Columns

A Worm Moon And The Equinox

The vernal equinox arrived at 5:58 p.m. on Wednesday, marking the official arrival of spring. With it came the third and final supermoon of the year, all of which appeared in the first three months of 2019. The worm moon — named because the ground begin s to warm and earthworms rise — wasn’t as spectacular as January’s blood moon, which was accompanied by a lunar eclipse and made for quite a sight. I went out nevertheless after completing my shift at the university library and shot some photos before heading home. An equinox means the sun is shining directly above the equator,...

Read more...

Wendy Reves: From Marshall to Fame

The woman who became internationally known as Wendy Reves started out as Wyn-Nellie Russell, a native of Marshall, Texas. Born in 1916, she fled there at 17. She later claimed she saw a black man tarred and feathered there by the Ku Klux Klan as a child and apparently never returned to Marshall. An early marriage failed but got her out of East Texas in the early 1930s. She was a slender, long-legged beauty who became a top model for the Powers Agency after moving to New York and renaming herself Wendy. Photos of her soon appeared in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Not long after her modeling career...

Read more...

A Horse On A Treadmill, And A Kangaroo

DENTON – On the same day, we saw: A reining horse that could slam on the brakes from a gallop and slide through the dirt of the largest indoor horse arena in America, then put it into reverse and rapidly turn circles that made me dizzy just to watch. A horse clomping along on a giant treadmill as a trainer loosely held the reins. Sydney the kangaroo, who wore a diaper and hopped about inside a prime steakhouse, which is a feature of another horse farm. JoJo the camel, who is fond of licking folks’ ears and hangs out in a pen with a cuddly lamb and a stinky goat. Mounted cowboys...

Read more...

Getting to El Dorado No Simple Task

EL DORADO, ARKANSAS — From East Texas, one has to work at getting to this town of 18,000 just north of the Louisiana border. This is especially true if trying to avoid the long-running construction project on Interstate 20 at the Texas-Louisiana border. As we headed east into Shreveport, traffic was backed up for miles on the westbound side, while we moved sluggishly past the now-closed Louisiana Welcome Center. Soon we left the familiar confines of this aged interstate and headed north, relying solely on the Maps app on the phone. I weaned myself off paper maps a dozen years ago after getting...

Read more...

Churchill Walked With Destiny

A framed poster of a famous portrait of Winston Churchill, photographed by Yousuf Karsh, hangs in our living room. I bought it from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1996, which hosted an exhibit of Karsh’s portraits that year. A cropped version of that portrait graces the cover of the latest biography of Churchill, published last year. Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking With Destiny came to the LeTourneau University campus earlier this week. There are 1,009 previous Churchill biographies. Despite that, Walking With Destiny has been hailed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal...

Read more...

An Added Bonus or a Passing Fad?

I read a piece by Benjamin Dreyer a few days ago in Medium, a website I recently discovered thanks to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, owner of the Washington Post, and richest human on the planet. Bezos, if one keeps up with sleazy current events, was outed by the National Enquirer after announcing he and his wife were divorcing. The Enquirer soon after published stories about the affair Bezos was having with another woman. Bezos fought back, not denying the affair but enlisting his famed security chief to investigate how the tabloid got hold of his text messages and reportedly some rather embarrassing...

Read more...

Embarking on a Sesquicentennial Project

A commemorative plate hangs in our house, from Longview’s centennial celebration in 1970. It features a half-dozen scenes from the city’s history, such as the Lathrop Discovery Well in 1931 that ushered in the East Texas oil boom, and the Dalton Gang bank robbery of 1894, which is reenacted on the brick streets of downtown Longview every spring. My dad was a 37-year-old commercial artist in 1970. We had moved to Longview 18 months earlier from New Hampshire to escape the harsh winters and sluggish economy. He quickly secured a job working as a sign painter for a company that held the contract...

Read more...

Sign Shortage Confounds At State Park

It was a perfect day for a hike, and my Beautiful Mystery Companion and I took full advantage. We arrived at Tyler State Park just past noon Sunday, paid $12 to an impossibly young park ranger, got a trails map and headed into the park to hike B Loop. The cloudless sky was a wintry shade of blue, but the temperature was perfect — 60 degrees with a steady breeze. We drove around the park a while, looking for B Loop’s trailhead without success. The back of the map described it as being 3.1 miles long with many elevation changes, “making it a challenging but beautiful trek through the park’s...

Read more...

Why Transparency in Government Matters

The Texas Legislature is back in session. For those of us who think transparency in government is critical to a functioning democracy, that means trying to block attempts to create even more loopholes in the freedom of information laws. Every session, a bevy of bills are filed to make it more difficult for the public to obtain information kept by the folks whose paychecks we fund. FOI advocates work tirelessly throughout the session to improve bad ol’ bills or block them altogether. They also work with legislators who understand the importance of government transparency. Fortunately, there are several...

Read more...

A Single Bloom in a Monochrome Month

A scraggly camellia bush is planted in a cracked pot on our back deck. It has not fared well since making the voyage from our front yard, where it joined three others in an unsuccessful attempt to add some color to a small patch of grass. Too shady. So it was placed in the pot and transported to the back deck. Its counterparts did not survive the transplants, but this camellia has hung in there for a few years now. Its leaves are mottled with yellow splotches, no doubt infested with some plant disease of which I am woefully ignorant. About a week ago, this camellia burst forth with a fat red blossom,...

Read more...