Category Archives: Features

The Features section caters to everything you need to know about culture on campus and the Louisville community. Here we explore the arts, student events and the latest trends that make U of L unique.

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Five quiet places to study on campus

By Simon Isham—

It’s finals season. You’re at the home stretch. For many of you, your ability to graduate is contingent upon you passing your finals. So we, the Cardinal staff, put our heads together, as well as our collective 64 years of college experience, to come up with a list of the best places to study on campus. We need you to pass your tests. And we need you to get out of here. Seriously.

5. Quiet Floors in the Library

This one’s a no-brainer — or it should be. In our non-scientific poll of U of L students, a discomforting number have not ever actually visited the library to study or research. Let us point out once and for all that the 3rd and 4th floors of the library are quiet study floors. There are desks and chairs around the periphery of the rooms, which are as great for studying as well as napping. Just be sure that if you are going to sleep in the library, you secure your belongings; put the strap of your backpack or purse around your leg before dozing off. We can’t tell you how much stuff gets stolen in the library because of inattention.

4. Bingham Poetry Room

Because who really likes poetry, anyway? No one — or at least, not many — which is good, because it means hardly anyone will be in there when you go in to study. Last semester, Cardinal writer Ginny Washbish lauded the Bingham Poetry Room as the best place on campus to take a nap when nothing is going on in there. From what we here, we imagine it would be pretty good for napping during the room’s regular programming, too. The room is located in Ekstrom Library, and is down the hall from the Media Desk, on the east side.

3. Music Library

The hustle and bustle of Ekstrom Library just too much for you? That’s because students from all majors tend to use it. Break away from the norm: check out your books from Ekstrom, then head over to the School of Music’s library. While you might think the audiophilic music majors might make this place a lot louder than it has to be, it’s actually quite peaceful. Then again, if music helps you study, you can probably check out some Brahms or Beethoven to make your study experience more enlightening.

2. Texas Roadhouse

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This is probably the most perplexing structure on campus. Modeled after the popular steakhouse, this shell of a restaurant does not actually offer food. Perhaps, at one point, it did, but I am too caught up in the bizarro mystery of it all to ask anyone who’s been here longer than I have. Texas Roadhouse is located in the basement of the School of Business, and is used by a few business students to study during the day. And this appears to be its sole purpose, besides perhaps subliminally hinting that you should go and get a cactus blossom instead of actually studying. And if you get the munchies or need to make some copies, there is a small room off to the side equipped with a microwave and a photocopier.

1. Speed School Spot

This took some shoe-leather reporting, because this started as a rumor. After walking through all of the accessible floors of the classroom buildings at Speed School, we determined that it probably referred to either the second or third floors of Vogt Hall. Largely populated by professor offices, this building is completely and utterly silent. In the third floor, just as you enter from the elevator there is a niche with a desk and two chairs that would work very well for a study session. In the hall, there is plenty of bench seating with beautiful views of campus. And — though we’re not sure if it’s available for student use, and assume no responsibility if it turns out it’s not — there is even a kitchen space at the far end of the hall. We can say that, on our visit, the door was propped open and nobody was around. Food for thought.

Bonus: The Louisville Cardinal Office

This is our personal place of choice to study for finals. Located in the basement of the Houchens building, it is just five minutes away from most of our classes, and from the SAC. Quiet? Check. Secure? Check. Count you in? Sorry, but you do have to be a writer or photographer for The Louisville Cardinal in order to use our office for study purposes. The good news? Anyone can write or take photos. We are always hiring, so feel free to drop us a line if you’d like more info about what we do.

Photos by Simon Isham

Book review: ‘Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere’ by Poe Ballantine disappoints, exploits

By Sammie Hill–

Enticed by the title and the fact that Cheryl Strayed wrote the introduction, I decided to purchase Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere on iTunes and read it on my phone, since both Barnes and Nobles in Louisville didn’t have it in stock.

Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, advertised as a memoir entwined with a true crime story, chronicles the author’s life in small-town Nebraska, where a startling and mysterious death prompts Ballantine to launch an investigation of his own into the case.

Though he has settled down with a wife and child in the small town of Chadron, Ballantine recounts his earlier days spent as a restless drifter, a failed writer, a bright but unmotivated student and a suicidal vagabond. The now settled down Ballantine, intrigued by the death of his community member and in need of a topic for his new book, strives to solve the case himself while reflecting on the experiences of his own life.

