LIM College Faculty Blog

A Cosa Nostra Encounter on a Sicilian Vacation

Posted on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 @ 02:44 PM

by Fred Steinberg, Adjunct Faculty in Marketing, Management & Finance

Syracusa.jpgSicily was added to our travel bucket list just some three years ago after many friends and relatives came back with almost universal raves for the big island off the bottom of the boot in Southern Italy. After listening to their travel tales, I realized there were 10 factors to take into account when visiting -- five broad attractions but five broad warnings.

Attractions

Natural Beauty – Miles of ocean coastline with quaint harbors and lovely beaches, snow-capped mountains highlighted by Mt. Etna’s active volcano and some of the loveliest public gardens in all Europe.  

Historic Ruins – A wide variety of classic Greco-Roman and Arabic ruins, many located in city neighborhoods throughout the island, most of which are viewable but many still under excavation.

Hotels – A wide variety of unique boutique properties, many converted from historic residences, local museums and monasteries, which easily rival many of the paradores in Spain and Portugal.

Food – Home of the best pizza, bread, granita and arguably the best pastas in Italy, plus a wide variety of excellent, inexpensive wines. It’s no surprise that Sicily is often referred to as “God’s Kitchen.”

...And a faint hint of the Casa Nostra.

Warnings

Internal Airlines – Best to stick with large international carriers such as Alitalia, Delta, Air France, United-Continental and Lufthansa when flying to and from Sicily. Locally based and regional carriers operate on “Italian time,” – Read: Late, very late and “domani.”

Trains - Internal trains make the internal airlines seem ruthlessly efficient. And routes mostly circle the coasts and stop every few minutes – sometimes at a station. El Duce and his supporters boasted rapturously of his making the trains run on time, but I doubt they ever visited Sicily.

Drivers - On the highways you could swear (and you often do) that you have entered the Monaco Grand Pre track. Speed limits, where they exist, seem to be postings of the minimum local drivers are allowed to go.

Driving - If you have the guts, stamina and nervous system to do it yourself, you can experience the worst traffic jams in Europe in Palermo, Taormina and Messina. Or you can venture out on the highways, joining the Grand Prix (see above) and dodge frequent accident pileups, highway construction which seems to proceed at glacial speed, rock slides from unstable mountains, motorists who will stop in the middle of the highway to shout at and argue with other drivers who have done the same and occasionally being engulfed in ash from a still active volcano. 

Crowds - Let me simply say that the crowds at local tourist locations, such as the historic center city of Taormina, make New Year’s Eve in Times Square seem like midnight in Pierre, South Dakota.

Some Highlights

Taormina.jpgNatural Beauty - With over 900 miles of coastline, Sicily provides no shortage of outstanding beaches and ports. For fishing ports, Mazarg del Vallo, Liceta and Seglitti are the most productive and interesting while the most popular for tourists include Ragusa, Riposto, Cefalu, Syracusa and Palermo. The latter two were highlights for us. The one mile walk along the Palermo port passes docks for ships large and small (including some spectacular yachts) and leads to the beautiful Orto Botanico, the botanic and zoological gardens administered by the University of Palermo.    

In Syracusa, a UNESCO World Heritage site considered the most beautiful of Sicilian cities, the Greek Theater, built in the 5th Century BC, and later rebuilt by the Romans’, is considered one of the best preserved ancient theaters of its type in the world. The Isola di Ortigia peninsula is another Syracusa highlight. Jutting out some one mile into the Caribbean’s Straits of Messina, which separate Sicily from mainland Italy, the Ortigia area features the Doric Temple of Apollo and the lovely Montalto and Archimedes Plazas, which date back to the 14th Century.

The one hour walk around the Isola peninsula is breathtaking, from the beautiful beach areas to the Maniace Castle at the tip of the Isola. On the land side of the walk you can view many baroque and restored medieval sites and structures. Particularly attractive is Castle Minerva, now an archeological museum.  Its crypt-laden catacombs are fascinating and can be easily viewed both individually from ground level and from a suspended walkway.

