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Morning drive on St. Onge Road, Whitewood, submitted by Jaci Armstrong.

06 20 history

ON JUNE 20, 1921, U.S. Rep. Alice Mary Robertson, R-Okla., became the first woman to preside over a session of the House of Representatives.

In 1782, Congress approved the Great Seal of the United States, featuring the emblem of the bald eagle.

In 1837, Queen Victoria acceded to the British throne following the death of her uncle, King William IV.

In 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.

In 1893, a jury in New Bedford, Massachusetts, found Lizzie Borden not guilty of the ax murders of her father and stepmother.

In 1943, race-related rioting erupted in Detroit; federal troops were sent in two days later to quell the violence that resulted in more than 30 deaths.

In 1967, boxer Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted and was sentenced to five years in prison. (Ali's conviction was ultimately overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.)

In 1975, Steven Spielberg's shark thriller "Jaws," starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss (not to mention a mechanical shark nicknamed "Bruce") was released by Universal Pictures.

In 1977, the first oil began flowing through the recently completed Trans-Alaska Pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.

In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld a New York City law making it illegal for private clubs with more than 400 members to exclude women and minorities.

In 1990, South African black nationalist Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie, arrived in New York City for a ticker-tape parade in their honor as they began an eight-city U.S. tour.

In 1994, former airman Dean Allen Mellberg went on a shooting rampage at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington, killing four people and wounding 22 others before being killed by a military police sharpshooter.

In 2001, Houston resident Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family bathtub, then called police. (Yates was later convicted of murder, but had her conviction overturned; she was acquitted by reason of insanity in a retrial.)

Hollywood can't say goodbye to 'Toy Story'

NEW YORK — Like "Casablanca," ''Toy Story 3" concluded with the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

It's an ending that has very possibly produced an ocean's worth of tears, not to mention countless awkward moments for children mildly embarrassed by their parents suddenly turning into waterfalls. "Um, dad, it's a movie about a toy cowboy."

But the sentimental crescendo of the "Toy Story" trilogy was real. The films' young boy, the one whose name was emblazed on the bottom of Woody's foot, had grown up. Andy was going to college. The fate most feared by the toys — boxed up in the attic — was miraculously avoided when Andy gifted his beloved playthings to a young girl named Bonnie.

As he drove off, after one last imaginative romp in the yard, Woody watched Andy go like a wistful father. After three brilliant and heartfelt parenting parables that ruminated on aging, loss and impermanence alongside the pitfalls of arcade claw machines and toddler daycare centers, this was the final goodbye. Goodbye to Andy, yes, but goodbye to childhood. "So long, partner," said Woody.

Big gulp.

The finale was immediately received as a classic Hollywood ending. "The chances of topping this one are infinitesimal," New York magazine wrote at the time. "Toy Story 3" won the Oscar for best animated film. Everyone, including the film's makers and cast, believed they had neatly, perfectly wrapped up their trilogy.

"From the inside, 'Toy Story 3' was definitely the end of it," said Tim Allen, the voice of Buzz Lightyear. "That one scene was it."

But, of course, that wasn't it. "Toy Story" has returned, nine years later, with "Toy Story 4." In today's movie business, nothing is safe from ongoing sequelizing, not even a story about the very necessity of letting go and making peace with the passage of time.

That movie franchises have been extended well beyond their natural cycle is nothing new. But "Toy Story 4" may mark when Hollywood officially gave up saying goodbye.

It's probably a fool's errand to wish for prudence from a corporate-made, multi-billion dollar property that was, from the outset, designed to sell as many toys as it jerked tears. "Toy Story 4," which opens in theaters Friday, is widely expected to make around $150 million over the weekend and gross close to $1 billion over its worldwide run, just like "Toy Story 3" did.

And, for some, Woody is again coming to rescue. The Walt Disney Co. release will break a spell of underperforming sequels . The box office has recently slumped about 7% below last year, partly due to a string of disappointing returns for badly reviewed (or just plain bad) sequels: "Dark Phoenix," ''The Secret Life of Pets 2," ''Men in Black: International."

It would be an unfair Buzz kill to call "Toy Story 4" simply a blatant cash grab. Quality control is too high at Pixar to give us a "Toy Story" sequel on par with, say, "Jaws: The Revenge," or something that we collectively pretend never existed, like "Godfather 3." ''Toy Story 4" is quite good, critics say. Though many reviewers have questioned its necessity, the film rates 99% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Directed by veteran Pixar animator and first-time feature filmmaker Josh Cooley, "Toy Story 4" finds Woody and the gang now settled in with Bonnie. But Woody slips into another existential crisis of self-worth when Bonnie favors other toys, especially one she quickly crafted herself out of a spork and some kindergarten trash. She names him Forky, a neurotic character voiced by Tony Hale. When Forky goes missing on a family road trip, the resulting adventure forces Woody to confront the possibility of not only post-Andy life, but post-kid life.

Sequels have always been a somewhat touchy subject for Pixar. Since its groundbreaking first feature, 1995's "Toy Story" (the first full-length computer generated animated movie), Pixar has, for much of its existence, eschewed repetition for originality. In his 2014 book "Creativity, Inc." , Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull called quality "the best business plan" and suggested sequels can lead to "creative bankruptcy."

Lately, things have been changing at Pixar, and not just because of a recent preponderance of sequels including "Finding Dory," ''Cars 3" and "Incredibles 2." Former Pixar chief John Lasseter, who directed the first two "Toy Story" films, exited the company last year after acknowledging "missteps" in his behavior with female staff members. In 2017, Rashida Jones departed "Toy Story 4," which she was helping to write, and said then that the company had "a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice."

And given Pixar's unique stature as one of Hollywood's few remaining factories of fresh storytelling capable of reaching mass audiences (its last original, "Coco," grossed more than $800 million), some are rooting for "Toy Story 4" to — really this time — be Woody's last go-around. Not because they won't watch another one, but because they will. In a movie world of endless "Star Wars" episodes and even actors who can be digitally resurrected, closure — the kind preached in "Toy Story 3" — is increasingly a hard-to-come-by commodity. Not everything is meant to keep going for infinity and beyond.

Simon honored by Poetry Society of America

NEW YORK — Paul Simon doesn't care much for requests, but he might ask you to sing along.

The singer-songwriter's latest honor came from the Poetry Society of America, which celebrated him Tuesday during a dinner benefit at the New York Botanical Garden.

Simon and longtime poetry editor Alice Quinn were the guests of honor, their careers both lasting for decades and making them revered names among lovers of words.

Quinn has championed Sharon Olds, Edward Hirsch and countless other poets as an adjunct professor at Columbia University, the poetry editor at The New Yorker (from 1987 to 2007) and an editor at Alfred A. Knopf. She is stepping down as executive editor of the poetry society, where she has served since 2001. She was introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner and U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith, who praised her contributions to "the inner life across this country and beyond."

Quinn noted that Simon had been a supporter of the poetry society and remembered seeing him in the offices of Knopf, which published a book of his lyrics. Simon was then introduced by former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins, who noted that Simon was among the first rock songwriters to use the word "poetry" in a song ("I Am a Rock") and to name poets, reading lines about Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson from Simon's "A Dangling Conversation."

Simon, meanwhile, was alternately playful and contrarian. He chastised Collins for misremembering a discussion they had about writing and wondered about the meaning of awards when the planet was "disintegrating." He joked about making room for his poetry society award among his "shelves and shelves" of prizes, right next to a special trophy for being the "best-dressed dad."

His acceptance came in three parts: He read work by two poets who died this year, Les Murray and W.S. Merwin; chatted briefly on stage with Collins about writing; and, to everyone's obvious pleasure, performed a few songs.

Simon, 77, has retired from touring and his voice sounded strained at first. But he grew stronger, and even danced a little, as he ran through such favorites as "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" and "The Boxer," asking the audience to join in on the chorus of "Lie-La-Lie" as a small backing group added touches of jazz and Cajun music.

Ryan Hermens, Journal staff 

Arielle Zionts