Category Archives: Oklahoma culture

Beyond Red

by The Howard

*Disclaimer: All facts reported in this article may only be facts to me and could have nothing at all to do with actual history.

You could say that I grew up in the red hills of northwest Oklahoma between Buffalo and May.  I never actually lived there, but have spent a lot of time in the area and have occasional, random opportunities to go back.  Not as often as in the past, but on occasion I get, or take, the opportunity to go.

Take last Memorial Day for instance.  My brother and I took off the Thursday prior and ran the gauntlet of Waynoka, Buffalo and Laverne leaving silk petals behind as we went.  We had a great time – took along my tattered Atlas & Gazetteer in an effort to get from place to place and back home again without straying onto a highway.

We weren’t completely successful missing the highways but we sure killed a lot of time!

My latest northwestern jaunt was for business to an area south of Gate, Oklahoma.  I’m assuming Gate is so-named because it is just inside the Oklahoma Panhandle, serving as the gate to “No Man’s Land.”

You have to love a place called “No Man’s Land.”  Texas didn’t want this 38-mile wide, narrow strip of land.  Kansas was restricted by geography and treaty from claiming it.  So, it was pinned onto the collective of unassigned lands fated to become Oklahoma.

What I found south of Gate was surprising and a little irritating. At least for a while.

You see, for at least 120 feet below the ground surface there is nothing red.  No “redbed” as the old-timers like to call the red shales and sandstones.  No red silts or sands such as what comprises the red hills outside Buffalo.  No red clays like those that cover much of the state.  Just light brown sand, gravel and a little bit of gray clay.

This geological footprint makes for an interesting drive; it’s like the undiscovered Little Sahara.  There are what appear to be hills but on closer inspection are discovered to be sand dunes rolling right into the Beaver River.  And the visage of these sage covered sand dunes…I couldn’t help but be reminded of Teletubby Land.  My son loves it when I sing the Teletubby song.  He’s now twelve years old, and was never as big a fan of the Tubbies as I.

I didn’t actually see a child’s face in the blazing hot sun (as in Teletubby Land), but after prolonged exposure I’m sure I heard giggling!

Laurie's Cafe in Gate, Oklahoma

By the way, if you ever go through Gate, stop for a cheeseburger at the local café.  They’re pretty good; I’ve had several over the course of two weeks.  And the special on Thursdays is fried chicken.  It must be good because it’s the only building within, say, thirty miles that has more than four people in it.  Every table is filled on Thursdays!

Driving home from these sage-covered dunes, I began to ponder red dirt and the Red Dirt Chronicles.  Oklahoma isn’t all red dirt but red dirt is a common bond.  It is a bond that’s unites us in this geopolitical jigsaw puzzle called Oklahoma.

I think about all the eco-diversity in Oklahoma…I believe we have six distinct eco-regions, depending upon which source you read.  Beyond red, we are a diverse mixture of urban and rural cultures and backgrounds.  But we are united by the wind and the red dirt carried upon it.

It’s good to explore Oklahoma!

Knocking on the Locked Door of Brett Favre’s Mind

by Mark “The Howard” Hinderliter

*Disclaimer: All facts reported in this article may only be facts to me and could have nothing at all to do with actual history.

Malleus of Thor

First off, let me just put it out there – I’m a Vikings fan. How that happens to an Oklahoma boy I have no idea….I blame Sheb Woolley but that’s a story for another day.  I’ve carried the Malleus of Thor since the days of The Purple People Eaters, Fran the Man, the Spin Doctor, Bud, Carl, Alan, Jim, Krause and the finest (and maybe the last) straight-on place kicker, Fred Cox — reportedly also the holder of the patent for the Nerf Football.  Cool!

I’ve endured four Super Bowl losses.  Not in four consecutive years mind you (ouch…sorry Bills Fans), but four all the same.  And they’ve been so close since those tough, early NFL Super losses.  Who can forget Randall Cunningham and the highest scoring offense in history? Does that record still hold??  They lost in the NFC Title Game.

And then there was last year.  It was our year!

The man Vikings defenses loved to torment…who had some of his worst games in the Metrodome while wearing green, was pulling the trigger for the Vikes, handing the ball to AD, tossing the lob to Shiancoe.  He made the incredible Favre throws.  And, some incredible Favre Oh No’s.

Once again…so close.  But they couldn’t take care of the ball against the Saints.  And in the process a 40 year old ankle was – well – it had to hurt!  No, I’m not a disinterested, non-partisan party.  Which makes those of us outside the mind of Brett wonder what is going on inside the mind of Brett Favre?

While Packers fans and fans of the other thirty NFL teams snicker at the “Continuing Drama of Brett,” Ragnar and the Purple Norsemen are ready to fall on their axes.  Are we to be left once again in the less than capable hands of Tarvaris Jackson?  Sage Rosenfels?  We may as well go with rookie Joe Webb and take whatever blows the hammer of the gods inflict upon us!

Reportedly, BF has told some teammates he will not return for his 20th NFL season.  But haven’t we been down this road before?  Nineteen seasons played and what, twelve training camps?  Isn’t this is a dodge we’ve seen before…like last year?

But what if…?  What if the ankle really hasn’t healed?  Could Brett be sincere in claiming he will not return?  SI contributor Peter King thinks Favre may hold out until after the Vikes by-week during “week five.”  Others suspect he’ll be in the Land O’Lakes as soon as training camp is over.

You know the commercials where Brett just can’t decide what tv to buy?  They’re not funny anymore.  Not if you wear purple.

Three things about Favre; two easy to verify and one that is hearsay:

  1. Brett is a fierce competitor,
  2. Brett has trouble making up his mind, and
  3. (weird) Brett is non-confrontational (huh?).

Could Brett be afraid to disappoint?  Say it ain’t so!  This is football!  Football is all about confrontation in the most violent ways men can figure while on two feet and without weapons.  So suck it up Nancy!  Get on the field, go for the ring.  And let us know what’s going on.

Football is no place for drama; it’s a place for action!

Day 32: “Well Done!” Day vs. “Congratulations!” (aka Oxford v OSU)

I was thinking this morning about translation.  If I have to spend this much energy translating American English to Britain English, what must international students be doing?  I say this because yesterday was the “big day” for many Oxford students; the day of graduation exercises.  For the most part, emotions expressed by the graduates and their families were the same as I witness at OSU every Spring and fall.  The words and the traditions with which they express those emotions, however, are slightly different.

For example, the academic regalia throughout all the colleges here is stepped up considerably.  There are strict regulations about what you wear underneath your gown, as well as what you wear on top of your regular  clothes (which are regulated by the previous regulations, on a regular basis).  This girl has done a nice job at following the required standards – dark skirt, white blouse, and her BA robe trimmed in white rabbit fur.

I won’t make this entire essay a comparative piece, but I will say that the variety of what our students at Oklahoma State University (OSU) wear under their robes covers a broader range of selections.  I know this because our students usually put their robe on right BEFORE graduation, and take it off right AFTER.  I’ve seen graduates traipsing around Oxford in theirs, now, for the last three days.

Family of the graduates in Oxford have to work a bit harder as well.  Because of the limited space for the grand halls used for commencement exercises, they have to order tickets for each person.  Oxford will “do its best to accommodate as many as possible on a first come, first served basis.”

Okay, this IS a comparative piece.  At OSU, our general attitude is, “Bring everyone!  It’s Gallagher-Iba Arena, for Pete’s sake! We hold several ceremonies just so everyone can attend..the more, the merrier!” (Was that too many exclamation points?!)

Many of the ceremonies at Oxford are conducted in Latin.  At OSU, we speak Cowboy.

In Oxford, the graduate celebrations and receptions include a full table of chilled champagne.  OSU is an alcohol-free campus.

And, in Oklahoma we usually greet a graduate with a hearty, “Congratulations!”  Here, the standard greeting is, “Well done!”

At OSU, the atmosphere inside Gallagher-Iba tends to be celebratory, and sometimes quite loud (drums and bagpipes, air horns, large group yells as a family hears their student’s name).  At Oxford, most of the ceremony is really very quiet.  Here is a video of the matriculation (entering the university for the first semester) ceremony.  You can see how quiet the proceedings are.

Matriculation at Oxford – running time, 1 minute, 29 seconds

And here is a 30 second video of part of the Latin graduation ceremony, illustrating the bowing in respect to the faculty tradition…(fondly referenced among the students as the “Sheldonian Wave,” – Sheldonian Hall being the place where the ceremony is held).

The Sheldonian Wave

I don’t have to tell any of my Okie friends how something like the Sheldonian Wave might be viewed by the student body at OSU.  I think you know.

We may simply not have the patience for this kind of pomp and circumstance in the U.S.  Certainly not in Oklahoma.  I recently served as a “name reader” during our commencement ceremony and the key concept was, “Keep them moving along.  Read loudly, articulate each syllable, and as quickly as is comfortable for you.”  One of my friends said in jest after the ceremony that “it’s sort of like listening to six game show hosts read a thousand names, where everybody won.”

The faster paced process in Oklahoma, however, has it’s advantages.  For example, here is an excerpt from Oxford’s policy on sending students their diplomas:

“Your award certificate will be sent to your home address (as recorded on the university’s student information system) within 4 months of the date that the award was conferred (ie the examination committee date).”

And…here is OSU’s:

“Diplomas are available to students approximately 6 weeks after their graduation date.”

Yeah, buddy!  I’ve also learned that students here received their grades for a regular examination approximately six weeks after they take it, due to the exams being sent through three reviewers.  The professors here exasperate over how wonderful it would be to teach in the U.S….for very reasons such as this.

So what is the same?  The sense of family.  The sense of accomplishment.  The look of pride on a parent’s face and the beaming jubilation that a goal was achieved on the part of the student.

Regardless of American English OR British English…or, I would venture to write, any language found, the emotions associated with graduation are by and large exactly the same around the world.

So…if you’ve ever experienced graduation as a student or a family member, and are asked some day if you speak another language, just tell ’em: “Yeah.  I speak Graduation.”  It will be true.

Above, a picture of a proud “mum” walking by her graduate son in case you have any doubt left.  You can’t tell it by looking, but she’s pointing out to the family of another graduate that, “…this was where my son lived for four years.  We’re here to celebrate his graduation!”  By the look on the son’s face, I think he’s just fine with that little bit ‘o mama pride.

I walked by them to my dorm room, ducked under a few cameras taking pictures, looked at the proud mama and whispered, “Well done!”

She beamed.

One more thing…You know OSU wins, right?  If I’m writing, OSU ALWAYS wins.  I wouldn’t trade the OSU Alma Mater, singing “Oklahoma!” and cheering like crazy for our students for anything in the WORLD.  The WHOLE world.