TFMS Film Series Punches Out with "The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter"

On Monday, November 11, the Department of Theater, Film, and Media Studies concluded their seventh annual film series with the third and final installment, titled Toil and Trouble: The Reel History of Working Women with the crown jewel of the series: two-time Academy Award nominee Connie Fields’ 1980 classic, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter.

After a brief introduction by Professor Joanne Klein, Connie Fields introduced her film with a disclaimer that because the film was made 33 years ago, it was made on 16 millimeter film and therefore would not be the same quality we are all used to seeing. Her warning had no basis, however, because the audience enjoyed itself just as much as if the film had been made in IMAX 3D.

The film combined archival footage with a series of interviews with five working women who essentially “were” the ideal of Rosie the Riveter: hardworking women with husbands, families, or fiances who worked in factories or shipyards during the day and still cared for the family and home at night. The blatant injustices done to these women, especially women of color, and the ways these women were portrayed in the archival footage brought out bursts of shocked laughter and scoffs of incredulity.

One interviewee stated simply that after the war, women were laid off first, then black men, and then some white workers; this hierarchy is essentially the theme of the movie and elicited reactions from the audience ranging from laughter to gasps of shock and horror. Another woman interviewed described how both she and her brother-in-law would work in the factories all day, but while her brother-in-law would put his feet up and relax at the end of the day, she was expected to help her mother-in-law cook and clean.

Most of the archival footage was blatant propaganda intended to empower women into taking jobs in these factories. This was then juxtaposed with the other propaganda films, which encouraged women to give up their jobs as soon as the men came home from war. The interviews also revealed that attempts to unionize and gain rights would result in attempted firings and blatant guilting from employers who essentially called the would-be-unions “unpatriotic.”

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter is an excellent film that focuses on how World War II factory workers’ race and gender resulted in extreme differences in pay and treatment. Interesting, entertaining, and extremely informative, the film is definitely worth a watch.

Fast With Me: Raising Awareness for Climate Change

I’m in Warsaw, Poland right now for COP19, year 19 of the of UN climate talks.  The talks started on Nov. 11 this year, immediately following the devastating landfall of super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. On the first day of the talks, traditionally reserved for long thank you speeches, Philippine lead negotiator Yeb Saño begged those present to “stop this madness” and announced that he would fast “until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

About 10,000 people were given credentials to COP19.  This conference occurs on an inhuman scale – it’s beyond any one person’s ability to understand.  I’m not convinced that any one of these ten thousand people understands everything that’s happening here.  A rich nation’s negotiator admitted to my friend that no one person on their delegation understood everything that was happening, though all together they had a decent idea.

COP happens because we haven’t yet solved the problem of climate change.  People are dying, and people are suffering because of that – most recently, in the Philippines because of super typhoon Haiyan.  Every year we fail again to make meaningful change is a year where we let the storms get worse and the body counts climb. Climate change is a painfully human problem.

That’s easy to forget in Warsaw, at the conference’s stadium with ten thousand other people.  According to the Executive Secretary, when we enter the stadium we enter “UN territory.”  So here we are, 10,000 in international territory – whatever that means – trying address a human issue.

If the UN climate talks are a way to make the storms stop getting worse, to make sure that the next Haiyan or the next Sandy kill or displace as few people as possible, then they are one of the most important things in the world. Nobody could, in good conscience, oppose the progress of the talks because that would and does cause homes to get destroyed and lives to be changed or ended. But this conference happens on an inhuman scale. We drown in policies and acronyms and “solutions.” Here in international territory, it’s hard to remember the human consequences of our actions.

This is why Saño’s fast is so powerful.   His fast reminds us of the people who don’t have food in the Philippines.  His fast reminds us of the humanity of climate change.  His fast reminds us at COP what’s at stake. I think a lot of people forget what’s at stake here, what’s at stake with climate.  I’m fasting to make sure I remember.  I’m fasting because I want to help other people remember. You can too; fast with us. Fast with us and tell your friends, your family to donate to the relief effort in the Philippines.  Fast with us and remind them what’s at stake as our climate changes.  Fast with us, what else is there to do in the face of this inhumanity? If you fast, please let us know – bit.ly/FastForTheClimate

To donate to relief efforts – tinyurl.com/unicefhaiyan

Students Travel the World with the Cultural Dance Show

This past weekend, the newly founded Cultural Dance Club took St. Mary’s around the World with a variety of dances from all over the globe, with two showings on Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th in the recreational courts of the ARC.

