Open-Mic Night at Ohio University’s From Room: 10-22-21

Bruce Dalzell (Standing) Introduces Riley Scott
Rylee Bapst
Rylee Bapst
Sam (Samantha in Red Shirt) and Rowan (Black Shirt)
Jim Pilgrim
Bruce Dalzell, Emcee

David Bruce’s Spoken Word, More or Less

Halloween is coming up in a week, and I have some scary stories for you:

1) A young woman in college was going through a Goth / Punk phase, and she wore heavy, scary makeup most of the time. Sometimes, she didn’t take off the makeup even when she was going out for a run in the park. One day, she was running in the park while wearing the heavy, scary makeup, and a masked man jumped out from behind a bush, grabbed her arm, and said, “I’VE GOT YOU NOW!” The scary Goth woman said, “THE POLICE ARE AFTER ME!” Scary masked man ran away in one direction, and scary Goth woman ran away in the opposite direction.

2) A man was trying to pick up a woman, and he was persistent even after she made it clear that she was not interested in him. Finally, she asked, “May I borrow your phone?” He handed her his phone, and she looked through the contacts and saw a contact labelled “Mom.” She called that number, and when his mom answered, she said, “Your son is trying to pick me up, and I have told him over and over that I am not interested, and he is persistent even after I have made it clear that I am not interested.” They talked for a minute or so, with the woman giving the man’s mother a few details, and then she handed the phone back to the man and said, “Your mother wants to talk to you.”

3) A man was walking one way on the sidewalk, and a woman was walking toward him on the sidewalk. When they got close, the man said, “You’re a bit too thin for me.” The woman replied, “You’re a bit too thick for me.” They kept on walking past each other.

4) Two women were riding their bikes in the neighborhood when a man working on his roof began to catcall them. The two women got off their bikes, walked over to his house, knocked the man’s ladder over, and then they got on their bikes and rode away.

5) Some men are scary, obviously, but other men are not scary. A man was arguing with a woman on a bus. The man was standing up, and the woman was seated. Eventually, the man got so angry that he kicked the seat the woman was sitting on. This is, of course, an act of violence. A quick-thinking man ran up behind the angry man and grabbed the top of his sweatpants and pulled them down to his ankles. The quick-thinking man then stood between the woman and the angry man, and he stared at the angry man. The angry man pulled his pants up and walked back to his own seat. The woman thanked the quick-thinking man, who said, “You’re welcome,” and he went back to his seat and sat down. The angry man got off the bus at the next stop.

6) This story is just about a man who simply did the right thing. A woman ordered a pizza and thought she had time to take a quick shower before it was delivered, but she heard the doorbell ring as she was wrapping a towel around herself after the shower. She went to the door and let in the pizza-delivery man. She handed him her credit card, and he handed her the pizza, and — oh! my goodness! — her towel accidentally fell to the floor. Pizza-delivery man immediately turned around so he couldn’t see her, and she picked up the towel and held it in front of her. Pizza-delivery man finished the credit-card transaction and handed the woman her credit card and the receipt by holding it over his shoulder and behind his back, and he left.

7) A woman went into a coffee shop and a man there tried to pick her up. She did not want to be picked up, but the man was persistent. The woman bought two hotdogs and two Cokes. She went to a table and put down one hotdog and one Coke on each side of the table. She sat down. The man sat down opposite her. She pushed her hotdog and her Coke toward him, and then she got up and left. The man had a decision to make: Does he get up and follow the woman, or does he stay and eat? The man stayed and ate. 

Please, take these stories and make videos to put up on YouTube. In the case of the pizza delivery, the woman can be wearing a two-piece swimsuit so you don’t get censored.
David Bruce

Open-Mic Night at Ohio University’s Front Room: 15 October 2021

Bruce Dalzell, Emcee

October 15 is Bruce’s birthday. Happy birthday, Bruce.

Tim Pfaff
Dan Canterbury
Rylee Bapst
Bernhard Debatin
David Bruce
Bruce Dalzell

David Bruce’s Spoken Word, More or Less

1) Here’s some good news:

Embarrassment plus time often equals comedy. Often, an incident that horribly embarrasses us at the time and makes us cringe when we remember it becomes a funny story that we tell our grandkids and grand-nephews and grand-nieces.

I remember something that happened over 55 years ago when I was a kid. At the time, you could buy shorts that changed color when exposed to heat. 

You could be in the shade under a tree and then get out into the sun and the shorts would grow hotter and change color, especially the part that was directly exposed to the sun.

You could also put your hand on your thigh briefly, and when you took away your hand, you could see your handprint on your thigh.

I remember that a girl was wearing those shorts during a math class when she went to the chalkboard to solve a math problem. She was facing the chalkboard, working the problem, and her back was to the class.

No one heard anything, but everyone noticed when she farted.

That poor girl.

2) I just told a story about her, so I ought to tell a story about me.

I was in a crowd of people, and I suddenly got gassy. I knew that I wouldn’t get to a private place to fart in time, but I thought: I’ve got this. Music is playing, I know this song, and there’s a loud section. If I time the fart just right, no one will hear me. So the drums come in loudly, the singer begins to scream, and I fart.

Everyone looks at me and laughs.

And that’s when I remember I’m wearing ear buds.

3) Halloween is coming up, and I’ve been thinking about scary stories, like this one:

A woman goes into a coffee shop and a man there tries to pick her up.

She does not want to be picked up, but the man is persistent.

The woman buys two hotdogs and two Cokes.

She goes to a table  and puts down one hotdog and one Coke on each side of the table.

She sits down.

The man sits down opposite her.

She pushes her hotdog and her Coke toward him, and then she gets up and leaves.

The man has a decision to make: Does he get up and follow the woman, or does he stay and eat?

The man stays and eats.

Please, someone make a video of this and put it up on YouTube.

Sam, Bernhard Debatin’s son, is in Velvet Green.

Open Mic Night at Ohio University’s Front Room — 1 October 2021

Dan Canterbury
Riley James
Tim Pfaff
Joshua Corbett
Bruce Dalzell, emcee

David Bruce’s Spoken Word, More or Less:

In the 1970s, OU President Claude Sowle decided to hold public meetings at which college deans would argue for money for their departments. Of course, these were spectacular events at which college deans wore caps and gowns and argued passionately for money. At one such public meeting, Dr. Henry Lin, Dean of Fine Arts, began his remarks by saying, “Ni hao, Dr. Sowle.” Of course, he was speaking flawless Mandarin Chinese, and he continued to speak flawless Mandarin Chinese — which Dr. Sowle did NOT understand — for the rest of his remarks, occasionally using a Chinese abacus to emphasize a financial point. At the end of Dr. Lin’s remarks, President Sowle told him, “Henry, you know I don’t understand Chinese, but I’ve never understood you more clearly than right now — you need big bucks!” (By the way, Dr. Lin is the father of Maya Lin, the genius who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.) 

Artists frequently work with nude models. OU art professor John “Jack” Baldwin and his wife, Bunny, once took a vacation in Mexico, where they went to a clothing-optional beach. Bunny pointed out a particularly beautiful naked woman to Jack, who told her, “Bunny, I am here on vacation. I am not here to work.” 

An OU art professor once wrote a letter in which she used as many words beginning with the letter F as possible. She called it her F-word letter. 

Margaret “Peg” Cohn, Dean Emerita of the Ohio University Honors College, remembers carpooling with other mothers. On one occasion, she had a carload of children when they came across an intersection in which someone had written in large letters a four-letter word beginning with “F” and ending with “K.” Ms. Cohn’s seven-year-old carefully said each letter aloud, then asked, “Mom?” Ms. Cohn braced herself, afraid that she would have to give a sex education lesson to a carload of children, but fortunately her seven-year-old asked merely, “How did they do that without getting run over?” Ms. Cohn answered that question, happy that she had remembered “a cardinal rule for parents: Be sure what the question is before you give the answer.” 

Women’s sports and women athletes have not always been respected. For example, in the 1960s (well before Title 9), Catherine L. Brown used to teach field hockey at OU on a field that was also used by ROTC cadets. Sometimes, the ROTC cadets would act as if the women athletes were invisible and march onto the field — even during games. On one occasion when this happened, the ROTC cadets were standing at attention — meaning that they could not move — so Ms. Brown ordered the game to continue, and she rewarded each woman athlete who managed to hit the legs of an ROTC cadet with the ball. 

