Sapochnik Serves the Juiciest Pie in GOT History With Season 6 Finale “Winds of Winter”

6.29.2016

By Logan Gossett

[HEAVY SPOILERS]

On Sunday, Miguel Sapochnik concluded season six of Game of Thrones with two of the three best episodes in television history, per IMDB and totally objective Game of Thrones fans. If it wasn’t the best episode in television history, “Winds of Winter” was at least the best episode in the series. You know an episode’s phenomenal when “best episode in the series” is a compromise. Due to the resonant hype from the impeccable season six finale “Winds of Winter,” a coherent recap of Sunday’s episode is out of the question. What that question is, I have no idea. Instead, these are six incoherent ramblings from an overhyped Game of Thrones fan. Bullet points are present to give the illusion of structure.

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  • “Winds of Winter” essentially confirmed the most popular fan theory in the history of entertainment, but two scenes somehow carried more gravity.*

First, Peter Dinklage elevated the exchange between Tyrion and Daenerys to another impossibly impressive level. Tyrion hasn’t appeared to be that genuinely fulfilled since his relationship with Shae in season four, which turned out to be manufactured by his father who was *ahem* similarly fulfilled by her.

Second, the first twenty minutes of the show displayed unparalleled visual storytelling. The word “game” in Game of Thrones has never felt more darkly ironic. Cercei’s game overcooked a notable slab of King’s Landing, including the player at the top of the leaderboard in Margaery Tyrell, although an argument can be made that Mace “the ace” Tyrell’s rousing, even arousing, motivational abilities will be missed with greater longing. Perhaps the most impressive cinematography of the episode was Tommen pulling a voluntary Bran by falling from a window after Cercei’s wildfire explosion. The longshot of a charred King’s Landing framed between two pillars illustrated the collapse of faith and the crown, with Tommen falling in-between them. The visual storytelling was like Pearl Jam’s music video for “Jeremy” except good, and not similar whatsoever. Plus, the casting budget for next season was reduced considerably. The Great Sept of Baelor’s explosion was basically a cost saving collaboration between Cercei and frugal HBO executives.

Tommen_Baratheon(Lannister)_jumps_out_of_his_window,_Season_6_Episode_10.

  • Imagine if the most attractive tourist destination in the Bahamas was a kiddie pool with hungry piranhas in it. Now imagine a great white shark idling next to the pool, yelling obscenities at visitors. Throw in a Steve Buscemi selfie at the bottom of the pool for good measure. Thanks to Dorne, this is the obstacle Miguel Sapochnik overcame to make “The Winds of Winter” the greatest episode in Game of Thrones history. Sapochnik turned an episode featuring a Dorne scene into the best episode of the series. Dorne is a kiddie pool with piranhas inside, a verbally abusive shark outside, and a picture of Steve Buscemi at the bottom. Yet, Sapochnik’s brilliance meant that somehow didn’t ruin the experience. Amazing.
  • Bronn should totally be dead by now. When a side character becomes likable, they suffer a prompt, brutal death. Just a few victims of the Law of Likability:
    • Myrcella Baratheon (aka Cercei’s normal kid) : Poisoned by the belligerent great white sharks of Dorne.
    • Roose Bolton (aka vampire guy): Poisoned by his enemies.
    • Syrio Forel (aka ballerina warrior): Killed by the Lannister’s Gold Cloaks, beaten mercilessly by fan theories involving Jaqen.
    • Oberyn Martell (aka staff-wielding ballerina warrior): Rekt by the Mountain.
    • Shireen Baratheon (aka hyper-literate greyscaled girl): Burned at the stake.

In sum, Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss don’t beat around the bush: they uproot it. The fact that Bronn is still alive is unprecedented in Game of Thrones. After hearing “bad pussy,” I’m surprised he didn’t uproot his bush himself.

  • Apparently Arya killed Walder Frey, so that’s nice. Arya’s efforts to ensure that Walder Frey sniffed out her pun before she killed him were admirable. This scene was mostly forgettable, despite its implications for Arya and the satisfaction of seeing Walder Frey eat his sons and die. Many fans bemoaned the heartless nature of Arya’s morbid execution of Walder Frey, but I’m all in on vengeful Arya. If Melisandre peered into Arya’s peepers now, even she would be mortified by the killing machine staring back. Considering Melisandre’s placement on Arya’s list and her removal from Jon Snow’s, Mel should avoid studying flames for a while, because her future doesn’t appear promising.
  • What the hell is Euron Greyjoy doing? There’s no way he’s built more than 15 ships by now, and the few that he has can be quickly charred by dragons. With Dany sailing to Westeros, everything but the White Walkers seems pretty trivial anyway. What are 1,000 ships without a dragon?  What’s an Iron Throne with a limitless army of the dead marching to the wall? What’s a god to a non-believer? What’s one more rhetorical question?
  • Game of Thrones fans have universally lauded Lyanna Mormont (aka bear queen?), but I’m having a difficult time reconciling her role. The reason D&D increased the ages of most POV characters is because a 7 year old killer-assassin-Arya rampaging through Westeros is impossible to take seriously on-screen. If a 14-year-old Jon Snow were to giants in the north and evolve into Lord Commander, we might as well be watching Spy Kids. Bella Ramsey, Lyanna Mormont’s actress, provides a nice performance, but she’s also portraying a 10-year-old girl.

When I was 10, I was probably learning how to walk. An exceedingly competent, inscrutable kid is just intrinsically ridiculous. Arya’s a believable kid character. She’s reactionary, unintelligent, and lacks clear judgement. Her bravery and resolve have triumphed, but she’s not going to hush a maester when he’s offering sage advice. If she did, arrogance and neglect would be the motivating factors, not wisdom.
Dragons? Totally believable. I draw the line at unimpeachable kid characters.

 

*This is probably hyperbole, considering how widely accepted R+L=J was by A Song of Ice and Fire fans in the 20 years preceding Sunday night. Then again, I can’t imagine “Jimmy Neutron is actually an eggplant” or “Family Guy is literally human feces,” carried as much hype as R+L=J.

WTF Is Happening in Europe – An Update on Brexit

6.24.2016

By: Darby VanHoutan

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This summer has definitely been one full of political tension and issues that hit home for too many people. Across the pond in Britain, millions of citizens turned out just yesterday to vote on a decision that will change the lives of not only the European Union but everyone around the world.

The United Kingdom held a referendum on Thursday (referendum: a general vote by the people on a single political question that has been given to them for direct decision) to decide whether Britain would stay in or leave the EU. The “leave” campaign won with 52% to the “stay” campaigns 48%. As the results from this voting piled in, the value of the euro dropped significantly to its lowest level since the 1980’s. In the hours since the voting, Britain has lost a total of 350 billion euro (this converts to about $389,304,995,370.39). This morning after receiving the news, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would resign by October. Cameron served as a leader of the “stay” campaign and an important voice in the debate. According to his speech, Cameron made the decision to step down because he feels that he would not be the right person to lead the people of Britain to their next destination.

Why did this happen? The reasons behind the “leave” campaign were promises such as restrictions on immigration, more money for an independent United Kingdom, better handling of crises, and other issues within the country. These issues include things such as lack of trust in people like the Prime Minister, the UK’s relationship with Europe, and the big names that backed the “leave” campaign. These names included that of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (the head runner for replacing Cameron). Another thing worth noting is the different turnout of people at the polls on Thursday. There was a 25 percent turnout of people aged 18-25 and a 61 percent turnout of people 65 and up. Ironically, this decision made by a majority of older citizens, will be the issue for the newer generations instead to handle.

Currently, the EU is a 27-member block, being knocked down from 28 after Britain is the first country to exit. However, this referendum does not stand alone. This decision is causing traction and debated in other countries in the EU such as Scotland who voted to remain in the EU on Thursday.

What does this mean? Although the news on the decision is not even a day old, the ripples from Britain’s vote will surely last for decades. This decision shows that the United Kingdom is now independent from Europe and more right-winged than ever. This decision will change traveling from Britain to members of the EU and vice-versa. Technically, this decision isn’t a legally-binding one but it isn’t likely that the British government will ignore its voters. Within the vote was also the fact that there won’t be any ~major~ changes in the next two years. This is because it will take about this long for the remaining 27 members and the independent Britain to decide things like how to maintain trade, travel, etc.

