Chittenango is a small village about 40 miles east of Syracuse, New York. We just got back from a trip to this little town because of Oz. Chittenango is where L. Frank Baum was born in 1856, and he is still its very favorite son. For the last 30 years, the town has held an OzFest, complete with Munchkins, musical entertainment, various guests associated with the MGM movie, an outdoor arts festival, and a great parade with floats, marching bands, and hand-waving-officials.
Thousands of people come to Chittenango every year for this celebration (last week there was an addition 20,000 souls lining the streets), and—this year— it's where the International Wizard of Oz Club decided to hold its annual meeting. Naturally, I dragged my husband across the United States to join hundreds of fellow travelers for not only a board meeting, a club convention, but also Chittenango's OzFest where, as Oz Club officials, we got to ride in the parade and were treated like royalty.
Seven miles to the west of Chittenango is another small burg: Fayetteville. It, too, is famous for its Oz connections. It is where L. Frank Baum's mother-in-law, Matilda Joslyn Gage, grew up. Like her son-in-law, Matilda would live to have a great impact on this country.
On this Father's Day, UPR special contributor and Deseret News columnist Steve Eaton reflects on life with his father, Ed.
I suppose some people would find my father’s behavior embarrassing.
I’m sure some frightened people were probably tempted, at first, to call the cops when they discovered him on their front lawn early in the morning playing happy birthday to them on his trombone. By his own admission, his old battered instrument from college never could deliver that pure sound he hoped it would. But if he was on your front lawn, it was played with such reckless abandon that it would be easy to imagine it represented 75 more trombones gathered together in a parade in your honor.
Despite his unorthodox approach to life, my father has four grown children who see such acts of off-tune love quite remarkable. To say we are proud of Dad, is an understatement. No one else had a dad who wore an umbrella hat in public.
UPR special contributor Steve Eaton reflects on life with his father, Ed.
He was a trend-setter for us. For example, my Dad taught us the sweetness of the “slow roll.” My Mom, who was always a grownup, was sharing with us something long and important at a family meeting when my Dad started to rock back and forth slowly on the floor on his back - as if he was in a giant infant rockaRoo.
I have heard people speaking of fear a lot lately. Recently I heard a couple of new graduates express their fear of life beyond high school. A business manager recently told me about an employee who was behaving unusually toward co-workers and management. Everything about the situation suggested that the employee was frightened, lashing out one moment, retreating and defensive the next. On a larger scale, I read about war in the middle East and conflict in Ukraine, and the world watches, fearful of the possible outcomes and consequences. Closer to home, our own Tea Party rebellion in recent years seems mostly based upon fear. Several commercial radio and television programs cater to the fearful- and the rantings would be comical if not so scary.
So what are we afraid of? And what does fear do to our relationships and our economy? Must we be so afraid?
I seldom take seriously what a 20-something-year old NFL draft rookie says, especially when he's got a beer in his hand and is splashing around poolside in Las Vegas over Memorial Day. But the Cleveland Browns's Johnnie Manziel's pitiful comments about his status relative to other folks, especially scientists, was something that caught my ears. And I didn't like what I heard.
You're probably not thinking about the Arctic now that spring is here, but March is the month when the sea ice is at its maximum. UPR's Jennifer Pemberton flew over the Arctic this month and has this reflection on the season's melt and the more serious melt.
We humans often do not understand each other very well. I heard a retired industrial worker recently lament, "My boss never understood me or any of his employees, and I never understood anything he did." I heard two radio news commentators recently discussing the tragedies of politics, diplomacy, and warfare continuing to unfold in the Middle East due to a lack of understanding.
It isn't surprising. People are complicated, fickle, and unpredictable. But because we live and work together, we must try to deal with it.
Individual people constitute great bundles of intellectual, emotional, behavioral, spiritual, and physical phenomena, internal contradictions, and anomalies. Social scientists tell us that societies exhibit similar complexities. It is all very complicated and difficult to understand.
How many laws would it take to keep people from doing anything wrong? Call it "morality by law." Almost everyone can understand the necessity of law for an orderly and safe society. But at the extreme, where law is viewed as the only effective remedy, there are two serious problems.
When is a mitten not just a mitten? When UPR commentator Jennifer Pemberton is knitting it in the wake of the changing definition of legal marriage in Utah.
"Latvian women knitted hundreds of pairs of mittens and her dowry included an entire chestful of mittens to be distributed to her husband’s family, given not just to her new in-laws, but also to her husband’s family’s cows and pigs, the fruit trees, and even to inanimate objects like doorknobs and stables. A bride and groom even ate their wedding meal with their mittens on. Many a folk song tells of the foolish man who chooses a pretty hand over a warm one."