The Life and Times of Students Life with Time

Posted in Uncategorized on November 13th, 2018 by Riley

Albert Einstein once said time is irrelevant. Now, over 75 years later, I am beginning to question his credentials. For Einstein could not have gone to college if he believed this to be true, or maybe it’s that German colleges are set up different than American colleges. Either way, for the 21stCentury college student, time is very relevant.

The days are filled with class, work, and homework. However, homework is the only time in the students’ lives that does not have a designated time period. In fact, one may only be able to do homework when they are busy. Does that make sense? It may not, but that is how college life seems to work itself out. In this grand expanse of time, each portion of the day is scheduled out. However, the tasks become so close that eventually all 24 hours of the day are taken up. The only available time to work on said assignments is during the most menial of tasks.

Laundry is the easiest of these menial tasks. Put clothes in. Add soap. Wait one hour, and repeat. This is one task that allows time to complete others that would otherwise mess up the perfectly laid schedules. But laundry is only once a week at best. You can’t read and vacuum, nor can you commute and write a paper, and hopefully none have tried. To sum up, the college student is not only forced to deal with college issues, but the time consumed in menial, everyday tasks. The college life is simply time consuming.

Now, one generally wakes up between an hour or a half hour before class. If the latter is true, the average student does not allow themselves time to eat, which is most often the case. In the professional or “adult” world, people give themselves three times a day to eat. College students eat whatever they can in the time that their schedule has allowed.

The average class is one hour long, however, half the time, they can go up to 90 minutes. This is generally followed by another class ten minutes later. The student has the ability to pick and choose their classes as they wish, but the necessity for some classes is unavoidable, and the ability to make the college change the scheduled class time is nothing but a mere wish that only Freshman still have.

Now the ever growing amount of homework and class schedules cannot be blamed directly on the college. Though it is simpler to believe. The biggest problem lies in the need for balance. Professors have conflicting schedules that must be carefully ironed out. So, morning and afternoon classes are built not only on the Professor’s schedule, but also the need to balance certain classes in specific semesters. In all reality, that seems oddly fair, but one must realize that the Professors have graduated, and then returned to this Hell. The place after Purgatory, but before burnt out Christmas lights. This is where they’ve chosen to return, so can we shift some blame to them? Probably not, but I digress.

As we move on with the day, there is the realization that it’s noon, you just haven’t noticed because you’ve slept half the morning away, whether you’re in class or not. Now you may eat. But it can’t be that simple. Can it? In fact, it’s not. Clubs and organizations use this time to meet. If God is on your side, you have time to run to the cafeteria and grab food to go. In there you will most likely see the College President laughing the lunch hour away. What right does he have to be so relaxed? At least he tries to relate to his students. But if he isn’t losing half his meal while trying to shove the rest in his mouth before darting off to the next activity, will he ever relate?

As the average day progresses, afternoons get weird, and it seems this is where schedules begin to vary. As a member of the Mass Communications Department, I have personally viewed the KMSC DJ schedule. The schedule is picked over by the students as the only time that they are available. You probably aren’t surprised to learn the majority of DJ shifts happen in the afternoon. However, the 95% of student DJs do not take up more than one hour on the air. Because, who has the time?

While some are busy doing extra curriculars such as these, others are now moving forward with their afternoon classes. And, no college student wants to work in the morning, and very few do so during the week. So, in some cases, the remainder of the afternoon is spent working. Now, because Sioux City effectively closes down at 10:00 P.M, students will often work from late afternoon until 9:00 or 10:00 at night.

“I have both an on campus job and an off campus job,” says Morningside Senior Madison Schueth. “Most weeks I work ten hours or more, but this week I am working around twenty.”

This struggle is real for many Morningside students. What’s more deceiving is the work schedule itself. Living on campus, and hitting every red light, it could take as long as twenty minutes to get to the main shopping district of Sioux City. Now, combining the time it takes for a student to walk from their residence to their car could take five to ten minutes. This can be said from the movement from car to business. If we double this, as one does follow the same path home as they did earlier in the evening, we would get nearly an hour of time wasted in commute.

When they arrive at their homes or dorms, they are immediately confronted with the realization of homework. The college professor will usually demand twenty pages be read by the next class period. This isn’t unreasonable. However, twenty pages times four classes in two days equals ridiculous. Madison, for example, works on a Sunday night. She is also a double major in Psychology and Theatre. That being said, when she gets home, she is confronted with a mountain of homework. When we spoke on a Monday night, she had “legitimately, not slept” in nearly 36 hours.

The average student does not have these issues, however, many students are double majored, or have minors. This runs the possibility of having five, or God forbid, six, classes in a semester. There is also a high amount of students that are involved in sports. Sporting events and practices then take up two to four hours of the students’ day.

Now, the grand majority students are in clubs. This includes athletes, the simpletons with only a single major and minor, or emphasis, and the vast amount of students with double majors Even these people find time to be in two or three different campus organizations. Madison Schueth, is the Vice President of both Alpha Psi Omega and Alpha Omicron Pi. Others, have even more organizations to deal with.

“I spend five hours with one group, three and a half hours with another group, and another two hours for a third group,” comments Morningside Senior Brock Bourek. Brock is a double major in Theatre and Art Administration with a minor in Religious Studies. He participates in Alpha Si Omega, Phi Mu Alpha, Sinfonia, and College Choir. Not only is he a part of these groups, and a couple more, but he is an officer in nearly each organization. Did I mention that he works as well?  This is truly getting exhausting at this point.

When the student, unless you are like Madison, sleeps they must begin with a ritual. This is the time before you finally crawl into bed and close your eyes. This time is used to decompress from the day, for, if you do not, you may spend hours tossing and turning. Now, if you are one of those people who can fall asleep right when your head hits the pillow, please know that you are hated.

Finally, there is the weekend. But, wait… there’s more. Saturday is one of two days where the average college student has no classes to attend. However, this is the day of the weekend that the largest number of businesses are open. So, the chances are high that you will work this day away because you need to pay the college to take all of your time. Consider Madison and Brock in this category as well.

Saturday night is the night to make things happen. You can’t do homework now, not when you are at the only time in this God forsaken week that you don’t have to wake up before the sun. I’m not suggesting throwing party, though they could be fun, but one must do something out of the everyday world to keep their sanity. So, Saturday night is usually spent in front of a TV.

Finally, it is Sunday. This day is spent on homework, unless of course you have light classes or did your homework on Saturday night (Please note that you too, are hated). And so the day drifts by, under the stress of homework, or more likely, the anxiety of procrastination. Then, on Sunday night, you finally see your bed. Let all the stress drift away for eight more hours. First of course there is the terrible realization that you have no social life because of the time sucking vortex that is the college life. Then there is the overwhelming fear of what lies ahead.

Then there is calm. You realize that you do have friends and a social life, because they are just as exhausted as you. So, you can all be exhausted together. And of course there is the realization that this time consuming monstrosity will lead you to an, overall, happy and successful life. So, you begin to embrace the week to come, for it will be like the week that passed, which you finished with flying colors.

With the fear disappearing, you surrender to the sweet release of sleep. But before you finally nod off, you go over what tomorrow will be, and what you should wear to combat the ever-changing Iowa weather. And you open your eyes in the realization that you still need to do laundry. Fuck.

 

 

My America

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8th, 2018 by Riley

The American Flag stands in its consistent position of half mast.

The hardly touched plains of Nebraska.

The home of Capitalist America.

Culture Story Draft

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1st, 2018 by Riley

Albert Einstein once said that time is irrelevant. Now, over 75 years later, I am beginning to question his credentials. For Einstein could not have been a collegiate if he believed this to be true, or maybe it’s that German colleges are set up different than American colleges. Either way, for the 21stCentury college student, time is very relevant.

Our days are filled with class, work, and homework. Though, because we are not given a specific time for homework, it seems that the only time that I have to work on it, is when I’m busy. Does that make sense? It may not, but that is how college life seems to work itself out. In this grand expanse of time, we schedule each portion of the day. However, the tasks become so close that eventually all 24 hours of the day are taken up. The only time we have to work on some assignments is while we’re waiting for other tasks to near their completion.

Laundry is the easiest of the time consuming tasks. Put clothes in. Add soap. Wait one hour, and repeat. This is one task that allows us time to complete others that would otherwise mess up our perfectly laid schedules. But laundry is only once a week at best. You can’t read and vacuum, nor can you commute and write a paper, and hopefully none have tried. To sum up, the college student is not only forced to deal with college issues, but the time consumed in menial, everyday tasks. The college life is simply time consuming.

Now, one generally wakes up between an hour or a half hour before class. If the latter is true, the average student does not allow themselves time to eat, which is most often the case. In the professional or “adult” world, people give themselves three times a day to eat. College students eat whatever they can in the time that their schedule has allowed.

The average class is one hour long, however, half the time, they can go up to 90 minutes. This is generally followed by another class ten minutes later. The student has the ability to pick and choose their classes as they wish, but the necessity for some classes is unavoidable, and the ability to make the college change the scheduled class time is nothing but a mere wish that only Freshman still have.

Before you know it it’s noon, you just haven’t noticed because you’ve slept half the morning away, whether you’re in class or not. Now you may eat. But it can’t be that simple. Can it? In fact, it’s not. Clubs and organizations use this time to meet. If God is on your side, you have time to run to the cafeteria and grab food to go. In there you will most likely see the College President laughing the lunch hour away. What right does he have to be so relaxed? At least he tries to be one of us. But if he isn’t losing half his meal while trying to shove the rest in his mouth before darting off to the next activity, can he ever truly be one of us?

In my case, I have a radio show that takes up the one o’clock hour. I then must drive home and change before going to work at four. When I am done at eight, I must find time to eat. I’m lucky if the average day “ends” before 9:00 P.M. And even after it “ends” I still need to do homework. That’s two classes a day, both of which seem to think that theirs is the only class I must be taking, so I must have time to read twenty-five pages, and write a three-page essay (Three pages… yea, right!).

