Monday, September 28, 2015

Three-Book Pact for Rod Belcher

Rod Belcher
My friend Rod Belcher, one of the truly sweet and good guys I know, has just gotten a three-book contract from Thor Publishing (probably the biggest name in fantasy) to go with the three he now has.

Rod is one of those writers who spent 20 years earning his spurs as a writer and then blew onto the scene a couple of years ago with the highly-thought-of Six Gun Tarot, which led to Shotgun Arcana and the current Nightwise. He is a man of enormous talent, great patience and discipline who plugged away, often with freelance jobs for publications I edited, learning his craft from bottom to top.

I am truly happy for Rod. He is a guy who deserves everything he has earned and I can't wait for the movie(s).

Here's what Rod said, "The good folks at Tor have decided to purchase three new books from me. A new "Golgotha" book—a sequel to the Shotgun Arcana and the Six-Gun Tarot, a sequel to Nightwise, and a sequel to the upcoming Brotherhood of the Wheel. I'm excited to get to work on these projects.

"I wanted to thank Tor Books, my editor, Greg Cox, and [agent] Lucienne Diver for making this all happen. I also want to thank everyone who has read and supported the books—you are all the best and have been so kind. Thank you, most of all."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

No, Ma'am, I'm Not Dan Casey

That's Dan Casey on the right, me on the left and Roland Lazenby in the middle.
I'm leaving the Showtimers theater with Margie on my arm last night when a pleasant-looking middle-aged blonde-haired woman tugs on my jacket and announces, "You're Dan!"

"Yes, ma'am," I say, slightly embarrassed. Margie smiles.

"Dan Casey," she says.

"No, ma'am," I say. "Dan Smith."

"I read your column, and it is so valuable," she says, not hearing a word I'm saying. "You stand for all the right things."

"Dan Smith," I say. "My name is Dan Smith. Dan Casey is a good friend of mine, but I don't write a column."

"Just keep doing what you're doing, Dan," she says. "It makes such a difference."

"Yes, ma'am," I say. "I will. And thank you."

Thought I'd pass this along to Dan Casey, who writes a splendid column for The Roanoke Times, since he wasn't there to hear it. And I will mention that this is not the first time we've been confused. To his eternal benefit, I'd suggest. People must think he's good looking.

Friday, September 25, 2015

'12 Angry Men' Solid, Workmanlike

Movie poster.
(UPDATE: Stevie Holcomb of the Showtimers board of directors informs me that what I smelled last night was matches burning, not cigarettes. She says Showtimers uses fake cigarettes in its productions. My apologies for the wrong assumption.)

The cigarette smoking that took place on stage tonight during a solid performance at Showtimers in Roanoke of Sherman Sergel's classic "12 Angry Men" came awfully close to ruining the experience for me.

There is the argument that most of the 12 men (actually 11 men and a woman) in a jury room during the 1950s would be smoking, and I get that. But this is today and smoking in enclosed public facilities is usually illegal, most often prohibited and it is completely unnecessary during a stage play. It would be easy enough to feign the smoking, using live cigarettes and not lighting them.

I have an allergy to cigarette smoke and wondered all evening if I might projectile vomit on the person in front of me. Had I done so, my guess is that the Showtimers' thinking about allowing lit cigarettes in a packed theater would change. But I controlled myself. I will strongly recommend that if you don't like smoking, don't go to this production. I would not have gone had I known.

In any case, it was a workmanlike performance of a good play, directed by Aisha Mitchell and with an outstanding performance by veteran Brian Lee, who played the angry, growling, bigot who bullied most of the other jurors (played by Lee J. Cobb in the classic movie).

Relative newcomer John Langston was notable in the Henry Fonda part, the juror who initially expressed doubt at the guilt of a teenager charged with murder. My old buddy (and sometimes stage wife) MaryJean Levin affected a convincing foreign accent in her role--normally played by a man, but making no difference in the script. I was also interested in the performance of Dylan Francis, who was spectacular recently as the director in "Cabaret." He played the wimpy, prissy little juror quite well.

The remainder of the cast didn't break any ground, but carried the story along nicely.

This is a worthwhile production that would be even better if Showtimers would figure out how to do the cigarette gig without lighting the damn things.

"12 Angry Men" plays through Oct. 4 and tickets run $5 and $12. Go to showtimers.org for more info.

Quote: Republican Vision of America

As Peter Wehner, a longtime conservative writer who served in the Bush administration, wrote in the magazine Commentary: “The message being sent to voters is this: The Republican Party is led by people who are profoundly uncomfortable with the changing (and inevitable) demographic nature of our nation. The G.O.P. is longing to return to the past and is fearful of the future. It is a party that is characterized by resentments and grievances, by distress and dismay, by the belief that America is irredeemably corrupt and past the point of no return. ‘The American dream is dead,’ in the emphatic words of Mr. Trump.”

--David Brooks in today's NYTimes (here)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Margie the Farm Babe

The embroidered cuffs pulled me in.
A day or so ago, I imagined Margie in overalls. I have no idea where that came from, but a woman in 'alls has always been ... well ... sexy in my world and Margie's sexy, overalls or no. So why would they come up? No idea.

Today, I was browsing in a store after working and exercising and I came across these overalls, the ones with the great embroidery along the cuffs and at the top of the bib. I couldn't resist. And dang if they didn't fit perfectly.

My girl looks terriffic in the 'alls. Maybe I'll have to buy a farm next, or at least a tractor.

Our Friend Yogi Bids Farewell

Yogi celebrates Don Larsen's perfect game, 1957.
I almost began this post with, "My old buddy Yogi Berra died yesterday," but then it occurred to me that I had never met--in person--the 5-foot-7-inch giant.

Yogi, one of the two or three most beloved athletes of all time (in my opinion), was a friend of mine nearly all my life. He made me laugh. He seemed to live down the street. He always smiled. He always said something memorable, if not necessarily making any sense in the process.

Yogi, who died yesterday at 90, was signed by the Yankees as a free agent (emphasis on "free") in 1943 at 18 and made his major league debut two months after I was born in September of 1946. He was nearly 40 when he retired in 1965. He was in the hall of fame seven years later.

My late friend Matty Kargil grew up in Brooklyn, just down the street from Yogi, who was an all-star catcher for the New York Yankees at the time. Matty lived in a blue collar neighborhood. Yogi was a blue collar guy, a man so ordinary that a cartoon bear was named for him, a bear who was not the sharpest pencil in the box. Matty said Yogi knew the neighborhood kids, who simply adored them, and was always accessible to them. He thought of himself as one of the guys in the 'hood. Nothing more.

Yogi never made a lot of money playing baseball because players didn't make the obscene amounts then that they make now. His first full year in the majors (1947), he earned $5,125, about what a low-end player will make in a game now, a high-end player in an inning. In his peak year of 1957 (when Don Larsen pitched the perfect World Series game and Yogi caught it), he earned $65,000. His salary went to $60,000 the next year (even though he made the all-star team) and was reduced every year afterward (almost all of them all-star years). He was down to $30,000 the year he left baseball. He probably would have played for nothing.

Mentioning his salary is not complaining about his salary. Yogi seemed happy and baseball players were valued before the 1970s as baseball players, not as gods. When Babe Ruth became the first player to earn $80,000 in a year (in 1930), a reporter asked him how he felt about making more than the president, who was paid $75,000 a year. He said, "What the hell's (President Herbert) Hoover got to do with it? Besides, I had a better year than he did." And he had.

Yogi with his biography, 1960
Yogi was famous for what became known as 'Yogi-isms," those non-sensical statements that always made sense. Here are a few:
  • It's like deja vu all over again. 
  • You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six. 
  • The future ain't what it used to be. 
  • We made too many wrong mistakes. 
  • Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded. 
  • You can observe a lot just by watching. 
  • You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours. 
  • When you come to a fork in the road, take it. 
  •  Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical. 
  •  It ain't over 'til it's over. 
Yogisms often overlapped "Caseyisms," for his manager Casey Stengel, who fully understood Yogi. Casey said things like, "Line up in alphabetical order, according to height;"  "If we're going to win the pennant, we've got to start thinking we're not as good as we think we are" and lot of others (here).

I will miss knowing Yogi is not here with us, making sense out of things that don't make sense without him.

(Photos: Yogi and Larsen, www.sikids.com; Yogi and book, www.pophistorydig.com)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bernie Going After Big Pharma (and You Can Help)

Bernie giving Big Pharma hell.
Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidate who is not at all afraid to be called "socialist," is going after a pharmaceutical industry in America that he says is risking the lives 35 million people a year with high drug prices.

Sanders points to the $250 million a year spent on lobbying and campaign contributions (the most of any industry) as being the insulation between Big Pharma and reasonable law and more reasonable profits. He says, "This grotesque spending results in Americans paying more money for medication than anyone else in the world. ... People should not have to go without the medication they ened just because their elected officials aren't willing to challenge the drug and health care industry lobby."

Here is what Sanders proposes to do (he's introducing a comprehensive bill next week):

Medicare should negotiate lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry. Medicare is banned from using its purchasing power to lower prescription drug prices. Sanders' plan will authorize Medicare to negotiate lower costs for seniors, ultimately saving everybody money.

Americans should be able to import drugs from Canada and other well-regulated countries. Americans pay 40 percent more per person than Canadians for prescription drugs, and are not legally allowed to buy Canadian drugs in this country.

Create transparency around drug costs. The pharmaceutical industry can arbitrarily set prices for drugs, and the public has very little insight into why certain drugs cost what they do — even though some of the research costs are often funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Generic drugs should be widely available, and drug companies shouldn't be able to bribe competitors to keep cheaper drugs off the market. Brand-name drugs cost, on average, 10 times as much as generics. It is a common practice for big drug companies to pay their competitors to restrict generic drugs from the public, a practice that should be banned.

Drug companies that break the law should face severe penalties. Over the last decade, most major-branded drug makers have either settled or been convicted of fraud for violations including off-label promotion, kickbacks, anti-monopoly practices, and Medicare fraud. Penalties need to be stiff enough to discourage that illegality.

I'm not quite sure who, other than the big drug companies, would oppose any of these changes--and I'm including Republicans in the "who." The consensus is likely strongly in favor of all Sanders' proposals--as it is with so much of his general program, one the GOP likes to characterize as anti-American.

Let's get behind Bernie by signing this petition.

(Sanders graphic: dandelionsalad.wordpress.com; pharma graphic: www.globalresearch.ca)

Sanders' Proposals That Most Americans Favor

A group called Purple America is circulating this graphic on social media and it is getting a lot of response. Of course, it supports Bernie Sanders, but you will notice that every line of proposed policy--which would change present law--is approved by at least 63 percent of Americans. Most of this list is approved by 2/3 or more.

The source is not identified, but from all I've read, the numbers feel right.

That is a level of approval that would overturn a veto in Congress, that would get any bill passed in the Senate (which requires 60 percent for many proposals). Most of these proposals are no-brainers for the public, but pure poison for certain industries and lobbying groups. Negotiating drug prices? Whom would you imagne might be opposed to that? Low interest rates on student loans; ending of tax loopholes, including offshore corporate breaks? Ending Wall Street's tax deductions?

Most of this list is us vs. them, "us" being the people who vote (or don't), "them" being corporate America, which is in the business of screwing those who vote (or don't).

The only one I would question is elimination of the Electoral College, although it if had been eliminated before 2000, George Bush would not have been appointed president. That alone is reason enough for me. But I think making the EC uniform in all states would make more sense than what we have now, though the Republicans are trying hard to tilt it in their favor now by making current red states winner-take-all.

I continue to be surprised that most Americans are opposed to universal health care, which is, of course, not on this list. Our health care quality is poor compared to other first-world nations' and its cost is far greater than any other country's.

But, hey, whoever said politics makes sense?

Monday, September 21, 2015

... and After the Rain


I went out for a walk a bit ago, breaking from all-day writing on a big project, and this is what greeted me at the end of the block where I live. It had been raining furiously the day long, after a wet night. This is pretty and the rain is welcome. Felt like fall, but we all know there's plenty of warm weather left until the gales of November come callin'.

Some Hard, Unpopular Truths About Africa

Is allowing these children to starve the best decision we can make?
My friend Elise Roberts, who lives in Africa, sent me the disturbing essay, some of which appears below, by Kevin Myers, an Irish journalist, who is my age and has been in Africa for quite a while. It is difficult to read, has some extremely hard truths about people born into crisis poverty with little or no hope.

Myers' facts in this essay, which appeared in the Irish Independent, are undeniable and his conclusions--that millions of people simply do not need to be allowed to live--are disturbing and, on their face, hard to deny. This is a humanitarian disaster--as they say--that has been created, not so much by famine, but by good intention. It is a liberal failure (and yes, I'm not only a liberal, but a socialist, one whose knee jerk response would be to send food and money to the suffering).

I don't know what the answer is and didn't even know there was a question until reading this, which represents Step 1 for me.

An insight

By Kevin Myers

Somalia is not a humanitarian disaster; it is an evolutionary disaster. The current drought is not the worst in 50 years, as the BBC and all the aid organisations claim. It is nothing compared to the droughts in 1960/61 or 73/74. And there are continuing droughts every five years or so. It's just that there are now four times the population; having been kept alive by famine relief, supplied by aid organisations, over the past 50 years. So, of course, the effects of any drought now, is a famine. They cannot even feed themselves in a normal rainfall year.

Worst yet, the effects of these droughts, and poor nutrition in the first three years of the a child's life, have a lasting effect on the development of the infant brain, so that if they survive, they will never achieve a normal IQ. Consequently, they are selectively breeding a population who cannot be educated, let alone one that is not being educated; a recipe for disaster.

Eventually, some mechanism will intervene, be it war, disease or starvation. So what do we do? Let them starve? ... This is beginning to happen in Kenya, Ethiopia, and other countries in Asia, like Pakistan.

Africa  is giving nothing to anyone outside Africa -- apart from AIDS and new diseases. Even as we see African states refusing to take action to restore something resembling civilisation in Zimbabwe, the Begging Bowl for Ethiopia is being passed around to us out of Africa, yet again. It is nearly 25 years since the famous Feed The World campaign began in Ethiopia, and in that time Ethiopia's population has grown from 33.5 million to 78-plus million today.

The wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a low IQ, AK47-bearing moron, siring children whenever the whim takes him and blaming the world because he is uneducated, poor and left behind.

There is no doubt a good argument why we should prolong this predatory and dysfunctional economic, social and sexual system but I do not know what it is. ... Please, you self-righteously wrathful, spare me mention of our own Irish Famine, with this or that lazy analogy. There is no comparison. Within 20 years of the Famine, the Irish population was down by 30%. Over the equivalent period, thanks to western food, the Mercedes 10-wheel truck and the Lockheed Hercules plane, Ethiopia's population has more than doubled.

Africa's peoples are outstripping their resources, and causing catastrophic ecological degradation.
By 2050, the population of Ethiopia will be 177 million; the equivalent of France, Germany and Benelux today, but located on the parched and increasingly Protein-free wastelands of the Great Rift Valley.

How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Self-serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa. It has sustained political systems which would otherwise have collapsed.

(Photo: like-img.com.)

