The Brandeis Hoot August 20, 2021

Page 1

Volume 19 Issue 1

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe”

August 20, 2021

Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper · Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis to introduce pool testing By Emma Lichtenstein editor

This fall the university will be introducing “pooled testing” for the COVID-19 virus, as announced in the Student COVID-19 Training available on LATTE. This new type of testing will be in groups, or pools, of 10 students at a time as opposed to the twice a week individual testing system the university had previously established. Previously, students would complete the COVID-19 test through a nose swab, before turning it in to a testing center for analysis, according to a previous Brandeis Hoot article. This process has not changed in the new testing model. The difference, beginning later in the fall 2021 semester, is that instead of an individual’s swab being analyzed independently, it will be placed into a tube containing nine other swabs, according

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

The university announced the Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, David M. Fryson, in an email sent by President Liebowitz. Fryson began in the position on July 12; his pre-

to the Student Training. These 10 samples will then be tested all at once. In the event that there is a positive case, all 10 students will need to report to the Health Center to take a rapid COVID test, so the university can determine which student in the “pool” tested positive. “It is important NOT to panic,” urges the Student Training. “Just because you get a call that there is a positive test in the pool does not mean it is you.” These secondary tests will provide results within 15 minutes, after which students who test negative will not be required to quarantine, according to the training module. These students, though, will also be provided with “an individual rtPCR test (nose swab) to be sent for testing overnight to confirm the instant test result.” See POOL TESTING, page 4 PHOTO FROM HOOT ARCHIVES

decessor Mark Brimhall-Vargas departed from the role on July 23. Fryson has practiced law for nearly 30 years in various legal settings and advocacy positions, according to the Diversity Equity and Inclusion page. He served as an attorney in many civil rights cases and other litigation cases. Fryson ran his own practice for many years, according

to the email sent by Liebowitz. Fryson was the first African American Chief Legal Official for two municipalities in West Virginia, according to the page. Before he became an attorney, Fryson worked on the Governor’s Economic Development staff for two West Virginia governors. In 2014, Fryson was recognized as a West Virginia Bar Fellow, ac-

cording to the West Virginia Bar Foundation’s page. This is awarded to layers whose professional and public careers show dedication to the welfare of their communities, according to the page. In 2015, Fryson earned the Certificate of Recognition from the West Virginia Governor’s Office and the WV Human Rights Commission, according to his page.

Fryson also received a national Role Model Administrator Award from Minority Access, Incorporated in Washington D.C. In 2016. During his career, Fryson also worked in higher education at West Virginia University (WVU) as Deputy General Counsel, according to the email. At WVU, See NAMES, page 2

Univ. issues updates to COVID-19 policies on campus By Victoria Morrongiello editor


Inside This Issue:

News: Dean invited to Biden Administration. Ops: Burger King enters chicken wars. Features: A scinece class in the kitchen. Sports: Fall sports return to Brandeis. Editorial: Hopes for this year.

Page 3 Page 11 Page 9 Page 5 Page 7

The university has announced new COVID-19 protocols for community members for the fall 2021 semester. New protocol includes more frequent testing appointments and no indoor distancing restrictions beyond the listed capacity of a given room, according to an email update sent to the community by Dan Kim, Senior Vice President, Communications, Marketing and External Relations. All students returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester will be required to submit a test

upon arrival, according to the COVID-19 policies page. Fully vaccinated students returning to campus who are asymptomatic and awaiting their test results from their on-campus test must limit the indoor gatherings they attend. They are permitted to enter dining halls to collect food, submit tests at testing sites and visit the Health Center for appointments. Vaccinated individuals may still engage in outdoor activities while awaiting their results if they remain masked at all times, according to the page. Unvaccinated individuals returning to campus must remain

brandeis guide

rose reopens

One of out editors compiled a comprehensive guide to Brandeis.

Read about the new exhibitions in the Rose Art Museum.



See UPDATES, page 4


2 The Brandeis Hoot

August 20, 2021

Univ. gives update on sustainability plans

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

The university has announced its efforts to advance its sustainability commitments, including additional proposals in the university’s climate action plan, according to an email update sent by President Ron Liebowitz to the community. The additional initiatives include reducing our climate impact and improving climate change and sustainability education, according to the email. The President’s Task Force submitted recommendations last August for how the university could move forward with its sustainability goals. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there was a delay in the review of these recommendations, wrote Liebowitz. The Office of Sustainability has begun to work on the Task Force’s recommendations, including the creation of the Sustainability Committee in December 2020—a group meant to recommend and implement sustainability initiatives in university education and operations, according to their page. The committee will also be responsible for holding the university accountable to its longterm sustainability goals, wrote Liebowitz. In the update, Liebowitz wrote that the Sustainability Committee has begun several recommendations including the reduction of our carbon footprint of food purchases, adopting a new green building standard for construction and renovations, alternative financing options for building improvements and making a plan to

improve the sustainability profile of all university purchases. In addition to reviewing the recommendations, the Sustainability Committee has also announced initiatives in the new climate action plan which the university will pursue in the coming years, wrote Liebowitz. The additional goals include: reducing our climate impact, improving climate change and sustainability education, implementing the best practices for sustainable and equitable transportation, implementing sustainable procurement practices and improving water conservation and management. To rescue our climate impact, the Sustainability Committee plans to pursue carbon neutrality by creating a carbon mitigation plan. According to the update, the proposed plan will detail engineering and financial strategy which can help accelerate carbon reduction on campus. In addition the university will be joining the Cool Food Pledge, an initiative in which organizations reduce their climate impact in the food they serve, according to their page. The university’s dining carbon footprint can be viewed in the new dining sustainability dashboard. The university will also begin planning an analysis of issues and inequalities related to climate change, according to the update, to help improve climate change and sustainability education. This campus-wide effort will engage the entire community to deepen our understanding of climate change as a social justice issue, wrote Liebowitz. The Sustainability Committee also plans to review the university’s transportation system in its

sustainability and equity. According to the update, the committee will evaluate on-campus parking resources and the cost of subsidized public transit in order to create a fair and equitable plan for transportation costs to campus. The committee will review how to reduce single occupant vehicles as well as improve biking and pedestrian infrastructure. While looking at transportation patterns, the university will take into consideration the changes made due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To introduce sustainable procurement practices, the Sustainability Committee plans to reassess the university’s dining vendor contract at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, according to Liebowitz’s update. The university’s current vending contract is with Sodexo, after a two-year extension was granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a BrandeisNOW article. The committee also plans to reduce single-use disposable items on campus in dining halls and department offices, as soon as public health guidelines permit the reduction of such items, according to the update. The sustainability committee plans to purchase only electric vehicles for campus vehicles, unless an electric alternative is unavailable, according to the email. To support the electric vehicles there will be an increase to the charging infrastructure available on campus. The final goal to improve water conservation and management will be tackled by the committee by creating a hazard mitigation plan, according to the email. This plan includes the potential for

flooding during extreme precipitation events caused by climate change both inside buildings and along evacuation routes. The Sustainability Committee also wants to install water meters to measure campus water usage and adopt sustainable landscaping to conserve water and reduce chemicals used on campus to treat the landscape. The Task Force’s full recommendation list can be found in the Draft Climate Action Plan. The New Climate Action Plan, drafted in 2020, is the third climate action related plan released

by the university since 2008 when the university signed the Carbon Commitment, according to the Office of Sustainability’s Climate Action page. This plan prioritizes plans for climate resilience and how to increase sustainability practices and climate change education on campus, according to the page. The university also plans to review the fossil fuel policies set in November 2018 this coming November to observe the data from the past three years to direct future action on the subject.

photo from

Alumna nominated by President Biden to combat antisemitism

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA ’72, PhD ’76, H ’19, was nominated by President Biden to serve as a special envoy responsible for monitoring and combating antisemitism, holding the rank of an ambassador, according to a White House Statement from July 30. Lipstadt is a historian, professor and writer focused in studying Holocaust denial and antisemitism. Lipstadt is a professor of Modern Jewish Studies and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, according to her faculty page. She began working at Emory in 1993 in the Department of Religion, according to an Emory article. She was the founding director of the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University, according to the White House Statement. She served as its director for 10 years, from 1998 to 2008. Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves, in regards to the nomination, wrote, “I am heartened to see the nomination of Dr. Lipstadt as an expert and teacher who can help lead our nation forward on this vital issue.” Lipstadt gave the keynote address at Brandeis’ 68th commencement in 2019, according to the university’s Honorary Degree Recipients page. In her speech Lipstadt advised the graduating

class to “fight hate and prejudice in all forms,” according to a BrandeisNOW article. In her address, Lipstadt said, “And if you see them harassed or mistreated, you must feel outraged, even if it is not a member of your own group suffering the insult. In the fight against evil, there are no bystanders. Onlookers are not neutral. They are complicit.” According to her Emory faculty page, Lipstadt was a historical consultant for the United States Holocaust Memorial Muesum. She was responsible for helping design the exhibit on the United States’ response to the Holocaust. Lipstadt served as a member of the Holocaust Memorial Mueseum’s Executive Committee as well as a chair for the Educational Committee and Academic Committee for the museum, according to her page. Former President Bill Clinton appointed Lipstadt to serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, which she sat on for two terms, according to her faculty page. She has also been selected by Congress to consult on political responses to Holocaust denial. Lipstadt was a member of the United States State Department Advisory Committee from 1996 to 1999 as a Religious Freedom Abroad advisor. Lipstadt has received multiple honors and awards, including the Albert D. Chernin Award given

by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), according to her faculty page. This award is given to individuals who are dedicated to social justice work in Judaism, Jewish history and the protection of the First Amendment, according to the JCPA page. This award has also been given to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Professor Alan Dershowitz. Lipstadt is an author of multiple

Holocaust books including: “Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust 1933-1945,” “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier,” “The Eichmann Trial,” “Holocaust: An American Understanding” and “Antisemitism: Here and Now.” She has also appeared as a political commentator on Good Morning America, NPR’s Fresh Air, the BBC and

the Charlie Rose Show, according to her faculty page. Lipstadt also contributes to newspapers and journals. Lipstadt was one of four nominees put forward by President Biden who are intended to be appointed to roles in the U.S Department of State and the U.S Commission on International Religious Freedom, according to the statement.

photo from

August 20, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Heller School Dean nominated under the Biden Administration to work in Labor Department

By Victoria Morrongiello editor

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management Dean and Professor David Weil (HELLER) was nominated for the position of Wage and Hour Administrator in the Department of Labor, according to a statement released by the White House on June 3. Weil joined the Heller School faculty in 2017, according to the statement. Before working at Brandeis, Weil held the position as Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the United States Department of Labor under the Obama administration, the same role to which he was nominated by President Biden. Weil served

in this position from 2014 to 2017, according to the statement. In the statement from the White House, Weil is described as “an internationally recognized expert in employment and labor market policy along with regulation, transparency policy and the impacts of industry restructuring on employment, work and business performance.” In his announcement to the Heller School community, Weil wrote that it is a “great honor” to be nominated for this position under the Biden administration and to work under the leadership of Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. According to Weil, it was a privilege to have held the same position under the Obama administration.

“I have said before that the only reason I would consider leaving Heller would be if I received a call from the White House, and despite the challenges of this year, that sentiment remains true,” wrote Weil in the email. Weil wrote that he plans on continuing in his position as Dean of the Heller School until his nomination is confirmed by the Senate. He continued his work with the Heller school through the summer and likely will continue into the fall 2021 semester, according to his statement. The confirmation process can take many months. Because of this, Weil wrote that he will be discussing contingency plans with the university for the transition for the person who will succeed him.

In an email announcing Weil’s position, President Ron Liebowitz wrote that, “[Weil] has been an exemplary leader here at Brandeis, and the U.S. government would be fortunate to once again benefit from his leadership.” Weil has experience advising government agencies; throughout his career he has worked at the state and federal level. Weil has also worked with international organizations regarding employment, labor and workplace policy, according to the White House statement. Weil is the co-founder of the Transparency Policy Project— an initiative which, according to their page, seeks to improve the disclosure of factual information to the public—at the Harvard

Kennedy School of Government, according to the statement. Throughout his career, Weil has written more than 125 articles as well as five books, including “The Fissured Workplace,” “Economic Growth: International Edition” and “Full Disclosure,” according to the statement. Weil is the recipient of many awards including the Frances Perkins Intelligence and Courage Award—an award given to individuals who have exemplary work in social justice and economic security, according to the Frances Perkins Center’s page. Weil was the recipient of the award in 2019. Weil was one of seven key nominations made by the White House in the June 3 statement.

