10.29.09 vol. xli, no. 9 The Indy celebrates all things Halloween.
independent The Harvard
President Patricia Florescu ‘11 Susan Zhu ‘11 Cover art by SONIA COMAN
Forum 3 Ghosts of Childhood Past
Special 4 Perfect Costumes for the Perfect Couple 5 Halloween at Harvard 6-7 The Art of Pumpkin Carving
Sports 8 Quidditch at Harvard 9 An Epic World Series 10 A Yankees Hater Gives In
Editor-in-Chief Faith Zhang ‘11 News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Graphics Editor
Riva Riley ‘12 Pelin Kivrak ‘11 Daniel Alfino ‘11 Sonia Coman ‘11
Associate News and Forum Editor Judy Zhang ‘13 Associate Design Editor Kyuwon Lee ‘12 Staff Writers Peter Bacon ‘11 John Beatty '11 Rachael Becker '11 Ezgi Bereketli ‘12 Andrew Coffman ‘12 Truc Doan ‘10 Levi Dudte '11 Ray Duer ‘11 Sam Jack ‘11 Hao Meng ‘11 Nick Nehamas ‘11 Jim Shirey ‘11 Diana Suen ‘11 Steven Rizoli ‘11 Weike Wang ‘11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Eva Liou ‘11 Caitlin Marquis ‘10 Lidiya Petrova ‘11 Kristina Yee ‘10
Arts 11 Review: Sleep No More Dracula Revisited CORRECTION: In the October 22 issue of the Independent (Vol. XLI, No. 8), the article "Taking the Open Jumper" was written by Alex Thompson '11 (asthomps@fas), not Daniel Alfino.
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As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact Presidents Patricia Florescu and Susan Zhu (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Faith Zhang (email@example.com). Yearly mail subscriptions are available for $30, and semester-long subscriptions are available for $15. To purchase a subscription, email subscriptions@ harvardindependent.com. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., P.O. Box 382204, Cambridge, MA 02238-2204. Copyright © 2008 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
10.29.09 • The Harvard Independent
The Ghost that Lives in Tanzania Thoughts on alternative myths. By RIVA RILEY
loody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody…” How sad is it that, although just a decade removed from the fateful day a group of kids clustered outside the dark bathroom in the basement of my old elementary school, I have forgotten how many times you are supposed to say Bloody Mary? The legend that went around my school, which was common enough for most children to have heard in some form, was that if you went into a completely dark room, stood in front of a mirror, and recited “Bloody Mary” a certain number of times, the disturbed spirit or ghost or demon would materialize behind you and leave five parallel scratch marks on your neck, marking the spot she tried to kill you. Of course, I’ve heard versions of the tale that claim that Bloody Mary will actually kill you, but if that had been the case, I don’t think any of us would have let the mounting excitement of Halloween and horrors compel us to puff out our chests and tell the crowd of our fellow third-graders that we would brave the danger and test the whole thing out. Emboldened by our not-quite-as-sinister version didn’t have potentially fatal consequences, many of us mustered up the bravado to volunteer. Because we were still young and scared, three of us, including myself, went in to the pitch-black room together to give each other moral support (and also, I think, to give us a fighting chance if Blood Mary actually came). We stared into the black nothingness where we knew the mirror to be. We were all clutching our throats in fright as we trooped in, but nonetheless we chanted the name the requisite number of times and waited. “Nothing,” we told the others, actually disappointed by the lack of a ferocious demon to claw at our necks. “We said it, and nothing happened.” They asked us if we said it the right number of times, if we enunciated carefully enough, but the sad truth was that Bloody Mary would never appear to any of us. As we got older, Halloween-inspired games of fear grew with us. A common feature of sleepover parties was called “Cat Scratches”, a game in which one girl lay on the floor while another narrated a horrific story of an attack by a furious horde of rabid cats. When the girl lying down sat up, there was supposed to be a tremendous number of actual scratches crisscrossing her back. This game was a little bit more fun, because the indentations of bunched-up fabric often caused a series of red lines to appear on the “victim” and we squealed and wondered out loud if there was real power in our stories. These things we more exciting before I The Harvard Independent • 10.29.09
figured out what was actually happening. The ghostly legends of my youth, steeped in mystery and the possibility of true fear, are not always the norm, however. Many of my friends who grew up in the US have experiences that mirror my own, with their stories of childhood games, “ghost in the graveyard,” and other tales similar to mine, but I also grew up with a completely different concept of what ghosts could be. While I went to school and faced Bloody Mary with terror, the ghosts in my home had a nearly opposite disposition. These were the ghosts that my mother grew up with during her childhood in an Indian
