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. [Read more →]
Posts by Sam Levison
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. [Read more →]
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 $6 million. More recently, the critical consensus is overwhelmingly positive (95% on Rotten Tomatoes) and it will surely grab an Oscar nod or two. This free screening promises to be a legitimate date option (if you throw down at Mama Kim’s first) that will be over with plenty of time for pre-Fish Co. boozing (call me old fashioned?). Remember: Granoff Center, 7 p.m tonight. If you fail to show, you better be prepared to hand in your Helen Hunt fan badge….
“White iPhone. Ballsy.” These were the first sassy words to come out of Nick Vitrano’s (’13) mouth as we sat down for our interview. Not “Hey how are you?” or “Sam, I love that orange graphic T that 100% did not come from Urban.” No, he commented on the apparent ballsiness of having a white iPhone (his, of course, was black). I, for one, did not know that my white cell phone made such a statement, but this was only the beginning what would be a truly edifying evening.
For those of you who don’t know Nick (but seriously, who doesn’t know him), he’s an openly gay member of the class of 2013, who “likes to say ‘fabulous’ in a voice, like, a half octave higher than most males.” Besides being “fabulous,” he’s also the creator/writer of the wildly popular tumblr: Straight Boy Crush of the Week. If the name isn’t clear enough, here’s the deal: each week Nick picks a straight boy, spends some time with him (read: time for sexy photography) and then posts a humorous write-up on the blog. And despite its focus on hunky men, the blog’s real star is Nick, and thus we took some time to get to know him in the Blue Room, a well-known spot for staking out straight boys to crush on. Read the interview and see the photos, after the jump.
One might think that last week’s A$ap experience would prove difficult to follow up, but then George Clinton comes back to town, bringing with him a large band, some alien creatures, a maggot brained joint-smoking skeleton, and a large batch of funk grooves. Slightly less obese than last year, George moved around the stage rather well, even jumping during the final moments of “Atomic Dog” and impressed me, big time. Ten things I took away, besides mild tinnitus, after the jump. [Read more →]
October 2, 2012 1 Comment
A Better World By Design? What’s that!? Well, curious party…for anybody who has been to campus, A Better World By Design is just one of the many reasons a bunch of strangers flock to Brown and make just about everything more crowded. But for those involved, the conference is an opportunity “to make the world better through the power of design thinking.”
Many groups at Brown float the words “conversation” and “dialogue” around, but this three-day event takes them very seriously. Events throughout the conference are focused around the use of design, in whatever form it may take, to promote social responsibility on a global scale. Additionally, a representative for the group explains that this year’s conference is more “attendee-driven” than previous ones, with presentations that encourage activity and participation. Targeting both professionals and students, the Better World team hopes to facilitate collaboration and learning between participants, who will take these ideas back to their research, studies, business ventures and other projects.
This year’s most anticipated speaker is the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman. He plans to discuss the intersection of arts and sciences, and Better World hopes that the speech will attract both Brown and RISD undergrads who may not otherwise attend. Another anticipated event is the Failure in Five series. In these short presentations, individuals—students, entrepreneurs, and other innovators—discuss a failure and the knowledge they took away from the experience. This seems pretty TED talky…and we know betches loooooove TED talks. [Read more →]