Wednesday, December 23, 2009

#69: Love, Actually

Notre Dame Students love Christmas movies.  They love Elf for its contemporary nuttiness, oftentimes repeating quotes such as, “Bye Buddy, hope you find your Dad,” when somebody leaves a party or small circle (see #24).  They love It’s a Wonderful Life for its classic story and timeless Frank Capra themes, and they love Home Alone for its childhood memories of high jinks (as well as tiring debates about how many times Marv and Harry should have died over the course of the film).  While many people of different ages around the country love each of these movies (as well others) there is one movie that Notre Dame Students love so much more than it is typically loved.

That movie is the ‘Ultimate Romantic Comedy’: Love, Actually

Notre Dame Students love Love, Actually because it is a movie that brings together the joy of the Christmas season with the satisfaction of a good romantic comedy.  Not only do they love Christmastime (see #66), but Notre Dame Students also love romantic comedies because they love to love.  Notre Dame Students love their families, they love their roommates, they love their friends, they love their girlfriends/boyfriends, and they love their school; so it makes sense that they would love a movie that is ostensibly about love.

Love, Actually is that movie. 

What Notre Dame Students love about the film is the fact that everybody can relate to a different story in it (except the one with the guy who’s in love with his best friend’s wife; that’s just sleazy).  Some students love Sarah’s (Laura Linney) storyline because it shows a person that needs and loves her family over anything else.  Others love Jaime’s (Colin Firth) storyline because it shows how love can triumph over immense barriers like language.  Still others count Karen’s (Emma Thompson) and Harry’s (Alan Rickman) story as their favorite because it depicts a love for children.

While everybody loves Sam’s story (mainly because it ends with a rousing rendition of All I Want For Christmas Is You (see #39)), and few dislike the hilarious antics of Billy Mack (Bill Nighy); one of the more beloved storylines in Love, Actually is the story of the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant).  While the details of this tale are satisfactory, the climax of the story is when he gives the speech touting everything that is great about Britain.  Not only is this a great speech in the vein of Rockne and Holtz (see #15), but it also plays to the Anglophile sensibilities of most Notre Dame Students.

Overall, the storylines of Love, Actually make it a film that Notre Dame Students feel comfortable watching with their parents, with a group of friends in the dorm, with members of the opposite sex that they are just platonically friends with, and with members of the opposite sex that they are attempting to ‘Notre Dame Hook-Up’ with right before parietals (see #21 and #63).  Because of this, it has become an unlikely classic amongst Notre Dame Students and a film that they continue to treasure and love (of course) every holiday season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

#68: ‘Studying’ in LaFortune

When the end of the semester approaches, Notre Dame Students lock down into a study mode that is extraordinary to see.  Many students make their way to the library for the first time all year while some students fail to make it out to the bars for the first weekend all year.  Students that are usually hanging around their dorms watching football games throughout the day are nowhere to be found, and the library is the place to see and be seen.

Notre Dame Students each have their own favorite places to study.  Some go to the basement of the library, or the second floor of the library, or one of the many other floors of the library (the place where actual work gets done).  Some students go to Jordan Hall of Science, others go to study rooms in their dorms, and others go to CoMo.  However, the most inexplicable location where Notre Dame Students study for exams en masse is the LaFortune Student Center.

There are very few sensible reasons why studying in LaFortune is a good idea.  Sure there is the Huddle and other mediocre food options (see #14), there are some tables where people can study in groups, parietals are non-existent so couples can study together, and the obvious fact that Starbucks doesn’t have to be snuck into LaFortune (see #22); but can any real studying actually occur within the walls of this building?

LaFortune is a loud building where lots of things are happening.  In addition to the typical groups of people getting their sandwiches and coffee, Finals week features additional distractions from Zahm guys going on the Bun Run, drunk students that are too good for studying, and even rogue Christmas Carolers spreading holiday cheer.  All these things combine to make LaFortune the worst possible place on campus to study for exams.

That’s why nobody actually studies there.

People might go to LaFortune with all of their books, their class notes, and their laptops.  They might spread all of these things haphazardly across a table to give the appearance that they are doing a lot of work, but ultimately they won’t go 45 seconds without stopping to talk with somebody, or checking their Facebook page, or getting up for more coffee and snacks, or playing online games, or reading blogs like this one.  Going to LaFortune to ‘study’ is nothing more than an exercise in procrastination (see #18).

