Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Literary Contest Finalist

(Arizona Authors Association Logo)

I’m pleased and happy to announce that my poem, “Nature’s Child,” has been selected as a finalist in the Arizona Authors Association 2022 Literary Contest. On November 5, 2022, the final winners will be announced. Either way, my poem will be published in the 2023 Arizona Literary Magazine. I don’t usually enter contests, but I was feeling confident and decided to take a chance.

Thanks for visiting!

Dawn Pisturino

September 13, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

44 Comments »

Labor Day Storms

(Photo from Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sept. 4, 2022, Colorado River)

Labor Day weekend wasn’t quite what I expected this year. On Friday evening, a terrible storm blew through which brought high winds and rain that knocked down a cellphone tower. Some people lost both their electrical power and Internet service. Some people still do not have their Internet service restored.

After five weeks of monsoon rains, we got more rain. The desert is in bloom again, with greenery and yellow wildflowers everywhere. The wash behind our property has been inundated with flash floods over and over again, something I haven’t seen in years. Along with the plants came an invasion of green and yellow caterpillars. I have no idea where they came from, but they will metamorphose into white-lined sphinx moths. They are busy munching on the green plants. There are so many of them, you have to be careful where you walk. Thankfully, they are starting to disappear. Every time you move one of them, they squirt out a nasty green liquid. I haven’t seen an increase in moths, though, so I don’t know where they’re going.

[A variety of colors and patterns can be found on white-lined sphinx caterpillars. They range from bright yellows and greens to completely black. (Photo by Sierra Alvarez/ Cronkite News)]

Otherwise, the weather was hot and muggy, normal for Labor Day weekend. Sunday was no exception. The sky was sunny and blue with just a few fluffy white clouds. It was a perfect day, in fact. But later in the afternoon, storm clouds gathered over the mountains in the east, and you could see a curtain of rain falling on the eastern side of the valley. The wind came up suddenly, and that curtain quickly crossed the valley and hit our house.

I can’t remember ever seeing so much rain, thunder, and lightning in my life (and we’ve been hit with bad storms before). Lightning flashed all around the house — so close, I was afraid it would come through the windows. The rain ferociously pounded the ground, flooding the yard. The wind blew everything off the porch that wasn’t anchored down. Later, we found that the wind had damaged one of the posts on our covered front porch (deck) and bent metal piping on our dog’s kennel.

The power kept flickering on and off, so I finally just turned everything off. Appliances that weren’t even turned on flickered on and off, which really freaked me out. After everything had calmed down, I opened the windows and let the cool, moist air inside. Since it was near sunset, the air turned wonderful shades of yellow and pink, which were incredible.

Our power came back on right away, but down on the Colorado River, it was a different story. The storm started out with a huge sandstorm, with the wind blowing 65 mph and gusts up to 85 mph. Nearly 40,000 residents in the region lost their electrical power when 50 power poles were split in two. Then the rains came. People boating, jet skiing, and camping in the campground were hit hard. Thankfully, I haven’t heard of any fatalities.

On Monday, my husband spent a lot of time on his cellphone contacting co-workers and friends to make sure they were okay. The temperature hit 114 degrees F, the power was out, and people had no air conditioning. People were checking into motels and hotels on the other side of the river, where the power was still intact. Cooling stations were set up to help people stay cool. And, of course, people were swimming in the Colorado River, whose waters are always cold.

Electrical power was predicted to be out for 24 to 36 hours, but the power companies in the region all pooled their resources and got a lot of things up and running again within 24 hours. Some residences and businesses are still without power as I write this, however. My husband’s doctor’s office was closed on Tuesday because their power was still out. He’s having knee surgery next Monday, so he was freaking out about it.

I’m grateful for the rain, despite the damage. Maybe the drought will finally end. Of course, too much rain can be even worse!

Dawn Pisturino

September 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

21 Comments »

Rape Prevention in Arizona

(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

Rape Prevention in Arizona

by Dawn Pisturino

Abstract

Social services in Arizona are concentrated mainly in the Phoenix area.  Outlying areas may or may not have sufficient services.  In Mohave County, for example, domestic and sexual violence services are geared largely toward families and domestic violence.  Few services exist specific to rape prevention.  In fact, the nearest actual rape center is located in Flagstaff (Coconino County), which is two hours away.  Arizona does have a comprehensive Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program aimed at prevention of sexual and domestic violence, but most state-funded organizations are located in southern Arizona.  National organizations like RAINN provide general guidelines and state-by-state information.

