A WHITE, WHITE DAY: one of two films opening at ryder

A White, White Day was shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best International Feature Film and it is opening Friday in our virtual theater. A psychological thriller from Iceland, A White, White Day will surprise you at every turn.


We are also opening the non-fiction film, Capital in the 21st Century. Based on the international bestseller by rock-star economist Thomas Piketty (which sold over three million copies worldwide and landed Piketty on Time Magazine‘s list of most influential people), this entertaining documentary is an accessible journey through wealth and power, a film that breaks the popular assumption that the accumulation of capital runs hand in hand with social progress. Picketty’s book has been acclaimed as “the most important economics book of the year — and maybe the decade.” – Paul Krugman, The New York Times


Don’t forget: We are also screening The Booksellers, The Wild Goose Lake and Slay The Dragon.

Now might be as good a time as any to dust off that short story that you started when you were an undergrad and get back to work on it. Here’s a way to fill those endless, empty hours with an activity that is might be a bit more rewarding than those reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond that you’ve been watching. It costs nothing to enter and if your story is selected, you’ll be showered in riches beyond your wildest dreams. READ MORE

The April/May issue is on the virtual newsstand. Read The Ryder Thanks , as always, for supporting local journalism.

An offer you can’t refuse from caveat emptor

Antiquarian booksellers have personalities and knowledge bases that are as broad and deep as the material they handle. ​ Their job requires the disparate skills of a scholar, a detective, and a businessperson. (The same can be said about the skills of the film programmers at The Ryder, minus the “businessperson” part.) D.W. Young’s new film burrows deep inside the fascinating world of booksellers, a community populated by an lovable assortment of obsessives, intellects, oddballs and dreamers. The Booksellers opens in The Ryder’s virtual theater on Friday. READ MORE ABOUT THE BOOKSELLERS

Our amazing local bookstore, Caveat Emptor, is offering Ryder filmgoers a deal that’s hard to pass up. They will match any purchase dollar-for-dollar with store credit. So if you buy $20 worth of books, you will get $20 in store credit towards a future purchase. Just show them your receipt from your ticket to The Booksellers.

And while we’re on the subject of books and bookstores, we’re accepting submissions for our annual short story issue.

Now might be as good a time as any to dust off that short story that you started when you were an undergrad and get back to work on it. Here’s a way to fill those endless, empty hours with an activity that is might be a bit more rewarding than those reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond that you’ve been watching. It costs nothing to enter and if your story is selected, you’ll be showered in riches beyond your wildest dreams. READ MORE

Do you like books? ‘The Booksellers’ opens on friday

Antiquarian booksellers have personalities and knowledge bases that are as broad and deep as the material they handle. ​ Their job requires the disparate skills of a scholar, a detective, and a businessperson. The same can be said about the skills of the film programmers at The Ryder, minus the “businessperson” part. D.W. Young’s new film burrows deep inside the fascinating world of booksellers, a community populated by an lovable assortment of obsessives, intellects, oddballs and dreamers. The Booksellers opens in The Ryder’s virtual theater on Friday. READ MORE ABOUT THE BOOKSELLERS

And while we’re on the subject of books, we’re accepting submissions for our annual short story issue.

Think about it . Dust off that short story that you started when you were an undergrad and get back to work on it. Here’s a way to fill those endless, empty hours with an activity that is might be a bit more rewarding than those reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond that you’ve been watching. It costs nothing to enter and if your story is selected, you’ll be showered in riches beyond your wildest dreams. READ MORE


Nicholas Geyrhalter’s acclaimed documentary, Earth, opens on Wednesday for a one week run. Earth was filmed at seven places where humans are transforming the planet on a grand scale: Entire mountains being moved in California, a tunnel being sliced through rock at the Brenner Pass, an open-cast mine in Hungary, the world-famous Carrara marble quarry in Italy, a copper mine in Spain, the salt mine used to store radioactive waste in Wolfenbüttel and a Northern Canadian tar sands site where the destruction of indigenous lands threatens local communities.

Filmmaker Nicholas Geyrhalter contrasts these large scale projects with interviews with the individuals helping to realize them to highlight our fraught struggles for and against the planet.

