Oliver’s Twist on These ‘Terrifying Times’
Ever since Briton John Oliver appeared as a correspondent on The Daily Show, I’ve wanted to see more of his work, and have hoped to some day be able to talk to him. Thanks to a Comedy Central special, I got to do both this past week. On Sunday, Mr. Oliver starred in his own one-hour stand-up special, “Terrifying Times,” in which he discussed the scariness that is world politics. Instead of crude humor, Mr. Oliver made intelligent observations about serious situations put in a comedic light. A few days before “Terrifying Times” aired, I was able to talk to Mr. Oliver by phone about his transition into comedy, his work on The Daily Show, and his new comedy special. Below is an excerpt.
Dear Uncle, there’s madness afoot
Last week, The Tech sat down with Anna Kohler, Senior Lecturer in MIT’s Musical and Theater Arts Department, who is directing MIT Dramashop’s most recent production, My Uncle, a reimagination of Anton Chekhov’s classic 1897 play Uncle Vanya, which explores the ideas of wasted life, frustrated desire, and alienation in the setting of a Russian country estate. But My Uncle transports us into the frame of a mental asylum: The MIT student actors are mental patients who, as part of a “Drama Therapy” session, put on a stunning version of Uncle Vanya where Chekhov’s characters are played by two actors each and where the dramatic illusion is periodically interrupted by reminders of the hospital.
The sounds behind Final Fantasy
The Tech had the chance to speak with Grammy award-winning conductor, composer, and music director Arnold Roth about his performance of Final Fantasy soundtracks at Boston’s Symphony Hall last Saturday as part of his Distant Worlds concert series. He reveals his connection to video game and film music, talks about the relationship to his close friend Nobuo Uematsu, the original composer of the Final Fantasy soundtracks, and explains what makes video game fans a great audience for classical music in our exclusive interview!
Is Schrödinger’s cat dead?
Dustin R. Katzin ’12 is a quintessential MIT renaissance scholar, whose impressively diverse achievements are a testament to the remarkable breadth of MIT education and simultaneously set stratospheric standards for the rest of us. A scientist and artist in one, in the four short years of college, Dustin has managed not only to complete a double major in physics and mathematics, dazzle his peers with musical artistry and stay involved in myriad other extracurriculars, but also to have fun while doing it. His crowning artistic achievement is Schrödinger’s Cat: a Musical Journey into the Strange World of Quantum Mechanics, a programmatic orchestral work that was premiered by MITSO last Friday. I sat down with Dustin to talk about music and life at MIT.
From Africa to MIT
Arthur Musah ’04, MEng ’05, who graduated from MIT in Course 6, left Ghana to come to the Institute in order to pursue a world-class education and engage in the global conversation. Like Musah, five students — Fidelis Chimombe, Mosa Issachar, Sante Nyambo, Billy Ndengeyingoma, and Philip Abel — left their respective home countries of Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Nigeria, and One Day I Too Go Fly aims to chronicle their four years at the Institute and how their identities are molded by their experiences.
Getting into the Dramashop’s Margo Veil
Dramashop’s production of Margo Veil plays this weekend and next. The play starts with an explosion, indicating a war. Set in a recording studio, the cast makes a radio-show with entertainment of all forms: romance, action, magic, religion. The titular character is an actress whose soul gets transferred to different bodies. The Tech interviewed cast member, Princess Len M. Carlos ’13.
Existentialism in a hotel room
MIT Dramashop’s production of No Exit, based on the work of existentialist playwright Jean-Paul Sartre, takes place in the afterlife, where three damned souls are locked in a tacky hotel room together. The Tech spoke with director Adam Strandberg ’14 about his experience directing the play.
Interview with singer-songwriter Kae Sun
Born and raised in Ghana, Kae Sun moved to Canada when he was just a teen. Entering the music scene as a student in Hamilton was never an intentional decision for him, but that initial spontaneity has evolved into a promising music career, with two full-length albums released and an ongoing tour.
Lessons from the good love stories
Hey, you. Yes, you, at MIT with the glasses and the projected science degree. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has relationship advice for you. And it is nerdy.
Mapping Vietnamese sidewalk life and street vending
Last Thursday you might have noticed a red-tape line running through campus. The line ran from Lobby 7 up to the third floor Wolk Gallery for the opening of Sidewalk City, a mini-exhibit by Urban Studies Professor Annette Kim and her group SLAB, the sidewalk laboratory. The Tech caught up with Professor Kim about the new exhibit.
An interview with the Queen of the Night
This year, the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO), New England’s largest opera company, has an exciting season lineup. Their first production, a new English adaptation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, marks the highly anticipated debut of soprano So Young Park, currently a student at the New England Conservatory (NEC). She will be interpreting the iconic role of the Queen of the Night.
Overcoming failure to succeed, Pixar-style
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to interview Kori Rae, a producer from Pixar, about the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of Monsters University. Rae has been working at Pixar since 1993, and has contributed to films such as A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Up, The Incredibles and Monsters University.
From MIT to Ice Rink
The Tech: When did you start ice dancing, and how did you keep up with it at MIT?
Halved Hamlet, twice the fun
Last Tuesday, I sat down with the director and two leads of the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s production of Hamlet. The director, J. Paul Nicholas, previously worked with the Ensemble on the spring 2012 production of The Tempest. Keenan A. Sunderwirth ’14 and Mark L. Velednitsky ’14, the actors I spoke with, are no strangers to either the Ensemble or the stage — both MIT seniors have worked on eight shows in their time here, and began acting at ages 6 and 7 respectively.
“Your future starts with your choices today”
Boston Ballet corps de ballet member Diana Albrecht spoke with The Tech about her career in ballet as well as her favorite moments of La Bayadère. A native of Paraguay, Albrecht has been dancing since she was three years old, and professionally since she was 16 years old. In La Bayadère, her roles include dancing as a bayadère (Hindu temple dancer) in the first act, in the fan waltz in the second act, and as a shade in Solor’s dream in the third act.
The head and the heart
World-famous pianist and American music specialist Alan Feinberg was an artist-in-residence at MIT the week of the Boston lockdown last April. His recital, originally scheduled for that fateful Friday evening, will now take place tonight, Friday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. in Killian Hall.
‘There is nothing sexier than a smart person.’
In 2001, Missy Suicide (Selena Mooney) co-founded SuicideGirls, a website that features pin-up photography and profiles of alternative female models, as a way to show the world that there is more than one way to be beautiful. Seven of the “SuicideGirls” featured on the site will come to Boston’s House of Blues on Nov. 17 to star in Blackheart Burlesque. The Tech caught up with the show’s organizer, Missy Suicide, about her thoughts on the show, stereotypes, and the sexiness of engineering.
Capturing a temporary home
I sat down with Nora Vrublevska in the Wiesner Art Gallery, walls lined with her black and white prints, to discuss the inception of her exhibit entitled Cambridge at Night. Vrublevska, a native Latvian, has been interested in photography for most of her life. When she was younger, she saved her lunch money to buy 35mm film and develop photos, but she says, “I didn’t really know what I was doing; I was photographing at that time but I didn’t get really serious until I came here.”
‘A wonderful holiday tradition’
Boyko Dossev, a native of Bulgaria, is a corps de ballet member of the Boston Ballet and has been dancing with the company since 2006. He took time out of their busy Nutcracker schedule to chat with The Tech about the show and the life of a ballet dancer.
Art via recycling
Nearly every month since 2011 MIT has hosted a “Choose-to-Reuse” event in the Stata Center lobby, sponsored by the Department of Facilities, Sustainability@MIT, and Green. During the event, community members donate and trade unwanted items. The overarching goal is to promote a culture of recycling and reducing waste. This year they are giving the program an arts-spin by collaborating with sculptural artist Kyle Haines. Haines will repurpose items from Choose-to-Reuse, as well other items found at MIT, into MIT-themed sculptures. His final pieces will be displayed on campus during Earth Week this coming April. He will begin collecting goods at the next Choose-to-Reuse event this Friday. He caught up with The Tech to explain his motives behind the project and how art can relate to the MIT community.
Science fiction writer and MIT professor Joe Haldeman on his newest book
Joe Haldeman is a well-known science fiction author and adjunct professor in CMS/writing at MIT. He recently spoke with The Tech about his latest novel, Work Done For Hire.
James Ashby on Starpocalypse
James Ashby founded SMBC Theater with Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comics writer Zach Weinersmith in 2009, and they have just released Starpocalypse, the first of three planned web series.
