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Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott September 2013 Volume 1, Issue 9


Alan Dean Foster goes toe to toe with the real McCoy Ty Fitzmorris falls head over heals for the outdoors

FIRST LOOK Inside YCPAC renovations

THE SHED PROJECT Discover A Room With A View

And much 2 more!

5enses In which:

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Sadira DeMarino

talks greetings, cards, and greeting cards with Prescott e-card entrepreneur Debanie Hael.

Jill Craig

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marvels at the sights and sounds of changings seasons, flora, and fauna.

Ruby Jackson

Eric Moore

Helen Stephenson

Ty Fitzmorris

lauds and laments cornhole, rehab, recycling, county fairs, cinema, and an art exhibit.

extends her summer vacation with a new film and wraps up the fourth annual Prescott Film Festival.

Matt Dean

chronicles the story of how amateur plane spotters uncovered a massive government conspiracy.

Mike Vax

makes chin music about the ins, outs, and out-of-bounds of professional musicianship.

Jimmy Polinori

spurns his secret identity and reveals to the world that he is, in fact, the Crêpe Crusader.

17 18 22 24 25 26

Find out what’s going on in Greater Prescott

Rusty gates & falling leaves

The science of decay

stockpiles end-of-summer flowers and bugs as other mammals meet their mates.

James Dungeon

doffs his beret, dons a hard hat, and assesses renovations at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center.

Ty Fitzmorris

COVER: “The Shed Project.” Photo by Galen Trezise. Illustration by Jimmy Polinori.

looks skyward and sees waning rains and a rare triple conjunction of the Moon, Saturn, and Venus.

Paolo Chlebecek

spins your computer’s hard drive right round, baby, right round, like a record, baby.

Gene Twaronite

Jacques Laliberté

Jacques Laliberté

talks space and place with Prescott artists Galen Trezise, Dewey Nelson, Alexa Simpson, and Jordan Palmer.


Left brain/Right brain

gets an eyeful of migratory birds going, coming, and coming and going.

Alan Dean Foster

takes the Pepsi Challenge and decides immaculate replicas have as much artistic value as originals.

September 2013 • Volume 1, Issue 9

Copyright © 2013 5enses Inc. unless otherwise noted. Publisher & Editor: Nicholas DeMarino Creative Director: Jimmy Polinori Copy Editor: Susan Smart Read a new 5enses the first Friday of every month. Visit 5ensesMag.Com, Facebook, & Twitter for more. Contact us at 5ensesMag@Gmail.Com & 928-613-2076.

retells a retelling of a twice-told tale of punishment, struggle, and a big rock, naturally.

THIS PAGE: “Big Eagle.” Painting by Dewey Nelson.

assembles the typography, spectrum, and nature of firefighter monuments in tribute to the Prescott 19.


By Sadira DeMarino


“Get Well.” “Happy Birth-

day.” “Thinking of You.” These, and many other expressions, are how we reach out to those we care about no matter how close or far apart we live. You no doubt remember when we all looked forward to waiting for the mailman and checked our mail boxes to see what they held. With the invention of the Internet, email, and social networking websites, you could argue that handwritten letters

aA aA

The electric company

Debanie Hael poses in one of the scenic locations featured in her ecards. Courtesy photo.

Outside the Frame

and cards have taken a backseat. But what if we could combine thoughtful correspondence and the Internet? And what if a digital card could transport you somewhere else? “I think about people sitting in offices that haven’t seen a tree or ventured out in nature in a long time,” says Prescott artist Debanie Hael. And that’s the jumping off point for her new ecard business, eCard Art, which launched Aug. 20. Digital greetings If you haven’t been the lucky recipient of an ecard, you don’t know what you’re missing. Ecards are animated versions of paper greeting cards. Hael personalizes the concept through her use of beautiful images and videos shot in the Southwest. Looking at each one is like opening a window into the beauty of the region we’re so lucky to live in. Just take a moment to sit back and venture out on a mini vacation. Hael has a history of varied occupations including massage thera-

May Bcto

pist, graphic artist, and website designer. Take her enjoyment of helping people feel connected and her knowledge of design, love of the outdoors, beautiful photography, video, poetic music, and computer wizardry, wrap it up in a tidy box, and open it up: You’ll find her animated ecards inside. Many years, many hats Not only is Hael the photographer and videographer of the beautiful nature-centered images in her ecards — she’s also the music composer. She started playing music at a young age with a small touch organ given to her as a gift from her parents. Today, Hael has graduated to a larger, more expansive keyboard that gives her a world of sounds to integrate into her cards and set the proper mood and sentiment. Allow yourself to sit back and become totally immersed in the rich poetic music, and you can practically sing along with each word as it flashes onto her animated cards. Hael says she composes each song to help evoke the beauty, peace, and elegance of her images. After years exploring the technological side of the Internet, Hael felt like her creative side needed to be expressed. For her ecard company, she had to don the hats of artist, photographer, videographer, designer, animator, writer, and composer making for what can only be described as “an extraordinary amount of work.” But Hael smiles when she says she’s been working on making her website even more interactive. She’s added comment boxes at the end of a page of journal entries that give insight into the inspiration and stories behind the cards. “I enjoy listening to people’s feedback, and what they want to get out of my worlds,” Hael says. “It soothes my soul.” ***** Debanie Hael is a Prescott-based artist, graphic designer, photographer, videographer, composer, and web guru. Her ecard website, eCard Art, is online at Sadira DeMarino lives in Prescott, where she’s owned and operated the resale clothing store Snap Snap for 18 years. For the past two years she’s been in business with her mother at 133 N. Cortez St. Contact her at SadiraDas@Yahoo.Com.

Special Exhibit, Guest Artist

Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio August 16-October 15 217 N. Cortez St. • Prescott, AZ 928-227-2659 •



A screenshot from one of Debanie Hael’s ecards. Courtesy image.

Around ...

... the Corner

September stimpack By Ruby Jackson Saturday, Sept. 14 marks the inaugural Top Dawg Cornhole Tournament at Heritage Park. “Cornhole” sounded slightly suspicious, if not pornographic, to me and, being a Midwesterner from the land of corn, something that I should’ve already know about. For those of you not in the know, it has nothing to do with corn or pornography. It’s basically a bean bag board toss game – but with plenty of fun, say-what? terminology like “hammer,” “dirty bag,” and “nothing but hole.” Warm ups are 8:30-9:30 a.m. and bags fly at 10 a.m. It’s B.Y.O.B., which includes bags, boards, and beer. There are cash prizes for the top four teams in all divisions, live music, and vendors selling equipment for those of us not already properly equipped. I’m nothing less than intrigued, and this sounds way better than horseshoes. Visit PlayCornHole.Org for more of the game’s ins and outs. Also on Sept. 14, down at the Yavapai County Courthouse Square, you’ll find some folks celebrating the 10th anniversary of Prescott Recovery Day with inspirational speakers, information booths, and free food. I was under the impression that every day is Happy Recovery Day here in Prescott. We’re listed as one of the top 10 Sober Living Cities in the U.S. on TheFix. Com (right up there with Boston and New York City), which highlights the “dozens of sober-living recovery facilities, halfway houses, and detox centers” that’ve popped up in Prescott during the past two decades. The website also cites a Daily Courier article that gives an estimate of 1,200 people in active recovery on any given day here in Everybody’s Hometown. That’s one resident in 30. Locals might recollect when Prescott was better-recognized as one of the Best Places to Raise a Family or Best Places to Retire. Cheers! While I’m on the subject of Public Service Announcements, I must confess that after waiting years for a recycling program that includes glass, I missed the July 1 start date for glass recycling in Prescott. My honey was secretly moving my glass containers to our blue bin as if I was some sort of recycling rebel. The city estimates that this program annually diverts 5 percent, or 135 tons, of garbage from our landfill. Yay! It’s the 100th anniversary of the Yavapai County Fair this year, running Thursday, Sept. 26 to Sunday, Sept. 29 at Tim’s Toyota Center. The Texaco Country Showdown Arizona State Finals hit the main stage on Saturday night. Think “American Idol” with boots and rhinestones. There are, of course, heart-stopping culinary delights galore. Sample some chocolate-

covered bacon or deep-fried Oreos. Plotz! If, for some reason, you’re still craving funnel cake post-fair, don’t despair: The new Picture Show cinema in Prescott has it on the menu along with ice cream, corn dogs, and pizza from Pizzeria Uno. The much-anticipated theater opened mid-August and features super-luxurious recliner seating. It almost feels like you’re watching a movie in your very own living room, but with way better sound. The massive improvements to this theater make me completely forget the double vision and headaches I used to suffer back when it was Frontier Cinema. Yavapai College’s Prescott Art Gallery hosts an interesting exhibit this month that runs through Sept.14: Perceptual Experiences, with work by Darien Arikoski-Johnson (a ceramic artist from the Midwest) and Carolyn Schmitz. Schmitz is a local artist and almost lifelong Prescott resident who integrates nature, fashion, and fantasy into her art. Her spider dioramas (“Date at the Dump” is a favorite) are inspired by tiny spiders she and her sister used to spy at old miners’ dumps. They’re constructed “entirely of plant material from oak, pine, juniper, cypress, devil’s claw, and datura — all indigenous to this area.” “Firefly Tree” is based on the story of a friend who, while bicycling in the Northeast, approached a vibrant glow only to find a tree whose trunk was covered with fireflies. Schmitz instantly envisioned bears as silent witnesses. This is a show worth attending.

“Firefly Tree,” a painting by Carolyn Schmitz, is part of an exhibit on display through Sept. 14 at Yavapai College’s Prescott Art Gallery. Courtesy photo.

***** A native of the Windy City, Ruby Jackson is a freelance writer and collector of Norfin Trolls. In her spare time she is an aspiring actress (drama queen) and millionairess (donations gladly accepted). Contact her at RubyBJackson@Gmail. Com.


Left Brain: September’s mind-full events Events

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• 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, monthly meeting. (Prescott Public Library, Founders Suite, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)


Apollo 11 insignia. NASA, Wikimedia Commons, public domain. See Sept. 11 events for more info.

• 9 a.m. Saturday: Semi-annual sale of native perennials, trees, shrubs, cacti, and grasses. Proceeds benefit hands-on education at the Highlands Center for Natural History. (Highlands Center for Natural History, 1375 S. Walker Road, 928-776-9550)

• 2:30 p.m. Sunday: Fifth annual fundraiser dinner and auction for the Highlands Center for Natural History. Proceeds benefit the Highland Center youth education programs. (Talking Rock Ranch, 14503 N. Talking Rock Ranch Road, 928-776-9550, $75)

• 2 p.m. Saturday: Children’s author and educator Elyse April hosts a panel of local authors from HOHM Press. (Peregrine Book Co., 219A N. Cortez St., 928-445-9000)



• 7:30 p.m. Saturday: See the Dumbbell Nebula, Ring Nebula, Star Queen Cluster, Keystone Cluster, and Double Stars. (Vista Park, 1684 Sarafina Drive)

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• 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Monthly meeting. (Prescott Public Library, Founders Suite, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)


• 7 p.m. Wednesday: Sean Jeralds, EmbryRiddle Areonautical University professor, discusses lesser-known aspects of the Apollo program including the Apollo 11 “lost tape,” the semi-historic LM ladder event, key design elements, and split-second decisions. (Embry-Riddle Areonautical University, DLC Auditorium, 3700 Willow Creek Raod, 928-777-6985)



• 6 p.m. Friday: Second annual welcome-back festival to connect students of neighboring schools, colleges, and universities with the community. Includes food, music, and vendors. (Yavapai College, main parking lot, 1100 E. Sheldon St., 717-799-5717)



• 8 a.m. Saturday: Audubon bird walk. (Highlands Center for Natural History, 1375 S. Walker Road, 928-776-9550)


• 9 a.m. Saturday: Community Nature Center bird and nature walks. (Community Nature Center, 1981 Williamson Valley Road, 928-443-5900)

CITIZENS WATER ADVOCACY GROUP • 10 a.m. Saturday: John Zambrano, of Citizens Water Advocacy Group, gives talk, “The Fourth Management Plan and Safe Yield.”






• 2 p.m. Saturday: Author Elaine Jordan talks about her memoir, “Mrs. Ogg Played the Harp,” then leads a workshop about memoir writing. (Peregrine Book Co., 219A N. Cortez St., 928-445-9000)

• 2 p.m. Sunday: Actress, arts advocate, and The Artist’s Path artistic director Gail Mangham sheds light on the life, times, and views of Texas’ iconic newspaper columnist, political commentator, and humorist Molly Ivins. (Peregrine Book Co., 219A N. Cortez St., 928-445-9000)

• 7 a.m. Friday: White Spar bird walk with Bonnie Pranter. (Jay’s Bird Barn, 1046 Willow Creek Road, 928-443-5900)





(Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation Building, 882 Sunset Ave., 928-445-4218)


• 10 a.m. Saturday: Tenth annual event. Includes speakers, music, prizes, food, art show and contest, and info booths. (Yavapai County Courthouse Square, 928-713-7227)


• 10 a.m. Saturday: Find out how frontier folks prepared for winter months. An Arizona History Adventure. (Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley St., 928-445-2133, included with $6-$7 admission)


• 2 p.m. Saturday: Jana Bommersback talks about writing from the point of view of a multi-media reporter, editor, columnist, and fiction and nonfiction author. (Peregrine Book Co., 219A N. Cortez St., 928-445-9000)



• 6:30 p.m. Thursday: Third Thursday Star Talk with Fr. Chris Corbally, vice director of the the Vatican Observatory, about the new quarters, new staff, and future plans of the Vatican Observatory. (Prescott Public Library, Founders Suite, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)



• 7 a.m. Friday: Fain Park bird walk with Eric Moore. (Jay’s Bird Barn, 1046 Willow Creek Road, 928-443-5900)


• 8:30 a.m. Saturday: Kickoff for hiking spree event. (Highlands Center for Natural History, 1375 S. Walker Road, HighlandsCenter.Org)


• 12 p.m. Saturday: Local author and illustrator Diane Iverson leads a workshop about writing children’s books. (Peregrine Book Co., 219A N. Cortez St., 928-445-9000)


• 5:30 p.m. Saturday: Eighth annual Fall Gathering celebrating the Phippen Museum’s 1984 opening ceremony. Includes cowboy music and Western barbeque. (Phippen Museum, 4701 Arizona 89, 928-778-1385)


• 6:30 p.m. Saturday: John Carter video, “Danger! Solar Storm,” followed by stargazing with the Prescott Astronomy Club. (Highlands Center for Natural History, 1375 S. Walker Road, 928-776-9550)

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• 1 p.m. Sunday, monthly meeting. (Prescott Public Library, Founders Suite, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)


PRESCOTT AREA BOARDGAMERS • 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 4 and 18: Play board games. (Prescott Public Library, Bump and Elsea conference rooms and Founders Suites, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)


• 10 a.m. and noon Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14 and 15: Annual event. Includes gold panning, cowboy music and poetry, a Victorian fashion show, and period and moustache contests. (Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley St., 928-445-3122, $5-$8)


• Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 26-29: One-hundredth annual fair featuring livestock, homemaking, community involvement, garden crafts, art, and food. (Tim’s Toyota Center, 3201 N. Main St., 928-636-0535, $3-$5)


• 5 p.m., 11 a.m., and 10 a.m. Friday through Sunday, Sept. 27-29: Seventh annual Prescott Social Intertribal Powwow., “Elders Embracing the Youth.” Includes drums, dancers, contests, and vendors. (Watson Lake Park, Arizona 89, PrescottPowwow.Org)


• 8 a.m. Wednesdays: Discover more about local birds, geology, and plants. (At select city trails, HighlandsCenter.Org, 928-776-9550)


• 7 a.m. Friday: Banning Creek bird walk with Bonnie Pranter. (Jay’s Bird Barn, 1046 Willow Creek Road, 928-443-5900)

• 8 a.m. Saturdays: Discover more about local birds, geology, and plants. (Highlands Center for Natural History, 1375 S. Walker Road, 928-776-9550)



• Dawn to dusk Saturday: U.S. Forest Service waives all day-use fees. (FS.USDA.Gov/Prescott)

• 2 p.m. Saturdays: Play chess, all ages, skill levels welcome. (Prescott Public Library, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)

September’s art-full events :niarB thgiR

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• Through Sept. 22: Photography by Louise Serpa, the first female rodeo photographer. (Phippen Museum, 4701 Arizona 89, 928-778-1385)


• 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dr. Janet Preston’s monthly poetry discussion group. (Prescott Public Library, Elsea Conference Room, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)


• Through Sept. 24: Annual photography show. (’Tis Art Center, 105 S. Cortez St., 928-775-0223)



• 6:30 p.m. Thursday: Share your poetry in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere at this monthly meeting. (Prescott Public Library, Elsea Conference Room, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)

• Through Sept. 25: Clay art by Susan Pate. (Arts Prescott Gallery, 134 S. Montezuma St., 928-776-7717)



• From Sept. 26: New contemporary works by Prescott area artists. (’Tis Art Center, 105 S. Cortez St., 928-775-0223)

• 1 p.m. Saturday: Eleventh annual Riding the Rim Cowboy Poetry Gathering featuring 10 Arizona poets. (Phippen Museum, 4701 Arizona 89, 928-778-1385)


• From Sept. 26: Mixed media art by Rick Lovelace. (Arts Prescott Gallery, 134 S. Montezuma St., 928-776-7717)


• 6:30 p.m. Saturday: Country Western dance group lesson with Hector Rivera. (Salsa Arizona School of Dance, 609 Miller Valley Road, 928-899-1589, $5)



• 9 a.m. preview, 11 a.m. art auction, 1 p.m. rug auction, Saturday: Fifteenth annual Indian art and Navajo rug auction featuring 100 lots of pottery, baskets, jewelry, fine art, and more, plus 300 contemporary and historic rugs. (Smoki Museum, 147 N. Arizona Ave., 928-445-1230)

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“Drawing Down the Moon.” Clay figurative sculpture by Cathy Cowen. Courtesy photo. See September art for more info.


• 9 a.m. Sunday: Annual antique show sponsored by the Thumb Butte Questers. Proceeds benefit local historic restoration and preservation projects. (Yavapai County Courthouse Square, 928-776-7220).

