Archive for the ‘Arts/Music/Film’ Category

Spring into Spring with the 2012 Course Guide

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Think you know all the ins and outs of spring’s awesome courses?

Story. Of. My. Life.

Ha. Think again. Here, for your pleasure, I have painstakingly compiled a list of the hands-down most awesome, useful, compelling, frightening, GER-fulfilling, enjoyable classes you could ever imagine. Remember  before Chem 31, Math 51, and IHUM… back when you applied to Stanford? Remember how you raved about how excited you were for the “engaging classes”? After reading this article, you’re going to realize you weren’t just saying that. Stanford is killing it next quarter in terms of super-interesting classes, and you have the opportunity to get in on the action. I know Camp Stanford is tempting, but after reading this article, you might actually want to bulk up your course load with some of these. And, speaking of Camp Stanford, the categories are…

Camp Stanford: Whether you’re trying to recover from the carnage of your winter course load or just getting a jump-start on summer laziness/craziness, here are the best classes to keep the thoughts of warm breezes and fun-in-the-sun swirling in your head until June…

  • EARTHSYS 180B: Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture: A course that lets “The Farm” live up to its name. Get outside and onto Stanford’s community farm and others in the area. Enjoy the sun on your neck and a little dirt on your nose. (3-4 units, multiple times)
  • ATHLETIC 80: Lifeguard Training: Didn’t snag the Google internship you wanted? No sweat. Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that lifeguarding is a solid career choice for those  looking to dip their toes in the real world. Make decent cash, get the tan of your life (and hopefully not melanoma… sunblock, guys!) and know that you can save a life if need be.  (2 units, T/Th 12-2, fee)

    Once upon a time...

  • ATHLETIC 51: Beginning Golf: If you were able to make it into this class, I commend you with my highest honors. (1 unit, multiple times, fee)
  • ATHLETIC 320: Backpacking: You might have given up Stanford Sierra Camp to work for a start-up, but maybe this class can scratch your outdoorsy itch before you sell your soul for equity. (1 unit, M 7-9:30) (more…)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: A Boy’s Search

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

My mother recently said that there has yet to be a strong movie made about 9/11.  Not only is it a difficult subject to approach, there is the question of perspective.  By this I mean should the movie be more political or personal?  Should the movie try to represent many people, many families, or just one person?  In the case of “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” the film is about the latter viewpoint.

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” received mixed reviews from critics, mainly negative.  The fact that it made it onto the roster of Best Picture nominees for the Oscars is a surprise.  The film overall is far from perfect.

A young boy named Oskar struggles with the tragic loss of his father, who was in the Twin Towers on what he calls “the worst day.”  He tries to overcome his fears in a world that makes no sense by creating a puzzle that he believes will give him some more time with his father.  Along the way Oskar meets many people and finds that even when we would wish for nothing more than to be alone, we simply cannot be on life’s journey. (more…)

Remembrances of Movies Past

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This year’s two biggest standouts and award winners are “Hugo” and “The Artist.”  Both films have a big thing in common.  Besides being beautifully directed, artsy, and uplifting, “Hugo” and “The Artist” are an homage to classic cinema.  The movies also both champion the preservation of film.

Martin Scorsese surprised many by directing a film that children could actually see.  “Hugo,” set in Paris, is about a young boy who has lost his father.  Hugo lives in a clock in a train station, where he must hide from gendarmes who would take him to an orphanage.  His life changes when he finds the key to a robot that his father was trying to fix. (more…)

Movies With Heart: Capping Off Valentine’s Day

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

As this Valentine’s Day is coming to a close why not wind down with a movie or two, or three?  Don’t worry, these aren’t the usual Nicholas Sparks picks.  Here is a quick list of movies, quirky and poignant, that won’t add to your toothache or your heartache.

“Lars and the Real Girl”:  Ryan Gosling is at his best (and his best is pretty darn good) in this touching, quiet movie.  This sleeper was overlooked and underrated.  Gosling plays a man who is painfully shy and must come to terms with being an adult with the help of his brother and sister-in-law, some kind friends, and a girl who is not entirely “real.”  One of the funniest parts is when Gosling quickly chucks a flower away in order for the girl he likes not to assume it was for her.

