By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

A few weeks ago, my friends and I had planned to venture away from the big city out into the rolling country for an autumnal outing and the corresponding wholesome goodness.

We were going to pick apples, a regular “Urban Family” Fall Fun event, set in rotation with the Cheese Days festival in Monroe, Wisconsin. On even years, we celebrate all things cheese. On odd years—sometimes very odd—we pick apples. Though always memorable, these outings are also reliably surreal.


Urban Family in Wisconsin, with beer and a cheese necklace.

I’m a well-known proponent of tradition, and both agrarian activities embody much of what makes life good. Honestly, what we do is irrelevant; the fun we attempt to have and the time spent together is what I value.

Despite our best efforts to enjoy a picturesque autumn afternoon, we ultimately endure a bizarre experience sure to be anecdotal fodder for years to come.

I think the first outing to pick apples in 2009 went rather well. I cannot recall the name of the farm, though I am certain it had hydraulic cannons for shooting apples at targets, which we all agreed was a good sign. We learned later that sort of thing, though vastly entertaining, is quite illegal in Illinois. City folk dodged an apple bullet there.

In 2010, we discovered the cheese festival and decided it was worth a visit. We enjoyed a pleasant day, though many oddities did ensue. Here, we encountered a two-hour cheese parade, with cheese-inspired floats and dancers and bands enough to make anyone smile.


Hula Hooping it up

Sure that more fall fun could be had, we went apple picking, too, except there were no apples. We’d come too late in the season, and they were fresh out. We decided to enjoy every other bit of down-home goodness on that farm, including the corn maze, and hula hoops, put out, no doubt, in a desperate attempt to distract from the “no apples” sign.

In 2011, we became convinced that harvest time in the orchards and harvest time in the hallmark stores are quite different. By the time we got to the orchards in late October, when everything feels like autumn, there weren’t many apples left, but at least there were some.

The next year’s Cheese festival was meant to be great fun. However, we missed the parade by going a day early because I misread the schedule. We did our best to see what else the Cheese Festival had to offer, including a “cow milking contest.” I’m really glad we didn’t miss that, though the crowds were rowdy for such a natural diversion.

Over the succeeding years, when attempting fall family fun, we’ve encountered a variety of implausible, if not completely unavoidable difficulties.

Naturally, the unexpected activities we engage in when everything else has gone awry have become central to our shared good times. If there is any fun to be had, we find it together.


Cows on parade

2009: It begins—all went well, leading us to believe that a delightful day in the country was well within our grasp.

2010: Our First Cheese Fest: Unclear who discovered this gem—we loved it, and vowed to return. There was the occasional oddity, like cows in the parade and a woman handing me her child, but it was largely a win.

2010: All Seasons Orchard—no apples! We might have expected too much fun from one autumn.

2011: Kuiper’s farm, a bad year for apples, but at least there were a few. Sadly, cider was also in short supply: only small cups of cider, no gallons for sale.

2012: Cheese Fest: We went a day early (my fault) and missed the parade. A stunning blow.

kristam (2)

The ultimate photo “shoot,” as there’s a pumpkin gun down field aiming at their heads.

2013: Jonamac Orchard, a good outing, despite the fact that during the “piano in a field” photo, Kris & Tammy narrowly escaped being killed by a flying pumpkin.

2014: Cheese Fest, the Centennial. The Boy Scout grilled cheese is sadly absent, and we were forced to make some bad dairy choices, see “Jumbo Chocolate and Ice Cream Plate”


Postcard happy

That brings us up to date.

This year’s attempt at fall fun was marred, once again, by a surreal obstacle.

When I arrived to pick up the rental car, I was quite dumbfounded to discover that though my reservation existed, the car did not. There were no cars, nor would be, for the next several hours.

No apples in the orchard. No cars at the car rental agency.

This year’s autumnal outing has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 17th

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.


Back in the Winter of 2011/12, my wife and a number of our Oak Park neighborhood friends got together for a night of wine and sewing. During that now mythical evening, my wife Jenny, and her good friend Cheryl Munoz starting having a serious discussion about local foods, healthy eating and co-ops.  One of them said something to the effect of, ‘why don’t we have a

The mythical start

The mythical start

co-op in Oak Park?’, and the other one said something along the lines of, ‘I don’t know’? After a couple more glasses of Dionysian bliss, the two decided to rectify the situation. They were going to open a co-op in our town. It would be known as The Sugar Beet.