Rape Prevention in Arizona

       The Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program in Arizona originated at the state level, conforms to CDC guidelines, and depends on funding from the CDC and other sources.

       In 2004, the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families formulated a state plan that would “increase capacity . . . to provide services, promote prevention, conduct trainings, and create public awareness activities statewide” in the area of sexual assault.  The primary goal was to “increase victim access to comprehensive crisis services” (Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, 2004).

       A statewide eight year plan was implemented through the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2010 that would “stop first time perpetration” through standardized educational curriculum in the schools, colleges, and universities; faith-based organizations; widespread media campaigns; and businesses that serve alcohol.  The mission was to achieve “the vision of a culture that supports healthy, respectful relationships through primary prevention efforts and zero tolerance of sexual violence in Arizona communities” (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2010).

       Sexual assault is a public health threat that requires preventative education and counseling before an assault occurs; interventions immediately after an incident; and long-term follow-up care, if necessary, with therapy and empowerment tools (University of Arizona, 2012).  Programs are now teaching bystander intervention skills to people who want to serve as role models and intervene when they witness a potential or actual sexual assault occurring.  The University of Arizona routinely screens students for past and recent sexual assaults and abuse so they can receive the therapy they need.  Male students learn how to evaluate their own attitudes and beliefs about male dominance and entitlement in order to gain new respect for their partners and develop more effective communication skills (University of Arizona, 2012).

       The Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program implemented in 2012 on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson is also available to other campuses, organizations, and businesses through their community outreach program.  According to their research, alcohol is implicated in 50-70% of all sexual assaults.  Drug and alcohol screenings are now done on campus to screen students for substance use problems.  Students receive information about consent and the ability/inability to consent for sexual activity while intoxicated.  Freshmen are required to take an online course in sexual assault (University of Arizona, 2012).

       Research conducted at the University of Arizona supports new laws and public policies.  Researchers have found that community-based programs are most effective.  Their public awareness programs have been so effective, Governor Douglas Ducey proclaimed April 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness Month (Governor’s Office, 2016).

       According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2016), 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men experience rape or attempted rape.  By the age of eighteen, 40% of women have suffered some sort of sexual abuse or assault.  The long-term physical and psychological trauma can be devastating.  Family Advocacy Centers have been established in some areas of Arizona to provide post-sexual assault services, including forensic evidence collection, expert witness testimony, and legal representation.  Arizona state law allows victims to receive a forensic examination by a trained examiner within 120 hours (5 days), whether or not they plan to report the incident to police (Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, 2004).  Forensic biological evidence will be kept indefinitely in unsolved felony sexual offense cases (Arizona Revised Statute 13-4221).  There are no statutes of limitations in felony sexual offense cases (Arizona Revised Statute 13-107).  The definition of rape has been expanded in order to increase the number of convictions.  Sexual assault is a class 2 felony, but if a date rape drug was used, the sentence will be increased by three years (Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1406).  The minimum sentence for a first conviction under ARS 13-1406 is 5.25 years, but a life sentence may be imposed if intentional serious physical harm was inflicted.

       Cultural competence remains an important issue when dealing with victims of sexual assault since the United States has such a diverse population “with differing ideas about domestic violence and sexual assault” (Warrier, 2005).  Trained interpreters and bilingual educational materials must be available.  Professionals must be able to understand victims’ experiences of violence within the context of their own culture.  This is particularly crucial among the Native American population.

       Kathryn Patricelli, MA (2005), educates women on what to do after an assault or rape.  First off, they should not bathe or cleanse themselves.  Secondly, they should call the police and report what happened. Third, women should go to the emergency room and ask to be examined.  A forensic examination should be performed.  If a date rape drug was used, they should have a urine toxicology screen done.  Fourth, they should go stay in a safe place or have someone stay with them.  Fifth, victims should get help from a counselor to ease the shock, pain, and guilt.  If symptoms do not ease in a reasonable amount of time, the victim should get ongoing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Method

Process

       Research was conducted online through EBSCO and Google Scholar using the keywords “rape prevention,” “rape prevention in Mohave County,” and “rape prevention in Arizona.”  Other research was done in person and by telephone.

