Black Swan a dramatic twist to Swan Lake
Jan25

Black Swan a dramatic twist to Swan Lake

In an intense movie from every aspect, Black Swan is definitely worth the high expense of movie tickets. Almost immediately it has the ability to suck the audience into a thriller that has not graced the silver screen for several years. Black Swan tells the story of an exquisite ballerina, Nina, played by the captivating Natalie Portman. The ballet company Nina dances for is about to come into its new season of performances in which the main ballet to be performed is the timeless Swan Lake. After winning the lead role as the Swan Princess, Nina becomes crazier and more insane in every scene. She feels threatened that the new ballerina to the company, Lily, played by Mila Kunis, is after her lead part. Nina is also exhausted from all the practice and time she puts in to it and not to mention a pretty insane mother at home. Nina is in a downward spiral through the whole movie which creates more drama. Black Swan is much like the ballet Swan Lake, just with a slight difference. The new rendition has a dark twist of an evil black swan. The story line of the new rendition is almost the same. However, the swan princess in the movie has an evil twin, the black swan. Though Black Swan shows what it is like for Americans to be competitive and the problems of pressure, this movie does have scenes that are not for the faint-hearted. Caution should be known when viewing this movie. One of the first mysteries laid before the audience is a marking on Nina’s back. Half of it resembles a scratch, but the other mark looks as if she has permanent goose bumps. It doesn’t take the audience long to figure out that she is actually becoming the black swan. As Nina becomes more paranoid, she ultimately embraces the evil black swan role instead of the sweet-hearted white swan. She gives the viewers some eerie and uncomfortable squirms in their seats during these scenes. On a whole, this movie is phenomenal. Portman completely embraces her role and has the audience believe that she is completely crazy. Not only her acting, but some of the risque scenes Portman has to do, should definitely put her in the lead running for an Oscar. The only negative about the film is that it is very sexual. Two scenes could make people cringe in their seats. Advice: if you choose to go to this movie, go with someone you are comfortable with while seeing certain things. Overall, the acting, storyline, choreography and music, which uses Tchaikovsky’s  Swan Lake, deserves every bit of...

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Mathematician, former joke writer for Jay Leno speaks
Nov16

Mathematician, former joke writer for Jay Leno speaks

Mathematical geniuses and comedic geniuses are quite rare. Even more rare are mathematical comedians. Thursday evening the university was fortunate enough to have Edward B. Burger lecture, sponsored by the Honors Program and the College of Sciences. He is a self proclaimed semi-expert of humor as well as a professor of mathematics. An esteemed teacher, Burger, who once wrote jokes for Jay Leno, has been in the classroom for more than 20 years. Some of his posts have been at the University of Texas at Austin, Waterloo University and Williams College. Currently he is teaching two courses at Baylor University. Along with his busy schedule of teaching, Burger has produced teaching videos with Thinkwell. They were part of one of the first interactive virtual textbooks. The videos  are online and have been used as textbooks and supplementary material for students. Freshman honors student and psychology major Brooke Cox watched the videos in her junior year of high school to help in an algebra class she was having difficulties with. “The Thinkwell videos were really interesting just because he is making direct eye contact through the camera. It is really personal, kind of like you are with a tutor, and they are helping you through the math problems you have,” she said. Throughout his teaching career, Burger has received numerous awards. Reader’s Digest in 2006 named him America’s best math teacher in the annual “100 Bests of America.”  His most recent award was Baylor’s Robert Foster Cherry award which he received in 2010. Burger had this to say about the award: “The Robert Foster Cherry award for great teaching, (is) probably the biggest award I’ve received because it is a big international prize that is amongst all the English speaking faculty in the world in all subjects, and they only give it once every two years.” While he certainly appreciates receiving awards like the Cherry award, he finds it more rewarding when a middle school student sends him an e-mail thanking him for helping through one of his video lectures about math. Burger’s UMHB lecture was titled “Monkeys, Mathematics, and Mischief.” In spite of the title, the lecture was not strictly mathematical. It was really about the lifelong lessons of learning. At the end of the talk, Burger challenged the students to make the invisible visible. “By doing so, you will not only see the richness of the individual things that you are thinking about, but you’ll begin to see a new way of looking at everything. It is a habit of living, and it is the greatest habit we can embrace because that’s the habit of living that will...

