185 articles found by Chris Colcord
||The Beauty of Offending
When Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke at the PEN World Voices festival in New York in early May, she had some sharp words about the state of public conversation in the United States.
||Marvelous, Furious, Avenging Blockbusters
Before the new Avengers movie settles in and obliterates every mega plex in the country, I'd like to go back and revisit Pauline Kael's 1986 review of Arnold Schwarzeneggar's hideous action flick Raw Deal…
||Guilty as charged
In college I was walking home late one night from a party and when I turned a corner relatively close to home I noticed a girl, all alone, walking about twenty feet ahead of me.
||Strangers all around
There was this guy, a comical guy, who worked at the local pizza place I used to frequent.
||Offense and Influence
When a federal jury awarded Marvin Gaye's heirs $7.3 million in the "Blurred Lines" copyright infringement case, it was surprising to me how few people wanted to stick up for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. Even if you hate the song, it's hard not to see that a terrible precedent was being set by the ruling.
You're driving west on Main Street in downtown Fort Wayne, it's mid-morning and you're late, the roads are still bad from the snow but you've got to get across town and into Aboite in 12 minutes and so you're reckless, skiing into stops, spinning out, hopping lanes, spilling coffee.
||The dignified life
One of the comical things about getting older is discovering how easy it is to repeat the same mistakes from your past, over and over, without seemingly have learned a single thing from your previous experiences.
||An unforgiving profession
Whenever I get nostalgic for my time as an actor I reflect on the career of Amy Acker and instantly I'm cured of any longing to get back on stage again.
||Close to the Vest
A few years back I'm in a barber shop in Fort Wayne, one of those old-timer places where the candy stripe gizmo twirls all day and all night…
||Sriracha Nights and Quinoa Dreams
One of my best friends from college has one of those unassailably cool, one-of-a-kind jobs that always manages to prompt a feeling of envy.
||Bourbon for the Holidays
I've always been a pretty easy guy to buy Christmas presents for, for I've always asked for vices, and my vices are of the sort that you can spend as much (or as little) on me as you want and chances are, I'll still be pretty happy with whatever I get.
||Winterize your vehicle
Every time I look at my car's tires to see if they need inflating, I'm convinced that one of the tires is dangerously low.
||The Beautiful Game
When the NBA season began last week, it began without the services of Philadelphia 76er center Joel Embiid, the talented first-round pick out of Kansas University.
When the 2014 World Series wraps up in a few weeks, and the new champions are crowned, there will come a moment in the post-game interviews where — I guarantee — the winning manager or MVP will tell one of the most obvious, blatant, and bald-faced lies of his life.
||Brain Waves, Fried Eggs, iPhones
As any stay-at-home parent will tell you, there's simply no previous job experience that can adequately prepare you for the demands of watching young children in the home.
||Thanks for sharing
It's hard not to feel just a little bit giddy when you see a hugely successful American company screw up in a majestically public way, which is why I've been giggling nearly non-stop since the Apple/U2 debacle began over a week ago.
||Life Skills for the Modern World
One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received about being an adult came from the mystery writer Raymond Chandler, whose fictional detective Philip Marlowe once declared that all men should learn how to become a decent breakfast cook at some point in their lives.
||Bowdlerization for Fun and Profit
There was a terrifically entertaining theatre "controversy" in Houston, Texas this past summer, a lively brouhaha precipitated by the actions of an egomaniac artistic director who decided to change the script of the current musical he was directing without telling any of the authors.
||Everything is Awesome
It's always an embarrassing situation when a local theatre audience rises to its feet at the end of a bad production and treats the community performers onstage as if they were the original cast members of Show Boat or The Glass Menagerie or Long Day's Journey Into Night.
||Data Vs. Memory
I've discovered that whenever I'm seeking some transcendent truth about the big questions in life it's best to skip past the irrefutable, reliable sources of collective wisdom (the Bible, Shakespeare, Greek philosophy, Russian novels) and go straight to the heart of all true, human illumination…
||Escape your demographic
It's always a little unnerving when you discover that corporate marketers have you pegged to a T and seem to have an almost supernatural knowledge about your particular tastes.
In case you run into someone who still believes that gay marriage won't be an inevitability in this country in the near future, here's the one stat you need to remember…
||One Ounce of Prevention
Hands down, the single greatest way to bore people to death is by talking about your various health issues in great detail.
||Ground-Breaking, Edgy, Envelope-Pushing Exhaustion
The last time I went to see a movie in a theater I felt so bludgeoned by the ear-splitting trailers that played before the movie that I almost didn't stick around for the feature.
||When I Think of Chris Colcord
The Indianapolis Star recently published a profile on Hoosier actress Claudia Lee, the 17-year old West Lafayette native whose current Fox sitcom Surviving Jack debuted this Spring.
||Bodies at rest
It's one of the perversities of life, that the very moment you decide you're going to stop being such a mean-spirited, misanthropic jerk that suddenly you're introduced to an absolutely perfect object of ridicule.
||Block that dream
Every few years you'll notice that there are words and phrases that have become so over-saturated and abused by popular usage that they become nearly meaningless.
||Support the Arts?
