Much Ado About Everything

Right now I am eating banana cake. When you are reading this, that will probably not be true.

My name's Jamie Loftus and I like writing stories, finding new music, and high fiving my friends. Running on words, music, height, and massive amounts of diet cola since August 1992. It's all about the original content, yo.
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Written for WECB News

In the city, safety’s always going to be an issue— Emerson’s unique in that it lies in the midst of a sea of madness known as citizens of Boston, and this environment has proved to be surprisingly hostile in recent weeks. On February 15th, a man was stabbed at downtown pizza standby New York Pizza, a location many students count on to get their weekends started, causing much alarm among students and faculty alike on how, exactly, we can protect ourselves. Of course, most authorities will tell us, “Don’t walk in the Commons/outside/do anything outside of your place of residence at night”, but this warning will fall on deaf ears for the most part, and with good reason. So, for you kids that want to party but would rather not get shanked, here’s a rundown on things you can do to avoid death (thought by many as the ul…timate party foul).


  1. Stick with a group; wanderers are always more vulnerable in both appearance and reality, especially under, ahem, certain conditions.

  2. Despite their arguable fashion value, debilitatingly high heels for the ladies is never the best choice, especially in the dead of a winter’s night. Not only does it look extremely uncomfortable for both you and those having to watch you totter around, but it also makes it difficult to get away from any unwanted company.

  3. Know when and how you’re getting home when you leave for the night; that way, no matter what how silly the plans end up getting, you have a surefire way of not being left out in the cold.

  4. Make sure you’re not letting your wallet out of our purse, bag, or pocket if you’ve decided to troop the streets; anything valuable in plain sight isn’t going to do you any favors.

  5. Always have your phone charged and ready with the right numbers pre-saved— not only 911 but the campus police and emergency contacts, the whole nine yards.

  6. In the unfortunate event that you are confronted or mugged, the best policy is to only carry the bare essentials. Some cash, ID, keys, a phone, and some lip gloss (if you’re a makeup-waring lady or a very sassy man) will do in most cases— enough money to cover a cab or train fare is smart, but refrain from packing your life’s savings and entire DVD collection if you can help it.

  7. If you want to get out of a party fast, have an established system with a friend that’ll get both of you out of there swiftly. My personal favorite is to have a roommate or friend feign forgetting a homework assignment, feel sick, etc. and oh dear! They seem to have forgotten their keys, and it’s your duty as number one friend in the universe to usher them to safety. Foolproof.

  8. Have a plan B in case one venue doesn’t pan out; not only does wandering the streets looking for a party look desperate and a little skeevy, it’s also not the safest way to roll.

  9. In case you and your group get separated and someone’s phone dies after too many Facebook page refreshes, have a default place to meet up in case things go awry. These days, that place would preferably not be New York Pizza.

  10. Don’t walk through the Commons at night! Don’t leave your dorms after nightfall! …just kidding.

Written for WECB News


Transfer Housing


Since the beginning of the spring 2011 semester, transfer students coming into Emerson are finding it easier than ever to make the adjustment with newly available housing. In previous years, transfers are put on the back burner regardless of year in terms of on-campus housing, but the Fall 2010 addition of the Paramount Center on Washington Street has opened a bevy of opportunities for newer students to adjust without a nasty commute.

I like that you’re required to live on campus for the first three years,” says freshman transfer Rachel Gordon, who began her second semester in college at Emerson a few short weeks ago. “It seems like a lot of people don’t like the idea of living here their junior or senior years, but the housing here is great and I like the idea of being on campus rather than commuting.”  She was initially drawn to the school due to its communication disorders program, a major which is often overlooked in Emerson’s current boom of theater, journalism, and film majors, but most directly relates to the school’s communication roots.

In light of the newly implemented housing policy, which according to emerson.edu requires that students being admitted following Fall of 2009 remain in on-campus housing for six semesters unless they enter a lottery dictating otherwise, the Paramount has made a big effect on who gets to remain closer to downtown, as well as the amount of say they have in it. Gordon goes on to say that she was not given a choice in where she’d be living as a freshman, making it a requirement to live on-campus as a freshman transfer. Katie Marchese, a junior transfer, surprisingly was put in the same position. Since her arrival this January, Katie has already used her status as an on-campus student to her advantage, joining film groups such as Women in Motion and the National Broadcasting Society.

