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February 2, 2009

Blinded by the light


Henrik Ibsen wastes no time introducing a preoccupation with light in The Wild Duck, and Court Theatre’s latest production, directed by Charles Newell at the Museum of Contemporary Art, engages the theme quite successfully. The script, based on Richard Nelson’s new adaptation, maintains Ibsen's original content largely unaltered. The questionable moral behavior and revealing hereditary blindness that spread from the wealthy industrialist Håkon Werle’s light-filled home end in the breakdown of the family of his former partner, Old Ekdal.

The lighting, designed by Jennifer Tipton, becomes a character in its own right. In the Ekdals' shadowy loft, bare bulbs glow eerily above the action; one backlit wall diffuses the natural light of the outside world, while a humming, actor-operated spotlight illuminates an interrogation between Hialmer Ekdal (Kevin Gudahl) and his wife, Gina (Mary Beth Fisher). Although some players overact, Gudahl and Fisher shine. A well-matched pair, they portray the humor and calamity of Ibsen’s tragedy with ease and accuracy.

As the story unfolds into an untamed hunt for answers, the textures of light interact with the characters’ emotional and physical blindness. And when the play ends and the lights go down, the audience experiences its own blindness in the dark of the theater.

Take the opportunity to be the wild duck watching from the rafters and see the demise of the Ekdals for yourself. The Wild Duck runs through February 15 at the MCA.

Hanna Ernst, U-High’04

A scene from Charles Newell's production of Richard Nelson's new translation of Henrik Ibsen's play The Wild Duck.

Photo by Michael Brosilow, courtesy of the Court Theatre.

February 3, 2009

Phoenix Pix: Feb. 2-6, 2009

Ratner pool

A swimmer practices his breast stroke in Ratner pool last Thursday.

Photo by Dan Dry.

February 4, 2009

Magical thinking

Magazine intern Shira Tevah, ’09, is spending winter quarter abroad as part of Chicago’s African Civilizations course. This is her second dispatch from South Africa.—Ed.

“How to describe Clanwilliam?” Chris Dorsey, program staff and teaching assistant for John Comaroff’s course, repeated a student’s question. “The only thing I can really tell you is it’s magical.” After two-and-a-half hours through beautiful plain and over a mountain—and a tour of African music on Comaroff’s iPod—we arrived in a place that was, indeed, magical: we swam under the stars, examined rock art by flashlight, and learned firsthand about a small part of South Africa’s social, political, and geographic landscape.

Our group stayed at a lodge run by the Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project, which involves residents for local archeology ventures. John Parkington, the most active of five project trustees, persuaded the University of Cape Town, where he chairs the archeology department, to buy the land in 1997. The university, he says, “has an idea of social responsiveness,” and a “responsibility to enrich the local school curriculum.” Clanwilliam’s current claims to fame are rooibos tea and pre-colonial hunter/gatherer rock art, the latter of which Parkington hopes to turn into an economic boon for the town.


The rock art ranges from 10,000 years old to possibly 25,000 or 35,000—“about as old as it gets,” Parkington says. Each set of paintings were likely painted on different occasions, so it’s difficult to accurately place them in time. They depict people and animals in reds and yellows made from iron oxides, what probably once was white clay but has faded, and black. The sites we visited were not spaces for living, Parkington says, but only for ritual drawing. The drawings feature processions of men or women, often carrying weapons for hunting, and creatures that shamans might have seen in visions—half human, half animal.

The people in the paintings, says University of Chicago visiting professor David Bunn, “had a greater proximity to animals and apparent identification with them” than do modern societies, in part because they used poison arrows in hunting that took days to kill. “If you chase an eland for five days,” Parkington adds, “and skin it and put the skin on your wife, and she wears it for the rest of her life, how can you not identify with it?” And old farmer’s legend about baboons maintained that animals understood English and other human languages but refused to speak them because “if they did, they would be enslaved.”

southafrica-rock01.jpgParkington and others started the Clanwilliam project in 1995 by bringing local schoolchildren out to the rock paintings to remove graffiti and gather information. “They loved it,” he says. The University of Cape Town also trained community members to be guides and work in the hospitality industry; the project, which also receives funding from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, currently hires around 35 locals. Parkington envisions people learning crafts and businesses to generate income if, as he hopes, Clanwilliam becomes a place where people come to “learn about archaeology.”

