COVER DESIGN JOHN HANAWALT PHOTOGRAPHY GEOFF ELLIOT ROBOT ART CLUB
TOM LALLY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
ANDREA ALES ART EDITOR
LAURA LOMBARDO ASSISTANT ART EDITOR
ALLY DICENSO FILM EDITOR DAN PERRY ASSISTANT FILM EDITOR GRACE LAPOINTE LITERATURE EDITOR CASEY KAPALKO MUSIC EDITOR JONATHAN SIROIS CULTURE EDITOR JOHN HANAWALT DESIGN DIRECTOR ASHLEY TREBISACCI COPY EDITOR MOLLY LITTLE SECRETARY SCOTT MARKOSKI WEB EDITOR PROFESSOR JARED GREEN ADVISOR
(COVER–9, 16–19, 22–31, 36, 40–42, 48–53)
ASHLEY JOHNSTON (14–15)
SHARON MCELROY (37, 46–47)
STACY SCHIPELLITE (16–17)
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
It’s the end of another semester, and that means it’s time for another edition of Rolling Stonehill—so thanks for picking us up again. I hope you won’t notice many changes this time around. We’ve made some real progress, especially visually, throughout the last couple of semesters. Although this is my first issue as Editorin-Chief, I am confident that we’ve maintained—and hopeful that we’ve exceeded— the high standard we’ve set for ourselves. The writing is once again superb, and the layout looks as sharp as ever. For that, Rolling Stonehill is deeply indebted to one John Hanawalt. He was the lead graphic designer for this issue, and the sole designer for our last two issues. Any praise for their visual appeal is unquestionably attributable to him. Unfortunately for us, John is graduating at the end of this semester. It has been a pleasure to work with him—sharing the joys of great articles, the pressure of deadlines, and the problems that inevitably arise when you want hundreds of copies of something. He has set the graphic design bar very high for Rolling Stonehill, and it is one we will be working hard to meet next semester. I wish John the best of luck with whatever endeavors life has in store for him. If you’ve read this far into my letter, I applaud you. Our culture of instant gratification has increasingly come to expect sound bites, top ten lists, attentiongrabbing headlines, and other unsubstantive content. Rolling Stonehill continues to resist this trend. If you take the time to really read through an article or two, you’ll find thoughtful perspectives offering insightful critical engagement with all aspects of culture. That is the product we aim to produce; I hope the greater Stonehill community will prove that there is still a space in our campus culture for such reflective analyses. Perhaps you’ll walk away from this issue and decide to check out a film or artist you hadn’t considered before. Or maybe you’ll determine to stay away from something. We all know that there is a lot which can be said about culture. At the very least, I hope we prove that a lot of those things, when said well, are actually worth saying.
Tom Lally Editor-in-Chief
MUSIC 02 VENUES Tom Lally Erin Horan 04 SMALL MUSIC Kat Hemming 06 JAMIE T KINGS AND QUEENS Reviewed by Ashley Savard 07 KID CUDI MAN ON THE MOON: THE END OF DAY Reviewed by Rex Macapinlac 08 MAGNETIC VIBES Ashley Bagley 10 EMO REVISITED Casey Kapalko
FILM 12 MARY WHO: FAN FICTION, GENDER, AND THE FUTURE OF CINEMA Ally Di Censo 14 (100) MOVIES OF SUMMER Daniel Perry
16 STAR TREK: LEGEND THROUGHOUT THE YEARS Stacy Schipellite
36 IN DEFENSE OF FOOD: AN EATER’S MANIFESTO BY MICHAEL POLLAN Reviewed by Erin Horanzy
18 A TITILLATING EXPLORATION OF JENNIFER’S BODY Will Grandmont
37 OLIVE KITTERIDGE BY ELIZABETH STROUT Reviewed by Grace Lapointe
19 FOR HUMANS ONLY: THE STORY BEHIND DISTRICT 9 Michelle Virshup
38 TELEVISION REVIEWS Rebecca Plock
20 GO WEST, YOUNG MOVIE LOVERS! Ally Di Censo
40 CORNERS + SQUARES Silvana Vivas
ART 22 STUDENT PORTFOLIO Andrea Ales, Ariel Bowen, Geoff Elliot, Gerald Espinosa, Will Fisher, Caroline Gennaro, John Hanawalt, Polina Laboutina, Jill Maffeo, Vlada Shelkova, Laura Sidla
LITERATURE 32 THE NOVELTY OF TIME Ashley Savard 34 SAFRAN FOER’S EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE Reviewed by Tom Lally
43 ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH Reviewed by Justin Corriveault 46 ROAD TRIP: VERMONT Scott Markoski 48 THE LOVELY STENCH OF URINE, SWEAT & RASPBERRY TEQUILA: A SHORT PIECE OF GONZO Ted Wynne 50 5XFIVE: FIVE PEOPLE ON CAMPUS PICK THE 5 THINGS THEY’RE OBSESSED WITH
You just got the opportunity of a lifetime: your favorite band is willing to play a show—for you—anywhere you want. So what venue do you choose? Do you send them to Gillette Stadium for a screaming crowd of tens of thousands? Or do you rent out your favorite bar or night club for a few hundred of your closest friends? It might be pretty unlikely that most bands are willing to play many private shows, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. When it comes to seeing any band perform live, venue matters. There’s no universal standard for judging; so much of it depends on personal preference, who’s performing, and what kind of crowd they attract. But there are a lot of places that usually provide a vastly better experience than ultra-commercialized spaces like the Comcast Center or Gillette Stadium. Some are pretty large while others are comparatively small; some your parents have heard of and others are known only to the musically-minded. Below you’ll find descriptions of, and reasons why you should consider checking out, some of the “other” musical venues in the Boston/Providence area. — TOM LALLY
2 ROLLING STONEHILL
THE MIDDLE EAST, CAMBRIDGE, BOSTON First up is The Middle East, located on Mass Ave in Cambridge. You can drive and try to park—it’s not the most congested part of Boston—but with easy T access from the Red Line, that’s probably the way to go. The Middle East combines a trendy restaurant/café/wifi hotspot upstairs with a bar and open music space downstairs. But music is in the blood of this popular location: live or recorded music plays upstairs 7 nights a week (plus belly dancing on Wednesdays). The downstairs bar, however, is where The Middle East shines musically. The small open space, sans windows, makes for an intimate setting of several hundred people. The stage is only slightly raised—just enough to see from the back—so anyone willing to go early enough can get some standing-room space close enough to touch their favorite performer. The acts are a mix of pretty obscure local bands with international hits from the indie scene. The Walkmen, Ludo, Streetlight Manifesto, Ted Leo, Immortal Technique, Iron & Wine, Cake, Bang Camaro, Alkaline Trio, and The Spill Canvas are some of the acts who have performed there in the past. Sometimes a 21+ section is separated on one side (ID is, of course, required); however, most events are 18+, so any Stonehill student can get in without having to deal with irksome high schoolers. There’s something going on most nights of the week, and the price of admission ranges from $10 to $20 for most shows. With the intimate atmosphere and awesome music, it may be one of the best deals in town.
LUPO’S, PROVIDENCE Next we’re going to check out Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, more commonly referred to simply as Lupo’s. It’s located on Washington Street in Providence, between Brown University and the mall, and not far from where Waterfire happens. Inside is a mix of spaces. You can get right up to the stage in the pit if you’re prepared for a little bit of sweaty madness. For those looking for a more laid back experience, some 30-foot high rafters give a unique perspective on the stage. There are several bars situated around and in the otherwise open lower floor space, but no age limit for most shows. Capacity is roughly a few thousand people. Lupo’s location makes it significantly easier to drive and park (various private lots are located nearby) than it would be with a larger venue or almost anywhere in Boston. Lupo’s has a good mix of local bands (notably ZOX and Neo Nouveau from Providence), but they also include some more well known acts. Past shows have featured The Veronicas, Lamb of God, Senses Fail, AFI, and All Time Low. Accordingly, the prices have a slight range: cheap shows might be $15 to $25, while a ticket for a more popular act might set you back $40 or $50. But why pay much more for a binocularlevel seat when you can stand right in front of the stage at Lupo’s?
FENWAY PARK, BOSTON, REVIEWED BY ERIN HORAN This past summer, I saw the Dave Matthews Band play at Fenway. There is something special about a musical event happening in a place with a separate purpose—the affair feels spontaneous, innovative. The venue becomes almost as big a draw as the actual act. I admit, location was a large part of my reason for attending the concert. I’m not the biggest DMB fan, but as a frequenter of Red Sox home games, I was curious what a concert there would be like. And I found that the magic of Fenway is a perfect background for any event. The place exudes a connecting feeling, established over years and years of solidarity and support of a talented, struggling team whose value was its hope. The Boston accents and dirty language, the grody looking seats and concrete floors, the green monster, Pesky’s Pole, the team spirit and camaraderie, the smell of beer and peanuts… there is no place like Fenway! Fenway Park is Major League baseball, past (it’s the oldest ballpark in America) present (we’re currently setting the record for continuously sold out games), and future (popular family events, ballgames, expose the young generation to our nation’s favorite pastime). And Major League baseball has traditionally fostered a sense of spirit and pride that connects and sustains communities of fans. DMB put on a great show, but I know the fact that the concert was at Fenway Park colored my perception of the night. As a music venue, Fenway brings a charm, character, and sense of deep-rooted community that few other places can offer.
PHOTOGRAPHY: RODOLFO CLIX
FALL 2009 MUSIC 3
SMALL MUSIC KAT HEMMING
If you don’t own an iPod, or something similar, you must live under a rock. Everywhere I go, I see people walking around wearing those tiny ear buds, off in their own little world. I, myself, am guilty of this. Technology is advancing every day, making it easier for us to listen to music and to bring it with us; but also making it easier to block out other people. The goal of companies like Apple is to make music players as small as possible to be more convenient for listeners. In the process, however, we’re isolating ourselves from everyone else. Music used to be communal. Over time, listening to music has become a personal experience that we use as a way to escape from other people and the world around us. The feeling of community that used to exist before the era of the iPod is now a thing of the past. Music has become something small that we can control and bring everywhere rather than a large uniting force. The only way that music is still “big” in modern culture is at concerts. Hundreds of fans can gather together to celebrate and appreciate a band or artist that they all like. But even then it’s not really about the music or sharing your love of the band with other people at the concert. Instead, it’s about the experience of “the show,” sitting in the front row, taking videos and pictures for Facebook, buying merch and then meeting the band. Even then music isn’t truly communal, just commercial. Even if community in music isn’t as common anymore, I try to keep the feeling alive and well. I’m a committed maker of mix CDs, in part because I like to give my friends songs that mean something to me, but also because it brings us together. Some of my strongest music-related memories involve sharing the music that I love with others. In this way, to me at least, music is still “big.” Whether it’s playing a CD in the car or on your stereo with friends, listening to music in this way makes it more like it should be—an experience that people can share. Even if the song is only playing in the background, sometime in the future you may think back to that particular moment when you hear that song again and remember the people you were with and how you felt. There’s a line in a Jack’s Mannequin song about “trying to write this big music.” I think that should be the goal of bands in the future: use their music to bring people together, as a force for communion rather than division. There are already so many dividing factors among music fans, what with so many different genres and sub-genres that any way to bring all of us together would be beneficial. This division has become more severe because of technology, not only in the way we listen to music, but how we buy it. Less and less common are those fans that make a point of purchasing hard copies of albums from a store when it’s so much easier to just buy the same music on iTunes or another online music store. Even though this is cheaper, easier, and caters to a larger audience, there’s hardly any relationship between the artist and the fan anymore. How many people can even name all the members of their favorite bands anymore? This distance can be bridged by going to shows and creating an attachment to the music rather than to your headphones. Then, when you meet the band after the show, you can tell them how much their music means to you rather than just snapping your new profile picture with them. Even though the process of making music smaller has been a good thing for companies like Apple and even for bands, who have both profited from the change, it hasn’t been a beneficial change for us as fans. Sure, now we can buy an album with the click of a button instead of having to drive somewhere to buy it, but the feeling of community that used to exist between fans has become a rare thing. We can keep our music private and personal, but is that really a good thing? I think that, to an extent, it’s not. Music, by its very nature, is something that is better enjoyed with other people. Listening to music together with friends is an experience that makes music big again and something everyone can participate in and share. It also helps to broaden our musical horizons and perhaps discover music that we never would have found without being introduced to it. So instead of putting on your head phones tonight, turn up the stereo.
