By February 12th ,we’ll (also) be finding Nemo.
Tag: Connie Wilson Page 2 of 6
“A Life Sustained” (Courtney)
Review appeared Saturday, December 10, 2011
“The thirty-one essays that make up Laughing through Life (Quad City Press, 2011) by Connie Corcoran Wilson represent a broad selection by this prolific writer, a collection of “hits,” if you will. TOpics range from anecdotes of everyday life to notable bits from the local news to coverage of the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections. They span a large chunk of time—at least 25 years. A fellow Midwestern woman, Wilson writes with honesty, an eye for detail, and without pulling any punches. She seems to always be searching for the kernel of levity in all interactions and stumbles upon some poignant life lessons along the way. My personal favorite detailed a conversation between the author and her cell phone company regarding her daughter’s phone usage: we all should be so bold. Corcoran’s observations are wry, and we might take a lesson from her willingness to say exactly what is on her mind.”
From “Read More Books” blog:
“An amusing book to read written by Connie Corcoran Wilson. I have to say that I really enjoy Connie’s sense of humor. She has written some interestingly funny essays and put them together in this book. There were several laugh-out-loud moments while I was reading the book that I can honestly say that, even as I am now thinking of them while I am writing this, I am still smiling…Connie has certainly experienced many interesting events, such as covering the 2004 and 2008 Presidential campaigns with press passes, which she shares in the book. I did find much of it to be quite humorous. I didn’t really expect to laugh as much as I did at the end of the book. Coincidentally, I am not speaking solely on the chapter which is entitled “The End.” Her conversational piece with the Verizon Guy was wonderfully amusing but, for me, the final laughing began with the ‘R.I.P. Gerard’ and continued all the way to ‘The End!’ I want to say ‘Thank you’ to Teddy Rose for putting this book in my hands. I agreed to read it and review it here, which I am very happy to have done.”
Here’s a link to the finale of the “Coldplay” set during the September 23 IHeartRadio show in Las Vegas.
A conversation with actor John C. Reilly is like talking to an old friend. He comes across onscreen in films like “Cyrus” as such a good-hearted, ordinary, normal guy onscreen. After the conversation with Reilly, (which took place on Wednesday, October 12, 2011), the Chicago-born-and-bred DePaul graduate who grew up in the Marquette Park area of Chicago, the impression is that he is just as down-to-earth and nice off-screen as he is onscreen.
When asked what reminds him of Chicago, Reilly says his first impression from way-back-when is the color green, in the schools and neighborhood of his youth. The Marquette Park area was a rough neighborhood (“The old Chicago lumbering into the future”) where the interiors and exteriors of the Irish/Polish neighborhood under “Daley I” were always green in various shades. Reilly said, “Market Park was the only place that physically attacked the Reverend Martin Luther King, before he was assassinated. ..Market Park and Johannesburg had to be two of the most prejudiced places on the planet at that time.”
Reilly, born May 24, 1965, did not grow up a child of great privilege. His Irish father ran an industrial supply linen company and Reilly was one of six children born to his Lithuanian mother. He made his screen debut in Brian DePalma’s “Casualties of War” in 1989 and met his wife, Alison Dickey, an independent film producer whom he married in 1992, on that film. Thanks to the various Chicago programs provided for youth by the city of Chicago, he was able to participate in drama and improv classes beginning at age 8. Music was almost always involved. His later role in the musical “Chicago” would stem from those early experiences and Reilly was even Grammy-nominated for the song “Walk Hard,” which he wrote and performed in the comedy satire “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.” In 2002, Reilly, a veteran of 50 films, was in 3 of the films nominated as Best Picture. He was also nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in the musical “Chicago.”
At DePaul, early in his dramatic training, Reilly was cast as the male lead in “The Way of the World,” a Restoration-era comedy by William Congreve. He soon decided, “This is boring. Being the leading man is not all it’s cracked up to be.” His discovery that character actor parts were more interesting “informed a lot of my later parts.”
