Homecoming: Taking the Field

shannon-blog-tagThis marks the 125th year of homecoming here at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and with homecoming comes live music, activities, competitions and let’s not forget, the big game. Yes, the week of Oct. 3 through Oct. 8 builds to the UW-Stout versus UW-Lacrosse showdown.

This is the biggest game of the year; a time for the team to represent our Stout Proud campus. Travis Shackleton, UW-Stout junior in the construction program, is one of the many football members anticipating Saturday’s game. He is also one of my old high school classmates.

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“The atmosphere is just different compared to a normal game,” said Travis.

During the homecoming game, students, faculty and community members charge the stands. Hundreds of eyes are now on our UW-Stout football jerseys. The intensity and presence of our crowd is what influences the atmosphere.

Not to mention the familiar faces in the crowd, ones in which Travis is excited to see. He is an old high school classmate from Baldwin, Wisconsin, a town not too far from Menomonie. Having said that, his high school head and position coaches are expected to make an appearance at the game.

Football is one of homecomings “pastimes”. It is an event that pulls out our color and spirit. According to Travis, this is exactly what the the team needs to “get the snowball rolling.”

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Travis, number 92 and nose on the defense line, has experienced playing in a homecoming game for his high school team. However, he has yet to expose himself to the full experience of college homecoming.

This game and week are hyped with Blue Devil spirit, but Travis and his teammates are trying to stay focused in preparation for the field.

“[Before each game] I just kind of keep to myself and listen to music,” added Travis.

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Focus and motivation is what our team needs. We are Blue Devils and our team has worked hard to hold that name high.

Good luck, Blue Devils!

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Campus Resources: ARCs and Tutoring

Ryan BallweberDo you find yourself struggling with school work?
Have no idea how to solve that math problem?
Don’t know what to study?
Can’t find research for a project?

If these questions struck a chord with you, then you’ve come to the right place. Like you, I had questions of my own, so I turned to one of the best resources for on-campus residents – the ARC!

I interviewed the South Hall Academic Resource Coordinator (ARC), Nic Baumann to get the answers to all my burning academic questions.thumbnail_nic-baumann-2

What is an ARC?

Nic explains, “ARC stands for Academic Resource Coordinator. An ARC is a live-in resource in all the halls, minus Red Cedar, that runs study hours in your building and also academic related events within the halls.” Nic points out that although an ARC isn’t a tutor, they’re there to help point you in the right direction so that your academic needs are met.

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What are the different tutoring opportunities on campus?

“There are all sorts of tutors on campus,” says Nic. “There are math tutors, physics tutors, we even have the Writing center.

Nic mentions, “You can find their hours and locations using the University website. Use the search bar or use each department’s websites for their tutor information.”

Where can I go to get help with a research project?

“You can go to the library and ask a librarian. They will be more than happy to help you find the resources you need to get your research started.” Nic adds, “Don’t forget that we also have the writing center that can help you get started on your paper or even help you edit it.”

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Why is it important to use our campus resources?

“It is important because it sets you up for success here at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. You do not have to be alone during your time here. It can save you time and energy when struggling with your homework. The best part is……… IT’S FREE!”

Nic’s final words of advice: “I want everyone to know, you don’t need to be struggling to visit the tutor.”

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A.M. Stryker Strikes Stout’s Stage

Annalise MarkTravis Collins, or A.M. Stryker, was the opener for the folk music themed Thursday night out last night with Blue Devil Productions. Travis is a familiar face here on campus, as he is the bass player of the band We are the Willows, who were here back in 2014. I had a chance to sit down with Travis before the show to get to know him and his music.

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Travis has been playing music for 20 years, spending a predominate amount of time playing with We are the Willows and running a record label, Homestead Records. The side project of A.M. Stryker began after We are the Willows put out their most recent record. Travis had some of his own ideas “kicking around” in his head and decided to make an album.

A.M. Stryker’s music style is inspired by the guitarist, John Fahey. Travis comments, “I’m a big fan of John Fahey, I don’t know if you know who that is… He’s sort of like an Americana, steal instrumental guitar player.” Travis continues, “I lived overseas for a while and the four records I brought were his, so I just dug into his picking style. I wrote a lot of instrumental stuff and then it kind of turned into the songs that are on my first record.” Travis was studying literature in Dublin while simultaneously infusing his music with inspirations of his surroundings, along with Fahey.

