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Search Results for: year in review

May

14

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Farewell

Farewell

You’ve done it. You’ve completed your final year of college, or your first, second, or third. A lot has happened in these months since late August, and Editor in Chief Taylor Grasdalen reviews them for you here. (And wrote her own byline.) Enjoy and remember.

September ushered in controversy and action, from the Students for Justice in Palestine protesting on 9/11 to the advent of the Carry That Weight movement. No Red Tape and other anti-sexual violence groups began to make more noise; “rape shouldn’t be part of the college experience,” though Columbia’s own data illustrated the campus reality. It also turned out that Barnard students were never supposed to be in JJ’s in the first place. And you might have heard some things about Bwog, but don’t mind us.

In October, there was one very sketchy Town Hall. Questions were asked and askers were asked to ask their questions. “BoSchwo” arrived (thanks, Alex Chang), though we too now call it “Bernie’s.” We saw the first Carry That Weight Day of Action, and Columbia released some choice words in response:

We understand that reports about these cases in the media can be deeply distressing, and our hearts go out to any students who feel they have been mistreated. But galvanizing public attention on an important societal problem is very different from a public conversation about individual students and cases, which colleges and universities do not discuss.

A doctor from the Columbia University Medical Center briefly had ebolaWe lost UNI Café. We tried to host an open forum. The University Senate began to review the Rules of Conduct.

November brought us Beta-induced anger, an impostor amongst the Class of 2018, and some contentious fines for the Carry That Weight demonstrators. Students sought to give President Bollinger the raise he deserves. …Speaking of PrezBo, he’s been disappointed with the football team for a while. CCSC and ESC considered raising your activities fee by $4.50. And Bwog might not have an official office, but at least we don’t have to worry about finding feces in our elevator.

December was busy and painfully cold, if nothing else. We lost Joshua Villa. Another student fell from the eighth floor of Wien. We began to talk about mental health. The Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases led to a “die-in” on College Walk, the night of the Tree-Lighting Ceremony. Orgo Night made people upset. Carry That Weight protested their fine. CUSS arrived! (And so did I.) Beta annoyed.

But what happened during the Spring semester?

May

23

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Let’s do this. OK, there were controversies: The Study Days Debacle, the Meal Plan Shitshow, the McBain Conflagration ’10, Gender Neutral (Open) Housing, another possible SSN breach, the gross things living in Pinnacle; there were new friends: the Vag, coyotes, Sarkozy, falafel (everywhere!), a new beau for Hawkma; there was an insane snowball fight, a huge pillow fight, a big old speed bump for Manhattanville, a bonafide Snow Day, a former Wu Tang member hanging out on Low Plaza…we could go on, and we do in our breakdown of August 2009-May 2010 below. Bwog hopes you had a wonderful year, and we hope you have fun taking a trip down memory lane (in links and pictures) with us below.

Allow us a meta-moment before we do: Bwog wants to say thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting (please be nice to each other on the web, dudes!) and thanks for hanging out with us this year. We’ll still be here over the summer, posting when there’s something good to post. As always, that depends mostly on you: use our tip form to let us know what’s going on both in Morningside and wherever your summer takes you.

August: Fresh-faced 2013ers (now known colloquially as “sophomores”) showed up; we provided some Orientation Schadenfreude and told them how to make friends.

September: After an exhausting round of Lit Hum Bingo, we spotted Ted Kennedy outside Am-Ap and switched GChat for texting in Music Hum. The semester officially began, and your professors said funny things about it. We started a strange friendship with the Hot Dog Machine, got free hot water (!!!!!) from Butler Cafe, and Columbia discovered YouTube. Things broke, people lost keys, and the Ref room became the new 209. Westboro protested, people got married on the Steps, we answered questions about the close-door button and talked to Mrs. HamDel. Phew!

