A Very Special Event: Chicago Manual Cinema’s A Christmas Carol

Author: Jade Ryerson

There are a lot of things we’ve all missed since the onset of the pandemic back in March. Luckily, the innovative team at Chicago’s Manual Cinema has ensured that live theater no longer has to be one of them. In a show suitable for all ages, Chicago Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol combines original music, live performance, and paper puppetry for a remarkably timely and relevant take on the Dickens classic. Although there have been countless adaptations over the years, Manual Cinema offers a night of entertainment like nothing you’ve ever seen.  Honors Program students were treated to a performance of the classic on Thursday, December 3rd. 

Besides Scrooge’s supernatural visitors, stunning visuals and a haunting original score contributed to Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol’s magical quality. Performed by a small yet masterful team, the show consists of seamless transitions between shadow puppetry, miniatures, and live acting. Complex layering of dramatic lighting, transparencies, and silhouettes add both visual and emotional depth to the scenery and story. Some of the best elements, though, are in the subtle details, including a tatted Christmas Present and Christmas Past’s cross-generational banter. 

Although the protagonist, Aunt Trudy, struggles to get into the Christmas spirit, Manual Cinema has no trouble adapting the tale to our time. With both the show’s plot and the audience firmly planted in a COVID-19 world, A Christmas Carol’s themes of gratitude, love, and family have perhaps never felt more relevant. Like other families during lockdown, Trudy reluctantly attempts to translate holiday traditions—namely her late husband Joe’s puppet rendition of A Christmas Show—over Zoom. Despite her initial cynicism, Trudy accompanies Scrooge on a transformational journey that ultimately reinforces the importance of connection in trying times. Even over livestream, Manual Cinema’s ability to speak to our current moment made the performance feel more personal and poignant. In addition to its creative presentation, I was most struck by the team’s thoughtfulness surrounding our collective fatigue, grief, empathy, and need for human connection.

After the performance, students joined Honors Program Director Dr. Jennifer Conary for a discussion about the enduring relevance of A Christmas Carol. With infectious enthusiasm, Professor Conary—DePaul’s resident Dickens-expert—shared her insights about the novella’s various film and stage adaptations and the dire financial circumstances in which Dickens wrote it. In addition to Dickens’ pursuits as a Victorian social reformer, this context enabled students to view A Christmas Carol and what we regard as ‘quintessential Christmas’ in a new light. As Professor Conary explained, A Christmas Carol was transformative, not only for Dickens’ career, but also the holiday festivities we know today. Even over a century and a half after its publication, Manual Cinema still found a way to put an inventive spin on this Christmas classic.
While we can’t gather with family and friends, Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol provides a new way to connect; it reminds us to pause and remember how meaningful those moments and relationships are. With the dawn of the new year comes the promise of a vaccine and hopefully the return of live, in-person theater. Until then, Manual Cinema is hosting live one-hour performances every night from through December 20. Be sure to stick around for a Q&A with the cast and tour of the set after the show.


Meals and Snacks to Get You Through Finals Week!

Author: Morris McLennan

               Finals week is here. I don’t know about anybody else, but I know I’m certainly operating at about 10% my usual brain capacity. Every morning I wake up and I check my New York Times daily email and I take fifty points of psychic damage. But of course, the one way to regain my lost brain points is by consuming health potions. And I am nothing if not a master craftsman of health potions. Here are my favorites.

  1. Soup / Chili

Soup is the king of psychic healing. I have made the Chickpea Noodle Soup recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s vegan cookbook about five times. You can also just throw vegetables and water in a pot and see what happens! It will probably become soup.

I ate chili on election night. I used to not like chili because my parents, though I love them very much, are not skilled with seasonings. However, when you make chili yourself, you can put as much seasoning as you want in it. It’s also not very expensive to just throw beans and tomatoes and vegetables into a pot and then suddenly have enough food for a week. I would recommend a recipe but I honestly have never followed a chili recipe before. You don’t need instructions; you just need to cook with love.

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have probably made more chocolate chip cookies than any other baked good. They heal my soul! They also remind me of all the times my dad made Tollhouse cookies when I was a little kid. Sometimes when I make the Tollhouse recipe, the nostalgia is too overwhelming and I end up crying about how much I miss making cookies with my dad. But usually I use this recipe instead: https://food52.com/recipes/39132-ovenly-s-secretly-vegan-salted-chocolate-chip-cookies

  • Pizza

If I ever get sentenced to death for jaywalking on North Clifton Avenue, I’m ordering Dimo’s Pizza for my last meal. I love Chicago but I simply think the pizza here is soggy and a little flavorless. But not Dimo’s! The vegan deep dish from Kitchen17 is also pretty good though. Anyways, I know none of us are cooking every single meal from scratch. That’s a lot of effort for a busy student. So I don’t know about you, but I’m going to order pizza.


