It is nearly impossible to talk about Anne Meara or Jerry Stiller without thinking of the other.

The comedy duo have shared a long, illustrious life as the team of “Stiller & Meara.” Yet, each has a shirtsleeve long list of accomplishments in their own right — on and off Broadway, television and movies.

Jerry-StillerStiller and Meara will be in Sedona for the Sedona International Film Festival. Meara is announcing the movie “Another Harvest Moon” in which she stars as Ella with Ernest Borgnine, Piper Laurie, Doris Roberts, Richard Schiff and Cybill Shepherd. The movie is a drama about four elderly Americans coping with life in a nursing home. They offer each other support with bickering and strong opinions, mixed with a dose of humor.

“We were like kids doing this movie. There aren’t many parts when you’re over 70,” Meara said. At 80 Meara never plans to stop working.

“When I was young I loved everything about show business. We called it theater. I loved that it’s not a nine-to-five job.”

Stiller will appear in the documentary film about the Great Depression “When the World Breaks” along with many personalities who recall what life was like living during the times of bread lines and rationing after the stock market crashed in 1929.

Meara writes and has a couple of plays. One is “After-Play” and the other is “Down the Garden Path,” which is not published yet. She and Stiller starred in “After-Play” at several theaters. Meara received the Outer Critic’s Circle John Gassner Award for Playwriting. She also co-wrote with Lila Garrett “The Other Woman,” a CBS Movie of the Week. It won a Writer’s Guild Award.

The first acting Meara did was an apprenticeship in summer stock on Long Island.

“I got to play the lead in ‘The Voice of the Turtle.’ I did three plays that year. If you did that you got to join the union. Then I could consider myself a real actor; I had an actor’s card,” Meara said.

Meara continues to act on and off Broadway, and today adds television and films to her credits, including appearances with Stiller and with her son, Ben Stiller.

“It was nepotism,” she said and laughed.

Ben Stiller is the youngest of Stiller and Meara’s two children. He enjoys a thriving acting career. Their daughter,  Amy, is also a successful actor and writer.

“She and Ben are very gifted. I also have a daughter-in-law, Christine, who’s

beautiful inside and out, and two fantastic grandchildren, Ella and Quinn,” Meara said.

It wasn’t until Meara met Stiller and married that they started working on a comedy act. When they appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” their career really took off.

“Then we could make the rent,” Meara said. A smile was almost audible over the telephone.

Stiller said his appearance in “When the World Breaks” is poignant because he remembers the time well. He was a child and the oldest of three children. His father was an unemployed cab driver in New York City.

“I remember the fights between my parents because there was no money coming in. My mom sent dad out to get work one day. He came back an hour later, dropped a quarter on the table and said, ‘Here, buy some milk,’ and he cried. I never forgot that,” Stiller said.

Stiller tells the rest of his story in the film, as does Mickey Rooney, Phyllis Diller, Buzz Aldrin and many others.

“It’s an incredibly beautiful film. It makes you think, ‘My God, did this really happen?’ This is ‘Grapes of Wrath’ in real terms,” Stiller said.

Before meeting Meara, Stiller bounced around the country looking for acting work. He acted half of the time and the other half did odd jobs — like selling hot dogs, Good Humor ice cream and mixing cement for an undertaker. It was about this time Stiller met Meara and asked her to go for coffee.

“We were married six months later. We did some improv, learned how to do shtick, and went off on our own,” he said.

Stiller is probably best known as a father in the television sitcoms “Seinfeld” [playing Frank Costanza] and “The King of Queens” [playing Arthur Spooner]. One led into the other, he said.

Stiller had the chance to be in the original and remake of the movie “Hairspray.” In 1988 he played Wilbur Turnblad. In the 2007 musical he played Mr. Pinky.

Stiller continues to perform in movies and television in addition to his one-man evening stage show.

“It’s nice standing up there,” Stiller said.

He likes to perform because he’s “desperate for applause” — not just clapping of hands, but the response Stiller gets for what he chose to do with his life, the joy and laughs he brings others.

“My life’s turned beautiful. I’ll keep working as long as I get parts,” Stiller said, echoing Meara’s statement. “Laughter is always the equalizer in my life. As long as I can perform I can live each day happy with myself.”

In February 2007, Stiller and Meara became one of only four married couples with their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They will appear together in Sedona at “A Conversation with Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara” at the Sedona Rouge Theatre, Thursday, Feb. 25, at 2:30 p.m.


After reading a book while on a road trip in early 2009, a Sedona teen decided to drastically change her life.

“I completely changed how I ate. My mom and I had already decided to get healthier so I read ‘The China Study.’ I learned a lot of Chinese people who eat a lot of vegetarian food live longer, healthier and with fewer diseases. That won me over,” Paige Morris said.

Morris hopes that eating vegetarian-style food will also help her pay for college. She is using her knowledge to earn a scholarship.

vegetarian-scholarship-2-10Beginning her new regimen was difficult because she had to determine how much protein she needed and how to obtain that from plant foods. Morris researched for her age, height and weight and found out how to combine vegetable foods for whole protein her body can use.

Morris stays away from meat and most dairy products, which is contrary to what the rest of the family eats.

“My family, they’re huge carnivores so it’s hard to eat with them. They tease me about being an herbivore,” she said. “They support me though.”

When her family is having hamburgers on the grill, Morris is eating her favorite black bean burgers and hummus made from garbanzo beans, sesame butter — tahini, garlic and olive oil, with a little salt and lemon.

“I have a list of what I can eat, what I should eliminate and what I need to avoid taped in my closet so I can check it when I get dressed,” Morris said. “It’s fun to experiment with recipes, but sometimes the house smells of garlic.”

In addition to reading “The China Study” a recent movie about cooking, “Julie & Julia,” inspired Morris to cook with more flair and color.

“Vegetables are very colorful. They aren’t just green or brown. Look at tomatoes, carrots, peppers, squashes, beans and grains. They’re full of color,” Morris said.

Morris has eaten a vegetarian diet for about 10 months. She has noticed some changes such as feeling more energetic and not so heavy. Morris has also lost about seven pounds, even though she was not overweight.

Morris is using her education about vegetarian eating and putting it to use for her college education. She is in her junior year as a home-schooled student and is taking online college classes from Grand Canyon University. Morris is trying to earn one of two $5,000 a year scholarships from the Vegetarian Resource Group.

“I have to promote vegetarianism in the community and write an essay about my success and challenges,” Morris said. “I set up a Facebook and Twitter for Sedona vegetarians. People can read about what I’m doing,” Morris said.

Morris has a booth set up at the Sedona Community Farmers Market on Airport Mesa each Sunday and has produced a flier she distributes at local restaurants and grocery stores. At the farmers market Morris will have some recipes and fliers for people and will talk about the scholarship.

She knows something is working because some people who had seen her flier asked her father if Paige Morris was his daughter.

Morris’ goal is to attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. She hopes they have a vegetarian group there but, if not, she will start one.

“I plan to continue my vegetarian lifestyle and my blogging about being a vegetarian college student,” she said.

Morris’ vision for the community is for meat eaters to be exposed to some great food, medical facts and the joy of the vegetarian lifestyle that will keep them coming back for more. She wants to share the benefits of the diet with people who may be unaware of all the many beneficial factors of a plant-based diet.

Morris needs the community’s help. Follow Sedona Vegetarians on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @SedonaVeggies or visit her Web site,

The Sedona Historical Society is hosting the next in its 2010 series of Living History presentations Wednesday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m., at the Sedona Heritage Museum.

This program will feature local geologist Wayne Ranney speaking on “What’s New in Sedona Geology.”