But, there was one big problem.  How do you open a co-op?  Well, the answer turned out to be multi-faceted.

The first step was to let the community know their plans, and try to get others on board.  Cheryl and Jenny, and many other volunteers did this by showing up each week at our local Farmers’ Market, meeting neighbors, handing out info, talking shop and just as importantly, getting to know the farmers.  The Sugar Beet was a dream of locavores, and local farmers and local businesses would be key to the co-op’s success.

Luckily, the second step was easy. We are lucky enough to have a lot of smart, and influential friends who have expertise in a variety of areas central to starting a business.  Cheryl herself had a background in food service, and event-planning;  Jenny is an English Professor, with great people skills and an infectious optimistic outlook.  But, the Sugar Beet was obviously going to be a project that needed the assistance of many others.  With Cheryl and Jenny at the head, meeting images (1)people and getting others involved, it did not take long for the co-op to go from dream, to possible reality. Cheryl’s husband Anthony is a graphic designer, and right off the bat, he dedicated his prodigious talents to giving the Sugar Beet a stylized image. T-Shirts with his designs began to be sold, and they started to pop-up all over town.  Other friends worked in real estate (helping to find where the co-op may be located), architecture (what it would eventually look like) and city government (assisting in the rocky shoals of licenses, taxes, etc.)  It quickly became obvious that the Sugar Beet was not just a handful of local moms and dads wanting healthy food for their kids.  Thousands of local friends, neighbors and colleagues were pushing for the Sugar Beet to take off.  And, take off it did.

By summer 2013, the process was getting so complex that Jen started to back away. Of course she still supported and helped in whatever way she could, but she began to realize things were getting too specialized from the business side of things; sometimes getting out of the way is the best move to make. Cheryl, on the other hand was still the tireless leader and true heart of the Sugar Beet. She carried on with a million small and large projects to reach co-op completion.

By 2014 the Sugar Beet had a physical space.  It was going to be located in a beautiful store front in the heart of Oak Park. Things were really moving now. During the last twelve months a wonderful staff was hired, and the Sugar Beet team started to set the place up. Every day the co-op was becoming more and more real.

On July 30th, 2015, the Sugar Beet opened it’s doors. To describe it as beautiful doesn’t do it justice. I am not just referring to the physical environment of the shop (though it really is physically stunning: see video).  No, I mean it is beautiful because of the fulfillment of so many dreams. The Sugar Beet was the shared goal of my community members, of my friends and of my family.  As I walked through the sliding doors that opening day, and saw so many friends, so many shoppers buying good, healthy, often local food, I had a huge foolish smile on my face. It was satisfaction mixed with pure joy.

So, come on down to the Sugar Beet Co-op! Buy some great local beer, or some delicious local sausage, or some hilariously named local soap.  My community, my friends and my family will thank you!


Posted: September 18, 2015 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty
All cultures possess fascinating moon lore, revealing as much about human nature as any tales can.

Perceiving the moon as feminine, Greek Artemis or Roman Diana, seems perfectly appropriate. Compared to the steady, often overwhelming sun, the moon is elegant, mutable, complex: sometimes nearer, sometimes farther. If the sun rides in a chariot across the sky, surely the moon dances through her spheres.

Songs celebrating and lamenting the power of the moon might make a perfect melancholy play list, (oh, look: NASA beat me to it). The moon appears set apart in the night sky, solemn in Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, or wistful as in Neko Case’s I Wish I Was the Moon.

936full-a-trip-to-the-moon-posterAmong the first films is 1902’s A Trip to the Moon (French: Le Voyage dans la Lune), Georges Méliès’ 1902 gem of cinematic innovation and storytelling genius. Meanwhile, the 1987 film Moonstruck offered the revelation that “Love don’t make things nice, it ruins everything, it breaks your heart, it makes things a mess,” a truth which, for me, persists.

We look, every morning, to see the state of the sky, the sun, constant—quite fortunately so. But in the enveloping night, the moon, over the course of her phases, wears a variety of faces. The moods of the moon enhance its appeal.

The moon appears to mirror the vagaries of romantic fates. Love changes, too, over days and weeks and months, sometimes, like the moon, love seems so wonderfully full, other times, only a delicate crescent of silver, and love can seem to fade completely, only to renew itself once more.

At the end of the month, September 27, 2015, there will be a supermoon and a lunar eclipse on the same night—encompassing two opposite manifestations of the moon. In hours, we can observe the movement from the brightest the moon can appear to the darkest. Talk about changeable!

moon phases
The moon is no longer unknowable. Space exploration has solved the problem of what the moon is made of (sadly, not cheese). NASA certainly knows everything there can be known about the moon.

Still, art and culture navigate the wide expanse between knowing and understanding; traversing the distance between what we can discern and what we can feel. Thus, in myths and poems, dances and songs, painting and films, the moon remains as mysterious and otherworldly as love.

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty. 

I was so sad to hear that Comedy Central’s wonderful skit show Key & Peele will be ending this year.  The two comedians have done some amazing work over the last five years. I really can’t pinpoint their funniest sketch as there are so many good ones, but, as a teacher, I must say the ‘Teachingcenter’ skit from a couple weeks ago needs to be in contention for that honor. Have a look:

Key & Peele’s message is clear. Our society is obsessed with overgrown boys and girls who play games.  We follow their every victory, every defeat and every scandal from the edge of our seats.  So many of these men and women are living a life of decadence, paid millions upon millions of dollars, and we don’t bat an eye. In fact, we cheer them on and defend them if they are part of our ‘team’.  At the same time, large segments of our nation complain incessantly about teachers if they make more than 40,000 dollars a year since they ‘get the summer off’.  Key & Peele are critiquing such social absurdity. They are doing what good comedians do; critiquing societal norms with some dead-on, feel-good humor.

Now, I don’t want this to become too political.  I don’t want to make the argument here that teachers should get paid more (they should), or that athletes should get paid less (they should.) I also don’t want to touch on teacher unions, violence in sports, our nation’s cult of celebrity, or anything else that may lead to some red-faced readers….

No, I just want to copy Key & Peele. I want to give a shout out to teachers. This may seem self-serving since I am a university teacher, but I am not trying to blow my own horn. I really want this post to focus upon a much more difficult position: the K-12 teacher.

I have the utmost respect for these folks. This respect stems from having two elementary aged girls. Of course I love my girls, but I would be lying if I said they were perfect angels. Having them home all day, fighting with elementaryteacher_12529100-655x280each other over the most mundane things can get on my last nerve.  So, I simply can’t imagine how difficult it must be having 20 to 25 such children in an often cramped classroom. How do teachers control such an environment for 8 hours a day, five days a week? I really don’t know. But in happens every day all over this nation. And what is more, teachers so often do this magic trick with a smile. I know my girls’ teachers do. Not surprisingly then, the kids constantly let me and my wife know that they LOVE school. Why do they love school? That one is easy; they LOVE their teachers.  And, their teachers love them.  You can see that at the end of each tiring, trying day when the teachers greet the parents with a laugh and a nod. As a parent, and as a teacher, this 3pm send off repeatedly leaves me in reverential awe.

So, raise your glasses to the K-12 teachers! Key & Peele are right; they are the true superstars!


Posted: September 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

On the first day teaching any course, I begin with this hand-drawn schematictpp

I approach all learning this way. The rest of life is rather messy, but classroom learning moves at the pace I want it to, in the direction I want it to, for at least the first ten minutes. Thus, in those first ten minutes, I essentially describe the only thing I believe to be absolutely true about learning.

Theory-Process-Product embodies all.

Theory—all we know about a thing, which may not be much: the combination of experience, however flawed, and abstract understanding, the concepts, the ephemeral (and consequently perfect) ideas associated with any discipline or action. Theory remains intangible, and misleadingly simplistic.

albert-einstein-balanceBegin with something easy, like riding a bike: how hard can it be?

No problem, in theory. The complexities do not arise until you have to do it.

Cue Process (practice, if you like). The doing. Entering into the thing itself: excruciating. Freakishly difficult considering that in theory this (whatever it is) shouldn’t be that tough. In actuality, when practice happens, where process occurs, chaotic. We muddle through practice. The process of doing something becomes complicated by a thousand unknown factors, and we just have to do our best. I recently told my sister I was just pretending to get by, something adults feel alarmingly often. In response, she said something truly smart, “Pretending is good because you are practicing something good.” Herein lays reassurance, and a lovely echo of Kurt Vonnegut’s reminder that “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” It might all be a convincing forgery.

