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July 2005 Archives

July 1, 2005

They all scream...

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As temperatures rose above 90 degrees Wednesday, summertime undergrads flocked to the ice-cream truck dispensing free Good Humor bars at the edge of Hutch Courtyard just before noon. Under the shade of trees, and fanned by an occasional light breeze, the clump of students waiting for ice cream moved along briskly. After grabbing a chocolate éclair, strawberry shortcake, candy center crunch, toasted almond, or sundae bar, several students clustered in small groups, chatting.

By 12:25 supplies ran out. As Pars Ice Cream employee Roxanne started up the truck, someone called, “Are you coming back?” “In two weeks!” she replied, already on the move.

The free treats came courtesy of the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities (ORCSA), CAPS, and the Alumni Association, whose Noontime Noise programs, featuring live music and free ice cream, are a part of Summer in the City, a series of events for students on campus this summer. Wednesday’s DJ, according to Katy Bologna, a rising second-year and ORCSA’s summer assistant programmer, left his records at home. By the time he returned to the DJ booth at 12:45, the event was over.

“Next time, I promise, there will be music right at 12,” Bologna said. “The DJ messing up is a one-time thing.” Most of the spectators seemed satisfied enough with the ice cream. As Maria Patterson, a rising third-year staying on campus to work in a physics lab, said, “I give it two thumbs up because I like free ice cream.”

Hana Yoo, '07

July 6, 2005

Happy birthday, improv


The Reynolds Club’s third-floor Frances X. Kinahan Theater was packed to its 137-person capacity at last night’s celebration of improvisational theater. Fifty years ago to the day, the Compass, a theater troupe cofounded by David Shepherd and Paul Sills, AB’51, staged the world’s first improv-theater performance in a bar, no longer in existence, at 1152 East 55th Street. Last night’s heat, oppressive despite the open windows, did little to dampen the audience’s laughing and clapping. Besides improv, the show included remarks by emcee Patrick Brennan of Chicago’s WNEP Theater, associate dean of the College Bill Michel, AB’92, University archivist Dan Meyer, AM’75, PhD’94, and Jonathan Pitts, the show’s producer and the Chicago Improv Festival’s executive director.

Meyer—quipping that if any evidence was needed that the event was a historical one, he was it—announced that Shepherd had donated his professional papers to the University archives in the Reg’s Special Collections. “Now we’ve got the goods,” he said. Pitts said he hoped to track down all the living original Compass Players for a reunion performance in November. Although 50 years is a long time for a human being, he said, “[improv] is still a very young art form. It’s still changing, it’s still growing.”

Undergrad improv group Off Off Campus, accompanied by guitarist Ben Lorch, AB’93, AM’04, recreated the Compass’s first performance. In the first act the players spoofed the present day’s news, including song and dance, and acted out a scene centering on a dysfunctional family. After a ten-minute intermission, Off Off returned with two-person scenes based on audience suggestions. Shepherd led a brief Q&A, followed by a reception in the Reynolds Club South Lounge featuring Glaceau vitamin water and a two-layer chocolate and vanilla cake.

Hana Yoo, '07

Photos: David Shepherd watches Off Off Campus rehearse for last night's show (top); The players enact the day's news (bottom).

Photos by Dan Dry

July 8, 2005

Sound buffet


Tucked away in the corner of Goodspeed Hall’s fourth floor, near practice rooms that echo scales and missed notes, sits a musty, church-like concert hall. Wooden beams trace the ceiling’s dramatic arch, black binders packed with scores line the walls, and 20 rows of red-upholstered stacking chairs sit before the stage. A quilted blanket is draped over a grand piano, occupying stage right. Positioned beside the piano, four music stands and black chairs are empty.

Empty, that is, until the four women of the Ardnamara String Quartet file in—a vision in black. As they tote their violins, viola, and cello across the stage to their seats, their high heels click against the wooden floor. Once situated, perched on the edge of their chairs, light streaming in from the window behind them, the quartet begins its performance, part of the Music Department’s noontime concert series. About 20 people enjoy the musical nourishment, including works by Haydn, Shostakovich, and Schubert. One auditor needs more tangible sustenance and eats his lunch during the show—a homemade sandwich housed in Tupperware.

Meredith Meyer, ’06

Photo: Louise Higgins, violin; Rebekah Cope, violin; Karen Schulz-Harmon, cello; and Susan Tanner, viola.

July 11, 2005

Artists ad astra

When Barbara Kern, Crerar’s science reference librarian, heard that John David Mooney—creator of the aluminum-and-crystal, 1984 Crystara sculpture suspended from the skylight of Crerar’s three-story atrium—would be in Chicago for Inspiration of Astronomical Phenoma, a late-June conference on astronomy and the arts, she and her colleagues quickly planned an exhibit exploring the same theme. One of four glass cases encompassing “They Saw Stars: Art and Astronomy” is devoted to Crystara, featuring a Chicago Tribune article praising the installation, photos of the artistic process, and other works by Mooney.

The three other cases in the exhibit, on display through September 1, feature works from 1066 to the present, such as Thomas Wright’s An original theory or new hypothesis of the universe, published in 1750; H.G. Wells’s 1906 science-fiction work In The Days of the Comet; and a 2004 handmade artist’s box including a telescope, paper depictions of several phases of the moon, and a working lunar clock, made by the Regenstein’s Digital Library Development Center codirector, Elisabeth Long.

Hana Yoo, ’07

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Images from the exhibit "They Saw Stars," courtesy the Crerar Library.

July 13, 2005

Swing kids


About 15 minutes into last night’s beginning swing class, the second in the Chicago Swing Dance Society’s six-week summer session, Adeoye M. Mabogunje, AB’04, told the seven females and three males circled around him in pairs, raising their arms as if embracing giant balls and clasping each other’s hands, to hug their partners. Flashing a wide smile, he explained that in swing, you have to touch your partner and feel comfortable with it. Throughout the lesson he and co-instructor Debra Raich, a “Chicago dancer at large,” emphasized the important connection between the lead and the follower. The follower, they said, should be constantly aware of the dance’s natural momentum, never moving without a signal from her lead—the gentle pressure of his hand between her shoulder blades, for instance, or the direction in which he propels his body. By the end of the lessons, a student should be able to swing dance with anyone.

As the novice dancers shimmied around the third-floor theater of Ida Noyes, both without music and to jazzy tunes from big-band CDs Swing America and Compact Jazz: Count Basie, rotating partners with each pause in the dance, Mabogunje clapped the rhythm, shouting out counts and names of moves. He and Raich gave tips such as how to hold one’s arms—like holding a grapefruit or pushing a shopping cart. Around 9 p.m., 45 minutes after the lesson was scheduled to end, the class disbanded, still bubbling with enthusiasm. The instructors encouraged the students to practice—and show off—their new moves at Friday’s Java Jive, a weekly three-hour swing fest preceded by a free one-hour lesson.

Hana Yoo, '07

Photo: Instructors Adeoye M. Mabogunje, AB’04, and Debra Raich.

July 15, 2005

One love evening


Under a generous splash of July evening sun, a colorful seven-man band sent its mellow melodies along the Midway, filling the now-dry ice rink with reggae sound. Attracted by the beat, dog walkers and soccer players wandered over to join the families, summer students, and neighborhood folks dotting the surrounding grass and filling the rickety bleachers across center ice from the stage. A score of kids pranced and wiggled along the rink’s edges, clutching popsicles provided gratis by the Chicago Park District, which cosponsors Reggae on the Midway, along with the University.

“We want to get all different types of music out here,” said Rick Shaheen, Park District supervisor, looking forward to future summer concerts of jazz, blues, and salsa. Wednesday’s show featured Chicago-based Toki Aks, which had the 250-plus crowd swaying to the rhythm. “I hope ya like ja music,” sang the band leader. “Reggae music. Ja music is the cure.”


Photos: Toki Aks jams on the Midway (top); A toddler feels the beat (bottom).

July 18, 2005

Importing history


Among the West Loop’s neglected warehouses and sidewalks, crunchy with broken beer bottles, grows a Japanese garden. Standing at 400 N. Morgan, it belongs to the Douglas Dawson Gallery, relocated last November from the more gentrified River North neighborhood, which was “losing its edge,” according to Wally Bowling, the gallery’s architect.

Inside, amidst a lacquered Burmese Buddha, a Peruvian urn from the Chancay tribe, and a Japanese armoire dating to 1875, the Smart Museum hosted its final event for this year’s Smart Set, a membership program intended to bring together gallery owners and Chicago alumni “who don’t know much about art but are curious and interested in collecting it,” said Katie Malmquist, manager of membership and annual giving at the Smart.

Owner Douglas Dawson put his audience at ease, explaining that he got into the business largely because he was “very uninterested in Western civilization and trying to avoid a real job.” Dawson encouraged the 45 alumni to ask him “anything you’ve always wanted to ask but have been too embarrassed to.” In response to one woman’s query about whether a slender statue was once part of a fertility ritual, Dawson replied, “The two main concerns of ancient art are fertility and ancestor worship. These cover 90 percent of the pieces.” But “this piece,” Dawson assured, “is not a vagina.”

Meredith Meyer, ’06

July 20, 2005

What women want


The idea came by chance to Agraja Sharma, a rising College fourth-year. While filing ledgers for her job at ORCSA, her eye fell upon an account that “wasn’t very active”: A Woman’s Guide to the University of Chicago, a compilation of resources for female students. Flipping through the publication, last released in 2000, Sharma decided to resuscitate the guide.

“I e-mailed all the girls I knew,” said Sharma, including Facebook friends and women who belonged to female-oriented Registered Student Organizations (RSO), like Sex Education Activists and Women and Youth Supporting Each Other. At spring quarter’s end, she assigned volunteers to the 17 chapters from the old guide, which covered issues such as substance abuse, nutrition and exercise, and sexual harassment. Sharma also added new chapters on minority women and women in academics. The group wants to “personalize [the guide] to the University of Chicago,” said Sharma, who found the old guide too general. Another goal, said Raedy Ping, a graduate student in psychology and one of the group’s five administrators, is to make the guide “more applicable to older students” than Chicago Life. They plan to update the Web site (wguide.uchicago.edu), which, Sharma said, will be revised frequently in the future, whereas a paper version of the guide—the first is due out this fall—will come out every two years.

Sharma hopes the revived guide will “build a platform for women’s issues,” providing both information and the opportunity to network with other women and related RSOs. The group is planning to become an RSO, throw a launch party in the fall featuring other female-oriented organizations, hold monthly brown-bag lunches with both students and faculty on women’s issues, and advertise both the guide and the Web site. For now, however, Sharma is excited that the woman’s guide has prompted other campus resources, like the Student Care Center, which had outdated links on its Web site, to update their information. “I can’t believe,” Sharma said, “we’re already making a difference on campus.”

Hana Yoo, ’07

Photo: Psychology grad student Raedy Ping and College fourth-years Agraja Sharma (with 2000 Women's Guide) and Jessica Lent.

July 22, 2005

Renaissance relationships

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Scholars often leave out the East when they write about the Italian Renaissance and too “narrowly divide” Christian and Islamic countries, argued Daniel Goffman in Pick Hall Tuesday. Goffman, AM‘77, PhD’85, who chairs the history department at DePaul University, claimed that the Ottomans and the Italians were much cozier than historians have suggested. In fact, Goffman contended, the “need for the Italian state to be flexible to the Ottoman Empire” was the “chief stimulant” of Renaissance-born diplomacy.

Scanning the crowd of graduate students and faculty, which nearly filled Lecture Hall 016, Goffman noted that he recognized “all but one or two” of the spectators, from the University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and from a talk he gave earlier in the day. This afternoon event, he warned, would be “utterly formal” in contrast to his morning discussion. Goffman planned to read directly from his recent paper, “The Ottoman World in the Construction of the Early Modern State,” because, he joked, “I’m still not sure what I’m trying to say.” Despite that disclaimer, the attendees gripped their pens and, with the ferocity of September freshman, scrawled in their notebooks historical details about the Ottomans’ intimate relationship with Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Meredith Meyer, '06

Photo: Daniel Goffman.

July 25, 2005

Take me out to the ballgame


Two yellow buses parked outside the Reynolds Club Saturday lurched forward shortly after 5 p.m., carrying a full cargo of College students to the 6:05 p.m. White SoxRed Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field. The Office of the Reynolds Club & Student Activities (ORCSA) organized the trip as part of its Summer in the City event series. Once the buses ground to a halt and rising second-year Katy Bologna, ORCSA’s summer assistant programmer, warned that they would leave at 10 p.m. regardless of when the game ended, the students scattered to find their seats, dotted throughout the stadium. Some paused to purchase cheese nachos, a 34-inch Rollin’ Red Super Rope, or funnel cake dusted with powdered sugar.

Although a surprisingly large Red Sox contingent attended the match, rising third-year Ben Zimmerman, on campus this summer for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in physics, said he favored neither team—“I’m a baseball fan,” he said. (Not such a fan that he stayed to watch the game’s outcome; in the fifth inning he ducked out for bubble tea at Joy Yee’s in Chinatown, accompanied by his girlfriend and two friends, arranging his own transportation back to Hyde Park.) In the end the Red Sox, who hold first place in the American League East, beat the AL-Central-leading White Sox 3–0.

Hana Yoo, '07

July 27, 2005

Read me

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“It’s four o’clock,” said Xenia Ruiz, glancing at her watch with a frown. Ruiz, a Chicagoan whose first novel, Choose Me (Walk Worthy Press), came out last month, was scheduled to do a reading and book signing at 4 p.m. this past Friday, but she waited half an hour for friends and family who were “stuck in traffic” to fill the little corner of the Ellis Avenue Barnes & Noble, where four brown couches and six folding chairs were set up. About a dozen audience members eventually trickled in, one bearing a bouquet of yellow roses and a bunch of balloons. Explaining that she had a sore throat and a cough, Ruiz read the prologue of her book in a soft, throaty voice.

During the question-and-answer period, Ruiz said, “I wanted to write an interracial love story.” Her novel follows Eva, a Latina who falls in love with Adam, an African American. In some ways, the book reflects her own life—Ruiz married an African American at 19 and had two college-age children by her 30s. Ruiz also drew inspiration for characters from people she knows. “I took tiny details,” she insisted. “The whole story was fiction.”

Ruiz’s second novel, In the Picture I Have Of You, which she completed years ago but was rejected by publishers, is due out next year as part of the two-book deal she received from Walk Worthy.

Hana Yoo, ’07

July 29, 2005

Copy cat

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A child’s car seat balances atop empty cardboard boxes in a corner of Beecher 310. A cubicle divider barely conceals a computer on the opposite side of the room. The musty-smelling space has no vials or brain charts posted on the walls. Yet it is in rooms like this that Bennett Bertenthal’s cognitive-psychology research team has spent the past three years testing how environment affects the way humans think and behave.

To begin each experiment, graduate student Matthew Longo, AM’04, asks his subject to fill out a survey judging her own capacity for empathy. Then the subject sits before a monitor and watches a computer-generated image of a hand press its index or middle finger down, alternating left and right hands, for about 30 minutes. Longo instructs the subject to press the “1” key with her index finger or the “3” key with her middle finger to indicate whether the computer’s depressed finger is on the left or the right side of the monitor. Later Longo will evaluate if the subject has accurately recorded right or left, or if she merely mimicked the simulated hand’s action. He and other researchers hope to quantify people’s propensity to “unconsciously imitate the behavior they observe” and possibly relate this data to the subject's self-reported ability to empathize with others.

At least 250 people have been tested so far, Longo estimates, using “at least 20 different variants” of the experiment. Last week the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance accepted an article on the tests, which demonstrated that people mimic behavior they observe. The team’s inquiries are not over; they will continue researching the topic “as long as it’s interesting,“ Longo says, and as long as it helps scientists “understand the way people think.”

Meredith Meyer, '06

Photo: Matthew Longo sits at the psych-experiment computer.

Photos of the Week: July 2005 (Postcards from the Quads)

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About July 2005

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in July 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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