community in Tanzania, and one of their ghosts was a prize to covet. The ghosts of my mother’s youth were recognizable chiefly by their long braid — all ghosts, male, female, young, and old, had braids that marked them as spirits who had unfinished business to take care of on earth. If you encountered a ghost, you were supposed to shear off the long plait with scissors, thus winning control over the ghost’s vast powers. If someone succeeded in cutting off a ghost’s braid, the story goes, they would win as many wishes as they wanted. Children, the ones who followed the story most avidly, usually decided that if they should catch
a ghost, they would restrict themselves to three wishes. First, health and happiness. Second, money and wealth. Third, that the ghost should go free and be at peace. This legend had all the neighborhood children crouched on the porch on summer evenings, clutching little pairs of scissors and keeping their eyes open for ghosts. This, the infinite number of wishes won by harnessing the unearthly, unfathomable powers of a ghost, made my fear of Indian ghosts suddenly fade away. When I was very young my sisters and I prowled around our basement in search of these ghosts, although the dark, musty space and the looming shapes of old furniture and bundles of laundry often sent us away long before we could get bored of the pursuit. As you might have guessed, we never did manage to cut off a ghost’s braid, and when I was younger I asked my mother why. She told me with a smile that maybe there were just more ghosts in Tanzania. I believed her then, and I believe it now. The Indian legend of the wish-granting ghost surely must have been more powerful during the balmy nights in East Africa, with the jungle stirring nearby and the whole town full of neighborhood kids who actively sought the ghosts that could bring them so much glory. My brush with this legend, which came in the form of my mother’s stories and my own futile attempts to snap off a ghost’s braid, always feel much more fulfilling than the failed stories of horror which formed the basis of the ghost “encounters” of my childhood. I mean, really, choosing between a ghost that wants to gouge out your neck and a ghost that could grant you an infinite number of wishes is like, in the words of Eddie Izzard, choosing between cake or death. There’s not too much of a contest there, and the “Bloody Mary” and “Cat Scratches” of my past aside, I think I’ll devote my paranormal attention to ghostly braids. Who knows what could happen. If one day and my beloved Mather House is suddenly built of brick instead of poured concrete, or the Science Center has transformed into a jungle overnight, then you’ll know I found my ghost and am having a terrific time. At any rate, it sure beats waiting for Bloody Mary in the dark. So the choice between horror and wonder is yours. There is a certain allure in the horror of some myths, but if you are interested in something less gory and perhaps more fun there is a ghost that lives in Tanzania, and you really should be looking for it. Riva Riley '12 (rjriley@fas) attended her fair share of sleepover parties and is no longer scared of Bloody Mary. firstname.lastname@example.org
Twice as Nice
Costumes for the discerning couple.
rom a collegiate prospective,
Halloween is the perfect excuse for single girls to dress as scantily as possible and for single guys to accentuate their body by adding fake Superman suit muscles. It’s an ongoing trend — much like the rise in divorce or the growing number of Twitter celebrities who seem to love to prove that they failed elementary school grammar — and one that seems unlikely to change in the near future. Personally, I’ve become tired of seeing different variations of the same skanky nurse and the same Spider/Super/Batman. It all sort of has the feel of desperation to it: single people going out — not for candy, but for a chance at an irresponsible one-night stand. Instead, I’d much rather appreciating a loving couple with matching costumes. I mean, as a couple, there’s really no better way to immerse yourselves in that aw-shucks, cuddly kind of love. And from a viewer’s perspective, it’s nearly impossible not to smile when you see your favorite couple among your friends, hand-in-hand, as well suited as salt and pepper on a calm October night. So in the spirit of a cuter and less sketchy Halloween, here are some of the cutest and most interesting Halloween costumes for couples I could come up with. Try one of these, and I promise, you’ll receive nothing but compliments from your friends. Supply and Demand What this costume lacks in aesthetics (two graphs and two lines), it certainly makes up in wittiness and “Harvardiness.” Let’s