The show began to the tune of The Proclaimers: “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), as President Jessica Chen packed her suitcase with the other club officers to travel from the U.S, to Jamaica, Israel, India and China by song and dance. The first dance consisted of an American swing dance to “Lindyhopper’s Delight” under Americana lighting, followed by the Jamaican Basket Dance. Third was an upbeat Israeli Circle and Line Dance, in which the audience clapped along to “Hine Ma Tov”. Shortly after the Intermission was a Bollywood Dance followed by a Chinese Ribbon Dance to complete the audiences journey. To wrap up the show, the club pulled about half the audience on stage and perfomed a Pop Culture Mash up of pop songs from around the world from “Cupid Shuffle” to “Don’t Stop the Party”.

Overall, the show had a great turn out for their first performance with a full set of bleachers on their opening night. The best part about this showcase was that it truly embodied an array of cultural dances. Not only was the show able to provide a worldly presentation to the students and visitors of St. Mary’s, but it also allowed students from a variety of cultural backgrounds to share their talent and embrace ethnic traditions with a new perspective.

Vegetarian Options at the Great Room are Lacking

When many St. Mary’s students think of vegetarianism, memories flood back to the absolutely authoritarian regime that was Meatless Mondays. The violation of many students’ rights as corn fed, beef-eating, cholesterol-inducing Americans to eat as much meat as is provided to them was a mass travesty by those who want to see the American Dream die. This type of sentiment, as overly exaggerated as it is here, has put a hamper on the various programs that might have promoted meat-free options within the Great Room, even though there are vegetarians on campus who did not and would not support measures like Meatless Mondays.

As a result of this, there are still limited options for those who do not eat meat. It would be dishonest not to acknowledge the existence of the salad bar, vegetarian section, and the infrequent times where the international section is vegetarian friendly. This does not equate, however, to a multitude of options for vegetarians. While there is food for vegetarians to eat every day, that does not mean that many want to eat the same “Crispy Tofu” dish for the third time this week.

There has been a distinct lack of variety in the options that I, and many other vegetarians, have to eat on campus. For example, during the lunch cycle of the Great Room’s new schedule, the sushi bar has, seemingly, been reoccurring the most out of any other dish. While there are various options for the meat-eaters, such as the “Baltimore Roll” or the “Smoked Salmon Roll”, there has consistently been the same roll for vegetarians every time the sushi bar is used. Many dishes for the vegetarian line reoccur such as the “Crispy Tofu” or the meat-less chorizo with peppers. While I find these dishes to be good in their own right, having them three times a week does not make them any better.

The repetition of many of the vegetarian options in the Great Room leads to vegetarians, such as myself, to feel as though “vegetarian” means steamed vegetables or rice to many of those who decide what is to be cooked. While beans are very nutritious, they have made an appearance twelve times throughout the Great Room, especially in the vegetarian section, on the days of November 11 through the 15. In the same week, potatoes were served nine times and vegetarian rice dishes were served thirteen times. Many other dishes served in the vegetarian section are some combination of vegetables either steamed with no type of seasoning or stewed together.

This lack of variety has made some vegetarians, such as myself, go to different sources for food on campus. In the Pub there are seven vegetarian options and only one vegan option. These options include a salad and a hummus platter, which are available the Great Room. At the Grab-and-Go there are two “main” options for the vegetarians which are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or the hummus sandwich.

There are various ways to incorporate meatless options. During Meatless Mondays one fact was clear, there was a variety in the choices for those who went to Great Room. This demonstration of meatless variety last year would lead one to assume that it would be possible for those who decided the menu for the Great Room to put some, if not all, of the dishes used then into the rotation for the vegetarian section. Another option to increase the amount of vegetarian friendly options would be to switch out the pizza section for a pasta bar, like the one that usually appears around once a week. There are many vegetarian options that could come from having the pasta bar as a constant presence in the Great Room. This change also would allow those who eat meat to enjoy the pasta bar more often. In my experience, the pasta bar has been a popular option for almost every person in the Great Room, much more than the pizza bar.

