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Rheta Johnson: Reaching the masses

Posted 2/17/2015 in Local Columns

The New York Times comes to the mailbox in fits and starts, sometimes three papers a day, often none at all.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: How 'bout those Catamounts

Posted 2/7/2015 in National Columns

Warning: The following column contains sexist comments that might be offensive to just about everyone. I heard about the cleverest gift ever, and -- imagine this -- it was given from a man to his wife. He presented her with T-shirts for every University of Alabama football opponent for the entire past season, before the season, so she could wear their colors and root for the Tide's opponents.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: History on the big screen

Posted 1/31/2015 in National Columns

The second record album I ever owned was "In the Wind" by Peter, Paul and Mary. The first, a compilation of rock hits by various artists, including the inimitable Aretha Franklin singing "Sweet Bitter Love," one of the best songs ever sung. I still have Albums One and Two, their surfaces scratched and covers worn.

 

Rheta Johnson: This ole house

Posted 1/24/2015 in National Columns

When I was little, Stuart Hamblen's song "This Ole House" always made me unutterably sad. Despite the lively melody and cheerful beat, the homeowner was giving up, leaving his faithful hound dog to fend for itself.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Sad days for satire

Posted 1/17/2015 in National Columns

I met Herbert Block, the late, great editorial cartoonist Herblock, in Washington in the early 1980s. Maybe I should say I saw him. "Met" is too strong a word. I never even shook his hand.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Sinker cypress and causes

Posted 1/10/2015 in National

THE ATCHAFALAYA SWAMP, La. -- The bridge is closed that leads over Bayou Mercier to Greg's cypress cabin, creating a circuitous detour and an even quieter-than-usual space on the edge of the swamp. I don't mind the detour.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Books you might not have heard about

Posted 1/3/2015 in National Columns

Blockbuster books like "Wild" and "Gone Girl" get so much attention that we forget other authors are out there busting their blocks trying to sell a few stories written without murders and mayhem. I received a couple of quietly wonderful books as gifts, and I have to share the news in case The Times neglects to review them. They deserve attention, too.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Spending the holidays in a sun-filled place

Posted 12/27/2014 in National Columns

PASS CHRISTIAN -- This is Christmas week. And as Irving Berlin wrote: The orange and the palm trees sway. Cat Island looks so close across the sparkling Mississippi Sound, I could touch it with a feather duster. Live oaks remain green and disguise the season.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Rereading 'Of Mice and Men'

Posted 12/6/2014 in National Columns

FISHTRAP HOLLOW -- I walked out to the little house in the yard that stores my books. From my personal library that techie friends keep telling me is silly and superfluous, I found with no trouble my battered old copy of "Of Mice and Men." Taped and raggedy and dog-eared, it feels in my hands like life.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Made in Church Hill, not China

Posted 11/22/2014 in National Columns

If Martha Stewart were in charge of heaven, it might look something like Ocean Springs, Miss., on Peter Anderson Festival days. Traffic is blocked on the main downtown streets, the smell of boudin and barbecue is in the air, clever people hold sway. And that's a good thing.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: The gift of a permanent victory

Posted 11/15/2014 in National Columns

It's been a beautiful fall day. I am healthy, reasonably intelligent, have good friends and a roof, albeit rusty, over my head. But I burrow, downcast, on my denim couch beneath a tiger throw, wondering why I feel so terrible about two football games. Auburn

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Freedom from want

Posted 11/8/2014 in National Columns

FISHTRAP HOLLOW -- From the barn come the boards that serve as underpinning for my old house. They are brought to its high side and screwed into the battened cedar for the season. Warnings here are for a freeze.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: News doesn't come any harder

Posted 9/20/2014 in National Columns

McCLELLANVILLE, S.C. -- Highway 17 heading north from Charleston is the kind of funky, low-country trail I love. Roadside vendors sell sweetgrass baskets made in Gullah tradition, and late-summer flora is profuse and aquarium green.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: A lady in Sun studio

Posted 9/13/2014 in National Columns

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- While thousands were touring Graceland during Elvis Week last month, a retired English professor from Baton Rouge sat at legendary Sun Studio and signed copies of her quiet but fascinating book.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Don't shoot a writer

Posted 8/23/2014 in National Columns

ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. -- I've met some brave people in my life: survivors of war, politics, natural disasters -- and one heroic woman in the Mississippi Delta who lived most of her life in an iron lung. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone braver than the beautiful and elegant Anne Butler of this enchanting Louisiana river town.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Windsor and Harry Dean Stanton

Posted 8/16/2014 in National Columns

NEAR PORT GIBSON -- You can waste a lot of time trying to get others to appreciate what you see in certain people, certain places. If the beauty is less than obvious, and more of the haunting variety, it's often a fool's pastime even to try.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: A Mississippi love affair

Posted 8/9/2014 in National Columns

GREENVILLE -- The skinny teenager holds his telephone in one hand and uses the other to hitch up low-riding jeans. "I want to tell you right," he insists. I had asked directions. We are only blocks from my intended location, he knows the place, but an opportunity to strut out a phone's high-tech features should not be wasted.

 

Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Bushels of love for Peck

Posted 8/2/2014 in National Columns

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. -- Imagine if your life were highlighted in a short, moving ceremony and condensed to its essence. What would they say about you?

 

Rheta Johnson: A New York yankee in King Cotton's court

Posted 7/26/2014 in Local Columns

They say that the Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends at Vicksburg, Mississippi's, Catfish Row.

 

Rheta Johnson: You got TRBL

Posted 7/22/2014 in National Columns

Artist Christopher Wool must be really good at texting. His stencil sign paintings, according to the Guggenheim Museum, "freely stripped out punctuation, disrupted conventional spacing and removed letters."

 

 

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