Asked about whether he felt he was “a spokesman for your generation,” Reilly said, “I never felt like a spokesman of my generation. I try to portray people who have layers of meaning that you can peel back and expose.”
Q: What was the most fun you ever had on a movie set?
A: “’Boogie Nights’ (1997) was the most fun. “The 1997 film where Reilly wrote and performed “Feel the Heat” and portrayed Reed Rothchild predates his partnership in comedies with Will Ferrell. (Of Ferrell, Reilly said, “Will’s America’s Sweetheart…what can I say?” He added that the two have an almost brotherly rapport and are trying to find the time to make a sequel to “Stepbrothers.”
In commenting on “Boogie Nights,” Reilly noted that large chunks of that Paul Thomas Anderson film were improvised. “Paul Anderson and I made 3 great movies together (“Hard Eight” in 1997; “Boogie Nights” in 1997; and “Magnolia” in 1999). “Paul Thomas Anderson has what a great director needs, which is (1) a great photographic eye (2) the ability to be good at motivating groups of people and (3) the ability to be really enthusiastic about the project.”
When asked what actors or actresses he most wanted to work with, Reilly said that he has already worked with some of the best, including Meryl Streep and his current co-star, Tilda Swinton (“We Have to Talk About Kevin”). He suggested that he is more likely to select film projects based on directors with whom he wants to work, citing Terry Gilliam and the Coen Brothers as some on his “would like to work with” list.
Reilly also mentioned that he was recently asked to appear in “Carnage,” which is based on the French play “God of Carnage” that recently ran in Chicago. (The play is a dark comedy about 2 couples who meet to discuss the schoolyard fight that caused one boy to hit the other boy and knock his tooth out.)“I tried not to wet my pants when Roman Polanski called and asked me to do a movie,” said the humble Reilly.
Reilly said, “When I’m reading a script, I ask, is this how people talk?”(in helping him make a decision about whether to do a part.) “All a character can really control is the part he plays. Film is so much a director’s medium. You have to really focus on your part. I’m looking for stuff that’s different from what I’ve done before. You have to be careful what parts you choose. If you aren’t, you might find that you’ve created a big crappy snowball at the end of your life…An actor needs to try his best, show up every day with his best intentions. “
Asked whether there are any movies he is less fond of, Reilly noted, “I’ve seen them all. I’ve returned to the scene of the crime. You don’t put 6 months in and then don’t go see it. You can learn from even the ones you’re disappointed in. “Refusing to name any less-than-stellar roles, Reilly said, “It’s a miracle when one of them works. I’m not gonna’ kick a dog that’s down.”
Q: “How do you receive scripts now?”
After noting that the usual agent-to-actor filter applies, he joked, “They come by carrier pigeon now. If they are too heavy for the carrier pigeon to carry, then I don’t do it.”
Reilly is in an intense new independent film directed by Lynne Ramsay entitled “We Have to Talk About Kevin.” Ramsay, a 1995 graduate of the UK’s Film and Television School, had not done a film for 7 years. Reilly was interested in doing a film with Ramsay, the female British-born director of “Ratcatcher” and “Morvern Callar”), and sought her out. He found that Ramsay, as a director, knew exactly what she was wanted on set and would often call it a wrap after the first take
John C. Reilly’s advice to other would-be actors? “Be there. Be present. Listen and be enthusiastic. Notice what is going on between ‘Action’ and ‘Cut.’”
Chicago, IL, August 25, 2011 Colin Quinn, who spent 5 seasons as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” has brought his one-man show “Long Story Short” to Chicago from the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway and the Bleecker Street Theatre (Off-Broadway), where his one-man show played on August 25, 2011 at the Broadway Playhouse near Water Tower Place. The material involves a history of the world not unlike the one-man show Eddie Izzard used to perform (only not as funny) and is billed as “directed by Jerry Seinfeld,” a plot which has to help ticket sales. (There’s not a lot of Seinfeld-ian moments that show Jerry’s golden touch.) And, as noted by a different New York reviewer, Quinn, although a seasoned performer, seemed a bit uneasy on stage and did not interact well (or at all) with his audience.
Quinn always had a somewhat sarcastic personality on “SNL.” I don’t remember him doing much physical humor. His overview of the world, purporting to show how “the world has changed, but humankind has not” was improved by lighting designer Howell Binkley and production stage manager Daniel J. Kells, (among others.)
In other words, rather than come out onstage and stand there alone with a microphone, no props, and do jokes as most stand-up comics must, Quinn has chosen to perform amongst some prodigious props: a set that consists of an elaborate set of gold steps and pillars and a plasma screen that shows images of various countries and cities throughout history, which the comic then attempts to smoothly craft into a comedy routine. Covering all of history in 75 minutes can’t be easy. At the end of 75 minutes, I felt as though the reason the audience (which was on its feet) got no encore is that Quinn had no more material to share. And what about the material he did share?
Quinn had a few worthwhile one-liners, most of them courtesy of the Greeks. “An unexamined life is not worth living,” is followed up by “An examined life is not that interesting, either.” Timely comments about the stock market and the Greeks invention of theater follow. [To hear Quinn tell it, the Greeks only invented theater so that they could diss their neighbors with impunity; then their kids got hooked on it (television analogy)], which was followed by another classic rip-off: “I know now that I know nothing.” (Sophocles). [There’s no joke there, but that’s fairly representative of much of the show.
Yes, there are some funny throwaway one-liners and nobody knows how tough it is to write 75 minutes of onstage (or offstage) funny better than me (“Laughing through Life” is my latest book-length attempt at humor, and there’s an earlier book as well). So I’ll give him credit for making a good attempt, but I just kept thinking of Eddie Izzard’s brilliant HBO Special and, frankly, Eddie Izzard’s brilliant show is a hard act to follow by a less-talented mere mortal, who seems to be just a regular guy who likes to crack wise a lot and is not wearing attention-getting women’s clothing while delivering his set.
Quinn, a Catholic by birth, referenced going to Confession in a dark booth and likened it to “telling your secrets to a man who might have a poster of Justin Bieber on his wall.” He suggested that, given the Catholic Church’s recent troubles with pedophile priests, “They could lose the kneeling for a couple of years until things calm down.” At this point, Quinn was actually kneeling onstage. This foray into physical humor was atypical. Quinn isn’t really the kind of guy like the late great Richard Pryor or the current Dane Cook who does much physical humor. When he does, it seems rather forced and unnatural. It’s not his forte, and it showed, as when he referenced people who scratch themselves or poke you while you’re talking to them.
During the 75-minute act (no intermission), which began promptly at 7:30 p.m. and ended just as promptly at 9:00 p.m., with no encore, Quinn pretty much hit all of the past and present hot-spots in the world: Greek, Rome, Spain, England, Ireland, Israel (“Shalom means hello and good-bye because the Jews, wherever they go, get chased out immediately.” Made me wonder about Hawaiians, and “Aloha,” which also has that distinction). Holland, the Mayans, the Aztecs, Russia (“experts at perfecting depression”), Sudan, Canada (“Nobody wants to live there. There’s something about Canada that creeps people out. It’s like it’s 8 inches to the left. Even their national anthem is dismissive: “Oh, Canada.”)…Most of the world comes in for some comic jabs.
With lines (re the Australians) like “God bless those alcoholics…There are 6 planets closer to us than Australia is right now” and comparisons of the world today to a bar at 3:30 in the morning (“Iraq is in the parking lot. He says he has a gun. He’s talking shit!”) and ripping off those oh-so-hilarious Greeks time and time again (“We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle), Quinn has woven a Cliff’s Notes, or, in this case, a Quinn’s Notes version of history that has its moments.
Just not enough of them.
