by Lucy Leitner
Last year, Carnegie Mellon’s choice of commencement speaker prompted me to write my first piece of hate mail to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after they erroneously credited speaker Aron Ralston with being the first amputee to raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. As someone who has seen the Grand Canyon IMAX movie an inordinate amount of times (it’s the most entertaining aspect of the place to a kid), I knew this statement to be false. Since they inexplicably decided not to publish my glorious rant about that day’s home page of their web site, I will share it here before I get into the reason for this post:
First, I believe that the staff of the Post-Gazette should look into the adventures of John Wesley Powell, the one-armed man who traveled down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon 150 years ago, before awarding a verbal medal to amputee du jour Aron Ralston. I am not sure if Powell’s was necessarily a rafting adventure, but I guarantee that there was little more technologically advanced than a compass on the original one-armed explorer’s vessel.
However, my problems with the Post-Gazette’s homepage today are far deeper, as very little featured could actually be considered news. There’s the apocalyptic radio nut whose opinions should be relegated to “World of the Psychic with Peter Venkman” and the sheer absence of zombies in his theory make it completely unrelated to Pittsburgh. Then there’s the fat white trash who gave birth in a truck, which I’m sure has never happened before.
Sadly, the closest item passing for news is the Pirates’ loss to the Brewers, which has only occurred 35 times in recent years and far more spectacularly last season.
But keep me informed on all the breakfasts with Christina Aguilera. By the looks of that photo, she’s been eating Britney Spears.
Glad to finally share that.
This year, CMU brings another notable alum to town who can be seen as an upgrade based solely on the number of remaining limbs and preference for spending time of movie sets rather than with rocks. Patrick Wilson will address the class of 2012 at the commencement ceremony on May 20. Though his characters on film have been subjected to such indignities as castration (Hard Candy), being haunted by an ex-wife (A Gifted Man), a love triangle with his girlfriend and her a disfigured psychopath stalker (The Phantom of the Opera), and violent harassment from Samuel L. Jackson (Lakeview Terrace), Wilson’s had a pretty solid career on stage and screen since graduating from CMU in 1995.
He’s also appeared in several Broadway productions, including Oklahoma! and Barefoot in the Park, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in the HBO miniseries Angels in America. During this successful decade-and-a-half, he has maintained a relationship with his alma mater as a member of the Education Affairs and Enrollment Committee and a university trustee since 2009. His wife, actress Dagmara Dominczyk, is also a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon drama program.
Wilson’s appearance should provide a welcome injection of optimism to a generation increasingly being told that their degrees—and by extension their hard work, accumulation of debt, and aspirations—are meaningless. Let’s just hope the local media does not credit him with the Fourteen Points. That was a different Wilson.