Monday, September 29, 2014

Greetings 9.30.14



Greetings!

Well, here we are, just over a month into the Fall Semester and if you’re anything like me, it is at this point that you are evaluating your classes and the work and reading required and have come to the realization that you made a huge mistake!

“What am I doing?” you are no doubt asking yourself as you plough through the canon of Western Literature, “Dear Lord, I’m not smart enough to get through all of this! What have I done? Christ! I thought English was supposed to be the easy major!”

After this fit of hysteria, you are almost certainly slumping down into a dark corner of your apartment; silently weeping in between sips of 90 proof grain alcohol while a recorded message of your Mother saying, “It will all be okay,” repeats in the background.

Don't worry; this is all perfectly normal.

Besides, you can always swing by the English Major’s Counseling Office! We can answer questions about your major trajectory, help you to declare a major, or just be a sympathetic ear you can vent your frustrations to.

Also, we have chocolate and a water cooler. So, yeah, it’s pretty sweet!

You may also be thinking to yourself, “Hey, I want to get out of this stink hole of a country for a little while, but I want to get school credit for doing so!”

We got you covered. There are several exciting Study Abroad programs that you can find out about in the English Major’s Counseling Office or by going here: http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/academics/international/opportunities.php

Maybe you want to work out your frustrations through the magic of the written word? Then come to the English Major’s Writing Circle. We meet every Tuesday 12:30-2:00. Every genre is welcome: poetry, prose, plays-but you stay away screenwriters! You’re not welcome in Boylan! (Editor’s note: please disregard that last part: screenwriters are more than welcome if they are so inclined!)









News Briefs: Community Accountability, A Survivor's Protest

Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University Student is a survivor. She was raped on campus by a fellow student in August of 2012, and although she appeared before a campus disciplinary committee to report the rape, the perpetrator was not found responsible for the crime. This is a recurring scenario on thousands of college campuses across the country. The bureaucratic way in which a highly sensitive assault such as rape is handled on these campuses, puts the victim at a huge disadvantage. Emma not only had to relive the horrendous ordeal in front of a panel of strangers, but the victimizer wasn't disciplined in anyway, and he remained on campus. This is despite two other victims coming forward and stating that this man had also raped them. It was proven that he had raped one of them, but it was dismissed by the dean of students after he appealed it, without the survivor being present. Unfortunately, he got away with it because she had already graduated.
This is where community accountability plays a major role in supporting victims of rape. Emma protested. For her senior thesis project this year, Emma carried around a mattress on campus with tremendous support from other students. Her project is called "Carry the weight,"and she carries this mattress to every class. On September 12th, hundreds of students wore red tape on their mouth to symbolize the silencing and handling of rape victims on Columbia's campus. Emma is determined to carry this mattress until the perpetrator is expelled, or leaves on his own.

Cites: www.Democracynow.org
www.Huffingtonpost.com
www.thinkprogress.org

News Brief 9.29.14



Margaret Atwood, Vultures, and Centennials

Obscenely talented and thoughtful and -provoking author, Margaret Atwood, really likes vultures. If you follow her on twitter you've probably seen her copious mentions of Birdlife, an organization dedicated to the conservation of bird populations worldwide. Their newest venture, which Atwood also has copious mentions of, is saving the vulture. Yaknow, these lovely guys:


Or, perhaps more appropriately, these guys, if we're going to get to the point:



Atwood has been a vocal proponent of conservation for a while now. Besides this recent campaign to save the vulture—which, let's all agree, made one of the best scenes in American literature when Faulkner had them stalking the Bundren family in As I Lay Dying—she is also the honorary president of The Rare Bird Club of Birdlife International, and has gone so far as to write a book that won't be published for one hundred years, when the trees being used to print it have grown enough as part of the Future Library project to encourage conservation. Though, however cool and amazing the latter is, is still infuriating to me because I'd have to reach the age of 119 to read the damned thing.



How To Talk About Feminism in the 21st Century

I’ve been aching to write about this all summer, and now is the perfect opportunity.

Earlier this week, Emma Watson delivered a powerful, impactful speech at the United Nations to launch a new campaign called He for She, which encourages men to “speak about the inequalities faced by women and girls.”

I wanted to write my blog post on this, because I thought that it was not only a beautiful and moving speech, but also because I’m glad that someone finally dismissed feminism as a misandrist construct. Too many people (women included) consider the feminist agenda a crusade against men, fueled by an inconceivable loathing for and aggression toward them. And, as far as I’m concerned, erasing that misconception was a smart step in the right direction; understanding feminism as an advocacy for equality rather than a retaliation is the key toward its success as a movement. I could comment on how the only reason people deem Emma Watson’s speech “revolutionary” is because she’s a well-liked and well-known celebrity, but I’m not going to because—regardless of “problems” with her speech or her impact—it’s a step in the right direction.

There are people, however, who simply can’t appreciate the step in the right direction, and have to censure Watson (and those whom she impacted) in articles like this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/xojane-/emma-watson-feminism_b_5884246.html

In her article “Sorry White Privileged Ladies, but Emma Watson Isn’t a ‘Game Changer’ for Feminism,” Amy McCarthy all but ridicules Watson’s inadvertent promotion of gender binaries and white privilege. She argues, “To begin with, the name ‘He For She’ is problematic, no matter how you slice it. Some may call these criticisms divisive and nitpicky, but there is nothing feminist about a campaign that reinforces a gender binary that is harmful to people whose gender identities don't fit into such tidy boxes. When we reinforce the idea that only people who neatly fit the gender binary are worthy of being protected and supported, we erase and exclude the people who are at most risk of patriarchal violence and oppression.”

Am I missing something here? Is McCarthy really narrow-minded enough to think that Watson is consciously (or even subconsciously) “reinforcing” gender binaries, all because the name of the campaign is “He for She”? Does McCarthy have a better suggestion for a name that includes everyone? The name “He for She” is not meant to exclude people who fall in the middle of the gender spectrum; as Watson asserted in her speech, it’s an effort to get men who had previously balked at feminism to support the feminist movement and acknowledge the inequalities from which women suffer. “He” does not invite only biological men; “she” does not include only biological women. The campaign includes everyone who’s been impacted by sexism or wants to change the face of feminism to take a stand. “He for She” is a pithy, monosyllabic name. It’s catchy, it works as a hashtag, and it drives home Watson’s argument that men (whether cisgender, gay, or transgender) should take a part in the feminist movement. That’s it.

Would McCarthy have preferred “S/he for S/he”? Is this really an issue? The campaign is all-inclusive; it doesn’t take a psychologist to pinpoint Watson’s intentions of inclusion.

But let’s go further. McCarthy continues to lambaste Watson for “mainstreaming feminism” and ignoring the transgender women, black women, and obese women who are oppressed for reasons pertaining to their respective adjectives. I’m not denying that racism, fatphobia, and transphobia are pervasive issues in this country. But the point is that whether black, obese, or transgender, all these people have been marginalized, in part, because they are women. They’ve all suffered oppression because of their gender. Watson does not go on to address the other problems that overweight women or black women face because, if that were the case, she could’ve gone on forever. If a woman experiences oppression because of her color, that’s racism. That’s a whole separate issue that deserves another speech entirely of its own. Watson did not neglect other forms of societal oppression because she’s a privileged, blissful white idiot who only cares about her own problems (as McCarthy suggests); she elected not to bring them up because they comprise entirely separate issues. Racism is its own issue, sexism is its own issue, homophobia/transphobia is its own issue. Would it have been nice to include all those problems under the umbrella of institutional oppression in one, giant super speech? Sure. But for now, Watson is focusing on feminism and sexism – and her speech invokes ALL women—women of color, obese women, transgender people, short women, and tall women alike—to embrace their want for equality; and she invokes ALL men to advocate for this equality.

To criticize her efforts as “mainstream” and accuse her of being motivated by her white privilege is infuriatingly ignorant and narrow-minded. I don’t mean to be so reductive when I say that problems like racism, sexism, and homophobia/transphobia are completely separate issues, because they are, after all, modes of oppression. But they are forms of discrimination motivated by entirely different historical prejudices. In order to eliminate each form of oppression, you have to deconstruct all the myths surrounding it and bulldoze the foundation that supports it. And that’s exactly what Watson did. She chose one issue (an issue that inherently includes all women and all who identify as women) and focused on destroying its foundation.

I agree that she’s not a “game changer” for feminism, but her destruction of the “aggressive, hairy-legged feminist” misconception was a necessary and smart move in the right direction for feminism. And maybe it’s been said and done before, but I think our country needed a reminder.

-Alex Hajjar

Currently Reading: Just Kids



This blog post is going to be a lie, because at the moment I’m not currently reading anything. I recently read William Wycherley’s The Country Wife and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for class, but neither of those is worth discussing in a blog post. The most recent book I read (apart from those) was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but I already wrote a blog post about that...

So, instead, I’m going to retroactively discuss one of my favorite books. Patti Smith’s Just Kids is a heartbreaking autobiography that haunted my memory all throughout college. It’s the story of Patti Smith’s rise to stardom, although her actual fame comprises only a fraction of the book. The real story lies in her gritty young adulthood and relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.

Patti Smith briefly recounts her upbringing—her relationship with her mom, her siblings, her father, the abortion through which she suffered at the age of 16, and her decision to move to New York City at 18. My mom laughed when she got to that part in the book because it reminded her of how different her and my generations are. “Okay, sweetie. Go to NYC with no money, no plans, and no connections. Go ahead! Go be an artist!” she paraphrased. My mom continued to muse on how carefree parents were with their children in the 60s, but subsequently concluded that children learn best when they’re forced to be independent, make mistakes, and learn from them on their own. In the first 30 pages, Smith’s autobiography draws a sharp, black line between Generations X and Y – painting a picture of complete independence of which college students today could never conceive, and prompting adults to reflect on their pasts.

Just Kids acts as a time portal that lures the reader into the corners of Smith’s mind—reminiscences of her childhood, family, impoverished adulthood and her companion, Robert. Her relationship with Robert comprises the bulk of the book. She illustrates the abject poverty in which they lived, the illnesses they incurred because of how poorly they ate, Robert’s struggle with his sexuality, and more. Their relationship is, by no means, something out of a John Green book, and Robert certainly is anything but a quirky, life-saving teenage archetype whom girls and guys wish they could marry. He is flighty, confusing, unpredictable (not in a quirky, romantic, Augustus Waters-type way), and difficult to understand. But he’s reliable. What’s beautiful about their story is that they grow up together. There’s one scene in the book when Patti describes Robert’s recent sexual awakening, possible homosexuality, and liking to genital piercings. She says,
When Robert returned from San Francisco, he seemed both triumphant and troubled. It was my hope that he would come back transformed, and he did, but not in the way I imagined. Even though he had experienced a sexual awakening, he still hoped that we could find some way of continuing our relationship. I wasn’t sure if I could come to terms with his new sense of self, nor he with mine. As I wavered, he met someone, a boy named Terry, and he embarked on his first male affair. (78) 
I’m not one for mawkish, romanticized depictions of relationships, or books about relationships in general. But there’s such a heartbreaking truth in Patti Smith’s words; such a mournful, yet fond tone in her writing when she talks about Robert. Although she didn’t always understand him, and he didn’t always understand her, they made it work. They accepted each other’s flights of fancy and grew up together. And no matter what adversity landed on their shoulders, they overcame together.

I recently read an article in the Huffington Post that vilified Generation Y parents for raising helpless children who can’t delay gratification or accept failure as a part of their lives because they’ve been raised to learn that they’re “special” even though they never did anything to warrant the title. While I agreed with the article’s argument, I admit that I am a bit of a Generation Y kid – unable to wait for results and unable to take small steps to reach success because I’m anxious that I’m wasting time. Just Kids is all about delayed gratification, patience, understanding, accepting and learning from failure, and accepting other people’s mistakes and flaws as a part of what makes them so real. Like Smith, I have no idea where my life is headed, and that’s fine. After all, we’re just kids.
—Alex Hajjar

Five Directions to My House
Juan Felipe Herrera, 1948

1. Go back to the grain yellow hills where the broken speak of elegance
2. Walk up to the canvas door, the short bed stretched against the clouds
3. Beneath the earth, an ant writes with the grace of a governor
4. Blow, blow Red Tail Hawk, your hidden sleeve—your desert secrets
5. You are there, almost, without a name, without a body, go now
6. I said five, said five like a guitar says six.

When I read Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Five Directions to my House”, I did so  without acknowledging the numbers at the beginning of each line. It didn't dawn on me to read them as words (“one, two, three” etc.), because the title indicated that the poem was a list. I treated the numbers as if they were invisibly organizing a chronological list, and nothing more. After reading the poem once, I noticed that there were six lines as opposed to the number five indicated in the title. On the second reading, I focused on why there was a sixth line, and what I thought it meant. I thought about the amount of  strings on a standard guitar. I wondered if the words  “I said five, said five”on line six, was maybe in reference to a bass guitar and its amount of strings, and “like a guitar says six,” was perhaps alluding to an acoustic guitar, because it has six strings.

When a poem is read aloud, the poet has the power to present it the way they intended. I've posted a link below of Herrera performing his piece as well as an admittedly underwhelming explanation of the poem. I do not believe in explaining a creative piece because it puts it in jeopardy of losing its credibility.

Five directions to my house: http://youtu.be/8UPjEcaCG5E




Currently Watching: The Leftovers

After watching the entire first season of this show, I must admit that I am clueless as to what it is entirely about. I get that the plot is to figure out why a significant percentage of the world's population disappeared suddenly, but after watching ten episodes, there is barely a hint towards a reason. It is beyond frustrating, but yet I've still watched every episode with the hope of finding out something. I see the potential brilliance in this show, so I have not given up on it.

The mystery as to what happened has a strong enough pull to keep an audience coming back for answers week after week. It's grim, gory at times and teeters on the cusp of suspense. The script is carefully written, as not to compromise whatever secret it is hiding between its lines.

The story centers around a small suburb in upstate New York, three years after the sudden mass exodus. Justin Theroux is the main character in this series. He becomes acting sheriff after his dad (Scott Glenn) seemed to have had a psychotic break during the exact moment of the reaping.

After each episode, I was left feeling uneasy. I don't know if that makes a show great or terrible, and I think that's why I watched every episode. What I do love about this show is that it investigates the different ways in which humanity deals with loss.

There is a chain smoking, non verbal, all white wearing cult that forms right afterwards. They are called the "GR," or the "Guilty Remnant." They recruit vulnerable victims who cannot get over the trauma of what happened. Some people are drawn to them, and willingly give up their lives to live a minimized shell of a version of their life sans their remaining relatives. There is also a creepy man that keeps a harem of under aged Asian girls (unbeknownst to the young ladies). He's not portrayed as a good character, but he has the ability to hug away people's pain so that they may go on living without the burden of guilt. I know. Weird. I don't get it either.

Because the people that were taken weren't of any particular demographic (at least not revealed yet), has me picking my brain as to what this show is really all about. Were these people actually taken? Or are the people that are still around actually the ones that were taken? I ask these questions because the co-producer of this series is David Lindelof. David co-created the series Lost. We all remember Lost. It was a wonderful show with so many twists and turns (Minus the final episode. What was that? Who does that?) that left you on the edge of your seat. The Leftovers definitely has its moments. The cinematography is memorable at times, and the acting across the board is patient and constantly intense. I think that it was the intention of the first season to keep the viewer guessing so that we can empathize with the characters frustration. We don't know what's going on, and neither do they. The leftovers keep you on the same page, and if you're into slow torture, then I recommend you find the time to watch this HBO series.

Link to the trailer: http://youtu.be/FLT3YUALJno

Currently listening

   

     Our time off of school last week was in honor of the Jewish holiday—Rosh Hashanah, which celebrated the Jewish new year, the day that the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, were created. There was something very exciting about celebrating this time of the year, a chance at a new beginning, and a great opportunity for positive change. This was the atmosphere that surrounded me, especially because I live in a Jewish community

Some traditional customs practiced on Rosh Hashanah are eating sweet delicacies (to evoke a sweet year) and listening to the sounds of the shofar (a ram's horn). One of the reason's Jewish people hear the shofar is to awaken from their spiritual slumber. The shofar is an alarm that calls on us to examine our deeds and correct our ways.

I took a nice stroll last Friday afternoon and a Chassidic gentleman approached me. He asked me, shofar in hand, if I had heard the sounds of the shofar today. I told him that I had not, and he asked for 30 seconds of my time, to which I agreed. He lifted the shofar to his mouth and a loud, piercing sound filled the street. To an outsider, this scene may have looked very strange, but to me, those sounds at that moment represented an awakening of my inner soul—a moment to evaluate myself and my actions.



http://youtu.be/j8t1r2DSxsg


~Chana Trappler

Learning from the Experts


Last weekend at the Bellhouse, I attended the recording of a podcast called You’re the Expert, a Boston radio program in which a mysterious guest is invited and a panel of comedians play games concerning the mystery guest’s special expertise, without having any knowledge of the subject beforehand.

The show seems to consistently recruit pretty good comedians to come on and the panel on Sunday was even better than usual; it consisted of Eugene Mirman, best known for his part as Gene in the show Bob’s Burgers, Sarah Vowell, author of several wonderful essay collections and a regular on NPR’s This American Life, and Wyatt Cenac, a former correspondent and writer on The Daily Show.

The expert was Katie Hinde, and as it was revealed after a hilarious game of twenty questions (“Is your field of study somewhere below the chin and above the hoo-hoo?”), she is an expert in the field of…breast milk? I don’t know if anyone in the audience had set out that night thinking “You know, I would really love to know what the genetic ramifications of breast feeding in monkeys are,” but it turned out surprisingly interesting. And I think that’s the point of the show, that it’s a less intimidating blend of a comedy show and a more informational program. The expert is asked goofy questions and they know what they’re in for so they’re good sports, but then they get a chance to expose their fields of study to a group of people who may never otherwise learn about milking hyenas (or about fish noises, or the finer points on granular materials). Dr. Hinde has a blog here and here are some fun facts from the show:

  • Mothers (in multiple species) produce different milks depending on the sex of the baby: mothers with boys produce milk richer in fats while mothers with girls produce more milk. 

  • Titi monkeys (Pronounced “tee-tee.” Grow up.) are hard to milk because their nipples are under their armpits. Weird!

  • There is a growing trend of athletes drinking breast milk, believing it to be a superfood. There is no evidence to support this, but apparently they are depleting milk banks and depriving needy babies of milk by creating shortages. Good job jocks. 

The show was a blast and each of the comedians was hilarious; Mirman was giggly and goofy, Vowell was wry and playfully acidic, and Cenac maintained a remarkable sluggish deadpan, keeping his eyes closed for most of the show because he “respects the medium of radio.” Even the host, Chris Duffy, was highly amusing and he shared with us the idea for his next radio show: Family Food, in which two families try to eat each other. The show in general is both informative and fun and on their website, linked above, you can listen to previous episodes and sample a sort of best-ofs playlist of their favorites.

