If you squinted real hard, you could see Paul Laurence Dunbar shadowed on the stage curtain, hiding from the spotlight aimed on Herbert Woodward Martin as Martin brought the long-dead poet to life for the UD Arts Series last Thursday in Boll Theatre.
The professor emeritus flitted between characters, alternating commentary in his own voice with the voices of Dunbar’s fiery preacher, nosy granny, proud widow. He pulled colored silk handkerchiefs out of his pockets, props that embodied large matrons in bold hats.
“Someone asked me where I found these voices,” he said. “I found these ladies in the Baptist Church,” but added they can be found populating any “protest-ant” — as he prefers to pronounce it — congregation.
Martin’s tone was also serious. During an extensive post-performance Q&A, Martin noted Dunbar’s genius in elevating the humanity of black Americans. The slave in “When Dey ‘Listed Colored Soldiers” shows empathy for her white mistresses whose men have also gone to war, an emotion they cannot reciprocate.
The education and entertainment was part of Celebrate Dunbar!, public events held in the coming year to honor the nation’s first celebrated African-American poet 100 years after his death. Martin danced around the stage like a devilish child in “Opportunity,” belying the fact he has performed as Dunbar for 33 years and suggests retiring it when the celebration concludes.
As he described another poem, Martin threw a glance up stage. “Dunbar’s standing behind me and he’s saying let you ask the questions if you want to.”
Whatever would we do without you bringing life to the poet and his song?
Each autumn we interview and photograph the students who will “star” in the viewbook, the glossy publication that will be sent to high school juniors next spring and join the stack of similar materials from other universities piling up in kids’ rooms around the country.
So we try to make UD’s viewbook stand out. UD students have so many engaging stories to tell, they make it easy. Take sophomore Lee Lochtefeld, an entrepreneurship and finance major from New Bremen, Ohio.
A student in UD’s Davis Center for Portfolio Management, he’s traveled twice to Manhattan, visited the New York Mercantile Exchange and dropped in on Westina Matthews-Shatteen, a UD alumna and a first vice president at Merrill Lynch. “Dr. Matthews had snacks set out for us in the CEO’s private dining room on the 34th floor,” said Lee, who at 6 foot something, is possibly still growing.
At last year’s RISE symposium, Lee worked on the team charged with welcoming and staffing the VIP keynote presenters. “I know Ben (Bernanke, recently named to succeed Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve chair). He’s a great guy,” Lee said.
Lee also had the job of welcoming H. Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart, to UD for the symposium. The motorcade pulled up outside UD Arena; staff and security scurried around; and Lee extended his hand to greet the head of the world’s largest retailer.
Mr. Scott eyed Lee’s name tag.
“Lee, huh? I like that name,” Scott said.
“Sir, I can only hope it works for me as well as it has for you.”
John Heitmann is restoring a ’71 Porsche 911. Ed Garten drives an Acura TL, a six-speed manual.
That’s the kind of stuff you learn about UD professors if you read AutoWeek. Rich Ceppos, who writes “Life with cars” for AutoWeek, America’s only weekly car magazine, recently visited a class team-taught by Heitmann and Garten — Science, Technology and the Modern Automotive Corporation — and wrote about it in the Oct. 31 issue.
You can also learn there about the Kettering name, that graces UD buildings as well as the history of the automobile. And about the forces identified by Ceppos that have reshaped the auto industry over the last 15 years in what he calls “one amazing ride.”
And you can learn that Heitmann is amazed “there are actually no books about how the car has transformed our culture.”
So Heitmann is writing one.
Halloween is a day that many people think is for little kids. At UD, we like to challenge that notion.
Halloween is for the big kids.
It’s the one night all year when every student competes to see who can look the most ridiculous, who can confuse the most people and who can have the most creative costume of the night.
With Halloween on a Monday this year, many students used this past weekend to show off their creativity and their imaginations. I took to the streets to watch it all unfold.