I took off for Atkinson, Illinois at 10:30 a.m. President Obama was to visit this village of 1100 people at 11:30 a.m. After 2 presidential campaigns, where the time of arrival is usually off by at least a half hour (His 3:30 stop in Alpha, for instance, did not occur until 5:00 p.m.) I was pretty sure that I’d beat the President to the flag-draped town 8 miles east of Geneseo.
I drove past Geneseo on Interstate 80, an approximate 30 to 40 minute drive, in the Grasshopper (my 2005 green Prius) and, at each overpass, I noticed police with police and highway patrol cars above me. At each turnaround there was a large orange piece of heavy duty equipment that would prevent anyone from doing a “turnaround”—even if turnarounds were not specifically prohibited by signage.
So, picture me humming “dum de dum dum” (although I was actually listening to the late, great Amy Winehouse sing “no, no, no” to the idea of going to rehab. )Up came the exit for Atkinson (pop. 1100) and I exited. I made the turn onto the overpass to the left only to have a highway patrolman frantically wave at me to “go back.”
Initially, I began back-pedaling like a kid stung by a wasp, but then I thought, “Wait a minute. How am I going to get into Atkinson if this is the exit and this guy won’t let me use the road?” (At that point, I had not yet thought of back roads.) I put the Grasshopper into Drive and slowly and cautiously inched forward to ask the nice highway patrolman where he suggested I should go. he didn’t say, “To hell,” but he might as well have, given the level of hysteria he projected.
“You’re on the entrance ramp!” he screamed, quite unnecessarily. “You’re just ahead of the motorcade!”
This was exactly as I had hoped would be the case: me waiting for a brief time, rather than spending my whole morning standing around in the hot sun waiting for a large black bus to breeze by me. One man I spoke to later said he had been outside since 8:00 a.m.
I finally backed up and took the ramp heading east towards Chicago, not quite sure what my next move should be. As I was speeding along on Interstate 80 to the east, I saw one of the turn-arounds that had, for some inexplicable reason, not been barricaded by large orange trucks. Despite signs suggesting that I not make a turn-around, I was headed in the wrong direction and getting nowhere fast, so I chanced it. Now I was, at least, heading back toward the overpass I was not being allowed to use to enter Atkinson. Since the first Smokey (yes, they were wearing those peaked hats) had been quite set against allowing me access to the delights of the village of Atkinson, I needed to figure out how I was going to access the town. I didn’t expect to be among the 300 people crowded into the Wyffel’s Seed Facility: those seats went fast and people got in line as early as 2:00 a.m. and still got shut out. I just planned to wander around in town and see what the mood of the populace was.
Would there be demonstrators, for or against the president’s visit? Would there be unpleasantness of the sort I had recently been subjected to, where a know-nothing graduate of Jefferson High School (in Independence, Iowa), a Bible-thumping seller of reverse mortgage programs who was “so proud” to be in the industry had called me both “stupid” and “godless” because I was not down with the Republican presidential candidates. I could envision some of these reverse mortgage engineers (think Fred Thompson), driving trucks with gun racks, getting in my face (or someone else’s face who had actually managed to gain admission to the tiny town) and being unpleasant. This was what I hoped to find out: just how unpleasant or pleasant would the populace be? What would the mood be “on the ground.”
I began heading back towards the overpass. It occurred to me that, since the first Smokey the Bear policeman had told me that the motorcade was right behind me, I could perhaps get a snapshot of the motorcade on its way across that very ramp, heading into town (something I was not having much luck doing.)
I drove as slowly as I could drive while on an Interstate and, about a mile from the overpass, while braking sharply, 2 cameras 2 maps, 2 notebooks and my purse all fell off the passenger’s side seat and fell to the floor. Turning on my signal, I pulled over to the shoulder of I-80 to pick up my camera equipment, et. al. By the time my head came up from under the dashboard, I was greeted by the sight of yet another Smokey the Bear look-alike burning rubber while accelerating his highway patrol car in reverse, heading towards the Grasshopper at warp speed.
