Scary Movies Have a New Fan

I am a glutton for punishment.  This hasn’t always been the case.  I blame the recent shift in judgment on two old friends.

picture from iwatchstuff.comFor years I avoided scary movies like the plague.  If blood, killing, screaming, kidnapping, or aliens were involved, I was not.  Eerie fog? Escaped psycho villains? Not a chance.  So, you would think that when these two so-called friends suggested not one, but two horror movies on one uneventful night, I would have protested more than I did.  I blame it on the lure of the 3D experience “My Bloody Valentine” offered.  Because the next thing I knew, there we were, sporting lopsided 3D glasses on the couch in a very dark living room, watching a bunch of teenagers meet their gory demise in a creepy old coalmine.

I feel that night may have given me a false sense of security.  Sitting in the comfort of my own home, locked safely away from the outside world (and only a few inches away from the light switch) helped make a much braver audience member out of me.  By the time the second movie ended, my feathers were puffed and I felt ready to face the big screen.  A few weeks later, I walked into my first true horror film experience and thought back to my living room and miscalculated the ridiculousness that the directors had thrown at us.   As the opening scenes from “Drag Me to Hell” began to play across the 40-foot span and the increased decibels of the surround sound filled my ears, I quickly realized how wrong I had been.

This is where the gluttony comes in.  Even after clinging to the person next to me for the entirety of the movie and swearing afterwards “never again,” itThe Fourth Kind wasn’t long before I found myself standing in line saying “one please” for Jennifer’s Body.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the company responsible for “Paranormal Activity” decided Harrisonburg needed to “be a part of the phenomenon,” leaving me yet again watching a movie with only one eye half open, hiding safely behind both hands.

Despite the terror I face each time, I find myself begging for more.  Although it’s much cheaper to watch from the safety of Huffman Hall, my 13-inch ten-year-old Sony just doesn’t compare to the theater experience. This dilemma is why I can’t wait for the free advanced screening of “The Fourth Kind” next week.  I just hope whoever sits next to me is prepared to deal with the screaming, gasping, and possible clutching that very well may occur.

– Courtney

We’re Goin’ on a Ghost Hunt

It is a question that every person walking this earth has asked themselves….. What will happen to me when my life ends? Obviously, I cannot give you an answer to this question, but in light of UPB’s event this evening, I can expand on one theory for the afterlife: your spirit can continue to function on earth as an apparition. There are many of picture from gocanada.about.comus out there that do not believe in ghosts. I was among this demographic for the majority of my life, basing my reasoning on what we as a society know to be logical. It just didn’t make any sense to me how anyone could believe in something so fantastic and vague. Why haven’t we seen more of them, and why is it that we can’t prove their existence? Then I took a step back and realized, that I couldn’t prove that these spirits were any more fake than they could prove that ghosts were real.  This epiphany just rocked my world, and I now consider myself open to the idea of souls lingering on after their times.

You all have seen the countless movies, read the numerous accounts, or maybe even had an spectral encounter yourself. Among these sources there are a great number of reasons given why someone’s soul would continue to have a connection to the living – such as unfinished business, a wrongful deed committed in life, or (according to J.K. Rowling) they were just afraid to leave. While we can’t be sure what the reason, one thing I can tell you is that there have been many legends of hauntings around the JMU community.

One story you may not have heard of however is the “thirsty ghost” of JMU. People claim that our former President Samuel Duke Ghost Hunterstill wanders the premises of a Shenandoah Hall on the quad (now the Alumnae Hall). Instead of trying to scare students, his trademark is causing drinks to fall out of the vending machines in the building. It seems that even the ghosts around our school are friendly.

If you are an avid believer or not in ghosts, the ghost hunter coming to campus tonight should offer some thought and sense provoking insights. He will even be more fully exploring the infamous ghost of the Wilson bell tower. Legend has it that an adulterous affair ending in a hanging in our campus’ most recognizable building – and the event tonight has set a goal of delving deeper into this tale. Hope to see you at Festival tonight for a very unique experience.

– Stephen

Halloween v. Thanksgiving

It’s a debate that I’ve had with countless people: Which of the fall holidays is superior: Halloween or Thanksgiving?

Let’s look at the different aspects of these two annual traditions.

picture from iwatchstuff.com1)  They both have equally bad Charlie Brown movies. If I am alone in thinking that “The Great Pumpkin” storyline is enormously agitating then I’ve lost all faith in humanity. All-in-all this really isn’t a differentiator of either holiday; however, film in general is a huge factor seperating these days. There are literally thousands of films dedicated the the eerie culture of late October, ranging from light-hearted films like Hocus Pocus and Casper to spine-chilling horrors like my favorite Nightmare on Elm Street. In contrast, I’m really struggling to come up with anything for Thanksgiving……

2) Neither of these holidays would be worthwhile if it weren’t for the food. While Thanksgiving focuses on grand meals that require hours of strenuous labor in the kitchen, Halloween’s cuisine can be prepared with a few dollars and a ten minute trip to Walmart. I’m not claiming that the feast in November is not incredible, but for what it’s worth some candies are really high up on my list of favorite things (Who honestly refuses a Reese’s?).

3) Which would you rather decorate your house with come autumn: A couple turkeys and pilgrims, or jack-0-lanterns, spiderwebs, witches, ghosts, vampires, mummies, and an endless list of Halloween staples?

4) There is the parade on Thanksgiving that starts getting everyone in the mood for Winter Break, but I believe that the costumes and trick-or-treating of Halloween still trumps this aspect of Thanksgiving. I mean there’s only so many times that you can still be amused by a giant inflatable Garfield. I am constantly amazed every single October how creative some people can be with their sometimes funny, provocative, or really original costumes.

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This was my costume for about 3 years

5) Tradition is a big factor for these holidays. Thanksgiving usually comes with football……but so do the other few months surrounding that random Thursday every year. You do get to see your family again for possibly the first time in a while – which can be great. On the other hand you might be reminded why you only choose to see them every once-in-a-while. As far as Halloween goes, who doesn’t look back fondly to running around in a Power Ranger costume all hyped-up on sugar as a kid?

There are avid fans arguing for both sides of the question, and I hope that my in-depth analysis will be enough to open some of your eyes to the supremecy of the winner of the fall holidays: Halloween. UPB is choosing to celebrate this holiday today on the commons from 10 Am to 2 PM (although mother nature may frown on us, in which case it will be held in Transitions). I personally helped carry 200 pumpkins ready to decorate into our storage room, so I hope to see you all out there today.

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– Stephen

RDU Review: Taylor Hall Meets American Idol

I am Carrie Martin, the Coordinator of UPB, and it is my job to advise this wonderful group of students who bring amazing events to campus. As part of my job it sometimes falls under my responsibilities to “participate” in events. Carrie MartinFor example, just last night I contributed my opinions as a judge for “Rumble Down Under”, a battle of the bands-type event that pinned ten student performers and bands against each other for their own programmed show on campus. If we were speaking in terms of American Idol,  to clearly define my style as a judge you could place me appropriately between Paula Abdul and Ellen Degeneres.

Other than her tendency to slur words and speak illogically, I think Paula is best known for her positive and bubbly feedback for performers. Similarly, it broke my heart to not declare every performer a winner because I was so blown away by some of the talent here at JMU. I was so impressed by the quality of music that it was almost impossible to make me choose one – I just wanted to hug them all as they got off stage for even having the guts to perform! It was hard for me to give anyone low scores, so I just avoided it by judging entirely through comments rather than quantitative score. How do you pick a winner when you just want everyone to be happy?!
As far as my qualifications to actually judge a music competition, that’s where my likeness to Ellen comes in. In high school I played the trumpet and had a steady rise to fame as a stepsister in the musical “Cinderella” – but that just about sums up my experience with music performance. Everyone else on the panel came from a music industry background and provided far more useful “Simon” or “Randy”-like feedback. In comparison, I gave bonus points to people who clearly enjoyed being on stage (great job”The Last Kings”) or got people to clap along (well done “Lights in the Fog”). I wanted to hear their stories and conversations with the audience (thank you Andrew Rohlk). I was impressed by the performers who made me laugh (thanks for your song about Purell, James Orrigo) or those who rolled with the punches (way to play with a broken string, “Whiskers and the Sly Raccoon”!). Basically, as a judge I 80 One Recordsrepresented every-person in the room who just wanted a performance that made me want to hum along or get up and dance.
So while I felt a little like the odd ball out compared to my other colleagues on the panel, I definitely enjoyed myself. Congratulations to “Stay at Home Greg”, the “Rumble Masters” of TDU. I don’t know if everyone in the audience was already a fan before the event, but I think they are now!

– Carrie

Welcome to the Rumble

Tonight is going to be a night to remember. Ten bands have made it through the auditions to participate in Rumble Down Under’s fierce battle-royale this evening. Each band only gets a fifteen minute window to excite the audience and impress the judges. The performers are competing for a chance to have UPB program their own concert for the student body this November.

Rumble Down Under

The tentative schedule for the acts is currently:

1. Lights In The Fog 7:00-7:15
2. James Orrigo 7:15-7:30
3. Grant Thomas 7:30-7:45
4. The Sun Kings 7:45-8:00
5. Andrew Rohlk 8:00-8:15
6. Yesterday’s Hero 8:15-8:30
7. Stay At Home Greg 8:30-8:45
8. Whiskers and the Sly Racoon 8:45-9:00
9. Luke Hartman 9:00-9:15
10. The Last Kings 9:15-9:30

I don’t want to introduce any personal bias into this process, but I will tell you that I already own one of these artists’ CDs. Standing out in a campus of over 16,000 undergrad Dukes, the work of these musicians is nothing to scoff at. There is a tremendous amount of talent that flows through this campus. Who knows, maybe one of these artists will go on to experience the success of JMU Alum Phil Vassar. All I can say for sure is that I’ll definitely be in the crowd for this one tonight voting and voicing my opinion on these local bands.

– Stephen

Falcon Heene = King of Hide-And-Seek

While I was (obviously) being very productive in the office last week, I happened to turn to CNN and the latest “breaking news.” Reporters thought that somehow a young boy named Falcon Heene managed to get himself a one-way ride on a rogue balloon. Later, though, he was found hiding in a box back at his house………

picture from’m not even going to touch on how bizarre it is that this was national news, or how disturbing it is to think that this may have all been a ploy for attention by the boy’s parents. I just wanted to give Falcon the respect he deserves for being a true champion at hide-and-seek.

Let’s get this clear. I was a hide-and-seek god as a kid. I found that I could go hours unseen in dark, enclosed, and pretty uncomfortable spaces (Only much later in life did I find out the real reason I was so good at this game. Apparently my older brother would tell me to go hide, and then insted of fulfilling the seek aspect he would just continue to watch TV).

However extraordinary my skills were when I was younger, they still pale in comparison to Falcon, the true prodigy. picture from cbsnews.comHe somehow was able to keep quiet in a box with swarms of media circling his home. That’s talent right there.

The next time I don’t feel like doing a press release for Late Night Breakfast, I’ll take a page out of Falcon’s book – I’ll release a balloon to distract the JMU campus and then quickly use my old talents and hide in a box in the corner of the UPB office………. Fool proof plan right?

– Stephen

The Sun-Day Forecast 10/18/09

This week around the JMU community:


Rumble Down UnderRumble Down Under
The second annual Rumble Down Under is back! Come see ten of the best bands around JMU battle it out this Thursday, October 22 in TDU. The event starts at 7 PM and each of the artists get a 15 minute set to impress the audience and judges. The competition this year consists of Stay at Home Greg, Luke Hartman, The Last Kings, Lights in the Fog, James Orrigo, Grant Thomas, The Sun Kings, Andrew Rohlk, Yesterday’s Heros, and Whiskers and the Sly Racoon. Last year’s winner Joshua Vana will also be performing during the judge’s deliberation. Look out for the the top band”s own concert put on by UPB this November.


Disney Late Night BreakfastLate Night Breakfast
Come by Festival this Thursday night from 10 PM to 12 AM for the Disney themed Late Night Breakfast! Not only will there be free food, but there are also balloon and caricature artists, a roaming magician, and Disney Scene-It and trivia! There will be classic Disney movies as prizes, so come prepared. Trust me on this one, I consider myself to be a master of Disney trivia – and these questions are tough. As if all this wasn’t enough, there is also going to be a contest to see who can design the best LNB series t-shirt.


Cloudy With a Chance of Movies

The Ugly Truth

“The battle of the sexes heats up in Columbia Pictures comedy The Ugly Truth. Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) is a romantically challenged morning show producer whose search for Mr. Perfect has left her hopelessly single. She’s in for a rude awakening when her bosses team her with Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), a hardcore TV personality who promises to spill the ugly truth on what makes men and women tick.”

Funny People (featuring UPB’s favorite Aziz Ansari)

“George is a very successful stand up comedian who learns that he has an untreatable blood disorder and is given less than a year to live. Ira is a struggling up-and-coming stand up comedian who works at a deli and has yet to figure out his onstage persona. One night, these two perform at the same club and George takes notice of Ira. George hires Ira to be his semi-personal assistant as well as his friend.”

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