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Fall/Winter 2009

santa claus is coming to town

schoolhouse holiday

great month to be a griz

oh, the drama

brightly colored packages flies on every angler’s wish list

ad

missoula’s dueling hamlets join forces

november’s winning tradition

m

provence comes to the ninemile

e gi -inft m in gu on sid id ta e e na

western montana’s all decked out for the holidays




missoula.com magazine


missoula.com magazine




letter from the editor

W

e gather near during these dark months of the year, and in that embrace find the light and warmth of community. The glow of children’s faces in the candlelight on Christmas Eve. The laughter around the table on Thanksgiving Day. The hopes and hurrahs of a new year. For this edition of Missoula.com magazine, we’ve looked to those traditions and themes for inspiration – to share with you our community’s stories and scenes from the holidays, past and present. You’ll find some familiar, some a surprise, and all a testament to the love and goodwill of our families and friends. Michael Moore’s story on the new owners and evolving traditions at the little yellow schoolhouse on Ninemile Road brought back a flood of memories from my own children’s growing-up years, bundling up and trundling out to the Ninemile in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Always, there was the stop for shopping and catching-up with Les and Hanneke Ippisch at the Ninemile Schoolhouse, where their handmade nativity scenes were a family favorite. Then came the trip farther – sometimes farther than was prudent! – up the road for a trek into the woods in search of a Christmas tree. Then back down to the Ninemile House for hot chocolate and a big meal. Now, of course, the children are dispersed and the traditions are changing, both at my home and at the little schoolhouse, where Kurt Cyr is adding his distinctive touch to the holidays. I imagine whole new generations of families trundling out to Cyr’s markets, then on up the hill and into the woods for a hand-picked tree or an afternoon of sledding. So, too, came the memories evoked by photography editor Kurt Wilson’s photo essay and its scenes from across western Montana: the lighted tepee at the People’s Center in Pablo, the funky Santa piloting a car on Missoula’s Northside, the little homemade manger scene (and its blue-haired baby doll) in Charlo. Out came the reminiscences of holidays gone by. And, of course, what would be November and December in Missoula without Grizzly football – those brutal end-of-season, then playoffseason bouts that define University of Montana players and fans as the nation’s best? We turned to Kim Briggeman, a longtime sportswriter for the Missoulian before he drifted over into the newsroom a few years back, for a look at UM’s remarkable history of success in November. He delivered, big time! From the not-so-good old days at Dornblaser Stadium – that’s out on South Higgins, for those of you newcomers! – to the winning ways that followed the move to Washington-Grizzly, Kim not only documented the success, but offered a explanation or two (or three). We look forward to hearing your thoughts, as well. And, of course, we’ve got beautiful table settings for those of you planning holiday get-togethers, and wine and beer reviews, and arts and crafts, and theatrical performances galore. And fishing! Missoulian sports editor Bob Meseroll has the must-read fly-fisherman’s wish list for all you holiday shoppers, while Daryl Gadbow has a lovely ode to brook trout. I want to end with a note of thanks, as one of my favorite things about these months of the year is the reflection and gratitude they inspire. I am honored to work with an incredibly talented group of writers, photographers, designers and artists who genuinely care about our community and its people and places – and the publications through which we tell their stories. I thank each and every one of you for your dedication and devotion. And to you, our readers, I offer a thousand thanks. For joining us on this journey. For so graciously allowing us into your lives. For “being” Missoula. May the holidays, and the year to come, bring you peace.

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bookmark it! The reindeer games continue online. get festive! Arts and entertainment writer Joe Nickell will keep you partying through the dark months on his blog, NickellBag.com. Drama! Dance! Movies! Books! Music! Madness!

the sporting life! We’ve got blogs, webcasts and blow-by-blow – literally! – coverage of University of Montana and prep sports online at Missoulian.com, GrizBlitz. com, GrizPawBlog.com and ProsAndPreps.com.

high-octane brews! Those beer-loving Montana legislators have approved the brewing – and selling and drinking – of “big beers” and our in-house beer blogger has the big job of sampling the new wares. Check out the news at Tim Akimoff’s GrizzlyGrowler.com.

moms and babes! We’re pretty sure your holidays will be merrier if you join in the conversation (and commiserating) at Tyler Christensen’s blog for Missoula moms and families, MissoulaMom.com.

lift a glass! Join wine writer Kate Murphy in celebrating the wines of the season, one glass at a time! She’s ready with news of tastings, tributes and new releases on her blog, KnowYourVino.com.

snowy wonders! But what we really think you should do is to get outside into the wintertime audacity of western Montana. We’re here to help – at MontanaAdventurer. com/blog and at MontanaWinterSports.com. It’s all downhill from here!


Missoula 1603 Brooks st 406.543.8224 800.288.8948 pierceflooring.com

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missoula.com is is the the flagship flagship magazine magazine missoula.com of the missoulian newspaper of the missoulian newspaper

publisher stacey mueller publisher john vanstrydonck editor sherry devlin editor sherry devlin art director director kate art katemurphy murphy assistantart art director director mike assistant mikelake lake photo editor editor kurt photo kurtwilson wilson sales & marketing advertising director director kristen bounds jim mcgowan online director jim mcgowan writers tim akimoff writers tim akimoff kim briggeman betsy cohen betsyflorio cohen gwen vince devlin daryl gadbow daryl gadbow lori grannis bob meseroll michael jamison michael moore bob meseroll michael moore kate murphy kate murphy joe nickell joe nickell greg patent greg patent photographers jodi tomrave bauer vince devlin linda thompson photographers tom bauer kurt wilson michael gallacher

linda thompson

graphic design kurt diann kelly wilson megan richter graphic design diann chris kelly sawicki megan richter

sawicki advertising sales chris jacque walawander youa vang 523-5271

advertisingAvailable sales jacque walawander distribution in more than 160 racks in western Missoula.com magazine is a natural 523-5271 Montana, extension for people who read and rely on the Missoulian newspaper. Reaching 80,000 to 90,000 readers daily, long been .recognized as the most in-depth source the Missoulian has distribution Available in more than 160 thorough, racks in western Montana, of news in western magazine takes this Missoula.com magazineMontana. is a naturalMissoula.com extension for people who read and relyaward-winning on the coveragenewspaper. Reaching another step, showing off tothe very best of daily, Missoula in wordshas andlong Missoulian 80,000 90,000 readers the Missoulian photographs. Bythe capitalizing on thein-depth Missoulian’s throughout the region been recognized as most thorough, source presence of news in western Montana. and utilizingmagazine its established chain of distribution, Missoula.com magazine and Missoula.com takes this award-winning coverage another step, showing off Missoula.com Web site reachand more readers inBy more placeson than other such the very best of Missoula in words photographs. capitalizing the any Missoulian’s publication in western Montana. presence throughout the region and utilizing its established chain of distribution, Missoula. com magazine and Missoula.com Web site reach more readers in more places than any No such part of the publication may be reprinted without permission. other publication in western Montana.

©2009 Lee Enterprises, all rights reserved. Printed in the USA.

No part of the publication may be reprinted without permission. ©2007 Lee Enterprises, all rights reserved. Printed in the USA.

on the cover:

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus ... and he’s behind

on the the wheelcover: of a 1955 Chevrolet wagon filled with lights and presents,

Ryan Springer pedalsofalong the Clark Fork River with anaughty deliveryand of nice. cruising the streets Missoula checking out who’s Le Petit Outre breads bound for downtown Missoula restaurants.

 

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photo by kurt wilson

cover photo by linda thompson


Summer 07

Fall 2007

Winter 2007

Spring 2008

m a g a z i n e

breaking bread, building community

omelettes with flair

uptown blight to urban bright

missoula bakeries fulfilling a knead.

 M icon spices up U back to school

paris of the west

downtown missoula frames its future with confidence

a guide’s life for me

in downtown missoula

with missoula’s champion geocachers

on the rivers of western montana

fall fly box

boutiques abound

missoula’s personal training boom

test your griz iq

nymphs and wulffs galore

baby boomers just wanna be buff

downtown missoula gets savvy

gridiron facts for um fans missoula.com magazine

Summer 2008



drawn together

downhill for decades

celebrate the season

fit for royalty

women meet to share art, life

boots and caps for wintry days

missoula was home to state’s first ski resort

bake a swedish princess torte

INSIDE

on the trail of techie treasure

a walk through history

in the hills of montana

INSIDE

pick me a huckleberry

INSIDE

INSIDE

Our city is full of writers. The question is why?

food fit for a star

taking the show on the road

there’s a new chef in town

montana repertory theatre turns 40

garden city missoula

at the source

the legacy behind our nickname

playing in missoula’s backyard whitewater

Fall 2008 Spring 2009

rebirth on the northside

Summer 2009

folfing missoula

disc golfers take to the hills

the stensrud building’s fresh lease on life

room with a view

the new eastside expansion

26.2

runners hit the streets for missoula’s big race

when rock was young vulcans, missoula’s first pop band

shuttle to the sun

escape to glacier national park

bottom of the sixth

osprey’s peanut gallery fans create traditions

montana ghost signs

faces of the poverello

something to howl about

from 90210 to 59801

driven wild

an apple a day

twelfth season success

one step at a time

native to missoula

missoula’s homeless share their stories

orchardists harvest a bumper crop

coyote choir records with the stars

hockey league smashes all barriers

a missoula lawyer’s wild ride

mayor engen’s skinny story

a photographer’s journal from the road

dedicating space to contemporary native art

the sound of summer

the writing life

serving exercise and fitness

endangered species

western montanans love music in the out-of-doors

sarrah carlson is champion of tennis

missoula’s community of writers welcomes a new generation

phone booths as memories of bygone days

fitting reminders of days gone by missoula.com magazine

missoula.com magazine






vol.3 no.4

inside this issue

contents fall/winter 2009 “There was nothing commercial about it, we just wanted the village to look a little more festive.� page 34

34

54



46

42

58

64

in season

all year long

34 42 46 54 58 64

9 10 14 20 22 26 30 78

bigfork: christmas village a ninemile christmas scenes of christmas: a photo essay a touch of glass hitting pay dirt, every november dueling hamlets

missoula.com magazine

the way we were holiday tablescapes know your vino and your beer missoula cooks on the fly flybox wish list parting shot


the way we were

1932 roxy ride

Lifelong friends Mary Leaphart (Carter), left, and Virginia Lou Walters (Foster) ski behind Leaphart’s horse, “Roxy,” in Missoula’s Rattlesnake Valley in 1932. The rides were often bumpy and unpredictable as Leaphart guided the horse down snowy roads. “People had to give us a wide berth,” Leaphart says. “There were not a lot of cars being driven on the snow in those days.”

photo courtesy of mary ann albee

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a TABLE FIT for a

King photos by Kurt Wilson

10

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Create new traditions with a one-of-a-kind table setting that includes accessories, decorations and a centerpiece that will make your holiday table distinctive and fill your holiday meal with a festive – and royal! – holiday spirit. Fleur-de-lis hand-carved maple table, $4,000; glass acorn tree ornaments with copper beading, $10 each; embellished large diamond crystal flatware serving for four, $550; handmade Italian balloon wine glasses with pewter stems, $69 each; Italian brushed pewter charger plates, $198 each; hand-painted linen dinner plates from Portugal, $24 each; hand-painted linen soup bowl from Portugal, $20 each; 39inch silver-brushed antler table centerpiece, $135; one-quart round and oval copper chafing dishes, $138 each; glass finial with mercury finish, $42 each; glass hurricane vase with pewter stem, $278; silver fleur-de-lis and pineapple decorative balls, $19.50 each; Swarovski crystal fleur-de-lis wine stopper, $87.50. La Bella Vita, 132 N. Higgins Ave., Missoula

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During the hectic holiday season, keep your sanity by keeping it simple. Simple becomes sumptuous with layered linens, ďŹ ne glassware, extravagant flowers and candlelight in this late-night soup buffet. Perfect after an evening at the theatre gathering with friends. Tureen, $59.95; Bohemian stemware, $11.95 each; burlap runner, $72.95; Yves Delorme linen table cloth, $120; Strawberry Street soup bowl, $7.95; Strawberry Street appetizer plate, $6.95; candelabra, $73.95; Hencle flatware, $99 for 20-piece set; French Country napkins, $7.95 each; French Country basket, $24.99. Red Rooster Trading, 333 N. Higgins Ave., Missoula

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This setting for two is a reflection of the simplicity and functionality we crave in a world where less is the new more. Clean lines and bright colors mingled with natural elements breathe fresh air into the design concept. In a modern economy where we are very thoughtful about our purchases, we need to know there is integrity in what we bring into our homes, yet without sacriďŹ cing beauty. Sagaform fondue set, $55; Sagaform shaker, $42; Sagaform tapas tray, $22; nest candle, $36; Teroforma whiskey glass, $27; Teroforma whiskey stones, $21; Chilewich placemats, $12; Alex Marshall dish set, $110; ZuoMod wire chair, $180; Nuevo Living walnut table, $1,350; Nuevo Living pendant lamp, $125. House Design Studio, 133 N. Higgins Ave., Missoula

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know your vino

celebrated honey wine by kate murphy photos by kurt wilson

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ead, the ancient elixir, is often referred to as the “nectar of gods.” And right now, this heady concoction is enjoying a renaissance here in Montana – which is perfect timing, as it just may be the perfect libation for holiday revelry. The mere mention of the word mead might conjure up visions of warriors singing rowdy songs into the night, their drinking vessels swaying high in the air to celebrate victories and cement alliances.

It was during these medieval times that mead was believed to sharpen eyesight and promote longevity, strength, courage and endurance. Poets claimed that it inspired verses, and for the newly wedded it was a renowned aphrodisiac. Couples consumed honey and mead for the lunar month spanning the wedding; hence the word “honeymoon.” Heady as it may be, it takes mere mortals to create the ambrosia of today – something to which Ken Schultz can attest. At the Hidden Legend




   

In exchange for a case of wine, a Canadian artist, using a friend as the model, designed the label for Hidden Legend. They have named the Viking Thörvald. Winery in Victor, Ken and his wife Lisa, along with sons Pat and Joe, are dedicated to making premium honey wines. Their homespun recipes consist of only three ingredients: 100-percent Montana-made honey, yeast and water, with some of the meads being flavored with fruit and spices. To make these meads, the Schultzes start with a 55-gallon drum of solid honey

and slowly warm it to create a liquid. The honey is then pumped into a steel tank and water is added, along with special yeasts chosen by Ken. In 10 to 12 days, it begins to ferment. After the first month, the sugars settle and they rack the wine (siphon the wine off the sugar/sediments). In the second month, they allow the wine to settle in the

continued on page 17

 



 

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Keeping with the tradition of mead wine, each bottle is sealed with a wax coating over the cork. Hidden Legend uses different colors of wax to designate particular flavors of the wine.

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Celebrated Honey Wine ...continued from page 15

Saturday, December 5, 2009 Downtown’s Official Holiday Kick-Off!

tank, allowing it to become more clear. By the end of the second month, they filter the wine into an empty tank. During the third month, they allow the wine to sit in the tank and de-gas, releasing the carbon dioxide. Finally, in the fourth month, they bottle it and let it rest before putting it on the shelves.

N

ot having consumed much mead in my life, I assumed it would be syrupy and teeth-achingly sweet. After all, it is called honey wine. Not so in the case of Hidden Legend meads. They range from dry to semi-sweet. Many meads have about 10 percent unfermented sugar, but Hidden Legend meads run only about 2 percent residual sugar. Currently they are producing six different types, so I’d venture to guess that you can find something to please just about anyone during the holidays.

PHOTOS WITH SANTA free family activities all day MACY’S PARADE OF LIGHTS lighting of the downtown christmas tree HOLIDAY SHOPPING OPEN LATE!

visit www.missouladowntown.com for full schedule of events • 543.4238

 Pure Honey Mead: The flavor is pleasantly sweet, yet well balanced, opening with a spice and floral component, followed by light minerality, ending with a pleasant honey finish.

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Lisa Schultz puts labels on bottles of mead about 1,000 bottles a day with the hand-

Real wood floors.

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 Dark Mead: Richer in style than the pure honey, this had more earthy characteristics and yeasty flavors. There was a good balance of honey with overtones of clover and ripe orange. This mead most resembled beer for me and would be a soothing elixir to warm the extremities after a brisk walk.  Wild Elderberry Mead: This was my favorite of the varietals, resembling a port wine. The flavors of the mead – nuts, toffee and, of course, honey – are accented by the light and floral quality of the elderberries.  Spiced Mead: The honey is lifted by ripe pear, spice, cinnamon and tea-leaf flavors. A large goblet in hand, curled up in front of the fire, it will be difficult not to wax poetic while quaffing this wine.  Huckleberry Mead: Palate is full of fruit, berry and honey. There is a mild, subtle, cherry-like character with notes of vanilla.

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 Chokecherry Mead: Honey is married with notes of juniper wood, berry and cherry.


recently at the Victor winery. She can label cranked machine.

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eads pair with a variety of dishes, from authentic Alsatian dishes such as sausages and sauerkraut to spicy Asian cuisines. It will also pair with the myriad dishes you will serve during the holidays and even act as a great ingredient for marinades and salad dressings. Use it to de-glaze, sauté and slow cook as well. If it was good enough for the High Kings of Tara to drink during celebrations, mead may be the drink of choice to carry your palate from Thanksgiving dinner to Christmas dinner and then on to welcoming in the New Year! And what better way to feel truly at home with the holidays than to savor – or share — a taste of Montana Mead? Or you could take your family and guests over the hills and through the woods to the actual winery itself for a fun afternoon of tasting. Just call first to make sure they will be open. They are located at 1345 U.S. Highway 93, No. 5, Victor; (406) 363-6323. Happy Holidays! Kate Murphy is a wine writer for the Missoulian and Missoula.com magazine. You’ll find her busily sampling and critiquing new varietals at her blog, KnowYourVino.com.

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and your beer

Tim O’Leary, owner of Kettlehouse Brewing Co., plans to offer his first big beer, Brick and Mortar Imperial Porter, in small beer glasses reminiscent of brandy snifters.

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BY VOLUME

by timothy alex akimoff photo by kurt wilson

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atches of big beer have been quietly aging in oak barrels, steel tanks and cans and bottles for several months, all in anticipation of one of the biggest changes to Montana’s alcohol regulations since Prohibition. With the passage of HB 400 by the 2009 Montana Legislature, brewers and shop owners geared up to brew and sell beer up to 14 percent alcohol by volume, exceedingly higher than the previously allowed 8.75 percent alcohol by volume. The law went into effect on Oct. 1. “I’m a big fan of big beers,” brewer Mike Howard of Blacksmith Brewing Co. in Stevensville said. “It’s nice to see that Montana is finally catching up to what most of the brewers around the

U.S. have been brewing for 10 years and what Belgians have been doing for 400 years.” Howard brewed a huge barley wine, so named for the relatively high alcohol content and layers of flavor reminiscent in both ways of bold wines. The barley wine, which finished at 12 percent alcohol by volume, will mellow quietly in a whiskey barrel for another year, although some of it will be tapped over the winter to celebrate both the change in law and Blacksmith Brewing Co.’s first anniversary. The big beers, those barley wines, imperial stouts, double IPAs and Belgian-style triples, have been off limits to Montana brewers for decades, and with the change in law comes a newfound freedom to be creative.


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aul Thomas of Bitterroot Brewing made up a batch of imperial IPA more to celebrate the brewery’s 11th anniversary, calling it, appropriately, 11PA. “I think it’s great the bill passed, Thomas said. “It will be nice to formulate traditionally high-alcohol beers without having to worry about keeping them under 8.75 percent.” In a world where the art of brewing beer is achieving new heights all the time, it won’t be long before the 14 percent limit is considered low. Already, there are beers like Samuel Adams’ Utopias that have broken the 25 percent alcohol by volume barrier. Craig Koontz, brewer at Tamarack Brewing Co. in Lakeside, sees the new alcohol limit as a new level of responsibility for both the brewer and the consumer. “While I mention the popularity of high-gravity beers,” Koontz said, “I also want to say that these styles will most likely be seasonal and/or limited offerings. Recipe ingredients can more than double the cost of making these beers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see special pricing for these beers, but they are worth it.”

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any brewers won’t be serving the big beers in pint glasses. Instead, they will offer tastes in small glasses made for enjoying the full beer taste and smell experience. Tim O’Leary, owner of Kettlehouse Brewing Co., plans to offer his first big beer, Brick and Mortar Imperial Porter, an 11 percent ABV monster, in small beer glasses reminiscent of brandy snifters. The beer, which pours dark with a tan head is a close relative to the brewery’s famous Cold Smoke Scotch Ale, but an addition of Belgian yeast gives the beer some spice characteristics not unlike clove and licorice. The high alcohol content of the beer is masked by layers and layers of malty richness and yeast-produced spiciness, making for a bold and unique beer. Even though many brewers will be free to create anything they like, most brewers are just happy to be able to make beer consistent with styles as they were defined hundreds of years ago. “It’s nice to be able to brew these beers to style,” Matt Long of Big Sky Brewing Co. said. “Like a barley wine or an imperial stout or any strong Belgian golden ale or triple, you can’t really do it unless you have that alcohol content.”

Carrying all the brands you love! Sexy ....Nicole Miller Stylish ....Theory Hip ....Inhabit Smart ....Diane von Furstenburg European ....Zoe Couture Casual ....Three Dots New ....Gary Graham Chic ....Robert Rodriguez Great for Travel ....Susana Monaco Gloves, scarves, hats – Great gift ideas! And lots and lots of comfy cashmere!

Holiday Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 - 6 „ Sun. noon - 4 329 North Higgins Avenue „ Missoula, Montana 59802 (406) 542.coco

Tim Akimoff is digital manager of the Missoulian and blogs at GrizzlyGrowler.com. Reach him at (406) 523-5202 or by e-mail at takimoff@lee.net. missoula.com magazine

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missoula cooks

velvet ribbons F by greg patent photo by kurt wilson

Red velvet cake is fun to bake, spectacular to behold, and has a unique flavor perfect for the holidays.



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ew cakes have caused the kind of interest in baking as red velvet cake. White on the outside and scarlet red on the inside, it gets people talking. Where did it come from? Who thought it up? While there are no definitive answers, we can lay to rest at least one urban legend. For many years, a story circulated claiming the cake originated at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. A woman who had eaten the cake there wrote to ask for the recipe and received it along with a bill for $100. Furious, she retaliated by circulating the recipe as widely as she could. Dramatic, yes, but not true. A similarly spurious story has been related

over the years regarding a certain Neiman Marcus cookie. In “Retro Desserts: Totally Hip, Updated, Classic Desserts from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” Wayne Harley Brachman writes, “In the ’50s, product development departments and advertising agencies became the major sources of recipe development.” So might it be possible that red velvet cake owes its origin to a company that manufactures foodsafe colorings? Southern bakers are passionate in claiming red velvet cake as their own. In support, they cite the 1989 film “Steel Magnolias” featuring an armadilloshaped groom’s cake. Be that as it


may, the film stimulated bakers all over the country to try their hand at the spectacularlooking cake. And that was just the beginning. Since the film, interest in the cake has continued unabated. Just Google red velvet cake and pages and pages of recipes and folklore come up. I’m quite fond of this cake for many reasons: It’s fun to make and spectacular to look at, has a unique flavor from the small amount of cocoa, the texture is light and fluffy, and it’s a great crowd-pleaser. Of the many options for frosting – cooked flour and milk base, classic buttercream, egg white buttercream, whipped cream or cream cheese – I opt for the latter. Happy baking!

T

here are many things to love about Montana.

Add one more to your list...             

Greg Patent is a food writer and columnist for the Missoulian and Missoula. com magazine. Visit Greg’s Web site at www. gregpatent.com and his blog at http://www. gregpatentgetsyoucooking.blogspot.com. You can write him at chefguymt@gregpatent.com.

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Find the recipe on page 24.

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Red Velvet Cake Cake 3 cups cake flour (12 ounces), measured by scooping dry measure into flour 1/2 3/4 1/2 2 1/2 2 1 4 3 2 1/2 1/2 1 1

container, filling it to overflowing, and sweeping off excess teaspoon table salt teaspoon baking powder cup sour cream tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, regular or Dutch process teaspoon baking soda tablespoons (1-ounce bottle) red food coloring cup boiling water large eggs large egg yolks teaspoons pure vanilla extract cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature cup vegetable shortening cup firmly packed dark brown sugar cup granulated sugar

Frosting 1/2 1 1 1

pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature pound (two 8-ounce packages) full fat cream cheese pound box confectioners’ sugar tablespoon pure vanilla extract

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his is a spectacular four-layer cake filled and frosted with a classic cream cheese frosting. The cake layers, intensely red from red food coloring, fulfill the requirements of a layer cake – light, fluffy and moist. People are always startled when they see a slice of red velvet cake because of the stark contrast between the white frosting and the bright red color of the cake. This is a perfectly beautiful cake to make for the holidays. You can bake the layers one day and frost it the next. And kids love it!

F

or the cake. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two round 9-inch layer cake pans 2 inches deep. Line bottoms of the pans with rounds of cooking parchment or waxed paper and grease the paper. Dust inside of pans with all-purpose flour and tap out excess. Sift together the cake flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine well. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, cocoa, baking soda and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Gradually add the boiling water, whisking until smooth. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla.

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In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Gradually add both sugars while beating on medium speed. Stop to scrape the bowl and beaters, and beat 5 minutes on medium-high speed. Scrape bowl again. While beating on low speed, slowly add the eggs and vanilla. Increase the speed to medium and beat 1 minute. On low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture, beating only until incorporated. While beating on low, dribble in one-third of the red mixture. Repeat with the remaining flour and liquid in two additions, ending with the liquid. Batter will be smooth and creamy. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and spread level. Or, with the pans on your counter top, grasp one between your palms and rotate briskly back and forth to level the batter. Repeat with second pan and place pans in the oven, leaving a few inches of space between them. Bake about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Run the tip of a small sharp knife around cake layers to make sure they aren’t sticking to the sides. Cover each layer with a wire rack and invert. Carefully lift


off pans (the papers should still be adhering to the pans); cover with other racks and invert again to cool layers right side up. When completely cool, wrap layers securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Chilling the layers makes splitting them easier.

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or the frosting. Beat the butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and beat on low speed until well combined with the butter; increase speed to medium and beat until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Don’t overbeat or mixture might thin out. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat on low to medium speed until completely incorporated and frosting is smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap until needed.

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o split each cake layer. Remove a layer from refrigerator and unwrap it. Measure the height of the layer. It should be 1 1/2 inches tall. Place the layer so that its original bottom is facing up. Mark it at its half-height point (3/4 inch) by inserting 6 to 8 toothpicks all around the circumference. With a large serrated knife, carefully work your way all around the layer, making a cut about 1/4inch-deep just above the toothpicks. Remove the toothpicks and, holding the knife blade as horizontally as you can, gradually work deeper into the layer, rotating it as you go, until the layer is completely split in half. Repeat with the second layer. Brush away crumbs gently with a pastry brush.

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o fill and frost the cake. Line a cake plate with four narrow strips of waxed paper in a square pattern. Set the original top side of a cake layer upside down in the center of the plate – cut side facing up – with the paper strips just underneath the edges of the cake. Spread evenly with about 2/3 cup of frosting using a narrow metal spatula. Now set the bottom half of the cake layer cut side down onto the frosting so that the layer’s original bottom (uncut) faces you. Spread with another 2/3 cup of frosting. Now take the original bottom half of the remaining cake layer and set it cut side up on the frosting. Spread with 2/3 cup frosting and place the top half of the cake layer cut side down on the frosting. Its original top side will be facing up. Spread the remaining frosting evenly on the sides and top of the cake. Gently tug the strips of waxed paper by their narrow ends toward you, leaving a clean cake plate. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. To serve the cake, rinse a sharp knife in hot water, shake off excess water and cut the cake, rinsing the knife after each cut. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before eating. Apply plastic wrap to the cut surfaces of the cake and refrigerate leftovers. Makes 12 to 16 servings. missoula.com magazine

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on the fly

I

brookies story and photos by daryl gadbow

f I were going to risk life and limb, tear my waders, and get myself and my flyfishing gear coated with slimy mud just to catch a fish, you might reasonably expect it would have to be a pretty special fish … a trophy fish, probably. And yet, there I was earlier this fall thrashing and flailing around in a mucky swamp thicket created by a series of beaver dams on a small western Montana stream, all for the pursuit of a dinky seven- or eightinch trout. Actually, I wasn’t after just one, or even a few. I was on a mission that day to fill my ancient, neglected wicker creel with what we, long ago in less civilized times, referred to as a “mess” of trout for an old-fashioned fish fry. That I was able to undertake such an enterprise with a clear conscience in this politically correct age of catch-and-release trout fishing is attributable to the lowly status of the particular quarry of that day – the typically diminutive, often maligned brook trout. Brookies are alien invaders to Montana. According to “Fishes of Montana” by C.J.D. Brown, they are native to waters of eastern North America, from Hudson Bay and Labrador in northern Canada, southward along the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia, and west to the upper Mississippi River system. Brook trout made their first appearance in Montana in 1889 when they were introduced to the Yellowstone River drainage. Since then, according to

Brown, they were extensively propagated and stocked in waters throughout the state until 1954, when the practice was largely curtailed. Fisheries studies conducted on Flathead Lake in 1915 and 1916 listed brook trout among the species collected. Today, brookies can be found in virtually every Montana county where trout can swim.

N

owadays, brook trout generally are looked upon with disfavor by the state’s fisheries managers because they tend to compete with threatened and endangered native species – including grayling, cutthroat and bull trout – for available habitat. Also, brookies have been known to interbreed with endangered bull trout – both species are members of the char family rather than the closely related true trout – thus diluting the natives’ genetic pool. For those transgressions, brook trout are targeted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fishing regulations for a very liberal angler harvest. Regulations for most waters in western Montana allow for a daily and possession limit of 20 brookies. Creel limits for all other trout species are much more restrictive, and in the case of native fish, sometimes banned outright. When you consider that brookies are delicious table fare, and their small size make them perfect for sizzling up all crispy and golden brown in a skillet, they are a prime option for a sumptuous family fish fry

I’ve always admired brook trout, and seek them out, especially in the fall, when they are decked out in their gaudy spawning colors. 

missoula.com magazine


... with no guilty feelings. Of course, anglers must learn to identify and differentiate the similarly appearing bull and brook trout so they don’t accidentally kill the endangered native fish.

I

’ve always admired brook trout, and seek them out, especially in the fall, when they are decked out in their gaudy spawning colors. Brook trout are distinguished by a dark, olive-green back, laced with brighter green “vermiculations,” which look like a maze of worm tracks. The sides are decorated with spots of bright green as well as fucshia, the latter encircled by a halo of brilliant blue. Above the cream-colored belly is a reddish band, which during the spawning season becomes a more pronounced deep scarlet. Another attractive characteristic of brookies is the places they are often found in Montana – small streams and mountain lakes. Those are a couple of my favorite fishing destinations, particularly during the red and gold splendor of autumn. And brook trout tend to be highly cooperative partners in the angling game. They’re easy to fool with just about any bait, lure or fly you’d care to use, which makes them a natural quarry for novice anglers, especially kids, and yet surprisingly fun

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for calloused veterans seeking a nostalgic return to the simpler fishing pursuits of their youth. Brookies frequently are overpopulated and stunted in many waters in which they’re found. And while their relatively small size can’t compete with other Montana trout species as trophies, landing a rare large specimen is a quest of many anglers I know. Count me among their ranks. The Montana state record brook trout is a 9.06-pound lunker caught in Lower Two Medicine Lake on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park by John R. Cook in 1940. The fact that the record has endured for 69 years is testament to the scarcity of such large brookies in this region.

