Happy Little Trees

Posted: March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.~Emerson

Great friendships have been a hallmark of my life. The reason for this is a mystery. I can’t claim responsibility for such an extraordinary advantage. Doing so would be akin to a great singer taking credit for the astonishing beauties of music. Like a devoted musician, I develop and nurture my friendships, but the realization of so many close and lasting relationships is a mysterious and innate talent I have somehow been bestowed. how_i_became_a_fairy_godmotherI shall presume an incredibly wise fairy godmother worked to ensure that my life positively overflows with enchanting friends.

My closest friends possess similar traits, but are all different types of people. Early on, I established a habit of seeing a potential friend in any and every kind of individual. Happily, contemporary life allows for my friendships among men and women to thrive, no matter their relationship status. Throughout much of history, the kind of intimacy between the sexes would have been perceived as odd, or problematic. Childhood friends have remained close, spending time with me with or without their partners. My friends are wealthy, middle class, and struggling, or in some state of flux. I find that money rarely matters, and if I any of us have a bit more, the only thing that changes is the regularity and expense of gifts and trips. I have friends in every age group. Many of my friends are a decade older or younger than I am. Whether older or younger, these friends provide an opportunity to witness the exquisite, shapeshifting nature of life, the eagerness and anxiety of youth transforming into certainty and contentment. I am privileged to have friends from different backgrounds of every sort. I like all types of people, and, fortunately, they like me, too.

Fantastic friendships are phenomenal treasures.Of the things my friends do have in common, here’s the only absolute: they all make me laugh. As for the rest, they are just geaudennerally too good to be true. They tend to be graceful, and find my clumsiness amusing. Often they are beautiful, in ways subtle and intense. They surprise me with thoughtful and generous gifts of time and attention. They inspire me to try new things; they challenge my rigidity; they encourage me to stay up late and go out dancing.

Good friendships are profoundly beautiful, deeply comforting, and just plain fun. I suppose I ought to write a friend-by-friend discussion and analysis, but that would require much more time than I have at the moment, and I fear accidentally forgetting someone, which would be unforgivable.

 

I have been planning an art project affectionately described as a “friend orchard” along the lines of a family tree. In this orchard, trees would designate different friend groups: Cleveland friends, graduate school friends, library school friends, Chicago friends, 826 friends, work friends, and the Urban Family. This strategy would always allow room to add new friends.

Whether or not the project is ever completed, I delight in the idea of growing friendships enough to fill a forest.

By Peter Stern, Philosophy Faculty.
Rahm’s bombs fail to hit their intended target–the four challengers running to unseat him and become the next mayor of Chicago. Instead they hit Rahm himself causing considerable damage to his carefully crafted image while significantly enhancing the fortunes of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Rahm’s most formidable opponent.

Thus the obvious question is–why did he get beat so badly? Though the election proved more complicated than the media Duncan And Emmanuel Promote Education Dept's Summer Reading Initiativesuggested, a Garcia inspired consensus explanation quickly emerged. It claimed that Rahm was a narcissistic, ego manical, cold, abrasive, power crazed, ambition besotted hard head who loves doing favors for big shots and ignores the little guy–a high flyer who hob nobs in D.C., raises millions in L.A., touts Down Town, and thumbs his nose at the neighborhoods, oh, and doesn’t care for unions. Biggest piece of proof: he mindlessly closed 50 schools on the South Side! Yes, 50 schools! On the South Side!

But a translation is necessary. South Side isn’t simply a geographic designation to be contrasted with its geographical antipode– North Side. No! South Side means African American Chicago. It means black and thus not white. Or, since we’re talking politics, not geography, let’s get serious: shutting 50 schools on the South Side means racism. Period.
So Rahm is not simply an ego maniac, he’s a racist ego maniac. Well not exactly a racist because in fact he comes from an very liberal family (in the 60s, his mom participated in the big civil rights protests going to the South to work for voting rights legislation) and Rahm has always called himself a liberal. And as everyone knows, Rahm was President Obama’s first chief of staff, even getting the President to campaign for him during the last week of the election. Still while he’s not George Wallace, he did close those schools while never closing a single white school, and politically speaking, that equals racism.

