Syd: Well, here we are, at the end of what I consider to be one of the most unpredictable and emotionally confusing seasons of TV in my long career as a television viewer. I would absolutely love to have a face-to-face meeting with Dunham to try to figure out what the hell is going on inside of her head, but unfortunately I’m neither nearly well-connected nor cool enough. So, in place of real facts, I’ll give you my opinion (you lucky dogs!). Season 2 didn’t necessarily suck, rather it was a huge and surprising departure from Season 1. Dunham moved away from somewhat fluffy, inoffensive “white girl problems” (i.e. Shoshanna’s virginity, Hannah being cut off from her parents, Jessa’s sexual dalliances, and Marnie’s struggle to cope with a lackluster boyfriend) and decided to use Season 2 to tackle some really complex issues. We witnessed parental abandonment, drug abuse, sexual assault, and really scary case of OCD. Needless to say, it was a difficult season to watch—not because it was bad, but because I expected one kind of show and received something completely different. While I could use up this space to shit on all the things that went wrong in Girls Season 2, I’ve instead decided to have a discussion with Blog writer and fellow Girls enthusiast Sam Levison.
Sam:Girls‘ third episode, “All Adventurous Women Do,” concluded with a rather endearing scene. Hannah Horvath, having fully established herself as lovably awkward and aimless by this point, is listening (or jamming out, rather) to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.” Marnie comes home from work, giggles in the doorway and joins her in the bedroom disco. Hannah’s no longer dancing on her own—GET IT!? If Girls continued to rest solely on such “relatable” contrivances it might have made for some fleeting fun—but real life isn’t always a bad day and a rejuvenating dance party. Season 2 has expressed this notion in all its dark, cringeworthy truth. For lack of a better metaphor, one might view it as a Funny People for Season 1′s The Forty Year-Old Virgin. Here on Blog, there’s been a tendency to lament the show’s changes. I’d respectfully disagree and argue that this season, while ostensibly less funny, is a triumph (I’ll elaborate on this below). Sure Season 2 is difficult at times, but so is life.
Today in news you didn’t know could make news: Nutella theft at Columbia University has reached catastrophic highs. Since Nutella became a regular amenity in Ferris Booth Commons (like the Sharpe Refectory, but with more affectation), Dining Services weekly costs have supposedly jumped up by thousands of dollars. Yes, the simple and addictive chocolate-hazelnut spread was disappearing at a rate of about 100 pounds per week (i.e. the amount of weight one could feasibly put on by downing tubs of Nutella regularly). The New York Times claims that these numbers are up for debate, but maintains that students fear that their spread hoarding will limit future improvements in dining services. Colleges have a tendency to make the trivial monumental within the microcosm of campus news, but now the Times has been sucked into a story that has essentially zero connection to Columbia’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, let alone the NY metropolitan area. I guess the relevance is that this whole ordeal makes a good case for Nutella’s drug-like qualities. Nevertheless, I believe this kind of gluttonous thievery would never occur at Brown — could you imagine the look on Gail’s face? Of course you can (see far right).
In an article from last month’s GQ, Netflix President Reed Hastings made this comment: “There’s not a lot of really great, deep, serialized television, and we can see from the data that that’s what people want.” What a pleasant way to view the TV business! But alas, what Hastings meant to say was, “people want a viewing experience akin to freebasing, and we’re starting them off with House of Cards.” We all know from acute observational comedians that “like crack” is a horribly overused expression, but I’m convinced that Netflix execs skipped the similes and simply exploded an addictive visual substance onto everybody’s favorite streaming service exactly three weeks ago. If you haven’t had a taste, read more on five reasons why House of Cards, while not necessarily perfect, makes for habit-forming viewing. Continue Reading
Sometime between the lauded-but-unwatched one season of Freaks and Geeks and the breakout success of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Judd Apatow went to college. The school, University of Northeastern California, embodied neither the raunchfest that was Faber College nor the watered-down, contrived fluff of Pennbrook University. Rather, UNEC was a place where the often banal realities of higher education got the Apatow treatment. That is, it was a particularly humorous sketch of collegiate life that embraced, rather than sidestepped, the bursts of sentimentality and awkwardness that arise from an honest depiction of freshman year. Like Freaks, Undeclared survived only one season on FOX and, just like Freaks, that one season is available for your thorough enjoyment on the ‘flix. Continue Reading
What were you up to on Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Perhaps you were struggling through the cold as you moved back into your room. Or maybe you were just struggling to not leave your couch as vacation came to a close. Fortunately, if you failed to observe or contemplate or even remember the holiday, redemption is here because Brown’s MLK Lecture is happening Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Upper Salomon. Oh, yea, and MLK’s daughter, lawyer and social activist Bernice King, will be the featured speaker.
While last year’s event focused on stereotypes’ impact in education, the 2013 installment will address the ever-important issue of healthcare inequality within the United States. In the fittingly titled “Advancing the Dream” lecture (2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech), King will discuss how the struggle for social equality has taken on a new form in the 21st century—primarily that of improving the accessibility, affordability, and quality of healthcare in the United States. Whether you’re interested in making up for a forgotten MLK Day or simply interested in hearing a great speaker before your workload rules out any possibility of attendance, this is a cool thing you shouldn’t miss.
Progressive educator and Brown department head Ted Sizer is surely cheering from the grave. Last week, a Providence schoolteacher named Stephen Round, fed up with teaching students how to take tests, quit his 13-year position as a 2nd grade teacher. Unable to read his resignation at a committee meeting, Round did what any relatively hip middle-aged teacher would do and posted a video of himself reading the letter on the YouTube. While a middle finger might have sufficed, Round’s condemnation of the “demeaning education” provided for students in Providence Public Schools is a more eloquent, and more brutally honest, alternative.
Round, depicting the lack of “enjoyment” in daily classroom life, describes a dystopian learning environment that seems more like something out of Orwell than a classroom in the same city as our beloved Brown. Students never socialized, recess was a privilege, and teaching focused on standardized testing rather than developing students’ interest in subject matter. The school’s culture of adhering to curriculum standards at the policy level had robbed Round’s students of all valuable education, and as a teacher he could literally do nothing to intervene. Moreover, Round claims that educational higher-ups forced him to stop offering additional reading support for dyslexic students simply because it was outside of the curriculum.
Such a “one-size-fits-all” education was exactly what Ted Sizer hoped to eradicate at the high school level by starting his Coalition of Essential Schools in 1984. In a final FU to Providence schools, the teacher claims he’ll be leaving his well-paid position to tutor for free in Connecticut. Many, including plenty of Brown students, will talk about how test-focused curricula are ludicrous, but Round’s simple and bold actions, which have since found national coverage on Gawker (yes, it’s Gawker…but still), have potential to move the issue forward.
A bit over a month ago, I attended a GZA show in Boston and thought to myself “Gosh, I wish I could take a class with this guy. I mean, he’s a f*cking GENIUS.” Yesterday, RISD’s STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) initiative made this dream come true by bringing The Genius (born Gary Grice) himself to the RISD Auditorium. The talk that transpired was ostensibly a discussion of GZA’s career and Dark Matter, his upcoming science-inspired album that has been years or, according to the rapper, decades in the making. Yet after GZA’s talk I emerged not with a newfound interest in physics, but rather a greater appreciation for curiosity, artistry and how the two, for artists of GZA’s stock, are ultimately one in the same. Continue Reading
How many of you know Professor Michael Vorenberg? A member of Brown’s history department since 1999, Vorenberg has been a standout with his beloved courses on the Old South, Civil War, and Reconstruction. As an esteemed scholar of legal history, Professor Vorenberg has persistently blown minds with his legal interpretations of our overly sanitized national past. Yet while his classes are consistent hits (including his new US history survey “American Exceptionalism”), his knowledge is more vast than even his course canon would suggest—enter his Facebook Ask-Me-Anything.
Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln, which has begun its national run this week, is a meticulously crafted historical biopic about Lincoln’s latter days between the end of the Civil War and his assassination. Full of intrigue, this film would naturally raise questions about artistic license and inquiries into the nearly impossible story of “what really happened.”
Alas, Vorenberg will be taking ANY questions regarding the film, the Emancipation Proclamation, and President Lincoln in general. Use Facebook comments, tweets to @BrownUniversity and e-mails to email@example.com to ask and he will answer them during the coming weeks.
Helen Hunt. Where can she go wrong? Absolutely nowhere, especially when she’s naked. Enter: The Sessions, a film that, in addition to featuring Helen Hunt in her sexy cougar phase, also tells the story of a paralyzed journalist (John Hawkes) who enlists a sex therapist to guide him through his first sexual experience. The Ivy FIlm Festival, which generally brings a few movies to campus outside of the festival proper, is screening the film FOR FREE in the Granoff Center TONIGHT at 7 p.m. The film has garnered incredible buzz since Fox Searchlight purchased it for $6 million. More recently, the critical consensus is overwhelmingly positive (95% on Rotten Tomatoes) and it will surely grab an Oscar nod or two. This free screening promises to be a legitimate date option (if you throw down at Mama Kim’s first) that will be over with plenty of time for pre-Fish Co. boozing (call me old fashioned?). Remember: Granoff Center, 7 p.m tonight. If you fail to show, you better be prepared to hand in your Helen Hunt fan badge….
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