June 29, 2009

Local Man Protests Our School

In a video posted a few days ago, a Poughkeepsie resident complains about an incident he had at Vassar and encourages others to protest against the school's policies, which he considers to be "discrimination against men."

"I'm going to be organizing protests against Vassar College," the man begins. Apparently, he was asked to leave Vassar property because he was riding his bicycle in an area where bikes were prohibited. There was a sign posted, but he claims that the sign didn't specify where the sign's jurisdiction ended.

The man calls Vassar's policies a "means to kick young men out because Vassar was traditionally a women's college." He believes that these policies were put in place to make the female students feel comfortable, but "the intention here is to exclude."

Perhaps this local man doesn't realize that Vassar is 40% male, or that we have miles of bike trails throughout our 1,000 acres. Sorry dude, but your protests won't go far.

Professors Write About Jackson's Influence

The day after Michael Jackson's tragic death, Vassar professors began taking to the internet to comment on the King of Pop's influence.

In an article for ForeignPolicy.com, English professor Hua Hsu writes about the "globalization" of Michael Jackson and the the superstar's international appeal.

"The reason Michael mattered -- continues to matter -- is because he was one of the first truly international stars. Not just transatlantic, not just big in Japan: He was global. The obvious effect was economic. Michael opened markets around the world; he made the world safe for MTV (after first making MTV safe for nonwhite performers, it should be said). He sold records and sold-out tours everywhere. He was, by most accounts, a gracious guest and a kind ambassador."

English professor Kiese Laymon also took to his Cold Drank blog to discuss Jackson and the performer's impact on his life, calling him "the greatest American worker of my life."

"When Mama and I weren’t jamming til all hours of the night to Off the Wall tape I got for Christmas, I was in my room listening to the tape alone. There, I could sing the songs the way I wanted and be weird and fascinated by the minimalist album cover of Mama’s Off the Wallalbum. The Off the Wall cover foreshadowed part of my future with Michael Jackson. Like a lot of folk, I’d be mesmerized by the work of Michael’s feet while also wondering about his face."

UPDATE: Professor Laymon's essay has been picked up by the popular feminist blog Feministing.

June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Has Died

As all of the different news sources began reporting on Michael Jackson's death this afternoon, we stayed glued to CNN, which waited on the announcement, with a glimmer of hope. Tragically, that station also eventually confirmed the King of Pop's death.

Mads was lucky enough to see Michael Jackson perform in 2001 at his 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden. The event consisted of tribute performances by other musicians, as well as performances by the Jackson 5 (reuniting for the first time since the late '80s) and Michael himself. Since that night, we can honestly say that he was our favorite performer and musician.

Today's news is numbing and devastating. Some might think it has little place on a college blog, but we have no doubt that Michael's music is a part of the Vassar College culture.

Rest in peace, Michael.

What We're Watching... New Video From Marina & The Diamonds

Marina and the Diamonds, who performed at Vassar last March, just released a brand new video for the song "I Am Not A Robot." Check it out!

June 24, 2009

Our Quidditch Rivals In Harry Potter Commercial?

A new commercial for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince features a girl fantasizing about playing quidditch, followed by the phrase, "Do you like Harry Potter as much as she does?"

The commercial is no doubt inspired by the collegiate quidditch trend. Further, one of the people in the commercial looks an awful lot like the Middlebury guy below.

Is it the Middlebury quidditch team in the commercial? Unfortunately, we can't seem to find the clip online anywhere...

UPDATE: We pretty much have confirmation that it is in fact Middlebury's quidditch team in the commercial. After extensive searching, we found some mention of a Middlebury vs. Emerson quidditch match that was filmed for MTV in Brooklyn last Saturday. The pictures of the match show the top-hatted guy in the rain, which corresponds to the commercial. Also, we just found this on an Emerson student's LiveJournal:

"basically, mtv wants to shoot a quidditch match as a promo for the new harry potter movie, and they needed middlebury to play another college team for the promo. they chose my school (emerson college), and some of my friends are gonna be in the promo!"

This is further confirmed by a Harry Potter fan group's Twitter and The Brooklyn Paper.

mtvU previously featured the Middelbury quidditch team in a TV spot in 2008.

Our team is ranked #2 in the league. Why didn't they ask us?!

UPDATE #2: Yes! Someone found the clip! Check it out here.

June 22, 2009

Times Covers Summer At Vassar

For the second time in just three days, Vassar has a mention in the New York Times. An article in today's paper describes how the poor economy is affecting summer programs at schools like Vassar.

According to the article, "in recent years, empty campuses have been recognized as potential cash cows, and colleges have tried to fill those once-sleepy weeks with enrichment workshops, for-credit courses, day camps, conferences, private parties and film shoots."

Vassar, however, is the exception. "For years, Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has held or run more than 20 athletic, cultural and academic programs and camps in summer," says the Times. "This year, a half-dozen have folded, citing falling enrollments." The article continues to state that Vassar will be earning up to $100,000 less this summer.

Hopefully the programs will at least stay open this summer.

Happy Birthday, Meryl!

Meryl Streep '71 turns 60 today! She was last spotted at this year's Commencement wearing a pair of ViCE sunglasses.

The Film Experience blog has posted 60 ways to celebrate the alumna's birthday. Our favorite ways from their list: "Fake a new accent every hour," "be highly quotable," and "age even more spectacularly than a good wine." Check out their full list, plus a "retrospective celebration" video. (Wow, they're taking her birthday a little too seriously.)

Image via People.

June 21, 2009

Daisy Chain In New York Times

Vassar got a brief mention in yesterday's New York Times, which featured a picture of the Daisy Chain for the 1909 graduation.


And just for fun, the Daisy Chain one hundred years later:


June 18, 2009

Vassar DJs To Perform For Neon Gold

In the past, Vassar has hosted such Neon Gold performers as Passion Pit and Marina and the Diamonds. Now, it looks like the record company is giving back by inviting some current and former Vassar student DJs to perform at an upcoming event.

This Saturday, June 20th, DJs Olmec and Friends with Benefits will be playing the Neon Gold party at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The night will also feature bands The Maccabees, Miike Snow, and Hatcham Social, as well as DJs Body Language and Shuttle.

While we're sure you all know who Olmec is, you may remember Friends with Benefits (Jeremy Robinson-Leon '07 and Michael Chico '05) from playing the last few Halloween parties.

June 16, 2009

Mads Goes To Bonnaroo!

We got back on Monday morning from a filthy yet highly satisfying couple of days at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. We saw lots of Vassar people there, plus a lot of bands that have played Vassar in the past. Below are the highlights, lowlights, and everything in between.

Thursday: Went to the comedy tent to see Janeane Garofalo, who ended up being a complete disappointment. She ended her set early saying, "I'll stop torturing you guys." Pete Holmes, on the other hand, was absolutely hysterical. On the music coming from a nearby tent, Holmes said: "It's like we're in my apartment trying to watch a DVD and the people next door are having a really loud party. It sounds pretty good, base-wise." Eventually, Passion Pit started playing next door and we immediately left the comedy tent. We were surprised to see such a huge turn out for them, and most people seemed to know the words to their songs. Back in December we said to keep an eye on Passion Pit, and like Vampire Weekend, they have definitely blown up since playing Vassar. Passion Pit is quickly becoming our favorite band of the summer. Listen to: "Make Light," "Little Secrets," "Moth's Wings," and of course "Sleepyhead."

Friday: Our first full day of music and we tried to hit as many stages and tents as possible. We started the day with Gomez, which turned out to be slightly disappointing. Next were two amazing back to back shows by St. Vincent and Santigold. We had never heard any of St. Vincent's music, just the buzz around her, and she definitely lived up to all of the hype. Actually, we were expecting her to be much more mellow, but she rocked out. Listen to: "Now, Now" from 2007's Marry Me. After St. Vincent, we squeezed our way into the front row for Santigold. Despite the subwoofers in front of us nearly destroying our eardrums, the experience was incredible. There were some technical difficulties at one point, which caused her to stop her band mid-song and tell the sound guys to figure out the problem. She ended her set with "Creator" and pulled up a few lucky audience members. Listen to: "L.E.S. Artistes," "Creator," "Brooklyn Go Hard."


After Santigold, we rushed out to see the very end of Grizzly Bear. They were one of the more buzzed-about bands playing this year, but unfortunately we didn't get to see very much of them. After that we stopped by TV on the Radio, which surprisingly wasn't very good, before heading over to the Beastie Boys. We didn't stay there very long either, wanting to conserve our energy for Crystal Castles and Girl Talk later that night. Crystal Castles was pretty disappointing, but Girl Talk was quite the experience. Within the first few minutes of his set, at least a hundred people (including us!) had climbed over the barricades and joined him on stage. Among the people on stage were people dressed as robots, Chewbacca, and a green man.


