Fall has arrived and the rain is here to stay. But fear not, beloved readers! The Grail is here for your fireside reading pleasure. We’re starting off with a peek into Reed’s developmental biology lab with Guananí (1). Then, a Cultural Column reviewing a hilarious Gray Fund-ed comedy show by Indra (3) and Claire’s overview of the delightful visiting writers coming to Reed this year (4). Next, Shana shows us the tastiest pumpkin muffins the back of a box can offer (6), followed by everyone’s favorite Miss Lonely Hearts tackling the beast of rejection (8). Last but not least, we present Backpacking in the Rain, a foldable mini-comic by Karl (9). Stay dry and enjoy the read, friends!
Anton, Claire, and Guananí
News & Features
On the second floor of the biology building, massive confocal microscopes and tanks of sleek, stripy zebrafish inhabit the developmental biology lab. This is the domain of biology professor Kara Cerveny and her student researchers, who work to tease apart one of biology’s most stunning and complex phenomena: the transformation of a single fertilized egg into a fully functioning, multicellular creature. “Developmental biology is the context in which we study all of biology,” Cerveny said. “Ecology, molecular biology, cell signaling, they’re all crucial in development. It’s a really wide umbrella; it encompasses all sorts of things.”
On Thursday, October 6, this year’s Visiting Writers Series launched with a winning author, Dao Strom. Born in Vietnam, Strom is currently a Portland-based writer whose newest work, We Were Meant To Be a Gentle People (published in 2015), is a crossroads of music, poetry, and visual art. I attended all but one of the Visiting Writers Series events last year and none of them stood out the way Strom’s set did. There was a microphone and DJ equipment set up stage left with two chairs. Center stage stood a taller microphone. Behind that, against the wall, the screen had been pulled down and images of Strom wearing wings and walking on the beach were projected onto the wall in time with instrumental music playing in the background. Her reading was a beautiful mixture of her own voice singing original work, a collection of instruments, and readings she gave, with key words or definitions or phrases projected onto the screen behind her.
Trevor Noah isn’t American, and it’s a fact he doesn’t let you forget. Born and raised in South Africa, Noah’s identity seems to be inexorably defined by his relationship with his home country. Because of this, race is a recurring theme in his comedy, and he often tiptoes on the line between acceptable and not, in a way that is almost universally amusing. Noah also has a way of guiding his audience down a line of thought, has us hanging on his every word, and then hilariously undermines our expectations.
Miss Lonely Hearts
Dear Miss Lonely Hearts,
I haven’t been in a relationship or had any hookups in the two years since my last girlfriend. At first I thought I was just recovering from the breakup, but as time went on I began feeling more disinterested in other people and more apprehensive of connecting romantically with somebody. At this point I feel neither willing nor able to initiate contact with people who I have any vaguely romantic interest in, but I’m increasingly lonely and unsure of how to express those types of feelings. The only thing bigger than my fear of being rejected at this point is my fear of what to do if my feelings are actually reciprocated.
Got any advice on trying to rebuild a love life?