Archive for Month: October 2015

Texas Part 2 — Tornado Warnings, Donuts, BBQs and “Gatsby” Lounges

Right now my roomies and I are just slacking in our room before we’ll head to another session at the conference. But here’s what we’ve been up to since last time.

Yesterday morning I suddenly noticed my phone was flashing and vibrating with this message on the front screen

Apparently, these types of allerts are relatively common here in the US, but I’d never experienced anything like it before, so I was just a little freaked out lol. A minute after the alert the thunder got really loud and the wind was blowing so hard that the windows in my hotel room at the 15th floor were shaking. Not a lot, but just enough for me to wonder if maybe this would be the day where I would be able to capture a tornado on camera. However, I quickly came to my senses and realized that it’s absolutely horrible to “wish” for a tornado to touch down!! Especially when you’re in the middle of a city… seriously Maria!

 

Luckily, except for the extreme humidity, the weather cleared up later during the day.

As soon as it was “safe” to walk outside again, we went to Voodoo Doughnuts — which I can highly recommend.

 

Later at night, our dear Professors, Janet and Jeffrey, took us out for dinner at a local barbeque restaurant. Because of the rather hysterically funny group of people we are, we had a lot of fun! Just saying.


Yep, humidity and camera flashes tend to make the person in the middle look like a sweaty piggy ^_^

 

Then we went to the Driskill hotel, which was flooded with all different kinds of movie people. Or at least, that’s what we assumed, because the Austin Film festival is being held there this week. There must have been hundreds of people sitting and standing in the lounge — it was actually so crowded it was hard to even move. But despite of the fact that we left after only a short while, it was definitely worth it. The lobby looked like it was cut straight out of “The Great Gatsby” and the atmosphere had a real touch of “Old Hollywood” in it. Ah, pretty cool.

Photo: Buzzerg.com

On our way back we stopped by the “Dueling Piano Bar” before we went to bed.

So far, I’m amazed by how “alive” everything is here in Austin — which is quite a contrast from Sioux Falls. But at the same time, it’ll be very nice to get back to good ol’ Dakota after the weekend.

Bless y’all,
Maria

TEXAS Part 1 – Food Trucks, Film Directors and Bats

Hey y’all! After a long Wednesday we finally made it to Austin, TX!

With the exception of a three-hour layover in Dallas last Christmas, this is my first time in “the South” and from what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s a pretty awesome place!

After we landed on Wednesday we went out to eat at the Iron Cactus. We’re not exactly spoiled with roof top restaurants in South Dakota, and especially not in Norway, so spending a late October night under an open sky was an experience in itself. We had a blast! (Even if it doesn’t look like it in the picture below hah)

 

Running and Homeless People
Yesterday morning, I went for a run around the University of Texas’ campus. The city was still sleeping and I could run in peace without being interrupted by anyone. It wasn’t until I was on my way back to the hotel that I suddenly found myself being surrounded by dozens of homeless people who were staring at me. Which was fine, until a couple of guys started reaching for my iPhone. I didn’t have anything else to give them, and I’d rather not lose yet another phone, so I used it as motivation to pick up the pace and sprint back to a “better” neighborhood. I quickly noticed that Austin is quite different from the “safe, little, isolated Sioux Falls” But Austin is quite stunning in its own way.

 

The Film Director
The actual convention started yesterday, so we spent most of our day attending different sessions with speakers from all over the country. I went to a few about yearbook design etc, but the highlight was undoubtedly the one about film directing. I ended up talking with the speaker/director for over 30 minutes afterwards, got plenty of good advice and exchanged business cards with him before I called it a day.

The Sketchy-looking Food Truck
Later at night, we went to celebrate Naras’ aka my good friend and co-editor’s birthday. We wanted to try out one of Austin’s famous food trucks, but we forgot to check how far away it was… Soo we walked for what felt like 40 minutes before we finally got there. However, it was well worth the walk! Quite honestly I can’t remember last time I had a meal that tasty, so if you’ll ever go to Austin, be sure to stop by East Side King!

Photo: Naras Prameswari
Photo: Naras Prameswari

 

Stood Up by the Bats
Well, Austin is known for its huge urban bat colony, and every night people gather to watch the thousands of bats fly off the Congress Bridge. According to locals, it’s a supernatural “out-of-the-body experience” just to be there, so we literally race-walked (or at least some of us did, right Matthew?) just to get there in time.

Photo: mattersight.com

We waited together with tons of other people. Several tour boats were circling under the bridge, and an obnoxiously loud guide in a microphone kept hyping the passengers up with words like “any minute now!” I tried to picture what the sky would look like with a swarm of flying creatures covering it, wondered what thousands of flapping wings would sound like.

There! I heard something — a gasp followed by “Oh my!” I quickly leaned over the railing, only to realize that the lady next to me had dropped one of her personal belongings into the river. The gasp was probably just a response to her own clumsiness, because I didn’t see anything else happening down there that would be worth gasping about…

Anyway, as the next 40 minutes went by, the bridge got less and less crowded. At one point, we were pretty much the only people still waiting. So we left. Maybe the bats were sensing the coming tornadoes, and refused to leave their comfy stop under the bridge? Who knows. . .

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Bless y’all,
Maria

Texas, here we come

I just wanted to check in before I leave for Texas tomorrow morning. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the blog yet, but I’m going to Austin to attend the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention together with a bunch of the other journalism majors at Augustana.

We’ll stay until Sunday night, which means we’ll get to be a part of the very well known Halloween parade (that I had never heard about, but it’s supposed to be one of the biggest in the US) So, that should be fun!

Y’all know I love to dress up in costumes, so I might post a pic or two.

In the meantime, here’s a throwback from last year:

It took me four hours to put on the Maleficent makeup last year, so I’m not going to dress up as her any time soon. I have something different in mind this time 😉

Have a blessed week everyone,
Maria

Birthday Girl

I want to give a big thanks to all the beautiful souls who sent me such lovely gifts and birthday wishes this past Friday. You’re awesome!

I started the day in the pool as usual, before I enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the cafeteria (Yes, french toast is my favorite,) then I went to a couple of classes, finished up some papers, went to yet another lecture — where the whole class sang for me, AWW! Then after a long day, I shuffled back to my room and found this waiting for me!

 

After dinner at the Texas Roadhouse we went to watch the volleyball game — where the Augustana Vikings won, and then Brittany, Karen and I went back to Brittany’s house to paint our pumpkins for Halloween.

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The essential “place-your-pumpikin-in-front-of-your-face-pose”IMG_0903

Just like last year

 

 

When I came back to the dorms later at night, I found another super sweet gift from my former track teammates hanging on my door. That made the day complete and I could go to bed feeling very happy with the day’s celebrations.

I just have to say that it’s wonderful having friends who have “outgrown” the typical “Let’s throw her a huge party and get super drunk, because that is so much fun OMG” As I’ve said before, I’d rather spend the night talking about life at a nice restaurant with a group of awesome and creative individuals. So this night was “right up my alley” and I’m very grateful for having such amazing friends 🙂 Thank you

Sexism in the Film Industry

With today’s increased awareness around gender inequality, one would think that the film industry – with all its power and influence – would set an example for equality, but sadly, Hollywood is just as sexist as the rest of America.

This is an important issue to address because research has shown that the viewers’ opinions, values and perceptions are likely to be influenced by the films and TV-shows they watch. Film is one of the few remaining mediums that still possesses such power, and with the descending significance of newspapers and radio in our society, the film industry’s role is more important than ever.

According to Forbes’ list of top ten highest paid actors in 2013, the men made a total of $465 million, while the women collected only $181 million. Before we draw any hasty conclusions, we must take into consideration that male actors are more frequently cast in action films, and those films are more likely to bring in more money than for example drama and comedy – where the females are better represented. But the gap is still too big to be ignored.

In recent years, the “Bechdel Test” has been used to determine women’s role in the film industry. And to pass the test, the movie must have at least two female characters in it, who talk to each other, about something besides a man. Well, you might not even have noticed why a test like that would be necessary in the first place, but the horrifying truth is that less than 57 percent of the films in today’s popular culture actually passes it. That means women are either excluded or play insignificant roles in almost half of the movies on the market!

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre (2015) Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Columbia Pictures.

Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Dwayne Johnson and Rufus Sewell in Hercules (2014) Photo: Paramount Pictures / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

It’s nothing short of a shame that the film industry’s power of influence has, too often, been used to glorify the stereotypical male hero, while the women seems to have been placed on the screen simply as “set-props.“ In my opinion, if the character doesn’t speak a single word, is partially naked, or dressed in sexually revealing clothes – which is the case for nearly 30 percent of all female characters, she is, in fact, more of a set-prop than a character.

There has, however, been a positive development within the industry, both on and off the screen in recent years. Marilyn Monroe’s image as an objectified temptress has become less attractive, and an increasing number of actresses and female directors have taken a stand in the issue of gender inequality. When Hollywood’s own first lady, Angelina Jolie, was asked to play a “Bond girl,” she refused to take the part, and said she’d rather play James bond himself. Not long after, she was cast for the leading role in the action movie “Salt” – a role originally created for Tom Cruise. This is the kind of change we need!

Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt in Salt (2010) Photo: Columbia Pictures.

Unfortunately, the gender imbalance on-screen is just as present behind the camera. Did you know that the first Academy Awards were held almost a century ago, and that during that time, only one woman has won the Oscar for Best Director? Out of all those 89 award ceremonies, Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman who has had the pleasure of stepping onto the podium and receiving that 8.5-pound golden wonder with the inscription “Best Director” on it. This, of course, cannot be blamed on the Academy, as they are simply voting for the best films of the year regardless of who made them. But there are too few female directors out there, and too few producers who are willing to give “directresses” a chance.

Kathryn Bigelow with her Oscar at the 2010 Academy Awards. Photo: Jason Merrit / Getty Images.

Maybe not surprisingly, there has, according to the New York Film Academy’s research, been shown an 11 percent increase in female characters on the screen when a woman directs the film. So perhaps, if we want a change, we, the women, will have to take matters into our own hands. There is absolutely no reason why a female should be any less equipped for creating movies that will both pass the Bechdel test, win Academy Awards, give a voice to other women within the film industry, as well as contributing to creating a healthy female ideal for the rest of the world to follow.

http://bechdeltest.com/statistics/
https://www.nyfa.edu/film-school-blog/gender-inequality-in-film/
http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/BasicSearchInput.jsp

Editorial by Maria Lavelle

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