Category Archives: Entertainment

Does summer break have you unsure what to do?

Then Gunnison just might be the answer for you.

Nicholas A. Fischer / Staff Writer

Snow from an epic storm delayed the start of the spring semester by two days, making the campus a winter wonderland for almost a full three months. As warm weather fights its slow return to the Gunnison Valley, the spring semester rapidly approaches its end. With snow storms possible through May, snow on graduation is tradition at Western, it leaves little time for Mountaineers to enjoy the valley before summer break.

While Mountaineers are finishing their last papers, projects, and presentations of the year, some are preparing for their summer plans, while other’s plans are still up in the air. A majority of students will return to their home towns, while others will set out on adventures across the world. However, a few students will stay in the valley and mountains and get to enjoy the wonders of the short Gunnison summer.

Three factors tend to keep students in Gunnison over the summer break: summer classes, internships, or work opportunities. However, the beauty of the wilderness around Gunnison provides a bounty of relaxation any student or professor needs after a long year.

Students staying as students over summer tend to have a need to take a class over summer to stay on track or are looking to get ahead of schedule. Several classes offered over the summer take students into the mountains to study flora of the land or the stars in the sky, while others allow them to have a hands-on exploration of the past.

Over the last 25 years Western has offered an archeology field school around W Mountain. The Mountaineer Site, located on top of W Mountain, a Folsom archeology site that has the earliest known structures in Colorado, has been the focus of the field school since its discovery by archeology professor, Dr. Mark Stiger and Western students. During the field school in June, anyone can come up on a free ride, being offered through Gunnison’s Parks Department, and tour the site.

Further up the valley near Gothic mountain, Western Students will be interning over summer at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab. The area is a pristine wilderness area that has been under scientific studies for 89 years. Research done at the lab as led to over 1500 publications that have played important roles in expanding our understanding of long-term changes on ecosystems. The lab offers public programs over summer and host a 1/3 marathon on July 4th from Gothic to Crested Butte. The public can stay overnight at the lab, but space is limited.

Staying and studying in Gunnison over summer is not everyone’s ideal summer break, but Gunnison County does offer great employment opportunities for the college students in need of money. Over summer, events like the Cattlemen’s Day, the Wild Flower Festival, and various wine festivals and music events bring in tourist. In addition to abundant wilderness activities, businesses across the county are always looking for help. From inside jobs at restaurants and shops to outside jobs at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Three Rivers Resorts, there are a variety of jobs that will put cash in a student’s pockets over the summer.

For students who decide to stay in Gunnison, whether it be to study, work, or just relax, the mountains and valleys do not fail to provide an abundance of activities to ensure it is enjoyable.

The trails around Gunnison and Crested Butte are heralded as some of the best mountain biking trails of Colorado. Those trails are just a small part of the extensive network of trails that allow anyone to hike, bike, or four wheel across a vast amount of Gunnison County. These trails take people to some of the most beautiful and remote views in state and are topped off as the wildflowers begin to bloom in June and by July. Crested Butte is known as the Wildflower Capital of Colorado because the meadows and fields are painted with the varying colors of flowers that highlight the lush, green foliage and are backdropped by mountain peaks.

Of course, camping under the stars is one of the unique treasures of Gunnison. Gunnison County is far enough away from big city lights that the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is an International Dark Sky Park, which is a designation for parks that have exceptional starry nights. However, one does not have to camp or travel outside of Gunnison to get a great view of the stars. The Gunnison Valley Observatory, located on the way to Hartmann’s Rocks, offers anyone a chance to see the stars and planets even more up close than the peaks around town.

While 100 days on the mountain is a common goal for winters in Gunnison, 100 days on the water becomes a goal for summer. The East, Slate, Taylor, and Gunnison rivers along with Blue Mesa and Taylor Reservoirs and the many streams creeks and alpine lakes provide plenty of fishing, swimming, boating, rafting, paddle boarding, and yes even surfing opportunities within an hour of Gunnison.

A summer in Gunnison is an experience every Mountaineer should have. While the town and surrounding country is amazing during the months of the normal school year, Gunnison becomes a special place from May to August that makes surviving the bitter colds of its winter, all the worthwhile.

