Komastu Ramen is as good as it sounds

komastu_ramen_20161 When college students think of ramen, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the 99 cent packets that can be bought at any supermarket in America. Komastu Ramen shows St. Joseph what ramen is truly supposed to be. Komastu Ramen is downtown at 724 Felix Street. This restaurant has a beautiful atmosphere, between the hanging lights and upbeat music played in the background. There are no tables, but booths that are surrounded by a wooden canopy that resembles a canoe tipped on its side. Another unique facet of Komastu is the way you order. I was greeted by a waitress and then told how to use their iPad to order off the menu. Meals, drinks and desserts were all ordered by iPad. They have a wide variety of ramen, all with different types of broths, noodles, meats and vegetables. They have Tonkostu style ramen (pork broth), Shoyu ramen (soy broth) and Miso style Ramen which is made with miso broth. There wasn’t just ramen though; they also had appetizers that were gluten-free, such as the cucumber salad and seaweed salad. Some specialty items include oysters, as well as olive and cheese carts. I went with my friend and we both ordered the miso style ramen. She ordered the vegan ramen which came with tofu, cabbage and enoki mushrooms. I ordered the oishi ramen. This ramen had pork belly, roasted chicken, and a hardboiled egg as well as a plentiful amount of veggies. The portion sizes were very hefty. The chopsticks available were unlike traditional chopsticks. They were thicker and white, with carvings to help grasp the thick noodles easier and fit more comfortably in your hand. The actual ramen was amazing. The broth brought the perfect amount of savory to the dish; between the pork belly and green onions, the ramen flavor was divine. The vegan ramen was just as excellent. The enoki mushrooms gave it a nice flavor, and the consistency of the tofu was high quality. Everything was very high quality considering the affordable price. We also splurged on Japanese soda since we were there. The type of soda you could buy from a comic convention or at select grocery stores around St. Joseph. The brand of soda, however, I had not found in town before. The bottles had marbles inside that fit in the lid. You had to press down firmly on the marble and pop it into the glass in order to drink from it. It’s a really fun experience to drink it. Overall my experience at the restaurant was very good. The only negative aspect of the restaurant I’d say were the flies. As we sat there were about two or three flies buzzing around our table, they would leave and come back throughout our meal. Despite this, the quality of the meal was very good and the atmosphere was one I’d love to take a group of friends to. I would recommend Komastu to my friends and I will definitely be going back.

Step Afrika brings culture to campus

It was a night full of energy and a performance worthy of a standing ovation. On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Center for Multicultural Education invited the performers of Step Afrika to hit the stage at Missouri Western. The dancers showcased many different styles, from traditional African dances to more modern pieces. Step Afrika was invited to perform on campus two years ago and students were blown away by their amazing talent. Latoya Fitzpatrick, director for the Center for Multicultural Education, explains why this year’s performance was a little different then last time's. “I think the difference between two years ago and this year is the crowd was actually way more engaged and shouting out at them, and that is what helps them put on an even better show,” Fitzpatrick said. Others who watched the performance had nothing but great things to say about it. Dianah Hidzir, CME program assistant, said that having a show like this available to students on campus for free was something she was really excited about. “It was fantastic, I think that is the word, because it was my first Step show ever,” Hidzir said. “Considering that I am an international student I’ve never seen something like that ever before in my life, and having the opportunity to go to one not only because of my work, but because I am a student at Missouri Western and having that event brought to us, I think is pretty cool.” Hidzir explains that college is a great way for students of any culture to become educated on a variety of different backgrounds and beliefs. “Someone once told me that college is one of the best places to learn about diversity, and also it’s a safe place to be who you are,” Hidzir said. “To define that quote, I think having a lot of events, multicultural events in particular, on campus is very important to prove that that is right.” Bringing different cultures to campus and providing ways for students to learn and be a part of these cultures is a big goal for CME. Alexis Williams, CME program assistant, explains why this diversity is important. “I think it’s important to bring different cultures to the university because we are a predominantly white institution, and most people, not just white people but African American too, come from our own community and kind of what we know, so I think it’s good to expose people to different cultures,” Williams said. “We do have some sororities and fraternities on campus that when they do a show they do the exact same thing almost as far as the stepping goes, but I thought it was good to hear them speak in different languages, and the gum boot thing -- I thought it was really good.”

