Monday, June 10, 2013


“It’s all so easy, try a little tenderness,” Jimmy Campbell and Harry Woods
Nephew Beamer Pickert visited for the weekend, following a business trip to Fairbanks, Alaska.  I picked him up at the Coach USA facility in Highland and took him to IU Northwest, where I showed off the Archives and Library Courtyard.  Next stop was Waverly Beach, where a north wind was producing whitecaps, but it was too hazy to see Chicago’s Loop.  Beamer enjoyed lunch at Sage Restaurant so much he wrote on Foodspotting that the gazpacho was “seasoned just right with a drizzle of olive oil, some chopped cucumber and a crouton, [and] served at just the right temperature.”  The piadina caprese, he praised as “light and flavorful, with a side salad.  A perfect lunch.”   
I taught Beamer Acquire; being very intelligent, he caught on quite rapidly to the subtleties of stock mergers.  Phil, Miranda, and Derek arrived in time for Becca’s Dance Review at Portage H.S., Phil’s alma mater.  Becca shined in a half-dozen of the 36 numbers.  There were pre-school participants as well as adults, including alumni of Toni’s Dance Academy.  Afterwards, at Wades Game Weekend Beamer, Phil, and I played two rounds of Werewolf before coaxing Tom Wade to join us upstairs for Amun Re.
 Becca in middle

Saturday Evan Davis taught us an intriguing German game called League of Six.  Wife Patti had spotted a bunch of them at Goodwill and paid two dollars for one.  After realizing how interesting it was, she went back but the others were gone. The locale is medieval Central Europe.  Each player represents a tax collector from the court of King Sigismund visiting one of six cities that comprised the Lusatian League, formed in 1346, including Gorlitz, Lauban, Bautzen, Kamenz, Lobau, and Zittau.  During the six rounds players bid on cities and then receive horses, guards, and various supplies as determined by octagons randomly assigned to them.  

Someone asked Evan, the designer of Air Baron, how his game Air Lords, was coming.  He’s been trying to fine-tune it for several years after Avalon Hill (now Hasbro) found it too complicated in terms of the mathematical calculations.  We test-gamed several variations but liked the original better than any of them.  He said he hasn’t thought about it recently and has much more peace of mind.  Maybe the original could be converted into an online game in a way that the math could be done by the computer.  We also played Word on the Street, where two teams think up words in response to categories to move 17 consonants (excluding J, Q, X, and Z) that are on a strip in the center of the board.  On each side of the letters are two traffic lanes.  Each time a letter appears in an answer that tile is moved toward the team’s side of the board.  The first team to retrieve eight tiles wins.  Unfortunately, a team only gets 30 seconds to come up with a word and move the letter tiles, so, being slower on the draw than in my prime, I found it quite hectic.

Saturday evening Dave’s band, Blues Cruise, performed at Marina Shores in Portage following a 5K race.  We arrived while the last stragglers were still completing the run and had to park at the Ogden Dunes South Shore station.  Several of Dave’s East Chicago students and fellow teachers came, as well as Robert Blaszkiewicz’s family and our dentist John Sikora.  Dave dedicated “Get Off This,” a Cracker number, to me, and especially shined on “She Don’t Use Jelly” and “1985.”  I danced pretty much non-stop during the scorching final set, as did Beamer, throwing in some unique moves resembling Russian folk dancing.  He bonded with Marianne (whose daughter Missy sang) and Lorraine (whose daughter Brittany played bass on a few songs).  A limbo contest was a big hit (Dave learned the song for the occasion), and James won a pineapple for break dancing during the dance contest. It was a memorable night.  The Blackhawks were playing a crucial game against the Kings, and band member Bruce Sawochka, a huge fan, kept getting updates and announcing them to the crowd.  The Hawks took a 2-0 lead, then after L.A. tied the score, went up 3-2 but got scored on with just ten seconds to go.  Just as the concert ended, Chicago won halfway through double overtime, as Patrick Kane completed a hat trick.