October: Stuff happened in October! First, two masked undergrads set $400 QuAM balloons free, Book Culture was sort of cloned, and the Lions destroyed the Tigers in football. We caught up with our campus contortionist, resident Rubik’s Cube Master, the Footbag Queen, and the infamous Sir Mike of Carman. And  hark! One of the year’s true controversies began: The Great Study Days Debacle! Scandalous, in a different way: Ghostbusters doesn’t pay to keep the lawns green. We tell the NYPost to STFU, we’ll take our classes on Columbus Day thankyouverymuch. Spec’s online mishaps peaked with a Spectacle for the books, and we all sang about Balloon Boy. Columbia grad and potential prof Kian Tajbakhsh was sentenced to 12 years in Iranian prison. Foodie news abounded: we gleefully spent $25 on pancakes when Community re-opened, learned that in John Jay Dining Hall, turkey burgers magically become vegan and Roti Roll employees love you but get a little sick of mopping up green sauce at 2 AM. We wrapped up with non sequiturs: we explained why SEAS doesnt take the swim test, we found this weird thing in Milbank, and Clippy won the Halloween Costume Contest.

November: Election day wasn’t really as fun as last year, but we stuffed ourselves with $1 food and saw Ice-T outside 1020 so everything was OK. Lerner turned 10, Hawkma returned, we chatted with Pascale from JJ, Hewitt Grillmaster Benny, American hero Raj from Butler Cafe, and laughed both with and at Bob Saget. Then November got serious: Gender Neutral Housing entered our vocabulary (that’s Open Housing now, kids) and Postcrypt was shuttered. We forgot about everything for four blissful days known as Thanksgiving weekend: we ate lots of Morningside turkey sandwiches and made a Turducken in a McBain kitchen, and were thankful.

December: MiMoo made her big debut at the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Verdict: adorable! Then the Dallas Mavericks practiced in Dodge, and that was really weird. Then a real thing happened: Manhattanville faced a major obstacle when the New York Supreme Court ruled that the state could not use eminent domain to secure swaths of West Harlem for Manhattanville. Stay tuned for the appeal decision on June 1, and read up on some MVille background here. Chomsky visited IAB, and everybody went fucking nuts. It snowed, because it was December. Adults found the notion of Gender Neutral Housing deeply scary. We heard the first whispers of the Meal Plan Shitshow. M2M made its fries bad for a hot sec, and then changed them back to the tempura-deliciousness we like. Whispers about the Meal Plan became vague official shouts, Barnard students shouted back, and the Barnard admin tried to explain. La Negrita got a new name, John Jay flooded, and we caught up with campus hero Wilma. Then, suddenly, the semester was over, and your professors noted it. We reflected on the end of a decade, explored the Grant Houses uptown, and went to Orgo Night. Finals week ascended from Hades and it was time for requisite above-average anxiety. Then that wonderful snowball fight happened, and we forgot about everything for a night. Then we woke up and remembered the Study Days Debacle, and you vented. We made a holiday wish list, and went home for a four-week nap.

January: Somehow, Pinnacle’s ten thousand health violations were surprising, but we guess we all need something to talk about over Winter Break. The semester began with genuine tragedy: Michael Sinnott, GS ’10, and John David Fernandez, CC ’12 passed away in the same week. The Vag (which sounds like vagina) opened and it was awesome. Bwog introduced Boringside Heights; Brooklyn Lager became a buck more expensive at 1020. Your professors smoked doobies and ushered in the new semester. Lounge chairs went missing in Wien; admin opened your doors to seek truth and justice, which are synonymous with “lounge chair,” apparently. Uris and Butler got bougie, scary new vending machines, respectively. Shedding alcohol and free popcorn, Postcrypt soldiered on. The SSNs of 1,400 Columbia affiliates were possibly breached. Um!

Jump for four more months and a ton of pictures.

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May

24

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Believe it or not, second semester is over and done with. And it’s like it never even happened. In fact, you might argue that the 2007-2008 school year had something of a premature ejaculation; fall was a time for Ahmadinejad, hunger strikes, and the largest collection of racist graffiti in the western hemisphere while second semester… well… the Vag sure is a silly-sounding name, isn’t it? Bwog’s here to serve as tour guide, as we commence our annual Year in Review and officially start our summer season. We’ll still be posting a couple posts a day, but as always, the more you tip us (bwog@columbia.edu), the more we post. 