In Catania we discovered the very lovely and idyllic Botanical Gardens, administered by the Botanical Department of the University of Catania.  The facility is divided into two main sections – the General Garden, featuring over 100 varieties of palms, succulent plants and trees which have the ability to survive in arid environments, and giant Cereus and Opuntia trees. The Sicilian Garden is reserved for the cultivation of local plants and trees.  And of course, no one should miss Mt. Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. But while many chose to go to villages at the base of the mountain, the best views are from higher spots in Taormina, 20 miles to the North, or Catania, 15 miles to the South.

Historic Ruins – To find examples of Greco-Roman and occasional Arabic ruins you likely will need only walk a few blocks from your hotel in most any city neighborhood. They will not be on the scale of the most famous and extensive such as the Catacombs of the Capuchins in Palermo, the Necropolis in Pantalica or the UNESCO Heritage Site of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, but each is unique and interesting in its own way.  

Our favorites were the Greek Theaters in Syracusa and Taormina and a special find in Catania. The Greek Theater in Syracusa, part of the historic cities Archaeological Site, features remains of the ancient city as far back as the 8th Century BC. The Theater is particularly well preserved. The Amphitheater in Taormina is considered among the best examples of Greek theaters in Europe and is still used for concerts, plays and other events.

In Catania we were attracted by write-ups of the city’s Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolo, on UNESCO’s World heritage List, which now houses the Department of Humanities of the University of Catania. Viewing is only by daily tours (English tours are available). Rebuilt after the giant earthquake of 1693, the Monastery was completed in the 18th Century and features two-three story cloisters connected by a bridge which now serves as a study hall. The building features giant marble columns, remnants of the original kitchen and dining halls, monk’s cells, the former Abbot’s apartment, the former chapel, now a movie theater, and the novice’s quarters and gardens. Most unique is the school’s library, housed in the lowest level, which survived the great earthquake relatively intact. The stacks, catalog system, study halls and administrative areas are uniquely built into and around the original catacomb facilities to preserve their history.

Hotels - Sicily has no shortage of unique and historic hotels including the 19th Century Grand Timeo, overlooking the Greek Theater in Taormina and known for its Literary Terrace, the multi-terraced La Moresca Maison de Charme, beautifully restored in authentic Sicilian Art Nouveau style from a former estate in Regusa, and the Baglio Oneto Resort and Winery, a series of buildings based on old feudal dwellings of the 18th Century in Marsala.

But our medium-priced favorites were the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa, located on a quiet cul de sac just off the center city in Palermo. The hotel combines an authentically restored 16th century church, adjacent convent and cloisters and features a dramatic two-story staircase. In Catania we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the UNA Palace, restored on a historic Century old property in classic Sicilian style, located in the artistic and commercial district just a 10 minute walk to the center city Duomo (cathedral) Square. Its dramatic three-story lobby features a cocktail terrace and a grand staircase. But the outstanding feature of the hotel for us was the Etna Roof Terrace with its excellent view of Mt. Etna. For just 12 EU you can have cocktails and canapes as the sun sets and view Mt. Etna spewing lava and ash just 15 miles away. After dark, you can watch a wonderful ballet performance as local bats soar and dive for their evening insect meal.

Food – Sicily (God’s Kitchen) features Italian pizza lover’s best national version. It’s the thick crust, deep dish version that started the pizza craze in the US. Arancini,( fried rice balls) stuffed with meat and tomato sauce, make for an excellent if somewhat heavy appetizer. Our favorite was the lighter stuffed mushrooms. And each region seems to have its bread specialty – from the Ciabatta (a broad, flat, crusty, white loaf) to the Pane Nero (light, yellow inside) and the Polenta Popeta (dark, sourdough with heavy crust). Sicilians are very proud of their local breads.

