Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spinning In the Fish Tank

Walking through the student center of Central Connecticut’s campus, a large glass window draws curiosity to each passerby.

Peering inside, guiding one’s eyes around the room of expansive radio equipment, there in the center sits a brown banged petite girl with headphones on. As a song ends, she fiddles with the soundboard, presses a button, and puts her mouth next to the microphone.

“You’re listening to WFCS 107.7,” said a calm, serene voice. “The name’s Kait Jensen, and welcome to my show, Strange Sounds,” she finished.

Immediately after the last syllable, Jensen punched another button, and the first notes of a song began to resonate through the station. As a junior majoring in English, Jensen has been working at CCSU’s radio station for over a year. Currently sporting the title of Alternative Director of WFCS, Jensen hosts her own radio show on Wednesday nights from 8-10 p.m.

Heavily involved in the station, Jensen is also currently training to become the Director of Development, as well as the treasurer position for next semester. Jensen enjoys the power she possesses as she switches from song to song.

There is more freedom in college radio than [in] commercial,” she said. “Students can listen to music they wouldn’t hear anywhere else.”

With a heavily influenced mélange of indie favorites like Neutral Milk Hotel, Caribou and The Pixies, Jensen fills the airwaves with unique sounds.

“I get phone calls occasionally,” she said. “But they’re generally from people asking me to play Coldplay,” she said, as she usually tries to steer away from mainstream favorites. As Jensen frequently stops to give the tag line and play public service announcements, she doesn’t seem to get nervous about her voice reverberating through the hallway of the Student Center – where hundreds of students and faculty stop to curiously peek inside as they scamper back and forth from classes.

“Sometimes I get reactions through the window,” Jensen said, referring to the fish tank. “I like to press buttons when people walk by and I get weird looks,” she laughed as she demonstrated by pressing a button that let off a screaming noise.

Outside of the station, Jensen is also currently attempting to organize shows to take place on campus, trying to bring bands in an effort to get students more involved in supporting their student organizations, and to just have fun. Presently, the station is undergoing a lot of improvements, as they hope to use another vacant room adjacent to the main station to showcase local bands, treating their listeners to live performances.

With many individuals currently working to keep the station afloat, WFCS is constantly putting their heads together to explore new ideas to revamp the studio and keep radio alive. “It sounds like such a cliché thing to say, but we’re like a family,” Jensen laughed, “ – an interesting one, at that.”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Women Can Be Funny, Too

“I was a musical virgin until now,” quipped the eccentric, silver haired woman on stage.

“Have you ever heard the song ‘My Neck, My Back’?” she asked the audience. “I played it for a friend of mine, and her 16-year-old daughter yelled at me, ‘You can’t play that for my mother!’”

There was no silver bell tinkling laughter from the women in CCSU’s Alumni Hall; there were bold, thunderous shrieks and wails.

“Silver bell tinkling laughter happens when we’re around men,” Regina Barreca, author of “Babes In Boyland” and “I’m With Stupid” explained.

Acting out a man who had a terrible, absurd joke to tell, she then switched roles to the woman being forced to listen. Out of her mouth came a squeaky laugh that Disney princesses perfected.

Barreca, a professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, is dedicated to focusing on women’s trials and tribulations, yet she fails in coming off too feminist. Barreca combines her wit and knowledge into a comedy routine that can make the most uptight woman or impossible man unravel.

“Real laughter from women has a slightly less feminine sound,” Barreca said. “Some definite signs are bust holding, mascara wiping, and the exclamation, ‘Don’t make me pee my pants!’”

Her topic of the afternoon was exploring women and comedy; how men find it difficult to believe that the opposite sex has a sense of humor. For 20 years, Barreca has investigated why men don’t find women humorous. Narrowing it down to three reasons, she showcased ridiculous pop culture references that, while men find them funny, women are turned off and reject them completely.

“Women don’t like the ‘Three Stooges’, the fart scene in Blazing Saddles, or Jackass: the Movie,” she said.

Mentioning the scene in Jackass when one of the men is walking over an alligator pit with a Perdue chicken in his pants, Barreca asked, “Can you imagine a woman putting chicken fingers in her brassiere? No, women don’t do it.”

While some women might contest to actually enjoying atypical male-driven antics, realistically it is because they want to be ‘one of the guys.’ There is nothing wrong in this, but women need to understand that enjoying it doesn’t automatically make them a hit at the water cooler.

“Men torture each other,” she said. “Women nurture. We don’t insult other women; we compliment each other. Then we explain why the other is wrong for complimenting us.”

Barreca explained how making things up is unnecessary in our everyday lives that are filled to the brim with hilarious anecdotes.

“Women make a story about everything,” she said nonchalantly. “We don’t tell jokes, we’re not genetically inclined. Women being forced to be funny is like cross-dressing.”

“We’re lying and being disingenuous to ourselves,” Barreca said, singling out her gender in the audience. “We try to minimize; we tend to think we’re too much.”

To be meek and modest is not in Barreca’s profession. When interviewed recently by BBC about the global economy, Barreca’s solution was simple: “Allow middle-aged women to spend money on clothes that fit them!” she said as a matter-offactly. “That will bring a flood of liquidity back into the market.”

A side note that sent the audience into a fit of gender seperation was the accusation that women can’t handle money.

“I googled ‘men can’t handle money’, but it just comes up with how women can’t,” Barreca said. “Haven’t we seen the former evident in the economy currently?”

Diverting her animated character into another story, Barreca spoke of an interesting moment in her life when she tried something just to have a comical story to tell. Living in London for two years when she was a young adult, Barreca was a freelancer, and had an attractive British boyfriend in tow. She was approached to be a contestant on a television show called “Mastermind”.

“’We’ve never had an American on before,’ they told me. ‘You’ll make a fool of yourself,’ my boyfriend contested. I accepted.” Barreca said. As they fired questions at a young Barreca, she realized she didn’t know the answers, and would utter ‘pass’ after each.

“They were watching this American girl setting herself on fire,” she told Alumni Hall. Sensing how uncomfortable it was, the show’s host switched subjects and asked, “What animal is a guppy?” “It’s a fish!” Barreca yelled at the top of her voice, and the crowd went wild; she said little old English ladies approached her in the supermarket the next day, fawning over her television appearance.

As embarrassing, awkward, or odd it may have been, Barreca wanted to reach out to the audience to urge them to do anything and everything; that life is just a series of hilarious anecdotes and situations. “It’s a story,” Barreca said. “Do it. Go out.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Personal Blog: http://www.livejournal.com/users/marionettesque_

Super Bowl at Southwick Inn

Aside from the fierce competition between two teams that tackle their way through their respective conferences and into the hearts of many, Super Bowl Sunday is not just for sports fanatics. While it’s sponsors inject entertainment in the form of musical performances and expensive commercials, the rest of the excitement is up to the individual. Deciding how and whom you spend the event with is probably the most important aspect in order to having an enjoyable evening. That, and the spicy buffalo wings.

Some of us make this decision haphazardly the last minute, and I am guilty as charged. As a generalization, several of my fellow female demographic can agree with me when I admittedly never care much about football until the final game fever surfaces. That is when we muster up a grin, don a jersey of a random wide receiver, and cheer along with our drunken male counterparts while forgetting about our New Years resolution of losing weight.

Not having any plans three days prior to the game, my father contacted me about spending my weekend up where he resides in Southwick, Massachusetts. When I questioned how we’d be spending our Sunday night, he mentioned we were going to a party. A party at a bar, The Southwick Inn, one of the oldest bars in Western Massachusetts. It has been open for 100 years, but was recently renovated a couple years ago; before its current owners, it was disgustingly intolerable.

Partying with a bunch of inebriated strangers doesn’t sound appealing at first, if at all. After getting our fill of Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, my father, stepmother and I left for the soiree with a homemade bowl of buffalo chicken dip that my stepmother had creatively baked to contribute.

When we arrived at the Inn, I was, without question, the youngest person at the bar. Sitting down on a stool next to an older man grunting his order of a hamburger and onion rings, I sat and sipped my draft beer, surveying everyone on the scene. Since my father visits the Inn quite frequently, he pointed out the obscene regular bar flies; the bartender fixed their drinks before they sauntered through the entrance.

The first hour before kickoff felt like an eternity; a woman in her mid-twenties blared the Dropkick Murphy’s “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” on the jukebox and others followed suit by bopping their heads to the heavy Irish tone and downing their light beers like camels in heat.

Switching all flat screens to the game, there was General Petraeus, all prepared to initiate the coin toss. (Initiate sounds like the astute word to use when speaking of such a prominent man.) As this happened, I overheard bar patrons wager bets. “100 bucks for tails,” one quipped. “No, a dollar,” said the other.

While several laughed at guessing how old John Madden must be by now, the game started and all were transfixed, including myself. I was rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and for the most pathetic reason imaginable: I recently visited the city and absolutely loved it, and spent some time in a restaurant where every customer adorned a Steelers jersey, even Grandma. Sorry Cardinals, I know you haven’t won in a while.

Throughout the evening, Jess our bartender handed out freebies, like t-shirts and football helmet necklaces. An entire table of free edibles was set out to enjoy in unlimited helpings: chips, dips, veggies, wings, cookies; even chicken marsala. What got the most feedback from the majority of people however, was the buffalo chicken dip.

I am proud to mention that I got extremely into the match, albeit getting distracted by the hamburglar beside me, speaking to me about college, the economy, and politics. Intermittently glancing at the commercials, my favorite featured the dating Clydesdale horses: there is nothing cuter than animals helping sell beer to Americans.

The rest of the evening seemed a little fuzzy: like what Troy Polamalu must have experienced after losing his contact lens in the first quarter. Luckily I did not pay attention to Bruce Springsteen’s crotch-o-vision, and eventually we left prematurely before the fourth quarter began. I was tuckered out, and ready to leave.

The Southwick Inn is a bar with extremely good people just wanting to have a good time; the food is hot and the beers start at $2.50. Overall a nice atmosphere to just get away from the frustrations and laugh freely.
Maybe I’ll prepare for next year by picking a team, watching their season, and hoping they make the playoffs. Probably not.

Visit the Southwick Inn's Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/thesouthwickinn