Archive for June, 2011

River Flicks

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Every summer, parks across the city hold screenings of free movies, usually starting at dusk. One of the best places to catch one of these free showings is at Hudson River Park. There are two HRP options for moviegoers, River Flicks for grown-ups, shown on Wednesday at the Pier 63 Lawn, and River Flicks for kids, shown on Fridays on Pier 46. The movie selection is great, including such recent hits as The Social Network, Toy Story 3, and (what I’m personally most excited for) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Perhaps you saw this movie when it came out last August. I certainly hope you did because it was hilarious. You guys have probably all seen the trailer: Scott Pilgram, played by Michael Cera, falls for the alluring Ramona Flowers, yet has to duel all of her ‘Evil Exes’ in order to date her. Maybe you’ve grown tired of Michael Cera’s awkward-teenage-boy-who-tries-to-get-the-girl act, or perhaps you enjoy it now more than ever (The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg sure still has me going), but in either case, I think this movie is worth your time. The exes that Scott has to battle (including his own ex-girlfriend, Knives) keep the story moving and the laughter flowing, from the guy who has psychic vegan powers to an ex-girlfriend bitter from being labeled an ‘experimental phase.’ Throw into the mix a funny gay roommate, an ex with the power of mind control, a constant garage band musical background, and a comic book theme to tie the whole thing together, and you’ve got something for every viewer.

And best of all, you can see it for free! It’s playing on the Pier 63 Lawn on August 10th, and I’ll try my best to be there. Hopefully you’ll get to see one of the films too.

Movies start at dusk, often around 8:30 pm. The full schedule of movies follows:

@ Pier 63:

  • The Social Network, 7/6
  • Easy A, 7/13
  • The Kids Are All Right, 7/20
  • The Other Guys, 7/27
  • The Fighter, 8/3
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 8/10
  • The Town, 8/17

@ Pier 46:

  • The Karate Kid (2010), 7/8
  • Despicable Me, 7/15
  • The Princess Bride, 7/22
  • Toy Story 3, 7/29
  • How to Train Your Dragon, 8/5
  • Shrek Forever After, 8/12
  • Tangled, 8/19

Some other parks that also show movies over the summer are Bryant Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1, Coney Island, and many more. See some more listings here and here.

If you’re out with friends for the night, I’d suggest grabbing some food from Café Mercato, since it’s right near a few of the parks that are showing films.

/elizabeth Kaleko

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How to Take Back Your Summer

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

One might assume that the summer months would provide plenty of free time to recharge those overworked batteries after a long school year. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily true and if you’re not careful you may find yourself experiencing a complete system overload. There are internships to find, jobs to attain, and a variety of restaurants and bars that must be explored. Not to mention you have to reconnect with all the wonderful people you love to spend time with but have been neglecting thanks to end of the semester obligations. Before you know it, it’s already July and you feel more sleep-deprived and worn out than you did during midterm exams.

"Has anybody seen where my summer went?"

Don’t despair if this story is sounding familiar, as there are still two more months of vacation left. And if you need to hit the brakes on the runaway train that’s becoming your summer, the best thing you can do is block out some time for relaxation. It may feel weird to pencil “me time” into your calendar, but us motivated, on-the-go young adults tend to be so busy we’d probably forget to breathe if it wasn’t a basic function keeping us alive. So whether your rejuvenation period includes sitting on the couch watching bad TV or getting a massage, any kind of pampering is a nice, and most likely needed way to de-stress. It’s also a great bonding activity to share with friends.