For some artists, moving to another location can be an insignificant part of their life, but for the English-born musician Jam Rostron, this decision was more than just switching her address. Rostron, more commonly known by her stage name PLANNINGTOROCK, is a Germany-based musician and producer who moved from UK’s Bolton to Berlin at a young age and rediscovered herself. As an established persona in the alternative and underground scene, Rostron has been delivering some of the most unique and unusual music for the past few years. Last month, we took the opportunity to chat with her about her upcoming album All Love’s Legal, her musical roots and the direction of her career.
Dramashop’s production of Arcadia continues this week, with performances from Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. in Little Kresge Theater. The play draws parallels between two eras of residents at Sidley Park in England their rumination on science and love. While the play asks serious questions about determinism and love, there are also plenty of laughs. The Tech interviewed cast members Keenan A. Sunderwirth ’14 and Garrett W. Schulte ’17.
While it still seems like winter outside, spring is just around the corner. Luckily, Lori Kyler Christensen began showing pieces from her label Venni Caprice’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection last week (http://www.vennicaprice.com). Christensen’s line is filled with fun dresses and bohemian prints. While the adventurous designs are not for everyone, Christensen also had some interesting insights into the clothing design process. The Tech had the opportunity to view Christensen’s collection for Venni Caprice and ask her about her designing process.
Aaron Paul has a need for speed
Aaron Paul is best known for his role as Jesse Pinkman on “Breaking Bad,” and he’s a champion of independent films as well. But while DreamWorks’ Need For Speed is a major studio release and is based on a video game franchise no less, it was too fun a role for him to turn down.
A good conversation about bad words
Jason Bateman might be well known as the affable pushover Michael Bluth on Arrested Development, but he leads Bad Words as the sarcastic antihero Guy Trilby, who hijacks a spelling bee for children and tells off anyone who questions him. The type of role is not all that’s new here: the film is also Bateman’s first time in the director’s chair. He was recently available for a college press roundtable, where he discussed the difficult balance between caustic and sweet that was needed to make this film work.
The Tech talks with cast from Divergent
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for clarity.
The Tech interviews Leonard Nimoy
Over spring break I had the incredible opportunity to interview Leonard Nimoy. While he is perhaps best known for his role as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, Mr. Nimoy is also a renowned and talented photographer. Mr. Nimoy shares his experiences with photography, his projects, and MIT. His photography is being shown at the Sherman Gallery at Boston University until May 9.
A conversation with John Lyons Murphy
The Tech interviewed John Lyons Murphy, producer of Broken Kingdom and Kingdom Come. Murphy spoke about his experiences with both films, as well as his thoughts on independent film as a whole.
Dramashop welcomes spring with a dark comedy
Walking down the infinite corridor, you might have noticed the slightly demonic child on the poster for Dramashop’s latest production of The Pillowman. It’s hard to miss, as it looks like the cover of a horror film. The Tech chatted with cast members Salvador Esparza Jr. ’14 and Adam K. Strandberg ’14 about the production, their experiences as actors, and their early days in Dramashop.
Chatting with MIT Ballroom Dance Team
Tomorrow Rockwell Cage will shine with crystal-studded costumes, sleek hairdos, and elegant tail suits as dancers from different areas gather for MIT Open, the annual ballroom dance competition organized by MIT Ballroom Dance Team. The Tech took this opportunity to visit the team members during their weekend practice and talk about preparations, the team’s progress, and dancing in general.
70 plastic bottles + 1 artist = 2 trees + 1 hammock
Editor’s Note: Some parts of this interview were shortened and edited for clarity.
Pricked will showcase extremes of ballet
Patrick Yocum began dancing eleven years ago, in his hometown of Souderton, PA. After graduating high school, he trained for a year at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, and then joined the Boston Ballet II trainee program, working his way through to join the Corps de Ballet in 2011. He spoke to The Tech about life as a dancer, and Boston Ballet’s upcoming performance of Pricked.
Understanding the power of art and architecture
Can art and architecture help heal cultural conflicts? Azra Akšamija PhD ’11 explores the power of art and architecture in resolving conflicts and identifying contexts in which these conflicts can be analyzed and explored. Akšamija is an Assistant Professor at the Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) program and MIT’s Department of Architecture, where she works as an artist and architectural historian in addition to teaching both undergraduate and graduate classes. She recently talked to The Tech about her origins, the ideas behind her projects, and her artistic vision of helping resolve the lingering conflicts in her native country, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The story behind Boston Calling
Even though only in its fourth installment, the three-day Boston Calling Music Festival is already becoming a landmark of Boston’s entertainment scene. The lineup for this week’s shows includes The War on Drugs, Lorde, The National, Nas with The Roots, and Future Islands. The Tech recently interviewed Brian Appel, co-founder of Boston Calling, to find out how the festival was conceived and what happens behind the scenes during the show.
