Ric Mixter and Dan Hall’s website discussing all things shipwreck on the Great Lakes. I had the opportunity to hear Ric Mixter’s talk on the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald last week. Absolutely fascinating.
Ric Mixter’s free and premium podcasts covering shipwrecks all over the Great Lakes (and beyond), the infamous and the not-so-famous. You can also find a list of Ric Mixter’s upcoming appearances/topics.
One of my oldest pieces of writing that survives online is my take on the witchy wolves of the Omer plains. You can find it here over at Michigan’s Other Side. I wrote it specifically for the website back in 2006-2007.
My dilemma is now this. I have grown leaps and bounds as a writer since then. There are many things I would like to correct in the original. At the same time, people seem to find and enjoy the original – particularly locals. The witchy wolf legend is going nowhere. This is exactly why I wrote the piece in the first place. Currently. It seems to come up every six months or so. Why fix it?
Even though my every instinct as a writer is to polish the piece and have the website publish that instead, there really is no reason to do so. I need to learn…
The Marshall Fredericks Museum at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) is one of my favorite museums. Considering its size, it is jam packed. Over the years, I’ve visited the museum a handful of times, and I always leave inspired. There is so much to see, and frankly, it is impressive to see the results of such a long and varied career in sculpture. At one time, Grandma B. and I talked about the museum, and she said that she always wanted to visit. Unfortunately, she never took the opportunity. I can’t help but think of her every time I am there.
One of my favorite Marshall Fredericks sculptures is “The Man on the Cross,” which resides at the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Michigan. I’ve seen it in person (the full-size mold resides in the art gallery at SVSU, see below), and it is something that one needs to experience in person. I plan to go back at some point. It is gorgeous and moving.
As I left class today (I’m currently finishing my English endorsement at SVSU), I decided to head over the museum. It did not disappoint. Following is a quick overview of different sections of the museum.
The main gallery includes the original molds for many of Marshall Fredericks’ larger works, including “The Man on the Cross” (see photo below), interspersed with smaller models in various mediums. All are on permanent display and make up the core of the museum.
The museum has taken great care to replicate parts of Marshall Fredericks’ studio. It is impressive, and frankly, there is something about this part of the museum that fascinates me. You get to understand how he created such large sculptures and the work involved, including tools and studies. It actually inspired me to write a post on Scrivener and the idea of a writer’s studio, which can be found here.
The Sculpture Garden
It is just a beautiful outdoor space with all kinds of bronze sculptures inspired by Marshall Fredericks’ work. You can find other images of the sculpture garden here.
A visit to the museum is certainly worth it. In addition to the sections described above, there are also a couple of smaller galleries in the museum that hold rotating exhibitions. You can find more information on the museum’s website.
The idea of place keeps coming up. I never realized it before, but I have ordered my life around a certain geography, a certain space. In my case, that would be my hometown of Omer, Michigan – Michigan’s smallest city.* It expands to include my grandmother’s house (my current home), the canoe livery, my parents’ home (my home from ages 3-18), and the nearby city of Standish. If I expanded my personal concept of place further, I would include Bay City, the nearest city of any size – the city where I spent a good share of my 20s – and Saginaw, home to both Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College, where I was recently a student. There are several others not mentioned here, but currently, those I did name create much of my world.
Although I recognize the fact that the places mentioned above – and more…
Stoddard’s Landing July 2017 – Busy Saturdays! Photo Credit: Garrett Russell
I admit it, I take the river for granted. It is such an ingrained part of my life – and even who I am – it is easy to overlook its power, not to mention the role it continues to play in my life. My parents own Russell Canoe Livery and Campgrounds and have since June 1977, a few months prior to their wedding. They purchased the business from my paternal grandmother who continued the business after my grandfather passed away. The canoe livery is as much of my family history as it is my personal history. Without the river, it simply wouldn’t exist.
Some of my earliest and best childhood memories involve the canoe livery. I spent countless hours swimming in the river, running around the campground, and generally spending my summers with my family as they…
I’ve wanted to write about Across the Universe (2007) ever since I first watched it several months ago. It is one of those movies that grabs you, not letting you go. Just when you think you have it figured out, you start back at the beginning. I’m afraid I won’t do it justice.
Let’s start with the facts. First, it was a given that I would enjoy Across the Universe (2007) for the music and subject matter alone. A musical using new renditions of Beatles’ songs that encompasses many of the major themes of the 1960s? What isn’t there to like? Never mind the actual film. It was either going to be wonderful or something never to speak of again.
Next, the music itself is exceptional. When it comes to Beatles’ music, I am normally skeptical when it comes to covers (with the exception of Joe Cocker, of course). In this case, Evan Rachel Wood (Lucy), Jim Sturgess (Jude), and Dana Fuchs (Sadie) forced me to look at some of the Beatles catalog in a new way. Not an easy feat. There are several examples of this, but some of the ones that come to mind immediately are “It Won’t Be Long” (Evan Rachel Wood), “I’ve Just Seen A Face” (Jim Sturgess), and “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” (Dana Fuchs). That is just for starters. The use of “Let It Be” (Carol Woods & Timothy T. Mitchum) as a hymn fits the scene(s) perfectly.