 FILM OF THE WEEK! “Spectacular, even awe-inspiring.”
—Jonathan Romney, Film Comment



let’s write a short story!

Now might be as good a time as any to dust off that short story you started when you were an undergrad. We are reading submissions from Bloomington writers for our annual summer fiction issue. What do we mean by “Bloomington writers”? We’re not really sure. A Bloomington address would help. But if you attended IU and no longer live here, that would be fine as well. Maybe you passed through town on your way to Evansville? Any connection will do, no matter how tangential.

Please put “Fiction Submission” in the subject line and send your story to editor@theryder.com

A few guidelines….

1 – Double-spaced in Word. Do not indent to indicate a new paragraph; a hard return will suffice.

2 – Word limit: 5,000 words. This is not negotiable. The 5001st word will not be considered, no matter how amazing it may be.

3 – Wear a mask and wash your hands for 20 seconds under hot water.

Send your story right away. He who hesitates is … how does that expression go? No matter. We look forward to reading your work!

Never quarantine the Past

Two new podcasts – Unspooled and 80s All Over – revisit classic American films

By Brian Stout

Rather than trafficking in nostalgia, these podcasts are taking a fresh look at the AFI Top 100 Films list and 1980s cinema.

Is Citizen Kane still the best movie ever made? The current AFI Top 100 Movies List has it in the top slot. One exciting recent podcast series is taking a critical view of the somewhat sacred ranking, and another is taking a comprehensive look at the 1980s.

On Unspooled, film critic Amy Nicholson and comedian/actor Paul Scheer take on the list one film at a time. The pairing works. Nicholson is a highly respected writer and critic with extensive film history knowledge and a modern approach, which Scheer is a successful comedian/actor and lifelong film fan who has admittedly not seen several films on the list. They provide a potent combination of historical context, production notes, bad reviews, and 21st century insights, culminating in a decision about whether or not the film should remain on the list. The podcast has also spawned a lively Facebook group.

Starting with Citizen Kane and randomly roaming from film to film after that, Nicholson and Scheer have discussed half of the list at this point, and their spirited conversations are available through the usual podcast outlets.

A cursory look at the list reveals a collection of mostly white, mostly male, mostly great films. It’s also very heavy on 1970s films. And white guys fighting The System. And westerns. And yes, that makes sense to a degree. It was a remarkable decade and sheer numbers suggests a male-heavy list. Also, what’s more American than a western?

But where are the women? Where are the directors of color? Horror movies? Science fiction? LGBTQ films? It’s easy to be highly critical of the selections and to point to their lack of diversity, and to say the list is an outcome of a number of factors, and that only adds relevance to the argument for re-evaluation. The list has already been updated once, and the past 30 years in particular have been marked by an increase in the diversity of voices, so it’s ripe for revision again. This century has produced many formidable potential additions, such as There Will Be Blood, Moonlight, Children of Men, Brokeback Mountain, Zero Dark Thirty, and Mad Max Fury Road to name only a few. And I’d still like to see A League of Their Own make the cut. And that there are zero films directed by women and that Spike Lee and M. Night Shyamalan are the only directors of color on the list simply must be addressed.

That’s where Amy and Paul come in.

Here are notes on three of the most intriguing episodes.

Taxi Driver. The pair discuss the film’s similarities to The Searchers and whether or not Travis is a poser. The characters Robert DeNiro and John Wayne play in their respective films are driven to save young girls who may or may not want saving. They also both harbor tenuous feelings about minorities. Scorsese is an avowed fan of John Ford’s classic, so the connection makes sense on the surface. Even more interestingly, though, is the argument about Travis’ background. On the surface, the film suggests that Travis is a veteran whose psychopathy is likely a result of the war. He wears Army gear, but never mentions a specific branch of service. His knowledge of weapons appears to suggest a civilian. He goes for the .44 Magnum, same as Dirty Harry. But his mental illness may be the most important piece to unraveling his motivation. Nicholson has made no bones about her dislike for Scorsese’s work, and she provides some interesting insights and counterpoints on the master filmmaker and one of his most widely heralded films.

