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Guest columnist Joe Kirkish, of Houghton, is a retired Michigan Technological University professor of communications, photographer and film and theatre critic.
Despite "retiring" about 13 years ago, Joe has continued his untiring efforts to build appreciation for the arts in the local communities.
With all his volunteer activities and his continued creative work, it's hard
to believe Joe celebrated his 80th birthday on May 23, 2005.
| Joe Kirkish exhibits his photos at the December 2004 Poor Artists' Sale in
Calumet. (Photo © 2004 Michele Anderson)
"Seriously, it happened so fast; the age sneaked up on me," Joe
writes. "When I woke up Monday (23rd) and suddenly realized I was an octogenarian, I thought, odd, I don't feel any different than when I went to sleep last night at 79."
Although he was reprimanded by a local radio station for not telling them
about the event, Joe noted the word got around quite well.
"Emails, phone calls, cards, even some nice gifts in the mail -- and a wonderful capping of the day at Copper Harbor with friends (the wife cooks nothing but great French cuisine
à la Malcolm, right in her kitchen!)," Joe said. "Returned home that night, rich with good food
and wine, with that huge, orange moon following me all the way to the bridge. Next to the May 23 I spent on top of a hill in Istanbul in a sultan's rose garden -- smelling the
flowers, listening to Arabic music from hidden speakers, chewing on a simit and drinking
ayran, while down below I could see the Bosphorus and hear all the muezzin
chanting 'Allah, ya achbar."' What a day that was, too.*
Joe still spends much of his time reading to senior citizens at Still Waters
Assisted Living in Calumet. He visits them three times a week, sometimes showing
a film as well. Once a week he shows a film to seniors at the Bluffs in
Houghton, and once a month a film at Little Brothers in Hancock.
"I bring them golden oldies and musicals," he said. "I'm
enjoying this a lot because it gives me a focus each day."
Once a month Joe also gives a slide show for residents at Portage Point in
Hancock. Joe also drives Still Waters seniors to Calumet Theatre events.
| Joe often drives a van full of senior citizens from Calumet’s Still Waters
Assisted Living Home to Calumet Theatre events.
In this photo, he stands reflective in front of the van, which is also
reflecting both Joe (in profile, to the right) and the theatre across
Over the years, Joe has received many awards for his photography. Last year
(2004) he was very pleased to receive international recognition from Photo
Life, the best Canadian photo magazine, which published a portfolio of
his photos and a long article. The magazine allows only 15% of contributions from outside Canada.
"Naturally, I was thrilled and honored," Joe said. "It's a marvelous photo mag; I wanted to be in it for years. Beat out the rest of the world that time!"
This year (2005) Joe was pleased to have two of his black-and-white photos included
in the Culture and Agriculture art show in the New Visions art gallery in Marshfield,
Wis. The show features all sorts of media dealing with Wisconsin's great agricultural region.
Joe also exhibits his photos in Marshfield's adjoining art show, which includes
about 200 exhibitors from the Midwest. In 2001 he received their Best of Show
| At the Dec. 1, 2001, Poor Artists' Sale in Calumet, Joe
Kirkish poses with some of his photos and his "Best of Show"
ribbon earned at the 2001 Art Fair in Marshfield, Wis.
(Photo by Michele Anderson)
Joe's 2001 awards also include other photography awards of excellence, some publications, and the chance to create a series of abstractions projected onto a huge backdrop for Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" -- with wonderful
results, he says.
"In that category (photography), my cup runneth over," Joe writes
in a December 2001 email letter.
| This Clothesline photo by Joe Kirkish was selected as poster for an annual Midwestern art show
in 2001. (Photo copyright and courtesy Joe Kirkish)
Among Joe's many awards is that of 1999 MTU Alumnus of the Year. He also received an Award of Excellence in the 2001 MTU Spring Art Show.
The year 2001 also brought Joe an award in the "personality"
"Made it onto TV again, this time in some sort of "Hero of the Month" interview, which was fun; the MC shot me in every room of the house except for closets
and the bathroom, 90-minutes of effort for 90 seconds of air time. (So, Andy Warhol, I still have 13:30 to go.),"
Joe, who has a Ph.D. in Communication Skills from the University of Michigan, began teaching in the Humanities Department at Michigan Tech in 1954. Besides teaching freshman English and various speech courses, he originated two film appreciation classes and three photography classes. He also directed plays, wrote both stage and radio plays and originated the annual Michigan Tech Arts Festival and WGGL-FM. After joining the Calumet Theatre Board, he instigated Club Indigo, a nine-year-old monthly event that brings good food and good films to the Calumet Theatre.
