Sunday, June 16, 2019

Son of Jersey, Scholar of Syracuse



My dad, Frank E Funk, was born in Jersey City and raised in New Jersey, the only son in a family with four daughters. A high school graduate, he initially did't go to college, in part because he knew that war was coming:
I'd gotten out of high school in 1940, and you could tell the war was coming. You know, the march into Poland and all kinds of things. And Britain was in it early and so on. So I was saving money to go to college. Nobody else in my family had gone to college. I have four sisters.
So I didn't go to college. I went to work for a valves company and did all kinds of other things. Eventually, after Pearl Harbor, all young men wanted to get into the service, and most of us wanted to be a hot pilot. I went to get a physical and was rejected because of a deviated septum. I went and got it operated on and went back the same day. And I remember the doctor looked at me and pulled the cotton out and said, "I can't even see, but I can tell you've had an operation done on your nose. Accepted." And then you went to basic training, Atlantic City, then to a classification center in Nashville, where you had all kinds of tests. Then you'd go to the bulletin board, and if your name was on it in the right way, you'd go to an officer's school. If it wasn't you'd go to a gunnery school and be a noncom, or an enlisted man, a gunner. I evidently made it to navigation school at Monroe, Louisiana, and the government spent about $87,000 on each of us and taught us to navigate by the stars, celestial navigation, and then they sent us to Europe. And my sextant to do the star sighting was in a polished wooden box at the corner of my muddy tent in Italy. But if they needed to, they could have sent me the Pacific, you see. So that's the way it was.
He first came to Syracuse, NY in March 1943 as part of his training as a navigator for the Army Air Force. He didn't actually get to Europe until 1944, where he flew seven missions before bailing out of a (probably) sabotaged plane and ending up in Stalag Luft 1. When the prison camp was liberated, he was evacuated to France, where he met General Eisenhower:
Yeah, we were in Marseilles, on a chow line, ready to be shipped out. And usually, by boat, which gave them a chance to fatten us up on the way over to the States. Anyway, the story goes like this. We noticed this commotion, and here comes Ike Eisenhower and a whole retinue of people with him. And he stopped and it sounds like I'm making this up, but I swear, I'm not. He stopped the guy next to me and he said, 
"Where are you from, son?"  
And the guy said, "Kansas, sir."  
"Oh, the hell you are. You know, I'm from Kansas too," and they both laughed. And he says, "Got a question to ask you," says Ike. "Would you rather go home quickly, or in style?"  
And this kid, without missing a beat, said, "Both, sir." And he laughed and moved on. And that's a wonderful memory of a world renowned figure and humanizing. And he was that way with the troops, and it was genuine. You know, it wasn't phony. "Oh, the hell you are. I'm from Kansas." You know, it was like-- it made him very human and special.

Eventually, Frank made it back to the States, and went to college on the G.I. Bill:

When I first got in the service, as so many men were going in soon after Pearl Harbor that the classification center was jammed. So what they did was to send you to a campus in a college training detachment, and I went to Syracuse University. And so, I wanted to go, I knew it, and it was a beautiful city, and I wanted to go back to it, and I did. And eventually, you know, got my undergraduate degree there, on the GI bill. Went to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania as an instructor, working on a master's. Finished my master's, went to Purdue University to get my doctorate in 1955.

He returned to Syracuse University in 1956, this time as Assistant (later Associate) Professor of Speech. I was born the following year. What I remember of his professorial days was my Mom driving me down to the University on the day JFK was shot, and leaving me sitting in a classroom at the Hall of Languages, drawing headstones.

In 1965, Frank became Assistant Dean at S.U.'s University College. About five years after that, he succeeded Cliff Winters as dean of U.C. He finished his 32-year career at Syracuse as Dean of University College and Director of Continuing Education.

In 1988 he retired and moved to Wilmington NC, where he quickly got involved in the community there, at the local NPR station, the Wilmington Railroad Museum and at First Presbyterian Church. He spent the last few years of his life in memory care here in Tucson.

This funny medieval-style outfit is from a Commencement in the 1970s. Is that Melvin Eggers next to him? Eggers was Chancellor at Syracuse for most of my Dad’s time there.

On this Father’s Day, I’m thinking of my dad, and wondering why I don’t have the same painful reaction to that holiday as I have to Mother’s Day. Perhaps it’s because my dad had a long, good life, my mom, not so much. In any case, this year I've been thinking about all these connections between Dad and Syracuse, NY, and with Syracuse University in particular. Although I moved away from Syracuse in 1979, the choices my Dad made all those years ago still echo through my own life.

Happy Father’s Day to all who celebrate it, whether or not your father is still around.

Karen

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Revival

Time to get this thing going again. I don't know whether anyone will see it, and I don't promise to have all-new material. But this is a good place for thoughts that are a bit longer than a tweet. Here goes.

On May 19th, 2019, John and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Over the years, we had celebrated that date several times with trips, including a Las Vegas trip in 2004 for our 25th, when digital photos were stored on floppies and my first blog was still a new thing. Here is a photo from that occasion, when the Las Vegas Hilton still hosted Star Trek: The Experience:


We also went to Disneyland twice on our anniversary, in 2012...


and in 2013, when Cars Land was new at DCA:


I don't think we had done anything much since then. For our 40th, though, I wanted to do something, and John suggested Monument Valley. Monument Valley! I've wanted to see that place with my own eyes since at least 1986, if not long before that, when I still lived Back East. We thought about stopping by on our way back from my dad's funeral in Wilmington NC nearly four years ago, but time and distances would not permit. I was also desperate to go see Doctor Who episodes being filmed in Arizona and Utah during the Eleventh Doctor era, but that didn't pan out, either. 2019 would be different.

John left the arrangements to me. I booked us into a hotel in Sedona, which was sort of on the way up. On the Friday before our anniversary, we drove to Sedona, arriving after dark. In the morning we saw this (click to see it bigger):


Then we went on to the Monument Valley Tribal Park in Utah, arriving in time for our 5 PM "sunset" tour.


We got back well before sunset, which turned out to be good news. We got to see this from the edge of the parking lot.




The next day, we went through Bear's Ears National Monument and Natural Bridges National Monument. The latter is where I saw this:


There was more to this trip, but you get the idea. In short: it was great. John had a great time, too, which hardly ever happens. Because of this, we plan to start doing day trips once a month, and I've also been hacking around the mountains of Tucson, to the point of not working enough hours at one of my jobs this pay period. Oops! So I need to back off a little, but I'm definitely in picture-taking mode right now.

And in video-making mode. This is a little bit of a problem, because I'm putting a lot of effort into my videos, and hardly anyone visits my YouTube channel, ever. If you find this message-in-a-bottle blog post, I hope you'll help me rectify that. Here are my social media links:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Mavarin/

https://twitter.com/mavarin?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/mavarin

https://www.facebook.com/mavarininfo/ (page for my fiction)

https://www.instagram.com/mavarinkfb/

And some others I'm not currently using. There's a lot of overlap, but Instagram is hopeless with panoramic photos and longer videos, Twitter isn't good with essays, and so on. Facebook tends to have the majority of the content found elsewhere, but I realize some people refuse to use Facebook these days.

I hope you've found this revival of my old blog at least a little engaging. I'll try to do something a bit meatier and more original next time.

Karen

Sunday, October 28, 2018

One Book Out, One in Waiting; One in Revision, Two in the Wings

Beyond Tucson: Adventures in the Multiverse

Hi, remember me? Remember this blog? I't's been a long time. Let's get caught up, shall we?

In late September, 2017, I was offered a contract with MuseItUp Publishing for publication of my first fantasy trilogy, Heirs of Mâvarin. I signed the contract on October 2, 2017. There have been delays since then, but the first book in the trilogy, The Tengrem Sword, should be out in early 2019. Yay!

It won't be my first book publication, however. In early October, 2018, my writing group, Tucson Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, published its first anthology. Beyond Tucson: Adventures in the Multiverse is a truly collaborative effort. Edited by CA Morgan and myself and published under the Toughnut Press imprint, it features stories and poems by 14 of our members, along with artwork, a foreword and an afterward. I have two novelettes in it. "The Jace Letters" was previously published in my fiction blog and is newly revised. "The Boy Who Saw" is brand new, a prequel to The Tengrem Sword that takes place forty years earlier.

Here's the book trailer I made for the anthology:



Meanwhile, I've been slogging away at the second trilogy, Mages of Mâvarin. It's more ambitious than Heirs, and is potentially an even better story. But boy, it's a lot of work!

Once The Tengrem Sword comes out, I will probably be posting on these two blogs again (this and the fiction blog), at least occasionally. I'm much more active on Facebook, however. Follow my progress on my Facebook author page, and of course on Mavarin.com.

 Karen

Monday, March 12, 2018

An Imperfect Wrinkle

This is a reposting of a comment I wrote to John Scalzi's review of A Wrinkle in Time on Whatever
Billboard at Disney's California Adventure, Feb. 2018
On my birthday on Saturday, I sat in a darkened theater and tried to love director Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, while my close friend Kevin sat crying, quietly, beside me. It’s my favorite book, and I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be very faithful to the text. That’s okay, I told myself. The film Mary Poppins is not even moderately faithful to the books, and it’s a great movie. I wanted that for the film adaptation of Wrinkle: different, but great on its own terms.
I don’t feel that it quite got there.
The casting is mostly excellent (I would not have gone with that actor for Charles Wallace, but the other Murrys are great), the effects are terrific, and the addition of the “mean girl” subplot really works for me. I can cope with the loss of the twins, the gender change for the Happy Medium, and the complete reimagining of the Mrs Ws. Let’s just say it’s an alternate universe version of these people and events, and that’s okay. The visualization of IT is a big improvement over the brain-in-a-jar trope. And I liked that Meg is the one who drags them to Camazotz.
SPOILERS FOLLOW:
Outside the film's preview at DCA, February 2018
What doesn’t work for me is the complete deletion (X-ing, in A Wind in the Door parlance) of everything that ever got A Wrinkle in Time banned in book form. Nobody would ever mistake Oprah et al. for witches, or identify this Medium with a crystal ball-wielding fortune teller. Not one mention of Christianity or Jesus gets through, or even God in general, unless I missed something. That strikes me as missing a large chunk of the heart of the book, and perhaps a bit of cowardice on the part of the part of the filmmakers. Perhaps that’s a part of the story they don’t want to tell for personal philosophical reasons, but I notice that the same thing happened with the tv movie over a decade ago, with one of the same producers (Catherine Hand). I suppose different people get different things out of the same work, but this is a major thematic change.
In story terms, I think it was a mistake to skip the whole interlude on Aunt Beast’s planet. We lose much of Meg’s struggle to realize that her father isn’t perfect and can’t fix everything for her, and to throw off the negativity that invades her heart. It’s also impossible to see (at least for me, on one viewing), where Alex Murry and Calvin went, exactly, and when and how. Dr. Murry tried to tesser, but was Calvin even in the shot? Also, making Charles Wallace an adoptee lessens the power of this family producing a biological “sport” who is “different” and “new.” And making the suburban subdivision melt away as an illusion implies that there aren’t real people suffering the hell of authoritarianism
Still, there’s a lot to like here. I did come close to tears twice, and I will go see it again. You should probably go see it, too.

But I can’t help being a little disappointed.

K.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Frank Funk Vs. the Nazis

 A picture someone posted of Allies storming the beaches of Normandy tonight reminded me of my own dad's World War II experiences. He didn't talk about it much, but he spent time in a German POW camp, and saw the actual, historical Nazis close up.


(Any typos or mispelling are from the quoted source.)

Frank Funk: As a World War II combat vet, I decided I would go [to a class on World War II]. And what was interesting to me is that while I had experiences during World War II, but I had a narrow view of a war, because of my own experiences., flying out of Italy in a B17 bomber as a navigator. But Wilbur's course gave me more of a global sense of that total war, including the Pacific as well as European war and all that.

I flew out of Foggia, which is north of Naples, as I say, in a B17 bomber. After three missions, I think, our plane went down in Czechoslovakia. We were captured by the old guard and taken to prison.
They took us to an interrogation camp where they tried to squeeze what they can out of you. It was an interesting experience, because they understand, if you get isolated and nobody talks to you, then you can play the good cop, bad cop. Bad cop suggests you might leave feet first. And good cop says, "For you, da var is over. Ve is flyers together. Ve understand these things, und have a zigaretten." And I said, "No thank you." 

So an interrogation camp, and then to an officers' camp. See, under the Geneva Convention, officers were not supposed to have to work, whereas enlisted me had to be in work camps. And so I was in Stalag Luft I north, about 60 miles from Sweden, north of Berlin, for seven months I think, seven or eight month. We eventually were liberated by the Russians, believe it or not, and they were very unhappy with us, because our high command had decided that the would keep us locked in, because if they let us scurry around the countryside, people would get in trouble, easily. We were half starved, and if you overate, you could actually die from acute gastritis and stuff. 

Anyway, I'm coming up to my favorite World War II story. So we were finally, after drinking vodka with the Russian high command and radioing frantically to France, we were flown out from a nearby airport to Marseilles in France. So here we are, ex Krieg Gefangeners, was the German name. Krieg for war, war prisoners, on a chow line, watching German POWs go through the line with their trays piled high with food, and we'd eaten sawdust bread and scooped maggots of the top of stew and so on. So that was not a very good thing for us to see, but we had tried to understand. And there was a commotion at the end of the chow line. You could tell from retinue that somebody important was coming along. By gum, it was Ike Eisenhower.

Yeah, we were in Marseilles, on a chow line, ready to be shipped out. And usually, by boat, which gave them a chance to fatten us up on the way over to the States. Anyway, the story goes like this. We noticed this commotion, and here comes Ike Eisenhower and a whole retinue of people with him. And he stopped and it sounds like I'm making this up, but I swear, I'm not. He stopped the guy next to me and he said, "Where are you from, son?" 
And the guy said, "Kansas, sir." 

"Oh, the hell you are. You know, I'm from Kansas too," and they both laughed. And he says, "Got a question to ask you," says Ike. "Would you rather go home quickly, or in style?" 

And this kid, without missing a beat, said, "Both, sir." And he laughed and moved on. And that's a wonderful memory of a world renowned figure and humanizing. And he was that way with the troops, and it was genuine. You know, it wasn't phony. "Oh, the hell you are. I'm from Kansas." You know, it was like-- it made him very human and special. That's my World War II story.

We had a quick home visit and then went to a convalescent hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. And they had ex prisoners of war go there. They thought that we might have post traumatic stress syndrome. And so they gave us what is called truth serum, to have us talk about horrible things that happened and so on. Well I read recently, that don't assume that everybody has automatically post traumatic syndrome. I don't think I had a lot of it. I saw a guy get shot through the window, because we weren't supposed to be near the windows during an air raid. And somebody was drawing his picture and wanted him near the window for light. I saw a guy get shot because he went after a ball, and he thought the guard had nodded to say, yes you can get it, and the guard didn't. So, you know, and we were starving and all kinds of things. And we were shot at, as we went over targets and saw planes go down and so on. But anyway, then we talked earlier. We came back and got the GI Bill. I'd gotten out of high school in 1940, and you could tell the war was coming. You know, the march into Poland and all kinds of things. And Britain was in it early and so on. So I was saving money to go to college. Nobody else in my family had gone to college. I have four sisters.

So I didn't go to college. I went to work for a valves company and did all kinds of other things. Eventually, after Pearl Harbor, all young men wanted to get into the service, and most of us wanted to be a hot pilot [makes engine noise]. I went to get a physical and was rejected because of a deviated septum. I went and got it operated on and went back the same day. And I remember the doctor looked at me and pulled the cotton out and said, "I can't even see, but I can tell you've had an operation done on your nose. Accepted." And then you went to basic training, Atlantic City, then to a classification center in Nashville, where you had all kinds of tests. Then you'd go to the bulletin board, and if your name was on it in the right way, you'd go to an officer's school. If it wasn't you'd go to a gunnery school and be a noncom, or an enlisted man, a gunner. I evidently made it to navigation school at Monroe, Louisiana, and the government spent about $87,000 on each of us and taught us to navigate by the stars, celestial navigation, and then they sent us to Europe. And my sextant to do the star sighting was in a polished wooden box at the corner of my muddy tent in Italy. But if they needed to, they could have sent me the Pacific, you see. So that's the way it was.

After the war, I used-- yeah, I went back to Syracuse. Oh, I forgot. When I first got in the service, as so many men were going in soon after Pearl Harbor that the classification center was jammed. So what they did was to send you to a campus in a college training detachment, and I went to Syracuse University. And so, I wanted to go, I knew it, and it was a beautiful city, and I wanted to go back to it, and I did. And eventually, you know, got my undergraduate degree there, on the GI bill. Went to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania as an instructor, working on a master's. Finished my master's, went to Purdue University to get my doctorate in 1955.

End quote.

Yes, it was a different time, but the same Nazi regime that imprisoned my dad also killed millions of Jews, gays and others for the crime of merely existing. The Nazis of yesteryear are now being emulated by twenty-somethings and others who carried Nazi flags, torches and guns in Charlottesville last weekend. Anyone who marched and chanted with such people, some carrying Confederate battle flags, some not, is allying himself or herself with evil. Anyone who equates the counter-protesters (many of them clergy, many of them trying to help and protect others, very few of them violent in any way) with armed and violent neo-Nazis and their allies as "equally to blame" for what happened in Charlottesville is giving aid and comfort to the forces of hatred and oppression.

Karen

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Many Obituaries of Dr. Frank E. Funk

If you follow me on Facebook or attend my church, you probably already know that my dad, Dr. Frank E. Funk, died early Friday morning last week. The memorial service in Tucson is this Thursday at 12:30, and the funeral and interment of his ashes will be at First Presbyterian in Wilmington, NC, probably the following Tuesday. even though my dad planned ahead, prepaid his funeral arrangements and had things all organized, there is still a lot to do.

The final arrangements for my dad are an interstate web of communications. My stepsisters are in Vermont and in Phoenix. The cities where people would care that my dad died are Syracuse, Wilmington and (a little bit) Tucson. Tucson obituary ad rates are exorbitant. Even with everything remotely interesting about his life omitted, the Tucson ad will be over $500. The Wilmington one will be much longer, covering his military service, professional career and Wilmington volunteerism. I just sent a  very long, Syracuse-centric version to Syracuse University, where he worked for 32 years, much of it as Dean of University College. And of course, there's always the Internet: my Facebook page, the page of a group dedicated to the 463rd Bomb Group for which my dad was a WW II navigator, this blog, Find-a-Grave and probably my website.

I've lost track of how many versions of the obit my stepsisters and I have labored over these past few days. There were cuts to the Tucson one, to the point at which - oops! - I temporarily left out mention of my stepmother! There was a cut to the Wilmington one to deliberately omit my own mother, who was out of the picture by the time he and Ruth moved there. There were additions to the Wilmington one to mention more of his volunteer and board member work in Wilmington, and to omit all mention of my time with him after he moved to Tucson. And there was a weird hybrid version that I put on Ancestry.com last night, filling in details around the ages of family members at the time of his birth and other genealogical details.

Sometime in the next few days, I'll put together the definitive, kitchen sink tribute to Dad. Watch this space.

Karen

Friday, April 03, 2015

Another Moment at a Light - Good Friday Edition

The Scene: The corner of Carondelet and Wilmot, one light south of St. Michael's. I'm driving my elderly Kia. My friend Kevin is beside me. The light is red. Also stopped at the light is a pickup truck with two guys in the cab. Their passenger window is open, as is my window. The truck's passenger gestures to get my attention.

TRUCK PASSENGER: Got any weed?
KAREN: No. I just came from church, dude!
PASSENGER (laughs): How was church?
KAREN (not about to explain the intricacies of serving as acolyte at a High Church Episcopal Good Friday service): Good.
PASSENGER: Did you pray for me?
KAREN (not about to explain that the dude is bound to qualify under at least one of the petitions prayed during the service): I will.

When I got home, John was watching The Big Lebowski.

God bless the doper at the light!

Karen