22 April 2009

Now is the time for drinking...

As archeologists inch ever closer to finding the tomb of Cleopatra, take another look at Horace's wonderful Odes I.37, more commonly known as his "Cleopatra Ode." Cleopatra, from the beginning, has been a figure hard to get one's head around.

Notice how, despite its initial hatred toward the prisoner (who's unnatural for any number of reasons, not the least of which is her being a woman) and genuine joy about her capture, by the end the poem reflects a respect for an honorable enemy who faces defeat (well, just like a man).

XXXVII. Nunc Est Bibendum. (translated by John Conington)

Now drink we deep, now featly tread
A measure; now before each shrine
With Salian feasts the table spread;
The time invites us, comrades mine.
'Twas shame to broach, before to-day,
The Caecuban, while Egypt's dame
Threaten'd our power in dust to lay
And wrap the Capitol in flame,
Girt with her foul emasculate throng,
By Fortune's sweet new wine befool'd,
In hope's ungovern'd weakness strong
To hope for all; but soon she cool'd,
To see one ship from burning'scape;
Great Caesar taught her dizzy brain,
Made mad by Mareotic grape,
To feel the sobering truth of pain,
And gave her chase from Italy,
As after doves fierce falcons speed,
As hunters 'neath Haemonia's sky
Chase the tired hare, so might he lead
The fiend enchain'd; SHE sought to die
More nobly, nor with woman's dread
Quail'd at the steel, nor timorously
In her fleet ships to covert fled.
Amid her ruin'd halls she stood
Unblench'd, and fearless to the end
Grasp'd the fell snakes, that all her blood
Might with the cold black venom blend,
Death's purpose flushing in her face;
Nor to our ships the glory gave,
That she, no vulgar dame, should grace
A triumph, crownless, and a slave.

The GOOD news is that my older daughter...

...has just won the 2009 Law Day Essay Contest (in the grades 6-8 division), sponsored by the Connecticut Bar Association!

Her essay on why students' cell phones should be barred from middle schools won her 4 tickets to a New Britain Rock Cats game, the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at their May 1st baseball game, and the publication of her essay in Connecticut Lawyer magazine.

The BAD news is that it's only a matter of time before various faculty members from a local university circulate a petition declaring such an idea an infringement of free speech and an offense against humanity.

"Edward R. Murrow, Woodward and Bernstein, and Mark Twain would have had cell phones in middle school," they would cry. "And, besides, we don't like the writing in CT Lawyer nearly as much as in Le Monde."

O tempora, o mores.

21 April 2009

A headline from the sports pages of the New Britain Herald reads:

"Moses not upset about being in New Britain"

which begs a biblical subtitle like:

"Elijah and Hosea less sanguine about Farmington"

20 April 2009

I bet this'll actually catch on eventually (i.e., the NESTER protest not the Holster one)

In light of this recent memo:

The CCSU Riflery & Marksmanship student club will be conducting a weeklong protest, April 20 through April 24, by wearing empty holsters on campus. Their purpose is to protest “state laws and school policies barring licensed citizens from carrying concealed handguns on campus.” As a point of fact, the University is committed to both State Executive Order #16 and the Student Code of Conduct, which prohibit guns in the workplace and on campus.

The students’ protest is of course a protected expression of their First Amendment rights. I am notifying the campus only because an empty holster could be mistaken for a holstered weapon and could cause undue alarm. This could easily happen, for example, if one of the students happens to place his or her cell phone in the holster.

Student Affairs staff have been meeting with the club regularly. Information about the protest, from the president of the Riflery & Marksmanship club, has been posted on Pipeline. And as part of the protest, the Riflery Club will be holding an open forum on Monday, April 20, at 2:30 in the Clock Tower Room, Student Center.

Mark Warren McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President
Marketing & Communications
Central Connecticut State University


I sent out this one:

The CCSU Empty Nester (EN) club will be conducting a weeklong protest by carrying empty nests on campus. Their purpose is to protest "the really crappy economy's forcing students to return home and screw up their parents' lives (again).

As a point of fact, the University is committed to its motto, "Start with a Dream, and Just Finish Already," which really encourages new grads to get jobs but, more importantly, their own apartments.

The protest is of course a protected expression of their First Amendment rights. I am notifying the campus only because an empty nester could be mistaken for an unloving parent and could cause undue alarm. This could easily happen, for example, if one of the EN-ers happens to say, quite pointedly, "But...but...but...we don't want to have to move the treadmill out of your old room and back to the basement! Besides, we sold your bedroom set to buy the treadmill."

Student Affairs staff and family counselors have been meeting with the EN-ers regularly. The import of the protest can be judged by the number of Viagra TV commercials that suggest, when the kids are gone, quite often mom and dad are hard at it.

And, as part of the protest, the EN Club will be holding a workshop on "How to Change the Locks Without Hiring a Locksmith" on Friday, April 24th, at 2:30 in the Key Office, East Hall.

Gilbert Warren McGigliotti, Ph.D.
Wannabe Vice President of, well, Anything They’re Willing to Throw My Way
Central Connecticut State University

18 April 2009


A sign in front of a local Roman Catholic church:

On Easter, Christ conquered death

On April 25, Bingo returns

17 April 2009

A Day (and a half, or so) in the Life of a Blue Devil Spirit Award Winner

Thursday, 16 April

7:24 AM Arrive at Work

7:30-8:05 AM Read/respond/initiate emails

8:10-9:45 AM Help staff table at the Student Union Board of Governors' (SUBOG) Commuter Breakfast outside Willard and DiLoreto Halls

9:50-10:50 AM Advise students about Fall pre-registration, address a student complaint, confer with other offices and English faculty, more email

10:55-11:15 AM Shut down SUBOG table

11:20 AM-3:30 PM Finalize DEC files for final two faculty reviews of this academic year, respond to faculty concerns about various issues, advise students, more email

3:50-6:30 PM Attend "A Night at the Museum" events as part of The University Museum Community Collaborative (UMCC) at the New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA)

6:50-9:00 PM Go home, eat dinner

9:15 PM- 12:30 AM, Friday, 17 April Back at CCSU to serve as judge, along with the University President and VP of Student Affairs, at the Devil's Den at 10 PM's annual "Talent/No Talent Contest"

12:50 AM Arrive at home

6:50 AM Respond in the affirmative when wife asks if I'd prefer her to drive older daughter to school

7:55-9:15 AM Wake up, drive younger daughter to school, and arrive at work

9:30 AM-12:00 PM Email, advising, etc...

12:00-1:30 PM Monthly Media Board Meeting

1:30-3:15 PM More advising, email, and more departmental business (good and ill)

3:30 PM Call it a week and pick up younger daughter

16 April 2009

The most depressing thing about all this CCSU Recorder stuff...

...is that I didn't get to revel in my return to the musical stage Wednesday night at the International Dinner at Holmes Elementary School.

Celeste, our daughter, had signed up to bring something representing her mother's French heritage, ratatouille, and sing a song Frere Jacques.

Well, Celeste, Mom, and I (big sis was off at a play rehearsal) go onstage (not just in cafeteria, like we all assumed), and sing Frere Jacques, first in the original then the English version. We were a smaller version of the von Trapps.

We acquitted ourselves well, I think.

Anyone have a video?

15 April 2009

The CCSU Recorder and the Faculty Assault on Student Sovereignty

An email I sent to the CCSU campus today...

Let's, for a moment, all pretend that this latest Recorder "crisis" is about one student's freedom of speech.

(This, of course, is far from the case, since Ms. Blaszko can in fact write for the Recorder anytime she wants; she just cannot serve as editor because she refuses to follow duly ratified policies that follow well promulgated professional and educational standards, but let's pretend for a moment anyway).

From the perspective of student clubs, students at CCSU should be very wary of the pressures being exerted from external forces (and, yes, that's the faculty who have signed the petition, spoken out publicly for Ms. Blaszko's reinstatement, etc).

The real danger to free speech is not Ms. Blaszko's losing an editorship, but all the clubs' losing the sovereignty of their decisions.

Would the PSA, WFCS, LASO, PRIDE, or the Sociology, History, or Art clubs, really want folks from outside that club (be they SA/LD, the President, the Provost, the faculty moderators, the University Senate, powerful alumni, or even other students) to have the power to overturn a duly executed decision by its membership?

If they wouldn't want that (and, golly, I hope they don't), students had better hope the Recorder doesn't cave to the pressure of the specious arguments that have been mounted against it.

If they don't care about their sovereignty, then the precedent for external influence will exist, and then student speech will be in real danger.

In the end, therefore, please remember that the Recorder, like all other student clubs, has a constitution that has been written and ratified by its members, and then vetted by the experienced staff of Student Affairs.

(Yes, folks, along with faculty experts in, say, JOURNALISM, on this campus, there are, in fact, professionals in the areas of student activities who research and write about such topics, attend conferences, and keep up on current case law.)

Perhaps those of us who can't say that about ourselves should just keep out of this.

Good night, and god bless!

(I was going to go "Good night, and good luck," but that was way too Edward R. Murrow-y, so I went Red Skelton-y instead)!

From an email I wrote to the CCSU campus community on 4/1/09


I write this in response to the call to stop the alleged threats to free speech occasioned by the removal of Marissa Blaszko from the editorship of the Op-Ed page of the CCSU Recorder.

She was removed from the position by the editorial staff because she refused to distance herself from movements and activities in which she strongly believes. While the fervency of her personal political interest and activity is laudable and should be encouraged, such involvement by editors is in violation of the editorial and ethics policies of the Recorder.

These policies are not, it should be made clear, some idiosyncratic CCSU thing; they are part of the standard operating procedures in the vast majority of newsrooms around the country -- for both professional and student-run newspapers. (For more info, feel free to check out the Student Press Law Center and SPJ: The Society of Professional Journalists.) Nor has Ms. Blaszko been singled out. Several current editors have had to choose between a variety of activities/partisan interests and an editorial position at the Recorder. They chose to sacrifice those other interests/activities.

At a special meeting about the editorial staff’s decision to remove the student from her position, called on 3/19/09 by the Office of Student Activities/Leadership development (SA/LD), during the weekly Recorder Review class that Dr. Vivian Martin holds with the editorial staff of the paper, [art professor] Mike Alewitz argued to the students that, since their actions were against freedom of speech, they would “not stand,” and he informed them, as if they were utterly unaware, that there are “many different types of journalism.”

Indeed, he is correct; there are many different kinds of journalism: from the NY Times, the NB Herald, CNN, and a bevy of very targeted media outlets, to blogging, NPR, The American Spectator, and Mother Jones. And no one is disputing such variety….nor the richness derived there from.

The controversial non-controversy here, however, is that Professor Alewitz doesn’t seem to like the type of journalism that the Recorder staff, under its duly ratified and reviewed by-laws and ethics policy, has chosen to guide their paper.

Please be clear: by this decision no one is silencing the views of the now former editor. Ms. Blaszko is free to continue to write for the Recorder. She, however, could not remain as editor and continue her important work, and important work it is, as an activist.

The decision was never about what she had to say but rather about the propriety of her public and very partisan declarations/actions while serving as an editor of the Recorder.

There’s no smoke here, much less fire...no matter how hard some may try to fan non-existent flames.

14 April 2009

It's odd how the mind makes connections...

...but I'm unsure if it was the chambers, the death, or the (Ivory) snow.

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—
Untouched by Morning—
And untouched by Noon—
Lie the meek members of the Resurrection—
Rafter of Satin—and Roof of Stone!

Grand go the Years—in the Crescent—above them—
Worlds scoop their Arcs—
And Firmaments—row—
Diadems—drop—and Doges—surrender—
Soundless as dots—on a Disc of Snow—

Emily Dickinson, version of 1861

Wasn't it Juvenal who said, "In times like these, it's impossible NOT to write satire?"

What crossed my computer screen this morning during my radio show:

In keeping with national higher education practice and to provide clarity in roles and functions, the Office of Grants Administration has been renamed the Office of Post-Award Grants Administration. The responsibility of the office is to ensure compliance with the terms of various grants and contracts, and in particular with state and university regulations, after a grant is awarded. The Office maintains revenue and expenditure records for federal, state and local grants and prepares financial reports and statements for all external grant awards, and reports to the Associate Director of Accounting. The Office is also responsible for cash management of the federal and state financial aid programs.

The Office of Post-Award Grants Administration is located on the third floor of Marcus White Hall, Rooms 306 and 311, and the hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m.– 12 p.m. and 1 – 5 p.m...

Jack Miller

What I couldn't refrain from sending out this afternoon:

In keeping with international higher education practice and to provide clarity in roles and functions, the English Department has been renamed the Office of Words to Convince, Cajole, Threaten, Confuse, and Soothe in a Pre-Apocalyptic, Post-9/11 Global Village. The responsibility of the office is to ensure utter compliance (or at least complicity). The Office miscalculates all revenue, which makes preparing financial reports and statements really harrowing, and reports to an only slightly bemused Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences. The Office is also irresponsible in cash management.

The Office of Words to Convince, Cajole, Threaten, Confuse, and Soothe in a Pre-Apocalyptic, Post-9/11 Global Village is located (but only temporarily until the renovation) on the third floor of Emma Hart Willard Hall, Rooms 303 and 304, and the hours of operation are Monday through Friday (when the staff is not furloughed).

Gil Gigliotti

Darlene, the Engish Department secretary, is correct: I'm a "Joiner"

So, last night, as is my wont, I attended the annual CCSU Student Activities/Leadership Development (SA/LD) Awards Dinner because:

1) I like getting free dinners at the University (Once, a year or so ago, I had every meal for two straight days at CCSU! Fear not, I live close to the university, so I don't ignore my wife and daughters during the busy seasons.)


2) It's always fun to start a running commentary on the awards.

(For example, I ask, how can the Pep Squad win the Student Spirit Award, which is supposed to be for the student club that most exemplifies spirit -- above and beyond its mission as an organization. Isn't spirit the core mission of a Pep Squad?! I'm not saying they aren't a wonderful club and don't deserve an award, but the Spirit Award shouldn't be an option. It would be like WFCS winning an award for being the radio station.)

Last night, for some reason, I got it into my head to annoy the head of SA/LD, Scott, by asking him when I was gonna win an award.

"I can't win that award, Scott."

"I didn't win that award, Scott."

"Am I gonna win this award, Scott?"

"We're at the bottom of the first page of the program, and I still haven't won anything, Scott."

To which he replied, "Well, you may as well leave now."

(I had won Advisor of the Year back in 2000 or 2001, so I really was being quite facetious.)

Well, guess what? I went home with the Blue Devil Spirit Award, which goes to a faculty or staff member who, apart from any specific duty as an advisor, contributes in a substantial way to CCSU and its students. (Yes, in New Britain, CT, the Dukies are the other Blue Devils.)

I was surprised and quite touched. The remarks during the awarding of the plaque read, essentially, "It woudn't be CCSU without Dr. Gigliotti."

How swell is that?

That's the thing about my life here in the Blue Devil Land: I've very rarely felt unappreciated. (And what more could one ask in a job?)

13 April 2009

It all depends on what the meaning of "struggling" is...

Phil Spector has been found guilty of 2nd-degree murder of Lana Clarkson, who is described by the NY Times as a "struggling actress."

She was 40 at the time of her death, and the highlights of her career, according to the Times, were that she "starred in a 1985 cult hit, Barbarian Queen, and had a bit part in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982."

THAT'S struggling? A starring role in a little-known movie a quarter of a century ago?

Wow, what's the definition of a former actress?

Fav' new fake product name...

Who wouldn't buy yeast under the brand name "Leaven of the Pharisees"(Mark 8.14-21)?

Spelling Bees

My two daughters are heading to the district-wide spelling bees in New Britain for their grades (8th and 4th, respectively).

This will be our 8th-grader's fifth straight trip to the district finals; she's 4-0, thus far, and this is the fourth-grader's first opportunity since they don't hold spelling bees for the lower grades.

As usual, I again would've be knocked out before either of my daughters:

"blithe" I spelled "blythe" (not recognizing that I was thinking of the incomparable Ms. Danner!)


"eraser" I spelled "erasure" (not recognizing that I was just looking for "A Little Respect")

I do like the way the New Britain Consolidated School District does this because their bees aren't tied to any regional or national bees that often force kids to spell words that nobody outside of very specialized fields would ever encounter. While it makes for high drama, I don't see the larger educational value of the national finals as covered on ESPN.

A spelling bee that rewards avid readers is just fine with me.

12 April 2009

I've been one poor correspondent...

...I've been too, too hard to find/but it doesn't mean you ain't been on my mind.

Since I last posted, due to an unscheduled hiatus brought about by 1) computer problems and 2) a flurry of activity:

1) Pirates are back in the news (too bad the ship's captain didn't think to claim they were all orphans --- it works in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas);
2) Ted Turner personally advised my 13-year-old daughter to think "clean renewable energy;"
3) I spoke about Sinatra to ~100 women at the New Britain's Womens Club;
4) I spoke about writing, Sinatra, and Ava Gardner at the day-long Tunxis Community College Writers' Festival;
5) I've gotten even more jealous of Gina Barreca, the keynote speaker at the Tunxis Writers' Festival;
6) I resigned my spot on the Board of Directors of the New Britain Symphony Orchestra;
7) My mother-in-law completed a bracket for our little in-house NCAA bet and actually picked North Carolina to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship in a final against Michigan State (she could've made a fortune in a real pool!);
8) I finally beat my wife in three straight games of Ping Pong;
9) Tiger Woods did not win the Masters; and
10) The Cincinnati Reds are only 2-3.