Friday, December 31, 2021

Books I Read in 2021: It Was Another Good Year

"I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library."
--Jorge Luis Borges

A portion of my collection of Dylan books. Photo 2018
Books. Over the years I've shared many a quote about books. With the exception of Poilu, all the books below were completed in 2021. I'm only halfway through Poilu and A World Undone, which I got for Christmas.

The first half of this list has links to the reviews I wrote about each. The latter half of the list are books that I checked out from the library, many of which were audio books I listened to while commuting to town or running errands.

The saying "too many books, too little time" is absolutely true. There's little in this world more rewarding than a good book. Equally rewarding is having friends to share your treasures with. That's part of my motivation for writing about the books I've been reading. 

What was your favorite book you read in 2021? 

Poilu, A Grisly WW1 Memoir from the Trenches, by Corporal Louis Barthas

Where Are You Tonight? by Jochen Markhorst

Bob Dylan: On A Couch & Fifty Cents a Day, by Peter McKenzie

H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty

Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell

The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis

Klara and the Sun
, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Jack London: A Life, by Earle Labor

Kingsblood Royal, by Sinclair Lewis

Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life,
by Michael Lewis

C.S. Lewis, A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet, by Alister McGrath
Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom, by Thomas E. Ricks
Bob Dylan's Malibu, Martin Newman
Facing Unpleasant Facts, Orwell Essays
Ocean Prey, John Sandford
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
The Trial of the Chicago 7: The Screenplay, Aaron Sorkin
Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton (quite different from the film)
Experiencing the Trinity, by Darrell W. Johnson
Several Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. (Interestingly, John Sanford has one of his characters reading a Lee Child novel in Ocean Prey.) 

The list above doesn't include the numerous books I started or read partially in order to get a taste for flavor. As already noted... there are too many books and such a shortage of time. Alas... it's time to turn the page.

Today is the last day of 2021. Here's a toast to 2022. 
May it reward you in ways you never expected.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Joe Cocker's Dylan Covers Continue To Reward Listeners

This week I was watching a DVD on Joe Cocker and it brought back to mind this blog post I assembled four years ago. It was impressive how much energy he generated. 

Bob Dylan earned the Nobel Prize "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." He not only consumed the music, he re-shaped it, gave it new luster, and shared it in new forms. It would be comparable to inventing new colors to add to the rainbow.

Now available to all, countless artists have inhaled the new "colors" Dylan gave us and proceeded to take them to new and remarkable places and spaces. One of these performer/interpreters was Joe Cocker, who passed from us in 2014 but has not been forgotten.

There are certain performers whose distinctive qualities set them apart as one of a kind, and Cocker was one of them. He'd been around for many years before he exploded on the scene in 1969 with his first United States tour which included Woodstock. His re-interpretation of "With A Little Help From My Friends" established him as a seriously notable performer. (It didn't hurt that his friends included Jimmy Page, Leon Russell, drummer B.J. Wilson and Tommy Eyre on the organ.)

After three years with his Grease Band, he assembled Mad Dogs & Englishmen, continuing a life of recording and performing. Once Joe Cocker embraced a song and reconfigured it, it became his own.

Here are nine Dylan songs that Joe Cocker recorded. Most, like Dear Landlord, were already familiar by the time he gave them renewed electricity. Others were not released by Dylan himself till much later. (Even lifetime fans have been repeatedly surprised and impressed by the contents of what keeps coming out of the Dylan vault.) The five emotion-laden tunes embedded here are among my favorites.

Dear Landlord (Joe Cocker!, 1969)

Just Like A Woman  (With a Little Help from My Friends, 1969)  Amazing.

Watching the River Flow (Luxury You Can Afford, 1978) -- Joe Cocker and the gang ratchet things up with this live performance in Italy. Love it. But then, here he is belting it out in San Francisco. Mmmmm, yeah.

Dignity (Organic, 1996)  Another great selection.

Let's close it out with this wonderful version of Ring Them Bells (Hymn for My Soul, 2007) from Dylan's Oh Mercy.

Want more Joe Cocker interpretations of Dylan? These are also easy to find...

Seven Days (Sheffield Steel, 1982) was released by Dylan on his Bootleg Series: Rare & Unreleased in 1991.

