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.

PikeFiremanChallenge

Pike’s inaugural philanthropy event: Fireman Challenge


By Anna Meany–

This Saturday marks the first annual Fireman Challenge, presented by Pi Kappa Alpha at the University of Louisville.

Stopping by Fourth Street Live on Nov. 10 will offer a look into their inaugural fire truck pull – allowing teams of 8 to 10 people to attempt at pulling their fire truck the fastest. Pi Kappa Alpha curated the event to benefit WHAS Crusade for Children, which supports children with special needs throughout the community.

Pi Kappa Alpha has high hopes that the fundraiser will earn the support of many UofL students, the community and continue to help support Crusade for Children in the future.

The Cardinal sat down with Aaron Williams, Public Relations Chair of Pi Kappa Alpha, to discuss the event.

Williams says “philanthropy is an opportunity for Greek organizations to give back to their communities.” The brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha are no strangers to local philanthropy, volunteering for after school programs at Cochran Elementary and adopting 3rd street  (as a  part of the Adopt-a-Highway program) from UofL to Main street. “Pi Kappa Alpha strives for success on the intramural field and in the classroom, but we also recognize the crucial importance of giving back and assisting our community.”

Pike invites all fraternities, sororities and other student organizations, that have the option to choose to have companies sponsor them through a monetary donation, to compete this Saturday. Williams says this promises to be the largest philanthropy event of the year at UofL.

“With WHAS Crusade for Children, we have the opportunity to accomplish just that. The Crusade has been supporting children with special needs in our area for almost sixty years, and Pi Kappa Alpha is honored to be raising money for them with the first annual Fireman Challenge.”

Contenders are still able to register at $100 per team.

features@louisvillecardinal.com

This year, U of L rose two places in Trojan's health ranking.

Trojan ranks U of L 18th in sexual health

This year, U of L rose two places in Trojan’s health ranking.

By Simon Isham–

The results of the University of Louisville’s annual sexual health assessment are finally in, and they came back positive. This year’s Trojan Sexual Health Report Card ranked U of L in 18th place, up two spots from 2011 and 64 spots from 2010.

The report card is sponsored by the manufacturers of Trojan condoms and is compiled by Oregon-based rankings and research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces, which has been rating sexual health at universities across the United States for seven years. In the 2012 edition of the report, the University of Louisville was pitted against 141 other universities with students representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This report cycle, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign came out on top, displacing Columbia University as sexual health valedictorian among their peers. Ivy League schools like Columbia, which ranked 3rd this year, are traditional contenders for high rankings in the report; Brown University placed 2nd, Princeton placed 4th and Yale weighed in at 6th on the 2012 report.

At the bottom of the list were Providence College at 139, Brigham Young University at 140. For the first time in school history, the U.S. Air Force Academy took last place at number 141.

Bert Sperling, lead researcher at Sperling’s BestPlaces, said of the Academy “It was very difficult to get information from them as a matter of policy. We were forced to look at everything through their website, most of which was behind a firewall … Last place was the appropriate rank for something like that. Brigham Young also … chose not to provide very much information to their students. For example, they provided the information that sex between unmarried students is inappropriate and that it is not their responsibility to worry about (their own sexual health).”

The report is based on 11 pieces of information about the student health centers on campus. Universities can garner a better ranking by: maintaining longer office hours; allowing students to drop-in for consultations; providing quality sexual health information; providing free contraceptives and condoms; providing free, on-site testing for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and other sexually transmitted infections; promoting lectures, outreach programs and student peer groups that deal with sexual health education; providing services for victims of sexual assault and having a user-friendly website.

A university’s resources and services are ranked on a four-point scale in each category, with the average of these sub-scores making up that university’s sexual health GPA. For example, 2012 second place winner Brown University was ranked with a sexual health GPA of 3.51, whereas the last place finisher U.S. Air Force Academy finished with a GPA of 0.9. In comparison, the University of Louisville’s GPA was 3.2.

A team of five researchers gathered sexual health resources from each of the participating universities both by telephone and over the Internet.

“Schools that did well in this year’s report card tended to score uniformly high across all categories, while those ranked towards the bottom were less consistent in category grades,” said Sperling.

Compared to other Kentucky universities, U of L is well ahead of the competition. Ranked at number 36, the University of Kentucky is slowly moving up, as is the main campus of Bowling Green University, which is currently ranked at number 69. Western Kentucky University is down 12 spots from last year, placing at number 59.

