The Big Something

The Big Something is one amazing/ beautiful/ fascinating/ brilliant/ intelligent thing about or from the Pikes Peak Region delivered to the web and email inboxes around the region every weekday.

The Big Something
The Big Something
Credit D. Utterback

Produced by Noel Black, Craig Richardson and Delaney Utterback at Radio Colorado College, KRCC, the original idea was to expand the station’s programming and content in a web-only format with a “show” that would be a sort of cultural archaeology project for the Pikes Peak Region. Using audio-slideshows, photos, videos, writing, good old-fashioned audio and anything else the web will allow, The Big Something hopes to expand the sense of regional identity and community beyond the old clichés by uncovering, showing and telling stories and ideas that might otherwise go untold with a sense of one-to-one intimacy that radio evokes.

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The Middle Distance
2:43 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

The Middle Distance, 12.19.14: Doll Baby

 

The tree lights twinkle silently on Christmas morning in our Kentucky living room. Beneath the lowest limbs, glassy-eyed baby dolls, circa 1960, lounge among piles of soft new pajamas and socks, awaiting the arms of three little girls.

I believe these are the happiest days of my mother’s life, when she sees us with our new dolls. It’s true that we asked for them, but in a roundabout way. 

“What do you want Santa to bring you?” she asks. 

“A football and shoulder pads,” says my older sister.

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The Middle Distance
5:24 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

The Middle Distance 11.21.14: Word to the Birdman

There are plenty of good reasons to see the Alejandro Inarritu film Birdman, currently enjoying the kind of pre-Oscar buzz that, once you’ve seen the movie, will make you giggle.

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The Middle Distance
3:06 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

The Middle Distance 10.17.14: How The Gilmore Girls Saved My Life

Gilmore Girls

   

A student talked to me recently about his storytelling style. Film is his medium, and though he resists it, he tends naturally toward tightly constructed romantic comedies with snappy dialogue and happy endings. “I think I should just embrace my clichéd self,” he said. I told him that during my newspapering days, my co-workers, hard-nosed reporters, often teased that I covered the tearjerker beat. Sometimes, I said, we just have to admit what we’re good at whether we like it or not. 

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The Middle Distance
4:47 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

The Middle Distance 10.10.14: The Secret of Great Stories

Book Sale -- Myron Wood
Credit PPLD Image Number: 002-5818.jpg

 

  In her masterpiece, The God of Small Things, Indian novelist Arundhati Roy says this about stories: “The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen.” 

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The Middle Distance
4:43 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

The Middle Distance 9.26.14: Into Late September Shadows

"Myron Stratton Home" -- PPLD Image 013-4804.jpg
Credit Stewarts Commercial Photographers

It’s the day before the September equinox. Black clouds pile up to the north of Denver and a stiff breeze whips the tablecloths on the patio of a streetside sandwich shop. Diners clutch their newspapers and napkins, and their eyes dart across the busy street toward the approaching storm.

High school students on lunch break wander the sidewalks, deep in a dream of themselves.

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The Middle Distance
5:44 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

The Middle Distance 9.12.14: How Well You Walk Through Fire

“Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.” In his posthumous collection, What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire, poet Charles Bukowski encapsulated an all too familiar manifesto for growing old.

What nearly kills us strengthens us. What we lose brings into clear focus what we have. Clichés for living through the middle distance that, like all clichés, have become worn and ubiquitous because they are true.

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The Middle Distance
5:44 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

The Middle Distance 9.5.14: My People's Words

The most memorable exchange in the movie Sling Blade is between Karl, a mentally challenged man just released from the state mental hospital, and Frank, a young boy who’s his new friend.

Frank says: “I like the way you talk.”

“I like the way you talk,” says Karl.

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The Middle Distance
5:12 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

The Middle Distance 8.15.14: How Much Is Enough?

 

This mid-August morning, the cool air already begins to hint at fall. The light is soft and gray. The only sound is the crunch of gravel as I walk down the alley, green bucket in hand, to the garden I tend, about a block away from where I now live.

Until just a month ago, I lived in the tall house that shades the garden. Now I’m a daily visitor there, slipping through the back gate while everyone in the house is still sleeping, a venture that makes me feel secretive, like a kid spying on her parents. 

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The Middle Distance
2:24 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

The Middle Distance 7.25.14: A Happy Tune

Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence in "The King and I"
Credit Wikipedia

Ours was a show tunes kind of house, at the height of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s great musicals. And though we lived in a small Kentucky town where the idea of seeing a musical theater production onstage wasn’t even a distant dream, from the year I was born until I turned 11, films were made of Oklahoma, Carousel, The King and I, Flower Drum Song and The Sound of Music, and on television we saw the musical Cinderella. Between these and soundtrack releases on LP, we learned the melody and lyrics to most every song in every show.