“Sense and Sensibility”:  “Pride and Prejudice” (the BBC version of course) is wonderful as well, but Emma Thompson arguably did a better job with “Sense and Sensibility” than Austen herself.  The cinematography is beautiful and sweeping, as is the soundtrack.  Kate Winslet and Thompson play Marianne and Elinor, sisters and best friends who are navigating the waters of upper crest society and marriage in a time when women were not able to even dream of becoming anything that they could call their own.  Elinor aptly states that it is “a bit bewitching” to think that one’s happiness rests on another person.  In this case, it is not hard to imagine and it is wonderful to watch.

“Once”:  This movie is a great surprise.  “Once” won the Academy Award for Best Song for the beautiful “Falling Slowly.” Falling Slowly, Once Lyrics The song could describe what one feels while watching the movie itself as two underdogs struggling to find their way find each other instead.  “Once” shows how we can indeed make a difference in someone else’s life, even if it is just through passing by.  Another strong aspect of the film is the music.  The lyrics are haunting, describing everything from heartbreak to discovery of self.

“Lost in Translation”:  Ships passing in the night seems to be a favorite subject in literature and films alike.  Sofia Coppola manages to do this subtly, though.  Scarlett Johansson (in her strongest role, possibly) and Bill Murray are two Americans who have trouble adapting while visiting Tokyo.  They both feel lonely in a city crowded with people and find some solace in each other.  These two have a connection right away even though the odds may not be in their favor.

“Roman Holiday”:  There has to be at least one classic pick, right?  “Roman Holiday” is full of fun and truths as well.  Gregory Peck (sigh) plays a journalist who believes he has landed a big story when Audrey Hepburn (playing a princess) lands on his doorstep.  In one day they find that they can relate to one another and learn to really care for each other.  The most memorable scene?  Watch it and find out (it is at the end). (more…)

Stereo Love: V-Day Playlists for the Lovers and the Loveless

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into what persona I’ll be adopting for Valentine’s Day/Single’s Awareness Day (SAD) this year. I’ve done the couple thing. I’ve done the hating-on-anything-to-do-with-love-while-secretly-sending-myself-chocolate thing. At this point, I’m leaning towards ambivalence. As such, when I got inspired to do a playlist post by Kristi’s awesome article about failtastic lovesongs, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to go the “mushy” route or the “sardonically commenting on the absurdity of the holiday” route. So I went with both. One will make your significant other look deep into your eyes with misty longing or laugh whilst tenderly spooning. The other will make you want to a) key your ex’s car b) sit in bed with the  company of several pounds’ worth of Ghirardelli wrappers c) think to yourself “Heck YES I’m single and ready to mingle” or d) laugh uproariously at the concept of romantic love. Whatever you choose to jam out to this Tuesday, just remember that no one will love you until you learn to love yourself, you get 12 free condoms a quarter from Vaden, and that chocolate can stimulate all the serotonin you will ever need. Keep it classy, Stanford. (more…)

Snowchella!!!

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

With over a thousand attendees annually, Snowchella is “one of the most widely attended events on campus.” For anyone that missed out on Coachella tickets (I did too…screw all scalpers), you can join Stanford students at Snowchella for free. If you did manage to get a Coachella ticket then you can still go to Snowchella, but I like you less.

It’s one of the biggest events of the year, it’s for a great cause, and it’s completely free.

Saturday at 9:30 PM: If you’re looking to get past the typical weekend frat parties, then Snowchella is for you. Hosted by Sigma Nu and Kappa, the event this year is also funded by the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, ResEd, SCN, and ISC.

No alcohol at the show, SUIDs required, tons of fun.

Two years ago, Snowchella had Young the Giant and Chiddy Bang perform (before they were famous. The hipsters loved it).

This year, they’ll have Bassjackers, After the Smoke, and MYNDSET.

If you’d like to donate to SIC (over $4000 collected at the time of writing), please visit this link.

Salzburg…more like Waltzburg.

