The Appeal of the Boston Marathon

Nick Kane / Special to The Recorder

Hopkinton, Mass.: to most people it’s nothing more than a place with less than 13,000 people and represents a quintessential New England town.

But for one day a year, it is transformed into the Mecca of a sport. For one day a year it is the center of the sporting world. Hopkinton, Mass. is home to the starting line of the Boston Marathon.

To most people, the Boston Marathon is nothing more than a spectacle that goes quicker than the runners who take on the 26.2-mile course. But for those who look to toe this hallowed starting line, it can indeed consume their lives, causing people to border on obsession until the goal is reached.

There are many differences between your everyday weekend race and the Boston Marathon. The qualifications, the course itself, the passion that even spectators bring on race day, the competition which is only rivaled by the Olympics and of course the lore which has built over the years is something that no other race in the world can contend with.

Boston is one of the oldest road races in the world, inspired by the first modern Olympic marathon in 1896. It has been called the “Peoples Olympics” since it is the only race besides an Olympic trial, which requires a qualifying time.

For anyone between the ages of 18-34, you must run a 26.2 mile certified marathon in under three hours and ten minutes. That is equal to a 7:15 minute per mile pace for 26.2 miles. This time increases with age; however for most people (like me) people start their quest to qualify as soon as possible.

Obviously this type of competition will attract the best runners in the world, usually attracting multiple Olympic marathon winners and medalists, including marathon record holders. This is especially true in 2009 since the 100-meter gold medalist Usain Bolt will be pacing the lead group of runners for the first 15 miles.

This year’s field boasts numerous world record holders all vying for the coveted title of Boston Marathon Champion. Everyone from world record holder Robert Cheuriyot of Kenya to the U.S. national Champions Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher will take part. Joining them will be 20,000 of their closest friends.

The passion that this race brings is echoed not only by those who hope to conquer the grueling course, but those who cheer from the sides. People who have never ran a day in their lives will pour out by the thousands for this incredible race.

One of the most passionate groups is the girls of Wellesley College, who have become famous for their demonstrations of fanaticism throughout the course of the race, since the course itself passes right by their campus. The ladies of Wellesley are only one of the many different attractions that the race boasts, even though some are not exactly what runners would call attractive.

Heartbreak Hill, has indeed earned its namesake by ruining personal records and even stifling world class runners in their tracks. This brutal climb on mile seventeen has reduced even the most seasoned veterans to tears by its steep climb at such an integral part of the race. However, once a runner has conquered this part, there is nothing but relatively flat road standing between them and the finish line on Boylston Street.

To most people, the Boston marathon is something that people look at as more of a spectacle than anything else. Something so far out of the realm of their lives that it doesn’t even penetrate their thoughts other than at the passing glance at the news that night.

But for some of us it is the realization of a dream, a dream that is earned through many miles through all weather conditions, all conditions of the body, as well as the mind. But once that dream is realized and the finish line is crossed, it is an experience that few can describe. As Amby Burfoot, a top runner in the 1980’s and a leader in the research of the sport famously said, “Once you cross that finish line, whether it’s in world record time or just your time, it will change your life forever.”

Album Review: St. Vincent’s ‘Actor’

 P.J. Decoteau / Staff Writer

Actor, the new album from St. Vincent, a.k.a. Annie Clark, seems to contradict itself at every turn. The singer/songwriter’s follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut release, 2007’s Marry Me, shuns expectations by making things a bit darker, a direct contrast to her pretty, but unassumingly quiet appearance (her curly black hair and big, bright eyes grace almost every inch of the album’s cover).

In the release’s first single, “The Strangers”, she repeatedly follows verses with the line “paint the black hole blacker”, but the melody remains almost ethereal, with Clark’s breathy vocals leading the way until the song breaks out into a swirling, guitar-riff and reverb-heavy climax. 

Many of the album’s eleven songs fit the same contradictory mold. “Laughing with a mouth full of blood”, what would presumably be the album’s darkest track, is a sultry jazzy song that would seem at home in a lounge club, while “Save me from what I want” marries a heavy synth beat, chimes and an overall upbeat tune that sporadically jumps into minor-note guitar picking and Clark’s imploring someone to save her from what she wants.

