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02.10.11 vol. xlii, no. 14 The Indy is speed-dating.
Cover photograph by MARIA BARRAGAN-SANTANA
Cover art by
FORUM Global Love 3 Don't Deny It 4 Point/Counterpoint: Boys vs. Girls 5 Going the Distance 6 Sweetie 7 Sweethearts in Stilettos 7 ARTS On-screen Love 8 Hooking Up 9 Chemistry on Cable 9 10 Night on the Town SPORTS 11 Harvard Makes it Big 11 Super (Waste of Time)
President Weike Wang ‘11 Vice President Whitney Lee ‘14 Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo ‘12
Production Manager Miranda Shugars ‘14
Executive Editor Riva Riley ‘12
Business Manager Amanda Hernandez ‘14 Associate Business Manager Publicity Coordinator Eric Wei ‘14 Ezgi Bereketli ‘12 News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor
Meghan Brooks ‘14 Zena Mengesha ‘14 Brett Giblin ‘11 Alexandria Rhodes ‘14
Columnists Sam Barr ‘11 Luis Martinez ‘12
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 President Weike Wang (firstname.lastname@example.org). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Yuying Luo (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., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. Copyright © 2010 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
Staff Writers Michael Altman '14 Peter Bacon ‘11 Arthur Bratolozzi ‘12 Colleen Berryessa ‘11 Arhana Chattopadhyay ‘11 Sayantan Deb ‘14 Levi Dudte '11 Gary Gerbrandt ‘14 Sam Jack ‘11 Marion Liu ‘11 Hao Meng ‘11 Alfredo Montelongo ‘11 Nick Nehamas ‘11 Steven Rizoli ‘11 Brad Rose '14 Marc Shi ‘14 Jim Shirey ‘11 Angela Song '14 Diana Suen ‘11 Alex Thompson ‘11 Christine Wolfe ‘14 Sanyee Yuan ‘12 Faith Zhang ‘11 Susan Zhu ‘11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Chaima Bouhlel ‘11 Eva Liou ‘11 Lidiya Petrova ‘11 Schuyler Polk ‘14 Patricia Florescu ‘11 02.10.11 • The Harvard Independent
S P R E A D the Love By MEGHAN BROOKS As we Americans eat our Whitman’s Sampler chocolates out of little heartshaped boxes this February 14 th, amorous couples in Saudi Arabia will most likely be doing absolutely nothing of the sort. Valentine’s Day, as most of us undoubtedly realize, is not a universal holiday: they don’t eat Necco hearts in Nepal and no one rhymes “Roses are red” in Rwanda. However, as a few simple Google searches demonstrate, the concept behind the day is more global than we might think. The origins of Valentine’s Day lie in third century Rome in the legend of Saint Valentine, a priest who was executed for marrying couples after the emperor had declared marriage illegal. As the story goes, while awaiting execution the young priest developed a romance with the jailer’s daughter, and signed his last letter to her, “From your Valentine.” Whether this legend is true or not, the saint’s feast day became a popular springtime celebration in the Middle Ages — first in France, and then in England, where courtly love had taken over the culture of the upper classes and romantic poetry and ballads had become a major literary form. As the centuries progressed, the day only became more entrenched in England, where lovers and friends began exchanging small tokens of affection. By the Victorian era, Valentine’s Day had more or less emerged as the holiday we know today, resplendent in all its greeting card glory. How, then, did this largely English day of love spread to places as far away as Japan? Well, as the English are wont to do, they spread this particular custom along with many others across the globe as they planted their flag in other people’s soil, which accounts for the holiday’s considerable popularity in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. It was not until after World War I, however, when international communication, trade, and business tied the West to every other part of the world, that Saint Valentine’s Day was introduced in non-Western countries, and it was not until companies began marketing the day aggressively in international markets that the day became truly popular. One nation where pure The Harvard Independent • 02.10.11
Celebrating Valentine’s Day around the world.
marketing power made February Europe as it is in other parts of the for lovers and friends to exchange 14th the day of love is Japan, where world. Although the French toast tokens of affection and, in the case of the day revolves almost entirely cupid with moderate enthusiasm and migrant workers in particular, display around the purchase and giving of the Italians, Germans, and Dutch, their success in the form of gifts chocolates. The concept of the holiday among others, recognize the day as given to their girlfriends and wives. was introduced in an advertising an amusing American import, many Similarly, Guatemalans celebrate campaign by Morozoff Ltd., a Kobe- European countries do not celebrate February 14th as El Día de Cariño, based confectioner, in 1936. Today, Valentine’s Day because they have expressing affection towards friends, chocolate companies in Japan make their own traditional days of love. family, and colleagues with small almost half of their annual profits Portuguese women, and by gifts, especially chocolates. this time of year as women distribute extension, Brazilian women, celebrate In the end, although many giri-choko, or obligatory chocolates, to Dia dos Namorados on June 12 th might say that Valentine’s Day is the men in their office, tomo-choko to by writing the names of all of their a Western, and specifically British their friends, and, if they are lucky, crushes on pieces of paper, crumpling encroachment on the cultures of honmei-choko, or favorite chocolate, them up, and then opening one in others, it is not an encroachment that to their beloved. the morning, revealing their future has been repelled with any particular The introduction of Valentine’s husbands. Young Romanians pick venom, and is a holiday that has Day into the Japanese calendar was spring flowers for their crushes on been embraced by the people (and not the greatest achievement of the Dragobete, February 24 th, and the companies) of nations around the country’s candy industry however. In Slovenian day for romance is the feast world. And why would anyone resist the 1980s, an organized section of the industry led a marketing initiative encouraging men to return women’s affection the following month with gifts of white chocolate. It wasn’t long before giving gifts on March 14th, or White Day, had become a cultural expectation as well. Japan is hardly the only non-Western nation to be struck by cupid and all his commercialism. Korea celebrates both Valentine’s Day and White Day with chocolate as well, and even adds a third holiday Black Day, on April 14th, when those who did not receive gifts on either day get together to eat black noodles and lament their singledom in solidarity. Valentine’s Day is big business in places like India, Ghana, and Iran as well, where despite widespread criticism of the holiday for its roots in the culture of former colonizers, stores push heart-shaped chocolate boxes, greeting cards, flowers, and teddy bears on young couples in urban areas, and succeed. Indian flower exporters do about forty percent of their business in the months Maria Barragan-Santana / INDEPENDENT between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and flower growers in Kenya day of Saint Gregory, March 12th. Valentine’s Day? The Beatles once rely on their countrymen’s romantic Latin Americans’ enthusiasm said, “all you need is love,” and if this impulses to keep their enterprises for Valentine’s Day varies from is true, then there is no day better financially stable. country to country. The holiday’s than Valentine’s Day to give a little With all of this business tied to biggest Latin American proponents love and get a little love in return. Valentine’s Day in traditionally non- are in Mexico, where stores begin Christian countries, it is somewhat stocking red candies and heart-shaped Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@ surprising that the saint’s feast day everything soon after Christmas. El college) thinks a little more love in the is not as popular in many parts of Día del Amor y la Amistad is a chance world isn’t such a bad thing. firstname.lastname@example.org 3
Defying the Defiance of Love
Valentine’s Day is okay.
By CHRISTINE WOLFE It’s a day of love, of romance, of… because modern men are not romantic cynicism? To celebrate Valentine’s and don’t have muttonchops. I am the Day is to succumb to the commercial person who appreciates Valentine’s pressures of America and to admit Day, and I’m not ashamed of that. one’s weakness for genuine romance Of course, I believe that if you are — or at least that’s what I have lucky enough to be in a successful been told. People who are cool do relationship, you shouldn’t celebrate not like Valentine’s Day. In a world it only once a year. But what’s the in which couples don’t want to be harm in making one random day “labeled” for fear that someone might particularly special? Hallmark has make the horrendous mistake of thinking that Maria Barragan-Santana / INDEPENDENT two associated, sexuallyinvolved people actually like each other, Valentine’s Day is cast into the mainstream category of listening to pop music and ascribing to a political party. Love is just a term that the marketing executives invented to make Americans buy their products — a tool of our materialist, capitalist society. Give me a break. I hate obvious, ardent commercialism and the movie Valentine’s Day as much as the next person, but please. First of all, Valentine’s Day is an excuse to buy (or receive) excessive amounts of candy, and no one is too superior to engorge him or herself with rich, creamy chocolate and be sorry about it. I don’t care if hipsters have acknowledged your extreme nonchalance, your ability to watch Titanic and not cry and to watch Love Actually or Pride and Prejudice and not fall in love with just made it easy for you by inventing Colin Firth. And seriously, even if you a holiday in the middle of February. I have met so many people who can’t stand Valentine’s Day, what do say, “Well, we’re not really boyfriend you think about Valentine’s Night? (I and girlfriend.” What are you then? got you there). What’s so wrong with acknowledging I, for one, am not cool. I cried so particular affection? My theory on hard when I watched Titanic this this trend is as follows. The image of summer that the shaking of the couch the “typical heterosexual couple” is a awoke my sleeping dog. I can’t even pathetic, obnoxious girl who nags her handle watching Pride and Prejudice 4
apathetic boyfriend in order to force him to be more romantic, a concept to which he inherently objects. Modern girls, not wanting to fulfill that stereotype, pretend that they don’t care about their relationship as much as they imagine their boyfriend does not. This disinterest throws the guy completely off-track, because, let’s admit it, most guys are sort of helpless
without female guidance. They don’t understand why their girlfriend doesn’t care about the relationship, so they too, act disinterested. This self-perpetuating cycle continues until both are dressed in men’s flannel shirts, women’s skinny jeans, and hats that bear an uncanny resemblance to condoms. So we can come to two conclusions. The first is that hipsters
are just really confused normal people, and the second is that gay people are allowed to celebrate Valentine’s Day while simultaneously retaining coolness. This year, I ask that people try to be honest with themselves. Being in a committed relationship and desiring a little romance shouldn’t be shameful. It is natural to be excited when someone you admire lets you know that he or she also cares about you. The advertising executives take advantage of love because it has such a powerful impact on us. Just to drive the point home, here is one last scenario: a man/ woman in formal wear shows up at your door, holding a bouquet of roses. He/she takes you by the waist and escorts you to a romantic, expensive dinner for two. The lighting is quite dim, rather golden, and the tension shows like sparks between you both. Your date then subtly and delicately leans across the table, and whispers an offering to lick chocolate off of your hips and lips back at his or her apartment. If you pride yourself as one who doesn’t submit to the dominant stream of American thought, you’re telling yourself that you would say, “No, I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day,” and that you’d rather just watch Harold and Maude alone and not wait for that guy with the unique facial hair to call you and ask you to go to that concert and then jam with his trianglesymphonic band afterward. But if you’re not too cool to admit that love is something real, that it’s okay to enjoy it, and that you’d kill for someone to lick chocolate off of your naked body, celebrate love on Valentine’s Day. Christine Wolfe ’14 (cwolfe@college) knows where to find body chocolate… 02.10.11 • The Harvard Independent
Point Differing Views in the Indy
Who has it harder? Love at Harvard.
