Fanfare: Spring 2009
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: June 1, 2009

Michael Curry puppetThe art of puppetry

IMAGINE WORKING A PUPPET more than twice your height as you walk and dance. It's an art that students are learning from Michael Curry, an internationally renowned master of puppetry and kinetic theatrical design. He creates the magic from his huge Portland workshop.

Curry has designed characters and choreographed productions for the Olympics, Disney, the Superbowl, and Cirque de Soleil, among others. For PSU, he is putting together a short performance that includes dancers, live music, and puppets controlled by theater arts students. Carolyn Holzman, adjunct choreography faculty, is also helping train the students.

All of this hard work will culminate in an opening ceremony for the Society for College and University Planning annual conference in Portland, July 19.

The Undercover Philosopher cover artMind detective

HOW MANY DECISIONS have you made in the past week based on faulty information and untrustworthy advice?

You might be surprised, writes Michael Philips, professor emeritus of philosophy, in his book The Undercover Philosopher: A Guide to Detecting Shams, Lies and Delusions. The book is getting noticed. The hosts of the weekly National Public Radio talk show, Philosophy Talk, interviewed Philips, and you can listen to the interview at

Drawing on philosophy, science, and psychology, Philips introduces readers to their own faulty perceptions and provides tips for seeing through the simple untruths that pervade modern life. The book, written for "literate and intelligent people," said Philips, is based on a course he taught at PSU during his almost 40 years on the faculty.

Philips retired three years ago and describes himself as an "academic philosopher in recovery." He has written for publications ranging from Mind and Philosophy Now to The New York Times. He is also the author of Philosophy and Science Fiction and a book on moral philosophy, Between Universalism and Skepticism: Ethics as Social Artifact.

Amateur filmmaker meets success

THE STAR was reluctant, the camera was cheap, and the budget was just $700. In the end, none of that mattered. The documentary created by Lonnie Tristan Renteria '95, MA '97 was so well received that Viacom bought it and aired it during February, Black History Month, on LOGO TV.

The name of Renteria's documentary, Ebony Chunky Love: Bitch Can't Get a Date, is R-rated, just like the comedy of the film's star, Keith Price. Price is a gay, black comedian from Texas who deals with issues of dating and self-esteem in his one-man show in the comedy clubs of New York.

Renteria—a self-taught filmmaker—spent two weeks filming Price and much longer assembling the footage back home in Seattle, where he teaches at the Art Institute of Seattle. The resulting film includes candid interviews interspersed with footage of Price's act and his home movies.

Renteria was surprised by the film's broad appeal and how powerfully some audience members were affected, regardless of their race or sexual orientation. "What the film does tell you is that comedy can be cathartic," says Renteria. "People who see this film realize that there are ways of transcending their own sense of marginality."

Ebony Chunky Love was awarded best film in its category at the 2009 San Diego Black Film Festival and was well received on the festival circuit. The film can be seen at Renteria is working on a sequel that he hopes to have finished in time for the fall festival circuit.

New Works

Duet with hummingbird
By Ana Callan '85, Three Muses Press, 2008

The good wife's guide: Le menagier de Paris, a medieval household book
By Gina Greco (foreign languages and literatures faculty) and Christine Rose (English faculty), Cornell University Press, 2009

Live through this: A mother's memoir of runaway daughters and reclaimed love
By Debra Gwartney (English faculty), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009

A new conservation politics: Power, organization building and effectiveness
By David Johns '76, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009

Eternal images of Sakyamuni
By Junghee Lee (art faculty) and Kan Woo-bang, Korea Foundation, 2008

Music recording by Cappella Romana, Alexander Lingas '86, 2009

Music to watch girls by
Music recording by Quadraphonnes, Michelle Medler '01, 2009

Something has to happen next
By Andrew Michael Roberts '04, University of Iowa Press, 2009

Live through this
Eternal images of Sakyamuni

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 Portland State Magazine, Office of University Communications, PO Box 751, Portland OR 97207-0751.