The neighborhood sidewalks were jammed with Care Bears, cows, pirates and Oompa-Loompas. Every house seemed to be entertaining those students willing to venture into the night, including Indiana Jones. When he stopped to ask me for directions I, of course, could tell him right where he was — I was Carmen Sandiego.
Ballerinas, butterflies and a few Batmen came through St. Mary Hall and other buildings around campus today collecting candy a few days before Halloween. Preschoolers from three Bombeck Family Learning Center classes — the Jets, Voyagers and Explorers — made the rounds, doing what for some of them may be their first trick-or-treating. (The Rocket class will be by later.) Lots of parents with cameras tagged along too as their little ones went from office to office, bags open and filling quickly.
By the time the children get to our office on the fourth floor, their legs are tired and their goodies getting heavy, but they’re still a sight: a pterodactyl here, a little mouse there, cowboys, turtles, wizards and witches. Employees who work in St. Mary’s enjoy it even more than the kids.
If you’re in Dayton this time of year, visit St. Mary’s. We can’t possibly eat all of the leftover candy we have every year, yet somehow we find a way. Please save us from ourselves.
When you look at how Catholicism has been portrayed in American popular films, the spectacle and significance of Vatican II has been largely overlooked.
“It could be the greatest Catholic story ever told. Mise-en-scène, cast of thousands and sets to die for,” religious studies professor Anthony Smith said at a recent UD colloquium.
Smith and colleagues were discussing “Pulp Catholicism: Catholics in American Popular Film,” a chapter Smith is writing for The Columbia History of Catholics in America.
Movies, Smith reasons, have been an arena where Catholics have worked out their relationship with modern America, the place “where Catholic outsiders could negotiate new roles for themselves as American insiders, simultaneously performing their Catholicism and crafting stories and images that spoke to national audiences.”
Catholic images, perspectives and preoccupations in film reached their high point in the mid-20th century, when popular films provided “a new image of Catholics as part of a shared American venture of urban pluralism. Masculine but morally principled priests, endearing and caring nuns, ethnic neighborhoods where decency vied with and ultimately triumphed over criminality were all pieces of the Catholic portrait that movies arranged into a compelling picture.” The best example? Going My Way.
Last Thursday, it was “class in the grass” for Engineering 101 students in adjunct associate professor John Doty’s class.
Well, more like “class in the sky.” Students brought in their homework — rockets fashioned from pop bottles — and competed to see whose rocket would launch the highest. It was a lesson in the relationships between pressure, mass and momentum. But the ultimate goal of the lesson? “Fun,” Doty said.
Fun was also the point of a retrofitted remote control car project, in which student teams swapped bodies, wheels and gears to gain the greatest speed, agility and projectile momentum — which required students to don safety glasses for the final competition.
Back on the launch pad, Tom Wiersma, an undeclared engineering major, came in second with his Christmas-colored rocket, achieved with two empty Sprite bottles and red duct tape.
“We learned Newton’s law and had fun,” he said. “Plus we got to drink lots of pop.”
Two things were obvious this past Friday night: One, basketball is here. Well, almost. Two, Brian Gregory has been keeping his dance moves under wraps for far too long. The season kicked off Friday with a ’70s disco party in the old Fieldhouse. It was “Flyer Madness Disco Ball,” and the players did not disappoint.
They emerged on court in every conceivable kind of pop-culture shorthand for the ’70s: disco mamas, purple velvet-clad hipsters, Kung Fu fighters, you name it. Women’s coach Jim Jabir wore his best James Brown outfit, complete with cape and wig. And men’s coach Brian Gregory? Well, he has to be seen to be believed (see a Quicktime video highlight of the evening here). After changing, players re-emerged for a 3-point shooting contest and a dunk contest. (For winners, more details and photos from the UD athletics department, click here.) The annual intrasquad Red and Blue game is this Saturday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m. in UD Arena, and it ends an hour before the football team kicks off against Valpo next door at Welcome Stadium.