Friday, November 15, 2013


“Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you . . .  totally redeem yourself.” Harry (Jeff Daniels) to Lloyd (Jim Carrey) in “Dumb and Dumber”

Steve Rushin’s SI column, “Dumbstruck,” is mainly about Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito harassing teammate Jonathan Martin, but he refers to a recent incident at a Blackhawks game.  After Winnipeg Jet Andy Pardy was checked through the glass into the stands, one fan removed his helmet and another poured beer over him.

Next week at a “Brown Bag Lunch Series” event Nicole Anslover and I are talking on “Teaching the Kennedy Assassination.”  I didn’t normally go into assassination theories unless students asked but think if there were a conspiracy, we’d know about it by now.  I’d tell students how I heard the news (something I’ll never forget), seeing Jack Ruby gun down Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV, and how the weekend pageantry spawned the myth of Camelot.  Norman Mailer thinks other gunmen might have been waiting at the grassy knoll.  Chicago mobster Sam Giancana had expressed the desire for someone to kill Kennedy for double-crossing him after he had cooperated with the CIA in efforts to neutralize Fidel Castro. Giancana was murdered in 1975 shortly before he was to testify before a Senate committee investigating CIA and Mafia collusion in plots to kill Kennedy.

Ryan Shelton again came to the rescue when I couldn’t move photos and captions in my InDesign layout because they were behind the text.  Earlier I uttered some obscenities and then realized two Muslim students were praying nearby. Oops.  Although I’m an agnostic, I have two types of prayers: “Help! Help! Help!” and “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”  They both give me comfort.

Raoul Contreras wondered if IUN was planning a “read in” similar to an event at Purdue on November 5 inspired by President Mitch Daniels’ denunciation of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” while governor of Indiana.  One speaker was James Loewen, author of “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” who said, “I think Howard Zinn was a patriot.  I think Mitch Daniels is a nationalist.  I think we need to convert him to being a patriot.”  Daniels has since claimed he believes in academic freedom, but the “Howard Zinn incident” will surely stain his legacy.  I told Contreras that the Anne Balay tenure case has the potential to taint IU President Michael McRobbie’s place in history in a similar manner.  Anne’s great crime, in her superiors’ eyes, was “teaching to an agenda,” something Zinn surely did.  But don’t all stimulating professors?  At least Anne is out front about where she is coming from: the perspective of a “queer” feminist.  Would a university want only “Uncle Toms” teaching Black Studies or critics of Rodolfo Acuna’s “Occupied America” in a Latino Studies program?  Public opinion on LGBTs has evolved so quickly in the six months since McRobbie ruled against Anne that hopefully the injustice will be remedied.

At lunch Anne announced that she had finally finished the subject index for “Steel Closets” after experiencing great difficulty with various topics having to do with sexual orientation.  Jonathyne Briggs said his class on Hoosier sexologist Albert Kinsey was a success.  I was too young when his “Reports” came out to assess their influence, but they surely sparked controversy and a better understanding of how commonplace were a variety of sexual practices, especially homosexual behavior.  I asked if Jon were watching “Masters of Sex” (he was) and speculated that the findings of Masters and Johnson, especially regarding clitoral arousal and multiple orgasms, were, if anything, more significant than Kinsey’s.

from top, Briggs, Kinsey, Masters and Johnson
In addition to an exhibition review of The Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that includes two quotes from Ron Cohen’s Guthrie biography, “Writing America’s Songs,” the latest Journal of American History contains book reviews by two IUN faculty, Chris Young (“A Companion to James Madison and James Monroe”) and Pat Buckler (“Writing with Scissors: Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance”).  IUN’s English Department, like with Anne Balay, is giving Buckler the boot.  The History Department wouldn’t have treated them so shabbily.  “Writing with Scissors,” Buckler states, “draws attention to the historical evolution of concepts about the way we manipulate data, from ancient commonplace books to modern digital logarithms and hypertext.”
Two posts from Steve Pickert
Jerry Davich asked for reactions to the George Eliot quote “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”  Most readers agreed, but 73 year-old Bob Pence, a former U.S. Steel electronics repairman, wrote: “Wrong – your fate is in the hands of others. All you can do is try to maximize it on your favor.  And for people like me, old, it’s too late.”

A colleague is not talking to me over a university matter.  Three times I’ve said hello to him at the Hawthorn Hall elevator and he just stared at me.  Over the years I’ve enjoyed chatting with him at lunch and miss our interaction, but I’ve stayed away from the main cafeteria on his two teaching days so not to create an embarrassing situation.  Friday, however, he had come to school for a Faculty Organization meeting; we were at the same table and, as usual, he ignored my greeting.

After having a burger at Freddie’s Steakhouse in Hammond with Dave and Social Studies teacher Bill Stenberg, I attended my first high school football game in 25 years, a Regional contest between East Chicago Central and New Prairie, whose coach had a 10-0 record against the Cardinals from when he was at Griffith, and it was one for the ages.  The week before unranked East Chicago had won its first ever Sectional, while New Prairie was undefeated the third-ranked team in the state.  Dave was announcing the game so I got to sit with him in the press box and act as his spotter.  To my left his former student Ray Flores, who does ESPN play-by-play of martial arts matches, was working the game for an East Chicago cable TV station.   Tennis player Ahmad Muhammad stopped by in his Cardinal mascot outfit.
Carlos Fernandez, above, pasees to TreQuan Burnett; P-T photos by Charles Mitchell

On offense New Prairie had a running attack that seemed impossible to stop and raced to a 21-6 lead.  Two fourth quarter fumbles, however, gave EC an opening.  With less than two minutes left each team had scored 4 TDs, but the Cardinals had missed every extra point attempt while the New Prairie kicker seemed automatic.  With just 86 seconds left Cardinal QB avoided a sack and threw a pass to TreQuan Burnett, who raced 60 yards for a TD.  New Prairie stormed back and got down to the two yard-line before tying the game with a field goal.  In overtime, with both teams starting on the ten yard-line, New Prairie scored but unbelievably botched the extra point.    It took EC all four downs but star player Martayveus Carter got into the end zone and Daniel Flores nailed the extra point.  Pandemonium!

Next morning’s Times headline read “Cardiac Cardinals.”  Matt Douthett wrote: “It was an instant classic, forever to be etched in the minds of Northwest Indiana football fans.  Simply put, it was one for the ages.”  How great to have witnessed the improbable upset and been part of the unfettered joy on the part of players and fans.  With a celebration in full swing on the field Dave put on a record and students, teachers, and cheerleaders started dancing to the beat.

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