Frank Fax Facts
Volume XVI, No. 26
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The weekend was kind to my football teams for a change: USM played its best game so far under Larry Fedora’s coaching and won over Kansas 31-16 Friday night at the “Rock”. It was televised by ESPN, and I made a good recording of it to share with Gerald Kutzman, when he finally returns from his world travels!
My other alma mater, Michigan State, knocked off Notre Dame yesterday (incidentally, they are the team that has beaten ND \more than any other.) Theirs is a true Rivalry, since they are so close geographically; and I have fond memories of “Sparty” (the teams mascot’s statue outside the stadium) being painted pink by ND’s fans prior to the games. Yesterday’s score was close (as usual) with MSU winning by a field goal.
Ours was the sole winner of MS’s Big Three,
Today, when Father Gorman and I had out brunch after Mass at his favorite Waffle Houses, we shared our second Apple-Cinnamon waffle. It is the latest innovation there, and is really “First Rate” (actually tasting more like walnut and cinnamon, to me). Then we went to the nearest WalMart for our grocery shopping (as usual) where I made my solo first drive of one of their motorized shopping carts! He has been using them all along, but I was reluctant to try one after Helen told me she had managed to knock over several store displays on her “Maiden Voyage”. Now, having survived the nervousness of my debut, I am happy to say that it is more fun than a barrel of kittens! I love it! And I arrived home much less exhausted than I had been in a long time.
“The great charm of cats is their rampant egotism, their devil-may-care attitude toward responsibility, their disinclination to earn an honest dollar…cats are disdainful of everything but their immediate interests.”"
“The Men Who Stare at Goats” (Overture)
Hands down, this is the most original comedy of the year! I have not laughed aloud so much in years!
George Clooney is a born comedian and gives one of his very best performances as a “Jedi Warrior”! Ewan McGregor is his “pupil”, alternating (at first) between amazement and disbelief as Clooney begins educating him in the practice of minimalist warfare. The technique was used first by Jeff Bridges (wonderful as a boozing commanding officer) Clooney becomes the perfect warrior, when he is the first in his outfit to cause a goat’s heart to stop beating, just by staring it in the eye for several hours. Kevin Spacey’s character is another wonderful surprise!
If you are in the mood for an offbeat masterpiece, I urge you to rent this one. This is a cult classic in the making, and I place it in the same category as ”Harold and Maude”! (***)
The Soloist (Paramount)
As happy a surprise as “Goats” was, this tiresome bit of un-realism was a disappointment. Though said to be a true story (most of it seems too fantastic for words) and touted as “Two of the year’s best performances”, Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx, and Oscar nominated Robert Downey, Jr. seem to sleepwalk or (worse still) overact to high heaven in this depressing story of a street musician (and former Julliard sensational cellist) who is “discovered” by “Newspaper journalist in search of a human-interest story” Downey (after Downey barely manages to escape from a wrecked automobile (and for the remainder of the film, has his face all botched up with makeup signifying his wounds). Foxx is a real “fruit cake” on whom the journalist spends almost his entire life (as well as what seemed to me, a considerable pile of money), trying to get the world to recognize Foxx’s genius. It seemed grotesque that the same actor who played Ray Charles to perfection, should miss the boat so completely here.
I’d like to be able to say something positive about the film, but the best thing I can do is advise you to save your time and the dollar I paid to rent it.
Frank Imbragulio’s School Days
When I see the children returning to school after less than three months of vacations, I realize just how lucky I was to have been born when I was. I began school in the third grade, having been “Home Schooled” for the first two grades. I was eight years old. Back then (1937) school began on the first Monday in September. That was Labor Day, of course. But schools back then did not get out for even half of the holidays they do now. Not in Richton, at any rate. Christmas, for instance, we were off from two days before Christmas until January 2nd. I remember how excited I felt when my older siblings were joining most of the high school students in a protest with signs that stated, “We want two weeks for Christmas!” Well, we never got it. I had felt as if I were in Russia (even though I carried no banners), in the middle of a communist demonstration---or something worse!
Another thing: Richton had only eight months of school. And the first two weeks of September, because Richton was basically a farming community, we had classes only from eight till noon. We were all dismissed so that children of farming families could help with the harvests.
The first day of school, Josephine insisted that Mama let her go with me, and that certainly offered me a great feeling of security. I can literally still feel her crowded with me on that small desk seat. These were the old-fashioned kind with the desk joined to the seat. My very first teacher, other than Mama and Helen, was Miss Effie Burns, It was love at first sight, I assured my sister that I was quite contented to remain with this adorable creature. And thus was my pattern of teacher-student relationship set for life.
I’ll never forget the appearance of the classroom that had to accommodate second and third grades. The entire front wall was covered with slate black boards: and above these were frame-like spaces with pictures of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
There were also some strange looking drawings (rather like cartoons) of Pilgrims and Indians- preparing us for Thanksgiving; and one of Santa Claus. I later discovered that the strangeness was caused by their having been reproduced on a copying machine, and that these very pictures were to be colored in class by us.
And I was colorblind!
This was a year or two earlier than Mississippi schools began furnishing free textbooks, so we had all had to purchase our schoolbooks from Stevens’ Store downtown. I delighted in the aroma of these new books, and still love that smell.
Miss Burns stood before the class and held the Reader up so that we could all see it, “Class, let us turn to page 13, and look at the first story,” There followed the sounds of all those books being opened and very little else. “Now,” our teacher continued, “Let’s start right here,” and she walked over to the first desk on the right, and indicated the student with a smile and a nod of her head/ The girl was someone who rode to class on a school bus, I knew this because
I knew all of the town children.
She wasn’t a bad reader, but she spoke so softly I could scarcely understand what she was saying.
She stumbled over one or two words, and Miss Burns patiently pronounced them and told us their meanings. When the girl finished her paragraph, I realized that I was the next one in line!