Category Archives: Reporting

All my reporting, compiled.

Stargazers escape the light pollution of Athens to peer into the heavens

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/09/ohio-university-stargazing-star-party

After dark, Athens has many sights to see — and not all of them are within this solar system.

Using a telescope with the right amount of power, like the eight-inch model Ethan Gower brings to each of his “Star Party” events, one can peer into the sky to catch a glimpse of double stars, Neptune, nebulas and infinitely more celestial objects.

During the Star Party, Gower described his Dobsonian telescope as “basically a light bucket.” A Dobsonian telescope has a simple design that allows it to be affordable and available for amateur astronomers. Gower and sophomore Jack Deffet have hosted a series of stargazing events, the last of which took place Friday night. To combat the light pollution Athens radiates, the group convened on a hillside in the State Street Cemetery, beyond the neon glow of Court Street. The previous one had been held at the rugby field on South Green.

Dubbed “Star Party 5.2,” Gower, a junior studying astrophysics, said the event attracted more people than any of the previous four star parties. The “.2” in the title accounts for two weather-obstructed attempts. Only sparse clouds obscured Friday night’s view.

As bright as Athens might seem, the light pollution in Athens is not as bad as other areas, George Eberts, an assistant professor of astronomy and physics said.

“O’Bleness Hospital and the mall have (light) cut-offs at certain times because that’s what contractors are required now,” Eberts said.

He said lighting ordinances reduce the light pollution as well.

At the height of the evening, 12 to 15 stargazers trickled in and out. Each time Gower adjusted his large, cylindrical telescope to the next star, planet or star group, the attendees formed a line to to have an up-close view of an elusive sight.

The main event for the evening, Gower said, occurred at 11:44 p.m., when Algol, “the demon star,” would become eclipsed by a smaller star, causing it to flicker and dim.

“Algol is eclipsed every two and seven-eighths days, so you can’t exactly wait for it,” Eberts said.

Those in attendance showed their appreciation for the event.

“It’s cool that Ethan is taking the time do this,” Trevor Seymour, a college student studying in Columbus, said. “He’s really knowledgeable about everything. It’s a perfect spot and everyone is in good spirits.”

As an astrophysics major, Gower said his fascination with space started when he read a space-themed National Geographic magazine as a child. He aspires to work for NASA and holds a special interest in Pluto — he said he would like to lead a mission traveling there, although the long exposure of radiation to the human body would render it difficult.

“My friends say I know too much about space,” Gower said. “There’s so much to learn about in astronomy. Just two days ago I learned two new things.”

He had previously borrowed an 8 inch inch reflector telescopes used by professors in OU’s astronomy department. He now uses his own 8 inch Dobsonian telescope that is glossy blue, wide and cylindrical.

“Telescopes are measured by their aperture in inches,” Eberts said. “The wider the reflector mirror inside, the more surface area is exposed to starlight.”

Eberts said telescope apertures reach to sizes of two meters and larger.

One stargazer said she appreciated the event’s focus.

“We describe it as really pure — no drinking or drugs,” Alayna Coverly, a senior studying painting and drawing, said.

Gower pointed the telescope at star groups such as Pisces and Taurus until attention transferred to the fading of the demon star in the Perseus constellation.

The star dimmed, much like the evening, ending another stargazing expedition.

Gower, however, plans to host another Star Party on October 27 when Saturn, Venus and a star align.

Alden Library houses hand-crafted Bible from 13th century

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/09/ohio-university-alden-library-800-year-old-bible

Among the modern resources and freshly printed books offered at Alden Library resides a far older work that dates back eight centuries.

Alden Library’s Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections on the fifth floor has housed a 13th century Latin manuscript Bible since its donation to the collection on April 7, 1979. It is the one millionth book registered in Alden’s collection, and can be viewed at the Mahn Center by signing a research form.

The Carr Liggett Advertising Inc. donated the Bible to Ohio University in memorial of Carr Liggett, an OU alumnus, according to a pamphlet produced shortly after the donation. The Bible formerly belonged to famed English poet William Morris and prior to that, a man named Ricardo Heredia.

Although the origin of the 396 page Bible remains largely unconfirmed, professor Charles Buchanan, the director of interdisciplinary arts and an instructor of a medieval art course, said artisans in France most likely produced the work to satisfy a demand at the time for portable Bibles. Buchanan said the process of Bible-making in the late medieval era moved toward an assembly line as opposed to being made in monasteries by monks.

Miriam Intrator, the special collections librarian at Alden, said at least three different people worked to create the Bible. One or more scribes created light ruling lines on sheepskin, and hand-lettered each page in Latin, the language of the church. Then, a rubricator would color in the incipits, or the letters that start each chapter. In this case, the colors are red and blue.