September: 


Bwog welcomed the class of 2011 by convincing them that they made the wrong decision to come to Columbia, and later helping them nurse their wounded spirits with alcohol. (Though quicker than you can say “McLovin” area bars installed scanners, which may or “may not” have been purchased by CU.) GS unveiled a new mascot that we named Gulliver and promptly never heard from again. The War on Fun kicked off as the line to even get into EC stretched around the corner. 2006 antagonist Jim Gilchrist was falsely rumored to be returning, but it turned out a fellow named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be coming instead. In response, FOX news, beacon of all that is truthful and good, interviewed everyone you’ve ever met, while folks at school protested and pontificated. And in the midst of the chaos, more chaos, as JJ’s Spicy Chicken briefly disappeared from existence. He arrived and we watched (and sometimes protested) from the lawn and liveBwogged the event from Roone. Plus, the first Problematic Graffiti of the semester was located at SIPA. Naturally, an emergency meeting was called and there was never any racist graffiti again.

(more…)

Dec

25

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Merry Christmas and happy holidays from all of us at Bwog! Were your presents not intellectually-stimulating enough? No worries! As our gift to you, we give you Bwog film connoisseur Christian Kamongi’s cinematic picks of 2007, just a little something something to casually reference in 2008.


10. The Wayward Cloud

Tsai-Ming Liang’s visceral sing-along porno was not just a moralistic polemic against a sex-ravaged culture, but also a lustrously beautiful collage of post-modern romance.

9. Zodiac

Harris Savides’ camerawork and David Fincher’s showmanship combine to illustrate an era and provide a narrative that perfectly mirrors the film’s incapacitation of traditional filmic indexicality in favor of digital analog. Unarguably the most important and influential film of the year.

8. The Boss of It All

On the outside Lars von Trier produces an office comedy filled with peculiar and off-putting Scandinavian humor. However, a closer analysis reveals a stunning testament to subjectivity even in the unfriendly realms of genre, predatory capitalism, and automatic digital editing. (more…)

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Dec

23

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bwog adDear readers,

One quick announcement before we take you on a whirlwind tour through your last four months: as of January, Juli Weiner will be taking over as Bwog editor, with support from B&W Managing Editor Katie Reedy. In the coming year, please route all your cares, complaints, praise, and sensitive information through them.

Thank you all for sticking with us. It’s been a pleasure. 

Love,

Lydia DePillis

ahmadinestuff2007 began with optimism, in the form of the class of 2011’s arrival on a newly refurbished College Walk, with Clipse to usher them in. In search of the ultimate bonding event, NSOP swapped The BlaZe for Take One: Ultimate Team Challenge.” And 2011 missed the Labyrinth era by mere days.

No sooner had first-years postered their dorm rooms did the year’s first Major Controversy arise. The news broke that part-time blogger and full-time Holacaust-denier Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would touch down later that month, with a little help from Richard Bulliet. With Jim Gilchrist a not-so-distant memory, campus exploded in a sea of mass emails, opining, protests and flyering. The old gang at Fox News stormed the gates, and Chris Kulawik emerged to welcome them back. Spectator forayed into blogging, while Bwog did the best it could with text messages and a dying laptop battery. Ultimately, the event was tame by Columbia Major Controversy standards, though Bollinger’s chastising introduction of Ahmadinejad did earn the #1 spot in Time magazine�s Most Awkward Moments of 2007 List. Mazel Tov, Lee and Mahmoud! (more…)

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Dec

22

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2007 was a great year for music, but it was an even better year for stand-up comedy albums. I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to follow modern stand-up, since Dane Cook’s ability to sell millions of albums by telling zero jokes is frustrating not only comedically, but also mathematically. (How much money per joke does he make? Calculator error!) But if you can manage to look past such injustice, the year redeems itself in fine fashion. The year’s top five follow, courtesy of Rob Trump.