All the Cookbooks I’ve Checked Out from the Library Over Quarantine (So Far)

Author: Morris McLennan

I don’t remember how this started. I believe my roommates and I were having a good laugh about mobsters. Perhaps it was around the time we were planning to marathon all the Godfather movies? I can’t say I’m entirely sure. What I do know is this: my life was forever changed after going to the library and checking out The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run by Henry Hill.  What started as a joke has turned into my favorite quarantine activity of all time. I browse the internet for cookbooks, then instead of buying them like some kind of billionaire, I check them out from the library and cook through a few of the recipes before returning them. 

For context, I have been cooking and baking consistently for three years now. I’m no five-star chef, but I do have a lot of experience reading and following recipes. Unfortunately, my opinion is not objectively true, and all of my reviews will be based on my opinion. Many cookbooks are hard to compare, so please don’t take this as anything other than silly college entertainment writing. But without further ado, here are my reviews.

The Wise Guy Cookbook: My Favorite Recipes From My Life as a Goodfella to Cooking on the Run by Henry Hill

Henry. The man who started it all. I’ve never seen Goodfellas, but I promise I’ll watch it eventually. Henry Hill is apparently one of the mobsters that movie was about. As for the cookbook, his stories are the best part. First I made his stuffed shells with tomato mint sauce, but I used store-bought vegan mozzarella and homemade tofu ricotta instead of cow cheese. I don’t think that’s how Henry would’ve wanted me to make it, but it turned out pretty good, and I’ll definitely make them again sometime. I also made a sun-dried tomato pasta sauce, which was fine, but not awesome. That being said, this is a great cookbook to read cover to cover. There are stories all about the recipes and where they come from. It’s organized not by breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or even by seasons; Henry Hill’s cookbook follows his life on the run! 

My Rating: 4 Stars

Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen by Gena Hamshaw

I love the Food52 website. I love the Food52 YouTube channel. I guzzle Food52 recipes like I’m a very dehydrated person and they are water. Gena Hamshaw is the queen of Food52 vegan recipes. I own her other cookbook, Power Plates, so I was excited to give this one a try. However, many of the Food52 Vegan recipes are copies of the recipes that appear in Power Plates. Many of the recipes looked sort of basic and boring to me. It’s a nice cookbook, and there’s plenty of pictures, but you’re probably better off just looking at the recipes online. I tried the date nut bread, and it was okay, but I don’t love dates all that much. 

My Rating: 2 Stars

The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koeing

I checked out this book with the intention of learning how to make hamantaschen. I have not leaned how to make hamantaschen yet. However, I still have a few days left on my loan, and Lori Lightfoot can’t take my money if I return it a few days late. What makes The Jewish Cookbook so special is the massive quantity of recipes and information it contains. Jewish food exists basically all over the planet, so there are tons of regional dishes and variations on recipes. The Jewish Cookbook also contains stories about many of the recipes; I know I learned a lot while flipping through it. The only recipe I’ve made so far is braised fennel, and it was very solid, but I also discovered that I don’t really like fennel that much. 

My Rating: 4 Stars

PLANTLAB by Matthew Kenney

Maybe I should not be reviewing this cookbook since I haven’t made any recipes from it, but I feel like it would be dishonest of me not to tell you what happened. What happened, you ask? I checked this cookbook out from the library, looked at it for five minutes, and then returned it. I do not want to make meals that are essentially just raw or cooked vegetables with no source of… anything remotely satiating. This is a cookbook for people who want to make tiny fancy restaurant foods. Also many of the recipes were for raw foods, which I have no personal disrespect for, I simply do not consider them high on my list of foods I want to make. 

My Rating: 1 Star

Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing by Jerrelle Guy

When Food52 released a video on Jerrelle Guy’s kombucha muffins, I thought… no way. Then I made them, and I thought ‘this is unlike anything I’ve ever made before; I wonder if more recipes like this exist?’ Then I learned that Jerrelle Guy has a cookbook. And it is amazing. I am a whole grain fanboy. I am an alternative flours fanboy. I am a vegan baked goods fanboy. This cookbook has brought so much joy into my life. I made the almond coconut croissants and they brought a tear to my eye. I have like ten bookmarks on the recipes I want to make. I must admit that I did severely mess up the apple crisp recipe, and ended up with something both burnt and raw at the same time, but that was probably on me. The croissants changed my life and I will be buying this cookbook once I return the library copy. 

