- Good people doing bad things: ‘Fargo’ is a must-see
| Jay Benedict writer |
“Your problem is, you’ve spent your whole life thinking there are rules…there aren’t.”
Thus begins one of the most fantastic short monologues in recent television history.
Billy Bob Thorton brings chaos to a small Minnesota town and a bunch of tragically funny characters get caught up in the mix.
This is the recipe that FX has implemented in its new and wonderful dark comedy/drama. It borrows pieces of its blueprint from the Coen brothers’ 1996 film by the same name, but the series is neither a sequel or prequel; it’s more of spiritual re-imagination.
The original “Fargo” won more than 60 awards, including two Oscars, so taking a page from the Coens’ book sounds like a good idea on paper.
Movies like “Fargo” rarely, if ever, translate well to television. It’s difficult to translate plots that are so condensed and naturally seem like one-offs to the small screen.
However, FX and FOX have seen success with shows that initially seem like they’d be better suited as a miniseries at most. Series like “The Following” and “Sleepy Hollow” have held up well over time. Now “Fargo” is poised to join the previous two shows, “Justified” and “The Americans” in the studios’ stable of great TV series.
Most premieres spend a lot of time on exposition, and can risk boring the audience it’s trying to intrigue. “Fargo” forgoes the majority of the typical exposition. The writers may have hoped that the audience knows the basic idea from the film or they plan on letting action and the actors draw people in to this character-driven dramedy.
Any reservations about Thorton need to be thrown out the window. His previous work has been questionable, but he shines here. Thorton’s Lorne Malvo is a motivational sociopath whose hit-man exploits accidentally bring him to Lester Nygaard’s (Martin Freeman) small Minnesota town.
Freeman takes William H. Macy’s place as the not-that-lovable, constantly-down-on-his-luck loser. Freeman has come a long way since playing a minor part in “Love Actually” in 2003. He’s now world-famous for portraying Bilbo Baggins in the “The Hobbit” movies and John Watson in the BBC phenomenon “Sherlock.”
After a chance meeting in an ER, Malvo brutally solves a problem that Nygaard didn’t really even think he had. We get zero backstory for Thorton’s character, but he’s obviously a bad dude. For some reason, he takes Nygaard under his wing and attempts to liberate him from his bullies, emasculating wife and oppressive job.
It would be easy to root for Malvo if he weren’t so damn dark. His monologues are fantastic and the ideas behind them are reasonable, but, in exercise, they are brutal.
There are several contentious aspects, but a little perspective can explain them away. Should Nygaard have cracked so easily after meeting Malvo? A stable person would not, but Freeman conveys a man who has been bullied his whole life. He finally sees an absolute way to rid himself of his problems, and he takes it.
There’s no good reason that a psychopath like Malvo would take Nygaard under his wing, but, again, we don’t know his story. Maybe it’s as simple as he feels bad for the guy, maybe he had a traumatic past, or he’s nuts, maybe he’s just in a good mood.
Whatever the case is, this show is equal parts fascinating and fantastic. It sets up a plot that doesn’t seem viable for a full season or multiple seasons if it gets picked up again, but it’s been done before.
The movie “Fargo” got a bit slow in the middle. This premiere started with a bang and just kept going. If the writers can pull it off, there’s a good chance that this could be one of the best Spring premieres and an outstanding series going forward.
FX’s new series takes its Oscar-winning source material and improves on it. Buckle up. It’s going to be a hell of ride.
- Gorilla Dash
Students, community compete to raise thousans foor Sgt. Robertson Memorial Scholarship fund
| Kelsea Renz managing editor |
Shin-deep mud, high winds, and intense heat were just the minor challenges that participants faced at the third annual Gorilla Dash, held Saturday, April 12.
The race, a tough mudder similar to the Warrior Dash, was held to raise funds for the Sgt. Robertson Memorial Scholarship, named for former ROTC instrucotr Sgt. Forrest Robertson, who was killed in action in early November.
“This was something Sgt. Rob was passionate about,” said John Fatkin, senior in history. “I wanted him to be able to look down and be proud to see us doing something that he was really into, something that he appreciated and came up with on his own.”
This year’s course has been in the making since around Christmas, with Fatkin heading the project.
“I did not want to be the person who let this drop and see this fail while I’m at this university,” he said. “It’s a big thing, a big event, and I’m kinda glad it’s done so I can breathe.”
Fatkin did not plan the event alone, however. He enlisted help from several of the cadets, with his younger brother being one of the most involved.
“I just tried to help out in any way possible, and it really helped me out a lot to see the process up close,” said Jacob Fatkin, sophomore in accounting. “I think it was a big help in my career as a cadet, because I’m gonna be in his shoes in two years in leadership positions.”
The brothers, along with about five other cadets, set up the course on the old SAE Baja course, which is where the cadets do many of their training exercises.
“We know this area pretty well and were fortunate that the university was generous enough to let us use it,” John said. “And because we had a small budget, basically what we had to do was use the terrain to our advantage.”
The finished 5K course had obstacles scattered throughout that included a tire flip, five low crawls, numerous stair steps, a maze and five water obstacles.
“Anything out here was generally flat, so the hills weren’t something we could really use, but creeks, ponds and those small little ponds that are just muddy and hard to get through we could,” John said. “We just thought, ‘okay what would be the hardest thing to run through?’”
To test the course, the cadets had a run-through the morning before the event.
“I was making sure everyone was getting through the course and knew where they needed to go and making sure it all ran smoothly,” Jacob said. “After that, we took what we learned from that Friday run and added a little bit to the course to make it less confusing and a little more fun.”
44 teams raced the course, with an average time of 23:59, and a winning time of 17:13 by an individual runner with the team name of BMAC. Many of those who raced were area residents.
“We actually had the older crowd mainly come in the morning, and they smoked the course,” John said. “They were some of the best times.”
Overall, the event raised approximately $2,000 for the scholarship fund, which will be used to give a scholarship on Friday, April 25, to a qualifying cadet.
“There were a lot of community people,” said John. “They really came together and supported us so my hat’s off to the community for supporting us and supporting Sgt. Rob.”
- Greek week
Three sororities, six fraternities face off in annual competition
| Audrey Dighans copy editor |
Disney may not know it yet, but its newest feature-length film will be Pitt State’s Airband competition on Thursday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in the Weede.
“Everyone is really looking forward to it; it’s sort of the finale of Greek Week,” said Abby Carson, sophomore in nursing, member of Sigma Sigma Sigma and Greek Week committee member.
During the event, six fraternities and three sororities houses at PSU will perform a sketch combined of different Disney films and songs. Participants may lip-sync along with the words but may not make any noise during the performance, including vocal or with props. For example, one person may have a guitar but he or she may not actually play it, only pretend.
“Houses will be judged on originality of the sketch, creativity, relation to the theme, appropriateness and if it is under the time constraints,” Carson said.
As Airband is the last competition of Greek Week, houses take the competition seriously.
“We’ve been practicing for about six weeks,” said Jason Jones, senior in electronic engineering and president of Pi Kappa Alpha.
Jones says the best part of Airband is finally competing after all the hard work put into preparing for the event.
“After two hour practices, three times a week, finally getting to do it in front of everyone makes all that work worth it,” he said.
Carson also looks forward to the event.
“It is so great seeing the creativity that goes into each sketch,” she said. “Each chapter does its own thing, and everyone interprets the theme differently.”
Carson and other members of the Greek Week committee have been allowed to participate in certain events for Greek Week, such as volunteering for Big Event last Saturday, April 12, but any points they would have earned may not go towards their houses, since they are in charge of running and sometimes judging competitions.
Meagan Smejdir, program coordinator for Campus Activities, says the Greek Week committee and chairs have done a great job of organizing a successful and smooth-going week of activities.
“Each year is different; each year we have different committee members; each year has its own take on Greek Week,” Smejdir said.
The overall winners of Greek Week will also be announced at the conclusion of Airband.
Points have been awarded for several events over the course of the week, from highest member participation in Big Event to best Greek Banner, from Greek Games to Chariot Race.
