The Recorder’s Oscar Picks

The dust has cleared and the curtain has dropped: it’s finally time to acknowledge the best of the big screen. 2008 was another exceptional year for films and on February 22 we’ll find out who takes home the big prizes for their hard effort.

After seeing every film on this list here I have consulted with my Magic 8-Ball and have chosen who I think should win and who will win each of the major awards along with a few quick picks for other notable awards. I’m leaving “Achievement in sound mixing” to the experts.

Best Picture Nominees:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

Who should win: Slumdog Millionaire

Who will win: Slumdog Millionaire

If you read my gushing review a few weeks back of Slumdog Millionaire you’ll find this selection comes as no surprise. Slumdog seems to be leading the way with everyone. A potential upset can be had with Milk thanks for Sean Penn’s terrific performance. Frost/Nixon is a deserving dark horse candidate but it didn’t make an impact like Milk did. Benjamin Button and The Reader, both good films, don’t deserve to be on the list when exceptional films like The Wrestler and Doubt are nowhere to be found. Slumdog takes this.

Actor in a Leading Role Nominees:

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor

Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon

Sean Penn, Milk

Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Who should win: Mickey Rourke

Who will win: Mickey Rourke

I know who should win, I just don’t know if the Academy does. Mickey Rourke’s performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler was above and beyond most performances in 2008. Rourke took this brooding wrestler character and made it his own. On the other hand, Sean Penn practically channeled Harvey Milk and it might have hit soft political spots among voters who value sentimental films about human rights movements over wrestlers. Toss Brad Pitt’s name off this list, he doesn’t deserve to be there. Langella, once again, falls into the upset category with his intense portrayal of Richard Nixon. Jenkin’s film was too little seen and known to get the respect it deserves. In the end I think the Academy sympathizes with Rourke’s remarkable comeback. This is his shot.

Actress in a Leading Role Nominees:

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie, Changeling

Melissa Leo, Frozen River

Meryl Streep, Doubt

Kate Winslet, The Reader

Who should win: Melissa Leo

Who will win: Kate Winslet

This was a tough one. Consider me a fan of the underdogs, but I would love to see Leo win this award. Her performance in Frozen River is what the film hinges on. She, like Rourke, also put herself into the character. When a film is over and you realize no other actor or actress would fit that role you just know something special was accomplished. That’s the way I felt about both Rourke and Leo. Unfortunately she has no chance with Streep and Winslet on the ballot. While both terrific performances, neither struck me the way Leo’s did. Streep would be winning for being one of the best cold-hearted nuns in film history and Winslet would win for taking off her clothes lots and lots of times and making love to an 18-year-old kid lots and lots of times. I think Winslet wins it by a hair. And yes she will cry if she wins.

Actor in a Supporting Role Nominees:

Josh Brolin, Milk

Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt

Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

Who should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Who will win: Heath Ledger

This list is stacked. I have no doubts that Heath Ledger will pick up another well deserved posthumous award for his terrifying rendition of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Call it a matter of taste or credit it to my biased love for him, but I was amazed by Hoffman’s performance as a priest in question in Doubt. He’s one of the greatest actors of our time and definitely deserves to pick up his second Oscar this year. Both Brolin and Shannon excelled in their roles but will probably fall short which shows credit to the strength of this list. Ledger wins, don’t rip my head off for wishing Hoffman to get it instead.

Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees:

Amy Adams, Doubt

Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Viola Davis, Doubt

Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

Who should win: Viola Davis

Who will win: Penélope Cruz

Deciding on best supporting actress is tough. All five women were good and deserving of the nomination they received, but none of them absolute stuck out as the clear winner. Viola Davis had the most powerful 12 minutes on film this year in Doubt, but will probably lose out for only being in the film for such a short time. In the end this award will probably come down to Tomei’s counterpart performance to Rourke’s wrestler and Cruz’s crazy ex-girlfriend portrayal in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I suspect Cruz ends up taking the award home and I’m not really sure why. If I had my way Davis would walk away with this prize but I’m not feeling too sure about it. Call it a hunch.

Quick Picks:

Best animated feature film of the year: Wall-E

Best documentary feature: Man on Wire

Best foreign language film of the year: Waltz with Bashir

Achievement in cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire

Achievement in directing: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score): A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song): A.R. Rahman, “Jai Ho” Adapted screenplay: Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire

Original screenplay: Dustin Lance Black for Milk

-Michael Walsh, Asst. Entertainment Editor

‘Frost/Nixon’ a Worthy Contender

One of the most significant historical events that I never learned enough about in high school was the Watergate scandal and the fallout left upon Richard Nixon.

Ron Howard’s Oscar-nominated film Frost/Nixon, a film adaptation of the stage play, delves into the now famous interviews between talk show host David Frost and the former president Richard Nixon. This dramatization of a series of interviews granted to British talk show host David Frost in 1977, three years after Nixon resigned from his presidency, plays like a back and forth cat and mouse thriller and a boxing match rich with suspense.

The bizarre thing is that with any knowledge of the subject beforehand, the outcome of this bout is already known. While this is true with all history-based films there’s something special about this one in particular.

This isn’t a retelling of a violent war. It is merely a series of interviews. What allows the viewer the ability to fall right into the film, whether they know the outcome or not, are the outstanding performances by the ensemble cast.

Frank Langella gives a seemingly uncanny portrayal of Richard Nixon. Langella does something unique with Nixon. He, much like the real Nixon, gave the audience a chance to feel sympathy for him during the interviews. In the end everyone, including himself, is able to see right through this facade of coverups. Langella’s performance is an award-deserving three dimensional take on Nixon. From the flawlessly replicated mannerisms to the sulking body posture to the profoundly deep and brooding voice, Langella’s portrayal of the former president will be considered come Oscar night.

To applaud only Langella would be to applaud only part of the team. Michael Sheen seamlessly loses himself within this out-of-place character of a talk show host. Frost was a man that at the time lived for the limelight. He was a man seen as more of an entertainer rather than as an investigative journalist. Sheen portrays both sides of this before and after transformation very well by effortlessly slipping into character.

Supporting performances such as Kevin Bacon’s stern performance as Jack Brennan, one of Nixon’s protective advisors, and Sam Rockwell as the determined James Reston Jr., one of Frost’s main researchers, complete a cast worthy of praise all around.

Frost/Nixon is a film that flew right past me. Once the film reached the second half, and more importantly the fourth interview, I was locked in my seated position and rarely looked away from the screen.

With the aforementioned brilliant and realistic performances, coupled with the stark reality of the dialogue, the film is as suspenseful as can be. Howard’s directing only adds to the mix as his up close and personal approach during the interviews locks the combatants down right in front of you never letting go until it’s all over. Every emotional portion of dialogue and facial gesture is perfectly captured.

For me to speak on the historical aspects of this riveting film would be for me to go over my head. I prefer to leave the history to those who know it best.

What I do know is that Frost/Nixon is one of the more compelling and entertaining films of its kind this year. The script plays like a stage play with its limited locations and focus on dialogue but none of that does harm to the film.

Frost/Nixon will undoubtedly get its shot when the Academy Awards are announced on February 22. Frank Langella, who led a strong overall group of actors, will no doubt be considered to win best actor with his powerful and moving performance that almost made me feel a drop of sympathy for the lonely Richard Nixon.

-Michael Walsh, Asst. Entertainment Editor

‘Frozen River’ Led by Leo

Some films need that extra jolt -that extra something that keeps everything together.

For the 2008 independent film Frozen River, Melissa Leo was just that. Frozen River details the struggles that two single moms face in northern New York State on a Mohawk reservation when the lure of fast money from smuggling illegal immigrants across borders is presented in front of them.

At the core of Frozen River, the directorial debut of Courtney Hunt, is a simple noir-inspired story about a single mom striving to provide for her two sons leading her to venture into the world of smuggling. It’s noir-inspired for its everyday person gets wrapped up in crime that’s far over their head for the lure of money and simple for its straightforward narrative and minimalistic feel.

In no way of denying Hunt for her tremendous debut in film, this film wouldn’t be what it was without the under-appreciated Leo. She makes the character of Ray Eddy her own the same way Mickey Rourke made Randy “The Ram” Robinson his own in 2008’s The Wrestler. Both actors took control of their respective characters and let the grief pour out of the screen.

