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July 31, 2015

Minnesota Fringe Festival—A Summer Treat!

Filed under: Arts — Alison Aten @ 1:08 pm

Offstage Voicesfringelogo_dark_on_whitePeg Guilfoyle, whose new book Offstage Voices: Life in Twin Cities Theater, comes out in September, is fond of the Fringe Festival.

“It’s such a scene!” she says. “Performing arts audiences love a kind of under-the-lit-marquee vibe, when people are crowding along a sidewalk toward the box office, standing on the street during intermission, clutching their programs and talking talking talking about the show. The Fringe is perfect for that.”

The Fringe audience, passionate and opinionated, makes for great eavesdropping, especially at Rarig Center on the West Bank of the University, the home of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Rarig contains four different theaters with a total of nearly a thousand seats; its vast and echoing atrium will be jammed with theater-goers, talking among themselves and to strangers about the shows they’ve seen and will see. The building will present forty-four different shows over the ten-day Fringe, none more than an hour. “It’s deafening, and exciting,” says Guilfoyle, “to stand in that space and watch these big audiences surge in and out.” The Fringe also presents shows in twenty other locations in Minneapolis during the festival. Rarig is within easy walking distance of Mixed Blood and Theatre in the Round.

For her new book, Guilfoyle sat down with Fringe executive director Jeff Larson, who was clear about the unique nature of the Fringe experience.

“We have a lot of people who take off work and see fifty-five shows—that’s the maximum you can see on our schedule. These people get more and more excited every year and they talk about it year round.

“We’re growing the audience,” Larson goes on. “We’re a gateway drug. The tickets are inexpensive, it’s easy, you can dress however you want. Theater is not intimidating; it’s not something you should do to better yourself. It’s just another form of entertainment. We’re getting that idea into people’s heads.”

Larson adds that post-show conversation is built into the Fringe Festival experience: “What you want is the kind of work that you’ll talk about at the bar afterward. The fantastic and the terrible really stick with you, and you cannot wait to get to the bar and say, ‘Did you see that?!’ We tell the artists to invite your audience to meet you at the bar; the bar is just as important to the festival as any of the art is.”

“The Fringe is a great way to experience our wide and wonderful Twin Cities theater community,” says Guilfoyle, whose new book includes interviews with forty leading artists from directors to actors to designers. “An incredible variety of work, presented at an incredible speed. What a summer treat!”

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July 14, 2015

Summer Weather Jargon, Explained!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison Aten @ 11:22 am

Minnesota Weather AlmanacMark Seeley’s Minnesota Weather Almanac, Second Edition, takes into account the state’s new thirty-year normals (1981-2010), presenting a breadth of scientific facts and fascinating stories.

In recognition of summer storm season, here are a few excerpts from the book explaining weather jargon that will have you talking like a weather expert.

Heat Index

The Heat Index, also known as the Comfort or Temperature-Humidity Index, evaluates the combined effects of temperature and humidity on the body’s ability to cool itself. According to the Heat Index, an air temperature of 85°F with a relative humidity of 60 percent feels the same as a temperature of 90°F with a humidity of 30 percent. For nighttime combined values of 75°F or above and daytime values of 105°F or more expected for 48 hours or longer, the National Weather Service usually issues an excessive heat advisory to warn about health risks, including fatigue, heat cramps, sunstroke, or heat exhaustion.

Dog days

The dog days of summer are usually associated with the greatest heat of the year, characterized by thunderstorms and high dew points. The phrase’s origin is both ancient and astrological: the Greeks and Romans observed that one of the brightest stars, Sirius the Dog Star—located in the constellation Canis Major, Latin for “greater dog”—rose in conjunction with the sun during the six weeks of midsummer. The usual hot and sultry weather, which depleted people’s energy and wilted vegetation, was attributed to the evil effects of Sirius. In the United States, the dog days occur between mid-July and early September; in western Europe they run from July 3 to August 11.

Doppler radar

Doppler radar is a type of weather surveillance that takes advantage of the Doppler effect. Based on the frequency change between outgoing and reflected radar signals, it determines the velocity of atmospheric targets moving directly toward or away from the unit. Doppler radar allows meteorologists to interpret wind speeds accompanying thunderstorms and to view rotating winds associated with funnel clouds.