- Damn. This was good…
Captain America: The Winter Soldier does not disappoint
| Ceejay Bachus reporter |
Captain America is a hard nut to crack. In this film’s predecessor, “The First Avenger,” Marvel had a hard time trying to pin down the character and how he should be portrayed. This unearths an obvious snag in the idea of taking a man from the 1940s and placing him in the modern day among spies, angry monsters and an alien invasion.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is juggling a lot of plates. It’s the most direct successor to “The Avengers,” the narrative predecessor to “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and is tasked with creating characters and storylines that have developed over the course of five films. It also has to finally cement Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers as a believable character. The film does all of these things perfectly.
Marvel Studios has churned out quality products at least twice a year. This is unusual but not unwelcome, as we get a bunch of really awesome movies – like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – with direct ties to one another that give casual viewers the same geeky chubs that comic book fans get when something kitschy from the source is used in the film.
Captain America is now working with the black ops division of S.H.I.E.L.D., assisted by the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). His loyalties are being tested frequently and his ideals often conflict with those of the organization that he’s given his life to. All the while, the events of “Avengers” have sent the government into a fervor, which has let to Project Insight, the PATRIOT Act on super steroids.
After a violent falling out, Cap and the Widow become fugitives hoping to put an end to the corruption of S.H.I.E.L.D. while a ghost from Steve’s past comes back to bite him in the ass.
“The Winter Soldier” is the action debut for Joseph and Anthony Russo, a duo known for directing “You, Me & Dupree” and a few episodes of “Community.”
The screenplay, by Stephen McFreely and Christopher Markus, borrows heavily from the source material. They pull not only from Ed Brubaker’s “Winter Soldier” storyline, but “Man Out of Time” from the same run, a seminal ‘80s Marvel spy story, “Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D,” and various other Cap stories from the past 40 years to craft a single story that justifies Rogers’ inclusion in Marvel’s films, but also tears down the walls that the studio has been building for itself since 2008’s “Iron Man.”
The third act of this movie is so jaw-droppingly ballsy that it will literally change all discourse related Cap and every character and story arc that has been introduced since that first Iron Man outing.
The performances are fantastic; Evans, Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson remain Marvel’s best decisions since the casting of Robert Downey Jr. The standout comes from Anthony Mackie as the winged military vet Sam Wilson/The Falcon. Mackie’s turn as Falcon fulfills the comic relief and he is an instantly believable action hero in his own right. Also: big ups to Marvel for including their very first black superhero in this film (Falcon first appeared in “Captain America,” #117 in 1969).
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is an impeccably paced, well-thought out, expertly realized game changer of a superhero film that at once grounds the Marvel cinematic universe and bursts the door wide open for endless possibilities.
It’s Marvel’s best solo outing since “Iron Man” and surpasses that film on almost every level. Marvel’s got big plans on the horizon and if it can keep delivering films like this it will remain THE major player in the superhero genre.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t go to its head and affect the quality of the material – because with great power comes great responsibility.
- do or die Disney
Students compete in themed trivia night
| Audrey Dighans copy editor |
Mathmatical Meerkats, Swagvengers, The Great Stone Dragons and Twerkules were just four of the 27 teams competing in Student Activities Council’s (SAC)’s Disney Trivia night on Tuesday, April 8.
“We were very successful with our Harry Potter Trivia night last year that we knew we needed to repeat the event,” said Catherine Geiger, sophomore in biology and student event coordinator for the trivia night. “We wanted to choose something we figured students would know a lot about and would really like and who doesn’t love Disney?”
Starting at 6 p.m. teams of two to four players entered the Crimson & Gold Ballroom, many of them dressed as their favorite Disney, Star Wars or Marvel character, for the costume contest.
In all, 20 students stepped onto the stage for the contest, which was judged by SAC members. Therese O’Brien won the contest with her Tiger Lily costume from the Disney movie “Peter Pan.”
The food provided to participants was also a highlight for some competitors.
“We came because we love Disney,” said Brendan Finley, junior in elementary education. “We thought this would be a fun date night and the free food is also pretty nice.”
His wife, Kaitlynn Finley, agreed.
“We are a little intimidated going up against teams of four, but we absolutely think we will do well,” she said.
After the costumes and dinner, Disney lovers were put to the test, or buzzer, in the trivia tournament.