 

Storming the Battlefield to Hitting The Books: Back to School for Student Veterans

5.12.2016

By Maddie Farber

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For student veteran Ian Appling, it’s not the sound of gunshots and loud noises that affects his PTSD, but rather the murmur, the low talking voice, that one often hears when in big groups of people. When he was a part of the Navy, he says that a large part of his security training was to be always listening for danger. He says that when he hears a lot of people talking it makes him immediately paranoid, suspicious and hypersensitive.

Appling, 27, from Kerville, Texas, joined the Navy in 2009 after his freshman year at KU. He was deployed in July 2010, and spent the majority of his time serving as a sonar technician on a ship called the U.S.S. Winston S. Churchill. After 6 months he returned, but was deployed again in June 2012 for nine months. During that time he worked out of the Persian Gulf doing mainly counter Iranian operations. He began his transition back into college in the fall of 2013 at 24 years old.

When he first returned, Appling says he would be on his way to class, walk halfway up the hill, and get overwhelmed by the amount of people. “I would turn around a go back home,” he says. He would close the door to his room and lock himself inside. It was the only way he knew how to deal with the staggering feelings he was having being back on a college campus and around so many people.

Though they account for just 4 percent of the national student body, more than one million military veterans have been taking advantage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill passed in 2008, making it easier for student veterans to seek higher education than ever before. Between 2009 and 2013, nearly 720,000 more veterans are taking advantage of education benefits, according to data from United States Department of Veterans Affairs. 83 percent of those student veterans attend a public university, so colleges around the country have been grappling to meet the needs of the growing student-veteran population. At KU alone, the number of student veterans has gone from 350 to 1,000 in the past four years, according to the KU’s Office of Graduate Military programs.

The increase in numbers is a challenge for universities, but for student veterans, the challenges transitioning back into a college lifestyle seem to be endless. From a lack of shared experiences among students and faculty, difficulty obtaining credit for military training experiences and state residency requirements, to the age gap among their peers, these are the problems that lead to increased stress, anxiety, isolation and an overall disconnection from campus life for student veterans.

On top of this, a study from the American Psychological Association found that almost half of all college students who are U.S. military veterans have reported having suicidal thoughts, and 20 percent said they had planned to kill themselves. Another report from the Rand Corporation found that 300,000 veterans overall suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is about 20 percent of all veterans. The study also found that college campuses cause PTSD sufferers to experience more severe symptoms.

April Blackmon Strange, KU Student Veteran Center Director, is a self-described “military brat.” Her father, who is now retired from the military 100 percent disabled, and her husband, who is also retired from the military, both served in the army. She graduated from high school in Bamberg, Germany, where her father was stationed at the time. Post-graduation she returned to the U.S. and attended K-State.

The Student Veteran Center is the University’s single point of contact to coordinate integrated support to military-connected students. Blackmon Strange, along with others who work in the Student Veteran’s Center at KU, connects students with veteran-centered academic support, career services, healthcare and wellness resources, and more.

veteransDespite the statistics showing the amount of student veterans who suffer from PTSD, Blackmon Strange says that the Student Veteran Center doesn’t know the exact number of student-veterans that have PTSD at KU. Student veterans are not required to disclose their medical condition to the University. For the student veterans who do choose to disclose their medical issues, Blackmon Strange says her office works closely with the Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC) to get accommodations for those students.

It’s stereotypical to think that if someone is a veteran they must have PTSD, she says, because that’s not always the case. According to her, the Student Veteran Center is more focused on helping student veterans deal with the cultural shifts from military to college life. The drastic cultural shift student veterans face when transitioning from military to college life, and the emotional toll that can take on student veterans, is the biggest issue the Student Veteran Center sees on a consistent basis, she says. The transition from a structured military world to a less structured college environment is one of the most overwhelming aspects of returning to or attending college for the first time.

“You’re 25 and coming to college for the first time and you don’t have your parents,” Blackmon Strange says. “It becomes more of a challenge when you feel like you’re by yourself and don’t have a support system or structure around to help you. How do you navigate a system that seems foreign to you?”

For many military-connected students, the military was more than a job; it’s a part of their identity. Leaving the military isn’t like leaving a 9-5 job. “You’re leaving a core support network of brothers and sisters who ‘get it’ through shared experiences and, sometimes, hardships,” she says.

Camaraderie is a huge part of the military family, and some students can feel alone and isolated when that military family network is no longer right there on a daily basis. Connecting with other veterans on campus can be a huge relief for some, but with tens of thousands of people at KU, it can be a challenge to find them. “That’s where groups like the Student Veterans of America, and facilities like the Student Veteran Center can really assist,” she says.

For Appling, what may be the most difficult aspect of being a student is being labeled as a veteran first, and Ian second. In his opinion, labeling veterans as the most “ostracized group on campus” is an understatement.

 

“Veterans as a whole just want to be treated as students. I know every single one of my cohorts at school feels this way too,” he says. “We don’t want anything special. We just want to be normal, and accepted as normal people.”

Appling’s desire to feel “normal,” and the lack of understanding he has experienced is not unusual, according to Blackmon Strange. Student-veterans deal with stereotypes, most of the time regarding their mental health and political beliefs. Many may not realize there are a lot of positive attributes in being a student veteran including resilience, maturity and leadership, she says.

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Ryan Lu, 24, and originally from Kearney MO., first joined the Kansas Air National Guard in 2009, during his first year at KU. In the spring of 2010 he was shipped off to basic training, before deploying in September 2011. In Bastion, Afghanistan, Lu says he worked in air transportation loading planes and inspecting cargo. He did this for six months before he returned to KU.

Lu had three semesters down when he came back from deployment, but the transition was still hard. Lu says he had to take a lot of general requirements for his degree in biochemistry, and did OK during his first few semesters. But taking a one and a half year gap presented its problems, especially after coming back from deployment. Getting back into the swing of studying, tests and homework wasn’t exactly easy for him. But what was even harder was catching up, academically, to his younger peers.  Lu had to backtrack on some of the material and re-establish basic studying habits.

But perhaps what bothered him the most when returning was being two years older than everyone in his classes. As an older student he felt as though he “should’ve had more knowledge, more wisdom, more whatever,” as he says. But he was still an older person in a freshman level class. For Lu, this was intimidating, because the people in his classes were younger, but more knowledgeable than him in the major at the time.

“It sets you back,” he says.

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Feeling isolated because of the age difference between student veterans and their peers is another major obstacle that student veterans face, Blackmon Strange says.

Some veterans find challenges relating to or connecting with traditional college students, who tend to be younger and have different life experiences. Age differences can also mean different priorities and stressors for some student-veterans, including balancing school, work and family for those with children, for example. “There are different perspectives on issues that we stress over when we’re 18, 19, 20 vs. 25, 30, 40 years old,” she says.

With all the issues that student veterans face when transitioning, it begs the question: is transitioning back into college harder for some student veterans compared to others? Blackmon Strange says a student veteran’s ability to assimilate better or worse than their peers is based on a combination of experiences, knowledge and just individual circumstances. As she reflects on her experiences of being a military family member throughout her entire life, she admits coming out into the civilian world was scary for her, too.

“When you get to college, you’re on a campus where everyone already has friends, there’s not a huge welcoming,” she says. “If that’s what I went through as a military family member, there could be some similar circumstances like that [for student veterans]. Again, it’s dependent on individual experiences and circumstances, but it’s hard no matter what.”

Appling’s experience echoes a similar sentiment. He explains that there wasn’t a lot of guidance about what transition back would be like.

“I wasn’t warned that the transition was going to be terrible,” he says.

Appling says when he first left the Navy he didn’t personally know any vets that had transitioned to students. As he puts it, he didn’t have anyone telling him, “this is what you need to do.” His closest family was a few hours away. The lack of family near by, combined with a lack of friends, created a huge stressor.

Appling had one friend left at KU who was finishing his doctorate when he returned. Other than that, he didn’t have anyone he knew when he came back to school. He had to start all over again. When he first returned, he was going through some of the lower level courses for his major in International Studies. “I was as old as some of my TAs. That’s kind of hard,” he says.

