Archive for October, 2007

The Skinny on Augustana

“Hipster-people in their teens to 20s who generally listen to indie rock, hang out in coffee shops, shop at the thrift store and talk about things like books, music, films and art.” Urban Dictionary well sums up the definition of a hipster, a group which could be spotted aplenty at the Augustana concert last Saturday.

Of course other social groups attended the performance, which seemed to be enjoyed by the audience. One man continued to request that the band play “Boston,” Augustana’s hit single. He also offered to have the lead singer’s next child, so I gather Augustana’s popularity is high.

“Boston” was the only song I was familiar with prior to the concert, but the band’s wide range of musical instruments and hipster clothing kept my interest. I’m still marveling at the anatomical miracle the lead singer performed in managing to fit into such tight jeans. How he gathered the momentum to jump onto a drum while wearing said jeans is a mystery.

The only qualms I have with the concert are that many of the band’s songs sound similar. Their repertoire is so soothing and mellow that I found it hard to slip into my usual “concert mood” of awkward swaying and attempts to sing along. Memorial Hall also prevents concert-goers from rubbing up against strangers and finding spilled beer on their shoes. Overall, I did enjoy the concert and I’m secretly thankful I didn’t have to wash my shoes.

By Kelsey Kusterer

Miss Sherlock Holmes

I’ll admit it-I love CSI. Watching Gil Grissom’s team of smart and attractive scientists sometimes makes me want to quit journalism school and join a forensics team. Nothing beats a good detective story, and I was pleased to find a book that shares CSI’s practical outlook on solving crimes.

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith combines humor and tragedy in a way that’s easy for readers to digest. The book is set in Botswana, Africa and centers around the up and coming detective agency formed by one of the locals. Precious Ramotswe, a Botswana native in her mid-thirties, is still reeling from the death of her father when she decides to become a detective. She starts out small with one secretary, a tiny office and a teapot. Soon Ramotswe becomes well-known by the local townspeople and officials, and she uses her wit and intuition to solve a variety of cases. Ramotswe becomes living proof that a lady can be just as successful a detective as Gil Grissom.

What I love most about this book is the objective way the author looks at his home country. He uses the characters to show that although Botswana is not perfect, it is still home. I have sometimes thought of Africa as a broken, dislocated country, but Smith forced me to reconsider my preconceived notions. He showed me that Africans can laugh in spite of their pain, and many Africans strive to keep their rich culture alive. I would recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy a mystery story with a splash of cultural reflection.

By Kelsey Kusterer

Marriage opponents lose out

The other day at work my boss said something I found intriguing. He commented that he pans on never getting married; he believes that marriage is an antiquated institution that was only suitable when the average life expectancy was 40 or 50. With today’s average American life expectancy being almost 77 years, he said that he just doesn’t see himself being able to hold a loyal romantic interest in one person for so long.

The media tends to promote the idea that divorce rates in America are typically increasing, with different studies showing rates of between 30 and 35 percent, so at first I bought into his ideas. But being the perennial optimist, and a person who has always planned on getting (and staying) married, I found myself quickly questioning what he had said. The result of my ponderings was the notion that instead of being old-fashioned, illogical, and overly hopeful, perhaps marriage is a tool of the process of natural selection.

Married couples tend to reproduce at rates much higher than unwed individuals. So, by being part of a stable, lasting union, any accumulated survival characteristics and wealth get passed on to a second generation, which makes them stronger than those they followed. Those who never wed prevent any profits they have made in their lifetime from being passed on, so those go to waste. In addition, studies show that children of parents who stay together have a much greater chance of marrying, and a smaller likelihood of divorce. In theory, the aforementioned characteristics and wealth would further accumulate and get passed on, resulting in an extremely powerful group of individuals.

This idea can also account for increasing divorce rates. Americans tend to be fairly intelligent, informed, and, particularly in the opinion of many foreigners, power-hungry. Many people likely recognize, at least subconsciously, that it is a societal benefit to be married. This pressure could cause some to marry a less- than- optimal person, therefore increasing the chances of that union ending in divorce.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that everyone has a perfect soul mate whom they should hold out for. I do believe that there are certain combinations of personalities and characteristics that will work together to create a lasting marriage. If people rush to get married to conform to a beneficial societal standard, there’s a good chance a divorce will follow. But if two people marry and are able to coexist and have children, they and their descendants will reap the benefits.

