The first documentary produced about Erma Bombeck’s life premiered before 350 writers at last weekend’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. ”Erma Bombeck: A Legacy of Laughter” sparked laughter, tears and some guilt from the mostly female audience. One writer asked if the kids ever felt like they were intruding on their mom while she wrote. “She used to lock herself in her office, and we’d slip notes — lots of notes — under the door. I don’t know. It didn’t seem like neglect,” said Betsy Bombeck to laughter.
Narrated by talk show pioneer and former neighbor Phil Donahue, the half-hour documentary will air on more than 270 public television stations, more than 90 percent of the nation’s television markets.
What kind of grapes are in a cabernet sauvignon? How do you even pronounce that? These questions and many others are answered in Tom Davis’ wine tasting class, a Monday night course with a waiting list. With Wine for Dummies as the textbook, this is no ordinary class.
Each week 65 students learn everything there is to know about wine, from how to correctly open the bottle to the origin of the grapes within. A recent homework assignment included visiting a wine store, a task no one complained about.
“Tom Davis and his wine tasting course are truly among UD’s most valuable treasures,” said Susan Byrnes, director of ArtStreet and a student in the course. “The class is both spiritual and scientific, full-bodied with the spice of life.”
Davis, a professor in the School of Business Administration, has been teaching the art of wine tasting for more than six years.
The half-semester course will end with a formal dinner that will include a tasting of more than 20 wines and gourmet food from Kennedy Union to show the great combinations wine and food can make. Swirling, sniffing and sipping are all just part of the class.
What makes good humor?
A keen punch line:
“The Rose Bowl is the only bowl I’ve ever seen that I didn’t have to clean.” — Erma Bombeck
Or maybe a peek at the absurd.
Mark Shatz teased wit from of the brains of attendees at today’s UD Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. His session, “Using Stand-up Principles to Punch-up Humor Writing,” sent participants on a visual journey of the bizarre. Take, for example, bar stool cushions. When asked what else they could be used for, one group shouted out bun covers for Princess Leia’s hair. Another suggested nursing pads for Dolly Parton.
How about humor in opposites?
Shatz dared the crowd to expose the most unlikely people to get body piercings.
The biggest groaner: hemophiliacs.
The most surprising answer: the Amish.
And where would the Amish go to get these body piercings?
One man chimed in: “They’d have to find that needle in a haystack.”
“Amy Lopez and Miryam of Nazareth. What can we say about both these women?” Sister Laura Leming, FMI, asked those who gathered to see Lopez, director of conference services and Kennedy Union, receive the 2006 Miryam Award on March 22. On the list of their gifts and graces, was this: “She is not fearful of other’s power. She acts as if she is a partner in their growth.”
The Miryam Award honors an individual or group for enhancing the climate for women on campus and includes $1,000 to be designated to an area on campus. Lopez will dedicate the money “toward education about the most destructive and prevalent crime affecting college-age women – sexual assault,” she said. “We need to look for creative and successful ways to provide education to our students and staff that goes beyond telling our women how to be safe. We need to provide training to Public Safety and to prioritize sexual assault education for them and for our male students. Our climate will never be welcoming, supportive and Marianist as long as this crime exists in our community.”
Campus trend-spotters, take note. Handmade beaded necklaces are quietly draping the necks of more and more employees across campus.
The hands that make them belong to Chris McCann, records auditor in the office of the registrar. The hands that sell them are her coworker’s, Rosey Terzian. The hands and bodies and minds that benefit from them belong to children attending a Marianist-run school in Nairobi, Kenya.
All proceeds of the necklaces, which sell for between $7 and $20, benefit Our Lady of Nazareth, a school of 1,500 children ages 5 to 14 run by Father Marty Solma, S.M. ’71. (Solma describes the school in this video.)
McCann didn’t have sales or Solma in mind when she took up beading just before this past Christmas. In fact, she didn’t want the trouble of selling them, Terzian’s suggestion, and thought if she could avoid thinking of a charity to support she’d be off the hook.
That’s when her boss, Tom Westendorf, walked by and said, “How about Father Marty?”
In just three weeks of sales, McCann has raised nearly $1,000, almost enough to sponsor two hot meals a day, school uniforms and education for eight children for a year.
Why become an engineer?
“I wanted to be able to make new things to help others as well as myself,” Chris Heitkamp told a room full of third-graders. He and two other first-year chemical engineering students accompanied instructor Beth Hart to Holy Angels School today to teach Erin Wysocki’s students what it means to be an engineer.
After the talk, the students were given a task: create a better backscratcher. First, teams of third-graders sketched their ideas. Next, choosing from craft sticks, dowel rods, pipe cleaners and tape, they built, and rebuilt and rebuilt again.
Finally, they calculated the cost of production, learning that engineers look to balance beauty and cost, function and form when creating a new product.
