Category Archives: LIterature

Exciting New Jim Henson Comic Release from Chan Chau

Chan Chau

Emmy Award-winning animator, Eisner Award-winning cartoonist, and graphic novelist Chan Chau, has a new book launching on May 8th in the second in a four-issue comic book series based on the Emmy Award-winning classic television show, Jim Henson’s The Storyteller

Matthew Levine, Editor, BOOM! Studios, observes, “Chan Chau’s lovely storytelling and brilliant art come together in SIRENS #2 to tell a tale about how the world came to be.” 

Announcing the Series #2 comic, BOOM! Studios goes on to say that Chan’s story “introduces readers to the goddess Nuwa, a shapeshifting snake deity who traveled the world at its creation when the earth and trees and air were perfect and brand new. While Nuwa had the whole world at her disposal, able to scale mountains and visit oceans whenever she pleased, she found herself overtaken by loneliness. And so began the creation of animals and people, and the start of human life and love.” 

“This is both incredibly exciting and terrifying experiencing this comic dropping on May 8th, says Chan. “Thanks to my editor Cameron Chittock for holding my hand throughout the process and the Jim Henson company for being such incredible cheerleaders.”

Take a sneak peak at Chan’s work by hopping to the BOOM! Studios announcement yourself. Their page can also direct you to a comic store near you where you can get the printed comic. You can get the Ebook from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

You can see Chan in person at comic cons across North America, and you can visit ChanChauArt.com explore a really cool store to boot.

We have much adventure and excitement to look forward to, ourselves, in this powerhouse, multitalented creative whirlwind of an artist, believe me.

Celebrating the reluctant warrior

Author James Robert Kane

James Robert Kane was three years ahead of me in school, but up until December 1968, he and I were of the same mindset when it came to the war in Vietnam. We were against it. 

He had just graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. I was in the middle of my freshman year at Piper College in Pennsylvania, majoring in English and minoring in art. My career path was set for the clergy. 

At roughly the same time period in the late 1960s, James and I reached the same moment of truth. My Selective Service card had me classified 1Y, which meant if I left school for any reason, I could be drafted, but would not have to fight.  I expressed my displeasure with the war singing protest songs by Dylan, Donovan, Tom Paxton, and Phil Ochs in coffeehouses in the northeast. I still contemplated a run to Canada should things get testy. It became a moot point when I was downgraded/upgraded, depending on your perspective, to a 4F classification. 

James, even though he was married and had a daughter, received a draft notice with a classification of 1A. He seriously considered a run to Canada as well, but in the end opted to serve in deference to his dad’s service in WWII. 

On my end, I continued to oppose the war, but felt deep compassion for all who were serving. In 1970, my cousin Victor, who returned from Nam after a stint as a proud Marine, tried to drown his nightmares in booze, weed, and sticking his head between two stereo speakers blaring “In A Gadda Da Vida” at full bore as he attempted to slit his wrists at my 21st birthday party. It was a cry for help. “Shell Shock” was the term given it back then. Only recently have we begun to understand the ramifications of—and how to begin to deal with—PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Being caught in a horrendously unpopular international crossfire was bad enough. But James faced a violent inner war raging between the truth in his heart vs. truth foisted on him by the powers-that-be. His struggle haunted him for years until he discovered a way to free himself. Though he handled the nightmarish confusion differently from my cousin Victor, the intensity was the same. James’ secret weapon in the PTSD battlefield was the pen.

The crux of James’ nightmares was “a sort of three-legged stool thing,” he says. “One leg of the stool was being caught in a firefight where I was fired upon by the enemy as I climbed over the trunk of a huge tree blocking my path. Diving forward to avoid getting hit, I landed on my head and blacked out. 

“The other two legs were the fear from constantly being stalked by the enemy and guilt over what we did there. The terror of that night on a listening post in the dark, being stalked by the Vietcong, certainly was manifested in many of my nightmares. So was the hamlet firefight after being knocked unconscious. Flashbacks about that incident left me wondering whether it was just another firefight or, perhaps, murder.

“More powerful than the battle experiences,” he continues, “I discovered what ate at me for 20 years afterward was the recognition that allowing myself to fight in that war was the greatest moral failure of my life. I did not have the courage to stand up and say Hell no, I won’t go. Lots of factors figured into that decision, but at the heart of it was that I didn’t want anyone, particularly other members of my extended family who served in WWII, to think I was a coward.