Results

       The best online results were found in Arizona government websites and publications.  Kingman Aid to Abused People/Sarah’s House did not answer their door or telephone.  Their primary focus is on family abuse and domestic violence.  Calling the Mohave Victim Witness Program phone number connected me to a pager.  There was no local rape prevention literature available at the Mohave County Library in Kingman; their resource list was out-of-date; and the librarian could only find two young adult books in the system related to teen dating safety and sexual harassment.

Discussion

       Local programs funded by the state of Arizona must provide “education on sexual harassment, definitions of rape, teen dating violence, assertive communication, and strategies to increase reporting and awareness of sexual violence” (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2016).  Some organizations also explain consent and Arizona law.

       Most programs and organizations in Mohave County provide post-incident crisis intervention, shelter, and hotlines for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Mohave Community College has policies dealing with campus safety and sexual harassment and assault.  Mohave Mental Health and Southwest Behavioral provide long-term therapy services for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  Local hospitals have trained forensic examiners, social workers, and counselors available for immediate care after a sexual assault.  The Mohave County Health Department performs confidential testing for STDs/HIV.

       Charles P. Nemeth (2012) defines rape as sexual intercourse with another person through the use of force, without consent, and with intent.  His guidelines for dealing with an attack include trying to dissuade the attacker from completing the act; pretending to have an STD or AIDS; acting insane; yelling; struggling and fighting back; using self-defense skills; using pepper spray or mace; avoiding resistance in order to survive (Nemeth, 2012).

       The Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families (2004) describes rape “as a crime of power and control . . . motivated by aggression and hatred, not sex.”  The state of Arizona has implemented a statewide plan to address the problem through standardized educational programs, increased availability of services to victims, and expanded tools for prosecutors and police to increase the number of convictions for sexual assault.  But most comprehensive services are concentrated in the Phoenix/Tucson metropolitan areas.  More needs to be done for less populated counties like Mohave County.

References

Arizona Department of Health Services. (2016). Sexual violence prevention and education

       program. Retrieved from http://www.azrapeprevention.org.

Arizona Department of Health Services, The Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health. (2010).

       Arizona sexual violence primary prevention and education eight year program plan.

       Phoenix, AZ: State of Arizona.

Arizona Legislature. (2016). Arizona revised statutes. Retrieved from http://www.azleg.gov.

Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of

       Violence Prevention. (2016). Stop SV: A technical package to prevent sexual violence.

       Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control.

Governor’s Office. (2016). State of arizona proclamation. Phoenix, AZ: State of Arizona.

Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, Division for Women. (2004). The state

       plan on domestic & sexual violence: A guide for safety & injustice in arizona. Phoenix,

       AZ: State of Arizona.

Nemeth, C.P. (2012). Criminal law. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis.

Patricelli, K., MA. (2005, December 15). Abuse – If you have been assaulted or raped. Retrieved

       from http://www.mentalhelp.net.

RAINN. (2016). State-by-state definitions. Retrieved from http://rainn.org.

University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. (2012). Sexual

       violence prevention & education program orientation manual & annual summary. Tucson,

       AZ: University of Arizona.

Warrier, S. (2005). Culture handbook. San Francisco, CA: Family Violence Prevention Fund.   

~

Dawn Pisturino

Substantive Law 225

October 22, 2016; July 27, 2022

Copyright 2016-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.                                                      

28 Comments »

Cheap Wine, Dried Salame, and YOU

 My husband was one of those “bad boys” that girls fall in love with and parents deplore. With his black jacket and black leather cap, he looked like a Sicilian gangster out on a hit.

His pent-up anger spilled out of him in dangerous ways. For example, he mapped out a plan whereby every bank in the city of San Francisco could be robbed on the same day.

His dark nature captivated me, and soon, I was hooked for life.

We fought like cats and dogs, but oh, the fun we had! We went treasure hunting in crazy, out-of-the-way places, finding cold hard cash lying in the sand in a cave. We drove up and down the Pacific Coast Highway in his green Fiat X-19, enjoying the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair. We hiked through the redwoods on Mt. Tamalpais and watched the ocean tides under a full moon at Ocean Beach.

One day, singing at the top of his lungs, my husband suddenly stripped down and drove naked with the top of his car open along the 92 over to Half Moon Bay. Thrilled and excited, I watched for the cops, laughing all the way.

On cool, foggy nights, we slipped away into the darkness and made love on sandy beaches. On warm afternoons, we packed a picnic snack: a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco and a link of dried salame. Sun, warmth, ocean air, sand, green grass, and a hazy glow of love and darkness and friendship between us.

