Monday, April 16, 2012

Wiley and the Hairy Man

“You wished me well
You couldn’t tell
That I’ve been crying over you.”
Roy Orbison

Larry David is funny as a nun, Sister Mary-Mengele (named for Nazi “Angel of death” Josef Mengele), in the “Three Stooges,” and I like most Farrelly brothers flicks (in particular “There’s Something about Mary” and “Dumb and Dumber”), but I only lasted an hour before the routines got boring and the plot uninspired. At any rate, I’ve never been totally comfortable with humor that simulates poking someone in the eye. “Cabin in the Woods,” which got a thumbs up from critic Roger Ebert, had interesting twists and turns but was entirely too bloody for my taste. Anna Hutchison was very good as the slutty Jules, and zombie lovers (Jerry Pierce, take note) will like the special effects. While “Cabin” isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen (as one patron commented leaving the theater), I’m sorry I didn’t move to “High School Reunion.”

Brian O’Camb loaned me a CD of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.,” warning that it is difficult to understand. I concur although the acting was great and the lesbian scenes quite erotic. The first two hours is a fantasy created by Betty (real name Diane), who became jealous of a rival whom she loved and had killed before taking her own life. Similar to Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” where a pimp mouths the words to Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams,” there’s an eerie nightclub scene where a performer seems to be singing Orbison’s “Crying” (“Llorando”) in Spanish. But it is an illusion, just like the entire action up to that time. A cowboy, a homeless man, and Mafia figures make appearances, but for what reason, I have no idea.

Arriving early for the IUN children’s production of “Wiley and the Hairy Man,” we sat with James and Becca in the first row. The daughter of Lori Montalbano, head of the performing arts department, was to our left. The African-American folktale was the perfect vehicle for Phyllis Barlow, Office of Diversity Programming coordinator who played Momma, the “best conjurer in the whole southwest county” in Mississippi. Brandon Hearne, who reminded me of a young Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who played Theo on “The Cosby Show,” was her son Wiley. The chorus was excellent with their actions and sound effects, and it was a fun experience. Toni had seen the play years before with Alissa as a puppet show. Scholars working for the Federal Writers project during the 1930s first wrote down the story after interviewing a black gardener, and it was published in an anthology entitled “A treasury of American Folklore,” edited by Writers Project administrator William Botkin. Afterwards I introduced Becca to Chancellor Lowe and wife Pamela. The actors were in the lobby to shake hands and mingle. During the week when school children arrive in droves, they frequently ask for autographs.

The weather cooperated for the Pop Up Art event along Lake Street in Miller. We went with the Hagelbergs and ran into many old friends, including Karren and Pat Lee (scrambling to keep up with grandkids), Elaine and Jim Spicer (reporting that Jim’s brother Steve wrote a book about his wife), Al and Alice Sasek (whose son Jason was selling cookies), and Judy and Gene Ayers (whose family realty business is 90 years old). I told Pat Conley about my fall class; he may audit it, as he did several others. Photographer Marty Bohn had some great shots of Miller Beach and I talked to her about including some of them in the upcoming issue of South Shore Journal. At Lake Street Gallery Joyce’s friend Bill was wearing a Vietnam Veterans shirt, so I promised to send him my Vietnam Shavings. Afterwards the four of us picked up Chinese food at Wing Wah (my fortune cookie read, “You are always welcome at any gathering”) and played a round of bridge. On the strength of making a small slam I had the top score.

Sunday I won two games out of four (Amun Re and Acquire despite a bonehead play that allowed Tom Wade to be both first and second in a stock) before the Hagelbergs took us to Memorial Opera House. On the way we dropped Dave off at Tom Dick’s, who was fixing his brakes. We saw the delightful comedy “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” The scenes about relationships between the sexes had such titles as “Men who talk and women who pretend they’re listening” and “Whatever happened to Baby’s parents?” The excellent cast included Jeff DeBoer, whom we saw in “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Chicago,” and “Annie.” Colleen Archer and John Peluso, evidently married in real life, played off each other well. We ate at Parea’s across the street. Our waitress, who resembled MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, works two jobs and is a full-time student majoring in Special Education.

Jeff Manes did a feature on Dr. Robert Wallace, whose teen advice column runs in the Post-Trib six times a week. His dad worked in the sheet and tin mill, and Wallace went to Gary Emerson. A former basketball coach and school principal, he lived in California for many years before moving back to the Region. He is friends with Ted Karras, and I was the one who suggested that Jeff write about him. Sadly Ted’s brother Alex was in the news, joining a class action law suit against the NFL pertaining to head injuries. Seven years ago Alex was diagnosed with dementia and wife Susan Clark said he can no longer drive or cook his famous Greek and Italian recipes.

After watching the Bulls win against the Pistons in overtime, I enjoyed episode three of Game of Thrones but was disappointed that Daenyres and the Dothraki were notably absent. Previews indicate that they’ll be back next week.

Rolling Stone has an article about our drone attacks on terrorist leaders. Despite the compelling arguments against pilotless planes that kill people, including innocent victims, without putting them on trial, I’d rather send drones against our enemies than soldiers, who inevitably commit atrocities. I suppose I might have more reservations if someone other than Obama was president.

When IUN’s Tamarack Hall got torn down, workmen found a time capsule in the cornerstone. Next month on IUN’s graduation day it will be opened. A committee Steve McShane is on located Jack Buhner, who was director of the campus in 1959, and he is returned for a reception when it will be opened. Kathy Malone told me Herman Feldman, who pretty much ran the campus in the early 1970s when we had a weak chancellor who succeeded Buhner, said he couldn’t come. I got his phone number, called him, and got him to promise to reconsider.

Sent an email to Dave Goldfield describing how Ray Smock’s Maryland lecture went. He’s back from Greece and soon will be off to China. I told him I was envious and loved everything about that country except the public bathrooms.

At lunch Fred Chary and George Bodmer were discussing the latest episode of “Mad men,” which evidently is set in the year 1966 and makes reference to Charles Whitman’s shooting spree at the University of Texas tower. The week before there was mention of the Richard Speck murders of nurses in Chicago. George liked that a character named Lane gave Pete a bloody nose. I mentioned that IUN director Jack Buhner is coming back at commencement for a ceremony where a time capsule put into the old Gary Main cornerstone will be opened. I talked to former acting chancellor Herman Feldman hoping to persuade him to attend. He said maybe and that I should call him in early May.

Alan Barr showed the Spanish film “Hable con Ella” (“Talk To me”) in class. A female bullfighter is gored in the ring and is visited by her journalist friend. In a nearby room is a young ballerina who has been in a coma for four years due to being hit by a car. A friendship develops between the sensitive man taking care of her and the journalist. Suffice it to say since the movies in the class deal with sex that some strange things happen. It began and ended with a dance performance. In the middle is an excerpt from a silent film where a shrinking scientist enters a woman’s vagina. Other than recognizing the word “ola” and “gracias,” I relied on the subtitles. Alan’s final movie next week is “Brokeback Mountain.” I’ll probably be in Michigan attending Miranda’s soccer game, but I’ve already seen it. Both Miranda and Anthony are refereeing soccer games as well as playing. Phil did that in high school; it taught him where various communities in Northwest Indiana were.

Dave Malham called after hearing that Dick Cheney claimed that it was imperative to defeat Obama. Recalling that I once argued that the word “ironic” was overused, he wondered if it fit in the face of the former veep’s idiotic assertion. “Yes, I’d say it was unintentional irony,” I replied. Often people use the word when they really mean coincidental.

Exactly hundred years ago American Harriet Quimby became the first woman pilot to fly across the English Channel. She received almost no publicity, however, since the Titanic tragedy occurred the day before. Fifty years Bob Dylan sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village.

Jojo Robinson informed me about great new CDs by Accept (“Stalingrad”) and The Used (“Vulnerable”).

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