Monday, May 7, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

“If you didn’t come to party
Why did you bother coming at all.”
    The Donnas

Toni and I took in “The Avengers” at Friday’s 2:15 showing at Cinemark in Valpo. The theater was about half-full for the opening day matinee, but throngs were lined up for the 5:30 as we left the theater.  Special effects bore me, but there were plenty of humorous moments for Robert Downey, Jr., as Iron Man. He tells the guy who turns into The Hulk, “I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.”  Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) rocked.  At the beginning Scarlett appears to be in serious trouble but then beats up her captors while still tied to a chair.  The crowd loved it when The Hulk picked up the villain Loki and beat him into the ground like a rug.  Nationally the movie broke all weekend records for attendance.

For Anne Balay’s promotion party in honor of Tanice Foltz Toni fixed shrimp.  We picked up Ron and Nancy, who made yummy cookies.  I enjoyed a Sloppy Joe, chicken legs, and two salads.  I gave Tanice the Donnas Turn 21 CD and rocked out with her to “Are You Gonna Move It For Me?” I met business professor Andrea Griffin and asked about possibly having courses on sports management that Carson Cunningham could teach.  Retiring prof Don Coffin teaches one occasionally on sports economics.  Many Millerites were in attendance, and Anne has quickly acclimated to moving there from Chicago.  Anne’s daughter Emma was a friendly hostess making sure nobody went thirsty.  She went to the midnight debut of “The Avengers” with friends dressed as the villain Loki.  My six-pack of Stella Artois quickly disappeared, but there was plenty of beer, including primo bottles from Three Floyds mini-brewery in Munster.  Anne’s friend Ausra took a photo of me with Brian O’Camb, Ron, Jonathyne Briggs, and Jamie Holeman.

There’s a Time feature on novelist John Irving, who is just weeks younger than I.  I thought his characters in “The World According to Garp” and “Hotel New Hampshire” were a little too quirky to be believable, but his goal seems to have been to promote tolerance toward sexual outsiders.  His latest, “In One Person,” ends with a transgender woman telling the bisexual hero, “My dear boy, don’t put a label on me – don’t make me a category before you get to know me.”  I picked up “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed” containing Irving’s memoirs and short stories, including one about a urologist nicknamed “Raunch.”

Saturday was opening for the Chesterton market.  I tasted samples of dips and desserts and enjoyed people watching.  A folksy duo played mostly Sixties songs.  I didn’t see a single person I knew.

Senior class adviser, Dave got a short hair cut for the prom.  Afterwards David Bork posted a photo on Facebook entitled “The best teacher at EC Central and I.”  We had the kids for the day, and I interested James and Becca in watching the Kentucky Derby by having each of us pick a horse.  Becca liked the beautiful white colt Hansen while James was rooting for Alpha.  My horse, Bodemeister, led all the way before overtaken by 15 to 1 shot I’ll Have Another (great name – sounds like a bowling team).  Janet Bayer used to host an annual Derby party featuring mint juleps.  She was watching with friends who served up Mexican fare, including margaritas in honor of Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates an 1862 victory by Mexican troops over an invading French force at the battle of Puebla. It delayed the French occupation under Maximilian by more than a year and thus aided the Union cause during the Civil War by denying French supplies to the Confederacy. 

Mexican Independence Day was once the main ethnic holiday celebrated by Region Hispanics, but Cinco de Mayo seems to have gotten just as big.  At the Cubs game were numerous fans in big sombreros.  In Florida a couple woke up to discover a huge sinkhole in their backyard that a “Today” reporter nicknamed “Sinkhole de Mayo.”  Pat Zollo posted a joke about a huge shipment of Hellmann’s mayonnaise in the hold of the Titanic destined for Vera Cruz, Mexico whose loss produced a day of mourning known as “Sinki de Mayo.”

Puerto Rican-born “King of Beisbol” Roberto Clemente died 30 years ago when attempting to fly supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims after dictator Anastasio Somoza interrupted previous deliveries.  Signed by Pirate former Dodger executive Branch Rickey, who had previously broken the color line, the charismatic Clemente led the Pittsburgh Pirates to world championships in 1960 and 1971 with his rifle arm and ability to hit for average, power, and especially in the clutch. The only other player voted into the Hall of Fame less than five years after the end of his playing career was Lou Gehrig.  

A “Smithsonian” article dealt with the memoirs of Casanova, which recently sold for a record $9.6 million, and describes his seductions of some 120 women, including milk maids, nuns, aristocratic ladies, and young girls, some of whom were his relatives.  Scholar Tom Vitelli asserts that Casanova would have been surprised that he is remembered most as a great lover, adding: “Sex was part of his story, but it was incidental to his real literary aims.  He only presented his love life because it gave a window into human nature.”  A bit of a braggart and creature of the Enlightenment, Casanova mingled with the likes of Voltaire, Ben Franklin, and the salacious Catherine the Great, who was falsely rumored to have crushed to death when servants lost their grip on ropes supporting a horse that was being lowered for her sexual pleasure.

Tom Wade won three board games Sunday (my lone triumph was in Acquire).  I foolishly traded with him in Settlers of Catan or Dave would have won.  Philadelphia sports teams went two for three, the 76ers defeating the Bulls without Rose or Noah, the Flyers losing to the Jersey Devils, and the Phils beating the Washington Nationals in baseball.  In the first inning pitcher Cole Hamels plunked 19 year-old phenom Bryce Harper; two batters later Harper scored from third when Hamels tried to pick off a guy on first.  When Hamels got up, Jordan Zimmermann hit him on the leg.  Admitting he hit Harper on purpose to “welcome him” into the big leagues, Hamels faces a five-game suspension.

Heeding the advice of Robert Blaszkiewicz, I’ve decided to vote Republican in Tuesday’s primary to support 80 year-old Richard Lugar against Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock, ahead by ten points in the latest polls.  Lugar is one of the few semi-moderate GOP senators left and has made it his mission to reduce weapons of mass destruction in the world.  His only hope is if enough Democrats vote for him.  I used to think Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly would have a better chance against Mourdock, but he might fare better against Lugar, hurt by allegations that he no longer lives in Indiana and that after six terms, it’s time he retire.  As a bonus I’ll be able to vote for Ron Paul against Romney.

In years past IUN would be bustling on days grades were due.  Now with Oncourse faculty don’t have to come on campus to do so.  My last few years teaching I missed the process of taking grades to the registrar and having someone check my grade rosters to make sure I didn’t leave any blanks.  Finding a virtually empty cafeteria, I was pleasantly surprised when Yankee fan Alan Lindmark (grieving over Mariano Rivera tearing his ACL shagging flies) and four English faculty members joined me for lunch.  George Bodmer had posted on Facebook a photo entitled “Despicable Me Ninja deviled eggs.”  I had thought they were six toys, but George told me to look closer.  Sure enough, he had made them using carrots for noses and olives for sunglasses.

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