Memory of ‘The Black Parade’ carries on

The date was October 23, 2006. On this day, an entire generation was taken to a place, musically, in which the world had never been to before. On this day, My Chemical Romance released their third studio album "The Black Parade," which, as we now know, would take its place amongst the most iconic albums to ever grace the alternative music scene -- albums such as Green Day's "American Idiot," Blink-182's "Enema of the State" and Panic! at the Disco's "A Fever you can't Sweat Out," just to name a few. "The Black Parade" left behind a legacy that will be carried from generation to generation. Now, on the album's tenth anniversary year, the United Kingdom magazine Rock Sound released a cover album of "The Black Parade" simply called "Rock Sound Presents: The Black Parade." This album was released one week ago, September 14, 2016, and features 13 different bands who took a track off MCR's original album and, well, covered it. Some bands added their own flare to the song while others stayed true to the original version. As an avid MCR supporter and listener, it was extremely difficult for me to listen to the cover album with an open mind. Why change something that is so perfect and holds so much meaning for a very large number of people? If you're unfamiliar with "The Black Parade" album, the CD follows the story of the character called the patient, who dies of cancer and is taken on a journey to the afterlife. Now, overall the cover album wasn't as terrible as I was expecting. The majority of the songs were not completely butchered by these other bands. In fact, I found most of the tracks had stayed loyal to the original version. Some tracks that caught my ear were "Cancer," performed by Twenty One Pilots, "Dead!" by Escape the Fate, "Sleep" by New Years Day and "Famous Last Words" by Asking Alexandria. Not all of them deserved an A plus though. Tracks like "Teenagers" by Against the Current, "Disenchanted" by Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! and "Mama" by Ghost Town were altered from the original version, and not for the better. I don't think I have to say it, but I will: the cover album did not come close to the original CD in any way, shape or form. I also can't ignore the fact that the record did not cover the last track of MCR's album, "Blood." But, this album was not meant to be as good as the first. This cover CD was released because it was meant to pay tribute to a record that changed the lives of any angsty teenager willing to give it a listen. Although everyone will have their own thoughts and opinions on the album, what we can all agree on is that "The Black Parade" will forever 'carry on,' as vocalist Gerard Way sings.          

Million Dollar Bacteria: Western receives grant from the National Science Foundation

Million Dollar Bacteria   A press conference was held Wednesday afternoon to announce a grant of over one million dollars, the largest sum awarded in MWSU history, to be given to the undergraduate biology department, The grant of $1,106,896 will be used by the synthetic biology research team to genetically engineer bacteria. This grant from the National Science Foundation represents three years of funding for Missouri Western’s research team, as well as for the research team in Davidson College, a collaborating college in North Carolina. The research team consists of a mixture of biology and math undergraduates, headed by Dr. Todd Eckdahl, chairperson and professor in biology, and Dr. Jeff Poet, a professor in math. “Synthetic biology is genetic engineering reinvented,” Eckdahl said. “Synthetic biologists collect a collection of parts and devices and characterize [them] in such a way that they can put them together to address a variety of problems.” The research team worked last summer, along with Davidson College. The grant will provide summer stipends for the faculty, as well as the students, for further research over the next three summers. “Students get paid and paid well,” Poet said. This means the student researchers can focus on their research, which is a full-time job. Athena Davis spoke at the conference about her personal experience as a biology undergraduate on the research team. “I have experiments running upstairs right now,” Davis said. “The summer was a full time job, 40 hours a week. Eight hours a day, five days a week.” Even though the research is on synthetic biology, math undergraduates, such as Haden McDonald, help smooth over the mathematics side of experimentation. “By the time we got to week two, I just felt like I’d taken two college courses in biology,” said McDonald. Without this grant, the student researchers would have to have part-time employment on top of the time-consuming job of research. The grant also covered costs for equipment, travel to Davidson College and professional conferences. Initially, the team had taught bacteria how to “do math” and their proposal for the grant was written with the intent of furthering that research to create a biological computer. The proposal was in majority written by Eckdahl and covered two essential criteria: intellectual merit and broader impacts. The NSF approved the proposal, but with the condition that the team research something else, which was unconventional. “This is something I’ve never heard of,” Eckdahl said. “They gave us preliminary funding to basically reinvent ourselves.” The team brainstormed and came up with the idea to program bacteria to optimize their metabolic pathways to create various chemicals instead. This entailed genetically modifying bacteria so they could create pharmaceuticals and biofuels through programmed evolution. The team encouraged variations in genetics, and the bacteria which most efficiently solved the problem were rewarded with life. In layman’s terms, the team will grow bacteria, like e. Coli for example, which could create things like caffeine, and then they’d cultivate more e. Coli from the most successful subjects. The history of the research team, starting in 2006, boasts numerous published research papers and advancements in areas most colleges don’t even offer, especially not for undergraduates.  

