February brought the second Notre Dame Queer Film Festival and the fourth performance of the _Vagina Monologues_ and plenty of talk about whether either event should take place at a Catholic university. Bishop John D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend wrote letters criticizing both. Among those writing to _The Observer,_ some complained that the events promoted behaviors in conflict with Church teaching. Others defended free expression and free academic inquiry. The atmosphere was especially heated when the _Monologues'_ author, Eve Ensler, who was attending the performances at Notre Dame for the first time, went to the South Dining Hall for a luncheon and was reportedly met by about 15 protesters. The _Monologues_ is an episodic play based on the experiences of women interviewed by Ensler. Some of their often- explicit recollections are harrowing, many are intended to be humorous. Benefit performances take place internationally around Valentine's Day as part of efforts to raise awareness of issues like genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women. The film festival screened films by gay and lesbian artists and included two panel discussions with writers and directors. . . . The producers of the upcoming movie version of_ The DaVinci Code_ have hired Father Richard McBrien, Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology, to consult on the script. Tom Hanks has been signed to play the lead character, who in the best-selling novel airs a number of provocative theories, including that Jesus was married to Mary Magdelane and His divinity was fabricated centuries after He lived. . . . Notre Dame men have had the Bengal Bouts for nearly 75 years. The women now have their own charity boxing tournament, the Baraka Bouts. The men's boxing tournament, begun in 1931, raises money for the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. The women's tournament debuted in fall 2004 by raising $7,172 for Holy Cross mission schools in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. "Baraka" is Swahili for blessing prosperity or opportunity. . . Is Rudy a turncoat? In an e-mailed newsletter last fall, Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger '76, now a motivational speaker, told of visiting with former President George H.W. Bush at Texas A&M last football season and being on the sidelines during the second half of the A&M home game against Colorado. He said he was asked if it was ever this loud at Notre Dame. Rudy said, "No, not like this. This is great." Rudy is in a business venture with Texas A&M. . . . Former long-time history professor Sam Shapiro, who gained notoriety by opposing U.S. policies toward Cuba, has died at the age of 77. He taught at Notre Dame from 1964 to 1992. . . . Freshman Dan Kish from Mishawaka died in January from complications during surgery to implant a heart pacemaker. The 19-year-old had received a heart transplant while in high school and was said to need another. His brother Jeff is a senior and his brother Tim graduated in 2004. . . . Senior Charlie Ebersol survived a November 28 crash of a chartered plane that took the life of his younger brother and seriously injured his father, NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol. The plane carrying the Ebersols crashed as it attempted to take off from an airport in Colorado. The plane's pilot and flight attendant were also killed. Charlie Ebersol suffered injuries to his back and a burn on his arm. . . . In late December, after the end of the semester, the pilot of a single-engine plane made a miraculous emergency landing on Indiana 933, the busy commercial road that separates Notre Dame from Saint Mary's. The plane, bound for White Plains, New York, was 10 minutes out of the South Bend when its engine failed. It was too far away to make it back to the airport. The athletic fields at Notre Dame and the Indiana Toll Road were considered as emergency landing areas, but they, too, were found to be too far away. At the last instant, before the plane dropped low enough to hit buildings and trees, the pilot made a sharp turn and guided the plane under power lines and onto a section of 933 in heavily trafficked Roseland. A utility pole tore off one third of one wing and a second wooden pole ruptured the fuel tank, but the impact didn't generate any sparks to ignite the spilling fuel. No one was injured. The plane had an open stretch of highway on which to land because traffic happened to be stopped at a signal at the instant the plane touched down. . . . For the first time ever, Notre Dame made it to first place in the all-sports Directors' Cup contest earlier this year. The Irish were in first place after the fall sports completed their seasons. The competition, formerly known as the Sears Directors' Cup, is now sponsored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. . . . The latest Princeton Review rankings of the _Best 375 Colleges_ places Notre Dame 19th in the category Great Campus Food. . . . A number of campus organizations raised money for tsunami relief, and they raised a ton: $173,000. It went to Catholic Relief Services. . . . The list of Notre Dame alumni serving as presidents of colleges and universities that appeared in the winter issue of this magazine left out at least one name. Sister Diane Steele, SCL, '93M.A., '01Ph.D. She became president of the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas, in 2001. . . . First came the Undertones, the all-male a capella group that was a spinoff of the Glee Club. The University now has a female a capella group called Harmonia. The 16-member group, formed three years ago, has been working on its first CD. . . . This past semester saw the demise of another popular student bar, the Boat Club downtown on Hill Street. The Boat Club had long been regarded as a haven for underage drinkers, and it finally met its doom after multiple police raids. The bar was memorialized at the Keenan Revue by senior Matt Kinsella and sophomore Carl Gioia in a song parody done to the tune of Don McLean's "American Pie." The chorus went: "Bye, bye, Mr. Underage Guy/You were thinking you'd go drinking till the morning was nigh/No more Thursday nights, drinking bad Keystone Light/thinkin' this might be the year that it died." . . . Former Irish running back Reggie Brooks '99 is back at Notre Dame. Not as a player or coach but as a computer specialist. Early last year he began working in the Office of Information Technologies as a configuration management specialist. He also provided commentary on a local radio station's football post-game-show last season. After gaining more than 1,000 yards his rookie year with the Washington Redskins, Brooks played just three more seasons in the NFL, the last with Tampa Bay. He says he decided to call it quits after becoming disenchanted with the pro game, especially the business side of it. . . . ND's Warren Golf Course, north of campus at the corner of Juniper and Douglas roads, has been certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. The course is home to 110 species of birds. Bird watchers flock to the course each May for the Bird Open, an event held the same day at golf courses around the country. . . . _Golfweek_ magazine rates the Warren course as the nation's 12th-best collegiate golf course. No. 1 is Williams College's Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Massachusetts. . . . Among the recent changes to the retail landscape near campus, the Malabar Indian restaurant at the intersection of Edison and Indiana 23 has become a coffee shop, and the large Spiece jeans and athletic-shoes store at Grape and Douglas roads has been turned into a bowling center. . . . The Turtle Creek Apartments complex just east of campus has been sold for $11.8 million. The buyer was Apartment Investment and Management Company, the nation's largest owner and operator of apartment complexes. An official of the company said AIMCO planned to spend $500,000 on improvements. . . . After being mostly absent in recent years, a duo of less-than-serious candidates for student body president and vice president made it onto the ballot this year. Sophomore Alec White and junior Erik Powers touted their Plan for a Brighter Tomorrow, which called for increasing the wattage of every indoor light bulb on campus.
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