Ranney is a well-known geologist and author who has worn many “hats” in the American Southwest — backcountry ranger, river and trail guide, professor and geologist. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Ranney has traveled the world visiting over 75 countries as well as both poles of the Earth. He is an award-winning author who loves to share the complexities of Earth science with interested nonspecialists. His latest book is a fully updated third edition of “Sedona Through Time.” His other books include “Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau,” “Carving Grand Canyon,” and “Images: Grand Canyon.” Ranney is well known in the Verde Valley and is an engaging lecturer and storyteller who makes Earth science come alive for all who hear him.

After the program, Ranney will be available for questions and refreshments will be served. This is a free public event.

Every year, the Sedona Historical Society presents a series of Living History talks. Speakers will include descendants of pioneers, long-time residents with historical stories to share or other storytellers about history. The Sedona Historical Society also operates the Sedona Heritage Museum. The museum is located at 735 Jordan Road in Uptown Sedona and is open daily 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on Living History or the museum, call 282-7038.


Throughout life, a lot of people had to deal with a bully or two. A man in the Verde Valley can help teach a person how to bring that bully down to size.

Eric Kee teaches Brazilian Jiujitsu at his Warriors of Christ Jiujitsu Club in Cottonwood. He was introduced to the sport by the Haskell Indian Nations University Jiujitsu Club in Kansas. Brazilian Jiujitsu, or Gracie Jiujitsu, is a martial art, combat sport and a form of self-defense that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.

It promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend him or herself against a bigger, stronger assailant using leverage and proper technique. It is also a discipline of physical well-being and strength.

jiu-jitsu-2-3Kee, who holds a purple belt, opened his studio six months ago and invites anyone of any age or fitness level to visit and see if jiujitsu is right for them.

In a way jiujitsu was the answer to a lifelong problem Kee had growing up near Tuba City with two brothers, Michael and Steven, who liked to bully him every chance they got, which was every day.

“When I went to college and learned jiujitsu I gained a lot of fighting skills. When I went home I turned the tables on them,” Kee said and grinned slightly. “They didn’t know what happened the first time I took them down.”

Kee does not promote fighting. He is a man of faith and a man of peace. Learning how to fight, like Mr. Miyagi in the “Karate Kid” movies, Kee said he believes jiujitsu is for defense.

After college, Kee moved around the country with his job, and worked out at nearby jiujitsu schools. When he moved to Italy for a while he trained with Luciano Barro in Scandicci for 3½ years. Kee has studied jiujitsu since 1995, and teaching the martial art nearly the same amount of time.

He started a school at the Tuba City Church of Christ. There was no other place to train on the Navajo Reservation. He started with a few high school students then the class grew with teens who needed more from life than hanging out at home in front of the television or playing video games.

“I wanted to start a martial arts class in connection with the church and wanted to teach kids about Jesus and what he did for us, using a talent that most people didn’t even know about,” Kee said, citing an example from the Bible about Jacob who wrestled with a man until daybreak in Genesis 32:24-31. “I teach not to go looking for trouble or starting it, but how to handle it if it comes.”

He first teaches his students to walk away if possible, stay calm and think clearly. If trouble still comes, then OK, fight.

Jiujitsu was brought to Brazil in the early 1900s. Julio Gracie simplified the martial art to make it so a smaller person can control a larger person, if necessary, by hip movements and leverage.

“Gracie did to jiujitsu what Bruce lee did to kung fu. It teaches fundamentals about your body and to use your center of gravity to your advantage. It also shows you how to offset your opponent’s center of gravity to gain an advantage,” Kee said.

Using his hands to demonstrate, Kee showed how jiujitsu uses movements of the joints to disable an opponent by applying joint locks and choke holds. He also teaches his students how to fall to the ground.

“The reason is, heaven forbid, you get into a fight. About 90 percent of fights are to the ground. A bigger person wants to get you down. If you know how to fight from the ground you can turn the advantage,” Kee said. “It is one of the most practical martial arts out there.”

Jiujitsu, according to Kee, is all about grappling and pinning, similar to Greco-Roman wrestling. Anyone can learn and progress with the skills, depending on a person’s physical ability.

“Someone new we start out easy. We don’t want people to injure themselves or hurt the next day. We want them to build up at their own pace,” he said.

