Review of the On-Campus Pub: Good But Still a Ways to Go

Since the dissolution of Kohler’s, the former on-campus delivery service, late night food options have been scarce for students save for the assorted treats in the vending machines or the occasional pizza night runs by student clubs or organizations. The possibility of a newer and more stable late night food option has been a hot topic among students since the end of Kohler’s. This year, students finally got what they wanted in the form of The Pub, which opened earlier this spring.

The Pub, which was formerly the Lewis Quad recreational room, is a quaint attempt at bringing the experience of a college hotspot which is something that St. Mary’s county lacks aside from the Green Door. Even though the Pub is currently in a pilot program, students can still enjoy the cozy atmosphere which benefits from large crowds on Friday and Saturday evenings, a brand new speaker system which plays popular music, and a big screen high-definition television worthy of a sports bar.

The food offered during the pilot program, despite having a wealthy amount of items, is actually pretty decent and affordable. The nachos have easily become the most popular item on the menu as they are the most affordable (just $3 without chicken or beef), and the serving size is more than fair. Also on sale to students during the pilot program are personal-size pizzas ($5-6), multiple hot and cold sandwiches ($5-6), burritos ($6), and canned beverages which are also fairly priced and have been received well by the campus community.

Every Thursday, there are events at the Pub with alcoholic beverages on sale to patrons 21 and over. While the Pub is still trying to obtain a permanent liquor license, what has become known as “Thursdays at the Pub” is an effort to  pilot the serving of alcoholic beverages. “Thursdays at the Pub” also benefit from live music earlier in the evening, which adds to the atmosphere of the venue.

However, if the Pub is going to succeed, there should probably be some more improvements to the pilot program. For now, the Pub is a great place to hang out on the weekends, but I fear that the popularity will wane over time as the novelty of a late night food option and place to hang out after a night at the Townhouses wears off.

The biggest changes that should be made are to the menu and to the atmosphere of the locale. Expand the menu to include things such as fried foods (mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, fries, etc.), burgers and chicken sandwiches, and other kinds of pub fare, would bring more diversity to the menu and give students a chance to have something a little more substantial. It’s always a good thing to walk into a place and actually pay for a meal.

In addition, and I am well aware that the school and Bon Appetit are working on this, you can’t have a pub without alcohol. I cannot stress this enough. Once The Pub has alcohol available on days other than Thursday, however, I can see students wanting to go in there and, if the menu improves, have a drink and a burger with their buddies. Already it seems that more students stay to hang out on Thursday nights than on other nights of the week.

In terms of the atmosphere, renovations should definitely be made. First off, the lighting is a distraction, mainly because it’s too bright and doesn’t set the right mood for what a pub should be. Also, the décor is unlike any pub I’ve ever been in before. It is very cool that there are nice pieces of furniture in front of the fireplace, but not everyone is going to sit there. I would invest in some nicer tables and chairs. I would also suggest maybe a bar to sit at, as the majority of the students are going to be huddled with their friends having a laugh and a drink or two. Right now it just feels like something that was slapped together for the time being and if the school wants people to come and enjoy the pub, it’s going to need to be more like a pub and less like a rec room.

Even though it’s a pilot program, and it succeeds wonderfully in that regard, the pub needs to make some improvements if it wants to outlast the grace period that comes with novelty. The smaller issues at hand, such as the Pub being cash only, present a bit of a roadblock, but most students are willing to pay and therefore don’t present as much of an issue as students getting sick of the environment and the food they’re paying for. In short, the pub is good for now, but probably only for now.

 

Lessons Learned: Why Voter’s Privilege Should Apply to World Carnival

It’s disgusting to me how people refuse to take advantage of the resources handed to them to better ensure that their voices are heard. In the past, I have said some things in The Point News that people have disagreed with and I am sure that this article will be no exception. After all, there will always be conflicting views on a topic and this is something that any writer submitting an opinion article should acknowledge going in. However, this is very serious, it means a lot to me, and therefore, allow me to be blunt.

