Students get opportunity to enjoy coffee with Minks

Samantha Perera, Contributing Writer

Students had an opportunity to meet SE President Larry Minks and share a cup of coffee with him Friday, Oct. 29. The event, which was held two days after the president’s investiture ceremony, was organized by the Student Government Association and the SE Bookstore.

“We thought this was a good way for the students to meet the president,” said Matt Heggy, president of the SGA. “Dr. Minks and his wife are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and they want to be more involved with the students and the students want to be more involved with them, so we thought this would be a good way to bring everyone together.”

Minks described the gathering as an informal meeting, “so that my wife and I could get to know everybody,” he said. According to Minks, future projects will involve coordination with both the SGA and the Alumni Association. “So this is kind of a first informal step,” he said, “and we will have more formal meetings later on.”

Minks also added that one of his and his wife Joan’s favorite things to do is “visit with parents and students at different events.”

Sushma Ale, a resident hall assistant, was one student who attended the function. Ale said that although she was nervous at first to meet the president and his wife, she was put as ease by their friendly nature and genuine interest in meeting the students.

The Coffee with the President event was held in the SE Bookstore with both students and staff members in attendance. The first 100 students also received a complimentary coffee mug inscribed with “I had coffee with the president!” courtesy of the Bookstore and SGA.

Fraternity volunteers time for service project

Members of Lambda Alpha Chi focus their efforts on readying the New Life House in Durant, a halfway house for women seeking long-term recovery from alochol and drug addiction. Volunteers shown are Josh Smith, Seth Hamilton and Aaron Cathey.

David Reagan, Staff Writer/Photographer

On Oct. 28, the men of Lambda Chi Alpha volunteered their time and efforts to paint the exterior of the New Life House on the corner of Eighth and University.

The New Life House is a newly opened halfway house for women and the first of its kind in Durant.

Lambda Chi Alpha’s initiative for the New Life House is a part of their group projects geared toward getting out in the community and giving back in ways that matter and directly make an impact on the citizens of Durant, said Roberto Aguilar, president of Lambda Chi Alpha.

According to Aguilar, Lambda Chi Alpha’s philanthropic intentions are “to show, by their actions rather than words, the fraternity’s emblem of the lion and the rose, symbolizing the ideal of strength protecting innocence,” as they believe men in the community should do.

According to fraternity educator Josh Smith, “Service and stewardship [of the community] is not only important but considered a quality which we as a fraternity hold very dear and wish to teach all of our members on a regular basis so that they can truly learn how to become responsible men by learning to serve and care for the needs of others.”

The New Life House is a program to provide an alcohol- and drug-free environment in which women who are seeking long-term recovery can seek help and find companionship that encourages sober living.

The entire project’s undertaking has been spearheaded by the current house director Suzie Hicks and brought about entirely through the collaboration and donation by many individuals in the community.

Literally everything in the house from the carpet, pipes, countertops and furniture to the manual labor was donated. In January a house was donated, and as Hicks said, “The rest is history.”

The program gives the women guidelines to follow such as restrictions on curfew, prescribed drugs, visitors and alcohol.

The women must undergo regular drug testing, must work to pay a portion of the rent and must eat together as a household.

The New Life House is now officially open and accepts applicants who are truly seeking help from the community.

According to Hicks, the idea came to her from God while in a nine-month rehab in 2006. “I knew in my heart that I could return to Durant, stay clean and be able to help other women do the same,” she said. “However, my friends, family and the community itself had their doubts.”

Hicks explained that she had to work hard to prove herself to everyone. “I had done nothing but wreak havoc in people’s lives for many years,” she said. “God changed my heart, and I began to want to make amends to the people I love and give something back to the community.”

After graduating from treatment, returning to Durant and starting the 18-month drug court in 2008, she began to work on the project. “We formed a corporation and made it non-profit,” said Hicks. “Then we formed a board and began working on ideas.”

“This is really such a great program, and we will be serving the community in a bigger way than we may ever know,” said Paden Ferguson, vice president of Lambda Chi Alpha. “The opportunity to merely be a part of that by helping out, in any way we can, is something I didn’t think twice about.”

For more information on New Life House, contact Hicks at 984-1305 or 924-2980.

