Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lots to Blog About, No Time to Blog It

There is so much that I want to talk about this week, but thus far, the clock hasn't been my friend.

Most of my waking hours at home lately have been devoted to a fairly large arranging project for one of my combos at school; it involves not only making parts to all our music for some new players, but also entering them all into notation software, so that I have a permanent copy of everything (and so that the players don't have to read my handwritten parts anymore). It's finally done, but not with enough time to blog tonight (if nothing else, I "curfew" myself at midnight on days when I have to wake up at 6 a.m. the next morning, though I'd prefer to hit the sack at 11 most of the time).

So thanks as always for your patience, and the discussions from the last two days (as well as the conclusion of last week's three-part series on teaching and technology) will be up before too long.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Advertising As Art (or, The Greatest Song You Can't Download...Yet?)

As a jazz musician, the bulk of my listening over the past several years has been in that genre. Still, that's not to say that I don't have a soft spot for a really well-crafted pop song every now and then, and my CD collection supports that idea.

I should also mention that, during their visits over the years, Mom and Dad have gotten me hooked on HGTV, which they watch religiously during Clock Tower. During the summer, I've been known to flip over there after the Rangers game, and I watched a bit last night to take my mind off how badly both the Rangers and Cowboys did at the same time. (If you're wondering, my favorite HGTV show is "House Hunters"; I always like to try and guess which of the three houses the prospective buyers will choose, and I'm right more often than not.)

Needless to say, most of the commercials on HGTV are of the home-improvement variety, and one that's been airing for a while really jumps out at me. It's an ad for Olympic paint, and not only is the concept cool--the person doing the painting sees future enjoyment of the room being painted (Mom holding up baby, Dad or Son reading the paper while drinking coffee at the table, kids jumping on the bed, etc.) in shadows on the wall--but the tune being sung behind it is thirty seconds of pure pop perfection. And thankfully, it's on YouTube so I can share it here:

After seeing the spot a number of times, I decided to find out if that was in fact a real song (as opposed to something created specifically for the commercial) and who the artist was. But a bit of Googling led me to some advertising music forums (yes, you truly can find a page for nearly anything on the Internet!), and discovered that it was in fact written for the commercial.

But one of the posters at the first linked forum provided a bit of hope with the response he got from writing the company directly:
Campbell-Ewald created the music specifically for the commercial. There is currently no name to the song or a particular group that it belongs to. Because of the positive feedback that the commercial has obtained, further development may occur and the song may be extended.
So maybe it will become a full-blown song someday. And kudos to the Campbell-Ewald folks for putting a bit more artistry than usual into their advertising.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Forward March!

If you have no connection to the world of academia, you might still consider it "summer," but those of us in education have already switched over to fall mode. And even though it's not yet September, the beloved annual ritual known as high school football is already underway here in Texas. (Not everyone has started, mind you; this is "Zero Week," which means that the teams who played last night or Thursday will have a bye week later in the season.) And with the launch of football means the launch of another annual ritual that's much closer to me: Marching band.

As I've mentioned before, I have all kinds of appreciation for marching band--as long as I'm not the one having to direct it (or march in it, for that matter; I did my eight years in high school and college). I'll go to the big UIL contest (which has several parts this year, being a "state year" for my 5A schools) and at least one game per season. (I missed out last year because of my injury; I was having a bit of trouble with stairs during my recovery, and what is a stadium if not a giant set of stairs?) I also have a bit more connection with one of my two schools' shows, as I did seven days of sectionals over their music for them during summer band.

So I was happy to open up my newspaper this morning to see a positive piece about band on the op-ed page. The writer, Mike Shepherd, is from Duncanville, whose band has won all kinds of honors over the years, but a few things he says can be applied to band as a whole:
I still believe that the marching band is one of the best things about fall in Texas.

[...]Much of the success of the band is attributable to the band directors, who push the kids to improve and drill them many hours during the school year and in summer camps.

[...] My community is a better place to live because I know that – rain or shine, win or lose – the band plays on.
Indeed. And participation in school music programs helps build better students and citizens. (But you knew that already if you've been reading this blog for a while.)

Anyway, with all the bad press that school-age kids seem to get these days, it's nice to see something so positive so early in the school year. Let's hope for a lot more of this type of coverage.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaching and Technology, Part I

With the beginning of school upon us, a lot of the big feature stories in the news right now are about education. And while more than a few of those are very local in nature--the opening of a new school, just to name one popular theme--there have been quite a few stories lately about teaching and technology, with one big theme being this: In a classroom full of younger students who have fully embraced the latest gadgets and social networking sites, but led by a teacher or professor who may still be warming up to email, what's the best way to communicate? Is any one way better than the rest, and should anything in particular be avoided?

Let me start by explaining a little bit about where I stand with this, and I'll cover the rest of that later: As far as new technology goes, I'm about as plugged-in as the vast majority of my students, and most of their favorite ways to communicate are mine as well. (In case you're new to the blog, here's some further background: I teach both at the college and secondary [middle and high school] levels, though in the latter case, it's all private lessons, which--mostly due to the fact that I don't give grades for what I teach--serves to differentiate me a bit from the students' regular classroom teachers and places me more in the category of a mentor or personal coach. At the college, I direct music ensembles and also teach privately, so while I do award grades, my situations are not of the typical "I lecture, you listen" variety.)

The large-scale discussion started last week with an article at the Inside Higher Ed. blog about a college in Georgia that is outfitting its 300 faculty members with high-end smart phones in an effort to improve communication between the profs and their students. The idea is that the profs are supposed to respond to text messages or calls from their students within 24 hours. (The cost is estimated at $1000 per phone, which obviously means that the school is kicking in for most, if not all, of the calling/texting plan as well.) And so far, the college says that the idea appears to be working:
[Georgia Gwinnett College vice president for instructional technology Lonnie D. Harvell] says the college has observed a bump in faculty productivity as a result of the phones equivalent to “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in labor. For example, Georgia Gwinnett faculty are not required to hold office hours — the idea being that a big bulk of outside-of-class communication with students can be handled via the mobile devices, allowing faculty to deploy their energies on other things. Also, the desktop phone bills are down and inter-faculty communication is up, Harvel says. “A cost analysis demonstrates that the program saves more money than it costs,” Harvel says (though he adds that the benefits are “only valid if the institution is intent on expending resources on student engagement”).
And the professors contacted by Inside Higher Ed. don't seem to consider the added connectivity to be a burden, and they tend to set appropriate boundaries right away, some of them even playfully rebuking excessive texters to check the syllabus or other readily available sources for answers to questions that don't really require professorial help. (The comments to that post are, as you can imagine, all over the map, and several Georgia Gwinnett faculty chime in as well.)

This story was picked up by one of my favorite blogs, Althouse, where the bloghostess--a noted law professor--falls into the naysayers' camp:
You want students dashing off little notes full of typos and abbreviations and professors struggling with teensy keyboards and adapting to the ultra-concise writing form? And what happens when there are misunderstandings? These are inevitable in texting.

Leave texting to friends and family and to coworkers who interact casually. Professors — however friendly they may seem in person — must relate to students in a professional way.
Count me as one who doesn't believe that those two things--using texting and relating to students professionally--are always mutually exclusive.

Althouse's commenters are as divided as those at the original post, but this time, as a semi-regular at Althouse, I chime in:
There are situations where texting could come in handy; mine is one of them.

I teach music ensembles and applied music (a.k.a. private lessons), so I'm rarely able to answer the phone during the business day, and emails get checked only every few hours. In addition, since I'm not yet a full prof, my "office" is shared with 100 other profs, and no way do I want to burden the administrative assistant with taking phone message for me, as I wouldn't likely get them in a timely manner in the first place.

Since most of my ensembles (jazz combos) are one person on a part, you'd better believe that I want to know ASAP if the drummer is sick and can't make rehearsal today, as that gives me a lot more time to find a sub. So I'd much rather find out this news right away (via text) rather than, say, a few minutes before rehearsal starts (which could happen if the student emailed me instead). We also have a lot of non-traditional students (who may work as far as 20 miles away from school) in one of my groups, so a quick "I'm running late" text is appreciated, as taking a quick peek at the screen is much less disruptive than listening to a voicemail once class has started.

I've had texting capability for six years now, and for me, it's been overwhelmingly positive, and I have yet to have a student abuse the privilege.
So texting is a plus for me (as it appears to be for many of the Georgia Gwinnett faculty), while others seem to think it would be a really big minus. Is it a generational thing? (And let's assume "generation" might be a "where you are inside your head" idea, as opposed to strictly chronological age; I know that I skew a generation younger than the one into which I was born.) Is it truly the wave of the future, and will those who don't embrace it inevitably get left behind?

