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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Camera Roll

Appreciating the weird

And the art of noticing things

Sometimes, I think we don’t notice enough of the world around us. 

We have the ability to take photos using our phones, but then we often don’t even look back on them.

But that’s what our writers do best in the Viewpoint section of The Observer — we make “the stone feel stony,” as the Russian literary critic Viktor Shklovsky would say. It is why I feel blessed to now lead the department as viewpoint editor. And it is why I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to write for it, too.

As I approach the end of the semester, I find that I can only describe the way I feel as “weird.” This college lifestyle, its rush, anxiety, emotional turmoil and everything in between simply feels weird to me. 

I didn’t know how to express that in writing, though, until I looked at the five most recent featured photos on my phone, each taken in the last five or so days. 

Three squirrels on a chair, my roommate in a flattened beanbag, a guy in a tree, SpongeBob smoking a cigarette while wearing a Sixers hat and two Observer editors reading the paper seemed to adequately convey the weirdness that I felt once I noticed what was going on in the images.

So that is what I will share today.

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Squirrels hanging out on a chair outside of Alumni Hall.

The squirrels

Seriously, what is going on with the squirrels right now? On Sunday afternoon, while I was procrastinating my million responsibilities, I decided to sit on the chairs in the courtyard between Alumni and Dillon Hall. But instead of relaxing, I was alarmed by the behavior of a pregnant squirrel who was squaring up with me on top of the table I had claimed, and it wouldn’t stop hissing at me. 

“Either give me some food or bugger off,” she seemed to be saying to me in her squirrelish language. And I had better things to do than threaten her territory, so I respected her demands and walked back into my dorm.

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Junior Brian Ram lays on the "depression beanbag" in a messy dorm room.

Depression beanbag

Junior Brian Ram, my current roommate, looks happy while sitting in what I like to call the “depression beanbag.” Ever since buying the beanbag last year, I have spent nearly half of my waking college hours wasting away my time, sunk into its depths while brain-rotting online. 

My spine probably has irreversible damage from the time spent on the depression beanbag, but it has been a place of consistent refuge for me in the stress of college life, and for that, I am deeply grateful.

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A man pretends to sleep in a tree outside of South Dining Hall.

Some guy sleeping in a tree

People do weird stuff sometimes, I guess. This guy decided to climb one of the trees outside South Dining Hall Saturday morning, and I discreetly — and probably rudely — snagged a photo for myself. 

The guy was pretending to sleep, and though he probably thought he looked cool — a climber boy resting in his natural habitat — to me, he just seemed uncomfortable. The weight of his dangling legs and the rough bark of the tree just had to be a nuisance on his skin.

I appreciated the guy, though, laughing to myself as I walked through the dark double doors of SDH. Sometimes, I think we need more weird people in our lives to make us giggle.

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SpongeBob, if he were a Sixers fan. Photo courtesy of Hoops Reference via X.

Gameday as a Philly sports fan

There’s not much to appreciate here. This photo evokes only the pure emotion of hate. But as a Philadelphia sports fan, that’s all sports are good for, after all.

I am, unfortunately, a big Philadelphia 76ers fan. But it is true that to be a Philadelphia sports fan is endless suffering, with no let-up. 

Each year, they bring me hope, only to let me down in the worst possible way, to the most insufferable fanbases. With the Sixers down 3-1 in their series against the New York Knicks, I can’t eat a proper meal these days without constant trash talk from the New Yorkers at the Alumni Hall dining hall table.

I know everyone says this, but why does it feel like everyone at this school is from North Jersey?

The way the Sixers have crumbled this series, of course, warrants the trash talk, and I am left with no home and only a depression beanbag to fall back on. So naturally, I end up looking like the SpongeBob, pictured here, each April and May during the playoffs.

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From left, The Observer's News and Photo Editors, Liam Kelly and Gray Nocjar, read the paper's first printed editions early Friday morning.

The Papers

I thought our Gray Nocjar and Liam Kelly, our photo and news editors, respectively, looked nearly identical in this photo, and they were doing the same task, so I snagged a photo of them together, making them another victim of my sniping campaign. 

But look how adorable they are together. 

Anyway, they are pictured reading two of the very first printed copies of The Observer’s Friday, April 26 print edition during the editorial board’s visit to The Papers in Milford, Indiana. 

The Papers is the commercial printing plant where this newspaper is printed three times a week. 

And you can see behind our pictured editors a little bit of the work that goes into our prints — a group of highly skilled and experienced men who operate the plant’s impressively modern and massive machinery, getting up before the crack of dawn in order to bring you your independent student newspaper in a timely manner. 

When you notice what goes into it, it becomes impossible not to appreciate.

You can contact Liam at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.