As for the Grab-and-Go, the menu already had vegetarian options such as a mozzarella and tomato sandwich on their menu at the beginning of the year. To implement these options would greatly increase the variety there. The Pub has made more progress on this front in that they have added new vegetarian options recently to the menu: “Tacos Non Carne” and the “Spicy Black Bean Burger.” I would encourage the Pub to keep increasing the amount of meat free options on their menu.

Many of us would acknowledge that Bon Appetit is fully capable of providing more vegetarian options in the Great Room and elsewhere, I just feel like Bon Appetit is not living up to what it is capable of.

Cove Point Project Fuels Environmental Fears

On Wednesday, Nov. 6, as part of their two-week long Maryland Crossroads Tour, representatives from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network hosted a townhall-style meeting in St. Mary’s Hall with students and members of the community. Held in partnership with the College’s Student Environmental Action Committee (SEAC), the meeting was designed to raise awareness regarding the efforts of Dominion Energy to create an export processing plant for liquefied natural gas on the peninsula of Cove Point in Calvert County. The event opened by recognizing local leaders in the climate fight, including SEAC’s Ruth Tyson (a junior) and Nicole Zimmerman (a senior), before moving on to a presentation on the harmful effects of the proposed Cove Point LNG plant.

The operations of Dominion Energy in Maryland have already been quite controversial in the past, with one of their attempts to build a natural gas compressor station in the Frederick County town of Myersville being heavily protested as an eyesore and much too close to a local elementary school. This latest business model is far more wide-sweeping, and if enacted, would allow Maryland to become a regional leader in energy export, selling chilled and liquefied natural gas to India via container ship. This gas, extracted in Appalachia, would of course have to be passed through Maryland along pipelines and processed in a coastal region for transport.

While the tax dollars, investment, and jobs that Dominion Energy promises to bring to Maryland are appealing to some (notably construction unions and various lawmakers), the Chesapeake Climate Action Network cautioned in their townhall meeting that we should not overlook the negative consequences. Such a plant would cause a vast upswing in fossil fuel emissions, spur additional fracking, and not help the United States gain energy independence. They argued that the cost of this new energy infrastructure would be better spent promoting clean, proven alternatives, such as wind power plants off the coast of Ocean City.

At the end of the meeting, paper and envelopes were passed out to the attendees, who were encouraged to write to Governor Martin O’Malley in protest of the Cove Point LNG plant. Students and community members alike were encouraged to take action in whatever way they could, with the representatives from the Climate Action Network explaining that there were many potential ways for people to get involved, given the number of approval steps any such business program would have to go through at the state and local levels.

The White Room Presents a Rocky Horror Shadowcast

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is perhaps one of the most ridiculous movies ever made, and it is made even more ridiculous by its audience; yes, this is surprisingly possible. Whenever there is a large enough audience, in a large enough theater, the audience shouts at the screen well-known (and not so well-known) call lines. The movie becomes nothing but background noise as the audience fills in the lines with words and phrases that range from relatively innocent to completely offensive (though tilting more toward the latter side of the spectrum) while singing along with bizarre verses.

On Friday, Nov. 15, and Saturday, Nov. 16, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was shown in Cole Cinema, at 7p.m. on both days. The Friday showing was a normal screening, with call sheets distributed so the audience could all yell together. However, the showing on Saturday night included a shadow cast. Members of the White Room put on costumes to match the actors’ costumes in the movie, and danced and lip synced along in front of the screen. Overall, the show was very entertaining. There were no call sheets, but enough people called back that it didn’t matter much, though some people definitely made up the lines they were shouting.

