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QCA Today: October 7, 2015 PDF Print E-mail
QCA Today
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 06:20

This feature collects articles published online by the following Quad Cities-area media outlets: Quad-City TimesRock Island Argus/Moline DispatchRiver Cities’ Reader, KWQC, and WQAD. It also includes items from and the state-politics sections of the Des Moines Register and the State Journal-Register.

If you'd like your media outlet included in this list, contact Jeff at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Recent Items from Quad Cities Media

Making a Killing: Ballet Quad Cities Premieres "Murder Mystery at the Ballet," October 9 through 17 at the Scottish Rite Cathedral PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 01 October 2015 06:00

Murder Mystery at the Ballet, cover photo by Joseph S. MaciejkoWith a foreboding Beethoven composition lending an incongruously somber air to the proceedings, Ballet Quad Cities’ ensemble is rehearsing. The brightly lit studio space finds the 10 company members engaged in all manner of movement during these five minutes of Ludwig van: two male dancers tussling in the foreground; another male skulking in the background; a petite female gliding amongst her fellow dancers and voicelessly addressing one with an accusatory glare.

A quartet of ensemble members collectively lunges and thrusts while, on the other side of the studio, a young woman makes seductive overtures toward one of her scene partners, and, eventually, nearly everyone lines up to gracefully pass a fist-sized, invisible prop from one dancer to another. That’s when choreographer Courtney Lyon comes up to me and, regarding the unseen object, whispers, “That’s a bottle of poison.”

Given that many of the company’s recent fall productions have found guest performer Domingo Rubio casually killing dancers in his role as Dracula, the appearance (or, at this moment, non-appearance) of a potential murder weapon in a Ballet Quad Cities endeavor shouldn’t raise anyone’s eyebrows. What might, however, is the degree of difficulty involved in the company’s 2015-16 season-opener Murder Mystery at the Ballet – a world premiere in which, as of that September 21 rehearsal, even its chief creator doesn’t know whodunit.

Enter the Reader’s 2015 Short-Fiction Contest: Spooky Stories! October 19 Deadline! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 24 September 2015 09:14

Our 2015 short-fiction contest features 15 creepy prompts, and the deadline for entries is October 19.

We’ll publish winners and favorites in the October 29 issue of the River Cities’ Reader – just in time for Halloween. Stories don’t need to be scary, but ... ’tis the season.

The rules:

A) Entries, including titles, must be 250 words or fewer – not counting the passage required in Rule G. We recommend being careful or leaving some breathing room.

B) Entries must be typed.

C) Entries must include the author’s name, mailing address, and daytime phone number.

D) Entries must be previously unpublished.

E) Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, October 19, 2015. We will accept submissions by e-mail ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with “Fiction Contest” as the subject line); mail (532 W. 3rd St., Davenport IA 52801, with “Fiction Contest” on the envelope); and fax (563-323-3101). Please do not request confirmation of receipt.

F) People may submit as many as five entries, but no more than one for any given prompt.

G) All stories must include one of the 15 passages below. Outside of using a given passage within the story, no fidelity or relationship to the source is required.

From Wasteland to Treasure: Nahant Marsh Marks 15 Years as a Nature Preserve PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 17 September 2015 05:35

An aerial view of Nahant Marsh. Photo by Connor Woollums.

Even a brief visit to Davenport’s Nahant Marsh will show something unusual: a wetland habitat nestled in an area that includes an interstate highway, a railroad, and various agricultural and industrial uses. You’ll likely see plants and animals that you won’t find anywhere else in the Quad Cities area, just a few minutes’ drive from the Rockingham Road exit of Interstate 280 in the southwestern part of the city.

“We know it’s the largest urban wetland between St. Paul and St. Louis” along the Mississippi River, said Executive Director Brian Ritter. “We think it’s one of the largest urban wetlands in the United States.”

Yet getting a fuller sense of the marsh requires patience. As Nahant Marsh Board President Tim Murphy noted: “The marsh does not usually reveal itself easily but will come to those that sit and take the time to observe.”

In an e-mail, he said that “I really like the beaver complex in the northern part of Nahant proper. ... I never cease to be amazed at how beavers have created a substantial pond on ground that has almost no flow of water. I am very curious to see how this pond will be colonized and used by plants and other animals, as well. This seems to me to be an example of how nature works ... largely outside of human influence. ...

“There are also other fish-free shallow-water excavations that hopefully will become areas that hold and nurture a variety of amphibians, including newts and salamanders. The number of little critters that can be found in the marsh proper is really amazing. ... There are almost always some ducks, geese, herons, or other waterfowl using the marsh. To see a muskrat, beaver, or otter takes quite a bit more luck ... .”

Julie Malake – a photographer, artist, and member of the Friends of Nahant Marsh – offered several examples of repeated, leisurely visits showing different facets of the wetland: “A particularly magical change has been the return of the sandhill cranes,” she wrote. “During the first years of going to the marsh [starting in 2006], I saw no cranes. In the spring of 2011, I first saw a crane at Nahant Marsh, and since then, cranes have been regular visitors. This year, sandhill cranes have been seen frequently, and I’ve been able to observe them often.”

She continued by calling Nahant Marsh “a wild, ever-changing garden full of once-widespread native plants, and [it] is extremely popular with many kinds of birds. ... What they [visitors] might see will vary widely from day to day, even moment to moment. I would also recommend to those who do visit to take their time and be still a while. Chances are good that the marsh’s residents will forget your presence and simply go about their business. There’s always much more going on there than is readily apparent.”

The marsh will be celebrating its 15th anniversary as a nature preserve and education center on October 20 with a 5 to 8 p.m. family event featuring “river rat” Kenny Salwey, musicians Ellis Kell and Kendra Swanson, food, and (hopefully) a classic Nahant Sunset. The celebration will provide a taste of what Malake called “a piece of heaven on earth. I love to walk outdoors before dawn, going down to the water’s edge to sit quietly as all the colors of sunrise slowly paint their way down the bluff and across the water. I have been going there for almost 10 years now, and no two days have ever been the same. In every season, in every weather, in all the different times, there have been images of beauty, and sometimes surprises.”

Now That the Magic Has Gone: “Damned City,” Quad Cities Author Matt Hentrich’s Debut Novel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 10 September 2015 11:48

In Matthew Hentrich’s novel Damned City, the magic has gone – literally.

The self-published debut novel from the Quad Cities author takes place in a world in which everybody has magical skills – but its hook is that the residents of Spectra have been abruptly robbed of those abilities. There are additional complications for the city: Its highest elected official has been found dead, and it is enveloped in a spell that makes time pass much more slowly than in the rest of the world – making daylight span days. Spectra’s residents are certain that an attack on the city is imminent, and they need to figure out how to defend themselves with their magic gone.

The premise, Hentrich said in a recent phone interview, was a reversal of the typical fantasy what-if of characters having magic. “The one twist I thought I could put on the concept was to go the opposite direction and say, ‘What if you had people who had magic, and now it’s been removed from them?’”

That narrative starting point is plenty clever, and Hentrich is also strong in his pacing, in his management of story rhythm with multiple main characters, and especially in the way he melds disparate elements into a compelling hybrid. His world shares plenty with ours (from coffee and booze to representative government) while still being foreign. (In one nice oddball touch, a city with no need for mechanical transportation finds itself using bears for travel when magic disappears.) The plot brings together fantasy and mystery, and Hentrich trusts readers enough to leave out expository background that would bog down his quick-moving story; everything is familiar enough to grease the path.

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