All posts by Eric Sevareid

Humans of Etown Story #1

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“So, I’ve been at Elizabethtown for 4 years now, I’m a senior, and since freshman year I have been part of the improv comedy troupe ‘Mad Cow Improv’ and um, I just finished my final show with Mad Cow and it was a super emotional experience which kind of strikes me odd to begin with because to a lot of people it just seems like an acting troupe but its a lot more than that. When I originally auditioned it just seemed like an ordinary acting troupe. But when I ended up becoming so close with all of the people that are in it, the amount of drama that has arisen, the joy, the laughter all really binds us together and it means everything to me.”

-Kevin Hughes, Class of 2017

Doctor Strange (2016) Review

The 2016 film Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson, follows the canonical Marvel Comics story of Dr. Stephen Strange, a talented neurosurgeon who went east in search of healing for his hands, which are destroyed following a terrifying car accident. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, along with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams, the film features Cumberbatch as an arrogant, self-absorbed doctor who, when confronted with the non-scientific healing offered by ‘The Ancient One,’ initially rejects it as ridiculous. The rest of the film follows Strange as he turns around and learns from the mystics how to master mystical arts and fight the forces of the dark dimension and Dormammu, its ruler.doctor-strange-2-benedict-cumberbatch

I thought this was an excellent film for several reasons which I will elaborate. Thoughcertain elements bothered me, these issues were mostly the deviances from the Marvel Comic canon, and ultimately insignificant. The success of the film, as the 11th Most Valuable Blockbuster of 2016 and the 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes are since it is restrained by the MCU as a blockbuster film and yet managed to ultimately hold on to the crucial elements of Doctor Strange’s origin story and Marvel canon. Keeping so much of the story was, I thought, crucial to the success of the film and my 5-star rating. The movie brilliantly described the arrogance of the character and his horrifying car accident (also due to arrogance as he was driving like an idiot) which resulted in the injury that was so detrimental to his career – and thus his self-esteem – that it made him go east in search of healing greater than anything he’d encountered in his time as a surgeon.

The second reason for the excellence of this film falls in the acting and casting. Cumberbatch did an excellent job as an arrogant doctor, and manages to balance the character’s attitude with his deeper kindness which comes out as he is forced to kill one of the enemies in the film, and he explains to Mordo why he can’t do that anymore as a doctor. Despite such noble convictions, Cumberbatch does not lose the arrogance. McAdams did not play a large part in the movie, but performed her role well as the concerned but frustrated love-interest. My favorite of the actors, however, was Tilda Swinton, who played ‘The Ancient One,’ diverging from the canonical male Nepali character, Swinton plays a wise and excellent female Celtic sorceress who can enter the mirror dimension, which brings me to the most important reason for the excellence of the film.

The visual effects of Doctor Strange outclass almost anything I’ve ever seen in a film, and is rated higher than such movies as Inception and Intersteller, two blockbuster films known for visual effects. As ‘The Ancient One’ distorts the mirror dimension and the entire city twists sideways and buildings bend and turn to trap and crush characters, and the Dark Dimension infiltrates the Earthly plane, I can only imagine what it must have been like in IMAX.

It is ultimately for these three reasons that I praise the movie so highly, and the critics seem to agree – though some critique the films reliance on the familiar Marvel core narrative. I don’t find this to be an issue, as the film is made for those looking for another film like Marvel’s traditional blockbusters but with incredibly imaginative features.

Flashback: Elizabethtown Swimming and Terror in January

Back in January: The first major act of terror in 2017 – occurring over 1,150 miles from Elizabethtown – and 34 members of the college community find themselves in potentially immediate danger. Just one terminal from the spot where Esteban Santiago killed several people at the Fort Lauderdale Airport in Florida, Elizabethtown College’s swim teams had arrived earlier that day for their winter training trip.

One student-athlete arrives later in the midst of panic and confusion – after the shooting had ceased. He would be reunited with the team later that day.

What were the chances? – we recall as the 2016-2017 school year ends, the time before the start of the semester when all 32 members of the Blue Jays men’s and women’s swim teams and two coaches managed to safely avoid the first major shooting of 2017. Of all the places where they could have had their annual winter training trip, and they just so happen to find themselves there and then.

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Esteban Santiago, a man now charged with the killing of five people at the Fort Lauderdale airport, claimed to have done it for ISIS. He had come from Alaska, where he had told authorities about mind control and hearing voices. After the shooting, he mentioned nothing about either of these things, and moved to his ISIS claim. Though not officially confirmed, it is likely that Santiago was inspired, rather than hired, by the terrorist organization – as he had frequented Jihadist chat rooms and the like.

Santiago had left his plane from Anchorage, and grabbed a checked back in which he had a Walther 9mm pistol, two magazines, and the blood of several people at an international civil aviation center. None of those people had any immediate connection to the Elizabethtown College community.

As we all watched in horror as these events unfolded from the comfort of our televisions, talk radios, and social media, we remember the relief of the college’s official message: “We have confirmed that all 32 members of the Blue Jays men’s and women’s swim teams and two coaches, who were flying into the Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Airport today for practice and competition at Lynn University, are safe and accounted for.”

Mad Cow: First Performance 2017

Elizabethtown College’s popular improvisational theatre troupe Mad Cow held their “Leffler” show at 8 p.m. on Friday at Leffler Chapel and Performance Center.

The 14-member group consists of students across a diverse range of class standing and academic backgrounds, two of which function as “techies,” responsible for the technical aspects of the show. The other 12 members act out various games that require them to create scenes, dialogue, stories, actions, and characters on the spot, without script.

Mad Cow performs one show every month, with some of the shows taking on different themes, locations, or content. This month’s show (January) was held at Leffler Chapel which provides a very different setting than the usual Gibble Auditorium in Esbenshade, an academic building on Elizabethtown’s campus reserved primarily for engineering, mathematics, and occupational therapy students. While normally maintaining a strict “family-friendly” atmosphere, one of Mad Cow’s spring shows, the ‘After Dark Show,’ relaxes this rule and allows for more10714319_820452111319522_4169874599509782575_o adult themes to be present in games.

The group’s current president, senior student Kevin Hughes thought the show went well. “The audience seemed to have a good time, and I’m entirely satisfied with the group’s performance, he said.” Senior student, Samantha Eisdorfer was recorded as having enjoyed the show as an audience member, despite selling merchandise for the event. “I’m always a big fan of Mad Cow, and I especially enjoyed some of the later games this show.”

Mad Cow’s February show, the ‘Vote-In’ show, where the audience votes for the games played, will be held on Saturday, February 18, 2017 in Gibble Auditorium.