Friday, May 21, 2010

When all else fails, use a Sabertooth Alley Cat

When all else fails, use a Sabertooth Alley Cat

Al Stover / Reporting
Britney Locati / Images

published in issue 41.11 of the SFCC Communicator

Students drink their coffee and soda surrounding Josh Arnold as he tilts nine of his mana cards, and plays the card that represents a fireball, dealing damage to his opponent and winning the game.

Arnold is one of many SFCC students who play Magic: The Gathering in the cafeteria every day.

Magic: The Gathering is a strategy card game owned by Wizards of the Coast (WOTC), a hobby and gaming company based out of Seattle.  Two or more players use a deck of 40 or more cards, depicting an image of either mana (magical points), a magic item, a spell, or a creature.  Players use their cards and to defeat their opponents' creature and drain them of their life points to win the game.

According to the WOTC website, Magic premiered in 1993, and in its first year, 10 million cards were distributed.  Today Magic has thousands of players from all corners of the world.

Arnold, a psychology major has been playing Magic since 1998. He said he started playing after walking into a game shop.

"An employee gave me a deck and I started playing from there," Arnold said.

Arnold said his collection of cards is around 15,000 alone, and that he spends around $100 a month on cards.

"Four times a year, it's closer to $1,000," Arnold said. "It's not something that can break your bank, but it can if you let it."

Game shops such as Uncle's Games, Puzzles, and More, located in downtown Spokane, sell 15 card booster packs a price range from $3.29 to $5.99, while Introductory decks sell for $11.99.  Cards and sets on Ebay are priced anywhere from 1 cent to $25,000.  Donn Eschelmann, a manager of Uncle's, said he includes a 20 percent for boxes of containing 36 booster packs, making the total $115.50.

Sean Mattix, a first year student has been playing Magic for three years.  He currently has over 10 decks.

"I put together different themes and use numerous strategies, whether they are good or bad," Mattix said.

Clinton Montague, a first-year student has been playing since middle school.  He says he enjoys the game's strategy and quick thinking.

"You try to make something work and it doesn't, so you have to come up with something new," Montague said.

Montague currently has a collection of 13,000 cards.  He spends anywhere between $100 on cards per month, and between $500 to $1,000 when a new set is released.  He also said that his card spending does not come close to cleaning out his wallet.

One thing Arnold enjoys about the game are the players he meets at tournaments.

"It's a good social mechanism," Arnold said.

Eschelmann said players come to Uncle's to play Magic on Thursdays and Fridays.

"We have about 30 players come each time," Eschelmann said. "I think it went down for a while, but the trend is going back up."

Mat Van Blaricom, a first-year student no longer plays Magic, however he still supports his friends playing the game.

"Everyone plays it, and they're not living in their mother's basement," Van Blaricom said.  "They're functioning members of society who have this as their quirk."

To read the story on the Communicator Online, follow the link

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Twiss speaks at cultural series

Twiss speaks at  cultural series

Al Stover / Reporting
Rachel Fortney / Images

At 18 years old, Richard Twiss found himself a part of the arson squad during the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building, waiting for the order to burn the building to the ground.

This was one of the stories he shared as part of SFCC's Cultural Series. Twiss came to SFCC to speak to students and staff in a two-part lecture about diversity and being a loving neighbor in an ever-changing cultural society.

Twiss, a member of the Sicangu Band of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Tribe, used stories and life experiences to explain to students how they could be better human beings and neighbors to everyone else on the planet.  He also stressed how being human means appreciating diversity.

"Diversity is difficult yet it's also beautiful," Twiss said.  "It is not a one-sided deal."

Twiss used the example of the difference between learning how to ride a bike and experiencing it as a context to understanding diversity.

"In the east, you can't say you know something without experiencing it first, this is similar to diversity," Twiss said.

Twiss also had the audience practice an exercise where they said they were "ethnocentric, narrow minded, with limited vision."  He said the limited vision comes from the language people learn and the place where they grow up.  He added that he did not realize he was ethnocentric until he married his wife, who is caucasian.

"When you are in a relationship with someone who is different, they will show you how ethnocentric you are," Twiss said.

One belief Twiss said has helped him become a better human being and neighbor, is what he described as the Seven Generation continuum.  He explained that he learned from the previous three generations but also suffer the consequences of their actions.  Twiss said he considers his choices will affect the next three generations.

"I imagine they are with me and they are helping me make better decisions," Twiss said.

Twiss also spoke about traveling to various parts of the world and learned how different countries revered and respected Native American culture and history.  He played a video of himself and his son going to Irsael and interacting with other ethnicity cultures in different rights of passage ceremonies.

"All of these people would say they are followers of Jesus and living as human beings," Twiss said.

Esther Munroe, 22, said she loved how Twiss had traveled around the world and learned the ways of different cultures.

According to Activities Vice President Ricky Sullivan, Twiss was brought in at an all inclusive rate for $2800 out of the cultural series budget.  Sullivan said he brought Twiss to SFCC after seeing him speak at a conference.

"I thought his information would be useful,"  Sullivan said.

Twiss is also the founder and president of 
Wiconi International, which is an organization that bridges the gap between the beliefs of Jesus Christ and native culture.

He has traveled to different countries, learning different religions, including Hinduism, Islamism, and Buddism, and is currently writing a dissertation where he interviewed 420 people about being spiritual in this age.

To read this story on the Communicator website, follow the link

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

These students might save your life someday

These students might save your life someday

 Al Stover / Reporting
 Britney Locati / Images
Published in issue 41.10 of the SFCC Communicator

Roy Hardin is surrounded by bodies covered in fake blood, gunshot wounds made of paper, and empty bullet shells. Around him three students approach, examining the bodies and the evidence on the ground.

Hardin is one of over 70 students currently enrolled in SCC's Criminal Justice program.
According to the SCC website, the criminal justice program is a curriculum in which students take classes that prepare them for a career in law enforcement.

Hardin, who will be graduating in the fall, said all of the program's instructors are either active or retired police officers.

"We got so lucky, some of them are 20-to-25-year veterans," Hardin said. "What better way to learn than to learn from cops."

According to Hardin, students must also complete a certain amount of cooperative education hours outside of class. Some students are able to work off these hours by joining SCC's security department. Travis McCanna, is one of the students who is working off his co-op hours in the security department.

"You do things like write tickets and get experience with basic radio traffic," McCanna said.

In addition to learning the basics of law, students also learn crime scene investigations, traffic and patrol procedures, and marksmanship. Brad Zook, a first-year student, said one thing he has learned is interviewing techniques.

"I'm not the loudest when it comes to talking with people and the program has helped with that," Zook said.

Another aspect of the program is the physical training. Colin McKenzie, a graduate of the program, said SCC has recently put together a permanent obstacle course on campus.

"We just broke ground," McKenzie said. "It has 18 obstacles and 400 meters."

Hardin said that many students who graduate the criminal justice program go outside of Spokane to look for police work. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington employs a little over 8,000 police officers while other western states such as Arizona and California employ over 10,000.

Although getting police work after school may be difficult to find, Hardin said the knowledge and skills he has acquired from the program will help him when he does become a police officer.

"It's a practical education, everything you could learn from the academy and use on the streets," Hardin said. "I could not have chosen a better field to get into."


To read the story on the Communicator website

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Secret Avengers

As MARVEL enters its Heroic Age, no other upcoming title has been more secretive (pardon the pun) than Secret Avengers.

Secret Avengers, written by Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Daredevil) and drawn by Mike Deodato (Thunderbolts, Dark Avengers) will hit stands May 26. 

The first teasers of which members will be on the team have appeared in early February.  While fans have speculated on who is joining the team (guesses have been ranging from Black Panther to Spider-man), the roster was finally revealed in the last month. 
Beast - founding member of the X-men and former Avenger,

War Machine - former Avenger and best friend of Tony Stark

Valkyrie - an Asgard princess and one of the Defenders

Moon Knight - former West Coast Avenger

Steve Rogers - former Captain America who has recently been brought back to life, and former Avenger

Nova - former member of the New Warriors

Black Widow - former member of the Avengers and SHIELD agent

Sharon Carter - agent of SHIELD and Steve Rogers' girlfriend

Ant-Man - former member of the Thunderbolts

All in all, I am rather excited for this book.  In his X-men run and more recently in his Captain America books, Brubaker knew how to write team stories where each character plays a pivotal role.  Deodato is one of my favorite artists.  His art is smooth, but also gives a dark tone, especially on his Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers runs. 

What I really like about this book is the fact that Beast is once again in an Avengers role, something he had not really done since the Avengers Finale.  Although he is mainly known for his time on the X-Men roster, Hank McCoy was once member of the Avengers roster. 

After his departure from the X-Men, Beast spent some time as an agent of Sentient World Observation and Response Department (S.W.O.R.D) with his girlfriend Abgail Brand in the limited series S.W.O.R.D. I'm curious to see if Brand will make an appearance in the Secret Avengers, and if so, what role will she play.

One thing that makes this different than the other Avenger books that are coming in the Heroic Age is the selection of team members.  Avengers and New Avengers both written by Brian Michael Bendis, are set to debut within the next couple of months, features some of the same members together who have worked together, (Iron Man and Thor for Avengers, while Luke Cage and Spider-man on New Avengers). 

Brubaker is putting together a cast that many thought they would never see.  Although Rogers has constantly worked with Black Widow and Sharon Carter, he has never really interacted with Nova or Moon Knight.  It will be interesting to see how Ant-Man (whose real identity is Eric O'Grady) gets along with Moon Knight and Rogers.

Another secretive element the title is bringing, is their agenda.  While the main roster of the Avengers is set to have a classic confrontation with Kang, none of the previews for Secret Avengers have what they are doing, with the exception of the six page preview featuring Valkyrie, Black Widow, and Rogers. 

Brubaker has a knack of writing stories with elements of noir, espionage, and science fiction, so it wouldn't surprise me if he pitted his team of Avengers act more like spies against corrupt law enforcement, and the criminal underworld, and Dedodato's pencils will blend those elements well.

Whatever the case, the world will have to wait until May 26 to find out.