In lieu of a write-up of last night's magnificent Yo La Tengo concert, I decided to create a basic overview of the YLT catalog, which I have been filling out and listening to last couple months. Generally I prefer to listen to and argue about music in the context of albums rather than individual tracks. YLT is not an exception to this rule. Still, having already had a brief back-and-forth over my, uh, controversial pick for best favorite YLT album on Facebook, I thought I would come at their career from a slightly different angle.
I have broken into six discrete categories based on song duration. Within each category, I have chosen a "Best" track and one that I "Would Most Like to See Performed"--henceforth "WMLtSP." Although I recognize the thin ice upon which I tread--my YLT discography remains incomplete--I do not apologize. Argue about my mistakes, ignorance, and perhaps regrettable proclivity for sappy love songs in the comments, please.
Although a fairly small pool, these tracks have a distinctive feel versus the 2-3 minute tracks.
Best: "Return to Hot Chicken"*
WMLtSP: "Attack on Love"
*"Superstar-Watcher" close behind.
YLT are geniuses of the sub-three-minute pop song. Narrowing these down was brutal, so I have taken the liberty of adding an Honorable Mentions list--along with a couple of footnoted caveats.
Best: "One PM Again"*
Honorable Mentions: "The River of Water," "Stockholm Syndrome," "A Worrying Thing"
*I might actually prefer "The Whole of the Law," but chose to disqualify it as a cover. And I haven't listened to "Well You Better" from the new album enough, but it could make some noise.
**The version on the Today is the Day EP. Note that they performed "Nothing to Hide" last night, and it was epic, so even thought I would love to see them perform it again live, I'd now prefer "Outsmartener."
The slightly more filled out radio-play category.
WMLtSP: "Watch Out for Me Ronnie"**
*"By the Time it Gets Dark" incredibly close behind.
**They performed "Sugarcube" last night, epically, as well as "Black Flowers." I liked but was somewhat skeptical of the latter until last night's mesmerizing version (Ira bum-ba-bum-ing in place of horns, James singing "You can dip your brain in joy..."). Additionally, they performed "Little Honda" with a brain-melting, ten-minute wall of sound inserted in the middle--which my father, who attended and loved the show, referred to as "Mars invades" (refer to the >8 WMLtSP footnote below).
This one is even harder to parse than 2-3--my three favorite YLT tracks fall into this category--hence the return of the Honorable Mentions.
Best: "From a Motel 6"*
WMLtSP: "Drug Test"**
Honorable Mentions: "Sudden Organ,"*** "Magnet," "Pablo and Andrea," "All Your Secrets," "You Can Have it All," "I'll Be Around"
*So this is also the song I WMLtSP--it's probably my all-time favorite YLT track--but I decided to make room for others.
**They performed "Our Way to Fall"--my second-favorite YLT track--and although I did not cry as promised in a recent Facebook status, I was definitively in touch with, you know, my emotions and things. Also, their "Mr. Tough" performance was pure, old-fashioned-dance-party fun.
***My third-favorite YLT track.
Once you push a song past five minutes, you are beyond the standard radio-play pop song. These distinctive creatures are often fuzzy, distorted, even sinister tracks. I love them.
Best: "Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)"*
WMLtSP: "I Heard You Looking"**
*This is also the song I WMLtSP, but, again, made some room.
**"I Was the Fool Beside You For Too Long" close behind. They performed "Ohm" twice last night--once as their stripped-down, acoustic opener. In that context it was, frankly, a bit of a letdown. They brought it out again later, and Ira turned it into a shredding guitar showcase--not a letdown. They also transformed "Before We Run" from a contemplative, horn-driven, sentimental piece into an anthemic rager centered on Ira's blistering guitar work. The last, say, 7 minutes of the song may have been the best moment ("moment") last night. I genuinely think they could have gone on for 20 more minutes, and I would have remained in transfixed awe. And if I were a better person, I would have followed through on my other recent promise. A better me would have grabbed the shoulder of that nice, dignified gentlemen beside me and slugged him square in his amiable face.
