Sometimes a creative writing exercise can really pay off.
The book grew out of a writing class taught at Saint Kate's by author Jonis Agee. She assigned students the task of writing about a relative about who they knew little.
DesJarlais immediately remembered the expression she saw in a vintage picture of her great-aunt Dorie.
She lived in rural Osseo, just north of Minneapolis in the 1920s. Dorie posed with her sisters. But while they were crowded together, Dorie stood off to one side, looking determined.
"This was a woman who got tired of being poor," DesJarlais said. "They were farmers, the land was not able to yield a good crop and she thought, 'What can I do to make some money?' Prohibition was raging. People wanted a drink. She decided to take that opportunity."
To find out more about Dorie LaValle's bootlegging adventures, you can click on the audio link below, or read the full story here.
For the first time in its history, the National Endowment for the Arts looked at future job prospects for a variety of artist occupations in Artist Employment Projections through 2018. The data are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)' Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2010-11.
Happily for artists, the news is good overall. Here's an excerpt from the report's summary:
This report examines the projected growth rate for artist occupations through 2018, over which time artist occupations will increase by 11 percent, compared with an overall increase in the labor force of 10 percent.
The artist occupations with the highest projected growth rates are museum technicians and conservators (26 percent), curators (23 percent), landscape architects (20 percent), interior designers (19 percent), architects (16 percent), writers and authors (15 percent), and multi-media artists and animators (14 percent).
Artist occupations likely to increase at a rate on par with the growth of the overall U.S. labor force are: graphic designers and actors (both 13 percent), art directors, photographers, and film and video editors (12 percent), and fine artists (9 percent), including painters, sculptors, and illustrators.
The artist occupations with the lowest projected growth rates are choreographers (5 percent), fashion designers (1 percent), floral designers (-3 percent), and media announcers (-4 percent).
The NEA note explores expected trends for more than a dozen artist and cultural occupations, including designers, writers, fine and multimedia artists, archivists, architects, camera operators, and musicians. In addition to occupation growth rate, the note also looks at the projected competition for jobs as well as the industry trends and macroeconomic factors that influence the demand for arts workers.
Today's nomination for our "Celebrating Minnesota Architecture" series comes from Pam Capin in Eveleth. Her choice? The Eveleth Manual Training School.
This building has always reminded me of the Larkin Administration Building that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built in 1914. I don't know the name of the architect. It is very different from the other Eveleth school buildings, except for the color, and the diamond pattern in the brick just below the cornice. The windows and doors were replaced years ago, which gave the building a more industrial look, and resulted in the differently colored brick around the openings. Notice the old fallout shelter sign above the left side door!
Photo courtesy of Pam Capin
Well, I did a little digging, and I have some information for Pam, thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society and the National Register of Historic Places. The Eveleth MTS was added to the registry in 1980, and according to the entry, was designed by architects William Bray and Carl Nystrom. Here are there bios, thanks to the University of Minnesota's Northwest Architectural Archives:
William Bray was born in New York State in 1868 and had an early apprenticeship there in architecture. He moved to Duluth in 1891 to work as a draftsman and was employed in the office of Traphagen & Fitzpatrick from 1892 to 1898. In 1902, he was a partner of Carl Wirth, and then joined I. Vernon Hill in partnership from 1902 to 1904. From 1904-1905 he practiced alone and in 1905 he partnered with Carl Nystrom; the partnership lasted until about 1915. He returned to private practice and subsequently entered into a partnership with Claude H. Smith in 1923 which lasted until 1925. When Bray retired he moved to California. He died in Beverly Hills in 1959.
Carl Nystrom was born in Sweden in 1867 or 1868 and immigrated to the United States in 1889. He worked in several architects' offices in Ironwood (Michigan), Ashland (Wisconsin), and Duluth, where he settled in 1892. He was a partner in the firm of Young & Nystrom from 1902 to 1905, and then joined William Bray in partnership until 1915. After the dissolution of the firm, Nystrom practiced alone until his death in 1944.
Wondering what a Manual Training School was, exactly? Here's the MNHS' description:
Built in 1914, the Eveleth Manual Training School was Minnesota's first vocational school, established to meet the needs of the iron mining industry as it shifted to extracting and processing lower-grade ores. The new technologies required new kinds of skilled workers - mechanics, vehicle operators, machinists. Vocational schools like this one were thought to be the best way to train industrial workers
Many thanks to Pam for her nomination. Do you have a building you'd like to call out for its particular beauty or charm? Send me a photo, along with a paragraph or two on why you like it, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author and stand-up comedienne Pat Dennis believes the ability to make someone laugh, whether on stage or in print, is not only a gift but quite possibly a genetic defect. She writes "It's as if we were shot into this world, straight from our mommas' wombs, wearing 3-D glasses perched atop rubber noses."
Dennis should know. She is the author of, among other things, Hotdish To Die For, a collection of six culinary mystery short stories in which hotdish is the weapon of choice.
But of course, there are some people out there who would LOVE to be funny, and so far haven't had much luck.
Not to worry: in a recent essay for The Loft, Dennis writes even the smallest sense of humor can be nourished over time.
I have read novice comedy scribblers who managed to write an entire 200-page manuscript without once bringing a smile to my face. Years later, I'd read their newly published and highly remunerated humor pieces and be green with envy, while doubling over in laughter. What happened?
Butt time, as in sitting on your butt, that's what happened.
In the stand-up world, we call it stage time. Give a struggling comic wannabe enough stage time, and she or he will eventually turn into a pro. The same thing is true with writing. If you want to be a writer, then you have to stay in that chair, putting words on the page, over and over again, until you get it right. Getting it right in humor writing, means tweaking and twisting your work until it makes you laugh, and then someone else.
If you're writing humor, you need an audience, the same as a stand-up comic. You can be the funniest comedian in the world, but if no one ever sees you, then you're just considered a crazy postmenopausal woman talking to herself in the Lane Bryant fitting-room mirror. For a writer, if no one reads your work, what's the point? That's why I strongly believe in both writing classes and writers' groups. Nothing will bring out your inner funny and motivate you more than making someone laugh.
There's something else about time you need to know. As in stand-up, timing is one of the most important elements in humor writing. You need to allow just enough words to get your funny across, but too many, and your punch line will be lost in the onslaught. As that laugh-a-day Polonius once quipped, "Brevity is the soul of wit." (Or am I the only one who finds Hamlet funny?)
What is the most important thing you need to know about writing humor? You need to write it well. Comedic writing needs the same editing, tightening, punctuation, and grammatical finesse as any piece of literature. Don't think you can get away with bad grammar because you're going for laughs. Trust me, there ain't no way that will work. See what I mean?
You can read Dennis' full essay here.(1 Comments)