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Yearly Archive: 2018

Oct

20

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A literal Angel.

Loki. Coyote. Anansi. Hermes. Jack. Trickster characters are almost a universal human archetype, looming large out of stories from across the world, thrilling audiences with their cleverness, wit, and – nearly always – their masculinity. Peer Gynt is one such folkloric hero, a troll-killing hunter from a Norwegian folk tale. But when Peer Gynt leapt onstage at the Barnard Theater Department’s Saturday night performance, the Trickster splintered and reshaped itself in a totally new image.

In the opening scene, the young Peer Gynt (Angel Dudley, GS ‘19) excitedly recounts the story of a stag-hunting expedition, while her mother Aase (Lydia Georgantzi, GS ’22) berates her for being a useless daughter. Peer hears that the rich farmer’s daughter Ingrid (Bailey Coleman, BC ‘19), who is about to be married, once had feelings for her. She immediately rushes off to steal the bride. Peer is banished for her crime, and spends the next several decades wandering among troll kingdoms, Moroccan beaches, Bedouin tribes, mental institutions, and the high seas.

Henrik Ibsen’s play is a highly psychological, nearly Modernist rendering of a folktale universe. Peer ceaselessly struggles with, and rejects civilized society as “Lies, lies, a bunch of goddamned poetry”. She seeks a completely unrestrained, natural self. But as the play progresses, she is tormented by her own morality in the guise of various characters: the “Great Between,” the “Button-maker”, and her husband Solveig (Jordan Mahr, CC ‘20) who waits for her at home. In the end, Peer is forced to face the fact that in all her time exploiting the world in the interest of individualism, she has almost never truly been “herself.”

To thine own self be true enough…

Oct

20

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It’s okay, he probably goes to GS.

Whether it’s because Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson split and you need to reignite your belief in true love, or because you’ve just broken up with your high school boyfriend, you’ve hit a new low point in your love life: Bumble dates at Ferris.

There are a plenty of good resources at Columbia. Major AND pre-major advisers, an extensive array of clubs and organizations to join, Low Steps for Instagram posts, New York City, and Ferris. This writer has put herself on the line after a confident proclamation in a Bwog meeting about how she could get a Bumble date at Ferris, “Just like that.” After 20 invitations to everyone I matched with from Columbia, I scored myself a “Tuesday, 6 pm.”

In my humble opinion, Ferris is wildly overlooked as a potential dating hot spot. (You’re welcome Bumble Campus Reps for boosting your commission). You don’t need to contemplate who’s paying and who’s not, since you can just swipe yourself in. If you hate your date upon first sight you can blend in with the rest of the crowd and disappear. If you do like each other, there’s nothing more romantic than waiting in line for the coca cola machine while you make small talk with your date and awkwardly try to semi-sarcastically psychoanalyze each other based on soda choice. My personal experience involved the little balcony area which provides a beautiful view of Alma and –

Alright lol, who am I kidding we chickened out of Ferris and hung out in Riverside. Why the fuck would anyone want to go on a first date in a dining hall like deadass. If you have more balls than me, try it out and submit to tips@bwog.com.

Oct

20

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we lov optimism

Last night, Columbia Astronomy Outreach held their bi-monthly lecture and stargazing series. This week’s guest was Jana Grcevich, who received her Ph.D. in Astronomy from Columbia and now works as a freelance Data Scientist and author. Hear what Bwogger Mary Clare Greenlees thought about the Vacation Guide to the Solar System.

After a Friday filled with class, work, and a club, my relaxing night was to include an astronomy lecture. This was the second Astronomy Outreach lecture I had gone to and I felt like a seasoned pro. I entered Pupin at 6:50 pm and followed the printed signs pointing to where the lecture was. After walking down a flight of stairs I was handed a survey from a graduate student, asking different questions such as age, occupation, if this is your first time, and if you learned anything. This time I got to circle ‘no’ when it asked if this was my first time. I was surprised to see so many familiar faces from the previous Astronomy Outreach event. Regulars, who come to the Astronomy Outreach events to learn more about the wonders of space, just as I have.