Since coming to this school, I have done my best to culture myself by going to any and all events promoted by the Programs Board and other clubs even if that means I eventually leave because it’s not my particular taste. At least I can say I went and explain my reasons for why I left. When it has come down to World Carnival, however, I haven’t always been the most enthusiastic. I have voted for the band at World Carnival all three years I have attended the college and not once has my top pick been the one to headline the event.

Carbon Leaf wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but I went because it was free and my cousins had given them praise in the past. I wasn’t impressed, but the show was okay. Same thing with The Cool Kids last year. I liked what I heard on their mixtapes and I was at the front of the crowd during the show, but had I not been in that position, I probably would’ve been disappointed by the performance.

That brings me to this year.

It seems that the student body at this school is highly unappreciative of the resources handed to them. I have heard on multiple accounts by my fellow students that they are “unimpressed” or “upset” by the acts that were chosen for this year’s World Carnival and, especially, Virginia Coalition who won the vote. However, as it has been in past years, a decent amount of these students refused to vote.

To those of you who did not vote because you either didn’t know the bands that were offered to you or because you simply didn’t like them or just because you were apathetic: YOU HAVE NO ROOM TO COMPLAIN. If you voted, then you have reason to complain. It’s a voter’s privilege.

Even then, if your choice isn’t chosen, at least try to find something positive out of the situation. Okay, so maybe the band that was chosen wasn’t your first choice, but the band must have some kind of redeeming qualities. They must be able to perform, to interact, to at least bring something exciting to the table that wouldn’t be there otherwise. After all, this is coming from someone who has yet to see his first, second, or third choice play World Carnival.

After speaking to the people in charge of World Carnival for an article I wrote earlier this year, I was given the voter turnout statistics for this year and they were abysmal. A little over 200 people, 10 percent of the student population, participated in the vote this year. This is horrendous and for so many people who are disappointed with Virginia Coalition playing this year (and they played a great set I may add), the numbers don’t quite add up.

The fact of the matter is students, if they want their voices to get heard, have to participate in the system. That’s the only way they are going to get what they want. If the community at large is upset with the results of the voting or the choices they have or whatever else, it is up to them to make it right. If I remember correctly, the school is currently gearing up to hire people for Programs Board next year. If you want reform, apply for a position.

The amount of negative comments slung from the student body at Programs Board is appalling and when it comes to World Carnival, it gets especially ferocious. Sure, I will admit that sometimes events that are planned are misfires, but the Programs Board breaks themselves to ensure that there are free events for the student body.

So make a change if you don’t like how things are going. Speak up if you want your voices to be heard. Vote. Use the resources at your disposal to make the events you want to have happen. If you don’t get what you want, at least cherish things you now have. Be adults.

Take Back the Night Reaches Out, Empowers Women

On Wednesday, April 6, the “Take Back the Night” event of Sexual Assault Awareness Month commenced on the Townhouse Greens lawn. Take Back the Night, a multi-national event that aims to empower rape victims and women in general, was once again held at St. Mary’s College and co-sponsored by Programs Board, Walden Sierra, and the College’s First Responder Network. The event aims to reduce the social stigma associated with rape and produce awareness to help change the status quo.

The main goal of Take Back the Night is to speak out against sexual violence and domestic abuse through methods such as protest and direct action. This year’s event took these issues to heart and not only made it clear that rape, abuse, and refusing to acknowledge such crimes happen is foolish and morally reprehensible, but also that there is a community which is open and wants to provide care to survivors in the wake of trauma.

A representative from co-sponsor Walden Sierra, Laura Webb, spoke briefly about the services they offer to victims of sexual assault and violence.