Since we mentioned schools, let’s also note that at the beginning of his term, he came down a bit hard on teachers–but again, a translation is necessary for teachers don’t mean teachers, exactly; it means the Chicago Teachers Union. 476915_630x354Moreover, in this case, it means Ms. Karen Lewis, who is one very sharp, very clever, very funny, very media savvy person and the Head of the Teachers Union. In provoking Karen Lewis, Rahm met his match. Looking back in retrospect, from that point on, Rahm’s fortunes tumbled. Like a Russell Terrier, Lewis wouldn’t let go and Rahm knew not how to deal with her.

Now the media had an even better story to tell: Rahm was a hard headed, big shot elitist who ignored the neighborhoods, had racist policies, wasn’t exactly cordial to the unions, and regularly got bested by Ms. Lewis. To further improve this neighborhood, little guy theme, slighting the Hispanic community was added to the cauldron of complaints–and we’re off to the races, which helps explain why “Chuy” decides to put his hat in the ring.

So that’s the consensus view of why Rahm bombed. While this account obviously makes sense, I don’t buy it for the rather naive and obtuse reason that I tend to be color blind and feel that issues are more important than race and ethnicity though surely there’s some relation between one’s race and one’s views on issues. But it’s not one to one. Thus explaining Rahm’s bomb using the little guy big shot theme doesn’t completely work.

My take is different; it focuses on issues and, indeed, focuses on one issue alone. The issue which I believe explains why Rahm bombed is the fact that Chicago is in dire financial straits and will likely go bankrupt if it fails to put together a serious–meaning painful– plan to address this reality. For instance, the Public School System is 1 billion in debt. And folks is screaming at Rahm for closing 50 run down half empty schools. Yet rather than strongly defending his actions, Rahm starts stuttering and flies to L.A. or NYC for a campaign fund raiser whose loot will be used to pay for a 2015 30 second ad criticizing “Chuy” for favoring a tax increase in 1986. Looney Tunes, methinks.

The real point is that Rahm claimed to be the tough guy capable of making the tough calls but the record shows he dodges them never coming clean on how desperate is the City’s plight along nor does he offer a plausible proposal to address it. Instead, he tells stories how he fixed some CTA track lines (good for you, Rahm) and got the schools to lengthen the school day (again good for you)–both, certainly, worthwhile achievements. But compared to the financial crisis he never mentions, these successes pale in significance. Rahm proceeds as if it’s business as usual. But it’s not. So I think the real reason Rahm bombed is that lots of folks believe Rahm simply fiddles while Chicago burns.

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

Americans cherish freedom.  When I ask my students what they think of, or what they think others think of, when they hear the word ‘America’,  ‘Freedom’ is almost invariably the first answer given.  From a young age, we are taught that freedom is the life-blood of America, and hence, of American history. Our founding stories are the beginning, and heart of this narrative.

National foundations have the habit to intertwine history and mythology; the American tale is no different.  From our Republic’s earliest days, the hagiography of the founders was central.  Some of this was self-created by theweems founders themselves, such as Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Autobiography'; some was conjured by the second generation of Americans who just missed the romance of the Revolution. As the Revolutionary generation began to die off, the younger men and women of post-Revolutionary America lionized the lives and accomplishments of their forebears.  Most famously, in the decade after the death of Washington in 1799, the little known Parson Weems produced a heroic biography of our first President that depicted the man as moral exemplar and ethical sage. Weems’ book became an American ‘bestseller’.

Today, Americans are generally less naive about the founders.  Washington did not ever say ‘I cannot tell a lie,’ and he most definitely is not a moral model for the 21st century. Most realize that Washington, and many other founders, were slave-owners. This paradox encapsulates American history. As the founders crafted our Constitution, their worldview was crafted by their slave society.  Jefferson, Madison, Monroe: denizens of freedom; owners of human beings.  Conversely, John Adams did not own any slaves.  But, American slave society did not draw distinctions between slave-drivers imagesand those who simply lived along side.  When Adams was in Philadelphia in 1776, calling for revolutionary independence, his wife Abigail wrote him to ‘remind him’ about the possibility of women’s rights.  Sounding like a 21st century woman, Abigail wrote ” I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could.”

But, Abigail was living in the 18th century, and her husband was an 18th century man.  He wrote back in response that her concern for women’s rights made him ‘laugh’. He said he had been warned that the American,

‘Struggle has loosened the bands of Government every where. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient — that schools and Colledges were grown turbulent — that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerfull than all the rest were grown discontented. — This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out.’

Here Adams was stating the Revolution was really only for a few.  Women, Indians, children and, of course, Negroes need not apply.

But, Adams was blind.  Even as his revolution was rocking the world, his world was being rocked by those ‘insolent negroes.’ They were making their own freedom.


How can we understand what most African-Americans thought about the American Revolution and the new American government?  Since most African-Americans were in bondage in 1776, their thoughts and words have been lost to the ages. However, their actions were recorded and these actions proved these people were revolutionaries in their own right. Thousands of men, women and children rebelled by grabbing freedom with their own hands. For these African-American revolutionaries, the British did not mean oppression; the British were a tool for liberty.  In his 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning book The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, the historian Alan Taylor pointed out that African-Americans repeatedly fled for freedom in the early Republic. In 1812, when the United States declared war on Great Britain for a second time, slaves from the south fled to British ships, and British lines, yet again.  In other words, the slaves were not helpless victims. Like the patriots who fought for freedom against the British in 1776, these enslaved Americans were fighting a revolution for their own freedom.

The War of 1812 ended in 1815, and with it, British presence in America. Slaves now had few options for freedom. They could rise up with violence; or they could run away to a gradually emancipating north. Neither of these options held great promise. Northern states were by no means the land of freedom for African-Americans. Whereas in the South, the unjust system of American slavery was becoming more entrenched, and more caustic as the years went by. After Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831, the world of the slave was obsessively monitored by white society.  Freedom was curtailed more and more as the Civil War drew nearer. What was needed in these dark days was a clarion call for freedom that illustrated American hypocrisy. The little remembered David Walker was the man who took the necessary stand. He would be one our nation’s most important moral voices. In 1829, he published his ‘Appeal’ and that work would inspire later radical abolitionists such as Garrison, the Grimke sisters and Frederick Douglass.  In walkers-appealincredibly upfront language for 1829, Walker’s ‘Appeal’ accused white Americans of the greatest, most horrific hypocrisy.  He wrote,

‘See your Declaration Americans! ! ! Do you understand your own language? Hear your languages, proclaimed to the world, July 4th, 1776 — “We hold these truths to be self evident — that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL! ! that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! !” Compare your own language above, extracted from your Declaration of Independence, with your cruelties and murders inflicted by your cruel and unmerciful fathers and yourselves on our fathers and on us — men who have never given your fathers or you the least provocation’

Because of such truthtelling, Walker became public enemy number 1 in the south. He was not much liked in the north either.  In 1830, as Walker’s ‘Appeal’ was being burned in effigy, Walker was found dead in Boston of Tuberculous. It was a tragic end of an under appreciated American freedom fighter. But, Walker had opened eyes. He helped those who followed him see that slavery would not go quietly.  In April 1861, all of America came to the same realization.

The Civil War has largely been understood through the actions and memorializations of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln has been portrayed as an American martyr for freedom; the wiseman that America needed to save the union and end slavery.  For most Americans, he is the Great Emancipator.  Steven Spielberg’s saccrahine biopic of ol’ Abe does nothing to dispel this notion. Ken Burns famous Civil War documentaries lionized the railsplitter as a stirring genius. But, the story of the Civil War, Lincoln, slavery and emancipation is more complicated than people like Spielberg or Burns lead us to believe.