PHOTOGRAPHY: DANIEL DIÁZ
4 ROLLING STONEHILL
FALL 2009 MUSIC 5
PHOTOGRAPHY: WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/VCFERRY (OPPOSITE) WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/FARMDOG
It was a “Recommended For You” discovery on Youtube.com well. The NME Awards recognized his talent and voted him the late in June. The song: “Sticks ‘N Stones” soon to become my Best Solo Artist in 2007. new summer anthem. The artist: Jamie Treays, otherwise Treays also appeared on a U.S. tour in 2007 after the release known as “Jamie T”. The pop/hip-hop feel of the song allows of the acclaimed Panic Prevention album. The album is slightly you to dance around to the chorus while still rapping out the schizophrenic musically, drawing themes and styles from many lyrics with a smile. The song—mostly about adolescent loves different kinds of music, but is endearing nonetheless. “If You lost, boyish ramblings, and the overall drama of growing Got the Money” is largely considered a Jamie T “anthem” while up—puts a positive spin on the difficulties of life. In a way, “Dry Off Your Cheeks” makes a great dance tune and “Back in it’s a nostalgic song with rhyming lyrics, a punk-pop sounding the Game” seems almost folksy in the way Jamie T sings it. The chorus, and shockingly insightful messages. It had me pulling lyrics are a work of genius throughout the album. He describes out my debit card and typing the song into my iTunes store nightlife in London when he sings “girls singing on the bus, almost immediately. The album, Kings and Queens, deals with fellas kicking up a fuss, crying out sighs, but they’re still looking everything from underage drinking, to drug addictions, and dangerous”. Another of his famous songs, “Sheila” opens up relationship problems. By the end of it, Jamie T is still “running with Jamie T singing solo, accompanied only by quiet symbols. with believers” (his friends) and not allowing the “sticks ‘n stones” The rest of the song has fantastic background music, matching of life to get him down. Jamie’s fantastically memorable lyrics. Jamie T has the classic indie-rock vibe, having originally Jamie T’s goal in creating his second album was to skip over recorded many of his songs on his own Pacemaker album. that second-album-slump, as if he was creating his third album Though he now works with Virgin Records, he still holds onto instead (Jamie-T.com). He certainly succeeded in producing an his indie background, and every once in a while records songs album that once again is entirely his own. “Chaka Demus” is a in sheds and houses. He’s been compared to Vampire Weekend, natural hit, and songs like “Jilly Armeen” and “Emily’s Heart” give Bloc Party, The Pigeon Detectives, and the Born Ruffians and Jamie T the opportunity to really sing, sounding almost croonalthough he has also been called a “one-man Arctic Monkey” like. Overall, the album is a testament to the young Brit’s talent. by his fans Jamie T created a style that is entirely his own. His Although some fans might be arguing that his new stuff is less extensive variety of influences can be heard in all of his songs; hip-hoppy and more poetic and vocal, this album has definitely he loves the Clash, but also admitted to being influenced by the given Treays an opportunity to explore his musical options and Beastie Boys and Bob Dylan. remember his punk roots. He wants to stay away from being So why hasn’t Jamie T made the jump across the pond? stuck into a specific genre and isn’t interested in the “same shit Plenty of Jamie’s influences have done it, so why aren’t his bands” that have “too much hype” around them. Although he’s songs pushing to the top of U.S. pop charts? Jamie himself been compared to tons of other indie bands, all in all Jamie recognizes that his lyrics and his style might be too uniquely Treays is simply Jamie T. “English”, and doesn’t expect others to accept it or understand it. The Clash were a similarly unique English band, and drew from similar musical genres as Jamie T, including reggae, punk, ska, funk, and rap, yet they managed to make the transatlantic leap. His style is crazy too. But the Clash did it, so perhaps it has something to do with English references and allusions. Jamie T mentions being “stuck in Hampton-Wick” in “Sticks ‘N Stones”, as well as lingo that turns from “cockney to the gringo” in “Sheila”. This is a concept Americans may have a hard time relating to. Or perhaps it is simply the fact that some of Jamie T’s lyrics are difficult to understand because of his own thick South London accent (he is in fact from Wimbledon). Yet, the relative American obscurity is almost an attractive feature of this young artist. To think there is such a talented kid writing music and recording it in a faraway shed in England sounds exciting to anyone who might be tired of the typical out-of-touch musician. Despite his obscurity in the United States, Jamie T can be considered a household name in the United Kingdom. “If You Got the Money” reached number 13 in the UK top 40, and “Calm Down Dearest,” also from his first album Panic Prevention, reached number 9. “Sticks ‘N Stones” from his latest album Kings and Queens recently reached number 15 in the pop charts as
JAMIE T KINGS AND QUEENS REVIEWED BY ASHLEY SAVARD
6 ROLLING STONEHILL
Kid Cudi needs a doctor. Not only does he proclaim himself as the “lonely stoner” but he also feels so distant from the world that he compares himself to a martian. For those who were fans of the sleepy, ethereal single, “Day and Nite,” MOTM guarantees lover on a high—in more ways than one. Within the listener a deeper, darker descent into Cudi’s the song, he reminisces upon a time when he and realm as the lonely stoner. his girlfriend first tried shrooms, over a psychedelic Cudi, born as Scott Mescudi, delivers his first house beat, overloaded with electric keyboards and solo effort with a greater display of fluctuating a building chord progression. emotion than a preteen in puberty by celebrating Luckily, the “Man on the Moon” does not his blessings and tragedies, simultaneously. The have to travel the journey alone. Cudi gets some world of the lonely stoner is illustrated as Cudi help from friends including rappers Common portrays himself on both ends of the spectrum: as a and Kanye West on the choppy, boom bap-esque, troubled loner dealing with night terrors and on the “Make Her Say.” Even indie bands Ratatat and edge of mental breakdown, (“Mr. Solo Dolo”) and a MGMT make an appearance on the slow burner, man with a “Heart of a Lion” coming to terms with “Pursuit of Happiness,” in which Cudi smiles his isolation (“Up, Up, and Away”). upon his successes and triumphs, over Ratatat’s Despite the celebrity status Kid Cudi has crunchy percussion and light piano trills. gained with his recent cameos on mixtapes and And yes, the story does end on a happy on Kanye West’s latest album, 808’s and Heartbreak, note. Cudi finds himself “perfectly at peace” and the real appeal lies in Cudi’s vulnerability. With self confident in the things that make him an all of the internal demons shown in his self individual, on the acoustic guitar laden outro, consciousness, self depreciation, and “woe-is- “Up, Up, and Away.” me” attitude, his fragility is easily and ironically There are still some moments on MOTM one of his most appealing traits. that make the album questionable. Cudi zones Unlike the stereotypically tortured artist in on himself and his own troubles too often, who masquerades around while flaunting never actually reflecting on matters pertaining a broken heart, Kid Cudi is truly sad, and to society, or the outside world. And Common’s is rightfully so. Cudi’s closet is chock full of narration is just plain tacky. skeletons. He first cracks that closet door open The album is nonetheless a very bold effort, with the guitar riffed, synth pool of “Soundtrack which shines especially bright in the current to My Life,” on which he mourns the death of his hip hop mainstream environment of ringtone father, who died when he was only eleven. On rappers and short lived dance crazes. No one the ghostly “My World,” he further explains his could ask for more from Cudi as he bears his soul degeneration into an introvert who possessed for all to see. And although MOTM is not exactly “the lowest self esteem” which followed after his perfect, maybe the album’s quality only furthers father’s death. The song, which illustrates Cudi’s Cudi’s message that nobody’s perfect. We’re only distance from the world around him, is written human. Unless you’re a martian, too. from the perspective of a martian who vows to take over the same world that cast him out. Cudi’s pessimism only serves to accentuate and make his moments of triumph and happiness stand out as true gems. The spacey, uptempo “Enter Galactic (Love Connection Pt. 1),” exposes Cudi as a
KID CUDI MAN ON THE MOON: THE END OF DAY REVIEWED BY REX MACAPINLAC FALL 2009 MUSIC 7
With eleven members, a constantly rotating blend of instruments, and a sound that defies categorization, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have electrified the L.A. music scene. This hippie-culture tribe of musicians is led by Alex Ebert, quite possibly the most eccentric frontman since Jim Morrison. Edward Sharpe, in fact, does not exist; the name derives from Alex Ebert’s alter-ego. Somewhere between Jesus and Charles Manson (aren’t we all), Ebert conducts this group on stage like a possessed preacher. Their eclectic sound is really an infusion of various styles, including folk-rock, blues, soul, and a pseudo-psychedelic, indie rock that creates a uniquely timeless appeal.
Sounding at times like Bob Dylan (“Janglin”) and at times like Johnny Cash (“Black Water”), the range of Ebert’s voice soars, scrapes, and sucks you in. Band members employ their voices as instruments, as well as carefully timed clapping, snapping and stomping, so that they themselves become part of the melody. The impressive array of instruments changes with each song; between the eleven members, there are multiple guitars and drums, bass, keyboards, ukulele, viola, trumpet, accordion, tambourine, and various hand held instruments.
In L.A., the band has racked up a die-hard base, but they remain mostly unknown across the Their style, so rooted in the jam band era of the country. Still, with their debut album Up From ‘60s, cannot be fully captured on a studio album; Below released in July, a recent appearance on thus, it is their live performances that are the Letterman, and an article in Rolling Stone, this most liberating. Conjuring images of the Grateful unlikely act may be teetering on the verge of Dead and The Band, their live shows (which recognition. can be viewed on YouTube) are an almost cultThe album is an experience in itself; a fourteen like experience of energy and emotion. Ebert track experiment with different genres, different (who, incidentally, intends to start a commune) eras, and different voices. Among their standout transforms on stage into a writhing, crazed artist, songs are “Janglin”, a cultish song seeped in the seemingly possessed by the power of his own blues; “Up From Below”, the soaring title track; music. While the hippie, communal aura of this “40 Day Dream”, a steady jam with a solid beat; band is most definitely a carefully constructed and “Home”, their most commercialized song, and choreographed performance, the important featuring a duet between Ebert and girlfriend thing is that it works for them—they make good Jade Castrinos. The songs draw together a wide music and they put on a very moving live show. range of styles, from an African tribal sound On stage, everything comes together for the in “Brother” to a track sung almost entirely in Magnetic Zeros with a cohesive, overpowering Spanish (“Kisses Over Babylon”). Both spiritual transcendence. There is something for everyone and apocalyptic, Ebert’s songs reveal a break to be found in this band, not the least of which from the past and a hopeful longing for the is a refreshing change from the status quo. For future, conveyed in lyrics like: “I’ve already all their eclecticism and absurdities, this band is suffered, God, I want you to know/I’m riding on nothing if not magnetic. Hell’s hot flames, coming up from below”. The album ends with a song about forever (“Om Nashi Me”), and leaves the impression that they’ll be playing into infinity.
8 ROLLING STONEHILL
FALL 2009 MUSIC 9
EMO REVISITED CASEY KAPALKO
10 ROLLING STONEHILL
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I ver. sce rm could tablished zi sings: “I rics, howe hardcore s a te ly -e g e e u re F th p th f h o e it usic to sw e th Kaye ..Now I’m Emo begin ,” vocalist Ian Mac ngs outsid h knowledge in m and /. o s re f fo o e b ure enoug another on dying rics like Me The C don’t claim ing one style over too hard ality of ly t u q h ut by g e u v o re ti p a th th r so here, b e some ra (o e purg never e g h m e T in e o e th .” d d f g o in m y fro ed nd, w thers ns feeling th will refrain Emo and not sou ing and and o ) caught on with fa I b o ’s s e y a K ac ce rics as concern e not just these in M g on your preferen defining ly set of questions to overtak ure. w in e it’s d re g n e is p w e rs a ne . So, whil n, era d catha n cult re n f e e n o te e p d f g o n o e e n tr th io w f this large port o beat do ht have finition o and soon on the Em ome but a al endeavors mig bands, the de c nd in a to in s lt d u jo s n a in to the b music ther pting k the o c y m e t n h te u a c b m ” to re , h it first. MacKaye’s hoot of “emo-co soft-toned ay be wort own taste in music e m th it s d ff e s o fu r e l Estate in emotiona about you started th Day Real to the new style of ne still think y n n u S like vocals music sce usic sounding le of this ty s feminine die” m e th ute to “in g. Yet b n e ri ti tt ri a w e c w at lyri ude of th re like wh ark garb and attit l “emoo m d e m a see the d se origin uring less like from the d d t e if now and c h u s d e . Th sic pro d u n m e the tr f o o e Em ace than e typ tr th to to lt s u d y c core” ban ears is more diffi greed upon, histor y a t y the recen plained, and usuall ex previously . re n of the ge
FALL 2009 MUSIC 11
Mary scanned the ballroom floor, her violet eyes sweeping across the groups of witches and wizards dancing and laughing. She anxiously twirled her bright red hair around her finger, wondering where he could be. Then Mary saw him standing forlornly at the end of the room. Draco Malfoy looked lonely, all right, but also especially handsome in his dark suit. The moonlight seemed to bring out the starry gleam in his eyes. Mary approached him. “Uh, Draco?” she asked apprehensively. “Would you like to dance?” Draco’s face broke into a shy grin. “Oh, Mary! I thought you’d never ask!”
No, this isn’t a deleted scene from Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince. This is a simplified example of what some people call a Mary Sue-driven fan fiction. Still confused? I don’t blame you. I wasn’t too sure of what fan fiction was either until a friend introduced me several years ago. At its most common usage, “fan fiction” refers to written works
(usually short stories) created by fans of a certain film or film series, television show, or piece of literature. Fan fictions can tell of new adventures using the characters from the source, or writers can also bring in original characters to interact with the ones from the canon. I am by no means a devotee of fan fiction, but the idea of it intrigues me greatly. Imagine being so devoted to a certain artwork that you feel compelled to trace the lives of its characters and create stories about them! If I were an author or a film director, I would feel proud that my work spoke so profoundly to certain people.
MARY WHO: FAN FICTION, GENDER AND THE FUTURE OF CINEMA ALLY DI CENSO
Perhaps fan fiction also represents a future path for the arts, a future in which different sorts of media no longer stand alone but interact and blend in with each other. Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of cinema, which attracts a huge amount of fan fiction. Film is already a medium that requires a myriad of creative arts to make it what it is—think of the artists behind computer graphics, for example, or the writers who create the script. Movies like (500) Days of Summer have become as equally noted for their soundtracks as well as for their merits as film, while many people imagine literary character Harry Potter to look exactly like his cinematic incarnation, actor Daniel Radcliffe. As fan fiction continues to boom in popularity, it is not inconceivable to think that it is a representation of inter-collaborative media. With that being said, as I set out to investigate more about this fan fiction phenomenon, I discovered a rather disturbing trend. I would like to preface my argument, however, by stating that fan fiction has been unfairly stereotyped as universally cheap and poorly-written. In reality, fan fiction works range from the impressive and thought-provoking to the excruciatingly terrible, depending on who is doing the writing. The authors themselves cannot be categorized either, as they can be of any nationality, race, age, occupation, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background. The kind of fan fiction I will be talking about in this article is by no means indicative of all fan fiction. The discomforting trend that I noticed is called Mary Sue fan fiction, and it is pretty famous in the fan fiction world. A “Mary Sue” is an original character, almost always female, that is brought in to interact with the characters of the canon work. Classic Mary Sue traits include: she is near-perfect; she is extraordinarily pretty with unusual features like bright red hair or violet eyes; she is beloved by all the other characters; she most likely has a past of abuse or neglect; she may need rescuing; she exists to either fall in
love with the main character or to fall in love with and redeem a villain, and she is very talented in all that she does. As I investigated this Mary Sue subgenre of fan fiction, I grew increasingly puzzled. Such a stock and pigeonholed use of a female character reeked of sexism to me, especially since we live in a time period that is supposed to be more culturally sensitive. I became even more confused after I discovered that most fan fiction writers are female. Why, I wondered, do Mary Sue fan fictions exist the way that they do? Why would female authors take pleasure in writing about women who are so perfect that they cease to be complex, three-dimensional characters, and who exist solely to impress a man and fall in love with him? In an attempt for answers, I turned to fanfiction.net, the largest collection of fan fiction on the Web. I compiled a list of the movies with the highest number of these works attached to them. I came out with a list of 21 films, which included among them the Dark Knight saga, King Arthur, The Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Star Wars series, and X-Men. Over half of the films on the list were of either the science-fiction, fantasy, or superhero genre, genres which have always been thought of as “masculine.” 15 of the films featured a prominent male protagonist. Perhaps Mary Sues are a way to respond to another sort of sexism in cinema: the lack of good roles for women in film. Think back to the blockbusters of this past summer: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, Transformers, Terminator Salvation, etc. Now think about how much screen time the male leads had in comparison to the females in the movies, or how many women were depicted as something other than the obligatory love interest. Mary Sue fan fictions differ from these films because they place a woman as the front-and-center character. As such, they may be a way of telling Hollywood that popular films, especially those in the science fiction or action genres, could use stronger roles for women. What bothers me about Mary Sues, however, is that even if they are a subconscious way to alert Hollywood to the shortage of good female roles, they are a misguided and hypocritical way of doing so. Though the Mary Sues are almost always the protagonists, they only serve to make another character love them. Just because a work is romantic doesn’t mean that it is sexist or weak, as long as the characters are interesting, complex, and definable outside of the romance, qualities which do not apply to the traditional Mary Sue. Having the Mary Sue fall for the villain
(a common enough occurrence, which is why I chose Draco Malfoy for my little example at the top) seems to be another way to emphasize her flat perfectness—look, Mary Sue is so good she can even redeem the worst of jerks! I am also troubled by the way some Mary Sues simply have a “bad childhood experience” slapped on their character, a tactic that can make for a compelling background story but often comes across as exploitative and a way to mold the Mary Sue into a typical damselin-distress. In short, Mary Sues have become slightly more exaggerated examples of the kinds of roles available to women in many popular movies. Maybe since it has become so obvious that women in action films are only fated to be romantic interests, Mary Sues feel destined to become the same thing. We repeat what we see, after all. I know that I sound bitter, but I’m really holding on to hope that the situation will improve. There are summer blockbusters, after all, that do offer good roles for women— like Harry Potter, for example, which despite attracting a number of Mary Sues and inspiring my top example does contain a number of strong female characters that are not solely defined by their romantic relations. Also, for every Mary Sue fan fiction out there, there is another fan fiction that contains an interesting and multifaceted female character, whether or not she falls in love with someone. I just feel that Mary Sues are a frequent enough incidence in fan fiction to merit a closer look. They are signals that the portrayal of gender in films needs to change. If fan fictions represent the future of cinema, let’s make sure that it’s a future of sensitivity and equality.
PHOTOGRAPHY: JULIA FREEMAN-WOOLPERT
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FALL 2009 FILM 13
TOP 25 OF MY SUMMER
(100) MOVIES OF SUMMER DANIEL PERRY This past summer, I set myself a goal: to watch 100 movies between leaving campus in May and returning at the end of August. The movies I would watch could be of any genre and from any time period. Essentially, they would include anything I could get my hands on. As I watched these films, I began to find trends that describe the current state of modern cinema and the origins of this state. Here, I outline some of these trends.
THE DECLINE OF THE SPOOF FILM The basis for my comedic taste is the spoof film: to date, Airplane! is still my favorite comedy of all time. I used one of my 100 movies to look back at another Leslie Nielson spoof classic, The Naked Gun—From the Files of Police Squad! These two films are perfect examples of the attitude that was taken in the golden age of the spoofs. These films were pointing out the ridiculous nature of cinema and their particular genre, but did this with the knowledge that they loved films despite their quirks. The genre also understood when to use slapstick, dry humor, and referential comedy as well as when to include a solid plot. This outline of what used to be great about the spoof genre brings me to a sad confession: I saw Dance Flick in theaters. It was a terrible mess of flat jokes, unnecessary references, and a general lack of direction. The Wayans Brothers (White Chicks) took the helm of this poorly-constructed debacle. Their idea of referential comedy is to steal as many scenes from popular films and include some sort of low-brow fart or sex joke and then repeat. The plot is an ugly mish-mash of every dance film story involving characters who are no more than a cardboard cut-out thrown in front of a camera. The film is indicative of all current spoof films and the utter lack of care the people making them have for the subject they are spoofing. This point brings me to yet another sad conclusion.
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25. MICHAEL CLAYTON 24. VISIONEERS 23. METROPOLIS 22. THE MALTESE FALCON 21. WALTZ WITH BASHIR 20. THE JERK 19. THE SEARCHERS 18. ALIEN 17. ROBOCOP 16. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN 15. STAND AND DELIVER 14. 28 DAYS LATER… 13. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS 12. TRUE ROMANCE 11. STAR TREK 10. DISTRICT 9 9. REBECCA 8. MUNICH 7. MILK 6. ONCE 5. NETWORK 4. GOOD WILL HUNTING 3. CITIZEN KANE 2. ON THE WATERFRONT 1. BREATHLESS (Á BOUT DE SOUFFLÉ)
BOTTOM 10 OF MY SUMMER 10. TRANSFORMERS: THE REVENGE OF THE FALLEN 9. MAX PAYNE 8. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (2008) 7. HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS 6. G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA 5. SNAKES ON A TRAIN 4. PTERODACTYL 3. DANCE FLICK 2. THE LOVE GURU 1. MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS
MY 14 MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIES OF 2010 14. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 13. A COUPLE OF DICKS 12. A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS 11. THE A TEAM 10. TOY STORY 3* 9. PAUL 8. GET HIM TO THE GREEK 7. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT 6. IRON MAN 2 5. PREDATORS 4. SHUTTER ISLAND 3. MACHETE 2. INCEPTION 1. THE EXPENDABLES *Will Grandmont’s pick
CHARACTER AND PLOT DEVELOPMENT TRUMP SPECTACLE & SPECIAL EFFECTS The block of films I watched this summer, as THE FALL IN QUALITY OF THE PG-13 COMEDY with any group of films, had its high points The crowd I saw Dance Flick with loved it. I’ll repeat and low points. When I began to compare the for clarification. Dance Flick was thoroughly enjoyed opposite ends of the spectrum, I started to by the majority of the audience. If you’re anything see why films succeeded and why they failed. like me, you should be distressed. As my best friend The main component I found to the success and I left our local cinema, befuddled and angry, we of films is their characters or, more precisely, began to theorize how what we just experienced that the characters of these films were could have happened. Our explanation fits: the three-dimensional and that the audience young teenagers filling today’s theaters lack a cared about them. More often than not, this solid basis for their comedic preferences. When I only would happen when those creating look back at the PG-13 comedies of my high school the films were more interested in character days, a bevy of classics come to mind: Anchorman, development and interaction than anything Zoolander, Meet the Parents, Bruce Almighty, etc. else. A wonderful example of this occurred These types of films set a good basis for the R-rated this past summer in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. comedies that have come to dominate today’s field. Though the film is a summer blockbuster Judd Apatow has led the way with comedies that with a very large budget, Abrams clearly was are both realistic and funny. But, as the focus has more interested in the story of the people shifted to the R-rated comedy genre, the quality rather than the giant battle sequences. This of the PG-13 comedies has taken the hit. Along is apparent from the outset in the opening with Dance Flick, I viewed such recent PG-13 flops sequence where the birth of a child and the as Land of the Lost, The Love Guru, Mr. Woodcock, as death of that child’s father are intertwined well as terrible attempts at comedy and filmmaking with large space battle. The scene works on in big summer movies such as G.I. Joe: The Rise both an emotional level and a visual level of Cobra and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. for the audience and sets a precedent that, These, along with a long list of others, have come for the rest for the film, characterization to exemplify what these young teens understand will not take a back seat. Now, this can be as comedy. Maybe we shouldn’t wonder why the compared to the largest film of the summer, crowd enjoyed Dance Flick, but rather, how do PG- Transformers: The Revenge of the Fallen. This 13 comedies rebound and how will this affect the mess of action, special effects, computer future of comedy. animation, and a retched script doesn’t work on any level and lacks an emotional
connection with its audience. Its opening sequence consists of one group of alien robots, fighting alongside the military, hunting down and brutally murdering another group of alien robots who seem to be guilty of nothing more than existing. The mess of indistinguishable robots, a pile of silver hidden by sudden random camera movements and never-ending explosions, are no more three dimensional than the paper you are reading this off of. This goes the same for their human counterparts, many existing just for the sake of a single joke or something that is meant to look cool. The recent G.I. Joe film is guilty of much of the same. But, along with Star Trek, I also saw beautiful films from past and present that cared about their characters. Films such as District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Visioneers, Breathless, On the Waterfront, and Rebecca, along with others, are all wonderful examples of how characterization can transform a film from a cacophony of explosions to a world that envelopes the audience and brings them on a journey they don’t soon forget.
FALL 2009 FILM 15
STAR TREK: LEGEND THROUGHOUT THE YEARS STACY SCHIPELLITE
Gene Roddenberry first pitched his idea for a new show called Star Trek in the 1960s; the show was to be a kind of outer-
space Western. However, Roddenberry personally wished to see the show develop as one-part suspenseful adventure story, one-part morality tale. Using his newly-created vision of the futuristic 23rd century, Roddenberry produced many exciting adventures for his main characters, as they journeyed to new worlds and fought off alien races. But more than that, Roddenberry hoped to convey his positive message of the future. Star Trek: The Original Series aired against the backdrop of the Cold War era. Roddenberry presented the war-weary American people with a show that transcended war by proving humankind would live through this horrific age in history. He saw an optimistic future, and sought to share that future with his viewers. Star Trek proved mankind would survive to explore the stars, meet other alien races and promote peace throughout the galaxy. I admit, it sounds a bit clichéd; however, the show’s positive message was what made it so popular. It gave people hope for a better future. Every week featured a new adventure for the diverse crew of the Enterprise, including her courageous Captain Kirk, the ever-cool and logical half-Vulcan, half-human Mr. Spock and the passionate humanist Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy as the main trio featured on the show. Bones and Spock’s witty banter and arguments provide a comedic, and at times very human, touch. The crew also attempts repeatedly to humanize Spock and in various situations they comment how human Spock acted, which Spock considers a grave insult to his species. Also included in this crew were: Montgomery “Scotty” Scott; the young and eager Russian Pavel Chekov; Japanese-American Hikaru Sulu; and Christine Chapel and Nyota Uhura (who would both acquire larger roles as the series went on). The crew represented people of all classes and races coming together to work as a team. Collectively, they outwitted the gods of Olympus, gangsters, genetically-engineered humans, and even androids (with pure irrationality).
The series was canceled after its third season; however, popularity grew to such depths that Paramount Studios decided only a film would satisfy the fans’ desire to see their favorite characters explore the galaxy once again. In 1979, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released. Made especially for the fans, it was going to be another spectacular adventure for the crew of the Enterprise. It was a horrible disaster. Ironically, its over-enthusiasm for CGI effects caused its downfall. The story became lost in the barrage of special effects. The costumes were terrible, a dull gray-colored one-piece, nothing like the bright and vibrant colors used in the series. However, this made Paramount Studios even more determined to produce a second, better film. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was released in 1982. The film featured the return of Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island, Spy Kids) as Khan, a villain first seen in the Original Series episode “Space Seed.” The film focuses on Khan’s obsession to destroy Kirk, since Kirk was responsible for marooning Khan as punishment for attempting to take over the Enterprise. The film shows Khan’s willingness to lose everything in order to make Kirk suffer. The film ends with the death of Spock. Naturally, a third film followed, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (weren’t expecting that, were you?) Directed by Leonard Nimoy, the actor who plays Spock, the film delves more deeply into Vulcan culture; a visit from Spock’s father prompts Kirk and his crew to take off against orders to return Spock’s body to his home world. Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future ) guest starred as the villainous Klingon Commander, who gets his comeuppance when Kirk destroys his ship.