The organization, which is largely operated by volunteers and aims to provide free assistance to those in need, has a 24-hour hotline in addition to ongoing treatment such as consultation and therapy. Walden Sierra, whose ultimate goal is to promote behavioral health and wellness, also treats individuals with substance abuse and is open to men in addition to women; in fact, one of the major points of Take Back the Night this year was to make it known that men are just as affected by these crimes as women are.

The organization also looks for volunteers to share their stories via audio or video in an effort to reach out to a wider demographic.

The featured speaker this year was Liz Seccuro, an advocate for victim’s rights and writer of the memoir Crash Into Me: A Survivor’s Search for Justice. Securro had been a victim of sexual assault while she attended the University of Virginia in 1984 and her case was avoided by school officials until, almost twenty years later, she was contacted by the rapist and decided to press charges.

Seccuro, however, opted to keep her story to a minimal. “Tonight is more about you and not me,” she said to the audience attending the event.

Securro spent the majority of the evening discussing the horrors of trauma, the steps that can be taken to prevent it, and the harsh reality of American culture’s conceptualization of rape. However, she also was adamant that there are people out there to aid victims, make them feel safe again, and assist them in rebuilding their lives.

“It’s a work in progress,” she continued, noting that even after all this time, a little over 25 years, she still has to take each day one at a time. “But I am not a victim. You are not a victim. We are survivors.”

Seccuro touched on some of the things that are important regarding events like Take Back the Night, relaying that even though the people who attended this year care, there are bigger issues at hand regarding activism on this “hush hush” topic. “When we talk about activism…it’s about the types of people who don’t go to these events and they need to have this spark lit.” She said this specifically about another incident at UVA in 2010 where student George Huguely assaulted classmate Yeardley Love. “Had people recognized the warning signs, it may have never happened.”

She also spoke directly to survivors in the audience, telling them to take “rape kits” and to seek justice, to “take back the right to be individuals,” and “the right to be humans.” Seccuro also mentioned that the accusation of rape is not one to be taken lightly, and people need to recognize this. According to Seccuro very few rape accusations are false, as they are sometimes assumed to be, despite the overwhelming amount seen annually.

She also presented some very astonishing statistics, citing that one in four women have been sexually abused and one in six males have been abused as well.

Regardless of these figures, it is still commonplace to see criticisms hurled at the victims of these crimes, many of whom come from quite surprising backgrounds. “Jesus does not support hate mail,” Seccuro joked, shedding light on the amount of nasty comments she gets from Evangelical Christians.

At the close of Liz Seccuro’s speech, students and faculty were given the opportunity to share their experiences with those who attended the event. As per tradition, the event came to a close after a candlelit march through campus grounds. The vigil is supposed to stand for the refusal to support acts of sexual violence and domestic abuse; it was an exercise of solidarity.

 

Sarah ‘Sadie’ Pyles Remembered at St. Mary’s as a Genuine Soul

Earlier in the semester, the campus community was stricken with shock at the loss of a student whom everyone knew for brightening up their day on the path, in the classroom, and during her shift at The Daily Grind.

Sophomore Sarah “Sadie” Pyles’ passing has truly had an impact on students and faculty as she was remarkable individual in every sense of the word.

At the memorial service held at the College, friends and family reminisced with one another and shared their memories and thoughts of Sadie.

Throughout the evening, individuals described her as “sweet,” “impulsive,” and a “die hard Lady Gaga fan.”

She had “empathy for the underdog” and, as one friend put it, “we could go into a gas station and she’d always be overdressed.”

Sadie’s friends and family remarked how she would always be smiling, how she would always be there for you regardless of whether or not she knew you, and she’d always be game for making a quesadilla on her quesadilla-maker which was nicknamed Alejandro.

One student, Junior Kate Brown, shared the first time she met Sadie: “I was crying and I really didn’t know any of the people I was with and she walked in, looked at me, and said, ‘I’m just going to hug you, okay’?” said Brown.

“Then she made me a quesadilla.”

