The magic of Btown

If you noticed a little less banter here these last several days, you can blame Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and the wonderful world of Disney, which is where I recently spent my kids’ fall break and, sadly, a good chunk of their college savings. Not that I should be complaining about a week in sunny Florida, but, admittedly, it was quite nice to return to the magic that is Btown and IU in autumn, when the leaves change colors, classes are in full swing, students are debating presidential politics (and their Halloween costumes) and the basketball-minded among us are basking in No. 1 rankings and championship dreams.

Yes, this is a spectacular time at IU Bloomington. So I hope you won’t mind if I share just a few of the sights, sounds and special activities that have me glad to be back home in Indiana.

Homecoming highlights: While we’re on the subject of coming home, was there any question that this year’s Homecoming at IU Bloomington was one of the most fun and spirited yet?

Fall foliage: Simply brilliant. And almost impossible to describe with just one image. Nevertheless, IU Communications leader Mark Land gives it a shot on his “Indiana, Our Indiana” Pinterest board.

IU Bloomington’s brilliant fall colors are now on display. Photo by Mark Land, IU Communications.

Embracing nature: For a wider span of Indiana’s rolling and forested hills, check out “Barry Gealt: Embracing Nature” at the IU Art Museum. The exhibit, captured nicely on IU Bloomington’s research blog, represents nearly three decades of work by Gealt, professor emeritus of fine arts at IU Bloomington.

Halloween, IU style: As the father of two small children, I can tell you that few events are more anticipated by parents and kids, alike, than IU Bloomington’s annual Safe Halloween, involving all of IU’s Greek organizations, and the Haunted Hall of Hoops, when legendary Assembly Hall, home of the Hoosiers, haunts more than just opposing teams.

Big science weekend: Another great series of activities for kids? The ever-popular science open houses, hosted by IU Bloomington’s chemistry, physics and astronomy departments, featuring magic shows, glassblowing, optical illusions and other crowd-pleasing scientific demonstrations and experiments.

Sylvia Plath and the October poems: “I am a genius of a writer; I have it in me. I am writing the best poems of my life … they will make my name.” Sylvia Plath wrote those words to her mother in October 1962, just months before her death. Fifty years later, and beginning today, Oct. 24, scholars, poets and artists are gathering at IU Bloomington to celebrate Plath’s “Ariel” collection and its landmark October poems, now considered some of the most important poems of the 20th century.

Bill Maher, in real time: Whether you love or hate him, bleed Republican red or Democrat blue, or consider yourself PC or un-PC, there’s no denying Bill Maher’s place as one of America’s most comical and controversial political commentators. And he’s here, in Bloomington, in real time this Sunday, Oct. 28.

Town hall meeting: Before Maher gets here, though, Bloomington residents will have the opportunity to share their own political perspectives when WTHR Channel 13 Eyewitness News comes to campus as part of its Decision 2012 On the Road project. The community conversation starts at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 in Ernie Pyle Hall Auditorium, following live news broadcasts from the Indiana Memorial Union from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

World’s Fare: If there were ever any doubt that IU Bloomington is truly an international campus, this year’s IU World’s Fare should put that to rest. The sixth annual event will feature more than 20 international student groups proudly showcasing their countries with an array of cultural displays, great international food and fun artistic performances.

Hoosier Hysteria: Just watch and get ready for the hysteria to begin.

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