“A lot of people think that ‘you guys are just a bunch of messed up fools’. But we [student veterans] think a lot of students that are younger and going to school have no clue what’s going to happen, they have no clue what the real world is like outside the confines of the United States,” he says.

Even if a student-veteran doesn’t suffer from any mental or physical issues, or was never deployed, Appling thinks that student veterans, no matter what, are classified as having a problem. It’s those assumptions, in Appling’s opinion, that make it the most difficult to re-assimilate.

Although some actions have been taken to ease the transition for student veterans, such as the University’s proposal for a new Student Veteran Center, meeting the needs of student veterans is more imperative now than ever before. According to Blackmon Strange, a “place-based” strategy, such as the Student Veteran Center, creates a “one-stop shop” for outreach, G.I. Bill or financial information and assistance, class information, and more.

Despite the University’s growing efforts to create a better transition for student veterans, for Appling, “coming into a place and knowing that I was different,” was the hardest part of his transition. Changing the environment on college campus for student veterans is no small feat, but according to Appling, should be the University’s top priority with regards to student veterans.

Photography by Maddie Farber
Modeled by Ian Appling and Ryan Lu

Smooth(ie) Sailing: A Guide for Surviving Finals

5.06.2016

By Sabrina Sheck

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Finals week is coming up super fast (aka next week). We know how hard it is to stay motivated this time of year, especially when stress and lack of sleep are threatening your health. Don’t let finals be the death of you—grab a quick and flavorful smoothie before hitting the library and you’ll be feeling healthier and (hopefully) acing those tests/projects.

Juice Stop is the perfect place to get your smoothie fix, and they have great nutrient blends to keep your mind and body under control. No one wants to forget everything they studied as soon as they start the test, and you definitely don’t want to get sick right before finals! When you head into Juice Stop you might be a little overwhelmed with what to order, but have no fear, you just need to know which fruits are going to be your best friends to survive finals week.

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We headed into Juice Stop and ordered a Half Nelson with the Wellness blend. Not only does this smoothie already have oranges in it, which are high in Vitamin C to help knock out any viruses, but adding the Wellness blend will make sure your immune system is in tip top shape.

Another great fruit to have in a smoothie are blueberries. The Volley smoothie contains blueberries, which are known for being rich in antioxidants and helping your memory stay strong. Add in the Green blend to give your brain an extra boost to make sure you won’t lose any important information during your finals.

Finally, try a smoothie with banana in it, such as the Off The Lip. Not only are bananas going to give you a full day’s worth of energy, but adding in the Energy blend will keep you going until the wee hours of the morning when you are studying late for your last final.

 

If you can’t make it to Juice Stop before your study sesh, pick up a smoothie from The Pulse in the Underground or the Union on campus. You can find immune health, energy, and protein add-ins to carry you through these last few weeks. Good luck studying!

Photography by Sabrina Sheck

The Hill: Volume 4

5.05.2016

The Hill has returned to print! For the first time in three years, you can hold an issue of our magazine in your hands. It’s been a year of hard work, but the staff wanted nothing more than to bring our readers a physical edition this spring. Look for a print edition in the Journalism School, the School of Engineering and the Art and Design building on campus. The staff will also be handing out copies (completely FREE for KU students!) this afternoon on Wescoe Beach and at Tea @ 3 at the Union. Follow us on social media to see where to find us and when! Finally, we invite you all to come celebrate this beautiful magazine with us tonight at The Nest on Ninth at the Oread. Our Release Party will be held from 5-8pm, and there will be a bartender and servers available all evening. We can’t wait to see you!

The issue is also available to read online digitally at issuu.com. Be sure to follow us on Issuu for all future publication updates!

Don’t forget, this issue is free to download! Create an Issuu account and keep the digital version on your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone for offline & on-the-go reading.

 

You Can’t Live on Cookies: The Vegan Challenge

5.04.2016

By Rebecca Dowd

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Abigail Fulk saw the sign for the vegan station in a cafeteria at The University of Central Missouri and rushed over to it. But when she took a closer look, her heart sank. The vegan stir fry had been cooked in beef bouillon (just because it’s bouillon doesn’t mean it has no meat in it) and the sign for the pasta at the station said the pasta “only” had bacon bits in it.

This wasn’t enough to make Fulk give up her vegan lifestyle, but maintaining a vegan diet isn’t easy for college students. Beyonce and Jay Z tried to make it easier with their “22 Day Vegan Challenge”—sign up for $119.99, you’ll get protein bars, plant based protein powders, and recipes delivered right to your door—but you still have to eat and that’s the challenge for many college vegans.

To be vegan means to eat a totally plant-based diet— no meat, eggs, or dairy. Bye-bye cheese; hello beans, rice, veggies, nuts and fruits. Also sugar. You can be vegan and eat only Oreos, says Anne Henry, a nutritionist in Denver, Colorado, but a diet of cookies isn’t sustainable.

Lilly Bakker, a senior majoring in social welfare at The University of Kansas was hesitant talking about her vegan diet because she didn’t make it past the two week mark. “I stood no chance,” she says. She wanted to be able to sit on the couch with her roommates and eat junk food. Allie Roseman, a senior majoring in business at Miami of Ohio University made it two and a half years, and enjoyed eating fruits, veggies, oatmeal, and beans, but the challenge of finding vegan food on her campus did her in.

Roseman stuck to three options: baked potato, steamed broccoli, and brown rice. Eventually, she found herself 20 pounds lighter and couldn’t maintain a healthy body weight.  “I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I just quit,” Roseman says.

It’s frustrating to Fulk that to be committed to your vegan diet in college means losing a ton of weight. Eating on the University of Central Missouri campus was torture, she says. KU students are much more satisfied with their vegan options on campus. KU Dining recieved a B on the 2015 Vegan Report Card, according to Peta College Rankings, with 89 percent satisfaction ratings.

For the 2015-2016 school year, KU introduced “Nature’s Finest,” which is 100 percent plant-based at every dining location every day, says Christine Ebert, a registered dietitian for KU Dining Services. These Nature’s Finest stations aren’t the only places with vegan options, but they help curtail student requests for more and easier options. If students have the will, there are options for them on campus, Ebert says.

KU has more vegan options available than ever before. “In fact, 39 percent of our recipes are vegan. That is up from around 28 percent last year,” Ebert says. Kathryn Everett a junior majoring in engineering says being a vegan at KU actually isn’t that difficult because she can find meals and snacks quick and easy. And with the milk substitutes offered, she can still enjoy coffee between classes.

As a busy college student, it is easy to neglect our bodies, Everett says. Even though she has lost a few pounds, but nothing too significant, she thinks being vegan is the best option for her body, the environment and promoting fair treatment of animals.

Everett is not alone. Bon Appétit Management Co., a company that manages more than 4,000 college and university dining services saw twice as many vegan college students in just four years (from 2005-2006 to 2009-2010).

With more options at KU, Everett can stay healthy, but she still has the hardest time saying no to cookies…

“Cookies are my achilles heel,” she says.

Photography by Emma Creighton

Heard on the Hill

5.03.2016

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It’s the final week of #HOTH! We’ve loved gathering your hilarious, overheard, completely out of context quotes on campus and around town. Here’s another dose to get you through the last week of school. Good luck on finals!

  • “We should take realistic graduation photos, like me crying in the library in my cap and gown.”
  • “I need to stop taking Benadryl before I sleep, man, I had a dream that Bernie Sanders was president.”
  • “This bitch was sick three weeks ago. Her futon is still covered with used tissues. When I asked her to clean them up, she had the balls to say, “I’ve been pretty busy.”
  • “Someone pooped in the shower, how does that happen?”
  • “I am not going to check when any of my finals are this semester. I already have a job, so who cares if I miss them.”
  • “But you’re like, too cute to go to the gym.”
  • Girl 1: “What are you going to put on your mortarboard?”
    Girl 2: “I don’t really want to do anything. It seems like too much work.”
    Girl 1: “You should put that on it. It’s clearly your college motto.”
  • “So instead of class next Wednesday, we’re going to party it up! Bring anything you want, except NO alcohol.”
  • Girl 1: “My brain is vibrating.”
    Girl 2: “Answer it.”
  • ​”Jesus Christ, we ate hot dogs again.”
  • “I just don’t trust a guy in a black button-down shirt.”

