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20 Questions with Davis Houck


20 Questions with Davis Houck


  1. What was your first job?
    Canning nightcrawlers for a nickel a dozen for a local mom and pop store. I think I lasted about 3 weeks.
  1. If you were to write a personal memoir, what would you name it?
    Where it Never Rains: Days and Dreams in the Buckeye State. I had such an idyllic and fun childhood; this captures some of that magic growing up in Ohio.
  1. Where did you grow up?
    Mansfield, Ohio, a rust-belt town now known for its prison tourism: Shawshank Redemption was filmed at a prison in town and it’s become a big deal now that so much industry has left.
  1. What is your favorite class you’ve taught?
    I don’t have a favorite as each class is different because of the students, but I love to teach Classical Rhetoric (SPC 3233) because the learning curve is so steep. Most students have never encountered the subject matter before.
  1. What is your favorite place to grab dinner in Tallahassee?
    My wife (Ingrid) and I love sushi, so Miyako and Kitcho are local faves. And I play a lot of golf with the owner of Kitcho, so he’s generous with our favorite appetizer the Monte Cristo (don’t miss it).
  1. What are your hobbies outside of work?
    I’ve started playing golf again after about a 20 year layoff and I really enjoy working in my yard: flowers, veggies, citrus….love to play suburban farmer.
  1. Have you always wanted to teach?
    No, I had no clue I wanted to teach, or might be any good at it, until my first class at U.C. Davis as a master’s student. Stepping on the other side of the lectern was both daunting and electric.
  1. What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to or where would you like to go?
    I love Montana and Ireland—for very different reasons. Western Montana is a 360 postcard all day every day and it attracts people of all stripes. Ireland is simply the mecca for golfers. Cruit Island, in particular, is a magical place out on a peninsula tucked away in the far northwestern corner of County Donegal.
  1. How many football games have you attended?
    Very few. I prefer my living room, air conditioning, instant replay and entertaining with friends.
  2. Proudest career/life moment?
    Hmmm, this is a hard one. When we graduated my doctoral student, Matt Grindy, from his hospital bed in February 2008, that was powerful at so many levels. Also seeing so many of my “kids” from the Miccosukee Boys and Girls Club shine has been a great gift. One of them, Javorius Allen, will likely be a high NFL draft pick this spring.
  3. What’s your favorite band?
    Anything Bruce Springsteen. And a Los Angeles band, Dry September, is fronted by one of the most talented singer/songwriters on the planet, Dave Tokaji, who became a close friend back in graduate school.
  4. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
    Denny Caico, a very colorful and profoundly important role model for me growing up as a golfer, heard that I’d walked off the golf course in the middle of a competitive round as a teenager and he told me—I have to re-phrase to make this PG-13—“if you ever do that again, I’ll kick your ass all the way home.”
    In other words, don’t ever quit despite the adversity; the crucible defines us.
  5. If money were no object, how would you spend your days?
    Probably doing more of the same. I lead a remarkably good life surrounded by great friends, family, and a job I look forward to every day. But I’d also buy a Lamborghini Aventador or Mercedes Benz SLS—I’m a car guy—to get to work faster. I’d also buy a few more clothes from Ben Silver (www.bensilver.com, if you’re looking for a gift).
  6. What is your favorite book and why?
    OK, I admit I don’t have one—I have many. One of my faves is David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, in part because he showed me the myriad creative possibilities of the written word. I try to bring some of that to my (non)academic writing.
  7. If you could be famous for something, what would it be?
    Being a really good educator/teacher/writer. And a world-champion Myer Lemon grower!
  8. What Jeopardy category could you clear, no problem?
    Famous Golf Courses of the World. And perhaps Live Oaks of Florida.
  9. Do you have any pets?
    My wife and I are big animal lovers. We started with six cats and are down to one very spoiled rescued and rotund tabby, “Gurlie.” Two large dogs, so I’m told, will be next. I have a thing for English bulldogs; Ingrid has a thing for great danes. Stay tuned!
  10. When did you start working at Florida State University?
    Spring term, 2000.
  11. What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
    We just saw Selma. It was excellent, but my civil rights research background was its own built-in spoiler alert system.
  12. What is the best part about your job?
    The best part of my job has always been working with students—individually and in the class room—to get them thinking differently, or just thinking, about the big wide world of communication around them. In addition, and more recently, it’s been having Gary Heald as my boss; he’s great in countless ways: kind, helpful, funny, supportive, student- and faculty-centered and always an optimist.

’20 Questions with CCI’ brings faculty and staff from the College of Communication & Information into a new light. Learn more about your favorite professors – their hobbies, interests and favorite Tally places.

Do you know someone at CCI you’d like to see featured? Submit their names to kate.mullen@cci.fsu.edu.