Photos by David Reagan

SE alumni conquer the Appalachian Trail

Lornna Bates, Staff Writer

Darrell and Miriam Parrish, both 59 years of age, completed a five-year long backpacking trek along the Appalachian Trail, spanning 2,175 miles of rough terrain stretching across 14 states. The couple actually met while attending school at Southeastern and currently reside in Abilene, Texas.

Considering the Approach Trail, which is where Darrell and Miriam actually began their journey, Darrell estimated the total mileage the couple accrued at 2,197 miles per person. The Approach Trail is a separate trail that leads to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, which accounts for the 22-mile difference.

Initially the journey began as a summer adventure, said Darrell, a respiratory therapist and advancement chairman for the Boy Scouts. Miriam is a neonatal nursing practitioner. The couple fully intended to complete the entire hike during the summer season, beginning on March 19, 2006 about 80 miles north of Atlanta, Ga.

Darrell and Miriam began amidst cold and sleeting conditions for the first three weeks. After 350 miles into the journey, the hike was sidelined for a five week stay in south Kansas because of an illness and death in the immediate family. With a sizable portion of the summer season gone, Darrell and Miriam continued their journey through to Labor Day, completing 1,150 miles by the end of summer, Darrell said.

Darrell shed 64 pounds in the course of the first summer which ended in Pennsylvania, he said. He also noted that this adventure has taught them healthier ways to eat. Darrell said he would “like to maintain his weight and not gain it back.”

The family has adopted a change in eating habits, such as whole grains, veggies and health conscious foods. Meat no longer plays a central role in their meals, which now include a homemade loaded veggie pizza, which Darrell said is excellent.

The summer of 2007 the couple completed 550 miles before the trip was once again postponed due to a fall injuring Darrell’s right knee, he said. The injury occurred in Massachusetts.

Darrell and Miriam completed only 98 miles of their journey before an unfortunate injury to Darrell’s left knee stopped the trip for the duration of the summer of 2008, Darrell explained.

By the summer of 2009, the couple had reached New Hampshire, but the wet rainy conditions made the going slow and treacherous, Darrell said. “We were both falling three to four times a day,” said Darrell. The conditions caused another postponement to the journey.

During this past summer Darrell and Miriam were finally able to complete the last leg of their journey which ended in Baxter State Park in Maine atop Mt. Katahdin.

Upon their return, the couple had postcards printed for friends and family to celebrate the monumental trip. Darrell and Miriam wrote, “We climbed Mt. Katahdin, the highest point in Maine, on July 29th; we saw spectacular views of clouds, lakes, rivers and other mountains. And, the wildflowers and wildlife will never be forgotten!!”

Throughout the backpacking expedition, the couple encountered many scenic sights, including White Mountain and Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, Mt. Everett in Massachusetts, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is located in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Often the Parrish’s would be hiking between cities anywhere from eight to 11 days from society. The couple carried dehydrated meal packs, their own water-purifying system, extra clothes, sleeping bags and a tent, along with other small necessities, said Darrell. Darrell’s pack weighed roughly 40 pounds and Miriam’s pack 35 pounds.

Darrell said that he was the logistics man on the journey. “My wife does not know the difference between 2,175 miles and 90 miles,” he said. “It’s all just one foot in front of the other.”

Darrell enjoyed the challenge of tracking the multitude of numbers associated with their trip within his head. “How far today, how far total, average mile per hour,” said Darrell, these are among the statistics he kept up-to-the-minute on. He kept track of the mileage travelled up to any position and the mileage that remained. He also said that he is a man who knows numbers, having received a degree from Southeastern in 1975, accounting being one of his three majors.

Along the trail, the Parrish’s assumed trail names. Darrell said that his trail name was “Numbers” and Miriam chose “Butterfly Mama” because of her avid interest and extensive knowledge of butterflies.

Oddly enough, considering Darrell’s involvement with the Boy Scouts for the past 30 years, the idea for the trip was Miriam’s, said Darrell. When asked if there were any future plans for more backpacking expeditions, Darrell said that both he and Miriam would like to journey through the Grand Canyon next summer or through some trails located in Oklahoma. “The plan is to find which trail to do next,” said Darrell.