The fun wasn’t over yet; after the show was a complimentary pig roast, a caricature artist who would only draw you doing environmentally responsible things, and a therapist inside a bounce castle! I did not take advantage of his services but bonus guest and former intern Keith Baldwin seemed to have a nice discussion with him.

This show was scheduled as part of a larger event, the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival. Unfortunately I only caught this single show but the festival is a yearly occurrence and you can be sure I eagerly await next September’s offerings.

EDIT: I figured I would post the episode now that it has been officially uploaded. Enjoy!

https://soundcloud.com/youre-the-expert/s2ep14-live-at-the-eugene-mirman-comedy-festival

Illuminations: Write for Your life


A lot of cool things happened to me over the weekend, both largely set around books and writing. On Saturday, a teacher of mine from high school came out to Brooklyn so we could have lunch and catch up. We went to Strand; we talked about our current writing projects. He told me a fantastic story involving his first serious relationship, how it ended, and how that got him into baseball. Sunday, I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival, which was amazing: I won a contest that Tin House was running involving stereotypes and bingo; I got to listen to a lot of amazing authors give very interesting panel discussions. Joyce Carol Oates on prison; Joseph O'Neil on a sense of "place;" Joyce Carol Oates (again), Francine Prose, and Paul Auster on how real life influences their work. It's that latter thing I find particular interest in.

While my friend and I were talking over lunch about his lost relationship, I kept telling him to write about it. "I mean, I can think of a great ending, right," he said, "because when we were at the airport and she was leaving, she bought orange juice for the ride, and I can remember her last kiss tasting like orange juice, and because of that, I still cannot drink orange juice." To me, that is the ending of a short story that I would enjoy reading and commenting on in the margins. I thought the entire story was immensely interesting and kept egging him on to write it as a short story or a memoir piece, because it would just be good. I failed to mention the therapeutic aspect of sorting through something that's happened to you by writing about it; I'm not sure I cared enough.

But at that talk with Paul Auster, there was a lot of conversation over whether or not to use real-life events as springboards for writing. Joyce Carol Oates is no stranger to using real events in her writing, her most famous short story, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? was inspired by a real set of murders that happened around the time the story was published, and she read from a new story, Lovely, Dark, Deep, about a fictional interview with the very real Robert Frost; Francine Prose read from her newest book, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, is a fictional account of the real life of Lou Villars, an athlete spurned by the Olympics for being a cross-dressing lesbian who went on to become a Nazi spy; and Paul Auster read from a memoir of his published two years ago, Winter Journal.

The question I'm formulating is where the line is for how much your life can directly influence or inspire your works of art. Paul Auster had some interesting thoughts on it. Memoirs, he claimed, carry this burden of truth to the nth degree—so much so that he feels like he has an obligation to the reader to remain as candid and truthful as memory allows. (An interesting portrayal of that idea comes in the form of the movie Waltz with Bashir, about a man trying to remember his involvement in a wartime massacre that he seems to have repressed.) But later he claimed that he tries to talk absolutely no influence from his real life in his fictional works, the reasoning for which he either couldn't quite form completely or I couldn't quite follow. "Fiction is fiction," he said, "once you write it, it becomes fiction." On some level, I think, he feels he has an obligation to his reader to portray events that may not have necessarily happened—or, perhaps, the act of writing one's life into fiction somehow cheapens the truth of what happened.

If I'm following Auster, I've done my teacher a great wrong by telling him to write a story about his life; I've done my own life a great wrong by taking specific events and people and crafting fiction around them. But I'm not so sure. Fiction is, as it turns out, the reason I wake up in the morning—without writing and reading, I'm not sure I'd have found a reason to go forward. Fiction, more than just an art for me, becomes a survival technique in this respect. I write the world around me so I can attempt to make sense out of it, find solace and comfort in it, balance out the "sad music of humanity" that drove Wordsworth downward with what makes that sad music beautiful.

Look for my first novel, a thiny-veiled "fictional" account of my own life, on store shelves never.

Currently Eating

I recently began exploring wonderful eateries around my new apartment in Crown Heights. I came across the loveliest, most atmospheric restaurant on Bedford Avenue in my search. The name of the restaurant is Cafe Rue Dix, on the corner of Park Ave and Bedford. They serve Senegalese and French food, with brunch going until 4pm. From 4 to 7 pm they have a great happy hour, so I had to Kale Hemingway cocktail. This cocktail consists of kale, apple, cucumber, lime juice, and rum. I felt as though I was eating a delicious vegetable smoothie while feeling slightly inebriated. I was not upset by this at all, to say the least.
    I ordered from the dinner menu, and decided on the Dibi Senegal dish. This tasty and absolutely satisfying meal was ready in a few minutes, and the appearance of the dish was wonderful. It was 3 lamb chop fillets, served with rice or cous cous, and grilled platanos. There was a tasty onion confit on top of the lamb, which went wonderfully with the lightly coconut flavored rice. I was SO full after this dish, and the prices were very reasonable considering the great service and atmosphere. I will definitely continue to dine here, and recommend it to anyone in the vicinity. It was a wonderful experience.


It's also off the Franklin Avenue stop on the 2,3,4,5 trains. Only about a 5 minute walk-- so worth it though.

Signing off,
Annaliisa




Magic Hat


Ruminate

In order to define what makes someone ethical, one has to try to define what ethical means. There exist a plethora of theories pertaining to the embodiment of ethical behavior, ranging from religious, political and philosophical—yet what are these qualities? The term ethical derives from the Greek word “ethos” which means character. The Oxford definition of ethical is “of relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these.”

Johnson and Voltaire each explore the dichotomy of human suffering and happiness. In turn, moral principles are debated, and the quest of higher knowledge is favored. In both the protagonists’ journeys their pursuits in the beginning are done in vain, and it is in the very act of leaving their paradise that both Rasselas and Candide begin to understand that the pursuit of happiness is a fallacy, and find life filled with irony and false hope. The story of Rasselas and Candide parallel each other, in that by the end of the story, neither truly discovers what it means to live a good life. Instead, they both find that in sharing stories, and ruminating in human nature, they contemplate the Good and the Bad in a perpetual state. It is then better to examine the philosophers who deliver a better report in the state of affairs—Imlac, Pangloss, Martin and the Old Woman.

In Johnson’s story, the discontented Prince Rasselas of Abyssinia encounters Imlac—an eccentric philosopher whose faculty is rife with honest pessimism. His reasoning for human faculty lies in the art of poetry, which educates oneself, and others about nature and how that relates to humankind. Imlac says to Rasselas, “Being now resolved to be a poet, I saw everything with a new purpose; my sphere of attention was suddenly magnified; no kind of knowledge was to be overlooked” (Johnson 48). Rasselas is fascinated with the thinker’s ability to look inquisitively into the physical and transcendental worlds, yet he is not convinced that Imlac has seen it all. The Prince states to Imlac, “In so wide a survey, you must surely have left much unobserved. I have lived, till now, within the circuit of these mountains, and yet cannot walk abroad without the sight of something which I had never beheld before or never heeded” (Johnson 49). The significance of their banter lies in the fact that Imlac finds worth in examining the ancient poets and to interpret nature, and how one accurately sees “all the modes of life”. Imlac tells him what he himself values and apparently Rasselas needs to go on a journey to find his own values.

Voltaire's Candide, who is forced to go on a journey to decipher the complexities of human life, mirrors Rasselas's pursuit of the meaning in life. Candide’s teacher, Pangloss is a philosophical optimist. He states to Candide, “...that things cannot be otherwise: for as everything has been made for a purpose, everything is necessarily made for the best purpose” (Voltaire 4). This quotation alludes to the German thinker Leibniz and foreshadows Voltaire’s satirizing of his optimism. However, Pangloss’s optimism is what sends Candide into a philosophical journey and, better yet, an ethical dilemma. By Pangloss’s reasoning, to be a good person is to accept that everything is for the better. If so, to be human means to endure pain and see it as part of humanity. So why have morals if evil is equated with it? Candide sees first hand the hypocrisy in humanity; however, in his journey to find his ultimate happiness all he realizes is that he is left with a promise that he made to his love, Cunegonde.

Candide learns a valuable lesson from an Old Woman who saves him and shows him kindness. After we hear of the Old Woman’s horrible suffering, she attempts to rationalize why she did not commit suicide. She says:

"A hundred times I wanted to kill myself, but I was still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most sinister tendencies. For there is nothing more foolish than to insist on carrying a burden one can drop at any moment? To live in constant fear, and yet still hold on to life? To caress the serpent that is devouring you until it has eaten your heart?" (Voltaire 38)

The act of enduring suffering is questioned by the Old Woman. She equates the desire to live with sin. Although she speaks with religious undertones, she actually explains human suffering at its core without sounding pious—it is humans who choose to endure pain, because if there is no pain, one cannot tell a compelling story. So the will to live is rationalized by the Old Woman and Candide proceeds with his journey encountering and experiencing human suffering every step of the way. This also alludes to Pangloss’s attitude towards life in that one should carry a positive outlook on it.

So for the Old Woman, to be ethical is to endure pain that ultimately leads towards transformation. She reinforces this idea when she addresses Cunegonde in Candide’s presence: “You see Mademoiselle, I have experience, I know the world...why don’t you ask every passenger to tell you his life’s story? And if there is a single one among them who has never cursed his life, who has not often told himself that he was the unhappiest of men, then you may throw me overboard headfirst!” (Voltaire 39). Candide, like Rasselas, has to experience empathy in order to understand their moral conundrums. In order for them to transcend life’s horrible existence, they have to turn their fellow sufferers’ anecdotes and generalize in order to gain the ability to understand each other. This is much of what Imlac says about engaging in the art of poetry. He states:

"The business of the poet, is to examine not the individual, but the species; to remark general properties and large appearances. He does not number the streaks of the tulip, or describe the different shades in the verdure of the forest...His character requires that he estimate the happiness and misery of every condition, and trace the changes of the human mind as they are modified by various institutions ... He must write as the interpreter of nature and legislator of mankind, and consider himself presiding over the thoughts and manners of future generations, as being superior to time and place." (Voltaire 50)

There are many compelling remarks in this passage, which makes Imlac a viable intelligent character. His reasoning in human nature is to see it as a whole—that is to examine the relationship with good and evil instead of merely accepting one or the other as pure acts of faith. The poet is not the scion of morality, he/she is the interpreter of truths that is pertaining to his/her existence at the moment, which in turn future generations can look back upon and examine with care. The talented poet explores the changes in human behavior that are influenced by larger bodies of intellect. He/she then transcends time and space and gains a lens that allows truths and instincts to follow.

Imlac is much like the scholar Martin in Candide. Both have pessimistic tendencies, yet their cynicism make them artists in deciphering truths and they do so quite eloquently. The scholar Martin, with whom Candide empathizes the most, leads Candide closer to what he apparently values, his word. In their journey together, Martin says to Candide, “Private sorrows are more bitter than public suffering. In a word, I have seen and suffered so much that I am a Manichaean” (Voltaire 70). It is important to point out that Manichaeism is a dualistic religion that believes in the power of God and Satan. Earthly life is considered a battleground for the influence of these powers. The soul (the ethical faculty in humans) defines the person, but is in a tug of war with Good and Evil. Martin’s influence on Candide ultimately leads him to marry Cunegonde while he no longer loves her. It shows that Candide is a person who values declarations made on one’s behalf, never to go back on one’s word. However, it leaves him in a perpetual state of contemplation and irreconcilability—a kind of tug of war with himself. In the end of Candide’s journey, there is no end to his journey. He adapts to the reasoning of another old man in that work starves boredom, vice and desire. Martin finally says to Candide, “Let us work without reasoning, it is the only way to make life bearable” (Voltaire 119). Like Rasselas, he too ends up back where he starts, but knowledgeable of life’s ironies.

The stories of Rasselas and Candide teach us about what it means to be ethical through the portrayal of their philosophers and storytellers. The lesson ultimately is that one cannot look at oneself for the answer to a moral dilemma. One should seek this knowledge outside in nature and human behavior. To be ethical is to search for the institutions that appear to have the answers, and to examine them with a skeptical attitude. To have character (ethos) is to be in a constant state of flux with insurmountable language and knowledge.

~N.G.

