Thursday, August 14, 2008

Your Finest Moment

I was reminded today of a speech I gave in my Senior year English class, and thought, in retrospect, that it might have been my finest moment of high school. Well, at least one of my favorite moments...It was better than being on trial, in my Junior year English class, for practicing witchcraft because I listened to the Grateful Dead. I think we must have been reading Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" at the time. Don Reeves made a formidable prosecutor.

This might seem a bit strange, but for me one of my favorite events was giving a talk on George Orwell's essay Politics and the English Language and then using one of Ronald Reagan's speeches to demonstrate all of the ways that Reagan violated Orwell's rules. It's one of those things that, looking back, I'm proud of.

Can you believe that Reagan was the President from the time we were finishing 6th grade (1980) until we were halfway through college in 1988?

In comments please post your own favorite moments of high school that were related to academics or the school experience in some way. Especially those moments that you might not have known at the time would stick with you. Going to see Van Halen at the Cow Palace on their "1984" tour does not count...

20 comments:

Scholz said...

My favorite moment (okay more like a month) was the sort of sad real life experience of our senior Mock Congress.
Jon Engstrom and I co-authored a pretty weak (if I do so say so myself) piece of legislation. I believe the gist of the piece was tying increases in the military budget to increases in the education budget (itself a noble idea).
What was interesting about the legislation, was its journey. Iery much unlike the naively optimistic "I'm just a bill" schoolhouse rock video. Instead of moving smoothly on its merits from one committee to the floor and then with a clear majority to the president, this bill required all the maneuvering you could imagine.
First both authors and Clint (the Speaker of the House) found themselves in the same classroom, which served as committee. We were in the "Energy Committee." But, since the system for where bills get reviewed was pretty arbitrary, we had it assigned to our own committee. We dominated the committee (most students were not overly excited about the assignment, and the popular powerhouses of Jon and Clint could control discussion). The bill was passed with virtually no discussion.
Clint the assured that the bill would be near the top of the docket for voting in the general assembly (the 2nd as I recall, the first being a vote to "legalize it mon") The docket contained over a dozen bills, but discussion on ours took several class periods. Then when it looked like the bill would lose by a few votes, we asked for a Roll Call vote (ah Parliamentary Procedure). Empty promises were made, peer pressure applied, boredom set in. The bill passed, and I think the mock congress ended soon after.
All in all, minus the corrupt campaign contributions, it was a good example of how broken our system was. I know some of the faculty were hoping for something a little more inspirational. I remember being a little disappointed, it felt like cheating.
BUT, I am not sure they could have gotten something more EDUCATIONAL. I am not much surprised seeing my favorite state and federal legislators getting dirty in the process.
Maybe Jon and Clint can fill in their perspectives on this.

Dr. Jeff said...

Ah, Mock Congress, I remember it well. You had to submit a piece of paper to the Chair that said you wanted to speak. Someone (anyone know who? aha, another Northgate Mystery) submitted the name "Mike Hunt" which Clint Stewart read out loud, the "joke" of course falling flat in such a serious setting. Reid Stevens at some point busted out the classic "When you assume you make an ass out of you and me".

I remember getting up there and saying that in a time of reduced budgets, we will need to cut spending for athletics to maintain the academics. I forget the details. The next day, one of the athletics coaches came up to me and said that he liked my comment. I was confused about why he said that, as he had a vested interest in athletics, obviously. Was it a veiled threat?

Cut to 2008. NMSU athletics department runs up a $5 million deficit, while the professor's salaries are among the worst in the country...

Elizabeth said...

I remember Mock Congress. For some reason, I remember the exact clothes and shoes I wore - probably because I only owned one "business appropriate" suit at the time. My bill had something to do with making food companies disclose the amount of sodium on the nutrition labels of their products. I know they are required to do that now, but didn't they already do that back then too? Hmmmm. I wouldn't exactly call it my finest moment. I'll have to think more about that one :)

Nici Grace said...

...did I go to the same high school with you all??? I don't remember any of this! My only memory of Mock Congress was when Kelly O'Keefe made big waves with the administration by refusing to wear the required dress code for girls - i.e. skirt/dress, and instead opted for a tie and pants. Go Kelly! How sad that I didn't get much out of the process - apparently there was much more going on than the fashion drama that stole my attention.

Dr. Jeff said...

We need Clint to weigh in on Mock Congress, with a view from the Speaker's Chair.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Nici! I had totally forgotten that skirt vs. pants incident with Kelly O'Keefe but now that you mention it - it does ring a bell. Good for her! :)

Dr. Jeff said...

"You need to FIGHT for your RIGHT to wear PANTS."

Actually, fighting for the right to wear no pants would be more amusing...

Elizabeth said...

In my Seattle neighborhood (which is very much like Berkeley) there are quite a few men who wear kilts called "Utilikilts". It's pretty common actually. I wonder how that would go over in Mock Congress - or the real Congress for that matter ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'd say the high point of my high school career was discovering that any "project" that you did for Mr. Friss that required the lights to be dimmed would get an automatic A. I did a Joseph Cambell movie (with Clint and Don Dornblaser), a music video (with Don and Matt Carter), a sock puppet musical (with Don and Kim Veitch), and my personal favorite: an interpretive dance with Don Reeves.

It just doesn't get any better than that.

-Mike S.

Kenrick said...