Not So Sour Without a Sweetheart By KALYN SAULSBERRY
Many female students are not fans of Valentine’s Day. To many, the day conjures up feelings of bitterness. This seems to occur regardless of whether or not they are in committed relationships when February 14 th strikes. For instance, many feel that a woman in a relationship should be disheartened if her significant other devotes only one day a year to expressing how special she is, especially if the significant other’s affection for her manifests itself only in purchasing commercial objects such as heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and generic Hallmark cards. On the other hand, if the woman is unattached, no matter how much self-confidence, beauty, and class she may possess, chances are that at some point during the day, she will inevitably experience a gloomy feeling of loneliness at the sight of all those red and pink balloons and teddy bears, even if they are commercial. Nevertheless, it is expected that a majority of Harvard females harbor a sour view of the holiday dedicated to sweethearts based on the general consensus of the nature of the dating scene here. Several upperclassmen interviewed for this article have reported two extremes about dating on campus: the infamous “hookup” culture and the handful of serious relationships with only a small number of people in the moderate category between the two extremes. One female upperclassman chuckled humorlessly while expressing an exasperated sigh, and explained to me that there was no Harvard dating scene. She went on to explain that “Harvard guys don’t seem to invite girls on casual dates” such as to dinner and a movie. She lamented the fact The Harvard Independent • 02.10.11
that she’d only had one experience throughout her three years here that she would coin as a date. This upperclassman’s experience seems to be the norm among college women in general and not just Harvard women. For example, at Wellesley College, female students complain that it’s difficult to get a date, even though many young men visit the campus during the weekends for parties. While it is generally accepted that the days of women not being allowed to ask guys on dates are long gone, the idea of asking a guy on a date still brings a sense of discomfort to some females. In fact, many women feel that the guy should make the first move, and they don’t want to risk seeming too forward or worse, too desperate. While the Freshman Dean’s Office and other organizations (such as our own) have attempted to create a dating scene on campus and foster positive Valentine’s Day moods by sponsoring speed-dating events to help single students meet, these events are often attended by a high percentage of women. As a result, it is unlikely for a young woman to find a date with a Harvard guy at such events. Although the dating scene leaves some women disappointed, Harvard women refuse to mope about being without a date on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps fortunately, this year the event falls on a Monday and, frankly, many Harvard women won’t have the time to spend the evening swooning over commercialized gifts surrounding the day that prides itself on trivializing the more emotional and substantive aspects of love. Kalyn Saulsberry ’14 (ksaulsberry@ college) has not yet given up on love at Harvard.
In the Minds of Men
By GARY GERBRANDT No matter what nightmares every girl on campus might have about Valentine’s Day, speaking on behalf of relatively normal, nonmuscle-bound athlete, non-final club member male Harvardians, I can honestly testify that we have no idea what you’re thinking, or even what nightmares you’re having, and this freaks us the hell out. We’re more focused on keeping up appearances than that single girl down the hall wearing more makeup than the typical college student in the Mascara Riots of 1846. We need, above all else, that fleeting contact with a female unit of humanity. Yet rarely, if ever, do we guys get even that. The environment on campus (I purposely exclude the male final clubs from this assertion) is skewed towards the ladies. Girls get to saunter around every day, turning heads as necessary to ensure, well, the promulgation of our species. But we guys have to work tirelessly just to get noticed. Too often, we get negative attention, like when that new scarf of ours looks a little bit too fashionable, or a clearly well-intentioned joke turns into a gender-relations crisis, or we dump a tray full of food and/or porcelain and/or multiple beverages all over the floor in Annenberg. It’s hard enough to attract that wonderful positive attention on a quotidian basis, but when Valentine’s Day rolls around, things get impossibly worse. Relationships begin immediately before the big day, relationships that even the acclaimed rationalist thinkers of political science would describe as “self-interested,” solely to fend off the suffocating loneliness of an allbut-empty dorm room on a frigid February night. Girls, meanwhile, are as nonchalant and impenetrably aloof as ever. They obviously have
better things on their mind, like how to shatter the soul of their increasingly desperate suitors. Even after Valentine’s Day, guys have to deal with the worst of the worst. Dating is impossible, if not outlawed, due to having actual assignments to hand in, being broke thanks to a collegestudent existence, living in a dorm environment which is specifically, and intentionally, non-conducive to emotion and the associated activities, and lacking choice and access thanks to the magic of sororities and final clubs. There is no way to start dating when there’s nobody out there to date. There is only so much a guy can do, after all. Unless somebody is protecting a mysterious secret of how to get the girl, we’re probably out of luck. Although there’s a decent chance that said secret is locked in the basement of some lab on campus — it is Harvard. At the best university in the world, things should be different! The playing field should be level, and not inherently tilted toward those lucky athletes in sports that require extremely buffed bods. Girls should be on the same level as guys out of fairness to everyone. Maybe this piece has just been a tirade against the fairer sex, but there is something distinctly unfair about the situation in which we guys find ourselves. There’s got to be something out there for us, something we have all forgotten, which will be the answer to our pleas. Considering we’re college students, it’s probably something simple, like showering. Gary Gerbrandt ’14 (garygerbrandt@college) wishes he were Mel Gibson (in the What Women Want era, that is). email@example.com 5
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder? Long-distance relationships in a college setting. By WHITNEY LEE
hile a change in locale can be a major life change, it can also mark a shift in relationship dynamics, particularly when the two involved go to different schools or live in different cities. For a couple, the move can put undue strain on a relationship, particularly if the relationship has just begun. In a typical relationship, the close proximity of one to the other allows for a preponderance of shared experiences: date nights, movies, trips, or simply hanging out. In a long-distance relationship, these experiences are replaced with e-mails, infrequent Facebook wall posts, and “Skype dates”. While some couples have little to no trouble keeping things romantic, for others, it is difficult to maintain the same level of connectedness when