It's been a while since I've had a vigorous discussion in the comments, so I'd love to hear from lots of different people on this one. Let me know if you're a teacher, student or interested observer, as well as where you fall in this debate. And there will be another angle on this subject tomorrow, as it has many different angles.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sound Advice for Day One

It's the first day of school for both my college and the public schools, even though I personally get one extra day of summer (I don't teach in the public schools on the first day--too much chaos!--and my first college class isn't until tomorrow). Earlier in the day, I met up with a former student who still has a week before college starts (he's headed northeast, where they start a little later), and he asked me for a few general pieces of advice. A few hours later, I noticed this post from blogger Ross Wardrup that's chock-full of good advice for people starting college. And while he gears his post toward students at UNT (which, ironically, doesn't start classes until Thursday), the information he offers could be used at pretty much any school across the nation. A few of my favorites:
  • Figure out which buildings your classes are in before the first day of class.

  • If you’re going to be more than 15 minutes late to class, just don’t show up.

  • Know the exam dates, and don’t ask me if you can look at my review sheet 5 minutes before the exam begins. I’m studying the sheet that I went through the effort to create.

  • If you ride a bicycle to class, don’t try to be a ninja and run me over from behind without warning.

  • our freshman year is the year in which you set your GPA. If you slack off this year, you’ll have to work extremely hard to try and bring it back up.

  • Always go to review sessions. Even if you “must” work. Get someone to trade shifts with you, etc…

  • Read ahead in your textbook! You’ll understand the lecture ten times better.

  • Befriend your professors.

  • Don’t worry about looking stupid if you need to ask your professor a question. I guarantee you that there is at least one other person with the same question. If it’s really that bad, ask them after class.
Read the whole thing. And let me add one: Show up to class. That sounds basic, but once you skip more than, say, two times, it's really hard to get caught up again. And with the "six-drop rule" here in Texas, dropping the class after the "census date" ls often not an option. I always say that the dumbest way to fail a class* is to stop showing up and not drop, but sometimes, there's little choice. The best way to avoid this is to never get yourself in that situation in the first place.

*One time, when I made that statement in class, a smart-alecky older student (as in a guy in his 50s) asked me, "So what's the smartest way to fail a class?" Wise guy...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Fall Semester...

...and all through the house, only a keyboard was stirring--and sometimes, a mouse.

(Don't worry; I'm not going to write a parody of the entire poem or anything.)

So am I ready for the semester to start? Not completely, no. For one thing, I don't teach on the first day of school (too much chaos!), so I don't have to be totally ready yet. Also, the Dread Sked--or at least some major component of it--gets worse and worse every year. I'm at the point now where I pretty much just need to hear back from people who didn't take lessons over the summer, so I can figure out which of the multiple scenarios for certain parts of my week will need to be invoked. (Those unknown people drive the hard-to-schedule high school, which drives the college, which drives...me, all over the place.)

It's been a good summer--much better than last year, what with the knee surgery and filling in for an ailing colleague and all. And once everyone gets scheduled, it should be fairly fruitful as well; that's certainly my aim (OK, it always is, but prospects for this year are looking good).

Now I just have to convince myself that I'm tired, so as to start a school-year sleeping schedule again. And I think it might be working.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Make your hobbies your jobs, and you’re happy. Making your job your hobby might make you happy in the short run but eventually someone notices."--James Lileks, from today's installment of The Bleat.

One of our national treasures among writers, he is. Visit him daily, you should. (Talking like Yoda, I am; stop now, I will.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We Still Live in Trying (-Out) Times

It may be a few days before I get caught up on old posts. There's really no shortage of things to talk about, but they'll have to wait, because today, I'm spent.

It was audition day at the college, and things went pretty quickly for the first five hours (no, seriously). The last hour was a bit draggy--not in any way because of the people who were auditioning, but I think I just hit my limit of staying in the same room doing the same thing. Or maybe it was the lack of food talking; after a fairly small lunch (that was generously provided by the music department), I probably should have gotten a small snack during the midday break.

But really, I can't complain too much; I love what I do, and when we only have two days of auditions and two days of juries every year, that's not an excessive amount of mass evaluation in the grand scheme of things. But it does make me tired, so any big topics are off the menu for today.

Tomorrow's a teaching day at home with plenty of breaks. More blogging then, no doubt.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Dread Sked Time Again

Wow--it's been a while since I've posted. I do have a few things "in the pipe" as always, and I will catch up eventually.

But not today, as it's the day I start the Dread Sked--that's Kevspeak for the dreaded compilation of my fall teaching schedule in the public schools. It should theoretically be easier this year, since I'm down to five schools and both of the high schools among them are on trimesters (getting trimester and semester schools to mesh was never easy because of the difference in bell schedules), but there's still the issue of marching season, especially when some students are in different classes for the first "tri" than they will be for the rest of the year (and the fact that those two high schools only have jazz band during second and third tri's limits my flexibility even more).

There's bound to be a way for it to work; it just takes some work, and I'm dealing with a few other things this week as well. And while this may end up being easier than in any previous year, it's still one of my two least favorite business-type things to do every year (the other one, of course, being income tax). So if I'm a bit of a hermit, blog-wise, for a few more days, that will be the reason. As always, thanks for your patience.

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to Micah, my youngest nephew, who's 4 today. (Obligatory cute baby picture from his actual birthday here.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Remembering a Lion of Jazz Education

The world of music education, and jazz education in particular, lost one of its giants today with the passing of Leon Breeden after a long illness.

Breeden was the chair of Jazz Studies at my alma mater, the University of North Texas, from 1959 until 1981, and he brought national and international acclaim to the flagship ensemble, the One O'Clock Lab Band, during his time at UNT. Among other things, he started the tradition of recording an annual album (and two of those, Lab '75 and Lab '76, were the first collegiate big band recordings to garner Grammy nominations), and his relationship with the legendary bandleader Stan Kenton led to Kenton bequeathing his entire library to UNT upon his passing in 1979; the university would later bestow the name Stan Kenton Hall upon the larger of the two lab band rehearsal halls in the Music Building.

In retirement, Breeden spent a number of years on campus cataloguing the Kenton library (it was during those days that I had the privilege of working with him to deliver a talk for a series called Sinfonian Forum, as he was a brother in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, having been initiated into the Delta Mu Chapter at TCU in 1948). In latter years, he would make an occasional appearance as clarinet soloist with Jim Riggs' Original Texas Jazz Orchestra, and I had the privilege of being in the audience for many of those performances (one of which was chronicled here). He also capped off his long list of accolades with an honorary doctorate a year ago this week.

Having received some emails recently from Riggs (though, oddly enough, I have yet to get the one from today that announced his passing), I knew that the end was probably near; he was described as being "gravely ill" after a long emergency surgery back in July. (He had also lost his second wife back in April.) Still, a lot of us were cheering him on to a hopeful recovery; how great it would have been to hear a few more golden notes from that clarinet again.

It was said during Breeden's time at UNT that when he walked down the hall, the waters parted. He was truly a giant even among all the noted professors at the school, and his contribution to jazz education was immeasurable. Aa watched the Facebook tributes from UNT alums pour in, I wondered how many of us--even those who didn't major in jazz studies, including my own undergrad self--might never have attended the school if not for Breeden's work; his work to put the One O'Clock and the jazz area on the map also raised the profile of the entire school in those pre-Internet days; who's to say that UNT would have been anything more than a small regional school were it not for his accomplishments?

The name Leon means "lion" in Latin and several of its derivative languages. Leon Breeden was aptly named, for he was surely one of the lions of our discipline. R.I.P., Leon, and thank you for all that you gave us.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Too Hot For You?

Maybe a nice cold "smothie" will do the trick:

I've passed by this sign for over a week now, and I had to stop and take a picture of it. (And yes, I'll catch up on the past few days' unfinished posts in a little bit.)

UPDATE: I drove by the same restaurant the next day and the spelling was corrected. Is McDonald's reading my blog?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Good Guys Won--On and Off the Field

A few random thoughts regarding the Rangers auction, which ended around 12:45 this morning with the Crane-Cuban group pulling out, thus awarding the team to the Greenberg-Ryan group:
  • As I've noted all along, Greenberg-Ryan were the good guys in this whole thing. The list of bad guys could be many: Greedy creditors, greedy ex-players (c'mon, A-Rod, are you really having trouble feeding your family on your current salary?), a judge who might have been a bit of a publicity-seeker, and of course, Tom Hicks, for getting the team in this mess in the first place.

  • Mark Cuban noted that if his group had won, he would have invited Greenberg and Ryan to be part of the process. But there's no saying whether they would have accepted such an arrangement or how long they would have stayed if they did. And as I've said all along, any scenario that didn't have Ryan as the long-term team president would be unacceptable; just look at how much he's turned the team around in a few short years.

  • And if Cuban-Crane had won, there was no guarantee that they would have been approved by Major League Baseball owners in the first place. After all, a major player in that group was Jim Crane, who left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths a few years ago when he made an agreement to buy the Astros and then pulled out at the last minute. Crane had also hinted last year, when he was among the original, pre-bankruptcy bidders for the team, that he would let Ryan go, serving as his own team president. Again, unacceptable.

  • I've long been a defender of Cuban as Mavericks owner, but I was skeptical of how he might turn out as a baseball owner. I don't see the same passion for baseball in Cuban that he has for basketball, and his overly-hands-on style wouldn't work as well as it does with the latter.

  • And finally, I've said this before, but it bears repeating: This bankruptcy process shows that there's a real need for some serious reform in the financial sector in this nation. The company that was squawking the loudest about Greenberg-Ryan's original bid being "too low" was Monarch Alternative Capital, which bought a lot of Hicks' debt at pennies on the dollar, yet they seemed to demand to recoup the original price of the debts in this auction.

    This brings up two questions: 1) Should a debt buyer in this situation be able to demand full compensation for the original price like this (which would be an amount exponentially larger than they originally paid), or should they be satisfied with "only" making a handsome profit? (And believe me, I'm as big of a capitalist as anyone here, but this demand just struck me as excessive.)

    2) Should firms like this--which buy debt from other lenders--even be allowed to exist in the first place? It seems like lenders would be much more responsible in their lending if they knew they would have to follow through with their loans to the end, rather than being able to sell them at bargain-basement prices and then write off the loss.
But at any rate, I'm happy. Now let's look forward to the rest of a great season on the field, without all these distractions.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

And the Winner Is...?

Well, we don't know yet. But the NBC 5 guys are liveblogging the Rangers auction, so follow it there and I'll talk about things when it's done, even if that's tomorrow.

UPDATE (1:00 a.m., Thursday): Greenberg-Ryan group wins! I'll have more tomorrow, but now I can go to bed happy.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Booker T's Jazz Icon Doesn't Have to Blow His Own Horn This Time

I'm always happy to see positive articles in the media about education, music or jazz, and today, the DMN hits the complete trifecta with its feature article on Bart Marantz, the longtime jazz director at Dallas' Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (its abbreviation, BTWHSPVA, is still a mouthful, so we'll call it Booker T. like most people do around here). Marantz can claim the likes of Roy Hargrove, Norah Jones and Erykah Badu as alumni of his program, and he says he's learned as much from them as they have from him.

What's great is that the article seems to have been written without being connected to any special occasion--Marantz isn't retiring, he's not celebrating a "big number on the left" anniversary at the school (his 30th will come in 2013), and there's no new alum who's recently made a big splash on the scene. It appears that this article was published just because someone figured out that this iconic educator deserved some recognition. (By the way, among the many talented Booker T. grads are Marantz's own two sons; saxophonist Matt recently released what I believe to be his first CD, and younger brother Luke excels at both piano and vocals.)

As always, read the whole thing.

Hoping to Soon Return to Pod-acity

So it appears that my car's iPod adapter has bitten the dust; one of the two contacts at the bottom has recessed into the opening to the point where I don't think I can get it to come out. The current one is made by Monster, and it's OK, if a bit static-y. If I choose to replace it, can anyone out there recommend a good quality brand that's not break-the-bank expensive?

Needless to say, if you know how to fix the problem I described above, I'd be interested in hearing from you as well. Until then, I guess I'm kicking it old-school and listening to CDs.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Want to Bring History to LIfe? Add a Little Color...

I've had a pretty long teaching day today, so I'll keep my own comments brief and link to the most interesting thing I read today: John Hinderaker at the Power Line blog responds to an age-old question with what I believe is the proper answer:
Why does the past seem so far away? In part, because we so often see it in black and white.
I think that lots of us have seen so many old pictures--taken during a time when black-and-white photography was the norm--that it's easy to forget that the world itself really was in color back then.