For all the theatre-going enthusiasts in Fort Wayne, I'd like to offer up the following hypothetical question for their consideration…
||Dance Recital Purgatorio
It always starts innocently enough…
During miserable winter months it's important to have something to look forward to, no matter how trivial, just to take your mind off the oppressive weather and the bleak landscape.
||O Solo Mio
There have been two instances in my life where I have gone to a movie theater and discovered that I was the lone person in the audience…
||Top Ten Greatest of Ever and All-Time
There was a moment after I watched Joss Whedon's charming Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing when I actually embarrassed myself by saying, out loud, in my apartment, for all to hear: "That's the Best Movie of the Year!"
||It's Christmas, Carol!
One of the things I've discovered I need to do this Christmas is to reassess my sense of irony…
||The Reunion Will Be Televised
This past Veteran's Day produced a deluge of "surprise military homecoming" video celebrations, those seemingly ubiquitous YouTube and local news sensations where a serviceman returns home unannounced and shocks his children by his sudden appearance at some public event…
||Crack in the Mirror
The best joke about the perverse way that Hollywood views women and aging comes from the movie The First Wives' Club, a hit-or-miss 1996 comedy featuring Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Goldie Hawn.
||Street Gremlins in the City
The first time I ever encountered Fort Wayne's mysterious furniture gremlins occurred in 2005, when I was moving out of my West Central apartment.
||Right of Refusal
When I'm at a loss for something good to read, I've discovered that if I simply go back and look at some of my old college syllabi, I'm certain to find some terrific piece of literature that I've never looked at.
|| Writes Like A Girl
When J.K. Rowling was "outed" as the real author of the mystery novel The Cuckoo's Calling this past summer, the somewhat obscure discipline known as "forensic linguistics" was suddenly thrust into the limelight.
||Campus of your dreams
When I got to college for my freshman year, I was startled by how quick many of my fellow students were to ridicule my choice of study — I was an English major, focused on Creative Writing, and I was proud of it…
||A Few Words About A Few Words
I once got tapped by a local arts organization to help out with a city-wide scholastic writing contest, and being a generous, civic-minded sort I of course agreed…
||Meet the New Boss
So here's a typical Friday workday for Bo Gonzalez, owner and operator of the popular Fort Wayne "mobile food" business known as Bravas Food:
||The one that got away
We're deep in the midst of the "Summer Beach Reading Season," the time when many Americans use their hard-earned vacation days to finally escape into the solitary pleasure of reading some big, accessible, time-killer of a novel that's been dominating the nation's Best Seller lists.
||Happiest place on Earth
Although a lot of independent film directors go to Sundance every year with hopes of getting a distribution deal for their current project, it's a safe bet that the director of this year's most provocative film knew there was no chance of that ever happening.
||Packaged, Processed, Artificial Death-Foods: A User's Guide
When Frito-Lay announced earlier this year that one of their new "Do Us A Flavor" options for their upcoming line of designer potato chips was going to be a "Chicken and Waffles" flavor, my heart did a little dance…
A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a religious service at one of the Midwest's largest mega-Churches, and I have to say that the 70+ minute worship-extravaganza was one of the oddest and most baffling pieces of performance art that I've ever witnessed.
||Acting with a Capital "A"
After watching Joaquin Phoenix single-handedly try to ruin every scene in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (2012), I was reminded of an old Pauline Kael review of the 1956 movie Teahouse of the August Moon.
||Drive, He said
I played a parlor game with some friends recently that caused me a great deal of embarrassment — each of the guests was given a question to respond to, and after a few moments of reflection, the answers were to be given sequentially, by all the participants.
||Transparency and privacy
In my adult life I've written probably a dozen fan letters to the various musicians, writers, and actors whose work has compelled me, and from that number I've received exactly three responses…
||The Children's Crusade
For someone who's been a working comedienne for over six decades, it's somewhat surprising that Joan Rivers still has the capacity to offend contemporary sensibilities with her mean-spirited slams and aggressive one-liners.
||Man on A Mission
I'm not sure what the official start date for "Proselytization Season" in Indiana is, but on my block the young, earnest, and converting have been hard at it for a couple of months now.
||The Art of Degradation
It's probably not a surprise that the biggest box office opening of the year so far belonged to a movie that most critics hated — the Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy road movie Identity Thief, which debuted on February 8th and brought in over $34 million for the weekend.
||Slings and Arrows
The novelist and short story writer John O'Hara (1905-1970) was one of the most famous American writers of the 20th century, though you'd hardly know it now…
||Lost Languages and Old Relics
It's been reassuring to discover that many of my older friends share the same peculiar habit that I do when it comes to texting — no matter how brief or hurried the message may be, we make sure to spell out every word correctly and to use all proper forms of punctuation.
|| Through the Looking Glass, Darkly
This past New Year's marked the 60th anniversary of one of the most heavily mythologized moments in American music history — the last ride of country singer Hank Williams, who died in the back seat of his Cadillac somewhere along the blue highways in Tennessee or Virginia on January 1st, 1953.
||Fort Wayne Reader
Times past, buying Christmas presents was never a big deal for me — it was always a safe bet that anyone close to me was sure to be a voracious reader, so around the 3rd week of December, I'd amble over to Hyde Brothers and get all my shopping done in one fell swoop.
