The Vogue Project

The Vogue Project

Imagine sitting down in the cafeteria and instead of reading the news or looking at those triangle things on the table, a new, free, fashion magazine is staring back. Lauren and Julie Christopherson and Kerry Chereskin all came together in hopes of launching a new fashion magazine for MSU. The Vogue Project was their idea to bring a new spin on fashion, interior design and entertainment.

Fashion photography will be featured in the new magazine (photo credit: Abby Herber. Ethical note: this photo has been artistically altered.)

“I thought creating a fashion magazine here would be a great addition to MSU’s campus and would unite many students in different majors around a common interest,” Chereskin said. Chereskin and Christopherson are both advertising majors, but anyone who is interested in fashion can become a part of the magazine. “MSU students from a variety of majors are bringing many talents to the project and filling all the necessary positions,” Christopherson said.

Chereskin and Christopherson are learning that starting up a magazine is a lot of work. Organization is key. “To do this right and put out a magazine that is well-done, we have to be committed and put all of our efforts into it,” Chereskin said. They plan on teaming up with local stores and businesses to advertise, where a majority of the funding will come from until the magazine can be recognized as a student group. “We have definitely put in a lot of time in the beginning stages of this magazine!” Christopherson said. “We are still figuring logistics such as printing costs, advertising, etc. With the help of the staff, we can get this off to a good start and running smoothly!”

Chereskin, the editor-in-chief, said her inspiration for starting The Vogue Project came from her experience with a local campus fashion publication in Miami, Up Magazine. Her writing experience at Up, while the magazine was getting started, gave her great insight into how a magazine runs. With Up in her back pocket and knowledge she gained from attending Teen Vogue seminars, she is fully equipped to handle the start-up of the magazine.

Chereskin has high hopes that The Vogue Project will eventually be seen as an elite fashion magazine on campus. “I hope that the magazine will become a topic of conversation in the fashion community at Michigan State University, offering quality writing and photography that will highlight the latest trends in fashion,” she said. The Vogue Project wants to become a print magazine that is offered free to the students. “The overall goal of The Vogue Project is to inspire students to portray their individual styles in the way they think, act and live,” Christopherson said.

There is a small problem with the name, however. “Vogue” already has a strong affiliation with the current fashion magazine, and the new publication’s founders do not want to compete with that.  The Vogue Project got its name because Vogue meant “in style.” So, while the group will be called The Vogue Project the magazine is still trying to find a name, Christopherson explains. Currently their Facebook group is having a contest for the name and the winner receives a $25 gift card to Urban Outfitters.

Interdisciplinary studies in health senior, Cara Ruggeri is thrilled to have a fashion forward magazine coming to campus. “I’ve always had an interest in anything fashionable,” Ruggeri said. Advertising sophomore, Emily Misko, is also excited for the launch of the magazine. “[It’s] something that I would be very interested in. If I saw it on the racks in halls I would definitely pick it up,” Misko said. She is also excited about the fact that the magazine would be free; “Students are broke enough as it is, they probably wouldn’t pay to take their chances on a new magazine that they may or may not like,” Misko said.

Clothes and style will be a featured in the new magazine (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

The main part of the magazine is from a fashion view point, but it will also feature a section that showcases interior design and ideas for decorating dorm rooms and houses on campus. Ruggeri always enjoys looking at interior design layouts. “It inspires me to make my own house look nice,” Ruggeri said. Misko agreed, “I’m always looking for fun ways to make my apartment look decorated, especially since the Christmas lights just aren’t cutting it.”

Chereskin believes that MSU students would be interested in a fashion-oriented magazine, which she hopes can influence and inspire more students to dress creatively. Business general management sophomore Brody Coplai is excited about the different fashion perspectives he hopes the magazine will bring to the MSU community.  “I see a lot of different fashion types at MSU. Indie [the Urban Outfitters look] seems to always be in as of late, as well as the UGG, North Face and black leggings look for the females. I would be very interested if this magazine showed more creative fashions because people are always interested in finding out the newest trends,” Coplai said.

Misko thinks that most students like to look good and fashion forward while putting as little effort into it as possible. “I think more ideas on how to easily and cheaply, look put together would be beneficial for college students,” she said.
The feedback of a fashion oriented magazine on campus has gotten a lot of positive response from students. There are plenty of fashionable people at MSU who may take interest in this new magazine. As long as the magazine makes itself known, students are bound to show interest. “I have plenty of friends, especially in my sorority, who are always looking through various fashion magazines and I think The Vogue Project will be among those soon enough,” Ruggeri said.

The Vogue Project has already tapped into technology with a Facebook group sporting more than 200 members, and they also update their Twitter account daily. The magazine also wants to offer an online issue letting people blog their thoughts. ‘It’d be nice to hear what students have to say about [the fashions], hopefully encouraging more students to share their opinion as well,” Misko said.

The publication just had its first meeting and organized a staff of over 50 people. Two among those staff include linguistics senior Jack Tarantino and packaging sophomore Alyssa Wisenbaugh. Jack is applying for the photo editor position, choosing which photos go into the magazine. “The magazine will be launched online and in print. Online media is the best way to do things nowadays but printed magazines are so much more fun. There will also be more interactive content online to keep people engaged,” he said.

Wisenbaugh hopes to take the position of women’s fashion director. “I have always loved anything to do with fashion and art, and have spent countless dollars on many magazines…The Vogue Project have set certain standards to follow in the footsteps of the elite high fashion publications,” Wisenbaugh said. Look for the first issue scheduled to come out in Fall 2010.

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Twang & Roll

Twang & Roll

In the past it seemed most music genres were associated with certain groups of people. Rock music was made for white, middle class men and boys. Rap and hip hop were rooted the black community. Young girls existed to obsess over the latest, heart throbbing pop star. And country music never seemed to reach into the city limits from its large rural fan base.

But lately, the radio waves have warmed up to a more diverse selection of artists and songs. With cross-genre duets and artists recreating their sound, the top 20 stations aren’t limiting themselves to sugar pop and soft alternative rock. While hip hop at times controls playlists now, an unexpected sound may be in the running for dominance in the near future.

 

Country music isn’t just for farmers and cowboys any more. The songs are no longer limited to being about dogs, tractors and unattainable women. Although Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” still won’t fly anywhere but the classic country stations, Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” has listeners of all backgrounds. Country has begun to shed its stereotypes and creep into music libraries of suburban and city homes.

This new wave of country music can thank top-selling artist Garth Brooks for putting spotlight on the country twang. , Mike Spencer, a doctoral candidate in American studies and expert on popular music said Brooks took the music away from its traditional roots and added the excitement of rock and roll to gain an unexpected audience. “He appeals to people that don’t normally listen to country,” Spencer said. “His performance style has a striking resemblance to rock artists.” He mentioned that Brooks’ extensive use of lighting, pyrotechnics, large stage and wireless microphone was unique to country music shows until that point. Because of this, he has sold more albums than Nirvana, Mariah Carey and even king of pop, Michael Jackson.

Shania Twain also contributed to the revamping of country music’s look, Spencer said. The simple fact that she was from Canada and like Brooks, didn’t come from the typical Podunk background made her very different from the rest of the country community. She let her music move toward a rock sound, and record sales boomed. Twain was not only able to draw in listeners from all parts of America and Canada, but she globalized the music by taking a two year world tour and gaining fans of every culture.

Perhaps it is solely because of the breakthroughs of Brooks and Twain that have made it possible for younger country stars to have similar success. Angela Goodman, a supply chain management junior, explained that although she usually listens to all kinds of music, country was never high on that list until recently. She said that she’s hears it more often now that it has gained popularity, so she’s grown to like it through artists like Taylor Swift. “Carrie Underwood was on American Idol, so people followed her into the country scene,” she said.

Victoria Marzec, a journalism freshman, agreed that it was the younger female singers that attracted her to the new country. Two years ago, she almost never listened to country, but now it’s the majority of the music she listens to. “I got into it when it became more popular and lost some of its down under, twangy sound,” she said. Marzec explained that the women in the country genre have moved more towards pop music, but male artists, like Brad Paisley and Brooks and Dunn, have gone towards rock and roll. “They’ve made it more glamorous than dirt and cowboy boots,” she said.

Even some rock musicians are including elements of country music into their songs. Spencer explained that Nickelback, a popular rock band, has hints of hillbilly through southern drawls, violins, themes and lyrics. Kid Rock is unique, too, because he is from urban Detroit and has incorporated hard rock, hip hop and country. Spencer explained that these things are mostly due to advances in music technology and consolidation of media outlets. “[Record companies] don’t want 10 artists that can sell 100,000 albums,” he said. “They want that one artist that will sell a million.”

Because different styles of music have become easier to get a hold of, Spencer said, regional ties to those genres have disappeared. Through mass distribution in stores like Best Buy and mp3s online, people don’t have to go out and hunt for the music of different cultures. This is part of the reason why Canadians and urban northerners have able to tap into the southern market. More people are being exposed to country and realizing it isn’t just for simple folk. “Rock was turned into a form of high art,” Spencer said. “Country music never had that.”

There are some critics to the transformation of the country twang however. Keith Billik, manager of Elderly Instruments, explained that the new country artists have changed the sound so much that it’s hard for him to even categorize it as country music. “Old country definitely had a strong emphasis on good song writing and a more genuine sound,” he said. “Modern country just sounds really produced, like people trying to make money.” While he avoids as much pop country as possible, he will occasionally listen to Brad Paisley, and understands why some people might find newer country music appealing. “It’s not that country-ish any more,” Billik said. “For someone that likes rock and roll that might be why they like country music.” 

Guitar CountryThe store tends to favor country and bluegrass musicians, so there hasn’t been a drastic shift in sales to more common country instruments, but enough to notice. Billik explained that some instruments more associated with country have become more popular. For example, they have been selling more Fender Telecasters which are the more twangy electric guitars typically found in country. He’s also noticed more local country bands gaining popularity and others moving further towards the traditional roots of the style.

“People are more open-minded to be influenced by other music,” Billik said. “The lines are pretty blurry now.” Spencer said he wouldn’t be surprised if popular music genres continued to merge together, but doesn’t think that any specific style will ever cease to exist. “There will always be experimentation and more traditional preservation,” he said.

As music blends into fewer genres and media giants fuse into even fewer mega-corporations, it may be unavoidable to have top 20 radio stations playing even more similar sounding music. Perhaps this could be a good thing. With fewer styles to choose from, there would be fewer arguments over what style is better; it’d be easier to compare single groups or artists and decide who may be better. This too could break music divides between groups of people. But at the same time, one massive genre of music could take the individuality out of song writing, and the regions and groups might lose a huge part of their identity. Or, maybe this movement of country music is nothing more than a money-making fad, and music elitists can sleep safely tonight knowing their favorites will still exist in the morning and for years to come.

 

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Twang & Roll

In the past it seemed most music genres were associated with certain groups of people. Rock music was made for white, middle class men and boys. Rap and hip hop were rooted the black community. Young girls existed to obsess over the latest, heart throbbing pop star. And country music never seemed to reach into the city limits from its large rural fan base.
But lately, the radio waves have warmed up to a more diverse selection of artists and songs. With cross-genre duets and artists recreating their sound, the top 20 stations aren’t limiting themselves to sugar pop and soft alternative rock. While hip hop at times controls playlists now, an unexpected sound may be in the running for dominance in the near future.[Marzec]
Country music isn’t just for farmers and cowboys any more. The songs are no longer limited to being about dogs, tractors and unattainable women. Although Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” still won’t fly anywhere but the classic country stations, Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” has listeners of all backgrounds. Country has begun to shed its stereotypes and creep into music libraries of suburban and city homes.
This new wave of country music can thank top-selling artist Garth Brooks for putting spotlight on the country twang. , Mike Spencer, a doctoral candidate in American studies and expert on popular music said Brooks took the music away from its traditional roots and added the excitement of rock and roll to gain an unexpected audience. “He appeals to people that don’t normally listen to country,” Spencer said. “His performance style has a striking resemblance to rock artists.” He mentioned that Brooks’ extensive use of lighting, pyrotechnics, large stage and wireless microphone was unique to country music shows until that point. Because of this, he has sold more albums than Nirvana, Mariah Carey and even king of pop, Michael Jackson.
Shania Twain also contributed to the revamping of country music’s look, Spencer said. The simple fact that she was from Canada and like Brooks, didn’t come from the typical Podunk background made her very different from the rest of the country community. She let her music move toward a rock sound, and record sales boomed. Twain was not only able to draw in listeners from all parts of America and Canada, but she globalized the music by taking a two year world tour and gaining fans of every culture.
Perhaps it is solely because of the breakthroughs of Brooks and Twain that have made it possible for younger country stars to have similar success. Angela Goodman, a supply chain management junior, explained that although she usually listens to all kinds of music, country was never high on that list until recently. She said that she’s hears it more often now that it has gained popularity, so she’s grown to like it through artists like Taylor Swift. “Carrie Underwood was on American Idol, so people followed her into the country scene,” she said.
Victoria Marzec, a journalism freshman, agreed that it was the younger female singers that attracted her to the new country. Two years ago, she almost never listened to country, but now it’s the majority of the music she listens to. “I got into it when it became more popular and lost some of its down under, twangy sound,” she said. Marzec explained that the women in the country genre have moved more towards pop music, but male artists, like Brad Paisley and Brooks and Dunn, have gone towards rock and roll. “They’ve made it more glamorous than dirt and cowboy boots,” she said.[Goodman]
Even some rock musicians are including elements of country music into their songs. Spencer explained that Nickelback, a popular rock band, has hints of hillbilly through southern drawls, violins, themes and lyrics. Kid Rock is unique, too, because he is from urban Detroit and has incorporated hard rock, hip hop and country. Spencer explained that these things are mostly due to advances in music technology and consolidation of media outlets. “[Record companies] don’t want 10 artists that can sell 100,000 albums,” he said. “They want that one artist that will sell a million.”
Because different styles of music have become easier to get a hold of, Spencer said, regional ties to those genres have disappeared. Through mass distribution in stores like Best Buy and mp3s online, people don’t have to go out and hunt for the music of different cultures. This is part of the reason why Canadians and urban northerners have able to tap into the southern market. More people are being exposed to country and realizing it isn’t just for simple folk. “Rock was turned into a form of high art,” Spencer said. “Country music never had that.”
There are some critics to the transformation of the country twang however. Keith Billik, manager of Elderly Instruments, explained that the new country artists have changed the sound so much that it’s hard for him to even categorize it as country music. “Old country definitely had a strong emphasis on good song writing and a more genuine sound,” he said. “Modern country just sounds really produced, like people trying to make money.” While he avoids as much pop country as possible, he will occasionally listen to Brad Paisley, and understands why some people might find newer country music appealing. “It’s not that country-ish any more,” Billik said. “For someone that likes rock and roll that might be why they like country music.”
[guitar]The store tends to favor country and bluegrass musicians, so there hasn’t been a drastic shift in sales to more common country instruments, but enough to notice. Billik explained that some instruments more associated with country have become more popular. For example, they have been selling more Fender Telecasters which are the more twangy electric guitars typically found in country. He’s also noticed more local country bands gaining popularity and others moving further towards the traditional roots of the style.
“People are more open-minded to be influenced by other music,” Billik said. “The lines are pretty blurry now.” Spencer said he wouldn’t be surprised if popular music genres continued to merge together, but doesn’t think that any specific style will ever cease to exist. “There will always be experimentation and more traditional preservation,” he said.
As music blends into fewer genres and media giants fuse into even fewer mega-corporations, it may be unavoidable to have top 20 radio stations playing even more similar sounding music. Perhaps this could be a good thing. With fewer styles to choose from, there would be fewer arguments over what style is better; it’d be easier to compare single groups or artists and decide who may be better. This too could break music divides between groups of people. But at the same time, one massive genre of music could take the individuality out of song writing, and the regions and groups might lose a huge part of their identity. Or, maybe this movement of country music is nothing more than a money-making fad, and music elitists can sleep safely tonight knowing their favorites will still exist in the morning and for years to come.

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From Baghdad, With Love

 Whenever I have either been waiting to board a plane or to pick someone up in an airport terminal, I find myself people watching in every direction. And almost every time, there has been that one small group that catches my eye more the rest. Usually, it’s a small family or group of friends surrounding a member of the armed forces. Whether they’re saying their final goodbyes or seeing each other for the first time in months, I would put myself in the place of the wife or girlfriend and wonder if I’d be able to handle such an intense relationship.

Up until a few months ago, a military relationship was still a “what if” kind of daydream to me. But now that I’m dating a soldier in the U.S. Army, that slim possibility has become a reality, and I’ve put myself into that unknown territory. Besides grandparents, I’m the first person many of my friends and I have known in such a situation. And I’ve received every reaction from “Aw, that’s so romantic” and “You’re so strong and brave” to “That’s stupid” and “You’re in college, why would you do that?” These reactions and the countless follow-up questions made me think that I couldn’t be the only one in the dark and curious about extreme long distance dating.

Dating someone in the military is a lot different than the typical romance (if there is such a thing as typical). The distance and time apart multiply the problems average couples face on a regular basis. Temptations, loneliness and a lack of time spent together are the most common deal breakers of military relationships, but if both people are committed and understand what it will take to avoid those risks, it’s possible for the relationship to last beyond the soldier’s time spent at home.

Spc. Dave Granger, 20, explained that he’s seen very few successful relationships since he’s been in the Army. While he’s optimistic for his current relationship, he’s seen too many bad break ups among his fellow soldiers to have any positives for being in a military relationship. “The distance always ends up being the killer,” he said. “The other person almost always just gets lonely.” Granger said cheating is the biggest problem he’s seen, not only with partying college students but even among couples that have been married for years. “You don’t know what they’re doing, and they don’t know what you’re doing,” he said.

Granger and his girlfriend Ashley Wiggins. (Spc. Dave Granger.)Sheila Smith, program leader of 4-H Youth Development and MSU Extension military liaison, has worked with a number of families and couples struggling with a military lifestyle. “Relationships are tested with time and the dynamics of the individuals,” she said. “There are elements of trust and elements of risk.” She explained that military relationships aren’t necessarily stronger or weaker than other relationships, but there is additional stress because of the deployment issue.

“I’m not going to lie and say there isn’t temptation,” said Carla Fiorenzo, a recent Michigan State University graduate and girlfriend of a U.S. Marine. “You just have to do what you have to do to make it work.” She explained that they usually talk on the phone throughout the week. However, there are times when it’s difficult to simply find the time to talk. It’s often the case that she’s really busy during the only times he can call.

Fiorenzo said that the distance hasn’t been a point of contention for them because for most of their 14-month relationship, he has been away. “I knew from the second we started dating he was going away,” she said. “At this point, I haven’t seen him in five months, so I’m used to not seeing him.” She went on to say that it will be weird when he comes home in a couple of months, because she will actually get to see him in person, a rarity for the couple.

For other couples, the distance requires an adjustment. Emily Guith is still getting used to not seeing her boyfriend after he left a few weeks ago for his training as a naval officer. She explained a lot of their daily routines are now impossible, and that’s forced unexpected changes, however simple they may be. “Just calling him when I get out of work or going over to his place after class are things you take for granted,” she said. “It’s hard when you realize you don’t have all of those little things.” 

Granger in Iraq. (Spc. Dave Granger)Granger explained that a lot of the time it’s the lack of those little things, or simply being around, that cause a lot of relationships to end. The partners that are away have to work harder to make up for the fact that they aren’t there. “I’m going to do everything I can to make this work out,” he said. “Just straight up being there for her and always being the best boyfriend I can.” He explained that he understands why a relationship under normal circumstances would have worked out, but because the military changes things, they fail.

It’s not just the distance that figures into the military dating equation however. There has to be an understanding between the two people that they and the relationship may change. “For infantry people, [the military] changes who you are,” Granger said. “You’re not the same person when you come back, and some people don’t like that.” The Army is a different lifestyle that’s hard to understand from the outside, and he said, it’s different being around civilians rather than those he’s surrounded by on a daily basis.

Guith and Fiorenzo agreed that it takes a certain kind of strong person to wait for someone in the service. “It’s a lot harder than you think,” Guith said. “You have to stay strong for yourself and for whoever you’re dating.” Fiorenzo explained that she knows a lot of girlfriends that go all out to proclaim their love for their boy in the war, but that’s not her style of coping with the situation. “I’m not that girlfriend that says, ‘I love my Marine,’ and scribbles ‘Marines’ all over my notebook,” she said. “I don’t have to tell him 20 times a day that I love him. It’s a general understanding.” 

Fiorenzo with her boyfriend Spc. Matt Turner. (Carla Fiorenzo)But just because Fiorenzo and her boyfriend are serious and realize they will end up settling down together doesn’t mean wedding bells will be ringing any time soon. A lot of young soldiers get married during a short leave before or right after their deployment, sometimes only knowing the person for a few months. But for her, marriage isn’t something to be rushed. “I don’t understand why I’d get married before he gets shipped off. What does that get me besides a ring on my finger?” Fiorenzo said.

There are a lot of reasons some decide to get married, and love isn’t always one of them, Granger said. While some people say they’ve fallen in love, there are a lot of guys that will marry a girl simply to get the extra pay. Others have a fear of dying alone, and want to get married just to be married. “Sometimes they think it’ll stop the girl from cheating, but a ring doesn’t stop anything,” he said. Granger has heard of several guys going home and seeing their friends’ wives take off their rings and act like they don’t have anyone. Other times, some will go home to their wife of 10 years and see the divorce papers lying on the table without notice, he said. While there are a lot of people who stay together, their relationship rarely gets stronger, and the connection doesn’t stay the same, Granger added.

Smith explained there are a lot of challenges for young soldiers that get married because a lot of the time they haven’t gone to college and don’t have the same resources to start a life after the service. “They’re still growing and finding out who they are,” she said.

With so many negative possibilities resulting from a military relationship, why bother trying to make something work? “I can’t change what my heart is telling me,” Granger said. He went on to explain that most people in the service find a comfort knowing that they have that special someone waiting for them when they get back. It’s hard to maintain friendships, so it’s nice for a soldier to know there’s someone else besides a few close friends and family.

For the people back home, it’s more than just the idea of having a man or woman in uniform that makes the relationship worth pursuing. “It’s when you come to care about a person that makes it worth the wait,” Guith said. While it’s sometimes hard to see other couples go out on dates and spend time together, she said, “It’s just one of those things that make you look forward to the day they come back.”

Although Fiorenzo said the distance hasn’t helped them grow as a couple, they have been able to grow as individuals. “I’m at a selfish point in my life,” she said. “In a way it’s nice because we can be together, but we can figure out our own thing.” She said that this kind of long distance relationship works for them because of the kind of people they are separately. “I wouldn’t recommend it, but I wouldn’t say no to it either,” Fiorenzo said.

Smith mentioned that the Michigan National Guard offers a variety of resources for military families, those in relationships and singles. There are workshops to focus on relationships as well as counseling. “An important part of the military culture is to provide a network and commitment to the family of the unit and to their families back home,” she said.

So while military relationships may not be anyone’s preferred style of dating, they aren’t always doomed to failure. Likewise, the romance that some people relate to them is usually far-fetched. Guith said that a lot of people think her relationship is endearing and romantic because she and her boyfriend write real letters to each other. Her boyfriend doesn’t have a computer and he rarely has access to the phone, so they don’t have another option. Some of my friends had a similar reaction when I told them about my new relationship. I still find people telling me that I should write sappy love letters to him everyday like in the olden days. 

