Longmire’s Las Vegas

20140819_135659When the crew filming Netflix‘s drama Longmire goes to Las Vegas, they’re not there for the gambling and The Strip. They’re headed to Las Vegas, New Mexico, the town that portrays Durant, Wyoming, on the wildly popular show.

Yes, it’s a bit confusing, but let’s start with the books about Wyoming sheriff, Walt Longmire. They were written by Ucross, Wyoming (population 25), resident Craig Johnson, who set the Longmire mysteries in a fictional town called Durant, Wyoming. Durant doesn’t really exist, but it’s based on
Johnson’s neighboring town, Buffalo, Wyoming. (Read more about Longmire and Buffalo here.) Buffalo is full of Durant-esque charm, including the Busy Bee Restaurant and a whole host of real Old West history.

Longmire, the television show, debuted on cable’s A&E network in 2012. Wyoming’s unruly, unpredictable and downright cold weather prevented the show from being shot in Buffalo, and A&E chose Las Vegas, New Mexico, as a fill-in. The town was no stranger to film crews – the 1984 film Red Dawn starring Patrick Swayze, was filmed there, as well as parts of Easy Rider and No Country for Old Men. The Plaza Hotel stood in for the Virginian, and a 20140819_143046staircase on a historic downtown building stood in as the long stairway to Walt Longmire’s office in Durant.

After three very successful seasons with a large fan base, A&E surprised audiences by cancelling the show. Fans exploded and used the Longmire Posse, (Twitter: @LongmirePosse) a fan group, to overwhelm the TV industry with pleas to put the show back on the air. Long negotiations took place and the Posse was rewarded when Netflix picked up the show. It is set to debut September 10 with a full 10-episode season.

20140819_135737Longmire tourists are thrilled to find a lot of the show’s locations accessible, including the historic Plaza Hotel, the park across the street where Walt and his deputies picked up many victims and criminals, and the staircase and door reading “Absaroka County Sheriff’s Department.”

South Dakota Festival of Books

Photo courtesy: Deadwood .com

Photo courtesy: Deadwood .com

This fall, book lovers will head for the hills—the Black Hills, that is! The 2015 South Dakota Festival of Books, Sept. 24-27 in Rapid City and Deadwood, will feature events for readers and writers of all ages and interests.

Headlining the 13th annual Festival of Books will be William Kent Krueger, author of the 2015 One Book South Dakota, Ordinary Grace. Other confirmed participants include best-selling novelists Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain, A Sudden Light) and Pam Houston (Cowboys Are My Weakness, Contents May Have Shifted), Harper Lee biographer Charles Shields (Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee), Calamity Jane experts Richard Etulain and James McLaird, and poets Linda Hasselstrom and Twyla Hansen, who will give their first reading together from the book Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet. South Dakota’s new Poet Laureate will also be announced at a special event bringing together outgoing Laureate David Allan Evans and all four Laureate finalists.

Laura Ingalls Wilder fans will have the chance to hear directly from Pamela Smith
Hill about the phenomenal success of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. Festival favorite John Dufresne will be back to lead a workshop on flash fiction, and the Book Doctors, David Henry Sterry and Arielle Eckstut, will give an encore presentation of their popular Pitchapalooza event.

The young and young at heart will find both entertainment and education at the second annual Young Readers Festival of Books. Led by Megan McDonald, author of the 2015 Young Readers
One Book Stink: Twice as Incredible, more than a dozen children’s and young adult authors and illustrators will visit schools and discuss their work. Through the generosity of several area corporations, foundations, and educational organizations, SDHC distributed more than 3,000 books this spring to second-graders throughout the Black Hills area and on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations.

Ashley Wolff (Baby Bear, Miss Bindergarten) will present a “boot camp” for budding
illustrators, and science writer Rebecca L. Johnson will describe the fascinating and frightening creatures she’s observed in nature. Teenagers will enjoy learning how National Book Award winner Pete Hautman chooses his topics, from real-life adolescent issues to time-twisting science fiction scenarios.

