Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Frame of Mind 8/16/06 Love. Blood. Kryptonite

The production crew for the movie "Love. Blood. Kryptonite" was trying to make some difficult wardrobe decisions.

"You need to figure out what you want her to be wearing when she's doing it with him," Gaby Arruda, responsible for wardrobe, told Co-Director Matt Mitchener.

She pointed to the couch where Alex Goode, playing the lead Jimmy, sat. The crew was talking about costume for an intimate scene between Goode and Allison Henry, who plays Brooklyn.

The costume conversation continued — school girl outfit, button-down dress or a slinky black dress — and just about everyone had an opinion, except for the actors. Goode headed to the make-up chair, and Henry tried on a few different outfits.

"Love. Blood. Kryptonite." was in its second day of shooting Wednesday. The film is written by Oak Park-River Forest High School senior Matthew Mitchener.

The story focuses on Jimmy, a teenager who drops out of school and sells drugs to support his mother, Mitchener said. The money he makes also goes to keeping his little sister in school.

"It's kind of his whole story of struggling to stay above water," Mitchener said.

Some of the movie's themes may be more adult, Producer and OPRF teacher John Condne said, but it is a movie. And most of the people working on the movie are already out of high school.

"If you think some of these things are not going on in teens' lives ... you'd be kidding yourself," he said.

-Chris LaFortune

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Frame of Mind 8/9/06 Constant Gardener

Finding the head gardener in Cheney Mansion's acre and a half of land is easier than it sounds. Simply follow the garden hose.

Charlie Ruedebusch was at the end of one Wednesday, the hose trailing from the front of the mansion to the north side of the Cheney property. The head gardener was kneeling on the ground, watering the base of the zinnias in a potager garden.

He guided a gentle shower of water along the base of the plants, the dry dirt turned moist, small pools of water collecting before absorbing into the ground.

Moving his way around the garden, Ruedebusch stood, dirt on his knees, his once white sneakers dark with soil. He was dressed light in the already warm and muggy morning, a gray Park District of Oak Park T-shirt, dirty shorts, torn at the edges and a baseball cap atop his head.

From the zinnias, Ruedebusch moved on to his "world famous tomato patch," which this year includes eight varieties of tomatoes, down from last year's 22 varieties.

"People were sick of me when I'd come around in August and September because I'd have a bowl full of tomatoes," Ruedebusch said.

The head gardener is available in Cheney's gardens every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to answer gardening questions. The gardens are open during daylight hours everyday for the public to tour.

"People sometimes bring in pieces of plants from their own garden and say, something is eating them, what is it?" Ruedebusch said. "I'll try to do a little CSI number on them and take a guess."

One person wanted to know how many kinds of poisonous plants there were. Ruedebusch was about to answer, he said, before wondering why the person wanted to know.

"So I said I couldn't remember," he said.

-Chris LaFortune

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Frame of Mind 8/2/06 Kitten Kindergarten

Timmy was fast losing interest in the lessons at kitten kindergarten.

The eight-week-old kitten, sitting in the lap of owner Kathy Novy, looked up backward into her face and yawned. Then he looked back into the room, his eyes wide, his ears up.

Dr. Jennifer Malin ran the class in the reception area of The Cat Practice, 323 Chicago Ave., explaining to the three owners gathered together how to best handle their kittens and how to enrich their home environment.

"With cats early on, you want to expose them to as many situations as possible, including people who are not members of the family," Malin said.

At this point, Timmy's attention was drawn to the floor, where there were a variety of items a curious kitten could get himself interested in.

An unused box of litter was stationed in one corner, a tall scratching pole and cat scratchers, one inclined and one flat, in the middle of the room. There was an empty paper bag and a couple of pillows to lie on.

Timmy, stretching out one paw, began a tentative exploration of how to get down to the floor. Novy, not ready to let him go just yet, repositioned him on her lap. But it wasn't long before he was fidgeting again, and eventually, on the floor, sniffing first at the litter box and then around the rest of the room.

June 11 was the first kitten kindergarten class offered by Malin, three owners and four kittens on hand.

"I think, historically, people have always assumed that cats are going to do what they do regardless of anything that people might want them to do," Malin said.

"We sort of see that there's a great need for people to learn about cat behavior and what cats need in order to be kept healthy and properly socialized and to fit in with the family that happens to be caring for them."

Malin offered such lessons as how to trim cat toenails, how to place cats into carriers and how to properly handle kittens. The course lasts two weeks, but Malin plans on offering other classes to people once the first session finishes.

"We really are also teaching the owners just as much as we're trying to teach the cat," Malin said.

-Chris LaFortune