The Oh Hellos Deliver with “Dear Wormwood”

 

March 22, 2016

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Less than a month ago, I had never heard of the Oh Hellos, but now they are one of my favorite bands to listen to. I was skeptical at first since I don’t normally gravitate towards the folk genre, but after listening to “Dear Wormwood,” their newest album, I was converted, and it’s all that I’ve listened to for the last two weeks. Musically, The Oh Hellos do an amazing job. Not only is the album very well produced, but the lyrics are extremely deep and well written. If The Oh Hellos’ are a non-Christian band, then they’re the most Christian non-Christian band that I’ve ever heard. “Dear Wormwood” is a concept album, something I personally am a sucker for, that deals with ending this horrid relationship with sin that we’ve so long held onto. The title is taken from the stage production “Dear Wormwood,” which is itself a stage adaptation of “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis.

The album starts with the beautifully orchestrated “Prelude” that gives the album a sense of epicness right from the start. It gets the listener ready to experience the rest of the album. It swells into this amazing ending before fading out on a more reserved note the sets the tone for the next song on the track.

Following “Prelude” is “Bitter Water”. This song has a very laid back, folky feel to it that I think well represents The Oh Hellos’ sound as a whole. The mandolin melody line is very fun to listen to, but the fun feel of the song misrepresents the true meaning of the lyrics. It can be very easy to miss the tension in statements like “lovely bitter water” and how that refers to our own addictive relationship with sin.

I was very close to writing that “Caesar” is my favorite track on the album. I enjoy the feel of it, and I absolutely love the lyrical work here. “Caesar” would not feel out of place in an Easter service. It talks about our coming King and how the world is waiting for His return. It calls us to wait for Him and to look for the signs of His coming because He IS coming back.

“Soldier, Poet, King” is yet another song on this album that has really deep meaning hidden beneath a fun and lively exterior. Underneath this Irish-folk sound, there’s an amazing promise that Jesus (the soldier, poet, king) is going to return to set everything in this world right again. It is an immensely hopeful idea that puts a smile on your face and joy into your heart.

“Dear Wormwood”, the title track, is my actual favorite. It has this haunting tone to it that sends chills down my spine every time that I give it a listen. This song acts as a personal message to our “wormwoods” (the demons, fears, and sins that weigh us down). The song boldly states that “I know who you are now”, “I know who I am now”, and that “I declare you my enemy”. While these may be seemingly simple ideas, in light of the Gospel and of Scripture these truths can change everything. It’s a beautiful idea that is coupled with an equally beautiful music backing.

If you can’t tell, I highly recommend this album to anybody and everybody.

-Nick Shepherd, Contributing Writer

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 10 of The Mississippi Collegian

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Who are you when no one’s looking?

March 1, 2016

There’s a song by Blake Shelton called, “Who Are You When No One’s Looking,” and in the song, he is basically talking about the woman he loves and the quirky things she does when he’s not around. The message in that song can be used when thinking about the people you interact with everyday.

In today’s society, everything from race, skin tone, and even religion plays a part in how people view each other. Everyone is one way in public and different when they’re in the comfort of their own home. There are over 5000 people at MC, and some are putting on a brave face everyday or trying to impress their teachers and peers. However, it is important to stay true to the qualities that you possess or the things you love like video games or watching The Walking Dead. Those things speak volumes about who you are as a person.

So who are your fellow peers and professors when they aren’t standing in front of the class trying to give a speech or grading papers and helping steer you in the right direction? Are they secretly master chefs or extreme adventurers? Have they read every Nicholas Sparks book and play Call of Duty every night before bed?

Senior MC student Victoria McCurdy says that she thinks everyone will always see her as an athlete. “Sometimes it feels like I have athlete printed on my forehead even though I haven’t played in two years. I’m so much more than a soccer player though,” McCurdy said.

Some of the things she likes to do are drawing and going to art museums. “My favorite artist is Georgia O’keeffe. I feel like that’s something that a lot of people wouldn’t guess. I’m not just some jock,” McCurdy said.

