Friday, December 14, 2012

 “Farewell Howard, You Were Good To Me”
By Terrence Cain

Indeed, it is true that all good things must come to an end. The grades are in, and I have passed all five of my classes with flying colors. Over the last two and half years I have learned so much and met some very interesting and nice people. I've learned a lot about myself and what I need to do to better myself and I feel like I truly accomplished something great. Over the last couple of years I have had some extremely low points and some exceptionally high ones. I'm very proud of my accomplishments and I'm very happy to be the first in my family to have a college degree. Come January I will be moving on to Angelo State University to get my bachelors degree in journalism.
I am very excited to be going to Angelo State in January because I'll be taking a film editing and media law class, plus a French language class split into two sections over my first semester there. I'll also be living on campus for the first time as well. I also plan to take action and get involved in writing for the Angelo State newspaper and working the radio station there if I have the time as well. I'm going to be extremely busy at Angelo State, that's for sure. I will miss Howard College, but I know that I have to move on so this is where I will conclude that my time has come to an end.
I wish to thank former sociology professor, Adrian Calvio, for encouraging me to come and write for Howard College. I also wish to thank my editor, Cindy Smith, for allowing me to write for the Howard College blog site here in Big Spring. I know I haven't always been the easiest to work with, but I know I've become a better person thanks to her. I also wish to thank professors like Amber Buske for pushing me so hard and encouraging me to keep moving forward all those times I wanted to just give up. It wasn't always easy to get my head wrapped around every subject I took, but I did my best and that's all I can say to anyone who wants to just give up. Keep working hard, keep trying even after you fail, and you'll eventually make it out on the other side a wiser person for the experiences you took upon yourself. If someone like me, who isn' all that intellectual when it comes to subjects like math, can pass it then so can you. This is my official sign-off as Howard College's blogging machine. May you all live long and prosper.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

 “The Long And Winding Road Continues”
By Terrence Cain

Well folks, the semester is just about over. Next week are finals and then it's all over...for a little while anyway. Most of you will be continuing your education at Howard, and that makes me happy to see you being so determined to make something of yourselves. As for me, my time at Howard is coming to an end. After finals are over I will be moving on to Angelo State University to start my first of many semesters there. I'll be taking a video editing class, a media law class, and two French language classes, split into two eight week sections in one semester, for my first semester there and I can't wait to get started.
When I was at ASU last Friday I was very happy with the choice I made to attend their university. I was also accepted to Texas Tech in Lubbock, but that campus scared me to death with it's overwhelming size and the way people seemed to be stuck in their own little worlds. At ASU everyone was exceptionally friendly. Even total strangers, meaning random students on campus, were saying hello and sparking up conversations with me. Even the professors there seemed to want to start right away with teaching me about what I needed to know to become a professional journalist. ASU is exactly how all universities need to be, just as I feel Howard College is how all junior colleges need to be. You can't improve society if you have no passion for what you do. That's how I feel, anyway.
Next week will be my last blog post for Howard College. It's been an awesome journey for me and I am forever thankful for having this wonderful opportunity to flex my writing muscles and to have the chance to express myself to all of you whom have been reading my blog. Remember that giving up on your goals is never an answer. If you truly want something you must go for it and you must never stop until you get it. Until next week, this Howard College's blogging machine saying; “Float on.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

 “Reflecting On The Past”
By Terrence Cain

I feel as though the time left at Howard College that I have is going to be over quicker than the blink of an eye. I swear that this week has been a total blur for me. Maybe it's because I'm excited to be graduating soon, maybe it's because I will be at Angelo State this Friday getting registered for my first semester, or maybe it's because I'm just in total shock that I actually made it this far. I find myself being a bit dizzy from the entire thing because I came so close to giving up early on and now here I am within reach of graduating. I really feel that people put far too much stress upon themselves and allow things to be too difficult for them. If we'd just slow down and pull back a bit so that we can look at the broader picture I feel we would be a far better species. I know it's something I should have done long ago myself and something that I should keep doing more often. In retrospect I am very glad I didn't quit in my first semester—or my second—or my third. I'm very proud of myself for not giving up.
I believed back before I started going to college that getting a degree in something was a very important thing to have in one's life. I still believe that, and even more so than I did back then. There is so much uncertainty out there in the world. The economy is improving, but the media is in such a panic over this so-called “Fiscal Cliff” that it makes you feel like your job isn't going to matter come 2013 if they don't fix the problems before the turn of the year. Of course having a degree in whatever your field is wouldn't matter much if we did have a recession hit us over the head again, but I don't think things are going to be as bad as the media portrays either if something isn't done before the start of 2013.
I think with the way the economy is slowly growing, and the way the media over sensationalizes things, it's best to stick it out in college and get your degree. I see so many people, most much younger than I, who give up midway through a semester. It's really sad to see because if they'd just stick it out they'd be okay. And it's not the end of the world if you fail a class either. I failed my second level preparatory algebra class with Prof. Buske my second semester in and was able to pass it when I retook the class my third semester. I just want you all to know that life isn't over if you fail at something. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, we all fall down sometimes. What's important is that we don't give up. We have to get up off our duffs and fight back and keep trying until we succeed. That's what is important. That's what everyone needs to remember at the end of the day. Giving up should never be the answer to any problem that comes our way. Okay, that's all I wanted to say this week. Next week is the final week before we take our finals. It's going to get a little hectic for us all, but I know we can make it through just fine if we stick to our guns and don't let the finals defeat us. Until next week, this is Howard College's blogging machine saying; “Never give up.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