Film Review: Logan

Action flick is dark and serves as an emotional farewell to Hugh Jackman’s X-Men tenure

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

Logan promises a final ride for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and delivers in this dark and violent neo-western. In addition to Jackman, the film also stars Dafne Keen in her first major film, Boyd Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, and Patrick Stewart in his last appearance as Charles Xavier. Written and directed by James Mangold, the film was released on March 3, 2017 by Twentieth Century Fox.

Set in the year 2030 where mutants are all but extinct, Logan and Charles Xavier struggle to make a living while their bodies are decaying in their old age. When a young mutant girl named Laura enters their life, Logan reluctantly decides to become a hero one last time as he and Charles escort her in a journey that offers the promise of a hopeful future.

A major strength of Logan is its grounded setting in contrast to other superhero films. Besides the mutants and some cyborg henchmen, the film is largely free of science fiction and fantasy tropes aside from a few token elements to make it slightly futuristic. The story looks as if it could take place in the contemporary world, which makes it more engaging through the lack of fantasy elements.

Going with the grounded setting is the film’s dark mood and serious stakes. The violence is gory and not stylized, as ruthless mercenaries get chopped to pieces while they relentlessly chase the heroes, who are not in the best shape to defend themselves. Needless to say, the film is an edge of the seat affair that makes it clear lives are at stake, which makes it easy for the audience to stay engaged in the trio’s efforts.

The film is competently directed in the action department, as camera movements are steady and not too frenetic while giving the audience a clear view of what’s happening. The action is usually focused on hand to hand combat that ends with henchmen sliced up in a variety of bloody manners by mutant claws, while Logan’s age means his healing powers do not work well and force him to be careful. This causes the action to be low-key and full of tension, which offers a break from the over the top, explosion filled mayhem typically associated with blockbusters.

Not surprisingly, the film has quite a bit of emotion and heart wrenching moments for a story that concerns the end of an age. Both Logan and Charles are in quite the pitiful state when the audience meets them with equally broken bodies and minds, which makes their situation even more dire. There are also several scenes devoted to character development between the two and Laura, which offers some tender moments as their bond grows and they come to terms with their lives in a somber way.

While the film offers Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart delivering their best for their characters’ grand finale, the real star of the show is Dafne Keen as Laura. As a troubled mutant child with no social skills and most of her lines in Spanish, Keen gives an endearing performance that focuses mostly on body language over dialogue while commanding attention. Considering this is only her second acting credit, this makes her performance all the more powerful due to the amazing amount of restraint she exhibits by showing instead of telling the audience how her character feels and thinks.

There are some problems in the film despite its impressive attributes. Namely, the dark and depressing mood can be a bit of a turn-off, as not a lot goes well for the heroes throughout and they have to go through quite a bit of pain and effort to accomplish anything. Additionally, the story makes the X-Men films feel pointless as the efforts of Wolverine and Charles were all for naught when all the mutants died off.

Finally, the third act feels somewhat out of place with the rest of the film. Namely, some more hard science-fiction elements are introduced that clash with the more realistic atmosphere it had set up. As a result, they can feel out of place and make the viewer feel as if they are watching an almost entirely different movie.

Nevertheless, Logan is a well-directed action flick that manages to compensate for these flaws. With a large amount of character development and a low-key setting commanded by powerhouse performances, the film provides a thoughtful and smaller scale type of adventure than the superhero blockbuster typically offers. Overall, the film ends Hugh Jackman’s acting tenure as Wolverine on a high note that will leave viewers satisfied knowing he chose an appropriate story to end it with.

Gunnison Trump Tax March set for Apr. 15

Citizens can add their voices to the call for the President to release his tax returns at the Gunnison Trump Tax Return March, Sat. Apr. 15, from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. The one-mile event through downtown Gunnison starts and ends at W. Virginia Ave. and N. Wisconsin St. Map and details are available under Local Marches at www.taxmarch.org.

            Although it’s being called a march, it’s actually a peaceful walk, according to Gunnison grassroots organizers.  They emphasized that the event is not a protest.

           “It’s an opportunity for people to unite and express a common view and add their voices to demand transparency and the release of the President’s tax returns,” said one. Participants are expected to keep on the sidewalks, not block sidewalks or businesses, and follow basic traffic and pedestrian laws like using crosswalks.

              According to national Tax March officials, “Everyone participating in this event will be required to abide by all applicable laws and lawful orders of authorities. This event will be nonviolent and will not involve any civil disobedience or other violation of law.”

