Monday, October 29, 2007

Visit to a Paleontologist Extraordinaire

This morning I visited Jack Horner at the office in the Museum of the Rockies to discuss his life as a Curator of Paleontology for the past twenty-five years. My exclusive interview will be published in DISTINCTLY MONTANA's spring issue.

(I have written six other pieces for the magazine; here is a link to the most recent profiles of writer Deirdre McNamer and actor Peter Fonda.)

Jack Horner has made the most astonishing discoveries in the field of paleontology during the past quarter of a century. All of his major work has taken place in Montana and concerns dinosaurs. His work is showcased at the Museum of the Rockies which has the world's most extensive dinosaur collection and research facilities.

Jack Horner was the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award in 1986.

Horner is a Montana native. He has had an amazing life. He was a technical advisor to Stephen Spielberg on his Jurassic Park movies. He even has a sizeable Wikipedia entry.

I cannot think of a better way to spend a Monday morning than listening to Jack Horner recounting his adventures in the field.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Up Above the World so High

A week ago I had a bird's eye view of Yellowstone Park and the Paradise Valley. I was aboard a four seater single engine plane that looked like a toy when it was on the ground. Our pilot and guide was a Livingston lawyer. My companions and hosts were a Bozeman couple who purchased the trip at a benefit auction for a local theatre.

We took off from Gallatin Airport on a two hour trip, looping over the mountains, through the park and up the valley. It was a beauiful calm clear day. I could see my house as we glided over Bozeman. What a great way to sightsee! We circled Old Faithful but the geyser was not gushing at that moment. Instead, we spotted a number of other geyers in action. We paused over the waterfall for a photo op, observed the Lamar Valley and Mammoth hot springs. Gardiner stood sentinel serenely outside the park with its great archway dating back to Teddy Roosevelt's time. What a spectacular trip!

One week before we were forced to postpone our trip because of a huge snowstorm. As they say around here: If you want to see a change in the weather, stick around for an hour or two.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Nobel Prize in literature to Doris Lessing

On Thursday morning Oct. 11th when I turned on the morning radio I heard a discussion of Doris Lessing's work and life. I thought, "Lessing is 87, she must be dead." I had to wait an hour to learn that Lessing had won the Nobel prize for literature.

It brought me back to London twelve years ago when I had the good luck to visit Doris Lessing at her home. It was for an interview. She had been difficult to reach because she avoids being interrupted by inconsequential events. As soon as she opened the door and invited me in, neither of us could help noticing that we were wearing exactly the same attire, navy skirts, shirts, tights and shoes. Only our scarves were different. The coincidence made us laugh. We got off to a good start which gathered momentum as the time passed. Before we left she asked the photographer with me to take a photograph of "the navy sisters." We found that we had many interests in common. It was a memorable morning for me.

Three years ago I saw Lessing again at Hay on Wye, one of the great English book festivals. She kept a standing room only audience enthralled as she recounted various tales from her very full life. Every now and then she would pause and say, "Now where was I? Oh yes, ..." and she was off again on another verbal adventure. I spoke to her briefly afterwards and presented her with a small cat I had bought for her at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. She was delighted, even though she was quite tired and the crowds were pushing forward with their books to be signed. What fortitude! What a great spirit! How lucky I was to be there!

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Last Rose of Summer

The leaves are changing color from summer green to glorious shades of yellows, orange and rust. Time to turn off the sprinkler and put the garden to bed for the winter.

The Hatch Film Festival is in full swing. The festival was founded half a dozen years ago by Montana resident, Peter Fonda. (See my interview with him in Distinctly Montana, Fall 2006). The Bozeman Symphony gave the first performance of their fortieth season with a rousing rendition of Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto (opus 30, D minor) with Jon Nakamatsu at the piano and Matthew Savery at the podium.

My next foray will be to speak at the Billings bookfest October 18 to 20. More about that later.