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Please buy, Madame, child vendor selling clay whistles in Hoi An, Vietnam, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




My oldest daughter, Dee, made 48 brownies this morning for a bake sale today. She and two other seventh-graders are doing a “pay it forward” class assignment, whereby they identify a worthy need and then do good works to support the cause.

Dee and her classmates decided to raise money for a global non-profit called Invisible Children. The group was created in the spring of 2003 when…

…three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them, a tragedy where children are both the weapons and the victims.

After returning to the States, they created the documentary “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda’s night commuters and child soldiers. The film was originally shown to friends and family, but has now been seen by millions of people.

The overwhelming response has been, “How can I help?” To answer this question, the non-profit Invisible Children, Inc. was created, giving compassionate individuals an effective way to respond to the situation.


Invisible Children has a singular mission: To use the power of stories to change lives around the world. There are many organizations that help children, some decades old, and I can only imagine it was tough for Dee and her two friends to choose a recipient for their project. Ths group appealed to them because of the medium (film), the young vibe to the organization, and its focus on schools and books for kids (many of whom been forced to grow up and participate in a tragic war) in Uganda.







There is so much poverty in this world. I have seen children in Delhi and Agra, India, little blind beggars and dirty-faced kids performing acrobatics down crowded walkways of trains—scenes and situations brought to light in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Vietnam, South Africa, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and communities in my very own New Mexico—these are some of the places where I’ve seen children living without the most basic of needs met.

It’s easy—perhaps even at times a necessary coping mechanism—to become inured to the realities of the world, especially when we don’t see with our own eyes the suffering and pain. But it’s all around us.

Dee and her classmates also chose as recipient for their works a no-kill animal shelter whose primary focus is to rescue dogs and cats on “death row” (those about to be euthanized by animal control centers in the state). One of the girls working with Dee on this project volunteers at this shelter, which is supported entirely by donations from the community and adoption fees.

These are tough realities for these girls to be aware of, yet they’re learning that through their efforts, no matter how small or big, they can make a difference.


It begins with doing a favor for another person– without any expectation of being paid back.


This is their second bake sale this month. Their goal is to raise $150 per organization. Their first bake sale they earned $80, and within just minutes of setting up for their sale today, they’re earned about $15. They’ll probably have one or two more sales before the project is due. I hope they surpass their goal.






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mii familia, “mii” family, friends, and strangers we’ve set up on the Wii we got for Christmas, December 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Santa brought us a Nintendo Wii for Christmas. Yesterday we had a good time hanging out at the house and learning how the Wii works. One of the best parts about the Wii is setting up each player, which is called a mii.

When setting up your mii, you can choose head shape, eye shape, nose shape, color of eyes, hair, etc. You can add moles, make-up, eyewear.

I think Jim did a pretty good job of fashioning his mii after himself. See if you can figure out which one he is in the screen shot above.

(BTW, if you find Jim, move over to his right—your left—and that is the mii the girls created to represent me.)


What were some of your favorite gifts and/or moments from the holidays?

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Simsonized, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Simpsonized QM, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I do kind of look like this photograph. That’s Kiev up on my shoulder. She’s upset that I’ve done three posts about Mr. StripeyPants (“Pants” for short) and have yet to upload one photograph of her sleek and furry self. (If it pleases the court, we’d like to submit the following items into evidence: Exhibits #1, #2, #3.) I’ll have to make restitution next year.

Liz was playing at the Simpsonize Me site one day and I leaned over her shoulder just in time to take a slow walk through Springfield. The website’s been around a while, but if you haven’t tried it yet you’ll need Flash Player and a clear shoulders-up photo crop.

ybonesy’s still a bit groggy from her trip to Vietnam, so I guess a little self-indulgent play won’t hurt. Here are a few of my favorite things. Strange as they may be — they are all mine.



1. Answering The Phone, “Dunder Mifflin this is Pants…” — any The Office fans out there? In last week’s Moroccan Christmas episode, Meredith’s hair caught on fire. And Dwight Schrute was selling bootleg dolls during the Holiday party. It’s a must see.

2. Porcelain Sinks — Not partial to stainless steel in sinks or tubs. I like the tactile, white brightness of something more organic, and would rather hear the thump of dishes on porcelain than the clank of a glass on stainless steel. I do like brushed steel in microwaves, refrigerators, and stoves.

3. Cool Eyeware — I didn’t wear glasses until I was 42. I try to make the best of it. This year I bought a pair of squarish red Ray-Bans. I also like the way people look in glasses. I wonder if that’s because they look more writerly to me.

4. Woofle Jelly Cake — Hmmm. Ran across the recipe Mom sent last year for Ada’s Jam Cake with homemade preserves. More to come on that one later.



 

5. John Coltrane Playing My Favorite Things, Circa 1961 — John Coltrane with his band in Baden-Baden, Germany gets a 5 star rating from me. To view in widescreen, click on the link and it will take you over to Astrotype’s YouTube page with John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk, and more.


John Coltrane – soprano sax, tenor sax
Eric Dolphy – flute, alto sax
McCoy Tyner – piano
Reggie Workman – bass
Elvin Jones – drums


You can read about the life of John Coltrane in his biography in Rolling Stone or at JAZZ, a Ken Burns film on PBS.



My Favorite Things, written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, was first introduced by Mary Martin in the original 1959 Broadway musical production, and later sung by Julie Andrews in the 1965 film adaptation, The Sound Of Music. It has become popular around the Holidays for the winterish theme and upbeat tempo.

I can be found humming it around the house. And you might, too, after you hear Coltrane play it. Are there songs that get stuck in your head this time of year? What are some of your favorite things?

 

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels;
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles;
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes;
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes;
Silver-white winters that melt into springs;
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.



A Walk Through Springfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.A Walk Through Springfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.A Walk Through Springfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

A Walk Through Springfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 14th 2008

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  • February 1978: Rode up three floors in an elevator with Rock Hudson. I was in Durango, Colorado, with my high school ski club over Presidents Day holiday. Rock was in Colorado filming the movie Avalanche, also starring Mia Farrow. We were at the plush (for those days) Tamarron Resort. I got onto the elevator, saw Rock, turned my back and acted like I didn’t notice him. Three floors later the doors opened and Rock got out. He brought light to the then little known AIDS epidemic after dying from the disease a few years later.
  • 1982: My college friend “Suzy Paduzer,” whose uncle was a well-known Hollywood film director, insisted I meet someone named Demi Moore and her husband Freddy for a drink at a hotel lobby bar in Albuquerque. Demi and Freddy were in town to see Demi’s mother, who Suzy had in Spanish class at the University of New Mexico. Suzy said that Demi and Freddy were the coolest people ever, that Demi was a promising actor who’d just been cast in a soap opera, and her husband was lead singer for a band called Boy. I joined Suzy, Demi’s mom, Demi, and Freddy for a drink. They seemed distracted and bored, although my friend Suzy, who I eventually lost track of, continued her friendship with Demi for some time.
  • About four years ago: Sold a pair of vintage Ecuadoran silver earrings, dangle-y, to Ali McGraw during the annual Santa Fe Ethnographic Art Show. Ali, who has a home in Santa Fe, was working with a flamboyant and famous (among folk art folk) businessman friend of hers, while I was working the booth across from them for a not-so-famous but respected vendor of Latin American jewelry and art. I acted (guess how?) cool as a cucumber as I wrote out the sales slip and handed Ali her new earrings. She must have been in her 60s and still cute as a bug, albeit a wee bit snooty. But then again, so was I.
  • October before last: During the Abiquiu art studio tour, stopped in at Marsha Mason’s lavender farm. Marsha wasn’t there, and as I recall the place was for sale, but still, I bet I stepped on Talavera tiles that she stepped on a thousand times, barefoot.
  • Tonight: Ate at Temple Club in Ho Chi Minh City—gorgeous, quaint, and serving yummy food, plus is the spot where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in 2006 had dinner and scootered to their hotel. I’m told they reserved the intimate top floor, where we sat tonight. For all I know, one of them (or both) sat on the same velvety chair that I sat on.




What about you? What are your brushes with fame?

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Twilight Advance, advance ticket for opening day of Twilight, the long-awaited film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s young adult hit series, image © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Twilight opened at midnight last night, and I imagine theaters everywhere were filled with teenage girls dressed in black. My teen didn’t make it; today was a school day.

But guess who has a ticket for a showing tonight? Yep. The way I see it is, these are the things that eventually become memories when today’s kids get to be our age. Standing in line for over an hour to get a good seat in the theater on opening day of Twilight, or sitting two rows from the front of the screen and being unable to straighten your neck when the movie ends. Sweet.