New chief of public safety: Matthew Rushton By Roshni Ray editor

New Chief of Public Safety Matthew Rushton and Vice President for Campus Operations Lois Stanley recently updated The Brandeis Hoot on progress made towards Public Safety. Having gathered community feedback on improvements to Public Safety via the Re-Imagining Public Safety report and community surveys, Brandeis now welcomes Rushton to lead these efforts. As the former Assistant Chief of Police at Bridgewater State University, Rushton listed his past roles as a campus police officer, Police Lieutenant and in policy development concerning bias free policing methods. While he was not intending to leave his position at Bridgewater State, the “very specific requirements that Brandeis was looking

for in a new leader...really described [him] as a person,” and he therefore felt compelled to apply, he told The Hoot. The input regarding improvements for Public Safety from Black Action Plan student leaders and Brandeis faculty, students, and staff will inform the new goals for the office in the near future. Rushton felt that his experience at Bridgewater State would make him a really “a really good fit for Brandeis to help guide [Brandeis University] through that process of change,” he says. The Reimagining Public Safety report also “strongly recommended a strategic plan for a community wide definition of what Public Safety’s role is at Brandeis University,” Stanley says. She explains that Rushton’s expertise in strategic planning was “one of the reasons he was at the top of the list” when recruiting for the open position.

Now approaching a month into the position, Rushton described his enthusiasm for getting to know the Brandeis student community over the summer as well as in the future. In the spirit of Public Safety’s goal to better integrate with the Brandeis community, Rushton explains the need to “try to find opportunities where students...want Public Safety present,” he says. Additionally, Stanley and Rushton describe the strategic collaboration of Public Safety with other organizations on campus such as the Department of Community Living (DCL), the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) and transportation services in order to provide an appropriate response to diverse student needs. Rushton also discusses staff trainings underway, saying, “our own staff will continue to look at de-escalation training techniques” in hopes of seeing campus officers

“as a resource.” Rushton emphasizes the importance of ongoing conversation between the community and Public Safety, saying, “My strategy since I’ve been here has been...listening [to] really get my own sense of how students, faculty and staff do Public Safety, and what we can do to improve our relationships.” Additionally, Stanley discusses the creation of the Campus Safety Committee, explaining the importance of bridging Public Safety with community input. A new space that Rushton plans Public Safety to engage in is “non-enforcement roles” in order to build trust between the student body and Public Safety. For example, Rushton described participating in a fun game of volleyball with Brandeis Community Advisors this summer. Additionally, Rushton and the Public Safety staff will be helping students move in during the following

week and hosting a movie event with complimentary candy. Rushton strongly encourages students to reach out to him via social media platforms such as Facebook and follow the Public Safety page to stay updated on upcoming events. He also encourages students to follow the BranVan Instagram page to learn about new developments in transportation.“I’m hoping to post content like that so that students can see us in another light outside of just the uniform,” Rushton says about sharing recreational community engagement events. Stanley echoes Rushton’s request for students to reach out, saying, “We found through the Re-Imagining Public Safety report process that Public Safety feels that they exist on the edge of the campus community...We want to get our Public Safety integrated in the community. It’s good for Public Safety, and it’s good for the community.”

SciFest returns, showcasing student research By Roshni Ray editor

The culmination of this summer’s undergraduate scientific research projects reached the limelight at Brandeis’s 10th Annual SciFest on Aug. 5. Ninety-three undergraduate students presented their work to the Brandeis scientific community in the first major in-person poster session since March 2020. While the majority of presenters were Brandeis students, SciFest also welcomed work conducted by students from nearby universities working with Brandeis faculty. Steven Karel, Co-Director of the Brandeis Division of Science, describes the core purpose of SciFest, saying, “It’s really about engaging the students with other students and the community as an audience.” Brandeis student Albert Countryman from the Living Patterns Lab describes the value of presenting at SciFest, saying, “It was so gratifying to be in a position of being able to take my own work as real for the first time.” In order to ensure that this year’s SciFest was a success, Karel cited several cautionary measures put in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Present-

ers were required to test negative for COVID-19 within three days of SciFest. Moreover, presenters utilized Gerstenzang in addition to the traditionally used Shapiro Science Center as a space to set up posters, allowing for sufficient social distancing. The pandemic posed many challenges for student research during the summer of 2020. Karel describes how Brandeis undergraduates had already submitted proposals for summer fellowships and grant money, however there was still uncertainty regarding lab capacity. Despite SciFest being canceled and the dubious return of undergraduates in lab space during that summer, the Division of Science still awarded monetary grants to support student work as they modified to computational/ remote projects, Karel recalls. “We didn’t really want to make students present on projects that had been interrupted and restarted,” Karel explains. Ultimately, many students presented the following April at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at Brandeis, Karel notes. A product of the predominantly remote undergraduate research contributions was some “pretty innovative projects...There was a Zoom journal club that the PhD students organized with a bunch

of the undergraduates,” he says. Although virtual poster sessions had proven to be successful in the past, “...coming into 2021, we were determined to have an in-person event. Statistics looked good in the summer,” Karel says about this year’s SciFest. Having 25 years of experience in supportive research and administration at Brandeis, Karel remarks upon the motive for creating an event like SciFest. “The first SciFest in 2011 was the first

big event that the Division organized to bring together undergraduates.” In spirit of Brandeis’s interdisciplinary academic values, the goal for SciFest was to “try to use undergraduate research to make it a way for students across departments to connect,” he explains. As the labs reestablish full capacity, Karel comments on relaxed coronavirus protocol during the summer, saying, “I think really the key for the labs is to find a

policy that everyone is comfortable with. It’s really about respect for your co-workers.” Moving forward, Karel hopes to “get more students involved [in research at Brandeis].” Part of that goal requires adequate funding to support summer projects, for which events like SciFest play a large role, Karel says. All in all, what this year’s SciFest unmistakably proves is that undergraduate research is a “tradition and mainstay of the educa-

photo from


The Brandeis Hoot

August 20, 2021

Brandeis to introduce “pool testing” for fall 2021

POOL TESTING, from page 1

Upon arrival to campus, students will not be participating in pooled testing; the university plans to continue its previous means of testing, according to an email sent by Morgen Bergman, Assistant Provost for Strategic Initiatives. However, in preparation for pooled testing the university

will be discontinuing take-home kit testing. Take-home kit testing began in the spring 2021 semester. Students will be asked to complete the tests on site, like in the fall 2020 semester, according to a previous Brandeis Hoot article. According to Bergman’s email, the university is “continuing to work with the Broad to get up and running with pooled testing, and

returning to testing with individual tests on site will help us prepare for this transition.” Students who fail to comply with the order to visit the Health Center after someone in their pool has tested positive will be reported to the Dean of Student Offices, as a violation of community policies, according to the training module.“You are permitted to

miss class or other commitments in order to comply promptly, and the University will support you if your professor or supervisor does not prioritize your instant test. Not complying (not showing up) is a very serious offense and will result in disciplinary action,” according to the training. The training module explains that students will receive an email from

ProjectBeacon explaining how to set up an account to test and receive results. Students will need to provide their Brandeis address and their phone number—or a guardian’s phone for those under 18—in order to create an account. Updates on pooled testing will be sent to the community by Bergman via email, according to her email.

University updates covid policy on campus POLICY, from page 1

to the website. The final dose of the vaccine must have been received at least two weeks prior to coming onto campus. Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are authorized by the U.S. FDA for use in the United States. The university is still evaluating how non-FDA vaccinations will be treated, especially for international students that may have received non-FDA approved vaccines, according to their website. Additional guidance will be provided closer to the beginning of the fall semester.

Incoming students will have the ability to upload their completed vaccination card to the Brandeis Campus Passport within a week of creating their Brandeis emails and will also be asked to provide a record of vaccination on their Health Center health report. Returning students can upload vaccination records to the Brandeis Campus Passport, according to the email. Students that participated in on-campus vaccine clinics will not need to take additional steps to provide a record of vaccination. The university will be offering another vaccine clinic with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday, May 5 for current

students who missed the initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine clinic on campus, according to email. Students may also sign up for a first or second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during the upcoming vaccine clinic on May 13 through May 16. Students receiving their first shot at this clinic will be required to seek out their second dose on their own. Vaccine clinics will be held on campus weekly throughout the spring and summer “to provide a convenient and equitable way for community members to receive the vaccine,” according to the email. The university will also be hosting on-campus vaccination clinics

Interim Chief Diversity Officer named NAMED, from page 1

cording to the email. At WVU, he served as the founding vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion from 2012 to 2017. He then served as senior advisor to WVU president, for diversity and E. Gordon Gee for Diversity Community Outreach until 2020 when he retired, according to his page. According to Liebowitz, Fryson is very familiar with the management of programs and offices that help institutions become more inclusive, equitable and welcoming spaces. Liebowitz wrote in the email that he believes that Fryson’s expertise will be a valuable addition to the university’s community. Fryson has worked with various issues of diversity in his life, according to his page. He worked as a partner at Kingdom Managements, which is a firm that delivers diversity and inclusion training and workshops. He also has worked on campaigns where he

led statewide minority business ventures which helped develop minority businesses, according to the page. Fryson has been involved in civil rights organizations on the national, state and local level. Fryson has also written for a statewide newspaper, appeared as a political commentator and has served as an ordained pastor for over 35 years, according to the page. The university announced the departure of Brimhall-Vargas from the position back in May, after he accepted a position at Fenway Health. Brimhall-Vargas joined the university in 2017 and founded the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, according to an email sent by Liebowitz in May. Brimhall-Vargas has been involved in the creation of the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Ombuds and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He also worked with the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Intercultural Center on campus, according to the email.

photo from

at the beginning of the fall semester for students who are unable to get vaccinated any earlier, according to their website. Students that are vaccinated through these clinics will have limited access to campus spaces and facilities until they are fully vaccinated, which could take up to six weeks after their initial shot. The university is still evaluating vaccination requirements for faculty and staff but has “strongly encouraged” all employees of the university to get vaccinated as soon as possible, according to the website. All faculty and staff are now able to sign up for vaccinations through the university’s vaccine clinics, according to an April

29 email sent to the Brandeis community by Morgen Bergman, Assistant Provost for Strategic Initiatives and director of the COVID-19 vaccination program at Brandeis. The university announced plans to re-open campus for an “in-person experience” for students in fall 2021 according to an email sent out on March 16 by members of the senior administration. A majority of classes will be taught in-person while continuing to utilize physical distancing measures.

COVID-19 Dashboards


Total COVID-19 tests administered each week. Last Update August 18, 2021.


Total postive COVID-19 cases each week. Last Update August 18, 2021.

August 20, 2021

By Justin Leung editor

After a year of limited sports at Brandeis, in fall 2021, it appears as if a few sports are returning. Although some sports are not going to be fully and completely free like previous years due to the pandemic, athletes will still get the opportunity to compete in games. Nearly every sport in fall 2021 was cancelled, but this year many of the sports are returning. Fall sports start quickly as there are three games on Sep. 1. The first sport to make a return is Brandeis men’s soccer. Men’s soccer will be the first sport to have a game in the fall as they will face Western New England University at home on Sep. 1. Additionally, they will play three other games within the first week


The Brandeis Hoot 5

Return of Brandeis fall sports

of the season. Their second match will be against Hobart at home on Sep. 4, and will be immediately followed by a game against Keene St. on Sep. 5, at Keene St. The final match of the week will be on September 8 against Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) at WPI. This makes it two matches at home and two away within the first week of the season. Last year the men’s soccer team was unable to play in any games in the fall but this year they will quickly get the season started with four games within the first week. On Sep. 1, the women’s volleyball team will also play. They play at home against the Suffolk Rams in their first game of the season. Like the men’s soccer team, the women’s volleyball team will also play four games in the first week of the season. The second game of the season is on Sep. 3, at Springfield college. This is followed by a

game against Westfield St. on Sep. 4 at home. In the last game on Sep. 1, the women’s soccer team will face MIT after having a cancelled season last year. Brandeis women’s soccer team will play two other games in the first week to make it three games in the first week of the season. The two other games are against Lasell, on Sep. 4, and Clark, on Sep. 8. Each of the first three games to start the season will be at home for the women’s soccer team. The other two sports of the fall include men’s and women’s cross country. Both teams will have their first invitational on September 3 at Wellesley. The only other invitational both teams will compete in for the month of September is on Sep.18, at UMass Dartmouth.