M

y personal search for a trophy brook trout usually takes me to Georgetown Lake between Philipsburg and Anaconda. Justly acclaimed for its excellent rainbow trout fishing, in past years Georgetown also produced trophy-sized brookies exceeding several pounds. Unfortunately, perhaps because of whirling disease or possibly over-fishing, the brook trout population in Georgetown dwindled to almost nil in the past decade or so. In recent years, however, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has stocked brook trout in Georgetown annually in an attempt to revive that fishery. Current fishing regulations for the lake mandate catch-andrelease for brookies.

The program is showing some signs of success. I’m aware of some impressive catches of big brookies again at Georgetown in the past couple of years. As I floated in my pontoon kick boat over a cold spring entering the lake last year, I saw a brook trout that was easily more than 20 inches long. My favorite brook trout fishing destination, though, is the upper Big Hole Valley in southwestern Montana. Many of the lakes in the Wisdom/Jackson area, and numerous nearby tributaries of the upper Big Hole, contain strong populations of brookies. Besides being a spectacular location, I enjoy fishing there for brook trout that are much larger, in my experience, than those I’ve found in the Missoula vicinity.

T

he other trout species in western Montana that I always associate with the fall is the brown trout. Like the brook trout, browns are non-native fall spawners, acquiring bolder coloration and becoming more aggressive as their mating cycle approaches, making them more susceptible to anglers. Brookies and browns are often found in the same waters in western Montana and, very rarely, they will crossbreed, producing a sterile offspring called a “tiger trout.” My brother-in-law once caught one while we

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were fishing together. Since he had never seen one before, he called me over to take a look. I’d never seen a tiger trout before – or since – either. But I’d read about them. The combination of physical characteristics of both species was an immediate giveaway as to its identity. There’s no question why brown trout overshadow brook trout in the eyes of most western Montana anglers in the fall. I mean they’re big, pugnacious, powerful-fighting adversaries. OK, brookies are usually small. But as pretty, tasty and fun as they are, I think the lowly brook trout deserves a little more love from the fishing community … especially in the fall. Oh, by the way, I survived that foray in the swamp earlier this fall, and filled up my little old wicker creel with brookies. And after I finally emerged from the swamp, I discovered that just upstream, I could stroll easily along the dry bank and cast a fly into sparkling clear pools full of brookies ready and willing to jump all over each other to eat my size 14 royal stimulator. I thought they were pretty special fish. Daryl Gadbow is a Missoula free-lance writer and avid fly-fisherman.

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flybox

wish list by bob meseroll

photo by linda thompson

I

mentioned to a colleague that I was writing a story about flies for Christmas. “You mean like an elf hair caddis?” the humor-challenged young scribe inquired. After the groaning subsided, I decided a little clarification was in order. No, this story is for everyone with a fly fisherman on their Christmas shopping list, or for a fly fisherman writing a note to Santa. I decided to enlist the help of a few of the industry experts I’ve come in contact with here in western Montana: John Gould, owner of Double Up Outfitters and creator

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of the half-down series of flies; Jim Cox, a partner in the Kingfisher Fly Shop; and George Kesel, owner of Four Rivers Fly Shop, helped me by submitting a list of their top 10 flies for fishing the rivers of western Montana. There was a fair amount of agreement. For instance, each of the men had a type of caddis on his list: Cox prefers the Goddard, Gould likes the X-caddis, and Kesel goes with the old standby, the tan elk-hair caddis. “It is an absolute staple,” Kesel said of the tried-and-true elk hair. “I’ll use a tan elk-hair caddis in size 8 to cover spruce moths. I’ll use it in a size 16 over fish that

are rising to yellow sallies and have a fairly good shot.” And, of course, the trout will gobble it up during that midsummer evening caddis hatch, when the fish get so aggressive they’ll take it on the drag. The parachute Adams made it on two lists, as did the locally developed Purple Haze, which is basically just a parachute Adams with a purple body. “It’s just a very generic mayfly pattern that works everywhere from the chalk streams out East to New Zealand freestones, and all the rivers in the West,” Cox said of the Adams. “It’s probably the


Here are some flies any angler would love to find under the Christmas tree: (counter-clockwise from left) Powell’s Bunny Sculpin, a San Juan worm, a black ant, a Royal Stimulator and a Parachute Adams.

most ubiquitously effective fly there is out there, I think, that’s aquatically based. “One of the good things about it is that it’s cross-seasonal. When the March browns come off in April, it’s effective and it’s effective into the fall blue-wing season.” The same goes for the Purple Haze, which was developed by Bitterroot Valley angler Andy Carlson. “For whatever reason, it seems to attract fish extraordinarily well,” Kesel said. “You can fish it through almost anything. The reason it’s made so many missoula.com magazine

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people’s lists is that it has been effective through gray drakes, hecubas, pale evening duns. ... For whatever reason, it seems to get it done almost all the time.”

A

nother fly that made two of the lists is Powell’s bunny sculpin. “That bug is the devil,” Cox said. “It’s tied in muted natural colors, which I really like, it’s easy to fish higher in the water column or down deep, and the action on it is sick in the water. If the fish are looking for streamers, that’s the parachute Adams of streamers. “I like them dead drifted with a tight

line and a downstream mend, just sweeping it at the bottom. It’s a big fish bug.” While Gould and Cox went with the scuplin pattern, Kesel chose a black woolly bugger, another traditional pattern. “It’s most effectively fished on the swing or by giving it some action, but there are definitely times when a dead-drifted woolly bugger will be an extraordinarily useful fly.” One fly that made Cox’s list has a Christmas feel to it: the Royal stimulator. It’s fashioned after the Royal Wulff, which features the florescent green of peacock herl and red floss, the colors of Christmas.

“Obviously, fish are drawn to that red and peacock combination,” Cox said. “It’s an even better attractor than a Royal Wulff, which is a mayfly looking pattern. It draws attention when the hoppers are out, when the spruce moths are out, when the October caddis are out; it draws a lot of looks and is relevant for a much more broad spectrum of hatches. It’s my favorite skwala pattern when you trim the bottom flat on it.” Both Cox and Gould agreed – perhaps a bit reluctantly – that the San Juan worm belongs on the list. Cox called it the pattern “everyone loves to hate.” It was developed on New Mexico’s San Juan River. It’s a pretty simple premise: it looks like an earth worm, something you might have used with a bobber as a kid. “I routinely get people coming in here lamenting the need to use a worm,” Cox said. “I say if it makes you feel better, call it an emerging Royal Wulff. There’s nothing any more ridiculous about the San Juan worm than there is about the Royal Wulff. “I’ve ripped them up on that bug in New Zealand. Out of our 1,700 bins of flies in our shop here, if someone came in and put a gun to my head and said you have 10 minutes to catch a fish and you can pick any fly you want, I would run to the San Juan worm bin. That thing is the devil.” Bob Meseroll is the Missoulian’s sports editor and an avid fly fisherman. He can be reached at (406) 523-5265 or by e-mail at bmeseroll@missoulian.com. Linda Thompson is a photographer for the Missoulian. Reach her at (406) 523-5270 or at lthompson@missoulian.com. Christmas wish lists Jim Cox, co-owner of the Kingfisher Fly Shop 1. Parachute Adams 2. Goddard Caddis 3. Dave’s Hopper 4. Royal Stimulator 5. Sparkle Dun 6. Black Ant 7. Red San Jaun Worm 8. Double Beaded Stone 9. Pheasant Tail 10. Powell’s Bunny Sculpin John Gould, owner of Double Up Outfitters and creator of the half-down series of flies 1. Purple Haze, sizes 18-10 2. Parachute Adams, sizes 18-10

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3. Half-Down Stoneflies, and hoppers in size 8-10 4. Tungsten bead head prince nymph, sizes 16-10 5. Pheasant tail nymphs, sizes 20-12 6. X-Caddis, sizes 18-14 7. Powell’s Bunny Sculpin in Olive and Black, sizes 8-4 8. Gould’s Western Lady Hopper, sizes 12-8 9. Trina’s Montana Prince in purple and tan, sizes 16-10 10. Sorry, the San Juan worm rocks trout nationwide, sizes 16-8. George Kesel, owner of Four Rivers Fly Shop 1. Bead Head Prince Nymph 2. Copper John 3. Black Wooly Bugger 4. Purple Haze 5. Blue Wing Olive 6. Tan Elk Hair Caddis 7. Orange Stimulator 8. Muddler Minnow, wtd and unweighted 9. Double Bead Peacock Stonefly Nymph 10. Black Ant

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story and photos by

vince devlin

k r o f g i B

Photo courtesy of Bigfork Chamber of Commerce

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A MERRY LITTLE

ChristmasVillage Bigfork

– Every November for the past 30 or so years, the summer resort town of Bigfork has transformed itself into a Christmas village with few peers. In just a few hours on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, 200 or more volunteers strap garland and red-ribboned Christmas trees to every post, streetlight and fence in sight, and thousands of lights are strung up and down Electric and Grand avenues and on the old one-lane steel bridge leading into town. Of course, in one basement along Electric Avenue, it’s Christmas every day of the year. Since Laura Meissenburg became an owner of Electric Avenue Gifts in Bigfork back in 1985, the store has always – always – had a section devoted to Christmas ornaments and decorations. Hasn’t mattered if it was the coldest day of February or the hottest one in August, and Christmas was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind – you’ve always been able to find a nothingbut-Christmas inventory in this small town on the northeast shores of Flathead Lake. “I guess it’s the little kid in me,” Meissenburg says. “We didn’t have much growing up, but my mother always made a big deal over Christmas. It’s the one time of the year I never felt deprived.” Carmen Perez struggled to support herself, her mother, Laura and Laura’s three sisters – an all-female household in Santa Ana, Calif., where “even the darn dog was a girl,” Meissenburg says with a laugh, “and the house was pink.” Meissenburg’s mother worked at Disneyland for 25 years, at the Main Street USA Emporium that is one of the first things visitors encounter in the Magic Kingdom. Most of the Christmas gifts she gave her daughters were handmade, but each year Disneyland gave employees first crack at never-claimed items from its lost-and-found department, and Carmen Perez would pick up a few more Christmas gifts for cheap there. “It was amazing,” Meissenburg says. “She could turn one gift into six packages. All the wrapping paper and bows were reused year after year, but Christmas was always a wonderful time for us.”

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Her love

of the holiday that her mother worked so hard to make special has always stayed with Meissenburg, and her store reflects it. Electric Avenue Gifts began by sharing space inside the Garden Bar. Now in its own 4,000-square-foot retail space, almost half of it – the basement – is devoted to all things Christmas. There, you’ll find most every ornament you could imagine, and many more you probably wouldn’t – 4,000 in all, hanging from several trees located throughout the busy shop. There’s a “music tree,” where all the ornaments are musical instruments – guitars, pianos, flutes, fiddles, French horns, oboes. There’s an “angel tree,” a “Western tree,” a “candy tree,” a “traditional tree,” even what Meissenburg calls the “alcoholic tree,” where the decorations carry a slightly inebriated theme.

