Maya Lin and OU’s Bicentennial Park

Many remarkable people have passed through the small town of Athens. Perhaps one of the greatest is artist and architect Maya Lin. Lin, whose parents were professors at Ohio University, was born and raised in Athens. Lin became a household name when she won the contest to design the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. when she was still an undergraduate student at Yale.

She has gone on to create many stunning pieces of art and other beautiful memorials. But Lin didn’t forget her Athens roots. In 2004, the university’s bicentennial year, Lin designed an earthwork installation called “Input” for Bicentennial Park, which is located directly in front of Walter Hall on West Green. The installation consists of 21 rectangles, some are raised and some sink into the ground. The shapes resemble early computer punch cards that were used in programming courses. While she was in high school, Lin took a basic computer programming course at OU, which inspired her design.

Lin said, “Hopefully, it will touch anyone who has spent much time in Ohio University or Athens. I wanted to draw a map of memories.”

bpark04

Students walking by may notice the inscriptions on many of the rectangles in the piece. Lin worked with her poet brother, Tan Lin, to create a “landscape of words” in order to show “their shared memories of Athens and Ohio University.” The words cause many to pause and reflect on their own experiences of their time at OU. There are also plaques in the grass along the sidewalk that leads to Walter Hall that display the name of previous university presidents, and current president Roderick McDavis, as well as other remarkable previous OU faculty members.

Nowadays, Bicentennial Park is often used to host tailgates before home football games. Students sit among the depressed parts of the “Input” installation eating, drinking and talking with friends. Even more than a decade after its dedication, the outdoor art space still brings students, faculty and the people of Athens together.

Featured image and the image in the text came from Ohio University’s website.

The history of U.S. presidents visiting Ohio University

The great state of Ohio is known for many things, one of which is its reputation for being a swing state. Being a swing state makes Ohio very important during election seasons, making its cities crucial destinations for politicians of all kinds to visit. Ohio University itself has a long history of politicians visiting its campus and speaking to students, faculty and community members. Most notably, many U.S. presidents have taken a trip to Athens to engage with the politically active campus.

Each presidential visit has not been forgotten. Along the West Portico wall, which faces College Green, of Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium there are plaques to commemorate each special visit. According to a story in a Compass newsletter from 2010, the addition of the plaques on the honor wall began in 1965 under then-university president Vernon Alden with the goal of the wall being an inspiration for all who see it.

Hoover

On his visit in 1989, President Jimmy Carter made an inspiring sentiment and said, “Ohio University has a special place in international affairs. Its students should be world citizens.”

Johnson

In his speech along the West Portico of Templeton-Blackburn in May 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson brought along several Ohio Congressmen and members of his Cabinet. President Johnson and his Cabinet members initially came to Athens for a poverty inspection. In his address, he said with the help of Dr. Alden, “a contract has been signed by the Area Redevelopment Administration to establish a regional development institution here. This will make Ohio University the focal point of economic development for the southeastern Ohio area.” Athens County has long been one of the poorest counties in Ohio, so action plans to grow the economic development of the area had a significant effect on its citizens. His speech was a call to action for students to do what they could to support those around them and raised awareness of the issue.

Other presidents who have visited OU include John F. Kennedy, William Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Warren G. Harding, William McKinley and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Harding

The most recent president to visit OU was Barack Obama during his campaign for reelection on October 17, 2012. The trip was a last-minute stint to attract and rally supporters in the final sprint going into the campaign season. Massive government and military planes descended onto the back greens of South Green in preparation for the president’s arrival and Secret Service agents lined the permitter around College Green, where his speech took place. It was a unique experience for students to have a sitting president make an appearance on campus.

Obama

(Here is my super grainy picture of him.)

With another presidential election coming up within the next year, there is a good chance presidential hopefuls will see themselves visiting OU in an effort to appeal to the desired segment of young adult voters. Perhaps one day they too will have their name added to the West Portico Honor Wall.

5 easy fall meals to make off campus

One of the struggles of living off campus is having to make food for yourself. It’s not as easy as going to the dining hall and having prepared food waiting. So for those looking to make some simple but still delicious easy fall meals, here are some.

