Feb. 16, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 11
Skates and songs
Over the next few weeks, BC's winter sports teams will be preparing for the postseason. But other student organizations are already caught up in some pretty serious competition.
The BC synchronized skating club team, for example, placed fourth in the Eastern regionals and next week will head to the nationals in Grand Rapids, Mich. Last year, in only its third season, the skaters earned a slot in the nationals, placing 10th.
Two popular student a cappella groups, The Bostonians and The Boston College Acoustics, are involved in a different kind of competition: Both received nominations for the Contemporary A Capella Recording Awards (known as "CARAS") in three categories, including best collegiate album. The Bostonians and Acoustics are two of only five collegiate groups nationwide to have earned CARA nominations. Winners will be announced April 1.
The two groups will perform a joint concert, "Stix and Stones," on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Cushing 001.
One of the leading literary lights to emerge from American Catholicism's post-World War II generation will make a return visit next week to BC, a place he regards as a major influence in his professional and spiritual development.
Former Boston College Magazine Staff Writer Brian Doyle - editor of the University of Portland's Portland Magazine, author of such books as The Wet Engine: Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart and Spirited Men: Story, Soul and Substance, and a contributor to Atlantic Monthly and Harper's, among others - will speak on "The Fitful Genius of the Human Heart" on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Devlin 101.
Doyle's stint at BC Magazine from 1987-91 included a first-place award in science and research writing from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, but there were rewards of a different and more enduring nature as well.
"Working for BC," he recalls, "taught me to sprint after clarity, taught me that taut true stories are the best stories of all, and taught me that universities are finally in the business of trying to wake up the hearts and souls and brains of lanky kids who might actually go heal the bruised and broken world."
Reflecting on modern American Catholic writers, Doyle says, "I think Catholicism has always hatched and needed storytellers - indeed the faith is story-addled and story-mad and story-stuffed. I am delighted to be in the fourth rank of American Catholic storytellers, standing on my tiptoes and peering at the reader among the gaggle of scribblers in front of me: glories like Alice McDermott, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Mary Oliver, Pattiann Rogers, David James Duncan and Cynthia Ozick."
Another former member of the BC community who's cultivated a successful career also will be on campus next week. On Feb. 21, Clinton Kelly '91, co-host of the popular TLC cable reality show "What Not to Wear" and co-author of Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body, will present "What Not to Wear: A Career in Fashion."
The one-time communication major credits his liberal arts education at BC with giving him the ability and confidence to talk about a variety of subjects. He cites a fiction-writing workshop given by Assoc. Prof. Robert Chibka (English) for having "changed the course of my life.
"I took it as an elective and realized almost immediately that I wanted to write for a living. With Professor Chibka's encouragement - and an A in his class - I had the courage to pursue a career in writing."
BC is "not one of those schools where you sit alone in your dorm room," adds Kelly, who became president of the University Chorale. "Having to speak in front of 150 members every week and at concerts four times a year definitely helped me come out of my shell - I'd struggled with shyness throughout most of my childhood."
Being a high-profile fashion expert has its burdens, says Kelly, who estimates he hears the phrase "How do I look?" at least 10 times a day, whether on the street, at the gym or in hotels and airports.
"I have to tell you, I hate it. My on-screen persona is very different from my real-life one. When a camera isn't pointed in my direction, I tend not to be hypercritical of people's wardrobes. And if you're going to ask me how you look, I'm going to have to give you my honest opinion, which might just ruin your afternoon - and quite frankly I don't want to be responsible for ruining someone's afternoon."
Kelly, who recalls BC as "the khaki capital of the universe" during his undergraduate years, admits that he's not up to date on current fashion at the Heights. "I do know that it's a big trend for college students to wear pajama pants to class, which I find revolting. (That's my on-screen persona talking.) But honestly, I do find it sloppy and a little disrespectful, quite frankly. I can only pray this trend hasn't reached the hallowed halls of BC."
Kelly's talk, presented as part of the "Master Class: Alumni in Residence" series, will take place at 7:30 p.m. in McGuinn 121.
Boston can be a tough place to love sometimes, especially in mid-February, so the forthcoming work by Boston College's resident expert on The Hub comes at an opportune time.
Due to be released shortly, The Athens of America: Boston 1825-1845 is the 16th book by University Historian Thomas O'Connor, widely acknowledged as the dean of Boston historians. In it, O'Connor offers a look at how Bostonians fashioned a shining image of their city in the early 19th century
As O'Connor describes in detail, Boston's leadership - men of prominent family background, Unitarian beliefs, liberal education, and managerial experience in a variety of enterprises - used their talents and resources to promote Boston's cultural, intellectual and humanitarian interests to make the city the envy of the nation.
Writers, scholars, philosophers, lawyers, ministers and teachers, merchants and businessmen, mechanics, artisans - all saw themselves as involved in creating a well-ordered city, according to O'Connor, establishing it as an "Athens" with a reputation for literature and learning.
The Athens of America will be available at the BC Bookstore later this semester.
For students who live on the Newton Campus, less is more.
As Boston College aims to reduce its energy costs, the Office of Residential Life and Facilities Services have joined with student groups to sponsor a conservation contest called "It's Better Off."
The competition kicked off earlier this month in the Duchesne, Hardey-Cushing and Keyes residence halls on the Newton Campus. The hall that posts the biggest year-on-year percentage decrease in electricity consumption by the end of March will win a ping-pong table and a pizza party.
George Arey, assistant director of Residence Life, said the original idea for the contest came last semester from Ecopledge, a student environmental activist group.
"Ecopledge is the driving force," Arey said. "They have done a great job of marketing their idea and gaining multi-departmental collaboration."
Arey said the contest is being run on a trial basis on the Newton Campus this year; if it goes well, it will be expanded to other residence halls in the future.
Arey noted that BC is also competing against dozens of other schools in a national tournament called RecycleMania [www.recyclemaniacs.org]. Under this competition, 93 U.S. colleges and universities are vying to see which can collect the largest amount of recyclables, the least amount of trash and have the highest recycling rate.
RecycleMania began on Jan. 29 and runs through April 8.
-Greg Frost •