Saturday, December 29, 2007

Chirstmas 2007 in Ripon, WI, and Chicago, IL

Christmas in Ripon, Wisconsin, and a MLA visit to Chicago

Chicago Shines at Night

I hope that everyone enjoyed a noteworthy Christmas.

For the past fifteen years of my teaching career at Peru State College, I have in the "off season" (and whenever circumstances allow) lived with my wife (Linda) and children Cary and Leah) in Ripon, Wisconsin--birthplace of the Republican Party and home of Rippin' Good Cookies--and so share some pictures from the snow-filled Holiday Season at my "other" home.

Clemente House in Snow

Here in Ripon, WI, nature provided a very white holiday, which attracted the following visitor to my bird feeders, a Sharp-shinned Hawk (I wish the picture were better focused) that dropped in to dine on the hungry birds gathered in the yard at Bill's Avian Restaurant.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Inside the warm house, while we all engaged in frantic present opening, Indy slept in Santa's lap.

I posted a few pictures from Christmas and posted them.
As the pictures indicate, I took a special interest in the pants my daughter bought me in India--and my son and I gifted each other with near-identical GFY shirts featured on Townie News, the home of Paul "Fitzy" Fitzgerald whose, ah, colorful Boston Red Sox commentary (and, now, football antics for ESPN) we both love.

Indy Enjoys Christmas

The day after Christmas, my wife, Linda, and I headed to Chicago and the Modern Language Association's annual meeting. And while Linda interviewed candidates, I visited for the first time the Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium.

I found fascinating the special exhibitions on Maps and on Charles Darwin; and, of course, Sue--the world's most complete and largest t-rex--dominates the scene.


As I discovered, Sue's head is too large to balance on the skeleton pictured here; to see the massive skull, one must go upstairs, which is fine, because Sue's head sits near the entrance to the exhibition on Evolution that features impressive dinosaurs.

I posted some pictures from the museum.

The images include a picture of the extinct Passenger Pigeon and the popular Lions of Tsavo that inspired the film The Ghost and the Darkness.

Lions of Tsavo

See you all back at Peru State College for the beginning of 2008.

Linda and Bill (Caribbean Shirt and Indian Pants)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Storm December 10-11

Peru State College closed on 10 December, interrupting final examinations, because of the very nasty weather that threatened. As the following picture from my front yard indicates, a beautifully dangerous ice storm struck the area.

Kansas Street at 8:30 a.m.

The limbs in the street provide evidence of the general destruction the storm caused. A branch hit the side of my house at around five in the morning when I also discovered that the weather had caused a power outage in my area, which lasted over twelve hours. The City of Peru did an excellent job of clearing the streets. And the power company got electricity restored quickly.

Cleaning the Roads in Peru

Paul Pate, who heads the physical plant and facilities at the college, gave me a ride out to the campus. I appreciated the lift, for the falling branches in the area sounded like shotgun blasts and made walking the tree-lined streets a precarious enterprise.

I found the lights on at the college and enjoyed a pleasant cup of hot tea in my office.

Sign by Student Center

I walked around campus and took a number of photographs, including the following shot of a decorated light near the library:

Light in Front of the Library

The storm did considerable damage to the trees on campus. Walking around the campus, I ran into one of my students, Chelsea Merritt, who told me to check out the area around T. J. Majors, which houses Professional Studies and Education. As Chelsea indicated, fallen branches dotted the area.

Front of T. J. Majors

To appreciate the beauty of the storm and some of the damage caused, take a look at the images posted here on Flickr .

At home, fresh seed and water attracted considerable numbers of birds to my yard, including Goldfinch, Junco and Bluebirds.

Bluebird at Bird Bath

Goldfinch and Junco Negotiate the Icicles

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Madrigal Dinner and Madrigal Singers

Michael Parde as the Royal Jester

Madrigal Singers and Madrigal Dinner, 7 and 8 December
Peru State College and the Eagle Lodge

The Peru State College Madrigal Singers in a Light Moment

This year, the Madrigal Singers performed at two dinners. On Friday, the show and feast took place in the student cafeteria on campus; and on Saturday, the dinner, graciously sponsored by Tier One Bank, moved to the Eagle Lodge in Nebraska City for another evening of good fun and delicious food--not to mention excellent music.
I attended Friday night and took pictures; I had hoped to add more images and some video, but the icy weather Saturday night changed my mind. (I become a weather wimp!) This year's entertainment featured a new opera written by Dr. Tom Ediger and Emily Davidson, "A Fairy Tale Fiasco."

Dr. Tom Ediger, Director of the Madrigal Singers

"A Fairy Tale Fiasco" includes familiar tales with ironic and comedic twists, from "Cinderella" to "The Frog Prince." The following images come from the opera's wonderfully absurd version of "Little Red Riding Hood." This retelling of the familiar Fairy Tale features a dyspeptic Wolf whose problems with gas affect everyone in the fairy world and a Little Red Wigger from the Hood.

Megan Katz as Lil' R.R.H.

David Norris as B.B. Wolf

I took a greater number of pictures than usual and decided to create a separate slide show that includes still shots taken after the show for future publicity of the Madrigal Singers. In addition, this year's event also includes new costumes; unfortunately a fire last spring in Auburn destroyed the group's medieval ware.

this link to see images from the performance; and click here to see the posed shots that feature group pictures and the rich variety of costumes the singers showcased this year.

Enjoy the shows.

Tristam Bassinger and Jeremy Silver as Blendorella and Splendorella

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Peru State College Holiday Concert

The Department of Music of Peru State College Presents A Holiday Concert, Sunday, December 2, 2007

Concert Choir and Concert Band

This Sunday, December 2, in the Peru State College Theater the Choral and Band Holiday Concert took place, entertaining a large crowd with some excellent and colorful Christmas cheer that included the lighting of the Christmas Tuba.

Peru State College Concert Choir

The first part of the entertainment featured the Concert Choir and the Misty Blues Show Choir under the direction of Dr. Thomas Ediger, and Reva Benefiel played Piano for both groups.

Misty Blues Show Choir

After the choral groups, Dr. Patrick Fortney directed the Jazz Ensemble and the Concert Band.

Jazz Ensemble

For the final section of the holiday event, the Concert Choir joined the Concert Band for a couple numbers (See the first photograph)--and even Santa got into the act:

Tim Allen?

To see a slide show of the concert, just click and enjoy; and if you see a picture you like, the series is set up to allow you do download any pictures that appeal to you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

First Snow of the Season

Peru welcomes the first snow of the season.

Yesterday's weather forecast called for a "slight chance of snow" and for no accumulation. So today's fall and accumulation came rather as a surprise.

I awoke this morning to very cold temperatures and to this very forlorn and lonely looking Pine Siskin at the bird feeders outside my window. Just click on the picture to enlarge the little fellow with an ice-crusted beak. Unfortunately, the Pine Siskin succumbed to the freezing temperatures:

Just two days ago, this Monday, the mercury flirted with 75+. And the rose garden looked very much like this picture from when classes began in August. In fact, my friend Bill Snyder and I enjoyed a very comfortable cup of tea in a bench by the fountain.

This afternoon, the slight chance of snow and no accumulation created this picture, beautiful but not tea-drinking comfortable.

I created a series of images of the late-summer and fall colors on campus and mixed in the contrast the first snow of the season--on the day before Thanksgiving--provides. Feel free to download any images that appeal to you.

Even the campus Bobcat looks chilled.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mark Klemetsrud as Clarence Darrow

Mark Klemetsrud's Performance of
Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned

On Wednesday, November 14, in the Peru State College Theater, PSC's Phi Alpha Theta sponsored Mark Klemetsrud's dress rehearsal for the college community of Clarence Darrow by David W. Rintels, a play originally written for Henry Fonda.

An appreciative audience watched Klemetsrud become Darrow, perhaps best known as the attorney who challenged William Jennings Bryan in the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial." At this link, you can view and download images from Mark's impressive performance. And here you can learn more about Clarence Darrow.

The following two short videos from the performance provide samples of Klemetsrud's acting excellence. One excerpt comes from the scene in which Darrow defends a union organizer accused in Idaho of a murder he did not commit; and the other video provides a short scene from one of Darrow's other famous trials, in which he must defend himself against false charges of attempted bribery stemming from the famous McNamara case; both verdicts made the lawyer enemies and caused the loss of friends and clients.