What comes of Leo’s performance is the driving force of a thought-provoking character study centered on ethical decisions. Leo gives a certain life to Ray Eddy. So stricken with grief, it’s absolutely painful watching her strive so hard to provide a simple double-wide house for her two boys; something most of us might cringe at if told to live in.

With only one other performance sticking out (Misty Upham’s performance as the second single mom, Lila), Leo is absolutely essential to keep the emotion in the film alive. A lackluster performance in her role might have spelled disaster for a film of such nature. Again, with no discredit to Hunt, Frozen River hinges on Leo’s performance.

Frozen River is a beautifully heartbreaking film and there’s no other way for me to describe it.

While the film runs at less than two hours it is a rather slow moving film. It’s a stark character study of two single moms absolutely struggling to keep their lives afloat. Each has her problems and each is dealt with.

While Milk might be a frontrunner for best screenplay written directly for the screen at this year’s Oscars, Hunt certainly deserves all the consideration in the world for her gripping tale of despair, struggle and ethical decisions.

This film is a keeper if only for the performances of both Leo and Upham.

Leo is a dark horse candidate for best actress at the Oscars. Hunt’s minimalist cinematography is calming and keeps a close eye on the things that matter.

The story is simple but absolutely engaging and involving. Frozen River is one of the independent hits of 2008.

-Michael Walsh, Asst. Entertainment Editor

Cheer for the Game

Column: Avoid Idolizing the Player

We have not completely crumbled as a society – yet. Sports, however, is standing on wobbly knees.

The sporting world is its own little society. So many ideas and modes of thinking can be applied from one sport to another. The sports world is not limited to just competition, but also the front office, fan bases, revenue streams, and sadly, the courtroom.

In the past two weeks, we’ve seen some of the lowest of the low in the world of sports: an Olympic hero showing incredible stupidity and one of the all-time greatest legends being exposed for his use of illegal performance enhancers. It’s a disappointing time to be a sports fan, right?

Wrong. It’s only disappointing because we as a society allow it to be. We fans are nothing but naïve sycophants.

We put athletes on pedestals and worship the ground they walk on. We memorize their hometowns, career batting average, where they played college ball and their mother’s maiden name. We beg them for their used equipment as they walk down the tunnel before and after games, and buy jerseys with their names on the back. We name pets and even children after them.

The hypocrisy takes a more pronounced turn when we demand the most of our athletes. We want them faster, stronger, more agile. We demand perfection. Athletes with flaws are to be hidden, unseen, relegated to suburban gyms and fields where their once promising talent goes to die.

So when Alex Rodriguez, the best player in all of baseball is revealed to have used steroids, it’s almost comical how fast the morality police get up in arms.

Baseball is just one small example of where we’ve gone wrong. People act so outraged at those who use steroids, but can you blame them?

What do you see on Sportscenter? Home runs. Bombs. Dingers. They don’t show walks, opposite field base hits, or well-placed bunt singles.

We fell in love with the long ball, a small part of the game, and placed it above all other aspects of the sport. Very similar to how we’ve fallen in love with players for all the wrong reasons.

We forget that athletes are people like you or me. They share the same fears and struggles that we all do at our core. A-Rod, for all his talent, has (some pretty hefty) flaws.

Put your thoughts aside on whether or not smoking marijuana is a big deal. Michael Phelps, for all of his superhuman talent, is flawed with the decision-making ability of your average 23-year-old American.

When parents expressed such disappointment in him for letting their children down, it did nothing but showcase their own ignorance. We cheered on an athlete all summer who long before Beijing had earned himself a DUI.

And now, with so little to gain from smoking pot and everything to lose, he cost himself sponsorship money as well as his reputation with a large number of Americans. While it may just be strike two against him in the eyes of society, it’s a continued trend that shows once again he’s just an idiot who can swim better than anyone on the planet.

The swimming is the only difference. There are plenty of other idiots out there that show a lack of judgment. You don’t have to go far to see it in action.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Tim Tebow, who is everything the previous three guys are not. Yet, we’re still guilty of doing the exact same thing in relation to him. We place him on this pedestal and paint him as a Messiah figure. We are collectively waiting as a nation for pictures of him fondling two naked co-eds at a frat party to surface, so we can have the sick enjoyment of tearing him down.

