The Odd Men Out, a men's group that meets to watch and discuss movies on odd Wednesdays of each month, includes (back row, l to r) Curt Byers '80; David Vader, director of the Collaboratory; Gene Chase, professor of mathematics and computer science; (front row) Ron Ross '88; Paul Tucker '78; and Bob Getty '89.
The Odd Men Out
Read an Odd Men review of the 2006 film Stranger than Fiction
The Odd Men Out, a local movie watching, debating fellowship of film enthusiasts, chose their own name for the fact that they get together on the odd numbered Wednesday of each month, not to mention the quirky personalities represented there. The group includes former Messiah students and current faculty, and has met regularly about five years.
Paul Tucker ’78
— a carpenter and contractor by trade and truly a renaissance man with interestes ranging from mathematics to music to visual art
— was the instigator of this spirited film discussion group.He was longing for connection with people who could tackle intellectual, social, spiritual issues in a way where “the answers wouldn’t always be ‘God’ or ‘the devil.’” He wanted to get together, he said, “with some other thinking people and use films as a catalyst for discussion. So I called around to these guys and here we are.”
Many of the group have known each other for decades. Gene Chase, professor of math and computer science at Messiah, met Paul more than 30 years ago when Paul was still in high school and Gene was working with the local Young Life ministry. Others in the group met as undergrads at Messiah. Curt Byers values these enduring friendships, saying, “That’s a long time to have known people, and those are irreplaceable relationships.” David Vader, professor of engineering and director of the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research, attends Dillsburg Brethren in Christ Church where Paul and his wife Kimberly attend.
Through the years the membership has remained steady. A few times, friends have been invited to join the Odd Men, but never stayed for long. As Paul explains, “they were all odd people, but they were not the same frequency oddness as us.” Part of the dynamics of their Wednesdays nights is tied to their deep understanding of the perspectives, special interests, and personal histories of each member of the group.
Paul Tucker (left) says, "I wanted to get out with some other thinking people and use films as a catalyst for discussion and so I called around to these guys and here we are."
Paul says, “the important thing about this group is that we’ve all learned at some point, individually (but now we’ve come together) to look at films on a different level. … We don’t just go into the movie theatre to be amused or entertained.” Each member of the group brings their own expereience, expertise, and point of view to the discussions. For instance, Ron Ross '88 and Bob Getty '89 were radio, TV and film majors at Messiah, and they often focus on the aesthetics of a film while Curt
— the group’s resident theologian
— analyzes movies for their spiritual meaning.
Ron agrees, “We’ve introduced each other to different movies and challenged each other to look differently at movies we’ve seen before.”
Not surprisingly, individuals in the group often disagree on the value of the wide variety of films they have seen. They have drawn different lines for themselves regarding what is appropriate to view (language, violence, etc.), and so not everyone watches every movie. A recent favorite of all the Odd Men was Stranger than Fiction (2006); other favorite films the group as a whole include Amelie (with the exception of Gene who feels he is the most sensitive person in the group to flesh), Adaptation, Everything is Illuminated, Millions, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Princess Bride, Grand Canyon, and The Matrix.
They explore a lot of independent films, frequenting Harrisburg’s Midtown Cinema and the local movie rental store, and also catch an occasional showing at Messiah College’s own Parmer Cinema.
As often happens with people who discuss books and films, the Odd Men have developed relationships which are supportive and sustaining. Group members have been together through many life transitions in the past few years. “I count these people among my very best friends,” Paul says.
—Susan K. Getty '84