I remember running for some position in Mock congress basically on the platform of "my last name is Mock, so vote for me" and was appropriately defeated :)

Anonymous said...

We still need to get that video on YouTube or at least embedded on this site. I remember Clint running around, kicking shopping carts out of the way, and Debbie Devoe dressed in a toga.

Matty said...

If I could stick a knife in my heart
Suicide right on stage
Would it be enough for your teenage lust
Would it help to ease the pain? Ease your brain?

I said I know it's only rock 'n roll but I like it
I know it's only rock 'n roll but I like it, like it, yes, I do

Dr. Jeff said...

Matt are you talking about our Air Band moment? OK, there was an outside airband, but this was inside the gym, with the lights out. You were Mick, Mike Totman I think played bass, and I was Charlie Watts on drums. Was that the song? I can't remember who else was in the band. I recall getting kind of tired because I didn't have anything to bounce the drum sticks off of, so it was getting tedious and I lost the beat. Forgive me Charlie. What was the event? Were there other bands? I remember being totally shocked that people were coming up to me afterwards congratulating me. For what? Cool! Fame! Matt had Mick DOWN. Better than the guy from SNL, Chris Kattan was it?

FUN. I was learning Honky Tonk Woman on guitar tonight, cause it is in the same key as "Fearless" by Pink Floyd, in open G tuning...OK back to the program.

Greg said...

I remember Matt's obession with the Stones well. We went to see Let's Spend the Night Together when it came out in theatrical release. And yes, he could channel Mick quite well

Sue said...

Not MY personal finest - but one that always makes me laugh:

Well into a tedious and boring mock congress Clint Stewart announces that the speaker can call upon any member to take his seat for a brief break. Who does he call?

John Weisel!

Of course John was asleep in the back of the auditorium and had to be woken up. He came, good naturedly (as he always was). The whole thing was a hoot!

Mrs. T. said...

My husband has a view of the capitol and Bill from "I'm just a Bill" on his desk. My students watch it a few times a month. Cracks me up every time.

Good memories? I enjoy reading all of yours, clearly I must have gone to a different school or was on some other track.

I do remember how relaxing and fun the cruise around SF Bay was after graduation. Those of us outside chatted out on the bow -- people I hadn't ever really talked to before. I recall that was really nice.

ROCK ON Kelly!!!! I'm so proud you wore pants, that does tickle a memory somewhere in my brain.

meg s. said...

oh I should have posted under meg s, sorry. Nici you had ALL the great fashion sense, I still have none. You were an awesome dancer as I recall as well. Didn't you and your friends always do something in the stage talent things?

Matty said...

I think it was Darren Whittaker and maybe Seth Goodman...no Totman.

I think the song was actually Brown Sugar. You were the perfect Charlie though...I think we got in a little trouble for that one. I think Tina Cassano and John Engstrom scolded me because it was part of some week long competition and we lost points or something. Someone from the audience handed me a faux joint and I went with it..

The Mick thing has always good for a few laughs, especially during my bar tending days.

Mr. Herney said...

I recall being the Editorial Cartoonist for the Sentinel. What a total cake job. Two weeks of screwing around and then a half hour of drawing just before we went to press. I think I even won an award for best editorial cartoon. (Not the kind of reinforcement I needed during my years of really focusing on under achievement.)
Anyhow, Jon Hastings and I put together a satirical version of the paper to be included as an insert along with the April first issue of the Sentinel. We had “humorous” articles, advertisements and want ads. Sadly, we couldn’t hold a candle to “The Daily Show” or “The Onion” but we tried.
The pièce de résistance was to be a centerfold from “Tall Guy” Magazine. We worked for hours on it. The subject was Principal Bill Hansen. We had written a little bio for him that included turn-ons and turn-offs such as, long walks in the country, fresh tins of Captain Black, tweed coats, tardiness, Teachers Union meetings, etc.
I had just completed the drawing for the layout. Mr. Hansen was wearing wingtip shoes, black socks with garters, a white ribbed tank top(I believe they call them ‘wife beaters’ now...I like ‘tank top’ better), and boxers with hearts on ‘em. I was very happy with the caricature. It seemed to capture his essence, pipe and all.
We showed David Wood our creation and, after laughing an entire cheese sandwich through his nose, he told us to get approval from Mr. Hansen.
We rushed to the office and pitched the centerfold idea to him. He asked to see the drawing. As he took it from my hand, he smiled. Then, without saying a word, he folded it and put it in his coat pocket and walked away. (I knew I should have photocopied it.)
I ran into him two years later and he said that he thought about me every day. I asked him why. He told me that he showed his wife that drawing and she loved it so much that she had it framed and hung it with the family pictures in the hall. He passed by it every day and shuddered to think what it would be like if it had been printed and given out to the whole school.
That’s my little Northgate memory.

Kevin said...

So, the very highest moment at Northgate was spent with Jon Hastings and Darren Whittaker. We were doing a sketch in the annual talent show called "They're Naked and They Do Dance" or something like that.

We were gathering more than a few giggles and the "punch line" hit and a student rolled out of their seat and into the aisle laughing. We brought silliness to the Little Theater in a very big way. But he silliness was more like the whipped cream.

Jon and Darren were both folks I never understood. I always wanted to feel life the way they felt life... Being with them and meshing in a manner that buffuddled folks to hysterics... well... I guess that was pure bliss for me.