The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Not a Sophomore Slump

thehungergams-catchingfire-ukposterMany have been awaiting the arrival of the second movie in the Hunger Games saga since the minute the first one premiered. While I did go to the midnight premier of the first movie The Hunger Games, I for some reason was not so inclined to go to the premier of Catching Fire. This I believe was a mistake.

The second film was just as amazing as the first, perhaps even more so. Other reviews for the film are also overwhelmingly positive. The second film did not show any signs of a sophomore slump, in fact, quite the opposite. The computer generated graphics and cinematography were spot on. So was the acting. Jennifer Laurence did an excellent job playing Katniss, once again. This story is even more emotional for her character than the first was, but she handles each scene brilliantly and realistically. Other retuning actors and actresses including: Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanely Tucci and Lenny Kravitz all did excellent jobs as well dealing with emotion and a darker story line.

This film really drives home the idea of rebellion and could serve as a poetic warning of what could happen to real life society in a short period of time. I have heard for several people who have seen the film that they can draw parallels from the Imperial Roman era to the story of the capital and its 12 districts that it rules over.

What I liked most about this film is the same thing that I liked most about the first, which is how well the movie follows the storyline of the novel. I can’t think of many deviations from of what happened in the book to what ended up happening on the big screen. As someone who read the books I think the movies were most excellent, but I have heard from others who haven’t that they get a little lost and confused during certain parts. The series of movies does seem to cater to an audience of young females who have read the book, which is not the wrong audience to be targeting at all, but may deter others from coming to see the film.

Overall I think the movie series has had a lot of deserved success and will continue this trend with the third and final movie in the series. The action, acting and screen play have driven the series so far, and will continue to make it a hit at the box office.

 

JHMR gives away free skiing… for a day

tramFor the first time ever Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offered a free skiing day for all on Nov. 29. In a surprising but effective public relations move the ski resort allowed anyone from anywhere to ski all day at the resort on Friday. The event was sponsored by Jeep and advertised as a way to say thank you to patrons for being named “Ski destination of the year” by many publications and news sources. Swag from both Jeep and the resort was distributed throughout the resort all day, items included: water bottles, stickers, blankets and cookies. In addition to free skiing, the event also featured a raffle in support of two non-profits: Friends of Pathways and Teton Adaptive Sports.

The resort had planned to only open four lifts out of about nine total during the day on Friday, but due to mass turn out and significant snow earlier in the fall they were able to open up one of their main lifts, the Gondola, in addition to the Apres Vous, Tewinot, Marmot and Casper lifts. This move was essential as it evened people out across the mountain and dispersed some of the thick crowds forming at the base of the mountain.

This event showed JHMR’s efforts to include everyone in the Jackson and surrounding communities in mountain festivities. During high winter season tickets to the mountain resort normally cost upwards of $100. But this event was focused on the resort reaching out to those who may not be able to afford such prices. People from all over the state and near-by states showed up for some free shredding.

The mountain was very crowded, which in my opinion meant that they event was a success. One of the only issues was the early season conditions, meaning that their was little snow coverage all around the mountain. By the end of the day on Friday, the entrance to the Casper lift was pretty much dirt and rocks with a little white snow mixed in sparingly.  A live band played in various locations around the base of the mountain throughout the entire day. After skiing most people headed to their favorite watering hole and hung out in the sunny weather.

It is unclear if JHMR will make this type of event an annual deal, but it is sure that the one they have under their belt will go down in the positives column. I know that I would come back for a free day, and I am sure many others would as well, maybe not for the snow, but for the swag.

House of Cards: A drama you can’t stop watching

house-of-cards

Over the past several years Netflix has evolved from a site with a plethora of TV shows and some strange movies mixed in, to one of the most popular video sharing websites on the planet, now with a variety of popular shows and movies. I’ll be the first one to admit that I am addicted. If I didn’t have goals and other sources of motivation, I am afraid that Netflix would suck me into the black hole that is my computer screen and would be my downfall.

I have been through all of my favorite TV shows on Netflix, so this semester I decided to branch out and try something new. I started with How I Met Your Mother, and breezed through eight seasons in just over a month [something I am not proud of]. Promptly after I finished HIMYM, a trailer for the Netflix original series House of Cards came one. I was immediately intrigued, and of course started up the first episode right away.

