The Unfettered Critic – August 2015

Reluctant to step outside without a straw hat, sunscreen and a handheld, battery-powered portable fan? Yeah, us too.

We’re not the first to despair over the hot sun in the summertime. In 1933, Songwriter Irving Berlin composed “We’re having a heat wave.” Ethyl Merman sang the song in the film Alexander’s Ragtime Band in l938. Marilyn Monroe sang it again, in l954’s There’s No Business Like Show Business. Berlin, ya gotta figure, was hot.

For his 1948 musical Kiss Me, Kate, songwriter Cole Porter wrote, and repeated, “It’s too darn hot. It’s too darn hot.” Over the decades, his complaint has been reheated by Ella Fitzgerald, Petula Clark, Mitzi Gaynor, and an Adidas commercial. Porter, too, knew what was cooking.

So what should those of us who can’t sing do about our rising temperatures? Let’s explore some possibilities.

First up: Air-conditioned movie theatres. Much of the summer film fare leans toward loud rather than literary. Current blockbusters include the fifth Terminator episode and the fourth Jurassic (Park/World) expedition. If that’s your cup of jumbo soda, you’ll have it made in the shade. Of the two, we recommend the lively raptors rather than Arnold’s extinct efforts.

Not in a movie mood? The Jacksonville Library awaits. Read a book. Use the library’s computers. Bring your own computer and write a book! Or check out a book and carry it to one of our great local coffee shops, GoodBean and Pony Espresso, each an excellent venue for whiling away the hours. Which book, you ask? Author David McCullough has a new biography of The Wright Brothers. Tim Horvath’s new collection of short Understories, will carry you into “elastic realities,” where you’ll forget all about the temperature outside.

Try an indoor watering hole. We like the Bella Union, the J’ville Tavern, and Adit. Each has beer on tap, funky atmosphere, and beer on tap. (Yes. We know. Wanna hear it a third time?) Or if you’re in need of a really quick frigid fix, step into the beer room at Ray’s Food Place. The ambience may be lacking, but your temperature sensors will be chilled and thrilled. For a reinforcement of ambience, there’s no better hideaway than the underground Bistro at the Jacksonville Inn.

If you’re patient, you’ll find that the air does cool down (a bit) after dark. We’re blessed with two beautiful outdoor entertainment venues. You’ll find your friends, old and potential, at the Britt Festival right here in town. Do you have tickets for Dwight Yoakam (Aug. 22) or The Gipsy Kings (Aug. 31) yet? Well, you should. Further on down the road (but not far), the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s outdoor stage is open for the summer so you can see the best of Will’s plays—and more— just as his audiences did. And don’t forget the free “Green Show” performances on the OSF grounds—especially the Bathtub Gin Serenaders on Aug. 12. They’re the coolest group in the Valley. (And remember, we said—FREE.)

Finally, consider your own home as an entertainment venue! (Provided, of course, that your air conditioning hasn’t gone down.) You can borrow DVDs from the library. Or Netflix. Or just turn on the telly. We’ve discovered two surprisingly innovative summer shows: Mr. Robot, about a computer hacker who might just save—or destroy—the world (USA Network), and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, about two real, honest to goodness magicians who may just save—or destroy—the world. (BBC America). Both shows are unusual, unpredictable, and perfect for watching in front of a cool air duct in our La-Z-Boy recliners!

How hot is that!

Paula and Terry each have long impressive-sounding resumes implying that they are battle-scarred veterans of life within the Hollywood studios. They’re now happily relaxed into Jacksonville.

Featured image caption: Gothic magic materializes in “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell”