Daniel J. Herda

The Hobbit Part 1: An Unexpected Journey Review


With The Desolation of Smaug days away, I thought I would review the first installment of The Hobbit trilogy, after reading several negative reviews. 

I will warn of spoilers ahead. 


The Hobbit plants the seeds of The Lord of The Rings Trilogy and adds more mythology and characters to Middle Earth, with many differences that still make it stand-alone.

The opening sequence with Erebor and the shining golden mines combined with Howard Shores’ drums and chorus captures your attention immediately.

The viewer feels the essence of Middle Earth with this prologue as well as an understanding that this tale may be about a hobbit, but certainly not about an evil ring.


Smaug’s arrival with fast camera cuts of fiery destruction is quintessential, only showing him for split seconds at abstract angles, which creates mystery and intensity.

It makes the viewer feel like the dragon is pursuing them, never seeing it coming, as the flying monster is seconds from flashing light and incinerating you to ashes.

The sequence with elder Bilbo re-telling his journey all the way to the Lonely Mountain near his 111th birthday was a perfect transition from The Fellowship of the Ring to An Unexpected Journey, sprinkling the familiarity of the films from over a decade ago without over-spicing the flavor. (Like the third bowl of porridge, it’s just right.)

Martin Freeman plays an excellent Bilbo, expressing Mr. Baggins as a person who does not like guests but lacks the wisdom of experience that Ian Holm carries in Fellowship, which Freeman will gain when his journey to the Lonely Mountain is complete.

One could have been nervous getting used to seeing 13 dwarves on the screen, but the comedy and slow pace of their introduction makes it the opposite. We may forget some of the names after the first view, but you know which style each dwarf has based on their rhyming names and if they are always seen in pairs, like Fili and Kili or Oin and Gloin.  


Songs are what makes Lord of The Rings so special, it’s Tolkien’s poetry, and The Hobbit delivers many times. Especially with the baritone harmonics of ‘The Misty Mountains,’ which is a bolero of fire as the lyrics re-tell the tale of Smaug the Terrible and remind the viewer of the fiery prologue and the great journey ahead of our heroes.

For die-hard Lord of the Rings fans, The Hobbit is not without its extra loaves of lambas bread, as Peter Jackson re-visits locations like Moria, Rivendale, and Weathertop, which are all featured in Tolkien’s The Hobbit novel.

Especially the scene where Thorin Oakanshield and his fellow dwarf army take back Moria from the Orcs, and the personal rivalry between Thorin and The Pale Orc begins.

I personally cannot remember any heroic character being beheaded in The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, which added a darker essence to The Hobbit that lets the viewers know that this is no cartoon, but a serious display of barbaric war and gruesome carnage.

The foreshadowing of The Pale Orc’s return was great because it informs the viewers of something that Thorin and his company do not know, purposely making us wait for the next match-up, which does take your breath away when it occurs.

The theme when the dwarves sneak out of Rivendale and march onward was perfect. It marks the journey’s beginning, especially with the wide shot of the dwarves and the mountains behind them. (It reminded me of the 11 fellowship members stepping atop the hill after they departed from Rivendale in Fellowship of The Ring, which was cathartic.)

Bringing back themes from LOTR’s trilogy was done with perfection. Saruman’s theme, Galadriel’s theme, Gollum’s theme, Elrond’s theme, and of course the original Hobbit theme that was placed flawlessly whenever it was used, all making the movie even better.


 I specifically enjoyed the hobbit theme playing as Gandalf was speaking to Galadriel about why he chose Bilbo Baggins as the fourteenth member of their company.

 “Perhaps I’m afraid, and he gives me courage.”

The Goblin King is my only complaint, but the choreography of the dwarves escaping from the tunnels inside the mountain was executed with perfection and it makes me forget my little negative specificities that barely wager on the scales of my movie meter.

Gandalf also uses his staff to knock a piece of the mountain away, creating a rolling rock, which was pretty cool, even if it was only used for less than five seconds.

The scene with Bilbo and Gollum was epic. Watching the blue light from Sting slowly disappear as Gollum is beating the death out of a goblin was horrifying. (If Gollum were beating a person instead of a monster, the film would be rated R instead of PG13).

The Lord of the Rings theme playing when Bilbo discovers the ring of power was mesmerizing. It could have been embellished, but Howard Shore gives you just the right amount to take us back a decade or so to remind us of yet another long epic-journey.


The next phase of The Pale Orc versus Thorin was legendary. The serenade of the Nazgul theme orchestrating Thorin’s charge was powerful and mythical, combined with the surrounding flames it was magical. Calling the scene ‘heroic’ is an understatement.

We also get a nice ‘Eagles theme’ as the giant birds fly our heroes away to safety and soar above the snowy peaks of the Misty Mountains.

The ‘Crowning of the King’ theme from Return of the King playing behind Thorin’s apology to Bilbo combined with the Hobbit theme was glorious and sublime, a perfect ending to a first installment, especially with the wide shot of the Lonely Mountain in the distance, revealing itself as the Eagles wings disappear.

The final scene with Smaug covered in gold and awakening was petrifying. No music. No chorus to tell the audience to be afraid or shocked. Just golden-coins ringing, before a hallowed-growl resonates and annihilates all other sounds. 

Then an eye opens and the film fades to black.


Absolutely perfect.














JFK 50 Years Later

It has been five decades since that tragic afternoon on November 22, 1963, where the world was stunned as one of America’s greatest presidents was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, while riding in his black lincoln continental.

The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy has been a topic of discussion in the conversation of conspiracy theories, with many people not believing in Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman.

After Jack Ruby murdered Oswald on national television, President Lyndon B. Johnson established an investigation led by Chief Justice Earl Warren called ‘The Warren Commission.’

Judge Burt Griffin, retired Cuyahoga Country Common Pleas Court Judge and assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, mentioned the findings in the 889-page report.

The report was presented to President Johnson on September 24, 1964, ten months after the assassination of JFK.

 “No witness, unknown at the time of the original investigation, has come forward showing that any specific person assisted or encouraged either Oswald or Ruby in their murders,” said Griffin in his statement regarding the investigation.

 The Warren Commission was created to achieve four goals.

 The first was to establish the truth encompassing the assassination of President Kennedy and the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.

 The second goal was to satisfy the American public about the truth, also attempting to satisfy the most influential people.

 The third was to investigate the events in a manner that would not hinder national security or disrupt daily activities of the national government.

 The final goal was to conduct the investigation in a fashion that would prevent damaging the reputations of the individuals where criminal conduct did not exist.

 “There have been numerous reinvestigations and they’ve all come to agree that the Warren Commission was right,” said Griffin. “Unfortunately, nobody sells books by saying The Warren Commission was right.”

 Cleveland-Marshall College of Law will be hosting a forum on December 6, 2013 titled “JFK’s Assassination and the Law: 50 Years Later.”

 Griffin will be in attendance as well as other judges from the Cleveland area, including former Assistant Cuyahoga Country Prosecutor Steven Dever, former Cuyahoga County Public Defender Jerome Emoff, Cuyahoga Country Common Pleas Court Judge Brendan Sheean, Cleveland Municipal Court Judge C. Ellen Connally, Cleveland Municipal Court Magistrate William Vodrey and Cleveland State law professor Jonathon Witmer-Rich.

 Witmer-Rich teaches law and terrorism, criminal law and criminal proceedings. He spoke about the overall goal of the forum

 “There are still many Americans who have doubts about what happened to President Kennedy,” Witmer-Rich said. “Our goal is to allow people to examine the work of the Warren Commission and decide if their conclusions are reliable and trustworthy.”

 Witmer-Rich said that there is plenty of evidence that supports the idea that Oswald was the lone gunman, but the fact that Oswald was killed by Ruby, who has connections with the Mafia, does create some suspicion.

 The program will also evaluate what would have happened if Oswald had been put on trial instead of being killed two days after Kennedy’s assassination.

 “Whether or not Oswald could have gotten a fair trial in a Dallas courtroom is something that we are going to also discuss,” said Witmer-Rich.

 Kennedy’s fame not only resides in his assassination but in his achievements as well.

 An area of success for Kennedy was his involvement with major civil rights bills.

