ACC creative writing students get ‘lit’erary at the coffeehouse

Story by Mary Browder • Editor-in-Training

Photo by Jon Shapley • Video Editor

“How do you explain to a six-month-old that we were scared, inexperienced and that his condition was tearing us apart?” said Austin Community College student Kayla Peavler at ACC’s October Literary Coffeehouse at Austin Java. With the help of a microphone, Peaver’s soft, wavering voice pierced through the attentive silence — the heavy silence of an enthralled audience. She spoke evenly, persevering through the story with a mother’s patience, occasionally quivering at points of genuine pain.

My husband blamed me — he was very meticulous when it came to fault. I didn’t take enough care of myself when I was pregnant, too much walking, not enough rest, I saw all that red meat you ate. I snuck a glass of red wine once. He told me Matthew would never be normal, that without hearing he’d never grow up to be the son he always wanted. A son just like him.” she said.

Peaver alternated between lifting her manuscript for occasional glances and signing the parts of the story where she was addressing her son. Her story, titled “Little Rabbits,” described the challenges and frustrations of a hearing mother with a deaf and possibly mentally disabled toddler, particularly after the collapse of her marriage. Yet there were also moments of deep tenderness. Among the most moving points in her story was her slow, patient finger- spelling and mouthing of each sound in the word “mom.” The story climaxes with the mother losing her patience and breaking a dish, a shard of which inadvertently cuts the small child. After she immediately takes him to the hospital to treat the resulting superficial wound, Child Protective Services removes Matthew from her home. Despite the apparent heartbreak, the story ends on a brighter note: Matthew is adopted as the mother begins to come to terms with her inability to give him the life and care he needs.

It wasn’t until after her readings that several audience members realized the piece was fiction. It was easy to assume that the piece was creative nonfiction, or at the very least semi-autobiographical short fiction. Peavler is 23, and could very well have been a teen mother now rail-thin from the passage of time and years of grief. She is not a creative writing major, but nobody in the room would have guessed it. Indeed, this second time Coffeehouse reader majors in American Sign Language (ASL). Her dynamic facial expressions and emotive vocal tone were not only powerful components of her performance, but reflective of an empathy that is essential to her studies, work and eventual career goals.

“ASL interpretation is different from other kinds of language translation. Interpreters aren’t like machines, and good interpreters need to be able to emote and express their humanity,” she said. “The deaf community is all about relationships, whether that’s within a family or between students, teachers, friends or anyone else.”

Peavler takes these relationships seriously — she is also a member of ASL Friends Unite (AFU). Her off-campus work with AFU helps her keep strong ties within the deaf community while she is studying. While most students plan to complete an associates degree within two years, Peavler has taken fewer classes over more semesters.

“I want to graduate with a 4.0…and I will,” she said with a smile to match her certainty.

This performance — her second at the monthly Coffeehouse events— was less about her personal writing than it was about her desire for total immersion within the deaf community. Peaveler has high ambitions and big plans for her life after she earns her interpreting degree at ACC. She plans to apply to Gaullaudet in Washington, D.C., which is the largest deaf university in the nation.

“The school only accepts about 15 hearing students any semester. So that’s a lot of competition,” said Peavler.

Next month’s Literary Coffeehouse is on November 14, and will also be held at the same Austin Java location on 1206 Parkway, near South Lamar Boulevard and 12th Street.

‘New Super Mario Bros 2’ game takes a 3-D trip down memory lane

Story by Joey Galvan • Staff Reporter

Familiar characters and breathtaking environments provide gamers with a fun twist to a beloved classic

Nintendo fanboys can rejoice as “New Super Mario Bros. 2” is released for the Nintendo 3-DS. Nintendo is hoping to attract loyal customers of the Mario franchise and catch the eye of new gamers as well.

Mario, as a character, evokes powerful memories in anyone who grew up with a Nintendo system in their household.

He is a welcoming icon used by Nintendo whenever they release a new console or game title the company believes in. In the sequel to “Super Mario 3-D Land” they continue to avoid tarnishing his image by putting out a product worthy of the iconic plumber.

The game’s objective beautiful in its simplicity: get as many freakin’ coins as possible and defeat some familiar enemies in the process. Attain large amounts of coins to acquire more lives and special Yoshi coins to unlock special items to aid your quest. The amount of gold coins thrown at you is ridiculous as it is not uncommon for a player to rack up over a hundred lives with a little persistence. The environments in “New Super Mario Bros. 2” are breathtaking much like those in its predecessor with levels bearing a strong resemblance to previous Mario titles spanning almost every Nintendo console.