be honest, there is almost no other place where an economic allusion would be more appreciated on Halloween. For the extra motivated, interlocked hands can symbolize the equilibrium point, where supply and demand meet. I’m telling you, this is love at its best! Swine Flu and UHS Representative This costume will really show people that your relationship is built on lots and lots of time spent together. There’s nothing that says “We’re meant to be together” better than these two costumes. As for the actual costume, you can add ornaments to a pig costume and a not-so-slutty nurse costume. Alcohol and Mixer The message this sends: we’re better together than if we were apart — not that alcohol and mixers are bad individually, either. Just make sure that the person who wears the mixer doesn’t get offended, because, well, I think it’s pretty obvious. Despite the fact that this is a return to the 90s, I strongly believe that it’ll still have a wonderful effect on everyone who sees it. In fact, the impact of this costume set is more far-reaching than it might first appear. After all, what girl dressed as Pikachu wouldn’t want to hear
By HAO MENG the words “Pikachu, I choose you!” when being proposed to? See what I mean? Far, far reaching impact. Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber If the girl perfects the accent, the glasses, and the dress, and the guy perfects an absolutely normal look, this costume will raise some real eyebrows. If the guy looks older, you can always replace Joe with John McCain. It might seem a little weird at first, but people will really respect you for your boldness. I think. Chuck Norris and God My only piece of advice is to make sure that people know the difference between the two costumes. Otherwise, you’ll just get heat from all your friends about how you and your significant other wore the exact same thing. Seriously, be careful. Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien I’m not exactly sure what sort of message this pairing puts out there, but it never hurts to try. The challenge to this costume will be to obtain a colossal jaw and extremely red hair. Also, you should try to be funny. Try this joke: “Why was the girl afraid of the vampire? He was all bark and no bite.” Okay — I did say try. College Graduate and Debt I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a classic to pull off if you can’t wait to get out of your current relationship. Just make sure you’re the college graduate, because, let’s be honest, debt doesn’t really have a future. Alien and Astronaut What’s better than two separate worlds coming together? There comes a point when inter-human love becomes hackneyed. That’s where alien love comes in. Also, without being too vulgar, aliens might run faster, jump higher, and have better stamina — in all aspects of life — than humans. ‘Nuff said. Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly This is the holy grail of love wrapped up in a Halloween costume. No other couple is as perfect, as cute, and as touching as this one. I’ll be the first in line to admit that I’m looking for my Pam, and I’m absolutely certain that myriad girls are looking for their Jim. If you’re Pam, dress very moderately, and don’t be afraid to let your hair be messy. The key is to be as wholesome and genuine as possible. For guys, wear your standard boring tie, rolled-up button-up shirt, and slacks. Make sure your hair has “wings,” and don’t forget to make the most endearing faces in the history of television. Frankly, if you pull off Jim and Pam, you might as well be married for life. They’re that perfect.
+ + + +
Hao Meng ’11 (haomeng@fas) is going as Jim and looking for Pam. Good luck, Hao. Good luck. 10.29.09 • The Harvard Independent
Y DS D IN T A N E EV
The Harvard Independent â€˘ 10.29.09
HALLOWEEN at Left: Alex Thompson '11 works on carving a howling wolf into his pumpkin.
Right: Dunster House tutors Neil Roach and Amanda Lobell, both of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, work on their pumpkin masterpiece.
Left: Sarah Johnson '11 carves monsters behind a door into her pumpkin. Below: Matt Miller '11, sporting a Yankees hat while waiting for the World Series, designs a baseball pumpkin.
Dunster House's carved pumpkins are on display tutors carved and painted their pumpkins on Tue pumpkin #6 is of when "swine flew."
10.29.09 â€˘ The Harvard Independent
or TREAT DUNSTER HOUSE Right: Santa makes an early appearance in 2009, gracing Dunster House in pumpkin form, sans reindeer and sack of toys. Pumpkin Santa was made by Elise Sherman '10 and Anna Sakellariadis '11.
Left: Molly O'Donnell '12 and Becca Millock '12 smile over their pumpkin-in-apumpkin
in the dining hall for a voting contest. Students and esday in preparation for Halloween. A sign of the times: Pictures by Susan Zhu/INDEPENDENT
The Harvard Independent â€˘ 10.29.09
Right: Kathryn Albert '11 carves her jack-o'-lantern with care.
