These are unprecedented times; there is no denying it. We have come a long way from the day the first case of COVID-19 was reported. The world has been undergoing a different phase where life is confined to the rooms with nothing more than monotony to offer. Pandemics have occurred in the past, but this one changed the outlook of the whole planet. People have spent most of their time indoors without having even a slight glimpse of the outside world. This is a period likely to go down in history, being commemorated for the loss of millions of souls over the effect of a virus. As we have moved on to a new year, everyone is looking for positive signs to raise their own faith in the government and medicine. Projections created by the various domains seem to help humans through the stages of the pandemic, but the vaccine needs to act effectively on the body for everyone to be able to stroll through the streets. Although the beliefs and findings may differ from one group to another, the common forecasted aspect is the life of this pandemic. Almost everyone agrees on the fact that it is here to stay. The masks and sanitizers must become an indispensable part of your life, at least for the next few years. Let us dive into the details of the pandemic’s impact on 2021 and the coming years.
There are no beds in Bromley 806. Instead, plush armchairs and a comfy couch crowd a tiny TV that’s usually tuned in to re-runs of...
These are unprecedented times; there is no denying it. We have come a long way...
There are no beds in Bromley 806. Instead, plush armchairs and a comfy couch crowd a tiny TV that’s usually tuned in to re-runs of “COPS.” A Taylor Swift poster sits primly atop the built-in...
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If you ever doubted the power of a television show’s cult fandom, then you better check yourself, because the masses have spoken and now they’re makin’ movies. “They,” specifically being “Veronica Mars” fans, who donated more than $3 million dollars through the Kickstarter program to help VM creator Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell, who played the titular perky blonde sleuth during the show’s three year run, fund a full-length feature film. Here’s a quick Kickstarter for Dummies: launched in 2009, the program uses crowd funding, a.k.a. donations from fans or just regular people, to get projects made. It’s a popular strategy for documentaries, but the strength and speed of which “Veronica Mars” diehards threw cash at the system has caused ripples across the pop culture world, particularly among those who are still irked by that weird-ass “Lost” ending or left unsatisfied even after “Serenity.” Rumors about other Kickstarter series (Joss Whedon’s “Serenity” predecessor “Firefly,” Bryan Fuller’s “Pushing Daisies” and HBO western drama “Deadwood” chief among them) immediately hit the Twittersphere, and while no other shows have officially announced a similar campaign, our daydreams went into overdrive. There are far too many too-good-to-be-gone shows we’d love to resurrect (miss you already, “30 Rock”), but here are four that we need to see likerightnow. Get those piggy banks ready, guys. — Hot dudes in armor going off to battle? Where have we been seeing this lately? (Westeros). Photo from HBO. Hot dudes in armor going off to battle? Where have we been seeing this lately? (Westeros). Photo from HBO. “Rome” | Blake Tan The “Game of Thrones” craze is at critical mass. Folks who’ve only heard of George R.R. Martin in passing are flocking to HBO’s grand fantasy series like flies to Wyman Manderly’s Frey pies. But the venture into Westeros wasn’t HBO’s first ranging into the realm of swords, lavish costuming and costly sets. Before King’s Landing, there was “Rome.” Starring Ciaran Hinds as Julius Caesar and James Purefoy as Mark Antony, as well as soldiers Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo (Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson, respectively), “Rome” took us to the Eternal City during the momentous events that led to the fall of the Republic. The show had comparative rates of backstabbing and plotting as “Game of Thrones” with equally compelling characters (and, don’t forget, this is HBO after all, so — equally gratuitous sex). Unfortunately, after a two-season run, “Rome” was not renewed by HBO, which cited the series’ humongous expense. And the show’s Italian set at Cinecitta film studios, which was called the largest standing film set in the world, burned down. But in 2008, Ray Stevenson commented that a “Rome” film was in development and would likely have featured his character Pullo and McKidd’s Lucius Vorenus, but more recent news indicate that the project has stalled. Do I want to revisit “Rome” in the cineplex? That’s a silly question. Of course we want to revisit the Eternal City. The show only touched on Caesar’s rise and fall in the first season and Augustus’ rise to power in the second – the Roman Empire as a setting is rich with film opportunities. Viva la Roma! — There’s no way in hell highschoolers are actually this attractive — which is why we love them. Photo from