Category Archives: Andy Ruff

Hot Air

Plastics

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. 

Benjamin Braddock: Yes, sir. 

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? 

Benjamin: Yes, I am. 

Mr. McGuire: Plastics. 

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

From "The Graduate"

One Word, Benjamin

And so went perhaps the most famous exchange between characters in a Mike Nichols movie — or, for that matter, any movie made in the 1960s. The Graduate shot Nichols into the Hollywood firmament in 1967. It was his second directorial effort, following some pretty good success the  year before with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

In The Graduate, he took an absolute unknown, Dustin Hoffman, who was short, whose look screamed his Jewishness, and who had a honker of monumental proportions, and turned him into the object of a bored, spectacularly gorgeous suburban housewife’s desires. “Mrs. Robinson,” he blurts to Anne Bancroft, reclining alluringly on her bed, “you’re trying to seduce me.”

“Huh?” she says, chuckling.

“Aren’t you?”

She was.

As much as The Wild Bunch, and Rebel Without a Cause in the 1950s, The Graduate defined the new, post-WWII youth generation. Youth — the word itself became almost a brand. Almost? Hah! Youth culture was sold like jeans, record albums, Pepsi, and sex — all of which which were inextricably tied in with the young.

The Graduate, when all was said and done, was about pointless, directionless rebellion. Revolution, as Abbie Hoffman once shouted, for the hell of it. Well, a mild revolution. A revolution waged from the safety of the revolutionaries’ backyards.

Adults were hypocritical, shallow, materialistic, hyper-status conscious, and, well, bad guys. The young were disaffected, alienated, and somehow aware of the over-30 generation’s sanctimonious affectations. Only they became so aware while lounging in the sunken swimming pools their parents had built for them.

Mike Nichols’ The Graduate was a work of genius. Not too surprising, considering he came from the star nursery that eventually became known as The Second City.

A bunch of then-current and former University of Chicago students and hangers-on started the Compass Players in Chi-town’s Hyde Park neighborhood in the mid-’50s. The Compass gang, including David Shepherd, Del Close, Paul Sills, Shelley Berman, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Valerie Harper, and others, performed improvised commedia dell’arte skits at a local bar called The Compass. Nichols joined the group and met Elaine May there. The two quickly became lovers and co-performers. They formed a duo act and rocketed to fame far beyond that of the rest of the Compass people at the time. As the Compass Players morphed into The Second City in 1958, Nichols and May struck out on their own, eventually performing on Broadway together in “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May” and winning a 1962 Grammy award for Best Comedy Album.

Nichols/May

Nichols & May

Nichols has given us so much comedy — just check out his IMDb page — that he can be forgiven for marrying former Richard Nixon speechwriter Diane Sawyer.

One more thing. The final scene of The Graduate, as much else from the movie, has become iconic. The story goes that nobody knew how the movie would end. Nichols directed Hoffman and Katherine Ross to run out of the church where Ross’s character — coincidentally (or not) named Elaine — had left her fiancé at the altar. The two were to run down the street and eventually board a city bus. They dashed to the rear of the bus and plopped down, out of breath and sweaty, she still in her wedding dress and veil. Hoffman and Ross thought the shot of them, huffing and puffing, would be a brief one and they anticipated there would be another, closing shot.

Instead, Nichols instructed his cameraman to keep shooting. Hoffman and Ross sat in the back of the bus, wondering when they’d hear the word “Cut!” It wasn’t to come for long moments. The actors, puzzled, remained half in-character and half out of it, glancing around, the bafflement beginning to cloud their faces.

Only then did Nichols yell “Cut.” The scene was perfect. Nichols knew that the couple had no idea where they were going nor what they’d do when they got there. The quizzical looks that crossed their faces conveyed it better than anything they could have ever conjured as actors.

Who’s Next

Judging by my unscientific, non-comprehesive, seat-of-the-pants survey of some of Bloomington’s most plugged-in citizens, this town’s next mayor may either be John Whikehart, former Ivy Tech-Bloomington chancellor and current deputy mayor under outgoing boss Mark Kruzan, or City Council member Darryl Neher.

This despite the fact that Whikehart is 65 years old and hasn’t made any public utterances about wanting the job.

One or two have even implied that Whikehart was brought into city government for the express purpose of succeeding Kruzan. This conspiracy theory has it that Kruzan knew he’d be getting out before being chased out, especially after the downtown parking meters hoo-ha, and wanted a trusted lieutenant to carry on after him.

Neher, on the other hand, seems a far more likely challenger for the throne.

See for yourself whose names are being bandied about:

Neher

Darryl Neher

Bloomington City Council, District. V. The smart money is on Neher to run.