I’m definitely not an expert on marriage or any sort of sociologist. I just can’t accept the idea that marriage is a decreasingly viable custom. It makes no sense that people shouldn’t get married just because humans live longer now than we did 300 years ago. Being attached to one partner for life benefits all involved. Cynical individuals like my boss just increase the population of grumpy old men and spinsters, and they don’t improve the quality of anyone’s life.

By Annie Murawski

Who would want a boyfriend that they never get to see? Why would anyone stay in a relationship that primarily exists over the phone? What person in his right mind would date someone living in another state?

Unfortunately, I am that person. I have been in a long-distance relationship for about two years. I love my boyfriend, but our circumstances are far from ideal and not ones in which I ever thought I would find myself.

I was first attracted to my now-boyfriend in high school, but since he would be leaving for UNC-Chapel Hill as I started my senior year, we carefully avoided anything serious. I had always sworn against dating a college boy when I was in high school, but this attraction was evidently unstoppable.

By his 2nd semester, we were officially dating. UNC-CH had always been my college of choice, but before I was even accepted, my boyfriend’s band decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a record deal.

I planned on a break-up when he left for Nashville in May—dating someone in a different state was stupid! That didn’t happen. I then planned on breaking up when I started school at the end of summer—why would I want a boyfriend during college? That didn’t happen either.

Now, in my sophomore year, I’m in that same long-distance relationship. Naturally, I have lots of unwanted experience, and am the go-to girl for long-distance advice among my friends. Long-distance is tough, but not impossible.

Heed my advice to overcome obstacles of trust, money and communication, and your relationship can work no matter where your significant other lives.

Trust: if your trust department is lacking, end it. Trust is the foundation of long-distance relationships. If you fearfully question what your girlfriend might do when tipsy, you will have problems. Likewise, if you can’t handle a month without smooching, long-distance is not for you. Trust is not easy. It’s a day-to-day task. However, when your boyfriend is doing God-knows-what in a different area code, it’s a necessity.

Money: long-distance relationships require it. My boyfriend lives 500 miles away. Gas is expensive. I’m a poor college student. Not a good combination. I’ve thought about marrying a rich man so I can afford to see my boyfriend, but strangely, he has a problem with that. So until his band hits the big time, I save every penny I get. The key is frugality. Be easy on the Gumby’s, learn to love microwaveable noodles and shop the clearance racks—or go another month with no smooches!

Communication: get used to a cell phone on your ear. Never seeing each other is compensated by communication. Lots of it. And not just on the phone. Get creative. Play online games— seriously, it’s fun. Buy webcams. Send cards— guys, you may think this will emasculate you (as does my boyfriend), but Hallmark can easily make your girlfriend’s week (and maybe even get you a little something extra on the webcam. Wink, wink). This is 2007. There are about 1,000 different ways to communicate; in a long distance relationship, I suggest you use all 1000.

Long-distance relationships are not chosen. They require hard work, patience and determination. Nevertheless, for every argument over some Nashville skank posting on my boyfriend’s Facebook wall, every emotional “goodbye” and each expensive gallon of gas, I get cuddles and kisses that are more valuable simply because they are scarce.

By Casey Welch

Definitely not everything you need to know

So there’s this book. This book is called Everything You Need to Know About Latino History. This book is written by Himilce Novas. This book is not worth your time.

The author claims that you can learn everything you need to know about Latino history in this book, yet it is only 340 pages long; 340 pages that are only about four inches by seven inches, unlike a huge text book with a teeny tiny font. How can someone say that the entire history of Latino people can be condensed into 340 pages? Seriously? That is like me saying that I can put the entire history of Europe into a book half the size of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Yeah, right.

Not only is the book too small to be comprised of a culture’s entire history, but the way the history is described is dreadful. The book is divided into nine chapters, and each chapter is divided into forty or so segments. For a teacher to expect a student to read the book in its entirety and not fall asleep after about two pages is more unrealistic than expecting Rosie O’Donnell to shut up if you asked her to do so.