• Noon Saturdays, Sept. 7 and 21: Studio open house and creative space for artists. (Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio, 217 N. Cortez St., 928-227-2659)



• 5:30 p.m. Wednesday: Dan Seaman emcees monthly open mic poetry. (Peregrine Book Co., 219A N. Cortez St., 928-445-9000)


• 5:30 p.m. Wednesday: Monthly meeting for support and information. (Prescott Public Library, Founders Suite, 215 E. Goodwin St., 928-777-1500)

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• 5 p.m. Friday, monthly art walk including more than 18 galleries and artist receptions. (ArtThe4th.Com)


• Saturday lessons, 7:30 p.m. dance: Contra dances, newcomers and singles welcome, with caller Judy Zeidel and music by Traditional Blend. (First Congregational Church annex, 216 E. Gurley St., 928-925-5210, $4-$8)


• 5 p.m. Mondays: Jugglers throw objects into the air and at each other. (Prescott College Granite Performing Arts Center, 218 N. Granite St., 928-350-3218)


• 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12-14 and 19-21, 2 p.m. Sept. 15 and 22: Rabbi Persky falls in love with Theresa Genovese, owner of the company carpeting the temple. Written by Art Shulman. Directed by Reecca Antsis. (Stage Too!, alley between East Willis and Sheldon streets, $12)


• 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26-28 and 2 p.m. Sept. 28: Chuck Baxter, New York City accountant, lends out his apartment to coworkers. Despite comedic misery and intrigue, romance prevails with one of the executive’s mistresses. Based on Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Dimaon’s screenplay “The Apartment.” Directed by Jon Meyer. (Prescott Center for the Arts, 208 N. Marina St., 928-445-3286, $15-$19)


• From Sept. 7: Photographs, letters, and artifacts from Rainbow Bridge and Monument Valley expeditions circa the 1930s. (Smoki Museum, 147 N. Arizona Ave., 928-445-1230)


• Through Sept. 13: Steel sculptures by Lin Hall and paintings by Annette Olson. (’Tis Art Center, 105 S. Cortez St., 928-775-0223)


• Through Sept. 14: Art by Darien ArikoskiJohnson and Carolyn Schmitz. (Yavapai College Art Gallery, 1100 E. Sheldon St., 928-776-2031)

“LANDSCAPES TO ABSTRACTS, ABSTRACTS TO LANDSCAPES” • From Sept. 16: Indefinably exciting oil paintings by D. Stewart Moore. (’Tis Art Center, 105 S. Cortez St., 928-775-0223)


• Through Sept. 19: Paintings by Del Cecil and sculpture by Gary Cassidy. (Mountain Artists Guild & Gallery, 228 N. Alarcon St., 928-776-4009


• From Sept. 20: Artwork by Yavapai College art faculty. (Yavapai College Art Gallery, 1100 E. Sheldon St., 928-776-2031)

• From Sept. 27: Paintings by Ian Russell and sculpture by Bryan Tubbs. (Ian Russell Gallery of Fine Art, 130 S. Montezuma St., 928-445-7009)


• Through Sept. 28: Miniature to extravagantly large square formats. (Prescott Center for the Arts Gallery, 208 N. Marina St., 928-445-3286)


• Through Sept. 30: Welded metalwork by Stan Book, clay figurative sculptures by Cathy Cowen, and paintings by Tony Reynolds. (A Small Art Gallery, 115 E. Goodwin St., Suite D)


• From Sept. 30: Day of the Dead-inspired art with text in English and Spanish. (Prescott Center for the Arts Gallery, 208 N. Marina St., 928-445-3286)


• Through Oct. 1: Art by Kelly Adams, Madeline Graves, and Carol Hollum. (Plaid Peacock, 131 N. Cortez St., 928-713-7921)


• Through Oct. 1: Ceramics by Carol Commins, metal sculpture by Jacqueline Herst, and wood sculpture by Robert Raess. (Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio, 217 N. Cortez St., 928-227-2659)


• Through Oct. 1: Watercolors by Joe Tarrer and Jim Veney. (Method Coffee, 3180 Willow Creek Road, 928-777-1067)


• Through Oct. 15: Oil paintings by Texas artist Mary Bechtol. (Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio, 217 N. Cortez St., 928-227-2659)

Prescott Film Festival’s Script Notes

The woods for the trees By Helen Stephenson


went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” Henry David Thoreau wrote those oft-quoted words. In the new indie film “The Kings of Summer,” three adolescent boys bent on escaping the clutches of their parents channel that sentiment, leave home, and live in the woods in a coming-of-age film that packs in laughs, discovery, and parent-child relationships. The boys decide they can’t handle their parents and their reality so decide to create their own world. They build a house in the middle of a woods-surrounded meadow and move in, and, of course, they don’t let their parents know, so the whole town thinks they’ve been kidnapped. City-wide panic and emotions ensue.


from having a blast and being truly free

to be themselves in their testosterone-driven-adolescent-boy splendor, they have to decide who they are and who they want to be in the future. Being away from their structured “real world” means they can discover where their strengths lie and how to use them. Do they exploit weakness in others? Take advantage of their friends? Fight for the girl? (Well, that one actually never ends, so they have to get used to it and move on.) The lives they’re trying to leave

behind aren’t pretty. Joe’s dad is reeling with anger from his wife’s death and taking it out on his son, Patrick’s middleclass, middleaged, boring parents are strangling him with their love and control, and then there’s Biaggio, who speaks in sayings no one understands, but he’s highly entertaining. (Hint: Stay through the credits for a bonus Biaggio scene.) Then, when all seems perfect, (insert dark scary music here,) a girl enters their idyllic setting.


film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It was shot across Ohio with locations including Cleveland, Chagrin Falls, Lyndhurst, and South Pointe Hospital in Warrensville. “The Kings of Summer” has its only Prescott screening 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 att he Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. More information and the trailer can be seen on our website, PrescottFilmFestival.Com and Facebook or by calling 928-458-7209. ***** Helen Stephenson is executive director of the Prescott Film Festival and collects old hats and Mary Poppins memorabilia. When she’s not watching films or marketing the fest, you can usually catch her at the computer in her Prescott Film Festival office on the Yavapai College campus. Contact her at Helen@PrescottFilm Festival.Com.

II That’s a wrap

Prescott Film Festival’s Script Notes

By Helen Stephenson


Prescott Film Festival lived up to its new tagline, “Movies that Move You,” and was an unqualified success. Don’t believe me? Just ask anyone who was there. Audience members left with emotions running high after watching some of the 93 films screened this year. Some left with tears of laughter and joy while others left inspired to make the world a better place, grateful for knowledge obtained at the festival. Larger over-all attendance, spectacular afterparties, and a beautiful VIP greenroom combined to create our best fest ever (... so far).


highlight was a screening of Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” with special guest Emma Bates, from the film. Another was the festival’s first film retrospective. This year’s highlighted the work of documentary filmmakers Beth and George Gage. Five Gage

Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall accepts a cross on behalf of the Prescott Fire Department at the fourth annual Prescott Film Festival. Courtesy photo. & Gage films were presented including “From the Ground Up: 10 years after 9/11.” New York fireman’s widow Andrea Garbarini, the film’s executive producer, was at the screening and presented the Prescott Fire Department a special cross


made from metal from the Twin Towers. The Gage’s latest film, “Bidder 70,” was the festival’s closing night film. Tim DeChristopher, the subject of “Bidder 70,” joined the Gages at the festival live via Skype for a Q-and-A after the screening. Another highlight was the festival’s firstever program of all Prescott short films, called “Prescott on the Big Screen.” From a documentary on dance to a zombie flick filmed on the Courthouse Plaza, it was exciting to see homegrown filmmaking in “Everybody’s Hometown.”


forward, Prescott Film Festival will continue presenting films year-round at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. Visit PrescottFilmFestival.Com for more info. ***** Helen Stephenson is ... wait a minute, are you getting a strange sense of déjà vu?

In plane sight

Bird Watching (No, the Other Kind)

By Matt Dean

taking custody of a hooded, shackled figure from local authorities. The detainee is prepped by his captors, placed aboard an obscure civilian aircraft, and then flown to an undisclosed location and forcibly held for an indeterminate amount of time. When the extraordinary rendition program was expanded after 9/11, the CIA quickly (and quietly) began transferring large numbers of suspected terrorists to a handful of so-called “black sites.” The CIA used civilian aircraft that were registered through private front companies to transport the suspected terrorists. Aviation enthusiasts and plane spotters provided a string of clues that helped bring the extraordinary rendition program to the American public’s attention.


of the planes that were used for the extraordinary rendition program included the Boeing 737, Lockheed C-130, Cessna 208, and Gulfstream IV. There were likely more, as well as other types of aircraft, but these planes were clearly identified and linked to the program. The planes were owned by non-existent companies and operated by indistinct charter businesses. In late 2002, an aviation enthusiast was using an online service for tracking the flight plans of commercial and private aircraft when he noticed something strange: four private planes were headed to an obscure location know as Desert Rock Airstrip near the Nevada Test Site. This was notable because civilian aircraft didn’t fly to DRA. It was rarely used and usually only by the Department of Energy. The aviation enthusiast who

noticed the anomaly posted his finding on an Internet forum for plane watchers. The interest in these planes was immediate, and spotters around the globe began tracking them. It soon became clear that these planes were traveling the world over including locales such as Kabul, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Planes were also visiting mysterious locations in Romania, Croatia, Macedonia, and many other countries.


plane spotters do more than simply logging tail and serial numbers. The next step in plane spotting sophistication is monitoring radio frequencies between pilots and ground controllers. On first listen, information derived from monitoring radio communications doesn’t seem much more detailed than the logging of tail and serial numbers, but it can be more interesting and more revealing. Plane spotters also monitor aircraft through a non-voice communication system known as the Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System which uses radio frequencies to send information about an aircraft to ground controllers. Some enthusiasts use software that can decode the radio frequencies. The Enhanced Traffic Management System, run by the Department of Transportation, is used to help manage air traffic in U.S. air space. It can also be used to check flight statuses and airplane fleet management. The information that flows through this system can be blocked if requested by a plane owner. However, interested parties have hacked the system to view information for blocked planes. Civilian flights also leave a paper trail that can be obtained from government agencies. By following public records, online forums, and electronic data information, it’s pos-

anyone to see. But no one noticed. It took a small group of dedicated people accidentally discovering some flight plan oddities to begin the unraveling of this highly secretive, highly controversial program.

sible to begin putting together the ambiguous pieces that comprise the CIA extraordinary rendition flights. This information helped expose the program. Soon after the program became public, many of the inaugural front companies were shut down and numerous planes were sold.