Monday, January 30th, 2012

design by Kat (Meng) Jia, image from twimg.com

 

The Viennese Ball is the last vestige of Stanford’s bygone BOSP in Austria.  Students in Vienna (ok, not Salzburg) apparently created the ball after they returned home.  I imagine the class of ’78 students going to an on-campus party their first weekend back and feeling nostalgic for the classiness they left across the pond.  Their dreams of class and capering were limited only by the fact that the first Viennese Ball was held in Toyon, and lacked the glamour of a capacious off-campus location.  Now it is held in the swanky Hyatt Regency in Burlingame near the San Francisco airport.  It’s a pretty place–the kind of hotel where all the guest rooms have iHomes.  The hotel features, among other things, a 24-hour fitness center, a sunday champagne brunch, and a “historical sports bar” called Knuckles.  There are separate rooms for waltz and swing, performances by a host of really talented Stanford dance groups, competitions for brave waltzers and swingers, and food in the lobby.

Besides the splendor of the location and the undeniable coolness of getting off campus on a Friday, you get to watch people who really, really know how to dance (the Opening Committee) just before you step out and try your feet at the waltz.  If you don’t know how to waltz, you have several options.

1. Learn to waltz before the ball.

If you’re taking Social Dance 1, the illustrious Richard Powers has probably been teaching you the waltz for a few weeks, but for others the Viennese Ball holds Austria Fortnight, a series of dance events for two weeks designed to teach beginners how to do the kinds of dances that will likely be featured at the Ball, as well as give more experienced dancers a chance to practice and get really excited about February 10.

2. Fake it.

Pretending that you know how to dance is a time-honored tradition itself. This approach works much better when your dance partner is aware of your deception.  This also tends to work better with swing than waltz, because the nature of the waltz requires you to pretend you know what you’re doing in the same direction that everyone else is actually doing it.  However, swing is fairly easy to improvise, and it’s possible to look snazzy and not have a clue what you’re doing as long as it goes with the beat and style of the song that’s playing.

3. Watch the performances.

If you really don’t want to dance after trying and failing to synchronize yourself, you can hop from room to room and watch the performances and competitions.  You don’t come to a ball to stand around, but there are far more irksome ways to pass an evening than by standing around in formal clothes watching incredible dancing.

So for those who enjoy their pomp with a dash of circumstance, or anyone who loves to dance, get tickets!  It’s happening on February 10.

Oscar Nominations 2012: Shock and Awe-ards

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

This year is one of lightness, not in the real world, but in the world of cinema.  The dresses on the red carpet are not the only things that are prettily pastel.  It is also a year of snubs.  As the 2012 Oscar nominations were announced the Academy seemed to be saying, “Hah!  We are not going to do anything you think.  We are rebellious and like to make people angry.  As such, we cannot even stoop to find a tenth movie for Best Picture.  Oh and by the way everyone’s songs sucked, so take that Madonna and Elton John…you can stop fighting with each other now.”

My family, who likes to make a competition out of guessing the winners of all the movie award shows (for the Golden Globes just put your bets on what you think possibly could not win and that will be the winner) is at a loss for the Oscars.  We thought that they would correct what the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards did strangely but instead they may have made it worse.

I am not really sure what happened with the Oscar nominations.  All I know is people are angry and every prediction and guess is altered now.  Let’s start at the top and throw in some Golden Globes comparisons for good measure.

(more…)

The Original Tebow Returns to Stanford

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

We really should call it "Rodin-ing"

How do you transport a pricelesss piece of art weighing more than a ton? Very carefully.

For those of you who haven’t heard, the crown jewel of Stanford’s Rodin collection has returned to its rightful home after a 2 year loan to the North Carolina Museum of Art. One of twenty-two original casts, our version of Rodin’s “The Thinker” was presented as a gift to the Cantor Arts Foundation in 1988. Since then, it has spent time in front of Meyer Library and in the Cantor Arts Center’s Diekman Gallery. (more…)

Watch Out for the Fuzz… Why Stanford’s Arts and Humanities Aren’t as Forgotten as You Think

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Odds are, you probably came to Stanford because you’d rather slip on a hoodie than sidle into a sportcoat, prefer sunshine and band-run to wintry-mix and finals clubs, and would rather cheer for Andrew Luck than say, the Winklevii. And, odds are, if you’re even remotely techie, you chose Stanford for its knockout science and engineering curriculum… and rankings. It’s no secret that the Farm is both a Mecca and breeding ground for calculation gurus, technical whizzes, biological demigods, and everyone else who is still slightly pissed that they couldn’t take C++ to fulfill their foreign language requirement.

But not everyone destined for Stanford emerged from the womb taking integrals.For those of you who didn’t know that we have an entire quad for engineering, who mourn the death of IHum, who  spend more time in Roble Gym than in the ACSR, who actually stop at Braun on Saturday nights rather than going straight to the Row, and who otherwise prefer the scent of leather-bound books and rich mahogany to motherboards and formaldehyde – your moment has arrived.

We know who you are – even if you are in an oft forgotten niche here at Stanford. The concert halls, high-ceilinged archive and manuscript libraries, and sun-drenched studios of ivies and liberal arts colleges pulled at your heartstrings when you were in the heat of college applications. You fantasized about wearing tweed (with elbow-patches) and swirling cognac whilst ruminating over the flaws in deontological theory and debating Descartes, salon-style. You are a connoisseur of human culture, and you came here, to Stanford, hoping that just maybe you could find that same level of pained fascination with the human condition and method of expression under a red-tile roof as you might have under the buttresses of collegiate-gothic cathedral.

Oh, you knew the sacrifices you’d make. You worried that your love of Chopin, appreciation of Klimt, and obsession with Marquez would all be misunderstood, met with raised eyebrows and blank stares peering over sheaves of graph paper and physics tomes. You would be ever the outsider during O-Chem rants and the communal groans over CME. Your choice to major in English, Religious Studies, or Studio Art would be met with polite smiles and the silent judgment that you weren’t intense enough to study something technical and have no solid, foreseeable career path. Your daring choice to pursue a creative, innovative, reflective, and interpretive field is constantly challenged by those who insist your interests provide no real-world application or insurance. Others will ask you why you chose to pursue a path in arts or humanities at Stanford which, while having what are generally assumed to be “good” programs in these departments, seems to place a much greater emphasis on technologically-driven fields. With our home and history in Silicon Valley, seemingly endless scientific resources, and army of high-profile techie alums, people will probably ask you why you didn’t go to say, Harvard, to study all that “fuzzy” stuff.

To those people, you can now proudly reply that Stanford upholds the honor of having the top arts and humanities program in the world. And that we actually knocked Harvard off of its crimson pedestal to snag it. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Stanford upstaged Harvard, UChicago, The Australian National University, and Princeton for the coveted top spot among university arts and humanities programs. The leap in the rankings has been largely credited to the outstanding number of MacArthur fellows and Pulitzer winners zipping across the quad and pioneering our liberal-arts research and curriculum, in addition to our broad range of arts/humanities offerings and extensive resources.

By comparison, (according to the U.S. News and World Report) Stanford Engineering clocked in at only #2, taking a backseat to M.I.T.. Admittedly, M.I.T. isn’t exactly a mortifying rival, and obviously second place is nothing to be ashamed of,  but the fact that one of the disciplines we pay the greatest lip-service to here on the Farm isn’t comparatively the best on campus does resonate a bit ironically.

That said, I could go on at length about the fallacy of rankings and the inconsistency of the methods, variables, and formulae (as well as frequent subjectivity and manipulation) that produce them. Rankings are not all-determining and should not be the primary mechanism through which we garner our self-esteem or evaluate ourselves as a school. But they do stand as a considerable litmus test that can testify to the strength of a program and should be reflective of the attention and respect that those departments should receive from students, faculty, administration, and, of course, the general public.