If chilling out at a spa is your relaxation method of choice, then just use a little forethought in your planning to avoid spending too much money. Going to the spa doesn’t have to be a harrowing financial experience any longer with student discounts and savings all over New York and other cities. For instance, Floris Salon on 5th Avenue is offering students free manicures with the purchase of a pedicure. While pedicures aren’t a necessity, it cannot be denied that when the weather gets warm, everyone wants to trade in their boots and sneakers for a pair of sandals or peep-toes.  And there are few things more annoying than having to cover up your feet in embarrassment because they’ve gotten a bit gnarly from lack of grooming over the winter.  If your toes need a makeover, a pedicure could be the perfect weekend activity for you and your friends. Combine relaxation and socialization with functionality. You can label the experience “Productive Pampering” or “Pampering with Purpose!”

So this summer, between block parties, barbecues, internships, and summer classes, don’t forget that everyone deserves to be a little indulgent. Not only is it good for your mental health, your nails, back, and feet will feel better, too. And thankfully for students, an indulgent outing doesn’t have to mean you’ll be going home with an empty wallet.


-Alex Agahigian-

I have lots of other things to say

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How to Pack a Suitcase

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

When it comes to packing a suitcase the most practical of us often start defying reason. One of my cousins, despite being one of the smartest people I know, packed seven pairs of shoes for a two day trip and, of course, she ended up wearing only one pair. This need to pack a number of options either comes from the fear that an occasion may arise for which you might not be prepared or simply to have the luxury of choices. The fear can be overcome by being prepared for all likely situations and as for the latter, you simply have to face reality and learn how to come up with a well styled outfit with limited options.

The right suitcase: To pack a suitcase properly, you will first need to find a practical suitcase. The ideal suitcase for most trips would be a small roll on that you can use as a carry on. It will prevent you from waiting at baggage claim and from losing your luggage. Try getting a lightweight one that looks different. Also, carrying a large handbag or an extra tote, if your handbag is small, is always a good idea when travelling.

Checklist: Once you have a suitable suitcase, the first thing you will need is a checklist of all the things you wish to pack. When making the checklist, be mindful of the weather of your travelling destination and consider all the possible situations you might have to face. My mother always says that no matter where you are travelling, you should have at least one outfit fit for formal occasions.

Products: Limit the amount of products you will carry by purchasing the travel sized versions of the products that you use or by getting a set of travel size bottles which can be found in almost any drugstore. Be sure to label them and to wrap the liquids and creams in a zip lock bag to prevent spilling.

Clothes: When deciding which clothes to pack, do not forget to count the outfit you will be wearing when you start off as you can wear it again during your travels. To increase your options, pack separates like skirts, pants and tops that you will be able to mix and match and create new looks with. You can pack a dress that you can wear for both casual and formal occasions by changing the accessories. If travelling for more than a few days, try to pack cotton t-shirts and other such clothes that you can easily wash and dry in your hotel room – it will save you laundry expenses and keep your luggage light. And, try to keep in mind that clothes like jeans weigh a lot, so it is best not to pack too many of them if you have a weight limit to maintain.

Shoes: At all cost, refrain from packing more than two pairs. When you think about it, you do not really need more than three pairs. You can have a pair of comfortable heels that you can walk around in and use for a formal occasion, should it arise, a pair of flats which can be either ballet flats or open toed ones and, a pair of sneakers if your travels include athletic activities. If you wear one of these shoes and pack the rest in your suitcase, you have your three possible options for shoes.

Make-up and jewelries: Also, try to limit your make up and jewelry options by carrying only the basics. For instance, a pair of hoop earrings will go with almost every outfit. And, you might want to carry your jewelries and make-up in your large handbag along with a book or a magazine for your entertainment.

Placing items in your suitcase: Try to put your camera and cell phone chargers in the side pocket of your suitcase to avoid misplacing them. If packing dresses, lay them out at the bottom of the suitcase with the neckline and the hem line sticking out of the two sides of the suitcase, then place your other belongings on top of the middle portion of the dresses and then wrap the ends of the dresses on top of them like a bundle – this way you will avoid creases and save space. You can also roll up your t-shirts at the end and use it to fill the empty gaps in your suitcase.

If you happen to break your camera or phone while you were travelling, you can get them fixed at Photo Tech with a 10% student discount.