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AMC adds brains to zombie genre

Zombies are alive. The television adaptation of Robert Kirkland’s graphic novel Walking Dead is turning heads and attracting a mass of viewers to the cable channel that used to primarily show classic movies starring actors who often had already died. It’s the perfect setting for a zombie takeover. AMC has already found success with dramatic hits Breaking Bad and Mad Men, but a show about the undead seems ambitious even for them. But with Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont and Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd behind the scenes, the show’s creative resume is more than impressive. Darabont’s Shawshank experience is not the sole source of the Stephen King feel the show gives. Instead of chaotic and constant barrage of enemies, Walking Dead is a show more about isolation than anarchy. As a character rides a horse on an empty highway into Atlanta, viewers familiar with The Stand and The Gunslinger can’t help but see a strong influence from those works. Dead is somewhere between a survival movie and a western, with the modern world turned into an untamable, desolate wasteland. The series follows Sheriff Rick Grimes, who awakes from a coma to find that the town he once had                                          jurisdiction over is now run by flesh- eating corpses. A gunshot wound in the first act causes him to sleep through whatever led to the mass spread of some horrible        disease. Viewers don’t know how the outbreak happened or how the vast majority of all people were killed, but, like the sheriff, they are thrust into the remains of the former life. Grimes’ biggest hope is to find his wife and son, who viewers learn is hiding out with his deputy Shane. The strained wife has assumed the sheriff is dead. She copes with her grief in the arms of the deputy, setting up a fierce and inevitable conflict between the lawmen. Grimes is portrayed by Andrew Lincoln, who told the Los Angeles Times that the desire to play a zombie-fighting cowboy was too strong of a temptation to resist. “I went to work, and I put on cowboy boots, a Stetson, a bag of guns, and got on a horse called Blade and rode into an apocalyptic Atlanta,” Lincoln said in his interview with the Times. “That was my job for the day, and it was    astonishing.” What makes Walking Dead special is that it is among a very small group of zombie works not so much about the zombies. They are a backdrop to more intimate stories – a broken family – a father and son grieving the loss of a mother – a racist’s life in the...

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Generation grows up with Potter
Nov16

Generation grows up with Potter

Written by Tanner Clarke Since the release of the first Harry  Potter book in 1997, a wave of fanatics has been following every twist and turn of the story. With the movies came an even greater number of people enjoying this story of a young wizard and his friends. Nov. 19 marks the start of the final installment of the film versions of this tale. For many students, this is the end of an era of something they have followed their whole lives. Sophomore business management major Ben Taylor read the books as a child and found a love of reading through them. “It was something that grew up with me as I grew up, and it allowed me to use literature as an escape from my own life,” Taylor said. Many believe that J.K. Rowling did a great thing for that generation by bringing the fun of reading back into their lives. Senior management and marketing double major Lewis Simms found an appreciation of reading through Harry Potter. He remembers getting the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, from a book fair in elementary school and said it “was the first book that got me started reading.” For many young people, the characters were growing up with them and were going through the same everyday things. Freshman Christian ministries major Lindsay Harrell said, “I love the fact that it is a fantasy world, but you get the real struggle of an adolescent trying to grow up normal in this very abnormal     environment.” This combination of a magical world and true-to-life hardships of being an adolescent is what many find intriguing about the fantasy. Taylor, Harrell and Simms all agree that these themes play into the large popularity that the books and films seem to bring with them. Harry Potter really does reach a broad audience, and the introduction of the movies only increased that number. Now people who never grew up with Harry Potter or even read the books can appreciate this story, Taylor said. It is important to read the books before watching the movies. Harrell said that with the movies the audience, “truly loses the detail and important anecdotes.” Although many die-hard fans prefer the books to the movies, that will not stop them from  standing in line for hours to get into midnight premieres at local movie theaters to see the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Nov. 19. Part 2 of the film will be released in the summer. Many students are sad to see such a large part of their life finally ending, but are confident of the story’s...