After our daughter was born, we included her in our crazy life. Archery at the range on King’s Mountain, afternoon tea at Agatha’s, strolling the malls, tramping through the sand at Half Moon Bay, riding the carousel at the San Francisco Zoo, flying kites down on the Marina.

Those days are over now. Our daughter is grown, and we’re not as skinny as we used to be. We live in the desert in Arizona, work, walk the dog, watch TV, and complain about the heat, wind, and dust. But whenever I go back to California, I relive those glory days of sunshine and salt air. Whenever I spot a bottle of Riunite or a link of dried salame at the grocery store, I remember foggy nights and making love in the sand.

So let me fill my plastic cup with cheap red wine, arrange slices of salame and cheese on a paper plate, and offer this toast to the man I love:

I LOVE YOU, DEAR HEART, MY LOVER, MY BEST FRIEND, MY MENTOR, MY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, MY DARK KNIGHT — AND I ALWAYS WILL.

Happy Father’s Day!

(Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2022 in the USA)

Dawn Pisturino

June 16, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

33 Comments »

Blooming Desert

(Pink blossoms on a beaver tail cactus. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

ALL PHOTOS BY DAWN PISTURINO.

We got enough rain this winter for the cactus to blossom. It truly is a lovely sight when the desert is in bloom.

(Rose-colored blossom on a prickly pear cactus. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

But those cactus needles are nothing to mess with! They hurt!

(Creosote bush in bloom. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

Creosote bushes are indigenous desert plants with deep roots and waxy green leaves which help them to retain moisture. They mostly stay green year round. But, in the spring, they burst forth with lovely yellow flowers that brighten up the landscape. On the downside, these yellow flowers mark the start of allergy season. Nothing lasts long in the desert, however, so we enjoy them while we can. Achoo!

Have a lovely day, wherever you are!

Dawn Pisturino

May 3, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

16 Comments »

Local Natural Gas Distribution Systems

(Photo: Unisource Energy Services)

If you’ve ever wondered where your natural gas comes from and how it gets to your house or business, here’s an example of how a local natural gas distribution system works. Regulations and construction requirements may differ from state to state.

Case Study: Local Natural Gas Distribution in Kingman, Arizona

Unisource Energy Services (UES) in Kingman, Arizona receives natural gas from the Transwestern Pipeline, which originates in Texas.  The steel transmission pipeline is 30 inches in diameter and operates at pressures from 200 to 1500 psi.  The pressure is reduced to 60 psi at UNS regulator stations and then reduced again to 0.25 psi before it enters the service lines that connect to home appliances (Unisource Energy Services, 2019; Energy Transfer, 2020).

In Arizona, there are four compressor stations along the Transwestern Pipeline at Klagetoh, Leupp, Flagstaff, and Seligman.  The compressors were built by USA Compression (Energy Transfer, 2020; USA Compression, 2020).

“Natural gas is compressed for transmission to minimize the size and cost of the pipe required to transport it” (Busby, 2017, p. 49).  Friction inside the pipe reduces the pressure and flow rate.  The gas is re-compressed at compressor stations in order to boost the pressure in the line.  Compressor stations are generally found every 50 to 100 miles along a pipeline.  They are a crucial part of the transport system that keeps the natural gas flowing through the pipe at the right pressure and flow rate.  Air is mixed in with the gas to lower emissions from the compressor stations (Busby, 2017, p. 49, 51).

Reciprocating compressors use high compression ratios but have limited capacities.  They are driven by internal combustion natural gas engines (Busby, 2017, p. 49).

Centrifugal compressors use lower compression ratios but have high capacities.  They rotate at 4,000 to 7,000 rpm and are driven by natural gas turbines.  They are energy efficient and cost less to install and use (Busby, 2017, p. 49-50).

The Transwestern Pipeline has an interconnect point at Kingman, Arizona, at legal description 21 N, 16 W, in Section 19.  There is a measuring station there that measures the amount of gas delivered to the Kingman interconnect (Energy Transfer, 2020).

Transwestern utilizes all types of meters in its measuring stations: orifice meters to measure gas received or delivered at an interconnect; turbine meters or ultrasonic meters to measure displaced gas; and coriolus meters, all according to the AGA Gas Measurement Manual (Energy Transfer, 2020).