I finished the book in one day. I didn’t want to stop reading it for two reasons: because I wanted so badly to like it, and because I wanted to see the case solved. However, I finished the book with a sense of disappointment.

Although at times I felt enchanted by Ballantine’s language, I also found myself put off by his egocentricity and tendency to cycle through the same repetitive information. I kept hoping his book would amount to something, that I would feel satisfied after flipping through 656 pages on my phone, that the book would move me and blow my mind and break my heart. But it didn’t.

Ballantine decided to write this book before he even began investigating the case. He then invested time and effort into his amateur investigation, and he wanted to sell a book as a result.

However, there just wasn’t enough about the case to generate an entire book, and it seems as though Ballantine fused the genres of memoir and true crime because neither one would be substantial enough to stand on its own. Together, however, they just didn’t make a lot of sense, and left me wondering what his purpose was in writing the book at all.

Ballantine’s stories of his past, while diverse and intriguing, didn’t seem to tell me much about him. He tell us he was restless; he tells us he was suicidal; he tells us he’s lived in a thousand different places, moving around every few months because of self-loathing and an unwillingness to settle down. But for some reason, I still never got the sense that he was writing with true vulnerability, with raw honesty. He claims throughout the book that people found him difficult to trust, and I can see why.

Though he claims to be self-loathing, his stories always seem to paint him in a positive light. For example, one day he takes his son to the park, and his wife—depicted as cold, confused and incomplete throughout the book—insists on leaving after 20 minutes, but Ballantine refuses, and he and his son stay while she leaves “without a word.” His son can’t sleep one night because of a cough, so Ballantine decides to give the five year old a mixture of Bailey’s Irish Cream and ibuprofen; when his wife objects, he portrays her as rash and over-dramatic for being concerned about this home remedy, while he smugly points out that his son woke up feeling uncharacteristically refreshed and well-rested the next day.

Meanwhile, for only about the last half of the book, Ballantine interjects information about the case he is investigating. The case, morbidly fascinating due to the circumstances of the man’s death, kept me reading after I had tired of Ballantine’s thinly veiled endeavor to convince the audience of his strong character.

However, Ballantine’s inclusion of the case in his book is exploitative. He investigated the death of a virtual stranger, revealed intimate details of the man’s life and gruesome details of his death, and published a book about it against the wishes of the family of the deceased.

Ballantine challenges the family’s conclusions about the man’s death, suggesting that it was a murder rather than a suicide. He cycles through the same evidence and same theories that serve only to re-open the family’s wounds and to sell the book. To give favor to his own theory, Ballantine belittles the deceased man’s struggle with depression—in fact, he trivializes the concept of mental disorders in general.

Ballantine’s book, and the documentary based on it, continues to bring up this tragedy, prohibiting the family from attaining a sense of closure. Ballantine criticizes the family for not wanting to find out the truth, while the family—who actually knew and loved the deceased man, unlike Ballantine—insists that they know all there is to know, and just wants to put the tragedy behind them.

They want their loved one to be remembered for his life instead of for a sensationalized story of his death, told by someone who never even knew him.

After I had gotten into the book a little bit, I considered including it in my “Best books to read in college” column. Ballantine has talent as a writer, some of his experiences would enthrall college students, and his autistic son Tom is cool as hell.

However, after I reached the inadequate ending and read online about Ballantine’s decision to pursue the case and publish the book against the family’s wishes, telling the story in a way that interferes with their sense of closure, I abandoned that idea.

Yes, Ballantine has a right to tell the story of the man’s death, but if you ask me—and the family—it is not his story to tell.

The book as a whole almost seems purposeless except to convince Ballantine of his own insight and importance. Thus, while he did impress me as a writer, I would not recommend this book to others out of respect for the family of the deceased, and because of the overwhelming sense of disappointment with which it ultimately left me.

 Photo courtesy of vimeo.com

For those interested, this comment thread includes a discussion among members of the deceased man’s family and Ballantine himself: http://hawthornebooks.com/blog/article/poe-ballantine-on-the-documentary-love-terror-on-the-howling-plains-of-nowh

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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ stars to appear at Headliners in ‘Battle of the Seasons’

By Simon Isham—

Did PINK at U of L whet your appetite for drag queens? Have you been hanging out at Play Dance Bar on Wednesdays? Then you’re going to want to keep reading, because the girls of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are coming to Louisville. I talked with Mimi Imfurst, who will be DJing the show; Michelle Visage, a “Drag Race” judge who will be host; and Pandora Boxx, a queen who will be performing.

Have you ever been to Louisville? What did you think?

MI: I have. I had a great time. I was there for Pride two years ago. Everybody was treating me like gold. I’m really looking forward to coming back. I remember that the food is great. I remember they took me to a really awesome kind of Southern hospitality barbecue place that was amazing. I’m going to try to find that. The last time I was there, I literally did a drag show in the middle of the street. I was doing a performance, and I ran outside. I literally had the DJ play “Car Wash.” I grabbed a balled-up rag and some Windex and ran out in the street and started washing cars. People were like, “What the hell is she doing?”

MV: I have been to Louisville, Kentucky. It was the very first stop on the Milli Vanilli Tour in 1990. I was very young, and so overwhelmed with the fact that I was doing a national tour and opening for the biggest act in the world at that time. I didn’t see much of Louisville; I was just like, “Someone pinch me!” I haven’t gotten to see any of your beautiful city!

PB: I have, actually. I was there a few years back. I loved it. I had a great time. One of the things I noticed is that people love to drink there! I do like to drink, but there were an obscene amount of shots.

You’re coming in just a few days before Derby. Do you plan to stick around?

MI: That’s what I heard. Of course, the Derby is all about the hats, but we drag queens are all about the wigs. That would be the real competition — who has the better dresses: the Derby ladies or the drag queens?

MV: Yay! So I should bring a hat, huh? And I got hats!

PB: As soon as you started talking about it, I remembered, because I was there around the time of the Kentucky Derby (last time I was in Louisville). I didn’t get to see it because it was such a quick visit. I wish I had been there longer. But it’s all about the hats, isn’t it?

What are the best and worst parts about touring with a group of drag queens?

MI: The best part is that you get to see so many great places. The worst part is that you don’t get to see so many great places. But you get to share it with a whole bunch of Drag Race girls who understand a really unique experience.

MV: What I like best about it is that we get to see the fans’ connections to these queens, up close and personal. And the other thing is, when you come to see them live, not only are you going to be floored at more impressed than you were before, even if you go, “Oh, I knew she  could do all that.” I guarantee there’s going to be a moment with another queen that maybe you didn’t like or didn’t know anything about. Your mind is going to be completely blown and opened … I just make sure everybody’s happy, especially the queens, so they don’t become irritable and awful. It doesn’t happen often, though. But a lot of them think, “Now I’m on TV, so now I’m a superstar.” We’re here to give (them) a wakeup call, because it ain’t like that! It’s pretty fun to watch … Some of these kids will complain about accommodations or mode of transportation. Like, have any of you ever toured? And they’re like, “No,” and I’m like, “Then you need to shut up, because what we’ve got here is an amazing situation. You have no idea what it’s like to share a room with five people. To ride around in a Ford Fiesta, like a clown car. You honestly have no idea what it’s like.” I’m there to be the mother, the reality check … We’re not just clowns — well, we are, but we’re talented clowns!

PB: It’s amazing, because I’ve been to all these cities that I’ve never been to before, and really big venues that we would probably never get to play by ourselves. So it’s really great. And the crowd responses have been incredible. It feels like being at a rock concert. I feel really blessed to be a part of it. The best part of it is getting to see all these amazing cities. The worst part is no sleep, and travel.

What am I going to see at the Louisville show?

MI: What’s great about the Drag Race girls in real life is that you get to see what we really do. You know, the show is fun, and there are crazy challenges, but you never get to see what we really do. You’re going to see drag queens doing knife juggling and eating fire and walking on stilts. You’re going to see drag queens singing their original songs and doing group numbers. You’re going to see all kinds of crazy things … the art form itself exists on breaking rules.

MV: Ivy Winters! She’s a full-on circus performer. That’s what she did before she got into drag. She eats fire, she juggles knives, she walks on stilts, she’s really quite breathtaking. She does something different at every tour stop. She doesn’t like to get bored with her stuff, and she changes it about. She’s also a really great singer and she doesn’t really do that because people get so enamoured by the circus performing.

PB: I’m still putting together some of my performance, so I don’t know exactly. I have a few more weeks before — I’m changing things up a little. You’ve got to keep things fresh because otherwise you get bored doing it. And I’ve been working on some new music, so I might incorporate that on this tour. You can expect to see something entirely new — but maybe the same penis jokes, but everything else will be new.