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

mac and cheese

To me, nothing says “cold-weather comfort food” quite like mac & cheese. It’s super easy to make, but also delicious. Making it on the stove with good pasta and real cheese makes it so much better than Kraft mac & cheese. (Who knows what is in that powdered “cheese.”)

What you’ll need:

Pasta (I prefer shells or elbow macaroni)

Shredded cheese

Milk

Butter

First, boil that pasta. Once it’s done cooking, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Next add a small slab of butter and stir it around the pasta until it melts, then add a bunch of cheese. I like to use a few different varieties of cheese to have different flavors. The more cheese, the better. Stovetop mac & cheese is at its best when it’s really, really cheesy. Lastly add a small splash of milk and stir everything together. It’s a simple meal, but a classic for college kids.

 

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

There’s never a bad time for BBQ pulled chicken, but fall is the best time. The flavorful chicken does a good job of warming you up. It’s perfect to make for you and your buddies for football games on Sundays; to share with roommates or to just make a big batch and have leftovers for days just for yourself (that’s what I do). The fact this dish is made using a crock-pot makes it so much easier. You can throw it in, go to class, and come home to the sweet smell of barbecue sauce.

What you’ll need:

3 or 4 boneless chicken breasts

1 cup of barbecue sauce

1/3 cup of Italian dressing

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Buns

Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock-pot. In a glass measuring cup or a bowl, mix barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce until it’s smooth. Pour the mixture over the chicken breasts and turn them over until they’re coated completely. Set the crock-pot to low and leave it for four and a half hours. Then, take the chicken out and put it on a plate or cutting board. Once that’s done, mix the cornstarch and water together and then pour it into the sauce in the crock-pot and mix well. Turn up the heat to high for 10 minutes while you shred the chicken with forks. Place the chicken back in the pot and toss in the sauce. (Before I continue cooking the chicken, I add a little more barbecue sauce for extra flavor.) Then cover and cook on low for another 45 minutes. Stack buns with the pulled chicken and you’re ready to go!

 

Stuffed Peppers

peppers 1

Every other time I’ve made stuffed peppers, I’ve used ground beef and rice. But I found a new recipe that suggested crumbled meat substitute and quinoa. It was actually very tasty, and also healthy. The fun thing about stuffed peppers is that you can mix and match what you want in them. Colorful bell peppers make for a colorful meal as the leaves change colors for fall.

What you’ll need:

Bell Peppers

Quinoa

Ground beef or meat substitute

Salsa

Shredded cheese

Black beans

Corn

Start off by cooking the quinoa. Bring it to a boil then turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, brown the ground beef or meat substitute. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once both are done, put them in a medium sized bowl and add some cheese (I used Monterey Jack), salsa (I used the mild salsa from Frog Ranch, which is made locally), black beans and corn. Stir it all together then spoon the mixture into the peppers. Top peppers with some more cheese, then put them in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Then, you’ll have a yummy fall meal!

 

Fried Rice

This is one of my favorite and go to meals. It’s great to make when you’re looking to stay in on a cold night and want to take the time to make a good meal. I like to make a big batch of fried rice so I can have leftovers for a few days (because I’m a poor college student and all). Like the stuffed peppers, you can mix up what you put in the fried rice or you can add meat or whatever seasonal vegetables you want. It’ll always be good.

What you’ll need:

Rice

3-4 Eggs

Carrots, shredded or cubed

Peas

Green onion

White onion, chopped

Garlic, minced

3-4 Tablespoons of soy sauce

1 Teaspoon of sesame oil

Make the rice a little bit in advance and put it in the fridge. Cold rice works better when you go to fry it. Chop up the green onion and white onion and place to the side. In a small skillet, scramble and fry the eggs. Once that’s done, place a slab of butter in a large skillet and add the peas, carrots, green onion, garlic and other vegetables you want. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper on top and simmer until onions are translucent and carrots are tender. Then add another slab of butter, take the rice out of the fridge and mix it with the vegetables. Turn the heat up on the stove to help fry the rice. Add the tablespoons of soy sauce and feel free to add more to suit your taste. After letting the rice fry for a few minutes, add the egg and green onion and stir. When the mixing is done, add the sesame sauce, stir and let the rice fry for just a few more minutes. Now, you have a tasty meal to accompany your Netflix binge.

