Sine Qua Nonsense

The Halloween Report

Isaac and the roasted pig (photo courtesy of Alicia Eckert).

Isaac and the roasted pig (photo courtesy of Alicia Eckert).

Halloween may officially be tomorrow, but the Telecom costume party took place last weekend. Rachel Bailey hosted the shindig. Isaac Knowles and his friend John Killian, a professional chef, roasted a pig, decapitated it and placed its head on a spike for all to see and fear.

The costumes varied wildly, but I believe they were all meant to convey subliminal messages. Teresa Lynch, for example, dressed as Executioner Miralda, a character from the video game Demon’s Souls. This is her attempt to promote the death penalty, especially by beheading. The bodiless pig’s head drove her point home.

Dustin as Captain Morgan (Photo Courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Dustin as Captain Morgan (Photo Courtesy of Michelle Funk).

While Dustin Ritchea, Mona Malacane and Yongwoog Jeon wore very different costumes, their underlying message was the same. Dustin as Captain Morgan, Yongwoog as Sherlock Holmes, and Mona as the government shutdown were embodiments of the libertarian worldview. Less government is better. Private citizens like Captain Morgan could do a better job roaming the high seas than taxpayer-mooching Navy SEALs. The best detective in literary history was a private investigator, solving the crimes the inept official police couldn’t. And again, the main course helped convey the message that if Telecom students can cut the pork, so can Congress!

Nancy Tyree dressed as a bearded artist. Her boyfriend Jon was a canvass. They brought markers and encouraged others to draw on the canvass. Just like Tom Sawyer got his friends to paint a fence, Nancy got her own friends to do her job for her. I believe she was trying to teach us to delegate authority – if you’re smart enough to get others to do what you’re supposed to do, you aren’t being lazy.

Yongwoog as Sherlock Holmes and Michelle as an alien (photo courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Yongwoog as Sherlock Holmes and Michelle as an alien (photo courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Irene Van Driel and Mariska Kleemans brought a taste of the Netherlands to the party. They wore orange wigs and red, white and blue clothes. Orange is the Dutch national color, and red, white and blue are the colors on the Dutch national flag. This was a veiled attack on American Exceptionalism. They tried to subliminally remind us that the flag of the United States is not unique in its choice of colors, which it shares with about 30 other countries. This was also a pro-monarchist, pro-House of Orange message. They may be planning to topple our government.

Edo as the High Road (photo courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Edo as the High Road (photo courtesy of Michelle Funk).

Dan Levy promoted peace and tranquility as The Dude from “The Big Lebowski”. He wore a blond wig and a bathrobe. He also walked around with an empty carton of half and half. That carton really tied the costume together.

I conveyed my own message to the world, as well. I wore yellow and white stripes, a hippie vest, an Interstate sign and buttons with the peace sign, psychedelic colors and the word “love”. I also held a comically large joint with fake marijuana made out of green pompoms. I was “the high road”. Get it? Oh, you had to be there.

And no, my subliminal message had nothing to do with drug legalization. I was trying to promote the use of puns while raising awareness of the flimsiness of our nation’s infrastructure.

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Off to London

by Teresa Lynch

Although many members of the department will be travelling to London, England this summer to attend ICA, several graduate students – Senia Borden, Dan Levy, Gabe Persons, and Garrett Poortinga, to be specific – will be travelling there for a different reason. After a quick stopover in Iceland, the four will be meeting up with Susan Kelly to take her specially designed production course. Last summer, Susan took only undergraduates for her course abroad, but this year, the opportunity was offered to graduate students, as well.

The Tower Bridge in London. Photo courtesy of Susan Kelly.

The Tower Bridge in London. Photo courtesy of Susan Kelly.

Susan says the theme of the class is twofold. “One [portion] is to show that there are other ways of storytelling than the American way. The American way is purely driven by the bottom line. The British system is driven by a cultural mission. New voices are funded by the citizenry who actually pay a licensing fee – a tax – to fund new voices and make stories specifically about British culture. They actually have a mission statement about what their media should aim for. You’ll never find that in America.” The other portion of the class will focus on storytelling in film and story analysis. Susan has also lined up guest speakers for the class including a BAFTA recipient and an employee of the BBC. The group will also tour sets from the Harry Potter films, James Bond, The King’s Speech, the BBC Sherlock series, and Sherlock Holmes.

While they’re in London, the group will all be residing in Nido, a student housing complex in the Spitalfields neighborhood.  Class will take place in facilities provided by the International Education of Students. Susan has also planned to hold class in the early afternoon so students can enjoy the walk from Nido to the IES if they choose. “It’s a beautiful walk, an amazing walk…it’s through the Bloomsbury neighborhood – the same neighborhood that housed the modernist literary movement.”

In addition to class and working with the 15 undergraduate students, the graduate students are hoping to make the most of their time professionally. Garrett has already been in touch with department alum Lora Speers. “I’ve been talking to [Lora] through email about actually producing a short form on one of her [underground hip-hop] connections,” said Garrett. “I’m hoping to go to some shows, film some interviews, and cut it together to align with the course.”

The London Eye. Photo courtesy of Susan Kelly.

The London Eye. Photo courtesy of Susan Kelly.

Gabe and Susan are the only members of the group who have been to London, but it’s safe to say that every member of the group is very excited to be hopping the pond. Listening to Susan tell it, London is a city of incredible depth, heaviness, and beauty. She said one of the things she is most looking forward to, “the light in London in the spring is spectacular. It’s clear and the buildings are made out of limestone…some of it’s gold, some of it’s buttery, and some of it’s rose…and when the sun hits [the buildings], if you have any aesthetic bone in your body, you have to stop in your tracks and just be bathed in northern  light. In London you will get scudding clouds, huge cumulus clouds that are white with some dark grey underbellies with this beautiful light that slants through and casts shadows that make designs on the ground and you are bathed in the light.” And getting to see her students experience London is an experience of pure joy for Susan. “I get to experience that, to watch students take it all in. Sometimes I have to remember this is my job.”

A Small Boat Makes the Sailor

by Teresa Lynch

Dan sailing solo. Photo courtesy of Dan Levy.

Dan sailing solo. Photo courtesy of Dan Levy.

When he was eight, Dan Levy started sailing at a summer camp held by a local yacht club in Fort Lauderdale. Ft. Lauderdale, where Dan grew up, is known as the “Venice of the South” and lauds more canals and boats per capita than any place in the world. That made it an ideal place, Dan’s parents thought, for getting him involved in the sport.

Sailing, Dan said, was an incredibly competitive enterprise among the youth (and parents) involved. But, even on into his teenage years, the competitiveness of sailing kept him excited about the sport. After the youth sailing camps, Dan continued with the sport in a club series environment and on into high school. From fifth to ninth grade, he travelled for regattas two to three weekends a month and practiced several days a week. Although the sport consumed a great deal of his time, Dan says it gave him the opportunity to see much of his home state as well as a significant portion of the country.

Additionally, sailing has been incredibly formative for him. He recalled being around ten years old, alone in his boat, and far enough out on the ocean that he couldn’t see shore. Nor could his family see him. “My grandfather turned to my dad and said, ‘You have a rope tied to him, right?’ And my dad said, ‘Nope.’” Dan said with a laugh, “I had a flare and a whistle.” But, he also said he believes that sailing instilled him with independence, confidence and resourcefulness.

Dan and his teammate sailing. Photo courtesy of Dan Levy.

Dan and his teammate sailing. Photo courtesy of Dan Levy.

Around fifteen, Dan missed the qualifications for the U.S. national sailing team, instead gaining the right to practice with them as an alternate, but he felt it was time to take a step back from the sport. Some of his friends went on to make the team, he says, and just competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. When he went to college at the University of Florida, Dan picked sailing back up, joining Florida’s racing team. “It became very fraternal for me, I made all my best friends through that team and we travelled all across the country…it was a great social experience for me.”

Photo courtesy of Dan Levy.

Photo courtesy of Dan Levy.

Now, Dan coaches here at IU for the sailing team. He says that although the team has been around for more than twenty years, it’s been within the last three or four years that the team has been gaining momentum. Practices take place on Lake Lemon and Dan is hoping to take them down to Florida for a regatta soon. The coaching opportunity has been great for Dan to reconnect with his love for sailing, both getting to sail himself and entering back into the world of sailing. Two weekends ago, he attended a boat show in Chicago on behalf of the team to learn the ropes in this district, although he says he really enjoyed it personally because he got to reconnect with old friends, as well.

Dan says he hopes eventually to buy his own larger sail boat for taking people out. When I asked him if sailing larger boats was more difficult, Dan said “You know, one of my favorite quotes is from the movie Wind and it’s ‘The big boats get all the glory, but the small boat makes the sailor.’ I love that line because it’s so true…the science, the mechanics are all the same. But, there’s something great about being in a smaller boat and being in the midst of nature. There’s a closeness to the water, it’s quiet, and you’re just out there. I think the best thing is that you’re just harnessing something so natural and powerful.”

SEC Rivalry Comes to IU

by Ken Rosenberg

Hundreds of miles away from home, two Telecom grad students revel in nostalgic rivalry with each other. Dan Levy and Mona Malacane are fans of a team in the Southeastern Conference (SEC)—but not the same team. Dan, a first year M.S. (design & production) student from University of Florida (UF), loves his Gators. Mona, a first year M.A. student from University of Georgia (UGA), is still a member of the Bulldog Nation. These football teams are cornerstones of their universities’ identities and, by extension, the students that graduate from there. Mona and Dan proudly wear their colors here at IU.

Mona with her Bulldog colors, Dan with the Gator chomp.

“Football is huge. Football is king in the south,” Mona said. “It’s a thing, it’s a culture.” The SEC is a Division 1 conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and both UF and UGA are part of the east half of the conference.

“Arguably, it’s the best conference in football,” Dan said. “We’re the most competitive. SEC schools consistently have the most championships, year after year. It makes the rivalries really big. It makes people go all out.” In their respective home states, everything – from doormats, to flags, to indoor decorations – is either orange and blue, or red and black.

A couple of weeks ago, in a piece on our grads from Georgia, Mona that a true Bulldog bleeds red and black. Even Teresa Lynch, a fellow Georgian and Telecom M.A. student, roots for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, despite the fact that she did not go to UGA. They’re not just acculturated as freshmen – “you know it before you get there,” Mona said.

Dan, too, was well aware of the fandom surrounding his team. “The Gators won the national title my senior year of high school,” Dan said, “and that’s the year I applied to the school. That’s when it took hold.” In a show of devotion to his undergrad alma mater, Dan flew home three weeks ago to see a game against Kentucky State. (Mona will be visiting a friend to see the Bulldogs take on Kentucky State, as well.)

“It’s not like here,” Dan said, “where there are fields for tailgating and the rest of the city is quiet. At Florida, they don’t really have that space. I woke up on game day and walked outside my dorm, and every square inch of green space was covered. They have tables and people grilling, drinking and playing games. It’s just a sea of people. It’s like nothing I’d ever seen. The entire city is gridlocked – you don’t drive. You can’t escape it on game day.”

They’re culturally and geographically close, but Florida and Georgia fans have a century-strong rivalry between them, to the point that  neither team will venture onto the home field of the other. When they play against each other, they meet in Jacksonville, Florida – “neutral territory,” as they both put it.

“They suspend open container laws that weekend, they send out cops on horses,” Dan said. “It runs the whole city.” Dan says that people call it “the largest outdoor cocktail party.”

“You make a weekend out of it,” Mona said. “At UGA, you have that Friday off and call it a ‘Fall Break,’ because people really want to go to that game. It’s a big deal.”

Just talking about the game can reveal one’s allegiance. Dan says “Florida-Georgia;” Mona says “Georgia-Florida.” At these games, it is common to hear terms like “Dog food” and “Gator bait.”

“It’s scary how far people can take it,” Mona said. An ardent Bulldogs fan, she still urges anyone who is tied up in the rivalry to “take it all with a grain of salt.”

Georgia has won the game these past two years but, before that, Florida had won several more in a row. “You take wins when they come,” Dan said, “but, when we lose, it’s always ‘we’ll win tomorrow.’” Mona is staunchly against fair-weather fandom and, despite a few seasons of sub-optimal performance, she’s still excited to follow her beloved Bulldogs.

Both agree that the game will be very close. It will take place on October 27 at 3:30pm.