As most serious historians now agree, African-Americans, and slaves specifically, were constantly forcing Abe’s 5.6.contraband-in-williamsport-camp-of-13th-MA-from-Mollushand, pushing him in a more radical direction than he hoped, or planned, on going. As soon as the war started, and as soon as Union troops invaded the south, slaves fled to Union lines. These enslaved American men, women and children wanted freedom, and just like the English army and navy in 1776 and 1812, the Union military provided an obvious opportunity.  For some racist Union leaders, these runaways were simply annoyances that should have been returned to their ‘rightful owners.’ But, for the savvier officers, the slaves were crucial to defeating the Confederacy. Not only would the runaways help the Union war effort as laborers, they simultaneously crippled the rebels fighting ability. African Americans had created the south; they produced the wealth, the food and the identity of Dixie.  Without them, the rebels would find that the war would be much harder to win on the battlefield and the homefront. Lincoln was not on board initially, and was troubled regarding these people who were taking freedom for themselves.  In 1861, he said, ‘I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists…I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”  However, as the trickle of African Americans taking their freedom became a flood, and as it became clear that these men and women would not be turned away, Lincoln finally took pragmatic action.  By 1863, he was ready to proclaim that the war was being fought for a ‘new birth of freedom.’ African-Americans understood this long before he did.

In 1776, 1812, 1829, 1831, 1861, and many other years in-between and after, African-Americans changed the way America understood freedom. Thousands of forgotten, and quite literally nameless men and women took revolutionary action for ideals Americans hold sacred. The freedom they fought for, and died for, should be bigger than one day in July, or one month each winter. Their actions should be celebrated all year long.

By Ellen Mannos, Career Management Faculty/Curriculum Chair. 

Dear Students,

In ancient Greek times, learning existed in the streets  of Piraeus where you would have found Socrates roaming around encouraging youthful inquiring minds to think, question and argue. A more modern day version of this collective gathering would have existed,  for example, during the 60’s and 70’s where a cluster of  students could be found sitting on a floor outside an overcrowded classroom, or standing in the back of that  classroom at Loyola University. There, students would have been listening to a certain Professor Szemler, sans PowerPoint, notes or book, preaching of Ancient and Medieval  History and his own personal flee from Hungary in the 1950’s; executed in mesmerizing, operatic, and lyrical non-stop fashion fully armed with historical knowledge;  in live performance never to be duplicated through podcast. He may have opened with something like, ”ladies and gentlemen, what is the etymological meaning of the word Pleistocene”, after which you knew you were on a wild adventure. Intense discussion  would have taken place afterwards across the street at Connelly’s Bar over freshly brewed beer accompanied by cage-free organic hard-boiled eggs.

Today, you can now “toadie” on up to suite 624, circle on to your left and head east slowly toward the desks of Professors 25197_1299799297567_2935835_n (1)Michael Stelzer Jocks and Peter Stern for yet another kind of adventure.  Just follow the smells of the ”specials of the day” coming from either Stelzer-Jocks’ organic cumin infused home grown barley-quinoa dish, or Stern’s leftover bone-in boutique cut veal chop with wild dandelion greens! (and the Michelin award goes to….)

Ah, but listen carefully – so put down your smart phones, please! You’ll hear them discuss the WW2 Battles of Kursk, Normandy or Stalingrad, or observe them watching some old photofootage of Russian Cossack’s,  accompanied by a background of a Fredrick Chopin piano concerto which captures  the then reality of historical pain & suffering.

Periodically, of course,  Professors Stern and Stelzer Jocks would get up from their seats, stretch a bit and  head  due west to Professor Paul Gaszak’s desk for an impromptu discussion on sports where you might hear something as exhausting as listening to Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” , only  the topic would be  – “Das Deflatable  Football”.

So, whoever said a liberal arts education is dead has not meandered up to Suite 624. But, ya gotta’ put your smart phones down, dear students………or you’ll miss the performances. Oh, and bring your lunch. There’s  plenty of soft seating, tables, kossaksand ottomans; and you just might learn something about the “Ottoman Empire”, listen to a little Chopin in the background, watch the Cossacks on video crossing over to Istanbul, hear the discussions, friendly disagreements; and yes, even professors inquire about things they don’t’ know.  After all, is not learning that which you do not know or question?

So put down your smart phones – please!  Oh, and forget the elevator and take the stairs! If you question what all this has to do with your degrees in computer networking, sports fitness, medical assisting, pharm tech, etc., then you’d better run up those stairs. Come on, be a Spartan!

Mix Master

Posted: February 17, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

There is no sweeter gift than one made with love especially for you.

