Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Son of a Witch

Son of a Witch
by Gregory Maguire
Recommended Ages: 14+

+++ REVIEW IN PROGRESS +++

Even More Found on Floor

This week's leftovers on the layout board for the newspaper I edit:

Future Farmers of America members from Morgan County R-I high school stand by to serve at the Missouri Farm Bureau dinner Thursday, Sept. 18, at the First Assembly of God gym in Versailles. From left are Blayne Murry, sentinel Clayton Mathis, and president Ethan Schwartz.

Curtis Batson test drives a pre-owned exercise bicycle Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Skelly Station yard sale on Second Street in Stover.

Here are some selected shots from a high school athletic department golf tournament that I shot on Saturday, Sept. 20:

And here are a few of the shots I took at a gun and knife show the same day:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Still More Found on Floor

This week's batch of photos left lying on the layout room floor at The Morgan County Press of Stover, Mo.:

Marinda Iman, left, Garrett Goetze, Lane Avey, and Jessica Schroeder study in the library Thursday, Sept. 11, at Morgan County R-I school in Stover.

Mary Michael’s preschool class sits down for a teddy-bear picnic Friday, Sept. 12, at Morgan County R-I school in Stover. Each student brought a stuffed bear from home and shared Teddy Bear crackers served by Michael and aide Kathy Nolting.

High School Art I teacher Anthony Mitchell II, left, and students Weston Dake, Trenton Webb, and Chance Ahrens, display their drawings Tuesday, Sept. 9, in the hallway at Morgan County R-I high school in Stover.

And now one taken by my Dad, the editor of The Versailles Leader-Statesman:
Ernie Westby, left, and R.D. Fish watch the karaoke contest at the Hillbilly Fair Saturday, Sept. 13 from the picnic pavillion by the main stage at the Laurie Fairgrounds. Westby, former editor of the Morgan County Press, reports his health is still a major issue, but he was able to get to the fair, and he met the new editor. They swapped stories while they listened to the singing.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shooting Cars in Stover, Mo.

I got a kick out of these bits of scenery on my newspaper beat...

Friday, September 12, 2014

More Left on the Floor

More leftovers from my weekly stock of candids in and around Stover, Mo.:

Gail Walton, left, Danny Cox, Jan McCurry, Mary Cox, Anne Kirchhofer, and Sylvia Taylor finish eating lunch Friday, Aug. 29, at the grand opening of Turtle Cove Coffee in Stover.

Morgan County R-I school board members Scott Bauer, left, Joel Clark, Joe Menning, superintendent Steve Weinhold, board president Tom Chandler, vice president Mark Stevens, Jay Smith, and Steve Eckhoff meet to draft a mission statement and goals Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the school in Stover.

Music teachers John White, left, and Clint Kincaid arrange the choir-band room at the Morgan County R-I school Monday, Aug. 18. White, semi-retired, teaches high school choir and band. Kincaid teaches music classes to kindergarten through grade six.

My cutlines for these two photos went astray. Short of going back through my notes from Aug. 19, all I can say is that they featured students and parents at the Morgan County R-I school open house.

Here is the press room crew at the Vernon Publishing office in Eldon, Mo., taking delivery of a new fork lift on Aug. 19.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wicked

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
by Gregory Maguire
Recommended Ages: 14+

I've had plenty of opportunity to read this book since it came out in 1995. For one thing, I have owned a copy of it for some years. It isn't that I wasn't interested. It's simply that I didn't think the book needed any boosting from me. It's a popular bestseller. Dozens of readers have recommended it to me. A long-running and award-winning Broadway musical was inspired by it. There are rumors of the book being adapted for a TV miniseries, and of the musical being made into a film. It has become the first book in a quartet known as "The Wicked Years," all of which have already been reviewed by enough critics. Chances are, a lot of people reading this review have already formed their own opinion of the book. So what do I have to add except, "Ding, dong, I read it too"?

I didn't end up reading it, strictly speaking. I listened to John McDonough's audiobook performance, one of several Maguire titles my local public library holds in its CD Book collection. McDonough did a great job voicing all the characters from young to old, male and female, good and bad. The recording made a week or two of commuting and business travel pass very enjoyably. By driving amid quivers of intrigue, wriggles of suspense, shakes of laughter, and blurs of tears, I added risk and adventure to pedestrians and other drivers. It livened up the whole community.

Note well, this story carries an adult content advisory. This is not a cute little children's book, like the Oz books of L. Frank Baum and those who carried on after his death. It is not an innocent fantasy in a magic world full of whimsy and nonsense. Dorothy only briefly appears in it. It's the life story of the Wicked Witch of the West, and you already know how that ends: with a scream of agony and a wail of despair as a bucketful of water melts her. What you don't know is how she became wicked.

Elphaba Thropp was always mean and green. It was tough on her family from the day she was born. It gave her trouble later when she was in college with Glinda, who would one day be called the good witch, and her beautiful but disabled sister Nessarose, a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the East. They didn't come into these nicknames until much later. Some of that had to do with religion, politics, and personality. Some of it really had to do with a mysterious, magic-tinged fate.

It's an adult book, as I was saying just now. Partly this means it has coarse language and graphic scenes of sex and violence. And partly it means that it explores grown-up issues, like the tension between religious belief and unbelief, whether or not people have a soul, the rights of animals (not to mention Animals), the dangers of a society ruled by pragmatists, nihilists, and totalitarian strongmen. It touches on adultery, substance abuse, the ethics of education, and economic and cultural inequality. Above all, it is about a woman's quest for forgiveness.

The sequels to this book are Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Maguire's other work includes the Hamlet Chronicles series of seven children's books, counting down from Seven Spiders Spinning; Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Mirror Mirror; and What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy.

Found on the Layout Room Floor

Here are some photos I took for the Sept. 10 edition of the Morgan County Press that proved surplus to requirements.

Adam Blanchard, left, Robert Blanchard, and Nicolas Newman play together Tuesday, Sept. 2, along Walnut Street in Stover, Mo.

Diana Smithey relaxes Thursday, Sept. 4, among the decorative features in her front yard on Third Street in Stover.

Dawson Propst, 11, practices tunes by Billy Joel and Scott Joplin Thursday, Sept. 4, at the back of Goetze Bros. Furniture in Stover.

Bob Kendall, left, gives John Hamm a trim Friday, Sept. 5, at the Stover Barber Shop.

Ron Randall, left, Donna Randall, Norman Worthley, and Walt Worthley participate in the city-wide garage sale Friday, Sept. 5, in Stover. The Randalls make several purchases at Norman Worthley’s sale.