Monthly Archives: November 2016

Film Review: The Magnificent Seven

Film provides action and characters, but is lacking polish needed for long-term appeal.

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

the-magnificent-seven-international-poster-2

The Magnificent Seven proposes an amazing adventure with unforgettable characters, but is ironically nothing special. A reimagination of the classic 1960 Western of the same name, the film stars an ensemble cast that includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Haley Bennett. The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua and was released on September 23, 2016.

Set in 1879 during the Wild West, a California mining town is terrorized by corrupt industrialist Bartholomew Bogue and his gang of hitmen. Angered after a raid claims her husband, townswoman Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) recruits a band of seven outlaws from varying backgrounds to train the town’s civilians and drive out the bandits.

Among its strengths, The Magnificent Seven manages to provide some decent characterization to its titular seven heroes and makes them all distinct in appearance in and personality. From Denzel Washington’s stone cold bounty hunter to Chris Pratt’s charming trickster Josh, all of the seven are a unique and colorful bunch that are fun to watch together. While this characterization is nothing more than surface level archetypical behavior, the viewer is never confused as to which character is which during the run time.

In addition, while nothing spectacular, the actors do a commendable job in their roles. Denzel Washington comes across as convincing in his role as hardened bounty hunter Sam, while Chris Pratt is simultaneously charming and funny. In addition, Vincent D’Onofrio plays an over the top, but endearing role as wild man Jack Horne, and Byung-hun Lee steals the show through the fighting prowess of Billy. In fact, the actors and their talent assembled together is good enough that one might be convinced they are too good for this sort of film.

If there is one thing the film does right, it’s the action scenes the Magnificent Seven get into. Gunshots rebound and spread all over the place as the characters fight to survive, along with a healthy dose of dirty fighting that allows the fights to switch from gun duels to brawling at will. The added creativity, combined with the steady and focused camera work, make for some entertaining sequences that will catch the audience’s attention.

While these sequences and characters provide a great foundation to build on, The Magnificent Seven does not do much with its interesting characters. Notably, Haley Bennett’s Emma has the potential to have an engaging character arc rivaling the presence of the band of heroes, but largely stays out of focus once they arrive. Considering the Seven are assembled based on her desire for revenge, it seems like the movie forgets why she was even there until the climax requires her to battle the bandits alongside the band of heroes.

Another issue is that aside from the battle with the bandits, the Seven do not face any real hardships or developments that force them to change in character. Rather, they get along rather well with everyone and have no dark secrets or traits that could make them distrust each other or make them consider not helping the mining town. Considering the diverse heroes include an African American bounty hunter, an exiled Comanche warrior, a Mexican bandit and an ex-Confederate soldier to name a few, the film could have gotten more mileage by having the heroes be in conflict with each other over their differing backgrounds.

Finally, the film plays rather too close to traditional Western and action conventions to be its own thing. The plot is little more than the same basic steps followed by the original Magnificent Seven, to the point that some dialogue matches up. On top of it, the film contains the old familiar ride off into the sunset and a rather one-dimensional evil villain too common among formulaic action films.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven isn’t quite as magnificent as its title suggests. It’s too formulaic and suffers narrative problems while simultaneously offering some fun action moments. It’s not terrible, but not outstanding either. It is the type of film that will be good for a single viewing, but not strong enough to engage viewers on repeat viewings.

Letter to the Editor:

I don’t go to your school.  I haven’t been in college since 1971.  I’m a registered Independent who’s so worried about this election that I’m contacting college newspapers in swing states.  I hope you will indulge me.

 

I was a fervent Bernie supporter.  Since he lost, I looked into my options and here is what I discovered:  Of the candidates:  Trump is completely unacceptable.  I decided against Stein because she isn’t on the ballot on all fifty states.  I discovered that Johnson’s platform has great social policies, but plans to eliminate Social Security, Income Taxes, financial and environmental regulations, and privatize education. 

 

I have always had doubts about Clinton, because she has been part of the political machine for so long.  Still, she is competent and has done much for women, families, and children.  And, Bernie got most of his issues into her platform. 

 

I recognize change will be incremental with her, but that seems so much better to me than the sweeping terrible change Trump would bring. To international security, the environment, choice, gay rights, police-community relations, immigration, and everybody but the 1% – to name a few.    

 

I’m all for a principled vote and have concluded that the principled vote for me is to keep Trump out of the White House.  It is too crucial an election for me to not vote or to help Trump by giving my vote to a third party.

