Monday, July 26, 2021

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The Culture Buzz

Greetings, Cultural Catalysts:


The Covid-19 pandemic persists. Be safe. Be considerate. Be compassionate. But, continue to be creative.
– John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
Quote of the Week
“They who set an example make a highway. Others follow the example, because it is easier to travel on a highway than over untrodden grounds.” – Horace Mann (1796-1859) an American educational reformer and Whig politician known for his commitment to promoting public education. In 1848, after public service as Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, Mann was elected to the United States House of Representatives.
“Support a Local Business” tip of the week:
At the top of each hour we say: “KFMG is a ‘listener-supported’ service of The Des Moines Community Radio Foundation.” That means that a significant portion of the support needed to keep us on the air comes from people just like you. People who listen to KFMG and love what we do. People who don’t want us to go away again.
Please consider helping KFMG to continue as “Your Community Voice” by providing financial assistance. KFMG now has a GoFundMe page:
You can also easily donate by making a contribution with a credit card through our supporters at Tikly at this direct link:, or by calling KFMG at 515-244-4145 or 244-4146 (if you call to donate, please leave a message if the phone is not answered). If you wish to donate we WILL call you back. You can always donate by mailing a check or money order directly to KFMG at:
KFMGPO Box 41143Des Moines, IA 50311
Thank you for your kind consideration. Any and all support is very beneficial.
This week’s guests on The Culture Buzz – 
11:00 AM – The new issue of Iowa History Journal has just hit mailboxes, as well as newsstands in HyVee, Fareway, and Beaverdale Books. This issue features a marvelous cover story by Barbara Lounsberry as she takes readers on a rest-of-the-story journey deeper than even Paul Harvey could do as she shares the reality behind the writer of so many Nancy Drew mysteries and other series books, Mildred Augustine.
11:17 AM – Des Moines Performing Arts Communications Director Jonathan Brendemuehl shares an enticing overview of programming developed despite the pandemic, from national performance experiences to tours to even holding special occasions on the Civic Center mainstage, a rare opportunity for someone seeking a golden glow during these restrictive times.
11:32 AM – Award-winning young adult author Elizabeth Wein released her latest gem, and many readers well outside the YA range will be reading this exceptional story. Based in the WW II era, Elizabeth has created a compelling story anchored by a strong female protagonist. Listen as she shares some back story about the creation of this novel.
“…this is historical fiction at its finest, casting a light on history (with some minor liberties, noted in the extensive backmatter) as well as raising questions still relevant today, particularly around class and race, nationality and belonging; unexpected connections across those gulfs lead to moments of love and heartbreak for readers and characters alike. . . . Another soaring success.” —Kirkus, STARRED review
11:50 AM – Winner of many awards for his poetry and narrative writing, Dennis Maulsby reads a passage from his recent book, “House de Gracie.”
11:54 AM – The Quebec-based band, Des Temps Entan, presents “Le Fee de Dents.”
12:00 PM – Theatre Midwest prepares to present its next virtual offering, “The Thanksgiving Play,” as part of its Fresh Produce Concert Reading series. Director/Artistic Director Tom Woldt and Communications Director Erin Tracy lead a lively conversation about this comedic yet thought-provoking show.
12:16 PM – Nationally acclaimed Robin Farmer infuses her debut novel with her exceptional career in journalism to create a compelling story about a young girl whose defining moment as an African-American in a Catholic school launches a story that will touch its readers’ hearts and souls. Robin shares how her young adult years in the 1970s are reflected in this powerful, compelling novel.
“Historically rich and movingly told, Malcolm and Me is a striking debut. You’ll root for its whip-smart protagonist, Roberta, at every turn as she explores familial scars, interrogates religious trappings, and awakens to her voice and power. Though set in the 1970s, this book speaks directly to today’s spirit of protest and our reckoning with the mores and monuments of old.”
–Maya Smart, writer and literary advocate
12:31 PM – Iowa women’s historian Cheryl Mullenbach returns with her newest offering, a marvelously enticing exploration of “Stagecoach Women.” Cheryl plies her masterful combination of researching the stories that are “hiding in the historical weeds,” and brings them to vibrant life for our enjoyment. Be sure to get her new book, available through Beaverdale Books and other fine bookstores.
“(Cheryl) Mullenbach has a rare gift to not just delve into history and present stories that have often been overlooked, but she finds relevant stories, especially of women in our past, and helps to create a stronger understanding of our shared history.” -The Culture Buzz
12:45 PM – Mary Helen Sheriff pens a delightful, rich story in “Boop and Eve’s Road Trip,” a beautifully told tale about a somewhat quirky woman, hiding a family secret, who takes her granddaughter on a journey neither expected would unfold the way it did. Mary shares glimpses into the inspiration behind this irresistible debut novel. Mary’s love of writing comes through in vibrant fashion as she carries the reader along a powerful exploration of two souls sharing time together.
“Debut author Mary Helen Sheriff has woven a contemporary, heartwarming saga about women, for women. Peppered with surprises and humor, her story follows three generations of a dysfunctional family through their hurt, anger, and regret and toward reconciliation and hope.”―Pam Webber, best-selling author of The Wiregrass and Moon Water
12:58 PM – Iowa’s Renaissance Man, Chad Elliott, delivers another facet of his exceptional artistry, reading “Epitaph” from his recently published poetry collection, Rumble & Flash.
“The compelling beauty of Chad Elliot’s multi-faceted creativity is that each facet of his artistry has infusions from the others – his poetry sings, his music conjures imagery, and his paintings carry the harmonious melody of the world in each bold image.” – The Culture Buzz
Cultural nuggets – 

  1. Theatre Midwest presents its next Fresh Produce Concert Reading with “The Thanksgiving Play,” presented virtually Sat Nov 21 at 7:30 PM (with talk back following) and Sat Nov 28 at 3:00 PM. The presentation is free, but advance signup is required. Donations are welcome (and, encouraged by The Culture Buzz).
  2. The next Ankeny Community Theatre Readers Virtual Theater will be a crazy-funny comedy called A Fish Story by John Tuttle. It is presented and live streamed with permission from Concord Theatricals. Filled with unexpected twists and laced with humor, this story even involved a few fish! Join us on Sun Nov 22 at 7:30 PM. A Fish Story is directed by Doug Moon and features ACT favorites Scott Nielsen, Lauren Mills, Michael Porche, and Katty Hope.
  3. The Des Moines Community Playhouse continues live theatre, socially distanced and with COVID protocols in place, with I and You (thru Sun Nov 15). Exceptional precautions are being taken to safeguard their patrons, while honoring the desires of those same patrons seeking a live performing arts experience again.
  4. Iowa Stage Theatre Company and producer Hunter Arnold unofficially kicked off the holiday season, announcing that a special filmed version of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic A Christmas Carol starring one of the finest stage actors of our time, Tony Award® winner Jefferson Mays, will be released worldwide on Sat Nov 28. This streaming video event will benefit Iowa Stage Theatre Company as well as other community, amateur, regional theaters across the country which have been devastated by the pandemic.
  5. The Des Moines Community Playhouse prepares for its holiday show, the next live theatre, socially distanced and with COVID protocols in place production, “Miracle on 34th Street.” This play, from Valentine Davies book by the same name, was adapted by Executive Director David Kilpatrick as a radio theatre performance with a live audience, harkening back to the days when this was commonly done. This show opens Dec 4.
  6. The Ames Town & Gown Chamber Music Association is delighted to announce an exceptional online concert series this fall, presenting five special programs through our website free of charge, (www.amestownandgown) through December 18. Through these exceptional programs, we hope to connect with our audience and other classical music lovers, while also supporting musicians and the chamber music industry.

Beaverdale Books offers curbside service, or delivery service. Our new hours starting Sun Nov 1:
Sun: Noon – 4:00; Mon-Fri: – 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Sat: 10:00 – 5:00.      515-279-5400
Top Ten sellers in our store last month – see what everyone’s reading!
1. The White Man Who Stayed, James A. Autry*
2. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson
3. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, V.E.Schwab
4. Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age, John Lithgow
5. Iowa State Parks: A Century of Stewardship 1920-2020, Rebecca Conard*
6. Anxious People, Frederik Backman
7. This Just Speaks to Me: Words to Live By Every Day, Hoda Kotb
8. Troubles in Paradise, Elin Hilderbrand
9. The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett
10. The Office: A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary, Robb Pearlman
*Iowa Author!
Ongoing conversations with Callista Gould always deliver useful information. So much any merging or established professional could use is in her book, which, as she says, is “Best. Graduation Gift. Ever.” The book, The Exceptional Professional: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Career, is the perfect gift for that graduating daughter, son, grandchild, niece, nephew or good friend’s or neighbor’s child who never writes a thank you note. Check out to get a copy for someone you care about.
PERFORMING & VISUAL ARTS plus Other Cultural Consideration
Please check in advance regarding any scheduled performances, exhibitions, museum visits, etc.
Ankeny Community Theatre –; Facebook: Ankeny Community Theatre
Carousel Theatre of Indianola –; Faceook: Carousel Theatre Indianola
Class Act Productions –; Facebook: CAPTheatre
Des Moines Community Playhouse/Kate Goldman Theatre –; Facebook: DMPlayhouse
Des Moines Performing Arts/Temple Theater –; Facebook: Des Moines Performing Arts
Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre –; Facebook: DM Young Artists Theatre
Iowa Shakespeare Experience –; Facebook: Iowa Shakespeare Experience
Iowa Stage Theatre Company –; Facebook: Iowa Stage Theatre Company
Pyramid Theatre Company –; Facebook: Pyramid Theatre Company
Tallgrass Theatre Company –; Facebook: Tallgrass Theatre Company
TheatreMidwest –; Facebook: TheatreMidwest
Urbandale Community Theatre –; Facebook: Urbandale Community Theatre
AUDITIONS and Cultural Engagement Opportunities:
Check with galleries, organizations, destinations you frequented before the pandemic. Many are producing creative and unique ways to engage again…get your cultural fix.

