Steiner at Dreamland Theater

Konrad Steiner’s performance at the Dreamland Theater in Ypsilanti, Mich. was other-worldly, opening with an experimental film in the cramped space.  It was abstract, confusing at times, but his fusion of a creative voice over with great visuals made the experience bearable, if not enjoyable.

Next was Steiner’s presentation of Minority Report. To move from such an experimental film to a more modern and well known one was jarring, though nice, especially with the slightly edited scenes to depict a more political stance.  Steiner visited class and discussed his approach and politically charged edits.  His edits were streamless and very professional. If he wouldn’t have mentioned the edits, most would have gone unnoticed, at least to me.

Steiner’s next piece was Blade Runner, which was less political and more lyrical and covered four scenes edited together. Instead of reading alone, Carla Harryman joined him, sometimes speaking separately and at other times they overlapped one another.  Together Steiner and Harryman performed a poem, with the film in the background serving as secondary element.

Steiner’s most intriguing performance was where he dubbed over an old Nazi film.  Steiner wore a white dress and moved in front of the screen, becoming the screen himself.  The possibilities of this type of medium has the ability to take the written word and performance to a new, almost unlimited, level.

Having Steiner available for a local performance was riveting.  His deep discussion into the medium was insightful along with everything that is possible with it.  This was my most enjoyed Bathhouse reading because of his approachable art.

EMU United Way Kick-Off Campaign

This is in today’s (Monday, October 3, 2011) Eastern Echo and can be read here.

Eastern Michigan University and United Way are holding the EMU United Way Kick-Off Campaign scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in the Student Center Ballroom and runs until Nov. 18.

“Eastern Michigan University has a great tradition of supporting this community and United Way is a part of that tradition” Kevin Kucera said, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and this year’s Eastern Michigan University United Way Kick-Off chairperson.

The kick-off is to gather Eastern Michigan faculty who volunteer to help the United Way collect pledges and facilitate information for the campaign.  The event also allows Eastern Michigan University faculty an opportunity to learn about the campaign, and hear about the people that have been helped.

The money is raised for nonprofit health and human service organizations throughout Washtenaw County.  There are six focus areas the campaign helps; early childhood care and education, school-aged youth, hunger relief, homelessness and housing, senior assistance, and safety net health.

“United Way has partnered with other funders to support 40 nonprofit organizations that help people,” Kucera said.

Eastern Michigan University’s goal is $105,000, up from $100,000 last year. The county goal for this year is $5,750,000

United Way is advertising through Heritage Papers, annarbor.com, and on Cumulus Radio Stations to raise awareness for the campaign.

The theme for this year’s kick-off event is superheros; to help recognize how someone can be a hero in someone else’s life.

Commuter Students in Michigan

UPDATE: Edited and published story can be read here.

BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…

You roll over and the clock reads 9:15.

Class starts in fifteen minutes.

You live thirty miles away.

And you have a final exam.

This is a thing that leads to restless nights and horrid, sweaty, nightmares for commuter students.    Just a minute of over sleeping can lead to felonious speeds on the highway, suicide dives for parking spots on campus, and fighting against handcuffs as you beg with the officer to let you go to class before you go to jail –a once in a lifetime plea.

But why take the risk of living off campus and potentially end up being late?

“It’s cheaper and I have someone to live with,” said Jackie Bass, a junior at Eastern Michigan University.  She lived on campus the previous two years and enjoyed living on campus to avoid the parking fiasco, but now enjoys having a plethora of food options that comes with living off campus.

“I lived in Hill and it was awesome to walk downstairs and across the front yard and there was food hot and ready for you,” said Kevin Murray, a former Eastern Michigan University and then commuter who was on campus with a friend.

Living on campus for many is not an option simply due to cost, but living off campus can come with its own surprise surcharges. 

Vehicle maintenance and gas can quickly add up, especially for those that live a good distance away, or those without the sturdiest of wheels.

Gas prices aren’t the only thing that can hurt a student.  With Michigan’s weather being about as unpredictable as U of M’s defensive abilities, some students are faced with tough decisions during the winter months.

For many it’s a split-decision call of heads or tails – or a press of the snooze button – on whether they come into class when the weather turns nasty.

Bass, living only five minutes from campus, doesn’t have to make those kinds of class-participation damaging choices.

Murray said his sub-compact car wouldn’t have made the hour drive through the snow.

“I would have tried, but probably would’ve gotten stuck,” he said.

Michigan isn’t known for temperate winters, with bright sun and moderate temperatures, so for many students driving in the worst conditions is unavoidable. 

Even if you have an oil well in your backyard, and the toughest vehicle to tackle any terrain in any weather, there is still one nail that can be driven into your automotive coffin: reliability.

Climbing into your car at nine in the morning and turning the key over to hear the weak click-click-click of the starter is as about as dreadful as failing a class.  Vehicle maintenance never comes cheap, and the high costs can quickly add up.

What starts as a simple issue, can snowball into thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs, if the problem isn’t fixed.

“You have to keep up on things like checking the fluids, belts, and tires, to avoid the costliest of repairs,” said Jerry Clark, a retired mechanical engineer from Ford Motor Company.

“If something major like a transmission is going to fail, it’s going to fail.  There isn’t much you can do, but keep up on the easiest of things” Clark said.

Not everyone can afford a car made to take a bullet, or barrage for that matter, but if you keep up on the basics, the car, like the body, will keep trucking.  You don’t need a heart transplant, when a simple blood transfusion will work just fine. 

“Changing the oil on a regular basis is the best thing you can do to keep your car running,” Clark said.

So like anything in life, there are pros and cons to go with commuting as there are to go with living on campus.  Which way the scale tips depends on the person.  Some enjoy the close proximity of everything while living on campus, while others enjoy the thrill of beating the clock to get to class.

The question is what will stop you from getting to class; gas prices, a dead battery, the snowpocalype, or a few set of stairs and a walk across campus?