Following these successful films, Nimoy decided to step back into some lighthearted humor with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, in which the crew travels back in time to 20th century San Francisco to bring two humpback whales into the present. It is certainly one of my favorite films. Spock comically attempts to learn how to use the “colorful metaphors” of this time (however, he doesn’t quite have the knack for them) and understand the public transportation system (“What does it mean: ‘exact change’?”) The fifth film takes the Enterprise crew on a search for God, while the sixth film deals with a complicated assassination plot and political debate with the Klingons, who hate Kirk because he destroyed Kruge’s ship in the third film. Of course, as always, the Enterprise and her crew discover the assassination plot and rush in to save the day, and ultimately usher in a new age of peace between the Klingons and the Federation (the organization Kirk and his crew belong to). The film ends on an upbeat, with Spock defying an order for the ship and crew to return home, most likely to forever give up their careers as explorers: “If I were human, I believe my response would be: ‘Go to Hell.’” Upon seeing the crew’s stunned expressions, Spock merely raises an eyebrow and reiterates: “If I were human. The most recent addition to the Star Trek franchise, the film simply entitled Star Trek (points for originality), was released on May 7, 2009. As a Star Trek aficionado, I was hesitant about viewing this film. My first thought was: what would they do to the characters? I was afraid it would be the same as an experience of seeing a book you love destroyed by the film industry, changed to fit what filmmakers believed audiences wanted to see. Thankfully, I was wrong. The film was a very
creative and modern approach to Roddenberry’s original characters; Leonard Nimoy even made a guest appearance as the original Spock, a tip of the hat to the old-fashioned Trekkies. I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It presented the story of Star Trek in a very different way, opening up new possibilities for all of the characters. It even expanded on some issues the Original Series had never dealt with. I spoke with many people who are not Star Trek fans who enjoyed the film. I believe this was an asset; it was a story everyone could see and understand. No appreciation of Star Trek was necessary. Does Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of a peaceful future come to mind? No. But that is the reason I enjoyed this film so much: it put a different spin on an old show that has been around for years. It took the liberty of going in a different direction. It was exciting and creative, and made the characters new and different. This new film was based on a show created by a man with a dream. Though the dream may not feature prominently in this film, it is still a well-thought-out contribution to the Star Trek universe.
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FALL 2009 FILM 17
WILL GRANDMONT I believed myself to be beyond the influence of Megan Fox’s siren song. I am more than pleased to announce, however, that I was not. Otherwise I might never have witnessed the cinematic masterpiece that is Jennifer’s Body. After all, a film about Fox as a demon that feasts on the flesh of young men in order to stay sexy should at the very least be commended for its verisimilitude. It was a bittersweet moment in the movie theater as I, with tears twinkling in my eyes, knew that this was the happiest I would ever be, a sentiment that was clearly shared by my fellow moviegoers as the end credits were met with a crescendo of thunderous applause. Screenwriters, directors, and producers around the world would rend their garments and wail with the knowledge that any attempt to surpass the greatest film of all time would undoubtedly end in failure. Even now I struggle to contain my laughter as I reflect on the film’s wit with dialogue such as: “I’m having the best day since like, Jesus invented the calendar.” All sarcasm aside, Jennifer’s Body is pretty terrible. The film opens with most of the action already having happened and still to be revealed, with protagonist Anita “Needy” Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) locked away in an insane asylum. She’s essentially the opposite of her former insecure, nerdy self of the majority of the film, calling herself “the shit” and violently (and somewhat impressively) kicking orderlies across tables. I understand why this was done, but it doesn’t make it any less infuriating. It builds the suspense of the film while adding a certain level of tragedy: the audience is intended to lament the loss of Seyfried’s innocence. The problem is that she’s such an insufferable bitch that it’s difficult to sympathize with someone you know becomes so unpleasant later on. In fact, one of the major problems of Jennifer’s Body is that it’s difficult to genuinely care about anyone in it. Well, I shouldn’t say that. My favorite parts of the film were the scenes that involved J.K. Simmons, who plays a high school teacher with a hook for a hand and an Irish accent. Every moment he was on the screen was one of pure, unadulterated joy, and I found myself more consumed with wondering how he lost his hand than anything remotely related to the plot. The story jumps back to the beginning of the timeline, and we discover that nerdy Needy is best friends with shallow, popular cheerleader Jennifer Check (Megan Fox). An indie band visits their small town and eventually takes Fox into the woods for a virgin sacrifice to the devil that ultimately fails (gee, I wonder what went wrong). As a result of the botched ritual, Fox receives demonic powers, and cue the hilarity as she begins murdering the local boys. There is technically supposed to be humor in the film as it’s a horror comedy, but the dialogue is groan-inducing, with gems like: “Rumor? It’s true. It’s on the Wikipedia!” and “move on dot org.” The characters are constantly shooting off these miserable one-liners left and right, even in situations when they should be focusing on staying alive. And then there are Fox’s last words. On her deathbed, poet Emily Dickinson said, “I must go in. The fog is rising.” Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body opts for, “My tit.” Overall, Jennifer’s Body has its creepy moments, but it’s never particularly scary or funny, and it’s the type of film that is so bland that the idea of watching it a second time will be more of a joke than anything said in the actual movie. And for all you horn dogs out there (I pride myself on being “hip” and familiar with “the lingo”), I regret to inform you that there is no nudity in Jennifer’s Body, though there is a lesbian kiss between Seyfried and Fox that I imagine is some kind of metaphor for the eternal struggle between good and evil that occurs within all of us. It’s certainly not a shameless ploy to drive people to theaters.
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FOR HUMANS ONLY:
THE STORY BEHIND DISTRICT 9 MICHELLE VIRSHUP
Imagine a stirring political statement about how a displaced minority group is mistreated and exploited by an increasingly violent majority. This doesn’t sound like your typical summer blockbuster. But, oh yeah, there are aliens. In a sea of summer action movies, which have increasingly become contests to see who can blow up the most stuff with the least story development, comes District 9. From director Neill Blomkamp and producer Peter Jackson (he of Lord of the Rings fame), this was one of the best movies of the summer. It had it all: not only was it a thoughtful film, but there was plenty of sci-fi and yes, stuff blowing up, to satisfy everyone. Think Blood Diamond meets Mission Impossible meets Alien vs. Predator. The funny thing is it almost didn’t happen. District 9 wasn’t the film that Blomkamp and Jackson planned on making together. They had originally intended to make a film version of the popular video game Halo. When the funding didn’t come through for that, they began to toss around other ideas. District 9 was inspired by a short film previously directed by Blomkamp that dealt with issues of xenophobia and segregation. With no big
budget studios to satisfy, he was able to cast virtual unknowns in lead roles, such as breakout star Sharlto Copley. The film is also shot in a ‘pseudo-documentary’ style, which adds to its organic feel. All of these elements come together for one hell of a movie. The plot is relatively straightforward. 20 years ago, an alien spaceship came to Earth and, ignoring the protocol of landing at a well-known spot such as London or Washington DC, came to rest over Johannesburg, South Africa, where the ship promptly broke down. Humans cut into the ship and discovered a large group of aliens stuck there. The aliens are referred to with the derogatory nickname of ‘prawns’ and are moved into District 9, a government camp. Tensions mount between the prawns and humans which break out in violence, as well as gang activity, and the black market trade of alien weaponry. Due to increasing public outcry, Multi-National United (MNU), a private company contracted by the South African government, decides to undertake the movement of all the aliens to District 10, a new area that is farther away from the city. Sharlto Copley plays Wikus van de Merwe, a MNU employee who heads the operation, until he is infected by alien weaponry. This forces him to take on a new point of view that causes him to turn against his former
employer. He then tries to help one of the alien scientists fix the ship and get home. The movie, as I said before, is shot in a documentary style, as well as a normal narrative view, with interviews and news broadcasts intercut with the action. As you see the prejudice and violence aimed at the aliens in the slums, it causes you to think about how we treat each other. It is fitting that this movie takes place in South Africa; the country, as well as the entire African continent, has long been a hotbed for segregation, human rights violations, and genocide, most recently flaring up in the Sudan and Somalia. As you gasp at the awful inequalities committed against the prawns, you suddenly realize that those exact same offenses are being committed against other human beings at this very moment. Because of its stirring content and awe-inspiring special effects (though, warning: this movie can get quite graphic and gross; definitely not for those with a weak stomach), this was one of the best movies of the summer.
ABOVE: DISTRICT 9, SONY PICTURES DIGITAL INC
FALL 2009 FILM 19
GO WEST, YOUNG MOVIE LOVERS! ALLY DI CENSO Throughout much of my life, I used to groan at the mere mention of the word “Western.” These films were permanent mainstays on my unofficial “least favorite movie genres” list. I always thought of Westerns as cheap and giddy Saturday matinee flicks, or simplistic morality tales in which the hero (decked out in a white hat, of course) sweeps into town at the last minute to save the people from the nefarious baddie. However, thanks to last year’s terrific American Cinema class with Professor Wendy Chapman Peek, I have come to realize how unfair and incorrect my hasty dismissal of Westerns was. There are quite a few Westerns out there that definitely deserve to stand in the pantheon of great films. They contain resonant themes, brilliant characterization, and skillful cinematography. While I am still not a complete Western aficionado, I have a newfound appreciation for a genre that, more than any other, exposes the determined strengths and ugly realities of the American character. For the novices to the Western genre, I recommend the 1953 classic Shane as a starter film. This movie does a good job of introducing the viewer to some standard Western tropes while also presenting a psychologically adroit and morally ambiguous story. The titular character, played with quiet subtlety by Alan Ladd, is a lonely drifter who befriends a family of settlers and helps them fight against land-grabbing ranchers. If the gorgeous backdrop of Wyoming’s Grand Teton mountain range isn’t enough to keep you watching, the finely understated characterization of Shane will. He is ostensibly the hero of the film, yet the movie keeps implying that he has a dark secret that stands at the root of his good deeds—guilt over his past career as a gunslinger, perhaps, or a deep fear of commitment. As such, Shane has more in common with the wounded antiheroes of contemporary times than with the incorruptible protagonists of classic Westerns. The longtime popularity of this film owes much to its mysterious and charming central
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character, and the last scene has been referenced in many an homage. Those who are ambivalent about Westerns may also want to start with 1946’s My Darling Clementine. This film depicts the infamous 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, replete with the now-mythic figures of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, so you know that you’re in classic Western territory. The West of this film is a West that may never have existed except in our cultural imagination: it is a landscape full of gentlemen sheriffs, disaffected drifters, saloons filled with raunchy piano music, and schoolteachers from the East. However, the movie also weaves together a poignant love story about loss and redemption. Furthermore, you do not have to be a fan of Westerns to appreciate Henry Fonda’s genteel portrayal of Wyatt Earp or the way that Victor Mature makes his Doc Holliday the ultimate man on the edge in a performance so introspective and emotional that it feels strikingly modern. My Darling Clementine is a fixture of the Western genre, yet its ability to blend drama, romance, and great performances makes it stand outside of the genre as well. Another film that I feel appeals to people who normally don’t like Westerns is 3:10 to Yuma, a hidden gem from 1957. Dan Evans is an impoverished farmer who is instructed to transport notorious robber Ben Wade to the 3:10 train to Yuma, where he will be imprisoned. What results is an expressively dexterous study of two men at critical points in their lives. The line between “hero” and “villain” becomes increasingly blurred as Dan considers Ben’s offer of a large sum of money in exchange for freedom, while Ben often hints at his desire to one day settle down and start a family. The two stars of the film, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, portray their characters as complex, multifaceted men; you never know what actions they will take or what choices they will make. The last few scenes of the film, in particular, employ
the unpredictability of the characters to keep the viewer in suspense. With its lush black-and-white cinematography and mostly interior shots, 3:10 to Yuma feels more like a film noir than a Western. The universal themes of deliverance and friendship will attract fans of any genre. A good Western with a conscience is High Noon, a 1952 film starring the legendary Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The film is told in “real time” (meaning that the movie is about as long as the events it depicts are supposed to be) and centers on Will Kane, a retired town sheriff who must suddenly face the arrival of a vengeful criminal. Everyone cowers in fear and deserts him, initially even his new bride. Many people have interpreted this film as an allegory about the McCarthy witch hunts, when numerous Hollywood artists were accused of Communism and blacklisted, with no one standing up for them. This historical back-story adds a sense of relevance and tragedy to the film. However, the feelings of loneliness and betrayal perfectly captured in High Noon are timeless and just as powerful today as they were in 1952. This movie is also helped by strong supporting roles that emphasize the journey of its hero, such as Katy Jurado as Kane’s wise, strong and sensible ex-girlfriend, and Lon Chaney Jr. as an old sheriff who believes that the days of honorable criminals are over.
Far from my initial perception, the Western genre is diverse and encompasses a number of different kinds of films. The best thing about Westerns is that you can always find one that appeals to your own personal tastes. I recommend that romance fans look into the early works of acclaimed Western director John Ford, while I’ll guide any admirer of Quentin Tarantino’s oeuvre to the revisionist Westerns and Spaghetti Westerns of the late 1960s. Also be sure to check out some of the great Westerns that are being made today, such as Brokeback Mountain or No Country for Old Men. I am happy that I was able to dispel my notion of Westerns as clichéridden and simplistic action extravaganzas, since this allowed me to discover brilliant and emotionally rich movies like Shane, My Darling Clementine, 3:10 to Yuma, and High Noon. Now go see what Westerns you’ll discover. Ride ‘em, cowboy or cowgirl, all the way to video store!
FALL 2009 FILM 21
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PHOTOGRAPHY: GEOFF ELLIOT
FALL 2009 PORTFOLIO 23
ABOVE: LAURA SIDLA BELOW: WILL FISHER OPPOSITE: GEOFF ELLIOT
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FALL 2009 PORTFOLIO 25
BELOW: GERALD ESPOSITO OPPOSITE: CAROLINE GENNARO
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FALL 2009 PORTFOLIO 27
ABOVE: POLINA LABOUTINA OPPOSITE: JILL MAFFEO
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FALL 2009 PORTFOLIO 29
TOP ROW: ARIEL BOWEN BOTTOM: VLADA SHELKOVA
DROPKICK ANDREA ALES
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FALL 2009 PORTFOLIO 31
“Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?”—Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife The concept of time has fascinated writers from William Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling, leaving them pondering the inadequacies and frustrations of being limited by time. It can arguably be a theme in almost any piece of literature. It can also be a tool in shaping and creating literature. It might be a wrinkle in the spacetime continuum, a genetic disorder, or a necklace used to turn back time. Time travel: the ultimate frontier of the unknown, shadowed in mystery and useful in creating novels that overstep the typical notions of age and space. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, a late work by author Mark Twain is often considered one of the first “time-travel” novels. In this story, a nineteenth century “Yankee” is trapped within the time of King Arthur. The Yankee is an idealist and struggles with the emphasis put on social class and rank in his new medieval setting. In the end, his belief in technology as a means for social change ultimately fails. The fascination with time-travel in literature did not end there. In fact, like Twain’s novel, it can be the very center and focus of a book. One of the most famous children’s books, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle focuses on the adventure’s of Meg Murry, her brother Charles, and her friend Calvin, who transcend the boundaries of time in order to rescue her father who is taken prisoner by evil forces in another dimension. The characters within the story are both human and immortal, and the immortal characters are gifted with the ability to travel through time at will. L’Engle’s novel adopts
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Time-travel is also used in J.K. Rowling’s popular story, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This is a classic example of time-travel and the challenges it presents to humans. Hermione, Harry’s friend and classmate, is originally given the power to time-travel in order to attend multiple classes at once. However, towards the end of the story Hermione and Harry are forced to test their own strength when they must use the “time-turner” in a quest to save two innocent lives, that of Buckbeak, the hippogriff and Sirius, Harry’s misunderstood godfather. They must hide themselves from their “present-selves” and their strength is tested because they are not supposed to interfere with time. This shows that there is always something hidden; nothing is straightforward when it comes to time travel and understanding it within your present life. It also shows that time is flexible, though not necessarily changeable.
the tesseract concept. The tesseract itself is a mathematical concept of a four-dimensional structure, mirroring the four dimensions in the novel. The title of the novel stems from this idea, that there is a wrinkle in the space time continuum that allows the normal rules of space and time to bend. While time-travel is necessary to uphold the story’s plot, it is not the central focus of the novel. Like in other time-travel stories, time is used as a device to represent a larger theme or idea. Meg’s desire to be like everyone else is mirrored in her travels to Camazotz, another dimension where everything looks exactly alike. This adventure allows her to realize the importance of individuality. Time is also used effectively to help illustrate the importance of love, as well as faith and courage. It also represents the idea that not everything has an explanation. The story makes it clear that, like Meg’s mother says, “Just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean an explanation doesn’t exist.”
D R A V E Y SA
Perhaps the most talked about current example in time-travel literature is Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. It is a story about Henry, a man who has a genetic disorder that causes him to spontaneously timetravel, and Clare, the woman he meets and falls in love with on his journey. Though much of the novel is spent in stories of Henry’s travels, it is not a story about time-travel. Rather, like The Prisoner of Azkaban and A Wrinkle in Time, it is a story about love. It is the strong connection between Henry and Clare that is important, not the time they are living in. However, it does present problems. The time traveling can often be confusing and hard to grasp. This is not without reason, the confusion and the distance created by Henry’s time traveling is used to represent relationship troubles like miscommunication and how two people can be living in two very different worlds without realizing it. The story also seems to be a metaphor about the connection between two people, and how two people can feel as though they’ve known each other their entire lives after just a short period of time. The novel creates frustrations, especially in Henry’s inability to use his time-travel to change things for the better. However, it is simply another example of how humans, no matter what our powers, are constant and impervious to change, just as Henry cannot alter time.
FALL 2009 LITERATURE 33
SAFRAN F O E R ’S
E X T R E M E LY
LOUD I N C R E D I B LY
CLOSE Reviewed By TOM LALLY
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Few books have dealt directly with the events and personal repercussions of September 11th, 2001. I’m fairly confident that none have done so as poignantly or brilliantly as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the second novel from Brooklyn author Jonathan Safran Foer. His first—Everything is Illuminated, published in 2002—came out of his While everything was illuminated in Foer’s first Princeton University thesis and a subsequent trip to Ukraine. It was well-received both critically and novel, everything is connected in his second. As the popularly, becoming a 2005 movie starring Elijah seemingly separate narratives progress, we learn Wood. But it is his post-September 11th masterpiece that the mute, tattooed man is Oskar’s grandfather. that I contend sets Foer far apart from any of his The woman he lived with and had a child by, but never completely loved, is Oskar’s grandmother. Back contemporaries. Oskar Schell is a nine-year-old from New York in the present day he has returned, with suitcases City whose father Thomas died on September 11th. full of letters, to reunite with and apologize to his Oskar is the first one home on that fateful morning son. When he learns that Thomas is dead, he joins of “the worst day”; he is the only one to hear the Oskar in his search for what they both hope is last messages his father left on the home answering some redemptive meaning behind the mysterious machine. Before his mother gets home he also finds key. This connectivity makes Extremely Loud and an envelope in his father’s closet; on the envelope is Incredibly Close uniquely powerful. In one incident written the single word “Black,” and inside it is a key. we learn that Oskar’s grandmother has drawers full The book is ostensibly about Oskar’s odyssey through of empty envelopes. In another, we find out that a New York City as he tries to find some closure and tattooed mute has thousands of letters he never comfort in the key’s meaning. Encounters with mailed. Individually, each is only half the story. And strangers form the bulk of this narrative, as Oskar sets each half is given to us in a different narrative (the out to meet everyone named Black in New York City, envelopes in Oskar’s; the letters in his grandfather’s). hoping one of them can give him some answers. The When the two narratives cross paths, you’re able to people he meets are vivid and interesting; a colorful put the pieces together; the conclusion is one of those snapshot of the diversity in such a cosmopolitan city. revelatory and moving “Ohhh….” moments that the Oskar’s supporting cast is equally captivating. There book is filled with. In the end, the key turns out to be mostly is his mother, whom Oskar hates for trying to pick up the pieces of her life when he is still so heartbroken. meaningless, at least for Oskar. His father bought it at There is Stan the doorman, who acts as a chaperone an estate sale for a man named Black. It opens his safe and friend of sorts. And there is Oskar’s grandmother, deposit box; his son accidentally sold it and has been who seems as though her life has been more tragic looking for it ever since. The man and Oskar have both found their answers, but Oskar’s is not even close to than she would ever care to tell. But Oskar’s is not the only narrative at work in what he had hoped for. He and his grandfather decide this book. We also flashback to Dresden, Germany to go dig up Thomas Schell’s empty coffin. (Oskar in the middle of World War II, to hear one man’s doesn’t know who his grandfather really is: he thinks disastrous experience. He finds Anna, the love of his “The Renter” is just a friend of his grandmother’s who life, only to have her taken by war in the infamous rents a room in her apartment.) Late one night they and controversial Allied bombing. One by one, words go to the cemetery. And in the empty coffin of his son, leave him; he eventually becomes mute and tattoos Oskar’s grandfather places his letters: those which the words “yes” and “no” on his palms. When he he wrote, one a day for decades, but was never able comes to America he meets Anna’s sister; their to mail to him. Despite the obvious pain of so many physical similarity inspires something in him that is characters, the book is ultimately uplifting for this not quite love. They move in together and have a son, final scene: it brings peace, it brings forgiveness, it Thomas. The man leaves before his son is born, but brings humanity. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close contains everyday he writes him a letter that he never musters the courage to mail. Instead Anna’s sister receives an an exceptionally engaging story, but there are a few empty envelope every day, an unceasing reminder of other features that raise it to the heights of creative greatness. The first is Oskar for his psychological the good father he is incapable of being.
complexity as a character. In many ways he is just like any other nine-year-old: from his desire to hurt the kids at school who bully him, to his innocence in dealing with people and emotions. But in many ways this innocence makes Oskar more insightful than any adult. He is constantly inventing things, like a “device that knew everyone you knew” for when ambulances went by. If you didn’t know the person inside it could flash “DON’T WORRY! DON’T WORRY!” Or, if you did, the ambulance could flash “IT’S NOTHING MAJOR!” or “GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU!” He asks a 48-year-old married woman if they can kiss, and tries to convince her with this fact: “Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are.” When she asks about the more you wage war, he falls silent. After he hears his father’s last words on the family answering machine, Oskar purchases a duplicate and switches them so that his mother never has to experience the pain they brought him. Despite his occasional and extraordinary maturity, Oskar’s way of looking at the world is a welcome refresher from the bitterness and materialism of many adults; how Foer channeled such child-like innocence so beautifully is incredible. The second factor, as I have discussed earlier, is the intertextuality of the narratives. The third, and perhaps least obvious, factor is the political commentary the novel makes. It is, however, a commentary that serves to further underwrite the main theme of the book: humanity. The WWII bombing at Dresden that killed Anna was carried out by the Allies. The great tragedy for Oskar’s grandfather started with an attack by the United States. It was furthered in an attack on the United States, which killed his son before he could apologize. Foer could be commenting on the tragic fact that wars happen, but I think he is pointing out a fundamental misunderstanding in how we perceive the very nature of war. He shows us that which country wages war on which doesn’t matter very much, because in the end war is ultimately a matter of people. Countries may drop the bombs, but they don’t fall on other countries. They fall on people. And sometimes when they fall they are extremely loud and incredibly close to the people you love. That is just one of many things I’ve come up with to possibly explain the largely enigmatic title. But whatever the nominal source may be, Jonathan Safran Foer has set himself apart with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It deals with the effects of September 11th, but Foer frames it so that the result is a touching and ultimately uplifting discussion of human loss and redemption.
FALL 2009 LITERATURE 35
OLIVE KITTERIDGE BY ELIZABETH STROUT
REVIEWED BY GRACE LAPOINTE
IN DEFENSE OF FOOD: AN EATER’S MANIFESTO BY MICHAEL POLLAN
REVIEWED BY ERIN HORANZY “EAT FOOD. NOT TOO MUCH. MOSTLY PLANTS.
That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.” This is the first paragraph of Michael Pollan’s most recent
book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. In this book, he discusses how Western civilization has retreated away from the food of our ancestors, how we are slowly killing ourselves with the Western diet, and how we can solve the seemingly insurmountable problem posed by today’s food culture. Grocery stores no longer sell only food—they also kindly oblige the companies that produce “food products,” “juice drinks,” bottled water, microwaveable chemicals in a box—I mean— TV dinners, and cereals that contain more sugar than wheat. Advertising is king in the center aisles of the grocery store. Michael Pollan offers two quick and easy suggestions for fighting the good fight against advertisers and their ilk. First, does it offer some sort of health claim? If so, it is probably not healthy, after all. For example, there is a new campaign called “Smart Choices” that is supposed to help consumers decide which product is a healthier food choice. A green checkmark appears on the box to help guide shoppers in their mission. The catch? There are no standards. Cereals such as Froot Loops and Cocoa Krispies get the checkmark because, in comparison with a doughnut, they are a “healthy choice.” These foods are inherently unhealthy, yet they market themselves as healthy because of the desires of the consumer. Foods that are truly healthy need nothing to advocate for them. Apples, avocadoes, basil and beets don’t have any
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packaging in the produce section, after all. Later on, he suggests shopping around the perimeter of the store rather than heading for the inner aisles, because it is there that you are most likely to find real food—produce, meat, dairy, and fresh baked goods. The second suggestion he offers is to think back in time. Would your great-grandmother (the one from the old country) recognize the fried dough bar as food? If not, then don’t eat it! Similarly, eating dishes traditional to a culture are a good way to get a balanced set of nutrients. Listen to your great-grandmother, and she will show you the way. Pollan’s book is a helpful, engaging, insightful read for those of us with enough of a wallet to follow his advice. If you simply follow his theory in the book, you can learn to eat a healthy diet despite the inundation of media advertising to the contrary. However, it is fact that for the majority of Americans, it is simply not feasible to eat organic, purchase free-range eggs, and buy only fresh produce. In this way, this book is a call to arms. I see many cars with bumper stickers that read NO FARMS, NO FOOD. The idea of a government subsidy is wonderful—farmers and farms are necessary. But why not work to move the subsidy from corn to other vegetables that are eaten in less processed forms? Give money to variculture farms, for example—farms that are working to improve the soil rather than deplete it with the same crop year after year. Regardless of what you choose to do, remember these words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables.
You may have encountered someone like Olive Kitteridge, the strongly opinionated central character of Elizabeth Strout’s short story collection, in real life. Olive is a retired math teacher who seems to know almost everyone in her small coastal town in Maine—although many of the townspeople find her difficult to get along with. She’s blunt, frequently judgmental, and rarely backs down in her views, but she emerges as a fascinating individual as the book progresses. Because Olive is so set in her ways, her character easily could have become a caricature in the hands of a less skilled writer. In some of the stories, Olive is the main character; in others, she is more peripheral. By showing her from a variety of different perspectives, Strout allows readers to get to know her character’s complexities. Since almost everyone in town has some sort of connection to Olive, she acts a link that unites the townspeople’s disparate lives. In several of the stories, Olive’s former students recall being influenced by her in some way, although she remains unaware that she affected their lives. The thirteen short stories in Olive Kitteridge illustrate the complicated ways in which people are connected. A major theme of the book is the tenuousness of relationships. In one of the first stories, “Incoming Tide,” Olive talks to a former student who is studying to be a psychiatrist, and they realize that they both had a parent who committed suicide. When Olive’s gregarious, patient husband Henry says
that he is afraid of being alone, Olive retorts, “Hell. We’re always alone. Born alone. Die alone.” But in “Starving,” a different side of Olive’s personality emerges when she crosses paths with an anorexic young woman. Olive is deeply disturbed by her condition tells and her, “I’m starving, too…We all are.” Although this might seem like an insensitive remark for an overweight, older woman to say to someone with an eating disorder, Olive is actually trying to empathize with the young woman. Metaphorically, this story addresses the emotional and spiritual hungers that all people experience. Olive Kittredge is an easy character to relate to because even her attempts to reach out to others can go awry. “A Different Road” explores the fragility of relationships when Olive and Henry are held hostage during a brief visit to the hospital. Ironically, this event serves as a catalyst for a bitter argument which is far more disturbing than the incident itself. Many of the stories start with a perfectly ordinary, almost trivial incident that impacts people in unexpected ways. While Olive’s actions often seem baffling, the book never rationalizes them. She is frequently cold with her husband, Henry, who is much more sociable than she is. She has a strained relationship with her son, Christopher, and despises his first wife as soon as she meets her. Olive is so dejected on Christopher’s wedding day that she goes into her daughter-in-law’s bedroom and steals several small articles of clothing. After Christopher gets divorced, Olive feels vindicated. Did she have some special intuition about Christopher’s first wife, or did she prejudge her?
