social injustice and spiritual doubts. With hot pains bursting through, solo singer and song writer, David Bazan, sang his viewpoint of religion and social politics at a campus concert. Former band member of Pedro the Lion, Bazan is an indie rock musician with hit albums titled Curse Your Branches and Strange Negotiations. Even though he is not technically classified as a Christian artist, Bazan writes about the spiritual journey and deep theological struggles Christians face today. With soulful songs that penetrate deep and resonate with young amateur artists today, the singer, whether he knows it or not, is inspiring up-and-coming lyricists. Associate Professor and department chair of music Dr. Mark Humphrey is a believer and is impressed with Bazan, who commits to telling his truth in a deep and powerful way. Humphrey said, “No matter what angle he approaches  … from, I always know that his lyrics are going to be thoughtful. He’s going to approach it. He’s not just going to throw things out. He’s going to think things through.” The concert started with the artist playing two songs. With a combination of sweet melody and piercing words, the music is hard to swallow.  Each lyrical bite had to be taken one by one. After Bazan’s performance, there was a Q-and-A interview done by Humphrey. Through the questions, the audience learned of the singer’s struggles of being raised by evangelical parents and slowly walking away from his faith as he progressively matured into an adult. Even though it was a grieving point, he still holds Christianity near and dear to his heart because it was a part of his childhood. He said, “I still feel a kinship with these people. I care for what happens in that world.” As music fans and interested listeners hear his songs, they notice a common thread that brings the whole message together. Bazan said he “aims to set the imbalance of justice in society…. We’re trying to tell the truth about something, and that’s provocative.” One of the many strange things Bazan noticed is the attention he receives from the Christian audience. Christianity Today magazine named Curse Your Branches as one of the best Christian records in 2009. Junior church music major Jonathan Mayo entered the session knowing only a few things about Bazan but walked away with a better understanding of writing lyrics. He said the event “gave a deeper meaning when writing songs….You can have that little snippet of something that you really love, and you can turn it into that song that has deep meaning.”...

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What would you do if you awoke married to Tatum?

As it turns out, it takes more than Channing Tatum’s good looks to make a movie worth seeing. Unfortunately, for theaters full of eager women who undoubtedly dragged their boyfriends to see The Vow on Valentine’s weekend, that’s about all the film had to offer. Like most chick flicks of today, it was the classic tale of boy, played by Tatum, meets girl, played by Rachel McAdams. Boy inevitably falls in love with girl and the two get married. In an unexpected turn of events (for anyone fortunate enough to have not seen the trailer a dozen times), an accident leaves McAdams unable to remember her current life, including her husband. As Tatum attempts to reconnect with his wife, he realizes that in her mind she is no longer the person he married, but a former version of herself. While it is somewhat on the heartwarming side to see him pursue her despite this serious complication, the new (or old, if that’s how you want to look at it) McAdams turns out to be a pretty unlikable character, and it kind of leaves you wondering why the poor guy wants to stay with her at all. And then there’s the acting. Both Tatum and McAdams play virtually the same characters in The Vow as they do in all of their other films, which is fine, except that Tatum never quite hits the mark in any of them. Throughout the film, it becomes apparent that it isn’t as much a love story as it is about self-discovery. This is a nice idea and a refreshing diversion from the typical romance. However, it’s not exactly what audiences full of couples on Valentine’s dates are looking for. It’s not the mushy gushy, feel good kind of thing that makes you want to cuddle up next to the one you love. In fact, it is actually a little depressing. The whole thing seemed so set on reminding viewers not to take love for granted that it ended up being kind of scary. I mean, we all know anything can happen, but we don’t go to the movies to think about the possibility of our soulmates losing the memory of who we are. After a series of ups and downs (mostly the latter), the very last scene of the film  leaves viewers with a small glimmer of hope that perhaps love does prevail in the end. But after everything, it almost doesn’t feel like quite enough. It may have been the lack of chemistry between the actors or poor writing, but two minutes before the credits and a line of text telling me the...