||Necessary bad art
One of my favorite literary hatchet jobs of the past 20 years is Joe Queenan's Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon (1998), an excoriating attack on the worst of middle-brow American culture that existed in the mid-90s.
||Sankofa's last campaign
You'd think that calling it quits on a lifetime passion would cause a great deal of sadness and miserable self-introspection, but for local rapper Sankofa, saying goodbye to the art form he loves is a cause for celebration. After 14 years of writing, performing, and recording, Sankofa is hanging up the Adidas Tomatinas and the Nike Wildedges and focusing on the new phase of his life.
||Public and private lives
Tell me if the following scenario has ever happened to you: you're stepping out into the streets of your fair town, you're going for a walk or you're headed out to lunch, you see the usual panoply of city types on the streets…
||The Thirst Mutilator
Marketing experts will tell you that creating an annoying ad that everybody hates is not necessarily a waste of money.
||Fables of the Gridiron
So far the biggest surprise of the 2012 NFL season has been the Indianapolis Colts' improbable victory over the Green Bay Packers on October 7th.
||Sound and Fury
One night in college I remember my roommates and I being jarred awake by an impromptu party next door — it was late, after midnight, and we could hear the front door slamming and the laughter and bustle as the guests started to arrive.
There have been few fights in college basketball history that can match last year's Xavier-Cincinnati brawl — the shockingly bloody free-for-all, which was precipitated by a series of cheap-shot fouls by the two bitter, crosstown rivals, became an immediate worst-case scenario for purists of the game.
In just a few generations the average age for newlyweds has jumped considerably — by 2009, the median age was 28 years old for men and 26 for women.
||Fun at the Old (New) Ballpark
It's embarrassing when a sixty-second commercial for a product you despise reduces you to tears, but that's exactly what I experienced when I first saw the featured spot for PlayStation's "MLB12-The Show" video game in March.
|| Live Like You're Living
We're coming out of the busiest travel season in America, for the last weekend of July is typically the most active vacation time in this country…
||Man's informality to Man
For the longest time I simply couldn't understand why humorist David Sedaris was such a big deal to the American book-buying public…
||Contradictions Are Your Friends
One of the clearest signs that you might actually be getting smarter as you age happens when you suddenly realize, one day, just how wrong you've been about something you've always believed in.
||Late Father's Day Card
One of the most surprising cultural trends of the 1990's was the sudden growth of the "mythopoetic men's movement" in the early part of the decade, the time when a number of writers, philosophers, sociologists, and advocates all tried to rehabilitate the notion of "true masculinity" in a post-modern, pro-feminist world.
||Sleep of the Just
There was an extremely peculiar news story that hit the wires and internet a few weeks ago, a story that took place outside of Chicago, and I wonder if most Hoosiers caught it when it broke.
||Curse of the Rabbit-Eared
Besides being the busiest film actor of his generation, Samuel L. Jackson is also indisputably the coolest…
||The Mythology of Fort Wayne
For Michael Martone, the renowned writer and Fort Wayne native, the city has always existed as a place full of it's own particular mythology. For more than 30 years the writer has been setting his stories in the city and state that he grew up in, and the landscape has remained a locale of singular peculiarity.
||March of the Pink Ribbons
I've been forced to listen to a motivational/inspirational speaker exactly once in my lifetime, and I have to say that the experience was so infuriating that the lone "motivation" I took away from the speech was an iron pledge never to hear a motivational speaker again.
||How to Die Alone
Since I don't fly that often, I never get truly annoyed or disillusioned by modern air travel in the way that most travelers do…
||Center of the World
There have been a lot of bad movies that got nominated for a "Best Picture" Oscar in film history, but few nominees received as much ridicule as 2011's Extremely Loud and Terribly Close.
||Let Us Now Praise the Wanna-Be's
There are few frontmen in rock and roll who have endeared themselves less to their fans than Billy Corgan, lead vocalist and guitarist for the Chicago-based group The Smashing Pumpkins.
|| Facebook and Existentialism
If anyone wonders whether it might be time to delete their Facebook account, here's some information that might help sway the decision
||World of Meanies
There's probably no quicker litmus test to prove someone's age in 2012 than by asking them how they feel about bullying.
||Individuality without Originality
There is a moment of real dread during any argument over same-sex marriage, the moment when your family-values, religious-based opponent has exhausted all of the usual social and philosophical arguments about the issue and is preparing to take another tack.
||How to party with evangelicals
In election years, when divisive, demonizing rhetoric rules the airwaves, it's reassuring to remember the curious friendship between Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
||The Tackiness of Publicity
For sheer gall and arrogant self-promotion, you really have to hand it to writer Nicholas Sparks.
||Hipster Rules and Guilty Pleasures
For the better part of the last twenty years, I have been living under a self-imposed "Classic Rock" embargo…
||Don't Worry, Everybody's Watching
British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan once wrote that, when it came to acting, Lawrence Olivier was the one performer who "held all the cards."
||Tea leaves and life lines
I'll always watch Ridley Scott's science-fiction classic Blade Runner (1982) when it shows up on movie channels and not just because of the film's many aesthetic achievements:
||History Lessons for Modern Times
A good friend of mine who works at Apple recently attended the on-campus memorial for Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and guiding force…
||The Curse of Good Intentions
By far, the biggest box-office surprise of the Summer 2011 season was The Help, Tate Taylor's domestic drama that was based on the 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett.
||Artistic "Journeys" and Other Terrible Metaphors
I finally learned to stop buying "Special Edition" DVD sets of favorite movies because I discovered that knowing the behind the scenes secrets of the film making process detracted from my enjoyment of the movie.
||3, 2, 1… Yes!