Dr. Grcevich began her talk with a slide announcing “Top 10 Things to do on your Space Vacation before as you die.” A great start to the lecture, no doubt. The slide drew a laugh from the audience as she explained that most places in the solar system are unsuited and dangerous to human life. Throughout the presentation, Dr. Grcevich sprinkled humorous anecdotes and facts to enhance her visual storytelling. She chose to focus on 10 different sites featured in her book with co-author Olivia Koski, Vacation Guide to the Solar System.

Number 10 on the list was visiting the skies of Venus. For a hands-on experience, Dr. Grcevich recommends floating in a bubble in the atmosphere while seeing the beautiful sites of this alien world. Venus’ atmosphere has a similar pressure and temperature to Earth’s, meaning that a vacationer would only need a bubble of air and they would be set to go. A word of warning, however, be careful not fly to close to the ground, as temperatures on the surface are around 864 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also the reason that no lander on Venus has lasted longer than 45 minutes. Imagine what it would do to a human.

Venus not floating your boat? Don’t worry, there are more destinations after the jump.

Oct

20

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Staff writer Jake Tibbetts is both a cardio junkie and an utter misanthrope. Going to Dodge used to be the only way that he was able to satiate his desire to engage in fat-burning, blood-pumping behavior—until he moved to McBain. The McBain fitness room receives a fair share of flak, and in this piece, Tibbetts seeks to defend the merits of this odd little room that is one part sanctuary and one part liminal space.

Until two weeks ago, when I wanted to work out—which is, contrary to popular belief, something that I do, in fact, occasionally want to do—I did what almost any other health-conscious Columbian does on a semi-regular basis: I walked over to the Dodge Fitness Center. My routine was simple: I’d head up to the upper level of the fitness area, sign out an elliptical for thirty minutes, run, sign out a treadmill for another thirty minutes, run some more, wipe down, drink my beverage of choice, and leave.

From this point on, I am only referring to this room as “McGains.” (Just kidding. There isn’t any strength-training equipment in here.)

I didn’t go too often, admittedly—and that’s not just because I’m lazy. Dodge is a relatively long distance from most residence halls on campus, and walking there and back in little more than a pair of gym shorts and a worn-and-torn Elizabeth Warren for Senate t-shirt (my outfit of choice) can be a trying experience. Going there was, for someone who loathes social interaction or even just being near other people as much as I do, quite exhausting, to be frank. Also, the place just smells. A lot.

Is the McBain fitness room really as bad as most people claim it is? Read on to find out what one Bwogger thinks.

Oct

20

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Not exactly the Beat Generation.

New York City is packed with amazing culture and inspiring art, but sometimes it’s difficult to break the Morningside-bubble and experience it all first-hand. “Where Art Thou” is a weekly guide to interesting and notable lectures, events, and performances for the literary/musically/theatrically-inclined on campus.

On Campus:

  • Tomorrow at 7 PM, head to Roone Auditorium for Chamak: Night at the Bazaar, a fabulous fashion show and performance hosted by CU’s Organization of Pakistani Students. Tickets $5 with CUID.
  • This Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM, NOMADS – Columbia’s group for student-written theater – presents The Other Side, a new play by Eden Gordon. It centers around the lives of Beat Generation writers Joyce Johnson and Elise Cowen. Tickets $5 with CUID.
  • Also Thursday through Saturday, CU’s Shakespeare and Shakespeare-adjacent troupe, KCST, presents Mourning Becomes Electra: A Eugene O’Neill play based on the Greek epic Oresteia. This postwar drama centers around Orin and Lavinia Mannon, a brother and sister seeking revenge on their mother for their father’s death. Free RSVP here.
  • Tired of all this drama? For a few laughs, come to Third Wheel Improv’s Saturday night show in Lerner, Third Wheel Gets Ghosted.

Off Campus:

  • This Monday, head to the NYPL on 5th avenue for The Language of Crises: a book talk with essayist Rebecca Solnit. Her new collection Call Them By Their True Names deals with “battles over meaning, place, language and belonging – pillars that define the crises of our time.” $25 rush rickets.

Image via Flickr

Oct

20

img October 20, 201810:28 amimg 1 Comments

im deadass buying a lottery ticket

Sign up for Bwogletter! Bwog’s new newsletter that keeps you updated once a week on what’s going on in the Columbia community!

Happening in the World: Last week, Australia’s ‘Sex Discrimination Act of 1984,’ which allows private religious schools (which receive government funding) to discriminate against teachers and students because of their sexuality and gender was thrown into the spotlight. A leaked “religious freedom” report written by conservative Parliament members recommended the protection of these schools discrimination. After backlash from the public, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that new laws would be put in place to protect students from expulsion because of their sexuality and gender, but would not comment on whether similar protections will be allowed for teachers.

Happening in the US: The Mega Millions jackpot is now at $1 billion, the second-largest lottery prize in the history of the United States. Which is great news if you want to pay off your student debt and literally do anything you want. However, your chances of winning this jackpot are 1 in 88 quadrillion. If you end up being very lucky, the experts say you should probably have a trust claim the prize for you. This is so that you can remain anonymous and keep “long-lost cousins” from turning up on your doorstep for a slice of the prize.

Happening in NYC: The ‘Right to Know’ act has gone into effect in New York City. This means that NYPD officers are “required to share their full name and rank with people who they stop on the street.” In addition, police are required to inform people of their right to refuse some searches. The City Council passed the law in January after four years of discussions between the police union and activists. The police union has stated that they believe the law is “frivolous” and “will ultimately make NYC a more dangerous place.” While supporters of the law hope that it will build trust and transparency within the community. And they hope it will inform more people about their rights.

Happening on Campus: Join award-winning authors, Zinzi Clemmons and Crystal Hana Kim, for a reading and discussion! Their works explore the “intimate legacies of political upheaval, race, migration, sexuality, motherhood, trauma and loss, and the malleability of memory.” The event is co-sponsored by First-Year Writing at Barnard and Apogee Journal and will be held at the Event Oval in the Diana Center on Monday, October 22 at 6 pm.

Documentary of the Week:  This one’s a group of episodes from Nature called Super Cats. Even if you aren’t a cat person this is still a really cool documentary. It’s interesting to learn about different types of big cats and honestly, there are pretty wild. I watched this a while ago while trying to do homework and I completely got distracted because they were so neat!

lots of money via Wikimedia Commons

Oct

19

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The only Package I care about.

Getting tired of the tea and ramen noodle packets? How stereotypically college do they think we are? Here’s Bwog’s petition for what to include in our next Columbia Care Package:

 

Examples:

The textbooks for all your individual courses

Sexy Halloween costume that shows off your intellect, humor, and tits

Study guides for all of your classes that actually look like your exams

Pocket-sized unfoldable coat for the 20-degree temperature drop of the day

Lotion because everyone is ashy 

Electric razor for a manic buzzcut, preconceived buzz cut, or date that might go well

Chastity ring for when reality strikes

Umbrella you didn’t steal

All the makeup you forgot at home

Pajamas that don’t have stains on them because you forgot people have to see you in your pajamas

Lube that doesn’t feel like a melted jolly ranchers

Face wipes for nights you just can’t make it to the bathroom

Monthly MetroCard because you always have to refill yours at the station while your train is coming

Posters that don’t make you look like a poser

Blankets that actually fit on these giraffe beds and your body

A planner that has already been planned upon

Personal water cooler (John Jay knows)

Tissues

Confidence

 

Let us know if you have any more suggestions for a care package that really delivers.

photo via Bwog Archives

Oct

19

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Look at that diversity!!

Bwog crashed the party of the year last night in the Glicker-Milstein Theater, where Prohibition was in effect yet ineffectual and the 20’s roared. Tuesday Daily Vivian Zhou and Deputy Editor Idris O’Neill lived to tell the tale of CU Players’ The Great Gatsby.

The play opens with a casual atmosphere, inviting the audience to a thrilling 20’s party and transforming the space with minimal set and prop additions. But this rendition of the Great Gatsby is a lot more than fabulous parties and everyday problems of the upper class. Instead of actors on a stage telling a story and audience members listening, this play is a much-needed discussion on topics like oppression of minorities, white privilege, and the “American dream”. Director Nick Hermesman (CC ’19) takes Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel and applies it to the modern “political turmoil that day-by-day sees the silencing of voices of dissent against the wealthy white men who lead it”  while still retaining the original storyline.

