Tag Archive: Phi Kappa Tau

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” — Jerry Seinfeld

It was a Funeral for a Friend.

To be more precise, it was a service celebrating the life of my best man and my BFF.

John Newhouse moved into heaven at 62-years-young.The world would be a better place if there were more John Newhouses. Alas he was taken from us way too soon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was honored to deliver the third of four eulogies June 30.

Having long ago conquered Glossophobia, which hails from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread, delivering a eulogy was still an unprecedented, daunting challenge. The emotion cannot be minimized. The semantic issues are real. Even the best orators are confronted by the strictures of the eulogy.

If the family requests a three-minute eulogy that does not mean you should double or triple that amount of time. As Carly Simon sang: “You probably think this song is about you.” It’s not. Time your presentation. Stick to the written script. Work on your transitions, timing and eye contract.

As an assistant professor, a PowerPoint, a laser pointer and a clicker are de-rigueur standard tools of the trade. Using the Steve Jobs technique, each slide is a prompt, making speaking notes superfluous. Alas, there are no PowerPoints or Prezis for presenting the eulogy.

Speaking extemporaneously or winging it is not an option. Don’t go there. The eulogy needs to be just right. Standing behind the podium and mentally searching for the right words at the right time in the presence of the audience can very well lead to an embarrassing rhetorical train wreck.

And yet even with a tight script, the English language simply will not rise to the occasion. Nonetheless, there must be chosen words and they may not be perfect – that’s not possible – but still they must describe my best friend for 41 years.

Borrowing from another tongue, the Latin words of the U.S. Marine Corps motto — Semper Fidelis/ Semper Fi (always faithful) — spoke to the character of John Newhouse.

Regardless of his given cause/affinity, John was always loyal: The Spirit of Troy, The Los Angeles Dodgers, our USC Fraternity Phi Kappa Tau, his fellow Rotarians, his youth baseball teams … and most of all his family.

Looking into the collective eyes of his grieving family and recounting John’s unshakeable commitment to his two sons regardless of the circumstances, and how he treasured his wife and instinctively knew he overachieved in marriage, is a testament to why the phrase Semper Fi is appropriate.

Even though the author of Almost DailyBrett endured 12 years of parochial school with its sentence diagrams and the petty tyranny of the nuns and priests, the question comes whether it is kosher to add a Biblical verse 1 Corinthians near the conclusion of a church eulogy.

“Love is patient. Love is kind … “seemed to work for this setting. John was patient, did not keep score (except at a baseball game), always protected, always trusted. Yes, 1 Corinthians did the job.

As the clock clicked past three minutes, it was time for the close and a promise to share a microbrew together, if your author ever makes it to the pearly gates.

There are a myriad of challenges that each one of us will face in life. We will do better with some than others. Crafting and properly delivering the eulogy is one of them. With proper preparation, an understanding the English language will not cut it, and with a confidence the words will make the mark, then it will be time to go forward to remember, celebrate and pay proper respects to a departed colleague, friend or dear family member.

“Love Never Fails.”

John Robert Newhouse: A Celebration of Life

“John Newhouse was my best man.

“John Newhouse was my best friend … forever.

“He was everyone’s friend.

“He was my fraternity brother … and a fraternity brother to several in this room.

“He was the kindest person I ever knew.

“John Newhouse loved the world, and was a renowned traveler.

“My grandfather told me there were two places he never wanted to go.

“One was hell. The other was Russia.

“John and I went ‘Back to the USSR’ during the height of the Cold War in 1981.

“More than a few thought we were crazy, and they were right.

“When one talked about going to The Evil Empire it was not to-and-from, but in-and-out.

“John saw Moscow, Leningrad and the Baltic States as just another adventure.

“We did come out of Russia. We came back to America.

“John literally visited every continent on the planet, and was always looking forward to his next road trip. Wendy knows this undeniable fact oh-too-well.

“Speaking about the world, we can all say ex cathedra, our planet is a better place because of John Newhouse.

“When celebrating a life of someone so special that ended way too early, the world’s Lingua Franca, the English language, simply fails us.

“The U.S. Marine Corps adopted from the Latin, Semper Fidelis or Semper Fi as its motto. Translated it means: ‘Always faithful.’”

“There are many virtues about John, but his passionate loyalty to the Spirit of Troy, his devotion to his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, his commitment to his fraternity bros, his service with his fellow Rotarians, but most importantly his faithfulness to his family, stand out when one contemplates what made John Newhouse just so special.

“John Jr. and Scott. Let’s face it: From time-to-time, you drove him insane. Nonetheless he was proud of each of you, and he literally would do anything in his power to make your lives the best they could be.

“Wendy, you were always a miracle in John’s eyes. He was so proud to have you on his arm. He loved you dearly. I can state with impunity he was always Semper Fi when it came to you and your 33-years of marital bliss. He instinctively knew that he overachieved in marriage and he treasured your union every day.

“Considering that we are celebrating the life of John Robert Newhouse in a house of God, there are lines of scripture that seem just right in depicting why John was a gift to all of us. They come from 1 Corinthians:

“Love is patient, love is kind.

“It does not envy. It does not boast.

“It is not proud.

“It is not rude. It is not self-seeking.

“It is not easily angered.

“It keeps no record of wrongs.

“Love does not delight in evil.

“But rejoices with the truth.

“It always protects, always trusts.

“Always hopes. Always perseveres.

“Love never fails.”

“John, I love you. Your family loves you. Your wonderful spouse loves you. Everyone here will always love you.


“And on a personal note as your best man, John: If I am good enough to enter those pearly gates to join you in eternity, the first microbrew is on me.”





We tend to gravitate towards the campuses with party reputations.” – Nicole Henderson of adult film maker Shane’s World of Van Nuys.

Guess that would include Chico State…

There is the classic college-age problem associated with wrecking the family car.

And then there is the delicate issue with going a tad too far with one’s girlfriend.

And then there is calling mom and dad and reporting that you have been suspended…ah…for being in a porn flick with your fraternity bros.


It seemed like a good idea at the time for the brothers of the Phi Kappa Tau house of Chico State.


Since graduating with my undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California in 1978, I have always been proud of my affiliation with the Phi Kappa Tau national fraternity.

Yes, yes, the USC (Pi) chapter of Phi Kappa Tau closed in 1988 for hazing, but I was there many, many moons before that. The worst I can remember is holding a lit match upside down and speed-reciting the Greek alphabet before my hand was singed. Hopefully, the house can be recolonized at some point.

Since that time, I have uttered a sigh of relief more than once that I am not associated with the Phi Taus from Chico State (Beta Omega).

Last year, the Chico State chapter was suspended for breaking the underage drinking ban on campus. Considering that Chico State and its 37 frats and sororities have endured undergrad deaths associated with alcohol and water intoxication (hazing incident), the drinking ban seems more than appropriate.

Looking back to 2005, one must ask what were the Chico Phi Taus thinking when they decided to mix hormonal college guys with porn actresses and alcohol. Did they ever consider the consequences of what would happen when Shane’s World actually produced and distributed, “College Invasion 6”?

Did these Chico State rocket scientists ever weigh the impact of the Internet when it comes to their “acting” debuts?

In reviewing the “literature” about the Chico State Phi Tau porn movie incident, there appears to be several instances when sanity could/should have prevailed, prompting at least one brother to ask the obvious question: Why are we doing this?

Even though the answer is not crystal clear, there is strong evidence to suggest that the Chico State Phi Taus contacted Shane’s World. Considering that these studs starred in College Invasion 6, it stands to reason that there were five earlier versions of these movies. Arizona State and Indiana were reportedly two earlier venues. Did the Phi Taus watch one of these earlier versions during a stag night, and a bad idea was born?

Okay, the Chico State Phi Taus eventually convinced Shane’s World to send up a film crew, four actresses and two actors for a simulated Animal House-style toga party…but first came the testing for HIV and STDs about three weeks before. Did anyone stop and think: Why are we getting tested? Are there any potential health hazards to avoid?

When the big day arrived in the fall of 2004, the Chico State Phi Taus were required to produce identification to ensure that no minors were participating and to sign release forms. Again, did anyone question: What are we doing?

And just before as a warm up, there was “naked hula hoop” and the time-tested “p…y ring toss.” At this point, you have to know that zero fraternity guys are asking any questions. It’s Zero Dark Thirty…let’s go guys.

And then, it was cameras, lights and hormonal frat guy/porn babe action time. Sounded like a good idea at the time.


At long last, it was then time to pack up the equipment, a last round of hugs, and then to the editing room. The Chico State Phi Taus were ready to become porn stars…or studs. It was all good…until they were suspended.

Since 2005, the pace of digital technology and related social media has accelerated. Think of social media this way: It’s radioactive. Similar to nuclear power, it can illuminate a city or it can turn it to ashes.

For the Chico State Phi Taus, particularly those who participated in the porno, let’s hope their careers were not irreparably harmed. Let’s hope they learned an important lesson about making good decisions. Let’s hope they defer to the brain in-between their ears as opposed to the other brain.

Animal House (shot at the University of Oregon) is a fun movie. Not so sure that I would hire any of the bros of “Delta House” for a sensitive job. The same applies to the “film” stars of the Chico State Phi Tau house.













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