Cookies and Drones and Weather, Oh My!

The best thing invented since warm cookies delivered at 2 AM is warm cookies delivered by drones. If you haven’t heard about the epic saga of the airdropped cookies yet, you are in for a treat.

Insomnia Cookies upped their game on March 13 by announcing a free cookie giveaway on the Main Green. Unfortunately, two days later, they had to cancel the event because Brown University had not approved their use of the space, much to the public’s chagrin.

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The next update we received on the event’s Facebook page was that Insomnia Cookies submitted a proposal on March 19, “outlining how we will be adhering to all FAA sUAV guidelines and the additional steps we are taking to maximize safety.” For those of you who don’t know (like me before a quick Google search), the FAA is the Federal Aviation Administration, and sUAV is not a typo but rather stands for “small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.”

And soon enough, we got the good news:

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Seeing this on my newsfeed took a little bit of the sting away from getting my latest dismal midterm grade back. And I’m sure it lifted the spirits of many others in the Brown community dealing with the struggles of the endless midterm season, the scramble for summer internships, and the myriad of other everyday stresses that come along with academics, extracurricular, and social activities. Needless to say, it was a big day for everyone involved; the post even got almost 300 likes! However, because the entire world seems to want to prolong our airdropped-cookie-less suffering, we found out about a week ago that, “Due to weather, we are rescheduling the event to May 2, Tuesday after Spring Weekend.” But you know what—you take what you can get, and what we have is something to look forward to. The long, hard battle we have fought for our drone cookies and the emotional rollercoaster that came along with it is almost reaching an end. All we have to do is wait, catch, and appreciate this sweet end to the spring semester. So remember to mark this in your calendars, folks!

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In the Heights Brings Uptown Story to Life

Weeks before I actually watched Brown’s production of In the Heights, it was all that I had been hearing about—with warnings from my friends to buy a ticket before they sold out, raving reviews of how eye-opening and tear-jerking it was, and all the Facebook posts begging people to sell their tickets for “money, my soul, my eternal gratitude” (one of my personal favorites) after the tickets really did sell out. Then, on Sunday, March 12, the time had finally come for me see it all for myself.

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“Yo, pull out them kiddie pools…” a voice comes on over the radio, as vendors set up shop and people bustle around and go about their usual morning routines. The set is designed realistically and thoroughly from floor to ceiling, completely immersing us in the world of Washington Heights, a largely Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban neighborhood in northern Manhattan full of tall, brick buildings and once-bright, now-faded bodegas and other storefronts. The only break in the illusion is the small gap in the back where the musicians are visible; but that’s hardly noticeable as the bright lights flash, vibrant skirts twirl, and the energy of the cast washes over the mesmerized audience. The tone shifts when Nina Rosario (Viva Sandoval ’20) comes home from her first year at Stanford with a secret.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the actor, composer, and playwright best known for the fame of Hamilton, wrote the first draft of this show in his sophomore year of college, grew up in Washington Heights where the musical is set. Miranda says that, “We’re a stew up there, and we wanted to reflect that.” He wanted to depict the multitude of diversity and culture of Washington Heights and represent “Latinos, not wielding knives, but . . . being in love and having businesses and families.” In the Heights is a musical portrait of the people Miranda grew up with and the place he called home.

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The cast members fully stepped into the characters created for them by Miranda in the script and Brown alum Quiara Alegría Hudes in the book. Watching their faces and body language fully transform with each action and emotion that affects their characters, it as easy to forget they were acting. Piragüero (Rishi Wagle ’20), the Piragua Guy, has little stage time and brief lines spread sporadically throughout the musical. But he is more than just a goofy guy to serve as comic relief during transitions.When he sings about “scraping by,” not only in reference to his job as a piragua vendor who scrapes his ice block to sell snow cones to customers in the hot summer sun, but also in reference to the lessons of survival and perseverance that are taught through the stories and lives of the people on this street corner in Washington Heights. And Wagle executes both roles and reveals both meanings of his part so well through the deadly combination of his accessibly goofy attitude and shockingly powerful voice.

This show not only celebrates People of Color but also recognizes the racial tensions and divisions that are all too real within People of Color as well. It is mentioned several times throughout the show that the character of Benny (Stephen A. Bozier ‘17), who is Black and does not speak Spanish, “know[s] nothing of our culture,” and will never be good enough for Nina. Finally, he is driven to ask, “Why learn the language if they still won’t hear you?”

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The biggest and most memorable parts of the musical were when the entire cast performed together, limbs swinging in unison and voices weaving in and out of harmonies. The kinetic energy between the cast members made the ensemble pieces crescendo, not only in volume but also in sheer excitement and life. At the same time, each cast member was also certainly strong enough to hold their own part in the midst of the overlapping, chaotic, beautifully messy scenes. Aristotle really got it right when he said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Actors sniffled and wiped their eyes on stage during the final scene and throughout the bows. As we filed out of the auditorium, I saw a man and a young boy a row behind me get up and sing “Piragua, piragua” to the tune of the song. And I knew that the cast, crew, and audience would be humming along to the songs and remembering the lessons of In the Heights for weeks to come.

