Nerd Factor: Replace, Recast, or Reboot

By Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

The Definitive Story of How Marvel Studios Created the Marvel Cinematic  Universe | Marvel

Time is an illusion, comic book time doubly so. In the stories of Marvel Universe, events flow at a strange pace in relation to our own world. For example, when I was starting my comics fandom, Spider-Man was about twice my age. In a few years, I will be twice his current age. That’s not a huge problem for comics. Oh, dedicated fans will spend a lot of time trying to figure out how all of those events fit into Spidey’s or some other character’s fictional life, but these superheroes are images on paper. They age at a rate their creators impose. The live-action Marvel stories face a greater challenge.

Since its official debut in 2008’s Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has more or less paralleled our own times. Narratives may get a little ahead of now or behind now, but except for some deliberate flashbacks, they mostly take place now. That’s an important choice because the actors playing the roles are going through real time.

This is not an argument about aging. If the functionally immortal characters like the new Eternals really catch on for a few decades, there may be some CGI tricks or narrative changes needed to preserve that idea. Some characters like Rocket and Groot or the Hulk do not have to age at all. Human actors may age as gracefully as they like. 


Thorn in the Paw

By Rylee McDonal ~ Copy Editor

Depression and Drug Addiction - Victory Addiction Recovery Center

Drug addiction is a disease that affects many Americans to this day. As of 2020, 11.9% of Americans 12 and older use illegal drugs. However, the most difficult part about information like this is that among these people, very few receive the help they need.

In my personal experience with someone close to me who was affected by this disease, it was a very difficult thing to overcome this issue alone. Not only did they suffer from drug addiction, but they also had another battle involving their mental health. 

This was a difficult thing to overcome, and it was not always easy to help them. There would be days where they would be angry and aggressive, and some days they would hardly leave the house. However, through it all they were able to come out on top and have a life beyond this one label.


Wakanda Forever, Arrakis Whatever

By Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Dune co-writer says the HBO Max movie will be set up for a sequel |  TechRadar
Dune Splash Screen. Image from https://www.techradar.com/news/dune-co-writer-wants-you-to-decide-if-itll-get-a-sequel

This column contains potential spoilers for the recent movie, Dune (2021). It may also contain spoilers for Black Panther (2018), but really, why haven’t you seen that yet?

Through one of those curious accidents of timing, I happened to watch Black Panther for my film class the day before the newest version of Dune debuted. For most of my life, I’ve been somewhat indifferent to the story of Dune. I never fell in love with the novel the way other people have. While beautiful at times, the 1984 film directed by David Lynch was achingly long. The most recent movie has left me feeling let down again. This time, however, the comparison has given me some insight into why. 

Both stories are of roughly the same time. Dune, the novel by Frank Herbert, arrived in 1965. The Black Panther, the very first black superhero, showed up a year later in Fantastic Four #52. The tales share a similar premise. The planet Arrakis is the source of the spice “mélange,” a mysterious substance upon which the entire economy of the future is dependent upon for space travel. The Panther’s native land of Wakanda is likewise dependent upon a unique material. Vibranium is an extraterrestrial metal with amazing properties that allows this African nation to enjoy considerable prosperity. 


A Halloween History

By William Hayden Dietz

How to Carve a Pumpkin for Halloween - Pumpkin Carving Tips and Instructions
Cute Pumpkin! Image from: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/halloween-ideas/a22196/pumpkin-carving-tips/

In early American history, Halloween was not celebrated to the extent that it is now. 

Halloween originally stemmed from many cultures and religious traditions, such as the Celtic culture, Paganism and Christianity, and was originally two holidays: Hallows Eve and All Saints Day. 

In the past, Halloween was not as associated with horror or fear as it is now, rather communion with the dead, although the beginning of the winter and the ending of harvests could be scary for pre-industrial people.

It is the Gaelic influence from mass Scottish and Irish immigration in the 19th Century to the United States that Halloween was celebrated by wider American culture, and it from these cultures that wearing scary masks and dressing up is thought to be from.


Stopping The Label

By Hunter Epperson ~ Copy Desk Chief

Virginia governor election: Glenn Youngkin beats Terry McAuliffe
Youngkin. Image from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/02/virginia-governor-election-results.html

Nov. 2  was officially election day for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, House of Delegates, some local offices (varies by locality), and believe it or not, I decided to vote Republican for the first time.

Little about me, I am a single young gay man from a middle-class family from Forest, VA where my mother works two jobs, and my father works sometimes 12 hours a week. 

People automatically assume because I am young, and a gay male I was automatically going to vote for Terry McAuliffe solely because of the labels I have, but it was not the case this year.

For the last two previous elections, both being the presidential elections, I decided to vote for Biden in 2020, and Clinton in 2016; but yet I felt like for the governor election, I felt like my state needed change, which is why I voted Republican this time.


Watch With Me: Dune

By Rylee McDonal ~ Copy Editor

Dune 2 Officially Announced, Will Get Theatrical Window
Dune Poster. https://collider.com/dune-2-announced/

Dune: Part One is an exciting and thrilling movie that leaves viewers begging for more. The movie stars many renowned actors, such as Zendaya and Timothy Chalamet. Additionally, the movie is a major development from its 1984 counterpart.

Both Dune movies are inspired by a series of 15 novels with the first being released in 1965. 

They are essentially Star Wars, even inspiring George Lucas to make the classic series. 

Both share very similar qualities, from an order of beings with powers over the mind, to a galactic empire bent on becoming the most powerful force in the universe


Nerd Factor: The Parking of the Cars

By Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Halloween Was Once So Dangerous That Some Cities Considered Banning It -  HISTORY
Vandalizing a tree. https://www.history.com/news/halloween-was-once-so-dangerous-that-some-cities-considered-banning-it

When I was a kid, the day before Halloween was a time of intense preparation at my home. My mother ensured that we had plenty of candy to give out. We always had the costume picked out and ready to go. Decorations were up too. What preoccupied us as the day neared were the defensive measures needed to protect our home from pranks. I don’t think we had a term for it, but in my childhood nostalgia, I often think of this as “the parking of the cars.” 

Where I grew up, pranking and vandalism got largely detached from the holiday of Halloween itself. I suppose that was a pragmatic choice. In the Cape, Halloween itself was about gathering as much candy as possible in strategically and intricately planned runs through the community. Perhaps those expeditions took precedence. Or maybe there were too many eyes out on the street during Halloween itself. 

I learned when I left home that some parts of the country do not have this tradition at all. In other places it is known as “Devil’s Night” or “Mischief Night.” In some areas, this night can have terrible consequences. Destructive arsons were a terrifying feature of Devil’s Night in Detroit, for example.


A Deeper Look: Under the Surface of Squid Game

By Andrew Wheeler ~ Assistant Opinion Editor

Why 'Squid Game' is Everything That's Right With Netflix – The Streamable
(Promotional poster for Squid Game, from Netflix)

Squid Game is hardly an unknown phenomenon by this point, as it has quickly taken the world by storm in a manner never before seen on Netflix, especially for a foreign series. For the massive amount of us who have taken the time to sit and take it all in, it’s easy to see why. But what is it about this Hunger Games-esque scenario that is captivating so many people?


Nerd Factor: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

By Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

DC Comics Drops "The American Way" from Superman's Motto After 83 Years for  More Globalist View
Old Catchphrase

Over the weekend, DC Comics announced a change to Superman’s mission statement. Instead of fighting the never-ending battle for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” the Man of Steel would instead be working for “Truth, Justice, and a Better Tomorrow.” 

Superman is one of the best-known fictional creations in the world. For this reason, everyone, from the most ardent fan to the least interested person, has some idea of who they think Superman is and what they believe Superman ought to be. 

Given this perspective, it is possible for some to see this reconfiguration as a political statement and a dismissal of American values. On the next slow news day, pundits and talking heads on certain channels will decry this as the latest evidence that a liberal media elite hates the country. These commenters will yearn for a simpler time when Superman was not so controversial. 

Of course, that time never existed. 


Mystic Magic: Eclipsing Moon Rituals 

By Emily Maxey ~ Staff Writer

Lunar Eclipse 2021: Diet beliefs and myths associated with the celestial  event - Times of India
Lunar Eclipse. Image From https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/events/lunar-eclipse-2021-diet-beliefs-and-myths-associated-with-the-celestial-event/articleshow/82967211.cms

It is the month of October, the time of the year where we begin to see the true shortness of days and the elongation of night. In Wiccan culture and many other spiritual and religious paths, October is a month in which the veil between life and death becomes thin. 

In writing, fall represents the coming of death, transformations, and maturity. In Wiccan culture, fall is the season of the Witch’s New Year (Sahmain, Oct. 31). October for Wiccans is a time to connect with departed ancestors. The full moon in October is the Blood Moon. Dark colors this month will bring prosperity through the times.

There is a common meditation for Wiccans to form a connection with passed spirits. The thinner the veil of the spirit realm, the more effective this meditation is. 


Watch with Me: ‘Halloween Kills’ at The Box Office

By Rylee McDonal ~ Copy Editor

Halloween Kills (2021) - IMDb
Halloween Kills poster, image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10665338/

The movie, Halloween Kills, premiered nationally on Oct. 15, 2021. The movie picks up immediately after the Halloween movie in 2018. This new addition to the franchise makes the very idea of the masked killer quite ridiculous.

It plays off the idea of mob mentality, with the entire town banding together to take down Michael Myers, who miraculously survives a house burning down around him, while also killing 12 firemen in the process. I personally can’t believe it took them this long to realize they should stay in groups when facing a killer like this. 

As a slasher film lived up to what everything is meant to be, it is meant to be full of kills that make you want to throw up. 

Also, the movie brings in characters that we have not seen for a couple of movies. Some of these characters were side characters that had no real role in the events of the previous movie. We see a recast of Tommy Doyle, played by Anthony Michael, and Lindsey Wallace, played by Kyle Richards. Both characters were children when Michael first attacked Laurie Strodes, played once again by Jamie Lee Curtis. 


Nerd Factor: Vampire Diets

Dr. Mike ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

Vampire Eating Meat Stock Photo - Download Image Now - iStock
The best Stock Image I have ever seen. Image from https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/vampire-eating-meat-gm184660146-17816443

I think it must be hard to be a vampire.  The supernatural powers are pretty cool. And while all the weaknesses are challenging to keep track of, that’s really just an organizational problem. Also, who wouldn’t enjoy living in a remote castle? Well not too remote. you’d want broadband and good wi-fi. I suspect the eating habits must be the real challenge. 

I don’t just mean the blood. I figure that every vampire just has to get over the blood, both in a moral and physical sense. I mean what’s a vampire going to do? Eat rats? Steal from the blood bank? I’m sure that’s fine for the brooding, anti-hero types, but it’s not going to keep the undead stamina up. Vampire feeding is no doubt very messy too. Still, that’s probably a lot like going to a barbeque. A bit of careful dining and some wet wipes should keep the face and clothes clean.

What I mean is that mealtimes must be challenging for vampires. In some ways vampires have access to the biggest menu imaginable. There are seven billion potential meals awaiting them on the planet. But for reasons of safety, a vampire must be a very careful eater. 


Mystic Magic: Spirituality VS Religion

Em Maxey ~ Staff Writer

Religion vs. Spirituality: The Difference Between Them
A lady doing… something. Image from https://chopra.com/articles/religion-vs-spirituality-the-difference-between-them

There is a common belief among many people that spirituality and religion are the same. When we are blind to the differences, unintentional prejudice occurs to those most vulnerable. The main difference is simple and easy to understand. 

Religion is an organized set of beliefs and practices shared by a group of people or a community. Spirituality is the individual practice based around a sense of peace and purpose that is free formed without predetermined values. 

With that being presented as the definition of religion and spirituality used throughout, the biggest difference to me is that spirituality is a learned concept based on experiences while religion is taught and passed down from generations. 


Drug Punishment Inequities at Lynchburg

By Alyssa Wilson ~ Assistant Editor

Combating Drugs and Crime - United States Department of State
Drug Bust. Image from https://www.state.gov/policy-issues/combating-drugs-and-crime/

Several weeks ago, rumors started swirling on campus that a certain sports team was caught doing illegal drugs. Weeks later, there have seemingly been no ramifications to those students who are still on campus at the University of Lynchburg. 

While we as a campus newspaper generally don’t publish rumors, the nature of this conversation and to protect our sources, we are merely going to raise issues of inequity.

The university has a zero drug tolerance policy on campus which is proved through the many students who have been kicked off campus for marajuana use. According to pg. 81 of the student handbook,  any students found in possession of any drug marajuana and otherwise, will receive an automatic suspension from the University of Lynchburg. So, why are all drugs not being treated the same? 

Within a class I am taking this semester, we have been following the development of this incident on our campus. Although we as students have been talking about it, there has been no talk about these drug infractions being reported to the Dean of Students or Student Development. 

Assuming the school does not know about these infractions, what I find to be appalling is that the use of this illegal drug is not being escalated to the Dean of Students, but is being handled internally by sports teams. 

On the other hand, if the school does know, this presents extreme punishment inequities between both the use of the drugs and the students. 

Many of the students who are being kicked off campus for marajuana usage are not part of a sports team or any kind of organization where punishment is able to be handled internally by the leaders of that organization. Whereas, in a sports team setting, these students have some kind of protection by their coaches and staff. 

Again, this goes back to the question of whether or not the Dean of Students even knows about this incident, but from other things that have circulated around the student body it is not the first time there have been complaints about drug use and sports teams on campus nor will it be the last if it is not brought to administration’s attention. 

Regardless of administration’s knowledge of drug use, my question is if the university preaches a zero tolerance drug policy why is more investigation not going into these allegations of  drug infractions?

Living the Scream Life

By Dr. Mike ~ UL Communications Professor

3 Things You Didn't Know about Black Panther's Ulysses Klaue (Klaw)
Ulysses Klaw from Marvel’s Black Panther. Image from https://www.entertainmentearth.com/news/black-panther-villain-ulysses-klaue/

Some superpowers are pure wish-fulfillment. Everyone dreams of flying. Other powers seem like extensions of ordinary life, magnifications of what ordinary humans can already do. Sonic powers are an excellent example of this. As such, they appear more manageable. However, a would-be superhero or even an aspiring supervillain should be careful what they wish for when it comes to sound. 

For some, sonic powers become persuasive amplifications of the human voice. Take, for example, The Voice. An old school villain of the original Ant-Man who has nothing to do with a musical talent show, the Voice had the somewhat unsurprising power to get people to do what he said. He spoke and they believed or obeyed. Ant-Man beat him by inducing a severe case of crippling laryngitis. Other villains do similar things through music. The Hypno Hustler, an occasional foe of Spider-Man, uses technologically souped up instruments to control minds through disco music.

The Voice and The Hypno Hustler are about as goofy as you think, minor annoyances who fortunately do not possess the cunning to capitalize on their domination powers. They are also unable to affect people who are deaf or people with earplugs. Additionally, this sort of power must be demoralizing. Surely, even The Voice must wonder if he’s ever had a genuine human interaction and not just something he made someone do. The Hustler must worry that it’s the machines and not the music that creates his audience.  

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