Jiujitsu is also a competitive sport with several opportunities to enter tournaments across the state and the country.


George Tice’s motor home brought him to Sedona in 1982, at least that’s how he said it happened.

In reality, the blue-eyed man with dazzling white hair was living in New Hampshire and wanted to get away from the long, cold winters on the East Coast. He first stopped in Prescott and parked there for a while, but didn’t like it — too cold, too much snow.

On a road trip he came over to Sedona, fell in love with the city and the scenery, went back to Prescott, got his motor home and never looked back.

atrandom-1-22Tice came here thinking he was retired and never planned on getting involved with politics. That didn’t last long. Shortly after he arrived, he started getting involved with, yes, politics and lots of other groups.

“I did put in six years on the [Sedona Fire District] fire board and four years on the City Council. I’ve been involved with the city and politics since I’ve been here,” Tice said and smiled. “Now I’m an ombudsman for the city and chairman of the COPS committee and treasurer of about seven organizations in town.”

A person standing nearby who is a friend of Tice heard him run off his list and said teasingly, “He’s probably the richest man in town being treasurer for all those organizations.”

He is finishing up a year serving on the board of the Humane Society of Sedona as well as terms on a few other organizations.

“Seems to be I just like to be involved,” Tice said and winked. “I have to be retired; I’m too busy to get a job.”

As a hobby — he does have some time free — Tice collects old things, antiques. He loves going to yard sales and to thrift shops to find the unusual, the collectible and items he can’t resist buying.

“I always find that somebody’s trash is another’s treasure. I picked up a Carnival Glass water set. It looked good and the price was right. I kept it for several years and when I decided to sell it I was very surprised. It sold for a lot more than I paid,” he said.

Before retirement, Tice was as active as he is today. Born and reared in Brooklyn, N.Y., he went into the service along with many of his classmates. When he came back he moved upstate and ran a service station. He worked with firearms in New Hampshire where he had a general store.

New Hampshire is where Tice started his involvement with politics when he helped elect Gov. Meldrim Thompson Jr. in 1973. One of Thomson’s slogans was, “Ax the Tax.” He served until 1979.

“A little after that I left there and came out here. That’s when I said I’d never be in politics again. Ha!” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my life here in Sedona. It’s a great place.”


Too often concerts do not allow a close-up view of the performers, but Sedona residents can be up close at the Chamber Music Sedona’s library series.

Thursday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. Chamber Music Sedona brings the Zimro Project to the Sedona Public Library, in the Si Birch Community Room where the audience can be close to the performers.

Chamber-Music-SedonaThe Zimro Project was founded in 2008 by clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein. It is an ensemble dedicated to incorporating Jewish art music into chamber music programs. It is inspired by the Zimro Ensemble, a group that was active almost a century ago in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“These presentations at the library are very satisfying to me because people can be close to the musicians. We’ll also give away tickets to the Sunday performance, posters, CDs and any other item we may have,” executive director Bert Harclerode said. “At the library we usually have a question-and-answer period with the musicians. The library series is intimate, educational and interactive. It’s meant to introduce people to chamber music.”

It is Chamber Music Sedona’s hope that Sedona residents, as well as many visitors, share the experience at the library with their friends and take the next step by attending concerts on a more frequent basis.

“We want them to enjoy what I call the joys of chamber music, where each musician is a soloist and people get to enjoy the cumulative work that music produces,” Harclerode said. “There’s nothing that beats live performance — nothing.”

When people think of chamber music they are not really sure what it is about, according to Harclerode.

“We try to have programs that are accessible, priced right, engaging and where people who attend have the opportunity to go on to other performances,” he said, noting that the library series is in its sixth year. “Included in the program is the goal to introduce people to national ensembles and local musicians, artists and ensembles.”

Admission to the library performance is two cans of non-perishable food or $5 per person. All proceeds go to the Sedona Community Food Bank. The cumulative amount collected over the six years has been approximately 2,000 pounds of food and about $1,000 in cash.