Sunday I drove Beamer to Highland, said goodbye to Phil, Miranda, and Derek and returned to Game Weekend, where I got in another League of Six game and croquet.  I was delighted to find a couple of Darcey’s deviled eggs in the fridge, and potato salad that she insisted I take home if any remained at day’s end.  Spotting a cartoon on the wall poking fun at Justice Clarence Thomas always voting with Antonin Scalia, I brought up the recent DNA case with Brady in which Scalia joined the three women justices I a dissent.  The majority, including Thomas, ruled that police could take cheek swabs from those arrested, comparing the practice to fingerprinting and photographing.  Citing the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, Scalia wrote: “Make no mistake about it: because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.”  Previously it was legal to take DNA swabs from convicted felons, which led to the solving of numerous clod cases.

At Jewel I ran into Chemistry prof Atilla Tuncay, who is retiring at the end of the month.  I compared retirement to a long-term sabbatical or, in my case, since I’m at school so much, to being a Fellow like Mayor Richard Hatcher once was for a semester at Harvard.

Chuck Gallmeier invited me on a day trip to their Michigan retreat.  Like me, he is pleased at Chris Young’s appointment to head up CISTL (IUN’s Center for Innovation and Scholarship in Teaching and Learning).  I’ve convinced Anne Balay to seek the Center’s advice on how to reduce the number of students who drop her courses or feel intimidated from expressing opinions different from hers, areas critics found fault with in denying her tenure.  Even if such a good faith effort fails to mollify her detractors, she, like all teachers, can always benefit from constructive advice. 

Nicole Anslover treated her class to “Dr. Strangelove.”  I still recall seeing it in 1964 at Midway Theater in North Philadelphia while on a date with Toni and finding it hilarious but quite scary in its skewering of Cold War insanities.  Stanley Kubrick dealt with theme of technology gone haywire, as he would do four years later in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” After the class discussed sexual references in the film, I mentioned the phallic opening scene depicting the re-fueling of Strategic Air Command planes as “Try a Little Tenderness” played in the background.  The only woman character was Miss Scott (played by Tracy Reed), General Buck Turgidson’s mistress, wearing a bikini in her only scene.  Reed also is “Miss Foreign Affairs,” the centerfold in the Playboy pilot T.J. “King” Kong is reading.  She is shown reclining, with a copy of Foreign Affairs covering her ass that contained the title “Strains on the Alliance.”

Nicole asked whether I’d watched “Mad Men” the night before and when I said no, mentioned that there were two big surprises.  One obviously was when Don’s daughter Sally saw him screwing his neighbor, and the other, I think she meant, involved Pete’s male protégé coming on to him. Nicole could have been referring to Peggy inviting a co-worker over to her place.  She is more and more resembling a kinder, gentler version of Don as she becomes more confidant and sexually liberated.

At the doctor’s office to learn my latest PSA number is excellent, a woman struggling to walk said to her young companion, no doubt her daughter, “I hope you get what I have and see how hard it is.”  Ouch!  Jeopardy was on, and one category was groups that had number one hits.  I recognized all the song titles but except for “Reach Out” by the Four Tops would have been late buzzing in with the other answers (Bangles, Doobie Brothers, Tears for Fears, and Black Eyed Peas). 

Josh and Alissa arrived back from their European trip.  We met them at the South Shore Station, and Toni made a steak dinner before they headed home despite a heavy fog that even delayed the White Sox game in Chicago.  Among the hundreds of photos Josh took were several from a World Naked Bike Ride event in London held to highlight the ecological benefits of cycling.  One sign read, “Protest oil dependency, celebrate body freedom, curb car culture.”  Beth Satkoski, Alissa’s mom, mentioned that a naked bike ride takes place in Seattle to celebrate the summer solstice.
Tony Lau posted on Facebook a creepy photo of an alley between Broadway and Washington just north of Sixth Avenue in Gary that was the site of a shooting scene in the movie “Original Gangstas.”  Michael Cusumano commented that when he went to Horace Mann he walked through it frequently “carrying corned beef and records from the Massachusetts Street side of Goldblatts back to Broadway.”

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