Here on our campus, our athletes are accessible. I see basketball players walking to class. I see a baseball player in my communications class first thing in the morning. Soccer players can be seen working on projects in a computer lab around midday. Athletes can be seen practicing on Arute Field on nice afternoons.

While I lamented a lack of fanaticism in this very paper earlier this year, perhaps a lack of student enthusiasm is a good thing. Maybe it keeps these athletes grounded, and that’s why we don’t have steroid controversies and multi-million dollar endorsements being lost here at CCSU.

In the rest of the world, we live in a hero worship complex at its worst. We build all these athletes up just to tear them down. Whether it be for their lack of talent, their age, off-field habits, or personality, we find ways to pick them off.

There are ways to change the tide of this epidemic. Pass on asking a player for their autograph next time. Ignore the supposed “sanctity” of records, which are nothing more than numbers. Instead of attaching our egos to a team, let’s respect the hard work, celebrate the talent, root for a win and leave it at that.

-Kyle Dorau, Sports Editor:

Mallia Reaches 100-Win Milestone, Blue Devils Continue to Roll

CCSU trailed less than three and a half minutes into the game as Piero Iberti put Holy Cross on the board. The lead would be short-lived, as Rob Diclemente scored the first of five unanswered goals to finish out the first period, and the Blue Devils never looked back.

Dabkowski, Mike Diclemente, Billy Edwards and Dane Anderson also added goals for the Blue Devils in the period.

Coach Mallia was happy about his milestone victory, but refused to take all the credit.

“I am not into personal accomplishments. I started coaching here five years ago and the team was pretty rock bottom,” he said. “We have had great coaches and players, and it was great to get the win. I get the satisfaction that we have gotten [so much] out of the program.”

Matt Tyksinski scored the second goal for Holy Cross to open the second period, but it would be the final offensive effort for the visitors as the Blue Devils would score another four goals to close out the game.

Dabkowski added a goal in the second period. Forward Kevin Butler, who scored a power play goal with 3:47 left in the second period, was pleased with his team’s smooth play throughout the game and stated that it was the main reason for their strong victory on the night.

“The most important thing about the way that we played tonightwas that we were fluid,” Butler said. “We had good energy. The first five minutes, we had a bit of a lapse. But the best way to deal is to be fluid.”

CCSU would add two more goals in the third from Dabkowski and Mike Diclemente, both on the powerplay.

“Tonight we didn’t play the deepest team, but they are improved from the last time we played them when we won 16-4,” Mallia said. “I give them a lot of credit.”

Netminder Craig Height saved 27 of 29 shots for the Blue Devils. Height praised his teammates’ defensive effort throughout the game.

“We got some guys in that haven’t been playing and overall we played pretty well,” Height said. “We talked in between [the first and second] periods about how we needed to tighten the defense. [The effort] was definitely big.”

Height already is looking forward to the postseason, which CCSU will be playing in regionals, as well as the national tournament in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“We now need to win two games in Albany and then we can go to Michigan for nationals,” Height said.

CCSU also defeated New York University on Saturday, by a score of 10-4. Dabkowski, as well as the Diclemente brothers, scored twice and had three assists each.

Anderson, Jeff Pease, Ryan Beaulieu and Erich Stoneman also added a goal each. Hugo Goodwin added two goals for NYU and Matthew Anderson and Patrick O’Keefe added a goal each in a losing effort.

Carmine Vetrano stopped 34 of 38 shots for the Blue Devils, helping the team sweep the weekend’s games.

Blue Devil hockey returns next weekend with an alumni game at the Newington Arena on Friday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m., followed by a match against Sacred Heart University at 8:30 p.m.

-Christopher Boulay, Asst. Sports Editor

Blue Devils Defeat FDU Knights

Women’s Basketball Pulls Off Fourth Straight Conference Win

The Blue Devils continued their resurgence on Monday night by defeating the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (9-16, 8-7) 71-69 at Rotman Center in Hackensack, N.J.

Central (16-9, 11-3) overcame a nine-point second half deficit to secure their first winning season since the 2000- 01.

Freshman Shontice Simmons led Central with 15 points while sophomore Justina Udenze put up her second consecutive double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds and scoring 12 points.

The Blue Devils lead by as many as eight points in the first half, but FDU chipped away at the CCSU lead before heading into the locker room with a two-point advantage.

Central trailed the Knights for most of the second half before they went on an 11-0 run that was capped off by a Udenze layup, giving them a two-point lead with 3:21 left in the game.

FDU managed to pull back in front but Central rallied again and gained the lead for good when sophomore Kerrianne Dugan nailed a three-point shot with 1:21 left in the game.

CCSU dominated the inside game against the Knights. The Blue Devils controlled the glass against, out-rebounding FDU 44-30 and they outscored the Knights in the paint 34-24.

Two other Blue Devils managed to tally double-digit points for the game. Sophomore Leanne Crockett put up 14 points and Gabrielle Ogelsby finished with 12.

The 16 wins are the most for the Blue Devils since the 1997-98 season when they tallied 17 victories and made their way to the semi-finals of the NEC tournament. The win is the Blue Devils fourth straight conference win.

The Blue Devils will take the court again this Saturday, Feb. 21 for Dr. Brenda Reilly Day at Detrick Gymnasium when they take on the St. Francis (N.Y.) Terriers at 4 p.m. Central with then host the conference leading Sacred Heart Pioneers on Monday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in Detrick Gymnasium.

-Peter Collin, Managing Editor:

Blue Devils Fall at Home, Reach 1,000th Win

A game that was expected to be a historic victory for the CCSU Men’s Basketball program turned into a sobering loss at the hands of Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Blue Devils did not have an answer for FDU center and Connecticut native John Galvin as Central fell 80-73 at Detrick Gymnasium on Thursday night.

Galvin, a native of Weston, Conn., went off for a career-high 22 points on 10 of 12 shooting. He also added 13 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive glass.

Central Connecticut had just seven offensive rebounds as a team. Galvin was aided by the performances of teammates Sean Baptiste and Cameron Tyler.

Baptiste scored 17 points for the Knights and eclipsed 1,000 points for his career. Tyler nearly put up a triple double by posting 23 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists.

“Discouraging, depressing, disappointing,” lamented head coach Howie Dickenman. “The effort was minimal at best.”

Dickenman quickly focused on missed opportunities in his postgame comments.

“We had a pretty high number of missed layups. Might have been seven makeable layups in just the first half.”

Those missed layups combined with FDU making the most of their opportunities up close was the difference in the ballgame.

Central trailed for the vast majority of the game, by as many as 10 points late in the first half.

The Blue Devils were able to fight back and take a one-point lead with 3:28 remaining in the game. The cushion was short-lived, as FDU’s triumvirate of Galvin, Tyler, and Baptiste all made baskets as part of an 8-0 run in the following 1:46.

The lone bright spots for CCSU included Robby Ptacek, who had the hot hand offensively all night. The freshman guard shot seven for nine from the field en route to a careerhigh 20 points.

Thompson also played well, scoring 11 points and dishing out nine assists. He played all 40 minutes for the Blue Devils.

“I thought Shemik did a solid job as far as distributing the basketball,” said Dickenman. “Robby Ptacek was solid on offense, but as far as everyone else is concerned, I don’t think we got much of an effort.”

FDU attempted to establish the inside game early, involving 6’8” Czech forward Kamil Svrdlik in the first couple offensive possessions. He scored eight points in just 15 minutes, but left the game with an apparent lower leg injury.

From that point on, it was John Galvin’s show. The Knights scored 46 points in the first half, with 34 of them coming from in the paint.

“It’s tough playing from behind,” said Thompson. “We shouldn’t have been down in the first place. We gave up way too many points. They did whatever they wanted to do on offense.”

The crowd of 1,786 on hand was looking for anything to cheer about, but had nothing to celebrate except fleeting one-point leads.

“We probably should give the fans their money back,” said Dickenman.

“This is the first time I can remember in Detrick Gym that I heard a lot of disgusted fans, some catcalls, some clapping that was sarcastic,” Dickenman said. “But you know what? We deserved it.”

Marcus Palmer and Aaron Hall each scored in double digits in the loss. Hall left the game with an injury in the second half, and did not return. He did not play on Saturday, either.

“It’s disappointing,” Thompson said. “It’s embarrassing. We should have beat them. This is a game that we needed.”

Coming off such a staggering loss, Central’s next challenge was the Division II Bryant Bulldogs, who are making the transition to Division I and will join the Northeast Conference in 2012.

“They have six wins against [Northeast] Conference opponents,” explained Dickenman. “Every game against a league opponent is their big game.”

Central’s head coach made it clear that he would rather be facing another NEC opponent instead of going out-of-conference after such a sub-standard effort.

The Blue Devils were able to bounce back on Saturday against their future conference rivals, beating Bryant 65-61 on the road in Smithfield, R.I.

Ken Horton made up for a lackluster performance on Thursday, scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds as he led CCSU to victory, number 1,000 in the program’s history.

Central shot over 54 percent from the field in the game, as they were able to keep the strong outside shooting of Bryant at bay.

It was a close contest, as the game was tied eight different times and the lead changed four times.

With the game even at 33 entering the second half, Marcus Palmer immediately responded to whatever was said to him at halftime.

The senior forward alone outscored the Bulldogs 7-0 to start the second half, with all three baskets being assisted by Shemik Thompson.

The Blue Devils now find themselves 7-7 in the NEC, and 12- 13 overall.

They head back into conference action this Thursday as they host the Sacred Heart Pioneers, who defeated the visiting Blue Devils 77- 69 on January 31. Gametime is 7 p.m. as Central attempts to put themselves back in position to host a home game in the NEC tournament.

-Kyle Dorau, Sports Editor:

The New Hope for Basketball at Central

Women’s basketball at CCSU hasn’t had many moments in the sun.

They have spent the majority of their Division I existence in the bowels of the Northeast Conference.

Much like the basketball program, head coach Beryl Piper finds herself sitting in the bowels of Kaiser Hall, out of sight and out of mind for much of the CCSU campus.

Until now.

In a remarkable turn of events the CCSU women’s basketball program has burst from the NEC basement to contention in just one season. The Blue Devils have already tallied 16 victories with four games remaining in the season and only one year after they managed just four wins.

With the team only losing one senior after the season and a strong group of underclassmen returning next year, women’s basketball at Central looks to be a strong contender for years to come.

The biggest reason for this sudden turn of events can be found just underneath Detrick Gymnasium in the form of the team’s second-year head coach.

Winning seems to follow Piper wherever she goes. During her senior year at Central, 1985-86, she led the Blue Devil basketball team to its best season ever. She won a national championship in Ireland and when she landed her first head coaching job at New Britain High School, she supervised the turnaround from an 0-20 team, to perennial contenders for the state championship.

She then proceeded to capture three during her final five seasons with the Hurricanes and became a CCSU Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee in 1999.

Then she got the call to return to her alma mater, Central Connecticut, and was charged with the task of rebuilding a program that hadn’t won more than 10 games in six seasons.

But the task of rebuilding is not something that she gravitates to.

“I don’t know why I do that,” said Piper. “I guess it’s about opportunity. At New Britain it was an opportunity to coach and I really wanted to coach and I think here, when I was approached about the job it was just an opportunity – something I wanted to do out of college.”

Her office is simple and unassuming; it doesn’t have to be anything luxurious, as Piper tends to spend most of her time on the court. Her new job no longer allows her the luxury of seeing friends and family on holidays or spending as much time as she’d like hiking with her two dogs Oliver and Reilly.

There are two basketballs that sit above her desk. Both are game balls commemorating her first collegiate victory and her first NEC victory.

Those victories were not easy to come by for Piper. She had to wait until game 10 on Dec. 12, 2006 for that first win and game 14 on Jan. 7, 2007 for that first conference win, a hard fought affair at Wagner College that the Blue Devils pulled out in overtime.

There were only two more victories for the Blue Devils that season and many wrote them off for the 2008-09 season.

The NEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll had them finishing dead last in the conference.

“I was kind of happy that the conference picked us 11th,” said C.J. Jones the Athletic Director at CCSU and the man responsible for bringing Coach Piper into the fold at Central. “Because I would have bet the house, the ranch and everything else that we were not going to finish 11th in the conference.”

Jones has been a fan of Coach Piper for years all the way back to Piper’s days as a playerand Jones’ days as an assistant for the men’s basketball team.

He looked to bring her in on more than one occasion, but encountered resistance from some at CCSU who felt it would be a mistake to hire someone with no college experience.

“Probably about five or six years ago I had some interest in her coming in to coach Central,” said Jones. “There was some hesitation on the administration’s part that someone from high school would be successful on the college level. Obviously I didn’t have any doubts, but at that time it wasn’t the right time to fight city hall and bring Beryl in.”

Piper has always been a part of Connecticut and that is something Jones has always wanted in his coaches.

After playing three sports for Trumbull High School, Piper jumped at the chance to play basketball for the Blue Devils and CCSU Alumni Hall of Fame coach Dr. Brenda Reilly as a freshman in 1982.

It wasn’t long before Piper helped lead a turnaround in the Blue Devil program. Central went from 9-18 her sophomore year to 24-4 in her senior season. The season was the perfect stepping stone for the Blue Devils to make the jump from Division II to Division I women’s basketball.

“Knowing the success that she had at New Britain, it makes you want to be around people that are successful… The record speaks for itself,” said assistant coach Glenn Senecal. “I saw New Britain play and I knew the style that they play and the style she likes to play – and to me that’s a lot of fun.”

Senecal watched Piper as he was recruiting some of her players at New Britain High School. Like Piper, he feels at home at Central, which is a far closer commute than his last job at the University of Albany.

“She makes it fun to come to work,” said Senecal. “The success that we’ve had so far, it shows just what kind of style and what kind of coach she is.”

That aspect of fun in Piper’s game is what keeps her players going, too. Piper reaches her team through hands-on coaching, as is evidencedby her heavy involvement in practices and her desire to show players rather than just telling them about how they need to improve.

“She’s been there. She was a player when she played here in college, so she knows what it’s like. The monotony sometimes of a four- or five-month season – she knows how to break that up,” said junior P.J. Wade, who is one of three players left from the pre-Piper era. “We have extremely hard preseason workouts and a lot of times people used to give up in past seasons.”

Like Wade, most of the players on the team respect Piper’s former experience as a college player and for her time playing professionally in Ireland. Piper’s open-door policy and that of her coaches allows them to easily relate to players.

Even though Piper has been part of numerous turnarounds in her career, she isn’t necessarily looking for the tough assignments; they tend to find her. She was simply looking for the next opportunity and it just so happened that every time she had the challenge of rebuilding the team in front of her.

For now, the only things in front of her are the NEC playoffs and pushing her players to go farther than any other team before them in the tournament.

Wade says that the “never say die” attitude of this year’s team is something that has rubbed off from Coach Piper.

“This season people really wanted to get it done,” Wade said, “to be the best that we could be in the preseason.”

Losing has been a pattern for women’s basketball at CCSU, but it’s something that Piper and the team haven’t let it become acceptable.

“It hasn’t been because the kids haven’t allowed that to happen,” Piper said, “… they stepped up in a positive way.”

-Peter Collin, Managing Editor:

Sexting is Stupid, but Not Criminal

Six Massachusetts middle school students are facing possible child pornography charges after sending a nude photo of a female classmate on their cell phones. If convicted, they would be forced to register as sex offenders.

One of the boys, age 13, took a nude picture of his girlfriend and then proceeded to send it to his friends. When school officials became aware of what was going on, the boys were immediately reported to the principal, who then confiscated the cell phones and then reported the incident to the police.

The six boys will now be forced to attend a hearing to determine if they should be charged with possessing, distributing and exhibiting child pornography. These boys acted distastefully and immaturely, but should they be branded as sex offenders for the rest of their lives?

The intent of child pornography laws is to prevent perverted adults from exploiting children, and these boys were clearly not attempting to do this. As it is, the girlfriend allowed the boy to take a picture of her.

Occasionally the legal system loses sight of common sense. That explains why robbers are able to sue you if they get hurt when stealing something from inside of your home. Americans need to take a step back and use some common sense in this situation. These boys are not sex offenders or child pornographers but products of an overly sexual society, who simply decided to ogle over a classmate.

Unfortunately this phenomena known as “sexting” has become somewhat of an epidemic. According to a national survey conducted by the National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, about 20 percent of teens admitted to participating in “sexting”.

The survey also found that 22 percent of teen girls have taken part in “sexting”. As evidenced by this recent case, girls need to realize that “sexted” images often get distributed to a much wider audience than the intended viewers. This statistic is somewhat troubling as well as telling of the culture that we live in.