Wikimedia. There’s no way in hell highschoolers are actually this attractive — which is why we love them. Photo from Wikimedia. “The O.C.” | Carina Belles Without “The O.C.” we wouldn’t have Chrismukkah or Peter Gallagher’s amazing eyebrows. Whiny suburbanites would have never discovered Death Cab, and we wouldn’t have the adorable ball of sunshine that is Rachel Bilson (or that CW show where she plays a veterinarian who can somehow afford Manolos). But that’s not why “The O.C.” deserves its own movie. Not only did it practically re-invent the teen drama, the show’s creator, Josh Schwartz (also the mastermind behind the “Gossip Girl’” TV adaptation), sold his first screenplay for $1 million when he was a junior in college. And the movie never even got made. (Yeah, what have you done with your life recently?) Anyway, Josh deserves his movie. And “Fun Size” doesn’t count. “The O.C.’” and its gorgeous cast, outrageous plot lines and self-aware sense of humor revitalized a genre. I know Bilson, Adam Brody (a.k.a. your eternal boyfriend Seth Cohen) and Ben McKenzie would totally be down for another goofy adventure as Orange County’s most unrealistically beautiful teens. The only downside? We’d have to continue acknowledging the sadness of Mischa Barton’s life, which would probably just make her sadder. Whatever, that is such a Marissa Cooper move. — So colorful, so corny, so perfect. Bring it back. Photo from 2ndfirstlook. So colorful, so corny, so perfect. Bring it back. Photo from 2ndfirstlook. “Pushing Daisies” | Ross Dickerhoof I’ve had plenty of shows I like get cancelled before their time, but none of those incidents broke my heart like the cancellation of “Pushing Daisies.” I’d always thought of it as The Little Show That Could, a charming, quirky crime-solving fairy tale that magically survived the 2007-2008 Writer’s Strike and came back stronger than ever. But, alas, ABC axed it due to low ratings, so they had to slap together a finale on short notice. I wish I’d had some of Ned’s delicious pie to fill the void left by its cancellation.But now that the “Veronica Mars” campaign has been so successful, I have new hope for “Pushing Daisies.” The idea of a revival or a movie provides all sorts of delicious possibilities. Will the power of Ned’s touch be revealed to the world? How will Chuck’s aunts react to that last-episode revelation? Will Emerson and his daughter finally be reunited? Will Olive find love? I don’t know. But I trust Bryan Fuller to give us all an ending that’s not only the ending we need, but also the ending the show deserves. And the best part about all of this? That might actually happen! Emphasis on “might,” but I won’t stop hoping. I’d love to visit the Pie Hole one more time, and I don’t think I’m alone on that. — Um, we spy pre-Sexiest Man Alive Bradley Cooper, whattt. Photo from Alias-TV. Um, we spy pre-Sexiest Man Alive Bradley Cooper, whattt. Photo from Alias-TV. “Alias” | Holly Coletta Sorry “Covert Affairs” and “Chuck,” but “Alias” was the best spy TV show of all time. The J.J. Abrams action-dramedy followed the adventures of secret agent Sydney Bristow (pre-Affleckified Jennifer Garner) as she kicked, screamed and badass’ed her way across the globe. “Alias” was more than a typical drama set in the offices of a CIA-esque division, though – it was knee-deep in Abrams-y mythology thanks to the series-long arc about Da Vinci wannabe Milo Rambaldi and his miscellaneous world-saving or world-destroying riddles and devices. “Alias” featured an ensemble of heroes, sidekicks and villains who served as prototypes for typical Abrams TV: no one was inherently good or evil, and character development was just as fast-paced and engaging as Syd’s rooftop chases. Plus, Sydney got to wear a different sexy outfit and use a different sexy accent for almost every episode. “Alias” wrapped up with a finale that was maybe a little too tidy-box-with-a-bow for a series that made its name from cliffhangers and explosions, which is why a movie should never, ever be out the question. Abrams has since proved himself to be king of the (pop culture) world, but let’s not forget that his first forays into film were action-heavy (um, hello, “Mission Impossible 3”). Even if he’s too busy Spielberg-ing the universe or flexing his fingers in Vulcan salutes, he could serve as a producer and hand the directorial reigns to someone else in his circle of nerdy/geeky/perfect bros. At least one of the show’s major villains, David Anders’ charismatic, bratty, sneaky Julian Sark, survived, so it’s not difficult to picture a film that focuses on an op-ed mission that brings back Garner and TV-hubby Michael Vartan, plus Syd’s BFF/partner Dixon, and geeky comic relief tech guy Marshall. Victor Garber is absolute perfection as Syd’s stone-faced, warm-hearted dad, and though he SPOILER perishes in the series finale, he could come back in flashbacks or something. Please. The entire series is currently available on Netflix Instant Stream, but that is not enough. I need an “Alias” movie to happen, even if it’s down the road, when one of Jen Garner’s adorable daughters is old enough to play a baby Bristow.