The series is part of Chamber Music Sedona’s community efforts. The philosophy is what a person gives — in Chamber Music Sedona’s case it is music — comes back.

“Through our community efforts we like to think Sedona is a better place to work and play,” Harclerode said. “It all boils down to one thing, our mission-driven programs. Hopefully, each time people come to a concert and see what we do, they want to come back again and again.”

Chamber Music Sedona’s mission is to preserve and foster the appreciation of chamber music in its many forms by producing world-class concerts, and by presenting and supporting community music education programs.

Upcoming presentations in the Sedona Public Library series are at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, with Thomas Sheeley on guitar; 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, with the Fry Street Quartet. Sunday, April 18, at 2 p.m. will be the Quick-Bowman Piano Recital and Wednesday, May 5, at 7 p.m. will be Tony Trischka Territory.

Chamber Music Sedona expresses thanks to its partner, Sedona Public Library and Virginia Volkman, its director.

The Zimro Project’s full concert will be held at St. John Vianney Catholic Church on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Chamber Music Sedona office, 1487 W. SR 89A, Suite 9. For more information, call 204-2415.

Charles Major has many loves in his life: his wife, Cindy, their four children, his job and rebuilding old cars.

He was born in the Verde Valley in 1979 but left in 1992 to pursue interests elsewhere. Ten years later he decided to come back to his hometown. He plans to stay this time.

“I love it here. It’s a great place to live and raise kids,” he said.

at-random-1-1Major took a quick break at West Sedona tire store where he has worked for the past four years, to talk about what he enjoys outside his job. Since he has four children and they look forward to his arrival after work, his evenings and weekends are busy with Crazy 8s, War and dominoes.

“I spend time playing games with them, mostly cards. They like to play for pennies. I always lose a little bit; my kids are pretty good,” he said with a wink and a smile.

Another of Major’s pastime loves is the cars. He has rebuilt cars since he was 16 years old when he had more time and more money to indulge his passion. Right now he’s working on a 1964 Chevrolet and a 1968 Chevy Camaro.

“I rebuild them stock but muscle some of them — give them more power. It’s a hobby of mine, but I’ve had to cut back some these days,” he said. “I showed my Camaro when I got it done, but they’re mostly for my enjoyment.”

On occasion he sells the cars he rebuilds but keeps his favorites. His greatest achievement and the car he loves the most is a black 1950 Chevrolet coupe that resides with his brother-in-law for the time being.

“I owe him some money, but I’m getting my car back,” Major said with resolve.

Major said he works on the cars for a lot of reasons. It is a challenge to see if he can get them running in top shape again, he likes seeing the results of his hard work, and working on them is a good stress reliever.

“I can get lost in turning wrenches, cleaning parts and putting them back in. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty either,” Major said and raised them, palms out. They were covered with dirt and soot. “See, workin’ man’s hands, and I can always get them clean."

Fireworks, parties, loud noises, champagne and a kiss at midnight are some of the modern traditions at the dawning of a new year, but celebrating the new year is an age-old practice.

New Year’s is one of the oldest of all holidays — its observance dates back to ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago.

However, Babylonians celebrated the new year around the first day of spring with celebrations lasting 11 days.

Western Calendars

In the Western world, the date of Jan. 1 was not recognized as the first day of the new year until 153 B.C.E. when the Roman Senate declared it so in an attempt to reestablish the calender in synchronization with the sun.

Tampering with the calendar continued until Julius Caesar established the Julian Calendar in 46 B.C.E. and kept Jan. 1 as the first day of the new year.

January was named after the Roman god, Janus, the god of all beginnings, whose image was often carved above gates and doorways, according to Encyclopædia Britannica. Janus is depicted with two heads, one facing forward and one backward.

By the 15th century, the Julian Calendar was out of synch by more than one week. Pope Gregory XIII, on the advice of Christopher Clavius, a Jesuit priest, declared Oct. 4, 1582, was to be the last day of the Julian Calendar, then skip nine days — the next day would be Oct. 15, 1582.

The new Gregorian Calendar was slow to be accepted. Only the Catholic states of Italy, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Poland accepted the calendar the year it was established. Two years later German and Swiss Catholic states accepted it and Hungary in 1587.

It was more than 100 years before other countries came on board when, in 1700, German, Swiss and Dutch Protestant states, Denmark and Norway started using the calendar.

Great Britain and its possessions, including the American colonies, started using the calendar in 1753. It was another hundred-plus years before Japan, then Egypt, in 1873 and 1875, followed suit, with the Republic of China in 1912, Russia in 1918, Greece in 1924 and Turkey in 1926.

The last country to adopt the Gregorian calendar was the People’s Republic of China in 1949, 367 years after its introduction, according to Encyclopædia Britannica.

World Traditions

Not all countries celebrate the new year on Jan. 1. In Thailand, it is celebrated on Jan. 14, the same as in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

In Tibet the new year falls sometime between January and March. The Vietnamese New Year is the Tet Nguyen Dan, which is generally the same day as the Chinese New Year, celebrated between Jan. 17 and Feb. 19. In 2010, it will be Sunday, Feb. 14.

A more uncommon celebration includes gathering on beaches on New Year’s Day to run into the ocean. Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia are the most popular countries for the practice. In Chicago, members of the Polar Bear Club plan their annual dip for noon Friday, Jan. 1, braving the icy water of Lake Michigan, which is forecast to be 34 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most people, however, indulge in the less frosty forms of celebrating the new year. One is to make New Year’s Resolutions.

Many countries celebrate with parades. A prime example is the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., followed by the Rose Bowl college football game, this year between Ohio State University and the University of Oregon.

A Pennsylvania Dutch tradition is to eat a meal of pork, cabbage and new potatoes. The practice comes from a tradition that dictates these foods will bring good luck in the new year. In Southern states the meal is prepared with collard greens, black-eyed peas and lentils, also for luck.

In Norway, it is customary to hide an almond in a batch of rice pudding. The person who gets the almond in his or her serving is assured of wealth and good fortune.

New Year’s Eve, the night before New Year’s Day, has become famous for celebrating with parties, food, drink and waiting for the stroke of midnight. Many turn on the television to watch an illuminated ball drop at Times Square in New York City. The brightly lit crystal ball begins its descent at 11:59 p.m. and arrives at the bottom of the pole at midnight, kicking off a fireworks display.

Other countries have celebrations with large fireworks displays, such as England, Japan, Brazil and Australia, where in Sydney more than 80,000 fireworks are launched at midnight.

A common image is of Baby New Year chasing Father Time, representing the old year, into history.

New Year’s Superstitions

While the new year is celebrated with gaiety, it also has some superstitions. Kissing at midnight ensures those

affections and ties continue for the next 12 months. Loud noises scare away evil spirits.

A baby born on Jan. 1 will have luck on their side. Crying should be avoided as well as washing dishes and laundry, profanity or breaking things because it could lead to a death in the family. Others include wearing new clothes to receive more new clothing during the new year and leaving a bit of New Year’s Eve dinner on the plate to ensure a full supply of food. Dancing in the open air on New Year’s day brings luck in love and prosperity.

Many believe opening the doors of the house at midnight allows the old year to escape, without letting precious things leave the house. Also, stuff pockets and billfolds with money to attract more.

Along with the belief that what we do on the first day of the year sets a pattern for the next 12 months, the first footing, or the first person to walk in the door after midnight, will influence the year.

It is also believed the direction of the wind during the sunrise on New Year’s Day decides the luck for the coming year.

If the wind is from the east it predicts natural calamities. Wind from the west predicts wealth but the death of an important person. A wind from the north means a year of bad weather, but from the south there is prosperity. However, no wind at all means prosperity and joy throughout the year.

Despite the superstitions, the new year is a good time for renewal and starting over no matter what traditions a person adheres to.

Happy New Year everyone and may it be prosperous.


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