Lastly, an illuminator painted 72 illustrations of animals, humans and hybrids, according to the pamphlet. As for the third category, the illuminator included winged dragons and gargoyles as representations of the devil. Illumination is the practice of including miniature illustrations and colored initials.

The practice was expensive in the 13th century —  because of the price of paint — and exemplified wealth, and the gold used in the illumination is real, Intrator said.

The Bible is called a “pocket Bible” despite it being much larger than the modern idea of pocket-sized, but could be stored in a frock or robe, Buchanan said.

At one point, the Bible was taken to Spain and received a new binding made from goatskin. That aspect, along with a signature from a 17th century Spaniard, Bartolome De la Puente, prompted researchers to believe the work itself came from Spain. But, upon further inspection, France arose as the piece’s birthplace.

Along with De la Puente’s margin notes, two other scholars have made notes and drawings in the marginalia. According to the pamphlet, the notes date to the 14th and 15th century.

In addition to the hand-lettered Bible, Alden Library’s Archives and Special Collection also hold other works of religious significance such as a page or “leaf” from a Bible used by missionaries in the Americas along with many facsimiles, or copies, of medieval religious secular works including The Book of Kells.

Buchanan has brought classes, a graduate interdisciplinary arts class and an undergraduate medieval art class, to observe the Bible’s makeup, script and artwork.

He said the work represents a period when Bibles had become more commonplace and, for the first time, allowed people to read the holy book in a private setting.

“It’s one of the treasures of the library,” Buchanan said.

Hillel to host Jewish funk band from Pittsburgh at The Union on Thursday

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/09/chillent-funk-show-hillel-union

Traditional songs from a cultural heritage can be updated for a modern audience and still retain their original qualities — mainly, the ability to make people dance.

In the spirit of breathing new life into old musical customs, Chillent plans to “funk up” The Union Bar & Grill Thursday at 9 p.m. with their blend of funk and traditional Jewish songs. The show is free and is for anyone 18 years and older.

Chillent, who are based in Pittsburgh, have been playing together for around two years, harmonica player Sruli Broocker said. The band’s name is derived from “cholent,” a Jewish stew traditionally served during the Sabbath.

Shua Hoexter, who plays saxophone and sings in the band, said the group is not a klezmer band in the classic sense, but it is klezmer-influenced.

Klezmer is a Jewish musical tradition that comes from Eastern Europe. The klezmorim, musicians who perform klezmer, would typically play dance music at weddings and celebrations. The klezmer style later fused with American jazz, a genre not far from Chillent’s brand of funk.

“(Our style) is a combination of who we are musically and personally,” Hoexter said.

Chillent plays both traditional songs of the Jewish faith and more contemporary funk numbers during their sets, although the energy and style often stay consistent.

“We take it both directions,” Broocker said. “Sometimes we start with a traditional melody and turn it into a reggae groove or jazz or blues.” He said the opposite order occurs, as well.

Some of the band’s original songs like “Catch Me If I Fall” and “Narrow Bridge” contain lyrics with religious themes but not all of the pieces played by them have a Jewish connection, Brooker said.

He said Chillent are also known to “rap with the audience, play funky stuff and dance a lot.”

In their hometown of the Steel City, Chillent often plays shows at the James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy on the North side.

“The secular Pittsburgh scene actually noticed us before the Jewish music scene did,” Broocker said.

Hillel at Ohio University, the OU Performing Arts & Concert Series and the Campus Involvement Center collaborated in making Thursday’s show possible. Last year, the three organizations collaborated to host comedian Julie Goldman in Baker Center Theater. Thursday will be the first time they will host a band together.

Lauren Goldberg, the associate director of Hillel, said the goal of the collaboration is to hold “culturally relevant programs incorporating Jewish performers and acts that expand beyond the Jewish community.”

Hillel has not put on a show like this “for a few years,” she said.

“Everybody is so excited The Union bar is back open and we want to celebrate its reopening,” Goldberg said.

She expects the music to be “warm, fun and wonderful” and unlike music found traditionally in Athens.

“We’re excited to check out the scene and see what people think,” Brooker said.

@LukeFurmanLog

lf491413@ohio.edu

Yonatan Gat to communicate ‘organic,’ ‘improvised’ sounds with The D-Rays and Slackluster at The Union

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/09/yonatan-gat-show-at-the-union

Yonatan Gat says shows are a collaboration between band and audience. The audience influences the vibe and musical choices and the band plays accordingly.

Gat and his trio will feed off the audience’s nonverbal cues at The Union on Wednesday night with their Middle East and Africa-tinged psych rock. Two Ohio bands, The D-Rays and Slackluster, complete the night’s three-act bill.

Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased in advance, according to the Facebook event.The show starts at 9 p.m. and is for ages 18 and older.

Gat emphasized the importance of organic improvisation in his live performances, allowing for musical flexibility. With little material preplanned, an improvised approach allows for unexpected grooves and jams, exclusive to a single show.

“You turn off your mind with improvisation, which is almost like a hallucinogenic drug,” he said. “The music seeps out organically.”

Gat first emerged in the public eye as the guitarist for Tel Aviv punk band Monotonix, whose live shows ranged from chaotic to unpredictable. Along with Brazilian bassist Sergio Sayeg and drummer Gal Lazer, Gat now administers a more developed style of rock, melting together jazz, world music and punk.

“The clearest way to express what I want to is not always the simplest,” Gat said. “The music I’m playing right now is closer to my spirit.”

He said his music is partly related to the themes of interconnectedness and unity.

For his Physical Copy EP, Gat worked with producer Steve Albini, who had previously produced for bands like Nirvana and Pixies. Gat said Albini is “perfect” for the role.

He is planning to release another album in 2017, his first since 2015’s Director, but most of the details for this new record are still unclear.

Although Gat’s music has a psychedelic flair to it, he does not prefer playing a psych tune over something more Miles Davis-inspired.

“Psychedelic is one of the broadest term that sort of means weird,” Gat said. “That’s why there are psychedelic bands everywhere. Our genre is our own.”

The band The D-Rays, based in Athens, is also set to play at Wednesday’s show.

“We have seen Yonatan Gat play several times and they put on a tremendous show,” Missy Pence, the guitarist for The D-Rays, said in an email. “The D-Rays are happy to be in the bill with them.”

She added that The D-Rays’ sets are tight, energetic and efficient. The band plays a combination of surf and garage rock.

Gat and his trio played a set at Nelsonville Music Festival earlier this year and also joined in on Mac Demarco playing Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”However, this will be the first time the three musicians have taken to an Athens’ dance floor.

@LukeFurmanLog

lf491413@ohio.edu

Ohio Trombone Quartet aims to show ‘flexibility’ of instrument in Glidden recital

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/08/ohio-trombone-quartet-aims-to-show-flexibility-of-instrument-in-glidden-recital

The trombone is known to many as being loud, aggressive or cartoonish. But for Lucas Rego Borges and the newly-formed Ohio Trombone Quartet, it is also capable of sounding lyrical, warm, soft, fast, slow and, not to mention, beautiful.

Borges, an assistant professor of trombone at Ohio University, makes up one-fourth of the brass-heavy quartet who are set to play in the Glidden Hall recital hall Wednesday at 8 p.m., kicking off a four-college tour including OU, Ohio State University, Muskingum University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

He and Tony Weikel, who attended Ohio State together, formed the traditional trombone quartet with Dr. Joseph Brown, a trombonist and instructor of rock history and music theory at OU, and Lucas Kaspar, a music instructor at Muskingum University.

Borges said the musical “flexibility and beauty of the trombone” are present in the quartet’s performances, contradicting the seemingly narrow scope of the instrument in the public eye.

The arrangement of a traditional trombone quartet consists of three tenor trombones and one bass trombone, played by Kaspar in this case. Bass trombones have one more valve than tenor trombones, Ben Stingo, a first-year trombone performance graduate student familiar with the recital, said.

The brass instrument comes in many varieties from contra-bass at the lowest pitch to soprinano and piccolo at the highest pitch.

“Trombone plays like a go-between the tuba and the low trumpet,” Stingo said. “When students are first taught trombone, it’s sort of like a funny, clumsy, cartoonish instrument. But once you get older, it becomes more serious.”

Stingo added that the slide allows for an infinite possibility of notes and that players must be exact in their slide lengths to achieve a clear delivery. The slide is a U-shaped mechanism that raises and lowers the pitch of the instrument based on how far the player extends or retracts it.

The name “Ohio Trombone Quartet” arose out of its members wanting to keep the group based within the state, Borges said.

“All of us are professional musicians from central or southern Ohio,” Borges said. “But we all come from different backgrounds. I’m originally from Brazil.”

He said the group held rehearsals this summer that lasted four hours each. Although this task did not prove easy as some quartet members live and work in different parts of the state, as far as two hours away.

Brown said playing chamber music, or music performed by a small ensemble of musicians, provides an enjoyable opportunity for collaboration.

“I always enjoy playing with other musicians who like chamber music,” Brown said. “We want people to enjoy the experience and take away the idea that the trombone is a beautiful instrument that can be played in a chamber ensemble.”

Brown said chamber music allows musicians to play more independently and “hold up their end of the bargain.”

“Our music goes back as far as the 16th century up to the mid-2000s,” Brown said.

According to the Facebook event, the quartet is set to play classical works by Bach, Debussy, Hector Berlioz and a piece by jazz trombonist Michael Davis. Borges noted that Michael Davis had previously spent 15 years playing with The Rolling Stones and has worked with Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson, as well.

Following this leg of tour dates, the quartet looks to remain active and play more shows in the future.

