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"Turn around!" my wife squeals. "There's a plane crash back there!"
She's not kidding. But Richard Pollard is.
Pollard, owner of Pollard Motor Sales on Illinois 37, just north of Salem in south central Illinois, does indeed have an airplane planted nose-first in his backyard. It's first-rate yard art. Besides the plane, which is set in concrete, he has a "bumper crop" – an assortment of more than 300 chrome car bumpers growing out of the ground. And there's the "pot rod," a riding lawn mower equipped with a toilet, a giant ladybug (a Volkswagen Beetle with six metal legs sprouting from it) and more.
I love this guy. And I love this kind of stuff: Roadside architecture.
URBANA – During the Democratic National Convention in Denver last month, Will Fernandez, 14, interviewed politicians and delegates. He saw Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan exchange an awkward hug, prompted by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. at a morning Illinois delegation meeting.
He had some celebrity sightings, like Chevy Chase getting his picture taken with Denver police officers and "House" actor Kal Penn helping in the convention center.
DANVILLE – Danville police officers will be looking for their fifth consecutive win in the annual charity softball games pitting them against firefighters Saturday at Danville Stadium.
All proceeds from the fifth annual event will go toward Friendly Town in Lincoln Park, where local children are taught traffic, fire and bicycle safety.
SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Art Association will present its 20th annual Edwards Place Fine Art Fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday on the grounds of Edwards Place, 700 N. Fourth St., Springfield. Admission is free.
Among the 90 U.S. artists juried into the fair from the Champaign-Urbana area are Michael Schwegmann of Boneyard Pottery, Champaign, and Sherry Corbin of Kindred Spirits Pottery, Monticello; mixed media, Brian Sullivan, Champaign; wearable art, Jill Miller, Hooey Batiks, Urbana; precious metal/jewelry, Patty Lindbloom, Champaign; and metal, David and Niela Millar, Urbana.
URBANA – The fall UFLive! concert series at the Urbana Free Library opens this Sunday with a program produced by local music legend Dan Perrino.
"Let Us Entertain You: Songs Made Popular by Famous Singers" features vocalist Caitlin Caruso Dobbs, a teenager who has established herself in many local community theater productions, among them "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Les Miserables."
CHAMPAIGN – A professor and a Ph.D. candidate might have a friendly working relationship, but they're usually not friends.
Not so with University of Illinois Professor Jeff Mondak and Sergio Wals, both of whom study political behavior. They not only work together academically but also musically.
The University YMCA's Know Your University lecture series begins later this month with a talk by Provost Linda Katehi, who is expected to addresses a variety of campus issues.
The Know Your University talks are held at noon on Tuesdays in Latzer Hall at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., C.
RANTOUL – More than 160 former civilian employees and military personnel at Chanute Air Force Base are returning to Rantoul this weekend.
They'll be swapping stories, revisiting favorite old hangouts and talking about their lives at the second Chanute Air Force Base Reunion, planned at various sites around Rantoul this Friday and Saturday.
Racing official Dick Jordan will open the gates at 9 a.m. Sept. 27 for this year's Jungle Park Reunion in Rockville, Ind.
Jordan, U.S. Auto Club vice president/communications director, will serve as grand marshal for the event. The historic old dirt raceway is 8 miles north of Rockville on U.S. 41.
CHAMPAIGN – Writer, filmmaker and actor Hadjii – on his cell phone with this reporter – was walking down the street in Athens, Ga., on Friday afternoon when a passer-by asked:
"You in that show?"
"Yeah, Tuesdays at 10. Spread the word," Hadjii replied.
That show is "Somebodies," a spinoff of Hadjii's independent feature of the same title that he brought to Roger Ebert's Film Festival at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign in 2006.
The Ebertfest audience embraced it, and television critics who have seen the BET series – the first scripted series in BET's 28-year history – are giving it good reviews, with Associated Press television writer Frazier Moore calling it one of five new series to watch.