The series features a multitude of famous actors and actresses including Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright who play the show’s main characters. House of Cards is categorized as a dramatic thriller series, and it lives up to the name. The show follows a South Carolina Congressman, Spacey, who lives and breaths to gain power. He is manipulative, smart charming and forceful when he needs to be. The show also documents he relationships, four in particular. First, the relationship with his wife, Wright, who runs a large non-profit, is supportive of her husband, but at the same time is power hungry herself. Second, his relationship with Washington Harold journalist Zoe Barns, he uses Zoe like a puppet at first  in order to advance both their careers. But Zoe is smart and eventually looks into things that Spacey never wanted anyone to know about. Third, his relationship with fellow Congressman Russo, from Pennsylvania. This may be the most interesting relationship of all as it involves many twists and turns throughout the first season. Fourth, his relationship with the Presidents chief of Staff, their relationship is used as a bargaining chip to get what he wants, but Spacey needs to be careful- sometimes he is not the smartest in the room.

Overall the first season of this dramatic thriller is suspenseful, exciting and keeps you coming back for more. In my case finishing the entire season in a week [again not proud]. I cannot wait for more, luckily I don’t have to wait too much longer as the second season was just announced to premier in early February.

The Best Breakfast: The Crowbar and Grill

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         Recently I did something very much out of the ordinary- I woke up on Saturday before noon. On this special occasion I decided to go out to breakfast. It just so happened that a few of my friends were also up at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m., and we headed down to our regular breakfast spot, the Prairie Rose. Upon arrived and were instantly disappointed, apparently everyone else in the town of Laramie, Wyo., decided to wake up “early” and go to Prairie Rose. There was a line out the door and down the sidewalk. With a 45 minute wait ahead of us, we decided the wait was not worth the delicious cinnamon rolls and breakfast burritos inside the cramped restaurant.

Options were discussed: Perkins? 17th Street Cafe? They all seemed a bit far and less appealing than our first option. At this point I had woken up a bit and remember murmurs I had heard about the Crowbar and Grill for breakfast. It seemed to fit our criteria: it was close and as a bonus there was alcohol. We ventured down several blocks to the much less crowded and pleasant atmosphere that none of us had ever seen in the daylight before.

If you are looking for a traditional breakfast spot then the Crowbar and Grill may not be the place for you, but if you have even a slight sense of adventure and taste for delicious food then I recommend checking it out. Their breakfast menu changes every week and only consists of four to five items, of which only one stays constant each week. On this particular Saturday they were serving stuffed breakfast avocados, cashew french toast sandwich with a pumpkin and cream cheese filling, spinach and artichoke omelets and the ole’ standby which consists of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast. And of course they were serving bloody mary’s and screwdrivers.

Our table of four ordered three spinach and artichoke omelets and I was the outlier who ordered the french toast. We also decided to try some drinks – just to make sure they were as good as the ones we had the night before. Everything was delicious! We never for a regretted for a second our choice to ditch our regular spot and try something new. I have yet to be back, mainly because I haven’t been up early enough to go out to breakfast again, but when that rare occasion does occur I plan to return to the Crowbar and Grill to try something new and delicious.

Le CITY deluxe INTERNATIONAL launches a new APP

Le CITY deluxe INTERNATIONAL launches a new APP.

Finals Destressor Video Project

The last assignment of the semester was to create a journalist video about and event or a non-event newsworthy story. For my piece I choose to cover the “Finals Destressor” put on by University of Wyoming’s Friday Night Fever program. This annual event brings in activities, food, and even therapy dogs to try and provide a fun and relaxing environment for university students before they embark on finals week. The “Finals Destressor” took place on Thursday, May 3rd at 9p.m. in the Wyoming Union at the University of Wyoming. A large group of students took part in: snow cone eating, sand candle making, a photo-booth, chair massages, therapy dogs, and many inflatable play arenas. Their were large lines the photo-booth and snow cones, event hosts seemed pleased by how popular the event turned out to be. My coverage of the event can be seen here.

The event itself was something in itself that was enjoyable. They had many cool and relaxing activities to participate in. One thing that was unenjoyable for me was using my iPhone as my primary camera to shoot the event. I am used to using a higher quality camera, but unfortunately my DSLR that takes video was having technical difficulties at the time of the event. Another negative during this project was that when I uploaded the final video to YouTube many of the images were distorted.

I have filmed and edited video before, and the final product I produced does not really show that. I learned that doing a journalistic type story is different that anything that I have really done before. If I had to do this video again I would make sure the interviewees repeated the questions I asked them back to me so the video would flow better. I would also take more footage next time. I thought I had taken enough, but after editing my voice out and cutting down the videos their was a lot less material than I had thought. Another thing I would do differently next time would be to have enough material so I would not have to use a song to fill the dead space. I think jounalistic stories should not have to have music to make them more interesting, but with mine I did not want to leave silence inbewteen talking bits.

I most definitely think that I will continue to use video in a future career. It is my favorite medium in which to be creative. Even though editing and the programs you have to use can be frustrating, I think that video can tell a story best as well as be something people very much like to watch. I hope to find a career where video is a part of my job because I very much enjoy working with it, and turing out a product that can be creative and informative at the same time.