“Black Rainbow”, easily one of the album’s strangest tracks and treads lightly over a soft keyboard before bombastically unleashing a torrent of violins and bass. 

Perhaps the biggest contradiction of all, then, is that Actor somehow manages to be more cohesive than her first outing. Where Marry Me sometimes felt as though it was trying too hard to be unique, Actor travels at its own pace.

The disparity of the melodies, Clark’s beautiful voice, and the actual content of the songs, as well as the strange compositions, make the track listing an unpredictable affair that invites the listener to go along with the ride.

Even when Actor slows down at some parts and gets bumpy at others, it retains its own strange momentum while showcasing that St. Vincent, though early in her career, is already carving out a sound that is uniquely hers.  

Free STD and HIV Testing on Wednesday, April 22

Matt Kiernan / News Editor

Free testing for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV will be provided by the university and the state on April 22 for students looking to be tested for either or both.

University Health Services and the State Department of Public Health will be holding a Get Yourself Tested day that will be available to students without the need for an appointment from 9 – 4 p.m. in the University Health Services office next to Marcus White.

The testing will check for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia using a urine sample and H.I.V. using a mouth swab. The drawing of blood and use of shots will not be used during the testing.

“The testing is painless,” says Associate Director of Health Service Patricia Zapatka.

The tests will be sent to the Department of Public Health and will take a few weeks to be sent back with results. The rest of the year the testing for STD and HIV diseases has a fee at the university.

The push to start the day for testing was made by the federal government because of an increase in the number of people with the diseases from ages 14 – 24 years old.

People who have an STD are 50 percent more likely to contract HIV. Out of the 169 towns in CT, New Britain is ranked no. 5 on the list for populations with STDs.

Walk-ins will be accepted for anyone looking to be tested.

Observe and Report Delivers Enough to Overcome Flaws

Nick Viccione / Asst. Entertainment Editor

Seth Rogen has become a household name to the college demographic. It therefore would not surprise me in the least bit if this movie gets talked up beyond belief. 

It seems that people will see any movie Rogen is in; he’s become like Jim Carrey in the 1990s. However, with Observe and Report, it is obvious that this was a roll that Rogen wanted to play, and tried his best to make interesting. In the end, there is just enough to enjoy. 

Rogen takes the reigns in Observe and Report as Ronnie Barnhardt, a bi-polar security guard at an ordinary mall that has suddenly been plagued by a pervert who makes a habit of swearing and exposing himself to women in the parking lot. 

The flasher gets the movie rolling quickly, but throughout the majority of the movie, is forgotten about. As far as plot is concerned, the backbone of the film is Ronnie’s quest to prove himself to everyone and anyone he comes into contact with. 

Ronnie tries desperately to woo Brandi, your typically idiotic female (played by Anna Faris) who is not worthy of any male’s time – even the flasher. Ronnie also tries to impress his boss, who gradually loses all confidence in him, and the “bad guy” of the film – the local police detective, Detective Harrison, (played by Ray Liotta). 

Like always, it takes the entire film for Ronnie to start having an effect on his colleagues and peers in the movie. Ironically, I felt the same way as a member of the audience.

Observe and Report has all of the standard comedic practices that tend to elicit laughs: liberal swearing, the name-calling, the awkward stares and silences, the medley of supporting characters with various ethnic backgrounds, the quirky one-liners. You name it, Observe and Report has it. 

However, this tends to give the movie a stale feeling throughout. There is nothing that was remotely interesting from a comedic standpoint to warrant mention. Also, I felt that every time there was a new scene, there was a clip in it that I had remembered seeing in the trailers. 

Some people may criticize me for saying that I long for character development in movies, even the low-budget comedies. But, from a viewer’s standpoint, I feel that if I can have a deeper connection with characters, I will be able to laugh at the things they say, and the crazy situations they get themselves into even more. 

Observe and Report lacks heavily in this area, and it brings the whole film down. I never once put myself in the shoes of any of the characters, let alone Rogen’s. 

So now that I have voiced my opinion of why I thought this movie was sub-par, what about all of this “good enough to overcome flaws” nonsense?

