Happy Holidays From CUIT, Brought to You by MSPaint

Bwog kindly asks you to forget about our own terrible experience with graphic design for the next two minutes while we rail on someone else for embarrassing design in order to release our finals aggression.

For those of you who haven’t been frantically checking SSOL for your grades, the login page is currently splashed with a gigantic holiday well-wishing from CUIT. The department is apparently staffed with tech geeks from the ’80s, since the design is approximately 100% clip art and eerily reminiscent of CubMail.

While we appreciate the sentiment, CUIT, could you at least have spent a few more than 5 minutes on your “2012_holiday_card.jpg”?  Maybe throw some gifs in there?  Or a video like when we got our online acceptances?  Better yet, why not a lovely picture of the whole team in ugly holiday sweaters? Then you’d at least be hip with the kids.  We love that you’re sending us these cheery vibes, but it’ll take a lot more than that image to brighten this season.

If finals have you too lazy to hyperlink yourself to SSOL, enjoy the offending holiday spirit:

Usher in the Holidays and be a Good Person!

Tonight, from 7:30 to 9:30 PM in the John Jay Lounge, CCSC ’14 is hosting an event that’ll fill your heart and your stomach. This is for students of all years though!

There will be free cookies and hot chocolate for everyone, as well as gingerbread houses to decorate, paper snowflakes to cut, and stocking stuffer bags to make.

Everything made during the study break will be used at the holiday party for children of homeless and low-income families.

All we want for Christmas (or whatever holiday floats your boat) is you there!

Boringside: Holiday Cheer!

Shops all over our wonderful neighborhood are already preparing for the spirit of the holidays. We went around and took some pics!

Bwoglines: Animal Planet Edition

A gratuitous laughing panda for your viewing pleasure

Ivy League schools are under fire for animal abuse in their laboratories. Try to treat the subject of your next dissection with a little more kindness, k? (SFGate)

Working Muppets of All Countries, Unite! (Slate)

Thanks to some mice, we’re one step closer to developing a vaccine against the Ebola virus.

NYPD officers are in hot water for their Facebook comments about the West Indian American Day Parade: “They called people ‘animals’ and ‘savages.’ One comment said, ‘Drop a bomb and wipe them all out.’” (NYT)

According to some fancy film formula, Gremlins is, on average, the highest-grossing, best-received holiday film since 1981. (The Atlantic)

A Chuckling Ailuropoda melanoleuca via Wikimedia Commons

Merry Christmas, Planet Columbia!

We hope your Christmas morning isn’t like this. Sleep late, be happy, eat Chinese food (we are!), etc. It’s been a long semester.

What We Want for Christmas

Bwog asked some of our favorite people what they want for Christmas (“Happy Holidays is what terrorists say”).

  • Sir Mike of Carman Hall: “Life.”
  • Elizabeth from the Hartley Hospitality Desk wants a semester in Istanbul.
  • Amy from HamDel wants “maybe flowers,” and asked Bwog what we want for the holidays.
  • Zak of BwogWeather wants to go to Canada this summer with Pat and Jasmine, for my parents to condone me devoting my time in Hong Kong to becoming a deadly assassin and martial arts expert, 4 new pairs of boxers and matching socks, and the rest of my time at Columbia to be as fuckin’ sweet as this last semester.
  • Pat of BwogWeather wants everyone at Columbia to know how special they are. I love hearing how people are making a difference at our school and in the world … it really is amazing to see such talented people brought together in one place. Sure we can joke about hating school, but I really love seeing people in action. Everyone here is so enthusiastic and so passionate about what they do. I really hope everyone realizes this and doesn’t stress about finals.
  • Gareth Williams said, “Well, nothing. I already have everything I want,” as he smiled and shrugged with his hands in his overcoat pockets.
  • Karen the Librarian: “Same thing I want every day–for more undergraduates to come let us show them how we can make their lives easier!”
  • Benny, Hewitt grillmaster would like your [our Bwogger's] love. And a nice sweater.
  • Gerry Visco: “Huh…nothing. Well, actually for people to stop saying shit about me on the internet.  I already get enough of that.  Or maybe some clothes.  Or if you have a crazy costume, drop it off.”

XMAS! 5! Reviewed!

It was like this

Bwog’s Holiday Cheer Leader Peter Sterne reports.