Among my favorite types of homemade gift is the music mix, once a mixed tape, then a mixed CD, now an online playlist. No matter its form, the charm of a music mix resides in the expression of care and understanding and delight and love.

Over many years, I have been thrilled to receive some extraordinary mixes from friends, the occasional student, and even especially for me from the man I love from time to time.

The end of the film High Fidelity perfectly captures the essence of constructing a good mix. Nick Hornby’s definition is flawless; I shall only add my idiosyncratic wrinkles. My research produced a book called Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture, which I’ll add to my reading list. Of primary importance is creating a mix specifically to please another.

A truly good mix will have a charming title, and sometimes personalized inserts. My favorites, in heavy rotation and nearing exhaustion, include the tremendously thoughtful “Up at Bat: I & II” from Holly, “Sushi Mix” from Hanna, “Living is Easy” from Kris, the “I Kiss You” series from Jen, “Oooh la la la” from Jenny, “Getting Dish Back to School” from Emily, “Summer wood” from Jeremiah, and many workout mixes from Ingrid.

mixtape

To be truly beloved, a music mix must contain music by artists that both the giver and recipient like, both separately and in common. For example, my “Sushi” mix from Hanna includes music from Queen, a band we both adore, and music from some of her particular favorites, and mine. It is a special fusion of taste.

A good mix will also include new music, fresh treats discovered by the mix maker and shared like a wonderful secret. My friends have always been cooler than me; through them, I discover cutting-edge musicians long before mass popularity.

A good mix shares hidden messages, like “I Ain’t Ever Loved A Man” by Aretha,  “Living My Life Like it’s Golden” by Jill Scott , and anthems, like “Hot for Teacher” and  “You Can Have Whatever You Like” cover by Anya Marina, and memories, “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues, and a larger sense of unity present in well-structured albums.

The songs must be selected especially for the listener; crafting a unique listening experience embodies a profound connection. Constructed as a musical collage, a good mix is a love letter, to be kept, revisited, cherished.

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

Yep. Another Valentine’s Day is upon us.  Last year I meant to share a great Valentine’s Day recording with Turtle reader, but I just plain forgot. So, I am getting out in front of the big day this year.

Have a listen to this short from the New York Public Radio program Radiolab. In it, the host Jad Abumrad and Robert p01n86yyKrolwich retell the story purportedly first told by the great Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes during a Symposium drinking party.  Socrates was there, and so was Socrates’ most famous pupil, Plato. He recorded Aristophanes explanation of why humans fell in love in his Socratic dialogue called, appropriately enough, The Symposium.  Enjoy the two minute clip, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

I must admit, I find African-American History Month a bit problematic. Wait, let me restate that.  I find the reception, understanding and construction of African American History Month problematic. I’ll tell you why I feel this way in a bit, but first let me clarify some things.

You need to understand where I am coming from. I am not one of those people (usually white, which I am), who ponderously wonders, “If we have a Black History Month, why don’t we have a White History Month?” If you have ever said this, please stop now. You sound ridiculous, and you have just displayed either your bias, or your ignorance.  I’m also not one who feels African-American history, or Mexican-American history, or Women’s history somehow balkanizes the American people into different, competing groups.  Newsflash! The social, cultural and ethnic history turn of the 1960’s has not been to blame for the racial, ethnic and gender tensions in America during the past 300 years! To believe otherwise is to be either completely ignorant of American History, or to be arguing in bad faith.

No, I feel African-American history month doesn’t go far enough.

The intention of African-American history month is noble, and absolutely necessary. It exists for a very powerful reason. For much of our nation’s history,

A depiction of the 'happy slave' that was common in 19th and early 20th century history texts.

A depiction of the ‘happy slave’ that was common in 19th and early 20th century history texts.

the study of the past has not been colorblind.   It is an unfortunate truth that American historians have played a crucial role in creating, and furthering the notion of white racial dominance.  For years American history texts simply ignored, or worse, purposely distorted the African-American experience for political and racist purposes.  Though this is much less common now, it still exists. In addition, there has been, and there still are many politicians and cultural critics who wish to simply gloss over, romanticize or completely white-wash the deeply troubling ideologies of race and racism that have scarred our nation. Hence, for these people, African-American history itself is dangerous. They want positive American heroics, no matter what. If the truth of African-American history messes with this constructed heroic story, than that truth must be muzzled!

African-American history month is intended to rectify the injustice of past historiographical omissions, and shine the harsh light of facts on those who would forget our nation’s rocky, messy, often disturbingly unheroic past.  I am completely on board with both goals. However, I do have concerns. First,as mentioned above, I think it is unjust. One month is simply not enough to understand how important African American history is to the story of America. It may be a bit cliched to state that African-American history is American history, but it is no less true. This truth needs to be pushed beyond the four weeks of February. I am afraid it often is not.

Second, I worry about African-American history being simplified by how most ‘celebrate’ and receive the month.  I think it is very easy to perceive African-American history month as a 28 day celebration of quick biographical sketches that paint chosen, recognizable men and 2-3-2014-fox-newswomen as a-historical heroes. Of course, it is nice when TV stations provide snippet memories of Rosa Parks, MLK, and George Washington Carver during commercial breaks and station identifications, but, by repeatedly doing this year after year they often provide the public only the very surface story of the African-American experience.  New heroes get added to the American pantheon, but when March roles around, we all realize we are none-the-wiser to the deeper story of WHY these people should be considered heroic.  Americans need to remember the social structures, legal codes and political ideologies such heroes fought against; they need to remember these people literally put their lives on the line to speak out against hypocritical American injustice. They need to remember, period.

African-American history, along with the history of race in America, is crucial to understanding the American story. It must be about more than a litany of individual biographies, and it must take up more than 28 days. And so, over the next few weeks, I will write a set of blogs providing a glimpse of a wider ranging African-American history. These blogs will show how millions of forgotten African-American men and women were central in the creation of American freedom, American capital and American culture. I hope you will think about these stories in March, April, May and beyond.

By Paul Gaszak, English Faculty

There are so many great theme songs from movies, television shows, videos games, and more. A bit of news came out late last week that got a lot of people talking online, and it got my favorite theme song of all-time stuck in my head. It also got me thinking about what are my favorite theme songs. While there are so many great options, here are my favorite theme songs of all-time:

Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical Order): The Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, Home Improvement, Indiana Jones, Saved by the Bell, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Stars Wars – Main Theme, Super Mario Bros., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle – 80s cartoon.

5. Star Wars – The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)

I’m not much of a Star Wars fan, but if I hear even a few notes of the Imperial March, I’ll be whistling it for no less than the next hour. Or, if I’m in a situation where whistling is unwelcome, it plays in my head on loop while I cup my hand over my mouth and breathe like Dark Vader. The Star Wars theme itself is also fabulous, but I’m going with the Dark Side on this one.

4. NBA on NBC Theme

Any basketball fan, and especially any Chicagoan, over the age of 30 should have fond memories of this John Tesh composed theme song for the NBA on NBC broadcasts. For Bulls fans, it should make you feel all warm and happy inside, because whenever we heard this tune in the 90s, it meant we were about to get 48 minutes of Michael Jordan eviscerating another team.

*Sigh* – I miss this theme. TNT, ESPN, ABC – somebody please talk to John Tesh and bring back this music before NBA broadcasts!

3. Jurassic Park

I was 11-years-old when Jurassic Park came out in 1993. I don’t know a single person of my generation who doesn’t love Jurassic Park. We were all wide-eyed kids staring at the silver screen in disbelief of the “real” dinosaurs that summer, and we all have – still to this day – an unhealthy obsession with velociraptors and T-rexes. The Jurassic Park theme could conceivably be the theme song of my generation, if it weren’t for the next song on this list….

2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

“This is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down….”

Go ahead and finish it. You know you’re physically and mentally incapable of resisting the urge.

1. The Legend of Zelda

If you are not into video games, put aside any potential bias for a moment and hear me out. The Legend of Zelda is one of the longest-running, most famous, and most popular video game series of all-time. One of the reasons the game is so iconic is because its theme is so damn good.

Just last week, news surfaced that Netflix is in talks to produce a live-action Legend of Zelda series. If the show does happen, I sincerely hope each episode’s title sequence has this epic orchestral rendition of the theme playing. Do yourself a favor and listen to this beautiful version, especially if you’ve never heard it or if your memories of Zelda are restricted to sounds coming from your 1980s TV and Nintendo Entertainment System.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

It’s Monday, so I have created new to-do lists for the day and the week.

Creating a list of things to do and completing that list is an oddly satisfying part of adult life.ToDo

I’m a to-do lister from way back. My lifelong friend and long-suffering college roommate, Jenny Couch, used to roll her eyes upon finding that my daily lists began with the same items: 7:00 wake/shower 7:30 breakfast. She asked me why I needed to write “wake up” on my to-do list. Clearly, she was unaware of the enormous sense of accomplishment crossing an item off a to-do list can produce.

wellbegunRMU’s English Department Chair, Mick MacMahon, has a fabulous habit of establishing a to-do list for our regular departmental meetings. The magical aspect of Mick’s to-do list protocol involves not just crossing off the item from a list, but deleting it through erasure. I have started erasing items from my daily course agenda, which is written on the white board to indicate the plan of action for every class period. As the class unfolds, the list is diminished by our work, leaving fewer and fewer concepts to cover until we’re all done.

Like every other good thing in the world, to-do lists have received a 21st-century update via online apps. The brilliantly named Wunderlist offers a variety of public lists. Some seem worth a look, but it’s unclear how looking at a catalog of lists can enhance my productivity. The skeptical Luddite within me balks. In this behavior, I am emulating Neil Postman, who regularly asked if there actually existed a problem before technological solutions were introduced. Pen and paper serve me exceedingly well. To-do list apps may be life-changing, but it’s likely that I’ll never know.

The world is more digital than ever, but my to-do lists will remain unchanged: embodying old-school achievement, vintage productivity.

By Tricia Lunt, English faculty

Early in November, I experienced a minor fashion crisis while my friend Ingrid was visiting. I was searching my apartment for my legwarmers as she and I were getting dressed to go out for a night of fun.

“Maybe you left them at your dance recital,” was her comic comeback.

“Ha-ha-ha,” I replied.

I discovered my rascally legwarmers hiding in my boots: disaster averted.

Legwarmers’ popularity peaked in the 1980’s, largely due to the movie Flashdance and the onslaught of aerobics videos, and the attendant popular culture phenomena, my favorite being Olivia Newton John’s invitation, “Let’s Get Physical”. While I certainly enjoy a wide array of legwarmer color combinations, my go-to pair is basic black—always slimming, easily coordinated with everything.

I never wore legwarmers during their 1980’s heyday, a decade with fashion fads that are remembered entirely too fondly in my opinion. I was quite young through those years, and certainly I don’t look back at shoulder pads and acid wash jeans with longing.

1980s-fashionitem-leg-warmers

Work that look, ladies!

 

While they may have largely faded from widespread popularity, legwarmers remain ridiculously useful, particularly as a functional, alterable layer. I can add them easily, or remove them, or scrunch them down to a little fabric bunch at my ankle. They are a portable and lightweight warming option, easily fitting into pockets or purses, unlike an extra coat.

Legwarmers are a vital part of my penchant for layering throughout the year, and bundling when necessary. Over the course of the 2014 calendar year, I wore my legwarmers eleven out of twelve months. When I went to the Pacific Northwest in July, I brought my trusty legwarmers primarily because the weather report included daytime highs in the 40’s and 80’s, which is a considerable range requiring effective packing. I wore my legwarmers on my arms as extra sleeves when on chilly sunrise boat trip to The San Juan Islands, and was able to pare down to just a tank top when the afternoon emerged as a sunny 75 degree day.

Cleary, legwarmers are a staple of my wardrobe. How did this happen? None of my friends regularly wear legwarmers, but I never was much of a follower when it comes to fashion. I am a fan of unique, utilitarian fashion accessories (see my abundant scarf collection). I follow the basic maxim to wear what feels and looks good, which is why I gave up high heels years ago (a cruel practice started by diminutive male aristocrats with size issues—no, thanks). I have always preferred to find my own style; legwarmers are just one pretty, peculiar part.