But whether or not the town becomes a hot destination, the work the Living Landscape Project does is an important part of the post-apartheid world. “During apartheid,” Parkington says, “there was no point in thinking about the past because you’d be painting yourself into a caricaturized corner.” Now people can “construct their identity with a foot in the past” and begin to have a history. Some of apartheid’s legacies are harder to undo. For instance, the Living Landscape Project had hoped to reach all schoolchildren, but the area’s schools are still mostly separated by race, and their schedules are not compatible. And, part of the land that holds the rock art is owned by white farmers, some of whom have been reluctant to work with the project.

Parkington’s hopes remain high. After all, “what we’re researching is not only the history of this area,” he says, “but the history of all of us.”

Shira Tevah, ’09

February 6, 2009

On Botany Pond

RevelsTake the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, hand it to the troupe of faculty, staff members, and others from the local community who write, stage, and perform the annual confection of comic scenes and musical parodies known as the Revels, and what do you get? A story line—cowritten by Andy Austin, Sara Paretsky, AM’69, MBA’77, PhD’77, and Will C. White, AB’05—that gives grown-ups a chance to masquerade as pond nymphs, turtles, pirates, and College students.

I quote from the program notes: “…the Revelers travel on the Beadle to the Galapagos, seeking to procure the mitochondrial fluids of an ancient turtle. Professor Codswollop and his brilliant teaching assistant have discovered that these turtle fluids, combined with Gunk from Botany Pond, will create an elixir eliminating the need for Botox, plastic surgery, and exercise. They must, however, beat the evil Big Pharm CEO Stacy Starkweather, who is after the same turtle and (horrors!) has plans to then drain Botany Pond! A beautiful French student and some trans-species mutation complicate the plot.”

The January 30–31 show was the last for Michael and Lee Behnke, who revived the Revels a decade ago. This June the Behnkes (he’s vice president for College enrollment; she’s director of the undergraduate Latin program in classics) return to their native New England. Gunk was dedicated to them, and with reason: Lee produced (Howard Timms directed) and Michael played himself, a.k.a. Il Doce, patter-singing admissions-related lyrics, written by Hyde Parker Ted C. Fishman, to the tune of “The Major-General Song” from The Pirates of Penzance:

I am the cheery fellow who lures students so that they’ll enroll
I’ve information rational, emotional, commerci’al
I co-urt high school couns’lors, and I woo their scho-ols’ honor roll
From Baltimore to Baraboo, I scout for kids cajole-able…

Another star turn came when Paretsky, as Stacy Starkweather, unleashed her inner diva, bringing down the house with her shopaholic’s lyrics to the “Vissi d’arte” aria from Tosca:

Vissi Prada, vissi Armani
I only did evil so I could buy clothes
Vissi Bulgari, vissi Manolo Blahnik

Sempre, with a faith sincere,
I shopped in Milan and the rue Saint-Honoré…

And, in a cameo role also cast to type, English professor emeritus David Bevington wandered happily amidst a bevy of text-messaging undergrads, occasionally looking up from his book (horrors!) to offer commentary straight from the Bard:

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”


Photos courtesy of humanities lecturer Emmanuelle Bonnafoux.

The Revels, from top to bottom: Michael Behnke is the very model of "A Very Modern U of Enrollment General"; French-exchange student Emma (played by Sara Stern, left) temporarily foils the evil Stacy Starkweather (Sara Paretsky) by sending her on a shopping trip; Emma, TA Tripalong (Trip Driscoll), and Professor Codswollop's students belt out a song.