Bushra Tawhid

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onValues: Am I Supposed to Be An Adult Now?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

For about two weeks at the start of this spring semester, I walked around campus with a navy ceramic mug in hand, my oxford shoes sliding over ice encrusted sidewalks and wool coat collar flapping against my chin.  I’d just spent my fall in London.  I only drank tea from the mug, which I did every morning on the walk from my dorm to my awful early morning class at 11.  It was a Look.  Then I slipped on some ice and spilled hot tea all down one leg, so the navy reusable, environmentally friendly ceramic mug retired to my window ledge.  I got a haircut, and I abandoned the chic-absurd European look for more college-friendly snow boots and sweatshirts.

the kind of look/impression/people I was trying to evoke

College is all about reinvention, whether fashionably for two pretentious weeks during the winter of junior year, or religiously for a while (as one of my friends became an evangelical Christian around the same time that I sought to represent Camden Town on our campus).  There’s the standard academic branching out: “There’s a class on African Dance that fills the physical exercise requirement and the social analysis requirement.  Let’s take that.  Also, it’s African Dance.  When else but college?”  You can become even more of a theatre geek (and within that there’s the Straight Plays camp and the Musicals camp), you might spend a summer in Korea and change your major to East Asian Studies, you might go to your first rave and spend the rest of your undergrad career learning how to DJ.  The college age is a volatile time in our lives; we have to create new identities to present an entirely new set of people.  College is the perfect environment for fertilizing our newly freed personalities; all the options are presented to us.  Every group wants you to join them, and we can reinvent our personalities and interests to better suit the people we wish we could have been in high school if it wasn’t for the small town/administration/parents.

I’ve been thinking a lot on the trajectory of my college reinvention lately, because I’m about to become a senior and the entire process of reinvention is about to start again—but this time without the impunities of undergraduate lifestyles.  I used to flake out on projects I didn’t really care about (let’s say I agreed to help because a friend of a friend asked); now I just say no if I’m uninterested.  I used to worry about the changing social scene of upperclassmen, and now that I’m an upperclassman I try my hardest to ignore the drama that so consumed my sophomore year.  My nights were filled with different friend groups and different plans.  But there’s a sense that anything I do from here on out goes down on some permanent record.  My pretentious Anglophilic phase won’t have a chance to resurface once I join the real world—professional mornings have no room for whimsically out-of-place utensils.  No room for quirky Salvador Dali-printed wallets.  Chipped white summer nail polish—perfect for blacklights—will have to be either retouched or removed every weekday.  I’ll have to reinvent a working personality and a personal personality.  I can favor the trend for white skinny jeans, still, or continue cultivating my place in the English major spectrum of graduates, but on my off-hours.  The task of establishing where I stand on postmodern minimalism, keeping in mind the impression it will make on other students and the judgments associated with my stance and the works that I’ll have to cite to explain my opinion—no longer my full-time job.  I have to choose now.  Will I be that flaky person senior year who everyone expects to flake?  Will that carry over in interviews and other jobs?  Am I the type to cheerfully champion what I know and ignore the rest, or will I bore my co-workers with the minutia of my personal research on Verizon versus T-Mobile, in both network coverage and variety of phones offered?  I might have to get recommendations from these people—I better figure out my work persona soon.

Of course, this dreadful sense of permanence is sort of panicky and young.  People change.  There are always new first impressions to make.  But I still feel that college is the best time to start over whenever you want.  There’s no better time to abandon a lifestyle—others are right there for you to pick up.  I could bleach my hair peroxide white (I’m a dark brunette) and fill my year with planning committees for formals and semiformals—I love planning parties.  I could get a tattoo somewhere conspicuous and take minimal classes and spend my fall camping every weekend on the nearby battlefields—I love camping.   Nobody cares.  And I guess I have a few months left to go through all the different identities I wanted to try on before I get thrust into that nebulous “real life” of rent obligations and job-hunting and impressing bosses that so many of my recently-graduated friends tell me about.  So I’m going to go get a haircut now (Shampoo on Avenue B has a student discount of 20% on all salon services, so maybe I’ll go there to see if I can do all the awful color-leaching processes to my hair that I want) and make plans to see a show.  Because that’s the kind of person I am this week.


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Student Eats in East Village

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Pork buns of Momofuku fame.

The sole ambition of a college student with free time is to find something to do without accomplishing anything. Because after all, it takes a lot of effort to juggle going to classes, doing homework, participating in clubs/athletics and other extracurriculars, writing papers, reading assignments; the list goes on. With so much being accomplished on a weekly basis by students, when free time does roll around, sometimes you just want to turn off your brain and find something to do that requires no effort. When all of your free time escapades succeed or fail, hunger may beckon.

Whether you dorm or commute, there are reasons to covet a decent meal. Resident students know that no matter how good on-campus eateries may be, there’s always going to be a craving for a home-cooked meal or a dish from your favorite restaurant back home. Commuter students can relate because setting aside time to eat can be tough when you have to spend time traveling to and from school.

For students of New York City, I’ve outlined a few recommendations for when that free time rolls around:

  • Pommes Frites – If you are ever in the mood for a simple snack, Pommes Frites is the place to go. They specialize in making delicious Belgian fries, cooked to a perfect crisp. They offer a generous variety of sauces (20+) and they are a must have with your order, especially if you’re looking for a change of pace from ketchup, mayo and mustard. Service is quick and they even offer samples of the sauces before you pick so take advantage. Located at 123 2nd Ave between E. 7th Street and St. Marks Place
  • Punjabi Deli – I have had my fair share of Indian food and can safely say that Punjabi Grocery and Deli is an excellent spot if you’re craving Indian food or looking to try it for the first time. Be forewarned: much of the food is pretty spicy. But it is one of the most inexpensive Indian food joints and they offer various vegetable Indian specialties over rice or roti, samosas and even chai tea. It’s a small establishment, but definitely worth trying once. Located at 114 E. 1st Street between 1st Ave and Ave A
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar – Momofuku is definitely a unique Asian fusion establishment. It is a popular spot for dinner so you should definitely expect a wait or arrive at opening. Their ramen noodles are delicious, though a bit pricy. You can enjoy a large dinner of two whole fried chickens (one southern fried, one Korean fried), however the chicken is by reservation only. If all else fails for you here, you may find solace in ordering the pork buns. They are so good you are going to want to place an order of pork buns to go after you’ve tried them. Located at 171 1st Ave between 10th and 11th Streets
  • Oaxaca – Oaxaca Taqueria comes to Manhattan after seeing success with its 3 Brooklyn storefronts. The restaurant is sleek and clean upon entering and they have plenty of interesting taco options from chicken, pork or fish to vegetarian selections like potatoes or beans. They also have great savings during taco happy hour featured on the coupon posted below. Definitely check them out if you’re looking for tasty, cheap tacos. Located at 16 Extra Place off of E. 1st Street

–Christopher Cusack, Hofstra University

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Wilfred, the Man-Dog Show

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

I’m not a huge fan of tv, but when a good show comes around I can’t resist the desire to work my day around getting home to catch an episode. I watch True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Dexter; all shows that require me to spend quality time at my sister’s house every Sunday night because my house doesn’t get HBO and Showtime. I’ve noticed that I tend to seriously follow only elite shows. But the average college kid doesn’t get the premium cable channels that such shows often run on, and as the summer ends and my precious shows run over into September, I have to scramble to find internet sites that will allow me to illegally watch movies and tv episodes that my basic cable college television prevents me from seeing. I even had to start buying movies from DVD Funhouse because I no longer had access to my sister’s massive movie collection.