 

I’m voting for Clinton.  Please consider voting for her, too.

 

Judy Nogg

Press Release: Gunnison Valley Wellness & Health Guide Emerges from OVPP

The Gunnison Valley Wellness & Health Guide launches online on Oct. 27, offering a comprehensive listing of services to the people of the Gunnison Valley.

The online directory ( www.gvwellnessguide.org) is housed on the Gunnison County Public Libraries’ website. Because the idea of “health” is so broad, and so personal, the team working on the guide realized that it needed to include multiple categories. These categories include physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual well-being, as well as basic needs such as where to find food, exercise/recreation, education, and companionship. “The last category was especially challenging,” said Maryo Gard Ewell, project coordinator.  Ewell is director of programs at the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley (CFGV). “We knew that an important predictor of health is whether people feel they belong in a place.” As a result, the “Get Connected” category identifies support groups and clubs, as well as suggestions on how to locate other places to connect that might not be listed.

The team also recognized the diversity of approaches within each category. There are almost 600 listings in the Guide, the result of months of research and verification.  The Guide had its roots in two initially unrelated projects. The first was the “Health Equity” committee of CFGV in which a group of volunteers studied ways in which equitable access to health care could be achieved.  The second was the One Valley Prosperity Project (OVPP), where people identified “Community Health & Equity” as an action area – with a resource guide as an objective.  The two committees merged, and the Guide is the result.

Pam Montgomery, Executive Director of CFGV, noted that some volunteers, like Emergency Medical Technician Arden Anderson, contributed as many as 200 hours gathering, validating and organizing information.  “It was a total team effort,” she said.  “Healthcare providers, Western students, representatives of the League of Women Voters, nonprofits, government representatives, ministers, County Public Health staff, and so many more helped. It will be updated quarterly.”

Cash and in-kind support for the Guide has been provided by El Pomar, the Gunnison Country Times, the Gunnison Country Shopper, the Gunnison Public Libraries, and The Colorado Trust.  

Social Media Is Winning This Election

Robin Butler / Staff Writer

Social Medias are Heating up Politically in this Election

Every time I go on facebook and scroll through my news feed I am confronted by a plethora of political information. It is that time of year after all, and if I thought a year ago that Facebook and other social medias were heating up politically, I had no idea the firestorm that was to come. 

Facebook in particular has come incredibly far since its introduction to the public in 2005. What was once simply another tool for connecting has become one of the strongest and most influential news outlets on the internet. Its ease of access and abundance of information has created a direct outlet for politicians to reach potential voters whether they are young, old, liberal, conservative, educated, or uneducated. Hundreds of thousands – even millions of people that typically would stay as far away from politics as possible, are forced into the fray with frequent videos and opinion pieces supporting or speaking out against various candidates. 

The king of this platform is the tv celebrity and businessman Donald Trump. From the beginning of his campaign, Trump and his campaign team knew they didn’t have to beat out other republican nominees by much, so establishing a strong online presence was a must. Donald trump currently has 12.6 million followers on twitter and these aren’t necessarily just Trump supporters. In addition to these twitter followers, every news outlet that likes a good story has paid close attention to Donald Trump on Twitter because of just how intense some of his posts seem to be. Put simply, Donald Trump has gained support and followers because he has an entertaining social media presence.  

Hillary Clinton has never reached the level of buzzworthy appearance on social media, but her supporters have taken it upon them to help her out on this front. Ten minutes scrolling through a democrat’s Facebook page will find you countless videos and articles, not necessarily approved by Clinton, but none the less coming to her aid in this election.  

The most fascinating part about the influence of social media in politics is the absolute power of confirmation bias. The way Facebook, for example, works is that every time you click on something a friend or a page you follow shares, it remembers. The more you click, the more it remembers. Facebook’s nature as a business makes sure that every one of its users has the most pleasurable experience as possible while browsing content.

This means that once Facebook has collected enough information on your preferences (not just political) it can start tailoring your news feed to fit those preferences. My facebook feed is drastically different than my girlfriend’s facebook feed even though our political affiliations are moderate left and moderate right respectively. Facebook will inherently only show you information that it thinks you want to see. This means that if you are a Hillary supporter you will almost exclusively be shown pro Hillary and anti Trump posts. If you are a Trump supporter you will see the opposite. 

This format is dangerous. When you have millions upon millions of relatively uneducated potential voters being hit with one opinion piece after another, the value of american politics diminishes. It becomes a war of who can reach technologically tethered voters better and who can send out the most propaganda regardless if the information provided is true or not.  