Heat lightning

The term heat lightning is derived from a mistaken belief that lightning is produced by an excessively heated atmosphere, based on observations of lightning under otherwise clear summer skies. What is viewed as heat lightning is actually a reflection of distant lightning flashes off the horizon. All lightning technically produces heat: a single stroke can warm the surrounding air to more than 50,000°F. The air’s rapid expansion causes sound waves, which are later heard as thunder. Sound travels approximately a mile every five seconds: to gauge the distance of the lightning flashes, count the number of seconds that pass between the flash and the resulting thunder, assuming about one-fifth mile for every second. Thus a 15-second interval between observed lightning and the sound of thunder indicates that the flash occurred about three miles away. Lightning strokes from more than ten miles away are rarely heard as thunder.

Four basic thunderstorm types

Thunderstorms occur in a variety of forms.

An isolated cumulonimbus or anvil-shaped cloud, known as a single-cell storm, is usually a convective cloud containing one updraft and one downdraft segment. Single-cell storms may produce some heavy rain, hail, or even a weak tornado, but they are usually short lived, lasting 30 or fewer minutes.

In a multicell cluster, a group of convective clouds moves together as a single unit, bringing multiple updraft and downdraft segments, highly variable rates of rainfall, and moderate hail. These systems may last for hours and can produce flash flooding or weak tornadoes.

A squall line is a row of convective clouds that share a common gust front along the leading edge, sometimes visible as a wall cloud. They can move at rapid speeds and produce heavy rainfall, moderate hail, and even tornadoes, occasionally leading to flash flooding.

A supercell, the most damaging type of thunderstorm, is a massive convective system of clouds that rotate as one unit, contain embedded strong updrafts and downdrafts, and produce large hail, frequent lightning, flooding, and moderate to severe tornadoes. Such storms may last for hours and travel across multiple states.

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June 29, 2015

Only One More Day for the True Crime E-book Sale!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Poggione @ 2:13 pm

Explore the seamy side of Minnesota with these popular true crime titles from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, on sale for $3.99 through the month of June from your favorite e-book vendor.

9780873519939f

Stolen from the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper

by William Swanson

On a July afternoon in 1972, two masked men waving guns abducted forty-nine-year-old Virginia Piper from the garden of her lakeside home in Orono, Minnesota.

Drawing on closely held government documents and exclusive interviews with family members, investigators, suspects, lawyers, and others intimately connected to the case, William Swanson provides the first comprehensive account of the sensational Piper kidnapping.

Sale price $3.99

Amazonbn.comGoogle, iTunesKobo




Secret Partners

Secret Partners: Big Tom Brown and the Barker Gang

by Tim Mahoney

Among the most dangerous criminals of the public enemies era was a man who has long hidden in history’s shadows: Tom Brown. In the early 1930s, while he was police chief of St. Paul, Minnesota, Brown became a secret partner of the infamous Barker gang. He profited from their violent crimes, he protected the gang from raids by the nascent FBI—and while he did all this, the gangsters gunned down cops and citizens in his hometown.

Sale price: $3.99

Amazonbn.com, Google iTunesKobo,


Augie\'s Secrets by Neal KarlenAugie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip

by Neal Karlen

A treasury of family secrets exposes the seamy underbelly of Minneapolis—gangsters, gambling, brothels, and the social life of organized crime.

Sale price $3.99

Amazon,    bn.com,    Google,    iTunes,    Kobo,




The Rockwell Heist by Bruce RubensteinThe Rockwell Heist: The Extraordinary Theft of Seven Norman Rockwell Paintings and a Phony Renoir—and the 20-Year Chase for Their Recovery from the Midwest through Europe and South America

by Bruce Rubenstein

When a small midwestern gallery is burgled, artworks by an American icon disappear into the international market for stolen art, but the gallery’s owners refuse to give up the search.

Sale price: $3.99

Amazon,    bn.com,    Google,    iTunes,    Kobo,



Black White BlueBlack White Blue: The Assassination of Patrolman Sackett

by William Swanson

A white police officer is assassinated in a troubled St. Paul neighborhood. Thirty-six year later, two African American grandfathers are convicted in controversial trials that force a city to relive a contentious past.

Sale price: $3.99

Amazon,   bn.com,    Google,    iTunes,    Kobo



Dial MDial M: The Murder of Carol Thompson

by William Swanson

A haunting re-creation of the brutal death of an American housewife, the conviction of her husband, and the family trial at which their children determined for themselves how their father should be charged.

