Climate Changing Priorities – Editorial

windmill and plantIf you watch the news, it is difficult to identify a single problem facing the United States to name as the most dire, as our around the clock news cycle bombards viewers with crisis after crisis, it seems to be a litany of woes.

Some would say it is the quagmire that is the Affordable Care Act, others would say the Tea Party’s obstructionism or the tragically frequent gun violence in the, while many would argue there is nothing hurting our country more than the ever widening wealth gap. While these concerns certainly carry their fair share of problems, no issue threatens the future of the U.S., and every other nation, more than the connected damages of rampant over consumption and climate change.

The last decade has produced nine of the ten hottest years on record leading to severe droughts that have led to near constant forest fire threats across the southwest, especially in California, dwindling harvests in the heartland and devastated fish populations across the country. Changing weather patterns have led to unprecedented natural disaster damage across the Northeast and a mind boggling stream of storms disrupting travel and commerce on a regular basis.

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Viva Las Loathing

IMG_1125Hercules Johnson
Las Vegas, Nev. — It’s shortly after 9 p.m. Monday when we pull into the Circus Circus parking garage. I’m three beers in and four shots to the wind, glad not to be driving. My girlfriend and I watched the football game at our bar a few blocks away and indulged in a goodly number of adult libations.

Hercules Johnson
Las Vegas, Nev. — It’s shortly after 9 p.m. Monday when we pull into the Circus Circus parking garage. I’m three beers in and four shots to the wind, glad not to be driving. My girlfriend and I watched the football game at our bar a few blocks away and indulged in a goodly number of adult libations.

I figured that for a school assignment, it would likely be deemed inappropriate were I to get into a Raoul Duke state of mind, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to walk in Thompson’s footsteps sober.
Hercules Johnson
Las Vegas, Nev. — It’s shortly after 9 p.m. Monday when we pull into the Circus Circus parking garage. I’m three beers in and four shots to the wind, glad not to be driving. My girlfriend and I watched the football game at our bar a few blocks away and indulged in a goodly number of adult libations.

I figured that for a school assignment, it would likely be deemed inappropriate were I to get into a Raoul Duke state of mind, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to walk in Thompson’s footsteps sober.

We parked on the bottom floor of the abandoned lot, only steps from the door. “This place is dead as disco,” Chrystal said skeptically as I flicked the totally legal, doctor prescribed marijuana cigarette away from the car. “I mean, I know it’s a Monday,” said, “but really? This is depressing.”

She was right, there were few people to be seen as we walked through the glass doors into the lobby.

“Don’t worry,” I assured her confidently as I held the door like a damn gentleman. “It’ll be great, I just have to find the Carousel bar real fast, that and the American Dream.”

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All Sides Report Obama Will Find Support to Punish Assad, Most Don’t Seem to Mind

Obama v Assad 

Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before Congress Tuesday to pitch the White House’s case for military action against Syria. Coverage of the discussions on the floor in congress have led the front page of the website of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Beast and Fox News.

In the wake of the murder of over 1,400 Syrian civilians by sarin gas, President Obama and his staff have been pushing for consensus support in punishing the nation’s president, Assad, and his military capabilities for the war crimes committed against their own people. It seems, according to each web site, that Mr. Obama is likely to be granted 90 days to conduct military operations as well as a an option for congress to allow an extra 30 days if needed to accomplish military objectives.

After initially reading proffered by the New York Times I moved on to the Wall Street Journal, the flag ship paper of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch. One might expect such an entity to subscribe to a position contrary to the Time’s report of support from all sides of the President’s request. But such was not the case.

According to the Journal, though Kerry spent hours in front of congress fielding questions from both parties, he left with support from many Republicans and Democrats alike.

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Alicia Shepard, UNLV’s 2013 Guest Professor Makes a Difference in Student’s Lives, Sets Example with Her Own.

Alicia Shepard

“I never worked on the high school newspaper, never worked on the college paper, I was lucky the guy that I worked for saw something in me … basically I’m very nosy.”

Alicia Shepard’s career in journalism took her by surprise, then led her across the country and halfway around the world. She wrote for a number of years for “American Journalism Review” and has contributed to the “New York Times,” “The Washington Post” and the “Chicago Tribune.”

Shepard served as the public editor for “National Public Radio,” and has taught journalism across the nation. In 2012 she joined the UNLV Greenspun School of Journalism as a guest professor, bringing the school the instant credibility of a nationally renowned media figure.

In her undergraduate studies at George Washington University, Shepard focused neither on journalism nor communications, instead majoring in English and minoring in biology. “I always thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher,” she confessed.  Her senior year however, fate intervened. “I needed a part time job and I saw there was a news bureau the needed an assistant,” Shepard remembers. “I had no interest or knowledge of journalism other than getting the newspaper every morning at home.”

