Monday, March 20, 2006

Who’s your Hoosier?

I am! I am!

I spent the weekend visiting my formerly-of-Chicago friend Bill in his fabulous new Indianapolis home, with its cool architecture and its multiple bathrooms and its endless supply of closet space. (Bill, knowing the depths of my storage envy, showed considerable restraint by not rubbing my face in his ample closets. So to speak.)

Our weekend was packed with the best kinds of fun, much of which involved lounging around chatting. But we also squeezed in two lovely brunches, an expert driving tour of Indianapolis’ fabulous neighborhoods and museums and historical buildings, and a lovely afternoon in the ultra-cool Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The IMA building is an authoritative structure situated in a corner of the sumptuous Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens. Like much of the newer architecture Bill showed me in Indianapolis, the IMA building has a sense of adventure, achieving its intended purpose with creativity and humor and a little visual experimentation. And the collection inside, while not as exhaustive as the building’s epic scale would suggest, is thoughtfully displayed, with useful information and a logical flow of ideas.

The best part of our tour: The Amy Cutler exhibit in the museum’s Forefront series. Amy (I call her Amy) has defined her own post-feminist genre, commenting on the social and familial experiences of women with a visual vocabulary that’s at once amusing, resigned, earnest and at times unapologetically ridiculous. Her images walk a line between the disturbing grotesqueries of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the oddly pedestrian horrors of Edward Gorey—especially in my favorite of her works, Dinner Party (left column, middle row), which features corseted ladies in gargantuan farthingales fighting each other with antlers made of upturned chairs and strapped-on cutlery.

If you do go to the museum—and you should—take care not to gesture too closely as you point out the carved penises on the wooden chair in the African exhibit. Because you’ll set off an alarm. And a suspicious-looking guard will follow you around and treat you like the penis-obsessed threat to moral decency you are.

One more word to the wise: Don’t go see The Hills Have Eyes just because your friend Bill’s hunky friend Eric wants to see it. Eric will still be attractive if you elect to do something more useful with your time, like organizing your celebrity crushes in the order of who has the prettiest feet.

My bad-movie-dar started beeping the moment Eric suggested it to us, but I was being polite—and for a man who saw all of three movies that got any Oscar nominations this year, I was in no position to pretend I was any kind of cinema authority.

But oh, the pain! With all the production qualities of an early episode of Land of the Lost and the kind of snappy, smart dialogue you’d find in the rough draft of a junior-high book report, The Hills Have Eyes was most definitely NOT alive with the sound of music. In fact, its best feature was its tagline: The lucky ones die first. And it wasn’t even true! Bill and I left soon after the first sleestack mutant desert creature appeared munching on a very unrealistic severed limb, and we learned that the lucky ones leave after losing only an hour of their lives—and get a refund without even a hint of resistance! We figured the road had already been paved for us by armies of equally insulted movie-goers who opted instead to get their money back and head home to watch Dynasty reruns on the Soap Opera Channel. Just like we did. (Maxwell Caulfield … mmm …)

Butt-stupid movies notwithstanding, the vacation was a delight from start to finish, and it ended way too soon. But I did get to enjoy a sunny drive home in the land of 70-mph speed limits. And there were no laughable mutant desert creatures hiding in my tiny closets when I got home.

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