Sunday, August 4, 2013

Litpalooza in Luteland, Year 2

Greetings from Parkland, WA  and the campus of Pacific Lutheran University, home of the Rainier Writing Workshop, PLU's answer to the explosion of low-residency MFA programs springing up around the country. If you want to know what goes on during this 10-day total immersion in the literary arts, start with the Litpalooza posts from 2012. Not that the characteristics of the RWW program don't bear repeating, but I have other things on my mind right now. 


PLU is where they live. That's right. Rhymes with boots, shoots, toots, snoots, and yours truly the Old Coot. Why a venerable institution of higher education would want to use an obsolete medieval stringed instrument as their mascot is indeed mysterious, and, as you all know, is the type of oddity that, here in LImboland, generally warrants further investigation. One might assume that "Lute" is simply an abbreviation for "Lutheran", or perhaps for old Martin Luther himself. I think that's a stretch. I've never heard any Lutherans refer to themselves as "Lutes", though I did hear an interesting conversation on campus today...

 A "GO" team from the neighboring College of the Puget Sound was here for a tournament along with "GO" players from around the world, (another oddity that warrants further investigation in another Litpalooza installment). I saw several young fellas gathered around a game board with the familiar black and white "GO" game pieces. Curious, I sidled up for a little eavesdropping..

CPS player: Hey, stringface, it's your move!
Lute: Hey, not so fast there Puget lips. 
CPS player: You're the Lute, dumbass. 

...and so on. This led me to believe that the Lutes of PLU are perceived to be about as relevant as obsolete medieval strings instruments. But it's not as obvious as it might be. I couldn't find one T-shirt, hoodie, seatpad, coffee mug, trucker's cap, warmup outfit or any other Lute logo merchandise with a picture or even an artsy illustration of an obsolete medieval stringed instrument. OR a mason's trowel (a little known definition of "lute"). 

On second thought, maybe Martin Luther's nickname was Lute. Or perhaps Lute-Daddy. Or the Big Lute? Super Lute? Lutey Booty? I guess further investigation is still warranted, or perhaps I should bring it up during our writing workshop? Get the opinions of my fellow students, who as far as I can tell have nothing but the deepest, most profound respect for limping old man with the beads of sweat dripping down his forehead from the waves of silver grain atop his head.  I get the impression that my colleagues would find it perfectly normal for the Old Coot to ask about the Lutes. As long as they don't think I've got Lutey Cooties. 

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