February 9, 2009

Down home music

folkfest09.jpgEach February I come away from the University’s Folk Festival with ringing ears, stomping feet, and a handful of new tunes to try on my mandolin. I also come away with a spinning head: this year’s weekend marathon included music from the Irish headlands, the Scottish highlands, Siberian plains, the Louisiana bayou, the Appalachian mountains, and the Chicago's South Side. Dozens of artists converged on Ida Noyes Hall to teach French Canadian quadrilles, Arabic maksoum, electric blues, and sacred harp singing. Organized by the student-run U of C Folklore Society the 49th annual festival wound to a close Sunday night with a sprawling, four-hour concert featuring five bands and five different styles of North American roots music.

I'm still just a beginner on the mandolin—my musical education comes in fits and starts—but this year I’m determined to conquer “Fall on My Knees,” a galloping old-time tune that Rhythm Rats fiddler Kenny Jackson, an Ohioan-turned-North-Carolinian, described during Sunday’s concert as the second official song of Surry County, North Carolina, my home state. (The ubiquitous “Sally Ann,” he said, takes first place.) I left Mandel Hall humming the melody and was still humming it when I got home. I should have gone to bed—it was after 11 p.m.—but instead I pulled my mandolin out of its case and started picking out notes, feeling for chords.

Lydialyle Gibson

To the old-time cadences of the Rhythm Rats, festival-goers (above) do-si-do their way through a Sunday afternoon barn dance in Ida Noyes's Cloister Club.

Cajun players (from left) Missy Roser, Heather Cole-Mullen '09, Charlie Terr, and Gene Losey met up in Hutch Commons Sunday evening for an informal pre-concert performance.

The Chicago Sacred Harp Singers drew a large crowd to Ida Noyes's second floor, where singers took turns standing at the center of a "hollow square" and calling out hymn numbers to summon a room full of voices.

Chicago guitarist and mandolin player Billy Flynn (right) led a blues workshop in the Ida Noyes library Sunday afternoon.

February 10, 2009

Phoenix Pix: Feb. 9-13, 2009

Folk Festival 2009

Folk Festival guests participate in a barn dance workshop.

Photo by Dan Dry.

February 11, 2009

Information Booth


Robyn Gelfand has been considering getting an MBA for about two years now. An account supervisor at a Denver marketing firm, she’s planning a move to Chicago with her husband. “The time is right” for her to return to school, she said before a Chicago Booth prospective-student information session last Friday.

And her decision has nothing to do with the recession, she emphasizes. “I’m happily employed right now, but I feel that business school is a valuable long-term investment.”

info-session.jpgOther applicants may not be so lucky in this economic climate. Chicago Booth has always been very competitive, but the school’s admissions committee has noticed higher-than-usual interest this year. “We have definitely experienced an increase in visitors over the past few months,” says assistant director of admissions Carrie Lydon.

Friday's session drew ten crisply dressed 20-somethings, including two men from India here on business—they work for the global management-consulting firm ZS Associates—who decided to check out the school. At the front of the room sat Andrea Schmoyer, Chicago Booth’s associate director of admissions and financial aid, and Cassandra Davis, a first-year MBA student, both taking questions from the eager attendees—about study-abroad opportunities, this year’s pool of applicants, and how career services is working to help students and alumni. Davis praised the career-services office, explaining that its staff reached out to the first-years as early as August to explain how to stand out “when you are out with the rest of the masses.” Recruiters still come to campus, though not quite as often as before, and her classmates have gotten internships and jobs: “There was celebration this year.”

The session wasn’t all shop talk. “No social-life questions?” Davis asked toward the end, noting that 70 percent of first-year MBA students don’t live in Hyde Park because there aren’t many good bars or restaurants. (Note: This writer disagrees: Jimmy’s is a charming neighborhood watering hole, and the U of C Pub offers a great beer selection. Also, more restaurants have been populating Hyde Park every year—the recently opened Shinju Sushi on 53rd offers quite tasty all-you-can-eat sushi. And the Med, Dixie Kitchen, Harold’s—classic!) Davis did highlight the selection of daily campus events and social activities open to Booth students: “You can be busy every day of the week if you want to.”

