April 25, 2008

A measly 15 DIWITTYs

Back in 2005, I used to talk to Renato Umali quite a bit. I was working at a music store where Renato teaches piano so I was seeing him three or four days a week, I guess, and talked to him on the phone when he had to make some adjustment to his schedule or whatever. I don't remember exactly.

It's not that I don't remember exactly because Renato isn't an interesting guy and a heck of a personable and funny one at that. Aside from being a pretty decent pianist and from all accounts a beloved music teacher, he's a knowledgeable cinéaste who teaches a few courses in film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is engaged to a lawyer, is an avid cyclist and a rabid hockey fan, is a nationally-ranked Scrabble player, and is fairly well known in the community for his activities as a conceptual artist.

Of Renato's February 8 performance at the Bremen Café in Riverwest, learned counsel, talented singer/songwriter, and independent recording artist Mike Plaisted had this to say:
Renato did one of the most amazing things I ever saw — singing a book about British colonialism in India, in character with the English guy. Incredible.
Besides, you don't have to remember when or how often you talk to Renato because he keeps track of all of that, since he's also a remarkably fastidious diarist. So that's how I know I talked to Renato on 86 separate occasions in 2005. He could give you the dates and the exact times.

In fact it was so many times I actually won an award for it, an Umali Award commemorating my 86 DIWITTYs, which means, "day in which I talk to you." Eighty-six DIWITTYs put me in fourth place for 2005, if I recall correctly, and the award was presented at an elaborate ceremony at a very cool Riverwest loft attended by a formally dressed cast of hundreds.

I even got to make an acceptance speech, so I could express how honored and humbled I was to help facilitate Renato's obsessive-compulsive disorder, or something like that. Whatever it was it got a big laugh. I still see Renato fairly often but I haven't attended an Umali Awards since then. Until tomorrow night, which is when Renato celebrates the seventh annual Umali Awards and I get to present one this time.

Except the Umali Awards aren't in Riverwest anymore, as Renato has eschewed the trappings of his Bohemian roots and moved Uptown to the UWM Peck School of the Arts' posh and high-tech INOVA/Kenilworth Square (because, Renato claims, it's closer to Izumi Japanese restaurant on Prospect Ave.).

And, as depicted above, for the Umali Awards trophies themselves, Renato has upgraded from hand printed certificates to fancy golden statuettes. Next year Joan Rivers will be outside on a red carpet. In other words, Renato has SOLD OUT. Just kidding. Tomorrow's big night is guaranteed to be the most elaborate and successful yet.

DIWITTYs aren't the only thing Renato keeps track of; he also logs practically each minutiae of his daily life, including the details of each meal he takes, and then he even plots the results on spreadsheets which he analyzes and draws global inferences from and determines wider trends. For example, this year's snazzy full color seventh annual Umali Awards lobby card bears a bar chart/graph comparing y axis = eggs with x axis = known vegans.

I have no idea what that means, or if that includes both full bore vegans and lacto-ovo vegans, or even if there is such a thing as a lacto-ovo vegan, but it looks to me like the eggs are beating the vegans for a change. Some of this year's Umali Awards categories are similarly cryptic: "Come root for Anna Oxygen, Egg Fried With Rice, New Glarus's Spotted Cow, Classic Slice, February 12 2007, and a whole bunch of other nominees!" it says here.

I've been reviewing my speech, which Renato has written, and is almost like a television script because the prefatory remarks are accompanied by a tightly coordinated PowerPoint/video presentation. Actually it looks like I'm presenting three Umali Awards, for the tenth, ninth, and eighth place 2007 DIWITTYs. And I notice I'm also being forced to admit to the ignominy of following my 86-DIWITTY triumph of 2005 with a woeful 15 in 2006.

Oh well. I guess it was one of those records that will never be equaled, like Chicago Blackhawk Bill Mosienko's three goals in 21 seconds against the Rangers on March 23, 1952. I can't say what Bill Mosienko had to eat that day, but I wouldn't be surprised if Renato can. And he probably has a chart comparing Bill Mosienko hat tricks with the incidence of lacto-ovo vegans. If he doesn't I bet you he thinks that would be a good idea.

And so once again I'm honored and humbled to be involved with the Umali Awards, especially in what promises to be the fanciest, conceptualiest see-and-be-seen-at gala event of the social season. See you there.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget to polish up your spats and varnish your cigarette holder.

illusory tenant said...

The Eustace Tilly or Mr. Peanut look?

Anonymous said...

Your social life is so much more interesting than mine.

illusory tenant said...

Considering this happens once every three years, things don't sound so good for you, then.

capper said...

Ah, but do you have any dowops to go with those diwittys?