Tag: weekly column

St. Olaf Sentiments: April 24, 2015

Its common knowledge that St. Olaf College is superior in every meaningful and tangible way to our dear friends over at Carleton College.

Gone are the days of the 1930s, when students from each college would fight it out in downtown Northfield, in scenes of destructive violence the Oct. 18, 1961Carletonian edition indicated that one store owner claimed his glass window had been smashed eight times from 1923-1936 due to the colleges students clashing.

Fortunately, we no longer have to resort to these brutish displays, but there are several other ways that Oles still reign supreme over Carls.

1. Athletics: do we even need to bring this one up? Its often said that the St. Olaf-Carleton rivalry is mainly about sports, but its not really fair to call something a rivalry if one side wins basically every time.

Sure, Oles will occasionally be kind and let the Knights win the odd game of volleyball or tennis to keep their spirits up, but most of the time, its not even fair.

Our friends do like to celebrate these rare victories in fashion though. For example, last year, following a late goal in a soccer game between the two colleges, several Carls raised their middle fingers, and even pulled down their pants to reveal their bare buttocks in front of the Ole fans in celebration. Talk about seizing the day.

Luckily for us, their hair basically touched the ground and obscured most of their pale derrières from our view. It was the first time in my life Id ever appreciated awful hippie haircuts.

2. Food: Its all in the numbers. Go ahead and take a look at the Princeton Reviews 2015 edition of the “Best 379 Colleges,” and youll find St. Olaf comes in at #5 in the Best Campus Food category. I dont even know where Carleton ranks, because whats the point of looking past the top 10 to see who all the losers are? A Carl might argue back, and say something about how great their entrance SAT scores are over there. But you know what, I cant eat an SAT score, so I really couldnt care less.

3. Fictional Alumni: lets just compare two fictional alumni from each of the two colleges. Carleton has Ben Wyatt from the television seriesParks and Recreation. I hate that show, and I think its stupid. St. Olaf has Jay Gatsby fromThe Great Gatsby. I like that book. St. Olaf – 3. Carleton – 0.

4. Geography: its time to consider the most basic reason that were superior. Were on a hill, and theyre at the bottom of it. You know what else was built on a hill? Ancient Rome, and that was pretty cool, wasnt it?

Basically, what Im getting at is that if both schools decided to go to war, it would be easy for Oles to repel the invading Carls. I know, its a hypothetical, but you never know when theyre going to get sick of eating their inferior food and decide to attack.

There are a lot of other reasons St. Olaf reigns supreme over Carleton, but I cant list them all. I have things to do, like interact in a non-socially awkward way with my friends, make eye contact with people, do something athletic or eat good food. You get the point.


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St. Olaf Sentiments: April 17, 2015

Treasures in the College Archives

St. Olaf is considered to be one of the most haunted college campuses in the United States. The college’s archives department routinely gets calls from television shows and other requests for information. In addition to spooky tales, there are many interesting and rarely talked about stories and objects detailing the extensive history of St. Olaf.

In the days of old at St. Olaf, when people like Mohn and Kittlesby were walking around, there was an outbreak of Scarlet Fever. Professor Ytterboe decided that the contagion was in the men’s bathroom in the basement of his namesake dormitory. To get rid of the cause of the disease and protect his students, the concerned professor decided to burn chemicals in the bathrooms. He did this for around ten weeks in the fall of 1903.

Unfortunately, while burning the chemicals, he did not open the windows or leave the room. Professor Ytterboe died a few months later, in February of 1904, as a result of formaldehyde poisoning. The man who had been beloved by St. Olaf faculty and students died on campus with his nervous system severely compromised.

In the early days of the College, many families lived on campus. These were the families of faculty. In fact, many families started at St. Olaf; around half a dozen babies were actually born in Old Main.

Some college practices have, thankfully, come to an end. According to an alumnus’ diary, in the early 1900s, female students had to be in their dorms by 10:00 p.m. and have their lights out by 10:45 p.m. In addition, if a gentleman wanted to take one of the ladies out to spend some quality alone time with her, he would have to meet with her “housemother” first. These processes gradually ended.

Some St. Olaf traditions have come to an abrupt halt in more dramatic ways than others. The Homecoming Court was discontinued at St. Olaf when a few disgruntled students entered a large female farm pig in the race for Homecoming Queen. “Alice Swineson” became homecoming queen in 1969.

However, Swineson did not get to wear the queen’s crown and it was donated to the college archives in 1972. Several students have had the opportunity to try on the ornate crown.

“If students come down with a little bit of notice, I am always happy to show them our treasures,” said Jeff Sauve, college archivist.

Sauve is caretaker to this treasure trove of college history. The college archive includes roughly 2,000 linear feet of manuscripts, 5,000 photographs, 700 videos, 1,000 audio recordings and one silver crown.

Two coins dating back to the time of the Roman Empire are among the rarest items in the archives.

“We have one coin dating to around the time Of Jesus’ birth and one dating to the end of the empire,” Sauve said.

These objects were a surprise find in papers given to the St. Olaf archives by an alumnus who was an art collector. Alumni have bequeathed most documents in the archives. This ensures that there are always interesting items such as 80-year-old locks of hair – and even teeth – in the basement of Rolvaag Library.

Along with collecting and assessing historical documents, the archivist’s duties include undertaking projects to preserve the history of the College.

Coming out this summer is a “Sight Story Mobile Historical App,” a virtual tour of historical – and present day – St. Olaf College. Included will be 28 sights with a plethora of information.

The information includes, but is not limited to, audio clips, pictures, biographies, video clips and tours. This was made possible with a grant from the Minnesota Legacy Collection. The goal of the project is, “to make new information available and dig into the story of St. Olaf.”


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Music on Trial: A grand paradox of old and new music brings balance

Iam lucky to have a handful of friends I can go to for new music suggestions and on whom I can count to make me feel too mainstream and under-informed when it comes to what “good” music is.

I am lucky to have friends who are orchestra nerds, who seem to know every movement of every symphony, string quartet and concerto ever written. I am lucky to have friends who make fun of me for how little I know about jazz, but will patiently help me learn. I am somewhere between these passionate sides, and my music taste has developed to be a little bit of each of my friends’ and peers’ tastes combined with mine to be a set of CDs and playlists I am incredibly enthusiastic about.

In middle school a.k.a. the glory days of rampant insecurity, I was intimidated during the school week that I did not know the pop music my peers did, and then I was intimidated on Saturdays when I did not know as much classical music as my youth orchestra peers did. I was caught in the middle and, honestly, just trying to figure out what music to put on my hot pink iPod Nano.

Once I got over the fact that I thought I “should” have a certain taste in music, the adventure of finding and listening to music became way less overwhelming and way more fun. To me, listening to all of the classical music I “should” know is incredibly daunting. When I have to choose which violin concerto to play next, I cannot spend more than two hours deciding because, woah, violin concertos can get pretty annoying after a while. This is the same with any music; Deadmau5’s “Ghosts and Stuff” will always hold a special place in my heart #highschool but I’m not the kind of person who can listen to only Deadmau5 endlessly.

I actually love the balance of classical and current music for the same reason I love working on science homework in the music library and music homework in Regents; I don’t want to fully commit to just one side and style, because I don’t want to have only one side to my interests and knowledge.

I care a lot less now about fitting into someone else’s taste in music; I might seem unenthusiastic and noncommittal to a type of music or style, but that doesn’t mean I have bad taste in music I might have bad taste by your standards. It just means I’m enthusiastic about my own weird mix.

So here is a list of my favorites that have very litte in common except for the fact that I like them.

  • Modest Mussorgsky: “A Night on Bald Mountain” [1867]
  • Bae Tigre: “Now or Never” [2014]
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 [1824] Anyone who tells you should listen to the whole thing in one sitting while doing nothing else is right. I never believed people when they told me until I actually did it once and never turned back.
  • Aaron Copland: “Fanfare for the Common Man” [1942] Trying to pretend your life is a movie and looking for that epic soundtrack? Look no further.
  • Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra: “Punk With An ‘X'” [2009]
  • Walk the Moon: “Shut Up and Dance” [2014] Because I have no shame in liking mainstream popular music, and this is a catchy song perfect for a road trip playlist.
  • Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2 [written between 1888-1894]
  • Culture Cry Wolf: “Come Come” [2010]
  • Foxy Shazam: “Oh Lord” [2010]

With that, I encourage you to listen to whatever music you like – because whether you think you have good or bad taste in music is irrelevant, as long as you like what you listen to and it’s not Nickelback. If you haven’t yet had a dance party with your roommate to Atmosphere’s Sunshine [2007] celebrating this beautiful spring weather yet, you’re doing spring wrong.


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Censorship is ███

“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist,” novelist Salman Rushdie once famously proclaimed. Every time we think about Rushdie’s words, there’s one thing that comes to mind – working for the Manitou Messenger.

Yep, that’s right. There is no place where the freedom to offend is more limited than in a Lutheran, private, liberal arts college newspaper. It’s more important to sound positive and encouraging than it is to tell the objective, harsh truth. It doesn’t matter how many points the football team loses by; it was a “valiant effort.”

