- Chris Kyle deserved better
| Carl J. Bachus reporter |
Clint Eastwood is not what I would call a bad director, he’s a cold one. Nearly all of his movies express very little emotion; it’s just not built within the films’ respective structure. This is an issue for me as a filmgoer but it has never made me as uneasy as it did during his latest film, “American Sniper.”
Eastwood takes a story that is filled with stirring emotion and chooses to adapt it into a mashed-together mess favoring ideology over narrative weight.
The film portrays the true story of U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (Academy Award-nominated Bradley Cooper,) a man brought up on pride in country and a comically overt sense of self-imposed heroism. He joins the good fight right before the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City.
To date Kyle is the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history and the film races through the major events of his life: his wedding, the births of his children and his four-tour attempt to take down a militant Islamist called “the Butcher” and an unnamed Olympian al-Qaeda sniper.
If it sounds like I am explaining the story to you, that’s because this is all the film does, it tells you the story in a much less interesting way than Kyle could have probably told you in his autobiography.
The few cinematic flairs that Eastwood does add to the overall narrative only register as ideological trappings meant – and I do mean meant – to rile up a conservative audience and make a liberal one uncomfortable. These moments of the film are frequent, heavy handed and devoid of dramatic weight.
A fight where a young Kyle finds himself defending his little brother on the playground, his wedding all feel insubstantial compared to the expressed emphasis placed on his career as a sniper. Not to diminish his military accomplishment, but it feels like celebrating his life or his time as a veteran counselor would have allowed for a more inviting, more resonant experience.
Instead, the film simply tries to shock the viewer into feeling a certain way. During the war portions, Eastwood flings visceral image after visceral image at the audience. But, instead of lingering on them and milking them for emotional resonance, he just kills another soldier or thrusts you into another firefight. This strips each event of anything that would evoke legitimate passionate feeling.
All that said, even within Eastwood’s conservative, arguably PTSD-shaming retelling of Kyle’s life, Bradley Cooper delivers a masterful performance as Kyle. Equal parts sympathetic and charming, Cooper’s portrayal of Kyle is magnetic even when the narrative is trying extremely hard to make you not like him. The supporting cast is serviceable but this is really Cooper’s vehicle. The movie around him should’ve been better.
Kyle’s life was a harrowing one, but “American Sniper” was hollow, ideologically biased and emotionally fraudulent. Even anchored by what is truly Cooper’s best, most effective performance to date, Eastwood’s direction and political sensibilities whittle an American legend’s life down to propaganda and that’s “Sniper’s” biggest sin: that the only instance that felt true and heartfelt was documentary footage of his funeral during the closing credits.
Chris Kyle deserved better.
- Getting Crazy
Ninja, Batman and other Gents get crowds to games
It’s not every day that Jonathan Doles, sophomore in automotive mechanical design from Olathe, gets to dress up in his Ninja Turtle attire, but last Wednesday, he and a number of Pitt State students got to do just that.
No, it wasn’t a comic book convention. It was a basketball doubleheader between Pittsburg State and Emporia State at John Lance Arena. The theme for the game was Super Hero Night.
Doles, a member of the PSU Pep Band, showed up in his turtle onesie and had been keeping Super Hero Night in mind when he bought it.
“I’ve had this costume for about a year,” Doles said. “This is the first time I’ve worn it. I bought the costume specifically for this occasion.”
Doles wasn’t the only one in costume, as students came dressed as their favorite super hero, ranging from Iron Man to Batman to the Incredible Hulk.
Super Hero night has been just one of the many themes that the PSU Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) has been putting together for over the past year.
Last school year was the first time the SAAC began doing theme nights for the home basketball games.
The themed-nights idea was originally started to help get more students to John Lance Arena and so far, it appears to have worked.
According to SAAC Spirit co-chair Jake Stevenson, they had to return them for the 2014-15 basketball season.
“Last year, we started doing theme nights and it just took off from the start,” said Stevenson, a graduate student in human wellness from Carl Junction, Mo. “It was, ‘OK, let’s see how this works,’ and then this year we knew we had to continue.”
Choosing different theme nights usually comes from SAAC meetings, which take place once a month.
“We all get together and write on the board and ask what are some ideas,” Stevenson said. “We’ll put our brains together and come up with some themes and it takes off from there.”
The different themes have ranged from Super Hero to Formal Ware, to Red Out, to even a Western Day.
But for some students, such as Demetrius Bernard, sophomore in exercise science from St. Louis, Mo., Super Hero Night, is a favorite.
“I think it’s a great event to get all the students out and show support for the basketball teams,” Bernard said, who went in a Batman shirt. “It’s fun to do and we look good in our outfits. It’s my favorite theme. No doubt.”
As for those who don’t favor it the most, it still remains in a close second.
“I rank super hero night as close to the top, but I would have to say my favorite was the well-dressed game because we all got to dress up in three-piece suits,” Doles said. “Superhero night is definitely up there.”
It may not have been luck that Super Hero Night brought in the largest crowd so far this season at PSU, bringing in 2,510 spectators for last Wednesday’s game.
It also wasn’t fate that Super Hero Night was put on for the same opponent. Last year, the same theme night was scheduled against Emporia State, a game in which both the women’s and men’s teams won.
“I wouldn’t say it was a coincidence,” Stevenson said with a laugh. “It was planned.
“You know how the other athletes are, if you got the win last year on super hero night, you got to do it again (against Emporia State). If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Regardless of what theme it is, what excites some people about the different home games is the opportunity to get wild.
“I always like it. It’s fun to get kind of stupid, honestly,” Doles said. “I think it’s a lot of fun and there’s a lot of students who participate and get in random stupid super hero fights.”
- Look of the Week
Its never too early
As I walked into the Career Closet I was amazed with the selection of garments available for both men and women. Pitt State students should be aware of and take advantage of the opportunity to choose three pieces per semester to add to their professional wardrobe. It is never too early to build a professional wardrobe.
My fashion merchandising students and I have been working with Career Services this semester to get the word out. As many of my students have enjoyed this opportunity, I wanted to experience it for myself.
I chose a blue-green matching pantsuit made of 100 percent polyester. This means that it will launder easily and will not wrinkle. This is a good quality for a business outfit, especially if you will be traveling for an interview. To add a little flair, I choose a cream blouse with a patterned neckline. As with many suit sets, this one also came with a knee-length pencil skirt. This gives the wearer choices depending on the situation and the weather. The color is what stood out the most to me as I was making my selection. I wanted to stray away from the traditional black suit.
I have always enjoyed putting outfits together, whether it is on a mannequin in a store, for a customer or even a friend. I would encourage everyone to take a peek at what the Career Closet has to offer. Even if you are unable to find something on your first visit, go back again. The merchandise is always changing because of continuous donations from the community. You can also go and just browse through the garments to see what is considered appropriate business attire for your own shopping ideas. I would also suggest bringing a friend who will give you some honest feedback on possible outfit choices.
Each of the looks featured in this article are available in the Career Clothes Closet, located on the second floor of Horace Mann. All clothing in the Career Clothes Closet is free to all students. The look of the week is brought to you by the partnership between the Office of Career Services, the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences fashion merchandising program, and the Collegio.
Christina Cook is a fashion merchandising instructor
- Students get a taste of real art world
| Gretchen Burns reporter |
Thirteen students presented their final projects for the Senior Art Seminar class in the first ever Senior Art Fair on Wednesday, Dec. 3, in the second floor gallery of Porter Hall.
The fair was designed to give students the experience of showcasing their work and allowed them to sell their pieces.
“This has been set up like a mock art fair so we can get experience for what it’s like to go to a conference or actual art fair,” said Catherine Jepson, senior in 3-D art. “I’m OK with this. I’ve done art shows with my dad. It’s nice to have art that I’ve completed recently for sale. It makes me feel accomplished.”
