Food, Fear, and .. Zombies?

by Jenny, a Patriot Blogger

Since the beginning of October I’ve been itching to find a way to get into the Halloween spirit.  Research revealed a lunatic asylum in West Virginia that offers overnight ghost tours (Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum), an urban haunted zombie house in Maryland (The Warehouse: Project 4.1), and curse house in Maryland (Bennett’s Curse).  Given the cost of gas prices and pricey admissions, my friends and I decided on Fields of Fear, weekly event about 20 minutes away in Chantilly.  Harvest Festival by day and Halloween attraction by night, tickets include entry into a corn maze (sort of), haunted wagon ride, and torch-lit slide.  The event seemed more geared towards younger crowds, but the dark figures reaching out towards us during both the wagon ride and throughout the maze made it hard to contain a few yelps.  Pictured below is one of the scenes from the haunted hayride.

There were two points in the maze that I can not get over, the man with the chainsaw and the bunny suit.  When I heard the unmistakable drone of the chainsaw, a feeling of dread consumed me and after one look, I doubled back and barreled into my other two friends.  Relieved, I used them as human shields as I made my way to safety and a more steady heartbeat.  Soon after, I was wandering through an area that resembled an abandoned barn and out popped a man in a bunny suit, a concept that my mind wasn’t able to grasp. To convey my shock and disbelief I gestured to him with a mildly profane exclamatory remark and sent him into convulsions of laughter (a detail that was supplied later by my friend).  All in all it was a good time, made even better with funnel cake, apple cider, and apple butter.

That, my friend, is a fried oreo. This coma-inducing combination of melted oreo, crispy batter, and powdered sugar is something I’ve been meaning to try for ages.   The DC Foodfest last Sunday was of the best events I’ve attended in the DC/Virginia area.  More than 50 DC restaurants and food trucks lined Pennsylvania Avenue, with favorites such as Sprinkles, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Shake Shack, and Tara Thai.  I tried the Brixton’s fish and chips, Etete Ethiopian’s sambusa, hoisin duck Waffle sandwich from Wicked Waffle, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and marshmallow parfait from Co Co. Sala, Station 4’s pork belly, the half smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl, fried oreos, and finally a samosa from Mayur’s Kabob House.  Call me a glutton, but I have not smiled that much in a long time and to be fair I could not stomach anything else the rest of the day.

I also met some zombies, coincidentally from the The Warehouse: Project 4.1, one of the Halloween events I’ve been eyeing.


“Do You Think They’d Notice…?”

by Jenny, a Patriot Blogger

While I was snapping pictures of this gluttonous fellow at The National Zoo this summer, my friends were scheming on the side about whether the zoo guards would notice if they were one prairie dog short.  To my relief, they decided that the costs of an animal abduction were too high.

We also saw the zoo’s latest celebrities Ally and Caprivi, who are only outside for an hour each day!

After a long day of animal spotting, I concluded three things:
1) Autumn is a better time to visit the zoo, when more animals are less lethargic and you don’t feel like you’re suffocating in the crowds, especially in the enclosed exhibits.
2) I am so glad I chose my comfortable Converses or would have had to nurse some unpleasant blisters.

To silence our gargling stomachs, we set our sights on 2 Amy’s, a pizza place a few blocks away from the zoo with raving Yelp reviews.  Following a short wait, we were led upstairs into a well lit room that, along with the rest of the restaurant, was jam-packed.

We ordered the Bruschetta with Tomato Fondutta and two Margherita Tomato Pizzas, one with a generous portion of  pepperoni.  The pizza itself was hard to cut and the toppings did have a tendency to slide off, but I didn’t even care because the sauce was so disgustingly good!

Other than the zoo and other food adventures, I took a summer class and continued work at my internship and at the GMU library.  In August, I began job at the Dulles Air and Space Museum as a Sales Photographer where we put people in space with the help of a handy dandy green screen and Photoshop.  You can see the green screen on the right in the picture below!

An update on the first week of classes is on the way!

Concerts Galore

by Jenny, a Patriot Blogger

In February my roommate and I attended a Jack’s Mannequin concert at the 9:30 Club that, while satisfied our thirst for indulging in songs from our high school soundtrack, revealed how our tastes have changed.

The venue was packed and the audience was entranced by the soulful melodies of Andrew McMahon, but the only notes on our minds were the ones that the chili cheese fries from Ben’s Chili Bowl would make our tastebuds sing.

One click told me that Jukebox the Ghost would be returning to the area in March.  Three more clicks and I had purchased tickets to see them in Fredericksburg with Speak, The Elwins, and Arctic Atlantic. It was a little odd going back to the music venue I went to in high school, but Jukebox was jaw-droppingly good as usual and Speak and The Elwins performed at a similar caliber.

After the concert, my friend and I drove back up to Arlington for some mouthwatering kabobs at Kabob Palace, which is open 24 hours and has the tastiest chickpeas!

The Drums, who played at The Black Cat in April, was one of the highlights of my semester.  When my friend from William and Mary who hosts radio shows and always has good music referrals introduced me to their song “Down By the Water,” I couldn’t help but hit the replay button over and over again.  After missing their concert for some work/academic related reason last year, I was out-of-my head excited to hear that they were coming to DC.

Later on in the month Jukebox the Ghost came to GMU for the opening of the new dorms Rogers and Whitetop as part of the Sustainable Opening Ceremony!  Having my favorite band come to my school where I could listen and dance without battling teems of screaming fans was so nice, and it was FREE!

And so we have it, a rundown of the concerts I attended in the Spring of 2012.  More to come in the fall!

Science Lab: Consumption of Food Required

by Jenny, a Patriot Blogger

Because I am severely handicapped in most activities science related, I knew from the start that the lab portion of my Science of Human History class would be a disproportionate amount of teeth gritting and hoping for the best.  Before the week of the food lab, Tuesday nights without fail, promised three hour headaches that were alleviated only by the dry wit of equally exasperated groups members.  Optimistic about this lab, I strolled cheerfully into room to find our table covered in with a conglomeration of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, chips, dips, and guacamole. Throughout the lab, we inspected each of these food products and learned more about their components, origin, and uses.  Then came the enjoyable part, eating! It was hands down the most enjoyable lab I have ever had.

The Hot Spot!

by Jenny, a Patriot Blogger

From maracas and sombreros to paper lanterns embellished with Chinese characters, Mason’s new dining option “The Hot Spot” offers meals from around the world.  Since its debut in late January, feedback from students Facebook page for Mason Dining has determined a new theme each week, which has included a fajita bar, Carribean food, a classic pasta bar and Thai noodle bar.

As a lettuce and tomato discriminator, the meat filled fajita (above) did not leave me thrilled, despite large portions.  The Thai noodle bar (below) however, sent my taste buds on a delightfully spicy journey around the well cooked beef strips, through the loops of rice noodles and up the scoop of rice, slathered in the mouth-watering green curry sauce.

Located on the bottom of Student Union Building I, The Hot Spot has boasted lines nearly along as its neighbor, Chick-fil-A.

Also this semester, Mason has welcomed Subway into our dining family as well as a third convenience store.  With so many options, the only question now is how I will work off all of those additional calories!

Semester Lessons

by Jenny, a Patriot Blogger

Four weeks into school and things are already in full swing.  I have reworked my course schedule and started an internship in Washington DC.  My weekends have been spent social dancing, volunteering for a non-profit organization called A Wider Circle and braving the zero degree topple-over DC winds to get to the 9:30 Club.

Lessons I’ve learned so far this semester:

1.  Do bring a portfolio to an internship interview (extra points for leaving it behind).
I recently submitted an internship application on for a Marketing Assistant position for The Menkiti Group, a real estate company located in Washington DC.  Upon seeing the internship posting, I realized that what I do on weekend outings can be translated into actual work!  For the internship I visit the restaurants and other small businesses in Washington DC neighborhoods and gather information to transform the WordPress websites into resources for prospective buyers and current residents.  Most of the internship can be completed virtually, though I have weekly meetings at their office where I confer with the Director of Marketing on the websites and other forms of social media.  It has been three weeks into the project I have toured the first neighborhood and will continue to populate the website with content and pictures.