A cursory look at the AFI Top 100 list reveals a collection of mostly white, mostly male, mostly great films.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The most intriguing aspect of this film is that both Nicholson’s and Scheer’s sympathies were with Nurse Ratched, who is ranked number five on the AFI Best Villains list. One of the high points of the “fight the system” movies of the 1970s, the film focuses on Jack Nicholson’s character’s efforts to disrupt the treatment within an inpatient mental health facility. A closer look shows Nicholson’s R.P. McMurphy’s supposedly heroic efforts to help the other patients undermining some sincere attempts to treat and care for people who need care. The movie goes out of its way to show that fighting the system results in a person being silenced. They decided that the film belongs on the list, but this is a great example of how even great films have problematic elements.

A Clockwork Orange. Stanley Kubrick’s controversial classic launched a spirited debate about how the horrific actions of the lead character are framed in the film and how their portrayal makes the audience complicit and may be a way of Kubrick freeing himself from judgement for making his despicable lead character look cool. One of the most intriguing points that is made is that much of the violence Alex commits is seen at a distance, but the violence inflicted upon him is seen up close and personal, manipulating the audience to feel empathy for a criminal. The first blood drawn in the film is Alex’s. He calls himself the humble narrator throughout, and the voices of the victims are silenced throughout the film. It is an intriguing set of observations on a film that’s held court as an esteemed cult classic for decades. 

The 80s All Over podcast is an even more ambitious undertaking: revisiting all the major releases of the 1980s month by month. As children of the 1980s and noted film writers, Drew McWeeny and Scott Weinberg bring a combination of personal experience and spirited banter to all of it, covering the hidden gems, the blockbusters, and the schlock and trash that graced the screens throughout the decade. It’s a good idea to listen with a notes app open, regardless of preferences, because no one has seen all of these films except McWeeny and Weinberg, and you’ll wind up with a list of titles to track down, and likely have an itch to revisit some of your own favorites from the era.

The best place to start is the summer of 1984 episodes, where they reminisce about watching The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Sixteen Candles, among others. They dive into their stories of how these movies affected them then and now, and analyze and they’re not afraid to call out some of the gauche characterizations of marginalized groups and the casual attitude about victimization of women in these films that are often remembered as essentially harmless.

Both McWeeny and Weinberg praise The Karate Kid for its ending, in light of how many contemporary films draw out endings and run times. Ghostbusters is canon for virtually every child of the 1980s, and they relay some very interesting details about the movie’s troubled production. They also talk about how Temple of Doom and Gremlins pushed the limits of the PG rating and provided a flashpoint for creating the PG-13 rating.

Sixteen Candles is a classic in many ways, but it also features an appalling characterization of a foreign exchange student and a plot point where the popular, cool crush object provides the geeky boy with keys to a Rolls Royce and his drunk girlfriend. These unsettling elements are at odds with an essentially sweet story about a teenage girl coming of age. 

Lists are easy targets. They rarely satisfy and mostly spark conversations about what’s missing. Rather than just nitpicking choices, Unspooled remains fixed upon evaluating the somewhat sacred AFI Top 100 List, attempting to address the redundancies to make room for more modern choices. 80s All Over is a more personal account, a decade-long slice of two lifetimes of moviegoing. Both offer dynamic, challenging, and entertaining evaluations of American film, which really is best understood through the convergence of personal taste and cinema history.

Two new films open

We are screening 6 first-run feature films this weekend in our new virtual cinema. Keep an eye on us — don’t let us turn into a virtual multiplex. This is the final week for ONCE WERE BROTHERS and THE WHISTLERS. CORPUS CHRISTI and THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES are both on our calendar for another week. And then there are two new films . . .

The Wild Goose Lake

A gangster on the run — and seeking redemption — meets a woman who’ll risk everything to gain her own freedom, in this noir crime thriller set in the nooks and crannies of densely populated Wuhan in Central China. READ MORE


Every ten years, new county lines are drawn across the USA that determine the fate of the country for the next decade. The rousing Slay the Dragon convincingly makes the argument that this practice has been used for partisan, and possibly illegal, gains since nearly its inception. “The most important political film of the year, and it may prove to be one of the key political films of the decade.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety READ MORE

50% of the ticket proceeds will eventually make their way back to us. Thanks, as always, for supporting independent film and local cinemas.

