Celebrating The Precious Human Tapestry
Vo l u m e I I I , N u m b e r V I I I
October 24, 2008
Say Aloha to Aloha BY ANDREW LITWIN Special to Diverse City
If you would like to know what Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls is about, you’re reading the wrong review. Trying to stick to the obscure plot line of the play is not only a dizzying endeavor, it is also completely unnecessary. Rather than focusing on plot, Aloha, written by Naomi Iizuka and performed by the Free Play Theatre Cooperative, is a play centered on characters, all of whom struggle with life. The first scene takes place in New York City, a very fitting setting to describe the struggles and, for lack of a better word, insanity we see develop among the characters. In a brilliant directorial decision, the audience is truly made to feel the menacing nature of the city when during each scene transition the offstage actors screech and howl in a frightening jungle imitation that, as a native Manhattanite, made me feel right at home. Over the course of the act, all but one character finds a way to leave the pressures of the city and make it to Hawaii (though one character somehow ends up in Alaska). The characters still find themselves struggling with the same unsettling issues that plagued them in the city. The way the characters deal with these issues makes this play a joy to behold and the phenomenal acting makes these issues compelling. Each member in the 11-person cast really lent weight to the success of this show, though some a little more than others. There was not a single actor out of his or her element and each had moments where the actor and character really clicked. However, as the play progressed, a pattern began to develop that experienced actors (for the most part) really made a difference. Often, it seemed that the characters played by students new to the Brandeis stage were either under or over acted in ways that would turn the audience loose from the spell we were caught in for most of the performance. This does not let upperclassmen off the hook though, and there were moments where even they lost their grip on their parts. On the whole, though, the acting was truly magnificent. Three performances that really excelled were those of Eric Engelstein ‘10, Laura Lorand ’09, and Michelle Miller ’11. Engelstein plays Derek, the panicked author with an identity crisis plagued with guilt for not living a fulfilling life and for losing his
roommate’s dog. Engelstein really made us believe each and every freak out he had and even managed to add subtle differences from his ‘episodes’ in New York to those in Hawaii— not an easy task to be sure. Lorand plays Myrna, the savior, always appearing at the moment of deepest despair with some sort of advice or gift that doesn’t quite seem to fit the situation and yet somehow makes everything all better. She seems to represent that teacher/ parental figure we all wish we could keep with us all our lives, always ready with a cookie and a smile to kiss the boo-boos and make the bad things go away – and Lorand is all that and more. Finally, Miller plays Vivian, the closest thing this play gets to a main character. Miller does a fantastic job giving us Vivian, a character in search of pretty much anything, desperate to belong and to be accepted, while at the same time refusing to give in. It is Vivian who resists the flow and ends up in Alaska and makes a home in the ice and snow. Miller does an expert job of showing us Vivian’s determination yet at the same time her desperate need to have the approval and presence of other people. All in all, this play’s success was an ensemble effort. Have you ever been tricked by someone pointing to “something” on your shirt and poking you in the face when you look down? Yes? Well in essence this is Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls. You’re watching the witty dialogue and character play until suddenly, BAM, you’re hit with a metaphor for life, love, death, time, loneliness, or any other hard hitting topic we usually try to avoid. This is the true glory of Aloha. It makes you think without realizing you’re doing it or making you uncomfortable. We watch the characters struggle with their lives, just as we struggle with ours, with just the right amount of pain and laughter that we accept it, embrace it and if we let ourselves, grow from it. At the very end of the play, Derek takes a guess at what two figures in a snow globe could be saying. He thinks they are saying, “Help! I’m trapped! Let me out of here!” which really, if you think about it, is what every other character in the play is saying the whole time. If you are looking for an experience to laugh, learn, and confuse the hell out of you, say aloha to Aloha. Oh, and then there’s the dog. If you figure that one out, please let me know. Well-played Mr. Warsoff. Well played indeed.
