The Self-Portrait and the Self-Involved

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Andie's Blog

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Cindy Sherman, who has been creating art since the 1970’s, was an influential photographer in the post-modern world.  She was both the model and artist, and in the process of creating her images created a new twist on the self-portrait.  She made them conceptual. 

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Payne Pays a Visit To Wisconsin

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Andie's Blog

An unassuming man in a gray cardigan and worn down jeans, film director Alexander Payne graced us with his presence tonight at UW-Madison.  It felt natural that he spoke to UW after a showing of “Nebraska.”  We’re all midwesterners here.  And even the most successful midwesterner here- that is, Payne- is an approachable, friendly man.  Listening to him speak about working with rock stars like Bruce Dern and Will Forte was like listening a friend talk about work over beers at the Old Fashioned.

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10 Books to Fill the ‘Girls’-Shaped Hole In Your Life

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Last weekend, Lena Dunham’s muchtalkedabout HBO show Girls aired its season finale, and though like everyone else, we had our quibbles with the program, we’re finding ourselves more than a little sorry that we don’t have a new episode to look forward to tonight. There’s nothing like it on television, so while we wait for the second season, we thought we’d indulge in a little Girls-esque reading to slake our lust for realistic female friendships, uncomfortable-but-brilliant sex scenes, and bitingly accurate portrayals of semi-lost 20-somethings. Click through to see our recommendations for books to fill the Girls-shaped hole in your life (or just in your Sundays), and if you feel inspired, feel free to add to our list in the comments.

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Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts”

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One of the perks of being a college student is reading ridiculous amounts in the summer. For those of you who enjoyed Erik Larson’s ‘Devil in the White City’, his most recent book ‘In the Garden of Beasts’ is a great new read. Both are similar in Larson’s objective writing style, in his extensive research, and in his rather disturbing subject matters: Chicago serial killers and Hitler’s Germany.

In ‘In The Garden of Beasts’, Larson follows William Dodd and his family as they move to Berlin in the tumultuous year of 1933. Hitler is gaining more and more power, yet few people realize to what an extent Hitler will change Germany. William Dodd has been assigned as the American ambassador in Berlin by President Roosevelt and finds it difficult to deal with German diplomats who make promises they don’t intend to keep. Dodd’s daughter, Martha, befriends, flirts with, and has affairs with communists, Nazis, and others involved in Hitler’s Regime. She is so taken with the beauty of Berlin that she fails to acknowledge how serious the situation is for Jewish-Germans and others against Hitler.

Larson, thorough an impressive body of research, has uncovered letters and correspondences of Dodd, Martha, and others involved in the story. The result is a fiction that reads as very historically accurate. Larson has embellished the real story and made something simply factual into something incredibly compelling. Obviously, since hindsight is 20-20, we as readers may see the characters as naive at times. Considering the time period, American-German relations at the time, and extensive German propaganda, however, it’s much more understandable how an American family in Berlin could fail to realize what a monster Hitler really was. Also, this novel allows us to see one of the darkest time periods of history as what it was: a well-hidden secret. This is not the most pleasant, light-hearted beach-read of the summer, obviously, yet it is great as a gritty, realistic, and compelling novel about an American who is thrown into an impossible situation and who struggles to make changes in his new country.