Western’s Royal Redo

Oct. 9 through the 15 is a special week for students and faculty alike: homecoming week. Certain changes are being implemented this year in order to appeal closely to the more hardworking, involved students here on campus. Jessica Frogge, advisor to the homecoming committee, could not be more enthusiastic about the plans. “The theme this year is 'Olympics,'” Frogge said. “Funded completely by the student government. The idea this year round is to make all students feel included.” Instead of the normal tradition of king and queen, however, there is going to be a whole new system derived to specifically target the minority of students who wouldn’t normally get elected for homecoming court despite being involved everywhere. Any organization that wants to nominate a person can submit forms. If you want to self nominate, 25 supporting signatures are required. “We bring in 3 judges from the community, and I am pushing my staff to find these leaders within the community to vote for 10 deserving students for homecoming court, which is how we always did it,” Frogge said. “The change comes in narrowing it down to a 3 top students, which the student body will decide on. This is instead of the normal king and queen tradition, which in my opinion will make the whole thing more meaningful. On one hand, it fits in the the whole Olympics theme, but on the other hand, a lot more students get their chance to be recognized for their hard work in their community, instead of the popularity contest homecoming can sometimes be viewed as.” Despite the overwhelming support the homecoming staff has gotten, many students aren’t on the same boat. Many don't want to give up that tradition that homecoming has become. In fact, junior PJ Kelly considered writing to the VP of Student Affairs in order to give students a year to adjust to or alter the decision. “It wasn’t really a petition, just more of a letter that I was going to send to the higher-ups explaining my frustrations with the changes,” Kelly said. “But I never ended up going through with it. What they've done, change a tradition that’s been around since 1969, without asking the students, is ridiculous. This is a student-driven school, and they took out one of the oldest traditions we have to please the few.” Ultimately it can be said that the idea to suggest change was a tough one. Kelly, among others like Chuck Mosley, junior on the homecoming committee, still stand in favor of tradition, but do seem at ease with working out solutions for the future. “In the letter I asked to put off the change of king and queen to next year to give time to talk to the students about the changes being made and take it to a student vote,” Kelly said. “When I was telling friends what I was doing, they wanted to sign the letter too. They also felt it should come to a student vote. Students should have a voice in the change.” It can be said that the argument against change is respectable. It all comes down to student opinion, and each side grants superb examples about whether or not these actions to remove king and queen should be carried out come Oct. 9. “After it’s all over, we’ll start some talks with student government and the alumni organization,” Frogge said. “We’ll gather some alumni input, and make sure they understand we’re trying not to take away from them. I really hope we do continue with the change. I would be more proud to get an award for something I do than because someone knows my name.” Of course, Frogge outlined that despite uneasy feelings toward change, no one has come to discuss it with her. Mosley did sit down and talk, as he on the committee wanted to come down to a solid decision, and at least ease up the the idea. If the idea of getting rid of tradition doesn’t sit well with anyone, she did encourage anyone to stop by and explain the problems. It isn’t a fight between right and wrong, it’s a genuine concern between tradition and creating new opportunities. Regardless of decision, though, the school strongly encourages everyone to come down and enjoy themselves at homecoming. “Instead of making a popularity contest, we want more inclusion,” said Adam McGowan, Title IX coordinator. “Anytime we can include more voices to anything, we will end up with a better product.”