So the next time you find yourself smugly worrying about the future of your friend who’s an Art History major, try to catch yourself. The arts and humanities have not been extinguished in the wake of technology and scientific advancement. Their champions claim just as meaningful a place in our culture and society as do the engineers, programmers, researchers, and inventors.  And the work produced by the left-brained talent of the world might not thrive to the extent that it does without the help of the designers, writers, artists, performers, historians, anthologists, etc. who use the context of the human condition and sensibility to establish a place for those technologies in our lives.  I applaud Stanford for acknowledging the importance of bolstering such broad fields of study, and for taking such impressive strides to strengthen its departments and cultivate extensive opportunities for intellectual exploration and discovery. Thank you, Stanford, for yet again proving that your students really can have the best of all worlds.

Mission Adventure: A Look at Two Sequels

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows are this season’s action-packed blockbusters.  If you are in the mood for some mindless fun and excitement (come on, who isn’t) and don’t want to have to work too hard to follow the plot then these two movies are the right ones to see.

The two movies have a few things in common.  They are both over two hours, have great special effects, the plots are a little overly convoluted, and most importantly they are better than the preceding movie in their series.  They also do not take themselves too seriously.

Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol picks up with Ethan Hunt in prison and from there goes through a bunch of frankly awesome action sequences full of massive explosions, elaborate disguises, and a couple of truly memorable scenes.  (I am sorry for running out of superlatives.)  Tom Cruise’s hand-picked new team in the movie is charismatic, including Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg (who is very funny).  The stand-out scenes are the magnetic suit that makes Jeremy Renner able to fly above a large fan, the rotating car garage that Tom Cruise must jump off various levels of, and the most spectacular is the scene in Dubai where Cruise seems to have nothing holding him to the outside windows of an unnaturally high hotel but a pair of gloves (he actually did this stunt himself but with a cord).  That last scene leads to an incredible amount of palm-sweating (or at least it did on my part).  Besides being an action-scene expert, Tom Cruise brings his always sincere intensity to the movie.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is more fun than its predecessor.  There are more twists and turns and we get back to the better core of the film, the funny relationship between Holmes and Dr. Watson.  Thankfully Robert Downey Jr.’s accent is a little more understandable this time around.  Noomi Rapace sadly has nothing to do but we finally get to see Sherlock Holmes’ real nemesis, Professor Moriarty.  At times there is too much going on but it is easy to see that Guy Ritchie is having a good time here.  The special effects, especially one of the ending scenes on a never-ending waterfall, are spot on.

Both movies have endings that open up for a new adventure.  It never ends, say you?  Yes, it never ends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Peter Pan Syndrome of “Young Adult”

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Young Adult is a guilty pleasure if ever there was one.  Critics have described it as a train wreck that is impossible to turn away from.  Actually, it starts out more like that strange aunt who has a little too much to drink during the holidays and reveals all her secrets, and then it ends up as a full train crash.

Charlize Theron is wicked perfection as Mavis Gary, a 37 year-old woman who never grew up.  Mavis is stuck living in the past glow of what she thinks was her peak, those high school glory years when she was 17, beautiful, popular and dating cool-guy Buddy Slade.  Everything seems to have gone downhill from there as we catch up with Mavis sleeping in yesterday’s clothes face-down in a messy apartment with the Kardashians rambling on the television in the background.

There is a parallel drawn between Mavis’ life and the fictional young adult series she is a ghostwriter for.  As the series ends she could choose to make a change in her life but instead she decides to visit her hometown and go after Buddy (who is now married with a baby on the way).  Usually we would like to think that people learn from their mistakes but as Mavis so wonderfully illustrates, not everyone cares to.

Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have a knack for edge.  The question asked is how much can we possibly hate ourselves?  As it turns out, a lot.  This is shown when Mavis picks out her blonde hair that once earned her the title of “Best Hair” in high school.  However, as Young Adult is a character study, it is the performances that are the most essential to the film.  Charlize Theron fully commits to her role, as always, managing to get across Mavis’ bitterness and her brokenness at the same time.

The most cringe-worthy scene is Mavis’ breakdown at Buddy’s baby shower as she hears for the first time that it is everyone else that feels sorry for her and not the other way around.  It is Patton Oswalt that stands out, though.  He grounds the film and pulls out the most touching performance as a former classmate of Mavis who became disabled after being the victim of a hate crime in high school.