As someone who has never seen a screening of Rocky Horror done with a shadow cast, this was a completely different experience. I have seen Rocky Horror before. When I was a first-year, there were call lines, and even props, provided, and I have been to showings since then, but I have never seen live actors performing it as well. This performance, directed by first-year Carol Lowe, had actors running up and down the aisles, in and out of Cole Cinema’s doors, and even through the audience. There was audience interaction beyond call lines, including dancing in their seats, and interacting with the actors as they ran through.

The most exciting part of the show was having the actors in front of the screen. Seeing Dr. Frank-N-Furter on screen (played by Tim Curry) and off screen (played by sophomore Simone Levine) added a new element to the experience. Not only could the audience participate with the actors on the screen, but they could be part of the action, sitting where the live actors were moving around. None of the actors were shy about entering the audience (whether it was aisles or the seats) and making them feel as though they were part of what was going on. I have never seen a White Room performance before tonight, and I have no regrets. This show was fun, engaging, and, all-in-all, completely worth seeing.

Development of Environmental Studies Major Boosts Sustainable Image

Environmental Studies has been a popular minor on campus which attracts students from a variety of majors. It seems that the Environmental Studies program will be gaining even more popularity in the coming years, as an Environmental Studies major was recently drafted and created here at St. Mary’s. This addition to the college’s academic catalog hopes to aid the school in fulfilling the value of “environmental stewardship” declared in SMCM’s mission statement.

Evan Kelley, SGA Vice President, sponsored the resolution to create an Environmental Studies major. He says “we [the SGA] vouched our support because we thought students would like to see an Environmental Studies major in the future.”

The SGA supported the creation of this major for three reasons, according to the SGA resolution. Firstly, Environmental Studies is a popular minor on campus. Additionally, the resolution states that prospective students “may be more interested in applying to St. Mary’s if the minor is expanded.” Lastly, this new major would be in agreement with St. Mary’s commitment to the environment and liberal arts.

And correct they were. Junior Meredith Davitt was talking to a prospective student about coming to St. Mary’s. He asked many question but truly “got excited when [she] told him that they were creating this major” says Davitt. With recent admissions issues, this new and attractive major will potentially encourage prospective students to apply to St. Mary’s.

So why now? Kelley says “there was a lot of support from faculty and from President Newbould.” The minor went under external review recently and expansion was encouraged. The current minor chair, Professor of Biology Bill Williams, and Professor of Economics Alan Dillingham, the Faculty Senate Chair, also show support of this major.

Requirements for the major have yet to be determined, but its creation is underway. The program should be fully established and running within a few semesters.

Karen Wood, a junior, was a little late on the creation of this new major, so she just made her own. Wood is an Environmental Education major. She says her unique major “loosely follows the environmental and education minors, but has additional courses in psychology,philosophy, TFMS, and English.” Like many SMCM students, Wood has always been passionate about the environment so when she “decided on St. Mary’s [she] was under the impression the school was big on environmental issues and would have a nice selection of classes.” With the minor, smaller selections of classes were offered than Wood expected. She says “designing the major was the best option for me because I was able to fuse my love for teaching with my love for the environment and create a program that allows me to follow what I am passionate about.”

That is what St. Mary’s is all about, finding and fulfilling a passion whether it be theater, physics, literature, nature, dance, or biology. Finally, future students who are passionate about the environment will be able to major in Environmental Studies.

I'm Just Saying: Creativity is Easier Than You Think

This coming November 22, for many of us, will be a day for somber reflection, as it marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination.  However, this date also commemorates the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia and the 100th birthday of one of England’s greatest composers, Benjamin Britten.  Musing on those two happy occasions has inspired me to consider one of the greatest qualities of being human—creativity.

The images we generally conjure when we think of a creative act may fall into several categories.  There is the tortured artist, struggling to summon inspiration from a fickle muse.  Or there is the effortlessly brilliant creator, spontaneously bringing works to life.  There are the pathfinders, discovering answers to questions no one thought to ask, or the iconoclasts stunning us with their audacity.  It’s easy to think of creativity as this mysterious substance, provided to a talented few that astonish or appall us with what they do with it.