Erin and Grace used the colorful tape to make their backscratcher pretty. Helen and Ayanna wrapped their handle in red and white pipe cleaners to make it soft to hold. Jacob and Joe made the most expensive creation, reinforcing dowel rods with craft sticks, zip ties and electrical tape.
“Getting kids interested in engineering is very important because we’re declining in the numbers going into engineering,” Heitkamp said.
UD student Jacob Kremer agreed: “And they say if you’re not interested in it before the fifth grade, then you’re not going to go into it.”
Peaking their interest was just what the UD students did. The third-graders didn’t want to part with their creations, agreeing they should stay in the classroom for others to see.
Could be the beginning of a new itch to scratch.
You can imagine my jubilation when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament brackets showed my alma mater (Ohio State) and the team I’ve followed since I was 9 years old (North Carolina) playing in Dayton for the first and second rounds.
After watching Ohio State’s practice session with my 4-year-old twin daughters, I found that the ESPN SportsCenter mentality reaches a young age. One of them said, “Daddy, the Buckeyes practice wasn’t very much fun. All they did was shoot. I liked that Iowa (Northern Iowa) school better. They dunked.”
Although the Friday games were close and my teams won, it was bad basketball. I looked forward to Sunday and watching UNC and OSU advance to the Sweet 16. The aforementioned jubilation came to a screeching halt as both teams lost.
However, I walked away from arena proud that UD put on yet another excellent show for the nation. I heard many complimentary things about UD during the weekend. As my Google news alert e-mails came in fast and furious with mentions of “University of Dayton,” I had to smile at the number of major media outlets who reported the happenings “out here in the sticks.”
Tonight I was able to have fun at UD Arena. We hosted an NCAA play-in game between Hampton and Monmouth universities. I’ve been to several of these games and really enjoyed all of them. Let me explain why.
Usually when I attend, it is to watch our beloved Flyers play in head-to-head competition. But tonight I watched from the onset not caring who won or who lost. Monmouth played better than Hampton, but both teams played with determination and with guts. Monmouth out-gutted Hampton with the help of the boy-monster John Bunch. Big John was working as a ticket-taker at a movie theater (I am not making any of this up) when the wife of a D-III coach attended the movie and asked him if he played basketball (remember the kid is now 7’2″ and weighs 320 pounds). He wound up playing at a D-III for two years and went to Monmouth as a D-I player.
He is not a starter but plays with intensity and heart. His feet are slow, but he employs quick hands. And he seems to have good court vision. Big John blocked shots all night long, and the crowd roared with approval with each block.
I left the Arena with a feel-good feeling after watching a kid who was never in the spotlight excel, and on national TV, when no one ever expected it to happen. His performance was fun to watch. And the best college men’s basketball crowd in America was won to his performance.
And guess what his and his teammates’ prize will be? To play in round one of the NCAA tournament against Villanova. I’ll bet the Monmouth kids don’t care who they play.
(The text is an excerpt of a message Barth sent to a listserv for Flyer fans after the game last night.)
For the student engineers, it was a lesson in process and problem solving. For Hope Daniels, 5, it was a exercise in independence — and feeding herself Cheerios with a fork for the first time.
Last Thursday, first-year engineering students presented their class projects, assistive-eating devices for Hope. The kindergartner with curly blond pigtails and red painted fingernails cannot feed herself using traditional utensils due to arthrogryposis, a condition that limits her ability to bend her joints.
The prototype Hope liked the most was constructed from a colorful erector set and was operated by two processes. First, she moved a spatula to push Cheerios on the plate toward the fork. Next, she pulled on a tennis ball, which raised an arm connected to the fork up to her mouth.
After the students saw the test drive, they asked to take it back and make refinements. Her response: “It’s fine the way it is.” And with a smile, she ate another forkful.
Senior engineering students are also investigating a motorized device that would further assist her. Her mother, Amanda Daniels, approached the School of Engineering after reading a Dayton Daily News article about UD students who previously worked on a similar device for 4-year-old Kailen Carpenter.
“What she does she really has to work for, so making it easier for her would be better, especially with eating,” said the mother, who agreed a motorized solution would be best. “We want to make it as easy as possible for her.”
The seats, the old choir loft and most of the floor space in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception were full the first Sunday of Lent for the 10 a.m. Mass as Little Sibs swelled the congregation. Father Francois Rossier, S.M., of the International Marian Research Institute on campus, welcomed the throng with seasonal humor. Those standing could see that posture as penance; those seated could feel guilt.
His homily was also seasonal. He spoke of Satan, whom Jesus had to face in the desert .
He talked of those who see the figure as an abstraction of evil. He spoke of the Bible, where Satan is very much a person. And he pointed out a detail in the chapel’s statue of the Immaculate Conception: Mary’s heel is crushing the head of the serpent.
He also gave us a Greek lesson. In the New Testament, the verb “symballein” is used but once — of Mary. It means “to bring together.” Tearing things apart, “diaballein,” is the diabolical one, the devil, Satan.
From this language lesson we might learn how to crush the head of evil.