I have a friend who works for a modeling agency, and she told me of a curious phenomenon that exists amongst her students.
||Wish you were here
You'd think that being on the streets of New York City on a late summer day would be reason enough for people to stop looking at the cell phones in their hands for a moment and actually take in the sights around them, but no…
||The Inevitability of Influence
One of the best singles of the 90's was "Bittersweet Symphony," a majestic, ringing anthem from the British pop-rock group The Verve.
||Critic's Choice Kicks Off Surprising Season at Arena Dinner Theatre
Theatre audiences looking at Arena's 2011-2012 season might be more surprised to discover what's not on the schedule than by what is. This year, there's no Neil Simon, no Agatha Christie, no "Steel Magnolias," no "Nunsense," no "Arsenic and Old Lace."
||McCartney, Coppola, The Cheerleader
I had a surprising number of friends who made the trip to Wrigley Field last week to see Paul McCartney in concert, performing the Midwest leg of his stadium tour, and almost everybody said that the show was tremendous and that McCartney played for nearly three hours.
||Sam Stone's last balloon
The first time that I saw the Sex Pistols was on a national news telecast in 1978, and the report completely unsettled me.
||Artists as soap bubbles
In the book Afterglow, film critic Pauline Kael talks about a painful encounter she had with the director John Boorman. The critic had attended a screening of the director's latest film, and the two, who were friends, had agreed to meet for drinks after the movie ended.
||Monsters of Fame
It's always a dicey proposition when you choose to make rock and rollers your personal heroes, for they'll invariably do something so destructive or disloyal that you'll hate yourself for ever trusting so blindly in them.
||Shame of the Nation
I have few iron-clad rules for life but one of the big ones is you should never run down the city you live in. Whenever I hear someone blasting their current home, it usually tells me nothing about the particular city and everything I need to know about that person…
||Come 2 Go's Split Personality
When Come 2 Go Ministries began to consider the feasibility of turning their state-of-the-art stage into a viable, full-time, Fort Wayne concert venue, they asked consultant Mark Lahey for specific recommendations.
||140 Characters of Pure Brilliance
If you type the words "twitter" and "apology" together on Google Search, your query will instantly bring back eleven million results.
||No Uncertain Terms
It's reassuring to think of American presidents as men virtually hewn from stone, as Rushmore-ready, intractable visionaries seemingly born with an innate sense of largesse and uncompromising righteousness.
||Upon the wicked stage
For sheer, unadulterated pain-in-the-ass diva behavior, few performing artists have ever matched the awesome achievements of American opera singer Kathleen Battle.
||Back in town
A few years ago I had the inspiration to take advantage of the video producing facilities at Access Fort Wayne and make my own documentary…
||The Sweet and Bitter Comedy
It's a distressing moment for the aging hipster when you realize that advertisers don't care that you exist anymore.
||Saying Yes to the Dress
In the history of dubious achievements, designer John Galliano might have set the all-time record this past week — his insane, video-taped, anti-Semitic ramblings were so despicable and morally indefensible that he managed to make Charlie Sheen look like the second craziest celebrity currently on the planet…
||Last of the Independents
Not that I want to tell a multi-billion dollar company how to conduct business, but I do wish that Starbucks would back off a little with the chipper customer service.
||Sankofa, The Silversmiths, and the Art of Collaboration
For many artists, Sartre's dictum "Hell is other people" accurately describes the uneasy prospect of letting someone else into your creative laboratory. While it's often essential to rely on other talents and viewpoints to help shape a work, it's never easy to allow another voice to influence your singular vision.
|| Trouble in Mind
Comedian Drew Carey used to do a funny riff in his stand-up routine about postal workers, where he theorized that the spate of shootings committed by disgruntled employees was directly caused by the oddball prices for postage stamps.
||Carve Abs While You Sleep!
It's probably not the stride in equality that most feminists were hoping for, but it appears that men are starting to get as screwed up about their bodies as women are.
||10 Words/Phrases You Cannot Use. Ever.
I'm usually very tolerant when a kid loses it in public — being a parent, I recognize that even the best behaved child will have at least one major meltdown at dinner, in the theatre, at the grocery store.
||Revenge of the Pod People
I have an almost "Rainman"-like capacity to retain useless bits of trivia which I'll then dutifully trot out when trying to stump easily-annoyed friends after a few drinks. Two of my current favorite parlor-trick questions are about human behavior. See if you can figure them out:
||Road to Dystopia
One of the most unexpected publishing successes of the past decade has been Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" series, a trilogy of Young Adult, science fiction novels that take place in a post-apocalytpic, dystopian America.
|| Generation Skank
I'm a great admirer of people who are willing to wage pointless battles against immovable social forces, so let me speak on behalf of the varsity cheerleading squad at Central High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
||Little Brother Radio Wants to Change Your Life. Or Not.
It's a sublime pleasure to discover that your hometown can produce artists you genuinely enjoy without making you feel like you're performing some benevolent public service.
||Acts of Vengeance
It's not surprising that the two Rutgers University students charged with invasion of privacy have gone into deep hiding since the death of Tyler Clementi on September 23rd.
||Road through Nowhere
As anyone who's ever driven to Evansville will tell you, you can't get there from here…
||The Blessing of Silence
Shortly after I entered my first semester of college, the Journal-Gazette published a feature in its Sunday edition that focused on my youngest sister. She had been involved in a terrible car accident two months earlier, caused by an impaired driver, and the Journal wanted to examine the aftermath of a traumatic drunk driving accident on a typical family.
|| Building a Mystery
I have to admit I've become morbidly fascinated by Glenn Beck, the popular Fox News host whose recent "Restoring Honor" rally attracted large crowds in the nation's capitol and incited endless commentary from social and political analysts.
||The Autumn People
We're still weeks away from the official start of the fall season, but to me autumn began last week, on August 15th, the day the weather broke and everybody turned off their air conditioners.
||The Tyranny of Connectivity
For most of my adult life I've dreaded hearing a specific, four-word sentence more than any other, and no, the sentence isn't "You are under arrest" or "We've detected a growth."
||Cruel Summer Cinema
It's been 35 years since Jaws introduced the summer movie phenomenon to American film goers, and no matter how enjoyable the film remains, you can't help but hate Steven Spielberg for what he's wrought.
||America vs. Americana
The most popular vacation week of the summer for American families is the final week in July, and it's not a coincidence that that same week is also the hottest week of the year (on average) for most regions of the country.
||Holidays in the Sun
The 4th of July falls on a Sunday this year, which is a total gyp: nobody gets an extra day off.
||Fetishist Fans, Charter Club Members
The Replacements were my favorite band in the 80's, a scruffy, sloppy, post-punk Minneapolis group who always managed to screw it up just as they were about to get famous.
||Fear of the Airport Bestsellers
In the late 70s, film director Stanley Kubrick decided that his next movie following Barry Lyndon would be in the horror genre, and he had his assistants gather source material for him to examine for the project.
When I was fourteen, I was confirmed in a Catholic church in Fort Wayne, and while I didn't quite understand the severity of the occasion, I was pleased that I was given an additional name at the ceremony.
||One Nation Without A God
Indiana is home to a number of historical "firsts" that lifelong Hoosiers like to trumpet as proof of the state's significance in national terms…
|| The Anxiety of Opinion
Irish director Jim Sheridan made the film In America (2002) after he'd already received some renown in the United States…
||The Cry-Baby Manifesto
There's no American equivalent to Amy Winehouse, the belligerent British soul singer whose trainwreck private life has been of continued interest to tabloid writers…
||Carnival Barkers in the Arts
Criticizing poor cell phone etiquette is rapidly becoming a pointless exercise today, similar to crying about the weather or complaining about the earth's gravitational pull.
||Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs
In 1979, the great rock critic Lester Bangs took a lot of heat from punk fans for writing "The White Noise Supremacists," a blistering attack on the racism prevalent on the American punk/new wave scene.
||For Entertainment Purposes Only
Here is a sure-fire, winning strategy for betting the Super Bowl in 2010: identify the team that has the most heartwarming storyline, and then, coolly, calmly, bet the house on the other team.
||Lunatics, Creeps, Apocalypse Freaks, Glenn Beck
At this stage of the game there's no joy in burying Pat Robertson, just a painful sense of embarrassment. His latest depravity — blaming the Haitian earthquake on the deviltry of the Haitian people — has completely destroyed the illusion that the fundamentalist pastor has any grasp on reality left.
||Hollywood's Obesity Problem
Every January, Entertainment Weekly publishes a comprehensive list of the best and worst reviewed movies of the past year, and though the 2009 issue hasn't come out yet, it's a cinch that the top-reviewed movie will be Up, Pixar Studios remarkably popular summer animation blockbuster.
||End of the Year As We Know It
I'm always astonished at how quickly cable television is able to take current events and repackage them into historical perspective programming — it's a full three weeks before 2010, and I've already seen a 2009 restrospective of shocking/notable events that happened the past year.
||Two Hundred Days of Christmas
I will always hate film director Robert Zemeckis and not just because he attempted World Dummification by releasing Forrest Gump in 1994. His later sins — particularly the animation money-grabs he's produced this decade (The Polar Express, Beowulf, the current A Christmas Carol) — more than justify my black-hearted rancor.
||Genius of perversion
I've always been afraid of reviewing any of James Ellroy's novels on the off chance that he might read it, hate it, and then hunt me down and kill me.
||Great Fall Destinations
I used to go to Florida every spring and stay at a friend's place, and I was surprised to discover how many familiar faces I encountered every time I was there. Most trips to the grocery, to the restaurant, to the beach included an impromptu conversation with someone I recognized from Fort Wayne. It wasn't until a few years later that I saw that this was hardly coincidence…
||Dorian Gray Redux
I had a chance to see U2 at Soldier Field last month, which presented me with a curious ethical dilemma — I've always hated the band, yet I was kind of interested in seeing the techo light-and-sound gizmos that a big deal rock and roll tour unleashes. The ticket was free, too; a friend owed me a favor and was willing to clean the slate with a choice, high end, $250 seat he scored through his company.
