Mount Hood

Holiday Article

Written by: Nicholas Sarysz

While holiday festivities are something many look forward to, not everyone feels enthusiastic about them, nor should they have to. After all, it’s usually no fun being vigorously told “Merry Christmas” by boomers who assume your personal holiday traditions are the same, waiting for the same greeting in response.

Family gatherings, along with the traditional facade that all is merry and bright, can be a dreadful combination that many understandably avoid.

There are holiday activities for those who are social and excited, but what about those that want to avoid all the commotion? There are still plenty of alternative activities, which include, but are not limited to, gaming, binge-watching, learning a new hobby or skill and enjoying seasonal delicacies.

Playing video games, despite being a popular year-round activity, can get much more exciting during the holidays. It’s a fully indoor activity, which is crucial given the dreary winter weather. Many platforms have in-game events, as well as special unlocks, challenges and collectibles to commemorate the holidays. For multiplayer games, lobbies fill up quicker and competition is bountiful as many businesses are closed and students are home from school. 

For gamers hoping to try something new, sales extend far further than just Black Friday. Many major platforms, notably Steam, have a holiday sale deep into December.

The high volume of sales in the gaming industry doesn’t stop behind the screen, as many tabletop and card games hold different events during the winter as well. These types of games usually require more time to understand and can get expensive depending on how someone likes to play, which makes winter a great time to dive into something new.

Those who don’t want to spend as much time gaming can utilize their free time to catch up on that list of shows and podcasts that homework always interferes with. After all, everyone might as well use their best friend’s-third-cousin’s Netflix password they asked for two years ago.

The solitude that comes with winter is also one of the best times to pick up a completely new hobby. 

Some popular indoor hobbies include reading, plant care, organization and exercise. While you can do your own research for a new hobby, many locally run stores in the surrounding area would appreciate the support and can be very helpful in getting started.

If one is looking to be more productive during the winter, it may be a good time to try and pick up a new skill. Some skills one can learn during their free time include learning another language, cooking, sewing and computer coding.

For those that want to do nothing — which is understandable for a long winter break — the holidays can provide that break. Plus, they come with seasonal food and drinks that can be enjoyed in seclusion as much as they can be enjoyed with others. This is especially true for those with a sweet tooth, as the season is filled with gingerbread, sugar cookies, hot chocolate and much more.

While the holidays themselves may not be everyone’s favorite, there is always something to enjoy… even if that happens to be avoiding anything to do with the holidays.

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Black Panther Immortalized by Marvel

Written by:Gretchen Sims

Content Warning: contains spoilers

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” broke box offices this weekend with a tear jerking tribute to late actor, Chadwick Boseman. 

The latest edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe tells the story of a kingdom torn apart by the loss of their beloved King — the Black Panther. Lost in a futile attempt to prevent other countries from gaining access to their precious Vibranium, the people of Wakanda encounter trial after trial in an effort to preserve peace.  

Facing significant changes in leadership and growing instability, it is up to the remaining, yet broken people, to put on a bold face and push through hardships, despite still mourning their late king. 

This film rivaled the newest Doctor Strange for some of the best cinematography of all time. With beautiful graphics, CGI and color, the quality of this film extended past what the human eye should be able to see — as if the producers had been able to unlock the power of vibranium itself to produce these intense visuals.

Letitia Wright —starring as Shuri, the sister of the late King T’Challa of Wakanda— struggles with the loss of her brother. As her mother is also taken from her, Shuri faces anger and seeks vengeance against her mother’s murderer. 

Shuri emerges as the new Black Panther —the savior of Wakanda— and finds comfort amidst her suffering just in time to protect her people.

This beautiful movie played on the real-life emotions of the actors to produce one of the most inspiring motion pictures of the MCU. There was not one dry eye in the audience as the heartbreak of losing a loved one was present throughout the entire film. 

As Shuri fights her desire to burn down the world in response to losing her whole family, audience members were able to put themselves in her place. Not one person could deny the validity of her anger. It is rare that movies accurately portray all the stages of grief, yet Marvel was able to achieve it with the newest edition to the Black Panther franchise. 

Despite the massive amount of heart wrenching moments, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was full of quick-witted humor and real human connection — something movies often fail to accurately portray.

The boldness to show raw emotions with a strong female lead will set an example for many more movies to come. 


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Humanity and Emotion

Written by:Gretchen Sims

Wednesday, Nov. 9 was the opening day of the newest edition to the Cannon Art Gallery, “the audacity of identity + color.” The featured artist —Julio Aleman— is based out of Portland, Oregon. Aleman uses oil paints to highlight the intricacies of human skin to  evoke  powerful emotions associated with it. 

Aleman’s art combines hyperrealism with two-dimensional pops of color   to signify parts of  cultures and backgrounds that are true to his models.

The featured works are  absolutely stunning. The painted faces peer out at passersby and the subjects —often people Aleman knows personally— appear ready to tell their stories. 

The passion and emotion that is conveyed by Aleman seems impossible— many viewers were in disbelief that these were not photographs.

Aleman began painting seriously when he was a senior in high school, but art has always been an important part of  his life.

“Art really is whatever you want it to be, it is like expressing yourself and I feel like I’m totally against ideas that constrict art to some like rulebook or like some pretentious like conversation or idea that isn’t accessible to everybody,” said Aleman. 

“I really strongly believe that people are artists and they don’t even realize it because they make art in so many other different ways that aren’t typically recognized as art.” 

The turnout to Aleman’s artist talk was incredible, and for good reason. Aleman had great advice to extend to aspiring artists, paired with  inspiring stories. Aleman encouraged students to never give up or conform in areas where they stand out. 

“I’ve been making art since I was like five. The story that I recall was like being in like Sunday School and like with all these little kids, you know, I was a little kid… and we were told like the assignment was to draw a picture of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus and I was like doing my thing and drawing and I realized that everybody was up already, they were done, and I look around and on everybody’s desk is like a big circle and a small circle. And so, I don’t know why, I like crumpled mine up,” said Aleman. 

Western Art Galleries continue to provide excellent examples for aspiring artists to aspire toward in their future careers. 

To check out “the audacity of identity + color” visit the Cannon Art Gallery 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Dec. 9. 

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Western Theater Presents: She Kills Monsters

Written by:Gretchen Sims

Content Warning: contains spoilers

From Nov. 16 – 19, Western Oregon University Theatre Department presented their fall season straight play, “She Kills Monsters.”

 “She Kills Monsters” — written by Qui Nguyen and directed by Jeb Burris — starred Lexy Bolsinger as Tilly Evans and Katie Newsbury as Agnes Evans. The rest of the cast included Cole Richardson, Jeneba Diane King, Jacob Fritts, Emily Paoli, Cody Reece, Sergio Palomar, Brayden Allen, Tessa Douangaphaivong, Loki Cockrill, Paige Murphy, Lucy Garcia, Alyssa Parr, Ally Warner, Mere Butler, Savannah King and Seth Miller. 

The play follows mid-twenties English teacher Agnes Evans as she grieves the loss of her younger sister Tilly. Tilly, a well-versed and prevalent Dungeon Master, was a foreign creature to the considerably average Agnes. After the passing of her sister in a horrific car crash, Agnes enlists another nerd, Chuck, played by Richardson, to help her decipher the home-spun module — a homemade and custom-built game of Dungeon and Dragons — her sister left behind.

Through exploring the game created by Tilly, and led by talented and geeky Dungeon Master Chuck, Agnes is able to uncover unknown details of her sister’s personality and existence. These discoveries allow Agnes to gain a deeper understanding of the person Tilly truly was.

By the end, there was not one dry eye in the audience. The cast was incredibly talented and took their audience through a rollercoaster of emotions — from the most outrageous of laughter to the most heart-wrenching tears. No matter where one lies on the nerd spectrum, “She Kills Monsters” resonates with humanity and changes one’s perspective on both real and fictional worlds. 

I am a member of the heartless, “never cries in movies” crew, but even I teared up when Agnes had to say her final goodbyes to Tilly. As the older sibling of two younger sisters, my heart bled for Agnes and felt her pain every step of the way. 

All of the performers did a fantastic job. My two favorite performances were from Cole Richardson as Chuck and Sergio Palomar as Orcus. Students in the Western Oregon University Theatre Department have incredible acting abilities that will continue to be shared throughout the 2022-23 school year, so be sure to check out their upcoming shows.

This production was a game changer.


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Is it to Early to Watch Christmas Movies?

Written by: Gretchen Sims

As the holiday season rolls around, many students cannot wait to rip into their boxes of Christmas decorations, pull out their stockings and sit next to a dimly lit tree while drinking a warm drink of their choice. Some prefer to begin this festive frenzy after celebrating Thanksgiving, but for many, the Christmas crazies begin long before that fateful meal. 

One of the most popular holiday activities is the ritualistic worshiping of the Hallmark franchise. Despite these movies being labeled as cheesy, stupid or even cringeworthy, these films have dug themselves into the very fabric of the holidays. 

Regardless of their popularity, these movies are just harmless, are they not? How could such sweet, happy movies full of true love and touching moments be damaging to society, backtracking the hard work of centuries? Is Hallmark spreading a message that is contrary to the success our generation has made toward inclusion and acceptance of those who were once considered outside the social norm?

It is common knowledge that the plot to every Hallmark movie is essentially the same: a girl meets a boy in some strange extenuating circumstance, the boy falls in love with the girl, something comes between them, but eventually love prevails and they live happily ever after. The end.

Is that it? Is that really the end? Or is there some dark beast lurking behind every happy ending? 

Hallmark promotes a straight, white, heteronormative love story that is actually very harmful if taken at surface value. Think about how many people know the classic Hallmark narrative — it’s a classic story. All of these people are being reached with a similar message; one regarding what makes for a happy ending. 

Hallmark is essentially presenting its audience with a recipe for success — what a relationship should look like if one wants to have an ideal partner to bring home for the holidays. However, no matter how “timeless” this may seem, it is the timelessness in itself that presents the issue with Hallmark movies. 

Hopefully, as society progresses, Hallmark will also progress in being more inclusive with its love stories. Inclusion of characters with genders outside of the typical gender binary, relationships that fall outside the traditional values or even inclusion of non-romantic relationships that can be just as satisfying. 

Truly fulfilling holiday adventures will not be complete until all voices are equally represented, especially in Hallmark movies. 

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Maura Miller is this Months Senior Artist

Written by:Gretchen Sims

Throughout the 2022–23 school year, Western’s art galleries have chosen to honor Western’s senior Art and Design majors by hosting a rotating gallery space in the Werner University Center. 

November’s featured artist is senior Art and Design major, Maura Miller. Miller’s work is influenced by comic culture and pop surrealism as well as Catholic imagery. Miller’s uses several mediums, which typically results in a final product including both digital and traditional media.

Miller is very passionate about art and wants to leave a trail of color in her wake, stating that if she could control how the world operates, every building would be coated in a slew of colors. 

“Though it might be cliche to say, I think that there should be more art in the world because it makes life more intense. A sidewalk is no longer just a sidewalk when it has color, a house is more than just an object when it’s painted with imagery. Art makes us see the world around us in an enhanced way. It allows us to give a second thought to things we might not usually notice.” said Miller.

She continued, “When the redundancy of life gets to be too much, art is there to make us ask questions. It is the most viral form of communication, something that extends past dialect, discomfort and culture. In this way, it amplifies life by creating an understanding between dissimilar people. Through my work, I hope to be able to convey something deeply emotional about myself in a way that others with differing experiences can understand.” 

Miller hopes that her art will bring more color to a dull world and create a deeper understanding between individuals. 

“… my biggest priority through creation is to ensure that my work is impacting my community in a positive way.” 

Miller’s collection — entitled “Hybridization” — includes “Bat,” “Water Serpent,” “CorneaCopia” and “Sacrilege.” Miller’s pieces convey extreme emotions and act as inspiration for many budding artists.

The exhibition is located on the top floor of the WUC on the right of the main entrance past the Wolfstore. 

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DC: Mr. Steal Ur Gurl

Written by Gretchen Sims

Oct. 20 will go down in history as the day “Black Adam” took audiences across the nation by storm. This latest DC movie blew every fourth-generation Marvel project out of the water. 

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars alongside a star-studded cast in the latest installation of the Shazam universe. 

Popular characters from DC comics are pitted against Johnson as he fights to recognize the hero inside. Released from a prison of his own making, this weapon of mass destruction has a second chance to prove to himself that he is worthy of his power. 

This movie was different from most superhero films — Black Adam is not your typical hero. He does not spare his enemies and promotes violence, yet he will still do whatever it takes to protect his family. 

One of the most impressive parts of this film was the cinematography and visuals throughout the movie. The vibrant colors and crispness of every scene were unparalleled. However, some of the CGI was unimpressive and some lengths of clips were questionable. 

This movie started off slow, and the plot seemed rushed and uninteresting for the first hour. Still, just when the movie seemed like it was going nowhere, the plot arch redeemed itself — making “Black Adam” one of the best superhero movies to be released since the end of the Marvel CinamaticUniverse. 

This movie touched on popular contemporary issues while tying these issues back to systemic abuse of the past. This movie’s storyline of oppression will be familiar to audiences, while giving hope for the future. “Black Adam” pursues the trope that common people are the true heroes — from which real change begins.

Overall, this movie did not deserve the low rating it received on Rotten Tomatoes. The loveable characters and quick-witted humor vastly overshadowed the clumsy CGI and roller coaster of a plotline. “Black Adam” is the beginning of a bright future for the DC Shazam universe. 

Marvel better watch out. 


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