Oberlin Blogs

Hieronymus Bosch in a Hot Air Balloon

February 10, 2009

At the beginning of the semester, Oberlin has Add/Drop, when students can make changes to their schedules. If you're not sure if you'd like to take Human Origins, History of Medicine, or Epigenetics, you can attend all of those classes to check them out. During Add/Drop, Obies overcommit. This is inevitable. There's the Exco Fair, overwhelming and marvelous. There's a community service fair. New plays start auditioning, new ensembles grow into a niche.

For the first time, I'm going to try not to overcommit. Really.


Schedule:
Writing Project II: The Final Project (Sylvia Watanabe)
Grant Writing (Jan Cooper)
Western Architectural History (John Harwood)
Neurophysiology (Michael Loose)
Storytelling Exco (Me and Amanda "Tigerkiller" Lozada)

Independent Writing Project II
Sylvia taught Novella. Sylvia is my advisor. Sylvia is amazing. After you finish the workshop component of creative writing, you take independent projects where you meet one on one with your project sponsor. My goal: I want to put on a really exciting, new senior recital. More on that front soon.


Grant Writing
During Winter Term, I met with one of the performers and the tech director for Circus Contraption, a raunchy circus. One of the things I'm super interested and curious about is art management, so it was a good time to ask weird little questions...

Terry, Tech Doctor: Right now, we make about 80% of our income through tickets and sales.
Aries: That's awesome!
Terry: No, not really. We're just lousy at grant writing.

And then, a little light bulb flickered on top of my head. I could take a whole *class* on Grant Writing! I would have a useful skill!

After two classes, Grant Writing does seem to be super-useful. We're doing it in a hands-on manner. First, we get in touch with an organization, either personal, or a community group... then, we learn all about them, learn how to write grants, and go try to earn money. Instead of Friday class, we have private meetings with the prof, Jan Cooper, who's really sweet.


Approaches to Western Architectural History
This class is so, so good. Yesterday, we talked about the merger between classical and Christian styles, as well as the mythos of Architecture, and the oddity of a thing invented and practiced before it was named.

Quotes:
[On the linguistic origins] "We pull the thread, and, as the Weezer song goes, the sweater unravels."
"There was no TV in Sodom and Gomorrah."
"I have opposable thumbs. I'm the boss here."

John Harwood is also a dreamboat, rather like Professor Indiana Jones in the classroom scene of Temple of Doom. No matter what gender you're attracted to, there's something nice about listening to someone handsome early in the morning.


Neurophysiology
When I don't take science classes, I can feel parts of my brain start to... rot. If I were to take a lateral slice, various parts of my cerebrum would be the consistency of cottage cheese. Or Ricotta. Something creamy that you eat with melon or salted ham.

I went through the science library the other day and nearly imploded. I needed a science, like peanut butter needs jelly. So, I looked through the course catalog on Wednesday, researched open Bio/Chem/Neuro/Physics/Geology classes and saw Neurophysiology.
I really like neuroscience, and the combination of Physics and Neuro seems lovely. I've only taken one day, so I'm withholding judgment, but it seems hard and really, really good. Prof. Loose has a really clear style of teaching -- he's going over membrane potentials until they feel intuitive.

In high school, I rather disliked most sciences, excluding Biology. When the teacher started drawing equations and models on the board, I fought to stay awake. I didn't really see the applications of it; I didn't think they could apply to me. I worked hard at my classes, but my heart wasn't in it (only my pig-headed need to do well). These days, I like the mathematical component of the sciences. I enjoy learning mechanisms, messenger systems, and all the little details. I like working on my problem sets.

Dammit, Oberlin. Dammit.

Storytelling Exco (Me and Amanda "Tigerkiller" Lozada)
If you missed this entry, here's a recap on Storytelling:
I took the Exco my freshman year, taught it my junior and senior years. My co-teacher is Amanda, one of my good friends, who I got close to when she took the class her freshman year. She is coincidentally one of the coolest people in the world. We're making the course our own.

Storytelling is an interesting practice, because the narrative is clear, but audience-speaker relations can be muddied. Unlike traditional theater, we encourage a lot more improvising, more fresh, experimental jokes and uses of scenery. So, to improve that aspect, we're leading more group and theater activities. Over Winter Term, Amanda worked on "In the Blood" as tech director, but also took some improv workshops, including a week-long course on Theater of the Oppressed. Together, we've got lots of ideas.

For the first class, we did "Yes, And," a storytelling game that improv groups use a lot to teach listening and innovation. Our three groups told stories...
1. Hieronymus Bosch in a Hot Air Balloon, poisoning children with evil candy.
2. Small Woodland Creatures start an earthquake that nearly destroys them all.
3. The Knights Templar drown in a Nerf Ball Pit, after ripping a hole in the sky.

It's going to be a great semester.

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