||The Unbearable Heaviness of Artists
If you live long enough, it's inevitable that someone you once knew will end up famous, and if you're a shallow name-dropper like me, you can use this information to impress the starry-eyed and celebrity mad for a little instant status.
||Cheap Shots, Personal Fouls
It happens so subtlety every year; one minute we're sweltering through a typically vicious Indiana August and then, shockingly, we wake up and discover the floor is chilled because the windows were left open all night.
||"Twilight" of the Dummies
As a fire-breathing young writer, I thought it was my duty to be as offensive as possible, so I wrote a bunch of short stories aimed at shocking the great unwashed out of their bourgeois sensibilities.
||The Apathy of Strangers
I rarely read The Journal Gazette anymore but when I do I must admit I have an unhealthy attraction to the "Cheers/Jeers" section on the editorial page.
||Hollywood Death Trip
It's been a couple of weeks now since you went scrambling to the computer on a hourly basis to see which new famous person had died, so I figured that this would be a good time to reflect on how truly ghoulish your behavior was.
||Addicted to Exuberance
Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking (2006) is a pitch-black satire about the perversities of tobacco lobbyists, yet there is a moment in the movie that rings all too true for real-life smokers.
||Guide to Making Enemies
During the Bush/Clinton election season of 1992, I took a road trip to Madison, Wisconsin for a friend's wedding, and what I encountered there left a lasting impression on me. I'd heard that the city was strongly liberal but I was surprised to learn how stridently leftist it really was. I went to school in Bloomington and the political climate at I.U. was noticeably less charged — Liberal Lite compared to Madison. Odd, to me, for much of Wisconsin is fiercely conservative, right in the heart of NRA country.
||Red Carpet Massacres
I attended an awards ceremony for a local theatre a few years back, and during the proceedings I saw something that I've never been able to shake. An actor who was nominated was seated to my left, say twenty feet away, and just before his category was announced, I found myself staring directly into his face.
||Rose Petals, Asti Spumante
Like those tiny ants that scurry from the kitchen faucet, a mailbox full of wedding invitations is one of the surest signs of Spring we have here in Indiana.
||Delicate Art of Lying
One of the hazards of being on Facebook is that there's always the chance that someone you've blithely dismissed from your past will hunt you down and try to be friends again. This is inevitably painful — after a few sessions of "remember whens," the conversations dry up and you remember, precisely, why the old friendship couldn't sustain itself.
||Apocalypse of Reason
I'm a pretty hard guy to shock, but I have to admit I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a copy of The Turner Diaries at the Allen County Public Library last month.
||His Dark Materials
One of the reasons I like live theatre so much is that occasionally I'll see a moment onstage that is so powerfully rendered that the audience can only respond with stillness. This may sound contradictory, but often the silence of a rapt audience provides the most charged, electrifying feelings in theatre, for both actors and audience members alike.
||Land of the Lost
Whenever I am at a loss for inspiration, I try to remember that great stories can be fashioned from the most unlikely news sources. My favorite movie of the 90's, Fred Schepisi's Six Degrees of Separation, was famously based on a curious, true-life story that happened in the early 80's.
||Rules of Distraction
When I was in college, I got a summer job working construction in Fort Wayne, which made for ripe comic material — I had zero facility with anything mechanical and every day on the job brought a new machine. My foreman, a hard drinking Irish guy, not without a sense of humor, relished the opportunity to intimidate the college boy, so I spent most days trying to man a piece of machinery I had no business operating.
||One and Future City
Like most nihilists, I have a secret, romantic side that is as deep as it is surprising. No matter how critical I can be, I still cultivate an almost childlike belief that things will turn out okay and that most people are inherently decent.
||No Fats, No Femmes
A few years back, I got a job teaching composition at a local college, and I had the damnedest time getting my students to care about their assignments or to be creative in any way.
||Jazz Hands, People!
Being a perverse so-and-so I find that I like to take ridiculous, contrarian stands on social issues, and I recognize that many of these positions make me look morally suspect.
||Dead of winter
I used to have the utmost contempt for those traitors who left Fort Wayne in the winter, the people who had the freedom and the resources to bolt out of town during the truly bleak months of the new year.
||The Glenn Beck Experience
Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck will always be a hero to me, and the reason for my admiration has nothing to do with his politics, talent, or accomplishments.
||"Christmas Shoes" and Other War Crimes
For someone who loves music as much as I do, it's somewhat embarrassing to admit that I'm still the last guy on my block without an iPod. It's true — I'm that relic from the past, the Luddite who still has that ancient CD crate in his car, the guy who nearly causes 10-car pile-ups by constantly changing discs while he's maneuvering through traffic.
||Lonesome bachelors, holiday orphans
Even though the rest of the holiday season fills me with dread, I must admit that I'm a total sucker for the annual Santa lighting ceremony in downtown Fort Wayne. That day, that Wednesday, has always been my favorite moment in the holidays — the prodigals have all returned to the city, liquor stores are jumping, the bars are packed, everybody's got a little kick in their step because of the imminent four-day vacation. And the lighting ceremony is the centerpiece of the day.