MI: Michelle Visage is so funny as a host. I think if we get her drunk enough, she’ll do a few songs.

MV: Mimi’s being funny because Michelle don’t drink. I’ve never drunk a day in my life. And yes, I sing on the tour. I only do one number because I feel like I’m there to host the event. I do perform.

PB: We all have this expression whenever she says something. We just go, “Oh Mimi.”

Other performers I didn’t talk to who will also be in the show are Jinkx Monsoon, Sharon Needles, Ivy Winters, Carmen Carrera, and Phi Phi O’Hara. This all goes down at Headliners Music Hall at 10 p.m. on April 27, with a VIP meet and greet before the show at 8 p.m. General admission is $30 and the show is 18+.

#BadRoommate: Cardinals share their bad roommate stories

“My best friend and I were roommates at one point. He is a pUKe fan. I came home from work one evening to everything UL in my room had been removed and replaced with UK crap. Everything was changed: my blankets, my posters, even the wallpaper on my laptop was changed, all to UK crap. That was definitely a bad roommate in my book.”

“You know how we had those single digit temperatures all winter? Yeah, my roommate refused to keep the heat on at all.”

“Okay, I walked in on my roommate watching pornography and masturbating, and saw everything. I left and didnt come back until two days later! The worst part is we never even said anything about it. I just left it alone.”

“My roommate last semester was very attaching towards people and since we lived together she was very attached towards me. But a little too attached.  The worst thing was she had sex while I was in the room literally like all the time. I counted 32 times while I was AWAKE. Most nights I’d sleep elsewhere even though she said “she doesn’t mind when people watch.” After this it went down hill. I had a big final test in the morning that I was studying for and she was having sex with some girl. I got so mad that I said she needed to leave if they were going to do that. It got so out of hand we had to call a RA to keep her calm. Then the last day I lived with her was because she came up to me and said ”I LIKE YOUR SKIN” literally scariest thing ever. I told my RA and she had a week to move out.”

“I had a roommate who liked to pretend that she never farted or pooped. So whenever she would audibly fart she would pretend it was something else, like her bed or her chair.”

“My old suitemates used to have their ‘male company’ in the shower, and I would often hear it as it was happening. But what made it worse was the fact that one day as I was showering I reached for my shampoo and noticed some gooey white stuff all over it. When I looked closer at the area where my shampoo had been I then realized that the white goo wasn’t shampoo, conditioner, or body wash, it was penis vomit.”

“I live with a group of filthy f**** who refuse to clean up after themselves.  Trash piles up and dishes stay in the sink for weeks with food on them. The apartment smells like someone died pretty often. I have started throwing away their dishes if they stay in the sink for more than a week.”

“I have this like pumpkin spice air freshener. My roommate hates it and sometimes passively aggressively yells at me because it smells too much like cinnamon. Like, what?”

How to: decorate your dorm

By Olivia Krauth–

When I came to Louisville, I went all out when it came to my dorm; everything had to be perfect. With a recently implemented freshman live-on policy, many new students were, and still are, in the same boat. Navigating the world of dorm decor can be quite the process, so here are some tips to hopefully make it a bit less stressful.

Check out Pinterest. This should be slightly obvious. With thousands of real-life examples, color schemes and checklists, you’re bound to find something you like. It’s also a good place to store all of your ideas in one area.

Make everything match. I’m not an interior designer by any means, but I think it’s a general principle that a room looks better when the colors go together. Try having a main color and two accent colors.
Go on a crafting spree. Crafts are good for dorms for several reasons. They tend to be cheaper than store bought stuff, they’re more likely to match what you already have, and they are much more personal. Pinterest has tons of DIY ideas that you can try out.
Cooperate with your roommates. If you have roommates, try and contact them before the semester starts to see if you can decide on a color scheme (and who is bringing the mini-fridge, TV, microwave, etc.). It’ll help your room look more cohesive, because just because all of your stuff matches doesn’t mean that the room will look good if it clashes completely with your roommate’s stuff.
Don’t go overboard. Moving out and living on your own (kind of) is exciting, don’t get me wrong. But keep everything in check. Chances are, you won’t need multiple bulletin boards, a mini blender, and a 40-piece tupperware set. Remember you can buy stuff in Louisville if you need to (we have Targets here).
Pack in seasons if possible. While you’ve heard this about the clothes you’re bringing, you might not have heard it for decor. If you plan on celebrating holidays via decorations, there’s no need to bring your mini Christmas tree with you when you first move in in August. You’ll just have to store it until December, taking up valuable space.
Lists lists lists. Keep a list of all of your ideas, as well as the things you need to get. Without a list, you’re more likely to forget that you need or already bought something, causing you to go without or with way too much.
Leave room to grow. You’re going to make friends here. You’ll take pictures, go to events, make memories. You’ll want to remember them. If you immediately cover the walls when you move in, you won’t be able to show off your new memories. Definitely keep this in mind when deciding how much you want to decorate, and what exactly you want to decorate.
Don’t forget bathroom stuff. Miller, Threkheld, and Unitas residents: this doesn’t apply to you. To everyone else: you most likely have your own bathroom, or at least one you share. Don’t forget to bring a shower curtain, bath rug, etc. so your bathroom doesn’t totally look like a prison.
Think of the walls. Fun fact: dorms are tiny. Even if you’re lucky enough to be in a single room, they’re still pretty cramped. Try thinking up when looking at storage and decor options. Also remember that some dorm walls are cinder blocks, which command hooks have a hard time sticking to, making decorating difficult.
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The Grove faces worries, prepares for incoming residents

By Olivia Krauth–

The newest off-campus student housing option, The Grove, is preparing for it’s first year on campus – and with residents.

With nearly 600 students being forced out of on-campus housing due to the housing lottery last fall, demand for off-campus student housing is growing. The Grove noticed, responding with 252 rooms and the ability to house 654 students beginning in August.

“Based on our research of Louisville, we identified a significant shortfall in the availability of purpose-built student housing in the area,” said Hayley Cook, a media relations representative for Campus Crest, the student housing developer in charge of The Grove.

Students are taking advantage of the new option. “My roommate for next year didn’t get the on-campus housing lottery, so we had to live off campus,” said freshman Ann Wood. Wood says she picked The Grove based off of prices and availability.

Sophomore English major Emily Klein said she fell in love with The Grove after taking a tour. “I just felt like I could really call it home,” said Klein. “I also loved that it was brand new and that it was really eco-friendly.”

Although students are signing leases at the new complex, it is far from ready for move in day. While construction is visible at the future spot of The Grove on Fourth Street, the building is incomplete.

“We are pleased that construction is going according to plan and The Grove at Louisville is on track to be complete by the start of the 2014/2015 academic year,” said Cook. 

While The Grove may be confident in their construction progress, some students are concerned that their room won’t be ready before the scheduled move-in day of August 23, the Saturday prior to the first day of classes.

“Yeah, I’m kind of worried,” said Wood when asked if The Grove’s construction progress bothered her. “My parents are worried about it, too.”

“If it’s not done by move in day then where are all these people going to live?” asked Klein. 

Cook noted that this timeline excludes any inclement weather, as well as any other events that may hinder process, leading some to wonder where residents would be placed. At  the time of press, no back up plan had been presented to future residents or the Cardinal. When asked if this bothered her, Wood replied, “I mean it does worry me, but I remember when they were building the SRC and it didn’t look like they were going to get it finished on time, but they did.”

For more information on The Grove, visit their website at Gogrove.com/louisville or visit their leasing office in West Hall.

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What a drag (show)!

By Simon Isham–

The most sickening spectacle on campus returns for its 17th year. And in this case — and only in this case — “sickening” is a good thing! Turn with me in your drag dictionaries to “S.” Sickening (adj.): incredibly amazing, excessively hot.

“We’re kind of like Lady Gaga in the LGBT Center: we live for the applause,” said Lisa Gunterman, U of L LGBT Center’s assistant director, who introduced the show. PINK, U of L’s annual drag variety show took place Friday night.

Typically, it is Director Brian Buford who introduces the show, but this night was anything but typical: Buford participated as a performer this year.

Buford was the winner of  the Making Change competition, in which students vote for the person they most want to see perform in PINK by dropping money in a bucket in the Intersection. In the production, Buford was one of a trio, along with PINK veterans Kimora St. James and Kashmere St. James. The three performed as The Dreams from the 2006 musical “Dreamgirls,” in a very dignified performance.

At the end of the song, the tip line was still so long that the show’s organizers called a 15-minute intermission in order to give Buford a chance to thank all his fans and collect the money. Buford will be donating all of the tips he received to the LGBT Center and to the Rustin Community, a social justice-themed living community comprising two floors of the University Tower Apartments.

