‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ a heart-wrenching take on the butterfly effect

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Sep 302009
 
Authors: Savannah King

Caution: This one’s a tear-jerker.

Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” explores the life story of Eddie, a sweet, mediocre, normal man by all accounts.

Albom’s unique approach to reviewing Eddie’s life is what makes this novel so special: He does it after Eddie has died through a string of five people who explain influential events in Eddie’s life.

After dying through the selfless act of pushing a little girl out of the way of a falling amusement park ride cart, Eddie arrives in “heaven” — or one of many versions of it.

For each individual person Eddie meets, they each have their own heaven, unique to them, in which Eddie stays for a while.

During the time spent there, each of these people explain a significant event which had occurred during Eddie’s life and how it somehow affected him, whether he was aware of its effect or not.

For Eddie, it solves mysteries of his life he had never known existed and provides meaning to an otherwise unremarkable life spent on earth.

This is the deal: he must fully accept and understand these sometimes heart-wrenching unknown realities to move on to his own heaven, where he will bide his time in happiness, waiting to explain someone else’s life to them.

Oddly, some of the people Eddie meets in heaven he never met in real life: The Blue Man, a man whom Eddie unknowingly killed when he was a child. Ruby, who was in the next room when Eddie’s father died. Tala, a little girl who was burned in a hut Eddie set fire to as a soldier in the war.

On the other end of the spectrum, Eddie is allowed the chance to meet his old captain from the war, as well as his long-dead and beloved wife, Marguerite.

These five people possess a completely unbiased outlook and outsider perspective that allows them a necessary matter-of-factness when teaching Eddie.

The five’s teachings provide lessons to readers who pay attention while the five speak of a curious butterfly effect which many people ignore.

“. each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one,” Albom writes.

Albom never drops the matter, and he wants you to consider: If you chase after a ball into the street, will the driver have a heart attack and die once he veers far out of your sight? If you start a business, are you responsible when decades later it catches fire, causing illness and death? If you negligently toss a bottle off a bridge, do you later know of deaths you caused when it smashed into a car windshield?

Through all these small choices that turn out horribly, Albom never stops questioning, urging all people to consider their actions carefully, and the repercussions they have on those around you.

He makes you question: What consequences has my life had? Who have I affected?

“Did you ever wonder,” Albom asks the reader, “why people gather when others die? Why people feel they should? It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect.”

Entertainment writer Savannah King can be reached at Verve@collegian.com.

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KCSU DJ Profile: Sonic

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Sep 302009
 
Authors:

DJ: Sonic

Time: 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays and co-host of Ramblers 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays

Real Name: Brandon Grose

Major: Speech communication

Years at KCSU: Almost a year

Q: Favorite Music Genre?/

A: Hip-hop and country

/

Q: What’s your favorite album right now?

A: “Troubador” by K’NAAN

Q: Why should somebody listen to your show?

A: Because I am awesome, of course, and to hear some great music.

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Fort Collins indie gem Fierce Bad Rabbit releases self-titled debut album

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Sep 302009
 
Authors: Ian Mahan

Fort Collins hasn’t seen a band blow up since the departure of hometown heroes Tickle Me Pink, who appealed to the teenage population of the town with ease and exception.

However, the appeal that Tickle Me Pink brought out in Fort Collins youth left the older music lovers in Fort Collins slightly stranded.

Enter Fierce Bad Rabbit, Fort Collins’ very own indie rock pride and joy. The four-piece has made a name for itself by playing the local bar scene, and recently the Aggie Theater.

And with its self-titled debut album, this Rabbit won’t thump-off anytime soon.

The album opens up with “Everything is Alright,” an optimistic tune that could set the scene for a Wes Anderson film opening. The song starts with a catchy keyboard jingle, which is soon accompanied by violist Alana Rolfe (Stella Luce), providing a dimension of orchestration not often seen from rock bands.

“Sink Like A Stone,” perhaps the strongest track on the album, showcases vocalist/guitarist Chris Anderson’s earnest, yet swanky, musical style as he croons over a guitar rift fit for a sleazy motel in all the right ways.

A slow ballad on the album, “Honey” flaunts the musicianship and pure melodic genius shown in Rolfe and Anderson’s chemistry. The violin, which plays throughout the song, has a full and haunting sound, providing the melody of an entire string ensemble. Anderson, occasionally backed by Rolfe’s vocals, throws perfect tone and a begging cry into an emotionally packed song.

Though Fierce Bad Rabbit is musically gifted in more ways than one, “Love Keeps Us Tough” displays Anderson’s lyrical craftsmanship of simple, effective lines, like, “And we’re all alright, in our own way.”

Though not metaphorically thought provoking, the lyrics written by the band are simple and meaningful.

For a band formed in early 2009, Fierce Bad Rabbit deserves the name it has already made for itself. With an eight-song debut as strong as theirs, it begs the question how far down does the Rabbit hole go?

Music reviewer Ian Mahan can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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Futuristic thriller falls far short of expectations

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Sep 302009
 
Authors: Laura James

In a future full of avatar robots, what could possibly go wrong? Enter the world of “Surrogates” — a new awesomely bad Bruce Willis gem.

Based off the 2006 graphic novel “The Surrogates,” the new action/thriller falls short of Director Jonathan Mostow’s works, which include “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “U-571.” “Surrogates” is by far the worse of the three.

The movie takes place in a not-so-distant future in which robots controlled by human minds stand in place for actual human beings in everyday life — the idea being that these surrogates provide the ultimate degree of safety.

With a surrogate, people can do whatever they wish without consequence to your actual body. These mechanical surrogates reap the penalties of whatever risky behavior they engage in.

Needless to say, these surrogates are aesthetically perfect and have technologically advanced survival skills. It’s like a mash-up of “I, Robot” and “The Island.”

In a future, where 90 percent of people function in their daily life through a surrogate, what’s a cop to do when a weapon that destroys both surrogate and operator simultaneously is discovered?

Enter Willis as Greer, a cop down on his luck since the death of his son in a car accident before the use of surrogates for children. Greer hasn’t seen a real homicide, that is, a murder that included the death of a surrogate’s operator, in almost 20 years.

The most obvious culprits would be anyone living on one of the designated “humans only” areas set up across the country. Disturbed by the idea of living in perpetual virtual reality, some humans have decided to live their lives without the use of surrogates.

These anti-robot people now live as second-class citizens in dilapidated “reservations” on the outskirts of most major cities. Ving Rhames cameos as the strange Rastafarian-looking prophet who leads the anti-robot movement.

The film quickly turns into a combination of a “whodunit” and an allegorical tale about the dangers of avatar life.

At a whopping 88 minutes, it’s as if the producers knew it was going to suck long before its release. Skip it. Unless of course you’re a Sims addict, in which case, you desperately need the wake up call this film proclaims.

Movie reviewer Laura James can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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Meme edition: The best of the Internet [VIDEO]

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Sep 302009
 
Authors: Glen Pfeiffer, Ryan Gibbons

Let’s start off with a quick definition of the term “Internet meme” — pay attention class. We will use Wikipedia’s definition because this is not a research paper in which such a travesty would be so greatly frowned upon.

Internet meme: “A phrase used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet.”

These aren’t to be confused with viral videos, which also spread quickly but do not usually hold the Interwebz’s attention for very long, as memes do. Memes have been around since the initial popularity of chat rooms in the 90s, so some are almost a decade and a half old./

Need examples to illustrate what we’re talking about? We’re talking about things like Rickrolling, LOLcats and “All your base are belong to us,” to name a few of our favorites.

If you don’t know what these examples are, skip down to the contact info at the end and let us know, so we can set up some kind of Internet education seminar for you (OK, we kid. But, really, if you haven’t been Rickrolled you’re missing out)./

Let’s move quickly now to the point of the column: Where do these ridiculous, yet hilarious, memes come from? An uninformed guess might be that it’s merely word of mouth and the sharing of links online, but that’s inaccurate./

Once a concept is deemed hilarious by enough people, it spreads by word of mouth. But someone must be out there, constantly swimming through the Internet in order to find these things. Who are they?

They are the people who spend all their time on the Internet, of course, and where do they cyber-congregate? Forums — the one place that nerds on the computer have always felt at home and in good company (despite probably being alone at the computer).

And what do they amuse themselves with? Pranking each other, pranking the rest of the world and sharing funny stuff with each other.

Since these forum users are generally major computer nerds, pre-YouTube (and especially 90s) memes tended to be focused more on things which only geeks would find funny (like bad Japanese translations, e.g. “All your base are belong to us,” from an old 8-bit video game)./

Since most memes today are video-based, thanks to YouTube and the content is user-generated, it appeals more to the humor of the masses. The “Rickroll” is a perfect modern-day example.

The meme is a classic bait and switch that all started when a 4chan forum member posted a link to the new, highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto 4 trailer. Those who clicked the link were instead treated to the music video of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which is easily the best music video of all time . dare we say better than Beyonce’s?/

The trend quickly spread to the masses, and on April Fools Day 2008, all of YouTube’s front page “featured videos” section linked to the music video. During the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade later that year Rick himself made a special appearance halfway through a song./// / /

Believe us, we could probably spend days or weeks nostalgically remembering old memes. In fact, this was a terrible column topic — we almost didn’t get this written because we spent too much time looking at a Dipity.com timeline of all the major memes in Internet history./

If you have about six hours (at minimum) to spare, we highly recommend visiting the timeline at http://www.dipity.com/tatercakes/Internet_Memes. Chances are you if you browse around, you will come to understand a joke or two you didn’t get before because you weren’t privy to a certain meme./

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer are never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. They can be reached at verve@collegian.com (O RLY?).

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New Belgium going strong in weak economy

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Sep 302009
 
Authors: Aaron Hedge

Little Turner Williams presses his face against the glass in the window overlooking a conveyor belt that is moving 700 bottles of New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale each minute and exclaims in amazement.

The toddler from Indiana sits atop his father’s right shoulder as the Williams’ look at the brewing company’s bottling room after the family members who are old enough –/Tony, the father, and Meredith, the mother — tasted some New Belgium’s finest.

Tuesday represented a normal day in the life of the company, which, despite the current national economic downturn, continues to expand and now distributes to nearly half the country.

Marie Kirkpatrick, the tour guide for Tuesday’s 2 p.m. leads the crowd through the brewery’s complex underbelly that illustrates its massive line of brewing apparatus, stops at intervals throughout the tour and fills a line of about 20 glasses with various brews for the group to taste.

Kirkpatrick, who has been there for four years, is one of many New Belgium employees who hold stake in the company as an owner.

After a year of employment, every employee there meets with the higher ups in the brewery to discuss whether or not they should become an honorary owner, said Tyler Foos, a five-year employee who came to New Belgium after ending a career in banking in Wisconsin.

“A lot of our philosophy is rooted in that,” Foos said, adding later, “As an employee-owned company, we’re the stakeholders.”

Kirkpatrick is another owner who started working for New Belgium half a decade ago and one of many company employees who had no prior experience in the brewing industry.

“I put my marketing degree to good use driving fork lifts,” she said of her start with New Belgium.

That seems to be the mode of operations, according to several people who work for the business.

Brian Callahan, an employee who started working for founders Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan soon after the company started brewing in the early 1990s, has been there since he was hired, even after trying to leave.

“Jeff and Kim said to him, ‘No Brian, you can’t leave. We need you here,'” Kirkpatrick tells the crowd during the tour.

Callahan is now the “director of fun” at the company, and ensures that, if people are having a rough day in the offices on the top floor of the building, they take a break to utilize the spiral slide that goes from Floor 2 to Floor 1.

Brewery continues to expand while reducing carbon footprint

The concept of New Belgium began with 32-year-old Lebesch on a 1989 bike ride through Belgium, where he discovered a robust and mature beer culture that he wanted to bring back to Fort Collins.

And that’s what he did.

A couple of weeks after returning to the states after a trip through Europe, the electrical engineer set up a brew system in his basement where he created the now celebrated brews of Fat Tire and Abbey Ale.

After a hike with Jordan through Rocky Mountain National Park to brainstorm a strategic business model with a growler full of his new creation and a notepad, he teamed up with Jordan, who became the financial brains behind the company.

And now the company employs nearly 400 people from all walks of life and continues to expand its marketing initiatives, serving a total of 22 states nationwide as the third largest draft brewing company in the United States.

The company operates under a pretense of continuously reducing its carbon footprint, functioning as the only brewery in the country that operates solely from wind power.

This mind set is driven home to employees.

New Belgium’s parking lot is segregated by gas mileage –/any car that operates off of fewer than 40 miles to the gallon has to be parked at the end farthest away from the building.

Sales are doing well, according to employees, thanks to local liquor stores and a lasting appreciation of drinking culture in Fort Collins.

“People are choosing to not go out to restaurants,” Foos said. “At the same time, they’re are still drinking. They’re still consuming.”

One tour and six beers

Christopher Dobbs, a St. Louis resident whose son studied geology at CSU, then moved back home to discover a strong passion for home brewing, sits in the brewery’s private tasting room after downing a few goblets of the company’s more expensive samples and says the company and others like it provide an essential service to society.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” he said, quoting the famous adage from Benjamin Franklin.

When at home, the recently retired beer connoisseur spends time in his kitchen brewing his own flavors and giving his son advice on how to perfect his brews.

He was fascinated by New Belgium’s process, which he said, with the exception of production scale, was no different than the home brewing process.

“It’s the same as what I do at home, but they have bigger machines,” Dobbs says over a glass of Transatlantique Kreik, an 8 percent alcohol beer made from Polish cherries. This one is Kirkpatrick’s favorite.

The ingredients that mix together and turn into beer flow through a complex, two-story system of tanks and mashing and mixing machines into wooden kegs where it sits for extended periods of time.

Volunteering for Kirkpatrick halfway through the tour, Tony Williams stands in front of the tour group to pour the brewery’s La-Folie, a sour red ale that sits in French oak kegs that formerly served as housing for aging French wine.

“Just don’t fill it to the brim,” Kirkpatrick says.

Turning to the crowd, she warns them not to down the entire glass of sharp-tasting beverage at once.

“This will be a shock to the pallet,” she says. “Three sips is the key.”

The drinkers take three small sips of the liquid that runs between $15 and $20 a bottle in Fort Collins liquor stores.

The Williams’ two toddlers, Turner and Berkeley, look on as the adults on the tour polish off the last of their beverages.

After the tour is over, getting ready to enter the bar just inside the front door and enjoy a few more glasses, Dobbs says brewing is a pervasive element in his life after his recent retirement.

“When you have cookies baking in the kitchen, your house smells delicious,” Dobbs said. “It’s the same when you’re brewing beer.”

Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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Rams squeak by rival UNC

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Sep 302009
 
Authors: Keith Robertson

Last season the CSU volleyball team (11-3) beat their sisters from across the interstate in four sets, but last night it took the Rams all five sets they were allowed to finish off Northern Colorado (9-7).

“Any win can be taken from any team at any day,” said setter Evan Sanders. “You got to find a way to win and we did that tonight.”

The first set was the battle the two teams expected and ended 25-23 in favor of the Rams.

The Rams hold the height and talent advantage and proved it by having almost double the kill percentage than UNC. But the first set was won with stellar defense – the Rams out-blocked the Bears 4.5-1.

The main issue all night was mistakes. The Rams held themselves even in attacking errors, but had three more service errors than UNC, allowing the Bears to get back into the match.

That momentum found its way into the second set. CSU was out-blocked by two in the second, and their attacking errors jumped from five to 13. They made a late rally and eventually tied it up at 21, but poor play at the net and a wild kill by UNC’s Kelly Arnold ended the set.

Frustration set in on the Rams, and redshirt freshman Megan Plourde used it to her advantage. After the match she walked to the locker room with 13 kills, two blocks and more minutes on the floor than she was used to.

“I was getting blocked from them (UNC), and I guess I just it was getting me more pumped up. I wanted to kill it,” Plourde said.

The third was more of the same. The Rams started out dominant, going on a five-point run and nabbing a 16-10 advantage, but silly Bears always steal the picnic basket.

UNC came back and tied the game at 22, however, with a great save by Dana Cranston that almost landed her in the student section, the Rams were able to put two more on the board and walk away with a 2-1 advantage.

“I really thought we were going to win after we went up by two,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “I don’t think we played with a great deal of maturity.”

Pushed to four sets, both teams were fired up. However, it was the Bears who made the plays to win the set. The Rams were forced to bring in senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson to amp up the defense, and she did.

Nelson was part of three critical blocks in the fourth set, but it just wasn’t enough, and the Rams lost a squeaker set 25-21.

In the final set each team had its chances to celebrate, but when the score was tied at 13 the air thickened with tension. After a service error, the Rams and Bears met for a melee at the net with the Rams coming out victorious, winning the final set 15-13.

The bright smile and intense attitude of senior Jacque Davisson was present as always and her 16 kills and two service aces made up a big slice of victory pie.

“Jacque, to me, was out stalwart. She was our stalwart Ram,” Hilbert said. “She just kept battling.”

Hilbert said this was the best UNC team he has ever seen, but his team can’t give the other one points. The Rams had a total of 12 service errors and were called for more net infractions than normal.

“You can’t really blame that on anything. The fact is, we just did it,” Hilbert said. “The message I want to send to the team is this is not indicative of the way we have been playing.”

The Rams look to extend their winning streak to eight tomorrow as the Rams travel north to face boarder rival Wyoming.

Volleyball beat reporter Keith Robertson can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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RamTalk

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Sep 302009
 
Authors: Compiled Heidi Reitmeier

To the guy holding up the “honk for clean energy” sign in the middle of the plaza: I applaud your effort.

The secret to not get infected with swine flu: Gummy bear vitamins.

To the kid giving his friend advice about how to get a girl: You look like Adam Sandler with a voice like Chris Farley and a laugh like PeeWee Herman. You know nothing about getting girls.

Always make sure all the soap is off your face before you take a swig of your shower beer.

You know your love life sucks when you give up your virginity to a guy in hopes that he will ask you out — and then he doesn’t.

It’s sad that I get my daily dose of calcium and vitamin C from drinks I use as chasers for my alcohol.

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Our view: No more sexcapades froshies

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Sep 302009
 
Authors:

OK, we get it. We’ve all been freshmen.

No longer than 15 minutes after parents drop off the newly independent Ramblings, they bolt for the Wellness Zone for free condoms and lube.

Although we have no proof, we all know that freshman, excluding Engineering majors, hump like bunnies. And dang, most of you are frisky.

Anyone who’s lived in a residence hall has been, or known some who’s been, sexiled/–/exiled by a sexing roommate.

An unlucky few, however, have walked in on a roomie pants down with a significant other. Or have been awakened by the back and forth sea-like motion of a bunkmate in the throes of passionate lovemaking.

One university —- Tufts in Massachusetts — has finally taken a stand against this debauchery.

The East Coast institution has banned students from committing the act of sex in dorm rooms while his or her roommate is in the room, along with barring sexiling.

Finally somebody has the balls to stand up to these nude wrongdoers by telling them where to stuff it. Or rather, where not to stuff it.

So we challenge you, frosh, keep it in your pants at least when the roommate’s around.

Be respectful to your fellow living partner because it’s rude, and Facebook exists as forum for indecent photos.

Class it up, CSU. Or at least move the sex to the shower.

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Cans Around The Oval helps the truly needy

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Sep 302009
 
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

“Victoria means victory, you know,” she called to me as we completed our interview. She said it in a most hopeful way, almost as if to say, “this wasn’t supposed to be me.”

After having gotten to know “Victoria,” I learned that it had to be her, because sometimes the challenges thrown into a person’s life would be too much for many of us to bear. During our interview, I asked her if she’d ever thought about giving up. “Sure, I’ve thought about it, but where would that leave me?” she said. Sometimes giving up just isn’t an option.

I met Victoria on campus last week to talk about her experience as a student here at CSU, and I was unprepared for the reality campus life had sheltered me from.

At the part of the semester when many of us are beginning to consider studying, the talk of the Athletic Department’s successes and craze over Greek hazing has died down — Victoria is re-examining her graduation date; “two more years,” she says. By most calculations, this would make her a sophomore of around 20 or 21 years old and maybe living off-campus and away from the parental units for the first time.

That is until you find out that Victoria is not just an excited student and amazing person, but a single mom as well. “At the tender young age of 48,” as she says, she’s trying to complete her degree for the third time over a period that has spanned nearly 30 years.

During that time, she’s raised a son while working, survived the passing of her mother, faced her own health issues and still managed to find time to smile and find the good things in life. When we met, the last thing she wanted to do was complain or be negative. But the truth is, according to Victoria, that “as a single parent you have to wear a lot of hats . and sometimes, you have to take on even more to make sure you don’t let your situation carry over to your kid.”

I wanted to talk to Victoria about her experiences because this time last year, the economy was just beginning its decline.

If you’ve been on campus for a fall semester you probably know about Cans Around the Oval and the Hunger Banquet. This year, what we do here on campus to make Cans Around the Oval a success may affect more people than ever before.

They are students who can’t quite make ends meet because they make just more than the income limits to get federal assistance, they are graduate students who weren’t able to get assistantships and have had to take on the costs of mandatory health insurance themselves and they are single dads and moms who have been laid off and are hoping to make a career change.

They are students and community members just like us and Victoria for whom quitting isn’t an option. The people we can help are not “those” people, or as one person said, “free-loaders on the system.” Some of the people we help are our classmates and staff members in our offices. We are helping our fellow Rams.

And that’s what community is about, right? Looking out for and taking care of one another when we can. I’ve never myself been on a food assistance program, and I’ll likely never know how hard it truly is to raise a family while working and going to school. But I know we are lucky to be a part of a community of 25,000 strong — let’s not forget what that means. I did look up the meaning of “Victoria.”

Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student in environmental and radiological health sciences. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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