A Near-Perfect Late-Summer Day

Orange mums at Ikenberry Orchard.
Re-stocking the apples at Ikenberry.
Sunday was one of those golden late-summer days when we forget how hot it's been and how cold it will be in just three months, settling into the perfection of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

My best bud, Christine Ward, and I took the kayaks out to Carvins Cove in the morning for a paddle on a choppy, breezy lake where the light was lovely and the mountains were showing their final days of green before adorning their fall party dresses.

In the afternoon, Christine went to her painting class and I headed for Ikenberry Orchard in Botetourt County where I could replace the apples I cooked the other day (no sugar, light olive oil and cinnamon). Margie loved the apples, so I figured I'd load up. Ikenberry is a smidge on the expensive side ($9 for half a peck; I could have bought half a peck for $4 at Happy's where a farmer brings his own apples in on the weekends). It was the excursion I wanted, though.

I completed the run to Botetourt with a stop at GWLtd, where I picked up a great-looking orange Carhart T-shirt and a picked fence photo frame. Here's some of what the day held.

White pumpkins. The dirt is free.
Golden delicious apples are crisp and tart now, sweet and soft later.

Pumpkins of a more traditional color. Soon the grounds will be full of them. They're 69 cents a pound now.
Shore at Carvins Cove.
Christine paddling hard with that big, pretty smile flashing.
Sun glints off the water at the cove.
My triumphant buddy.
It was that kind of day.



Friday, September 18, 2015

Eating for Charity at the Al Pollard Cookoff

This is some of the (well-fed) crowd at the Al Pollard cookoff.
Margie and me all dressed up.
The Al Pollard cookoff at the Roanoke Country Club tonight drew a big, festive crowd for the $75 per person charity event and the food was simply marvy.

Margie and I both--surprisingly--wound up voting for the Kroger entry in the cookoff. I was, frankly, floored that the best food there was from a big grocery chain, but its big, fat scallops were simply exquisite. It had some tough competition--notably lobster on toast--but it was a clear winner for both of us.

Truth is, though, that Roger Light of the Shenandoah Club won the competition. I have eaten his lunches and dinners at the club in the past and they were always exquisite.  (Don't tell anybody, but I was always partial to his wonderful fried oysters, served upon occasion.)

Here is a little of what the competition looked like.

Kroger chef Ted Williams was a star.
Food from above.
My friend Whitney Hollingsworth and husband Eric counted the votes.
Warming up on stage.
These shrimp drinks were simply killer.
Chefing it up at the Al Pollard.

'It Looks Just Like Us, Kyle!'

Kyle drawing Margie and me.
My old friend Kyle Edgell did a quick characiture of Margie and me tonight at the Al Pollard charity cookoff at the Roanoke Country Club and I gotta say, she nailed it again.

Kyle's drawn me maybe four times over the years and always gets it right--right being that I look better in her drawings than I do in real life. She couldn't make Margie look any better. This is what she looks like, like for real.

Kyle, who's been doing these cartoons--as she calls them--for many years has finally found a focus where her humor is being used in therapy. More on that later. It's a good story about a very good woman.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Flag To Replace Confederate Battle Flag

This is the new icon.
My friend Andrea Brunais of Blacksburg--a fine novelist and educator--has just introduced me to a movement whose goal is to replace flags of hate, like the Confederate battle flag, with flags of love and hope, like the one pictured here.

It is a flag using familiar symbols--rainbow, hip-hop equality, peace sign, stars--in an effort to supercede flags that get us nowhere as people.

This flag has a specific meaning according to the website promoting it (here):

  1. The rainbow colors represent the ancient Inca flag, indicating freedom--complete freedom both of and from. 
  2. Hip-hop unity on the other side of the flag designates human equality.
  3.  The peace sign at the center uses the Confederate battle flag's white stars and blue bars to form a traditional symbol of peace, hoping to "build on the sacrifices and struggles of Southern heritage while rejecting ... armed and violent secession."
You can join the movement by spending between $5 and $1,500 (for T-shirts, flags, mugs, etc.) which will be used to cover expenses while spreading the word and the sentiment. 
On the one side of the flag are the rainbow colors in an array that reflects the ancient Inca flag, whose colors have come to stand for freedom – freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination and freedom from prejudice, hate and judgment. - See more at: http://startsomegood.com/tntunity#sthash.jl03pAe8.dpuf

On the one side of the flag are the rainbow colors in an array that reflects the ancient Inca flag, whose colors have come to stand for freedom – freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination and freedom from prejudice, hate and judgment. - See more at: http://startsomegood.com/tntunity#sthash.jl03pAe8.dpuf


On the one side of the flag are the rainbow colors in an array that reflects the ancient Inca flag, whose colors have come to stand for freedom – freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination and freedom from prejudice, hate and judgment.
* On the other side are the colors of the hip-hop unity flag. The unity colors are vertical because they signify colors of all humans, side by side, with none above the other.
* At the center of it all is peace. Transforming the iconic blue bars and white stars in the Confederate flag from an X into a circle of peace, while preserving the historic colors, aims to build on the sacrifices and struggles of Southern heritage while rejecting its one-time goal of armed and violent secession.
- See more at: http://startsomegood.com/tntunity#sthash.jl03pAe8.dpuf
On the one side of the flag are the rainbow colors in an array that reflects the ancient Inca flag, whose colors have come to stand for freedom – freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination and freedom from prejudice, hate and judgment.
* On the other side are the colors of the hip-hop unity flag. The unity colors are vertical because they signify colors of all humans, side by side, with none above the other.
* At the center of it all is peace. Transforming the iconic blue bars and white stars in the Confederate flag from an X into a circle of peace, while preserving the historic colors, aims to build on the sacrifices and struggles of Southern heritage while rejecting its one-time goal of armed and violent secession.
- See more at: http://startsomegood.com/tntunity#sthash.jl03pAe8.dpuf
On the one side of the flag are the rainbow colors in an array that reflects the ancient Inca flag, whose colors have come to stand for freedom – freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination and freedom from prejudice, hate and judgment.
* On the other side are the colors of the hip-hop unity flag. The unity colors are vertical because they signify colors of all humans, side by side, with none above the other.
* At the center of it all is peace. Transforming the iconic blue bars and white stars in the Confederate flag from an X into a circle of peace, while preserving the historic colors, aims to build on the sacrifices and struggles of Southern heritage while rejecting its one-time goal of armed and violent secession.
- See more at: http://startsomegood.com/tntunity#sthash.jl03pAe8.dpuf

Fiorina Fact Check: Everything She Said 'Was Dead Wrong'

This has become something of a habit for Fiorina, who has a notable facility for delivering answers that thrill conservatives but fall apart under close examination. In a recent interview with Katie Couric, for instance, Fiorina delivered a four-minute riff on climate change that the National Review enthused "shows how to address the left on climate change." The only problem ... was that every single thing she said in it was wrong.

-- Ezra Klein (here)

GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, says Klein, is a great debater, a classic conservative and she makes stuff up as she goes, pleasing the soft-headed Republican crowds.

(Photo: www.businessinsider.com)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fall Is Closing In on Us

The water level at Carvins Cove is down a good bit, making scenes like this possible.
Me in silouette.
It is slowly moving toward the magical fall lighting in our Blue Ridge Mountains and dusk at Carvins Cove (or any big body of water nearby) is the best place to see--and photograph--it.

My paddling pal Janeson Keeley and I took my kayaks out this afternoon late and the result is these shots of the fading light in a spot that never becomes tiresome for me. It is simply lovely.

Enjoy.

These geese took shortly after I shot this. Oh, for my Nikon or Canon SLR with a big lens! (I shot this with a point and shoot.)
Black and white brings out the drama and the placid feeling of the lake.
Love the swirling water here. Look carefully (left) for Janeson.

Quote: Who's Un-American Now, GOP?


Immigrants filled the factories in the late 19th century.
“This whole anti-immigrant sentiment that’s out there in our politics right now is contrary to who we are. Don’t pretend that somehow 100 years ago the immigration process was all smooth and strict. That’s not how it worked. … [Immigrants were] somehow considered unworthy or uneducated or unwashed. …

“…When I hear folks talking as if somehow these kids are different from my kids or less worthy in the eyes of God, that somehow they are less worthy of our respect and consideration and care, I think that’s un-American.”

--President Obama on immigration

(Note: Between 1860-1900, one third of the increase in the nation's population was due to freshly-arrived immigrants. A third of industrial workers were immigrants by 1870.)


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gratitude: It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

Today I am grateful for:

The ability to be a do-gooder upon occasion. This has been one of those weeks when what and who I know has been helpful to others in need.

Half a century in journalism gives one contacts and with the contacts often come good results. When I get asked for help, I'm the beneficiary because the reward is always in the giving and in watching what little I can provide help lead to success.

I've had a lot to atone for in the past 20 years and using my contacts helps me break even now and again.


An NSFW Play at Off the Rails

Looking for something a little risque this Halloween season? You might want to try Off the Rails' production of "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonaugh, a play described by director Miriam Frazier as "an entirely NSFW (not safe for work) production." That generally is a designation telling you the people in it will be naky-naky, but my guess is that "The Pillowman" will be less naky and more adulty.

The play is generally considered to be the Irishman McDonaugh's best of many. 

The New York Times says, "What 'The Pillowman' is about, above all, is storytelling and the thrilling narrative potential of theatre itself…celebrating…the raw, vital human instinct to invent fantasies, to lie for the sport of it …” That says to me, "Bottom line for theater." Good storytelling and the immediacy of live theater sets theater apart as an art form--especially in this region where it has become exemplary.

The plot is a kind of horror-comedy in which a fiction writer, Katuarian, is interrogated by officials in a police state about his short stories, which seem to be similar to several child murders that have happened locally. The 1995 play has received a number of citations, including two Tonys and a New York Drama Critics' Circle award. Let me personally assure that this is one weird-assed play.

The production runs over two weekends (Thursday-Sunday and Thursday-Saturday) Oct. 15-18 and Oct. 22-24. It will be produced at the June McBrook Theatre at Community High School on City Market in Roanoke at 8 p.m. (except Sunday at 2) and tickets will cost $10 and $15. Students pay $5. Oct. 22 is "pay as you will night."

The production features Tim Kennard, Owen Merritt, Chris Shepard, Spencer Meredith and the always interesting Linsee Lewis. There will be cameo appearances by Ami Trowell, Blair Peyton, Sara Trowell and Taylor Frazier.

Call 540-676-1415 for tickets or you may e-mail at offtherailstheatre@gmail.com. The website is here .

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Miscellaneous Photos: A Lovely Day

This guy and his dogs were having a grand time in the Roanoke River this morning.

This man stopped briefly on his walk to read.
This has been one of the more beautiful days of our late summer. When I awoke this morning it was about 59 degrees and it hasn't risen high above that all day (it's in the 70s as I write this).

I took a walk a while ago and it appears most of Roanoke is taking advantage of the early fall to, first, forget yesterday's football results (especially those of Virginia and Tennessee) and to soak up the cool air and the wondrous clouds and sunshine. Here is a little of what I saw along the way.

Family with dogs stops to watch river activities.
This "Volmobile" was at Happy's Flea Market this morning.
The deer at Carvins Cove are out enjoying the cool.
Margie spotted this rock at the W&L game yesterday. "Must be five carots," she said, amazed.
I spotted this. Ten carats.
Not many quarterbacks stoop to this any more.
Small-time football can still be big entertainment.