Monday, February 23, 2009

Wonderland on Stage

This weekend I took in the DePaul Theater School production of “Alice in Wonderland.” Being a fan of the famous Lewis Carroll books, I was curious to see it would translate on stage…I was not disappointed. The production even managed to effectively pull off scenes where Alice is falling through the rabbit hole and when she shrinks to fit into the door. This adaptation of Lewis’ work followed closer to his book rather than the Disney adaptation and there were some characters that only an avid fan of the books would know. Each actor added their own stamp to their characters further bring the production to life. From the Duchess who had everyone bouncing, to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb who rapped the rhyme “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” to Humpty Dumpy taking a big fall, each imaginary character made wonderland seem real. The sets were elaborate and versatile while the costumes added a modern twist to the characters. I highly recommend going to see it and it’s great for kids too. The last performance will be this Saturday followed by an ice cream social with the cast for an additional charge.

In general, tickets for any of the theater school productions can be bought online or at the Merle Reskin Theater Box Office at 60 E. Balbo, downtown. I highly recommend going to the box office a few days before the performance to get your tickets. Online tickets are $10 for adults, however at the box office student tickets are offered at $6 with a student ID. Also, the seating is general so going early helps you get a great seat. You can get more information on tickets and upcoming productions at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This morning many De Paul students using the CTA were puzzled as the EL turn styles rejected their U-Passes. The CTA accidentally deactivated U-passes for a number of students. DePaul issued an e-mail explaining the mess and says the CTA will have the problem fixed by midnight tonight. However, that doesn't help those students who had to pay to get to their classes early this morning because of "code:57" showing up when they tried to use their U-Passes.

I actually had the pleasure of being one of these students to experience this before CTA and DePaul realized there was a problem. If you rode the EL this morning and read closely after the U-Pass was rejected, it read "Code:57 ; Please See Attendant." I've had problems with the turn styles before so I tried the one next to it with no luck before asking the woman in charge. Lucky for me, I knew what code:13 was thanks to Shelby's blog so it wasn't because my U-Pass was bent or scratched.

Imagine my surprise, however, when I was rudely informed that "code:57" means the U-Pass has been reported stolen/lost. And if I wanted to ride then I would have to pay like everyone else. When I assured the attendant that my U-pass was not stolen and I had ID to prove it, she told me not to "get smart" with her and I was lucky she didn't confiscate it, let alone call the police. Not wanting a confrontation, I had no choice but to pay $5 for a ticket because she refused to believe I did not steal the U-Pass (which even has my picture on it).

Please be aware that if you are using your U-Pass today and you see "code:57," the attendant MUST allow you through. Also, the CTA is not allowed to take your U-pass and should be aware of the problem.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Homecoming Court raises money for charities

Tickets for homecoming went on sale Monday at both campuses. As you pass by the promo table over the next two weeks, pay close attention to the five brightly colored jugs decorated with pictures (featured below). Not only are these pictures of the 2009 Homecoming Court, but the jugs are your way to help one of these five students win the title of Mr. or Ms. DePaul. Each member of the court chose a charity and decorated their jug accordingly to raise money for their cause. On Feb. 27, the last day of ticket sales, the money in each jar will be counted and the person who raises the most wins that round of the homecoming selection process.

Kelly Stotmeister (left), homecoming court committee, explains what the jugs are and the causes. Holly Eistnhart (right) watches the explanation while selling tickets for homecoming.

Here’s a little background information about homecoming court selection. DePaul doesn’t have a king and queen, nor do they have both. A single person is chosen from the court and named Mr. or Ms. DePaul. This came about a few years ago when the number of men running for king dwindled. And Mr. and Ms. sounds a more modern then king and queen. That's the explanation I was given, maybe you could help me out. This year three ladies and two gentle men are in the running. Look for more ways to help each of them out during spirit week (Feb 23-27) and don’t forget to buy your tickets for homecoming.

Analysis of (lengthy)

The first thing that stood out on is how it differs in layout, appearance, and content from other sites the class has critiqued.

The layout utilizes a good deal of white space with no links or menu bar at the top for news beat sections. In fact, they have don’t have them at all. Instead, they have a single advertisement followed by a few stories and a small picture then a headline photo with a link followed by three columns of headlines and pictures. The stories on the page change every day so if a reader misses a story then they have to pull up the previous day’s page (located at the bottom) and then find the headline. It’s very inconvenient. They also use a font that resembles what you might see on a typewriter giving adding a “Unabomber” touch to the site.

It’s simple in appearance and almost bare. The use of white space and the absence of articles make it easy to distinguish stories from advertisements, which I liked. There are only headline links and a few pictures divided among three columns under the headline picture. I liked this feature of the website and thought it worked well for keep a reader interested. However, I kept feeling like I was missing something and there should be more.

Drudge report does not have its own content, rather it’s a website designated to highlighting what stories a reader should know about that day and from where they should be reading them. For example, when clicking on the link “CA on the brink,” the reader is taken to Each link does not open in a new window or tab, making the process of constantly being navigated away from the site very annoying. So the reader has to be conscious when clicking on links to open them in a new window or be aware that they will have to type in the URL again after they finish reading the article. I did like all the news links, news blogs and news search engines on the page. However, the layout and font for them drove me nuts.

I don’t like a website that does not have any of its own content. This website looks like a prototype for the social networking newsfeed sharing that we have now via facebook, twitter, dig, etc. However, at least with social networking you have your peers and it’s a community of people choosing the stories. On this site there is a single man for which there is no information about anywhere on the site. In fact, when clicking on his name at the top of the links for blog pages, it simply refreshes the webpage. It doesn’t even go to a blog. Most of the work he writes is quotes with a mention of where he got them but no background or explanation of the context the quote was given. I don’t see the journalist aspect of this. He’s taking other people’s stories and setting his own agenda with them. I cannot trust that and it irritates me. However, with the simple layout and the feeling of not being overwhelmed with information, I can see how this site would appeal to so many people. I say that begrudgingly. I just hope these readers have supplemental new sites in addition to this one.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tickets for Homecoming 2009

Here’s an update on Homecoming 2009. I had a chance to sit down with homecoming chair, Caitlyn Menconi to get more information about the event. Menconi is excited about the event however, like the first interview, it's hard to get her to divulge information she wants to keep a surprise. She did give some very essential and vital information about ticket sales.

Tickets go on sale February 16 in both the Lincoln Park and Loop Campuses for $15. Not only does your ticket promise a great time in a great location, but it also provides you with a catered dinner buffet (I took a peek at the menu off her PC and its definitely not stuff you’d get at the cafeteria). There will also be dessert, dancing until midnight, and a free trolley transportation to and from Union Station. As a reminder, this year’s Homecoming falls on February 28, the theme is ‘All aboard the Demon Express,’ and the location is Chicago’s Union Station.

If you are interested then keep your eyes open for the promo tables on both campuses next week. Tickets will be on sale Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm. In Lincoln Park, the tables will be in the Student Center on the first floor by either of the doors leading into the building (basically check the tables located by both doors). And in the Loop, the promo table will be found on the eleventh floor gallery. Stay tuned for more updates.

Analysis of

Overall, I didn’t like It’s extremely overwhelming in content. The FrontPage picture of a newspaper layout did not work at all for the site. Not only were the pictures too big but the giant headline links did not fit the stories. In addition, some of the ‘headline front page picture links’ were broken up into multiple links but made to look like a single link. The giant fonts and the giant links didn’t work at all and they are very confusing. Also, after scrolling past the giant picture and headline links there was a very large amount of content. While there was a header bar at the top with links to different sections/beats before the headline picture, it was weird going to a news website that didn’t have multiple top stories posted. The layout is very awkward and hard to navigate. Stories were very hard to decipher from advertisements on the pages. The section to log in or subscribe to their feed was too far down on the page and you almost miss it because it looks like an advertisement itself. That should really be somewhere at the top of the page and easier to find. The whole site felt like content overload.

I think that maybe switching the column of blogs with the column of media would have broken up the overwhelming content feeling. Just a thought.

There were a few things that did work and I thought were unique. The first can be found in the center column of stories. In this column were headlines that paired with pictures underneath them and what I found useful was the ‘quick read’ links. It opens up a small box that has a short summary of the headline and what was going on in the picture. It’s great for a reader who is only mildly curious and not sure if they want to invest in the story. The second thing that was unique was the huge portion of the bottom with links to other news pages and news sources. Unfortunately these could only be found at the bottom of the page and off to a corner. I think it would have worked better if the links went across the entire bottom of the page rather than the lower 2/3. The third thing I liked was the color coding of the different beat pages. I hate going to websites that look the same on every page for every story and I find it refreshing when color is added to break up that monotony.

It’s not a site I will use only because it is so overwhelming in content and difficult to navigate.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Open Mic Night!

Tuesday night I stopped by Brownstones in the Student Center for another Open Mic Night. I spent a little time actually talking to some of the performers this time. One of the acts of the night was two lively and easygoing brothers. As I talked with them, I found out Alex (Left) and James (Right) Cruz have been playing together for 6-7 years. Being an active part of a sibling rivalry in my own family, I was really taken with their camaraderie. You could tell they were having a lot of fun on stage too. They played three cover songs with an acoustic guitar and bass. They covered Angel’s and Airwaves’ “It Hurts,” and “Sirens” along with Blink 182’s “Man Overboard.” They told me they had just decided to come to Open Mic while playing together at home the night before. Hopefully that shows you how easy it is to sign-up for Open Mic Night.

Each act gets about 10-15 minutes max (more like 10, I was told though) and it's open to anyone. DAB does a great job of creating the feeling of a dimly lit coffee house. It’s a very relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Highly recommended for those looking for a break in between studying or for some relaxation in a mellow social setting. If you are interested in doing the next one, then mark your calendar for February 17 at 8:30pm.