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VOL. 113 No. 5

Death to myths: The truth behind the Rudra Center’s historic pagoda By Claire Lin @claire_grace_ Some locals might have seen the large pagoda sitting serenely on Locust Street in Denton. The top of its layered eaves can be seen peeking into the sky surrounded by trees. But, many have little knowledge about it, and even the people who dwell there constantly make new discoveries. “To this day, there are so many things on the land that I don’t know about,” neuro-linguistic programming trainer Aaron Bowley, 28, said. “I ask Silver [the caregiver at the Ashram], ‘Has that statue always been there?’ And he says it’s always been there.” This pagoda has a name — the Rudra Center for Enlightened Awareness. Having been open for more than 40 years, the center has quite a history. While also having undergone its more-than-fair share of gossip and rumors, its spirituality has only lent itself as heat to the embers of strange myths and scary local folklore. So, what is the Rudra Center for Enlightened Awareness?

The Rudra Center has a shrine dedicated to Swami “Rudi” Rudrananda, its founder who died in 1973. Photos by Josh Jamison

A brief and accurate history Founded in 1971, the Rudra Center has also been known as the Kundalini Yoga Ashram, Inc., purposed as an organization that provides impactful spiritual experiences for individuals seeking to find a higher meaning and purpose. It is and has


Tai chi instructor Ross DeOtte also teaches qigong at the pagoda. The yoga space on the property is also used for dance and other martial arts.

Top: Ross DeOtte, Jenny Baker and Zack Mitchell (left to right) shed light on some of the myths surrounding the pagoda. Left: The pagoda near Greenhouse Restaurant on Locust Street is home to a yoga institute and other elements of Eastern Asian culture. For years, myths of various sorts have surrounded this establishment and its practice.

SGA plans to give free feminine products to students across UNT

27-year-old Denton bar closes for renovations By Devin Rardin @DevinRardin The 27-year-old bar and grill, Riprocks — located on Hickory Street and adjacent to Fry street — closed July 1. Although there is no official date for its reopening, the bar will be undergoing renovations for a minimum of three months. While there is currently no cost estimate, Cody Farmer, manager of Riprocks and Cool Beans, confirmed the bar will have a ground-up renovation. The renovations include the addition of a gender-neutral bathroom, an ADA accessible wheelchair ramp, electrical and plumbing work and expansion of the bar and patio. Farmer said Riprocks will be like a brand new, clean stocked bar. “It’s a super old building, so it

needs some love,” Farmer said. The bar, which opened in 1991, has seen Denton develop, so it’s time for it to be modernized as well, Farmer said. Riprocks is surrounded by bars like Lucky Lou’s, Caskey’s and Cool Beans. “We have a really strong relationship with Rip Rocks as well as Cool Beans, so we are all kind of a family on this side of the street,” Lucky Lou’s manager Jazz Binning said. Farmer said Riprocks is a strong part of the UNT community as UNT faculty, staff, alumni and students frequent the bar. Riprocks, Lucky Lou’s and Cool Beans have also been presidential council supporters of UNT’s athletic program for 20 years. Riprocks sponsors a shuttle service on football game days to transport fans to Apogee

North Texas Daily @ntdaily @ntdaily

By Rebecca Najera @RebeccaNajera42

Riprocks bar and grill will be closed for the next three months for renovations. Among those include adding a gender neutral bathroom, wheelchair ramps and expanding the patio. Josh Jamison Stadium. Most of the Riprocks staff are current and former UNT students as well.


“This bar is [almost] just as much a part of UNT as the



Torchy’s Tacos opens new location in Denton off Highway 380 pg 2 The popular Austin-based taco chain will be opening on July 17 and will have an opening party the day before that will feature free tacos and drinks.

On June 12, the Student Government Association conducted a poll on Twitter asking UNT students what applicators were preferred when it came to tampons. The poll Gabrielle Tilley represents the first step in The Right to Menstrual Hygiene Products initiative that is currently in the works for SGA. “The Student Government Association believes that by providing free feminine hygiene products, we are ensuring equal opportunity and inclusivity

for members of our UNT community,” SGA governmental affairs director Gabrielle Tilley said. “I am currently researching the most effective, most efficient and most environmentally sustainable products to bring to campus” Hearing about this initiative caught visual art studies senior Kari Mitchell’s attention. In one of the women’s restrooms in the art building, students had already started their own system. “Basically, this girl did a performance piece that involved putting a box in the bathroom to contribute pads and tampons to,” Mitchell said. “I think it started out as a donation thing, like they were going to take it somewhere,




Willis Library’s “Dawn to Dusk” art exhibition opened this week pg 4 The annual summer art exhibition on the fourth floor of the library showcases library staff ’s artistic talents.

Denton’s unique music sound is a reflection of its offbeat culture pg 7 Why two local Denton bands perfectly epitomize the city’s unique blend of music and culture.

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North Texas Daily Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief Alec Spicer @spicer_alec News Editor Parker Ward @parkerdfw Arts & Life Editor Kaitlin Pennell @k_itlinn Opinion Editor Rachel Herzer @coolrachdoritos Visuals Editor Kelsey Shoemaker @kelesmis

Production Team Design Editor Kelly Fox @kellythefox1 Designer/Copy Editor Kiera Geils @KieraGeils Designer/Copy Editor Parisa Nasiripour @risanasiri Senior Staff Illustrator Austin Banzon @Austinbanzon99

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Faculty Adviser Randy Loftis 940-565-3495

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Trending on Twitter England vs Croatia

England played Croatia Wednesday in the semifinal of the 2018 World Cup. Croatia won 2-1 in extra time despite England scoring in the first five minutes of the game.

Kulture Rappers Cardi B and Offset announced Wednesday that they welcomed their first child, Kulture Kiari Cephus on July 10. The new parents married last September during a quiet ceremony.

All American Pet Photo Day

People took to twitter to share photos of their favorite pets. The internet was flooded with pictures of dogs, cats and even some pigs dressed up in patriotic clothing.



City launches new service app ‘Engage Denton’ allows residents to submit service requests directly to the city By Cory Allen @AlmightyCBoogie The city of Denton has launched a three-month pilot program for the mobile application, Engage Denton, giving residents a new way to requests city services. This provides residents an easier way to identify civic issues, report for resolutions and interact with the city. This addition helps the city by providing routing of requests to the correct departments in the background of the system. For example, if a request is made for a street sign repair in the app, then it is automatically routed to the traffic operations department. Additionally, the GPS and picture features allow citizens to describe the location and type of issue more thoroughly. “This service request app is a follow up to an initiative that was started in 2016 with the update to the city’s website,” Denton city management analyst Charles Rosendahl said. “At that point, a form was added to allow users to submit requests through the website, but this was only an interim solution until an app could be purchased.” After the city council approved a supplemental funding request for the application in this year’s budget, they began the procurement and implementation process in November. Engage Denton was released to the public last June. The benefit of this program for residents is the added convince of being able to submit requests through their smartphones and providing a direct line of communication with the city contact for that request. Residents can submit comments for their requests, check the status of a submitted request and receive periodic updates from staff regarding their issue. The app also provides the option for residents to submit requests anonymously. “I can report anything,” junior

art student Kali Griffin said. “I certainly recommend this download. Submitting a request helps you and other pedestrians that may have the same issue.” The length it takes the city to fix a service request is the type of data that will be gathered through the pilot process using the reporting capabilities of the software. The time to fix a service request is dependent on the type of request and can vary greatly depending on the process that is required. Rosendahl explained the process, saying a submission for a code violation requires notifications, time for a homeowner to correct the violation and re-inspection, so those type of requests could take longer to complete. “I am happy to know that I could finally submit requests about these roads in just five seconds and trust that the city will get it handled,” said Simon Byles, Denton resident and warehouse worker.

The city of Denton launched an app where residents can report service requests to the city. Photos by Dimaggio Escobedo “We will be sticking with the threemonth plan for the pilot, but plan to expand the program at that point to add more request types and possibly add more features that would be

beneficial for residents,” Rosendahl said. The Engage Denton app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

New Torchy’s location coming to Denton By Rebecca Najera @RebeccaNajera42 Torchy’s Tacos is opening a new location in Denton on July 17, adding to the already growing number of businesses on University Drive. With there being no foreseeable end to the growth in Denton — and the new Torchy’s opening on top of that — many feel that even more traffic will be brought to the area. “I think [University] is definitely a better choice than [Loop 288 for a location],” Denton resident Ruby Pumphrey said. “I don’t think [Loop 288] gets as much business as [University].” After hearing from Denton residents, Torchy’s knew that they had to open a location here, Torchy’s Tacos Marketing Director Stacey Floberg said. “Denton is an awesome city that is rich in community involvement and forward thinking – two things that make Denton a great home for Torchy’s,” Floberg said. “After we received numerous requests from members of the Denton community to bring a Torchy’s Tacos to the town, we knew we would be welcome with open arms.” Pumphrey used to work at the Sam’s Club in the Rayzor Ranch area and has watched the area evolve over the years. She feels that Torchy’s will be the next game changer for the area. “I know WinCo was a big changer for Rayzor Ranch, at least for the Sam’s Club,” Pumphrey said. “Everyone was [worried] because WinCo is basically a Sam’s with no membership.” However, despite the new competition in town, Pumphrey feels that the surrounding food stores will not really be affected. The Torchy’s Tacos team toured the area and fell in love with the location. “It was clear that Denton was the perfect match for the culture that Torchy’s Tacos embodies,” Floberg said. “We’re thankful for our success and the

Torchy’s Tacos new Denton location draws attention before its doors open next week. Josh Jamison opportunity it gives us to give back. That’s why we do our best to donate our tacos, time and treasure to worthy causes in the communities we serve, which now includes Denton.” Aster Mulugeta, a family and consumer science junior, has been counting down the days until the store’s opening. “It’s honestly one of my favorite places to eat, so I’m excited that there will be one here in town now,” Mulugeta said. “Everyone loves tacos, and on top of

being close to two universities, you know that place is going to constantly be packed with students. I think it’ll be worth the long line, though.” Mulugeta is from Garland, Texas, about an hour drive away from Denton. When she’s back home with her family, the nearest Torchy’s location is only a 15-minute drive away. “Now that there’s going to be one in town, I won’t have to wait until I visit my family to grab Torchy’s,” Mulugeta said. “It’ll be just a trip down the road.”

NEWS AROUND THE US Thai boy’s soccer team rescued from cave A Thai Navy Seal team rescued all 12 members of a boy’s soccer team and their coach from a Thailand cave on Tuesday, according to BBC News. Everyone is reported to be in good health after the incident. The boys and coach had been trapped in the cave since June 23. They had to escape rising waters, which caused them to go 2.5 miles into the cave network where they were found on July 2 by British divers.

LeSean McCoy denies any involvement in assault

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy has been accused of assault by his estranged girlfriend Delicia Cordon. Cordon’s attorney alleged that a man broke into McCoy’s home where she was sleeping at 3 a.m. Tuesday and asked for the expensive jewelry that McCoy had given her as a gift. After she refused, the alleged assailant then struck Cordon several times with a gun. McCoy has denied all involvement in the incident.

By Devin Rardin

Trump pardons Oregon ranchers President Donald Trump pardoned Dwight and Steven Hammond who were convicted of arson in 2012 after setting a fire on their property that got out of hand while allegedly trying to cover up evidence of poaching, according to the Associated Press. The brothers were both originally supposed to spend under two years old in prison, however, their jail sentences were set to a five-year minimum because they burned federal lands.

Trump appoints Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

Government fails to meet deadline to reunite families

President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh Monday to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, according to the New York Times. Kavanaugh is a federal appeals judge, former president George W. Bush aide and has a conservative history. Trump said Kavanaugh is, “one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time.” Kavanaugh was a clerk for Kennedy.

Many families have been reunited due to a federal judge who set two deadlines to have children who were separated from their parents at the border reunited with them. Government attorneys said they could not meet the deadline for 20 children because their parents have not been tracked down, according to the Associated Press. This first deadline is for children under 5 years old. The next deadline on July 26 is for older children.


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DCTA offers free train rides for students By Devin Rardin @DevinRardin The Denton County Transportation Authority will offer local college students free A-train commuter rail rides between the Trinity Mills Station in Carrollton and the Downtown Denton Transit Center starting Aug. 27. DCTA’s A-train starts at the Downtown Denton Transit Center and ends at the DART Trinity Mills Station where it connects with the DART green line. The A-train stops in Denton, Highland Village, Lewisville and Carrollton. Faculty, staff and students at UNT, North Central Texas College and Texas Woman’s University can participate in the free promotion, which ends on Jan. 14, 2019, by presenting their university identification. Adrienne Hamilton, DCTA communications manager, said the promotion helps their efforts to increase ridership. Back in April, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported DCTA’s A-train ridership has dropped every year since 2014. “Increasing ridership is one of DCTA’s main priorities, and we have launched key rider promotions in the past year to encourage people to ride our system and remove any potential barriers to people riding,” Hamilton said. Another recent effort to increase ridership is the A-train’s free fare zones, which allows riders to use the train between the Downtown Denton Transit center and MedPark station as well as between the Hebron and Trinity Mills stations for free. Trista Moxley, UNT transportation senior communications specialist, said the promotion will help students explore areas around Denton and Dallas and provide an easy way to commute from areas along DCTA and DART routes. Vocal performance doctorate student Yixuan Han is a fan of the promotions as long as it is free. “It’s very good for students if it’s for free,” Han said. “It’s very convenient and a good system if they never charge students. We already have so many charges for studying.” UNT and DCTA have been partners since 2005, and DCTA provides buses

Denton County Transportation Authority will be providing free rides on the A-train starting Aug. 27 for UNT, TWU and NCTC students and staff with university identification. The A-train stops in Denton, Highland Village, Lewisville and Carrollton where it connects with the DART. File for the campus shuttles system. In May, the UNT Board of Regents approved a 10-year agreement with them. “We work closely on a day-to-day basis and meet quite often to further discuss our growing partnership,” Moxley said. Hamilton said the university A-train promotion is a thank you to their partners. “Our university partners are a significant component to our business, and this promotion provides an opportunity for DCTA to give back to some of our valued partners,” Hamilton said. 

Student makes cards to help communication By Devin Rardin @DevinRardin After a challenging interaction with police, a UNT student who has autism created a solution for communication between police and those with special needs. Christianna Walker, a rehabilitation studies junior, made cards to indicate an individual’s special needs that are supposed to be given to first responders in case someone cannot properly explain their condition. The words “I am providing this card to help ensure your contact with me is as smooth as possible” are printed on the card above a blank area where individuals can write their special need or needs. These needs can range form things like autism or Tourette syndrome. The back of the card provides room for further explanation and a space for an emergency contact. “If even one person benefits from this card, then it is time very well spent,” Walker said. In spring 2017, Walker, an Oklahoma native, was a victim of an off-campus crime. When police responded, Walker was overwhelmed and grew silent. After a third party revealed Walker has autism, her interaction with police grew smoother. The experience caused Walker to brainstorm solutions for what she says is a “huge ordeal.” “It seems like every other day, month or so, we read a story somewhere about misunderstandings to do with those who have an autism spectrum disorder,” Walker said. She continued to say that autism can make individuals seem uncooperative with police or unaware of their surroundings. UNT Police Sgt. Kevin Crawford told CBS 11 that sometimes people with disabilities can mirror those under the influence. Vivianna Loza, an international business and economics junior, said some people may be too shy

New initiative would provide period products SGA CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

Rehabilitation studies junior Christianna Walker has made it possible for better communication between individuals with autism and the Denton Police Department through cards. Walker and UNT Police Sgt. Kevin Crawford launched the cards last October. Kara Dry to vocalize their special needs. “I think it is a great idea because people can’t always express your special needs, so I think it is a good way to be concise and maybe be really forward about it,” Loza said. Thomas Urbina, who is in the graduate program for behavior analysis, said the cards can help police officers change their behavior based on the situation. “It’s a pretty good idea because people are not usually too familiar with autism and what those symptoms look like,” Urbina said. “That little card is an indicator or should be a precedent for the police officer to behave differently when they confront the individual.” In June 2017, Walker set down with Crawford to discuss the cards, and they launched in October

2017. “[The process of creating the cards] was fun, exciting and stressful all at the same,” Walker said. “The meetings with multiple moving parts got stressful at times, but the overall process was fun and exciting, and I learned a lot from all the professionals who were involved. It was definitely a lot more detailed than I thought it was going to be.” Walker said her card was useful in multiple situations including the emergency room and communicating with sales associates. Individuals can request a card by emailing Crawford who helped Walker develop them. “I am so happy and honored that an idea I had became a reality,” Walker said. “I am humbled by the fact that a bad interaction turned into something positive.”

Riprocks closes for at least 3 months for renovations RIPROCKS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

Riprocks bar and grill began renovations on July 2. Josh Jamison

student union,” Farmer said. The week before the closure, the bar cleared their inventory by selling everything for $3. While they were open, Riprocks also served hamburgers, sandwiches, wings and tacos among other items. They sold a wide variety of alcohol and provided live music from time to time as well. Binning thinks renovations are good for a business and said Lucky Lou’s has undergone renovations as well, referring to the bathrooms in the bar. “There is a certain time in a business when you have to put money back into it, and [Riprocks is] going for it,” Binning said. “It’s good news.”

but I think we all noticed that there weren’t any machines to get that kind of stuff in any of the bathrooms.” The donation box has helped Mitchell in the past when her period unexpectedly arrived while she was in class. Eventually, she started contributing to the box herself. “There were mostly tampons in the box, so a friend of mine needed a pad because she hates tampons, but there weren’t any available for her,” Mitchell said. Mitchell feels that what started as an art piece has become a way to connect women on campus. “I think it highlighted an issue that I didn’t exactly notice or realize was a problem, and then in its own unique way, created a solution to that problem,” Mitchell said. “I thought it was cool how it evolved from a statement piece to a community one. So many women did what I did, so it feels like we’re all there helping each other.” Though the poll’s focus was on tampons and the preferred applicators, special education junior Veronica Garcia believes that pads should also be available across campus. “Not everyone uses tampons, so I know it could be an uncomfortable situation for women needing products,” Garcia said. Like with most women, Garcia has started her period while at school. “I’ve had to go home before,” Garcia said. “It’s very embarrassing. Luckily, I live close to the school, so I’ve been able to go home and change in between classes.” Garcia also knows that not all women are as lucky as she is to live so close to campus. “If anything, I think a small part of our tuition should go towards making sure we have products on campus,” Garcia said. “We pay athletic fees and all that, so I don’t think it should be a problem for some of that money to go to making sure that we don’t have to miss classes we pay thousands for because nature decided to kick in. Maybe we could swipe our ID card or something at a dispensing station, so we know people aren’t taking advantage of the system.” While there isn’t a specific date set as to when this plan could come to action, the details are being reviewed among UNT officials and a final proposal is planned to be announced in the fall.

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‘Dusk to Dawn’: Willis Library hosts staff talent


Visitors browse cases of work during the “Dusk to Dawn” art exhibit reception on Monday. Library employees express their creativity with poems, paintings, drawings and much more. Josh Jamison

By Shane Monaco @ShaneMonaco1 On the fourth floor of Willis Library opposite the elevator banks and past rows of books lies a moderately sized room with a few small windows. This time three years ago, this space would have lain dormant. However, this has not been the case for the past two years — within this room now hangs a variety of art pieces, from paintings on the walls to sculptures in glass cases, and even a collection of short stories and a station to listen to composed musical pieces. This space tranforms during the summer into the annual “Dusk to Dawn” art exhibition, which features art from those who work at UNT’s libraries. The exhibit’s reception on Monday was attended by the artists and their friends and family. There were 40 pieces of art submitted by 27 artists on display. The only requirement for the art was that they had to fall into one of 10 categories, and each artist could only submit two artworks. While this is only the second year that the Willis Library has hosted this event, it already has grown significantly over its first year which had an attendance of only 18 participants and 27 pieces. “It is nice to kind of reveal those parts of yourself that you don’t always get to share,” said Joshua Sylve, one of the organizers of the event and the library’s marketing director. “This is a good opportunity to show people that we are mixed bags and that people have various skills. Even though they might be an accountant or a counselor, they can also put together a beautiful illustration or painting.” The event was organized by members of the library after a similar exhibit, “On My Own Time,” which included staff members of the entire university, was discontinued by the university. After the exhibit was stopped, members of the library staff decided to revive the idea after it was revealed staff members were heavy contributors to the exhibit. The decision to hold the event during the summer was made during the planning process and was chosen because the library already had a gallery space that remains vacant during the summer. While the Willis Library does hold larger exhibits on its fourth floor gallery during the school year, no exhibits were held during the summer due to a lower visitor turnout. The participants this year come from every division of the library — regardless of whether they are a teacher, librarian or student assistant. Even UNT’s Dean of Libraries Diane Bruxvoort decided that she too wanted to join the show and submit two pieces. Dianne Jansing, the library’s communications specialist for the digital libraries division, was one of the original organizers of the event as well as one of the more experienced members of the staff who

submitted art for the show. Jansing submitted two pieces to the show, one of three water colored flowers and another that was a series of black and white ink drawings. She also admits that while she has been painting in water colors for years, she was never professionally taught. She instead taught herself. “The second piece that I did was with watercolors, which is my first love,” Jansing said. “I am a self-taught water colorist. It is just a passion, I think about it all the time.” While not as experienced in art as Jansing, Dylan Hensley also submitted two pieces to the exhibit — except not in painting but rather in one of the show’s new categories: music. Hensley, a media arts senior who has been making music for the past five years, works at the library’s front desk. While balancing his duties as a student and front desk library employee, Hensley is also attempting to produce his very own album with songs under his stage name Saint Naive. It was his wish to have these songs relate to those at UNT, which led him to choosing the songs that he used for the show. “We kind of knew that we all had our own kind of hobbies and things that we do, but we don’t really share it with each other,” Hensley said. While the show provides some increased traffic during the summer, Jansing and Hensley both said it also provides a means for library staff to get to know their coworkers better. “I did see a lot of familiar faces that I work with at the library, but I might not know them,” Hensley said. “We all work at the same place but with different jobs and different positions. Now I feel like we were all there celebrating each other and our work, and we have a common interest in what we use to express ourselves with.”

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The art exhibition also features music pieces written by library employees. Musician Dylan Hensley rocks out to his song “Bonnie Brae,” which he wrote under the stage name Saint Naive. Josh Jamison While there are no specific plans for next year’s annual show, Jansing said that the overall goal of the show going forward is to ensure that the rest of the library staff feels comfortable submitting pieces and to open up the show to allow more forms of artistic expression. The “Dusk to Dawn” exhibit will stay open from now until Aug. 3 in the Sarah T. Hughes Reading Room on the fourth floor of Willis Library during the Reading Room’s hours.

El Taco Taxi food truck is ready for business By Kenya Menjivar @kenya_menjivar The food truck trend has taken over the Dallas Fort-Worth area, and Denton is no exception. A fairly new food truck called El Taco Taxi has joined the Denton food truck troupe, and it is owned and operated under a one-man show led by David Guzman. Guzman’s mother, Susana Delgado, purchased the taco truck in 2016. Together they repaired the truck, taking it from a plumbers truck and transforming it into the perfect taco-serving environment. El Taco Taxi later opened its windows in 2017. “My mom does help me a lot [the] majority of the time, but if you actually wanna put a name on it, it’s me,” Guzman said. Guzman feels that working by himself has really tested his ability to work in the food industry. Before he started working the truck full time, Guzman worked at the TGI Friday’s corporate headquarters in Dallas. But before he was able to work for a restaurant behind a desk, Guzman got his start in the food industry as a dishwasher. “It makes you realize what real, true work is,” Guzman said. Because Guzman is from Alvord, Texas — a small town northwest of Denton — he primarily bases his business here in Denton near Mulberry Cantina off the Square, though he sometimes visits other cities in the Dallas Fort-Worth metroplex. El Taco Taxi is still fairly new, and Guzman has had to work to promote his name around town. To help with this, Guzman entered a salsa contest this year and placed second in flavor. Many discovered his truck through the competition. Before Guzman and Delgado started El Taco Taxi, Delgado used to sell homemade food and Gatorade in Alvord when Guzman was younger. “She would load up three big coolers full of tacos as a second form of income,” Guzman said. The ingredients for the menu came mostly from Delgado. Because she has experience making Mexican food, she knew what she wanted to make. Guzman has crafted the recipe for the steak, which he keeps secret. Tevin Beckwith, a regular customer of El Taco Taxi, said he enjoys the food and the friendly service from Guzman. Beckwith attends Mulberry Cantina’s Salsa with Jo nights where he discovered the food truck. “It’s always there, and it’s reliable,” Beckwith said. “They’re not exactly partnered with Salsa with Jo, but we have a good connection with them, so [El Taco Taxi] show up to a lot of our events.” Beckwith said his favorite item on the menu is the steak tacos on flour tortillas. Guzman’s favorite part about working the food truck is the fact that he is able to meet and converse with different people. “There’s a lot of cool people you can meet with this — a lot of back stories,” Guzman said. “Some are always like, ‘Man I’ve always wanted to open a food truck.’” Lakyn Garza, a committed customer and instructor at Salsa with Jo, has been a frequent customer with El Taco Taxi. “It’s Denton’s best-kept secret,” Garza said. “You really don’t know about it until you come across it.” Guzman’s dream for his taco truck is to build up his business so he can ultimately go back to Alvord. Guzman also said he wants to give back to his community by giving them tasty food and employment to those who need it. “I want to give back everything I’ve learned,” Guzman said. “Not just so they can experience good food, but also to help the town. If I can give a few of those people a job, that makes me feel better about myself.”


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The Casual Cat Cafe pairs coffee, cats for a unique, local spin on a Japanese-style staple By Emily Olkkola @EmilyOlkkola The Casual Cat Cafe in Richland Hills provides the perfect atmosphere for coffee drinkers and cat lovers — with up to 15 adoptable cats roaming around the café, visitors are accompanied by furry friends as they sip a drink. All cats are up for adoption, and 100 percent of the adoption fees go toward the rescue or adoption agency responsible for the cat. Food and “meowchandise” are also available for purchase. For mother and teacher Criss Forshay and her 7-year-old son RJ, this was their first time in The Casual Cat Cafe. “We like it,” Criss said. “I saw pictures online, and I decided to see it was about. There’s plenty of room to sit and do work – not that cats usually help out with that.” Criss and RJ have five cats at home already and want to get more cats, but Criss’ husband doesn’t want any more feline friends. “It’s unlikely that we’ll take one home — [but] we want to support the organization,” Criss said. “I would love to take them home. It’s a wonderful way to spend summer days because there’s lots of room to play and the cats are really friendly.” RJ came up with a solution to his father’s “no more cats” rule. “[We] can just get one and maybe hide it somewhere,” RJ said. Students, seniors, military active members and veterans receive a discount, and The Casual Cat Cafe offers yoga and craft classes with the cats. Cindy Pennington is the owner and “catprenur” of The Casual Cat Cafe. When she is not working as a CPA-IT auditor, she is busy running her business and fostering the cats. Pennington got her start in fostering after graduating college – but it wasn’t with cats. She was looking to foster a dog but was having a hard time finding one to start with. One rescue organization told her they needed a cat to be fostered, and the rest is history. Pennington and her husband have been fostering cats together for the past 10 years. But it was two years ago when Pennington first came across the concept of a cat café. “I just thought that sounded like a really neat idea,” Pennington said. Initial challenges Pennington tried to open The Casual Cat Cafe on several different occasions, but each time fell through because of issues with landlords, health inspectors and city ordinances. She first tried in Hurst, Texas, and after finally getting city approval for her cat café, Pennington found the perfect property at the right location. She was ready to seal the deal with the landlord,

but as signing day arrived, the landlord had a change of heart. “When I was finally ready to sign the lease, the landlord was like, ‘You know what? This sounds weird. I’m not really comfortable with it, and I’m not going to lease it to you,’” Pennington said. After copious searching, Pennington found a new property in Richland Hills – the same one visitors can come to today. But because she moved from Hurst to Richland Hills, there was a different inspector for the health department and a different set of city ordinances. Cities have their own ordinances and codes, and within those ordinances and codes, businesses have to fit within a niche. Cat cafés do not have their own category within the pet services category, which includes grooming, boarding, training and selling. “You go to the city and they’re at a loss for what actually to put us into,” Pennington said. Once the approvals were coming her way, Pennington realized she couldn’t make her cat café idea come to fruition without employing the help of a Kickstarter campaign. “Other than buying all of the stuff and putting all of the stuff in, we only [had a couple of things] to do structurally to this place,” Pennington said. Pennington’s Kickstarter met and exceeded its $3,000 goal because by then, she had received media coverage. Most of the money raised went to The Casual Cat Cafe’s security system. “My biggest fear is that some mean person is going to break in and do something mean to the cats,” Pennington said. “My second biggest fear is that someone is just going to break in [just for the sake of breaking] in and steal money, but leave a door open, and the cats are going to get out.” Even shy cats find comfort Pennington said most of cats that get brought into the café only need a few days to adjust. But, that’s not the same for everyone. “Everyone likes nice friendly cats but, there are other cats out there that need to be seen and get homes as well,” Pennington said. “We always try to have a few cats that are very shy and very hard to adopt.” The shy cats struggle so much at adoption events that many times the rescues will not even take those cats along with them. “Just [getting to] see them from a picture on a website is hard to get them adopted,” Pennington said. If the shy cats come to The Casual Cat Cafe, they can take time to get adjusted to the environment. If they hide too much, the shy cats are put into a cage to make sure they are eating and drinking enough water.

Top and left: Fostered and adoptable cats hang around cat structures in the Cat Lounge at The Casual Cat Cafe, located at 7264 Glenview Dr. in Richland Hills. Right: RJ Forshay, 7, feeding fostered and adoptable cats treats in the Cat Lounge at The Casual Cat Cafe at Richland Hills. Photos by Emily Olkkola Working at The Casual Cat Cafe Kelly Gonzalez has been a “catsociate” at The Casual Cat Cafe since July of last year, just two weeks after The Casual Cat Cafe opened. “I clean up after kitties, which could be as simple as sweeping up,” Gonzales said. “I also clean up the litter machines. I wash a lot of dishes, make sure that our snacks and things are stocked, I feed everybody and I trim nails.” Compared to other jobs she has had, Gonzales loves being a “catsociate.” “It’s a really fun job,” Gonzales said. “It’s actually hard not be distracted sometimes.” The Casual Cat Cafe will be providing free snow cones for part of the day and half-price admission Friday, July 13 as part of its one-year anniversary.