There’s a price range to suit most everyone. You can find ornaments for as little as $1.75, and ones that sell for $30 to $40 apiece. The latter include the whimsical ornaments of artist Patience Brewster, whose fancy and collectible tree decorations feature handpainted pigs, fish, mice, sheep, bees and people – some of them half human, half vegetable. Twenty-five percent of the gift store’s sales are from the Christmas decorations – and the majority are sold in the summer months, when the town is filled with tourists. “There’s something to be said for tenacity,” says Meissenburg, who also works with her husband, Loyd – a former world champion surfer – producing vintage signs at Meissenburg Designs. “If you’re around long enough and do it right, people become loyal. We have a lot of faithful Christmas customers who come in every year, mostly in the summer.”

Laura Meissenburg, owner of Electric Avenue Gifts in Bigfork, has a section of her store devoted to Christmas all year round. “We have a lot of faithful Christmas customers who come in every year,” she says, “mostly in the summer.”

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Meantime,

up on Bigfork’s main drag outside the store, the mass decorating of the village each November is, these days, designed to lure people into Bigfork to shop during the month before Christmas. But it didn’t begin that way. As resident Edd Blackler recalls, he, Don Thomson of the Bigfork Summer Playhouse and Frank Crane, a retired military man, were sitting on the street one day about 30 years ago as the holidays approached, and one of them brought up the notion that the village could be made to look a lot more Christmas-y than it did. “There was nothing commercial about it,” Blackler says. “We just wanted the village to look a little more festive.” They approached the U.S. Forest Service about the possibility of thinning some trees on Forest Service land that they could use, and the agency agreed to let them take some smaller trees growing under power lines. “Frank Crane being retired military, he named us the Bigfork Elf Force,” Blackler says. “He promptly went to an Army Surplus store and bought officers’ insignias, and everyone was given a rank.” The little army went out, cut down the trees, and tied them up around town that first Christmas season. “Subsequently,” Blackler says, “we got the bright idea to add lights,” and the Bigfork Elf Force tromped up and down Electric Avenue in search of donations from the business district. “So that second year, we bought some lights and extension cords,” Blackler says. “Then Denny Boland (a former Bigfork resident) told us he had a friend in Chicago who owned a business that made Christmas lights, and he thought he could get us a real good deal on more.” The deal Boland’s friend offered was better than good. It was free. “This fellow, I don’t remember his name, donated I don’t know how many thousands of lights – an incredible number,” Blackler says. The Bigfork Elf Force didn’t raise money for more lights that year. It gathered donations to buy the Chicago businessman, who visited Boland in the summers, a canoe.

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THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

Photo courtesy of Bigfork Chamber of Commerce

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Over the years,

Christmas in Bigfork has grown and grown. The Lady Lions started serving chili and cocoa at the Bigfork Inn for all the volunteers on decorating day. Martha Groenke organized the “red-ribbon ladies,” who make and attach red bows to all the trees. A few years ago, when Blackler and Thomson decided Crane was pushing himself too hard to make sure the town was decorated, they went in search of younger “officers” to take over. “Fortunately, Doug Averill stepped up to the plate,” Blackler says. This year, the Bigfork Elves will meet at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge on Nov. 14 for the annual “tree-gathering and bulbtwisting,” when the army of volunteers harvests the trees and makes sure all those thousands of lights are in working order. On Nov. 21, they’ll fan out through town to put everything up. “We used to be crawling up ladders and across roofs,” Blackler says. “Doug has brought in lift trucks that make everything a lot safer.” While the resort town’s many galleries hold an art walk from 37 p.m. that day, the volunteers will get everything set for the 7 p.m. lighting ceremony at the Bigfork Inn – where a huge community Christmas tree will also be fired up. Dec. 5 is the next major day in the Bigfork Christmas season. Santa comes to town, there are carriage rides through the village, a holiday parade at 6 p.m. and, immediately following that, Thomson’s son Brach puts on his annual “Touch of Christmas” concert at the Bigfork Playhouse. The carriage rides and Santa visits continue on the next two Saturdays, Dec. 12 and 19, when other events are also scheduled. The Bigfork Elves still operate under the military format, Blackler says, with longtime volunteers eventually being promoted to general. Every year, Blackler says, he’s amazed to see 50 to 75 hands go up when Averill asks who is new to decorating day. The transformation of Bigfork into a Christmas village is a point of pride for townspeople, Blackler says. Bigfork is probably one of, if not the, largest unincorporated communities in Montana. “There’s a pitch-in-and-get-it-done attitude here,” Blackler says, and for more than a month, the Christmas spirit always on display in one basement on Electric Avenue spreads itself up and down Bigfork’s main drags. Yes, they want you to come, and spend some money in the village. Laura Meissenburg would no doubt like you to drop some of the change at Electric Avenue Gifts. But it’s nice to know neither was born of commercialism – one just of a woman’s favorite childhood memories, and the other of three men who thought Bigfork could look a bit more Christmas-y come December.

Vince Devlin covers the Flathead and Mission valleys for the Missoulian. He can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by e-mail at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

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Kurt Cyr, designer of the ornaments, hangs tree decorations that are part of this year’s theme of “Christmas in Provence” in the window of the store at the Schoolhouse in the Ninemile Valley.

as an artist,

I don’t think I could just sit here and do what was done before. You’ve got to stretch out and grow. 42

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the tradition returns photos by kurt wilson

written by michael moore

radition has long dripped from the ornamental eaves of the old schoolhouse here. That tradition, started 99 years ago, was forged first when the buildings housed a school and teacherage for the children of Anaconda Copper Company workers. Then, from the 1970s to 2002, Hanneke and Les Ippisch transformed the schoolhouse into a Christmas tradition in western Montana. The family carved and painted nativity scenes and ornaments, and served a gourmet lunch for one long weekend about a month before Christmas. The Schoolhouse and Teacherage was a must-do on nearly everyone’s pre-Christmas list. But in 2002, Les and Hanneke sold the place to owners who had no interest in carrying on the holiday tradition. A few years later, Kurt Cyr, an interior designer living in Los Angeles, got a call from his parents back home in the Ninemile Valley. The Schoolhouse was for sale again. missoula.com magazine

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The Cyr family’s roots at the Schoolhouse ran deep. In fact, for a while, between the Anaconda Co. and the Ippisches, the Cyrs had been part of a four-part ownership of the property. Kurt Cyr made a few calls and within months owned the Schoolhouse. In 2006, he took the old tradition and started cutting it into a startling new shape that honors the past but constantly looks ahead. “We’re very cognizant of what Hanneke and Les did here, but we’re also making it our own,” Cyr said recently. “As an artist, I don’t think I could just sit here and do what was done before. You’ve got to stretch out and grow.”

f

or a long time, the Ippisch family’s Christmas trappings reflected a cultural sensitivity, both to their Scandinavian heritage and to the culture of the West. They built traditional nativities, but also scenes that used

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Eskimos and creatures from the Arctic, American Indians and the charismatic megafauna of the Northern Rockies. They even fashioned a nativity based on the historic Ninemile Ranger Station. What Cyr and partner Jay Saltzman have done with the Schoolhouse narrows and refines the Ippisches’ cultural take. Instead of the transcultural, scattershot approach of the Ippisches, Cyr and Saltzman dug down deep, roaming the world to fully inhabit one culture at a time. “Part of this is in the spirit of the place, but we wanted to do something that allowed us to explore the traditions of other places, then interpret those traditions in a way that works for the people here in western Montana,” Cyr said. In 2007, Cyr presented Christmas in Italy. Last year it was Germany. And this year? “This year it’s going to be Christmas in Provence,” Cyr


Inspired by window decorations found throughout Menerbes, a small town in the south of France, Cyr designed his ornaments to reflect the simple themes he found there. Since the 1970s, the Schoolhouse has been a traditional Christmas season must-do for western Montana families and visitors.

said. “Christmas there is a very religious holiday that doesn’t really have all the trappings of an American Christmas. The challenge with that is to find a way to translate the experience into something tangible here that we can sell in the Ninemile.”

i

nspiration requires fuel of some sort, and for Cyr and Saltzman that fuel is travel. Perhaps it would be easy enough to study the Christmas culture, say, of southern France and draw some conclusions. But how little fun. Much better to rent a gorgeous house – in fact, the very house that writer Peter Mayle lived in when he wrote “A Year In Provence” – in the small village of Menerbes with friends and actually spend the holiday there. That’s what Saltzman and Cyr did last Christmas. What they found was a subdued approach to Christmas that focused on food, decorative windows, time with family and, finally, a stroll through the hilltop town.

“Menerbes is a town that’s been there forever, very rural, pretty agricultural,” Cyr said. “But now it’s been discovered a little bit by the rest of the world. So it’s a very busy place in the summertime, but a pretty small community in the wintertime.” Cyr looks for motifs when he travels, and in Menerbes he found them in windows. Everywhere he went they were decorated simply, with stars, wreaths, lights, bells. Often there was a small Santa trying to climb in a window. He also saw marvelous iron gates outfitted for the season. In nearly any place that sold food, he found tables accented with large bowls of fresh fruits, shining red, orange and green. “For me, I’m trying to find something about that experience that translates into an ornament,” Cyr said. “I take a lot of photographs, then sit back and start studying them to figure out how what I’ve seen in three dimensions can be rendered in two dimensions.”

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Scenes of

Christmas A PHOTO ESSAY by kurt wilson

A

solitary tree bears the signs of the season for travelers on Montana Highway 200 just east of the Continental Divide. - 1994

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Scenes of Christmas

A

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manger scene pieced together with particleboard, paper bags and a bluehaired doll tells the story of Christ’s birth on a street corner in Charlo. - 1998


Scenes of Christmas

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light display in Missoula’s South Hills expresses a simple wish for the holiday season. - 2005

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Scenes of Christmas

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Perhaps finding a hot rod quicker than reindeer, Santa sits behind the wheel of a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon on Missoula’s North Side. - 2003


Scenes of Christmas

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Christmas tree, freshly flocked in the same pink color of the house, dries in a ray of sunlight in the front yard of this Missoula home. - 1989

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Scenes of Christmas

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he joy of the family gathering at home for the holidays is reflected in this scene at the People’s Center in Pablo. - 1998


Scenes of Christmas

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camper trailer and a string of lights serves as the office for a Christmas tree seller on Orange Street in Missoula. - 2004

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touch glass

a

of

written by B E T S Y C O H E N photos by L I N D A T H O M P S O N

I

Glass tiles are the foundation for many of artist Holliday Jeremiassen’s pieces.

t’s a rainy fall day outside. Heavy gray clouds hang low over the Missoula Valley, lifting occasionally to reveal early season snow in Pattee Canyon. Inside the Zootown Arts Community Center, Holliday Jeremiassen stands by a window and plays with the colors of spring and summer. Watermelon, cantaloupe, the blue of a June sky and the green awakening of April are all remembered in the delicate sticks of glass she lays out on a table. Other colors from seasons past are fanned out across the shelves on the wall next to her, captured in thick sheets. As the afternoon light and stormy sky shifts, the beauty of the vibrant glass seems all the more dramatic. The sudden change of summer into fall and the coming darker months are welcome, Jeremiassen comments. “I think the light in the winter seems to be the best time to work with glass,” explains the glass fusion artist and teacher of the craft. “The light isn’t as bright or as harsh as it is during other times of the year. “It could be that it’s my favorite time of year to work with glass because it’s such a colorful way to forget it’s cold and yucky outside. It’s definitely uplifting to work with such brightness.”

