Category Archives: Entertainment

The Hottest Little Festival in Texas

Amazingly, the winner James can still speak even after eating a ghost pepper, which is rated at over one million Scoville units in heat.

Amazingly, the winner James can still speak even after eating a ghost pepper, which is rated at over one million Scoville units in heat.

 

There are a lot of festivals in east Texas, celebrating everything from roses, peanuts, yams, trains, pecans, mushrooms, pipe organs, chili making, stew making, duclimers, dogwoods and even feral hogs.

The Hot Pepper Eating Contest trophy with some of the hot peppers in the contest.

The Hot Pepper Eating Contest trophy with some of the hot peppers in the contest.

Palestine, Texas, boasts that it hosts the Hottest Little Festival in Texas every October. My family and I arrived in historic downtown Palestine in time for the hot pepper eating contest on Saturday, October 22, 2016.  Six brave people entered the contest. (Another two were turned away because they weren’t eighteen.)

The master of ceremonies of the Hot Pepper Eating Contest, which was sponsored by Brookshire Grocery Company.

The master of ceremonies of the Hot Pepper Eating Contest, which was sponsored by Brookshire Grocery Company.

Contestants were given a series of peppers in order of heat, beginning with green peppers with a Scovill rating of zero. Next was the banana pepper, the jalapeno, the serrano, the seven-pot and then the ghost pepper. The scorpion and the Carolina reaper were next, but all of the contestants except two had already dropped out when the ghost pepper was presented.  The runner-up declined the ghost pepper, so after James ate the ghost pepper, he was spared any further torture. The Carolina reaper is currently the hottest pepper in the world.

The master of ceremony told each contestant that they had to chew the pepper for a while and not swallow it until he told them to. I would have stopped after the banana pepper. James, the winner, received $150 and a trophy in the shape of a red hot pepper. The two runners up received a cake.  Each contestant got a glass of milk to drink to neutralize the heat.

According to Wikipedia, Palestine is a relatively small town located in the Piney Woods area of Texas,  equidistant from the major airport cities of Dallas, Houston and Shreveport.  It celebrates its natural beauty characterized by a magnificent dogwood floral blooming season with an annual Dogwood Trails festival in April. It’s a small town of about 20,000 people, but it’s big on history, with 1,800 historical sites on the National Register of Historic Places.  It’s the western terminus of the Texas State Railroad, a steam and diesel railroad museum operating between Palestine and Rusk.

All six of the entrants were able to eat the banana peppers.

All six of the entrants were able to eat the banana peppers.

Contest participants prepare to eat their jalapenos.

Contest participants prepare to eat their jalapenos.

The winner James, holding his trophy, drinks milk to neutralize the burning sensation. James has won the contest several times previously.

The winner James, holding his trophy, drinks milk to neutralize the burning sensation. James has won the contest several times.

James, the hot pepper eating contest winner, shows off his $150 check.

James, the hot pepper eating contest winner, shows off his $150 check.

Click on a thumbnail to start the slideshow:

The Scoville Scale measurement of the pungency and heat of chili peppers.

Hot Pepper Festival Facebook Page

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Scenes From Autumn in the Missouri Countryside

Colorful Flint or Indian Corn
“Colorful Indian Corn” by Catherine Sherman

My friend Lynn and I took our cameras to a couple of Missouri farms that sell pumpkins, apples and other goods, offer hay rides and let children pet animals. The weather was beautiful, and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of the summer-like days before winter hits.

Ripe Red apples are ready to be picked.

Ripe Red apples are ready to be picked.

Old Farm Wagon in Hay Field Poster
“Old Farm Wagon in a Hay Field” by Catherine Sherman
The Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri, offers a variety of farm goods for sale as well as activities for children.

The Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri, offers a variety of farm goods for sale as well as activities for families, and is a place for receptions, church and school picnics and weddings.

This goat hopes I can read the sign at Red Barn Farm: Goat Feeding Station.  Lucky for her, there were several children who didn't even need a sign to recognize a goat in need of a treat.

This goat hopes I can read the sign at Red Barn Farm: Goat Feeding Station. Lucky for her, there were several children who didn’t even need a sign to recognize a goat in need of a treat.

Choose a pumpkin at Red Barn Farm!

Choose a pumpkin at Red Barn Farm!

The Farmer’s House Market near Weston, Missouri, sells locally grown and produced “farm to table” products such as vegetables, fruit, honey, cheese and farm and home related items.  It's a working farm where children, youth and young adults with developmental disabilities can live, work, play and grow.

The Farmer’s House Market near Weston, Missouri, sells locally grown and produced “farm to table” products such as vegetables, fruit, honey, cheese and farm and home related items. It’s a working farm where children, youth and young adults with developmental disabilities can live, work, play and grow.

A beautiful palomino horse stands on a hill against a bright blue sky at Red Barn Farm.

A beautiful palomino horse stands on a hill against a bright blue sky at Red Barn Farm.

A scarecrow welcomes visitors to the apple orchard at Red Barn Farm.

A scarecrow welcomes visitors to the apple orchard at Red Barn Farm.

Mini white pumpkins and other produce are for sale at The Farmer's House in Weston, Missouri.

Mini white pumpkins and other produce are for sale at The Farmer’s House in Weston, Missouri.

Bride and Groom scarecrows enjoy a beautiful autumn day at Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri.

Bride and Groom scarecrows enjoy a beautiful autumn day at Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri.

About The Farmer’s House.

Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri.

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Filed under Entertainment, Gardening, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Photography

Sam Bush playing “Billy Bob” Marley’s “One Love”

When Sam Bush and his band started to play this bluegrass-reggae fusion of “One Love” by Bob Marley (or “Billy Bob” Marley as Sam Bush called him) I fumbled with my new camera to start recording. I missed the first minute or two, but still captured almost ten minutes. My son-in-law has played bass in reggae bands so I wanted him to hear this. He and my daughter have seen Sam Bush with us in this concert series in the past. As an unexpected bonus, the bass guitarist played a solo.

Sam Bush 2011, Olathe Free Summer Concert series.

Sam Bush 2011, Olathe Free Summer Concert series.

This is the fifth year we’ve seen Sam Bush play in the Olathe Free Concert Series, which is in its 14th year.  Sam Bush performed this year on June 7th. (2013) I noticed as I looked at my photos from previous years that there’s at least one person in front of the stage wearing the same shirt each time.  See if you can find him.  You’ll see him in the video, too.

From the Olathe Website: “The Olathe FREE Summer Concert series began in 2000. Each year it showcases top quality, cutting edge artists featuring a variety of family friendly genres of music. Thanks to the support from the population at large and our generous sponsors, we are accomplishing that goal. Over the past 14 years the Olathe Parks and Recreation Department has presented local, regional, national and international performers. Some of these artists are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, have won numerous Grammy Awards, have written #1 Hits on the Billboard charts, won Blues Music Awards, Country Music Awards and are in the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.
The series brings not only music to Olathe, but community giving. Each show a local charity is recognized and concert goers are encouraged to make donations. In the last 8 years more than $127,000 has been given back by the more than 15,000 a year attendees.”

Official Sam Bush Website.

Here’s a blog post I wrote about Asleep at the Wheel, which performed at the Olathe Free Summer Concert Series in 2010.

Sam Bush 2010, Olathe Free Summer Concert series.

Sam Bush 2010, Olathe Free Summer Concert series.

 

Sam Bush 2012, Olathe Free Concert Series.

Sam Bush 2012, Olathe Free Concert Series.

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Jackson Galaxy, the Cat Daddy, Comes to Kansas City

Jackson Galaxy Signing my Book Bag

Jackson Galaxy is signing the book bag I won in a drawing at his talk in Kansas City on May 8, 2013.  The first book I put inside was Galaxy’s Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean, which he also signed.

Is your cat mojo working? I got my mojo revved up last night when Jackson Galaxy came to town in a Rainy Day Books event.

Jackson Galaxy’s “cat mojo” approach to cat behavior helps people to understand why their cats act the way they do. Galaxy, a cat behaviorist, spoke to a large, very enthusiastic crowd at Unity Temple on the Kansas City Plaza on Wednesday, May 8, as his first stop on a book tour for his book “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean.”Signed Jackson Galaxy Book and Book Bag

Galaxy, known as the Cat Daddy, is the star of Animal Planet’s popular television show “My Cat from Hell.” My cats have all been little sweethearts, but even purr-fect cats can use a little mojo.

Many of the attendees were volunteers and staff members at Kansas City area no-kill shelters, such as Wayside Waifs, where I volunteer. In fact, many of these dedicated animal lovers helped to organize the event, including a reception. While on his book tour, Galaxy, a life-long shelter worker, has a great appreciation for shelter workers. At a shelter where he worked, Galaxy developed his cat mojo methods to help misbehaving cats become adoptable. Galaxy is also devoted to reducing to zero the number of animals that are killed in shelters. While that might seem an impossible goal, the number of animals euthanized has dropped dramatically in recent years. Spread the gospel of the joys of being a cat or dog guardian! Spay and neuter, too.

At Wayside Waifs, I’ve marveled to see scared and unhappy cats become loving companions with the love and devotion of the staff and volunteers. (Who wouldn’t be mad after what some of these cats have experienced?)   If you understand the needs of cats — food, territory, the need to hunt and explore, some companionship and physical contact — you can guide a cat to better behavior and enjoy meow-velous companionship. Looking at this list of feline needs, I see cats and humans are not so different after all!

Jackson Galaxy, Cat Daddy, in Kansas City

Cat Men
When a woman in the audience asked whether most cat lovers were women, scores of men stood up to announce that they were “cat men.”

After his talk in Kansas City, Jackson Galaxy signed copies of his book "Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean."

After his talk in kansas City, Jackson Galaxy signed copies of his book “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean.”

Jackson Galaxy Website, including links to his Twitter feed (#TeamCatMojo) and Facebook page.

Click on “My Cat From Hell” to see episodes.

Tony (he’s on the back of the motorcycle here), is one of the cats featured in “My Cat From Hell. ”  Tony, with his friend Bud, is a star of greeting cards, designed by Tony’s guardian, Betty Matsumoto-Schuch. Click on the card to see more.

The episode featuring Tony: My Cat From Hell — Tony’s Follow-up

To see Screen-Size versions of these photographs, click on the thumbnails:

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Education, Entertainment, Humor

Arlo Guthrie and Friends

Arlo Guthrie came to my town in March 2013 on a concert tour labeled “Here Comes the Kid.”  It might seem funny for a sixty-something man to call himself a kid, but Arlo of “Alice’s Restaurant” will always seem like a kid to me, despite the gray hair.  And Arlo is the son (kid) of iconic folk musician Woody Guthrie, whose music Arlo is celebrating on his tour, including Woody’s iconic song “This Land is Your Land.”  The centennial of Woody’s birth was in 2012.  Woody’s autobiography Bound for Glory received several Academy Award wins and nominations in 1977.

Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie

Arlo said that just like every historical location takes on more history the more it’s visited, every song takes on more layers whenever it’s played.  This is particularly true of Woody’s and Arlo’s music. Folk music of old, poetry and even news clippings inspired Woody’s music, which others also performed and made their own. Arlo is continuing this tradition. He  performed solo in Kansas City, but he brought with him the influences of friends, family and fellow musicians.

When I told my friend Jan that I was going to see Arlo in concert, she emailed me:  “Oh, how I’d love to hear Arlo Guthrie sing ‘City of New Orleans.’ A tonic for my soul.”

The song was a tonic for Arlo, too.  Before he sang “City of New Orleans” in the concert that night, Arlo told the audience that he first heard the song after a night of performing at a club in Chicago.  Weary, he was in no mood to listen to any song, but reluctantly he agreed to listen to Steve Goodman sing his song for the price of a beer. Arlo promised grumpily that he’d listen as long as the beer lasted.  Soon, however, Arlo forgot his fatigue as he marveled at this hymn to a train called “City of New Orleans” that traveled between Chicago and New Orleans. Arlo recorded Goodman’s “City of New Orleans” song in 1972, and it became a hit for Arlo.  Goodman won a posthumous Grammy in 1985 for the song in Best Country song, performed by Willie Nelson. The song has been performed by many others, as well. (Be sure to listen to Goodman’s funny country song at the bottom of this post.)