           The local group does request that banners and other materials be appropriate for public display and avoid being questionable in taste.

           “The National Tax March isn’t an organization–it’s a movement. The White House said no one cares about the President’s tax returns. We are marching because the President must

be accountable to the American people. On Apr. 15, we will demand that Trump act in the public interest and release his returns,” according to a media release from the national group.

 

Western Students Pitch in for the “Biobonanza”

The annual Tri Beta event featured many aspects of the sciences

Roberta Marquette-Strain/Senior Staff Writer

When the school bell rang at 3:30 on Friday, March 31, students from Gunnison Elementary School ran into their cafeteria to see that it had been turned into a fun, interactive science fair.

The “Biobonanza” is an annual event, hosted by Western’s biological honors society Tri Beta, that aims to teach elementary schoolers about biology as well as spark their interest in the subject.

Senior biology student Sarah Keith organized this year’s event, drawing inspiration from her childhood experiences of visiting visitor’s centers at state parks and national parks, or touring her local college’s engineering program and being able to interact with the displays and materials.

Keith reached out to various students and clubs outside of the biology department to expand the students’ ideas of biological science. Aside from the biology program, seven other departments were represented at the “Biobonanza,” including geology, psychology, chemistry, and art. Each of the groups were in charge of creating their own interactive booth to teach the kids the basics of the subject while also having some fun.

Psychology students focused on the senses, using taste tests to talk about how taste buds work as well as perception tests to determine their dominant eye. Western’s chapter of Back Country Hunters and Anglers provided animal track molds and taught them how to make a turkey call using a small plastic cup and a straw. Biology students spoke to the kids about the basics of photosynthesis and why birds sing.

Marlo Frazier said that her second-grade son, Owen, is just starting to learn the basics of science, so he was very excited to come. “This is pretty cool for him, to see and learn all this,” Frazier said. “I think his favorite (activity) though was the turkey call,” she said with a laugh.

 

Another popular station featured local falconer Katherine Grand and her Red-tailed Hawk, Kit. Grand often found herself at the center of a crowd of students and parents, as she taught them about the bird and what being a falconer entails. She even showed the group how she calls to Kit to fly onto her arm.

Keith hopes that the diversity of the booths showed the students that there are plenty of different subjects in the field of science. “From birds to DNA to rocks, it can help them realize that even if they’re not interested in earth science, they can also find something cool or interesting about plants.”

The variety of booths allowed students to be introduced to the many different fields of sciences, from biology to chemistry to geology. When the time came for the students to head home, they left with new ideas and an appreciation for science.

 

Dance Classes at the GAC

Second session of dance classes will begin at the Gunnison Arts Center’s Dance Studio right after spring break. Choose from First Steps Dance Class for kids ages 2-4, Ballet/Tap Combo for ages 4-6 and 7-10 and Youth Hip Hop Troupe for ages 5-9 and 10-15. Adults can choose from Tap Levels 1 & 2, Hip Hop and brand new this semester, Merengue couples dance! This six week session of classes will end with a Dance Showcase on May 10th. Get the full schedule and register online at gunnisonartscenter.org, stop in at 102 S. Main St or call us at 970-641-4029.

Springfest Headliner Announced at the Silent Disco

Marisa Cardin / Senior Staff Writer

Students from all over Gunnison came to the Silent Disco party in the UC Ballroom on Friday, Mar. 10. The Disco, which featured multiple local DJs, provided students with wireless headsets so they could tune into whichever DJ they wanted, all while staying in the same room as everyone else. Free beer was also provided by Eddyline, a brewery located in Buena Vista, Colorado, and non-alcoholic refreshments and snacks were provided by Sodexo. The event was a party intended for the announcement of the headliner for Springfest; The Floozies, an Electronica and Funk duo consisting of brothers Matt and Mark Hill. They’ve performed at festivals all across the country, including Summercamp, Camp Bisco, and Bumbershoot. They’ve also joined musical talents with GRiZ at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. Springfest will feature The Floozies as the headliners, with other bands to be announced, as well as local bands and artists playing music on campus throughout the day. More information to come!

 

Honors Choir Weekend

Quigley Hall welcomes 150 high school students to the 65th Western Slope Choral Festival

Grace Flynn/ Staff Writer

High school students from 27 different schools all around Colorado spent Mar. 2 through 4 working with Western vocal music majors and guest conductors.

The students traveled to Western to attend the Western Slope Choral Festival. Professor Heather Roberson, director of concert choir and chamber singers, organized the weekend and invited guest conductors to work with the students.

“The most difficult thing about this festival is the amount of time it takes to organize it all. People are aware of what happens when the festival occurs, but they don’t know what all happens behind the scenes and what leads up to it,” Roberson said.

Daniel Afonso Ph.D., from the University of California, Stanislaus, was the guest conductor for the women’s choir, and Jeremy Manternach Ph.D. was the guest conductor for the mixed choir. They worked with the students on techniques to improve their singing skills.

“My favorite part about the festival is the progress the students make in the short time of just two and a half days. It’s just amazing,” Roberson said.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) played a part in the festival by helping visiting students find their practice rooms, the rehearsal hall, and navigate the campus. NAfME students helped keep the festival running smoothly and going for the three days of rehearsal.

During this festival, the fire department also held their annual benefit concert. Back in 1953, a committee of Gunnison Volunteer Fireman spoke with the president at Western to suggest sponsoring two evenings of music by the Western band. Since then, the proceeds from these concerts have been used to replace equipment at the fire department. The band concert traditionally features the piece “Third Alarm March” by Arthur Fiedler, which includes fire fighters playing bells and earsplitting sirens.

Western is proud of the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department and appreciative of their efficient and indispensable contribution to the school and the community. These concerts are a token of that appreciation.

 

Mountaineer Media attends Moab International Film Festival

Students represent Western media organization at film event in Utah

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

 

Students from Western’s Mountaineer Media program traveled to Moab to attend the Moab International Film Festival that ran from Mar 4 to 6. Currently in its fourth year, the film festival accepts experimental and documentary independent films that serve an educational value to their viewers. The film festival was rescheduled from a previous fall time slot.

The students, Mountaineer Media Student Directors Elesa Petit, Skyler Stanley, and Samuel Thornley along with student Lane Castro, left for the event on Mar 3 before returning to Gunnison the following Sunday. The students alternated their time between watching films at the festival and exploring the town of Moab.

The students ended up watching three films at the festival on the first day of the event. The films that were showcased were Gun Runners, Antarctic Edge 70° South and Martin’s Boat. All of the films were documentaries, with Antarctic Edge 70° South being the recipient of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Lighthouse International Film Festival.

Directed by Anjali Nayar, Gun Runners follows the story of two Kenyan warriors who trade in their guns for amnesty and to become professional runners. The film focuses on the friendship and rivalry between the two warriors as their lives branch into different directions where they are caught in the pull between their differences, the struggles of poverty, tradition and glory.

Antarctic Edge 70° South, directed by Dena Seidel, originally premiered in Spring 2015 in New York’s Quad Cinema. Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, Antarctic Edge 70° South follows the staff of Palmer Station in Antarctica as they study the ecosystem of the ocean surrounding the continent. An insight into the daily lives of these scientists is showcased as they study the warming Antarctic waters in an effort to understand the effects climate change has on the ecosystem.

The last of the films, Martin’s Boat, was directed by Pete McBride, and serves as a means of honoring the late Martin Litton. A protector of the environment, Martin Litton was known for advocating against the construction of dams in the Grand Canyon during the 1950’s and giving boat tours on the Colorado River. The documentary follows a group of people close to Martin that construct a boat in his honor to sail the Colorado River with on its maiden voyage.

The students were pretty enthusiastic about the films they saw. “They evoked emotions I wasn’t expecting from people I didn’t even know. That’s how good they were,” said Petit on the films.

“They were all well-done. I really liked Antarctic Edge. That was my favorite. That had some cool time lapses,” Castro said. For more information on Mountaineer Media activities, meetings are held every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30 in Taylor 124 and contact can be made through email at mountaineermediaproductions@gmail.com. Student directors also have office hours on Tuesday-Friday from 1:30-2:30.

Film Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

Computer animated comedy offers laughs and a fun tribute to Caped Crusader

Sam Thornley / Staff Writer

The LEGO Batman Movie is an animated comedy that serves as not only a spin-off to 2014’s The LEGO Movie, but a surprisingly competent addition to the Batman franchise in its own right. Directed by Chris McKay, the film was released by Warner Bros. Pictures on Feb. 10, 2017. The film features the voice talents of Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes among many others.