You don’t have to go far to find familiar territory. The current desert levels look strikingly similar to the game’s older incarnations in the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) system and are rampant with angry cactus littered upon quicksand.

Most of the levels look like they have appeared in some previous fashion of a Mario release which is an important nostalgia factor for players. The biggest letdown after beating the eight worlds is that it can be done so quickly.

It’s not that the levels are too easy per se, but rather that the title ends abruptly and could use some additional content to provide a higher factor for replay.

The controls in this release are of A+ caliber. Often, controls in the game can severely limit the player’s experience by proving too difficult for average players to learn, which may result in them abandoning the game in frustration. If you have played the first few Mario releases for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the control scheme should seem ideal.

It adapts the controls from previous games like “Super Mario World” for the Super Nintendo and is so simple a novice could quickly pick it up. The simple joy of being able to achieve maximum speed and attain flight through use of your raccoon tail is not a hard feat, nor should it be.

The 3-D in this game is incredible. Nintendo pushes the envelope of what the 3-DS is capable of and at times the immersion can become intense. I recommend breaks be taken to avoid motion sickness. The action takes on a completely new dimension and plays one of the most intricate roles in making this release worth purchasing.

Two players can play together and basically trade use of the console between levels. Not many gamers have a 3-DS, so finding someone with the handheld console in addition to this game can prove rather daunting, but it is ultimately worth it.

The same problem exists with the Streetpass function of the console. Streetpass works when the 3-DS is in regular or standby mode with the two consoles trading in game items depending on which games you have set up to participate in this function.

It is recommended that this function be tried in crowded areas like shopping malls in hopes of the consoles recognizing the signal of another player which would then trade off the items automatically.

Not only is standby mode an extreme waste of battery power, the notion of hooking up with another player outside of a Nintendo related event seems highly unlikely.

Coin Rush is a playable mode with three random levels from each world with an objective of acquiring as many coins as possible under a lowered time limit.

If you die or run out of time, you cannot move on to the next of the three levels which contain more coins than regular in-game levels.

You get to keep the coins you get in this mode and use them in the normal game mode. Coin Rush is a lot of fun, but I recommend playing after beating the game and looking for more content.

As expected from Nintendo, “New Super Mario Bros. 2” is a solid release. It is loaded with nostalgia from characters, enemies and decadent levels from previous Mario games in vibrant colors upon a wonderful control scheme.

This game is recommended to anyone that is a fan of 3-D gaming or loves Mario based releases.

 

Tech 101: Samsung Galaxy Note

Story by Nathan Bustillos • Campus Reporter

ou have a major pa- per due for class, you can’t remember the due date and you have lost your syllabus. You frantically try to contact the professor, classmates — anybody, but no one answers their email or phone. What can you do?

The Samsung Galaxy Note can be a big help as it combines the ease and convenience of a smartphone with the functionality of a tablet PC.

The recently released Galaxy Note includes a task scheduler, which incorporates a calendar and spreadsheet program to keep track of important dates and schedules. Students can use it to take notes as well. With the included S Memo app and the stylus, it is easy to write directly into the device. Its 5.3-inch screen provides ample space to write on.

One of the benefits for many Austin Community College art students is that there is an app that is very similar to Adobe Photoshop, which allows users to edit photos and other images to create high quality design elements that can be used for print or other media.

The photoshop equivalent for the Galaxy Note 10.1 can achieve the same high quality imagery as the original Photoshop.

In terms of the Galaxy Note’s technical aspects, users can enjoy a 4G LTE network which allows Internet browsing at speeds as quick as any smartphone or laptop computer. With the 1.4-gigahertz dual core processor, websites, images and video load very quickly and smoothly, giving the user seamless interaction with all of the Galaxy Note’s features. Images, notes, and other files can be exported into a desk- top or laptop computer with USB 2.0 support.

As with any mobile device, price point can be a downside for college students.

However, the Samsung Galaxy Note is available from T-Mobile and AT&T with a two-year extension of a current mobile phone contract. In the alternative, the Galaxy Note is available on Amazon and by other online vendors ranging from $300 and $500 without a mobile phone network.

This is where the price point may come into play. Some users may not want to be tied down to a new contract with their mobile provider and would then be subject to the purchase price. Unfortunately, with a $500 price tag at most, it may be out of reach for many college students, especially if they are on a budget.

Another factor that some users may not like is the size of the device. The Galaxy Note was designed to be similar to a smartphone in terms of size and convenience, but is slightly bigger than an iPhone or some other large screen device.

