Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating and Other Cervantes Quotes Worth Prolonged Pondering

Don Quixote de la Mancha
“The proof of the pudding is the eating.”
 ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

There's nothing quite like a quote with pith. What I find amazing is how many of the maxims we use today come from two sources, William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.

In earlier times (two decades ago) every serious writer owned a handful of companions: Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, Roget's Thesaurus or Rodale's Synonym Finder, and Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, along with a good dictionary. Today, writer's still keep a copy of The Elements of Style close by, whereas the rest is accomplished with a Google search, which is how today's collection of quotes were assembled.

Shakespeare and Cervantes were contemporaries. One lived in England and the other in Spain. Both were poets and playwrights. The latter's most significant work, Don Quixote, is frequently cited as the first modern European novel. It's influence has extended globally and through the centuries.

My first exposure to the story of Don Quixote was through the 1972 Broadway musical The Man of La Mancha. (I saw a local troop reproduce it at the Morristown Theater.) It made such an impact, young idealist that I was, that years later I purchased Dale Wasserman's book and a CD of the soundtrack which I'd listened to so frequently I probably knew every song by heart. Eventually I borrowed from the library an audio book of the original source for this inspired work, Cervantes' magnum opus.

Among the many sayings that have been extracted from his work, this is a good starting point: “A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.”

What follows is a small selection of such proverbs Cervantes left for posterity. They are best enjoyed while reading slowly so that the flavor may be savored.

“Honesty's the best policy.”

“All sorrows are less with bread. ”

“He who sings scares away his woes.”

“Thou hast seen nothing yet.”

“There were no embraces, because where there is great love there is often little display of it.”

“Time ripens all things; no man is born wise.”

“Facts are the enemy of truth.”

“Hunger is the best sauce in the world.”

“Those who will play with cats must expect to be scratched.”

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.”

“Virtue is persecuted by the wicked more than it is loved by the good.”

“Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.”

“What man can pretend to know the riddle of a woman's mind?”

“Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world”

“In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.”

“The wounds received in battle bestow honor, they do not take it away...”

“Diligence is the mother of good fortune.”

“Until death it is all life”

“One who loses wealth loses much. One who loses a friend loses more. But one who loses courage loses all.”

“Many go out for wool, and come home shorn themselves.”

“Good painters imitate nature, but bad ones spew it up.”

"Can we ever have too much of a good thing?"

"To give the devil his due."

"Plain as the nose on a man's face."

"Why do you lead me a wild-goose chase?"

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

"All is not gold that glisters."

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If you like these, here are some sources where you can find more.

Meantime... make the most of your day. '"It's good to live and learn."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dylan's Concert For One

If you're a regular follower of the Never Ending Tour, then this is old news... but it was fun to find that last month in Philadelphia Dylan assembled his team to do a concert for one. It seems our man Bob is determined to continuously confound. Who would have thunk he'd do a Super Bowl commercial? We've known he was an artist but who expected a sculpture show? A radio hour, books of his paintings, and other surprises seem to pop up in unexpected ways.

That's what makes sites like so much fun to visit. The contributors are committed to sharing the never ending story.

For the concert in Philadelphia on the afternoon of November 23 only one ticket got sold. There were plenty of seats, but a very thin audience. That lucky patron was a Swedish fan, Fredrik Wikingsson who has a television show there... in Sweden, not Philadelphia.

Here's a video about the event, Experiment Ensam, contributed by Egil Mosbron.

Or if you prefer the music alone, here's another source.... now being shared by popular demand. Yes, he's still the king of cool.

The set list that afternoon went like this:

1. Heartbeat (song by Buddy Holly)
2. Blueberry Hill (song by Fats Domino)
3. You're Too Late (song by Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams)
4. Key To The Highway (song by Charles Segar)

Historical classics and tributes, and none of his own songs. Maybe this is in part prelude to his own upcoming album in which he does Frank Sinatra covers, though this Forbes story claims that Dylan is not really doing covers, but rather is "lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day."