photo from

Highlights of the 2021 MLB trade deadline

By Justin Leung editor

This year’s MLB trade deadline was probably the craziest trade deadline in history. Very few teams were afraid to make moves at the deadline. Some teams surprisingly gave up many top prospects as they attempted to make moves toward a championship in the year following a shortened season. Only a few teams truly blew everything up while a few teams appeared to attempt to commit to the championship. Overall, there were a few trades that needed to be highlighted based on surprise or impact. One of the best offensive teams in baseball needed additional pitching help to make a final push for the playoffs. The Toronto Blue Jays have an extremely potent offense led by first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and shortstop Bo Bichette. Even with such a high-power offense, the team still is in fourth place in their division. So, the Blue Jays decided to go and get the second-best starting pitcher in the trade market. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Blue Jays traded prospects Simeon Woods Richardson and Austin Martin for starting pitcher Jose Berrios from the Minnesota Twins. Martin was often considered to be a top 20 prospect in all of baseball, so many people were surprised that the Blue Jays were ready to trade him. This trade was also surprising because the Blue Jays were not super close to the top of their division, so they weren’t guaranteed a playoff spot. Berrios is a very solid starting pitcher that isn’t a free agent until after 2022. However, he has been inconsistent in past years and has frequently been struck with injuries. The trade appeared to favor the Twins as they got a very strong prospect, but if the Blue Jays end up competing in the playoffs, then the Blue Jays may see the trade as a complete win. The Chicago White Sox were set to be one of the best teams in all of baseball with such a strong core of young players, however injuries early in the season put a strong season at risk. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, outfielder Luis Robert and infielder Nick Madrigal all suffered injuries early in the season. However, the White Sox stayed strong and ended up

starting out the season very well and currently they lead their division by over 10 games. With this success, the White Sox front office decided to attempt to make the team even better. So, they decided to go and trade for Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel. After two disappointing seasons with the Cubs, in the 2021 season, Kimbrel has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball. This led the White Sox to trade Madrigal to the Cubs. Madrigal has had a solid career so far as he hits for a high average. The White Sox already had a strong closer in Liam Hendricks, but now they have a two headed monster at the back of their bullpen making it very difficult for teams to come back late in games. One team brought in two power bats to a lineup that already had a lot of power. The New York Yankees traded for first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs and outfielder Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers. According to the NY Times, the Yankees gave a 19-year-old outfielder in rookie ball and pitcher Alexander Vizcaino to the Cubs for Rizzo. They also gave up four other prospects when they traded for Joey Gallo. When the Yankees traded for Rizzo and Gallo, they had very few left-handed power bats on the team. But following the trade deadline they ended up with two very good ones. The Yankees at the trade deadline were not close to leading their division; they were in third place in the division. However, general manager Brian Cashman believed that the team was talented enough to turn it around. The Yankees are full of talent on both sides of the field. Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole has not been playing up to his potential after MLB put a ban on extra substances on baseballs. The offense has been hindered due to injuries and poor play. Infielder Gleyber Torres is having a particularly down year. However, the team has a ton of potential, which is why they decided to trade for more players at the deadline. The team did not give up any top tier prospects at the deadline, so even if they don’t go deep in the playoffs, they still have a solid farm system for years to come. The Chicago Cubs not only traded Rizzo and Kimbrel, but they also traded shortstop Javy Baez to the New York Mets and

third baseman Kris Bryant to the San Francisco Giants. All these players were former All-Stars, and Bryant even won a Most Valuable Player award. Baez, Bryant and Rizzo were fan favorites as they helped lead the team to a World Series title in 2016. However, after a disappointing start to the season, the team decided it was time to rebuild. This led the Cubs to trade all these players. Additionally, the Cubs were going to have a difficult decision to make in the offseason if they didn’t trade these players as all four of these players were set to be free agents this offseason. Many Cubs fans were disappointed to see their favorite players leave; however, it appears as if some of them weren’t going to even stay in the offseason due to money constraints. The return for these players wasn’t as people expected. Madrigal from the White Sox was a key player that they traded for, but he is injured so he won’t play for the rest of this season. In the trade with the Mets, the Cubs got outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong who isn’t the most touted prospect but has a very high ceiling. The Cubs also traded pitchers Ryan Tepera and Trevor Williams to various teams, but the returns were minimal. All things considered, the Cubs did well at the deadline knowing that they were not going to be able to keep all these players.

The final trade was one of the biggest trades in MLB history. Hours before the final trade was announced, rumors rose that the Washington Nationals were set to trade starting pitcher Max Scherzer to the San Diego Padres. This was a big move as the Padres were attempting to compete with the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division. Scherzer is having an incredible season where he is again one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. However, even with the rumors floating around, no trade had officially been announced. That was until a report arose saying that the Dodgers were trading for Scherzer. This was a big trade for the Dodgers as they were in desperate need of starting pitching as Trevor Bauer was placed on administrative leave and Clayton Kershaw was on the injured list. Just a trade for Scherzer would have been impactful, however the Dodgers also closed in on obtaining All-Star shortstop Trea Turner in the same trade with the Nationals. Turner is often considered to be one of the most underrated players in all of baseball as he has always been overshadowed by his fellow teammates. He is possibly the second-best shortstop in all of baseball. The Dodgers ended up giving two top 100 prospects in all of baseball. They gave up catcher Keibert Ruiz and starting pitch-

er Josiah Gray. This trade was instantly a win for both teams. The Nationals needed to retool as they invested heavily into starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, who have underperformed. Ruiz is a catcher who is nearly ready to enter the MLB and Gray a starting pitcher who is already ready. Although they gave up Scherzer and Turner, Scherzer was set to be a free agent this offseason, so there was a strong chance that he was going to leave the team anyway. Turner was reported to not accept the Nationals’ attempts at a contract extension. The Dodgers on the other hand got possibly two top 20 players in all of baseball, which is added onto a team that already has incredible players. Once again, the Dodgers shocked the world with this trade as they somehow always surprise everyone by getting the best players available at the deadline even if they do not need them. It appears as if the Dodgers are playing video games as they can get anyone that they want. Even though the Dodgers have one of the best teams in history, baseball is a game that changes every day, so even with a team assembled out of a video game, they still may get shocked and not win the World Series.

photo from


The Brandeis Hoot

August 20, 2021

Messi says goodbye to Barcelona after 21 years

By Rafi Levi staff

“This is the hardest moment. We had hurtful defeats, but football gives you a chance to avenge that. But there is no turning point to this.” These were Leo Messi’s last words as he said goodbye to his boyhood club Barcelona F.C. on Aug. 8, 2021. The greatest football player of all time to some, the Argentinian superstar was only 13 years old when he first set foot in the club. After 21 glorious years, Barcelona announced that they are unable to renew Messi’s contract due to “financial reasons” last week. Messi began his professional career at Barca in 2004, in a league match against Espanyol. Even back then, most football experts knew that the young Argentinian prospect’s style reminded them of legendary Diego Armando Maradona, and he might be the next superstar to change world football. They were right, since he made his professional debut for Barca in 2004, Messi has won 10

By Justin Leung editor

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were nothing like we have ever seen before. Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic led the Olympics to take place a year after they were initially supposed to be held. Secondly, there were no fans allowed in the arena, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo. So, no family members of the athletes were allowed to be in the stands. The only people allowed in the stands were the athletes at the games already. Additionally, following the completion of their event, the Olympic athletes were required to return home. Although the pandemic made the Olympics different from what we are used to, there were still plenty of storylines throughout this year’s Olympics. According to CBS Sports, this year the United States led all countries in total medals won during the Olympics. The United States has accomplished this feat every year since 1996 excluding the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Additionally, the United States won the most gold medals, with 39. China was right behind the United States with 38 gold medals and Japan had the third most gold medals with 27. The United States also led all countries in silver medals with 41 and China was again the next closest country with 32.

La Liga, eight Spanish Super Cup, six Copa Del Rey, four Champions League, three FIFA Club World Cup and three UEFA Super Cup trophies with the club. In other words, Barcelona have won 35 percent of the trophies since their foundation in 1899 with the help of Messi. Individually, Messi shattered all records, his six Ballon D’or (the award given to the best footballer each year) trophies speak for themselves. He scored 671 goals for the Catalan side, the highest number of goals ever scored for a club. To put that into perspective, Barcelona TV had a special broadcast to air all the goals scored by Messi which lasted five hours and 15 minutes. Then, why did Barcelona let go of the greatest player of all time? The short and simple answer is that the Spanish League Board regulated Barcelona’s finances so strictly that the club was not able to renew their contract with the Argentinian, even though he made gigantic sacrifices on his payroll. The rumors, however, point out that the process was a bit more complicated. Some sources claim that the club used

the strict financial regulations as an excuse to depart their ways with Messi who was becoming more and more powerful within the club and was too involved in the board’s decisions. One way or the other, it is sorrowful to think Messi will leave his boyhood club without even saying a proper goodbye to the fans at Camp Nou because of COVID-19. So, what’s next? For Barcelona, catastrophe. Letting Messi go solved very little of the Catalan club’s financial problems as they still have one of the largest payrolls in football and unable to get league licenses for their new signings. It would be a miracle to see Barca lifting any trophies soon. Messi, on the other hand, joined Paris Saint Germain to form one of the most lethal sides in the history of football. Joining his former Barca teammate Neymar Jr. and the French superstar Kylian Mbappe, Messi will be competing in Ligue one for at least two more years. The Parisians’ summer transfer window is already being regarded as one of the most successful transfer windows as they signed Gigi Don-

photo from

narumma, Giorgino Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Ramos alongside Lionel Messi. It is very possible that Messi will be able to

lift his career’s fifth Champions League trophy with his talented teammates at Paris Saint Germain.

2020 Tokyo Olympics recap

Simone Biles withdrew from four gymnastics finals during the Olympics due to multiple reasons. She stated that mental health was a major factor in her decision to withdraw from multiple events. According to CBS Sports, she also appeared to have a condition called “twisties” which also led to her withdrawal from the events. The “twisties” are gymnastics version of the “yips,” where a gymnast loses their coordination and precision, which can be very dangerous to the gymnast. Ultimately, Biles did return to the Olympics and won bronze in the finals of the women’s balance beam. This year swimmer Michael Phelps was not present so the people turned to see who his successor might be, and the United States may have him. Swimmer Caeleb Dressel was looked at as the United States’ new Phelps before the Olympics even started and he did not disappoint. According to The Athletic, Dressel won four gold medals in Tokyo. He first won the 100m freestyle, in which he also set an Olympic record. Next, he won the 100m butterfly, where he set the world record. Then he won the 50m freestyle and set another Olympic record. Finally, with the rest of Team USA, he competed in the 4x100m medley and won while setting another world record. It is safe to say he is ready to take on the mantle as the face of American men’s swimming.

The United States men’s basketball team had a rough start to the Olympics, as they lost multiple friendly matches before the Olympics even began. CBS Sports described how the USA men’s basketball team lost to France in the first game of the group stages. The team proceeded to win the rest of the games they played and won the fourth consecutive gold medal in men’s basketball for the United States. Kevin Durant led the team in scoring in the final against France with 29 points. He also passed Carmelo Anthony to become the all-time scoring leader in Olympic basketball for Team USA. Allyson Felix was already one of the greatest track and field Olympic athletes of all time before entering the Tokyo Olympics. According to CBS Sports, she participated in the 4x400m relay with fellow athletes Sydney Mclaughlin, Dalilah Muhammad and Athing Mu with the possibility of obtaining the most track and field medals by an American. The team proceeded to dominate the competition by winning by nearly four seconds. Felix then passed Carl Lewis and became the most decorated American track and field Olympic athlete as she obtained her 11th medal. Finally, in the men’s high jump, there was an incredible competition between two athletes. In the final of the men’s high jump, two athletes went back and forth for the gold medal. Qatar’s Mutaz Essa

photo from

Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi were in a tight duel until, according to NBC Sports, both athletes failed to get over 2.39 meters. After an official told them they could go to a jump off to see who would get the gold, Barshim asked if they could instead both get gold medals, which was then allowed. Both athletes obtained a

gold medal and Tamberi was ecstatic. CBS Sports reported that both athletes had previously had ankle injuries that inhibited them from competing in major events from the past few years, but after hard work they both succeeded in making a return and both ended up winning a gold medal in the high jump.


August 20, 2021

“To acquire wisdom, one must observe.”

Editors-in-Chief John Fornagiel Emma Lichtenstein Sasha Skarboviychuk Copy Editor Madeline Rousell News Editor Victoria Morrongiello Deputy News Editor Roshni Ray Arts Editors Stewart Huang Caroline O Opinions Editor Thomas Pickering Deputy Opinions Editors Mia Plante Features Editor Shruthi Manjunath Sports Editor Justin Leung Layout Editor Anya Lance-Chacko Editors-at-Large Abdel Achibat Tim Dillon Grace Zhou

Volume 19 • Issue 1 the brandeis hoot • brandeis university 415 south street • waltham, ma

Founded By Leslie Pazan, Igor Pedan and Daniel Silverman


Jonathan Ayash, Lucy Fay, Sam Finbury, Zach Katz, Josh Lannon, Kristianna Lapierre, Max Lerner, Rafi Levi, Francesca Marchese, David Shapiro, Matt Shapiro, Jahnavi Swamy, Luca Swinford, Alex Williams

MISSION As the weekly community student newspaper of Brandeis University, The Brandeis Hoot aims to provide our readers with a reliable, accurate and unbiased source of news and information. Produced entirely by students, The Hoot serves a readership of 6,000 with in-depth news, relevant commentary, sports and coverage of cultural events. Recognizing that better journalism leads to better policy, The Brandeis Hoot is dedicated to the principles of investigative reporting and news analysis. Our mission is to give every community member a voice.

