Mike McGregor Shines on Stage, Sext with Caution, Jenkins at IU, Convergence Culture Brown Bag

Mike McGregor is a Stage Star

Professor Mike McGregor is known for his in-class humor. Outside of the classroom, he is also a performer.  And it’s been that way for a long time.  His first “performance” was in first grade, when he put on a revue for his parents in his basement with a boy from next door.  He got his first role in an 8th grade Christmas play and went on to perform in 10 musicals over the course of 4 years while in high school at Evansville North.

After spending time in Glee Club as an undergrad, it was in law school at Georgetown University that Mike came into something really special.  He began performing with the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society, offering “the only musical theatre group with its own law school.”  While there, Mike performed in six G&S shows and met the group that would later become the Music Lobby.  Defined as a small repertory company, the Music Lobby consisted of five young Washington D.C. lawyers, one self-employed editor/writer, and one systems analyst.  The Music Lobby performed anything for anyone.  Their repertoire included Broadway revues, full-length plays, Gilbert & Sullivan features, and productions of their own creation.  “We did lots of parody.  We changed classics like the Chorus Line to the Jurist Line and made it a play about lawyers looking for jobs.”  The Music Lobby was a busy group, performing everywhere from conventions to private parties.

One of Mike’s best memories from his time with the Music Lobby was an invitation by then Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger to perform at Supreme Court’s annual banquet.  Further notoriety came when the Music Lobby was featured in an April 1979 article in the Washington Star, where Mike was described as a, “blond John Travolta” for his rendition of “Summer Nights” from the musical “Grease.”

After leaving Washington D.C. in 1983, Mike got involved with local theater groups, including Bloomington Music Works and the Cardinal Stage.  One of Mike’s favorite roles came in 1990 as Thomas Jefferson in the Spring Mill Theater’s rendition of “1776.”  He received rave reviews, as the perfect Jefferson with a strong voice.  Mike was also doublecast as Richard Henry Lee in that feature, and opened the show with a major singing performance.

When asked whether or not performing helps his teaching career, Mike laughs, “It definitely makes teaching easier.  Being a performer doesn’t hurt.  If I really need to get someone’s attention in class, I’ll break into a song every now and then.”  Now that stage days of his younger years are behind him, Mike is spending more time reading lines and learning music than he used to.  One thing that hasn’t changed is his love for the stage.  When asked if he ever gets stage fright, Mike explains, “Stage fright?  No.  I have stage love!”  Check out Mike’s 1980 performance with the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society as the Pirate King in “Pirates of Penzance” in the clip below.  And yes, he is the tall man belting his lungs out.

Sext With Caution: Matt Kobach’s Modern Guide to Fun, Happiness, and Self-Improvement

The first piece of advice offered by PhD student Matt Kobach on living a full and happy life: “if you are going to sext, always make sure that you sext with caution.”  From this post on his blog arises the its delightfully risqué title “Sext with Caution: A Modern Guide to Fun, Happiness, and Self-Improvement for a Twitter Attention Span.”

Sext with Caution is a modern day self-help blog for a generation operating in a world of information surplus. In 30 words or less Kobach provides readers with tips and tricks on living a happy life. The topics range from family and friends to more controversial subjects like sex and drinking. Regardless of topic an overwhelming positivity runs throughout the blog. Kobach encourages fun in moderation, occasional risk-taking, hard work and determination, and a constant awareness of the needs of others.

The project started over the summer. Not wanting the summer to get away from him, as it usually does for grad students, Kobach wanted to do something meaningful to better himself. After reading a number of self-help books he started keeping a journal, writing down his thoughts about being a better person in brief snippets. Positive feedback from his friends encouraged him to make those entries public and the blog format was born.

For Kobach, the format of the blog, as well as the blog’s underlying architecture acts as the perfect tool for conveying his message. Kobach’s views the world through the lens of evolutionary psychology. We are hardwired to respond to sexual stimuli, thus the title “Sext with Caution. “ In fact the blog’s initial title was “Eat more Waffles,” but Kobach figured that interest would be greater if it had a racier title.  In addition each post is presented with a picture, a response to the human desire for visual information even when the picture may only have a vague connection with the contents. The 30 word limit imposed on all posts results from the brains limited capacity to remember words in order.  As a result, Sext with Caution is easy to read, pleasing to look at, and exceedingly quotable.

The project screams for bumper stickers and a coffee table book.  Kobach has even partnered with a friend in the MBA program to help with marketing. While those plans are still down the road, Kobach does plan on revealing his remaining 756 posts over the next year.

Although full of useful tips and tricks, Kobach doesn’t want to give the impression that he has accomplished all that he has posted. In many cases, his posts serve as a goal, rather than an achievement.  Regardless, Sext with Caution is a fun read full of insights and thought provoking statements. Like all proverbs, some stick more than others, but with so many options, readers are bound to found a few that hit close to home.

You  can check out the blog here.

Henry Jenkins at IU

On Friday the Department of Telecommunications, in concert with Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, Digital@IU, Sawyer Seminar on Social Sciences, Department of Communication & Culture and School of Education’s Learning Sciences Program, hosted Henry Jenkins. Jenkins, renowned for his work on fan cultures and media theory, delivered a talk to a packed house at the Optometry building previewing his new book Spreadable Media. The 75 minute talk covered topics such as civic engagement arising from interest in popular media franchises like Harry Potter, the complications arising from the value systems constructed by consumers when they share media, and the importance of the consumer when it comes to circulating media content.   The talk was followed by a reception at FARMBloomington which also marked the launch of the Digital@IU initiative.

Brown Bag

This week’s brown bag was a special treat, featuring Professors Henry Jenkins and Mimi Ito.  Attracting students, faculty, and staff from over six departments and schools on campus, Henry and Mimi talked about the trajectories of their stellar careers and also how they intersected and resulted in collaborative projects.  Henry, widely known for his research and writing on fandoms and convergence culture, explained his fascination with people’s engagement with media and pop culture and implications it holds for media production, policy, and education.

Mimi, a cultural anthropologist interested in the use of media technology, offered some words of advice for future academics. She emphasized the importance of building quality relationships with individuals with shared values and interests, especially when one decides to cut an unconventional career path that values freedom over security.  Furthermore, one must go beyond reinforcement of current networks to engage across networks.  This is where the greatest opportunities for collaboration lie.

For more information about Henry, you can visit his website here and Mimi’s website here.


Nicky Lewis:  Mike McGregor is a Stage Star, Brown Bag

Mike Lang: Sext with Caution, Jenkins at IU