Champaign to lose Angela Rivers mural

Angela Rivers Mural

I heard on the news this morning that Champaign was going to lose (to building renovations) a large public mural by Angela Rivers.

The mural, painted in 1978, is in pretty poor shape, which I suspect had something to do with the decision to let it go, but it’s still sad to lose. I’m a big fan of public art.

Since I had some warning, I figured I’d seize the opportunity to go grab some pictures. Here’s a detail with some faces and the signatures:

Detail of Angela Rivers Mural

And here’s another bit I particularly like, horses plowing toward the sun on the horizon:

Detail from Angela Rivers Mural

If you’re local, it’s worth getting up there to see it in person. It’s on the north side of a warehouse at the corner of Park and 5th Street, just a few blocks east of downtown Champaign.

Esperanto Group Picnic

With the end of the semester arriving, about half of the Esperanto group will be heading home for the summer. Before everybody hit the road, we had a little celebratory picnic.

Photographic evidence:

Dum la grupa pikniko

I’m the guy on the edge looking like an aging hippy hanging out with a bunch of college kids.

It looks like enough of us will be in town over the summer to make it worth having meetings. If you’re interested in Esperanto and live in or near Champaign-Urbana, join us!

Local film: Revolting

We went to see the premier of the locally produced indy film Revolting last week—a fine movie.

It’s the story of a writer of serious plays, who had written one frivolous piece for his wife that had gone on to be a huge success, launching his wife’s acting career, and making the local theater group a bunch of money.  Now divorced, and with his serious plays all flops, he finally gives in to pressure to write a sequel to his one lighter piece, only to have his characters start complaining about the quality of his writing—at first on the page, and then in person.  And, since he visualizes his characters as the local actors likely to play them, the result is confusion for the character and humor for the audience.

I’m always a big fan of movies that accurately portray the writing life—movies like “Shakespeare in Love,” for example—and that’s where this movie is at its best.  The scenes where he’s preparing to write—dusting and cleaning his workspace, arranging his paper and notecards in perfectly aligned rows and stacks—are wonderful.

Unless you’re local to Champaign, I don’t know if you’ll have much of a chance to see “Revolting,” but if the opportunity arises (and you’re interested in accurate portrayals of the writing life), don’t miss it.

There’s a surprisingly active bunch of local filmmakers.  We’ve previously seen the local films Disconnect, Act Your Age and Press Start, after having gotten started seeing premiers of local films with “Gamerz” which was shown at WorldCon in Glasgow—also a locally produced film, but local to Scotland, rather than Central lllinois.  All are worth seeing, if you get a chance.

Profiled in the local paper

Christine Des Garennes of the New-Gazette did a profile on me and my writing for Wise Bread.  It made the front page! Checks and Balances: Living large on a smaller budget.

Although some of his blog posts are practical, such as “how to make sourdough bread and save a buck on every loaf,” Brewer’s “central shtick,” as he put it, is all about doing what you love.

Ask yourself, are you working a job just to earn enough money to support your lifestyle?

“If you live frugally enough, you can change your work based on what you want to do,” Brewer said. After your family, he said, there is nothing “that has such an importance on whether or not you’re happy than your work.”

[Updated 29 May 2009:  It used to be that the News-Gazette closed articles behind a pay wall after a week, but as of today the link seems to still be working.]

New local Esperanto group!

Thanks to Darcy and Meryl, we’ve once again got a functioning Esperanto group in Champaign-Urbana!

There are several komencantoj, but also three or four of us who speak Esperanto adequately, so we’re trying to do a mix of things at the meetings.  We’ve been reading Gerda Malaperis, which is something that even beginners can do. We also started watching Mazi, which is fun. We’ve decided to all read a couple of articles from the Esperanto Wikipedia and show up ready to discuss them. We’re hoping that narrowing the topic of conversation down to a specific article will make it easier for people who’s working vocabulary is still really small–they can look up a few domain-specific words before the meeting (even make notes to refer to, if necessary).

I’ve already noticed improvements in my own Esperanto, after just three meetings–it’s amazing how fast you can pick up fluency if you’ll just practice.

Here’s the folks who were at the last meeting:

Our new local Esperanto group
Our new local Esperanto group: Jack Hutchens, Omar Ali, Phoebe, Darcy Ross, Matt, Meryl Garrison.