 

NOTE: If you want to read more about this remarkable musical, here was the press release for Brown’s production of it. https://www.brown.edu/academics/theatre-arts-performance-studies/news/2017-02/press-release-heights.

 

 


The Nelson Safari

Welcome to the jungle. As we begin our tour, I will be pointing out just 10 of the many weird, exciting, and beautiful things that make a safari tour of the Nelson everything that it is.

  1. That random person who is working out in jeans and a button-down shirt.

That cannot be comfortable. Aren’t you sweaty? Don’t you feel constricted? But, hey, mad props to you for pulling it off.

  1. That person taking up the last available treadmill with a good view of the TV screen while walking at 2.0 mph and texting on their phone.

Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

  1. That one guy who blew his nose with alcohol wipes that one time.

At least he had some very clean nostrils.

  1. That person who has been in the same yoga pose for so long that you’re worried they’ve fallen asleep.

Should I do a casual walk-by to double check? Ah, but the water fountains are the other way, and I don’t really like the machines over there. Should I tap their shoulder? Are they alive??

  1. Those swole people who seem to spend so long flexing and staring at their massive muscles that you don’t know how they got swole in the first place.

I know you’re jacked, but how did you get that way when your workout-to-break ratio is 1:20? Please share your secrets. Sincerely, The Noodle-Armed Folk.

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  1. That one person who was listening to earbuds that were connected to…an iPad.

How did they manage to fit that into their pockets, you ask? They didn’t. They stuck it in the back of the elastic waistband of their sweatpants, and I was waiting for it to fall any second for that entire visit to the gym.

  1. That one person who was listening to earbuds that were connected to…nothing.

Me: “Hey! Aren’t we in the same English class?”

Them: *silence*

Me: “Uhhh, the other end of your earbuds are dangling out of your pocket…”

Them: *starts bobbing head along with imaginary song*

  1. Those people who aggressively row on the ergs, but clearly don’t know what they are doing.

To be honest, I also don’t know what I am doing. I’m told that it’s actually all about the legs, but everything seems to hurt for me.

  1.  All the fit people who totally know what they’re doingTumblr GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
  2.  All the other newbies who clearly don’t.
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I relate on a spiritual level.

Now that we have completed our tour, I hope you realize what an amazing and wonderful place the Nelson Safari is. Every visit is an adventure, and we hope that you’ll come again soon!

 


Three Peas in a Pod(cast)

The Art of Manliness

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Originally a blog, “The Art of Manliness” decided to expand into the realm of podcasts with the release of its first episode, “We Who Are Alive and Remain,” Sept.  21, 2009. Now having just published their 246th episode Oct. 25, 2016, this weekly podcast is still alive and remains with its intriguing name. But what exactly is it about?

Brett McKay, co-founder of “The Art of Manliness,” has been investigating this very issue and “helping men become better men” for seven years now, as he writes on his and his wife’s website. From videos like “The Workout the World Forgot” to “The Making of Winston Churchill,” this podcast manages to cover a broad range of topics under the umbrella of manliness. McKay always supplies some sort of written component to supplement the audio as well, which usually features an overview of the episode, highlights from the show and the resources, studies and people mentioned in the podcast. Thus, I realized that you really can’t judge a podcast by its title because this goofily named podcast seems to have some serious content backed up by legitimate sources and research for listeners to take away.

My Dad Wrote a Porno

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As the title suggests, Jamie Morton’s father wrote a pornographic novel. And what does he decide to do? Team up with his friends Jamie Cooper and BBC Radio 1’s Alice Levine to read one chapter aloud every week on his new podcast, of course!

The absurdity of the content and witty comments from the hosts make the episodes wildly entertaining. The full title of the porno is “Belinda Blinked 1: A Modern Story of Sex, Erotica and Passion — How the Sexiest Salesgirl in Business Earned Her Huge Bonus by Being the Best at Removing Her High Heels.” When Morton’s parents first became interested in self-publishing, they started out with travel guides. After hearing about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Morton’s father, a 60-year-old man, under the pen name Rocky Flintstone, decided to try writing a pornographic novel, too. And thus, “Belinda Blinked 1″ was born. You can get the Kindle Edition for only $3.99!

In between each weekly chapter reading, the team releases a “Footnotes” episode commenting on the various aspects of the novel and voicing their other extraneous thoughts. You would think that after they finished reading “Belinda Blinked 1,” the podcast would be over. But you would be wrong. “Belinda Blinked 1″ was aptly named so because July 4, 2016, Rocky Flintstone published “Belinda Blinked 2!” This made a second season of “My Dad Wrote a Porno” possible. Who knows what the future holds for Belinda?

Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People

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Once a week, renowned comedian Chris Gethard (from “Broad City,” “This American Life” and “The Chris Gethard Show”) shares an hour-long conversation he’s had with an anonymous person. He has two rules: He cannot hang up first, and no names are given.

With this liberating anonymity, the caller can reveal their deepest darkest secrets, their saddest stories, their most shocking confessions. And we listen to these people’s truths. Sometimes silly, sometimes scandalous, this show offers, in Chris’s own words, “one conversation at a time, just a genuine interaction” with a real person.

While Chris does sometimes have some plugs for his various sponsors at the beginnings of some episodes, he always provides a good preview of the hour-long conversation to follow that is just interesting and vague enough to pique your curiosity, drive you to listen on and let you know what you’re getting into. It’s the perfect podcast for when you’re feeling bored with your own life and want to see what else is going on out there.

From manliness to pornography to anonymous stories, it’s clear that the podcast world has something for everyone. So if you’re ever bored or lonely, you have no excuse. There are plenty of voices out there for you to listen to!


Niche YouTube channels that will make you appreciate YouTube’s weirdness even more

Ants Canada

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Comparing ant species, raising ant colonies and doing the American Ant Challenge — these are just some examples of the topics covered by this channel, which focuses on anything and everything ant-related. It is run by an ant aficionado from the Philippines who loves to learn and teach others about ants by housing them in colonies in his home. The best part is just how well made these videos are. The footage is good quality, there are voiceovers, time lapses, expert angles, a variety of shots, seamless transitions and so much ant knowledge. It seems as if the YouTube channel is run just by this one guy, but judging by its website, AntsCanada is a prospering company that sells supplies for housing and maintaining ant colonies.

Favorite Quote: “If you look carefully there at the top, you’ll notice that there’s a grouping of ants just kind of sitting there — sitting there as if … they were planning something, or waiting for something. Based on experience, when ants do this, I’ve found that they are ready to make an escape.” (From video titled “OMG! My Fire Ants Are Planning an Escape”)

The Slow Mo Guys

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Using HD movie-grade cameras worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, Gavin Free and Dan Gruchy dedicate this channel solely to filming random things in slow motion. These videos show you things that your eyes cannot catch on their own. Some favorites include “Slow Mo Rainbow Flame – 4K – The Slow Mo Guys,” “Paint on a Speaker at 2500fps – The Slow Mo Guys,” “Jelly Tennis – The Slow Mo Guys,” I love the goofy intros, dramatic music and the actually beautiful and interesting images they end up creating with each video.

Favorite Quote: “I feel like you could make anything look good in slow mo.” (From video titled “Slow Mo Guys Channel Trailer”)
(Similar Channels: Hydraulic Press Channel and the “Will It Blend?” series from Blendtec)

vurtegopogo

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Created by Ian Britt, owner of a pogo stick company called Vurtego, this channel features videos that will teach you more than you will ever need or want to know about pogo sticks, from how to use one to how to maintain one. His devotion to pogo sticks is inspiring, as silly as it may sound. Some of the tricks he shows himself doing are quite impressive and potentially dangerous.

Favorite Quote: “There are TWO *crosses arms with both hands displaying peace signs* that we do to keep our sticks bouncing like new.” (From video titled “Adding Lube to Your Pogo Stick)

Primitive Technology

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Through demonstrative tutorials on living in the wild with things like grass huts, bows and arrows and slings, this channel teaches you various skills, from hunting to building to cooking. The creator of this channel is an Australian native, who fans often think has military training, but is really just a self-taught professional survivor who proves to all of us lazy people at home that we really should get better hobbies. Though he only joined the world of YouTube a little over a year ago, with consistent releases of one new video per month, he has gained over 3 million subscribers and over 153 million views on his videos.

Favorite Quote: “When I watch how-to (sic) videos, I fast forward past the talking part to see the action part. So I leave it out of my videos in favor of pure demonstration” (from the “About” page on his channel).


Which “Stranger Things” character are you?

If you’ve gotten into a two-minute conversation about Netflix these days, chances are someone has frantically asked you, “DO YOU WATCH STRANGER THINGS??” I was asked this question at least ten times in the last week (three of those times were by the same person — she really wanted me to watch “Stranger Things”), and every time I watched their optimistic smiles fade and the hope drain from their eyes when I replied apologetically, “… no.”

But all of that has changed now. Being the dedicated and loyal friend that I am, I could not stand to disappoint any longer. During a two-day battle with procrastinator’s guilt and Netflix addiction, I successfully binge-watched the entire premier season of “Stranger Things.” My friends were all very proud. It was a formative experience; I laughed, I cried. I also realized how every main character accurately represents a member of a close-knit friend group with hilarious quirks and unbreakable bonds.

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