Beating the November blues

The beginning of the year is great. Freshmen travel in enormous packs, become acclimated to the campus and meet the people they’ll be living with for the next four years. Upperclassmen are reunited with friends they missed all summer and get to laugh at freshmen who travel in aforementioned giant packs. As September seeps into October, things only heat up. Shopping period is over; people settle into classes and see which ones they regret love. Calendars evolve into jam-packed monstrosities, chock full of events happening around campus. And then Halloweek hits. Ah, Halloweek. That blissful period at the end of October when Brown students finally seem to “go hard” and let their freak flags fly. But what happens when November 1 arrives? The first day of this month is already ominous; could Daylight Savings be any creepier?

Here are some low-key things to keep in mind that may mitigate those November Blues:

  1. Warmest Development: No Shave November→ This strictly applies to those who like a little scruff in their life. Maybe this new month will bid farewell to man buns and welcome in a new era of refined, genteel, bearded gentlemen. What’s more, some women let their leg hair envelop them in swaths of warmness.


  2. Sweetest Development: Cuffing Season→ Unaware of cuffing season? When I was in high school, this term referred to the time of year when people seemed to settle down and find a significant other. After a summer of general salaciousness, many wanted to be “cuffed” or “cuff” someone else. According to Demisexual Lovato (expert in all things relationship), New England operates a little differently. In Providence, with the cold winter winds and the sun setting at 5:00 PM, people search for a steady bae to keep them warm on those November nights. Here’s hoping.          43c23714469ffe2523baa171a2a4b19ce427d45f99d8bf870d5b06f129bd7b34
  3. Most Bumpin’ Development: Good Music → For some reason, a lot of artists emerge from hibernation at the beginning of the cold front. This month, ADELE (!!!!!!) is dropping her third album, the long anticipated 25. If “Hello” is any indication of what’s to come, this will be her best yet. And if Adele doesn’t float your fancy, I hate you don’t worry. The Biebs, Cee-Lo Green, and Ellie Goulding also have albums dropping this month.                                                               adele10
  4. Bro-iest Development: Good Sports → Apparently, November is one of the best months for professional sports. And college sports. And intramural sports at Brown (it’s the beginning of Innertube Water Polo!). So, yeah. Ball is life.topic_sport_logo
  5. Creepiest Development: Overall Spookiness→ Halloween may be over, but there is a Friday the thirteenth in November. Capitalize on this frightening fact and celebrate in style! Defy your own laziness and walk down the hill to a Providence ghost tour, venture into the sketchy shower at the end of your hall, or maybe just watch Friday the Thirteenth with your friends. Or bae. If development #2 actually develops.9dc6f92f7bdea6162c3053186a409c56

Nina Totenberg is a total boss

nina totenberg

As a big fan of NPR, I was pretty pumped when I heard that Nina Totenberg would be speaking at Brown. All my fellow radioheads recognize that she is a big deal, up there with Ira Glass (Class of 1982, by the way), Terri Gross, and Sarah Koenig. Totenberg specializes in the Supreme Court, and with decades of experience, she is a regular contributor to NPR’s newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition. Her know-how is hard to match; she has been covering supreme court justices longer than any of the current nine have been sitting on the bench! Needless to say, there was a huge turnout when she came to Brown this past Tuesday; all kinds of people were there–undergraduates, professors, grad students, and even Providence locals.

Totenberg’s most striking feature is her voice, which is so unmistakably her own. She speaks like someone who understands their own importance, with crisp sentences and penetrating looks. Despite her intimidating demeanor, she opened with a joke about how she could not have gotten into Brown as an undergraduate. Her mother went here, though, and she explained how she always had a special spot for Brown in her heart.

Totenberg had no time for customary throat clearing, so she immediately got to the point of her speech; she understood why people had come and wanted to cut right to the meat of the lecture. First, she claimed that the folklore behind certain justices were simply myths. “They are just real people,” she said, explaining how in today’s world they’re “more accessible than ever.” (Just take a look at the Notorious RBG.) The way she spoke about each justice was riveting. Instead of being fixated on their conservative or liberal tilt, she showed listeners who they are as people.  Continue Reading

An honest review, none of The Bull

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a dress rehearsal for The Bull, PW’s newest production. Because the cast is so small (only four characters), it’s hard not to get invested in each character. Thomas is despised and bullied by his colleagues. He is a pathetic victim, played masterfully by Jason Roth ’17. Next is Isobel, played by Marli Scharlin ’16, the “brilliant and lythe” (her own words) executive whose true abilities lie in her ability to tear others down. We loathe Isobel but cannot help but be fascinated by her. There is also Tony, the “team leader” of the sales office. His domineering and sensual presence is indisputable; Keston McMillan ’17 is very well suited for this role. The final character to be introduced is Carter, their boss. Although she is not on stage very long, Jenn Maley ’16 deftly portrays this sneering, cold hearted bureaucrat. I was genuinely afraid.


Here are 10 of my takeaways from The Bull:

1.The intimacy of Upspace

 This performance space has redefined my notion of an intimate show setting. The black box theater is tiny, and the seats are set equal to the stage, forcing us to be engaged in the unwinding drama. Let me reiterate, this intimacy is no peck from your grandmother. It is full-frontal, inescapable, in-your-face closeness. This show does not allow for checking of phones or bathroom breaks. 

2. Importance of repetition

The Bull loves patterns. The play opens with two characters on stage and ends with the pair in an identical position. In this same thread, certain words and insults are repeated throughout the show. When Isobel tells the audience she revels in “poking and poking and poking and poking and poking” we can’t help but feel revolted.


3. Power dynamics

As mentioned above, the play begins with just two people on stage. Immediately, the blocking of Isobel and Thomas establishes the nature of their relationship. Isobel dominates the stage, exuding sexual prowess and leering at her weak counterpart. Throughout the show, these power dynamics never completely shift, but they do evolve. With the introduction of new characters, the hatred escalates. The cruelty is barely established as 1 vs. 1, before it becomes 2 vs. 1, until finally the score is settled at 3 vs. 1.

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The Seagull takes flight

Going into The Seagull last night, I was full of trepidation. I am no scholar of Anton Chekhov; before seeing the show, I couldn’t tell you much about this playwright. Upon reading the Wikipedia synopsis, that fear grew. The names were all complicated, in Russian, and difficult to pronounce. The story itself is immensely complex, full of love triangles that intersect and meld with one another, forming new shapes entirely. A rhombus perhaps?


I soon discovered that the beauty of The Seagull lies in its subtle irony. Each character wants what another has. While one is seeking fame, another is running from his talent and recognition. Another wants to be rich and provide for his family. His counterpart disregards wealth as an afterthought. One seeks approval from his mother, another from an audience, another from an unrequited love. The dizzying webs these characters construct should be overwhelming, but they aren’t. Director Laura Rikard makes sense of it all.

Upon walking into the theater, I was immediately struck by the intimate atmosphere. The audience was so close to the stage, and the actors cajoled us, laughed in our faces, and made us uncomfortable in the best kind of way.

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