The Paramount, which houses 260 students in addition to the Little Building, Colonial, and Piano Row residencies, is making some big changes and its reach is felt not only by our freshmen and sophomores. Due to additional space available, the housing department isn’t about to lose revenue, even if it means changing the rules.

The pro of the matter is that a transfer is more readily available to meet other students and interact on-campus through classes and organizations, but the financial requirement of remaining on-campus is no small feat. Collegeboard.com states the current estimation for living on-campus in currently $12,881 a semester and has been rising year by year, a burden that can make or break a prospective student’s decision to attend here. Transferring to a different college is no small undertaking in social, academic, or financial terms, and time will only tell if the idea of keeping transfer student on-campus preferentially will work to the strength of detriment of our school.


Written for WECB News Editorials, Feburary 2011

The Cupcake Criterion

It is a simple, bold, and fat-saturated premise: who has the best cupcakes in Boston? There are more places vying for the title than you’d think; from the Back Bay to Cambridge, a crop of new bakeries devoted specifically to this artistry, offering the more established bakeries some healthy competition. I decided to tackle this pressing issue with the following criterion:

Taste

Price

Location

Atmosphere

My study didn’t yield any clear winner, but it did show that there’s an incredible amount of choices to get your sugary fix. Enjoy!

Sweet: A Luxury Cupcake Shop with Newbury St. and Harvard Square locations

Taste: Admittedly heavenly. The frosting’s always my favorite, but it would have been sheer waste to forsake the cake here, as well. Delicious from beginning to end.

Price: As far as expensive desserts go, prices are generally around three to four dollars, which isn’t too terrible. Granted, it would buy you a dozen at Shaw’s, but you’re getting what you pay for here. If you’re in the mood for a quick sugar fix, I highly recommend their frosting shot for a fraction of the price!

Location: Both shops are appropriately located in swanky locations (both on Newbury Street and in Harvard Square), and blend in perfectly with their high-class surroundings. These are the cupcakes of the elite, people.

Atmosphere: Admittedly cramped in both locations, but it’s a nice place to eat if you can manage to snag a table. All the staff is extremely friendly and more excited about cupcakes than anyone should be, but that’s definitely a good thing here.

Kickass Cupcakes in Somerville

Taste: Very different from the swanky Sweet style, but Kickass offers such a variety in flavor and, in some cases, entirely gluten and trans-fat free cupcakes that one can’t deny the draw. Cupcakes are named after coffee drinks, alcoholic beverages, and more (by the way, the Mojito cupcake comes highly recommended).

Price: Solid, as far as an upscale dessert shop goes. Regular cupcakes vend at three dollars, and if you’re in the mood for more, an XL cupcake will only set you back an additional dollar.

Location: For Emerson students it’s a little out of the way, being closest to the Porter Square stop on the Red line, but it’s worth the trek.

Atmosphere: Kickass. The store itself looks amazing, the cupcakes themselves are almost as aesthetically pleasing as they are to eat, and the whole place is full to the brim with friendliness— no stiff, businesslike attitudes here.

South End Buttery in the South End

Taste: These cupcakes even taste fancy. South End Buttery has won a Boston’s best award for their cupcakes specifically (not to mention their coffee); the styles and selections the cupcakes come in aren’t too wild, not straying beyond red velvet, but the taste is perfection.

Price: The best prices we’ve found thus far! Like Kickass, a standard cupcake here runs at three dollars, with a two dollar option for a mini-cupcake, as well.

Location: Situated within walking distance of Emerson, the South End Buttery appears both in a friendly, familiar neighborhood as well as a comfortable one.

Atmosphere: A little swankier, but nothing you can’t handle. Expect to see a sophisticate or two sipping wine with a fellow sophisticate, but it’s worth it for the quality of cupcake you’re getting.

Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe in the North End

Taste: When any shop has something Nutella-flavored, you know they’re on to something. The savoring here is one hundred percent frosting and concepts, and Lulu has about twelve flavors to offer in addition to a myriad of other treats.

Price: $2.75 each, marginally less than competitiors.

Location: The North End, world of general deliciousness.

Atmosphere: Comfy and cute, much like their confections; I’d have no problem sticking around for a second cupcake, and the staff is both friendly and enthusiastic.

Isabelle’s Curly Cakes on Charles Street

Taste: The ultimate, gooey, gourmet cupcakes you’ve been waiting for. I tried the chocolate and peanut butter flavor, and was in a taste-induced stupor for a good hour afterwards.

Price: ranges from $3.95-$4.50, but any given flavor is sure to fill you right up.

Location: Only half a mile from campus, this shop if right off of Beacon Street and very accessible.

Atmosphere: Very comfortable, but not so comfortable that you forget how fancy their product is. It’s not set up like a typical mom-and-pop bakery, but with an owner like famous chef Todd English, how could it be?

Published on emerson.edu in February 2013

By Jamie Loftus ‘14

The Emerson student radio station, WERS-FM, has joined forces with a group of high school girls from a local group of Boston-area to create “GRLZ Radio,” a one-hour news and entertainment program to launch on sister station ETIN (Emerson Talk and Information Network) this April.

WERS operations manager Howard Simpson ‘94 has worked with the girls since November developing the program encouraging broadcast media responsibility and experience as well as experience in a college setting, and is thrilled to see the project so close to completion.

“They just so happened to end up on the radar of some people at the college,” Simpson said, “and we said that there could be some interesting collaboration there.”

Originally conceived as a high school internship program, Simpson instead decided to create “GRLZ Radio” as a new ETIN show developed with WERS and the Boston high school students, allowing them to comment on current events and give the girls an opportunity to learn about broadcast media. “GRLZ Radio” existed previously at the Saint Mary’s center in Dorchester with some professional broadcasting equipment, but the Emerson equipment has been a new opportunity for the girls to learn even more about technical skills.

Aside from the important broadcast skills the girls have gotten from Simpson and WERS’s ongoing mentoring, part of “GRLZ Radio” is motivating those involved to go to college, and to get an opportunity to interact with “If we elaborate, expand, figure out a way to take what they already knew about radio, about Emerson College, thoughts about going to college, then it’s a huge win-win for everyone,” Simpson said. 

Though the young women already had some experience in radio personality development, Simpson is training them to be equally comfortable with basic radio consoles—from the operational board to microphone and broadcast transmitter functions.

“They had a lot of theory in radio, not so much in hands on experience,” said Simpson.

After three months of workshops with the young women, they have learned how to interact with the professional media equipment in ETIN’s studio, and are well on their way to being fluent in what it takes to run a radio program.

As the girls continue to learn how to present the news and pick up new broadcasting skills, Simpson is hopeful for a quality final product.

“I want them to be exposed to the journalism aspect of the station, and the power of that,” he said. “The final product will be a quirky, entertaining, and enlightening mix of news with a positive spin.”

“GRLZ Radio” is currently in its final stages of development, and will premiere on ETIN sometime in April.

Published on emerson.edu in April 2011

Maria Menounos is five feet and eight inches of sheer dynamic energy in a sea of obligations and plans, and has finally decided to impart her secrets on how to juggle it all in her first book, The Everygirl’s Guide to Life. In the book, the ’00 alumna and longtime host of Entertainment Tonight, as well as little-known professional filmmaker reveals everything from the best advice her parents ever gave her to what she calls ‘the most relaxing drink ever’, hot water. She stopped by the Emerson College campus last Friday to do a book signing in the school’s bookstore, and was kind enough to chat with us about life, her time at Emerson, and her mystical memory powers.

Emerson.edu: There are a lot of books out there with advice geared for females; what makes your book stand out from the norm?

Maria:          Well, I haven’t seen any of the ones that are out there right now because I’ve been so busy working on this one. (laughs) I think the key to this one is that I am the Everygirl— I’ve gone through all the same struggles that everyone else goes through. I didn’t have the
foundation that you would expect or need to succeed in this business. 

My parents were immigrants to this country and they taught me so much, but they didn’t know how to deal with all of these career moves and how to handle all that, and they weren’t educated so they didn’t know how to organize and deal with all of that. I was struggling along the way trying to keep it all together, and I tapped so many wonderful women and men to ask them “How do you do it? How do you keep it all straight? How do you get it done without getting sick and falling over from exhaustion?” So after all these years of kind of bumping my head along the way to get it right and somehow still surviving and thriving in the business I feel like I’m at a good point.

Now a lot of women ask me for advice— “How did you lose the weight? How do you keep it
together? How do you juggle it all?” and I think I’m at the point where I thought, you know what? I’m gonna put this all in a book and store all this information. I love sharing it, I could go to these
book signings and chat with people all day but now I can just say, “Oh! That’s in Chapter five, don’t worry, it’s all there!” Before then I’d be sitting down and saying “Okay, so you’re gonna get this foundation, these cables, organize this with this”, and now I just tell them to get the book because it’s all in there.

Emerson.edu: What would you say is the most important piece of advice you give in the book?

Maria:          It changes all the time, because there’s so much advice to give that’s important. My parents didn’t just give me one piece of advice that stuck with me, but my dad always told me, “If you work hard, you’ll always have a job,”  and he said that you can do anything you put your mind to. There is so much in there that has helped me and I have a whole section of the book called “Mottos” that are all there. I don’t think it’s just one thing that defines who I am or the best advice I’ve ever gotten because I’ve gotten a lot.

Emerson.edu:  How has your Greek-American heritage stuck with you throughout the years?

Maria:          I don’t know if I’ve ever really had to think about it other than just being really proud of my heritage and including it everywhere I can. Even when I wrestled in the WWE, I had this big Greek flag on my chest so my family back home could be proud! When the match aired, my parents had all my aunts and uncles visiting from Canada and we built them this huge screening room. So when I came on the screen my whole family saw this big Greek flag, and they were pumped. They were like, “Maria, we didn’t even know!”

Emerson.edu: We read you used to work at Dunkin’ Donuts. What did that teach you about hard work and dealing with people?

Maria:          I actually used to work at the Dunkin’ Donuts right downstairs. I worked at so many. It’s funny, because growing up we were janitors in nightclubs, so when we worked it was just us as a family, and there was no one else around. It was a transition because when I was thirteen I started working at Dunkin’ Donuts, and I worked there til’ I was nineteen, and I had a million jobs going on in between.

Dunkin’s was fun because I definitely learned a lot about working with people and seeing the positives and negatives. I had a photographic memory, and the way the store was set up I would look out and see the cars pull in. So I’d memorize the license plate numbers without trying and I’d remember their orders, and when my customers would come in I would have their order ready on the counter and they would be so excited because they get to work on time or early because
of it. I made more money in tips in a week than I did in my paycheck!

I instantly learned the rewards of being prepared and going the extra mile for people and so now when I go to Dunkin’s and people are hiding in the back I actually give them lectures. I say, “When I worked here, I went the extra mile and I cared and it paid off! If you do too, things will come to you!” And they give me these looks. (laughs) A couple years after I started doing Entertainment Tonight I ran into one of my regulars and was like, “Oh my god! Cream, no sugar!” and he almost passed out! I’m not Marilu Henner, but I do have a little gift in there.

Emerson.edu: During your time at Emerson, were there any professors that really mentored you and their advice stuck with you through the years?

Maria:          Absolutely. Doc Bashir was so instrumental to me in my first year in school in the fast program, and thank God for that program or I would never have been at Emerson. Pete Chvany more than anyone else, because Pete got me involved in Emerson Independent Video and was always so encouraging. I was such a nerd…well, not a nerd, just very professional. I’d go to Filene’s Basement and get one of those little suits and come in to do EIV and would play the role as a newscaster.

He’d tell me I was the only one that went the extra mile and took it seriously and said it would pay off for me someday. And then freshman year, lo and behold, I won the EVVY for best newscaster along with another person, we tied, and so I was the first freshman to ever get
it. I think the good thing that I did was always recognize the things that helped me achieve everything, so I kept sticking for those recipes for success along the way.

Emerson.edu:   You’ve worked in journalism, film, and now you’re an author. Is there any kind of creative endeavor you haven’t tried out that you’d want to?

