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Today’s daily desk copy request: The DiMaggio’s: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream for a history class on “American Sport.”
Being a sibling is hard. Especially when you are one of Joe DiMaggio’s brothers and you play baseball. While ole Joe got the nickname “The Yankee Clipper,” which sounds like a fearsome state’s rights enthusiast with access to a machete, his youngest brother got “The Little Professor,” which does not sound very scary at all (unless you fear a Napoleon Complex). And Four-Eyes wasn’t even the worst at baseball! That honor goes to Vince “no nickname” DiMaggio—who made a measly two All-Star teams and only hit 21 home runs one season. The saddest kind of nickname is the one people forget to give you because they don’t care.

Today’s daily desk copy request: The DiMaggio’s: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream for a history class on “American Sport.”

Being a sibling is hard. Especially when you are one of Joe DiMaggio’s brothers and you play baseball. While ole Joe got the nickname “The Yankee Clipper,” which sounds like a fearsome state’s rights enthusiast with access to a machete, his youngest brother got “The Little Professor,” which does not sound very scary at all (unless you fear a Napoleon Complex). And Four-Eyes wasn’t even the worst at baseball! That honor goes to Vince “no nickname” DiMaggio—who made a measly two All-Star teams and only hit 21 home runs one season. The saddest kind of nickname is the one people forget to give you because they don’t care.

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Today’s daily desk copy request: David Kiely and Christina McKenna’s The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism for a religious studies course on “The Wisdom of Eastern Philosophy.”
This book presents ten true-life accounts of demonic possession in present-day Ireland. 
What I learned: most of the time, you can’t really prevent a demonic possession. BUT you should educate yourselves on the circumstances that make possession more likely.
One of those circumstances, according to this book, is playing around with Ouija boards. 
Here are some examples of Ouija-board-“fun”-gone-awry from the book: One time, a housewife played Ouija board with her children; then she got possessed by a demon for 15 years. Another young boy happened upon a Ouija board in the woods (red flag!) and then the ground opened up and demons came flying out and he saw the devil’s hellish throne. 
If you are confused about what I am saying, please refer to the handy infographic above to help you decide whether it is advisable to be dabbling in Ouija board-play.

Today’s daily desk copy request: David Kiely and Christina McKenna’s The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism for a religious studies course on “The Wisdom of Eastern Philosophy.”

This book presents ten true-life accounts of demonic possession in present-day Ireland.

What I learned: most of the time, you can’t really prevent a demonic possession. BUT you should educate yourselves on the circumstances that make possession more likely.

One of those circumstances, according to this book, is playing around with Ouija boards.

Here are some examples of Ouija-board-“fun”-gone-awry from the book: One time, a housewife played Ouija board with her children; then she got possessed by a demon for 15 years. Another young boy happened upon a Ouija board in the woods (red flag!) and then the ground opened up and demons came flying out and he saw the devil’s hellish throne.

If you are confused about what I am saying, please refer to the handy infographic above to help you decide whether it is advisable to be dabbling in Ouija board-play.

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Today’s daily desk copy request: Edna Ferber’s So Big for a freshman English course. 
Here’s a Pulitzer Prize winner I bet you haven’t heard about (Philistines! All of you!). I’ve known about it since Monday.
Back in 1925, this was the book was all the rage, along with “depressed trough” roads, which sound like they were actually named to discourage traffic. Other highlights from This Year in History: Mussolini dissolves Italy’s pesky parliament in favor of that infinitely fun-er form of governance, the fascist dictatorship (upgrade!); and self-esteem therapy comes to the U.S.
Anyway, So Big is Edna Ferber’s classic novel of turn-of-the century Chicago. Hailed at the time as Ferber’s masterpiece, the story captures the life of a gambler’s daughter, Selina Peake DeJong, of her marriage and widowhood, and of her son, Dirk—and still rings true with contemporary issues such as poverty and sexism. 

Today’s daily desk copy request: Edna Ferber’s So Big for a freshman English course.

Here’s a Pulitzer Prize winner I bet you haven’t heard about (Philistines! All of you!). I’ve known about it since Monday.

Back in 1925, this was the book was all the rage, along with “depressed trough” roads, which sound like they were actually named to discourage traffic. Other highlights from This Year in History: Mussolini dissolves Italy’s pesky parliament in favor of that infinitely fun-er form of governance, the fascist dictatorship (upgrade!); and self-esteem therapy comes to the U.S.

Anyway, So Big is Edna Ferber’s classic novel of turn-of-the century Chicago. Hailed at the time as Ferber’s masterpiece, the story captures the life of a gambler’s daughter, Selina Peake DeJong, of her marriage and widowhood, and of her son, Dirk—and still rings true with contemporary issues such as poverty and sexism. 

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Today’s daily desk copy request: Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson’s Infinite Reality: The Hidden Blueprint of Our Virtual Lives for a media studies course on computer mediated communication. 
In Infinite Reality, Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson, two pioneering experts in the field of virtual reality, reveal how the human brain behaves in virtual environments and examine where radical new developments in digital technology will lead us in five, fifty, and five hundred years. I especially like their foray into further-off technological possibilities, like “total personality downloads” that would allow your great-great-grandchildren to have a conversation with “you” a century or more after your death.
What lucky great-great-grandchildren I will have! To talk with me beyond the grave will surely be the greatest of treats. I have only been able to talk to my great-great-grandmother once in a pneumonia-induced fever dream. And even then, she just kept yammering on about some potato famine. BORING! My great-great-grandchildren will have the wealth of my timeless wisdom at their disposal. Including, but not limited to:
1. Don’t let your baby cousin mouth-kiss you when she is exhibiting plague-like symptoms. 
2. Have a list of excuses prepped and ready for the next time a friend invites you to his improv comedy show. (Acceptable examples: “Maybe if Jeopardy isn’t on,” “My toe is being weird,” and “That sounds really bad”).
3. If you do something REALLY poorly the first time someone asks, they won’t ask you to do it again. This method is especially effective with cat-sitting.

Today’s daily desk copy request: Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson’s Infinite Reality: The Hidden Blueprint of Our Virtual Lives for a media studies course on computer mediated communication.

In Infinite Reality, Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson, two pioneering experts in the field of virtual reality, reveal how the human brain behaves in virtual environments and examine where radical new developments in digital technology will lead us in five, fifty, and five hundred years. I especially like their foray into further-off technological possibilities, like “total personality downloads” that would allow your great-great-grandchildren to have a conversation with “you” a century or more after your death.

What lucky great-great-grandchildren I will have! To talk with me beyond the grave will surely be the greatest of treats. I have only been able to talk to my great-great-grandmother once in a pneumonia-induced fever dream. And even then, she just kept yammering on about some potato famine. BORING! My great-great-grandchildren will have the wealth of my timeless wisdom at their disposal. Including, but not limited to:

1. Don’t let your baby cousin mouth-kiss you when she is exhibiting plague-like symptoms.

2. Have a list of excuses prepped and ready for the next time a friend invites you to his improv comedy show. (Acceptable examples: “Maybe if Jeopardy isn’t on,” “My toe is being weird,” and “That sounds really bad”).

3. If you do something REALLY poorly the first time someone asks, they won’t ask you to do it again. This method is especially effective with cat-sitting.

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Today’s daily desk copy request: Thomas Fleming’s Washington’s Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge for an introductory U.S. history course. 
It’s the winter of 1777. The Brits are laughing it up in the cushy, damn-near tropical Philadelphia, PA. Where are the Americans? Oh, they’re about 20 miles away. 20 miles straight North-ish, that is, which we all know means they were very slightly colder & more peeved. But  if you want to whip an army of “beaten, bedraggled young recruits” into the greatest army ever, you’ve got to throw all you’ve got at them, including negligibly worsened weather conditions.
In his book, Thomas Fleming argues that the defining moment of the Revolutionary War did not occur in the battlefield or at the diplomatic table, but during that winter at Valley Forge, where Washington trained his army under brutal conditions, and simultaneously fought for his political life as members of the Continental Congress hatched a plot to unseat him. NICE TRY YOU LOSERS, WASHINGTON’S #1 (<— I would like to submit this last line as an alternative National Anthem, set, very loosely, to “Old McDonald Had a Farm”).  

Today’s daily desk copy request: Thomas Fleming’s Washington’s Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge for an introductory U.S. history course. 

It’s the winter of 1777. The Brits are laughing it up in the cushy, damn-near tropical Philadelphia, PA. Where are the Americans? Oh, they’re about 20 miles away. 20 miles straight North-ish, that is, which we all know means they were very slightly colder & more peeved. But  if you want to whip an army of “beaten, bedraggled young recruits” into the greatest army ever, you’ve got to throw all you’ve got at them, including negligibly worsened weather conditions.

In his book, Thomas Fleming argues that the defining moment of the Revolutionary War did not occur in the battlefield or at the diplomatic table, but during that winter at Valley Forge, where Washington trained his army under brutal conditions, and simultaneously fought for his political life as members of the Continental Congress hatched a plot to unseat him. NICE TRY YOU LOSERS, WASHINGTON’S #1 (<— I would like to submit this last line as an alternative National Anthem, set, very loosely, to “Old McDonald Had a Farm”).  

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Today’s daily desk copy request: David Rock’s Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work for a class called “Strategic Human Resources for Leaders.” 
I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a ton of leadership roles in my life, but I always thought I had a pretty good handle on how to motivate people. Like when I was chosen as “line leader” in kindergarten—a job which meant corralling your delinquent peers for cafeteria-transport—I liked to vacillate between the belittling (“You guys…it’s not that hard”), the threatening (“Get in line or your goldfish are mine!!!”), and the despotic (“RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. I OWN YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN”). Influences included Ivan the Terrible and the boastful lyrical stylings of Queen Latifah’s electrifying debut All Hail the Queen (1989), which played on loop in my head throughout my short-lived tenure.
Well, according to David Rock, this isn’t the best way to induce productivity in the workplace. Rather, it’s the quiet leaders—those who improve the thinking of others without actually telling them what to do—who bring out the best performances. Quiet Leadership offers a practical, six-step guide to making permanent workplace performance change by unleashing higher productivity, new levels of morale, and greater job satisfaction.

Today’s daily desk copy request: David Rock’s Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work for a class called “Strategic Human Resources for Leaders.”

I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a ton of leadership roles in my life, but I always thought I had a pretty good handle on how to motivate people. Like when I was chosen as “line leader” in kindergarten—a job which meant corralling your delinquent peers for cafeteria-transport—I liked to vacillate between the belittling (“You guys…it’s not that hard”), the threatening (“Get in line or your goldfish are mine!!!”), and the despotic (“RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. I OWN YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN”). Influences included Ivan the Terrible and the boastful lyrical stylings of Queen Latifah’s electrifying debut All Hail the Queen (1989), which played on loop in my head throughout my short-lived tenure.

Well, according to David Rock, this isn’t the best way to induce productivity in the workplace. Rather, it’s the quiet leaders—those who improve the thinking of others without actually telling them what to dowho bring out the best performances. Quiet Leadership offers a practical, six-step guide to making permanent workplace performance change by unleashing higher productivity, new levels of morale, and greater job satisfaction.

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Today’s daily desk copy request: Jane Bowles Two Serious Ladies: A Novel for a course on “writing and sexual politics.”
A cult classic and the only novel by Jane Bowles, the highly influential wife of Paul Bowles, Two Serious Ladies (1943) follows two upper-class women, Christina Goering and Frieda Copperfield, as they descend into debauchery. 
If that description isn’t enough to get you excited, you should also know that it was Tennessee Williams’ favorite novel AND your new source for under-utilized children’s games. 
Example: “I forgive you of all your sins.” 
This one comes from everyone&#8217;s favorite child-zealot Christina. Follow these simple rules and you are your friends will be laughing your way out of the devil’s clutches (FUN!) 
1. Throw a burlap sack over the head of your infirm sister’s unsuspecting friend and force her into a mud pit. 
2. Ask the burlap-ensconced friend the most rhetorical of all rhetorical questions: “Does your sin taste bitter in your mouth?” 
3. If she complains, hit her with the hard facts. Like this:
“The mud’s cold,” said Mary. 
“The hell fires are hot,” said Christina. 
4. Convince that aquaphobic sinner to dunk herself in a freezing stream for three minutes to absolve her of her sins. Shout a prayer to God over her about how only a sinner would wear burlap.
5. Give her some colored pencils and send her on her way. 
Adult-appropriate mind-games included inside!

Today’s daily desk copy request: Jane Bowles Two Serious Ladies: A Novel for a course on “writing and sexual politics.”

A cult classic and the only novel by Jane Bowles, the highly influential wife of Paul Bowles, Two Serious Ladies (1943) follows two upper-class women, Christina Goering and Frieda Copperfield, as they descend into debauchery. 

If that description isn’t enough to get you excited, you should also know that it was Tennessee Williams’ favorite novel AND your new source for under-utilized children’s games.

Example: “I forgive you of all your sins.”

This one comes from everyone’s favorite child-zealot Christina. Follow these simple rules and you are your friends will be laughing your way out of the devil’s clutches (FUN!) 

1. Throw a burlap sack over the head of your infirm sister’s unsuspecting friend and force her into a mud pit.

2. Ask the burlap-ensconced friend the most rhetorical of all rhetorical questions: “Does your sin taste bitter in your mouth?”

3. If she complains, hit her with the hard facts. Like this:

“The mud’s cold,” said Mary.

“The hell fires are hot,” said Christina.

4. Convince that aquaphobic sinner to dunk herself in a freezing stream for three minutes to absolve her of her sins. Shout a prayer to God over her about how only a sinner would wear burlap.

5. Give her some colored pencils and send her on her way.

Adult-appropriate mind-games included inside!

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Today’s daily desk copy request: Robert Dallek’s Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House for a course on 20th century U.S. history.
I always thought it was a little weird that Kennedy supporters promoted the Camelot comparison. Yes, there were some really great years there. Fun times chasing that damned elusive Grail. Undoubtedly a lot of wild parties &amp; widespread idealism. But then there was that whole “I accidentally slept with my half-sister, inadverdently spawning my greatest enemy” plotline + all that cuckolding of Arthur at the hands of his dear wife and bff.  You did NOT want to be a cuckold in Arthurian times. It was the equivalent of someone calling you a “man unbefitting of my respect” + *expletives* today.
Anyway, in Camelot’s Court, Dallek, THE Kennedy biographer for those in the know, delivers a riveting new portrait of this president and his inner circle of advisors—their rivalries, personality clashes, and political battles.
Here’s a fun game for your students: match the Kennedy brain-truster with his Arthurian counterpart.
1. Attorney General Robert Kennedy2. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara3. Secretary of State Dean Rusk4. National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy5. Trusted aide Ted Sorensen6. Trusted aide #2 Arthur Schlesinger 7. Kennedy’s personal secretary Evelyn Lincoln (brain trust-adjacent)a. Gawaine, the gruff &#8220;Maidens&#8217; Knight&#8221;b. Mordred, the power-hungry evil spawnc. Galahad, the heaven-bound bored. Lancelot, the talented one with questionable friendship skillse. Gareth, the mama’s boyf. Lamorak, the Lothario with a penchant for grandmothersg. Morgan Le Faye, jealous witch (This is a free one, because obviously this is the woman I threw in there. Also, most women are witches of some sort in Arthurian lit because of the patriarchy.)

Today’s daily desk copy request: Robert Dallek’s Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House for a course on 20th century U.S. history.

I always thought it was a little weird that Kennedy supporters promoted the Camelot comparison. Yes, there were some really great years there. Fun times chasing that damned elusive Grail. Undoubtedly a lot of wild parties & widespread idealism. But then there was that whole “I accidentally slept with my half-sister, inadverdently spawning my greatest enemy” plotline + all that cuckolding of Arthur at the hands of his dear wife and bff.  You did NOT want to be a cuckold in Arthurian times. It was the equivalent of someone calling you a “man unbefitting of my respect” + *expletives* today.

Anyway, in Camelot’s Court, Dallek, THE Kennedy biographer for those in the know, delivers a riveting new portrait of this president and his inner circle of advisors—their rivalries, personality clashes, and political battles.

Here’s a fun game for your students: match the Kennedy brain-truster with his Arthurian counterpart.

1. Attorney General Robert Kennedy
2. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara
3. Secretary of State Dean Rusk
4. National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy
5. Trusted aide Ted Sorensen
6. Trusted aide #2 Arthur Schlesinger 
7. Kennedy’s personal secretary Evelyn Lincoln (brain trust-adjacent)

a. Gawaine, the gruff “
Maidens’ Knight”
b. Mordred, the power-hungry evil spawn
c. Galahad, the heaven-bound bore
d. Lancelot, the talented one with questionable friendship skills
e. Gareth, the mama’s boy
f. Lamorak, the Lothario with a penchant for grandmothers
g. Morgan Le Faye, jealous witch (This is a free one, because obviously this is the woman I threw in there. Also, most women are witches of some sort in Arthurian lit because of the patriarchy.)

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Today’s daily desk copy request: The Truman Show: The Shooting Script for an introduction to literary studies course.
Late in life, when I sit down to write my reminiscences (to be bequeathed to my hoard of ungrateful gerbils upon my death), that time I went to go see The Truman Show will certainly take up the bulk of my “Metaphysical Meltdowns” section, because I just wasn’t prepared for it. I thought I was going to see another lighthearted romp starring the Franciscan sleuth who once hilariously sported asparagus-tusks. Instead, I got a movie that led me to question whether my father was actually a paid actor, and whether my world was really just a grand facsimile of the real world—an arcological dome constructed and paid for by Lifetime. When I still have suspicions of being Truman-ed, I think, “You can’t possibly be being Truman-ed, no one would want to watch you eat peanut butter off of a fork for 3 hours!” Then I remember that Bravo is currently airing a reality show about people watching reality shows, and the peanut butter thing sounds pretty compelling.  
But I’m not the only one tormented by such questions post-Truman! There’s even a set of psychological delusions dubbed “Truman Syndrome” for short. So assign it to your students, and support local therapists.   

Today’s daily desk copy request: The Truman Show: The Shooting Script for an introduction to literary studies course.

Late in life, when I sit down to write my reminiscences (to be bequeathed to my hoard of ungrateful gerbils upon my death), that time I went to go see The Truman Show will certainly take up the bulk of my “Metaphysical Meltdowns” section, because I just wasn’t prepared for it. I thought I was going to see another lighthearted romp starring the Franciscan sleuth who once hilariously sported asparagus-tusks. Instead, I got a movie that led me to question whether my father was actually a paid actor, and whether my world was really just a grand facsimile of the real world—an arcological dome constructed and paid for by Lifetime. When I still have suspicions of being Truman-ed, I think, “You can’t possibly be being Truman-ed, no one would want to watch you eat peanut butter off of a fork for 3 hours!” Then I remember that Bravo is currently airing a reality show about people watching reality shows, and the peanut butter thing sounds pretty compelling.  

But I’m not the only one tormented by such questions post-Truman! There’s even a set of psychological delusions dubbed “Truman Syndrome” for short. So assign it to your students, and support local therapists.   

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Today’s daily desk copy request: Christopher Buckley’s Little Green Men for a class on pseudoscience and conspiracy theory.
SPEAKING OF UFOs (which is my favorite non sequitur to yell over people):
Beltway insider and stuffy talk show host John Oliver Banion* finds his privileged life turned topsy-turvy when he is abducted by aliens from his exclusive country-club golf course. Now, like many of us, he might have been able to brush off this initial abduction and gone on to lead a relatively normal life, but then ole John is abducted a second time.  Believing he has found his true calling (much to family and friends’ protestations), John begins a crusade, demanding that Congress and the White House seriously investigate the existence of extraterrestrials and UFOs.** A comic tour de force from &#8220;one of the best and surest political humorists in America&#8221; (Los Angeles Times Book Review), Little Green Men is an uproarious comedy of manners that proves once and for all that the truth is out there. (In the way that space is “out there”).
*Name derived from Job, the Bible’s human punching bag beleaguered by a cosmic bet gone twisted.
**Which hearkens back to that famous old saying: “Abduct me once, shame on you. Abduct me twice, NOW IT&#8217;S CONGRESS&#8217;S PROBLEM.

Today’s daily desk copy request: Christopher Buckley’s Little Green Men for a class on pseudoscience and conspiracy theory.

SPEAKING OF UFOs (which is my favorite non sequitur to yell over people):

Beltway insider and stuffy talk show host John Oliver Banion* finds his privileged life turned topsy-turvy when he is abducted by aliens from his exclusive country-club golf course. Now, like many of us, he might have been able to brush off this initial abduction and gone on to lead a relatively normal life, but then ole John is abducted a second time.  Believing he has found his true calling (much to family and friends’ protestations), John begins a crusade, demanding that Congress and the White House seriously investigate the existence of extraterrestrials and UFOs.** A comic tour de force from “one of the best and surest political humorists in America” (Los Angeles Times Book Review), Little Green Men is an uproarious comedy of manners that proves once and for all that the truth is out there. (In the way that space is “out there”).

*Name derived from Job, the Bible’s human punching bag beleaguered by a cosmic bet gone twisted.

**Which hearkens back to that famous old saying: “Abduct me once, shame on you. Abduct me twice, NOW IT’S CONGRESS’S PROBLEM.