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  • Books: Southern Discomfort

    Fifty years—no, not 50, not even 30 years ago, Robert Goolrick might well have not published his memoir, “The End of the World as We Know It.” And he wouldn't have had to wait for someone to forbid it or talk him out of it. He wouldn't even have had to argue with himself about it. Because long before it got to that point, he would have heard a voice going off in his head—not a still, small voice, but a firm, no-nonsense Presbyterian grandmother kind of voice—saying, “Where are your manners?”I’m glad those days are behind us sufficiently for Goolrick to go public with his book. I say sufficiently, because they certainly aren’t gone completely, much less for good. Southerners cherish privacy and discretion and decorum more than they prize good sense. If they didn’t, Goolrick wouldn’t have had to write his memoir.He’s built his book around a punchline ending—a dark surprise—so I won’t give it away, although to be honest, this structure he’s adopted is my least favorite part of the book...
  • Summer Movies: What's So Funny?

    This is going to be the summer of fun. No, really. Until recently, comedies were on the Hollywood endangered-species list, but for some reason this summer there are more of them than there are pirates of the Caribbean. Which ones will actually make you laugh? Beats us. So we asked the folks vying for your comedy dollar to enter a contest: using your film as inspiration, tell us something funny, and do it in 100 words or fewer. (Mr. Apatow seems to have difficulty playing by the rules—typical director.) Who won? We report, you decide. ...
  • Movies: Ansen on 'Hot Fuzz'

    “Hot Fuzz,” directed by Edgar Wright, does for the cop action movie what “Shaun of the Dead” did for the zombie flick. It’s a bigger, faster cut-and funnier-movie than its predecessor, but that’s as it should be in a film that’s sending up the overamped conventions of a Jerry Bruckheimer/Joel Silver-style big-budget action movie, transformed into quaint English idioms. The supercop hero, Nick Angel, played by co-writer Simon Pegg, is a grim and zealous London bobbie whose arrest rate is 400 times that of his nearest competitor, which tends to make the other fellows look bad. So, to get him out of the way, he is “promoted” to a faraway job in sleepy, seemingly crime-free Sandford, where his by-the-book approach to the law does not play well with the astonishingly lenient local cops. Before this very clever comedy is over, however, machines guns will be blasting, the death rate will soar, and Nick and his galumphing sidekick, Danny (Nick Frost), will find their lives imitating the hi...
  • Homer Simpson's Big-Screen Odyssey

    To make it on the big screen, you have to give people something spectacular. Something extraordinary. Something like Bart Simpson—full frontal. It happens early in "The Simpsons Movie," when the animated 10-year-old takes a dare from his goofball father, Homer, to skateboard naked through the streets of Springfield. Hidden by plants and picket fences, he whizzes along, past kids, down hills, through traffic lights, until, in one shocking moment, little Bart flashes his little part to the entire world. Which may make this the first Hollywood film to show that kind of skin and to escape an R rating.In a summer bursting with comedies—including major animated fare "Shrek the Third" and the new Pixar film, "Ratatouille"—"The Simpsons Movie," which opens July 27, is both the least hyped and the most anticipated. Since "The Simpsons" debuted in 1989, it has built a fanatical fan base, earned 23 Emmys and generated more than $2.5 billion in revenue, if you include the never-ending selection...
  • The Science of Curbing Emissions

    Like many people who are scrambling for ways to stave off climate disaster, Klaus Lackner is thinking trees. But not the kind with green leaves and roots, and certainly not the sweet little specimens that "carbon offset" purveyors hawk as a way to balance out the carbon dioxide emitted when you tool around town in a Hummer. Lackner, a professor of geophysics at Columbia University, is helping to design a synthetic tree. It would stand roughly 1,000 feet tall with a footprint a little bigger than a football field, and be crisscrossed with scaffolding holding liquid sodium hydroxide, which is best known as lye. For in addition to cleaning drains, sodium hydroxide has a chemical property that promises to be in great demand if, as seems likely, the nations of the world fall short of stabilizing the atmosphere's load of greenhouse gases: it sucks carbon dioxide out of the air.A new phrase has emerged in the debate over climate change: managing the unavoidable. To grasp "unavoidable,"...
  • Pet-Food Recall: What's a Cat to Do?

    Last month's massive pet-food recall sent worried pet owners scrambling for what to feed their furry loved ones. The message from vets? Don't panic. "If a commercial food that's not on the recall list is working well for your pet, stick with it," says Dr. Rebecca Remillard of the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston."In general, I would not abandon the commercial diet." Vets also urge caution for those pet owners tempted to make their own pet food. "Homemade diets are really difficult to balance," says Dr. Sandy Willis of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dog and cat diets call for high amounts of calcium and fat and require a specific set of vitamins and trace minerals. But if you're willing to make the effort, preparing homemade pet meals is doable, says Remillard, a veterinary nutritionist.A serving should include a meat, grain, vegetable and vitamin/mineral supplement formulated for cats and dogs (and absolutely no onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes or...
  • The Man Who Read God's Mind

    Was there really a time when reporters besieged a celebrity's home, forced him to go into hiding to escape their hounding, filled newspapers with leaks and speculations—and the celebrity was not a politician, not a movie star, but a theoretical physicist? And the leaks and speculation centered not on political scandal or illicit affairs but progress toward the unification of the theories of two physical forces, electromagnetism and gravitation?There was, but only because there was Albert Einstein. Like no scientist before or since—arguably, like no scholar in any field—Einstein won popular adulation for intellectual firepower and breakthroughs in fields that few people had even heard of, much less understood. A quartet of papers in the "miracle year" of 1905 proposed the special theory of relativity, provided proof of the existence of atoms, put quantum mechanics on a solid empirical foundation and unveiled what would become the most famous equation in science, E = mc2, any one of...
  • A Life In Books: David Hajdu

    He loves Henry James, though he admits James's novels are full of dead ends. Then again, as a biographer, David Hajdu has a knack for working around dead ends, resulting in the detailed life stories of musicians Joan Baez and Billy Strayhorn. An Important Book that you admit you haven't read:I read lots of classic novels, but what I'm more bothered by is my inability to keep up with great stuff that's being written now. I'd love to get around to reading "What Is the What" by Dave Eggers. Everyone says it's great. A classic that, on rereading, was disappointing: "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes. It's great, but I haven't been able to get through it again. I'm sure it's not his fault, it's mine. I suppose I'd like it more if I learned Spanish, but working with English is hard enough as it is.
  • BeliefWatch: Strong Reaction to Chocolate Jesus

    Last Monday, as Christians around the globe prepared for Holy Week and Easter, the Italian-American artist Cosimo Cavallaro was leading a car chase through the streets of New York City. With reporters trailing close behind, Cavallaro drove a refrigerated truck through narrow, clogged streets until he finally lost his pursuers and came to rest at an undisclosed—but large, cool and accommodating—location. There, he unloaded his masterpiece: a life-size sculpture of Jesus Christ, totally nude and made entirely of dark chocolate.The week before, plans to display the sculpture at a Manhattan gallery were scrapped when Christian groups protested the upcoming exhibition. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League called it "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever." Newspapers and blogs from Winnipeg to Romania picked up the story and, as a sign of how tense things have become on both sides of the culture wars, the artist and his wife began receiving death threats on their...
  • Quindlen: How an Old Dog Teaches Me Tricks About Life

    I am that most pathetic of human creatures, a human who walks into a veterinarian's office without an animal. "Beau?" the woman behind the desk calls, and I rise. Dr. Brown ushers me back into an examining room kitted out with a bottle of preserved heartworms, and sends me off with a prescription refill and the promise of a house call when necessary. The house call will be for the purpose of euthanasia, but neither of us says the word.The object of our discussion, a black Labrador with the ridiculous AKC name of Bristol's Beauregard Buchanan, is at home sleeping on an oriental rug in the foyer. The rug smells. So does Beau. At this late date there is not much reason for him to appear at the vet's in person. He moves now as though his back legs are prosthetics to which he has yet to become accustomed. His sight and his hearing are mostly gone. But he has retained the uncanny ability to know when a certain phony lilt to my voice as I snap on the leash means we are headed to that place...
  • The Pets We Love--And Drug

    Fluffy is getting old. Going on 13, she's geriatric for a Rottweiler. And like many people past retirement age, she takes a lot of pills—steroids for her bad hips and pinched nerve, a chewable tablet for her underactive thyroid, even Benadryl for her allergies. Her owner, Kelly Dowd, is happy to pay the $75 monthly. But to date, there has been no pill to treat Fluffy's most serious ailment—at 110 pounds, she's 25 pounds overweight, borderline obese.Next month this will change when Slentrol, the first diet drug for dogs, hits the market. Developed by Pfizer and approved by the Food and Drug Administration late last year, Slentrol suppresses a dog's appetite and limits fat absorption. Although Dowd says she'll try to cut the amount of food Fluffy eats before resorting to drugs, at a cost of nearly $2 a day Pfizer believes the owners of at least 17 million dogs will be willing to try Slentrol. That could be a conservative bet: about one third of the 74 million dogs in the United States...
  • Clinton Fund-Raising Strategy Backfires

    There's a turncoat inside Hillary Clinton's money machine. Over the past several years, Leonore Blitz has helped raise about $250,000 for Clinton's Senate races, and she signed up early to help the new presidential campaign. But in recent weeks the Manhattan marketing consultant has secretly attended finance meetings and fund-raisers for Clinton's archrival, Barack Obama. Under intense pressure from the Clinton team to pick sides, Blitz—who bundled more than $1 million for John Kerry in 2004—felt deeply conflicted. Clinton operatives have warned donors not to contribute to other campaigns, and put a price on disloyalty: early supporters will be valued and latecomers scorned. But now Blitz is coming out of the shadows, ready to test the rules. "I have been a lifelong advocate of women and minorities' participating and running for political office," she told NEWSWEEK last week. "Therefore, I'm supporting both Clinton and Obama."The Clinton campaign denies that it has strong-armed...
  • Horror No Longer Scares Hollywood

    The medical photographs on Robert Rodriguez's laptop are, in a word, disgusting. They show real, live human beings afflicted with ... actually, Robert, why don't you explain? "It's this thing called 'necrotizing fasciitis.' It's basically a flesh-eating virus," he says, giggling. "Pretty nasty, huh?" The 38-year-old director ("Sin City") borrowed the photos from a doctor pal and used them to inspire the look of the zombies in "Planet Terror," an 85-minute splatterfest that kicks off "Grindhouse," the outrageous horror-flick double feature that Rodriguez made in tandem with longtime pal Quentin Tarantino. (Tarantino's portion is a chase movie called "Death Proof" about a stuntman with a killer car.) The twin billing is a perverse homage to the craptastic, low-budget exploitation flicks that Rodriguez and Tarantino used to sneak in to in the late 1970s. "These movies couldn't get big stars, so they had to have what they called 'exploitable' elements, lurid material that Hollywood...
  • Where China's Rivers Run Dry

    The view from the top of the luxurious Morgan Centre (which will soon host a seven-star hotel) down onto Beijing's Olympic Green, where the 2008 Summer Games will begin in less than 500 days, is breathtaking. There, far below, lies the stunning Herzog & de Meuron-designed "bird nest" Olympic Stadium. Right next to it is the equally mesmerizing National Aquatics Center, a square structure with bubbled blue translucent walls known as the Water Cube. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has called this soon-to-be-completed sports complex "nothing short of staggering."How successfully Beijing has turned the Games into a global coming-out party is—for anyone who, like me, came to know China when Mao still held sway—a mind-bending accomplishment. What has happened here in the intervening years is perhaps the most dramatic story of national transformation in human history. However, the environmental costs of China's hell-bent development have been severe. The...
  • Sloan: Pumping Hormones Into GM's Nest Egg

    There hasn't been much good news out of General Motors in recent years, but you'll be glad to know that at least one part of GM's United States operations is finally fixed: its pension funds. GM may be having a hard time turning around its auto business and getting its financial statements straight, but it's kicked butt in pensionland. In fact, GM's funds have done so well that the company has switched about $20 billion in pension assets to lower-risk bonds from higher-risk stocks. It's the equivalent of taking chips off the table after you've gotten ahead of the game.Here's the deal. For reasons we'll examine later, GM's pension surplus increased $9.6 billion in 2006. That gain would have made GM spectacularly profitable if pension results were part of companies' income statements, as some folks propose. I think that's a bad idea, because pension returns distort results, which in turn would discourage companies from offering them. Not that they need much discouragement these days...
  • Vineyards On the Move

    It sounds like a vintner's nightmare: Sharp shifts in temperature help trigger potent off-season rains that bloat grapes with unwanted moisture. Then an overpowering heat wave withers vines and shrivels grapes. Desperate winemakers advance the harvest by as much as a month to save what they can. This is no vineyard horror film; it's a description of some of the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and merlot harvests in parts of southern and western France.And boy, was it good. In a decade that keeps breaking records for heat, we're already sipping climate-changed wines. Hot years like 2000 and 2006 produced some stellar, rich, full-bodied and mature Bordeaux, but the 2003 heat-wave harvest was the best in memory—at least until the hot harvest of 2005. Global-warming cru is more flavorful, fruitier, less acidic and higher in alcohol content than the average-temperature stuff, a near-perfect fit for today's wine drinkers. And these hot wines tend to come mature, so even a big Bordeaux no longer...
  • Is Fiber the New Protein?

