Welcome to the blogsite of Craig A. Smith ~ writer, editor, journalist, arts critic, and aspiring polymath.

I am delighted to report that my biography of John O. Crosby, founder of The Santa Fe Opera, was successfully launched May 1, 2015. Published by the University of New Mexico Press, “A Vision of Voices: John Crosby and The Santa Fe Opera” has received laudable reviews both nationally and internationally. It was hailed as a “splendid biography” by London’s Opera magazine, and called “an important book about an important figure in American cultural history” by The Dallas Morning News. Click here for more information.

Curious about this site’s title? It is a tribute to the work of Paul Dehn (1912–1976) and his magnificent (maleficent?) (anti) heroine, MRS RAVOON. Click here for more shuddersome information … and there’s more to come. Stay tuned.

I also pay tribute here to one of my great fascinations:  The Fat Ladies of American sideshow fame. See below for the link to a discussion of these weighty women and their legacy , and how it continues today under different sideshow incarnations such as reality shows and cable television.

As an observer of and commentator on today’s cultural scene, I share my thoughts, cheers, fears, and hopes regularly here ~ reviews as well as comments. Your reactions and discussions are welcome.

The Shuddersome One
Our Motto:  “Life was much easier once I learned you cannot actually die of embarrassment.”
"We are the moment in the grip of a resolute belief that nobody of any moral worth is able to express himself literately at all, and this shows itself not only in modern theatre dialogue, but in the public utterances of our politicians."
~ Robertson Davies
"Of course, in our saner moments we all know that the secret of elegance is taste. Austerity is what happens when people dare not trust their taste."
~ Robertson Davies
"She had time to look about her, to watch without being watched; to select diamonds in one window and furs in another, to select shoulders and moustaches in the big hotels where she went to lunch. She had the easy freedom of obscurity and the consciousness of power. She enjoyed both. She was in no hurry."
~ Willa Cather, "Coming, Aphrodite"
in Youth and the Bright Medusa
"I’ve always found that when two girls go around together one of them’s always more attractive than the other, and it was the same with Olive and me. She was much more attractive than I was. It’s the same when you collect two boyfriends, there’s one that’s handsome and the other who’s got a face like the back of a bus. I suppose it’s nature’s way of compensating. … "
~ Margaret Powell, Below Stairs
"Have you ever noticed that the one sure way to keep someone ill, imbecile, tottering, or non compos alive is to promote them to an important, rich, or influential post (as they see it)? Make them chief of a star-flung religion, or head of the local Altar Society; put them in charge of the playground of politics, or make them chairman of the board; and they will take on new energy and cling to the world like especially greedy vampires."
~ Craig Smith
"You are working for mankind, are you? Well, the best thing you can do for mankind is to devote your best energies to making the best possible job of yourself; then you will have something to give mankind that will really rouse its attention."
Robertson Davies, “Preaching Selfishness,”
in One-Half of Robertson Davies
"(Mrs. Stanhope) had been a beauty, and even now, at fifty-five, she was a handsome woman. Her dress was always perfect; she never dressed but once in the day, and never appeared till between three and four; but when she did appear, she appeared at her best. … She well knew the great architectural secret of decorating her construction, and never descended to construct a decoration."
~ Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers