New Mexican Architect Has Spent 55 Years Breaking the Rules

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For five decades, architect Bart Prince has been told time and again, “You can’t do that.” This has never given him a moment’s pause.

Prince is known internationally for designing large buildings with strange shapes, complex angles, and a disregard for the traditional Adobe style that has defined New Mexico architecture.

He intentionally avoids the brown stucco and Adobe look distinctive to the Southwest. His dislike of the style goes back to his childhood. Continue reading “New Mexican Architect Has Spent 55 Years Breaking the Rules”

“Pops” Williams, Who Lives On The Streets

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

LONGMONT, COLORADO – When Russ Williams’ family moved from Montana to Colorado in 1958, his first few days here were a shocking surprise. He woke up one morning, completely abandoned.

“My parents left me in a motel room when I was five years old. I’ve been here ever since.”

Learning that his parents had disappeared, he was forced to provide for himself, his two little sisters and younger brother. Continue reading ““Pops” Williams, Who Lives On The Streets”

Wagner’s Ring Cycle: Impact on Culture and Modern Music

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

Looney Toons. Star Wars. Jaws. Apocalypse Now. Here Comes the Bride. Ride of the Valkyries. The Lord of the Rings. Indiana Jones. “A little bird told me.”

What do these movies, TV shows, melodies and idioms all have in common? They were all heavily influenced by the German Romantic-era opera composer Richard Wagner.

Wagner, whose name might not be quite as universally-recognizable as Beethoven or Mozart, has still had a tremendous influence on music and art in the 21st century. Even those who might not think they are familiar with Wagner likely are. Continue reading “Wagner’s Ring Cycle: Impact on Culture and Modern Music”

Column: Names Changes and Stonewalling in Yosemite National Park

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

YOSEMITE, Calif. — In January 2016, Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher announced that a new organization had been hired to run the concessions inside the park. As part of the transition, a quirky change was also going to be made: five major landmarks in the park will have their names changed.

The Ahwahnee Hotel is now the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Camp Curry is now Half Dome Village, the Wawona Hotel is now Big Trees Lodge, Badger Pass Ski Area is now Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is now Yosemite Valley Lodge. Continue reading “Column: Names Changes and Stonewalling in Yosemite National Park”

Yosemite National Park Draws Professionals and Volunteers

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

YOSEMITE, Calif. — Judy Craig retired from teaching 18 years ago. But she’s spent a month each summer for the past eight years volunteering at Yosemite National Park.

Sporting khaki shorts, a dark blue shirt and name tag, she spends each day volunteering at one of the many information booths located throughout the park. Continue reading “Yosemite National Park Draws Professionals and Volunteers”

After Three Years and a $40 Million Renovation, Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove Reopens

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

YOSEMITE, Calif. — Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park has reopened to the public after a renovation project that lasted three years and cost $40 million.

Home to over 500 Giant Sequoias, Mariposa Grove is the biggest of Yosemite’s three groves where these trees, some of the largest in the world, grow. Foot traffic and wear and tear from vehicles over the years had contributed to the ecological damage of the grove which needed to be repaired. Continue reading “After Three Years and a $40 Million Renovation, Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove Reopens”

Concert Review: Wagner’s Ring Cycle at San Francisco Opera 2018

Estimated Reading Time: 16 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

SAN FRANCISCO — Like many opera fans, I have spent years trying to attend as many live operatic performances as I can. This often requires traveling to different cities or states, either by plane or by taking a long road trip.

So far, I’ve been able to see several operas by a few respectable companies, including the Houston Grand Opera in Texas, and the Los Angeles Opera in California (both of which are generally ranked in the top five opera companies in the nation).

Continue reading “Concert Review: Wagner’s Ring Cycle at San Francisco Opera 2018”

Wagner’s Ring Cycle: The Greatest Story Ever Told

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

SAN FRANCISCO — “The Ring [Cycle] is a gigantic work of art. It’s comparable to the complete works of Shakespeare, or the Sistine Chapel ceiling of Michelangelo, or any of the greatest monuments of art.” – Terence McEwen

Thus begins a narrated recording of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which was provided by the San Francisco Opera exclusively to ticket holders before the company’s June 2018 performance of the work. Continue reading “Wagner’s Ring Cycle: The Greatest Story Ever Told”

The Annual Bison Roundup at Tallgrass

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Ron Stauffer

TULSA, Okla. — It’s a cold and foggy morning at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, where cowboys work for the second day in a row in their week-long annual bison roundup.

For the past three weeks, they’ve used four-wheelers and pickup trucks to round up the nearly 1,500 bison that call the nature preserve in northern Osage County home. The animals will be counted, weighed, and inoculated for brucellosis (also called “Bang’s disease”). Some will be culled for sale, and this year, ranch hands are on the lookout for any exhibiting pink eye. Continue reading “The Annual Bison Roundup at Tallgrass”

The Humble Beginnings of Stockton’s Own Billionaire, Alex Spanos

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

STOCKTON, Calif. — Ask anybody who has lived in California’s Central Valley over the past few decades if they’re familiar with the name Alex Spanos, and you’re likely to get affirmations and enthusiastic nods. For many people who live in or around Stockton, it’s hard not to notice the effect that this man has had on the area. Continue reading “The Humble Beginnings of Stockton’s Own Billionaire, Alex Spanos”