I needed to find an alternative, find a show that wasn’t so hard to keep track of, no matter what season it was. All spring I gave every show a shot. I watched Swamp People, Deadliest Catch, Say Yes to the Dress, 16 and Pregnant (Yikes!), Intervention… the list goes on and on. If a show aired in March or April, I probably caught an episode or two of it. It wasn’t until last week that I caught the season premier of the show Wilfred on FX. The show follows a man named Ryan (Elijah Woods) that after a failed suicide attempt begins to see his neighbor’s dog, Wilfred (Jason Gann), not as a dog but as a man in a dog costume.  To everyone else, Wilfred is just a dog, but to Ryan, Wilfred is a trouble making, foul-mouthed Australian man. Wilfred has come into Ryan’s life at the time when he needs him most and gives him courage to go on with life. Though Wilfred is very smart, he’s a dog, and his animal instincts and doggy habits make him an incredibly funny character.  I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when Wilfred begins chasing after a car screaming “I’m going to kill you!!!!” and when Wilfred and Ryan are out to lunch and a waitress asks “does your dog normally eat nachos?” and you realize how crazy Ryan must feel.  By the end of the episode, Wilfred smokes a pack of cigarettes (he states he smokes because he has an oral fixation) and frames Ryan for breaking and entering their neighbor’s house.  The show continues this Thursday at 10 pm. I know I’ll be catching it. Will you?

-Jackie Aqel

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Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Summer vacation is by far the longest break of the year, as it should be, of course, but contrary to popular belief, some aspects of the lengthened time span are not always positive ones. What I’m talking about are parents—those old, often heterosexually paired people who inhabit your house, encroach on your personal space, lay down the rules, and maddeningly prevent any privacy.

While winter and spring breaks are short enough to prevent Child Verses Parent outbreaks, summer does not have that time privilege. Since returning to the dwelling location of my parental units, “Leave my alone” has become a main staple in my verbal diet, muttered under my breath as doors closed, or shouted aggressively into their faces, it’s a phrase that can be uttered in many different circumstances.

I’m sure that almost every teenager who’s had to deal with parents has likewise had to deal with the consistent nagging that comes along with their presence. Sometimes it’s enough to drive me up a wall. But recently it’s been driving me up a wall and back again, getting under my skin far more than it has before. I believe I can account this to two main reasons: The first being that I’ve tasted independence in my first year at college, and have now had it rudely stripped away; the second being that fact that I’m on crutches, which has lead my parents to hover around me much more than they would have regularly.

Starting with the first reason: a return from college stripping me of privileges. This reason is much more universal, and I’m sure you’ve experienced it. The initial shock when you find out you are once again bound to a curfew, or the dread which sets in when your discover you can no longer write your schedule yourself. It varies from household to household, but it’s always present in some degree.

It’s immensely difficult for me, at times, to remember that my parents are only trying to look out for me, and do what’s best. Being forced to return home by 1:30 am seems like the end of the world when the rest of my friends can be out until 4, or 5, or later, but I don’t really think my parents would devise a special plan with the specific purpose of ruining my social life (would they?). Getting used to being under house rules is a drag, I know, but I just have to recognize that some battles can’t be won, and soon I’ll be back at college, and then off to live on my own, anyway.

The second reason, my crutches, is where things get tricky. As my family members try only to help me through difficult tasks, I can’t help but be driven crazy by their constant baby-ing. I know that they’re only trying to help, but it gets really tiring having them leaning over my shoulders constantly, even if it’s only to ask if I want their help. And I know it’s harsh of me to blow-up on them angrily, but can’t they see that I’m going absolutely crazy being unable to do things for myself, and that if I’m angry, they should just leave me alone? Yes, I should be more patient, but they, too, need to recognize when to back off and let me try to function on my own.

Being at home is all about giving and taking, relearning how to function in a complex environment that isn’t always centered on your own desires. It is overly frustrating at times, but a necessary skill to have, because it can be a lesson expanded to many different endeavors in your future. And if things ever look a bit too hectic to handle, just head to one of the great spas with student discounts offered by Campus Clipper, and pick up on the family sessions after a massage.

/elizabeth Kaleko

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Storm King

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

I never even realized that I liked sculpture gardens all that much– until I visited Storm King Arts Center. My parents wanted to take my grandmother somewhere interesting, since she’d come all the way from Japan and had, for the past few days, only been to the grocery store.  My dad in particular, who speaks no Japanese, wanted to do something that everyone could appreciate equally, since the language barrier is most problematic for him. So this past Sunday, my parents, my grandmother and I packed into the car and headed to Mountainville, NY.

Several sculptures by Mark di Suvero

After pulling into the parking lot, we piled out and looked around. Storm King is enormous—wide and grassy, with a pond on the south side and incredible views of the Hudson Highlands, with sculptures of every kind scattered throughout its approximately 500 acres.  We had no idea where to start, so we asked one of the Arts Center employees with a helpful and appropriate “Ask Me” button.  She told us about the tram that drives around the park from designated stations; we decided that would be the best way to experience the park, particularly for my grandmother.  The tram is a perfect way to get an overview of the park, especially for those who have never been, like us.  For visitors who’d rather walk, there are plenty of trails, and a station to rent bicycles. There are also tours available, but visitors are encouraged to explore on their own, at their own pace.

It honestly left me in awe.  I had no idea I would enjoy it that much; I’m the type of person who goes to art museums about once or twice a year and loves the experience, but doesn’t actually visit any more frequently.  But Storm King is basically a giant, widespread, colorful and gorgeous playground, and anyone who is even slightly interested in sculpture or just likes being outdoors would love this place.

Kiss, by Darrell Petit

From the tram, we passed many of the major sculptures, from Mozart’s Birthday, by Mark di Suvero, which looks slightly like an unwound elephant, to Darrell Petit’s Kiss, in which two giant pieces of granite incline quietly towards each other and touch. There were sculptures that moved, such as George Cutts’s Sea Change, which is unimpressive in photos but looks remarkably like ocean currents when in motion.  Other amazing works include Maya Lin’s Storm King Wavefield, a work of environmental art that sculpts the landscape itself to look like waves (Maya Lin also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial), and Lichtenstein’s Mermaid, the racing boat painted in 1995.

After doing the basic tour by tram, my parents and grandmother headed to the Visitor’s Center and Museum while I went back to my favorite sculptures by foot.  They are absolutely incredible in person, unbelievably enormous and unique against the landscape.  I wanted to pitch a tent and stay for a week.

Storm King Arts Center is a bit of a trek and it costs to get in ($8 for students, $12 for adults), but it is absolutely, 100% worth it.  My family came in the late afternoon, but there are plenty of places to picnic; next time I think we’ll pack some sandwiches and make a day of it.  I don’t think we’ll be bored for a minute.

Ana DiCroce

(Image credit: Ana DiCroce)

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Screen-Printing On A Budget

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Excess ink is scraped off the screen and saved for later

Like many college students, I’m currently matriculating only thanks to a generous scholarship. During the school-year, academic and extracurricular success tends to outweigh my motivation to find a job, and the lack of transportation bars me from most part-time or full-time work. Money is tight for college students these days, but that’s no excuse to neglect your American entrepreneurial spirit. Being your own boss means more responsibility, but the ability to mold your working hours around your free time is priceless. In my first few years of college, I found a decent scheme to make pocket money: screen-printing.

What is screen-printing, you ask? If you’ve ever seen a graphic t-shirt or a poster for a concert, chances are you already know what a screen-printed product looks like. The process is quite simple: take a wooden frame and stretch silk over it until it’s taut. Then, using a chemical amalgam which hardens when exposed to heat, create your desired design on the silk. When ink is forced through the screen, only the portions without amalgam allow the ink through, thus replicating your design as many times as you’d like.

