Category: Features

The Muse: Our favorite playlists — Sarah Kirkpatrick

By Sarah Kirkpatrick, Editor-In-Chief
@Kirkpatrick_SJ

My entire life has extremely music-rich. There was a constant supply of classic rock playing as my mom drove me around as a child. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, grunge was part of the culture (I still wear flannel and beanies quite frequently, prompting plenty of reactions from my staff such as “God, Sarah, you’re SO Seattle.”).

I sang in school and church choirs, so I was exposed to a lot of gospel and soulful songs that way. I went through my rebellious Linkin Park/My Chemical Romance/Three Days Grace phase in middle school, and found myself in a brief popular music phase in high school before eventually becoming more well-rounded.

Today, I’m very much into the indie pop and indie rock scene, constantly scouring underground music blogs for new sounds and new emotions, anything that sparks my interest. I don’t return to the songs of my childhood too often, but I believe my current musical interests are shaped from the constant rock and soul to which I was exposed as a kid.

So, tasked with listing my favorite songs, I tried my best — with a few exceptions — to look at the songs that serve as the inspirations or in some way have raw connections to my present-day tastes. From spooky synths to hell-yeah-don’t-need-no-man powerful vocals, to depressing acoustics and flannel-wearing, long-haired rockers, these are the songs that in some way relate back to what I listen to now.

And, of course, Kanye. Because obviously.

The Muse: Our favorite playlists — Ross Hsu

By Ross Hsu, Staff Writer

The way I see it, everyone gets their music taste from his or her parents. I’ve liked a ton of different bands in my time, and most of them have lost my attention as I’ve found new loves. The ones that stay around, though, are the ones that remind me of being a kid — of leaning against the bookcase that held my mom’s old stereo, feeling the voices of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Mike Love and Paul Simon reverberate in my skull.

Raised on the weirdest selection of new wave, early punk, classic rock and folk, I grew up appreciating songs that either defied their genre or lampooned it. This playlist, made in honor of our music issue, is a testament to that. Traversing my tastes from childhood to now, it contains as many of my dirty new wave guilty pleasures as it does my modern electro trash guilty pleasures. I think most of my favorite songs are guilty pleasures.

Listen to this playlist of my favorite songs! It’s an eclectic mix of blues, electronic, new wave, early R&B, modern indie rock, and whatever M.I.A. is. If ever you’ve found yourself wondering what The FreeP’s music subhead listens to in his free time, now is your chance!

Hint: never trust any group of music that calls itself “eclectic.” Unless of course, you’re been given this information by an astute and informed scholar of the popular arts such as myself.

straightens tasteful tie and understated monocle.

Spotlight: The BU Castle

By Stacy Schoonover, Staff Writer
@stacyscootover

BU has it's own castle, jealous yet BC?/ PHOTO VIA http://www.bu.edu/castle.

BU’s castle is also home to the Pub where you can attempt the Knight’s Quest./ PHOTO VIA http://www.bu.edu/castle.

Well, after attending Boston University for seven months I finally learned that we have a castle… a legit castle.

Located at 225 Bay State Road, this Tudor revival mansion is used mainly for special events, wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners and is also home to the infamous BU Pub.

On the first floor you can find a library, dining room, Great Hall and a music room. It has a capacity of 125 people for a standing reception, and can seat 92 for a dinner.

The construction of the castle was completed in 1915, and after the death of the owner BU acquired it in 1939. Until 1967 the castle housed the president of Boston University, but it became a primary spot for events instead.

Alongside the beautiful early Renaissance architecture, a breathtaking view of the Charles River makes the visit worth it. The castle has select open hours, though they vary due to room rentals. A call ahead would be smart to guarantee a successful visit.

The BU Pub is located in the lower level, for the 21+ crowd. With a long list of signature sandwiches and an old-world Boston pub style, it’s definitely a must see. It’s the only university-operated establishment on campus that serves alcoholic beverages.

Pub-goers can also participate in a Knight’s Quest where participants must drink 50 types of beer. Upon completion, participants get a special mug to use while in the pub and also become knighted in a ceremony.

So seniors, if you haven’t been knighted at the pub or seen the beautiful views of the river, definitely add a visit to the castle on your to do list before graduation. It’s another place that makes BU so special and you don’t want to miss it!

Science Tuesday: Are only the foolish fooled?

By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
@sanahfaroke

April Fools’ is the day where we all have to be on a constant look-out for the liars, the cheats and the tricksters (and apparently I speak like a 90-year-old woman). Sometimes I forget that naivety can be a little like being foolish. In a previous post, I mentioned that I’m the worst at lying. Well, I’m also really bad at picking up when people lie to me.

Pranks? I get scared every time. That joke about gullible not being in the dictionary? Yeah, I fell for that one too. Here’s the thing to mull over on April Fools’ — are we easily tricked by people, or do we have a knack for tricking ourselves?

It’s possible that we could be eating too many chicken sandwiches at Chick-Fil-A or slurping too many strawberry milkshakes from Johnny Rockets, but according to a study at Oxford University, eating lots of high-fattening food can hurt our cognitive skills. I guess we’re not all that bright, are we?

The researchers studied rats, feeding them at first a low-fat diet and tested their ability to make it through a maze. After fattening them up for about nine days on a high-fat diet, researchers found that the rats were making more mistakes than usual. So, I guess spring isn’t the only reason to be hitting the gym and eating right. A healthy diet makes for a healthy brain.

So what about when we’re voluntarily being, well, dumb?

We’re at such a young age, and even though no one is tricking us into sticking a tongue to a frozen flagpole, it doesn’t mean we don’t do reckless things. According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, teens and young adults can’t help but overestimate the good that can come, with little regard for the negative risk. Mulling over spring break, eh? Yeah, aren’t we all.

And while we can’t help being reckless, more often than not, we tend to fool ourselves. In a study conducted by Louisa Egan, Laurie Santos and Paul Bloom at Yale University, they compared similar behaviors in self-deception in capuchin monkeys with that of 4-year-old children.

They found that when the monkeys were presented with colored M&Ms they chose one color over another, even though all M&Ms taste like a wonderful piece of chocolate heaven. The same scenario happened with children when stickers were used. So it didn’t really matter which choice they made, it was just about coming up with a solution for which one they picked and justifying it, and in a sense, fooling themselves. Come on, we’ve all done it with shoes, handbags, (ehem) boyfriends, so why not M&Ms?

So what has April Fools’ taught us? Perhaps it’s that we fool ourselves more on the daily than when other people try to trick us on this silly holiday. What more could we want than self-assurance from our own self-deception? It’s kind of like saying you’ll eat a salad for lunch, but really, in an hour, you know you’ll be trudging to the kitchen for some left over Pad Thai. So who’s the fool now? Eh, it’s still kind of us.

 

In Biz: The “pink princess problem” and why it’s not

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

Scrolling through the internet, every week or so I see a different thought piece on marketing toys for girls (I’m looking at you, Slate).

It all started about a year ago with the kickstarter campaign for GoldieBlox, a cute toy which supposedly will harbor engineering and creative problem-solving skills in your daughter. Cute idea and a pretty stellar ad, if I say so myself. But people aren’t mad not that the toy isn’t good, even if the Amazon reviews say as much, they’re mad because it’s pink.

Seriously, it’s almost April 2014, and on Sunday Slate posted yet another think piece on the “pink princess problem.”

The author, Allison Benedikt, says: “What is it with you moms of girls? I have never met a single one of you who isn’t tortured about pink and princesses. It is a given that if you are a mildly feminist mother (or father, but more mother), you are going to do everything within your power to steer your daughters away from anything that has the stink of “girly” on it. I shudder to think how many pink ruffled onesies, gifts from less enlightened relatives and sexist friends, have gone unworn because America’s feminist mothers could not stand to dress their 3-week-olds in the color of oppression.”

You know what I want to know? Why are we stressing about colors? Why is it kids products that set people off? Since when does my vast collection of Barbies (which no, you can’t give away Mom) mean I hate women?