Travis comments, “That was the start of the project and it just became something else entirely. It was going to be some instrumental stuff, some instrumental stuff paired with writing and then it ended up being songs.”

Travis talks about his music in comparison to We are the Willows. “My stuff is fun to play, but it’s a whole other animal,” says Travis. “Not playing with a full band, its playing things that are way more personal.” He continues, “It’s like playing tennis as opposed to playing baseball or a team sport. You get out on the field in a team and you’re like ‘Alright, if I mess up or if something happens to me, not everyone will notice. It’s not all on me and not quite all about my skill’, but with tennis it’s like, if you mess up it’s all on you. It’s not so much about messing up either- you always mess up, it doesn’t matter. It’s more so of the personal aspect of it. It’s just you, it’s your life that you’re putting out there.”

Travis writes his music about things going on in his life, giving it a purpose for him. He comments, “Music that is just there and doesn’t serve a purpose for anyone or the artist themselves… you can tell. It’s like, ‘what is this?’ Incorporating his life’s moments into his music gives him a way to write about things happening in his life, giving a reason for what he makes.

A.M. Stryker makes its way around Minneapolis playing shows. One of Travis’ favorite things is getting inspired by other artists in runs into while on tour with especially We are the Willows.

Okay so I have to ask, the big current debate is- duck duck gray duck or duck duck goose?  

Travis: “Oh, duck duck gray duck.”

Me: “Everyone from Wisconsin that I talk to here always says goose.”

Travis: “It’s not even a question at all. It’s gray duck.”

Now that everyone can sleep better knowing the true answer to the childhood riddle is gray duck, Travis extends his gratitude for playing at UW-Stout and looks forward to putting out new music.

The opening band, Harbor and Home, wasn’t available for an interview, but we got some great photos.

Keep on rockin’ Stout!

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Two Hat Games; Developers on a Mission

Eric KrauseI visited the game design and development project team known as Two Hat Games while they presented their semester project to their classmates and faculty. The team showed off their noir mystery game, “Building 37” while their instructors gave them feedback.

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This is a very valuable part in the game design process, as it allows the team to narrow their focus to specific parts of the project. After Two Hat’s presentation, I interviewed the four team leaders.

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Left to right: Two Hat Game team leaders William Folk, Austin Stewart, Jeremy Rodgers and Adam Toth

What exactly are your roles in the whole game design process?

Jeremy: I have multiple jobs, that’s why we’re Two Hat Games because everyone has two jobs. I’m a programmer as well as the lead design and I specialize in narrative. What I did was write out the story for the game, and I’ve been testing it. Also, I am in charge of hiring voice actors, putting subtitles in the game, and making sure everything fits together.

Austin: I’m the lead programmer. A lot of what I do is make sure that the game is actually working.

Adam: As the art lead, I really focus on [organizing] the artists because, as creative types, everyone wants to do their own thing. So I work a lot with Will on solidifying the art style we want to go for. So I make sure that everyone is following that same style.

William: I am the lead game designer focusing on the mechanics.

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Can you describe general theme and vision behind “Building 37?”

Jeremy: The general theme of the game is a noir, science-fiction, mystery where you play as a private detective who has been sent to out to investigate the mystery behind a disappearance that happens to be part of a larger incident that had happen sixteen years before. Then you, as the main character, arrive at the ground zero site where the incident happened, and discover a large underground facility that has all these weird devices. Things don’t seem as they’re supposed to be and everything is shrouded in mystery.

Have there been any games that have served as an inspiration for Building 37?

Jeremy: – Gone Home is mentioned a lot

Adam: Gone Home, when it comes to the exploration, serves as an inspiration. The Wolf Among Us was an inspiration when it came to the art style. This comic book art style allowed us to have a stark contrast in light, which is a huge theme in noir. Also, the comic book feel gave us the freedom to poke fun at things but still have a dark tone.

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What aspects of the project are you most proud of?

Austin: For me, the part I really enjoy the most would have to be the backend stuff — making sure saving and loading works. Just the fact that it does work is exciting, because we have hundreds of different [components] and the fact that they’re working coherently in one system, in one game. I’m just like, yes!

William: I like it when we do these play tests and the best thing is when we see the player figure it out on their own. When they love a puzzle and have that ah-ha moment — I think that’s the best, especially for puzzle games. It helps encourage us and let us know we are on the right track. It reminds us why we are making this game.