As in any short story collection, some of the stories in Olive Kittredge are stronger than others. Because Olive is the central force in the book, the best stories revolve around her, and some of the minor characters seem underdeveloped by comparison. The chapters are more interconnected than in most books of short stories, but each chapter can also stand on its own. The book follows the characters through the ups and downs of life over a span of several decades, from Christopher’s childhood to his first and second marriages and eventually Henry’s death. In this book, isolated incidents and the gradual changes in relationships are more important than an overarching plot. The stories span from the 1960’s to the present, showing that many people in the town are slow to accept change. Strout’s skillful writing makes even the most mundane events in her characters’ lives seem fresh and engaging. Her use of free indirect style gives us glimpses into Olive’s thoughts even though the book is narrated in the third person. Even a brief sentence like “The tulips bloomed in ridiculous splendor” conveys Olive’s irascible attitude towards life, making the whole book seem infused with her personality. Strout also describes coastal New England beautifully. In some stories, like “Incoming Tide,” the setting plays a major role in the plot. Throughout the book, the descriptions of nature, especially the ocean, provide atmosphere. Olive Kittredge is a poignant, sometimes heartbreaking book, which is a fascinating read because of its beautiful writing and a flawed, deeply human main character.
PHOTOGRAPHY: XAVIER MARCHANT
FALL 2009 LITERATURE 37
TELEVISION REVIEWS REBECCA PLOCK
While optimistically holding a remote in my hand, I begin flipping through the television channels. The somewhat bloated face of Simon Cowell stretches across the screen. Before I can hear the predictable insults stream from his grimacing mouth, I change the channel. Immediately, I’m face to face with Jeff Probst. He’s snuffing out a woman’s torch, banishing her from the island. With a yawn, I change the station. Reality television stars are smothered across every channel. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to see Tyra Banks ruin another aspiring model’s dream of fame, Donald Trump fire a temporary employee, or Tom Bergeron urge D-list celebrities to become professional dancers. The point is that reality television shows are pointless, plotless, and ultimately uninspiring. After almost losing faith in television altogether, I stumbled upon a few programs that were actually worth watching—shows so good they deserve cult-followings.
I’m an Arrested Development prophet. I preach the holiness of this magnificent show that graced television screens for three all-too-brief seasons. Once the ratings-challenged program premiered on Fox in 2003, I knew I had discovered the savior of the modern sitcom. The plot revolves around the Bluths, a dysfunctional family of which every member on has serious issues. Here’s a brief overview of the characters: George Bluth Sr. lands in jail for making business deals with Saddam Hussein. His wife, Lucille, is a chronic alcoholic who verbally assaults her children. Michael Bluth, the sanest character, is the son that inadvertently tries to hold the family together. His son, George Michael, secretly harbors a crush on his cousin Maeby. Although the show frequently hints at the possibility of Maeby not being related to George Michael, the jokes insinuating incest are hilarious. Tobias and Lindsay Funke, Maeby’s parents, are in a loveless relationship, resorting to their sleeping in separate beds. A fun fact about Tobias is that he’s a self-proclaimed “never-nude,” meaning that his fear of nudity forces him to wear a pair of denim cutoffs 24/7, even whilst showering. Buster, arguably Lucille’s favorite son, emits an unsocial, childlike vibe, awkwardly grabbing his ears during conversations. Michael’s brother Gob, a feeble magician, attempts to incorporate magical “illusions” into everyday situations. His tricks often involve dancing to Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” sporadically spewing flamethrowers from his jacket sleeves, or turning a hundred dollar bill into a hundred pennies. While this is just a short list of the major characters, uproarious minor characters, such as the too-literal doctor, Anyang, and the family lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn, are just as important to the show’s structure.
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It is imperative that you watch this series in order because it will not make sense out of sequence. It is difficult to catch the clever foreshadowing the first time. That is why I’m watching the show again, starting with episode one. Finishing the entire series will make it clear that this meticulously planned show was the best thing that ever happened to television. Someday, maybe you’ll be an Arrested Development prophet, too. Then, we can unite in our nerdom, spreading the word about this superb show faster than it takes to shout “STEVE HOLT!” Don’t worry. You’ll get the reference eventually.
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA When telling jokes, topics such as race, religion, and sexuality are controversial issues around which comedians usually need to tiptoe so as not to offend a particular party. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia brazenly addresses a slew of sensitive subjects, stepping on the toes of every individual imaginable. Frank, Dennis, Mac, Charlie and Sweet Dee make up the gang of crazed misfits that wreak havoc in Paddy’s Pub, their workplace, and in their hometown of Philadelphia. Personally, I never really considered myself a fan of politically incorrect humor. However, as I began to watch this show, I found myself laughing at the characters’ ludicrous ideas, such as placing an infant in a tanning bed to make the baby more alluring to Hollywood casting directors. I could not believe I was laughing at the suggestion of child abuse! In a more recent episode, Dee and Charlie become convinced that they are cannibals and search for cadavers to satisfy their “human meat” cravings. They begin a hilarious examination of the corpse selection in
a local morgue as if it were a dining menu. In another absurd display of idiocy, Dennis claims that he was in rehab and stigmatas appeared on his hands. Of course Dennis fabricates this story, but he desperately wants his collection of memoirs to be truthful in order to sell billions of copies. He doesn’t want to pull a “James Frey” and be smashed into a million little pieces by Oprah. So, Charlie and Frank literally force nails into Dennis’s palms and stick him in a rehab facility. What ensues is pure comic genius. For those who complain to the FCC about jokes concerning crack addiction or pedophilia, please avoid this program. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is on cable television networks for a reason. It is tailored for people who can find the humor in moral mockery. So, if you can handle the jokes, I suggest watching how the “Gang Gets Racist” in the pilot episode, or you can jump right into the currentlyairing, fifth season.
After Buffy saved Sunnydale from imminent attack for the last time, I honestly thought that vampires had past their prime in American pop culture. Of course, when the tween-sensation Twilight was published, the popularity of bloodsuckers skyrocketed. As fans fantasized about caressing Edward’s chiseled physique, I silently wished for vampires to be portrayed as Bram Stoker once intended: brooding, bellicose, and bloodthirsty. True Blood answered my plea. Vampires have come “out of the coffin” in the fictional, southern town of Bon Temps, which means mortals knowingly live among the living dead. Bill Compton, a chivalrous Civil-War era vampire, romances the town’s only telepath, Sookie Stackhouse. A handful of the vampires, such as Bill, are civilized beings trying to peacefully coexist with the human race. They often subdue their blood cravings by drinking a synthetic mixture ironically called True Blood. The more violent vampires are prone to attack, feeding on
humans at their leisure. I love how the show does not censor the vampires’ violent tendencies. Because the program is on HBO, nothing is off limits. Gore is graphically depicted without sugarcoating the gruesome details. When hearts are torn out of townspeople’s chests, expect to the see the freshly-harvested organ and festering wound. The show isn’t purely bloodshed. Sookie and Bill’s relationship makes up a sizable portion of the show. An interesting love triangle develops when Eric, the sullen vampire sheriff of Area Five, is introduced in the second season. He immediately begins to lust after Sookie, evoking possessive feelings in Bill. While vampires are commonly represented as emotionless beings in literature and the media, it is refreshing to see the multifaceted feelings they express in this show. So, if you need a breather from the saccharine plot of the Twilight saga, watch the first two seasons of True Blood. The third season premieres in June 2010, so there’s plenty of time to catch up. Once you drink it in, you’ll never be able to view vampires the same way again.
I shall leave you with a final piece of advice: pull yourself away from the reality rubbish that is plastered across your television screen! At least try to watch a show that makes you think. If you find abstaining from reality television unbearable, just keep in mind that Simon Cowell’s botoxed face isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’ll still be wearing the same scowl ten years from now, so I guarantee you will not be missing much. IMAGES: 20TH CENTURY FOX (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA), HBO (TRUE BLOOD)
FALL 2009 CULTURE 39
Coolidge Corner boasts a variety of places to eat, like hole-in-the-wall Paris Crêpe and Coffee Bar, which serves unique hot beverages, as well as meal and dessert wraps (including one with Nutella!) If you’re in the mood for coffee, tea, or just some tasty hot chocolate, there’s a Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and Panera Bread all on the same street, where all the pedestrians flock, especially
and tamales. Across from that, Fugakyu, the largest Japanese restaurant in New England, has even more to choose from. There are a number of novelty shops as well, where you can find oddities you can’t get in most places. These stores are largely entertaining and you end up staying in each for hours looking at everything in stock. Crossroads Trade has goods imported from all over the world, many made from It’s Saturday and you want to spend a day off campus. What do you do? Maybe you’ll take recycled materials, yet transformed into native craftsmanship typical the shuttle to the South Shore Plaza, or perhaps you’ll take it to the movie theatre in of a particular country. Brookline Randolph. Most likely you’ll grab the shuttle, then hop on the T to Boston, walk around Booksmith also has a number of Quincy Market, maybe shop on Newbury Street, and then come back to Stonehill novelty items such as buttons, magnets, when you’re done. Is that it? Is that what your Boston experience has been reduced and other mundane objects made to? Being able to reach the T so conveniently is a resource Stonehill students are interesting, along with a large lucky to have, and it’d be a shame not to use it to its full advantage. collection of books for cheap prices on their basement floor. Just down So when you eventually grow tired of walking up and down the same streets, do the street, Downtown Shooz houses not fear! There are two other prime locations when looking for a place to spend a large supply of bright rain boots, with distinctive prints for all ages. an afternoon or evening with friends. The first is Coolidge Corner, located in The pièce de résistance, however, Brookline, right outside of Boston. Getting there is easy: just get on the T at is the Coolidge Corner Theatre, a Quincy Adams, switch onto the Green Line C train at Park Street, and get “not-for-profit” small movie theatre off at the Coolidge Corner stop. Once there, walk straight out and you’re on built in the Art Deco style that has been Harvard Street. Quieter than downtown Boston, yet busy with groups of around since 1933. It’s a great place to friends, families, and couples, the area is lively at any season, and free catch foreign and independent movies that they don’t play elsewhere, and they from pesky tourists. occasionally throw in a bigger movie that fits in with their indie vibe, like (500) Days in the winter. If you’d rather have of Summer and Inglourious Basterds. something cold, J.P. Licks invites The restaurant right next to it houses the you into their cow-themed ice best pizza in town, the Upper Crust. This cream parlor for all kinds of frozen ultra-thin crust pizza is perfect for pre- or treats. Finale around the corner also post-movie snacking. The atmosphere is has a variety of desserts that are very relaxing, and it’s great to walk around artistically arranged and taste even at night after visiting these places, window better than they look. International shopping and listening to the murmur of food is also available, like at Rani, conversation. the Indian bistro around the corner on Beacon Street. In the other direction, Boca Grande features many types of burritos, quesadillas,
Now, Coolidge Corner sounds fun, but if you’re and cars moving throughout this small, cobblelooking for something completely different, stoned space is almost suffocating, but Harvard Square is the place to try. You can get exciting at the same time. there directly from the Quincy Adams station Located in the center is the newsstand by getting off at the Harvard stop. This center Out of Town News, which sells newspapers of culture is located in the midst of the Harvard and magazines from all over the world. campus, so college life is abundant. However, Another notable feature is The Garage, a there are so many different types of people parking lot-turned-mall with eclectic stores there; it’s an eclectic mix of languages, ages, such as Newbury Comics and The Hempest. and styles. Not far is the small Loews movie theater, This area in Cambridge, right outside another relatively quaint location to stop in Boston, provides ample activities. Walking for a movie. through the small streets, you’ll come across There is also plenty of shopping available. street vendors selling their paintings, musicians On the edge of the center square is a twoperforming, and live statues (don’t miss the life- story Urban Outfitters, with an additional size marionette!) The number of pedestrians bargain basement below. There are a variety of other recognized stores such as American Apparel, the Gap, and Aldo, although there are other boutiques such as Mudo and Second Time Around and novelty shops,
such as Black Ink, which is like stepping into a library storage room of oddities. Curious George also has a number of traditional children’s toys, which is refreshing in this day and age, and they have a large collection of books below. Finding somewhere to eat is no problem; trust me that you’ll be hungry after walking around all day. Across from Curious George is the new restaurant Tory Row that has a cool, modern feel to it with tasty sandwiches, soups, and a little bit of everything else. Near the movie theater is the D.I.Y. restaurant Fire & Ice, and there are other restaurants like Uno’s, Bertucci’s, and locally- owned coffee shop Café Pamplona. These two spots show a side of the Greater Boston area that outsiders rarely see, save the families touring Harvard. For those who want a change of scenery, Coolidge Corner and Harvard Square are a great start, and harbor a lot of college students from other universities. Perhaps next Saturday is the day you’ll try them out. Just don’t be surprised if you end up going back.
Arkahm Ayslum: A serious House On Serious Earth
REVIEWED By Justin Corriveault "But I don’t want to go among the mad people." Alice remakrked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said The Cat,
"We’re all mad here. I’m mad, You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said The Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come." — Lewis Carroll
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHN HANAWALT (THIS PAGE & PREVIOUS)
42 ROLLING STONEHILL
The aforementioned lines grace the opening pages of what is quite possibly the most commercially successful (Batman) graphic novel ever produced. In the twenty years that have passed since Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth was first published in 1989, the incredible, yet deliciously dark, mystique surrounding the work has yet to subside. Written by Scottish-born comics superstar, Grant Morrison (well-known for his highly experimental approach to the craft), and brilliantly illustrated by Dave McKean (who is perhaps most famous for producing the painted covers for the groundbreaking series The Sandman), it is a gripping, and at times controversial, psychological horror story starring Batman as he embarks on an ultimately cathartic journey through the Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane that requires him to confront the inmates as well as himself.
FALL 2009 CULTURE 43
The story itself begins with a sudden meeting on April 1 between Batman and Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon. Something is decidedly off on this April Fools’ Day. The Dark Knight’s greatest enemies—incarcerated deep within the imposing walls, padded cells, and dark cellars of Arkham Asylum—have managed to shake off their shackles to seize control of the facility. Led by the Joker, this make-shift army of the mentally ill also has the entire staff of the facility as their hostages. After making a long series of seemingly absurd requests—including furniture, store mannequins, food, and clothing, the inmates agree to release their hostages, but only after one final demand. They want Batman in the asylum. Refusing to risk the lives of the captives, the Dark Knight agrees to enter that “bad dream house.” However, he privately relates his fears to longtime ally Commissioner Gordon about his impending visit. Batman: “Afraid? Batman’s not afraid of anything. It’s me. I’m afraid. I’m afraid that the Joker may be right about me. Sometimes I…question the rationality of my actions. And I’m afraid that when I walk through those Asylum gates…When I walk into Arkham and the doors close behind me…It’ll be just like coming...home.” Thus begins this dramatic tale. Ensnared within an altogether one-sided game of hide and seek by an imposing bevy of his rogues’ gallery, the Batman has only an hour to make his way past the winding corridors and inner recesses of the facility. If he fails to persevere through this harrowing gambit, the Dark Knight runs the risk of being broken—by either his malformed and deranged enemies or the dark soul of Arkham—“a serious house on serious earth.” According to the original script included in the 15th Anniversary Edition of the graphic novel, the writer Grant Morrison was inspired to write the work after learning of the tragic, but fictional, tale of one Dr. Amadeus Arkham, the founder and first administrator of the facility. Appropriately, Morrison splices the troubled childhood and life of psychiatrist Amadeus Arkham—while prominently documenting his slow descent into insanity. These “flashbacks”— while seemingly irrelevant to the present—actually play a far greater role in the events of the story than even the reader can predict. Grant Morrison later admits that he was driven to write Arkham Asylum as a means of making an artistic statement in the comic book medium. Consequently, Morrison adopts a far more surreal approach to the Batman mythos—aided by the beautiful illustrations of Dave McKean. This approach is perhaps best expressed through the radical characterizations of major characters and the themes explored
in the graphic novel. Many characters in the DC Comics universe were dramatically reimagined by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. These include more popular figures such as the Joker, TwoFace, and even Batman himself. The graphic novel also prominently features less well-known persons. They consist of the Black Mask, Professor Milo, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Clayface III, Doctor Destiny, Maxie Zeus, the Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, and Killer Croc. Most notably, Morrison offers his own interpretation of the Joker’s chaotic mental state through the person of Dr. Ruth Adams. Dr. Ruth Adams: “…It’s quite possible we may actually be looking at some kind of super-sanity here. A brilliant new modification of human perception…” This analysis is a significant departure from that of other writers who traditionally wrote the villain either as a cackling but otherwise ineffectual clown-faced criminal or as a highly intelligent, mentally deranged and physically disfigured sociopath with a vicious sense of humor. Another interesting character portrayal is that of the villain and crime boss Two-Face. In Arkham Asylum, Grant Morrison focuses on the character’s obsession with duality and his psychological dependence on his trademark coin. More importantly, he highlights the abject sense of vulnerability Two-Face experiences when faced with the loss of his coin. The psychologists at the facility, in an effort to heal his fragmented psyche, attempt to develop his decision-making ability. They replace the coin with a six-sided die and then a deck of tarot cards. Thus, the character now has seventy-eight options at his disposal. Nevertheless, the treatment fails. Given so many options, the longtime Batman foe is left frozen in a state of indecision à lá Hamlet—unable to make even the most simple of decisions without consulting the cards. It is only when Batman returns his coin at the conclusion of the story that he regains his former strength and power. Similarly, the Batman of Arkham Asylum is far different from its current incarnation. Morrison himself admits that his adaptation of the iconic character was meant to serve as “a critique of the ‘80s interpretation of Batman as violent, driven, and borderline psychopathic.” Over the course of the work, the writer allows the reader to observe the psychological and emotional growth of the hero—as he is transformed into the epitome of the supreme individual.
Grant Morrison’s ability to incorporate age-old DC Comics characters—of whom new fans may not be aware, or even remember— and firmly establish them in the context of the modern DC Universe is a living, breathing testament to his skills as a writer of complex, gripping tales. For instance, Professor Achilles Milo, a typical “mad scientist,” had not been heard of in Batman comics since he accidentally drove himself insane with a chemical gas in a failed plot against the Dark Knight. In typical Morrison fashion, the writer brought the character out of obscurity while adding his own twist. Milo had been imprisoned in Arkham Asylum since that incident. However, the gas had long since worn off. Disturbingly, the character had been unable to convince administrators or therapists of his sanity. Although those figures explored in the aforementioned graphic novel may not resemble their “proper forms” they still evoke the original spirit of characters while adding a darker, more mature spin to their physical and mental forms. Hence, they become symbols incarnate in flesh. Maxie Zeus—a criminal mastermind obsessed with Greek mythology and under the delusion that he is the god Zeus—is transformed even further. In the work, he becomes a withered figure addicted to electroconvulsive therapy and suffering from both messianic delusions and the aptly titled “god complex.” Similarly, Killer Croc—made to look even more like a crocodile for his appearance in the book—reflects the Dragon/ Beast from the Book of Revelation. Grant Morrison and Dave McKean dealt with a number of themes in order to bring the work to life. According to Morrison, “[t]he subtitle was taken from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Church Going.’” On the subject of the story itself, the two men were profoundly influenced by the words of writer Lewis Carroll, the ideas of psychologist Carl Jung, the tarot of Aleister Crowley, “the Wickedest Man on Earth”, and the scientific field of quantum physics. The painted imagery and artistic layout of Arkham Asylum owed its genesis primarily to varying forms of surrealism and an Eastern European ambiance of terror. Lastly, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth is a work that I recommend to non-comic book fans and comic book fans, alike. Both groups can appreciate the mature subject matter and visionary art style of the work in question. It is the type of story that can be read and enjoyed again and again. After all, the reader is able to appreciate the graphic novel in a different manner. He or she may locate a previously unnoticed detail or come to interpret an image or phrase entirely differently. That is the underlying beauty of such a prodigious and meticulously developed literary work.
ILLUSTRATIONS: ARKHAM AYSLUM, DC COMICS
44 ROLLING STONEHILL
FALL 2009 CULTURE 45
: P I R T D A O
T N O M VER
K S O K R T T MA
There isn’t anything quite like throwing some snacks into the car, grabbing a map, and heading out on a road trip. The destination isn’t always important, and sometimes, it’s nonexistent. So, let’s leave the GPS behind and explore some interesting, scenic and fun routes in Vermont, the Green Mountain state. It’s home to a lot more than cows, cheese and maple syrup.
VERMONT’S WEST COAST ROUTE
Route 7 is essentially the only way to travel in a north-south direction in western Vermont. Just over the Massachusetts border, you’ll pass through the town of Bennington. Attractions include a vibrant downtown area with plenty of shops as well as the Bennington Battle Monument. Built in 1891, the monument commemorates a pivotal revolutionary war victory in 1777. The area is also home to Glastenbury Mountain, where there have been a number of inexplicable disappearances. Further up Route 7, and its parallel scenic route, 7A, you’ll pass the towns of Manchester, Dorset and East Dorset. The Dorset Field Club, constructed in 1886, is one of the oldest golf courses in America. Continuing north, you will enter the city of Rutland, the second largest in Vermont. It has a beautiful historic downtown which, since 1960, has hosted a popular Halloween parade some claim to be the oldest in America. Route 7 continues through Middlebury, home to Middlebury College, and the gently rolling farmlands of Addison County where it eventually meets Burlington, the largest city in Vermont. Burlington is considered by many to be the cultural hub of the state. Between the Lake Champlain waterfront, the Church Street Marketplace (similar to Faneuil Hall in Boston), and dozens of restaurants, museums and shops, Burlington has enough to keep anyone entertained.
THE GAP ROADS 73 EXIT 2A 125 EXIT 2B 17 EXIT 2C Running up the central spine of Vermont are the magnificent Green Mountains, which in some areas, reach more than 3,500 feet in height. A large area of these mountains in central Vermont is designated as National Forest, so only three major roads pass through this protected and scenic area. The southernmost road, route 73, is accessed from the west in the town of Brandon. Route 73 climbs to an altitude of 2,170 feet at Brandon Gap, before descending through the National Forest to route 100 and the town of Rochester. At the gap is a parking area with great westerly views and Long Trail access if you would like to do some hiking before getting back into the car. The second of the gap roads is route 125, accessed from Middlebury in the west. It climbs to 2,149 feet at Middlebury Gap, and then passes the Robert Frost interpretive trail and the Middlebury College bread loaf campus. It ends at route 100 in the town of Hancock. Finally, at the northernmost edge of the National Forest, route 17 passes through the Appalachian Gap at an altitude of about 2,300 feet. It is the most difficult drive of the three gap roads because the western side is very steep with winding switchbacks. There is a parking area at the top with more westerly views. It’s also a good place to stop and let your car cool off. The eastern half of route 17 descends into Irasville and route 100.
OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR
THEODORE ROOSEVELT HWY ROUTE
Vermont has islands? Yes, it does! Lake Champlain, which is approximately 440 square miles in size and over 400 feet deep in places, has a small chain of islands. US route 2, which can be accessed just north of Burlington, travels north across a causeway through all the islands until it eventually enters Rouses Point, New York, just south of the Canadian border. This route will take you through the island towns of South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, and the Alburg Peninsula. Don’t forget to make a side trip to Isle LaMotte to see more great views of the lake and the St. Anne Shrine. The islands are stunning, especially in the summer.
CONNECTICUT RIVER VALLEY ROUTE
Route 5 shadows interstate 91 and travels north-south alongside the Connecticut River as it divides Vermont and New Hampshire. On it, you’ll pass through historic towns like Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, and White River Junction, the transportation hub of eastern Vermont. Bellows Falls has one of the few fish ladders in New England and there is a visitor center where one may see the ladder and learn about the Connecticut River ecosystem. From White River Junction, you can travel to almost anywhere else in Vermont.
BUT, HOW DO YOU GET THERE FROM SOUTHEASTERN MASSACHUSETTS? I find the best way is to travel I-495 north to US route 2 west and then I-91 north. Google will often recommend I-93 north through Boston into New Hampshire and then I-89 north into White River Junction. Unless you’re heading directly to Burlington or anywhere in northern Vermont, this route is probably is not ideal due to traffic. Depending on the route, traffic, and final destination, getting to Vermont from southeastern Massachusetts will take approximately 3-5 hours. Exercise caution with winter road trips. Many of the mountain passes can quickly become impassable and dangerous in even light snowstorms. So get out there, and travel Vermont by car. Try using a road map instead of a GPS. You never know what new, exciting route you might discover just by reading a map, and that’s exactly what makes road trips so unique. ILLUSTRATION: SHARON MCELROY
FALL 2009 CULTURE 47
Packaged in satire. Too strange to make
up and real enough to write down.
I approached my home—and MY DORM
WAS ON FIRE! The music so loud that
the walls seemed to toddle and rock.
Flashbulbs! Florescent laser beams! Hip 1970’s floor boards! Christmas
flash-flash-POW! Colors, man! Colors!
Psychedelics! Kanye. Jay-Z. Lil’ Wayne. Biggie. Soulja Boy?? What? Come on!
“You bet, man!” That was my real voice. Not the
imaginary one I just used for an artsy sort of thought
process. How else should I have responded? You tell
me. He touched my shoulder. Again. “Alriiiiight!” What
a lovely chap that Romeo was. A true gent! Very high society. His parents must have been so proud.
The stretch of space between the field and the library was oddly bare. Except for Romeo and The Hussy, I was
the only person walking. Or moving—I thought I may
FRIDAY NIGHT—wild was the reek of booze! I was alone at first, curving I remember hearing something then, suddenly, from the blackness. in and out along that dark path between the seminary and those “Buddayy!” A hysterical cry! A gurgling cough from the shadows. My torso heavenly beams of the football field—beyond the ordinary but darted around violently, turning with crazy eyes. before delirium. A certain uneasiness held a deep reign under “Waz up, man!” A figure appears. A popped-collar Romeo in a green polo those black, wrought iron lamps. The lofty trees hung over the and plaid shorts came skipping out of the trees, attached to a twisted asphalt like spidery hands crawling out from the earth. A nice looking blonde in pink, neon tights. I called her The Hussy. In my mind. place for a werewolf. Better place for a murder. What!? Damn, God, no! Not to her face! “Hey!” I said this with a high-five. His hand on it was late. And the moon was rather bright in the clear sky. mine was filled with the same, magnificent pleasures of slapping a wet It felt odd to be that way again. Just me. Holes had formed dog on the ass. I wondered why it was like that. Probably not something in the heels of my sandals. Strangely, the slight soreness to think about that late in the evening. made me smile. And laugh. And sigh happily. How odd, “Goin’ the Pahtyyyy?” the guy drooled slightly onto his chin as he seemed you may think. to bark up at that dazzling, crescent moon. For a second, I glanced into the cocked eyes of his girl for the night, her greased hair mangled and
frizzed into a dirty, flaxen curl. “Hiyya,” she choked. “Having a fun night?”