***** Matt Dean is a Prescott native and a teacher for Prescott High School’s online program who enjoys spending time with his family and walks with the dogs. When he’s not aircraft spotting, you can find him steadily working on projects at his home and property. Contact him at Matt.Dean@PrescottSchools.Com.


of the more astounding aspects of the extraordinary rendition program was the CIA’s ability to disguise the operation in plain sight. While the black sites were hidden, the activities of the aircraft used for the transportation of detainees were available for

4 Prescott’s 4th Friday




men with American accents

A Cessna 208, not unlike the one used in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, lands abroad. Photo by Ad Meskens, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0.


of black-clad ski-masked


The firsthand accounts are



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Mike’s Musical Musings By Mike Vax “What we play is life. My whole life, my whole soul, my whole spirit is to blow that horn.” — Louis Armstrong


don’t think anyone could have said it better. For those of us who are truly wrapped up in the arts, what we do becomes our primary focus in life. It’s almost a compulsion. I know for me, not only performing on my trumpet, but also promoting music and musicians has been the main thrust of my existence for the past

50 years. (I’ve actually been playing trumpet for 63 years.) I must say, first of all, that my wife, Peggy, has been a true angel for the past 38 years of our marriage. She’s put up with my compulsions, even to the point of me losing money keeping bands and festivals such as the Prescott Jazz Summit together. In the entertainment business, long marriages aren’t common — mainly because of the overriding desire we musicians have to perform and perfect our craft. It’s an all-consuming drive that’s hard to control. There’ve been many days that, between warming up, practicing, rehearsing, and performing, I’ve spent 10-12 hours on my horn.

Music inc. & music ink Because

I seem to have a knack for the business end of music, I’ve also tried to help keep musicians working and to help keep jazz music alive. This is certainly no easy task. Those of us who promote jazz know that we must get to young people to create new audiences for our music. Jazz has not been “pop music” since the big band era of the 1930s and ’40s. Stan Kenton said it very well: “We will never be in the mainstream of musical awareness, but we will always have true fans who love what we do.” And I’m afraid that the fans he was talking about are now much older and, in some cases, dying off. Kenton was also one of the fathers of jazz education, and he knew that by bringing his band into schools for performances and workshops he could help bring new fans into the fold. I feel the same way. That’s why the Stan Kenton Alumni Band plays about 90 percent of its performances on the road in schools. It’s also why we started the Prescott Jazz Summit’s Educational Outreach Program and why we do free performances in schools throughout Central and Northern Arizona. In keeping with our dedication to compensating musicians, our musicians are always paid for these visits even though we don’t charge the schools a single penny. We’re trying to expand that program and are always looking for sponsors.



part of keeping musicians working is booking jobs. I’ve been at the forefront of this endeavor for more than 40 years. One of my pet peeves is hearing these phrases: “Why can’t the musicians donate their time?” “Why can’t they work for less money?” “They have such a good time playing music,

why do they need to be paid?” And, the best one of all: “This event will be really good publicity for your band.” My stock answer is always the same: “I can’t feed my family on publicity.” I think what people sometimes forget is that yes, we do enjoy what we do, but it’s how we feed our families and pay the bills. Our needs are the same as a plumber, a lawyer, a car salesperson, a teacher, or anyone else in their chosen line of work. We musicians have spent many years and large sums of money to perfect our craft. An interesting comparison was made by a fellow quite a few years ago. A musician spends many, many years becoming a competent performer and that person spends almost as much money over time as a doctor does for his or her education. When all is said and done, most doctors are pretty much assured of a nice income, but musicians aren’t guaranteed anything. Guess I’ve been on a musical soapbox in this column. Still, I hope it gives you, the reader, a bit more insight into the mind of a musician, bandleader, and promoter. ***** Mike Vax is a Prescott-based jazz musician and educator. As his column progresses, he’d love to hear your questions, comments, and even ideas for future columns. Contact him via his website, MikeVax.Net.

brain food


Crêpe Crusader

BY JIMMY POLINORI - THE CULINARY COMPOSER Brunch is a frequent occurrence in my home. Entertaining is one of my favorite joys in life. For a recent Sunday gathering, I decided to try something new and whipped up a large batch of crêpes and surrounded our table centerpiece with fun ceramic bowls we found at the local dollar store. The bowls were filled with all kinds of delicious fillings both savory and sweet. And the concept was a huge success. The word crêpe is French for pancake and is derived from the Latin crispus meaning “curled.” Crêpes originated in Brittany (fr. Breton), in the northwest region of France, which lies between the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. Crêpes were originally called galettes, meaning flat cakes. The French pronunciation of both words is with a short E as in bed. Crêpe making has evolved from cooking on large cast-iron hot plates heated over a wood fire in a fireplace to hot plates that are now gas or electric heated. The batter is spread with a tool known as a rozel and flipped with a spatula. On Feb. 2 crêpes are offered in France on the holiday known as Fête de la Chandeleur, Fête de la Lumière, or “jour des crêpes.” Not only do the French eat a lot of crêpes on this day, but they also do a bit of fortune telling while making them. It’s traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other, then flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year. Crêpes are popular not only throughout France but elsewhere in Europe where the pancakes go by other names and adaptations, including Italian crespelle, Hungarian palacsintas, Jewish blintzes, Scandinavian plattars, Russian blini, and Greek kreps.

Build your own crêpe bar Crêpe ingredients: (makes 16 crêpes) 2 cups all purpose flour, 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, 1/2 tsp salt, and 4 tbsp melted butter Directions: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Slowly add the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crêpe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so the batter spreads, creating the thin crêpe. Cook the crêpe for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Place all crepes on a cookie sheet and store in oven on the “keep warm” setting (approx. 175 degrees) until you’re ready to serve. Sweet fillings: Bananas, mixed berries, Nutella, crushed pineapple, chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, whipped cream, or chocolate mousse. Savory fillings: Diced chicken, fresh baby spinach, feta, cheddar cheese, breakfast scramble, bacon, ham, tomatoes, olives, or hollandaise sauce.

Get more recipes and let us know what your favorite crêpe combination is at


Hosting a brunch? Wow your guests with a build your own crêpe bar! Make your crêpes ahead of time and use fun bowls filled with sweet & savory fillings for guests to choose from.


Alan Dean Foster’s Perceivings By Alan Dean Foster In a stove in a small village in Romania likely rest the ashes of at least three of seven paintings stolen last year from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam. When confronted, the mother of one of the alleged thieves said that she burned them (i.e., the evidence) to try and protect her son. She has now changed her story and says that she didn’t burn them. Three of the stolen works were on paper, but the others were on canvas. Traces of paint pigment, canvas, nails, and more were found in the stove’s ashes. The works were by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Lucian Freud, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, and Meyer de Haan. Some of these names you certainly recognize. Others you may not. That’s not important. Nor is their collective monetary value, estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars, important. Nor do I wish to discuss the profound ignorance of the thieves, who plainly knew so little about art and the art market that they, for one moment, believed they could actually sell any such immediately recognized masterpieces on the open market. Or for that matter, on the black market. What I want to talk about is the fact that the pictures are gone and, does it really matter?


in most of the world’s great art museums. I’ve squinted at thousands of famous and not-sofamous originals. There’s nothing to compare to sitting by yourself in a small room in the Kunstacademie, in Vienna, where the only painting is Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Last Judgment” and being able to study it detail by detail, figure by figure, in complete silence, and without interruption. But is it necessary to have the original to enjoy the art?


an artist’s technique and style have been determined, is it critical that one see the original? Or is a copy that is virtually indistinguishable from the original just as valid to view? The picture is the same: the images, the colors, the figures. We know who did it. Would the Mona Lisa be just as famous, just as adored, if a copy hung in the Louvre that no one in the crowd could tell was a copy? Or if the original had been silently spirited away? Would there be fewer oohs and aahs? Sculpture is no different. In 1504, Michelangelo’s “David” was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. In the intervening centuries, kids climbed on it and pigeons expressed their own artistic opinions. Today the original is sequestered in a museum while a fine copy occupies the original space. I don’t doubt that there are numerous visitors to Florence who see only the copy and are confident they have seen the true expression of Michelangelo’s genius. And so they have — they just didn’t see the original. Children and adults who visit natural history museums throughout the world marvel at the skeletons of dinosaurs without realizing that a great many of them, especially of the rarer species, are casts. The casts are made from the original bone. Not only are casts far cheaper than


wonderful to view the original of something, but I’m not so sure that in an age of increasingly perfect reproduction it is the great artistic crisis that it was 100 or even 50 years ago, when the originals and bad copies were all we had. If that were the case, no one would buy Warhol or Hirst. Maybe not such a bad thing.