The story begins as Batman follows his usual life of fighting crime in Gotham City and living alone in Wayne Manor. When orphan Dick Grayson and new Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon enter his life and disturb his solitary habits, Batman must question what kind of life he wants to live while his arch-nemesis The Joker cooks up a new plot that threatens to destroy all of Gotham City.

What really makes the film work is the rather eclectic and witty sense of humor it carries throughout. From the opening credits, the film snarks at typical movie conventions and does so all the way through with a rather amusing self-awareness. Additionally, there are plenty of visual cues that provide a lot of humor along with the snappy dialogue traded between characters.

On the subject of characters, the film does a fantastic job making Batman and the rest of the colorful cast entertaining to watch. Batman is hilariously over the top in his egotistical manner while his sidekicks are equally fun to watch with their various quirks playing off each other in humorous and even heartwarming ways. While most of Batman’s rogues gallery is side lined in favor of the always comical Joker, many of them still provide memorable moments through cameos and the few lines they possess.

The characters are brought to life with especially well done voice acting. Besides Will Arnett reprising LEGO Batman, Michael Cera is surprisingly unrecognizable as the adorably shy Robin, while Ralph Fiennes and Rosario Dawson bring all the wisdom and daring determination expected of authority figures Alfred and Barbara Gordon. Finally, the villains provide amusing performances from unlikely casting choices, with Zach Galifianakis’ Joker standing out for his entertaining homoerotic interactions with Batman.

A large part of the film’s appeal lies with its relentless amount of affection and parody towards the mythos of the Batman franchise. A large number of nods to different eras of the series appear in the form of visual cameos and gags that range from the obvious to the obscure, such as Batman keeping all of his suits and vehicles from the different live-action adaptations. This parodies the low points of the franchise just as much as it affectionately mocks them, showing the creators have a good appreciation and understanding of the franchise in a way that feels appropriate.

Another high point in the film is the rather sincere theme of questioning whether Batman can live a happy life with his usual habits. While done in a mostly humorous manner, the film does raise serious questions about Batman’s tendency to live alone and reject help from others when he needs it. It marvelously accomplishes this through simple efforts such as showing Batman doing mundane activities in solitude, along with several other characters and threats popping up that challenge him to go outside of his comfort zone and break his usual routine.

Finally, the film has some rather impressive animation and lighting. Despite being a computer-animated affair, the characters are animated in a photo-realistic manner very akin to traditional stop-motion animation that gives it a fun visual flair. The Dark Knight’s tradition of operating at night and hiding in the shadows also gives rise to some well-done lighting compositions that feel very comic book-esque, which is aided by the bright color scheme and appealing character design.

Despite all the fun to be had, the film still has some noticeable flaws. Namely, the fast-paced humor will not appeal to everyone’s senses, as much of it is unloaded upon the viewer at once. The film has a habit of throwing out one joke before delivering another in the span of several seconds, causing some jokes misfire.

The film can also feel somewhat formulaic, which is especially noticeable since it borrows from both The LEGO Movie and the Batman franchise at the same time in story beats and character types. While the film does make fun of these clichés, it also feels overly indulgent in them due to their abundance.

Additionally, besides The Joker, most of the other villains do not have much personality. Although some have their moments, most of the villains are background characters and the film could function with generic thugs taking their places. Considering how memorable most of Batman’s rogues gallery is, this makes their treatment even more disappointing.

Nevertheless, The LEGO Batman Movie still serves as a very entertaining animated adventure. Packed with humor and nods to the franchise it’s based on, the film tackles Batman’s long history in a way that feels equal parts parody and adaptation of the legendary series. With a broad appeal to multiple demographics, the viewers can expect an entertaining ride with the Caped Crusader’s latest cinematic adventure.

Wood Workshop

During this Saturday workshop on Mar. 18, students will get to make a six-pack bottle caddy while learning about project planning, measurements, sanding, staining, and safety. Using these skills students will create projects out of wood in the GAC Clay Studio from instructor Jessica Noelke. Wood comes precut to project specifications. Pre-registration required by 3/11. $40/person includes all supplies. 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Bring a sack lunch. Pre-register at gunnisonartscenter.org, 102 S. Main St or by calling 970-641-4029.