Young Javarez Willis spent all day searching. Great-grandma told him they were hard to spot, but he was determined to find one. He always knew that “life was a gamble.” He needed all the luck he could get. Finally, “Bean” spots one. Sprouting up from the dry Texas soil, there it was: a four-leaf clover. He couldn’t wait to show his great-grandmother. “I gave it to her,” he said. “She thought it was the best present ever. It probably was…” Willis’ grandmother may have passed away years ago, but she is immortalized on his right bicep. Amidst a cloudy sea of roulette wheels, dice, diamonds and pool balls, there stands a lone four-leaf clover. The four leaf clover Bean Willis has as a permanent tribute to his grandmother. (Photo by Mark Clavin) Bean Willis’ tattoo of a four-leaf clover is a permanent tribute to his great-grandmother. (Photo by Mark Clavin) Willis is not alone. Eight of the fifteen players listed on the Bobcats official roster have at least one tattoo. Some, like junior guard Nick Kellogg and sophomore forward Treg Setty, keep their ink discreet. But most show their tats with pride, as is the case with junior Jon Smith. Smith entire right arm is engulfed in a sleeve, or a group of tattoos that cover the entire arm. The product of four to five hours of handiwork, the swirling design on his forearm is certainly one of the most unique on the team. “The whole bottom half represents the seven days of creation,” says Smith. The churning haze contains seven knots, representing each day. Spinning from the galaxies are planets: Earth and Saturn. Connecting the two is an angel. Or is it a winged Vince Carter? Smith’s design is not the only one that features a crossover between religion and basketball. D.J. Cooper’s left bicep features an image of Jesus with his arms outstretched. The Messiah’s right hand palms a basketball. Cooper also marked his arms with the phrase “God’s Gift.” He keeps it as a “reminder” as to the talents he has been given. The majority of the Bobcats’ tattoos feature some sort of religious image or symbolism. Sophomore forward Kadeem Green double-dipped to express his faith. “I am a believer in God and Christ,” said Green. “I want to represent him at all times.” Green’s right bicep features a pair of folded hands wrapped in a string of prayer beads. Beads also permanently adorn his right wrist. Green also inked inspirational phrases to keep him motivated. Cursive font across his chest reads “Sky’s The Limit,” a slogan that his coaches have promised to him through hard work. He also keeps the word “Dream” on his left wrist to remind him of his goals. The KG on the other side? His initials, not a shout out. “The real KG, right here. The original.” Reggie Keely also keeps himself motivated with his body art. “Keep Pushing” dominates his upper arm. “It’s something my Dad always said when we were working out,” says Keely. The senior forward can now keep a piece of home with him wherever he goes. Perhaps the most recognizable tattoos on the squad are the two-tone stars emblazoned on the shoulders of Cooper. The Chicago native, who also pays tribute to the Windy City on his forearm, is not the only one sporting this look. “Me and my friends back home, we got it,” said Cooper. “It’s a brotherhood type thing.” Kellogg knows exactly where Cooper is coming from. He and his brother Alex, got their ink done together. Tucked under Kellogg’s right bicep is the phrase “Let Those With Holy Hands Touch Your Life” a phrase he picked up from his pastor at church. Kellogg’s father Clark, is surely a fan of Walter Offutt’s tattoo on his inner-left arm. His named his spelled out in cursive…that is, apart from one letter. The “O” that begins his last name takes the unmistakable form of the Ohio State “Block O.” Offutt, who spent two seasons with the Buckeyes in Columbus, doesn’t regret his permanent tribute to Ohio State. “I’ve still got a little O-State in my system,” he said. Uninformed Buckeye fans may be disappointed to learn what garnishes Offutt’s left arm. The senior commemorates his Alma Matter, Indianapolis Warren Central, with a stylized “W” on his inner bicep. While the untrained eye may mistake the school’s logo with that of the University of Wisconsin, Offutt assures that it is his “high school W.” While there is an impressive amount of ink to go around on this Bobcat squad, no player is more tatted up than Willis. His right forearm, all the way up to his shoulder, across his chest and all the way down to his left elbow are covered in personal and family symbols. While it may seem overwhelming to look at, there is a method to his madness. “[My right arm] is my basketball arm,” he said. Topped with a crowned basketball on his bicep, the arm represents what comes with Willis’ basketball talents. “This is everything basketball will get you,” he said as he pointed to the diamonds and stars on his forearm. “It’ll make you money.” The diamonds are surrounded by various games of chance (roulette wheel, dice, and an pool ball), represent one of Willis’ personal mantras. “I basically feel that life is a gamble,” he said. His chest is a tribute to those most meaningful in his life: a fallen cousin and his daughter. His left arm follows a similar pattern. “[My left arm] is my family arm,” he says. He keeps to his hard and fast rule “family first” by honoring his parents on a banner surrounding a cross. He also gives remembrance to his grandmother with her name, rose pedals, and a dove on his back shoulder. It is worth noting that Willis still has plenty of room on his left forearm. He says that he plans on filling in the rest of his “family arm” when he can find time. With nearly 10 hours under the needle so far, a few more should be a piece of cake. Though life may be a gamble for Bean Willis, he’s all in. “I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world,” he said. It’s easy to feel that way when you carry around a four-leaf clover on your arm.
