The War On Words

A monthly column in which we attempt, however futilely, to defend the English language against misuse and abuse

The Contest

Last month, readers were challenged to identify correct sentences, phrases or terms in the lengthy list in the column. Among the incorrect answers we received were expresso, lightening in a bottle, Volkswagon, prostrate problem, he was literally breathing fire and alot (the latter is automatically corrected by spell check). Several readers declared that nothing in the column was correct. One note: some readers understandably construed the directions to mean they were to identify any single item that was correct. Those who responded with one correct answer were given a chance to identify a second correct sentence or phrase.

Long-time reader Larry Kerchner argued for “We’ll return momentarily,” but being the old-fashioned prescriptivists that we are, we pointed out that such usage is correct only according to the second definition of momentarily: “at any moment, very soon.” The first definition is “for a very short time.” The word has unfortunately tacked (see more on tack below) toward definition 2 in recent years.
The winner was Scott Matthews of Newark, who identified “It’s all here” and “I’m loath to do that” as the only correct entries in the column. He gets a $25 gift certificate to El Diablo Burritos.
Thanks to all who participated.

Media Watch

• From the Wilmington News Journal, courtesy of reader Jane Buck: “Carney this year took a similar tact as his predecessor by proposing $10 million in cost reductions . . .” Some writers seem to think that tact is short for tactic. It’s not. What is meant in this case is tack, a sailing metaphor that means to change the direction of a sailboat by “tacking”—shifting the sails and turning the bow into the wind.
• Son Steven spotted this in an aol.com story on a hazing incident at Wheaton College: “The men are expected to turn themselves into authorities this week.” The missing space between in and to makes all the difference, creating the sense that the men are going to become authorities.

History Lesson

Reader Tricia Kramer asked us to explain the difference between historic and historical. OK: Historic denotes someone or something that is famous or important in history, whereas historical refers to something in the past. Historical novels or historical romances, for instance, refer to past times, but they are not of historic importance. So, simply put: historic—important; historical —old.

Hard to Believe, Harry

(Often uttered by the late Richie Ashburn to his broadcast partner, the late Harry Kalas, when something unbelievable occurred during a Phillies game)
A contestant on Jeopardy gave “laxadaisical” as an answer. The word, often mispronounced, is lackadaisical. Alex Trebek was only too happy to correct him.

Danglers

Dangling modifiers abound in today’s language-challenged media. Examples:
• David Murphy in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Besides winning the locker room, people seem to forget that the Eagles were pretty competitive on the football field last year.” Murphy, no doubt writing under deadline pressure. was discussing Coach Doug Pederson, so the sentence should have been something like this: “Besides winning the locker room, Pederson had the Eagles playing pretty well on the field last year, which people seem to forget.”
• From Sports Illustrated: “After rushing for 1,007 yards during the 19983 season, the Steelers abruptly cut Harris on Aug. 20, 1984.” Franco Harris rushed for that total, not the team.
• From the News Journal, in a story about Tilton Holt, marbles champion: “Born in Buena Vista, Georgia, in 1938, family members said Holt had a very sharp mind . . .” Holt was born in Buena Vista, not family members.
• Reader Janet Strobert saw this in a LifeDaily post on Facebook: “After 200 years deep beneath the earth, two farmers made this groundbreaking discovery.” Says Janet: “After 200 years under ground, l wouldn’t be making many discoveries.”

Department of Redundancies Dept.

“I’ve been a life-long Chargers fan since birth”—a Los Angeles bus driver, quoted in USA Today.

Need a speaker for your organization?
Contact me for a fun PowerPoint presentation on grammar: ryearick@comcast.net.

Follow me on Twitter: @thewaronwords

Word of the Month

mythomania
Pronounced mith-uh-MAY-nee-uh, it’s a noun meaning an abnormal tendency to exaggerate or lie.

At Theatre N: The Unknown Girl

Adèle Haenel plays Jenny in The Unknown Girl. Photo courtesy of Sundance Selects

Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have been quietly impressing European audiences and critics alike for the last 20 years with their observant cinematic dramas that champion the downtrodden and the outcast in society. Their work —which includes Rosetta (1999), L’Enfant (2005), Rust and Bone (2012), and Two Days, One Night (2015)—has garnered numerous awards at film festivals, including two Palme D’Or and a Grand Prix at Cannes. Yet, sadly, their talents are little known in the U.S., except to the ardent fans of Marion Cotillard (who has starred in several of their films).

The Dardennes, who write, direct, and produce their films, continue their neorealist exploration of modern European life with their latest, La fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl). Like most of the Dardennes’ oeuvre, this film doesn’t succeed because of its dynamic structure or rousing performances or directorial showmanship. Instead, it subtly, insistently drills down into the lives of its characters with an unflinching honesty and deliberate lack of distracting cinematic effects.

The Unknown Girl is a simple story. Jenny Davin (played by a winsome Adele Haenel) is a hard-working, earnest young physician. At the end of a long day of seeing her working-class patients, she refuses to open her door after hours to a troubled but unknown teenage girl. When that girl turns up dead the next morning, Jenny’s guilt and curiosity lead her on an obsessive quest to learn the identity of the girl and unravel the mystery of her final hours.

In true neorealist fashion, Jenny’s quest does not produce answers or a tidy resolution, but it does explore the dehumanizing realities of daily life for the down-and-out. The Unknown Girl is not a film for those seeking entertainment or escape, but it is a testament of the power of film to depict our shared, if sometimes disregarded, humanity.

Also at Theatre N in October: Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s classic in time for the sequel (10/5 only); Ingrid Goes West, uneasy comedy with Aubrey Plaza as the ultimate fangirl (10/13 weekend), and Tales of an Immoral Couple, a Mexican romantic comedy by Manolo Carol (10/27 weekend). For specific dates and times, visit theatren.org. 

Slick Spy Parody Showcases Elaborate Stunts

Nattily-dressed Taron Egerton is superspy "Eggsy" in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Photo Giles Keyte / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

*On the mark: This is Mark Fields’ 10-year anniversary as our film critic.

Julianne Moore’s unhinged villain highlights Kingsman sequel

The stalwart James Bond spy franchise has sparked several game attempts at parody over its 50-year dominance of worldwide box office numbers, though at times the series itself became cartoony enough to defy spoofs (I’m looking at you, Pierce Brosnan). But now that 007 has returned to a more serious tone with Daniel Craig as Bond and Sam Mendes in the director’s chair, it seems there is an opening for a rollicking take-off. In 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service was successful enough to prompt a sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Based on a comic book called The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, the two Kingsman films imagine a nattily dressed independent spy ring hidden beneath a Saville Row tailor shop. The first film showcased Colin Firth as a most unlikely superspy with Taron Egerton as his working-class protégé, Eggsy. Eggsy is back in The Golden Circle as a full-fledged and confident agent when the entire Kingsman network is inexplicably wiped out by a mysterious and ruthless foe. Eggsy eventually finds his way to the U.S. to link up with a parallel American secret spy group, Statesman, and they set out to defeat the threat.

But don’t make the mistake of taking any of this too seriously. The Golden Circle is played by its cast and its high-octane director, Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Stardust), purely for fun. And fun it is, from the outlandish and frenetic stunts to the elaborate production design to the tongue-in-cheek performances and finally to the extended and hilarious cameo of a certain flamboyant British rock pianist.

In addition to Firth (who drolly riffs on his prim cinematic image) and the affable Egerton, the cast also includes Mark Strong as the capable technician enabling the Brit field agents; a surprisingly dressed-down Halle Berry as his American counterpart; Channing Tatum; Pedro Pascal, and a number of other familiar faces, all obviously having a lark with this amusing trifle of a cinematic thriller. 

That said, the stand-out is Julianne Moore as Poppy, the nefarious drug lord behind all the mayhem. Her unexpected take on a spy supervillain is a thoroughly off-kilter cross between Goldfinger and Donna Reed (ponder that for a moment!).

The stunts are well-done and deliciously over the top, and the whole film is lushly eye-catching. Kingsman: The Golden Circle doesn’t aspire to much more than being wittily and thrillingly entertaining, but sometimes that just what the arch nemesis ordered.

Also appearing at nearby theaters in October: Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to the sci-fi classic directed by Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve (10/6); Marshall, featuring Chadwick Boseman as the esteemed Supreme Court Justice in an early civil rights case (10/13); and Suburbicon, a George Clooney-directed thriller from a script by Coen Brothers (10/27).

Battle of the Bands

Top right clockwise: Carrier, Cologne, TreeWalker and Rusty Blue.

This year’s Musikarmageddon brings together musical veterans, new bands, and long-time pals

Diversity reigns in the 11th annual Musikarmageddon battle of the bands, which features groups Carrier, Cologne, TreeWalker and Rusty Blue. The final face-off for the four bands will be Saturday, Oct. 14, live at the baby grand at 8 p.m. One band will leave as the victor.

Perhaps the most seasoned group to take the stage is Newark-based post-hardcore Carrier, made up of singer/guitarist Jordan Maguire, bassist Chris Heider and drummer Tim Heider. Veteran singer/guitarist Maguire took part in one of the first Musikarmageddon competitions almost a decade ago. Meanwhile, this is the very first competition for Cologne. In fact, the group has only been playing shows since June. That’s not to say they should be underestimated—members of the band all come from different musical backgrounds and tastes, but unite with melodic guitar work, rhythmic bass and drum patterns, sweeping ambient synthesizers and emotional yet catchy vocal melodies.