The consciousness-altering, simmering mess--another YLT specialty.
Best:"The Story of Yo La Tango"*
Would Most Like to See Performed: "Blue Line Swinger"**
*"Pass the Hatchet I Think I'm Goodkind"is a close second--meaning that the bookends to I Am Not Afraid... own this category. I also have to give "More Stars Than There Are in Heaven" a nod as likely the most overlooked. There's also a remix of "Autumn Sweater" by one Kevin Shields floating around out there that is pretty great.
**Songs that they transform into marathons in concert but that are shorter on the albums don't count. I've already noted the three tracks they did that with--spectacularly--last night ("Ohm," "Little Honda," and "Before We Run").
In writing the obituary of a weather expert, he wrote that there was "no well-established meteorological career path to follow." The same might be said about writing obituaries.
But if there is a path to follow, it may be the one taken by Robert McG. Thomas Jr.: equal parts police beat, society news, and sports reporter — and, perhaps most importantly — a veteran rewrite man.
His best obits make up, "52 McGs.," the first book I've finished reading in 2013.
This week, like every other week, I've had obituaries on my mind, which set the backdrop for a climactic Saturday morning plowing through the back half of this collection. I'd been thinking about the Margalit Fox obituary for Dear Abby, and also the scrips and scraps I've turned up in my newspaper, including one man whose obit included his nickname: "Possum."
But the craft of Thomas's writing, and his deadpan delivery, may have no match. Obviously, I recommend the book, and here are a few favorite passages:
Mary Bancroft, spy
If Mary Bancroft had not existed, a hack novelist would surely have invented her, or tried.
Anton Rosenberg, a hipster ideal
... the Greenwich Village hipster ideal of 1950's cool to such a laid-back degree and with such determined detachment that he never amounted to much of anything...
Toots Barger, queen of the game duckpins
... leading to have duckpins named the Maryland state sport. The campaign failed, perhaps because legislators felt duckpins was just too odd to be the state sport, especially when Maryland already had an official sport: jousting.
Marshall Berger, linguist
A specialist in dialect geography, or dialectology, as it is known in linguistics, he was a dialectologist's dialectologist, a man with such a keen ear for the subtle variations of speech patterns that after listening for a few moments he could often tell a speaker's ethnic background, the neighborhood where he had grown up and his level of education.
Minnesota Fats, pool hustler
He certainly looked like a Minnesota Fats, or at least some Fats. At 5 feet and 10 inches, Mr. Wanderone had weighed as much as 300 pounds. ... Curiously, after he became Minnesota Fats, his new persona led to an actual job, something he had studiously avoided.
A weekly sampler of what we're listening to (new and old), and what we think you might like, too.
For this week's edition, we polled the SadBears on our favorite "nontraditional" holiday songs. (We are, after all, nontraditional students here.) We all figured we'd heard enough "regular" Christmas music (looking at you, Bing Crosby) that we should give readers a taste of some other stuff we like too. Here's what we came up with:
JACK: Julian Casablancas, "I Wish It Was Christmas Today"
The Band, "Christmas Must Be Tonight"
Ravonettes, "Christmas Song"
A mix of new and old. The Casablancas song is mostly a stand-in for the original SNL version of the song, which is one of the most legitimately uplifting ans honest Christmas songs ever written. I also crack up just thinking about Tracy Morgan dancing whenever I hear this.
The second is one of my dad's favorites by one of his favorite bands, so it's always one I kinda liked even though it is kind of cheesy.
The last one is nothing special, but the Ravonettes are really good at making recycled ideas just sound cool. That's what this does.
TONY: Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers, "Christ Was Born On Christmas Morn"
Alabama Sacred Mountain Top Singers, "Sherburne"
If you ask Katie, she'd describe me as the Grinch when it comes to holiday traditions and Christmas music. It's true. Yet when Jack sent this prompt, I knew immediately that I needed to share two non-traditional Christmas albums, and representative songs from each.
