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May 2004 Archives

May 3, 2004

Every one Else


In Court Theatre’s adaptation of Fraulein Else, the title character, played by Whitney Sneed, renders aloud her obsessive, incessant, adolescent interior monologue, essentially holding a conversation with herself—running parallel to the plot and dialogue—for the length of the hour-and-a-half production. The audience experiences every moment of doubt and distraction as Else, a 19-year-old Viennese woman on holiday with rich relatives, struggles with her insolvent family’s demands and quickly loses touch, spiraling toward disaster.

“Both the novella [by Arthur Schnitzler] and [Francesca] Faridany’s adaptation exert an elegantly queasy pull,” wrote the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips. “It’s a claustrophobic tale but a compelling one. Directed by Lucy Smith Conroy, the Court production has a sure sense of psychological compression.”

Fraulein Else runs through May 16.


May 5, 2004

Reader’s choice


Bookworms sitting, standing, paging through musty old tomes and yellowed, disintegrating paperbacks: it's not Powell's Books; today it's Regenstein Library’s annual book sale. Every spring the Library combs its stacks for duplicate and dispensable books to sell over the course of a week. On Monday hardcovers are $20, paperbacks $10; Tuesday prices are cut in half; and by Saturday all unsold books are free.

Students and faculty line up outside the Reg before the sale. Few items are too recondite or in poor condition: a couple minutes of second-day browsing yield attractive works by Philip Roth, Derek Walcott, and Henry James, as well as out-of-print gems like William Hazlitt's essays or Frank Budgen's James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses.

"It's an ingenious waiting game," says fourth-year undergraduate Ian
Kizu-Blair, pondering a new-looking hardcover of Frederic Jameson's Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. "Do I buy this today for $10 or wait to get it for $5 tomorrow and risk losing it to someone else today? What do you think?"

Paralyzed with indecision, he distracts himself by laughing at old paperback cover designs of a few great novels—a trashy illustration for Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March and a kitchy cover for Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

Joseph Liss, ‘04

May 7, 2004

Season ender


It’s the bottom of the first; a weak sun retreats behind a gray skim of clouds, and a fresh breeze flaps though the sparse crowd’s Chicago windbreakers. The scene on the field is just as bleak: In the opening moments of last Wednesday’s baseball game, visiting Elmhurst College (24-11) has already scored once against the Maroons (22-12) and will three more times before the third inning is out, racking up six hits to Chicago’s one.

But the sun returns during a short fourth inning, warming the now larger crowd of straggling students and parents quick to lend encouragement (“Let’s go, buddy. Let’s go.”) With an out at second and a double play, the top of the fifth flies by. When the Maroons step to the plate Elmhurst snags a pop-fly, but then the pitcher unravels, hitting a batter (and the umpire) and walking the next before his coach yanks him. Chicago rallies against the new pitcher, as a single to left field turns into a run (interference by the third baseman) and another hit loads the bases. The crowd, munching on hot dogs grilled and served behind the bleachers, gets riled up, badgering the ump when he calls a questionable strike (“No way, blue. No way.”) The next hit bounces over the first basemen, bringing two runners home but catching the batter at third, upsetting Coach Brian Baldea, who, after some shouting and pointing, gets ejected.

With Baldea lurking beyond the left-field fence and the fifth inning closed by a strikeout, the crowd’s cheerleading can do little against Elmhurst’s superior hitting, which adds five runs in the sixth and three more in the eighth to end the Maroons’ last home game 12-3.


Photo: Maroon seniors take a bow at their last home game (top).

May 10, 2004

Face time


Launched by Harvard students February 4 and spreading to more than 30 other schools, Thefacebook, “an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges,” has finally reached Chicago, turning otherwise industrious undergraduates into social (or, at least, virtually social) beings. Since the system’s programmers added Chicago to its directory April 30, students have hovered over computer screens from Harper to the Reg, fascinated to no end by the new phenomenon. Thefacebook, a virtual directory of classmates’ sexual orientations, hobbies, and schedules, has replaced sticker books or pogs from current undergrads’ younger years.

