Category Archives: Blog

Ter Horst: This is for my mama

It was almost empty in the “dining hell” this morning. Those of us who had dared to enter made a close circle and sat together on this quiet day. I ate my food in silence. We foreign exchange students gloomily smiled at each other, sighed. My attempt to enlighten things by conversation did not go the way I hoped. “Hi, where are you from?” I asked with my most spontaneous voice, even a large fake smile on my face. For a moment the girl looked me into the eyes. “From my mother’s belly!” she cried out.

Even though the ancient Greeks already had an annual festival in March to honor Cybele, a great mother of the gods, and every ancient Roman mother received a gift on her annual Juno-dedication day, I am proud that the modern Mother’s Day celebrated in many different countries has derived from the U.S. I was impressed as well as I walked over an empty campus today. I assumed that everyone absent was spending quality time with mama, and of that I very approve.

When Germany had the lowest rate of birth in Europe in the 1920s, it introduced Mother’s Day as a means to get the women to bear more children. In Indonesia, entire surprise parties are thrown, or cooking contests between daughters are being held. In Sri Lanka, every day is Mothers day. And in the U.S., Mother’s Day generates almost 8 percent of the jewelry industry’s annual revenue.

I couldn’t surprise my mommy this morning with breakfast in bed (“What a surprise, you do this every year”). As a result of this sad fact, I probably spend more time appreciating her love than I have ever done on Mother’s Day. I even dedicated this blog to my sweet mama – but that’s also to make up for the lack of a real gift this year.

Doris ter Horst
Columnist Doris ter Horst can be reached at

Jacobo: ‘The Big Chill’: A film for the soon-to-be graduate

A couple of year ago, I picked up a cheap used record for a dollar. It was The Big Chill Soundtrack, and though I had never seen the movie, I bought the album simply because it featured excellent songs.

Most of songs featured on the soundtrack are Motown hits. Songs include Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” The Temptations’ “My Girl” and Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Many songs appear on the film that are not included, such as “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones

Since purchasing the album, I’d often been curious about the film. It seemed strange to listen to a soundtrack so many times despite never seeing the context in which the songs were placed.

Last night I happened to be perusing Comcast’s free On Demand movies and I stumbled across The Big Chill. I couldn’t have been more surprised, and, after watching it, I couldn’t have been more pleased.

The Big Chill (1983) revolves around a group of college friends (including Tom Berenger, Glenn Close and Jeff Goldblum) who reunite after one of their friends commits suicide. They fly in from around the country and greet each other at the funeral, where they are forced to try to reconcile their friend’s unexplained death.

They spend a weekend in the same house, and realize in many ways they’ve changed a lot from their college days. Their lofty aspirations and dreams of bettering the world have turned into normal, everyday jobs. But they aren’t really sad. They just say they’ve become realists. These Baby Boomers must confront their lost youth, forgotten goals and mediocre marriages and lives. Old emotions flare up, and it’s not always pretty.

Something about this film really struck a chord with me. Perhaps it’s because I’m in college now and it’s easy for me to imagine going away after graduation and leaving this life behind, friends drifting apart, and how odd it must be to be reunited with old friends once we’ve become adults and taken our place in the real world.

During the group’s conversations over wine in the living room, record are always spinning. They come in at a low volume, but if you listen closely you can hear them. The film features a little jam session where everyone dances in the kitchen to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” This is the music of their generation, of their youth; music that brings up old memories, the messy histories of our college years after they’ve been forgotten and left behind.

This is a great movie to watch with your college friends, especially if you’re a senior and graduation and is inching its way toward you. Before you say goodbye, watch this film and enjoy your time together.

I would recommend this movie for the music alone, but the film itself is quite a powerful statement of growing up, of what we leave behind in youth, about trying to reconcile our realities and our dreams to find happiness in the modern world.

Jordan Jacobo
Columnist Jordan Jacobo can be reached at

Video courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Jacobo: The Dum Dums Girls make re-imagined, reverb-bathed 60s pop and 70s punk

On the Dum Dum Girls’ MySpace page, the Los Angeles-based indie outfit categorize themselves in deadpan fashion as Melodramatic Popular Song. Certainly, it’s a bit more complex than that. Take in a wide range of influences: Iggy Pop (who notably wrote a song titled “Dum Dum Boys”), Patti Smith, Billy Holiday, The Ronettes, early-1960s pop. Give it a modern aloofness, a concern for self. Mix in a fascination with lo-fi music. That’s their sound. You can hear that wall of fuzzy warmth scratching throughout their songs, blending in with the vocals and making the steady kick of the drumming really stand out. It’s a unique set of influences for a modern band with such retro aspirations.