4*5.
Michael Ian Black – I Am a Wonderful Man

 

Michael Ian Black is one of two Stella/The State members to release a debut stand-up album this year, and despite Michael Showalter’s superior musical ode to sandwiches, Black’s album is more consistent and an overall better effort. Both albums come somewhat closer to traditional stand-up than one might expect from members of two exceedingly strange sketch troupes, but Black does a great job of adapting his deadpan unpredictability to the format. He’s also surprisingly intelligent when he brings sarcasm to race issues. If you’re familiar with his vocal inflections from either show or from his many VH1 talking head appearances, imagine him saying this line: “The ‘white power’ crowd tend to be the disenfranchised whites, the people who don’t necessarily have all the power. So who do they blame? The rich and the powerful. In other words, the blacks and Hispanics.” It’s smart sarcastic race humor, and he does it in a much more intelligent, aware way than, say, Sarah Silverman.

4. Jen Kirkman – Self Help

 

Hey, speaking of Sarah Silverman, let’s hear it for the female comics today who are able to step out of her “Isn’t it funny that I’m a girl and saying this?” shadow and do comedy that isn’t as one-note and unfunny as a rape whistle. That is, let’s hear it for both Maria Bamford, whose album just missed my cut, and Jen Kirkman, who has a voice and style not predicated on her gender and not quite like any other comic I’ve listened to. She’s neurotic, but she parlays this into derisive jokes that are half making fun of other people and half making fun of herself for having such a mean defense mechanism. In possibly her best bit, Kirkman can’t stop thinking about easy it would be to kill some of her friends and then gets very upset at how similar she may be to an actual serial killer. I can’t capture the same effect of her rapid speech in print, but her performance deconstructing that particular neurosis is comedic gold. (more…)

May

13

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The 2006-07 school year has contained multitudes. In fact, it may just be the most eventful year Columbia’s had since… well, the year before. Remember Matthew Fox? The Chung-Diamond “scandal”? “Don’t Be a Pussy”? “Epilogue to Our Crime & Punishment: A Petition“? Bwog certainly does, so step into the Wayback machine – you’re about to relive nine months of Columbia in a single post.


addisonAugust

First-years move in. Orientation yields a legendary (to Bwog’s mind, at least) week-long burst of posting. Addison Anderson went to a bunch of bars in the name of “journalism.” Most literary post: “And now for some disorientation,” which reads like early Bret Easton Ellis, if he knew about Koronet’s. Orientation week was the best.

 
ahmad

September

Facebook went literally insane. Then calmed down somewhat. Harvard abandoned ED; Columbia did not. Columbia Football had as-yet uncrushed high hopes, later crushed. Seth Flaxman declared victory. Best villains: Zuckerberg! Murphy! Ahmadinejad! You know, one of those.

October
minutemen

Everything was coming up roses for Mark Modesitt. 1968 spirit was invoked by Jim Gilchrist. The fallout was immenseshady disciplinary letters, “news” coverage of all sorts (Jon Stewart, Fox News). Even Bwog had an opinion. But October wasn’t all about relevant television coverage of Columbia issues with high production values – we also had “The Gates”!

Best correspondence to Bwog: “Subject: terrorists. your worse then the mooselums who flew the planes into the buildings” (more…)

Nov

13

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A few first-years getting ready to register!

Procrastinating course planning until 10 mins before your registration appointment? Same. Bwog has you covered so you don’t have to make a new post in the first year Facebook group on Thursday morning.

Note: the following reviews were compiled from the Class of 2022 Facebook group and Bwog Staff members. Please actually read the course descriptions when you register for classes, as reviews are often subjective.

