The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Author: Dennis Page 1 of 129

Beaux Arts at 75 and Shared Lives, Distant Places at OKC MOA

For Uncovering Oklahoma, I visited with Becky Weintz at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to check out two of the museum’s latest exhibitions for their 75 anniversary.

“Beaux Arts at 75” celebrates the interconnected history of the Museum’s Beaux Arts collection and the Beaux Arts Ball, an annual fundraiser organized by the Beaux Arts Society. The Beaux Arts Collection is comprised of 36 eclectic works, 21 of which will be featured in “Beaux Arts at 75.” An additional 7 works are on view in the Museum’s permanent collection galleries. The remaining 8 works will be on view beginning Feb. 20, 2021 as part of a new exhibition “Moving Vision: Op and Kinetic Art from the Sixties and Seventies.”

Featuring photographs given in honor of the Museum’s 75th anniversary, “Shared Lives, Distant Places” highlights contemporary photographers who employ different photography styles—documentary, photojournalism and street photography—to capture the global human experience, offering alternative ways of seeing and understanding the people, places and events that shape the world in which we live. The exhibition provides a glimpse into the everyday lives of people, conflicts and historical events around the world at various moments in time, and explores the working process of six contemporary photographers. The exhibition features works by renowned photographers Donna Ferrato, Peter Turnley, Kristin Capp, Alen MacWeeney, Gary Mark Smith, and Robert von Sternberg.

The Museum is currently operating with limited capacity and is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. Learn more at https://www.okcmoa.com


Thank you to my supporters on Patreon for their continued support to keep Uncovering Oklahoma alive! Supporters get awesome rewards, like early access to my episodes, as well as content from my other endeavors. Big thanks to my superstar supporters: Revolve Productions and the Keller-Kenton Family. Join today!

Healthy Living Series

I got something different to share with you today. I was commissioned by Therapy in Motion and the Norman YMCA to do a series of instructional videos to help people live healthier lives at home. The first video premiered on Saturday with the rest scheduled to be released over time.

In the introduction episode, Cindy Merrick and Justin Noel discuss how the idea for the series came about and what you can expect in future episodes. Topics include posture, healthy eating habits, stretching, core stability, strength training overview, simplifying self-care, better balance, basic yoga, and meditation.

In the first episode that premiered alongside the introduction, Cindy Merrick, Founder of Therapy in Motion, talks about the secret of a healthy body. Spoiler: It’s your posture.

Stay tuned for more episodes! Be sure to leave a comment on the Norman YMCA YouTube channel on what you think so far and what you want to see in the future. Depending on well these are received and budgets, we’ll make a second volume.

I hope you learn something helpful with this series! 😀

One of the views from Beavers Bend Brewery

The Problematic Lyre

Peyton was warned the lyre would empower her emotions.


“I need to try a different approach!” Peyton shouted in frustration.

The lyre did come with a warning that it would empower her emotions. She thought the inventor meant it figuratively and not literally. The golden lyre’s ouroboros body of a dragon eating its tail should’ve warned her this was no ordinary instrument. She tried to play a calming song, but the wind’s angry whips made it impossible for her to string together any music.

She retreated inside her tiny cabin in the middle of the forest outside Hochatown.

“That’ll teach me for playing a song about my breakup on a magical lyre,” Peyton mumbled, trying to make a joke out of her predicament.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and let her mind drift to happy thoughts of cute baby animals and silly memes as she played a peaceful tune. The wind softened its pounding on the wooden cabin until it came to a complete rest with the conclusion of the song. 

Peyton lifted her eyes open to the sight of the lyre’s inventor standing before her. Peyton cussed, nearly dropping the instrument.

“What did you give me, Modva?” Peyton demand. “Are you like an actual alien or something? I thought you were in a costume when I met you. And how did you even get in here and find me?”

Peyton assumed Modva was a human in her late 20s just like herself and that the light purple skin was cosmetic. She met Modva outside a small used bookstore earlier that afternoon in town. She didn’t give the inventor’s appearance second thought even though she didn’t know of any book character who wore a long, white lab coat with black spandex leggings and a black sweater. Two hair sticks tied up Modva’s black hair with rubies encapsulated on the ends, which complemented her red sneakers.

“First, as previously instructed, I gifted you with the Winds of Emotion Lyre to help you process your feelings,” Modva calmly and factually stated. “Second, you would technically classify me as an alien based on your definition of being born on another planet. Third, I have tracking installed on all of my inventions to follow up with people. Finally, your door was unlocked.”

Peyton stood in silence for a moment as she processed what she’d learned. She marched up to the inventor and thrust the lyre in her arms.

“I don’t know what your endgame is, but whatever it is, but I don’t want any part of it,” Peyton huffed as she opened the front door.

“All I was hoping was for you to learn that the journey itself was all that mattered,” she explained as she respectfully left the cabin.

“I don’t need some dangerous magically lyre for that,” Peyton scoffed before shutting the door. 

Modva sighed. “Let’s get it started again.”

Modva stepped off the porch’s steps and walked down a trail to a free-standing wooden white door with a red frame. She pressed down on the black handle and pushed open the door. Through the door contained another time and place where the sun was out in a small town. The door had a view of Peyton enjoying the view and beers from Beavers Bend Brewery – before Modva gifted her the lyre outside the bookshop.

Modva adjusted her lab coat. “I need to try a different approach.”


This week’s short story introduces Modva, a new end-timer! As touched in the story, Modva’s journey throughout time and space involves her helping people with fantastical inventions that reshape people’s reality.

The story came about from a writing challenge where authors had a list of words, sentence blocks, defining features, and a word count limit of 800. The Defining Features were, “End the story the way you start it. i.e. use a cyclical structure” and “an ouroboros is present somewhere in the story.” The Sentence Blocks were, “Let’s get it started again” and “The journey itself was all that mattered,” which I used all of them. I used two of the four words from the word list, “Cyclical, Doc, Wind, and Music.”

The location was influenced by a visit to the town last year and this article my friend Heide Brandes wrote for NonDoc.

Profile: Stacy Eads

Expediting decision-making processes during stressful times with the OODA Loop

Written by me for the Oklahoma Venture Forum.

Before becoming an International Business Coach, Stacy Eads had been the CEO of a Norman technology company for over a decade when she fell in love with the book, Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.

“I grew Levant 600% of its size while I was a CEO, and I started to figure out that maybe that’s where my true personal niche lies and that I wanted an opportunity to maybe break away, become a coach, and be able to help more businesses than just be an employee of one company in particular,” Stacy Eads said.

For Eads’ presentation for December’s OVF power lunch, she will teach a tool that helps expedite decision-making processes during stressful times, especially with all of the pandemic’s pivots. The OODA Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, has helped her clientele make better designs during moments of fight or flight.

“Whenever they have a year that’s like 2020 again,” Eads explained, “or all of the things that have been happening with COVID-19, they have a tool that they can go back to and say, ‘I know how to calm down. I know how to look at the facts. I know how to orient myself to those facts. Make a decision, act and start my loop again, so that I have a fast, quick decision-making tool that gives me confidence in my business to proceed.’”

Eads said one of the things she loves about the tool is that the first step is to make sure that you observe that you’re observing facts only. She explained that when people are in a crisis mode, their emotions are at play or there is competing information, and they’re unsure which way to go.

“We don’t want our emotions, we don’t want our opinions or what we think is going to happen, but we just want to observe the facts that are around us,” Eads said. “What do we know? And what do we not know? And that initial pinpoint of the exercise is one of the things that I think is the most fruitful.”

Stacy Eads will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, December 9, 2020. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about OODA, ask your questions, and network with entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. As an Oklahoma City business coach and somebody who travels among North America helping CEOs, Eads is excited about having the opportunity to speak to the Oklahoma Venture Forum.

“Many of them might’ve even heard of the OODA loop before, but maybe they have not put it into the perspective of how to use the OODA loop within the year 2020, and within the type of anxiety that CEOs are having these days,” Eads said. “The types of pivots that they’re making during this pandemic. So I’m excited to take an old concept that’s been around for decades and maybe breathe in some new life into what the year 2020 has to offer.”

Missing Stars scene

Missing Stars

While driving her through the countryside to visit her parents for the holidays, Jacqui realizes there are no stars in the sky.


The lights from the car Jacqui rented barely pierced through the Britain countryside. Delays plagued her flight from the states, and she hadn’t planned on driving at midnight. Regret began to set up a room in her mind for not booking a hotel room for the night, but her parents were eager to see her for the holidays visit, and a free bed is a free bed. While she was exhausted, she knew being in the middle of nowhere shouldn’t be as dark as it was that night. She looked up at the sky.

There were no stars.

The sky was pitch black like someone covered it up. Not even the moon was visible.

“This is some crazy Doctor Who level weirdness,” Jacqui commented.

Jacqui was no stranger to the British sci-fi time-traveling series. Her social media account would reveal photos of her cosplaying as characters from the TV show, usually as Martha Jones, as she bore a similar resemblance. However, she never remotely considered an out of this world experience happening to her.

She reached for her phone stationed in the central dashboard to make sure she didn’t take a wrong turn when a voice from the backseat whispered. “Did you realize the stars are gone, too?”

Jacqui slammed on the breaks. She snapped her head to the backseat where a ghostly being with a human skull shrouded in a crystalline, black-draped hoodie. It waved their four skeletal hands hello. Jacqui screamed and reached for the car door handle.

“Oh, the stars are missing, but I’m what freaks you out?” the being snarked. 

Jacqui was halfway out of the car when the snakiness of the being’s tone made her mind say, “hold up…” She decided to reply. “Okay, then, who are you, and what are you doing here?”

“My name is Slayer, and after visiting a parade, I decided to visit a time and place on this planet randomly,” they casually explained as they floated through the car and outside. Slayer looked up at the sky. “From what I know about Earth, there should most definitely be stars here.”

Jacqui stepped out of the car and studied the sky alongside the floating, leg-less being in sympathetic concern. “Yeah, there should be stars here.”

“The stars still exist, though,” Slayer added. “I popped off this planet and checked, but in this time, at this place, they are not visible.”

Jacqui reflected on her sci-fi knowledge. “Could there be some sort of device blocking them from our view?”

“That is a possibility,” Slayed reaffirmed in a monotone. With one hand, they reached through their chest and pulled out a black tablet device through their robe. Slayer tapped around on the screen. “I’m showing a device not from this planet nearby.”

Jacqui grabbed her phone and keys from inside the car. “Let’s go check it out then.”

Slayer took the lead, with Jacqui following behind using her phone’s flashlight. They walked up a short hill before stopping in front of a straw scarecrow dressed in jeans and a button-up red flannel shirt.

“This is it,” Slayer softly spoke.

“That’s a scarecrow,” Jacqui quipped.

Using all four of his arms, Slayer stripped off the shirt and straw from the scarecrow’s chest. Inside was a silver metal box with three black switches and a maxed-out gauge.

“What is that?” Jacqui asked.

“I’m not quite sure,” Slayer mumbled as he reached for the switches. “Let’s kill this machine.”

Slayer flicked all three switches down. The gauge spun down, and the stars and moon flickered back to life, illuminating the countryside. 

Jacqui cheered. “And let there be light!”

From further up the hill, an exclamation of pain screeched through the night. With the sky back, Jacqui was able to see a destroyed house further up the hill. The ground rumbled, and the cry got closer, revealing a black six-legged spider the size of a pickup truck with the head of a bison. Steam sizzled off its body like the light was burning it. It grabbed the device inside the scarecrow with one of its two harry tentacle arms while knocking Jacqui away with the other. The arm passed through Slayer, who was unfazed by the attack.

The creature flipped the switches, causing the stars to fade out. The beast was nearly invisible with the lack of light, making the device it held appear as if it was floating. The creature hissed and scurried away.

Slayer floated over to Jacqui and helped her up.

“What was that?” Jacqui forced herself not to scream.

“I do not know,” Slayer answered with a hint of excitement. “We should kill it.”

“Or stop it at least. It looks like any sort of light hurts it. You think a car’s headlights will work?”

“It would stand to reason.”

“Then let’s go.”

Jacqui ran down the hill, with Slayer floating beside her. Jacqui jumped in the driver’s seat while Slayer slipped through the back. The car roared to life with the lights on their brightest setting. Slayer directed Jacqui where to drive, using the tablet to track the extraterrestrial device.

A minute later, down a gravel road, the lights illuminated another demolished house. The creature emerged from the wreckage, hissing at the car. It flung a corpse at the vehicle, which Jacqui narrowly avoided. She spun the car back at the creature, aiming the lights at it. The lights melted away its body, and it retreated down the hill.

“It’s working,” Slayer praised.

“Yeah, but it went off the road, and I can’t get to it.”

“I can fix that.”

Slayer pulled out a shimmering purple box the size of a tennis ball from their chest and attached it to the car’s ceiling. Dozens of veins of purple light wires erupted from the box, expanding in every direction throughout the vehicle before sinking inside. 

“What did you do?” Jacqui screamed.

“Modified your car to fly,” Slayer calmly explained. 

Jacqui could feel the car lift up from the ground. “Woah.”

“Go!”

She slammed on the gas, and the car flew down the hill. In seconds, the creature was in their sights. She pressed forward, shining more light on the beast until it collapsed from its legs melting. The creature dropped its sky blackening device, causing the stars to return upon impact with the ground. Jacqui kept the car still on the creature as it melted away into a massive pool of black goo.

Slayer floated out of the car and inspected the goo. Jacqui joined.

“Is it dead?” she questioned.

“Yes,” Slayer affirmed.

Slayer returned to the car, pulled out the transformation box, returning the vehicle to normal.

“Well, that was an adventure,” Jacqui declared.

“Indeed it was,” Slayer admitted. “You should get to wherever you were going. I imagine they’ll be here soon enough to clean up this mess.”

“Who’s they?”

From above, a blinding white light blasted down on them. Jacqui felt like a criminal caught in the spotlight. 

Slayer slipped down through the ground. “It doesn’t matter. You’ll forget all of this soon enough.”

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “It’s midnight, and your headlights barely pierce through the darkness settled on the road in front of you. Shaking away your exhaustion, you begin to panic as you realize you’re lost. As you reach for your phone, a voice from the back seat whispers, “Did you realize the stars are gone, too?”

Story Artwork by Chen Kang at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

Discover more stories following Slayer via the character tag.

Have a safe holiday travel!

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