“Entering The Final Stretch”
By Terrence Cain

Well here we are folks, just a few more weeks and this fall semester will be completed. I feel a little sad though because that means the end for me at Howard College here in Big Spring. Starting in January I'll be attending Angelo State University in San Angelo where I'll be moving forward with this trip I've been on since 2010. It's strange to think I'm that I'm getting closer and closer to getting my associates at Howard. I really thought I wouldn't make it this far, but here I am. I'm very proud of myself to make it this far too. I'll be the first member of my family to have an official college degree of any kind.
These next few weeks are going to be crazy insane. As I write this blog post I am sitting in the lunch room of Angelo State—soaking in the atmosphere and seeing all there is to see—while the lunch room plays some classic Rush and Pink Floyd music. Makes me feel like I stepped back into the 1970s, and that's not something I really expected when I arrived here with the Science Club from Howard College in Big Spring. Everyone here has been exceptionally nice and helpful, just as they were when I showed up at Howard College in 2010.
I feel like time has sped up this semester for me. I feel like I should still be in September, but I guess that's how things go when you're excited and anxious to move forward. I really do appreciate the time I've spent at Howard College. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn't change a thing. The things I learned at Howard College has really helped me to define just who I am and what I like about education. Thanks to Professor Tune, Professor Calvio, Professor Davidson, Professor Hobbs, and Professor Buske for being so open to conversations about the subjects I learned from you all. I know I was a difficult person at times, but those difficult times truly helped me to get the things I wanted to know put into a way that was succinct with my thought processes. Well that's all I have to say for now. I'll be back after Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a good time and gets home safely for the holidays. This is Howard College's blogging machine saying; “If it ain't broken, don't fix it.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Time...There Isn't Enough Of It”
by Terrence Cain

Oh boy, has this week been a gut buster. I had an Algebra test on Monday, followed by a Speech outline I am having to construct into a concise format that is proving to be more difficult than I thought it would be, and of course the elections Tuesday night were a bit taxing on me. Is the president going to win, what's going to happen if he doesn't? I was very thankful he won and that the Democrats won more seats in the Senate. And a huge congratulations are in order to the state of New Hampshire for being the first state to elect all women of the Democratic Party. A historical mark in this country if I ever did see one. After Tuesday Wednesday definitely felt more relaxed for me.
Still though, I've got an Ethics paper to finish up, a Speech paper to get cut down so it fits just under four minutes in length. Not to mention I have more Algebra to complete before Sunday night, and then I have to schedule several events all at Angelo State so that I can be ready to attend starting next January. This is definitely a harsh week for me. I assure you though I will make it through just fine. Especially now that President Obama has been re-elected.
I know Conservatives hate the fact he won for a second term, but if not for the President I would have not gotten into college so easily. Thanks to his bold moves in overtaking Pell Grants I was able to go to college without the fear of more mounting debt on top of the debt I've already accumulated from losing my job in 2009. Now that I am in college I have a far greater opportunity of getting back to work than I had in the year and a half I attempted to find work before giving up and attending college. I do truly believe though that now is the time for us all to contact our representatives and senators and let them know that they need to work together on getting people back to work no matter what and then getting our debt cut down tremendously. Well that's all there is to say for now. Until next week, this is Howard College's blogging machine saying; “If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, we'd all be having a merry Christmas.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

