Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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Trip to the Met

Two weeks ago JJ and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve been to the Met a couple of times before and going there is always great. The Met is huge so I’m just going to talk about the places where we spent the most time.

The Met is arranged thematically in that different sections are dedicated to art from particular areas, time periods, and in the case of Arms and Armor, function. Each of these sections is set up in a way that enhances the pieces displayed in it. This is done through various ways such as lighting, arrangement, and even architecture. For example, the American Wing had giant marble pillars framing one of its entrances that were reminiscent of those found outside various government buildings.

The first place we visited was the Egyptian Wing. In this section the lighting was dimmed, likely to reduce any harmful effect on the pieces. This also had the effect of helping focus attention back on the pieces. Also the architecture was set up to have an “Egyptian” feel. Its amazing how artwork thats literally thousand of years old is so well preserved. JJ and I noted how some pieces had still retained their color. My favorite part of this section is the Temple of Dendur. Its housed in a huge room thats set up in a way to reflect where the temple once stood in Egypt. The sandstone temple is surrounded by water. The water even has sculptures of Egyptian crocodiles.

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JJ and the temple 🙂

The temple itself has intricate carvings both on its insides and outsides. They depict a variety of things such as the Egyptian gods and figures making sacrifices to them. The story of how they brought the temple to the United States and installed it in the museum is really interesting. I recommend reading it if you find yourself in the Met.

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The Egyptian Wing led us into the American Wing. My favorite piece here was the Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. I previously mentioned this piece in my first post. It’s funny how I managed to come full circle with my final one :D.

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The piece is on the walls of a large circular room. It has the effect of making the viewer feel as though he’s actually standing in the grounds of the palace. This says a lot about the artists skill in regard to spacial arrangement. I tried to recreate the effect by taking a panoramic picture with my phone, but failed miserably. I couldn’t even fit the entire room in one photo.

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Pedestal in the center of the room with information about the palace.

Pedestal in the center of the room with information about the palace.

We also spent a lot of time in the Arms and Armor Section. It’s interesting to note the creativity that went into tools designed for death. In the center of the section is grand display made out of knights on horseback. The scale gives you an idea of what knights riding into battle might have looked like. Another thing I noticed was the disparity between armor and weapons made for royalty, and that of the common man. The weapons and armor of nobility were extremely intricate and ornate whereas those of the average person was rather simple. An example of this is a gilded bronze sword that was made for a prince.

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While it’s hard to tell in the picture, the hilt of the sword has intricate engravings that depict the Virgin Mary and the Archangel banishing Satan.

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With the exception of the interestingly shaped crossguard, these are swords by comparion are quite plain. Here’s some other things in the section that I found interesting.

The armor in the center was made for a five year old prince.

The armor in the center was made for a five year old prince.

Samurai Armor

Samurai Armor

More Samurai!

More Samurai!

An interesting chart showing European armor development over a thousand years.

An interesting chart showing European armor development over a thousand years.

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An actual catapult projectile used during the crusades.




December 21, 2012   1 Comment

Hitchcock and Stand-up

I had a blast at BAM. Hitchcock was great but the stand-up left me a little disappointed.

Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren did a great job portraying Hitchcock and Alma. Hopkins walks and talks in the same style that Hitchcock is famous for. I think the film’s strength lies in the fact that it focuses on the complex relationship between the two. I liked the fact that the film chose to highlight Alma’s importance rather than just focus on Hitchcock. I’m glad that I read up about Hitchcock before seeing the film because I was able to catch a lot of the details that the filmakers included both about the way he worked and the way he acted.


The  second floor of BAM was gorgeous. The lights and holiday decorations made it even better. It even had a map of the US made out of different pieces of cloth.


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Not sure why the host’s eyes are glowing


The stand-up performances left a a lot to be desired. The host was alright. He did a pretty good job warming up the audience. The guy after him wasn’t so great. The second guy made me laugh a little but that was mostly due to the way he said Frank Langella.  The woman after them was pretty funny. I heard that the last performer was amazing. I wish I could have stayed to see him but my lab Professor decided right then and there to demand that everyone in the class upload their presentations by 11:00 that night :/.

