Friday, May 20, 2011

Randy Savage Dies At 58

My brother and I discovered Randy Savage before his WWF glory days, before Miss Elizabeth and his love/hate relationship with Hulk Hogan.

Each Saturday in the early 80s the two of us would turn on the TV at 1pm to watch International Championship Wrestling. ICW was based in Kentucky, and owned by Savage's father, Angelo Paffo. Paffo ran an interesting promotion, complete with terrific talent and great story lines.

One of my favorite pro wrasslin' moments happend at an ICW taping. Ronnie Garvin hit Ox Baker in the mouth, knocked out Baker's false teeth, then stomped on them to dust in the ring. It wasn't a work, it was real. And really entertaining.

Savage and his brother, Leaping Lannie, had a great run in ICW before moving on to the WWF. They were great ring workers, and knew how to tell a story.

Randy Savage died today in Florida at age 58.

Thank you for all the memories.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Love And Other Drugs

There are many reasons to like Love And Other Drugs. There's Anne Hathaway's emotional performance, and her class-yet-sexy nude scenes. There's Jake Gyllenhall's mature, steady performance that that shows he's successfully making the transition to leading man. There's the in-depth look at some of the most important social topics of the last decade, namely health care and greed.

Did I mention Hathaway's nude scenes?

Despite all these positives, I didn't really care for the film. Or maybe I did. I'm unsure, and that's the problem with Love And Other Drugs. It lukewarm at best, despite solid performances and interesting storyline. The film starts zany and ends serious, and that uncertainty about what the film intends to be may be it's downfall.

The flicks worth seeing; just don't expect to be thinking about it the next day.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The King's Speech

I noticed several years ago, while walking through a hallway in a speech clinic that serves as a pre-professional training facility, a display of informational posters dedicated to speech disorders. Each was dedicated to teaching the public something about common disorders of articulation, anatomy, etc., with cutesy titles and cool visuals. One of the posters caught my eye; near the center of the display, in bold, beautifully colored blue letters, was a poster titled:


I was heartbroken.

What the poster told me, despite the best intentions of the author, was that the condition of stuttering was more important to the clinic than the individuals who come there for help. The clinic saw the condition as their primary focus, and the people who came there as simply the way in which the disorder was delivered to them.

Clearly, there was no thought given to how that title would affect the hundreds of people who came to the clinic weekly for treatment.

I hope the administrators of that speech clinic require students to watch The King's Speech. If they do, they will see that disorders -- of articulation, or anything else for that matter -- are simply one part in an otherwise full life of individuals. People are not defined by, nor should they be identified by, a label. When therapists realize that the deep, personal connection with clients helps build trust and leads to a reduction of symptoms, they become better clinicians.

Lionel Logue knew this. And King George VI benefited from it. And The King's Speech shows the process beautifully.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Rabbit Hole

It's probably cliche to begin with a discussion of how immense the pain resulting from the death of one's child would be. It's almost an unimaginable consideration, sort of like the "Who created God?" puzzle that ten year olds play with at night when they can't fall asleep.

"What would I do if..." I start, but can't finish. As if my simply uttering the rest of the sentence would put the act in motion.

Cliche or not, this is the perspective The Rabbit Hole brings to the audience. Lead by Nicole Kidman, who also produced the film, The Rabbit Hole takes the audience into the horrific world of parents who suffer from the death of their child.

A world where pleasure and recreation are avoided. Where any focus shifted off of grief and loss is met with guilt. A world inhabited by regular people trying to work through extraordinary circumstances. The sort of circumstances people should never, ever, have to face.

Thankfully, Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart go through it for me. With brilliance, with grace, and with authenticity.

One of the gems found in The Rabbit Hole is the relationship formed between Kidman's character and the teen who accidentally killed her son. It's a fragile relationship, and beautiful to watch evolve. Miles Teller is amazing in the role of Jason; his teen is angelic and angst, simultaneously.

I can't ponder the question, but I can watch others act out the experience and learn from it. And it's a lesson I never want to experience in real life.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Huntington, WV, On the Fly

I first became aware of Harvey Pekar in the 80s,when the American Splendor author did several guest spots on Late Night With David Letterman. Back in the 80s it seemed Dave was mostly throwing watermelons off high buildings, dressing up in Velcro suites and clinging to fabric-covered walls, or sparring with Pekar.

Pekar usually won.

Pekar died last summer at age 70. Before he passed away, though, Pekar spent time in Huntington, WV, where he participated in a book signing, then did a cameo in the independent film The Comic Book Lady.

His re-telling of that experience is in his latest book, Huntington, WV, On The Fly. You can pick up a copy at Comic World, at 4th Avenue and 12th Street.

One of the things I like best about this book is that it showcases a few Huntingtonians I know. Pekar gets the subtle charm and genuineness of Kathleen, the owner of Comic World, and the sincerity (and correct verbal rhythm) of her friend Shayne. Perhaps most fun for me, however, was seeing how my old friend Eric Meadows is portrayed in the book: quick-witted, slinging out dialogue with densely-packed references about movies few have heard of, and wearing funny hats.
 That's my buddy Eric!

Stop by Comic World and get a copy of Pekar's latest. And have them sign it for you before you go. It'll make a good read even better.