Messing with a Mascot

illiniI was blessed to attend the University of Illinois, where I earned a couple degrees that empowered me to search for a job and exhibit some critical thinking.

Today, I want to apply some of that critical thinking to call my Alma Mater to task regarding the naming of a mascot.  You might think this is a relatively unimportant issue but it is indicative of the political correctness that has grasped much of our culture, especially our institutions of higher learning.

When I attended the university we had a wonderful symbol called Chief Illiniwek. He was not a mascot.  He didn’t lead cheers or prowl the sidelines during football games.  He had a routine that he performed at halftime that was designed to be a tribute to the school and the state. This went on from 1926 until 2007.

Then, in a response to complaints from a few American Indians (or native Americans or first nations people or whatever they wish to be called) the school did away with the Chief. He was replaced by an orange “I”. And the athletic teams continued to be called “Fighting Illini”.

There now is a move afoot to designate the Kingfisher as the mascot of the university. And while a Kingfisher is a perfectly respectable bird and common in parts of Illinois, it can’t ever be a symbol in the sense that the chief was. In fact, as opposed to performing with honor, I expect there will be some gullible undergraduate dressed up in a bird outfit running around during football and basketball games.

Tim_Moore_Kingfish_Amos_'n'_AndyI also predict that someone will be offended by the Kingfisher.  Oh, I don’t think bird lovers will care.  I have a pet bird who is a truly noble creature, although I would not recommend her as a school mascot. I’ve seen Kingfishers when I’m on the lake or river fishing and they are rather impressive. They also are much better at catching fish than I am.

But it seems to me that Kingfisher might remind some people of Kingfish, who was a star of the live radio program “Amos and Andy”. The show later appeared on television in the early 1950s, when I was alive but I doubt any of the current undergrads at the University of Illinois were.

I won’t go into a detailed description of “Amos and Andy” other than to say that it supposedly took place in Harlem and portrayed African Americans in a condescending and stereotypical way.  It was removed from television after repeated complaints by civil rights groups and religious leaders.

Kingfish was one of the stars of the show. He was always dreaming up a scheme to get rich, none of which ever worked. He was not a model for young people.

So, ye politically correct makers of mascots at my Alma Mater, don’t be surprised if your new mascot upsets people even more than your university’s old symbol. That’s the way political correctness works.

The Glory and Gratitude of Aging

ShoulderOsteoarthritisFirst, I want to affirm that the words that follow shall in no way be construed to be an admission on my part that I am getting old.

Having said that, certain medical issues have reared their ugly heads in the past several years. One of them came to a head this week and caused me to choose a path of gratitude over a path of general grumpiness.

I offer three case examples from my personal medical experience.

  1. I have significant hearing loss. To deal with this problem I wear hearing aids. They are small and most people don’t notice them. Frankly, I don’t care if they do.
  2. I have glaucoma, which can lead to blindness. Every night before I go to bed I put a drop of fancy medicine in each eye. I have been doing this for a couple years and the glaucoma seems to be arrested.
  3. I have “significant” osteoarthritis in both shoulders. This causes lots of pain and loss of motion. I’ve had physical therapy, which helped a little. I’ve had cortisone shots to reduce the inflammation. I take pain meds daily, but nothing addicting and nothing likely to rot out my liver. If the pain and lack of motion get bad enough I’ll have surgery; the doctor can put in new joints.

A visit this week to the orthopedist for the shoulder damage got me thinking about my fragility. I have much I could complain about.

After all, if I had lived a few decades ago, I would be going deaf and blind and would be getting unable to lift my arms.

Instead, miraculous devices help me to hear, a wonderful drug keeps my eyes healthy, and a skilled technician can poke me with needles (painlessly) in the shoulder and stop the pain.

In other words, I have much to be grateful for. And I choose to be grateful.

I also commit to the thoroughly Catholic practice of offering up whatever pain and suffering I endure for people who are truly old and sick.

Getting to the Bottom of the Truth

bandI made a bold prediction to my wife when I heard the Super Bowl 2020 halftime show would feature Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

The prediction: there would be much shaking of bottoms. And so there was.

I’m not going to give you a detailed description of the performance. If you missed it you can watch any of many replays available online. I won’t provide a link.

In summary, there was singing and dancing, with the two stars and lots of other people in outfits that got skimpier as the show wore on. There was a good deal of gyrating, suggestive gestures, skin, and, yes, bottom shaking. One of the stars demonstrated her skill at pole dancing.

The bottom line (so to speak) was that it was extremely sexual and inappropriate.

I have two-year-old twin granddaughters and two grandsons around a year in age.  They don’t watch much television and after this Super Bowl, I won’t be arguing for them to spend more time in front of the screen.

My wife and I watched halftime together, partly to see if my advance prediction was correct. I’m glad I wasn’t watching with my daughter, granddaughters or mom (God rest her soul).

The football itself was reasonably entertaining and the result in doubt until late in the game. That is good; it was supposed to be an athletic competition.

There also were a couple highpoints before the game. Gospel singer Yolanda Adams delivered a breathtaking rendition of “God Bless America” and Singer Demi Lovato did a glorious job with the national anthem.

A halftime show featuring the two of them singing would have been truly entertaining – and the kids wouldn’t have been scandalized. A marching band would be another good choice.

But I suppose kids aren’t the targeted advertising demographic for the Super Bowl. The desired audience is young men who like to party and fantasize about shaking female bottoms.

And if you are a woman who thinks this halftime performance empowers women, you also are fantasizing.