First, I think the "Where Will You Be on Christmas Day?" album came out partway through college, and it collects some really odd and catchy Christmas roots music. I think of these ditties often, including my mix selection: "Christ Was Born On Christmas Morn," by the Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers. As a second pick, check out "Sherburne" by the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers. This album would also be a good introduction to roots music, if you haven't dabbled much.
Second, of more recent vintage, is "An East Nashville Christmas," which just came out this year as a Nashville musicians' fundraiser for the homeless. It's really diverse and extremely listenable (whatever that means). You can stream some samples here: http://eastnashvillechristmas.com/
CHASE: The Hives and Cindy Lauper, "Christmas Duel"
I've never been huge into holiday music, and my taste really runs the spectrum depending on mood. A solid rendition of "Carol of the Bells" (probably my favorite traditional holiday song) will impress me one day, and then the next I might listen to Mariah Carey (no shame). But if I'm being honest, I've been avoiding holiday music this year.
Sufjan Stevens makes up 90% of my Advent/Christmas
music diet every year. My consistent favorites each year are "Once in
Royal David's City" and "O Come O Come Emmanuel." This year, though, I
was particularly drawn to the above track, "Put the Lights on the Tree,"
and "Holy Holy Holy."
ECON: The Royal Guardsmen, "Snoopy's Christmas"
OATESS: Tom Waits, "New Years' Eve"
EDIT: For some reason this Tom Waits song was on Grooveshark, briefly, but then taken down. Or else I'm crazy and it was never on Grooveshark in the first place. Regardless, listen here because it's a good song.
A weekly sampler of what we're listening to (new and old), and what we think you might like, too.
JACK: Black Sabbath, "Supernaut" I really wanted to share this
"Chopped and Screwed" version of Black Sabbath's "A National Acrobat"
that I heard about on a blog, but I'm not sure this is actually going to
be on Grooveshark. So listen to that here
(WARNING: Deep stoner vibes ahead... even for Sabbath, it reeks of pot.).
In its place: Tony Iommi summons Satan (I think) with the best guitar
riff ever written. TONY: "Fancy Free," by By Lightning! I'm choosing local with By Lightning! from a thick field of recent
listening, which has ranged widely from Metric, to Frank Ocean, to
alt-J, and to an especially large shitton of Dr. Dog. I'm seeing By
Lightning! on Thursday night, finally fulfilling my need to see them
after missing their two most recent shows because of scheduling
conflicts. By Lightning! is a big band of folky indie types with a very
tall bearded guitarist who, by appearance, might fit better in a
hardcore band, and who sort of reminds me of the grim reaper. A few
other members are pretty and pretty folky. And then their drummer wears a
pair of ultra-thick, white-rimmed glasses that glow from the back of
the stage as he beats away. I actually saw this drummer perform with
another local act, Jonny Fritz, and I've become somewhat of a fanboy.
Katie recently told me she saw him jogging near our house, wearing those
glasses. CHASE: Charles Bradley, "Why Is It So Hard?" I'm in love with Charles Bradley. And he makes me think about Louisville. And he's the screaming eagle of soul. ECON: Yo La Tengo, "Before We Run" Because Yo La Tengo has never disappointed me, ever. *NOTE: This song was not listed in Grooveshark. Please refer to the link above for the version on YouTube. GOAT: The Mountain Goats, "Harlem Roulette" I've been listening to
the latest Mountain Goats album Transcendental Youth a lot lately, and
this one sticks with me. Good scene-setting, something cleverish to say
about the loneliest people in the whole wide world. JON: Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, "Pennies From Heaven"
The song reminds me of Penny. MARK: The Mountain Goats, "The Diaz Brothers" I've been listening to this album nonstop for a couple months now. It's
hard to pick a track. I don't think this is actually the best track, but
it's the catchiest, and I do love it. The whole album, though, is
We received three more comments from Dr. Reist's former students, memories about the man and his impact on them.
JACK HITTINGER '08 I tried my hardest to take one of Dr. Reist's classes every semester. I damn near succeeded, too. Here's a list of the courses I took from him over the years:
-Theodore Dreiser and the American Dream -Jewish-American
Literature (the semester after that course he was taking roll and when
he got to me, said, "Hittinger. You were in that Holocaust thing with
-"Everyman" honors seminar -English 370 (modern American Literature) -Vonnegut
I'll be honest: I didn't always know what I was learning when I signed up for Reist classes. Mostly, I just thought it would be an easy grade with a funny guy I liked to talk to.
For example, it was something of an open secret among English majors
that you could extend your normal paper length by substituting the
standard Times New Roman/12-point font paper for Courier New/14-point
font. Dr. Reist didn't care. Or at least, he
never made any intentions that he cared. I got A's on all my papers so
(I assume) he didn't dock me for not following MLA style. (I also always
addressed him as "The Rev. Dr. John Seth Reist,
Jr." on the papers' headers, and he always gave me a check mark for it.
Not sure if it was actually him giving me points, but I like to think
His tests were long but usually contained questions such as "Write
your own question," or "Write a story involving three of the characters
from the works we read and how they relate back to the overall theme of
'The American Dream.'" My stories, as did those of many others,
invariably involved the Rest Twins showing up by the end of the blue
It wasn't until later in my college career that I appreciated just
what Dr. Resit was teaching us. About literature, yes, but also about
life, faith and America. That sounds really corny, but it's true: I
perhaps learned more about these three things from him than I did from
any Hillsdale professor.
They're all connected, and Reist was living
proof: This neat, funny little guy who never said something he didn't
mean and stood up for his convictions in the face of adversity. What's
more American than that?
(PS, This has nothing to do with any of that, but the very best e-mail I ever received was from Dr. Reist.
before class I sent him this long email asking a couple of questions
that probabaly merited a face-to-face with him instead of an e-mail. But
I was lazy and didn't think of that, so instead i sent him an email.
A few hours later, just before class was set to begin, I received a response. Two letters, no punctuation or anything:
That was it. I really wish I could find the email but it's disappeared into the internet somewhere.)
NICK TABOR '09 (NOTE: These comments were written before Dr. Reist passed away, and were intended to be read in his presence. Nick wanted the message to appear in it's original form, though, saying that, "If it was good enough before, I think it's good enough still.)
During the week I graduated, about four of my buddies and I
went to Chicago Water Grill with Dr. Reist. John Krudy was there, and Dennis
Walton, Sam Heisman, and Emrys Van Maren. I had dinner with Dr. Reist many
times during college and this was one of the last. I'm sure he had a martini or
two and later probably a glass of Merlot. When we were all feeling very
comfortable he started in earnest telling jokes.
Dr. Reist had a reputation for telling off-color jokes, but
mostly the ones he told in classes and around campus were like that “Honor,
offer” one. But oh my god, at the restaurant that night, I remember feeling a
bit uneasy when I noticed families sitting nearby. He may have told truly the
dirtiest jokes I have ever heard. And some of them were hardly even jokes—they
were just crude descriptions of sex!
He had us laughing so hard our ribs hurt and we were almost
But I did spend a lot of time in his classes, and had he
only made me laugh, that wouldn't have been enough. I want to try and get at
another reason I kept returning.
One of the classes I did was Kurt Vonnegut. In a way
Vonnegut's easy to parse without a professor's help. But he's deceptively easy,
and in this way he resembles Reist.
My favorite Vonnegut novel is Cat's Cradle. It's very
funny. It has an apocalypse where the world gets covered in this poisonous
blue-white frost, and the narrator realizes the survivors will soon die of
thirst, hunger, rage, or apathy. But after the disaster, in a cave, he has a
“sordid sex episode” with another survivor, a woman he's been eying all through
She resists. Afterward she says, “It would be very sad to
have a little baby now, don't you agree?” He says yes. “Well,” she says,
“that's the way little babies are made, in case you didn't know.”
Maybe it sounds funny, but I think it's terminally serious.
She's just cast his action in a new light of cruelty. Sex could mean subjecting
a new person to a life of suffering, and the philosophical implications are
more than a little significant. Of course the story moves swiftly along. The
sorrow is momentary and it's so it's easy to miss. You can hear Dr. Reist
saying, “Hey, it's how I met my wife.”
I wonder how many times this happened in Dr. Reist's classes
and I didn't notice. I think about his stories of escapades in the Army. He
spent two years in France,
never went into combat, and he often said they were the best years of his life.
But he sometimes made passing remarks about how difficult they were, and it
confused me, and I asked him once when we were talking in the library, passing
an afternoon. His mood was serious. He said, “Nick, they were the worst years
of my life. They were miserable.” I don't think he said any more, and I didn't
prod. It's not hard to imagine him feeling out of place in the military.
I think his graveness was always there, just elusive. He
consistently taught such heavy, sorrowful literature. While I was here he did
Theodore Dreiser, A.E. Housman, Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway. He'd draw our
attention to a Housman poem about soldiers, or to Jake and Bill's travails in Paris in The Sun Also
Rises, or Robert Jordan's fate. Any of which might remind him of his own
time as a soldier. He'd sing this jingle I think he learned in the Army: “Drink
a highball at night fall, / Be good fellows while we may. For tomorrow may
bring sorrow, / So let's drink up today.” He'd grin and bounce in his seat and
have us laughing again. One time he said, “Hey, if we don't laugh about these
things, we'll cry.”
I know of some writers whose work reflects this duality, but
I've never met anyone who embodies it like Dr. Reist. It's a credit to his
wisdom and his empathy, and his resiliency, but also how purely funny he is.
Thank you, Dr. Reist.
MARIA SERVOLD '10
As a senior year at Hillsdale, I took a seminar-style class with Dr. Reist that covered the works of John Updike.
We read the "Rabbit" series, some of Updike's poetry, another novel, and several short stories.
As I'm sure most people reading this know, Updike often
wrote about sex. The Rabbit quartet, especially, is full of it. All
kinds of it. In extreme detail.
matter of the class prompted some interesting discussions, but one
anecdote sticks out above all others in mind - probably because my face
was bright red by the end of the incident.
Dr. Reist started off this particular class with a simple question: "What is 'la petite mort?'" he asked. "Who here speaks French?"
I knew the answer to that question - I was a French minor - but was nervous about raising my hand. Would knowing the answer to this make me look bad? I wondered.
However, no one else volunteered, so I gingerly responded: "the little death..." hoping the conversation would end.
"Yes...but what does it really mean?" Reist probed.
"...an orgasm," I said, face hidden.
Reist told me I was correct and then proceeded to make noises and wave his arms about, demonstrating the power of such a moment.
"Ooo! Ahh! Yes! Yes! *grunt* *grunt* Yes!"
impression went on for far longer than any real "petite death" could
possibly last and we all looked at each other, wondering when the
awkwardness would end, while still howling with laughter.
It was an embarrassing moment, but it was absolutely
hilarious, and I will never forget it. It was also probably the most
awkward I felt during a class at Hillsdale, right up there with
the "thigh-warmed chocolate" class with Dr. Somerville. But we'll save
that for another day.
When I first received the opportunity to speak about Dr. Reist, I recognized immediately that it was something I needed to do, despite the unease I feel when it comes to public speaking. And as Nov. 2 was set in stone, and the date in which I and others would gather to honor the professor inched closer, I set to work trying to craft some coherent remarks to illustrate just why the man touched my life, and the lives of so many others. Of course, we were all too late. Reist succumbed to illness the day before three of us on this blog arrived on Hillsdale's campus. The tribute to him was postponed to another date, one I'm afraid I won't be able to attend. And while these words will be heard, read by someone else, it seemed appropriate to leave this here, too. I've left it in its roughest form. It was written as a speech, and you'll see that here:
of all, I want to thank Dr. Somerville for pulling much of this
together. I don’t get back to Hillsdale very often, but I couldn’t think
of a better reason to return than to say a few words about Dr. Reist,
who, in my opinion, has played an integral role on this campus for many,
many years. I took Dr. Reist every year I attended classes here, so I
learned very early on about this neat, kind, and totally strange man --
someone that I’ve consider to be an invaluable part of my education.
I’m a reporter, which is basically to say that I’m naturally
predisposed to be a bad public speaker, unlike Dr. Reist, who really
knew how to work a room. I spend most of my days talking one on one with
all sorts of people, then retreat to a desk in a messy newsroom, where,
from behind a computer screen, I write stories about other people’s
lives. It’s a day-in-day-out solo effort (for the most part) and I
rarely speak to crowds, and honestly, that’s probably for the best. But
in thinking about what I’d say here, and how I’d say it, I did consider
trying my hand at Reist’s own style. But I think everyone knows it just
can’t be replicated -- so very much unlike Dr. Reist, I’m going start
at the beginning.
disclosure: I’m a Dr. Reist fanboy. Have been for years. My best
friends and I started a group blog named in his honor (The Sad Bear, an
expression of his) a year or so before we graduated, and have used it
to stay in touch over the years. It’s there where we’ve archived some of
Reist’s most quotable gems: the weird, the alarming, and the downright
gut-busting things he’d say off the cuff in classes.
he was my academic adviser, and thus, the first professor I actually
met when I arrived here from Louisville, Kentucky. I’m not sure how they
do it anymore, but when I first got here, you had dinner with your
academic adviser and small group of your freshman peers a day or so
before classes. The idea was that you’d break bread, talk a little about
yourself, and get your first introduction to what you could expect from
the Liberal Arts. Capital “L,” capital “A”.
like most college freshmen, I didn’t really know what to expect, but
still had this general romantic idea of what higher education would be
like. I mean, I’d seen the library, sat in on a class or two during my
visit, yadda yadda yadda.
just say this: It is impossible to meet a man like Dr. Reist for the
first time and not be totally disarmed, sort of amused, and utterly
befuddled. Within minutes of sitting down at his kitchen table for
pizza, I’m pretty sure he’d dropped a curse word, possibly told us that,
“There is a God and she is black,” and brought up the Roche scandal. I
remember the prudes all shifted in their seats, something for which I’m
sure he took much delight. And then he interviewed us, with rapid-pace
abandon, leaving us completely stunned with his turn-of-phrase
commentary and songs. When we left, the sun had already set. It was dark
outside, and I couldn’t make eye contact with any of my peers as we
walked back to our cars. The silence reeked of just how bewildered we
all were. I think we all had the same question: Who was this jokester
and what the hell just happened?
more importantly for me, what was going to happen at 8 o’clock on my
first day of classes. I was, after all, slated to take Reist’s
hour-long, freshman English course first thing in the morning...multiple
days a week.
fair to say that, as freshmen, we weren’t prepared for what we got.
Anyone who’s taken a class with Reist knows his teaching style is
untraditional. To us, it seemed like an hour-long sort of schizzo,
semi-Socratic runaway train of jokes and warped metaphors. A kind of
comedy caravan that included deep questions about God scorning Job,
Oedipus and his mother, and mentions of some strange work called “Soul
on Ice,” by Elder Cleavage. It was wild stuff -- but fitting, especially
for students who would go on to count themselves as non-traditional
course, it never took much to ignite discussion. I remember when we
were studying Oedipus, and one of the athletes in the room raised his
hand during our third day of discussion.
“So, like, why is his last name Rex?”
howled, though not unkindly, and we were off on a meandering course
that surely led to an answer for that intrepid student, but also Heisman
trophy trivia, a stream of compliments about his wife (who I can attest
is a wonderful woman), and jokes about the college. Dr. Reist delighted
in proffering his opinion about college matters, and admitted
(sometimes with a giddy air of pride in his voice) to being a “pain in
the ass” for administrators.
“Listen, Larry,” he said once of Dr. Arnn, “Winston Churchill did not die for your sins.”
he often critiqued the obvious. I remember the time he reminded us of
the college’s unspoken rule that there be six eagle statues for each
student on campus. Which really isn’t that hard to believe given the
state of the Heritage Room in the library.
Of course, as my time at Hillsdale progressed, I dedicated most of my life to The Collegian,
which always had the unquestioned support of Dr. Reist. He actually had
a small stable of satirical names for the paper. I’d pass him while
walking across campus, and he’d always stop to ask me a question about
the latest edition of “The Hellsdale Collision” or “The Hillsdale
Concussion.” I remember that whenever he did voice a criticism, he
always balanced it by talking about why he felt a student press was
essential to the college campus. I cherish the several closed-door talks
I had with him, when I had questions about the especially sensitive
article ideas that inevitably cross an editor’s desk at the paper. He’d
sit with his arms crossed (exposing his infamous weather guards), and
listen with pastoral interest before helping you work through the matter
is something very real, and very earthy about Reist and his presence
here. Like I said before, coming to Hillsdale is a commitment to the
Liberal Arts, and it’s easy to get swept up in the high-minded
principles espoused by the professors here (Reist included). It’s not
like you abandoned those when you walked into Reist’s classes, but he
brought you back to Earth. He was always a reminder for me that I live
outside those texts, and the liberal arts bubble. He, and his jokes and
his songs and his whistling, helped keep me from taking myself too
of my most vivid memories of Reist actually took place when I was in a
crazed sort of haze. It was in my junior year during an evening class on
Kurt Vonnegut (one of my favorite courses here, and one that, frankly, I think should be taught more often). Reist had an ironclad
attendance policy: you miss a class, you drop a grade. So, one
night, even though I was a feverish incubus of the bubonic plague, I
kept to the syllabus and decided to attend.
Anyways, it was a bad idea, and an hour-and-a-half later, I was
staggering home in a snowstorm alongside my good friend Tony Gonzalez,
who, encouraged me along with conversation. I’m pretty sure I was
slightly delirious, and probably responded in unintelligible grunts.
When we got to our apartment, which was behind Simpson, I immediately
got in the shower and sat there for about a half-hour under lukewarm
water. I could barely concentrate, and I remember just hearing Reist’s
one-liners playing over and over in my head.
“Get a job, Larry. Go suck an egg. Go hug a nut.”
“Hey whoa man, yeah man, hey whoa!”
pretty sure the synapses in my brain had reached a critical failure point, causing them to explode left and right, cementing Reist into
my conscience, for good or for bad.
he wanted to entertain, possibly. But there was something to his
story-style teaching that stuck. There was an implicit sense of trust
that, on the other side of the course, you’d have picked up something,
some invaluable lesson. Maybe it’d be rooted in the text, but it would
always apply to life. To the bigger picture. And that stuck with me.
couple of years ago, for The Sad Bear blog, my friends and I asked Dr.
Reist if he’d record a video of himself offering us some life advice, the idea was that we'd save it on YouTube.
It’s weird to think that one of my favorite possessions lives on the
internet, but I’ve gone back to that video multiple times, and each time
I swear I walk away with something new to think about. It’s also odd
because, in a way, the video was our attempt to bottle and preserve Dr. Reist
-- something that seems impossible based on experiences in the
is one Reist line that I’ll never forget. It’s come in handy as I’ve
graduated and moved into the “real world,” where you don’t have seasonal
breaks, and where you experience the ups and downs that you just can’t
learn in college. I forget which class it was where he said it, but
sometimes when sitting at my desk on a down day, wondering what the hell
I’m doing with myself -- it pops into my head:
“Life’s a bitch, but some days it has puppies.”
true. And today, being able to come here and say these things, it’s one
of those days. One of those puppy days. And I couldn’t be more honored
to talk about this man, a self-professed, “neat, funny little guy” who
touched many, many lives while he was here and shaped this campus for
the better. Thank you.
Additional eulogies and links can be found at The Original Sad Bear: Dr. John S. Reist.