    Debbie Fireman is a self-proclaimed fiber junkie. The 41-year-old marketing exec from Penn Valley, Pa., eats fiber-rich foods "all day long," including whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains and beans. But that's not all. Her pantry is stocked with fiber supplements, cereals and snack bars, loaded with apples, cinnamon, peanut butter and chocolate. "Fiber is great for you, and it doesn't have to taste like cardboard," she says.Once relegated to the bottom of the heap by carb-phobic foodies enamored by all things high in protein, fiber is finally getting some respect. There were 400 new high-fiber food products introduced in 2002, according to market-research firm Datamonitor. Last year, 890 new products hit supermarket shelves, including high-fiber breads, chips, crackers, cookies, and prepared meals and entrees. And 2007 is poised for more growth as aging boomers and Gen-Xers discover fiber's benefits. If you're tired of dry and flavor-free whole-wheat foods, don't despair. ...
  • My Turn: Rooting for the Home Team Is Not So Easy

    Walking into San Diego's Petco Park just over a year ago, I heard the voice of Cuban icon Celia Cruz singing her classic song, "Cuba qué lindos son tus paisajes." I couldn't help but sway and sing to the melody I had grown up hearing in my parents' Manhattan apartment. We had come to the park to watch the championship game of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. We settled into our seats behind the Cuban dugout and looked up at the scoreboard, which displayed the slogan "Aquí se habla béisbol," or, "Baseball spoken here." Thousands of Cuban fans cheered, wearing their pride on their shirts, hats and faces.As a Cuban-American whose family has been torn apart by the tyranny of the Castro regime, I never intended to cheer for the Cuban National Team. I didn't want to give Fidel Castro any reason to gloat. Watching the opening two rounds on television, our family had rooted for Team USA and Puerto Rico, which had Bernie Williams, my son Devin's favorite player. Then, when we got to San...
  • In Wikipedia We Trust

    Wikipedia has had a rough year, and Middlebury College students are only its latest casualties. History professors at Middlebury recently banned citing the online encyclopedia as a research source.But they're not alone in bullying Wikipedia.In the span of just two weeks, from late February to early March three separate stories calling into question Wikipedia's credibility attracted national attention.Middlebury's history professors flung the first dart, placing Wikipedia on a blacklist that runs one deep. The decision came after a handful of students made the same error on a Japanese history exam, and professors traced the error to Wikipedia.Next, we were introduced to Conservapedia-open-source gone "Fair and Balanced." Its founders, peeved by an apparent liberal bias in Wikipedia articles, launched the site this past November and, as of March, have given it seven "commandments," including mandating American spellings of words and the use of B.C. and A.D. instead of B.C.E. and C.E...
  • Cubicle crushes and other know-nos

    It's dormcest taken to a new level: dating a co-worker. Can inter-office dating ever end in happily ever after? Current helps you navigate the tricky, yet always tempting, prospect of romance in the workplace. For starters, be clear and honest about your objectives. It's best to consider from the outset what will happen if passion palls between you and your cute colleague. Ask yourself if a breakup would make your daily life awkward, or even worse, painful-and whether or not this drawback is worth the risk. If you decide that it is, be aware of company policies. Some corporations, like Viacom, demand that the pair meet with the human resources department after the first two dates in order to "assess the relationship." For some companies, inter-office dating can be much more serious.A few have anti-fraternization policies that ban inter-office dating altogether, and in the case where one person outranks the other, the relationship can automatically be considered sexual harassment. If...
  • Out of the Office Here's to the New Job-or...not

    You made it through the interview, the training and your first real day on the job. Now it's time to blow off a little steam and go out for that well-earned drink with your new colleagues. Here's everything you need to know to succeed in the wonderful world of happy hour.For starters, some college drinking habits must be relegated to your past. First and foremost: Pregaming. Sure, it was fun to invite friends over to your dorm room to pound a couple of shots before a night out, but showing up at happy hour already hammered is a no-no in the working world. Also, set and keep a three-drink limit for the evening and truly stick to it, for the sake of both your wallet and your dignity.And when you finally do make your beverage selection, be aware of what your drink of choice might say about you…Long-Island iced tea: Long island iced tea has no place in the working-world. This drink is simply not sophisticated, and with three shots per drink, ordering it strongly implies that you are...
  • IM Yours;)

    As if offices weren’t already rife with potential for awkward mishaps, electronic blunders are fast becoming part of a new workplace reality as a generation reared on instant communication adjusts to the “real world.” It can be tough to remember that at most major companies, every email, IM and even Google search could be monitored and recorded. Each day we leave behind an electronic trail of activity that we don’t always want our bosses to follow.It can be difficult to abandon the mind-frame that email is a private form of communication, but one compliance officer at a top New York financial firm emphasized, “If you wouldn’t want your mother to read your email on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, don’t send it.” He added that because employees do not own their electronic communication when it is on company computers, it can legally be reprinted and publicized, and has led to sexual harassment charges. To avoid mishaps, Daphne Muller, a recent UNC grad working at a prominent New...
  • Three's Company

    The 2006-2007 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh men's basketball team went 21-6, finished second in a stacked Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) and ended the season ranked sixth in the nation. But a loss in the semifinals of the WIAC Tournament left the Titans at the mercy of the NCAA Division III Selection Committee, which reserved just 18 at-large bids. And when the 59-team championship field had been set, UW-Oshkosh-and seven other teams in the national top 25 rankings-found themselves on the outside looking in.This is a storyline that has played itself out with increasing-and alarming-frequency in recent years. Every NCAA division has teams that cry "snub." One need look no further than the yearly controversy surrounding the Bowl Championship Series or the "bubble team" debate last month. But when it comes to Division III-the NCAA's largest, most diverse and, increasingly, most problematic division-the number-crunching gets a lot tighter."The size of Division...
  • Playlist

    Pop/EclecticU. Penn’s Jennifer Shen, an economics major, enjoys her solid pop hits—with a few oddballs thrown in for edge—while rollerblading and hanging out with friends.“Better to be Apart,” Lee-Hom Wang ...
  • Fashion Week

    It’s no coincidence that thrift stores thrive on the twenty-something crowd—full-priced designer garb and broke college students don’t exactly go together like khakis and a polo. This March, clutching my press pass and equipped with vintage spoils from my grandmother’s closet, I was one of the few college students with behind-the-scenes access to New York Fashion Week. I ventured into the fray to ask the impossible: can hot spring looks be achieved on a college budget without digging through bins at Goodwill? This season, thanks to retailers like Target—living up to its longstanding nickname Targé—the answer is “oui.”At the opening ceremony of Proenza Schouler’s Target line I spotted several fashionistas sporting identical dresses—which, lo and behold, will soon be available in a modified version at Target (Boy Blue Silk Bustier Top; $49.99).It’s amazing how a little name-brand goes a long way. First came Mossimo, followed by Isaac Mizrahi and now Proenza Schouler. All of a sudden,...
  • Health: Hooked on Hookah

    Megan Gardner sits with a group of friends, socializing in a smoke-filled room around a Middle Eastern water pipe. Mellow music plays in the background. Authentic artwork adorns the hookah café's walls. As a junior at the University of Miami, Gardner smokes hookah once a week and considers it a great way to relax and unwind and to bring people together.The modern fad of smoking hookah derives from a 500-year-old Arabian tradition based on smoking flavored tobacco heated by coals and filtered through water. Today, hookah smoking is a growing phenomenon among American college students, with hundreds of hookah cafés, bars and lounges popping up near major universities, including Arizona State University and Boston University, in the last few years. In Pittsburgh, Penn, four hookah bars have opened since 2003, all within five miles of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.Like many college students, Gardner believes shisha, the flavored tobacco smoked from a hookah...
  • Food for Thought

    “95% of Americans like cereal. 57% like sex. We’ve got cereal.” Not a bad tagline for a company website.First established in 2003 by David Roth and Rick Bacher, Cereality, a cereal café, has followed this reasoning and had success.For $3.99, cereal-lovers can fill a bowl with two scoops of their favorite cereal, two toppings, such as malted milk balls or fruit and nuts, and unlimited milk (soy, if you please). Pajama-clad “cereologists” also offer tempting alternatives such as smoothies and cereal “bars” and “bites.” Roth says that it is this sense of personalization that appeals to—and is expected by—today’s generation of college students.“We’re not just creating a commodity, but giving it to you like you would have it at home,” says Roth. “It’s about the emotional ties surrounding the cereal meal—the rituals and habits, the loyalties to a particular product, the mood and ambience.”And with three out of the four prototypes on or near college campuses, including one in the student...
  • Artists in Residence

    Eldar Djangirov was just nine years old and still living in Kyrgyzstan when the late New York City jazz aficionado Charles McWhorter first saw him perform at a jazz festival in Novosibirsk, Russia. Struck by his mature talent on the piano, McWhorter urged Djangirov’s parents to bring him to the U.S. so their son could develop his already blossoming musical gift. In 1998, family followed their American dream to a quintessentially town, Kansas City—which they chose for its historic link to jazz—and began spending his summers studying piano on a scholarship at Michigan’s prestigious Interlochen School of Music. He rapidly earned a reputation as a child prodigy, appearing on Marian McPartland’s NPR show, “Piano jazz,” at age 12—making him the youngest performer ever to appear on her program.A sophomore music major at the University of southern California until recently, Djangirov has three albums and hundreds of performances under his belt.For the young man Billboard called “the fastest...
  • Tech: Facebook Faceoff

