Review: New “Thor: Ragnarok” Film Shines

Ryan Cook with the “Thor: Ragnarok” poster at the Country Club Mall in Lavale, MD. Photo courtesy of Cook.

by Ryan Cook

 2017 has been an excellent year for superhero movies. First, we were treated to the groundbreaking Wolverine film “Logan” in March. Then came the colorful and emotional “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” in May.

Audiences across the world fell in love with Gal Gadot in the blockbuster hit “Wonder Woman” in June, and July reintroduced Spider-Man to fans of all ages in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

Now, Marvel’s mightiest Avenger returns to the big screen in “Thor: Ragnarok.”

Directed by indie-filmmaker Taika Waititi (“What We Do in the Shadows,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”), “Thor: Ragnarok” picks up two years after the events of 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is now on a quest to stop the evil goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett), from unleashing Ragnarok, “the end of all things,” upon his home world of Asgard.

After Thor’s first encounter with the goddess of death doesn’t go his way, the mighty Thor is cast off to the savage planet known as Sakaar.

It’s while he’s on Sakaar that Thor reunites with his fellow Avenger, Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

Comic book fans are treated to one of the most epic gladiatorial movie fights in recent years between Thor and Hulk before the plot of the film really starts running.

In a year with no shortage of great comic book movies, “Thor: Ragnarok” doesn’t disappoint. Hemsworth gives his best and most comedic performance as the god of thunder yet.

With “Ragnarok” being his fifth outing as Thor, Hemsworth seems to be having more fun than ever in his role.

Tom Hiddleston is outstanding as usual as Thor’s adopted brother, Loki. While he still lives up to his nickname of the god of mischief, Loki has a significant change of heart in this movie, and Hiddleston plays this to perfection.

The Hulk has never been more interesting than in this movie. For the first time in movie history, the Hulk speaks in full sentences, which provides some great comedic moments with Thor.

What makes this Hulk more interesting is that because his intelligence has improved, Banner and his Hulk side are fighting for mental control. Ruffalo brilliantly portrays this as both Banner and Hulk.

As for the new characters in the film, Blanchett’s Hela is a force to be reckoned with. Blanchett brings the perfect balance of humor and pure evil that makes Hela the best villain of the Thor franchise since Loki in the original film.

Jeff Goldblum (“Jurassic Park”) also joins the cast as the Grandmaster, and every line of dialogue he says is appropriately golden. No one can deliver a line quite like Goldblum, and his talent is on full display in this movie.

One of the many standout characters in the film is actually played by the film’s director, Taika Waititi.

In “Ragnarok,” Waititi plays Korg, a giant rock monster with a gentle, soothing voice who tries to befriend Thor.

It’s impossible to do the character justice by describing his appearance and lovable personality, but it’s definitely a highlight of the film.

Overall, the “Thor” franchise takes a pleasing direction with “Ragnarok.” The film has a similar look and color palette to Marvel’s other space franchise, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but  “Thor: Ragnarok” has a very different sense of humor and adventure than the other superhero movies that were released this year.

The film has a runtime of over two hours, but it never feels too long. The jokes are related to the plot, and the sense of urgency in the movie makes its runtime fly by. “Ragnarok” is a funny action/adventure film to watch over Christmas break.

Heads up to Marvel fans who know to stay seated when the credits start to roll — there are two scenes during the credits of “Ragnarok.”

Taste One of Many Marvelous Munchies at Marla’s Bakery

By Matthew Timbrook, Contributing Writer

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If you happen to be walking down Main Street here in Keyser, you might find yourself following the delicious aroma of fresh-baked cookies into the charming robin-egg blue building with white trim; there you will find one of the town’s sweetest local businesses: Marla’s Main Street Bakery.

Marla Payne first opened her business on September 23, 2008, after her husband was injured at work. Knowing it was up to her to support her family in their time of need, she made the decision to open a bakery.

Although she had never owned a business before, Payne had knowledge of how to proceed from previously managing very large bakeries. Although she recalls having had a talent at making treats for friends and family from as early as the age of 9, culinary school was never an option while she was growing up. Owning and operating her own bakery was an unexpected turn of events, but it seems to have been a pleasant surprise.