PHOTOS BY Max Shay/The Hoot
ALOHA TAKES THE STAGE: Pictured, beginning at the top (left to right) are actors Laura Lorand and Eric Engelstein, Eric Engelstein, Michelle Miller, Jordan Warsoff and Tony Rios, and Dan Katz.
IN THIS EDITION:
Watching Daly: Daily at 1:36 a.m. Voices, page 9
English is not American Chorus, page 10
DID YOU KNOW? Guns N’ Roses will release its first album of new material in more than 17 years on November 23.
October 24, 2008
VOICES Observations on the man with an oddly shaped head: How Carson Daly represents our generation
MATT FOWLER Staff
I am not a fan of Carson Daly. However, that sentence alone would suggest that I dislike the guy, which is in fact not entirely the truth. In my television viewing lifetime, I have realized only a few things about Daly and the celebrity life surrounding him. Firstly, he has an oddly shaped head. Secondly, he has in the past (I’m not up to date on his love life as of now) dated people he had no right talking to (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and people no one should ever have to talk to (Tara Reid). His late night show is later than most late night shows and remarkably less funny than them as well (“Last Call with Carson Daly” also begins at the curious time of 1:36 a.m.—I know this may not seem perplexing, but it is to me). Daly is not the most memorable television personality. In fact, when I watch him on television I’m reminded of a less cool Dick Clark (and Dick Clark is not exactly cool). That being said, the real truth of the matter is I have no opinion, good or bad, on Carson Daly. Thus, the incongruity is not lost on me when I offer the idea that Carson Daly for the last ten years has been the defining voice in popular music as we know it today. Ten years is a long time. Ten years is an even longer time to be the important voice in music for someone who rarely comes up in casual conversation. But, not everyone was the host of a generation defining television show. Carson Daly (and his oddly shaped head) appeared every day (Monday through Friday) for an hour on the hit making television show Total Request Live (or TRL as it is often referred to by those strapped for time). Daly was the first VJ on the MTV show and continued his duties of reading cue cards and quieting down screaming fans until 2002. TRL was the voice of the not-so-silent teens who looked to express what they thought was the best music video of the day. Like most important things however, it was more than that. Whether the throngs of screaming teens who waited
outside of the MTV’s Time Square studio (sometimes in scary numbers) knew it or not, they were becoming a part of pop culture history. I must confess I was not one of those kids who ran home from the bus stop to catch the show. I don’t think I know anyone who really was. It is also true I don’t remember talking to my friends about TRL the next day in school. The show was never a must-see television event for me. Instead, it was more of a routine. After walking home from my bus stop, I’d leisurely procure a snack, sit down, and watch as Carson Daly played the music that would become the soundtrack of my childhood. Every tween and teen’s musical taste was influenced by the show (whether they liked to admit it or not). Looking back on it now, I could say that my musical taste has truly evolved. But, that would be a lie. I still listen to Eminem, I still listen to Justin Timberlake, and even on occasion (and when I say "on occasion," I mean anytime, no one is around) I listen to a Backstreet Boys song. Still to this day (and I haven’t watched the show since 2002) TRL has weaved its way into my musical psyche as well as the musical psyche of my generation. TRL’s loudest cheers always came when a surprise guest or musical act was introduced. When I was younger I never questioned this. The star appears you scream until your lungs give way. Although I never did it, I also didn’t analyze the idea of standing outside in the freezing cold to see a mere glimpse of a favorite band. It just seemed right. Thus, as the show's end draws closer (November 16), I have come to realize something I probably always knew in the back of mind. It wasn’t the surprises or even the videos that made TRL such an iconic hour of television programming. It was the things that took place every episode that made it a sight to behold. It was the crowd overflowing into the New York City streets. It was the teenagers waving signs outside the studio. It was the routine. It was a host with his perfect oddly shaped head. It was a portrait of a generation. It was our generation-- like it or not.
