Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hearing Poets Do What They Do

It's always a treat to be able to rub elbows with writers and be able to talk. I'm down in Vermillion at the John R. Milton Writers Conference, where I got a warm reception yesterday for my own reading and have enjoyed others reading their work, especially Brian Bedard reading a new story about a prom queen and a parade and Lee Ann Roripaugh reading a few poems from her new book--On The Cusp of a Dangerous Year and her dad, Robert A. Roripaugh, read from a book of stories about Wyoming. Ed Allen, author of a novel, Mustang Sally, and a short story collection, Ate It Anyway, read from a work in progress that is a novel told in the form of a series of limericks. It worked a lot better than I thought it would!

More today, including Wang Ping, Maxine Hong Kingston, and a host of others.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"I Hate Hamlet" and Other Birthday Goodies

The wife had yet another birthday on Sunday, so we took the day, went to Sioux Falls, debating along the way about whether a movie might be in order or this play we knew little about. We did the play, and neither of us was disappointed. Produced by the Sioux Empire Community Theatre, the performance featured some fine acting, a great set, and a beautiful theater.

The funny and touching play is about a TV actor, played here by Barton Workman, who loses his series and goes to New York to rekindle an old love for the stage, landing the lead role in a production of Hamlet, to be played in the park. He doesn't want to do it. He hates Hamlet. His agent appears from California with a lucrative offer for another TV series, "Night School," to feature an idealistic high school teacher who moonlights as a semi-super hero.

What should he do? Inspiration comes in the form of the ghost of John Barrymore, famed boozer, womanizer, and strider of the boards, played to great effect here by Tom Roberts.

Things get interesting, and these two, along with a fine supporting cast, carry the audience through the struggle to decide what should come. It won't be quite what you expect.

Check out the play, just $15, showing Oct. 30-Nov. 1 and Nov. 6-8, with matinees.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jimmy Curtis and the Case of the Traveling Skull

I was intrigued by this story on the New York Times about a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, Arthur Rothstein, who in 1936 traveled through South Dakota documenting the drought years. He was apparently fond of the skull, hauling it around and taking pictures of it willy-nilly to document how damned dry it was here then, cows dying everywhere. His photos are in the Library of Congress, still with misleading information about them, at least according to James Curtis, who published a book on the subject in 1991: Mind’s Eye, Mind’s Truth: F.S.A. Photography Reconsidered.

Check out the story; it's got the infamous photos, scans of newspaper articles, and maps of Rothstien's travels, along with commentary on Dorothea Lange and other photographers of the era.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A New York Minute in Years Gone By

Having just returned from new New York, I was interested in this video of it as it appeared over 80 years ago. There's a shot of Times Square, another of Washington Square, and other places that went by too quickly for me to recognize. Hang on!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Back in a New York Minute

New Yorkers probably noticed a significant downturn in the quality of their fair city on Tuesday as Northwest flight 515 left La Guardia with the four pictured South Dakotans on board. Subway riders looked around confusedly when we didn't shuffle through the doors Wednesday morning. Food vendors wondered what to do with their "chunky luncher" platters. Playgoers pondered what might have resulted in the four empty seats, ones usually populated with the most responsive audience members in Broadway (or off-Broadway) history. Empire State Building residents looked out at the Rock and saw that these four were gone (sob!) gone.

Well, at least we noticed. The four of us returned bedraggled late Tuesday with memories of "Playboy of the Western World" at the Pearl, "West Side Story" at the Palace, and lots of activities otherwise. We checked out the Met, watched the Columbus Day parade, had some great New York pizza in Greenwich Village at Johns, walked in Central Park, had a cannoli, ate some fresh croissants, sampled some beers, sipped some martinis, and crashed an opening-night party at the Old Castle for brother Joe's play. We saw a former colleague and ate down in Chinatown after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at night. The wife went running in Central Park. We visited Times Square, Madison Avenue, and Fifth Avenue and did hardly any shopping! And we avoided landing belly-up on the slippery highways Saturday morning as we left Minneapolis. We got safely home again.

We had a good time, I think. What did I forget?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mighty Quinn's Marathon Story in Photos

Fans of Mr. Quinn will enjoy seeing his photo collection of marathon moments, many of them captured with the $10 Hannah Montana camera he carried with him on the route. In the last photo, you might think he's melting, but he assured us the puddle was not his doing, despite his weariness.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Wife and the Gimp at the Fake Finish

Target stores offered a free picture of us standing at a fake finish line at the expo, with a dream time displayed, so we took it. And YOU get to be the beneficiary!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

You'll Not See Nothin' Like the Mighty Quinn

He's no Eskimo, but this Mighty Quinn was mighty chilly after finishing his first marathon in St. Paul this morning. He and 11,000 other runners took to the streets at 8:00am to tackle the 26.2 miles that makes up the Twin Cities Marathon course, navigating the streets around the lakes and rivers that make up the most beautiful urban marathon in the US.
Yours truly, still nursing his roofing injury, was on the sidelines, viewing the race from the curb, zooming from point to point with my wife and his to catch Todd as he came past, racking up the miles, each one getting a little tougher. It's clear from the photos here that the marathon takes a lot out of a guy, but MQ hung in there and got the job done. Way to go, Todd!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

DSU and SD Higher-Ed Numbers Climb

Dakota State University numbers continue to grow. We've got a record headcount (2861) and FTE (1631) enrollments for this fall. Numbers statewide have grown quite a little since 1996, my first year in the system, 7,279 more students in that time, a 27% increase. Not bad.
1996 26,508
1997 25,719 -2.98%
1998 26,560 +3.27%
1999 26,616 +0.21%
2000 27,134 +1.95%
2001 28,446 +4.84%
2002 29,533 +3.82%
2003 29,716 +0.62%
2004 29,844 +0.43%
2005 30,720 +2.94%
2006 30,901 +0.59%
2007 32,148 +4.04%
2008 32,943 +2.47%
2009 33,779 +2.54%