“Metering of gas flow is an important function of pipeline gas operations” (Busby, 2017, p. 51) because customers along the line pay for the amount of natural gas they receive.  Meters must be accurate in order to ensure accurate and reliable billing (Busby, 2017, p. 49).

Many natural gas companies handle seasonal demand by storing natural gas in underground facilities or storing it as liquefied natural gas (LNG).  “Peak shaving is one of the most common domestic uses for LNG today” (ADI Analytics, 2015).  When seasonal demand (usually in the winter) requires a bigger load of natural gas, the “LNG is regasified and sent to the distribution pipelines” (Maverick Engineering, 2016).

Natural gas supplies can also be augmented with synthetic natural gas (SNG) during seasonal demand.  SNG is actually propane-air or liquefied petroleum gas air (LP-air) which “is created by combining vaporized LPG with compressed air” (Transtech Energy, 2020).  During seasonal demand, peak shaving facilities inject SNG into the natural gas distribution system to augment the real natural gas in order to meet increased demand (Transtech Energy, 2020).

Another way to increase the natural gas supply during peak demand is line packing.  This requires installing oversized pipes in transmission lines, which is incredibly expensive, and not always worth the cost (INGAA Foundation, 1996).

Unisource Energy Services has no storage facilities so it must plan ahead and estimate how much natural gas it will need to meet the winter peak demand.  Then it must contract with a reliable natural gas supplier, schedule the deliveries, and submit its Gas Supply Plan to the Arizona Corporation Commission.  This arrangement is called an asset management agreement (AMA) (American Gas Association, 2019; Arizona Corporation Commission, 2017).

As local natural gas distribution companies grow, they must install new lines to accommodate new customers.  The state of Arizona requires that all excavations be reported to the state at least 2 days before the actual trenching.  All utility lines must be discovered and clearly marked.  Only manual digging can be used within 24 inches of marked lines (Arizona 811, 2020).  These requirements were put in place for safety reasons, to prevent damage to buildings and injuries to humans.

Joint trench requirements can differ from city to city, county to county, and state to state. But a typical safe guideline is as follows: a trench at least 36 inches deep and 18 inches wide; 24 inches between gas and electric lines and between natural gas and water lines; 12 inches between natural gas and communication lines; 24 inches between natural gas and sewer lines (Arizona Public Service Electric, 1995; Lane Electric Cooperative, 2020).

Unisource Energy Services is required by law to follow state and local construction requirements and trenching laws.  The company uses plastic pipes 0.5 to 8 inches in diameter and coated steel pipes 0.75 to 16 inches in diameter (Unisource Energy Services, 2019).  Like all natural gas companies, company engineers must consider line pressures, the length of the line, and estimated load when deciding which pipes to use.

References

ADI Analytics. (2015). A new role for small-scale and peak shaving lng infrastructure.

       Retrieved from https://www.adi-analytics.com/2015/06/03/a-new-role-for-small-scale-and-

       peak-shaving-lng-infrastructure/

American Gas Association. (2019). LDC supply portfolio management during the 2018-2019

       winter heating season. Retrieved from

Arizona 811. (2020). Proper planning. Retrieved from https://www.arizona811.com.

Arizona Corporation Commission. (2017). Winter preparedness. Retrieved from

https://www.azcc.gov/docs/default-source/utilities-files/gas/winter-preparedness-2017/uns-

       gas-2017-winter-prepardness.pdf?sfvrsn=daa79b6f_2.

Arizona Public Service Electric. (1995). Trenching requirements. Retrieved from

https://www.aps.com/en/About/Construction-and-Power-Line-Siting/Construction-Services.

Busby, R.L. (Ed.). (1999). Natural Gas in Nontechnical Language. Tulsa, OK: PennWell.

Energy Transfer. (2020). Natural gas. Retrieved from

https://www.energytransfer.com/natural-gas.

INGAA Foundation. (1996). The use of liquefied natural gas for peaking service. Retrieved from

https://www.ingaa.org/File.aspx?id=21698.

Lane Electric Cooperative. (2020). Typical trench detail. Retrieved from

Maverick Engineering. (2016). Oil & gas: LNG: Peak shaving facilities. Retrieved from

https://www.maveng.com/index.php/business-streams/oil-gas/lng/peak-shaving-facilities.

Transtech Energy. (2020). SNG peak shaving system design & implementation. Retrieved from

https://www.transtechenergy.com/peak-shaving-systems.