Marketing isn’t perfect for any demographic. If the internet is to be believed, models are too skinny, men are too muscled, advertising is misogynistic and Obamacare is a scam. But I take the internet with a grain of salt. Advertisers are just doing their jobs. Studies have shown that little girls like princesses and pink and not worms.

Let’s stop fighting. If you have a brain, marketing doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all of your tastes. And please, Slate, stop writing about colors and how they oppress little girls who don’t know what the phrase “gender binary” means.

The Muse: The return of Jay Electronica

By Brandon C. Kesselly, Staff Writer
@BCKesso

Is Jay Electronica back for good?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Abdul Aziz

Is Jay Electronica back for good?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Abdul Aziz

In 2007, the realm of hip-hop was introduced to someone spectacular. A man calling himself Jay Electronica released “Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)“, a 15 minute song in which he rapped continuously over Jon Brion’s soundtrack to “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. It was, to put it short, a breath of fresh air to see someone unique to the genre with a poetic approach, incredible rhyme scheme and a willingness to take risks with his projects.

In 2008, he began working with legendary producer Just Blaze (Jay Z’s “Public Service Announcement,” T.I.’s “Live Your Life”) to work on his first two singles: “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit C”. Both tracks were met with critical acclaim, and everyone was poised for more. By 2010, he was signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation and announced his debut studio album “Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn)”.

But it never happened.

It has been many years since a full project from Jay Electronica has been released. He was featured on a few Roc Nation mixtapes with Jay Z and J. Cole in 2010 and 2011, with new songs like “The Ghost of Christopher Wallace” featuring Diddy and “Shiny Suit Theory” featuring Jay Z. In 2012, he famously tweeted a picture of the album’s track list and announced that it was complete, and that Jay Z was looking for a single from the album for promotional purposes. Alas, nothing came about, and the album was again delayed.

It was not until 2013 that Jay Electronica became a more prominent artist. He made guest appearances on five different songs, collaborating with the likes of Mac Miller, The Bullitts, Rapsody and, most notably – with Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar for “Control” (in which Lamar’s verse names Electronica as one of his competitors). Now, the stage was set for his return and he needed a strong comeback.

On Sunday, a new song surfaced: a remix of “We Made It” by Soulja Boy and Drake. This remix featured the likes of Jay Electronica and Jay Z. In the song, the two make numerous references to slavery and the recent Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. This was the second song featuring Jay Electronica to be released in a month, following “better in tune w the infinite” featuring LaTonya Givens.

“We Made It” has been generating a lot of controversy over Jay Z’s comments toward Drake, but the bigger buzz right now is what does this mean for Jay Electronica? Is it finally his turn? Will “Act II” be released this year? Keep your eyes and ears peeled!

Science Tuesday: Pee in my pool and you’ll die (literally)

By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
@sanahfaroke

Spring has finally revealed itself to Boston (well sort of). I can only think of all the fun things I’ll do once it really becomes warm out. I’ll wear flip-flops and I’ll hide under beach umbrellas, and the pool will become my second home.

As a kid, I thought I could be a mermaid, if I really wanted to, so I did what any nerdy kid would have done — I adapted. I got a pair of swimming flippers, wore blue, shiny swimsuits,  goggles and earplugs. Yep, I was that weird, nerdy Indian chubster who thought she was a fish. So when I said I lived in the pool, I mean it, especially during the hot summer months. My cousins and I stayed in the pool for hours and never got out, except when we were hungry. And I’m trying to beat around the bush, but (here it goes) I know we all probably just peed in the pool between snack times. What was the harm, right? We’re just kids playing ‘Colors’ and ‘Silent Pass’ and ‘Spider’ and we don’t have time to waste to get out of the pool and go the bathroom. The world was our oyster, so what did the pool become? Well, it was the deep ocean and a playground and the Seven Seas where we sailed in a ship, but it also became a potty.

My logic was, ‘Well, the chlorine will kill all the bacteria anyway,’ but according to a study published in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers from China Agricultural University and Purdue University found that when uric acid hits the chlorinated pool, it creates two chemical byproducts: cyanogen chloride and thrichloramine.

Okay, big science words that mean nothing to the average person, but according to Discover, when these chemicals are inhaled, they can affect organs like the lungs, heart and the central nervous system. It turns out, we were all swimming in a toxic waste. And I say ‘we’ because I know you all peed in the pool at least once as a kid, so don’t even play.

In the study, researchers looked at the different levels of cyanogen chloride and trichloramine in correlation to the ratio of the precursors, the pH and the temperature of the water, io9 reports. They also looked into swimming pools that already had these two chemicals and found that when they added more uric acid, the cyanogen chloride increased as well, while trichloramine varied in increase levels.

So, I’m thinking that I’m going to avoid all public pools from now on, but I don’t think I can avoid the seashore. There are all kinds of animals living in the ocean anyway doing God knows what. If they can survive, so can I. After all, I’m a mermaid, remember? I’ll adapt, just not in the kiddie pool.

In Biz: Zipcar rolls out 18+ program for college students

Vitalik Schafer, Staff Writer
@Vitalgrodno

Most college-aged students can now rent a Zipcar./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user AJ Leon

Most college-aged students can now rent a Zipcar./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user AJ Leon

Freshmen missing their cars have another option when it comes to getting around. If you weren’t aware, Zipcar has lowered its age minimum to 18.

The program, which used to require members to be 21 or older, now accepts the majority of college students. Starting at $8 an hour, members can drive anywhere. Another great perk offered is the free 180 miles per day, without having to pay for gas. This seems like a bit of a gamble considering that college students can be somewhat irresponsible.

Zipcar spokeswoman Lindsay Wester said Zipcar wanted to provide on demand cars for campuses and students that especially needed them, which was the 18 and older crowd. To make sure that those signing up are safe drivers, Zipcar performs extensive driving record checks. The company also saw rolling out the 18 and up program at Boston University as an opportunity for everyone to have a car on a campus, especially where just 2 percent of students have a car on campus.

In a student’s college experience, it is likely that they may want to travel where the T does not go or where taking the taxi would not be an affordable option. Zipcar offers students this convenience of “wheels when you want them” with a subsidized application fee of $15 to fit that college budget.

Avis, the parent group of Zipcar, has heavily invested into BU, and has a strong relationship with the sustainability organization on campus. The goal is for students to transition into full time Zipcar users after college. Currently, there are 12 cars on campus, and the goal is to have a car for every 50 students on campus. As enrollment increases, demand will be met with new vehicles. Since the program was launched, three new spots have been added in two locations on the Boston University campus.

Another unique feature of Zipcar is its Students With Drive program. Zipcar awarded a total of $300,000 in driving grants for the 2013/2014 academic year. Through the program, students who might not be able to otherwise can get access to transportation, and in return Zipcar gets a boost in publicity and demand.

Zipcar’s rapid success in the car rental market is bound to continue to increase as the service provides an affordable and convenient way to rent cars. Car sharing is the future, as access to these vehicles by the younger generation will make Zipcar a household name in years to come. Many people may even see that using a car sharing service like Zipcar is much more affordable than owning a car.

The Muse: G I R L is Pharrell Williams’ triumphant return

By Brandon C. Kesselly, Staff Writer
@BCKesso

Have you seen “Despicable Me“? How about “Despicable Me 2“? Have you heard the soundtrack from both movies, especially that upbeat song “Happy” from the sequel? How about Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”? Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself to Dance”?

Chances are you’ve heard at least one of these songs and have become quite well acquainted with the man on the microphone (or the producer, in the case of “Blurred Lines”), Pharrell Williams.

What you may not know is that Williams has been around producing some of our favorite songs for over a decade. As member of the dynamic production duo The Neptunes, the Virginia native and his longtime collaborator Chad Hugo have produced for many acts in the past, landing numerous Billboard Hot 100 hits. To name a few:

Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You” and “Señorita”

Britney Spears’s “I’m a Slave 4 U”

Clipse’s “Grindin’”

Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”

Kelis’ “Milkshake”

Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”

And that’s just before 2005!

