Thursday, September 13, 2007


What was the first question everyone asked when I told them that last weekend I was going to the Professional Golf Association's BMW Championship, in the Chicago suburb of Lamont, Ill.?

"Do you play golf?"

Well, no. I did once spend a frustrating afternoon at a driving range, though. I also don't play football, baseball or basketball -- or indeed any sport with a ball -- but that hasn't kept me away from big-time football, baseball or basketball games.

But never mind. I understand the question, since I imagine a lot more people play golf regularly than those other sports. And on Sunday, spectators around us at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club talked about their golf games lavishly, mostly in bemoaning how poorly they play compared to Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and the other pros moving down the fairways.

All of the chatter was very hushed, of course, and that was what I liked best about my first PGA tournament. Unlike other pro sports events, a golf match is all but silent. The quiet was very restful, and part of why the tournament was an enormous pleasure. The day was gorgeous and the golf course well-tended, and I could see myself happily spending a peaceful afternoon there regardless. Watching pro golfers work their magic was like a bonus.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The moviegoers

When you are relaxing and shopping for books on the South Side of Chicago, as Ereck and I were Saturday afternoon, and you suddenly realize that Andrei Tarkovsky's three hour and 41 minute epic Andrey Rublyov is playing that night at the Gene Siskel Film Center, in the Loop -- well, you go.

My mistake was in misreading the showtime. I thought it was 6:30. So we sprinted downtown, hampered by the fact that I drive a pickup truck and am therefore banished from Lake Shore Drive. We struggled to park amid festival traffic, and then in the interest of time ate a rushed, largely uninspired dinner at a Corner Bakery. It's a shame to dine at a chain in the great culinary capital that is Chicago. But we were out of options.

Then we hurried to the theater, where the snide young box office attendant (is there any other kind at an art house?) informed me that the film started at 7:30. He did so by wordlessly hooking his thumb in the general direction of the showtimes posted on the wall. We morosely killed an hour at the Borders down the block.

But never mind. The film was awesome, in an older sense of that word, and the filmgoing experience was wonderful. I dread going to films in Madison because the audiences are consistently nattering and awful, even at the estimable Cinematheque. The Film Center audience was reverent, respectful, silent.

Before the movie I noted with satisfaction that many of our fellow filmgoers had arrived alone, and were reading books before the lights went down. That's my kind of audience.