Friday, May 30, 2008

Great Ridley Pearson interview on Plum TV

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Space Age

Endless conversation


From the Idaho Mountain Express

I was motivated to a great extent in my youth by the expectation that I would one day own a NASA Jet Pack. Every kid in my town saw the televised demonstration: A man stands stiffly in a spacesuit with jet-fuel tanks on his back. The pack ignites and he rises from the ground, maneuvering unsteadily above the trees, using toggle switches and his swinging legs for balance. It was an unwieldy vehicle and I don't remember ever seeing him land it. In fact, I don't think we were meant to. The Jetsons cartoons were on TV, Apollo missions were taking men to the moon. Every kid I knew expected, at the very least, to have a personal helicopter within a few years, probably a Jet Pack or two. We studied hard, ate our vegetables and waited for the future.

By 1975 it became apparent that the Space Age was a bit of a ruse. The moon turned out to be the worthless slag heap everyone supposed it to be. Even as I dreamt of unfettered flight to far-away lands—possibly to other worlds—there were kids still starving in India and black sharecroppers living nearby who had never even left the county. How many Jet Packs would there be to go around?

Gil Scott-Heron wrote a song called "Whitey on The Moon," poking fun at the expense of Apollo missions in light of the growing squalor and desperation of the inner cities of America. The only personal helicopter I ever saw was made from an upside-down, Briggs and Stratton push-lawnmower bolted together above a chair by a resourceful Georgia farmer. We heard that his experiment ended badly.

Pretty soon the space race gave way to an even bigger and more expensive pissing match: the arms race. The Cold War seemed to swallow every grain of hope and invention into its maw. Soon after outspending and out-engineering the Russians, we are facing greater environmental catastrophes than ever, along with rising political instability. Hundreds of millions of people lack electricity and clean water to drink. And nobody has a Jet Pack.

But what if I have been missing the point of NASA all along? Rather than launching mankind to the stars, and giving every kid a Jet Pack, the astronaut heroes of the Space Age launched something even more profound, and ultimately more transforming: They turned the world in upon itself. I think of this when I am "Google-Earthing" obscure regions of the planet—as though from outer space—using NASA photographs taken from a ring of satellites positioned and maintained in Earth's orbit over the last 50 years.

The experience of outer space brought at least one astronaut to the study of inner space. Naval air captain and astronaut Edgar Mitchell saw our planet from a cramped space capsule while returning from the moon during the Apollo 14 mission in 1972, and was "engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness," according to the Web site of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Mitchell's epiphany led him to found IONS, a non-profit organization that "conducts and sponsors leading-edge research into the potentials and powers of consciousness—including perceptions, beliefs, attention, intention and intuition."

As a planet we are already as far out in space as we are ever going to get, surrounded by a vast, frozen darkness, and enormous burning stars. Now I can see that my Jet-Pack dream of power and escape was only a metaphor for a growing human consciousness. Maybe I was supposed to learn to walk on the Earth, before dreaming of the stars.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Utah Phillips has left the stage

Listening on KVMR this morning we learned that our dear friend and pal, U. Utah Phillips has ended his struggle with his health problems and has stepped onto a broader stage. We will miss him dearly. Fare thee well Utah. Thank you for your long memory, we will carry it on from here. We love you.

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Against the Grain:Memoirs of a Western Historian

Associated Press, Bob Mims
For most of his 82 years, Brigham D. Madsen has mined historical truth, chipping away layers of legend to unearth the real, often raw, always compelling stories of the frontier's Indians, soldiers, explorers, and settlers.

But that truth, Madsen will tell you, has proven a harsh muse. Fourteen books, numerous articles, and scholarly awards are the milestones of an intellectual and spiritual journey through the region's past that have brought him both pleasure and pain.

Along the way, Madsen unearthed one of the worst butcheries of Indians in the Old West; exposed as fable a long-accepted account of an emigrant massacre; and concluded that the Mormon faith he held dear was founded on fictional, if inspirational, scripture.

"That's the historian's burden," he said. "You ask yourself, 'What are going to be the results of this?' . . . But you have to give the truth as you see it.

"If the evidence says such and such happened, then I'm going to tell it the way it is," he said. "History can be dangerous."

If so, Madsen has proven well-suited for the job. Even in his ninth decade, he remains a rough-hewn bear of a man, as comfortable with his past as a construction worker as he is as a renowned University of Utah emeritus professor of history.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The 'war' Idaho forgot

Remember the Kootenai Tribe's struggle against the feds in 1974?

Now's your chance to learn.

by Tim Woodward

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

~The Midnight Hour~
by Noah A. Bowen

He wore a top hat, frock coat, carried a sword stick, and had the tendency to lick at the froth that would often flick from the corners of his mouth. He preferred alleys to streets, night to day, and, with the insistent accuracy of a madman, never wore white. His cape was, as was all else, of black silk only the lining, a smear of stark scarlet that would flicker and weave about his shoulders as a flame of some diabolic heritage would a coal. The stiff collar rose high and red against his tall hat giving his pallid face the appearance of some pagan god.
He wavered under the street lamps like a shadow, and through the alleys, neath a full moon and cloud mottled sky. Somewhere a clock boomed as it clicked mid-night, the specter looked to the sky, the moon becoming an eerie glimmer in his empty black eyes. The time was ripe and with each tick of the hour and darkening of shadow, growing richer, sweeter still. He stopped at a boarded door and, with gnarled hands and bony wrists, broken nails and insidious determination, began to pry, board by board, the splintery barrier from the stoop with the heavy breathing of a deranged mind. The moon cast a sickly yellow hue across his parchment like skin and, at last, the deed was done.
Digging through his pocket he extracted a key, of which he rattled into the rusty lock and opened the door. Flinging it open then twisting into its alcove with an obscene cackle, slowly the door creaked shut. He filtered silently to the center of the musty room, fraying cobwebs clinging to his cape, and, kneeling, fingered the decaying floorboards till he felt the iron hoop cold in his grasp. With a profane utterance hissing between his teeth, he heaved and the floor opened to a foul smelling hole, depraved whispers lisping from below its inky blanket. Letting the door drop back with a sickening thud he groped at the walls of the dark prison till corroded links clinked dully against his groping. Hoisting the chain to the surface, he opened a small teek-wood box at its end and removed a sinister yellow oboe. This he placed to his lips a produced a morbid sonata of fiendish notes that reverberated down into the hole with hollow, demonic delight. Something groaned fare below, something ancient and thirsty. He ceased playing the oboe and, twisting his head to a tilt, listened in ghastly silence.
Again the restless groan came, only closer.
Crawling to his feet and drawing away from the hole, he watched in awe as an ominous black shape oozed from the prison and slithered hideously out the door, into the night, a clammy chill in its wake.
Re-setting the oboe and lowering it back deep within the tomb, he closed the moldy trap door with a gust of stale air, then, locking the door behind him, departed. The malignant glimmer in his eyes praising the release of the unholy devil with every flutter of his damned soul.
Long had it waited in the ruined catacombs of desolation, waited patiently for the forbidden gathering of the faith-full, waited as time withered its dank hair and wicked spirit. Till, at last the door opened on grating hinges and the still air wafted into motion, it was released.
He glided down the alleyways, a broken silhouette, following the nauseous scent of embalming fluids. His cadaverous face warped into a sickly, loathsome leer that seamed to tear from ear to ear, bleeding bubbling drool and sprouting lengthy, pointed fangs. He turned from the alley onto a street spattered with radiant pools of moon light that spilt down from the gaping holes within the clouds, and if looked close enough, one might notice, no shadow flicked at his heels.
And with that, he cackled blasphemously and faded beyond the macabre fog that enshrouded the city at the midnight hour, the limping slap of his feet on the cobbled streets slowly bleeding to a dry silence.
A clock chimed in the distance, and so passed the midnight hour.


"that one guy"

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~Changing seasons~

by Noah A. Bowen

The Days were slowly growing longer as the snow began to recede and the sky began to brighten. Spring had started its dainty sonata with rich greens and vivid blossom, dappled with soft sorrels and the somber grey of fleeting shadows.
The air poured golden and warm down the mountains with the rising sun, dusty shafts filtering through the twigs with merry song of waking birds and humble yawn of nestling beast.
Logs channeled the docile current of a green river, forming a confluence into a once silent pond that would now ripple and swirl up the sandy banks and to the high grasses causing whisper amongst the dreary willows and pleaching yews. The wind whistled moodily over the purple dew drops that would weep, with the solemn patter of a tear, upon the drifting lilys and silent shallows.
The season had come at last, and, as if awakened from long hibernation, Mr. Sparks stepped out from his cabin and yawned.
It was such a yawn that he seamed, as it were, to inhale the whole of the little valley and its sunny plateaus, to drink of its warmth and clarity, vivid colors and sweet aromas, voluminous crops and vivacious landscape. He peered across the plain at a small herd of deer ducking and weaving playfully through the hills and meadows. Smiling with a twinkle in his bright eyes, he turned to a little hare creeping cautiously around a fallen oak, mossy and tangled with briar, and chuckled kindly. The hare bolted to the brush sending crackling waves of rens twinkling through the sky. And what was that, with so majestic a red plume, but a cardinal, who fluttered into the sun then spiraled past the old mans head and landed gently in a crab-tree, pink blossoms bursting between its claws.
Mr. Sparks thumbed his suspenders with a sigh of relief, the cold and snow had passed and he now felt as though he could breath.
And with that he disappeared into the cabin for breakfast.

His eggs were sunny-side-up and tasted just as scrumptious as the new morning breeze.
Polishing a shiny red apple across his barreled chest, he tucked it away in the reed pouch at his side, pulled on his beaded moccasins, threw the long willow fishing pole over his shoulder and set off to the quit little brook that tumbled cold and clear from the highest peaks of the mountains for a lazy day of tranquil relaxation. He would cast his line in, under the over hanging bank, being sure so as not to catch it on one of the wayward twigs or thistles, then nuzzle against his favorite rock, lower his floppy straw hat and, letting his lids drop just a wee bit, wait for the gentle tug of Big George.
Mr. Sparks had been after Big George all of two years, ever since he had pulled him flipping and flashing pink and silver from 'neath the bank and onto shore only to have him snap his favorite pole and escape back into the babbling waters with what seamed a smirk on his big blue lips.
Mr. Sparks thought of this now as he cast into the shadowed alcove and, twisting the line about his toe and crossing his arms and lowering his hat, he was soon fast asleep against his rock, warm neath a leafless elm.

The tug came about noon, it was fast and strong, whipping the line taut about Mr. Sparks toe.
He sprang into wakefulness almost quicker than he had fallen from it and, hands at reel muttered, " I gotcha now George, I gotcha you overgrown blimp lipped son-of-a-sardine."
Again his pole bowed to the tug and Mr. Sparks started to reel; the smooth clicking, sure, sound and patient.
Then with a violent tug and loud fwap!, Mr. Sparks had him, the hook was set and the battle began.
He reeled and George tugged, the line swirled this way and that, Mr. Sparks at his feet flailing the pole like a madman.
George flipped and darted, splashing the water across the shore and fraying the currents to foaming waves that would crash and explode up Mr. Sparks' ankles. He leaped and twisted then, with one last effort, yanked and vanished down the brook jerking the pole from Mr. Sparks' hands, dragging it with him. Mr. Sparks leaped from the shallows to the bank and started off after his fleeting pole; eyes straining to focus on the thin willow wisp zipping down the current. He stumbled many times over rock, brush, tree and hill, but, determined and passionate, kept going.
It seamed like miles he had been running, when, heaving and weary, he saw the pole catch briefly on some weeds and rock. Seizing the opportunity, he pounced from the high ground upon the snagged pole and tumbling current, just as the water tore it loose. Though, with a wet and choked effort, he scrambled forward in the sloshing current and fastened his hands about its cork handle triumphantly. The water suddenly dropped into a deeper and faster rift that washed him over and under the choppy spray, but still he held on, his hat flapping viciously over his shoulder, hanging on by the strangling chin strap wound about his neck.
The white and green billows tossed him from back to belly, over the moss and through the reeds, till he came crashing through the waterlilies, sending frogs croaking left and right, then, with tantamount effect, sent him careening off a muddy shallow and into the air, flipping right into the glassy surface of a pond, which shattered, slapping rings and ripples and frothy waves to and fro throughout.
Slowly he rose to his feet, wiping mud from his eyes and cast a frustrated glance at his broken pole, snapped at the handle, still clutched in his fist. Dragging himself to the sandy shore, he fell on his face and drifted into a deep tired sleep.