The show was co-coordinated by two students, Johnathon Hockensmith and Alex Cooper. Hockensmith, a sophomore, also performed in the show as drag queen Jessica Silvers.

The “mother” of the House of PINK was Reva Devereaux, who has held the role for the past several years. In drag culture, a drag mother is an experienced drag queen who acts as a mentor and guide to less experienced queens.

“Let me fess up,” Devereaux said. “I almost couldn’t make it.”

She recounted the story of how, the week before PINK, she had hit herself in the face with the door of her car, which knocked out a tooth. Devereaux said she called  Buford, who told her: “Mothers can’t take off because they’re missing a tooth; you’ve got to get your butt in there.”

“All the performers tonight are donating their money to such good causes. All the proceeds (from my performances) go to my tooth fund,” Devereaux joked.

PINK 2014 included 23 performances by 18 acts. The entertainers ranged in levels of experience, from fresh-faced drag amateurs Cecil Saturn and Bebe Blaze, to Play Dance Bar playmates Spacee Kadett and Bianca Nicole. Miss Kentuckiana Pride Festival 2013, Vivica Heart, also made an appearance, wearing leopard-print leotard with a glittery bustle, and feathered hair piled high.

Music chosen for the show was Beyonce-heavy. I have included all of the tracks I could identify:

“It’s just always amazing how incredible this community is and how distinct the University of Louisville is compared to other universities,” said Keith Brooks, co-coordinator of the Fairness Campaign. Brooks attended the event, despite the fact that his organization didn’t reserve a table this year, as they usually do. “They are so supportive of LGBT students, staff and faculty. It’s really remarkable.”

When asked if he had any particular favorite performer, Brooks said, “They were all my favorites. But I was really impressed by Brian (Buford). I didn’t have any idea that he would perform. It was a very pleasant surprise.”

The event was followed by an afterparty at the recently opened Play Dance Bar, which also hosts popular drag shows.

Full disclosure: Hockensmith is a former member of the Cardinal’s advertising staff, but we’re guessing he made more money as a performer at PINK than he did as a salesman.

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Louisville Improvisors “The Foster Kids” come to Local Speed

Have you ever wanted to discover something about yourself? A secret talent of some sort? Do you like to make people laugh? Are you a quick thinker? If so, improvisation acting is the thing for you! Just to be clear, we all know what improvisation is, right? It’s basically acting without rehearsing for it.  On Mar. 14, The Foster Kids of  the Louisville Improvisers performed an improv show, hosted by Chris Anger, (of the Louisville Improvisers) at the Local speed. Upon arrival, guests were led to a small set-up, where the show was to take place.

The shows host, Anger, is a very good-natured man with a pleasant sense of humor; he moved to Louisville from the Bay Area 15 years ago, and says he has enjoyed his time with the Louisville Improvisers ever since. As the show began, Anger explained that his improv partner couldn’t be there, due to having the flu. So, he did what any professional improviser would do: he improvised.

Anger called five volunteers up on stage with him, and had them perform a series of acts. Obviously the volunteers didn’t know what he was going to ask them to do, so they had to learn to improvise, in front of a small audience. They all did a great job. A lot of people might have frozen in panic and wouldn’t have been able to think of anything on the spot but, through laughter, the group managed to entertain not only the audience, but themselves.

The activities Anger had planned included the classic “one-word story” game in which all five volunteers, and Anger, were to state a whole story with only one word each, per round. They also participated in a scenario game where one actor would act out the environment, and the others had to go along with it in order to complete the scene. Then they played the alphabet game–two people had to have a conversation using the first letter of the next alphabet letter. Throughout the show, Anger offered instruction to both the volunteers on stage and the audience, so for those of you who really do want to practice improvising, the following tips are for you. 

Some “Dos and Don’ts” of improvising:

DO: make assumptions; you don’t have time.

DON’T: Try to be funny, clever or interesting; it won’t work.

DO: have chemistry with your partner; it’s not about winning, it’s about the connection [between the two actors]. It’s not about how funny you are, but how well you can work together.

DON’T: Think. If you’re thinking, you’re not listening.

DO: Go with your first thought. “Your first thought is your best thought.”

DON’T: Ask questions. It doesn’t add information.

“Improvising is the joy of not knowing. It lets you discover stuff and add to it, like being on a date,” Anger joked as he began his routine. This was when he motioned for the five fearless individuals to stand before him. “You won’t be judged… out loud,” he assured them. “If done properly, it can be funny,” Anger promised the crowd. But over and over he stressed–so this is an important tip–”don’t TRY to be funny, clever or interesting.”

While playing the alphabet game, (which for some reason always centered around a dog or cat), Anger admitted that while teaching younger students, the common theme was always a sibling or food, “but every story has it’s own logic,” Anger stated. This old game got a laugh out of both the audience and the actors participating in the game. The experience was very different from seeing an actual comedy show because this was unrehearsed and performed by people just having fun. During the alphabet game, the two actors would frequently get stuck, especially on difficult letters such as Q or Z. Anger offered up a brilliant tip during these times: “When in doubt, name the person!” Of course. They had introduced themselves earlier but I sure didn’t remember their names. Nobody would suspect a false name used as an improv. So when one of the participants became stuck on the letter K, he began his sentence with “Katie.” I don’t know if that was actually his partner’s name, but he sure did improvise well!

Occasionally during the show, Anger would scan the audience to ask a question to begin the improvising, such as a number or a letter. I, in my awkwardness, was sinking in my seat every time because I don’t particularly enjoy speaking in front of people, which is why I realize that improvisation acting is not for me. Anger confirmed this when he said, “You want to be seen and heard.” So for those of you who enjoy the attention, here’s hoping you get a career in improvising.

At the end, Anger encouraged the audience to try improvising on their own. It could potentially be useful for real life situations like being on a date. “It’s not hard, I swear,” Anger promised before ending the show. Afterwards, one of the participants, Christina Langdon, explained her feelings about being on stage without knowing exactly what was expected of her, “I was nervous, but it was fun.” Audience member, Mary Vittow, explained that she received emails from entertainment shows offered in Louisville and was curious to see what improv was like; her thought: “it was very interesting.”

The Louisville Improvisers hosts monthly shows at The Bardstown Theater; the next show is scheduled for Mar. 22. You can also like them on Facebook, listed under Louisville Improvisers.  

Photos by Eiman Zuberi

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CNN media reporter talks news and views at U of L

By Simon Isham–

As a freshman at Towson University in Baltimore, Md., Brian Stelter created TVNewser, a blog about cable television news. Throughout his college years, the blog gained notoriety and “The New York Times” picked up his story on their cover. At graduation, Stelter knew he had a job at The Gray Lady.

Now, he has his own show on CNN, “Reliable Sources,” which airs every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. Stelter’s fresh-out-of-college success story is more than most recent graduates can hope for, but Stelter shared his experiences and tips with communication students today in the TV studio in the basement of Strickler Hall.

Stelter majored in mass communication, but said that if he could do college over again, he would not have chosen to pursue journalism as a major. Instead, he said he would have chosen to major in “history, or something for fun.”

“It’s because I learned so much by doing it,” he said. “My classes in college were essential for (media) law, for ethics, for some of the mechanics, but I think I learned more by doing it. I never thought to major in anything other than journalism, since it was what I loved since I was seven years old. But in retrospect, you only get those four years once. I would have liked to have taken more classes in other topics, like economics.

“The reason I started the blog was because I had a boring first semester. I got busier, but the blog was so important by then that I wanted to keep it going.”

During college, Stelter was also the editor-in-chief of Towson’s newspaper, “The Towerlight.”

“It’s like covering a miniature city. Universities are miniature cities. They should be as such. There are great and important stories there. What I noticed was that we could be relevant not just on campus, but in the whole community,” he said.

Stelter told students that if he were just starting out as a reporter, he would make his beat as specific as possible, such that his coverage would be “indispensable.”

In 2011 while at “The New York Times,” he was featured in a documentary about the newspaper, in which he voiced his support of Twitter as a news-gathering tool. Today, three years later, he is just as vocal, telling students who had questions to reach out to him at his Twitter handle, @BrianStelter.

Stelter is in Louisville to interview Alain de Botton this evening at 6 p.m. in the Kentucky Center for the Arts, as a part of U of L’s Kentucky Author Forum. De Botton is the author of “The News: A User’s Manual,” in which he blends modern news clippings with philosophical musings. Tickets to the event can be found for the next few hours at Kentuckycenter.org/Events/Alain-de-Botton/11618#tab-show-information-link