I don’t remember standing in line as a kid to be among the first to see a movie or to buy a book. Maybe life was simpler then and less sales-driven. Or maybe my parents just wouldn’t stand for such nonsense.

I’m pretty sure it’s the deprived child in me that now indulges my daughters and last year endured the torture of standing—or, rather, leaning—in line, half alseep at one in the morning, so I could fork over $24.99 to a testy cashier and get Dee’s copy of the long awaited Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.



     



What did we have that was even slightly similar? My older sisters swooned over The Beatles and Elvis, although I don’t think they ever made it to a concert. Jim remembers going to see 2001: A Space Odyssey on his 13th birthday, although it wasn’t opening night. “Nah, we never went to openings when I was a kid.” And in general, we still avoid the crowds that come with any opening night.

Although, Em reminded Jim that we all went to see Wall-E the first night it opened this past summer. We were in Taos for the Taos Solar Festival, and on a whim the Friday night we rolled into town, we decided to go see Wall-E. We sashayed on in, bought our tickets, and sat smack dab in the middle of a mostly empty theater. We couldn’t believe our luck. No way we would have ventured to an Albuquerque theater for opening night of any movie, not even a Disney Pixar one.

But some people love the excitement of being among the first. It’s kind of like making history. Or, like I said, making memories.

How about you? Do you move with the throngs or do you hang back until the crowds thin?




-Related to posts My Kid Got Bit By Stephenie Meyer and Stephenie Bit Me, Too!

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by Judith Ford


actor-jude-suffering

Actor “Jude” Suffering, dramatization of author Judith Ford in Discovery Health Channel series Mystery ER, photos © 2008 by Judith Ford. All rights reserved.




Last April, when Discovery Health Channel contacted me, I’d been working on my book, Fever of Unknown Origin, for over 15 years. I never intended it to be what it turned out to be—a 600-page manuscript with multiple plotlines and themes. It started out as a way to come to terms with a serious illness that put me in the hospital for most of the summer of 1990.

But while I wrote, my life kept happening. My parents got sick and died; their stories seeped into the book. What I thought and felt about my illness, about illness in general and about death, changed. I did countless rewrites. In 2003, I launched a website, www.judithford.com, expecting I’d be ready to market the manuscript within a year. That didn’t happen. I got discouraged and quit writing more than once, each time returning weeks later with renewed vision, scrapping whole chapters, restructuring and polishing what remained. Fever and I had been alone together too long; I’d lost momentum.

And then I received the Discovery Health Channel email. Bill, a “finder” for the network, found my website. He was looking for stories for a new TV series called Mystery ER. “Yours would be a great story for us,” he told me, “and free publicity for you.”

I didn’t jump at the offer. I’d watched Discovery Health Channel once or twice and knew that it aired stories of real people dealing with dramatic medical issues. I wasn’t sure participating would be good for me or for Fever. I told Bill I’d think it over. He sent me a CD with samples of Mystery ER.

The first opened with a woman having energetic convulsions on an ER gurney. The second involved an orthodox Jewish boy who’d contracted trichinosis, somehow, without ever having eaten pork. He collapsed in an ER doorway. While the stories were presented with respect for the patients and what looked like medical accuracy, I didn’t see how my book would fit. It contained no scenes of me passing out or seizing.



more-silly-yoga-poseMy illness had developed in slow motion, starting in 1979 with bone-numbing fatigue, low fevers, and an odd prickly rash. I went to doctors who theorized hypoglycemia, spider bites, allergies, chronic mono. None had treatment suggestions, so after two years of feeling like hell, I created my own plan. It included lots of sleep, no refined sugar or white flour, daily lap swimming, dance classes, yoga, and meditation.

Gradually, I got well and stayed well until 1990, when all the symptoms returned, this time with higher fevers. I also developed anemia, systemic inflammation, and eventually, ulcerative colitis. All dramatic enough to compel me to write but not, I thought, material for a TV show. How could Mystery ER dramatize a fever of 106, an itchy rash, abnormal liver function, and an enlarged spleen? And how in the world could they condense what had become a story about my life into thirty minutes?

“Not to worry,” Nora, the producer, told me. “We’ll just deal with your illness, not the rest of the book, and we’ll write it in a way that’s compelling and authentic.” She offered to come to Milwaukee to interview on camera me, my husband, Chris, and one of my doctors. The show would include clips of our interviews interspersed with dramatizations, played by actors. “And,” said Nora, “we’ll let you mention your book on camera.” It was the promise of book publicity that made me say “Yes.”



chris-ford-and-a-producerThe morning of the filming, the lighting and sound guys took over my friend Judy’s downtown Milwaukee condo. They banished her, her four-year-old granddaughter, and three dogs to the master bedroom. The TV crew moved furniture, set up shades to block the floor-to-ceiling windows, and demanded absolute silence. Each interview was two-and-a-half hours long, including breaks to deal with shifting light, the phone ringing, and the grandchild slinking out to lean adorably—but distractingly—against the wall to watch us.

At first, I enjoyed being asked detailed questions about my illness. What was my life like when it began? Busy, way, way busy. Had I believed my first recovery, in 1981, had happened as a result of meditation and dietary changes? Yes, I thought I’d been mentally and physically amazing. But as we got more deeply into the summer of 1990, my energy flagged. Frankly, having written in so many ways and in such detail about my suffering, I was bored by it.




                                                                chris-ford-anxiously-waiting-for-his-interview
                ruby-and-bear-less-than-amused




I perked up when we got to the part about my friend and former teacher, Dick, coming to the hospital to do a healing hypnosis two days before I was scheduled to have my colon removed. The night after the hypnosis I slept well for the first time in months. The colon symptoms abated and the colonectomy was cancelled. I went home five days later.

Nora perked up, too. “So when the medical people had given up on you, this other form of healing cured you?” Um. No. The medical people had far from given up; they were pumping me full of IV Prednisone and Demerol. They drew my blood many times a day. They’d hooked me up to a chest tube through which I was getting all my nutrition. My turn-for-the-better was sudden and wonderful, but it wasn’t magic, nor was it complete. It took two more months before I could go back to work. I had a serious relapse in 1997.

I explained this to Nora but her fascination made me worry that she was going to spin my story in a direction I didn’t want it to go.

“Did you feel that this was divine intervention?”

“Not really,” I said.




actual-jude-being-interviewed





The questions about what causes and cures disease are big and wide and controversial. My exploration of those questions is central to Fever and impossible to capture in sound-bites. Before I got sick in 1990, I would have told Nora that health was a decision, that most people could make themselves well with a combination of focus, relaxation, right thinking, and right eating. My 1990 relapse, eventually diagnosed as Adult Onset Stills Disease, blew all that certainty and bravado to bits. The only thing I knew for sure afterwards was that life is unpredictable, uncontrollable, precious, and brief.

At the end of my interview, Nora asked me what message I’d like to send to other people struggling with mysterious illnesses. I laughed out loud. “I spent 15 years and 600 pages on that,” I told her. “Give it a try,” she said.

I responded with something generic, like, “Every person who gets sick has to come up with their own sense of meaning.” Later, I wished I’d talked instead about how the illness changed me. How it humbled me. How it taught me to let go.

My doctor, Dr. M, was interviewed last. Just before her session, she whispered to me, “I don’t think I should be here. I don’t think what you had was Stills Disease.” She thought my diagnosis was ulcerative colitis, despite the fact that three other doctors had suggested the Stills label, conjecturing that the colitis had been caused by a drug reaction. I hadn’t had a colon symptom in 18 years. I reminded Dr. M. that even the gastroenterologist had rejected the colitis theory. “No,” she said, “I’m certain.”

Great, I thought. The whole show revolved around the Stills diagnosis. Would there be any show without it? Did I even want there to be a show?

While Dr. M was being interviewed in another room, I sat and worried over everything I had and hadn’t said. I wondered if I was doing my book a disservice, allowing it to be reduced to the one thin, unexamined plotline of my disease.

Nora took a break from Dr. M’s session to tell me, “Your doctor is driving me nuts. She’s giving me paragraphs of medical facts; none of our viewers will know what she’s talking about.”

“And,” Nora added, “she doesn’t think you ever had Stills disease.”

“Can we still do the show?” I asked, suddenly sure I did, in fact, want the show to go on.

“Oh yeah, we can edit out whatever doesn’t fit. It’s just annoying.”

And edit they did. The interview segments that took all day to film amounted to ten minutes of on-screen time.




actor-jude-looking-worrieda-doctor-actoractor-playing-jude-in-the-eractor-jude-throwing-out-junk-foodactor-mom-in-black-shawl-dyingactor-mom-saying-im-dying




“Inflamed,” my Mystery ER story, debuted on September 1. I expected the worst. What if they’d included my inane closing statement about “Everyone has their own meaning blah blah blah”? What if I looked old and dumpy? What if the editors made it sound like I’d cured myself with my mind? What if my story was no longer mine? I felt comfortable enough surrendering to the TV people at the time I signed release forms, yet as the Mystery ER logo lit up the TV screen I wanted to snatch my story back and protect it like the vulnerable newborn it suddenly seemed to be.

But really, the show was okay. More than okay. There were the requisite overly-dramatic bits – like a shot of my hypochondriac mother in a black shawl murmuring “I’m going to die,” and me in the kitchen frantically throwing out all the junk food when I was diagnosed as hypoglycemic. And the silly shot of me sitting in a yoga pose.

The interview sections, though, were fine. I looked okay and sounded smart enough to not embarrass myself. And, thank you very much, “everyone has to find their own meaning” ended up on the cutting room floor. As did all mention of my book. So much for the “free publicity.”

Now, two months later, I don’t mind losing the publicity. Much unexpected good has come of “Inflamed.” The friends who watched the show with me have gotten a lot of mileage out of doing imitations of my moaning mother. My sister-in-law has threatened to give me a black shawl for Christmas. Chris enjoyed seeing himself played by a handsome young actor with great pecs. My life-long running practice, an important theme in the book, made it into the script, and I loved seeing my actor-self running with better form than my own.

In the weeks since the show aired, all kinds of people—neighbors, former clients, the UPS man—have told me how much they liked the show, how impressed they were by the interview segments, and to ask if I’m well now. I am.

But here’s the really great part: Mystery ER lit a fire under me. It gave Fever more definition, more weight. It made me want to finish the book. It matters a great deal to me that a TV channel was interested in my story and that people who saw the show were touched by it.

This past summer, I went to a “How to sell your book” workshop at The Loft in Minneapolis and learned that a memoir doesn’t have to be completed before you market it. I hired a consultant to help me write the book proposal. She told me that mentioning Mystery ER in my cover letter would make busy editors and agents pay more attention. The proposal packets took most of August to write and assemble. Last week I sent out the first batch to eleven literary agents.

I’m doing the rest of the revisions with new enthusiasm, working every day. Fever and I aren’t alone together any more; I can feel my audience now, out there, waiting.




the-silly-yoga-pose

The “Silly” Yoga Pose, author Judith Ford in Mystery ER show
“Inflamed,” photo © 2008 by Judith Ford. All rights reserved.





Judith Ford is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was red Ravine’s very first guest writer, with her 25 Reasons I Write post. Reason #14: “I write to finish this damn book and it isn’t done yet.” (Remember that one, Jude? J)

You can eventually see the show, “Inflamed,” about Judith’s illness, as Discovery Health Channel re-runs all the episodes of Mystery ER. Check your local listings.

Oh, and all Mystery ER names have been changed.

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal
Skull
, watched only once (thank you), photos
© 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Once in a blue moon, I do it. I watch a movie twice.

Not the kind of re-watching that comes naturally, over time, when you remember how much you liked a movie the first time you saw it and decide to watch it again. I do that, too.

The kind of movie re-watching I’m writing about is different. It happens when a movie gets a grip on my psyche. When as I’m watching it I find myself falling in a slow headlong for the actors. Where, when the snow blows, a chill runs through my body, and when the music creeps in, I pull knees to my chest and hunker down.

It’s the kind of movie where I don’t take leave of my chair nor the screen until the credits run, and as soon as the credits run, I know I want to see it again. Now.

Sometimes I’ll wait a day. This time I waited two.

I first saw Transsiberian on DVD with Jim on Saturday night. Jessie (played by Emily Mortimer) is a recovering alcoholic photographer whose train-loving missionary husband, Roy (played by Woody Harrelson) has booked an eight-day train trip from China to Moscow as a way to infuse their troubled marriage with adventure and, hopefully, make Jessie happy. Their cabin mates are a guapo Spaniard backpacker named Carlos (played by Eduardo Noriega) and his much younger and very quiet girlfriend, Abby (Kate Mara). You know Carlos and Abby are trouble the moment they tumble into the shared cabin.

When I watched the movie again, last night, I pleaded all through it with Jessie to not fall for Carlos’ traps. Yet, the fact that she wouldn’t listen to me—it endeared her to me all the more. I love Jessie—so street smart and mature, yet so not in control.








The first movie to get a hold of me this way was an indy production that came out in 1984: Choose Me. I was 23, went to see it at The Guild Cinema on Central Avenue in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill. That time it was Keith Carradine (Mickey), Lesley Ann Warren (Eve), and Genevieve Bujold (as radio talk show host, Dr. Love) that pulled me in. And the music—Feelin’ right, you’re my choice tonight—by Teddy Pendergrass.

I watched the matinee, walked out into the too-bright sun to Bow Wow Records a few doors down, bought a cassette by Teddy Pendergrass, and went back to see the movie again. I even saw it a third time, the next day.

Looking back, my first clue that movies could affect me this way came in 1973. That’s the year Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford starred in The Way We Were. I was 12 years old, and my best friend and I took the city bus to Winrock Theater to see the movie. Afterwards we rode back in silence and walked slowly from the bus stop to our houses. Once inside, I disappeared into the bathroom, drew a bath, and sat in the tepid water for half an hour, crying. I couldn’t get over how Streisand’s activist Katie and Redford’s military man Hubbell could love one another so deeply yet be incapable of creating a life together.








Now with movies out on DVD, it’s easy to indulge in my once-in-a-blue-moon obsession. Last movie before Transsiberian that I watched twice in a row was Sex & Lucía. That time it was actor Tristán Ulloa who captured my imagination. Short and with hair like a rooster, he played a writer, Lorenzo, who, once he finds a woman to love—or, rather, she finds him, enamored as she is with his books—he can’t suppress his debilities and become the man he wants to be.

As goes Lorenzo, so went Jessie. I suppose Mickey, Eve, and Hubbell all did, too. Complex humans, good and bad fighting for dominance. Maybe that’s what pulls me in—a desire to know that epic struggle. Like a song that gets etched into my brain, the characters cut grooves somewhere inside me, and once there, I can let them go.

I will tell you this. My obsession with certain movies doesn’t last. I went back recently and re-watched The Way We Were and Choose Me, and whatever it was that got inside of me those many years ago, it’s no longer there.

Which is a good thing, I think. Much as I enjoy the infatuation when it hits, I wouldn’t want to spend all my days watching then immediately re-watching movies.

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Growing up I thought people fell into two categories: City Mouse and Country Mouse. I loved Green Acres for how it neatly jibed with my view of life. There was Eddie Albert’s character, living out his lifelong dream to be a farmer, and Eva Gabor, longing for a penthouse view and wasting her exotic beauty (and accent) on Arnold the Pig and squeaky Mr. Haney.

I empathized with both characters. What could be better than farm livin’ and all those pigs, ducks, and sheep? Ask my sister, I even loved—I mean truly loved—the smell of manure.

Yet city life seemed grand, too. My best friend in third grade, Andrea Crespin, lived in apartments, and every time I went to her house to play, her complex was full of kids our age. 

Later I discovered there were many shades of City and Country Mousedom. Some people were River, others Mountains, some even Golf Community. You could tell lifelong Desert people by the way the skin on their legs hung like drapes and their arms resembled beef jerky sticks. I heard Ocean people talk about the briny smell of the sea as if it were an aphrodisiac. I figured there were also people who swooned about the Tropics, although given that Gilligan and the Skipper were stranded on a desert island with cannibal headshrinkers, I couldn’t fathom that being a paradise.

Pop culture also informed my knowledge of city living: the Beverly Hillbillies, Buffy and Jody with Mr. French in a luxurious New York City apartment, and the Bradys and Partridges in their suburban surrounds.

When Jim and I got married and it came time to put down roots, we agreed we were more Country than City and narrowed our choices to the fertile Rio Grande valley or the wild and wooley Sandia Mountains. We dialed up realtor parents of a mutual friend and off we went house hunting.

One day sitting in a once-famous-but-now-defunct restaurant in the East Mountains of Albuquerque, Jim and I realized that while the mountains were beautiful in their own way, they were also filled with what at the time seemed like an awful lot of, well, survivalists. In the mountains we saw an inordinate number of rifles, barbed wire fences, barricades, and bomb shelters. Valley folk, on the other hand, were more likely to carry walking sticks and herd sheep in large pastures.

And so it was decided, we’d live in the river valley. It’s where we each grew up and where we ultimately decided to stay. I’ve run into a lot of people I knew from high school, and I’ve heard the same thing from most every one of them: You can take the boy (or girl) out of the valley, but you can’t take the valley out of the boy.