Sure Young Adult is snarky and has no redemption for the main character (something we do not see much of in Hollywood films) but more than that there is an underlying desperation and wrenching sadness that is frightening because it could become all too familiar fast.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the Dark Side: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Movie Review

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I apologize for the lateness of these reviews and blame it on holiday withdrawal.

Who is fierce, brilliant, and unafraid?  If you answered Meryl Streep and actually all the actresses who gave great, strong performances this year you are right.  Well, sort of.  In this case the person or character referred to is Lisbeth Salander.  Noomi Rapace brought her to life perfectly in the Swedish trilogy.  However, Rooney Mara is also excellent in David Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

It was hard not to have high expectations after Noomi Rapace and the striking three Swedish films adapted from Stieg Larsson’s novels.  You do not want to be disappointed.  Luckily, Fincher does a wonderful job of directing in his usual dark style, save the opening sequence.  What was up with that exactly?  Besides that though, this The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo took the positive elements of a Hollywood film, crisp editing and finesse.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is two and a half hours, like the original Swedish version, but it moves along quickly and has the same intensity.  By intensity, I mean sitting on the edge of your seat/biting your nails with one hand/making a fist with the other intensity.  This is not a light film by any means but the scenes are shot well.  The soundtrack by Trent Reznor adds to the overall feeling of movie.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Immigrant Song — Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross feat. Karen O

Some elements of the plot have been changed but none have a negative effect on the film.  In fact, the relationship between Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander is made more obvious.  Mikael comes to Lisbeth to ask her to help him find “a killer of women” and the ending of the film goes beyond its Swedish twin by leaving us with Lisbeth watching Mikael leave with his fellow journalist (also his mistress) and the look of disappointment on her face.  It makes their relationship more important and vital to the story, which is a positive addition.  Also, Daniel Craig is in his most likable state here, softer than usual.  It is Rooney Mara who pulls through and makes Lisbeth young, vulnerable and even more playful (although not as haunted as Noomi Rapace).  Mara has been nominated already for some prestigious awards and hopefully will be nominated for an Oscar as well (the movie and Fincher should also get noticed).

If you have been living under a rock-like place and do not know what The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about, here is a quick synopsis.  A smart, antisocial woman named Lisbeth Salander is a computer whiz/hacker by day and a feminist always.  A journalist named Mikael Blomkvist, whose name has been slandered from a messy trial, is asked to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy, powerful man’s granddaughter who went missing over forty years ago.  Lisbeth helps Mikael find the killer and they find out a lot of pretty bad stuff along the way.  The corruption that goes all the way to the top and Lisbeth’s past leads to her being The Girl Who Played with Fire and eventually The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  “The land of the midnight sun is much darker” than we could have ever imagined.

 

 

 

 

Just Enjoy the Show: The Twilight Saga Continues

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Yes, the long-awaited The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.  I know what you’re thinking.  Before you think it though, here it goes.  Breaking Dawn Part 1 is actually enjoyable.  That’s right, I said it, enjoyable.  If you know exactly what you are getting you will not be disappointed.  This is different than a lot of movies recently racing towards the Oscars that were a bit, ahem, disappointing.  I won’t name names, though, cough cough The Descendants, Moneyball, Beginners and The Tree of Life.  Even The Help.  I mean, good?  Yes, definitely.  The best we’ve ever seen?  I don’t think so.  Many of the movies seem to be coming up short.

I read a couple of reviews of Breaking Dawn, including the one in the L.A. Times, and I was expecting the worst.  This is from a fan of the Twilight series, both books and movies.  Okay, not a die-hard wait in line for the premiere or wear a t-shirt or admit out loud (oh wait, too late) fan or anything.  I probably would have fallen asleep during the midnight premiere.  Not even Harry Potter could keep me up I think.  Gasp, a Stanford student who likes Twilight and admits it?  The series is silly and a fantasy of course.  But that’s just it, it’s an escape.  I mean when you have to deal with guys not even offering to pick up the check anymore Edward and Jacob seem like a dream.  Also, amidst many vampire series, mostly lame, Stephenie Meyer did something right (make the characters likable).

So the reviews were harsh of course but to tell the truth Breaking Dawn personally was the only movie this holiday season so far that was fun to watch and without high expectations.  The movie covers the wedding, honeymoon (finally but don’t get your hopes up too much, this is still PG-13 after all), Bella’s pregnancy (spoiler alert, sorry) and birth (world’s fastest pregnancy) and ends with her transformation into a vampire (spoiler alert but come on you should  have seen that one coming).  Part 2 is up next but Part 1 was like an entire lifetime consolidated into one movie.

Breaking Dawn still doesn’t top the first Twilight movie with its sort of indie innocence before all the mega-fame and budgets.  However, Breaking Dawn is better and more faithful to the series than Eclipse, focusing more on the romance than the violence.  Actually, when I read the Breaking Dawn book in high school (hiding it under the desk from people who literally cringed when they saw it) I wondered how they would make it into a movie, especially with the birth scene.  Bill Condon (director of Dreamgirls) did a nice job.  The actors, Kristen Stewart (a strong actress anyway), Taylor Lautner, and Robert Pattinson do the best they can with the material they are given and try to do as little winking at the camera as possible, so for that I applaud them.  Pattinson especially is much better in this movie and even gives Edward somewhat of a backbone.  Bella and Edward’s wedding is a highlight with its beautiful décor and wedding dress (vampires really do have good taste).

Just let go of the questions (like how can a vampire get someone pregnant and the whole verging on creepy imprinting thing), sit back, and go with it.

Bruno Mars – It Will Rain [New Music]

 

 

Hidden Treasures: Stanford’s Social Dance Scene

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

 

Stanford students havin' a ball!

To the uninitiated, the verbiage of the social dance world probably sounds like a foreign language.  Wanna Lindy HopShim Sham, or do the Hully-Gully?  Need a partner for Kerry Sets?  Did you learn BNP at FNW?

Yet, every first* Friday of  the month, hundreds of Stanford students gather in Roble Gym for “Jammix,” an event for social dancers consisting of dozens of dances from the past three centuries.  From polka to salsa, from swing to redowa, Jammix has it all, and newbies with a willingness to learn are welcomed alongside old pros.

Wait, you may ask, where do these students come from?  Thanks to Stanford’s enormously popular dance division courses, every quarter brings new initiates to Stanford’s thriving social dance community.  And don’t be discouraged by flashy dance shows like “Dancing with the Stars” – jeans, T-shirts, and socks or dancing shoes are the preferred attire among Stanford’s dance ninjas.

How do I get started?

There are tons of awesome dance courses at Stanford.  The timeless favorite starter course is Dance 46: Social Dances of North America I.  Often full within 48 hours of the opening of registration, “Social I” is a jam-packed whirlwind of America’s favorite social dances.  Ever wanted to sweep a damsel off her feet a la Fred Astaire?  Don’t worry, you’ll be a pro at waltz and swing in no time!  Ever envied Michael Buble’s sweet salsa moves?  He’ll be wishing he’d saved the last dance for you.  😉

It don't mean a thing.... (Stanford swing dancers in Roble Gym)

For the full gamut of awesome social dance classes, check out the following list.  Most of these courses are taught by Stanford’s resident expert Richard Powers, whose role as a world-renowned dance historian has kept social dance alive and authentic on the Farm and beyond.

I want more!
  • Awesome!  Lucky for you, the annual Viennese Ball is right around the corner.  Held every February, Viennese Ball is the largest social dance gathering of the year.  Usually hosted at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, Viennese covers two dance floors with live swing and waltz bands and features a beautiful, elaborate opening ceremony.  Bust out the tuxes and evening gowns, because this is a breathtaking night to remember!
  • In advance of Viennese, Stanford holds the Bon Bon Ball and “Austria Fortnight,” two weeks full of free social dance lessons throughout campus – no partner or experience necessary.  Wanna learn more?  Check out the Stanford Dance Division website here.  Happy dancing!
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