It’s better to burn out than to fade away: Lessons learned from a failed student revolution
BY MAXWELL PRICE Editor
We all go through phases in college. For some of us, they take the form of über collegiate athletics like ultimate frisbee or lacrosse. For others, they come as later regretted fashion choices such as the dreadlocks that your Jamaican friend swore would give you Rasta street cred or the male skirt that seemed so groovy at that hippie music festival. Yet there are some students whose phases come to consume their entire lives. I am such a student. My phase was a revolution. For those of you remain devoted readers of The Hoot, you might remember our special 20 page issue a month ago (September 26) in which we printed a special section
devoted to an organization called Pissed off Youth of America (P.O.Y.A.). I founded that group earlier this year in an effort to bring civil disobedience and peaceful protest back in style. Unfortunately, an unforeseen medical condition forced me to give up the organization and stay home for the semester. (I’m writing this article from that Park Slope apartment that served as a core symbol of privilege in one of my treatises on American society). This time at home has given me a sense of perspective and a healthy dose of hindsight, allowing me to understand past mistakes more clearly. So I will humbly enumerate some of the insights I’ve gained over the past few weeks. I hope that listing some of the pitfalls I encountered in my project will help other Brandeis activists plan their own projects. The first realization I had about the error of my ways came when one of my friends departed from me with the phrase, “Enjoy your re volut i on .” Not only did the possessive pronoun indicate that she did not feel GRAPHIC BY Alex Doucette/The Hoot invested in
my ostensibly personal project, the expression threw into sharp relief the whole idea of a revolution. I soon discovered that I’d done the organization a disservice by trying to contextualize it as part of a revolution. A revolution connotes radical overthrow of a regime or break with the past. My writings seemed to espouse a more modest plan of working within the framework of established society to bring about gradual change. Calling it a “revolution” made the idea seem grandiose and unrealistic. To paraphrase John Goodman’s character in The Big Lebowski, “Dude, revolution is not the preferred nomenclature.” When I finally began owning up to the mistakes I’d made, it was not hard to see that the original mission had become clouded with egotism and self-importance. Interestingly, I’ve railed against those two qualities on many occasions when they manifest themselves in pop music. I recall one occasion in which it seemed like a great idea to turn what was supposed to be a rally about the economy into a personal twenty-minute piece of performance art. Thought-provoking? Maybe. Selfindulgent? Definitely. But I only realized my own foolishness when I thought less in terms of a social movement and more in terms of, say, the third Coldplay album. Idealists often have a difficult time curbing their ambitions to conform to the normal rhythms of everyday life. I faced a big reality check when only three other people showed up at the first P.O.Y.A. event, which I initially took as a discredit to our entire generation. Of
course, the showing was more of a testament to my limited PR skills than to any failure of my peers. I had only done online advertising on Facebook in addition to a few easily overlooked signs on campus. I should have laughed at myself and gotten a taste of humility, but my narrow thinking kept me from seeing the reality of the situation. Most importantly, the organization had the wrong emotional underpinnings. It was called “Pissed Off Youth of America,” but I understand now that any real revolution will not take place through anger. Nor will the real revolution take place in mass protests. I believe that the true revolution will take place within individual human beings. The revolution will take place when a consumer realizes that he or she makes an enormous impact on the community, country, and world simply through his or her lifestyle choices. The revolution will take place when the taxpayer learns that unless he or she is taking active steps to oppose government tyranny, he or she is culpable for the country’s immoral actions as much as elected officials. The revolution will take place when parents see the love they bestow upon their children mirrored in those children’s lives instead of the kinds of justified hatred and prejudice that have persisted for too long. When the true revolution comes, it will have a name that will weave itself seamlessly into the fabric of Brandeis University’s traditions and ideals: the movement of Optimistic Youth—OY!
October 24, 2008
“The Tuesday Stack”
BY MAIA GALLAGHER-SIUDZINSKI Staff
It occurred to me, as I straightened the stack of Tuesday newspapers, that Tuesdays are boring days. They lack the hardship of Mondays, the ‘over the hump’ feeling of Wednesdays, the anticipation of Thursdays, the eagerness of Fridays, the thrill of Saturdays, and the ease of Sundays. Yes, Tuesdays are boring days. It seemed that the more I straightened the stack the more precarious it became. All piled up on the orange shag rug, the stack leaned over to one side like a tired looking tree. I briefly considered removing a few editions to recycle, but I knew that Albert would be in such a tiff if he found out that any of his Tuesday editions were missing. Albert was very particular about his stacks of newspaper. So I moved on to the next pile, which teetered next to the plastic covered couch. The plastic-covered couch, what a despicable invention. The cushions were still decaying beneath their pristine covers. It always made me a little sad to look at. I had never seen anyone sit on that couch ADVERTISEMENT
and could not imagine why anyone would want to. Despite all the effort that had gone into preserving it, the fabric couldn’t help aging. Behind me I heard Albert shuffling down the hall. He was headed for his old mustard colored chair. Unlike the couch, there had been no effort to preserve this dilapidated excuse for furniture. Its corduroy cover was more holes and stuffing than corduroy, but it did look comfortable. The chair, like Albert, smelt of stale pipe tobacco. Although, strangely, I never once saw him smoke. The seam, which clung stubbornly to the crumbling fabric, must have been trapped there from before I had come to work in the tiny apartment. The story of how I ended up there is a rather boring tale, which started on a rather boring Tuesday. There was a small ad in the classified section of the paper that morning, requesting someone to help care for an elderly couple. I called the phone number and less than five minutes later I had been offered $15 an hour. Everyday I tidied up the apartment, fixed meals, administered a few pills and stayed out of the spare room at the end of the hall. “It’s off limits.” Those
were my only instructions and I was happy to oblige. (The hall smelled ranker than Albert’s chair, so any excuse to avoid it was welcome.) The demands were simple, the pay was good, and Albert’s crotchety disposition was made bearable by his lovely wife Eleanor. I never understood how she ended up with him. I could tell from the smudged photographs that hung on the walls that she had once been a very beautiful woman. “Bone structure like Ingrid Bergman, that’s what I was told once. Bone structure like Ingrid Bergman…” Her once bright green eyes, now foggy from cataracts, glistened ever so slightly when she recalled that tiny compliment. “It’s funny how the smallest comment can stay with you through all these long years…” Before her eyesight had deteriorated and before her hands had started to rattle she had been a painter. A true Artist. I came across some of her paintings one day while cleaning. She painted portraits, reveling, haunting portraits of young women. There must have been a dozen or so of them. Each face smiled up from with in an ornate frame, but there was pain
and longing in their eyes, as if they were trapped inside their frames longing to break free and experience life beyond the canvas. Staring in to their imprisoned eyes I understood their plight. I too dreamt of breaking free, free of Albert’s judgmental stare and this boring dead-end job. But I needed the money, so each morning I climbed the stairs to their third story walk up and faced another day with the newspapers and plastic-covered couch. I could sense that Eleanor too was trapped, trapped between yellowing walls and easels she could no longer use. Her prison cell had been locked nearly 50 years ago when she married Albert. “I was old for a bride, nearly thirty. But it was a beautiful day, the day Albert and I got married, a beautiful June day.” That was the only time she had ever spoken directly about Albert. Usually she avoided having to use his name. “The paper. And my tea!” Albert barked at me once he had finally settled into his chair. I was used to his abrupt manner and now it was just part of our routine, like some timeless play we performed every See FICTION p. 11
Comparing English and American BY SYDNEY REUBEN Editor
Besides its obvious ties to England, American English is most definitely not the same language as the English spoken in the United Kingdom. I’ve heard that before, but it wasn’t until I came here that I realized that it’s totally true. For any of you who plan on going abroad to England, you will most certainly find that the English use completely different words for many of the mundane items that we use everyday. Take burners for example. In the UK, burners are referred to as “hobs.” When I said the word “burner,” my flatmates stared at me in utter confusion. Other unfortunate differences center on the names given to clothing. They would never call pants by that name; they’re “trousers” here. In fact, “pants” is often used to refer to underwear. Also, for anyone who’s a fencer, “knickers” (the pants a fencer wears) are referred to as “breeches,” because “knickers” is another synonym for underwear here. The distinction between types of cookies here was another language difference that killed me. Chocolate chip cookies are the only things referred to as such; all other types of cookies are called “biscuits.”
Another one that really threw me was “trolley.” In England, a trolley is a shopping cart. In fact, you must pay a pound to use a trolley as well (you get it back upon return). When I did laundry and asked my roommates where I could buy some detergent, they clarified that in England detergent is called “washing up liquid.” Typically, I can pick upon what they’re referring to when using these phrases, but one time, a request from my flatmate left me with absolutely no idea what she was talking about. She was asking to borrow some “kitchen roll.” Now I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. My mind went to many things. I wondered if she wanted a rolling pin or maybe tin foil or something. Luckily for me, she’s an American Studies major and thus knows a lot of the American equivalents and when she realized that I seriously had no idea what she was talking about, she clarified, “paper towel?” Other than that, these new phrases haven’t been so hard to grasp, and I’ve definitely found myself using them a lot. Some of these phrases I know I might try and bring back to the States, but I’m positive I’ll go back to American soon after arrival.
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October 24, 2008
The Hoot 11
END NOTE “The Tuesday Stack,” continued FICTION (from p. 10)
day. He demanded, I fetched, he grumbled, I slipped away to spend time with Eleanor. Each day was the same. Except for this one, boring Tuesday. That morning something happened, something that was not written in to our carefully rehearsed script. As I gingerly placed Albert’s steaming mug on his rickety side table, Eleanor ambled into the room. This slight change in our routine went unnoticed by Albert who settled back into his chair and opened Tuesday’s newspaper. I, however, was unnerved by the sudden appearance. Eleanor never came into the living room before noon. “It’s too dark in there for mornings,” she would say. “Eleanor, are you ok? Can I get you something?” I tried to hide the concern in my voice, but I was uneasy. “Oh, darling, don’t mind me. I’m just a little chilly this morning. That’s all. I think I might sit in here for a little while. Try to get warm again.” Here eyes seemed a little cloudier than usual and her breaths were a little shallow. “Here, I’ll just rest on the couch for a few moments.” I helped her lean back on the crunchy plastic. It was strange to see someone sitting on the oversized furniture. It made the fabric seem older and more frayed. “Eleanor, you are looking very pale. Are you sure you’re feeling fine? I mean, can I get you a drink of water or something to eat?” “No I’m really fine dear.” She gently swatted her hand in the air to dismiss my concern and her eyes drooped close. “Have I ever told you the story of how I
got my paints? I truly love those paints. I keep them under my bed you know. In a little tin, with the colors all lined up, like a rainbow. Red next to orange, next to yellow, next to green next to… I still remember the day he gave them to me. It was raining out and Mother was hunched over in the corner crying. It was the day he headed off to the war in Europe. “My big brother was all dressed up in his uniform and he handed me the tin wrapped up in brown paper. My mother was crying, but I was glowing. They were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. ‘I’ll make you a painting everyday.’ “He smiled at me and said, ‘I would love that doll-face.’ I loved it when he called me ‘doll-face.’ It made me feel like a move star, glamorous and talented. That was the kind of guy my brother was, always making other people feel good about themselves. “Then right before he was going to leave he gave me a big strong hug and whispered in my ear. ‘Take care of them for me.’ “I finished my first painting the day the soldiers knocked on our front door. Mother wailed and screamed and sank
down to the floor, and Father just stared at the wall. For a month straight, he wouldn’t budge. Mother refused to let us clean out his bedroom. And every evening she would sit in the dark hunched over in his preserved room looking out the tiny window. “It was as if she was waiting for him to come home, refusing to believe he was gone. “She died a year later. Everyone said it was a broken heart, but I knew the truth. She died because she couldn’t see the point of living anymore. She didn’t have any good reason to keep going if she wasn’t my brother’s mother any more. It was as if her purpose in this life had been stolen away and no matter how hard she tried to pretend, there was no getting him back. She just wasted away... And my father… well, he never smiled again, not that he smiled much to begin with. That summer’s when I got my first job. I was almost thirty, when Father died too. That’s when I met Albert, you know. He owned the funeral parlor that came for Father. Somehow up until then I had just forgotten to get myself a husband. So Albert and I got married. “It was in June. I didn’t have a veil. Albert said they were frivolous. I was old for a bride, too old for a bride, but it was a beautiful day, the day Albert and I got married, a beautiful June day.” Suddenly, her eyes flew open and her boney hand grasped my wrist. In a desperate voice she begged me, “Take my paints dear. I want you to have my paints. Please they can’t just rot away under my bed. Please. They are the only thing I have that’s mine to give away and, …and I want you to have them. Promise me doll-face, Promise me you’ll take care of them.” “I promise,” I whispered in her ear as if it was a secret kept just between the two of us. I felt her hand go limp around my wrist. She relaxed leaning back on to the plastic-covered couch. A dreamy smile slid across her lips and her eyelids glided close. Her breath was now so shallow I could barely hear its raspy cadence. Then it quietly stopped. A tear escaped my eye and dribbled
She died a year later. Everyone said it was a broken heart, but I knew the truth. She died because she couldn’t see the point of living anymore.
A DVERT IS EM ENT
down my cheek and under my chin. I didn’t move to wipe it away, as if wiping away the tear would wipe the memory of Eleanor out of my mind. I kept my eyes glued to her serene smiling face. I was trying to hold on to her image afraid I would forget it the moment I looked away. “Albert..?” I whispered a little tentatively, I was afraid to interrupt his reading. “Albert? I think we need to call an Ambulance or something Eleanor is …” The word got lost somewhere between my mind and my mouth. I was going to say Eleanor is sleeping but I knew that wasn’t true. The thought sent a wave of grief through my body. I suddenly realized that I had cared more for the woman laying in front of me than I had for any other person in my nearly three decades of life. I tried again to explain to Albert that his wife was dead… but my jaw just hung open stupidly. Albert slowly peered around the edge of his paper and grumpily sighed. “Ugg.. You’re going to have to put her in with the others.” And he went back to reading his paper. “The Others…?” He gruffly crumpled the paper up and stuffed in between his leg and the decaying arm of his chair. “Yes Eleanor, with the others… in the spare room.” “Eleanor…? But I’m not … the spare room? I’m not supposed to go in there…” “Eleanor, stop dillydallying. And put her in with the others.” Bewildered I rose from the couch and walked in a daze down the narrow hallway. When I came to the door at the end of the hall I hesitated for a moment before I boldly reached out, turned the knob, pushed gently and watched as the door creaked open. Even before my eyes had adjusted to the odd light, a sick sour smell wafted towards my nostrils. Inside, in seven neat stacks were the partially decaying bodies of a few dozen women. The faces staring back at me looked vaguely familiar, but where had I seen them before? Then I remembered the paintings. Before me were the faces of Eleanor’s portraits. My heart was thudding in my ears and my breath was stuck in the bottom of my lungs. Right over my shoulder, I heard Albert’s ornery voice, “Tuesday, yes Tuesday. She will have to go on top of the Tuesday pile. Third from the left. There. Eleanor just place her on top of that pile, there.” I stared blankly past Albert’s bald liver spotted head. In the hallway mirror I had caught a glimpse of my own appearance… but it couldn’t be… I was staring at the reflection of Eleanor’s wrinkled face. “Now Eleanor, when you’re done you can finish that painting you were working on. Do you remember where you put your paints…?” “My paints…?” I tried hard to hold on to a thought, but they were all flying past me too quickly to catch one. “My paints… Yes. My paints. They are under the bed?” Albert slowly nodded his ugly spotted head “Yes, under the bed… under your bed.” I started to mimic the motion of his head, back and forth, back and forth. “Yes under the bed. My bed.” As he turned to hobble back into the living room I heard him mutter under his breath, “I’ll have to put another ad in the paper. Maybe I can still get it in to the Wednesday edition…”