For Biology professor Erin Norcross, she says that she does a few things that no one would guess just by looking at her. “I sew and do wood work. I have made a couple of chairs,” Norcross said.

Mike Johnson says he likes to dance in his spare time. “I think a lot of people would be surprised if I told them. My friends still don’t believe it. I guess it’s because I’m a big guy that it seems so weird,” Johnson said.

People are quick to judge others based off of appearance without ever getting to know what makes that person who they are. So the next time you see someone, try not to be too hasty in your decision on that person’s personality or interests. You never know who’s doing what when no one’s looking.

-Ayanna Bloom, Contributing Writer

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 9 of The Mississippi Collegian

Men Don’t Grow Up, They Just Get Older

March 1, 2016

“L-A-Z-L-O, L-A-Z-L-OOOOOOOO, and Lazlo was his name-o.” I recently rediscovered a cartoon I remember watching in elementary school, Camp Lazlo. I remember laying on my living room floor, eating Chex-mix and watching Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon everyday after school. Watching a multitude of episodes has brought back the feeling of nostalgia of watching Cartoon Network and then recapping the next day at school. (The coolest kid was the one who directly quoted every line).

It seems like a thing with all men, no matter what age, to love cartoons. I remember waking up many mornings to watch Spongebob Squarepants with my Dad before getting ready to go to elementary school. Back then the episodes were simpler and ten times better.

I was sitting in my dorm room, on my futon, with my computer in my lap and a box of Cheez-It’s next to me watching Camp Lazlo on Youtube. I looked around at myself and realized I had reverted back to 10-year old Seth, and it was actually kind of fun. There was something special about feeling like a kid again, a new sense of freedom I guess.

Since I have been in College, I’ve found myself getting into hobbies and activities I used to be into when I was younger. I built model airplanes, (the glue together not the “snaptite”, snaps are silly). I started collecting baseball cards again and started playing Mario Kart again with a few friends.

I think what draws a lot of guys to cartoons and to hobbies meant for a younger generation is the simplicity of it all. When we were kids, we had nothing to worry about. Our parents took care of everything and the only decision we had to make was what flavor of Capri-Sun to get. (Pacific Cooler was my personal favorite).

Once we got older, things got harder. Friends started to change and school got real. We lost the innocence of running around in the dirt with our friends and playing Dragonball Z on the playground at school. (Or whatever you played. That’s what we did, and I had a good childhood).

Cartoons have the power to take us as men back to the years before girls mattered and before we had to shave our faces and dress ourselves.

For me, it was shows like Fairly Odd Parents that told me I didn’t have to grow up and shows like Spongebob Squarepants that told me all I need in life was a passion and an idiot friend who would always be there for me. (Except for the episode where Patrick goes to boating school and gets Spongebob in trouble with Mrs. Puff).

When I realized, though, that I was a kid again, I felt good again. It made me happy. I felt silly, and I love to be silly. Taking life too seriously is pointless. Why would I want to be serious about everything when I could have fun? I think that’s the key to a good life: to stay young at heart and find a friend that will laugh with you no matter what.

-Seth Reeks, A&E Editor

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 9 of The Mississippi Collegian

The Force is Strong with Star Wars VII

February 1, 2016

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photo via starwars.com

One of my most vivid Star Wars-related memories is not my most pleasant. During a seventh grade English class, my teacher told us about how he was struggling to think of an appropriate Christmas gift for his grandson. “Is Star Wars something you kids are into these days?” I perked up, ready to give a proud “Yes it is!” and profess my lifelong love for the franchise to my classmates. However, before I could say anything, one of the louder students there that day blurted, “Star Wars is for babies!” Shocked by the realization that not everyone dressed up as a Jedi for Halloween, I sunk back into my seat, bottling up what would have been an embarrassing confession and a one-way ticket to the losers’ table at lunch. This memory was one of the many thoughts racing through my mind as I eagerly awaited the opening text crawl of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”

From the instant the Star Wars logo flashed on the screen, I did not stop smiling for several minutes. It hit me that after all the trailers I had watched and watched again, this was finally a real experience that I was about to have.