Five rooms in the upper level of the student center were prepared, each room holding two teams at a time.
Following official Scholars Bowl rules, 15 questions were asked from five categories: Disney animated movies, Disney Channel, Star Wars & Marvel, Disney live-action movies and Disney Pixar, per round.
Each team member had his or her own buzzer. Buzzing in early with an incorrect answer resulted in minus five points while all correct answers were worth 10.
Many of the rounds concluded with close calls, only five points defeat or victory, for the teams.
“It was a lot of competition,” said Charly Crane, undeclared freshman and member of team Chipmunks. “I hated the rounds where it was neck and neck but loved them at the same time. That element of competition just feels so good, and lots of times it just comes down to who can press their buzzer the fastest.”
Crane and his partner, Emma Huskey, sophomore in graphic communications, would go on to win first place.
“It feels great to win,” Crane said. “I didn’t want the night to end, I wanted to stay and keep answering questions.”
Geiger says she and other SAC members were pleased with the turnout.
“We had a huge turnout and we’ll keep coming up with more themes for more trivia nights,” Geiger said.
Crane says his favorite question of the event was, ‘Who blew Hades’ hair out in Hercules?’
“It’s great when you buzz in and know the answer, the hardest part is waiting to be recognized,” he said. “With my half of the prize money, I’m going to Disney World!”
- Nine season sitcom ends its ‘legendary’ run
| Jay Benedict writer |
Spoiler alert! Reader beware.
It took nine years and 208 episodes, but Ted Mosby finally finished telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. The finale was presented as two episodes with Ted finally meeting the mother near the end of the first half-hour.
“How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM) has been CBS’s Monday night sitcom powerhouse for almost a decade. Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and the writers took full advantage of the time given to them before finally uniting Ted and the mother, a little more literally than expected though.
The series has followed Ted through his various relationships, their development and ultimate conclusion. The writers took their premise seriously in the sense that the entire series was a story of how Ted met the mother and nothing else. Relying on subtle flashes into the future and indirect characterization through interactions with other characters, the writers paved the way with insights, like the “destined” meet up, through the yellow umbrella and the roommate, that helped make it feel like there was something more than random chance at work.
Speaking of taking advantage of time, the entire ninth season was spent building up the moment until Barney and Robin’s wedding. It’s a semi-clever plot device that served the purpose of setting up the moment of meeting the mother by playing out the season “24” style hour-by-hour did build tension and suspense, but to have the entire build up undone within 10 minutes of the second act of the finale just felt like it was all too drawn out and extended by too much filler.
We’ve seen the mother, (Tracy) played by Cristin Milioti, all throughout the final season. She has interacted with every member of the gang besides Ted and through those interactions we gained insight on the type of person she is and why she would finally be “the one,” but we didn’t get to see much of her and Ted’s relationship.
HIMYM has always excelled at showing how getting older changes people’s lives and their outlooks on them. Marshall and Lily’s path is probably the best example. They played the balance between the extremes of Barney and Robin, while also being exactly what Ted wanted: getting married, buying a house, having kids and careers.
Ted is the crux of the series and he’s been a representative of millennials trying to find their way; he makes the struggle of being in your mid-20’s and early 30’s seem doable.
The main demographic of HIMYM was 18-49 year olds. This audience is facing or has faced the obstacles Ted encounters; a series of decisions with some of them ending up as “What ifs.”
An example: for the entire duration of the series, Robin or Ted spent time infatuated with the other. This infatuation was never more apparent than during the final season when Ted went farther than any rational person would to find Robin’s locket and he finally decided to move halfway across the country to get away from Barney and Robin’s relationship. Robin, herself, stated that she should have ended up with Ted in the lead up to the finale.
The writers use divorce and cancer as the means to bring Ted and Robin together again.
The issue with the whole finale lies in the pacing, but that also its strength, in a way. The final half hour spans two decades. We see the inevitable: a tight group of friends falls apart under the weight of relationships, children and careers. It hits home, but all happens too fast.
Barney’s whole multi-year arc of character development goes by the wayside, only to be saved by another inevitable: his hundreds of trysts end with a child. The stats don’t lie. Robin still has the same issues with balancing her career and relationships that she did in the first season. Ted settles for second best, albeit, it a girl who can and will give him children.
It all just seems too calculated. Ted wants and needs children. Robin can’t and doesn’t want to provide that. The mother provides an appropriate surrogate and distraction while Robin slowly grows lonely, gets more dogs and realizes that she doesn’t need a Barney; she needs a Ted.
In the end, the kids (whose scenes were filmed nine years ago and have been sworn to secrecy since) saw through Ted’s story; saying that this wasn’t the story of how Ted met their mother, but of his love for Robin. The premiere episode a decade ago saw Ted steal Robin a blue French horn. The final scene showed the same thing. It served as an excellent bookend to the series, but in a way also made all the time between seem like a diversion from the inevitable…if you’re a Ted and Robin fan you’ll love the finale. If you were hoping for a grand love story between Ted and the mother, you’ll be disappointed.
- Farm to table
| Erika Hall reporter |
To hear three Pittsburg farmer’s market customers tell it, “farm fresh” is something you can actually taste.
“The difference between a farmers-market tomato and a store-bought tomato is like the difference between a tomato and cardboard,” says Trent Kling, PSU assistant professor of communication, who also owns an orchard and is now on his first term on the board of directors for the local farmers market.
Kling says the difference is that it is grown with an eye toward the end consumer in mind, rather than just grown with an eye toward mass production, and he says the prices are highly comparable.
“There are some things that are at a premium but a lot of times they will beat grocery store prices, and if you are paying a premium just know that you’re paying a premium for produce that is either grown organically or grown locally with minimal pesticides,” he said.
Noemi Hernandez and Shelby Hobbs, both Pitt State students, say farm fresh is the way to go and have their families to thank for introducing them to the farmers market.
Hobbs, junior in elementary education, says Pittsburg is her hometown and that as long as she can remember her parents have gotten food from the local farmers market.
“It used to be really small and now it is growing into a bigger deal and more appreciated,” Hobbs said. “Any farm fresh good is way better than a preserved good from the grocery store.”
Hernandez, senior in recreation, says the relaxed environment is what keeps her coming back.
“I can’t explain it, everyone is so happy. I love seeing so many colors in the fruits and vegetables. It’s a happy place of mine, and even though it cost a little extra, it’s so worth it,” she said.
The Pittsburg farmers market is a producer-only market, which means that all the vendors are vetted, so it is verified that what they are selling at their booth is made by them, grown by them, and in the case of meat or eggs, raised by them.
Kling says the fact that they have a recently completed building will be great for customers and vendors alike, with protection from rain in the spring or the sun in June, July and August.
The new farmers market building is just off of 12th and Broadway and is open from 7:30 a.m. to about noon from April to November. Those interested in being a vendor should go to www.pittsburgfarmersmarket.org.
- Korean Culture Day
| Robin Siteneski reporter |
Anyone who has had a Korean classmate may have noticed him or her handing out papers using both hands. This is because distributing school papers is an important task in Korea and using one hand is considered disrespectful.
The differences between American and Korean cultures are significantly, and PSU students will have a chance to learn about these differences during the annual Korean Culture Day at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 3. The event will take place in the Crimson & Gold Ballroom in Overman Student Center and will cost $5.
Performances such as that of the Samulnori, a traditional Korean musical performance, and a fan dance will be featured. Korean pop music or “K-POP” will also be presented.
About 40 Korean international students are expected to wear hanbok, a traditional style of Korean dress, to the event.
As with many culture nights, food will also be available.
Seung Hyung Lee, international student in plastic engineering technology and president of the Korean student association, says they will serve “bulgogi,” marinated beef, “kimchi,” rice, “japchae,” a mixed dish of boiled beans and stir-fried vegetables, and desserts.
Lee says he hopes to clarify some of the misconceptions about his country during the event as well.
“Many foreigners think all of Koreans like eating dog soup, but it is just partly true,” he said.
- Graphics, gadgets, games
| Audrey Dighans copy editor |
The Kansas Technology Center will be the site of Pitt State’s first “G3 Expo” on Saturday, March 29.
“This is going to be a full day of fun all about graphics, gadgets and games,” said Akram Taghavi-Burris, assistant professor in graphics and imaging technologies and supervisor of the G3 Exposition, or “G3 Expo” for short.
About 10-12 speakers, from a variety of areas including web, gaming, branding, video editing and other business professionals, are scheduled to present during the event.
“We’re going to have all sorts of things going on,” said Megan Meyer, junior in graphic communications and committee chair of the G3 Expo.
The event will include video-game contests with games like Call of Duty and Smash Bro’s, a Photoshop “Cut & Paste” competition and exhibitor booths, which will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“The idea is to have a day where we promote the world of graphics, the gadgets that are used to create those graphics and the various outputs there are of graphics, such as games,” Taghavi-Burris said. “We have presenters who have started their own businesses coming, we have exhibitors from industry that will be showing the products they make and we have various Pitt State clubs involved with it.”
G3 is sponsored by the GIT Department and Gamma Epsilon Tau (GET), Pitt State’s Graphics Honors Society. The PSU Robotics club will also be showcasing its projects.
Meyer, GET vice president, says the society and the Graphic Arts Club have been working hard all year to organize the event by contacting local and regional businesses to attend.
“This is a huge project,” Meyer said. “We’ve looked high and low for speakers and I’m really interested to meet them and hear what they have to say, especially the presentations involving the use of web design because that is my area of study.”
The idea for the G3 Expo was brought to GET and the Graphic Arts Club by Taghavi-Burris.
“I helped run a similar event at Oklahoma City Community College,” she said. “It started out very small, but by the third year we had more than 1,000 attendees. I thought, why not have something like it at PSU to show off our GIT department and the KTC?”
Students interested in attending the G3 Expo are encouraged to pre-register online at www.g3x.psugit.com for a chance to win prizes during the event.
“The first 50 to register also receive a free tote bag,” Meyer said. “I haven’t checked, but hopefully we are already past the 50 mark.”
A complete schedule of events and more information about the G3 Expo is available online.
- It’s my vagina!
‘Monologue’ tradition continues
| Gretchen Burns reporter |
| Gretchen Burns reporter |
On Friday, March 28, 11 women will take the stage performing in “The Vagina Monologues” at Pittsburg’s Lincoln Center.
The actresses, many of whom are Pitt State students, are led by alumna Megan Stoneberger, coordinator of the Southeast Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women (SEK NOW) and director.
“Whenever I was a student at PSU, the Women’s Studies Club had a tradition of putting on ‘The Vagina Monologues,’” Stoneberger said. “For a few years it wasn’t put on and now we’re trying to bring it back.”
The event is sponsored by the Pitt State Women’s Studies Club and SEK NOW, with 90 percent of the proceeds to benefit the Safe House Crisis Center and 10 percent donated to the V-Day National Spotlight Campaign, an international group that works globally to end violence against women and girls.
“The playwright grants the show for free in February, March and April as long as the proceeds go to help ‘V Day,’” Stoneberger said. “The proceeds from this will go to help Safe House in Pittsburg and whatever the national charity is that V Day is supporting this year.”
“The Vagina Monologues” involves a series of actresses talking about issues involving women that are not generally thought about or given much attention to. These issues range from comic to dramatic, discussing pubic hair, rape and childbirth.
Stoneberger has performed in the show twice and directed it once. She says she collaborated with the Women’s Studies Club to bring this performance back to the students of Pitt State and the Pittsburg community.
Along with the show a silent auction will take place with several generous donations collected by volunteers and donated by local businesses.
Stoneberger says gift certificates to restaurants and other services, candles and PSU gear are just some of the items donated so far. She added she hopes that it will prove to be profitable for Safe House.
“The whole point of this is so that people become aware of issues involving women,” Stoneberger said. “We’re reaching out to the community and letting them know that this is all for a good cause.”
“The Vagina Monologues” will be held on Friday, March 28, at Lincoln Center, 710 W. Ninth St., and Saturday, March 29, at the Bourbon Street Bar. Performances will start at 7:30 p.m. on both nights.
Tickets cost $10 for general public and $5 for students.