August 4th, 2014

krazy koati

Thy fame of other days, thy gifts so free

Our hotel was near to Kings Island, but it was also right next to a small water park named the Beaches. We didn't go there, although we kept planning to when we had some free time. We thought we'd go Sunday morning before leaving town, but since we wanted to go to Oxford, Ohio, where we expected stuff would close early we concluded the most sensible thing to do was go to Oxford first, come back to the Beaches if we still felt like it, and then head on out to our Indiana location. This is a bunch of driving, but, it was also the alternative that seemed to best fit when things would be open.

What's in Oxford, Ohio? Mostly, Miami University, where bunny_hugger earned her Master's Degree. She hadn't been back to the town in about a decade and we had that mix of curiosity and dread about how it might have changed. Unfortunately we couldn't work out a way to get there on a weekday when anyone she knew from the department might be there, but we could at least see the buildings and what open shops might be there and the like.

The most shocking change was the intrusion of some franchise places --- even a Starbuck's --- into downtown, which the locals call uptown. Oxford had, under the somewhat paternalistic guidance of Miami, insisted on locally-owned and small operations for most of its businesses. bunny_hugger remembers the only chain of anything being there one lone Burger King. That attitude hasn't gone by the wayside altogether, and there's a lot of local restaurants and stores and a semi-abandoned movie theater and all that, but just the fact of change is startling.

It's also a really good-looking college town, though, with a decently long stretch of road that's brick-paved instead of asphalt, and neat parks, and signs welcoming New Students --- apparently it was an orientation weekend --- and Porsche owners --- apparently a convention was going on? --- to the area. (It might not have been Porsche, but I forget which excessively pricey model car had owners being welcomed.)

We got lunch at the Bagel And Deli Shop, a hole-in-the-wall kind of place which takes seriously the work of being a quirky small college town bagel place. The wall behind the counter is covered with the menu, made of construction-paper drawings of various bagels. Some of them are the obvious --- cream cheese on a bagel, hummus, butter --- and then gets into fancier --- the Hungry Heifer (roast beef and smoked cheddar on onion) or the Earth Day (cucumbers, lettuce, tomato and sprouts on sunflower) --- and then they start getting into serious college humor or local weirdness (Szczerbiak Bagek: turkey, provolone, lettuce, tomato on salt; the Doyle Rules, turkey, ham, bacon, provole, lettuce, and mayonnaise on a garlic; the Cookie Monster: cream cheese, cinnamon, chocolate chip cookie on a blueberry bagel) and then it just keeps going. The Tonya Harding (turkey ham, bacon, half-colby, half-Swiss, ``It's a hit!'') is an example. I can't find it on the online menu but apparently there was a Mark Furman bagel in which only white ingredients were put into it. Also, obviously, they don't mind letting the menu options get a bit dated --- the drawing for the David Letterman Bagel (salami, cream cheese, lettuce, and tomato) has a picture of his face pasted over Jay Leno's body. One of the few spots of the wall not covered by menu drawings is the cover of Time from Nixon's reelection.

Apparently back in the day the signs covered up more walls and the ceiling; I don't know if they had a clearing out of the less popular options or if the fire marshall got upset with them. The menu does promise, you can get your own bagel if you become famous or come up with a unique bagel, and bring in a ``cool'' laminated sign, and if it sells well enough they'll keep it around. The hours on the weekends promise they stay open until the rush of drunks coming out of the bars at closing hour subsides. They also explain they don't have a public bathroom and that customers would be glad for that if they knew what the after-closing-hours crowd was like.

We did wander around campus, although the building her department was in (or had been, back when she was last there) was closed despite the New Students Orientation weekend going on. Still, the library was open, if undergoing renovations, and we were able to go upstairs and find bunny_hugger's Masters Thesis on the shelf waiting for someone to need to consult it. (It was just about opposite the oversized collections of comics such as Krazy Kat Sundays and Complete Popeye runs, which is sweet.) We took the volume off the shelf and set it in one of the designated ``put books here instead of reshelving'' because surely the library is undergoing a usage study and we could boost her statistics some. We also poked around the Philosophy books section and found at least one of the texts bunny_hugger used for her work. It didn't have a date stamped in the due-by slip after hers, although since the library has self-check-out stations that doesn't actually prove she was the last person to take the book out.

We poked into the new Student Union, which is an enormous and incredibly well-furnished building that looks too good to let a bunch of grubby students in. I felt outclassed being there, and we're a pair of doctorates. But it's clean and sparkling and even has embedded in the floor a three-dimensional, real-object rendering of the Seal of Miami University, ready to be walked on. It's also got a wall of historic photographs and the like, showing recruiting cards and early issues of the student newspaper and a picture of the First Female Student (1887, ``Lizzie McFarland, daughter of President McFarland''). The old student union was still there and open too, though most of its shops, including the cafeteria, were closed.

Trivia: The series Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy debuted with Jack attending the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. Source: On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, John Dunning.

Currently Reading: The Life Of Elizabeth I, Allison Weir. The mention of a Captain William Blackadder (briefly arrested following the murder by strangulation and explosion of Lord Darnley, Mary Queen of Scot's husband) does nothing to disabuse me of the notion that Britain is a big practical joke started by the Normans in the 11th century and it just got away with them by about the time of the Wars of the Roses and they didn't know how to get the big laugh they were going for and just had to keep going with it.