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October 21, 2008


Axel Sprengtporten

Otis, you've omitted some crucial details. Our intellectual regimen in college was even more rigorous and time-consuming than you describe. (I know - I was there.) You seem to have forgotten that there was an intricate poetry-generating board game (played with dice) to be developed and perfected. This was no easy task to be tossed off during an idle afternoon. A great deal of careful thought had to be marshaled and put into the project. Then, you must remember, actual poems had to be generated and placed, under the nom de dice of "Rosalie Levine", in an open-to-the-public file of student writing, where "Rosalie's" somewhat opaque poems garnered largely favorable reviews.

In addition, what you so facilely describe as "recreation" (so necessary in the development of a well-rounded college student) involved a lot more than you imply. Our "recreation" was no day at the beach; it consisted of such strenuous, mind-refreshing activities as prolonged, brisk exchanges at the ping-pong table, followed perhaps by a vigorous workout at the pinball machine. Then, carefully budgeting our meagre leisure time, we'd spend a moment or two (four hours at most) socializing with friends before returning to the intellectual grind.

College students nowadays have it so easy.

Otis Jefferson Brown

Your newfound neatness is to be applauded.

It’s a depressing fact that advancing age ravages the brain cells to such an extent that while I can tell you Carl Furillo’s precise batting average in 1953, I can’t recall how many Coke bottles we found. Speaking of brain-decay, I think you’re forgetting the extreme intellectual rigor that marked our college life. On a daily basis there were lists to be compiled, non-existent Cavalier poets to be discovered, vegetable-dye experiments to be conducted in the kitchen, street traffic to be announced in full play-by-play detail, poems to be analyzed (the work of Richard Mothpan springs to mind), college transcripts to be concocted and graduate-school applications to be completed and sent to the University of Mississippi on behalf of too-good-to-be-true academic superstars, Gilbert & Sullivan operas to be learned and sung, and who knows what else. Then, of course, to preserve mental health, one must leave time for recreation. All work and no play would have made us very dull boys indeed. Now you’re suggesting that with all these weighty matters to attend to, we were also supposed to clean up after ourselves? Please.

One can find parallels in the current political drama. Take, for example, Sarah Palin who is being unjustly maligned for spending $150,000 on her campaign wardrobe while, at the same time, being forced by a third-grader to explain her unique interpretation of the role of Vice-President - a “really neat job” that puts you “in charge” of the Senate. It’s churlish to blame Palin for being wrong on some obscure constitutional point (the Vice-President’s role isn’t even mentioned until Article 1) when there are important wardrobe issues to be addressed. I mean, you don’t just walk into Nieman-Marcus, plunk your 150 grand on the counter and walk out with your new clothes. Let’s be fair. There are countless fittings, difficult decisions to be made, not to mention alterations. It’s time-consuming. No wonder she had no time to read the Constitution. There are only so many hours in a day.

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