He awoke to a pleasant humming some hours later.
The dragonflies seemed to dance with the sunflowers to its peaceful prose and the meadow took on a tranquil silence. He rose weary and beaten to his knees and looked to the sun.
Orange, pink, violet and golden pastel painted the sky with heavenly hue, even the clouds, frayed and warm, were fringed in a soft green glow, the sun itself a fiery red polka-dot, slowly sinking behind the blue silhouette of the mountains. Mr. Sparks again heard the humming and, rising to his feet, looked down the glimmering shore.
The petite figure of a woman meandered across the golden sands, a string of fish at her hip and a rod over her shoulder. Mr. Sparks quickly smoothed his hair and brushed his trousers, then, remembering his manners, re-strapped his loose suspender and lowered his humble green eyes.
Her hair fell wavy down her shoulders, grey and well kept, the sleeves of her purple blouse were pushed to her elbows and her eyes shown with a certain luster, like polished pebbled touched with a blue frost. There were five fish at her side, one especially big, a hook hanging from his gaping blue lips.
Mr. Sparks shuffled his feet and looked up at her.
"I see you caught Big George..."
She smiled with a twinkle in her eye that he recognized having felt in his own, and he knew, summer was on the horizon.


'that one guy'

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Suggestion for a WR Journal tribute to Idaho war veterans

The dozens of articles that Wood River Journal reporters have written about our armed service veterans over the past few years are greatly impressive. Last summer, I remember thinking, while reading key feature stories by Kelly Jackson and Karen Bossick what a grand thing it would be for our community, if the newspaper did a little something more with these in-depth articles.

Since the stories have already been written, the Journal could go back at limited expense and simply cobble together a magazine or small book about our veterans to present to each of the regional history department heads of our local libraries. Other places where such a book would be a good fit are the coffee tables of our senior center, local armory, American Legion, Blaine Manor, St. Lukes, the Sun Valley Lodge, Sun Valley Adaptive Sports vans, etc. Imagine how far those feelings of good will could go, if a Journal representative presented a copy of this book as a gift, during next years ceremonious ribbon-cutting at the new Senior Center.

Another way the Journal could keep our Veterans vast experiences alive is a link to these stories within a special button on their website. Again, as the stories are already written, and most already online within the database, it doesn’t seem that such a tribute would take more than several hours to organize and then link to as a Veteran’s feature archive.

If my estimate is off and the Journal management deems such a project to be too costly, my father –who is an American Legion Commander (back east) –reminds us that many American Legions and other veteran groups usually have strong-willed volunteers available to freely contribute and work in conjunction with local newspapers on such meaningful tasks.

Perhaps the time is too tight right now to get something like this running by this Memorial Day; however, if the Journal were to make an announcement for an intention for a soon enhanced tribute, this would please many veterans. Maybe the staff could plan to hand out copies of this special limited edition magazine to interested readers, during Hailey’s Fourth of July parade this summer.

I believe that such powerful articles deserve to be reprinted and featured in several prominent valley locations as respectful reminders to those, who have patriotically served our great country.

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