 “The groundwork for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were some of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century and I believe that Kennedy deserves some credit for that,” said Witmer-Rich.









Decades after The Dreyfus Affair

Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French army artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent, was wrongfully sentenced to life in prison for espionage in 1894. His name was finally cleared in 1906 when evidence suggested the proper guilty party, who was a man named Ferdinand Esterhazy.

French newspapers flooded the public with details of treason and conspiracy. It was not long until the majority of the French people were convinced of Dreyfus’s guilt. 

France was mainly Catholic, which meant that many of the French people were quickly geared to persecute Dreyfus for not only his crime but for his Jewish ancestry.

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage partnered with Cleveland State University and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law to host a panel discussion on the Dreyfus affair.

The discussion was split into two parts. One was a lecture from attorneys, professors, and judges and the other was a Q and A session engaging audience members. 

The audience was comprised of lawyers, scholars and students. The seats inside the Maltz theater room were completely filled. People also stood in the back during the discussion.   

Jill Rembrandt, director of Education and Public Programs at The Maltz Museum, organized the panel discussion and contributed to the Dreyfus exhibit.

“We are very excited of our Dreyfus exhibit,” said Rembrandt.

The museum put together a tour of Dreyfus’s life, with photos and written descriptions hanging on the walls. Patrons were able to learn more about France in the early 19th century and how the Dreyfus affair impacted the country.

One of the topics discussed was how the media covers religious minority groups today.

 Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, spoke about discrimination against religious minority groups as well as the Dreyfus affair.

Dettelbach shared his views on the destruction at the Toledo mosque, where ex-marine Randy Linn received 20-years in prison after admitting to setting fire to the mosque.

“Linn was asked where he got the ideas for his crimes and said he kept seeing negative coverage of Muslims on FOX 8,” said Dettelbach.

 Doron M. Kalir, Clinical Professor of Law at C-M Law, was born in Israel and mentioned how he grew up in the shadow of the Dreyfus affair.

Kalir said the ‘power of the press’ was the first lesson he learned about the Dreyfus affair and that the second was anti-Semitism.

 “The emancipation that allowed Jews to become an integral part of the French society demonstrated their presence and successes in professional fields,” Kalir said. “A new sort of jealousy and hatred was geared towards Jews by the French people, which came out during the Dreyfus affair.”

 Students and lawyers gathered in the lobby to discuss the Dreyfus affair before taking the tour in the museum’s exhibit.

Brad Thiede, a communication student studying online from the University of Phoenix, saw the event on his school’s website and said he would not miss it.

Thiede mentioned that he has a Muslim friend who taught him how to live and pray, which changed his life and brought him back to school.

“Anti-Semitism is the same as anti-Muslim and I usually don’t listen to the media when they are stereotyping,” Thiede said. “I usually get more than one source to prevent an incomplete picture.”

 Stuart A. Friedman, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge, spoke about how the French newspapers covered the Dreyfus affair more like propaganda and less like journalism.

 “We have institutions in this country today that make an incident like the Dreyfus affair less likely to happen,” said Friedman. 


Is Texting in Class Becoming a Problem?


Cleveland State University’s students and instructors are all affected by the use and overuse of cellphones, with many different opinions on all sides of the theory that cellphone addiction is an increasingly major problem, especially in regards to sending and receiving text messages while inside the classroom.

Baylor University, a nationally ranked research institution in Texas, released an article titled “Cellphone addiction similar to Compulsive Buying and Credit Card Misuse, According to Baylor Study.” 

In the article, Baylor University mentioned previous studies of cellphone addiction, saying that young adults send 109.5 text messages daily, receive 113 text messages daily, and check their cells 60 times daily, interacting with their phones at least seven hours of each day.

Dr. Barbara Hoffman, professor of anthropology and director of the visual anthropology center, currently teaches introduction to the cultures of Africa and the anthropology of religion-magic-and witchcraft, and spoke about how cell phones are affecting her classes.

 Hoffman said she noticed that cellphone use was becoming a serious problem and initiated a ‘no cellphone policy’ in her classes’ syllabus in fall 2012.

