Saturday, November 23, 2013

Farewell To My Friend Patricia McGuire Rock


Patricia McGuire - aka Pat Rock aka Sister Louis Marie

  • Born in Rock Springs, Iowa
  • A Sister of Humility (As in a Nun)
  • A public school teacher
  • A professor at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • This Inspirational Gallatin professor was one of the first recipients of the School's Excellence in Teaching Awards
Hardly the kind of credentials that would make one like me, someone lost in the creative explosion of thought and world affairs, shed a tear.  But this Patricia McGuire was no ordinary teacher and I was no ordinary kid, or so she said.
Pat died last April 29, 2013 in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.  Our last conversation was just a few months earlier when she told me she was not feeling well but still wanted me to come up and see her.  I hoped to make the trip this past summer.  Her obit was impressive but grossly understated.  It went as follows:
"Pat was a lifelong educator and held teaching positions from grade schools to professorships at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, N.Y., and New York University in New York City. She was a specialist in the works of Shakespeare and taught legions of students about his poetry and plays. She was the inventor of the Great Grammarian, a successful board game she developed to teach the nuances of grammar skills, a particular interest of Pat’s over many years.

She was born in Rock Rapids, Iowa, and grew up in a large, loving and joy-filled family.

Pat was an active member of her religious community, the Sisters of Humility, Davenport, Iowa, and served in many roles over the course of her life. She was a faith-filled and loving member of the church, a zealous proponent of peace and justice and an unflagging opponent of their absence in her world view. Above all else, she was a gentle woman whose legacy to her family and friends was in her modeling of the Christian ideals. She will be greatly missed but held forever in our hearts.

THE GREAT GRAMMARIAN(R) Home School Edition is a junior version of an adult educational game that has been used by many Fortune 500 companies to train their employees. These games were developed by Patricia Rock, who has taught English from elementary through graduate school. She currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at New York University, and has also been a national consultant in Written Communications for over twenty years. She has received numerous grants and awards and has been a speaker for a variety of national associations.

Longtime Gallatin faculty member Pat Rock died on April 29 in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. She was 83 years old and had taught at Gallatin for 25 years. She was one of the first recipients of Gallatin’s Excellence in Teaching Award just before her retirement in 2011. “Pat was one of our great teachers,” said Dean Susanne Wofford. “Year after year, her courses--Shakespeare and the Uses of this World, The Medieval Mind, The Meaning of Home, The Simple Life--filled to capacity, and in their evaluations students praised Pat not only for her knowledge and passion, but for her profound impact on their lives.”

She was born in Rock Rapids, Iowa, and over the years she was a grade school teacher as well as a professor at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, New York, and at Gallatin. A specialist in the works of Shakespeare, she also invented a board game called the Great Grammarian, to teach the fine points of grammar. She is survived by a brother, James McGuire, a sister, Kathleen McGuire Pareti, many nieces and nephews as well as friends and colleagues.

“Pat had such a special spirit,” said Gallatin Professor Steve Hutkins, “loving, caring, giving, selfless and sweet. She was always so there, so present. She truly loved teaching at Gallatin, and we are fortunate that she had such a long career here. We will miss her dearly, but her spirit will forever be a part of this place.”

“Pat loved teaching and loved her students,” said Professor June Foley, “and she inspired not only students but colleagues--especially me. Her Shakespeare courses and the courses she created, The Meaning of Home and The Simple Life, opened hearts and minds and changed lives. And she practiced what she preached: On retiring to her Pennsylvania home, she launched a passionate, full-time campaign against fracking. How many truly good people have any of us known? Pat was the rare real thing.”

“Pat and I spent two weeks in France,” recalled Professor Jean Graybeal, “exploring Paris, visiting friends, basking in a saltwater spa on the Mediterranean. Pat was happy to be wherever we found ourselves, thrilled with every meal, able to fall asleep in minutes on a futon, ready for changes of plan, changes of mind, changes of weather. Flexible, free, open, curious, communicative; when I asked her to be sure to say if she had some wishes or preferences her response was this: “I’m like the little three-year-old who had never talked. When they finally asked him why, he answered: ‘Everything has been fine so far.’” Something tells me that everything is still fine with her; it is only we who need time to adjust to this latest change.”
ROCK RAPIDS - In 1871, Patrick and James McGuire were the first known Catholics of the original 13 families in central Lyon County.  I bet they were the ancestors of Patricia McGuire of Rock Rapids, Iowa.
Nice words were written about her but wholly inadequate for the contributions Pat made to us, those fortunate enough to have been taught by her.
I first was her pupil in 6th grade in Ottumwa, Iowa, St. Mary's School.  At the time I felt she targeted me for torture.  In time I came to understand she was doing it out of fear that we were not learning from her.
In my senior year in high school she came back and she pushed just as hard but with college and Viet Nam facing me I stopped fighting her and grew to really appreciate the knowledge, discipline and persistence she sought in us so we might understand and master such boring things like grammar, punctuation and spelling.
There was the explosion of creative thought she worked to instill in us and the appreciation for all the poets, writers, philosophers, musicians, playwrights and anyone who understood the sheer power of words and grammar.
Because of Pat words became my best friends and the proper care and feeding of words my passion in life.  Now most stories like this end with the former student coming out of the woodwork to say how much Pat had influenced their life back in high school.
For me, my second time having her as my teacher was only the beginning, not the end of an ongoing relationship that lasted over four decades.  About 20 years after being taught by her in high school I wound up in New Jersey working for the governor.
Destiny had an old classmate contact me to say she heard Sister Louis Marie left the nunhood and was a teacher at NYU in downtown Manhattan, just across the river from where I worked at the time.
So I tracked her down and found she was teaching all these fascinating courses at NYU under the name Pat Rock, and it seemed every class was filled long before open enrollment started.
One day we met for coffee in Greenwich Village to renew our friendship and about once a month I journeyed to Manhattan for tea, or wine, and an endless series of conversations on the world.
By 1991 I was working full time in New York City and we met often to discuss her concerns over the collapse of English comprehension and grammar in America and she never stopped pushing me to expand my mind, focus my creative energy, and do something to help people.
Many times Pat would bring other teachers or students to our sessions and they often were Broadway performers or television and movie producers.  She was surrounded by creative people attracted to her dynamic mind and heart warming personality.
There were books she wanted me to write.  Places she wanted me to see.  We even started to collaborate on a fiction story intertwining our respective experiences in life.  She laughed at my stories and prodded my imagination for more.  To Pat, life was a Big Chief Writing Tablet waiting to be filled with words.
In spite of her superstar status in the world of words one day I asked her if she would edit my first book, a mystical and spiritual adventure called The Joshua Chronicles.  She seemed pleasantly surprised that I might attempt to string together a couple hundred thousand words and still be coherent so she said she would at least read it.
A few days later we met and she said she would edit it, surprising even herself.  It needed a lot of work but she had to do it because I was the only person she ever taught who thought he was a speech writer for God.  The book was about the discovery of a missing journal of a scribe who spent 26 years following Jesus and recording his words first hand.
She loved the concept because she felt it was a worthy challenge to my abilities and spiritual messages needed help to reach people.  Perhaps she loved the concept but she was a ruthless editor as she convinced me to change the main character from a man to a woman, causing a rewrite of over one third of the book.
Pat always gave you a lesson when editing explaining why she suggested changes and how they would help the reader understand the depth of the message.  Her edits made the book far, far better than before and we were both pleased with the result.
She then edited a second, third and fourth book for me and said she enjoyed every minute and word because I was finally starting to get what she started trying to teach me in grade school, how to appreciate and use words and t0 respect and be aware of their consequences.
The first, The Joshua Chronicles, was a work of fiction about Jesus and the Prince of Darkness.  The second was a massive journal titled Dancing the Tightrope about kids growing up from birth through high school in the 1950's and 1960's.  Autobiographical as in Irish fiction.
The third was Take Me Now God!, a fun-filled semi-autobiographical story about the search for meaning in life and the pitfalls along the path.  I referred to it as enhanced non-fiction.
The final was a historical non-fiction work detailing the untold history of Communism, Nazism, Hitler and Stalin using recently declassified and missing documents from the American, English, French, and Russian archives and the Hitler SS  film footage that disappeared during Hitler's death and the fall of Berlin.  I called it Saviors of the 20th Century, Hitler & Stalin - the war of annihilation between the Communists and Nazis.
For the first time "teach" was happy grading my work.  We spent hours going over books, manuscripts, ideas for new works, world affairs, and her work as a National Consultant in Written Communications.
She was genuinely concerned that the kids of today were rapidly losing their English and communication skills.  Perhaps this is where Pat truly stood out from the pack.  Classroom teaching was never enough as I watched her teaching evolve from grade school to high school to university to Fortune 500 corporate boardrooms.
By 1979 Pat was a National Consultant in Written Communications and was employed by many Fortune 500 companies to teach Oral and Written Grammar, Business Writing and Introduction to Sales Writing.
Her desire to help people communicate was relentless as her workshops evolved and her games became far more popular.  She was a long time consultant to The New York Times writers, editors and executives.
So concerned was Pat about the disintegrating quality of education, especially in reading and writing, that she took the Great Grammarian game board she developed in 1985 to teach communication and grammar to corporate clients and then adapted it for kids in homes and home schooling.
We horse-traded services, her editing for my marketing help.  From the mid-1990's on I was her business consultant and she was my editor.  Ironically, neither of us liked to talk about ourselves so we worked together to help each other.
She wanted to pursue development of a game for homes so parents could learn along with their kids.  I pushed her to do it and over the years she did develop game boards for corporate, then home and finally home schooling use.
In 2003 the College Board, administrator of the SAT exams, finally acted on the continuing decline in English writing and grammar proficiency and revised the SAT to include "critical reading" and "writing" components.
When the SAT board announced they were reinstating Reading and Grammar into the SAT exam and giving it much greater weigh in the scoring she was elated and the need for her games became even greater.  They could be the difference in SAT scores and acceptance into the best schools.
The Great Grammarian Home Edition was the result and for generations to come America's youth will benefit from the tireless and lifelong effort of an Irish girl from Iowa who could never give up on her mission to help prepare kids to make a difference in our world.  A woman whose love of the arts drove her to encourage kids and adults to pursue careers in television, film and stage.
To me Pat will always be a Saint because she devoted her life to helping others find their potential.  When she didn't feel she was doing enough in the classroom she created workshops, then games, so that thousands more people could benefit from her genius.  She never gave up on believing with the right tools for effective communication America could lead the world.
Her contributions will be felt long after her death because of the thousands of lives she touched through teaching.  It will be felt in the books, movies, Broadway plays, writers, speakers and others she touched and influenced.  She was the epitome of selfless dedication and a model for humility.
Once when I was pushing her to give me more of her background in order to help establish the credentials behind her Game she wrote me, "This tooting my own horn sounds pretty offensive to me."  How could you not love someone like that?
For 2 years when I was young Patricia McGuire, the brilliant and demanding Irish lass from Rock Springs, Iowa was my teacher, and for 31 years after I grew up Patricia McGuire was my friend.
Soon, my friend, we will be seeing you again.  As your beloved Shakespeare would say, "If music be the food of love, play on."

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Kentucky Basketball - How Good Can it Get?

Rick Pitino & John Calipari

In 2012 the University of Kentucky won the men's national championship.
In 2013 Louisville won the men's national championship.
In 2013 the UK women reached their 3rd straight regional finals.
In 2013 the Louisville women reached the national finals finishing 2nd.
So here are the final preseason national polls for the upcoming season.
UK Men - #1
Louisville Men - #3
Louisville Women - #5
UK Women - #7
Are you kidding me, all four teams in the top seven in the nation?
With the top recruiting class in college history, the UK men look to make up their fall from grace last year when the defending national champion didn't even qualify for March Madness.
Now basketball at UK is sacred and has been since Adolph Rupp started a run of 8 national championship in 1948.  Only UCLA has more (11), and 10 of them came over a 12 year span, 1964-1975.  UCLA has won once since 1975 while UK has won 4 times since then.
Of course the irony is that both UK and Louisville programs have been built on the backs of east coast coaches.  Rick Pitino of Louisville, recognized as one of the deans of college coaching, was born in New York City.  John Calipari of UK was born in Moon Township Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh.
Pitino had the distinct, yet dubious honor of having built both Kentucky programs to national prominence and leading both teams to national championships, something no other coach in the history of college basketball has achieved.
Distinct because no one has won the NCAA crown with two different schools.  Dubious because in Kentucky you are for UK or Louisville.  The intra-state rivalry is among the most intense in our nation.
When Pitino left UK and then returned to Louisville about half the state considered him enlightened while the other half considered him a traitor of the stature of Judas.  Only a kid from the streets of New York could overcome such a swing from conquering hero to Shakespearean villain, and then fight his way back to the top of the basketball pinnacle.
And look at the homes they have built for their respective teams.  Massive stadiums, the modern day Roman Coliseums, welcome over 20,000 people to the games but it is more than that.

The same stadiums are filled for midnight openings of the practice season and pep rallies before games.  Season tickets are so coveted they can be a major part of divorce property settlements.
I have a lot of relatives in Kentucky and their loyalty is split between UK and Louisville.  There are nieces, nephews and in laws that attended both schools.  Kentuckians are a rather strange bunch but one thing binds them together, the sacred nature of basketball and the hunger to win.
This should be a most entertaining year in the land of thoroughbreds and Bluegrass.
Here is what the AP has to say about Kentucky basketball.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- There is a battle brewing for women's basketball supremacy in the Bluegrass State.

The Louisville and Kentucky women's teams are ranked in the top 10 and have national championship aspirations after making deep runs in last year's NCAA tournament.

The fifth-ranked Cardinals will start the season Saturday against Loyola-Chicago after their stunning march to the national championship game with an injury-depleted roster. Louisville is healthy, welcoming back three regulars to have one of its deepest rosters in several seasons.

Kentucky, ranked No. 7, opens Friday at Marist with its sights set on reaching the Final Four coming off the Wildcats' third regional final appearance in four years. The Wildcats lost No. 2 career scorer A'dia Mathies to the WNBA but have added two high school All-Americans to the rotation.

''It's just incredible, I think, for the Commonwealth of Kentucky,'' Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said Wednesday of both schools' success. ''It's just a real point of pride and basketball brings people together, it excites people, it motivates people. I think it's a terrific place to be and I'm humbled to be here during this exciting time.''

The Kentucky men's team is ranked No. 1 and defending national champion Louisville is No. 3.

The women's teams won't have to wait long to settle bragging rights. Louisville travels to Lexington on Dec. 1, aiming to avenge last year's 48-47 loss decided by freshman Janee Thompson's 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds remaining.

Before that in-state showdown, the Wildcats and Cardinals continue honing the chemistry that has both teams excited about their championship prospects.

Louisville's cohesion has been a work in progress in recent years as hip injuries sidelined senior guard Tia Gibbs for the past two seasons while 6-foot-1 senior forward Asia Taylor sat out last year. Junior forward Shawnta' Dyer tore the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in her left knee last December.

The Cardinals (29-9, 11-5 Big East Conference) endured some frustrating losses along the way but hit stride in the NCAA tournament, highlighted by a monumental 82-81 upset of No. 1 and defending champion Baylor in the regional semifinal. Louisville led for all but a few seconds in the final minute, winning on Monique Reid's two free throws with 2.6 seconds left.

Upsets of Tennessee and California followed before Connecticut trounced Louisville 93-60 in the championship at New Orleans.

Taylor can't wait to be part of what she hopes is a return trip down Interstate 65 to Nashville for this year's Final Four.

''I was happy for my teammates and the program,'' she said, ''but as a competitor you want to be out there and be in a big game like that. The fact that I knew I was coming back was my motivation to work hard.''

Though forward Sheronne Vails is out for the year following offseason knee surgery, Walz is eager to see if having his healthiest squad in some time can carry the Cardinals past favored UConn in the newly renamed American Athletic Conference and deeper in the NCAA tournament.

Besides senior guard and leading scorer Shoni Schimmel (14.2 points), Louisville returns junior forward Sara Hammond (10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds), wing Antonita Slaughter and junior guard Bria Smith (9.5 points).

''We'll probably have the biggest game of rock-paper-scissors that you've ever seen, and the last five will be our starters,'' Walz joked about the process of choosing a lineup. ''It's a great problem to have.''

Mitchell can say the same thing about his own well-stocked Kentucky roster.

The returns of senior forward and leading scorer DeNesha Stallworth (12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds) and Samarie Walker (8.7 points, 8.1 rebounds) provide a strong post presence for the Wildcats (30-6, 13-3 Southeastern Conference), who fell to UConn in the regional final for the second straight year.

''It took some months, and we still look back and wonder why didn't get over that hump,'' Stallworth said. ''We've gotten better in our offensive execution and are looking good. We don't want to be in that spot (of missing the Final Four) for the fifth straight year.''

Kentucky's backcourt is its deepest area with senior Kastine Evans, juniors Bria Goss and Jennifer O'Neill and sophomore Thompson able to play anywhere in the three-guard alignment. The additions of McDonald's All-Americans Linnae Harper and Makayla Epps could pay off right away for a Wildcats team determined to go a step further - and possibly meeting a familiar foe along the way.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Meet America's Next President - Chris Christie!


Fresh off the largest win by a Republican moderate since Abraham -- Lincoln that is, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie won re-election in the Democratic state with 60% of the vote.
Now I worked for New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and he also did pretty well in the governor races.  In fact, he had the closest and largest election victories in history in 1981 and 1985 respectively.  Moderate Republicans were about to become near extinct after the reign of Kean.
In 1981 Kean, a moderate Republican, won the governor's race by the closest margin in New Jersey history, just 1,797 votes of 2.4 million cast.  By 1985 Kean won by the largest victory margin in history, getting 69.5% of the vote in a Democrat state and winning by 794,229 votes.
Kean ran the most successful "voter inclusion program" ever undertaken by a GOP candidate in the nation.  Kean's record margin included over 60% of the Black, Union and Roman Catholic votes.   Kean was a lifetime civil rights advocate and Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., endorsed the governor and campaigned for him.
It was the last time a Republican got over 50% in a statewide Jersey election.
Tom Kean was a Princeton blue-blood and genuine nice person, far too nice to be president of the USA.
But Christie, well he is another story.
He went to the University of Delaware and Seton Hall law school.  Not quite Princeton but quite good schools.  He was a volunteer for one of Tom Kean's governor's races.  Then he was United States Attorney for New Jersey.
With all the mob activity and corruption in the New Jersey/New York districts not to mention the Wall Street presence, the US Attorney's handled some of the toughest cases and characters in the nation.
Christie is a rough and tumble straight talking Jersey boy with plenty of girth, grit and gristle.  It is great to see that his diet efforts are paying off as he looked more fit and feisty at the end of the campaign than he looked in years.
So far this self-proclaimed conservative with the moderate to conservative leanings has demonstrated everything necessary to become our next president and it is a rare day in America when we have a New Jersey president.  Fact is only one president, Woodrow Wilson, was a Jersey boy.
Now the eastern liberal media is terrified of the thought of Christie as president so they have started a campaign to convince Midwest and Southern Americans that a smart talking, rather large, and often bombastic dude with a Jersey accent will never be accepted by the voters in the Midwest and South who carry the national elections.
MSNBC talking heads scoff at the thought of a Republican from New Jersey being on the primary ballot in Iowa, or South Carolina.
Well guess what media mouthpieces, I'm also from the Midwest, Iowa in fact, and there is nothing in our corn and pork diet or hayseed image that says we don't recognize a leader as opposed to a politician.
After five years of Obama inertia and Congressional constipation the voters of America, Democrats, Republicans and Independents all, are sick and tired of two party domination and paralyzed politicians.
Chris Christie is a rare breed of politician who actually tells you what he thinks and does what he says he's going to do.  Imagine that!  Honesty, even if a little ruff and gruff, would be refreshing.  The ability to do things no matter how big or small is, well, revolutionary in politics.
Straight talk was a Midwestern trait long before the media hijacked the term for politicians.  And an Iowan would NEVER put the special interests of a political party before what was good for the country.
A great, big, giant lie is stretched over this great land of ours like a sinister blanket of fog.  Politicians and financial people have hidden a deep, dark secret of the vulnerability of America to succumb to the overwhelming dark cloak of Greed powering a spiraling national debt.
The Madison Avenue pursuit of the young teen and adult demographic (what I call the Fountain of Youth obsession) now expects the children of the nation to pay for the sins of their fathers and mothers TODAY, not 25 years from now when they inherit the multi-trillion dollar debt.
I say kids can't possibly be that stupid.  They know the difference between a politician who works up a head of steam and one who is lost in a fog.  Christie will never allow that fog to envelop our youth and nation and that is why he will be elected by the Midwest and Southern voters, whether Democrat, Republican or Independent.
Move over Woodrow, another Jersey boy is headed toward the top.
Say hello to your next president.