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The Weekly Blab

The Weekly Blab

Volume 6, Issue 21—February 15, 2012


Running Late This Week…

Between one thing and another, I’m running late this week with the Blab.  Normally I compose it on Sunday or Monday night, and send it out on Tuesday, but things have been jammed up and I just couldn’t get to it until Wednesday night.  C’est la guerre. 

Life hasn’t been good for Chelsea—another loss, this time 2-0 to Everton.  They’re still in the FA cup and that looks OK (though Liverpool is in it too, and may be the team to beat).  I don’t think Chelsea’s coach will survive the season, but only time will tell.

The comic book tally reached 20,500 this weekend, with DC comics now complete.  I won’t know the final tally until a few weeks from now at the soonest, but brilliant secretary Debbie suggested I have a pool for anyone who wants to make a guess as to the final total.  I’ll make it a special prize for the one who guesses the closest without going over.  My advice is guess high—we still have the Marvels, Dells, Archies, and other Independent comics to go—but none of them individually is as large as the DC’s.  Or maybe the Independents are—I’m not sure.  Anyway, email me your best guess, and the winner will get something good.


Cross-Cultural Conversations

The Cross-cultural events meeting this past Tuesday went very well.  The turnout was excellent—we indeed needed that larger room for the more than 30 there—and there were plenty of department chairs, faculty, staff, and students present.  Multiple additional people sent their regrets, saying they wanted to be there but had a time conflict of one sort or another.

Really interesting for me were the various comments that some folks made when emailing me to let me know if they were coming.  Several mentioned that they had hoped SPSU would do more to celebrate the diversity in our community, and several mentioned that they had planned or were currently involved in efforts in this direction.  To me, that says something wonderful about our community, and its desire for inclusiveness. 

First up at the meeting was a meet and greet, with each person introducing themself, telling the group their role at SPSU, and telling why they were interested in being on this committee.  There were an interesting variety of responses, ranging from diverse personal backgrounds, to wanting to learn about other cultures, to simple intellectual interest.  We then discussed how we might move forward toward an eventual goal of having a robust calendar of events—some celebratory, some intellectual, some challenging—at the beginning of each year.  One of the issues that came up was that in some previous efforts, the turnout has been less than spectacular.  We talked about how we could engage more of our faculty, staff, and students in both encouraging and audience and coming themselves.  This is a problem on lots of campuses—really good activities, but people feeling that they are too busy or just not having enough buy-in to attend.  Hopefully, we’ll do better.

The homework assignment was for each person to identify one cross-cultural activity that either we are doing now or should be doing that would really be important to them, and to identify a strategy we are using to promote such activities that is working well, could work better, or not being used (that should be).  The responses should be interesting and informative.  Our next meeting will be on February 28 at 2PM.  If you’re interested and couldn’t attend the last one, I hope you will be able to attend this one.


And Speaking of Diversity…

I attended two interesting exhibits currently on the SPSU campus, and I recommend you take a look too, if you haven’t already done so.  The first is housed in the Architecture gallery in Building N, and is an exhibit called “Celebrate Africa” consisting of a wide range of paintings, tapestries, and sculptures.  Some are quite classical, and others are contemporary.  There is wide range of styles and media on display.  Thanks go to Chief Tunde of the Africa Heritage Foundation (with which SPSU has an MOU for working on projects of mutual interest, of which this is the first) for bringing this exhibit, originally associated with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, to SPSU.  Big thanks also to Michael Carroll and Ed Atkins (both Architecture) for doing a fine job curating this massive exhibit.

This exhibit is just one of a range of activities at SPSU for Black History Month.  There are lots of other events still on tap, including a talk about Sickle Cell Anemia (Feb. 16, 12-2 PM, A-160), a presentation on Black Engineers and Technology Leaders with NSBE guest speaker Isaiah Brown (Feb. 21, A-160, 7-9 PM), a NSBE panel discussion (Feb. 22, Ballroom, 12-1 PM), a talk on “Where Has the Civil Rights Movement Gone” (Feb. 22, A-160, 7-9 PM).

By the way, a speech on the topic of “Celebrate Africa” will be given on Friday (Feb. 17) at 10:30 AM in the Building I-2 (Architecture Design II) auditorium.  I’ll be there, and hope you will be too.

If you come a little early, or stay a little late, you can also see the second exhibit I saw, which came to SPSU from the Istanbul Center.  It’s in Building I-2 and consists of a small series of panels detailing the communal life of Ladino Jews.  For those who are unfamiliar, Ladino is a language that has Castilian Spanish and Hebrew origins, traditionally spoken by Jews in Spain, Turkey, and Greece.  As it turns out, I mentioned this exhibit to my mother, and she informed me that my grandfather Bela’s mother was a Ladino Jew, who’s family likely came from Greece or Turkey.  So, this exhibit turns out to represent at least 12.5% of my own background.   

The Ladino language is dying out, but its music is enjoying a strong revival.  If you want to hear a Ladino Chanukah song (and who wouldn’t?), there’s one called “Ochos Kandelikas” (eight little candles) on Youtube in multiple versions (including rap!).  The one I was familiar with is by a wonderful group called Pink Martini (every album by them is great).  Because the world is a funny place, the poster of the video going along with it wrote:  “I love that song no matter what the lyrics r talking about. I love the pink martini album “Joy to the world” and given that all the songs are talking about xmas, I supposed it was a Christmas song. So, m really sorry about the inconsistency btw lyrics and images.”  Another Ladino song, “Adio Querida” (good-bye beloved), by the fabulous Ofra Haza, can be found here.  The beginning is an instrumental, and the singing starts at about 4:45 into the video.  Talk about cross-cultural—Ofra Haza is an Israeli singer from Yemen, who sings in Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, and Ladino, among others.  Yasmin Levy is another wonderful Ladino singer, who by an astonishing coincidence is appearing at Georgia State University this Saturday night.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be attending.

A couple of other cross-cultural events on this month are the International Film Series presentation of “La Historia Oficial”, a film from Argentina, on Feb. 28 from 6-8 PM in Q-202; and the first in this year’s International Forum Lecture Series, which is on “Trade and Security in East Africa”, on Feb. 29 at 12-1 PM in the I-2 auditorium.  Check the calendar on the webpage for more events forthcoming.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s challenge dealt with miscellaneous trivia.  The winner was Trish Buchanan (Marketing) with a respectable 2.5 correct.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Queen Elizabeth II is the second longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.  Who is the longest?  Queen Victoria.  In a few years, QEII will pass her.
  2. What is the origin of the word “testify”?  The origin is from what part of the anatomy a Roman soldier held when he gave testimony.
  3. Name one of the two national monuments in the United States that is mobile.  The cable cars in San Francisco, or the streetcars in New Orleans.
  4. The second-to-last object is called the penultimate object.  What’s the third-to-last one called?  the antepenultimate
  5. What famous musician’s mother invented liquid paper?  Michael Nesmith of the Monkees.


This Week’s Trivia Contest

This week’s trivia challenge is about newspaper comic strips.  No looking up the answers now!  Don’t forget to enter the “how many comic books are in the collection” contest!

  1. What is Blondie’s husband’s name?
  2. Only character in Peanuts with a candy named after her.
  3. Every fall, Crankshaft finds a new way to blow this up.
  4. Dennis the Menace’s mother’s name.
  5. Beetle Bailey is this comic strip character’s cousin (and she’s not in the Beetle Bailey strip).