 “I tried telling my students that I did not want to see cellphones in their hands or on their desks, and that it is disrespectful and disruptive, but they continued anyway so I implemented my policy,” said Hoffman.

 Hoffman informed that the next step in her policy would be to put specific consequences into her syllabus because she realizes that students are still not getting the message.

Kelly Curley, a junior majoring in sociology and taking four classes, said that there is a ‘no cell phone policy’ in two of her four classes.

She mentioned that she believes those polices exist because students are texting too often in class and it is disrespectful to both the instructor and other students.

 “I send and receive hundreds of text messages daily,” Curley said.

Curley said that she goes through major cell-phone-withdrawal in her classes with the ‘no cell phone policy’ and is constantly wondering who is texting her when she does not have her phone with her.

Hoffman commented that it is so hard to get students to leave their phones alone, for even an hour, and that cellphone addiction is growing rapidly and affecting our youth in a negative manner.

“I caught two students with an iPhone taking a self picture of themselves the other day and I have no idea why they would do that during class,” Hoffman said. “I called them out on it and next time I will ask them to leave.”

Peter Doherty, a sophomore and communication major with five classes this semester, said he rarely sends or receives text messages, but loves to snap-chat and does it all day.

 Snap-chat is a program on a smart-phone where the user takes a picture of his or her self, types a message with the photo, and sends it to one or more people.

 “With classes that are more than an hour, I find it hard to concentrate, so I find myself snap-chatting because it’s hard to pay attention,” Doherty said. “I hide my phone so they won’t see me using it and so far I have not been caught.”

Doherty said he would rather call someone than text, and said he likes snap chat because it is more personal.

Curley informed that it is easier to text someone rather than to call them, but admitted that missing the tone of voice in the conversation can be problematic between communicators.

“When someone texts ‘Its fine’ it could mean so many different things, and it depends on your mood and you assume the tone,” Curley said.

Hoffman said that actual physiological changes occur in the brain when someone gets used to interacting with their cellphone, regarding endorphins of excitement that occur whenever someone receives a text message on a regular basis.

“Many students today are unable to look me in the eye and connect when conversing because they don’t do that with their friends,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman worries that younger generations will not be able to get the same thrill from face-to-face communication because they have a pre-developed taste for texting that will be difficult to banish.

Heather Bort, nursing instructor teaching OB (gynecology) at the Cleveland State hospital and 12-year worker at Metro Health in Maternal Child, had comments on the topic of students who text during class.

Bort said that she does not have a problem with her students using their cell phones as long as they keep them away from the patients.

 “Usually, if they want to use their phones, I ask them to use them downstairs in the nursing lounge,” Bort said. “If it does not get out of control, like every five minutes they have to leave or something, I am fine with it.”

 Bort said that she has had problems with students texting and talking on their phones in the past and that since they are dealing with patients who require medial treatment, it is more problematic than a distraction because her students are all assigned to patient care.

She spoke about an incident where she was called to Labor and Delivery from the unit manager about one of her students on her cellphone in a heated argument to a point where the staff had to leave the nursing lounge during lunch.

 “The manager tried to get her attention and she was so involved in her conversation that she did not even know that somebody else was around,” Bort said. “This was not good.”

Bort did mention that there are some benefits with students using their cell phones. She added that nursing students have their drug books on their smart phones and can access information relatively quickly and can do research on medication and diagnosis.

 “Technology is at their fingertips, something that I did not have when I was in school,” Bort said. “The downfall is that they text students in other classes.”

Braden Williams, a junior and finance major taking 14 credit hours this semester, is on the Cleveland State rowing team while he juggles his four classes.

 He said he sends and receives about 40 text messages a day and mentioned that he never uses his cell phone during his classes.

 “My classes have a small amount of students and it’s harder to get away with it,” Williams said. “Even in my larger classes in the past, I rarely used texting because I was always interested in the material and tried to make a good impression with the teacher.”

 Williams said that all of his classes have a ‘no texting policy’ in them, for many reasons including cheating. He specifically mentioning his African Culture class and added that his instructor will call her students out if she sees them texting during class time.

 Williams said that the fear of embarrassment is one of the many reasons that he does not use his phone during classes. He mentioned that texting is a distraction to him when his teachers are lecturing with power point.

