Prairie Lights

Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: ‘Montana Noir’ captures state dead on

Map

Who would have imagined that murder and mayhem could be so much fun? In “Montana Noir,” a new collection of  hardboiled short stories, 14 writers jump with evident joy into tales teeming with dead bodies, guns, strippers, booze, meth, weed and problematic stores of cash. And they take us to unexpected places, from the rough parts of Great Falls to a depressing corner of Billings Heights, from the loneliest stretches of the Hi-Line’s Highway 2 to the vomit-stained sidewalk in front of the Party Palace in Butte. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: No bad days on Montana rivers

float

I don’t imagine that my obituary will say I was an avid outdoorsman. I’m more of a midsize-city slicker who occasionally ventures into the nearer reaches of the wilds for a day or three. This weekend is supposed to be one of those occasions. By the time people are reading this I should be on a Montana river somewhere, on a short hike just off the river or passing tall tales and a flask around a campfire. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Empty charges erode trust in elections

Corey

After six months on the job, it’s about time Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton started doing his job. Among the duties of the secretary of state, surely one of the most important is to ensure that Montana elections are conducted fairly and that votes are counted accurately. A good secretary of state would do everything in his power to accomplish those goals. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Music’s power prevails in troubling times

Band

Marty Stuart, the one-time boy wonder of country music who is now one of its grand old men, did a few surprising things during his performance Friday night at ZooMontana. He told the audience he first visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield on a trip to Billings a couple of years ago, when he played the Alberta Bair Theater, and he was inspired to write a song called “Custer Wore an Arrow Shirt,” which he sang at the zoo. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: In accident’s wake, reflections on luck, fate

Subaru

Like most people who write for a living, I sometimes resort to the use of clichéd expressions. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make use of “deer in the headlights” again. The idiom will always remind me unpleasantly of the actual experience of having a deer directly in my headlights and then crumpling the hood of my car and causing both airbags to deploy. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Fleeting memories of terrible heat

Dune

I’m not usually one for looking at weather forecasts. I figure that because the weather is something you can’t change, what’s the point of reading about what it is expected to be? But it’s hard not to be interested in the near future when  you’re looking at a string of six days with temperatures of 100 or above. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Memories of Montana’s ‘best’ bookstore

Book

On Pure Wow, a website I’d never seen before, I came across a list naming the best bookstore in every state in the union. The winner in Montana? The Montana Valley Book Store in Alberton, just off I-90 about 30 miles west of Missoula. The store was described like this:

“It doesn’t get any more charming than a lovingly tended book collection, run by a mother and son, out of a turn-of-the century former butcher shop in a tiny railroad town (population: 420).” I won’t argue with that. Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Should we just scrap judicial elections?

Ed

Yellowstone County District Court Judge Russell Fagg, as you may know, has an occasional column, “Ask the Judge,” in the Billings Gazette. I wasn’t sure it would be appropriate for me to pose a question through the Gazette, so I called Fagg directly the other day and asked him why he was retiring from the bench this fall, roughly 15 months before his latest six-year term ends. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: When ‘taking responsibility’ is not enough

RMC

If Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte appears in Justice Court in Bozeman this week to enter a plea on a charge of misdemeanor assault, he won’t be able to say anything deliberately untrue without putting himself at risk of being charged with perjury. So, is there nothing we can do about the deliberate untruth his campaign released in the immediate aftermath of Gianforte’s attack on a newspaper reporter? (more…) Continue Reading →

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