“The irony of that is this. One of my great uncles, a man I have admired since childhood, and himself a WWII Pacific Campaign veteran, read No Escape and told me, ‘I would have championed your decision if you’d had chosen to not serve.’

“So the firefight, the listening post and guilt. One hell of a powerful combination that took more than thirty years to work through.” And work through them he did. James confronted his nightmares by capturing them in his first novel, No Escape—Long Journey Back from Nam now available through Amazon or the Chanhassen Library.

“Telling a story over and over, it will loosen its hold on you,” James said in the Veterans Day issue of the Chaska HeraldNo Escape is a poignant account of how protagonist Jim Nelson endured torture and met up with dead comrades on the other side of the veil separating us from life and the afterlife. After reading it I came away with a much deeper understanding and appreciation of postwar issues facing veterans.

PTSD is a struggle haunting and threatening the very lives of thousands of Vets still, and not just from Vietnam. James wants to continue helping Vets find their way to healing through writing, and he recommends Writing War: A Guide to Telling Your Story. “I would like to encourage other veterans—it works,” he says. 

James has continued to write, adding two new books to his list. You can check them out here.

Note: Space Larrabee is the main character in D. E. Munson’s Chronicles of Space and Thyme series of novels. Learn more about the reason for the existence of this blog here and author D. E. Munson here.

April Munson’s New Book!

christmas-eve-magic-cover

Just in time for the holiday, but something to remember all year long.

april-photo_

What is the magic of the season?

When April was asked this question, she said, “This very special holiday has delighted me every year for as long as I can remember. It is a time where happiness and generosity rule. I feel it’s more important than ever to remember the true spirit of the season where we have the opportunity to honor and reflect the timeless child within each of us.”

This is the second children’s book April has written and illustrated. Her illustrations always light up my heart and the hearts of others around the world. This beautiful poem/story reflects the joy and beauty within each of us, no matter who we are or where we come from.

As it’s proven already, it’s the perfect holiday read-aloud book for your kids or grandkids—destined, especially in our household, to become a Christmas Eve read-aloud tradition.

So what is the true magic of Christmas Eve? Is it the beautiful lights and ornaments? The festive songs and carols? The anticipation of what Santa will bring down the chimney and put under the tree? The secret, the answer, is what you’ll find in this book.

For more information

April’s Web site

 

The End of Seven Years in Suspenders

erik_chan_suspenders_crop

Erik Munson and Chan Chau. Erik designed the cover of D. E. Munson’s new novel, In Search of Space and Thyme

dem_100816_crop

The long-awaited sequel to D. E. Munson’s first novel, By the Time I Got to Woodstock: Or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis, has finally been released! It is the second book in the Chronicles of Space and Thyme series.

isot_091016

Titled In Search of Space and Thyme, this book is a tapestry of two interwoven love stories that unfurls into a compelling romp through time with Thyme and me. We’re tossed into a distant, mysterious past, then reemerge in the magical, mystical years of the 1960s and 70s. Our stories splinter in 1978 when the fiendish interloper, Atlantis Haden steals Thyme away to his underworld, like Hades of myth.

The fabric of our perfect world being rent, I’m flummoxed by the questions, What did I do to make her go? and Can I fix it? and most importantly, If I can fix it, will Thyme want to return? The search is on, a new quest begun. And it’s not only a quest for meaning and lost love. It reaches into the heart of everything. It is an essential, spiritual quest.

The Book Launch

The author kicked off the first event in his book launch tour at the Cup of Carver Coffee Shop on Saturday, Oct. 8. He read an excerpt from Thyme’s narrative where she’s trying to explain to me why we needed to go our separate ways.

dem_carver_100916_crop2

He then sang a song of my ranting at the opening of Chapter One of the new book. Looking back on it, I had a lot to learn. Maybe that’s why it took him seven years to finally finish this sequel. Hey, but it’s not my fault it took him so long to write the darn thing. I don’t know, maybe it is. But things have to happen in their own time, right? Anyway, if it’s true that anything good is worth waiting for, here’s the test.

The Apology

Munson apologizes, “I feel awful about keeping everyone in suspenders so long. When By the Time I Got to Woodstock was published on the 40th anniversary of the famed Woodstock Music & Art Fair, I ended it in a cliffhanger, fully intending to follow immediately with the sequel.

“Four years later I finished writing the manuscript, dubbing it A Brief History of the End of the World. It was slated by a publisher to be an eBook-only release. Then I had the opportunity to enter it in two contests. A number of you read the whole book, some read part of it. And to those of you who had insights and suggestions, I can’t thank you enough. I learned a great deal and incorporated many of the changes, including two title changes. I am now thrilled with the result. Especially since our son Erik, acclaimed graphic novelist, did the cover illustration and worked with me on the redesign.

“This story needs to be told, especially today,” he continues. “Too much has been trivialized about the awakening that took place in the 60s and 70s. The spiritual seeds planted in these times have blossomed into a consciousness we take mostly for granted today and often joke about. We can’t afford to lose perspective and forget.

“Though most of the characters are fictional, some are historical. The stories are based on what I experienced. I hope to help some of the essential truth of the times survive. We live in a time of magic realism, and Magical Realism has become my genre of choice.”

btt_091016

Now the whole Chronicles of Space and Thyme series has taken on a new look. Erik Munson did the illustration and helped redesign the first book as well. It’s titled By the Time I Got There: or Space Meets Thyme, and this revision is available as an eBook right now. It’s kinda cool how each chapter opens with Erik’s illustration of little me on my trusty Rollfast 10-speed looping around the inside circumference of the circle like Evel Knievel or an ADHD hamster.

Once the current print version of the first book has sold out, it’ll be reprinted in its new format.

Keep your eyes open because in the coming few weeks you’ll be able to get the eBook for FREE. The next stop on D. E. Munson’s tour will be The Twin Cities Book Festival at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul.

twin cities book festival

 

The Future

As more events are added to the book tour venue, I’ll be announcing them.  Again, thanks to so many of you for your phenomenal patience and support during this grueling birthing process. Both Munson and I’ll do our best to make it worth your kind attention.

So, until next time, enjoy your journey. Be spiritual, be happy, and keep reading!

Space.

More about Space Larrabee: I was made manifest in a book called By the Time I Got to Woodstock—or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis. I am Space Larrabee, and in Lunch on the Moon I share tasty delicacies I’ve found in the experiential arts. Join me every week or so and share your experiences, too!

Find out more about the author at demunson.com

 

 

Anthology & Cleopatra

I’m sorry, this is an unabashed bait and switch. I couldn’t help myself.

First impression would be that this post is perhaps an historical collection of writings exploring ancient Egypt. Do not be deceived.

This, in reality, is an announcement about the publication of the new anthology from the Three Rivers Writers called Where Rivers Converge. It’s also an opportunity for me to give a shout out to the Lumineers for their incredible new album Cleopatra.

wrc_cover

Where Rivers Converge is a dazzling collection of the works of two dozen Minnesota writers and poets. Genres range from creative nonfiction to historical fiction and science fiction. Stories like Jim Kane’s “Pipestone,” Dan O’Brien’s “Sacred  Dance,” Dale A. Swanson’s “The Greatest Man I Ever Knew,” Mona Gstafson Affinito’s “Alone in the North Carolina Woods—1840,” and D. E. Munson’s “Avuncularities” explore the magic of the past. S. Collin Ellsworth’s “Coward,” Ann Jackson’s “Contacts,” Brian Busch’s “Cry Uncle,” Virginia Sievers’s “Waiting,” and Wen Lu’s “A Knife in the Rice Paddies” dig for deeper truths in everyday life. As does the sometimes quirky, always stunning poetry of Angela Hunt, Becky Liestman, B. D. Smith, Sue Kunitz, and others. Heidi Skarie’s “Interrupted Honeymoon” tosses you into an as-yet unimagined future.

The whole collection is insightful and great fun. I get to make an appearance in “Avuncularites,” which is an excerpt from D. E. Munson’s new novel In Search of Space and Thyme. Due out by October 15, in time for the Twin Cities Book Festival at the Minnesota State Fairgounds in St. Paul. Stay tuned for more on this!

Several of the Three Rivers Writers was launched at the Waconia Library on September 10th and at Shepherd of the Hill Church,  Chaska, MN last weekend. Future readings are planned for upcoming months. Watch for postings.

 

I became aware of the Lumineers one night when they appeared at the end of Colbert last spring performing Ophelia. They stuck.

the-lumineers-cleopatra-album

Cleopatra is has already become one of those classic recordings that you suddenly either find spinning in your mind and moving your lips or strikes you with a sudden urge to listen to it again. I went out to Mill City Sound in Hopkins and bought the vinyl. I could go on, but see for yourself. Here’s a sample.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN5s9N_pTUs

Sorry to have been away for so long. Been meaning to write, but I’ve been in the throes of the redo of the By the Time book and sequel. Have to go now, but I’ve got some big fun announcements coming up soon soon.