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made

F O R T H E H O L I D AY S Caution to all holiday shoppers: Missoula’s third annual Holiday MADE Fair will be held Sunday, Dec. 13, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Stensrud Building at 314 N. First St. W. Shoppers can expect to find unique, hip, one-of-a-kind, budget-friendly handmade gifts from regional artists. The event, hosted by the Zootown Arts Community Center, is a family-friendly alternative arts extravaganza and crafts market with a party atmosphere. More than 40 vendors will sell their art works – including original jewelry, clothing, hats, handbags and pottery, said organizer Carol Lynn Lapotka. With each successive year, the fair gets bigger and better. “This is the place to get very affordable art,” Lapotka said.

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lass fusing is an emerging art form and craft that requires heat from a kiln, a little bit of alchemy and a lot of patience. It also requires a flexible sensibility. “You don’t really know what you are going to get when your pieces come out of the kiln,” Jeremiassen says as she works to create some pendants for a holiday craft fair. Sharp-edged shapes often transform into rounded pieces. Squares become circles, and creations made with reactive glass morph into unexpected hues and colors that run a wide range of purples, blues and reds, depending on the amount of copper and other reactive minerals in the glass. The process and the outcome of glass fusing fascinates Hanna Hannan, ZACC director. She loves that it’s an ancient art form that remains as mystifying and surprising as in the days when humans first discovered glassmaking. “The invention of glass happened when people were having fires on beaches and the silica in the sand would melt. That’s how they discovered glass,” Hannan explains. “What’s so cool about glass fusing is that it’s really primitive and really modern at the same time.” Jeremiassen has been experimenting with the art form for several years, selling her glass fusion jewelry and custom glass art through her business, Holliday Glass. She’s been based out of ZACC since last February, ever since Hannan asked her to bring her skills to Missoula. This fall, Jeremiassen started teaching the art to Missoula area children and adults, and overseeing ZACC’s glass fusion do-it-yourself program, which operates daily. Among its many attractions, she says, glass fusion “is a simple process and it’s easy to learn. That’s the beauty of it. It’s a pretty easy way to do art and it’s not so intimidating to people who don’t think of themselves as artists.” As she ponders which color of blue to choose from the sheet glass, and which rice-sized pieces of white reactive glass to add, Jeremiassen pauses in her work and smiles. “To me, the kids’ stuff is so inspiring because they are so free and do

Holliday Jeremaissen prepares her work space at the Zootown Arts Community Center in Missoula.

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what they feel is right for them and don’t spend a lot of time thinking things through like I do,” she says. “They just do. You give them the supplies and they just go. It’s awesome to watch.”

O

pening the kiln is perhaps the most thrilling part of this art. At 150 degrees, the heat that radiates out from the giant pressure cooker is not only welcomed on chilly days, opening it up is like Christmas every time. Inside, the glass shimmers and shines, revealing final shapes and colors. “It’s so interesting to see what is made,” Jeremiassen says. “There’s really no literature on reactive glass or how it works, so every time I open this up, I learn something and see something new. I keep journals – I have three big books now about what I’ve learned so I know how to do some things again and explain to people how all of this works.” Fall and winter are perhaps, the best times to learn. “People in Missoula are really connected to weather and the seasons, and I think it really affects our attitude and how we think,” Hannan comments. “In the colder months, people are turning internally. “Glass fusion provides people with an experience to play with light at a time when we crave it most – and that’s pretty powerful.” Betsy Cohen is a reporter for the Missoulian. She can be reached at (406) 523-5253 or at bcohen@missoulian.com. Linda Thompson is a photographer for the Missoulian. Reach her at (406) 523-5270 or at lthompson@missoulian.com. top and middle right: The glass pieces are layered before entering the kiln and come out of the process fused as one piece. Bottom right: Jeremiassen uses the heat of a kiln to fuse her pieces, some of which become pendants, rings and magnets. Below: Glass in all the colors of the rainbow decorate the shelves in Jeremiassen’s work area.

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PD D

Pay Dirt Hitting

By KIM BRIGGEMAN Photographs by TOM BAUER and KURT WILSON

Montana linebacker Jacob Yoro celebrates in the mud at midfield after the Grizzlies beat Montana State for the 13th time in a row in November 1998.

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Every November


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November

chasing

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ovember was weird last year. It blew gently into the Missoula Valley and pretty much stayed that way. No biting cold. No arctic blasts. When the skies did open, they poured rain. High temperatures reached into the 40s and even the 50s as we chased away election hangovers, hunters chased elusive elk, and the Montana Grizzlies chased Weber State for the Big Sky Conference football crown. A record 16th straight playoff berth was all but assured, but the Grizzlies had lost to the Wildcats in Ogden, Utah, in early October, and they spent the next seven weeks trying to catch them. Fail and their string of league titles, shared or won outright, would end at 10. It was a remarkable streak that sometimes gets lost in the annual rush for a national championship. A guy named, fittingly, Chase Reynolds led the pursuit. The sophomore running back from Drummond had shared carries with other backs for much of the season, but he burst from the pack in a win at Northern Colorado on Oct. 25. On the first day of November he manhandled Northern Arizona for three touchdowns and 157 yards – seven more than the stingy Lumberjacks had allowed in all of September and October. “He’s our best running back and that’s why, as we charge into November here, he will be getting the lion’s share of the carries,” coach Bobby Hauck said. The month that closes the regular season is the signal for charge at UM, and has been for most of the past quarter century. The tempo picks up, and the crisp air carries hints of winter, which around here smells like Chattanooga, Tenn., where the playoffs have culminated for the past dozen years.

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he trend began in 1986, when Don Read and WashingtonGrizzly Stadium arrived on the scene. After finishes of 0-6, 0-8-1 and 1-5 in Larry Donovan’s final, injury-plagued years, the ’86 Grizzlies went on the road for their final three games and won all three to finish 6-4. In 10 years under Read, four under Mick Dennehy, three under Joe Glenn and six under Hauck, a Montana team hasn’t suffered through a losing season. Indeed, since ’86, the Grizzlies had won 77 percent of their games entering 2009. But they were even better in November stretch runs, with an 82-percent success rate. Starting in Read’s last season of 1995, the year of their first national championship, Grizzly teams are 37-5 in their last three league games of each season, when so much is on the line. That’s a whopping 88 percent. Reynolds’ Nov. 1 blitz over Northern Arizona last year led to a 45-10 Montana win, ruined NAU’s playoff chances and kept the pressure on Weber State. Three weeks and three UM wins later, the Wildcats blinked. Most of the Grizzlies, wearing throwback copper-colored jerseys, had left the Washington-Grizzly Stadium field on Nov. 22 after a rousing 35-3 win over Montana State. But a handful of them sneaked out of the locker room to join hundreds of fans who stuck around to watch the finish of the Weber State-Eastern Washington game on the GrizVision scoreboard. Eastern staved off a late Weber rally for a 33-26 victory, handing the Wildcats their only conference loss. They still owned the Big Sky’s automatic berth in the playoffs, but the already jubilant Grizzlies had something more to celebrate: Fortune and another fast finish had combined to run their string of Big Sky rings to 11, and 14 in 16 years.


Closing kicks Montana Grizzlies’ records in the final three league games of the regular season, by decade since Big Sky Conference play began in 1963 (head coaches in parentheses): 1960s: (Ray Jenkins, Hugh Davidson, Jack Swarthout) 7-14, .333 1970s: (Swarthout, Gene Carlson) 13-17, .433 1980s: (Larry Donovan, Don Read) 16-14, .533 1990s: (Read, Mick Dennehy, Joe Glenn) 24-6, .800 2000s: (Joe Glenn, Bobby Hauck) 23-4, .852 Bottom left: Montana beat Northern Arizona

From 1995-2008, the Grizzlies won 82 percent of their games in November, including playoff contests. The breakdown, with points scored and allowed:

45-10 last year on the first day of November, ruining the Jacks’ chances to get in the playoffs. Center: The Grizzlies celebrate a November win over the Bobcats in Bozeman. Right: Montana’s dominance on the

1995: 4-0 (188-61)** 1996: 5-0 (213-69)* 1997: 4-1 (137-77) 1998: 3-1 (108-102) 1999: 2-2 (134-80) 2000: 4-0 (141-65)* 2001: 4-0 (141-105)**

2002: 3-2 (142-94) 2003: 3-2 (186-101) 2004: 4-0 (180-72)* 2005: 2-2 (95-65) 2006: 4-0 (107-43) 2007: 3-1 (124-88) 2008: 5-0 (169-48)* Total 50-11 (.820)

* Played for Division I-AA/FCS championship ** Won Division I-AA/FCS championship

football field in November began in 1986 with the arrival of Don Read as head football coach.

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“The fans are like our football players. They don’t expect to lose.”

M

issoula. Novembers. The 1970s. Don’t know about yours, but at least one crowd of college kids thanked the gods of grapes for Boone’s Farm Apple Wine. It was the best way to get through the dredges of another football season at dreary old “new” Dornblaser Field on South Higgins Avenue. We clung to green bottles of hope and the knowledge that, come Thanksgiving weekend, the campus and town would be energized by the arrival of basketball season. Most of the 25,000 to 26,000 fans who fill Washington-Grizzly Stadium now don’t recall those glum days, when November wins were rare and unexpected, and Big Sky titles were as sparse as crew cuts. It seemed eons before Monte, before “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and “first down – MONTANA,” and the whole tunnel-and-smoke thing. Those are the byproducts of a program that has somehow mastered the art of winning championships. By doing things well and getting breaks in crunch time, they’ve earned their just desserts – a home game every year since 1999 to start off the Division I-AA/ Football Championship Series playoffs. Generally speaking, when the calendar turns from October to November, four or even five of the nine Big Sky teams are still in the running for the championship. Every football coach from junior high to the NFL devises strategies, develops philosophies, and tries to tame the vagaries of a ball that’s not round and a game that’s oh so fickle, so their teams are playing best when the days grow short.

“I guarantee you, everybody has their own thoughts on it,” Hauck said in late September. “I think one of the strengths that some have that others don’t is they acknowledge there are different ways to skin a cat. We are always trying to find a better way.”

B

ut nobody, at least in these parts, walks the walk the way the Grizzlies do. Why is that? Hauck ticked off his own reasons. From Week One on, he promised, the ol’ one-game-at-a-time approach is strictly adhered to. But there’s an art to keeping a fresh football frame of mind during a long season. “We try to gear to be in position to challenge for the championship and the playoffs starting in November, at least from a mental standpoint,” said Hauck. Then there’s the physical approach. The Grizzlies are conditioned to condition themselves to be playing in December. These days everybody trains year ’round. But weight-room work at Montana “lends itself to being healthier that time of year than we may be at some points,” Hauck said. “Our guys are putting in the time to condition and prepare for a long season.” “We didn’t slack off much, as far as continuing to do our in-season training,” recalled Thatcher Szalay, an All-America offensive lineman under Joe Glenn in 2000 and 2001. “It wasn’t like we went from three days a week of working out to one day a week. We would work out three days a week in the weight room, and that

All-America offensive lineman Thatcher Szalay says in-season

Fans enjoy a fabulous fall day and

conditioning plays a factor in winning in November.

another win for the Griz in November.

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— assistant athletic director Dave Guffey

went all the way to the national championship game.” Grizzly coaches in recent years have been almost stubborn in their insistence on playing a lot of bodies early in the season. “You have to be committed to developing depth,” Hauck said. “Otherwise you don’t do it, you don’t accept the fact that those guys are going to make mistakes, and then you don’t play them. We’re committed to doing that, and I think that’s paid dividends for us.” The rewards, come November, are twofold. “It helps us, one, avoid injuries to a degree, and two, it helps us when we do have an injury. Those guys who are coming in have some game experience and they’re ready to pick up the flag and charge,” Hauck said. In a game where “We’re young” is often code for “We’re not very good,” you won’t hear such talk at UM. At any point in the season, at almost any position on the field, you’ll see freshman and sophomore non-starters mixed in with the veterans. Rarely is a senior starter backed up by another senior.

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Chase Reynolds ran for three touchdowns and 157 yards against the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks last November. missoula.com magazine

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Greg Johnson, left, of the University of Montana School of Theatre & Dance, and Grant Olson of Montana Actors’ Theatre have formed a partnership between Missoula’s independent professional theater scene and the university program that feeds it.

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written by Joe Nickell | photo by Tom Bauer hoever first said, “You don’t mess with success,” obviously hadn’t considered the case of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Often considered the greatest drama written by history’s greatest dramatist, “Hamlet” has been subjected to countless revisions, adaptations and parodies over the 400 years since the troubled prince of Denmark first pondered “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them?” Outrageous fortune, indeed. Right from the start – as with many of Shakespeare’s plays – multiple versions of the text existed; three different originals are known to exist from Shakespeare’s time. Since then, the dense five-act plot of “Hamlet” has been shoehorned into the forms of opera and silent film, puppet show and movie musical. Then there are the spin-offs. Moviegoers will recall last year’s comedy, “Hamlet 2,” in which a high school drama teacher attempts to save his school’s drama program by writing and staging a sequel to “Hamlet” that involves Hamlet, Jesus and a timemachine. Disney’s blockbuster animated film, “The Lion King,” is loosely based on “Hamlet,” as is the 1983 comedy, “Strange Brew.” Among these many spinoffs, one work stands out: Tom Stoppard’s 1964 absurdist comedy, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” Structured in mirror form to Shakespeare’s original plot, Stoppard’s play follows the action from the viewpoint of its own title

characters, a pair of Hamlet’s old school friends who play relatively minor roles in “Hamlet.” This December, the University of Montana’s drama department and Havre-based Montana Actors’ Theatre will present concurrent productions of the two great plays in Missoula. The dual productions offer a rare opportunity to explore two great, interwoven works in close proximity of time and place. Perhaps more importantly, the two productions offer a testament to the interwoven relationship between Missoula’s blossoming independent, professional theater scene, and the university program that feeds it.

I

ive years ago, after all, a coordinated pairing of the two plays in Missoula would have been all but inconceivable. Though the University of Montana had long presented a full season of student-stocked productions, no stable independent professional theater existed in Missoula. MCT Community Theatre regularly produced musicals and plays, but that company runs under a different philosophy, oriented toward providing performance opportunities for amateurs in the community, and generally toward lighter, familyfriendly fare. Other independent groups occasionally put up individual plays, but none offered a full season of theatre. The first glimmer of change came when Montana Repertory Theatre – a UM-based professional company that has produced national tours of major plays for more than 40 years – established a locally oriented professional arm, dubbed Montana Rep Missoula. Under the artistic guidance of Greg Johnson, the new company began offering a smattering of plays at Missoula’s Crystal Theatre in

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A Ninemile Christmas ...continued from page 45

hat emerged from that process is a series of 15 ornaments based on fruits, windows, iron gates, with a final dash of American kitsch thrown in for seasoning. They look, for the most part, like woodcuts made for an ancient form of printing. Dip the wood in ink, then stamp it on paper. “I was trying to give them this older feel, like an illustrated manuscript,” Cyr said. After Cyr sketches his ideas on paper, he then moves to the computer, where he finalizes the designs in Adobe Illustrator. Those designs are then sent to a company in Minnesota that cuts the intricate patterns into a refined plywood that Cyr then paints by hand. “It’s an entirely made-in-the-USA product,” Cyr said with a smile, noting that his mom has pitched in by tagging and pricing the ornaments. “So a lot of it is made in the Ninemile.” Cyr and Saltzman will also offer a Christmas fabric, in napkins, coasters, placements and an ever popular kitchen apron.

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“That seems to be the thing that we always sell out of,” Cyr said.

s

ince Cyr and Saltzman bought the Schoolhouse, they’ve seen traffic rise, then taper off. That first Christmas of 2006, 1,250 visitors strolled through the doors, and 285 ate lunch. In 2007, the level bumped up to 1,660 shoppers, but it

dropped back to 1,562 in 2008 when the economy turned down. “I’m just not sure what this year will be like because of the economy, but I’m optimistic,” Cyr said. “It’s not like we’re a typical retail outlet. It’s really more of an event, and for a lot of people it’s a Christmas tradition.” For a place steeped in tradition, that

Cyr paints each ornament by hand and then gets help from his mother to puts strings and labels on the pieces for the annual sale.


sounds about perfect. It’s with that sense of tradition in mind that Cyr pronounced himself up in the air regarding next year’s theme. “We just haven’t decided whether we’re going to pick another country, and I’ll tell you the reason,” Cyr confided. “Next year is the 100th anniversary of the Schoolhouse, and I’m starting to feel like whatever we do is going to focus on that history somehow. I don’t know what it will look like, but that’s what I’m thinking right now.” Michael Moore is a reporter for the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 5235252 or by e-mail at mmoore@missoulian.com. Kurt Wilson is photography editor of the Missoulian and Missoula.com magazine. He can be reached at (406) 523-5244.

holiday cheer The 9 Mile Schoolhouse Christmas Market runs Nov. 26-28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m

Legendary HW 20119670

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Hitting Pay Dirt Every November ...continued from page 63

I

t’s not a luxury that happened overnight. There was plenty of justifiable talk in Ogden this preseason of using 2008 as a springboard to the kind of perennial national prominence Montana enjoys. Such notions bubble up at every school after a break-through season, but in the Big Sky only the Grizzlies have been able to sustain it. “To me, it’s not simple but yet it is, in this way,” Read said from his home in Corvallis, Ore. “I think depth on a roster of quality players always shows up more in the last half of your schedule. Whether it be injuries or just being able to get the tempo in practice, when you have depth of talent in your program it usually means you’re going to excel more and more, even if you have injuries.” Depth, of course, is directly related to recruiting. “I think that’s been one of the things that has been stable at Montana,” said Read, who retired as head coach before the start of the 1996 season and returned to Missoula in 2004 to serve a year as “transitional” athletic director. “Regardless of who has been there, they’ve done a good job of bringing quality athletes into the program and keeping them there.”

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hat other factors weigh in UM’s favor when autumn winds grow cold?

• Success breeds success. By and large, the Grizzlies have as good or better talent than anyone else in the Big Sky. They win, whatever the month or year, or if they don’t, they do the next week. Montana’s longest losing streak in the past 15 seasons is two, and even that has happened only twice in the regular season, in 1997 and 2002.

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“Our guys are putting in the time to condition and prepare for a long season.” — coach Bobby Hauck

When you win on a regular basis in college football, it manifests itself everywhere, filling the stands, opening pocketbooks of boosters and campus leaders, and attracting players who can both play and stay in school. • Shooting above the Sky. Since they barged onto the national I-AA scene in the mid-1990s, winning the league title has been but one of several stars for which the Grizzlies and their followers shoot. If they’re going to reach their annual year-end goal, the national championship, they darn well better win the league. November becomes as much about playoff positioning as it is winning conference hardware, and that’s unique in the Big Sky Conference. “The fans are like our football players. They don’t expect to lose,” said assistant athletic director Dave Guffey. “They expect to win the Big Sky championship, be in the playoffs, go to Chattanooga or wherever the national championship may be. That’s just the way they think now.” Read’s 10 Grizzly teams supplied the building blocks. Winning records were the big news in the early years. Then came playoff berths in ’88 and ’89, then league titles in 1993 and 1995. The national championship in 1995 made all other season goals secondary. “You set a goal out there and so many factors help you move in that direction,” Read said. “I would call it momentum. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but with that you gain confidence in dealing with obstacles involved in winning those big games that are necessary to win to move on.” • A lair beyond compare. Q: How many current Big Sky teams have won a game in Missoula in November in the past 20 years? A: One. Montana State, 2002, 10-7. “It’s no coincidence we haven’t had a losing season since we started playing in Washington-Grizzly Stadium,” said Guffey, who has been at UM since 1978. “Having an on-campus facility I think dramatically changed everything.” Read takes it a few steps farther. Even with the new stadium, the Grizzlies scrambled for years to find a practice facility that would hold up when the weather turned bad. Riverbowl Field near the Adams Center was finally fenced and groomed, and the grass in the stadium was replaced by all-weather Sprinturf in 2001. Weight-room and other indoor training facilities have also improved exponentially at UM since ’86. A Grizzly Hall of Fame has been added in Adams Center. Read points to the increased and, later, unflagging support of administrators, alumni and boosters as the ball got rolling. “Before they started having continued success, it was a lot harder to get this or get that,” Read said. It’s a battle other teams in the Big Sky and throughout the nation still wage on a daily basis. • Big fish syndrome. Other league schools point out how good Montana and Montana State have it, early in the season and late: Big Sky sports are top dog in the Treasure State, for fans and potential players alike. Portland State, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona and Sacramento State swim in Pac 10-sized pools, and butt up against pro sports as well. Weber State plays in the Wasatch Mountain shadows of Brigham Young, Utah and Utah State. Idaho State shares the Gem State with Idaho and, most challenging, Boise State, which has made the transition from the Big Sky to the loftiest ranks of the Football Bowl Subdivision. • Equal opportunity conquerors. In the past 14 Novembers, the Grizzlies are 6-0 against Idaho State in November, 5-0 against Sacramento State and Northern Arizona, and 4-0 against Portland State and Weber State. Only Eastern Washington (in 2002) and Montana State (2002, 2003 and 2005) have beaten Montana late in the season. Eastern Washington is arguably Montana’s peskiest conference foe, but for whatever reasons, the Eagles have popped up on the Grizzlies’ schedule in November just three times since ’95.