I began checking out the lyrics to these songs and found something else they have in common. Or thought I had. Fats Domino's classic begins, "I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill." It's just a line nearly everyone is familiar with.  The Buddy Holly tune Dylan began with also had the word "thrill" in it.  "I know that new love thrills me..." he sang.

This got me thinking I'd found something. So I checked out the lyrics to You're Too Late.

If I had someone that's true
It would thrill me through and through

There, it's another thrill. When I finally scanned Key to the Highway, my investigation broke down and I realized I'd been overthinking it.

Anyways, the concert must have been a thrill, even in its brevity.

Keep on truckin'.

Dylan the Elder Statesman painting by ennyman.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DAI Membership Exhibition Announced

Detail of piece by Adam Swanson,  a local painter. 
One of my favorite art events each year is the Duluth Art Institute Annual Membership Exhibition which holds its opening celebration sometime in January. Nearly half the members of the DAI hold artist memberships and are thus invited to contribute something for the show. The show is exciting because it features new work by area artists, that is, work that has been created in the past year.

The opening reception this year will take place January 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Union Depot (506 West Michigan St) and is free and open to the public. During the reception, everyone in attendance is invited to cast a vote on a write-in ballot for a favorite work. The ballots are counted that evening and a People’s Choice award is announced at the end of the night.

“We like to think of the Annual Membership Exhibition as a ‘show-and-tell’ for the past year in the arts,” said DAI Interim Director, Dana Mattice. “It is a great way to check in and see new work by familiar faces, as well as to discover new artists. The exhibit is really representative of the Twin Ports visual arts scene and is one of our most popular shows.”

Last year there were nearly 200 pieces on display. Those who can't attend this year's opening are encouraged to visit the Depot's Great Hall during a lunch break or weekend afternoon through February 15 to soak it in.

Official sponsor of this year's event is U.S. Bank.

In addition to the Membership opening on January 22, the DAI will also celebrate the opening of Emerging Photographers: UMD Photography Students, on view January 22—March 31, 2015 (sponsored by True North Color Lab). George Morrison: Drawing at the Horizon is on view through February 8, 2015 (sponsored by the Depot Foundation and the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation); and the 60th Arrowhead Regional Biennial is on view through February 15, 2015 (sponsored by North Shore Bank of Commerce).

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Speaking of calls for art, here's a reminder of the Vestiges call for art and stories from PROOF Magazine.

Of Note: Tonight Teague Alexy will be featured at the Third Thursday open mic at Beaners Central from 7-9. I believe he will be reading from his new book, How Lefty Stepanovich Turned Water into Wine. These Third Thursday open mic nights have become a fun event, interspersed with trivia and prizes.

While on the topic of books, my new book A Remarkable Tale from the Land of Podd is not yet in book stores, but can be found locally at  Beaners in Duluth and The Red Mug in Superior, as well as Goin' Postal on Tower Avenue.  And if you're not in the neighborhood, you can find it online here at

Meantime... art goes on all around you. Celebrate it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On the Ground Floor: My Steppenwolf Life by Margie Marcus

1990 groundbreaking at the new theater. 
There's a saying that every person has a story. Over the course of a lifetime I've observed that some people have many stories. One of these people is Margie Marcus, whom I met earlier this year via the internet when she was on a quest to find Tony Scaduto. Scaduto had played an instrumental role in her efforts to meet a man who changed her life, Bob Dylan. That was quite a story.

As we corresponded, she began sharing more stories with me, stories about Ralph Gleason, Lenny Bruce, Joseph Heller, Studs Terkel and others whose lives intersected her own in various forms as a result of her mid-life "awakening." Ultimately this led to her sharing with me her Steppenwolf experience.

It's a story I've wanted to share not because it involves celebrities we're all familiar with. Rather, because she exemplifies what it means to roll up your sleeves and make a difference.

The Steppenwolf Theater is now world-famous and recognized as an important piece of the influential Chicago theater scene. But it wasn't always so.

Margie's passion for the fledgling theater group propelled her to not just buy tickets to see the performances but also impelled her to step forward to ask, "How can I help?" She ultimately became a member of the board, making sacrifices to do what she could to help the Steppenwolf grow.

Here's the link to a rewarding and lively read--> On the Ground Floor: My Steppenwolf Life.

Margie sharing a light moment with Albert Finney at unveiling of new theater.

Photo, Top Right: 1990 Groundbreaking for the new theatre at 1650 N. Halsted. Jeff Perry, co-founder and daughter Zoe in front with shovel. Back: Randy Arney, Tom Irwin, Laurie Metcalf, Terry Kinney and Fran Guinan.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Local Art Seen: Benchmark Tattoo's December Show

Saturday between book signings, my son and I went up to check out the December show at Benchmark Tattoo. If you're in the neighborhood, you should check it out. They're in the new building kitty-corner from Sara's Table/Chester Park Cafe. Since their opening, Kyle and Dane have utilized a portion of their space as an art gallery, with track lighting installed to highlight the works they display.

This month's show features clusters of paintings by each of the various artist's they have represented since opening this summer along with a preview of works by Esther Piszczek, who will be the featured artist in January.

Here's an overview of the work. To fully appreciate it, check it out in person. Like a good poem, art is to be savored in an unhurried manner. Take your time and engage.

Jeff Dexheimer
Kristin Grover
Carla Hamilton
Katheryn Lauer
Ed Newman
EdNote: Esther Piszczek's Zentangle-inspired work not pictured here.

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Today's Trivia: French architect and engineer Gustave Eiffel was born on this day in 1832. In addition to the tower in Paris that takes its name from this man, he was responsible for designing the armature that holds p the Statue of Liberty.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Local Art Scene: A Few Images from Yesterday's Action

Interesting configuration of the numbers yesterday. Saturday the 13th, which turned out to be 12-13-14. I don't think anything like that can occur for nearly a hundred years, can it? (On August 9, 2110 it will be 8-9-10. I don't think January 2, 2103 counts, unless you accept the abbreviated 03 and called it 1-2-3, but I am going to rule that out.)

There was a lot happening yesterday. In addition to numerous collections of artists in various locations (Lakeside, Superior, London Road) Chris Monroe had a book signing at the Bookstore at Fitgers, and I had two book signings accompanied by Ian Welshons, the young illustrator from Stillwater who brought my story to life.

Festive booths constructed by Steve McDonald.
Ian and I began at the Red Mug Coffehouse in the Board of Trade Building in Superior. But before carrying things in I ran across the street to the ChristkindlMarket, the art-centric "peoples' square" kitty-corner from the Historic Board of Trade (and former police station here). Each Saturday they gather to sell their wares, with a bonfire to keep customers warmed and fresh.

The space has a scenic Christmas card feel, with bright colors and all the trimmings you might find on an old-fashioned Christmas carnival. There were familiar faces in several of the booths, including Heike and Steve McDonald of Heike's Creations.

Brian and Rebecca Minor had a tent there as well, with the North Shore-Opoly game displayed, along with other cool gift ideas.

From here it was over to the Red Mug to set up our event. Thank you to Suzanne Johnson for the invitation, and so I could read A Remarkable Tale from the Land of Podd to the friends and patrons gathered there.

In addition to the book itself, Ian had made several enlargements of illustrations from the books, which we displayed as well. It was fun listening to Ian share stories about the process he used to produce each illustration. I had no idea that at least one of the pictures was re-worked 9 times in order to get a satisfying outcome. Ian did a masterful job throughout, and we're both thrilled with the final product.

From there we slipped across the bridge to the Armory Annex to be part of the Holiday Celebration there which included music, art and more. The Forging Community blacksmiths make their home here as does (at this time) Pierce & Piszczek Fine Pianos. It is also the office space/HQ for the Armory Arts and Music Center, which continues to labor on behalf of the future restoration of the Historic Armory.

All in all, a good day.... and home in time for a yummy late supper.  

Tonya Borgeson shows how to work the wheel.
Aurora Baer sang from the heart.