Sophomore Patty Romaine, Sarah’s roommate, had a similar story about living with Sadie. Romaine said, “even when I got mad at her for leaving her socks lying around on the floor, she made me a sock puppet.”

One of her closest friends even said that there was a time she remembered when Sadie randomly showed up at her college on a surprise visit and demanded that she go out with her:

“Sadie said, ‘you will put on these pants and you will go out with me.’ Sure enough, I put on those pants and I went with her.”

Her friends and family at the service remembered her as determined, thoughtful, vibrant and always smiling.

They added she always worked extremely hard to be as adventurous as humanly possible and to live her life to the fullest.

According to President Joseph Urgo, who also spoke at the service, Sarah’s flash drive had a quote by Gandhi on it: “live as if you were to die tomorrow,” which he felt summed her up.

Sophomore Delia Rose, emcee for the event, said she had been deeply affected by her friendship with Sadie.

She added, during her closing remarks, “it’s not often at this age that you meet someone, and make friends with them, who makes you learn so much about yourself.”

 

World Carnival Showcases Virginia Coalition and Best of Coffeehouse

The first day of World Carnival 2011 kicked off with a menagerie of musical acts performed under the Main Stage tent. The festival, which has been a major event at St. Mary’s College for 18 years, had a Friday night line-up just as appealing as the Saturday show, and showcased musical acts at a smaller scale than those to appear on Saturday night. In years past, there have both been Battle of the Band runner-ups and a Best of Coffeehouse set that highlights musicians which were met with praise during the school year.

This year’s World Carnival kept up with what was done successfully last year by offering a Best of Coffeehouse set which saw the likes of 2/3 Goat, Pie Boys Flat, The Five One, and Pearl and the Beard. Each band brought a unique flavor to the table at the event and the crowd, which got larger throughout the evening, was largely receptive and in high spirits throughout most of the evening.

The Five One, a D.C. based rap group which performed at the college routinely during the Spring 2009 semester, opened up the event with their blend of alternative and indie rock infused with clever lyrics about fame, growing up, and the power of the individual.

After The Five One was the act 2/3 Goat, a country-folk outfit from New York that performed earlier this school year. The performers also took the time to explain each song and how they came to fruition, a noble attempt at connecting with the audience which had its hits and misses. 2/3 Goat’s lead singer, Annalyse McCoy, discussed the cause that they as a band are supporting, ending mountaintop removal, and what it meant to them. Referencing the performance, junior Chris Page said, “They sang the best song about West Virginia mountaintop removal I’ve ever heard.”

The next act of the evening, New York City’s Pie Boys Flat, which is partly comprised of members of 2/3 Goat, played a polished set comprised of blues, rock, and reggae which got the majority of the audience up on their feet and moving. The stage dynamic was also very strong as each performer was able to instinctively go on any and all improvised solo work which was no doubt the result of hard work and raw talent.

The final act of the evening, New York’s Pearl and the Beard, was for many the most anticipated act of the evening, following a very successful set earlier this year. Consisting of a trio of Brooklyn natives in vintage clothes and glasses, they played to the largest crowd of the evening and performed a very energetic, folk inspired group of songs. The crowd consistently talked to the band, danced together, and were grinning from ear to ear. The musicians, who made it very clear how lovely the reception was, could not have been more enthusiastic onstage and also spent the majority of their set in the heat of the moment. “It was amazing. Their musical talents are just so awesome,” said first-year Shannon Starcher of the Pearl and the Beard’s performance. “There’s nothing else I can say!”

Due to inclement weather, Saturday’s World Carnival for the most part had been shut down, save for some of the performances which were originally scheduled to be under the Main Stage tent. Even though many of the World Carnival events planned for the afternoon were cancelled, students were still given the opportunity to enjoy acts such as the SMCM Step Team and Caribbean Steel Drum band in St. Mary’s Hall on South Campus that evening.