Following all this, I need to go to bed to be sharp for the next morning. But one must decompress before going to bed, otherwise they will toss and turn for hours on end. If this is not you, however, please know that you are hated.

I consider myself to be the “average” college student. But some of you may be thinking that I am blowing this out of proportion. You are wrong. I imagine the average college student has even more to deal with. Sometimes I feel like I am the only person at Morningside College that does not have a double major or a minor. I have a emphasis and a cluster, that should be enough for you people! But I digress.

Many other students are double majored, or do have minors. This runs the possibility of having five, or God forbid, six, classes in a semester. There is also a high amount of students that are involved in sports. Sporting events and practices then take up two to four hours of the students’ day.

Now, the grand majority students are in clubs. This includes athletes, the simpletons like me, with only a single major, and the vast amount of students with double majors and minors. Even these people find time to be in two or three different campus organizations. Some of these people, myself included, are even the leaders of groups. We are now forced to work our schedules around that of the rest of the people in the group. This is truly getting exhausting at this point.

Finally, there is the weekend. But, wait… there’s more. Saturday is one of two days where the average college student has no classes to attend. However, this is the day of the weekend that the largest number of businesses are open. So, the chances are high that you will work this day away because you need to pay the college to all your time.

Saturday night is the night to make things happen. You can’t do homework now, not when you are at the only time in this God forsaken week that you don’t have to wake up before the sun. I’m not suggesting party, though they could be fun, but one must do something out of the everyday world to keep their sanity. So, Saturday is usually spent in front of a TV.

Finally, it is Sunday. This day is spent on homework, unless of course you have light classes or did your homework on Saturday night (Please note that you too, are hated). And so the day drifts by, under the stress of homework, or more likely, the anxiety of procrastination. Then, on Sunday night, you finally see your bed. Let all the stress drift away for eight more hours. First of course there is the terrible realization that you have no social life because of the time sucking vortex that is the college life. Then there is the overwhelming fear about what lies ahead.

Then there is calm. You realize that you do have friends and a social life, they are just as exhausted as you. So, you can all be exhausted together. And of course there is the realization that this time consuming monstrosity will lead you to an, overall, happy and successful life. Then you begin to embrace the week to come, for it will be like the week that passed, which you finished with flying colors.With the fear disappearing, you surrender to the sweet release of sleep.

But before you finally nod off, you go over what tomorrow will be, and what you should wear to combat the ever-changing Iowa weather. And you open your eyes in the realization that you need to do laundry. Fuck.

My Morningside

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30th, 2018 by Riley

Students follow the lead of Professor on a cold Iowa morning.

Don’t Turn Away from ‘The Dark’

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16th, 2018 by Riley

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a very compelling book by Michelle McNamara. Told through real life stories from victims and their families, the novel, tell the stories of victims of the Golden State Killer, who robbed, raped and murdered over 120 families throughout California from the mid-1970’s through the 1980’s. We are now four months into the modern investigation where the suspected serial murder and rapist is behind bars. Looking back over the events of the past few years, many media pundits, as well as actual investigators, point to this book for reopening interest into the cold case.

The book begins well enough, with a normal man, Drew, whose usual life is forever changed by the death of his sister-in-law, Manuela. The story returns to the days and years before, exploring the lives of the family, Manuela being a introverted business woman who marries Drew’s quiet, older brother, David. There is discussion of their closeness, as well as the things that divide them. Then in intricate detail. McNamara unravels the tale of the night Manuela was murdered. How David found his way to being hospitalized just before night in question. And how all the changes in Manuela’s normal life, though some very small, still ended with the her being sexually assaulted, and then killed. Finally, Drew must grapple with the idea his sister-in-law may have been killed by her own husband, his brother. However, not much is put into this theory, as one crime scene investigator, Jim White, had seen this sort of scene once before. He knows that the mess that lays before him is the work of another man, who, in the future, will be known as The Golden State Killer. All of this, happening in the first ten pages.

McNamara begins each “chapter,” each attack, each story, the same way. Each begins with someone from the outside – a family member, friend, or neighbor – living out their normal lives, before falling upon the crime scene. Each story consists of interviews from survivors and those close to the victims. This weaves an intricate picture. The reader feels that these are real people, and in a few short pages, they may even become sympathetic with the subject of the story.

She tells details about the deeper personal lives of the victims, to make them human, as compared to statistics that one may see them as, had they been looking online. From there, the interviews dive deep enough to tell the colors of the wall and doors, and the daily routines that were horrifically disturbed. There is a true feeling of atmosphere to each situation. The reader feels as if they are in the home of one of the victims from the 1970’s or 80’s while having the knowledge of the impending doom, with no way to warn the subject.