Monday, September 22, 2014

News Briefs




LGBT Rights on the March

The LGBT movement in America has come a long way since its beginnings in the 1950's and 60's. This week marked an outstanding progress for the gay and lesbian community. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just recently began accepting discrimination cases from millions of workers across the United States. This is absolutely poignant to our progression as a nation of sexually diverse individuals. In order to continue with a full, effective work force we need to include all sexual orientations and life paths with courtesy. There are still far too many instances in which trans or LGBT people are marginalized or denied jobs based on their orientations.

"Many employers now provide domestic partner health care benefits for employees with unmarried same-sex partners–but the growth in the share of private sector workers with access to those benefits has leveled off, settling at around one-third of employees whose employers provide benefits." This passage from The Week's article on LGBT, "The battle for gay rights is not over yet." This is absolutely pertinent to the growth and health of same sex partnerships. There need to be similar benefits for hetero marriage and gay marriage, in order for our society to claim some equality. We have come a long way, yet we still have leaps and bounds before we can claim to have made LGBT lifestyles equal to those of hetero individuals.

Annaliisa Gifford


Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Viloence Against Women Act

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence recently commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act signed by former president Bill Clinton. Before the bill was passed, there was virtually no place for women to turn to after an attack. After the bill went into effect, there were national hotlines created that allowed the victims of battery and assault to remain anonymous. The bill also went on to fund shelters across the U.S., and train police to properly investigate domestic abuse. An important factor of the bill was that it criminalized domestic spousal abuse. It was no longer seen as a private “family matter” between both parties, it became a public issue.

In lieu of the 20th anniversary of the Act, domestic violence has been headlining the media with the surfacing of Ray Rice’s elevator tape of him knocking his fiance (now wife) unconscious. After the September 8th release of the tape, the NFL has suspended him for an unstated amount of time, but the disturbing thing was that prior to the public release of the tape, the NFL originally suspended him for only two games after seeing the tape back in July of this year.

The tape’s viral sweep across the internet had caused an outrage, and in response to the incident, many public fans and non-fans alike used their social media platforms to put pressure on the NFL to terminate his contract. There was also another disturbing component of the tape, and it was the fact that the couple married a few months after the incident. It appears as though while in certain parts of the country some celebrate legislation in helping combat domestic spousal abuse, others decide to remain in abusive relationships.

This poses a difficult dilemma in the many aspects of spousal abuse, and 2015 Miss America—a victim of domestic abuse, commented on the incident between Ray and Janay Rice:

“The fact that people are asking why Janay Rice stayed with Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after he knocked her unconscious in an elevator shows a lack of understanding of the complex psychology of domestic violence, Kazantsev tells Shots.”

Kira Kazantsev, newly crowned Miss New York, discussed openly about her experience in domestic violence. In an interview for NPR, she talked about her isolation from her friends when they tried to help her get away from an abusive boyfriend. She also went on to say that she did not know that there were resources available for domestic abuse victims. How can this be possible you might ask? Her response to that was that she may have very well known about the resources, but the mindset you are in does not allow you feel comfortable to reach out for help.

Janay Rice had told news reporters that the resurfacing of that incident had caused her and her family to relieve a painful memory that the couple is still trying to cope from. So the question might really be how effective the Violence Against Women Act has been to women across the country if Janay Rice and Kira Kazantsev are openly admitting that they continued to stay in abusive relationships. This treds the murky waters into the psychology of the abuser and the one getting abused. It is a really personal and difficult thing to go through. Although Ms. Kazantsev left her abusive relationship, she brings to light a difficult point about how domestic violence survives, and it seems that it stems from insecurity, and fear of being alone for the victims.


This by no means suggest that the Act itself does not serve many meaningful purposes. The act has gone through many provisions. It has included a new training program to help doctors detect physical abuse in patients and has extended services to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation and sexual identity. Which means that domestic abuse does not only happen to women and sadly also means that with or without legislation, it still exist.

Sources:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/09/11/347728725/pageant-contestant-felt-helpless-against-domestic-violence
http://www.npr.org/2014/09/13/348016597/domestic-violence-protections-still-resonate-20-years-after-crime-bill
http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2014/5/23/5744964/ray-rice-arrest-assault-statement-apology-ravens



Eating at the Earth

In this interview with Rachel Kong, Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he discusses the implications of the capitalism driven food market.

Pollan touches on the history of food production, mentioning that since the 1800's, advancement has consistently favored cheaper, and more efficient production as opposed to the production of healthier foods. Nevertheless, more efficient doesn’t mean progressive.

The food industry has a massive impact on climate change; not just by clearing rain forests for cows’ pastureland, but by using insane amounts of fossil fuels in outdated farming methods. Chana mentioned last week the possibility of bills being passed to control antibiotics, which would be wonderful if they pass. Unfortunately, there are not even any proposed bills on progressive agricultural methods, or carbon emission limit.

The wry questioning of whether the cheese on top of that Dominoes pizza can really be worth it (made even funnier/more depressing by coincidental article here), makes the article seem pretty humorous, and frightening.

I will be honest, I have never read any of Pollan’s books. Part of this is a childish irrational aversion to nonfiction because the only nonfiction books I’ve ever read are the textbooks assigned k-12. Another reason for avoiding nonfiction, is that it scares the pants off of me. We like to think that we are in control of ourselves, convincing ourselves that we know what we are putting into our bodies and that the image of the happy farmhouse is still applicable, even today. But once that fundamental knowledge is revealed to have been categorically false, we must realize we have very little control over this basic fundamental of the food we eat.

Without going against the grain, we continue with the current strategies, out of momentum, and out of the fear of stopping to try something new. People must be willing to give something up they view as essential, and in my experience, people will never do that willingly. The ability to have that cheeseburger at three in the morning almost instantly has somehow attached itself to the American ideal of liberty.

Pollan lists a couple solutions; he mentions the possibility of engineering (palatable) artificial meats, and he supports home-cooking in his new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. But it seems an uphill battle to me.