 “When its dark in the room and the lights are off those bright flashes from smartphones glow around me, it takes my mind from the material,” Williams said.

Dr. David Elkins, interim chair and associate professor in political science, teaches classes in the American subfield of political science-specifically in public policy and state and local government-and said he has guidelines in his syllabus regarding cellphone use in his classroom.

 Elkins said that he instructs his students to set their wireless device to ‘silence’ or ‘vibrate’ and mentioned that he has only had to address students using their cellphones during the class maybe twice a semester.

 “I start each class by reminding my students to set their phones to a function that will not disturb me or their colleagues,” Elkins said.  “I do it to also remind myself to set my phone to vibrate or silence because I could also be disturbed by my own phone.”

Elkins said that he does not have a problem with students texting in class because he has to roll with the times and mentioned that asking students to turn off their phones completely is not a good idea because they could be using the wireless device for appropriate classroom reasons.

 He further added that there are a variety of reasons in which having a Smartphone in class can have benefits, like students are able to look up terms and fact-check things he says, and commented that he knows when a student is using the phone to learn or using it to text.

 “I don’t think a student realizes that when I am up there teaching that I can see everything they do,” said Elkins.


Erin Mason, a sophomore and music major taking 16 credit hours this semester, mentioned that she is not allowed to use her phone in two of her four classes.

 Mason added that she sends and receives about 30 text messages daily and further said that she uses her phone during class and realizes it is a distraction to herself.

 “I don’t carry on conversations when I am in class, but I will quickly respond to a text,” said Mason.

 Mason likes to have her phone on her at all times in case she needs to contact anyone and said that there is a small amount of separation anxiety when she does not have it.

 Mason noticed that the younger students who are always on their phones are withdrawn from the lecture and seem to participate less in the classroom discussions.

 Elkins said that he noticed that the younger generations are using their iPhones and Smartphones more than older generations and added that it is simply the means in which younger people communicate.

 “Younger students have different ways of communicating than I am accustomed to,” said Elkins.

 Elkins informed that it cost around $1400 to pay for a Cleveland State class and however the student wants to use that class is up to him or her on whether or not they want to waste their money.

 Elkins further added that cellphone addiction is something that is possibly affecting younger generations because these devices are seamless to them, while they appear to be newer to older generations who did not grow up with them.

 “Cellphones to me are like Spok’s ‘tricorder’ or Dick Tracy’s ‘watch-phone’ and in some cases are smaller and more elegant than any of those things,” Elkins said. “We are higher-order primates prone to compulsive behavior and cellphone-use will be more addicting for some and less for others.”

 Elkins said it is amusing to him when he sees social-messages telling younger people to ‘turn off their cellphones and talk to each other’ and added that it maybe is something that needs to happen.

The End of an Era?


By Daniel Herda

Polar bears are the largest land carnivore on earth, feeding on seals and located in the Arctic Circle and sometimes as far south as Newfoundland.

            They are known to drift across ice shelves at great distances when traveling from one place to the other and can live on a frozen water source for several months as long as the sustenance of seals is plenty and catchable. 

            Biologists have estimated about 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the world, which is decreasing every year. A suspected reason for these bears vanishing is the impact of climate change and how the ice breaking can predict early hibernation routines.

            University of Alberta’s polar bear research in Hudson Bay revealed that polar bears are returning to shore earlier in the summer (around June) and later in the fall (around November) to return to the ice masses.

            Since seals are mostly hunted on sea ice, the more time the polar bears stay on land the more time they have to go without food.

            Some cubs do not survive to adulthood.


            Which means the extinction of this species is inevitable if climate change continues to alter the lives of these bears.

            Seth Cherry, University of Alberta lead researcher, compiled over 10 years of data measuring and monitoring polar bear movement patterns across sea ice. Cherry’s research discovered how the melting sea ice predicts polar bear migration. 

            “These are precisely the kind of changes one would expect to see as a result of the warming climate,” said Cherry.

            The population of the Hudson Bay polar bears has declined since the ‘90s, numbering around 900 bears today. The polar bear’s diet is also changing.