Stay safe and be smart.

Ryder magazine: april 2020

The Ryder <peter@theryder.com>AttachmentsThu, Apr 9, 12:31 AM (1 day ago)

The new issue of The Ryder is on the stands–well, not literally. This is our first issue to be published electronically. We considered publishing a print edition, but where would we distribute it?  Our April issue contains a number of entertaining and informative stories, but before we tell you about them, we have to talk about something else, something that makes us cringe when we think about it.
The Ryder has always been distributed free, with our expenses covered (hopefully) by advertising. There is no paid advertising in this issue.  Yes, when you flip through the magazine you will see ads, for not-for-profits hosting virtual fundraisers and local restaurants offering curbside service. Those ads are published at no cost to the advertiser, for all of the obvious reasons. Our biggest expense each month is our printing bill. But while there is no printing bill this month, we do have other expenses.
And so if you discover one or two articles that you like and if you are  in a position to make a donation, it will be gratefully appreciated. If you are not so inclined, you might instead consider purchasing a Ryder Film Series gift card. With either, you’ll be helping to support local, independent journalism.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff….In the 1990s, Linda Poteat was a waitress at the Irish Lion. Today, she is a policy director at the United Nations, battling pandemics around the world. Contributing editor Jason Vest conducts an enlightening interview. “If you’re a right-wing person in a state like South Carolina,” Linda explains, “seeing an elite Hollywood liberal telling people to stay at home and wash their hands isn’t going to work.”

For three years in the early 90s, Bart Everson was one half of J&B on the Rocks, a weekly television show broadcast on BCAT that was years ahead of its time. Bart explains, “We began production with no expectation of success, with hardly a thought for the future. We slapped a camera on a tripod and sat under a bare bulb in a rough-hewn basement, our rambling dialog punctuated by liberal doses of liquor. Each week we recorded a new installment; each week our faces and voices appeared in living rooms around the city, through the miracle (or curse) of cable television. We quickly found the limits of legality, and soon after that we found an audience. The camera came off the tripod, and we escaped from the basement, as the scope of our production and our circle of friends expanded. The streets of Bloomington became our set, and the people of the city became our cast. There was no script, and no budget either.”  Twenty-five years ago, on April 18th, 1995, Rox became the first television show anywhere, to be broadcast on the internet. Time magazine was all set to do a cover story and then…well, you’ll have to read the article.

The first Earth Day took place 50 years ago, on April 22nd, 1970 and Ryder contributing editor Pennfield Jensen was there. Not only was he there, but he helped to organize it. “Earth Day has become an icon for earth awareness,” Penn writes. “But Earth Day 2020 shows only too well how miserably we, as environmentalists, have failed.”
There’s more in this issue. Mason Cassady writes about Beekeeping in Poland, Charlotte Zietlow discusses the challenges of County Government, WFIU introduces a podcast about Ernie Pyle and West Coast Bureau Chief Jason Vest writes about quarantine-life in a coastal town in northern California. “I am not one to romanticize small-town life,” Jason writes. He does not. 

Earth day

Some Notes on its Origin with a View to the Future

By Pennfield Jensen

[editor’s note: Pennfield Jensen is a recovering environmentalist and until now he has been a frequent contributor to The Ryder.]

Earth Day 2020. Fifty years gone by, and the next fifty trending badly. I hate to say it, but I feel today exactly as I felt when John McConnell launched Earth Day at my conference back in 1969. Let me explain.

The venue was the first UNESCO “Man and The Environment” conference, a three-day affair, November 23-25, held at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. It was set as a  precursor to the Main Event of the same name to be held three years later in Stockholm. I call it “my” conference but that’s a stretch. The organizer was Huey Johnson, at that time the director of the Western Region of The Nature Conservancy.  I was his de facto assistant. As gofer-in-chief, my task was managing the Sargasso of minutiae any conference of that magnitude entails. For example, John McConnell.