The Big Green staff writer Mallory Hines with her boyfriend Spc. Nathan Harris. (Mallory Hines)Although there are many obvious differences and complications the military may add to relationships, they still have the same basic foundations as any other. As mysterious as this Baghdad-Lansing relationship may seem, parts of it are still familiar. We’re making this work just like any other couple wants to make their relationship work. We still care about each other and realized the same uncertainty going into this as anyone goes into any relationship. I suppose what I had imagined when I was younger in the airport was not what the time spent together or apart would be like. I had only thought about the moments of coming and going and how I would feel watching him leave or seeing him walk through the door for the first time in months. And now that I’m actually in those in between moments, I find myself imagining that welcome back all over again.

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From Baghdad, With Love

Whenever I have either been waiting to board a plane or to pick someone up in an airport terminal, I find myself people watching in every direction. And almost every time, there has been that one small group that catches my eye more the rest. Usually, it’s a small family or group of friends surrounding a member of the armed forces. Whether they’re saying their final goodbyes or seeing each other for the first time in months, I would put myself in the place of the wife or girlfriend and wonder if I’d be able to handle such an intense relationship.
Up until a few months ago, a military relationship was still a “what if” kind of daydream to me. But now that I’m dating a soldier in the U.S. Army, that slim possibility has become a reality, and I’ve put myself into that unknown territory. Besides grandparents, I’m the first person many of my friends and I have known in such a situation. And I’ve received every reaction from “Aw, that’s so romantic” and “You’re so strong and brave” to “That’s stupid” and “You’re in college, why would you do that?” These reactions and the countless follow-up questions made me think that I couldn’t be the only one in the dark and curious about extreme long distance dating.
Dating someone in the military is a lot different than the typical romance (if there is such a thing as typical). The distance and time apart multiply the problems average couples face on a regular basis. Temptations, loneliness and a lack of time spent together are the most common deal breakers of military relationships, but if both people are committed and understand what it will take to avoid those risks, it’s possible for the relationship to last beyond the soldier’s time spent at home.
Spc. Dave Granger, 20, explained that he’s seen very few successful relationships since he’s been in the Army. While he’s optimistic for his current relationship, he’s seen too many bad break ups among his fellow soldiers to have any positives for being in a military relationship. “The distance always ends up being the killer,” he said. “The other person almost always just gets lonely.” Granger said cheating is the biggest problem he’s seen, not only with partying college students but even among couples that have been married for years. “You don’t know what they’re doing, and they don’t know what you’re doing,” he said.
[Granger]Sheila Smith, program leader of 4-H Youth Development and MSU Extension military liaison, has worked with a number of families and couples struggling with a military lifestyle. “Relationships are tested with time and the dynamics of the individuals,” she said. “There are elements of trust and elements of risk.” She explained that military relationships aren’t necessarily stronger or weaker than other relationships, but there is additional stress because of the deployment issue.
“I’m not going to lie and say there isn’t temptation,” said Carla Fiorenzo, a recent Michigan State University graduate and girlfriend of a U.S. Marine. “You just have to do what you have to do to make it work.” She explained that they usually talk on the phone throughout the week. However, there are times when it’s difficult to simply find the time to talk. It’s often the case that she’s really busy during the only times he can call.
Fiorenzo said that the distance hasn’t been a point of contention for them because for most of their 14-month relationship, he has been away. “I knew from the second we started dating he was going away,” she said. “At this point, I haven’t seen him in five months, so I’m used to not seeing him.” She went on to say that it will be weird when he comes home in a couple of months, because she will actually get to see him in person, a rarity for the couple.
For other couples, the distance requires an adjustment. Emily Guith is still getting used to not seeing her boyfriend after he left a few weeks ago for his training as a naval officer. She explained a lot of their daily routines are now impossible, and that’s forced unexpected changes, however simple they may be. “Just calling him when I get out of work or going over to his place after class are things you take for granted,” she said. “It’s hard when you realize you don’t have all of those little things.”
[grangerphoto]Granger explained that a lot of the time it’s the lack of those little things, or simply being around, that cause a lot of relationships to end. The partners that are away have to work harder to make up for the fact that they aren’t there. “I’m going to do everything I can to make this work out,” he said. “Just straight up being there for her and always being the best boyfriend I can.” He explained that he understands why a relationship under normal circumstances would have worked out, but because the military changes things, they fail.
It’s not just the distance that figures into the military dating equation however. There has to be an understanding between the two people that they and the relationship may change. “For infantry people, [the military] changes who you are,” Granger said. “You’re not the same person when you come back, and some people don’t like that.” The Army is a different lifestyle that’s hard to understand from the outside, and he said, it’s different being around civilians rather than those he’s surrounded by on a daily basis.
Guith and Fiorenzo agreed that it takes a certain kind of strong person to wait for someone in the service. “It’s a lot harder than you think,” Guith said. “You have to stay strong for yourself and for whoever you’re dating.” Fiorenzo explained that she knows a lot of girlfriends that go all out to proclaim their love for their boy in the war, but that’s not her style of coping with the situation. “I’m not that girlfriend that says, ‘I love my Marine,’ and scribbles ‘Marines’ all over my notebook,” she said. “I don’t have to tell him 20 times a day that I love him. It’s a general understanding.”
[Carla]But just because Fiorenzo and her boyfriend are serious and realize they will end up settling down together doesn’t mean wedding bells will be ringing any time soon. A lot of young soldiers get married during a short leave before or right after their deployment, sometimes only knowing the person for a few months. But for her, marriage isn’t something to be rushed. “I don’t understand why I’d get married before he gets shipped off. What does that get me besides a ring on my finger?” Fiorenzo said.
There are a lot of reasons some decide to get married, and love isn’t always one of them, Granger said. While some people say they’ve fallen in love, there are a lot of guys that will marry a girl simply to get the extra pay. Others have a fear of dying alone, and want to get married just to be married. “Sometimes they think it’ll stop the girl from cheating, but a ring doesn’t stop anything,” he said. Granger has heard of several guys going home and seeing their friends’ wives take off their rings and act like they don’t have anyone. Other times, some will go home to their wife of 10 years and see the divorce papers lying on the table without notice, he said. While there are a lot of people who stay together, their relationship rarely gets stronger, and the connection doesn’t stay the same, Granger added.
Smith explained there are a lot of challenges for young soldiers that get married because a lot of the time they haven’t gone to college and don’t have the same resources to start a life after the service. “They’re still growing and finding out who they are,” she said.
With so many negative possibilities resulting from a military relationship, why bother trying to make something work? “I can’t change what my heart is telling me,” Granger said. He went on to explain that most people in the service find a comfort knowing that they have that special someone waiting for them when they get back. It’s hard to maintain friendships, so it’s nice for a soldier to know there’s someone else besides a few close friends and family.
For the people back home, it’s more than just the idea of having a man or woman in uniform that makes the relationship worth pursuing. “It’s when you come to care about a person that makes it worth the wait,” Guith said. While it’s sometimes hard to see other couples go out on dates and spend time together, she said, “It’s just one of those things that make you look forward to the day they come back.”
Although Fiorenzo said the distance hasn’t helped them grow as a couple, they have been able to grow as individuals. “I’m at a selfish point in my life,” she said. “In a way it’s nice because we can be together, but we can figure out our own thing.” She said that this kind of long distance relationship works for them because of the kind of people they are separately. “I wouldn’t recommend it, but I wouldn’t say no to it either,” Fiorenzo said.
Smith mentioned that the Michigan National Guard offers a variety of resources for military families, those in relationships and singles. There are workshops to focus on relationships as well as counseling. “An important part of the military culture is to provide a network and commitment to the family of the unit and to their families back home,” she said.
So while military relationships may not be anyone’s preferred style of dating, they aren’t always doomed to failure. Likewise, the romance that some people relate to them is usually far-fetched. Guith said that a lot of people think her relationship is endearing and romantic because she and her boyfriend write real letters to each other. Her boyfriend doesn’t have a computer and he rarely has access to the phone, so they don’t have another option. Some of my friends had a similar reaction when I told them about my new relationship. I still find people telling me that I should write sappy love letters to him everyday like in the olden days.
[Hines]Although there are many obvious differences and complications the military may add to relationships, they still have the same basic foundations as any other. As mysterious as this Baghdad-Lansing relationship may seem, parts of it are still familiar. We’re making this work just like any other couple wants to make their relationship work. We still care about each other and realized the same uncertainty going into this as anyone goes into any relationship. I suppose what I had imagined when I was younger in the airport was not what the time spent together or apart would be like. I had only thought about the moments of coming and going and how I would feel watching him leave or seeing him walk through the door for the first time in months. And now that I’m actually in those in between moments, I find myself imagining that welcome back all over again.

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How To Be Office Chic

Formal. Professional. Casual. Semi-formal. These are all dress code terms we’ve heard time and time again. All of them are relatively easy to define, and it’s usually obvious what occasions are appropriate to dress those ways. Prom. Important business meetings. Class. Elegant dinners out on the town. There’s no guessing as to what should be pulled out of the closet and dresser. For these circumstances, deciding what to wear is as simple as making sure the shoes go with the outfit or choosing what color tie to wear. [pic1]
But one enigmatic dress code description seems to exist simply to throw us into maze of clothing confusion. The ever popular “business casual.” Sure, it’s easy to think of it as one step up from casual and one step down from business professional, but what does that even mean? Tie or no tie? Open or closed toe shoes? Khakis or dress slacks?
We’ve all been in this dilemma of dress. You have to go to some event and you don’t know what to wear. You check the invitation and there it is, written in italics: Business Casual. Questions of polos or blouses and dress shoes or Dr. Martens arise. You need more direction, but you’re left playing a guessing game. After a long and grueling hunt for its definition, it appears ‘business casual’ has its limitations, but it may never be universally and completely understood.[fred ]
For the most part, this vague term is found in the workplace. But even there, sometimes there isn’t a consensus as to what it means. “Every company has a different interpretation,” said Fred Morgeson, a professor in the department of management at MSU. “You have to do research on the company’s values and try to get a sense of what those might be. Some may have specific guidelines.” He explained that some organizations request their workers simply to throw on a clean pair of khaki pants (there are kinds that even repel the ugliest spills) and a wrinkle-free polo. Others define business casual almost to the point of being business professional with mandatory ties, pressed dress pants and absolutely no open-toed shoes.
But how often are we actually given direction from those we want to impress? While the safest route may vary, there are some staples necessary to complete a business casual ensemble. “I think it’s like dress pants and a button down shirt. It’s when you bust out the blazer,” said Erika Greenia, a social relations and comparative cultures and politics senior. She explained that in business casual settings, it’s acceptable to take off a suit jacket, so not wearing one in the first place wouldn’t be detrimental to an outfit.
“The first thing I think of is khaki pants, not a suit, but still professional. You shouldn’t look like a slob,” education masters student Katie Verhaere said. “If there’s one staple article of clothing that seems to fit most arenas of business casual, it’s a pair of khaki pants of near white to dark green or dress slacks in black, gray or brown.”[garcia ]
Figuring out which pair of pants to wear to a business casual function is the easy part though. There are myriad more options when it comes to a shirt. The colors, patterns and styles vary between companies, seasons and people. “Every company has its own culture which includes the dress code,” Morgeson said. He said businesses that encourage creativity are usually more tolerant of an individual’s unique tastes. However, if you’re going into an interview, stay conservative and leave the tube top at home. “You’re trying to get a job, not a date,” he said.
While earth tones may not be on everyone’s favorite color palate, hot pink and neon orange may not be your boss’s preferred combination either. “In fashion or retail industries, bright colors like yellow are fine, but in offices they might be too loud,” said Rose Henderson, a sales associate at women’s clothing store The Limited.
The season may also affect a person’s decision between an orange or gray shirt. While the debate over wearing white after Labor Day is another story in itself, there’s a general understanding that lighter colors are associated with warmer climates. “In the winter there are different shades of gray and a lot of pinstripes,” said Miguel Garcia, a sales associate at The Gap. “In summer, there are yellow and oranges, but for business casual, it has to be something subtle, so you don’t stand out.” But it may be best to toss those guidelines away for an interview. Morgeson recommends wearing a dark suit. “It’s better to be over dressed than under dressed,” he said.
Once you scored the job, what should be laid out the night before the big first day? A button-up blouse would work, but sweaters are also sometimes included in the business casual look. Greenia said that men have a wider selection. “Guys have much more flexibility; they can wear a nice sweater or a short sleeved polo. Women are pretty much limited to with or without a blazer.” On the other hand, Henderson recommended a cardigan and camisole or knit top as alternatives to the basic tailored button-up blouse.[pic2]
But just as you think, “OK, I’ll just pick up five button-up shirts with collars, one for each work day,” don’t be tempted to buy the stylish button-ups that look like they’ve been worn ten times before. Garcia used the wrinkled, white button-up he was wearing as an example of what not to wear to impress your boss. “It’s untucked and meant to look like it hasn’t been ironed,” he said. “It should be pressed and have a crisper look, so it looks like it belongs in an office.”
While the finishing touches to an outfit apply mostly to women, men can still take some hints from shoes, jewelry and hair and make-up advice. Modesty seems to be a theme among all types of accessories. Anything from tennis shoes and flip-flops to stilettos and thigh high boots are probably not what your boss would like to see gracing his or her floor, Morgeson warned. Simple flats or plain shoes that are similar to a loafer work better. And for men, black dress shoes like wing tips are most typical in a business or business casual setting.
It’s also important that jewelry isn’t outshining you. Beyond a set of earrings, some companies are stricter than others when it comes to piercings and tattoos. “If you have the ‘This is what I am and I don’t care what you think’ attitude, you have to understand that some people might not appreciate that, and it could keep you from getting the job,” Morgeson said. Equally distracting are hair, makeup and even perfume and cologne. You aren’t going to the bar at 9 a.m. tomorrow, so it probably isn’t a good idea to go crazy with new eyeliner and a funky new ‘do.
So, while there are still too many distinct definitions to pick just one or combine in any way, business casual can be thought of as something more specific than a happy medium between business professional and casual. When it doubt, it’s better to dress in a fashion closer to professional. And modesty could be the synonym of business casual — an interview is not a blind date. In a way, the business casual look is the one category that is meant to make you blend in and be invisible. It’s not meant to distract people from your work and achievements. “Don’t stand out because of how you look,” Morgeson said. “Stand out because of your capabilities.”

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What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’?