For entrées, Sicily features a wide variety of local pastas, with swordfish being the seafood of choice. Stuffed eggplant is also popular and prepared with various ingredients. Other dishes feature local sardines, tuna and cod. For desert, cannoli, stuffed with ricotta, mascarpone and cream and granita, a cross between Italian ice and sorbet and native to Catania, are most popular.

We had our best Sicilian meal at Casa del Brodo on Corso Vitt Emanuele, just around the corner from our hotel in Palermo. We started with a very inexpensive but excellent local Prosecco which accompanied a 12 item antipasto buffet (nine euros), entrees of pasta with sword fish and stuffed eggplant, followed by a small three-flavor sampling of granita. Our total bill for two was just under 80 euros – which leads to...

A Faint Hint of the Cosa Nostra

Palermo.jpgWe were seated at a table for two quite near to a large round table with eight chairs. Young and middle aged men arrived individually as waiters brought out platters of olives, pickles, cheese, stuffed mushrooms and bread, accompanied by bottles of Champaigne. 

The men were uniformly dressed in fashionable white shirts, slacks and loafers and sported large watches, rings and necklaces. As each arrived, there were rounds of cheek-kissing and after about 20 minutes, seven seats were filled. Then an older, shorter and similarly attired man arrived. At that point all stood up, the owner-chef and his wife came out and all effusively greeted the last arrival with a round of cheek kissing that would pale a 1940 Hollywood romantic comedy. And we were delighted that we had experienced our hint of the Cosa Nostra on our second night in Palermo.  

The warnings we had received were generally right on. We had booked our flight from Rome to Palermo on Iberia Airlines but when the web booking responded, we found ourselves on a code share, operated by Vueling Air, an Italian low-cost inter European carrier.

Deciding to be cautious, given the usual crowds at Rome’s huge Fiumicino Airport, we arrived over two hours early and were glad we did when it took us some two hours of waiting to check in, get through security and find our way to our gate. Then we waited...and waited...and waited.

An hour after our six pm scheduled departure, we were loaded on a bus, in three shifts of about 50, for the 10 minute drive to the plane. Total time for bussing was about an hour. Then we waited...and waited...and waited on the plane.

Forty minutes later it was announced that mechanical difficulties prevented our plane from flying but another plane awaited us. Incorrectly thinking that we would be bussed directly to the new plane, we were taken back to the terminal and after the bus brought three shifts of passengers, we were marched 15 minutes to another wing of the terminal where the bus loading procedure was restarted.

Now four hours after scheduled departure time we were subject to the following rather unreal announcement in a British accent. “This is your new captain and I’m sorry this will be my only announcement as I do not speak Italian. Your previous crew’s flying time for the week had expired so we are a volunteer crew and we hope you appreciate that. And while I have flown to various Italian cities before, I have never flown to Palermo, but my co-pilot has. Our flying time is one hour and we hope you enjoy the flight.” The Italian couple sitting next to me asked what he said. Hoping to avoid them asking to get off the plane, I responded: “No entiendo, solamente hablo espanol.” Four hours late, we took off for Palermo.  

It did not take us long to experience another “warning.”  As it was 11 PM when we exited the Palermo airport, we decided to not wait for the downtown shuttle bus although it would cost only 14 EU for the two of us. Instead we went to the taxi kiosk and were told it would be about a 45 minute ride for 60 EU to our hotel. Our driver Marco was no doubt practicing for Le Mans.

He quickly entered the relatively empty downtown expressway, and at speeds often exceeding 150 km. per hr., seemed to delight in getting behind each of the few cars on the road, flashing his lights, honking his horn and shouting until the car in front got into an adjacent lane. As we terrifyingly tried to figure out how to tighten our loose seat belts, Marcos kept turning around to talk to us as he explained he wanted to improve his English. He made it to our hotel in 25 minutes, no doubt a performance putting him into the Guinness Book of Records.