Payne provides custom cakes, donuts, cookies and more to customers of all ages in the local area and beyond and is always seeing new faces walking through her doors.

“I like to think of all my customers as my friends and some of them even as family,” said Payne. “I know people by the foods they like. I may not always know their name – which is sad – but eventually I do.”

It’s refreshing to see a local business such as Payne’s operate in my home town; she provides a great service to our community, but it’s up to us to ensure that services such as hers can afford to stay open.

“If the local community would come in to every small business – and this isn’t hard to do – and spend fifty dollars a month, small businesses would thrive. They would,” said Payne.

So if you’re downtown and your stomach is growling, consider stopping by Marla’s Main Street Bakery for a pastry or two; just prepare to be treated less like a customer and more like family.

 

Potomac State College Students Give Back to Their Community

 

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“I knew that giving an afternoon of my time to this unique park would be the smallest token I could give back to this piece of history,” said Potomac State College student Maddy Buss. Buss volunteered to clean up trash at the Flight 93 National Park in Somerset County, Pennslyvania. While Buss volunteered she had the chance to speak with families of victims who were aboard Flight 93. “I don’t remember everything she said to me about her relative, but I remember exactly how she made me feel: heavy-hearted but incredibly enlightened.” Buss’s experience had a great emotional impact on her that, she says, will always last with her.

PSC gives students opportunities to get involved in giving back to their community.

WVUe coordinator/professor Andrea Schafer has made it a goal to help students develop life skills as well as career skills. In the WVUe curriculum, students are given an Outreach Engagement Assignment in which they are asked to find a way to give back or engage the community. “Life skills are just as important as career skills,” said Schafer. It gives the students an opportunity to “step out of their comfort zone.”

Schafer sees a lasting impact this assignment leaves on some students

“They see a personal impact or career impact,” said Schafer. Tori Kane participated in giving meals to veterans. After speaking with them, Kane decided she wanted to go into the military.

“I think it’s important to show that we aren’t selfish and only take care of what we benefit from,” said PSC student Cassidy Aldridge, when talking about giving back to her community. Aldridge works at her local YMCA as a front desk staff, child care staff and as a managing assistant. Aldridge found herself staying past her shift, helping the maintenance staff clean. “I noticed how hard the maintenance staff’s job was, so I decided to help out.” Aldridge was offered a higher-level position as a party handler in result of her extra volunteer work. Aldridge expressed that volunteering made her helpful and led to more opportunities at her job.

Not only does this assignment help students to develop communication and interpersonal skills, it also reflects two more of Orlikoff’s core values. Schafer says that accountability and appreciation are also very important here. By volunteering students are showing accountability “by showing up and going through with what they said they would do,” said Schafer. “Appreciation is realized when a student discovers they have a role and a voice on their campus and in their community,” expressed Schafer. WVUe isn’t the only way students are getting involved, however.

PSC Clubs host events that give students opportunities to fundraise or participate in the community.

This year The Intro to Event Logistics class hosted a toy drive Nov. 15th and 16th. During this event, gifts were collected and distributed through the local schools to students/families in need. “I think it is important for students to get involved in the community because it makes a difference in the lives of others,” said event coordinator Amy Weaver. “The realization that you have impacted someone’s life is a huge reward.”

During the month of October, PSC students and Morgantown campus students joined together to complete projects in various Mineral County areas. These projects included painting at the Mineral County Family Resources site as well as cutting grass, power washing sidewalks and cleaning the parking lots at the Mineral County Health Department. Students also worked on similar projects in the city of Piedmont.

PSC clubs are also active in the community. Catamounts Against Cancer has hosted Relay for Life events in the past. Catamounts Against Cancer raised over $1,000 dollars at a mini Relay for Life in October of 2016. This money was then donated to American Cancer Society and the Mineral County Relay for Life. The Student Government also participated in donating their time to paint a house in the community and placed American flags on the quad in honor of veterans for Veteran’s Day.

  “Our campus is an integral part of this community, and by giving back we are showing the community around us that we care,” said Weaver.