In addition to the acts which were rescheduled and moved to St. Mary’s Hall were Three Man River Band, the winners of the Battle of the Bands contest held in March, and Virginia Coalition, the headlining act for this year’s World Carnival. The events, unfortunately, had low turnout due to the location change caused by the weather which was itself an issue as there was a tornado watch issued for the county.

Those who did attend the headlining event, however, were given the opportunity to enjoy a very energetic set by both Three Man River Band and Virginia Coalition.

Three Man River Band, a group of musicians comprised of seniors Jimmy O’Keefe, Aaron Mirenzi,  Nathan Hesse, and Keith Brown, played a very polished and well received set which focused mainly on songs on their forthcoming album which will be released later this spring. Their blend of folk and rock and jam band aesthetics, which has gained them notoriety and a dedicated following on campus, was at an all-time high during their performance.

After the opening act, the crowd grew significantly smaller throughout the evening despite a very entertaining set by Virginia Coalition which boasted some crowd favorites and covers of songs like “Lean On Me” and “I Want You Back.” This could arguably be due to the locale of the concert, St. Mary’s Hall, which isn’t necessarily the most conducive environment for a dance party as it is a sit down venue. Regardless of the politics surrounding the audience turnout, Virginia Coalition, who is noted for their high energy antics on stage during performances, did not disappoint: there were multiple percussion solos by both the band’s lead singer and the pianist, comedic interludes, and moments of audience interaction that had the crowd in what the lead singer liked to call “The Groove.”

Overall, those who attended said they had a good time and a wonderful experience. “I thought it was an awesome concert,” said junior Caitlin Cromer. “Virginia Coalition was amazing, they had fun regardless of how many people they were playing for, and put on an awesome show.”

 

Sarah ‘Sadie’ Pyles Remembered as a Genuine Soul

Earlier in the semester, the campus community was stricken with shock at the loss of a student whom everyone knew for brightening up their day on the path, in the classroom, and during her shift at The Daily Grind. Sophomore Sarah “Sadie” Pyles’ passing has truly had an impact amongst students and faculty as she was remarkable individual in every sense of the word.

At the memorial service held at the College, friends and family reminisced with one another and shared their memories and thoughts of Sadie. Throughout the evening, individuals described her as “sweet,” “impulsive,” and a “die hard Lady Gaga fan.” She had “empathy for the underdog” and, as one friend put it, “we could go into a gas station and she’d always be overdressed.” Sadie’s friends and family remarked how she would always be smiling, how she would always be there for you regardless of whether or not she knew you, and she’d always be game for making a quesadilla on her quesadilla-maker which was nicknamed Alejandro.

One student, Junior Kate Brown, shared the first time she met Sadie: “I was crying and I really didn’t know any of the people I was with and she walked in, looked at me, and said, ‘I’m just going to hug you, okay’?” said Kate, “Then she made me a quesadilla.”

Sophomore Patty Romaine, Sarah’s roommate, had a similar story about living with Sadie. Patty said, “even when I got mad at her for leaving her socks lying around on the floor, she made me a sock puppet.”

One of her closest friends even said that there was a time she remembered when Sadie randomly showed up at her college on a surprise visit and demanded that she go out with her. She said, “Sadie said, ‘you will put on these pants and you will go out with me.’ Sure enough, I put on those pants and I went with her.”

Her friends and family at the service remembered her as determined, thoughtful, vibrant and always smiling. They said she always worked extremely hard to be as adventurous as humanly possible and to live her life to the fullest. According to President Joseph Urgo, who also spoke at the service, Sarah’s flash drive had a quote by Gandhi on it: “live as if you were to die tomorrow,” which he felt summed her up.

Sophomore Delia Rose, emcee for the event, said she had been deeply affected by her friendship with Sadie. She added, during her closing remarks, “it’s not often at this age that you meet someone, and make friends with them, who makes you learn so much about yourself.”

