Thursday, December 17, 2015

Three generations of adventures with "Star Wars"

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES  - A “Star Wars” light saber is still hidden somewhere in my Las Cruces garage, archaeological proof that the iconic saga has captured the imaginations and swashbuckling spirit of three generations of my family.
My son Ryan and I watched the first “Star Wars” movie during its premiere weekend in 1977. In the new millennium (the real timefame, not to be confused with Han Solo’s vehicle, Millennium Falcon),  I watched several more Star Wars adventures with his son and my grandson, Alexander the Great.
It was clear that the Force would remain strong in our family, in the young one, the almost middle age one and even within the senior contingent and her friends. (I still have a Yoda T shirt which, for some reason, I always feel moved to wear on the Fourth of July.)
And the Force grew in young Alex, stronger even that the lure of what his grandmother considered the dark force obsession with assorted video games. So strong that the realtime swashbuckling light saber shenanigans got out of hand and I felt peace in the galaxy would be better served by hiding the saber away.
During a visit this summer, Alex, now 19, revealed that he’s always known exactly where the beloved toy was “hidden.” I suspect it was retrieved for many a duel with his friends and cousins over the years.
I don’t really mind. Give or take a Jar Jar Blinks or two, I’ve always believed that there are still-under-appreciated profundities and timeless and surprisingly timely relevance in the unfolding saga, though I have become somewhat confused by all the sequels, prequels, bonus novels and Ewok TV movies over the years.
The epic “Star Wars” battles between good and evil, and the fumbling coming-of-age struggles, mistakes and revelations in learning to navigate the internal and external struggles between the two, have become the stuff of modern archetypes.
I’ve found my own quest for enlightenment filled with Jedi Knight training references and metaphors, with respected spiritual mentors quoting Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
During some of the most difficult and dangerous missions of my life, including investigative reporting on a homicidal cult, I found myself invoking famous lines from Obi-Wan as I found and transported some crucial information and informants: “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
And I’ve taken note of, and sometimes marveled at, the synchronistic bonds, common references and even personal connections surrounding “Star Wars” in my own life.
A former Mesilla resident who became one of my best friends went to school with George Lucas. She talked about his interest in cars and the influence of the cruising Californian car culture on his first film, “American Graffiti.”
I heard from a couple of sources, though I’ve can’t seem to find online confirmation, that the concept for ‘Star Wars” came to Lucas in a dream.
I first met Lawrence Kasdan when he was the University of Michigan roommate of a college boyfriend. He was very smart, wryly funny, good-looking, and like all the roomies, entertainingly sarcastic and enthusiastically anti-establishment. He would go on to write some of my fave movies (“The Big Chill,” “Grand Canyon,” “Body Heat,” “Accidental Tourist,” “The Bodyguard”), along with screenplays for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and assorted “Star Wars” projects, including “Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,” “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi,” and a 1996 video game, “Shadows of the Empire.” And he shares writing credits for “The Force Awakens” with J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt and Lucas. (There will be more, according to Kasdan has also written, with his son, Jon, a screenplay for an untitled Han Solo “Star Wars” anthology film slated for 2018 release.)
What does it all mean?
I’ve long since moved from Jedi Knight trainee to trainer and combat manual writer. Deep into my Yoda and Obi-Wan years, I’m still not one to leave any synchronistic stone unturned or unexplored. I’ve learned these things take time, patience and reflection. And consultations with my son and grandson. I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, as always, may the Force be with you.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