On the Quidditch Pitch A recent addition to collegiate sports takes off. By ALANA BIDEN
ell, we didn’t take a
Portkey, but we had to leave before dawn to get there. At 5:30 A.M., the thirteen members of the Quidditch team who could commit to the whole day (and several devoted, if tired-looking, significant others) convened in front of ABP in Harvard Square to be picked up by the bus we were sharing with the Emerson fans. We slept through Charlie’s Angels (not our choice of movie), but rallied the last hour of the ride to Middlebury, distributing newly acquired t-shirts (Crimson with “Harvard Quidditch” in gold script sprawled across the front and, conveniently, Gryffindor colors) and simple red capes fashioned last-minute by several sewing-inclined team members. A Middlebury ski slope announced our proximity to the campus. We clambered off the bus and laughed together, incredulous, when we crossed through a leafy courtyard and set eyes on hundreds of people, in wizard and Muggle garb alike, clustered around three Quidditch pitches, purple-and-white tents, and
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
vans that served as makeshift stores and vendors with signs like “The Owlery” and “Robes for All Occasions.” A bouncy girl with a whistle around her neck and a clipboard in hand approach our team — “Hi, who are your captains?” My cocaptain, Stacy, and I, stepped towards her, and she smiled, “We’re so glad Harvard could make it. You two lead your team to the tents beyond the field to drop your bags, then head over to the scheduler to find out the final times of your games.” She shook her head, “We couldn’t believe Harvard had a Quidditch team!” Many if not most of us have heard the old argument, be it from parents, nosy friends of parents, teachers, TFs, that the Harvard label is a commodity, a handy weapon in one’s professional arsenal. Well, the Harvard label doesn’t get more obsolete as an asset than in the world of Quidditch. There may be an International Quidditch Association and Google may sponsor the World Cup, but the valence of the sport is anything but professional. My non-Quidditch friends, almost all of whom issued some variation of “WHAT?”
when I told them three weeks ago that I was coaching a Harvard team, almost unanimously assumed that Quidditch is a game you play in some half-hearted ironic way, passing a ball with one-hand, laughingly brandishing a broom. When I started coming back from practices with bruises, covered in mud, they were surprised. In fact, Quidditch, even with IQA regulations, is not a game for the faint of heart; in a recent article on FlyBy, when I told a Crimson reporter that anything pretty much goes except pulling hair, I wasn’t kidding. The rules are these. There are seven players — three Chasers who handle the Quaffle (a volleyball) to score, two Beaters who fight for Bludgers (standard 10” kickballs) to throw at the opposing team, one Keeper (goalie), and one Seeker. There are fifteen people actually involved in the game, however, the fifteenth being the Snitch him or herself, preferably a member of neither team, recruited to dress in gold (face paint, hair dye, and actual paint included in some extreme cases) and run around evading capture, with a tennis ball in a long sock sticking out of the back of his or her shorts. As in the books, the Snitch is “released” before the game begins, when all fourteen players must have their heads down; when they look up he must be out of sight. The Snitch need only return to the actual pitch for the last five minutes of play. In a typical Quidditch game, there are several battles going on at once — Chasers trying to pass the ball between them and score by throwing the Quaffle through one of the three hoops (goals) guarded by the Keeper, four Beaters contending for three Bludgers and throwing them at the opposite team, and the Seekers searching for and, for the last five minutes at least, wrestling the Snitch. Meanwhile, players must run back to their team’s goal and drop the ball they’re holding if they’re hit with a Bludger, so only the very agile actually complete plays. It is rare to see a “breakaway” in Quidditch, but when there is one, it’s exciting. In one game I watched, a Chaser from Texas A&M had a breakaway, and the Keeper of the opposing team rushed out to meet him, (legally) one-arm tackling him to the
ground. When the ref’s back was turned, this Chaser punched the Keeper, but despite loud protests from the Keeper’s team on the sideline, play continued. The Keeper, angry and injured, kept at it, struggling for possession. There aren’t a lot of tattletales in Quidditch. As in all sports, some games were dirtier than others. We played three “official” games — BU, Emerson, and UMass. Yale was supposed to be our fourth, but their team never showed up. To our delight, the announcers, all of Lee Jordan caliber, made comments periodically during the tournament like “Yale, uh, decided to stay home, preferring to finagle the theory of Quidditch on the calculators rather than actually playing it. Emerson and BU finished second and third, respectively (after Middlebury) out of the 21 teams who came. Our game against Emerson was fierce, and we nearly beat them but for a lucky Snitch grab that won them the game. The UMass match, on the other hand, was as friendly as possible for Quidditch, meaning silently apologetic smiles were exchanged after a particularly bad tackle. We lost these “official” games but, as the Vassar captains who watched our progress pointed out, at the end of the day, we weren’t the same team — almost beating Emerson, the second team in the country, imbued us with new energy and ferocity. And we’ll need it. UMass, Vassar, and Yale have invited us to play games the next three weekends. The HarvardYale game, if all goes well, will be the Friday afternoon before the football game. In the meantime, there’s a lot of training to be done. And a lot of fun to be had, too — many post-game butterbeer celebrations await. In the midst of midterms and extracurricular and community service commitments, Quidditch is a great opportunity to release stress and embrace the abandon we all lack in our hyperscheduled lives. But we still plan on beating Yale — in the words of the late, great Mad-Eye Moody, “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” Alana Biden ’11 (abiden@fas) knows her way around a broom. 10.29.09 • The Harvard Independent
Clash of Titans The World Series promises heroics to spare. By JIM SHIREY
hat’s a baseball fan to do when two
teams he can’t stand meet in the World Series? A guy who grew up in Washington, DC, in sports the mortal enemy of the city of Philadelphia, would, you might think, have no trouble rooting against the Phillies in the Fall Classic. The only problem is for whom he’d be rooting if he did: the New York Yankees. For a current Bostonian (and a guy who’s still more than a little angry at Jeffrey Maier besides), that’s out of the question, too. But here we are: Game One of the 2009 World Series was played last night at Yankee Stadium between two teams I am incapable of rooting for. It is an awkward position to be in as a fan, equal parts disappointing and frustrating. It’s like waking up on Christmas morning to find a stocking full of coal while simultaneously watching a grudge match between Hitler and Attila the Hun: the only thing you can really figure out is that nothing good could possibly come of any of it. Actually, the second part of that analogy might come pretty close. Most sports, after all, are in some sense metaphors for combat. Football, basketball and hockey all fit this bill: they’re all contact sports won and lost by some combination of strength, speed and tactics. Baseball, from a certain point of view, is their antithesis. Nobody, with a few rare exceptions, collides with anybody on purpose. Most of the sport’s participants spend most of their time standing around in the field or sitting around in the dugout waiting to stand around in the field. But baseball is just as much about combat as any other sport. Its central act is a battle, the single combat between pitcher and batter. This isn’t something we might normally recognize as combat, but it’s combat just the same. It’s not the modern, decentralized combat of basketball or hockey or the Napoleonic combat of football. It’s the combat of Homeric epic: heroes matched mano a mano with the fates of countless others hanging in the balance. Baseball isn’t a team sport the same way the Iliad isn’t a story about two armies: individuals, and individual contests, are what matters. It makes sense, then, that baseball fans revere two types of players above all others: home run hitters and strikeout pitchers. If baseball is about individual combat, then the home run and the strikeout are the only available means of achieving absolute, unquestionable victory in that combat. Baseball, after all, is measured in runs and outs. When a pitcher fans a hitter, he gets him out without any outside help; when a batter hits the ball out of the ballpark, he scores a run entirely on his own power. These The Harvard Independent • 10.29.09
are baseball’s heroes, for the same reason they are Homer’s heroes: they can do the job all by themselves. And when these heroes collide at a crucial time, their capacity for drama is nearly limitless. There is no better moment in all of sport than a late-inning, do-or-die confrontation between a great hitter and a great pitcher. If you don’t believe me, search “Kirk Gibson” on Youtube and watch the first video that comes up. I won’t spoil the ending for those who don’t know, but I defy you to find a more transcendentally epic sports moment played out on American soil. The sheer number of such heroes on both teams in this Series’ saving grace. The World Series may never have featured two teams as well suited to epic drama as these two. Each team features one of the game’s premier home-run men — Ryan Howard for the Phillies and Alex Rodriguez for the Yanks — and their supporting casts aren’t half bad either. Howard has Chase Utley, the best-hitting second baseman in the game, hitting in front of him, and Jayson Werth, perhaps the league’s most underrated player, following him in the lineup; Rodriguez hits after Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira and before Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui, all five proven sluggers. Each team led its respective league in home runs during the regular season, making this the most power-filled World Series matchup in decades. And don’t even get me started on the