            Cherry said climate-induced change causing sea ice to melt affects the overall health of the polar bears.

            The research was published on March 19, 2013, in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Animal Ecology.

            Unfortunately, in my opinion, the bears cannot verbally express the feelings of starvation to mankind and have no way to communicating their plea for help.

            The mothers who lose their cubs to starvation only experience confusion, loneliness and fear, because they do not know what is happening to them.  


We Are The World


By Daniel Herda

From January 2013 to September 2013, 47 million cars were made worldwide, with less than 10% of them being hybrid cars (which produces less emissions and are designed to preserve fossil fuels). By the end of the year the total will be near 55 million, according to worldometers.com. 

So how can the United States help save our planet by going green, with using the 1.2 trillion dollars that the U.S has in its budget?

Well, the cheapest hybrid car cost $20,000, so now it is simple math. 

$1.2 trillion dollars is enough money to buy 60 million hybrid cars (at $20,000 each), which is 5 million more than the cars produced annually. 

Producing nothing but hybrid cars would be a positive way to ensure our planet’s future and would drastically reduce the carbon dioxide tearing through the ozone layer, with more fossil fuels being saved each year that spending $1.2 trillion dollars would ensure. 

Maybe the United States Congress should pass a law that outlaws the production of any car that is not a hybrid. 

Perhaps car companies will be upset, and people will be irritated because they have less free will in choosing the car they want to purchase, but if we care about the lives of our children then perhaps our greed can be forfeited. 

When cars first came out, only the Ford Model T was produced and people were just happy to drive. 

Earth has no future if fossil fuels are depleted, and like poking a small hole in a milk carton, the draining will continue until the milk is gone. 

If the United States spends $1.2 trillion each year on 60 million hybrid cars then the carton will be plugged and the milk carton will start to look half full. 

So let me ask you, how should we spend our tax dollars?

If you care about life, you already know the answer. 

Discussion on “Doc” Holiday at CSU

            By Daniel Herda

            On Thursday, March 21, the Michael Schwartz Library presented a lively conversation about Mary Doria Russell’s latest novel called “Doc” as part of its Brown Bag Book Discussion Series and Local Author Book Talk for 2013.

            The book centers around on the later years of John Henry Holiday, the protagonist—a gambler, gunfighter and dentist in the American Old West—when her arrives in Texas looking for work and with the hope that the warm air will cure is tuberculosis. image

            Holiday’s profession as a dentist gave him the nickname “Doc” Holiday. His alliance with Wyatt Earp, one of the toughest sheriffs in the Old West, against the murdering-gang of cowboys earned him his fame. Doc and Wyatt’s famous showdown at the OK Corral has been fictionalized in feature films like “Tombstone,” “Wyatt Earp,” and “The Gunfight at the OK Corral.”  

            All three films have a focus on the famous gunfight, while Doria’s novel focuses on the lighter side of Doc’s life and uses the character as an eye into the west to give her readers the experience of being with Doc.


            Glenda Thornton, director of the Michael Schwartz Library, led the book discussion by asking those in attendance their thoughts on the novel.

            Thornton opened the discussion by revealing a connection with Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone With The Wind,” and “Doc” Holiday. She talked about how Mitchell fashioned some of her characters from Holiday’s family members.

After the introductory remarks, Thornton turned the floor to over to Professor Jane Dugan of the English Department. Dugan started by saying that everyone in her book club liked the novel.image

            “Describing Doc’s relationship to his illness, sense of depression and money problems presented a more off-stage glance at Doc, which was wonderful,” said Dugan.

            A topic that led to animated discussion was about how Doc was able to be such a skilled gunfighter and what about his upbringing was able to make that possible for him.

            Barb Gauthrer, a brown bag book club member, mentioned that Holiday was very talented with his hands because he used them constantly through most of his professions.

            “He was a dentist, a piano player, a card player and a gunfighter, practicing all of those things daily probably made him extremely coordinated,” Gauthrer said.

            Holiday’s physical descriptions were fictionalized well by Russell in the novel, according to Thornton. Thornton asked the club members what they thought about the choice of a male protagonist by a female author.

