Friday, November 25, 2011

Superweekend & other holiday fun

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Christmas comes earlier every year. In southern New Mexico, it also gets more action-packed. This Friday, we move into full-tilt holiday fiesta season with Superweekend activities that include Winterfest Downtown and the popular shop-til-you-drop, three-day La Casa Bazaar at the Las Cruces Convention Center.
But that’s just the beginning. There are many more events on the horizon this weekend.
• If you’re in the mood for a little road trip and want alternatives to the big Las Cruces bashes on Friday, White Sands National Monument Open House features live music, luminarias around the historic adobe visitor center, and interpretive programs from 5 to 8 p.m. It’s free. Info: (575) 575-679-2599 ext. 236.
• The annual Hillsboro Christmas celebration, Christmas in the Foothills, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the picturesque nearby mountain village, with handmade gifts, homemade pastries, live music, Lawrence Tedrow’s Clydesdale horses and the popular $49.99 Art Show and Sale.
• Catch the comedy “Nuncrackers,” by Dan Goggin and directed by Dale Pawley, Friday through Dec. 18 at Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Downtown Mall. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. For tickets, at $5 to $10: (575) 523-1200.
• The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall, offers “Private Fears in Public Places,” by Alan Ayckbourn and directed by Ceil Herman from Friday through Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. For tickets, at $7 to $10: (575) 523-1223.
• The Border Artists and the Unsettled Gallery, 905 N. Mesquite St., celebrate the holiday season with a special art event, “The Border Artists & Friends Go Ornamental,” with a gala opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday Dec. 2, and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.
• Laughing at the Sun Two Arts & Crafts Christmas Bazaar runs from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at Mikey’s Place, 3100 Harrelson in Mesilla Park. A Friday fashion show will feature clothing by Georjeanna Feltha. Kids and pets can pose with Santa Claus from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday and check out fine arts and crafts by local artists. Info: (575) 640-3869
Pace yourself and mark your calendars. There are school and church pageants on the horizon and there’s still time to help out as a volunteer or maybe even a participant.
• Los Pastores Del Valle de Mesilla, a traditional Christmas pageant presented by generations of family members in Mesilla, marks its 50th anniversary this year with a performance at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at San Albino Basilica on the Mesilla Plaza. If your family is part of the tradition, or you’d like to start a tradition of your own, show up for rehearsals at 3:30 p.m. this Sunday and Dec. 4 and 11 at San Albino Basilica. Actors, singers and musicians of all ages are welcome. For information, call Joe Provencio at (575) 523-6174.
The weekend of Dec. 9 through 11 is almost as action-packed as superweekend. On Dec. 9, celebrate Mesilla Christmas Tree Lighting and shopping late. On Dec. 10, it’s time for the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park third anniversary celebration from 3 to 7 p.m. with luminarias at 4:30 p.m., plus Fort Selden’s Luminaria Tour and the annual Luminaria Beachwalk & Floating Parade of Lights Elephant Butte, also the scene of an arts and crafts sale.
First Baptist Church, 106 E. Miranda St. presents its Living Christmas Tree Concert with performances Dec. 10 through 13. Info: (575) 524-3691.
Because much of it falls on a weekend, larger crowds than usual are expected for the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta at Tortugas Dec. 10 to 12. The Tortugas Mountain pilgrimage will be on Dec. 11, with dancing and feasting on Dec. 12, all centered at Tortugas Pueblo.
The Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe will have dancing and feast days Dec. 10 and 12 this year at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church.
And later in December, the Las Cruces Chamber Ballet’s presentation of “Nutcracker,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 15 to 17 and 2 p.m. Dec. 18 at NMSU’s Atkinson Hall.
Hanukkah begins at sundown Dec. 20. Kwanzaa is Dec. 26.
Many will plan to join for caroling and luminarias Christmas Eve on the Mesilla Plaza.
There will be other luminaria displays in the territory, several concerts, art sales, and lots more. To stay clued in, keep checking Friday and Sunday Sun-Life sections, see Pulse in every Thursday’s Sun-News, or visit online at www.lcsun-news and click on Entertainment, Pulse and Things To Do.
Happy holidays.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Inspiring dreams for a new generation..or..Does this tour van have flight capability?

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES— I was okay — and still righteously blasé — until we got out on the Spaceport America runway.
I looked out at the portentous gray strip stretching enticingly in front of us, and up at the wild blue yonder my aircraft engineer, U.S. Army Air Corps pilot daddy used to sing about.
“Does this vehicle have flight capability?” I hopefully asked our leader, Mark Bleth, as he piloted our Follow the Sun Tours van down the evocative, sparkling-new 10,000-foot Spaceport runway.
He laughed and assumed full-tilt launch position and for a magical moment, I thought I’d convinced him to give it a go.
Unfortunately, a pair of buzz-kill Spaceport security guys intervened to tell us tour busses are no longer allowed on the runway, so that’s not a transcendent experience you’ll be able to share if you take the Spaceport tour.
But there’s still a lot to make it worthwhile for you, your kids and grandkids. And I was a hard sell, mind you. About a decade ago, when I got vaguely seasick and claustrophobic just watching an IMAX simulated spaceflight at Tombaugh Planetarium, I realized I’m not particularly eager to head for space myself. I’ll wait for my next lifetime, thanks anyway, when they’ve gotten the bugs out, the price down and some creature comforts built into our space cruises.
Frankly, I can’t think of any conditions in which I could not find better use for $200,000 than a two-hour space jaunt. And though in the end I caved and voted for it, I had serious reservations about allocating county tax dollars to Spaceport in a time of so many earthly needs.
And yet ...
I had a moment of temptation when Bleth talked about the development of sister spaceports in places like Dubai and Switzerland, and the possibility that we might soon make an up-and-down flight that would take us from Spaceport America to, say, Spaceport New Zealand, in two hours, about the time of a round-trip from Las Cruces to the El Paso Airport.
And there on that now-forbidden runway, surrounded by Jetson-ish architecture, I flash-backed to childhood memories.
Sputnik. Telstar (the hit instrumental song inspired by satellite sounds). Worrying with my childhood buddies about the monkeys and dogs drafted for first astronaut duties. Wehner von Braun guest starring on the Mickey Mouse Club, prompting neighborhood kids to try their own rocket launches.
Space race. The phrase inspired the Greatest Generation to build big schools and labs and beef up science programs for us Baby Boomers.
There was all the hype about the space program-related technological discoveries that would enhance our daily lives. Standouts included a pen that would write at any angle, if I remember right, and the iconic Tang, that too-sweet orange juice substitute with an icky, chalky texture and a vile aftertaste. But we all clamored for it, because it was what the astronauts drank in space.
It was all pretty darn exciting, even for those of us who knew early on that our futures were linked to the liberal arts rather than the rapidly evolving sciences.
Space fired our imaginations. We made paper cartons into space capsules and rockets and explored the universe in our own backyards. We flocked to sci-fi movies. Some of us wrote our own sci-fi stories and poems and music and even went on to create works like “ET,” “Close Encounters,” “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.”
And some of us, including the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, were inspired to commit to science and technology in a big way, ushering in the computer age and innovations in everything from communications and transportation to medicine.
We dreamed of things that never were, and they came to be. And yes, our daily lives were transformed.
We have many problems, and they’re pressing.
And Spaceport won’t solve them. But maybe it will inspire some visionary souls to dream of new frontiers, new solutions, and a better life shared on our little blue planet.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Spaceport America needs great art

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Space culture could be a great deal for us all.
My autumn vacation included admiring the NASA art exhibit at the Las Cruces Museum of Art and a visit to Spaceport America.
I’ll be writing about my adventures soon and will tell you how you can book a behind-the-scenes tour yourself. (If you just can’t wait, contact Follow the Sun Tours at (866) 428-4786 or
But in the meantime, I’d like to alert area artists — and the Spaceport America powers-that-be — to some major potential art ops.
Richard Branson already inaugurated his exciting new terminal with some performance art of his own (including rappelling down the Jetson-ish building himself).
But there’s a wealth of opportunity in the blank canvas that is Spaceport America, which seemed to me to be calling — nay, screaming — for some artistic expression. And we have the perfect, internationally-renowned artists nearby.
There’s a water tank just waiting for maestro Tony Pennock’s special touch.
Stephen Hansen’s sculptures are in the Smithsonian and embassies, airports, museums and galleries around the world. He’s a spaceport natural.
Ever since I was in charge of art programs for Florida’s then-brand-new Palm Beach International Airport, I’ve been yearning to festoon a runway with poetry and profound quotes. I couldn’t talk the stuffy Palm Beach folks into that, but with all the famed poets, playwrights and authors in our area and what I’d think would be less demanding regulations for sporadic space flights, couldn’t we send our civilian astronauts off with some uplifting bons mots? And maybe some runway masterpieces by artist Bob Diven, whose repertory includes award-winning chalk masterpieces, if you insist on something less permanent.
How about a concert series? We had Harvard glee clubs, Yale Whiffenpoofs, Eastman School of Music chamber music ensembles and renowned jazz bands and gospel choirs flying in for the day to entertain passengers in Florida.
With Branson’s Virgin Music connections, I’ll bet we could lure some top names in for Spaceport music fests, with or without launches on the agenda.
I’m usually a proponent of public art competitions that are open to all, but in this case, I’d like to see our tax investment (New Mexico’s in general, and Sierra County’s and Doña Ana County’s in particular) acknowledged with a permanent and rotating art collection featuring regional artists in Spaceport America buildings and grounds.
With $90 million in reservations already booked for the first civilian flights, it’s clear that we will be attracting folks with lots of disposable income. If they can afford $200,000 for a quick space jaunt, surely they would could be in the market for some fine art souvenirs. And it wouldn’t be nice to have some of our top artists represented in a Spaceport gallery that might entice visitors to visit galleries in nearby Las Cruces, Mesilla, Truth or Consequences and Silver City?
I’d love to see a committee formed to explore the cultural possibilities of Spaceport. Between launches, it could be a very inspiring site for everything from music festivals to art exhibitions and maybe even an innovative play or two.
In the meantime, if you want examples of great ways space and art can partner up, see how world-renowned artists explore the final frontier in “NASA Art: 50 Years of Exploration,” running through Jan. 21 at the Las Cruces Museum of Art on the Downtown Mall. The Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit features works from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and National Air and Space Museum archives, including some scenes inspired by space exploration scenarios in our part of the world.
We’ve already hosted some intriguing scientific and educational symposiums in conjunction with the development of Spaceport America. I’d love to see New Mexico’s extraordinary cultural and arts organizations find expressive ways to fire imaginations and express our creative talents.
I still remember, as a small child, watching the first space launches and hearing my artist mom and poetic, aircraft engineer dad muse that it would be nice if we could send artistic astronauts into space to share their insights with us all.
This time, with the civilian wave, I think we should find ways for artistic souls to get in on the ground floor of the Spaceport to help inspire us all to keep looking up.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Secrets of the Universe

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Last week, in Secrets of the Universe No. 1, I shared some of the perils and aggravations that come with parenthood and aging.
This week, let’s focus on the perks.
Some people think that life stories get less interesting and plot possibilities decrease as you get older. Those people are wrong.
Some of the most entertaining children of a lifetime may come into an enlightened woman’s world after her childbearing years have passed, along with passionate love, amazing adventures, unexpected, even startling successes, and maybe even some extraordinary and revolutionary creative concepts.
As we get older and — especially — wiser (alas, the two traits don’t always go together), the more likely we are to see potentials, make connections and skillfully navigate the critical passageways of life.
As the mantle of age descends upon your shoulders, so, too, if you’ve lived boldly and with integrity, do some secrets of the universe.
Here are a few I’ve collected.
The price of awareness is awareness.
The more some people feel out of control, the more they try to control others. Do your best to stay out of the knee-jerk controller category. It’s always best to get your own house in order before you attempt to order someone else’s chaos.
Learning and teaching are perpetually rewarding. Do your best to keep up with the latest technologies. Get your kids and grandkids to teach you. In return, teach them that sometimes the greatest luxury in the 21st century is being out of touch. Now and then, turn off the computers and smart phones and maintain voice and text silence, even if it’s just for the space of a half-hour, single-tasking nature walk.
There is a delicate balance between striking when the iron is hot, and waiting for the right ship to come in. (If you have a few miles on your sports car and notches on your belt, you aren’t so likely to fear the wrath of the mixed metaphor police.)
Communication sometimes trumps style, and getting the point across is more important than “proper” forms.
On the other hand, you may be willing to fight for proper form every now and again. Especially when the form is related to some really important concept like courtesy and respect.
But I always try to keep R.W. Emerson’s wise maxim in mind: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”
Anger is something else you don’t fear as much as you grow older. You learn when to turn the other cheek, but you also learn when it doesn’t serve anyone to let a bully have his or her way. Bullying harms everyone, including, long-term, the bully.
There is also a great power in righteous indignation. Unlike the anger fueled by emotions like hate and prejudice, which ultimately destroy, anger on behalf of a good cause can be energizing, cleansing and even healthy. Since human beings are good at fooling themselves, however, it’s safest to be sure your anger is righteous, always easier when you are fighting for someone else, for a cause from which you do not benefit directly and intimately.
Service is untimately more rewarding than selfishness.
Free-ranging, fearless friendship can be another dividend that comes with maturity.
With age you learn that the risks most worth taking are not physical or financial, but emotional, spiritual and intellectual. Never be afraid to reach out to new people, new cultures and new ideas.
“There is much coldness among men because we do not dare to be as cordial as we truly are,” Albert Schweitzer said.
Declare yourself. Speak out. Love and courage expand your world, hate and cowardice contract it.
At every stage of life, there can be moments of pure joy. Learn to recognize, appreciate and savor them.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.