It is December 24, 1944, and as World War II rages on, the Anderson family in East Texas faces a very bleak Christmas.
With Mr. Anderson serving in the army half a world away, young Danny Anderson must try to fill his father's absence and be the man of the house. This means taking care of his mom and little sister and running the family lumber business and Quarter Horse ranch.
Danny works tirelessly, taking on extra jobs while attending school. Despite his best efforts, he can't keep up with the bills, leaving the family to sell their horses to pay their debts and keep food on the table.
The Andersons' misfortune benefits Rufus Marshall, a local man of considerable wealth. With a self-righteous attitude, he greedily buys the Andersons' remaining asset-their broodmare band.
When a severe blizzard blows into the area on Christmas Eve, it sets in motion a series of events that will change everything, bringing renewed hope to the entire Anderson family-and redemption to Rufus Marshall as well.
Thirteen-year-old foster kid Skye Nicholson has become an expert at being an angry, cold, and defensive teenager. After breaking more foster home placements than she cares to count, and committing numerous offenses, she's headed to her final resort --- juvenile detention. But after a court compromise, hope finds her through a beautiful sorrel quarter horse named Champ and the tough love of Tom and Eileen Chamber, who offer her another chance at their home at Keystone Stables. There she's introduced to a God who has the power to truly save her, no matter how much she thinks she's not worth saving.
The 20th Quarter-Annual Horse Contest is a comedy about two thirty-something men (Jim Lucas and Ron Treland) in the 80's who come together periodically to deepen their long-term friendship through the playing of a basketball game called "HORSE". They have developed their own peculiar way of playing the game, where the object of the game is superseded by the creativity of their playing styles and shot selections. It is more of a creative ritual than a competitive game. The game is continuously "interrupted" (sometimes in real time, mostly not) by Ron's parents, Jim and Ron's high school basketball coach, Jim's college basketball coach, and Jim and Ron's wives. The "interruptions" constitute the evolution of the relationships between Ron, his parents, and his wife, and between Jim, his old coaches and his wife. Ron is caught in his father's business and under the command of his father's crusty personality, whereas Jim is caught in his past high school glories and college failures. Jim's wife, Lynne, is relatively economically and emotionally stable, and this stability is both a source of strength and resentment for Jim, who is less stable in those areas. Ron's wife, Jeannette, is tired of the whole thing and wants Ron to deal with his blustery and obnoxious father and live his own life, but she is unwilling to separate from Ron as he works on his relationship with his father. Jim's high school coach serves as Jim's much valued connection to his glory days in high school and Jim's college coach serves as his hurtful reminder of his failure to sustain a college basketball career. All of these characters impinge upon the personal development of Jim and Ron in both positive and negative ways. Jim and Ron are fearful of doing what they really want to do in life. The basketball game, played out in its own peculiar way, serves not only as means of deepening the friendship between the two men but as a forum for their emotional growth and development. The 20th Quarter-Annual Horse Contest is a fast-moving, scene-shifting, dialogue-overlapping story of how two young men come to terms with their past connections to glory in sport and their current relationships with their wives and family. Though this play transcends realism through its shifting, integrated scenes, it 'plays' realistically. Shifts in time and place are integrated into a whole that 'seems' quite natural.
Images of New Orleans's historic French Quarter evoke wrought iron gates, flowers hanging from second-story porches, and age-old romance. But hidden from the romantic and joyful jubilations of Mardi Gras, the darkness of an empty alley can inspire remembrance of things past-dreams within dreams, as Edgar Allan Poe might say. "French Quarter Cantos: A Poelage" is a collection of verse from a poet who has walked down the dark alleys of New Orleans, discovering a visceral connection to the city and, ultimately, artistic inspiration. Author Genaro Jesse Perez uses powerful imagery, expressing strong emotions and memories, both bitter and sweet, in this fond ode to a beautiful and troubled city in the American south. Read about the epic inevitability of mortality in "Dolores" and "Just a Little Kiss." See through the false faces of holier-than-thou academics in "Face Dancers." And bitterness and regret rule "Award for Long Service." Poe was never afraid of the darkness; neither is Perez. Delve into the abyss of New Orleans, despite the foreboding atmosphere. See, smell, taste, and touch a bit of Creole life.
A typical story told my America's favorite storyteller, Mark Twain. Before radio and television, Twain entertained Americans in newspaper, magazines and books. He was the Will Rogers and Bob Hope pf pur parents' generation and the Jeff Foxworthy of today.
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