First Year Writing:

  • The Americas –professor is really nice, but expect to be confused by the end of class.
  • Legacy of the Mediterranean – actual review from a student about Professor Pedatella: “he will come pretty darn close to convincing you that Dante is the best thing since sliced bread.” Professor Breyer is quite academic and really, really likes John Milton.
  • Women and Culture – Hard work but super worth it if you like that kind of stuff. Class may be triggering for a lot of people though. Professor Condillac gives a lot of work and is a hard grader, but pushes you to do better. Elizabeth Auran takes you to queer off-broadway shows and invites you to her apartment for supper. Meredith Benjamin adds cool readings to the syllabus and teaches techniques for writing college-level papers.

First year seminar

  • Hot Stuff – watch Bill Nye the Science Guy and grades by completion. Need I say more?
  • Witches with Wendy Schor Haim – I love her and it’s about the concept of witches and how men tried to ruin them since the olden days.
  • Reacting to the Past – good if you like debating and making speeches; might not be the class for you if you don’t like to speak. Cardboard swords and dragons might be present in Professor Carnes’ class.
  • Language and Power – very student-led and applicable in real life. Closely linked to current events. Professor Lewis is super chill and a fair grader.
  • Taboo and Transgression – will change your life, but not for those with sensitive stomachs, though I reckon if you can Netflix the Haunting of Hill House in one seating you’ll be fine.
  • Texts of Protest – Professor Morris might not be the one for you if you aren’t self-motivated, but the topics, discussions, and community are all wonderful.
  • Tipping Points with Margaret Vanderburg – super woke and makes you feel like a nice lil intellectual.
  • Interpreting Dreams and Nightmares with Ellen Morris – lots of reading but reportedly the best teacher at this school.

Image via totally legitimate Barnard source

 

Nov

14

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Bwog’s Friday Sports Roundup is now in winter mode.

Men’s Basketball: The men’s basketball team starts its season tonight at 8 p.m. against Fordham (a fan bus leaves campus at 6:45), and then plays at Seton Hall in Newark tomorrow afternoon. Both games will be broadcast on WKCR.

The toughest challenge for the team will be replacing the departure of a talented senior class, including four starters. Replacing the experience of players like John Baumann and Ben Nwachuku will be crucial to a successful season. Seniors Joe Bova and Jason Miller will look to step up under the basket to provide the size the Lions need, although this is the first season either will be a starter. Transfer Ben Brian Grimes was supposed to play a big role as well, but he is now out for the season with a torn ACL. In the backcourt, the story is much the same, with junior Pat Foley takes over at point guard after a season where he only played 9 games due to injury. Juniors Kevin Bulger, Niko Scott, and senior K.J. Matsui look to join him there, as they look to up their minutes from last year.

In the conference itself, the Lions will look to improve upon a 7-7 finish last year, where a 3 game slide at the end prevented them from finishing a respectable third place.Columbia was picked 6th this year in the coaches poll, ahead of Dartmouth and Princeton, but, with Yale, Harvard, and Brown all looking to rebuild as well, Columbia definitely has room to continue rising. As for the title, most people’s heavy favorites for the title are Cornell, last year’s champions who return most of the same team, including last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, junior Louis Dale. Their most likely challengers are Penn, who have last year’s Rookie of the Year, Tyler Bernadini. (more…)

Nov

16

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As you could probably tell from the masses of snow-covered students crowding the lobby of John Jay last night, Columbia Dining hosted their annual Thanksgiving Feast this Thursday in John Jay Dining Hall. One Bwogger decided to attend this event solo yolo, using this opportunity to try some new foods, see some new sights, gain some new experiences, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, make some new friends through sheer willpower. This is her story.

When I arrived in the lobby of John Jay on time, I was surprised by how many people showed up and how excited they were for the event despite the winter storm Niko 2.0 raging outside. Though there were so many people crowding the space, the Dining staff, wearing Thanksgiving Feast T-shirts, were incredibly helpful in pointing people to the correct direction and quickly checking students in. After students checked in, a staff member would show each party – even me, a party of one – to their respective table, which made the experience very personable.

After shown to my table, I found that the table, covered in a dark tablecloth, was really nicely set. I was particularly struck by the fact that the water was served in literal blue-tinted glass bottles and by the very beautiful silverware (not gonna lie, I was kinda tempted to take some of it home with me). Blue cloth napkins were folded neatly in the stem glasses, and the menu, printed on cardstock, looked delish.


So what did the actual food taste like?

Nov

10

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Several Bwoggers attended the Friday night premiere of The Pale Blue’s Once Upon a Fortnight in the Lerner Black Box. It was a laugh-out-loud show with a lot of promise, but plagued by script and production issues. Arts Editor Riva Weinstein gives her thoughts.

As we enter the Lerner Black Box, we’re handed programs with a picture of a leaping ballerina. The title reads DUCK SWAMP: A New Opera. In full tuxedo, Brent Morden (CC ’19) enters the stage, lifting his arms to the audience. “This is an opera, didn’t you all know?” he warbles. “A serious opera.” The pit swells. With a sudden thud, his co-writer, Daniel Treatman (GS/JTS ’20) collapses onto the stage. It’s murder!

Not, in fact, a ballet by brilliant composers Seymour Butz and Annie Position, the Pale Blue’s Once Upon a Fortnight is an original musical that parodies the noir detective genre. In the mid-80’s, the mayor of New York City is found murdered. Police Commissioner Bruce Fort (Reuben Rahmeyer, SEAS ‘21) recruits his ex-partner in the detective game, Gordon Fine (Robert Willard, CC ’20), to solve the killing. Fine himself gets help from two unpaid interns, Judy (Alexandra Kapilian, CC ‘20) and Rudy (Jonathan Kapilian, SEAS ‘20). While Fine works on the case (or rather, flirts with Fort’s daughter), Fort is encouraged by his secretary Connie (Isobel Obrecht, BC ‘22) to run for mayor himself. Despite the lack of actual detective work, they eventually solve the case by running straight into the barrel of the killer’s gun. (The killer’s banana. The guns are bananas.)

(more…)

Nov

9

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Staff Writer Jake Tibbetts recently joined Staff Writer Danielle Mikaelian on a trip to Atlas Kitchen, the new Chinese restaurant located at 109th St. Though the service wasn’t everything that the two of them had hoped for, they both believe that the institution has quite a bit of potential—and one hell of a brilliant menu.

It takes a lot to get me to walk past 110th St. Even 109th, where the new upscale Chinese restaurant Atlas Kitchen is located, feels like a world away. When I began to notice glowing reviews of Atlas Kitchen pour in on Yelp, though, I knew that it was going to be necessary for me to try it out.

On Thursday, November 8th, I joined fellow staff writer Danielle Mikaelian for dinner at Atlas. As we walked in, we were immediately greeted by a whirlwind of appetizing aromas. We were told that we were going to need to wait about twenty minutes to be seated—just about what we expected—and we sat down near the bar. We took some time to take in the atmosphere, which can best be described as simple yet elegant. The walls were adorned with black watercolor murals, and the furniture looked as though it were lifted from a high-end New American establishment downtown.

Upon sitting down at our table, Danielle and I were greeted by a server, who filled our glasses with water. We then ordered almost immediately. To begin, I ordered the sour and spicy black and white fungus, while Danielle went with the (appropriately named, given who was doing the ordering) dan dan noodle dish. We ordered our entrées at the same time: I had the two peppers sliced beef with peanuts, and Danielle ordered the special sautéed sliced eggplant. Both main dishes were served with small bowls of white rice.

i smell like beef

Almost immediately, we began to notice issues with service. My beef entrée arrived far before anything else did. After fifteen minutes or so, the fungus and the noodles, meant to be appetizers, arrived. It took about another half hour for Danielle’s eggplant to arrive. When it did arrive, we noticed that it wasn’t the dish that she ordered; she was given the sautéed eggplant with egg yolk instead. When we finished our meals, we waited about a half hour before we realized that no one intended to give us our check. We had to tap another server on the shoulder and ask if he could bring it to us. What was supposed to be a fairly quick two-course meal took us over two hours to work our way through. Furthermore, when we received the check, we quickly noticed that there was only one, despite the fact that we asked to split the bill as soon as we sat down. I understand that all new restaurants have some trouble with delivering great service, and I do believe that Atlas will get better as time goes on; I do have to say, though, that this put a bit of a damper on my entire dining experience.