SUBMISSION POLICIES The Brandeis Hoot welcomes letters to the editor on subjects that are of interest to the community. Preference is given to current or former community members and The Hoot reserves the right to edit or reject submissions. The deadline for submitting letters is Wednesday at noon. Please submit letters to along with your contact information. Letters should not exceed 500 words. The opinions, columns, cartoons and advertisements printed in The Hoot do not necessarily represent the opinions of the editorial board.

CONNECT phone • (781) 330-0051 e-mail • online • facebook • twitter • instagram •

ADVERTISE Advertising in The Brandeis Hoot helps spread your message to our readers across the Brandeis campus, in the Waltham community and beyond through our website. All campus organizations receive a 25-percent discount off our regular prices. To reserve your space in the paper, e-mail us at ads@

GIVE A HOOT, JOIN THE HOOT! Writers, editors, photographers and graphic artists wanted to join The Brandeis Hoot, your weekly community newspaper. To learn more, send us an e-mail at, or visit our website

UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS We welcome unsolicited submissions from members of the community sent by e-mail to Please limit submissions to 800 words. All submissions are subject to editing.


The Brandeis Hoot 7

Hopes for the new school year

his is the third semester that we are starting with an editorial focused on COVID-19. It is now weird to think about a time where we are not wearing masks or worried about sharing food with a stranger. And we are tired of it all. Unfortunately, this is not an editorial celebrating the ending of the pandemic and the return to “normal” life. Although we might be back in class and having the library party again, we cannot let the illusion of normality cloud our judgement. COVID-19 is still here breathing down our necks. Brandeis had a successful summer, hitting 10 consecutive weeks of not a single case reported on campus. Despite this success, now that everyone is back on campus, we need to remember that we are one community, and the choices we make for ourselves impact dozens if not hundreds of people. This is not the time to attack members of our community for their choices, but work together as one body with a collective

goal: to have a safe and “normal” semester. Have fun, but be responsible. There are people on this campus that we need to protect. Although current COVID-19 policies may seem excessively strict, they are there to protect all members of our community, and to allow us a taste of that normalcy we all crave so much. Yes, we can have some in-person classes and be maskless outdoors, but this is at the cost of mandatory vaccination and frequent testing. Remember that there are some people in our community, either through medical or religious exemption, who are unable to be vaccinated. These individuals depend on us to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and this is why it is important for everyone to do their due diligence. We also want to give a friendly reminder that being vaccinated against COVID-19, no matter which vaccination you received, does not make you immune from the virus. It is still important to wear masks while closely interact-

ing with others. Brandeis is slowly returning to normal this year. Many COVID policies are being lessened or removed, but that does not mean we should act like the pandemic isn’t a very real part of life. Outside of COVID, we hope to have a good school year, especially in regards to the Student Union and administration. We hope the Student Union continues helping students most in need and supporting university initiatives. The Hoot covers Senate meetings every week, so we know the amount of impact a strong Student Union can have on campus. Additionally, we hope for a year of minimal administration issues. We welcome the new staff that Brandeis has recently hired. We hope your experience here is positive—for both staff and students alike. The Hoot is, as we’re sure most students are, excited to move forward with “a new normal.” The Boston shuttle is back, classes are in person and first-years have roommates again. Let’s all do our part to ensure that this year is the best one yet!

8 The Brandeis Hoot

By John Fornagiel and Sasha Skarboviychuk editors

Have you ever been cooking up one of your favorite treats at home, and wondered what chemical and molecular transformations occur, and moreover, how they manifest into the dish you know and love? Then you should check out Culinary Chemistry (CHSC 7A)! According to the course description, students will gain “a basic understanding of chemical principles as they relate to food, cooking, baking, and other culinary transformations,” while also learning “basic chemical principles, experimental design, data analysis, and science communication.” The course was designed for non-science majors, Professor Stephanie Murray (CHEM) told The Hoot in a Zoom interview. Do not fret if you have never taken a science class before, this intro-level course is made for you to be able to dip your toes in the world of science and experimentation, all while enjoying mouth-watering treats. In terms of the format of the class, Murray said that each topic taught will take up two classes: the first class will focus on the


August 20, 2021

The science of cooking

theoretical and chemical aspect of a topic. After watching some videos or doing readings at home, students will work together in groups on worksheets to reinforce concepts that they learned. The second class will be the culinary experiment, where students will be able to apply the concepts that they learned that week into an edible snack. The best part? This experiment does not occur in a scientific laboratory, but a kitchen much like the one in your own home! According to Murray, this class is focused on this experimental and problem-solving aspect of science, and it is not lecture-heavy. For example, during one week of the class, students will learn the chemical foundations behind why adding salt to a liquid such as water will actually drop the temperature at which it freezes and turns to ice! How will you test this chemical concept in the lab? You will make ice cream and experiment on how the recipe and process changes when you add salt versus when you do not add salt. You even get to use liquid nitrogen, and who wouldn’t want to play with liquid nitrogen in class? Though fun, these kinds of questions and experimental setups are the foundations of science and are what have allowed us to accumulate the vast wealth of knowledge

we have today. Murray was inspired to create this class from a course that she took as an undergraduate. She said she is “very passionate about science but also like[s] to stimulate interest from other disciplines and encourage [others to] be interested in science.” Murray hopes that students from other disciplines can learn valuable skills that science teaches, such as logic, problem-solving and experimentation. Murray hopes that students will come out of the class being better skilled in problem solving, logical reasoning, observations, conclusions and finding sources. Since students are able to get hands-on experience with doing experiments, she hopes they will also become more comfortable with doing labs. The overall goal for Murray is for students to gain an appreciation of science through the fun and interactive lens of cooking. Since the class was created for students who have not taken any college level chemistry, students do not need to know any chemistry to join this class. The class is specifically for non-science majors; science majors cannot take this class, and it does not count for the chemistry major or minor. Murray hopes that she will “make chemistry inspiring for

photo from

many different students.” Through the final project in the class, students will be able to apply everything they learned by designing their own study and doing a project on a question that they are interested in.

Culinary Chemistry is offered every Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Skyline kitchens. Students interested in taking the class can email Prof. Murray

Interested in writing for Features? 

August 20, 2021

By Thomas Pickering


The Brandeis Hoot 9

Being patient and taking your time


The word spoken all too often in the past two years has been COVID-19: A topic which has been beaten to death in every which way and is never absent from conversations and observations alike. It has been without a doubt the single greatest impact on life in its mere two-year infancy and appears as if it will be a continued source of pain for years to come. However, for most of the vaccinated population of Americans, COVID-19 is a name they want to solely exist in history books as life begins to promise some semblance of normalcy. With state-wide restrictions being lifted in most states, specifically in Massachusetts where life has resumed to a more normal pace, vaccinated individuals are taking advantage of the freedoms they are being granted. From my own experience it is liberating, in a sense, to take off the mask which felt like a barrier, not only to disease but also to interpersonal connection. But, my eagerness to return to a more normal life is not shared by all people and is not even shared among all vaccinated people as I have come to experience in my work this summer. Now naturally, not everyone will agree on every issue nor will everyone always fall into one of two camps concerning an issue; but regarding everyone’s re-entrance into society I find it important to distill the differences and prepare some to help others. My experience with this topic came from my work this summer. I was employed at a fitness club in the tennis department with one of my jobs being to work at their tennis camp for young kids. Most

By Abdel Achibat editor

As a precursor to my year studying abroad in Paris, I have tried taking the time to sit down and analyze and appreciate what being from New York and living in America means to me. As a growing adult, it becomes more and more apparent how we are all products of our environments. It was our childhoods, the experiences we had, the people that we were surrounded with and the places we come from that have shaped us. It is what gives us our

of the kids in the camp are under 12 years old, so only a very select few of the older kids are fully vaccinated. Parents with unvaccinated kids occasionally send them to camp with masks to be worn when they are inside changing or if we are forced inside due to rain. One of those masked campers recently forgot their mask during a changing time as we prepared to bring them all into the pool. This camper told his father and his father pulled his son from the camp citing a lack of vigilance for masking at the club. When I read the email from the father saying just that it forced me to take a step back and think about not just how this father reacted to coming out of COVID policy but how the cautious population feels currently. Their hes-

itancy stems from their concern for their health which is the most reasonable and understandable reason; and it is true that although restrictions are being lifted the pandemic is not over and some level of vigilance should be kept. There remain individuals who are still at risk and are in need of our help to keep them safe from this ever mutating and evolving virus The problem in their eyes is those who have gone mask-less and are now more likely to transmit the virus, although personal infection is decreased to an almost negligible number for those who are vaccinated. However, it is not those who have re-entered society swiftly after being fully vaccinated who are causing a problem. It is an internal fear in the more hesitant families that coming out of

the pandemic too fast will come back to bite everyone in the rear end; although credence exists in that thought it is important not to shame them for their prudent judgement on this issue. Rather, as an individual who decided to re-enter “normal” society somewhat quickly, it is important to remind others that society will not leave them behind because they are hesitant. It is important for them to take their time and not feel pressured because others have jumped right back in. For that one camper who was pulled out, he should never have been in camp to begin with due to how concerned his parents were, but I hope they do not feel compelled to enter before they are ready. Distilling this down to a single message is easy: if you are some-

one who entered the normal world quickly, do not gaslight, bully, taunt or pressure reserved individuals to enter before they are ready. It is far better for everyone’s health to take it at their own pace and not remove their masks until they are ready. And for those who are hesitant, please take your time, it is not worth rushing back into this scary world until you are ready. No one is going anywhere and there will be no shortage of connections to make the later you wait. So be patient with others and take your time as one of my campers taught me, as he was planning to make his move and ask out a lifeguard.

photo from

Reflecting before Paris perspective. Coming from New York, I have become so much more appreciative for how much this city has done for me. From my earliest age living in Queens, I had been exposed to ethnicities from South America to Africa to Asia, every race, extreme poverty and extreme wealth. I have seen and lived the struggle immigrants face in navigating an American system that hides pitfalls at every opportunity. I have become accustomed to seeing people and engaging with people that do not share my identities as this has always been daily life. I have been made aware

of the extreme exploitative wealth found all over Manhattan and the deep generational poverty found in neighborhoods all across New York City. I was raised as a New Yorker, with the principles of freedom, opportunity and hustling. I was surrounded by constant work, constant energy and an internal drive to fight for what is right and achieve what I need to achieve. This is what has made me, me. As I encounter people in college from different cities, different states and different countries, I can feel the difference. I can see how living in suburbs has left photo from

photo from

people growing up in their bubbles, bored, and entering into an American lifestyle of work and overindulgence, but where they also enjoy a slower pace of life. And I can see how living in a city where crime and dysfunction is so normal made me learn to accept it, expect it and even seek that chaos in my life. The more work I do to distance myself from my experiences in my childhood and learn from it instead of internalize it, the more I realize other people are on that same journey. It is this difference in perspective, in self and world placement, that I want to see and understand in Paris. I want to experience new people with a background and foundation so different from mine, they could not

possibly think alike, and I want to see what I can learn from it. I want to see how much more my own perspective can grow when it then includes the worldview from France. How much can I change and grow when I can see what the outside world, that always existed all around me, has been thinking all along? This is what excites me so much, the inevitable culture shock of seeing how millions of other people live, think and understand the world. As I get closer and closer to my departure, I welcome this change in my mentality and I am excited for what more of the world I have yet to understand, experience and internalize.


The Brandeis Hoot

August 20, 2021

Brandeis 101: everything you need to know before starting Brandeis

By Sasha Skarboviychuk editor

Starting college is scary. It’s like playing a board game that you’ve never played before, but without the instructions. I, personally, am not great at figuring things out without making a mistake or two. Although you have a lot of advisors and equally clueless people around you, you will have to figure almost everything out on your own. These are a few things I wish I knew when I first came to Brandeis. General Before you even get to Brandeis, join all the Brandeis Facebook groups, and not just the Class of 2025 Facebook group. There are a lot of them, including: Travel Arrangements, Textbook Sale and Exchange, Free Food, Housing, Buy Nothing Brandeis and some fun ones like Overheard or Overseen at Brandeis. The notifications from these groups might be annoying at times, but they will keep you in the loop and provide you with many valuable resources. Figure out how to use Workday and LATTE! You will be using these two websites a lot throughout your college career. Workday allows you to check pretty much anything: your GPA, class schedule, the status of your degree, the general and major requirements you need to complete, any outstanding fees, emergency contact information and a lot more. This is also where you will register for classes. LATTE is where you will see assignments, readings, essentially everything that is related to your classes. While you are exploring Brandeis sites, look at the medical patient portal too. When you are sick, the last thing you want to be doing is figuring out how to make an appointment at the Health Center. You can make an appointment online using the medical patient portal or over the phone. This semester, you need an appointment for all visits. It is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. At orientation you will be given a lot of phone numbers, particularly for emergencies. Write them down or add them to your contacts. My thoughts were similar to what a lot of yours might be: I will not need these numbers, and even if I do, I can find them online. But if there is an emergency, the last thing you will want to waste time on is looking for those numbers. At least save the Brandeis Police and Emergency Medical Corps numbers.

The Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) is an organization of volunteer students who are certified emergency medical technicians (EMTs), who work every day on campus. If you have a medical emergency that you do not think you can handle on your own, call them. Most students are reluctant to do so because they are afraid to get in trouble, but the largest concern for everyone is your own safety. Furthermore, Brandeis has a Medical Amnesty Policy (it can be found in the Rights and Responsibilities), which provides amnesty to students who are involved in or who report emergencies. Download the BRANDA app. It has the times when the dining area, library and gym are open, schedules and tracking of the shuttles, the calendar of events and much more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help and there are many people there for you at Brandeis. Academics Look into the requirements of the majors that you might be interested in. Nothing is set in stone, but being aware and familiar with the requirements will help you navigate the process of making your class schedule. Making your schedule carefully is crucial (you can get a visual of your schedule on schdl). Although it is important to explore your options and try out new fields, it is even more important not to overwhelm yourself. I was the person who did not explore; I planned all my majors and minors in advance, and to this day, I haven’t taken a class that isn’t a requirement. I am not complaining, but I do not think that I am a good example—you really should explore. While it is a good idea to explore different fields and take classes outside of your intended major, you should make sure that you are on track. After all, you don’t want to be that person starting their junior year who has a bunch of random classes that cannot add up to a major (at Brandeis, that’s truly an achievement). I recommend taking some classes that will fulfill your general requirements, some for your intended major and some for exploration purposes. It is important to recognize that for majors with more required courses, you might need to limit the number of classes taken for interest if you want to graduate in eight semesters. The shopping period is when you can freely go to classes without enrolling in them, add new ones and drop them without having it on

your record: it is the perfect time to explore classes. Another important thing to remember is if it sounds like you are going to hate a class: chances are you will. No matter how many times I tried to tell myself that you cannot judge a class by its description, I never truly enjoyed a class that sounded boring to me. If you hated history in high school, chances are taking history in college will not become any more enjoyable. But keep in mind that some classes are a lot more fun than their description sounds, so don’t judge a book by its cover. Once you figure out your schedule (or at least a preliminary version of it), take the time to find where your classes are before the first day of class. Snap Maps are great for finding most places on campus! First impressions matter, and you do not want to be the person who walks into class 10 minutes late on the first day. Brandeis is not the easiest place to navigate. It took me two weeks to figure out where the dining halls are and around a month to find them without a map. Another fun thing to do is to take someone with you and go looking for classes together: you get to bond while doing something useful. Do not worry if you think you are the only one who is lost, almost everyone is. During orientation, your orientation leaders are there to give you a tour of campus and help you find your classes, so don’t be afraid to ask them. Be prepared for class. You can get textbooks at the Brandeis bookstore, at Amazon or sometimes there will be a copy of the book available in the reserved section at the library. The reserved section is where professors reserve the books for their students; you cannot check them out, but you can use them at the library. You can also rent textbooks at the Brandeis bookstore. Before you buy the textbooks, I would check the Brandeis Library OneSearch for the textbooks: sometimes they have digital versions available for free (especially for older books). However, don’t buy textbooks too early: sometimes even though there are required books posted, the professor will say you do not really need it, or post the readings on Latte. It’s pretty unpredictable. I would also wait until you’re certain that you are going to stay in the class before getting the books: I know a lot of people (myself included) who spent hundreds of dollars on textbooks for classes they ended up dropping. This is especially bad for books you rented. If you want to save money

photos by grace zhou /the hoot

(and who does not want to do that) check the for sale Facebook groups or the Textbook Exchange; lots of students sell their used books there for a fraction of the price at which they are sold at the bookstore. Talking to people who were in the class you are going to take is also a good idea, as they might have textbooks they want to sell. You can also sell those books to other students when you are done with them. Taking advantage of office hours is a classic; you hear about it everywhere. And there’s a reason for it: it’s crucial to your success in a class, especially one that you are struggling in. Meeting with your professor outside of class not only gets you the help you need to succeed but also helps to establish connections for mentorship. It’s okay if you are not comfortable with doing that; most people aren’t. I still have to force myself to go to office hours. But be mindful: don’t just go to office hours just for the sake of it. If you are going to go, at least have some questions to ask the professor; don’t go in there with nothing to say. Housing Having a comfortable living environment is crucial to being happy: if you dread going back to your own room, that’s not a healthy environment to be in. Unfortunately, bad roommate matches happen, and it’s okay to not get along with your roommate. I came to Brandeis thinking I was going to be best friends with my roommate, but I soon realized that that was not going to be the case. And that’s OK. Although you should work to maintain good relations with your roommate, you can always go to your Community Advisor (CA) if you are having issues. In general, your CA is a resource you can go to for any housing-related issues you have. They will help you have a conversation with your roommates or guide you to any further steps that need to be taken. If the match just is not working out, you can go to the Department of Community Living and ask for a change. When I had issues with my living situation, they moved me within a week of me asking without making a big deal out of it. If you aren’t happy on campus, remember that moving off campus is always an option after your first year. If there is an issue in your room which requires maintenance, you need to file a work order, which can be done online or through the BRANDA app. Dining Food is a topic of much debate. Personally I am not a huge fan of Brandeis food, but others disagree. If you want to be able to have a lot of variety in the food

you eat, choose the meal plan with the most points. You can eat at the dining hall for points or at any other place on campus. However, be wise with spending your points; many students use all of them up during the first few months and later have limited options. If you do not like the dining hall food, you can always go to Upper Usdan, which has burritos, sandwiches and sushi. There is also Louis’ Deli, which has sandwiches, salads and soups. The Stein is my personal favorite. It is open Thursdays through Sundays and serves comfort food. If you are in the mood for fries at 1 a.m., that’s where you should go. There is also a convenience store on campus, where you can purchase snacks, sandwiches, salads and much more. You can use a meal swipe at most dining locations on campus; charts of where you can use a meal swipe are also available on the Sodexo website. It also has menus of what food available at the dining halls, though they are not always accurate. There is also a food pantry open to all students located in Kutz Hall. Transportation To get around campus, you can either take the Campus BranVan or the daytime Campus Shuttle. Brandeis also has a daytime and evening Waltham Shuttle, which can take you to Waltham during the week, as well as a shuttle to Market Basket. You can find more information and the schedules on the Brandeis website. Take advantage of the free shuttles to Boston. They work Thursdays through Sundays. They leave every hour and a half and take you to the center of Boston or Harvard Square. You can find the exact schedule online. Social Life Joining a club is a great way to make friends. Brandeis has over 200 clubs that will suit any interest you may have. You can even write opinion pieces for my (former) section at The Hoot. Hoot staff have written about everything ranging from feta cheese in the dining hall to investigative pieces on the implementation of Title IX at Brandeis. Check the calendar of events to see what’s happening on campus: there’s always lots of things going on. There are a lot of things listed on Brandeis’ discounts for students page. The Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission when you show your Brandeis ID. This is just the tip of the iceberg; also look around for general student discounts. Hopefully this is the beginning of an instruction book, but remember, everyone writes their own

August 20, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

Burger King’s new Ch’King sandwiches

By John Fornagiel and Sasha Skarboviychuk editors

After months of anticipation Burger King has finally released its response to McDonald’s new chicken sandwiches. The sandwiches come in four varieties: the Ch’King Deluxe Sandwich, Spicy Ch’King Deluxe Sandwich, Spicy Ch’King Sandwich and Ch’King Sandwich. The regular Ch’King Sandwiches come with nothing but pickles on them, so we opted to try the Deluxe version, which has lettuce and tomatoes on them as well. Both sandwiches cost $6.89 plus tax in Massachusetts. John Spicy Ch’King Deluxe While I thought the chicken itself was great and that they gave us a nice hunk of chicken, the toppings on it were very strange. There was a very strange honey glaze on top of the chicken that completely overpowered the other flavors in the dish, almost to the point where my tongue was confused: while I expected to taste some juicy chicken and mayonnaise, I tasted a sugary glaze instead. Also, my tongue could not detect a SINGLE BIT of spiciness in this sandwich. I literally forgot that it was “spicy” by the time I was done. I concentrated pretty hard to try and identify the other flavors in the sandwich, and the lettuce/tomato/mayonnaise was quite nice. But once again, I had to REALLY concentrate to identify some of these flavors. Speaking of which, I would hardly call this a chicken sandwich. While I did indeed get a nice big piece of chick-

By Mia Plante

en, I could not taste any juicy chicken at all. Instead, all I could taste was that glaze. The chicken was only a medium to carry the flavor of the glaze, which really takes away from the whole “chicken sandwich” thing. Overall, I would give this a six out of 10. Ch’King Deluxe Sandwich The Ch’King Deluxe Sandwich was definitely better than its spicy counterpart. In this one, I could at least taste the chicken. To be honest, this is almost an identical sandwich to the one I mentioned above but with one key difference: there was no honey glaze sauce. In fact, I’ll give this sandwich an extra point just for not having that god-awful sauce on it. Otherwise, I do think it needed more sauce of some kind on it, because the chicken was slightly dry. I would have probably liked for them to add a bit more mayonnaise onto the sandwich. However, this sandwich was just overall not too great, it almost tasted like it also needed a bit more salt to bring out some of the flavors. This gets a seven out of 10 for me. Sasha Spicy Ch’King Deluxe This was a very interesting sandwich, John is definitely right, my palate was struggling to understand it. It took me three bites to tell if I liked the sandwich or not. Overall, I think Burger King really stepped up their chicken sandwich game (especially compared to the crap they had before), but I don’t know how much of a hit this one is. I usually LOVE spicy chicken sandwiches but this one is not it. I also have to say that we got the one with lettuce and tomato, since I really don’t

like chicken sandwiches that have nothing but chicken and pickles on them. But even the lettuce and tomato didn’t save this sandwich from this weird glaze they put on the chicken. It tasted almost like bacon, which was not a nice flavor to add to the sandwich. We did get this sandwich a second time, and it was not much better than the first time. The sandwich was still dry, and really could use another sauce. The chicken itself felt more like a glaze medium than the star of the show. So, for once, I would recommend going for the regular chicken sandwich, and would rate this one a six out of 10. Ch’King Deluxe

The regular sandwich was better than the spicy version, but only because of the lack of sauce. In all other aspects, it had the same flaws as the spicy version: although the piece of chicken was huge, it was 60 percent breading, so there actually was not that much chicken. The regular sandwich could also use some kind of sauce; even the extra lettuce and tomato didn’t help. I also had an issue with the breading falling off the chicken, which then slipped out of the sandwich entirely, which became one big mess. Though what made this even worse was the lettuce. What is it with fast food chains using

shredded lettuce? It falls out of the sandwich, makes a mess, and then I have to spend a year chasing the lettuce to put it back on the sandwich. Props to Wendy’s for using whole lettuce leaves instead. Overall, Burger King did not impress me with this sandwich, I would give it a seven out of 10 and never order it again. Burger King has come a long way from its Original Chicken Sandwich, however it still has a long way to go before it can match its competition. Overall we were disappointed with the sandwiches; we would’ve rather gone to McDonald’s or Wendy’s (and paid less for them too).

photo from

Professionalism norms are stupid (and racist!)


As someone who has dyed their hair unnatural colors, gotten piercings and tattoos, and who considers themself an intelligent and hardworking individual, I hate the usual spiel I am expected to give when I discuss my future career plans. “Oh, I want to go to law school.” “That’s so cool…” some people say suspiciously, eyeing my pinkish hair and uncovered tattoos. “Yeah it is, that’s why I am doing all this fun stuff now!” I say to ease their worry. No, you won’t have to be defended by a person with gauges, neck tattoos and blue hair in the future. Lawyers are still “professional”. But in actuality I don’t want to let my passion for the law and civil rights stop me from being perceived as who I actually am. The crossroads of talented workers and workers with body modifications and unique outward appearances does exist, and barring individuals from entire fields due to their lack of traditional “respectability” is a disgusting opinion that has been upheld in professional circles for far too long. It is important for me to note that modifications I have made to my body are a creative and personal choice rather than a natural

occurrence. While obvious, it is necessary to distinguish between the minor type of discrimination I may face as a tattooed white individual with pink hair in professional fields, and the discrimination that many people of color, particularly black individuals, face due to their natural hair. A large portion, if not all, of modern professional standards are rooted in Eurocentric, anglo-protestant norms and traditions. Left over from the time before people of color were able to enter these fields and forms of education, these norms are a disgusting everyday reminder of how racism is rooted in everything. An example of this are dress codes in workplaces or schools that note hair requirements (i.e. straightened) in which styles worn by Black individuals—such as dreadlocks, braids and afros—are singled out. Not to mention the abhorrent professionalism standards that look down upon African American Vernacular English. While white popular culture continues to profit off of black individuals, they are barred from white spaces and called unprofessional for their language style. Additionally, professionalism standards in America often ignore different cultural practices when it comes to professional attire. Even outside of the world of professionalism, religious gar-

ments such as burqas, hijabs and turbans are scrutinized by white America—so it is no question that they are still heavily judged within the competitive professional scene. The position of those who believe that individuals cannot take people seriously who look or act a certain way that they are not used to is ludicrous. This is carved from a basic face-value judgement of an individual rather than their

ability to do their job well. As well as just generalized racism. We all were taught not to judge someone based on how they look; Why are facial piercings, tattoos and— most importantly—different religious, racial and ethnic practices any different? The bottom line is, they’re not. As the world continues moving forward with becoming more accepting of everyone and more knowledgeable of how

racism is woven within every part of society, the professional world eventually has to as well. So far, eight states have banned the discrimination of hairstyles in the workplace since the creation of the CROWN Act in 2019. The majority of young people I know agree, none of these things affect intelligence, work ethic, responsibility or the made up notion of “professionalism.”

photo from


12 The Brandeis Hoot

August 20, 2021

Curation shines at ‘re: collections’ and ‘POSE’

By Ashely Young special to the hoot

The Rose Art Museum opened to the public on Friday, June 25 with two exhibitions, the first major shows since February 2020. The first exhibition is “re: collections, Six Decades at the Rose Art Museum,” a museum-wide exhibition displaying selections from the museum’s permanent collection. The second exhibition is “Frida Kahlo: POSE,” a selection of paintings, works on paper, film footage and photography documenting the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. “re: collections” and “POSE” are not only beautiful, compelling exhibitions, but are powerful showcases of the ways in which curatorial decision-making can be used to put works of art in conversation with each other, establishing new and innovative readings of these works. Spanning the entire museum, “re: collections” is subdivided into six major sections entitled “re: collections,” “re: presentations,” “re: tellings,” “re: citations,” “re:constructions” and “re: visions,” which, according to the Rose Art Museum website, “highlight[s] the radical roots from which the museum grew, while showcasing the potential for future transformations” and “challenges the conventions of art historical narrative by uncovering new connections, charting alternative genealogies, and inviting innovative interpretations of modern and contemporary art.” Opening the exhibition is “Reclining Nude” (1934) by Pablo Picasso and “Abstraction (Greene Street)” (1950) by Beauford Delaney. Together, these paintings establish a dialogue concerning objectification under the male gaze. “Reclining Nude” is a painting of an abstracted female reclining nude with strongly emphasized breasts and butt rendered in thickly applied paint in rich and vibrant colors. Despite work-

ing with an abstracted form, the prominent breasts and butt indicate that Picasso is utilizing the sexualized male gaze to depict his teenage wife (identified as such by the accompanying wall label), objectifying her for his pleasure. This reading of “Reclining Nude” is encouraged by its placement next to “Abstraction (Greene Street),” which depicts four silhouetted figures in an abstracted landscape, rendered with thickly applied paint in vibrant colors. The same techniques found in “Reclining Nude” are present in “Abstraction (Greene Street),” but are not used to objectify or sexualize the figures that populate the painting. Furthermore, Delaney was Black, gay and lived on Greene Street in the avant-garde Greenwich Village in New York City (appearing in the title of this painting)—all of which suggest that Delaney identified with the vibrant, pulsating image he has painted. In sum, the juxtaposition of these two paintings invites the visitor to question the female nude in the hands of a male artist, even when depicted in a nontraditional manner. Moving downstairs to the Lois Foster wing, a screen of canvas strips caked in paint of a variety of colors greets the visitor: Mark Bradford’s monumental “Waterfall” (2015). Behind this screen of canvas, the visitor comes to two walls, one set back in space from the other and each adorned by works that enter into a conversation that questions ideas of finished and recognizable imagery when simultaneously viewed. Grace Hartigan’s “Frederiksted” (1958), rendered with loose brushwork and unresolved imagery, invokes a scene at the park with trees and a small body of water. Standing before the painting is breathtaking, with the image oscillating between the recognizable imagery of a park and simply marks on canvas. Situated to the left is Robert Rauschenberg’s “Second Time Painting” (1961),

a smaller painting composed of rectangular splotches of paint, aggressively applied, with an upside down alarm clock embedded within the paint at the top of the canvas. Part of a series, it was created as a performance piece and painted in front of an audience until the embedded alarm clock chimed, ending the painting session. When viewed together, “Frederiksted” and “Second Time Painting” are unified by rough, unblended brushwork, as well as by bright oranges and reds that draw the eye back and forth between the canvases. Together, these paintings encourage the viewer to think about what it means for a painting to be done: is it the artist’s decision, independent of a legible image? Is it a matter of time? Or can it never be truly determined? Also in the Foster Wing is “Frida Kahlo: POSE,” which “emphasize[s] the profound and creative interplay between photography, fashion, art, and the construction of identity within Kahlo’s multidimensional creative pro-

cess,” according to the wall text at the beginning of the exhibition, through five overlapping sections entitled “Posing,” “Composing,” “Exposing,” “Queering” and “Self Fashioning.” Although largely separate from “re: collections,” the moment of overlap between the two must be highlighted. In the back corner of the Foster Wing, John Bankston’s “No. 20” (2005) and Frida Kahlo’s “Two Nudes in a Forest” (1939) face each other, each queering traditional imagery of the Garden of Eden. “No. 20” is rendered playfully like a coloring book, depicting two Black men reaching towards each other: one is perched in an apple tree and clothed in a full suit as the snake, while the other is standing, adorned in leaves and reminiscent of Eve. Kahlo’s “Two Nudes in a Forest” replaces Adam and Eve in paradise with two nude women set against a lush forest, one lounging in the lap of the other in a tender moment of intimacy. It is also worth noting that both of these paintings depict people of color, suggesting that

both Bankston and Kahlo have reclaimed a white, heterosexual, moralizing story about the folly of women to celebrate each artist’s inherent queerness. This reclamation is further emphasized by the wall text QUEERING, placed on a far wall but visible between the two works. These are just a few genius moments in “re: collections” and “POSE,” and there are many more to be explored. I encourage everyone, not just art history snobs like myself, to take the time to visit these exhibitions. Although the Rose is always full of smart curatorial decisions, these new collections stand out as especially thought-provoking and keep me coming back again and again. The Rose is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. All visitors need to reserve a ticket prior to their visit to maintain low capacity levels throughout the museum; admission is free. Find out more about “re: collections, Six Decades at the Rose Art Museum” and “Frida Kahlo: POSE” here.

photo by ashley young

‘Gunpowder Milkshake’: Appealing in Theory, Not in Practice

By Caroline O editor

Theoretically, the Netflix-released “Gunpowder Milkshake” (dir. Navot Papushado) is what the 21st century, #GirlPower audiences want in an action movie—a kickass cast of women, some solid action scenes, mixed with a splash of heart. With all that in mind, one would think, “how can this movie possibly go wrong?” Turns out, quite a lot! While this movie certainly has its fun moments, it was ultimately what I’d imagine a milkshake made out of gunpowder would taste like. Pretty interesting to think about, but is probably better off as a concept rather than an actual item for consumption. So let’s dig in, shall we? The story follows Sam (Karen Gillan) who works as an assassin under a group of no-good men who call themselves the Firm. In a bizarre twist of events, she finds herself protecting the adorable eight-and-three-quartersyear-old Emily (Chloe Coleman), whose father was brutally killed

after she was kidnapped. With the help of Sam’s estranged mother Scarlet (Lena Heady) and her aunts Madeleine (Carla Gugino), Florence (Michelle Yeoh) and Anna May (Angela Bassett), these ladies do everything in their power to keep Emily safe from the same men who assigned Sam to this operation in the first place. So, for the good parts: the characters themselves are fun, relying on just enough tropes to make a viewer like myself feel assured of where the story’s heading. Sam is very much the typical cold assassin type whose heart only softens when she starts protecting Emily, and Emily herself is a kid that you just can’t help but like. She’s precocious in the way all fictional eight-year-old kids are, but her genuine curiosity and admiration of the women around her adds the necessary heart to a mildly violent movie like this one. Her dynamic with Sam, as well as Scarlet and the aunts, are all touching, and so these characters make a believable family unit. I also enjoyed the visual aesthetics of this movie. Each shot is interesting to look at, and I couldn’t help but admire the set

designs, some of my favorite being the iconic diner where Sam starts off her journey as an assassin, the aunts’ library which is really just a lair and the classical rich villain office that overlooks the city. Each set adds a little more to the atmosphere of the movie, at least partially making up for parts where the script or the plot lacked, which leads us to reasons why this movie is a bit of a disappointment. Simply put, the movie’s pacing is all over the place. The beginning drags so much that I considered choosing something else to watch. Even the first few action scenes, which are meant to speed up a movie’s pace, feel awkward and slow. For example, as much as I love the idea of Karen Gillan hitting a bunch of goons with bowling balls, that whole starting sequence is stilted, and no amount of cool bowling alley lighting can hide that. Even the ultimate action scene towards the latter half of the movie—the one in the gorgeous library where Sam and her family duke it out with the villains—feels too long. Sure, I enjoyed seeing Michelle Yeoh’s character strangle a guy with a chain, and sure, I

enjoyed seeing Carla Gugino use a machine gun on a few minions, but after a while, the movements feel too rehearsed, and I was tempted to skip forward to see where the plot actually goes. Even the more emotional moments of this movie are disappointing. The most glaring example is the one in which Sam tells Emily just exactly how her father died. The buildup is practically nonexistent, and given that Scarlet and Sam were discussing how hard it would be to tell Emily about the nature of her father’s death just a single scene ago, the moment falls flat. There are other moments too, like the handful of times Sam asks Scarlet about a plan because Scarlet apparently always has a plan—but how would the audience know that? We have no real proof of that whatsoever, not even in a measly flashback to Sam’s past. There’s supposed to be tension in those scenes between Sam and Scarlet, but again, I felt nothing because I didn’t have much to go on. Or, while we’re at it, the scene where Sam learns of being betrayed by Nathan (Paul Giamatti), a faux guardian, for the first

time—the music swells, Sam’s voice gets all hoarse and angry, all signs point to “THIS IS AN EMOTIONAL SCENE,” except there’s no emotion present. I don’t think the audience is meant to feel necessarily sorry for Sam about the whole scheme of the betrayal—but one would think that we’re meant to at least feel angry for her, because being betrayed by even a faux guardian should sting at least a little. But the scene comes too fast, or maybe the scenes before don’t lead up to it well enough, because once more: there’s no buildup. Therein lies the problem with “Gunpowder Milkshake”: there are individual, interesting components to this movie that I would love to see explored in greater detail, and goodness knows that a 114-minute-long film should have the liberty to do so. However, what happens instead is that all the interesting things get a little lost in the blandness of the script, and I wish I’d ordered something else.

August 20, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

“Pig” is a revenge film done right

By Lucy Fay staff

“Pig” is not what you think it is. It is not a wacky gore film carried on the back of Nicholas Cage’s crazy, nor is it a member of the “John Wick” “Taken” genre of ultra-violent revenge fantasies. “Pig” is a solemn, sad, slow-paced film that carries a poignant message and takes you on an emotional journey you will think about long after seeing the movie. This film is best described as a hero’s journey that never should have happened. Our protagonist begins his journey as a bitter man who knows all he needs to know and ends his journey with a less bitter outlook, but ultimately no better of a life and no knowledge earned. Rob (Nicholas Cage) lives

a solitary life in the middle of the woods in Oregon, getting rations on a weekly basis from an obnoxious young restaurant supplier, Amir (Alex Wolff), in return for truffles that Rob’s pig finds. When Rob’s truffle pig is violently snatched in the middle of the night, Rob persuades Amir to join him in his quest to Portland to get his pig back. This film follows a very simple linear structure; it grows its characters, without too thoroughly fleshing them out, and tells its story efficiently. The whole movie takes place over no longer than a week and scenes may progress slowly, but never in excess. The many scenes of quiet conversation use such effective dialogue. So much information is exchanged and established in so few words and in a way that

the conversations constantly feel like they’re gaining momentum, or leading up to something, even when they hold long pauses. Everything said feels intentional and the few actors that grace this movie all perform their parts perfectly. “Pig” successfully walks the line of pacing between creating atmosphere and tension through long reticent scenes, and creating sluggish drudgery for the sake of being dubbed artful. What this film values more than anything else is conveying its messages, the most important of which is to not live your life for other people. Cage’s character spends his journey teaching. As he desperately combs the bowels of society in search of his beloved pig, Rob does not fight, he does not coerce, and he does not kill. He speaks truth to power and

reveals to the flawed people he encounters who they really are, through long conversation and empathetic words. While this phrase has been used to the point of being meaningless, this movie preaches what people need to hear right now. This could have been any other bitter cynical revenge thriller that ends with no one truly happy and so much pain caused by the ones who had pain inflicted upon them first. No revenge films end with the protagonist happy and satisfied, content that the death they caused made up for the crime committed against them in the first place. Bad people do not learn their lesson from being viciously beaten. “Pig” tells its audience a story of revenge that is won only through enlightenment and mutual respect. The cinematography of this film

is as simple as its plot but sets its atmosphere beautifully. Scenes are tonally established very subtly, with the ever present overcast sky providing a wide range of moods. The realism of the world this story takes place in is half of its power. When given the chance to be campy or overdramatic, “Pig” never gives in, keeping the same level of sincerity in conversations about the death of a loved one as in an underground fight club scene. “Pig” will not leave you in cheerful spirits but it will not leave you dissatisfied either. Positivity is a spectrum and this movie’s lack of a distinctly happy ending should not take away from the wonderful messages it promotes and the rather heartwarming journey that Rob and Amir go on.

Richard Brautigan’s “In Watermelon Sugar”

By Sarah Kim special to the hoot

The sun shimmers brilliant blue on Saturdays and watermelon sugar makes up everything from bridges to notebook paper in Richard Brautigan’s “In Watermelon Sugar.” The 1968 post-apocalyptic tale is 138 pages of enjoyable whimsy. It reads like a hallucinogenic journey: chaos that makes perfect sense. The surrealist narrative follows an unnamed speaker who grew up in iDEATH, a morally questionable utopia surrounded by the Forgotten Works junkyard, rubble of an obliterated past civilization. As readers, we wonder: Is this a future version of our world, or are we peering into an alternate universe? It’s endearing how Brautigan never quite explains the lore behind his dystopia. He allows the imagination to run wild, resulting in many possible interpretations of the book. The protagonist can remember when things were different, when

By Stewart Huang

anthropomorphic, arithmetic-adept tigers ruled the rural area he calls home. He numbly recounts the moment when his parents were devoured by a pair of tigers during his childhood. Intelligent and human-like, the striped creatures expressed startling empathy and intelligence before they were hunted to extinction. Were the gorgeous beasts so different from people, aside from their lush fur coats? The speaker muses about his decision to write this very book in a stream-of-consciousness account. It is the first novel written in years, following an Orwellian book burning in his commune that destroyed every written account of life before iDEATH. With simple, refreshing language in the first-person, Brautigan characterizes the speaker as a model citizen. He is rule-abiding and irritable, constantly agonizing about his ex-girlfriend Margaret’s ability to step on one loose, creaky plank of his bridge each day. Interestingly, it is Margaret who seeks freedom

from the stupor of the masses. Because she is written as a secondary character, it’s easy to scorn her failure to be complacent with the seemingly functional members of organized society. The narrator may be a keen observer of his odd surroundings, but he is heavily indoctrinated by his community’s values. This tints our perspective as readers. Aside from the intrigue surrounding the fictional world’s history, Brautigan’s creative structural choices contribute to the story’s unique allure. In an attempt to introduce himself, the speaker says, “Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer. That is my name. Perhaps it was raining very hard. That is my name.” Brautigan toys with our perception of language. The protagonist describes his name as an intangible concept—each line of prose is a stark declaration that earthly laws are inapplicable in iDE-

ATH, where a feeling itself can be snatched out of the air and pinned to the dewy grass. During the rising action of “In Watermelon Sugar,” inBOIL, the exiled antagonist, and his crew of rebels who live in the Forgotten Works, plan to expose iDEATH for its hypocrisy. The narrator is disgusted to find Margaret collecting strange old objects from the Forgotten Works and sympathizing with the barbaric rebels. The novel concludes with the execution of inBOIL’s plot at the trout hatchery, a violent but anticlimactic end, like the crest of a wave that slaps the shore with wild indifference. There is a magical quality about such an abstract piece of writing. A product of the postmodern Beat Generation, Richard Brautigan leaves us with a lingering sense of awe, and more questions than answers. But despite the talking tigers, unnerving vegetable sculptures scattered throughout the commune, and sentient trout in the river observing iDE-

ATH’s glass-encased dead in their underwater tombs, “In Watermelon Sugar” is a critique of how we live our lives in the modern world. The characters’ relationships are the centerpiece of the story, which grounds the outlandish tale in the universal human experience. The novel confronts love, fear of the unknown and the complex nature of community. Characteristic of other dystopian books, it appears to criticize social systems that repress individuality, but its message is ambiguous. The tension that draws Margaret away from conventional life can be seen as either heroic or naive, given the quiet return to normalcy in iDEATH during the final chapter. Brautigan addresses the conflict between individuality and group behavior beneath a veneer of science fiction imagery. When his wild fantasy is stripped of adornments, I think it’s possible that our own world is far stranger.

It Takes Two is the best co-op adventure (where I got to be a sweaty tryhard)


“It Takes Two” is a two-player, third-person action adventure where you and your partner play as Cody and May, a divorcing couple who suddenly find themselves as miniature wooden dolls, now held hostage by a talking relationship self-help book. He forces you to work together in a variety of co-op challenges and puzzles that are creatively constructed from familiar places and items until you can sort out your differences and rediscover love for each other or whatever. Aside from the supernatural elements, the plot is a pretty cliche excuse for the game to get going, but boy is the gameplay so good. The game offers a shocking amount of gameplay gimmicks so that it always feels fresh and exciting to play. Oftentimes you will acquire a unique ability different from your partner—rewinding time, size manipulation, teleportation—or some new equipment—anti-gravity boots, a cannon to spit out tree sap and

a matchstick gun to ignite said tree sap—to solve puzzles. Other times, you will be handling some form of transportation like a mini airplane, mini ship, hopping frogs and even fidget spinners that fly. The inclusion of all these gameplay elements means that the puzzles and challenges are constantly evolving, requiring you to have a new frame of mind on how to play the game, so it never feels stale. Somehow, I didn’t find a single mechanic to be boring—all of them are fun! The developers at Hazelight Studios deserve some recognition. A highlight for me is where you get to become either a knight or mage in a medieval-looking castle, where you can hack and slash through waves of enemies, using cool attacks and spells, in a glorious top-down view. It reminded me so much of my days playing the action RPG “Diablo 3” with a friend. Accompanying the different mechanics are a huge variety of landscapes, awe-inspiring sceneries and absolutely adorable characters. There’s a weird space compound controlled by “Moon Baboon”, your daughter’s plush

toy with an Aussie accent, the infested garden that you’ve neglected for years where two frogs run a taxi business, an elaborate castle that is actually your daughter’s closet, a skiing resort that is really a snow globe inside your living room and an underground compound populated by a group of militaristic squirrels, just to name a few. There’s something inexplicably lovely and enjoyable about re-experiencing places as whole new worlds where everything is way bigger than you. There’s already so much content in “It Takes Two,” but there’s more. It caters to my petty competitive nature by including a staggering 25 player vs. player (PVP) mini-games, and I got to absolutely crush my girlfriend’s hopes and dreams in almost all of them. Some games are party games that are easy to get into: tapping a button faster than your opponent, or avoiding obstacles. Others are races that require you to master different movement techniques that you’ve learned so far and combine them seamlessly to achieve maximum speed. I loved these games (and my girlfriend got so mad since she could

never beat me) because they have a lot of room for skill expression, which is what makes competitive games rewarding to play. But I also loved them because they showcase just how fun, well-designed these mechanics are. The inputs are responsive, the animations are fluid and the combinations are satisfying to execute that the game plays almost like an Esports-worthy, hardcore action title. Even in the co-op parts of the game, simply using these controls and outrunning my girlfriend at every turn felt incredible. I’m usually not a huge fan of coop games because they generally have limited mechanics and get

boring after a while, and because I simply prefer to compete against others instead. But “It Takes Two” threw my expectations out of the window by offering an almost absurd amount of well-crafted gameplay features—seriously, there must be like 30 plus mechanics the developers made— that makes you want to keep playing to find out what’s around the corner and satisfies your insatiable lust for victory. I think this game is probably the best co-op game I’ve played. And you know what? Your partner can play with you for free if you already bought the game.

photo from


The Brandeis Hoot

August 20, 2021

Acceptance, aspiration and the dream-like fantasy of ‘The Green Knight’

By Sam Finbury staff

Of all the sweeping epics of Arthurian legend, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” has always stood tall among the crowd for how small and off-puttingly personal it is. While other knights set out to search for holy relics or slay dragons, Gawain’s adventure is one of self-discovery, our hero fighting to find what he himself is made of. Over the course of his travels, Sir Gawain stumbles and fumbles his way through several strange episodes that are just as confusing to him as they are to the reader, resulting in a fairy tale that is weird even by the lofty standards of medieval fantasy. As such, many scholars, including J.R.R. Tolkien himself, have cut their teeth trying to interpret it. Now it’s famed writer-director David Lowery’s turn to try to land a hit on this enigmatic myth, and as with his previous film “A Ghost Story,” Lowery proves himself the master of somber surrealism. “The Green Knight” gets water from the textual stone and embraces the legend’s place as a personal journey rather than a grandiose quest, crafting a dream-like fantasy about the universal desire for self-discovery and the simple victories of acceptance. In the first shot of the film, a dashing prince and a fair maiden, named Paris (Joe Anderson)

and Helen (Anaïs Rizzo) by the credits, abscond through a back alley as a manor burns in the distance. This harkens back to the tragedy of the Iliad where the pair doom themselves and their homelands in the pursuit of the greater fates laid out for them by the gods. This destructive desire for destiny is exactly what afflicts our hero, the eager and unproven Sir Gawain, played with career-defining humanity by Dev Patel. Sir Gawain is the nephew of King Arthur (Sean Harris) who is shamed by his lack of any heroic stories to tell. One day the mysterious Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) barges into Camelot and dares any worthy warrior to land a blow on him, on the condition that in a year’s time that man lets the Knight return the favor. Seeing his opportunity, Gawain takes up the challenge and angling for maximum flair, decapitates the Knight, only for his opponent to pick up his head and ride off. At the urging of Arthur and the rest of the court, Gawain is pressured to leave his home and seek out the Green Knight, proving his bravery and integrity to all by fighting or getting killed by him. Armed with protective charms and his uncle’s aspirations, Gawain sets off, the Green Knight’s ax on his back like a cross he chose, to bring the blade to his executioner. Along the way, Gawain meets with thieves, saints, foxes, giants, strange lords and stranger ladies on a quest to find himself. But,

through the language of religious Apocrypha and mythic symbolism, Lowery makes clear that the hero he seeks in himself is one that doesn’t exist, placed there by the expectations of his family. Gawain is forced to face life alone but he paints a story over it with the colors of others. He chooses to forge a meaning for his life rather than discover one, and in the pursuit of one superior version of ourselves, we may give away all that made us us, and lose our heads. As Gawain’s lover, the prostitute Essel (Alicia Vikander) pointedly asks, “why must he be great if he is already good?” Appropriately, Essel is the only character who expects nothing from Gawain and yet expectations of the court mean he can never have a life with her. Lowery’s “The Green Knight” serves as a brilliant parable about how, in a world of oppressive influences, the most terrific and humble victory there is is simply accepting ourselves, in our goodness, rather than losing ourselves in the forcing of greatness. But of what worth is a great story if it is told poorly? Fortunately for us, David Lowery is anything but a shabby storyteller. Capturing the fable-logic of the original text, “The Green Knight’’ crafts an ethereal and oppressive dreamscape, as if the story were hewn from the very fabric of myth. Every shot of this film is resonant, from the yellow mists of an alltoo-silent forest to the long takes of Gawain riding through the raw

and empty wastelands outside his home. The timeless world Lowery builds feels barren in its minimalism and alive in its specific details. And to this film’s infinite credit, “The Green Knight” is more than willing to plunge its tale into jarring sequences of pure symbolism, with Gawain diving to the bottom of an impossibly deep lake of technicolor stars or having parts of his body rot to bone and leather before returning seamlessly to normal. The performances add to this film’s mysticism on every front, all delivered with an understated gravity as if every character knows a secret the protagonist doesn’t. Especially of note is Ineson’s performance as the titular Green Knight, who he plays not as malicious, but with a heavy sense of blunt stoicism and nigh hospitable tired familiarity, as if he is a force of the universe. Needless to

say, while Ineson’s appearance in the film is sparing, his presence is deeply felt throughout. Even the soundtrack is commendable, growling with a tense menace of a scare we are never sure is coming. Lowery made a cathedral in “The Green Knight,” with every striking scene, beautiful shot, confounding character and whispered line building towards his greater message. The film is just as much a joy to decode and think about as it is to actually watch. “The Green Knight” is a riddle that invites the viewer to get lost in its striking imagery and strange details and surreality, and find the meaning in the quest alongside Gawain. With its tapestry-like vistas, its deliciously enigmatic symbolism and deeply personal ruminations, “The Green Knight ‘’ brings the original fantasy to striking life, in all its hallucinogenic magic.

photo from

‘Space Jam: A New Legacy:’ Despite the name, it fell short of the original’s legacy By Cyrenity Augustin special to the hoot

With the release of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” I decided that instead of going in blind, I would watch “Space Jam” as a reference point. And watching that movie gave me a perspective of the remake that I wasn’t quite expecting. For those who have not seen “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” the plot follows LeBron James (who plays himself) and his son Dom (Cedric Joe) who are struggling to communicate as father and son. While Dom is interested in coding and video games, LeBron wants him to focus on basketball. Amid the tension brewing between the two, the main antagonist, Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle), an algorithm working for Warner Bros, is trying to gain recognition for his work through partnering with Lebron James. Upon being rejected, however, he decides to take a hold of his fame his own way, using Lebron James and his son to do so. To be specific, he pulls them into the “Serververse,” separates the two, and then challenges LeBron to a basketball game in front of all of his fans. If LeBron’s team wins, he and his son get to go home, but if Al G. wins, LeBron, Dom and all the human spectators pulled into the “Serververse” have to remain there. And for extra incentive, the Looney Tunes, who make up LeBron’s team, will be erased from existence. So it is up to LeBron James and the Looney Tunes squad to save both themselves and the spectators of their showdown against the Goon Squad,

the opposing team led by none other than Dom James. My main problem with this film stems from the preachiness around LeBron and Dom’s relationship. For example, in Dom’s introduction to the movie, he is playing around with his older brother Darius (Ceyair J Wright), making a shot with the basketball. He misses, not really committing to the mini match, and when LeBron sees it he is not happy. LeBron proceeds to give him a full and unwarranted lecture about how he has to put in the work when on the court in preparation for basketball camp—which honestly felt like a slap in the face. We went from a carefree, happy bonding moment to a harsh and sudden lecture. It is awkward to say the least, and Dom’s feelings about both the camp and his father’s treatment are clear—he is frustrated and hurt. This treatment later extends to the Looney Tunes, whose unconventional way of playing basketball just does not seem to cut it for LeBron. On top of that, we have a heavy layer of modern sci-fi, with our algorithm antagonist craving recognition for all of the hard work put in for the service of humanity. The problem with this part isn’t really preachiness, but rather that it feels overdone. The “dangers of technology” is something that is making its way into a lot of media, and so it was tiring to see it again in what was supposed to be a fun-centered film. The remake falls short of the original. It seemed as if the creators were more so focused on modernizing the plot for the remake, adding more drama, tension and the cliched “beautiful

message” at the end. The “looney” nature of the first film that made it so compelling was pushed aside in favor of developing these new additions. Furthermore, by trying to modernize the plot with the introduction of Al G., it causes a bit of confusion in the world-building aspect of the film. If the Looney Tunes world was underground in the first film, how exactly did it transfer over to the “Serververse”? Also, by taking out the “space” aspect of the film, is “Space Jam” really a fitting name? With such a drastic change in the nature of the film, it seems as if the remake was not trying to continue the story, so much as using it as inspiration. The connections between “Space Jam” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy”—basketball and the Looney Tunes characters—just was not enough for me to pass the two films off as equals. There were parts of the mov-

ie that I thoroughly enjoyed. For one, being able to see the different Looney Tunes characters in various Warner Bros worlds was interesting, since I was familiar with the different franchises. On top of that, the introduction of “Dom Ball,” Dom’s video game, provided a fun twist to the basketball game, with the Goon Squad’s special abilities, the incorporation of power ups (specifically a super jump ability) and various style points (special moves that when used can give a team bonus points) bringing it to another level. There is even a rap scene with Porky Pig (Eric Bauza). Plus, the references from the first movie (the “Hoop There It Is” sign referencing the song from the first film, the reappearance of the “Monstars” and the “return” of Michael Jordan) were very much appreciated. I would have to say that the Michael Jordan refer-

ence was my favorite reference by far. My favorite part of the movie would probably be right after halftime, when the Looney Tunes re-enter the court in true “Tune” fashion, breaking through a banner constructed by five different Daffy Ducks. At this moment, the movie finally started to feel reminiscent of a “Space Jam” film, with out of the box basketball tactics following suit. At the end of the day, I think the movie is a way to pass time, but I would not go in with high expectations. If one wants to watch “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” then they should start from the point where Bugs agrees to help LeBron form a basketball team. That way viewers get to take in all of the fun of the Looney Tunes characters and the basketball game, without too much of the father-son tension to bring the mood down.

photo from

August 20, 2021


The Brandeis Hoot

‘One Last Stop’ is a magical dreamscape of first love By Emma Lichtenstein editor

With “One Last Stop,” Casey McQuiston officially earns the title of my favorite author. I’m a well known “Red, White & Royal Blue” fanatic, so I was equally excited and anxious about McQuiston’s new novel. On one hand, I was thrilled to read something new by them, but on the other, I couldn’t help but worry that my love of “Red, White & Royal Blue” would completely overshadow “One Last Stop.” Any fears were easily squashed and my excitement proved to not be enough, as McQuiston once again blew me away. “One Last Stop” stars August Landry, a New Orleans native breaking free from her mother and searching for some roots to tie her to someplace new. She

doesn’t expect to find a home in a Craigslist ad, but stranger things have happened in New York City. Her roomates—Myla, Niko and Wes—are an eclectic trio: Myla, the artist searching for meaning in her art; Niko, the “Long Island Medium” who knows more than August would like; and Wes, the classic sad art boy with an absolutely adorable dog named Noodles. Add Isaiah, the drag queen next door with a heart of gold and a tendency to blast music, and the apartment building is never dull. Sorry to bury the lede, but the most exciting new character is Jane Su, the girl on the subway. McQuiston once again writes a swoon-worthy romance. Jane is displaced from time, stuck eternally on a subway after the blackout of 1977. She’s not sure how she’s stuck here; she’s not sure how to break free; she’s not even sure of who she is. Jane is lost physi-

cally, mentally, linearly—she only knows her name because it’s printed on her jacket. Being around August brings back memories of others but never memories of herself. And yet, with a single kiss to August’s lips, Jane is found. Her most important memories finally come to light. It’s quite literally one of the most romantic concepts I’ve ever encountered. This romance is the biggest willthey/won’t-they that I have ever tortured myself with. To the exasperation of both August’s roommates and myself, it takes forever for the two girls to get together. Every time August takes the subway, you think, “Yes, this is it!”, but actually, it’s not. The angsty pining makes their first official date that much sweeter, though, knowing the amount of agonizing that led up to that perfect moment. As August falls in love, everything else around her falls apart.

Her mother is still obsessed with finding her brother, August’s mysterious uncle, who has been missing for about 50 years. August is faced with the reality of actually graduating college and having no idea what she wants to do with her life. Pancake Billy’s House of Pancakes, the magical little diner she works at, is on the brink of shutting down thanks to raised rent. Wes is in love with a boy who loves him back but won’t stop complaining about it. Though these may all seem like very different struggles, McQusiton flawlessly intertwines them, making each element crucial to shaping the plot and August’s growth as a character. It all culminates in a magnificent party in a subway control center. This party is packed with gallons of pancake batter, an excess of drag queens, drunk dancers, cringey ex-boyfriends, first

kisses, marriage proposals, a heist and a risky plan that just might work. Needless to say, I wish I had an invite. No, I wish I had more than an invite: I’m pretty sure I would sell my soul to be a character in one of McQuiston’s novels. Every character that they write is outrageously lovable, and every plot they’ve crafted is perfectly executed—there is not a single detail out of place and not a single question left unanswered. “One Last Stop” is a magical dreamscape of first love, time travel and finding family in unexpected places. Unsurprisingly, I finished this 400+ page novel in less than a day, and I imagine you will too. The plot is convoluted yet easy to follow and incredibly captivating. The characters are all amazing. And, of course, the romance might just make even the biggest of cynics believe in love.

The Bad Batch: a bridge between series

By Joshua Lannon staff

Disney’s “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” offers a lot to Star Wars fans, especially those who loved “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” TV shows. However, its greatest strength is also its greatest flaw because the show relies on fans’ previous knowledge of the Star Wars universe a bit too much, and the many cameos from characters that appear in other Star Wars shows may put off new Star Wars fans. That being said, the show still has quite a lot to offer even if you are not a Star Wars expert. At the time of writing, the show has premiered 14 of its 16 episodes that follow the adventures of the titular Bad Batch formerly known as Clone Force 99, a group of defective clones with desirable genetic defects. The Bad Batch consists of Hunter, with enhanced senses; Crosshair, with enhanced accuracy; Wrecker, with enhanced strength; Tech, with advanced cognitive functions; Echo the cyborg and newcomer Omega. Their advantageous genetic defects allow them to overcome their programming and the dreaded Order 66 that turned the Clones against the Jedi. The show starts at the end of the Clone Wars chronologically, but

also symbolically. The Bad Batch is very much a spiritual successor to “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” shows. In fact, most of the main cast has previously appeared in the former series. The connection between this show and the others is clear both visually and thematically. While the animation of the Bad Batch has clearly come a long way from the early Clone Wars seasons that premiered in 2008, it still looks similar enough to connect the two shows visually. Another connection between the shows is Dave Filoni who not only created The Bad Batch, but has previously worked on both “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” TV shows. Filoni’s mark is most evident with the show’s many cameos from characters that originate from his two previous series like Captain Rex, Hera Syndulla and Cad Bane, just to name a few. The many cameos highlight the issue with the show’s reliance on its audience’s knowledge of the Star Wars Universe. While a longtime fan like me would recognize Caleb Dume, anyone else watching the first episode of the Bad Batch might not recognize who this character is or his importance in “Rebels.” Despite this minor flaw, Bad Batch actually offers quite a lot to both hardcore and newer fans. For example, unlike the morally

black and white Dark Side versus Light Side dynamic featured in most Star Wars movies, the Bad Batch is full of moral quandaries that show the galaxy as more morally grey. After fleeing their homeworld of Kamino, the Batch become mercenaries in order to survive. Each episode tends to focus on a single mission but also highlights the aftermath of the Clone Wars and the many changes the people of the galaxy face with the new empire. A few of the Batch’s planet-hopping escapades bring them to worlds that present hard choices, forcing the characters to reevaluate their priorities and values. One example is the planet Raxus, the former capital of the Separatists, where the Bad Batch are sent to save a former Seperatist senator, someone who fans will remember was on the opposing side that fought against the Republic in the Clone Wars. Unlike “The Clone Wars” TV show, which portrays the Separatists primarily as villains, this episode portrays the citizens of the now former Seperatist Alliance in a more favorable light. Raxus Senator Avi Singh seems to genuinely care about his people, something that the new empire clearly does not. Another ongoing plot point involves Crosshair, the only member of the Batch who followed order 66, as he commits

increasingly grievous acts out of blind loyalty to the Empire. His ongoing feud with his brothers leaves a rift between the clones. The show’s greatest strength is its characters, most of which are portrayed by Dee Bradley Baker, who somehow voices all of the clones each with their own mannerisms and vocal tones in a way that distinguishes each of them as individuals. However, the group’s dynamic with Omega, voiced by Michelle Ang, is the clear highlight of the series. While dealing with morally grey situations that call for tough decisions, Omega serves as the heart of the group and keeps the Bad Batch honest and honorable. The show does require some

knowledge of the greater “Star Wars” universe to truly appreciate, as it is clearly a show meant for “Star Wars” fans. The excellent animation and action pairs well with a complex and morally grey narrative. You may need to watch a few other series before you can fully appreciate the Bad Batch, but the good news is that all the shows you need to watch are conveniently also on Disney+. Clever marketing aside, “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” is an excellent show with a lot of depth and potential for anyone who grew up watching “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” TV shows. It may not be universally accessible, but it’s still an excellent addition to the “Star Wars” universe.

photo from

‘Campus Life’ comic

comic by david shapiro/the hoot


Meet our faculty, fellows, and staff to learn more about what we do. Chat with professors, ask questions, and find out what is going on in the Middle East today. Hosted in-person, under a tent on the lawn behind Lemberg Hall (between Usdan and Skyline). Refreshments will be served.

Crown Center for Middle East Studies

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.