A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: G(ISP) Talks

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Are you a female athlete? Do you like Bruce “the Boss” Springsteen? Do you bet on horses? Perhaps you just want to be happy! Each of these topics comprise a Group Independent Study Project, or G(ISP), that students created and studied this semester, and now they consider their projects experiences worth sharing.

Over Duck and Bunny cupcakes and Meeting Street cookies (A combination too good to be true?), listen to 7-8 minute, TED-style presentations on studies pertaining to religion, video game design, music, medicine, performance, assimilation, education and epistemology.

If you can’t attend TED2015 in Vancouver for $8,500 ( I know), now is your chance to be inspired by the people you see around you everyday. You might even be inspired to create your own G(ISP)!

The talks begin at 5:30 p.m. and run until 7 p.m. in Metcalf Auditorium TOMORROW, April 29th. See the schedule below to catch the ones you fancy. Frankly, you gotta catch ’em all.

Check the event’s Facebook page here for further information.

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: Class at Brown and Beyond

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This Saturday at 2:00 p.m.., several students will crowd the Crystal Room at Alumnae Hall to voice their opinions on class at Brown. The event — what Brown Political Forum founder Ben Resnik ’15 deems less coat-and-tie, more town hall — is the first of a new Community Forum series.

The event adopts the term “community forum” from the open discussion President Paxson hosted at Alumnae Hall following New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly’s canceled lecture last fall. Viveka Hulyalkar ’15, a chair of the Community Forum, said “the magnitude of the dissonance [on campus] was underestimated. There’s a huge demand for an opportunity to bring these pockets of consensus together and get in each other’s faces about the stuff that really tears us apart.”

The Community Forum will start with class, as the chairs feel that class on college campuses has become not only a hot-button issue at Brown but also a once-hushed subject that is now considered nationally. The event will feature several student speakers who Resnik said are known and respected figures on campus. But, the audience truly makes up the core of the forum.

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10 things we learned from Skyping with Wes Anderson

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OH MY GOD THAT’S WES ANDERSON.

Thanks to the brilliance (and enviable sway) of this year’s Ivy Film Festival organizers, we were among the many who were lucky enough to Skype with the director of the beloved Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and most recently, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is now playing at the Avon. Through a list of pre-selected questions — and a decidedly imperfect video feed — we learned just what inspires Wes’ characters, stories, and color schemes, among the other gems we’ve listed for you here:

1. Never has the artificial ringing of a Skype call come with such anticipation and subsequent cheering from any user.

2. Wes neither speaks French, nor is he well-versed in French cinema, but he yearns to direct more French actors, like Romain Duris and Isabelle Huppert. #AmericanDream?

3. Wes claims The Last Picture Show influenced his filmmaking, and he totaled a convertible in the middle of the night as he and a friend drove to the film’s location site in Archer City, Texas. The feed got kind of choppy at this point, and all we heard was “then my friend was trying to get me to look at the stars… and then I looked back at the road, and we weren’t on it!”

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An Amateur’s Guide to March Madness

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March Madness is an exciting time for me–a time of blind allegiance and savvy ignorance. Everyone in my close circle either plays basketball or knows more about it than I do. The extent of my basketball experience begins and ends with the Yellow Jackets, my quite defeated 1st grade school basketball team. And my basketball fame begins and ends with that free throw I may or may not have made that one night I vaguely remember. If the past is a story we tell ourselves (thank you, Spike Jonze), I obviously recall this as a golden moment of unrealized 4 ft-high potential.

What is one to do, then, when March Madness rolls around and you feel woefully left out? I suppose one could a) not care, b) care a lot and construct a winning bracket, or c) remain suspended with me in this in-between, desiring to be accepted for the basketball fan that I truly am and yet always excluded from the party, like Benji Applebaum from Pitch Perfect who will never be a Trebblemaker (you’re too good for them, Benji!).

I’m too competitive to create a bracket that obviously won’t win, though I briefly imagine myself picking teams at random and shocking my friends. “Oh, you didn’t expect Mercer to beat Duke? I know you didn’t. Next year, though.”

Instead, I have constructed a guide for those hoping to participate but who have little basketball knowledge to go on (I studied basketball terminology, the Spurs roster, and LeBron’s stats to up my cool factor for last summer’s NBA playoffs). Here is a new way to approach how to decide on a winning team:

North Carolina or Iowa State?
Do I know what a Tar Heel is?: No vs. no
Is baby blue a masculine color?: No vs. I see you, Columbia
Who has the better smile?Bubu Palo vs. Jackson Simmons
Badass coach?: Roy Williams (UNC) or Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State)?
Winner: Iowa State
Methodology: Underdog

Wichita State or Kentucky?
Which colors do I fancy more (or less)?: Black and yellow (Wichita St.) vs. White and blue (Kentucky)
Where could I spend the day?: Wichita, KS vs. Lexington, KY
Who is taller?: Wichita’s tallest is 6-9 vs. Kentucky’s at 7-0
Winner: Kentucky
Methodology: When playing Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?, I told myself I would visit Kentucky one day. Lovely statehouse.

Texas or Michigan?
Location, location, location: Austin, TX vs. Ann Arbor, MI
Do I wear burnt orange well?: Maybe vs. no
Am I Austin weird?: Yes vs. I like to think so
Which coach is more intimidating?: John Beilein (Michigan) vs. Rick Barnes (Texas)
Winner: Texas
Methodology: I’m from Houston…fixed election.

Arizona or Gonzaga?
Colors: They’re both white with red and blue (NOW we have to get nitpicky)
Whose athletics page clearly employed a web designer?: Arizona vs. Gonzaga
Do I appreciate Dustin Triano‘s pseudo-mullet?: You do you, kid vs. no
Who has the better name?: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona) vs. Rem Bakamus (Gonzaga)
Winner: Gonzaga
Methodology: The mullet pulled ahead in the last second

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Our cake is bigger than yours

You may or may not have caught a glimpse of Brown’s 250th anniversary cake/monstrosity last week. Without my glasses, I could behold only a blurry, brown structure before the equally-out-of-focus podiums and rainbow flags flying high on the 3rd floor of Faunce (bravo, kids). Amidst hangry students struggling to appreciate synchronized slam poetry, I could take the time to imagine what our culinary masterpiece looked like. It wasn’t just a replica of University Hall. It was a Cake Boss rival. It was the real Ace of Cakes. It was our very own sculpted dessert straight from a bona fide bakery, Oakleaf Cakes.

My imagination didn’t have to run too far, for Brown really did take the cake. After I made it tore my way through the crowd and tried the not-so-delectable treat, I researched its competition. Here are the cakes Brown surpasses (and a few we didn’t quite beat). Sorry I couldn’t sugarcoat it for you.

Unseating the Incumbent

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The 500-pound inaugural cheesecake

At 650 pounds, Brown’s University Hall outweighed Obama’s inaugural 500-pound cheesecake created by Chicago-based Eli’s Cheesecake Company. The three-tiered Democratic dessert featured a replica of the Capitol Dome topped with a gold Statue of Freedom. But the part-chocolate chip, part-original plain cheesecake, crafted from 155 pounds of cream cheese, 50 pounds of butter, and 20 dozen eggs, among other gargantuan amounts of ingredients couldn’t hold a smoking candle to Oakleaf’s masterwork.

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Commander-in-Chief cake weighed only 50 lbs 

The second inaugural cake made by Charm City Cakes (of Ace of Cakes fame) for the Commander-in-Chief Ball doesn’t even come close to Brown’s cake prowess. At a measly 3-4 feet to our 5 feet, the six-tiered (that’s right, six tiers couldn’t top us) red velvet, lemon poppy seed, pineapple coconut, and pumpkin chocolate chip confection weighed in at a surprising 50 pounds.

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Must-See: Les Misérables in Concert

I walked into the Granoff Martinos Auditorium amid a clamor of tuning instruments and buzz of conversation over blocking and cues. The orchestra prepared in their cluster at stage right and two students were at the center mic executing and then tweaking a dramatic moment between their characters Eponine and Marius. Marius (Jesse Weil ’16) embraced Eponine (Emily Kassie ’14) from behind but then Emily halted. She moved Jesse’s hand above or below its original placement. They embraced again. Everyone else, all dressed in black and some white, was scattered about the stage anticipating a full design rehearsal before the real performance begins TONIGHT and runs through Thursday. 

Emily Kassie as Eponine and Jesse Weil as Marius

What may seem like a needless intricacy — a hand two inches above the waist and one inch over — is central to “Les Misérables: In Text and Production,” a Group Independent Study Project (GISP) focused on the text and performance of the renowned drama. Les Misérables in Concert is essentially the presentation of the students’ various “findings” from their research.

The singers are diverse, but all so talented, and their performances fuse beautifully with the orchestral music directed by Alex Sogo ’15. The musicians seem to watch the performers and listen to them, as opposed to having the students keep in time with their playing. The students also animate a minimalist set of microphones, chairs, and wires running across the hardwood lecture floor turned stage. With barely any props, and with a couple newsboy caps and a long coat on inspector Javert (Michael Gale ’14/Harrison Chad ’14) as costumes, the students’ emotive expressions and chemistry with one another transform the bare space, all due in large part to Marissa Bergman’s ’14 direction.

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