Wednesday, June 25, 2008

'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen': Day 3

Megan Fox and Shia LeBeouf (Nikon 300mm f/2.8)

Today was the final day of shooting at Princeton with most of McCosh Courtyard blocked off. We've got a pretty skilled photographer on our hands -- here's a shot of Megan Fox on a motorcycle kissing Shia LaBeouf while Director Michael Bay watches. They both play lead roles in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and their romance (obviously) plays out in the film.

--Tasnim Shamma '11


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen': Day 2

A robot! (Nikon 300mm f/2.8)

Isabel Lucas, Ramon Rodriguez and Megan Fox chat and relax before their next scene.

Today was the second day of filming "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" at Princeton. The above photos submitted to The Daily Princetonian include one of an actual robot on a car used in a scene and the other is in front of Firestone Library, where they chose to shoot again. The black shirt Transformers 2 crew members are ubiquitous and they have staked out more of campus today.
As word spread of Shia LaBeouf (there were literally screaming girls this time) and Megan Fox's presence at Princeton, more of the townspeople made it out to places on campus where they were shooting, which included the Frick Chemistry lab, a McCosh lecture hall and the Cloister Inn eating club (puzzling why they chose Cloister since it's pretty far down, but that may be exactly why they chose it: to avoid some of the crowds). Throughout most of the afternoon and evening nearly all of the grassy area in front of Dillon Gym was sectioned off (with the largest crowd gathering that I've seen at Princeton all summer).

The crew seems to be making a lot of progress as it constantly shifts locations, and the tents set up by Whig and Clio are stocked with food ready to feed the hungry crew members. They seemed to have moved the equipment (including several fake heads) from East Pyne today.
The weirdest thing about all of this is watching actors pretend to be us (Princeton students).

--Tasnim Shamma '11


Monday, June 23, 2008

'Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen' Crashes (Literally) at Princeton

Actor Shia LeBouf reviews footage with Director Michael Bay (Nikon 300mm f/2.8)

Paramount Pictures arrived on Sunday night with about 15 large trucks full of cars and equipment on University Place to film "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen", the sequel to the first "Transformers" action movie.

This morning, Paramount Pictures blocked off McCosh Courtyard as "Princeton Students" moved into their dorms (which they pretended was the Chapel?) carrying crates. Washington Road was also blocked off with police cars to film a car chase, as spectators watched on the sidelines. Most of the morning and afternoon consisted of several nice sports cars, including a dark blue Cadillac Escalade, driving in reverse and speeding down Washington Road.

A small robotic car drove around following some of the cars. It will probably be animated as it was bare bones and you could see the wiring on it. In addition, several large cranes and lifts graced the set and you could constantly hear "Ready, Set, Action" every couple of minutes. In one scene, repeated about four times, a car swerved and hit a student, causing him to fly off to the sidewalk.

This evening, the crew blocked off the back of the University Chapel and Firestone so that they could shoot a few less action-packed scenes. Lines of girls and boys pressed themselves against the barricades hoping to hear what the actors were saying. Many of the girls were swooning over Shia LeBouf and one remarked that she would readily get arrested in order to get close to him and would happily share a jail cell with him.

At one point you could hear LeBouf shouting, "You didn't touch this [or her] did you?!" several times as they reshot the scene. So that's certainly a line that will probably lead to some sort of confrontation in the movie.

The reason for filming on Princeton's campus is, according to one spectator, supposed to give the look and feel that the star, LeBeouf, goes to an "unnamed Ivy League university". Rainn Wilson, rumour has it, plays his professor in the movie.

Unfortunately, I can't confirm some of the details because I was not allowed to interview crew members. I may be able to grab an interview with the producer tomorrow, but under the condition that I don't spill any details until next May.

The Transformers 2 Crew is here for a total of three days, according to an e-mail sent to Princeton staff members. And yes, the stars are all here.

Megan Fox was sitting pretty in denim in a director chair with another woman holding a black umbrella over her head. She was leaning on Green Hall as spectators mused on how they could get closer to her. She was also spotted resting on the Chapel steps and in one scene, getting out of a cab with luggage by Firestone. Shia LaBeouf was walking around the set drinking coke when not driving any of the cars, acting or having makeup put on him.

The film is set to release next summer.

--Tasnim Shamma '11


Transformers 2 is at Princeton U!

From what I've gathered, there is going to be/has been filming for Transformers 2 on Princeton campus! Can anyone fill us in on details about filming? Has anyone seen any camera crews around?

Apparently, Shia LeBeouf's character Sam attends Princeton University in the movie. His roommate, "Chuck," is the second lead.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Notes from Senator Clinton's Farewell

The National Building Museum in Washington D.C. was crowded yesterday as throngs of Hillary Clinton supporters listened to her concession speech. The audience - 3/4 women, a few African-Americans, all ages - waited patiently for nearly three hours before Clinton arrived.

Talking to fellow Hillary supporters in the meantime, revealed that there was still some frustration and concern amongst her constituency. A group of women close to Senator Clinton's age expressed their anger that the entire election reflects America's tolerance of subtle misogyny. A few college students told me that they were worried that many Hillary supporters may now defect to McCain.

Despite the finality of the occasion, the members of the campaign appeared to be in as good of spirits as could be expected. Terry McAuliffe worked the crowd, standing for pictures, while other staffers rocked to "Who says you can't go home?" three times.

The place went crazy when Clinton finally arrived. Her speech - as predicted - asked her supporters to throw their weight behind Barack Obama, emphasizing the similarities of his goals with hers. Despite her urging "we must elect Barack Obama for our president" several times, when she said"I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me," some audience members yelled an emphatic "No!"

Equally expected was Clinton's "first" theme. She applauded her supporters for making it possible for women to be considered presidential candidates. "I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us," she said. She finally closed by encouraging all of us to look forward, not back.

While the tenor of Clinton's speech was mostly positive and inspiring, the entire tragedy of her candidacy was summed up towards the end of her speech:

"You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories, unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the President of the United States. And that is truly remarkable."
Indeed, Clinton's candidacy is still seen as the candidacy of a woman; the most bitter Clinton supporters are those who feel that she was victimized. Until the day comes when "woman" is not the first thing that comes to mind when a female runs for office, there can always be more done to advance gender equality in this country. However, it's too soon to tell if Clinton's campaign took us a step closer towards this goal or a step back.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Class Day Photos

Stephen Colbert h'08, President Tilghman and Class of 2008 president Tom Haine enter Cannon Green.
The senior class takes photos as Stephen Colbert approaches the dais.

Tilghman and Colbert share a joke before the ceremonies begin.

One member of the Class of 2008 brought a mounted bear's head to Class Day and stood up to show it to the crowd and Colbert. Colbert has a well-publicized and ongoing feud with bears.

Tilghman presents the key to the school to the Class of '08.

At the end of Haine's Class Day address, he presented Colbert with the Class of 2008 Understandable Vanity Award, featuring a mirror.

Katie Lewis-Lamonica '08, being presented with the Allen Macy Dulles '51 Award.

Anna Almore '08 and Sian OFaolain '08, being presented with the Frederick Douglass Award.

Grant Gittlin '08, being presented with the W. Sanderson Detwiler 1903 Prize.

Rob Biederman '08 being presented with the Class of 1901 Medal.

Mark Bur '08 delivering his address to the graduating class. Bur reflected on the Senior Checkout Fair.

Joshua Loehrer '08 and Jessica Gheiler '08, being presented with the Priscilla Glickman '92 Memorial Prize.

Chelsea Carter '08, delivering her address to the graduating class. Carter reminisced on the advice she received as a freshman that she could study, party or sleep and could only choose two.

Eight student-athletes were honored, including Meagan Cowher '08, Diana Matheson '08, Landis Stankievech '08, Mike Moore '08, David Nightingale '08, Ted Gudmundsen '08, Mike Honigberg '08 and Katie Lewis-Lamonica '08.

Six people were named honorary members of the Class of 2008, including Stephen Colbert, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students Rachel Baldwin, Shelby Davis '58, Christopher Gorzelnik, Dining Services Director Stuart Orefice and history department Undergraduate Administrator Etta Recke.

Stephen Colbert delivered the keynote address in which he at once delivered inspirational wisdom and admonished the Class of 2008 not to change anything about the world. He also warned Princetonians that the "totalitarian salute" during the singing of Old Nassau would not be acceptable in the real world. Additionally, Colbert mocked the beer jackets the seniors sported during the festivities.

Colbert was later given an honorary diploma and beer jacket to make him a member of the graduating class. He quickly retracted his remarks about the jackets and proceeded to compliment them.

Photos by Zach Ruchman

More photos can be viewed at


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Senior Step Sing

Photos by Daniel Hayes-Patterson

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Farmer delivers Class of 2008 Baccalaureate address

Physician and medical anthropologist Paul Farmer exhorted the members of the Class of 2008 to "make hope and history rhyme" as he delivered the Baccalaureate address this afternoon.