Unisource Energy Services. (2019). Construction services. Retrieved from

USA Compression. (2020). Gas compression. Retrieved from

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 19, 2020; April 18, 2022

Copyright 2020-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

Children’s Rebus: Who Ate the Cactus?

(Photo by Pixabay)

What is a rebus? According to Meriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of rebus

“a representation of words or syllables by pictures of objects or by symbols whose names resemble the intended words or syllables in sound; also a riddle made up of such pictures or symbols.”

Highlights for Children is a children’s magazine which includes a rebus in nearly every issue.

WHO ATE THE CACTUS?

by Dawn Pisturino

       👦🏾 and 👧 are visiting a 🌵 garden in Arizona.  The 🌵🌵 bloom 🌹🌹, 💐, and 🌺 in the spring.

       The 💐 are pretty.  But something is wrong.  The 🌵🌵 are full of holes.  👦🏾 sees big 🦷🦷 marks along the sides.

       “Who ate the 🌵 ?” 👦🏾 asks.

       “A big red 🐦,” 👧 says.

       “Nah, 🐦🐦 don’t have 🦷🦷.”

       “A slinky green 🦎,” 👧 says.

       “Nope, 🦎🦎 are too small.”

       “How about a 🦈?” 👧 says, laughing.

       Suddenly, two long gray ears pop up from the center of the 🌵 patch.  A huge🐰 leaps out and runs away.

       “Wait!  There goes your answer!” 👧 chuckles.

       👦🏾 agrees.

Dawn Pisturino

October 17, 2012; April 5, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

14 Comments »

Technicolor, VistaVision, and the Widescreen Visual Experience

ATTENTION! SPOILER ALERT!

Not only did John Ford film the 1956 movie, The Searchers, in brilliant Technicolor, but he filmed it in VistaVision, providing the audience with an enhanced widescreen visual experience.

http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/vistavision.htm

Movies made in VistaVision were intended to be viewed in theaters with large screens, both in height and width. VistaVision technology created an “optical reduction from a large negative image to the standard release print image . . . [that improved] the front and side seat viewing” (American WideScreen Museum) in widescreen formats.

John Ford’s spectacular landscape shots of Monument Valley (cinematographer Winton C. Hoch) were perfect for both Technicolor and widescreen viewing. Here are some examples:

In this wide angle long shot, the audience sees the renegade Comanches attacking the search party from two sides and chasing them through the valley. The landscape is open and wide, giving the impression of an unlimited environment with no place to hide. Will the search party survive this attack?

In this long shot, the searchers forge ahead with the search for the lost child, Debbie, in spite of a desolate desert landscape, storms, and few provisions. It is a dramatic scene which highlights the grim determination of the men involved.

In the final long shot, John Wayne walks away, after reuniting Debbie with her adopted brother, in order to avoid being arrested for murder. He is framed in black, indicating that this is the end of the story, and he will probably never return. He is a loner who got his revenge, found personal redemption, and saved his family. He is the hero of the story— but he is also a broken man who does not fit into civilized society. He has not necessarily overcome his bitterness and racism. He merely decided that saving one of the last members of his family was more important than killing her.

If John Ford’s intention was to highlight spectacular landscapes and provide the audience with an incredible widescreen experience, Technicolor and VistaVision were the right film stock and technology to use.

But if it was his intention to tell a dramatic and tension-filled story, he might have done better to use black and white film stock. The bright colors and wide angle screen shots detract from the story. It is easy to get caught up in the visual spectacle and miss what’s happening in the story. Barsam and Monahan describe The Searchers as “a psychological western that is concerned less with the traditional western’s struggle between good and evil than with the lead character’s struggle against personal demons” (Barsam and Monahan 216). They conclude that the movie “might have been even more powerful shot in black and white instead of color.  Doing so might have produced a visual mood, as in film noir, that complemented the darkness at the heart of the movie’s narrative” (Barsam and Monahan 216).

John Ford was not striving for accuracy and authenticity in The Searchers, and the use of color highlights the movie’s many flaws. Viewers in the 1950s were not as familiar with the Southwest as they are today. In 2017, John Ford could not get away with filming a western in Monument Valley (which is located in Northern Arizona and Utah), and slapping on an intertitle identifying the location as Texas. The viewers would not accept it. Neither would they accept a white actor with gray or hazel eyes masquerading as a full-blooded Comanche wearing all-too-bright red and yellow war paint. The women in Scar’s tribe of renegade Comanches are attired in traditional Navajo clothing – including John Wayne’s lost niece, Debbie (Natalie Wood). Today’s Navajos watch movies and would eagerly point out this historical inaccuracy. (Monument Valley is Navajo country, and it is obvious from the movie that Ford employed local natives to masquerade as Comanches. As part of my job, I worked with members of the Navajo, Hopi, and Apache tribes. I found the inaccuracies in The Searchers to be jarring, even though I first saw the movie on TV many years ago as a child.) Black and white film might have minimized the obvious flaws.

Barsam, Richard, and Dave Monahan. Looking at Movies, 5th ed. New York: Norton, 2016.

Ford, John, Dir. The Searchers. Perf. John Wayne. Warner Bros., 1956.

Ryder, Loren L. “The Story of VistaVision.” The American WideScreen Museum. 2006.

       <http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/vistavision.htm.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

January 1, 2018

Copyright 2018-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

11 Comments »

Feeding the Rabbits

(Wild Rabbits – Photo by Dawn Pisturino)

No matter how hot or cold it is outside, our adopted wildlife demand to be fed. And when my daughter visits, she regresses back to her childhood, delighting in spoiling the bunny rabbits. She generally arrives with grocery bags full of carrots and lettuce. The bunnies love it. And, once word gets out, we usually end up with twice as many rabbits as usual. The bunnies are very trusting and will hop right up to you, eager for their meal. And when we don’t get out to feed them at the usual time, they start gathering before the front porch and stand there like little statues until we bring out the food. They truly are delightful to watch!

Dawn Pisturino

February 6, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Coyote Spirit

In Navajo culture, Coyote is an “ancient deity” — essential to maintaining the order, balance, and harmony of the world. He is the creative force that created the world and provided the first humans with the basic essentials of food, plants, medicine, animals, fire, and light. As a multi-dimensional character, he is both good and evil; human and god; unpredictable and ambivalent — traveling easily between the human, animal, and sacred worlds.

Coyote is the embodiment of human consciousness and the reservoir for all knowledge. As the original sacred Being, he initiated chaos and death, disrupted the positioning of the stars, and acted to ensure the survival of the human race.

As the trickster, his adventures test the boundaries of the cosmic order, reaffirm the harmony of the world, and expand the possibilities for human interventions and activities in the world. His characteristics of egoism, greed, excessive sexual lust, gluttony, rudeness, interference, and unrestrained curiosity, playfulness, and restlessness mirror his human counterparts. He is intelligent, perceptive, adaptable, flexible, and cunning, all characteristics necessary for survival. Coyote trickster stories are told to children and adults alike to impart important moral lessons.

When the Navajo depended on hunting, Coyote was the powerful, positive impetus that brought success in war, hunting, and running. But when agriculture became the main means of subsistence, Coyote became an evil force that prowled around in the darkness of night, destroying crops and livestock.

Coyoteway is an ancient healing ceremony that is sometimes performed by Shamans to heal illness. While Coyote is capable of healing disease, he is also the one who sends disease when the Coyote People (coyotes, foxes, and wolves) are displeased.

The most frightening entities in Navajo culture are the Skinwalkers — witches who pray to Coyote, shapeshift into coyotes, and enchant people by throwing coyote skins over them. In this regard, Coyote is considered a negative and evil entity. On the other hand, Coyote sends helpful messages to humans through dreams, omens, and signs. His malleable nature allows him to align himself with both good and evil forces.

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The Coyote and the Giant

“Once a giant was terrorizing the land, and eating people, especially small children. Coyote convinced the giant that if he allowed Coyote to break his leg and then heal it by spitting on it, he would be able to run as fast as Coyote. However, this was one of Coyote’s tricks, and the giant thereafter found it much more difficult to outrun anything, even small children.” ( from Coyote Stories of the Navajo People, 1974)

In this story, Coyote uses his tricks to help humans and becomes a hero.

According to Coyote storytellers in the Navajo tribe, Coyote stories can only be told during the winter, from October to February.

Coyote Superstition

A coyote traveling in any direction but north that crosses your path can be a good omen. However, many Navajos believe that ANY coyote crossing your path means trouble ahead. Beware of the trickster!

Thanks for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 24, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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