But she was in the door. “It was at a place called ‘Scripts League Newspaper’, a small family owned chain that had papers all over the country.” Once there she learned the ropes as she was taught to rewrite press releases and do smaller stories. “I had an aptitude for it and I liked it and he offered me a job when I graduated. I thought what the heck I’ll do it for a year. And of course I loved it.”

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Rebel Bingo Brings the Circus to Your Dobber

Rebel Bingo

Hercules Johnson

Las Vegas, Nev. — Bingo is not exactly the hip gaming craze roiling the blood of the masses, not the masses under fifty at least. But the traveling circus that is Rebel Bingo is changing the game by infusing costumes, crazy prizes, competitive face-offs for prizes, sexed-up punked out girls talking dirty, and a liberal dose of liquor.

Rebel Bingo, which on July 18 hosted guests at LVH and the Boulevard Pool at the Cosmo, holds court at the Act nightclub inside the Palazzo Casino. Act earns its fame from the side show theatrics that it nightly injects into the standard local nightclub life, thus it appears the perfect environment to host this bombastic underworld party of Bingo and debauchery.

No one appears to blink as the costumed wanderer on stilts shimmies through the crowd surrounding the dance floor.

The show starts a little late but with much enthusiasm from the MC as he called the crowd to the stage. He introduces his troupe, lays down the rules, and the Bingo began.

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Pacific Rim is Giant Action Packed Fun

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Holy Shit. That is all I can say. Pacific Rim is awesome. Easily the most fun movie of the year, and probably the most satisfying movie going experience I’ve had in a long time.Trying to decide if it tops Avengers and Dark Knight Rises, but I have trouble bringing myself to say that. To be fair though, I’m a huge comic book fan, and in the interest of full disclosure I will freely admit to praying at the alter of the Caped Crusader.

I’ve read a couple of reviews saying that characters are two dimensional or heartless and the acting is sub par, but that seems like big action hatering to me. The fact that the co-stars are giant robots and city crushing aliens, in no way detracts from the emotive content of the main characters. Our hero suffers significant loss in the opening scene, loss that is informs his character throughout the film. The central cast has heart, humor and attitude as well as the blessing of working alongside the always awesome Idras Elba.

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And then there is the action, the bruising battles between those giant robots and the city crushing aliens. It’s clean and visually understandable, while still being fast, beautiful and huge; so much better than the mess of mechanics that are the battles in Transformers. The sets are cool and look authentic, characters unto themselves. Guillermo del Toro is at his best creating immersive worlds full of details and idiosyncrasies that give life on the silver screen depth and personality.

In Pacific Rim, del Toro accomplishes all of that and more. He brings to life an engrossing battle for the end of the world with charismatic characters fighting monsters, fear and each other. An underground black market, dealing in the monster’s remains, offers the civilian view of the Earth shaking crisis, and a walk around the war torn city.

Pacific Rim is a huge mind blowing good time. And it is original. Sure it’s inspiration can be seen in Anime and other Asian imports form Voltron to Evangelion. But this is an original story with original characters and something most Americans, not indoctrinated into the world of men piloting giant robots, have never glimpsed before. And it is awesome. Go see Pacific Rim, so we can rave about it later.

Evangelion

Del Toro’s Unexpected Journey to the Pacific Rim

PacRimRobotPostersBigArtUSAfull1

Guillermo del Toro is a different kind of cat. Most Hollywood directors live in a safe zone. Pumping out movies that speak a common language; paradigms, digital effects and retread ideas. Del Toro has a long track record of breaking that mold.

He made his big jump into the public eye in 2002 with Blade II, when he took over the vampire comic book franchise, giving it a horror twist. As  opposed to being a straight sequel to a kung-fu superhero film replete with attractive vampires, del Toro’s villains were terrifying monsters, with pathos even.

He followed up by bringing the indie-comic, demon hero Hellboy  to the big screen, another dark, gritty movie that did not fit into the mainstream paradigm for summer blockbusters. Next del Toro constructed the fantasy noir  fairy- tale Pan’s Labyrinth, a dark otherworldly story told against the backdrop of war torn fascist Spain.

But after the successful sequel Hellboy II, del Toro’s directorial career hit a bump; he signed on to direct The Hobbit. But the Tolkien novel’s rights were tied up in endless legal battles, unable to proceed  with anything beyond concepts and preproduction. For the next couple of years the future of the man and the film sat in limbo, nothing happening except for rewrites. Eventually the eccentric artist had to cut ties and hand the reins back Peter Jackson, the man who directed the films predecessor, The Lord of the Rings.

Finally, with Pacific Rim, del Toro makes his long awaited return to silver screens, bringing audiences a sci-fi giant with aliens and giant robots in, get this, an original idea; at least for Hollywood. Viewers of Asian cinema and late night Anime cartoons may not suffer from such culture shock. pacificrim-artbook_medium

Taking many visual cues from shows like Voltron, Evangelion and Gundam, Pacific Rim is tale of humans, using giant mechanical suits of armor to fight enormous monsters that threaten mankind’s existence.

Idris Elba is the face of the movie from everything that I’ve seen, and that excites me. I’ll take any excuse to get Stringer Bell in a movie. And I love sci-fi. Tonight is discount movie night in Green Valley so I am going to check this flick out. I am pumped to see what del Toro has come up with, an I look forward to some awesome summer movie fun. Hopefully with a twist, and not the Shyamalan kind.

Movie review to come in the next blog. Fingers crossed.

If all goes poorly, will have to join Ron Perlman’s crusade for more Hellboy.

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Lone Ranger Fails the Day

LoneRangerTV

I love movies. I try and get out to the films that are lauded by the critics and cinephiles while bringing in the Oscar nominations. Lord knows I love action packed blockbusters. Growing up a comic fan and Sci-Fi fantasy fan, I’ve been in with the new pop culture obsession with these movies that have come to dominate our summers. Even when they are flawed, I can almost always find redeeming qualities to focus on and enjoy myself.

I wouldn’t say that I had real high expectations for The Lone Ranger, but  I dig westerns, I dig Johnny Depp and many of his eccentric characters and I have no idea who Armie Hammer is. So, I was in expecting it to be fun at the very least. But it was not.

It was long, very long and it was awkward, kind of racist and full of death in an oddly unsettling way. I mean there are scores of Native Americans  massacred and its treated like a weightless sidebar, as its juxtaposed with a pratfallish escape scene. I don’t know if I found it so disturbing because of the context free, emotionless killings or because it was in a movie marketed to children and their families.

Also, I get the impression that no one found this at all racist. Johnny Depp was one of the better parts of the film, and they did attempt to explain away the broken English he speaks … but still. Twenty years after Dances with Wolves and Last of the Mohicans drew great attention for starring actual Native Americans in their portrayals, we couldn’t find a single talent to play this starring role? We had to revert to a white dude in red f … er, white face? If not racist, it’s certainly disappointing.

THE LONE RANGER

And who the hell is Armie Hammer and why is someone trying to convince me he is a movie star? I do not believe it and I am not alone. He has very little charisma, poor comic timing and does nothing to carry this movie. In a movie full of explosions and reckless mayhem I would have expected to prefer the character who dislikes guns and vigilantism, but no. He seems heartless and tongue in cheek in a non self-aware way that is totally out of place in a movie where everyone else attempts to act like their in a modern movie.

I thought Battleship was bad, I was right, but this floptacular bastard at least had a chance before it derailed into an offensive, inexplicably boring failure.

Digital Integration, Be There or Be Square

screen shot final post       And we’re done. Well not quite.

One thing I really enjoy in school is really learning a new skill. Not just learning new techniques and further areas of studying, but learning something brand new that I had never much or ever deigned to play with before. It’s exciting, it reminds me why I’m here, not just for a diploma and recommendations at the end, but to become better at what I hoped to do and to become a more capable person.

The class has really been good for me in this specific area. I never much played with Flickr or Pinterest, in fact to imply that I had even started my own account or done anything more than follow links to them at another’s behest, would be dishonest. I had more experience with Facebook and had even started to post my own professional tweets on twitter. But I had never even flirted with real blogging, not beyond a few short rants or posts on social networking pages, I remember MySpace had an actual blogging function I think. Facebook’s change to “notes” did seem to motivate the creation of such posts.

I now feel like I have a chance in this high tech world. Not only do I feel I may be able to keep up my own blog in a manner that might be described as competent, I no longer see tasks like getting video onto YouTube, or starting a podcast, as so daunting. As Renay SanMiguel  intones in his, now twice read, piece “It’s Hard Out There for a 21st-Century Future Journalist of Tomorrow,” no longer is the newsroom a diverse  collection of uniquely skilled individuals putting the puzzle pieces together as a team.

digital media

This is the future, and every job opening media outlets have is looking for a candidate that can produce more with less. Consequently, aspiring journalists, not to mention journalists looking for better work, need be able to function as a one-man-unit with the ability to produce all of the content needed for publication or broadcast. And they need to be able to do so with a strong internet presence.

The internet offers means to connect to ones audience in a way that could never be achieved in eras past. Sure, you could use an editorial section to get some personal opinions out and to allow some outside  opinions in, but now comments, likes, shares and updates are all just a click away.

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Its something that Mark Coatney, director and media evangelist at Tumblr talked about during his interactive chat session at Poynter.org. I look forward to adding Tumblr to my newfound wealth of interactive creative tools. That and Polls, everybody loves polls?

 

Now that you love polls, make your own!