Anyone with a uchicago.edu e-mail account can sign up for the free service, which links U of C participants both to one another and to friends at other schools. Students can create a list of real-life friends and also make new ones, either by searching for classmates or by scanning clubs, jobs, summer plans, political views, and other categories. Thefacebook also functions as a dating site, where users can announce whether they are seeking men, women, or both, and for what sort of relationship. Once registered, they may upload photos, theoretically but not always of themselves, and attach them to their profiles. Unlike services such as Friendster or Match.com, which, the New York Times reported, students consider “strictly for the older generation,” Thefacebook and another college-geared site, WesMatch, are used “somewhere between procrastination tool and flirtation stimulant.”

“In its first week at the University of Chicago,” the Maroon reported, “thefacebook.com has achieved rapid, widespread popularity among students, with some 1,500 students registering in the first 75 hours. After one week, there are 2,380 students registered at the University, with 118,560 students registered throughout the United States.”

Phoebe Maltz ‘05

Photo: Phoebe scans other Facebook profiles at the Reg (top). Phoebe's own profile (bottom). Photos by Molly Schranz ’05.

May 12, 2004

Grill season


Flip-flops clack around campus. Couples canoodle on the quads. In yet another sign that spring has arrived, the Hutchinson Courtyard grill has reignited its lunchtime flame, to the delight of both staff and students. “There’s nothing like grilled food,” says Deborah Lewis, an administrative assistant in the University’s legal department. “The burgers are wonderful.”

Many customers share that sentiment, making the $2.49 sandwich and its cheesy counterpart the grill’s most popular grub, with more than 200 burgers sold per day, according to Brian Oakley, the food service employee manning the barbecue on Wednesday. In addition, Oakley typically cooks up 24 brats, 14 veggie burgers, 12 hot dogs, and six portabella mushrooms. A slew of 99-cent sides—from potato salad to potato chips—round out the plastic plates.

Food aside, the grill’s al fresco station wins points with fans. “I like that they actually have it outside,” says graduate student Wenyi Wang, a second-year in computer science. Oakley agrees that “enjoying the weather” is a perk of the job, along with playing the radio, set to a hip-hop station.

The grill is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. That is, as another employee notes, “as long as it doesn’t rain.”


May 17, 2004

The greatest show on campus

A search for the student-organized Le Vorris & Vox circus Friday night turned up an Ida Noyes salsa party, a Mandel Hall performance of the GSB Follies, and Off-Off Campus’s Pants Pants Revolution! at the Blue Gargoyle. A dedicated enthusiast might have braved the spitting rain and gloomy clouds to find a dozen seagulls and three geese meandering on the circus’s announced site, a soggy swath of Midway with a lonely trapeze frame: the show was canceled.

Fortunately for performers and fans alike, Saturday proved sunny, if a bit chilly, and The World’s Fair Regained went on as planned. Ringmaster Forest Gregg, ’04 (who founded the circus three years ago along with Roberto Kutcher, ’04, and Shawn Lavoie, ’04, after their independent study on the history of the circus fizzled), set the scene as the last day of Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition. To the delight of some 350 students and neighborhood families, tumblers tumbled, dancers danced, and unicyclists whizzed by.

Other highlights included knife juggling, trapeze work, poi (the New Zealand art of swinging things), clowning, and music by P1xel, the University’s own glam-rock band led by Gabe McElwain, AB’03, who “wrote what I thought the circus might sound like.”


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Photos (from left to right): Captions.

Photos by Amber Mason.

May 19, 2004

Calling Sarah


“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do,” Alan Ladd said in Shane, and this week second-year Sean Coleman took those words to heart, laying it all on the line—make that pavement. To track down Sarah, a student he met at a Scav Hunt party last weekend, 19-year-old Coleman chalked four well trafficked spots on campus with his digits and a plea: “You gave me your number. I, like a fool, have lost it. Call me?”

Coleman had tried more conventional approaches to locating his mystery woman, including asking friends if they knew her last name, but to no avail. “This was kind of a last-ditch effort,” he said of the Monday chalking. “At some point, I’m going to have to throw my hands up.” As of Tuesday Sarah had yet to respond, but Coleman remained hopeful. “We met, suddenly clicked, we danced, we talked, had a good time,” he said. “I’d really like to get to know her.”