I Shall Be Released (With a Little Help from My Friends, 1969)

Catfish (Stingray, 1976)

And a laid back Reggae version of The Man In Me (Stingray, 1976)

* * * *
Trivia: Tommy Eyre, who played the organ on Joe Cocker's With A Little Help From My Friends, married Scarlet Rivera in 1991, to whom he was wed till he died from cancer in the summer of 2001. Scarlet has become a "special friend of the Northland" with many fans here as a result of her performances on behalf of the Armory (among other things.) Bringing this blog post full circle, Scarlet's imaginative violin work contributed to the distinctive sound Dylan's Desire album. Being recruited to travel with the Rolling Thunder Revue helped ignite her own career as a performer.

* * * *
Acknowledgement: Source for the nine songs, the tribute to Joe Cocker at Positively Bob Dylan.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Time Capsules: What Would You Conceal For 100 Years?

This car was underground (and sometimes underwater)
for 50 years in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
A big story in the news this week has been the unearthing and opening of two "time capsules" that had been placed beneath a statue of General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia. The statue was being dismantled because it symbolized the oppression experienced by blacks under slavery.

But it was the time capsules that were the interesting feature of this story. They were 130 years old. What would they contain? In what condition were their contents?

I found the story intriguing because in 2007 I attended the opening of a time capsule in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A gold and white 1957 Plymouth Belvedere had been placed in a concrete vault that was to be opened in 2007. Boyd Coddington, an L.A. car-builder with a television show was on hand to help get the car started after its 50 year sleep. Inside the trunk were the "time capsule" contents.

Media gathered round to see what treasures might
be found in the trunk of this 1957 Belvedere 
The car and its contents had been buried as part of the 50th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood. It was to be opened on the state's 100th anniversary. 

One item in the time capsule was a list of guesses as regards what the population of Tulsa would be in 50 years. The winning guess would win the car. There was also some gasoline, to make sure the car would run if cars of the future did not use gas.

Needless to say, when the lid was pulled from the coffin -- I mean vault -- one could readily see from markings on the walls that the vault had been filled with water to varying depths numerous times over the years. If you know anything about cars, they have a lot of parts that can rust... like the frame, the body, the engine.

The late Boyd Coddington had a team of assistants who managed to pry the rusted hood up enough to see that the engine was a block of rust. They then made a gallant effort to open the trunk to retrieve the contents of the time capsule. This was achieved and 

You can read here my account of the Tulsarama celebration. And here's a related story: Entombed 50 Years, Miss Belvedere Still Turns Heads

As for the 130 artifacts concealed in the Robert E. Lee, coins and bullets from the Civil War were among the various items unearthed, along with an 1875 Almanac and some books. The backstory on this second box (the first was found a couple months ago) can be accessed here at the Wall Street Journal site.

Which leads us to the question: What would YOU place in a Time Capsule that would be opened in 100 years? 

What about the original lyrics of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row"? Or an iPod filled with the entire Beatles catalog? How about a box of unused N95 Covid masks? Plus a copy of last Sunday's New York Times with my daughter's 10th crossword puzzle published there.

How about you? 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Tech Tuesday: Interview with Innovator James Yu, Co-Founder of Sudowrite

Photo by Jackson So on Unsplash
In November I read about an AI program that helped writers create stories, write poetry and more called Sudowrite. During a three day trial period I became utterly enthused by the program and used it as much as I was able before the time limit expired. For some reason, I received a weeklong extension and did some additional "playing" with the program, exploring its possibilities and limitations.

When I began sharing come of the collaborative writing on this blog and Twitter James Yu, a co-author of the program, "liked" one of my tweets. After a brief exchange I reached out to see of he would be willing to share a little more about AI, Sudowrite and another shared interest, NFTs.

EN: Which came first, your interest in writing or your interest in technology?

James Yu:
I would say they were intertwined with gaps. I’d always had an interest in storytelling, and wrote lots of short stories as a pre-adolescent. At the same time, I was programming my own little games and experiments in BASIC. I have a faint memory of playing with a very simple markov model where I could input my emails and it would spit out other “probable” emails (this was back in the late 1990s) — that fascinated me, that a facsimile email could appear to be real.

Later I got addicted to creating tools for developers and creatives, and this continues with my work on Sudowrite.

EN: Sudowrite seems to take a different approach to AI-powered writing than the other tools. How many iterations of the program have you produced and where do you see it going

JY: Don’t really know how many “iterations” there have been, but it’s grown organically between me and my co-founder Amit Gupta. We were both part of the same writing circles (mostly consisting of other techies who got into writing fiction). We built it up from a toy, slowly letting word of mouth grow it over time, focusing primarily on creative and literary writers while most other AI writing programs were focused on business users.

EN: The Summer Olympics in China had an AI “newsroom” that generated articles about the various events, much like a journalist. I found the stories to lack feeling. They came across as boilerplate. Some of the poems I create in conjunction with Sudowrite seemed quite evocative. Can you explain what is going on here?

JY: I don’t know the details on how those newsroom AIs were built, but my guess is that they were trained on some sports article templates, and didn’t have much leeway to diverge from them that far. Sudowrite’s poem tool is built on GPT-3, with prompts that focus specifically on modern, evocative free verse poetry. Therefore, the output will also be more evocative.

EN: What is GPT-3? Is this the hardware or the ghost in the machine?

JY: I’m not a GPT-3 expert and the details on its architecture are pretty well known so I won’t go into that specifically. As for the ghost in the machine: we love to anthropomorphize AIs, especially large language models, since at times, they seem to evoke a strong sense of self. It’s no surprise that GPT-3’s reading comprehension has reached almost human level accuracy. Of course, this is all an illusion. It is statistics. A simulacrum. There is no consciousness within the silicon (yet).

EN: Are NFTs a fad like Tulip Bulbs or are they here to stay?

Painting by Jonathan Thunder
who has been a featured artist
in the NFT scene in 2021.
There’s definitely a lot of tulip bulbing out there right now. The signal to noise is exceedingly small, and even if you’re immersed in the NFT world 24/7, you can easily miss the next fad. The same sort of thing happened in Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 eras: so many companies and products that were ephemeral. But from those eras, certain key technological innovations did survive, so I’m bullish that this random walk down crypto art will also yield lasting value. In particular, the idea of digital ownership will be huge, especially as more of our life moves online.

EN: Looking back over the history of art—especially in the 20th century--I find it somewhat fascinating how creativity has continually found new ways of expression. Will there be galleries like the Louvre or Guggenheim that exist as repositories of AI-generated art?

JY: I believe so yes! The genre of algorithmic art has existed for a while and they’ve already made it into the traditional galleries way before NFTs. But it does feel that this type of art is “native” to the NFT world and it’s encouraged a lot of new artists to tinker with AI in art.

EN: Do you have some “heroes” or mentors in this genre?

JY: I really admire Mario Klingemann (, who’s been doing AI art for a while now, and has also made a serious living from it. I also love how he shares his knowledge and encourages others who might be new to the field.

EN: Why do some creative people become entrepreneurs and others do not?

JY: Don’t know for sure! It probably has to do with a specific type of thinking that makes a good entrepreneur: you have to be obsessed with a particular problem and potential solutions to it, so much so that you would say, “Hey, I’ll quit my job and drop everything to work on this for years with a high risk of failure.” It’s kind of crazy. But if you have that itch, it never seems to go away until you try to see it through to completion. Not all creative people thrive with these kinds of problems.

EN: Who or what were your early influences in this direction?
JY: I credit Y Combinator. I was an early employee at one of their companies and saw the rise of the program circa 2006, and eventually started my own YC funded company. The energy at during that era was off the charts. Being surrounded by other people like me who were product obsessed propelled me.

And secondly I would say my IBM 286 computer I got in 1994 was the other cornerstone influence. My parents didn’t give me that much guidance: just let me hack and make interesting things on that machine. That, dovetailed with the rise of the internet, forms a lot of my worldview today.

EN: Thank you, James!

Related Links

Monday, December 27, 2021

Most Popular Blog Posts of 2021 at Ennyman's Territory--Chiefly Dylan, Though Other Themes Emerged

County commissioners made a 
proclamation on Dylan's 80th birthday.
By year's end he was on tour again.
It's that time of year again, a time for looking back at the year now past in order to prepare for the year ahead. Once again, the Grateful Dead have given us a few lines to describe our mutual experience of these past two years. I'll select this one: "What a long strange trip it's been." 

