Archives for March 2013

Plein Air-Easton Announces 2013 Artists

The competition artists for the 9th Annual Plein Air–Easton! Competition & Arts Festival have been announced. During this weeklong mega artfest, scores of painters descend on Easton and Talbot County, bringing with them an up­‑close‑and‑personal look at the excitement and spontaneity that surrounds art created en plein air (French for “in the open air”). The event has consistently boasted brisk art sales and Plein Air–Easton! continues to be the hottest art sale of the year in the Mid-Atlantic region and well beyond.

More than 240 artists applied from across the U.S. and around the world. The following 58 artists have been selected to compete in the 9th Annual Plein Air–Easton! competition to be held July 15-21, 2013.
Stephanie Amato, Basking Ridge NJ
Natalia Andreeva, Tallahassee FL
Paul Bachem, Locust Valley NY
Garin Baker, New Windsor NY
Robert J Barber, Bethlehem PA (2007 Winner)
Cindy Baron, AWS, East Greenwich RI
D. Eleinne Basa, Jackson NJ
Jill Basham, Trappe MD
Tim Bell, Odenton MD (2006 Winner)
Zufar Bikbov, Oakville CT
Carole Böggemann-Peirson, Townsend VA
Eric Bowman, Tigard OR
Brenda Boylan, Beaverton OR
Thomas Bradshaw, Smithville VA
John Michael Carter, Louisville KY
Hiu Lai Chong, Rockville MD (2012 Winner)
Sandra Corpora, Bethlehem PA
David R Csont, Pittsburgh PA
Katie Dobson Cundiff, Bradenton FL
Woody Cyrus, Culpeper VA
Ken DeWaard, Viroqua WI
Charles Dickinson, St Augustine FL
Ron Donoughe, Pittsburgh PA
Anastasia Dukhanina, St Petersburg, Russia
Peter J. Emerson, Lewisberry PA
Pam Folsom, Cincinatti OH
Stephen J. Griffin, Easton MD
Palden Hamilton, Baltimore MD
Neal Hughes, Moorestown NJ
Charlie Hunter, Bellows Falls VT
Tim Kelly, Baltimore MD
Thomas Jefferson Kitts, Portland OR
Michael Kotarba, Baltimore MD
Mike Kowalski, Nordland WA
Mark Lague, Point Claire, Quebec
Greg LaRock, Newport Beach CA (2008 Winner)
Kirk Larsen, Hicksville NY
Patrick J. Lee, Pittsburgh PA
Leonard Mizerek, Westport CT
Crystal Moll, Baltimore MD
Larry Moore, Winter Park FL
Ned Mueller, Renton WA (2010 Winner)
Elise N. Phillips, Elverson PA
Sara Linda Poly, Easton MD
    Camille Przewodek, Petaluma CA (2011 Winner)
    Thom C Robinson, OPA, Indianapolis IN
    John Brandon Sills, Phoenix MD
    Robert Simone, St. Petersburg FL
    Chad Smith, New Hartford NY
    Richard R Sneary, Kansas City MO
    Hodges Soileau, OPA, Venice FL
    Robert Gantt Steele, Larkspur CA
    Jason Tako, Dover PA
    Nancy Tankersley, Easton MD
    Timothy Tien, Alhambra CA
    Shannon Troxler, Wilson WY
    Bob Upton, St. Paul MN
    Kathie Wheeler, Viroqua WI
Plein Air–Easton! is judged by some of the most knowledgeable and informed experts in the world of representational art. This year’s entry jurist, who selected which artists will contend in the National Competition, was Peter Trippi. Mr. Trippi is editor of Fine Art Connoisseur, a bimonthly magazine that serves collectors of historical and contemporary representational painting, sculpture, drawings, and prints. He is also president of Projects in 19th-Century Art, Inc., the firm he established to pursue a range of research, writing, and curating opportunities.
Donald Demers from Eliot, Maine, returns in July 2013 as awards judge, after serving as the entry jurist in 2012. The awards judge selects the winning paintings in the Plein Air–Easton! National Competition (announced at the Preview Party on Friday, July 19, 2013) and in the Quick Draw Competition (held Saturday, July 20, 2013). Mr. Demers is one of the finest marine and landscape painters in America. The exemplary level of his paintings has placed them in some of the most prestigious public and private collections in the country. Demers is a highly sought‑after instructor; his teaching has taken him around the United States and Europe. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists, an elected member of the Guild of Boston Artists, a Signature Member of the Plein Air Painters of America, an elected member of the Salmagundi Club, and an elected member of the California Art Club.
Plein Air–Easton! is the work of the Avalon Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide diversified arts and educational programs that improve the quality of life in the Mid-Shore region. The Academy Art Museum is the accredited museum venue for the competition exhibit. The event is supported by the Talbot County Arts Council, along with corporate and individual donors. Donations from Friends of Plein Air–Easton! support the event while promoting conservation and tourism through the arts and a distinct sense of place. Strong community support and sponsorships have helped make Plein Air–Easton! one of Easton’s largest events and America’s premier plein air festival.
For more information, visit, email or call the Plein Air–Easton! hotline at 410.822.7297.
Hiu Lai Chong from Rockville MD is congratulated by Al Bond of the Avalon Foundation and Krystal Allen of PleinAir magazine. Chong’s “All Tucked In” was the winner of the 2012 Plein Air–Easton! Grand Prize Timothy E. Dills Memorial Award. The painting also received the Artists’ Choice Award. Chong returns to vie against 57 other artists for $20,000 in prizes during the 9th Annual Plein Air–Easton! Competition & Arts Festival, to be held July 15-21, 2013.   photo by Chris Polk, courtesy of the Star Democrat

Hiu Lai Chong from Rockville MD is congratulated by Al Bond of the Avalon Foundation and Krystal Allen of PleinAir magazine. Chong’s “All Tucked In” was the winner of the 2012 Plein Air–Easton! Grand Prize Timothy E. Dills Memorial Award. The painting also received the Artists’ Choice Award. Chong returns to vie against 57 other artists for $20,000 in prizes during the 9th Annual Plein Air–Easton! Competition & Arts Festival, to be held July 15-21, 2013. photo by Chris Polk, courtesy of the Star Democrat


Public Meetings Scheduled for Village Center Residents in Talbot County

The Talbot County Planning and Permits Department has scheduled a series of Saturday presentations by County staff, at meetings for residents of the County’s unincorporated villages. The purpose of the presentations and public meetings is to review and discuss proposed changes to County plans and regulations to help protect the character of village communities.

The Department asks for your participation. The public meetings are an opportunity for village residents to understand and provide input for draft proposals addressing several County and state policy initiatives affecting Village land uses. These include:

  • Address the provision of future village sewer services, and growth policies.
  •  Review new proposed Village Center zoning designations designed to better reflect individual village character.  Property owners will have the opportunity to express their preference for a zoning district designation. A draft map has been prepared and the Planning and Permits Department is seeking public input for possible refinements to the draft.  The zoning map amendments and district boundaries will be coordinated with changes to the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area maps.
  • Proposed updated village policies for the 2005 Talbot County Comprehensive Plan. These policies are designed to reflect the more refined future growth and public facility policies that have resulted from the Village Board planning process since 2005 and recent changes to state law.

The dates and locations for the presentations and meetings are below:

  • April 6 – Tilghman, Bar Neck, Fairbank, Sherwood and Wittman at Tilghman Volunteer Fire Department Hall;
  • April 13 – Cordova, Skipton, Wye Mills, Longwoods, Copperville, Tunis Mills, Unionville, Bruceville, Ivytown and Williamsburg at the Talbot County Free Library Easton Branch;
  • April 27 – Bozman, Neavitt, Claiborne, McDaniel, Bellevue, Newcomb and Royal Oak at the United Methodist Church in Bozman.

The Talbot County Village Center Board was established to better coordinate the planning process, and to enhance communication, information gathering and sharing, and coordination among and between the County and each Village Center.

For more information, contact Martin Sokolich, Talbot County Department of Planning and Permits at 410-770-8030.

Strategies Proposed to Restore Forests in Chesapeake Watershed

Every day, the Chesapeake Bay watershed loses a bit more forest and, just as predictably, the amount of runoff reaching local streams increases, bird and wildlife habitat decreases, and the potential to absorb atmospheric carbon is reduced.

Forests covered about 95 percent of the Bay watershed when English settlers arrived in the early 1600s, but just 55 percent is forested today and that percentage continues to decline. That has ramifications for the Bay’s health. Forests are highly effective at soaking up nutrients, so when they are lost to development or agriculture, more nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment will make its way to local streams and, ultimately, the Bay.

“Forests produce the cleanest water of any land use, so the effects of forest loss ripple downstream and into the Bay, where the greater nutrient loads and higher temperatures generate conditions that threaten the Bay’s abundant life,” states a new Chesapeake Forest Restoration Strategy developed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The strategy doesn’t set specific reforestation goals. Instead, it identifies activities with the greatest opportunity to incorporate tree planting and forest restoration to help achieve other Bay goals established by either the state-federal Bay Program partnership or the federal Chesapeake restoration strategy developed in response to President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Executive Order.

The activities, identified by a team of 60 representatives from agencies and nongovernmental organizations, were those most likely to have local support, the availability of existing programs to help promote them, and an ability to mesh with other restoration goals.

“With a lot of these priority areas, there is energy, there is opportunity, and that is why we picked them,” said Sally Claggett, the Chesapeake Bay coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service.

According to the report, the greatest restoration opportunities include:

  •     Fish & Wildlife Habitat: The strategy calls for protecting large tracts of intact, unfragmented forests and connecting them with forested corridors along rivers and ridge lines that provide habitat pathways for wildlife. It also calls for targeting the planting of streamside forest buffers, which can help absorb runoff before it reaches streams, in areas where they will also provide the greatest habitat benefits for brook trout and other species.
  •     Mine Lands: The Bay watershed has more than 25,000 acres of abandoned mine lands that have the potential to be rehabilitated and reforested. The report noted that initiatives in the Appalachians have had a successful track record in bringing together agencies and nongovernmental organizations to reforest large tracts of abandoned mine lands, actions that could be replicated in the Bay watershed.
  •     Agroforestry: The strategy also calls for promoting “agroforestry” initiatives. Agroforestry incorporates tree planting in agricultural settings. The idea is to strategically use trees in ways that benefit farmers and the environment. For instance, windbreaks can reduce the impact of wind and snow on fields; incorporating trees on marginal pasture land can provide shelter for livestock while increasing biodiversity and protecting water quality; other kinds of trees can boost income by producing fruits and nuts or providing pollinator habitat.
  •     Urban & Community Forests: The Bay Program committed to having at least 120 communities develop urban tree expansion goals by 2020, and the forest strategy said that goal was likely to be exceeded. Trees in urban areas provide multiple benefits, such as reducing stormwater runoff and pollution while providing wildlife habitat and energy savings. Besides planting new trees in cities, the report said there are opportunities in suburban areas to encourage landowners to replace lawns with trees.
  •     Contaminated Land: The report said the dozens of contaminated, or formerly contaminated, sites in the watershed could be targeted for tree planting. Such plantings could remediate contamination at the sites; reduce water pollution as many are near rivers and streams; and improve the environment for nearby neighborhoods. In places such as Baltimore, tree and marsh plantings have transformed once-contaminated sites to community amenities.
While those priority areas present opportunities, Claggett said the strategy was unlikely to fully offset forest loss in the watershed, which the report estimates at 100 acres a day, driven primarily by development and agriculture.

If all mine lands were reforested — and the report noted that some of those lands would not be suitable for forest — it would not fully offset the amount of forests lost in the watershed in a single year.

Claggett said she hopes that the strategy brings attention to the areas of opportunity it identified, as well as a renewed focus on actions such as planting forest stream buffers — a longstanding Bay Program priority that has lost momentum in recent years.

Although states in the watershed have planted 7,700 miles of forest stream buffers since 1996, the rate has fallen dramatically in recent years. Just 284 miles were planted in 2012 — far below the 900-mile-a-year goal adopted by the Bay Program in 2007.