Arlo rode the “City of New Orleans” train in 2009 from Chicago to New Orleans raising money along the route in concerts to help musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Read about  Arlo’s Train Tour.

 

This October 9, 1969, photograph shows Arlo Guthrie singing "Amazing Grace" to his new bride Jackie Hyde, at their wedding ceremony on Guthrie's farm in Washington, Massachusetts. The couple shared a chocolate wedding cake made by Alice Brock, for whom Arlo Guthrie's iconic film "Alice's Restaurant" (released in November that year) and song is named. Jackie Guthrie died on October 14, 2012, at the couple's winter home in Florida. They had recently celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary. (AP Photo/Steve Starr, file)

This October 9, 1969, photograph shows Arlo Guthrie singing “Amazing Grace” to his new bride Jackie Hyde, at their wedding ceremony on Guthrie’s farm in Washington, Massachusetts. The couple shared a chocolate wedding cake made by Alice Brock, for whom Arlo Guthrie’s iconic film “Alice’s Restaurant” (released in November that year) and song is named. Jackie Guthrie died on October 14, 2012, at the couple’s winter home in Florida. They had recently celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary. (AP Photo/Steve Starr, file)

Arlo dedicated his song “Coming into Los Angeles” to his wife of 43 years, Jackie. He described how he first saw fell in love with Jackie not long after he arrived in California at age eighteen.

“I saw a woman ride by on a horse at the head of a rodeo parade.  I thought she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, but she didn’t even look at me,” he said.  Three years later they met and later married.  Sadly, Jackie died in October 2012, not long after Arlo, Jackie, their children and spouses and grandchildren — a group of almost 20 — had traveled across the United States and Canada on a tour celebrating Woody’s centennial birthday.  Jackie recorded every Guthrie Family show during the years and posted more than 250 clips on her “Mrs. G’s Videos” YouTube channel, which can also be viewed on the family’s company website Rising Son Records as Mrs. G’s Homegrown Videos.

Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land is Your Land,” featuring Arlo, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Little Richard, John Mellancamp and many others.

About the song City of New Orleans.

Jackie and Arlo Guthrie's weddingThe Official Arlo Guthrie Website.
Jackie Guthrie Obit.
Jackie Guthrie.
Steve Goodman.

About Arlo Guthrie and Family Tour to Celebrate Woody Guthrie’s Centennial.

What Jackie Guthrie wrote about Mrs. G’s Family Archives in 2011. (Jackie’s user name is JGuth3)

“Mother and grandmother of a bunch of folk singers! I married that wandering folk singer, Arlo Guthrie, 42 years ago.

I love shooting and editing videos. Especially when The Guthrie Family Rides Again tours, when most all of our kids and grand kids play together.”

From the concert program in March 2013: Throughout his own career, Arlo Guthrie has honored his father in song as well as in life. With the centennial of Woody’s birthday in 1912, Arlo embarked on a new solo tour, ‘Here Comes the Kid,’ continuing the celebration of Woody Guthrie’s immeasurable contributions to the landscape of American folk music.

Since childhood, Arlo was amazed by the creative genius of his father and his friends who would drop  y: Leadbelly, Brownee McGee and Cisco Houston, to name a few. Not surprising, Arlo drew from those experiences and he in turn became a delineative figure for a new generation. Arlo has long paid homage to his dad with his own renditions of Woody’s songs, but of equal importance – Woody’s legacy is well defined in Arlo’s own works: in his humor, his political and social activism, and his undeniable gift for storytelling…”

In a video below, Goodman sings a comical “country” song, “You Never Even Call Me By My Name,” he wrote with John Prine, which includes all of the essential elements. 