Sale price: $3.99

Amazon,    bn.com,    Google,    iTunes,    Kobo




Crossing HoffaCrossing Hoffa: A Teamster’s Story

by Steven J. Harper

A forthright teamster faces off with Jimmy Hoffa in this true saga of corruption, betrayal, intrigue, and courage.

Sale price: $3.99

Amazon,    bn.com,    Google,    iTunes,    Kobo










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June 16, 2015

Sharing Family History

Filed under: Authors, Event, History, Interview — Alison Aten @ 10:31 am

Sara DeLuca and her granddaughter Emma

Sara DeLuca and her granddaughter Emma

Today’s post is by Sara DeLuca, author of The Crops Look Good: News from a Midwestern Family Farm. Sara will be touring Wisconsin later this month. (Click on the title link for her event schedule, media interviews, and book club guide.)

From Sara:

This photo of me with my granddaughter, Emma Drury, was taken at Folsom House in Taylors Falls, Minnesota, on April 25, 2015.  We were celebrating the recent publication of my book,  The Crops Look Good: News from a Midwestern Family Farm. Based on a collection of family letters, the book is an intimate portrayal of family farm life in the region – first-person history, written as it was being lived. My mother’s letters to her eldest sister, beginning when she was seven and continuing throughout middle age, make a significant contribution to the story.

The Folsom House event on April 25 was very special to me, for several reasons.

Fifteen-year-old Emma planned and hosted my reading in this gracious home, built in 1855 by lumberman, historian, and Minnesota state senator W. H. C. Folsom. Five generations of the Folsom family occupied the house, which still contains their original furnishings, library, and personal effects. It is now operated by the Taylors Falls Historical Society, in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society.

My parents, Harvey and Helen Hellerud, who farmed for decades in Polk County, Wisconsin, retired in 1976 and moved across the St. Croix River to Taylors Falls. As an accomplished pianist, my mother entertained Folsom House visitors on the Hews rectangular grand piano (shown in the background of this photo) on many occasions. She also served as a volunteer guide during the 1980s and 1990s. Her affiliation with the Taylors Falls Historical Society was a great joy to her during many productive years of retirement.

Now Helen Hellerud’s great-granddaughter Emma is volunteering at this beautifully preserved historic site. And I have enjoyed the privilege of sharing my book about a place that has been important to my family and history lovers throughout the Upper Midwest.

Here is a poem I wrote ten years ago, in recognition of a rich heritage, a craving for deep identity, and our interwoven lives.

Braiding Dandelions

We find a bright, prolific crops of dandelions

splashing the vacant lot behind my mother’s house.

She’s eighty-nine this spring, but she remembers being nine,

braiding yellow heads and milky stems, crowning

and necklacing herself with blooms.

Now she demonstrates for me

and for my grandchild Emma – six years old –

how you can braid an ornamental rope from flowers.

The trick, my mother says,

is working three stems at a time, all different lengths.

When one runs out you splice a new one in its place –

that way you never break the chain.

Emma plops down in the deep wet grass.

Mom squats.  I kneel

between the generations.

We laugh at rough beginnings, ragged endings,

but we persevere.  We practice,

practice till we get it right, Emma, Mom and me,

our heads bent low, lost

in a field of yellow tassels.


When our circles hold

we rise

and crown each other with our handiwork.


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June 5, 2015

True Crime E-book Sale through June!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary Poggione @ 2:34 pm

9780873519472fStock up on summer reading with our true crime e-book sale during the month of June. Titles are available from your favorite e-book sellers!

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April 28, 2015

Sue Doeden’s Honey Balsamic Black Bean and Mango Salsa

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison Aten @ 8:13 am

9780873519571Sue DoedenSue Doeden is as busy as a bee with a wide variety of culinary-related endeavors. She teaches cooking classes, writes food stories, develops recipes for food companies, conducts workplace wellness education, appears on a weekly television news segment called Good Food, Good Life, 365, and is a hobbyist beekeeper. Her new book, Homemade with Honey—the sixth book in the Northern Plate series, celebrating the bounty of the Upper Midwest—brings together all these activities.

In today’s post, Sue describes how she got her start in beekeeping.

“A beekeeper friend of mine invited me to watch as he introduced a wooden box of at least 30,000 bees and one queen to their new home–a hive positioned on a grassy space near basswood trees across the road from his house. Wearing a baggy white jumpsuit and a headpiece with a screen covering my face for protection, I cautiously looked on as the beekeeper expertly went through the annual spring process of getting a buzzing batch of bees into the hive.

“Before I headed home that evening, I dipped my finger into a frame of thick, sticky golden honey. Sweet and delicate, the natural substance produced by honey bees melted on my tongue. It was that one ambrosial taste of local honey that began my obsession with what honey lovers refer to as ‘liquid gold.’

“A couple of years after that first introduction to beekeeping, I had my own hives–and my own honey.”

Sue shares her tips on keeping bees happy and healthy as well as 75 recipes to entice all cooks, from beginners through the well seasoned, to spend time in their kitchen with honey. Recipes in the book range from savory starters to dreamy desserts and from quick and easy ways to enjoy honey to impressive gourmet delights. Check out her recipe for a salsa that’s excellent with grilled chicken or beef.

Honey Balsamic Black Bean and Mango Salsa

My younger son brought this salsa recipe home from college. Over the years, I’ve added some ingredients and taken away others to create a salsa that has just the right amount of heat, fresh crunch, color, and balance of sweet and tart. And you can do the same. Feel free to customize the salsa to suit your own taste buds. Just don’t leave out the honey.

Makes 3 1/2–4 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons honey

1 chubby clove garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 jalapeño, minced (you decide whether or not to remove the seeds)

1 firm, ripe mango, peeled and diced

1/2 cup finely chopped orange bell pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1–2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, diced

1 avocado, diced

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

tortilla chips

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, honey, and garlic. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine black beans, jalapeño, mango, orange and yellow peppers, red onion, and tomatoes. Stir in oil and vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. At serving time, add avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro or offer cilantro on the side. Serve with tortilla chips.

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April 22, 2015

Urban Coyotes

Filed under: Authors, Children, Nature/Enviroment — Alison Aten @ 5:29 pm

http://discussions.mnhs.org/10000books/hungry-coyote/

Coyotes are smart, curious, and adaptable. They live on prairies, in forests, and on farmland. They even live in cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York. City coyotes might make their homes in parks or in nature preserves or on golf courses—all places where they can find plenty of food and shelter. Sometimes they live in small family groups, and sometimes they live alone.

Hungry Coyote by Cheryl Blackford with illustrations by Laurie Caple offers kids a glimpse into the life of an urban coyote as he struggles to feed himself and his famished family.

We asked Cheryl and Laurie to share some of their inspiration for the book.

From Cheryl: cherylblackford

“The idea for this picture book came to me as I watched a lone coyote trot across a frozen lake one January morning. He turned his head to look at me, decided I was no threat, and continued on his way. Although we don’t often see the coyotes themselves, just signs of their presence such as scat on the trails, I saw him twice more. I wondered what he ate and how he lived. I did some research and became interested in urban coyotes and their success at living beside humans in many American cities. While many people are suspicious of coyotes (probably based upon their reputation as ‘tricksters’), or think of them as vermin, I admire the intelligence and adaptability of these animals. They thrive in many different natural habitats ranging from desert to lush grasslands, and now they’re also thriving in our cities. How could you not admire such a smart, successful creature?”

caple-with-coyote-pup_smallFrom Laurie:

“A fondness for nature provides the inspiration behind my artwork. I had the fascinating opportunity to spend time with one of only two known domesticated coyotes in the United States.  ’Wiley’ lives with Rick Hanestad and his family in western Wisconsin, about an hour’s drive from St. Paul. A National Geographic film crew recently spent a number of hours documenting his behavior.

“Wiley is very tame and handles well on a leash, just like a friendly pup.  He has never shown any type of aggressive behavior to humans and sleeps on a favorite recliner in the Hanestads’ living room!”

Cheryl and Laurie hope Hungry Coyote encourages readers to look at our own surroundings with fresh eyes and develop curiosity and respect for wildlife in our cities. They recommend the following links about urban coyotes:

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Urban Coyotes

Project Coyote

Urban Coyote Research

The Humane Society

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April 3, 2015

Readers and writers, take note!

Filed under: Event, Fiction, MHS press — regana @ 11:31 am

AWP-photo-by-Robb-CohenBook-loving Minnesotans, here’s a word to the wise and a great opportunity: AWP—the Association of Writers and Writing Programs—is holding its annual meeting at the Convention Center in Minneapolis next week, April 9-11. This is a Very Big Deal: more than 12,000 attendees, 1,900 presenters, 550 sessions, scores of free offsite events, and—best of all—a book fair with 700 publishers and literary organizations strutting their stuff. You can register for a day pass here.

AWP is an overwhelming experience, with so many delicious options. Thousands of energetic teachers and writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are gathered to talk about what we’re doing, where we’ve been, where we’re going with books and literature. The program is tantalizing, and you can’t be everywhere at once. Laura I. Miller, a seasoned attendee, has compiled a helpful list of tips for doing AWP.  Me? I often retreat to our book table, where every person stopping by has a good story.

At the MNHS Press exhibit, we’re proudly showing off books by our fine authors. But my colleagues and I are also on a mission—a treasure hunt for books-to-be on the history and culture of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. We’re searching for manuscripts with strong Midwestern themes and a strong sense of place: Well-researched and well-written stories that use the best tools of narrative journalism to tell history for general audiences. Narrative nonfiction on food, adventure and travel, true crime, war and conflict, Native American studies, environment and the land, popular culture, and women’s and ethnic histories.  Good books to help people live richer lives in Minnesota and beyond.

Thursday, April 9 from 10:00-11:30 we’re hosting a signing with Bruce Joshua Miller and Ned Stuckey-French, editor and contributor to Curiosity’s Cats: Writers on Research. Contributors to Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota will be dropping by to sign on Saturday morning. Stop by to say hello and get a copy!

MNHS press director, Pam McClanahan, editors Shannon Pennefeather and Josh Leventhal, and sales manager Jerry Bilek and I look forward to seeing you at Booth 412—and hearing what you’re writing about.

Ann Regan, MNHS Editor-in-Chief

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March 31, 2015

Brenda J. Child wins Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award

Filed under: Authors, Awards, Native American — Alison Aten @ 10:41 am

My Grandfather's Knocking Sticks Brenda ChildWe’re delighted to note that My Grandfather’s Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation by Brenda J. Child has won the the seventh annual Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award.

Child uses her family’s own powerful stories to tell a different kind of history–one that puts her reader’s feet on the reservation. She shows how Ojibwe men and women on reservations around the Great Lakes sustained both their families and their cultural identity in the face of extreme prejudice and hardship.

Winners of  the Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award cross multiple disciplines or fields of study, are relevant to contemporary North American Indian communities, and focus on American Indian Studies, modern tribal studies, modern biographies, tribal governments or federal Indian policy.

Dedicated in 1993, the Labriola National American Indian Data Center in the Arizona State University (ASU) Libraries is one of the only repositories within a public university library devoted to American Indian collections. The Labriola Center holds both primary and secondary sources on American Indians across North America. The Center’s primary purpose is to promote a better understanding of American Indian language, culture, social, political and economic issues. The Labriola National American Indian Data Center has been endowed by Frank and Mary Labriola whose wish has been that “the Labriola Center be a source of education and pride for all Native Americans.”

My Grandfather’s Knocking Sticks is also a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award.

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March 23, 2015

“Civil War Homecoming”, March 28 at the Fitzgerald Theater

Filed under: Arts, Authors, History — Alison Aten @ 10:42 am

civil_war

CIVIL WAR HOMECOMING
Saturday, March 28 at 7:00 P.M.
Fitzgerald Theater

The year 1865 saw inauguration, abolition, armistice, assassination, grief, celebration and reunion. The brand-new frontier state of Minnesota mourned and commemorated along with the rest of the nation. Minnesotans celebrated the return of the troops and got down to the business of building railroads and cities, sprinkling the countryside with farms and lumber camps and welcoming immigrants by the tens of thousands.

Dan Chouinard and an all-star group of friends gather to paint a Minnesota portrait of the times through songs, letters and newspaper accounts, in Civil War Homecoming. This live show at the Fitzgerald Theater on Saturday, March 28 is a co-production of the Minnesota Historical Society, MPR and the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force.

Featuring Kevin Kling, Maria Jette, T Mychael Rambo, Prudence Johnson, members of the Roe Family Singers, and the Brass Messengers as well as Eric Jacobson, Annette Atkins, Gwen Westerman, Mark Ritchie, Dean Urdahl, Pat Bauer and David Geister.

Additional information available here.

Interested in learning more about Minnesota and the Civil War? Visit www.mnhs.org/civilwar

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