As the first snowfall (flurries don’t count) of the year descended into Morningside Heights last night, students gathered on the Lerner Ramps and outside Roone, eager to see the latest edition of XMAS!, the VShow-like student-run musical that’s been satirizing the holiday season for the last five years. When the audience was finally let into Roone, they found the speakers blared the Maccabeats’ “Candlelight.” It was an interesting introduction to a show that spent the next two hours poking fun at corporate culture, hipsters, Jews, gays, and New Jersey, before tying it all up with the saccharine moral that XMAS is for everyone and it will always be around.

The show begins in a boardroom in XMAS, Inc., where recently hired hotshot executive William (Andrew Wright, CC ’14) is upstaging power-mad CEO Thurston Wallace I (Thomas Spry, CC ’14), who bought Christmas from Santa Claus back in the 1980s. Spry channels Jacobim Mugatu more than Gordon Gekko in his portrayal of Thurston, and the camp he brings to his character’s prima-donna personality and deliciously evil scheming are a delight to watch onstage. Once he decides that William may be a threat, he forces his poor elf assistant, Sprinkles (the phenomenal Emily Wallen, BC ’11), to lure him to a warehouse in Hoboken.

Though she’s only a supporting actor, Wallen is really the heart and soul of this play. She shines during the musical performances, effortlessly able to command the stage during a solo. More importantly, she brings an endearing awkward schtick to her character Sprinkles, who’s torn between her good conscience and the realities of working for XMAS, Inc. Surely, some of Sprinkles’ charm comes courtesy of brilliant writers (“What else can I do? Merrill Lynch isn’t exactly hiring elves and I can’t join the military because of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Telf!’”). But it is Wallen’s delivery that brings her character alive. Even when she tricks William and  locks him the Hoboken warehouse, the audience remains sympathetic to her plight. (more…)

HolidayHop: Eid ul-Fitr Edition

In our newest feature, HolidayHop, Bwog will explain religious holidays so you don’t have to pretend to understand them.

Early this morning, the first of Shawwal, the tenth month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims across the world awoke for the fajr, the pre-dawn prayers. Then, for the first time in 30 days (since the start of Ramadan, the month of dawn-to-dusk fasting and abstinence), they will eat in the light of day.  This light meal—usually in keeping with prophetic tradition it will involve something sweet, often dates—is the first act of celebration of Eid ul-Fitr (roughly translated, the festivity of the conclusion of the fast).

Eid Mubarak! Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Eid, as it is more commonly known (although not to be confused with the longer Eid al-Adha), is a complex and rich holiday, but to brutally encapsulate its celebrations and remembrances, it is a day of thanksgiving—thanks for the health and strength and faith to complete the fast—and a day of renewed faith, forgiveness for past grudges, and the wishing of Allah’s blessing upon all. Yet for all its importance, it is a day most Americans have trouble recalling as, like all the Muslim holy days, it is calculated by a lunar calendar not in sync with our own. The sighting of the new moon marking the beginning of the new month of Shawwal, which was spotted last night, ends the Ramadan observances.

Believers, dressed in new clothing of the best they can muster, congregate in a field, a community center, or a mosque for the Eidsalah/salat/namaz (whatever one’s culture calls it), special prayers marking the day. The prayers are followed by a khutbah, a sermon instructing the faithful on items to keep in mind, such as rituals and instructions on the paying of zakat (alms). As with any day of thanksgiving, the giving of alms and service to those less fortunate is an essential component of observance. This year, most of these gifts will inevitably be directed towards the suffering millions in Pakistan.

After prayer and sermon, families withdraw to homes or community centers for a large celebration (food, fireworks, the whole shebang) with family, friends, and acquaintances. Gifts are given to children, usually in the form of sweets, which are generally quite copious at these celebrations (as there is actually an Islamic injunction against fasting on Eid, why not celebrate the bounty?). While American Muslims typically take the day off for Eid, the celebrations often carry over into the weekend, carrying with it the sense of thanks and spiritual awareness that breaks upon the ummah (the community of the faithful) with the Shawwal moon.

Bwog hopes that the Muslim community of Columbia is celebrating this day with family and friends.

Eid Mubarak!

Guide to the Weekend: ‘Tis the Season

Bwog wishes you all a happy holiday weekend before finals start!