My feelings on the song “Across the Universe” have evolved as result. While I’ve always liked “Across the Universe,” I would be hard pressed to even rank it among my top 25 or possibly 50 Beatles’ songs. No joke. The movie made me reevaluate. While I enjoy the movie version of “Across the Universe,” the cover by the band Evanescence is now one of favorite songs. It is haunting in the best possible way, not easily replicated.
Fortunately for us, the music is only the beginning. All the principals not only can act and sing, but dance as well. The choreography in Across the Universe (2007) is second to none and, along with superb costume and set design, make the movie. It enhances the music in a way that is unforgettable. The bowling scene that takes place during “I’ve Just Seen A Face” is so much fun and over the top. While the first part of the movie is just that – fun and over the top – the choreography and music work together to tell a much darker story as the movie progresses.
While I won’t give away the plot, it is the plot itself that keeps me guessing, keeps me coming back to the movie. When I finished watching Across the Universe (2007) for the first time, my first thought was:
What the heck just happened? What did I just watch?
Frankly, its plot, or lack thereof, is both its strength and weakness. While it isn’t as though it doesn’t have a plot at all, there are large swaths of the movie that leave you asking so many questions. Much can explained away by implied drug use. Now might be a good time to mention that Across the Universe (2007) earned every bit of its PG-13 rating. Personally, I believe it should be more in the R category considering the violence, implied drug use, and sexual references/implications.
Implied drug use can explain away much of the plot issues in the movie, but it doesn’t explain everything. For example, there are certain characters (namely Prudence, Sadie, and Jo-Jo) that I want to know more about. They are that interesting, considering what we know of them. However, I have yet to figure out the purpose of Prudence’s character. She seems to just show up.
While it is easy to see all of these things as “flaws” with the plot, I have to wonder if it wasn’t intentional. I’m not quite sure how the movie could have captured as much of the history of the ‘60s as it did without leaving so much to the viewer’s imagination. As a Beatles fan, that is what is so fun about this movie. There are so many references for fans. My personal favorite is the Brigitte Bardot poster. Supposedly all the Beatles had a huge crush on her. Then, there are the characters themselves. Jude, played by Jim Sturgess, looks an awful lot like a young Paul McCartney. His character is even from Liverpool. With some characters, it is obvious: Jo-Jo is somehow a stand-in for Jimi Hendrix. Others, it isn’t so clear. For example, I want to peg Sadie as Janis Joplin, and yet, it doesn’t feel quite right. In the end, the music, the choreography, the confusing plot, and the Easter eggs geared towards Beatles fans will keep me coming back. If you like the Beatles at all, it is a must-see. If I ever have the opportunity to see it on the big screen, I am there. I’m not sure how I missed Across the Universe (2007) when it was first released.
As my last semester as an undergrad comes to a close (student teaching not withstanding), I can’t help but wonder what my future will bring. I finally came to the conclusion that I will have to create my own path. There is no template in my family for what I am about to do. My mother, and my grandmothers and great-grandmothers before her, married by age 21 and became a mother by age 24. I do not know what single-parenthood looks like on a daily basis. Am I confident that I can handle being a single mother? Yes. Is that what I intended for my life? No.
Add in the process of becoming a foster parent and then adoption, and I am clearly in uncharted territory. Fortunately, I’ve been preparing for this most of my life, and I…
My grandparents are never far from my mind (or heart), but over the last several days, they’ve been on my mind even more. As my parents were preparing for a trip to Ireland, my dad asked me a little about the Irish ancestry on the Russell side of his family. It is fascinating! I didn’t realize that his grandfather (my great grandfather), Elijah (EC) Russell, was the son of Irish immigrants. As Grandpa Russell passed away long before I was born, I happen to know the history of the Suszko and Buttrick/Hoffman sides of my family better. Realizing that my ancestors on the Russell side made sacrifices for their descendants by leaving their homeland in search of a better life is humbling.
Today also happens to be Grandparents Day. My grandparents may no longer be with us, but I simply would not be the same person without their influence. As a child, I somehow won the grandparent lottery. Both my Buttrick and Reid grandparents lived close by and played a huge role in my life. I spent my summers spending time and working with Grandma and Grandpa Reid. They both taught me so much about life in general. I’ve written extensively about their influence.
Grandma and Grandpa Buttrick’s house was always open to us grand kids and our friends. They lived close to Standish Elementary, and we often visited after school. As an adult, trips to Standish were not complete if I didn’t visit Grandma and Grandpa. Even today, when I am running errands in Standish, I think of how nice it would be to be able to stop in for a quick visit. I still miss the book club for two that I had with Grandma B. I also think of all of those August trips to hunting camp in Kenton, piling in Grandpa’s station wagon or Suburban with our cousins.
There is so much more I could say. I didn’t even discuss our “adopted” grandparents, our neighbors Joyce and Carl. That is all together another subject for another day. By the way, I didn’t post a picture of Grandma Buttrick for a specific reason. She was a private person, and even though she is no longer here, she would hate having her picture here.
Even though I never knew him, Grandpa Russell’s legacy lives on in the canoe livery. Grandma and Dad may have kept the canoe livery running after he passed away, but it was Grandpa Russell who started it all over 60 years ago. In fact, all of my grandfathers were entrepreneurs in their own way – a fact I love.
So, to all of my grandparents, thank you! Thank you for your love, guidance, memories, and so much more.