Death &Fame
When I die
I don't care what happens to my body
throw ashes in the air, scatter 'em in East River
bury an urn in Elizabeth New Jersey, B'nai Israel Cemetery
But l want a big funeral
St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Mark's Church, the largest synagogue in
Manhattan
First, there's family, brother, nephews, spry aged Edith stepmother
96, Aunt Honey from old Newark,
Doctor Joel, cousin Mindy, brother Gene one eyed one ear'd, sister-
in-law blonde Connie, five nephews, stepbrothers & sisters
their grandchildren,
companion Peter Orlovsky, caretakers Rosenthal & Hale, Bill Morgan--
Next, teacher Trungpa Vajracharya's ghost mind, Gelek Rinpoche,
there Sakyong Mipham, Dalai Lama alert, chance visiting
America, Satchitananda Swami
Shivananda, Dehorahava Baba, Karmapa XVI, Dudjom Rinpoche,
Katagiri & Suzuki Roshi's phantoms
Baker, Whalen, Daido Loorie, Qwong, Frail White-haired Kapleau
Roshis, Lama Tarchen --
Then, most important, lovers over half-century
Dozens, a hundred, more, older fellows bald & rich
young boys met naked recently in bed, crowds surprised to see each
other, innumerable, intimate, exchanging memories
"He taught me to meditate, now I'm an old veteran of the thousand
day retreat --"
"I played music on subway platforms, I'm straight but loved him he
loved me"
"I felt more love from him at 19 than ever from anyone"
"We'd lie under covers gossip, read my poetry, hug & kiss belly to belly
arms round each other"
"I'd always get into his bed with underwear on & by morning my
skivvies would be on the floor"
"Japanese, always wanted take it up my bum with a master"
"We'd talk all night about Kerouac & Cassady sit Buddhalike then
sleep in his captain's bed."
"He seemed to need so much affection, a shame not to make him happy"
"I was lonely never in bed nude with anyone before, he was so gentle my
stomach
shuddered when he traced his finger along my abdomen nipple to hips-- "
"All I did was lay back eyes closed, he'd bring me to come with mouth
& fingers along my waist"
"He gave great head"
So there be gossip from loves of 1948, ghost of Neal Cassady commin-
gling with flesh and youthful blood of 1997
and surprise -- "You too? But I thought you were straight!"
"I am but Ginsberg an exception, for some reason he pleased me."
"I forgot whether I was straight gay queer or funny, was myself, tender
and affectionate to be kissed on the top of my head,
my forehead throat heart & solar plexus, mid-belly. on my prick,
tickled with his tongue my behind"
"I loved the way he'd recite 'But at my back allways hear/ time's winged
chariot hurrying near,' heads together, eye to eye, on a
pillow --"
Among lovers one handsome youth straggling the rear
"I studied his poetry class, 17 year-old kid, ran some errands to his
walk-up flat,
seduced me didn't want to, made me come, went home, never saw him
again never wanted to... "
"He couldn't get it up but loved me," "A clean old man." "He made
sure I came first"
This the crowd most surprised proud at ceremonial place of honor--
Then poets & musicians -- college boys' grunge bands -- age-old rock
star Beatles, faithful guitar accompanists, gay classical con-
ductors, unknown high Jazz music composers, funky trum-
peters, bowed bass & french horn black geniuses, folksinger
fiddlers with dobro tamborine harmonica mandolin auto-
harp pennywhistles & kazoos
Next, artist Italian romantic realists schooled in mystic 60's India,
Late fauve Tuscan painter-poets, Classic draftsman Massa-
chusets surreal jackanapes with continental wives, poverty
sketchbook gesso oil watercolor masters from American
provinces
Then highschool teachers, lonely Irish librarians, delicate biblio-
philes, sex liberation troops nay armies, ladies of either sex
"I met him dozens of times he never remembered my name I loved
him anyway, true artist"
"Nervous breakdown after menopause, his poetry humor saved me
from suicide hospitals"
"Charmant, genius with modest manners, washed sink, dishes my
studio guest a week in Budapest"
Thousands of readers, "Howl changed my life in Libertyville Illinois"
"I saw him read Montclair State Teachers College decided be a poet-- "
"He turned me on, I started with garage rock sang my songs in Kansas
City"
"Kaddish made me weep for myself & father alive in Nevada City"
"Father Death comforted me when my sister died Boston l982"
"I read what he said in a newsmagazine, blew my mind, realized
others like me out there"
Deaf & Dumb bards with hand signing quick brilliant gestures
Then Journalists, editors's secretaries, agents, portraitists & photo-
graphy aficionados, rock critics, cultured laborors, cultural
historians come to witness the historic funeral
Super-fans, poetasters, aging Beatnicks & Deadheads, autograph-
hunters, distinguished paparazzi, intelligent gawkers
Everyone knew they were part of 'History" except the deceased
who never knew exactly what was happening even when I was alive

February 22, 1997 

This Poem of the Week is by Brooklyn College's own late professor Allen Ginsberg. In this poem, "Death and Fame," the poignant poet reveals the undercurrent of death that resides within each of us. Every circumstance and event, sadly, is bringing us closer to an inescapable demise. But there is a haunting, historical beauty in this fact, and Ginsberg, with his tangental thought processes and metaphors, brings us closer to an abstract understanding of death and fame. His references to memorable historical names and figures allows us to understand the legacy Ginsberg himself hopes to leave, and the legacy humanity itself has gifted upon us. His inclusion of quotes and almost conversational structure gives us a new and fresh poetic plan. Ginsberg takes modernism to the next level with his thought and content movement. 

Annaliisa Gifford

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time


 http://www.apollotheatrelondon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Curious-Incident-New.jpg

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a book I delayed reading because a) I had so many other books to read for my classes and b) something about the length of the title was off-putting. After seeing the production of this play on the West End in London, however, I embarked on a mission to find a copy of the book to read on my plane ride home.

Curious Incident is a story of 15-year-old Christopher Boone – a brilliant and inquisitive boy living in Swindon, Wiltshire, with his dad. Christopher has Asperger’s Syndrome –a high functioning form of autism that leaves him academically precocious, but also unable to interpret social cues, overcome his irrational fears, and understand the motivations of the people around him. The book opens up with Christopher hovering over his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, who’s just been stabbed and pinned to the lawn with a pitchfork. Unable to conceptualize his death, Christopher investigates the murder, learning the hideous truth about how the people in his world cannot be trusted.

The book is narrated from Christopher’s point of view. For the duration of time we read the book, we live inside his mind. We feel his pain with him, we fear what he fears, we follow his thought pattern, and we experience the intolerance from a community that is hardly sympathetic to a young boy with autism. If there’s any book that prompts the reader’s empathy, it’s Curious Incident—mainly because the book is narrated from Christopher’s point of view. The prospect of a stage production piqued my interest because I wondered how they’d represent Christopher’s thoughts on stage.

It worked. It worked perfectly. The set resembles a computer – a series of uniform boxes pepper the backdrop and the proscenium, lighting up and arranging themselves into patterns to represent how Christopher’s mind works. He is a gifted mathematician and can solve puzzles and riddles in a matter of minutes using logic. In fact, he solves difficult math problems in his head to relax himself when he feels uncomfortable or frightened. These talents notwithstanding, Christopher cannot recognize anger, confusion, sadness, dismay, or happiness easily. Because he does not know how to react when someone speaks to him, people lose their patience with him easily, especially his parents. His parents certainly love him, but the book and play reveal the extent to which we have sympathy for kids with special needs. How do we react when they unwittingly insult us? How do we respond when they ask us questions we consider to be so obvious? How do we handle their fears, their anxieties, and the things that make them uncomfortable?

Every aspect of the West End production was superb: the acting, the direction, the set design, the adaptation of first-person narration to third-person narration, and the inclusion of every important detail in the book. I cannot emphasize the importance of a play/book that draws the world’s attention to kids with special needs. They’re the ones we lose our patience for the most, when they’re the ones who seldom mean us any harm.

I urge anyone who’s reading this to see Curious Incident, which just began previews on Broadway on September 10th. Join www.tix4students.com and get $35 tickets.

Please.

-Alex Hajjar

Image source:  http://www.apollotheatrelondon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Curious-Incident-New.jpg

A Stain of Orcs

A few weeks ago I was in a comic book store near my apartment (Bergen Street Comics if you’re ever in the neighborhood), and, not knowing very much of anything about comics, I just leafed through the selections rather aimlessly. That is, until I stumbled upon Orc Stain by James Stokoe.

I like to describe Orc Stain as Lord of the Rings meets Naked Lunch. Fantasy meets psychedelia: hordes of battle-crazed orcs throwing themselves into bloody battles beneath giant bio-mechanical towers that look suspiciously like penises.
"The Deep South"... fitting.
Alright not suspiciously, they are essentially giant penises; the series is unapologetically graphic. Hell, the orcs’ currency, the “gronch," is literally penises cut into coin-like discs. So be warned before you go any further.

The plot is a bit formulaic; within the first few pages an oracle makes a prophecy and so the evil conquering Orctzar must find and kill the unwilling protagonist/Chosen One, One-Eye. But it's the little details that make it wonderful. One-Eye’s pseudo-magical ability is that he is able to break anything. The prophecy just takes that to a logical progression, to a larger scale; that he is able to break things that are not necessarily tangible, like an army or an entire empire.

Then there are little details like the fact that orcs are not the dramatic monsters of Peter Jackson movies, but are very human characters—almost always despicable human characters, but very human nonetheless. There’s even a little bit of Flintstones in the series—a giant bear used as a safe, a parasitic bird used as a burglar alarm, a soda can that is apparently an actual living creature. Eventually you notice that most of the Mad Max looking gear or weaponry in the frames have eyes or teeth. Even a mountain is actually a giant insect thing.

Bear Safe! aka a "Gurpa".
And that’s what I love about the illustrations—they are intense and imbued with a violent color pallet of greens and purples and a Where’s-Waldo-esque amount of tiny details—characters moving around in the background, belts constantly full of strange collections of bottles and body parts.

Now of course the problem with all of this is that Stokoe writes, illustrates and colors all of it, so it takes him a long time. Since starting it in 2010, he has only completed seven issues and it really feels like we haven’t even gotten to the main story yet. But they’re all pretty spectacular and they each seem to get better and better so here’s hoping he keeps going!

It’s violent and disgusting and the characters are immature and petty and sadistic, even the good ones. I highly suggest it. If you're interested, the first chapter can be read for free here, and if you like it Stokoe also has a blog where you can read samples of his other work.

Cinnamon Nutella Muffins


Cinnamon sugar crusted muffins with a hidden Nutella filling!




The only plus side to a cloudy, muggy weekend is the chance to stay indoors and experiment in the kitchen. And that’s just what my sister and I did. For all of you who share in the love for anything- Nutella, I have just the perfect recipe! These muffins will brighten up anyone’s day, I mean, how can they not? With a cinnamon sugar topping and a surprise Nutella filling, you really can’t go wrong.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 teaspoons Nutella
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Instructions
         Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
         In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.
         In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
         Scoop a spoonful of batter evenly into the muffin tray. Drop 1 teaspoon Nutella into the center of each cup. Top with remaining batter to completely cover the filling.
         Place into oven and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
         To make the cinnamon sugar, combine the cinnamon and sugar.
         When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and dip the muffin crown into the melted butter and then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
         Let cool on a wire rack.

Bon Appetit!

-Chana



In 2002, a friend of mine handed me a bunch of cd's that she didn't want. I love every genre of music, and free things, so I gladly took them. Within the pile there were four Built to Spill albums: "There's Nothing Wrong With Love," "Perfect From Now On," "Keep It Like a Secret,"  and Ancient Melodies of the Future."
I was dating a dude at the time, and he was into a lot of indie rock music. I knew nothing about this band, so I had asked him about it. It turned out that Built to Spill was one of his favorite bands, and he insisted on me listening to, "There is nothing wrong with love," because it was (in his opinion) their best album. I remember listening to it for the first time, and instantly becoming obsessed with several songs.
The first song, "In the morning," felt catchy and upbeat with an abrupt ending that led into one of my favorite songs on the album: "Reasons." Listening to that song now brings me back to a time when my mattress was on a dirty linoleum floor, surrounded by a mold infested dorm room. It's almost as if I can smell the remnants of resin, stale cigarettes and old forty ounces, or feel the subtle rise and fall of my face on the chest of a pasty, skinny white dude for three minutes and forty-six seconds. It's funny how auditory memory can remind you of who you used to be.
If I could wrap up the Fall of 2002 in one word, it would be "Car," which also happens to be the fourth song ( and my favorite) on this album. There was line that has stuck with me throughout the years, especially after I have a very vivid dream: "I wanna see movies of my dreams..."  (4x).
I was friends with a rainbow haired girl in Ohio. She owned a lime green VW bug, and we would sit in her car and snuggle under blankets while listening to this album. Whenever the song "Car," came on, we would place it on repeat, and sing that line with as much sincerity as it was meant to be sung.

~Bex

Here is the link to the entire album,  "There is nothing wrong with love": http://youtu.be/W363-J_QLfE

Enjoy.