July 16th, 2005


Personal: Ellgass

Yay! Today I'll be getting my first out-of-town visitor (well, other than my Dad) when Katie Ellgass stops by. Probably the most gifted student that I ever had the honour to work with--and with a work ethic that I intensely envy--Katie is in town for a concert of some ND friends who are in a band playing at the Rave tonight. Currently in medical school, with all the sleeplessness that that implies, I haven't seen her since we had dinner at the Mandarin House when I was at Notre Dame in November at the Epiphanies of Beauty: The Arts in a Post-Christian Culture conference. It'll be fun to catch up. I'm trying to decide whether to take her out to dinner for the fab fare of the Twisted Fork, or to be more overtly-hip with The Knick, or whether to go roaming around down at the Bastille Days "French Fest," grabbing authentic foods and wines as one can. Or just to offer the three to her as a select menu. She hinted that she had some big news of some sort, so I wonder if she's hared off and gotten engaged or somesuch.

Random: Bill

Wow. That's all I can say.


Okay, confession time. I have been amazed by this guy since high school. In college, my fascination grew. And now, my regard is almost without qualification. Without definition. I'm talking of him, not as a writer. Not as an actor. Producer. Director. Equestrian. University benefactor. Already words and titles enough to dub anyone as having attained the ideal of the renaissance man. No, I'm talking about the Singer. The recording artist. What's more, I'm talking about William Shatner. Yes. I said it. Confession time.

Farce? An early 70s experiment without the foreknowledge of just how fleeting the experimental latitude of the 70s were? High art? The most awful album in recording history? All of the above? The Transformed Man has provoked laughter, disdain, psychotic episodes and more sheer controversy than almost anything before or since. Music stores still don't know where to shelve it. Critics still wrack their brains for words not yet used to add to the mountain of scorn heaped upon the effort. But there it is.

What's more, in one of the most curious artistic resurrections of contemporary pop culture, Ben Folds combined his own fascination with action, pulled Shatner and his vision out of the asylum of the recording industry, and gave him another go. With an endorsement deal mocking/promoting his efforts, to boot. And I for one, can't stop listening. Well, I can all at once. But I'll play it again. Eventually. And today, ... today... I found a music video on iTunes Music Store for one of his more recent efforts, "It Hasn't Happened Yet." High art? Low farce? The cycle begins again....

Personal: Katie Ellgass

A great evening catching up with Katie. Naturally, she was about two hours late. Apparently, she and Laurae got stuck in traffic around Chicago. (Shock! Horror!) So by the time she dropped Laurae off, and then went nuts by driving the slowest, most bumper-to-bumper route through Milwaukee to my place, it was already about 5:30. She had said that the concert she was heading to tonight had been moved up to 7:00 at the last minute, but now having talked to one of the band members, she said it was back on for 9:30-ish, so once again we had time for a real dinner.

She chose to go with the Twisted Fork as being the best food of the restaurants I was offering, turning down the high trendiness of The Knick, and declining the standing and moving around of heading down to the Bastille Days festival in Cathedral Square. We almost opted to switch and sit out by the lake down at Alterra and just have sandwiches instead, but then I realized that that was where all the cars were coming from after having watched the Blue Angels perform, so we weaved back through town and on to the original destination. A good move, too, as we were both very happy with our entrees, which we ate outside in the breezes, enjoying all the café life of the North Ave./Farwell Ave. area. I wish that's what it was like at Marquette, but unfortunately as far as a "campus town" environment goes, Marquette in being in such a poor neighbourhood, tends to have more crack addicts panhandling than sidewalk cafés. I'm glad the school does do a lot of ministry in the neighbourhood, but I honestly wouldn't mind the other, too.

Katie had the Sesame Ahi Tuna, pan-seared and served medium-rare with garlic mashed potatoes, veggies and all in a teriyaki sesame sauce, while I had the Rosemary Chicken, a breast sautéed in garlic and rosemary and smothered in a mushroom ragout, also served with garlic mashed potatoes and crispy green beans and carrots. I had a very light and fruity, not at all bitter, Toasted Head Chardonnay with it that I really enjoyed, generally not being partial to whites, but that I thought went great with the entrée. Definitely worth trying, if you like that sort of thing, and it won't break the bank. Between that and the cocktail I'd had before they served us, I was feeling a pleasant wobble by the end of our meal. After a ceremonial taste of one another's dinners--which we both liked, more to my surprise than her's, I think--we dug in. Naturally, she finished a good half-hour before me because I'm the Slowest Eater in the World. But there's just so much to talk about.

So, there was more school note-comparing. I caught her up on the shape of my year since I'd seen her in November, including my medical rundown. She enjoyed her second semester of med school much more than her first, it seems, so that was good to hear. I was very surprised to find out that she was in an Air Force scholarship program. Somehow that had missed me before or never came up. But both she and Laurae Rettig (the other former student of mine with whom she drove up, but who I didn't get the chance to see) have sold off four years of their lives to the Air Force in return for the med school education. It's a good deal, I guess, especially in your early twenties. At this point, Katie's leaning toward family medicine, pediatrics, or perhaps oncology. Having gotten a bit of the scoop on the former from kesil, I'm particularly glad to see someone of Katie's brilliance willing and enthusiastic about going into family work. There was the usual catching up by delivering news of various friends, and I tried to explain in passing what some of my current theological work was about, and with her Great Books background from Notre Dame's PLS program, she even knew some of the references. She was particularly interested in noticing back at the apartment that I was beginning to read John Courtney Murray, SJ's book We Hold These Truths as part of my "religious language in public discourse" ethics question. Apparently she had done some work with it herself as part of her political science reading. So, suffice it to say, lots to talk about. Random Topic of the Night: Vaudeville-Era Theatre Interior Design.

At the end of the early evening then, a little after nine, I walked her up to the Rave, letting her see how to get back to her car, and dropped her off there. I met a handful of the local alums who were gathered outside, after being rallied by email from our local alumni club to come support the band of recent ND grads. Most were fairly shy, but I did get a bit of enthusiastic conversation out of a fellow by the name of Mike Brown, who turned out to be the Leprechaun from a few years back, when Notre Dame had its first African American student step into the role of Irish icon. Being the Leprechaun explained his enthusiasm, since you have to be hyper-extroverted to get that position. He seemed someone who'd be fun to hang with.