Clint Eastwood's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly comes to mind as well. As regards Ennyman's Territory....

The Good: I didn't quit at the end of 2020 when I became depressed about it all I was greatly encouraged by a few reader friends who seemed surprised that I would even consider quitting. 

Also in the "Good" category... the blog passed the 3 million pageviews milestone in November. Thank you. You (readers) are the reason I keep trying to produce content that is interesting, thought-provoking or relevant. 

The Bad: These are intertwined. This spring I found myself in a predicament. Facebook began banning my blog URL so that I could no longer share my blog content there. The stated reason: violation of community standards. When I dug into this and attempted to get a clarification, I could not reach a human being, but did get an explanation. Supposedly, the Facebook "content police" said I was a Bot, the implication being that because I posted regularly every day since 2007 I must be a machine. 

Two days later I was also banned on Instagram, which is owned by FB. On both Facebook and Instagram I could still read others' posts, but on Instagram I was unable to "like" the artwork of the artists I followed there, nor could I post any of my own photos.

The Instagram situation resolved itself in about six to eight weeks, but Facebook was still a thorn. It was suggested I go to the forums on Facebook and take up my case there. Over a period of a month I made a couple attempts to interact with a Facebook human, and by summer had a breakthrough. A Facebook staffer responded to my "problem" and said my blog links were being blocked because either (a) I was perceived as a spammer, or (b) someone reported me. 

When I pursued this so as to learn who made the accusation or why, the person replied, "This discussion is closed."  

The Ugly: Well, since 2010 a primary subject for my blog content had been the local Twin Ports art scene. Few, if any, of the artists who followed my blog on Facebook were also followers on Twitter. Because the people I wanted to reach through my blog were not accessible, my motivation was undercut. Incentives matter, and I lost my motivation to go over-the-top to cover what was happening. 

In truth, two years of pandemic has caused a very definite curtailment of art openings and events... Artists are still making art, and sharing on social media, but it is a very different social experience from the evolving scene of the past dozen years.

The Workaround: For what it's worth, this fall I shut down my blog and created a springboard so that when I post on Facebook, the reader gets forward to the most recent blog post at Ennyman's Territory. It's clumsy, but it works. (Thank you, Cirina.)

Alas, it's time for the Ten Most Popular Blog Posts of 2021 at Ennyman's Territory. Drumroll please........


Artists Take to the Streets... To Make Snow Sculptures. Plus a Link to Art in February


Michael Lewis' Tribute to Coach Fitz


San Francisco's School Renaming Spree Would Be Funny If They Weren't Serious


French Artist Claude-Angèle Boni Explains Two Dylan-Inspired Treasures


Bob Dylan's Shadow Kingdom: Swoons for Many, a Letdown for a Few


Official Poster and Finalized Schedule for Duluth Dylan Fest 2021


Dylan On Loneliness: References A-Plenty, Sorrows Run Deep


Mr. Dylan Spent Some Time Watching the River Flow During the Pandemic (Milwaukee Concert Review & More)


Dylan Lines in 4/4 Time: A Trivia Contest for the Super Fans


Winter Dance Party: 62 Years Ago Today Bob Dylan Saw Buddy Holly Here at The Historic Duluth Armory

The Armory board had something to shout about in 2021.
After 20 years of preparations, the dream of a renovation
took another step forward. Story here.

Thank you to everyone who has visited these past 14 years... 
May your 2022 be our best year ever.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Poilu -- A Grisly WWI Memoir from the Trenches

French soldier at lookout, WWI
ɡrizlē / adjective/
"causing horror or disgust"

"causing repulsion or horror"

Synonyms: ghastly, frightful, horrifying, fearful, hideous

* * * * *

I recently had a discussion with a friend with whom the topic of World War I came up. I was recommending that he watch Kubrick's Paths of Glory again, as I had just revisited it recently. This led to discussions about books, of which he made three recommendations: The Great War by G.J. Meyer, Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves, and Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker. The latter two I requested the next day from the library and then purchased Meyer's volume as a Christmas present to myself. 

The word "poilu" is literally translated "hairy" but its meaning is similar to the dismissive term "grunt" that is used in our American lingo. After a few short pages I became utterly immersed with this detailed and insightful account of life in the trenches and its horrors. The words grisly and gruesome only begin to describe the experience for these grunts who suffered the most appalling indignities. 

One of the recurring themes in the narrative is how much the soldiers despised their commanders, and rightly so. The abuse they endured for no reason and the lack of any kind of empathy or attempt to relate to the circumstances these poilu were being sent into is unbelievable. 

A second theme that closely parallels the first is that over time there developed a greater camaraderie between the German grunts and poilu than either group of fighting men with their own officers.

On one occasion the French troops were crawling forward in a heavy rain through the mud and, emboldened by the silence they encountered, they arrived at the German trench they had been ordered to take. They found it stuffed with corpses. There was only one wounded German, who was taken away and the trench reoccupied.

"They tossed out the dead bodies to both sides, front and rear, and covered them insufficiently with the earth they shoveled out while deepening the trench. But the steady rains uncovered the bodies, little by little, and they had to abandon the trench. A sign post at its entrance bore this lugubrious inscription: Trench of Death. In truth, there were only dead men there." (p. 34-35)

Over and over the weather brings additional challenges to bear upon the men. It becomes apparent that there will never be any kind of "winning" in this war. The real objective is to not lose one's sanity.

"The steady rain brought on landslides which uncovered many French cadavers alongside our trench, which had been taken on September 25. They had been tossed out of the trench and insufficiently covered with a bit of dirt. It wasn’t unusual to be grabbed while passing by a skeleton hand or a foot sticking out of a trench wall. We were so blasé about it that we paid it no more attention than to a root we might trip upon in our paths." (p. 134)

And then there were the lice. 

"We had six days of rest at Agnez-les-Duisans. With heavy rains each day forcing us to stay inside our billets, our primary occupation was hunting lice. Each of us carried thousands of them. They found a home in the smallest crease, along the seams in the linings of our clothing. There were white ones, black ones, gray ones with crosses on their backs like crusaders, tiny ones and others as big as a grain of wheat, and all this variety swarmed and multiplied to the document of our skins.

"And these lice bore in as well on the tough skin of a rude peasant as on the soft skin of an effeminate Parisian. It made no distinction among levels of society. To get rid of them, some rub themselves all over with gasoline every night; others carried sachets of camphor, or powdered them selves with insecticide; nothing did any good. You'd kill 10 of them and 100 more would appear.

"This all came from the repulsive filthiness of our bedding, which was hardly ever changed, and the difficulties we had and doing laundry. The cold was so pervasive that as soon as everything was washed it froze solid. Where could we thaw out and put it out to dry?"

There were good reasons the poilu detested their officers. Here is one example. In order to motivate the soldiers to run toward the German trenches, Balthas' unit was told that they must go relieve the 23rd division at a certain location. The soldiers pressed forward only to find no French soldiers at all. They had been lied to and advanced into a withering blaze of machine gun fire. The lie was supposed to make them feel more confident in their advance. Naturally it made them distrust their commanders even more.

If a soldier requested leave because his frostbitten feet made it impossible for him to walk, the soldier would be court-martialed for making excuses to avoid having to fight. And just as in Paths of Glory, sometimes the officers would order the shooting of their own men if they failed to run forward into blistering machine gun fire.

Reading Barthas puts a perspective on the realities of that time. On page one he describes the manner in which the coming war is announced. There is a drumroll in his village followed by the declaration of a general mobilization, which is a prelude to war. 

Barthas writes, "This announcement, to my great amazement, aroused more enthusiasm than sorrow. Unthinking people seemed proud to live in a time when something so magnificent was about to happen... Everyone got ready, at a fever pitch, as if they really feared not getting there in time before the victory was complete."

* * *

“Ah, the notebooks of Louis Barthas! This book has profound historic value. It is also a genuine work of literature.”—François Mitterrand, former president of France

* * * 

Related Links

The Great War: So Much Sorrow, And for What?

Paths of Glory (A 2010 review)

Saturday, December 25, 2021

A Christmas Day Reflection

Christmas offers us an opportunity to reflect on many universal themes: the birth of hope, the quest for salvation from a meaningless existence, a pathway out of our self-absorption to learn anew the meaning of love.

A child was born this day whom the prophet Isaiah wrote would be called the Prince of Peace. A somewhat remarkable "title" in a world so broken by conflict.

This child would one day teach us how to pray, beginning with the words "Our Father..."

"OUR." Not just "my" Father, but Our Father, a father for us all... each of us siblings in an amazing, diverse family that extends from ancient times to whatever lies ahead, made in God's image... creators, makers, lovers, helpers, persons. 

In 2022, let's be done with hate. Let mercy rule our hearts. Let's turn the page and make a renewed commitment to becoming our better selves.

Related Links

For Unto Us A Child Is Born (from Handel's Messiah)

O Henry's Famous Christmas Tale: The Gift of the Magi

The Day Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Heard The Bells

Friday, December 24, 2021

Flashback Friday: A Page of Quotes from the Portuguese Poet Philosopher Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa, 1914
It's been over ten years since I was introduced to the acclaimed Portuguese poet and prolific writer Fernando Pessoa. The more you read of his work, the more striking his original way of seeing things and expressing them. 

A few additional things are worthy of note. First, that his writings channeled different personalities and characters. He signed them in these various names as if written by other people, writing in different styles. The literary term is heteronym. The second feature of his work is that most of it was published posthumously. His papers had been left in a trunk and only then the magnitude of what he'd be doing privately was revealed.

I personally like the way he approaches things from a fresh and unexpected angle. His observations move me, as does his frequently simple eloquence. Here is an example:

I'm nothing,

I'll always be nothing.
I can't even wish to be something.
Aside from that, I've got all the world's dreams inside me.

* * *

"No intelligent idea can gain general acceptance unless some stupidity is mixed in with it."


"I've always rejected being understood. To be understood is to prostitute oneself. I prefer to be taken seriously for what I'm not, remaining humanly unknown, with naturalness and all due respect"


"My past is everything I failed to be."


"Stones in the road? I save every single one, one day I'll build a castle"


"My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me. I attend to everything, dreaming all the while... I'm two, and both keep their distance — Siamese twins that aren't attached."


"The value of things is not the time they last, but the intensity with which they occur. That is why there are unforgettable moments and unique people!"


I am the size of what I see
not my height's size.


Related Links
Two Poems by Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa on Wikipedia
Of special interest are details of Pessoa's heteronyms, pseudonyms and characters.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Memory Lane: The Day I Became Smalter Kitecronk

I was in sixth grade the year we moved to New Jersey from the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights. The date was January 20, 1964, three weeks before The Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The real Kitecronk, I mean Cronkite
My memories of those first months are surprisingly sparse. My sixth grade teacher was Mr. Klein, a friendly young man of average height, slender of build. I remember little of what we studied except that for social studies we were asked to cut out political cartoons from the editorial page of our newspaper and explain what they meant. It was an interesting exercise in expanding our awareness of the broader world.

The classroom probably had 30 desks and chairs. Most were filled by other students whose names I would have to learn. (They only had to learn one, since they already knew each other.) A few weeks after my arrival a new student joined the class and was seated next to me. Now that I was no longer "the new kid" I spent the day trying to make her feel at home in this class of new faces. I talked to her as if I had been there all year. By day's end, however, I discovered that Diane had actually been part of the class all along. She'd only been out of school because of a surgery she'd undergone. 

The memory that came back to me the other day, leisurely drifting into my consciousness after lying dormant more than half a century, was the skit I was part of near the end of the school year. I don't recall auditions, or even rehearsals. In the segment I was part of I played the role of Smalter Kitecronk in an obvious parody of the television newscaster Walter Cronkite. Like the famous newsman, I wore a suit and tie along with a narrow mustache.

The Hillside School auditorium was crammed with students and parents that afternoon. It must have been a pretty big deal.

In the skit I was part of I sat at a table up on the stage facing the audience, reading the news like talking heads did on news shows before there were teleprompters. Seated next to me was another student, and the banter we exchanged was news show parody. 

Behind us there was a large map of the world affixed to a wall prop. Keep in mind that this was 1964, still the heart of the Cold War. I believe one of the news stories involved classmate Michael Beale as Nikita Khrushchev (if memory serves me well), who stood, took off his shoe and banged it on the podium. 

In my portion of the sketch I was asked a question about Russia. I stood, went to the map and said, "It's still Red." 

I then stuck a pushpin into Moscow, whereupon the map shouted, "Ouch!" 

So much for my early life in theater.  

* * * 

Related Links

The Khrushchev Shoe Banging Incident (Satire)

A Farce So Dark It Will Make You Laugh: The Death of Stalin (Movie Review)

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

AICHO to Host Papercut Artist Ellen Sandbeck's "As Long As the Rivers Shall Run"

Mississippi River Headwaters

How do you spell "Impressive"? 
I spell it E-L-L-E-N S-A-N-D-B-E-C-K 
That's also how I spell the word Prolific.

Upper Mississippi River
After nearly two years of virtual visual arts, the AICHO Galleries is opening its doors for its first in-person exhibition since the start of Covid. The artist kicking off this new chapter is Ellen Sandbeck, a well-known local artist and publishing author who has been doing papercut art for 35 years. 

This show, which will be on display from January 8 through February 25, is titled "As Long as the Rivers Shall Run." It will include a papercut workshop on February 3 at 7:00 pm in the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center, 212 W. 2nd Street here in Duluth.

Middle Mississippi River
The artwork in this show depicts species endemic to the Mississippi River, including endangered and recently extinct as well as invasive ones. This is the first of a series of sets that will later explore the species found in other rivers around the world including the Yangtze, the Mekong, the Nile, the Ganges and the Amazon. There will accompanying text that includes scientific names, conservation status and snippets of natural history about each species, as well as the challenges faced by each river. 

Lower Mississippi River

The artwork consists of multicolored, multi-layered papercut images.
 The Mississippi River has been represented by five large-scale papercuts (39” x 27”): “Mississippi River Headwaters,” “Upper Mississippi River,” “Middle Mississippi River,” “Lower Mississippi River,” “Mississippi River Delta."  

OPENING RECEPTION: January 8, 5:00-7:00 p.m. 
Pre-registration required. Bookmark this page for more information:

* * * * *

Ellen Sandbeck's illustrations have been published by several publishing companies. Her artwork has been shown all over Minnesota, and in Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, and New Jersey. In 2020, she was awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and she is on the artist roster for the Minneapolis Airport Foundation.

Related Links

Books by Ellen Sandbeck 

A Buddha A Day, the Ellen Sandbeck Way  (2010)

Local Art Seen: Sandbeck and Villiard Explore Issues Surrounding Endangered Species and Endangered Lifestyles Portrayed (2018)

COVID-19 Safety Protocol Precautions: The gallery open hours are yet to be determined. Visitors to the gallery will be required to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status and that there will be limited gallery viewing hours and social distancing guidelines. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Duluth Historic Armory Announces Partnership With Sherman Associates--Renovation Is Underway

Mark Poirier welcomes friends of the
Armory and media to the event.
George Sherman upper left.
Yesterday there was some pretty big news here in the Northland. A major media event was convened inside the Drill Hall of the Historic Duluth Armory for the purpose of announcing a new partnership between the Duluth Armory Arts & Music Center and Sherman Associates. At long last a plan has been finalized and a developer secured. 

The event generated a lot of buzz and drew a wide variety of people here for the announcement. Mark Poirier, executive director for the Armory, opened the press conference by welcoming everyone and thanking everyone who helped make this day possible.

The process of securing a developer for this project was 20 years in the making. As Mark Poirier stated in his opening remarks, "Good things come to those who wait."

Speakers yesterday included George Sherman, Mayor Emily Larson, 3rd District Councilor Roz Randorph, Chamber of Commerce president Mark Baumgartner and Pam Kramer, executive director of the Duluth branch of LISC, the nation's largest non-profit community development organization.

To learn more about this $25,000 undertaking, and the vision for this historic place, visit Business North.

Here are some additional photos, followed by a few noteworthy links.

George Sherman was the man of the hour. This will be his 
fourth major project in Duluth.

Seven members of the Armory board were on hand. 
(L to R) Ssan Phillips, Carolyn Sundquist, Mike Poupore, 
Laura Weintraub, Mary Ostman, Bob Hewitt and Mark Pourier

Duluth Armory Website

Michael Anderson Photography

Buddy Holly and the 1959 Winter Dance Party, with Links to More

Popular Posts