Austin: In one of our previous play tests, we had these boxes and people would just stack them. They’d just stack these boxes to see how high they could get it. For a little bit I was like why? I hate these people. But then they were enjoying and loving the game and I’m like, I love you!

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Are there any aspects of the game that you are looking forward to finishing?

Austin: (Jokingly) Everything.

Adam: From the artist stand point we’ve been working a lot in the rooms. The next big step we are taking is adding all the textures, colors, and look for everything. It’ll go from this washed out grey to, all of the sudden, these saturated colors. Being able to see that, in all the rooms, in a finished environment, is a huge reward.

Austin: These guys are excited to get it done to see it. I’m just excited to be done because I’m sick of it. There’s a saying that goes around all the time in game development that the last ten percent of a game will take ninety percent of your time. And it’s just so. We have all these bugs and I just want them to go away.

Adam: It’s just one of those things where once you fix one thing, you’ve broken three other things.

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What are your guys’ favorite games?

Jeremy: – Dead Space is defiantly one. I love that trilogy and the story behind it. I’m a big narrative guy, I like a really good story, and I want to be able to get invested in a game. I also like the basic titles like Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat.

Adam: As of recently ,Wolf Among Us is one of my favorite games. Firewatch just came out and I love that. That’s a huge narrative game. It’s interesting how in high school I was more into action-oriented games and things like that, but now in college I’m like narrative all the way.

Austin: I really like racing games for some reason. I hate them in practice but in playing them, they’re fantastic. I also like puzzle games. The Witness just came out and I dropped forty bucks on it and haven’t looked back.

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You can expect to play Building 37 on April 27th on PC and Mac. To keep up on the game until it’s out you can head over to Two Hat Game’s blog. You can also head over to their home site at building37.com. Also follow them on Twitter @TwoHatGames and like Two Hat Games on Facebook.

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Kevin Breel: Comedian, Mental Health Advocate

Andrew KleiberKevin Breel, a comedian, writer and mental health advocate, was on campus Tuesday night to speak about mental health. The Counseling Center held the free event in the Memorial Student Center Great Hall.

Kevin spoke about his experiences with depression and how he handled his situation. His story is truly moving and gives hope to anyone battling not just depression, but any mental illness. He is well known for hisTED talk called “Confessions of a Depressed Comic.”

Being a part of a diverse community means that we’re all likely to at least interact with someone with a mental illness, whether it’s depression, anxiety, eating disorder or addiction. So I asked Kevin what advice he had for someone dealing with a mental illness.

“To start, you have to be honest and be able to talk about it. After that it’s just figuring out what help looks like to you. For some people its counseling or exercise. For other people it’s getting together with close friends for conversation. It’s different for everyone, but I just think that finding a way to connect to something or to other people is really healthy.”

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Kevin put on a great job show. He, in turn, had a some good things to say about his audience. “Everyone was so positive and kind. They really connected to my show and were so honest and open. And that’s the kind of thing that keeps me moving forward.”

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The Counseling Center welcomes any student who would like some help or guidance and their services are free to enrolled students. Their number is (715) 232-2468. They are located in Bowman Hall and host other events throughout the year. You can check them out online at www.uwstout.edu/counsel.

See you next time Stout!

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Valentine’s Day: Lovers, loners, and the lost

Shannon HoytMany people agree that February 14 is a day to appreciate the ones we love. To some, however, it’s just another day. The UW-Stout campus is thriving with committed couples, singles ready to mingle, and the dazed and confused. Simply put, it’s complicated.

I interviewed a few of my friends who represent the categories “in a relationship,” “single,” and “it’s complicated” to find out what Valentine’s Day means to them.

Question: Has Valentine’s Day lost meaning?

Boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other, babe, sweetheart, boo bear, it doesn’t matter what you call each other. What matters is that the connection between you is recognized and reflected upon.


In a Relationship

Not every couple can agree on one Valentine’s Day definition, especially when it comes to my two friends, Nathan and Chelsea, who have been dating for seven months.

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Nathan and Chelsea, in a relationship

“It’s just another holiday,” said Nathan. “It’s more commercialized.”

Chelsea thought otherwise.

“I don’t think it has [become more commercialized]. Valentine’s Day is just appreciating the people you love,” said Chelsea.


Single

“Just another day that I can cry because I’m single,” said Randi, my solo-flying sister. “I can’t wait to eat a whole bucket of ice cream.”

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Randi, single

A whole bucket of ice cream doesn’t seem half bad. In fact, joining Randi in her plans to avoid the heartfelt romanticism brought on by Valentine’s Day are dozens of other UW-Stout students.

Although Valentine’s Day can be viewed as a couple’s holiday, students avoiding relationships can still enjoy and appreciate its intended purpose.

“It’s a day that you drop everything, and show how much you love somebody,” said Randi. “And it doesn’t have to be your boyfriend or girlfriend, it could be your parents, or your sister, or yourself.”

“You can love yourself on Valentine’s Day.”


It’s Complicated

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Teddy, complicated

Although his Facebook status is indefinitely set to “It’s Complicated,” Teddy’s opinion of Valentine’s Day is pretty basic.

Believing that Valentine’s Day is “extremely overrated.” Teddy rated the day a two on a scale of one to five. He believes that Valentine’s Day shouldn’t just be targeted towards couples, and that it should focus on family.


100 Students Say…

I surveyed 100 UW-Stout students to get their perspective on the holiday. Here are the results.

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Don’t worry singles; it looks like there are plenty of fish in the sea!


 

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If you add “romantic” and “heartfelt” together, love wins.


 

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Need help with your game?

The surveyed students also had the opportunity to share their favorite pick-up lines. Here are a few of the hilarious conversation starters.

  • Was that an earthquake, or did you just rock my world?
  • Are you full of beryllium, gold and titanium? Because you’re Be-Au-Ti ful.
  • My lips are skittles, want to taste the rainbow?
  • Good thing I have a GPS watch, because I am lost without you.
  • Do you have a mirror in your pocket? Because I can totally see myself in your pants.

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Band Interview: Frankie Teardrop  

Annalise MarkThe Minneapolis-based rock and roll band Frankie Teardrop, whose music is infused with sounds of pop; includes guitar player Dan, Jack on the bass; Connor on the drums, and front man Jordan. The band performed at UW-Stout last night at the Terrace in the Memorial Student Center as the headliner of this week’s Thursday Night Music Series, brought to campus by Blue Devil Productions.

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Frankie Teardrop has been playing shows for about two years now. Jordan comments, “I can’t believe it sometimes. It’s sort of a long time to do a thing like this. It’s really fun and we do it because it’s fun.” Jordan admits that it can be hard to make a living as a musician, but says he and his bandmates “play for the love of the game, ya know.”

The guys reminisced on how they all ended up together. Jordan explains, “Sometimes it’s me- it started just as me and then these guys joined.” Jordan continues, “Then there was another drummer, and we’ve had a couple different drummers, [so] Connor’s new to the band.”

Jordan describes Frankie Teardrop as a “fluid identity,” as if all four band members morph into one. At this point, Connor jumps in and remembers his first memories of Frankie Teardrop, “I saw them right out of college and I fell in love.” Connor had been a big fan of the band, attended shows and networked his way into becoming part of it. Connor made sure to add, “I’m actually not creepy.”

Jordan summarizes what the band enjoys the most about what they do. “I love to just play the shows- everywhere. That’s the best part. You get to play every single night- it’s awesome! Going back to cities we’ve been to and made friends, hangout with these people for a night.” The band enjoys being part of peoples’ weekend plans.

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Shark vs. Bear

Next up, the guys next chime in on who they think would win in a fight: a shark or a bear.

Jordan: “Shark”

Dan: “I have like a really big fear of sharks. They just disturb me. Their whole body is just a huge disgusting, killing muscle. It just looks so gross and strong.”

Connor: “They’re like engineered, natural predators.”

Dan: “They’re demons of the sea.”

Connor follows up with an in-depth flashback of an encounter with sharks while on a family trip to Hawaii, which puts their immediate answer of sharks into perspective.

Me: What if the fight was on land?

Jordan: “I’m still going to say sharks, man.”

Jack: “Regardless of where I am, if I see a shark, my first instinct is not going to be to get closer.”

Jordan: “Bears probably realize that too.”

Jack: “I just saw The Revenant and I’ll still give it to the shark.”

Jordan: “Oh, I still want to see that.”

(Note: Frankie Teardrop needs a date to the movies this weekend.)

To conclude the interview, Jordan adds, “I love getting to play shows. I love college people, students at college.” Jordan then also offers up some life advice. “In general, just be nice to your fellow humans. You got into the world, so try and pack something into the stream of life and be a nice person. Be of service to your fellow creature, be unselfish.”

Frankie Teardrop thanks UW-Stout, along with Blue Devil Productions for hosting.

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