“This was an important first step,” Claggett said of the strategy. “But we also want to expand upon it.”

To hold the line, and eventually reverse, the trend in forest loss, Claggett said the restoration strategy needed to go hand-in-hand with a strategy to conserve existing forests — which is under development.

The report cautioned that restoring forests is a long-term proposition “measured in decades not months” that would require support from grass roots organizations, individuals and government agencies.

“They say the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago,” Claggett said. “The second best time is now.”

The report is available on the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order website:

By Karl Blankenship
Bay Journal News Service

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal. Distributed by Bay Journal News Service.

Preparing for King Lear: The Actor, The Director, and the Scholar

Washington College’s spring semester ends with a Shakespearian bang next week, and an epic one at that. With retiring drama professor Tim Maloney (ending 47 years in the department) playing the lead and colleague Jason Rubin (with 20 years at WC) directing, the Decker Theatre will present what many consider to be the Mount Everest in the pantheon of English drama and literature, the legendary King Lear.

The two beloved WC veterans, joined by English Department chair and Shakespeare scholar Kathryn Moncrief, and a cast of twenty students from nine different majors, have not only selected one of the most complex and vexing plays in western canon, they have made an extraordinary effort to share this experience with the entire campus using a novel combination of team teaching and multidisciplinary collaboration.

In three separate interviews, “The King,” “The Director,” and “The Scholar,” the Spy talks to each principal about the importance of Lear as well as the monumental task of pulling together a production that has sent many a number of actors, directors and Shakespeare experts to the brink from the sheer weight of the playwright’s pinnacle work.

The Actor (Timothy Maloney)

The Director (Jason Rubin)

The Scholar (Kathryn Moncrief)


The Tragedy of King Lear will be staged Thursday April 
4, Friday April 5 and Saturday April 6 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, April 7, at 1:00 p.m. 
All performance will be in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.

For more information, please visit

“Fantastic” Oyster Season Ends Today

Today marks the last day of the commercial oyster season, and local watermen say that this was one of the best years in recent memory. Reports abound of watermen getting their limit in record time.

According to Joe Spurry of Bay Hundred Seafood, this year was the best oyster season in the past 25 or 30 years. “But you don’t read that in the newspapers. It’s not all doom and gloom, it’s been a great year. The numbers are up, their health has rebounded,” he said.

Waterman Jeff Harrison said that in 2003, Broad Creek oysters were wiped out due to disease, but this year, the harvest has been huge, and watermen are seeing more young oysters than ever before. “Mark my words”, he said, “as long as there’s no natural disaster this year, 2014 is going to be a record year for oysters in Broad Creek.”

Spurry and Harrison were just two of the local watermen that participated in State of the Oyster, the community conversation about the iconic Chesapeake Bay bivalve hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum over four recent Sunday afternoons. Spurry shared some of the local harvest with the crowd.

For those looking for just one more reason to pick up some fresh, local oysters for the holiday weekend –  the successful harvest is good local news to celebrate, indeed. And you might as well eat up, because even though crab season begins on April 1st, it usually takes a while for local crabs to come in.



Poetry Winners Announced for Regional Shore Award

The seventeenth Annual Regional Poetry Contest sponsored by the Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot County Arts Councils will present this year’s winners with cash awards at the Church Hill Theatre in Church Hill, Maryland on Thursday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m. There were more than 100 contest entries this year, including a wide representation of styles and topics and age groups

The contest was established in 1997 to recognize and encourage emerging and established writers. Since its inception, over 3,100 entries have been received. This year’s contest judge Meredith Davies Hadaway is the author of two poetry collections, The River is a Reason and Fishing Secrets of the Dead. She has received four Pushcart nominations and two fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts as well as a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. She has published in many literary journals and is a book reviewer for Poetry International and poetry editor for The Summerset Review. Hadaway holds an MFA in poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is vice president for college relations and marketing at Washington College in Chestertown.