Their energy reverberates throughout the room, says guitarist Sean Jones. “We feed off the energy of the crowd and want everyone to feel like they can let loose and have a great time,” he says.

Cologne, made up of Jones, Brian Wyatt (bass), Staph Noumbissi (vocals), Jon Crist (drums), and Jon Lee (synth), expects to release their debut EP before the Musikarmageddon finale.

Another Newark-based group, TreeWalker—participants in last year’s competition—is back, bringing a blend of aggressive grooves, seasoned songwriting, and soulful vocals that pair catchy hooks with imaginative storytelling. Says vocalist/guitarist Kirby Moore: “I think one thing we bring to the table is experience. We’ve been in this competition before and we kind of know what to expect this time around. Last year we went into it not really knowing how it was all going to play out.”

Hailing from Wilmington—with all members still in high school—Rusty Blue’s hard rock sound screams “We’re young and we have to be heard,” says bassist Joey Heins. “Our music style brings something youthful and fresh to the competition. We’ve all been in this band for almost three years now and we know that without each other’s support through everything we’ve all been through, we would not be the guys we are today.” In addition to Heins, those “guys” are vocalist and guitarists Gregory Stanard and Clayton Milano, and drummer Damien Pace.

Pam Manocchio, director of community engagement at the Grand, couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s range of styles. “It’s energizing to see and hear the diversity in musical voices that are out there today,” she says. “Whether they are winning this competition or continuing to develop their sound, or getting ready to burst onto the music scene in other ways, they all deserve recognition for creating new music.”

And the bands are the embodiment of friendly competition. Says Heider, Carrier’s bassist: “To us, music is a community and to find out who is ‘the best’ is not something we normally think about. We just hope the competition pushes everyone to give it their all and to play our hearts out. As long as we leave this competition with some new musically-inclined friends we will be happy.”

Visit thegrandwilmington.org/musikarmageddon for tickets.

5 Questions with Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind

Stephan Jenkins (center) and Third Eye Blind look to rock The Queen on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Photo courtesy of Third Eye Blind

Audience.

It’s a word and a concept that comes up again and again during a phone interview with Stephan Jenkins, Third Eye Blind’s co-founder, lead vocalist, and force majeure.

As Jenkins explains, whether it’s older fans going all-in with the band’s newer music, or newbies discovering the band’s hits from the ‘90s, he’s overjoyed that there are enthusiastic and engaged listeners out there who enable the band to continue to play, tour, and record new music.

A little more than two decades ago, such a dream seemed unattainable for Jenkins. Living in a shared apartment in San Francisco with other struggling 20-somethings, he had dropped out of graduate school to pursue a full-time career as a musician.

It was years of struggling with little income, making do on coffee during the day and lots of cheap spaghetti dinners.

“Ramen noodles,” Jenkins says with a laugh. “Spaghetti dinners were for special occasions only!”

That special spaghetti dinner was surely on the menu the night the band signed its deal with Elektra Records, which led to a debut album that not only drastically changed the trajectory of Third Eye Blind, but featured songs that would define the late ‘90s.

“Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper,” and “How’s It Going to Be,” all hit the Top Ten, and the album itself remained on Billboard Hot 100 for two years.

The success shocked everyone involved. Particularly Jenkins.

“I come from the DIY, indie ethos,” he says. “That was always my mindset, and I was always surprised when anything other than that happened.” 

In advance of Third Eye Blind’s Wednesday, Oct. 11, show at The Queen, Jenkins, who is now 53, spoke to us about those early days, about the music business right now, and his metaphysical take on the spirit of the season.

Here’s what he had to say:

O&A: In a way, it’s kind of a trope: the starving musician who scores a hit album and suddenly becomes famous. But that really is the story behind the band, isn’t it? Or is that oversimplifying it?

Jenkins: Yeah, it does simplify it, because I spent years trying to get bands together to no avail. There was always a revolving set of musicians and trying to get studio time, with year in and year out, nothing to show for it—except that I was constantly developing as a songwriter and a producer. ?

By the time I actually had a record deal, I had developed real chops as a producer, enough so that a lot of my demos became songs on the first record, and I got to produce my first record. So, the time actually was well-spent, but it certainly didn’t feel that way when I was coming along.

O&A: From when you were first starting—and struggling all those years—to when it finally hit, how does it look 20 years later?

Jenkins: Time is always a blur. I still have lots of friends in San Francisco. I mean I have some who are 26 and 27, who are still living six or seven people to a flat and one bathroom, and just trying to make it all work.  That’s where I was [at their age]. And I’ll still come over and sit in the kitchen and make spaghetti. All of that is still something that I know.