World’s Largest Menorah Lighting – In celebration of Hannukah, the lighting will continue nightly at the same time, except for Friday at 3:45.

5pm, 5th Ave at 59th St, in front of the Plaza Hotel.


Caroling at the Morgan – the Morgan Library & Museum hosts singers from Mannes and the New School

6:30pm – 8:30pm, The Morgan Library, 225 Madison Ave

Gingerbread Display – Le Meridien Hotel hosts this gingerbread house extravaganza, featuring creations made by New York bakeries. $1 buys you a vote for your favorite, with all proceeds going to City Harvest.

Le Meridien Hotel, 119 West 56th St between 6th and 7th Aves



AskBwog: What is Canadian Thanksgiving?

While we’re down here celebrating Columbus’s discovery of the New World and decrying the subsequent effects on indigenous people, our neighbors to the North are celebrating something a little different. No, Ithaca didn’t get a Chipotle yet… it’s Canadian Thanksgiving!

Every second Monday of October since 1957, Canadians have been gathering ’round to give thanks to the harvest of the year before. Although the official declaration by the Canadian Parliament stipulated that the day was to be a day of “Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed,” today many observe it as a secular holiday.

And yes, Canadians do eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and the Canadian Football League holds a Thanksgiving Day Classic as well. Many who observe this holiday speak English and bring their families together, and it can only be surmised that the color palette of the whole day is a mix of orange, brown, and mustard yellow.

So there isn’t much of a difference between American and Canadian Thanksgiving, eh? Nope… we’re just assuming one is aboot a few degrees cooler (in Celsius, of course).

Image via Flickr

A Snowy, Secular CUIT Slideshowgram

A few tipsters have informed us that CourseWorks is now host to Columbia’s annual nondenominational seasons greeting slideshow! O, happy day. Let’s check out this year’s offering, hm? 


A few rather dreary pictures of a snowy Central Park (see above) and then a non-exclamation-marked wish of “happy holidays.” Well, Bwog certainly prefers last year’s fancy alumni-only video animation thing, in which a student drew a lion that came to life and spread joy or somesuch.

O Tannenbaum

 This weekend, Bwog ventured into the heart of Brooklyn to find the best and the bushiest of  the pinus genus.  If you know of any noteworthy XMAS tree purveyors around town, please let us know in the comment section below.

Last week, Bwog posted a list of “Things We’re Looking Forward To,”, which at the time seemed like a romanticized montage of normal life.   But this week, Bwog hopes to find you fulfilling fantasy by sitting in front of a fire, standing “in-line,” eating free home-cooked food, hanging out with high school friends and enjoying many, any or all of the other activities on the list. 

Fortunately the aforementioned activities are relatively self-explanatory, but one of the more popular activities on the list, trimming the Christmas tree, is decidedly more difficult for those of us in the city and away from home for the holidays for the first time.


How To Make Your Life Seem Worthwhile Until Finals

Columbia, welcome to no man’s land.

For the next two weeks, life will most likely not be fun. You are stuck in the in-between holiday purgatory, having just left home and not far from returning. You must somehow fit what now seems like a lifetime of paper-writing and furious studying into this short amount of time.

Bwog isn’t really going to suggest you do anything during finals week except sigh loudly, complain with your friends and have occasional nervous breakdowns, but until the second week of December, we suggest that you punctuate your finals-induced misery with one or a few of the many lovely free mostly-holiday-themed events taking place in our fair city. A full listing after the jump.


Black Friday (Not the Stock Market Kind) Hits Manhattan
Shoppers thronging the streets outside of Macy’s

Someone’s going bankrupt Friday—either you, because you scraped the bottom of your bank account taking advantage of sharply reduced prices, or the nation’s retail stores, because their discounts couldn’t reverse months of slumping sales.

Whatever happens in the final accounting, the crowds out shopping Friday in Manhattan were horrendous. 

Many stores opened at 5 a.m. to hordes of bargain-hungry shoppers pouncing on deals like Butler Library pigeons on bagel scraps, and the flagship Macy’s in Herald Square was no exception.

Photos and more after the jump.


Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Holiday spirit is being trucked into the city today, in the form of that huge Rockefeller Center tree. (The tree lighting will be on December 3rd.) Urban forestry photojournalist Sumeet Shah is on the scene at an extremely high vantage point.

More pictures after the jump and throughout the day.