Expansion Pennington recently rented the suite next door to The Casual Cat Cafe to expand into cat boarding. “Honestly, I just started looking at what was available in cat boarding, and it’s kind of sad,” Pennington said. “With most places, your cat’s going to sit in a 3-by-3 foot kennel all day long and probably not even get pet very much.” The kennels traditionally used at other cat boarding facilities have 27 cubic square feet. The Casual Cat Cafe will have 157 cubic square feet available for the cats. Each kennel will include a full-sized cat tree, cameras with two-way audio, an interactive toy and a laser pointer, which allows the owner – no matter how far away – to be able to play and talk with their cat. Pennington also found that a lot of the cat boarding places did not offer a

lot of human enrichment time besides a playroom or charging an extra fee to have an employee pet the cats for only around 10 minutes. That is why Pennington decided to include 30 minutes of one-on-one human interaction, including petting and playing, in the boarding price. More petting time will be available for purchase. All of the current cat kennels have windows, providing natural light for the cats. The kennel should be completed by the end of the week. The price is not yet finalized, but Pennington estimates the cost to be $25-$30 a night. “I’m hoping that the boarding, especially since we will be offering something so much better than everyone else, is what’s going to help make us profitable and help us go toward our goal of finding all of these cats their forever homes,” Pennington said.

Members from Rudra Center for Enlightenment Awareness debunk local legend PAGODA CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 always been a nonprofit spiritual organization. Among many other practices, a certain type of meditation, Rudra meditation, is the main practice of the center. “It’s the foundational practice here at the Ashram that we build everything else on,” said Ross DeOtte, 27-year-old tai chi and qigong instructor-in-training. “It’s the knowledge that works and the practices that work. There’s no philosophy or dogmatic ancient text that we think is 100 percent correct — it’s all about practice and seeing results that are improving our lives and the lives of our relations.” The center emerged out of the requests of a small group of spiritual seekers in Denton. They invited a man named Swami Rudrananda (Rudi) to visit Denton, after which he offered to set up a meditation group for them and established the Ashram in 1971. “Ashram” means a place to study spirituality. In order to house this school, Rudi placed a down payment on a small, two-story Victorian house on Locust Street and then left, leaving the rest to be paid for by the students. However, after Rudi left for his home in Manhattan, New York, the students found themselves in dire need of a spiritual teacher in order to assist them in continuing the growth of the Ashram. Rudi therefore sent one of his leading disciples, Stuart Perrin, to fulfill this role. “Rudi sent down Stuart to give the students discipline and structure, since it was in the ‘70s and people practiced ‘spirituality’ by taking drugs,” artist Zack Mitchell, 27, said. “It needed to be a real practice instead of just a bunch of hippies doing yoga.” Rudi would continue to visit the Ashram in Denton once or twice a year until his passing in a 1973 plane crash in upstate New York. After Rudi’s passing, Stuart Perrin assumed head teacher at the Ashram until 1978 when he passed his role over to Robert Baker, more commonly known as Silver Ra, 70. Ra continues to extend his guidance and council at the Ashram today. Ra had the pleasure of meeting Rudi before his passing. “Rudi came down to visit the Ashram, and I recognized that he was my Spiritual teacher,” Ra said. Before Ra’s attendance at the Ashram, he had led a drastically different life involving drug addiction and suicidal thoughts. Now, after encountering Rudi and spending great amounts of time at the Ashram, Ra said he has fully

experienced inner growth. “I am a better person internally, which allows me to express a better person externally,” Ra said. Today he is lovingly known by his students as a “caregiver.” “The way that he cares for not only his students but every single person on this property that he happens to meet up with — his attendance to the human being is — I mean, I don’t even know of a word to describe it,” said Jenny Baker, 47-year-old yoga instructor and events coordinator at the Ruda Center. “Everything that you see here, he built: from the floors, to the windows. His care to life is exquisite.” The mission of the Ashram The Rudra Center aims to be a place of inspirational spirituality and a positive force of change. The instructors desire to promote peace, harmony, planetary health and well-being. The Ashram also does not claim one single religion. “I’d like to think of it as, whatever religion you are, if you’re going to come and study here, it’s only going to enhance your own practice,” Baker said. DeOtte said the Ashram has bigger goals than to align itself with religion. “It’s practice-oriented,” DeOtte said. “When you’re in the class and you’re stretching, they’re not telling you about God. They’re saying, ‘Move your foot to the left because that’s how you stretch better.’ It’s more about how to flush out your tensions, how to get clear and have a more open heart.” Unfounded myths of the Ashram Numerous rumors have been sprinkled around and circle the Ashram. Spirituality, to many, is enshrouded in mysticism and may be difficult to understand. Since the very beginning of the Ashram in the ‘70s, rumors of cult activities and abuse circulated the Ashram. However, when asked about this, instructors and students of the center were shocked because the idea of that is so far-fetched to the peace and harmony they know and practice. “I don’t think there is any actual abuse here,” Mitchell said, “I do think the atmosphere here is pretty confrontational as far as when you’re learning to confront fear — confront death. I think it’s pretty highly charged, and I think that’s where some of the negative stuff comes from.” Some other instructors laughed, demonstrating how absurd these claims were to them. “Well, as far as ‘abuse’ goes, I guess we can be pretty

cranky here,” Mitchell said, adding that he was joking. Another rumor from an anonymous commentator online claimed that he and his wife had been married at the Ashram by an ayahuasca shaman. According to him, their wrists had been slit and their blood joined. To this, the instructors also laughed. To their knowledge, there has never been any wrist cutting at the Ashram. Baker is an ordained reverend, and although she has never personally married anyone there at the center, she knows of people having been married there in the past. Marriage ceremonies do still occur — the most recent one being in April — but according to her, nothing like the rumor online. DeOtte provided more clarification as to what actually happens at the marriage ceremonies. “What happens during the ceremony is that a

blanket is wrapped around the couple’s shoulders, joining them,” DeOtte said. “No cutting, no. We do have good music, though.” Normal life as it has always been The people who reside and practice at the Ashram host activities, lessons and events often, inviting more people to experience harmony. They are actively looking for more students and greater community involvement. Student Josh Barnes, 21, has attended a few classes and one of the Native American style sweat lodges at the Ashram. “Their classes have definitely helped me in my journey toward enlightenment,” Barnes said. “Being at the Rudra Center did wonders for my heart. Feeling everyone pour out their energy into song, self-reflection and ceremony is such a beautiful experience.”





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The Green Zatar: Preserving love, culture in a foreign land for 20 years By Claire Lin @claire_grace_

appetizers, za’atar bread, and many others,” Hakimeh said.