One of the most striking, as well as the most important, differences in CU Player’s rendition of The Great Gatsby is the explicit choice to use actors of color in primary roles––all the women are women of color, while the titular Jay Gatsby is played by Blessing Johnson (CC ’22) and Nick Carraway, whose role as narrator is significantly reduced, is played by Ken Westrick (CC ’20). While the show makes throwaway lines to the lack of apparent “whiteness” of the cast, it brings forward more questions with its subversive casting. Jacob Weinstein (CC ‘22) provided an excellent contrast in his portrayal of Wilson, Myrtle’s husband, a white man with fixated jealousy for his wealthier counterpart Tom, but who ultimately acts as a prop to Tom’s schemes to kill the intentionally Black Gatsby. While Daisy (played by Asha Futterman BC ’21) and Myrtle (played by Danielle Hopkins BC ’21) play traditionally white characters, what does it mean for the objects of attraction–not affection, as the play insists “this is not a love story”–to be played by Black women?

Asha Futterman’s ironic recounts of Daisy’s white childhood elicit a chuckle from the audience, but the dynamics between Daisy and Tom (played by Diego Lomeli CC ’21) deepen as he mocks her distrust and suspicion and chastises her blasé regard for motherhood. Tom is not just a male aggressor who forces Daisy into her role as a good wife and mother, he becomes a tangible threat emblematic of societal realities for Daisy. As Tom grows possessive of Myrtle, he represents the historical white male entitlement of Black women’s bodies and his subsequent seemingly unlimited access. Even in watching The Great Gatsby, which is unanimously agreed upon that you should, it is not enough that you accept people of color in playing these roles, but imagine the implications and nuances that embody this very intentional casting.

CUP’s The Great Gatsby is also no stranger to sexuality and its expression. In many scenes, the women’s display of sexuality not unlike that of Chantel Woo’s (BC ‘20), who portrayed Jordan Baker, interactions with Nick Carraway. She embraces the boldness and independence of Jordan’s character through well-curated body language, facial expressions, and delivered her lines with intent. While still carrying herself as sexy and seductive, Woo portrays the character with the confidence and assertiveness required of women of color as they navigate a white-dominated, male-dominated society. Do not be alarmed if you witness this statement of sexual dominance throughout the play, across scenes and sexualities. CU Players adopts the responsibility of bringing The Great Gatsby’s queer subtext to the forefront of the play with many engaging scenes, including a flashback of Daisy and Gatsby’s meet-cute with role reversed choreography featuring Emily Zhang (CC ‘21) as an army man and Thomas Baker (CC ‘22) as one of Daisy’s girl friends. Baker captivates the audience and fully embraces his roles, even during scenes when he was just moving a sofa onto the stage or removing a table from the stage. His versatility can be seen in the many contrasting characters that he takes on. CUP’s run remains unafraid to explore the ambiguity that attends any adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

The show could not be written about without mentioning the excellent choreography throughout the entire play done by the director Nick Hermesman with assistance from Erin Hilgartner (CC ’21). The dance numbers and wordless miming delivered the play’s message through purposeful body language and left the audience with room for interpretation. It also eliminated unnecessary delivery of lines, generating more overall purpose to the lines that were vocally delivered. Dance numbers are expertly curated to be transitional moments, only briefly (if at all) implied in the novel, such as conversations between Myrtle and Tom and more excitedly, Daisy’s and Gatsby’s sex scene, which featured all other actors in lingerie and silk sheets, exemplifying the sensuality and intimacy of their relationship, as well as being analogous to its place in the public eye. The choice of music and costume brought the play to the setting of the prosperous Long Island in the 1920’s without distracting from the intentional message and portrayal of characters.