Peru State Jazz Band Plays to 500+ in Falls City

The Peru State Jazz Band Returns to Falls City

The Peru State Jazz Band

On Tuesday, November 13, the Peru State Jazz Band returned to Falls City where on October I they helped commemorate, along with Nebraska's governor, the planned renovation of the Stevenson Hotel. You can see images and a short video here of that previous performance.

Appreciative Crowd at Falls City High School

The Band Performs for an Enthusiastic Audience

This time around, the Jazz Band provided the entertainment for the Fall City's Farmers' Appreciation Evening, a dinner that over 500 people attended. They also provided by far the Jazz Band's largest audience this year.

I posted images from of the band, from practice to performance; feel free to download any of the images. And then give the band a listen.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

International Conference on Caribbean Literature

The Ninth International Conference on Caribbean Literature

I attended this conference and presented a paper, "Earl Lovelace’s Blue and Bango, the Artistic Transformation of the Martyr and the Clown, Brief Conversion to Salt." This year's conference took place November 7-9 in beautiful St. Lucia in the West Indies.

I posted images from the trip; enjoy a slide show.

My wife, Linda, also attended and gave a paper, and we got to travel a bit around St. Lucia--22 miles long and 14 at its widest. The Piton Mountains near Soufriere (means "sulfer") attest to the island's volcanic past, and the mountains find their name on the nation's premier beer, Piton Lager Beer (The link takes you to a site for the beer and a song about St. Lucia and its beer).

The Pitons
This year's conference honored a native of St. Lucia and Castries, where the conference took place, Derek Walcott, who in 1992 earned a Nobel Prize for Literature; at this site, you can read his famous Nobel Lecture--or listen to the 48-minute recording of "The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory."

Derek Walcott Reads, November 7, 2007

And in the two video clips, you can listen to Walcott read a couple poems from his latest book of poetry, The Prodigal.

We did not get around a lot, but we did visit Pigeon Island near Gros Islet in the north; this area houses the ruins of a sixteenth century British fort. The French creole that most everyone speaks attests to the island's past, for the French or the British controlled the island six or seven times each.

Ruins at Pigeon Island

While at Pigeon Island, I also got a nice picture of a Little Blue Heron.

Blue Heron

And each night, you hear a poetry of sounds on the island, featuring the wonderful chorus of frogs--not seen easily but always heard. This particular recording features the frogs singing while rains fall and Caribbean waves crash in the distance. Just click in listen to the 44 seconds of "singing."

You will also find a video by a leading musician in St. Lucia--I will supply his name later--who offers a folk song in the nation island's French Creole.

Aaron Shirley Senior Exhibition

Aaron Shirley Senior Exhibition

This Sunday at 2:00, Aaron Shirley's Senior Exhibition opened in the Art Gallery in the Fine Arts Building. The show runs from November 12-December 4, giving everyone plenty of time to appreciate his work.

Take a look the images from the collection in the Art Gallery and of this afternoon's opening--and then drop by to enjoy the exhibition.

Oh, Aaron's uncle owns a wrecker shop, and Aaron has made imaginative use of what many might consider, well, junk. The following images from the show will strike you as wonderfully colorful; note the shapes, however, for Aaron puts car hoods to wonderfully artistic use:

Fall Band Concert at Peru State, November 11

Fall Band Concert at Peru State College, November 11

On Sunday afternoon at 3:00, the Concert Band and the Jazz Band put on an exciting show for an appreciative audience. I loaded for your enjoyment a series of images from the Concert Band and the Jazz Band.

Dr. Pat Fortney, Conductor of the Peru Bands

The Concert band performed first, and just scroll past the image below of the Concert Band and enjoy a video of one of their selections. After the video, you will find links to images from the concert and a video from the Jazz Band's performance.

The Peru State College Concert Band

As many of you know, the bands have stayed very busy all year long: the Jazz Band performed at Peru State College's 140th Birthday Celebration and in Falls City. The band marched at Homecoming and the Pep Band performs at home football games and many other events. So scroll down and give the Jazz Band's selection from Carlos Santana a listen.

Peru State College Jazz Band

Trombone Solo

Click on the link and listen to the performance.