Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eric Bailly's Songs of the Red

After giving my Ox Cart Angel talk in Moorhead at the Hjemkomst Center this June, a fellow came up to me, introduced himself as Eric Bailly and gave me a copy of his CD called Songs of the Red. The songs are inspired by the Red River, whether they're about Lake Agassiz, the Red River Oxcarts, Louis Riel, or the Red River's tendency to flood. As I'm a bit scatterbrained, I completely forgot about it until I finally found it weeks later in my box of speaking materials. (Sorry, Eric!) I popped it in my car's cd player and listened. Excellent stuff! There's guitar, harmonica on some of the songs, some cello, and great harmonies.  Reminds me of early REM at times. 

Take a listen to one of my favorite songs on the album:

I highly recommend it!

The entire album is available on iTunes here or on Amazon here.

Give it a listen!

Portrait of Jennie & The Picture of Dorian Gray

At 2014's CONvergence - whose theme was 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' - I watched two movies that were early examples of using color in otherwise black & white films for an interesting effect.

The first was Portrait of Jennie, 1948, starring Joseph Cotton as a down-on-his-luck artist, trying to eek out a living in depression-era New York City. He lacks inspiration until he meets a young girl in central park named Jennie. They strike up a casual friendship, and he sketches a picture of her. There's something strange going on, however; each time they meet, Jennie has aged, even though it's been only a matter of weeks or months between meetings. Eventually, her age catches up to his, and they fall in love with each other. He paints a beautiful portrait of her which catches the attention of the art world, and he becomes successful. More happens afterward, which I don't want to give away, but I really enjoyed this movie. Though most of the movie was in black & white, the last part of the movie suddenly becomes tinted green, then tinted red, and then when the full portrait is revealed in a museum years later, it's in full technicolor. (And for some interesting trivia, one of the teenagers looking at the portrait in this last shot is Nancy Davis - better known as Nancy Reagan.) This film also stars Jennifer Jones (as Jennie) Ethyl Barrymore and Lillian Gish.

Next was the classic The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1945, (based on the Oscar Wilde novel) starring Angela Lansbury, Donna Reed, Peter Lawford, George Sanders and Hurd Hatfield (as Mr. Gray). It also used a similar technique, in that the movie is filmed in black & white, but they use color when showing Dorian Gray's portrait. At first, they show the original portrait in color - the portrait of a gentleman - then later reveal the revolting image of Dorian as his soul has been nearly lost to corruption. It is this image, painted by Ivan Albright, that caused this fantasy movie to be labeled a horror film by many. I can see how springing this monstrous color painting near the climax of an otherwise black & white film must've been quite a shock to audience members. (If you'd like to see Ivan Albright's famous portrait of Dorian that caused quite a fright, you can see it here. However, you may want to watch the movie, first, and experience it that way!)

I highly recommend seeing both movies, especially one right after the other! 

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2014 Author Tour - Final Part

(To start at the beginning of this series of posts about my 2014 Author Tour, go here)

After spending the night in Murdo, we drove east toward home. Stopped for lunch at Al's Oasis while it poured rain, crossed the Missouri River into Chamberlain and then stopped in Mitchell. Of course the Corn Palace was an obligatory stop, although they were doing some refurbishing of the outside.

After buying some delicious popcorn balls inside the palace (which is actually an auditorium where high school basketball games are played and concerts are held, but during tourist season converts into a giant gift shop) we headed over to the Dakota Discovery Museum, where they were kind enough to purchase some of my books. After that, it was a long stretch home.

It was a great trip. Got my book into 13 new stores that hadn't carried it before. Saw a lot of great places that can serve as potential magazine articles, story ideas or at least blog posts. I made a few great contacts, met a lot of good people, and Paige and I had a great time.

Yes, we had a great time, but we breathed a sigh of relief as we finally pulled into our driveway.

It's good to be home, be among the familiar, be with the rest of my family, my bed, my couch, my yard, my porch...

It's good to be home.

Thanks for following my blog posts about our 2014 Author Tour! If you'd like to be emailed whenever I post a new blog entry, and/or if you'd like to sign up to my once-a-month-or-so newsletter, check out the links on the right-hand side of this blog.

Take care!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wall Drug - 2014 Author Tour - Part 10

(To start at the beginning of this series of posts about my 2014 Author Tour, go here)

On the way home of our 2014 Author Tour (TM) we had to of course stop at Wall Drug. How can you drive on I-90 in South Dakota and not stop there? Seriously...it's impossible. Yes, it's one of the biggest tourist traps in the known universe. Yes, it's kitschy at its most kitschiest. Yes, it's silly and and and...

But I love it! It's an entire city block of pure tackiness! What's not to love?

I mean, where else can you get free water? (okay, don't actually bother to answer that.) But seriously, it is a fun place, and they do have a lot of shops, plus a wonderful bookstore full of books that take place out west. They even bought copies of Ox Cart Angel! And the donuts in their cafe - I always have to buy a couple of those.
Here's the free water - It's like the hanging gardens of Eden, but in South Dakota.
Don't forget the animatronics. There are tons of them.

What else says family attraction like a lecherous old dude named Dr. Feelgood?
The very loud T-Rex!
The old cowboy band. Hmm, there's something odd about these guys...
Not quite sure what it is, but...wait...those eyes...
Those eyes!
Oh dear God, those eyes!!!
But seriously, the place is a lot of fun. And these peculiar oddities are a big part of that fun. There's an ice cream parlor, art gallery, fudge shop, clothing store, jewelry shop, the aforementioned bookstore, gift shop, and yes, there actually is a pharmacy. It is a great diversion on a long trip for kids and adults alike. And of course all of the signs on the highway leading up to the place build the anticipation.

Plus...don't forget the free water.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 7, 2014


I started a monthly (or so) newsletter - just to keep people who are interested up to date on what's going on in my writing world, or anything else that may be of interest. If you'd like to sign up, you can do it here: http://eepurl.com/Gre2f

Thanks much, and I promise not to bombard you with crap!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Teton Tram - Teton Village - WAFFLES! - 2014 Author Tour - Part 8

(To start at the beginning of this series of posts about my 2014 Author Tour, go here)

So - day 8 of the 2014 Author Tour - Paige and I headed to Jackson, Wyoming. On the way there, we stopped at Teton Village to take the tram up to the top of Rendezvous Mountain in the Grand Tetons. I'd done it before when I used to work in Yellowstone, but Paige had never been on it. It's about a 12-minute ride that rises over 4,000-ft (vertical feet, no less) and offers great views. The ride itself is smooth, and the views...spectacular. You can occasionally see wildlife on the mountainside below, though we didn't see any this time around.



View from inside the tram looking back at Teton Village below
The picture below is a view of Corbet's Couloir. People - crazy, insane friggin' people - actually ski and snowboard off that thing. If you want to see some video of people doing it, go here.
You're kidding me, right? RIGHT?!
 Of course pictures don''t do the place justice. You can see for miles.

Miles, I tell ya!
Though Rendezvous Mountain is famous for its skiing, it also has great hiking opportunities in the summer. When I was younger and in much better shape, I took the tram to the top and hiked the Granite Canyon trail down. It's about twelve miles of winding through the mountains down, down, down. It was exhausting, but the scenery, the wildflowers...it was a thrill. The day after, however - not so much a thrill. My ankles were in some serious pain. When Paige and I were there, there was too much snow to take that trail (not that we were planning on it anyway) but the picture below is the start of it.

The elevation at the top is around 10,000-feet, so it was surprising to find a lonely butterfly up there. Paige took this nice picture:

So you're at the top of Rendezvous Mountain in the Tetons with all these spectacular views around you, and then there are...waffles. Yep. Waffles. There's a little restaurant at the top called Corbet's Cabin that serves waffles. But...these aren't just ordinary waffles. They're waffles folded over into a sandwich with a few options to put in the middle. There's the Nutella option, the strawberry preserves option, or - the one Paige and I tried - the melted butter and brown sugar option. We loved it! Holy crap, was that tasty.
Really? Waffles?
You're damn right, waffles!
You can also get stuff to drink there...beer, soda, water...plus other assorted snacks. But seriously, bring your own water. They charge $3.50 for a bottle of the stuff.

The tram ride up is a bit pricey, too, but if you get tickets online, you get a five-dollar discount. Also, they're good for the whole day (if I remember correctly). In my opinion, it's totally worth it. A great way to see the Tetons and surrounding valley.

Now on to the next part (part 9) of our 2014 Author Tour! (patent pending)

A Yellowstone Interlude - Lake Lodge - 2014 Author Tour

(To start at the beginning of this series of posts about my 2014 Author Tour, go here)

Day 7 of Paige and my 2014 Author Tour (trademark) brought us to Lake Lodge. It has a much more laid back feel than the Lake Yellowstone Hotel - and is much more affordable. The Lodge itself doesn't have any rooms inside, but it rents out cabins. Some, like the one we stayed in, are pretty...well, I guess you could say cozy.

Really cozy...
They do have larger cabins, too, but we were trying to save some cha-ching.

The Lodge building itself has a nice long porch with a great view of Lake Yellowstone.

Paige hanging out on the porch
Inside it's nice and comfortable. It has the prerequisite gift shop and a cafeteria, as well as comfy chairs, nice writing desks and a fireplace.

Paige took this picture of an elk at dusk, and even though it was taken with a digital camera, it looks like it was a double exposure. I think it looks pretty cool:

The next day, we made our way to the Grand Tetons and Jackson, Wyoming.

Thanks for stopping by. Here's part 'next' of our 2014 Author Tour.