Is it as simple as where you grew up and what seeped into your growing bones? I spent all those years fishing for crawdads in ditches and hanging out at the river. I climbed cottonwoods and chased cotton through the month of June. I sometimes think that if you cracked me open, you’d find clods of fertile soil instead of blood. That after generations of being here, I’ve transmuted and become incapable of survival anywhere else.

I keep coming back to this theme: Place, Home. It’s like a Rubik’s Cube for me. What shapes our affinities to geography and why?

Help me figure it out. What calls to you? What particular geographic dimension bites you and doesn’t let go?

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Peace Be with US, a flag flies for peace during the rest of the election season, October 1, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




…don’t say anything at all.

Please.

It’s my plea to all passionate participants in our national elections.

If you can’t say something nice—about McCain, Palin, Obama, or Biden, and especially about and to their respective supporters—don’t say anything at all.

I’m tired of the bickering. The rage is wearing me down. I am a passionate person myself, and I don’t shy away from making my opinions known, but frankly, I can’t handle any more nastiness.


…you should just shut up and quit showing how stupid you are…

      -one commenter to another, on progressive The Huffington Post


…if anyone is a blathering idiot, it’s you…

      -one commenter to another, on conservative Michelle Malkin


Every morning I get up, grab a cup of coffee and scan my bookmarked websites to get the latest news on the presidential elections. I check all the usuals: AlterNet, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, msnbc.com, CNN.com, Politico, RealClearPolitics, and Washington Monthly. It soothes me to go to these sources as most have stories with a “blue-state” bent. News I can hang on to.

I don’t claim it’s a balanced approach—it’s not—but for someone like me, who can feel the anxiety rise every time I think about what might happen November 4, reading articles that confirm my world view keeps me calm. I get how venting about “the other side” can serve as a release and a way for like-minded people to bond. I find satisfaction there, too.

Well, I used to.

Even as much as I am guilty of seeking that kind of validation, I can honestly say I have finally OD’d.

I’m turned off by the meanness. Bloggers, pundits, columnists, candidates and their campaigns all set off the brawls with their claims and taunts. Then the spectators jump in. Behind the cloak of internet anonymity, they turn into hateful, rageful people. They attack. They say things I can’t imagine they’d ever say in person.

Internet rage has been around for as long as the internet has been around; who hasn’t received a flaming email at least once? But civil discourse has gone out the window, right at the time we need it most. We are losing our capacity to see one another as humans.

Right now, with tensions as high as they are, the last thing we need is to beat one another down. Right now, today, we need kindness and compassion. I need kindness and compassion.

Tonight is the vice-presidential debate. It promises to be a slugfest. Palin and Biden will be ferocious, and if they’re not, the internet and spin machines will fill in on their behalf. I, however, plan to swim against the current, and I’d like you to join me.

Before, during, and after the debate, I invite you to come here and say something nice about Palin or Biden or both. Anything. No sarcasm. No underhanded compliments. Find something you honestly feel the candidates have done well, even if it has to do with how they look. 

You’ll still get mad at the candidate you want to lose (or the one you want to win) and probably reach a point where you can’t believe what you’re seeing. I’m not asking you to be a saint. But find one nugget. See if it helps shift something inside.

I know this is silly. I know it’s more about me than it is the rest of you. But the way I see it, a lot hangs in the balance and it isn’t just who wins in November.

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Scratch Biscuits & Tea, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 

Scratch Biscuits & Tea, Aunt Cassie’s antique teapot, Central Pennsylvania, November 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Last November when I went home for Mom’s 70th birthday, she made Southern scratch biscuits. I’m heading home again next week, and I’ve been chatting with her on the phone, comparing notes on ancestral roots, drooling over all that good Southern cookin’ that lies in store. Hmmmmm. I hope the boiled peanuts at those little Georgia roadside stands are in season. And Liz wants to try the catfish stew.

As a precursor, I decided to post another family recipe, the nuts and bolts of Mom’s Southern scratch biscuits. Since I reconnected with my paternal aunts last summer (who had not seen me since I was about two), I’ve been trying to gather more tidbits from that side of the family. Mom told me she learned to bake scratch biscuits from my paternal grandmother, Estelle.

After I was born, Mom, then 16, and my father (17) lived with Estelle for a short time. Estelle taught her the secrets of buttermilk and lard, and the nuances of rolling out the dough, and flattening with the knuckles. Hand to hand to hand. It was all passed down.

Eventually, biscuit dough was manufactured and spit into a tube and many women stopped making scratch biscuits. Ever wonder when the canned refrigerator biscuit was invented? One source calls it — the path from accidental mess to Pillsbury DoughboyLively Willoughboy of Louisville, Kentucky invented refrigerator dough packed in cardboard tubes in 1930, with a patent issued in 1931. The product was acquired by Ballard & Ballard of Louisville which was acquired by Pillsbury Mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1951.

But let’s not think about that right now! This is our Southern scratch biscuit recipe, the way Amelia learned to make biscuits from my Grandmother Estelle. I left Mom’s notes in, just the way she wrote them. The secret’s in the simplicity. It is basic and as close to home as you can get.



 
Amelia's Antique Sifter, Central Pennsylvania, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 

Two Cups, One Cup, Central Pennsylvania, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



 

Southern Scratch Biscuits


2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup lard or shortening (I use Crisco)
1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have, use sour milk)


Tip:
If you don’t have sour milk, put 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and enough whole milk to make 1 cup, and let stand 5 minutes before using. Or 1 cup whole milk plus 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar (or 1 cup sour cream).


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put the flour in a bowl. With your fingertips, work the shortening into the flour until well blended and evenly mixed. Pour in the buttermilk and mix until a dough is formed. Roll out the dough to about 1/2-inch thickness on a floured board: cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter or pluck off balls, roll, and flatten them with your knuckles. (I have used a glass as a cutter.)


Bake on a greased baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes, or until brown. Makes 10 to 12 biscuits.


Tip:
When rolling out, do it on a floured board and use a floured rolling pin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a smooth glass. You can always find ways to make do. I have. When you make biscuits all the time, you can go by the way it feels. I kept a mixing bowl with flour in it and just took a little shortening with my fingers and mixed with the flour until it felt like the right consistency. But until then use the recipe!


Now I’m hungry for homemade biscuits so I guess I’ll have to go make some.

Love Ya,
Happy cooking,
MOM



Cookie Sheet Close-Up, Central Pennsylvania, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 

       Made In USA, Central Pennsylvania, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



 
For a real treat, check out The Rise of the Southern Biscuit by Maryann Byrd. Liz and I watched the PBS documentary last winter and came away so hungry, we had to run out to Cracker Barrel (the closest thing we have to a Southern restaurant in the Far North) for a fix of biscuits and sweet tea. You’ll learn all about the roots of the Southern biscuit tradition, from Beaten Biscuits (the first Southern biscuit) to the biscuit brake

And if your local station doesn’t have the show in its immediate lineup, you can e-mail the Documentary Channel and request that they air it. Oh, by the way, Mom mentioned using a smooth glass to roll out the dough; at the last link, there’s a photograph of Miss Daisy King’s Angel biscuits and her mother’s glass rolling pin that she inherited when she was six years old. This documentary will make your mouth water. Don’t forget the popcorn with lots of real butter!

 

 

Aunt Cassie's Teapot, Central Pennsylvania, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Monday, July 7th, 2008

-related to posts:

Memories, Writing, & Family Recipes

Leftover Turkey? Try Amelia’s Soft Dumpling Recipe

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Band-Aid Freak!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Band-Aid Freak!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I’m a Band-Aid® freak. I love Band-Aid® Brand Adhesive Bandages. I’m famous around the office for stocking a plentiful amount in the metal bin above my cube. Paper cut? No problem. Spider-Man, Batman or SpongeBob SquarePants to the rescue!

Band-Aid® Bandages were invented in 1920 by a New Jersey man named Earl Dickson. Earl worked as a cotton buyer for a small start-up company called Johnson & Johnson. His wife Josephine (formerly Josephine Frances Knight) was always picking up nicks and cuts in the kitchen. Earl invented a ready-made bandage by placing squares of cotton gauze at intervals along an adhesive strip and covering them with crinoline (petticoat material!).



First Poison Ivy Of The Year!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.First Poison Ivy Of The Year!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.First Poison Ivy Of The Year!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



The Band-Aid® was born.

But the new product only sold a total of $3000 the first year. It was the Boy Scouts who put Band-Aid® on the map after an unlimited number of free Band-Aids® were distributed to Boy Scout troops across the country. The long history of innovation continued, and as of 2001, over 100 billion Band-Aid® Brand Bandages had rolled off the assembly line.

In the 1970’s,  John Travolta, Terri Garr, and Brooke Shields all appeared in Band-Aid® commercials. And remember that little jingle, I am stuck on Band-Aid® ’cause Band-Aid®‘s stuck on me? It was penned by Barry Manilow (and will surely get stuck in your head!). Barry did pretty well in the jingle business and is also responsible for Like a good neighbor…well, you know the rest.

Earl Dickson didn’t do too bad for himself either. Johnson & Johnson eventually made Dickson a vice president at the company, a position in which he remained until his retirement in 1957. He was also a member of the board of directors until his death in 1961. At the time of his death, Johnson & Johnson was selling over $30,000,000 worth of Band-Aids® each year.

As much as I love Band-Aids®, they weren’t the only invention of the 1920’s. It was a decade quick to embrace wild ideas and new technologies. Here’s a video and a short timeline of other 1920’s inventions:




               Crazy 1920’s Inventions from Aaron1912 on YouTube



 

  • Hair Dryer (1920)

Prior to 1920, woman dried their hair by inserting a hose in the exhaust of a vacuum cleaner and blowing themselves dry. But in 1920, hand held dryers were introduced by the US Racine Universal Motor Company (Wisconsin), and the Hamilton Beach Company.

  • Combustion Engine Car (1920)

Invented by Henry Ford, cars powered by combustion engines were affordable to the American public and mass produced. The ‘Model-T’ was the first car to roll off the assembly line. (If the price of gas is any indication, the love affair lives on!) 

  • Kool-Aid (1927)

Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska created the most important invention in American history: Kool-Aid (originally called Fruit Smack). Perkins was a chemist who owned “Perkins Product Company” which sold perfume and calling cards. The original Kool-Aid flavors? Cherry, Lemon-Lime, Grape, Orange, Root Beer, Strawberry, and Raspberry.

  • Liquid-Fueled Rocket (1926)

Robert Goddard’s liquid-fueled rocket and methods of propulsion are still used by the North American Space Association. His oxygen and liquid fuel lifted the original rocket 184 ft.

  • Q-Tips (1923)

Polish-born American Leo Gerstenzang was married to a woman who used to cotton swab each end of a stick to clean her baby’s ears. Leo took her innovation and put it on the market. Then called ‘Baby Gays”, the wood was replaced by white cardboard, and Gerstenzang started the “Infant Novelty Company” to sell Q-Tips.

  • Lie Detector (1921)

John A. Larson was a medical student at the University of California when he invented the Polygraph, or lie detector. The device measured heartbeat and breathing to determine if a person was lying, and later included a skin monitoring system to measure sweat.

  • Bread Slicer (1927)

Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Iowa got the idea for a bread slicer in 1912, and in 1927 invented a machine that could successfully cut and wrap a loaf of bread. The machine was later improved by baker Gustav Papendick.

  • Bulldozer (1923)

In 1885, engineer Benjamin Holt built a crawling tractor, which he called “caterpillar.” Later, scraping blades were attached and in 1923, LaPlant-Choate Manufacturing Company produced the first bulldozer.

  • Traffic Light (1920)

Police officer William Potts from Detroit, Michigan was the inventor of the traffic light. Using red, amber and green lights, and $37 worth of wire, he built a light for the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit. Around the same time, African-American Garrett Morgan invented the automated traffic light. It worked the same way railroad lights work today and was the concept on which four way traffic lights were built.

 


History is pregnant with writing possibility. Pick a 1920’s invention — the combustion engine, the lie detector, the hair dryer — and write about how it changed the future.

Do a Writing Practice on the first childhood memory that comes to mind when you think of Kool-Aid, Band-Aids®, or Q-Tips.

Maybe you hate the feel of a Q-Tip in your ear; or maybe it’s something you look forward to after a morning shower. When’s the last time you tasted Kool-Aid? Did you know it was invented in Nebraska (along with CliffsNotes and the Vise-Grip)?


What’s the greatest thing ever invented? Ten minutes, Go!



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

-related to post, If You Could Go Back In Time…

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           Minerva, 1889 - 1890, Roman goddess of poetry, music, wisdom, and warriors (Greek, Athena), bronze sculpture by Norwegian American artist, Jakob H. F. Fjelde, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Minerva, 1889 – 1890, Roman goddess of poetry, music, wisdom, and warriors (Greek, Athena), bronze sculpture by Norwegian American artist, Jakob H. F. Fjelde, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

 

The first black hole was discovered in the same decade that Star Wars was released (and not by Columbo, Charlie’s Angels, or Sonny and Cher). It was the 1970’s, and you were probably wearing Halston ultrasuede or cashmere, leisure suits, platform shoes, string bikinis, and hot pants. Or maybe you were more the Birkenstock type, sporting tie-dye jeans, crocheted vests (think orange and lime green), and bouncy, wide bell-bottoms.

In 1977, there was a world shortage of coffee and prices soared from 50¢ a pound to $3.20 (isn’t it around $12 a pound today?). You might have been playing a lightshow guitar (imitating Pink Floyd), or listening to the Stones, Roberta Flack, the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Tony Orlando (knock 3 times), or Gladys Knight and the Pips, on your new Sony Walkman.

 

The Beatles broke up, Jack Nicholson flew over the cuckoo’s nest, Harold and Maud were the May/December romance of the big screen, playing next to The Deer Hunter, Deliverance, and Saturday Night Fever. Yes, John Travolta was hot (even before his Pulp Fiction days). So was Billie Jean King, Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, and Jesus Christ Superstar (did you see Andrew Lloyd Webber on American Idol?).

If you are under 21 and voted during the 2008 Presidential Primary, you can thank the 1970’s — the voting age in the U.S. was lowered to 18. And Paper Mate introduced a new erasable ink pen, allowing you to wipe out those pesky voting mistakes in a single swipe.

But don’t jump too fast. It was before the age of the hanging chad. The Apple II computer had just hit the market, the first email took a lumbering ride across ARPANet (central backbone during the development of the Internet), and Intel’s first microprocessor 4004 (1971) contained 2,300 transistors (today’s will run 3,000 times faster).


            Study In Light, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Study In Light, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Study In Light, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


In the 1970’s Annie Hall was all the rage, along with Club Med, the VCR, streaking (yes, I tried it), and Pet Rocks (move over Sony the Pug!). Patty Hearst wielded her first machine gun, Son of Sam ran loose in the streets, Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, murdered 1-2 million people, and the Ohio National Guard shot and killed 4 college students at Kent State during an anti-war demonstration. Doesn’t that just blow your mind?

In the Me Decade, Elvis died of an overdose. So did Sid Vicious and Jim Morrison. Life and Look magazines were defunct by the end of the decade, along with cigarette advertising on TV, the draft, the VW bug (so they thought), and the Vietnam War. There was a recession in 1974 on top of an oil crisis in 1973 (what’s changed?). And TV would never be the same: Bonanza ended after 14 years; Gunsmoke after 20; and Ed Sullivan called it quits after 23 years.

You don’t see that kind of longevity in 21st Century media. Nor would you ever see televised daily proceedings of a national debacle like Richard Nixon and Watergate.

 

The world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in England, CAT-scans were introduced, the Heimlich maneuver perfected, and popular 70’s culture was buzzing with new words and phrases:  Murphy’s Law, Pro-choice, pumping iron, Punk rock, Rubik’s cube. Don’t rock the boat!

Money, money, money — 180,000 Americans were millionaires by the mid-70’s, an average hospital stay would set you back $81 a day, and a First Class postage stamp was 6¢ (Airmail, 10¢). The Metropolitan Museum paid $5.5 million for a Diego Velázquez portrait, while the Susan B. Anthony dollar took a political nosedive.

Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post in the 70’s, and Cosmopolitan blossomed with Helen Gurley Brown at the helm. But literature (and a few oddball tomes thrown in for good measure) still boomed under the watchful eye of Minerva, Roman goddess of poetry and wisdom.

You can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. You can also tell a lot about a culture. In the 1970’s, here’s what America was reading.




  Minerva, Goddess Of Poetry, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Minerva, Goddess Of Poetry, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Minerva, Goddess Of Poetry, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Minerva, Goddess Of Poetry, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



1 9 7 0 ‘ s – B E S T S E L L E R S

FICTION

  1. Love Story; Oliver’s Story, Erich Segal
  2. The French Lieutenant’s Woman, John Fowles
  3. Islands in the Stream, Ernest Hemingway
  4. Travels with My Aunt, Graham Greene
  5. Rich Man, Poor Man, Irwin Shaw
  6. Wheels; Overload, Arthur Hailey
  7. The Exorcist, William P. Blatty
  8. The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
  9. Message from Malaga, Helen MacInnes
  10. Rabbit Redux, John Updike
  11. The Betsy, Harold Robbins
  12. The Winds of War, Herman Wouk
  13. Jonathan Livingston Seagull; Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Richard Bach
  14. The Odessa File, Frederick Forsyth
  15. My Name Is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
  16. Captains and the Kings, Taylor Caldwell
  17. Once Is Not Enough; Delores, Jacqueline Susann
  18. Breakfast of Champions; Jailbird; Slapstick: or, Lonesome No More!, Kurt Vonnegut
  19. Burr; 1876, Gore Vidal
  20. The Hollow Hills, Mary Stewart
  21. Evening in Byzantium, Irwin Shaw
  22. The Drifters; Centennial; Chesapeake, James A. Michener
  23. The Matlock Paper, Robert Ludlum
  24. The Billion Dollar Sure Thing, Paul E. Erdman
  25. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  26. Jaws; The Deep, Peter Benchley
  27. The Dogs of War, Frederick Forsyth
  28. The Fan Club, Irving Wallace
  29. I Heard the Owl Call My Name, Margaret Craven
  30. Ragtime, E. L. Doctorow
  31. The Moneychangers, Arthur Hailey
  32. Curtain; Sleeping Murder, Agatha Christie
  33. Looking for Mister Goodbar, Judith Rossner
  34. The Choirboys, Joseph Wambaugh
  35. The Eagle Has Landed, Jack Higgins
  36. The Greek Treasure: A Biographical Novel of Henry and Sophia Schliemann, Irving Stone
  37. The Great Train Robbery, Michael Crichton
  38. Shogun, James Clavell
  39. Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow
  40. Trinity, Leon Uris
  41. A Stranger in the Mirror, Bloodlines, Sidney Sheldon
  42. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien; Christopher Tolkien
  43. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough
  44. How To Save Your Own Life, Erica Jong
  45. Delta of Venus: Erotica, Anaïs Nin
  46. War and Remembrance, Herman Wouk
  47. Fools Die, Mario Puzo
  48. Scruples, Judith Krantz
  49. Sophie’s Choice, William Styron
  50. The Dead Zone, Stephen King
  51. The Third World War: August 1985, Gen. Sir John Hackett, et al.
  52. Smiley’s People, John Le Carré



 

 Goddess Of Wisdom, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Goddess Of Wisdom, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Goddess Of Wisdom, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Goddess Of Wisdom, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


 

1 9 7 0 ‘ s – B E S T S E L L E R S

NON-FICTION

  1. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex but Were Afraid To Ask, David Reuben, M.D.
  2. The New English Bible
  3. The Sensuous Woman, “J”
  4. Better Homes and Gardens Fondue and Tabletop Cooking; Better Homes and Gardens Blender Cook Book; Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cookbook
  5. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, William Morris
  6. Body Language, Julius Fast
  7. In Someone’s Shadow; Caught in the Quiet, Rod McKuen
  8. The Sensous Man, “M”
  9. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
  10. I’m O.K., You’re O.K., Thomas Harris
  11. Any Woman Can!, David Reuben, M.D.
  12. Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer
  13. Eleanor and Franklin, Joseph P. Lash
  14. Wunnerful, Wunnerful!, Lawrence Welk
  15. Honor Thy Father, Gay Talese
  16. Fields of Wonder, Rod McKuen
  17. The Living Bible, Kenneth Taylor
  18. Open Marriage, Nena and George O’Neill
  19. Harry S. Truman, Margaret Truman
  20. Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, Robert C. Atkins
  21. The Peter Prescription, Laurence J. Peter
  22. A World Beyond, Ruth Montgomery
  23. Journey to Ixtlan; Tales of Power; The Second Ring of Power, Carlos Castaneda
  24. The Joy of Sex; More Joy: A Lovemaking Companion to The Joy of Sex, Alex Comfort
  25. Weight Watchers Program Cookbook, Jean Nidetch
  26. How To Be Your Own Best Friend, Mildred Newman, et al.
  27. The Art of Walt Disney, Christopher Finch
  28. Alistair Cooke’s America, Alistair Cooke
  29. Sybil, Flora R. Schreiber
  30. The Total Woman, Marabel Morgan
  31. All the President’s Men; The Final Days, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
  32. You Can Profit from a Monetary Crisis, Harry Browne
  33. All Things Bright and Beautiful; All Things Wise and Wonderful, James Herriot
  34. The Bermuda Triangle, Charles Berlitz with J. Manson Valentine
  35. Angels: God’s Secret Agents, Billy Graham
  36. Winning Through Intimidation; Looking Out for #1; Restoring the American Dream, Robert Ringer
  37. TM: Discovering Energy and Overcoming Stress, Harold H. Bloomfield
  38. Sylvia Porter’s Money Book, Sylvia Porter
  39. Total Fitness in 30 Minutes a Week, Laurence E. Morehouse and Leonard Gross
  40. Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon, Theodore H. White
  41. Roots, Alex Haley
  42. Your Erroneous Zones; Pulling Your Own Strings, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
  43. Passages: The Predictable Crises of Adult Life, Gail Sheehy
  44. The Grass ls Always Greener over the Septic Tank; If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries–What Am I Doing in the Pits?; Aunt Erma’s Cope Book, Erma Bombeck
  45. Blind Ambition: The White House Years, John Dean
  46. The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, Shere Hite
  47. The Right and the Power: The Prosecution of Watergate, Leon Jaworski
  48. The Book of Lists, David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace
  49. The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence, Carl Sagan
  50. The Amityville Horror, Jay Anson
  51. Gnomes, Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet
  52. The Complete Book of Running, James Fixx
  53. Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford
  54. RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon
  55. Faeries, Brian Froud and Alan Lee
  56. The Muppet Show Book, the Muppet People
  57. The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, Herman Tarnower, M.D., and Samm Sinclair Baker
  58. The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise, Nathan Pritikin and Patrick McGrady Jr.
  59. White House Years, Henry Kissinger
  60. Lauren Bacall By Myself, Lauren Bacall
  61. The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court, Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong


     Study In Light, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.         Study In Light, downtown Minneapolis Central Library,<br /> Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Study In Light, downtown Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, April 24th, 2008

-Resources:  1970’s Bestsellers List from Cader Books, Writer’s Dream Tools, and The Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library

-related to posts: The 1950’s – What Was America Reading?, The 1960’s — What Was America Reading?, and Book Talk – Do You Let Yourself Read?

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7

7, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Can you list the 7 Deadly Sins? I usually get to number 6 and fade out. I can never remember all 7. The 7 Deadly Sins began with Evagrius Ponticus as a list of 8 capital vices. A condensed version of the list was given to Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century. He chose to go with 7 (in this order):



1 – Lust
Lust began as extravagance, and later became lust. (Is it okay to be extravagant but not lustful?) Lust includes
obsessive or excessive sexual thoughts or desires, and adultery. Unfulfilled lusts sometimes lead to sexual or sociological compulsions including sexual addiction, adultery, rape, and incest.

2 – Gluttony
Gluttony derives from the Latin, gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow. Gluttony is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of material objects, food – anything, to the point of waste.

3 – Greed
Greed includes acquisition of wealth, avarice, disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, or treason, especially for personal gain. Bribery, scavenging, hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery.

4 – Sloth
Sloth is laziness or indifference, an unwillingness to act. Sloth replaced sadness in the 17th century. (Who knew it was a sin to be sad?)

5 – Wrath
Wrath is a harboring of uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. These feelings can manifest as vehement denial of the truth (both to others, and in the form of self-denial), impatience with the procedure of law, and the desire to seek revenge outside of the justice system.

6 – Envy
Envy is insatiable desire. Those who envy, desire something someone else has which they perceive themselves as lacking (scarcity mentality).

7 – Pride
Pride is the original, and most serious of the 7 deadly sins; it is the ultimate source from which the others arise. Pride is the desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments to others, excessive love of self.



The 7 Deadly Sins have been made famous by artists, writers, and filmmakers. Purgatorio, Part II of Dante’s Divine Comedy, is one of the best known sources since the Renaissance. The most graphic depiction I’ve ever seen hit me square in the face in the film, Se7en. If you haven’t seen the movie, prepare yourself for some of the most twisted psychological murders in film history. Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Morgan Freeman know how to pull it off.

Luckily, each cardinal sin has a 6th-century, equivalent punishment in Hell. For the sin Pride, one is to be broken on the wheel. For Envy, dropped into freezing water. Anger is rewarded by being dismembered alive (not unlike a scene in Se7en.). For Sloth, you are thrown in the snake pits; Greed, immersed into pots of boiling oil; Gluttony, forced to eat rats, toads, and snakes; and Lust, smothered in brimstone and fire.

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years.In 1485, a few years before Columbus sailed, Hieronymus Bosch painted The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things in oil on wood panels. The painting has 5 circles or mandalas. The 4 small circles depict Death, Judgment, Hell, and Glory.

The 5th, and largest circle, contains the 7 Sins:  wrath at the bottom, then proceeding clockwise, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, and pride.

The center of the large circle is said to represent the eye of God, and Christ can be seen emerging from his tomb. At the bottom of the image is the Latin inscription, Cave Cave Deus Videt (“Beware, Beware, God is Watching”).



How deadly are your sins? Are you quick to judge others for theirs? Are 7 sins enough?

Not for everyone. After 1,500 years the Vatican has brought the seven deadly sins up to date by adding seven new ones for the age of globalization. The list, published in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, came as the Pope deplored the “decreasing sense of sin” in today’s “secularized world” and the falling numbers of Roman Catholics going to confession.

The new deadly sins include polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.

 

Each of the original Seven Deadly Sins has an opposite, corresponding Holy Virtue. In Writing Practice lingo, the Holy Virtues are the underbelly of the 7 Deadly Sins. In parallel order and opposition, the Seven Holy Virtues are:

  • Chastity (opposite lust)  – Purity. Embracing moral wholesomeness, achieving purity of body and thought through education and betterment.
  • Temperance (opposite Gluttony)  – Self-control, abstention, and moderation.
  • Charity (opposite Greed)  – Generosity. Willingness to give. Nobility of thought or action.
  • Diligence (opposite Sloth) – Zealous and careful nature in one’s actions and work. Decisive work ethic. Budgeting one’s time; monitoring one’s own activities to guard against laziness.
  • Patience (opposite Wrath) – Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. The ability to forgive; to show mercy.
  • Kindness (opposite Envy) – Charity, compassion, friendship, and sympathy without prejudice, for its own sake.
  • Humility (opposite Pride) – Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying the self.

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years  The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years  The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years  The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. Hieronymus Bosch, 1485, Public domain image, copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years


How has the nature of sinning changed since the 6th Century? Do you even believe in sin? What about modern Holy Virtues? What are they?

  • Choose a Deadly Sin and do a 15 minute Writing Practice on how it applies (or doesn’t apply) to you
  • Do another Writing Practice on the underbelly, a Holy Virtue (the Sin’s opposite)
  • Which Deadly Sin do you have the strongest reaction to? Is it a moral issue? Connected to past associations? Something you learned?
  • For National Poetry Month, compose a poem or haiku from lines of your Writing Practice



If none of the Sins or Virtues appeal to you, there is always Gandhi’s list of Seven Deadly Sins. Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi, one of the most influential figures in modern social and political activism, considered these traits to be the most spiritually perilous to humanity.

Choose a line from Gandhi, and 15 minutes, Go!


Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins

  • Wealth without Work
  • Pleasure without Conscience
  • Science without Humanity
  • Knowledge without Character
  • Politics without Principle
  • Commerce without Morality
  • Worship without Sacrifice

 

 

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

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Pocket Poetry, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Pocket Poetry, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

April 17th is the first national Poem In Your Pocket Day. It’s part of the wider celebration of National Poetry Month. I went to my monthly poetry group last Friday. We talked about the life of Maya Angelou, read her poetry, sat in silence between poems. We listened to her voice. This is the 3rd month we have met.

The first month was Ted Kooser. After the group ended that night, Teri passed around a thank-you card (gratitude to those who came before us). We all signed it; the next day she mailed it off to Ted. A generous man, the former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner wrote back within the month (look for an upcoming post).

The second month was Mary Oliver. In March, three members of the poetry group went to see Mary Oliver at the State Theater in Minneapolis (here’s Mary with her famous dog, Percy, in Jim Walsh’s MinnPost article, The poet as rock star: Mary Oliver returns for a reading). They shared stories about the funny and engaging Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, who read to a packed house; Mary Oliver is one of the humblest and highest paid poets in America.

April is the month we honor poetry as an art form. “Poetry” comes from the ancient Greek: ποιεω (poieo) meaning I create. It is an art in which human language becomes a palette for its aesthetic qualities. Poetry creates a visual feast from the simplest ingredients — it pares language down to the bare essentials.

 

Poem In Your Pocket (National Poetry Month), Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Poem In Your Pocket (National Poetry Month), Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Poem In Your Pocket (National Poetry Month), Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Poem In Your Pocket (National Poetry Month), Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

New York City is hosting its 6th annual Poem in Your Pocket Day (PIYP) on Thursday, April 17, 2008, with a series of events scheduled to celebrate the versatility and inspiration of poetry. The day was created to encourage New Yorkers of all ages to carry a poem in their pocket to share with family and friends. Now it’s going national.

How can you participate? There is a list of ways to celebrate national Poem In Your Pocket Day at poets.org, which includes:

  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
  • Text a poem to friends



       Poem In Your Pocket (National Poetry Month), Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.      Poem In Your Pocket (National Poetry Month), Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

     Poem In Your Pocket (National Poetry Month), Minneapolis, Minnesota,
      April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

My friend Teri, who started our poetry group, created and handed out Poem In Your Pocket sheets (above) after last Friday’s poetry group. We each copied a poem from over 20 poetry books sprawled over the living room floor. Copying a poet’s work, in my own hand on to a blank page, made it come more alive for me.

Leave your Pocket Poem in our comments if you wish. If you are stuck for ideas of where to find poems, there are tons of websites dedicated to poetry. Check out one of these:


Feeling brave? Write down a poem or haiku you have written, slip it into your pocket (the things we carry), and read it to some friends this Thursday, April 17th. For inspiration, listen to the great Queen Latifah’s version of Poetry Man (she got into rapping from writing poetry). Or maybe you prefer the original from Phoebe Snow (I wore a deep wax groove into Phoebe’s 1974 debut album, Phoebe Snow).

 

            Poetry Man by Phoebe Snow, posted by jassblue on YouTube

 

 

Thanks to Teri, for starting a poetry group and inviting all of us to come along. And to all the poets who have been inspiring us since the beginning of time — thank you.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, April 13th, 2008

-related to post, Desire And A Library Card — The Only Tools Necessary To Start A Poetry Group

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By Teri Blair


Parkway Marquee, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Parkway Marquee, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



In 1989 the Academy-Award winning Cinema Paradiso was released. The Italian film takes place in a post-World War II Sicilian village, and chronicles the friendship of a young boy, Toto, and the town’s gruff but lovable movie projectionist, Alfredo. Toto is fascinated by everything at the theater — the celluloid film, the projector, and the lion’s roaring mouth on the wall through which images pass from film to screen. We watch Hardware, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Toto mature from mischievous child, to earnest young man, to successful filmmaker. But in-between scenes of first love and failing health and a changing Italian community, we see and know something else. We are witnessing the life of someone who is undeniably, unequivocally passionate about one thing — movies.

Nineteen eighty-nine was also the year I began attending a theater in south Minneapolis that showed art house films, the sort of movies that weren’t on every screen in town. I rather stumbled upon the Parkway. There was a foreign film playing there that I hadn’t seen, and the theater’s recording said there was free lighted parking a block away. When I arrived, I knew I was at a theater that was different from any other in town. But what I didn’t know was that the theater was owned by someone who is undeniably, unequivocally passionate about one thing — movies.

Bill Irvine’s livelihood in the theater business began, like Toto’s, as a youngster. At thirteen, he was already an avid movie From Here To Eternity , Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.enthusiast who saw at least one picture a week. One Thursday evening in spring, young Bill was walking by the Parkway Theater. The owner needed someone to change the marquee for the upcoming weekend movie. His regular marquee man hadn’t shown. Bill heard, “Hey kid! Do you want to make a buck?” He brought the ladder outside and put up the new film, Romeo and Juliet. He was paid a dollar, a Nut Goodie, and offered the same job the following Thursday. Before long he was working behind the candy counter, then selling tickets, and by the time he was a junior in high school, was managing the entire theater.

That was 40 years ago. Last summer, the 53-year-old fixture at 48th and Chicago ended his career at the Parkway and turned over his theater keys to Joe Senkyr, owner of next-door Pepitos restaurant.Rows, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I caught up with Bill a few weeks ago. I wanted to hear his story. After all, who stays at a job for 40 years, let alone at one location? There is a boyish openness about Bill, a casual baseball hat, a ready smile. He was ready to talk, and as willing to divulge the hazards of his chosen profession as the rewards.

Bill never had a grand scheme to become an actor or a filmmaker himself. After high school he attended St. Thomas and Brown Institute to study Journalism and Broadcast Journalism. But at the young age of 20, he decided to make an offer on the up-for-sale Parkway. He knew the business inside and out, having already been an employee for seven years, and had no trouble getting several banks to offer him a loan to buy the place.

But instead of selling the theater to this neighborhood kid, then-owner Mel Lebewitz sold it to Jim Sparks, a man from Omaha who The Peerless, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reservedspecialized in porn theaters across the country…a move that mystifies Bill to this day. The community was outraged and months of demonstrations and picketing ensued. After six months of hassles, Sparks was ready to unload the Parkway, and Bill (still 20), bought it for $140,000 with his business partner Pat Nikoloff. Papers were signed in March of 1976, and six days later Bill opened with a double feature, The Pink Panther, and Bill Cosby’s Let’s Do it Again.

Bill was quickly enfolded into the Twin City theater-owner community. It was a Jewish-dominated industry, and with a name lParkway Goddess, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.ike Irvine, Bill let himself pass for Jewish…even though his heritage is Scottish and English. “No one asked me, so I never told,” Bill laughs.

Bill’s outgoing personality lent itself to the business. He grew to know the stories of his customers’ lives, and they became his friends. He saw their children grow up, celebrated job promotions, and grieved a lost parent. And along with the relationships, he created a theater known for its documentaries, foreign films, and thought-provoking dramas.

“I have loved what I have done, and I am happy,” Bill mused. “If you don’t love your job, you start to hate life and become bitter and mean. If I were talking to a 25-year-old, I would tell them to set their sights high doing something they love, stick with it, and be good at it.”



The movie industry changed during the 40 years that Bill owned the Parkway. When he began, there were several one-screen theaters in town. They are now the rare exception, having given way to 10-and 20-plex theaters. “When I started in the business, actors were well-trained in their craft. Now, theaters are desperate to fill screens. The integrity of films has suffered, and most movies have no shelf life. If someone has an attractive face, they slap them up on the screen and call them an actor.”

But in the midst of this, Bill maintained a caliber of quality movies that brought his faithful customer base back week after week. He spent hours combing through sample DVDs to find good selections. “I think most people would be surprised by how time-consuming this job is,” he says. “It takes so much time to find a good movie.”

Simplex, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Bill has his own personal favorites, of course:  the documentary Brother’s Keeper, Waiting for Guffman, and Shawshank Redemption. The actors who top his list are Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Woody Allen, and Michael Caine. The longest-running movie in Parkway’s history was Shirley Valentine, the story of a woman who flees her stale life in England to begin again in Greece. It stayed at the Parkway for 38 weeks.

What is next for Bill? “Well, I’d like to travel. I want to see New Zealand and Australia. I may open up another theater in St. Cloud or St. Paul; I’ve had a job offer from Columbia Film Society in South Carolina. But I haven’t really decided.”

Blueprint, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Blueprint, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


And how about the Parkway? New owner Senkyr has already begun major renovations:  a newly exposed balcony railing, rich colors and murals, seats torn out to make room for a larger stage for live theater. Weekly changes are quickly making the old Parkway harder to remember as the new one is born.

And what about us, those of us who look first at what is playing at the Parkway when we open up the movie section? We likely won’t find another movie theater where the owner calls us by name when we walk through the door, where we can ask for a glass of water and not be charged for it, and where our business is so clearly appreciated.

     Ladies, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  Up The Down Staircase, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Stripes, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Cut Out, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I have never minded that there were some lumpy seats and peeling paint on the ceiling. Because the Parkway has maintained something that is hard to come by these days — a sense of belonging and community. In a big city we have had a place that has felt a little like a small town. A place where we could enjoy the talent of someone who knew his business and the quality of films never diminished. A place where the popcorn was always fresh and the movies ever enchanting.

We have been lucky. We have gotten to be a part of a Bill’s 40-year love affair. A love affair with the movies.



Lights, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Parkway Lights, inside the Parkway Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Teri Blair is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis. She is currently writing a profile series on teachers who taught in one-room rural schools before, during, and after WW II. They are appearing monthly in Senior Perspective.


About profiling, Teri says:  I stumbled onto profiling quite by accident. I owned a dairy barn that had been a dance hall during the Depression, and I wanted to meet people who had danced there. When I heard their stories, it was obvious they had to be recorded. One thing quickly led to another, and before long I had a series of essays on my hands that people wanted to read.

I typically go into an interview with 10 questions, one tape recorder, and two cameras. I’ve learned through many fits and starts how to adapt questions, change directions, and let the real story emerge. I’ve had two tape recorders break during interviews, several rolls of film come back blurry, and been in situations where I was so nervous I could barely keep from passing out. I’ve also had the time of my life…adventures worth their weight in gold.

Profiling gives me the chance to shine lights on people who deserve attention for adding something of value to our world. That is my greatest reward.

Favorite profile experience to date:  After interviewing a 14-year-old musher, he took me on an invigorating dogsled ride through ditches, woods, and down snow-covered gravel roads. I learned that a 14-year-old boy has only one speed he is interested in: FAST.



Through The Rain, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Through The Rain, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Through The Rain, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



About the photography:  All the photographs were taken on September 20th, 2007 by QuoinMonkey during an Ani DiFranco poetry reading at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. She would later find out, the timing occurred shortly after Bill Irvine transferred ownership of the Parkway Theater. The seeds for a collaboration between Teri’s profile and the Parkway photographs were planted in a Comment thread on The Brave One. The result is this chance meeting between language and the visual.

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I have brown curly hair. I am the only one in my family with curls. Not just waves, but corkscrew curls. People asked throughout my childhood: Who has curls in the family? The answer to strangers was: Her grandmother had wavy hair. To friends and one another, we joked: Her father was Zorro.

Zorro is what we called the postman who delivered mail on Neat Lane. Zorro stayed out in front of our mailbox and talked to Mom for hours. Literally. He would sit in his little postal truck and Mom would lean against the mailbox, and they would talk.

None of us knew his real name, and no one, not my dad or my older sisters, must have honestly believed that Zorro was a threat. I do wonder, though, what all the other housewives thought as they waited for their mail while Zorro frittered away the morning chatting with Mom.

Mom says my hair started out straight but that after the tracheotomy at 18 months, the time I nearly died of croup that became pneumonia, my hair got curly. She says I was in an oxygen tent for days and that as I lie sleeping and sweating, the ringlets formed.

Like a flower growing, in those nature shows where they speed up time, time lapse photography, that’s how I picture me inside the oxygen tent. Mom and Dad peering into the plastic then wham, straight wispy hair curls up all around, my forehead covered in drops of sweat. I even see their eyes growing bigger, as if witnessing something unnatural. And even though I’m sure this isn’t at all the way it happened, it is forever pressed into my consciousness, my own little film about a time in my life that I was too young to remember.

Nowadays my hair is long. If I were to straighten it, it might even reach my shoulder blades on my back. I usually straighten it when I have a meeting, like in China or with people I don’t know.

Something about straight hair, the notion that it’s not actually me underneath it, allows me to slip into a more businesslike, more powerful persona. I like having the option, and even though I’ve come to love my curly hair, I like that at any time I can blow it out and make it as straight as straight can be.

I was remembering this morning about a time, maybe in my 30s, probably after Em was born, when I lost a lot of hair. I was thinking about the thin-haired women, aunts and cousins, on Dad’s side of the family. I remember I went through a period where I had a recurring dream that I was one of those alien dog-men from Bewitched, the one who didn’t have much hair on top of his head but had instead long, hairy ears.

My dream was that I get up out of bed in the morning, wash my face in the sink, and as I’m rinsing the soap off my face I catch my reflection in the mirror. I am just like the dog-man on Bewitched. Bald on top, long floppy ears down the sides.


-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – HAIR

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Vodpod videos no longer available. from vodpod.com posted with vodpod

Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend from Far Away – The Practice of Writing Memoir, December 21st, 2007 (to play video, click either green arrow twice)



Natalie Goldberg has a new book coming out on February 12th, Old Friend from Far Away – The Practice Of Writing Memoir. One of our readers tipped us off to a video clip from the Free Press Division of Simon & Shuster (thank you, Jackie).

Without Natalie, there is a good chance that red Ravine would not be here. Nor would Writing Practice. We are grateful for everything she has taught us.

To Natalie, a deep bow. And thank you.


Millions of Americans want to write about their lives. With Old Friend as the road map for getting started and following through, writers and readers will gain a deeper understanding of their own minds, learn to connect with their senses in order to find the detail and truth that give their written words power and authenticity, and unfold the natural structure of the stories they carry within.

An absolute joy to read, it is a profound affirmation of the capacity of the written word to remember the past, free us from it, and forever transform the way we think about ourselves and our lives. Like Writing Down the Bones, Goldberg’s classic book about the practice of writing, it will become an old friend to which readers return again and again.

-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, January 10th, 2008

-schedule of Natalie’s workshops: Natalie Goldberg Workshops

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