Photo Feature: Body Graffiti

5.02.2016

Local artist Zak Blatt (who was featured in our digital edition of Volume 3!) recently undertook a new art project—on the human body. With skin as his canvas, Blatt creates swirling and stunning pieces of graffiti art on models.

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Art by Zak Blatt
Modeled by Sarah Cell
Photography by Abby Liudahl

Black Box, Glass Ceiling: The Life of a Black Actress in America

5.02.2016

By Kate Miller

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Brianna Woods on set filming “Oprah Loves Bread (A Weight Watcher’s Parody)” for Friend Dog Studios

Growing up, Brianna Woods was told that being an actress was something she just couldn’t do.

A black 21-year-old woman from Overland Park, Kansas, she remembers sitting down in high school with a high school mentor who she says was trying to be helpful. Woods, who at the time was deciding what she wanted to study at the University of Kansas, was young and impressionable. Her mentor said, “’You have a lot of talent, but it would be wasted,’” Woods remembers. “‘No one is looking for you. No one is going to hire you at this point.’”

Because of that conversation, Woods, who had been acting since third grade, chose to enter college studying business. She kept that conversation secret, even from her family, who had supported her love for the performing arts since the beginning.

Woods eventually dropped business and changed her major to theater in her first year of college—and has since been cast in both traditionally “black” and “white” productions both at her university and in professional companies. Despite her success, she knows the road ahead of her will be filled with obstacles other actors don’t encounter simply because of the color of her skin.

“Growing up it was ingrained in me, my parents would say, ‘Being who you are, you have to work twice as hard, twice as fast, be twice as strong and be twice as hungry,’” she says.

The path to becoming an actor isn’t easy for anyone. It’s a career largely ruled by who you know and the talent you’re born with—plus years of training, relentless auditions and harsh rejections. For a young black person, it’s even harder. Theater is full of traditionally white roles, and for the actors who don’t fit the bill, there isn’t much opportunity. Black actors have long been pigeonholed into “traditionally black” roles and shows, such as subservient characters who serve as comic relief—but seldom the lead.

For Diadra Smith, a black University of Kansas student studying theatre and psychology, this was the case all through high school. She recalls never having been asked to look at any roles outside of “black plays” and remembers serving as a stereotype for her culture in her school. After auditioning for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which she considered a pretty race-resistant show, she was shocked when she wasn’t cast, joking that she could have instead played the chocolate river. Her directors said, “‘Well, you can always do something for Kwanzaa,’” Smith remembers. “And that really threw me back because, I was like, do you think that’s all I can do?’”

However, Smith and Woods are part of a new generation of black actors demanding more visibility and opportunities in the theater world. A new show with an entirely multiracial cast, “Hamilton,” leads the blockbusters this Broadway season. The show, which follows the life of the first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, casts black and Latino actors as the founding fathers, including a black George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The University of Kansas theater department’s most recent season includes three shows that focus on diverse casting and culture, compared to just one in the 2014-15 season and none in the year before that.

So what does this mean for the young black actors trying to make a name for themselves? It’s clear that black theater has come a long way from blackface and Jim Crow characters, but even after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it took 72 years before the first interracial couple danced together on a film screen—Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in their famous stair dance in 1935. Even though racist characters and blackface are no longer accepted in today’s media, it doesn’t mean it’s a welcoming field for black actors.

According to a study released in February 2016 by the University of Southern California, speaking roles in film, broadcast, cable and streaming are only 12.2 percent black. Of the black roles present on screen, only 33.9 percent of these are female roles. “Overall,” the study says, “the landscape of media content is still largely whitewashed.”

While the study didn’t include theater roles, the results aren’t that different across all fields of media, says Tony Bolden, a professor of African-American Studies at the University of Kansas. And when black actors have representation in film, it’s usually within the stereotypical roles and characteristics existing since slaves were emancipated in the 1870s. “There is a suggestion [in characters in film] that people of African descent are either unintelligent by nature or immoral by nature, given to criminality by nature,” Bolden says. This can come in the form of stereotypical casting— such as blacks playing the roles of criminals, subservient workers or just serving as a culture point in an otherwise “white” play.

Woods knows the struggle of being seen just for her skin color and nothing else. Growing up in Overland Park, her friends from school were mostly white, although she had a community of black friends through church and her community. When she and her friends would play a game where they imagined they were the Cheetah girls (the popular Disney characters from the early 2000s), Woods was always told she had to be Aqua—the “black one.” Even though she was only eight years old, she spent a lot of time thinking about what it meant.

Brianna Woods' professional headshot

Brianna Woods’ professional headshot

“I grew up never feeling like I truly fit in,” she says. “I wasn’t white but neither group thought I was really ‘black’ either. I spent a long time trying to figure out my identity and trying to figure out why being black was both something my white friends thought was cool but also complimented me on not being submersed in.”

Smith says it’s hard for white people to understand how much harder she has to work to be on the same playing field as other actresses. These challenges range from hair and makeup people not knowing how to correctly do her hair to people asking her to do her lines in a “black” accent. “Just little things like that…As an actor, you have to show in your real life that you deserve to be there,” she says.

Even though being black in a predominantly white industry is hard enough, Bolden explains there are several other breakdowns within race that make acting difficult. It’s not just that actors are black; an actor’s gender, socioeconomic status, politics and birthplace all factor into the roles available to them. Simply by being female, Woods and Smith have a harder path ahead of them than a male black actor does.

Despite the difficulties of her field, Woods had a recent breakthrough when she was cast in a new production as the lead. In January, she performed in a staged reading of Moulin Rouge!, the 2001 film starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, at the Buffalo Room in Kansas City, Missouri. The show is set in Paris during the turn of the 20th century, and she played the lead of Satine, a courtesan originated by the fair-skinned, redheaded Kidman.

Brianna Woods performs in the Buffalo Room's staged reading of "Moulin Rouge!"

Brianna Woods performs in the Buffalo Room’s staged reading of “Moulin Rouge!”

While a black Satine may have been a big deal, the Buffalo Room in Kansas City, didn’t use that to publicize its production. At the end, Woods asked the directors why she had been chosen, to which they had responded that she was simply the best who auditioned. “I just started crying and said, ‘Thank you for not making me a gimmick. I wanted to thank you for letting my work speak first in a world where my skin color speaks the loudest,’” Woods remembers.

The co-producers of the show, husband and wife team Vi Tran and Mackenzie Goodman Tran, said using Woods’ race as a promotional tool was never an option. But it did factor into the casting decision—made by Goodman Tran and the other producer, Katie Glichristmainly in a discussion as to whether or not Woods would be up to the potential backlash from the decision and the monumental responsibility from being the face of a “black” Satine. Tran, who is an Asian American actor himself, knew the importance of the casting decision.

“It’s very important that performers like Bri have casting directors who are willing to see her in that role,” he says. “It all comes down to the more that happens, for performers like myself and for performers like Bri, that it becomes normative. Casting directors are doing themselves a disservice if they’re walking in with preconceived notions.”

Sometimes, that disservice begins early, especially in the spaces where actors are learning their skills. But Mechele Leon, the chair of the Department of Theater at the University of Kansas, is hoping to change that. She has seen more opportunities for Woods and Smith develop under her guiding eye. She was chair when the University Theater produced both “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Detroit ’67,” in which Smith and Woods had lead roles. But she says she’s not satisfied with the “simplified formulaic” presented at many university theaters today. Instead of falling back on the old manner of filling a diversity slot in a season by producing a “black” play or a “female” play, she wants to reflect the diversity seen in real life—where those characteristics intersect. For example, instead of producing a “Hispanic” play, she would want to produce a show that explores what it’s like to be a female, lesbian Latina—therefore, exploring several different diversities at once.