More on Space Larrabee:

By the Time I Got There

DEMunson.com

@demunson1

 

THANKS FOR THE LOVE

ISOT FC_101715

Space generously gave me the floor for this posting so I could shout out to each of you for your love and support during the Kindle Scout campaign. By now, those of you who nominated In Search of Time for publication with Kindle Press have received their little thank you note.

“No” is a word oft spoken in the publishing world, and if the author can make the word a friend, the writing life can become a little more joyful.

I’d like to say I had no expectations for the outcome of this experience, so I can surely claim that it far surpassed my expectations. Your support fills me with the inspiration to bring closure to this six year waiting game I had to put us through and have the book published anyway.

Please keep in touch. I’ll soon be adapting “Lunch on the Moon” to a newsletter to  which you can subscribe and which will continue to include Space’s insights, reviews, and perspectives on the arts, diners, life, the universe, and everything. It will also include my upcoming book events and performances in the future.

This has been one of the busiest months I’ve ever experienced! It started near the end of October when I submitted In Search of Time to Kindle Press to consider for publication. On October 23 April and I participated in a reading at the Chaska Library. On October 31 there was a reading at Dunn Bros in Chaska, MN. On November 7 I read “Taliaferro’s Tears” at the Chaska Library. On November 12 I read my submission to a Writers’ Collective anthology, soon to be released. On November 21-22 April, Heidi Skarie, and I had a booth at the Gale Woods Farms “9 Friends” Art Show. In the background of all of this, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for my fifth novel. And suddenly, here it is, Thanksgiving.

Here’s a bit more detail on this exciting time:

Chaska Library Reading, October 23, 2015

51b6g5+TaeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Sharon Chmielarz, Jane Kenyon Award-winning poet, was the featured guest for the evening. This was special for me, because I’d known Jane Kenyon back in her early days in New Hampshire. She’d hired me to design her first book of poetry, From Room to Room. Chmielarz read from several of her books. Her newest release, The Widow’s House, is ravishingly frank. A partial stanza that struck me deeply was:

It’s difficult, improvising

a dialogue.—The widow

doesn’t want pity, Listener,

you, too, have escaped

into a room to pretend

someone is there,

Then the mic was opened to other local poets in the audience, April and I among them. April’s, yet unpublished, was a narrative of a little boy playing with trucks on a beach. It has a surprise ending. I read a couple of poems I’d submitted to the “Carver County: Its Buildings, People, Landscapes and History” showcase. More on this shortly.

Chaska Dunn Bros Reading, October 31, 2015

These readings are usually small gatherings, but always potent. Dan O’Brien is the usual MC. Other members of the Authors’ Collective shared as well. Poets B. D. Smith and Angela Hunt frequently read, as well as authors Jim Kane, Sarah Collins, and I.

Chaska Library Reading, November 7, 2015

Twenty poets and twenty artists participated in the “Carver County: Its Buildings, People, Landscapes and History” showcase. Poets throughout the area were invited to submit up to three poems, then participating artists were welcomed to choose a poem that they could connect with and create a piece of art to illustrate it.

CL_DEM_11715IMG_0993

I selected some prose from Room with No Walls, one of my upcoming books, and reworked it into a poem. I called it “Taliaferro’s Tears,” because it depicted the last meeting of the good-hearted Fort Snelling Indian Agent from 1819 to 1840, Lawrence Taliaferro, and several Dakota chiefs before the Dakota Wars. A very talented local artist, Crystal Murillo, selected my poem and illustrated it with a stunning, heart wrenching painting of Dakota sorrowful faces. They displayed the painting onscreen as Crystal told the story of her creation, and I read the poem. It was a moving experience even for me as I read. We were awarded Best in Show: History. I’ll be featuring this in an upcoming blog post as soon as I get a good image and bio from Crystal.

Chanhassen Library Anthology Reading, November 19, 2015

CL_Angela_IMG_1014

Angela Hunt

Several local authors and poets who are included in an anthology of the Chanhassen Library Authors’ Collective read from their writings in the Chanhassen Library Café. Angela Hunt, Laurel Means, S. Collin Ellsworth, B. D. Smith, Heidi Skarie, and I were among them. Heidi and I captured a couple of the readers in action, which I’ll include here. Heidi included a honeymoon adventure experienced by two of the main characters in her latest novel, Star Rider. I read from “Avuncularities,” Chapter 7 in In Search of Time, which capture some of Space Larrabee’s musings about being at the pulpit.

