Author: Kailey Favaro

Ramona Ausubel inspires creativity

I went to the Ramona Ausubel reading on Nov. 2 with few expectations. While many students in attendance were well-read English majors with their copy of Ausubel’s “Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty” at the ready, I was an English major who didn’t even know the author’s name of the talk I was attending. It’s Ramona Ausubel by the way, and the talk far surpassed expectations. 

Ausubel is a contemporary author who wrote “Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty,” “No One is Here Except All of Us” and short story collection, “A Guide to Being Born.” She has won many highly credited awards and her work has appeared in Tin House, The New York Times, The New Yorker and on NPR’s Selected Shorts as well as in many other esteemed locations. 

Ausubel, however, didn’t become a successful writer overnight. Setbacks sprinkled her journey as she, like many of us writers, struggled to find her voice. Ausubel told us of a writing experience in graduate school when she decided it was time to write a baseball story. Although lacking any passion – or knowledge for that matter – about baseball, she wanted to write the “timeless” and “All-American story.” Everyone loves a baseball story. 

But Ausubel quickly found herself bored. She was stuck in a rut, the dreaded writer’s block. Instead of scrapping the bland, unoriginal strike of a story, she decided to liven it up. The little boy became a little girl learning baseball from a ghost Civil War soldier in the middle of nowhere. Ausubel added quirky family dynamics and a spunky protagonist and suddenly the story everyone loved became one she did. 

That’s Ausubel’s secret: write about what interests you. Write about your passions even if you think no one else will want to read it. 

Ausubel’s specialty seems to be creative, out-of-the-box pieces. She began the talk with a reading of her short story, “Tributaries.” Inspired by a creative writing prompt, she tried to answer the question: what would happen if people showed their love on the outside? 

In the story, everyone grows love arms. Fingers and nubs spout from bodies as proof of falling in love, and, if the love is true or long lasting, entire arms form. Some people have one extra arm, some ten, some zero. A group of teenage girls dream about their future love arms, hoping to one day grow arms as some girls hope to find Prince Charming. One girl jokes that her grandmother had seven love arms even though she was only ever married to her grandfather. The story takes the idea of love handles to a whole new level.

Now, had I just read “Tributaries” in print, I may have written it off as an odd story. It’s not everyday you read about grown men bragging about their extra limbs … well … However, hearing the words from the mouth of the author who drafted them gave them an entirely new meaning. Ausubel is like her story – kooky and creative. She is in love with her work and she, like the love arms in her story, wears her passion for everyone to see. 

Ausubel inspires me. Here is this writer – living in a world where rejection runs rampant and the rulebook for writers simply states “Don’t do it!” – who writes for passion and pleasure. She writes for herself, knowing that she maybe the only person who enjoys the finished product. 

When Ausubel was in graduate school, she had a realization while reading canonical authors who pushed the boundaries with their creative flair. “Wait, I can write that?” Ausubel said the more she read. 

I had a similar realization listening to Ausubel’s talk. Wait, I could write about a civil war ghost? I could write about phantom love limbs? Or even, I could write about my own passions? Huh. And according to Ausubel, we writers can and should.

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Oles win nine straight, claim first round bye

Registration only leads to disappointment

Pandora’s box of stress opens for St. Olaf students when registration does. What starts as a simple “What classes are you taking next semester?” turns into a not-so-simple “What number are you out of 28 in that BTS-T class when ranking it first?”

If I don’t get my BTS-T this semester, I have to take it next semester, and then I won’t be able to take my EIN until senior year, but I probably won’t even be able to get into that class because #registrationsux. Too personal? Too personal. 

The entire registration weekend constitutes of either grandiose or soul-crushing expectations. Every St. Olaf student falls into one of these two categories. 

In the first category, they have elaborate plans for their future based off the fate of one class. They think “if I get into Jennifer Kwon Dobbs’ Journalism class, I may have a promising future as a journalist at the New York Times or, even better, the Manitou Messenger.” For this student, their future is only as promising as the outcome of their class enrollment. 

On the opposite side of the spectrum lies the student stuck in a downward spiral of thought. This student thinks, ‘If I don’t get into that class, I won’t be able to complete my major, which means my lifelong dream of being a horticulturist won’t come true, I will end up living on the streets of Northfield and eventually die of sadness and hypothermia.’ Nightmare stuff, really.

And the nightmare seems endless, especially when there are monsters out there who have yet to register, yet to take our places and our futures as horticulturists with just one click of a button. To the four percent of students that are not “participating as of the last moment on the last day of registration,” I want to utter my sincere condolences to your family … after I pull a Liam Neeson from “Taken” on you. It is because of you, four percent, that I have been kicked out of classes that I thought were guaranteed. 