Gearing Up For World Carnival

World Carnival, a long standing annual tradition at the College, serves as a reminder that the community is part of a larger picture both regionally and internationally. The event, which often serves as a symbol to the student body of another school year coming to a close, has always been a large focal point for the Programs Board since its inception. This year, however, the Programs Board is touting the event as one of the most extravagant and diverse school functions yet.

The World Carnival committee, led this year by junior Anna Danz, has been working since the beginning of the school year to plan the elaborate festival. Danz said that, contrary to what some members of the student body are saying, students are going to have a good time. “We want to put on a good event … a big event,” she said.

Among the scheduled events students can look forward to are The Best of Coffeehouse, which will present Coffeehouse favorites over the past year such as 2/3 Goat and Pearl and the Beard, the 36 Madison Avenue a capella group, a Caribbean steel drum band, and the rhythm club formed from students in the public schools around St. Mary’s. In addition, the annual reading of Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches, which has traditionally jump-started the schedule of events on the Saturday of World Carnival, will be read by President Joe Urgo.

Other things to look forward to include multiple vendors such as funnel cakes and Maggie Moos, two photo booths, a caricaturist, and an inflatable obstacle course. Also, due to the success of the Quidditch matches from last year, there is a Quidditch event planned in which students can once again sign up with a team and play the Harry Potter-inspired sport.

Director of Campus Programming Jes Harvey, senior, also worked with the World Carnival committee to make World Carnival a part of a week long event named Intercultural Awareness Week. “[It’s] the one big improvement of this year’s World Carnival,” said Harvey. Throughout the week leading up to World Carnival, there will be events scheduled including films and lectures, representing various cultures.

The headlining event, just as it has been for the past two World Carnivals, will be a band that has been chosen by the campus community prior to the festival. In the past three years, the College has seen Eve 6 in 2008, Carbon Leaf in 2009, and the Cool Kids in 2010. This year, students can look forward to Virginia Coalition, an alternative jam band from Alexandria, Virginia  There will also be a performance by this year’s Battle of the Bands winner, Three Man River Band.

Even though Programs Board and the World Carnival committee are still working on ensuring that this year’s World Carnival is a success, they are already looking towards the future to try and make each subsequent year better than the last.

“I will gladly say next year will be bigger and better,” Harvey said, adding that the ultimate goal is and always has been to increase the sense of community.

 

Students Select World Carnival Student Band at Battle of the Bands

This year’s Battle of the Bands, which boasted musicians of all genres, may very well have been one of the biggest achievements of the school year.

A Coffeehouse event sponsored by Programs Board, the affair’s main goal –  and each act’s ultimate prize – was to select the student band that would be performing at World Carnival later this year.

The event featured a very eclectic combination of acts that ranged from Spanish guitar and acoustic to folk and comedic rock.

The student body seemed to respond very well to the event which saw possibly the biggest turnout since last semester’s Holy F**k.

The biggest surprises of the evening, however, were probably the bands Vaguely Sexist and Good Muzick who each played to a crowd significantly smaller for the one that came to see Three Man River Band.

Anna Danz, Junior and World Carnival chair, had nothing but good things to say about Vaguely Sexist.

“They sang Backstreet Boys and Miley Cyrus and I said ‘Let’s be friends,’” Danz explained.

They were a crowd favorite after their set which also included a rendition of “The Ultimate Showdown” and multiple awkward interludes that seemed to come straight out HBO’s Flight of the Conchords.

Good Muzick, a write-in candidate that signed up at the last minute, also had a remarkably warm reception. The only rap group to enter the event, they impressed the crowd with their slick beats and clever wordplay reminiscent of popular rapper KiD CuDi.

“I was surprised. I knew they were out of college and mixing, so I didn’t know what to expect, but they were good,” said Programs Board Chair Jes Harvey.

Good Muzick wound up becoming a dark horse candidate and was voted runner-up overall, a testament to their abilities as performers.

The winner of this year’s Battle of the Bands, Three Man River Band, won by a landslide of 65 votes with 170 student voters overall.