But I also have all kinds of different access. Looking back on it, I think [whoever] I was at that time evolved and changed. I can look at that person and be more empathetic to who I was at the time than I perhaps I was for myself when I was actually living it.

O&A: From where you started to where things are today, the music industry has changed so dramatically. In 1997, you were there at the end of an era in terms of the big record companies. How do you compare the way things were to the way they are now?

Jenkins: Well, you were a lot more controlled [then]. There were a lot more gatekeepers [who] had a lot more control over what could happen. There was also the opportunity to actually make money selling records. And now there’s a lot more freedom and a lot less money.

I kind of prefer it now. I think these are the good ol’ days right now.  [Back then] I wanted to bite the hand that fed me, and I didn’t like it that you had to be on MTV—or that you had to be on radio—to reach an audience, [Or] that the record company could tell you what kind of music video to make.

Those things bothered me because, however it may sound, I actually am an artist. I’m not a song-and-dance man and I’m not there to fit into somebody else’s mold. I think I measure things more in terms of a happiness quotient now. I’m definitely a lot happier now.

O&A: Your last record, Dopamine [released 2015], got good reviews. And you’re a band that’s still touring 20 years after releasing its first record. How does that feel? I mean there aren’t a lot of bands from the ‘90s who can say that.

Jenkins: No, not very many. I mean there’s… [pauses to think] Green Day, Foo Fighters, Chili Peppers, Weezer and us. That’s about it. I mean, it’s great. I’m grateful. But I had nothing to do with it. It’s our audience that does that. I have an audience that keeps our music alive. The music resonates with our audience and illuminates as they are living now. And that’s probably one of the most beautiful, best-feeling gifts that I’ve ever received being a musician.

We have a bigger audience [than we did in the ‘90s]. We have a more dedicated audience. You just can see it at the shows. There’s an intensity, and we are comprehended in a way that is beyond what it was before.

O&A: This last question might sound like it’s coming from left field, but for this October edition we’re talking a lot about ghost stories and the paranormal. I’m curious: Have you ever had an experience that you would say was paranormal that you’d like to share with our readers?

Jenkins: What first comes to my mind is something different, which is that Sept. 22nd is the equinox. And October is the period of the equinox, and that’s a time, according to folklore, when witches’ powers are at their greatest because the day and night are evenly split. Anything can happen.

It’s this sense of ambivalence: witches’ powers come up at midnight and the crossroads. It’s all these kinds of things that I can actually feel. So it’s like your own magic, witchy powers become more available. This is why it’s my favorite time of the year because I have this sense that anything could happen. Magic could happen.

So I think it’s important for people to tap into their own sense of that. Because we are, in part, moved and influenced by the movement of the planets. It’s not a joke that when you got a full moon that you feel a little bit more crazy. And you didn’t even know it was full—you’re just acting that way. So, I invite everyone to celebrate their own magic powers.

Dressed to Thrill

38th Halloween Loop set for Saturday, Oct. 28

To say the Halloween Loop is Wilmington’s grandest nightlife tradition is no exaggeration. The event is older than most of its attendees.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, Wilmington’s biggest night out continues as 12 clubs join forces to host this revered citywide costumed pub crawl. Everyone 21 years or older is invited. The official start is 8 p.m.

“In terms of annual nightlife events in Wilmington, nothing really compares to the Halloween Loop,” says Jim Miller of Out & About Magazine, the presenting sponsor of the event. “Three things make it such a supremely successful series: longevity, draw, and spectacle.”

This year’s Loop lineup includes Catherine Rooney’s, Chelsea Tavern, Dead Presidents, Ernest & Scott Taproom, FireStone, Gallucio’s Café, Grotto Pizza, Kelly’s Logan House, Lavish, Timothy’s Riverfront, Trolley Oyster House and Trolley Tap House. A one-time $10 cover gains you admission to all participating Loop venues. Attendees will receive a wristband upon paying the cover.

New this year is a partnership with Lyft, the nationwide ride-on-demand company. A special code will be printed on all wristbands, entitling attendees to a free or discounted trip (depending on their destination) on their first use only. It’s one discount per caller, but if you work as a team your group can utilize Lyft all night for minimal cost.

“We’re proud to partner with the 38-year-old City Loop Series to ensure attendees can rely on Lyft for a safe and convenient ride on demand,” said Andrew Woolf, general manager, Lyft Pennsylvania, Delaware. “Across the country, Lyft partners with brands and organizations to help passengers get home safely and I’m thrilled to be offering that same opportunity to Delaware residents and visitors.”   

As for your Halloween Loop attire, dress to impress. By that we mean creativity is king when it comes to a costume. So don’t come as a cowboy, a Philadelphia Eagle or a Playmate. Think Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Sean Spicer, Justin Bieber…

There is no official starting point to the Loop. You simply select the nightspot you’d like to visit first, pay the cover charge, and receive a wristband that gains you admission to all other Loop venues without paying another cover.

Here are a few other Halloween Loop tips:

• Costumes are strongly recommended. This is a costumed bar crawl. Many venues have prizes. In fact, the Loop Patrol will be awarding on-the-spot prizes for costumes that catch their eye.

• Make it easy on yourself and have Lyft pick you up at your house. Then you’ll never have to worry about driving or parking.

• Wear a comfortable costume. Make sure it allows you to see where you are walking and use the rest room with ease. And make sure it doesn’t cause you to become overheated (Venues get very crowded on the Loop).

• Get there early. Lines begin forming by 9 p.m.

• If you don’t use Lyft, designate a sober driver or plan to stay in the city for the evening at a friend’s place or one of the city’s five hotels. There are also several complimentary Last Call Lots where you can leave your car overnight and pick it up the next day.

For a list of venues, Last Call Lots and updates on the Halloween Loop, visit outandaboutnow.com.

The Playhouse is Back

The Wizard of Oz is coming to The Playhouse Nov. 14-19. Photo courtesy of The Playhouse on Rodney Square

…and you can become a partner in its success

The Playhouse has an exciting Broadway season coming up, complete with four full-week productions and two special weekend engagements. After three years under The Grand’s management, the entire Playhouse staff is thrilled about the direction “Broadway in Wilmington” is headed and about the transformation that has already occurred.

To usher in the new season, The Playhouse has introduced a patron loyalty program, called Playhouse Partners. This initiative is designed to reward subscribers for sharing information about performances, capitalize on word-of-mouth advertising and increase audiences and overall downtown visitors throughout the year.

Playhouse Partners gives existing subscribers a rebate when they bring a new subscriber to the Playhouse.  For every new referral subscription generated, the existing subscriber receives a $20 rebate—and the new patron will save the same $20.

“We created the Playhouse Partners program as a reward for those subscribers who actively assist us in building that audience,” says Playhouse Executive Director Mark Fields. “They benefit in two ways: a secure future for Broadway shows at The Playhouse and a little cash back in their pockets. It’s a win-win.”

Dorothy (Cassie Okenka) and Toto (Snickers) from the 2008 tour. Photo courtesy of The Playhouse on Rodney Square
Dorothy (Cassie Okenka) and Toto (Snickers) from the 2008 tour. Photo courtesy of The Playhouse on Rodney Square

Initial response to the program has been positive. “We wanted to find a way to mobilize current subscribers to help us rebuild a regional audience for high-quality musical theater,” Fields says. “After all, they understand the value first-hand, and a stronger base of support for us means a steady supply of shows for everyone to enjoy.”

And more changes are coming. With the sale of the Hotel du Pont, both staffs are seeing positive changes in the partnership and communication between the hotel and theater. The construction underway has created its unique set of challenges, but both organizations are excited to see this relationship create cross-pollination opportunities between theater patrons and hotel guests.

“As we continue to make the attending experience inside the theater as great as it should be, we are pleased that the Buccini/Pollin Group is working to make the building itself more inviting, more varied, and more enjoyable than it has been in recent years,” Fields says. “The coming years will see upgrades to the Hotel, a new food hall, reinvigorated retail, and eventually residents in the building.” 

Fields recognizes that it will take a while to bring about these improvements, and there will be some temporary inconvenience. But, he says, when it’s all done, the building will be transformed into a real showplace, where everyone will want to go and of which everyone can be proud.

Go Over the Rainbow

The Playhouse season begins with what is possibly the greatest family musical of all time, The Wizard of Oz, touching down with eight performances, Nov. 14-19. This magical production—a celebration of the 1939 MGM movie classic—includes breathtaking special effects that will sweep audiences away from the moment the tornado twists into Wilmington. Tickets are on sale now at ThePlayhouseDE.org or at 888-0200. They start at $40.

Leading the cast as Dorothy is Kalie Kaimann, who previously played the role for the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. Chris Duir will play the role of Scarecrow/Hunk; Christopher Russell portrays Tinman/Hickory; and Victor Legarreta portrays the Lion/Zeke.

The other leading roles include: Emily Perzan (Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West); Kirk Lawrence (Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz); Ashleigh Thompson (Aunt Em/Glinda); and Michael Weaver (Uncle Henry/Gatekeeper).

Most important, everyone wants to know who will play Toto. That would be Murphy, a white Brussels Griffon/Cairn terrier mix with scruffy fur and an adorable underbite.  Murphy was rescued from the Chandler, Ariz., ASPCA by Lizzie Webb, music director for The Wizard of Oz tour. This will be his second time playing Toto. He even has his own hashtag: #montanamurphy.

Director Dean Sobon previously created the national tours of Fiddler on the Roof and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Amy McCleary, director/choreographer of the national tour of Memphis: The Musical, will create the magical choreography. 

As expected, the production will feature all the classic songs by Harold Arlen: “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead” and “If I Only Had A Brain.”

This opening production promises to captivate the entire family as you travel down the yellow brick road for an unforgettable day at the theater. For more information visit wizardofoztour.com or theplayhousede.org

Literary Café Features Author Jeff Hobbs

Christina Cultural Arts Center leads off its 71st year by unveiling the The Literary Café, a free community program and a partnership with New Castle County Libraries/NCC Community Services.

“For young people to gain a passion for reading, it’s critical for them to observe adults reading and engaging,” notes CCAC Executive Director H. Raye Jones Avery. “Our Literary Café takes the private experience of a great read to the next level by connecting authors and community, and enabling literature lovers to form relationships through robust discussions.”

The first edition of the Café welcomes New York Times best-selling author and Kennett Square native Jeff Hobbs, who will discuss his book, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. Hobbs graduated from Tower Hill School, followed by Yale in 2002. His work is a haunting nonfiction story with a title that is tragically revealing. Hobbs and Peace were roommates at Yale, and the book is filled with questions about Peace’s life and whether anything could have saved him.

“Our first pick for the Café season is masterfully written by a regionally born author,” Avery notes. “Jeff Hobbs’ work serves as a catalyst for readers to consider how they might redirect loved ones from ‘no return’ toward self-fulfillment.”

The public is invited to join the conversation on two dates—Friday, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m., at the Route 9 Library & Innovation Center in New Castle, or Saturday, Oct. 21, 3 p.m., at CCAC in Wilmington. Both will be facilitated by Hugh Atkins, former English Department Chair at Tower Hill School, who taught Hobbs. The events are free, but advance registration is encouraged at ccacde.org.

CCAC enjoys a longtime partnership with Atkins and the Wilmington Public Library, which makes this new collaborative venture with the Rt. 9 Library special. In the future, Avery notes, there will be more programs from CCAC in which literature and youth literacy take center stage.

DTC’s 39th Season Delivers a 1-2 Punch

Delaware Theater Company brings a true-life narrative of sports history and racial unrest to the stage in its debut of the one-man powerhouse, Dare to Be Black: The Jack Johnson Story.

Against the backdrop of an intolerant turn-of-the-century America, Jack Johnson – the first acknowledged black heavyweight boxer (1908-1915) – tells his story, through solo performer and play author Tommie J. Moore.

“Jack Johnson was an African American before his time,” says Moore. “He did things in the late 1800s and early 1900s that some would call suicide.”

A controversial figure in the boxing ring and in his personal life, Johnson made headlines for his interracial relationships during the Jim Crowe era. After wresting the heavyweight title from Tommy Burns in 1908, he married Etta Duryea, a white woman, in 1910. Johnson then became the target of white supremacists, who sought a white boxer—”The Great White Hope”—to defeat him. Ultimately, Johnson was arrested twice for illegal transport of white women across state lines. He was convicted, and spent a year in prison. More than a century later, there is a movement to have Johnson posthumously pardoned.

Moore wrote the story as a monologue in one week. He says he felt a need to tell the story. “I know he’s passed away, but this is more about the need for an apology,” Moore says, adding that a pardon would bring focus to the forgotten boxer and the racism that stigmatized the memory of his career.

This hard-hitting journey runs Oct. 25 through Nov. 12. Tickets can be purchased online at DelawareTheatre.org or call 594-1100.

Worth Trying

Suggestions from our staff, contributors and readers

Kohlrabi

This root vegetable has been variously described as “the ugliest vegetable you’ve ever loved,” “what happens when broccoli and cabbage get married,” and “a cross between an octopus and a space capsule.” Kohlrabi is suddenly semi-trendy, but I learned about it years ago from my grandmother, who grew it in her backyard garden. It’s crisp and juicy either raw or cooked (it can even be used in pies), and it has plenty of nutrients and antioxidants. Hard to find, but usually available at the 7 Day Farmers Market on Lancaster Avenue—site of the former Pathmark.

— Bob Yearick, Contributing Editor

Desert Rose, Media, Pa.

Desert Rose is a Mediterranean restaurant that opened a couple of years ago on State Street in Media. They are famous for their chicken shawarma that comes with cabbage slaw, cucumbers, tomato, hummus and tahini. The chicken is cooked on a spit for a long time and tastes amazing. The restaurant also offers exquisite appetizers, such as grape leaves. And to finish off any meal at Desert Rose, I highly recommend their authentic Turkish coffee. Worth the trip across the Pennsylvania line.

— Zuny Jamatte, Catalyst Visuals Intern

Maiale’s Mexicano Burger

No pun intended, but Maiale is on a roll. For our Breakfast Edition in April, we highlighted Maiale’s hearty breakfast sandwich, which was so satisfying and filling that our production manager, Matt Loeb, said he “didn’t need to have another meal until dinner.” Little did we know, but more accolades were to come.

Last month, Maiale won in the Restaurant Division in the 10th Annual Farmer & The Chef competition. The first-place finish came just weeks after their People’s Choice win at the annual Delaware Burger Battle. That champion burger—The Mexicano—is now available at Maiale (at the Cannery on Lancaster Avenue) for just $10. With pickled onions, cheddar and chipotle mayo atop a chili-and-cilantro-flavored beef patty, it’s packed with flavor.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

A Farm Fresh Experience

Strolling around bucolic Ramsey’s Farm, you wouldn’t imagine you are less than a mile from the hustle-bustle of the Route 202 corridor. And that is why Ramsey’s (500 Ramsey Rd., Wilm.) is such a local treasure. Fall is prime time for the Ramseys, who have operated the farm for 180 years. The six-generation farmstead offers city dwellers and suburbanites the complete farm-fun menu, including evening hay rides, bonfires, multiple mazes and pumpkin picking. You can simply pop in (check hours first) or plan a group outing by visiting RamseysFarm.com.

— Jerry DuPhily, Publisher

The War On Words

A monthly column in which we attempt, however futilely, to defend the English language against misuse and abuse

Win a $25 gift certificate for El Diablo Burritos: Identify any sentence, phrase or term below that is correct. Prize goes to the first person to email the correct answer to ryearick@comcast.net.

Just between you and I. | Exact replica. | Pouring over the material. | Your an idiot. | Should have ran. | Bring me to the ball game. | He was literally breathing fire. | It would have shrank. |  It sunk. | It would have sank. | He graduated college. | He’s an alumni. | Not that big of a deal. | He squashed the meeting. |  I myself personally. | The point is is that. | It mitigates against that. | It’s the principal of the thing. | He made a 360-degree change. | Sitting in the library, fire sirens went off. | He found the mother load. | It runs the gambit. | Discuss between the three of you. | Enclosed please find herewith. | RSVP please. | I’m loath to do that. | She’s laxadaisical. | He’s expecially fat. | You can not do that. | No one is like that no more. | Use an axterisk. | Great players, like, i.e., Babe Ruth. | Déjà vu all over again. | Mano y mano. | Irregardless of the situation. | I could have wrote that. | She supposably likes wine. | He ate the whole entire thing. | He has prostrate problems. | Last year, they lead the league in errors. | There are less calories in light beer. | He ate a large amount of burgers. | More stricter laws are needed. | Her peripheal vision. | He’s an intragral part of the team. | In lieu of the snow, we are closing. | For all intensive purposes. | The storm wrecked havoc. | The Phils are flustrating. | I seen the accident. | You should have saw what I saw. | I would have did it different. | I feel badly. | I’m done my homework. | Family heirloom. | It’s apple’s and orange’s. | She told an antidote. | Past history. | Future plans. | Pre-planning. | The office needs stationary. | Very unique. | End result. | Ultimate outcome. | The general consensus of opinion. | Mutual cooperation. | Alternative options. | I’ll have a cup of expresso. | It had no affect on me. | He’s adverse to sharing. | Did you just infer that I’m stupid? | He has a hairlip. | You shouldn’t have drank that. | Drinks are complementary. | She is a Christian women. | There not going to the party. | Alls you have to do. | I was happy, really jubulant. | It depends on your prospective. | Hone in on the target. | Tough road to hoe. | Thanks Joe. | Here you are Sam. | Director, Joe Smith ran the meeting. | I know!!! | All of the sudden. | I could care less. | Precise estimate. | On accident. | The Smith’s live here. | He can score the ball. | He gets a lot of YAC yardage. | She drives a Volkswagon. | VIN number. | ATM machine. | Eagles verse Redskins. | That begs the question as to why he is President. | Me and him are going. | First come, first serve. | The guide wire on the pole. | We’ll return momentarily. | Former ex-football player. | That’s besides the point. | My fellow colleagues. | It’s cut and dry. | A book that’s chuck full of information. | Three pair of pants. | Go lay down. | I was bored, disinterested in the subject. | A foreshadowing of things to come. | A 50-50 toss-up. | The reason why is. | In the essence of time. | Underneath of the bridge. | Another gaff by Biden. | Trump is prone to disassembling. | The 10 most quintessential movies. | He’s the Achilles tendon on that team. | It was the very last, the penultimate item. | I should’ve took the train. | He flaunts the law. | I never loose an argument. | Balled fist. | Gambler’s Anonymous. | Her dog was the biggest of the two. | I hate them Cowboys. | Honey, I shrunk the kids. | It was a miniscule mistake. | Mens room. | The car had their headlights on. | A respite of rest. | The mushroom capitol of the world. | He has an educated pallet. | 10 a.m. in the morning. | Chomping at the bit. | There’s many more of them. | Airport hanger. | The internment will be at Veterans Cemetery. | Different than. | It’s a challange. | Happy New Year’s.  | He eked over the goal line. | She eeks out a living as a waitress. | He wrote the foreward of the book. | Open ‘til 6 p.m. | They caught lightening in a bottle. | That’s a quandry. | It’s all here. | He took a conservative tact as a businessman. | Not as good as he use to be. | You are smarter than me. | Sum total. | He’s the person that did it. | The thing which bothers me most. | I’ll be back in awhile. | Alright. | Alot. | A part from that, it was fun. | A singer who is nationally renown.

Need a speaker for your organization? Contact me for a fun PowerPoint presentation on grammar: ryearick@comcast.net.

Seen a good (bad) one lately? Send your candidates to ryearick@comcast.net.

 

Laugh at Logan Lucky, Just Don’t Think Too Long

Ocean’s 7-11? Soderbergh shifts gears to NASCAR heist film.

Director Steven Soderbergh knows his way around a good caper movie, having created the very successful rebooted Ocean’s series that has starred George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and a cast of popular actors.

With his latest film, Logan Lucky, Soderbergh transfers the criminal hijinks from the glitzy, ersatz-sophisticated environs of Las Vegas to the hard-scrabble, redneck epicenter of NASCAR: the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Although the laughs and thrills are maintained (thanks in no small part to Soderbergh’s winning cast), the translation is not entirely successful.
Channing Tatum and Adam Driver play the chronically unlucky Logan brothers, Jimmy and Clyde.

Jimmy was a star athlete in his youth, but an injury ended his promising career. His marriage to Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) also ended in disappointment. After being laid off his construction job at the Charlotte race track, he decides to pursue a reversal of his fortunes by planning a heist of the speedway’s daily receipts. Jimmy and Clyde assemble a ragtag team of accomplices (including Riley Keogh and an atypically cast Daniel Craig) whose skill sets are questionable at best. After this set-up, the rest of the film, as expected, is the playing out of the heist and its aftermath.

Neither the director nor screenwriter Rebecca Blunt (rumored to be a pseudonym for an as-yet unknown writer) seem able to decide whether they want to love their characters or condescend to them. At times, the brothers and their gang are portrayed as complete doofuses, yet we viewers are supposed to believe they are capable of this convoluted scheme.

Another disconcerting element is that all these Southern-fried characters are played by non-Southern actors, including Craig, a Brit. Are they all having a lark or mocking the accents and attitudes of the American South? It’s unclear. Finally, the plotting is neither completely coherent nor convincing. The success of the caper is way too dependent on unlikely circumstances that nearly always work out for these laid-back thieves.

I’m also troubled by the seeming lack of justification for the crime. For heist movies to work, we the audience have to believe that the targets of the crime somehow deserve their fate. We can set aside our consciences and cheer for the breaking of the law only if the perpetrators are karmically justified. I didn’t fully buy into their motivation.

Nevertheless, Logan Lucky is a lot of fun. The humor is loopy and offbeat, which can be pleasantly disarming. Setting aside the cornpone accents, the actors are all likable and easy to root for. Tatum draws on his substantial charisma to win our sympathy for Jimmy. While Driver seems to be channeling Tim Blake Nelson in his performance, the character’s quirks are still entertaining. Craig especially is delightful as explosives expert Joe Bang. His portrayal of Bond has become increasingly sullen and opaque of late, so it’s refreshing to see the actor having fun in a role.

The direction and scripting are also mockingly self-aware. At one point, the hillbilly thieves are referred to in a media story as Ocean’s 7-11, a sly reference to Soderbergh’s other caper films. The credits also announce the debut of a new cinematic talent: “and Introducing Daniel Craig!”

In the end, the machinations of the crime and the self-referential humor carry the day if you let the film wash over you as mindless entertainment. Just avoid the temptation to give it deeper thought.

Also appearing at your nearby Cineplex in September: Unlocked, a spy thriller starring Noomi Rapace and Toni Collette, directed by Michael Apted (9/1); It, featuring Bill Skarsgard as Stephen King’s killer clown (9/8); and Home Again, a rom-com showcasing Reese Witherspoon (9/8).