Ohio University sports publicist Frank Morgan occasionally talked at elementary schools about sports. Once he explained that baseballs are made of horsehide, and a horrified little girl exclaimed, “You mean they kill horsies to make baseballs!” 

A student once wanted to interview Ohio University zoologist Scott Moody for a term paper on herpes simplex after learning that Dr. Moody taught herpetology. However, herpetologists study amphibians and reptiles, while virologists study viruses such as herpes. Still, the student’s mistake was not as bad as it may sound. Interestingly, “herpetology” and “herpes” share a common root word, “herpo,” which means crawling. As Dr. Moody explains it, “‘Herpeton’ means creeping, crawling creature. The earlier naturalists used this term for the slow sprawling terrestrial vertebrates (lizards, snakes, turtles, salamanders) in contrast with the more active terrestrial vertebrates (mammals and birds). The first herpes described scientifically was ‘herpes zoster’ or shingles. The way a shingles infection manifests itself is as an outbreak of skin rash and blisters that then spread in a linear fashion, hence crawl in one direction. The Greek word ‘herpes’ was chosen as the genus name for this group of viruses.”

Here is a story that Scott Moody tells his friends: “When I was a graduate student living in Germany collecting data for my doctoral dissertation, I often used the public bathroom at the Berlin Train Station. One of the ‘sanitary engineers’ who happened to be an older woman got her jollies by waiting until there was a long line of men urinating in the contiguous urinal stand, then she would flush real hard, spraying water everywhere, causing men to jump backwards while urinating on the floor or on themselves, displaying their shagadelic [fans of the Austin Powers movies will recognize the reference] tools, and so forth. I witnessed this several times, and it was always the same ‘putzfrau.’” 

Philosophy professor Warren Ruchti studied under the famous philosopher Nelson Goodman, author of Ways of Worldmaking and other important books, at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Goodman’s intelligence was awesome, and Dr. Ruchti tells several anecdotes about him. A visiting lecturer once was busily writing numerous premises for his arguments on the chalkboard before his lecture when Nelson Goodman walked in. Dr. Goodman glanced at the columns of premises, and then told the visiting lecturer, “You have contradictory premises — look here and here.” The lecturer said, “Oh my gosh, you’re right!” Another time a visiting lecturer gave a long, involved talk at a colloquium. At the end of the talk, Nelson Goodman looked at Warren Ruchti and said, “He hasn’t got the answer,” and then walked out of the room. Nelson Goodman moved on to Harvard, from which he retired, but he has not been forgotten. The Ruchtis’ family pet was named in honor of the eminent philosopher: Nelson Gooddog. 

Many people don’t regard reading, writing, and learning as working. Philosophy professor Robert Wieman decided to clean his office one day, so he got sweaty moving furniture around and throwing away heaps of old, outdated files. A maintenance worker passed by and said, “You’re the first person I’ve seen working around here.”

By the way, Dr. Wieman once told his students, “I have more children than I have fingers, and all but one of them totalled a car by their eighteenth birthday.”

Also by the way, Dr. Wieman was my main advisor when I was working on my Master’s thesis in philosophy. At a volleyball game between philosophy professors and philosophy students, I managed to score a point against him. I noticed that he didn’t look too happy about it, so as soon as I could, I let him score a point against me. I could have blocked the ball, but Mama Bruce didn’t raise her little boy Davy up to be no fool. 

David Bruce

Open Mic Night at Ohio University’s Front Room — 24 September 2021

Bruce Dalzell, MC
Riley James
Bonnie Proudfoot (Harmonica) and Dan Castlebury (Guitar)
Tim Pffaf
Rilee Bapst
Bernhard Debatin
Bruce Dalzell
Bernhard Debatin’s son Sam is in the spotlight above — great instrumental
This is Bruce Dalzell’s usual closing song.
David Bruce blogs, enjoys local and Bandcamp music, and writes. This particular book of his has over 1,400,000 words. Shakespeare helped write it.

