From fish to thieves, summer movies offer variety

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Jun 242003
 
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz

Finding Nemo, Disney/Pixar Pictures

From the always-dependable computer animation company, Pixar’s gamble on its first summer release seems to have paid off. The movie captures you with its breathtaking and almost surreal animation but where most summer movies end, Pixar does not rely solely on special affects; the script and the acting carries the movie.

Clownfish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) must search the depths of the ocean for his only son Nemo who got lost after proving on his first day of school that he is not afraid of everything wet like his dad. On his quest, Marlin runs into Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a fish with a little problem with her short-term memory. In the typical Pixar plot, the two mismatched characters join efforts in finding the title character.

On the way, they run into Bruce (Barry Humphries), a killer white shark who is taking a 12-step program to stop from eating other fish and other shark stereotypes. Meanwhile Nemo ends up in a dentist’s fish tank where he meets pet fish who have been preparing to escape under the leadership of veteran fish Gill (Willem Dafoe).

Though predictable and at some points in the film I asked myself if I have seen parts of this movie in previous Pixar productions (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life), the movie shines with brilliant and first-rate animation backed up with marvelous and outstanding voice performances.

B+

Matrix Reload, Warner Brother Pictures

The most anticipated sequel in recent memory, Matrix Reloaded leaves the audience with more questions to ponder than reasons to applaud. Starting off right after the first Matrix (viewers who haven’t seen the first one will be lost, Reloaded doesn’t start with a prelude) left off. Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his crew of renegade fighters, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) continue fighting the machines and freeing humans from the Matrix illusion.

After being blown to bytes in the first movie, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) returns with the powers to reduplicate himself in the Matrix with the goal to destroy Neo and those who wish to destroy the Matrix computer program.

The movie comes with highs and lows in the special affects and the plot. After smashing and defining special effects in the original with its “bullet-time” shots and gravity defining fighting scenes, the filmmakers felt they had to take the special affects a notch up. Unfortunately, they weren’t perfect and if you are the Matrix, and your special affects are not flawless, you might as well not do them.

In the scene when Neo first meets up with Smith, the hero finds himself fighting against dozens and dozens of Smiths. The filmmakers invented away to duplicate an actor on screen over and over again, except the rendering on the shots made the film look like a really cool videogame and/or a really fake movie. The movie and filmmakers redeem themselves in the car scene that required a stretch of highway to be built specifically for the movie. The characters find themselves driving in and out of highway traffic (and at one point driving against traffic). When the scene is finally finished, don’t be surprised if you’re out of breath.

The plot as well has it highs and lows. Because the final movie of this trilogy comes out seven months later, the filmmakers had to make sure they had enough story to make another movie and it seems this movie suffers because of that by trying to fill two hours of film with about 90 minutes of storyline.

B-

The Italian Job, Paramount Pictures

A remake from the original 1969 film of the same name, the movie concerns itself with a bunch of professional thieves, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, Seth Green and Mos Def, who are out to get the guy who backstabbed them with the help of the always-gorgeous Charlize Theron who plays Stella, a lock picker who decides to join the crew to get revenge on the guy who murdered her father (Donald Sutherland). Heard this plot a dozen times in movies? Probably, but what makes the movie memorable is the excitement watching this team carry out their scheme.

In a breakout role, Seth Green plays Lyle, a computer whiz claims that he was the guy who invented the mp3-swapping program Napster. Statham and Def also stand out in their roles as a dashing get-to-guy Rob and a half-deaf explosions expert Left-Ear, respectively. In fact, the entire casts shines including Theron who steals every scene she is in and even Edward Norton (who I argue is THE actor of this generation) does the most he can playing a generic greedy bad guy, Steve, who did not even want to do this movie but was forced to in order to fulfill a contract. Everyone shines except leading man Wahlberg who I forgot half the time what he was doing in this movie. The crew could have easily pulled off the mission without his flat lines and meager acting. The romance between him and Theron is flatline throughout every attempt but don’t let it get you down, you’ll be enjoying yourself getting caught up in all the excitement the rest of the characters are having in their super-cool BMW Mini’s.

In a summer of car movies which use computer generated images in every shot and depend on blue screens and ILM to carry the movie, Italian Job said “no” and shot the entire movie without CGI, just like they did in the old days, and it shows.

B

Hollywood Homicide

Sony Pictures

The most profitable actor of all time, Harrison Ford, teams up with heartthrob, Josh Hartnett, in this cop-buddy flick but instead of mixing up the buddy-cop formula, Homicide simply plays by the dull rules of mismatched, polar-opposite cops who try throughout the whole movie to understand and identify each other.

Ford plays a veteran Hollywood detective, Joe Gavilian, who is paying off three ex-wives and is trying to make it a day without his car being repossessed and trying to close a real estate deal between Master P and Martin Landau.

Hartnett plays K.C. Calden, a rookie (no way!) who has aspirations to become an actor, a move Harrison’s character doesn’t “get”. When they are not busy with real estate deals, rehearsing script lines or making out with beautiful women, they’re suppose to be on the case of the murder of four rappers who got shot or something….doesn’t matter, they might as well be chasing down a group of guys selling donuts without charging for extra sprinkles, the point of the movie is to laugh at the absurdity between the two main characters, it works at times but usually I found myself finishing the punch lines before Harrison or Hartnett had the chance to.

The movie’s best scenes are when Harrison plays against his typical typecast, instead of the dashing hero who is never seen without his hat and always looks dashing when saving the day, the audience gets to see Harrison play a character down on his luck, drinking scotch home alone and answering his cell phone when it rings an old-school Motown jingle… since when does Indiana Jones carry a cell phone? As for Hartnett, well, in every scene his hair looks like he just walked through a wind tunnel but he holds his own to the great Harrison.

Homicide hopes people will be satisfied seeing Harrison and Harnett on the screen together at the same time, and for the most part it’s enough, but would it hurt to mix up the old cop-buddy formula?

C+

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First bird found with West Nile Virus

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Jun 242003
 
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

A dead magpie tested positive for West Nile Virus for the first time this season. The magpie was found dead on June 4 in Fremont County near Colorado Springs and reported as having the virus by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment June 17.

Currently, 18 bird specimens have been submitted for testing from Larimer County. Ten specimens tested negative and eight are still pending.

Go to www.fightthebitecolorado.com to see images and descriptions of birds eligible for testing.

“Now that we know mosquitoes are active in Colorado, it is especially important for residents to take the necessary actions to protect themselves from bites,” said Dr. Adrienne Lebailly, M.D., health department director, in a press release.

Outboxes:

Necessary criteria to test a dead bird:

1. The bird must be a member of the corvid family (crows, ravens, magpies and jays).

2. The bird must have been dead less than 48 hours.

3. An exact location of where the bird was found is available.

4. Birds that are dried out, smelly or infested with maggots cannot be tested.

Dr. Adrienne Lebailly, M.D., health department director suggests using insect repellents with DEET to protect from infectious mosquito bites.

DEET product labels may include the following:

* Do not apply over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.

* Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.

* Do not allow young children to apply this product.

* Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing.

* Do not use under clothing.

* Avoid over-application of this product.

* After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.

* Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.

* Use of this product may cause skin reactions in rare cases.

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White water

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Jun 242003
 
Authors: Jason Kosena

For Kevin McKinney, a senior construction management major at CSU, bad weather is always a good thing. For McKinney, lots of snow in the winter and a rainy summer means a great season of rafting and kayaking is upon Colorado.

“In 1999, the rivers were pretty high, but this year the rivers are the highest since 1995,” said McKinney, who is enjoying the raging rivers this summer as he has the last five summers, guiding rafting trips for a commercial company in Idaho Springs on the Clear Creek River.

McKinney, who first started river raft guiding five years ago and shortly thereafter discovered the excitement of kayaking, believes that he has the ultimate summer job.

“I started guiding because I thought it sounded like a good summer job,” McKinney said. “I started kayaking pretty soon after I finished learning to guide.”

But the high level of river water this year in Colorado is much more dangerous for all people who use the rivers for recreational purposes, and McKinney is not exempt.

“I have had some close calls this year,” McKinney said.

As seen when a rafting trip that McKinney was guiding earlier this month turned from fun in the sun to a nightmare that no one wants to experience.

It started as a normal trip down the same stretch of river that McKinney has guided hundreds of times in the past.

But the normal trip that was routine for McKinney, all changed when the raft he was guiding flipped over in the fast-moving currents of the river.

“I had a lady swim,” McKinney said.

Being flipped off the raft is normal, according to McKinney, but what happened next was anything but routine.

“(The lady) couldn’t get out of the river. When she was finally pulled out she had to have CPR and she had to have Flight For Life fly her out,” McKinney said. “(The authorities) had to close I-70 so the helicopter could land.”

The lady McKinney was guiding down the river survived, but others in Colorado this year who are enjoying the rivers have not been so lucky.

At least four people have lost their lives in Colorado rivers’ this year already, and McKinney believes the high water this year could bring more.

“The rivers are moving faster this year, and there are bigger holes. The biggest danger is getting out of the river,” McKinney said.

Because the water is moving so fast, according to McKinney, swimming to the shore becomes much more difficult.

“When people get into the river they have a hard time getting out and back to shore because the water is moving so fast,” said McKinney.

The high water does make guiding river rafters easier, according to McKinney, but that doesn’t take away the danger.

“The actual guiding is easier, because all the rocks in the river are covered, but that doesn’t make it any safer.”

Just because the rivers are running high isn’t a reason to stay away from them all together, according to Brad Modesitt, a rafting guide and owner of Mountain Whitewater Descents.

“This year we are at about normal water (levels). Last year was a little more scary because there were more rocks to hit,” Modesitt said.

Students who spend the summer in Fort Collins may have seen people inter-tubing the Poudre River this year or in the past. Although it can be fun, Modesitt advises students to stay safe.

“First of all, it is illegal to tube on the Poudre. Most people who are tubing are not wearing life jackets and often times have been drinking,” Modesitt said.

Modesitt says his company takes safety seriously and uses many safeguards against people being injured or killed on their trips.

“We do a lot of things (to stay safe). Everybody wears a wetsuit and helmet,” Modesitt said.

“A safety boater goes with all the trips and bus drivers stay at the big rapids with (safety) ropes,” Modesitt said.

Another concern for people using the rivers should be the cold temperatures of the mountain snowmelt.

“One of our major concerns right now is hypothermia. If a person spends just a little bit of time in the water, it can be dangerous,” Modesitt said.

River safety is important and using a professional company to take you down the river is essential to river safety, Modesitt said.

Mountain Whitewater Descents is located just west of Fort Collins and provides rafting trips on the Poudre for people who looking for a close river rafting experience. The price for a day trip is $89 and a half-day trip is $56 according to Modesitt.

For more information call 888-855-8874 or visit www.MountainWhitewaterDescents.com

Safety Tips From American Whitewater:

1) Be a competent swimmer

2) Wear a life jacket

3) Wear a solid, correctly fitted helmet

4) Be aware of river conditions like: high water levels, water temperatures, objects in the river like fallen trees, and bridge pilings

5) Be aware of river obstacles like dams, ledges, holes and hydrologic waves

6) Never enjoy river activities alone and bring along important safety devices like a whistle and throw rope.

Source: www.americanwhitewater.org

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City adopts nuisance hotline

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Jun 242003
 
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

At the end of April Fort Collins adopted a nuisance hotline as a resource for residents concerned about their neighbors and/or neighborhoods.

Fort Collins residents can call 416-2200 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to reach a City Streets Department employee. There are always one to three people on duty, said Larry Schneider, streets superintendent.

After hours and on weekends residents can leave a message on a recorded information system that will get to the correct mailbox and be dealt with as soon as possible.

“It’s always been a priority to keep our community clean and safe, and our citizens are the best people to help us do that,” said John Fischbach, Fort Collins city manager, in a press release. “Unfortunately, sometimes it was confusing for people to try and figure out which department they should call to report problems or ask questions. The Nuisance Hotline makes it simple by providing a quick and convenient ‘one-stop shop’ for reporting problems.”

The things residents can report range from more than three unrelated people living in one housing unit to inoperable vehicles or parking on lawns to industrial noise.

“We wanted to make it user friendly,” Schneider said. “People found they can get a good response.”

The hotline receives anywhere from eight to 10 calls every day and seems to have been well-received, Schneider said.

Types of problems reported to the Nuisance Hotline

* more than three unrelated persons living in one housing unit

* concerns about the safety of rental units

* work being done without a permit

* neighborhood disputes

* wood smoke, weed, rubbish or sidewalk snow violations

* inoperable vehicles or parking on lawns

* industrial noise

* storm water pollution

* public nuisance violations

* noise violations

* barking dogs

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A Fort Collins’ summer tradition will remain despite threats of budget cuts

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Jun 242003
 
Authors: J.J. Babb

This year’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance will host the 27th year of Caf/ Summer Theatre opening July 1. The theatre has cut down from three to two shows this summer due to budget cuts.

“The reason (we cut a show) is because of severe budget cuts,” director of publicity for the department of Music, Theatre and Dance Alana Minor said.

A dance and silent auction will be held July 20 to benefit the Caf/ Summer Theatre.

“Theatre is art and entertainment and community outreach all in one uniquely harmonized form. Saving our summer theatre program enables CSU to retain an invaluable means of fulfilling its mission- connecting our students with the people in our community in pursuit of knowledge and pleasure and appreciation of our simple humanity,” co-director Eric Prince said in a press release.

The theatre, located in the courtyard of the Clark Building, serves desserts, snacks and beverages as audiences enjoy plays under the stars.

“A major part of our mission at this university is to connect as part of the community,” Prince said. “It is to entertain, spread knowledge and create relationships and theater does that in a happy way.”

The plays to be performed this year are “The Fantasticks” and “Private Lives.”

“The Fantasticks,” the longest running musical in the world, will be performed July 1, 5, 9, 11, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 26.

“The Fantasticks” is co-directed by Theatre Professor and resident playwright Prince and Travis Risner, a Northern Colorado vocalist and performer. The music will be directed by Bruce Burbank, a recognized pianist and organist. Burbank is the music director and staff accompanist for the Dance Program.

“Private Lives,” Noel Coward’s most successful play, will be performed July 2, 3, 10, 12, 16, 19 and 25. Prince also directs “Private Lives.”

Prince recommends attending the Caf/ Summer Theatre for the experience.

“We think (this season) is going to be very successful,” Price said. “It’s well supported and we’ve to respect this support and not let people down.”

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Hathaway: wonderful memories

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Jun 242003
 
Authors: Jason Kosena

For Jeffery Hathaway, the out-going athletic director at CSU, Fort Collins and the CSU community have been a blessing and a privilege to work with and serve.

“I would not trade these two years (at CSU) for anything in the world,” Hathaway said.

The individuals that Hathaway has associated with for the past two years have become special to him in more than one way.

“The people I’ve met (while working at CSU) are not only wonderful colleagues, but also life-long friends now,” Hathaway said.

But Hathaway hasn’t forgot the real reason why he was at CSU for the last two years, believing that the success athletic department has seen during his time here is due to the students.

“Most importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to work with wonderful student athletes and other undergraduates,” Hathaway said.

During Hathaway’s tenure at CSU, the athletic department has accomplished much in the way of progress.

During the 2002-03 athletic year, CSU won four Mountain West Conference championships, sent the Men’s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament and drew national media attention with the announcement this spring of a $15.2 million gift from the Bohemian Foundation.

The $15.2 million will be used for expansion and renovation of the newly-named Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.

The success of the student athletes was the most important aspect for Hathaway.

“The academic success of our student athletes, the success CSU has seen in these areas, that is the most important part,” Hathaway said.

Hathaway will be leaving CSU to serve as the athletic director of the University of Connecticut, the same university that Hathaway served for 11 years prior to coming to Colorado and CSU.

“I had worked (at Uconn) for 11 years. Having been part of that, there is a tie to that university,” Hathaway said. “My kids were born there.”

Leaving CSU is another turn in the road for Hathaway, but he will carry his experience here on with him to his next position.

“My experience at CSU has taught me that my job is about people. First and foremost we are here to serve the university as a whole,” Hathaway said.

CSU is also sad to see Hathaway leave for Connecticut.

“Even though he’s only been here a short time, Jeff has had a tremendous impact at the university,” said Al Yates, president of CSU, in last week’s Collegian.

CSU is becoming accustomed to searching for new athletic directors. Since the departure of Fum McGraw, the athletic director of CSU for 11 years, five directors have come and gone.

Although CSU is unsure who number six will be, an eight-person search committee has been formed to start the process of finding a new director, and an interim director, Christine Susemihl the current associate athletics director for compliance at CSU, has been named.

While the search continues for a new athletic director at CSU, Hathaway is preparing for his new job in Connecticut.

“I believe very strongly in the president (of Uconn) and believe very strongly in the university as a whole,” Hathaway said.

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Arabic can assist studies, business

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Jun 242003
 
Authors: Shandra Jordan

The addition of an Arabic language course to CSU’s curriculum could open doors for students in business, travel and education.

“Learning the language will allow a better understanding between the West and the East in general,” said Mohammed Hirchi, the professor who will be teaching the new course. “It is also a way to introduce them to the culture where the language is spoken.”

There was originally one section for 25 students of L 180, beginning Arabic, but another section has since been added to accommodate demand. The class can be taken for four credits.

Arabic is added to the list of languages already taught at CSU bringing to total to nine.

Students have expressed interest in having Arabic offered for some time, said Sara Saz, the chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature.

“Especially after the 11th of Sept. there’s an increasing interest in learning Arabic,” Hirchi said.

For now there is only one level of Arabic offered, but if students express an interest in continuing their studies advanced sections could be added, Saz said.

“There are so many millions of people in the world who speak Arabic,” Saz said. “There’s a need for students to get a closer understanding of the language and culture.”

Many universities teach Arabic as part of Middle Eastern studies or history, Hirchi said. A minor in Arabic could be created at CSU in the future, if there was enough interest, he said.

“It can offer a lot of professional opportunities for our students,” Hirchi said.

Shakir Muhammed, a junior executive committee member from the Islamic Center in Fort Collins said studying Arabic could help students in many ways.

“It will also help anyone who plans to do any international business,” Muhammed said. “With the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan businesses are going to be getting involved and (students) can get the job just based on their language abilities.”

Hirchi expects that most students in the course will not have a background in Arabic. There are no prerequisites.

Hirchi has been teaching various courses at CSU for four years, including Business French, which he will continue to teach next semester. He has never formally taught Arabic in a university setting, though he has taught in informal settings. He is originally from Morocco.

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