Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy Turkey Day

It was a long drive to South Carolina for Thanksgiving, but the excursions on the way and after we arrived made it all worth while. A visit to Brattonvile Pioneer Village gave us some 18th century perspective, while a trip around the Vanderbilt estate called Biltmore moved us along to the world of palatial as seen by one of the most eminent of the 19th century American tycoon families. On the way home we squeezed in a drive through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Blue Ridges were in fine form as a few of the pics that follow will show.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Taste of the Arts at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth, IL


The Event Chairwoman, Terri Ryner checks on the final arrangements with Mike and Allison.

Guest, Lupe Smith, is greeted by Karen Guillen.

Pam and John are clearly happy to be here.

And it appears to be rolling smoothly.

Quite quite smoothly!

Saturday evening Nov. 11th saw a happy group of folks assemble at the Generations Restaurant in Monmouth, IL for the fourth annual Taste of the Arts--Italian Style. As the accompanying photos show, a good time was had by all and the money raised for our Illinois Arts Council re-granting fund will help a large number of local arts groups continue to service the community. Thanks to all who attended and to all who contributed.

This year's "Spirit of Grace" 2006 Arts Patron of the Year Winner, Jim De Young, (center) along with Mike Difuccia, Buchanan Center Executive Director(left), and John Vellenga(right), current Buchanan Center Board of Directors President.

Next year will be bigger and better.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Trip With Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson writes primarily about travel and language. His homespun philosophy is held together by an engaging personality and a penchant for exploring locations and ferreting out the quirky people who live in them. The quintessential Bryson books for me have been Notes from a Small Island and A walk in the Woods--both of which combine nostalgia and a yearning to protect the environment.

In his newest, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bryson returns to his childhood home in Des Moines, Iowa and recalls his parents and his childhood. It resonates particularly with amusing portraits of his buddies in truancy like the incorrigible beer thief and drunk Stephen Katz, the brilliant explosives expert and con man Doug Willoughby, and the clueless butt of all jokes Milton Milton. They're such recognizable types because most of us had similar buddies in our youth.

Bryson's notes that a Gallup poll named 1957 as the happiest year ever in US history because in the following year the Dodgers and the Giants deserted New York. That action set off an era when "greed" became the new motivator for all middleclass Americans. By the end of the fifties, he feels that the average person had everything they had ever dreamed of so there was not much left for them to do for the next forty years other than collect more and bigger of everything from appliances and cars to debt and houses. The chapters often end with the conclusion that whatever he was talking about was the "last of something really special." Most amusing is his wonder that any of us ever reached adulthood in an age when there were no seat belts, bicycle helmets, smoke detectors, dangerous foods, drink or playground equipment, cell phones, or even a 911 to dial.

The book is ultimately an easy and amusing tour through a now vanished world. If you are over fifty put it on your bedside table for a few memories and a chuckle or two before nodding off. Don't worry about the unspoken other side of this coin illustrated by the story of the two old codgers sitting on the porch. One says to the other "Do ya remember the good old days?" The reply is, "Yup! And they never was!"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Another New Beginning for this Old Democracy

Two years ago after he had been re-elected Bush declared that he had accumulated a lot of political capital and intended to spend it.

Well it's gone. I suspect he's not quite sure where it went, but he frittered it down the tubes and the country has little to show for it. Precious little legislation has been passed and even though we have been in Iraq as long as we were engaged in Europe in WWII, there does not appear to be much sign of light at the end of the tunnel.

I don't know if the new bunch can solve all or any of the problems, but it is hard to believe that they can do worse. Let's give them a chance and let's even give our president a chance to work with the new congress and see if some progress can be made.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Political Odds and Ends for the week

The Rev. Ted says he bought it but didn't use it. Does this sound like "but I didn't inhale" to you?

It appears that we won't hear any more from the house ethics committee on the Foley affair--until well after the election. SURPRISE! SURPRISE!

Democratic strategist James Carville, when asked about John Kerry's chances for the 2008 presidential nomination, replied "I don't know, but they're sure less than they were last week." Foot in mouth disease knows no party affiliation.

Just finished Bob Woodward's STATE OF DENIAL. If only a quarter of what he describes is true, we still have enough garbage in the government to more than bury the capital dome.

Vote on November 7th!
And throw at least some of the rascals out.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

OFTA Welcomes Prof. Janeve West of Monmouth College


OFTA says yes and is intent on providing it next Wednesday, November 8th, 2006 at 10:00 AM. As usual we will meet at the Buchanan Center on the square in beautiful downtown Monmouth.

Where does proof come in? Proof by David Auburn is the next Crimson Masque play and the director of Proof is Monmouth College’s new theatre professor, Janeve West. In her program on Wed. Nov. 8th she will tell you a little about her own background and offer a preview to her first Wells Theatre production.

Ms. West has an MFA in Directing/Acting from Texas Tech University and comes to Monmouth from three years as Director of Youth Productions at the Omaha Theater Company for Young People. She has taught Acting, Directing, and Children’s Theatre classes for the Omaha Theater company. Her previous stage productions have been varied and include types and styles that range from Our Town and The Taming of the Shrew to Beauty and the Beast, and Pinocchio the Musical.

Proof opened on Broadway in 2000 but some of you may remember seeing the 2005 film version, which starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Sir Anthony Hopkins. It is a thoughtful drama about a young woman who is haunted by the possibility that she has inherited the mental problems of her recently deceased father as well as his mathematical genius.

Proof is now in rehearsal and will play from November 16-19 at the Wells Theatre on the campus of Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL

I hope you will be able to join us for the last OFTA program of the year. Thanks for your support of our efforts.