DID YOU happen to pick your copy of Something Happening out of the dust on your, entry's lower landing this week or last? If you did, you were probably as surprised as I was by its new format--and, I hope, as pleased.
It's not really very pretty; in fact, it's just about as ugly as it ever was. The layout still looks as though it was put together by a scissors-and-paste-stick-weilding third-grader only moments before it was rushed to the photo-offset man. And the attempts at profound symbolism on the cover fall as flat as ever. But now it's functional, and that's all that matters.
The major, if not the sole, source of its new-found functionality is its compactness. When you pick it up, you no longer have to flip through the pages, with steadily increasing irritation, trying to discover where they put the cinema and theatre listings this issue (usually hidden by one of several stapled-in mimeos). It's all there in the fold-out; the thrilling prospect of another Harvard-Greater Boston week to be taken in at one glance.
It certainly is an improvement. Granted that it's not complete, and there are always a number of errors in the schedules. But these shortcomings reflect only the natural limitations of any student calendar--and the general incompetence of the persons compiling it. They in no way detract from the new format.
THE CALENDAR has undergone an extensive metamorphosis this year, which at one stage included reviews of everything from Wellesley (a subject better left to the Collegiate Guide or the freshman Handbook) to Inman Square, the reviews ranging from the adequate to the abysmal. Fortunately, that stage has passed and as it presently stands it is much closer to being a justifiable publication than it ever was before. It is still by no means certain that it will continue to exist, or even that it should, but its chances are now improved for several reasons.
Its present brevity means that it need solicit fewer advertisements to support itself. So, to the extent that it is competing with Boston After Dark for advertising, it is now less vulnerable. Its changed form also makes it a completely different sort of publication than BAD. It no longer tries to review events extensively; it spotlights only one movie, one concert, and one dramatic production. The rest of the Calendar is just that, a calendar.
And a calendar is something that the University needs, if only to list its own events. A great many universities publish such calendars at their own expense and distribute them to the entire university community. However, those are, for the most part, state universities where practically all cultural and social events are sponsored by some university group. The students of a metropolitan university such as Harvard cannot expect the University to subsidize Boston and Cambridge theatres, so any calendar must be provided by a private group such as HSA.
But the University needs a calendar only if it is fairly reliable in the accuracy of its listings, and Something Happening has earned itself a reputation for regularly producing the grossest of errors. Should its editors apply themselves energetically to dispelling that reputation, the janitor might have a bit less trash to pick off the floors on Monday mornings.