John was not on the roster of conference speakers. He wanted to be, desperately, and badgered me whenever he could find me, which was often, begging to find him a time slot somewhere, anywhere, but the schedule had been set in stone and I had no control over it. That said, no one had any serious objection to him being there. And “there” he was, bounding around pestering anyone who would listen to his idea of an Earth Day. He found supporters, and why not? Eventually he found the ear of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, an avowed environmentalist. The very next year, 1970, Earth Day happened. San Francisco Mayor Joe Alioto sanctioned it; New York Mayor John Lindsay sanctioned it. Millions of people took to the streets around the country and around the world. A movement had gathered force. Yes!

Then something else happened. In early 1972 John came by my office. By virtue of a side trip co-founding Earth Times magazine under the tutelage of Jann Wenner and the editors at Rolling Stone, I had founded Clear Creek, “The Environmental Viewpoint.” In 1972 we were going strong, having played a significant role in getting unleaded gasoline legislation passed, and were now gearing up for the ’72 Stockholm conference.

The Creek offices were on the top floor of the old Reynolds Tobacco Building at One South Park, a seedy corner of San Francisco. These days it is one of the hippest neighborhoods in San Francisco. In those days we shared our environs with crack addicts, gang conflicts, and marginal businesses. The corner office window was graced by a bullet hole the size of a golf ball. The building had bronze Indian heads under the eaves of the roof and a large LSMFT logo in the lobby (“Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.”) We got to step on it every day. We were a team of researchers, writers and artists. An amazing watershed of bright, wonderful people.

John McConnell was ever and always the kind of person whose strength of personality and honest enthusiasm was contagious and fun. But on this day he was distraught, and he was seeking our help. Specifically, he wanted editorial backing in his dispute over the “illegal” appropriation of Earth Day by senator Nelson and his aide Denis Hayes as “their” idea. We listened sympathetically. But we had no dog in John’s fight.

As journalist-environmentalists, our goal was to raise consciousness for environmental awareness as an ethic, not just a once-a-year event, then ho-hum back to business as usual. Earth Day seemed to trivialize that larger vision and to diminish the urgency of a much-needed environmental ethos. Second, there was Denis Hayes. Harvard educated and charismatic, Denis had been hand-picked by Senator Nelson to head up Earth Day as an international operation. All apologies to John McConnell, but case closed. John had been inspired in the Sixties by a ‘great idea,’ but frankly, I did not think, nor do I today that Earth Day was any one person’s idea. Earth Day is one of those inevitable ideas, like Stonehenge and the autumn equinox; its time had come and it belonged to everybody.

Or perhaps nobody.

In Indianapolis the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day is scheduled to be held on Saturday April 25th at Military Park. An array of 122 exhibitors, a beer garden and photo ops with various corporate mascots such as Roundup-Redi Kilowatt are planned. Should be fun.  Bloomington hopes to cheer on our lonely blue marble beginning at 1 PM at Switchyard Park on Saturday April 18th.  So we’ll have at least two weekends’ worth of sudsy gaiety and ominous warnings to look forward to. I had personally hoped to print up bumper stickers that read “I [Heart] Earth Day,” and organize volunteers to stick them on the windshields of every SUV they could find (which is every other vehicle I see) until Steve Cotter, a Bloomington Earth Day organizer, put the kybosh on it by saying “great idea, Penn—until someone gets shot.” Right.

Earth Day has become an icon for ‘earth awareness.’ That’s a good thing. My problem with Earth Day 2020 is that it shows only too well how miserably we, as environmentalists, have failed. The unchecked global rapaciousness that has pushed global warming past the tipping point of no return has created an irreversible fate for “Man and His Environment.” The 2015 Paris Accord to curtail global warming by controlling greenhouse gas emissions, was signed by every UN participant save Turkey and Iran. An end-game of sorts for the initial UNESCO conference in 1972, the Accord offered hope. It still does, even though Trump pulled the U.S. out of it and China never acknowledged it. That leaves the others to set the bar while the two largest polluters on the planet party hearty in open and arrogant defiance of irrefutable truth.

