‘I Am Sam’ good choice for Valentine’s Day

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Jan 302002

(Four Stars out of Five)

“I Am Sam” is a good choice of a movie to see, especially as a date movie with Valentine’s Day right around the corner.

Sean Penn stars as Sam Dawson, a mentally disabled man who raises his young daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning) on his own with little help from the outside world. Lucy’s mother left the day that she was released from the hospital after Lucy’s birth. Dawson is a caring, successful parent, at least until the time when Lucy turns seven and begins to become smarter than her father. Lucy also endures ridicule from her classmates. At this point, Child Protective Services takes Lucy away.

Dawson wants to keep Lucy and plans to find a lawyer to help fight to get her back. This is when he meets Rita Harris (Michelle Pfeiffer), a self-absorbed divorce and custody lawyer who doesn’t take Dawson’s case out of pity, but instead to prove to her aristocratic friends and co-workers that she does have a heart. Ironically, she has a 7-year-old son, but her bond with him is not near the connection Dawson shares with his daughter. Harris tries to make her son happy by buying him the latest toys, instead of spending time with him.

While Penn’s performance is commendable, this is a role we have seen before. Dustin Hoffman did a better job as the mentally disabled Raymond Babbitt in “Rain Man.” Hoffman’s calm acting and monotone voice earned him a deserved Oscar, while Penn’s performance, while not as skillful, is still compelling. Penn will probably earn an Oscar nomination.

Pfeiffer’s supporting role is also not quite as original as Tom Cruise’s role as Charlie Babbitt in “Rain Man.” Cruise played a villain who gradually turns around to love the brother he originally sought to take advantage of. Cruise’s metamorphosis into a caring person is much more subtle than Pfeiffer’s sudden and less believable breakdown when she realizes she is living a flawed and materialistic life.

There was some really heinous product placement in this movie. Companies from Starbucks to Pizza Hut were featured so much, it seems their products were shoved down your throat. There was even a close-up shot for Tab Cola. I guess movies are not getting any cheaper to make these days, but I wonder how much writers have to change a script in a movie like this in order to accommodate advertisers.

All in all, “I Am Sam” is a decent movie though. It succeeds in tugging your heartstrings. The interaction between Sam Dawson and his daughter looks genuine, and it was the best part of the movie by far. Dakota Fanning’s debut performance as Lucy is great. Hopefully, she has a longer and more prosperous career than other child actors.

Another good thing about the movie was Laura Dern’s cameo appearance as Lucy’s future stepmother Randy Carpenter. The wide variety of creative camera shots and slow-speed takes that director of photography Elliot Davis chose were also excellent.

The movie was a little longer than it should have been, especially in the courtroom scenes, but it isn’t so long that you’ll fall asleep. The ending is a bit surprising so I won’t spoil it, but I left the theater feeling a little bit more satisfied than I had expected from a serious movie like this. n

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Simplicity and realism characterize new play

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Jan 302002

The Black Box’s newest theater production, “The Dining Room,” opened Wednesday and will be running through Sunday.

A.R. Gurney Jr.’s screenplay, “The Dining Room,” focuses not on one single story, but instead, a variety of stories in one single room – the dining room. This play involves 18 different scenes flowing in a reverse chronology, spanning from the present to as far back as 70 years.

“This is not a play about a dining room,” Director Sotirios Livaditis said. “This is not a play about dishes and food; it’s about people.”

Directing his first production, junior Sotirios “Steven” Livaditis chose nine cast members (all CSU students) to fill the roles of the 59 different characters involved in the production.

“He is one of the most professional (directors) that I’ve worked with,” said Travis Risner, a cast member of “The Dining Room.” “He wants our input, too; that’s really refreshing.”

Although this is his directing debut, Livaditis previously acted in six CSU theater productions, and currently practices his upcoming role in “Pirates of Penzance,” the next production showing at the main student theater located in Johnson Hall.

The Black Box Theatre, also located in Johnson Hall, resembles nothing more than a black box with a small stage seating about 75 people.

“It’s a cozy little place…sometimes people are looking for (something) a little more real,” Livaditis said. “It’s not really the most glamorous theatre in America; (it has) a more gritty view.”

Livaditis explained the success of past shows at the Black Box Theatre usually boasts full audiences in attendance.

“Because it is a small space, it will usually sell out,” Livaditis said. “Most of the time you have to turn people away.”

Livaditis, along with his 17 crew members, worked eight-hour days in order to complete six weeks of rehearsal in four weeks time. This dedicated and talented team hopes to compel audiences by simply delivering humanity and all of its imperfections entirely through one set.

“This play is trying to show people the many different levels of the human condition. I can’t be perfect, I can’t do everything right; that’s what I learned from this play,” Livaditis said. “I think it’s important for people to see this.” n

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MSTies Anonymous returns to CSU

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Jan 302002

The MSTies Anonymous of Colorado, a group of fans dedicated to the now-defunct program, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), will be hosting three events at CSU this spring.

On Feb. 22, the MSTies will present “MST3K Monster II: the Quickening” which will feature Episode #302 “Gamera” and Episode #904 “Werewolf.” On March 29, “Shorts II Attack of the Joe Namath Netted Slingshot Brief” will be shown; this is a collection of all kinds of short MST3K films. The final big show for the semester will be on April 26. This one will be called “MST3K Omega” and will include Episode #512 “Mitchell” and Episode #1013 “Diabolik.”

MST3K, which aired its final episode on August 8, 1999, featured Joel Robinson (later replaced by Mike Nelson), as a man trapped in space with his homemade robots, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. The trio is forced to sit in a theater and watch the worst movies ever made, sent to them by their evil captors back on Earth. Robinson and his two cohorts throw insults at the screen with their wry and sarcastic humor that never disappoints the MSTies.

MST3K debuted on UHF channel KTMA TV23 in Minneapolis, Minn., on Thanksgiving Day in 1988. “Turkey Day” has become a sort of a holiday for MSTies with Comedy Central airing 24-36 hour marathons on “Turkey Day” in the past.

MSTies Anonymous is a worldwide, Internet-based fan club of MST3K, founded in September 1995. Co-founder Nathan Heckle, a third year computer science major here at CSU, and MSTies Anonymous Poobah said the group gets together every week and watches episodes of the program. With a turnout of about 40 people a week, there is room for lots of candid and colorful discussion of the members’ most memorable moments and favorite parts of the show.

This now truly international club got its beginnings on the XBAND Video Game Network in the fall of 1995. During a chat after a game of Super Street Fighter II, the XBAND club MSTies Anonymous was born. Even before the club listing was published in XBAND News from the service, there were 17 members. From these humble beginnings, a phenomenon of global proportions has grown. The MSTies Anonymous fan club has over 1,500 members in over a dozen countries from Australia to Aruba, Poland to Taiwan. In Colorado alone, there are over 300 members.

In addition to hosting their events, MSTies hold weekly meetings.

All of the events are free and open to anyone. The weekly meetings are at the Lory Student Center at 7 p.m. Fridays in the Senate Chambers. n

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Hoops head to hostile territory

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Jan 302002

The CSU women’s basketball team will be facing five uniformed New Mexico Lobos at a time Thursday night in Albuquerque. There might be another 17,000 there in street clothes.

The Rams will put their perfect conference record on the line when they face the Lobos in UNM’s home arena, The Pit.

To emerge 6-0 in conference, CSU (16-3 overall, 5-0 Mountain West Conference) will have to win at The Pit, one of the most hostile home environments in the MWC and an arena where the Rams haven’t won since 1998.

“The biggest challenge is to communicate,” CSU assistant coach Nikki Collen said. “As a coaching staff, you can’t always signal in plays with a crowd that loud. It’s up to the players to know what’s going on.”

Aside from the crowd, UNM will also have a strong inside game on its side. The Lobos’ (15-5. 4-2) post is keyed by 6-foot-3 junior center Jordan Adams, who stands at No. 5 in MWC scoring with 15.1 points a game.

CSU junior center Shannon Strecker, recently recovered from a shoulder injury, will have the task of handling Adams. Fellow junior center Lisa Narkiewicz likely won’t be available to the Rams as she battles a sprained ankle, leaving the Rams without their usual post tandem.

“My number one concern is making sure (Adams) doesn’t take over the game,” Strecker said. “I’ve been going full speed in practice the last couple of days. (The shoulder) should still be a little sore, but I can’t worry about that.”

Collen said the team is confident Strecker will be up to the task.

“She’s the better defensive player (of our two posts),” Collen said of Strecker. “We lose a little bit of offense with Lisa because she’s effective on the perimeter as well as the low block. Joy Jenkins has given us solid minutes as a backup post, so we’re not worried about it.”

While the Lobos are big inside, the Rams’ offense has become more complete. Once considered a team that solely relies on perimeter shooting, CSU has seen strengths develop inside as well as out.

“We’re not forcing three’s when they’re not there, and we’re finding we can just as easily drive to the hoop,” junior forward Jackie Campbell said. “Our game is finally becoming all-around, we’re not just relying on the three. We need to get our posts more involved.”

The Rams will need a good all-around game to defeat the Lobos in the 42nd meeting between the teams. CSU holds an all-time advantage of 24-17, with the last victory coming in the semi-finals of last year’s MWC Tournament, 70-65.

The Rams will travel from Albuquerque to Colorado Springs to play the Air Force Falcons on Saturday. The Falcons (4-14, 0-5) have struggled all season, but can cause headaches on any given night.

“They took Utah to nine points in the Mountain West tournament last year,” Assistant Coach Carter Shaw said. “That’s what they can do. Night in and night out, they can’t, but they’re capable.”

Air Force was a Division II program until six years ago and hasn’t seen much success since the switch. Leading the Falcons is sophomore forward Amoy Jackson, who averages 11 points and 5.6 rebounds a game.

“They play in an unorthodox manner,” Shaw said. “Their speed’s different, they have a different talent level and that creates problems.”

History says the Rams should emerge victorious. CSU hasn’t dropped a decision to Air Force since 1990. n

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Busch looks at Cornell, Harvard and Yale

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Jan 302002

Last fall, the CSU football team dealt with a problematic situation on offense, a dilemma that pitted two very different quarterbacks against one another in competition for the starting role.

Sophomore D.J. Busch, who started the first three games before losing the spot to fellow sophomore Bradlee Van Pelt, decided after the football season ended in December that Colorado State was the not the program for him. Busch opted not to return and withdrew from CSU prior to the spring semester.

“I just felt this was the best for me to do, to move on,” said Busch, who is currently back home in Santee, Calif. “It was almost like bad timing for me all last season.”

Prior to last season, head coach Sonny Lubick and his staff refused to name the starting quarterback until right before the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown between CSU and instate rival University of Colorado. Lubick called upon Busch, who backed up Matt Newton during the 2000 season, before the game, which the Rams lost 41-14.

Busch started the following two games, an easy 35-18 win over Nevada and a frustrating 14-7 loss to San Diego State, before Lubick decided a change was needed. Busch, a prototypical dropback pocket passer, calmly accepted the demotion, while the scrambly, option-running Van Pelt took over as the Rams’ play caller.

Busch relieved Van Pelt in the Rams’ fourth game, a 42-14 blowout of Wyoming, but would not play for the remainder of the regular season. His last time on the field in a CSU uniform was again in relief of Van Pelt during the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 18, 2001 when the Rams blew past North Texas, 45-20.

Busch said he has been contacting Ivy League schools, and has spoken with the football coaches at Cornell, Harvard and Yale. Ivy League schools are Division 1-AA, which would allow Busch to play upon transferring; Division 1-A schools, such as CSU, require that transfer athletes redshirt a year before playing.

Busch claimed his talks with Cornell were very promising.

“I’m just waiting for recruiting, scholarship decision and the signing period to end before deciding on anything,” Busch said.

Van Pelt, perhaps one of the most exciting players CSU football has ever fielded, will likely return as the starting quarterback for CSU when the Rams start spring ball in late March. However, freshman Justin Holland, a Bear Creek High School product and one of the most heralded recruits in CSU history, has impressed the coaches during his redshirt season and will be given ample opportunity to challenge Van Pelt.

Lubick, along with senior wideout Pete Rebstock, is in Hawaii for the annual Hula Bowl and was unavailable for comment. n

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College=career options

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Jan 302002

When I attended the Career Fair last week, my hope in finding an enjoyable career was restored. Before I went to the fair, I thought my only job opportunities immediately after graduation were to take a job waiting tables and then search for my career. It didn’t seem possible to me to actually find something I would enjoy right away. Therefore, it was an eye-opener when I learned of all the enjoyable things I could do with my college degree. Regardless of the positions I founded at the fair, I learned a valuable lesson about why I am in college and how far I have come in my career journey.

For anyone who has attended the fair knows there are many entry-level management-training programs out there. These programs will take any college graduate and train them to be managers, well, with the right skills and cover letter. When the program is complete, you have the opportunity to move up the white-collar ladder and make lots of money.

I had never heard of these programs and found them to be quite common in the competitive corporate world. Some programs were two years, others were more, but the benefits were still the same. Become a manager and make lots of money. When I thought of this concept more, I realized this is why many people come to college.

It seems like a basic concept, but is really quite profound to think about. College graduates become an elite group of people in the world. Our education has allotted us an endless possibility of career choices. We can become doctors, lawyers, factory owners, and to some end, corporate executives. The possibilities are endless. We have a power that many take for granted, a privilege to choose a career path for ourselves, and not let society or the economy do it for us.

These management programs and job options are not open to all working people, though. Only those who have received a college degree can have these jobs. Those who do not have the magic degree covet these jobs and take the limited positions that are available to them. The college degree allows us to have the “one-up” in the job market and to become managers early on in our career.

Things are a lot different where I come from. I am from a working class, blue-collar community that does not look fondly upon their white-collar bosses. I have younger family members, who have graduated high school, that base job decisions on whether or not a prospective employer requires a drug test. College graduates do not have to worry about these things. Rather, we are bosses and do not have to worry about things like drug tests.

Now I am not criticizing anyone’s life choices, nor trying to over generalize, rather comparing what my life would be like without college. I would have to start at the bottom and work my way to a better position, but may never find true career satisfaction.

Not everyone has the college opportunity, but those who do, think about what your life would be like without it. Would you still be able to find happiness? Is making a lot of money the reason you are in college? Or does a college education further your own pursuit of genuine happiness?

Whatever the case may be, I hope you all find your reason and never forget what your life would be like without your college degree.

Ben is a senior is Speech Communication. All he wants to do after graduation is DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!

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History isn’t history in NJ

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Jan 302002

On the front page of the Washington Times on Monday was a story about how the New Jersey Department of Education recently revised its history standards and decided not to include the names of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the new teaching requirements. The Department’s reasoning for these omissions was that teachers already know they have to teach about those figures.

We agree that teachers should know these are required figures to discuss. What we do not agree with is the erasing of names from history books, regardless of how well known the subjects are. History is history. We owe it to ourselves and our future children to preserve history in its entirety.

Also omitted were the words “Pilgrim,” “Mayflower” and “war,” which was replaced with “conflict.” Apparently, the N.J. educators, as well as educators in Virginia and Indiana, felt the term Pilgrim should be excluded because it implied religion, and instead the Pilgrims are referred to as early settlers, early Europeans, European colonizers or newcomers. Of course Pilgrims imply religion – they came to America for the sole purpose of avoiding religious persecution in England. We agree that it is important to maintain separation of church and state, but it is equally important for children to learn by whom our country was founded, without letting political correctness warp the birth of America.

The replacement of ‘war’ by ‘conflict,’ we believe, is also a case of political correctness run amok. Also left out were a majority of references to cruel and inhumane treatment of American soldiers endured overseas during the 20th century. However, the standards made a point that students should identify slavery, the Holocaust and modern Iraq as examples “in which people have behaved in cruel and inhumane ways.” Yes, we need to learn about how Americans unfairly treated African-Americans and how Nazis were evil, but it is also crucial to remember how our forefathers suffered for numerous just causes. Why attempt to shield children from the harsher points of history when they see violence every day on their televisions and in their own streets? We believe that all children should be exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly of history. After all, it’s their history, too.

Teach the truth – the future of our country and the world will be better for it.

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News, politics, and Alan Keyes: Make sense?

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Jan 302002

For many journalists, political nights like the State of the Union address are our version of the Super Bowl.

As much of a pain as it is to sit in front of a television or be forced to undergo vigorous security to watch in person, I think journalists love covering those big events. The power is attractive, and the whole thing is so appealing – the exposure, the deadlines, the analysis.

I used to watch State of the Union speeches with my family and not understand much more than the facts: Reagan = bad; Bush 41 = bad; Clinton = good.

I change my mind all the time about our fearless leader – for the most part, I like him lots more than I used to – but one thing has remained constant the whole time: this stuff is really entertaining.


They haven’t been getting as much interesting or amusing press as their rivals, Fox News and CNN, have been recently.

I mean, Paula Zahn might be “a little sexy” and all, and sure, the Greta Van Susteren – Connie Chung switcheroo is interesting, but what about “The Leader in Cable News”?

They have a new show called “Alan Keyes Is Making Sense.” Therein lies the problem.

MSNBC already has “Hardball.” Do they really need another partisan political pundit show?

Plus, Chris Matthews is fantastic. Keyes, a failed Republican presidential candidate, is just annoying. Has anyone else seen that hideous cardigan sweater he’s wearing in the TV house ads?

Though Matthews worked for such liberal giants as President Jimmy Carter (as a speechwriter) and Speaker Tip O’Neill (as his top aide), he’s established himself as a fair, nonpartisan journalist, at least by cable news standards. He has a lot of fun with his show, and he doesn’t take any crap, which is why he and “Hardball” are popular. Keyes, on the other hand, fills his new slot with such drivel as the abolishment of the federal income tax and why it’s a great idea. He grins a lot and invites viewer responses, but don’t be surprised when Alan Keyes starts making sense somewhere else.

Greta Van Sufferin’

Give me a break. The New York Times reports that CNN’s erstwhile “Burden of Proof” host, Greta Van Susteren, jetted Ted Turner’s network for greener pastures because CNN /_” gasp – HURT HER FEELINGS. Oh, my.

As Jack Shafer of Slate says, if you’re planning to quit your job every time the bosses violate one of your deeply held journalistic principles, make sure to update your resume daily. You’ll need it.

Shafer also dutifully reports on just what those witches at CNN did to poor Greta, short of sticking her in an oven:

/_/ They under-promoted her, giving lots of house ad time to newbies Aaron Brown and Paula Zahn. (Greta should talk to Paula about the latter’s beef with the CNN bigs.)

/_/ They gave her a show named after her, called “The Point With Greta Van Susteren,”and programmed it as a lead-in to Larry King Live, CNN’s No. 1 show, making Greta No. 2. Somebody call a waaaaaaa-mbulance!

/_/ Labeling her “second-class citizen” once and for all, Greta didn’t get an invite to the White House Christmas party, Well, neither did I. Sniff, sniff.

Dick Cheney

Would you buy a used car from this man?

If you’ve done nothing wrong, you let the American people know. If your used car is broken, you let your buyer know. If your company is about to go bankrupt, you let your employees know. Right?

Becky is a senior or a junior majoring in journalism and history. She thinks Bush 43 is morphing into a Jack Kennedy clone. Send her your opinions on POTUS or any other government acronyms.

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O.A.R. proves to be more than just another young band

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Jan 292002

Taking the stage Monday night at the Starlight, the members of O.A.R. resembled those of any run-of-the-mill college band. In fact, bedecked in jeans, tee shirts and Pumas, they even mirrored the style of many of the 400 or so listeners in the audience.

When they began to play, however, their talent betrayed their appearance: they are more than just another young band trying to make it big; they are one that actually could.

The evening began with Chicago-based band Left Undone, a last minute addition to the lineup. The jazz-infused first song, accented by Ben Glazer (lead vocals) and his tambourine, prepared the crowd for the meandering evening to come.

The elusive singer/songwriter Howie Day followed with beautifully crafted pieces that employed only Day, his guitar and some loop effects. He effortlessly intertwined his own work from his debut album “Australia,” with covers of Macy Gray and U2.

The main draw for many students, however, was O.A.R., or ‘-of a revolution.’ The band, whose success began at Ohio State University with a unique blend of rock, reggae, ska and folk, has been selling out shows from coast to coast since June.

Opening the over two hour set with the title track from their first album, “The Wanderer,” O.A.R. managed to meld songs from their two older albums, as well as from last year’s “Risen,” into one energy-filled evening.

One of the newer songs, “Hey Girl,” lightheartedly rambled its way along for seven minutes, highlighting drummer Chris Culos’ stylings.

“Black Rock,” from the band’s debut album, remained true to the recorded rendition with melodious vocals from Marc Roberge.

The band dedicated “About Mr. Brown” to Michael Caputo, a friend who passed away, and then took the opportunity to bring things down a notch with a mellow version of “Delicate Few,” leading into U2’s “With or Without You.”

“I Feel Home,” a gem off their second album, “Souls Aflame,” again showcased Roberge’s fluid vocals, while providing the audience a chance to rest and regain energy.

That energy was much needed for the last song, O.A.R.’s well-known “That Was a Crazy Game of Poker.” The song, while packing less punch that its recorded version, provided Jerry DePizzo (saxophone), Benj Gershman (bass guitar) and Richard On (lead guitar) with a chance to shine with intricate instrumentals.

The quirky song quickly transpired its contagious energy throughout the crowd and before long, you could hear the audience singing over Roberge.

O.A.R. will play tonight at the Boulder Theater before leaving Colorado for a stint in the Pacific Northwest.

Should these shows continue in the tradition of Monday night, O.A.R. may soon find that they are the next big thing. n

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Boulder-based Celestial Seasonings offers popular tea tours and a rich history

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Jan 292002

The aroma of herbs and spices overwhelms the senses as you enter the Celestial Seasonings Tour of Tea. Celestial Seasonings is a world all its own, and the Boulder-based company takes the art of tea making to a level above Ad the ordinary.

Celestial Seasonings began in 1969 in Aspen, where Mo Siegel collected wild herbs by hand and made them into teas. In Boulder that same year, Siegel and his friend Wyck Hay found a bountiful supply of wild herbs that produced the first blend called MO’s 36 Herb tea.

Celestial Seasonings has since grown into the largest herb tea manufacturer in the United States. The company produces 70 different kinds of tea, and sells a total of 1.3 billion tea bags per year.

The company stretches far from its American roots. The ingredients used in Celestial Seasonings teas come from 40 different countries, and they ship the final product to 35 countries.

All Celestial Seasonings tea is produced at the one and only factory in Boulder, visited by over 80,000 tourists every year. Celestial Seasonings packages six million teabags per day and over 4,000 bags per minute. Three kinds of tea are packaged at a time.

“Comfort and health are the main things we try to portray here,” said Mica Kelley, a guest relations specialist at Celestial Seasonings.

The 45-minute tour takes you step-by-step through the process of how the incredible Celestial Seasonings tea is produced. You are able to see the milling process, the black tea room, the peppermint room, the robotic palletizer and the packaging line.

The Peppermint Room is definitely the highlight of the tour. If you need to clear up your sinuses, just enter the room filled with Washington and Oregon grown peppermint and spearmint, and you will be cured.

“The Peppermint Room will knock your socks off and can’t be missed,” Kelley said.

The packaging line shows the quick process of how all the teabags get into the decorated boxes. The art printed on each box of Celestial Seasonings tea is commissioned by the Creative Department. Artists outside the company design pictures for the various types of tea.

However, the picture actually printed on the box is only one-fourth of the whole piece of art. Many of the completed pieces are displayed in the factory’s art gallery.

To top off the tour experience, Celestial Seasonings guests are invited to taste one or many of the 50 varieties available in the tea shop.

One tea to taste is the famous Red Zinger tea, introduced to immediate success in 1972. Red Zinger became famous on the Tonight Show in 1978. It has a distinct taste that is blended to perfection and will never fail to satisfy the taste buds. It is still one of the best-selling Celestial teas.

Celestial Seasonings is a place that should not be missed, so visit and experience the amazing taste of the best tea in North America. n

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