Friday, November 1, 2013

Trick or Treat

“I got 96 tears in my 96 eyes
I got a garbage brain, it’s driving me insane.”
    “Human Fly, Cramps

For Halloween Jonathyne Briggs shared a YouTube tune by the Cramps, with Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, featuring the album cover of their 1984 compilation “Bad Music for Bad People.”

At the Little Redhawk Café all tables were taken, so Anne Balay and I sat with a student named Ashley.  Anne said her 22 year-old daughter Emma planned to be trick-or-treating, and Ashley said she, too, enjoyed going out with friends on Halloween.  The weather forecast caused Portage and a few other communities to postpone trick-or-treating, but it was on in Chesterton, and the weather cooperated.  Not only did it stop raining, the temp was around 60.  About 75 costumed kids (and a few teens) came to our condo for candy, including a hippie, a ghoul, and Little Bo Peep.  Condo President Bernie Holicky stopped by, and I gave him a hug (according to Bruce Dern, the best remedy for anything).

I was able to answer homework queries from Becca (about alliteration) and James (an algebra problem involving converting a fraction to a percent).  For a crossword puzzle I told Toni wanted to know the nicknames for Ernesto (Ché) and for the University of Houston Cougars in the early Eighties (Phi Slama Jama).  Known for slam-dunking and a frenetic style of play, the “fraternity included Hakeen Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Gary native Renaldo Thomas.

In Indiana University Northwest News Chancellor William J. Lowe explained the mission of a group he’s on, One Region.  Its theme was diversity, both in the Region and at IU Northwest.  Diversity took root at the turn of last century, Lowe wrote, when immigrants from several dozen countries sought industrial jobs.  He concluded, “Our region’s character remains defined by its diversity.  As Chancellor of one of Indiana’s most diverse publicly supported campuses, I believe Northwest Indiana is making strides in embracing our diversity as a regional asset that serves the interests of all of our citizens.”  Referring to the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, Lowe challenged citizens to reflect on what type of future we want, asking, “Have our country and region progressed to become more welcoming and inclusive?”

Northwest News also highlighted an article about an IU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Alumni Association scholarship drive.  IU GLBT AA’s president Mike Shumate is a candidate for IU’s Board of Trustees.  Good luck to him.  

I found Shumate’s email address and wrote him about Anne Balay being denied tenure because she supposedly “teaches to an agenda” - the same rationale used to purge left-leaning professors during the Red Scare.  Before IU Northwest can brag about embracing diversity and serving all its students, it needs to stop firing professors with the temerity to be openly and outspokenly queer.  Anne’s fate, I am convinced, will have significance for future historians in assessing whether IU lived up to its expressed ideals at a time when a sea change in public opinion concerning Gay rights occurred.  One hopes the university’s top administrators will reconsider their action, if for no other reason than the sake of their legacy.

Once again Ryan Shelton, taking time out from his dual jobs in Marketing and as Lady Redhawks basketball coach, saved the day when I couldn’t get a function on InDesign to work.  Some folks objected to retiring Sharon Houston’s number, claiming it would lead to pressure to retire others.  His retort: it will be a long time before someone else scores 2,800 points, collects 1,700 rebounds, and blocks 500 shots.

I’ve been having weird dreams.  Last night I was traversing a steep road and realized I had passed my house.  When I started back, I somehow descended into woods populated by large animals as it started getting dark.  The night after teaching Nicole Anslover’s class, I had the old nightmare about standing in front of students and having no idea what to say.

In a New Yorker article about the princely JFK Adam Gopnik observed that Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton “were both larger-than-life figures drawn from simpler American entertainments – Mr. Deeds and the Music Man, the wise innocent in power or the lovable fast-talking con man who turns out to be essential to everyone’s happiness.” 

“Last Vegas,” starring Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline, drew a full house of (mainly) seniors on its opening day in Portage.  Douglas was perfect for the role of a 69 year-old set to marry a woman less than half his age.  His childhood buddies, the “Flatbush Four,” give up their sedentary lives for a weekend to “party like it’s 1959.”  Mary Steenburgen steals the show as a former tax attorney who, after putting her daughter through college, follows her dream and becomes a smalltime lounge singer with a heart of gold.

East Chicago Central and Gary West Side both won their Sectional semi-final football games, setting up a showdown between two teams that haven’t advanced this far in recent memory.  Dave wants me to attend; maybe I shall.
East Chicago star Martayveus Carter; NWI Times photo by Jim Bis

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