Three Man River Band, led by senior Jimmy O’Keefe, was the student favorite going into the competition, having been a very prevalent presence at music events and performances at World Carnival in the past.

Their combination of wild on-stage presence and unique musical influences made their performance a backwoods, foot stomping dance party, which made them a perfect act to perform at World Carnival.

Hydröfish, a musical act that has played World Carnival in the past, also performed at this year’s Battle of the Bands.

They showcased their unique blend of vulgar, absurdist lyricism and funk.

A multitude of other performers also played at the event, primarily specializing in acoustic covers and adult alternative which have long been staples of Coffeehouse performances in the past.

The most important aspect of Battle of the Bands, however, is the chance for exposure and to perfect stage presence or gain experience.

While winning allows performers to headline a popular event like World Carnival, which comes with exposure, the chance to play at an event like Battle of the Bands is still one to be relished.

First-year Danny O’Neill, one half of the act Good Muzick, said, “To make sure you sound good live, you have to be in front of people and gauge their reactions. Battle of the Bands is a great way to get your name out there and make sure you can do something live.”

Given the strong response to the event this year from performers and students alike, Battle of the Bands is not only a healthy way to build the reputation of World Carnival, but also to build the reputations of student performers on campus.

 

For Boycott, Both Sides of the Spectrum Too Strong

In the March 1 issue of The Point News, an article was submitted by Eden Carswell entitled “Chick-fil-A: ‘I Wants My Sammitch.’” This article has sparked more discussion over what has already been an extremely hot topic among the campus community.

While I agree with Eden regarding the moral implications of Chick-fil-A as a corporation, I feel like the bigger picture at hand should not be the LGBTQ community, but rather the role of conscious consumerism.

As conscious consumers, it is our job to weigh the pros and cons of outlets available to us. Unfortunately, in a country like the United States, we have a tendency to feign ignorance for the sake of consumerism and it’s only when light has been shone on something that we finally get up in arms about something. Chick-fil-A is no exception to this rule.

However, let me point out that it is common knowledge that Chick-fil-A isn’t open on Sundays, it owns the WinShape Foundation which reaches out through fundamental Christian beliefs, and the corporation was founded in the American south. So how is it that just now people are realizing that a southern, Christian corporation like Chick-fil-A gives proceeds to Christian groups who oppose LGBTQ rights?

All it really comes down to is allowing ourselves to see the facts and make informed decisions on what we spend our hard earned money on. Without the persistence to inform ourselves, we wind up sitting around in the dark which, in cases like Chick-fil-A, can become an issue larger than what it really is.

We have to be mature about this .Do I think that buying a chicken sandwich should be equated with giving the LGBTQ community the finger? Absolutely not – that’s a very extremist view of the situation and, frankly, quite ignorant. On the other end of the spectrum, do I think that harassing someone with chicken sandwiches because he disagrees with the moral foundations of a company is acceptable? Not even – that’s cruel, childish, and ridiculously uncalled for.

Now that some revealing information has been released regarding company activity, we obviously have to re-evaluate where we stand. Getting carried away, and this goes for both parties, isn’t going to solve anything and we as adults should not judge others for making their informed decisions.

I am proud to say that I consider myself part of the LGBTQ community here at the college as a friend, a supporter, and an ally. However, I refuse to dislike someone on the basis that they bought a sandwich. To me, that sounds just as wrong as supporting anti-gay causes.

It’s preposterous to say the least. I think everyone just needs to look at the facts, make educated decisions, and leave it at that. Protest if you want to and buy if you want to. Or, try to find an alternative. I personally couldn’t care less about Chick-fil-A. Did I mention I’m a vegetarian?

 

Alternative Animation: Creations for an Art House Audience

Animation has long been a staple of cinema around the world. Like most genres, however, animation has bred an independent circle, in addition to the more popular, mainstream works one would see coming from Walt Disney Studios or Warner Brothers.