With such a long list of smash hits for others under his belt, one would think that Williams’ Midas touch would translate well into his own music, no? Unfortunately, his first solo LP, “In My Mind” (2006) did not do him justice and he had a very limited fan base. He was not a household name – yet.

After a stellar 2013 in which he won multiple Grammy awards and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, on March 3, 2014 Williams released his sophomore album effort G I R L.

It might sound crazy what I’m about to say”, but this album is downright funky.

Somewhere between Prince and James Brown, Williams has crafted a unique mixture of modern pop and dance music fully inspired by disco themes as well as modern cinema strings, electronica and hip-hop. G I R L pays interesting attention to detail production-wise, with each instrumental complementing Williams’ vocals as well as those of his collaborators.

Lyrically, G I R L focuses a lot on attraction, love and sex. The opener “Marilyn Monroe” mixes strings with a smooth bass line as Williams croons and grooves over the beat in an homage to beautiful ladies everywhere. “Brand New” finds him in a duet with Justin Timberlake as the two sing over horns and snares about how they feel young again when they are in love.

One of G I R L’s high points, “Hunter”, is told from a female perspective, detailing an amorous woman’s thoughts as she is “up all night to get lucky.”  “Come Get It Bae”— featuring Miley Cyrus — is a playful track with a chorus revolving around a motorcycle metaphor and the Daft Punk collaboration “Gust of Wind” is a mid-tempo dance number that sounds like a Random Access Memories bonus track.

The rhythmic chants and African-influenced drums in “Lost Queen” make it a welcome ballad in the mix. Amidst this variety of instruments and synths, “Happy” sits in the center of the track list. Toward the end of G I R L, Williams and Alicia Keys sing a mellow duet in “Know Who You Are”. “It Girl” closes out the album on a high note, with mid-tempo drums, bass guitar and falsetto.

Williams’ ear for sound is incredible and, when combined with his unique singing voice, makes G I R L a fun sonic journey from start to finish. While drastically different from his previous efforts, he has proven quite capable of crafting an enjoyable pop album while remaining a top producer from the realm of urban music.

Science Tuesday: Explore the Universe with Neil deGrasse Tyson

By Chris Lisinski, Staff Writer
@chrislisinski

Neil deGrasse Tyson wants you to join him on an adventure through time and space. Strange as that may sound, you should accept.

He is not an astronaut himself, nor is he extending a creepy, Wonka-esque invitation; no, Tyson wants to show you all about the world around you in the form of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

You absolutely, positively should accept his invitation, because the show will instill you with the kind of wonder many of us have not felt since fifth-grade field trips to the planetarium.

Curiosity and intrigue are key characteristics of our status as human beings, and they have brought us every major accomplishment from irrigation to penicillin to leaving footprints on the moon.

It is through this desire to learn more that we expand and refine ourselves as a civilization.

At a time when science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs are so crucial (and perhaps even more available than other fields), “Cosmos” plays the important role of making us care about science in our everyday lives. It validates wondering about the universe as a valid use of free time, not just something for nerds with extra-thick glasses.

The show matters, and it is a bit surprising to see it air first on FOX’s main channel itself rather than exclusively on National Geographic. Hopefully, none of the scientific content will be watered down (and hopefully evolution will not be skipped over), but given the decline of the Discovery Channel, we must be extremely thankful.

Students may have missed the first two episodes while on vacation, but fret not! You can watch it online for free and legally! FOX has taken the extra step of making it available for the next month-and-a-half or so on the show’s website.

And it’s an absolutely beautiful show. The original with Carl Sagan will always hold a dear place in my heart, but “Cosmos” is one of the few pieces of media that may be better as an HD reboot full of zany CGI. You will feel that you are genuinely transported across the universe thanks to the amazing visual effects.

It may have some shortcomings, especially when it occasionally skips over the key details of scientific theories, but regardless, there is one conclusion: you should watch “Cosmos.”

Check out the trailer below: