Monday, September 30, 2013

Mystery Writers

                              Mystery/Suspense Writers 

in the Mausoleum

(by candlelight inside the park's 100-year-old mausoleum)
7 pm Wednesday, October 23
1900 Franklin Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA

Santa Rosa Memorial Park is hosting its first annual Mystery Writers in the Mausoleum on Wednesday, October 23. The free event takes places in the park's 100-year-old mausoleum. Still without electricity the Odd Fellows mausoleum is located at 1900 Franklin Avenue in Santa Rosa.
Nine mystery writers and dramatists will share stories of suspense, mystery, magic and the supernatural by candlelight. Selections will be read by authors Robbi Sommers Bryant, Ana Manwaring, Charles Markee, Paul Foley, Jo Lauer, Ann Wilkes, Karen Pierce Gonzalez and others. The evening will also include two dramatic readings - Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart and another selected work by actors David Gonzalez and John Moran. Highlights also include two spooky folktales and a brief Q/A session after each reading.

“This is a great way to showcase some of Sonoma County’s talented mystery writers,” said Laura Neisius, general manger. The mausoleum, she added, will be the perfect setting for spine tingling tales.

This event is a collaboration with Redwood Writers, Sisters In Crime NorCal, and FolkHeart Press. The program is scheduled last from 7 p.m. -9 p.m.  Participants can purchase author books in the Rose Corridor during intermission.  Warm wear is advised.

For details about this free event, visit

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy 175th Birthday!

Victoria Woodhull- American Folk Heroine

For a woman to consider a financial question was shuddered over as a profanity.
Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull – an advocate of free love well before it was fashionable in the 1960’s - fought hard for women’s rights. The first female candidate (Equal Rights Party) for President of the United States, started a weekly newspaper, the Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly.  She was also the first woman to manage a brokerage firm on Wall Street.

Born on September 23, 1838 in Ohio, it was after moving to New York that she became a strong advocate of the idea that marriage does not exist and that people are free to love and be intimate with whoever they please for however long they please.  Before becoming aware of her free love philosophy, she held the respect of women suffragists such as Susan B. Anthony.  Unfortunately she lost the support of many women who did not endorse her views.   

 “The Bewitching Broker” was respected but Woodhull’s political career felt short of its goal when obscenity charges were filed against her for publishing an account of a prominent New York minister’s illicit affair.  She and the scandals she became involved with led to her becoming known as “The Wicked Woodull” after all the scandals she became involved in. 

Until she died in 1927, she promoted ideas of equality and civil rights for all. Her goal was to uplift the working class who struggled beneath the powerful controls of  the elite capitalist government of her day. It would take another hundred years or so for her reforms to be implemented.
Like those who come before and after her, this folk heroine risked a great deal to improve the lives of others. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Solo Performance Tells Folk Story

The Hero's Journey of a Wretch

Playwright and journalist David Templeton is bringing his critically-acclaimed, award-winning one-man show Wretch Like Me to the Occidental Center for the Arts stage (Sonoma County, Ca) September 28 and 29. The performance provides insights into the hero's journey of one young teenage boy whose life as a faith-based puppeteer took some unexpected sweet and sour twists and turns.
David recently agreed to talk with me about the show which is set in the blissed-out believer landscape of Southern California in the 1970s.

Q: The world of folklore operates on many levels and centers around individual and cultural expressions of universal themes. In this one-man show, you tell your story as a California boy coming of age in the 1970-80's. The journey begins, as many hero journeys do, as a quest. Can you tell us what you were searching for?

A: Simply put, I was looking for acceptance, for friends, for love. As a slightly weird kid who was obsessed with puppets (inspired by Shari Lewis) and with death—starting when I watched my brother accidentally cook a salamander during a pre-adolescent science experiment in the kitchen—I was not too popular. I was constantly bullied and terrorized at school. At any point, I would have joined any group, any clique, any gang that accepted me. It wasn't until high school, when I was invited to check out the Jesus Club on campus, that I found my people.

Q: Along the way, most folk heroes apply already learned beliefs and values to obstacles they must face. Often they have to adapt the skills/tools they already have and also acquire new ones in order to overcome the challenges they are presented with. What new talents/awarenesses/understandings did you experience as a result of this journey?

A: Strangely, it's those same obsessions with death and puppets that helped me, as young David, in my journey. After finding Jesus in a Release Time Bible Study trailer during the fifth grade, I fused my new love of Jesus with my old love of death in some very surprising ways. I become a bit of an expert on crucifixion. In a scene in this show, I fall asleep on the floor, my body arranged in crucifixion pose, trying to imagine what it would be like to have been crucified. Rather than being horrifying, this practice was strangely comforting. Later, when trying to feel close enough to God to experience the kind of joy and happiness promised in the study trailer, I started a Christian puppet troupe to spread the message of Jesus as I understood it. Eventually, I found a measure of popularity by rising to the top of the Bible-reading kids in the Jesus Club, effectively learning how to lead at a time when I began to question the very things I had been taught.

Q: One of the primary themes of this piece is the character's evolving personal relationship to faith and religion. What values do these (faith and religion) hold for the boy and for society in general?

A: There's no doubt that faith, regardless of anything else it contributes to society, strengthens our connection to other people within our faith community. That's the "gateway" for the character David, the promise of a community, a family. As he grows in that community, he achieves a sense of confidence and begins to take seriously the example of Jesus, answering other kids questions the way he imagines Jesus would. Ironically, this makes him more and more controversial to the minister and members of his community church called Happy Chapel.

David has plans to take this solo performance piece to the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This, no doubt,will become another hero's journey.We wish him the best of luck!

To learn more the upcoming show, visit the Occidental Center for the Arts.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

JD Salinger

 The "Catcher Cult"

Acclaimed author JD Salinger generated a ticket to fame after writing his most popular work Catcher in the Rye. For those who haven’t gleamed over his works, Salinger’s main protagonist Holden Caulfield is arguably one of the most distinctive and intriguing characters in American literature.

According to the Associated Press, a biography of Salinger is being releasing this week. Following the biography, Salinger is releasing a post-humorous series in 2015 according to his publishers David Shields and Shane Salerno.

When Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 it didn’t have initial popularity; however, by the late 1950’s recognition had soared and almost every teenager wanted to get their hands on a copy of the scandalous novel. There was even a “Catcher Cult”. In the 1970’s the book hit a new level of exposure and controversy. Some school teachers were even fired or forced to resign if they assigned the book. In 1979 it was believed to be the most censored book, and was the second most taught book in public high schools (first was John Steinbeck’s  Of Mice and Men).

Known as somewhat of a recluse, his re-emergence into the spotlight is highly anticipated. Since his release of Catcher in the Rye almost half a century ago, there have been no new releases. There have been numerous open ended questions about the book’s main character Holden Caulfield. The series are rumored to revisit Holden Caulfield and reflect on Salinger’s World War II years, and even includes some flavors of eastern religion. His works will also feature new stories about the Glass family of Franny and Zooey and other Salinger works.

Whether you are on board with Salinger or still waiting by the dock, his enormous contributions to American literature have opened many doors to different perspectives and ideas.

Will the some of your questions be answered in his new series? The decision is yours.