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Corn Flakes: Have You Read Willa Cather?

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Author Willa Cather

Today's bit was originally going to be about what bathroom the new Nebraska license plate Sower would use after having wild sex with Donald Trump, but I decided to spare all of you from that despite the billions upon billions of web hits it would bestow upon CornNation, perhaps even allowing me to retire to a life of leisure on my own island.

Instead, we're going with something completely different in an attempt to make you more aware of going on's at your university.

Did you see this?

Willa Cather's nephew leaves $5.8M to UNL | UNL Today | University of Nebraska–Lincoln

The nephew of renowned author Willa Cather has bequeathed $5.8 million to support leading Cather initiatives at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Holy cow. That's a chunk of change!

I was going through the news release looking at all the "Cather initiatives" and it occurs to me that beyond knowing that Willa Cather was a "Nebraska author", I have very little knowledge of her. When I asked the CN staff about her, I got this from Andy Ketterson:

Former motorcycle gang member and Olympic decathlete from Nebraska who wrote an award-winning series of teen novels about a boy who gained the powers of an iguana after a freak lab accident and went on a series of adventures by stowing away in Greyhound luggage holds. Good stuff.

I did some searching and it turns out that they're contemplating making a movie from one of her books where Iguana Boy goes on a mission to rescue a poor illiterate prairie boy (played by Matt Damon, of course) from a secret group of Mari Sandoz operatives whose goal is to wipe every human from the plains of Nebraska and give the land back to big bluestem.

These are lies, of course, but maybe you should just look up Willa Cather if you don't know who she is.

I have never read her books. I'm guessing that a fair number of you were required to do so in high school and I'm guessing you didn't like them. You probably thought they were boring.

I thought I'd check our local library (Chaska, Minnesota) after I saw the news about the donation, and they did have an electronic copy of "My Antonia", so I quickly borrowed it and started reading.

Our library has thousands of ebooks available through 3M's Cloud Library. I have the Cloud Library on my iPhone, so I always have books with me wherever I go. It's very handy, say, when you're laying in an ER bed with the machines that go "ping" strapped to you and waiting for hours for doctors to determine your fate. 3M's Cloud Library is available all over the place (you can find locations at the link above, although there are none in Nebraska because... what, people don't read ebooks in Nebraska?) and it's easy to use.

My Antonia is not a behemoth of a book, so it should be a fairly quick read. It's about life on the prairie in Nebraska in a setting around, oh, let's say 1890. It's about a time when life was harder, but simpler.

I find the time period particularly interesting because of the huge amount of change humanity went through from, say, 1890-1930. In that 40-year span, Nebraska went from largely untamed to having municipally-provided electric power all over the place. Nebraska started playing college football. The motor vehicle came into widespread existence. The airplane was invented. A World War was fought that changed the future for everyone forever. (I can go further into this, but maybe later.)

Is Cather's work exciting stuff?

Probably not to most, but I'll tell you why I'm choosing to read it now.

It's a damned good alternative that's not my crapfest of a social media timeline where everyone wants to pretend they have a new perspective on what's going on in our current election cycle but 97% are just recycling the trash they find on whatever confirmation-biased site which with they are aligned.

You immediately feel a need to respond and the moment you think about your response, before you've even typed anything, you are down the rabbit hole and gone to the moment and everything around you. It's as if we are the sentient AI life form in a cheesy sci-fi movie that gets trapped into calculating PI just as we're about to take over the world, and there we are, stuck, forever, contributing nothing of value, contemplating endless PI.

If you want to break this cycle of dung creation perhaps you should go read yourself some Willa Cather.

A line about Nebraska near the beginning of My Antonia:

"There was nothing but land; not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made."

She describes the plains, which sound pretty wild and at the same time desolate. You can close your eyes and see them if you try. I'm okay with this. I've enjoyed the first third of My Antonia, and then I'll probably pick up One of Ours, which is a whole whoppin' 99 cents on the Kindle. At 206 pages, it's not a behemoth either, which means I'll have to find other reasons to stay off social media. Maybe I'll go back and borrow Under A Wide And Starry Sky by Nancy Horan, which at close to 500 pages ought to last a while longer than Cather's books.

Fans Remember Prince at Paisley Park Jon Johnston

I went to Paisley Park Sunday. It was overwhelming. Still many, many people leaving memorials to Prince. I wasn't much of a Prince fan, honestly, but he was an incredible talent. Sad that he's gone.

Butler assistant makes questionable career move - Sports -

Lewis to leave Bulldogs for traditionless Nebraska

WOW! What a trolly headline, followed up by a slamming subhead. This article would barely load for me because their web site sucks.

Expansion would improve Big 12's playoff chances by 10-15 percent -

Analytics from Navigate Research are expected to show the Big 12 has at least a 10-15 percent better chance of reaching the CFP in any given year if it expands as opposed to staying in its 10-team configuration.

Next week a consulting firm that can prove there is a 20 percent better chance of making the playoff will be calling someone at the Big 12 to take their easy money.

Big 12 examining expansion but missing the point |

The target date for answers is 2023. That’s when the six-year deal the Big Ten just forged with Fox will reach its conclusion. That the deal is so short compared to the deals the other leagues struck around the end of the previous decade and the early part of this one is no accident.

Excellent stuff from Andy Staples.

The Big 12 is reportedly just one school away from deciding to expand - Vanquish The Foe

Apparently, only one school needs to change its mind to bring about the Big 12's move back to 12. Here's what we know about who is trying to change their mind.

Texas A&M lost another 5-star, but a coach's response caused even more major damage -

Chiefs rookie minicamp invite is called toughest player in college football, and here's why - Arrowhead Pride

See why they call him that here.


Guns, Germs, and Lil' Red: A Brief History of Humanity's Most Recent Scourge - Off Tackle Empire

Lil' Red is terrible. Where did he come from? And more importantly, how can we get rid of him?

B1G 2016 // The Nebraska Cornhuskers traditions piece featuring Corn Nation - Off Tackle Empire

I sure wasn't going to get the traditions piece put together, but the Corn Nation team had no problem getting their ideas together. A special look at what makes Nebraska more traditional.

Sources: Ohio State Quarterback Stephen Collier Has Torn ACL, Out For 2016 Season | Eleven Warriors

Stephen Collier suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and is out for the 2016 football season, sources told Eleven Warriors. He had surgery Wednesday morning and is expected to make a full recovery.

College Football Girlfriends Are Now Getting Instagram Endorsements | The Big Lead

Now earning more than every CFB player combined.

Then There's This:

School sacks nation's last tackle powder-puff football game

After 50 years of spirited competition between seniors and juniors, Jupiter High's principal has canceled the annual event, saying he doesn't believe helmets and shoulder pads borrowed from boys' teams adequately protect the girls who get crunched in the game.