May 21, 2004

Helen of Vegas

The summer movie Troy may focus on Achilles (played by Brad Pitt), but installation artist Joan Jonas is much more interested in Helen. Her Renaissance Society exhibit Lines in the Sand explores Helen as poet H.D. (Helen Doolittle, 1884–1961) portrayed her in the epic poem Helen in Egypt. Rather than the figure who incited a lust that caused the Tojan War, as H.D.’s Helen tells Achilles her version of the events, she was never even in Troy, and, she regrets to inform him, “they fought for an illusion.”

Jonas imagines a liberated Helen in modern America—specifically, as a showgirl at Las Vegas’s Luxor hotel, a suggestion “perfectly in keeping with myth’s ability to blur the boundaries between fact and fiction,” the Renaissance Society’s exhibit notes say. More poignantly, Lines in the Sand also refers to the first Gulf War and the more recent Middle East conflict. In one video Jonas describes the Trojan War as a trade war whose victors stood to control access to the Black Sea and surrounding resources.

Lines in the Sand and an accompanying exhibit, The Shape, the Scent, and the Feel of Things (a work in progress), will be at the Renaissance Society through June 13.


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May 24, 2004

Summer Breeze blows through


Though the weather proved more breezy than summery—it rained intermittently throughout the day—many students nevertheless came to the main quads Saturday for a round of Jell-O wrestling, inflatable bull riding, and rock climbing. The Council on University Programming Carnival—part of the annual Summer Breeze festival organized by the Major Activities Board—also included cotton candy and caricature stands. The Summer Breeze concert , held in Mandel Hall rather than Hutch Commons because of evening downpours, featured Jurassic 5, Medeski Martin and Wood, and Guided by Voices.

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Photo: Inflatable bull riding (top). Alex Fishman, '05, poses for a caricature artist (bottom).

May 26, 2004

A Chicagoist at heart


A newly launched Web site, Chicagoist, coedited by fourth-year Margaret Lyons, takes on the city in its entirety: “Chicagoist is a website about Chicago and everything that happens in it,” says the “about” page. According to parent site Gothamist, the “website about New York City and everything that happens in it,” the Windy City version has “posts on all the good food (especially BBQ) in the area and any incidents of tigers in apartments, if they happen to come up; there's [also] been posts about the problems with recruiting cheerleaders in Winnetka, the upcoming Chicago Book Fair; how CTA rail operators shouldn't read the paper or use their cellphones while on the job; the annoying weather; and a baby gorilla at the Lincoln [Park] Zoo!”

Lyons’s bio says the religious-studies major “left the familiar comforts of suburban New York for the Windy City and has made her home in Hyde Park for the last four years. She loves Chicago so much she pretends to understand lake effect and finally stopped calling the El ‘the subway.’” Her latest entry on Chicagoist calls knitting “the new smoking.”

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

May 28, 2004

Comic relief


The first thing Art Spiegelman did when he took the stage was light up a cigarette. “Think of this as performance art,” he said. “That’s the only way they’d let me smoke.” So began the multimedia lecture by the creative writing program’s Kestnbaum writer in residence. Spiegelman achieved national fame in 1992 when he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his graphic novel of Holocaust remembrance, Maus. Thursday afternoon in Court Theatre he addressed a newer trauma, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which he witnessed firsthand. He was mentally paralyzed for months, he said, after rushing to take his daughter out of Stuyvesant High School that morning and witnessing the Twin Towers collapse just a few blocks away as they ran home.

“Everything I know I learned from comics.” Projecting pages of his newest comic, In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman’s attempt to resolve his memory of the catastrophe with the United States’ subsequent militaristic response, he proceeded to a history of comics—which began accidentally, when a new color printing press at Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper failed to reproduce great works of art, forcing the paper to invent the funny pages as a backup plan. When it comes to graphic novels, Spiegelman is interested not so much in superhero fare but rather in underground comics.

Defending his medium as a unique art form with distinct visual semantics, Spiegelman advocated comics’ use to change the frantic, terrorism-obsessed state of American culture. “We have to stick to our convoluted ironies and use them toward an end other than nihilism,” he says. “We need a neosincerity.”

Joseph Liss, '04

Photo: Art Spiegelman depicts "the new normal" after September 11,

About May 2004

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in May 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2004 is the previous archive.

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