With tight budgets and busy schedules, it is easy for students at MSU to find themselves trapped in a kitchen filled with Ramen noodles and frozen pizza. After long days in class and at work, the last thing many want to do is slave over the stove preparing a gourmet dinner. Without microwave directions, recipes are often discarded and replaced by boxed noodles and canned soup. Even when students do have the time and desire to create a nutritious concoction, it can sometimes be too stressful to fit the ingredients into a lacking grocery budget. Some students, however, have been able to fight the temptation of the typical college cupboard by thinking outside of the box and finding simple alternatives and additions to the fast and affordable favorites.
[Doyle]Caitlin Doyle, a hospitality business senior, has been experimenting in the kitchen since the seventh grade and has worked in a cafe and restaurant since high school. So for her, finding new combinations of foods comes naturally. Still, that does not mean she does not appreciate simple directions and near-instant results. “When I know I’m going to have a busy week, I’ll chop up vegetables on Sundays and prepare meals ahead of time,” she said. “My Crockpot is my best friend sometimes.”
Professor Sharon Hoerr of the department of food science and human nutrition said that cooking soups on the weekends with a slow cooker is a convenient solution because it saves time during the week and the food can be frozen and saved for later dates. “The big problem facing students is getting whole foods like fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Make a meal colorful.” Simply adding frozen or canned vegetables to macaroni and cheese or soups add a lot of nutritional value. Hoerr explained that it is important for students to choose whole grain breads for more fiber. Most often, students are missing calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin A and potassium.[veggies]
But when Doyle does not feel like cooking, her stand-bys include salads, sandwiches and yes, frozen dinners and canned soups. “Sometimes I’ll get cravings for Kraft singles for a grilled cheese and Campbell’s tomato soup” she said. Doyle explained that sometimes she will doctor up salads with her own dressings made with different vinegars. One of her favorites combines apple cider vinegar, apple jelly and extra virgin olive oil. “It’s nice to have foods around that are ready to cook too,” Doyle said. “Frozen foods can’t go bad, and even canned tuna is good to make tuna salad.”
Sometimes, even fast food restaurants can offer healthy alternatives to big, planned meals. “Subway is great,” Hoerr said. “Most fast food restaurants have salads with three cups of lettuces and half cups of other vegetables.”
By choosing bananas and granola bars over cookies and potato chips between classes, Dipti Arya, a secondary education senior, makes a conscious effort to eat nutritiously. “It takes a while to make a healthy meal,” Arya said. “But you can’t be lazy about it either.” She will often make extra so there will be leftovers throughout the week. “I’ll make four chicken breasts at a time because they last for days,” she said.
[Pacek]On the other hand, there are still many students that are content with the stereotypical college diet. Finance junior Brett Pacek only takes a break from Chef Boyardee and Hot Pockets a couple times a week for breakfast and an occasional hamburger or steak dinner. He will usually have a bagel or eggs for breakfast and will vary between frozen pizza and Ramen noodles for lunch and dinner. “I’m not healthy at all,” he said. “I don’t really worry about it. I’m young.”
Eli Sussman, a 2007 MSU graduate, and his brother Max put together a cookbook called Freshmen in the Kitchen specifically for college students looking for an affordable escape from macaroni and cheese. “We wanted people our age to save money and eat more healthy,” he said. “When the ideas come from their peers, students are more receptive.” Sussman recommends every aspiring chef, or student ready to break from Hamburger Helper, have a ready supply of olive oil, salt and pepper, various dried spices and fresh garlic. Pastas dishes are usually the most basic of meals and usually very simple to make, he said. With cheese, lunch meat and fresh vegetables on hand, sandwiches can also be really easy and healthy options.
[pots]Living on campus limits eating options to an even greater extent. Beyond a meal plan, students’ can merely chose snacks, take out and microwavable options. “I try to eat healthy,” no preference freshman Zach Bianchini said. “I try not to snack, but I’ll take apples from the cafeteria on my way to class.” He mixes up his menu options by leaving Holden Hall and traveling to other cafeterias like those in Snyder Philips and Brody instead of getting food delivered. “A lot of people order in, but it adds up to almost 10 bucks a meal with the tip,” Bianchini said. “Money has its effect, so you have to be creative.”
Sussman suggested homemade trail mix as a snack option for on campus students because it is quick and cheap. “You can choose exactly what you like,” he said. “Go to the bulk aisle in the grocery store and get anything you’d want in it.” He also recommended cheese and crackers or a baguette to dorm-living students. Sussman explained it’s not that expensive and a lot better than a bag of chips.
[fruits]But where would one find inspiration to kick start a college-styled menu? “When I do go out to eat, I study the menu,” Doyle said. She’ll often recreate her favorite meals at home. Sussman’s cookbook is filled with step by step instructions for a variety of tastes. “We took our favorite dishes and tweaked them to fit the budget and the palate of the college student,” he said. Hoerr recommended branching off of Mediterranean foods like lentil soups and hummus. Eating outside of the box doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting the box; sometimes the slightest additions to the quick comforts of frozen, canned and boxed foods make a world of difference.
So maybe with a little help and encouragement, more college students will find the confidence to branch out from the blue box and explore the other options available to them. With a little bit of extra time at the grocery store, it really is not so difficult to stock the cupboards with real food that would make moms and grandmas proud. Brainstorming with peers combined with advice from some cooking veterans can turn a freezer full of pizza and cabinet of canned soup into a busy stove and a refrigerator filled with fresh produce and tasty leftovers. Giving the microwave a rest and breaking out an old cookbook may not be so hard after all.

Quick Tasty Chicken Quesadillas
About 2 thinly sliced green onions
1 small habanera or jalapeno pepper, diced
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (frozen chicken breasts are quick and keep for weeks in freezer)
1 cup chunky salsa
3/4 cup shredded cheese (Monterey jack or cheddar)
4 (8 inch) soft tortilla rounds
Combine first three ingredients together and spread evenly on half of each tortilla. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of salsa and three tablespoons of cheese on top of the chicken mixture. Fold each tortilla in half. Heat flat nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Spray with non stick cooking spray and place quesadilla in pan and cook each side for about two minutes. The tortilla should lightly brown and cheese should melt. Use remaining salsa for dipping.
Quesadillas are great accompanied with a light green salad, stir fried vegetables (bell peppers, onions and mushrooms sauteed with olive oil), or a chilled black bean and corn salad (black beans, red onions, yellow corn, wilted spinach, some chunky salsa, green onions and lime juice).
Seductive Sari Shrimp with Cooling Yogurt Sauce
2 tsp olive oil
2 Tbs minced garlic (you can find minced or chopped garlic in bottles and it lasts in the fridge for months instead of fresh garlic)
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, deveined and peeled (if frozen, defrost under cold water before cooking)
2 tsp Garam Masala (Indian spice mix that usually includes cardamom, coriander, cumin, fennel and black pepper)
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and let saute for one minute to let flavors infuse. Add defrosted or fresh shrimp to pan and sprinkle all spices over shrimp. Cook shrimp for about six minutes or until completely cooked.
3/4 cup plain non fat yogurt
2 tbs fresh chopped cilantro
Mix yogurt and cilantro together to make a fresh cooling yogurt sauce.
Serve shrimp over instant brown rice (about 10 minutes to cook) and with a dollop of yogurt sauce.
“Rabbit Stacks”
2 Thick slices of whole grain bread, slightly toasted
2 tsp mayo or mustard- spread on toast
Pick favorite vegetables to layer on bread- ex. lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, avocado, cucumbers, onions, garlic, artichoke hearts, olives, and bell peppers
Then place a slice of cheese (Swiss, provolone, cheddar or gouda) on top of each stack and place under broiler to melt
Serve with carrot sticks, green salad or a cup of vegetable soup.
Doctored Couscous
Cook couscous for about 5 minutes in boiling water.
Add frozen peas, cooked carrots, mushrooms and onions to add flavor.
Tofu Scramble
8 oz. of firm or semi-firm tofu
2 cups vegetables- onions, mushrooms, broccoli, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots or asparagus tips
Saute vegetables and toss in tofu at the end to warm and soak up flavor.
Serve with rice for a stir fry or with toast or an English muffin for breakfast.

Recipes contributed by Caitlin Doyle.

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Making Art that Makes a Living

As an artist carefully arranges the elements of a current project. They mix colors, sort through textures and shapes, and reveal a mood or theme. An image of the final product is constantly engraved in the artist’s mind. It is something unique and completely their own. Likewise, every art student has dreams for after graduation. There are different tools for each medium- brushes and paint, a wheel and clay, or light and film, and there are paths to accomplish different artistic goals. It is how those things are used that creates reality. But some things cross over media, and two things are necessary no matter what an artist has planned for the future.
“Perseverance. Drive,” Alicia Trantum said. She works for Mackerel Sky, an East Lansing art gallery. She and her coworker Mar Sibley explained that it takes time for an artist to develop their work. “It’s a gradual process,” Trantum said. “They want to get their work where the most people will see it,” Sibley said.
Catching the Eye of the Public
Bailey O’Rourke is trying to do just that. As a studio art senior, she is feeling the pressure to get her work out into the world. She has had a couple pieces of her work in shows already, but it was not an easy task. “If you get in that’s great,” O’Rourke said. “If not, [the galleries] aren’t very nice.” Her work has been in the Kresge Invitational Show, Grand Rapids Arts Festival Exhibition, and most recently the Our Town Art Show and Sale in Birmingham, Mich. She even sent some of her work to an international show in Istanbul but has yet to hear back.[quote1]
Some shows only require a CD or DVD of an artist’s work but others want the actual piece which can be difficult. While her favorite medium is ceramics O’Rourke said that she has been doing more prints because they’re easier to ship. She explained that though the post office is really helpful when she does want to send her more fragile art, in some cases, it’s still better just to drive the piece yourself.