A popular type of video in the last few months are those that show clips of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton saying something and then a clip of them years earlier saying the opposite. These videos call the targeted candidate liars and cheats, which regardless of being true or false, is agreed upon by viewers. Both videos are reaching the exact same point, except on two completely different candidates. But people never see the other side, they never see that the creators of these videos are aware of their counterparts and are only looking for views. Potential voters take these videos as fact and that drastically affects how they think. Having this kind of false information so heavily advertised limits the effectiveness of truth and reason in the world of modern US politics. 

It is shocking to see how both parties are manipulating the minds of potential voters, and this caused me to adjust how I see things. As a liberal, my Facebook feed was exclusively pro Hillary, anti Trump… until recently. I was so sick of seeing one side of the picture that I actually went to a friends Facebook page (who is a Trump supporter), looked at the conservative facebook pages that he follows, and I followed them. I was tired of getting only one perspective and I did something about it. Now I am able to see a mixed bag of political information that will help me make a more educated choice on Nov. 8. 

Unfortunately not everyone is as open-minded, and many people, if not most, only want to see the information that they agree with. In 2008 Obama’s election was dubbed the “Facebook Election” because of Facebook’s influence on the outcome. Facebook and other social medias such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter have only grown in the last eight years and will likely continue to grow in the coming years. Their heavy influence in United States politics could bring the end of educated, unbiased voting. 

New Faces, Old Traditions

An introduction to the three new head coaches at Western.

Nicholas A. Fischer/ Staff Writer

On the hills of Western’s one hundredth anniversary, in Aug. 2012, 89 years of Western State College of Colorado became Western State Colorado University. The name was not the only thing to change as school administrators implemented a plan to modernize Western in a variety of ways so Western traditions can continue on for another 100 years.

The campus was transformed with the construction of the Mountaineer Field House, Pinnacle Apartments, and the Borick Business Building. Taylor, Kelly, Quigley, Hurst and Crawford Halls all underwent renovations that modernized their classrooms. The campus wasn’t the only thing to change, as the logos and MadJack undertook new looks. Western even added Women’s Soccer, and Swimming and Diving programs to the list of NCAA Division II programs offered.

Western athletics were challenged when the school underwent these changes in 2012 to carry on the 100-year tradition of commitment to academics, community,  and team, while striving to improve every year. This year Western brought in three new head coaches that are committed to these values to fill the vacant spots on the Women’s Basketball, Soccer, and Swimming and Diving team.

Western State Colorado University Women's Soccer team after win on Oct. 16 over #3 ranked Colorado School of Mines. Photo by Nicholas A. Fischer.
Western State Colorado University Women’s Soccer team after win on Oct. 16 over #3 ranked Colorado School of Mines. Photo by Nicholas A. Fischer.

Coach Amy Bell: Soccer

Formed in 2012, Western’s Women’s Soccer program was making slow strides forward each year. Coach Bell took over a team that was ready to be pushed to another level of play and has embraced the challenge this season. The team has embraced her understanding of the game to make improvements in their passing game, while leaning on her encouragement to push through tough overtime games.

The Mountaineers have had their struggles this season, but on Oct. 16, they were able to score a historic victory over the #3 ranked Colorado School of Mines with a goal in double overtime. It was a victory that goalkeeper Katie Simpson-Johnson says was because “coach Bell taught us to handle tough situations by having a fighting mentality to not give up and come out with the win.”

Prior to receiving the head coaching position at Western, Bell spent a year coaching with Colorado Olympic Development Program. This is an experience Katie Simpson-Johnson says “helped coach Bell develop an ability to think deeper and see things differently about the game than other coaches.” Bell was also the head coach of Chowan State where her proudest accomplishment was seeing the team’s GPA go from a 2.0 to a 3.4.  

During her time Chowan, Bell took great pride in developing and working with the local youth soccer program. Bell as well as Western soccer player are looking forward to working with youth programs across the Gunnison Valley. While encouraging her players to achieve academic success and become strong members of the community, she hopes to “continue to develop the program to be more competitive each time out.”

Coach Bell is the second coach of Westerns Women soccer team since its founding in 2012.

Western’s Women’s Soccer team finishes off their season with home games on Oct. 28 and 30 at Gateway Field.

Sydnie Lengyel and Coach Lora Westling going over practice tape. Photo by Nicholas A. Fischer.
Sydnie Lengyel and Coach Lora Westling going over practice tape. Photo by Nicholas A. Fischer.