Give Me An Inch, And I'll Take A Smile”
by Terrence Cain

Oh yeah, I'm back again this week. It's time for the weekly blog post, folks. Get ready for some crazy antics—or a heart warming story—that will hopefully make you glad you read this. In all honesty I really don't know what will be said because this is all on the fly, so this is going to be just as interesting for me as it is for you. I will try to keep this very short though because I've got a ton of math work to do before Monday's test, plus I have to finish up my ethics paper and get started on my next speech.
I can tell you this. This final week of October has been pretty awesome. I went to a great play on campus [you can read about it in my special article I posted earlier this week right here] and then I took a test in Astronomy that I'm feeling pretty confident about. I also did a little Halloween celebration by watching some great 1980s horror films like Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Monster Squad, and Critters.
On November 16th I'll be going over to Angelo State University to tour its facilities and see how things are done over there before I transfer next January. Should be a great time with the HC Science Club of Big Spring. There's so much I have to get done before next year so that I'll be ready for my first semester at Angelo State, so I'll be getting quite busy over the next couple of months.
Friends, I must advise you strongly to go vote this Friday. It's the last day of early voting before you can vote on the official election day next Tuesday, November 6th. I honestly think everyone should vote for the President because he's the best man for the job. Of course that's my opinion and everyone should vote for whomever they think is best qualified. Just make sure you get out there and vote. It's the one right no one can ever take from you. Exercise that right, okay?
Stay strong my fellow classmates. This semester is almost over. I know that things can get a bit tough nearing the stretch, but trust me it is well worth getting your degree. I've been seeing a lot of you skipping classes or dropping out all together. You may not think education is all that important, but trust me it's the most important thing you will ever do with your life because it will open so many doors to you throughout your career in whatever field you wish to be a part of. I also strongly urge you to do whatever you can to intern for a company in your field. I know it's a pain that internships pay nothing at all, but I promise you that it will help you tremendously once you get the degree you need to work in that field. Well that's all I have to say for now. I want bid everyone a great weekend. Thanks for reading my posts. I really appreciate the kind words you've all given me in the halls here at Howard College. It makes me feel good to write for your entertainment. This is your friendly neighborhood blogger saying; “All school work and no play makes Terrence something something...”