When called upon to use our own imaginations, are we sometimes reluctant, believing that our efforts would pale in comparison to those of “real artists?”  Yet, as I walk around the campus, and I get to know more and more members of the St. Mary’s community, what I find striking is how richly creative we are.  Consider the gallimaufry of outfits we wear, the mashup of colors and textures that delight the eye (and sometimes puzzle the mind).  Consider the astonishing array of clubs, activities, programs that take place night and day—and given the broad participation in them, it appears that we do!

How to define creativity?  I don’t believe it is an elusive concept, but it can be described a number of ways.  Pursuing a creative idea could be like a treasure hunt, where you exert energy and single-mindedness to capture a glittering prize.  Or it may be like fitting pieces to a puzzle, the overall shape of which may be unknown until it is assembled.  Sometimes it feels like being submerged in a warm, fragrant bath, where pleasant notions flow over and through you.  Sometimes a creative act results in a tangible object, or a concrete experience.  More often, creativity is found in the journey more than in the destination.  We may think of the creative act as an individual effort, springing from an inner necessity to express what is felt inside.  However, I can also see creativity as a shared experience, depending on our ability to interact and collaborate.

I find that, by engaging with brilliant works of art, I can liberate my own creativity.  Whether it is looking deeply at the paintings of Kandinsky, rocking to the rhythms of Langston Hughes’ poetry, or performing the choral music of Britten, I feel as a kindred spirit to these artists.  I am not a passive receptacle, but a participant in the creative impulse.  In our encounters with creative works, we, in turn, become creators ourselves.

I encourage you—I challenge you—to allow your creative side to blossom in your everyday life.  Write your next Facebook post or tweet in the form of a haiku.  As you pass by some of the wetland areas on the path, listen for animal sounds you’ve never noticed before.  My guess is that you can come up with ideas even more wildly creative; after all, that’s part of the St. Mary’s Way.

An Inside Look into Clinton’s Presidency Through the Eyes of His Personal Secretary

On Monday, Nov. 4, St. Mary’s SGA Programs Board had the honor of hosting Betty Currie, former personal secretary to Bill Clinton. She grew very close to the entire Clinton family as she worked among them for years during Mr. Clinton’s presidency. She came to St. Mary’s to share her journey, including what is was like to get to know the former president on both a personal and professional level. Her presentation, titled “My White House Wonder Years,” fascinated the audience of students, professors, and visitors with her witty humor and captivating stories.

Before she started at the White House as a personal secretary, she worked in the Peace Corps, several election campaigns, and one of her professional areas of focus was on civil rights. These different experiences helped her get started, and through being involved with such projects she was able to “move around” between jobs to further her career opportunities in public service. Having these experiences made these transitions smoother, and her time at the White House was very rewarding as a result. Apart from the President, she spent time with the First Family pets as well. Socks and Buddy, the family cat and dog, respectively, were always able to brighten everyone’s day.

During her lecture, Currie elaborated on how her former experiences prepared her for working in the White House. Working in civil rights gave her bit of a head start in terms of knowing how to work in Washington, D.C. By the time she began to work for the President as a personal secretary, she had been previously prepared and almost knew what type of work to expect. Students during the lecture were quite interested in how it was to interact with the president on a daily basis. Currie recalls that former President Clinton was a “wonderful person to work for.” She commented that “he was very religious, and a good singer too.”

As a great surprise to her, Currie’s desk was located directly outside the Oval Office in the West Wing of the White House. Even though she spent more than twelve hours per day, five and a half days a week in her office, she absolutely loved the experience. She commented that if she were given the choice, she would love to do it all over again, with the exception that she does not know “if I could stay up that late anymore!” Even though her hours of work were quite demanding, she thinks that the press secretary and the scheduling office had some of the most difficult jobs in support of the President. One advantage of the location of her office, she joked, was that she was given parking right outside the White House. But on a more serious note, she added that the “biggest challenge was making sure people could not get to the President” directly without coordination through her.

The President valued her presence greatly; often she was asked what her opinion was on certain racial issues. One exciting aspect about daily life in the White House was the events that were held and planned on a day-by-day basis. “No two days were ever the same. We revised the daily schedule all the time,” Currie recalled. But what she enjoyed the most about working alongside the President was the fact that she was a part of history. “It was great because I was seeing [history] happen and I enjoyed being there. I recommend it to everyone.”