If driving with Marco had not put us off our original plan to later drive a rental car for the 175 mile direct trip to Catania on superhighway A-19, we found out by talking to the travel desk at the hotel that a landslide from an adjacent mountain had closed the A-19 and repairs were expected to take up to a month. That would result in a detour that would turn the usual three hour trip into more like five hours. So we opted instead for the scheduled five hour train ride which hugged to coast. And while not exactly a levitation bullet train, nor an example of modern rolling stock, even with many stops, some planned, some not, the train was only 30 minutes late getting to Catania.

Yes, being July, there was heavy tourist traffic at the Greek theaters and in the more popular museums, principal Duomos and central city squares. But in other than Syracusa, where the historic district was so packed that we opted to cut our planned full day there to five hours, the crowds were never intrusive.

So we have put another trip to Sicily on our “to do” travel list when we hope to explore other parts of this first rate travel destination.                   

Topics: Italy, Sicily, Catania, Fred Steinberg, Syracusa

Faculty Focus - LIM College Faculty Newsletter

Posted on Mon, May 23, 2016 @ 12:23 PM

newsletter_LIM_Page_1.pngThe inaugural edition of LIM College’s Faculty Focus newsletter is now available. Learn about what our talented faculty are accomplishing in the professional and academic arenas.

Read Faculty Focus.

Topics: faculty, newsletter, faculty focus

The Importance of Professional Development

Posted on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 @ 04:39 PM

by Nicole LaMoreaux

Books.jpgThis past month I was given the opportunity to attend the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS-NA)’s annual conference. I always leave conferences feeling refreshed and inspired and this conference was no different. I have come back to the Adrian G. Marcuse Library with so many ideas to not only implement in the Library, but also to share with our Archives, classes and academic departments here at LIM College.

It’s exciting to take new ideas and see how they might be adjusted for your own population of students, faculty, and staff. As part of my professional development, I plan to work with my colleagues on the following: 

 

  • Graduate Studies Partnerships:
    • Implement scaffolding instruction literacy plans for first year and second year graduate students.
      • First year: Encourage exploratory research
      • Second year: Encourage focused research
    • Embedded Librarianship: Provide both in-person and online opportunities for students to have a dedicated librarian to offer research assistance.
      • This would be a new addition for the capstone students. As they gather information for their projects, students will learn how to fully utilize the Library and its resources. Embedded librarianship encourages exploration and discovery to improve how students gather and understand information.
    • Makerspaces: Create one-off makerspace opportunities to encourage students to use the Library for a variety of reasons including artistic endeavors that allow them to take their creative and critical thinking skills outside of the classroom. An example of a pop-up makerspace includes creating a Lego corner which would allow them to build models of retail spaces that they might then utilize in their course projects.
    • Archive “Suitcases”: The “suitcases” can be checked out of the Archives and used in classrooms for inspiration and teaching tools.

Should you have any questions about any of these ideas, please visit us here at the Adrian G. Marcuse Library. We will be working on implementing some of these ideas in the future months.

Topics: Adrian G. Marcuse Library, Art Libraries Society of North America, conference

Patagonia's "Down With It" Parka

Posted on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 @ 01:47 PM

by Hilda Alfonso

Hilda_Alfonso_Patagonia.jpgI use every drop of toothpaste, ketchup, shampoo, and even expensive outerwear. It’s just who I am. So, it was quite a shock to my family and friends when I decided to retire my trusted Patagonia Parka. I wore my faithful black down parka for eight years. We braved sleet, rain, and the unending snow of 2015 together. It kept me warm and fashionably New York on a daily basis.

I was sad to bid it farewell. But, I had to admit it had seen better days. My seams had started to fray, feathers had started to take flight at an alarming rate, and I had developed an unwanted luster where my felt bag lay on my hip and other inopportune spots. Many morning commutes were spent trying to finagle a pesky feather back into the folds of the fabric. Enough was enough! I needed to part with my coat and purchase something new.

I decided to take part in Patagonia’s Worn Wear Program. The program recycles, mends or reuses Patagonia products into new articles. Patagonia is deeply committed to the environment and attempts to find ways to lessen our environmental footprint. They concede that any new manufactured item plays havoc on our precious planet. Therefore, I reasoned returning it to the Worn Wear program would allow my coat to be completely utilized and ease my consumer guilt.

Patagonia_Parka.jpgWhen I arrived at the store, I explained to the sales associate how I had religiously worn my coat and now was finally ready to move on. He listened intently with a sympathetic ear and informed me about their Iron Clad guarantee, which states if you are not satisfied with one of their products, or it does not perform to your satisfaction, they will repair or replace the item for free.

It did not matter that I had purchased the item eight years prior. He argued I obviously enjoyed wearing it and had simply worn it out. Their products have a lifetime guarantee and they were happy to replace my "Down With It" Parka with a brand new coat!

In today’s world of fast fashion it’s very hard to compete. Items are sold at a rapid pace, consumers are obsessed with cost and the environment pays a heavy price. Many of those throw away impulse buys end up in landfills and add up in the environmental cost column.

Patagonia is trying to do things differently. By using reclaimed or recycled products they are pushing forward with a greener agenda. I admit I have always been impressed with their practices. Yes, I probably won’t need a new coat for quite some time. But, I’m happy to frequent Patagonia and purchase other items in the future. They’ve made me into a loyal customer and a very happy one at that!

Topics: Patagonia, green agenda, Hilda Alfonso, environment

Icelandic Fashion

Posted on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 10:47 AM

Eve Proper
Assistant Professor, Management

I had the opportunity to spend a month this summer in Iceland. It’s a beautiful, rugged country with good tourism infrastructure. You may know it as the location where Game of Thrones is filmed, or as host to several music festivals, but you probably don’t think of it as a fashion capital. While there is a small high-end fashion scene in Iceland, including the annual Reykjavik Fashion Festival in March, its strongest offerings are in the outdoor apparel market.

Iceland’s most famous fashion export is its lopapeysa sweaters. While they are considered traditional, their design is actually less than a hundred years old. These chunky sweaters are knit (preferably hand-knit) from the wool of Icelandic sheep and feature patterned rings around their yokes. Most are made in natural colors such as tans, greys, and greens. Machine-knit lopapeysur are also available through companies such as Icewear and Álafoss. If you want folks back home to know you visited Iceland, a lopapeysa is the best apparel to signal with.

However, it’s in modern outdoor apparel that Icelandic companies really shine - which makes sense for a country with cold winters, cool summers, and a history of fishing and farming. A handful of companies are translating this outdoor work experience into stylish clothes for outdoor recreation.

The best-known company (and my favorite) is 66°North. Their origins lie in professional-grade marine wear, which they still make. I had the opportunity to try it out while doing outdoor volunteer work, and it is sturdy and very waterproof - and bright: it only comes in neon orange or green. These items aren’t available from the company directly, but through retailers that sell marine apparel for professionals.

Today 66°North is best known for its high-quality outdoor recreation apparel at a price point similar to Patagonia. Unlike their professional gear, their recreational apparel is fashion-forward. The company uses both new lightweight, non-itchy wool knits and modern miracle fibers. I wore a pair of their wool base layer pants more days than not while in Iceland’s Skaftafell National Park, and picked up a shirt on my way home. While 66°North is Iceland’s best-known brand, you still may not have heard of it; the company only began retailing outside of Iceland in 2004.

Cintamani and Zo-on are younger companies with similar product lines, although Zo-on favors a more preppy aesthetic; it even has a line of golf apparel. Cintamani’s style is more similar to 66°North’s, and which you prefer is mainly a function of individual fit.

You don’t have to travel to Iceland to try these brands out; all are available online. You can buy hand-knit lopapeysur through Etsy, or you can even knit your own; Álafoss sells patterns and yarn. But since Iceland is only a five-hour flight away, and available as a stopover for no extra cost to other European destinations, it’s worth visiting and buying local.