Although professional-quality screening with chemical amalgams can be time-consuming and require expensive equipment, it’s quite easy to duplicate the process using contact sheets (essentially plastic, with one side coated in adhesive). Simply trace your desired design (backwards) onto the contact sheet, and cut the unneeded parts out with an x-acto knife. Apply the sheet to a silk screen and you’re ready to start making some shirts! A dorm shower affords a great space to not only wash off the silk screen between printings, but to hang shirts to dry. For best results, hit the freshly-dried designs with an iron on low heat. This helps preserve the design by bonding it with the fabric, so that it doesn’t come off in the wash. Buy shirts in bulk in a variety of popular sizes, and get an idea from other students (= potential buyers) of what sorts of designs they’re interested in.

Popular and recognizable characters make great subjects

The only problem with using contact sheets is that they degrade rather quickly. However, you’re guaranteed at least twenty or thirty printings if you treat your screens with care and wash them off with cold water, as hot water can remove some of the adhesive that holds the contact sheet to the screen. For an even cheaper option, buy the silk by itself, make your own screen, and do the stretching yourself.

All of the materials you’ll need to go into business as an on-campus screen-printer are available at Dick Blick Art Supplies, including silk screens, contact sheets, and fabric paint, and bulk t-shirts can be found easily on Ebay. Keep in mind that each screen will allow you to print one color at a time, so the more screens you buy, the more involved your designs can be. Look up a tutorial on color-separation screen-printing if you’re interested in making more complex pieces.

Bryan Menegus

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Grandma Love

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Kay Thomas: A Living Legend

My grandma is an indestructible force to be reckoned with. She’s a 76-year-old Italian woman with a sailor’s mouth and bones that won’t break (she recently fell off of a ten foot tall gazebo that she was repairing and was completely fine.) At every family gathering, she sports a “Beer Pong Legend” t-shirt and is the first to get a game started. And after she found out I switched from fastfood junkie to health-conscious vegan, she went out of her way to ensure there was a separate section of veg food on the table whenever I visited. If the previous sentences don’t make it obvious enough, allow me to be clear: I love her dearly and can only hope that my 60s and 70s will be as entertaining and awesome as hers have been.

Anyway, last summer, she and my mother helped me move from my Upper East Side apartment to my 25th street abode. Unlike my old place, my new home was a four-floor walk up. It made getting my dresser, chair, bed, etc. up the non-air-conditioned building and into my room an exercise in patience. My mother and I complained with every step as we tested how much heat and weight a human body can stand before it gives out. While my mother and I struggled to bring up odds and ends, dismantling furniture in the hopes it would ease our climb, Gram was barely breaking a sweat. She probably did the same (if not more) work than my mother and I combined.

She also came prepared, having bought me cleaning supplies and a vacuum. Knowing that I am domestically challenged, she made sure to explain the different kinds of cleaners, and demonstrated how to use them. After we settled things as best we could, we realized it was midway through the afternoon, and everyone was starving. Though our hunger was present, our exhaustion dictated that if we were going to find a place to eat, we would need to go somewhere nearby. Hot, tired, and ready to devour the first edible thing we came across, three generations of Thomas family women trekked a block south to ‘Inoteca. It ended up being the perfect choice.

The majority of the menu was in Italian so my grandma impressed everyone with her bi-lingual skills. And our inability to decide on one item from the menu wasn’t a problem, as we were able to split several different dishes including some incredible bruschetta. Although ‘Inoteca isn’t the cheapest of places, you can use the coupon featured below to get a great discount.

When family visits, sharing a meal can be difficult if you have some picky eaters in your group. It’s nice to have a few go-to places that you can always suggest. And whenever you can use a student discount, you will probably get bonus points with your family. Not to mention, they may be more inclined to slip you a $20 when they depart, as Gram did before she and Mom headed back home.

-Alex Agahigian-

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