Category Archives: Life

A Semester in Review.

Change has been the keyword for this past semester.

I’ve had to adapt to different styles of writing, try new things further immerse myself into the roll of a feature writer. In particular, this semester taught me how to better investigate stories and the question “why?”. Nearing the end of it, I still know that I have plenty to work on if I want to be a professional writer. Next semester I’ll be abroad in Florence, Italy. I’ll take what I’ve gained from my editor, my experiences in my internship and the stories I’ve gathered from other people. This is a semester in review and the stories that made it that way.


A few weeks ago, I had to venture out to the wooded area of Veterans park and experience Live action Role Play, or LARP. These two stories are the result of my four hour adventure in the woods. I’ve got to say that I learned a lot from these guys and what a real sense of community and acceptance is.


Every November, men go the month without shaving. The thing I learned from this experience was what length I would go to in order to finish a story. Not to mention the topic was a bit lighter than the news stories I was used to last semester. I got the chance to speak with representatives of the Movember Foundation – a group dedicated to the growth of facial hair for cancer, and men who just loved facial hair.


The appeal that Arlington Steakhouse had for customers and the story was it’s historical connection to the city. I mean, this place is has seen the city through economic depressions and booms. It watched Arlington ingest three other small cities around it to become what it is today – a giant suburb of 400,000.  I take something from every story like this. Not to mention, old people tell the best stories.

Louie Louie’s Dueling Piano Bar.

This particular assignment introduced me to the idea of piano bars. Whenever I told anyone that I was writing a piece about one, and had no idea what they were about, they flipped out. I guess that’s living in the south for you.

Uptown Theater.

Though the story started as a piece on a music festival at a renovated venue, it ended as a renovated venue hosting a new festival. The difference is once I got to the theater, experienced the type of people who ran it and saw the history of the place, I was entranced. This is a perfect example of how a story can jump focus’s once you start reporting. My biggest regret is that Michael and I didn’t go back and experience the show for that weekend.  We still plan to though!

Spoonfed Tribe.

These guys. The Spoonfed tribe story was one of those that required Mike and I to drive to Denton in the middle of the night and stay till two a.m. I learned alot about the people of Denton and gained new music to listen to that night. Plus, we still play the promotional CD in the burgundy beast for those long car trips. It wasn’t my optimal way to spend a Friday night, but I wouldn’t take it back for anything else.

Hookah Lounges in the Arlington area.

This was the type of story, I imagined myself doing when I first signed on to Pulse – The Shorthorn’s entertainment section. Even though the execution wasn’t the best, I still think the pictures were awesome and that the concept was a good idea.

New freshman adjust to campus.

This was my first crack at a feature story. I took mundane circumstances and attempted to make a cohesive story out of it. Though it’s flawed, I enjoyed delving into the life of somebody else and walking through a day in their life.


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Filed under Clips, College, Life

Editorial: The Cordoba House at Park51 (The Mosque at Ground Zero)

The idea of a mosque built in the area surrounding ground zero seems to divide the multicultural American public over issues of religious freedom and moral sensitivity.

The alleged ground zero mosque is a privately owned building two city blocks away from the site of the 9/11 attacks. After being damaged in the attacks, the building remained empty until it’s purchase by real estate company Soho Properties in 2009. Soho properties purchased the building as a part of it’s Cordoba Initiative. Before this purchase, the buildings previous tenant was a Burlington Coat Factory location.

[ What’s the Cordoba Initiative? ]

[According the official site, the Cordoba initiative is working to improve relationship between Muslims and western culture. Cordoba refers the capital of Muslim controlled Iberian Peninsula during the 10th and 11th centuries. In this time, there was a truce between Christian, Muslim and Jewish Kingdoms.  The Cordoba House at Park51 is a planned $100 million, 13 story Islamic community center that will include a memorial space for the 9/11 attacks and a separate mosque open to the public. Among the planned features is a culinary school, 500 seat auditorium, restaurant and fitness center with a pool. The site goes on to explain that Cordoba House will be a place of multiple faiths coming together to understand each other. ]

As suggested by recent polls, the public is split in half on the issue, with a slight majority against the center being built. An August poll conducted by Marist Poll concluded that 53% of Manhattan residents support the center, however.

The biggest trend I have noticed among the opposition of the center is the lack of accurate information. By continuing to call Park51 a “Mosque on Ground Zero”, the actual nature of the project is perverted. The average American is rightfully offended by the idea of a solely Islamic place of worship being placed on the 9/11 site, but this is not that situation. What Soho Properties is proposing is a center for understanding, intended for the diverse public.

Presidential Backlash

[President Obama recently spoke in support of the center during a White House Ramadaan dinner on August 13th.

“Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” Obama stated. “And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.  This is America.  And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.

The president came under fire for these words of support from several media outlets and families of the attacks. He later clarified these statements by saying he was speaking in support of freedom of religion and not the location of the center.]

Another concern from the informed public is the amount of emotion involved in the project. While the Cordoba House has good intentions, the proximity of an Islamic center so close to the 9/11 site is something that will never be accepted by a portion of Americans. Too often is the image of Islam represented by misguided extremists.

These Americans will continue to view Islam through the same extremist veil that blinded the Jihadists on the morning of September 11th and led the 645 reported hate crimes in the week following.

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Filed under Editorial, Life, Politics

FSG: Six Tips to Survive the First Year of College.

By William Johnson

I loved the first year of college. It had it’s ups and down, but I enjoyed the ride. However, there are some things I wish I knew when I started and some mistakes I wish I hadn’t made. College should be a fun and eye opening experience for everyone involved. It comes with so much freedom that it takes awhile to get adjusted to not having to ask before going out. I don’t know how many times I almost said, “I’ll have to ask my mom”, when somebody asked me to hang out. There are some things to be remembered with this new freedom, however. Here are a few tips to help you survive freshman year.

1. Go to Class!

The most commonly used phrases by subject 101 professors on the first day of class is, “The reason most students fail my class is because attendance”. No, this doesn’t mean that every teacher has a strict attendance policy.In fact, most instructors could care less if you come to class, and that’s where students miss out. Go to every class if you can. There will be days when you just can’t make it. On those days, make sure to get a copy of the notes. You’ll have classes that you don’t have to go to every session, but don’t abuse them. Remember why you’re at college to begin with.

2. Study!

I can’t stress this enough. Studying is the most important thing you can do while at school, besides going to class. Studying doesn’t have to be boring, either. Make study groups with classmates and friends. Set goals for your study times. When I had study groups this year, we made sure to take a 5-15 minute break every hour. Study groups are great for people who can’t stare at a book for hours at a time. In this setting, students can talk about each subject  until it’s understood by everybody. That being said, pick your study group partners wisely. Wasting hours of time is just as bad as not studying. Actually, it’s the same thing.

3. Eat smart/ Get out and do something!

Studies show that students either lose or gain fifteen pounds within the first year of college. Now that parents aren’t around to tell you how to eat or when to eat, managing a healthy schedule can be difficult. This is where the fabled “Freshman Fifteen” comes in. Most universities also have a dining hall of some sort. Often times, this is an open buffet sort of establishment. All-you-can-eat does not mean you should eat all you can eat. Try to keep a regular eating schedule that works for you. also, try to get out and get some exercise. Walk around campus, and explore the city or town. Most likely, your college or university has a fitness center open for student use. Use it. You’ll find that there is a lot of free time when you first get to college. Use some of that time to stay fit.

4.Respect your Roommate!

Roommates can be the best (and worst) part of your college experience. The first thing you should do is sit down and have a conversation about boundaries. Some people like to sing and listen to music obnoxiously loud in the shower, while others may yell in their sleep. Discuss these things before getting settled in. Roommate agreements are a good way to establish house rules. Set times for visitors to come over, and rules for those who spend the night. If your roommate is completely unbearable, talk to your Resident Assistant for help on how to solve the situation. If everything falls in your favor, your roommate can end up being your best friend.

5.Get involved/meet people!

Make an effort to have at least one friend in every class you have. A major part of college is meeting people and networking. Join a student organization, or hang out around campus. College is stepping stone to a better job and living completely on your own. A good thing about it is that you get to start over from high school. Use it to find yourself and grow out of your shell. Or if you don’t have one, make great friends and help them come out of theirs. As freshmen, you’re all in this boat together. Organize trips to the grocery store or movies with that one friend who has a car. Pull study groups together from your friends in class and out of class. Besides, you can’t get invited to that party you want to go to, or talk the guy/girl you saw in History if you don’t have any friends.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

As mentioned earlier, college is a stepping stone. This means it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for help during this trial period of your life. Whether it be from your new friends, or a call back home to your parents, learning to ask for help is key to surviving through the first year. Remember that your parents are there to help you when you need it. There’s no shame in calling Mom and Dad. If you don’t have a car during your freshman year for a number of reasons, asking a friend for a ride is something you’ll end up doing at least once or twice. Going to a professor’s office hours if you don’t fully grasp a concept or definition is encouraged. Even if you want to just talk about your grade or how the class is going, professors will encourage you to stop by.

This list isn’t definitive or limited to. It’s a guide to make the transition to college easier. If you have any questions, or comments, feel free to email me or leave a comment below. Think I left something out or was too vague? Leave it below and I’ll answer your question.


Filed under Advice, College, Life