Chippiannock Cemetery in Rock Island has its share of impressive monuments, from the elegant resting place of the Cable family to the massive 30-ton boulder (for Edward Burrall) and the six-ton polished-granite sphere (for Dean Tyler Robinson).

But for Minda Powers-Douglas, author of the new Chippiannock Cemetery book in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series, it's the modest, handmade grave markers that mean the most.

Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and Danielle Colby-Cushman. Photo by Amy Richmond.

In the American Pickers episode "Back Breakers," Mike Wolfe is donning a bright-red T T Motor Home Club jacket with the name "Louise" embroidered on the front.

The jacket is an "ice-breaker," a term that Wolfe and picking partner Frank Fritz use to describe an item that they don't really want but buy anyway as a way to warm up a reticent person to the idea of selling their old stuff.

It's a charming bit in the History channel's first-season reality-series hit, because it shows that Wolfe and Fritz aren't afraid to look foolish or silly. And Wolfe seems to enjoy wearing that jacket.

But it also works because it teaches viewers about how picking works. We learn the nuances of scavenging, and how they get people to part with the objects they've collected over decades. "We're like psychologists for people and their stuff," Fritz said on the show.

Maynard James KeenanMaynard James Keenan -- the frontman for prog-metal gods Tool, the co-leader of A Perfect Circle, and the founder of Puscifer -- isn't the type of person you'd expect to see as the subject of a thorough documentary. He has a reputation for being reclusive, and for jealously guarding his privacy. As he says in the movie Blood Into Wine, "I'm not much of a people person."

Yet Keenan, along with his wine-making partner Eric Glomski, is at the center of that documentary, a freewheeling but thoughtful mix of wine primer, underdog story, buddy picture, and sketch comedy. The movie is fun and gently didactic, and thankfully it engages in little idolatry. (Those hoping for a Tool movie will be disappointed; although Blood Into Wine doesn't ignore Keenan's music career, it's at best a tangent.)

Keenan often looks uncomfortable in the movie, but that could be a function of once being filmed on the toilet, and of being hectored by a pair of wine-hating talk-show hosts. (More on those things later.) But he is apparently committed enough to his cause -- fostering an Arizona wine country, and combating the idea that the state's climate and terrain can't produce good grapes and wine -- that he's willing to subject himself to all these indignities, and the public spotlight.

As Keenan told me in an interview last week: "This is an important thing we're doing up here. If we're successful with what we're doing, it's going to set up a future for more families than we can number. ... If you plant vines in this valley, they're going to taste a certain way; they're going to be very specific to where they're from. It's not a business that you can move to Mexico or China. It's from here. This is the definition of sustainable and local."

Scott TurowYou might think that the art of writing fiction would have little in common with the art of practicing law. Scott Turow would beg to differ.

"They're actually very similar tasks," says Turow, the bestselling author who is also a partner at the Chicago law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. "You know, you've got to shape characters and shape witness testimony ... . You are an author in both venues to a great extent, and particularly as a prosecutor, you really do need to keep your eye on the narrative, and make sure it's compelling."

A Rock Island County candidate forum will be held Thursday, January 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Rock Island High School Little Theater. Candidates for Rock Island County sheriff, clerk, and treasurer are expected to attend, along with candidates for District 15 of the county board. Written questions will be taken from the audience. Candidates will have opening and closing statements and opportunities for rebuttal.

Part sleuths, part antiques experts, and part cultural historians, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz -- business partners in LeClaire, Iowa's Antique Archaeology -- are professional "pickers," trolling America's small towns to salvage rare collectibles and good junk from regular folks. American Pickers, a 10-part series from the History channel, follows the adventures of Mike and Frank through small towns and back roads for a glimpse at this little-known side of the antiques business. The series premieres on Monday, January 18, at 8 p.m. Central on the History channel. The debut will also be shown at the Capitol Theatre (330 West Third Street in Davenport), with doors opening at 7 p.m.

This feature collects articles published online by the following Quad Cities-area media outlets: Quad-City Times, Rock Island Argus/Moline Dispatch, River Cities' Reader, KWQC, and WQAD. It also includes items from CapitolFax.com, the Des Moines Register's "Iowa Politics Insider," and the State Journal-Register's "The Dome."

If you'd like your media outlet included in this list, contact Jeff at jeff@rcreader.com.

Recent Items from Quad Cities Media

August 8, 2013

Leslie Powell-SkinnerLeslie Powell-Skinner of Eldridge, Iowa, last month was named the winner of the American Library Association's At My Library Creative Essay contest. She won $350 for her poem "A 'Cents'ible Resource."

According to the National Center for State Courts, the salaries of state judges in Iowa and Illinois top the U.S. average. District judges in Iowa ranked 18th among states, appeal judges were 16th, and associate-high-court judges ranked 14th. Illinois appeal, district, and associate-high-court justices were all second in the nation. Iowa trial judges earned about $137,700 last year, and Illinois trial judges earned $189,949. The national average was about $135,000. For more information, visit NCSC.org.

After being swamped with opinions, and instead of making a decision this December, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy will hold a special one-day meeting in February to make a recommendation to the state legislature on whether to legalize medical marijuana. The delay is to give board members time to read 12,000 pages of written comments. The public meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17, in the auditorium of the Iowa State Historical Building, 600 East Locust Street in Des Moines. For more information, visit Iowa.gov/ibpe.

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