First-Years Win 2016 Battle of The Classes Amid Fierce Competition

First-years strike a pose during the ’80s-inspired performance.
Photo: Janelle Moore

Author: Diana Rogers

This year’s Battle of the Classes wrapped up last Friday, with the class of 2020 earning the first-place title.

All week, Chatham’s classes rounded up their school spirit to compete in BOTC, and they did not disappoint. From the volleyball tournament to the mystery event, students were ready to fight for their bragging rights.

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Chatham’s Men Weigh In On Fall Fashion Trends

Author: Angela Billanti

Chatham University’s male students do not agree with this fall’s fashion trends, bomber jackets and athletic wear, even though a spokesperson from H&M confirms these two fads are in this fall.

According to Jess Johns, men’s department manager at H&M Monroeville, these two trends are effortless for young male students to achieve if they want to be fashionable and functional at the same time.  “Definitely the athletic wear, because you can race across campus really fast,” Johns said when referring to practical trends.  Layering pieces such as sweatshirts with a bomber jacket are good for walking outside on campus.

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Emotions Tense At “We Are Steubenville” Event In Eddy Theater

Author: Atiya Irvin-Mitchell

On October 6, “Steubenville,” a theatrical performance based on the 2012 rape case, was performed in Eddy Theatre. After opening remarks by Heather Black, Director of Student Affairs and Residence Life, who expressed her desire to create a culture of reporting, the lights dimmed and the audience was taken back in time. The performance started with Alex Spieth, the narrator, telling the audience about her on-stage persona’s younger-self’s desire to experience her first kiss, and then introduced the audience to another young girl.

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Artists and Friends Return to Chatham for Alumna’s Art Exhibition

Attendees and VIPs at the Gialamas exhibition. Artist Fran Gialamas is in red; her subject Lesley Wells is in stripes.
Photo: Angela Billanti

Author: Angela Billanti


Artist and alumna Fran Gialamas returned to Chatham University in September to present her art exhibition, “The Chronicles of a Chatham Art Major.”

The collection derives from her 1958 solo exhibition proposed by her art professor Charles Le Clair.  “I took it very seriously and it was considered a professional exhibit at that time, even though I was a student,” Gialamas said.

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Off the Beaten Page: “My Name is Lucy Barton” brings all types of love to the table

What happens when a simple procedure suddenly opens up a well of information you never wanted to confront? Just that happens in Elizabeth Strout’s newest novel, “My Name is Lucy Barton,” where a woman enters the hospital for a simple appendectomy and upon the arrival of her mother, must recognize some of the traumatic experiences that occurred in the past. The novel is written in a style similar to Strout’s other pieces, especially “Olive Kitteridge,” in the way that the narrator is likable and relatable, but at the same time is a mythical being of love and compassion.

The narrator and namesake, Lucy Barton, is a kind and gentle woman who essentially loves every person she meets. A married mother of two, she embodies the characteristics of the traditional nurturing role in a novel. She aches for her children after her procedure goes awry and she falls ill. Though she yearns for her husband, she knows he must hold down the fort and work. It is a very believable portrayal of motherhood and Lucy’s connection with her own mother, though more strained, is also a very raw and realistic adaptation of the relationship between mother and daughter.

Lucy appears to be very collected and self-motivated as a mother should be; but her complicated connection with her mother exposes her weaknesses. A victim of her mother’s abuse throughout childhood, an alcoholic father, and rampant poverty, Lucy is forced to confront those issues from her past in order to become a stronger woman in the future. In addition to these shocking revelations that the reader learns about Lucy’s past, we get a glimpse of the heartache and scandal that the people that Lucy grew up with are facing, due to her mother’s tendency to gossip.

Lucy is also a writer, making Strout’s use of flowery, eloquent language especially fitting. Lucy’s tangents and inquiries on the things happening around her are gorgeous despite them being menial.  Her heart is so full of love and compassion for others that it makes it difficult to believe that her mother is unable of producing those feelings for anything in her life. The apparent divide between them just makes Lucy’s desire to become closer to her mother even stronger. What at the start seems like it will be a very lighthearted novel turns out to be a bit grittier than expected, and we finally get to see why Lucy loves as hard as she does.

