Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Shakespear-ience: Not-Your-Average Shakespeare Course

by Katy Rosen
Summer 2017 Intern

At seven o’clock on a rainy November night, I headed back to class to start a five-hour screening of King Lear, where my professor met me and my classmates with a bag of secret-recipe homemade popcorn.

As an English major at Smith College, I was required to take an intensive course. I got the very last spot in a class that meant 15 straight weeks of Shakespeare, which was taught by the most established professor in the English department. To say I was terrified was an understatement.

The professor’s eccentricity preceded him, and the popcorn story is only one of many. My class became well-known for getting way off topic. My favorite tangent was a discussion when the class agreed that comparing your romantic relationship to Romeo and Juliet’s is kind of like using Hamlet to demonstrate how close and well-adjusted your family life is.

When it came down to the serious stuff, this class was by far one of the most intense and challenging things I’ve ever done, but I can confidently look back and say it was the best class experience I’ve ever had—and that popcorn was pretty good too.

Image Credit: Thought to be John Taylor, Photo From National Portrait Gallery of London.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Boston Students See a Whole New World

by Rachel Matthews
Summer 2017 Intern 

Once, in grade school, I was given a blank map of the world and asked to label every country (in pen—yikes). I may have gotten a lot wrong on that test, but it turns out the map I was working with may not have been accurate to begin with!

I was probably being tested on the Mercator projection, one of today’s most common maps. It was created in 1569 with colonial trade routes in mind. As a result, North America and Europe ended up disproportionally emphasized.

Since Earth is round, any two-dimensional map will be distorted. But the Boston Public School (BPS) system is trading out its Mercator maps for a more geographically accurate model: the Gall-Peters projection, which first started gaining traction around 1974.

When I first saw it, I was suspicious; the continents seemed oddly stretched. But the Gall-Peters projection accurately scales surface area, so you can see how big (or small) places actually are.

For example, on the Mercator map, Greenland rivals Africa in size. In reality, Africa could swallow Greenland nearly 14 times!

Hopefully the Gall-Peters projection will give BPS students a more well-rounded view of the world (pun intended).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

PSG Reads: The Staff’s Favorite Places to Read

by Sarah Terrazano
Summer 2017 Intern

We’re a staff of passionate readers at PSG, and when not working with words in the office, we make time to read for fun in some of our favorite places.
  • Kate’s favorite place to read is reclining on her porch on a warm weekend morning, but she also does a lot of reading as a commuter, where she can be caught peeking at what others on the bus are reading, looking for suggestions.
  • Alyssa can get lost in a book anywhere she’s comfortable, but often prefers a sunny deck. She’ll also admit that as a kid, she loved finding a good hiding spot, where she’d bring a book and be good for hours.
  • Tess also loves a sunny deck to concentrate on a good book; although she envies how others can read in coffee shops—she knows she’s too much of a people-watcher.
  • Colleen enjoys relaxing with a book on the beach, but now that she has kids, she doesn’t have much beach-reading time when she’s keeping an eye on them. Now she prefers to read before bed, because even if it makes her stay up too late, the alternative is not reading much at all—which isn’t an option, in her book.
  • Matthew enjoys reading either on the beach or on a plane, as he concentrates best with some background noise.
  • Karla can curl up under a blanket on the couch for hours with a good book.
  • Rachel likes to read in bed late at night to wind down for the day, which she also thinks is because she “never grew out of bedtime stories.”
  • Don enjoys reading in a comfy chair in the shade while on a camping trip, where he can fully relax. Unlike other staff members, reading in bed just puts him to sleep.
My favorite place to read is on the beach in the summer, with the sand in my toes and the wind in my hair. Hopefully we’ll all have enough downtime this summer to unwind with a good book or two!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Spotlight on the Stage: the 2017 Tony Awards

by Rachel Matthews
Summer 2017 Intern

My first theater experience was in fifth grade, when I joined a community production of Guys and Dolls. I had a tiny role, but it gave me a lifelong love of the stage. I’m always looking for new Broadway obsessions, so naturally I never miss the Tony Awards.

The Tonys are up there with the Emmys and Oscars in terms of prestigious awards. Presented by the American Theatre Wing, the Tonys reward those who display excellence in theater. The annual ceremony turned 71 this June!

This year the coveted Best Play award went to the newest rendition of J. T. Rogers’s deep and ambitious Oslo. The biggest musical of the night was Dear Evan Hansen, a compelling story of youth that took home six awards—including Best Musical! It beat out my personal favorite, the jaunty Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, which won 2 of its whopping 12 nominations.

If you can’t make it to Broadway to see these newest gems, never fear! Boston has a thrilling theater lineup for the 2017/18 season. I’m eyeing the national tour of Fun Home, the heartfelt show that won Best Musical in 2015. Also in the circuit is Hamilton, which took Broadway by storm in 2015, and had a record-breaking 16 Tony nominations last year.

Wherever you are, if you have a chance to see the newest stage hits, it’s a great time to do so. And if you make it to the Boston theater district, maybe I’ll see you there!

Image Credit: Booyabazooka on English Wikipedia

Thursday, July 13, 2017

PSG Staff Screams for Ice Cream!

by Karla Accorto
Summer 2017 Intern

For the past seven summers, I have been scooping homemade ice cream at a local shop in New Hampshire. In honor of July being National Ice Cream Month, and as the resident ice cream expert on site, I decided to investigate which frozen treats the PSG staff holds nearest and dearest to their hearts.

·      Ken, a native of Ohio, admitted to loving his local shop’s lavender berry ice cream.
·      Matthew also expressed a preference for a floral-infused dessert, citing his favorite flavor as rose latte. 
·      Don is easily satisfied by a scoop of plain chocolate.
·      Tess loves Milky Way ice cream, but she occasionally switches it up and orders black raspberry or orange pineapple.
·      Annette prefers peanut butter cup. To meet Annette’s standards, however, it must be either a chocolate or a peanut butter base with a fudge swirl. Pairing vanilla with peanut butter is simply a hard no, in her humble opinion.
·      Colleen expressed a preference for a flavor I had never heard of before—a rare phenomenon. She described her favorite as a vanilla based ice cream with caramel and fudge swirls as well as brownie chunks.
·      Kate also enjoys pieces of pastry in her ice cream—her favorite is strawberry cheesecake, a cheesecake-flavored base with strawberry flavor swirls and pieces of real cheesecake.
·      Eileen was the only one to declare soft serve as her favorite, citing the classic twist on plain cone as her preferred frozen treat.
·      Rachel also enjoys a great classic, mint chocolate chip, and puts a fun twist on it in the winter by dropping a scoop into a steaming mug of cocoa.
·      Alyssa has a passion for So Delicious’s dairy-free frozen treats, particularly the coconut flavor.
·      Sarah prefers Lactaid’s cookies and cream flavor because it is made with real milk, giving it a similar taste to traditional ice cream. And because it also contains an added lactase enzyme, those who are lactose intolerant can happily feast.

For me, cotton candy ice cream from my own local shop will always hold a special place in my heart. While the PSG staff may have very different flavor favorites, we definitively all appreciate a good scoop—whether traditional ice cream or dairy-free friendly.

Photo Credit: Renee Comet