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Redbox vs. Netflix: Battle to be the best
Feb21

Redbox vs. Netflix: Battle to be the best

The popular DVD and Blu-ray kiosk company Redbox, Verizon Communications Inc. and Coinstar have decided to come together for a joint venture, which remains unnamed, and will launch later this year. There are no details yet concerning how much money it will cost or what type of movies or TV shows they will have. Members of the companies have been  tight-lipped about the information for the project. Parties involved are pleased with the business decisions and excited about expanding boundaries further than just the little red machine that sits outside of a local Wal-Mart or a CVS Pharmacy. Officials from the companies are sure they will be able to provide people with convenience and more possibilities when it comes to choosing which way they want to watch a movie. They are also confident that streaming videos will give Redbox a much needed platform to reach consumers all around the world. The partnership will combine the easy rental of movies from Redbox, along with streaming the movies online, and on -demand services from Verizon as well. Customers will have to pay a somewhat affordable price for a monthly subscription, but it will still be cheaper than its rival company, Netflix. Although there has been a slight increase in price at the kiosks, it has not slowed down consumers’ desires to continue doing business with the company.  Redbox offers a selection of newer DVDs versus Netflix, which, due to regulations, has a larger selection of older movies. In the future, Redbox will also have a larger selection of older movies which will have streaming capabilities. Netflix, once the leading place for renting movies has now begun to struggle, especially in 2011. Many consumers are getting turned off by the fact that after they finish one movie and then return it, they have to wait an additional two days to receive another movie from their list. The company has split its streaming and mailing DVD services, which resulted in hiking customers’ bills. Since Netflix has agreed to extend its 28-day wait for new releases to a 56-day wait for Warner Bros., the anticipation for others has  driven them to visit the nearest Redbox. Considering the convenience that both companies offer, their decision to combine their effort may be a success. With all the rumors and speculation, only time will tell if this joint venture will prove to be better than Netflix....

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Twists to classics make opera a blast
Feb21

Twists to classics make opera a blast

The UMHB Opera performed Rita and Little Red’s Most Unusual Day Feb. 10. Music lovers gathered to watch the performance at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple. George Hogan, director of the UMHB opera/musical theater program, UMHB Opera Cru and an instructor of applied voice, directed the opera. The first performance was  a tuned-up version of Little Red Riding Hood, which was renamed Little Red’s Most Unusual Day by John Davies. The play was first performed by the opera students  to several thousand school-age children from the area for the Arts and Education Program put on by the Cultural Activities Center. Last semester, the Opera performed 10 shows in a week for the children. Freshman vocal performance major who played Little Red, Haide Gonzales, said, “My favorite scene to perform is when I realize my granny isn’t granny, but instead the Big Bad Wolf because the kids are more scared than I am. In fact, I loved every minute of it. When we did the production in the fall for the school district. It was amazing to see the kids get so into it. I loved when I had to say Dudley, the forest ranger (Ranger-Rover), ‘wanted to be mom’s boyfriend’ because the kids always thought it was so disgusting and openly expressed it.” An orchestra and a conductor were new additions that some of the cast had to adjust to. Sophomore vocal performance major, who played Mr. Bigbad (the Wolf) in Little Red and Gasparo in Rita, Josiah Davis said, “Working with the orchestra was definitely new because I have pretty limited experience working with an orchestra and following a conductor. I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to sing and act while you’re watching someone out of the corner of your eye who’s trying to tell you cues and stuff. So that was tough. By the time the performances rolled around, we got it together.” Rita by Gaetano Donizetti, is a play about an abusive wife who believed her husband, Gasparo, had drowned, while Gasparo thought Rita had died an unfathomable death as well. Beppe played by Matt Klepac is Rita’s new husband who puts up with her temper and abuse. Through a series of spectacular events, they all come face to face, and the laughs, exquisite sound and acting phone through. Junior vocal performance major who played Grandma Hood and Rita, Elizabeth Pasichnyk, commented on her most memorable moments performing Rita. The mood of the play holds much sarcasm when Rita antagonizes Beppe constantly by confessing her love for him and then snatching it right back. When he breaks a beloved porcelain cup, she...

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