A greeting card cartel?

motherdayI like holidays. I like Mothers Day. And I like giving greeting cards. But I have to wonder about card pricing. It appears that the simple Mothers Day card, which I buy for $4, costs the same across the entire U.S. with an already calculated price in effect throughout all of Canada. How can this be?

Conspiracy theorists, please investigate the usual suspects: Big government, Big business, Bigfoot…. I often hear legitimate concerns about an empire in Kansas, known as Hallmark, along with lingering suspicion that its new slogan might well be, “When you care enough to pay the very most.” But now there are dozens upon dozens of other card companies. (conspiracy alert: Are all card companies owned by Hallmark? Is Hallmark itself owned by an alien race?)

If price fixing is rampant among card companies, how do we seek redress during these no-government-regulation times? Boycott and then risk alienating motherly affection? Perhaps the only solution is to create our own cards and hope that our mothers still think we are 10 years old.

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Only two Moons left

Yesterday was one of those days that are so common in Elk Rapids this time of year. The air was fresh and cool, finches tended their nests, flags furled, ducks tipped. And last night, there was a full Moon.

Perhaps you have already seen the Elk Rapids Players production of Moon Over Buffalo (MOB). I just did and it was magical. Immediately upon entering our historic Town Hall, I was immersed in the delightful world of professional theater. What a fascinating local company we have here. The Players work as a team, one that refashions itself for every production. A few examples:

  • Craig Babiarz, who starred in Barefoot in the Park, mans  the theater lighting.
  • Karen Haspas, who directed Barefoot in the Park, leads as the spirited Charlotte.
  • Roxanne Lutey, who was radiant onstage for Barefoot, directs Moon Over Buffalo.
  • Tim George, who played Felix in The Odd Couple, was taking tickets with wife Barb.
  • Rob Ford transformed from Oscar in The Odd Couple, then to phone repairman in Barefoot and now to Richard in MOB.
  • Ron Schmidt, flamboyant in Barefoot, returns as the emotional volcano – George/Cyrano/Eliot.

And many, many other Players, including June Knapp, Michael Smith, Linda Pillsbury, Brett Baldwin, Hayley Schmidt, Chris Lutey, Marge Baldwin, Steve Bagdon and Ginny Hamilton, contributed to MOB success – some as veterans, some rookies – but all with an obvious passion for legitimate theater and incredible drive. Bravo!

Yes, there are only two Moons left – tonight at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Be sure to attend. And as a very special Mothers Day treat, the Players are hosting a Sunday pre-show dinner at 1 p.m. It’s possible that Ron Schmidt will sing at dinner if you ask him.

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Streak on!

RotaryShowPoster2011The Rotary Variety Show is Fri & Sat, May 13, 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the ERHS Auditorium. Tickets are $10.

One of the club’s major fundraisers, this entertaining event contributed more than $60,000 last year to projects throughout the community and beyond.

Prior to the show, the Elk Rapids Lions Club will host a special chicken dinner, prepared by popular local chef Charlie Dodge. Dinner will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, in the high school cafeteria (across from the auditorium).

Cost for the dinner is $10, which includes chicken, side dishes, dessert, beverage and more. All proceeds from the Lions Dinner will go to support Cherryland Middle School’s International Baccalaureate Program.  (E.R. Schools email)

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Don Weeks remembered

I first met Don Weeks not long after I launched this blog, then The Elk Rapids Blog. He initially wrote to say how much he enjoyed reading it, and after that I would get a few comments from him on a variety of subjects. Like me, Don was interested in a wide variety of things, so my postings, his comments and our conversations were all over the map.

We did not get together often. As owner of Camelot Inn motel, he spent most of his time at his business. Once in awhile, I’d stop by the inn and talk with him across the front desk. More often than not, we’d schedule a meeting somewhere while he was out about town. The encounters were not long. Topics varied.

Don liked to write and to talk about writing. Occasionally he would pen a piece for my blog and other local publications. Here is an excerpt from the last one I got from him (with help from Jenna and Max).

Concert Review
         – by Don Weeks, Elk Rapids, Michigan, with help from Jenna & Max

It’s amazing how much sound can come from two guys with guitars, using no percussion other than foot-stomping and guitar-slapping. No electronic mumbo-jumbo like beat boxes or pre-recorded back-up music was present, which is a welcome treat and a tribute to tradition.    More…

Usually we would banter across numerous postings and comments. For example, I once posted his explanation for a ‘super moon.’ On another occasion, I teased him about possibly using a $60 pencil sharpener during his late nights at the Inn. For a complete list of Don’s postings, comments as well as references to him on Elk Rapids Live, search for Don Weeks in the Search box at right.

His passing came as a complete surprise. It’s even hard to reminisce about all our most recent encounters and spot any clues or portent – even any subtleties such as not using future tense.

I’ll miss him as will many in our community. Please be sure to join with me in extending condolences and prayers to the Weeks family at Camelot Inn.

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Marker service – donations

For those in our community who have been asking how to donate in honor of Matthew Marker, here is a note I received from Sheila Marker:

Anyone that wants to donate can send it to Michelle Marker, 611 River Street. Service will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at Marker’s house.

Michelle Marker
611 River Street
Elk Rapids, MI  49629

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Athena group award

AthenaYesterday at the Hagerty Center, Athena Grand Traverse presented its 2011 Athena Award to NMC Vice President Kathleen Guy. Guy was honored for her extensive fundraising efforts and community involvement.

Our own Jan Bassett was the 2003 award winner and remains very active in the organization.

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Marker memorial service

Planning for the Marker service is still underway. Today it appears that it will take place on Saturday, May 7, 2 p.m., at the Marker homestead, corner of River and Oak Streets. But please keep watching for updates, because plans might still be in flux.

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