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Sinfonia: it’s not just for music majors anymore

Features Article for University of Alaska, Anchorage newspaper The Northern Light

by Jessica Keil (maiden name)
Northern Light Features Editor

If music hath charm to soothe the savage breast, members of the University Sinfonia might well be the most placid people on campus.

A sinfonia is an orchestra scaled down. Way down, if you’re looking at UAA’s sinfonia, with its core group of about 15 members.

The University Sinfonia is run as a two-credit class, so anyone can sign up, but the prerequisite may make some people rather squeamish. You have to audition to get in.

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Connachen talkes life, hitchiking and underwear

Features Article for University of Alaska, Anchorage newspaper The Northern Light

by Jessica Keil (maiden name)
Northern Light Features Editor

From beehives to bell-bottoms, it appears the 70s are making a comeback in a big way, so one might assume that the era’s favorite mode of transportation – hitchhiking – will be coming back, too.

But will anyone stop to pick up those restless souls?

Steve Connachen, 23, wondered the same as he stood with thumb poised by a Canadian highway. Tired of watching cars pass him by, Connachen decided it was time to pull out the heavy ammo.

Stepping behind a tree, he doffed his jeans and faster than you can say “shazam!” he was clad in his national dress.

Less than 45 minutes later, someone stopped and offered him a lift.

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On Death

I’m wearing my dead brother’s shirt. I can’t remember ever seeing him wear it, but it was his, and now it’s mine. If you asked me what I get out of wearing this shirt, I’m not sure I could answer you. It’s just a shirt. It doesn’t hold anything that’s left of him: all that’s left of him are my memories, my family’s memories. Maybe that’s what ghosts are made of: memories and empty clothes and an over-active imagination. The funny thing about death is–and I mean funny-strange, not funny-ha-ha–the funny thing is that everyone always thinks about loss when they think about death. I used to think the same way too. Death means the loss of someone you love, and it’s something horrible, irrevocable and final, but there’s more. You never hear people talk about the things left behind, and I’m not talking about ghosts, unless that’s what you call t-shirts and memories and regret. Some things just stick around, long after the loss, and they haunt you.

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The Magical Wizard of Oz

When I was little, my favorite book was The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. We had this ratty orange paperback version — nothing special — I’m not even sure if it had the illustrations in it. I must have read that book 5 or 6 times myself during my childhood, and my sisters had all read it too. Its popularity in our household was clearly evident: my sister Jenny and I had drawn pictures on the blank pages at the beginning and end of the book, and the spine had been reinforced several times with masking tape.

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To the Young Dude I Let Cut in Front of Me at the Supermarket

Dear Young Dude,

I’m sorry I let you cut in front of me at the store. You see, I noticed you only had a can of soda in your hand, and I knew that my overladen basket of groceries would take a while to scan and bag. Also, I had my eye on that giant can of Diet Red Bull in the case near the register, and I thought that letting you go in front of me would give me time to get some of that delicious highly-caffeinated goodness. So I waved you ahead of me, only half noticing how you nervously avoided my eyes as you muttered your thanks.

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Harley and the Firemen

It’s hard not to like firemen. Really: the job of firemen has been romanticized for probably as long as they’ve been driving around in those big, giant, shiny red trucks. They have all the gadgets and muscles of a policeman, without the billy-clubs and pepper-spray: what’s not to love? But if you look past the rubber-suited, fire-hose-totin’ glamour, firemen really have kind of crappy jobs. Think about it, they’re either hanging around the firehouse for endless hours, playing cards, listening to music, maybe lifting weights … shirtless … perhaps taking long, hot saunas with other muscular firemen, roughly rubbing scented oil into each other’s rippling pectorals … *ahem* … sorry, got off track. Where was I?

Oh yes, talking about how lame the job of being a fireman must really be. Either they’re waiting around for a really terrible fire to happen, or they’re putting out a really terrible fire, which boils down to: really boring, or really depressing. I imagine the greatest perk for a fireman must be saving things. Sometimes they get to save a home, sometimes they save people, and sometimes they even save people’s pets.

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