Farmer took the phrase from a poem by Seamus Heaney, who he incorrectly identified as the 2006 baccalaureate speaker, and used it to lead into a description of his vision of a utopian future that he hoped this year's graduating class would help create. Heaney was actually an honorary degree recipient at the University's commencement ceremony in 2006.

He laid out his ideal view of the world in 2028, the year the current senior class will celebrate its 20th reunion.

According to Farmer's vision, while some facets of life will have not changed — Princeton will still be first on the U.S. News and World Report rankings, for example — others will be radically different. Among the many projections on Farmer's list: The Congo will be peaceful, previously endangered animals will return to their native habitats and torture and unequal criminal justice systems will disappear. Specifically regarding the United States, Farmer projected that New Orleans will be "a thriving metropolis with nary a FEMA trailer in sight," that the war in Iraq would be long over and that universal healthcare will be implemented by 2010.

Farmer also made some whimsical predictions, such as President Tilghman's completion of the Boston Marathon in 2024, "wearing bizarre orange spandex [and] becoming the first Ivy League president to do so in less than three hours."

All-in-all, Farmer made more than 50 separate projections about what he believed would happen by 2028 and then requested that any physicians listening "not pull out prescription pads to offer me anti-psychotic medications" because concrete developments can result from big dreams. "Is it crazy for the Class of 2008 to wish for something better than what has gone before?" Farmer asked.

"For hope and history to rhyme," he added, "we need to build, or continue building, a social movement."

"This has to be a broad-based movement. Bankers and lawyers ... this is not about what we do. We all need to get on board," Farmer said.

This movement, he said, needs to incorporate elements of both social and environmental justice and that the graduating seniors should follow their dreams while also following a common dream of improving the world.

Tilghman introduced Farmer and described him as one of her personal heroes. "He is truly a force of nature and a force for good," she said.

Farmer is the founding director of Partners In Health (PIH), an organization that provides healthcare for those who are sick and living in poverty, and he is also on the faculty of the department of social medicine at Harvard Medical School. He received an honorary degree from Princeton in 2006 in recognition of his devotion to saving lives around the world. PIH currently operates in nine different countries, including the United States, Rwanda and Haiti.

The Baccalaureate ceremony, which is a tradition dating back 261 years, celebrates the graduating senior class and features both the main address and readings from a wide variety of religious traditions. Members of the senior class recited prayers and blessings from the Christian, Jewish, Sikh and Jain traditions and were joined by Mustafa Tuna GS, who recited the first chapter of the Quran.

Many of the religious readings chosen paralleled Farmer's speech by incorporating themes of social justice. Blake Sercye ’08 read a passage from the Book of James that extolled the listener to care for orphans and widows, and Associate Dean of Religious Life Deborah Blanks, who delivered the Benediction, said "may injustice trouble you, may service find you."

After the service, the senior class processed out of the University Chapel past the crowd of parents who watched the ceremony at the primary simulcast site immediately outside. The reaction to Farmer's speech was generally positive, but some seniors said they wished he had made his theme more concrete.

"I really enjoyed it. I really like how he painted a picture of the future," Eva Leung ’08 said.

Catherine Richardson ’08 said, however, that "for someone that had that much experience, I wanted to hear about how it applies to me or us as a class."

Photos by Daniel Hayes-Patterson

More photos can be viewed at


P-Rade Photos

Leading off the P-Rade are the head marshals, followed by Class of 2009 president Grant Bermann, carrying the University flag.

Next came President Tilghman, with Alumni Association president David Siegfried '64 to her right.

The oldest returning alumnus this year was Malcolm Warnock '25. As recently as 2001, he impressed crowds by walking the end of the P-Rade route.

An alumnus from the Class of 1934 takes in the P-Rade from his golf cart as onlookers from younger classes cheer.

Gordon Wu '58, who has donated more than $100 million to the University, marched in the P-Rade in celebration of his 50th reunion.

The 45th Reunion Class of 1963 went with an Elvis theme and carried record-shaped signs.

University Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee '69 marched with his class for his 39th reunion.

Beer can be found almost anywhere during Reunions, including in the hands of those driving along the P-Rade route.

University trustee Kim Ritrievi '80 heads down Elm Drive with her husband during the P-Rade.

A calliope plays traditional Princeton songs and other favorites as it makes its way past Dillon Gym.