Borges summed up his thoughts on the valved apparatus by paraphrasing the renowned trombonist Hector Berloiz, saying “the trombone is the only instrument that sings like angels and roars like lions.”

 

Speaking Suns, Water Witches, Weird Science to play show at The Union on Friday

Anyone who feels at home listening to loud rock music, psychedelic guitar tones and progressive riffs will also be at home if they head to The Union Bar and Grill on Friday night.

The venue, which re-opened in May, is hosting three rock bands who fuse an array of approaches, mostly coming from the indie, folk and pop side of things.

Speaking Suns, a visiting band from Yellow Springs, Ohio, labels its style as progressive pop-rock, while the two Athens-based bands on the bill, Water Witches and Weird Science, add a little more noise and psychedelia to their tunes. The show is for attendees ages 18 and up and starts at 9 p.m. with a cover charge of $5.

If You Go 

What: Speaking Suns, Water Witches and Weird Science

Where: The Union Bar and Grill

When: 9 p.m., Friday

Admission: $5 cover charge

“We actually have played (Athens) a lot,” Jacob Diebold, vocalist and guitarist for Speaking Suns, said. “Our former bass player used to live in Athens so we’ve played shows at The Union, The Skull and house shows there.”

Diebold also said “The Disenchanted” and “Judas In Bloom” are the songs that really get the crowd going at their shows.

“Those ones are really fun to play because of the energy and the recognition,” he said.

Speaking Suns is also planning a 19-track double album to be released later this year or early next year. As of now, it’s untitled, Diebold said.

Friday night will not be the first time the bands have crossed paths over the years. Water Witches and Weird Science have played shows together for some time now. Christopher Lute, the drummer of Weird Science, said one of them took place in the woods.

The atmosphere of Weird Science shows is “pretty outrageous,” Lute said. He said they had once given their frontman’s mother a guitar and she proceeded to jam on stage with them “for like 20 minutes.”

The three bands trade shows with each other between Athens and Yellow Springs, Charlie Touvell, drummer of Water Witches, said.

Touvell said Water Witches would be playing with a special local guest as well.

“We haven’t played with Weird Science in forever,” Touvell said. “It should be a loud, rockin’ show. We try to put on a lively set of psychedelic pop.”

@LukeFurmanLog

lf491413@ohio.eduv

Alden Library hosts Africa exhibit exploring Western and native portrayals of the continent

In Southeast Ohio, Africa might seem far away, floating somewhere beyond an ocean that also escapes Appalachia’s horizon.

But in reality, the continent is closer to Ohio University than one might imagine.

In late July, Alden Library debuted its new fourth floor exhibit titled “Africa In History” that aims to showcase the institution’s collection of 19th century literature that chronicles the distant land. These dated bindings of yesteryear — the main focus of the exhibit — consist mainly of travel books complete with olden maps, explorers’ material, children’s books about Africa from the period and an array of other works.

“We try to represent different parts of the collection,” Miriam Intrator, Alden’s special collections librarian, said. “We have a textbook in (the exhibit) because it’s always interesting to see what children are being taught.”

The textbook and similar material are examples of Anglo-American works depicting Africa rather than Africa representing itself, Intrator said.

She stressed the visual components of the exhibit which also include baskets, hand-drawn African animals, photographs and other elements stemming from the continent itself.

Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, the former ambassador of the Botswana embassy in Washington D.C., donated several of these non-literary pieces to the display, Araba Dawson-Andoh, an Africana librarian at Alden who helped create the exhibit, said.

This is not the first time Alden Library has bridged the geological gap between continents.

Since the 1950s, Alden Library has collaborated with several African nations including Botswana and Swaziland, through which Alden serves as an official book depository, or a place for safekeeping, of these countries, Dawson-Andoh said.

For Intrator and Dawson-Andoh, the genesis of this particular exhibit came about with the intention of displaying Alden’s varied Africana collection for members of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, who recently held its annual conference in Columbus this month.

Intrator said Dawson-Andoh and herself searched through a cart full of texts from the archives and rare book collection before deciding on the pieces and to what pages they would be open.

After the two narrowed the featured works, Miriam Nelson, Alden’s head preservation librarian, examined the condition of the pieces and prepared them for extended display with custom book cradles and supports.

“We make most of our book cradles at the preservation department and fit them to each book based on the size and which page it will be open to,” said Nelson. “I really enjoy seeing exhibits come together. I’m always pleased to be a part of that.”

Dawson-Andoh said she hoped the exhibit would bring awareness to Africa’s history and pass knowledge on to students.

“Africa In History” will remain open to students and the public until Sept. 15.

lf491413@ohio.edu

@LukeFurmanLog

IF YOU GO (Graphic)

What: “Africa in History”

Where: Alden Library, fourth floor

When: July 25 to Sept. 15

Admission: Free

(Photo by Austin Janning)