She traded a jersey and shoes for a clipboard and a whistle. Jenna Curry’s sports career was going right on track as she blossomed in two sports in high school. Playing for Sissonville High School in West Virginia, Curry was a standout as goalkeeper for the Indians for all four years of high school, earning back-to-back 1st Team All-State and All Kanawha Valley Honors. She even was named the Class AA West Virginia Goalie of the Year in 2010. But despite soccer success, Curry’s first love was on the basketball court. Curry was heavily recruited going into her senior campaign after her breakout season as a junior—where she eclipsed the 1,000 points mark and averaged nearly 20 points per game and nine rebounds as she helped lead the Indians to their third straight Cardinal Conference Title. Her sophomore and junior year she was 1st Team All-Conference, All-Kanawha Valley and All-State, just like soccer. Curry ended up signing to play basketball for Ohio University following her Junior season. Life was going great for Curry going into her final year of High School basketball, until the ball dropped to a new year in 2011, which would bring disaster. Facing rival Scott High School on January 3rd, 2011, Sissonville trailed by three with under a minute remaining in the contest. Curry took a shot to try to tie the game and immediately knew the shot was off the mark. While racing to get her own rebound, Curry collided with another players’ knee and fell awkwardly to the ground and knew right away something was wrong. “I immediately knew that something was wrong because normally I would pop right back up after getting hurt and this time I was screaming in pain,” Curry stated. Soon after, Curry found out that she had torn her ACL, an injury that would require surgery and would end her playing career at Sissonville. With her basketball career facing a questionable future and college right around the corner, Curry sought the medical opinion of a few doctors, hoping to receive some good news. “The first doctor that I went to basically told me that I would never be able to play basketball again. I was so angry and upset with him I got up and told my mom we were leaving the doctor’s office. I had already signed with Ohio University and there was no way that one doctor was going to determine my future.” Seeking some guidance, Curry called Semeka Randall; head coach at the time for Ohio and wanted a second opinion. She was referred to a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, who told Curry that after surgery and proper rehab, she would be good to go in college. Normal rehabilitation for a torn ACL is around 9-12 months, but Curry had different ideas. She decided to try to play as a true freshman for Ohio, after just six months of rehab, a decision she would later regret as she would tear the same ACL again in November of 2011, the second time in an 11 month span. Wanting another chance, Curry took the smart route and elected to go with a full one-year rehab after another surgery to the same knee. “I rehabbed and worked very hard every single day sometimes twice a day trying to get my weight down from the surgeries, getting mobility in my leg. It was hard work. I was on crutches for almost 2 and half months. 12 months drug by and finally I was released to play basketball again,” Curry said. After one year of waiting, she finally got completely healthy and was looking forward to her college debut, and had a certain game on the schedule as her grand return to center stage—a December 15th road contest against Marshall in her home state of West Virginia. “Being from West Virginia, this was a game that a lot of my family and friends had planned on attending.” The day before the team traveled to Marshall for the game, Curry’s chance of playing took a major twist of fate when she fell to the ground during practice, re-injuring the same knee. Coaches and the training staff thought maybe it was just a tweak, but Curry knew otherwise. “I fell on the ground and started screaming, pissed off at the world knowing what had happened. My coaches tried to tell me maybe I just tweaked it but I knew what had happened.” An MRI on the knee confirmed Curry’s original diagnosis; she had torn the same ACL for the third time in less than two years basketball once again took a backseat to an injury. When Ohio hired a new coach at the beginning of the 2013 season, Bob Bolden, he decided that with Curry’s history of knee injuries, she was no longer needed on the team. She never appeared in a single game. Curry (above) scored over 1,000 points in High School and signed to play for Ohio University . However, injuries kept her from ever appearing in a collegiate game. Curry (above) scored over 1,000 points in High School and signed to play for Ohio University . However, injuries kept her from ever appearing in a collegiate game. This took quite the toll on Curry, who had worked her whole life for a chance to play at the collegiate level. “I was devastated because my world revolved around basketball.” Now that her playing career was over, Curry thought back to all that she had sacrificed for the game for years when she was in the process of trying to get recruited. “I missed birthday