For the Fourth Annual Theatre, Film and Media Studies (TFMS) Film Series, the focus has been on alternative animation.

The animations on the first night of the series were composed by Karen Aqua, an artist from Boston, Massachusetts whose animations have been featured on many notable programs, including Sesame Street.

Her style, which is almost exclusively hand drawn, is a blend of illustration and rhythm which is meant to trigger feelings of nostalgia, absolution, and even catharsis.

Heavenly Bodies (1980), one of her earlier works, is designed to be a mind-bending ride that flows from one image to the next in a way which makes the familiar unfamiliar.

Kakania (1989) follows in the footsteps of Heavenly Bodies stylistically, but also seeks to show the dynamic range of Aqua as a storyteller.

Whereas Heavenly Bodies is about the fluidity of life and how things blend together, Kakania is a frantic portrayal of society as a constantly working machine.

The music, this time tinged with essences of 80s New Wave and Ska, is meant to produce a natural rhythm for the piece that is just as erratic as the movements of the characters.

The last piece by Karen Aqua, Twist of Fate (2009), is her most recent film.

The dystopian nature of the animation was shown by the switches throughout from photographs to abstract patterns of lines to stop motion animation.

The piece, which was inspired by Aqua’s battle with cancer,  engaged a brutally honest attitude regarding the cold sterility of the world of medicine, the warfare that hospice has on the body, and the anxiety that comes along with it all.

On the second night of the series, the guest animator was James Duesing who specializes in computer animation and has been featured at international festivals like Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival.

His work was a different breed from that of Aqua’s: it was more cynical, more skeptical, and much drier. His goal seemed to involve making the viewer re-examine their own ideals.

The narratives in his work all revolve in some fashion around materialism and elitism in our culture.

Whether it’s the superficiality present in Law of Averages or the exploitative nature of tourist traps in Maxwell’s Demon, Duesing presents this highly disillusioned view of our society as if our culture’s moral compass sits in mediocrity.

His animations present fears that many individuals may have regarding the state of our culture.

At a grander level, he addresses the fears that accompany issues we have had to face over the past 25 years, like the growing presence of AIDS, stem cell research, and the role technology plays in our everyday lives.

The dialogue had provocative aspects that were meant to test and cross boundaries.

The chances and the liberties he takes with his work are what makes him stand out as an animator and a storyteller.

Tugging the Worm is named after a slang phrase for masturbation and it specifically tackles drug abuse, gay culture, and the objectivity of “acts of the flesh.”

In Law of Averages, he infers that the average is a state of pretension where material needs are our main fixation.

He even includes intertitles between scenes with lines like “Buy things on credit” and “Always aspire for wall to wall carpeting.”

Sophomore Mark Lehtonen said, “I liked the first [event] better. The second one was … harder to understand. [Aqua]’s stuff was really colorful and was a lot more about making stories with music. [Duesing] used dialogue, hers were a lot more audio/visual.”

Sophomore Carol Cerzo said, “At both events they showed the films in a chronological order spanning 30 years and it was really interesting to see how the animation changed across that time.”

“Like [Duesing], his first few films were hand drawn but then computers came around and he started using them to animate and got better as time went on. It was interesting to see how the artist’s style as well as the mediums they used evolved.”

The film series so far this school year has been enlightening in regards to what can be done outside of mainstream , commercial animation which is more publicized and better funded.

TFMS Department Chair Joanne Klein said of the event, “Film does such a good job of recording everyday images that we sometimes forget it can also show us what we can never see around us. The worlds of animation are magical places, with their own landscapes, physical laws, and creatures.”

“The films in the series are animations, but they are not cartoons. They are confluences of art, music, poetry – plus all the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. For those with a taste for the post-modern, these films are a snack without limits,” said Klein.

Duesing and Aqua both expressed views of the world around them which, through illustration, can be quite a wild ride.