Well, frankly, the movie was entertaining enough to be able to sit through and not want it to be over any sooner than it was. It was a manageable length (not like all of these 2 plus-hour Apatow comedies) and there was enough interesting physical humor, like beating the hell out of a bunch of skateboarders, after getting glazed on booze and cocaine, and then taking out a horde of police officers with a Mag-Lite, to off-set the trite script. 

The ending itself was epic. That is all I am going to say in order not to spoil anything for anyone. 

The bottom line is this: if you are a fan of the same types of low-budget comedies that have been coming out with Rogen in them, ones where he just ad-libs scenes and makes up rubbish, then you’ll probably enjoy this movie for all that is it worth. 

But if you are someone like me, who looks for that extra something, then wait until you can catch a matinee showing. Observe and Report doesn’t dazzle, but it gets the job done.

Fast and Furious Surprising for Series

Charles Desrochers / Asst. Lifestyles Editor

Prepare to be disappointed when seeing Fast and Furious, even though for the series, it’s actually a decent movie.  

This fourth installment of the series brought back its core group of characters. While the trailer made it out to be another exercise in driving fast and delivering cheesy lines about how fast said driving is, Fast and Furious dropped the scantily clad women and florescent import cars halfway through for an attempt at real story with depth. 

After this point the movie turns into a Smugglers Run type film while the audience sits in their seats asking, “Where was this 45 minutes ago?” 

They are also probably saying, “Where do they get the money for all these cars they keep destroying? Their credit must be horrible.”

The flashy bright pink Japanese cars are wrecked, dirtied and ugly by the time the plot gets off and the female booties are left in the first act. This leaves us to appreciate Fast and Furious’ story of all things.  Chris Morgan, who wrote last years surprise action hit Wanted, does a fantastic job of teaching this old dog some new tricks.   

I’m not going to comment on the driving sequences because by now we’ve seen it all.

Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Connell is now an FBI agent trying to bring down a multi billion-dollar drug smuggling operation from Mexico.

We see that after five years of being on the run, Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto, is in the Dominican Republic stealing gasoline and selling it on the black market. Do you get it? Diesel is stealing petrol. 

Toretto’s long time girlfriend, played by Michelle Rodriguez, is murdered in a car wreck, leading him to return to Los Angeles and investigate her death. The story finds O’Connell and Toretto looking for the same person and joining forces.  

As important as the surprise quality of the story is the fact that, since The Fast and The Furious, Paul Walker and Vin Diesel have turned into very competent actors. The only reason this movie was possible was because both seemed to have stumbled on hard times in their careers. 

Walker, and especially Diesel, look old in this movie, which I applaud. Torretto and O’Connell are played as if their characters have not only aged but have matured.  This isn’t a case of rehashing the same tired “I love NOS” characters into a cookie cutter plot. There is an implied growth that’s happened since the last we’ve seen these two. Yet we are not bludgeoned over the head with back-story. Through their performances we realize that both are tired and the past five years have weighed heavy on their souls. 

Racing ultimately has nothing to do with the story as far as the pride of winning goes, like the other three Furious movies.  What plays out is a tale of revenge that ping pongs across the Mexican border in order to bring down a drug cartel.

I’d like to point out that the way the cartels get the drugs into the US, via underground tunnels, is not as outlandish as it may seem. The evening news in southern California is constantly showing reports of underground tunnels and other inventive ways the cartels get their product into America. 

For the first time in the series the cars are a distant third to the actors and story. Now don’t get me wrong, this is just a decent movie.

The plot has plenty of holes in it but my expectations were so low it was like ordering ramen noodles and getting chicken parmesan. Sure it’s not the fanciest dish in the world but it’s much classier than the one you were expecting to get, especially if you were expecting those noodles to be sprinkled with glitter and G-strings. 

I Love You, Man Offers Us Laughs, Bromance

Sean Fenwick / Staff Writer

There are few movies that capture true romance. Movies like When Harry Met Sally, and The Notebook have shown what two people will do for the sake of love between a man and woman.

I Love You, Man is possibly the first movie to capture true bromance. 

When Peter Klaven asks his girlfriend to marry him he realizes that there has been an aspect of his life he has been missing, masculinity. Peter (Paul Rudd) is more of a gal pal then a man’s man. After his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones of “The Office”) accepts Peter’s proposal, she easily assembles her bridesmaids while Peter is realizing he has no male friends for groomsmen.

Peter is an oversensitive realtor who’s best night of his life was sharing a “summer salad and a bottle of wine and watching Chocolat.” He realizes he needs to find friends and fast.

After a few attempts and one that ends with another man’s tongue down his throat, it seems that Peter will be dudeless for life. He then runs into Sydney, played by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) who is the exact opposite of Peter, at an open house.

Where Peter is neat and sensitive Sydney is messy and blunt. The two of them seem to become hetero life mates when they both uncover their love for the band Rush. 

The movie seems pretty slow and tame until Segel breaks onto the screen. His character in I Love You Man is a direct contrast to his recent, previous performances, while Rudd is in familiar territory, as the adorable funny guy the audience loves.

Where this movie excels is the obvious chemistry between Rudd and Segel. These are two giants who made their break on Judd Apatow’s coat tails. After Segel wrote himself as a whimpering wussy in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it’s a relief to see his acting ability in a completely different role. 

Directed by John Hamburg, I Love You, Man isn’t the type of film that does magic for the screen but Hamburg is able to keep the overall tone of the film moving along while Rudd and Segel do what they are best at. 

 I Love You, Man is possibly the best Apatow-like film out there. It has memorable quotes that people will be blurting out loud for months to come (namely “me slappa da bass”) and two likable characters that will only further the careers of two of Hollywood’s most popular comedic actors.

Approach Dragonball with Low Expectations

Sean Fenwick / Staff Writer

Don’t you just love when Hollywood takes your childhood memories and turns them into pieces of crap? I know I do, and I’m sure glad they did it again with their adaptation of Dragonball: Evolution. 

Dragonball: Evolution follows our hero Goku (Justin Chatwin) as he goes through high school like any other teen, except one major difference; he knows kung fu.

Trained by his grandfather, Goku has special abilities that allow him to tap into his chi, throw energy balls and kick ass. While in high school Goku has a tough time finding his place, being bullied by his classmates, “They push me so far that I want to explode!” he said.  

I was hoping he would explode so that the movie would get interesting. As the movie progresses you learn about the dragonballs: these are seven magical balls that when you bring them together will grant any wish. We are also told that they were once used to banish a demon named Piccolo (Buffy’s James Masters).  

Now, 2,000 years later, he is back and trying to get his demonic hands on those pesky little balls. There isn’t any type of explanation of how he comes back since those balls banished him, but this is just the first of many obvious plot holes.  

In his search for the dragonballs Piccolo stops by Goku’s place to pick up his grandfather’s dragonball. After a few seconds of fighting with Gohan (Goku’s grandfather) Piccolo slays him, by using the force. That’s not a joke, Piccolo walks out of the house and crushes the house in the same way Darth Vader would had it been a Star Wars film.  

After Goku realizes Piccolo did this, he goes on a quest to find the other dragonballs to stop Piccolo. In this quest he runs into Bulma (Emmy Rossum) and Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat) who are both looking for the dragonballs to stop the evil Piccolo. 

As an adaptation, this movie is the worst. Fans of the series (myself included) will look at every aspect of the movie, and point out where they went wrong, and believe me they went wrong in many places. The original story is completely changed so that it could be more marketable, obviously that didn’t quite help. The action sequences seemed to move at a weird pace. One that could only have been an editing flaw, rather then any type of super human agility.  

On a good note the movie is only 75 minutes long, so it doesn’t drag, but at the same time a lot of important story elements are compressed and often forgotten.

As for acting goes, there really isn’t much here. Just about everyone in this film does their worst except for Chatwin, in the original comics and cartoon Goku is a fun loving idiot who is either extremely happy or extremely angry and Chatwin does justice to the look as well.  

You can hate on this movie all you want, but it was just as bad as all the fans predicted it would be. No body had any hope for this movie, not even the studios (hence not screening it to the critics). It has it’s moments where you think “hey that was kind of cool”. At the end of the day it was a valid attempt and a decent kung fu flick for the younglings.