Candlelight Vigil held on campus to remember Las Vegas Shooting Victims

 

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 A candlelight vigil was held on The Quad to honor the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Dr. Edward Brown also spoke on the importance of reaching out to our government and using our voices as Americans to help stop these tragedies from happening again.

Landau Eugene Murphy Returns to Keyser

 

The lights dim as the audience sits quietly in anticipation. The band swiftly rushes to their seats to prepare their instruments. Suddenly, the saxophone starts to play as Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. energetically takes the stage to do what he loves.

On Saturday, Sept. 30, Murphy returned to Potomac State College for a third year to sing for the students and citizens of Keyser. As a native of Logan, West Virginia Murphy rose to fame after winning the sixth season of “America’s Got Talent.”  After his big win, Murphy secured a one-year contract to headline at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Murphy kicked off the concert with his rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me.” The audience couldn’t stay in their seats as he sang other jazz classics. Murphy was very good at interacting with the audience. He was always quick with a joke between each of his songs.

Murphy ensured that each member of his band was given credit throughout the concert. He even gave them time to perform solos.

Murphy was joined on stage by the music group LCB (Leonard, Coleman and Blunt.) The band consists of Glenn Leonard (former singer for The Temptations,) Joe Coleman (former lead singer for The Platters) and Joe Blunt (former lead singer for The Drifters.)   The members of LCB are lifelong friends who decided to put together their band after retiring from their respective former groups. The musical trio performed many Motown classics.

“The show was really good. It’s not the type of music I’d normally listen to, but I think I might give it a try,” said PSC student Joshua Rubin.

Students Assist in Fort Ashby Archaeology Dig

By Matt Timbrook

Summer months were spent digging up the past and preserving history

Paul Meyers, Dave Frederick (top) and PSC Student Matthew Timbrook participate in the archaeological dig in Fort Ashby over the summer. Photo by Dr. Stephen McBride

Tucked away in Fort Ashby are the remains of the town’s namesake, a rudimentary fort commissioned by Col. Washington to fend off Native American raids in the midst of the French and Indian War.

Although the site of the historic landmark now resembles more of a vacant grassy field than a military installation, below the surface lies a plethora of clues, artifacts and insight into the history of John Ashby’s Fort.

Potomac State College assisted in excavating the site under the guidance of Dr. Stephen McBride, an archaeologist who is both knowledgeable and experienced in the realm of 18th century American history.

The course was both instructional and functional as McBride taught the class the painstakingly precise and calculated methods of measuring, roping off and eventually carving into zones of soil.

The students used a variety of tools including shovels, trowels, brushes, and perhaps the most important equipment of all: their eyes.

The ability to notice very subtle changes in soil color and texture made all the difference as the class meticulously scraped away layers of earth in search of the A-Horizon — the soil that would have been on the surface in the 1700s before layers of sediment accumulated over it.

Throughout those hot summer weeks of June and July, the students managed to uncover a multitude of 18th and 19th century artifacts including musket balls, wrought iron nails, and even buttons from the uniforms of the fort’s garrison.

Students also chased the footprint of darkened soil that marked the precise location of the stockades and bastions that protected the fort’s inhabitants.

The precise mapping of the structure’s original footprint is a monumental achievement; future efforts to preserve Fort Ashby’s historic heritage have yet to be announced.

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Potomac State College Runner Smashes Record

emily pylesEmily Pyles plans to beat the 5k record next.

by Staff and Christopher Hackney

Potomac State College runner Emily Pyles beat the previous women’s 6K time by nearly five minutes at the Frostburg race at Maplehurst.

  The WVU-PSC Catamount cross country team is looking to continue rolling through the 2017 slate after finishing third and seventh in the Barbour County Skirmish and the Westmoreland CCC Invitational respectively, although they had failed to place in the Shenandoah University Invitational. At press time, the team is headed to the Hood College Invitational.

  The Catamount cross country team consists of an all-freshman team of Kole Bennett of McHenry, Maryland, Joshua Kincaid of Parsons, West Virginia and Shane Yutzy of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. The Catamounts are led by first-year head coach Kurtis Wildman.