Tweeting Take Back the Night

For this assignment I live “tweeted” the Take Back the Night Event that took place Thursday, April. 18, at 7 p.m., in the University of Wyoming Union. Take Back the Night was an event that started in Brussels, when the women of 40 countries decided to walk through the streets and bring awareness to crimes against women. The activism of these women spread throughout the world, and now the movement to stop sexual violence against everyone, but especially women has made its way to Laramie, WY.

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Govann Maze from Slam Nuba, a slam poetry group from Denver, CO, preforms an emotional poem about sexual violence issues facing women today.

The evening began with introductions by the hosts who organized the event, the Albany County SAFE Project and the University of Wyoming Counseling Center. The event took was structured into three parts, all of which I attempted to at least present and try to show the progression through my tweets. First there was a rally to celebrate survivors of sexual violence. The rallies main focus was a performance by Slam Nuba, a slam poetry group from Denver, CO. This poetry group spoke about many sexual violence issues against women found in modern-day society. The second part of the event was a march to show support for women who have been sexually assaulted, and to put sexual violence issues at the front of people’s minds. The march ran from the center of campus to the center of downtown Laramie and back. Once back the third and final part of the event began. The Magic Beans, a band from Boulder, CO, played from 9 p.m. to 11p.m. in the Union Gardens to close the second annual Laramie, WY, Take Back the Night Event.

I ended up enjoying this experience much more than I anticipated. I have had a Twitter account for a while, but I never really used it. This event allowed me to explore the cool world of Twitter and to participate in a very cool and moving event that I would have otherwise missed. At the beginning of the night I only intended to stay for the first hour of the event, I ended up enjoying myself so much that I stayed for two extra hours. I think live tweeting the event both enhanced my experience at points and drew away from it at others. I was excited to be tweeting the cool things in the event that happened, so I could share them with all my (2) followers, but composing a tweet also was distracting at times when I would have rather been actively participating. I realize as a journalist the point of reporting or live tweeting is to convey an event or story to others and I need to remember to focus on doing that instead of being a participant.

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Participants of Take Back the Night march the street of Laramie, WY to promote awareness and to stop sexual violence against women.

From this assignment I learned about the diversity of Twitter. I knew the features of the application, but I did not full appreciate them until this assignment. From using Twitter I came to full realization of the power that photos, video, and short text share and when all combined create moments in time so that people who weren’t in attendance could get a snapshot of what the event was really like. One thing that I wish I could have done differently was to be able to tweet throughout the entire event. When we went on the march I lost Internet connection and was not able to tweet during that time, this was slightly problematic, but I just tweeted everything I needed to about that portion when we made it back to campus. I was surprised by how hard it is sometimes to narrow my thoughts down to 140 characters. I thought that would be the easy part, but it turns out to be frustrating when you come up with something great then have to edit half of it out. I wish I had practiced with Twitter just a little bit more to get used to the short format before the actual event.

I think that social media is the key to the future in journalism, PR and advertising. Twitter in particular is a very fast and effective way to get news to people in a matter of seconds. In an ever-changing world, speed is becoming a valuable asset in any form of communication, and Twitter is the perfect tool for the job. This assignment made me realize the interesting things that journalists have the power to share with others that they might other wise miss. This assignment opened my eyes to the world of Twitter and I really do think I will start to use it more and more in both my personal life and in my future career.

Derby Dames and SoundSlides

This assignment incorporated two subjects that our class has covered so far, photography and audio interviews. This pairing was made into a Soundslides project that told a story or presented an event through photos and audio sound bites. The purpose of this assignment was to use two important journalistic skills and combine them in a useful program to display our competence of these skills. My groups final Soundslide project can be found here.

For this assignment my partner Chase and I decided to gather photos and interviews from an inter squad bout of roller derby from The Naughty Pines Derby Dames. I had never been to a roller derby before or knew much about what went on, so I was please that Chase pointed us in the right direction to this exciting happening. The derby was an excellent event to capture on film. It also has very passionate members who were willing and eager to share their experiences and feelings about roller derby in audio interviews.

When we arrived at the roller derby, Chase and I both captured images from the same corner of the arena. We were warned that this was a “danger zone” and that on occasion skaters might fly off the track onto our person and our cameras, but we decided to take the risk and benefited from doing so by taking some very exciting action shots. One benefit we attained from working on this project with a partner was the ability to have one person move around the arena and take pictures, while the other stayed in the original spot. This allowed us to get capture many of the same moments from different angles, as well as capture moments that the other could not from their stationed position.