Coach Lora Westling: Basketball

Coach Westling has become the tenth head coach of Western’s women’s basketball team after being hired after the retirement of Coach Girard at the end of the 2015-16 season. Westling comes to Western after coaching three improving seasons at Illinois College. Westling was an important player on the 2005 Washburn NCAA DII championship team and also holds the school record for three pointers made and games played.

Coach Westling success made her and intriguing candidate to take over the program at Western, but her desire for toughness and accountability on and off the court and in the classroom is what made her a match for the Mountaineers. Westling would like her teams to also become a “force back in the community”. In addition to doing summer camps and kids camps, they will do a shoot around clinic before the first home game.

Even though the season has not started, coach Westling has already made an impact on her players. Senior Sydnie Lengyel says she has “grown more in the last months as player than ever before.” Lengyel also was excited to see the direction the team is going as they are more defensive driven and being challenged in practice to finish better than they start. Lengyel hopes that those efforts in practice will translate into greater success at the end of games this season.

Coach Westling would also like to extend an invitation to all male and female full time student recreational basketball players to come and join a practice team. They would like to put together to practice against the women’s team. If interested contact assistant coach Stephanie Gehlhausen at sgehlhausen@western.edu for more information.

Western’s Women’s Basketball opens their season on Nov. 18 in the CSU-Pueblo classic at Pueblo with their first home game on Nov. 29 in Paul Wright Gym.

Western State Colorado University Swimming and Diving team before practice in the highest collegiate pool in the world. Photo by Nicholas A. Fischer.
Western State Colorado University Swimming and Diving team before practice in the highest collegiate pool in the world. Photo by Nicholas A. Fischer.

Coach Randall Folker: Swimming and Diving

Coach Randall (Randy) Folker has taken the longest journey of the new coaches to reach Western. Not only was he in Hawaii for six of the last seven years, but has spent the last 25 years developing the skills needed to realize his goal of coaching a Division II swimming program. That goal was not to just coach any college program, but to coach the revitalized swimming program at the school that has the highest collegiate pool in the world, Western State Colorado University.

Since the return of the program in 2012, coach Folker had applied the three times the coaching job had opened up. Sophomore All-American swimmer Randi Yarnell says this is an important point because it shows “he really wanted to coach us for some reason, he plans on staying a while, and he was fighting for us. That’s the best kind of coach we can ask for.”

“Small town, small classes and quality athletics at altitude.” Is what coach Folker said put Western on the top of his list. That list consisted of 5 schools, but none were more important to coach Folker, and he said “This has been spot I wanted and when it opened again I jumped on it.”

Coach Folker’s goal is to develop a team of swimmers with high character and potential for academic success that will become excellent people through excellent swimming. One of the swimmers that already embodies this goal is 200m school record holder, RMAC All-Academic swimmer, SAAC president, and athletic ambassador to SAG, senior Kelsey Oettinger who said, “If he can stick around awhile and grow the program it could become a very strong and fast program since we have already started growing in that direction.”

Swimming and Diving will host Colorado Mesa University on Oct. 29 in the Mountaineer Field House Aquatic Center.  

The three new coaches bring with them the spirit of Western traditions, that hard work in the classroom and in sports can provide opportunities to improve the community that supports them. And this desire to have athletes achieve as much in the classroom and community as they do in competition can go a long way in helping Western State Colorado University achieve its goal of becoming a premier destination for learning in the heart of the Rockies.

Omicron Delta Kappa

Western Welcomes the First Circle

Staff Writer/ Grace Flynn

Omicron Delta Kappa inductees. Photo by Grace Flynn
Omicron Delta Kappa inductees. Photo by Grace Flynn

On Oct. 20, fifteen students at Western were inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa’s first circle of the year (OΔK). OΔK has more than 285 active circles at colleges and universities across the United States. OΔK remains committed to developing campus leaders who will become tomorrow’s community leaders.

These students at Western not only had high academic achievement, but also participated in campus leadership in one or more of the five phases of campus life: Scholarship, Athletics, Campus or Community Service, Social or Religious Activities, Student Government, Journalism, Speech and the Mass Media, Creative and Performing Arts.

Membership is open to faculty, staff, alumni and graduate students. So not only were Western students inducted, but also was Gary Pierson, Greg Salsbury, Sara Philips, and Annie Westbury. This makes OΔK unique because it gives students a chance to have a diverse cross-section of the campus community. It strengthens each circle and allows students to learn from people in different stages of life.