In two short hours, CUP’s The Great Gatsby managed to address political issues ranging from oppression of minorities to classism, male privilege to sexual ambiguity, leaving audiences with a lot to consider and reflect on. In two short hours, CUP’s The Great Gatsby managed to become the impactful and well-produced show that was needed in the current political climate. Go to The Great Gatsby for its clever one-liners, its overt queer tones, amazing choreography, but most of all, to be challenged by the unconventional, once-in-a-lifetime experience that it is.

See CUP’s The Great Gatsby at the Glicker-Milstein Theatre tonight at 8PM or tomorrow at 7PM. Tickets are sold out but there will be a waitlist that can be joined 1 hour before showtimes.

Photo via CUP-The Great Gatsby Facebook 

Oct

19

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coffee

What if I told you I could make this… taste good?

New guest writer and self-described coffee snob Sophie Tobin gives you all the tips for transforming Columbia’s shitty dining hall coffee into something actually palatable.

Listen, I’m not a snob when it comes to most things. BUT. I’ve had the misfortune of developing a pretty snobby palette when it comes to coffee, making the dining hall coffee something I have come to avoid at all costs. Not only is it the most watered down brew you could imagine, but it tends to taste like actual bile if you don’t completely overload it with cream and sugar (especially in Hewitt. What the hell are they brewing down there?! Upon my first ever sip, I genuinely gagged. GAGGED. Why, why, why?).

Personally, I’ve resorted to brewing “Death Wish Coffee,” aka the strongest coffee you can legally buy, and that usually keeps me good for the day. Peet’s is great, and I’ll occasionally brave the line at Liz’s Place, but other than that I’m a pretty do-it-yourself type of gal when it comes to my caffeine boosts. But sometimes your Keurig is on the fritz, and you’re almost out of dining points, so you’re left with only one option: the dining hall coffee you’ve been trying oh-so-hard to avoid. And if you’re anything like me, you would almost rather go without than gag that stuff down by itself. Thus, I bring you:

A Coffee Snob’s Guide To Columbia Dining Decoctions

The hot tips are after the jump!

Oct

19

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You’re four weeks into the semester. You’re settling into your classes, you’re growing closer to your friends, and for the first time since you arrived, Columbia is starting to feel like home. And then, you hear it. Not from the mouth of a stranger, not from a fifty-year-old white man browsing the aisles of Morton Williams, but from your brand new seemingly innocent friend: “but straight white men are the minority now”. Suddenly you feel faint, you start to lose your grip on reality and it takes everything in you not to vomit right there and then. Your new friend is problematic.

What your problematic NSOP friend probably looks like.

This may be an oddly specific dilemma, and you might not relate to this particular predicament at all, but if you do we are here to help. We have taken the time out of our busy schedules to craft this handy list of ways in which you can deal with your problematic friend.

  1. Move to the Scottish Highlands and become a hermit. This way you’ll never have to see them, plus you can start a lucrative business hand sewing kilts.
  2. Every time you know you’re going to see them, take a handful of laxatives thirty minutes before. This way you have a genuine excuse to avoid being in their presence.
  3. Permanently stuff your ears with cotton wool. This way you never have to listen to their terrible opinions.
  4. When you’re around them only speak in riddles. This way they won’t even want to be friends with you.
  5. Become a mime and demand silence at all times so that you can hone your craft. This way they won’t be able to speak and you’ll also become a brilliant mime and the world could always do with more mimes.
  6. When they start to voice a problematic view jump on the nearest table and start yodeling. This way you’ll overpower them with the magic of yodel and make new friends who share your love of the craft.
  7. Where a birthday badge at all times. This way, you can make sure that your problematic friend doesn’t say anything questionable. On your birthday you make the rules.
  8. Where stilts instead of shoes. This way you’ll be too high to see or hear them.
  9. Never shower. This way, your body odor will simply kill them.
  10. Talk to them, explain why what they’re saying hurts you. Just kidding! They’ll never listen. Instead, fake your own death and frame them for your murder.

We’re afraid that’s all the sage advice we can offer. If none of the above works, we’re not sure what your next step should be. Maybe transfer to NYU?

your problematic nsop friend via Bwog Archives

Oct

19

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They can fly if you believe enough.

Homecoming: the one weekend where everyone cares about the football team. Sports Editor Abby Rubel, who’s been paying attention all season, tells you occasional fans what you need to know. Included: other sports!

Football: It’s Homecoming! The Lions (3-2, 0-2 Ivy) will take on Dartmouth’s Big Green (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) (yes, that’s the name of their team) on Saturday at 1:35 pm at Kraft Field in Wien Stadium in Baker Athletics Complex. Fan buses will depart from 116th and Broadway starting at 10:20 am, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the full schedule of events. Note the free food from noon to 1:30 pm. (If you’re over 21, there’s free beer, too!) Columbia and Dartmouth have been playing each other since 1899, but Dartmouth has won 68 of those games to Columbia’s 19 wins. A 9-7 win over Dartmouth in 2016 snapped the Light Blue’s 15-year long Homecoming losing streak. Columbia is still missing some key players to injury, including placekicker Oren Milstein, wide receiver Josh Wainwright, and defensive back Landon Baty. In good news, quarterback Josh Bean is back! He’ll be facing off against Dartmouth Derek Kyler, who has 878 passing yards on the season and nine touchdowns.

Field Hockey: Columbia (7-5, 2-2 Ivy) will face Dartmouth (4-8, 1-3 Ivy) on Friday at 2 pm to kick off their Homecoming weekend, then take on Villanova (6-8) for a non-conference game on Sunday at 1 pm. Both games are at home. Dartmouth is on a four-game losing streak and currently sits at sixth place in the Ivy League. Katie Spanos leads the Big Green with eight goals, while Columbia leader Jennifer Trieschman has nine, making Trieschman the fourth highest scorer in the Ivies. The top Villanova scorers have six goals apiece.

Women’s Soccer: The Light Blue (6-6-1, 2-2 Ivy) will play their final home game of the season on Saturday at 6 pm against Dartmouth (8-4-2, 2-1-1 Ivy). Although the Lions have won every match against October 25, 2014, including a 3-0 win in Hanover last year, they trail overall 6-22-4. The Big Green stand at fourth in the Ivies, while the Light Blue is fifth. Columbia’s Maddie Temares leads the team with four points. Dartmouth’s top scorer, Remy Borinsky, has five goals and three assists on the season.

Clap harder! via gocolumbialions.com

Oct

19

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when you thought the tv show already went too far

Happening in the World: Austrailian woman Lucy Wieland, age 27, was charged for obtaining $55,000 from fundraising website GoFundMe, after faking that she was diagnosed with cancer. It is currently unclear whether or not her partner is aware of the fraud or if she is suffering from other medical conditions (BBC).

Happening in the US: Trump has threatened to cancel the recent trade deal with Mexico, as well as withhold aid to Central American countries if the new migrant caravan of thousands, originating from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, reaches the United States (CNN).

Happening in NYC: On Thursday, an unloaded .32-caliber pistol was discovered in the bathroom of Public School 5, a Brooklyn Elementary School. Police found the gun a few hours after a student with a BB gun had caused a lockdown at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in Harlem (NY Daily News).

Happening on Campus: Kick off Homecoming Weekend right and go to the Homecoming Yard Show! Come to Low Plaza at 6 pm tonight and see Greek organizations showcase their history through various performances. Hot chocolate and Dunkin’ Donuts will be served!

yes, i wasted a meal swipe on just this

Meal Recommendation of the Week: Gummy bears and coffee from JJ’s at 12 am. Honestly, this is probably the healthiest choice I’ve made during midterm season.

 

 

 

 

throwback to catfish on mtv via Wikimedia Commons

Oct

18

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What is this thing? Is it of this Earth?

If you’ve walked by Ivy League Stationers in the past month or so, you’ve probably noticed the giant printer-thing outside it. What is the thing? Where did it come from? Why is it there? Sports Editor Abby Rubel has some theories.

I first noticed the printer-thing outside Ivy League Stationers about a month ago. (Maybe more, maybe less. Keeping track of time is difficult during midterms.) At first, I assumed that Ivy League Stationers once used it to print giant banners, that it had broken, and would be picked up by a designated service. But then I noticed it again. And I kept noticing it.

There is no reasonable explanation for this phenomenon. Why has no professional printer-thing-remover come and removed it yet? Obviously, because one has not been employed to do so. But Ivy League Stationers couldn’t possibly assume that a random passer-by would just take it, because it’s so freaking enormous. And it’s too far away from the curb to be eligible for trash pickup. So, if there’s no reasonable way the store could expect the printer-thing to be removed from outside the store, they must not want it to be removed, which means it’s probably not broken. Are they planning to use it outside? I haven’t observed anyone doing that, and the printer-thing doesn’t look usable anyway. Clearly the realm of the reasonable does not contain the answers to the printer-thing question.

My theories after the jump

Oct

18

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“For those of us who live at the shoreline…”
(Art by Anchuli Felicia King)

Last night, Bwogger and wannabe theatre critic Levi Cohen braved the chilly autumn night to get to the Lenfest Center for the Arts. His purpose? To watch the opening of the first thesis of the Directing MFA Class of 2019: LORDES, directed by Katherine Wilkinson, written by Wilkinson & Gethsemane Herron-Coward, and produced by Elana Boulos. The play runs through Saturday, October 20th, with two shows on its final day. Tickets can be found on the Lenfest Center’s website, and using the code AUDRE (+ a student ID) gets you one for free! Otherwise, they’re $15. All shows are currently sold out, but a wait list will begin each night at the Box Office 1 hour prior to curtain.

You enter. An usher gives the final warning that there will be no reentry if you exit the theatre. Over his shoulder you see a circle of women in red, seated around a writing-desk, staring outwards. Soon, a persistent drumbeat begins to thump. You examine your options- it’s a thrust stage, so you have three banks of seats from which to choose. Settling into your chair, you watch as the women each individually stand and peel off from that initial circle, situating themselves like pillars across the theatre space.

All that is the unforgettable first step into the world created by LORDES, MFA student Katherine Wilkinson’s Directing Thesis and the first thesis of the class of 2019. The work, by Wilkinson and Gethsemane Herron-Coward (Playwright MFA ‘19), began life as a devised piece last spring. Featuring a cast of over 40 women, it’s an impressionistic and impressive take on the final years and feelings of one of America’s major poets and activists.

Lauren Marissa Smith gives a stage-shaking performance as Audre Lorde. Remaining centerstage for the entirety of the play, Smith has nowhere to hide, but more than that no need to hide— every beat works to capture Lorde as both a character and the human being she was. When she coughs or falls, one seizes up in empathy; when she sits to write, one really does believe that she is penning, say, “A Litany For Survival” or The Cancer Journals. Simple actions, like the removal of a headscarf or the tearing of herbs, are charged with a depth of meaning that is genuinely breathtaking.

Read more about LORDES below

Oct

18

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Hong Fincher and Lu defy Big Brother.

 On Wednesday, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute invited author Leta Hong Fincher along with feminist activist and journalist Lü Pin to speak on China’s feminist movement. The story is of two worlds: a radical activism operating between the progressive #MeToo movement and an Orwellian Big Brother society. Andrew Wang, who has only ever known big brother as an older sibling, watched.

“Protect my rights, don’t keep me down; Why must I lose my freedom? Let’s break free from our heavy shackles, and reclaim our power as women!” sings Wei Ting Ting.

It is 2015, and Wei Ting Ting is detained underground, held by the Beijing police in a freezing room. She can barely see—the police had taken her glasses—and so she uses her voice, singing the anthem of China’s feminist movement. She and others had been handing out stickers on public transportation to raise awareness about sexual harassment in China. In response, the police conducted sweeping arrests across the country. They eventually focused their efforts on five women—later dubbed the Feminist Five—who were all brought to Beijing to be incarcerated. They were held for 37 days after immense international pressure.

Months later, above ground, China’s President, Xi Jin Ping—nicknamed Xi Da Da, or Xi Daddy—hosted a United Nations summit on gender equality.

Leta Hong Fincher told us this story as she read an excerpt from her book, Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China. From the get-go, we learned that China’s story of feminism is both like and unlike the western story. More from Leta Hong Fincher and Lu Pin

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