barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
Today at lunch I spent a couple of hours playing music out on the quad. By and by around a dozen students sat down to listen. Several later came up to thank me for bringing such a joyful atmosphere to the area, and one older man listened for half an hour and then walked up to me, said with a smile "Your music sounds like the entrance to a better place," handed me a $5, and walked away.

Later a traveling young man who is in town for a few days brought a guitar and we jammed for a while and talked about music. Good times.
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
Just had a thoroughly invigorating shouting match with a hellfire-and-homosexuality street preacher out on the quad. I started by trying to counter and/or question the claims he was shouting about God's attitude towards sex, marijuana, and modern sinful college students; realized I wasn't getting anywhere; noticed that there was actually a sizable audience; and decided to fight fire with fire by shouting right back.

I paced around him while shouting (louder than he could; thank you projection workshops) that he was a terrible preacher because he's only shouting and not listening; that the first thing any teacher, preacher, actor, or politician MUST learn is LISTEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE; that he just seems to walk onto a college campus thinking he knows everything about the students already and yells at them without listening; then I turned to the audience, gestured broadly, and shouted "Here's your audience, so listen! Audience! What do you want to tell this fellow?"

They all shouted as one: "GO HOME!" Couldn't have said it better myself. That stunned the preacher just long enough for me to step in front of him, face the assembled students, and give a one-minute impromptu sermon on the Gospel of Fred Rogers, a far better Christian than this so-called preacher, telling the students that today is a better day because they are here, that nobody should tell them they are bad for being themselves, that Mr Rogers and I love them just the way they are, and that it is indeed a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Walked off just in time to be out of sight before the adrenaline wore off. It's not so great to nearly collapse when the audience is watching.
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
Today I was walking back to campus from some errands downtown when a couple of young fellows stopped and one said "Pardon me, sir; is it true that you are capable of casting magical spells?"

I responded "Yes" enthusiastically and without hesitation, because how else is one to answer such a question?

"I knew it," he said, and he and his friend walked on.

Reputation

Jun. 13th, 2014 03:59 pm
barnabas_truman: (army)
One of the group activities at today's end-of-the-year staff meeting involved writing about an individual accomplishment from the past year. I struggled to think of something specific and eventually wrote

"Became a character of mythic reputation within the campus community, rumored to be a wizard, a demigod, an omen of good fortune, whose very presence causes bystanders to understand math and physics better, whose music on the quad can tame wild beasts, whose mystic prowess can calm or drive off angry bigots. This raises student morale and improves publicity for the department."
barnabas_truman: (Default)
My brother and I ended up at the same college, but after a few years I worried that we were drifting apart. I studied math and philosophy; he studied history and politics. I read sci-fi and fantasy; he read biographies and manifestos. I played folk music; he played, well, rather different folk music.

One evening the two of us were walking home together after some event on campus--maybe a movie or a concert; I don't remember. It was very foggy that night, with visibility less than a block in any direction. As we crossed the Richards Overpass, my brother paused, looked out into gray oblivion, and said "What I like about this kind of weather is that it feels like at any moment a unicorn could walk out of the mist."

For a brief moment, if a unicorn had walked out of the mist, it would not have seemed at all unusual. And at that moment I realized that perhaps we weren't so different after all.
barnabas_truman: (Default)
Back in college I sometimes went through phases of really liking a particular sort of candy for a while, and having a packet of that candy in my belt-pouch or backpack wherever I went. First it was circus peanuts, then Mentos, and later Goetze's caramel creams. It was during the caramel creams phase that I met a fellow who could have popped right out of a folk tale.

I was walking past the building nicknamed the Death Star for its bizarre architecture, stark grey concrete walls, and metal paneling when I saw him. He was a tall, thin man, a bit hunched over, with deep-set eyes and a long white beard down to his waist. He wore a wide-brimmed hat and an old brown longcoat. As I approached, he pointed a bony finger at the bag of caramel creams in my hand, looked at me with the look of someone who loved them when he was younger but hadn't had one in years, and said "Can I have one of those?"

Having read plenty of folk tales myself, I knew exactly the sort of misfortunes that can befall selfish characters who refuse to share their lunches with mysterious elderly strangers by the side of the road. "Sure," I said, and gave him one.

"Thank you," he said as he unwrapped it. "I'll put in a good word for you."

I probably should've interpreted this as a simple statement of gratitude, but I was feeling philosophical and in a mood to ask silly questions. Specifically: "Oh? With whom?"

"With him," he said, smiling and pointing skyward. I never saw him again.

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June 2017

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