Photo provided by Darrell Parrish

Wayne Jones boasts diverse career experience

Wayne Jones, chair of the occupational safety and health department, dressed in regalia for President Larry Minks’ investiture ceremony.

David Reagan, Staff Writer/Photographer

This month for the teacher feature, I sat down with Dr. Wayne Jones, the chair of the occupational safety and health department, to write what he called “the only biography of Wayne Jones that would ever be written.”

I wanted to find out more about the man behind the desk and the story beyond the plaques on the wall, how Jones came to be chair of the department and a professor for the past 16 years.

Jones was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas where he lived until his parents moved at the start of middle school. They moved to the small town of Idabel, a mere 95 miles from the town of Durant, where he spent the rest of his adolescence, graduating from Idabel High School in 1979.

Jones, like many current SE students, did not originally plan to attend Southeastern, but after several visits to the nearby university said he could not help but like the school and the town. He finally gave in to the fact that Southeastern was the place for him.

Dr. Jim Cunningham, currently teaching his last semester in the safety department, was Jones’ official academic adviser and unofficial mentor who often invited him over to his house for dinner.

Jones spoke fondly of all of his teachers at Southeastern saying, “For the most part I liked all of them. They truly made the biggest impact on my life.”

Looking back, he said he appreciates these teachers because they pushed him to excel in everything he did. Literally 36 hours after his graduation from Southeastern in 1983, Jones said he found himself sitting in the first day of classes at the University of Central Missouri, starting on his master’s degree with hardly a night’s sleep in between.

After graduating from UCM, he got a job in safety, designing airports. He then moved back down to the Dallas area to work as a safety systems engineer, which he soon found to be very unpleasant. “To be honest, I’m not even quite sure what I did,” said Jones. “All I know is that I just worked a lot with computers and I hated it.”

But Jones said this experience isn’t uncommon for graduates. “You can’t expect the first job you get after graduation to be this perfect dream job,” he said. “You have to be patient.”

The Dallas job ended after two years, and he enrolled in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1988. As an ordained minister, he then worked with churches for six years, mostly at First Baptist Church in Brownfield, Texas.

In 1994, Jones was asked to come back to Southeastern, this time as an adjunct professor. “I love college,” he said. “After all the loans, I was excited to finally get paid to go to school.”

Rather than choosing to make more money in his safety profession, he chose to be a teacher. “I love being the facilitator of learning,” said Jones. “I considered it such a noble profession and plus I enjoyed doing it. I wanted to teach and watch my students succeed as mine did for me. I can tell you that every letter I get from a graduate is proof of that and is completely worth it.”

He went on to finalize his schooling in 2002, receiving his doctorate from Texas A&M Commerce. Jones now has enough plaques to cover all walls with awards such as Outstanding Safety Educator Award, the highest award in his profession given yearly to one person among 34,000 individuals.

“I have a passion for everything I do,” said Jones. “You have to love whatever it is you are doing and pursue it until the end. I always made an effort to go the extra mile, and I finish what I started.”

He encourages diversity within one’s career, educationally, culturally and in general. “Dad told me to learn how to be a barber just in case the whole ‘education thing’ didn’t work out for me,” said Jones. “This is the one sentiment I share with my father. Everybody needs to find a trade in addition to their thinking job.”

Jones is an ordained minister, a pilot, a frequent traveler and explorer, a licensed barber, a college professor, a career professional, a bookworm, a mentor to many and a successful entrepreneur who happens to have a doctorate.

“I love to not only be able to teach and mold minds but be able to actually use my hands to build stuff like working on the car, doing your house’s own wiring or plumbing, wield a shovel or simply build a birdhouse with your bare hands,” said Jones.

“The point is you need to be practical in everything you do, balancing your professional life with your personal life,” Jones added. “You may try to pinpoint me as a teacher, but I do many other things. I pride myself in that.”

It might seem that with the book knowledge of 305 credit hours of college and an amazing career workload, he would be a hermit, but in fact Jones said you would be hard pressed to find him at home when school is not in session. “If I have a few days off or along weekend, I have to get out,” he said. “I can’t stay in the house all day. I love to travel and see new things.”

Jones said one of his favorite travel destinations in New York City, from listening to jazz in the French Quarter to the museums and Broadway plays.