You Never Even Call Me By My Name

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Historic Theaters

The Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena, California, photographed in September 2009. Opened in 1925, this theater is now closed.

The Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena, California, photographed in September 2009. Opened in 1925, this theater is now closed.

It was love at first sight when I saw The Rialto Theatre.  I was introduced to this old beauty when I visited my friend Jan in South Pasadena, California, in the 1990’s. I’ve taken many photographs of “The Rialto” since then, but may not get the chance much longer if it isn’t saved.  This venerable theater opened in 1925 but it is now closed and in danger of demolition, as are many old theaters.  A scene in Robert Altman’s movie film “The Player” was filmed in The Rialto’s back alley.  “Scream 2” also featured The Rialto.

The Rialto is beautiful even in its decay.   Like so many old theaters, it was decorated grandly.  It has a fanciful Moorish, Egyptian and baroque motif. When I wrote an article for the Kansas City Star’s magazine about Orval Hixon, who photographed vaudeville stars from 1914 to 1930, I saw photographs of many glamorous theaters that have now fallen into ruin or are gone.

In the background is The Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena, California.

In the background is The Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena, California.

In the “old days,” an evening spent in the theater was a beautiful experience beyond what was being performed on the stage or shown on the screen. Some of the first movies I saw as a child was in The Orpheum, a gorgeously decorated old theater in Wichita, Kansas, which was originally built for vaudeville shows. Like many entertainment legends, these old theaters needs more than face lifts to keep them alive.  Sometimes only the marquee sign is all that’s saved from an old theater.

Some of the theaters, such as the ones in Hawaii that I photographed, might not be grand, but they have their own charm. Farm workers and U.S. servicemen were among their clientale.

It’s bittersweet seeing these old cinema relics, whether they are grand cinema palaces or more humble screens. I’m grateful many of these historic theaters are still standing, but who knows for how long? People watch films on their computers and even on their phones these days.  When people do go to the theater they want a great sound system, recliner seats, cup holders and even 3-D screens.

Jan and I and our husbands planned to see a movie at The Rialto in the early 2000s, when the theater was still open, but when we got to the box office we were told that the projector was broken.  So we walked across the street to a video store and rented a VHS movie to watch at home. Sadly, I never saw a movie at The Rialto before it closed.

Here’s a slide show of theaters I’ve photographed in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan and Missouri.  There is information about each theater when you click on the photo.  CLICK ON ANY THUMBNAIL PHOTO TO BEGIN THE SLIDESHOW AND SEE THE PHOTOS FULL SIZED.

Click on Cinema Treasures for a guide to more than 30,000 movie theaters from around the world, including theaters that are now closed.

Click on I’m Not Ready For My Close Up to read about my brief appearance on the Big Screen in the movie “fling.”

Here’s a blog that documents grand old theaters, many sadly in advanced decay.  After the Final Curtain

About the theaters featured in slide show:

The Rialto, South Pasadena, California

Friends of The Rialto

Friends of The Rialto Facebook Page.

Sebastiani Theatre, Sonoma, California.

Michigan Theatre, Escanaba, Michigan

Gem Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri

Aloha Theatre, Kainaliu, Big Island, Hawaii

Honoka’a People’s Theater, Honoka’a, Big Island, Hawaii

Honomu Theater, Honomu, Big Island, Hawaii

Na’alehu Theatre, Na’alehu, Big Island, Hawaii

Park Theatre, Estes Park, Colorado

Screenland Crossroads Sign from old Isis Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri.

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Filed under Entertainment, History, Movies, Photography, Travel

Eighty-Four Years of Best Picture Oscar Winners

Nelson Carvajal, a video essayist and digital filmmaker, has assembled brief scenes from the last 84 Best Picture Oscar winners in this video in preparation for the 85th Academy Award show on Sunday, February 24, 2013.

I’ve seen four of the nine films nominated for Best Picture. “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Life of Pi” and “Lincoln” in this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees.

How many did you know?  Click here for the answers. How many have you seen?

Here’s the list of all of this year’s nominations: 2013 Oscar Nominations

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