    Only in your dreams can you buy a puppy for 50 cents and a private jet plane for $1.50. But in Cyworld, the newest sensation in online social networking sites, your dreams can come true.“Cy” means “relationship” in Korean and it’s what www.cyworld.com is all about. But from its customizable “Minimes”—cartoon characters made to look just like you—to your “Miniroom” that you can individualize using “acorns”— Cyworld currency that can be bought with 10 cents worth of real money—the site is a haven for self-expression.Kimi Pasamonte, a 25-year-old grad student at Cal State Fullerton and member of Cyworld, loves the site’s creative capacities. “I had [my minime] designed during Halloween to be Red Riding Hood since that was my Halloween costume this past year,” she says.Michael Streefland, vice president of marketing for Cyworld in the U.S., says the site’s creativity is what distinguishes it. “People take a lot more risks,” says Streefland. As a result, Cyworld is “more substantial and...
  • Theses Pieces

    Every year, tens of thousands of your classmates write thesis papers. Most are too long, some are weirdly specific, and a bunch are just plain boring. We grabbed a few, though, that seemed worth a second look."Pardon Martha: An Image Restoration Analysis of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia." Michaela Hermann, Stetson University"Heavy Metal Sub-Genres: A Content Analysis of Lyrical Themes." Paul Gibson, Stetson University"Re-reading Xena: Lesbian Subtext and the Exploitation of Women in Science Fiction Fantasy Television." Margaret Twigg, Stetson University"Breaking All The Rules: Queen Latifah's Representations of the Black Female Body In Film." Angelica ...
  • Ole South

    Who says that corsets and sabers are gone with the wind? Old South Weekend, a weeklong event hosted each spring by the brothers of Kappa Alpha, has recently raised eyebrows for some of its antebellum traditions.To celebrate their "southern heritage and strong historical background," some KA chapters host formals where guests go in full Civil War regalia, with the men in Confederate uniforms and the ladies in full "southern belle" hoop skirts. "Old South is the one formal that all sorority girls want to go to," according to one excited blogger on a greekchat.com forum. "Who wouldn't love to dress up like Scarlett O'Hara and have her size waist and Rhett Butler's shoes under their bed!!!" says another.However, some interpret the event less as a frothy costume party than as a relic of a darker era. KA members, though, were quick to defend themselves, citing the innocuous origins of the tradition in the 1930s when a brother was inspired by General Robert E. Lee's "honor, chivalry and...
  • Middle East meets West

    If reality TV has taught us anything, it’s that there’s something captivating about unlikely housemates. So what happens when 10 young women—four Jews, three Muslims, one Hindu, one Christian and one agnostic—move in together?In an effort to foster religious tolerance among Muslims and Jews, Danielle Josephs did just that. The Rutgers University senior founded the nation’s first Middle East Coexistence House this year. Josephs pitched the idea her sophomore year with the aim of making Jewish and Muslim students “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” The house has not only debuted successfully, but its model is also spreading to other campuses, including Michigan, Syracuse, Yale and Tennessee.The experience is not about holding hands and singing “Kumbaya,” says Josephs, who has lived in the house all year. The women, selected from on-campus religious organizations, don’t shy away from debate, a frequent occurrence during a required class on Middle East conflict resolution, or...
  • The Pill...for Men

    Men may soon kiss condoms goodbye and make space in their medicine cabinets for a new kind of pill... no, not the purple pill.Today the only methods available to men are withdrawal, condoms and vasectomy. But a fourth option is on the horizon.Contraceptive injections, pills and patches are in development and projected to be on the market by 2015.The Center for Research in Reproduction and Contraception at the University of Washington in Seattle is currently experimenting with an injected micro-capsule that gradually releases testosterone over three months, resulting in sperm levels dropping to zero. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center is testing a combination of progestin and androgen implants that would be safe, inexpensive and entirely reversible.Even more interestingly, the Shepherd Medical Company in Vancouver announced the development of an Intra Vas Device (IVD) that inserts, via a small hole in the scrotum, a tiny silicone plug that blocks the tube of sperm travel.But don’t despair...
  • Travel: Huge In Asia

    Worried about your plans for after college? Never fear—you can always become an Asian celebrity.Nate Houghteling (Harvard ’06) and Kai Hasson (Yale ’06) are attempting to do just that through their new website, HugeInAsia.com. The site, launched this past December, documents their travels in pursuit of fame in Southeast Asia through hilarious video logs, profiles and daily blogs.“After college, most of my friends went into either pornography or contract killing,” joked Houghteling. “I said to myself, I’m more responsible than this. So I decided to travel for a year.”The fellow travelers, friends since kindergarten, get 400-1500 hits a day on their site. According to Houghteling, “I’m hoping the site will be entertaining to a variety of people and that, of course, it’ll make us famous beyond measure.” After all, there’s not much else to do with degrees from Yale or Harvard.
  • Remember This: Tamagotchi 1996

    Little plastic toy eggs with three little buttons… oh, you know you were guilty of at least having one clipped on your backpack in elementary school.Dangling from a keychain, these mini-computers simulated the life cycle of a pet. Proud owners would care for their digital pets with the hope that all of those hearts on the happiness meter would stay filled. With its introduction of the Tamagotchi in 1996, Bandai launched a pop culture phenomenon.In addition to a rocking 40 million units sold worldwide, these digital pets flew off the shelves at a record rate of 15 per minute in the U.S. and Canada at their peak. And when schools started banning them as distractions, some mothers could be found cruising the supermarket aisles with a Tamagotchi strapped onto their purses.For those wishing to relive the days of virtual feeding and grooming, there’s a new generation of Tamagotchi, this time with infrared communication between Tamagotchis, special training for your pet’s future job and an...
  • Film Theory

    Ever wonder how much bullshit is in your average Hollywood blockbuster? At Current we certainly do, so we’re tracking down experts to find out. This issue we turned to Emma Dench, a visiting professor of classics and history at Harvard, to separate history from myth in “300.”Almost everything we think we know about classical Sparta is based on Athenian and Roman wet dreams and dubious political fantasies. So it’s unfair to be pedantic about the details of the Spartan king Leonidas’s valiant stand against the Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The ancients, who drooled over reenactments of Spartan whipping contests, would have enjoyed “300”s taut macho drama, with its tight leather underpants and “laconic” clichés at every turn. Frank Miller’s and Lynn Varley’s comic book, on which “300” is based, continues old traditions of reinventing the Spartans and Thermopylae, and both comic and movie introduce some quirks of their own. The Spartans allegedly institutionalized...
  • X Marks the Spot

    Around the same time that super-skinny celebrities were taking back Tinsel Town, another, starvation-free way to bare your bones emerged. Perhaps it was a fascination with the scruffy but so-sexy Jack Sparrow, but 2006 was marked as the year of skulls and crossbones.The tale begins in spring 2003, when Alexander McQueen models trod the runway brandishing skull-emblazoned scarves. Back then, only true cognoscenti could be spotted flaunting the poison-hazard imagery, but since it’s been branded on everything from Citizen of Humanity jeans to Ed Hardy shoes, and popped up in places like Minnie Driver’s wardrobe and Mischa Barton’s jewelry.The macabre motif is doomed. With the coming of spring, 2007 will be a year of more cheerful prints—70s-esque, animal and floral, to name a few. Perhaps heavy-metal fans will still stroll through America’s malls mocking death with their fashion choices. But for the rest of us, there’s always Halloween.
  • Box In a Box

    A few months ago, if you were to meet Melissa Lamb, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, you probably would not have thought of a box in a box. But fame has come suddenly for this YouTube prodigy, known to most of us as Bunny, the face behind the spoof of JT's wildly popular SNL skit, "Dick in a Box." In a Current interview, Lamb reveals a little bit about the girl behind the box. ...
  • Cuddle my world

    Maybe the first night of your freshman year was awkward. At least you didn't ask a stranger if you could caress his shoulder. But, according to REiD Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski, founders of Cuddle Party, that's your loss."We need more touch in our lives. Period," Mihalko says. Since 2004, his answer to this problem has come in the form of Cuddle Party, a company devoted to throwing self-described "affectionate play events for adults."This February, the University of Southern California invited them to join its Gender and Sexuality week. In Cuddle Party's campus debut, 20 students in pajamas transformed a regular dorm common room into the site of nuzzling, spooning, backrubs and the signature Cuddle Party puppy pile finale.The parties are facilitated by certified Cuddle Lifeguards who ensure consensual cuddling. Questions like, "Can I hold you now?" and, "May I touch you here?" are encouraged, and their website states clearly that erections should be embraced. ...
  • Cheatsheet: Habeas Corpus

    You think you learned the word in your fifth grade class, and it still comes up in your political science course, but when asked to give the meaning, you’re hard-pressed to come up with the words. Sound familiar? Georgetown University students thought so. When asked to define the term habeas corpus, the capital’s best were stumped.It’s the law that states you can’t hold a person for murder without the body…is that right? —Kathy (Senior)Oh, habeas corpus. That’s the Marine slogan…or is it the Navy? I don’t know, one of those. —Lena (Freshman)Habeas corpus…well, Abraham Lincoln suspended it during the Civil War. Oh man… I learned this in high school. It’s a law about how long you can hold someone in court, I think. Is that it? I can’t remember! —Arthur (Freshman)I have no idea, I never took Latin. Did you check Wikipedia? —Christine (Senior)Isn’t it, like, evidence? —J.C. (Grad Student)According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary: Any of several common-law writs issued to bring a...
  • Bored @

    We’ve all been there. Sitting in the library, not ready to start that paper. Why not invite a fellow classmate to have some library sex? Or share your darkest secrets? Thanks to boredat.net, students at 11 college libraries are able to do just that.Jonathan Pappas started the network in February 2006 during his senior year at Columbia University. The websites, which adopt the name of the particular school’s library, allow students to anonymously post thoughts and respond to others’.“What would students say if they could say whatever they wanted?” asks Pappas.Anything, it seems. Posts include everything from sexual fantasies to political opinions to one bored library-goer’s request for a response from any “gaysians.”The sites, which have since expanded to all the Ivies, Stanford, MIT, and NYU, boasted nearly 500,000 posts as of early March. No more pesky chat room pedophiles to ignore—just your horny classmates.
  • Classroom: Celeb Studies

    Looking for a class to fill those last three credits? Now, if you’re a student at George Washington University, you can learn how to write for the tabloids.Although pop culture classes have been taught for years, this course covers more than just the history of celebrities, even requiring students to cover and write about a red carpet event.But Linda Kramer Jennings, a former D.C. bureau chief of People Magazine who now teaches the 20-person course, insists that it is not a lesson in tabloid fluff, but, in fact, is worth those three credits. “The field of pop culture within sociology and American studies is very well-developed, and taken seriously,” says Kramer Jennings.Still, students can fill their cravings for gossip. Each week, the class reads articles from the likes of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, for example.So, might Celebritology 101 be coming to a university near you? Celeb-themed courses are being taught at Syracuse, Georgetown, and the University of Southern California...
  • Television: Back To The Real World

    Rehearsing with his Star Wars cover band, Nate Dern never expected that he would be making out with a blonde bombshell on national television weeks later. But after one 10-minute audition tape, a flight to L.A. and a final interview with Ashton Kutcher, this Harvard senior was doing just that.For eight weeks this past summer, Dern filmed “Beauty and the Geek,” CW’s reality TV series that pairs eight “beauties” with eight “geeks” and pits them against each other in competitions like assembling a computer for the beauties and speed dating for the geeks.Dern was approached in Harvard Square by casting agents who encouraged him to tryout.“They told me they thought I would be perfect right after I mentioned I was the lead singer of a Star Wars rock band,” says Dern.Dern and his partner, swimsuit model Cecille Gahr, navigated the competition well enough to make it into the final two, losing, in the end, to fellow Harvard geek, Alan “Scooter” Zackheim, and Playboy model Megan Hauserman.But...
  • John Banville Meets His Alter Ego

    I find him living—I was about to write holed up—in an anonymous apartment building just across the river from Temple Bar, that God’s little acre laughingly known as Dublin’s Latin Quarter, and such landmarks as the Clarence Hotel, owned by Bono. This is a version of modern-day, tigerish Ireland I would not have associated him with. The quay on which his apartment building stands is named Bachelor’s Walk, which conjures swaggering Regency rakes, and this is a bit better, though not quite it, either. Fog, coal grit, whiskey fumes and stale cigarette smoke, these are the atmospherics of Benjamin Black’s Dublin.He buzzes me in through the front door and I climb three silent flights of stairs. The silence tells me this is a childless establishment. Children do not figure in BB’s world except as victims, rejects, pawns in an appalling power-game. But immediately I have to make an adjustment: BB is not Quirke, the troubled and troubling hero of BB’s first novel, “Christine Falls.” For all...
  • Backstage: Space Pimpin' All Over the World

    "If you are a human being, then you will hear about The SpacePimps at some point," the band's flyer proclaims. "They are the best band ever to be placed on this fine planet they call earth." They may talk big, but Pittsburgh powerpop band the SpacePimps have a huge sound and packed resume to back it up. What's more, their remarkably level-headed vibe makes the bravado seem downright sweet. The young, accomplished ensemble rocks out around the world with an eclectic blend of 90s pop, old school punk, and sheer hard work.Born in May 2002 when the crew was still in high school—frontman and guitarist Rishi Bahl and drummer Jared Roscoe attended "a really strict private high school that did not give you room to breathe," says Bahl—the SpacePimps came together in the simplest of ways. Three guys (Bahl, Roscoe, and bassist and vocalist Brian Cain) discovered that they shared similar music tastes and the same longing for a creative outlet. But the band has long since made the enviable and...