become the ivy that destroys the foundation of a relationship, one of trust. For freshmen in college this issue is compounded by the newness of college experiences that can entice them into doing things that threaten the integrity of their relationship; things such as underage drinking, drug use, and sexual promiscuity are common and ‘accepted’ in the college setting. For freshmen attempting to find their own way within college social circles, manage academic and non-academic schedules, and have fun, having a boyfriend or girlfriend can feel like an anchor holding them back from forming lasting relationships with other people. Being in a long-distance relationship can end up feeling like not even being in a relationship, but simply having a “placeholder”, someone who will suffice
interesting if the pair is split between two Ivy League schools. The school competition and overlapping of social circles adds an element of intrigue and can actually spice things up. Being split between two Ivy League schools can alleviate some of the issues that long-distance relationships face in that many events and experiences are common to these schools. The relative ease of transit further simplifies things for couples that decide to travel to visit each other. Take, for example, Harvard, Yale, and Brown. If a pair is split between any of these schools it may not be as big of an issue, in that the schools are so connected, the issue of distance becomes moot. Sporting events such as the HarvardYale football game, Harvard-Brown football game, or any Harvard-[Insert Ivy League School] sporting event can
while simultaneously maintaining a romantic relationship. It can alleviate the pressure of having to choose between friends and romance, and can alleviate the drama that results from having an on-campus boyfriend or girlfriend because that person is removed from in-school drama and because the risk of breaking-up does not carry with it the risk of bumping into an ex every day on the way to class. Another benefit to having an offcampus romance is that each person in the relationship brings to the union a wealth of diverse experiences that can keep things interesting. Like all relationships, long-distance relationships should be carefully thought out and discussed beforehand. As in any relationship, things run more smoothly if the expectations and logistics of the situation are
"Infidelityis actually one of the biggest risks of a newly
long-distance relationship...the fact that one's significant other is not around to witness the act also adds a layer of secrecy that can
destroys the foundation of a relationship, one of trust." eventually become the ivy that
they go weeks or months without seeing each other. Separation brings with it the risks of falling out of love (or of lust), losing interest, and being unfaithful. Infidelity is actually one of the biggest risks of a newly longdistance relationship because the temptation is persistent while there are very few emotional deterrents. The fact that one’s significant other is not around to witness the act also adds a layer of secrecy that can eventually 6 firstname.lastname@example.org
until someone “better” comes along. Having to choose between potential physical contact with someone who attends the same school or lives in the same area, and having contact exist primarily on a virtual level can become a source of frustration and resentment, which can weigh heavily on an individual and ultimately prove to be a needless distraction that can damage someone emotionally and, perhaps, academically as well. This dynamic is made even more
be fun and convenient ways to spend time with one another during free time, and these experiences are even more enjoyable if one’s significant other is a varsity athlete. While for some long-distance relationships can be a source of stress, frustration, and pain, for others they can be just as meaningful and rich, if not more so, than typical relationships. For some, distance allows each partner to exist in a separate social circle
decided and agreed upon before the fact. Either way, the success or failure of the relationship is not solely dependent on proximity but rather the ideas of loyalty, respect, and, above all, love. Whitney Lee ’14 (whitneylee@ college) sometimes speaks from personal experience.
02.10.11 • The Harvard Independent
Cupid Cross-Dresses Not as weird as it seems.
Cupid’s confections. By CINDY HSU
alentine’s Day usually evokes two strong emotions at the opposite ends of the spectrum: love and hate. Okay, maybe the feelings people hold for this day aren’t so intense, but you get the idea. There are people who like it because for them, it is actually a special day when they get flowers, chocolates, and the like. Then there are people who feel that Valentine’s Day is really only a(nother) holiday that allows the candy industry to fully exploit consumers and convince them to buy lots of sweets. It’s similar to Halloween, but much more exclusive because only boyfriends or girlfriends get something. No wonder it makes single people unhappy. Nobody likes being excluded — especially when there is candy involved. Some might claim that single people who dislike Valentine’s Day are just bitter about being alone and are essentially party-poopers. However, that’s not true! Let’s rewind the years back to elementary school. In those days, Valentine’s Day didn’t discriminate against anyone, not even the single people. Everyone brought candy for everybody else along with cute little store-bought cards (99% chance that they had a Disney theme). And everybody, including all those single people, was happy. I mean, I liked Valentine’s Day back then, and I’m against excessive consumerism and the conspiracies hatched by florists, jewelers, and candy shops. To be fair though, I didn’t know any better then. Basically, Valentine’s Day divides us into couples and singles, where the couples enjoy the holiday while the singles don’t really celebrate it. The Harvard Independent • 02.10.11
But it doesn’t have to be this way! After all, we are citizens of the grand U.S. of A., and you know what that means. There is always at least one magical cure for whatever misery we may feel: shopping. Oh America, we are the land of consumers! And yes, I know I just said I don’t exactly approve of consumerism, but I’m not talking about shopping in general. I’m talking about the sales that come after Valentine’s Day, specifically the candy sales, because I could care less about stuffed animals with hearts sewn on them. I’ve had my anti-Valentine’sDay phase. But I’ve come around, and those days are now behind me. The aftermath of Valentine’s Day resembles any other holiday that requires a great deal of gifting and fuss. Stores end up with red and pink heart-shaped candies that they need to get rid of, so they put up these massive discounts and sales. To all ye singles, let those couples buy their chocolates at full price (it’s totally a rip-off). You, unlike them, don’t have to let the date constrain you, so what’s a day or two later when you can get such a better deal? Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be only about couples. It can be a holiday devoted to our shared love for candies, a celebration of the sweet tooth we all possess. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to separate us into different categories. In fact, it can even be seen as a great holiday, a holiday that unites us in candy consumption. Cindy Hsu ’14 (cindyhsu@college) is indulging her sweet tooth for February 15th.