I have never read a more terrible book; rather, I have never read only half of a more terrible book. Novas needs to learn that history is more interesting than her words make it seem, and the professor that assigned my Sociology class to read this book needs to take it off the list next year, because I gained no knowledge from it, aside from the fact that there are famous Latinos in the world, and that I refuse to believe any student in there right mind would enjoy reading such a work.

Better luck next time, Novas. Though, actually, I hope there won’t be a next time.

By Jill Watral

Quotation Fixation

Okay, so we all have those moments when we’re totally bummed about something, whether it’s doing poorly on a test, breaking up with a significant other, or simply being unmotivated to touch the piles of work that’s due for tomorrow’s Spanish class. And if I’ve heard any of the ways that people deal with stress, frustration, or sadness, then I’ve heard them all. You name it: eating an entire bucket of candy in one day, running on a treadmill until your legs fall off, crying until mascara your is running so much that it stains the collar of your t-shirt, sleeping for 24 hours straight, and the list continues.

But I have a better idea for you: quotes. I’ve been collecting them since the eighth grade, and just recently, I started looking up a quote-of-the-day to put on my computer Post-It notes. To wake up in the morning and read an inspiring quote is an excellent way to start your day off on the right foot. A few of my favorite quote sites are The Quote Garden ( and Check them out! They’ve got a ton of categories and they’ll help lift your spirits, even when you think you’ve hit rock bottom.

Here are a few examples of the quotes that I’ve collected over the years that have helped me stay positive even in the most difficult of situations:

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” -Harvey Fierstein

“An apology is the super-glue of life. It can repair just about anything.” – Lynn Johnston

“There is always something for which to be thankful.” -Charles Dickens

Movie quotes and song lyrics are always great, too. Here are a few of my personal favorites that help get rid of negative energy:

“If I turn into another
dig me up from under what is covering
the better part of me. ” -Dig by Incubus

“But lately I’m beginning to find that when
I drive myself my light is found. ” Drive by Incubus (yes, I’m partial to Incubus…their lyrics are EXCELLENT)

“When all you got to keep is strong
Move along, move along like I know you do
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along just to make it through.” -Move Along by The All-American Rejects

So there are a few quotes to get you started on your adventure through the world of soulful words. Some are funny, some are serious, and some are just plain genius.

And next time you’re about to hit that giant back of peanut M&Ms, just remember this little piece of advice: eventually, candy makes you feel sick, which only adds to your misery, but quotes and words of wisdom will put you on the track to happiness and success.

By Jill Watral

Stephen Colbert: A comedian, not a writer

Every weeknight at 8:30 I watch The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. So I was really excited when Stephen Colbert’s book, I Am America (And So Can You) was released this week, which luckily coincided with the end of my midterms.

Anyone who has ever seen The Colbert Report knows that the show’s namesake is self-loving, intelligently sarcastic, and occasionally rude — I’d expect nothing else from his newly released hardback.

The book delivered, but in a disappointingly sporadic fashion. It seemed like Colbert authored the book by taking scripts from his show and transferring them to paragraph form. The result was occasionally amusing, but clearly would have been absolutely hysterical if it had instead been delivered by the man on his show.

While reading this book I was reminded of the movie Napolean Dynamite: the end product was funny at times, but made the audience feel like its production was infinitely more entertaining. Napolean Dynamite played as if written in a day by a few friends, whose brains were likely being affected by substances not naturally found in the body. Similarly, I could almost picture Colbert and his crew of comedians sitting around cackling while brainstorming for the book.

Unfortunately a modicum of this humor was lost in the transference from mouth to page, a fact that Colbert himself addresses in his introduction: “I am no fan of books and chances are, if you’re reading this, you and I share a healthy skepticism about the printed word.”

The reader of this book indeed develops a constantly aggrandizing sense of skepticism about the words printed by Colbert. Ironically, his comedic deliverance is less apt on the page, when it has likely been edited and re-edited, than it is on the screen, where at least some of his lines are invented and verbalized simultaneously.

Luckily, Colbert is naturally intelligent and humorous enough that even with its deficiencies, I Am America (And So Can You) is still definitely worth purchasing, reading, and recommending. It may be personal taste, but I find unbridled pride exceptionally humorous, particularly when it is partnered with intelligence and when its victim is the innumerable faults in America’s society.

By Annie Murawski

Heaven’s Gift to the College Student



When you’re passionate about something, you want to tell someone. Whether it’s your favorite movie, a favorite sports team, or a new song you like… you want to tell someone and encourage them to share in the experience. My passion is a little unusual, but it is also the best advice I can give a college student. My advice for success and organization is tiny and cheap, but unbelievably useful… Post-it Notes. You probably already have them on your desk or in your book bag, but I seriously doubt you are utilizing them to their full potential. So, to enhance the Post-it experiences of B&W’s readers, I will share some of my many uses for this magnificent invention: Every single day, a Post-it Note serves as my to do list. Flipping through my daily planner you will find Post-its on every page. In class, when I think about something I want to do later, I write it on my Post-it Note. Even if it’s just to whiten my teeth or look for something on Ebay. I write it down, and I actually complete all the tasks I plan to complete because they are written down. A Post-it is always used for my shopping list. It’s easy to keep with me throughout the day as I think of different things I need, and easy take to the grocery store. Of course, a Post-it is the perfect way to leave a roommate or friend a note. I constantly stick Post-it Note reminders on my desk of meetings and deadlines. You cannot forget anything when Post-its are involved… the neon square beckons you to glance and consequently recall what you need to do. When I am traveling somewhere new, I always write my directions on a Post-it and take the tiny piece of paper with me. Post-its are a guide. Think back to elementary school. Did you ever make the construction paper link chain to count down the days until Christmas? I do that all the time with Post-it Notes. If I’m looking forward to a school break or a visit from friends, I put the sticky pieces of paper all over my desk, and take one down each day until the day I’ve awaited finally arrives. I use the smaller sized Post-it notes as bookmarks when reading and as dividers when organizing a 3-ring binder of class notes. Lastly, Post-its are the perfect way to pass a note to a friend in class—small, easy to fold and secretly share, and it prevents you from having to tear off the corners of your notebook pages. These are just some of the ways that I, personally, use Post-it Notes. However, I am sure these glorious pieces of paper have hundreds of other uses. To make a long story short, I could not function without Post-it Notes… and I don’t think anyone else should.

Let there be light

Just when you thought puberty was difficult enough, imagine being told that it’s up to you to save the world, and that you only have five days to do it.

For 14-year-old Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) in the new movie “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising,” this is the case. An adaptation of Jane Cooper’s fantasy, “The Seeker” visually portrays her novel ideas. As the seventh son of a seventh son, Will has been named “the Seeker” of the Light forces in the world of good Light and evil Dark. He must find the six signs that have been hidden throughout time, or else Dark will take over the world as we know it. His challenge is of extraordinary difficulty, but his newly discovered powers, like mastery of light, extreme physical strength, and psychokinesis help him along the way.

Director David L. Cunningham does an exceptional job on his newest film, “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising.” The cinematography is fantastic, as the film emotionally and physically captures all aspects of lightness and darkness. Various camera shots from all angles within a 360-degree radius are generated and such visuals provide the audience with the true essence of the story.

Actor Alexander Ludwig is absolutely adorable, and his co-stars Ian McShane (Merriman Lyon) and Christopher Eccleston (The Rider) depict drama at its finest. “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising” is a great family film, and a perfect flick for all who enjoy the age-old story of good versus evil.

By Jill Watral

Pit Stop

Girl 1: “What’s Sunday night?”
Girl 2: “Canadian Thanksgiving…. I guess he’s really into Canadian bonding because he just inserts “eh” randomly [into conversation]. Even when it doesn’t make sense.”
Girl 1: “Is he actually Canadian?”
Girl 2: “Yeah, I guess he’s just really into bonding with other Canadians.”
Girl 1: “Well, let me know how it goes.”
Girl 2: “Yeah, I mean, it’s just like regular Thanksgiving, there’s turkey. There’ll be some maple syrup in there somewhere.”

Guy 1: “When you’re old, there’s so much possibility for fun. You can do and say whatever you want.”
Guy 2: “Yeah, you can be rude at family reunions.”
Guy 1: “You can be ‘old pervert man’ or ‘old senile man.’ You can get away with anything.”

By Kelsey Kusterer