Spring Week is a Step in the Right Direction for The Smyrk

Charles Desrochers / Asst. Lifestyles Editor

The summer is coming and like most Central students, Chris Barone will be looking for a job.

Barone doesn’t call them jobs though. He calls them gigs, and he won’t be alone. He’ll be with his band The Smyrk.

A friend of the band Mathew Morgan labeled their band as Motown Metal, since the bands eclectic mix of soul and rock left them scratching their heads when fans would asked them what their genre was. 

“We have trouble finding bands that fit our genre in Connecticut theirs like a handful outside and it’s just weird,” said Barone, drummer for The Smyrk.

Last March The Smyrk’s Doron Monk Flake, Ari Sadowitz, Barone and Alex Marans won CAN’s ‘Battle of the Bands’ at Central Connecticut State University.  By winning, the band also earned the opportunity to play at the Spring Week concert.  

Almost immediately after The Battle, The Smyrk boarded a plane and headed to Austin, Texas for the festival South By Southwest, starting what they hope to be a busy summer as a part of Afro Punk, a group that promotes multicultural bands and audiences. 

“We met a lot of different people like The Matches, The Hard as Lions,” said Barone. “We played a lot of great shows and met a lot of different people, did a lot of promoting. I lost about 12 pounds in one week just from all the walking.”

Taking time for the group is nothing new for him. Barone, now in his fourth year at CCSU, has been balancing the band and school since ’02.  He’s even taken time off to go on self-promoted tours, eventually ending up in California. 

The band is even considering a show in Maryland in May that would be on a Thursday. “I got three classes on Friday,” said Barone. “It’s gonna be hard because you either don’t take the show or we have to drive 5 or 6 hours. It’s not a problem but it’s a bit of pressure.”

“[SXSW] was a week before spring break. So my professors weren’t too happy with me,” said Barone. “We’re all in it a hundred percent. Me, Ari and Doron, we all want  this so much. Alex comes in on the train every time and that’s expensive. He’s been showing his commitment since January.”

Practicing for up to eight hours each session, the band thinks of each other as family.

They are all equally committed to making The Smyrk work and be one of the few bands to come out of Connecticut. Barone said he speaks for the entire band when he says their breaking point isn’t in the near future. 

 “The music scene here is not that big, but that’s even more incentive to keep going. We want to be one of those few bands that come out of Connecticut,” said Barone.

“What I really want to do is go overseas we get emails in our inbox and on Myspace from, like, UK and Brazil. We have people listening.  I think that if we went overseas we would get a good response, but we don’t have any money yet,” said Barone.

After Spring Weekend and the end of school, Barone says that once school ends it’s constant gigging throughout the summer.

“Our goal is to work with bigger bands and travel with them,” he said.

Already the band has recorded with Incubus’ Ben Kennedy and a producer who worked with Missy Elliot. 

Recording a new album isn’t what The Smyrk is focusing on right now. 

“You have to get people to listen to your album first,” Barone said.

So that’s what they will try to do, get fans to listen.

Meal Plans Should Not Be Required

Shauna Simeone / Opinion Editor

CCSU requires that all students who live on campus have to purchase a meal plan. This is an unfair restriction and CCSU students must be allowed to have more say in the matter. 

The cost of attending college is already significant. But CCSU imposes another $1,800 expense on students who live on campus by requiring them to buy a meal plan for the school dining hall. The meal plans start at a minimum of $1,800 and vary based on the number of guest meals or blue chip card funds that you add. The minimum meal plan gives students an all-access pass to the dining hall. This means that students can go into the cafeteria as many times per day as they want. 

The available options for meal plans are very restrictive. All meal plans are for unlimited meals. Many students do not eat every meal in the dining hall, but choose to eat at different restaurants or in their rooms. When students buy food outside of the dining hall, they are essentially paying double for a meal since they were already forced to pay for their entrance into the dining hall at the beginning of the semester. 

Although there are a variety of different foods inside the dining hall, some residents would prefer to provide their own foods of their choosing. For example, some students just don’t like the taste of processed chicken and beef, but still want to incorporate meat into their diets. The school should not be allowed to force students into buying certain foods that they may not like. 

In the school’s defense, they are probably trying to ensure that students actually eat the food in the dining hall so that less food is wasted. But the school should meet halfway with students and provide more options for meal plans. It would make sense to provide a plan in which students pay for a set number of meals, such as seven meals a week. This is more realistic for students, and it will be less expensive for them while still ensuring that students eat food provided by the school occasionally. 

A large majority of CCSU students struggle to pay for their education. Some students cannot meet the costs of payment plans for the meal plan upfront. But they are still forced to cover the expense, or force being kicked out of school. This does not seem fair at all.

Students who value an education and need to live on campus for logistical reasons may see a meal plan as an unnecessary expense. If they can afford tuition and room costs, they may be kicked out of school for not buying a meal plan, which they may not even want! 

The administration should attempt to be more flexible when giving out payment plans that cover meal plans. Since the school is forcing students to purchase one, they should work harder at tailoring the plan to fit the individual needs of the student. 

If CCSU is going to force residents to buy a meal plan, then they need to work with students who are struggling to afford it. Getting an education is the most important priority. Meal plans are an added expense that should not prevent anyone from receiving an education.

General Education Classes Not Worth the Time

Shauna Simeone / Opinion Editor

College is a time for students to further their education and to specialize in a field that relates to a possible career. Universities should emphasize classes that focus on specific skills, but unfortunately most higher education institutions focus too much on general education courses. 

Students spend four years in high school learning a variety of general subjects that make them intellectually well rounded. Subjects are covered varying from English, math, science, foreign languages, health, history, music, as well as many other available electives. High school classes can be taught at a high level and provide sufficient knowledge in a plethora of subject matters. In American society today, college freshman may enter CCSU and realize that they are in for much more of the same general education classes.

CCSU requires a total of 44-46 credits of general education. This is an enormous amount of credits considering that nearly every major program requires fewer credits to complete. This includes degree programs such as geography, economics, biology, English, and many more.

As CCSU students are well aware, the general education program requires courses from four different study areas, which are arts and humanities, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and natural sciences. Four different skill areas must also be fulfilled. They are listed as communication skills, mathematics, foreign language proficiency, and the new university requirement that requires all students to complete PE 144. The majority of a student’s first two years at CCSU will be taken up by fulfilling general education requirements. 

The university states in the undergraduate catalog, that the general education program “aims to provide students with the basic foundations for life-long learning as rational members of society, to awaken the pleasures of intellectual exploration and to elevate aesthetic sensibilities”. 

It seems that a high school education is completely sufficient to provide “basic foundations for life-long learning”. In fact, high school curriculums aim to expose students to a variety of subjects that are necessary for them to be educated in a well-rounded manner. 

It is completely fine for students to further their general education at college, but they should have the option to do it on their own terms. A large portion of students are attending college to get the necessary educational background that prepares them for a certain career or field. Those students who already know what skill area they want to pursue should not be forced to dally along in classes that are not helping them to reach their career goals. 

In a lot of technical majors, such as physics, a lot of lab courses are required. There are also a lot of mathematical prerequisites that are required for students to complete before moving on to the upper level physics courses. When coupled with the general education requirements, students with a physics major may not be able to get into their meaningful physics classes until their 3rd year of college. It should also be noted that many upper level courses are not offered every semester or even every year. The large amount of required general education courses makes it difficult for students in certain majors to graduate on time. This may even be a deterrent for students to pursue technical majors, which are a necessary part of developing our country’s future.

General education courses can be a wonderful thing for students who are interested in participating in them. But for students who are satisfied with their “basic foundations” of education, general education courses can be a huge hindrance on their aspirations of mastering a certain subject. 

Imagine the amount of background a student could gain if they spent four years taking courses that pertained to their major. They would probably be able to attain knowledge that is equivalent to a master’s degree today. A growing number of careers and employers expect employees to have a master’s degree or higher. This probably relates to the lack of technical work done at the undergraduate level today.

The general education requirements should be lessened at CCSU and at colleges across the nation. Students who go to college to concentrate on a specific subject should be allowed to do so without completing an absurd amount of general courses that will not greatly benefit their career ambitions.