Joe says he is "now busier than ever" and finds it hard to say "NO" to requests for his volunteer services and his talents.
In addition, Joe has published photos and exhibited in galleries all over the world, from Japan to the Riviera to the United States. Joe says he is
"still going strong with constant experiments, exploring new fields without following superficial fad
Joe Kirkish also writes a column, "From the Catbird Seat," for The Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton.
*Editor's note: A simit is a delicious Turkish pastry, somewhat
like a soft pretzel, but ring-shaped, usually with sesame seeds. Ayran is
a yogurt-type drink.
By Joe Kirkish Posted
HOUGHTON -- Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, is scheduled
for a limited engagement, at 7 p.m. and at 9 p.m., through Thursday, Aug. 31, at the Lode
in Houghton. Film critic Joe Kirkish calls it "stunning," gives it a
grade of A, and says, "Everyone should run, not walk" to see
Gore's impressive message on the time bomb that threatens with global warming. more
International Movie Night, Club Indigo to show Chinese films
By Joe Kirkish Posted
Joe Kirkish describes two very different Chinese films to be shown this week. The award-winning documentary Mardi Gras: Made in China will begin
the MTU International Movie Night series at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Room 135 of Fisher Hall on the Michigan Tech campus. Admission is free and open to the public.
This film describes the harsh working and living conditions of young Chinese
women who make plastic beads, in the largest Mardi Gras bead factory in the world, for the annual Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans.
On Friday, Nov. 18, at the Calumet Theatre, the Club Indigo food/film event
will present another Chinese movie --
Shaolin Soccer -- written, directed and starred in by Stephen Chow, who has made an international name for himself with his satires on two famous Chinese sports: kung fu and soccer.
Club Indigo to feature Anatomy of a Murder at Calumet Theatre Aug. 19
By Joe Kirkish Posted
-- Film critic Joe Kirkish offers two movie reviews for this week -- the
August Club Indigo classic film, Anatomy of a Murder, to be shown Friday,
Aug. 19, at the Calumet Theatre, and March of the Penguins, a
documentary Joe calls a "must see" on the big screen at the Lode
Theatre in Houghton. The Club Indigo film begins at 7:15 p. m., preceded at 6
p. m. by an Upper Peninsula buffet from chef Erik Karvonen of the Eagle River Fitzgerald Restaurant.
Keweenaw Now adds some highlights from a WNMU Public Radio 90
interview by Stan Wright, who spoke with Kirkish about the award-winning Anatomy
of a Murder, filmed in the Marquette area in 1959. more
Club Indigo to present Casablanca July 8
By Joe Kirkish Posted
-- Film critic Joe Kirkish gives a preview of the July Club Indigo feature
film, Casablanca, to be shown Friday, July 8, at the Calumet
Theatre. Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul
is set at the height of World War II -- a timely movie
about refugees from Europe seeking asylum in the notorious Moroccan city, where
they wait and hope for a passage to freedom. Joe calls Casablanca not
only a classic, but "the greatest romance of all times."
Movie begins at 7:15 p.m. (with a vintage Loony Toon included), preceded by an all
Mediterranean buffet from the Keweenaw Co-op at 6 p.m. more
Club Indigo to present Hitchcock film June 3
By Joe Kirkish Posted
HOUGHTON -- The Mu Beta Psi music fraternity presents the June food and film
event (Club Indigo) Friday, June 3, at the Calumet Theatre. The movie is vintage Alfred Hitchcock,
Foreign Correspondent (1940), in which the great director of suspense mixes comedy with seriousness in a
political situation. Kirkish notes this film has been considered by some critics to be
Hitchcock's finest and most important film. The movie begins at 7:15 p.m., preceded
at 6 p.m. by a Dutch gourmet buffet created by chef Erik Karvonen of Eagle River's Fitzgerald restaurant. Reservations for the buffet must be made at least a day in
advance, by calling the Theatre: 337-2610. Note: Guest columnist Joe
Kirkish recently celebrated his 80th birthday. Happy Birthday, Joe! more
Club Finndigo to present Kaurismaki's
Juha Jan. 21
By Joe Kirkish Posted
As a prelude to Hancock's annual Heikinpäivä celebration, the Calumet Theatre will present
well known Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's Juha as its third annual Club Finndigo,
at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 21, following a Finnish buffet at 6 p. m. Joe
Kirkish calls Juha "a modern silent movie in a richly handsome and detailed black and white -- complete with sound effects and an award winning musical score written expressly for this movie."
A short, prize-winning feature titled Finland, Winter Wonderland will
also be shown. Club Finndigo will kick off the weekend Heikinpäivä events that culminate on Saturday night with a grand buffet and dance
in Finlandia Hall on the Finlandia University campus. more
exposes; Spider-Man 2 dazzles
Two movies in town this week -- both by talented filmmakers -- are top
box-office attractions. While the first may be both thought-provoking and
disturbing, the second is dazzlingly escapist. Keweenaw Now guest columnist and
film critic Joe Kirkish offers reviews of Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit
9/11, winner of the Palme d'or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, and
of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2, a crowd pleaser with dazzling special
Club Indigo to present Charade April 25
CALUMET -- The Mu Beta Psi music fraternity will present Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in the 1963 suspenseful thriller
Charade at the Calumet Theatre's Club Indigo at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, April 25. The film will be preceded at 6 p.m. by a gourmet buffet provided by chef Eric Karvonen of the Fitzgerald Restaurant in Eagle River. Admission to both the buffet and film is $13. Movie alone, $3.50. Call 337-2610 for buffet reservations. Guest columnist Joe Kirkish reviews
Charade and some movies currently playing in the local area. more
Moore's Bowling for Columbine less daring than Roger
Guest columnist Joe Kirkish finds Michael Moore's new documentary, Bowling
for Columbine, somewhat disappointing compared to the filmmaker's first
success, Roger and Me, in which Moore attacked General Motors from the
point of view of laid-off workers in his hometown of Flint, Mich. Joe also
reviews two films now playing for the younger set, Daredevil and The
Jungle Book 2. more
Little Gem Theatre to feature Harold and Maude
By Joe Kirkish Posted 08/08/2002
HOUGHTON -- The Little Gem Theatre in Lake Linden continues to present golden oldies to a receptive audience. Coming up at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, will be Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude -- a film about an offensive eccentric who becomes a beacon in the life of a self-destructive rich boy. Joe Kirkish reviews this and other movies now playing in the local area.
Club Indigo to feature
Citizen Kane July 19
HOUGHTON -- The Calumet Theatre's Club Indigo will present CITIZEN KANE at 7:15 p.m. Friday, July 19. Guest columnist Joe Kirkish notes in his review that this Orson Welles classic has been called "the greatest single movie ever made." Keweenaw Co-op chefs will create a "Hollywood New Wave" cuisine for the gourmet buffet at 6 p.m. For a reservation call the theatre at 337-2610. Joe also reviews other films playing in the local area.
Club Indigo to feature
HOUGHTON -- Mu Beta Psi music fraternity presents the June Club Indigo at the Calumet Theatre Fri., June 21, with the light-hearted, romantic Australian comedy,
Strictly Ballroom. An all-Australian buffet, catered by Chef Chris of Northern Lights in Houghton, will be served at 6 p.m., the movie following at 7:15 p.m. Guest columnist Joe Kirkish reviews this and other movies playing in the local area.
Little Gem Theatre to show
Exodus June 6
HOUGHTON -- "Exodus" will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at at the Little Gem Theatre in Lake Linden. Guest columnist Joe Kirkish reviews this 1960 film adaptation of the Leon Uris novel, which
chronicles the post-World War II partition of Palestine into a homeland for Jews. Joe also reviews
eight other films now playing in the local area. more
Indigo to present Some Like it Hot
HOUGHTON -- Guest columnist Joe Kirkish says there's a joke going around the
Calumet Theatre. "Seems the two films selected for the winter months Club
Indigo programs are ironically titled. January's film, Alice's Restaurant,
was foodless; and now the February film, coming during the coldest month of the
year, is entitled Some Like It Hot," he says in his review of the
classic comedy to be presented by the MBY music fraternity at the historic
Calumet Theatre on Friday, February 15, at 7:15 p.m. more
Lord of the Rings disappointing, violent, repetitive
HOUGHTON -- Guest columnist Joe Kirkish expresses disappointment in Lord of the Rings and reviews some other films showing in the local area.
Potter offers fantasy, visual delights
HOUGHTON -- Guest columnist and film critic Joe Kirkish says Harry Potter is a visual delight with great acting to boot. In a post script, Kirkish offers his suggestions for fine video viewing and possibilities for next year's Club Indigo at the Calumet Theatre.
Club Indigo, local movies
offer escape from reality
HOUGHTON -- This season's last Club Indigo film, A Christmas Story,
which will be shown at 7:15 p.m. on Friday,
Nov. 16, at the Calumet Theatre, is
delightful nostalgia, while at least one local feature offers wholesome
entertainment for the whole family. more
Mystery, sentiment, silly sex mark local movie fare
HOUGHTON -- Guest columnist Joe Kirkish reviews two films playing locally – Hearts in Atlantis and
Zoolander, both rated PG-13 more
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