Luckily, though, the food was, for the most part, marvelous. The beef dish was absolutely exquisite. Though it wasn’t as warm as I would have liked, the beef had a perfect texture—it almost seemed to liquidize as soon as it hit my tongue. The peppers added a kick that forced me to down my entire glass of water multiple times, and the peanuts added a crunch that paired quite well with the tender beef. The sauce that the beef was cooked in was a tad sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. Though I hate to order the same dish more than once, I could see myself getting this again if I were to return.

More thoughts and photos after the jump!

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 the 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 8 PM or tomorrow at 7 PM. 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

12

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A Barnard alum couldn’t do it, but maybe these students can

Although many are still bristling from Cynthia Nixon’s (BC ’87) loss in the primaries – meaning a likely four more years in office for Governor Andrew Cuomo and his notoriously broken MTA – her legacy, and promise to repair the subway, have not been forgotten at her alma mater. Last night, Barnard and Columbia’s all-female improv group took Cuomo to task at the Glicker-Milstein Theatre with their first performance of the year. To a packed house, the students explored such familiar topics as Tinder dates, prom memories, and skeletons.

Improv is really hard. Control Top made it look easy. The students did a very good job of making something out of nearly nothing – all they had to work with were two stools and one word to inform their scenes  – and the somethings were hilarious. The cohesion among Control Top’s members resulted in smooth scene transitions and fantastic rapport, showcasing the hard work each student puts into their performance.

The scenes moved across the time, with scenes referencing both Banksy’s self-destructive tendencies and King Arthur. The characters played ranged from typical suburban families to advertising execs to Columbia Econ majors. Many scenes had great moments of physical comedy and visual gags as well as more conventional jokes that drew a lot of laughs from the audience. The reviewer would like to give a shoutout to Cooking With Bwog mastermind Cara Hudson-Erdman (BC ’21), but every member shined on that dimly-lit stage.

Control Top has two more performances planned this semester, on 11/10 and 12/13. 

Sep

27

img September 27, 20181:00 pmimg 0 Comments

This looks like “Dear Evan Hansen” meets “The Shining”

Proving Up is a new opera from Opera Omaha written by Missy Mazzoli (music) and Royce Vavrek (libretto). Wednesday the 26th marked its New York premiere (a second performance on Friday the 28th is already sold out).

(Your humble correspondent had never seen an opera in his life before tonight, so if you thought this was the greatest thing since sliced avocado, chalk it up to that.)

Kicking off the Miller Theatre’s 30th season is Proving Up, a dark new opera centered on the Zegner family’s hardships and efforts to get a deed to their land under the Homestead Act in post-Civil War Nebraska. After five brutal years, and the deaths of the two Zegner girls (played by Abigail Nims and Cree Carrico), the rumor comes out that a federal inspector is coming to hand out grants. the family is desperate to finally “prove up” and firmly establish themselves in their new, western home. However, those seeking land must meet the Homestead Act’s strict requirements first- the main issue for many poor farmers in the rural hinterland being the requirement that every house must have a glass window. (Spoilers ahead.)

This the Zegners have, thanks to Johannes (AKA Pa, played by John Moore) and their neighbors, the Yotherses, who “proved up” and got their land deed the previous year. However, the Yotherses then mysteriously vanish, leaving no trace except for a field of “queer little trees” that are variously described as looking like crosses, ivory, or human bones (cheerful!). Pa takes their window, since they’re not using it. In the present, hearing rumors of an approaching inspector, the Zegners hatch a scheme to share the window with their neighbors so everyone can prove up. Miles (played by Michael Slattery) is forced to act as the window’s courier after older brother Peter (played by Sam Shapiro) injures himself and has to be tended to by Ma (played by Talise Trevigne). His dead sisters float around, generally acting creepy.

More spookiness after the jump

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