pitchers. In the first three games of the Series the Phillies will start a former Cy Young winner, a surefire Hall of Famer, and last year’s World Series MVP: Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, and Cole Hamels. The Yankees will counter with another former Cy Young — and the most dominant pitcher of the last five years — in C.C. Sabathia, one of baseball’s most purely gifted hurlers in A.J. Burnett, and the winningest pitcher in postseason history in Andy Pettite. Each club also has a marquee closer: though he struggled late in this season, the Phillies’ Brad Lidge has returned to his unhittable form in October, and the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera is almost indisputably the greatest ever to play that role. The possibilities for epic combat simply confound. Last night, in Game One, all the heroics belonged to the Phillies. It was Utley, not Howard, who rose to the occasion at the plate, but the result was the same: the Philadelphia second baseman’s two solo homers gave the Phillies a lead they would not relinquish. What’s more, they both came against Sabathia, who was otherwise as untouchable as ever. Both came at the end of hard-fought battles: in both at-bats, Utley “stayed alive” with two strikes, fouling off pitches until Sabathia made a mistake. In both at bats, Utley crushed that mistake into the left field bleachers. Utley’s effort was truly the stuff of heroes: not since Babe Ruth had a left-handed batter hit two home runs against the same left-handed pitcher in
a World Series game. The Phils wound up getting four more runs, but they wouldn’t need them: their starting pitcher, too, proved heroic. Cliff Lee, who entered the game with twenty-nine strikeouts in twenty-five postseason innings, set the tone immediately, fanning Jeter and Teixeira in the first. In the second, he got Rodriguez and Matsui on strikes; in the fourth, he struck out Damon, Teixeira, and Rodriguez in order. All this (and two more) on the way to a complete-game win against the toughest lineup in baseball. And all this brought to a truly heroic conclusion: with one out and a man on second, up 6-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Lee struck out A-Rod for the third time, winning that contest of champions as he had been winning it all night. Appropriately enough, the Phillies’ starter ended the game on another strikeout, whiffing Jorge Posada on a curveball every bit as nasty as any of the hundred and twenty pitches he’d thrown before it. Not a bad start for a Series with no team worth rooting for. Whatever colors its heroic participants happen to be wearing, the 2009 World Series promises some of the best baseball played in recent years. If Game One is any indication of what is to come, the Series also promises to be wonderfully dramatic. Epic, even. Jim Shirey ’11 (jshirey@fas) wonders if someone will compose a poem about this World Series.
Courtesy of Getty Images
indy sports Bowing to the inevitable. By ALFREDO MONTELONGO
Yankees. I am neither a die-hard Red Sox fan nor a Mets fan. Hell, I don’t even watch baseball that much until playoffs come around. Nonetheless, I hate the Yankees. I don’t know when I first started to, but it seems like I always have. I have a feeling that many others have a similar story, in which it just became natural to root against the Evil Empire. As Mike Royko, a Chicago Tribune columnist, once said, “Hating the Yankees is as American as pizza pie, unwed mothers, and cheating on your income tax.” Indeed, this is truly a sentiment which everyone (except New Yorkers) can agree on. For example, when the Boston Red Sox came down from 3-0 in 2004 playoffs against them, I was ecstatic: I stayed up late the night they finished their epic comeback just to watch the Red Sox players celebrate. hate the
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The End of the Evil Empire The Yankees, the demigods of baseball, had blown a seemingly invincible lead, doing what no other team in baseball had done in over a century of existence. It was wonderful watching their shocked faces, as they wondered how this had happened to them. Later that year, I learned the German word “Schadenfreude,” which roughly means taking pleasure from other people’s pain or misery. That night, I was a huge fan of Schadenfreude. It only added to my enjoyment when the Red Sox won the World Series right after and broke their curse. Happy as I was for the Red Sox and their fans (I love it when curses are broken. Good luck, Cubs!), what truly made it sweet was that the 2004 Yankees collapse directly led to this. It was the perfect story: the good guys coming from behind, winning against insurmountable odds, and the bad guys vanquished never to be heard from again.
Unfortunately, each new season of baseball is a story in itself, and so of course the Yankees did not stay vanquished, did not stay silent, and did not stay out of the spotlight for long. They made big-name trades and expanded their payroll even more. They built a $1.5 billion stadium that opened this year. And now, as I write this article, the Yankees are beginning the first game of the World Series against the Phillies: they have finally returned. During the end of the regular season and the playoffs, they have been like a juggernaut. A-Rod is feared once again, Jeter has been spectacular, and Mariano Rivera…well, Mariano Rivera is so good that I actually like him. Honestly, the guy’s almost forty, but still can throw one of the best fastballs ever. He’s insane. But I digress. In short, I have no hope that anyone can beat them. During their series with the Angels, I was reduced to hoping that they would simply extend the series as long as possible, to maybe give the Phillies an extra edge come the World Series. The Angels did well enough, though I was hoping that they would force a game 7. If they had done that, I might have allowed myself a slight glimmer of hope that they could have pulled the whole thing off. I would believe that the Angels could do anything with Lackey pitching; he gets so fired up about baseball that his personality alone makes the game more interesting. By the way, how dumb was it to pull Lackey in Game 5? If not for a series of a very, very lucky breaks, that move would have gone down as the worst move of the post-season by a manager. But after the loss, the Yankees did not shy away from the pressure; they took care of business back in the Bronx, even after the rain delays and all the whisperings that the Yankees were going to blow another big lead like in 2004 (they had been up 3-1 earlier in the series). In doing so, they emphatically proved to America that no one would prevent them from meeting their destiny, not even Angels. So now the Phillies, the defending world champions no less, stand in their way. At this very moment, they are beating the Yankees 1-0. I do not have any faith that this lead will stand. I hope that I will be proven wrong, but my stomach says I will not. Everything that I hated about the Yankees is now gone. No longer are they the Evil Empire, a team ridden with individuals with their own agendas, high-paid stars that could not measure up to their potential, and players full of arrogance and over-inflated egos. They are now a baseball team, unified in one purpose and rooting for and supporting each other. This is why they will win this series — perhaps not this game tonight, but they will win eventually. They have too much talent and too much of a sense of destiny about them. I’m sorry, Philadelphia, but this year belongs to the Yankees and they deserve it…as much as I hate to admit it. Alfredo Montelongo '11 (amontel@fas) admits it, but he doesn't have to like it. 10.29.09 • The Harvard Independent
Self Service Theatre Sleep No More sets high expectations but fails to please.
By PELIN KIVRAK ritish
Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More is an open buffet stocked with the most tempting ingredients and products of the highest quality. If you are a good cook and if luck is on your side, you could end up with an amazing five-course dinner. Unfortunately, there is also a significant chance that you will leave this place with a dry and tasteless sandwich in your hands. Breaking the boundaries of audience and form, Punchdrunk presents a production inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth and told through the lens of a Hitchcock thriller. They have transformed the forbidding building of the Old Lincoln School in Brookline Village to create a huge maze for the audience. More than forty rooms are fully furnished with antique furniture and textured details from the 1920s. A long and completely dark entrance invites the audience into a fictional dream to loosen all bonds with reality — like spying in someone else’s dream. The only thing that distinguishes the audience from the actors is the disturbing masks that the members of the audience have to
put on. Throughout the performance, the viewer wanders from one room to the other and physically and mentally construct his or her own unique experience. The entire show is a blend of installation art and modern dance shows that take place simultaneously in different rooms. I went to see the show twice in a week, and sadly, it wasn’t because I enjoyed it so much. The first time I was in that frightening building, I didn’t get enough of an experience — even though I paid the same ticket price as my fellow theatergoers did. I went to more than twenty rooms, but probably spent so much time smelling Lady Macbeth’s perfumes or sitting on her comfortable ottoman that I missed all the thrilling scenes that were supposed to be happening two floors above or below me. The place was replete with details and I couldn’t take a single step without noticing something that was extraordinarily well executed. Is that something that Punchdrunk should be punished for? No, of course not. However, I do think that the wonderful idea of interpreting Macbeth through the lens of a thriller could be much better executed. First of all, the lack of any kind of direction
or a map turned my first experience into that of a walk in a well-decorated horror tunnel. Before my friend and I entered the building, the guide (who left us as soon as we walked in) told the group that there was a puzzle inside. But as much as we tried to figure out some pattern, plot, or narrative to solve the puzzle, we repeatedly found ourselves attracted to a particular dance scene or a well-furnished room in which nothing really happened. The fact that the participants were not allowed to speak made it more difficult because we weren’t able to listen to stories about what was going on in other rooms from other people. In addition, I didn’t quite understand Punchdrunk’s decision to eliminate any form of text in order to let the “physical performance speak for itself,” as they put it. There I was, watching a pretty ballroom dance scene for more than a quarter of an hour — and nothing was speaking for itself. And just when I started to get used to the idea that we were important witnesses in the house and the actors weren’t aware of our presences, one of the actresses approached my friend, who had put her mask on her head, and put it back
on her face. If there was any experience that I was starting to construct, that moment killed it entirely. I went again, later, with the intention of compensating for my unpleasant first experience and trying some workable strategies on this so-called puzzle. My strategy was to visit the rooms that I had not entered before. This time, I was slightly more successful. I saw King Duncan’s death and a lot of seduction scenes, but I still didn’t get any sense of a plot, if there was any. After reading countless Agatha Christie novels, either I should have been ashamed of myself for not being able to interpret the details or there was no puzzle at all. The Old Lincoln School in Brookline could be a great location to create a spooky art installation about a text as layered as Macbeth, but in this case it certainly doesn’t present a satisfying performance. As a traditional theatergoer, I think I like my play served à la carte instead of struggling to ease my hunger in an open buffet. Pelin Kivrak ’11 (pkivrak@fas) remains hungry.
The Angel Inside - Dracula Revealed By SORINA CODREA & CRISTIAN PROISTOSESCU
rulers, and never-ending woods were all stitched together within the unsettled medieval saga of the Balkans. Let’s zoom in on a particular stage: a silent village at the commercial crossroads between Transylvania and Wallachia, known by the name of Bran. What is most striking about this genuine feudal settlement is the one eternal witness of its noble past: the Bran Castle, fortress of the redoubtable Wallachian prince, Vlad Tepes, known by Westerners as Count Dracula.
he occupied the throne between 1456-1462 and again in 1476. Legend has it that Vlad Tepes was famous for the “justice” he would share dwellers and strangers alike after his own merciless heart. His lessons were particularly literal in their application: he would cut short the tongues of liars, chop off the hands of thieves, and carve out the eyes of spies. Besides boiling, flaying and burying alive outlaws, Vlad Tepes would often order their impalement. His symbol thus remained the teapa [Rom.], the spear used in stabbing the human body just off the spine. The procedure was enough to bring about the victims’ death over the course of three days, a time during which their hanging bodies would garnish the courtyard of the Impaler’s fortress.
Impaler’s father, Vlad Dracul [Rom: the Devil], who had received the Order of the Dragon (then denoted by the same word which now means “devil” in Romanian) from Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of Hungary, for defending Christianity in the crusades. Interestingly enough, the “uniform” of the Order included pretty much the black cloak over the red coat in which we would normally depict Count Dracula today. But mind you, in the Middle Ages, justice did not have a warmer face in the neighboring lands, either. Accustomed to such wartime tales, Romanians hadn’t heard of vampires before the tourism and the internet generation. Allow us, then, to take a moment and recall our own version of the story of Vlad Tepes Voievod:
This is the story of a nation’s hero, long vilified as most cruel and bloody. Historians write that Vlad the Impaler reigned over Wallachia thrice, at a time when Mahommed II was leaving Europe in shambles. In 1448, he took power for the first time, at the tender age of 17. Amidst political intrigues, domestic plots and foreign threats,
A bit cruel, isn’t it? Mysterious and frightening as well. In fact, a perfect motif for a first book about vampires, such as Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. The 19th century Irish novelist Bram Stoker combined few true facts in a fascinating fantasy about Dark Age romance and despotism. He mostly drew upon the reputation of the
Once upon a time, of old they say, there lived a fierce, but rightful lord over the Land of Wallachia. And in his lifetime, or so they say, the fountains on the roadsides of the province would each one have three golden glasses. No one would dare to steal them, for even travelers knew the frightful punishment awaiting the wrongdoer. Then, one morning an old lady
I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool.” Bram Stoker, Count Dracula
n times gone by, Romanian castles, bloody
The Harvard Independent • 10.29.09
came, just as before, to get fresh water from the fountain. But when she could no longer see the famous glasses at their place, she said as for herself that something tragic must have happened to the lord, for this could be the only reason why the order of their life had changed. Indeed, the dreadful year this had to happen turned out to be 1476, the end of all that meant protection, honor and sure justice for dwellers of the threatened land. Footsteps on dusty, shabby floors, the crying door, the massive gates, the castle’s shadow run in forests as sun goes down and vanishes in. Look now behind: The Castle of Count Dracula…like an old friend in a close photo… you cannot see his face, but must be his… He hisses still to all His guests: “Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!” (Bram Stoker, Count Dracula, chapter 1) The Harvard Romanian Association invites you to the Halloween Dracula Party on Friday, October 30th, at 10.30pm, in Leverett Old Library. We will be there. Come freely and of your own free will.
captured & shot