Nevertheless, we should endeavor to enjoy the process itself. The joy of doing transforms practice into something else entirely. People in the midst of something they do well, musicians, athletes, thinkers, are marvelous to watch; they are in a state that has been described as “flow.” However, it takes years of practice, totaling 10,000 hours, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, before the gates to flow open. A child pounding away at a piano cannot imagine hours in the future when a beautiful escape will be available through 88 keys. See the historical example of Henry Adams “at past 50 solemnly and painfully learned to ride a bicycle.” In “Plug in to Your Hard-wired Happiness,” speaker Srikumar Rao wisely reminds us to invest in the process. Pursuits we approach with confidence are naturally more enjoyable, but bravely trying something for the first time—rousing ourselves, surprising ourselves with what we can achieve—extraordinary.

Product—the outcome of process. The thing created: the artifact, the result, whether temporary or permanent. This, combined with the extent to which our process succeeded or failed is what we have as tangible evidence of our efforts. I warn my students that quite often product is distressingly bad. I ask them how often they have been “armchair quarterbacks” yelling at the TV screen because of a missed play. Even with advanced theory and rigorous practice, sometimes things just don’t turn as planned, professional quarterbacks are frequently intercepted (ah-hem, Cutler). Just as the earliest definition of essay came from the French “to try,” after having written something imperfect (always), I have at least created something where once there was nothing, and I have learned something new; knowledge I pack up and take back to theory. Knowing only a fraction more than I did before, I return to the start and begin again.

Many things, much more complicated than riding a bicycle still elude me.  It is always helpful to imagine that having done anything at all is a success, as it reveals a new path to follow, according to James Joyce’s definition, “mistakes are our portals of discovery.” We make our feeble attempts. We enter into the fray, we make our way.

Such is the cyclical, unending, reassuring, infuriating nature of how little we can know, and the importance of practice, and the necessity of accepting even our meager results.

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

Every night before bed I read at least two books to my girls. I have been doing this since they were born.  As such, I have become a bit of connoisseur of children’s books.  Like every other area of literature, some books are good and some are 51Ny20bi-eLnot so good (I’m looking at you Rainbow Magic Series!). I have my favorites, and sometimes, but not always, these favorites are the same as my daughters.

As they have grown their tastes have changed and so have mine.  At this point of fatherhood, I think I can safely say the worst genre are the books intended for the smallest of babies. These books can be cute, but there are only so many times you can read ‘Goodnight Moon’ by Margaret Wise Brown, or ‘The Going to Bed Book’, by Sandra Boynton before you want to scream.  Luckily the toddler books are a bit better.  The ‘Olivia’ books by Ian Falconer, ‘Madeline’ by Ludwig Behelmans, and Jon Muth’s ‘Zen Shorts’ were some of our favorites.

Finally, in the last couple years we have started with chapter books.  We’ve completed some classics, such as Roald Dahl’s ‘James and the Giant Peach’, and E.B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’. But most commonly these days we read more recently published series. Usually these series have female protagonists, such as ‘Judy Moody’ by Megan McDonald, ‘Nancy Clancy’ by Jane O’Connor and Annie Burrows’ ‘Ivy and Bean’. All three of these sets are pretty enjoyable, but I highly doubt the ‘Ivy and Bean’ or ‘Judy Moody’ books will have the same classic cache as the works of E.B. White. Most are just a bit too formulaic to live on beyond one generation of kids.

imagesStill, there is something incredible about children’s books nowadays. In one way at least, modern books have a leg up on the works of Dahl and White. Though perhaps not as strong in the area of story-telling, the newer books seem to be more pedagogical.  I have noticed that many books written during the last decade deliberately, though not obviously or annoyingly, attempt to assist children in growing a large vocabulary.

Let me give you just the latest example from our nightly readings:

During the last week, the girls and I have been reading a book called ‘Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible.’  Yes, it is not exactly Dickens or Hemingway, but it is a pretty fun read. Plowing through it, I have been awed by the number of college-level words sprinkled within an elementary school level book.  Here are just a couple of examples of words that forced my girls to ask, ‘what does that word mean’ as we were reading:

  • Ethereal.
  • Melancholy
  • Deportment
  • Praetor
  • Cower
  • Thwarted
  • Crone
  • Blighted
  • Snit
  • Haughtily
  • Dubiously

And this list is just from a quick glance through the book as I sit at my keyboard. I think it is realistic to say that there is a ‘vocab’ word each page or 618dqurp5PL._SX386_BO1,204,203,200_so.