Since its premiere over 400 years ago, the timeless story of Othello has seen many interpretations. MIT’s Shakespeare Ensemble presents the title character as a female boxer, an exciting twist on the tale of intrigue and betrayal. The Tech interviewed director Susanna Noon and lead actress Samantha Harper ’16 to learn about their vision for the play and the challenges they faced behind the scenes.
Death, dogs, and songs surround MTG’s upcoming production, Lucky Stiff
The MIT Musical Theatre Guild has had a busy IAP preparing for the opening night of their latest production, Lucky Stiff. In the words of director Jon Sue-Ho ’13, the production tells “the story of a pathetic British shoe salesman who in order to inherit six million dollars from his uncle must take his uncle’s corpse on a vacation to Monte Carlo.”
Boston Calling co-founder talks to The Tech
The fall installment of this year’s Boston Calling Music Festival will occur on Sept. 25-27, filling City Hall Plaza with live concert performances all through the weekend. Although Boston Calling has only been around since 2013, it has already gained an impressive following, received national acclaim, and has attracted prominent artists such as Bastille, Lorde, Tove Lo, and Marina and the Diamonds. The Tech recently interviewed Mike Snow, one of the co-founders of Boston Calling, to talk about the festival’s conception and successes.
The Tech talks to Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is a man with great respect for history. Early in his four-decade career, his films were archetypes of Hollywood blockbusters — the modern adventure and sci-fi genres were built upon Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, among his other works. He then sojourned into new territory, broaching humanistic themes in critically acclaimed historical dramas. His WWII-era portrayals of the struggles of two remarkable men in Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan showed that he had the skill and tenacity to recreate pivotal events in history through cinema.
Author Emma Donoghue talks to The Tech
Told from the perspective of 5-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay), Room, a 2010 novel by Emma Donoghue, is a captivating tale about Jack and his mother, Ma, who are confined to a small room with no exposure to the outside world. Except for the occasional nighttime visit from their captor, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), Jack and Ma (Brie Larson) spend all of their time with each other, playing games, watching TV, and reading books. Ma knows what lies beyond the walls, but as far as Jack knows, the room is his entire world.
Behind the scenes of Zootopia
Nick Orsi is a Visual Development Artist from Disney who spent a year working on developing Nick Wilde, the con artist fox protagonist of Zootopia. After a special animation presentation to the MIT community, I sat with him for a quick conversation.
The Tech speaks to Sacha Baron Cohen about The Brothers Grimsby
“I gotta say one thing: fuck Harvard!” This was the first thing Sacha Baron Cohen said when he walked on stage at the screening of his new movie, The Brothers Grimsby.
My Brightest Diamond
Shara Nova (formerly Shara Worden), the acclaimed multi-instrumentalist known for her versatile musical repertoire and artistic moniker My Brightest Diamond, visited Boston on March 17 as part of Stave Sessions, a set of chamber music concerts organized by The Celebrity Series of Boston and featuring innovative and eclectic musicians and performers. The Tech took the opportunity to talk to Nova about her latest album, inspirations, and live performances before attending her intimate, two-hour concert at Berklee College of Music.
The Porch Yellers lament the "Dormpocalypse"
It’s official: we’ve entered the songwriting stage of the pervasive discontent among students about the state of dorm life on campus.
Our cool history professors
Both Minhaj and Wood agree that since we have a “comedian” running (in reference to Donald Trump), their comedy has been affected. Minhaj commented that political culture has become popular culture, saying that the “GOP ran the election like a high school election.” Wood said that as a comedian, you have to “cook with the ingredients you have,” and that the personal attacks that Clinton and Trump sling at each other provides them “ammunition.”
Making the world a better place, one startup at a time
College editors speak with Big Head actor Josh Brener as HBO’s Silicon Valley comes back for season four.
‘Art is a part of our community. It’s already here’
I’ve sat down with Sarah Quinn ’17, a recent Course 18 graduate who has recently left MIT to become a hip-hop artist, to talk about her experience here and her journey to become the artist she is today. Just take a moment to absorb that.
