Scott Cawelti

About Scott Cawelti -

Scott Cawelti was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He taught writing, film, and literature at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) from 1968-2008, and has written regular opinion columns and reviews for the Waterloo / Cedar Falls Courier since the late 1970s.  He played for years in a folk duo with Robert James Waller and still regularly performs as a singer/guitarist/songwriter. Scott continues to teach as an adjunct instructor at UNI.



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  • Day 22: St. Pauls, Three Singers, a Burka and E-Reader.

    • Posted on Oct 25, 2013 by Scott Cawelti

    Day 22:  I.O.W.A in London

    Thursday, 10-24-13


    Angeleita spent the afternoon in the London Metropolitan Archives, so I made my way to St. Paul’s Cathedral for the afternoon. Here’s a street photo of the dome from below, then from down the street from the west looking east. 


    What an extraordinary building.  Finished in 1708 by Sir. Christopher Wren, it's 365 feet high, the tallest building in London until the early 1960s.  

    On that top little dome, there's a walkway all the way around, some 528 steps from the Cathedral floor. A few brave souls made it.  Not me, sorry to say.  

    This was the site that the Nazis bombed mercilessly during the 1940-41 blitz, and obliterated most of the surrounding buildings.  But not St. Paul’s.   Every night for the entire blitz volunteers stayed in and around the dome to put out incendiary bomb fires and try to protect the ancient building as best they good.  And it worked.  St. Paul, though badly damaged, was never destroyed. 


    Hitler thought that if he could destroy this ancient icon of the British Empire, the Brits would just give up.   He never found out.  


    St. Paul’s is named after Saul of Tarsus’s conversion to Christianity, which by legend began Christianity itself.  Here’s the west façade showing the moment of Saul’s conversion to St. Paul—the rays of light from God blinding him into seeing.  


    We were invited to dinner last night by Michel Bellavance, one of Angeleita’s longtime flute buddies who teaches flute in Geneva but lives in London with his partner Michel Nussbaumer. 

    What a homemade feast he made—partridge, no less, preceded by prawns wrapped in cabbage leaves.  Absolutely wonderful.  And homemade caramel ice cream to finish.  No wonder my pants seem tight.  


    We ended the evening singing Broadway tunes—Michel Nussbaumer is a fine pianist, and of course flutists are always good singers.   ;>]


    One quick note on a Tube sight yesterday early afternoon:  a Muslim woman in a full burka.  Nothing unusual there, except she wore red and white tennis shoes, which peaked out from the flowing black cloth, and reddish/pink nails—on hands holding an e-reader, probably a Kindle. 


    Which she was reading.  



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    • Cedar Valley Chronicles

    • Posted on Oct 24, 2013 by Scott Cawelti

    I.O.W.A 25 Days in London
    Thursday, Oct. 23


    No interviews and a sunny-ish day in London, so we ventured out and about.  Never a dull day in London as long as you hit the streets.


    Any of fans of the BBC TV series “Dr Who”?  If so, you must know about the “Time and Relative Dimensions in Space” machine?  I mean the TARDIS?  It’s a time machine with a broken “chameleon” mechanism, so it “landed” by mistake in the early sixties in London disguised as a police call box.  So those old and very real police call boxes became Dr. Who’s iconic time machine. 


    Here’s Angeleita beside the TARDIS at the BBC TV studio headquarters yesterday.   One of her students requested that we seek one out (she’s a Dr. Who fan) and we did.


    Just down Regents street sits a “Bottega,” an Italian coffeehouse chain shop, and we wandered in in lieu of Starbucks.   Angeleita was looking for some ground coffee, and asked the barista if she could grind a half-pound. “No,” she was told curtly.

    Then the young woman thought about it and turned to a well dressed man beside us.


    He took up the conversation and asked again what we wanted, where we were from and clearly took an instant interest in Angeleita.  My lovely wife, in her warmest, friendliest, most bewitching way, asked if the owner could grind and sell her some coffee.   He said he was there to discuss opening several more stores in America, and yes, we could have some coffee.  He pulled out a TWO POUND bag of beans and said, “Here—take them.” And smiled.  We were both struck dumb for an instant, thinking he was joking.  But he wasn’t, and he was clearly the owner of a chain of London Bottegas. 


    We will now bring home two pounds of fresh Bottega Italian Arabica espresso coffee beans, since we have no grinder here.


    Once more I’m in awe of Angeleita’s charms.  She has always bewitched me.  


    Then we tubed over to Victoria station, which sits directly across from the “Victorian Palace” theater.  The current theater, built in 1911, has been playing “Billy Elliott” since 2005, and it will probably close in two months, in December.  Here’s the exterior: 


    And the lovely ornate interior:  

    “Billy Elliott” deserves its many awards and rave reviews.  It’s about a 12-year boy from a rough North England mining family who’s a gifted dancer.   His father sends Billy for boxing lessons, but the boy secretly takes up ballet lessons.  The rest is rather predictable—the father forbids him to continue ballet, fearing the boy will be taken as effeminate, or worse, gay.  Billy perseveres, thanks to his teacher and grandmother, and eventually his father becomes his biggest fan and supporter. Little Billy eventually joins the Royal Ballet.

    The most touching scene involves young Billy literally dancing with the mature dancer he will become in “Swan Lake.”  It gave me shivers—the young Billy and the mature professional dancer Billy in sync—the all-but-perfect embodiment of a world-class ballet dancer with the beginner.   It was memorable.  The 12-year old actor/dancer, Harrison Dowzell—was extraordinary.  In fact, he really is 12, and he really dances like a demon for 21/2 hours, all but effortlessly.  One of four Billys, he joined the cast in May, and is the 65th boy to play Billy Elliott.  Just watching him transform into a fledging dancer was worth the price. 


    One serious complaint:  the seats in the Victoria Palace.  Either people were much smaller in 1911, or the builders were told to squeeze in as many seats as possible, but neither of us could sit straight without crunching our knees, hard, on the seats in front.  So we had to sit sideways, which wasn’t too bad as long as we had seats between us.  But in a crowded theater, it wouldn’t have worked. 


    See how close the seats are—photo taken after the performance last night. 



    I would avoid this old theater, historic and beautiful as it was, because it was just too damned uncomfortable. 


    But we did love Billy Elliott.  

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