2.  Do not fall asleep on the metro.
Three weeks, three consecutive DC trips, and three mistake-riddled metro trips.  The first two times were minor accidents, where I realized I boarded the metro in the wrong direction after one stop, but the last one nearly made me late to class later that day.  By the third time, I had become confident in my route, boarding the train without hesitation and unfortunately, without looking to see whether it was the blue or orange line.  Exhausted from accounting homework the previous night, drowsy from a lack of caffeine and happy that I would be back in my warm dorm room soon, I let myself doze off.  I woke up five stops later when I realized I was all the way at Reagan National Airport.  Groaning inwardly, I found myself on my handy metro map app and redirected myself one stop later.  No real harm done, but certainly a lesson in careful reading and the practicality of being conscious on public transportation.

3.    Do pay a visit to academic advising (better to visit your department’s advisor)
After a meeting with a School of Management academic adviser, I was told it would be a very wise idea to reconfigure my schedule.  Instead of a terrifying Typography class, during which the professor employed immediate weeding-out tactics or an easier but still useful New Media in the Creative Arts course, I opted to try and get my Accounting class out of the way- once and for all.  Unlike previous years, scheduling classes was tricky business, especially with pre-requisites and the balancing of more difficult classes with the easy A’s.  As I weighed my options, thoughts of anguish ran through my head as I felt my outlet for creativity vanish and the four financial statements monopolize my waking hours.  The cold hard truth is that in college you’ll most likely have to take classes that make you want to bang your head against the table repeatedly, but then you’ll have classes where you watch dub step videos, learn about Roman burial rituals, even those that make you want drag yourself out of bed at 7:30am every morning.

My classes ended up being as follows:
Integrated Marketing Communications (Marketing Elective)
Most days our professor lectures on textbook material, which is sometimes dry but we are told it is necessary to develop a clear understanding of the subject.  On the good days there’s more group discussion and many examples of current and past ad campaigns.  Exams aside, I’m hoping to get the most joy out of the individual and group assignments, which includes analyzing commercials for certain television networks and creating an advertising campaign for a national brand of a product.
Financial Accounting and Managerial Decision Making (School of Management Requirement)
This is undoubtedly the area that I struggle the most in and I can actually say I’ve read every page assigned in the book.  This professor keeps me on my toes, as she spends a large portion of the class calling on people to provide answers or asking the class to answer questions verbally, forcing us to learn the material or look rather foolish.
Cross Cultural Perspectives (Honors Requirement)
Ho!  The reading in this class isn’t half bad, ranging from Yao Ming’s biography and Confucius to the AP course staple “Things Fall Apart.”  China and Africa are our two countries of interest.  Because my instructor is an Oxford and Harvard educated Robinson Professor, I wish the class involved more lecturing and less class discussion.
Science of Human History and Lab (Honors Requirement)
Another surprisingly interesting class!  If you have read “Guns, Germs, and Steel” you are set for the semester.  If not, you’ll read the entire book in class and discuss why Westerners ended up having have more cargo (material goods) than the people of countries like New Guinea.  The lab portion is tedious and three hours long, but tolerable with most group members.

Campus Favorites Part II

by Jenny, a Patriot Blogger

I’ve gone to bed dreaming about Southside’s omelets.  Available with a variety of vegetables, ham, cheese, and even an egg whites only option, these hearty combinations are the perfect start to a long day of classes.


If you’ve got a hankering for chicken and don’t feel like going to Southside, pay a visit to Mason’s sports bar, The Rathskeller, for the grilled chicken sandwich.  The Rathskeller has twelve flat screen TV’s, perfect for Monday night football games.

For more of a kick, try Sangam in the JC food court for some spicy Indian food.  My go-to combination is the butter chicken, yellow rice, naan and vegetable samosa.

Waffles all day every day!  Southside has two waffle makers that are open for use all day, along with warm syrup, butter, whipped cream and fruit toppings.  More adventuresome waffle-eaters may opt for an avalanche of chocolate chips toppling down an mountain of vanilla ice cream.