Hagar the Horrible cartoonist Chris Browne, will talk to students from across the Black Hills at the Sanford Underground Lab about his book The Monster Who Ate the State. Soozy the dinosaur was born in the Sanford Lab!

For more information on the festival, click here.

Pageant Time: Laura Ingalls Wilder on the Prairie

034 (3)Every time you walked through tall grass as a child, did you think of the pioneers, and how they drove their wagons through grasses as high as their horses? So many kids do, thanks to author Laura Ingalls Wilder.

There are several “Laura” places to visit in the United States, but Walnut Grove is definitely one of the most popular, thanks in part to the television show Little House on the Prairie being set there, and also because of their spectacular pageant. “Walnut Grove covers a very specific period of the Ingalls Family life from when the Ingalls family first arrive in Walnut Grove until they leave for the final time,” Sarah Uthoff, Wilder expert and Iowa librarian, said.

“It is also the most Hollywood of the productions with incredible special effects. They have real animals like the horses that pull the Ingalls wagon as they arrive. For the prairie fire scene they have a buried and punctured gas line so real fire sweeps across the stage,” she said.

Two of the pageant’s sets are built on railroad cars that move and rotate on real railroad tracks. Each night the pageant staff constructs a church on stage. “It’s just a very impressive show. My mom who is all Laura-ed out and has seen a lot of theater says it’s the best outside show she’s ever seen,” Sarah said.

There are reserved seat chairs, but there’s also an area where visitors can sit on a blanket to watch the show. The pageant does go late into the evening, and some families leave at intermission, but Sarah said most children are “kept wide awake” by the show. “The 9 p.m. start is really used effectively by the production crew and makes the special effects work better.”

036The pageant is held in a natural amphitheater at the bottom of a tall hill. The hill, of course, is near the banks of Plum Creek. Like Laura, everyone wants to wade in the creek, but it should be done before the show takes place, because at 11:15 p.m. when the show is over, it’s too late to wade and people would have to walk through some dark woods, Sarah said.

But if you do wade there during the day, you’ll definitely be rewarded with a good experience. “Plum Creek is the best place to wade that I have ever found. Its bottom is almost all sand and mud and there are little nibbling fish just like Laura described. I’ve tried to wade in a lot of creeks around here and none of them is anywhere near as enjoyable as Plum Creek,” Sarah said.

Some people are surprised the real Walnut Grove doesn’t look like the set on TV, but Sarah said the show isn’t as fresh in people’s minds anymore since it’s only shown in syndication. Walnut Grove doesn’t have a lot of traditional Midwestern main street businesses, but those who do remember the TV show say they don’t mind because in their memory, the town blew up in the last episode.

“Actually, a turn of the century fire destroyed most of the buildings,” Sarah said.

Walnut Grove hosts performers from the show on a regular basis. “They have lots of artifacts from the show including the original fireplace mantle from the set and the doctor’s bag that Doc Baker used on the show – which was actually his grandfather’s who was a doctor,” she said.

Fashion: Always a Character

Andy Warhol influenced fashion. Exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Photo by Maddy Ryan

Andy Warhol influenced fashion. Exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Photo by Maddy Ryan

We don’t often think of us “bookish types,” as connoisseurs of fashion, yet how many of us, still in our pajamas, dream about wearing Scarlett O’Hara’s dresses or donning a bonnet like Laura Ingalls Wilder? Fashion is a character in any novel that allows us to feel the satin, touch the wool or hear the swish of a skirt.

Erin McKean’s book, The Hundred Dresses: The Most Iconic Styles of Our Time, had me reminiscing about all kinds of books. McKean lists The Austen as number six most iconic

The Jane Austen dress from The Hundred Dresses: The Most Iconic Styles of Our Time

The Jane Austen dress from The Hundred Dresses: The Most Iconic Styles of Our Time

dress, “The purpose of the Austen dress is to imagine oneself as a Jane Austen heroine,” she writes. “preferably Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice…” And who can’t picture themselves in the number 13 iconic dress, The Breakfast at Tiffany’s? McKean writes “When we first see Holly Golightly in Truman Capote‘s 1958 novella, ‘it was a warm evening, nearly summer, and she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, and a pearl choker.'”

Another fashion book that has us reminiscing about great characters is Ilene Beckerman’s fashion classic, Love, Loss, and What I Wore. It’s a personal journal of sorts, detailing the clothing and styles she wore at important times in her life. From Brownie uniforms to dresses she wore on dates, Beckerman looks back at her life.

Love, Loss and What I Wore

Love, Loss and What I Wore

One page mentions the prominence of rag curls in your hair, made by wrapping strips of torn fabric around damp hair and tying a knot at the bottom. After they would dry, they would be carefully unwound to reveal perfect curls – just like Laura Ingalls Wilder described her nemesis Nellie Oleson doing in her Little House on the Prairie series. Beckerman also writes about an ice-green flapper dress she borrowed from her aunt, who wore it when she was younger. She wore it as a costume, a definite shout out to The Great Gatsby era of glamour.

After reading any fashion book or magazine, arm chair fashion dreamers can get up and go to a few museums around the country that show off the importance of fashion in our history. The Phoenix Art Museum has an exhibition with a focus on clothing both as an art form and cultural phenomenon.  The Astaire Library of Costumes (included in the Phoenix Museum’s Art Research Library) houses many rare books and prints relating to costumes, too.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City doesn’t miss out on any chances to show off their collection of “more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories represents five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children, from the fifteenth century to the present,” according to their website.

Let the dream of those elaborate kimono and obis, party dresses, prom dresses, wedding dresses and other fashions spring to life from the pages of a book.


2014 Holidays Gifts for Book Lovers

Our annual list is so much fun to make – I hope you enjoy purchasing from it as much as we enjoy showing you all these great ideas and projects!

gatsby-tee-6_cd53e4a6-5971-48e7-aaf2-bb6a9b9a78c1_1024x1024The Great Gatsby T-Shirt

Everything at Litographs is spectacular for book lovers! We’ll feature another of their products in our list this year, too, but we had to start with this shirt – the entire text of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald covers this shirt, front and back. The art design is spectacular as well!



eau Falling Into the Sea Perfume

Yes, it’s very difficult to recommend perfume we’ve never sniffed, but the company, Imaginary Authors, has such a great idea, we have to believe in it! If you’re easily swayed by incredible typography and graphics, that might make you love this site, too. We’re going to say this is worth a gamble to try.


fullybooked0002_f_72dpi_3 Fully Booked Tent 

This is at the higher end of cost on our list, but boy, is it cool. Who doesn’t want to sleep in a tent shaped like a book? Field Candy has tons of great tent designs, including giant watermelons, parakeets, cows and even a wedge of cheese, but the book tent won us over.





Book Lover’s Pendant

This is beautiful, affordable and perfect for your favorite reader or librarian! The Plaid Pig is a super Etsy shop, filled with all kind of pendants – and many for bookies! Check them out!





Book Themed Clocks

Minglewood Studios makes a series of 8″ book themed clocks. They can add custom features as well.  We love the I Read Past My Bedtime clock! Contact them through Facebook for special orders.





Upcycled Book Cat

No room for a real cat in your life? Get one of these upcycled book cats! They’re made from old Reader’s Digest condensed books and cut into cats, letters and other shapes. Check out the Etsy shop, Quirks, for more upcycled book decor and gifts.







Zipper Bookmarks

Okay, I admit it… I ordered one in every color.Look them up on Amazon. They are maybe the coolest bookmarks ever.





The Time Traveler’s Wife Tote

Yep, it’s another product from Litographs. This time it’s a tote bag – we all need to carry our books! In addition to this spectacular bag, they also have Sherlock Holmes, Peter Pan and so many more!


EBOOK3,000 Classic Books on One Jump Drive

We thought this might be too good to be true. But, it is true! There are 30,000 classic books (public domain) on this one adorable little jump drive. It’s a fantastic stocking stuffer from Innovations.





Vans Comic Book Shoes

Sometimes you need to fly your book geek flag. These shoes from Vans are perfect for letting the world know you love to read. They’re available on at Journeys.com or at your local Journeys store.