This is the way Notre Dame Students like it.  They go to LaFortune and put up a facade of studiousness so that they can go back to their dorms or apartments and tell all of their roommates and friends that they, “spent 12 hours studying” when they really accomplished nothing all day.  These students use this ‘studying’ to later justify doing things that are SO college (see #11) like going to bars and/or ugly sweater parties (see #66). 

Not only are these students misleading their friends about their long hours of ‘studying’, but usually they are lying to themselves and believing that they are being productive.  Eventually these students might move to a better location where they will actually get work done; but as long as they remain in LaFortune they are merely keeping up the appearance of hard work.

Monday, December 14, 2009

#67: New Football Coaches

Recent years have unfortunately seen the necessity for Notre Dame to endure five different searches for a new head football coach.  While the specific circumstances surrounding and the people conducting each search have changed over the years, they have all (quite obviously) followed a period of failure and disappointment on the football field.

Because of the various perspectives of these failures, different groups within the Notre Dame community have different opinions of the coaching searches and of the men that are subsequently hired from these searches.  Old Alums (especially the overly fanatical message board crowd) are oftentimes angry and upset with new hires because these men do not fall under their arbitrary and unreachable ‘Tier 1’ designation.  These people make outlandish and unsubstantiated claims based on their ‘inside information’ (see #8) and choose to continue their never-ending pessimism about the football program.

Young alums that personally witnessed all of the failures and disappointment that brought about the need for a coaching change are expectedly skeptical of the new coach.  While these former students are hopeful for a more successful future, they all remember how excited they were when the last coach was hired.  They remember the short lived ‘Return to Glory’ of Tyrone Willingham and the ‘Hard-working, intelligent, and nasty’ football teams of Charlie Weis. 

These young alums are skeptical because they can clearly remember a time before the last coach failed; a time when they were students and hanging Sports Illustrated covers on their dorm room walls.  They remember a time when the departed coach was the new coach, and they loved him.

This is because Notre Dame Students LOVE new football coaches.

When a new coach is hired, Notre Dame Students brim with excitement and unbridled optimism.  They dreamily look towards the upcoming season knowing that there will be better results on the field and certain that the coach will lead them to the Promised Land.  They update their Facebook statuses, listen to press conferences, and start thinking of sayings for custom T-Shirts they will sell the following fall (see #35).

Notre Dame Students love new football coaches because they represent the possibility to wake up the echoes and return Notre Dame Football to its previous years of glory.  New football coaches bring with them the chance to restore winning traditions (see #40) and the ability to give the current classes a chance to witness a long lost level of success.

Now, Brian Kelly represents that chance; and until he loses his first game every Notre Dame Student will love him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

#66.5: Things Fr. Jenkins* Likes

1)       “Going Green”
2)       Creating Controversies
3)       The Academic Forum
4)       Uganda (see #1)
5)       Killing the Vagina Monologues
6)       Running with ROTC Students
7)       Creating a family friendly atmosphere
8)       Groundbreaking Ceremonies for new buildings
9)       Killing the Gay Film Festival
10)   Bill Kirk
11)   Premature Contract Extensions
12)   Academic Freedom (sort of)
13)   Calling ND a ‘research institution’
14)   Sustaining  the city of South Bend
15)   Fr. Malloy (for being an easy act to follow)

*Fr. Jenkins AND the University Administration

Thursday, December 10, 2009

#66: Christmastime

Like most good Catholics (or Protestants, or uncomfortably jealous Jews for that matter), Notre Dame Students love Christmastime.  They love this period between Thanksgiving and the end of finals when they get to celebrate the holiday season on campus with all of their friends, and they love all of the festivities that come with it.

Immediately upon returning from Thanksgiving break, Notre Dame Students will begin the process of transforming their dorm rooms or off-campus homes into their own private winter wonderlands.  Students will put up stockings and ornaments, and they will hang Christmas lights everywhere they can possibly hang them.  These lights will remain hanging in their rooms for the entire second semester.

The decorations that won’t remain into the New Year are those that students organize for the outside of their dorms.  While years ago these lights and decorations were simple and elegant, the competitive nature of Notre Dame Students has brought dorm decorations to new levels of excess while wasting away all the credibility of the University’s attempts to ‘go green’ (although, they do look pretty sweet).