Ruff

Andy Ruff

Bloomington City Council, At Large. Another great bet to run, at least acc’d’g to knowledgeable observers.

Whikehart

John Whikehart

Bloomington Deputy Mayor, former chancellor of Ivy Tech-Blooomington.

Hamilton

John Hamilton

Ran against Kruzan in the 2011 Democratic primary. A risky bet — a good authority whispered into my ear a year ago that he’s not interested in running anymore. Then again he won’t have to run against Kruzan this time. Hmm.

Yoder

Shelli Yoder

A good bet to run. She’s ambitious and, presumably, looking for a job with a higher profile than that of her current gig as 1st District representative on the Monroe County Council, the better to leapfrog into the US Congress seat she really wants.

Volan

Steve Volan

Bloomington City Council, District VI. Don’t waste your dough on this bet. Tall Steve already has gone on the record saying he won’t run.

Some half a dozen other names have been floated as well. None of them is worth mentioning here. Note no Republicans have been mentioned. This is Bloomington — duh.

Today: Friday, November 11, 2011

SNAKE EYES

Sorry, No. Try Again.

Eleven. Eleven. Eleven. Last time for that numerology oddity until the next century.

The good thing is the world hasn’t spun out of orbit — as far as I can tell. Hold off your worries about that until next year, you know, 2012.

DEMOCRACY HERE AND NOW

Hallelujah! Monroe County has a winner. Several, as a matter of fact. Results from Tuesday’s election finally were announced yesterday. Oh, and Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins is still at large.

Wanted: Linda Robbins. Suspect May Be Armed (with paper ballots).

Bloomington’s three incumbent at-large Common Council members have been reelected. Tim Mayer, Susan Sandberg, and Andy Ruff all outpolled the two lone Republicans on the ballot (the two, in fact, may be the lone Republicans in Bloomington, period.)

In the only contested district race for the Council, incumbent Dem Chris Sturbaum whupped newcomer KC Baker to keep his seat in the First.

Not That KC, Silly!

Our KC is also a Republican so there are at least three of them in our town now.

Did I mention Mayor Mark Kruzan and City Clerk Regina Moore retained their offices after all the ballots were counted? They ran unopposed, of course. Sheesh. And people say my hometown of Chicago is a monolithic, single-party kingdom.

IS IT LEGAL TO SPANK COLLEGE STUDENTS?

You thought I was steamed yesterday when I wrote about the Penn State knuckleheads who rioted because football Coach Joe Paterno was fired? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Tomorrow is PSU’s last home game of the season. Extra security forces have been called in — the Pennsylvania State Police will beef up its contingent to help State College and campus cops keep a semblance of order. One regent from visiting Nebraska wants more protection for his “student-athletes.”

State College police spokesman Capt. John Gardner described the situation in terms of war. “Each time they (rioters) up the ante, we’re going to up the ante too,” he promised.

This Means War!

But here’s what’s frying me. Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary won’t be anywhere near Beaver Stadium. Why not?

Well, the no good rat had the gall to report that he’d seen a former assistant coach having sex with a ten year old boy in the PSU football facility shower room in 2002. That revelation, stonewalled and sat upon by university officials — including Joe Paterno — led to the firings of the legendary coach and the university’s president Wednesday. At least three people including Jerry Sandusky, the alleged child molester, have been charged by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury so far in the ongoing scandal.

Naturally, a lot of faithful Penn State football fans have responded. They’ve sent death threats to McQueary.

Off With His Head!

Imagine that! The no-goodnik wrecked everything for Penn State football. Just because he saw some child being sodomized by a grown man.

Grrrr. I’d like ten minutes alone in a room with any of the entitled little white rats who rioted Wednesday or sent those death threats to McQueary. And you know most of those reprobates are having fun with McQueary’s surname — as in Mc-Queer-ey.

When it comes to knuckleheads like them, a college education is a terrible thing to waste.

By the way, pretty boy actor Ashton Kutcher had to shut down his Twitter account yesterday because he expressed outrage that Joe Pa would be fired over such a trivial thing as ignoring the pederasty that was going on right under his nose.

I think they’d better start testing the water in the production studio of “Two and a Half Men.”

Sheen & Kutcher: What Have They Been Drinking?

SLIME PAYS

As if all this isn’t crazy enough, former mediocre pizza company boss, radio talker, shameless self-promoter, and Republican presidential nominee front-runner Herman Cain reports that his campaign contributions have actually gone up since four woman have come forward to report what a slick and smooth romeo he is.

Now, Let’s Talk About That Job You Want.

NUMEROLOGY’S EFFECT ON PLANETARY MOTION

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the world is spinning out of its orbit after all.

Earth’s Orbit, Pre-11/11/11

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