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2000 C E L E B R A T I N G T W E N T Y Y E A R S 2020

Welcome to PenHead.org, an oasis of uninformed analysis in a desert of educated guesswork. What is a penhead? Do you fancy yourself a writer? Enjoy a good read? Then you may already be a penhead yourself!

We are your source for original stories, the occasional interview with our favorite authors, book and play reviews, recommendations (of current and forgotten finds), and more.

Our Goal: World domination through the written word via the vast network of the internet. Until then, we'll be found risking what's left of our reputations here, at PenHead.org.

Keep in mind the internet's similar to the Jersey Turnpike - it's all about hits and traffic - so visit often, share us repeatedly and we'll do our best to keep things interesting. Who knows . . . you might even be entertained.


At the end of the 19th century, America - indeed the entire Western world - was transitioning. The old ways of doing things were being replaced by automation. The Industrial Revolution was advancing full steam ahead, and the old ways of doing things, though falling out of favor, were clung to for their familiarity. America, which was just coming out of its golden age of spiritualism, was no exception. Horse whispering, in particular, was one of these familiar tasks, getting a leg-up in popularity due to the unexplainable - therefore occult - communication between one species and another. Although horse whisperers had been around since equines were first domesticated, in an age of progress that promised to eliminate the need for working livestock, there was an ironic resurgence of curiosity in the old, familiar craft.

Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World's Smartest Horse is a painstakingly researched biography by Mim Eichler Rivas. Its thought-provoking story centers around the star of the show, Jim Key, a horse of preternatural talent. He counted, read, and gave improvisational performances to sold-out crowds at the turn-of-the-century. His owner, William "Doc" Key, was no less sensational than Jim, and his . . . more >

The Spanish Riding School has a long, rich history. Its earliest records date back to 1562 when the groundwork was laid in Vienna in the form of a Rosstummelplatz, literally an "exercise ground for horses." Before long, it was apparent working out the horses in the open air in all seasons, wasn't the best plan. So, in 1572 a wooden structure was erected to fend off the elements, and it was christened the Spanish Riding Hall. This structure served its purpose until 1735, when the school was relocated to the former site of an imperial garden under the watchful eye of Emperor Charles VI, and a new, elegant Riding Hall - complete with chandeliers - built at his direction. It marked the birth of modern dressage.

Equestrian arts have been around practically forever. The Greek historian and cavalry officer Xenophon documented them in antiquity. Recorded in the fourth century BC, his were the only documentation on the subject until the 16th century. It seems unfathomable, but other writings - and we know they existed because Xenophon referenced them - were lost to the weeds of history. So, it was not a thing of unimportance, the establishment of the Riding School, and the bolstering commitment to it of Charles . . . more >

According to The Humane Society of the United States, on average 8200 shelter animals are euthanized daily in America. That's upwards of 3 million per year. Of those killed, an estimated 2.4 million are either: healthy; sick, but treatable; or old, but otherwise adoptable. In response, no-kill shelters have exploded in popularity among people seeking an alternative to this throw-away mentality. For them, old age and lack of adoption isn't reason enough for discarding our animal neighbors like so much detritus. For these full-time, part-time and weekend warriors, there's got to be a better way.

Ellie Laks grew up in Missouri. The only daughter of Jewish Orthodox parents, she noticed at a very young age that females were not extended the same opportunities as males. It didn't seem fair to her, but a lot of things didn't seem fair about her childhood. For instance, it didn't seem fair that her brothers didn't have to do chores, but she did. It didn't seem fair that her silence was held in higher regard than her ideas. It definitely didn't seem fair that male babysitters could, without reproach, do things with her no little girl should have to endure. And It wasn't fair when she reported a man for molestation, that her father wouldn't believe her, or that her mother demanded further silence . . . more >

Author Jeff Guidry was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2000. He credits an eagle with saving his life. An Eagle Named Freedom: My True Story of a Remarkable Friendship is his personal account of that chapter in his life.

Into the Wild
On a cold, rain-swept day in December 1992, Guidry stood on the banks of the Skagit River with his partner Lynda. They were there as guests of a group called the Eagle Watchers, an organization bent on educating the public about these remarkable birds. It was Guidry's baptism into the world of the wild fliers. Having moved to the Pacific Northwest from California in 1989, his curiosity was piqued by the impressive soarers. He read everything he could get his hands on about eagles. "Pretty soon," he writes, "I was a walking eagle encyclopedia." Seeing them that day along the river solidified his obsession with the birds, and he and Lynda . . . more >


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