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Showing posts from August, 2017

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…

What Does Your State Hate?

I'm a little offended, Indiana. Apparently, you hate bloggers.

I'm a blogger!

I lived in Indiana for 45 years, made my career out of blogging, and yet my home state hates bloggers? I even blogged for the state of Indiana, for crying out loud!

I guess I can't take it too personally. Massachusetts hates Eli Manning as an individual. There are 6.8 million people in Massachusetts and apparently they all hate Eli Manning. My state just hates people who do my job.

But Eli isn't the only one who has a whole state hate him. South Carolina hates Edward Snowden, Delaware hates Casey Affleck, and the entire state of Florida hates workout couples.

I can get behind that last one. People need privacy when they're sweating, grunting, and accidentally farting.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania hates people who use money clips, and Kentucky hates people who ask you to help them move. Both are odd things to hate, but not as weird as Missouri's hatred of people who believe in aliens.

Peopl…

The Debate of the Ages: Cake or Pie?

Hey Karl, cake or pie?

"There's pie?" asked Karl. "Never mind, I'm on Atkins right now. So, no carbs."

No, there's no pie, I said. Just answer the question: cake or pie?

"If there's no pie, then why are you even asking?" Karl plonked his beer on the bar. We were at First Editions for a slam poetry tournament. Kurt knew a few of the competitors so he made me come to this little struggle of the sonnets.

I didn't quite understand what was happening. How can poetry be competitive? And why was everyone snapping?! I've never quite understood poetry, and the snapping just made it worse.

It's a simple question, Karl. Which is better, cake or pie?

"Kid, of all the idiotic questions you've asked me, that has to be the idiotic-est. There are so many more important things we could discuss, and instead you give me 'cake or pie.'" Karl waved at Kurt to bring two more beers. "I don't want to even dignify that w…

My Application for NASA Planetary Protection Officer

Dear NASA,

Our planet is a fragile orb in a hostile galaxy. We face threats both here on Earth — climate change, the lizard people who live at the center of the planet, plastic grocery bags — as well as threats from "out there."

Whether it's asteroids, alien invaders, or the monster from "Cloverfield," we are rather vulnerable, given our reliance on 20th-century technology and a child's understanding of the threat that aliens present.

But a steady diet of movies, old Omni magazine reprints, and TBS' new comedy hit, "People Of Earth," I'm well aware of the lurking menace we face.

To that end, please find my application for the brand new post of Planetary Protection Officer at NASA.

I feel I would make a perfect candidate for the position, because of my varied experiences in planetary protection studies. My résumé is attached, but I would like to draw your attention to a few important details.

First, I have an outstanding record playing Space…