Another piece of the process are the interviews with crime scene investigators and detectives. This is how McNamara puts together details from scene to scene. A lot of evidence can be found in the police report, but many little details, such as: footprint size, or the order in which actions are done, or even the objects taken and used as weapons – are discovered through interviews with actual investigators from the time. They are used as a common thread for the reader to follow from story to story.

It is with this thread that McNamara forms the structure of her novel. The events are not told in chronological order, as is the case with most novels of this type. They are told off of the back of some of the information discovered in the previous “chapter”. This creates the feeling of a detective, seeing what the author wants us to see, and identifying the little fallacies and intricacies of our criminal, that before went unnoticed.

McNamara’s goal is to act as a makeshift detective. She compiles evidence and interviews from dozens of victims, their families, and authorities to make the book as vivid as possible. But, this is also a hint as to what she actually trying to accomplish. Only by going through these police files and interviews, and with some careful examination, McNamara is able to she is able spot the consistencies between attacks. She went to police departments and crime scenes in multiple counties, each out of the others’ jurisdiction, to find connections that authorities of yesteryear never bothered follow up or examine. All of this, is done as a way for modern authorities, and avid readers, to understand the intricacies that were overlooked when this crime spree was first investigated.

Part Two consists of this careful examination. The stories have been filtered out to the common threads. The officers pursue the suspect. Each one is more likely than the last, but none are the suspect in question. However, as the story moves to Part Three, we are met with the realization that Michelle McNamara has passed away, herself. The victim of an accidental cocktail of prescription pills. The only piece of herself she truly leaves in the final third of the book is her “Letter to an Old Man,” pleading with him to finally show his face, and quit hiding behind his own doors and fences. The final section is summed by those that she worked closest with. This is the most analytical, or uninteresting part, as the stories have disappeared. These people are not writers, and seek only to triangulate the last possible suspect. They also leave questions open, in the hopes that someone tries to answer them, and complete the book that Michelle McNamara could not finish… which they have.

Whether or not Michelle McNamara revealed who The Golden State Killer was within her words, I won’t say. I will say, however, that this book is worth reading. The entire book is worth reading, if only to find out if the characters from the first section get their due justice. Speaking specifically of myself, this is the area that was the most fascinating to read, and it was worth the price of purchase alone. Although, many questions have been answered, and some may emerge in the coming months or years, I highly recommend finding this book online or on the shelves.

You’re Doing Great, Sweetie – Final

Posted in Uncategorized on October 16th, 2018 by Riley

Conquering a fear is one thing. Admitting you’re good at something, is another element entirely. History’s “great people” may have found a way to persevere alone, but maybe, like the rest of us, they relied on the people closest to them.

Mildly upset. My stomach was only mildly upset. However, I was going to the dark place in my mind. It’s that place that we all have, where we focus too hard on a particular aspect, and all the things that could go wrong suddenly go through your head. All the insecurities that once whispered, now seem to run, screaming, through your brain. As I have learned to do over the years, I locked them in a place inside, one sure to burst one day, several years down the line, but I digress. I opened my eyes, and lifted my head, and re-entered the safe zone.

This safe area was the security of the people around me. I wouldn’t have guessed it three weeks earlier, but these strangers were now my friends. It’s funny how that can happen after seeing each other every night for an entire month.

Two Rooms was the latest student produced play on the Morningside College campus. There was only one faculty advisor overseeing the production, and the writer was the only outside source. Everyone else – the director, the production team, and the actors – was a student at Morningside College. It created an “us against the world” mindset, as the young students prepared an intense play, almost entirely on our own merit, with only each other to rely on.

“There is something about that family aspect,” Theater Professor Taylor Clemens said. For each play that the college produces, Clemens is the director, and in charge of casting. However, in this production, Clemens only sits back and watches. “There is a relatively small casting pool on campus, so it’s usually the same people in each production. But, you’re always building each other up to succeed.”

Held on campus in the Leavitt Art Gallery, the space was chosen for a more intimate and intense setting for the audience. The only more intimate space in the building was the room behind the gallery, a broom closet for storing artwork. But in August of 2018, this room, with valuable pieces of art, would become the backstage area for the actors awaiting their time on the stage.

The walls around me were completely white and unappealing, a stark cry from the paintings that lay against them. I only believed this to be true. For three weeks we stared at the back of their frames because we were told not to touch them. I suppose that is a small price to pay for college students to be allowed to stage an entire play in an art gallery. Taylor Clemens told us the total worth was somewhere in the “millions.” I didn’t believe him.

That being the rule, however, the art was untouchable. It was stacked neatly against the wall, and all we had were metal folding chairs (once again, folding chairs in a room with million dollar paintings further pushed the “us against the world” feeling). As I began to hear the people filling in the seats outside, my mildly upset stomach became more uneasy. I seemed to be the only one. Everyone else was too busy with their own chaos.

“Five minutes to places,” Grady would say, relaying the message from Jason, the stage manager on the other end of the headset. “Thank you, places,” we would all respond. At least once a night, one of us would respond, “Fuck you, places!” This of course led to laughter – under our breath – as the audience was not allowed to know about the turmoil backstage.

Eric and Khiana, two of my fellow cast mates, would sit silently on their phones. Every once in a while Eric would hold in his own loud laughter, and Khiana would give a sarcastic smile toward the current jokester. There was always a jokester, which was necessary in the situation, as tension was always rising and falling. Some people will always try harder than others. Some people were going through this experience for the first time. Some people were hiding issues that had happened in their personal life. And some people were still getting over the “constructive criticism” from the night before. Finally, we had all come to the most nerve racking part of the entire production, opening night. Now, more than ever, it was important to have a jokester.

In the corner, Madison was shoving a beard on to Grant, cursing about how the hair refused to stay on his perfectly clean cut face. In itself, this was its own comic relief. Behind their chaos was a leather chair, one coveted by each of the cast members. Grady would say, it’s “the comfiest chair he had ever sat in.” He even contemplated taking it for himself, and I think he was only half joking. All this happened before we learned that the comfy leather chair was actually a piece of art, valued at $6,000! Now, Madison and Grant stood with makeup, fake hair, and glue, not two feet away from the “art.”

“You pretty much know everyone. So you can get people, within that small pool, that you know will work well together. So, as a director you foster that relationship, as much as you can,” Clemens commented. “However, if there are people that don’t get along…” He continues, sitting back in his chair with a smirk, “a director can use that to their advantage as well!”

Though I now counted them all as my friends, Madison had been my friend long before I was cast in Two Rooms. She, herself, had felt a lot of stress over the past month, having to pick the costumes for each character, as well as memorizing her own role. But there was no doubt that she was our leader. She had heard all our grievances, as well as Brock’s, who was our Director, as well as her fiancé. She did this while rarely losing her temper. “You’re doing great, Sweetie,” she would say to the cast. Although, sometimes as a sarcastic way to lighten the mood, she would also say it to keep our spirits up.

I remembered this vote of confidence as the lights went down. She admired her work on Grant before pulling her hair back into a pony tail and walking to the curtain. Through all the immense stress that she once had. I found myself comparing her nervousness from just a week earlier, to the stone cold focus on her face at this moment, and wished I could have the same.

As she left, the role of leader turned to Grady, who had removed his headset and got on his phone, though he always kept an ear on the stage, so as not to miss his cue. He always had an ability to lighten the mood, maybe it’s because his role was the smallest. His reactions to the comic banter backstage could make a joke ten times as funny, while the tension would drop by half.

It was at this moment that I began to realize the funny reactions that soothed me were from jokes that had made. In fact, most everyone laughed at my jokes, or general clumsiness, which was not always purposeful. The jokes arrived at their best when I noticed others to be under an intense amount of nervousness or stress.

I tried to be what I perceived a leader to be. Talk to people, but mostly listen. Most people don’t want solutions to their problems, they would just like you to listen to them. As the drama of other people’s lives, strangers at the time, was unfolding around me, I took in their problems. I listened and quickly forgot about them. Then, when the moment was right, I would direct myself towards them. Finally, through a misstep, or sly comment out the side of my mouth, I would get them to laugh. There always is a refreshing moment of calmness after a successful attempt at easing someone else’s stress.

For the entire month of August, stress mounted on nearly all of them as their other extra-curriculars began, along with the school year. My own stress had been minimal. I went to work, then showed up at night and did what I do best, act. As their friend, I knowingly, or unknowingly, was helping them ease themselves into this night from the moment tension rose on the first day of rehearsal. However, it was now I who needed calming.

“When you put these people together, and you create that family dynamic,” Clemens stated, “it creates a better production that the cast can ‘take ownership’ of.”

Checking on my props for my first scene, I felt as though an ocean was throwing my stomach up and down. However, I could not focus on this, as I was too distracted by my own heartbeat. I must have been breathing hard as well because Khiana, the quiet one, was now looking at me. “You’re gonna do fine,” she said, smiling. I was not aware of my obviously loud nervous habits, but before I could ask her how she knew I was systematically falling apart, I heard the lines leading up to my entrance.

As I headed for the curtain, I took one final look in the mirror. I didn’t want to move. I realized that I had never actually acted in front of an audience, no one that mattered anyway.

I had surrounded myself with film and acting for 21 years. I believed I was good at acting, but I started to wonder whether or not I was just good at reciting movie lines.

As I heard my cue, I was then overcome by a sense of duty, to finish what I started. This carried me through the curtain.

It was somewhere in the the middle of my entrance that I remembered that I was the only one without acting experience. This had been a source of worry from the beginning of rehearsals, but now, it was assuring. We had helped each other along for so long that I realized, those with experience would help me if I got on that stage and fell, figuratively… or literally. At the moment I had that realization, the lights were on me.

“You have to remember; this is an institution where we educate.” Clemens said to me in Morningside’s Klinger-Neal Theatre. “We hope that we can all learn something from each production, and carry it in to the next one. But, if you like the people around you, it will certainly make the experience easier.”

I couldn’t have known then that the fear would quell each night to a conquerable nervousness. I also couldn’t have guessed that I would be nominated for an Irene Ryan Acting Award. I would eventually realize that this was, in fact, something I was good at. What I did know then, however, was that it was the people surrounding me that helped me get up on the stage, as I hope I helped them through rehearsals. So, hold to what you’re good at. If you find yourself unsure of your abilities, ask the people around you for help. They should point you in the right direction. And, if you find yourself in the dark, and in need of focus, remember, “you’re doing great Sweetie.”

Big Problems with “Little China”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8th, 2018 by Riley

Ridiculous, one could say Big Trouble in Little China is ridiculous. The 1986 film is littered with problems that threaten to take away from it’s message. The biggest problem is not the editing, writing, directing, or acting. These things all seem sub-par, or maybe they are best parts from every genre. However, in this particular film, the mixture of all these elements creates confusion.

The scenes are too long for the dialogue within them. It is almost as if the production team tried too desperately to keep the film under 100 minutes. In fact, coming in at 99 minutes, the film seems to go too fast. The dialogue is delivered well by the actors; however, the speed seems as if each line is delivered on top of the next. It’s as if every intimate scene is delivered with the speed of an adrenaline filled fight.

Moreover, the editing feels like a dream. The most notable way to know that one is in a dream is the realization that you have no idea how you got from one point to another. Establishing shots are the benchmark of film. They establish the scene and what is to precede the action that follows. There are none of these in Big Trouble in Little China. The lack of these shots can create a speed that is confusing for the audience. By the time anyone realizes what exactly is happening, or the point of the scene itself, it is nearly over.

Beginning with an investigation into previous events, the opening scene sets up the situation for the action that follows. Back tracking to an earlier day, Jack Burton, played by Kurt Russell, is a truck driver: successful or not, drunk or not, general slacker or not. None of this is explored. The film cuts to Burton in a card game against an old friend, Wang Chi, played by Dennis Dun. Burton wins’ thousands of dollars from Dun, but is untrusting of his old friend’s intentions. He begrudgingly accompanies Wang to the airport, where the latter is to meet with the girl of his dreams. There the duo encounters a fast talking lawyer, Gracie Law, played by Kim Catrall, who is at times too fast-talking and too naïve for the character she portrays. As Wang’s dream girl is kidnapped by a Chinese gang, the two heroes follow the violent criminals into the center of Little China, San Francisco. It is here that Burton encounters rival gang members, and an evil Sorcerer, who is such because we are told so. The story soon progresses to Burton finding out that his friends know more than they let on, and he may be in way over his head.

While none of the secondary characters are explored, the audience must come to the realization that Russell’s Jack Burton is one of them. He is the comedy delivering straight man, who is unwilling to believe the ridiculousness he has been thrust in to. Russell knows, as the audience does, that the film, and its plot, is over the top, yet he buys into it, and plays the role perfectly.

Loosely, held together by the antagonist’s affinity for green eyed girls, the purpose for the film itself is not revealed until the seconds following the climatic fight. Although satisfying for the audience, one must question why the film’s director, John Carpenter, would wait so long to reveal crucial reasons as to why the audience must hate the main villain.

The film campy. It is ridiculous, and it knows exactly what it is. It intends to break all the normal tropes and characteristics of action and comedies films. The combination of them both is like Indiana Jones on steroids. At times, the film portrays the fight of Rambowith the slapstick ridiculousness of Airplane.

At all times, fantasy, action, adventure, and comedy, the central message, to challenge conventional tropes, is nearly lost. The loosely held together plot could be well extended to include deeper exposition, more elaborate fight sequences, and a variety of humor. And for God’s sake, establish what is happening or where we are in Little China! Although, to be different was the goal, Carpenter would have been well advised to keep the well beaten path in sight, even if he refused to walk along it.

If you wish to find this film, you may have to look hard. You’ll rarely find it on cable or network television, and the film is also a no show on Netflix. The best place to find a quick viewing is on Amazon, which is very fitting. The online marketplace is filled with everything, as is this movie, jammed packed with a little bit of everything.

Despite flawed production elements, this is a film worth exploring. In fact, after a close initial viewing, it may fit well as background noise during the average rainy day. It is a film worth viewing more than once, however, one must actually watch the events depicted to actually get what the artists are intending; a campy action film, with one of the best “one-liner” delivering actors of the time.

Personal Narrative Draft – You’re Doing Great Sweetie

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4th, 2018 by Riley

Conquering a fear is one thing. Admitting your good at something, is another element entirely. History’s “great people” may have found a way to persevere alone, but maybe, like the rest of us, they relied on the people closest to them.

Mildly upset. My stomach was only mildly upset. However, I was going to the dark place in my mind. It’s that place that we all have, where we focus too hard on a particular aspect, and all the things that could go wrong suddenly go through your head. All the insecurities that once whispered, now seem to run screaming through your brain. As, I have learned to do over the years, I locked them in a place inside, one sure to burst one day, several years down the line, but I digress. I opened my eyes, and lifted my head, and reentered the safety of my friends.

I wouldn’t have guessed it three weeks earlier, but these strangers were now my friends. It’s funny how that can happen after seeing each other every night for an entire month.

The walls around me were completely white and unappealing, a stark cry from the paintings that lay against them. I only believed this to be true. For three weeks we stared at their frames because we were told not to touch them. I suppose that is a small price to pay for college students to be allowed to stage an entire play in an art gallery. Our adviser Taylor Clemens would tell us that the total worth was somewhere in the “millions.” Though I didn’t believe him.

That being the belief however, the art was untouchable. It was stacked neatly against the wall, and all we had were metal folding chairs. As I began to hear the people filling in the seats outside, my mildly upset stomach became more uneasy. I seemed to be the only one. Everyone else was to busy with their own chaos.

“Five minutes to places,” Grady would say, relaying the message from Jason, the stage manager, on the other end of the headset. “Thank you, places,” we would all respond. At least once a night, one of us would respond, “Fuck you, places!” This of course led to laughter – under our breath, as the audience was not allowed to know about the turmoil backstage.

Eric and Khiana, two of my fellow cast mates, would sit silently on their phones. Every once, in a while Eric would hold in his own loud laughter, and Khiana would give a sarcastic smile toward the current jokester. In the corner, Madison was shoving a beard on to Grant, cursing about how the hair refused to stay on his perfectly clean cut face.

In itself, this was its own comic relief. Behind their chaos was a leather chair, one coveted by each of the cast members. Grady would say, it’s “the comfiest chair he had ever sat in.” He even contemplated taking it for himself, and I think he was only half joking. All this happened before we learned that the comfy leather chair was actually a piece of art, valued at $6,000! Now, Madison and Grant stood with makeup, fake hair, and glue, not two feet away from the “art.”

Though, I now counted them all as my friends, Madison had been my friend long before I was cast in Two Rooms.She, herself, had felt a lot of stress over the past month, having to pick the costumes for each character, as well as memorizing her own role. But there was no doubt that she was our leader. “You’re doing great, Sweetie,” she would say to the cast. Although, sometimes as a sarcastic way to lighten the mood, she would also say it to keep our spirits up.

I remembered this vote of confidence as the lights went down. She then admired her work on Grant before pulling her hair back into a pony tail and walking to the curtain. She was the first character to emerge. And, through all the immense stress that she once had. I found myself comparing her nervousness from a week earlier, to the stone cold focus on her face at this moment, and wished I could have the same.

As she left, the role of leader turned to Grady, who had removed his headset and got on his phone, though he always kept an ear on the stage, so as not to miss his cue. He always had an ability to lighten the mood, maybe it’s because his role was the smallest. His reactions to the comic banter backstage could make a joke ten times as funny, while the tension would drop by half.

It was at this moment that I began to realize the funny reactions that soothed me were from jokes that I had made. In fact, most everyone laughed at my jokes, or general clumsiness, which was not always purposeful. The jokes arrived at their best when I noticed others to be under an intense amount of nervousness or stress. For the entire month of August, stress mounted on nearly all of them as their other extra-curriculars began, along with the school year. My own stress had been minimal, I went to work, then showed up at night and did what I do best, act. As their friend, I knowingly, or unknowingly, was helping them ease themselves into this night from the moment tension rose on the first day of rehearsal. However, it was now I who needed calming.

Checking on my props for my first scene, I felt as though an ocean was throwing my innards up and down throughout my stomach. However, I could not focus on this, as I was to distracted by my own heartbeat. I must have been breathing hard as well because Khiana, the quiet one, was now looking at me. “You’re gonna do fine,” she said, smiling. I was not aware of my obviously loud nervous habits, but before I could ask her how she knew I was systematically falling apart, I heard the lines leading up to my entrance.

As I headed for the curtain, I took one final look in the mirror. I didn’t want to move. I realized that I had never actually acted in front of an audience, no one that mattered anyway.

I had surrounded myself with film and acting for 21 years. I believed I was good at acting, but I started to wonder whether or not I was just good at reciting movie lines.

As I heard my cue, I was then overcome by a sense of duty, to finish what I started. This carried me through the curtain.

It was somewhere in the the middle of my entrance that I remembered that I was the only one without acting experience. This had been a source of worry from the beginning of rehearsals, but now, it was assuring. We had helped each other along for so long that I realized, those with experience would help me along if I got on that stage and fell, figuratively… or literally. At the moment I had that realization, the lights were on me.

I couldn’t have known then that the fear would quell each night to a conquerable nervousness. I also couldn’t have guessed that I would be nominated for an Irene Ryan Acting Award. I would eventually realize that this was, in fact, something I was good at. What I did know then, however, was that it was the people surrounding me that helped me get up on the stage, as I hope I helped them through rehearsals. So, hold to what you’re good at. If you find yourself unsure of your abilities, ask the people around you for help. They should point you in the right direction. And, if you find yourself in the dark, and in need of focus, remember, “you’re doing great Sweetie.”

Anecdote: Courage

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25th, 2018 by Riley

To be courageous is to do something, even though you are afraid of it. When I was working with the Service Advisor at Rick Collins Toyota on a Saturday, I had to exhibit this trait. The Service Advisor was a girl, and I am not a large man, to say the least. However, we found ourselves dealing with a person that was not supposed to be in the Service Department. He was older and unkempt. We could not tell, as he had his back to us, but he seemed predatory as he paced back and forth through the department. Arriving at the realization that he was not the owner of any car that we were looking at today, we decided that someone must go and see what this gentlemen needed. We did the right thing, we called a man. However, the man in the Parts Department did not answer. So, the Service Advisor and I stood wearily at door. It was here that I came to an unfortunate realization, I am a man.

It became my job to muster up the courage to make sure this gentlemen got the attention he needed. I could have let her go talk to him, as it could be her job, but if he were crazy I couldn’t very well let her deal with him. So, I buffed out my chest and threw the door open and marched out to the Service Department, and gently said, “Can I help you today, Sir?”

He turned and had a friendly face. He said he was watching the cars and waiting for his van to finish. As it turns out, he was with one of the car owners. He had ridden with him and went to the Service Department while his companion spoke to us. In hindsight, it’s not the greatest showing of bravery or courage, but I didn’t know that.

Ignorance is Bliss, or Misery

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24th, 2018 by Riley

A woman, middle aged, sat on the cold floor. She was struggling to remain alert while every breath she took came back shorter than the last.

She could barely comprehend her surroundings, though nothing more than the typical commercial bathroom with cliché tile, a sink, and a toilet. The latter would of course be an obvious choice to sit, however she sat on the floor with sweat quickly and heavily making its way through her very carefully planned business suit. She then laid down, with her last conscious sight being loved ones poorly silhouetted by a dim ceiling light. She used every ounce of her strength finally admit that she needed help.

Two and a half years later, a young girl lies in tears on her fiancé’s lap. Three days of increasing pain has left her nearly immobilized in the middle of the night. Her pain is coming from her head, but it is not your normal pain. It does not come from the neck where a nerve may be pinched. Nor is it from the brain, where recent back to school stress could build up into a migraine. The pain comes from her ear, and feels as if something is ripping her eardrum from the inner ear itself. She doesn’t know it yet, but that’s exactly what happened.

These two women have no relation. They were born in different areas of the country, over a quarter of a century apart. They have no inkling the other person exists, nor are their illnesses similar in any way, shape or form. However, their pain comes from the same source. Not the brain, or the heart, or the central nervous system, but genetics; evolution to be exact. Humanity is an evolved species. Science has proven that women reach maturity sooner than men. However, it is also becoming known that women are tougher than men. And while this may seem cause for celebration, it is actually to their detriment.

“I just went to the doctor today, after four days,” the girl says, “and I feel terrible.” As it happens, the young girl did in fact have a perforated ear drum. It is hard to sympathize with a perforated ear drum, as less than 1% of people in the U.S are plagued by it every year. This is much less common, and much more painful than the common cold, however, males are likely to visit the nurse or the physician within a couple days of their initial symptoms of the flu or the common cold.

Women are built for such pain. They are built to bare children, therefore, their bodies have evolved to handle the pain. Although it could be argued that men ignore the issues women face, the need for medical assistance is a problem they must personally realize. Men are not more susceptible to illness, however, they are not built to handle sickness or injury as women are.

“Women know their bodies more,” says Morningside Nurse Practitioner Lexi Kohn, “they are more proactive with their illnesses.” Morningside sub-nurse Paula Guntren adds, “men are more unsure of their symptoms, so they come to get checked.” Both nurses add that while they see an equal balance of men and women, their visits from women are different. Their illnesses may be more severe or they have injuries that need to be tended to.

A perforated ear drum usually follows and ear infection. This is a time where people experience both pain and sickness. Here, most men would find their way to the doctor to be treated. The college girl did not do this. Her perseverance through the illness led to an even worse diagnosis. According to Kohn and Guntren, most Morningsiders tend to receive treatment in the first days of their illnesses. She waited twice as long, and dealt with a much larger issue in return.

Looking at the woman who would eventually die of a heart attack, she had all the normal issues; trouble breathing, perspiration, and arm pain, yet she ignored them as run of the mill ailments. Pain was often related to her lifelong battle with arthritis. Her shortness of breath could be attributed to yet another bout of Pneumonia, which she had battled several times. She had seen these issues before, and conquered them. She had no reason to believe that she was having a heart attack, and her fate would be the opposite of her own brother.

These same symptoms that plagued her brother led him to the hospital, where it was confirmed that he was having a heart attack. Here he was treated, and released to Cardio Rehab. This is where he would come to amazing realization. Upon seeing that the majority of patients were men, he asked the nurse why there were no women. Surely they must have heart attacks as well. The answer was simple, “women ignore their symptoms” the nurse said. “When women have heart attacks, they usually die.”