Locally Made Pasta with Meatballs

pasta

Luckily, Athens is a great place to eat local. There are farmers markets, great local shops and an “eat local” section in Kroger. While grocery shopping, I stumbled down this isle and picked some pasta made by Crumbs Bakery. This is an easy meal, but it’s quick to make and delicious — and you’re supporting a local business, which is just as rewarding.

What you’ll need:

Pasta

Sauce

Meatballs

Cheese to top the pasta

Boil as much pasta as you’d like in a pot. At the same time, cook fresh or frozen meatballs according to directions on the package. In a small pot, simmer sauce and remember to stir it occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain it and spoon it onto a plate. Place meatballs on top and cover with sauce. Add a few sprinkles of mozzarella or Parmesan cheese for a finishing touch.

Little Fish Brewing Company offers brews and bites

Large Ohio cities such as Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland are known for successfully conjuring excellent craft beer (think Great Lakes and Columbus Brewing Company). Yet Athens is slowly, but surely, becoming a new hub for craft brewing. The town has long been known as being the home of Jackie O’s, but this past summer two new breweries entered the fold.

beerOne of the new establishments is Little Fish Brewing Company. The small brewery, located a short five-minute drive from campus at 8675 Armitage Road, opened in early July right before Ohio Brew Week. Athens natives Sean White and Jimmy Stockwell are the founders and owners of the operation.

The duo both started as home brewers for many years. White went on to have brewing internships and jobs in different corners of the United States but eventually came home to Athens to fulfill his dream of opening his own brewery. All of the beers served at Little Fish’s taproom are made right there at the facility. The open floor plan allows guests to see where their beer is made and stored. It’s a participatory atmosphere White and Stockwell are proud to have created.

But besides awesome beer and a unique setup, Little Fish has other special features. Currently, the brewery doesn’t yet have the ability to produce its own food. Instead, it has created partnerships with local food trucks to come to the brewery every day that it’s open. Holy Guacamole, Cajun Clucker and Mauvette’s Caribbean Fusion all make stops at Little Fish throughout the week. Having food at the brewery was always an important objective for the brewery.

“We are kind of on the outside of town, and certainly people can have food delivered here, but we thought it was important to the experience of coming to the brewery and spending the afternoon here; and if people were going to spend extended periods of time, we wanted them to have food,” Stockwell said.

Senior strategic communications student Alessa Rosa visited the brewery at the beginning of the semester with her boyfriend and his family. During her visit, she was surprised to see that one of her favorite trucks was serving food.

“Holy Guacamole was there and I almost died,” she said. “It was nice because I had been hunting Holy Guacamole down for like months and they don’t have regular times when they’re in their usual spot and I can’t find the information. So it’s nice knowing that every Thursday they’ll be there so I can go and get [it].”

Incorporating a local food truck along with the well-made craft beer made a positive impression on Rosa. She said she would like to go back sometime to try something new.

White said a long-term goal for Little Fish is to one day open an independent restaurant on site. Though the planning for this is far in the future, it’s still something he’s very excited about. Being sustainable is something the brewery is proud of and hopes to continue to improve on.

“To sort of get a real farm-to-table experience out here we can’t just have brewing ingredients out there, but maybe we’ll have a small greenhouse and some garden beds and be able to supply some of our own produce,” White said.

In the mean time, Stockwell and White are celebrating a big milestone for the company. On Oct. 24, the brewery celebrated its first bottle release of three of its brews. Stockwell said bottles are available of Saison, Woodthrush and the original version of the Reinheitsgewhat?! sour beer. Customers looking to get their hands on some brews for home can stop by the taproom or select bottle shops around town. Stockwell also said some brews are on tap at Casa Nueva, J Bar and Pigskin.

Athens Across town Battle of the Bars

Part of what makes Athens so great is there is so much to do when the sky turns dark. The nightlife scene makes Court Street come alive, with bars lining both sides of the street. There are even bars a little off the trail of Court, and every bar is unique and offers something different.

On a recent evening, I decided to compare two very different bars across town to see just how different tastes can be in Athens. I was also hoping to catch karaoke night at both, but was only successful on one front. And when determining which bars would make the best comparison, it became clear that it couldn’t get much different when it comes to the Smiling Skull Saloon and Red Brick Tavern.

So in the name of good journalism, I trekked out to visit these two bars. I also dragged my best friend along for support and to enjoy what I assumed would be mediocre karaoke.

Before this little experiment, I had never been to the Smiling Skull. Upon entering, I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in. We arrived at 9:15 and the bar was pretty dead, so it was easy to remain low-key and grab a table.

An older couple was running the karaoke table and I couldn’t wait to see who would step up to the microphone. The clientele was mostly middle-aged with a sprinkling of students, so it was going to be an interesting night. First up was a man who, unsurprisingly, sang a country song. He was actually really good.

Skull1A slew of slow karaoke songs followed that started to put me to sleep. But things got interesting when a man decided to give all he had to his performance, including dancing/flinging himself all over the stage. His wild performance gave new life to the night.

A duo of young women sang “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood while their friends videotaped them and cheered along the entire time. Shortly after another duo led the bar in a sing-a-long of “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani.

The best performance of the night was a young woman singing Tina Turner. She was so effortless. My friend and I had been chatting and not really paying attention, but as soon as she started singing we were locked in and focused. What made it even better was that she was casually sipping a beer while singing.

Once The Skull got packed, we decided to make out way over to Red Brick. I was honestly a bit embarrassed I was going there as a senior and for any reason besides Brick Break. But I swallowed my pride and went in. I was surprised to see it so busy (I guess freshmen have to go somewhere) and disappointed to find it wasn’t karaoke night.

RB2

I have been to Red Brick for karaoke once before, and I was sad I was missing out on the disaster that it is. None of the people I saw sing here were even close to being a good singer, but they knew that and still made it wildly entertaining. Just picture a bunch of freshmen boys belting out the oldies with the occasional somewhat current song and that is Red Brick karaoke night.

Freshmen are too wild for me and I felt like a grandma this night. Watching a young couple argue right next to me was awkward but I couldn’t look away. People bumped into us and didn’t apologize. My best friend and I exchanged “I’m too old for this” sentiments.

Despite feeling like the oldest gals in the room, we had fun and danced by ourselves in a corner by the bar and people watched. People watching at Red Brick is really something.

These two bars are vastly different, but still offer a good time to their patrons.

OU Students Explore Womanhood in “Elbows Off The Table”

The Ohio University Theater Division is back in action with its first Athens main stage production with the new play “Elbows Off The Table,” which starts at 8 p.m. at the Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater in Kantner Hall, and plays until Sept. 26.

Written and directed by Rebecca VerNooy, “Elbows Off The Table” features a cast comprised of undergraduate student actors. Though they are just students, the actors handled the difficult subject matter like professionals.

The movement- and dialogue-driven show tells the story of a young woman from her birth and to womanhood, at times in painful detail. Being a woman, even in modern times, is not easy.

From the time she’s born, the young woman is confronted with the societal pressures of what it means to be female. She is surrounded, literally, with voices shouting at her what to do and how to behave. “Wear a dress!” “Sit up straight!” “Be a good girl!” “Elbows off the table!” are just a few of the commands that were hurled at her throughout the play.

One of the most gripping themes of the play is the young woman exploring her sexuality. She is told to be careful. Understandably, she faces confusion about how she feels and how far she is willing to go. She’s pressured on all sides. It’s heartbreaking and sometimes uncomfortable but bravely shows the struggles many girls go through in their adolescent and young adult years.

The biggest problem with the show is that it moves slowly for the first portion. It took a while for the play’s message to sink in. There are times the plot is confusing, but maybe that’s the whole point because life is often confusing.

Supporting student theater productions is important, but can often be overlooked. The price of admission is free with a student ID, so why not enjoy a cost-free night out as well as some great entertainment?

To see the Theater Division’s lineup for the rest of the 2015-2016 season, visit its website.