The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble put on their production of Love’s Labour’s Lost on March 19–22 in La Sala de Puerto Rico, directed by Liz Adams. Despite the challenges of performing one of Shakespeare’s more esoteric plays, the Ensemble executed it with both talent and enthusiasm.
Attending college offers the opportunity to come into contact with new and exciting people virtually every day. Case in point: Dianna L. Cowern ’11 hails from Hawaii and is studying physics. She once distributed polio vaccines in the Dominican Republic and plays the ukulele. This Sunday, she will be competing in the Miss Boston Pageant, the first step on the path that potentially leads to becoming Miss America. The Tech had the opportunity to interview Miss Cowern about her pageant preparation and her experiences at MIT.
Trying to figure out where I stand on the line between “good taste in movies” and “cinema snob” has been a bizarre process. Looking through my movie collection, the balance between “mindless but enjoyable fluff” and “underappreciated gems that I spend most of my time trying to show other people” is surprisingly even. One of my recent purchases, a blockbuster action-comedy starring Dwayne Johnson (while he was still credited as “The Rock”), even manages to fall into both categories.
Upon hearing that I’d only ever heard the highlights from the <i>Phantom of the Opera</i>, as opposed to the full soundtrack, a friend of mine who is...enthusiastic about the show lent me the two-disc complete set over spring break. The fact that I still remembered most of the lyrics, in spite of not having heard them in the better part of a decade, is testament to both how much I enjoyed <i>Phantom</i> and how little other music I had access to at age 12. My much-belated apologies to the people in my 7th grade gym class on the day I thought the title song was appropriate workout music.
The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble is putting on <i>Richard III </i>by — you guessed it — William Shakespeare. <i>Richard III</i> is classified among Shakespeare’s history plays, which many of you might remember as the ones that are not taught in the average high school curriculum. Regardless, it is still performed with regularity, and its success is often contingent on the strength of the actor portraying the eponymous lead. In this particular production, the increasingly ubiquitous Ensemble member Christopher D. Smith ’12 delivered impressively.
The MIT Musical Theatre Guild premiered their IAP show, Little Shop of Horrors, last weekend. Little Shop is a comedy that is unafraid to be over-the-top, with such characters as the tragically low-aiming Audrey (Rachel Williams ’12) and Orin Scrivello (Matthew Cohen ’10), a sadistic biker-dentist who, if you asked him, might very well give “D.D.S.” as his last name.
The Gilbert and Sullivan Players’ production of T<i>he Mikado</i> opened last Friday, and it illustrates a few points. First, the Victorian England of Gilbert and Sullivan probably had a very bizarre perception of 19th century Japan, after seeing this show if not before, and second, G&SP seem to be at the top of their game when dressed in kimonos.
Ryanhood, formed by Arizona natives Ryan Green and Cameron Hood, gave a free concert last week in their second home of Boston to a small but excited crowd of fans and newcomers. Defined primarily by smooth vocals and slick guitar work, the duo performed a mixed repertoire of flashy jams and deep ballads that demonstrated why, in spite of not having a Wikipedia page about them, they continue to gain new fans with every show.
The recent Stephenie Meyer phenomenon of <i>Twilight</i> has raised some very divisive questions among fantasy fans. All debating over artistic merit aside, up for contention is the matter of exactly how many liberties an author can take with established monster lore. The concept of the vampire has been around for centuries, and the <i>Twilight</i> series seems to incorporate very little of it. Fine, so Edward Cullen drinks blood, is sort of ancient, and has a mild allergy to sunlight, but then again, so does Ozzy Osbourne. Few would mistake Ozzy for a vampire, and much fewer would mistake him for the lead in a romance novel.
It always struck me as somewhat odd that Quiz Bowl was considered a varsity sport at my high school, as I imagine was the case in many others. The same was true of Debate, Forensics, and a host of other extracurricular activities that don’t have corresponding Olympic events. All arguments about breaking a sweat aside, the intriguing point remains that mainstream sports are not the only avenue by which one can be called an athlete. While I don’t consider myself what one might call “buff” — honestly, “semi–muscular” would be a stretch in its own right — I can at least take some comfort in knowing that not everything I do is so hopelessly lazy that ambient calories are absorbed from the environment. “Like what?”, you say? Well, I’m glad you hypothetically asked.
Game shows and personal dignity have never had the friendliest of relationships. They’re probably more like mortal enemies, with game shows as the sadistic dystopian empire and dignity as the underdog hero unable to sway the masses to his cause. Or, depending on the show, as the helpless orphan crushed under the boots of the faceless legions as an example to would-be underdog heroes.