I registered to vote for the 2008 election 18 months ago. The reason I did such an uncharacteristically timely and responsible thing had nothing to do with my precognition that 2008 would prove to be an epochal election year. The fact was, as an indigent sort with no bank account or credit cards, I needed a second form of identification to cash checks with, and instead of forking over the $25 needed for a Hunting and Fishing license, I decided it was more prudent to hustle over to Calhoun Street and get signed up to vote.
||Godless liberals and fatso Republicans
In the aftermath of George W. Bush's close victory over John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, exit polling and subsequent interviews determined that the deciding factor in the election might have been the nebulously worded "family values" issue, the catch-all phrase for divisive social topics like abortion or gay marriage.
||War on Privacy
The relative failure of the documentary American Teen at the box office (less than $920,000 after eight weeks) surprised a lot of Hollywood experts. The Sundance hit was primed by its studio, Paramount, for a healthy run, and the film debuted during the heavy blockbuster months of summer, a classic example of studio counter-programming. But the large audience never materialized.
||Michael Martone's Double-Wide World Tour of Indiana
When you go to see Michael Martone's book reading (Oct. 3rd at the Firefly, Oct. 4th at the History Center), he'll encourage you, against modern protocol, to please leave your cell phones "on." After having busted some undergrads for texting during a recent reading, Martone decided that he wanted a piece of that action, and told the forced-to-be-there students to include him in the text discussion. They did, of course, and became much more engaged than they had imagined.
||Back to school blues
I think I'm one of the few sports fans in America who believes that spoiled-brat, millionaire pro athletes are underpaid for what they do and that most of them deserve huge raises in their next contracts.
||Best Christmas Pageant Ever
There's a great story going around Fort Wayne theatre circles, based on a real incident, that sounds so much like a made-up parable about smalltown stupidity and censorship that you'd swear it was invented by the guys who wrote Footloose. Fortunately, though it's all too true, and it goes like this…
It used to be with a perverse sense of pride that every July I could report that I had again avoided all of the Three Rivers Festival events, which was no small feat — I lived in West Central and it became somewhat of a challenge to avoid being spotted at any officially sanctioned TRF gathering.
As a classic solipsist I've refused to believe that the world exists except in its relationship to me, so, consequently, it's taken me quite a while to realize how profound many social crises have become in my city. I have to have everything happen before my eyes before I can register what's been obvious to everyone else.
||My Super Sweet Sixteen Graduation Party Prom
As a public service to the agricultural community I'd like to remind everyone that it's graduation season in Fort Wayne, and to warn area farmers that extra security will be needed to keep an eye on all the fatted calves roaming free in Allen County farms. Things will be slaughtered in the next few weeks, and garish, opulent spectacles will take center stage in innumerable domiciles across the county, as decent, well-meaning parents will collectively lose their minds and over-indulge their children in obscene celebrations of unhealthy proportions.
||Age of Conspiracy
I commit social sins on an almost daily basis, but the one that I really have to change is that I make eye contact with strangers. I'm naturally interested in people and I love to see what's going on in their faces, but in modern, paranoid times this practice comes across as a challenge and violates some established protocol about appropriate public interaction. I'm not looking for trouble, I swear, but I'm irreducibly curious and sometimes I put myself in tricky situations I should learn to avoid.
||Night of the Living Soccer Moms
Like the replicant in Blade Runner, I've seen some pretty awful things. I've forced myself to attend spectacles of depravity, I've willingly alligned myself with people I distrust, I've ponied up money and time to experience the seamier sides of life in Fort Wayne, all in the wan hope that I'd learn something edifying about the city I live in. Knowledge is power, the saying goes, but more than that I want to be a reliable witness to the spirit of the times here, to record with objectivity all aspects of social activity in my hometown, even the ones that terrify me with their dark and demonic power.
||The Rise and Fall of The Journal Gazette
Scott Bushnell's history of The Journal Gazette, Hard News, Heartfelt Opinions, has such an awful, rah-rah title that you fear it's going to be one of those flattering, vanity publications that companies spit out about their past, usually coinciding with centennial celebrations or important milestones. It's not, thank God; it's a highly entertaining, clear-eyed account of the paper's curious history, but you have to wonder what the marketing people were thinking when they printed the copy on the book jacket.
||Sin City at Home
The coming of spring brings a bounce to everybody's step, but to most of my degenerate gambler friends, the month of March is a time of unbridled optimism. The insane opening weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, the plethora of high profile, Kentucky Derby prep races, the fascinating match-ups in crunch time NBA basketball — March is the headiest post-football month on a gambler's calendar.
||Manis and learned behavior in Fort Wayne
Of all the great mysteries of the 20th century--who really kidnapped Lindbergh's baby, did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone, what crashed at Roswell--the one most pressing question on my mind is, Who came up with the idea of shouting "get laid, get f----d" in the middle of that keyboard riff in "Mony Mony?"
||Thanking the little people
Every January, it happens the same, depressing way. My earnest resolution is that I vow not to be such a vicious minded, cynical jerk in the upcoming year, and then, seemingly within minutes of my pledge, I notice that the Whammy award nominations have been released and instantly my resolve is shot and I become a snarling churl again. There's something about local awards shows that brings out the beast in me, that makes me want to rage and ridicule and fling contempt about and I'm almost powerless in its grip. I can't quite put my finger on why this is--celebrating local achievements in the arts sounds relatively innocuous, after all--yet I'm certain that there's something inherently diseased about the whole concept.
