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Welcome to Mike Redmond's home on the Weird Wide Web!

Greetings, Earth People. I'm Mike Redmond. Not the baseball player. Instead of making you guess the rest, I'll just go ahead and tell you who I am and what I do.

  • I'm a newspaper columnist -- formerly the feature columnist for The Indianapolis Star (back when you could call it a newspaper). I bailed out of the place about two years after Gannett bought it, and I still count that as the best decision I ever made. My creditors don't always agree.
  • Now I write for papers around Central Indiana, a magazine or two, and this site. I'm also a public speaker, a teacher, an historical (as opposed to hysterical) interpreter, a farm tour guide, and occasionally, when I can be talked into it, an author. They're all my favorite jobs.
  • This is where you'll find my online column, posted every Wednesday, unless I get ambitious and post it Tuesday. But don't count on it.
  • This is also where to look for news about speaking engagements, new jobs, friends, and stuff that strikes me as interesting. I'll probably throw in a few recipes, too. I get wild like that sometimes.
  • Take a look around. Let's have some fun.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Occasionally, I Get Historical

Stand back. I am about to make a shameless plug for my other job. No, not that one. The OTHER other job.

I am about to encourage you to come see me at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick History Center, home of the Indiana Historical Society, at 450 W. Ohio Street in Indianapolis.

Wait. Let me take that back. I don't want you to come and see me. I want you to come and meet some friends of mine - Ernest Zwerner and George Greenlee.

Ernest and George are men I portray in the Indiana Experience program "You Are There," where visitors go back in time by literally walking into a photograph of from long ago. George is the owner of the Ford dealership in Hartford City circa 1924, and Ernie is the owner of the Citizen's Market grocery in Terre Haute, in 1945.

Ernie and I are old pals, sort of. I portrayed him during the pilot phase of "You Are There" back in 2008. Fools that they are, they asked me to come back and get it right this time.

If it's anything like the pilot year, I am going to be a happy boy.

Imagine a job where you get to make new friends every hour of every day ... a job where people come into your place of work and have a profound, positive emotional reaction to the atmosphere you've created ... a job where you play all day and help people think about their OWN histories.

Basically, that's what I do.

Of course, it has other amusements as well. The market, you see, is a nearly-perfect reproduction of Mom and Pop grocery stores of the era, right down to the prices. You would be surprised how many people come in and want to buy what they think is a can of soup for six cents. Or maybe you wouldn't.

One guy in 2008 kept coming in, day after day, bringing a new friend every day, to point out the bargains. He was so enthusiastic I came close to selling a broom for 41 cents before I remembered I was pretending, even if he wasn't.

Now, George Greenlee is a new friend. The guy loves selling cars, but all Ford offerts is the Model T in basic black, and it's not moving the way it used to. He's a little worried, but he covers it up with bluster and banter and most of all, jokes. I don't know why they chose me to play him.

The cool thing about these roles, if you can call them that, are that they're based on real people and there's no script. It's all improv. You know - like real life.

And it's fun for the visitors, too, which is why I invited you. Admission is $7 for three experiences (there's also a cool 1914 Indianapolis violin shop) and the Cole Porter room, where interpreters in fancy dress sing Cole Porter's songs.

Yes, I'll be working in there, too. I TOLD you these people were fools.

But come on in if you want to know what it sounds like when Rochester from the Jack Benny Show sings "Night and Day." I liken it to the sound of a rusty gate swinging while the wind whistles through the outhouse. Which is another kind of Indiana Experience altogether.

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
Tue, March 23, 2010 | link 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Looks Like I Just Got Promoted To The Senior Class


I believe I just had my first Senior Moment.

Could have sworn I was still a junior.

It happened during a brief weekend jaunt down to Nashville - the one in Tennessee - for a brief spell of acting like I'm some kind of big shot.

The big shot thing I accomplished by taking lodgings in one of my favorite hotels on this planet, the 100-year-old Hermitage, a rather swanky joint across the street from the Tennessee state capitol. I love the place for its superior lodgings and the fact that once Gene Autry checked in and got a separate room for his horse, Champion. Really. They took out all the furniture, laid canvas over the floor and installed Champion with a room service lunch and a key to the honor bar.

The Hermitage is one of those places where, if you're me, you like to dress to match the atmosphere. I tend to choose old, fancy hotels whenever possible - you know, the kinds of places that look like sets from old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. Gleaming marble floors, polished brass everywhere, a grand piano tinkling in the corner, members of the staff moving about with quiet efficiency - that's the atmosphere I seek. And when I'm it, I like to look the part - suit, tie, shined shoes. Showing off? Maybe. But I also think it's about respect for the building and its history.

Not that everyone shares this belief. It's always a little jarring to walk into that setting and see some guy who looks like Curly from the Three Stooges, only with a goatee and tattoos, standing at the urn loading up on free coffee.

Now, I didn't wear a suit to travel, although I sometimes do. I find if you dress nicely you get treated a little nicer than if you show up for your flight in, say, cargo shorts, flip-flops and a tie-dyed Grateful Dead tank top. (Are you listening, Mom?)

That meant I had to dress for dinner, and this is where we find my Senior Moment. I stepped out of my luxurious bathroom and began laying out my clothes - neatly pressed suit, starched shirt, tie, socks ... and oops.

I know what you're thinking. I forgot the shoes, right?


I had shoes, all right, a left one and a right one. It's just that the left one was brown, and the right one was black.

Senior Moment. Big one.

This is what happens when you keep your shoes in bags and just reach into the closet to grab a pair instead of actually checking to see you're getting what you want.

This, of course, presented a calamity. The only other shoes I had were tennis shoes. I called the concierge and he helpfully told me that all the stores near the hotel were closed, but that I could drive out to a mall. I started to tell him that was HIS job - hasn't he seen any movies about swanky hotels? -- but instead, I made the trip and brought a pair of shoes for about $100 more than I had budgeted for "emergency expenses."

Which leaves me with a lesson I'd like to pass along to everyone. Save your money. Save as much as you can for your old age. Start now, when you're still a freshman or sophomore.

Those senior moments are expensive.

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
Tue, March 16, 2010 | link 

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By the way -- everything on this site is Copyright 2009 by Mike Redmond. If you copy it without my permission, I will hunt you down with either my dog or my lawyer. I'll probably go with the dog. She's smarter.

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