There has been speculation in the literary community that “My Name is Lucy Barton” is essentially a spinoff of “Olive Kitteridge,” only taking things from an impoverished perspective instead of the bourgeoisie. There are bits of humor throughout that lighten some of the difficult subjects, and the character of Lucy is definitely one that audiences will enjoy getting to know.

Composer creates bridge between the classical world and the modern world of music

Steve Hackman, Creative Director of FUSE at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, patches the gap between audiences of classical and modern music at Heinz Hall. Hackman mixes different music forms to represent who he is as an artist . He is not just any other composer or artist. Hackman is carving a path in classical music as he blends it with popular genres.

“Aaron Copland V. Bon Iver” showcased with special guest and local Pittsburgh band, Beauty Slap, on Wednesday, January 28. With three vocalists, Hackman graced the crowd with a blend of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” with Bon Iver songs.

The reason for this unique mixture of genres is to introduce audiences that only attend the symphony to Bon Iver and Bon Iver fans to Aaron Copland.

“To apply contemporary musical techniques from the popular world (mashing up, remixing) to the classical world and thus create a bridge between the two,” said Hackman.

“I want to share beautiful music and I want to share my journey,” said Hackman when describing his main message through his work. There are people who go against the grain by doing what they want to do, and these are the people that he plays for.

“It is possible that classical music has not evolved enough in the past century, or perhaps has evolved along a track that the majority of the public was unwilling to follow it down.”

Photo Credits: Wade Massie

Photo Credits: Wade Massie

Hackman explains how classical music has become distant from contemporary and popular society. “Man has sought the means to express himself creatively as long as he has been on Earth.”

Art is crucial in society and classical music has never lost relevance in his eyes.

Audience member, Zach Dowdell, enjoyed the concert.

“I thought is was an excellent fuse of two styles,” he said.

Another audience member Emily Pickell commented not only about the music but the composer’s looks.

“I cried five times and it was very easy to get into. I won’t lie I came because the composer was so good looking,” she said.

This is not the first time Hackman has composed a mix of genres. He has a history of mixing classical with pop music. From 2009 through 2013, he composed and conducted a concert series, “Happy Hour” with the Indianapolis Symphony strongly showcasing his style of mixing two genres. Hackman also created “Brahms V. Radiohead” in 2013 and “Beethoven V. Coldplay” in 2014.

The next FUSE project Hackman is presenting is March 9th at Heinz Hall. This show is different from “Copland V. Bon Iver.” “As it does not draw upon an existing pop artist and is instead my original songs mixed with Stravinsky,” said Hackman. This show will feature a singer, rapper, drummer, electronics, female choir and orchestra.

Off the Beaten Page: Eric Lindstrom makes his debut with “Not If I See You First”

The thing that sets Parker apart from the traditional, one-dimensional female leads in young adult literature is that she is so obviously human. Lindstrom does not stray from showing off her faults and insecurities to progress the story. He makes her vulnerable and understandable to readers, especially to otherwise-abled individuals. While Parker’s being blind is a major plot element, it is not the entirety of the story. So many novels rely on a character’s disease or disability or flaw as a way to stimulate the story. These tropes need to stop. Parker is an honest character and is showing young girls that being different is okay.

Additionally, while there is a romantic element in Parker’s ex-boyfriend, Scott Kilpatrick, the romance is not the focus of the story as it is in most teen literature. The emergence of the strong-minded young heroine in novels is powerful, and it is very important to acknowledge that it is not the be-all, end-all if the main character does not develop a romantic relationship at the close of the piece. “Not If I See You First” provides a very powerful message for young girls that the first person you must always rely on is yourself.

Lindstrom is currently working on a new untitled piece, and all he has revealed about it is that it will also be young adult fiction. If his first novel is any indicator of how the next one will turn out, it’s going to be a good one.

The winter months always have me desiring fluffy fiction, so I often times veer towards the young adult novel. Nothing is more comforting than a light book to keep your interest on a cold day; but I have grown tired of reading the same pieces over and over again. I took to the internet and found what I was searching for in Lindstrom’s “Not If I See You First.”

This is Lindstrom’s freshman novel, and quite different from his previous work — he was a co-writer for the “Tomb Raider” video game series. Steering away from his traditional work of shock and horror, Lindstrom manages to tug at the heartstrings of his readers with his debut piece, which was just released this past December.