 Omicron Delta Kappa inductees waiting to be inducted. Photo by Grace Flynn
Omicron Delta Kappa inductees waiting to be inducted. Photo by Grace Flynn

Western is just one of the five universities in Colorado to be part of an OΔK circle, and one of the 302 colleges and universities across the United States.

The event took place in the University Center Theater. Students and faculty being inducted were sat in the first two rows. Together they took a pledge to the circle and Western to keep being the great leaders they are. As Salsbury said “To be a leader takes courage.” These students were nominated by Western staff who note their dedication to the university and to their education.

The students inducted into the circle were Alejandro Alejandra, Hannah Braden, Sara Coblentz, Scott Doyle, Isabel Engeman, Bryan Gray, Alma Johnson, Courtney Kauffman, Kelly Limberg, Chelsea Meininger, Chevy Mohr, Hannah Montoya, Peter Noon, Emma Sellen, and Brenda Suarez.

Inductees being inducted. Photo by Grace Flynn
Inductees being inducted. Photo by Grace Flynn

During the ceremony these students accepted a certificate explaining their involvement, and signed a plaque that will hang up on campus. OΔK provides a chance to network with other campus leaders engage in leadership development training and resources, career resources including access to a jobs board, internship opportunities, and mentoring platform, as well as opportunities to explore career options through strategic alliances and partnerships, and an honor that speaks for itself—via the stole students wear at graduation or the three prestigious letters that appear on a resume.

Western students are now able to be recognized for their achievements and have support to further themselves on campus, and in the work field. Western plans on continuing the growth of the circle for years to come.

The Success of a Local Dirtbag

Luke Mehall, self-proclaimed dirtbag climber, talked about his newest book release.

Kennedy Sievers/Senior Staff Writer

Luke Mehall: Mehall’s new book cover. Photo Courtesy of Luke Mehall
Luke Mehall: Mehall’s new book cover. Photo Courtesy of Luke Mehall

The environment was buzzing with excitement, anticipating the promise of adventure. A wonderful display of books, shirts, chocolate treats, coffee, and tea covered display tables. Luke Mehall, former student at Western, wrote his fourth book entitled Graduating From College, Me A Dirtbag Climber Grows Up. He decided to come to Western and give his only book talk to the students, faculty, and community members of Gunnison.

Mehall got his start with writing for this newspaper as well as the Gunnison County Times in 2001. He also did various other writing enterprises during his time at Western, including working in the marketing department. Mehall was a recreation major while in school, and graduated in 2004. He has been writing for about fifteen years.

Graduating From College Me, A Dirtbag Climber Grows Up is Mehall’s fourth book. It was part of a goal he made to write five books before he turned forty. He draws his inspiration from many places including the Grateful Dead, and beatnik greats such as Alan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, and Kurt Vonnegut.

He started his climbing career in a gym in his hometown, which was an abandoned grain silo and the world’s largest climbing gym for a long time. Eventually, Mehall graduated to climbing outdoors. His favorite place to climb is in the Colorado desert, namely Indian Creek. Mehall loves the view, he said, “It’s like climbing in a painting.”

After graduating college, Mehall spent a lot of time in Indian Creek, living out of a tent and seeking to climb the best climbs and live the outdoor recreation major life’s dream. He read some stories from his new novel about Indian Creek, including one about a memorial toilet in honor of a fallen fellow climber and going there now as an experienced climber, relating and giving hard-earned wisdom to the new generation of climbers.

Mehall did not get where he is through no effort of his own. He says that climbing, while the love of his life, actively tries to kill you. He has had many close encounters of his own, and watched fellow climbers meet the fate that the rocks try to instill. Rather than these dangers discouraging him from his hobby, however, Mehall says it only adds fuel to the fire of his love for exploring the great outdoors.

After listening to the reading and hearing Mehall discuss his novel, he opened up the conversation for questions and people delivered. People asked about his zine; which is a small climbing magazine designed for people writing articles about climbing, taking photos whilst climbing, and doing art.

People also asked about the publishing process, to which he said he attempted to publish with traditional big house publishers in the beginning, but found it easier and in some ways more profitable to self-publish, or as he likes to call it, independently publish. He is able to print small books as well as self-promote on social media.

Mehall wants liberal arts students to feel like they can accomplish anything. He claims that a lot of the stories as well as poems in his novel are somewhat embarrassing, but he felt like he needed to put them out there for the college and climbing community.