And so the ’Nam Series is Off and Running


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The crowd in Flaherty Community Room at Mount Mercy before the show began.

Two views of the crowd in Flaherty Community Room at Mount Mercy before the show began.

My day Wednesday began pretty early, with a 7:15 a.m. stop at WMT radio.

My wife had urged me to leave the house a few minutes earlier, but I didn’t get out the door until about 7:05, so 7:15 was doing well for a quick bike ride. Doug Wagner, the morning host, welcomed me into the studio, we chatted for just a few minutes, and then the interview began.

I think I did OK. I got to sit there for two segments, basically, and it seemed like before it started, my air time was over. You can go to the WMT web site, if you want, and find a podcast—I’m in the 7 a.m. hour on Sept. 2 (starting at minute 17, if you don’t want to wait).

That was just the early start to the long day. I was pretty busy all day long, and a bit frazzled this afternoon in a one-hour class that meets only once a week, when half the class was taken over by a fire drill.

I had been up a bit late the night before, getting a PowerPoint slide show ready.

At 7 p.m., Dr. Joy Ochs, professor of English, and I were set to open the Fall Faculty Series at Mount Mercy University. I had arrived in the room maybe 30 minutes early (yes, I was a little anxious and antsy). Joy showed up about 20 minutes before the talk. We conferred a bit and downloaded our PowerPoint slides, and we had to fuss with the technology a little, but a Word Study student from Event Services was very helpful, and we were ready when it was time to start.

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Brianna and Meg, journalists covering the Vietnam Series for the MMU Times.

Picture above was with the camera Brianna is holding--she seems more serious now that I gave her a camera to use!

Picture above was with the camera Brianna is holding–she seems more serious now that I gave her a camera to use!

Father Tony said a prayer. I did a little intro. Joy then took over and gave an interesting presentation on what she confessed was a “date movie” when she was young—“Full Metal Jacket.” She showed a scene of the drill sergeant yelling at the recruits, and noted how the visuals dehumanized the Marines and made them seem like parts of a machine. What the machine could do was shown in another clip, set in the ruins of Hue during the 1968 Tet Offensive.

Dr. Joy Ochs, professor of English, speaks. MMU Times photo by Brianna Sturtz.

Dr. Joy Ochs, professor of English, speaks. MMU Times photo by Brianna Sturtz.

Then, it was my turn to head up the river with Capt. Willard in search of Col. Kurtz. It wasn’t “peace now.” It was “Apocalypse Now.”

It seemed that, like the morning radio show, the evening presentation was over before it started. At the presentation, I saw a pretty good mix of students—mostly freshmen from portal classes—and faculty. MMU’s president was there, too. And there was a decent turnout from the community—interestingly enough, some of them the history junkies who came to some WWI events.

Me. MMU Times photo by Brianna Sturtz.

Me. MMU Times photo by Brianna Sturtz.

I didn’t do a head count. I’ll have to ask Event Services tomorrow what they thought—but, although there were a few empty chairs, the seating in the room was mostly taken. All the cookies were eaten. To be truthful, I might have had something to do with that—I have an awesome reputation (as in, it does inspire shock and awe) for stress eating.

Among the students at the forum were two new journalists—Meg and Brianna sat in front, Meg taking notes for a story, Brianna in her first outing as a Mount Mercy Times photographer.

I hope the Times doesn’t mind if I show some her work as a sneak preview of the paper’s next issue. I think she did well—the bar has been set fairly high for your story, Meg.

Well, I’m pretty happy. I would hope that some of the later events in the series that are still up in the air will get organized soon, and the “big” event, the visit of the Vietnam Wall, will for a while suck some of the oxygen from the room. It will be worth it, but it will be a big energy drain.

The next speaker in the series was there--Dr. Marc McCoy talks about "Tinker v Des Moines" at the CRST Graduate Center Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

The next speaker in the series was there–Dr. Marc McCoy talks about “Tinker v Des Moines” at the CRST Graduate Center Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

Well, we are off to a good start. Joy and I drew a crowd. The series is underway. I survived speaking about movies in front of Dr. Jim Grove, whose little finger knows more about Hollywood films than my entire cerebral cortex. Dr. Joe Nguyen was there, too—the series theme was his suggestion, and he is the person who worked hardest to bring The Wall to MMU.

Anyway, we have 14 more events in our Fall Faculty Series. See the MMU web site, and come on down. The ride up the river has started. Join us before we get to the Do Lung Bridge.

My wife and daughter attended--wife does what she sometimes does ... objects to me taking her photo. Don't tell her it is on the blog.

My wife and daughter attended–wife does what she sometimes does … objects to me taking her photo. Don’t tell her it is on the blog.

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