She’s pushing for an explicit statement from her department about its role in promoting diversity, especially in the light of the University’s recent racially-charged discussions on campus. “It’s time for us to say what we really think needs to be the shape of the season, for us to feel comfortable about its inclusivity and diversity,” she says. “It feels sometimes like it’s hit or miss. It hasn’t been a commitment; [now], it has to be at the top of our thoughts.”

This isn’t news to actors like Woods and Smith. Both agree the theater through which they learn has taken steps to make them feel more included, but neither is quite satisfied yet. Woods says the recent push towards more diverse theater comes from minority actors being fed up with the lack of representation—and the only option left is for them to take those steps themselves.

“Minorities are realizing that some people are stuck in their ways,” Woods says, “and they’re not going to write parts for us as lead roles and they’re not going to put us in the front seat, so we have to put ourselves in the front seat.”

Photography courtesy of Brianna Woods

We’re Hiring! Apply to Join the Style on the Hill Team Fall 2016

4.29.2016

Staff Photo spring 2016

Ever look around and notice that you’re the most stylish one in the room? If you’ve got a passion for fashion and want to show off your creative side through writing, photography, design, modeling or styling, then Style on the Hill wants you! We’re looking for extremely passionate KU students who identify with our mission: to document the stories and style at The University of Kansas and in Lawrence. If style isn’t number one on your list, don’t worry. We cover food, music, art, culture, entertainment, relationships, and more.

To apply, fill out the Application Form below and send a resume and samples to us as styleonthehill@gmail.com.

WTF Is Up?! – A delicious new album, an important speech, and more!

4.29.2016

By Darby VanHoutan

WTF-Darby

Yes, okay!? Yes, I did put off every single important thing I had to do for the semester off until this week. Don’t act like you’re perfect! Just because I only got a total of seven hours of sleep this week doesn’t mean the world wasn’t still turning! WTF happened this week!?

Leo loves the Earth

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was busy this past weekend changing the world and being gorgeous. Which is more important? I mean maybe his chiseled features, but let’s focus on him changing the world. Last Friday, April 22, was Earth Day and many important decision makers for the United Nations met in Paris for the Agreement for Climate Change Signing. It was at this meeting that several countries set goals on reducing emissions. It’s nothing legal, but leaders and activists take this meeting and goal-setting seriously. Actor and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dicaprio, made an appearance before the signing to deliver a chilling speech to the leaders. His passion and feelings towards climate change made headlines earlier this year when he used his Academy Award acceptance speech to talk about his experiences and observations on climate change he had when filming the movie Revenant. Since first being declared a UN Messenger of Peace in 2014, DiCaprio has been busy calling on countries to do more than just what they have agreed to. The actor spared no emotion while delivering his speech, referencing leaders who had to make hard decisions, like Abraham Lincoln did with slavery. He then continued bringing in facts and figures but also called on the leaders to not just congratulate themselves but to get back to their countries and do something. Bra-freaking-vo Leo! I mean it’s one thing when a world leader tells you to do something, but when Leonardo DiCaprio stands in front of you all dressed up….how can you say no?

Ted Cruz made moves

The 2016 presidential race is still in full swing, though I’m sure you haven’t forgotten with all the very strange things happening. It’s sometimes difficult to keep up with all the ~drama~ of the candidates. However, this week republican nominee Ted Cruz made a very important move. He chose his running mate, who will serve as Vice-President if he is to win the party nomination, and it’s none other than (very dramatic drum roll) Carly Fiorina. Does that name ring a bell? If so it is most likely because she was running against him a few months ago for the spot of president. Cruz is the first nominee to have announced his running mate. Cruz explains his reasoning behind the early announcement as a move to earn the vote of 1,237 delegates, which is the number needed to secure the nomination.  Although this pairing makes me somewhat terrified, it would be quite a diverse White House with Fiorina being the first female vice-president and Cruz being the first hispanic president. Will the other candidates be pressured to announce their running mates as well? (cue dramatic music) Honestly, with this election, who really knows?

My new favorite #LEMONADE

Beyonce is back and she’s better. I mean, was she ever gone? Was she ever bad? No, but earlier this month the singer gave the world a tease via Instagram of something called #LEMONADE. Uhm, vague much Bey? Well, the wait for the album titled #LEMONADE ended on Saturday when it premiered, visually, on HBO. Beyonce then released it on Tidal, Amazon, and iTunes. Basically, if you can afford $17.99 (aka TWO Chipotle burritos), then it’s all yours. Of course, if you’d rather spend that money on said burritos then I can break it down for you.

#LEMONADE is a visual album, meaning that along with the songs comes a series of videos, which the singer broke into different chapters with titles like “Intuition”, “Apathy”, “Resurrection”, and more. The story she tells is one of infidelity and eventually forgiveness and rebuilding. Along with this, she tells the story of black women in today’s society. The entire album is accompanied with voiceovers from queen B talking about her own story, quoting scripture, and reciting lines from Malcolm X.  Of course, the larger question is “WTF!? Who would cheat on Beyonce?????” (cough, cough Jay-Z). Jay-Z, her husband of eight years, makes an appearance in her song “Sandcastles” and the references throughout the album seem to make it ~pretty~ clear that it’s him to which she is referring. The only hint that B gives to who the other woman is in her lyric “he better call Becky with the good hair”. Beyonce fans then scoured the internet for whom this Becky might be. The most popular option is fashion designer Rachel Roy who posted a photo on Instagram (which has since been deleted) shortly after the release of the album with the caption “Good hair don’t care, but we will take good lighting, for selfies, or self truths, always. Live in the light #nodramaqueens”. No comment.

Regardless, B felt some things, wrote some songs, made some kick ass videos and kicked off her Formation tour in Miami on Wednesday evening where she dedicated her song “Halo” to Jay-cheaterpants-Z. So moral of the story: when a guy/girl cheats on you just write a few songs, corn-row your hair back and remind him/her who you are.

4 to Know: My Current Favorite Face Products

4.28.2016

By Kelsey Baska

After a long day of school and work all I want to do is go home and take off my makeup, throw on a face mask, and watch New Girl on Netflix. Recently I’ve discovered some new badass products that make up what I like to call my “Dream Team”. The switch I made for these products is arguably the best decision of my life next to naming my cat after Lizzie McGuire (obviously). I’d love to share these favorites with you all so grab a glass of wine, sit back, and get ready to do some serious online shopping.

face products pacifica

1) Pacifica’s Sea Foam Complete Face Wash This stuff is an absolute dream. My sister is a huge fan of their products because she’s vegan and Pacifica doesn’t test their products on animals or use animal ingredients in their formulations. One day during a regular visit to Ulta she suggested that I try them out. I was totally down because I needed a new face wash anyway and OMG people I am never looking back. This product leaves my face feeling soft and clean. I also love the fact that Pacifica’s products are made with all natural ingredients and that some of their packaging is recyclable.

face products garner

2) Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof Makeup Remover & Cleanser I used to be obsessed with makeup remover wipes until I realized that our environment doesn’t appreciate them as much as I do. Recently, I discovered this product and I am LIVING for it. It is super gentle on my skin but powerful enough to break down all of my makeup without the need of any harsh scrubbing. Usually if I wear waterproof mascara it takes me forever to get it off but this product makes taking it off an absolute breeze. Plus, it’s only $6.99 so you have no excuses people.

face products nivea

 

3) Nivea for Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm Ok, I probably took an unexpected turn and I’m sure some of you are like “WTF Kelsey”. But hear me out; this is the BEST foundation primer ever. Like most of you, I don’t wear makeup every single day because sometimes I honestly don’t feel like putting that shit on. But I work at a restaurant and go to school full time and sometimes I have to leave class and go straight to work. On days like those I have absolutely no time to stop by my apartment to get ready so I need my makeup to last from morning until night. My favorite makeup artist of all time (NikkieTutorials on YouTube) did a review over this product and after watching it I immediately drove to Target to buy it. This product contains the ingredient glycerin which, in a nutshell, makes your makeup stick to your skin and last all damn day. All you have to do is substitute this guy for your normal moisturizer, apply your foundation, and you’re good to go, bebe.

face products mario

4) Any Mario Badescu product ever made Next to Pacifica, Mario Badescu has been my favorite skincare brand this year. I’ve always known about this line, but it wasn’t until recent recommendations (and an Ulta sale) that I decided to take the plunge. I’ve never been a believer in buying any facial treatments that are more than $10. But I’ve realized that your skin is important and you should probably take care of it. Sure, this line might not be as cheap as what you can find at your local drugstore, but that won’t matter when you use them and you’re skin instantly turns into that of an angel. In comparison to other high-end lines, these products are reasonably priced and worth the extra cash because they’re extremely effective. I mean, I have yet to find an acne cream as magical as the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. And don’t even get me started on their Facial Spray that’s made with aloe, herbs, and rose water (who doesn’t’ want their face to feel soothed AND smell like a bouquet?).

Photography by Kelsey Baska

Street Style: Geo Gem

4.26.2016

DSC_0068 DSC_0079

Kelsey Baska

Photography by Audrey Danser

Heard on the Hill

4.26.2016

HOTH 2

  • “So my laptop and phone screens both decided to die in the same week. They can’t even make it to graduation either.”
  • “I know this is a professional event but I think I’m going to pregame anyway.”
  • “My tinder boyfriend broke up with me because I wouldn’t send him nudies.”
  • “I’ve started taking personal days every Tuesday.”
  • Professor: “Coffee does help on the exam. Go for the brand that makes you hallucinate.”
  • “You have to fail at least 1 final in order to fully appreciate summer.”
  • “I literally had my debit card declined when I was trying to buy chocolate milk.”
  • “You know how siblings steal each other’s shit? Well you’re like a sibling, so I’m ‘borrowing’ one of your jerseys.”
  • “How do you decide if you’re tipsy or drunk? Is it how much rice you can eat?”
  • “The only good thing about finals coming up is the puppies at Anschutz.”
  • “I can’t believe I got drunk enough last night to take my sticky boobs off in the bar.”
  • “She was trying to have sex with me on the Tonic dance floor, I swear.”
  • Girl 1: “Prince died today.”
    Girl 2: “Wait! No! I’m from Minnesota, this is big!”

Lolita in Lawrence

4.25.2016

By Madeline Umali

Lolita1

Michelle Dunn leads the sea of bell-shaped skirts, petticoats, bows, high socks, and Mary Janes down Massachusetts Street to the Japanese Friendship Garden. Just finishing up their late lunch at Lady Bird Diner, the women soak in the April sun as they stroll past the staring and pointing of bystanders. The sun shines into Dunn’s eyes. She pulls out her umbrella, pops it open, and continues her walk.

Finally arriving at the tea garden, the group winds gracefully through the path. They all find their own rock to stand on, and, without me even asking, posed for my camera. Realizing they wanted me to take their photo, I snapped away, feeling like a paparazzi for the oddest, most niche fashion week there’s ever been.

Each person standing before my camera lens identifies as a Lolita. Lolita, a term referring to a Japanese street fashion as well as the individuals who wear it, probably means nothing to the average KU student. But for the tiny community of twelve, it means everything. The fashion, starting in the 1970-80s in the Harajuku shopping district, shows similarities to the Victorian, Edwardian and French Rococo styles. With bell-shaped dresses and Mary Jane shoes, Lolita encompasses the conservative, innocent, yet cute aesthetic.

The group meeting in the garden is the newly formed Lawrence Lolita community, or comm. The comm, founded by Dunn, a senior from Galena, Kansas, meets up every month to hang out, dress up, and discuss what’s new the in Lolita world. The meetups, which in the past have included bowling, visiting museums, and of course, tea parties, give the Lolitas an excuse to show off their new outfit or hair accessory.  Because it isn’t an every day fashion, these meets provide the Lolitas with a time and place to dress in their favorite trend.

Lolita2

Lolita fashion also gives the women who identify as Lolitas a chance to get out of their shell. The comm provides the Lolitas with a space where they feel safe to dress the way they want. Dagne Hammond, a sophomore from Denver, Colorado, says she only feels safe dressing in Lolita when she’s around other Lolitas, and although she really enjoys wearing it, she doesn’t like being looked at differently. “I’m already a self-conscious person, and then dressing that way…the hardest part about it is getting from inside my dorm to the car,” she says.

This is how the comm can really help its members. Although other Lolitas note that it is truly just a fashion for them, Hammond is in it more for the community.

“At the beginning of freshman year, I wanted to get involved somehow and meet other people, so I looked on Facebook to find groups I could join,” Hammond says. Since joining the Kansas City comm, and now the newly formed Lawrence comm, Hammond’s idea of Lolita has shifted from just clothes to a lifestyle. “Just by looking online, continually doing research and using it as an excuse to do more DIY projects, it’s become my pastime.”

However, for some members, including Dunn, Lolita is purely fashion. “It helps you find people who share your interests, but it’s kind of superficial. I don’t mean that in a bad way. But you can’t tell anything about someone by how they dress,” Dunn says. “There is more a culture around just the knowledge of Lolita and the lingo we’ve developed.”

That culture  found home at rock concerts in Japan with the performers and audience members wearing extravagant outfits that resembled the now-known Lolita style. Street photographer Shoichi Aoki popularized the look in his magazines, STREET and FRUiTS. This is when Lolita designers emerged, with brands like Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Manifesteange Metamorphose Temps de Fille, Angelic Pretty, Innocent World, and Mary Magdelene, all of which are still popular. The style continued to be a part of the Japanese music culture through features on album covers and music magazines.

Lolita made its way to the United States thanks to the Internet. Lolita blogs, websites, and online fashion magazines finally gained American’s attention in the early 2000’s. Now, every major city has its own comm of Lolitas, with most connecting through Facebook and Tumblr. There is even a “Find A Lolita” website, where Dunn met Hammond.

Most Americans who know the term “Lolita” know it from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel and film. The novel and film, which focused on a man’s infatuation with his girlfriend’s young daughter, has shed a perverted light on the Lolita fashion. Click on any Lolita blog, and you will immediately see a disclaimer about the fashion having no connection to the novel and film.

“Some people think it’s like a fetish thing. That definitely exists, I’m not going to say that there aren’t people who sexualize Lolita fashion, but that’s not a part of what Lolita is,” Dunn says. The film, which sexualizes a young girl’s innocence, is the complete opposite of the Lolita intention.

Several Lolitas, including Hammond and Erin Hrenchir, a Haskell University graduate and Raintree Elementary School teacher from Paola, Kansas, say they have had to change how they explain the fashion to outsiders.

“I really avoid calling it Lolita. If someone asks me what I’m wearing, I just say that it is a fashion inspired by Victorian wear, or Rococo, or Alice in Wonderland. I don’t even drop the name,” Hrenchir says.  

That fashion stands out in the sea of hoodies, jeans and Nikes. With ruffled dresses, high socks, and layers of petticoats that make the signature bell-shape, Lolita upholds the look of modesty, youthfulness and cuteness. In Japan, the cute aesthetic, or kawaii, is extremely popular in all fashions, not just Lolita. This is very important when achieving the Lolita façade.

Lolita4

Although easily identifiable, it is not easily achievable. The Lolitas’ outfits must meet several guidelines, developed over time by Lolita designers, including a headpiece, blouse, bell-shaped skirt, bloomers, high socks, and Mary Jane shoes. These guidelines set Lolita apart from similar Japanese styles.

The headpiece, usually a headband or bow, must be worn to complement the entire outfit. Several Lolitas, including Dunn, even have special wigs that go along with each outfit. The blouse is conservative, with little exposed skin. Shoulders are always covered. The bell-shaped skirt is the essential Lolita piece. This silhouette is seen in every skirt, dress, or jumper, and is attained through petticoats and bloomers. A Lolita’s legs must be covered, except for the knee, by high socks, stockings or tights.

Lolita3

After the Lolita has met all the guidelines, she has the freedom to make it her own. The most common looks—Sweet, Gothic, and Classic—can be seen in almost every Lolita comm across the world.

“I think I’m about 50/50 sweet and gothic. I really like the gothic aesthetic, but I always fall for sweet pieces,” Dunn says. The Sweet look features a more child-like aesthetic that is more over-the-top than other Lolita looks. Usually comprised of patterned pink, white, or powder blue fabrics, the dresses contrast against the Gothic dresses, which are usually darker and richer colors.

Although aesthetically different, the looks always come back to the theme of cuteness. Even the Gothic Lolita look has some elements of cuteness, through ruffles on the dress or color in her socks.

Although cute, the look is not cheap. The typical Lolita ensemble costs between $100-$150 when purchasing from a secondhand website. If a Lolita wants a dress directly from a Japanese brand, it will cost around $300.

“It’s something you have to plan and save up for,” Hammond says. “I always plan out all my coordination and see what ways I can change it, what things I already have that can match with it, what things I can alter before I start shopping. I try not to buy random things off the Internet.”

That is, unless it’s your dream dress. For a Lolita, purchasing a dream dress is like getting a new car on your sixteenth birthday.

Dunn’s dream dress was very rare, only showing up on the Lolita secondhand website, Lace Market, every few months. She saw the dress, which is a deep navy decorated with bright pink rockets, carousels, rainbows, and cupcakes and a large seersucker bow on the chest, a year before buying it for $350. Hammond bought her dream dress a month ago after searching for eight months. The dress is a dark brown pleated dress with gold and white accents, costing her $330.

Hrenchir says every Lolita dress is her dream dress. “If I’m going to shove out a lot of money for a dress, it should be a dress I absolutely want,” she says.

Although this fashion holds up the ideals of extravagant, girly fashion, it is not an every day fashion. Unless you are a lifestyle Lolita, these styles are not a part of your daily wear. Dunn, who arrived at the interview in jeans and a dark hoodie, seemed like a completely different person than when she was popping open her black ruffled umbrella on her way to the Japanese Friendship Garden.

It’s clear that these petticoats and headbands stand for more than just a cute look. It can provide a community for people that truly love Japanese culture and fashion, even from a 15 hour flight away from the heart of Japan. It gives members of the comm a safe space to wear what they want to wear without judgment. It’s a chance to leave their boring grey hoodies behind for a fantasy dream dress, even if it is just for one day out of the month.

Photography by Madeline Umali

Kansas City Fashion Week Winter & Fall 2016

4.22.2016

By Mary Ann Omoscharka

Photo by Eli Stack

Lucia Sarto, Photo by Eli Stack

On a cool Thursday afternoon, I wandered into a magnificent hall full of young, energized people with expressive makeup and rollers in their hair. They were running around and taking selfies. Something was about to happen and I was going to be part of it.

Yes, I volunteered at KCFW this year, and let me say it was just fabulous!

Who said that people in the midwest have no sense of style? In fact, one of the greatest fashion happenings took place during Spring break week in the grand hall of the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. The atmosphere was more than spectacular. It was my first visit at the venue and I could not keep my eyes off the breathtaking architecture of the ceiling. The organization staff and committee did an amazing job preparing three stylish nights from Thursday through Saturday and the runway shows were completely sold out. The crowd could enjoy 22 not only local designers, who presented their work for the upcoming winter and fall season.

Thursday was the evening of the Charity Runway Show. When I arrived to the venue, everything was already running smoothly. The models were having their hair and makeup done backstage. I and several other young women and men were dressed strictly in professional black, which I was excited about, since my wardrobe basically consists of 99.9% black items. We were assigned positions and started preparing the seatings, the gift bags and anything necessary accordingly. The doors opened at 6:00 pm and the guests began to arrive. Everyone looked phenomenal.

T. Michelle Designs, Photo by Sarah R. Shaffer

T. Michelle Designs, Photo by Sarah R. Shaffer

KCFW opened with seven designers that night. The first one, called The Little Line by Liz, is a local brand located in Olathe. The designer presented a beautiful artistic collection made from natural fibres. The show continued with T. Michelle Designs, which was an absolutely adorable and colourful retro collection for children. The next brand, More Than Just Figleaves, is Brooklyn-based and showcased a mixture of classic and contemporary designs in rich colours and fabrics. The fourth one, Ola Style, was a designer based in St. Louis, Missouri. She created stunning resort dresses in delicate floral patterns. Another brand from Missouri and my personal favourite of the night was Gypsy Blaque, who brought modern rebellion on the runway with some bold combinations. As next, KJ Clothing Design from Gladstone, Missouri was the only brand of the night displaying architecture inspired wedding gowns. Last but surely not least, The House of Khai, who came all the way from San Francisco and introduced an edgy street wear collection.

Gypsy Blaque, Photo by Ryan Swartzlander

Gypsy Blaque, Photo by Ryan Swartzlander

The Friday Evening Runway show brought another seven names on the catwalk. My Heirloom, a brand from Kansas City brought one of a kind romantic wedding dresses. The second Kansas City based designer that showed her collection was Present. by Rachel Anne Gottlieb. I absolutely adored her chiffon based, high fashion creations in combination with flamboyant jewellery, such as glorious headpieces. Her work spoke to me like no other on that event. As next, Kiana Godsey from Overland Park in Kansas, who designed a stunning gown collection, made from luxurious airy materials with a lot of movement. The tones that prevailed were black, gold and beige. The fourth one to show his products was Michael Drummond from St. Louis, who is a  Project Runway Season 8 alumnus and no newcomer when it comes to KCFW. Michael brought clean lines, lots of monochromes but print as well. Another name from St. Louis in Missouri, Lauren Bander, revealed a highly feminine collection of classic and crop top dresses with lace and colors like black, red or chocolate brown. The sixth name of the night, Paulie Gibson, is a St. Louis located menswear brand that came with a variety of casual and formal clothing items in black and blue shades. The night ended with the designs of the amazingly talented 15-year-old Madison LaRae Durant, whose collection is inspired by the 30’s era in one of the most fashionable cities in the world: Paris. I fell in love with her timeless couture gowns but also with her definitely wearable chic pieces. Sequins, leather and faux fur at it’s finest.

 

Rachel Anne Gottlieb, Photo by Laura Noll

Present by Rachel Anne Gottlieb, Photo by Laura Noll

Paulie Gibson, Photo by Mary Beth Russel

Paulie Gibson, Photo by Mary Beth Russel

The Saturday Night Runway was the closing night of Kansas City Fashion Week bringing six local KC designers. The expectations were high and the aura was cheerful. The first brand on the runway was Architexture, which brought diversity in structures, fabrics and colors for those with laid back, yet elegant preferences. The show continued with Tomboy Design Studio and their ethically produced futuristic pieces. As third that evening, Andrea Marie Long Designs, whose work took us back to the Roman Empire with her rich textures color intensities that deliver instant confidence. Next in order was Erin Paige, who showcased her fresh and distinctive jewellery collection that would be the cherry on top of every outfit. The fourth name to appear that evening was christianMICHAEL, a designer of modern, extravagant menswear bringing interesting patterns and  bright prints. At the grand finale, we saw Lucia Sarto by Nataliya Meyer. A mesmerizing collection of couture gowns made from dreamy and sparkly materials. And of course, lots of lace and attitude!

Architexture, Photo by Christiana Auer

Architexture, Photo by Christiana Auer

Someone probably very wise once said that “for some people, fashion week lasts all year.” If playing dress up is one of your favorite parts of the day, it might be your turn to volunteer as well. Applications open in August. Are you up for the challenge?

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Fashion Week

WTF Is Up?! – The Disney we remember, the death of a legend, and more

4.22.2016

By Darby VanHoutan

WTF-Darby

I may have fallen down an entire flight of stairs earlier this week, but today’s my birthday so there’s nowhere to go but up! While all this is happening, the entire world is still spinning…WTF is up!?

The ~MaGiCaL~ Rainbow Highlighter

I’m no stranger to trying the latest makeup trends. I (with no shame) held a spoon to my eye to get that perfect wing. I’ve tried all the contouring tricks. Now, it’s highlighter’s turn to steal the show. An Etsy shop called Bitter Lace Beauty posted a photo to Instagram earlier this week showing off their product—and it’s amazing. The highlighter is a rainbow. I know. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a rainbow of colors that you can use to achieve that you-can-see-my-cheekbones-from-space look, which let’s be honest, we all want. On their Instagram, Bitter Lace Beauty also shows what it looks like on different skins, separated by color, and used as eyeshadow. The highlighter, named Prism, is sold for $22 and is no doubt going to change the life of many.

A Real-Life Castaway

Remember when Tom Hanks was stuck on that island for like ever and he had that volleyball he took everywhere with him? Well, the cast of Animal Planet’s River Monsters found a real-life castaway while filming for their show earlier this week. The crew was traveling around Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria on their boat when they spotted a cooler. Of course, a cooler by a beach is by no means a rare thing, however this specific cluster of islands is notoriously uninhabited so the cooler was a strange sight. After spotting the cooler, crew members on the boat then saw a man running out a cave on the island waving his arms all Tom Hanks style. The crew gave the man water and sent for medical attention.

It turns out the castaway’s name is Tremine and he was simply a fisherman who was venturing off to find a better spot to catch oysters. However, on his way back to his boat he suffered from severe sunstroke and became disoriented. Tremine had been on the island for two days and according to the crew of the show, would not have survived more than one more with temperatures above 110 degrees. Now all we’re missing is Wilson.

Give Me All Of You-r Baby John Legend

If you tell people that you don’t feel #RelationshipGoals towards Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, you’re lying. From model Teigen starring in Legend’s music videos, to them posting constant Instagram photos of them vegging out in PJ’s with their dogs, there’s no denying their cuteness. The duo just got cuter with the addition of their delicious little baby, Luna Simone Stephens (Legend’s true last name), on April 14. The baby made its first Inst-appearance on the model’s Instagram on Tuesday when Teigen posed with sweet Luna, which also looking amazing only a week after having a baby with the caption “hi my lulu!” Luna’s first solo picture was debuted on Legend’s Instagram on Wednesday with absolutely no caption necessary. The model has since taken to Twitter with adorable tweets about her first week being a true baby momma. Will the adorable-ness of this star-studded family ever end?

Go Queen, It’s Ya Birthday

Usually on my birthday I go to a mexican restaurant, eat an embarrassing amount of queso and get a sombrero put on me while the entire staff sings to me. This is all fine with me, but what does a queen do on her birthday? Well, for that we can just look to Queen Elizabeth II who turned 90 on Thursday. As of last year, Elizabeth is the longest serving monarch in British history. I mean, the woman has been around for wars, The Beatles, One Direction, and so many other important things.

So what does she do to celebrate such a royal occasion? Well, first a walkabout around the estate (to us it would just be walking around and looking at things, but she’s a ~flipping~ queen so it’s a walkabout) and then off to light a relay. I’m sure other things happened like fancy queen cake, fancy queen hugs from cute little Prince George and so on. Oh, and to celebrate the occasion, CNN put together a collection of 49 photos that document Queen Elizabeth’s life, which is just as fabulous as you think it would be. Click ~here~ to view.

The Death of Prince

At the age of 57, superstar and legend Prince died this Thursday. Prince was found dead at his home in Minnesota by police, with causes still unknown. According to the Atlanta Journal, the singer had not been feeling well for some time. After canceling a concert in Atlanta and his plane making an emergency landing, the health of Prince has been in question lately. After the plane landing, the singer was rushed to the hospital with symptoms of a bad flu earlier this week. Over the course of his career, Prince has won seven Grammys, been nominated 30 times, and topped the charts five different time.

A 3-Day Disney Marathon

This is it. This is what we’ve all been waiting and practicing for. This is not a drill. Disney Channel is set to release their 100th original movie, Adventures in Babysitting, this summer. Of course, this is just news and Disney has had some subpar movie moments that we’ve all missed while growing up..but WAIT. To celebrate their 100th movie, Disney has scheduled a 4-day marathon of their 51 best original movies (pause here to throw up from excitement). The marathon will begin on Friday, May 27 with…wait for it…Kim Possible: So The Drama. The marathon will continue through Monday, May 31 and include movies such as: Stuck in the Suburbs, Cadet Kelly, Cheetah Girls, Camp Rock, Jump In, and so, so, so many more. I know we all have internships, jobs, watermelon to eat, and more to do over the summer, but this is an important weekend that must be reserved. Click ~here~ to see the full lineup.

Street Style: Beach Vibes

4.19.2016

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Hunter Woodhart

Photography by Ikeadi Ndukwu

Heard on the Hill

4.19.2016

HOTH 2

Another week, another collection of hilarious quotes heard around campus. College kids say the darnedest things…

  • “I feel like the goddamn omelettes from Mrs. E’s.”
  • Girl: “Having a beach body is overrated.. It’s 2016.”
  • “I wouldn’t be worried about finals if I actually went to class.”
  • “I’ve had to start selling the clothes off my back to pay for drinks.”
  • “Tinder is the McDonald’s for sex.”
  • “I’m getting old, man. At some point sex jokes stopped being funny and dad jokes became hilarious.”
  • “I walk around with the earphones on because people are bullshit.”
  • “We only have five weeks left of college, and I plan to be intoxicated every second of it.”
  • Girl: “I can’t go back to Texas for grad school. The University of Texas is not my style. Orange is just not in my color wheel.”
  • Girl 1: “When the hell is Graduation this year, anyway?”
    Girl 2: “You’re the one graduating…”
  • “I wouldn’t call you the ‘apartment mom.’ You’re more of the ‘apartment drunk aunt.’”

WTF Is Up?1 – Olsen’s first selfie, America’s first Syrian refugee, and more!

4.15.2016

By Darby VanHoutan

WTF-Darby

Coach-hella can’t afford to go

YAY! It’s that time! A super exciting time! It’s the time to browse over clothes I can’t afford to definitely not wear to Coachella, which I also can’t afford. However, there are lots of people who can and with the festival beginning today and continuing through April 24, it’s time to look past the bands at what really matters: the clothes. I mean, of course there’s A$AP Rocky, The Chainsmokers, Sia, Girlpool, Zedd……etc., but what about the ~amazing~ crop top that Kendall Jenner will most likely be sporting? Places like Urban Outfitters, Free People, and others have lines that coordinate perfectly with the boho Coachella style, and although i won’t be in attendance at the two-weekend festival, I will be there via Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, and isn’t that ~BaSiCaLlY~ the same?!

Famous Twins Took Their First Selfie

A question that has been on my mind this week: If there’s two people in a “selfie” then it’s not a selfie right? What about when the two people are identical, famous twins? The reason I’ve been stressing over this is due to the “first public selfie” ever posted by fashionistas (and prior ~adorable~ little actresses-that-broke-our-heart-by-leaving-Full-House) Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen on Wednesday. The “twin-sie” was posted on Wednesday on Sephora’s Instagram. There are millions of selfies taken all over the world every day, but this one is important due to the Olsen’s constant state of hiding from the public eye. The stars dubbed the picture their “First public selfie ever #SephoraTakeover”. Okay, so they may be sporting some sunglasses to remain somewhat secretive, but small steps, small steps!

U.S. first Syrian refugee lands in Kansas City

The United States of America welcomed its first Syrian refugees! IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME. President Obama started the plan to welcome Syrian refugees early in 2016 with a goal of at least 10,000 being relocated by September. There’s not a specific reason why it happened, but the Department of Health and Human Services chose Kansas City, Missouri as the first relocation spot, and Kansas City welcomed the refugee, Ahmed Al-Abboud, and his family with open arms. During his first week in America, Al-Abboud expresses hopes to better his English and ensure an education for his children.

MTV Movie Awards

On Saturday April 9, a bunch of famous, talented, gorgeous people gathered in Burbank, California to celebrate the 2016 MTV Movie Awards, and other muggles around the world watched it on TV. As you probably know, lots of things happened. There were good and bad and…wtf moments. My personal favorite was The Lonely Island’s tribute to Will Smith (aka The Fresh Prince). Oh, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson also bad-assed the ~frick~ out of their entrance all Mad Max: Fury Road style. Amy Poehler accepted her award for Best Virtual Performance (as Joy in Inside Out) in a Mickey Mouse shirt, which literally no one else could do, but she did and it was amazing. Zac Efron did some stuff but all I think when Zac Efron does anything is 😍. Ugh, I wish MTV put on award shows weekly instead of annually, but I guess I’ll wait until next year for more.

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