“Any given holiday, you’ll find me in downtown San Francisco sitting on the rooftop of my towering hotel, with friends from around the world, watching the glimmering night lights of the Golden Gate Bridge or possibly sitting under the shade of a palm tree in Key West with a beer and cigar in hand,” said Jones. “I’ll never retire to the country because I always have to be visiting new places and discovering new things”

His personal philosophy is “live and let live,” meaning that he does not approach life from a narrow-minded perspective.

“You are who you hang out with. I learned the key to succeeding in college is surrounding yourself with the right people,” said Jones. “I have always surrounded myself with a diverse group of individuals who are constantly pushing me, pushing each other to be better and achieve more than I would have alone.”

After interviewing Jones, I found a teacher who not only literally started as a pupil, but succeeds because he continues to be a student of the world every day.

Photo by David Reagan

Students given coffee and keepsakes

Every student wants to be invited to something, and SE students received a very special invitation on Friday, Oct. 29. Students always get somewhat excited when something free is involved. I know I do.

Southeastern students had the opportunity to have free coffee with President Larry Minks at the SE Bookstore, where students had a chance to meet the president and voice their concerns.

The meeting with Minks was casual and laid back. It also allowed students to converse with other students and leaders of our campus.

Minks and SGA President Matt Heggy showed up to the bookstore wearing the same attire. It was humorous to see two presidents wearing the same clothing. I’m pretty sure it was unplanned because of the reactions on their faces when they saw each other.

Students learned there are plans for the fountain in front of the Morrison Building. The plans are part of the Southeastern beautification project. Minks showed students the renovation plans for the fountain and other areas of Southeastern’s campus.

The plan for the fountain is to remodel and update the plumbing.

I am pleased to see there is something being done to make the campus come together. A working fountain is just what the campus needs. But it will take a lot of dedication from the students, staff and faculty to make this dream come true.

For most of the students, the free cup of coffee was just the ticket. Free stuff is great for students, especially because we know that our tuition dollars are at work in providing social engagements. Most students also received a free mug that had the Southeastern logo and the statement, “I had coffee with the president.” The mug is an excellent keepsake to show off to your friends and family.




Photos By Alisha Loyd

A word on Durant’s student appeal (or the lack thereof)

As you may have noticed, our paper has recently featured a few conflicting opinions on the “student friendliness” of Durant.

Both writers made some very valid points. As Mr. Slawson pointed out, Durant has a fairly wide variety of potential activities for college students.

However, thoughts like those of Ms. Creasman not only exist, but are fairly common. Personally, I initially believed that Durant held little of interest.

How can the verdict of boring exist when there is, apparently, plenty to do here? I believe the answer is surprisingly simple: lack of publicity.

Even working here in the newspaper with the contacts I have, I find myself frequently having to chase down information on events. While this is part of my job and I’m not complaining, it would make sense for those places wishing to draw in students to appeal to student publications. This rarely occurs.

It would also make sense for these places to implement advertising strategies aimed at students; a business card that says “10 percent off with SE ID” in the window is great, but we aren’t going to notice that from the road. Heads up to graduating Ad/PR students…

I remember when I discovered Pizza Hut’s discount implementation; there wasn’t even a sign at the time. I just happened to pay with my SE debit card, which I had done before, and the cashier asked if I could show her my ID for the discount. Ten percent may not be much, but to a poor college student, it’s huge and should definitely be advertised.

Furthermore, I have eaten more pizza since discovering that student discount.

The volunteer opportunities are not as well-publicized as they could be either. There is potential for a very strong collaboration between various non-profit organizations and Southeastern, and, with the exception of a few classes, this potential does not appear to be recognized.

Bored college students can get a lot of work done, and this would lead to these organizations being helped and to a very strong public image for Southeastern. It would be nice to see more cooperation between the two.

Finally, clear the chickens off the runway, I’ll be the bad guy (bonus points if you get reference), but I would like to spend some of my free time not sifting through bags of clothes or canned food. Volunteering is fantastic and an incredibly rewarding venture, but a little fun is nice as well.

Assuming I don’t wish to go bowling, the only thing left to do that really seems collegiate is gorging myself on donuts and free wifi (Don’t get me wrong, Dandy’s is beyond awesome).