The Galaxy Note faces competition for the student market from many other tablet PC equivalents with much larger screens without having the bulk and thickness of some laptop computers, but it could be a good investment for many college students.

Food trucks

4 food trailers to chase down in Austin

DC McLean • Campus Reporter

Layla Elayyadi • Staff Photojournalist

Coat and Thai

Price range: Cheap, under $10 1600 S Congress Austin, TX 78704

This cute, friendly looking food truck has a catchy name and some awesome food. Coat & Thai has a varied menu which highlights Thai foods and appetizers such as curry dishes, noodle and rice dishes as well as vegetarian options. One of the more popular dishes is their egg rolls which are crispy, hot and filled with crunchy cabbage, celery and carrots along with noodles and onions. One could say the best part is being able to dip into the perfectly balanced sweet and sour sauce.

The next time you come to Coat and Thai be sure to grab some piping hot egg rolls along with an entree such as, Pod Ka-Poo which is stir fried rice noodles with eggs, green onions, bean sprouts and ground peanuts. This food truck de- mands repeat visits to explore the many options on its menu.

Lunch specials for $5.95 are served from 11 .a.m to 2 p.m.

Stony’s Pizza

Price Range: Cheap, under $10 6th St & Red River St Austin, TX 78701

Stony’s started in late 2007 when a father and son team from Boston pulled this fully equipped truck up to Red River and 6th and started serving some of the best NY style pizza in that area. As we arrived we were greeted by the son, he went over some options (slices, pies, prices) and we elected to get a full pie. While the pie was baking we went around to the front of the truck to watch him and see what they were using. Options tend to be limited inside a truck, so it was not surprising to see them using a little conveyor belt oven. He hand-stretched some fresh dough topping it with some quality sauce (Stanislaus) and a very heavy-handed dose of cheese with pepperoni on half. After the quick 8 minute bake it was ready to be served. We quickly started eating it and were very happy with the flavor. The bake you get on the conveyor is not perfect (typically lack- ing some crunch and structure to the crust) but it did a sufficient job nonethe- less. While it lacked the crisp or browning it was at least cooked all of the way through. The cheese was some of the best tasting cheese we have had on a pizza recently and the sauce was light but flowed so perfectly with the great peppero- nis that had a nice char on them. The pizza was not perfect, but the love, appre- ciation and attention to detail is there. Stony’s is cooking up some home runs out of this truck so don’t be afraid to try this truck after a night out on the town.

Miguel’s El Cubano

Price Range: Moderate, $11 – $30 611 Trinity St Austin, TX 78701

Photo by Jon Shapley • Video Editor

Miguel’s, named after the owner’s grandpa, has some excellent Cuban faire. Owner Alexander Acosta’s food truck delivers Cuban style comfort food wrapped in fresh made bollios with a generous side of traditional black beans and rice with yuca frita. Yuca fritas are the Cuban version of a french fry, howev- er that description does not do them justice. The yuca fritas were crispy, savory and the perfect match for the warm sandwiches.

The El Don was the highlight of the meal and deemed their signature dish. The cilantro garnished slow cooked Berkshire pulled pork was tender, tangy and mildly sweet.

The delicious mojo sauce, made with citrus, garlic, oregano and white pep- per, was served alongside the sandwich and surpisingly, the bread did not get soggy when the sauce was added. If you’re tired of eating Tex-Mex style food and breakfast tacos, track down this truck.

The Peached Tortilla

Price Range: Cheap, under $10 Locations vary from Downtown to South Congress

Photo by Jon Shapley • Video Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Peached Tortilla serves a delightful fusion of Mexican and Chinese food. The Banh Mi Taco consisted of juicy, tender and flavorful pork belly, paired with crunchy, tangy carrot and daikon.

The Crunchy Catfish Taco was OK. It’s supposedly one of the more popular tacos, but the fried batter overwhelmed any other flavor. It was very tasty batter, though.

The BBQ Brisket slider was yummy! Tender and moist brisket was mixed with peachy BBQ sauce, all barely held together by two soft and plump Hawaiian rolls. De-lish.

The Banana Nutella Wontons are a fun twist on a classic dish. Who doesn’t like chocolate and bananas? A little more banana and more filling in each won- ton would have been great, but it was still a tasty treat!

 

 

 

True brew holiday flavor

Story by Janice Veteran • Staff Photojournalist

When some people think of beer, they may think of tailgating or parties of some sort. However, beer is becoming the best known secret to spice up cooking. There are several new printed books and e-books out on cooking with beer. Also, cooking with beer will give you more recipes than you can cook in one semester.