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“ Nobody walks the walk the way the Grizzlies do.” ...continued from page 71 UM is 12-3 against MSU in the 15 seasons since the Griz-Cat game was stationed at the end of the schedule. A lot of people don’t realize it, but between 1910 and 1993 Montana and Montana State met in the final game just three times, in 1925, 1953 and 1954. There’s probably something to the theory that it’s easier to keep focused on football in November when the Brawl of the Wild looms. • The big dogs are gone. UM ranks third on the Big Sky’s list of all-time winning football programs, behind Nevada and Idaho and just ahead of Boise State. From 1961 to 1990, Idaho was 9-0 against UM late in the season. Boise State beat the Grizzlies four of five times in November during its tenure in the Big Sky. Nevada was 3-1 in such meetings. Nevada left the league for Division I-A (now the Football Bowl Subdivision) in 1992. Boise State and Idaho followed suit in 1996, leaving Montana without a true nemesis.

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here are those who say it’s too easy, that the Grizzlies have done all they can do at this level and it’s time they pack their bags and follow Boise into the bowl crowds. Beyond the complexities

involved, such a move would surely change the dynamics of football around here, including the November championship dances we’ve all come to count on. “It’s one thing when you go into a game and you want to win,” Szalay said. “It’s another thing when you go in and it’s like you’re expected to win. I think the opponents, they just don’t have that backing. They don’t have the tradition, they don’t have the fan support. “If you talk just about the Big Sky, nobody can compare to the Griz as far as stadiums, as far as how they fill the seats, and just the winning tradition. That right there is probably the biggest factor in November.” Kim Briggeman is a reporter for the Missoulian who covered Grizzly football for a number of winning, and losing, seasons – and now covers Missoula County government, people and places. Reach him at kbriggeman@missoulian.com. Photographers Kurt Wilson and Tom Bauer have shot Grizzly football for the Missoulian for decades. Reach them at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at kwilson@ missoulian.com and tbauer@missoulian.com.

Joe Glenn, head coach of the Griz from 2000-02, congratulates players after a November win in Bozeman.

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The University of Montana School of Theatre & Dance presents “Hamlet,” by William Shakespeare, in performances Dec. 1-5 and 8-12, at the Montana Theatre on the UM campus. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m., with Saturday matinees beginning at 2 p.m. Call the Drama/Dance Box Office for tickets and further information, 243-4581. Montana Actors’ Theatre presents “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” by Tom Stoppard, in performances Dec. 2-6 and 9-12, at the Crystal Theatre, 515 S. Higgins Ave. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. (6 p.m. on Dec. 6 only). Visit MtActors. com for tickets and further information.

Dueling Hamlets ...continued from page 65 2003 and 2004, before launching its first full-on season in 2005-2006. The aim of the company, from the start, was to provide professional acting and directing opportunities for Missoula’s latent community of seasoned thespians, with a focus on literate and often edgy drama. Meantime, halfway across the state in Havre, a small group of ambitious actors was carrying out its own experiment in professional theatre with Montana Actors’ Theatre, the resident theatre company at MSU-Northern since the mid1990s. One of those actors, Grant Olson, was a born-and-raised local who had trained at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England. A little over a year ago, Olson decided he wanted to expand the company’s reach to Missoula. Over the summer of 2008, he came to town to present a production of Yasmina Reza’s “Art.” In the process, he found a new home.

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Within weeks, Olson had hatched plans to organize a five-show season of theatre at the Crystal Theatre, acting as the co-resident company with Montana Rep Missoula. “We really felt that the Crystal has the chance here to become a really great venue for theater,” Olson told the Missoulian at the time. “It just seemed like a leap we needed to take.” Suddenly, Missoula found itself basking in a wealth of independent professional theatre, with productions of new, locally written plays put up alongside some of the great classics of drama. In its first season, Montana Actors’ Theatre presented a range of plays that included Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and Frank McGuinness’ “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me,” while Montana Rep Missoula offered up productions of scripts such as David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Rabbit Hole” and Samuel D. Hunter’s “I Am Montana.”


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f the distinction between the two companies today remains unclear in the minds of local audiences, that’s both understandable and fine with Johnson and Olson. After all, Missoula is a small town, where paid acting opportunities were few and far between until recently. “The actors go back and forth quite a bit both between our two companies, and between our company and the university,� said Olson. In fact, one of Olson’s go-to actors, Matt Warner, decided after acting in a few of Montana Actors’ Theatre’s productions that he wanted to study acting at the university. He entered the program this autumn, and was soon cast in the upcoming production of “Hamlet� – throwing a small wrench into Olson’s own season. “Matt was supposed to do ‘Good Clean Fun’ with us (in October) – it was pretty much his show – so we had to rearrange our season so that he could do that later and do ‘Hamlet’ first,� said Olson. “It worked out fine, and I think it’s important that we’re able to be flexible in working together.� Other student actors, meantime, have suddenly found themselves able to find work in Missoula upon graduation. “What I’d like to happen is as we continue to grow – and it’s starting to happen already – is to have actors deciding they can make a living here in Missoula,� said Olson. “No matter where you go as an actor, you’re going to have to do a little extra work outside of acting. That’s the reality of being an actor. But you can be based in Missoula now and act anywhere in the world, and you can find local work to help fill in the gaps. The university is training 240 acting students at any time, but in town there weren’t any of them consistently hired (for acting work), until now. “If we can keep on building that, it

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helps the university with job placement – and of course, it helps us with a good supply of actors.”

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ike many of the best ideas of history, the plan to produce “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” alongside “Hamlet” was hatched over a beer. “Greg (Johnson) and I were having a beer at the James Bar, and Greg mentioned he was doing ‘Hamlet’ this year,” recalls Olson. “Someone else had mentioned a while back that they’d like us to do ‘Rosencrantz,’ and so it just seemed like something fortuitous that we couldn’t pass up.” Johnson said his own inspiration to produce “Hamlet” came upon realizing, with some degree of surprise, that the play hadn’t been presented at UM in the nearly two decades that he has been on campus. “Having done (Shakespeare’s) ‘Richard III’ a couple of years ago, we wanted to move up to the top and see if we have the students who can handle it,” said Johnson. “As we began to explore the idea, I think we have about four students who could play Hamlet; there’s a bunch of graduate students at the school right now who are really good, so there’s some maturity in the student body right now that fits well with such an important and well-known play.” Johnson being Johnson, though, he hardly wanted to present a traditional reading of the centuries-old script. After reflecting on his own longtime focus on great American plays and the iconography of this country, Johnson settled on a plan to present the bard’s existentialist drama cloaked in the black leather of 1950s-era rebel culture. “It’ll still be Elizabethan in spirit with the swordfights and the original language, of course,” said Johnson, “but the iconography is based around a James

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Dean, ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ alienated youth versus the suits kind of thing.” To purists, such a move might seem sacrilegious. But Johnson says the approach at least won’t surprise those who know his past work. “I’m not interested in doing museum pieces, I’m interested in doing plays where the audience can hear resonances today,” said Johnson. “I knew I was going to do (‘Hamlet’) with young adults, not a seasoned company, and I’m a director who for the last 20 years has worked with the American classics – O’Neill, Williams, Miller, Simon – that’s what I do for a living. So since I’m steeped in Americana, I said at this point in my career, why not marry them?”

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f nothing else, the approach will set Shakespeare’s drama closer to the time when Stoppard, widely considered one of the most important playwrights alive today, came upon his inspiration for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” In Stoppard’s play, the existentialist struggles of Hamlet to find a motive to act are replaced by the absurdist humor of two characters who bumble along, stumbling occasionally into brilliant insight, struggling to determine what’s happening around them. If Shakespeare’s Hamlet struggles with the question of whether to live, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern grapple with the more fundamental question of whether we are living in the first place. “I love the question about, when a character leaves the stage, does that character cease to exist?” said Olson. “In the case of this play, that question is approached not just in terms of showing what happens to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern when they’re not in ‘Hamlet,’ but in much deeper ways too. “Stoppard definitely deepens our understanding of Shakespeare,” added


Olson. “The ‘Dead in a box’ speech (from ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’), it’s a mirror of the famous ‘To be, or not to be’ speech, but it also expands the meaning of that speech. Also, when Hamlet says, ‘I could be bound in a nutshell but thinking makes it so,’ that line distilled is this play: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a thought and then they become life.” If all that seems like heady academic talk, Olson is quick to say that Stoppard’s play doesn’t require a degree in English literature to appreciate. “It’s hilarious; it’s two comedians who have no clue what’s going on, they’re thrown on a stage, they’ve got some sort of consciousness that they’re being watched,” said Olson. “It’s definitely a deep play, but its depth is transparent; Stoppard is amazing at presenting these ideas in an accessible, funny, and human way.” Johnson stresses that his own production of “Hamlet” is equally accessible to modern audiences. “ ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’ is very accessible because it’s written in the modern mode, and Shakespeare has always been our contemporary because he’s a genius,” said Johnson. “The plays do complement each other so much; one enhances the other, and it’s good for the box office because if you see one you have to see the other.” In the bigger local picture, Johnson said he feels that the coordination of university productions with outside, independent theatre is an important step toward building a more lively and stable theatre scene in Missoula. “It’s a manifestation of the partnership between Montana Rep and Montana Actors’ Theatre at the Crystal,” said Johnson. “It’s really lovely to have that kind of dialogue going on, and it’s something that I think shows the creativity and community spirit of the town and the university. We’ve got a whole lot of good stuff going on in Missoula now, and that’s good for everybody with an interest in theatre.” Joe Nickell covers arts and entertainment for the Missoulian, and blogs at NickellBag.com. Tom Bauer is a Missoulian photographer. Reach him at (406) 523-5270 or by e-mail at tbauer@missoulian.com.

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parting shot

p.s. photo by kurt wilson

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A bouquet of plastic roses frozen against a winter windowpane helps us look forward to the summer months, but reminds us to enjoy that which is here now.


TMRR

Trout Meadows River Ranch Missoula, Montana

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Missoula.com Magazine 2009  

2009 edition of the Missoula.com Magazine

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