Stacie Steinbock, the Sexual Health Advisor at the university’s Office of Health Promotion, said of the rankings, “I’m thrilled that Trojan’s Report Card is taking notice of the changes we are making at U of L. I think it is notable that we have risen from 82nd to 18th in only 3 years, largely due to the tremendous efforts of the Health Promotion office. And we’re not done yet—we’re going for number one!”

Steinbock, who holds a Masters in Human Sexuality Education, was hired as Sexual Health Advisor two years ago. It was then that the Office of Health Promotion began offering free, on-campus testing for HIV and syphilis.

One of the more recent services that the Office of Health Promotion has developed is a line of sexual health education and outreach programs based on a nationally acclaimed curriculum called “Our Whole Lives”, which is published by the Unitarian Universalist Association. The Office of Health Promotion stated that the programs include not only STI and pregnancy prevention lessons, but also talk about clear communication, healthy relationships, anatomy, pleasure, and gender-specific sexual health concerns.

In order to reach the climax of the Trojan Sexual Health Report card in coming years, the Office of Health Promotion has developed a detailed plan. Steinbock said that the office would like to have more active and honest conversations and programs on campus, “so that students will indeed use the excellent services provided at our Campus Health Services such as Gardasil vaccinations for men and women, contraceptives and STI testing. Ideally, we would integrate our Sexual Health Advisor directly into the medical center to provide more sexual health counseling to students.

“We’d like to support an active educational culture around sexual health, particularly with our Housing colleagues, and diverse student groups such as international students. We’d also like to provide more anonymous sexual health advice options, such as an email, phone or text option.”

The Office of Health Promotion is located in the Student Services Annex between Houchens and the Student Activities Center. HIV and syphilis testing is available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday; according to their website, the Center for Disease Control recommends yearly HIV testing for anyone between the ages of 13 and 65. Free condoms are available in the center’s waiting rooms, with non-latex and female condoms available upon request. The HPV vaccine Gardasil is available by prescription at the office. Pap testing can be done by appointment, as can emergency contraception.

Additionally, Sexual Health Advisors are able to provide free, confidential decisions about any of the services that the office provides. The office can also help connect students to off-campus options who offer a variety of sexual health services at cost.

Sperling’s Best Places found that U of L had exemplary education programs on male contraceptives, peer groups, and STD testing, though they suggested that Campus Health Services could improve their services by extending their office hours and days, encouraging drop-ins, providing more information on female contraceptives, and improving the information and organization of the sexual health awareness website, as well as improving the website’s general usability.

Sperling qualified, “But with a rank of 18, there’s not a lot that you folks can do to improve.”

Photo: Rea Hodge/The Louisville Cardinal

ghost window

Haunted: an original ghost story

“She never sees her roommate again, just hears the other girls in the hall talk about her”

By Genevieve Mills–

She really does not like her new roommate.

The roommate, whose name Elizabeth cannot remember, one of the many things she cannot remember since the Accident, is never blatantly rude to her, but it’s the little things. Things like turning on the lights whenever she comes in, without checking to see if Elizabeth’s asleep, and taking up far more than half the space in the tiny dorm room, and never turning her TV off.

But Elizabeth supposes she is not the best roommate either. After all, she keeps having nightmares of the Accident, nightmares so bad that she wakes up shrieking but all she can remember of them is blood, everywhere. She knows that her screams wake her roommate up, and she tries to apologize, but each time the other girl just shakes her head, face white, clutching the blankets to her face until she rolls over and goes back to sleep. Elizabeth can never go back to sleep, so she goes down the hall, gets a drink of water, maybe takes a nice relaxing shower. She likes her dorm in the middle of the night, with no rude girls that bump into her and don’t apologize, and never smile back at her when she tries to say hello.

Sometimes Elizabeth tries to remember the Accident, but all she really remembers is the blood, and then bits of the hospital: her mom crying, her former-roommate panicking, doctors and nurses and clinical jargon. She must have amnesia, but she doesn’t even remember a doctor telling her that.

She really does not like her roommate, but she feels a little bit sorry for her. Because she’s noticing that since the school year started, her roommate has been getting more and more stressed. It started with just some bags under her eyes from lack of sleep, but now Elizabeth notices how the girl has lost weight. She starts leaving food around for her, with a nice note if she remembers, but later she finds the food in the trash. Whenever Elizabeth tries to talk to her about it, she just flinches before she can get past “Hi” and scurries out of the dorm. She starts sleeping with earplugs, and so Elizabeth’s screams don’t wake her up every night, but she still seems pale, thin, and stressed. There’s an air of panic about her, and one day Elizabeth stands outside the door and listens to her roommate’s cell phone-conversation with her mother, and hears the words “crazy”, “seeing things”, and “blood everywhere”.

Elizabeth feels bad about the blood, really she does, but she can’t help that either. She just seems to cut herself all the time, and she can’t always remember how, sometimes paper-cuts, sometimes nicking herself shaving, but every time it just won’t stop bleeding and she ends up dripping blood on the floor. She tries to clean it all up, but she seems to always forget at least a drop.

Then her roommate gets worse. She brings boys home every night, and leaves her things all over their room. So Elizabeth stops trying to be considerate, doesn’t bother cleaning up the blood, just throws the girl’s stuff across the room back onto her side, and has nightmares every night. At this, her roommate stops coming back to the dorm, only darting in occasionally to grab a textbook and leave, which Elizabeth is absolutely fine with, the girl was a jerk anyway.

The final straw is when her roommate stumbles in, drunk, and flips the light on, waking Elizabeth up at four in the morning. She has had it, and so she gets out of bed and just starts screaming at her, telling her all the things she does wrong, and her roommate, a weird look of terror and rage on her face, screams back. The RA hears them, and unlocks the door herself when they refuse to let her in. Elizabeth is still shouting, about personal space and consideration, and her roommate is shouting right back, about how she should just go away, when the RA comes in, looks at the girl, and, seeming confused, tries to calm her down.

But Elizabeth and her roommate won’t calm down, and so the RA comes back with reinforcements, the security guard from the desk, and drag her roommate away, the girl’s arms flailing and legs kicking wildly.

She never sees her roommate again, just hears the other girls in the hall talk about her. Things like “psycho” and “I never heard any screaming” and “imaginary blood”. They never say anything to Elizabeth, never even acknowledge her, but it seems like they’re on her side.

“Wait, wasn’t she living in the room where that girl died last year?” Elizabeth overhears one of her floor-mates say to the other.

“Yeah. That girl that had an accident, like, fell and broke her head open or something.”

“That’s horrible! People in that room must have the worst luck.”

“Yeah, it’s like, haunted or something.”

“Haunted? Yeah right.”

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Flickr/The Raggedy-man

waverly

Waverly Hills Scare-a-torium, A cleverly underplayed thrill

By Simon Isham–

The wait time to get into Waverly is roughly one hour: about the same time it takes for one Marilyn Manson album to blare over the loudspeakers outside. To keep visitors from turning back before getting inside, Waverly offers food and souvenir carts along the line, and closer to the front of the queue, they have staffed actors to give patrons just a taste of what waits for them ahead.

What waits is far more jarring than could be imagined from the advertisements, which are cleverly underplayed. The haunt played on almost every fear, from claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces, to gerontophobia, the fear of old people, from coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, to phobophobia, the fear of fear itself. A neon-colored, trippy three-dimensional experience, with uneven footing and camouflage, undoes the knowledge you thought you had¬ about the workings of time and space. And to top it off, the track takes around 20 minutes to complete, meaning that, with so much going on during every second, it’s easy to feel as though you will never escape.

Even if you do manage to get out alive, the deadly fun might not be over for you; one actor, armed with a machete, who had exited the building and was taking a break, chose to chase our group one final time into the parking lot.

Little touches like this make the Waverly experience more fun, involved and authentic than a traditional haunted house. In this way, the ticket price seems like a steal. It costs 22 dollars to experience the Scare-a-torium for your—including a parking fee, which equates to roughly one dollar per minute of terror.

It would be easy for a haunt like Waverly to sell tickets based on its reputation: after all, it’s the former site of a tuberculosis hospital where over 8,200 patients died. But the haunt doesn’t need to do that since what they are selling is a quality product. The layout and decrepitude of the building in which the haunt is located simply add to the atmosphere and mystique of the haunt itself.

It is difficult to imagine what the building would have looked like had the décor been stripped away and the actors gone home. Perhaps this is why the haunt has been such a great success this season; without the people and the set to put on the show, Waverly Hills Sanatorium is just one big empty building…with a few ghosts.

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy blackravenparanormal.com

Field pic 2012

Haunted fields provide adventure and fun

 

By Esther Lee–

Flashing bright lights. Loud roars from chainsaws. Unexpected movement around the corner. Creepy dolls playing patty cake. Blood-covered walls. I felt my heart pound at a slow steady rate. I took deep breaths to calm myself as I closely followed my friends, who were walking a little too slowly for my liking. I tried to keep my attention to our small conversations, but I felt something brush against my leg. Without thinking, I turned around only to be greeted by a red-eyed monster.

Welcome to the Field of Screams.

Field of Screams celebrated its 11th year scaring visitors in the Kentuckyana area and was voted No#1 Halloween attraction in Kentucky and Indiana. About an hour drive away from the familiar buildings and streets of Louisville to the rural, gravel roads, Brandenburg offered a great attraction for the September and October months.

Take a creepy walk through a six-acre haunted cornfield maze. But don’t let the maze scene lull you into a false sense of security,” the website explained. “Experience the Field of Screams! Not only is this a challenging maze, it’s also haunted- visitors will encounter numerous creeps, freak, and ghouls.”

The Field of Screams offered a set pathway in a cornfield for visitors to follow that led them to different sites such as a haunted doll house, school bus, and barn. Each site offered dressed actors who frightened visitors as they walked through the designated location. For instance, when inside the school bus, the continuous flashing white lights distorted the visitors’ visions and at the exit, a creepily dressed actor would patiently wait for the perfect time to pop out to startle the partially-blinded visitors. Also, in the haunted barn, there was a mini-maze with tight corridors and even an inflated balloon tunnel that forced people to walk by themselves.

The eerie and suspenseful atmosphere was set by the setting and details, such as props and costumes. The light and music distorted the sight and hearing, which made the visitors much more vulnerable. Also, we definitely can’t forget about the actors who carried out their characters to the fullest.

“[It was] one of the better haunted locations I have been to. I really enjoyed the diverse setting,” Kshitij Thapa, age 18, majoring in electrical engineering stated when asked about his experience at the halloween attraction. “But I wasn’t scared for the most part.”

The Field of Screams exploited various reactions from people. While going through the maze, I heard some people cry out in fear as they tightly clung onto an arm of a friend, who probably almost lost feeling. But others walked in front of the group and laughed at the tacky and cliché costumes. “After going to it so many times, it’s lost its fright. I’m not afraid of the people or the sounds of chainsaws anymore. It’s the same thing every year, so it wasn’t as fun as the other times,” Bianca Unzueta, age 18, undecided major, said.

Whether or not you are easily startled or enjoy suspense, Field of Screams is definitely worth a visit. “It’s something great to do with a couple of friends. Overall I had fun. Was it scary? No. But totally worth it,” Unzueta stated.

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy Field of Screams

The American Standard factory prior to renovation.

Six spookiest spots in Louisville

By Simon Isham and Anna Meany–

The Old House

The Old House is a three-story Federal style townhouse that stands at 436 S. Fifth St. in downtown Louisville. Built in 1829, the Old House holds the predictable title of oldest residence in the city.

One of the earliest buyers was Dr. William A. McDowell, a man best-known for his research into tuberculosis, with the Old House serving as both his primary residence and as his surgery. One of McDowell’s preferred treatment methods was to send his patients to Mammoth Cave to benefit from the cool, damp air. As science later proved, these conditions are not conducive to recovery, and many of McDowell’s patients would return to him with worsening symptoms. These patients would suffer through their final days living with McDowell, confined to the Old House.

After McDowell died of a heart attack, J.F. Canine acquired the house in 1868. Canine was, aptly, a dentist by trade. In order to provide his patients with the most up-to-date medical care, Canine took the liberty of installing electricity, light bulbs, steam heating, and a steam-powered dental drill. The only local anesthetic known to science in the antebellum era was cocaine, and yet W. Leigh Burton, a prominent dentist of the period, stated that he might pull 20 teeth and fill 30 cavities in a single day.

During the Progressive Era, the shallow basement of the Old House was converted into a tenement, a type of substandard multi-family dwelling in the urban core. It was neglected by the owner and sank quickly into disrepair—literally. The outside wall which forms the alley must now be supported by a steel framework to avoid collapse as a result. Largely due to the state of the Old House at the time, atlases of the era classified the neighborhood as a slum.

In 1946, the House’s tragic past was forgotten, and it was converted into a ritzy restaurant where the likes of Walt Disney, Raymond Burr, Rocky Marciano and Ronald Reagan dined. It has recently become the offices of Precision Printing. Every so often, though, people will swear they saw a curtain close on its own, saw a man appear out of thin air in the third floor corridor, or will hear phantom footsteps in the alley or throughout the house. Are they the ghosts of tenement dwellers, TB sufferers, or dental patients hoping to escape the drill? Who knows?

Louisville Palace Theater

Opened 1928 as Loew’s Theater, the Louisville Palace made its name by providing its patrons with the most popular movies in a beautiful setting. The theatre is one of the largest of its kind, seating 2,700, and has a very unusual exterior which combines Spanish Baroque architecture with art deco motifs. Its gorgeous and embellished ornamentation hides a haunted secret, however.

The Louisville Ghost Hunters Society reported that employees have repeatedly seen a maintenance man roaming about the Palace, whistling, doors opening on their own, and numerous technical malfunctions plague the Palace. Investigations proved that, in 1965, an employee named Ferdinand Frisch died of a heart attack in the basement, where the same name has been seen mysteriously written in dust.

The Louisville Palace Theatre is located at 625 S. 4th St. downtown. It still regularly plays movies and schedules concerts.

A photo of the Old University of Louisville Medical school in 1944, when the building was still used for classes.

The Old University Medical School

The building that is now the Old University of Louisville Medical School was initially constructed in 1891 as a rival to the already established University of Louisville Medical School. It opened its doors in 1893, and in 1908, it was absorbed into the U of L Medical School. The school has a tradition of innovation in medicine. For example, in 1911, the facility launched the nation’s first trauma care center, in 1970, the Pap Smear was invented, and in 1999, the first successful hand transplant was performed. But the school has a tradition of spooky happenings as well.

The medical school is home to the Wolf Gallery, a location where the art of physicians and their families is displayed. On the tile floor at the end of the gallery is a permanent stain. This stain developed when the rooms of the Wolf Gallery were still anatomy classrooms. Students would often leave the rooms carrying trays of heads or limbs which were soaking in blood or formaldehyde. Sometimes the students would let their guards down, and the solution would slosh onto the floor. After years of this treatment, the stain formed, and cannot be removed, no matter what the janitorial staff tries.

In the basement of the building is the old embalming room, which was not a popular hangout for medical students. In it was a vat in which cadavers would soak in formaldehyde in the fetal position. When a body was required, it would be removed from the vat and hung on a hook to drain into a trough. This trough led directly into the city sewer. In 1996, the basement was renovated. While redoing the ceiling of one room, workers were surprised when a body part fell out of the ceiling. The school’s coroner ruled that the part had simply been misplaced.

In the late 1930s, one student at the school failed an exam which caused him to be expelled from medical school. Distraught, the student hung himself in the school’s four-story stairwell. Some time later, his professor noticed that he had made a grading error on the mathematics portion of the test, and that the student had actually passed. The professor was so upset that he committed suicide in the same way that his student had.

Workers in the building have complained that late at night, they hear alarms go off for no apparent reason, mysterious footsteps down the corridors, doors opening and closing, and the squeaking of gurney wheels at times when no one else is in the building. The Old Medical School is located on 101 W. Chestnut St.

The Brown Hotel and Theater

The exterior of the Brown Theater, which is adjoined to the Brown Hotel, in a 1925 photo.

The luxurious and historic Brown Hotel was built in 1923 in the colonial revival style. The hotel is the birthplace of the Hot Brown sandwich, and has been the hotel of choice for famous Derby-goers such as Harry Truman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Joan Crawford. It has even housed royalty; Queen Elizabeth II of England and Queen Marie of Romania both stayed there, briefly. But the living are not the only guests at the Brown.

It is sometimes said to still be the home of its original owner, James Graham Brown, who died of heart failure in 1969. The building is smoke-free, but visitors often report smelling the faint aroma of cigar smoke at the top of the staircase. Others report seeing the apparition of a man circulating about this area, with a cigar in hand. It is said that Brown’s ghost is most likely to appear when the 293-room hotel is filled with guests for special events, such as for the Kentucky Derby and for weddings. Keep a lookout for Mr. Brown, who enjoys overseeing his hotel lobby in 1920s garb and assisting employees by pressing elevator buttons late into the night.

In the adjoined Brown Theatre, reports of paranormal activity are no less strange. Actors often pass through unexplained cold spots while performing, and ghostly figures have even been spotted on stage at times when the theatre is not in use. Could these be the spirits of Louisville actors of long ago, come to share their techniques and critiques with a yougner generation?

The cemetery’s chapel and crematorium.

Eastern Cemetery

Eastern Cemetery began its days in 1843 as the parish graveyard for the Fourth Street Methodist Episcopal Church. Five years later, the church decided to incorporate the site, modeling their land after Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Boston, the first cemetery to operate on the promise of a “park-like setting”.

The cemetery originally covered 15 acres, on which there were around 11,000 plots. In 1858, the corporation began to resell various plots, removing the headstones and marking the plots on their records as “old graves”.

In 1989, the problem became obvious. Rumors spread that coffins were buried so unsoundly that their corners stuck out of the ground. The owners of the graveyard were hauled off to prison, and an investigation was launched as to the extent of the problem. Experts estimated that an average of 7.2 burials per plot took place per plot. Remains and cremated remains are now under the charge of U of L archaeologist Phil DiBlasi, who specializes in the care and preservation of corpses.

With upwards of 80,000 dead crammed into one cemetery, it is no wonder that rumors of hauntings abound. Visitors to the cemetery have reported seeing mysterious figures appear in the chapel, and a ghostly woman who tends to the graves of infants.

Visitors are urged to take caution; the old chapel and crematorium—Louisville’s first—have fallen into severe disrepair as well, and homeless people often take up residence in the basement. Many of these homeless are intoxicated or mentally ill, so poking around is not advised.

Eastern Cemetery is located along Baxter Avenue, just blocks from the expensive Cave Hill Cemetery, where figures such as Colonel Sanders, George Rogers Clark and members of Kentucky’s prominent Speed family are buried.

The American Standard factory prior to renovation.

The Bellamy Garage

The Bellamy Garage began its life as the Louisville manufacturing headquarters for American Standard, a bathroom and kitchen fixtures company. As the factory was built in the early 1900s in the beaux-arts style, the developers of the Bellamy ran into a lot of opposition from the Louisville community when they announced their plans to level the four story structure to make way for a parking lot. Now that the factory has been repurposed, it parks far more cars than a simple parking lot could have. Still, the century of history surrounding the building has led many to wonder if gutting the building really purged it of any spirits who may have dwelt there.

Despite any evidence of paranormal activity or investigations of ghostly encounters at the Bellamy Garage, Bellamy visitors and residents alike are unable to deny its inherent creepiness. How could an old brick factory stained by years of pollution escape this list? Although the garage is lit most of the time, there is always a chance that students will be forced to wander to their cars in total darkness.

features@lousivillecardinal.com

draculathumb

Randolph Curtis Rand on being Dracula

Randolph Curtis Rand plays Dracula for the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

By Joey Yazell–

From gunshots to blood curdling screams, the Actors Theatre of Louisville has done it once again. When you’re not laughing, you’re teetering on the edge of your seat. The collective of Dracula veterans that have taken the stage could not be any more fitting. Randolph Curtis Rand as Dracula embodies the whole persona of the undead, blood craving, Count. William McNulty acts in and directs this magnificent play that he has been perfecting since first putting it on in 1996. The annual seasonal treat has kept Louisville’s heart racing for the past month, closing the curtain with its final performance on Halloween night.

Q: What does it take for Randolph Curtis Rand to become Count Dracula?

A: Well, I think at this point, it’s the fourth time I’ve done it here (at Actors Theatre), so it’s really just about getting into the makeup.

Q:It almost comes naturally for you?

A: Yeah, I mean it takes me about a half hour to forty-five minutes to get into makeup, so by the end of that time I’m ready to go.

Q: So you’ve been Dracula four times now, have they all been here at Actors theatre?

A: Yes; I have done it here four times and actually have done it once in Mississippi, the fifth time I’ve played Dracula, but the fourth time here.

Q: So you’re pretty much a professional Dracula at this point?

A: It seems to be that way, I certainly didn’t plan on it, but it has worked out that way.

Q: So you’ve been Dracula four times at Actors Theatre now, how has your past performances helped or affected your performance during this last showing?

A: Sure, I’ll tell you something about Wendy, who runs the theatre program here and is our vocal coach. She has been here ever since I’ve been here, and she commented that this time seemed to be a deeper performance. So I take everything that I’ve learned from past performances that has just seemed to sink into me and use it to improve each time. The last time I did it was 2009, so it’s been a few years since I’ve done it and that probably helps it a bit too. It’s a different perspective, time away always helps; I think anyway.

Q: So what is it about the character Dracula that appeals to you the most?

A: I’ve read the book a couple of times, the first time I read it I was in oh, about 5th or 6th grade, and it had a big impression on me. I think now what appeals me to is that Dracula is old school you know? He’s not “Trueblood”, or “Twilight”, Dracula is really a monster, and I like returning to that and reminding people that, it’s not so good to be a vampire.

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy Allan Simmons/Actors Theater

Students moving from Miller Hall

Editorial: Molding us for the future

 Students both required to live on campus and exposed to ethical hazard

“How do you like your U of L dorm?”

“It’s growing on me.”Bada-bing.

It would be easy to take a few cheap shots at the University of Louisville for the recent mold problems on campus that led to the relocation of hundreds of students in the middle of their mid-term exams.

It would be easy to say that U of L’s record amount of private funds is being misdirected, noting that the U of L Board of Trustees and the Council on Postsecondary Education approved a plan to build a $38 million, 128,000-square-foot student recreation center, and that U of L sold $37.5 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of the project.

We could argue that U of L should spend more on maintenance and less on new structures, and talk about the $31 million road project that will provide access to a 39-acre area that university officials plan to develop into the Belknap Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Park, of which U of L Foundation provided $6.2 million and the state provided $24.8 million.

As easy as they might be, they aren’t fair arguments against the university. Although mold doesn’t happen overnight, the University of Louisville’s spending record is proof enough that the intent of the U of L Foundation and Board of Trustees is to provide high-quality facilities for campus living. If anything, their securing funds for future construction proves their interests lie in creating the type of livability that keeps students in class and paying tuition. We’re a growing campus, and in the last 10 years the physical presence of this university has inarguably improved.

Accidents happen even to the best of us. In 2010, Columbia University was responsible for buildings that were found to have both mold and vermin. Responsible institutions do what they can to prevent accidents, apologize for their occurrence and rectify the situation by providing restitution to the effected and by preventing the same mistake from happening again.

U of L’s mold accident doesn’t so much highlight the flaws in U of L’s investment strategy as it does in their policy. Forget the cheap shots; here’s the real problem: requiring students to live on campus in these facilities per the First Year Live On policy. Because they cannot guarantee that accidents like these won’t happen, it is unethical for U of L to take away a student’s right to make their own informed choice of residence. Beyond that, First Year Live On is an incredibly infantilizing policy that should offend anyone old enough to sign a lease.

Forcing freshmen to live on campus their first year allows U of L to guarantee a yearly dollar amount to the private companies that own, construct and lease the buildings. This is the same principle as the student meal plan: to entice companies like Subway to set up shop, U of L guarantees a dollar amount via their mandatory meal plan.

On both the housing and food level, it is unethical for U of L to contribute to an inflating student loan bubble by taking federal student loan dollars (which you’ll have to pay back later) and giving them to private companies, particularly when the quality of the product is forever in question. I think that’s worth repeating: at U of L you are essentially a conduit through which private companies are able to access public money.

Regardless of how much money U of L invests in new construction projects, and regardless of how fantastically they may maintain the older buildings, the argument remains the same: if the housing options were as great as U of L says they are, U of L wouldn’t have to force you to live there. That they do should call both their motives and capacity into question, and rightly invites the extreme criticism of anyone unfortunate enough to have to move into — or out of — Mold Hall.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Tricia Stern/The Louisville Cardinal

themaster1

Anderson’s ‘The Master’ is a masterpiece

Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell making one of his signature grimaces in “The Master.”

By Lee Cole–

Paul Thomas Anderson has established himself as one of the premier American filmmakers in the modern era.  With classics like “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” and 2007’s monumental “There Will Be Blood” already behind him, the anticipation for his latest film, “The Master,” was high.  Like many who went to see it the opening weekend, I was expecting something like “There Will Be Blood,” and some aspects were indeed similar.  Both films included panoramic shots of vast landscapes in the American west, men struggling with power and submission and an exploration of the dangers of the American dream.  But if there was one aspect that made this film truly great, and also distinct from Anderson’s other films, it was the character of Freddie Quell, played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix.

The first scene opens with Freddie Quell on a naval vessel in the South Pacific, during World War II.  We learn rather quickly that Freddie is a bizarre man.  He doesn’t fit in well with his fellow sailors, his jokes never quite hit the mark and his movements and facial expressions are disconcerting.  He moves like an ape, seeming to drag his knuckles, and his face is contorted into awful grimaces throughout most of the film.  We learn that he is an alcoholic, but the extent of his savage behavior goes far beyond alcohol addiction.  He spends a good deal of time mixing various chemicals with alcohol and juice to mask the taste, and then either selling or giving away the concoction or drinking it himself.  Some of the chemicals include paint thinner, torpedo fuel and mouthwash.

After coming back to the states following the war, Freddie struggles to fit in, taking jobs and eventually losing them because of his erratic and disturbed behavior.  He meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) when he sneaks on to his boat as a stowaway, attempting to run from a probable murder charge (he had forced an old drunkard to drink too much of his concoction, causing his death).  Dodd reveals himself as a kind of guru, and takes Freddie under his wing, promising to help him with his struggles.

Perhaps the most powerful scene in the film comes when Freddie agrees to undergo “processing” for the first time, a talking therapy meant to be like “auditing” in Scientology.  He reveals his darkest secrets and regrets, and we see for the first time in Freddie true emotion.  By unburdening himself, he gains some measure of peace, and decides to join “The Cause,” Dodd’s esoteric movement.

The character of Lancaster Dodd will surely draw comparisons to L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, but there is not a simple one to one relation.  There are many aspects that make Dodd different, and the story is about much more than Scientology.  What is really at stake is the struggle between the animalistic and the rational – between control and chaos.  There are not easy answers; Anderson is nonjudgmental about either Dodd or Quell, and it must be admitted that whether or not “The Cause” is bunk, it does help Freddie.

Hoffman and Phoenix will almost certainly receive Oscar nods, and Anderson may come away with Best Director.  With some of the finest performances in years, “The Master” is not to be missed.

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy The Weinstein Company

Joe-Ley-mural-2012

Louisville artist spotlight: Wil Sieg’s mural on Market

By Aimee Jewell–

There aren’t very many reasons to smile when sitting in rush hour traffic – until you see Wil Seig’s roughly 60-foot mural, adorning the brick wall of Joe Ley’s Antiques at 615 Market Street. This muti-colored, larger-than-life spectacle was finished by one of Kentuckiana’s own up-and-coming artists on July 26, 2012, and on October 15, I sat down with Sieg to discuss how he became an artist, what the process for painting his mural on Market was, and what inspired him.

Q: How long have you been painting?
A: I have been doing art as long as I can remember. It’s always been an interest for me. But as far as painting, only for the last 15+ years. Over the years, I’ve dabbled in many different mediums as well asdifferent styles and techniques.

Q: Who contacted you about painting the building on Market Street?

A: My cousin knew Joe Ley & told him that I was interested in painting a mural. With him open to the idea of a mural, I proposed a sketch & the whole project just came together. What better way to express myself on a larger scale then on a Louisville landmark. My artwork showcasing his sign seemed to be a good fit. Based on the community feedback it has been well received.

Q: How long did it take you to paint the mural?

A: The Joe Ley mural took me 8 days to paint.

Q: What mediums do you use?

A: Painting was just a gradual progression for me. I started out sketching with pencil and then ball point pen. This led to oil pastels & painting, where I continue to grow. My love for painting with acrylic, led into the aerosol realm, which I’m currently enjoying.

Q: How did you choose the colors?

A: There was no real plan, I just went with what felt right. After I used up half of the colors, I painted the second figure with the remaining cans. I just tried to balance the colors throughout the figures so it had an even flow. Looking back on this project it seems surreal.

Q: What exactly does the mural represent? What influenced the painting?

A: I have been working on a style I call spherism, where I use a lot of circles or spheres to create whimsical characters. These characters are usually in an odd stance or pose, with emotions lingering in the eyes.

Q: What was the process and what were the stages of painting the mural?

A: Once the sketch was approved, I had to request time off work. I gladly burned up a week of vacation to tackle that beast. I went to the art supply store & got every color of spray paint that they had. I first sketched the figures out on the building with spray paint in an 80 foot lift. Then I primed the sketch

with a 3 inch brush, trying to get in all the crevasses, as the surface was very textured. After it was primed,

the mural began to come to life when I started adding color & form. It was very windy while I was up in the lift and the spray paint would blow sideways when I sprayed it. Not to mention it was one of the hottest weeks of the summer. While you’re up on the building painting, you can’t really see the big picture. So I would have to back away or walk down the street to get a better look at what I was doing. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.

Q: Have you ever painted a mural on anything besides Joe Ley’s?

A: I’d been working on large scale paintings for a while so it just seemed like the next step. Before the Joe Ley building, I painted a large barn in Harrison County, Indiana, the Mammoth which can be found on south 13th & Broadway, a van, a semi, and numerous 8 ft paintings.

Q: Where can people find your work on display? Is your work for sale?

A: I have artwork on display & for purchase at the brewery inside Slugger Field, Against the Grain. You can also view my artwork on my website at thecartel.org, which is also available for purchase. Ive also done custom pieces such as portraits, landscapes or decorative art working with a certain color scheme. I’m open to all commissioned artwork as long as it sparks my interest.

features@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy TheARtCartel.org