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

“A Night At The Theater: The Tomb Of Count Gangrene”
by Terrence Cain

Last semester I saw the very first play I had seen since I was a child in elementary school. For those of you who don't know, that was some twenty years ago for me so that would mean I was around nine or so. Anyway, that play was called Sylvia. It was a fantastic little play put on by Howard College of Big Spring's acting teacher, Kirk Davidson. It was inventive, it was funny—and sad—and it gave me a passion for plays that I never thought I would have. Well I just saw another play this Hallow's Eve called The Tomb Of Count Gangrene put on yet again by Howard College's Kirk Davidson.
So let me put a little atmosphere down for you first. When I walked into the Hall Center For The Arts I was greeted by numerous attendees who were all waiting in little groups of four or five to see the play. There were even a few who decided that they'd get in on the fun by dressing up. I did so a little myself. I wore a black shirt, slacks and shoes, and a very red tie. The tie kinda has that paint red look to it that you see in old Hammer horror films from the 1960s that they want you to think is blood but you know all too well that it is just paint. Yeah, they hadn't perfected blood scenes really until the late 1970s.
Okay, so we're all waiting in the front just outside the play room. As we were all waiting I decided to look down the hall leading to the play room where I was able to see a white plastic sheet with blood splatter patterns that looked like they were silk stained into the plastic. On top of the sheet were some plastic—or maybe they were made of plaster of paris—bones laying in various spots all over the plastic sheet. It was laid out like a long rug waiting for royalty to walk down it. My first thought was; “Finally! Someone is getting into the holiday spirit and they're not trying to be all trampy about it!” I'm sorry to say, but Halloween was way more spooky and frightening when I was growing up. Nowadays all you see is women dressing up like hookers and men dressing up like they're at some disco. Yeah, we've definitely have to get back to the scary side of Halloween, folks.
So as I looked on I saw a big bat hanging from the ceiling just above the entrance to the hall that leads to the play room. I also saw one of the ushers who was carrying an old lantern with a lit candle, which I thought was pretty cool. As they walked us into the play room some of the actors from the play were at the door hamming it up for the audience; trying to do their best to get the crowd all psyched up for the play. As I sat down in the front row I looked over the painted black set. I loved all the decorations they had there. From the bloody foot and hand prints on the floor, and some hand prints on doors and glass, to the stag on the wall covered in spider webs. It was all fantastically horrifying. I loved the fireplace as well with the skull inside and the big fat chain going in a half circle shape in front of the fireplace. Above the set was a big pinata-like spider hanging from a rope. They even had sheets covering two sets of one kind of chair. What I mean by that is there were two chairs that were of the exact same design.
So I'm starting to get a little psyched up and ready for the spooky and terrifying fun of this play called The Tomb Of Count Gangrene. As the play begins a character named Ghoulardi [played by veteran HC theater actor, Eric Ochoa] comes onto the set and speaks with a very gravelly and whinny voice in a dark brown suit, black gloves, and his face painted gray with black circles around his eyes. You can't have a dead man tell tales without looking dead, right? He was funny and great about telling people to shut their cell phones off during the play; which became a gag in the beginning where they killed a girl for using her cell phone and walking through their “tomb” as the called it.
Well as soon as Ghoulardi got going another character named Mitch [played by Tyler Hall] came in and sliced his stitched mouth open so that he could talk and ask where his wife Louise was at. It was all very funny, and I do believe that was intentional do to the fact that the overall play was very comedic. Soon after two girls known as Ethel & Gertrude [Billed as the Vampira Twins and played by April Zavala and another veteran actress, Lindsey Heckler] who are supposed to be sisters, and looking like Elvira's would be daughters by the way, come running out and acting all spastic-like and screaming; “Bodies flying!”, or at least I think so. That part is honestly a little foggy due to everything else that was going on.
Well soon after Madame Phatima [played by Courtnie Smith], a psycho loon gypsy who is blind, comes into the room. The play really didn't kick off though until after Count Gangrene [played by Justin Case] came in via his octagonal shaped old style casket. The role was hammed up pretty good and was played very well. It reminded me a lot of the old horror hosts who were on local cable access channels on Saturday nights hosting bad to fairly decent horror films. So onto the three acts of the play.
Act I: “The Spider” –
This first of three acts in the entire play was all done in the dark. The point was to make you feel like you were listening to an old radio show. This act was adapted from Wyllis Cooper's story called Lights Out! Spider. The story was about two guys in the jungle who were looking for spiders. Well they found one. A very big one. Apparently it was the size of a dog and was a vicious killer because one of the guys was eaten up fast followed by the other guy who was eaten alive by the spider's babies. This first act worked out superbly well. The voicing, done by Ryan Stockton and Will Cross, was very clear and the acting was great. I really felt like I was in the jungle with them as I watched them from afar. The sound effects really set the mood up right and gave me a chill at how real everything sounded. From chirping birds, to a soft sounding waterfall, and even bugs that could be heard buzzing around. This was definitely bumping the play up a notch from what was already a great start. I also liked the red pulsing light used to emphasize parts of the act. Very well done for sure.
Act II: “The Lake” –
The second act was based off of a Ray Bradbury story of the same name. The story is about a young woman named Sad Sara [played byAutumn Alton] who tells a tale about her childhood where she watched a friend of hers drown. It was a very dark and sad story that had its advantages in making everyone cry, but fell a slight bit short because they had set up two wireless mics for the two actors in this particular part of the play. The actress who played Sad Sara kept walking back and forth from the mic, which made me feel like someone was constantly turning the volume knob on an old radio up and down. It was a tad bit irritating honestly. I really think that this part of the play would have been best suited without mics because you could hear them talk without them. I think if this play is done up ever again that they should forego the mics. They really weren't needed. Great story and acting otherwise.
Act III: “The Witch's Game” –
Again, just as in act one, this one was played out in the dark to make you feel like you were listening to an old radio show. This act was also based off another Ray Bradbury story called The October Game. The one thing that somewhat ruined the overall mood of this act for me was the fact that me being in the front row I was able to see all the actors behind the black curtain with scripts and flashlights while they gave their performances. Now I'm sure they weren't even aware that any of us could see them, but I think they'd have been better off if they had gone further behind the set so that no one could see them because seeing them as they were made it somewhat difficult to delve deep into the imagery that was being set up for us. It was basically a Simpsons Tree House Of Horror kind of story where they talked about what physical things people would use to tell a horror story. At the end people were being murdered and dragged off, which was actually being visually used at the end of the act with flashlights shining on the actors being dragged around. It was sort of similar to the red pulses we'd be getting in act one for certain parts of the story. A great ending even if I could see the behind the scenes part of this final act.
The Program's Design –
Mindy Ralston did a fantastic job making the program for this play. It looks like an old comic book, and even had ads on the back of it. The only thing missing were those phony X-Ray Specs that were supposed to allow you to see through people's clothing. The layout of the program was great and very easy to follow. There even some great responses from Count Gangrene just like Marvel Comics had with their old soap box portions of their comic books. I loved the corny nicknames used as well. Like Count Kirk and Mindy “Arson Enthusiast” Ralston, among many others. It reminded me of all the goofy nicknames Matt Greoning and his team would use in The Simpsons for their Treehouse Of Horror specials. It really added to the atmosphere.
My Overall Opinion Of The Play –
I thought the play was fantastic from beginning to end. Nobody goofed up their lines. No one tripped and fell. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I actually thought that the comedic angle was great. I loved Count Gangrene, Ghoulardi, the Vampira Twins, and Madame Phatima. They added to the quirkiness of the play that was trying to take a poke and a stab at its self while giving some great stories. It wasn't a dark and scary play like I had originally imagined, but that's not a bad thing. I think Howard College has most definitely got a great acting director in Kirk Davidson. He knows how to get his actors to perform at their best, and he knows what stories to tell that capture an audience's imagination. If you're looking for a great night of fun then go see one of his plays that he puts on each semester. You'll be delightfully entertained and you'll have a great time watching up and coming actors cut their teeth for what is probably their first time acting.