Meet Professor Andrew Cotto

Posted on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 @ 03:43 PM

Hi. I'm Professor Andrew Cotto, a Lecturer at LIM College in the Department of Arts & Sciences. I'm the course coordinator for Writing Essentials, and I also teach Composition.

I have a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Lynchburg College in Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The New School. This blended academic / creative background is appropriate since I'm also a professional writer.

I'm the author of an award-winning coming-of-age novel and a critically acclaimed noir. I also write for many magazines, websites and newspapers, including regular contributions to The New York Times. My journalism tends to focus on subjects such as travel, food, parenting, politics, and music. I do the occasional book review, as well.

I'm currently revising a novella + short story collection. I also have a TV pilot that is being shopped around the major networks. My next novel will be set in Italy, where I have lived on two separate occasions. My primary location, though, is in Brooklyn with my wife, daughter and son. And dog. 

Here is some of my recent work:

 

At Heights Chateau, A Welcoming Home for Wine Lovers – The New York Times

A Toothy Welcome to a Family Fish Restaurant on Long Island – The New York Times

A More Authentic Italian Experience, in Santo Spirito – Men’s Journal

Brownsville’s Unlikely Rugby Dynasty – The New York Times

Topics: faculty, faculty blog, Andrew Cotto

BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE 2015 ACADEMY AWARDS

Posted on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 @ 11:06 AM

Professor Amanda Hallay Takes a Look at This Year’s Oscars

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With the obvious exception of host Neil Patrick Harris’ ‘tightie whities’ and a reference to Twitter in his opening number, the 87th Academy Award ceremony seemed like a blast from the past, transporting viewers back to Oscar nights of bygone times.   Award recipients used the podium to raise awareness of ALS and Alzheimer’s, Civil Rights and Equal Pay, their impassioned pleas harking back to an era of a social responsibility that often seems lost in a world of Instagram photos, showbiz gossip and celebrity Tweets.  And instead of the often too self-referential approach of recent Oscar nights (a show about showbiz that sometimes forgets its purpose), the 87th Academy Awards took on the reverence and elegance of the ‘40s and ‘50s, where nobody was out to shock, losers were good sports, and jokes were kept on just the right side of propriety.

This year, Oscar behaved himself.  When word got out that Lady Gaga would be performing a tribute to The Sound of Music (in honor of its 50th birthday), the ‘net was abuzz with speculation (Maria Von Trapp in a flame-throwing bustier?), yet Gaga’s graceful, respectful, and almost operatic performance was in perfect step with an evening out to celebrate film, not celebrities.  Much has been made of the omission of Joan Rivers from the always moving In Memorium segment, yet her absence from the roll call seemed to highlight the Academy’s overall intent; to offer an evening that focused on film (and not ‘Hollywood’ in general).

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Were there awkward moments? Of course (and what would The Oscars be without them?), yet John Travolta’s ongoing weirdness is now so ubiquitous that he’s almost like a creepy uncle we only see once a year at a family gathering, and one’s heart went out to Terrence Howard, whose autocue malfunctioned as he introduced The Imitation Game, the actor left to improvise oddly as he waited for his scripted words to once again roll.   Host Neil Patrick Harris made a brave start, but his role of Emcee lacked the genius of his Tony hosting, and there was more than one embarrassed silence when jokes fell flat.

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Still, these were minor moments in an otherwise smooth - and very earnest - ceremony.

This deferential approach began on the red carpet, stars looking grown-up, sophisticated, and above all, modest.  Nobody was flashing too much skin, and nobody dressed to shock, with even J-Lo’s overly plunging neckline almost invisible in her flesh-toned Elie Saab gown.

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Some critics have slammed the ceremony for lacking in laughs and ‘wow factor’, yet personally, I feel that this respectfully retro approach struck just the right note for a year where the nominated movies concerned Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Gay alienation – subjects deserving of our respect.

Amanda Hallay is a full-time faculty member at LIM College and cultural commentator.

Topics: Lady Gaga, 1760, Oscars, Academy Awards, amanda hallay

GET SMART!

Posted on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 @ 01:17 PM

Professor Amanda Hallay Discusses the Burgeoning Interest in Brains

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In a world that seems intent upon the antics of The Housewives, Kim and Kanye, and Honey Boo-Boo, it is heartening to see a burgeoning interest in brains. After all, there was once a time when intellect was sought and celebrated, yet the past twenty years have seen a dwindling of interest in intelligence. Rom-coms and comic book heroes top the box office, and reality TV of the very worst kind (Who could possibly be interested in Hoarders?) are more popular than ever.

Happily, smarts are making a comeback. The phenomenal and international success of BBC’s Sherlock was the first sign that we’re becoming as enamored with brains as with brawn, and recent movies like The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game (the former, a biography of the life of Stephen Hawking, the latter, the story of Alan Turing, the celebrated cracker of Nazi codes and computer pioneer) render quintessential ”brainiacs” as cool, romantic heroes.  

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On TV, new shows debuting in 2015 are jumping on the cerebral trend as well.  The USA Network’s Dig is a thriller set in the world of archeology, while Lifetime’s new reality show, Child Genius, promises to explore the nation’s most intellectually gifted children—quite a departure from Toddlers and Tiaras.

This interest in intellect is sure to impact fashion. Instead of the overly embellished, raunchy, rock n’ roll attire we have been programed to like, recent collections are simple, stylish and – above all – smart.

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Is brainy the new sexy? If the heartthrob status of Benedict Cumberbatch (star of both Sherlock and The Imitation Game) and The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne are anything to go by, the answer seems to be a well-informed “yes”.

Amanda Hallay is a full-time faculty member at LIM College where her courses, Cultural Connections to Fashion, Who Wore What When, and Fashion Forecasting explore the relationship between fashion and the world that wears it.

Topics: fashion trends, amanda hallay, TV trends

OUT OF ORBIT!

Posted on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 @ 03:52 PM

Professor Amanda Hallay Explores the Space Revival

The last time it happened was in the 1950s and early 1960s; space, our "Final Frontier", became a cultural phenomenon, splashing down on everything from toys to movies, textile design to greeting cards. Every little boy wanted to be an astronaut, his nose pressed to the TV watching The Jetsons, his head hot and sweaty beneath his fake NASA helmet as his mother cleaned the carpet with her ”Constellation” vacuum.

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Of course, it all made sense back then. The Space Race was on, and words like "satellite", "Sputnik" and "Telstar" spoke directly to an era obsessed with "The Future" – a future where every home would come complete with its own, friendly robot, and where it was no doubt imagined that (by 2015), some of us would live on Mars.

The optimism of the Space Program fizzled with time, and apart from a sudden burst of space obsession in the late 1970s and early ‘80s (Star Wars, Battleship Galactica, and ET), we were so focused on the micro- technology that changed our daily lives that we seemed to forget that there’s a universe out there that is infinitely more interesting than a celebrity tweet or an Instagrammed photo.

There is, however, strong evidence to suggest that Earthlings are again ready to venture out of orbit with what I am dubbing "The Space Revival". Movies like the Oscar-winning Gravity and the recent Interstellar have beautifully depicted the wonder of the universe, while TV shows like Extant (starring Halle Berry as an intergalactic voyager) and Ascension use space as the setting for standard, sci-fi thrills.

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For the slightly more cerebral, last year’s revamped Cosmos scored a cosmic coup, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson taking viewers on a journey through time and space, and (through the artful use of CGI) the planets had never looked better.

I don’t know if life is imitating art or the other way around, but these cultural blast offs have coincided with some real-life space news. In December, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic test shuttle crashed, and although this was a terrible occurrence, it reminded us that "off Earth" travel is back in the news. Happier was the successful launch of Orion, NASA’S first genuine attempt to test the viability of putting a man on Mars.