The novel’s main character, Parker, is like any teenage girl, except for the fact that she is blind. In her disability, she has created a list of items she calls “The Rules” so people do not use her or mistreat her just because she is different. She deals with heartache all the same, discussing boy issues with her friends, struggling to come to terms with her father’s death, and taking in the hardship that comes with trying out for the school track team. All of these small facets of her character make a very believable, well-rounded heroine.

Review: “Hunger Games” final installment doesn’t disappoint

Excitement buzzed in the seats of the Cinemark Monroeville as Chatham University students waited impatiently for the final installment of the “Hunger Games” series.

“Mockingjay Part 2” follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) on her journey to overthrow the Capitol. The film included the favorite characters from past films, such as Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin).

The film even included Plutarch Heavensbee, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Mockingjay Part 2 was the last film Hoffman made before he passed away.

Director Francis Lawrence produced another visually intriguing piece. The film often played with lighting, throwing a character’s face into shadow to increase drama or showing a character in silhouette for a similar effect. Lawrence directed the last three installments of the series.

Jennifer Lawrence did not disappoint with her final portrayal of Katniss. She utilized her acting chops to show a reluctant leader whose life seems to be crumbling around her.

Similarly, Josh Hutcherson characterized Peeta — who is still being rehabilitated after being brainwashed by the Capitol to believe that Katniss is evil — as unsure and vulnerable.

Two surprising standouts were Jena Malone (who played Johanna Mason) and Sam Claflin (who played Finnick Odair). The character of Johanna gave the audience most of the limited moments comic relief, which Malone played carefully, never too over-the-top. Claflin portrayed the role of Finnick with all the grace and kindness that fans adored from the books.

The film overall had nearly everyone in the theater on the edge of their seats. The suspense that we grew to love in the last three movies is certainly not missing in Mockingjay Part 2 — if anything, viewers can expect even more tension and jump-out-and-scare-you moments than any of the films before.

As a lover of the books myself, I was completely satisfied with the film. It followed the storyline of the book very closely, and all of the characters were, as usual, very good portrayals of much-loved characters from the book.

To be perfectly honest, I could find very little that I didn’t like about the film. The one exception to this is the final scene in the film. Those familiar with the book series will likely recall the polarizing epilogue; while some felt it was a nice wrap-up to the series, others felt dissatisfied with Suzanne Collins’ choice to tell the reader how the world changed rather than let them make up their own minds.

Regardless of my personal feelings toward the epilogue in the books, I felt the epilogue in the film was heavy-handed — the wonderful characterization we got throughout the film was stripped away in favor of two-dimensional versions of the characters many years later.

4.5/5 stars

Chatham screens documentary on the struggle of masculinity

Be a man. Stop with the emotions. Man up. Suck it up. Don’t be a sissy. Boys don’t cry. These are the things young men and boys often grow up hearing.  But how does that affect them and what kind of world does it create? How much of masculinity is a reaction to societal norms? What are the consequences for boys and men who spend their lives wearing “the mask?”

On November 13, in Eddy Theater Chatham University’s own Psychology of Gender Research Team screened a film that took on those questions.  Although the experiences and backgrounds differed, the answers came to a grave consensus. As Joe Ehrmann frankly said, “The three most destructive words that every man receives when he is a boy is when he’s told to be a man.”

“The Mask You Live In” is a Documentary made by Jennifer Siebel Newsome of The Representation Project. Venturing into classrooms, playgrounds, locker rooms, college campuses, and even prisons, filmmakers explored what a “real man” has been defined as in America and the consequences for boys and men. Gaining perspectives and hearing the experiences of boys and men all ages and backgrounds, the audience in Eddy gained a look inside of what is behind “the mask.”

What exactly is this mask exactly? Not something apparent to the naked eye, but a façade that young men are told they must wear for most of their lives because what’s often behind it: pain, sadness, loss, and emotion are feminine and not acceptable. Something forces young men to grow up, hiding their pain in helmets and locker rooms.

In a not-often-seen way, the men and boys interviewed shared what was behind their personal masks and how they were made. Grown men spoke of abuse they had experienced at the hands of their fathers and sometimes their mothers.  The film explores how once vulnerable and innocent faces can wind up on the news or in prison for unspeakable crimes.  One of many examples was what one psychologist called “The Great Setup” meaning from a young age boys are taught that to be a girl means inferiority and weakness, yet we as a society are surprised when men and boys behave violently towards women and girls.