Open Mic Night at Ohio University’s Baker Center: 17 September 2021

Riley James
Bernhard Debatin
Bruce Dalzell
David Bruce

David Bruce’s Stories (More or Less)

One of the goals I had for each of the students in each of my classes was for them to lead lives of wit and intelligence. Many of my students achieved that goal. Of course, Ohio University professors and staff are also witty and intelligent, as seen by the following stories. 

When Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet first came out, Shakespeare scholar Samuel Crowl saw it at his local cineplex, where the number of teenyboppers who had come to see Leonardo DiCaprio play Romeo surprised him. When Mr. DiCaprio’s Romeo and Claire Danes’ Juliet first met, a young DiCaprio fan sitting behind Professor Crowl whispered, “Don’t touch him, you bitch.” 

When English professor Calvin Thayer talked about Falstaff, the fat rogue living on his wits in Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays, he would recite a long list of Falstaff’s traits: Falstaff is an alcoholic, very fat, a spendthrift, white-bearded, etc. From when I attended Ohio University graduate school, I remember that when Dr. Thayer, who had a white beard, mentioned Falstaff’s white beard, he looked shocked, glanced up at his students, and protested, “There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.” 

English professor Frank Fieler knew and loved books. Frequently he would make wise acquisitions for OU’s Alden Library. Once, in England, he had almost succeeded in acquiring some important first editions at an auction when a bidder for another university — that was rich because of Texas oil money — spoke up and gave a bid that was twice as large as Dr. Fieler’s. The bidder was showing off his university’s wealth by waiting until the bidding was almost over, then jumping in with a big bid. Dr. Fieler was so angry that he bid the first editions up until the other fellow’s bid was way over the books’ true value, then Dr. Fieler stalked out — to the applause of the other people in the auction house. 

In the free-wheeling days of the 1960s, Edgar Whan and other English professors used to throw Frisbees in Ellis Hall. 

Some students and professors show the haters that they are wrong. Robert DeMott and Dave Smith became friends in the early 1970s. They had a number of things in common that facilitated their friendship: They were or would become editors, scholars, teachers, and writers, plus both had been told as undergraduates by professors that they were “not smart enough or able enough to amount to much in the ‘real’ world” — predictions that they ignored. Mr. DeMott (actually, Dr. DeMott) became a noted John Steinbeck scholar at Ohio University, and Mr. Smith became a noted poet. By the way, at times, learning excites students. During Spring Quarter of 1970, Dr. DeMott offered a course titled “Writers of the Beat Movement.” The course drew so many students that there was standing room only, with many students spilling out of the classroom and into the hallway. Later in 1970, he taught an Honors course on beat poet Gary Snyder — the class met in a teepee on property owned by an OU art professor. 

Robert Roe served in the tank corps in Africa during World War II. One day, while driving a tank he ran out of gas in the desert; an Arab saw him and tried to speak to him, but neither spoke the other’s language. The Arab shrugged, went to a nearby clump of trees where he had a cache of gasoline, then filled Mr. Roe’s tank with gas. Mr. Roe not only reads Old English, but he also reads Marcel Proust in French. As an undergraduate at a time when professors were more autocratic than they are today, he took a French class but had a hard time in it. He needed the professor’s permission to drop the class, but when he asked the professor for permission, the professor glowered at him. This so unnerved Mr. Roe that he left the professor’s office and learned French.

John Jones specialized in Milton and Swift as an English professor. One day, a freshman student came to Professor Jones’ office and asked him why he should take his course. Professor Jones pointed to one bookshelf, then another. “Milton! Swift! What more do you want?” 

When English professor Barry Roth first came to OU, he was asked to teach a course on mysteries. But instead of teaching mysteries by such people as Agatha Christie and Rex Stout, he taught such “mysteries” as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and William Faulkner’s Sanctuary

Classics professor Steve Hays says that he doesn’t want his students to graduate only to write poetry to themselves in coffeehouses; humanity can be well served by engineers, journalists, nurses, physicians, dentists, and lawyers. Dr. Hays points out that building a better fuel injector is a wonderful way to serve humanity. When he was taking university classes, he would go through the Student Catalogue and circle the names of professors who had graduated from such schools as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton and then try to take classes from those professors. 

OU physiologist Fredrick Hagerman, who worked at NASA, vouches for the authenticity of this anecdote about the first man to walk on the moon: Ohio-born astronaut Neil Armstrong. The first words he spoke on the moon are famous — “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” — but he said other things on the moon, including, “Good luck, Mr. Gorsky.” At first, people assumed that Mr. Gorsky must be a Russian cosmonaut, but no Russian cosmonaut had that name. For a long time, Mr. Armstrong declined to reveal who Mr. Gorsky was, but after years had passed, he said that the Gorskys had died and so it was OK to reveal the story. It turned out that the Gorskys were next-door neighbors to the Armstrongs when Neil was growing up. One day, during a game, a ball was hit into the Gorskys’ yard, and young Neil went to get it. The ball had landed near an open window, and Neil heard the Gorskys arguing. In particular, he heard Mrs. Gorsky yelling, “Sex? You want sex? I’ll tell you when you’ll get sex! You’ll get sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!”

Bernhard Debatin’s son is in Velvet Green (and in a group called Sun Boats).

Formed in 2018, Velvet Green is a native Athens band made up of drummer Shea Benezra, bassist Mitch Spring, keyboardist Liam McSteen, guitarist duo Harper Reese and Sam Debatin [tall, light-colored hair], and vocalist Cora Fitch. Their musical style is an eclectic blend drawing from the funk and jazz of Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell, while remaining influenced by more current groups like Radiohead, Crumb, and Boy Jorts.

Sam Debatin

Ohio University’s Baker Center Open Mic Night 9-10-2021

Jake (above)

The Mysterious Sophia (above)

Sophia (Not As Mysterious) (above)

Rylee Bapst (above)

Bruce Dalzell (above)

David Bruce (above)

10 August 2021

David Bruce’s Stories (More or Less) (Below)

One of my students was named Rachel. While very young, she attended a day care center that was run by a couple of Jewish women who would say a short Jewish prayer at lunchtime. Rachel learned the prayer, and then she asked her parents at home if she could say a prayer at suppertime. She then recited the Jewish prayer. Her parents were astonished at hearing her speak Hebrew, and she told them, “I figured out our secret. Rachel is a nice Jewish name, and we’re Jewish!” (Actually, they were Catholic.) 

When they were children, Barbara G. and her sister used to create plays and perform them in front of their parents, who of course were wildly enthusiastic. Unfortunately, after Barbara and her sister grew up, their parents told them how much they dreaded watching those plays. 

During a discussion at Ohio University about cheating, OU student Adam C. told a story about a high school student he had known in Indiana. The student had been an exchange student in Japan and knew Japanese well. Adam C. noticed that she had Japanese written on one of her wrists and when he asked her about it, she rolled up her sleeve and showed him that she had Japanese written up to her elbow. Adam C. asked her if she was getting ready to cheat on a test in Japanese, and she replied, “No — biology.” 

Ohio University student Kimberlee Eichhorn’s mother knows sign language. She was once asked to sign the Miranda rights (“You have the right to remain silent …”) at the police station to a person who was deaf and mute. By the way, at a store, Kimberlee once was standing in line behind a little boy and a little girl who plopped 20 pennies and a bunch of candy on the counter. The clerk said, “That’ll be $1.20.” The little boy looked at the little girl and said, “I don’t think we have enough.” (Kimberlee gave them the dollar.) 

One of my philosophy students saw a slaughtered cow when she was a young child, and as a result she stopped eating meat. Her parents wanted their young daughter to eat animal protein for her health, so they had to convince her to eat meat again. They finally figured out how to do that: they told her that meat grows on trees. (As a young, no-longer-so-naive adult, she became a vegetarian.) 

The father of my student Emily Kresiak made a mistake when he proposed to her mother — no, Emily wasn’t born yet. He proposed on April Fool’s Day. He didn’t know it was April Fool’s Day, and he was surprised when she laughed at his proposal. Eventually, he learned that it was April Fool’s Day, and she learned that he was serious, and Emily is very glad that she said yes. 

Nathaniel S. grew up in a household in which the alarm clock was turned up very loud and was set to a radio station. One day, the station was playing a drama show about a fire, and when the alarm went off, the house was filled with the shouts of firemen and the sound of crackling flames. His mother ran screaming through the house, grabbing her children and making sure that they got outside to safety. Only after everyone was outside did they discover what had happened. 