Ruth E. Kott, AM’07

Photos by Dan Dry.

Top: Chicago Booth offers daily half-day visits for prospective students, which include a tour of the Charles M. Harper Center. Bottom: The number of visitors has increased over the past few months; this past Monday's information session drew more than 15 potential applicants.

February 13, 2009

In love with love—and lousy poetry

Washington Prom couple, 1954

When midterms fall close to Valentine’s Day, it feels like the most serious, long-term relationship you can cultivate at Chicago is with the Library. The Reg is accepting, intelligent, and has a wonderful collection of books that you can borrow whenever you like. Although a library will never take you out to dinner or buy you flowers, it can still provide thrilling companionship—and the Reg always remembers to send students a valentine in the form of a special afternoon exhibit of rare books about love (or lack thereof). Special Collections Research Center librarians even offered candy, cookies, literary trivia, and temporary tattoos that read “U of C Library.” It was the best valentine I could have hoped for.

Masque of Youth, 1916People have been publishing about romance almost as long as they’ve been publishing at all—the earliest book on display was a 1515 version of the Roman de la Rose, a poem about a man who dreams that he has fallen in love with a flower. The Library recently acquired the original manuscript of the 13th-century poem. Other early modern books included a small volume on emblems of love, which provided detailed illustrations that lead into the text (written in Latin, English, Italian, and French) and an etiquette guidebook for the English gentleman that includes one of the first known uses of the word “fop.”

One Victorian book provided advice about becoming a mother while another warned against the “consolations of spinsterhood.” The Reg also displayed valentines (including a quite full dance card) from the 1914–15 scrapbook of Helena Jameson Stevens, U-High’14, PhB’18.

The last display of books, appropriately titled Love Gone Wrong, offered a 19th-century poem in verse about the romance of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, a cautionary tale called Satan in Search of a Wife, and a first edition of Charles Bukowski’s Love is a Dog from Hell, whose opening section carries the epigraph, “one more creature dizzy with love.”

Rose Schapiro, ’09

A couple enjoys a moment together at Washington Prom, 1954; students perform a Masque of Youth allegory titled "The Gift" in the Women's Quadrangles at the dedication of Ida Noyes Hall, 1916.

Photos courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center.

February 16, 2009

A presidential drugstore

“What is up with the Obama Walgreens?” a North Side friend wanted to know.

I had never really thought about it. It’s my local Walgreens, on the corner of 55th Street and Lake Park, and I’m in there at least twice a week. But its transformation into Barack Obama Headquarters—and it says so on the LED sign out front—was so gradual, I was like the frog that had been dropped into a pot of cold water and then boiled alive without realizing the water was getting warmer.

The store’s Obamafication took five years. In 2004 Obama, then an ambitious Illinois senator and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Store manager Kevin Crowley picked up Obama’s biography, Dreams from My Father, and liked it so much he started stocking it. At the time, it was Obama’s local Walgreens, too, and on one of his shopping expeditions he signed Crowley’s copy. Later Obama signed a photograph for Crowley, who hung copies of it next to all 15 registers. Despite the Hyde Park connection, a few customers complained, Crowley says: “Not everybody’s a Democrat.”

A month after Inauguration Day the store still stocks hundreds of Obama products, though “Valentine’s Day has cut into his shelf space,” says Crowley. There are both of his books, one on Michelle Obama, and numerous magazines. There are T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats. There are posters, plaques, pennants, a commemorative plate, and a coffee mug. There is a teddy bear, dressed in an Obama T-shirt, that dances to James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good).”

The two most popular products, Crowley says, are Spider-Man #583 ("Spidey Meets the President!") and the talking pen, which plays—quite loudly—two excerpts from Obama’s election-night speech in Grant Park. Crowley was skeptical about the pen until a customer came by and bought five before he had finished unpacking the box. He estimates he sells about 25 a day for $7.99 each.

obama-doll.jpgThe most controversial item, of which Crowley sold 300 but no longer stocks, was an Obama doll that danced to the tune “Oh Susanna.” As some patrons made plain, the Stephen Foster song was originally written to be performed in blackface. “Older customers were offended,” Crowley says. “I had no idea.” By that time, Obama was too famous to shop in the store personally. But a campaign staffer told Crowley, “He knows, and he’s OK with it.”

Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93

A cell-phone camera captured the "Oh Susanna" Obama dolls dancing on the shelves at the Obama Walgreens last fall. Carrie Golus, AB'91, AM'93

Photo by Mary Ruth Yoe.

February 18, 2009

All that's write

Shaindel Beers' poetry bookIntroducing one of her older poems, Michelle Taransky, AB’04, noted that it "was actually written in the Classics Café, so dreams do come true.” The poem was among the first Taransky had written about barns—she now has a forthcoming book devoted to the subject. And the Classics Café? Right upstairs.

Last week dozens of current and former students filled a reading by alumnae poets in the high-ceilinged Classics 110. Tied to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference held in the city February 11-14, the reading featured four poets with forthcoming or recent works—and also reunited the poets with their former professors, friends, and a building where they once found inspiration.

Kiko Petrosino's poetry bookThe first writer, Shaindel Beers, AM’00, had her collection A Brief History of Time released the day before. Beers asked the audience to shout out numbers between one and 65, and she recited the poems, ranging in form from sonnet to sestina, on the suggested pages. After reading a poem in which she gave her age as 27, Beers paused and smiled: “I sent this to publishers for many years, so I’d be very happy if you still thought I was 27.”

Kiki Petrosino, AM’04, was next. Her manuscript, to be published this summer, is a series of poems to a lover named Robert Redford (the title, Fort Red Border, is an anagram of the actor’s name). In her first poem, “This Will Darken the Cabin,” she and Redford fly into Las Vegas on a night plane, drinking brandy in plastic snifters and feeling uncomfortable in first class.

Stephanie Anderson, AB’03, an English doctoral student at Chicago, read several poems from her manuscript and several short collage poems. After she finished, the audience lingered only briefly. While nostalgia for the Classics Café can be a powerful thing, the conference was in full swing, and most of the poets had other readings to give or attend.

Rose Schapiro, ’09

Phoenix Pix: Feb. 16-20, 2009

Crumpled Press

Crumpled Press editors—Jordan McIntyre, AB’99; Alexander Bick, AB’99; Aaron Tugendhaft, AB’99, AM’06; and Nicholas Jahr—oversee the hand assembly of Codex in Crisis by historian Anthony Grafton, AB'71, PhD'75.

Photo by Adam Nadel, AB'90.

February 20, 2009

Hop to it!

peepshelves.jpgThe Magazine’s Peeps Diorama Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, March 29. Alumni or their families are invited to create a Maroon-themed scene using the sprinkled-sugar and marshmallow chicks and bunnies. Then e-mail us a high-resolution JPEG of the finished scene (a campus spot, a local hero, or a book, phrase, film, or production inspired by Chicago or linked to a Chicago alum) and sit back to see if you’ve won a prize (first-, second-, and third-place prizes of $250, $150, and $100). The winning dioramas will appear in the May–June/09 issue, and all entries will be exhibited in an online gallery.

Public knowledge

* Highlight the white areas with your cursor to reveal the trivia question answers.

Pub Trivia NightIn the basement of Ida Noyes, bartenders at the U of C Pub poured pitchers of PBR and Carlsberg as University students, alumni, staff, and their friends prepped for one of their favorite forms of intellectual combat: Pub Trivia Tuesday.

A trivia neophyte, I spent the evening as a guest member of team Null Set, also known as the Six Sigma Deviants, n Angry Men, and Edmund Mozzarella Fitzgerald (depending on what suits the team's fancy on any given week). They’re a longtime Pub Trivia force composed of Dean Armstrong, Carolyn Jannace, Dan Lascar, Benjamin Recchie (all AB’03), and Peggy Wilkins, AB’92. Facing approximately 12 other teams with spirited monikers like Guido and the Hugo Chávez Reelection Committee, we were ready for battle.