Laurel_51k5D4y8AeL._AA160_ - Copy

The Long Journey Home by Laurel Means

41S6g8WQBjL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Answered by S. Collin Ellsworth

CL_Becky_IMG_1014

Becky Liestman, Poet

CL_Smith_IMG_1014    51v1Y-TGkqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

B. D. Smith, The Art of Confusion

  CL_Kane_IMG_1014Jim Kane_51SHVJ01vfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Jim Kane

CL_Heidi_12244343_10206944834612598_1352234270211134519_o

Heidi Skarie

51e0hufdKAL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_   51dZkoUebrL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

Star Rider and Red Willow’s Quest by Heidi Skarie

ChanLib_111915_12273553_10206944835572622_3123592847819953984_o

D. E. Munson

Gale Woods Farm “9 Friends” Art Show, November 21-22, 2015

12235100_10206944830092485_1519399977164005819_n

All together, twenty-two artists and three authors displayed their wares at this annual art show in a barn. It was quaint, a little classy, and a thoroughly fun experience. The creations ranged from birdhouses to Lois Murphy’s photography, to earthy pottery, bird head ceramics, paper cuttings, metal sculpture, hats, pocketbooks, and of course—books.

Heidi Skarie and I shared space. Award-winning author, Connie Claire Szarke had her own area where she offered all of her books, featuring her latest, A Stone for Amer.  Author Laurel Means called this book’s predecessor, Delicate Armor, “. . . a moving, lovingly depicted account of growing up amidst the lakes, woods, and cornfields of middle-America.”

41TEcfRMjdL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

A Stone for Amer by Connie Claire Szarke

April’s children’s book, Old Nell and her Mock Froggie Pie outsold us all!

Gale_April_IMG_1069    Gale_Nell_51XxadDqr9L._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_

April Munson, Old Nell and Her Mock Froggie Pie outsold us all!

It was a fun day of making friends and hearing stories. Heidi offered her books, Red Willow’s Quest and Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge. She also offered a special holiday package of the two books plus a booklover’s card with a Christmas tree made of a stack of books. It was created by her daughter.

12273553_10206967800906741_3937142452155766796_o

Heidi Skarie at her booth

BTT_51AAVcx806L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

By the Time I Got to Woodstock (2nd Edition) by D. E. Munson

My table unveiled the new second edition of By the Time I Got to Woodstock: or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis (thanks to all of you who bought the first edition—they’re collector’s items now :}). I also put up a poster showing the cover on In Search of Time along with booklets announcing the last day of its appearance on Kindle Scout. Both were really well received. A special thanks to Lois for inviting us to be a part of this special event.

Gale_DEM_12240300_10206967801946767_6386679958446535899_o

And thanks for the floor, Space.

That’s it for me for now. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday everyone!

Doug.   (aka D. E. Munson)

We Interrupt This Blog for an Important Message!

Exciting News . . .
Kindle Press Considers Sequel for Publication!

ISOT FC_101715

Click the cover to see if you’d like to nominate this book for publication!

The Story of In Search of Time

“I feel awful about keeping everyone in suspenders so long,” says the author. “When By the Time I Got to Woodstock was published on the 40th anniversary of the famed Woodstock Festival, I ended it in a cliffhanger, fully intending to follow soon with the sequel. Four years later I finished writing the manuscript, dubbing it A Brief History of the End of the World. A number of you read the whole book, some, part of it. And to those of you who had insights and suggestions, I can’t thank you enough. I learned a great deal, and incorporated many of the changes, including a title change, and I’m humbled, yet thrilled with the result!

“This story needs to be told, especially today. Too much has been trivialized about the awakening that took place in the 60s and 70s. The spiritual seeds planted in these times have blossomed into a consciousness we take mostly for granted today. We can’t afford to forget. Though most of the characters are fictional, some are historical. The stories are based on what I experienced. I hope to help some of the essential truth of the times survive.”

In Search of Time is a tapestry of two interwoven love stories that unfurls into a compelling romp through time with Thyme and  me. We reach into a distant, mysterious past, and are hurled ahead into the magical, mystical years of the 1960s and 70s. Our stories splinter in 1978 when along comes Atlantis Haden who, like Hades of myth, steals Thyme away to his underworld. The fabric of our perfect world is rent. I’m faced with the questions, What did I do to allow her to go? and Is it possible for me to fix it? and most importantly, If I can fix it, will that compel Thyme to return? The search is on, a new quest begins! And it’s not just a quest for meaning and lost love. It reaches into the heart of everything. It is a spiritual quest.