It is time to smarten up. An underdeveloped frontal lobe is not excuse to abandon all foresight. In the age of the Internet, these types of pictures will remain in circulation forever.

Unless you plan on becoming the next Paris Hilton, or feel that your future boss seeing you naked will help increase your chances of being hired, take the smart route and don’t give naked pictures of yourself to anyone. Boyfriends can become ex-boyfriends quickly, and many times break-ups can cause people to do nasty things like revealing personal pictures that were meant to be private.

As college students, we are the leaders of our generation. We cannot let promiscuity define us and we cannot allow explicitly sexual behavior to appear at such early ages. Legally, there should be no consequences for such actions, but we must reevaluate what defines appropriate behavior as our cultural standards of decency continue to decline.

-Shauna Simeone, Asst. Opinion Editor

New Britain Could Provide Perfect Space for Art

According to a front-page article in the New Britain Herald earlier this month, post-industrial New Britain has an art scene “surprisingly robust for a city of 70,000 people.” The mayor, a business owner and New Britain’s commissioner for the arts all agreed, and were quoted in the article throwing around words like “culture,” “imperative,” “opportunity” and “unique.”

Unfortunately, the article failed to quote any actual artists or CCSU art students. Had it, the piece would have probably have been littered with words and phrases like “cheap”, “better facilities” and “what art scene?”

The idea that the town, or state, has been at all hospitable toward local artists is ridiculous.

Last year, when Central art students began their “art needs space” campaign, in which about a dozen CCSU students fought for studio space for students to work, the school gave them two ill-equipped rooms on the third floor of the
ITBD building – an off-campus conference center for local businesses.

Before professors stopped bringing classes over to the space because of its inadequacies, whenever the petty professionals that work in the building walked by the “studios” – one of which had walls constructed out of glass – students
were given the impression they were sitting in a fish tank. In at least one instance, a man in a tie actually rapped his knuckles against the glass to get the students attention for some unknown purpose.

The best part of this story is probably the fact that the Herald’s article featured a map of downtown, including the ITBD building, but never labeled the studio space that the school toted as progress for the arts. It did point out, however, sites like Central Park – a glorified road median, where “Musicians play during summer lunchtimes.” The entire piece ignored the actual events taking place in the area, like last week’s AVIARY opening, in favor of mentioning some vague “art programs” at Central, or stating that City Hall counts as an art gallery.

The reader is given the impression that the two contributing writers had a theory, in which New Britain was an “arts mecca” instead of a collection of abandoned buildings, and
sought out to prove it at all costs. Now, that isn’t to say that this postage stamp of a city doesn’t have potential.

The fact that most of New Britain seems to be made up of abandoned buildings might actually make it the ideal candidate for an arts rebirth – and the creeping economic depression might finally force politicians to begin funding the arts

Industrialization isn’t coming back to Connecticut. This, it seems, we may have already accepted. But why not try something new? Hartford has insurance and New Haven has the ports—so when will Connecticut get an arts city? If the town were to purchase a cluster of buildings relatively near each other (buildings that can be purchased, between the location and the bust real estate market, for nearly nothing) and give them as nearly rent-free space to artists, with yearly solo exhibitions as part of the lease contract?

What about other abandoned spaces around town? CCSU is the only school in the country with a mural painting program; New Britain High School has an art teacher who has painted murals not only all over the state, but internationally. Why not actually give the schools the resources – and the space – to make art a community experience? There are guaranteed more than enough talented street artists and storeowners that would be willing to work together in order to make something that would benefit both themselves and the entire town.

Following the 1929 economic collapse our country saw the state hire muralists to both create jobs and use public art to propagate ideas of the wealth that was promised to come. Why not hire any of the number of qualified sculptures,
painters or designers graduating from Central every semester to both ensure jobs and foster a creative culture?

Arts means culture and, more importantly to tax payers, it means commerce. It means restaurants, the buying and selling of paintings, jazz cafes, bars and an actual reason to read the Herald. It would mean a new reason for students to attend Central, and offer them something that no other state school can—a real art program with a high success rate for graduating art students.

New Britain has a long way to come in not only art, but in every way. What city officials, as well as CCSU administrators need to think about is how, in a failing business climate, to invest money in new and more creative ways.

-Marissa Blaszko, Opinion Editor: