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Caitlin Clarke Day 2005 Edition

Today is Caitlin Clarke Day. Katie turns fifty-three — I am sure that she is still alive even though she is dead. I am not one of those losing fools who refuse to believe in life after death.

On Clarke Day I normally would eat a steak dinner: A tradition that dates from May 1993, when I spent a Ponderosa dinner coupon I won in an XMas raffle the year before. I have been doing this ever since. However, I recently gave up on the steak dinners when all the local Ponderosa steakhouses closed down, and what steakhouses were left didn't rate. (Waffle fries!? C'mon!!)

So after work I had a meal at the Olive Garden in Katie's honor. It was a chicken marsala stuffed with melted cheeses in a mushroom sauce and served with garlic mashed potatoes. This is one of the food items cooked up at the Olive Garden's culinary house in Tuscany. It is evident that an American thought this up, for I doubt an actual Italian would know what mashed potatoes are.

That's okay: The marsala was still delicious, and a good meal, too. It will also be my only big meal today, for I have to stay off food for at least twelve hours before my doctor's visit tomorrow.

After lunch I returned to the library for an hour or so. Then I went to the Bethel Avenue cineplex for the 3:30 pm showing of The Hitchhiker's Guide movie. It's finals week at Ball State, so the cinema was practically empty. I was a little late for the film, but all that meant was I got to see fewer previews.

The film starts with the song "So long, and thanks for all the fish" as the dolphins give up warning the human race and leave the Earth. Why? A Vogon constructor fleet blows up the planet to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Before that happens two people hitch a ride on board the main Vogon ship: befuddled ordinary Englishman Arthur Dent and resident alien Ford Prefect. In time the pair find themselves on the Heart of Gold, a spherical relativity ship stolen by two-headed galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox and piloted by Trillian. She is an adventurous woman who looks a little like Lis Sladen and whom Arthur met at a party in London just before the world went boom.

Arthur is not at all happy with this: His home is destroyed; he is stuck on a ship with a would-be girlfriend and the charming but nutty jerk who stole her away from him; he's being chased by Vogons; and pandimensional beings (which look like mice) are out for his brain. At least he took Ford Prefect's advise and brought his towel with him.

You can tell the film was made in Hollywood because the Earth is restored and Arthur wins back Trillian at the end of the film. The books and the BBC radio/TV series had no such closure. In fact, the ultimate question is a arithmetic equation whose product is not 42.

One of the roles in the film is played by John Malkovitch, who directed Katie in Arms and the Man on Broadway twenty years ago. In that year Katie did roles in three Broadway plays, topping it off by reprising the role of a roller-skating Cherubino in a version of The Marriage of Figaro first staged in Minneapolis.

Those three plays — the second was Strange Interlude with Glenda Jackson — were an impressive feat; but they also took a toll on Katie, for when the streak was over she divorced her husband and ran off to L.A. to heal, to try television, and to become a highway threat.

Supplement (4 May 2005)

The meal and the movie wore me out, and let's say the editing part of my brain went to sleep. Anyway it's cleaned up now.

This morning was a visit to the doctor's that took a big bite out of my wallet because the visit included a lung capacity test to find out why my lungs are so feverish. I guess I will be trying out the non-sophorific antihistamine Claridin.

Copyright © 2005 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 04 May 2005.