September 2010

LIGHTEN UP

Baseball and Blues

Not many people know that Professor of Theatre Arts Ed Menta is a blues and jazz guitarist. In fact, the weekend before his "Lighten Up" interview (below), he performed at the "Open Jam Session" at the 411 Club in downtown Kalamazoo! "After lots of practice," he noted. Ed is also an avid baseball fan, and has published two articles on that subject. Neither is standard fare. His first focused on Most Valuable Player Award winners who actually improved their performance the year following their recognition yet didn't win the award consecutively. Go figure. Frank Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles is a notable case. Ed's second article is a counterfactual masterpiece on World Series teams most affected by an injured unavailable player. Leading candidates included the 1975 Boston Red Sox (missing Jim Rice), the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers (missing Rollie Fingers), and the 1987 St. Louis Cardinals (missing Jack Clark). What if?.

What's the best song ever recorded?
B.B. King's rendition of Willie Nelson's "Night Life."

What's your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
I believe it was called "The Golden Windows." I read or heard it once and never found it again. It's about somebody who gazes at a faraway town every evening at sunset because all the town's windows are made of gold. Eventually he travels there and discovers the "gold" is the sun's reflection in the glass. If fact, the people in that town envied the main character's town for the very same reason every morning.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Your wife is waiting; what took you so long?

What's your favorite word?
Cluster

What's your least favorite word?
The ones that come immediately to mind are unprintable. Let's go with "succor."

What turns you on?
Baseball, blues, theatre, and old movies. The best old movie ever is Casablanca.

What turns you off?
Popular action movies.

What sound do you love?
A baseball hitting a mitt.

What sound do you hate?
I occasionally hear this in high schools: the horn-like noise that comes from a P.A. system just before announcements-like an electronic throat clearing.

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Maybe a full time musician. Or a baseball broadcaster. Of course, broadcasters often have to cover many sports, and I could only do baseball.

What profession would you not like to participate in?
Anything with more administrative work than what I'm doing now.

What's been a GREAT MOMENT in your liberal arts learning?
In the mid-1990s I attended a Great Lakes Colleges Association conference on teaching and diversity. The experience really opened my eyes.

Who's the person (living or dead) with whom you'd most like to spend a lunch hour?
Anton Chekhov

What memory from childhood still surprises you?
Watching my Dad march in the Labor Day Parade in New Haven, Connecticut. I was proud but I was too young to understand why. Ever since then, I'm always for the union.

What is your favorite curse word?
M----- F-----. It comes out of my mouth whenever unexpected accidents occur. It's a bad habit.

What is your favorite hobby?
Playing Strat-O-Matic baseball, a tabletop baseball game played with dice.

What is your favorite comedy movie?
The original "The Producers," Mel Brooks' first film.

What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?
The massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. I'd been reading about this event for years, and so when we took a vacation to South Dakota I had to find the site. It was pouring rain, and I got lost several times before I found it, but I finally did, and got out of the car in the rain to just stand there. I can't really explain it, but it has always affirmed my pacifism.

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?
Yes

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