Betty Currie still admires the Clinton family. The former President still sends her birthday and Christmas cards, and she knows that if she has any questions or needs advice, she can call, but she tries to keep this to a minimum because of his busy schedule. In conclusion, Ms. Currie accepted some questions from the audience and invited anyone who was interested have their picture taken with her. Sophomore student Orion Hartmann enjoyed the jokes Currie told throughout the lecture. “The most interesting part,” he added, “was getting to hear the personal aspect of working in the White House. You don’t get to hear that side of the experience very often.” The lecture and meeting Betty Currie was such a wonderful experience, and hopefully it inspired some of St. Mary’s students to strive to learn more about the inner-workings of the White House.

Humor Column: The Three Little Humans vs. Zombies

Once upon in a time, on a college campus very much like your own, there lived three little humans in a most charming forced triple. The three little humans generally got on very well, except when someone didn’t put a cap on their Strawberry Fanta and the fridge got sticky, because who the hell does that? Seriously, put the damn cap on it. It’s three seconds of your life. Why are you even drinking Strawberry Fanta when you’re on a stupid fad diet? What was I saying? Oh right, the three little humans generally got on very well, but they were all very different in their ways.

The first little human was self-described “survivalist.” He enjoyed hypothetical combat scenarios, wearing fatigues and combat rolling whenever an aircraft appeared overhead. He could often be found prepping his K rations, and everywhere he went beef jerky wrappers, poorly prepared booby traps, and nervous looks followed.

The second little human sucked. The reasons he sucked were obvious and many, but worst thing about him were that he was the world’s sorest loser. If he was Napoleon, he would have screamed at the British for cheating and flipped Waterloo off the table. F*#@ the second little human.

Now the third little human was the cleverest human of all of them. He was sensible, smart, funny handsome, had the cutest dimples when he smiled and is like, free to call me whenever if he wants to talk, no pressure. Seriously, I don’t mind, I stay up really late. For a time, the little humans enjoyed their WASP-y fairytale existence in peace and quiet. And then one day, the zombies apocalypse came to campus. And also a bear (Why didn’t that get any attention?).

Eager to fight the incursion of the undead, the three little humans donned their armbands and parted ways to seek their fortune. They even hugged goodbye, but that’s a another story for a different time.

The first little human took to the trees, but after really hurting himself decided instead to form a party of other humans.  As they prepared to leave for their first mission, the first little human ridiculed his teammate’s nerf Maverick, while repeatedly caressing his own Vulcan…ha. As they approached the doorway of the academic building in which they were hiding, they could see the headbands of their zombie foes camping by the door. The party knew immediately that they must work together to come up with a cautious and well-thought-out plan if they hoped to escape with their lives. And this is what everyone did. Everyone, except for the first little human. He ran out the door, screaming “DOWN!” which didn’t even make any sense. In panic and confusion, his party followed. Luckily they managed to get the jump on the zombies…just kidding! Everyone died. And the first little human became the world’s most relentlessly enthusiastic zombie.

The second little human retreated to his room for days, missing missions and avoiding any contact with danger. Eventually he ran out of food, and was forced to sprint to the dining hall as fast as his pasty little legs could carry him. Suddenly, a zombie tagged him on the back. “That doesn’t count, you only got my t-shirt!” whined the second little human. Then suddenly, another zombie tagged him on the arm. “You didn’t follow the rules!” cried the second little human. Then suddenly, a bear tagged him… in the face. Even the second little human had trouble denying that one counted. After all, he was dead (Again, that bear got no attention?!).

The third little human…well, he was actually fine. He followed all the rules, participated actively, but was always cooperative with his cohorts. The third little human played the game to the best of his ability, and survived five days in the zombie apocalypse. He probably went on to get a nice job in upper management at some organic food company, couple of kids, probably leases a Benz. But most importantly the third little human understood that this was a game, and life went on. And forevermore, Humans vs. Zombies was a fun and stress free activity where no one was ever awful ever, and world peace happened and Delia got that pony. It was purple.
And They Lived Pretty Good Ever After.