Lindsey DeStefano and her sister had separate bedrooms when they were growing up, but they always ended up sleeping in just one of the bedrooms. They used to do such things as scare each other. One sister would go out in the hallway while the other would hide. The sister in the hallway would then enter the room and walk around looking for the other sister, who would jump out from her hiding spot and scare her. They went to bed at an early hour, and part of their bedtime ritual was their father reading them a bedtime story and their mother telling them something each day that they had learned or that they could be proud of. They were scared of monsters, but their father invented “monster spray,” which was ordinary water in a spray bottle. He would spray the room and sure enough, no monsters! Once, Lindsey called him back into the room to spray some more because she thought that he had missed a spot. 

Rachel Harrison grew up with loving, but mischievous siblings. Her sister was beautiful and popular (so is Rachel), and boys often called her at home. This was before cell phones, and she and the boy would talk on a landline phone that was connected to another phone in the house. Their brother took the other phone, put it on mute, and then went into the bathroom. He then took the phone off mute and flushed the toilet. The boy talking to Rachel’s sister asked, “WHERE ARE YOU?” 

I would sometimes teach students how to identify sexist and racist and discriminatory language and how to avoid writing it. One of my sample sentences was this: “Irish men are drunks.” Of course, I expected a student to identity this as a stereotype, but one of my students struck a blow for feminism by pointing out, “Irish women can be drinks, too.” 

While in high school, my student Kate K. took a German class. Of course, students would use the word “herr” to refer to an adult man, with one exception: Their teacher made them call him “Mister.” Why? He did not want them to call him “Herr Ball.” 

In a class on avoiding clichés and writing vividly, my students would take a cliché and give it a twist to make it a vivid expression. An example I gave my students was Tallulah Bankhead’s “I am as pure as the driven slush,” which is a variation on “I am as pure as the driven snow.” One of my students changed “Better late than never” to “Better late than later.” 

By the way, I tend to wear what I want. Once I find a comfortable shirt, I will buy several of them and not worry about wearing different styles. However, I used to constantly wear solid-color shirts, but when I found out that my students were making bets on what color of shirt I would wear I did buy a few shirts with stripes of different colors.

Bruce Dalzell’s YouTube Channel (Above)

Ohio University Front Room Open Mic Night 9-3-21

Riley James (above)

Rylee Bapst (above)

Xander Stultz (above)

Bernhard Debatin (above)

Meg (brown hair) and Sid (blonde hair) — (above)

Joshua Corbett (above)

Bruce Dalzell (above)

David Bruce (above)

David Bruce’s Spoken Word (More or Less)

3 August 2021

The angels among my students made me marvel at their work. I frequently taught freshman and junior composition and technical writing, and I attempted to make the writing my students did useful. I would assign the writing of a 10- to 20-page manual in many classes, but I would allow students to write more pages and many students responded with 60-page manuals. Why? They got into the project and knew that it would help them. They were writing for themselves, not just for a grade, which is the way it should be. 

Two of my students who had studied in France as part of the Ohio University Study Abroad Program worked together on a manual for students who would be in that program. Jobs in France opened up that were associated with the Study Abroad Program, and both students applied for those jobs and both submitted copies of the manual they had co-written. One student was given a job immediately. The other student was officially a little too young, but she got the job after a slight delay. Why did she get the job? She got it because of the manual she had co-written for my class. In fact, the person who hired her was flipping through the manual and looking at and reading it as he talked to my student on the phone to tell her she had the job. These two students got paid to live in France. Nice! 

Another student wrote a 60-page employee manual for the job he did working for the Ohio University football team. He was responsible for such tasks as getting things ready for game day. He was in Sports Sciences, and he ended up getting a very competitive job internship because he sent the sports organization a copy of the manual he wrote for my class. 

Michelle Griesmer wrote a huge manual about how to be a lighting director. She worked professionally one summer on a TV program and was excited to get a copy of the program. Of course, she looked for her name in the credits; unfortunately, she was listed as Michael Griesmer. 

Another student did a long problem-solving manual for the company she worked for. She identified problems at the company and made recommendations about how to solve those problems. She was given a $1,000 bonus for writing the problem-solving manual. 

In my composition classes, I always had the assignment of writing a problem-solving letter in which students identify one or more problems and make recommendations about how to solve it or them. I have had students actually mail the letters, which was optional in my class. At least one student received the offer of a promotion and a raise to come back after graduation and work at that company. (She turned the company down because she had a better offer.) 

One of my favorite assignments in some of my composition classes was the autobiographical essay, which focused mainly on funny incidents in my students’ lives. I well remember many of those essays. For example, Maggie Wendell wrote about the first day of her first class as a freshman at Ohio University. It was a public-speaking class, and she was shocked when she learned that the professor was going to have the students speak for five minutes without preparation on a topic that the professor would tell them. Maggie is a student who likes to be super-prepared for every test and every assignment, so impromptu speaking is not at all her thing. When it was her turn and she got her topic, she immediately began staring at the back wall and spewing whatever verbal diarrhea came into her mind. She even invented an Asian-American friend as she talked about the youth in Asia. When her five minutes was up, she stopped talking and saw that the other students were looking at her and trying to stifle laughter. What was wrong? Were her pants unzipped? Her professor said, “Thank you, Ms. Wendell, for your enlightening talk on the youth in Asia, but your topic was euthanasia. You may know it better as mercy killing.” She said weakly, “I know what euthanasia is,” sat down, and after the class was over, immediately dropped it and took another class. Fortunately, embarrassment plus time equals comedy, and by the time Maggie was a senior, she thought that what had happened was funny. 

One of my students was a United States Marine, where he had to take a wilderness survival course that taught him such things as bugs are a very good source of protein if you are trapped without food behind enemy lines. As part of the course, my student and some other soldiers parachuted into the wilderness, where they made good use of their problem-solving skills. As they parachuted into the wilderness, they looked around and noticed a road in the distance. Once they dropped to the earth, they used their compasses to find the road, then they walked into a town and ate pizza. 

By the way, when David Bruce, one of the co-authors of this book [KIDS ARE NOT ONLY ANGELS], was in Navy boot camp, he and the other recruits were sometimes given the order to “Groucho March”! When that happened, he and the other recruits would bend forward, put their hands behind their backs, and in unison do an imitation of comedian Groucho Marx’ famous stooped-over walk. 

When my student Molly Gedeon was still a fetus, her parents had discussions about what to name her, but each parent thought that they had picked a different name. One parent thought she would be named Monica, and the other parent thought she would be named Molly. The name Monica appeared on her birth certificate, but her father insisted on calling her Molly. This created some confusion with friends and teachers because her mother called her Monica and her father called her Molly. On her eighteenth birthday, Monica had her name legally changed to Molly. Her father now calls her Monica. 

When one of my female students was very young, she had a sister who would sometimes become very naughty and very angry. Once, she was naughty at the dinner table and was sent to bed early while the family continued to eat. My future student heard disturbing noises, thought about a recent nature lesson she had learned at school, and said to her parents, “Mom, Dad, a wolf is in the house.” They laughed, and her mother told her, “No, dear, that’s just your sister howling with rage.” 

Of course, freshman students don’t want other, older students to know that they are new to campus. One of my students carried a campus map in her backpack for her first few days at Ohio University. Whenever she got lost, she would find a building, go into the women’s restroom, go into a stall and shut the door, and then look at the map and find out where she was. If anyone had seen her consult the map, that person would know that she was a freshman. 

Speaking of freshmen, one of my students was from out of state and did not know even a single person in Ohio. She spoke to her sister about being worried that she wouldn’t make any friends at Ohio University. Her sister told her, “Don’t worry! You’ll be fine! Just don’t talk to strangers!” 

Final Story:

Each summer, lots of incoming students go through freshman orientation at Ohio University. They stay in dorms, go on tours of the campus, and visit the library, among many other things. After the library tour, students get free Freezy-Pops, but librarians tell them that a student first has to ask a question before the members of the tour group get Freezy-Pops. Of course, this encourages students to ask questions about the library; however, once an incoming student, a young woman of wit and intelligence, asked, “Can I have a Freezy-Pop?”

Drew Bellamy, Dakota Braaten, Xander Stultz, Dalton DeVoe

Bernhard Debatin on YouTube


Bruce Dalzell on YouTube

David Bruce on Amazon

Open Mic Night at Ohio University’s Front Room (28 February 2020)


Hardika Singh, poet (Above)


Tim Pike (Above) 


Lauren Davis (Above)


Sun Boats (Above)


Sam Debatin of Sun Boats (Above)


Zack Shafer of Sun Boats (Above)


Harper Reese of Sun Boats (Above)


Dallas Craft (Above)


Dallas Craft (Above)


Joshua Corbett (Above)


David Bruce (Above)


Bruce Dalzell (Above)


Below: Two YouTube Videos by Bruce Dalzell


Sam Debatin and Harper Reese of Sun Boats are also members of Velvet Green.

Velvet Green Brings “Junk Funk” Music to Athens (Backdrop Magazine)

Velvet Green, a local band formed in 2018, is composed of six members: drummer Shea Benezra, guitarists Sam Debatin and Harper Reese, keyboardist Liam McSteen, bassist Mitchell Spring and vocalist Cora Fitch. All members, except for New York native Benezra, met each other while attending Athens High School.

“Real Lizard” by Velvet Green

“Slipping Into Darkness” by Velvet Green


David Bruce’s Spoken Word (More or Less)

  • Rise above.

Theater director Tyrone Guthrie advised his actors and crew to do this. The advice means to rise above whatever forces are working against you. All of us have personal problems. No one’s life is perfect. Sometimes, life seems to conspire against us. Rise above all that, and produce the best work you can.

  • Astonish me.

Dance impresario Sergei Diaghilev advised his choreographers to do this. The advice means what it says. Do such good work that the person who commissioned the work—and of course the audience—is astonished. (Tyrone Guthrie also used this phrase.)

  • Do it now.

As a young man, choreographer George Balanchine nearly died and so he believed in living his life day by day and not holding anything back. He would tell his dancers, “Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are you holding back? What are you saving for—for another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now.” Throughout his career, including before he became world renowned, he worked with what he had, not complaining about wanting a bigger budget or better dancers. One of the pieces of advice Mr. Balanchine gave over and over was this: “Do it now.”

  • Go out and get one.

Ruth St. Denis once taught Martha Graham an important lesson when Ms. Graham was just starting to dance. Ms. St. Denis told Ms. Graham, “Show me your dance.” Ms. Graham replied, “I don’t have one,” and Ms. St. Denis advised, “Well, dear, go out and get one.” (Everyone needs an art to practice. Your art need not be dance. Perhaps your art can be writing autobiographical essays. Of course, you may practice more than one art.)

  • Work a little harder.

“I think high self-esteem is overrated. A little low self-esteem is actually quite good—maybe you’re not the best, so you should work a little harder.”—Jay Leno.

  • The only way to do it is to do it.

Asked “What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?”choreographer Merce Cunningham replied, “‘The only way to do it is to do it.’ It’s advice I gave myself as a young man, and I continue to give to students now.”

  • Add a little color to the facts.

You don’t need to be 100 percent truthful in your autographical writing. As the great bard Fflewddur Fflam says, “I can’t help, ah, adding a little color to the facts—most facts need it so badly.”



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David Bruce on Amazon

Larry Elefante at Ohio University’s Front Room (26 February 2020)


Larry Elefante (Above)


Larry Elefante (Above)


Larry Elefante and Dallas Craft (Above)


Dallas Craft (Above)


Celebrities: Dallas Craft, Corbin Marsh, Larry Elefante, Bruce Dalzell, Mark  Hellenberg, and Caitlyn Kraus (Above)







Open Mic Night at Ohio University’s Front Room (21 February 2020)


Megan Bee (Above)


Jacob Rickman (Above)


Jacob Rickman (Above)


John Iskander (Above)


Joshua Corbett (Above)


David Bruce (Above). “If Wonder Woman can be both a princess and a superhero, there is no reason why you can’t be both a princess and a gangster.”


Megan Bee (Above)



Bandcamp Canyon

Megan Bee Bandcamp




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