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The Middle Distance
4:36 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

The Middle Distance 7.18.14: Our Houses, Ourselves

 

I’ve moved recently and have survived to tell the tale. Here are a few moving tips that might make your transition from old home to new home a little less difficult. 

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The Big Something
12:00 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

What Does Hegel Have to Do With The Motorcycle Helmet?

Alex Ilyasova, Organizer of the 4th International Journal of Motorcycle Studies Conference

The 4th International Journal of Motorcycle Studies Conference will take place beginning tomorrow, July 17 through Saturday. Conference organizer and UCCS Professor Alex Ilysova spoke with The Big Something’s Noel Black about the kinds of films and lectures the average motorcycle enthusiast can expect.

Click HERE for more information and to register.

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The Middle Distance
3:58 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

The Middle Distance 7.11.14: Jump In

Credit PPLD Image Number 001-5524

 

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Wish We Were Here
6:52 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Wish We Were Here Debuts Saturday, July 5

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE!

KRCC, Radio Colorado College, an NPR member station, will broadcast the pilot episode of its new hour-long radio show and podcast, Wish We Were Here, on Saturday July 5 at 3 p.m.; and Friday, July 11 at 7 p.m. on KRCC 91.5 FM and KRCC.org.

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Pikes Peak Library District
4:02 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Grand Opening of PPLD's '21st Century Library'

Inside the Pikes Peak Library District's new '21st Century Library"
Credit PPLD

The Pikes Peak Library District is set to officially open its new 21st Century branch in northern Colorado Springs Saturday. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

The branch houses several new types of facilities to provide equipment for aspiring artists, writers and filmmakers to learn and apply their skills. There’s also a new 400-seat theater designed for community shows, plays, and live music. 

District spokesman Travis Duncan says libraries are not static structures anymore, and the new branch will provide creative spaces for people to interact.

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The Middle Distance
4:49 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

The Middle Distance 5.30.14: The Best Kind of Cowboy

Kirk Hanna and Geronimo, by Myron Wood, May 1962. Courtesy of PPLD Special Collections. Image Number: 002-6082.

My heroes haven’t always been cowboys, but after moving to Colorado and getting to know a choice few, that changed. I was lucky as a journalist to spend time with Duke Phillips of Chico Basin Ranch, south of Colorado Springs, and witness his dedication to responsible land management and conservation. And I was privileged as a reporter back in the 1990s to hear Kirk Hanna explain to a room full of environmentalists how ranchers like him could help them achieve their goals if they’d just put aside their stereotypes and prejudices.

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The Middle Distance
5:37 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

The Middle Distance 5.9.14: Good Fences

Credit PPLD Image 023-162

 

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The Middle Distance
6:44 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

The Middle Distance 5.2.2014: The Family Cat Skull

 

Wherever I live there are two requirements. There must be a kitchen window over the sink, to gaze out when washing dishes. And on the windowsill, there must be the family’s cat skull.

This has been the scenario in every kitchen I’ve had — five of them — over the last 20 years.

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The Middle Distance
6:41 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

The Middle Distance 3.21.14: I Didn't Get It

Recently I came across some old notes that might as well have been written in Sanskrit. Aphorisms, clever sayings that seemed to turn on themselves.

“If you experience it, it’s the truth. The same thing believed is a lie.”

“In life, understanding is the booby prize.”

This was my handwriting but the ideas might as well have been written in code.

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The Middle Distance
6:05 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

The Middle Distance 2.28.14: The Line Leads Away From Home

If you drew a line straight up through the middle of a map of the United States, across the fruited plain, that line would come within 100 miles of the shooting locales of two American films currently contending for Oscars in multiple categories: Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, filmed in and outside a number of the state’s eastern plains towns; and August: Osage County, filmed largely in a big old house in Osage County on the border of Oklahoma and Kansas.

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Culture
5:19 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

The Middle Distance 1.17.14: With the Phone Unplugged

Half a month into the new year and I have lost all sense of time passing. Moving deeply southward across the continent in the dead of winter will do that. It is disorienting to see a rose in bloom in January, but here on the Gulf coast of Texas on the trellis of my mother’s front porch, the yellow climbing rose is loaded with buds.

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Culture
6:03 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

The Middle Distance 1.10.14: Still Time

PPLD Digital Photo Archive, Image Number 195-4258.jpg

My son-in-law arrives tired and hungry for his annual holiday visit. Winter storm Hercules, followed closely by a record-setting Arctic vortex of extreme cold, has left thousands stranded in New York City but he managed to get out and fly to Houston following a harrowing day in an airport filled with desperate traveling strangers. 