A couple winters back, I bought a jigsaw puzzle from a yard sale. The picture was of one of those hot air balloon gatherings, with lots of bright colors and patterns to match together. When you’re staring at a Virginia winter out your window with hardly any snowfall to motivate going outside, it’s one way to pass the time.
Coming home for the summer from MIT has been a time-honored tradition for me, assuming two years is sufficient to establish a tradition. As lovely as I hear Boston gets in the summertime, there’s too much waiting for me at home — family, friends, a significant other, and a job — for me to stay. Assuming, therefore, that going home would be my first and only choice for my summer plans, it logically followed that I’d have to bundle up the entire contents of my hovel and put most of it in storage, a process that consumed more time and more space than I probably would have liked.
I got my MIT class ring, or “Brass Rat,” last Friday, along with the other jewelry-inclined members of the class of 2011 who bought them, and I have to be honest, it’s taking some getting used to. I consider myself to be a non-aesthetically-minded sort of person (because it sounds nicer than “fashion-handicapped”), and an engraved beaver visible from orbit isn’t what I usually think of as a digital accessory. Yet here I am, staring at the hunk of metal on my finger and twiddling it back and forth like an indecisive electric screwdriver.
Animals and I, historically speaking, have had a complicated relationship. I like most of them well enough, but I’m not really the sort of person that feels comfortable approaching someone walking their dog on the street, for example. I guess the awkwardness is mutual, since being approached and petted by someone who clearly isn’t self-confident doesn’t seem to appeal to the animals, either. (A note to the unwillingly single: that applies to humans, as well.)
Here I sit at Walden Pond, known to the literary world as the once-home of Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. Presumably, what was once a source of inspiration for Thoreau could also serve as inspiration for me, so here I sit with my pen and pad, surrounded by nature and awaiting my muse. Granted, I’m sitting in a van in the parking lot, but the parking lot’s surrounded by nature, and the van’s doors are wide open to admit the singing of birds, a cool New England breeze, and the sound of an ice cream truck playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Yay, nature.
The extent to which one could consider me an avid video gamer depends a great deal on your definition of “avid.” On the one hand, I know the difference between Ico and Ecco, and I always invert the Y-axis on my controller. On the other hand, I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game, and survival horror gives me the heebie-jeebies. (I have weak nerves and weak aim — sue me.) I also try to keep up with what games are being released, so I guess that counts for something, although my laptop isn’t quite on par with what is required to play most of these newfangled computer games.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be living in a metropolitan area with a public transportation system as good as Boston’s, because without it, my horrendous sense of direction and I would have me wandering around Memphis long before I’d find room 7-107 or whatever. That’s Memphis, Tennessee if I bite the bullet and ask for directions and historical downtown Memphis, Egypt, otherwise. Don’t ask me how; I guarantee I’d manage it, one way or another.
Those who know me well will know that it is impossible for me to be only vaguely interested in something. The moment I get excited about anything; be it a video game, television show, movie, or music group; I go directly into “fanboy mode.” I become almost unhealthily obsessed, becoming as fervent a fan as is physically possible, short of getting logos tattooed on my face. I quote from film and television constantly. I annoy all of my friends, trying to convert them to whatever new cause I’ve adopted. I create relevant costumes for Halloween parties and, in a recent and potentially unsettling development, conventions.
With Valentine’s Day inbound, the annual chorus of its detractors is at its loudest. Some, still hoarse from the holiday season, decry the commercialization of a day supposedly dedicated to romance, while others bemoan the existence of the day at all, concerned that the setting aside of a special day for romance demeans the passion of the everyday.
The practice of gift-giving around this or any other time of year can be a tricky proposition. Excellent gift ideas abound, but giving the right gift to the right person (at the right price) often requires a certain element of finesse that tends to come and go, at least for me. Gimmicky gifts only make matters more complicated, with their often-overestimated merit invested more in novelty than practical use. Sure, that Christopher Walken bobblehead seemed ironic and amusing back in December, but when someone opens up their gift in a bag because you couldn’t be moved to wrap it yourself (sorry, Mom), is it really going to produce the “audible gasp and speechlessness” or “hyperventilating gush-fest” reactions you were hoping for?
Being a geek is what I do. Some people are bank robbers, some people are geese-jugglers — I’m a geek. As you might imagine, around here, I am but one of the many, which makes for heated, mostly-intellectual discussion about subjects that normal people would consider beneath their consideration. Those pretentious normal people. Bah.
Idiosyncrasies in musical taste range across an enormous spectrum, with ye-olde-school classical on one end and throat-thrashing screams on the other. With a wide array of genres to choose from, you’d probably be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like music at all. Some people enjoy country, either because they really like hearing songs about women wreaking felonious vengeance on their lecherous significant others (with the collateral damage being a poor, innocent 4x4), or because they’re just in an achy-breaky mood in general. Others like music they can swing glowsticks to or hop on arrows to, which is great for their cardiovascular health (in spite of the risk of broken light fixtures or ankles).
Oh, Summer … so long have I longed for your kind and merciful embrace. For two semesters, I have quested through the academic labyrinth. I have endured perpetual confusion and ceaseless frustration, hoping to find you around every corner, only to find another serpentine passageway in my path. Now that I have traveled so far through this dim dungeon, the glimmer of your reward shines clearer even in my tired eyes, but one more challenge lies between you and me. The Minotaur of finals week stands ominously before me, offering one last, fateful change to strike me down. Yet as worn as I am, I am prepared to stand tall and slay it with the last of my energy, if only so I may crawl from beneath its corpse and find myself at your feet, bloody and bruised, yet ready for you to lift my spirits.
Family Weekend — when hundreds of parents and family members converge to see how a detached arm and leg look when planted and watered for up to three and a half years. As far as my father’s visit to campus is concerned, my giddiness regarding my plans to show him as much on-campus awesomeness as I can find shows no sign of diminishing.
I’ve always been of the school of thought that motion pictures are meant to be a communal experience. Watch Buster Keaton’s <i>The General</i> at home on your computer screen, and it’s pretty funny. Watch it on a large screen surrounded by dozens of other people, and it’s absolutely hysterical, especially on a first-time viewing. As far as serious cinema is concerned, being able to laugh or cry with others is perhaps the best way for people to grow closer with a group.
I’m the sort of person who has difficulty clothes shopping unless I know exactly what I’m looking for, and it’s hard to know what to look for unless you have a reference source. Consequently, most of my thrift shopping is focused on completing costumes. You’d think it’d appeal to more people — it’s like piecing together a set of armor — only you don’t get “Level 20 Poison Nova upon Level Up” power ups. More practically, costume shopping gives me a goal for Halloween now that I can no longer justify trick-or-treating.
Having now seen <i>Iron Man</i> at least three times on a screen with more square footage than my dorm room, I have by now heard at least three times that Tony Stark graduated from MIT “summa cum laude,” to our everlasting bemusement. Tee-hee-hee. Obviously, since MIT does not give out Latin honors or have class rankings (rendering Weird Al’s white and nerdy achievements conveniently unverifiable), this would be impossible. Unless, of course, MIT administrators both a) found Tony Stark’s underage aptitude worthy of a change in policy, and b) decided that hoity-toity Latin honors would be more befitting the reputation and background of the Institute than modifiers such as “12th level intellect,” “Ph.D. in Epicness,” “Jedi Uber-Master,” or some combination of the above. At this juncture, I’m not really sure whether (a) or (b) is the less likely. To be fair, the “summa cum laude” gaffe stems from way back in Iron Man’s origins in the comics, so the movie’s mistake actually represents faithfulness to the comic book canon, rather than simply poor research. (Sam Raimi, take note.)
There are an awful lot of student organizations available at MIT, but for a school as unusual as ours, they start to seem a little boilerplate. I suppose I’m not really an authority on student clubs here, since the only thing I’m a card-carrying member of is Blockbuster, but even so, I can’t help but feel like we could be weirder and more distinctive — no offense meant to the Tiddlywinks team.
I feel sort of weird wearing a Hawaiian shirt in the middle of a raging snowstorm, but college has an interesting way of economizing one’s wardrobe, or at least my wardrobe. I can only store so many clothes in my dresser (meaning, on my floor), I can only afford to do so many loads of laundry, and I can only hang so many clothes in my cubicle — I mean, my dorm room. Yes, I hang dry my clothes, and unless you have frequent company that might be put off by damp unmentionables dangling from the ceiling, I will gladly explain the merits of hang drying if you ask me. Go ahead, ask.
There’s something overwhelming about arriving on the MIT campus that makes me sound both apathetic and verbally primitive. “Why did you show up a week early without an FPOP or a sport to go to?” “Just ’cuz,” I said. “Why did you choose that major?” “No reason,” I responded. “What’d you have to suck the helium out of all those picnic balloons for, and why is your face turning blue??” “… I dunno,” came the reply, with me sounding and looking not unlike a Smurf shortly before losing consciousness.
With the possible exceptions of RSI and Camp Bohrmore, no experience comes closer to approximating the combination of nerdiness and summer camp than the first few weeks of term at MIT. It could be just me (it usually is), but I can’t help feeling like it’ll be a while more of eat-sleep-pset-rinse-repeat before it occurs to me that I’m here for the long haul — that I’m not in the newest of the litany of summer academic adventures that sucked the life out of my vacations, but instead that I am in the next iteration of my educational career.