I try to imagine your reasons, four percent. Maybe you’re a thrill seeker, taking a break from entering Stav without an ID, who delights in clicking ‘add new schedule’ moments before registration closes. Maybe you’re power hungry and feed off the pure panic in your peers’ eyes, secretly grinning at your 1/16 spot. Maybe, despite the constant reminders to “sign up for classes!” from your classmates, professors and that dreaded email system, you forget. 

Whatever the reason, I hope one day the system glitches and reveals the secret 4 percent, revealing you students as you truly are: evil. 

Yet registration is a game of chance, a lottery per se, and as lotteries serve both the good and the wicked equally, we Oles have to take our fate into our own hands. First, take advantage of pre-registration. Pre-registration is predestination to a glory-filled future; however, the beautiful combat to the archaic registration game only applies to specific classes. So the next step would be schmoozing the professors. Professors here are more than willing to help out so, prior to registration, prepare questions, go to office hours and just talk to them! If you’re still out of luck and can’t get into your beloved class, add it in the last 5 minutes. Most people would rather play it safe than risk losing a class, so they’ll switch classes and comfortably settle for their second choice. Yes, this makes you as monstrous as the evil 4 percent but sometimes you just have to play dirty to win the game. If all else fails, have backup schedules. If you don’t have a few classes on the backburner, you’re just asking for disappointment. 

Honestly, when it comes to registration, prepare for disappointment. Students who desperately need classes for their GEs or majors must rely completely on a randomized number. There is only one thing more horrifying than a lottery deciding your class future – a lottery deciding your living situation. Room draw…now that’s a nightmare. 

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Oles win nine straight, claim first round bye

New Champion of the Hill crowned

“And the 2017 Champion of the Hill is … Jon Hollister!” emcees Christian Conway ’18 and Swannie Willstein ’19 announced after a successful Champion of the Hill performance on Friday, Oct. 6. The Ole tradition is like “Miss Congeniality” for all genders. 

“It’s basically like our version of a pageant. So there is an escort part and there’s a talent portion where contestants do a talent and there’s a fashion part and a question part and, at the end, someone gets named Champion of the Hill,” Maria Lind ’19 said. Lind is a member of the Student Activities Committee which ran the event along with all the other Homecoming Week events. Lind ran Champion of the Hill with Brigid Duffy ’20.

 “We started planning [the event] in August and people on the Homecoming committee came early to school to work on things and it has been picking up since school started,” Duffy said. “We had meetings every week …. You have to book the space, you have to talk to the contestants, you have to figure out logistics and stuff. So a lot goes into it but I think it’s going to be super rewarding when it’s all over.”

And Oles were excited to see the talent. “The tickets sold out really fast and my friends were lucky enough to snag me an extra one,” Emily Bukowski ’20 said, hoping for a riveting performance.

“I’m looking forward to some creative acts and we will see how things go [judging by] the crowd response [and] by their talent level,” Men’s Basketball coach and Champion of the Hill judge, Daniel Kosmoski, said. Kosmoski judged Champion of the Hill along with Pastor Katie Fick and SGA President Jauza Khaleel ’18. All three were first-time judges, but Fick would be, as Willstein said, “judging these contestants with the will of God.” 

It seemed the judges needed God’s help to decide with such an array of talent from the nine contestants. From Julie Johnson’s ’19 carrot cannibalism act – she dressed up in a carrot costume and ate carrots – to Bjorn Anderson ’20 cooking pancakes onstage, the acts ranged from funny to creative to just plain random. 

Every performer seemed to be the winner. Rein Ripperger ’19 defeated a Carleton student in his act: an Ole vs. Carl WWE wrestling match. 

“Nobody – and I mean nobody – talks sh*t about Carla’s omelets,” Ripperger said after throwing the Carl into a table. 

Contestant Sophia Spiegel ’19, who got runner-up, already proved herself a winner during her act. After a captivating cello performance of the Game of Thrones theme song, Speigel used her bow as a sword and, destroying her fellow musicians in a sword fight, crowned herself. 

Even the emcee, Conway, was a winner. He danced with a hula hoop and Willstein awarded him the runner-up medal she received at last year’s Champion of the Hill. It was a touching moment and it felt as if everyone could be a winner.

But there could only be one Champion of the Hill. 

“Tonight, victory happened for me,” 2017 Champion of the Hill Jon Hollister ’19 said after the show. Hollister approached the night looking for redemption from last year’s Champion of the Hill where he was not victorious. During Hollister’s act, he dressed in drag and danced to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).” Even in four-inch wedges, he didn’t mess up the dance once. However, he does admit to toning down his dance moves “because Pastor Katie is here,” Hollister said. 