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The Middle Distance
4:24 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

The Middle Distance 1.3.14: Stories of a Pioneer American Family

Apple Tree and Irises by Myron Wood, May 1980. Copyright PPLD. Image 002-9202.

When I arrive in Galveston on the next-to-last day of 2013, my mother has made a soup from the bones of the Christmas turkey. Just a few rags of meat on the bones, but the broth is rich and brown and fragrant. She has tossed in the last scraps of vegetables from her refrigerator and a handful of wild rice.

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The Middle Distance
10:04 am
Wed November 27, 2013

The Middle Distance 11.29.13: Season of Contradictions

"Tejon Street at Night" by James and Helen McCaffery, ca. 1950s. Courtesy of Special Collections, Pikes Peak Library District. Image Number: 266-10084.

(This column originally ran on December 3, 2010. Kathryn Eastburn will return next week.)

‘Tis the season of contradiction. Bare black tree limbs, frozen earth, and neighborhood houses lighted up like Vegas. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and a constant string of economic forecasts based on how much we might or might not spend on stuff we don’t need in this holiday season.

Meanwhile, 28 million jobless Americans lose their federally funded unemployment benefits, barely raising a peep.

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The Big Something
5:15 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

The Middle Distance 11.15.13: In The Bedroom

The earliest bedroom is corner-mounted in a brand new post-World War II house built of native Kentucky limestone. Your mother has arranged a maze of chests of drawers and beds for her three little girls — so close in age they seem part of one big whole — to offer them equal amounts of relative privacy. The effect is of a nest, a tiny space barely big enough to turn around in, where you hide the things you don’t want to share. In winter, it is cozy and dark. In summer, a large and very loud electric fan fills the window frame, blowing hot air out by day and sucking cooler air in by night.

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The Middle Distance
5:13 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

The Middle Distance 10.18.13: Recipe for a Cold Day

It has to be a cold day. Preferably the first really cold day of the season, when the wind has swept down from the north and left the yellow leaves dangling, threatening to fall all at once; when the still-green summer grass stands stiff and frosted. A gray mid-October day when staying at home is in order.

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The Big Something
4:34 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Vinylogue: Patrick McConnell's Stand-up Memoir Set to Music

Comedian and Storyteller Patrick McConnell will present his one man show “Vinylogue” beginning tonight and running through the weekend at the new Millibo Art Theatre at Ivywild. I spoke with McConnell about his autobiographical monologue set to music.

Click HERE for complete details about the show.

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The Middle Distance
6:08 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

The Middle Distance 8.23.13: Summer of 1971

Memphis, 1971
Credit Ted Eastburn

Summer of 1971. Our hip-hugger bell-bottom jeans are worn thin in the seat and we like to wear them with flimsy halter tops. It’s possible we are emulating the hippies in San Francisco we’ve seen on the news since hippie sightings are still rare here in Memphis, Tennessee. We will be high school seniors in the fall and this, we faintly realize, is our last summer of real freedom.

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The Big Something
4:37 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Symbiosis Part 1: An Interview with Ivywild Partners Mike Bristol and Architect Jim Fennell

[Listen to Part 2 HERE]

Beginning tomorrow and continuing through the weekend, Ivywild School will celebrate its grand opening. The Big Something’s Noel Black sat down with Co-Owners Mike Bristol of Bristol Brewing and Jim Fennell, Lead Architect of Fennell Group, and author of the book BUILD IVYWILD. Tune in to KRCC tomorrow, Friday, August 16 at 4:50 p.m. to hear Part 2 of the interview.

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The Middle Distance
4:44 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

The Middle Distance 8.9.13: Summer in Full

[Clouds] by Myron Wood, June 1976. Copyright PPLD. Image Number: 002-1619.

The clock is ticking and it’s making me uneasy. I’ve got those back-to-school, back-to-work, back-to-reality, check it off the to-do list, end-of-summer blues.

This year I decided the summer would be mine to do as little as possible in. I would recharge, replenish, rejuvenate. No road trips to places I hadn’t been before or to visit family. This would be the first summer in memory when I just stayed home and received whatever the day delivered.

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The Big Something
4:43 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

The Middle Distance 8.2.13: The Serendipity of Yes

Boudhanath Stupa

Out here in the middle distance, the light is sometimes so harsh and bright that we want to draw the shades and just rest in cool darkness. The impulse to retreat has never been stronger than in these years approaching old age.

At home I am safe, is my mantra. At home I know who I am.

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