During Christmastime, Notre Dame Students feast on the best dining hall meal of the year (the Prime Rib Candlelight dinner) and they oftentimes break out into Christmas carols on a whim.  They exchange gifts with their closest friends and watch Christmas movies as a respite from exam preparation.  They will watch Home Alone, Elf, Bad Santa, The Santa Clause, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Love, Actually (more on that later).

Students will then throw more Christmas parties than any rational person could anticipate.  Those living in the dorms will be booked with multiple SYRs on the lone weekend between Thanksgiving and study days, with certain dorms lucky enough to host their SYR around the Christmas tree under the dome.  These SYRs will undoubtedly feature hundreds of Notre Dame Men wearing the timeless combination of a suit and a Santa hat. 

Meanwhile, off-campus students will throw ‘ugly-sweater parties’ like it is their job.  Because every student has a desire to plan his or her own party (see #25), their social calendars will be booked with such events on every Thursday-Saturday for three weeks straight.  With egg nog, ugly sweaters, and the perfect Christmas playlist that will prominently feature Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You (see #39) and Do They Know It’s Christmas?(see #51) these parties will happen over and over again until everybody goes home for Christmas break.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

#65: Riding Bikes in Adverse Conditions

One of the great things about Notre Dame’s campus is that the residential and academic buildings are all relatively close together.  Students can easily walk between the most distant buildings of importance (so, not including Carroll) without exerting an inordinate amount of time or effort.  This pedestrian campus is promoted by an abundance of sidewalks and a lack of cars on campus.

Despite the convenient layout of campus, many students still feel the need to pretend like they are going to a large state school by riding their bikes between buildings.  Because of the short distances, these students will undoubtedly spend more time locking their bike then they will actually riding it (because locking bikes is necessary to prevent them from being stolen—or even worse, finding them hanging in a tree somewhere).

While this biking can be seen merely as a leisure activity in the summer months, Notre Dame Students inexplicably continue to ride their bikes in the inclement weather that lasts from October until May (see #43).  Whether it is snow, sleet, ice, hail, wind, or rain, the biking contingent of Notre Dame Students are relentless like postal workers in their insistence on biking.

These students will put plastic bags on the seats of their bikes to ensure dryness, and then they will hit the ice-covered sidewalks in their perilous quest from their dorm to DeBartolo Hall to the Dining Hall and back.  Never worrying about the inevitable loss of traction, these students will slide across the sidewalk, crash into pedestrians, and get even wetter than their sensibly walking counterparts.

Ultimately, most students will realize that bicycles were simply not built to be ridden around in the adverse conditions of the South Bend winter.  These students, however, will choose not to leave their bike in one place throughout the winter, but will walk their bike across the slick and icy sidewalks so that it will still be with them when the day comes that conditions are more desirable for biking.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

#64: Omelets

Like most college students, those at Notre Dame are fairly apathetic towards breakfast.  With the majority of students only having 14 meals on their meal plan each week, and the breakfast hours of the dining halls incompatible with the schedules of many students, there is just no time or place for a traditional breakfast during the typical week.  Most students settle for a bagel and coffee from Waddick’s or Starbucks.

When students do get breakfast in the dining halls, however, they typically make sure to get the omelets from the omelet bars in both dining halls. 

Some students go to the omelet bar regularly throughout the week.  These students have their chosen ingredients set and they get to know the omelet makers quite well throughout their omelet making careers.  Other students only utilize the omelet bar on the weekends when it is a brunch option much later in the day.  These students find that the omelets do great work on hangovers and help the students prepare for a full day of studying.  They eat their omelets while recapping the debauchery of the previous night and thinking through the things they wish they hadn’t done (see #11, doing things that are SO college).

Further students only eat their omelets for special occasions.  Some make special trips to breakfast on mornings when they have early exams and enjoy their omelet as a sort of pre-test pump up meal.  Some students only get omelets when the monogram waffle-makers have gone missing.  Other students make a point to specifically go to the omelet bars the morning after they have pulled an all-nighter.  These omelets act as a triumphal post-game treat after a long night of studying or paper writing.

Overall, most Notre Dame Students find a way to work the occasional omelet into their diet, and the omelet bar is certainly one of the most beloved menu items at either dining hall.

>Note: The pictured omelet is NOT from either Notre Dame dining hall.