||Eccentric in Fort Wayne
Back in 2004, when the state of Indiana felt compelled to relieve me of my driving privileges, I walked everywhere, and in doing so I discovered two things about the city that I never previously noticed.
||Famous in Fort Wayne
I was in a play in Fort Wayne a few years ago and after a performance a woman approached me in the parking lot and asked me to sign a program from the show. I figured she was related to someone in the cast, and was just collecting signatures as a memento, but no, she just wanted mine. I found this to be radiantly bizarre, but I complied, anyway, and signed the program.
||Mythical Fort Wayne
You'll find Michael Martone's books in the "local authors" section in Fort Wayne bookstores, which has always felt wrong to me — he's been writing great stories for years and you'd figure his books should have graduated to the "Fiction and Literature" section by now. Of course, Martone is from Fort Wayne, and he places many of his stories in Fort Wayne and Indiana, yet I've never thought of him as a local writer. And frankly, the whole "local writers" section in bookstores has always depressed me a little; I can't help thinking that the books themselves seem to suffer an inferiority complex, cordoned off by themselves, as if they don't deserve to be on the same shelf as the Big Boys. It's as if their reason for being published had more to do with the authors being "local" than the authors being "writers," and by buying them you'd be performing some sort of benevolent civic gesture.
||Hell Night in Fort Wayne, part 3.
The following is a record of the final stops on my recent "heart of darkness" journey into some of Fort Wayne's most notorious night spots. I deliberately scheduled these stops for last because they made me the most anxious and I wanted to put them off until the very end.
||Hell Night in Fort Wayne, part 2
The following is an account of the middle portion of my recent excursion into Fort Wayne's seven circles of hell. The journey began at 8:00pm with dinner at Hooter's (part one), and ended seven hours later at a dive bar just south of downtown (part three.) This report follows the second, third, and fourth legs of my night, which began at 10:00pm and ended approximately three hours later.
||Hell night in Fort Wayne (part 1)
Socially, I'm a pretty intrepid guy, but I have to admit there are some bars and restaurants in Fort Wayne that look like such depraved hell holes that I've always been too scared to walk through their doors. For years, friends and acquaintances have assured me that some of these places aren't so bad, but I've never trusted them. These places are radioactive to me, and no matter how popular these establishments are with their regular clientele, I had no desire to ever set foot in any of them. Until last week.
||High School Musicals
One of my favorite jokes in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore happens at the end, when the prodigiously talented main character Max produces an original, blood and guts Vietnam War epic on the high school’s stage, complete with helicopters, automatic weapons, and explosions.
||When artists go bad (part 2)
Failure is inevitable to all artists, and unfortunately most aren’t able to destroy the evidence of their most notorious works. Every artist has that one, wince-inducing memory— the terrible performance, the disastrous opening, the idiotic design — that they can never get out of their mind. Learning to deal with the consequences of failure is necessary for the artist to develop, but it sure isn’t any fun. I asked a number of Fort Wayne artists to look back in horror at their worst moments in the arts, and they agreed to dredge up the ugliness. For them I give my thanks but also, this heartening reminder: Only the mediocre are always at their best.
||When artists go bad
There’s a great, telling moment in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1956 documentary The Mystery of Picasso where Picasso is working on a painting and the painting goes terribly wrong. The director has provided a transparent canvas so the audience gets to see the modifications and decisions that Picasso makes, and it’s fascinating to watch the great artist realize, after a few wrong choices, that what he’s creating is a mess.
||Critics in Fort Wayne
I received my first bit of honest, literary criticism in college, and it happened like this: I had been working on a short story for weeks, constantly revising it, and no matter how much effort I put into it, the story never caught fire. I showed it to a few friends, and they praised it to the skies, but I couldn’t tell if they were just being nice or if they truly thought it was worth a damn. I decided, finally, to be done with it, so I wrote a final draft and put the pages in a yellow legal pad.
||Book Review "Love Is A Mixed Tape" by Rob Sheffield
I usually don’t read memoirs because I’ve learned it’s hard to trust people when they talk about themselves. Writing about the major events in your life is tricky business, and it is a rare artist who can resist the impulse to distort the truth about what really happened to them. I’ve heard friends relate a story that I was a participant in, and, on the re-telling I couldn’t help but think, It wasn’t like that. This doesn’t make them liars, necessarily, it just illustrates how capricious memory and perception can be.
||Remembering Larry Life
For hundreds of people in the Fort Wayne theatre community, the news wasn’t just shocking and sad, it was incomprehensible. Larry Life died? I got the word about 7:30pm, and flatly refused to believe it: There’s gotta be some mistake here. Larry didn’t die. I figured at any minute I was gonna get another call saying, Sorry, Chris, we got it wrong. Didn’t mean to freak you out. Larry’s fine.
||Our man at Sundance
People will tell you they go to Sundance because they love film or they like to ski but they’re lying-- they’re there to see celebrities. And for celebrity stalkers, Sundance is the place to be in January, with the highest proportion of famous people to regular shmucks anywhere in the country.