The latest student play sucked? What a wonderful opportunity it was for students to display their talents. Half the student body is criminals and thieves who steal property from the Caf in the form of mugs? It’d be really appreciated if you could please bring them back, guys.

You see, everything gets dressed up nicely, rather than the cold, hard truth being put into print. We think it’s high time to break free from political correctness and convey a few of these cold hard truths to our fellow Oles out there.

We’ll be surprised if this article even sees print. Already being in the gender minority on this editorial staff, we’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles, only to have our voices stifled. Here are a few examples of ideas that have been crushed:

1. We all either know of or have experienced the sensation of defecating slightly whilst passing gas. We would argue that it is a vital and unavoidable part of growing up. However, God forbid we use the socially acceptable term for this aforementioned act. See How Authors Respect Truth?

2. Satire is “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” While this seems like a straightforward and overarching definition, the tyrants at the newspaper have found a way to redefine the word solely for the sake of extending their tyrannical powers.

Imagine this: a young, aspiring, handsome, cool, hot, talented Variety editor for the Manitou Messenger strides confidently into the office with a great pitch for a satire article.

He describes his idea about writing an article detailing the fictional event of a school administrator, whose initials resemble a public demonstration of love, tweeting a picture of a not-so-flattering part of his body.

Everyone laughs and falls in love with said editor. Then the executive editors come in and rip up his pitch in front of his tear-filled eyes. They hate fun. They hate laughter and good ideas. There is only so much we can do.

3. The censorship isn’t exclusive to printed words; even our office conversations have been attacked. The other day, someone made an observation and said, “he is rocking out.” One of us said, in response, “he is rocking out with his caulking out.” Panic ensued. They told us that “caulking” is the line. What? The simple act of closing up joints and gaps in buildings is now off limits? We need serious help.

4. Every time a male member of the staff tries to speak out in a wonderful embrace of his physical characteristics, he is quickly shut down. If there’s one thing that it’s hard to be in the 21st century, it’s a male who’s proud of what he possesses physically, and this office is a microcosm of wider society.

Can any brothers out there who’ve felt ashamed to boast of their special body parts give me an amen? Don’t be scared; don’t be silenced. You’re bigger than this.

While we joke and kid, we’ve both absolutely loved writing for this newspaper while spending time with all the Beautiful Journalistic Ladies on staff and are glad that articles like this are allowed to be published.

– pelegano@stolaf.edu and nolans@stolaf.edu

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New season brings new music to local area

Spring is the season of things coming anew: from green leaves on trees, to baby robins hopping around campus. Music is no exception; this season brings new songs and performances from artists both local and worldwide.

Last Saturday, St. Olaf College Poetry House hosted a benefit concert at the Flaten Art Barn, featuring campus bands Merino Wool and Fringe Pipes, along with the new and upcoming Tasha Viets-VanLear ’15 and Aleksander Seeman ’16. The Art Barn recently changed its policy on the maximum number of individuals it can contain, so a decent crowd showed up to support the house and the campus bands playing. The concert opened with Viets-VanLear and Seeman with some edgy and soulful vibes with carefully constructed lyrics, only to be expected of a resident of the Poetry House.

Merino Wool, featuring Nick Baker ’15, Zach Westermeyer ’15, Ryan Heltemes ’15 and Christian Wheeler ’16, is always worth listening to, with its classic, yet upbeat sound and a strong bass line to boot.

The band had no trouble making the audience dance with “Made for Each Other,” among other tunes. Next came Fringe Pipes, with Jay Carlson ’15, Elliot Tadanier ’15, Christian Wheeler ’16 and Colin Loynachan ’16, establishing a presence with intense guitar riffs and wailing vocals in the best way possible with plenty of hair flipping from all gathered in the barn.

As for new music in the metro area, Minneapolis’ favorite hip-hop collective Doomtree released a new album, All Hands at the end of January. The group blends a unique mix of influences and styles all the way from rap to punk to pop into impressively woven lines and beats. The group also is one of the few hip-hop collectives with the presence of a female artist, namely, Dessa. If there’s one track to listen to off the album, it’s “Gray Duck.”

Artist Laura Marling, hailing from across the pond, is releasing her fifth album in a span of seven years on March 23. Marling has already been established as master lyricist and expert acoustic picker, but her new album Short Movie will be accompanied by a series of videos called the “Short Movie Sessions” where Marling transforms her beautifully dark winding acoustic picking into potent electric sounds, accompanied by her always poetic lyrics. Check out singles, “Short Movie,” “False Hope” and “I Feel Your Love” if you’re getting antsy. From good old NoFo to the other side of the Atlantic, there’s good music this spring all around.


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