***** Alan Dean Foster is author of more than 120 books, visitor to more than 100 countries, and still frustrated by the human species. Follow him at AlanDeanFoster.Com. Amanda Maas is a visual arts student at Prescott College with a focus in illustration. She’s also a minion at The Art Store, in Prescott. aA aA


original fossils, they’re much easier to transport, set up, clean, and move. Only an expert can tell a professionally fashioned cast from the original bone. Does seeing a cast invalidate the viewing experience? If not, then where lies the difference between looking at an original Gauguin versus a perfect copy or perfect print? The art is there even if actual touch of the artist isn’t. Depending on the artist, copies, prints, or etchings can be as valuable as “original” art. Rembrandt’s etchings bring tens of thousands of dollars, yet they are nothing but copies. Dürer made his reputation and his fortune by cranking out hundreds of etchings and woodcuts, not by selling originals. If such geniuses were alive today, would they be using the high-end version of Insty-Prints instead of copper plate and wood block? If the artist feels a copy is as valid an expression of his or her art as an original, like Ansel Adams with his photographs, who are we, the audience, to argue?

Ill. by Amanda Maas.

moderately known painting by an artist of record has been photographed, digitized, and placed in thousands of books and on thousands of websites. Picasso exists in a cloud he did not paint and that Gauguin could never have envisioned. Printing technology exists that can reproduce any painting, on canvas if you wish, down to the finest original brushstrokes. In the gift shop of the National Gallery in London is a machine that can, in a short while, not only reproduce the museum’s resident masterpieces in brilliant color, but can do so in the original size and dimensions for all but the largest pieces. I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent time

The immateriality of the original


nature of their work’s subject matter and their inexperience in the marketplace, young artists in Prescott function in the background with an urge and energy that seldom surfaces. Yet, they not only consider Prescott their hometown; they identify themselves with the town, its

history, and its evolving attitudes. But forging a personal identity as an artist in any town — let alone one as staid as ours — is a challenge for 20- and 30-somethings. Enter the Shed Project, a new art exhibit space at 513 Madison St. designed to expose young and emergent artists to Prescott’s cultural arena. For the past three months, the

storage shed-come-art space has opened its doors every couple of weeks for ball lightning, one-nightonly displays and the occasional noise show. All the signs of a nascent movement are in play: a regional language backed by a body of work that coalesces into a recognizable local style. Co-mingled with the current Southwestern idiom — itself bound


Emergent artists and young patrons mingle recently at an opening at the Shed Project in Prescott. Photo by Galen Trezise, illustration by 5enses.

By Jacques Laliberté

by an entrenched history — the fresh perspective of younger artists like those at the Shed Project may energize Prescott’s fine arts and, in the process, just might expand our community’s vision of who we are. Consider the following. …


... FROM PAGE �� Galen Trezise Taking the oppressive Arizona heat as a metaphor — and excuse — for creative languor would be an easy route for Prescott artists. “It’s not a place where one can be exposed to a multicultural broad spectrum of ideas and imagery,” says local artist Galen Trezise. “You have to create it yourself, and expand within your own practice of art-making to create something new.” Trezise jump-started this community dialogue when he and Dewey Nelson initiated the Shed Project in June. Periodic exhibits — ad hoc and barelyadvertised — feature the young, emerging artists that can’t show anywhere else in town. “The Shed Project has been a venture to facilitate creative discourse and articulation and to hold a space for promoting developed ideas and exploring new ones,” Trezise says. “Dewey and I have fo-

cused on featuring artists that have a distinct voice and understanding of their work with knowledge of how to convey their concepts.” As young artists/entrepreneurs, Trezise and Nelson assist others in gaining voice and wallspace. And they’re seeing progress. “The Prescott institution of the Southwestern mode of expression is dominant here – however I have seen a DIY undercurrent that a lot of younger artists and musicians lean to,” Trezise says. “It can be gritty, raw and underdeveloped. However, people are beginning to construct their own language, which I admire.”


artwork has shown at the Shed Project, too. His thoughts on his own art are, much like his thoughts on his art space: grandiloquent. “I like thinking about the universe and the body sharing similar forms and structures to make up their existence,” he says. “My drawings and collages utilize diagrams and anatomy/physiology, outer space, and geometric forms. The end results [are] reflective of macro-micro formulations

that could exist in the cosmos as light formations or within the interstitial realm of a body as a cellular pathogen confrontation.”

CLOCKWISE, FROM BOTTOM LEFT: “Welcome,” painting by Dewey Nelson, courtesy image; Nelson works on “Welcome” in his Prescott studio, courtesy photo; Self-portrait, photo by Galen Trezise; “Light vs. Miasm,” drawing by Galen Trezise; Alexa Simpson stands before her “Social Shame” series during its debut at the Shed Project, photo by Galen Trezise; “Pigeon,” drawing by Jordan Palmer; Jordan Palmer portrait, photo by Dylan Ludwig. Dewey Nelson “Prescott can be an oppressive place to be young and an artist,” says Dewey

Nelson comfortably seated in a large studio that he built for himself. Incidentally, he’s a stone’s throw from the Shed Project he helped found. For Nelson, artistic place and space are further complicated by identity issues and racism. He’s half Hopi and learned what it means to be a Native American firsthand growing up in Prescott with regular visits to the Reservation. Nelson’s heritage impacts his art more than most area transplants. Early on in life, he saw the contradictions of U.S. history as taught in local schools and started off on his own research. Eventually, he arrived at the conclusion that life on the Reservations is closer to Third World conditions than imagined.


native spin Nelson throws into his large paintings empower the Indian by incongruously arming him with current-day assault weaponry. Though heavy-handed, his


artwork strikes a fine balance between social ideology and visual impact further bolstered by its bright colors and flattened depth. What Nelson learned from the art institutes he attended — and brought home for others at the Shed Project — was the nuts-and-bolts aspect of the art industry that young artists must apply to their raw creativity. “I learned to be articulate about my art,” Nelson says. The in-your-face critiques he endured in classes made him more discriminating. Since he would have to defend his work, he had to ask himself, “What is it I really want to say?” Despite finding and founding his own spaces, Nelson’s art has recently shifted gears. Now, he creates jewelry with a contemporary flavor. Riffing off traditional Indian motifs, he twists material, pattern, and stones to a youthful mold. His debut collection recently debuted at the Newman Gallery.

Jordan Palmer Speaking for Prescott artists at large, Jordan Palmer frames the situation thusly: “They’re tired of looking through the window and seeing the same thing every time. They’re tired of traditional media. The rules have been thrown out the window. There is a real sense of freedom for the next generation of artists in Prescott.” For Palmer, a medium, itself, can become inspiration. “I was obsessed with carbon black pigment,” he says, describing a recent series of drawings. “It comes from life; I was depicting organic matter with organic matter.” Organic, indeed, though now dead, matter. “Rat” and “Pigeon” are relief prints from drawings done from photographs. They’re beautifully — even lovingly —rendered, with a technical exactitude that captures detail with scientific verisimilitude. “The ink is so flat, I was sucked into it,” Palmer says. “You enter a void, blackness, and see what you find in there.” Alexa Simpson Extremely personal and blatantly sexual, the sketches in Alexa Simpson’s “Social Shame” series are patently unacceptable in Prescott’s uptown gallery spaces. But all’s fair in love and war and art at the Shed Project. “Artists need to talk about their art – [to] pose better questions about their work,” Trezise says, explaining the decision to mount Simpsons’ provocative show. “Alexa is prolific but doesn’t speak about her work. This body of work was never seen before.” Recalling the ’60s underground comics that mined the subconscious desires and taboos of flower-powered counter-culture artists, Simpson’s work — precisely rendered in ink and color washes — is, indeed, raunchy, yet real. It’s a refreshing addition to Prescott’s cultural identity whether it would, or will in some future, find acceptance or not.


work as decidedly non-decorative as this sell? For emerging artists, a Shed show is a safe venue to role-play in the gallery scene, to see if courting a market of buyers is the path to take. Here, it’s the socialization process that Trezise and Nelson foster — the proving ground for artists to verbalize their work for an audience, as well as clarify their inspiration for themselves. These artists want to do the work; sales haven’t entered the picture.


Shed Project artist, Jordan recently put 15 works on display including glamour drawings like “Plastic Surgery Disaster” that portray fashion magazine women flaunting fakeness in all their finery. “I’m digesting what I see visually every day,” Palmer says. “It fills my head and drawing is a way to get it out.” He, too, is a Prescottborn artist. Palmer took a stint at Tucson’s University of Arizona before a return to make art and play in the garage/art band Hot Skin. Arizona, its cultural leanings — and temperature levels — figure

in Palmer’s new series, “Dry Heat.” These colorful paintings reveal more internal themes. In many cases, that’s the Western influences that he, and many of the other artists who show at the Shed Project grew up with. “Plus, it’s painful to my skin, this climate,” Palmer admits. Life as unwitting inspiration for art? Take that, creative languor. ***** Visit Facebook.Com/ShedProjectPrescott to find out more about the Shed Project. Visit GalenTrezise.Com to see more of Galen Trezise’s art. Visit DeweyNelson.Wordpress.Com to see more of Dewey Nelson’s art. Visit LexOkay.Tumblr.Com to see more of Alexa Simpson’s art. Visit SJordanPalmer.Tumblr.Com to see more of Jordan Palmer’s art. A 20-year resident of Prescott, Jacques Laliberté has written for and designed several publications, as well as his own Art-rag. See his fine art work at Society6.Com/DaZzlDolls.


Highlands Center for Natural History’s Outdoor Outings

Falling forward By Jill Craig


days you can just feel summer being pushed aside as fall breaks

through. After a long, hot summer of seeking shade and water, the cooler days and nights of September bring an infectious yearning for fall colors, warm chowders, and the first snow. Those days are welcoming to hikers. The trails, sprinkled with blooming grasses and wildflowers, offer glimpses of mushrooms that have popped up in the nooks and crannies of logs and roots. These are signs that a good monsoon has quenched the parched Arizona Highlands providing food for hungry hibernators who will sleep the winter or for those escaping its cold embrace in Mexico or another warmer clime. The summer season is winding down, school is back in session and monsoons are wrapping up, if not over already. Exposed trails, ignored when the sun was hot and high, are now choice. Their panoramic views are made brilliant by sunset and sunrise; their dry landscapes are made green, lush and dotted with wildflowers — the likes of bird’s bill dayflower, yarrow, blue dicks, birdsfoot lotus, Indian paintbrush, clovers, and thistles. Cooler canopy-covered trails — those that provided summer respite — are great for spotting wildlife. They share the most of what the monsoon provided: obscure pools and fresh seeds and berries. It’s the

time of year that makes living in the Southwest so great for hiking and exploring.


the Doce Fire having burned just a few months ago, the Granite Basin areas and the trails within make for some interesting hiking and observations. Many of the trails, closed after the fire, are now open and may offer some spectacular insight into life after a fire. Depending on how hot a fire burns in a given area, some patches of earth may already be showing signs of returning life. Some fire-adapted plants such as oak and manzanita, though burned to the root and seemingly gone forever, may yet live reserving some life just below ground. A keen eye can spot new growth pushing up through the scorched earth in coming months. Clever trees and shrubs may be among other pioneer species: those whose seeds have been waiting for just this chance to establishing themselves. Wildflowers and forbs will provide the basis for life returning to the forest by providing food and shelter. It’s hard for a sentimental species like us to move beyond the hurt that such a devastating fire can cause, but nature waits for no man, and life persists beyond the damage.


late summer into the fall, many birds begin longing for their winter homes. They’ll begin traveling hundreds to thousands of miles south and, en route, will

find our man-made lakes a suitable rest stop for a night or a few days. Lynx, Willow, and Watson lakes are fantastic pit stops for all types of shore birds as well as waterfowl. These lakes have nice trails encircling them, too, which make for superbly pleasant morning and Thistle blooms. evening walks — the best Photo by times for birding, too. Many of the locations Albert Copley. mentioned thus far are highlighted trails in this year’s Highlands Center For Natural History “Take a Hike!” hiking spree. This fun, free event runs for nine weeks in the fall and features 12 Prescott and Prescott National Forest trails. Take a look at this year’s list on the Highlands Center for Natural History’s website, HighlandsCenter.Org, and happy trails. ***** Jill Craig is education director at the Highlands Center for Natural History. She oversees all educational programming for the center and facilitates the Highlands Naturalist Volunteer Program. In her spare time, Jill can be found hiking in the Bradshaw Mountains with her two dogs and husband.

September’s migrators By Eric Moore

Shorter Yellow-rumped Warblers, like this one, are returning to area backyards for the winter. Photo by Dan Pancamo, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0.


days and cooler temperatures help usher in fall migration. September is a great time to get outdoors and go bird-watching. One of the best places to witness the daily ebb and flow of bird migration is Willow Lake and the surrounding grassy habitat. Migrating shorebirds, ducks, gulls, terns, and pelicans use Willow Lake as a refueling point. Many of these water-dependent species are traveling thousands of miles from their breeding grounds in North America to destinations in Mexico, Central America, and even South America. Frequent visits to the lake reveal the changing dynamics of bird migration, with a variety of species arriving and departing each day. Changes in backyard birds will occur too with the departure of hummingbirds and the arrival of wintering species such as White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. ***** Eric Moore is owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, 1046 Willow Creek Road in Prescott. Contact him at Eric@JaysBirdBarn.Com.

News From the Wilds By Ty Fitzmorris


much of North America, September marks the beginning of the colder part of the year with last harvests and cold nights. But in the lower latitudes, such as the Central Highlands of Arizona, September is still summer, though poised on the edge of autumn. The monsoon rains usually continue into the early part of the month, tapering off eventually into glorious sunny days with extraordinary flowering of purple four-oclocks and asters, red penstemons and Scarlet Creeper, yellow sunflowers and daisies, and the white flowers of the tall, strange tree-like Wright’s Thelypody (Thelypodium wrightii). Insect diversity, too, continues to grow and change, with some of the largest insects of the year making their debut. Look for the giant gray Southwestern Hercules Beetle (Dynastes grantii), the large brown Rhinoceros Beetle (Xyloryctes jamaicensis), the Great Ash Sphinx Moth (Sphinx chersis), and the gigantic leaf-mimic katydids of the genus Microcentrum. The mammals of the Central Highlands are, for the most part, at the peak of their year. Food is abundant, and most species are not under any real food or water stress, so it’s now that the contests for mates begin. Mule and White-tailed deer, Elk, and Pronghorn all begin their annual rut in September after their antlers and horns are fully grown. This period is defined by male competition

for females and territories. Fighting, scentmarking, and treemarking are common. Coyotes, foxes, and porcupines are also finding mates and breeding. Sensing the shortening days, other mammals, such as squirrels and chipmunks, are stashing food for the coming cold season. Some species of birds start to migrate into our area from the north toward the end of the month, and we’ll see species that we haven’t seen in numbers since spring. Violet-green and Northern Roughwinged swallows can be found in large numbers during this time, though they’ll have continued their travels by mid-October. Hummingbirds and warblers, mostly in fall plumage, will pass us as they fly south. Look, also, for the earliest migrant hawks from the north, including Ferruginous, Swainson’s, and some very early Rough-legged hawks.


A mantis, species unknown.Photo by Ty Fitzmorris.

***** Ty Fitzmorris is an itinerant and often distractible naturalist who lives in Prescott and runs Peregrine Book Company and Raven Café as a sideline to his natural history pursuits. Contact him at Ty@ PeregrineBookCompany.Com.

A very brief survey of what’s happening in the wilds ... High mountains

• Coyotes begin courting and can be seen running in pairs. • Elk breeding season begins, and sometimes the resonant bugling of male elk can be heard in wilder areas. • Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandezi) young leave their parents and disperse. These specialist ant-eating lizards rarely drink water but, during these wet periods, they can be seen standing in small pools. A close look will reveal that water flows from their feet up to their mouths, in between their scales, drawn by capillary action. As the lizard’s body pulses, the water is pumped upward. Visit: Spruce Mountain Loop Trail, No. 307.

Ponderosa Pine forests

• Some needles on Ponderosas start to turn orange and are shed. Healthy Ponderosas lose nearly 40 percent of their needles every autumn. Even though this type of needle loss can be rapid, it doesn’t necessarily indicate health problems. The vanillabutterscotch odor of the Ponderosa is at its peak now — smell in the furrows of the bark. • Young Abert’s Squirrels (Sciurus aberti) leave their parents and establish their own territories. Visit: Schoolhouse Gulch Trail, No. 67.

Pine-Oak woodlands

• Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) begin their rut. Males can sometimes be seen sparring, and territorial marking, such as rubbed spots on saplings, are easily found. • Mushrooms continue “flowering,” especially in areas with downed, wet wood. It’s during this time that most wood decomposition takes place with their aid. • Four-o-clocks (genus Mirabilis), the most conspicuous of our monsoon plants, begin flowering on rocky slopes. • Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus) bears its seeds. The long, spiral seeds burrow actively into the soil when they fall, both as a method for self-planting and fire-avoidance. Visit: Little Granite Mountain Trail, No. 37.

Pinyon-Juniper woodlands

• Feathered Fingergrass (Chloris virgata), a distinctive, hand-like native grass, appears now in many habitats and bearing its seeds. • Praying mantids can be seen hunting in grasses. Visit: Tin Trough Trail, No. 308.


• Pronghorns begin their short breeding season with males beginning their rut. During this time, males fight for dominance and winners will gather together a harem of females.

• Yellow and purple asters abound along with sunflowers. • Grasshoppers, our primary grass herbivores, reach their final, winged life-stage, and many species can be found in different microhabitats. Visit: Mint Wash Trail, No. 345.

creeks and drainages. • Katydids, large-winged relatives of grasshoppers, fly in riparian galleries. These are some of the best leaf-mimics among the insects. Visit: Lower Wolf Creek Falls Trail, No. 384.

Riparian areas

• Paintbrushes (genus Castilleja) bear their bean-like seed-pods. These beautiful plants are unusual in that they are hemiparasites — plants that draw nutrients out of other plants but also perform some photosynthesis of their own. Visit: Agua Fria National Monument.

• Young North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) leave their home territories and disperse into new habitats thus reoccupying their former range. • Our annual explosion of cicadas continues bringing ear-shattering noise to the Central Highlands. Even though this species, Tibicen cultriformis, is ubiquitous to us, it’s only found in the Central Highlands. These cicadas live for several years underground, feeding on tree roots, and only appear to us at the very end of their lives when they stop feeding altogether, grow wings, and call to each other to attract mates. • Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) can be sometimes seen toward the end of the month as they begin their long migration south following



Shorthorned Lizard. Photo by Ty Fitzmorris.


YCPAC hopes to to parlay renovation into innovation

Have a seat

Photos & story by James Dungeon


Randy Mayes first suggested new seating for the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, he couldn’t help but chuckle at the reaction. “Some people said, ‘Those seats are OK — they only need to be cleaned,’” says Mayes, who took over as the facility’s director in August 2012. “I just smiled and thought to myself they were all just cleaned last year.” Wear and tear take their toll. The seats, like the rest of the performance hall, hadn’t been updated since the facility opened in 1992. “Twenty years is kind of a magic number when it comes to renovations on a performing arts center,” said Mayes, who hails from Michigan but has worked all over the country. “We’re right on time — actually, with 21 years, maybe even a little late.” The majority of the renovation project — which also includes two new concession areas and upgrades to existing kitchen and concession facilities — comes in at roughly $800,000. Work by GLHN Architects and Engineers and Haley Construction began during a three-week closure earlier this year, was halted for the Prescott Film Festival and the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, then resumed with a six-week closure. The bulk of renovations are track to end just in time for a

Sept. 21 Lonely Street Productions performance. “There are lots of other things: We’ve redone stage, audio booth, and kitchen prep areas, too,” Mayes says. “But those seats, that’s what people will notice first.” Colors and creature comforts One of the things Mayes took away from marketing classes was that, when you’re doing research, there should always be a surprise. “The seat color — that was a surprise,” he says. “I’m pleased with it, but I’ll be honest, it was not my first choice.” After the renovation project was approved, Mayes and architect Brian Hagedon, of GLHN, culled a swatch book down to eight samples, spilled water and soda on them to test durability, then sought input from others. “This one is the winner, the people’s choice chair, I guess you could say,” Mayes says indicat-

TOP: Chair prototypes are on display in the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center lobby. BOTTOM: Other performance hall areas are getting facelifts, too.


ing a dark seat with patterned upholstery. Green’s out. Red’s in. The other prototype, with brighter red fabric and extra cushioning is for the balcony suites. Before the renovation, the performance hall seated 1132 people. Afterward, it’ll seat 1105 — a concession to comfort and practicality over maximum occupancy. “We’ve got a center isle now,”

Mayes says. “That means if you’re late, you can sneak in more quietly, or even leave and head out to the lobby without as much of a fuss.” Construction crews have also releveled the floor and carved out a larger, flat niche for the audio booth. “That may not seem like a big deal, but you used to have to carry equipment in over seats and had to set up on a slope,” Mayes says. “We’ve thrown out a bunch of chairs with sawed off legs. That’s what crews did so they could sit down without having to lean forward for an entire show.” Add new stage battens with electric pulleys into the mix, and Mayes says it won’t just be easier to see a show at the Yavapai Performing Arts Center; it’ll be easier to stage one. Momentum and diversification In March, during the thirdannual Buckey Awards, the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center was named Outstanding Arts Organization of the year. During his

acceptance speech on behalf of the Performing Arts Center, Mayes paid homage to a vocal jazz standard. “The best is yet to come,” he said. It’s a bold statement, but one Mayes backs up with figures. “We have some 26 major events this year including our National Touring and Broadway series and our Professional Artists series,” Mayes says. “And, with the help of the kitchen renovations, have something like 22 pre-show dinners this year. Last year we had maybe seven.” A performing arts center can’t stand still he asserts. “You’re either growing old and becoming outdated or you’re looking to the future,” Mayes says, adding, “Part of our success lies in serving different niche audiences.” In addition to sizing up the Verde Valley, Cottonwood, Clarkdale, and the elusive Flagstaff market, he’s keeping an eye on northern Phoenix. “We have a good shot at those northern suburbs,” Mayes says. “You know how long it takes to get to places on the opposite side of Phoenix. It takes the same amount of time to get here, and it’s a lot less hassle and a lot less expensive.” As Mayes eyes some of the largest headliners the performance hall has landed to date, he’s also arranging more cabaret-style shows and expanding the School Matinee series. The latter of these is the key to grooming new audiences, he says. “Already, this last season, we’ve added a lot of new (school) names to the roster,” Mayes says. “That’s where the next generation of people who support the arts and attend shows at performing arts centers will come from.” ‘The Disneyland approach’ Mayes couldn’t be happier about the Performing Arts Center renovations. (OK, the jackhammering took a little longer than expected and was a lot louder than he thought it would going to be.) Still, he says, upgraded facilities

are only part of a larger narrative. “I like to call it ‘the Disneyland approach,’” Mayes says. “People want to come to a place, to step outside their normal world and feel special and attended to.” Every inconvenience draws you out of that experience and back into the real world. Maintaining that illusion has been a challenge at a facility that only has two concession stands, only one of which serves alcohol — a limited service quietly launched last year. “I lost count of the times I saw lines all the way to the back of the auditorium,” Mayes says. “I watched people get tired and leave, and I thought about all those lost sales.” Ergo a new Yava Java and new bar upstairs and a major bar renovation downstairs, the latter of which won’t be ready until late November. “To handle alcohol sales well in a university setting, you need to be discreet, separate, and tasteful,” Mayes says. “We want people who drink to feel at home, but we want people who don’t drink to feel at home, too. That’s why those three words are so important and why we’re taking the time to do it right.” Regardless, Mayes says, the focus has to be on customer service. “My staff is probably sick of hearing this, but we have to lessen the hassle factor,” Mayes says. “I’m very proud of how we’ve done so far … We’re growing and evolving, and I think we haven’t topped out yet. There’s still more to do and I look forward to doing it.” ***** The Yavapai College Performing Arts Center is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 21 for “Blues in the Night,” a Lonely Street Productions show. Visit YCPAC.Com for more information and a calendar of events. James Dungeon is a figment of his own imagination. And he likes cats. Contact him at JamesDungeonCats@Gmail.Com.

FROM TOP: These 21-year-olds seats, which were pulled from the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center in midAugust, are now at Mile High Middle School; a crew buffs, cleans, and relevels the performance hall floor on Aug. 14 prior to new seat installation; Shawn Dixon jackhammers space for swinging doors on Aug. 7 at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center.


Rusty gates & falling leaves


say decay like it’s a bad thing. Just about every organic thing that’s ever been or will ever be undergoes decomposition — even you. So why revile it? Why, excuse the pun, refuse it? Sure, it’s convenient to harangue a process that literally describes and metaphorically refers to the decline and diminishing of a stable entity. But, at



Sound decay is, in essence, a simple matter of physics. You can stop or sustain sound with physical matter that absorbs the vibrations that your ears translates into sound. Just how you want to manipulate those sound waves depends on what you’re listening to, though. Classical music, for instance, benefits from long reverberation times, and hence less sound absorption. Rock and pop music, on the other hand, rely on amplifiers that sound muddy unless their reverberation times are shortened. It used to be that performance halls had removable sound insulators, but that may soon become obsolete. New technology unveiled at the 21st International Congress on Acoustics held in June in Montreal promises permanently installed devices that inflate (and deflate) to accommodate different decay rates. Certified measurements of Flex Acoustics’ inflated apparatus show the material can lower reverberation times by up to nearly 45 percent across the relevant octaves for rock and pop music. No word yet on what it does for polka, power noise, or power polka.

Every year, as temperatures drop and the weather turns, deciduous trees loose and lose their leaves. Elementary (and elementary school) science tells us that chlorophyll is responsible for their vibrant, verdant shades, but what about that rainbow of colors that follows? The answer is in the soil: Leaves that turn red may indicate low nitrogen levels. At least that’s the result of a study of sweetgum and red maple trees in North Carolina published as a press release in 2007 by the Geological Society of America. When


its core, decay is a process of transformation by which the very components of life are repurposed and reincarnated. Like most things in life (and death), it’s a matter of perspective. If you need an attitude adjustment on the subject of decay, science has you covered. The factoids sprinkled throughout this guide are the results of genuine, bona fide scientific research. They have, however, been simplified to ease consumption by the casual reader (and to ease writing by the casual writer). If you’ve got a question about this or that datum, it’s up to you to crawl the Interwebs in search of an answer. Or open a book, assuming you can find one that’s not passed its shelf life. You experience the world through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Why not submit those five senses to the inexorable march of time to better understand decomposition?

stressed by changing seasons, some trees appear to produce more red pigments, aka anthocyanins, thus shielding their vulnerable leaves from sunlight and facilitating better nutrient absorption. Despite refrigeration and preservatives, lots of foods spoil. While some of the microorganisms that dine on your dinner alter its appearance, either mechanically or chemically, others are relatively clandestine. That makes it hard to know if certain foods are OK to eat before you bite into them, at which

point it may be too late. You’ve got a friend in technology though, specifically food packaging sensor films that change color as food spoils. In 2011, the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies announced the creation of a sensor film that changes from yellow to blue when amines from rotting food reach toxic levels. This is especially good news for people with impaired sniffers: Amines are the same molecules responsible for the foul smell of rotting meat and fish.

Touch All it takes to turn iron into rust is water and oxygen. Yes, that grainy, tell-tale sign of weathering — iron oxide, aka Fe2O3, aka junkyard shabby chic — is so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to find pure iron in nature. Even the world’s largest iron ore deposits, which are in South Africa and Australia, are mostly an amalgam of various iron oxides. Here’s the problem: There wasn’t any oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere to turn ferrous iron into iron oxide during the time they were made. So how did it get there? The classic model fingers cy-

anobacteria, aka blue-green algae, as the oxidizer, but there was no smoking gun and the case went cold. The source of the world’s biggest rust pile remained a mystery until April, when University of Tübingen researchers published a paper in Nature that shows how iron-oxidizing microbes had the ability and window of opportunity to consume and process ferrous iron into iron oxide, not cyanobacteria. That’s the kind of plot twist that, unlike the latter half of “The Devil’s Advocate,” clears a lot of things up.