Martin, Jiang on accessibility, student autonomy, and mental health
Current UA Vice President Alexa Martin '19 and UA Secretary Kathryn Jiang '20 are running as a pair for UA President and Vice President, respectively.
Sheryl Sandberg on the importance of social solutions and the responsibility of technologists
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is MIT’s 2018 commencement speaker. In a short phone interview, she highlighted the message she wants to convey in her speech and discussed how MIT students contribute to the hope she has for the world.
Legion M and the future of production
A discussion with the President of Legion M, the first fan-owned production company. We discuss the balance between fan ownership and fan rule, why engineers are awesome, and what to expect from the upcoming release, MANDY.
Health food isn’t just kale juice. It’s also a juicy burger
“Our main motivation in creating the book was that we saw that undernourishment was such detriment to runners of all levels, ages and genders due to disordered eating habits that can result in all sorts of health issues like stress fractures and other injuries,” said co-author Elyse Kopecky.
Rami Malek and co-stars talk Queen
The Tech interviews Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, and Joseph Mazzello about upcoming ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ The Freddie Mercury biopic hopes to bring a deeper context of the singer’s life and the British rock band Queen’s rise to stardom.
That’s one big wall
Alex Honnold did the unimaginable — he free soloed El Capitán for the very first time, climbing to the top without ropes at all…
Steve Carell on addiction in ‘Beautiful Boy’
Steve Carell, an actor many may know and love from comedies such as The Office and 40-Year-Old Virgin, embarks on a project very different from much of his recent work. In an interview regarding his recent performance in the drama Beautiful Boy, Carell sheds light on his experience portraying the father of a crystal meth addict.
A dish beyond imagination: Clover Food Lab’s Meatball Sandwich
Unlike the other items at Clover that celebrate plants in their natural form, the Impossible Meatball Sandwich turns the inconceivable to reality. The meatball is made using something called Impossible Meat, a vegan meat substitute.
Professor Tod Machover talks Schoenberg, composing for opera, and the power of words
In an interview with The Tech, Machover discusses Schoenberg’s legacy, the challenges of adapting his life into an opera, and how it all came together.
Rona Wang ’21 talks identity, art, and writing the heroes of your own story
“That was something that was really important to me,” said Wang. “To write stories in which Chinese people or Chinese American people could be the heroes of their own stories.”
An interview with Ben Platt and Julia Schlaepfer on ‘The Politician’
It is a show marked by its Wes Anderson aesthetics, wildly exaggerated characters, and bountiful twists and turns.
Nobel Laureate Jim Allison talks cancer research, science education, and advice for aspiring researchers
Jim Allison won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2018 for pioneering the use of immunotherapy against cancer. In an interview with The Tech, Allison talks about the past, present, and future of cancer research, along with giving some general advice for scientists.
Kenji López-Alt: The Nerd King of Internet Cooking
It seemed as though a career spent experimenting with food would be more fun than with cell cultures for López-Alt.
‘Burden’ takes on the weight of a story too heavy for one film
The ideas in ‘Burden’ are ultimately more compelling than their execution.
An interview with John David Washington on ‘Tenet,’ a film that couldn’t have been more ‘Nolan’-ized
Tenet is quite literally a time-bending journey to stop a Russian oligarch from using technology that could lead to apocalyptic consequences.
Kyle Markland ’22 just released his first album, ‘September’s Child’
MIT students aren’t particularly known for their creative pursuits, but Kyle Markland ’22 definitely subverts that stereotype. In his debut album, Kyle pairs multi-instrumental prowess with an impressive vocal range to carve out his unique sound.
A moving undercover thriller based on true events
‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ leaves us thinking about what could have been had Chairman Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party been alive today.
Teaching a nation to cook
‘Julia’ is the portrayal of a female icon that we need — inspirational, humanizing and comforting.
Seeking salvation through sketching: an artistic journey beginning in solitary confinement
Known as one of the best tattoo artists in Maine’s Department of Corrections, Pilsbury had a never-ending list of clients waiting for tattoos, for which he was often compensated with instant ramen because it is the currency of prison, a place without cash.
Inspiring a new generation of justice-centered video game designers
“[Making a game for social justice] is a lot more than just showing an image of a person having to make choices in their life and pointing out how hard their life is, because that is just upholding one image of what it means to be a Black or Brown person rather than allowing for more representation or power. I don't want a Brown face in a game that has no Brown people behind it. I want to write that game.”