Her latest ceramic projects include a set of bird cages and functional ware. When she is working on one of these big projects, which are for class credit, she does not have time to work on much else. “You spend all your time in the studio and there’s always someone else there,” O’Rourke said. And how does an art student choose a concentration like ceramics with so many to choose from? “Ceramics was the class I liked staying late after everyday. I really just like working in 3D,” she said.
According to Sibley and Trantum, aspiring artists have several options to make a living by making art, but they often depend on their medium. With smaller, less expensive pieces, it is necessary to make many more of them. In contrast, if an artist specializes in large sculptures and sells them for a few thousand dollars, they have to be ready to make ten or more. “They have to decide what they need to sell to make a living,” Sibley said. A lot of people make jewelry when they start out because it is something small and inexpensive to make and it sells quickly, Trantum said. Trantum also pointed to wholesale shows as a great opportunity for students to sell their work. At these shows, people come from around the nation to purchase the art to sell in their own galleries. In order to participate in a shows the artists has to have an inventory. “They have to be prepared to sell to a lot of people,” Sibley said. Mackerel Sky gets most of their artwork from wholesale shows.
Each gallery or art store has a different method of choosing art. “You try to find at least an underlying identity. You find your own sense of aesthetic. And try to have what your community would want to buy.” In the end, though, it is all about staying afloat. “You want to earn money. That’s the main goal,” Sibley said.
Not Just Brushes and Paint
While most art students choose a fine arts degree that will lead them down one specific route, a Bachelor of Arts degree opens the studio art major to other possibilities. Senior Vanessa Welch chose the second. Entering college as a no-preference freshman, the B.A. track in photography seemed like a perfect option. Unlike a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree, the BA degree requires fewer mandatory studio credits, but requires students to choose a cognate outside of the college and take a foreign language. Welch decided to study criminal justice with the intention of becoming a forensic photographer. “I really enjoy photography and seeing the world through the lens of my camera. You can capture reality, but distort it at the same time,” she said.
After graduation this spring, Welch is going to take some time to work on her portfolio and travel to Rome. After being there for study abroad, “I fell in love with the culture and the people. I was there and I knew I had to go back,” she said.
Finding a 9 to 5
Casey Sorrow, a 2001 MSU studio art graduate, took a different artistic path. He runs the Kresge Art Store which supplies students with canvas, paint, and anything else needed to complete a masterpiece. Sorry worked at the store as an undergraduate, and as he was getting ready to graduate, the previous owner decided to leave. Sorrow could not deny the great timing. “It was a good opportunity. And honestly, there aren’t many opportunities out there,” Sorrow said. Because the store gets really busy during the school year, he does not have the time he would like to spend working on big projects. He does, however, work on cartooning and illustrations on a daily basis.
Sorrow also said it takes time to become a successful artist and to “develop more interest in your work. You have to have a thick skin and be ready for rejection and criticism. Stick with it,” Sorrow said.
Other students prefer something with a little more stability, like art education. Sophomore art education major Rachel Harris has a passion for art that is different from traditional art students. “It’s more about helping people accomplish what they want to do,” she said. “I’d rather help someone than do it myself.” Because Harris is in the College of Education, she does not have to have a specific concentration. “We must be able to teach everything,” Harris said.
Her goals after graduation include graduate school and moving to California where she thinks there are more opportunities. Her dream is to teach in an inner city high school because “there’s a lot of potential that gets overlooked.” [quote2]
For most artists, like O’Rourke, however, artwork is something more personal. “I guess I just want to be able to sell my work, maybe not to be self sufficient, but to fill my own need. I can’t see myself not making art,” Harris said.
Just as each one of these artists finish a new piece of art, they add another detail to their lives unmatched by another. Every artist has different goals in sight and different methods of molding the plans into reality. Whether it is sculpting one great master piece or teaching someone the basics to begin a portfolio, there are specific steps to reach those ends as there are reasons behind each stroke of a brush to complete a painting. It is hard work to finish a single project, and it takes even more effort and determination to put a dream into reality.

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Ready to Rock

[girl]Every person that’s really into video games remembers his or her first console and game. For the lucky few, it may have been the original Nintendo and the Super Mario Bros. Others may have started out a Playstation 1 with Crash Bandicoot or even Centipede on Gameboy. But since those days as a kid, video games have evolved tremendously.
The musical genre of video games has taken over millions of TVs and shows no sign of letting go. Very rarely will there be a lone Xbox 360 or Play Station – dorm rooms all over sport miniature guitars or drum sets. It’s not uncommon to hear someone bragging more about their completion of the expert level rather than the ability to actually play a real instrument. Preferences between the games have also risen. Which game has the better guitar or songs? While that question is under debate, the popularity of the rock ‘n roll video games is not.
“It’s something simple you can pick up,” said computer science freshman Will Seeger about Rock Band’s appeal. “It’s more mindless than anything.” When he and his roommate first got Rock Band shortly after it was released, he played it for an hour or two almost every day. But after a while, the novelty wore off and his dedication to the game only turns up a few times a month. “You can only play it so long until you’ve done everything you can do,” he said. Although Guitar Hero has the more challenging guitar part, “The drums are the most fun,” he said. “They require a lot more coordination. It takes a lot more time to get good at it.”
[drums]A salesperson at a local video game store, who requested to have his name and place of employment withheld, explained there are a lot of reasons these games are so popular. “[The games] are completely different,” he said. “You don’t need to know the system.” Because the musical games have unique controllers, the players do not have to know how to use the traditional game controllers. “That’s the reason the Wii is so popular,” he said. These new games grant access to a wider variety of people into the video game world. He mentioned there have been a lot of older people buying Wiis and the karaoke games. The overall music genre of games, including Dance Dance Revolution, Sing Star and the new Dancing with the Stars game, are arguably the most popular genre right now. While the dancing and karaoke games continue to have good and steady sales, Rock Band and Guitar Hero sell even faster.
Telecommunication, information studies and media professor Brian Winn explained the games are so popular for a few main reasons. Not only are the games fun to play, but “they’re fun to watch too,” Winn said. “It’s like going to watch karaoke.” Some performers are really good, and some of them are really awful. In addition to the simple fact of the music and video game combination, “There’s the novelty of the control devices. It gives you a much more visual game that makes you feel like you’re a rock star,” he said.
Making a distinct controller “was a very minor jump,” but it made a huge impact in popularity. Dance Dance Revolution had the original unique controller for a video game. “It was the first arcade game that ever bridged that gap into the home market,” Winn said. “It’s a natural tendency [for] people to like to play at home.”[rock11]
There are some people, though, that think neither of the games are worth the money and time. Hospitality business junior Tess Grohoski thinks the games are ridiculous. “You’re not learning anything when you’re playing,” she said. “I don’t see the point in rocking out if you’re not playing the guitar.” She thinks the games are just a fad that will die out shortly. If the games actually taught players to do something, or required them to do something besides just sit and stare at a screen, she’d probably feel differently about them. “You’re just pushing buttons,” she said. With games like Dance Dance Revolution and Wii though, “they get kids off their butts. At least [players] are moving,” she said.
But of the people that do spend a lot of time following the colored circles and lines, which is better – Guitar Hero or Rock Band? Since Guitar Heroes 1 and 2 were designed by the same creators of Rock Band, there’s a tough debate. According to the sales at the local game store, Guitar Hero is the winner, but that is mostly due to the fact it is available on more systems. Rock Band is only available for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 while Guitar Hero is also on Playstation 2 and Wii. However, Rock Band has the advantage of being able to download new songs every week.
Computer science sophomore Andy Rossow prefers Rock Band to Guitar Hero because it allows more people to play at a time, on guitar, vocals and drums, and it lets each person choose what difficulty they want to play. “The third Guitar Hero was a letdown,” he said. The makers seemed to try too hard to make the game more challenging. Likewise, journalism sophomore Eric Chiu prefers Rock Band. He thinks the game and the instruments are of higher quality. “Guitar Hero is way shallower,” he said. “[Rock Band] appeals to me more.”[negative]
Chiu is part of the minority of virtual and real life guitar players. He explained there is an obviously “different skill set.” Because he’s been playing the guitar since sixth grade, Chiu would usually rather spend time practicing that, but he said, “[Rock Band] is a nice distraction…It’s easy to pick up, but there’s enough depth to play well that keeps you coming back.” While he typically practices both his 6-stringed and 5-buttoned guitars for about six hours a week, he doesn’t care other people spend more time just on the video game. He realizes how easy it is to become addicted to the game.
Rossow, who does not play guitar, enjoys the simplicity of the game. Unlike playing the real guitar, “you don’t have to practice technique,” he said. “The song’s gonna come out good every time.”
But will the novelty of these games be enough to keep them en vogue forever, or just until another next best thing comes around? Until the creators give us the scoop on what they’re conjuring up, we’ll just have to enjoy these games while it’s still fun to pretend to be a rock star.

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The Screen Dream

What would happen if you brought six of the world’s most powerful leaders from the past and placed them in a room with the board game Risk? Who would you pick? What would their personalities be like? How would they react to each other? English film studies junior Tristan Johnson chose Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun and a rather pompous Teddy Roosevelt and brought it to life in a movie he created two years ago. Like most of his movie ideas, he thought of this randomly and made sure to write it down, just in case.
[happy]It’s a good thing he did; his half-hour movie, “Risk,” won him an award in 2006 at the MSU film festival. Regardless of Johnson’s pride in the movie, there are some aspects he realizes he should have changed. “I would’ve replaced at least one actor and shortened it,” he said. “I don’t know if people are ever happy with [their movies] in the end.” This could be because there is so much that goes into producing a film, however long it may be. For small festivals like MSU’s, most films are under 30 minutes, typically running approximately 10 minutes.
Film festivals provide a needed outlet for young filmmakers to hone their skills and show off their stuff for an audience. Starting out at the college level allows for creativity, mistakes and growth as a creator, before moving on to aspirations of city festivals, both near Lansing and around the state. The most time-eating aspect of filmmaking is usually the writing of the script. Adding words and actions adds minutes to the film’s length. But shorter movies are easier to film and edit and aren’t as stressful on the wallet. Johnson also explained that in some cases, shorter films are better for the audience as well. “No one wants to sit through a terrible movie that’s going to run for an hour,” he said.
The strategy of successful film execution varies among festival participants. Johnson focuses on writing a clever screenplay, while telecommunication and English film studies senior Marvin Hudgens’ passion is filming and working with the actors. “Some people get down and frustrated,” he said. “And I’m just like, ‘Let’s go!'” Hudgens prefers to work with experienced actors because he feels they are easier to direct and are more professional. He’s even gone to Facebook to search for good actors to use. If they have friends in common, he’s not hesitant to ask for their help. He usually only has a few actors in a given movie because small casts are not as difficult to control and it’s less stressful to arrange schedules. Johnson, on the other hand, normally just uses his friends in his movies because they are more likely to spend more time working on the film and are often more reliable.
Jeff Beachnau, a friend of Johnson and recent English and film studies graduate, has been in a couple of Johnson’s movies. In “Risk,” he had the honor of playing Attila the Hun, so unlike a lot of the other actors, he had very few lines and didn’t have to sing during the musical number. “We all had a fun time, and [Johnson] was easy to work with,” he said. But because of the small cast, Beachnau’s contributions were more than just acting; he and the others had to help out with the set-up and, for one particular monologue, hold up a cue card.
For both Hudgens and Johnson, editing and music choices are the most difficult part of the film-making process. Like most film and telecommunication students and festival participants, they take advantage of the Communication Arts and Sciences building’s computers and cameras. Since the necessary technology is expensive, these resources are endlessly helpful while perfecting their films. One aspect of filmmaking where technology can only go so far is music production. The right equipment can put key songs in the movie, but finding fitting beats is the first step. Most festivals enforce copyright laws, so music has to be composed specifically for the film. For one festival in the past, Hudgens entered a silent film as a solution to the dilemma. Many music students are ceaselessly busy and rarely have the time to write and play music for competition films. The MSU festival, however, allows copyrighted music, which eliminates that piece of the filmmaker’s puzzle.
As a whole, the MSU Film Festival has a longer process than the individual movies. The festival planning begins in the fall semester. Organizing the rules, advertisements and people involved is all done well ahead of time. The application process takes a couple of weeks after the due date of March 28. Last year, there were about 25 applicants and 10 films were chosen for the festival. The same film committee that chooses the weekend movies for Wells Hall picks the best films to play at the April festival. There also is an introduction film and a brief synopsis of each film’s director.
This year, entering filmmakers will have slightly different requirements in terms of content for their movies. First, there are no longer film length categories of long, medium and short. Instead, every film must be under 30 minutes, or it will not be accepted. UAB Films Director Matt Mergener explained there were never many long movies submitted and the audience tends to enjoy the shorter films because it is difficult to make a quality hour-long movie.
Another difference this year is the addition of a panel of judges that will be made up of film committee members, film students and other possible experts. This is to give the filmmakers a bit more of a challenge “instead of having a popularity contest,” Mergener said. They aren’t, however, dropping the audience vote altogether, because they do still want to reward the film that got the best audience reaction.[mallory]
The film festival organizers also received a budget increase from last year, so the joint UAB and RHA film production will be able to do more advertising. Last year, 300 people showed up to the event, but Mergener hopes this year will be “bigger and better.”
Gaining popularity can be difficult for new festivals, but if “one can find a niche audience,” it can take off right away, according to film studies professor Bill Vincent. Vincent specifically mentioned the horror genre with Screamfest. There had not been anything like it until it came along, so it had nearly instant success. The genre’s filmmakers were searching for their own showcase. Big names also draw people to certain festivals. Michael Moore founded the Traverse City Film Festival, and it probably would not have had the large crowd response without his involvement.
The East Lansing Film Festival, which happens around the same time as MSU’s, has continually become more impressive and has been drawing in more people. It has several categories, including Documentary, Short, Feature and even a Student category. There also is a separate competition earlier in the season called 48/5. It gives participants two days to write, film, and edit a five-minute film with certain requirements like mandatory props or lines of dialogue. Hudgens competed in it for the past two years, and he said it is really stressful to cram in several weeks’ worth of work in 48 hours, but the challenge of the process is fun and exciting. “[The MSU Film Festival] has kind of fallen in the shadow of the East Lansing Film Festival,” Johnson said.
From a contestant’s perspective, the small size lessens the prestige of the competition. Johnson said that over the past few years it seemed like whoever brought the most friends to the festival usually won because it was judged by audience vote. The panel of judges is intended to encourage people to take it more seriously. This is Hudgens’ first time entering the MSU Film Festival, but he has participated in other festivals like the East Lansing Festival and studied abroad in the United Kingdom and filmed a movie there. Will Hudgens’ entry this year, “A Grand River Story,” give the other contestants more competition than they are used to? Or will Johnson’s consistent success and large cast give one of his potential films for this year give him an edge? With the higher standards and aspirations for perfection that have come to characterize the area film festivals, plus the influence of objective judges, it’s anybody’s game.

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