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Those are all my cookbook reviews so far! If you’re familiar with any of these cookbooks and have opinions, I would love to hear them. I’m also open to any suggestions for more cookbooks I should check out in the future.   Email me at: cmclenna@depaul.edu


You Live and You Learn — A Reflection of Dr. Kalchman’s HON 207

Author: Deyana Atanasova

The Honors Program has given me so many enriching experiences in the classroom throughout my time at DePaul, but there’s one class in particular that has helped me redefine my experience here and likely beyond—yes, even through Zoom.

That class is Dr. Mindy Kalchman’s HON 207: “How People Learn.” To be fully transparent, I was initially planning on taking a linguistics course for the HON 207 requirement this autumn quarter, but because of the switch to online remote learning, and scheduling conflicts, the course wasn’t offered. 

Despite the uncertainties and the general havoc in everyone’s life right now, the 3 hours a week spent in Dr. Kalchman’s class are extremely worthwhile, engaging, and applicable. Sometimes, we even get a cameo from Jude, her bearded dragon. 

I’m by no means a cognitive science person (or any type of science, really), but this class has redefined metacognition for me in an accessible way.  Even within the first few weeks, I felt like I had learned several threshold concepts with regards to learning. Like, for example, did you know that learning styles aren’t really a thing? Or that atoms are made up of…cells? Who knew?!

The class, however, isn’t overflowing with theory; it’s a perfect blend of key concepts from constructivism in a constructivist classroom setting–how’s that for being meta? For an Honors class, the rigor isn’t nestled between the usual lengthy essays or niche and siloed scholarly readings but rather within introspective reflection papers and succinct, applicable texts. These are supplemented with guest speakers, class activities (like doing origami or mini math exercises which, I swear, are actually fun), TedTalks, and in-depth, multi-faceted discussions.

I feel that in this class, I’m not only learning for me but also learning how others learn, learning how to learn, and also honoring interdisciplinary conversations about economics, policy, athletics, music, graphic design, writing, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Each class period is unique, each reflection is different, and I am incredibly grateful for Dr. Kalchman’s consistent feedback and course adjustments in the midst of everything going on.

This is a class where you get to actually be mindful about where you are–something that has been quite kind to me as I reach the end of my undergraduate experience in the middle of quarantine. It has allowed me to look back reflectively, to be present in the discussion and current circumstances, and also look to the future. I’d say that I wish I took this class earlier so I had these foundational concepts in mind, or that I could take it later when I had more experience and maybe witness it in person, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a class that meets you where you are–literally wherever you are (one of my classmates even calls in from Greece)–and allows you to build momentum, each class and each reflection serving as a stepping stone for constructing your own meaning of learning and your own conceptions of how to learn.


Is the Game Over Yet?

Author: Ethan Ament

During these lonely and terrifying times, a lot of us have been looking for new hobbies and activities to pursue. Some people have chosen to take up knitting while others have chosen to start playing a new instrument. However, for many of us it still seems like we are in need of ways to take our minds off of school during our free time. With the surplus of sports that have started or concluded in the last month, many people have started watching a sport for the first time. 

For football fans in the Chicago area, after the Bears started with a 5-1 record, it seemed like watching the Bears last Monday night (10/26) could be a great way to join a community of Bears fans while the team was still on the ascend. Instead, if you watched the Bears game that night, you realized that you could have achieved the same amount of excitement from sleeping as you did from watching the game.

If you have not watched a lot of Bears games, the first thing about the Bears that you must know is that the defense is MUCH better than the offense. This characteristic about the Bears was displayed beautifully on Monday night as the offense struggled to do much of anything. The Bears coach, Matt Nagy, seems to feel like the players on offense put in too much effort because the team is constantly punting and giving the offense time to sit on the bench. On almost every drive, the Bears run the ball on first down for a measly one yard. Then after being inspired by the one yard run, they decide to run the ball again for a discouraging two yards. Finally on third down, the Bears seem to have a man open down field every time, but always end up throwing an incomplete pass. If you were watching the Bears on 10/26 and hoped that these terrible possessions were the makings of only one poorly played game, you will be disappointed to hear that this is the team you will see for the rest of the season.

After going down 24-3 in the fourth quarter, it seemed like the Bears were out of the game. Then, miraculously, their defense forced a fumble and scored a touchdown giving me and other fans some glimmer of a potential comeback. Then the Bears offense did their thing and lost 24-10. Yes, that’s correct, the defense scored more points than the offense. I hope that if this was your first game, that you continue to watch and hopefully the offense improves as the season progresses. Yet, I am warning you not to get your hopes up. I can’t wait to see how the Bears fare against the Saints on Sunday.


What To Do in Chicago During A Pandemic

Looking for activities and things to do in quarantine while in Chicago? Even though we can’t enjoy some of the normal things that Chicago is best known for, there are quite a few things to do in the city, keeping in mind COVID guidelines and social distancing of course. HSG Social committee chairs Ben Stumpe and David Taullahu created this fun video to highlight what there is to do in the city. From going to Millennium Park, the Bean, the Art Institute, and so much more, Ben and David illustrate some fun FREE activities to do around the city. Since this is from two college student’s perspectives, it really shows that you can enjoy the city on a student budget during the pandemic. When you have some free time or want a break from Zoom, I suggest exploring some of these cool places in the video. Enjoy!!!

Click on this link to watch the whole video!


Athlete A (2020), Documentary Review

Author: Hannah Reed

Content Warning: This film includes graphic descriptions of child abuse, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault. This review mentions these topics.

A new Netflix documentary titled Athlete A, directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, tells the horrific tale of mass child sexual abuse at USA Gymnastics (USAG) through the eyes of the investigative journalists who first broke the story.

In Athlete A, Cohen and Shenk endeavor to answer the question people around the world asked when the story of Larry Nassar’s abuse first broke in 2016: How does something like this happen? How can one man sexually assault upwards of three hundred children and teens for nearly three decades without being caught? Through the presentation of the testimonies of the survivors, the reporters who led the investigation, and the prosecuting team of the criminal case, we received a definitive answer.

Cohen and Shenk paint a compelling picture of the wider culture of abuse in elite gymnastics, weaving interviews of former Olympic and national team members into their coverage of the investigation of Nassar and USAG by journalists at The Indianapolis Star. In one such testimonial, Jennifer Sey, a member of the 1986 Olympic team, summarized the root of unchecked abuse confirmed by multiple generations of elite gymnasts interviewed for the film. Sey stated, “in other sports, the athletes are adults. They can reasonably make choices about what they want. I don’t think that is true in gymnastics…the line between tough coaching and child abuse gets blurred.” The subjects of the documentary identify multiple points at which adults at USAG and other organizations affiliated with Nassar could have spoken up to protect these children from his abuse. The film simply shows us why they never did: because in a culture that prioritizes championships & brand status over the well-being of athletes, sexual assault becomes one more abuse to be swept under the rug. 

Athlete A gives the young women who survived that abuse a chance to tell their story, their way. It shows us that while they received justice, hundreds of women had to fight tooth and nail to get it. Any genre of media covering sexual abuse and the institutions that condone it often present these events in ways that are shaming, and supportive of a global culture that diminishes and silences survivors of sexual violence. Athlete A defies that expectation and gives a voice to the strong women who sacrificed their privacy to protect future generations from Nassar and men like him.

Athlete A: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. Available on Netflix.


Word from the HSG President, Kurt Edlund

Hello Honors Students!

I’m Kurt Edlund, and I am the President of Honors Student Government for the 2020-2021 school year. I truly wish I was welcoming all Honors students–especially our incoming freshman–to DePaul on our beautiful campus in person, but that’s simply not possible. Our world looks nothing like what we all imagined it would look like.  Our dreams of a college experience are being challenged right now along with so many other facets of our daily lives. As we weather these hardships together, I want to make something very clear to all Honors students: we have each other. Going to college for the first time and having to make new friends can be a very daunting task, especially during a pandemic. That’s why all of us on the Honors Student Government Executive Board (HSG E-Board…DePaul is big on its use of acronyms!) is here for you. Whenever you have a question or concern that pops into your mind, send it my way. Don’t be afraid to reach out for what may seem like the simplest of questions because those simple questions are usually the most important to ask. And chances are pretty good that one of us will know the answer!  And if we don’t, we’ll find it, and get back to you! 

I am a senior this year and have loved every moment of my college career at DePaul. This is also my fourth year serving on the HSG E-Board where I’ve held various roles over the years including Honors Floor Representative, Academic Representative and Vice President. My academic passions lie in science where I am studying Physics, Math & Computer Science with a minor in Commercial Spanish. Before the pandemic changed everything, I lived on-campus every year of my college career because I loved being extremely active in campus life. Even though we all might not be on campus as much as we would like right now, I am not too far away from DePaul because I was born and raised in Downtown Chicago. I have loved living in the city and knew I wanted an urban college experience.  Through this wealth of knowledge about the city that is famously our campus, I am here (virtually) to welcome you all to our strangest year of school ever.  

In fact, the entire HSG E-Board has been collaborating over the summer to plan a very exciting Fall Quarter to welcome you all. As the beginning of a new school year approaches, we have many fun plans to share with you all.  From the HSG Meetings, Door Decorating Contests, Virtual Dance Parties, Movie Nights, Q & A Sessions and more, HSG is finding new ways to engage and commence a new school year. We may be geographically distant, but we are certainly connected.

I look forward to meeting you all virtually at our events soon!

Kurt


What Worked Best For Me In Spring Quarter 2020

Author: Anissa Patterson

We all know that the shift to online classes last March was an abrupt change that led to many students feeling lost and helpless, without any ideas on how to organize their time and manage their assignments. When DePaul’s spring quarter was moved online, my four in person classes changed to three asynchronous classes and one synchronous class that met on zoom twice a week. Because of this, I only had a set schedule for one of my classes. 

The first week after spring I was basically winging it. Since many of my professors were also learning how to navigate online classes, many materials were not posted early so I did not have a clear idea of what I should be working on for my classes that did not meet on zoom. When I started watching the pre-recorded lectures I just did so when I felt like it and when it was most convenient for me. This often led to extended periods of time sitting in front of the computer as I did not realize how much content the lectures had and had not budgeted my time correctly. I quickly learned that I should plan out my days and give specific days to specific subjects so that I have a set schedule and a plan of action for my assignments. 

As the quarter went on i started using a dry erase calendar to write down my assignments and which lectures I planned to watch each day. This gave me the satisfaction of crossing out a task after I had finished. This actually helped my mental attitude toward online classes because I felt more accomplished having completed all of my tasks. However, there were some days where I couldn’t find the time to watch all the lectures I wanted to or read what I was supposed to. This was sometimes due to a bad mental health day, home distractions or lack of motivation. This of course also happens during in-person classes as well, but it feels more daunting when you are at home. This led to some weeks being more cramped with assignments than others but the attempt at a schedule really helped me organize my classes in the chaos that was the transition to “zoom university”.

I hope that this anecdote has helped other students realize that they were not alone in their struggles and that I can help others navigate another quarter online. The best I can do is provide these tips that helped me manage and get through spring quarter, I hope they can help you too!

Tips:

  1. Write down all your assignments and due dates on a calendar, check them off when completed 
  2. Schedule set times to listen to your asynchronous lecture
  3. Put your phone away/ across the room so you won’t be distracted
  4. Take breaks! Classes are only an hour and a half in person, if you find yourself working for an extended period of time, step back and take a breather
  5. Don’t worry if you don’t check all the items off on your schedule, sometimes you have off days
My baby Luna being a distraction during class


Meet a Student Assistant -Anissa

Hi everyone!

I’m Anissa Patterson, one of the honors student assistants. I am a rising senior majoring in Business Management with a minor in Spanish. I started working as a student assistant in February, and only worked physically in the office for about a month until we moved to remote work. It was quite a learning curve but Jennifer, Nancy, Elizabeth and the other student workers created an uplifting environment that made it easier to navigate the move to remote work. Throughout my time at DePaul I have been an active member of the Honors Program. Freshman year I lived on the honors floor in Clifton-Fullerton which allowed me to come out of my shell and make new friends with similar passions. I frequented the Honors Student-Faculty dinners which helped me get to know some professors better and meet honors students in different years. In my junior year I became an Honors Mentor which was a great experience because I got to help incoming freshmen learn about DePaul and what makes the Honors Program so unique. I will also be an Honors Mentor this coming fall which will be exciting but full of new challenges as I attempt to mentor students via zoom. 

I am also involved in other on campus activities, including the DePaul Swim Club. I have been an active swimmer since high school and was overjoyed when I found the Swim Club here at DePaul. I have made some of my best friends in the pool at the Ray and I am hoping that we can figure out some way to keep the team together during the 2020-2021 school year, although I know it will be drastically different. When I am not on campus I am at my apartment cuddling with my one year old cat Luna, reading or playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the switch. Throughout quarantine I have also tried my best to remain active by doing at home workouts and taking walks to the lake. Pre-covid you would usually be able to find me at a cubs game or at a concert. Some of my favorite artists are Twenty One Pilots, Twin XL, Ed Sheeran, Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. I am excited for fall quarter to begin as I will hopefully regain some structure in my days, as it has been hard to stay motivated this summer. I look forward to returning to campus, eventually, and until then I will be sitting on my couch remodeling my Animal Crossing island. 

All the best,

Anissa Patterson

DePaul Swim Club
Luna, my lovely cat
My Animal Crossing character enjoying fireworks