parties, family vacations and shut everyone out because I was in a gym somewhere trying to get better.” “I went into depression and shut everyone out,” Curry said after her third injury. Though her playing career was over, a new career was just beginning. Curry decided to start an AAU Basketball League. She asked for the assistance of a former teammate, Cierra Jones to go into the business with her. Together, they founded a non-profit AAU organization called WV Team Infinity. After beginning with just one girls’ team, the organization took off; and in just a short period time- that one team turned into 10 teams, eight boys and two girls and the organization took off. Curry began coaching and is now helping her players achieve the same dream that she had. “We are dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to help young boys and girls reach the next level in their basketball career.” Although ten different teams are a part of WV Team Infinity, Curry is head coach for one of the two girls’ teams, the 15U club and is assistant coach of the 16 and 17-year old team as well. Through Team Infinity, Curry and her teams have traveled to all kinds of tournaments in 2014—in places such as: Lexington, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. 2015 shows even more opportunities for the team, as they will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina, Virginia, Columbus, Tennessee and Washington D.C for even more tournaments against the nation’s elite competition. Curry credits her players and the parents of her team for their dedications to making Team Infinity so successful. “I am so grateful for the parents and the girls that make all of this possible. AAU basketball is a very serious and expensive commitment.” How much of a commitment is AAU? Curry provided a small sample of her team’s summer schedule in July of 2015. • July 3rd-4th Practice • 5th- 8th Lexington, Kentucky Tournament • 9th-13th Franklin, Tennessee Tournament As far as the people who have helped her with Team Infinity, Curry spoke highly about everyone who is made this possible, “I would like to think my Vice President Matt Orcutt, Cierra and my mother Jennie Curry who help me with day-to-day operations. I could not be doing this without them.” Although her playing days may be over, coaching is a way for Curry to give back to the girls that are just beginning their dreams. “Coaching has changed my life; I never thought I would love something as much as I loved playing basketball. I did a lot of watching because of my injuries and this is a way to give back because I want these kids to have the same opportunities that I had,” Curry stated. Asking if Curry ever looks back and wonders what if? She responds, “I am a Christian and I believe that God has a plan and that everything happened for a reason. I believe that I was put into these kid’s lives, especially my girl’s teams, for a reason. I love helping kids and it is so rewarding to be here at college and having their parents calling and texting me about their successful middle school, high school career.” Though she will never put on a jersey again, Curry is aiding others at a chance at the career that eluded her due to unfortunate injuries. And that is giving back.
I can’t decide which I like better: Skyline Chili or the actual Cincinnati skyline. Photo from ikron.org I can’t decide which I like better: Skyline Chili or the actual Cincinnati skyline. Photo from ikron.org Editor’s note: this is the first post in a series titled “Back Home,” in which Speakeasy writers analyze fondness or distaste for their hometowns while there for winter break. This isn’t going to be a Buzzfeed type of article listing 23 1/2 reasons why Cincinnati is the best city on the planet and you should never live anywhere else, ESPECIALLY not Pittsburgh or Cleveland, for the love of God. Instead, I will simply explain my love for the city. Technically, I’m from Cincinnati. I was born there. But I’ve lived in Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland, too. I was a sophomore in high school when my family returned to Cincinnati, and I’ve been there for six years, in between semesters in Athens, of course. Maybe it was because most of my family lives in Cincinnati, or because I already had three moves under my belt, but the move back was better than expected. For starters, I never felt out of place, even during the rocky transition to a new high school. Sure, it was awkward (probably more awkward than I care to admit; lookin’ at you, softball uniform), but I always felt like I belonged there. I definitely missed my old home and friends in Twinsburg, Ohio, but it was good to live somewhere where I didn’t have to drive four hours to see my grandparents. Perhaps it’s the sense of community that made me so fond of Cincinnati. Then again, maybe it’s the food. Don’t knock it ’til you try it: a 3-Way from Skyline Chili. Yep, that’s right, a 3-Way. Spaghetti, chili and cheese all in one. Photo form skylinechili.com Don’t knock it ’til you try it: a 3-Way from Skyline Chili. Yep, that’s right, a 3-Way. Spaghetti, chili and cheese all in one. Photo from skylinechili.com Cincinnati is famous for its Skyline Chili, so I won’t waste your time or my words explaining the phenomenon that is Cincy-style chili piled high on top of spaghetti and loaded with cheese, onions, beans, oyster crackers and hot sauce. Skyline is definitely a staple of Cincinnati, but there are so many more good eats around town, like Montgomery Inn, where you can get the best ribs this side of the Mississippi (or north of the Ohio). An interesting tidbit about Cincinnati is that during the early 1800s it was the biggest pork-packing center in the country, earning the nickname Porkopolis. Okay, that’s not interesting. But what actually is interesting is pigs used to roam the streets of Cincinnati in herds because the city was the leading pork-packing center. Can you just take a second to imagine that, please? Herds of pigs roaming around downtown Cincinnati like they own the place. Clip-clopping around in their hooves, just trying not to be made into sausage or goetta. Goetta (pronounced like musical-genius-slash-actual-plain-old-DJ David Guetta), a sausage-like breakfast food, is also native to Cincinnati and probably derives from the Porkopolis days. I’m telling you, the stuff is amazing, but most of it is made and distributed in Cincinnati. I could go on and on about the food of Cincinnati, but let me quickly go back to the sense of community. On Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals played the San Diego Chargers at home in the NFL playoffs. We won’t talk about the outcome of the game. For those who aren’t aware, NFL rules say that a home game cannot be televised locally unless the stadium sells out its tickets. On Thursday morning, about 7,200 tickets were left to sell out Paul Brown Stadium, which holds just over 65,000. By Friday afternoon, Cincinnati companies like Kroger and Proctor & Gamble bought the rest of those tickets. Not only would the game be televised, but the tickets would be given away to military veterans and active duty members. Paul Brown Stadium during Sunday’s sold out Bengals game, thanks to Cincinnati companies like Kroger and Proctor and Gamble. Photo by Libby Birk. Paul Brown Stadium during Sunday’s sold out Bengals game, thanks to Cincinnati companies like Kroger and Proctor & Gamble. Photo by Libby Birk It wasn’t just the big companies that helped out, either. Jeff Ruby, the owner of several restaurants in Cincinnati, bought 100 tickets to donate to the Armed Forces Ticket Association Cincinnati before Kroger and P&G even made a move. Cincinnati is more than just a city I moved to in the middle of high school. It’s more than just a city that started as a weird pig-parading pork-processing plant. It’s even more than just a city with a lot of good food. It’s a city that I am proud to call my home, and will be proud of no matter where my life takes me.
There are no beds in Bromley 806. Instead, plush armchairs and a comfy couch crowd a tiny TV that’s usually tuned in to re-runs of “COPS.” A Taylor Swift poster sits primly atop the built-in desks, while a “Party in the USA” era Miley Cyrus guards the doorway — no twerking here. Throw in an American flag, a couple of Ninja Turtles posters, a mini-fridge and a giant, cozy-looking rug that’s way too clean for a college dorm room, and you’ve got the ultimate man cave. But the room’s main feature is a small, handheld device that could easily be mistaken for an old-school walkie-talkie. It slowly sputters to life, but not even the static can hide the dispatcher’s Appalachian twang. “2-4.” Finance major Matt McKnight, now a junior, perks up, fingers twitching toward the keyboard. This is High Fest, after all, and chaos is imminent. “This might be an actual call. She was saying 2-4 to get unit 24’s attention.” “2-19, 2-5 again.” He lets out a sigh of disappointment, translating the dispatcher’s code with ease. “Oh, never mind, she just wants them to call back.” There’s a brief moment of calm, but the dispatcher might as well be paying housing fees, she’s such a present fixture here. The little black box crackles again. “Station 54. Need you to respond to Chestnut St. for an intoxicated person. Your alert time, 13:48.” “If that was in Athens I would tweet it, but it’s probably Glouster or something like that.” This was Athens Scanner HQ, more war room than dormitory. Now that McKnight has moved off campus, its current location remains a mystery, but he spent most of his hours here, listening and tweeting from 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily. “On the weekends I have a backpack I put it in,” he said. “I have a little secret service earpiece – I just try to keep it real under wraps.” Athens Scanner’s much-loved Twitter account currently boasts 8,785 followers, even more than The Post and Student Affairs VP Ryan Lombardi. And their numbers are growing fast – McKnight said he probably gains 20 to 30 new followers on an average day, and a few hundred during major events. The feed hit its first thousand followers during the infamous “fugitive fest,” and broke 4000 during February’s water main break. They’re well on their way to becoming one of the top news sources in the Athens community. After the Nov. 30 Research and Technology Building arson sparked a serious interest in campus crime, McKnight (who has always been a big fan of G4’s “Campus PD”) stumbled upon the Athens Messenger’s online scanner, but was disappointed with its poor quality. After discovering that Athens County is one of only three counties in Ohio that doesn’t offer a live stream, he bought a police scanner of his own over winter break. Tweeting was just the next logical step, and he opened the account on Jan. 23. Colby (left) and McKnight (right) at a campaign rally in Newark, Ohio. Photo provided. Colby (left) and McKnight (right) at a campaign rally in Newark, Ohio. Photo provided. He enlisted the help of his friend Joe Colby, a fellow junior and Media Arts and Studies major, to help run the feed and handle all graphic design work. “It’s a form of public service,” Colby said. “I’m fascinated by the idea of getting something to become a trend.” Reception has been overwhelmingly positive. Even OU’s Dean of Students Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones called it her favorite twitter feed. “People are interested in what happens in Athens,” she said “It’s such a small, close-knit town. It’s fed into that community feel.” The feed’s few detractors are typically angry (and often drunk) tweeters, upset that they couldn’t find warnings about busted parties on the Scanner. One student simply tweeted “fuck you,” in response to the Scanner’s April 5 tweet about a party that was “raging so loudly that it was impossible to hear the location over the noise.” McKnight said that although he gets a kick out of reporting and responding to peoples’ drunken antics, it’s not quite the level of public service he had in mind. “The tweets that get the most interest are about drunk people passed out,” he said. “It’s almost an anti-intellectual following – we respond better to party things than a real incident with someone hurt or in trouble. It’s just the OU party culture.” “It comes with the territory,” Colby added. “If we didn’t like OU then we would be disappointed, but we both love OU, so we expect the reaction that we get. There would be nothing without OU here in Athens.” McKnight’s gravelly southern Ohio drawl and cool demeanor stand in sharp contrast to Colby’s Zuckerberg-esque enthusiasm for new media. The stoic wisecracker and the skinny-armed idea machine make a great team, but McKnight’s unwavering dedication to public access is the clear driving force behind the project. It’s easy to see why some students might shy away from a venture that borders on vigilantism, but McKnight has zero regrets, even if he suspects the police might not be all that fond of him. “It’s completely legal – it’s public information so there’s not really anything they can do,” McKnight said. “I’m sure they’d rather it not be there – they kind of like to keep everything under wraps. But I think people have the right to know what’s going on.” Just a typical day in Athens. Photo from Athens Scanner. Just a typical day in Athens. Photo from Athens Scanner. On the contrary, Andrew Powers, OUPD’s police chief, said he has no problem with the account, and gets every tweet sent to his phone. “It was a novel idea, and it certainly made our radio traffic much more public than it was,” he said. “Even though theoretically it’s unregulated, most people didn’t listen to it. But now, all of the sudden people are able to monitor what we’re doing in a very convenient way.” He still has some reservations, however. “When our every movement is being tweeted, it reduces the random element of surprise that certainly works in our favor,” he said. Powers said he’s impressed with how responsibly the feed is handled, though he’s advised his officers to be more careful about what they say. “When I discovered it my first thought was whether or not anybody had said anything embarrassing that had been retweeted,” he said. “Sometimes we forget that the radio traffic can be scanned and sometimes officers make comments that may not make sense to the average person. Taken out of context, they may not look extremely flattering to the police.” McKnight said he feels he has a duty to respect the police, and he’s also adamant about keeping personal information out of his tweets – even in the case of an OU faculty member who was arrested for public intoxication March 23. “Come on,” OU junior Julie Vinson tweeted. “Say the name. Public record anyway!” The response: “Look it up ;).” Dr. Hall-Jones said she also admires the Scanner’s respectful attitude. “People are always ambulance watchers, but at the same time they have this ethical line that they’re drawing,” she said. “Not only is it informational, but they’re kind.” Good-natured as they are, make no mistake: Colby and McKnight are troublemakers. They’ve toed the line between helping hand and public nuisance long before McKnight purchased his $99 police scanner on eBay. Last year, they took their commercial brand of mischief all the way to the campaign trail – and made national headlines in the process. Colby was the mastermind behind one of the Romney campaign’s biggest unofficial social media failures, a Bobcats for Romney campaign video that featured a remix of indie group The National’s “Fake Empire.” The band members, longtime supporters of President Obama, were furious, and had the video pulled. “It kind of backfired, but we didn’t mind,” Colby said. “They should have been honored that anyone cared about their band,” McKnight joked. The feud caught the attention of Pitchfork, Spin and Digital Spy. Colby, who’s also helped produce music videos for Wacka Flocka Flame and Hawthorne Heights, said he was just grateful for the recognition. “They thought it was from the Romney campaign, which is kind of a compliment,” he said. “They got mad at the campaign first, but then they found out it was us. We were on top of it, we were like, ‘Oh, crap.’” McKnight was a bit more successful in courting the Republican ticket. The moment Paul Ryan was announced as Romney’s running mate, McKnight snapped up as many Ryan-related domain names as he could – including PaulRyanSucks.com — which apparently startled campaign leaders. “Some girl had to stalk my Facebook and screenshot everything and send it to them,” McKnight, who ended up donating most of the domains to the campaign team, said. “They were scared because I had all of these negative domains, but I just got them so people couldn’t use them against them.” McKnight’s note of thanks from former VP hopeful Paul Ryan. Photo provided. McKnight’s note of thanks from former VP hopeful Paul Ryan. Photo provided. McKnight’s dedication to the cause helped him meet the presidential hopeful eight times — his walls were plastered with snapshots from rallies and Romney/Ryan memorabilia — and fostered a growing entrepreneurial spirit. “It just shows you how easy it is to make national news,” McKnight, who appeared in The National Journal and ABC News for his efforts, said. “Anyone can shake things up a bit.” It’s his opportunistic attitude that will hopefully take Athens Scanner to the next level. The duo has already assembled a team of student volunteers so they can cover more hours each day, and they plan to expand the twitter feed into a full-blown website next spring. “We want to create a breaking news organization for Athens that can follow up on the things we tweet,” McKnight said. “But it’s not something that I’d want to monetize. We’re not in the business of selling OU students’ eyes to advertisements.” Along with live updates, the new site will potentially feature videos and photo essays inspired by the user-generated content that gets tweeted to the scanner on a daily basis. “A lot of the stuff that comes out now is delayed,” Colby said, explaining his disappointment with traditional campus media. “It would be very cool if we could have on the scene stuff, and some way to make it more interactive. We’ve seen how big it’s blown up – it just seems like common sense to expand.” Missing a few calls here and there may not seem like a huge loss, but for McKnight, any tip could be crucial. “We’re doing people a service, in my opinion,” he said. “There was an armed robber with a knife behind Lincoln in February and I tweeted it out immediately, and then OU sent out a crime alert like 23 hours later. What’s the point in that?” On the surface, Athens Scanner might just seem like the strange hobby of two straight-laced punks, but it’s already changed the way OU handles crime. When an arsonist set eight small fires in Tiffin Hall in the small hours of Feb. 23, students turned to Athens Scanner first, tweeting pictures, commentary and what later proved to be valuable evidence. One of the Scanner’s photos of a police shut-down of a Palmer Fest party this year. Photo provided. One of the Scanner’s photos of a police shut-down of a Palmer Fest party this year. Photo provided. “We were able to follow up with those people and get witness statements – witnesses that we might not otherwise have had,” Chief Powers said. “We ultimately made an arrest in that case in part because of information that we received.” Dr. Hall-Jones said the feed has also affected the administration’s inner-workings, especially in regards to off-campus student welfare. Hall-Jones found out about the Feb. 23 Courtside stabbing incident through the Scanner, and hopes to continue to use it to touch base with students who’ve been affected by crime. “If things happen off-campus, we don’t find out about it until the paper,” she said. “It’s tough for us to find out about things concerning students that we would want to follow up on. I woke up that Saturday morning and I saw that one of our students had been stabbed, and it was because of the Athens Scanner.” When it comes to more serious incidents, Powers said he’s concerned the scanner’s influence could do more harm than good. Several years ago, a student reported a gunman had entered Copeland Hall. Police evacuated the building, and the alleged gunman turned out to be an off-duty police officer. “What would not have been helpful in that situation is if we had a panic in the building,” Powers said. “With them tweeting in real time, there’s the potential for misinformation to get broadcast.” Despite concerns, it’s clear McKnight and Colby’s venture has become an integral part of the OU community, and they kept tweeting long since they moved out of their newsroom in Bromley in May. As for those beds, all four were officially relegated to the other half of the suite. There’s no time for sleep in the newsroom.