2013 Poetry Contest Winners


1. “The Shape of My Heart,” Tatjana Knight of Talbot County, St. Michaels Middle/High School

2. “Wasted,” Tyler Bonner of Queen Anne’s County, Centreville Middle School

3. “I’m # 2,” Camden Harrison of Talbot County, Tilghman Elementary School

Honorable Mention. “Happiness,” Eve Yacopino of Talbot County, Tilghman Elementary School



1. “Where I’m From,” Alexis Welch of Queen Anne’s County, Gunston Day School

2. “Lights Off,” Andrew Short of Kent County, Gunston Day School

3. “Grey Coat,” Olivia Keene of Talbot County, Gunston Day School


ADULTS – AGES 18 – 59

1. “Recessional,” Samantha Pitts of Talbot County

2. “The Violinist,” Gina Ciardi of Talbot County

3. “Poor Girl Haiku,”Cynthia Thomas of Caroline County

Honorable Mention. “The Whole World Watches,” Samantha Pitts of Talbot County



1. “From Far Off,” Alex Johnson of Queen Anne’s County

2. “In Time,” Nick Andes of Talbot County

3. “Lacy Ties,” Michael Potts of Queen Anne’s County

Honorable Mention. “November 1963,” Suzanne Gregory of Caroline County



Op-Ed: Things Lost, Is America Rome?

The sequester battle now raging in Washington is both a political game and a negative stroke to an already anemic economy. Americans will be losing things.

The President has made this a political fight by supporting measures to inflict as much pain as possible to the people and economy, thus allowing him and his party to blame the minority party for cuts, not only to discretionary programs but to essential and valid federal programs which serve needs of the nation and its citizens.

As a result of legislative action, the U.S. has lost, or is losing, White House tours, the ability to visit historical president sites and libraries, such as the Truman Historical Site. The Blue Angels will cancel air shows, veterans funerals will be cut to 24 per day at Arlington National Cemetery. Coast Guard rescue aircraft will fly fewer hours, thousands of veterans would not receive job counseling, there could be 2100 fewer food safety inspections, and perhaps furloughs of meat and poultry inspectors. Automatic cuts, taking place last Friday, could reduce Medicare spending. There will be fewer air traffic controllers. This will affect airports in Easton and Salisbury. However, furloughs at the Internal Revenue Service will be postponed until summer. Wonder why? Could it be income tax season? And, there are many more things that will be lost, including cuts in the Defense Department budget at a time when there is unrest and turmoil in many parts of the globe.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sequester will take $600,000 out of government spending, including $85 billion this year. The 2 per cent increase in the payroll tax will drain approximately $110 billion from Americans disposable income and affect some 160 million workers. Gasoline prices continue to rise and in Maryland another gas tax increase appears most likely. These moves surely will not help the economy.

I can remember no time in our history when this situation has so affected the American people. And, for simply political gain and party supremacy. As historian Allen Brinkley, son of David Brinkley, has noted, the president is “only trying ultimately to protect the progressive/liberal legacy of the New Deal”. Time marches on, but this president tries to impose legislation and regulations which mimic the past and will not work in the 21st century and beyond. This position and obsession is wrongheaded and even cruel. Politics ahead of country.

Perhaps some points from the book “Are We Rome”, by Cullen Murphy may be of interest as the nation faces economic and military challenges. Murphy wrote that both the United States and Rome were “blessed and affected with a sense of exceptionalism” He further writes that “Rome eventually became dominated by fixers, flatters, and bureaucrats who clung to power”. Are these symptoms becoming rampant in America? Both America and Rome engaged in a ‘web of patronage among the connected elite”. And, Rome did not have political action committees and superPACS.

Now, I am not suggesting that the United States has reached the position in which Rome found itself during their decline, however the nation’s drift, economic stagnation and foreign entanglements may not bode well for the nation’s future.

Coupled with demographic changes, shifts in political power, controversial cultural issues and cracks appearing in our constitution should cause the nation’s leadership, and its citizens, to pause and seriously consider the future of the United States.

Not a sermon, just some observations.


Food Friday: A Visit from the March Hare

A glorious long Spring weekend is upon us! Go forth and scatter your daffodils and primroses. Decorate your bonnets. Hide your Easter eggs. Eat your jelly beans. Find a warm spot in the sun and have a memorable tea party. Make Alice proud.

When I was little our Easter baskets were pretty austere – we used the same willow baskets every year, and I am sure my mother was a champion at recycling Easter “grass”. It was always the same green, spun cellophane that seemed to get a little more tangled and meager each year… We had jelly beans, Peeps (of course), coconut cream eggs, sometimes a spun sugar egg with a cardboard view inside and invariably a tin of odd, foreign candies. I remember one year spending a good deal of time sucking on violet pastilles, which were about the size of Tic Tacs and smelled of violet perfume. If you were patient, eventually you wore the rock hard tooth-shattering white candy down to a nubbin, and inside was an anise seed! Patience was hardly a virtue there. Still, the tin was very attractive, and I bet if I went rummaging around in some boxes stacked here in the studio I might find it one of these days.

Like Santa, the Easter Bunny thought Easter was the perfect time for giving books. Perhaps this was so my parents could sleep a little longer? I remember best the years where Mr. Bunny left me new Nancy Drews, and once Ruth Sawyer’s Roller Skates which was a grand adventure. The best year was when I received a nice hard cover copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The illustrations had been hand tinted and were all so wonderful I fell deep down into Wonderland with our favorite wayward girl.

My own children will tell you about a few Easter egg hunts, fraught with competition and overly aggressive mommies. Honestly. It just wasn’t worth it. Our neighborhood has an annual hunt, and the mommies are always out in front, beating a path for their entitled wee ones. I was always hot gluing ribbons back on someone’s bonnet to be part of that pack, and as a result my kids never got any eggs. We preferred our own home-grown hunts after a couple of years of jelly bean smack downs in the town park.

One year we hosted our own Easter Egg Hunt, and thought it would be so much fun to entertain the multi-generational grown-ups, too. I joined the Book of the Month Club that year so I could get a free copy of Martha Stewart’s Appetizers recipe book. We made a few gallons of Bloody Marys, carefully sliced blanched asparagus, pared thin, elegant celery curls, deviled some innocent eggs, wrestled with puff pastry, and baked a few dozen ham biscuits, all according to Martha, so you know we woke up very early. And then we hid the eggs. It was about a million degrees. The chocolate eggs vaporized. The kids were whiny. The in-laws and other grandparents were worse. By 10:00 the bloodies were gone, and no one was inclined to go home! Yikes.

This year the children are in college, and have been very happy to discover videos from Amazon delivered to their own rabbit hutches; The Hobbit for one, The Life of Pi for the other. We chose these movies based on books we know they have read and loved. With finals coming up it is doubtful they have time to fall down any rabbit holes, but there is always time for a good movie. They can buy their own jelly beans and chocolate bunnies this year. At home we will be having ham biscuits and Prosecco, and then some leisure time reading the papers. And maybe an odd moment or two to reflect…

I promise you that I will not be doing any of the following! And I hope you will not either. Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs indeed! The store bought variety are quite excellent, thank you, very much. Plus, those are the best commercials on the planet.

Here is one of the first Cadbury Creme Egg commercials:

Although I have to say that the sliced lemon cookies look intriguing. But not for me. Not this year…

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
-Lewis Carroll

“The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo.”
-Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, 2013 Edition

Fire and Forget is an absolutely terrific collection of stories by fifteen exciting new writers, all products of the recent and current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fully a third of the writers have already published their own books. Siobhan Fallon’s book of connected stories, YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE, has already garnered much deserved critical acclaim. Her story, “Tips for a Smooth Transition” adds a valuable chapter to her earlier oeuvre of the unavoidable miscommunication, disconnect, and struggles with loneliness and infidelity that occur between absent or returning soldiers and their spouses, left behind either alone or with small children.

It’s hard to pick a favorite entry here, but I loved Phil Klay’s “Redeployment,” maybe because of its dialogue of authentic GI language filled with all its political incorrectness which nevertheless brought guilty guffaws from me as I read it. I’d offer an example, but it’s too filthy for most of my review venues. And yet the same story, with the narrator’s fear of public places and the dilemma of dealing with a dying and beloved dog made me wince in empathy. Jacob Siegel’s “Smile, There Are IEDs Everywhere” shows three veterans of widely divergent backgrounds reuniting in New York City for a drunken binge. The difficulties of that “smooth transition” are glaringly displayed in the course of that evening.

In “Play the Game” Colby Buzzell (author of the memoir, MY WAR: KILLING TIME IN IRAQ) offers a chilling portrait of a futureless veteran who is probably suffering from PTSD, living in a transient LA hotel, drifting aimlessly between dead end jobs. Roman Skaskiw’s “Television” presents a well-meaning but naive young lieutenant who has yet to learn that war is about more than just the killing portrayed in video games.

Gavin Ford Kovite’s story, “When Engaging Targets, Remember,” gives us a thinking, college-educated soldier who fears he may think too long about the Rules of Engagement he has been given, thus endangering his own life and those of his fellow combatants. Then there is “The Train,” Mariette Kalinowski’s story of a female vet who obsessively rides the subways after having watched her best friend killed in front of her by a suicide bomber. Who says there are no women in combat?

“New Me” by Andrew Slater, and Brian Van Reet’s “Big Two-Hearted Hunting Creek” both deal with veterans who have been mutilated, traumatized and damaged who are trying to find their places in an apathetic civilian society. “Roll Call,” by David Abrams (author of the novel, FOBBIT), is the shortest and yet perhaps one of the most affecting of all the stories in the collection because of its subject: a unit memorial service for a fallen comrade. Like Phil Klay, Abrams has mastered the obscene, often hilarious, jargon of the enlisted man. Perry O’Brien’s “Poughkeepsie” gives us the poignant plight of a lonely soldier who has gone AWOL to find a pen-pal who, he learns too late, wants nothing to do with him.

Ted Janis’s “Raid” shows most effectively how too many combat tours can burn a man out, while Brian Turner (author of the poetry collection, HERE, BULLET) offers a dream-like look at a patrol lost in seemingly endless desert dunes in “The Wave that Takes Them Under.”

The final two pieces in the book are by its two main editors. Matt Gallagher (author of the memoir, KABOOM), in “And Bugs Don’t Bleed” paints an effective mini-portrait of a burned-out, deeply damaged vet, faithless women and greedy, predatory civilians who claim to support the troops. But as one character says, those troops “have been completely abandoned by the rest of the country.” Roy Scranton’s “Red Steel India” (an excerpt from his as yet unpublished novel, WAR PORN) shows the boredom and monotony of perimeter guard duty and the distrust and petty cruelties the soldiers show toward their Iraqi counterparts. (The tone of Scranton’s story brought to mind Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s fine novel of the Afghanistan war, THE WATCH.)

I know I can’t even begin to do justice to the excellence and variety of the veterans’ experiences brought together between the covers of FIRE AND FORGET. So I’ll just say this. There is not a clinker in the bunch. Every story deserves its place in this landmark collection. I will remember these names and will be watching for them.

Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War(edition 2013), edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher


Tim Bazzett is retired from the federal government and now lives in Reed City, Michigan. A lifelong booklover, he has published four memoirs and a biography. His reviews and essays have appeared in several Michigan newspapers and he has been a guest on Michigan public radio and TV. For more information, visit  .


St. Michaels Art League presents Beginning Drawing Classes May 9

As part of its new partnership with the St. Michaels Community Center, the St. Michaels Art League will present Beginning Drawing, a series of classes designed to acquaint beginners with materials and techniques for drawing.  Class participants will be able to put their previously untrained skills to work while drawing from still life set-ups, flowers and views around the room and have the opportunity to produce art on their own through homework assignments.

Local artist Anne Allbeury-Hock will direct the class.  Anne has taught drawing and painting for the Academy of the Arts in Easton, the St. Michaels Art League and Dorchester Center for the Arts.  She is the founder of the Plein Air Painters of the Eastern Shore.

The classes are scheduled on four consecutive Thursdays, beginning May 9, 2013, from 9:30 a.m. until noon at the St. Michaels Community Center, 103 Railroad Avenue.

For more information including required materials, call Anne at 410-476-3393.  To register, visit