‘Speed-Faithing’ at Dominican … Professorial Trivia … MacArthur Competitors … Lampooning Again

SPEEDY SPIRITUALITY: Forget speed-dating, that 20th-century hook-up relic. Dominican University, outside Chicago, is pioneering the practice of “speed faithing,” a meet-up opportunity for students who want answers to deeper questions than “What’s your sign?” and “What’s your major?” As part of a yearlong partner­ship with the Interfaith Youth Core, a national organization promoting ecumenism on college campuses, Dominican staged its first speed-faithing event last fall. Students, faculty members, and staff members from a varietyof faiths sat down with strangersfor five-minute conversations about their religious beliefs. This Valentine’s Day, the university is reprising the event for students only. “Being a Catholic institution, we’re already gearing up for future weddings, babies—lots of babies—and christenings,” says Jessica Mackinnon, a spokes­woman for the university.

A PROFESSOR’S PLUNGE: Eric Pierson (left), an associate professor of communication studies at the University of San Diego, took a shot at winning $1-million on the January 30 episode of the television game show Who’s Still Standing? Contestants vie to be the last person to correctly answer a set of trivia questions. A wrong answer triggers a trap door, dropping the losing contestant through the stage floor. The show’s stylists had outfitted Mr. Pierson in stereo­typical professorial garb: bright shirt, red neckerchief, blazer with elbow patches, and a classy beret. He nailed eight correct answers before dropping eight feet into a pile of foam on the question “What stand-up comic voiced Remy the rat chef in Ratatouille?” Mr. Pierson’s game-show luck has been better: He won more than $15,000 in a five-day run in 1987 on High Rollers, with the host Wink Martin­dale. Mr. Pierson and his wife, Shirley—newlyweds at the time—used the money for a down payment on a house. And the voice of the rat? That would be Patton Oswalt.

GENIUSES AND CADETS: Each fall the MacArthur Foundation announces, with great fanfare, the winners of its $500,000, no-strings-attached grants for “exceptional creativity.” Chronicle editors did a double take this month when an “unclassified” memo announcing the winners of another MacArthur Awards program arrived by e-mail. The General Douglas Mac­Arthur Foundation and the U.S. Army Cadet Command named the top Army ROTC programs for each of the nation’s eight brigades. The winning programs were the Citadel, Northeastern University, Iowa State University, the University of Maryland at College Park, the University of Utah, the University of Mississippi, the University of Notre Dame, and Santa Clara University. The awards recognize General Mac­Arthur’s ideals of duty, honor, and country. Unlike the “genius grant” MacArthurs, these carry no cash.

APPETITE FOR PARODY: Forty years elapsed between the Harvard Lampoon’s Bored of the Rings and its 2009 novel Nightlight, a spoof of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight vampire-romance series. The undergrad parody-novel business must be lucrative. Last week, the Harvard humor club released The Hunger Pains, a sendup of Suzanne Collins’s dystopian story of teens who are forced to fight to the death in a grim reality-television show staged by the government. In the spoof, Kantkiss Neverclean must outwit her opponents if she hopes to make it back to her family in the telemarketing district’s worst neighborhood, the Crack. The Hunger Pains is not high art, but we know a 12-year-old who loved it.

—Don Troop

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