Hollister won the popular vote, taking home the title. Yet there are some Oles who disagree with the judges’ final decision. 

“Personally, being in Steve’s sketch, I wanted him to win. But if it wasn’t Steve, I would have wanted my pod-mate, Rein,” Austin Brown ’19 said. Steve Magagna II ’19 performed an “Ode to Taco Bell” rap and made it to the final three.

Kjell Redpath ’20 also disagreed with the choice of champion. “I think it’s fixed. I think it’s all rigged. It’s all an inside job. Bjorn Anderson should have been the winner and Rein should have been the runner-up – actually either-or but those two,” Redpath said. A member of SGA confirmed that the show is not, in fact, rigged. But, no matter what the audience says, the judges have spoken. 

“I’m a winner, baby!” Hollister said.

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Oles win nine straight, claim first round bye

New Pause s’mores milkshake brings no boys to the yard 

Nostalgia works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, it hits us when we least expect it. I, for one, already feel nostalgic for late summer nights, keeping warm only by the heat of a bonfire. I long to feel the clouded, stinging smoke, to smell the bitter mosquito spray (our only defense against those little monsters), and to hear the laughter and joviality of friends I’ve known my entire life. On nights like these, my only worry is the state of my toasted marshmallow. Is it golden brown or have I scorched it to a crisp? I know it has only been about a month since summer, but there is some- thing dreamy about a time without homework, windchill and 7 a.m. alarm clocks. In the midst of first essays, second tests and the fifth week of school, I could really use a s’more.

I was more than excited to write a review on the Pause’s newest milkshake: the s’mores shake. Did I need an excuse to eat a Pause milkshake? No. Unsurprisingly, I often frequent the Pause Kitchen, snacking on pizza or nachos. Pause cookies, with their gooey, undercooked center and chocolatey deliciousness, seem to be more food made by the gods rather than the student kitchen staff. So, I was more than ready for the Pause’s next brilliant invention.

I descended onto the Pause Kitchen with an open mind and a hearty appetite. Then the nostalgia hit: a fire crackled in the center of the cement floor, my childhood best friends sat around chit-chatting, and the faint stench of bug spray wafted towards me. Alright, so maybe the nostalgia didn’t hit me quite that hard, but Lord Huron’s “Night we Met” was playing in the Pause Kitchen and I was feeling some serious campfire vibes.

I sat down with my s’mores shake, made an attempt to take a less than awkward candid photo (actual awkwardness captured above), and took the first sip. After my brain rebooted from a mini brain freeze, I marked the words, “sweet, but yummy,” in my handy dandy notebook.

But, as a real critic (I’ve learned everything I know from food critiquing knowledge from “Ratatouille”), I swished the shake around my mouth, making sure every flavor got a chance to high five all my tastebuds. The next words I wrote down were: soupy, sweet, fluffy, sweet, refreshing and (you guessed it) sweet. Even for me, a girl with a whole set of sweet teeth, the sugared cream funneling through my straw was overwhelming. Surprisingly, the marshmallows hidden throughout – a food whose main ingredient is sugar – were a welcomed alternative to the sugar rush of the milkshake.

From Pause milkshake experience (I consider myself an expert on the subject), I am used to, and often enjoy, the soupy sugar rush contained in the teal and violet paper cups. The high sugar-to- milkshake ratio did not disappoint me, but the low s’more-to-ice cream flavor did. Marshmallows? Check. Graham crackers? Check. But wherefore art thou chocolate? Chocolate is arguably the best part of a s’more. My first word was “chocolate,” so when I couldn’t find the rich, chocolatey delicious- ness inside my s’mores shake, I was severely disappointed. With only a drizzle of chocolate over the whipped cream top, the shake could have drastically improved. Alas, the only chocolate lay in the ice cream, and even that was sub- par at best.

The more I drank of my shake, the more disappointed I became. The mini marshmallows churned through the shake began to freeze, becoming as hard as Lucky Charms marshmallows. The graham crackers, crumbled up and dispersed throughout the shake, quickly mimicked the consistency of a soggy sponge. And the whipped cream left a sugared layer on the roof of my mouth. The shake was more reminiscent of cereal left too long in milk than a s’more.

As for nostalgia goes, the s’mores shake just didn’t cut it. The lack of chocolate left this chocoholic unsatisfied. But as milkshakes go, Pause shakes still impress. I would recommend this shake to any sweet toothed ice cream lover. The refreshing shake may just give you the needed break from writing that first essay. But, if you’re looking for the reminiscence of a summer s’more, I would recommend buying a bag of marshmallows and renting out the Thorson fire pit instead. 

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Oles win nine straight, claim first round bye