COUNTERCLOCKWISE, FROM LEFT: A strawberry fruit shows rot symptoms, photo by Clemson University; a mixed patch of trees along Boynton Canyon Trail, near Sedona, sports a rainbow of colors, although it’s pretty hard to tell because this photo is running in black and white, photo by John Menard; a compost pile lets off some steam, photo by Andrew Dunn; a scrap pile in Berlin, photo by S. Müller; all photos Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 2.5.

Smell Ideally, compost shouldn’t smell like death and decay. Although a pile of rotting this-and-that seems like a likely candidate for olfactory offense, a healthy outdoor compost pile simply smells earthy. The three keys to proper composting are maintaining a proper carbonto-nitrogen ratio, good aeration, and adequate moisture, according to Jeff Schalau, associate agent at University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and author of a 2008 “Backyard Gardner” column on the subject. Too much nitrogen leads to an ammonia smell and not

enough aeration leads to a rotten egg smell. Without a proper balance and ecosystem within a compost pile, the jig is up, and the decomposition ballet turns into a day at the dump. As summer turns to fall, there’ll be plenty of leaves to burn or bag — but don’t do that. Instead, use them as carbon fuel for a compost pile. It’s difficult to get enough nitrogen to complement a large number of leaves, though, which is why Schalau recommends adding nitrogen fertilizer between leaf layers to ensure a well-adjusted compost pile.

Taste Any cheesemonger or cheese aficionado can attest to complex flavor imbued by or derived from mold. Still, according to the Mayo Clinic, at least, you should stay away from molds that spread through soft cheeses — they’re breeding grounds for listeria, brucella, salmonella, and E. coli. This precaution doesn’t, of course, apply to brie or Camembert, both of which require mold to make in the first place. And could you imagine

Roquefort cheese without mold? Still, it’s better to err on the side of caution unless you’re familiar with the character of the cheese in question. As far as eating moldy cheese goes, there’s a lot of gray area. Incidentally, eating cheese is probably good for your teeth. Cheese and other dairy products raise the pH level in your mouth, which helps protect your enamel, according to research published in the May/June issue of

General Dentistry. The elevated pH levels may have resulted from increased saliva production caused by chewing, but researchers haven’t ruled out the possibility of cheese compounds that adhere to tooth enamel and protect teeth from acid. And that’s the tooth.


Skyward By Ty Fitzmorris


Night skies

Average high temp: 81.8 F, +/-2.9 Average low temp: 48.7 F, +/-3.2 Record high temp: 98 F, 1948 Record low temp: 26 F, 1903 Average precipitation: 1.7”, +/-1.5” Record high September precipitation: 10.02”, 1983 Record low September precipitation: 0”, 1901, 1953, 1959, 1968, 1973, and 2000 Max daily precipitation: 3.08”, Sept. 24, 1960

Sept. 6: New moon at 3:36 a.m. Sept. 8: Rare triple conjunction of the Moon, Saturn, and Venus. All three celestial bodies will be visible in the western sky for about two hours after sunset. Sept. 17: Very near conjunction of Saturn and Venus, also to the west, just after sunset, between Libra and Virgo. Sept. 19: Full moon at 3:13 a.m. Sept. 22: Autumnal Equinox at 12:44 p.m. The sun will set almost exactly to the west this evening and, everywhere on Earth, day and night will be of equal length. Highlight: The great square of Pegasus will become prominent later in the month. The stars Sheat, Algenib, Alpheratz, and Markab, which form a rough square, can be seen directly overhead mid-month at 10:30 p.m.


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Hard decisions

Diagnosis: Technology With Paolo Chlebecek By Paolo Chlebecek


computer crashed and now it won’t start!” I hear this weekly. Any day you lose your information to the mysterious minions of data is a bad day. But rejoice: You’ve got options. First, you need to understand why computers fail. Specifically, you need to understand why hard drives — where all of your precious pictures and documents reside — fail. Computers have several main components: a motherboard, a power supply, and a processor. They’ve also got memory and storage devices like hard drives. Power supplies and processors have fans that can fail, but a hard drives’ mechanical components can fail, too.


of your hard drive like a

record player; it’s a spinning disc with an arm that pinpoints information. Only the disc in your computer, called a platter, spins at least 5,400 rpm. (Some spin nearly three times that.) The arm that reads the data has to move fast enough to retrieve information from the magnetic head even though it never actually touches the disc. Such arms are mechanical and, like all mechanical devices, wear out. Moreover, since the average hard drive is only 2.5-3.5 inches wide and less than 1 inch tall, it builds up more heat than can dissipate through its metal casing. Heat destroys many things and, over time, causes ware and failure. I have — and hate — to say this every day, but most electronic devices made since the early 2000s are only engineered to last three to five years. That includes your computer and its internal components of all kinds. Some people refer to

this as “planned obsolescence.”


what if your hard drive fails? What can you do? There are several recovery software programs you can use if the mechanics on the drive are still intact. This is especially helpful when you accidentally delete something or even when you’ve got a serious system corruption. If your hard drive is mechanically impaired — OK, dead — there’s still hope. Ever seen a movie where scientists work in a sterile environment with hoses that go to the ceiling from their sealed suits? That’s not far from the completely dust-free environments called clean rooms that are required to open the drive, safely remove the platters, and put them into a similar device to retrieve your precious data. Hard drive recovery starts at about $700. It can go up to $9,000 for drives that require a clean room

— but sometimes that’s the only way to recover irreplaceable data. The lesson here is simple: back up your computer to avoid a (really) costly failure. Most businesses have redundant drives and several local cloud or online backups to prevent just such a loss. Paying for a backup solution may cost some money now, but paying to recover your data later will probably cost a lot more. Tune in next time to find out about a hard drive that has no moving parts and an average lifespan of 1 million hours — i.e. 114 years. ***** Paolo Chlebecek is founder and owner of PaoloTek, which he started in 2003. He enjoys technology of all kinds and, in his spare time, likes to go on adventures with his wife and four-legged children. Contact him at Paolo@PaoloTek.Com.

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The myth of Sassafras By Gene Twaronite Long before science, humans sat around campfires and spun tales about how various plants and animals came into being. While our evidence-based knowledge has largely supplanted these stories, that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy them. Take sassafras, for example. According to scientists, it’s a deciduous tree in the laurel family native to eastern North America and central China. It can be easily identified because some of its leaves are lobed, like mittens or fingers. Now I’m sure there’s some perfectly logical scientific explanation for why its leaves are shaped that way. But first, sit back and let me tell you a tale.

gone? So far as he knew, his rock had never moved anywhere, even during the Ice Ages. Then he happened to look up at the summit of Mount Futilius and saw a small bump on top that he’d never noticed before. It had the same shape as his rock. Curious and confused, he set off for the foot of the mountain. As he did so, he heard a giggle from somewhere up above.


Futilius soared many thousands of feet above the valley, so it was hours before Sassafras reached the summit. And there was his rock, perched on the edge of a precipice. Relieved though puzzled to see it there, he flopped down on its thick mossy carpet and was just about to take a nap when he noticed how cold it was. This won’t do at all, he thought. His rock needed to be back at the edge of the woods where it belonged. There was only one thing to do. If only he could get it to move. The rock was awfully big, but Sassafras had the strength of an ox. He pushed and he pushed with all his might. After what seemed like an eternity, the rock began to budge until, finally, it tipped over the edge and rolled down the mountainside. Descending as fast as he could, Sassafras prayed his rock was all right. Upon reaching the valley, he noticed a wide swath of crushed shrubs and grass. Anxiously he followed the path until, at last, he found his rock. He couldn’t believe his eyes. For there was not a scratch on it and all its mossy carpet was intact as if nothing had happened. It was in the exact same spot where it had always been nestled against the ferny woods. He plopped down upon its great granite bosom

“Sisyphyus” detail inverted, unless you’re reading this, then right-side-up. Painting by Franz Stuck, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

loved his rock. It was the joy of his life — his thing, the fulfillment of his very existence. There was nothing he’d rather do than sit atop its mossy throne and sip his morning coffee. But one morning, the gods decided to play a trick on him (as gods so often do). They plucked his beloved rock from the edge of the ferny woods and, just like that, set it on top of Mount Futilius. Then they peered over the edge of their cloud and watched. When Sassafras arrived at the woods that morning, his rock was gone. There was only a deep impression where it had rested. Frantically, he searched every corner of the woods and fields and each street in the village. Where could it have

and fell instantly asleep lulled by the gentle rustle of wind through the trees. The sun was already low in the sky when he awoke. He trudged on home, secure in the knowledge his rock was back where it should be.


morning, humming softly while sipping his coffee, he came to the woods and was just about to sit down when he noticed something. Again, his rock was gone. And from up above he heard that same giggle, though this time it was louder. ...

CONTINUED ONLINE @ TheTwaroniteZone.Com © Gene Twaronite 2013 ***** Gene Twaronite’s writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and magazines. He is the author of “The Family That Wasn’t,” “My Vacation in Hell,” and “Dragon Daily News.” Follow Gene at TheTwaroniteZone.Com.



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