When Johanna and Jeff Jay, AM’98, covered Pub Trivia basics back in 2004 for UChiBLOGo, they noted a “reservoir of knowledge” necessary for success. This week, drawing on their own data pool, Null Set aced questions about science (what does the acronym LASER stand for?) (Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation); the classics (whose death does Achilles avenge by killing Hector of Troy?) (Patroclus); and pop culture (in Battlestar Galactica, what sport does Sam play before the attack on the Twelve Colonies?) (Pyramid). A few of the more challenging questions (e.g., Dhaka is the capital of what country?) sparked debate: “I got it—Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh.” “Are you sure?” “Can you name the capital of Bangladesh?” “No.” “Then write that down.” Others—like name one of Abraham’s eight children besides Isaac and Ishmael (Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah, all with third wife Keturah)—left us and everyone else stumped.

As the organizers tabulated final scores, the Jerry Sadock Experience surged from behind to seize the top spot. Null Set spent the evening flip-flopping between second and third place but somehow finished a disappointing fifth. Perhaps the burden of my dead weight was too much for the team to bear, though I did know that the Jeffersons “moved on up” to Manhattan from Queens. No matter—the contestants will be back next week, hungrier than ever for a win.

Katherine Muhlenkamp

After announcing the final standings, the Pub Trivia organizers kick back and discuss.

February 23, 2009

20,000’s a crowd

oliver-poster.jpgSome 20,000 students eagerly wedged into the 985-seat Mandel Hall Saturday night to watch the comedic stylings of the Daily Show’s executive producer Rory Albanese and correspondent John Oliver. The fire marshal appeared about 15 minutes in to break up the dangerously large crowd, but quickly abandoned that task, hypnotized by the two comedians’ quirky, intelligent, and (need we say it?) side-splitting stand-up routines. So, just to reiterate: way more people came to this year’s Major Activities Board comedy show than last year’s, which featured the eponymous star of the new Comedy Central show Important Things with Demetri Martin (also a former Daily Show correspondent).

OK, OK, Oliver and Albanese told us to say that. (Oliver’s British accent is very persuasive.) When the MAB coordinators drove the funnymen to campus, they reported that the tickets sold were actually 100 fewer than last year. Not wanting to appear less popular than Martin, Oliver and Albanese appealed to the University of Chicago bloggers in the audience (ahem) to report that the duo had surpassed last year’s sold-out show.

During the two-hour show, the comedians seemed delighted to find themselves in a room full of “nerds” who had “stopped doing homework to come to a comedy show” on a campus that reminded Oliver of a “Dickensian wonderland.” When the auditorium went wild over punch lines about Milton Friedman, the Catholic Church’s testy relationship with Galileo, and the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese hands, it was hard to tell who was more amused: the audience or the comics.

After their performances, Oliver and Albanese took questions from the audience, discussing topics such as working with Jon Stewart (“We’ve never met him”), how to break into comedy (plenty of stand-up), the outlook for Liverpool football (not good), and the best place in Hyde Park to grab a post-show drink (inconclusive).

Elizabeth Chan and Ruth E. Kott, AM’07

Oliver's Daily Show interview of Kenyan ambassador Zachary Muburi-Muita (embedded above) went a bit "too far," he admitted to the Mandel audience.

February 24, 2009

Phoenix Pix: Feb. 23-27, 2009

Lucas Whitehead in Urinetown

Lucas Whitehead, ’09, practices his role as Urinetown’s hero Bobby Strong in the winter 2009 collaboration between TAPS and UT.

Photo by Dan Dry.

Submit your best University of Chicago-themed photos to Phoenix Pix.

February 25, 2009

Is this thing on?

Somewhere, a guy named Will finally has a human face to put on his restraining order. That face belongs to Ezra Deutsch-Feldman, ’10, political-science student, comic troubadour, and skulking admirer of this Will dude.

He even wrote a song about him:

Never let it be said that unrequited love taken to creepy extremes cannot be funny. In the hands of the amateur comedians who participated in Monday's RooftopComedy.com National College Standup Competition, that and other unsettling set-ups (punching a nun, the symbolism of a swastika) inspired the coveted reaction—spontaneous, authentic laughter, as opposed to the forced, sympathetic variety that serves only to break the agonizing silence. There was some of that throughout the competition, too.

Three alumni run RooftopComedy.com—CEO Will Rogers (swear to God, that’s his name), MBA’98; COO Alex Zelikovsky, MBA’96; and board member Hans Roderich, MBA’94. The company records live performances and provides content for a variety of media from its library of stand-up, sketch comedy, improv, and short films. It also produces events like the competition that turned the Reynolds Club's McCormick Tribune Lounge into Zanies for a night.

Eight students participated, and all of them advanced to compete as a team in a school-against-school Midwest regional stand-up standoff against Columbia College. Winners will be determined through formal judging and audience voting, in person and online. The final four teams will perform at the Aspen RooftopComedy Festival in June.

For Charles Arbuthnot, ’09, thinking ahead to June conjures concerns about what he will do for a living. Despite his stint on stage Monday, it probably will not be stand-up comedy, though a bad economy could lead to a lot of free time and open-mic nights. “It’s probably something that maybe I would have time to do if I don’t get a real job straight out of college,” the English and economics major said after his performance, “which I hope to do.”

If anybody will fall into something, he’s the guy:

Jason Kelly

February 26, 2009

No plain white T's here

The editors of the Core, the College supplement to the University of Chicago Magazine, have a theory: the T-shirt is a very Chicago form of expression. Now we’d like you to prove it in practice. Send us your favorite U of C T-shirt phrases and stories for an upcoming article. Photos are welcome, too.

E-mail uchicago-magazine@uchicago.edu (with “T-shirts” in the subject line) by March 2.

Laura Demanski, AM’94

Sneaking in some study time while selling a classic U of C T-shirt for Breckinridge House.

Photo by Lloyd DeGrane.

February 27, 2009

I wear my 3D glasses at night

Charming AugustineFiltering into the Film Studies Center on Thursday evening, we were each handed a pair of what looked like very unattractive sunglasses. They were plastic, black, and flimsy, but also absolutely essential for the evening’s program, a selection of films avant-garde filmmaker Zoe Beloff chose to contextualize her film Charming Augustine, a 40-minute stereoscopic work inspired by photographs of Paris’s Salpêtrière asylum in the 1870s.

Charming Augustine dramatizes the story of a young girl, Augustine, who was the most photographed patient at the asylum. Augustine’s poses both evoked her madness and alluded to the expressiveness of classical acting, and every word she spoke during her hysteric fits was documented. Beloff said that she set out to make the film that “the doctors wanted to make,” imagining the intersection of medical documentary and the medium of sound film, which would not be invented for another 50 years.

Underlining this point, Beloff showed D. W. Griffith’s melodrama The Painted Lady, the story of a young woman who is betrayed by her sweetheart and kills him by mistake before collapsing in hysteric fits and hallucinations. She followed it with the medical film A Case History of Multiple Personality, which features a woman taking on various personae in the company of her neighbors and friends.

To show Charming Augustine, Beloff wheeled out a special screen. The three-dozen audience members donned their glasses as the lights went down, and the projector, located in the center aisle, began its steady whirring. Beloff picked the stereoscopic format partly to evoke the feeling of what the film might have been if made in the 19th century, explaining that many of the photographs doctors took were in stereo, and that “the 19th century was actually much more about stereoscopic images than the 20th turned out to be.” The result was a lush black-and-white image that popped from the screen, with a pronounced, eerie foreground. The story of Augustine’s fits moves into her ether dreams and hallucinations, and finally concludes when Augustine steals men’s clothes and escapes the asylum—an ending taken directly from reality. The real Augustine was never heard from again.

Rose Schapiro, ’09

About February 2009

This page contains all entries posted to UChiBLOGo in February 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2009 is the previous archive.

March 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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