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One need not have the brains of Stephen Hawking to see that space is back, but the interesting question is "why"? Could it be that after gazing inwardly at micro-technology for so long, we are bored with techno gadgets, with even the latest iPhone failing to excite in the way it once did? Or perhaps it is a fear for the future of our own little planet that is subconsciously sparking an interest in "other options".  More probably, it is just another, passing fad (and Earthlings do love fads) that will soon get swallowed up in the black hole of contemporary culture, to be replaced (and then forgotten) until the next time space is "hot".

Still, as long as it lasts, this interest in space will be sure to impact fashion, and the silvery frocks at the recent Golden Globes are a hint of what’s to come.

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Amanda Hallay is a full-time faculty member at LIM College and formerly the International Fashion Editor for Couture and Men Mode magazines, and the European Trend Analyst for The Doneger Group.  She hopes to never travel to Outer Space.

Topics: amanda hallay, space revival

SUNRISE AT CAMPOBELLO - ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE NOVA SCOTIA

Posted on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 09:30 AM

By: Fred Steinberg

Unless you are a historian or a dedicated fan of Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd President, you probably have never heard of Campobello Island. This Canadian island lies in the Bay of Fundy, just across a small bridge from the northeast corner of Maine. A summer home for the Roosevelt family starting in 1885, it’s where Franklin spent most summers until being struck with polio at the age of 29 in 1921. Franklin enjoyed hiking, swimming and picnicking with his family on the island and it was there he learned to sail and acquired his love of the water. Campobello, which Franklin always referred to as his “beloved island,” is known to most because of the play and movie, “Sunrise at Campobello,” which celebrated the story of Franklin’s adjusting to living with his polio disability and re-entry into politics.

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But the prime reason over 100,000 visitors come to the park each summer is that it’s home to Roosevelt Campobello International Park, the only U.S. National Park located in a foreign country. The 3,000 acre Park, open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, contains a Visitors Center, Museum, hiking trails, formal gardens and four restored “cottages,” formerly built by wealthy Roosevelt neighbors. Guided tours are available.

But the highlight for most visitors is  Roosevelt “cottage,” the centerpiece of the park. Purchased by Franklin’s mother in 1909 and later gifted to Franklin and his wife Eleanor, the 34-room, beautifully restored “cottage” is designed in early American colonial style and is furnished as it was in 1920, the year before Franklin was stricken with polio. The cottage had no electricity or telephone. Light was provided by kerosene lamps, heat by seven fireplaces and drinking water brought in by cart from a well on the island. The cottage is now filled with family art, photos and a wide collection of memorabilia. Guides stationed throughout the home offer information, descriptions of the historic furnishing and answer visitor’s questions.

Of the four additional restored “cottages” in the park, one, The Fireside, is a full service restaurant serving lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The Hubbard and Wells-Shober cottages host the very popular “Tea with Eleanor” program which features hostesses who serve tea and cookies and talk about Eleanor’s years of social activism. Eleanor regularly held afternoon teas for neighbors and visitors and they became a beloved tradition at Campobello.

Campobello Island is easily accessible via a free bridge from Lubec, Maine. The three by five mile island is an outdoorsmen’s paradise with miles of hiking and biking trails, camping facilities, excellent birding and water activities including, sailing, kayaking, whale watching and fishing. There are three automobile “carriage” roads which traverse the island and pass bold cliffs, woodlands, bogs and stunning seascapes. Six observation decks are located at particularly scenic sites throughout the island. There are a number of small motels, guest houses and restaurants, but few man-made sites other than the well maintained Mulholland Point and East Quoddy Light Houses, the latter of which is located at the Northeastern tip of the island. Go to the Quoddy Light House at sunrise and you will be among the first in the U.S. to witness the dawn. And on a clear day you can see forever – well Nova Scotia anyway.

Topics: traveling, faculty blog, Professor Steinberg

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