December 21, 2012   1 Comment

Uptown Showdown: Hanukkah vs Christmas

I had a great time at the mock debate at symphony space. Prior to the show, I had no idea who the performers were, but I was impressed by their credentials. They were able to take somewhat of a difficult topic and turn it into something that was pretty funny.

While certain performers on both sides didn’t stand out too well, overall the two teams did a great job. I couldn’t decide which team was funnier at the end because they both had their moments. The only regret I had was that I missed a handful of the jokes because I didn’t get the references behind them. Most of these jokes came from the Hanukkah side, and were based off knowledge that I didn’t have because of my unfamiliarity with the holiday.

Something I noticed both teams do, was walk a very fine line between humor and overly crude humor. While the line was crossed several times during the night, the comedians always seemed to bring themselves back. This reminded me of what pitchmen need to do to keep their crowds. They have to keep their attention, but at the same time they can’t come across as overly needy or aggressive. Similarly, by venturing too far into the crude zone comedians risk alienating a large part of their audience.

November 27, 2012   2 Comments

The Tempest

Prior to seeing The Tempest, the only things I knew about the opera largely came from its portrayal in film and television.  Thus I expected it to be a long, boring drawn out affair which only rich people attended. Nevertheless after seeing the small preview video in class I couldn’t help but be excited. After seeing the show, I can say that I wasn’t disappointed.

The opera opened dramatically by depicting the storm at the beginning of the play. I really liked the opera’s take on it. The turbulent sea looked almost real and Ariel dangling above the scene reinforced the fact that the storm wasn’t a natural one. Ariel’s performance was amazing. Honestly I didn’t even know human beings could make those kind of sounds. While this is a testament to the singers skill I also think it emphasizes the fact that Ariel isn’t a human character but rather a sprite.

In the beginning of the play I found it hard to get immersed in the story. Our seats were really far away and I had to constantly look at the subtitles. However, as time went on it became easier. I started playing attention less to how far we were and more to the quality of the performers voices. I began to notice the amazing range the voices had. I saw how they were able to raise and lower their voices to reflect the mood of the character at the time. I also noticed how the music followed the highs and lows of the voices perfectly and created a sort of a compound effect that amplified them both. The effect was so powerful that I had trouble getting a few of the melodies out of my head long after the opera was over.

The costumes and set design was also amazing. I liked how the set was dynamic, and sometimes changed to reflect what the characters were doing. It also helped add physical dept to certain scenes. Overall the costumes were pretty fantastic too, especially Ariel’s. I remember the glitter from the costume reflecting all the way to the ceiling.

I’m glad we were able to go the opera. It’s definitely an experience that I’m to going remember for a long time.


November 12, 2012   1 Comment

ICP Photo and Luz

The photo I chose to analyze was one of the Soweto Uprising. It was taken by South African photographer Peter Magobane on June 16, 1976.

There is a dirt road. Litter made up of crumpled pieces of paper lies on either side of it. In the center of the road lies a solitary crushed soda can. On the sides of the road grass grows out of control. It’s clear thats it is unkept. The grass is dotted with the litter that was previously mentioned and with a large metal can.

In the foreground of the image there are four male figures in the center of the road. The man on the left has clenched fists. He seems to be advancing in the direction of the cameraman. He wears pants and a shirt with what seems to be a suit jacket. His face seems to be contorted with rage, likely this anger is directed at  his oppressors.

The second male seems more boyish. He wears pants and a shirt. He is armed with a trashcan lid in one hand, and a large stone in the other. There is a cloth wrapped around his the bottom part of his face, making it look like he is wearing a half balaclava.

The third male is slightly behind the two. He’s wearing a shirt and pants. He is slightly hunched over. He is cringing as though something might hit him at any moment. He is holding an open wooden crate and is raising it slightly, as if to block something.

The forth man has his back to us, but is looking in the direction of the camera. He is wearing pants anda suit jacket. Judging by the way he’s standing, it looks as though he’s running away from something.

The background of the picture is blurry. There are more figures in it, but they al have their backs to us. It’s unclear whether or not they are trying to get away from what the four men in the foreground are looking at.


Trip to see Luz at La Mama

Overall I really enjoyed Luz. I think it was great that the author chose to center the play around violence against women. I think its something that’s not discussed enough, especially in theater. I liked how the playwright Catherine Filloux was able to weave this theme into the narrative and have it connect such diverse characters. It speaks to the fact the violence against women is everywhere and transcends economic and country lines.

I liked how the author used dream/past sequences to reveal certain plot points. I think it was an interesting choice that highlighted the facts revealed during those particular sequences and helped aid in characterization. I also liked how the lighting and music changes helped emphasize the shit in tone during this scenes.

My only complaint with Luz would be the integration of the tangent story line featuring the other members of the law firm and the environment activist. While I enjoyed these sequences and the occasional comedy relief they brought to otherwise serious subject matter, I feel as though I missed their larger relevance to the story.

October 15, 2012   No Comments

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to visit the area where the Twin Towers stood for the first time in about 15 years. I don’t have any memories of that first visit unfortunately, but the day they went down will be ingrained in my memory forever.


The first thing I noticed about the memorial site was the design of the Freedom Tower and the surrounding buildings. They all have a beautiful reflective surface that reflects the sky and the surrounding buildings. Together, they create a breathtaking visual effect. I can only imagine how amazing the area will look when all of the construction is finished.

When walking into the memorial, I had some idea of what it would be like based off of descriptions that my friends had given me. The actual memorial however, blew my  ideas out of the water. I was unprepared for the sheer size of the North and South Pools. They really help people who never had an opportunity to visit the original site get an idea of how big these buildings really were.

The color black was used heavily throughout the two pools. Black is traditionally associated with mourning. In the memorial it helps set a somber tone that aids in reflecting on the lives that were lost.

Around the perimeter of the of the pools are the names of the people who lost their lives. Hearing how many people died and actually seeing most of their names were very different experiences for me. Seeing the names helped me better reflect on what a profound tragedy this was.

A common theme that I think I noticed was how the victims of the attacks were themselves, made a part of the memorial in a symbolic sense. When I looked at the names I noticed that they were cut into the bronze rather than written on top. While this was likely done so that the names could “light up” at night, I felt that there was another reason as well. Cutting into something is very different from simply writing on top of it. When a cut is made into something that cut is now a part of that something. The names are part of the memorial and by extension, so are the people.

I think this also applied to the water in the pools. The water flowed out from the area with the names and then plunged deep inside the memorial. I like to think that the water was representative of the people and that by going inside the memorial it was like they were becoming a part of its foundation.



One of my favorite parts of the memorial was the Survivor Tree. After reading its story I was really amazed. I thought it was really cool how it was representative of the resilience of the survivors. On a larger scale it also represents how New York and the country persevered  in the wake of the attack.


October 3, 2012   2 Comments

Basant and Memories of Pakistan

I was born in the Pakistani city of Lahore.  My family moved to New York before I turned one. Since that time we have periodically returned to Lahore to visit loved ones. For this assignment, I looked for something that reminded me of those trips.

The image below is of a watercolor painting titled Basant. It was made by Dr. Ajaz Anwar, an artist who dedicates his works to perserving the cultural heritage of the city. This particular piece really spoke to me.


Basant is a large annual festival that celebrates the coming of spring. People celebrate by flying beautifully colored kites. On this day, the sky is literally full of kites. The painting helps give people an idea of what it looks like.

While I’ve only been lucky enough to participate in the festival once; the kites in the painting remind me of Lahore. Kite flying in general is a popular pastime in Pakistan. During my trips, on any given afternoon you could see at least a few kites sailing high above the city.

Another aspect of the painting that reminds me of Pakistan is the roof. It may sound silly but it’s true. Large, flat, accessible roofs are a part of most houses there. Not only are they the go to place for kite flyers but in warm weather people like to sit outside on the roof to enjoy the view and cool breeze. A lot of my memories are simply of spending time on the roof of my cousin’s house, enjoying the day and each others company.

October 2, 2012   No Comments

Photobooth Profile

Fun Fact: I was viciously attacked by a moth shortly before filming.

September 6, 2012   4 Comments