Take a Chance on a Free Book

Okay, here’s the deal. Starting Friday, October 23, and for the subsequent 30 days, you can preview In Search of Time. Just click on the cover above, and if you like what you experience, you can nominate the book to be published with Kindle Press. A book deal for digital and audio rights will be offered.

Once the book is published, there’s something in it for you too! You receive a free copy of the E-book.

Again, thanks to so many of you for your phenomenal patience and support during this grueling birthing process. I’ll do my best to make it worth your kind attention.

 

More about Space Larrabee: I was made manifest in a book calledBy the Time I Got to Woodstock—or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis. I am Space Larrabee, and in Lunch on the Moon I share tasty delicacies I’ve found in the experiential arts. Join me every week or so and share your experiences, too!

 

 

Woodstock 46th Anniversary. It Was Spiritual, Man!

Woodstock 3

This year marks the 46th anniversary of the famed Woodstock music festival at Yazgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. Nearly half a million bodies were in attendance that weekend. I and millions more were there in spirit. This is apropos, because strange as it sounds, this was a pivotal spiritual event in the lives of people around the world. I’d fully intended to attend since Bethel was just a few hours away, but it just wasn’t in the cards . . . until five years later. In the meantime I met Thyme, and by the time we got to Woodstock we were ready for it.

In honor of our 41st anniversary of Woodstock, here’s a peek at what happened when Thyme and I finally got there. It appears as chapters thirty-five and thirty-six in the novel By the Time I Got to Woodstock: or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis by D. E. Munson.

Woodstock at Last   The dirt road to the campground was steep, rocky, and rutted. It was in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, which loomed above us. It was pitch black and pouring rain by the time we arrived at the campground. We checked in at the main building, which was also the kitchen. We had no idea how to find or even to see our site.

“Welcome.” A smiling, dark-haired woman in sweater and jeans approached us. “I’m Katherine. I don’t think we should send you out in this tonight. Why don’t you just spend the night in the loft. It’ll be much drier that way. You can find your site and set up tomorrow. Did you have a good trip? I bet you’re exhausted.”

We introduced ourselves and thanked our welcoming host. Following her advice, we dashed out into the rain again and grabbed our gear. We set ourselves up in a corner of the loft and crashed. A woodchuck outside the building mumbled and scratched. Trying to get out of the rain, no doubt. These were the last sounds we heard as we drifted off to sleep.

Thyme and I awoke next morning to clattering in the kitchen. On our return from dreamland, we discovered we were near the original intended location of the famed festival. It was an hour away from Yazgur’s Farm in Bethel.  The air—and everything we touched—was damp. Looking outside, we could see a mist still enshrouding the clearing in the trees. People started setting up tables, folding chairs, and a huge clear plastic dining fly.

We rolled up our bags, stowed our gear in the car, then Thyme found Katherine and asked, “Can we help with breakfast? We’re so grateful to you for letting us sleep in here last night.”

“Oh, sure,” Katherine replied, “there’s plenty to do. We’re still working on the duty roster. According to Sufi doctrine, for want of a better word, there’s a clear delineation between male and female roles in the chores at the camp.” She turned to me. “You can help with the eggs for the time being. But this will be the last time you do kitchen work here. This, as well as watching the children, will be the responsibility of the women.” I wasn’t too heartbroken.

After a tasty camp breakfast of oatmeal with nuts, scrambled eggs, and orange juice, Thyme and I set out to find our site. We met someone along the way who said they had wooden pallets available. We could use them as platforms to keep tents high and dry. I found the stash, got two of them, and set us up nice as can be.

That afternoon they called all the guys together to erect a huge geodesic dome. We bolted two-by-fours together at each end. In teams, we created large pentagons, triangle by triangle, on the 1600-square-foot wooden platform. We erected scaffolding to handle the height. Within a few hours, we had a twenty-foot-high dome to keep us dry as we danced when it rained outside. Two deja vu-like thoughts passed through my mind at the time, too. I’d admired Michael at the UNH commune for his ability to help build a geodesic dome, then, there I was, able to do the same. Also, as I’d walked the trails to the platform that morning, I noticed there were yurts! In fact, I’m quite sure Pir Vilayat Khan stayed in one of them. Cool.