Through anecdotes and statistics the documentary sheds light on the danger that has come from linking respect and control to violence. It also challenged quite a few common misconceptions American society has about what young boys need. Showing that contrary to popular belief in some cases having relationships with one’s father is more damaging than having an absent father.

Startling and at times heart wrenching facts were revealed: that boys experience depression and suicidal thoughts at a similar rate to girls, but the difference is in how it’s expressed. The inherent danger in a world where the only emotion men are allowed to express is anger. Substance abuse sometimes occurs with boys and men, not to feel good in some cases, but to feel nothing. Girls hurt themselves; boys hurt others and are less likely to get treatment. Boys and men are highly unlikely to report being abused. Additionally, unfortunately the first places men start to explore masculinity and their “masks” is behind bars.

However this is not always the case. There were men in the films who were able to remove their masks before doing permanent damage to themselves or others. Some chose to be different than their fathers and their fathers’ fathers. The documentary also featured coaches and activists and their takes on how to help boys become well adjusted men.

Jason Lucarelli, a student in the Masters of Psychology program, played a key role in putting together the event and he explained that while growing, despite having a supportive family, he occasionally felt pressure to suppress his own interests because they differed from that of his male peers. Because of his area of study and his background, this film was important for him to show because, “While traditional masculinity has and will in many ways continue to cause the oppression of women, we need to examine the effects of traditional masculinity on men. We need to examine the consequences of distancing oneself from one’s true feelings and emotions in order to convey stoicism.”  

Before its release, the documentary was subject to criticism; it and those who made it were accused of trying to “feminize” boys.

“My first response is that it’s ridiculous and heterosexist and is probably coming from individuals who have little to no understanding of the realities and influences of gender inequality,” said Lucarelli, in response to this criticism. “My other response is that it is a perfect demonstration of how problematic the gender binary can be.  Gender is a social construct and sadly many members in society view sex and gender as the same thing and in doing so confine males and females to stereotypical gender roles.” 

The event was Sponsored by Psi Chi, AWP Pittsburgh, SPW Campus Representatives, and The Women’s Institute, in collaboration with a number of student organizations.

Off the Beaten Page: Film adaptation of “The Girl on the Train” in the works

The popularization of turning thrilling suspense novels into films is one that has been on the surface for the last few years. Novels like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Gone Girl,” and “The Martian” have startled their audiences with jarring plot twists and elaborate plot arcs. Now, Paula Hawkins delivers a more domestic thriller that will leave readers on the edge of their seat.

At first, the novel appears to be one that just addresses infidelity, affairs, and polyamorous situations. The peripheral vibe of the novel seems to be one that thrives on jealousy and cheating, but it becomes so much more than that. “The Girl on the Train” is told in the perspective of three different women who are all linked…I refuse to give any spoilers, you just have to read to find out. The book quickly turns from a women’s novel of distress and romantic turmoil to a gripping tale of a mysterious disappearance.

This book covers issues such as misogyny, alcoholism, and nontraditional marriages, which add a psychological layer to the depth of the novel. The novel is also heart-wrenchingly accurate in how the different women are portrayed, each narrative succeeding in the expression of the character. While the convoluted plots may appear to be overzealous at first, they all work well together and balance properly with the very fast pace of the story.

Currently, “The Girl on the Train” is in the works for a film adaptation with Emily Blunt in the lead role. While the film is not set to be released until October 2016, audience are eagerly anticipating the movie. Why? With the success of “Gone Girl,” psychological thrillers have gained a strong appeal with readers and watchers alike. The structure of these novels attack large social issues without even trying.

“The Girl on the Train” observes blatant sexism in the coolest, most nonchalant of ways. It is almost as if we are not supposed to notice it. Women are portrayed as weak to the iron fist of men in this novel, which is intentional on Hawkins’ part. She creates the opposite of a feminist utopia, one where women are devalued to only a spousal pleasure, which makes the reader question their own social standing in relationships.

I encourage readers to pick up this novel before the movie hits theaters in less than a year. It is predicted to be a box-office hit, and after keeping the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller list for 13 consecutive weeks, I think that is a great possibility.