It is true that students can find things to do in Durant if they are willing to really look, but in this scenario, the students are the customers, and if I’m not mistaken the customers are generally sought by the businesses.

The problem is not the lack of student friendly activities, but the lack of student friendly advertising. Durant has the potential to be an amazing college town; it only lacks the communication between student and business necessary to make it feel like one.

-Brandi Bunch, managing editor

Film academy proves rewarding

Tyler Slawson, Contributing Writer

It was July 22 as my friends and I were strolling along the conference center in Orlando, Fla., where we had just won first place for our film “Relentless.”

“So, Tyler Slawson, now that you have won the award, what are you going to do next?” my friend asked, impersonating a reporter.

“I’m going to the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Academy,” I responded confidently. And I certainly did.

On Oct. 24 I flew out of Love Field, bound for San Antonio and unaware of what to expect. I woke up the next morning at 6:30, ready to see what the Lord had in store for me.

I arrived at the convention center shortly before 8 a.m. I followed the signs with arrows to go and check in for the week. For the few people I passed on my way, all they probably could say is that I was beaming. I had been waiting for the Academy since I had heard about it in October 2009.

I had no trouble making friends. I had made three before the first lecture.

I knew already this was going to be a great week.

The Academy was intense to say the least.

Classes began every morning at 8:30 and ended about 9 in the evening, except for the second day on which classes ended at 11 p.m. I heard some very deep and fascinating lectures by world-renowned Christians in the world of film.

Some of the more notable speakers were Kirk Cameron, known for his role in the show “Growing Pains” and more recently for his role as Caleb in “Fireproof”; Stephen Kendrick, co-writer and producer of “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof”; Oscar-nominated composer Bruce Broughton; David Cook, author and screenwriter of the upcoming film “7 Days in Utopia” starring Robert Duvall; and many successful graduates of the Academy.

It is simply amazing what God can do. These people would not be where they are now without God.

People came to the Academy from all over the world, including some from New Zealand who quickly became my friends.

It was their first time outside of their tiny island country, and they came for the same purpose the rest of us did: to see what God can do in the film industry.

After the Film Academy concluded, the latter part of the week was the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. I was able to attend screenings of some great inspiring films.

Christian Films have come so far.

Lord has blessed me with many experiences in my life, but I can honestly say the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and Christian Film Academy has been one of the greatest blessings so far.

It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

So, as I sit here and reflect back on my experiences in San Antonio and where God is leading me, all I can do is sit back and smile because I know our God is an awesome God.

And as I think about the Christian film industry as a whole and where it’s going, a quotation from “Facing the Giants” comes to mind: “Get off the tracks because the freight train’s coming.”

Disturbed misses the mark with ‘Asylum’

Unfortunately, the album cover for “Asylum” is just about the most interesting part of the album.

Joel Dameron, Staff Writer

Disturbed burst onto the current metal scene with their 2000 debut album “The Sickness.” The album spent 103 weeks on the charts, selling over 4 million copies worldwide. It was recently certified quadruple platinum. The singles “Down With the Sickness” and “Stupify” introduced the world to singer David Draiman’s signature vocal wailing and Dan Donnegan’s trademark guitar techniques. I was 14, and it was the heaviest thing I had ever heard at the time.

There were loud, thick, distorted guitars, screaming, pounding breakdowns and crazy expletive-filled rants (at least in the non-Walmart version of “Down With the Sickness”) courtesy of Draiman.

I spent the next few months trying to make my guitar sound as dark and distorted as Donnegan’s. I did not not know at the time about amps or dropped D tuning, so it did not work.

The album was good. Unfortunately, their latest effort falls far short.

“Asylum” was released on Aug. 31, and it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Congratulations to the boys for having four consecutive albums debuting at No. 1. That being said, that is the only congratulatory remark they will get in this article.

There were two decent songs and one honorable mention. Only about a handful of the guitar riffs were of substantial quality. I found that a large amount of the songs had at least one good part, but that is about as far as the album’s eminence goes.

Let us start with “Remnants,” which is an instrumental intro. Donnegan’s solo was kind of cool. It did remind me a bit of something the late Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) would do.

Next we have the title track. “Asylum” opens with the typical pounding Disturbed style guitar riff. Draiman comes in shortly after with his usual grunting and yelling.

I do commend Draiman for straying less and less away from his “Sickness” archetype though his escape is gradual. The chorus is pretty epic and deserves a little credit for its metal catchiness.

However, it is a much too common Disturbed chorus. They have fallen into the habit of doing this on their last few albums.

“Another Way to Die” is the best song on the album. The opening guitar riff is pretty cool, and its combination with the first little solo is awesome. It once again reminds me of a slower Pantera-type song.

The distorted riff that comes in after the first part is pretty awesome as well. The chorus is very nice.

I believe this was the first single. Good choice, boys.

“The Animal” and “Serpentine” have an interesting chorus setup. Other than these songs, that is about as interesting as the album gets.

Another song worth mentioning is the cover of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” It was a hidden track at the end of the album.

I do not like U2 at all, and I never will. I hate Bono’s preachy politics (you are a rockstar, stop your whining and get over it) and I think the Edge is severely overrated as a guitarist (the man has one sound.)

All hatred aside, they have a couple of good songs, and this is one of them.

Disturbed does very well at covers. The cover of “Shout” by Tears For Fears is great and one of my personal favorites.

They also did a cover of the Phil Collins song “Land of Confusion” on their 2005 album “Ten Thousand Fists.” Their cover was not bad, but I do not like the song choice. The music video was terrible as well.

They also did great covers of Metallica’s “Fade to Black” and Judas Preist’s “Livin’ After Midnight.”

“Asylum” just was not that good of an album. It was not a disappointment for me because their last four albums have just gotten progressively worse.

Ever since they strayed away from their first album sound and went towards the whole new-age ’80s metal thing, their quality has diminished to the point of boredom and predictability.

This is said in light of the fact that both Donnegan and Draiman could probably easily beat you up if provoked.

Hopefully my rating does not provoke them.

I have to stop writing now before it affects my abilities and turns me into a hack. Until next time, make love not war.

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‘Toy Story 3’ delivers hilarity and nostalgia

She’s easily distracted by dream houses with walk-in closets, but don’t let that fool you; Barbie is a plasticized female Chuck Norris.

Brandi Bunch, Managing Editor

The latest in Pixar’s flagship film series recently hit DVD, bringing back another round of warm, fuzzy feelings all over the country. “Toy Story 3” currently holds the record for highest-grossing animated film of all time and for good reason.

I will admit that I was somewhat hesitant to go see a movie with such an enormous gap between the second and third installment, for fear that it might have been a phone-in mess that some random studio grabbed in order to play on a franchise name.

However, it was indeed Pixar. You have to trust Pixar. So, even though I was curious as to why they waited so very long to put out the third movie, I dutifully went to the theater.

I very quickly figured out that Pixar is composed of a massive group of evil geniuses.

All of the original actors reprised their roles, with the exception of Jim Varney, who passed away in 2000. His friend Blake Clark stepped in to fill the role of Slinky Dog.

Those first few minutes of home video and the cheesy lines that kids love so much gave my inner child a tremendous sugar rush, which turned into a pleasantly thought-provoking surprise when I saw that Andy had grown up along with his audience.

All of a sudden, our beloved protagonists were snatching his cell phone to get some attention while every college-aged person in the audience began thinking about his or her old toys. Like I said, evil geniuses.

Lacking a few casualties of time, the remaining toys valiantly band together to make for an orderly transition to the attic, where they will live out the rest of their days while Andy navigates college life. Unfortunately, shenanigans ensue, throwing them into a daycare’s donations box.

All is well at first; Barbie meets Ken, happy little toy-lovers are everywhere and the grand tour, given by a lovably fluffy pink bear named Lotso, makes everything look like paradise. Woody wants everyone to leave, but leaving the promise of love and play doesn’t sound so great to everyone else. After all, it’s perfect there, so why give it up for a dusty attic?

And then, suddenly, small children everywhere! Unfortunately, these are the sorts of small children that terrify full-grown adults, let alone toys (seriously, these little animated monsters will make you afraid to reproduce). Naturally, Buzz tries to organize an evacuation, but Lotso suddenly isn’t so friendly any more…

It just gets better from there, suddenly turning into a fast-paced tale of espionage and danger, complete with the confused bad guy who wants the good girl, the protagonist leader getting hacked and turning into a Spanish-speaking karate-chopper of doom and an incinerator. Yes, that’s right, an incinerator.

The characters are as amazing as ever, with the exception to this being Barbie. No longer is she a mere bubble-headed blonde with improbable proportions; she’s a dominatrix in hot pink heels, and she gets the job done. The later scenes between her and Ken were so hilarious that I have no shame in saying that Barbie was my favorite part of the movie.

Each of the new characters managed to be funny and memorable as well, no small feat with such a large cast. Instant-messaging addict Trixie the triceratops was particularly amusing.

The graphics have changed with the technology, but the appeal of the film remained the same as it was with the first two. There was hardly a person in the theater who wasn’t sniffling when it ended, and I would be willing to bet that a lot of them were wondering where their old toys had ended up.

Even if you think you’re safely out of the phase in which animated films appeal to you (loser), “Toy Story 3” is amazing and 100 percent guaranteed to be a regretless rental.

Those sneaky, evil Pixar geniuses dragged me right back into my childhood. And I loved it.

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‘Standing Firm’ proves both inspiring and poignant

Tyler Slawson, Contributing Writer

We’ve all been in a tough situation at some point in our life. We’ve been writing that paper that is so specific that there aren’t enough sources to support it. We’ve had to give a speech and been afraid of the audience. We’ve been laid off. We all face tough problems in our life.

For the characters in “Standing Firm,” things get really tough.

The story begins at a funeral. David has lost his wife. Steven has lost his mother. Jen Corwin seems to have been the glue holding the family together. Now with Jen gone, where is the family headed?

The film deals with lots of tough situations including loss, fatherhood and keeping the faith.

After David reluctantly agrees to attend church and leaves mid-service, he orders his son to keep his religious life private and away from him.

With the house in danger of foreclosure, David works harder than ever to save it while dealing with regret over the death of his wife.

Steven doesn’t give up hope, and thanks to a supportive friend and inspiration from his late mother, he continuously prays for his father.

The production company behind the film describes the film as “a story of suffering, God’s purpose in it and being joyful despite it.” This is the most accurate description of the film I have read.

The emotional plot isn’t sad throughout the whole film. It has lighthearted comedic parts as well, which make for great comic relief.

One of the more interesting subplots involves Steven and his evolving friendship with Maggie. People mention that they have been spending a bit more time together, and he is eventually encouraged to ask her out. Steven’s awkward scene of asking her out is definitely one of my favorite scenes.

The plot is certainly memorable and is loosely based on the director’s parents’ early marriage which makes for a realistic plot. Plot Rating: B

The story behind the film is also inspiring. The film was made by an all volunteer crew and all but three volunteer actors. Kyle Prohaska, the director of the film, shows experience in his first full-length feature film, and it is worth noting that he’s only 23.

The acting isn’t Oscar-worthy but memorable. Debra Prohaska’s performance in flashbacks as the deceased wife is most notable as she captures every scene in which she appears.

“Standing Firm” shows just what anthropologist Margaret Meade said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It is amazing what a small group of people can do with what they are given.

After the film ends before the credits roll, a memoriam of all the cast and crew who died during filming is given. This will have you teary eyed, I promise. It is one of the most touching things I have seen in a film.

The film score is very well done and matches the plot effectively from the plot’s dreary beginning. This is a Christian film and references scripture occasionally, but it doesn’t beat it over your head. It finds a nice balance of inspiring and informing but allows the audience to soak it in on their own terms.

For years, the view of Christian films has always been associated with a garden vegetable or a dairy product, but I am pleased to say this film does not qualify under either. Filmmaking Rating: B

As far as family quality is concerned, it is very clean. There are no suggestive scenes or language of any kind. The film contains good morals and an uplifting message.

There is little else to say about the family content other than it’s great. Family Rating: A

The film isn’t perfect but is impressive. I enjoyed the film a great deal and look to buy it on DVD soon.

It is currently on DVD and can be rented via Netflix or bought at your local Christian bookstore. I highly recommend it for anyone going through a tough time or needing inspiration.

You should not discount this film because it is a Christian film. It is a film with a great message and an anointing.

We all experience tough situations in life, but with faith we can overcome. Final Word: See it.

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