Saturday: Another very full day. Caught Chairlift and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the smaller and more intimate Sonic Stage. Chairlift turnd out to be one of our favorite bands of the festival. You may know their song "Bruises" from the iPod commercial. Next was Bon Iver, who also lived up to all of the hype, followed by Jenny Lewis (disappointing) and Of Montreal (crazy and awesomely theatrical). After that we headed over early to the main stage to get a good spot for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. We ended up getting in the eighth row and came close to literally touching the Boss when he kept coming over to our section. We nearly lost it when he did "Born to Run." After his three hour set we took a break before heading over to MGMT.

An interesting thing happened at MGMT. All of the hippies and hipsters from the other shows were replaced by drunken Greek lifers. MGMT kind of went the Dylan route and played mostly only new songs and new versions of their old ones. The audience wasn't really into this, and became preoccupied when thousands of glow sticks came flying from the back of the tent.

Sunday: Saw a little bit of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and Neko Case before calling it a day. We also watched Snoop Dogg from afar (hilarious!) and the beginning of Phish. The day's highlight must have been when Snoop Dogg asked the crowd, "Y'all ready for mutha fuckin' Phish?"

As if that all wasn't enough, Jack White of the White Stripes and the Raconteurs was on our flight home! We said hey and he was really friendly.

Check back from videos from some of the concerts mentioned above. Anyone else have an awesome Bonnaroo experience? Email us!

New Dean Announced

An all-campus email sent a few days ago announced that mathematics professor Benjamin Lotto will be the new Acting Dean of Freshmen

Professor Lotto is taking the place of Joanne Long, who was recently named the new Dean of Studies.

June 4, 2009

Vassar Creates Robot To Take Over The World

...Don't laugh just yet. One blogger actually believes this is the end of the human race as we know it.

Articles about Vassar professor John Long creating a new type of robot have been popping up all over the Internets recently, and we finally decided to see what all the fuss is about.

Professor Long's special robot was designed to act out prehistoric predator-prey relationships and study evolution. Long and his students alter the robot's tail so that it can avoid becoming prey to the predator robot. This predator robot is "autonomous."

"We're applying selection just like natural selection," Professor Long told Yahoo News.

Meanwhile, one skeptical (and cynical) blogger writes that the end is near and "these so-called geniuses employed within the realm of academia are totally oblivious to their own evil deeds."

This brings only one thing to mind. As Dr. Ian Malcolm says, "The lack of humility before nature that's being displayed here, uh... staggers me."

Update: Answers in Genesis, a Christian blog that finds answers to science in the book of Genesis, says this about the robots: "Long and his students are intelligent agents who intentionally design and redesign the robot anatomy, much closer to artificial selection than natural selection. Robots are a terrific reminder that intelligent design explains complex structures at least as well as—and usually far better than—evolutionary ideas.

Vassar Celeb On Hipster Blog? Could It Be?

A reader just sent us this picture from the blog Look At This Fucking Hipster. We won't name names, but that does look an awful lot like a certain Vassar student...

Could it be?

Construction Begins On Joss

A reader staying on campus this summer just sent us these pictures of the new Joss construction project.

Sources a few months ago told us that all major building projects (like the demolition of Mudd) would be put on hold due to the financial crisis, so we're guessing that this project won't be anything major. We've heard rumblings about work being done on the roof, although this is unconfirmed.

June 3, 2009

What We're Reading


The New York Times featured an article a few days ago on this year's commencement speeches.

"The class of 2009 — God and Geithner help them — is graduating into an unusually brutal economy, which means that the commencement speakers called upon to wish these students well confront an unusually difficult challenge," the Times read. The article continues to call this year's speeches "some of the most strenuous, creative optimism ever fashioned."

Speakers like Obama (Notre Dame) and Biden (Syracuse) spoke about privilege and responsibility, while Rahm Emanuel (GW and Sarah Lawrence) and Ellen DeGeneres (Tulane) spoke about perseverance. Hillary Clinton (Barnard), on the other hand, spoke about how social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be used to unite the world.

No mention of Matthew Spitzer or Vassar, unfortunately.

Check out the full article here.

Image via Washington Post.

Excuse Our Appearance

Please excuse our appearance this week and throughout the summer as we try new ways to make the blog the best it can be. We'll be making some changes in layout, as well as content.

Continue to check back. Updates soon!

Mads