Maria:          I don’t know, we’ve done so much. On my last film, I actually got to shoot a little which was amazing, so shooting and directing more would be fun. Picking up the camera was amazing.

The Everygirl’s Guide to Life is now available in bookstores everywhere.

Published on emerson.edu in March 2013

By Jamie Loftus ‘14

The Emerson College American Sign Language Club held their annual “Silent Dinner” this past Thursday night, an hour-long event encouraging those who are fluent in ASL and otherwise to communicate without using words for the duration of the meal. Attendees, some members of the ASL Club and others curious onlookers, enjoyed a delicious meal and the keynote speech given by Sara Blazik ‘09, the founder of the club prior to her graduation, deaf woman, and current instructor and blogger at Columbia in New York City.

“I’m excited to see so many people still interested in the club,” she said, looking around at the full room. “Before I graduated back in 2009 I started this club to give people a chance to learn about ASL, even if they weren’t taking a class in it.” She went on the explain the process of getting her degree at Emerson while using a translator in class, and how this is the norm for her and never a bother. Blazic’s initial motivation for starting the American Sign Language Club was to provide an outlet for those who did speak, as well as a source for Emerson students who were curious about the language. 

“There was no place for students to use ASL outside the classroom,” she said, using a translator to speak with dinner attendees who did not speak American Sign Language.

After graduating from Emerson with a writing, literature, and publishing degree and beginning work on her MFA at Columbia, Blazic continues to examine deaf culture through her blog Redeafined, a place where she shares information on deaf education, media attention, rights, and her own personal experiences to form a clearer picture of what it means to be deaf in today’s world. “I think there’s a lot of wrong information out there about people that are deaf,” she said of society today, “that something is wrong or missing…Writing is a powerful thing, and if you keep writing, people will listen.” 

Blazic touched on the classes she currently teaches at Columbia in undergraduate writing, joking that her students are always asking her how to sign certain words and are interested in her method of teaching via translator.

Following the talk, the room went silent again, but certainly not devoid of energy. American Sign Language speakers chatted happily throughout the meal as they enjoyed the food provided, and non-speakers were given an opportunity to learn their first several words in the language thanks to helpful signs posted around the room — “pizza”, “cheese”, “napkin”, amongst others. This year’s Silent Dinner gave attendees a peek into the past of Emerson’s American Sign Language Club, and a refreshed enthusiasm for its future. 

For more information on Sara Blazic’s current work, check out her blog “Redeafined” over at http://www.redeafined.com/.

Published on emerson.edu in March 2013

By Jamie Loftus ‘14

The annual Go Green report has been released for Emerson College for the 2012 fiscal year, reflecting a good deal of positive change in the sustainability of both facilities and day-to-day student life. 

The Go Green report’s purpose is to examine the amount of emissions produced by the college in comparison to past years in addition to other universities with similar populations and city settings. 

Jay Phillips, the Associate Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services, had a hand in compiling the report, and said he is extremely pleased with the progress Emerson made in the 2012 fiscal year in maintaining and improving the control of emissions.

According to the report, emissions per student at Emerson are about forty percent lower than that of comparable universities in the 2012 fiscal year.

“It’s amazing because the report makes it look as if the Paramount Center never happened,” said Phillips, in reference to the student dorm and three-theater unit opened in the fall of 2010.

The Go Green report also examined carbon emissions, such as when students and faculty commute via car or train. Emerson cut down emission by twenty-five percent since 2007 through consistent use of public transit. Commuters tend to travel less than half the distance of peers to campus, and only seven percent of students and faculty drive alone to work, as opposed to fifty-three percent at other universities).

The 2012 fiscal year is well on the way to the net emissions goal Phillips has set for 2020 with about forty percent in cuts remaining, and he is very optimistic about the coming years. 

“We are installing solar panels on the roof of the new Los Angeles Center because of more exposure to sunlight and more space,” he said. 

Emerson’s main area of focus, in the meantime, should be cutting down on waste, making use of the school’s recycling, and being aware of lights left on or heat left turned up. 

“If you’re too hot or cold in a dorm, let a facility manager know instead of opening the window,” Phillips said. “It doesn’t take long to do, and it makes all the difference.”