This assignment was my first experience with the Soundslides program. I think overall this program is effective and easy to use when incorporating both photographs and audio. The program has handy tools to customize each project and creates professional looking results. My partner and I did not run into any problems with Soundslides and I would use it again.

The most difficult part of this project for my group was collecting audio without background noise. If you are not aware a roller derby is a very loud and pumped up environment. Even when we separated ourselves from the main arena to conduct an interview, we still ended up with background noise. Personally I don’t think that a good amount of ambient and background noise is a negative element in our audio. I think that the background noises found during the interviews are appropriate because of the atmosphere and the event that our project was about.

The final audio edit that we have is comprehensive, but one thing that I wish we could have changed was to get a bit more variety in the sources that we collected audio from. I would have liked to have obtained an interview from a fan to find out how they started watching roller derby. Other than that I do not think there are any elements that I would change about our final product.

 

The audio editing process continues… my EDITED interview

This assignment really allowed me to “get my feet wet” in Audacity. It enabled me to explore, use and produce my first edited audio interview that can be found below.
Editied Meredith’s Interview by snakejuicemg

My audio editing experience went smoothly for the majority of my time working in Audacity. I used the select and copy method to edit my five minute interview down to two minutes. I copied the selection that I wanted from the original file and pasted it in a new project, after this I would more finely edit my voice and any noise out to produce the final audio clip. There were a few incidences when I could not figure out where I had gone wrong during the editing process, in this case the “undo” function was my friend. In addition to that handy command I also trouble shot my problems by analyzing the editing program screen closely and picking the most obvious option to fix my problem. For instance, I accidentally created an extra track which distorted my original track’s sound; I fixed this not by using the undo button, but by finding an x in the corner of the screen that deleted the unwanted track. Fortunately these simple tactics worked and I was able to produce an edited interview that I am pleased with overall.

From this experience I have learned that audio editing is simple way to produce a basic but quality sound bite. If you know at least just a bit about how to work Audacity or a program similar, then you can add an extra element to a journalistic story that will engage readers possibly more than just text.

Throughout this project I enjoyed learning about a new program that can provide me with tools to create a product that can be helpful with journalistic stories. Audacity is a cool program and I think that I could learn how to do some fun things with audio if I played around with it more. The only thing that I wasn’t particularly fond of was that I did not know how to use certain effects, but in time and after using this program more, I am sure that I will find out how to make functional and fun audio sound bites.

I cannot say that anything during the audio editing process really surprised me. I suppose that I was marginally surprised about how simple and user friendly the program was to first time explorers.

One thing that I wish I had done differently would be to give more instruction to my interviewee before the interview is conducted. In particular I would ask the interviewee to start off each response by repeating the question, so that during the editing process when I take out my voice it is still easy to understand what the subject is talking about. I would also be clearer to my interviewee that voice recorders will pick up sounds of movement or small noises. In my interview there is just one small section in particular that has slight back ground noise from the subject moving her legs around, it is not very noticeable, but I would still prefer if it was not included in the audio.

Overall I now think that I have a better understanding of the program, which will allow me to use the Audacity more efficiently in the future.

 

The process of a RAW audio interview with a Psych Major

This raw unedited audio file was collected during my interview with passionate psychology major Meredith Krewson.
Meredith’s Interview by snakejuicemg

I am fairly new to the audio interviewing process. I thought that my experience went very well while using an audio recorder. I did not fall victim to any technical difficulties, which I am thankful for! I did have to redo the interview one time because they first set of questions I asked my subject only gave me about a minute and a half of content. For this particular project since I interviewed some one out side of our class I did not get the chance to be the interviewee. If I had to guess though, I do not think that it would have felt strange using an audio recorded to collect my opinions. I used my phone as my recording device and since phones are now a constant part of life and everyone is very used to them I think that this may have provided a more comfortable situation for my subject.sony-ux-voice-recorder

From this audio interview I learned that the interviewer, in this case me, needs to be confident in the questions they are asking. I learned that if I didn’t get all I was hoping for out of a question that it was alirght because I could ask follow-up and more probing questions to gain additional response. I think I also learned that you should be in a comfortable but professional setting if you want to get honest answers out of a subject.

I enjoyed asking specific questions to my interviewee and gaining knowledge about them that I most likely would have not found out in a normal social setting. I also didn’t mind using my phone as my audio recorder, I think that the quality it produces is of high-caliber. One thing that was I did not enjoy was the nerves that I was experiencing before asking the subject questions. I did not want to make a mistake because we were half-way through the interview, but thinking about not making a mistake made me forget the question.

Next time I would like to practice the questions out loud that I will be asking my subject just so I don’t get stuck or leave long pauses on the audio recording. Overall I think that this interview went very smoothly and I think that it is a fun method of journalism that I look forward to using more in the future.