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Reality show or campaign ad?
Nov16

Reality show or campaign ad?

The premier episode of TLC’s Sarah Palin’s Alaska featured the former vice presidential nominee and her family of five enjoying the long, sunny summer days of Alaska. Scenes of shooting skeet, white water rafting, rock-climbing, deep-sea fishing and dog-racing provided viewers with a sneak-peak of the adventurous attitude and lifestyle Palin lives. For eight weeks, the Palin family will be scrutinized by viewers all over the country; however, this time Palin’s calling the shots. She invites members of all political parties into her home where viewers get the first glimpse of what Palin is like on a daily basis. Although, there are several times throughout the show when most people cannot relate to her. In one instance she is filmed walking 20 feet to a studio to do a correspondent interview with FOX News before going to trek through Denali National Park. Palin is   mainly viewed as a mother who enjoys spending quality time with her family. Viewers watch scenes of  mother-daughter bonding over baking cupcakes,   family fishing trips and bear-watching, chiding her teenage daughter, Willow, for trying to sneak a boy upstairs, riding in an RV with her parents to mountaineering lessons and glacier-hiking part of Mt. McKinley with her husband, Todd. All of this is carefully edited and knit together perfectly by TLC’s family-minded editors, and of course Palin.  She is thought to have earned as much as $1 million per episode and is one of the executive         producers. TCL President Eileen O’Neill said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, “Ultimately, the network has creative control and approval over the show, but really, across the production company and the Palin family, it was quite a collaborative effort.” And why was it a collaborative effort? Is Palin using TCL as a platform for the presidential election in 2012, or is she simply showing off her beautiful state and shedding positive light on her family for once? Some viewers could easily watch the show and see it as the latter, but most paid attention to every political analogy. At one point, Palin is in her backyard and the camera pans to a man sitting on his porch next-door reading a book. He goes unnamed throughout the episode, but not unnoticed.  She criticizes journalist Joe McGinniss for spying on her and her family while he conducts research for a book about her. Todd built a 14-foot wall to keep him out and Palin said, “By the way, I thought that was a good example, what we just did, others could look and say, ‘Oh, this is what we need to do to secure our nation’s borders.’” Perhaps the...

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Jazz concert based on board game concepts

“Do Not Pass Go” is based on the concept of the Monopoly man. This may seem strange for a jazz concert, but it makes a statement that this ensemble means business. Director of the university’s jazz ensemble Nils Landsberg wants people to attend the concert Nov. 19 because “we take what we do seriously.” Sophomore psychology major Brandon Rodriguez, who plays the trumpet, said, “What’s different about this concert compared to one in the past is that what we’re playing is harder. We’re being more musically challenged than last year.” The songs will come from a wide spectrum ranging from blues, ballads, shuffle charts, modern funk and many others. There will be songs from 1931 as well as tunes from 2003. Landsberg said, “Jazz is an ensemble that has truly been an American art form since it was born in America. It creates music for the sake of art.” Because it is such a diverse  genre, jazz brings students from all walks of life together. Rodriguez said, “Everyone brings something different to the table. We all come from different musical backgrounds like rock, funk, classical. One of the girls, Sabrina Ozio, is even making her own country album now.” The ensemble practices Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour and a half. Each of the 20 members is also responsible for a 30-minute sectional outside of rehearsal. Landsberg said, “I make them (practice) so the students can have more ownership of the group. They can get involved, give me ideas and ask questions.” After their upcoming concert, the ensemble will not perform again until March 4 when they go on tour to Memphis where they will sing in  churches and high schools. This is used as a recruiting tool to get the name of UMHB out there. Trombone player and junior music education major Andrea Mercer said, “It’s really neat to see how far we come musically in a few short days while we’re on tour.” The concert is Nov. 19  at 7:30 p.m. at Hughes Recital Hall. The director encourages “people on campus to hear what we have. This concert is going to be really good, and I’ll be completely surprised if no one likes it,” he said. Landsberg thinks very highly of the opening number  for the “Do Not Pass Go” performance. He said,  “Not only are we featuring one of our faculty, Stephen Crawford, but our opening tune is basically going to punch the audience in the jaw. It’s going to have a big...

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