Molarity Classic: 445-449

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Author: Michael Molinelli '82

While our heroes take a break backstage, the student body learns a valuable life lesson: There’s no better remedy for lofty aspirations than micromanagement.

445. In July 1981 a pair of suspended walkways at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Kansas City collapsed, killing 114 people and injuring another 216. Somehow the administration at Notre Dame, who did not like student-built lofts in the residence halls, thought they could use this terrible incident to justify rule changes. The changes might have been rational for all sorts of reasons, but by using the Kansas City incident as a pretext, the decision appeared ludicrous. I have since learned that authorities often feel justified in lying for ostensibly paternalistic reasons in order to get people to “do the right thing.” This is one way Notre Dame prepared me for the real world.

446. James Roemer’s Notre Dame obituary made reference to his depiction in student cartoons “as a steel-helmeted military autocrat.” I believe that was a reference to the character of Dean Rover, a bulldog in the Observer strip Noddy, which appeared with Molarity as we vied for space during my freshman year. I never drew Dean Roemer with a steel helmet. I held no animus toward him. I was just mocking the silly ways he had to enforce policy. Still, getting mentioned in the obituary of a good man is a win for cartoonists everywhere.

447. The Board of Trustees announced the elevation of Father Theodore Hesburgh to University chancellor with the idea of installing a new person as president. This was meant to allow Father Ted to continue his role as the outward face of Notre Dame but relieve him of running the University on a day to day basis. I must have had a lot of extra time on my hands early in the semester as I included a caricature of then-Provost Tim O’Meara in the cartoon.

448. At the time, there was a famous TV commercial for ChapStick that featured Olympic skier Suzy Chaffee calling herself Suzy Chapstick as she endorsed the lip-balm product. With the first game of the football season and Gerry Faust’s debut against LSU still a week away, The Observer was following the quarterback derby between Tim Koegel ’82, Jim O’Hara ’83, Ken Karcher, Blair Kiel ’84 and Scott Grooms ’84.

449. This cartoon features a light caricature of Observer editor Tom Jackman ’82, now a veteran newsman at The Washington Post, who got a few letters complaining about movies at the engineering auditorium. I felt that if you went to an R-rated movie you should not be surprised by its contents. I also think that comedy about risqué subjects does not endorse the things it mocks.


See the first five classic strips. Buy the book with all 581 original cartoons: MOLARITY: The Compleat Molarity is available at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore and Amazon.com. Check back monthly for more classic Molarity strips. Molarity Redux, the updated, continuing adventures of Jim Mole and friends, also is posted monthly. For those new strips, check out the cartoon archives.


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