Thankfully-- and nothing against the Carolinas-- but no, though I didn't have much down time in the "ordinary life" before I was swallowing the Carolina Chaser-- a much more modest drive up to Murray, KY.
Now I understand there is still some dispute over including Kentucky in the South, and since the state didn't officially secede (and had, probably, more Union sympathy than Confederate) in the War of Northern Aggression, I suppose an argument can be made that my trip up there makes me a scalawag. But, I know as Southerners we love to include Texas-- which wasn't even a state in the Civil War-- because it's big, scary, and full of citizens convinced that, if the Feds screw 'em, they'll just go back to being their own damn country. So, I figure, we can let the "officially" neutral state of Kentucky-- home of bluegrass, Don Rosa, and George Clooney-- in on the joke too.
Plus, Murray State University, dubbed Kentucky's Public Ivy League College (though it's not an Ivy League school, obviously) because of its academic standards, is located about fifteen feet outside the Tennessee state line, so my ancestors can rest easy.
Frankly, prior to organizing the screening and making the trip, all I knew about Murray State University was that they were the "little college that could" that beat Vanderbilt last year in the opening round of the Men's NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Not being a basketball fan, and being an alumnus of an SEC institution, I had somewhat recklessly projected that Vandy would make it to the final four-- and with Kansas losing in that big upset in the second round, my bracket was completely busted two days into the blasted tournament (just a side note-- President Obama actually called this unlikely upset by Murray State. Decide for yourself whether or not our President keeping up this well with College basketball is unsettling). So I suppose because of this mauling, Murray's name stuck, and eventually found its way on my list of projected tour venues.
|Who cares about basketball anyway? I'm from the SEC!|
As I mentioned earlier, the school is known for its strong academic reputation. Its nickname/mascot is The Racers (like "Kentucky Derby" kind of racer). The school was initially founded as a teachers college in 1922, opening the following year. Throughout the following decades, it slowly grew, changing its name several times until finally settling on Murray State University (to coincide with yet another slew of additional courses and programs) in 1966.
One notable alumnus includes Chris Thile, a member of the fabulous folk group Nickel Creek.
The campus was quite handsome, if a little modest, and reminded me of the layout of USA in Mobile or UWA in Livingston or UAH back home-- kinda like a city college that's not in a major city.
Murray's (the city) history is as equally as modest. It's the seat of Calloway County (though wasn't always). Despite the aforementioned neutrality of Kentucky in the Civil War, Murray, again, being on the Tennessee line, had its share of Confederate sympathy, and the town did see its share of guerrilla warfare. It was burned on numerous occasions by both the North and South-- that's what neutrality gets you, folks.
|Hey there, hi there, ho there, he's a friend to you and me.... |
We met on campus and walked over to a nearby, hometown international restaurant that was literally feet off from the quad (though not technically part of campus, I don't believe). Really nice set up, though-- a converted house-- that was quite cosy, with books all around, and not just for show. Definitely an intellectual type of hangout with a down home feel.
Unfortunately, I'm not very adventurous when it comes to food, nor do I drink, and in hoping to keep from costing the dept much of a burden (they were footing the bill) I got the ever-fancy American Grilled Cheese sandwich with a Coca-Cola-- the only non-imported combo on the menu.
|Crazy eyes off sister!|
We then ventured back to the venue, and the screening went pretty much as it should've, and the crowd that came out was actually bigger than I expected. About an hour and a half in, though, about two-thirds of the audience took off (apparently it was some class that had come to see as much as they could before class time). So as the night ended I fielded some questions from a handful of people-- including a European student who, having a hard time understanding the raw southern accents, asked the horrifying question:
"What happened in the movie?"
Thankfully, though, after getting more details from her I found her real question was about the McGuffin, and something we left quite intentionally ambiguous about it-- not about the basic plot structure and what the hell happened in the two hours of jumbled, idiotic mess she just forced herself to watch.
|Duh, who says movies gotta make sense, 'dere?|
And trust me, unless your name is Orson Welles, when you show your first feature, sometimes you're gonna get grilled, and it's the best thing that can happen to you.
|All of us can't be "Jacks-of-all-trades" you know.|