So why the change from those old classics?  Well, I think authors of children’s books have an understanding of how important reading and hearing words are to developing the minds of children.  As I mentioned in a post a couple years ago, ‘it has been estimated that children who have parents that read books to them  will have heard 30 million more words in their lives by the time they start school than those that have non-reading parents.’  If this is the case, why not use as many words as possible?  Instead of ‘witch’, why not use ‘crone’; instead of ‘run-down’, why not use ‘blighted’; instead of ‘sad’, why not use ‘melancholy’?

At the very least, it keeps us parents on our word-definition toes.

The Water’s Fine

Posted: August 19, 2015 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty


North Avenue Beach, August 2015

I began swimming right around the time I started to walk. My first swimming pool was at the entry to nearby subdivision; here, I encountered my lifelong love water. I swim about once a week. Nine months a year, I have the extraordinary pleasure of biking to and from the public pool in my neighborhood. If you have not done that lately, I cannot recommend it enough. In the winter, I welcome the joy of shedding layers of clothes and releasing the cold-weather hunch from my shoulders.

The physical demands of swimming laps require focus: breathing and counting. Best of all, swimming makes sending an email or text, or checking in on social media quite impossible.

The laps I complete approach meditation. I swim, I think, I count, I turn, I extend with my arms and propel with my legs, I float. I cannot be concerned with much more than my movements and the way the water embraces me.

Throughout life, I have ventured into fresh and salt water bodies, all the while relishing a singular connection with the natural world.

I swam in Hinckley Reservoir as a child, the lake near Centerville Mills Summer Camp, and Lake Erie off my big brother’s boat, and this past summer I swam Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. Rivers have welcomed me, too, Mohican and Tippecanoe.


Clearwater Beach, Florida

I swam once a week in the Gulf of Mexico from Clearwater Beach the year I lived in Tampa, Florida.

I swam in the Atlantic Ocean during a Spring Break trip to The Florida Keys, a visit to my Uncle George’s apartment in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a post-grad school trip Bermuda. While in Ireland, I dipped my feet in the north Atlantic, which according to legend, means I will return there someday.

I encountered the powerful water of the Pacific off the coast of Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, realizing that the cautionary advice from my tour guides was well-founded.

Ease in water is a lifelong gift granting access to alien atmosphere like none other. More importantly, knowing how to swim can offer some protection from the hazards.

I recently had the pleasure of encouraging my friend and her daughter to swim in Lake Michigan. After some initial reluctance, we frolicked all afternoon, getting happily knocked down by wave after wave.1280px-Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2

Water possesses a truly awesome power, made evident when the waves grow from inviting to foreboding, or flood waters rise. A reverence for the astonishing power emerges in those intimately acquainted with water; a close relationship deepens the respect.

Entering water, walking or jumping, plunging or diving, means entering into a wholly other physical space, an utterly transformative sensation. Movement changes; speed and sound follow different rules.

Standing in front of the ocean has often been described as the utmost awareness of our personal insignificance, but I feel completely connected, entirely myself, one unique life amidst millions of other lives, whether particles of chlorine in a pool, or insects skimming the surface of a lake, or spirited fish flashing around me in the ocean.

People seek escape from ordinary life, longing for the mysterious; all while surrounded by miles over miles of unknown.

Next time your are standing on shore, jump in.

You Are Here

Posted: August 14, 2015 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

Maps are endlessly fascinating: as beautiful as a work of art, as instructive as a book, as engaging as deep conversation.

map4Exquisitely illustrated and saturated with information: cardinal directions, space, distance, colors, shapes, patterns, the best maps are like the finest of all literature: clear, concise, and compelling. Last week, I was confidently led arBritannicaound the Lincoln Park Zoo by a 6-year-old wielding a map.

I encountered the first of many maps in the enormous World Atlas that accompanied the Encyclopedia Britannica that still resides in the family room at my mother’s house. A map inspires inquiry, and rewards it endlessly. Constantly encouraged to “look it up,” I remember pulling out the huge book, laying it open on the carpet, gazing at the countries with awe, wondering what the world might be like so far from home.

Maps are succinct, communicating multiple meanings with the artistic economy of poetry. Whoever decided to designate mountains ^^^ : genius.

I occasionally envy early cartographers, imagine encountering places unknown! How remarkable to attempt to plot the world, only to be continually amazed and astounded. The United States seemed navigable until the explorers ran into the Rocky Mountains. Ken Burns’ excellent documentary about The Lewis and Clark Exhibition provides a necessary reminder that romantic notions of earlier generations are misguided. Throughout the voyage, the air was thick with illness and mosquitoes.

Imaginary lands need maps, too. middle earthThe story of The Hobbit was made more real thanks to the map provided inside the front of the book. Online interactive maps explode with possibility, including this incredible Game of Thrones realm.

“You are here” on directional maps is a tremendous reminder of place, space, and self-centeredness.

Maps invite us to locate ourselves precisely where we are, and then decide—where to next? A destination clarifies things, creates direction, proposes a plan. Maps edify and are here

Locate yourself in space; locate yourself in life.

I am here, in the midst of life, surrounded by possibilities.

A map proposes we can all successfully navigate our world. We just have to know where we are and where we want to go.

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

The other day, I made a commitment. Since I will be teaching a Civil War history course in the Fall, I wanted to take a look at the over 4 hour, seriously mini-series-esqe 1939 Hollywood classic Gone With Wind. Yep. Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, gone_with_the_wind_smTara Plantation and all that jazz.  It may seem strange, but I had never seen the film.  Since Gone With Wind is probably the most famous, and most watched Civil War film ever made, I figured I better spend some time viewing it to see what all the fuss is about, and to see if the movie had any classroom usage.

I must admit, I came into this experience with some prejudices.  Though I had never seen it, I knew that Gone falls between the poles of beloved pop-culture icon, and disturbing Hollywood racism.  On the icon side, lines such as ‘Frankly My Dear, I don’t give a damn,’ and ‘As God as my witness, I’ll never go hungry again’ are part of movie lore.  However, you can only romanticize so much. Gone is now famous, or perhaps infamous is a better term, for it’s racism. Racial caricatures are central to the film.

I knew this going in. Coming out the other side, I was even more disturbed than I thought I might be.

First, I want to say that I am no movie critic.  However, I thought the film was really

pretty atrocious.  I have watched films from ‘Hollywood’s Golden Age’ and I would have to say Gone is not one that really holds up well to the modern viewer. I will be honest, I got through about 3 hours, and I had had enough.

But, perhaps the early turn off had to do with the level of offensiveness in the film? Even though I realized the film was racially insensitive, I had no idea just how obscene it really was.

Obscenity may seem like a strange word to use when talking about Gone. The word itself is usually still regarded as a descriptive term of sex or smut, and Gone is lacking in those regards. However, as French historian Joan DeJean pointed out in 2002, the word ‘obscene’ has begun to take on a different connotation in our society.

Of late, obscene seems to be moving beyond the meaning it slowly acquired in early modern French — ‘immodest’, ‘indecent’ — and to be taking on two new meanings: first, any subject that we find hard to look at and therefore do not want to see represented….; second, as a semantic catchall for actions we consider morally indecent.’

And, just like all words, ‘swear words’ change over time.  As Melissa Mohr illustrated in her extremely interesting book, Holygone-with-the-wind-shouldnt-be-romanticized Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, the most taboo words in our society are no longer words to describe sexual acts, or bodily functions. Instead, over the last twenty years, racial epitaphs have become the unholy of unholies. Racialized attack language has the power to disgust, anger and enrage. It has the ability to destroy friendships, get people fired, or ruin political careers. The obscene of today is open outspoken racism.

By this definition, Gone With the Wind is incredibly obscene.  As mentioned, caricatures of African-Americans abound in the film. Black men and women are depicted as fools, cowards and buffoons. Related, and just as disturbing is the historical mythology the film furthers using such stereotypes. The bold-faced lie that African-Americans were happy-go-lucky simpletons who stayed with their masters gladly after emancipation, or gullible tools of aggressive white northerners has a long sordid history. Gone reinforced these harmful, hateful myths for American film goers in the 1930’s. Even more disturbingly, many historically illiterate Americans still undoubtedly accept the film’s depictions of race-relations as truth. With this in mind, you can understand why Chuck D would sing ‘Burn, Hollywood, Burn’.

And, if it’s obscene racism is not enough, the outright sexism in the film is nearly as disturbing.  The women in Gone are depicted as foolish children who need to be told what to do. They sit at home waiting for their men to come home from war, twiddling their thumbs and crying into their pillows. Once their men return, all life has meaning again. Of course, if they get too uppity, such as Scarlett, they need to be knocked down. Rhett will take care of that.

As I watched this horror-show, all I could think was, ‘my goodness, I don’t want to let my girls see this.’  My daughters are 8 and 6 respectively, and this is the type of obscenity I want them to avoid until they are older.  But, oh, the irony!  Gone With The Wind is a ‘classic’. It’s not late night TV for mature audiences only.  Heck, I am sure a great deal of Americans would think the film wholesome.

But, it is not. Not at all. It is marked with an obscenity that I don’t want my children to see.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

Travel brings out the best in me; thus, I am deserving of a camera crew, creative editing, fabulous make-up, and wardrobe.

I’m a great traveler, primarily because I am happy one, thanks to my techniques for terrific trips.


In the Rockies

Be impressed

My destinations vary greatly with respect to broad appeal, but every part of the world possesses treasures. Many places are not glamorous, but every corner of the world has something worth seeing.

Act normal

Find a grocery store, a neighborhood park, an independent book store, a coffee shop, a comfortable bar. Those are the places I spend most of my time in my own city, so why not do the same in Boston or Portland?

Talk to strangers

I travel alone as often as I do with others, so I am comfortable staring conversations with friendly-looking strangers, typically asking for recommendations, or often directions. My experience as a waitress and bartender makes me feel at home perched at the end of the bar near the service well, where I can enter into conversation or listen and learn. One memorable conversation was with a man at a gyro stand in Prague. He didn’t speak English and I don’t know Czech, but we shared horrible French skills and spoke for a while, just impressed we could understand each other at all.

Seek the unique

As globalization builds, the opportunity for experiences that can’t be replicated holds immense appeal. Local charm is why high-priced airfare is still a good buy.


Parade for The Aquatennial in Minneapolis

My penchant for parades is just an extension of my desire to get to know a place by celebrating their local identity with them. Drink wine in Sonoma; watch orcas in Puget Sound; stroll the Promenade des Anglais in Nice; groove at The Continental Club in Austin; eat beignets at Café du Monde; drink in a beer garden in Munich.

Visit new places


Dock in the San Juan Islands, Washington

The world is vast, and as my friend, Tammy, recently pointed out, we can expect at best three new destinations each year, and maybe forty more years of active traveling, which means there are only 100 new places in life I might still get to see (unless I win the lottery). Better get going!

Get around

Navigating a new city via public transit, on foot, and, recently, by bicycle remains a rewarding challenge. There’s no better way to get a sense of a place than to wander, or even get lost. A trusty paper map is a good beginning, but a two-night stay in Vienna taught me to always consider a sense of scale.

Start early

My status as an “early riser” is firmly rooted in my family tree, so I don’t bother fighting it. On vacation, I wake up early and am frequently the first person anywhere. Last year while visiting Seattle, I got to Pike Place Market before many of the vendors. Bonus: shorter lines!

Pack light

I bring what I can carry. I find it easy to abide by the one-bag limit on the seriously going-to-charge-for-everything Spirit airlines. I wear dresses and add layers. I accessorize with scarves (of course!) which can make a similar outfit look different or used as a shirt or skirt. I stick to the two pairs of shoe rule. As my friend, Ivor’s sweet Irish mother used to say with regard to fashion, “Ah, sure, who’ll be looking at ya?”

native am

This gallery of handcrafted Native American art has existed in Santa Fe for 150 years. I will shop here.

Don’t waste time shopping

When I travel, I seek out things that are distinctive to the area; this means no strip malls. No malls whatsoever, if they can be avoided. My recent trip to Minneapolis did not include a stop at the Mall of America. Unique it may be, but I suspect it is just as soulless as any other mall I’ve ever visited. I am not a shopper. Unless it’s a local market with history and style along the lines of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, I’ll pass.

Do it on the cheap

I may spend a bit more for special meals or once-in-a-lifetime excursions; however, I won’t spend a ridiculous amount of money on any one thing. A round-trip ferry to the Aran Islands is still only 25 Euro, so I cannot be convinced to get the $75 lamb entrée.

Bring it home

Life-charging travel adds spark to daily life. Anything that’s worth doing on vacation is worth making a part of daily life, too!

My travel-savvy I might stems from my deep and abiding love for this big, beautiful world, and my close friends assure me that my travel photos and planned excursions are all tailor-made for engaging TV.

Someone better tell Rick Steves to watch his back.