Jepson was selling and showcasing her printed fabric and letters that she had printed from a letterpress.
Rudi Rodebush displayed her paper-cut artwork and paintings and says the Senior Art Fair was a good way for her to prepare for her future.
“It’s slightly nerve-wracking,” said Rodebush, senior in commercial art. “You can only be so prepared for people to see your stuff. It’s the real world, but it’s really exciting at the same time.”
Displaying his metalwork, jewelry and ceramics, Jeremy Kelly was also glad for the chance to participate.
“It feels good to finally be at this stage,” Kelly, senior in 3-D art, said. “It lets people know my work, and if they like it enough, then they can buy it.”
Jacqueline Denton stood behind her booth that was decorated in psychedelic colors and displayed her printed artworks.
“I think this a good idea,” said Denton, senior in 2-D art. “People don’t realize what artists do in real life. There is enough of a different variety and types of art in this room alone that should show different avenues. It’s good to see the physical art that everyone has made.”
Much of the artwork displayed and on sale spanned over the course of the artists’ studies at Pitt State. While enrolled in Senior Art Seminar, students learned how to develop their personal brands by designing promotional material, creating websites and hard copy as well as digital portfolios. The course also instructed the students on marketing and business skills for future art fairs and shows.
Rebekah Parrish displayed her photography and talked to those who stopped by her booth to observe.
“I sold my first photograph! I’m so excited,” said Parrish, senior in commercial art. “I’m a legit artist now.”
Emmalyn Gennis says that she was impressed with the work she had seen her students create and was proud of their accomplishments.
“This is a great chance for the community to get to know our students and the work that they do, and to be able to take home a piece of art with them,” said Gennis, professor of art. “I’ve been impressed with what I have seen the students creating for this event; they will have a wide range of items for sale, such as toys, cards and art prints that would make excellent holiday gifts.”
- Faculty exhibit moving to bigger home
| Gretchen Burns reporter |
The University Gallery of Porter Hall walls are being graced for the last time with the artwork of the faculty in the Biannual Department of Art Faculty Exhibit. The next time the exhibit will be held, the artwork will be featured in the new Bicknell Family Center for the Fine Arts.
“It will be very exciting to have shows in the new center,” said Marjorie Schick, professor of art. “The gallery here is beautiful, but I look forward to seeing everything in the new gallery.”
The exhibition’s purpose is to celebrate the Department of Art faculty at Pittsburg State University as professional, working artists.
The exhibit recognizes many of the routes and paths that they have taken. The faculty has come together as a group to inspire students toward what is difficult to communicate — self-discovery, imagination and tenacity, and has titled the exhibition “Assembly Required.”
“I think it’s a good example for students,” said Emmalyn Gennis, professor of art. “Professors are part of the art world and the art industry. This exhibition gives students ideas of what it means to be professional artists because we’ve all taken our own paths in the art world.”
Gennis says she loves having work in Porter Hall but is excited about the space in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and believes that it will elevate how the university and department puts on a show as a faculty.
“I feel that the faculty exhibition allows students and the community, both PSU and Pittsburg, to see what we make,” said James Oliver, professor of art. “That we are teaching faculty, yes, but professional artists as well.”
“Through the work exhibited the students can see a glimpse into the studio practice of each faculty member and what specific visual problems we are wrestling with. It is always great to see new work by faculty. As colleagues we know that each is creating new work, but we don’t always see it on a regular basis, so the faculty show is always new to each of us as well.”
Oliver says he believes that with exhibits moving to the new center, it will draw crossover people from all the fine arts areas, music, theater and even art. He added the center will allow visitors attending a performance to view the gallery as well and broadens the audience for each group.
“I have exhibited in the University Gallery numerous times while I have been a faculty member at PSU,” Oliver said. “I do not necessarily feel sad that I will not exhibit there again, but I definitely have a sense of excitement for the future exhibitions in the new space, as well as the events throughout the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.”
With the new larger space, Portico Bowman says the faculty will feel compelled to make larger artwork to fill the area but believes that the fine arts center will be a benefit to everyone.
“I believe the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts gives everyone engaged with it an opportunity to be moved, to be drawn into deeper experiences with the arts, with the community, with the world. I can only be excited about the energy it will generate,” said Bowman, professor of art.
Bowman agreed with Oliver and says the exhibition in Porter helps other faculty and even students realize the visual problems each wrestles with when the work is displayed and it helps her connect to her students.
“If I’m not making artwork and writing, a source of inspiration for my art practice, then it is hard to stay sympathetic to the challenges of art-making,” said Bowman. “Having made art for 30 years does not mean it always goes smoothly, and it’s important to be in tune with how it feels when something falls apart when a student is trying something for the first time.”
- Seniors host play date
| Valli Sridharan reporter |
Theater lovers will get a triple treat when communication majors present their directorial debuts during “The Night of One Acts” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 4 and 5, in Grubbs Hall.
“The most enjoyable part in working as the director of one acts was that I get to work with the student actors who were so willing to contribute their time to help us with our school projects, “ said Taylor Elliot, director of “Women and Wallace.”
Elliot’s play is a dark comedy by Johnathan Marc Sherman. It revolves around a man who has difficulty forming relationships with women because of his mother’s death. Elliot says this play taught her a lot more than just directing skills.
“I learned a lot about being patient with myself,” she said.
The directors chose their plays with various factors in mind. Danielle Walker’s play, “Closet Madness” by Murray Schisgal, deals with gay relationships.
Logan Qualls, director of “Your Mother’s Butt” by Alan Ball, wanted to direct a play that college audiences could connect with.
“There is this trend I have noticed,” Qualls said. “As people we go through the world at a shallow level once and then over time we work through our complexes and deeper issues.
“I thought the client in the play was very interesting because he was dwelling only on the superficial issues and totally avoiding his own deeper conflicts. I think this is relevant to college students because there are a lot of important decisions to be made at this time.”
Although directing is crucial in theater performance, other skills help directors realize their vision.
For example, Ryan Urban, freshman in communication, was responsible for sound and lighting.
“Lighting is meant to match the mood and the effect of the scene,” Urban said.
“One of my favorite parts this time is I get angled lights, which are very cool. I use them during the dream sequence in Taylor’s play. The light goes dim to indicate the dream scene.”
An enthusiasm for theater doesn’t stop with the directors and technicians. The actors, including Mason Bayliss, say they are motivated to give their best for a different reason.
“I feel plays like this can be used as a platform to raise awareness,” said Bayliss, who plays the character of Sam Kogan in “Closet Madness.” “If we can bring those same ideas and messages to people through theater, then we could make a difference one story at a time.”
For other actors, including Austin VanBecelaere, who plays Wallace in “Women and Wallace,” acting is an important part of daily life.
“I am my happiest when I am on stage,” VanBecelaere said. “I never get tired of this. The thrill and the adrenaline rush I get motivates me to go on stage and perform. Personally, if I go two weeks without acting, I am going crazy.”
- Chicken soup for the cross-cultural soul
| Valli Sridharan reporter |
Bafa bafa. Gi na no na no. Gibberish?
No, this is what a group students actually said in the cross cultural simulation, Bafa Bafa, held on Thursday, Nov. 13, in Grubbs Hall. This annual event, organized by Harriet Bachner, associate professor of psychology and counseling, and her co-leader, Grant Moss, tries to help students understand the difficulties of being in a different culture.
“Dr. Bachner and I believe strongly that this experience teaches students about feelings that one has about their own culture and other cultures, particularly when one has to attempt to understand the other while in it,” said Moss, associate professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literature.
The participants were divided into two groups, the Alphas and Betas, and each group developed a culture of its own based on instructions. Later, when members of one culture were exposed to the other, they tried to make sense of each other’s idiosyncratic behavior. The struggle to understand each other and to feel accepted gave the participants a glimpse of culture shock.
“After Bafa Bafa, I realized that going to a place that you have never been and having to learn their rules and customs can be very scary,” said Lacy Ivicsics, an Arma resident.
Although it appears as a fun-filled activity, such cross-cultural simulations can often trigger strong emotions. A few years ago, some of the international students who were participating in this event got into an argument.
“I noticed that they had probably felt the same feelings and lived the same experiences personally in their own lives when they arrived in Pittsburg only a short time ago,” said Moss. “The simulation created the same situations and their negativity came out.”
As the members of each group struggled to understand the other culture, Bachner and Moss said they learned a lot, too.
“As the co-leader, I have learned that the participants actually interpret the other culture from their own make-believe lens in less than 15 minutes,” Moss said.
“Imagine, we have spent much more time in our culture than 15 minutes.”
The students said the simulation helped them become more sensitive to individuals from other cultures.
“You are around strangers, and you don’t exactly understand what you’re doing,” said Ivicsics. “It can be quite challenging.”
Ivicsics added that the exercise may even change her behavior.
“I would definitely be friendlier to people from a different culture,” she said. “I would try and help them out as much as I can, as well as try to get to know them.”
The cultural mishaps resulted in some humor as well, said one Beta member, Lauren Woodall, graduate student in clinical mental health counseling.
“The best thing about tonight’s experience has to be one of the Betas mistakenly calling the alphas ‘strippers’ instead of ‘stippers,’ (as they were known),” Woodall said.
- Look of the week
Having a little fun
I never thought I’d pursue a fashion career. However, as I learned more about myself, I felt that fashion was something I was very much interested in and had a sense of creativity for. Not only do I feel I’m great in this field, but I have been complimented on my fashion skills and sense. That is why I’ve decided to pursue a career in fashion merchandising.
My goal is to own my own boutique with my sister, who is studying fashion design. We would like to come out with a clothing line for working single women who are serious about work and enjoy single life. These would include outfits from nicely fitted business attire to casual outing wear to cocktail dresses for evening fun.
I enjoy putting together clothes and outfits for others because I like to help people look great. Of course they already look great, but the clothes and accessories they wear are there to complement them, and I enjoy giving them the compliment they deserve.
For this week’s look, I decided to do a fun interview look with patterns and bright colors. I paired high-waisted dress pants with a hot pink blouse. I added a black and white checkered print suit jacket. This outfit looks fun to me and can be appropriate for an interview or a casual meeting.
When it comes to interview business attire, everyone looks for that plain matching color suit bottom and jacket. However, it’s not that serious and you can definitely play around with it and have some fun with your attire. As long as you look presentable and professional, you can wear almost anything that’s sitting in your closet. It’s how you put it together that makes it presentable and professional.
Each of the looks featured in this article are available in the Career Clothes Closet located on the second floor of Horace Mann. All clothing in the Career Clothes Closet is free to all students. The Look of the Week is brought to you by a partnership between the Office of Career Services, the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Fashion Merchandising program, and the Collegio.
- Lorelei Enseble enchants audience
| Charles A. Ault reporter |
The angelic voices of the Lorelei Ensemble filled McCray Hall Friday, Nov. 14.
The ensemble, founded by director Beth Willer in 2007, is based in Boston and composed of nine women.
Each of the women hails from a different state and along with participating in the ensemble, are actively involved in their solo careers.
The Lorelei Ensemble sung poems from the ancient writings of Tacitus to verses of Emily Dickenson, tuned to American folk songs. The concert was also arranged to mimic a Catholic mass, with a section serving as the Curare, one as the Gloria, one the Credo, and so on.
With the exception of the American folk song “Saro,” featuring PSU’s Raul Munguia, assistant professor in music, on violin, the ensemble performed entirely a cappella.
Munguia says he loved performing with the ensemble.
“It is great to have these kinds of artists here in town but it is even more special to be able to play with them,” he said. “I had to practice on my own first and then we put it together today in one rehearsal only so I had to be prepared for that.”
Students who attended the concert were not disappointed.
“My favorite song was ‘Saro.’ I was literally crying a little bit by the end,” said Macy Gerken, sophomore in vocal music education. “I thought it was amazing, honestly. I’ve always really loved a cappella Americana folk songs and that sort of thing, so it was right up my alley.”
Randalin Ward, freshman in instrumental education, also enjoyed the show.
“I enjoyed the first song. I thought it set the tone for the whole concert,” Ward said.
Sam Ortiz says he loves coming to these concerts.
“They’re amazing,” Ortiz, sophomore in music education, said. “The very last tune was my favorite, it’s still ringing in my ears, it was so beautiful.”
Members of the ensemble were also glad to showcase their talents at Pitt State.
“I absolutely love coming to schools like Pitt State,” said Emily Culler, member. “(McCray) is a beautiful hall, it rivals anything else we’ve sung in. I went to a small liberal arts college, so I really appreciate the atmosphere of the campus. It’s really conducive for music like this and for me in general to be in a small, supportive community where you can know everyone and encourage everyone through your studies, it’s really great.”
Gerken added one reason concerts such as this are so entertaining is that students have the chance to learn about the artists.
“I look forward to coming to performances like this in the future,” she said.
The next concert in the Pittsburg State University Solo and Chamber Series will be baritone Sidney Outlaw on Jan. 30.
- If you’ve got it, flaunt it
| Valli Sridharan reporter |
More than 100 students cheered for their peers as six teams participated in “Gorillas Got Talent” on Tuesday, Nov.18, in Weede Stadium.
The annual event raises money for the Make A Wish Foundation, an organization that grants wishes to children with terminal illness.
“The performances were outstanding and this is a great way to raise money,” said Jacob Stevenson, senior in education.
The six participating teams that performed were softball, baseball, volleyball, women’s track and football.
The athletes practiced for several hours to create their dances and many say they were motivated to show their talent for a good cause.
“Showing that the track team does have a presence at this school and is involved in the community is what kept me motivated to practice for the Gorillas Got Talent,” said Heather Glenn, sophomore in nursing and member of the women’s track team.
The presence of students and community members were other incentives for most participants to push themselves.
“The students and community members that came were great,” Glenn said. “They gave us a lot of support to go out there and do something that was a little nerve-wracking for most of us.”
To determine the winning team, points were calculated based on the scores given by judges and the money donated by the audience for each team. The softball team came first, followed by baseball while the women’s track team came third. In total, they managed to collect $2,208, double the target.
Glenn says she was excited to be on a placing team.
“I think it is a great way to raise money,” she said. “The entertainment aspect actually brings more people to donate for Make A Wish.”
There was some disappointment from those on teams that did not win.
“I really wanted to win, winning feels good,” said Eric Brantley, senior in management, a participant from the football team.
But Brantley added that it was more for entertainment and the cause that they participated in the first place.
“More than anything, it was a great cause,” he said. “The crowd participation was fantastic and they showed a lot of support.”
This year’s judges panel consisted of Kaylee Cole from KIX 102.5 Morning KIX with Randy and Kaylee, Phil Scott, Dan Peak, Crawford County Sheriff, and Patty Horgan.
“The baseball was my favorite performance,” said Scott. “They had some pretty good ideas and were very creative. Judging such talented teams is a lot of fun.”
Scott added that the teams were very talented and it was a close call.
“Oh, it was a tough competition and the teams were pretty evenly matched,” he said. “We had to get down to details when giving scores.”
Brantley also says the whole event served as a great learning experience.
“While practicing, I gained a better appreciation for the men and women that are entertainers and dancers for a living,” said Brantley. “It’s not easy work by any means, they just make it look that way.”