By RIVA RILEY
nevitably, Valentine’s Day is criticized by a diverse mass of dissenters who assert that the holiday is ridiculous, a commercialized farce, a way for greeting card companies to increase revenues by forcing doilies and heart-shaped sugar pieces down our throats. For those who refuse to have romance on command and act loverly for the purposes of broadcasting their affections, I propose a different way to celebrate this dubious “holiday.” It was not my idea, and I deserve no credit for inventing it. This proposition actually belongs to my roommate, who last year organized a Valentine’s Day party whose central theme was cross-dressing. At best, this seems merely odd, but I assure you that we had more fun than even the most gushy of lovers. Guests were invited to cross-dress, we screened a movie that revolved around crossdressing (my roommate picked Some Like It Hot, which is wonderful), and people could, if they chose, make “valentines” out of bizarre scrap, such as heart-shaped lace and celebrity magazines. Granted, many people were not liberated enough to dress like the opposite sex, but some were, and many of them were so in to it that I did not recognize them when they first came in. Now, it may seem that we were merely a group of rather strange singles, but oddly, perhaps, many of us were actually dating somebody. People came in pairs, the guys moaning about the discomfort of high heels while the girls realized what a silly ornament a tie really is. Not only was it enormously funny to see
one’s significant other (temporarily) dressed in one’s own clothes, but the pairings made for an even more interesting contrast. I don’t want to overstate the profundity of our little event, but I’d like to think that people walked around in one another’s shoes (figuratively and literally) for a little bit that night. In some cosmic sense, this shoesharing, if you will, does seem like a fitting way to share love. My boyfriend at the time was, unfortunately, not willing to cross-dress (which was awkward for him, I imagine, because I had), but that a guy would be willing to experience and endure something as unpleasant and odd as high heels in order to understand something seems like a very good sign. In my humble opinion, the subtle differences in male and female culture are generally entertaining and often misunderstood (and exploited infinitely on sitcoms and in movies). Valentine’s Day seems like a perfect opportunity to get in touch with a tiny detail of your significant other’s life, even if it is something as trivial as what they wear. In any event, we at least got the satisfaction of playing minor rebels protesting a ridiculous holiday, and luckily, hilarity ensued. Nobody was uncomfortable, the security guards were confused, and there are some individuals I have seen in an entirely new light. We’re even doing it again this year. Riva Riley ‘12 (rjriley@fas) wore slacks and a tie even though it looked ridiculous. email@example.com
A film countdown for Valentine’s Day.
BY SAYANTAN DEB
o it’s the Valentine’s Day issue, and surprise, surprise, I’m back with a list: my pick for top five romantic movies. Now how could I make this unexpected, unpredictable, exciting? Well, here are my criteria for the list: NONE! What that means is that the movies can be in any language, it doesn’t have to be romantic love, and it can be amongst anyone. The only guidelines — it has to be a love story (in any form, truly), and it has to be good. And before you ask, no, Titanic doesn’t make the cut. 5. Paris, Je T’Aime: I promised no clichés, but this movie is more than its Paris setting. Yes, it is a story about love in Paris. But beyond that, it features eighteen snapshots of love, and two that run throughout the movie, by twenty different directors. Each has five to ten minutes to tell the audience what love means to him or her. My favorite by far is the segment by Tom Tykwer, a story that reminds one of the naïveté of love, when we are young, and how it comes crashing down as we grow older. It’s truly an eternal message that’s conveyed in a moment. The individual stories also lend themselves to proclaiming a love for the city of Paris itself — from its tourist spots to back alleys, the meandering Seine to the street cafés, this movie celebrates the city of love and embraces all of its flaws, much like love itself. 4. Ten Things I Hate About You: What’s more romantic than Shakespeare? High School heartbreak of course! This 90’s adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew” brings together two powerhouse talents, Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. They both despise love, but find it with each other not in school dances and petty dates, but in love poems and rock bands. Sparks fly as the two outcasts discover
that it is okay to sometimes listen to your heart, but not before they get caught in a scheme concocted by Stiles’ sister and her many admirers. Ultimately, the movie is a genuine teenage romance with a lot of integrity. 3. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge: Bollywood is big on romances, melodrama, family, and song and dance. You put them all together and in the right proportions to make the longest-running movie of all time: fifteen years and counting. The movie stars Bollywood’s iconic lead pair, Shahrukh Khan and Kajol, are at their romantic best — their chemistry is magical. As the two youngsters take a road trip through Europe, a series of events first drive them to despise and then eventually fall in love with each other. However, the girl’s father has already arranged a marriage for her, and she must decide between love and family. Never has a movie shown Europe with such affection and never has a couple more flamboyant than these two sauntered along the rolling Swiss plains lip synching to timeless songs like “Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jana Sanam,” which translates to “I only realized after I saw you.” The same can be said for the movie — who knew love could be so much fun! 2. The Sound of Music: Love doesn’t have to be romantic and this movie attests to love that blooms in very strata of family life. The motherless Von Trapp children crave love from their cold and distant father, only to be rescued by an unorthodox nanny, Maria, who teaches them how to sing, laugh, and love life. At the same time, a subtle romance blossoms between Maria and Captain Von Trapp, who has long forgotten how to love as he runs from the memories of his dead wife. Their lives seem to be taking shape, but when
the Nazis take over Austria, their world is turned upside down. The movie boasts two of the most beloved love songs of all time — the playful “I am Sixteen” and the more mature “Something Good” lay the foundation for the diversity of love. The movie goes beyond romance to explore love between a father and his children as the Captain learns to love them again after their mother’s death. The movie explores a love for music, the theme that brings Maria, the children and the Captain
are just three of the many stories that crisscross the city and the movie. The first snowfall that turns Christmas white, and the red and green bows and holly make the perfect backdrop for a movie that explores contemporary love at its cynical, greedy, charming, pressure-ridden, and magical best. At its core, Love Actually reaffirms that we are all searching for love, and by its end, gives us hope that we will find it one day, in one form or another. All we have to do is keep looking.
Maria Barragan-Sanatana / INDEPENDENT
together, and finally a love for a country. As the Captain says goodbye to his country with “Edelweiss,” we know he will return to his homeland one day. Until then, he brings along the loving memories of the Golden Age of Austria with him as the family leaves the country. Subtle, simple and elegant, this classic never gets old. 1. Love Actually: This is probably the most obvious choice of the five, but that doesn’t mean it deserves its spot any less. Christmas time in London brings with it several stories of people falling in love, lust, or utter desperation. The tender moments between a father and a son, the ludicrous attempts of a guy trying to get laid by the virtue of his accent, and the awkward chemistry between a Prime Minister and his assistant
What I hope you get out of this is a sense of adventure. Maybe this Valentine’s Day, don’t do dinner and a movie. Stay home and curl up with an obscure love story, or revisit some of the classics. Ultimately, through my humble selection, perhaps you will discover that love doesn’t have to be pink and red, or chocolates, champagne and flowers. It doesn’t have to be Hallmark or Paris. Love transcends all; even in the cynical age we live in, it can be found where you least expect it, especially when it comes to the motion pictures. Sayantan Deb ’14 (sayantandeb@college), the perennial optimist, will be spending Valentine’s Day alone, probably watching one or more of these movies, hoping that love will knock at his door one day. 02.10.11 • The Harvard Independent
No Strings Attached disappoints.
omantic comedies are by definition supposed to predictable — two characters dance around, often flimsy, plot complications for ninety minutes before reaching a happily-ever-after ending. And I usually—or guiltily—enjoy most of them. The latest reincarnation of this formula for quick bucks at the box office is No Strings Attached, starring Ashton Kutcher, a veteran of this genre, and Natalie Portman, a Oscar best actress contender. But unfortunately, this is no Bridget Jones’ Diary or Love Actually — in fact, the film is rather forgettable. Kutcher plays Adam, an aspiring television writer for a Glee-like show, trying to escape his famous father’s shadow. Portman plays Emma, an unsentimental emergency room doctor with little emotional attachments in her life. The two characters are bound by some sort of serendipitous/Hollywood fate: a series of chance encounters from when they were fellow teenage campers and college students (she at MIT and him at University of Michigan) lead them both to Los Angeles, where they become rapidly reacquainted. Adam gets drunk the night he discovers that his father is now dating his ex-girlfriend (the most solid conflict you’re going to get in this movie) and winds up at Emma’s apartment. It is here that they begin their “friends with benefits” relationship, and the
TV for Two
relationswhip goes downhill from there. No Strings Attached never seems to find its footing and jumps from one cliché obstacle to another, for example potential suitor for Emma is presented, but he turns out to be gay. Emma doesn’t want to commit to a relationship when Adam begins to develop feelings for her, and when she realizes she reciprocates, it seems like he has already moved on. Or has he? It’s a typical conundrum, made only marginally interesting by the gender reversal of the girl being the commitment-phobic one in the relationship (but even that is a popular trope nowadays, see Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs). No Strings Attached clearly relies on the namerecognition of its two leads for its box office success. But their performance is not enough to support an amateur script with predictable dialogue. Unlike other romantic comedies (and I’ve seen my share of them), there is no infectious charm that makes you cling onto these two characters. The material feels recycled, and so do the laughs. It is unfortunate that there is nothing redeeming about this film, considering the range Natalie Portman has demonstrated this past year. No Strings Attached will be forgotten in a year’s time, and deservedly so. Yuying Luo ’12 (yluo@fas) thinks you’d be better off watching Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
The top lovebirds of television.
t the height of February sweeps, every major network rolls out the best of the best — new episodes, special multi-partners, and most successfully, fresh romantic drama — just in time for Valentine’s Day. So far, fans have been rewarded with every shipper’s fantasy: photo shoots, special previews, and teaser spoilers about their favorite romantic pairings on every show. Here are my top five couples for the year: 1. Richard Castle/Kate Beckett on Castle: Currently the most intriguing will-they-or-won’t-they couple, the writer and the detective consistently make us laugh over their witty banter and sigh contently after Castle displays some sort of idiotically heroic behavior. Nathan Fillion is a god, and he brings heat, humor, and heart to his starring role as the hunky hero. Their chemistry guarantees that they will eventually ditch their current significant others and make a real relationship work – the question is whether it will take a decade à la CSI, Friends, or The X-Files, or if Episode 13’s steamy undercover smooch will speed up the process. 2. Kurt Hummel/Blaine on Glee: Two words: Teenage Dream. The swoon-worthy crooner’s rendition was on constant repeat in my room ever since the sneak peek. A fresh face on a breakout show for many stars, Blaine pulls off the preppy jacket and sleeked back hair well, portraying an openly gay student at the Dalton Academy. He becomes an inspiration for Kurt, giving him the courage to stand up to bullying and many reasons to obsessively pine after him. The attraction between them is evident in their rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Not only does the couple bring a much-needed drama-free relationship to the show, but they also made television history on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. We get the teenage love story of the decade (because it is a love story, one that transcends sexuality), filled with unapologetic, palpable romance — truly, a teenage dream. 02.10.11 • The Harvard Independent
By YUYING LUO
BY ANGELA SONG
3. Dr. Sheldon Lee Cooper/Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory: A guilty pleasure couple if there ever was one, but who doesn’t love cringing at the awkward moments that alleviate worries about our own social capabilities? Even if this romance never makes it out of the short-distance, same-room Skype relationship to the unsanitary, dreaded coitus, most people are content to watch them fumble through their own geeky version of what really cannot be called a functional relationship. And if Shamy ever does go their separate ways, Sheldon fans can be sure to see plenty of Zazzles lurking about. 4. Ted Mosby/The Unknown Mother on How I Met Your Mother: With Zoey looking like a long shot and Katy Perry a slim possibility, How I Met Your Mother is steamrolling through Season 6 with still no sign of the mother. Fans have been teased with many, many possibilities, including Robin, Stella, and Cindy, and tidbits that Future Ted drops to Future Kids: yellow umbrella, brunette, Cindy’s roommate. Hopefully when Ted finally meets The One, it won’t be as anticlimactic as Lost. 5. House/House on House: The eternal bachelor, House is one of those men that doesn’t deserve to be alone per se, but is too damaged to ever be able to selflessly give himself to another person. House is narcissistic, addicted to drugs, and complete incapable of being politically correct, yet he comes off as a womanizer and attracts beautiful women left and right. Many women find themselves drawn to the wounded type, but fair warning should come attached: House’s misanthropic views on the world almost guarantees that he’ll never commit for the long haul. Angela Song ’14 (angelasong@college) is slightly obsessed with TV.
Around Campus Valentine’s Day The Student Way An budget-friendly night out on the town for V-day.
omance is expensive — fancy dinners, fancy clothes, gifts, flora of various species: it adds up. This is especially true when you or your significant other is more artistically inclined, in which case visits to museums, galleries, cinemas and other abodes of culture can eat away quickly at an already alarmingly depleted bank account. And so, with that fateful day rapidly approaching, here are a number of options around the Boston area that will provide a wealth of artistic experience, even if you don’t have the funds to match. One caveat: T fare is not included in any of the prices, and some of them are a fair distance away. On the other hand, a long walk through the city can only add to the romantic atmosphere. Casablanca at Brattle Theatre: The Brattle Theatre, at 40 Brattle Street near Burdick’s, has always been a wonderful venue in which to enjoy a broad range of cinematic works: from old classics, to foreign films to an arthouse feature you would never otherwise see. The theatre itself seems to have mastered that level of imperfection and dinginess — from its cramped staircases to dog-eared posters — that can only be described as “cozy,” and its smaller
quarters offer the perfect atmosphere for cuddling with your beloved. And of course, what better film to incite the cuddling than Casablanca, the clever, exciting and hopelessly romantic classic starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, playing specially for the weekend of Valentine’s Day (February 13th and 14th) for the reasonable price of $9.75 per ticket. Alpha Gallery: While the cost of being an artist can range from sleep and mental health issues to the occasional appendage, the cost of viewing art — at this gallery at least — is far more welcoming. Alpha Gallery, located at 38 Newbury St, off of Arlington Station on the Green Line, offers visitors the chance to see work by emerging local artists free of charge. Their focus is on contemporary artwork in the media of sculpture, print and painting, though for the more technologically inclined, there are numerous exhibits involving video and digital media installations. It’s worth a day trip (they unfortunately have the early hours of 10-5:30 on Tuesdays to Friday, and 115:30 on Saturdays), even if you find contemporary art incomprehensible. At the very least, you and your loved one can bond over a shared confusion.
02.10.11 • The Harvard Independent
Mortified: Doomed Valentine’s Show: While Valentine’s Day is generally seen as a time to commemorate romantic successes, it is also the perfect time to ponder (and laugh about) endeavours of a less fruitful, and far more foolhardy, nature. Presented by the Coolidge Corner Theatre (in Brookline off the C line of the Green line), “Mortified: Doomed Valentine’ Show,” presented on the night of Valentine’s Day, offers adults the opportunity to share poems, journal entries, art and other creations borne out of the romantic angst of their teenage years. While it is the most expensive item on our list at $15 a person, the schadenfreude — and, perhaps, hardearned lessons — the show provides are sure to be invaluable. Lisztomania: Few composers have produced as many technically brilliant works Franz Liszt, and few places hold as many musicians able to rise to the challenge as the New England Conservatory of Music. On Friday, February 11th, The NEC’s piano chair Bruce Brubaker brings together the Conservatory’s piano students and Preparatory students for an extensive tribute to the virtuosic performer and composer, presented as one in a series of free concerts
BY MARC SHI for the public at the Conservatory’s famous Jordan Hall. A treat for the musically inclined, this concert is the chance to see a host of young talented musicians. A warning, however: prepare to feel quite inadequate in comparison. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench: Bringing together swinging jazz rhythms, an intimate view of Boston and an aesthetic strikingly reminiscent of the French New Wave, “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” is a musical romp through the ups and downs of romance. Directed by Damien Chazelle ’08, the film centers on Guy, played by trumpeter Jason Palmer, and Madeline (Desiree Garcia) as they weave in and out of each others’ lives, singing, dancing and playing great jazz along the way. The film, which recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, is showing at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Theatre the night of February 12th. While it is quite a distance away (about an hour by bus), this delightful little musical and its highly reasonable cost of $4 a ticket is well worth the cost. Marc Shi ’14 (mshi14@ college) says you’re welcome.
Harvard’s Major League Hero
Frank Herrmann ’06 gives me, and all Harvardians reason to root for him.
ith the Super Bowl over, and as pitchers and catchers report next week, it is finally time to open the book on another baseball season. Over the last few months I could not help but channel my inner Rogers Hornsby: “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” Now, as an Indians fan whose team has little hope of contending this year, why could I possibly be so emotionally invested in them? Cleveland has the youngest roster in the Major Leagues, and it will be exciting to watch an unpredictable, young team attempt to assert itself and mature into a group of contending players. Among the most intriguing players on the Tribe roster is a one with whom I have a personal connection. He is Frank Herrmann, a right-handed middle relief pitcher made his debut with Cleveland in the middle of the
By BRETT MICHAEL GIBLIN season last year. So what is this connection? Herrmann was signed out of Harvard by the Indians as an Undrafted Free Agent on August 15, 2005, by Phil Rossi. Although Herrmann, a resident of Eliot House, had not finished his coursework when he was signed, he would go back and get his degree in Economics in 2006. Harvard has an extensive, if not terribly distinguished baseball history. Charles W. Eliot, the man for whom Herrmann’s house was actually one of the most vocal opponents of the sport being played at the college. A legendary quote attributed to the imposing University President made his objections very clear in an entertaining manner, “Well, this year I’m told the team did well because one pitcher had a fine curve ball. I understand that a curve ball is thrown with a deliberate attempt to deceive. Harvard is not in the business of teaching deception.”
Herrmann however, is in the business of practicing deception; as the development of his changeup and slider will be keys to his ability sustain success in the majors. Herrmann’s tools are solid, but not spectacular, and as a result was never a top prospect. Herrmann made it to the majors riding these tools and an intelligent, strike-throwing approach to his pitching. 2010 was a break-out year for Herrmann. He forced his way into the majors by appearing in 28.1 innings at AAA Columbus with an almost unbelievable 0.31 earned run average. He would make his debut on June 4, 2010, becoming the first Harvard pitcher to appear in the Majors Leagues in twenty years. Herrmann would go on to appear in 40 games for the Tribe, and looks to be a stabilizing force in a young bullpen, which projects to be one of the league’s best in 2011. Since beginning his professional career, Herrmann
has maintained his ties to Harvard. During his first year in the Minor Leagues, Herrmann wrote a column for The Harvard Crimson detailing his life (a few of which were headed by the title “Ballpark Frank”). He also returned to campus in November, and was married in a ceremony at Memorial Church. Needless to say, I already have an authentic #56 Herrmann jersey hanging in my Eliot House room. Hopefully, Herrmann will continue to enjoy success on baseball’s biggest stage, and will continue to enrich Harvard through his success. Brett Michael Giblin ’11 (bmgiblin@ fas) believes that there are 56 reasons that the Indians will win the World Series. Numbers 1-55 are collectively Carlos “Black Magic” Santana. Number 56, is of course, Frank Herrmann.
Superbowl Monday BY MICHAEL ALTMAN
hether it was the Superbowl or the inevitable defeat of the Buffalo Bills, my godfather would preface every football game with some words of wisdom: “No matter who wins or loses this game, we all have work on Monday.” When I was younger, I assumed he was just complaining about work because that is all grownups have to talk about. However, I now realize how brilliant his observation was. Despite all the talk about teams making history, will you really remember this year’s Superbowl next weekend? How about next year? How many Mondays were affected by the Packer’s victory and the Steelers’ loss? As nihilist as all this sounds, I thoroughly enjoyed moving on with my life after Superbowl XLV. Don’t get me wrong—both teams played well and it was fairly close and exciting at the end. But good football is on every Sunday night during the season. What make the Superbowl “Super” are the extra trimmings, namely the commercials and halftime show; the The Harvard Independent • 02.10.11
This year’s Superbowl was anything but super. And yet, life continues.
former lacked their typical humor and the latter was hilarious for all the wrong reasons. After Christina Aguilera botched the lyrics to the national anthem, I should have lowered my expectations from the get-go. However, in an age where divas have forgone skimpy outfits for meat dresses and teenage guys are considered talented for appearing to be little girls, I suppose my expectations were already at rock bottom. It is not outlandish to say that at around three million dollars for thirty seconds of advertisement, companies should produce entertaining and well thought out commercials. During the Superbowl, companies (especially beer companies) usually achieve funny and occasionally hit well thought out. This year’s commercials reinforced the traditional ad themes: guys want sex and beer, girls are too demanding, cute animals will captivate any audience, and Go Daddy.com is your number one destination for hot girls
and domain names (in that order). The standouts featured a little Darth Vader, a bizarre encounter between Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber, a Dorito lovin’ dog and a life saving beaver. However, many commercials left viewers scratching their heads. Snickers tried recreating last year’s hit commercial featuring Betty White by hitting Roseanne Barr with a giant log. It fell flat, just like Roseanne. Go Daddy.com should face indecent exposure charges for their decision to feature a scantily clad Joan Rivers as their new Go Daddy Girl. Groupon showed a complete lack of taste by poking fun at the issues facing Tibet— apparently it’s better to save money with a coupon for a Tibetan restaurant than to support Tibetans in need. Alas, even the greatest of Superbowl commercials could not have made up for the debacle known as the Superbowl XLV half time show. It played out similarly to the war in Iraq: just as the Bush Administration proposed the invasion under the assumption that Saddam had WMDs,
the halftime show was proposed under the assumption that the Black Eyed Peas could play music for a live concert. Not even combined abilities of Slash and Usher could salvage the debacle. The performance was plagued by both the technical wizardry of the band’s Tron themed outfits and the technical issues of the sound system (or seeming lack thereof). But hey, it must be a good sign if everyone in the room is laughing during your show, right? Maybe my cynicism stems from a general disappointment in the current state of American culture. Maybe it’s because I am a Bills fan and simply mentioning the Superbowl opens the floodgates for feelings of shame. No matter the reason, the post-Superbowl Monday came for me the same as it came for everyone who isn’t a Green Bay Packer: with lots of complaining and wishing it were yesterday. Michael Altman ’14 (maltman@fas) hopes that he never watches another football game that features close-up shots of Alex Rodriguez being fed popcorn. firstname.lastname@example.org
captured & shot By MARIA BARRAGAN-SANTANA