“MA’AM! WE CAN’T HAVE THIS!”
“I know. My cheap Canon fell on top of my expensive Nikon!” (me)
(Smokey) “NO! I MEAN WE CAN’T HAVE YOU HERE!”
(Me) “But I AM here. I’m just waiting till the motorcade goes by so I can get into town.”
(Me) “Can I just pop out and take a picture of the overpass as the motorcade drives into town?”
(Smokey) Dumfounded. Incredulous look.
So, I once again drove down Interstate 80, this time driving back to the west, towards Geneseo. Since I was still laboring under the misconception that Obama had spent the night at the Blackhawk Hotel in downtown Davenport and, therefore, would be coming from the west, I briefly considered staying in the parking lot of the convenience store at the intersection and taking a photo from that vantage point.
Then I remembered that there was a back road to access Geneseo. I reasoned there must be a back highway to access Atkinson and I plugged in the Atkinson Town Hall as my destination of choice. Sure enough, Highway 6 would take me to Atkinson, and I began following the nice lady’s voice to drive town the flag-lined road and roam the small village.
As I drove aimlessly about in Atkinson, I was struck by the small-town look and feel of the boulevard-like main street, which, I noticed, had a corner tap that was open for business. I parked my car and strolled in to order a Diet Coke and test the waters.
“My grandfather came through here on the train when he arrived from Holland. He got off the train at this very bar, which has been open since the 1800’s, and had his first beer in America and he just decided to stay.” So, if he had bought his first beer in New Mexico, Mr. VanOpdorp might have been living in a much warmer climate.
Without asking anyone’s political designation, I asked Mr. and Mrs. VanOpDorp and others seated near me in the bar who they liked in the 2012 presidential race. “Do you think the Republicans will nominate Romney to run against Obama?” I asked, as the two plasma TV sets behind the bar showed President Obama’s remarks, live, on KWQC Channel 6.
“Naaah. The Republicans don’t have a dog in the fight, so far,” said Mr. VanOpdorp.
“You don’t think the Republicans have any good candidates?”
“What about Governor Perry of Texas?”
Apparently, the crowd inside the Corner Tap in Atkinson was either firmly Democratic or simply disinterested in the outcome of the election, but everyone in the bar was very interested in what President Barack had to say this day. All were listening intently and respectfully.
Later, on the streets of Atkinson, fathers held their young children on their shoulders to catch a glimpse of the President of the United States as he drove out of town in his big black bus, waving to all of us standing on the sidewalks waiting to catch a glimpse of him.
We’re here in Cancun, our first full day.
The pools and beaches are much less crowded than normal during “spring break” but this could be because “spring break” is over. Or, it could be that people are not traveling to Mexico, due to all the bad publicity. Or it could be because they’ve jacked the price(s) up on things like a massage (formerly $75, now, for three of us $297. (Yikes!). I got him to throw in a pass to the exercise/spa/hot tub room ($50 for the week) and one of our party is responsible for 1/3 of that amount. So, if you deduct the $50, I guess the expense (which is a birthday gift to daughter-in-law Jessica) is the same as last year’s amount, but everything seems more expensive.
We have two units in play: one is our “normal” 1st floor digs, with the 23-year-old daughter (Stacey) and her friend Emmie Futrell in residence in the second bedroom with its own bathroom. I love my 2-year-old granddaughters, but it is nice that the people in this unit actually sleep slightly later.
Today was the “Welcome Party,” which means free drinks (rum and cokes). I am so over the hoopla of throwing water balloons at one another and refuse to take part, as I have done for the past 10 years or so. The daughter and her father gamely took part, but the winner…believe it or not…was Elise, age 2, who somehow ended up with the only intact water balloon and “won” a bag from the establishment, which is handy for taking things to the beach. I thought ahead and had the spouse pack the “Chicago” bag I bought at the airport last year on our way here. It makes a perfect beach bag, and he said it wasn’t too difficult to get in on the bottom of his luggage.
The trip here was uneventful. We even had an empty seat between us in the set of 3 on American Airlines, which is unusual. Is this, too, a sign of the economic times?
There was a woman sitting in my aisle seat when we first reached our row, and she seemed very put out to be asked to take her own seat, which turned out to be in the middle. She spent most of her time prior to take-off sulking and turned on her laptop computer and began watching some cartoon or movie that featured dogs barking loudly. Since she had not brought headphones, it appeared that I would have to listen to her dog cartoon for the entire trip, but I was intent on ignoring her obvious pique at being asked to sit in her own assigned seat.
At that point, she summoned the stewardess and began some long involved tale about her husband’s pulled hamstring muscle and how he HAD to be sitting on an aisle. This was odd, because he was never seated on the aisle. He was seated against the exterior of the plane and SHE was seated on the aisle, the seat that was mine, which she really did not want to give up.
The stewardess kindly offered them places behind us so that her husband could have an aisle seat…, which was obviously not the issue, despite the woman’s clever oh-so-sweet explanations to the stewardess.
After their first move, next thing I heard was that they were moving AGAIN.
The first part of the trip was extremely bumpy. Even the stewardesses were told not to get out of their seats. There were storm systems and they buffeted us until we cleared Memphis, which did not seem like that long a time. One small child on the right side of the plane (age approximately 3) knew and shouted only 1 word for the entire trip. “NO!” There was a baby approximately six months old in that aisle, as well. The baby cried upon take-off, but was pretty well behaved, overall.
We arrived at our “home away from home” fairly early (noon) and learned that the shuttle prices from the airport have escalated from $12 per person to $16 per person. You must walk through the airport and outside near the front entrance of the airport to book a shuttle at the information desk. You must not be led astray by the many Time Share sales people standing there ready to pull you aside and book you into a Time Share “pitch.” As owners of 2 time-shares since 1995 or so, with a history of visiting for 3 years before buying (Fiesta Americana Condessa for 2 years and 1 year renting at the Royal Mayan), we know the drill.
This year, our time-share, the Royal Sands, has improved many things. The stove and microwave in our kitchen are new. All villas have wireless. New 32” flat screens have been installed in 3 places inside the units (2 bedrooms and the living room area).
We visited the store within the resort immediately and bought the basics. The “basics” this year cost $300 U.S. dollars. This seemed high, but we were expecting all 10 other members of the family fest to arrive at our unit and expect snacks and drinks. It’s always nice to be warmly greeted with hospitality. We will be here for 2 weeks, so we will definitely use the eggs, bread, margarine, pop, etc.
After the purchase of the groceries, the husband said, “If I have even one beer, I think I’ll fall asleep.” We had to get up at 5 a.m. in order to make our 8 a.m. flight.
As soon as the groceries (pushed to our first floor unit in borrowed grocery carts) were put away, my husband announced that he wanted to go sit outside by the pool. He had already unpacked his clothes. I had not, so I stayed in the room and unpacked my suitcase. At some point, I decided to just lie down for a few minutes.
An hour later when my daughter and her friend arrived from Nashville, I heard discussions about whether to wake me up. I immediately joined the group.
Soon, the 2 family groups with the young children arrived and now the party is in full swing. More on the rest of the week (today is Sunday), as it progresses.
One bit of good news: “Ricardo” (i.e., Richard), the one continuing presence in our close to 20 years of visiting Cancun, has returned to the Royal Resorts fold and we will see him for either lunch or breakfast on Thursday. Today was the Welcome Party. Tomorrow is the traditional Taco Party.
We spent the night watching “The Celebrity Apprentice” on TV from a Florida station. Gary Busey is obviously nuts. Very entertaining, but obviously a liability for the Men’s Team. Mark McGrath was very articulate and got kicked off. I think Donald Trump is doing all this “I’m running for President stuff” to get publicity for his show, among other pursuits.