28 February 2011

My Tesimony to the CT Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee (2/28/11)

To all the committee members, good evening. Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify before you today.

My name is Gilbert Gigliotti, I am a professor of English and Latin at Central Connecticut State University. I’m the former chairman of the English Department (one of the two largest departments on campus) and the most recent recipient of the CCSU Distinguished Service Award for my work with the campus radio station, Media Board, Inter-Residence Council, and Student Union Board of Governors, among other organizations, as well as the producer of the television show Central Authors and organizer of the Alumni Association’s “Classic Friday Film Series.”

I list these activities – as opposed to my academic achievements or publications – to illustrate the various ways in which I have interacted closely with the students and the CCSU community since coming to Connecticut in 1992 as an assistant professor. I do this because I am here testifying this evening on behalf of the students of CCSU, who are the future of Connecticut.

If I had to summarize the CCSU student population in a word, I would call them tenacious for their ability to adapt to circumstances often beyond their control. Semester after semester, I am amazed at their ability to do what needs to be done – thanks to a bad economy, or family matters, or medical emergencies or…well, the list goes on and on. These tenacious students, however, do not quit; they, not infrequently, may switch from full-time status to part-time or take classes at a community college closer to home, or leave the residence halls and return home to save money, or some other fairly extreme solution – any of which makes it difficult to engage in the University the way we know can change their lives for the better and help them develop into engaged and productive citizens of Connecticut.

I know that you know that the vast majority of CSU students come from and stay in Connecticut.

I know that you know that a university degree means the skills and knowledge which translate into higher salaries for those who earn a degree.

And I know you know that cutting the budget of the four CSU campuses will try these tenacious students even more than they have ever been tried before.

What I fear is that, when our tenacious students are hit, not only with higher gas taxes and sales taxes and income taxes, to mention but a few, but also with cuts at CCSU that will result in larger classes, fewer course offerings, fewer student services, and a longer road to graduation, their tenacity may turn to frustration and their frustration to resignation, and their resignation to incompletion…the incompletion of their degree, the incompletion of their growth and their potential, the incompletion of their full participation in the future of Connecticut.

There are many ways to balance the budget. Please don’t do it on the backs of the students of CSU…the future of Connecticut depends upon your decision.

27 February 2011

What does it say about us, as a culture, that we allowed...

...comic George Burns to die without having recorded at least one album of the old Vaudeville patter songs that he would sing when he'd appear on The Tonight Show and other venues, but he did record the god-awful country album I Wish I Was Eighteen Again and A Musical Trip With George Burns (with the artist wearing a Nehru jacket and beads on the cover)? 

(This sculpture does give me hope for us however!)

And what does it say about me for thinking about this without having heard or seen George Burns in recent memory and despite the fact that he's been dead for a while?

And, as always, here's to Gracie, too!

(While I'm thinking about the two of them, one of my favorite contemporary poetry books is Lloyd Schwatrz's 1992 Good Night, Gracie. Check it out.)

As much as I love the Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"...

...and readily admit it's a wonderful recording (with a SWELL record sleeve!), I've got to give the nod to The Weavers' "Wimoweh" for its great arrangement by Gordon Jenkins.

Your preference?

Good advice, well punctuated!

From an ACS press release (clever, yes, but the details it still make me say OUCH),

Don’t be Semi-Interested in Your Colon

American Cancer Society Encourages Everyone 50 and Older to Get Tested for Colon Cancer...

The American Cancer Society recommends the following tests to find colon cancer early:

Tests That Detect Adenomatous Polyps and Cancer

• Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or

• Colonoscopy every 10 years, or

• Double contrast barium enema (DCBE) every 5 years, or

• CT colonography (CTC) every 5 years

Tests That Primarily Detect Cancer

• Annual guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) with high test sensitivity for cancer, or

• Annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT) with high test sensitivity for cancer, or

• Stool DNA test (sDNA), with high sensitivity for cancer, interval uncertain.

23 February 2011

Where have you gone, Nastassja Kinksi?

Obviously nowhere!

Ms. Kinski's (in)famous Avedon photo is the obvious inspiration for
this POM ad,

and the Cat People poster

is clearly being recalled by this V poster.

Everything old is new again...

22 February 2011

"No reason, she just could"

And that, Ms. Kensit, when it comes to Ava Gardner, at least, seems like a perfectly valid reason to me!  Furthermore, it emphasizes that I've not been hanging out in hotel lobbies drinking champagne nearly enough.

21 February 2011

20 February 2011

So, the reason that teachers are held in such low regard...

...I've come to realize is that, unlike every other activity known to America,

teaching does not have a reality program.

So here's the pitch (a la American Idol)...

Our panel, composed of Gabe Kaplan (from "Welcome Back, Kotter"), Edward James Olmos (from Stand and Deliver), and Hilary Swank (from Freedom Writers), give auditioning teachers 90 seconds to teach them something -- no handouts, technology, or other props/aids allowed.

The 25 quarterfinalists head to a one-room schoolhouse built on land owned by Regis Philbin just outside of South Bend, Indiana.  Once there the contestants will be eliminated through a series of tasks, bootcamp-style, from the mundane (moving large, out-of-date audio-visual equipment up and down several flights of stairs) to the rote (memorizing the periodic table, the Greek alphabet, and the "Gettysburg Address") to the invigorating (discussing poetry with Billy Collins and engineering with MIT's Amy Smith ) to the even more mundane (teaching me and the other producers the difference between "continuous" and "continual," what's wrong with "hopefully," and the difference between viral and bacterial infections, et cetera).

The final seven contestants will then be given a different teaching assignments in schools around the nation, same school and same group of students each week (but a different subject matter for each contestant). 

One will be eliminated each week, until the final two are determined.

The final contest will be a two-night extravaganza...the first two-hour episode will consist of each contestant teaching the television viewing audience some subject matter in a 45-minute class.  The second night (the following week) will have the television audience taking an interactive test in each of those subjects taught the previous night.

The winner will be determined by a combined score of judges' evaluation (50%) and test scores (50%).

The prize will be a choice of $150,000 cash or three years toward tenure at a school to be determined.


Call me!  We'll do lunch...

Quick ranking of my Top 10 Elvis Costello albums

10 The Juliet Letters, with the Brodsky Quartet (1993)
Many think that these forays into other genres are quaint or vaguely interesting, but, in the end, not worth his time and effort.  I couldn't disagree more.

Almost Blue (1981)
Yeah, I know, even E.C. hated this album, but it got me through my first (and only) year of law school.  He, of course, has revisited country/roots music many times since, but the idea of a young English punk recording in Nashville -- and thoroughly hating the producer for the entire duration -- makes the result all the more pleasing.

8 Punch the Clock (1983)
Those TKO Horns (not to mention Chet Baker on "Shipbuilding")!!!

7 Mighty Like a Rose (1991)
Filled with plenty of clever melodies and intricate arrangements

6 My Aim Is True (1977)
The first of a wonderful career

5 King of America (1986)
Couldn't figure out what to call himself at the time, but real solid songs from beginning to end

4 Get Happy (1980)
Twenty Nick Lowe-produced tracks on a one-disc vinyl album...UNHEARD OF at the time!

3 For the Stars, with Anne Sofie von Otter (2001)
It shouldn't have worked, but it does...beautifully

Armed Forces (1979)
Military metaphors for the erotic arena (didn't the Roman poet Horace do that too?)

Imperial Bedroom (1982)
One great song after another with a richness and diversity of sound that cannot be ignored...he became our "Town Crier" indeed with this album.

10 February 2011

How far into my dotage (a ways off still, I think) before...

...I start believing she was my classmate,

that he was my president,

that I had lived on the twilight side of the hill (as opposed to the morning side of the mountain),

that, while I couldn't always get what I had wanted, when I had tried, I always got what I needed,

that I could, in fact, forget domani (since tomorrow never comes),

and that I had been either here:

or here:

or here:

or here (damn it)!   

Here is CT Governor Dannel P. Malloy's "Plan for Higher Ed" WORDLED

Here's the wordle.  I wish the word "students" was bigger! 

The plan, released yesterday, would:

1. Eliminate the boards for the Connecticut State University System, the community colleges, Charter Oak State College and the Board of Governors for Higher Education and combine their authority into one Board of Regents for Higher Education.

2. Consolidate the central offices of CSU and the community college system and the management of DHE and Charter Oak State College into one office reporting to one CEO.

3. Direct the Board of Regents and CEO to develop a strategic plan with public and stakeholder participation to increase Connecticut's educational attainment.

4. Direct the Board of Regents to develop a formula to distribute taxpayer support to campuses on the basis of enrollment, attainment of identified policy goals and other factors.

5. Require the Board to develop annual reports on:

a. Student outcomes such as retention and graduation

b. Financial issues including

i. Allocation of resources across functions (education, administration, etc.)

ii. Analysis of costs and revenues on an academic program basis

iii. An affordability index based on median Connecticut family household income

c. Enrollment and completions on a program basis

d. Transfer of credits across institutions

e. Employment and earning outcomes of graduates (in partnership with the state Department of Labor)

09 February 2011

My wife is, as usual, correct in her assessment of the political situation...

...that, while public employees MAY not suffer as deeply as some in the private sector during an economic downturn, the fact is public employees NEVER DO AS WELL as those in the private sector when the economy's swinging!

06 February 2011

Back when the goalposts were in the FRONT of the endzone!

Keep your Rogers, your Roethisberger, your Brady, and your Sanchez, et alia; I'll take a real STARR!

03 February 2011

I'm not sure when that plural form went away, but, if I have to read about buildings collapsing...

...under the weight of heavy snow and ice, then I want my "rooves" back!

"Roofs" just doesn't do it for me, and I have no interest in moving to New Zealand or Australia, where I have read they still use "the older form of the word."

(Even the bloody blogspot.com spellcheck doesn't recognize "rooves."  But then again, it doesn't recognize "blogspot" either, so perhaps that's not the best bellwether ever.)

02 February 2011

A story to warm the cockles of one's heart on a cold icy day

Farrah's famous bathing suit is now in the Smithsonian! 

The Classic Fridays Film Series resumes NEXT WEEK!


Classic Fridays at CCSU

Torp Theatre, Davidson Hall, CCSU
2:00 PM

Women in Focus

February 11
Introduced by Dr. Paloma Lapuerta (Modern Languages)

March 4
Introduced by Dr. Abigail Adams (Anthropology)

April 8
Introduced by Dr. Karen Ritzenhoff (Communication)

April 29
Introduced by Dr. Karen Beyard (Educational Leadership)

May 6
Introduced by Dr. Cynthia Pope (Geography)

A free pre-screening reception starts at 1:30 on each Friday.

See you at the movies!

"Central Authors" tapings resume one week from today!


CCSU’s cable television show featuring members of the Central family (faculty, staff, and alumni) talking about their books and airing on some 20 cable outlets throughout Connecticut. (Check your local listings!)

All tapings are at 12:15 PM in the CCSU Bookstore.


The Promise of Preschool: From Head Start to Universal Pre-Kindergarten
Elizabeth Rose (History)
Wednesday, February 9

Habermas: An Intellectual Biography
Matthew Specter (History)
Wednesday, February 23

Writing and the Digital Age: Essays on New Media Rhetoric
Heather Urbanski (English)
Wednesday, March 2

The Day Jesus Returns
Robert Prescott-Ezickson(Philosophy)
Wednesday, March 16

The Dark Heritage Saga
Michael Bertolini (Alumnus)
Wednesday, April 6

Anger Management for Everyone: Seven Proven Ways to Control Anger and Live a Happier Life
Raymond Chip Tafrate (Criminology and Criminal Justice)
Wednesday, April 20

Watch Central Authors daily on CCSU TV, channel 23, at 8:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 7:30 pm, or online at www.ccsu.edu/centralauthors/programming.htm

Think globally; read locally!

01 February 2011

MY Super Bowl Half-time Show!

With the Super Bowl just a few days away, I was thinking about a half-time show that I'd want to see (i.e., NOT the Black Eyed Peas, or the Rolling Stones, or Janet Jackson, or the Who...)

No, I'd want one that, since the big games in Dallas, is a Texas-/cowboy-themed half-time show!  And, sure, some of these folks are dead, but that shouldn't stop Jerry Jones!

John Wayne (True Grit clip)

Dean Martin ("Houston")

George Strait ("All My Exes Live in Texas")

Emily Dickinson ("Yellow Rose of Texas")

Tanya Tucker ("When I Die")

John Denver ("I'd Rather Be a Cowboy")

And, as far as a prediction of the game goes, as much as I'd like the Packers to win (ya gotta love Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi, after all!), I just don't see how anyone can bet against the Steelers. 

Pittsburgh 24, Green Bay 17

Unrest in Jordan: Trying hard to figure out a title that includes the phrase "neither Noor..."

Since Hosni Mubarak's decision to not run again for president of Egypt has pretty much taken the fun out of that country's "civilized disobedience" (to quote Katie Couric), I turn my eyes farther to the east, to Jordan. 

So, would a position in the new cabinet of Jordan's King Abdullah II be a stepping stone to anywhere

Or, if nothing else, would I get to hang around Queen Noor, probably my favorite royal since Princess Grace!