The movie quickly introduces newcomers to the series in a manner that makes them shine thematically, in new roles rather than obvious ones that would replace the original heroes. Poe Dameron, the Resistance’s best X-Wing pilot, is played by Oscar Isaac. Even though he has a minor role in the story, he is an easy character to enjoy having on screen. John Boyega’s character, Finn, fills a series-first role of renegade stormtrooper in search of a cause. It may be said that J.J. Abrams wrote a little too much Americanized sass and attitude into Finn’s character, but his humor does provide refreshing scenes of comic relief to the film. Daisy Ridley plays her role of mystery-shrouded Rey with triumph. It could be argued that she is the main protagonist, as Rey, on several occasions, shows traits of leadership and confidence essential for one in her position. These three are well-equipped candidates to be passed the torch for the new trilogy.

The primary antagonist of “The Force Awakens”, Kylo Ren, brings a, dynamic, unsettlingly complex character to a flat, “let’s-blow-this-thing-and-go-home” storyline. His evident psychological troubles and obsession with Darth Vader make him a far more interesting plot point than his predecessors. His struggle with the Dark and Light adds a feeling of ambiguity to his personality that is entirely new to the series. This is an excellent direction to go for his character development, and I’m sure we’ll see more of it in films to come.

Despite all the good, the force-driven narrative that propels this story is not without its flaws. The actual story of “The Force Awakens” harkens all too strongly back to “A New Hope.” I remember thinking to myself while watching for the first time, “Don’t you think the First Order would have learned that big round things that shoot other big round things just don’t work? Pick something else to wreak havoc!” Callbacks to the original trilogy are all fine and good, but the Death Star’s replacement Star Destroyer, the Starkiller Base and the sole mission to destroy it are what make the newest addition to the franchise so much like the original trilogy. Abrams was given a blank canvas upon which he could add countless new dynamics to the Star Wars universe, but, instead, he played it safe and adapted a plot that had already been used twice before: shoot the bad guys’ big weapon.

None of this is to say that “The Force Awakens” is not a cinematic triumph. Its use of modern cinematography and seamless incorporation of practical effects makes it all the more deserving of the innumerable records it has shattered. The stage is set for all kinds of new adventures with our budding heroes, and the future is promising. Star Wars is once again a franchise that everyone at the cool kids’ table talks about, and that’s all that my seventh grade self could have ever wanted out of a continuation of his favorite epic from a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

-Noah Mathis, Contributing Writer

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 7 of The Mississippi Collegian

A Day without a Phone

February 1, 2016

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photo courtesy of Seth Reeks

To some this seems like a noble endeavor: to rid oneself of the most important screen, the screen that holds all the wonders and magic of life, the screen that could run the Apollo Rocket to the moon and back, the screen that could connect the user to people on the other side of the world, the universe (if there were cell towers and life on other planets), the screen that lights our collegiate world. And I went a day without it.

        I made a deal with myself. The conditions were simple: 24 hours, no phone. I would use it as an alarm, then it would be turned off and stored in a desk drawer for the day. I also could not look at my computer or any of my friend’s phones. I could have no electronic contact.

        I picked Friday. I had no classes and nowhere to be so I felt it would be easier. My alarm went off at 8:30, just in time for breakfast. By the way, my alarm was the the LSU fight song. Geaux Tigers. I popped out of bed, without a shower (yeah, I know I’m disgusting), and headed to the Caf. I greeted Mrs. Ethel as I always do, “What up Mrs. Ethel! How’s it going fam?” She gave me the usual, eggs and sausage. I sat with Chandler Key and waited for the day to get awesome. After I ate and left the Caf, I went and cured cancer, solved world hunger, and brought peace to the Middle East. Well maybe not. (Also, just a little aside, I eventually took a shower that day.)

        I want to say that I had some sort of major revelation when I didn’t have my face buried in my phone, but really it was a normal day. I ate, I drove around town looking for an 80s windbreaker and I hung out with friends. What I really learned from the whole experience is how much time we really have in a day and how much of it goes wasted. I was on the move for the entire day. As soon as I woke up I felt like I had to keep going to stave off boredom. I gave little thought to rest and kept my mind on what I could do next. As soon as one activity was over, I did the next thing that came to my mind.  I drove to every thrift store and resale shop in search of my precious, colorful windbreaker. I threw a baseball on the quad for the first time since camp, andI took a walk around the brick streets. At 12 o’clock midnight, I took the Trace to the Reservoir. On the way back I hopped onto I-55 on a whim and drove through Belhaven’s campus at 1:30 in the morning. (Yes, I got weird looks from all the security guards.)

        There were struggles I will admit. Not being able to find people when you’re specifically looking for them and having to hope by chance that you run into them is rather frustrating. Also I found that you have to sing to yourself because other than the car radio or my record player, there aren’t many other ways to play music.

        But this is how I want to live life, always hungry. Hungry to live and experience, never ceasing to be awesome. I never want to look around and hate where I am or what I’m doing. And I saw this when I looked up from my screen, my precious screen where all life and entertainment happens, where I am connected across campus or across town or across the world. When I put it down, a whole new world opened up. I felt let down, though, that something amazing didn’t happen to me. No concrete thing hit me in the face and told me “This is what it’s all for; this is why you’re here.” But I discovered something important when I realized that, as college students in particular, we have so much time, and we’re wasting it.

-Seth Reeks, A&E Editor

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 7 of The Mississippi Collegian

Adele Returns with “25”

February 1, 2016

“Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years, you’d like to meet.” I think we can all agree that the moment we heard her iconic, smoky voice in an unexpected Secret commercial, we gathered as a worldwide population and geared up for Adele’s new album, “25.” I, for one, was not disappointed. The album features the mournful ballads she’s known for, but it also contains some plucky tracks such as “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” and “Sweetest Devotion.” On that note, “Sweetest Devotion” sounds like it’s about her child that she seems captivated by, given the fact a young child’s laughter can be heard on the track.

Of the eleven official songs and three bonus tracks, a couple of the songs are forgettable, but several are going to be iconic. “When We Were Young,” “Remedy,” and “Love in the Dark” are three such songs that begin in a soft wave and build to beautiful, heart-wrenching crescendos. If you’re looking for some classic, rainy-day, hot-cup-of-tea music, this is the album to get. My favorite track, “Million Years Ago,” is a song that begins with a gently played guitar reminiscent of “Lovesong” from her album, “21.” The song itself isn’t quite a love song, though it has the same tone, and it has a thread of nostalgia and sorrow that’s intoxicating to a person who has past regrets (which, if we’re being honest, is every one of us). That being said, though the song has a deeper, sad tone to it, the guitar and rhythm keep the song moving in a melody that wraps around your heart like a blanket.

While most of the songs have the perfect blend of remorse and hope played out by Adele’s honey-smooth voice, there are a few that make me think of a church choir or gospel song, such as the final track, “Why Do You Love Me.” I personally tend to skip those tracks, along with the second and seventh because of the redundancy of the choruses. Every album will have its hiccups though, right?

“25”, which was released November 20, 2015, became an instant commercial success within its first few days. In the United States, 3.38 million copies of the album were sold within the first week, breaking every record for the most albums sold in a week. You couldn’t enter a room without hearing someone humming “Hello.” Adele’s voice still holds the same magic as the past, captivating the general populous as well as critics all around. There were three large concerns with this album before it ever began production. Adele faced a vocal surgery that was a danger to her voice, she was a new mother, and she had serious doubts about her writing abilities for songs. It’s public knowledge that it took several years to convince Adele to stay in the music industry and give it another shot. We can all be glad that she did and continue hoping she’ll keep enchanting us in the years to come.

-Maggie Rapier, Contributing Writer

this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 7 of The Mississippi Collegian

What’s Your Study Soundtrack?

–Megan Cole, Reporter 

Nearly everyone listens to music. Some people prefer certain genres, while others are open to anything and everything. But what kind of music is the best to study to? Finals are approaching and students everywhere are preparing. This typically includes stocking up on plenty of snacks, taking well-deserved Netflix breaks, and of course, listening to lots and lots of music.

In fact, music keeps us focused, motivated, and awake. According to Stanford School of Medicine’s recent research, music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions, and updating the event in memory. Music has also been found to lower cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) and anxiety more effectively than most drugs do. Apparently music not only makes us feel good, but provides many physiological benefits.

This explains why music is of great importance during the most stressful week of the semester: finals week. As students settle in to the stress that comes with the end of the semester, we asked students what kind of music they recommend for studying.

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Many students find instrumental, lyric-free songs the most helpful when focusing.

“[Music with] no words [is] important,” said senior instrumental music education major Jonathon Cason. “Because then I’ll sing, and not study.”

Classical music and other relaxing movie-soundtracks were recommended several times by many MC Students who preferred study music with no lyrics. Among these recommendations were The Piano Guys, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Mozart, and other classical composers. The most popular composer named was Hans Zimmer, a German film composer and music producer. Zimmer has composed music for over 150 films, including various film scores such as The Lion King, Interstellar, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. This means many students are probably more familiar with Zimmer’s work than they realize.

In addition to the well-loved movie scores and classical movements, students’ study playlists represent a variety of genres. There are many popular platforms to listen to music as well, which include Pandora Radio, Youtube Playlists, iTunes, and Spotify. Here are some of the most popular MC student recommendations and some tips as you prepare for finals.

“Hardcore rock ‘n’ roll and metal rap.” – Chris Fisher, sophomore chemical physics major.

“Post-Rock. It’s instrumental, no words. Long. Beautiful. It’s good for sleeping and for staying up, as it provides enough stimulation to keep one aware. My favorite choice is ‘Godspeed You!’ by Black Emperor.” – Joshua O’Neal, senior English literature major.

“Pretty much just whatever comes up on my Christian station on Pandora, but I especially like the Afters and Sidewalk Prophets.” – Joy Rittenhouse, freshman biology medical sciences major.

“I don’t study to music, but I’d imagine ‘Living On a Prayer’ would be good.” – Alex Dougherty, senior chemistry medical sciences

“I listen to classical, relaxing music during the studying. No words. Every ten minutes I take a break and listen to a pop song. When the song is over, I go back to homework.” – Jessyca Bryan, senior English education major.

“Elvis Presley, all day every day.” – Kristi Ralston, junior elementary education major.

“Christian rap.” – Jonathan Poe, sophomore Christian studies major.

“Instrumentals, ABBA, and indie!” – Casey Clark, senior art major.

References:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/15/health/brain-music-research/

http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2007/07/music-moves-brain-to-pay-attention-stanford-study-finds.htm

Review of the book “Motivation Manifesto.”

-James Osborne, News Editor

“There comes a time in the lives of those destined for greatness when we must stand before the mirror of meaning and ask: Why, having been endowed with the courageous heart of a lion, do we live as mice? We must look squarely into our own tired eyes and examine why we waste so much time sniffing at every distraction, why we cower at the thought of revealing our true selves to the world, why we scurry so quickly from conflict, and why we consent to play small. We must ask why we participate so humbly in society’s frantic race, allowing ourselves into mazes of mediocrity and settling for scraps of reward when nature has offered unlimited freedom, power, and abundance to the bold, the determined, the creative, the independent – each of us.”

This is taken from the first page of the book “Motivation Manifesto” by New York Times bestselling author Brendon Burchard, who also wrote the books “The Charge,” and “Life’s Golden Ticket.”

You may be a graduating senior looking for extra encouragement and motivation to chase a dream job, or someone chasing a dream or personal goal. If you are seeking to believe in yourself, to improve in your classes next semester, to overcome fears and obstacles, or just looking for a good book to read, then the “Motivation Manifesto” by Brendon Burchard is for you.

The book is powerfully written and at times poetic. It has simple yet profound statements. Parts of the book are as if the reader has travelled back in time and has the opportunity to hear from the great orators like the founding fathers during America’s revolutionary war or even as far back as the Greek scholars and academics like Plato. Unlike some books on motivation like Daniel H. Pink’s “Drive” or the famous “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, there is no technical jargon or pages that read like an academic journal. Instead, the “Motivation Manifesto” contains powerful and easy to read prose that gets straight to the point of what is needed in life to push ourselves to greatness.

Burchard writes about simple yet powerful subjects that we often overlook in society like being intentional, being present in daily life, being determined and focused on our goals, and seeking joy and thankfulness. The book has an introduction which is written like the Declaration of Independence, and two sections. Section One deals with human nature on freedom, fear, and motivation. Section Two is called the Nine Declarations which all start with “We Shall” and are titled: We Shall Meet Life with Full Presence and Power, Reclaim Our Agenda, Defeat Our Demons, Advance with Abandon, Practice Joy and Gratitude, We Shall Not Break Integrity, Amplify Love, Inspire Greatness, and We Shall Slow Time.

The theme of the book is seeking “personal freedom.” Being intentional, staying present in our lives, seeking joy and gratitude, moving past our fears, being motivated, and seeking to be the best we can possibly be are lessons we all need to learn.

Brendon Burchard also has a popular YouTube channel and blog. Burchard is giving away the “Motivation Manifesto” book for free after the $7.00 shipping and handling fee along with a 12 week online course when ordered at www.motivationmanifesto.com.

“Let us awaken now and realize there is greater vibrancy, joy, and freedom available to each of us. There is more feeling. There is more power. There is more love and abundance. But gaining access rests on our shoulders, for only two things can change our lives: either something new comes into our lives, or something new comes from within. Let us not hope for mere chance to change our story; let us summon the courage to change it ourselves.”

7 Gifts to Make Mom Happy this Mother’s Day

-Alexa Jenkins, Copy Editor

Everyone knows the old saying: “If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” No matter how true this is for your family, there’s no denying that any mother (or grandmother or mother-figure) loves being appreciated any day of the year. Thankfully for college students, someone marked a day on the calendar so we have no excuse not to give Mom some attention. This year Mother’s Day is on May 10, right after finals are over, so you need to plan ahead. If you’re stumped, here are some ideas.

  1. A Gift Basket. This one is awesome, because gift baskets are inexpensive, easy to make, and the possibilities are endless. There are lots of cool ideas on Pinterest (which is not just for girls), such as a Spa Day basket with lotion and candles, a Movie Night basket with a DVD and popcorn—so many ideas.
  2. Sharpie Mugs. If you’re a little on the artistic side, decorating custom mugs for your mom is another fun, affordable way to make her day.
  3. This Downton Abbey scented candle. Because moms love candles, and moms love Downton Abbey. There is no way to go wrong if you buy this for her. (Found in your local Books-a-Million or wherever fictional-tea-scented candles are sold.)
  4. Manicure/Pedicure/Massage. This was my mom’s pick when I asked her for ideas. She also said highlights…then said that one highlight might be all a college student could afford. So there’s that.
  5. Anything made out of a mason jar. Seriously, we are talking candles, flower vases, or even a genius combination of a gift basket inside a mason jar.
  6. A good book. Everyone can use a good read. Bonus points if you’ve read the book and can discuss it with your mom. Double bonus points if you write her a heartfelt note inside. Triple bonus points if you go big and buy her a Kindle.
  7. Your undying love. Yes. You should most certainly buy and make gifts for your mom, and you should appreciate her on Mother’s Day in particular. But more than that, you should make sure that she knows you love her – everyday.

MothersDay

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