  1. Nocé has instigated strict COVID protocols while launching live music at its destination-worthy venue – check out the schedule and find a time to savor the sublime setting and national-caliber music.
  2. Civic Music Association announces its 2020-2021 Season. Check it out.
  3. The Des Moines Symphony will present an appealing series of concert experiences. Check for details.

Greater Des Moines Independent Book Store Happenings:
The Culture Buzz shares many authors and their books with its audiences. We encourage you to visit your local independent book store regularly. The folks at these destination locations know books, and welcome the chance to help anyone connect with titles and subjects they seek. Check these sites, as their calendars are always filled with enticing activities and news.

  1. Beaverdale Books, Des Moines.
  2. Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola.
  3. Artisan Gallery 218, 218-5th Street, Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines (select author events),
  4. Read a Book Nook, Marshalltown.
  5. Book Vault, Oskaloosa.
  6. Prairie Lights Books & Cafe, Iowa City.

Cultural Exploration Resources:
The Culture Buzz will begin including carefully vetted but comprehensive listings where you can do some advance online exploration before scheduling destinations in the region. These are two great websites to know about:

  1. The Culture Buzz – John Busbee and associates have re-launched the website for The Culture Buzz, providing cultural adventurers a comprehensive overview of what The Culture Buzz provides. Included in this new site, by popular demand, is an archive library of favorite interviews and a new section of theatre reviews for Greater Des Moines theatre companies.
  2. Center Stage – This Cityview monthly column provides insights into Central Iowa’s theatre. Distributed throughout the region and available online. Current column:
  3. Cityview – Central Iowa’s monthly printed and continually updated online resource to all things happening in your community, from arts & culture, to music, to civic and political discourse, to fascinating columnists and stories. Cityview is the reliable source for keeping you informed and engaged in the Greater Des Moines community and beyond.
  4. Art Beacon Des Moines is Central Iowa’s home for promoting the visual arts. Our calendar of events highlights exhibitions, art talks and calls for art. Subscribe to the Art Beacon Weekly, our online newsletter filled with links to the latest art happenings. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  5. 900Views Podcast. An exploration of arts and community with Host Pat Boddy. Based out of Mainframe Studios in downtown Des Moines, 900Views provides a platform for glimpsing the creative work and lives of the Midwest’s cultural producers and influencers.
  6. Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center is this region’s source for a decades-established advocacy group for jazz, and established jazz professionals guiding and nurturing next generations of jazz musicians and fans.
  7. Central Iowa Blues Society is the area’s connecting point for performance, presentations and education in the world of blues.

Resources to help, support and guide during any challenges you or someone you care about may be experiencing:
COVID Iowa Recovery: 800-775-9276

Prep Iowa
  •  1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or
    United Way 211: Dial 211, text ZIP code to 898211 or visit
    CICIL: #CICILServes COVID-19 Hotline: (866) 44-CICIL
    Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
    LGBT National Youth Talkline: (800) 246-7743
    LGBT National Talkline: (888) 843-4564
    Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center:
    Broadlawns 24/7 Crisis Team: (515) 282-5752
    Your Life Iowa Help Line: (855) 581-8111
    Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
    Broadlawns Psychiatric Urgent Care: (515) 282-2200
    Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to be connected to crisis counseling
    Online Mental Health Crisis Chat:
    MercyOne Des Moines Behavioral Health Clinic: 515-643-9030.
    Prelude Behavioral Services (substance treatment): 515-262-0349

As always, I appreciate news and information from you out there in the cultural trenches and am ready and willing to pursue a story or interview to share with my audiences. ♦
Creatively yours, John Busbee

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