            Professor Dugan mentioned how she analyzes this issue in her English classes in her response to a female writing about a male protagonist.

            “You need to have an authenticity in your main character and writers like Russell can go a little beyond what they know and it feels right to the reader,” Dugan said.

            Professor Michael Wells, president of the Friends of the Michael Schwartz Library, spoke to the group about why he thinks Russell’s description of the Old West feels so authentic.

            He mentioned how research was combined with creativity to write the novel.

            “This is imagination rooted in American history,” Wells says.

            Wells said he stresses research from multiple sources in his assigned papers to his students and is curious about the amount of research in the creation of “Doc.”

            Mary Doria Russell is scheduled to attend the next Brown Bag Book Discussion series on April 18, at noon, in room 503 of Rhodes tower, where audience members can ask her questions about her past and present novels.

            Thornton said that all Brown Bag Book Club meetings are open to the public, Cleveland State students and all fans of literature.




Young Musicians Jam with Jazz Heritage Orchestra


By Daniel Herda

On Saturday, March 16, the Jazz Heritage Orchestra and high school jazz bands from across the country performed the “Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Band and Festival” inside the Main Classroom Auditorium.

The late Dr. Howard A. Mims, former director of the Black Studies Program at Cleveland State, founded JHO in 1998. His goal was to preserve the great jazz masters who were the original innovators in the art form of jazz.

Dr. Michael Williams, director of the Black Studies Department, hosted the event. Williams opened with a speech on the importance of engaging the youth into culture and jazz, speaking to a crowded room and a nearly sold out auditorium.

            “Nowhere else in the city of Cleveland will you get a collaboration of talented youngsters like you have tonight performing here at Cleveland State,” said Williams.

The bands were from Shaw High School, Cleveland School of the Arts, Cleveland Music Settlement and the Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy in Camden, NJ.


The auditorium remained filled as the four schools played jazz music for nearly two hours. All of the high schools received standing ovations when they were finished, especially “Young Jams” from Cleveland Musical Settlement directed by Ken LeGrande.

The high school that received the longest standing ovation was Camden New Jersey, directed by Jamal Dickerson. Dickerson said his musicians traveled hundreds of miles to perform at the “Jazz at Lincoln Center” concert and stayed long after their performance. They played music by Miles Davis and featured a long bongo solo that fired up the crowd and received a long applause. The audience cheered the Camden school on for two encores after they were finished.

          “We’re going to play one last tune because were excited to see the Jazz Heritage Orchestra play,” Dickerson said as he heard cheers for more songs.

During the set changes, Williams humored the audience with jokes while musicians set up their saxophones, trumpets, trombones, clarinets, drums, xylophones, keyboards and guitars. He also spoke about JHO and the talent they have.

            “We have the best big band in the country,” he said. 

JHO is considered one of the top orchestras in the U.S. and was chosen to host the site because of its work with young musicians.

Under the leadership of JHO band director Dennis Reynolds, JHO has performed with jazz legends like Benny Golson, Clark Terry, Nancy Wilson and Vanessa Rubin.

Reynolds spoke about Dr. Howard A. Mims and his dream to take outstanding musicians and create a jazz program that would continue to become popular.

            “I’ve had many conversations with Dr. Mims, and this is what he wanted, and I do believe we pulled it off,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds plays the trumpet for JHO and introduced the other band members as the concert continued. JHO played pieces titled “Shiny Stockings” and “Fried Buzzard.”

JHO has recorded two CDs, “Steppin Out” and “Bouncing with Benny,” and the Cleveland State Black Studies Program holds the copyright to both.

The high school bands from Saturday’s performance will be recommended to participate in a national competition in New York, NY.


Bernie Moreno speaks about Student Success



By Daniel Herda

On Friday, March 8, inside the Student Center, Bernie Moreno, newly appointed board of trustee member at Cleveland State and President of the Collection Auto Group, spoke to an audience of students and businesses men and women about his own experiences and how someone can be successful in the business world.

Governor John R. Kasich appointed Moreno to the Cleveland State Board of Trustees from June 2011 to May 2018.  Prior to being appointed to the University’s Governing Board, Moreno was on the Board of Directors of the Cleveland State University Foundation, Inc.                                                                                               

Moreno opened the lecture with a history lesson about his past and his life-changing experiences that put him on a course to the auto business. Moreno was born in Bogotá, Columbia and moved to the U.S. at age five.                                                               

 When Moreno was 14 he wrote a letter to the hiring chairman of General Motors about wanting to become chairman of the board of GM when he grows up. Weeks later, the chairman wrote Moreno back and answered his questions in a long letter.                   

Moreno’s passion for cars eventually drove him to the University of Michigan where he studied cars and business in the heart of Detroit.                                                            

After college, Moreno worked for a major Saturn and Mercedes Benz dealership for twelve years, which is now ranked number six in the nation. He spoke about how his work led him on a pathway to Cleveland, Ohio.                                                                     

“You have these intersections in life and you have to make a good decision, sometimes not knowing where it will take you,” said Moreno.                                                

On May 12, 2005, Moreno bought a struggling Mercedes-Benz dealership in Cleveland and turned it to the largest Mercedes-Benz dealership in the Central U.S. Moreno said the previous owner was selling 25 cars every four months and his company turned it to 60 cars every three weeks. Moreno mentioned that his car company does not have his name on it. 

"We are not a car company, we are a customer service organization," Moreno said.

While answering questions from audience members, Moreno spoke about the future for automobiles. He said the robotic car has been tested and works, but there are no highway structures to support it and is still many decades from becoming a reality.        

He also mentioned hydrogen fuel cell technology that powers cars on water and hydrogen and could be available within in the next ten years.                                      

 “Technology is the future and cars are getting smarter,” said Moreno.                     

Moreno said the key to a successful career is making consistent decisions and to lead by example. He said job applicants who have positive personalities and a college degree have a better chance of being hired than those who do not.                                             

“If your goal is to make money you won’t succeed, you have to have passion,” said Moreno.                                                                                                                                 

June Taylor, Cleveland State board member and the board’s only woman and minority, was in charge of organizing the event. She said that it is the responsibility of every Cleveland State student to meet and network with someone like Bernie Moreno.

 She had a specific message to help students succeed in the real world.

“Put in time to access events where you can learn about success from the stories of someone who has experienced it,” Taylor said.

Moreno said he is proud to be a trustee and a board member at Cleveland State and feels that the city of Cleveland is growing with the future of education. He said that companies will come to Cleveland if there is a growing educational work force and stressed the importance of knowledge and engaged learning.

 “If it means pain and misery, get the degree,” said Moreno.

Moreno has added 24 luxury car brands since his 2005 Mercedes-Benz purchase and is planning on opening a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Kentucky next year.









Africa Day Celebration at Cleveland State



By Daniel J. Herda

Cleveland State Atrium hosted Africa Day and Remembering My Roots Celebration with presentations from professors and African culture.

The African Students Association helped decorate the event, covering the tables with red, green and yellow tablecloths, representing the colors of many African flags, including Mali, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon and the Congo.

The event opened with a humorous and sensitive movie about relationships, with the people on the screen confessing to the audience about how their culture affects those they love and what they have learned from their own experiences. 

Professor Abu Nasara, Director for Educational Technologies, gave a slideshow presentation on his most recent trip to his homeland of Nigeria and spoke about the importance of connecting cultures.

“I teach technology classes here, and when I visit Nigeria I fix the technological issues at my old school, I try to stress the message that we are all the same,” said Nasara.

Nasara’s slideshow featured pictures of his large family (called a clan), children at his school and anthills that reached over fifteen feet from the ground.

Anthropology Associate Professor Barbara Hoffman spoke about the history of African culture with a lecture on African families and how deep their roots are.

“Western ideas about kin and love are very different in Africa, a clan of family members can last for generations because so many people are in it,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman mentioned that the sizeable gathering inside the Student Atrium lacked a larger number of Cleveland State students, and she was expecting a more diverse crowd.  

“I wish more people had invested some of their educational energy in learning about Africa because it is the motherland of us all,” said Hoffman.

The ASA plans to host African Nights, an evening of music and dancing, on April 5, 2013, and encourages Cleveland State students to get involved in the upcoming event.