Among a line of other small businesses on Sunset Street in Denton sits a historic hidden gem. This hole-in-the-wall is Green Zatar, a Persian and Mediterranean restaurant run by married couple Ali and Hakimeh Pourmorshed. The restaurant, however, was not a restaurant when it was first established in 1996 – it started as a grocery store. “The business began as International Foods of Denton, a specialty import grocery store,” Ali said. “In 2004, we decided to change the business to a restaurant, as many of the customers were requesting we cook things in the store rather than just sell them.” The process was gradual. “We began with a few tables and slowly expanded and remodeled into the Green Zatar restaurant Denton knows today,” Ali said. The restaurant still has a small section devoted to specialty groceries, with unique Middle Eastern goods that are difficult to find. These items range from intricate Persian books to imported teas and rice, and the Pourmorsheds line one wall of the restaurant on white shelves decorated with Persian memorabilia and multicolored vases. The couple named the restaurant Green Zatar because za’atar is a famous Middle Eastern herb and spice blend used in many traditional dishes. “Za’atar is used in many of [our] dishes, including one of the most popular

It starts with love Hakimeh and Ali originally met and fell in love in Iran. He was the first to immigrate to the U.S., but they missed each other so much that Hakimeh began making plans to come to the U.S. as well. “We both immigrated in the early ‘70s from Iran to attend university,” Hakimeh said. After graduating from Louisiana State University, they got married and began their business and family. For them, the two are intertwined. “Our vision in opening this business was to be able to create an abundant life for our family,” Ali said. Hakimeh and Ali have two children they are very proud of: Hormat and Hamed Pourmorshed. Both have grown up in the restaurant helping the family business, and even now they can still be found working shifts on wait staff occasionally. “The children are a huge part of the business and helped in all areas, including the kitchen, managing the restaurant and as wait staff,” Hakimeh said. Hormat and Hamed are both UNT alumni. Aside from them, there are only three other employees, all of whom are wait staff since the Pourmorsheds do not trust anyone but themselves to cook their own cuisine. But even the wait staff feel at home in the restaurant’s environment. “It’s like family here,” employee Soline Demetz-Lovell, 22, said. “Even the people

The Green Zatar restaurant is decorated with Mediterranean influences to create an authentic atmosphere. Emilia Capuchino who don’t work here anymore drop by to say hi and come and go as they please. It’s so nice here.” Still, blood is thicker than water, and the Pourmorsheds want to keep the family business within the family. “There are many customers who have been coming to Green Zatar for more than 20 years who can recall Hormat and Hamed being babies, and who have gotten to watch them and the business grow simultaneously,” Ali said. Now, after being in business for more than two decades, Ali and Hakimeh continue to be motivated by their children and loyal customers, and although their children are currently pursuing their own careers, Ali and Hakimeh plan to pass the business on to their children in five years. A piece of home in Denton The Pourmorsheds have built a place of peace and paradise amid the bustle of Denton that long-time customers can

attest to. French music plays softly over the sound of meal-time chatter. The restaurant is decorated from top to bottom in colorful hues, lush plants and intricate Persian details. The back wall, where customers can see Ali and Hakimeh busy cooking through the window, is painted to look like a scene of a tranquil Mediterranean home. It looks professionally done, but Hakimeh is the one who designed it all. “My very talented Hakimeh Pourmorshed is responsible for the beautiful décor,” Ali said. “Her goal was the make the restaurant feel like a little piece of home.” Lights are also strung up across the deep blue ceiling to have the effect of a romantic outdoor scene overlooking the Mediterranean waters. “You can enjoy lunch while the room is lit naturally with sunlight and then have dinner under twinkling lights for a more romantic dining experience,” Hakimeh

said. “But no matter what time of day you come in, you are sure to feel the charm the space provides.” However beautiful the space, Ali and Hakimeh also beam with pride for their customers. “Green Zatar does serve the Middle Eastern community in Denton as a place to come for a taste of home and to socialize with each other,” Ali said. “Outside of the Middle Eastern community, all nationalities are always present at Green Zatar.” The couple said it is not rare to hear many different languages being spoken inside the restaurant at once, and it is very special to them to see people of all walks of life connecting over a meal. “We have had the pleasure of meeting so many unique individuals through the business and are grateful for each and every one,” Hakimeh said. “It has been a pleasure to become a part of the lives of so many in the Denton community.”

The Dose: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ is a solid yet un-impactful addition

English alternative rock musician Yungblud (right) performs at the Vans Warped Tour in Dallas. Slade Meadows

Bidding farewell: Doom and gloom at the final Vans Warped Tour By Slade Meadows @SladeSe7ens The Vans Warped Tour did not go down without a fight — and neither did its fans. The thousands of attendees gathered around the iconic, inflatable, everchanging list of set times of the Warped Tour, seemingly unfazed by the summer heat, rain and cloud to ground lightening in the distance. Once they figured out when and where their favorite artists would be performing over the next 10 hours, they trekked from stage to stage and puddle to puddle in masses. The event was a mixture of melancholy and excitement with veteran attendees mourning their misfit summer camp and first timers thankful to be a part of the final tribute. Friday marked the final Warped Tour at the Dos Equis Pavilion in Dallas and the end of an era. While the tour will continue through the summer at other venues around the country, 2018 is set as the final year of the festival. Founder of Warped Tour Kevin Lyman announced in November that 2018 would be the last year of the cross-country festival, but also said there will be a 25th anniversary event in 2019. Lynman created the 24-year tour in 1995 after working with Lollapalooza for three years. The festival has hosted thousands of bands over the years, many of which got their start on the tour and later rose to national notoriety. While some people suggested that declining ticket sales and band participation were the reason for the end of Warped Tour, others suggested that Lynman was simply exhausted from the consecutive summers on the road. Either way, veterans and newcomers alike were surprised to hear about the death of Warped Tour and traveled from all over the area to pay a final tribute at the mecca of metal. “I’m actually shocked to be honest with you,” said Francisco Gonzalez, 33-yearold Dallas resident and eight-year veteran of Warped Tour. “I was not expecting it.

It’s unpredictable, but I have a feeling that a few years later it’s going to be like, ‘Hey guess what, it’s not really the last one.’” While many long-time attendees felt like they were saying goodbye to an old friend, others saw the event as the last opportunity to experience the hype that is Warped Tour. “That’s the reason why I finally bought tickets,” said Tyler Clagon, a 26-year-old from Azle, Texas, and first-time attendee of Warped Tour. “I’m married with kids, but screw it. I’ve got to be here, man.” Warped Tour is known for its heavy and sometimes abrasive music, ranging from the genres of metal, punk and rock with wide variations and classifications of each. The tour may not always be for everyone, but this iteration is more than a festival — it’s the death of an icon. “It’s a f*****g blast,” Clagon said. “I mean, I don’t know half the bands, but man, it’s still a good time all around. There’s a few I’m looking forward to like Knuckle Puck and some of the ending bands, but mostly I’m just here for the experience.” Some may say the best way to describe Warped Tour is as “choreographed chaos.” Thousands of people wandered from stage to stage in very little clothing. The air was perfumed with the scent of body odor and weed, and tattoos and piercings easily outnumbered the attendees. Upwards of 50 people crowd-surfed during Simple Plan’s set after the lead singer prompted people to take the opportunity to check it off their bucket list. Falling In Reverse ended the night at the Dos Equis Pavilion, but Warped Tour is unique in that it has no headliners. The bands rotate set times and stages at each stop along the cross-country festival in order to give every band a chance to shine and headline. Set times are not released until the morning of the tour stop, which are displayed on the inflatable list located at the gates of the event, making it a central hub for attendees. With Warped Tour coming to an end, many people are wondering if the festival should, or even could, be replaced. The

feelings on the subject vary widely from attendee to attendee. Steve Bost attended the first Warped Tour in 1995 before Vans became the sponsor. He returned to Dallas to experience the final Warped Tour with his daughter. “I don’t really think anything can replace it,” Steve said. “Warped Tour was unique because you’ve got your metal bands. I went to Metal Mayhem a few years ago, and then of course they retired Edgefest, but Warped has its own unique [style] that you can’t see at too many other places.” Both Steve and his daughter are sad to see the festival go but are not surprised considering the recent death of similar festivals, such as Edgefest. “It would be cool if someone did come in and do something just because everything else around here has died off,” said Jade Bost, the 16-year-old daughter of Steve Bost and second-time attendee of Warped Tour. “Edgefest is gone, this is going to be gone and there’s not going to be anything else really to do.” While Steven does not believe Warped Tour can truly be replaced, he welcomes the idea of a similar festival stepping forward to provide a stage for up-and-coming artists of the genre. “It would be nice because it opens up a lot of bands that normally don’t get exposure,” Steven said. “It would be nice if we could see something like [Warped Tour] come around again.” Another festival could arise and fill the void that will be left in the wake of Warped Tour, however, Clagon has his doubts that the event could be replaced by any other name. “I don’t know, man,” Clagon said. “Yeah, you can always get some bands together, but [Warped Tour] always holds something dear to everybody’s heart, so we’ll see.” But the final verdict from Gonzalez on replacing Warped Tour was a clear one: “I don’t think so,” Gonzalez said. “There’s only one Warped Tour.”

