From the Desk of Chancellor Dwight C. Watson – Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies

cover image for the book entitled Spoiler Alert : The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words

One in a series of reviews contributed by Chancellor Dwight C. Watson

Spoiler Alert : The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words – by Michael Ausiello

Before I get to the book, I want to celebrate Gay Pride Month with one of my heroes who recently died. Larry Kramer was a personal hero of mine. He was an outspoken playwright and AIDS activist. He sought to shock the country into dealing with AIDS as a public-health emergency and foresaw that it could kill millions regardless of sexual orientation. He started the group ACT-Up and their mantra was “We’re Queer, We’re Here, Get Used to It.” At the age of 84, he was still agitating and advocating for gay rights. Recently, all of the issues that Larry fought for such as marriage rights, workers’ rights, and health care for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals have been realized. Mr. Kramer’s landmark play, The Normal Heart, captured the intersection of the rights for gay folk through the lens of the AIDS crisis 1. This play captured my heart back in 1985 and when I read the book Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, I remembered this play, Larry Kramer, and all that has been accomplished since 1985. With the death of Larry Kramer, indeed the hero has died.

One of my best friends sent me Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies as a holiday present in December of 2019 and I waited to read it because I like reading LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer/questioning plus other self-proclaimed depictions of one’s affectional orientation and gender expression) literature during the celebration of June’s Gay Pride Month. As I opened my gift, he had a note in the book telling me to read the last chapter first which was entitled “Flash-Forward.” Nowhere in my research of the book or the author’s preface was such a request noted. I encourage those who decide to read this book to do the same.

With a title like Spoiler Alert: the Hero Dies you know what the outcome is so you might not be prone to read a book about death and dying. I encourage you to reject that notion so that you can enjoy the rich nuances of this poignant and hilarious account of loving life together. This is a memoir of Michael and Kit written by Michael that captures the love, marriage, and death of Kit due to cancer. As stated on the cover of the book, this is a memoir of love, loss, and four-letter words.

In this heartbreaking and darkly hilarious memoir, Michael tells the story of his harrowing and challenging last year with Kit while revisiting the thirteen years that preceded it. Michael speaks his truth and gives the messy details that makes you want to turn away in order to respect and honor the dead. But you have to swallow the pill regardless of how jagged it might be, because if Michael can write and live through it, and Kit died because of it, then out of respect the reader must endure and not look away from the pain. The memoir captures this undeniably powerful bond between Michael and Kit which enabled Michael to share this unforgettable, inspiring, and beautiful testament to the resilience and strength of true love.

Although the book is a chronicle of Kit’s fight with cancer and how he and Michael faced down the disease and setbacks together, this book is more than just a sad account of a life nearing its end. This is also a story of a relationship, a love affair from start to finish with the funny and sweet moments, the challenges and the anxieties, and all of the emotion and beauty of two people who truly gave each other their whole hearts.

Growing up through the AIDS crisis in the 80’s, I had my share of death. I am so thankful that I made it through.  I often reflect about the loved ones I have lost and try to remain positive in the hope that the poetry of living outlasts the pain of remembrance.  To honor Michael and Kit’s relationship, the activist Larry Kramer, and Gay Pride Month, I celebrate these successes by capturing the chronology below.

LGBTQ+ Chronology

As we celebrate Gay Pride, I wanted to share some of the many accomplishments that have taken place ending with the most recent announcement on June 15, 2020. The chronology captured is instrumental to the events in the Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies. Kit and Michael had the protection of marriage when dealing with the death of a love one. This was so very different from The Normal Heart 1985 depiction of a same sex couple struggling with the death of a partner during the AIDS crisis. I attribute many of these current-day accomplishments to Larry Kramer and his activism that helped sparked a revolution.

This linked article from CNN provides an LGBTQ+ Rights chronology from 1924 to 2020. The following information is specifically from the Marriage Acts to June, 2020:

  • October 6, 2014 – The United States Supreme Court denies review in five different marriage cases, allowing lower court rulings to stand, and therefore allowing same-sex couples to marry in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin. The decision opens the door for the right to marry in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.
  • June 9, 2015 – Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announces that the Military Equal Opportunity policy has been adjusted to include gay and lesbian military members.
  • April 28, 2015 – The US Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the question of the freedom to marry in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan. On June 26 the Supreme Court rules that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. The 5-4 ruling had Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority. Each of the four conservative justices writes their own dissent.
  • July 27, 2015 – Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates announces, “the national executive board ratified a resolution removing the national restriction on openly gay leaders and employees.”
  • May 17, 2016 – The Senate confirms Eric Fanning to be secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary of a US military branch. Fanning previously served as Defense Secretary Carter’s chief of staff, and also served as undersecretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy.
  • June 24, 2016 – Obama announces the designation of the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) rights. The Stonewall National Monument will encompass Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
  • June 30, 2016 – Secretary of Defense Carter announces that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the US military.
  • August 5-21, 2016 – A record number of “out” athletes compete in the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Human Rights Campaign estimates that there are at least 41 openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Olympians — up from 23 that participated in London 2012.
  • November 9, 2016 – Kate Brown is sworn in as governor of Oregon, a day after she was officially elected to the office. Brown becomes the highest-ranking LGBTQ person elected to office in the United States. Brown took over the governorship in February 2016 (without an election), after Democrat John Kitzhaber resigned amidst a criminal investigation.
  • April 4, 2017 – The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBTQ employees, after Kimberly Hively sues Ivy Tech Community College for violating Title VII of the act by denying her employment.
  • June 27, 2017 – District of Columbia residents can now choose a gender-neutral option of their driver’s license. DC residents become the first people in the United States to be able to choose X as their gender marker instead of male or female on driver’s licenses and identification cards. Similar policies exist in Canada, India, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal.
  • November 7, 2017 – Virginia voters elect the state’s first openly transgender candidate to the Virginia House of Delegates. Danica Roem unseats incumbent delegate Bob Marshall, who had been elected thirteen times over 26 years. Roem becomes the first openly transgender candidate elected to a state legislature in American history.
  • February 26, 2018 – The Pentagon confirms that the first transgender person has signed a contract to join the US military.
  • March 4, 2018 – Daniela Vega, the star of Oscar-winning foreign film “A Fantastic Woman,” becomes the first openly transgender presenter in Academy Awards history when she introduces a performance by Sufjan Stevens, whose song “Mystery of Love” from the “Call Me By Your Name” soundtrack, is nominated for best original song.
  • November 6, 2018 – Democratic US Representative Jared Polis wins the Colorado governor’s race, becoming the nation’s first openly gay man to be elected governor.
  • June 30, 2019 – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signs a law banning the use of the so-called gay and trangendered panic legal defense strategy. The tactic asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction. New York follows California, Rhode Island, Illinois, Nevada and Connecticut as the sixth state to pass such a law.
  • September 22, 2019 – Billy Porter becomes the first openly gay black man to win the Emmy for best lead actor in a drama series.
  • February 10, 2020 – The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a ruling that the state of Idaho must provide gender confirmation surgery for Adree Edmo, an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction. The ruling marks the first time a federal appeals court has ruled that a state must provide gender assignment surgery to an incarcerated person. According to the court opinion, “the gender confirmation surgery (“GCS”) was medically necessary for Edmo, and ordered the State to provide the surgery.” Idaho Governor Brad Little said in a written statement, “We will vigorously litigate the Ninth Circuit’s unprecedented ruling at the Supreme Court because the taxpayers of Idaho should not have to pay for a procedure that is not medically necessary.”
  • June 15, 2020 – The Supreme Court rules that federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination. The landmark ruling extends protections to millions of workers nationwide and is a defeat for the Trump administration, which argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination based on sex did not extend to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation.

1. Note from the Library: Borrow a copy of The Normal Heart by playwright Larry Kramer, or view the film of the play via Films on Demand.

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Classic Caballeros Collection (New Stuff Tuesdays)

Walt Disney's Classic Caballeros Collection case

A little Disney animation should be good for what ails you. So join Donald Duck, Goofy, and the real Walt Disney on a journey to Latin America with their new amigos, Joe Carioca and Panchito. This is family friendly entertainment complete with music, dance, wisecracking characters, and Disney charm.

These classic Disney flicks were made in the 1940s, right smack in the middle of World War II. No doubt this entertainment was created to lift the morale of a dispirited nation — and couldn’t we use a little of that now?

Remember that you can schedule material for pick-up even while the Andersen Library building is closed.

Classic Caballero’s Collection: Saludos Amigos; The Three Caballeros
by Walt Disney
Browsing DVD Feature Film, 2nd Floor
Cla

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Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race (Warhawks Recommend)

Waking

Warhawk Recommender: Martha Stephenson, Reference & Instruction Librarian

I like this book because Irving writes candidly about her relationship with race from childhood to the present and isn’t preachy about it. A significant portion of the book is stories from her early non-relationship with race to a longer period of racial ignorance, paired with her “woke” understanding of the systemic and pervasive racism that has been inherent in her life. For a long time, she doesn’t see herself as white living in White Land, she sees herself as “normal.” She doesn’t see people of color, but when she eventually does she still doesn’t SEE them. There’s a disconnect.

A major turning point in the book is when she attends a Racial and Cultural Identity class. This leads to many changes in her life, including a “robin hood syndrome” phase, which she must overcome. Her self-understanding and improvement is the narrative thread that holds this book together. She shows us how white is a race and that becoming less racist and more antiracist was possible for her. We can follow that path too. I believe the Warhawk community will benefit from this book by thinking about whiteness, the role that racism and antiracism have played in their lives, and then doing something about it. You do not have to be white to learn from this book.

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race
by Debby Irving
Main Collection, 3rd Floor
E185.615 .I778 2014

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New Kid (Warhawks Recommend)

New Kid book with Warhawk Recommender

Warhawk Recommender: Ellen Latorraca, Education Librarian

Ms. Rawlings, teacher with white skin in predominantly white private school, to Jordan, middle schooler with brown skin: “But Jordan, being different is a blessing. It’s what makes you special.” Jordan, to Ms. Rawlings: “Would you teach at a school in MY neighborhood? You know, so YOU could be special?” Ms. Rawlings: (no response) Craft weaves in many examples of how our middle school selves are so apt to judge based on an imagined group characteristic at the expense of knowing the person. Jordan, his new classmates, and some of his teachers learn that is that there is wisdom in recognizing this behavior in both ourselves as well as in others, but more importantly, there is courage in calling it out for what it is. I would love to read this graphic novel with elementary and middle school readers and hear their take!

New Kid
by Jerry Craft (Author), Jim Callahan (Graphic novel colorist)
Curriculum Collection, Fiction, 2nd Floor (F Cra)
F Cra

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New views of the Old Main Fire (New Stuff Tuesdays)

View of Old Main after the fire

Fifty years ago, the campus lost an iconic symbol of the University when someone set fire to the Old Main building. Community members and students witnessed the devastation as the building went up in flames on February 8, 1970. The Archives and Area Research Center has collections, newspaper clippings, and photographs that document the disastrous event. However, new materials often are unearthed as students, staff, and community members find forgotten memories in their homes.

Recently, a 1971 graduate of UW-W came across a collection of slides he took the night of the fire and they day after that document the ferocity of the flames and the destruction to the building. They offer a new view of an old event that will be interesting to researchers.

Fire trucks in front of Old Main

Located in the Archives and Area Research Center , 1st Floor

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Propaganda & Misinformation (New Stuff Tuesday)

Propaganda and Misinformation Book Cover

This newest volume of the “Reference Shelf” series looks at propaganda and misinformation (just like the title says) in discrete segments. Each chapter is written by different experts, from the first chapter “A short guide to the history of ‘fake news’ and disinformation” by Julie Posetti and Alice Matthews of the International Center for Journalists to the final chapter “Fact checkers say these are the best fact-checks they did during this decade” by Cristina Tardaguila of The Poynter Institute. According to the publisher, H W Wilson, this book covers “Social media posts inciting sectarian violence, government-manipulated misinformation campaigns, for-profit fake news headlines, and well-meaning but gullible individuals promoting conspiracies…this volume explores the pollution of our information environment and what we can do about it.” If you are curious about the validity of the news that comes across your social media feeds and other news outlets, this book would be a great place to start.”

Propaganda & Misinformation
by Grey House Publishing
Main Collection, 3rd Floor
P96.P722 U55 2020

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From the Desk of Chancellor Dwight C. Watson – A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

cover image for the book entitled A Visit from the Good Squad

One in a series of reviews contributed by Chancellor Dwight C. Watson

A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

In 2010, when A Visit from the Goon Squad was published, it was not on my radar.  The book came to my attention when I read in Entertainment Weekly that this book was selected as the number one book of the decade, I had just finished reading Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, another book I reviewed for the blog. Nickel Boys was listed as number 10 on the Top 10 List of the Decade.  I was so enamored by the 10th book on the list so why not read the 1st book on the list.  I immediately asked my sister to send me the book as my 2019 holiday present. Much has happened since receiving the book and me reading it, but boy what a read!

When Entertainment Weekly staffers had to compose their lists, by a wide margin, the book most often and most passionately cited was A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, the 2010 masterwork that won the Pulitzer Prize. One staffer captured the book as “Philandering fathers, washed-up rock stars, bipolar celebrity profilers, slumming rich kids, and kleptomaniacs: There’s a sliding scale of human frailties in A View from the Goon Squad (one character is actually being paid to whitewash a murderous dictator’s reputation, but who’s keeping score?). Jennifer Egan’s 2010 masterwork — it won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award — remains a sui generis achievement, even almost a decade after its release; if her playfully postmodern catalog of delinquents, kooks, and schemers seemed at first merely eccentric for its own sake, the telling of it proved otherwise: a book as rich and resonant as any linear classic in the canon”

The reason I liked this review above all others was that it touted the book as a liner classic to the canon.  The book that I always viewed as the most linear classic to the canon is Catcher in the Rye which I have reread every five years since 1980 and have given a copy to every niece and nephew as they headed off to college.  Now, I have to start giving A Visit from the Goon Squad to their children.

Often, I am asked had I not been a school teacher and now a Chancellor, what would I have wanted to be? I quickly say a musicologist or a movie critic. Music and movies have been an entwined part of my life, second and third to books.  This book carried me back to my days of attending concerts, discovering new bands at the Beat in Columbia, South Carolina; the Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; the Brewery in Raleigh, North Carolina; First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota and most famously, visits to Max’s Kansas City, CBGB’s, and the Mudd Club in New York City.   This book took me back to those endless scenes of new band discovery and enjoying the explosive music scene of the Husker Du, the Replacements, the Pixies, REM and a host of others. As the book stated, “It’s 2:00 am, regular people go to bed and drunk crazy, fxxxed up people stay out.  And this is when the rock and roll piped shame of all is unraveled.”

I think about the past lives and the connecting threads of the folks I have interacted with and how those connections might have lasting effects on a series of others.  And if I could capture these interaction and connections, you would be visiting my own personal goon squad.  Therefore, I see this book as a treatise to the lives of many who wonder about their past lives, their reinventions, and their experiences and how such confluences manifest into a whole. The book is a series of small vignettes of connected lives presented in non-chronological bits and pieces. It is told through the lens of characters such as one that was “So unaware as of yet that she will reach middle age and eventually die (possibly alone) because she has not yet disappointed herself, merely startled herself and the world with her premature accomplishments.”

Another critic captured the buzzy feeling I got from reading this book. “A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers” (Knopf Doubleday Publishing).

I end this review with a final quote from the book, “I want to know every bad thing you ever done even if it was dangerous and embarrassing.”  Imagine if your child or one of our college students asked us this question.  How would you answer?  Read this book for no other reason than to unpack this question.

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T3: Add Library Resources to Canvas

The Library Resources integration in Canvas syncs with our LibGuides system to automatically load the appropriate library research guide into your Canvas course. We use the course name and number to determine if a particular course guide or a subject guide is the best fit for your course. Please contact your liaison librarian if you want an individual course page or you have additional questions. You can see our full list of guides at: http://libguides.uww.edu.

Activate the Library Resources Integration (PDF with full screenshots):

  1. Sign into Canvas (https://www.uww.edu/canvas)
  2. From the Dashboard, select the course to which you will add the Library Resources integration.
  3. From the course Home, select Settings
  4. Select Navigation from the tabs across the top
  5. Scroll down the page until you see Library Resources in the list of options. If you are adding it for the first time, it will be under “Drag items here to hide them from students.”
  6. Select Library Resources and drag the rectangle up to the top portion of the page. Make sure Library Resources is somewhere in the top list so that it will show in the course navigation.
  7. Make sure to select SAVE at the bottom of the page after you have moved Library Resources to the top list.
  8. Library Resources will now appear in your course navigation and in the student view navigation. Student view:
Screenshot of student view of integrated library guide in Canvas course
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Ask a Librarian chat & email service change on F May 29

The software used for the Ask a Librarian 24/7/365 live chat and email research help is changing on Friday, May 29th. This affects the chat and email links on the Get Help page. We hope for a smooth transition from one vendor’s software to another vendor’s software, but it’s always possible there will be some technical difficulties or unexpected downtime. We’re also just getting to know the new software. Please bear with us!

If you submit a question and do not receive a response (for emails, you should expect a response within 24 hours Monday-Friday), please send an email to our campus email account at refdesk@uww.edu so that we do not miss your question!

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Long Way Round (New Stuff Tuesdays)

Long Way Round Book Cover

John Hildebrand is an award wining writer who earned his M.F.A at the University of Alaska. Specializing in nonfiction, American Literature and short stories, Hildebrand has made moves in creating a profile dedicated to writing, nature and the histories of rural America — a background that suits him perfectly for this re-discovery of his native state, Wisconsin.

In his recent book, Long Way Round: Through the Heartland by River, Hildebrand takes us with him on his journey through Wisconsin by water and by history. His journey goes through rivers and sacred lands, through the importance of food and through connecting with people while gaining a deeper appreciation for water. Here are a few samples:

“I have taken myself on the Round River with the same purpose behind those meandering drives, to remember where I live. Almost everyday supplied a good reason or two—people, the towns, the land itself—but it was a river that tied those reasons together like a bow.”

“They were different rivers, eight in all, but after a while they blurred into one continuous stream… a great river that flows forwards and backwards… and carried me… as it steadily brought me home.”

To learn more about John Hildebrand, check out his bio page from where he works in the English department at our sister UW institution, UW-Eau Claire.

This review is written by LaDae’meona McDowell, reference student worker at Andersen Library.

Long Way Round: Through the Heartland by River
by John Hildebrand
New Arrivals Island, 2nd Floor
F586.2 H55 2019

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