Monday, December 14, 2015


LAS CRUCES  -  I know very clearly what I want for Christmas this year, and just as clearly that the odds of getting it are very slim.
And I’m not talking about peace on Earth and goodwill to men, women, humanity, critters and the planet itself. I still haven’t given up on all that.
Even, or maybe especially, because I’m in the news business, I see just enough evidence of sterling souls, to give me hope, despite another year of devastating, senseless shootings. I have been educated by some of those great souls to believe that the entire ocean is affected by a pebble. That whenever there are two seeking consciousnesses, somewhere in the universe, there is reason for hope, as I once heard Tenny Hale and Dr. William Sheldon agree, after a long, profound discussion.
Margaret Mead, an anthropologist and delightful human being I once interviewed during an enlightening and entertaining day, famously proclaimed: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
And as Jesus, the transcendent soul whose birth we celebrate next week, promised nearly two millennia ago: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
What I’m wondering is if the whole thing still works - the gathering, the seeking, the small, thoughtful committee group changing, even the pebble concept –if the link is via text, Twitter, Instagram or even the most carefully-posed selfie.
I’ve been in the communication trenches for a long time now, and I’ll agree that most forms of social media offer great ways and opportunities to start a conversation.
But it’s just a start. When it comes to positive, profound, evolutionary change in the world, I think complex, intimate and extended communication is required. And that means conversation. And conversation in real time, preferably face-to-face, live and in person, or via tablet, PC or phone apps that allow us to get a good look at the person we’re talking to, but at least involving voice communication.
I recently heard that social media tech courses are currently very big with seniors who hope to find ways to communicate with grandkids who refuse to have voice conversations or even activate their voice mail.
Which brings me to what I really want for Christmas: more voice time with my loved ones of all generations.
And yes, I really do remember awkward, long-distance phone conversations as a little kid and a recalcitrant teen, with elderly relatives I barely knew. It was sometimes challenging even with my fun grandparents, whom I adored, to share thoughts and feelings about the most important things in our lives in a brief phone conversation.
But I also know that’s how I learned to make friends and form real, lasting relationships, and later to become a journalist, where the basic job requirement is to be able to talk to just about anybody about just about anything.
And I know that no emoticon, including the ambivalent sad-happy one named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year, can’t come close to the nuances found in the human voice.
For the young, the insecure, and also for those hoping to hide the truth and their real selves for nefarious purposes, social media can be a refuge, safe haven and camouflage, a stage for experimenting with new personalities and a form of creative expression. But it can also be a way of hiding from reality, and a powerful way to bully, lie, seduce and endanger under the guise of anonymity.
To grow, to evolve, to change, we need to communicate with one another, as fully and truthfully as humanly possible.
And that’s why I want real, compassionate, conversation for Christmas this year, for all of us. I think we may be surprised and pleased with what we learn about one another, and ourselves.
(And I suspect those who need this message the most are least likely to receive it, so I’ll text you a link and hope for the best.)

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

Dec. 13: Luminarias in the Caribbean

DEC. 13
LAS CRUCES  -  Ah, luminarias, those iconic beauties that light our holidays and say Christmas in New Mexico to so many of us.
And to me, luminarias were glowing rays of hope on one lonely, homesick late spring evening in Jamaica.
It was one of those crossroads in life. I’d been offered an artist-in-residency for a few months at the exotic oceanside community of Frenchman’s Cove in Port Antonio, Jamaica, the kind of thing that happens when you meet someone like Grainger Weston in someplace like Santa Fe.
My book was almost done, and something in me knew that family ties and cosmic missions would mean I wouldn’t be heading back to Santa Fe for long. A lagoon phone call reinforced the premonitions, and a stopover in South Florida would seal the deal.
Soon, I’d be flying home to pick up my car and pack up. It would be seven long, long years before I would return to New Mexico.
That long-ago night, there was a Technicolor sunset that reminded me of the view from my little adobe’s patio in the City Different, if you squinted and imagined the ocean waves were sage-studded expanses of desert.
My Santa Fe friends had insisted that I wasn’t done with New Mexico, and I hoped they were right. I decided to see if I could swim my angst away.
I swam far beyond the protected cove to a wild, rocky deserted beach. I suddenly realized it was getting very dark and I’d been swimming longer than I’d planned.
It took me quite a while, wrangling a strong ocean current or two, before I finally rounded the little outcropping with palms that marked the entrance to Frenchman’s Cove.
And, still far away, illuminated with lights in flickering in brown paper bags, I recognized the familiar contours of what a London journalist had recent proclaimed one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
But luminarias? What was wrong with this picture? Was I dreaming, still back in my cozy Santa Fe bed? Or was I delusional from a salt water overdose or a Jamaican ganja contact high?
The flames grew brighter as I waded ashore, and followed the illuminated trail that led to an elegant dinner on the veranda. And at trail’s end was Gregg Weston, Grainger’s son, who was helping the staff place candles in their beach sand beds in a stack of brown paper bags. He’d packed the little bags on his last trip back from the family ranch near San Antonio.
He was homesick for the Southwest, too.
Tourists from throughout the world stopped by that night, curious to learn more about this strange and beautiful “Jamaican” art form. Gregg and I explained about the luminarias, as Texans and southern New Mexicans called them, or farolitos, as Santa Feans would insist, sometimes indignantly, were their true and correct designation.
But those warm, humble little lights, by any name, will forever be a comfort and inspiration to me, a sign of faith, a promise of my querencia, a soul’s special place, that, like then-unmet best friends, would one day come into my life.
I’ve thought of those little lights on the ocean in the decades since, when I gathered with good friends to bask in warm luminaria glows on plazas in Santa Fe, Taos, Albuquerque, Doña Ana and Mesilla, and lining driveways of the homes of friends and paths at White Sands National Monument and on the NMSU campus. 
If you missed New Mexico State University’s Noche de Luminarias and Light Up The Desert at Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park, there’s still time to experience Fort Selden’s Luminaria Tour at dusk today or Christmas Eve luminarias and carols on the Mesilla Plaza.
There’s something magical, a spiritual promise and beacon of hope, in the little lights. For many of us, wherever we are, luminarias have become a lovely symbol of enduring faith redeemed and promises fulfilled, of a tiny baby born in a humble manger who would live on to profoundly and forever change our world.
Merry Christmas.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


LAS CRUCES – The spicy aroma of piñon fires. Bright red ristras on front doors and in kitchens. The colorful swirling skirts of folklorico dancers and the bright notes of mariachis. Massed choirs singing  “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah,”and little kids forming an impromptu neighborhood caroling group. Lightings of Christmas trees and a giant Chanukah menorah on an picturesque adobe plaza.
And luminarias, thousands of candles, nestled in beds of desert sand in little brown bags, flickering on plazas and in villages and university campuses and lining driveways.
One of my relatives recently asked me what it’s like to spend Christmas and December holidays in New Mexico. I told her to get comfortable: This’ll take a while.
There’s a lot more than I can cover in a single column, but this busy weekend is just the start of some of our favorite things about December celebrations in New Mexico.
Three cultures blend at Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival at Tortugas Pueblo, with sacred ceremonies, dancing and a pilgrimage up Tortugas Mountain. Read more about the festival, always held Dec. 10, 11 and 12, in today’s SunLife section.
Some years, we’ve been able to see Joseph and Mary and a donkey on loan from the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, looking for shelter on what was once the Las Cruces Downtown Mall, all part of La Posada, an ancient re-enactment as old as the first Spanish colonies here.
Newcomers may confuse it with Los Pastores, an equally ancient morality play featuring intense, creatively costumed and sometimes humorous clashes between good and evil. (Spoiler alert: good always triumphs.) Generations of the same regional families have kept the tradition alive in annual presentations by Los Pastores del Valle de Mesilla. Good news: you can still catch it this year. Performances will be at 7 p.m. Thursday Dec. 10 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 12 at the Basilica of San Albino on the Mesilla Plaza. Admission is free.
And by the by, if you have a chance to see any of our holiday pageantry, big or small, make it a priority.
On the big side, there is the annual Living Christmas Tree, featuring a large choir and orchestra, plus 65,000 computer-controlled lights coordinated with a program of traditional and contemporary Christmas carols, this year at 1 and 7 p.m. Dec. 12, and 7 p.m. Dec. 13, 14 and 15, at First Baptist Church, 106 S. Miranda St. It’s $5 and thousands attend. For tickets, call 575-524-3691.
And don’t miss the lighted nine-foot menorah on the Mesilla Plaza. Chabad Jewish Center de Las Cruces is sponsoring the free event with a grand concert and menorah lighting at 5 p.m. today, to celebrate the Dec. 6 first night of Chanukah. Rogers Park Band, an award-winning Hassidic folk/pop duo from Chicago will perform and there will be hot cocoa, gelt, hot latkes, jelly donuts and candles. It’s part of a world-wide celebration. Check out for more information.
“The menorah serves as a symbol of Las Cruces’ dedication to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship God freely, openly, and with pride,” said Chabad Rabbi Bery Schmukler.  
For a sampling of Christmas traditions, Bellas Artes Sin Fronteras, a brand new nonprofit cultural organization, will present “Feliz Navidad: Christmas in Song and Dance” at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 and 2 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Rio Grande, with mariachis, folklorico dance, Los Pastores and La Posada, piñatas for kids, and traditional food treats. For tickets, at $30, visit
And back to those luminarias. There will be about 6,000 of them on the NMSU campus for Noche de Luminarias from 6 to 9 p.m. today Dec. 6, along a horse-drawn trolley ride, crafts for kids and adults, photo booths and entertainment at Corbett Center. Corbett’s Aggie Underground is also the site of a brand new feature, an ice rink which will continue from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday. Skates will be available and it’s all free.
Among other luminaria displays, all on Dec. 12, are Fort Selden’s annual luminaria tour, from 5 to 9 p.m., with military re-enactors, cocoa and cookies; Las Esperanzas’ Christmas on Mesquite Street Winterfest from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Klein Park, featuring a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, hay rides, piñatas, hot dogs and lots of fun for kids; and Elephant Butte Lake State Park’s annual Luminaria Beachwalk from 5 to 8 p.m.
Finally, caroling and luminarias on the Mesilla Plaza (beginning at 6 p.m. Dec. 24) is a Christmas Eve tradition for many. Happy holidays!
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


LAS CRUCES  - ‘Tis the season.
But then, when is it not, these days?
I have a couple of new holiday wreaths and a passel of presents on the bed in my guest room, and guests are coming to stay over the next few weeks.
I’ve been pondering since early November.
Should I hang the wreaths? Or is it too soon?
“Too soon?” the question we’ve come to associate with comedians’ insensitive jokes about embarrassing or even tragic matters, is what many of us are asking about two subjects well-bred children were once taught never to bring up at dinner parties and polite society.
Religion and politics.
Since the seasons for both Christmas and presidential races seem to be expanding from annual and quadrennial to perennial (or perpetual, if you prefer), both are subjects that are difficult to avoid.
Pundits began speculating about top 2016 contenders the night President Obama was elected to a second term. Though they didn’t see Dr. Carson or the Donald coming, a lot of attention has been devoted to many of the others in the still-crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls and the early kickoff doesn’t seem to have helped in the sorting process.
But campaigning has become big business and I don’t expect it to end anytime soon, any more than I expect that Thanksgiving will return to a quiet day of family, gratitude and feasting, instead of another crucial qualifying event in the holiday shopping Olympics.
And I do mean “another.” In recent years, we have added Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday and White Friday. For Las Cruces, White Friday will be Dec. 4 on Main Street Downtown, when many merchants will stay open until 9 p.m. and are urging us to “shop local, buy local.”
Christmas in July has been a staple for decades, so much so that there are even “Christmas in July presales” that start as early as March, just as many merchants are finally clearing out the last of their post-actual-Christmas merchandise.
Some local artists and craftpersons offer Christmas ornaments, décor and other holiday items year around at markets and fairs. Apparently, Christmas is a big, year-round tourist lure.
In a USA TODAY feature, Eric Grossman listed ten “communities that roll out the red-and-green carpet to visitors throughout the year:” North Pole, Alaska, Santa Claus, Ind., Bethlehem, Pa., Christmas, Fla., Frankenmuth, Mich., Solvang, Calif., Fredricksburg, Texas, Helen, Ga., Leavenworth, Wash., Vail, Colo.
On a much smaller scale, our own little adobe tourist mecca, Mesilla, also has some places that cater to holiday aficionados all year long. Galeria on the Plaza, 2410 Calle de Principal, has trees in the back of the store festooned with Southwestern-themed ornaments, and ‘Tis the Season de Mesilla, 2404 Avenida de Mesilla, specialized in Christmas ornaments and décor.
I can’t help wondering how the world would change if we invested just half of what we spend on presidential campaigns and holiday gifts in, say, college funding or food, clothing and shelter for children living below the poverty level, right here, in our own country.
Or maybe we wouldn’t mind so much if politicians seemed as eager to listen to us, please us and do what’s best for the nation when they finally in office as they are when they are perpetually campaigning for election or re-election.
And it would be wonderful if the spirit of Christmas and the calls for tolerance, peace on Earth and goodwill toward mankind were as omnipresent as the relentless pressure to deck our halls and run up our credit cards.
Many of us can still count on one day each year, Dec. 25, when politicians quit campaigning and most merchants close their doors. It’s still a wonderful time to gather with loved ones and think about what’s really important.
In the meantime, before and after, ‘tis the season.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at,  @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


LAS CRUCES  -  A slightly-larger-than-life-size head of the cartoon character Dilbert perches atop my file cabinet, overlooking my newsroom cubicle.
Dilbert’s age and provenance are a bit obscure, lost in the shifting of newsroom migrations and reconfigurations. I think he entered my life when grandson Alexander the Great was about 7, and was briefly considered and then rejected as a Halloween costume candidate.
But he was called into duty as a playmate when Alex accompanied me to the newsroom, and hung around in the days when there were enough reporters with small kids to justify our own little play station cabinet of toys.
For more than a decade, Dilbert has stayed around as a kind of newsroom mascot.
He’s worn a bobbing heart headpiece for Valentine’s Day, beads and a glam feathered mask for Mardi Gras, and sported shamrock sunglasses on St. Patrick’s Day.
His spring Easter ensemble has included bunny ears, and a cascade of fluffy yellow chicks marching down his tie. Summertime has seen wreaths of flowers crowning his distinctive cylindrical head.
On Halloween, he’s had his pick of anything in my extensive costume closet. He’s been King Tut, President Obama and even, briefly, Donald Trump.
Through it all, he’s been a good sport and weathered a lot of hazardous duty. On longtime patrol on a pass-through counter bordering the newsroom in our old building, he attracted some attention from the critters in the canyoniverous quarters that constituted a kind of urban wildlife preserve. There were free-range mice, humungous cucarachas, a colony of bats and even a resident little owl. As first-in-newsroom early bird in those days, I once caught the owl in a face-to-face encounter with him, appearing to be demanding credentials.
“Who? Who?”
Dilbert didn’t answer and I would later wonder if it was an omen, the owl attempting to call his name.
But Dilbert survived our 2011 fire, albeit in quarantine in my garage until his smoky-rubber fragrance dissipated a bit. He found a new home when we moved into our brand new building a few years later.
And here he has remained, in all his seasonal rotating exhibit glory. I sometimes suspect many of my busy colleagues rarely notice him and some may not even realize he’s there, unlike earlier days when we would all pitch in and deck Dilbert and the halls around him for Christmas, offering paper-clip stings and festive do-dads on loan from our desk.
And this year, I confess, I’ve sometimes succumbed to what a once stalwart source has dubbed “fiesta fatigue,” in a year in which several long-term events and festivals downsized, changed venues and formats or called it quits altogether.
Dilbert went naked, or at least under-accessorized, all summer and fall. Even on Halloween, the dashing lad who had once glittered as a gilded Egyptian king’s famed mummy mask, had to settle for a shopworn gag arrow-through-head.
Usually, in November, he would be wearing a pilgrim’s towering, buckled black hat.  
But this year, I decided to do something a little different, when I had a Santa hat left over from an early Healthy U Magazine shoot. I decided to give Dilbert the cheery red and white hat and leave the head-piercing arrow, a little getting-your-own back gesture to the First Nations peoples who graciously welcomed the first Pilgrims, shared that iconic first Thanksgiving feast and were rewarded with smallpox, slaughter and centuries of cultural desecration. 
Not that good old Santa Claus had anything to do with all that. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, a victim of idiosyncratic prop rotations.
Will Dilbert move into curmudgeonly pundit mode in 2016, or return to his merry seasonal fiesta self? We’ll keep you posted.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


LAS CRUCES – This is the joyous time of year when I look around my adobe abode and two words come to mind.
Downsize. Simplify.
By early November, I’ve usually finished all my shopping, established a theme for the wrappings and holiday décor and my guest bedrooms and home office daybed are heaped with gifts.
Every year, I pledge, “Never again.”
And every year, I do it again, anyway.
Progress has been made. Years ago, my brother and sister and I, all in far-flung corners of the country, decided to quit procuring, wrapping and shipping huge boxes of presents to one another and our now-grown children.
That helped a lot.
We hedged a little on birthdays. We pledged to send each other nothing but cards, but my sister and I bend the rules. When we find something that makes us think of each other, or our artistic mom’s whimsical tastes, or something we know our sibling would love, we have a serendipitous, spontaneous practice of sending it along.
We’ve delighted one another, on a variety of non-holidays and un-birthdays, with whisper-soft sheets, bouquets of Mexican paper flowers and colorful oilcloth tablecloths.
We’re psychic sibs and we know what we like. Exactly. The last Christmas we exchanged gifts, we were only slightly amazed to discover we had presented each other with identical pairs of fuchsia bath towels and woven Guatemalan tote bags. And we’d managed this little milagro, though she had shopped exclusively in South Florida and I’d found my twin finds in Las Cruces.
It really is more blessed (and often more fun) to give than receive, so it’s no hardship to share sisterly treats when the spirit moves us, especially when there are no deadlines involved. (Something we also appreciate, since we’re both longtime journalists.)
This year, we came up with another no-hassle gift strategy. We brainstormed and agreed on three new books we both wanted to read, and decided we’d purchase them ourselves and consider them gifts from each other. When things simmer down a little, we’ll have our own little holiday book club, with a leisurely, in-depth discussion.
I’ve already purchased by books from Sally, in the hardcover form I prefer after a hard day at the old PC. And Sally has downloaded her Kindle versions. We have decided to indulge in our favorites and not wait for paperbacks or library reserves (although that would work, too, for those on a tight budget). But after all, since they’re gifts, we feel free to spare no expense and “give” each other the editions of our choice.
I’ve also become more flexible with timelines with friends. I’ve been collecting exotic art supplies all year for amigas who are starting their own artistic little business. When I found out they were preparing for shows in early December, it seemed silly to wait until Christmas.
I packed everything up, took them to lunch, and gave them their art supplies in late October.
There were no complaints. And I cleared out another space in my burgeoning gift closet annex.
I do make some exceptions to my gift downsizing policy. It seems to be the packing and shipping that gets most of us down, so I confine most gift exchanges to close friends who live within easy schlepping distance, and we usually exchange little tokens at parties, lunches, dinners or other low-stress occasions.
And I still do the shipping for my son, grandson, daughter-in-law and a few far off soulmates, especially if we aren’t able to get together that year or if I know they are likely to be alone for all or part of the holidays.
Checks always cheer people up, but I find it can be most important to send actual, thoughtful gifts to those who profess to want them the least, especially those good souls I know are prone to seasonal blues.
I put a lot of thought into such gifts, which are often humorous and inspirational and are specifically tailored to the recipient’s tastes. And endorphin-revving, spirit-lifting chile peppers are often involved.
Sometimes, the real meaning of the season can be involved in gift-giving, too. The Wise Men were onto something.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at,  @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


The Doña Ana Arts Council is adding something new to the Renaissance Arts Faire this year, a section called Artistas del Camino Real,  which will feature artists working as they would have during the actual Renaissance in what is now the Southwestern United States and Mexico, using the methods and materials and traditions of  European and indigenous cultures. That means the things that would have been produced here during the period generally agreed to define the Renaissance (the 14th through mid-17th centuries).  Time travelers would have found Spanish religious art such as bultos, crosses, retablos and hide paintings, and pottery and other arts and crafts created by Pueblo Indians and regional tribes.
It's an interesting dose of realism in what is probably more of a fantasy view of the Renaissance for most of us.
Most of the artists who participate are offering contemporary arts which are  chosen for the juried show on the bases of quality, rather than any reference to  olden times.
 But many RenFaire artists, performers and visitors, I know from covering the event for more than two decades, put a lot of thought and sometimes extensive research in to their costumes, displays, vendor booths and performances.
Despite their name, members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (anachronism is defined by as "something that is not in its correct historical or chronological time)  along with Amtgard and the Adrian Empire, all make a lot of effort to bring authenticity into their costumes and life within their RenFaire encampment.
Members of both "royal courts" also take great pains in their costuming and deportment.  And we mean that literally: try spending a couple of hot New Mexico autumn days confined to those corsets and elaborately layered gowns, and I suspect that the royals and their followers could tell us all a lot about suffering for our art. Some of  the artistic derring-do is in the realm of pure fantasy, of course. Artist Bob Diven and the NMSU engineering department didn't have any records of  Renaissance-era dragons to guide their creation of the look and voice of Magellan. But their high- tech approach has delighted kids, who have told me they think the beast looks, sounds and acts just the way a dragon should.
Sometimes, RenHeads can get downright obsessive about it all. I saw that firsthand during a few decades in  Oregon,  still home to some of the world's few remaining Hippie/Flower Child colonies, also enthusiastic supporters and founders of the 20th century Renaissance Festival revivals. 
I still have PTRFSD (Post-Traumatic RenFaire Stress Disorder) flashbacks about a weekend  with Oregon Mensa  that included a fair and  a party at a restaurant specializing in authentic period feasts.  I was content to salute my Scandinavian ancestors with a costume store Viking helmet and  a fake fur tunic and gnaw on a turkey leg, but  more than half of our group seemed determined  to spend the weekend agonizing over wimple construction, authentic cooking techniques and other anachronistic issues.
I appreciate everybody's dedication, and it's always nice to be able to learn a little history and maybe pick up some perspectives on ye olde sometimes-less-than-golden days of yore.
Mostly, I plan to have fun, do some holiday shopping and then happily drive home in my car to my  PC, TV, microwave, TV, hot showers and other luxuries unknown to the world's most powerful Ren-era kings and queens, now, thankfully, available to common folk like me.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

Oct. 25, 2015: Prophecy and coming around again

It felt like something was coming full circle.
As I celebrated my 2lst anniversary at the Las Cruces Sun-News, I was working on a story about Joe Bullock,  author of  in “Walking with Herb: A Spiritual Golfing Journey to the Masters.” ( He's Artist of the Week . Read about him  in today's SunLife section.)
Joe is also the dad of  Nick, the subject of one of my first stories for the Sun-News, shortly after my arrival in 1994.
Joe called the newsroom to tell us Nick, then 11, had received a notice from the IRS that he owed about  $62 million in taxes. He didn't, of course, and most of the elementary school student's income had come from a part-time job that involved "selling frogs to friends."
The story went viral, in a time long before "viral" was an official thing, or called that, anyway.
AP picked up my story and it eventually attracted attention from national TV networks and financial publications.
"We even got a call from Johnny Carson," Joe told me recently.
Though Nick didn't make it to the old "Tonight Show," he did do several interviews, and his issues with the feds were successfully resolved.
And little Nick is all grown up now and a lawyer in Albuquerque, Joe reports.
The fight for truth and justice just might have influenced a career path.
Joe's book, by the by, is about a 60-something banker  who receives a message from God on his office computer, assigning a mission that includes winning the prestigious Masters Tournament, so Joe will have a platform to deliver some important messages to humanity.
It put me in mind of the classic 1977 comedy "Oh, God!" in which George Burns, as God, appears to a grocery store manager portrayed by John Denver with a similar mandate.
I got to know Denver when I was working as a consultant for the nation's first nuclear safeguard ballot measure in Oregon, an effort to ensure that there would be adequate testing of  safety systems and a sound plan for safe nuclear waste material management before new nuclear power plants could be built. (Prophetically good ideas, as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters would later demonstrate.)
Denver connected us with testimonials from Jacques Cousteau and other environmentally- concerned celebrities and offered his own services for a benefit concert for the cause.
Denver later also helped arrange for "Oh, God!" to be screened at a benefit for Tenny Hale, the prophetic soul who had predicted the exact day of the Three Mile Island Disaster.
It was one of her many prophetic hits chronicled in my book, "Tenny Hale: American Prophet," and an award-winning documentary by the same name.
I first met Hale in 1970, when she gave me a little book of predictions, in which she predicted the Watergate scandal, by name, long before the break-ins  that toppled a presidency. It was among a group of prophecies received when she was a small child, before she knew how to write, in the form of rhymes so she could remember them, she told me.
And I recalled her last days, and her predictions that the major population decimations in our time would come not from nuclear war, but nuclear accidents, climate and earth changes that would result in dam breaks,  and ferocious virus that would prey on our compromised immune systems. And  I recalled her predictions of advance technological developments that still seemed so far-fetched at the time of her passing in 1981, things that are part of my everyday life, now.
I thought about all that while I writing about the recent OYE! (Listen up!)  ecology-oriented overnight gathering in downtown Las Cruces, which was meant to inspire us to envision a better city, working with what we have, and brainstorm new ideas to help create a sustainable, creative and compassionate future for ourselves, our kids and our grandkids.
And I pondered some more while I was reading Joe's inspiring little book, a reminder that God works in mysterious ways.
 And that He always sends us prophets, warnings and answers to seemingly impossible dilemmas.
It's up to us to listen and pay attention, to believe in and love ourselves and one another enough to work on solutions. There's help out there, and a way, if there is  faith, and the will.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at,  @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.