 

Woodstock 5

Dancing with the Sufis   We discovered, once we’d assembled the dome, that it was not centered on the platform. Teamwork, again was the answer. We all spaced ourselves out, grabbing hold of the two-by-fours forming the great circular base of the dome.  On cue, we lifted then repositioned it where it belonged. Two things happened during the procedure. First, it blew me away that together we could raise and move that gargantuan structure. Second, while we still held the dome suspended, across from me in the circle, I saw Atlantis . . . and he saw me.   I was so stunned, I didn’t know what to think.

We all cheered once we set it down, then we bolted it to the platform. I shot him the peace sign. He smiled and waved back. Neither of us approached each other. I let it go with a sense of relief. That evening, I finally got to be with Thyme again after she’d finished kitchen duty. We relished our well-earned rice and beans, salad, and watermelon. Vegetables never tasted so good. Pir Vilayat welcomed us that evening, then we broke into dance and song. Music, dance, and body movement are integral to the Sufis in helping to make a connection with divine spirit. It was a beautiful experience.

Next morning, and every morning thereafter for the rest of week, rain or shine, we rose at first light to do yoga. We started the hour with the greeting-the-sun asana. This we followed with a mixture of other asanas and eye exercises. The instructor said he used to wear glasses, but after practicing the eye exercises, he wore them no more.  After breakfast, the men gathered at the dome for work detail. Ahmed, a bearded Sufi who looked a couple years older than me, spoke to the assembled. “I need a volunteer who is not afraid of heights.” My hand shot up without a thought.  We reassembled scaffolding in the center of the dome, from the platform, rising to the apex. Ahmed walked to the scaffold and started climbing.

“Follow me,” he instructed. I followed. I’d noticed a little old man who’d been hanging around, staying in a little old trailer. I could see him far below us as Ahmed and I set to work. “The rain last night rotted the joint in the crown of the dome,” he explained. “We need to replace these six two-by-fours, bolt them back together, and cover them so this doesn’t happen again.”

We each used a wrench and screwdriver to undo the bolts on the ruined lumber. I then held each new replacement board in position for Ahmed to bolt and fasten. As we sat there working, I looked down below, “Who is that old guy who’s been hanging out in the trailer down there?” I asked.  From the look on Ahmed’s face, I knew I’d goofed up.

“That’s my dad,” he said. Through the embarrassment I learned a lesson about judging others that I’d never forget. Ahmed was gracious and didn’t hold it against me. I’m sure my profuse apologies didn’t hurt.  At lunchtime, they’d announced that showers were available. There were specific hours for male-only and female-only showers. And this surprised the heck out of me—there were also coed hours, should anyone so choose.

“Hey,” I said, “If we go during coed hours, we can shower together.” Thyme smiled, seeing right through me.

“Okay, we can go then.” And so we did, and it was fun. There were a couple other pretty girls in the shower, too, but of course I didn’t peek.  Then, while we were toweling off, Thyme said with a wry smile, “I didn’t know you needed to wear your glasses in the shower.”

We left, and as we descended on the trail back to the main encampment, Atlantis approached us. He wore a black T-shirt with an inverted silver pentangle on the chest, black jeans. Black silk cape and hair flowing behind him, he smiled through his signature pointy Vandyke beard. He greeted me like an old friend. I could feel Saturn rising. I didn’t trust it, but I tried to be as gracious as I could. He entranced Thyme. I could tell.

“Hello Space,” he said, giving me a quick, slick New Age man hug. “And who have we here?”

I grimaced and forced a smile. “Atlantis, this is Thyme.”

“Powerful magic, Thyme,” he said. “You look familiar. Haven’t we met somewhere before.” Then he kissed her hand.

Damn! I muttered deep inside, Why did he have to go and do that?


 

What was your Woodstock or Woodstock/Not Experience? 


 

More about Space and Thyme

More about Woodstock 69

Woodstock Blog

New Republic perspective of how Woodstock really was

Taking Woodstock movie (Director Ang Lee)

Woodstock movie (Director Michael Wadleigh)

The many faces of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H.

Sherlock Watson
Sherlocks (clockwise from upper left: Cumberbathch, Miller, Rathbone, Downey)

Sherlock Watson
Watsons (clockwise from upper left: Law, Freeman, Lu, Bruce)

Hands down, my father-in-law’s favorite author was Conan Doyle, as he called him. And his favorite character was tied between Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes.

Myself, I relied on Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce to give faces to the names. I confessed to Dad that I hadn’t actually read a complete Sherlock Holmes story.

Grampa S_intern_crop

Dr. John H. Sprague

Dad remedied that the day I met him. We’d just turned into the driveway when I admitted I was nervous. Thyme, my wife-to-be, his lovely daughter, reassured me, “You and my father have a lot in common, you know?”

“For real?”

“Yeah. You both smoke pipes and love history, love to read, love to talk—a lot. And you like Sherlock Holmes, right?”

“Yeah, of course . . .”

“That gives him a captive audience for hours. Besides, he loves All in the Family. And you won him over already by planning to ask him for my hand, and asking if you could call him Dad.”

Suddenly before us, my father-in-law-to-be stood in the doorway.

“Hello, Meathead!” he greeted me with enthusiasm.

Strange as it sounds, that was music to my ears. I dug this guy. He was no Archie. Every room in the house except for the bathrooms, I think, had a bookcase. The upstairs hallway as well as every alcove had a bookcase. This was the beginning of an oddball reunion of two kindred spirits. . . .

“How about a glass of Port?” Dad offered.

Thyme laughed, “We’re here less than an hour, and Dad’s got his captive audience for the grand tour of the house. It starts with the musty old Port, you know. Okay,” she said with a wave of the hand, “See you in an hour then.”

“This way, Meathead,” the good doctor poked as I followed him out of the kitchen and down the short hallway to his office. “Welcome to my lair,” he intoned. Dark-stained oak desks, a tall cabinet, bookcase, and two heavy wooden armchairs lined the walnut-paneled walls.

“Office hours are over, so let us pay homage at the altar of Bacchus,” he said. He stepped out of his office for a moment, then returned with two smallish fluted glasses and a decanter of port. He filled them and offered me one.

“Join me in a smoke?” asked Dad.

“Don’t mind if I do.”

We loaded, tamped, lit, puffed, tamped, swigged, and sat content.

“She’s a bright, talented girl, my little Persephone.”

“I noticed that, too,” I said.

“You know why, don’t you?”

“Why’s that?”

“I fed her stars.”

“I see,” said I. “Got any left?”

Dad laughed. “Get your own.”

“Okay, okay . . . I’ll do that. But she’s my star, now. I’ll bask in her radiance.”

“Ah, that’s right. I’ve heard you’re a poet. Who are your heroes? Shelley? Keats?”

“Yeah. And the Transcendentalists,” I said.

“Aha. Have you read Conan Doyle? He dabbled in the beyond a bit.”

“I like the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I confess, I’ve only read Hound of the Baskervilles. Part of it, anyway. But I’ve seen the entire movie . . .”

“Oh, now. You’ve got to read the stories to get their full worth. Come with me.”

Dad led me back into the house, through the kitchen, and upstairs to a bookcase around the corner from his writing desk. He lifted the wood-framed glass door fronting the top shelf of the case. He pulled out a red volume, opened it, and handed it to me, pointing to the title, Hound of the Baskervilles.

“Read,” he commanded.*

From that day forward, I devoured every story recorded by Dr. John H. Watson. Those memories of adventure and intrigue couched in brandy and pipe tobacco smoke as I churned through the pages in my easy chair.

The reason for Holmes and Watson’s neck-in-neck situation as Dad’s favorite character was that Dad admired Sherlock Holmes, but he identified with Dr. Watson. After all, my father-in-law, too, was a doctor named John with a middle name of H. Dad was Hibbard and Watson was Hamish.

Since Dad’s passing, years ago, I sometimes see his face in Bruce’s place. Much to my delight another face has arrived to fill that space.

In 2010, Dr. Watson appeared once again, but this time as Martin Freeman in latest BBC production. What a great choice. My favorite actor is one of my favorite people.  And a blogger to boot.

The face of Dr Watson has become multi-gender, and diverse. Lucy Lu has joined in on Elementary, CBS. And of course there’s Jude Law in the recent movie version.

Now at last to the face of Sherlock Holmes, whose very nature is elusive, eccentric, and disguised. Who could fill it better than the old Basil? I ask you.

The answers resound from hearts true and pure: Benedict Cumberbatch–No argument there. Robert Downey Junior–fall off your chair. Johnny Lee Miller? I’m asking myself. Then I just heard this morning it’ll be Gandalf!

*Excerpted from By the Time I Got to Woodstock or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis by D. E. Munson

More on Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce

More on Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

More on Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law

More on Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Lu

More on Gandalf AKA Ian McKellan AKA Mr. Holmes

More on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle