Fanfare: Spring 2008
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: May 19, 2008

On Campus

Capturing the Irish Soul and Sound

Bringing out an actor's brogue is the specialty of William Tate, theater professor, dialect coach, and director of the University's spring production of Dancing at Lughnasa. The play, set in 1936 Donegal, Ireland, opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 23, in Lincoln Performance Hall and continues May 24, 28-31. A 2 p.m. matinee is scheduled May 25 and a low-cost preview is at 7:30 p.m. on May 22. Tickets may be purchased at the PSU Box office, 503-725-3307, or through Ticketmaster.

The Tony Award-winning play tells the story of the five unmarried Mundy sisters, whose lives revolve around the eight-year-old love child of the youngest. Dancing at Lughnasa is told from the boy's memories of harvest celebrations with his aunts and of the men who came in and out of their lives.

Autistic couple write book on dating

LOVE HAS NO BARRIERS. That's what Jody John Ramey MA '05 and Emilia Ramey '07 have found. Despite having Asperger syndrome, a lighter form of autism, the Rameys met and fell in love while studying at Portland State.

"Emilia volunteered on campus at the Disability Advocacy Cultural Association, where I had an office," recalls Jody. "We had just started dating a couple of weeks. I had been doing a lot of presentations around the world on disability-related topics and dance. I thought it would be cool to write something about dating for autistics for an upcoming conference on autism. Emilia thought I was nuts. 'What do we have to tell anyone?'"

But Jody, 35, persisted and won Emilia, 33, over to his way of thinking. Shortly after giving their dating for autistics talk at several conferences, Jody proposed that they expand their ideas into a book. Fortunately, the romance between Jody and Emilia was blossoming.

"We started dating at the beginning of 2006 and got engaged during spring break," says Emilia. "During the summer we took marriage prep classes and were married Labor Day weekend."

Now the Rameys have written Autistics' Guide to Dating, a 128-page book published by London-based Jessica Kingsley Publishers. The subtitle stresses that the book's audience includes "Autistics and Those Who Love Them or Who Are in Love with Them."

"We break down our relationship into some of its component parts and extrapolate what worked for us and what didn't work for us," says Jody.

Communication is an important topic of the book. Nonautistic people can pick up on nonverbal cues such as facial expressions more easily than autistic people.

"Double-checking with each other helps to avoid assumptions," remarks Emilia. "If something comes up, where you are not sure what the other person means, then you should ask."

The book also deals with sensory issues, because most autistic people are hypersensitive.

"I'm very sensitive to touch," says Jody "That means that I like to be touched in specific ways. In the book we talk about how to find a way toward friendly touch to the person who is touch-sensitive."

The Rameys hope that their book inspires other autistics.

"Every chapter has a call for action," explains Emilia. "We'd like other autistics to start telling their stories. We know of other autistic couples who have been married longer than us and we'd like them to share their stories as well."

By James Bash

Jody and Emilia Ramey
Jody and Emilia Ramey (photo by Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)

Jazz as a calling

MERCER ELLINGTON, the son of Duke Ellington, made a big impression on Ben '01 and Michelle '01 Medler when he came to Portland in the mid-1990s. Ellington wanted to work with an all-star jazz youth ensemble, but Portland didn't have one.

Michelle and Ben MedlerAt the time, the Medlers were artists-in-residence teaching jazz at Wilson High School. The opportunity to work with Ellington was too good to miss. So, they put together a temporary all-state high school jazz band. It was a success.

Years later and jobless, the Medlers used that experience to start the Portland Jazz Youth Orchestra, where they are adept at getting students before live audiences, including the Portland Jazz Festival. They offer group and individual classes at four levels ranging from sixth grade to college.

Michelle specializes in saxophone and plays all of the woodwinds, while Ben specializes in trombone and covers the brass instruments. Both of them play piano and drums, which comes in handy for their own gigs with Quadraphonnes, the Medler Big Band, and the Trombone Encounter.

"We are so busy that we rarely have any time off," says Michelle. "But we are making a living as musicians, and it's been great."

By James Bash

New Works

The Undercover Philosopher: A Guide to Detecting Shams, Lies and Delusions
By Michael Philips (philosophy emeritus faculty)
Oneworld Publications, 2008

By R.J. Archer '75
NWIDI Press, 2008

Being and Place Among the Tlingit
By Thomas Thornton (anthropology faculty)
University of Washington Press, 2008

By Michael Hollister (English emeritus faculty)
AuthorHouse, 2007

CD by Darrell Grant (music faculty) and other jazz artists
Origin Records, 2008

N Is For Nostril
By Joe Spooner '68
Arnica Publishing, 2008

Mark Twain Day by Day: 1835-1885
By David H. Fears '71
Horizon Micro Publishing, 2008

Singing and Imagination of Devotion: Vocal Aesthetics in Early English Protestant Culture
By Susan Brown MAT '90
Paternoster, 2008

If Not God, Then What?
By Joshua Fost (university studies faculty)
Clearhead Studios, Inc., 2007

The Too Tall Kansas (Sidhi) Turtle Tale
By David J. Marks '78, MST '86, '93, MAT '94
Xlibris Press, 2007

ABOUT THIS PAGE: We want to hear about your books and recordings and your future exhibits, performances, and directing ventures. Contact the magazine by e-mailing, sending a fax to 503-725-4465, or mailing to Portland State Magazine, Office of University Communications, PO Box 751, Portland OR 97207-0751.