The science is good. What it tells us is not. We have failed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. We have failed to curb population growth. We have set in motion the demise of ecologies world-wide. Ultimately, we face a perfect storm of impending catastrophes that will be both as unavoidable as they will be horrific. Take pollinators as a random example. Thinking bees? And the global devastation they are undergoing? Their fate pales in comparison to the vast numbers of non-industrial insects, birds, and mammals that pollinate the grasses, flowers, and fruit trees on which we depend. Think ocean ecosystems coping with increased heat, acidity, and micro plastics, the “blanching” of the great coral reefs worldwide and the myriad creatures lost thereby. And of course melting glaciers, hellish droughts, damning floods. The consequences reach far beyond a few litigious millionaires whose oceanfront villas get swept away by rising tides. Sorry, but good riddance to what shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

The contingent sad truth is that there are no viable technological solutions to global warming, overpopulation, or the loss of ecosystems. A lot of attention is paid to solar power, wind power, tide power and sustainable growth. Those alternatives may slow the march to oblivion, here and there, but they won’t stop it. I think of the rage of Australian bush fires, and of the Wuhan coronavirus that as I write is wiping away trillions of dollars of global wealth and shuttering borders around the world. I don’t see these as once-in-a-hundred-years anomalies; they are the advance guards, nasty harbingers of what’s to come.

When tens of millions of people face bitter famine, convulsive war, and imminent death, their desperation will crush all hope. I hate writing this, but it is what terrifies me the most: losing the basic humanism that, up until now, has guided mankind through all of its darkest days. What happens when we turn against each other to save ourselves?

On the nominal Earth Day 2020, April 22nd, approximately 1,000 children will be born in the United States. Around 360,000 children will be born world-wide during those 24 hours.

Looking fifty years on down the road to Earth Day, 2070, I can’t imagine what those grown-up children will think of us.

And that’s tragic because never has any species achieved such a profound understanding of this incredible world which we inhabit, and of the universe in which we play such a small and insignificant part, yet only we it seems have the ability to comprehend. The wondrous truths that have been brought to light stagger the imagination. We cannot in a lifetime begin to appreciate it all. But we should try. We should work to “see” the world as it truly is. And we should teach others to do the same, otherwise we turn the lights out on life.

–Pennfield Jensen

The Ernie Pyle Experiment!

WFIU Debuts a New 13-Part Podcast Series on Ernie Pyle

This month, WFIU Public Radio debuts a new 13-episode podcast series created by writer, producer, and actor Michael Brainard from the archives of the Ernie Pyle collection at the Lilly Library of Indiana University.

The Ernie Pyle Experiment!, chronicles Ernie Pyle’s pre-war work as a traveling columnist for the Scripps-Howard Newspaper syndicate. Ernie and his wife, Jerry, traveled America from 1935–1942, in quest of interesting stories for his column “The Hoosier Vagabond.” The Ernie Pyle Experiment! explores how it was done.

Each episode, through fact and fiction, examines the circumstances surrounding an actual Ernie Pyle column from this pre-WWII era. The podcasts are based on recently discovered wire recordings in the archives of the Smithsonian Institute that give listeners a view into the Pyles’ everyday lives on the road and what led to the creation of the column. Each episode ends with a reading of Pyle’s actual column.

The podcast series begins in the spring of 1936 with Ernie Pyle (played by Brainard) and his wife Jerry (played by actress Greta Lind) laden with the ongoing obligation of work and travel. Scripps-Howard has given Ernie a sound recording device to bring with him on his travels across America. They want to hear how he interviews people and potentially use the recordings for archival purposes, major story sources, and even radio broadcast. Ultimately, hundreds wire spools get filled with recordings of the Pyles’ everyday life together, not exactly what headquarters intended Ernie should be doing with it.

Subsequent episodes of The Ernie Pyle Experiment! follow the Pyles’ travels to Ernie’s hometown of Dana, Indiana, and other locations across the United States. The podcast also dramatizes Jerry’s real-life struggles with alcoholism and how the couple dealt with it.

The first episode of The Ernie Pyle Experiment! is now available at wfiu.org/erniepylepodcast and on other major podcasting platforms.

Here’s a snapshot of each episode.


As pressure mounts from the home office, Ernie is forced to use a voice recorder for his work in interviewing the people of America. Though he resists the boss’s ideas, he and his wife Jerry find a different use for it—recording themselves.


A quick trip to Ernie’s hometown of Dana, Indiana, to visit his folks results in a disgruntled Jerry. She has grown accustomed to living a certain way on the road that may invite judgment from an in-law or two. In the balance is Ernie. He likes the road life too, but the pull homeward proves as mysterious as a Midwest wind storm.


Ernie’s parents are enjoying Ernie and Jerry’s visit home, but his mother just can’t seem to accept what her son has become—a city-living work-a-holic. She understands he must make his own way in the world, but she would much rather he do it closer to her, in Dana, Indiana. And she is beginning to think she may be ultimately responsible for how her young boy turned out.


After putting some very fine stories through his typewriter during his visit home in Dana, Jerry prompts Ernie to turn them into a series about his hometown. She convinces him to use the recording device to see if he can muster up some stories about what the neighbors think about his mother. Sure, he knows more about his mother than all of them put together, but what could it hurt?


Ernie discovers that his father drove his car through the front plate-glass window of the Dana dry-goods store. In a quest to get to the bottom of it, he realizes he must ask the most difficult question of his father, and himself: Who is going to care for his folks in their twilight years?


In his quest to round out “the Dana series” of columns, Ernie targets his favorite aunt, Mary. In so doing, he seeks out Jerry’s help. However, Jerry may not be in the best state of mind as she has been holed up in his childhood bedroom contemplating the depths of a bourbon bottle. Not understanding how many sheets-to-the-wind Jerry has on her laundry line, Ernie insists she open the recorder on Aunt Mary.


Finally back on the road, Ernie and Jerry stop into a favorite haunt for the night. However, it is in Ohio. Ohio is home to five newspapers in the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, Ernie’s employer, and whenever he sets foot in Ohio, they harass him for stories about their cities. It is all Ernie and Jerry can do to stay incognito until they get out of Ohio. A drink and a room, that’s all they ask!


Ernie and Jerry make their way to Washington, DC, where they are headquartered, and where they keep a home. But, before they make their way home, they stop in a city park for lunch. Forgetting how much a celebrity his column has made him, Ernie gets uncomfortable when people start to recognize him. He escapes on foot, leaving Jerry with the car and a thermos filled with rum. What could go wrong?


Ernie’s first writing job was as an aviation columnist in The Washington Daily News. Amelia Earhart once said, “Not to know Ernie Pyle is to admit that you yourself are unknown in aviation.” Still believing Ernie is the one to go to for breaking news in the aviation world, Amelia drops in with some friends to await the facts of a pilot, and dear friend, reported down in the Rocky Mountains.


Though seldom out of ideas for the column, Ernie would write about anything, even if there were better reasons to write something else. Stories about himself always seem to make it into the column, here and there. And bolstering himself up as a bumbling fool is one of his favorite pastimes. So, when Ernie buys a new pair of pants with zipper that does not work, he uses the event to craft an all-time favorite column.


Ernie pays a visit to the home office for a meeting with his editor, Lee Miller. Miller, an old friend, knows about Jerry and her struggle with sobriety. He wants to make sure his investment, and friend, Ernie is not being affected by his wife’s problems. Ernie, feeling backed into a corner, looks for a way out.


Jerry, happy to be back on the road, celebrates a little bit too much. It is all Ernie can do to stabilize her so he can make it to Albany by sundown. But Jerry has her own agenda. She forces Ernie into her state of mind, and Ernie sees that the near future is going to be problematic if Jerry is to stay by his side.


It is three weeks since Ernie dropped Jerry off back at their home in Washington, DC. Jerry has been in the care of doctors, and she has sobered up and hasn’t had a drink since. When a caregiver comes by to check on her and her state of mind, Jerry circles the wagons. The “good-advice” and “wise council” are coming, and she might have something to say about that.

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