If I remember correctly, I said, “What?” as my glare turned back towards the guy. Met with his response, “Ya Junior?” He left a handprint on the
front of my shirt with an awkward swing of his arm. I’ll have to wash that later, the back of my brain told me. I know, I replied back.
48 ROLLING STONEHILL
have seen a body lying in a puddle of some unidentified
liquid. The pseudo couple disappeared shortly after
our departure from the walkway area. Where to? Why should I know? Back to the woods? Am I talking to
myself? I fiddled with my iPod volume, forcing
the repetitive lyrics of “My Generation” by The Who up to such a degree that
I knew the song would be stuck
in my head for the next hour or two. Or three. Or even the next morning, when The Hussy and
her drunken toy would wake up
wondering why the hell they were
lying next to that random flower
box on the walkway near the SPOCO.
Finally, I passed Duffy and saw that
my residence hall was near. Yet, I still had
work to carry out. For I do, in fact, consider
myself to be a writer for this very magazine you now
hold! And I had a story to write!
“Ahhh, my abode!” I announced to a group
of smoking outsiders, roaming next to
the front door like a pack of famished
wolves, waiting for me to let them in.
They looked at me funny. Questionably, with their yellow stare. Unable to
comprehend my particular brand of wittiness, I assume. Or understand what
an abode is. Poor fellows.
They followed my footsteps inside
anyway. Cautiously, I took out my HillCard, waited half a second for the
“beep”, then very slowly opened the door
as a mangled cough echoed in the tight,
entrance way behind me. Throughout the suite, dancing sardines lined the
walls and ceiling, sharing sweat, spit,
and smells. I smirked at a lone dude with
a Yankees cap twirled over some sort of Mr. T styled Mohawk. “So, do you live
here?” I asked very politely, with no sort
of sarcasm or stuck up sense of asshole
humor. He glared at me with his oddly blue eyes then flexed his biceps, which
were about the size of Kimbo Slice’s left
and right legs. I hurried off to my room.
One hour later: my cell phone read
12:37A.M. The mirrors in the bathroom
were steamed over from the shower,
located behind the open curtain to my left. The girl and the guy taking the
But, for now, the night was too young. The smell of
shower together must have really liked
suddenly, from the early morning, a booze driven
into the mirror in front of me before I
grass too mild. Soon the wilderness would erupt, and
madness! Yes! That lovely stench of urine, sweat,
and raspberry tequila. A mass of untainted vices.
it hot! I had wiped a messy looking oval
began brushing my teeth. Although after
around thirty seconds I decided on the
“maybe I’ll wait ten minutes” decision and
left, passing my roomie on the way out, who soon jo in the suite, ined me back cutting our w ay around gr in ding poodles fairies towar and flutterin ds our room. g
However, br ushing neve r happened again until la ter in the ea I left shortly rly after, cloaked in a ho oded sweats a pair of snea hirt and kers. With th e apocalyptic twang of “The Doors whisp End” by The ering in my ea rs—Jim Mor rison seemin induced voice g to be a drug inside my he ad—the shad ow that was through the st I treaded rident murk of campus lif e. A fly on the follicle in the wall of night. hair of darkne A ss. Can you picture wha limitless an t will be. So d free. Despe rately in ne ed...of some.. hand. In a. .stranger’s ..desperate land. It was time. The w erupted. A ga ilderness ha te soon lay d before me— fire and ice windows beyo and broken nd. Figures ca rrying figures . A sour sten tangerines an ch of aged d marmalad e stung the ai r. Crystal triang squares cutti les and ng into my ru bber soles. Da ncing. Falling Sleep. “It’s ok . Sl eeping. ay. It’s okay . Look at m e, sweetie! LO in a roman OK !” Lost ...wilderness of pain. An d all the ch insane. All th ild re n are e children ar e insane. Wai ting for the rain. Closer. su mmer Closer. Nostril s grasping th e dankness of grime. Red cu sw ea t and ps and bedshe ets. Skunk an d piss. Grass “Shit, man! Ke an d vomit. ep those eyes open, damm it! Hey, think Think of her, of th e girl! dude! THINK! ”An abominab le curse on th the deranged e life of . Failed profan ities. Dwindl ing whores sp their legs to re ading the sky. Prin ces and ladies fallen to sum Trolls beatin m er’s gift. g novel bridge dwellers with sticks of glas taking hold s. Spirits of the mind. Puppies flyin g high on pi bearded mon xi e dust. A key with lolli pop ears, hold ing up his to twisted adm ys with a iration. Bottl e fed until th e fall. A pirate rapier high as lifts up his the steam fo gs the early morning nigh the crimsont, whilst headed caba ret player, w ith tears below he blows a whi r eyes, stle hard. Sp arkling glitter . Silver curtai And the red in ns . Rain. digo light of the sirens pl ayed on. The morning woke me. Af ter jumping out of bed an on a pair of je d pulling ans and a t-shi rt, I hobbled over to the ba to brush my throom teeth. I don’t understand w hy they neve the bathroom r clean s on weekend s. I won’t ta ke a sh ow Monday, I th er until ought. I left, walking past places I’d seen but only in a before, different sort of time and pl ac e an d moment. Stepping ov er some br oken glass. Side winding puddles of br dark own and gr een. Glancin g ov er tu rn bins. About ed trash half a mile or a little more. I walked. Tw minutes tops elve . Waiting for a door to op en . An d w hen it did, I kissed a be autiful brunet te on her beau tiful lips and myself some had blueberry an d chocolate ch ip pancakes. morning, as
FALL 2009 CULTURE 49
JOHN HANAWALT GRAPHIC DESIGNER, ROLLING STONEHILL
FIVE OPINION LEADERS ON CAMPUS PICK 5 THINGS THEY COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT—FOR NOW. IMAGES: ABOVE/LAUREN MAREK, 01+03/JOHN HANAWALT, 04/PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS, 06/FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/CLINTUS, 08/FOX SEARCHLIGHT, 11/CAMELOT PICTURES, 16/EMI LATIN, 19/ASTERIOS POLYP, DAVID MAZZUCHELLI, 20/CLAIRE SAMBROOK, 24/WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/ROCKINFREE
50 ROLLING STONEHILL
01 HARVARD ART MUSEUM 485 BROADWAY CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138 Sure, I love the ICA as much as anyone; but the city is dirty with art. I visited the Harvard Art Museum and was dumbfounded by their collection, which includes work from thousands of years ago through work done by contemporary artists like Joan Snyder, encompassing masterpieces from the centuries in between. Now through December 23, you can catch ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987–1993, featuring posters and other works of art created at the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Considering student admission to the Harvard Art Museum is $6 with ID, it seems criminal not to go.
02 ANY SONG EVER USED IN AN APPLE COMMERCIAL I’ll admit to completely buying into the lifestyle Apple is selling along with their mp3 players, laptops, and smartphones. That’s why any song that appears in an Apple commercial goes straight from iTunes into my iPod. ‘Bourgeois Shangri-La” by Miss Li, “Bruises” by Chairlift, or “Shut Up and Let Me Go” by the Ting Tings—I can listen to any of these songs and feel like the world is my happy, trendy oyster.
03 VEGGIE PLANET 47 PALMER STREET CAMBRIDGE, MA VEGGIEPLANET.NET FOR MENUS. I don’t eat dead things, which makes going out to restaurants really challenging. Imagine my surprise when I found Veggie Planet in Harvard Square, where the entire menu is vegetarian or vegan. Now double that surprise when I got my food and it was amazing. Triple it when I got my check and the meal cost me less than $10 with tip. Hopefully, by the time you’re reading this, I will have made it to Veggie Planet for their Sunday brunch featuring something called a “Breakfast Pizza.”
04 D.I.Y DESIGN I take on projects compulsively. I craft like most first-years drink— with an abandon and enthusiasm that is detrimental to my health. That’s why D.I.Y: Design It Yourself by Ellen Lupton is like porn to me. The book has technical as well aesthetic advice for projects from invitations and flyers to t-shirts and tote bags. Instead of saying “I wish someone made...” make it yourself. Just don’t be surprised when your parents wonder what you’re doing by yourself in your bedroom all day.
05 BLOC 11 256 ELM STREET SOMERVILLE, MA & DIESEL CAFE 11 BOW STREET SOMERVILLE, MA BLOC11DIESELCAFE.COM I prefer that my coffee come with three things: delicious flavor, plentiful caffeine, and hipster street cred. Bloc 11 in Union Square and Diesel Cafe in Davis—owned by the same people—deliver all three in spades. Each has its own personality but both are guaranteed to please people who like good coffee, local flavor, and businesses with a strong social ethic.
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TOM LALLY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ROLLING STONEHILL 06 TEXTS FROM LAST NIGHT A user-generated site à la fmylife.com, Texts From Last Night posts the most outrageous, hilarious, and embarrassing texts that people submit. Sometimes I’m horrified at what people have done to each other or themselves. Others make me really glad that something hasn’t happened to me. But, like any good car crash, I’m always entertained, or at least morbidly amused.
WENDY PEEK PROFESSOR, ENGLISH DEPARTMENT
07 LAST.FM You know that feature on iTunes on each artist’s page that lists other artists you may like? And you know how sometimes they sound nothing like them? Last.fm has ‘stations’ offering music much closer to the artist you’ve selected. It also allows you buy, tag, or easily share the music you like. Since it’s online, you can access your library from anywhere. It’s basically an online jukebox on steroids.
08 (500) DAYS OF SUMMER If I’ve ever seen a film I liked more, I can’t remember it. The film got quite a bit of hype, especially for an ‘indie’ flick, but the content justifies it. And the soundtrack is incredible, for two reasons. First is the song selection: each has fitting lyrics and matches up incredibly well with the mood of its particular scene. Second is the quality: the album stands on its own as a skillful compilation of a great variety of music (much of which I was totally unfamiliar with).
09 MY WINTER BREAK READING LIST I know it’s kind of dorky, but I am an unabashed English major, and I’m looking forward to winter break so I can finally read something that isn’t required for a class. Tops on my list this winter will be Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer’s debut novel; Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat; and Crime and Punishment by the incomparable Fyodor Dostoevsky.
10 BARNEY’S BLOG ON CBS.COM Anyone who watches How I Met Your Mother even occasionally will be familiar with the hilariously insensitive antics of Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris. In this online blog, Barney offers his extended perspectives on topics addressed in the show. If you, like me, find yourself wanting more Barney by the end of each episode, here is your chance. And any internet search will lead you to archived entries not currently on CBS.com.
12 KNITTING I always go through phases of not knitting to knitting, and I’m currently on a knit-all-the-time kick. It’s relaxing and makes for great gifts!
13 THE RAY LAMONTAGNE STATION ON PANDORA If you’re looking for some mellow music to listen to while you’re doing work or just hanging out with friends this is the station to listen to.
14 COFFEE I always need my cup of coffee in the morning, but I also just love the taste of it. It’s comforting to me and there is nothing I enjoy more than sharing a cup of coffee with friends over good conversation.
15 REHOBOTH Enough said.
JANNA RAYWORTH STUDENT 11 GARDEN STATE I’ve been obsessed with this movie since I first saw it. Not only does it have quirky humor, which I love, but it also has an amazing soundtrack. I find something new that I love about it every time.
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16 MANU CHAO I’m just starting a relationship with Manu Chao, a leftist BasqueGalician singer raised in Paris who sings in French, Spanish, English, Portuguese, and other languages I haven’t yet deciphered. But I’m also having a fling with an old flame...
17 SAM COOKE Sam Cooke, particularly his version of “Summertime” which I somehow missed during the period when I immersed myself in his music.
18 GUANICALE Guanciale: cured pork jowl from organically raised swine. Yum.
19 ASTERIOS POLYP Asterios Polyp, the first solo graphic novel from David Mazzuchelli, who adapted Paul Auster’s City of Glass into the graphic novel form. It’s the story of an egghead in crisis, an esteemed architect whose buildings have never been built, told in just 4 pairs of colors and a wild variety of styles.
20 COPIC SKETCH MARKERS My beautiful, though dear, Copic Sketch Markers are perfect for making comics about the day’s events.
23 CRAIG FERGUSON I’m normally an avowed TV hater, but I make an exception for this hilarious Scottish-born comedian. Unlike most late-night hosts, who read boring monologues and pander to celebrities, Ferguson’s humor is pure stream-of-consciousness insanity. What could be more fun at 1:00 AM on a weekday?
24 BURT’S BEES I’m not a big fan of makeup at all, but these lip balms and other personal care products are actually good for skin. Plus, they’re made of all-organic ingredients.
25 SPINNER.COM It’s a treasure trove of news about the indie music scene. They also offer a free mp3 download of the day, with archives dating back to 2007. This feature helped introduce me to diverse musical acts from folkrock band Fleet Foxes to alternative country singer Neko Case. The choices are eclectic and won’t suit everyone’s tastes, but it’s free—legal—music!
GRACE LAPOINTE LIT EDITOR, ROLLING STONEHILL 21 ADELE This 21-year-old British singersongwriter, who won a Grammy for her debut album 19, writes passionate, beautifully arranged songs. While she claims to be influenced by classic jazz singers like Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald, she’s also clearly developing her own mixture of jazz, soul, and pop. Her throaty, powerful alto voice is a refreshing change from all those shrill, prepackaged pop starlets.
22 AWAY WE GO John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph give moving performances as a young couple traveling across the country to find the perfect place to raise their baby. With a script co-written by the husband-andwife team of novelists Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, the movie is funny and surprisingly touching. Krasinski and Rudolph do a great job conveying the characters’ complicated, believable relationship.
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