Dum Dum Girls is the brainchild of Dee Dee Penny, who originally started the group out as her solo project. She expanded the group to add Jules (on guitar), Bambi (bass) and Sandy Vu (drums) before signing with Sub Pop in 2009. The group’s first full-length LP, “I Will Be,” was released on March 30, 2010. They manage to stuff 11 songs into 28 minutes of music.

“I Will Be” starts off with a bang, and the Dum Dum Girls relentlessly stripped down sound doesn’t let off—sometimes they slow it down, but usually the songs are loud, fast and in your face, the vocals reverberating and full of static so sometimes you can’t hear what Dee Dee is singing, the guitar and bass blending into the wall of noise, the drumming lively, sure and steady, a heartbeat to give life to this sometimes schizophrenic sound.

They are four women dressed in black sucking on colorful Dum Dum suckers, playing an infusion of punk and pop, a mix of old and new, of archaic, simplistic pop given an edginess by its lack of fidelity and the resulting dissonance.

And then there’s that haunting album cover, like something dug out of a box of forgotten trinkets in hot attic or a dusty, forgotten closet. A woman dressed in red, hair down, freckles dotting her cheeks. Endlessly intriguing for what it doesn’t say, what’s left to be imagined. It’s a picture of Dee Dee’s mother, young and free, with that untelling look on her face, a lot like the girl from Vampire Weekend’s “Contra” album—though the two look strangely similar, the LPs they adorn couldn’t be more different.

Official website:
Check out: “Oh Mein Me,” track 3; “Blank Girl,” track 7; “I Will Be,” track 8

Dum Dum Girls are touring the West Coast this summer, playing at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland on June 25. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Jordan Jacobo
Columnist Jordan Jacobo can be reached at

Photo courtesy of Sub Pop

Ter Horst: ‘Alice in Wonderland’: imaginitive or drug-induced?

Imagine an anthropomorphic white rabbit leading you into his underground hole. As you fall down deep, you hit a door with a talking doorknob. Behind it lies a world where nothing is what it seems. The fact that everything you eat and drink will make you smaller or bigger is not helping either. The only creature that seems to be willing to help you is a talking cat, and on top of that, the Queen of Hearts decided it’s “off with your head!” All very adult issues at the least, I would say.

I had just popped my “Alice in Wonderland”-cherry in Ice Auditorium, and I was overwhelmed. This clumsy first time with young and modern Tim Burton had answered questions, but raised others that could only be answered by a new partner. And so I approached a much older and more experienced male.

Surely English author Lewis Caroll was poking fun at the moralistic novels so common in his time, when he published his novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in 1865. The tale’s play with logic and multiple wordplays made the story popular with adults as well as children. It encouraged readers to use their imagination and follow creative rational pathways. Where had Lewis Caroll picked up this wisdom? LSD had not been around yet during that time, but was the mushroom fed to Alice inspired by the immemorial magic mushroom? Doctors prescribed opium as a medicine easily at that time, but Caroll’s diaries do not mention any drug use once.

Apparently the writer of this fairytale passed away a little while ago, leaving my questions unanswered. As I moved on, wealth caught my eye and I started seeing mister Walt Disney (unfortunately, also dead). He produced his animated “Alice in Wonderland” movie in 1951. Was his “Alice”-movie intentionally about a drug trip then? It would not surprise me, as naughty Walt had educated his young fans about taboos before: In the Lion King the petals that ascend into the air as Simba lies down in the grass seem to spell the word “SEX”, and the old priest in “The Little Mermaid” has been pointing out to having an erection under his robe.

If the story is a reference to one drug trip after another, including a caterpillar smoking hookah while sitting on a mushroom with magic powers, I still do not know, but it is not what is important either. What made “Alice in Wonderland” – new and old – such a good movie is the lack of a real plot, so that the audience can truly focus on the fun that imagination and playing with language can cause.

Doris ter Horst
Columnist Doris ter Horst can be reached at

Photo courtesy of RCA
Video courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

ASLC Senate meeting – May 3, 2010