Sean Paxton, professional chef and home brewer, designed the dinner menus for the annual Homebrewers Association’s website, homebrewchef.com, which has recipes and offers aide to aspiring beer chefs.

As you may know, there are several different types of beers on the market. Most people know of the ones made by the mega-breweries that are light in color and flavor (typically a Pilsner style), but there are also the malty beers that impart a different flavor. You may or may not like to drink these types of beers, however you will find that when you cook with them, they produce far different flavors to food than their tastes as a beverage.

Beer can be used in almost every type of cooking there is: appetizers, soups, stews, breads, entrees, sauces, spreads, glazes, meat marinates, breakfast foods and desserts. You name it, and there is a recipe for the dish that includes beer. Used properly, beer turns the most ordinary foods into exceptional party fare. Beer works great as a marinade for beef, chicken, pork, fish or seafood. In roasting, baking or broiling, beer is used to baste the foods or as an ingredient in the basting sauce to reveal a rich, dark color and high- light gravies.

The better you know and understand beer, the better the application of beer in your meal. It is the perfect ingredient for your meat marinade because it is much less acidic than wine, vinegar or citrus juices, which are typically used in BBQ sauces and marinades. It will tenderize the meat without breaking down the texture as rapidly as the more powerful acids. Also, the balanced flavors in beer means that the other herbs and spices will not be overwhelmed by acetic notes. Also, it is typically less expensive than wine.

Malty beers can be used as a replacement for liquid ingredients such as water in cookies and breads. Pale Ale or IPA style beers have an up-front bitterness that works well with items you would normally cook with citrus juices. Instead of lemon juice, try an IPA. Baste your chicken in a pale ale. Have any left over beer that has gone flat? Your cooking doesn’t care. Add it in there.

David Myers, chef and Austin Community College culinary arts professor, said he recommends thinking about the food versus the flavors of the beer. A beef or pork dish can stand up to a malty beer, but a chicken dish would be overpowered and needs a lighter beer such as a pilsner or pale ale. There are many recipes where an imperial stout or a smoked porter is used in making a glaze or sauce for a beef dish.

Wheeler of Rogness brewer Dan Wheeler and his wife Laurie said they use beer in much of their cooking.

“The (512) Pecan Porter was great in chocolate pecan cookies,” Laurie said.

She said they’ve also tried using an extra special bitters (ESB) style beer in making caramels, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout in brownies, and have even heard of using Rogness Yogi Spiced beer in apple pie brownies.

“The Yogi has the winter spices usually seen in apple pie or pumpkin pie,” Laurie said. “Using the Yogi instead of the liquid, such as water, will give the foods some great flavors.”

If you need to bring a side dish to the adult Thanksgiving dinner, consider a spiced up cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries, fresh orange, coriander, honey, sugar and some witbier (a wheat beer mainly brewed in Belgium and the Netherlands). The witbier will bring out the citrus, sweet and sour flavors of the orange and the cranberries.

If your mother accuses you of drinking too much beer, remember that the alcohol does evaporate during the cooking process. It’s a science project and you are the scientist. Craft beer is about experimenting with flavor combinations — there are no rules.

Slow-cooker cornbread chili

Recipe and photo by Melissa Skorpil • Staff Photojournalist

Transcribed by Era Sundar • Audio Editor

The holiday season and cooler weather not only call for wardrobe changes but menu updates as well. Nothing says warm and cozy like a savory bowl of chili.

This easy-to-prepare classic is a versatile crowd pleaser. It’s low in fat and vegetarian, yet hearty and satisfying enough for meat lovers. Two types of beans provide plenty of protein and fresh vegetables provide vitamins and minerals. Cheddar cheese and cornbread add a touch of rich indulgence.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• 1 onion

• 1 green pepper

• 1 packet of chili seasoning

• 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) diced tomatoes

• 1 can (14.5 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

• 1 can (14.5 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

• 8 oz. package corn bread mix

• 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (for more flavor use a sharp rather than mild cheddar)

• 1 tablespoon oil

• Serves 6 people with a prep time of about 5 hours using a slow cooker.

Here’s how to make it:

1. Using a sharp knife, dice the onion and green pepper into 1/4 inch pieces then saute them in 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat for 10 minutes until the green peppers glisten and the onions become translucent.

2. While the onions and peppers are being sauted, dice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch pieces and keep aside.

3. When the onion and pepper mixture is finished, it will be tender and aromatic. At this point, place it into the slow cooker and add the chili seasoning, diced tomatoes, and beans. Mix well. No additional cooking liquid is needed. The diced tomatoes provide all the moisture necessary.

4. Cover and simmer for 4 hours on low heat setting.

5. Prepare the cornbread batter according to the directions on the package.

6. Drop spoonfuls of cornbread batter on top of the chili mixture in the slow cooker and gently spread the batter so it covers the chili evenly.

7. Replace the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 30 – 45 minutes longer or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cornbread topping comes out clean.

8. Sprinkle the cornbread topping with shredded cheddar cheese, cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer until the cheese melts.

 

Check out our top four local bands to look for in October

Story by Daniel Wright • Reporter

Deep Time – indie rock

Photos Courtsey of Deep Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this age of music ruled by computer generated sounds and auto-tune, it’s refreshing to find a band like Deep Time that actually plays real instruments.

Comprised of Jennifer Moore on organ, guitar, and vocals and Adam Jones behind the drum kit, this Austin based duo is bursting into not only the Austin circuit but also the national scene in a big way. They released a self-titled LP, which is available on iTunes, last summer that does not sound like anything you would expect from two people out of Texas would make.

Their Facebook page describes their genre as “minimalist weirdo pop” and that is actually a pretty accurate description. They sound a lot like West Coast surfer music.

The guitar is almost always clean without any effects and Moore’s voice is deep and mellow.

Deep Time opened for Tune-yards earlier this year and they sound just as good live as they do recorded. Their show is all about the music and it is really great to see a band that focuses on their sound more than their image.

Similar to: The Drums.

Boy Friend – electro synthpop

Photo courtsey of Ben Aqua

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boy Friend is a band with a very modern, ambient sound.

Members Regina Palazollo and Sarah Brown reunited after leaving their former band, Sleep Over, to create excellent hipster music that is described as combining “a passion for dark fantasy, narratives, and love-sick lyrics.”

In February, they released a full-length LP titled Egyptian Wrinkle that is full of reverberating, harmonizing vocals, deep keys, and thumping drums.

Boy Friend’s music makes one feel as if you are floating in the ocean or drifting off to sleep. As contrary as it sounds, this doesn’t mean the band is boring. There is a lot here for a music fan to like.

This is thoughtful and almost poetic music that can bring up a lot of emotion.

For anyone looking to open his or her mind to something new and cerebral, this is the place to look.

One could easily see Boy Friend touring with bands like Beach House or Neon Indian. This duo is definitely worth checking out and being given a shot.

Similar to: Beach House.

White Denim –  psychadelic rock

WD Photo Credit Photo credit is Michael Hammett and Bobby Weiss_USE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been following White Denim for a few years now and they have become one of my favorite bands. This might be a bold statement, but they sound a lot like if Jimi Hendrix had come out of Texas. Now, singer/guitarist James Petralli may not be the new amazing guitarist Hendrix was, but the resemblance of their sounds is uncanny, especially on “Say What You Want.” White Denim has some songs that are pure, classic hard rock, at other times they can sound like a psychedelic mind trip, and then at other times they sound like an acoustic band. White Denim can’t be tied down to one specific type of genre. The two singles from their latest album D are called “Drug” and “Keys” and it is cool to see two different sounding songs come from the same album. Bassist Steven Terebecki, drummer Joshua Block, and other guitarist Austin Jenkins are all very talented musicians who seem to have mastered their instruments. Their live show is also incredible. They sound just as good as they do recorded and they’ve been known to play their sets without taking breaks, but seamlessly transitioning from song to song. White Denim is a modern take on classic rock and it is easy to be pulled into becoming a fan.

Similar to: Jimi Hendrix.

Kat Edmonson – singer/songwriter

Photo courtesy Alyson Fox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kat Edmonson’s music is best described as being eloquent and lovely. Her piano and acoustic guitar driven songs match perfectly with her light and airy voice. She has performed with very famous musicians, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Boz Scaggs, and Lyle Lovett.

Edmonson writes beautiful love songs that are jazzy and relaxing. This is the kind of music that can remind someone of that one special person we all have in our lives; songs that put pictures of slow-dancing couples in your head. Her song “I Don’t Know” represents her latest album “Way Down Low” perfectly.

It showcases her vocal talents as she hits high and low notes as well as her skills as a songwriter. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the music video for this song is really funny.

This music Edmonson has made is great because it can cater to all different age groups. It isn’t often that my parents and I can both agree on music, but we both like Edmonson.

Edmonson’s jazz/pop is a great break to the current chaos of the music world. It is very nice to take a step back and breathe with Kat Edmonson.

Similar to: Regina Spektorr