Alumni really do have an unusual propensity for marrying each other, but they also love Princeton. Two newlyweds from the Class of 2003 delayed their honeymoon to attend Reunions.

Members of the graduating Class of 2008 waited several hours for their chance to march in the P-Rade ...

... but judging from the empty beer cans strewn along the P-Rade route, they found plenty of ways to pass the time.

Photos by Tatiana Lau '09

More photos can be viewed at


Behind the Scenes: Crew

No look behind the scenes of Reunions would be complete without the student crews.

Tony Comunale '11, who worked the 5th Reunion, estimated that he worked more than 14 hours a day during Reunions. "We set up tables, make sure the kegs are in order, hand out P-Rade costumes, make sure beverages and food are set up," he said.

"We take care of everything you can possibly imagine for a reunion to run," added Pinto Adhola '10, who worked the 25th Reunion last year. Adhola, for example, would walk the children of 25th alumni over to McCarter Theatre for the Triangle Show and get movies for them.

Every reunion is different. Each alumni class hires a crew, usually consisting of 15-20 students, for Tuesday through Sunday. The crew sets up, cleans up and does anything in between, from serving at the bar to taking meal tickets.

Typical hours might be 8 a.m.-2:30 a.m. during Reunions weekend. "The first two days weren't very hard, but once Thursday hit it was pretty tough," Comunale said.

The salaries of student crews have been the subject of wild rumors among Princeton students. When interviewed, several crew members estimated that they would make a total of about $1,200. Base salaries were reported to be about $10 an hour, but with a bonus determined by the student crew manager and alumni organizers of up to 100 percent of the salary.

Today marked the last day of work for crews, and most of them are probably sleeping in their rooms as I write this.

As a Dining Services worker, it's easy for me to covet the bonuses given to crews. But I don't covet their job. Most of them barely slept this week, never got to go out and are walking around like zombies in orange T-shirts.

For my last Reunions post, I want to say thank you to all the students and professionals who gave Princeton one big party.


Behind the Scenes: Dining Services II

Today I worked my last shift for Reunions - breakfast at the 5th. Not surprisingly, only a few alumni from the 5th with trains and planes to catch woke up for the 9-11 a.m. breakfast.

Carrying their luggage, they wandered in for bagels, pastries, milk, coffee and juice, freshly dressed but bleary-eyed.

I was a little bleary-eyed myself, having gone straight from partying to work at 7 a.m. I wasn't even wearing a clean outfit - I wore my only white blouse and black bottom to my shift yesterday.

Two men by the coffee lamented their "drunk sleep," which they described as totally not restful and unsatisfying.

The decaf dispenser was full when we packed up breakfast - everyone was going for the caffeine.

Princeton is gorgeous in the morning. A cool breeze blew through the tent, and I felt peaceful looking at stray cans in the soft morning light. It's almost a shame that I'm not awake at 7 a.m. more often.


Behind the Scenes: Trees

They cool our campus, reduce run-off, provide shady study spaces and make our daily environment beautiful, but few Princetonians ever think about the astonishing work that goes into maintaining Princeton's trees.

On Friday, alumni and current students gathered for the annual Tree Tour of Princeton, led by Grounds Manager Jim Consolloy and Philo Elmer '69.

"I grew up in Princeton ... This campus is like the back of my hand. I've seen the trees go up and down," said Elmer, who has a masters in environmental studies and taught ecology.

Denali Barron '09 represented Outdoor Action, which sponsored the tour.

"It's nice to learn about campus history amid the alumni who have shared so many experiences here," Greg Snyder '09 said.

Princeton's campus has a total of 5,280 trees. Each is inventoried and mapped. Among campus' 150 species of tree are Tulip Poplars, Maples, Ash, Red Oaks, White Oaks and Magnolias. An endowment from 1880 provides for campus plantings.

"We like to think of campus as a park," Consolloy said.

The work behind the scenes to maintain Princeton's trees became strikingly clear as the tour wound its way from Canon Green to Prospect Garden. The 50-foot trees implanted in Whitman College cost $18,000 each.

Aside from money, a great deal of labor is invested in the stately giants along the pathways and in the greens and courtyards. For example, staff removed 50 feet from the crown of the tree at the corner of Canon Green closest to the East Pyne arch. The trunk suffered a compression fracture from the sheer weight of its leafy crown.

"Some [trees] are better patients than others," Consolloy said.

A 10-acre nursery on the south side of Lake Carnegie produces trees for the campus, including Golden Larch for the new Butler Courtyard.

Soil compaction is the biggest challenge facing these trees. In addition, new campus construction that disturbs underground root systems can cause trees such as the one in front of Scheide Caldwell House to die back.

Reunions presents a special challenge. "Beer is not good tree food," Elmer said, laughing.


Reunions Nightlife

At the tail-end of reunions, the campus is still one big party. Well, really, a group of small parties, each providing its own challenges for gaining entry without a wristband.

A dash through the Little basement takes me to the Fifth Reunion, where the bands are playing songs from the '60s and '70s like "Sweet Caroline" and "Sweet Home Alabama," with interludes of more recent songs like "Crank Dat" and "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" played from recordings in between. I thought it was ironic that the Class of 2003 reunion featured songs from the '70s while the University hired a tamer, Caribbean-style band for the Class of 1983. I guess they figure that by their 25th reunion, people are too old for the music of their youth? Anyway, in 2036, I'm going to set up a stereo and blast the Soulja Boy song whether the University likes it or not, and learn the dance, too. (So far, as far as I've gotten toward that goal is learning the "Kosher Boy" dance from YouTube.)

The Fifth Reunion tent was most well-attended of the parties I went to, with a big contingent from the Class of 2006. Alumni were friendly (one guy complimented me on my orange socks), and there was pretty much beer everywhere, including cans lying on the ground. Most people looked like they were having fun, except for one or two people who looked like they might have gotten stood up by their friends and didn't know anyone. Or returned to college only to remember they never liked dance parties after all.

I dart through Laughlin to try to get to the 10th reunion, but a police officer is waiting for me on the other side. I don't notice him as I walk out the door, so he nabs me and tells me to get lost. I try disappearing back into Laughlin, but that doesn't work since he follows me and grabs me again. Ejected into the back of Blair, I run into Christian Harris '09, who tells me the party at Quad will be going on 'till 5:30 a.m. Something to check out.

The guard for the 40th Reunion lets me in without a wristband. The daughter of one of the alumni tells me that her dad's class is drunker than the '03s, which seems credible given the wine bottles on the table and the dancing styles of some of the class members. A few of the children are dancing with their parents, and there is an elementary school girl who is spinning in some pretty crazy circles with her dad. She's way cooler than I was at that age.

By the time I get to the Class of 1983 and its Caribbean band, most of the members of the 25th Reunion class have left the party. I chalk this up to middle-aged people's desire to get to bed, and do everything else, on time. This is a good thing, since it keeps the trains running, but it also makes for a sparse dance floor at 2 a.m. Fortunately, members of the Class of 2008 and other undergraduates on campus came to Whitman to fill the void.

With the University-sponsored parties over, a wave of alumni hit the Street, returning to their old clubs. Judging by what Harris told me, the party probably didn't end until 5:30, which was ... 10 minutes ago. Luckily, the sun officially didn't rise this morning until 5:31.



Photos by Jon Goh.

More photos can be viewed at


Fire in the Sky

Despite the soggy ground, a large crowd made its way down to Finney Field this evening to observe the Princeton University Orchestra concert and fireworks display. Listeners trickled in during the hour-long concert featuring medleys from "Les Miserables," "My Fair Lady" and "Star Wars." They also gave a reprise of selections from "The Marriage of Figaro," which the Department of Music staged earlier this year.

The audience differed greatly from those who typically attend orchestral concerts. There were many younger children running around, and after someone began distributing glowsticks, parts of the field began to resemble a rave than a orchestra when little hands frantically shook the plastic sticks.

A 25-minute firework display followed the concert, though the accompanying music made it feel more like a continuation of the program. The show used more than 3,000 aerial and ground shells to create the pyrotechnic designs. The music was selected to reference particular Princeton traditions and class reunions. "Jail House Rock" as performed by Elvis Presley was intended as a tribute to the classes of 1963 and 2003, who chose Elvis and Vegas themes, respectively. A ukulele version of "Over the Rainbow" similarly represented the Class of 1993's Hawaiian theme.

The program showcased the spectacular skill and wit of the organizers. When Presley sang "
The warden said, hey, buddy, don't you be no square," a square firework punctuated the sky. While fireworks excel at bombast, as was demonstrated during both the opening as well as the finale, which was set to the William Tell Overture, the display also showed deft handling of the softer songs. The Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of "Over the Rainbow" is a quiet song, and the accompanying fireworks, many of which appeared similar to waterfalls, accented the song instead of drowning it out.

The display was beautiful. From the oohs of the crowd, it seemed it agreed.