“Ant-Man” was one of those sleeper hits Marvel released just before it started hitting its full stride with the coveted Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie had its flaws, but it attempted what every marvel movie has now been known for since its 2015 release: it meshed humor, action and the right amount of drama to create what was just a good time. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is the kind of followup a movie of this heft needed. It raises the fun factor, it doesn’t really raise the stakes and it By Zack Helms stands on its own in relation to the first for the @NTDailyZack most part. It slips up a bit by asking you to suspend your disbelief a bit too much by throwing in some things that aren’t explained or make much sense, but by and large it accomplishes every goal it sets out to make.

Zack’s rating:  “Ant-Man and the Wasp” Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is on house arrest for his crime in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” and will be out soon on good behavior. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope (Evangeline Lily) have re-established contact after cutting ties with him in the year prior in order to get his help finding and recovering Hank’s wife, the original Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer), from another dimension. Like each sub-franchise within the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man’s — and more specifically Paul Rudd’s — coined comedy is in full swing, and generally every joke lands. Sure there were better jokes than others, but I felt consistently entertained with the dialogue. Speaking of, the writing more broadly works in the small scale of things. The moment-to-moment plot makes sense and works, but this film operates under one of the most flimsy plots in the entire franchise. While that is a problem, the film consistently lulls you into a sense of security. From the get-go, you know everything is going to work out for every good character based on the palate-cleansing, light hearted tone coming hot off the heels of Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” In a way, it uses the cliché to great effect, which left me content walking out of the theatre. Michael Pena’s fumbling sidekick foil to Rudd is back and as funny as ever, and Michael Douglas plays the cranky genius all too well. In fact, almost all characters are good or great. The only character I’m torn on is Lily’s new Wasp character. She is appropriately written in terms of her origin and tragic events related to her mother, but she’s mean-spirited and often feels like more of a bully than Ant-Man’s partner. The music present is stand-out, switching between orchestral tracks and pop culture references that are centered around the concept of partners. This concept, coupled with the chemistry between Lily and Rudd, is believable on both a crimefighting-team level as well as romantic interests. This relationship is validated even further by the clever use of fighting choreography. The two use their capabilities in conjunction with the other, using their shrinking and growing abilities even more effectively and interestingly than before. The villain is weak, and the plot just acts as an excuse to shoot a bunch of goofy scenes that are stitched together to fit the story arc, but I never minded this. I think my only large complaint is what goes down in the final 20 minutes. I saw too many costumes that I thought looked way too comic book-y (in a bad way) on characters that had no business wearing such cliché and cheap designs. We’ve reached the point where you can get away with a faithful recreation of some classic costumes, but both Douglas and Pfeiffer do not pull off such generic designs at all. It looked a lot like a low-budget TV show, and it took me out of the experience a bit. It feels like Marvel is flirting a bit too much with selling even more actions figures than they already do. That said, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is yet another solid entry under Marvel and Disney’s belt. And I can’t lie — I’m pumped for the next entry in the galaxy-wide saga.

Courtesy “Ant-Man” Facebook




Trump didn’t start US racism and immigration issues

By Maritza Ramos @maritzarara We’ve all seen the pictures. We’ve heard the audio of children wailing in Spanish for their parents. We’ve been forced to listen to the leader of our once “free and just nation” antagonize and dehumanize immigrants on a global scale. It’s easy to say that President Trump has ignited a storm of racism and intolerance because it’s true. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near as truthful to claim that these same nationalistic, xenophobic tendencies have sprung up suddenly, or were newly fabricated by the current administration. Racism and discrimination are as American as apple pie. This is important to note because many believe that voting for the “correct” party, placing complete and total faith in partisan politics, will somehow fix all of the injustices we’re facing in this country.

As much as I love President Obama and believe he did amazing work for this country, his administration deported more undocumented immigrants than any other combined. The response to the evidence of border mistreatment and separation of families has been inspiring, and the millions of dollars raised to reunite these children with their parents make me hopeful. But it rubs me the wrong way that it took actual footage of mistreated children for this country to empathize with the undocumented struggle. It took the traumatization of children for the citizens of this country to realize the significant problems regarding border immigration. But these issues have persisted through years and various administrations, Democrat and Republican. It’s tempting to think that supporting one particular party will solve our problems, but having complete faith in anything can be counterproductive. Being blinded by loyalty to an idea or promise is dangerous — not only on an individual, intellectual level but on a larger, national level. As citizens, we have the responsibility to constantly check those in power, and if we find they are putting their own interests ahead of the interests of the people, we displace them. As of now, America is fundamentally struggling to assert the political and human

Illustration by Austin Banzon rights of its citizens. Trump has just made this battle hypervisual in a way we haven’t experienced in a while. He is neither the origin nor the end. We have to hold everyone accountable and care for everyone who is being dehumanized and abused by our government. We have to care when the racism and the abuse aren’t as loud or as obviously upsetting. We have to care

enough to comb through every crevice of our own country’s protocols, laws and procedures, where the traces of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia still remain. Once found, we must change them. We cannot wait until immigration incarceration issues become so bad that we are constantly bombarded with video evidence of the irreversible damage it is causing families.

The children you’ve seen in the media are the children of people who have braved deserts and jungles and trains for a chance to offer them a real life. They came for refuge and instead were detained, separated and criminalized. No human being is illegal, and it is up to us to finally and definitively revamp our country’s harmful immigration detention processes.

Denton’s unique music sound is a reflection of its offbeat culture

By Nicholas Stiltner @N30Nick Denton has a unique mix of musicians and artists that is created by the city’s distinct culture of openness and creativity. Because Denton is a young town — the median age being around 28 years old — dreams are being followed, bands are being formed and new music is in the air. Local bars have stages for bands, great bands are playing unique music and, most importantly, people are going out to see them and be a part of it all. Bands like Two Knights and Hey, Cowboy both have punk-inspired sounds, and both present their own spins on the evolving genre. Best of all, they are both from Denton! You can hear the Denton vibe in both bands. This sound stems from Denton’s young crowd of talented artists, some of which come from the draw of UNT being a prestigious music school. Others simply love music and want to create it in a place where the local

Illustration by Elizabeth Rhoden culture will allow it to flourish. The atmosphere of a large liberal arts college is especially visible in its students and the young population of the city. There are so many people passionate in what they do, open-minded to new ideas and accepting of other people’s ways of life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Denton isn’t perfect. There will always be outliers. But I believe this is a city and culture that is accepting of all, regardless of

background or differences. I can imagine listening to Hey, Cowboy and Two Knights while I walk around Denton, the campus, the square or even through the neighborhoods, and the music would feel right at home in all of these places. Their music is weird too, just like Denton. You can tell by how the people dress, with retro shops like Alfie’s Archive becoming popular on the square, and what they study — Denton has

882 multidisciplinary studies graduate residents according to a 2015 survey — which further explains Denton’s open-minded culture. Hey, Cowboy has a relaxed, soft-folk sound, that is sometimes accentuated with a synthesizer that adds a hint of ‘80s inspiration and meshes with the vocals well, creating a surreal blend of the two sounds. This could also be said for how the people of Denton dress — a style which incorporates odd pieces that shouldn’t work in theory, but are made to work by the person wearing the outfit. Clothes that don’t fit, patterns you wouldn’t usually see together, odd accessories — but it all works and is carried well by the person wearing it. I would describe the culture of Denton using that same metaphor, a weird assemblage that intermingles strikingly and creates an original “piece” that fits comfortably on our shoulders, although to some it may seem slightly askew. The metaphorical outfit only works because of the metaphorical person wearing it. To keep Denton open-minded and supportive of all walks of life, we must eagerly support local art. The more we support a thriving young art scene, the more our culture will continue to grow, mold and intertwine, becoming more of a representation of ourselves and our distinct stamp on the world. Denton’s music scene is a small, colorful sprout pushing its head through the soil — one that must still be nourished and cared for. But with enough support, that sprout can become something beautiful the whole community can be proud of.

Classifying video game addiction as a mental disorder is excessive

By Patrick Cleath @oldshorts The World Health Organization made a controversial decision recently to classify video game addiction as a mental disorder. Like with other addictions, the organization considers gaming an addiction when an individual uses it to escape from reality and ignore responsibilities. Presumably, parents everywhere are rejoicing as they have received a genuine, scary reason to limit the time their children spend playing video games. On the other hand, some gamers are now in fear of undue judgment. Parents will jump to conclusions without accurate consultation, and kids who do not understand addiction will feel ostracized, frustrated and in denial. The thing about addiction is the individual has to be ready to admit they have a problem before they can start recovery. This usually occurs after hitting rock bottom. At Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, it is recommended that people introduce themselves as an alcoholic before speaking in order to humble themselves. The majority of video game consumers range from children to young adults — people who may not have the knowledge or self-awareness to identify their addiction to an activity they perceive as simple enjoyment. It seems unlikely the WHO’s classification will make an impact on users just now receiving this information. I am not a psychologist of any sort, so I will not

claim whether or not I believe an individual can be addicted to video games. Although after seeing MTV’s “True Life” series, I could never be surprised. What I do feel passionate about is how parents and children will handle this situation. When I was younger, I was grounded from “World of Warcraft” for two years because I started to perform worse in school. I would never admit this to my parents, but the test grade that broke the camel’s back really was a result of procrastination via playing “World of Warcraft.” Years later, the video game industry has excelled to the point where some gamers are paid more than professional athletes. In order to keep up with the competition, professional players like Ninja play up to 12 hours a day. My problem was that I was playing with no end goal. It was something I did purely for entertainment purposes. This is where the line needs to be drawn. If someone is concerned their gaming habits may be a problem, they need to decide whether they’re playing an excessive amount in order to obtain an actual end goal, like putting food on the table, or if they just want to escape real life. There is a difference between mindlessly playing something to occupy time and learning techniques that can advance talents. Usually, if someone is actively learning things the average person does not know, it is a tedious process that can be considered work rather than fun. Many people love to play “Fortnite” with their friends because it’s a fun pastime, but not nearly as many will learn the best strategies to continuously increase their value as a player. All of this is to say that excelling at anything should be encouraged, including gaming. When people figure out how to improve at one thing, it can be applied to anything else and becomes a valuable life lesson. On the other hand, if a person is spending all their time and energy on what is essentially a money drain, they should either find something worthwhile to get out of it or reevaluate their priorities.

Illustration by Austin Banzon


Page 8


To be competitive in “Fortnite,” use a PC

By Patrick Cleath @oldshorts

Illustration by Austin Banzon

Americans deserve a say in the Supreme Court nominations By The Editorial Board @ntdaily Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring from his position, leaving both Republican and Democratic hopefuls drooling over the unoccupied seat. Open spots on the court do not occur frequently, as judges receive lifetime appointments to the position. This is a midterm election year, meaning the outcome of November could drastically change the outcome of the nomination process. After former Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed to stave off the inauguration of another court justice until the next president was in office, because it was an election year. Yes, it was a presidential election year, and yes, the president selects the nominee. But the president does not take part in the nominee voting process — the Senate does, thus making this election cycle arguably more relevant than the 2016 election when it comes to presidential nominees. But this time around, McConnell quietly gave the current president his two recommendations for the justice.

In 2016, the senate majority leader stressed the importance of the American people having a say in the next Supreme Court Justice — does McConnell no longer care about the will of the citizens? Or is he changing his tune this time because the president plays for his own team? Regardless of what political party someone belongs to, this is not how it should be. If someone is fired or quits their office job for a position somewhere else, it would not make sense to let them decide the new managerial committee on their way out. Part of the problem is the senate can essentially make its own rules regarding the process for choosing Supreme Court nominees. McConnell stopped Democratic senators’ filibuster of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch last April by overturning the senate rule requiring 60 votes to end a filibuster. By lowering that number to 51, McConnell helped Gorsuch clear the final hurdle to the justice seat. Some Democratic senators have said they wouldn’t vote for any of Trump’s potential Supreme Court picks. McConnell made a point to scoff about this, noting how quickly they

were to voice their opposition when a nominee had not even been chosen. However, barely an hour after Scalia’s seat opened up in 2016, McConnell issued a full statement vowing to block any of Obama’s picks. The nation’s highest court should set a national standard for fairness and accountability. Appointing judges to this court with immense judicial power should not be taken lightly, and the will of the people should be of utmost consideration. If the government isn’t doing right by its citizens, those in power must be removed. Furthermore, there are 35 seats up for election in the fall, with representatives on both sides of the aisle who face the possibility of being on their way out in November — including Texas’ own Senator Ted Cruz — be it from their unhappy constituents, retirement, etc. Why is it justifiable to give them a say in such long-lasting decisions when they are potentially in the final leg of their public service? The people of this country elect their representatives. We can’t allow spin doctors in the government to find loopholes around representing the wishes of their constituents.

Whenever I see someone on social media post their solo win with nine kills, I’m like, “not bad.” That is, until I notice the triangle or Y button as their pickax key — indicating their use of the console version of “Fortnite.” To an experienced player, this means they’re playing an almost entirely different game. Of the top 10 most watched “Fortnite” streamers, nine of them play on a PC. “Fortnite” has excelled over any first person shooter because of the building aspect of the game, which is a dynamic foreign to the competitive first person shooter genre. Building allows for a huge skill gap across different platforms. A player who doesn’t take time to learn how to build and prefers to rely on aiming skills will be at a major disadvantage when facing an experienced builder. For many years I played “World of Warcraft,” a game I would have liked to see become available on console so more of my friends would play. But I knew it would never come to fruition because of how much keyboard work was necessary to be fluent with every maneuver. When beginning to learn the mechanics for “Fortnite,” I quickly realized this game was similar in that it would never be as easy to play on console. In most first person shooter games,

Illustration by Austin Banzon


there are two weapons, one or two types of explosives and a melee button. “Fortnite” allows players to carry five weapons, build four different structures, change the direction in which the structures are facing, and keep multiple kinds of traps to scroll through — all while still having a dedicated melee button. The variety of gameplay mechanics leaves console players at a disadvantage as there are buttons they have to hold instead of press and buttons they have to scroll to reach. At the same time, console players also miss out on the use of six extra fingers PC players have. The keybinds — patterns of pressing buttons that cause certain functions — are non-customizable on console. The console also lacks the option to jump without taking your thumb off the aiming button, which does a disservice to players trying to avoid hits in combat. PC players are able to place every action on dedicated keys (of their own choosing) that rarely conflict with one another as long as they have a mouse with additional buttons. The last unfair advantage PC players have is ease of aiming. Instead of a relatively small analog stick controlled by just your thumb, a mouse and large mouse pad allows you to move and control your entire arm with unmatched accuracy. And unless console developers start integrating keyboard and mouse connectivity into their platforms, it’s likely things will stay this way. So sure, you can be the best at beating Playstation players while also using a Playstation. But if you really want to compete for that $100 million that “Fortnite” is gracing gaming prize pools with, it would probably be a good idea to build a $300-$400 custom PC that will allow you to play the game with great efficiency and few interruptions.








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North Texas Daily 7/12/2018  
North Texas Daily 7/12/2018