If you have a lot of time, go visit this collection of color photos of various places in America from 1939-1943; the pictures bring that era to life in ways that black-and-white simply can't do, so you're seeing that point in time through new eyes--through the eyes of those who were there, for that matter. (And if you have just a little time, go to the Power Line post linked above, where he's included a few of the pictures as well. But really, the big collection is worth your time if you're into such things.)

And of course, if you do like the old black-and-whites, there's no better place to go than Shorpy, perhaps the best vintage photo blog ever.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

If Hazing Is Bad for Students, Then It's Probably Bad for Adults, Too

One of the big headlines in the Metroplex over the past week was the flap over Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant refusing to carry fellow receiver Roy Williams' shoulder pads after practice--an act which is evidently part of the "initiation" that rookies receive during NFL training camps. According to the Dallas Morning News' Todd Archer,
It is a rite of training camp to see rookies from any position carry the pads of veteran players after practice.

It is a minor bit of hazing that goes on everywhere but Bryant wants nothing to do with it. Seems as if Roy Williams asked Bryant to do it Sunday without success.

”I just feel like I'm here to play football," Bryant said. "I'm here to try to help win a championship, not carry someone's pads. I'm saying that out of no disrespect."

Some of you might remember Bill Parcells making the first rounder delivering a glass of water or Gatorade to him during water breaks. I wonder if Bryant wouldn't do that for the coach?
It seems to me like the player would likely do anything the coach asked him to do, because--huge salaries notwithstanding--the player is always in a subservient role to his coach. But is that true with his teammates, rookie vs. veteran status or not? Or is such behavior more than a "minor" bit of hazing, as Archer refers to it?

Well, some of the people across the country who are trying to wipe out hazing are more than happy with Bryant's decision. In a later DMN report a few days ago, we hear this:
"Hurray for Dez!" said Susan Lipkins, a psychologist whose expertise in hazing-related behaviors is nationally recognized.

She and others who battle hazing in schools and clubs hope that the focus on Bryant will help make their case. The message, they say, is particularly timely with back-to-school, the start of football practice, and fraternity and sorority rush right around the corner.

Hank Nuwer is another expert and author about hazing. He hopes Bryant set an example that younger players will be willing to follow.

"High school players imitate baseball hero stances, celebratory dances in end zones, creative high- and low-fives, and yeah, hazing," he said.
This is true. In my fraternity, I'm a regional officer whose duties include educating the collegiate chapters on ways to develop programs for probationary membership (yes, we've even done away with the term "pledgeship"), and I have to wonder what the major difference is between what veterans do to rookies in pro sports and what we're trying to eradicate on college campuses.

So is all hazing bad? And when is it hazing, as opposed to a harmless prank? Unfortunately (as I've heard at more seminars than I can count), it's not up to either the hazer or the hazee, at least once the legal system gets involved; at that point, it's totally up to a jury. (And I'm fully aware that a lot of hazing has its origins in the military, and its widespread occurrence on college campuses multiplied after World War II vets--who'd been hazed in the service--returned to college in droves at the end of the war. And I'll even go as far as to excuse its existence in that setting, and that setting alone; there aren't too many other situations where people are supposed to be transformed into lean, mean killing machines, so they get a pass from me for the moment.)

But does it have a place in professional sports? (And again, I'm not talking about the harmless pie-in-the-face pranks that seem to befall the hero of every Rangers game during the postgame TV interviews.) Or is this one more place that, like college and high school campuses, could stand to see hazing go away?

Here's one more morsel for thought, from the second linked story:
he hazing opponents say that there really is a slippery slope – what seems minor today can and does lead to escalation down the line. And what seems harmless to some people may hit a real nerve for others.

Travis Apgar was a pledge at a fraternity whose final initiation tradition included a new member pointing an unloaded pistol at his head. His frat did not know that Apgar's father had killed himself with a pistol. The ritual resurrected terrible psychological pain for the 18-year-old.

Today, he's the associate dean of students over fraternity and sorority affairs at Cornell University, and a well-known anti-hazing speaker. A former high school and college athlete, he applauded Bryant's refusal.

"I was proud of him," he said. "It wasn't an easy stand to take."
As always, click the comment button below if you'd like to chime in.