The Healer and the Pirate

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Friday, September 30, 2011

House plans, Old Timey iTunes, Eugenics

Gonna be pretty quick today. House plans (!) in the New York Tribune:

Note it has servant's quarters downstairs. When my dad was growing up in an old house, they never had enough electrical outlets, so he made sure to have our house built with plenty of them.

--New York Tribune, Sunday, October 2, 1921

So this is a busy has stories of rabies vaccines (the "Pasteur Treatment"), a custody battle, at least 2 murders, one quite gruesome, all the church services in New York...oh, and a scientific call for eugenics. In America. Wow.

Development of Race of Supermen Suggested
Professor Says Godlike Bodies and Newton Minds Could Be Produced on Island

Special Dispatch to The Tribune

BALTIMORE, Sept. 30.--Dr. H. S. Jennings, professor of zoology at Johns Hopkins University, expressed belief to-day that a race of people with the bodies of Greek gods and the minds of Newton or Shakespeare could be developed if a group of selected men and women were put on an island, otherwise uninhabited and kept there with their descendants for many generations.

"Of course," Dr. Jennings admitted, "that isn't possible, because the generations of the human race are too long, and we might not be successful in obtaining subjects. We can, however, improve the race by scientific methods, making the people healthier, better looking and more intelligent.

"Great men are both born and made. Heredity and environment both have their effect, so the race may be changed by selection of the parents of the future and by a change in surroundings. In a group of men placed under exactly identical conditions those with superior ancestors would soon come to the front, while a few men of equally good descent will soon show the effects of variations in environment."

--New York Tribune, Saturday, October 1, 1921

In less worrisome know? I am not sure I am ever going to look at iTunes and Amazon MP3 the same way again. Sometimes I hesitate to spend 99 cents on a song…

--New York Tribune, Saturday, October 1, 1921

In theory, these discs could have played 2 songs, one on each side, each something like 3-4 minutes long, but I think only the ones near the bottom are two-sided.

Historical Currency Conversions says $1.00 in 1921 was worth $12.66 in today's dollars. For one song, in many cases.

Now, it's hard to imagine how incredible it would be if you lived in the middle of nowhere, to suddenly hear musical performances that you'd never be able to hear in person. That said, in 1921, I imagine the smart money would be buying radios, not gramophones and phonographs.

The Library of Congress has some of these songs in a "National Jukebox", though Uncle Josh's was from the wrong year so it might not exactly match what listeners would've heard in 1921. (Like the Library of Congress, I don't endorse the statements made in these songs.)

Nightingale and the Rose by Mabel Garrison ($1.25!)

Where the Lazy Mississippi Flows by Olive Kline-Elsie Baker

In a Boat -by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra

Baltimore Buzz by Eubie Blake and His Shuffle Along Orchestra

Uncle Josh Buys a Victrola by Cal Stewart (a spoken-word "comedy"!)

Melon Time in Dixieland by Billy Murray and American Quartet

Irish Home Sweet Home by Billy Murray--Monroe Silver

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Revelation of song meaning

So a sister of a close friend of mine is very sick with cancer. Cancer is just horrible, period. But it's so awful when everyone in that family is so very nice and sweet and struggling with so much right now. And aside from praying, it doesn't sound like there's much to be done.

I was listening to my MP3s on the way home from work and "The Only Constant" by Mending Point comes through the cycle. I've had that album since probably 2003. I don't even know how many hard drive crashes that particular MP3 has survived, and I've listened to the song probably 15-20 times this year alone just because I don't have a giant rotation of songs.

If you actually listen, the song's meaning is blindingly obvious. But for some reason it never occurred to me until that moment that the entire song is from Jesus' point of view. The veil was lifted, so to speak, at just the moment when I could be moved by Jesus' love.

Hello to my fragile one
It's been so long
But I am still here
Walk beside me
I've already won
I know it's hard
Just believe
Just believe

Did I not remember you
When the world was on my shoulders
Do you feel my heart
When colors fill the sky
You cannot erase the words
That I sing to you when you're broken
Not a thing has changed
I still feel the same
For you

I'm not at all an emotional person, to put it mildly, but my eyes got hot with tears, and I even felt a few fall, driving down the freeway. Sometimes things just hit you. God will always love us and nothing can take that away.

Rest of the lyrics here. Since the album's 8 years old, the songs aren't on YouTube that I could find, but you could buy it online at places like Amazon (in CD version!).

The Gruesomeness of Editing

I edit a lot, often on paper, because I like the visuals and the feel of marking out words.

Spoiler alert for novel that will probably never see the light of day ("Flight from Endwood")!

Of course, I like to edit SO much, a big thing for me is getting the first draft out, so I have something to work with. I'm still working on a short story...the plot has changed quite substantially, but whatever...abusive husbands lording their power over their Selkie wives are SO cliche. New idea is stronger (though still involves selkies).

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Tiny Bit of Prescott History

So over Labor Day weekend my mom and I went to Prescott, Arizona. She would take my brother and I up there (sometimes with my dad, often not) regularly when we were younger and we liked it as a small town getaway.

We didn't have that much in mind this trip. One thing I wanted to do was see the Fort Whipple museum (the Sharlot Hall one is great but we'd seen it not that long ago). I had checked the website a week in advance and confirmed the only day of our trip the Fort Whipple Museum would be open was Saturday. Fine. We could go there right when we arrived in Prescott.

At Fort Whipple there was some construction going on, covering some of the already weak signage. We FINALLY made it to the site of the museum…and it was closed.

We did pass Miller Valley School…I love old buildings, though apparently the part built in 1916 was just two rooms (!).  Also pictured, my pants, through an impressive Pepper's Ghost effect.

Speaking of ghosts, I was thinking about how parts of Prescott aren't as I remembered them.

We went to this store when it was a Coronet (or is it Cornet?) five-and-dime type store. Amazing that back around World War II these kinds of stores were popular and now even the Internet isn't sure how to spell its name.

Looking out from the parking garage. Back when we used to frequent Prescott there was no parking garage. I actually remember signing a petition against a parking garage, but I'm not sure it was this one (at least, this one doesn't look as obtrusive as the one they were portraying towering over Prescott in the petition!)

The elevator was very slow. Is this not a crazy sign? (And you know it is there because someone did it.)

We did not eat at the Firehouse Kitchen but I found their railing adorable.

There was a craft fair type thing going on at the Square.

Close on the courthouse. (I think this is one of the reasons Back to the Future was so popular and iconic…so many small towns have courthouses like this one.)

If I recall correctly, that store on the very left used to be "The Cat's Meow," which sold knick-knacks and fudge. They had a big room in the back full of Christmas items. The trips we'd taken a few years back, they had "Going Out of Business" sale signs up…for probably more than a year! Finally, though, it appears they gave up.

To the right of that is Bashford Courts. It used to be a general store, I believe, WAY back in the day (like before my parents were born). I'm not quite sure what it was when I was growing up--not stores, I don't think, unless maybe just the ground floor was stores. Now it is like a tiny mall. I guess the elevator is a Dover? I don't think it's terribly old, though.

The building right at the corner used to be a wonderful Family Christian Bookstore. Now it's a real estate office. There's a plaque around there that shows it also used to be gorgeous brick instead of stucco. Argh!

So we ate at the Prescott Brewing Company and saw an interesting crew walk by. I didn't get pictures until they were across the street and hard to see. Though actually, that may be for the best. They made me think of a green bodysuited man I saw in Florida when I visited Maggie.

I love pressed pennies! I thought all three of those were pretty homely, actually, but here is my thumb holding Thumb Butte. Ha!

There are some unexpected details in Prescott, like tin ceilings. Almost certain this is the Raven Cafe, where Mom stopped to get some water.

Not certain this one is historic or not. Per a site that sells tin ceilings , they were made to be an easily-transportable way to mimic plaster ceilings that were so popular in Europe, and it seems they often painted/etc. to look like the ceilings they were trying to emulate.

Very cool at any rate!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The St. Joseph Observer - Saturday, September 24, 1921

Wow; I guess occasionally newspapers will still use Biblical references to draw attention (like maybe "Two by two" or "He was not his brother's keeper, dun dun dun"). But a reference to Romans 3:23? Really?

But They Might As Well Be In Many of the Cases That are Brought Up
For the Guilty Get All That Is Due Them When They Face Judge Van Valkenburgh

"The prohibitory law is on the statute books. It was put there to be observed and respected and it will be as long as I have the power to administer the law," said federal judge Van Valkenburgh on Wednesday morning when he opened court and faced what one of the attorneys facetiously remarked "looked like a bootleggers' convention," for never in the history of the city has there been so many liquor violation cases before a court of any kind. "With this statement no liquor violator will disagree for the judge kept his word--and in full effect and force--as all who qualified before him as a violator found out. There was practically no mercy shown and excuses of attorneys fell like rain on a duck's back--so to speak--for they just ran off--and the learned judge did the rest. The United States would soon be able to pay off its war indebtedness if Judge Van Valkenburg could keep up his liquor fine record.

And then he did more--for he not only fined but he imposed jail sentences as well--and he did not respect anyone, as take it for instance in the case of Chris Otten, the well known hotel man, who on pleading guilty to violating toe prohibitory law was sentenced to sixty days in jail and to pay the costs in addition. His two employees, Fred Sillman and Earl Roylston, in the Hotel Otten who also plead guilty, were fined $250 and costs each…

--The St. Joseph Observer, Saturday, September 24, 1921

Page 1 also had a rather graphic description of a murder of an "aged Negro" "for money."

It Will Not Prove the Boon to the Country Dealer As It was Painted.

Grain dealers along with handlers of cotton and other farm products are already hearing more and more about the new War Finance Corporation credit activities in behalf of farmers. Congress lately enacted a law which provides for the extension of $1,000,000,000 in credit to assist in the sale of farm products for export. The War Finance Corporation is the agency designated to handle this money and distribute it.

Of course, exaggerations of what the law will accomplish already are heard. But the country grain dealer and the terminal operator will not find it the boon that some of the politicians are attempting to picture it in their eagerness to win public favor…

--The St. Joseph Observer, Saturday, September 24, 1921

Even though this is a utility ad, it looks like a modern house ad in a way, using small children (dressed as adults?!) to try to inspire people to buy a home for their family... Note the slam on the artist. Did they use clip art? LOL

--The St. Joseph Observer, Saturday, September 24, 1921

And this is solely for the fabric loves and seamstresses/tailors out there...back in the "old days" people had to draft their own patterns, I believe based on instructions and measurements (or before the days of books, talent and guesswork!). McCall's is bragging that their patterns are printed, presumably like patterns of today, where you just cut out the pieces, pin them to the fabric, and cut.

For instance, there are newer ways to give smartness to frocks you make, the low waistline, the longer skirt and the graceful wide sleeve--every last fashion feature is to be found in these newly arrived "Printed" Patterns of McCall's.

All New McCall Patterns Now "Printed"

--The St. Joseph Observer, Saturday, September 24, 1921

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weak Characters

Not sure why this didn't post when I asked it to...sorry! Pretend this posted Wednesday.

I think probably the most important part of a story is good characters. If you have engaging characters, then the audience will follow them even through a couple plot issues. Whereas if you have a flawless plot but no one cares about the characters, it can be hard to draw readers in. Not impossible, granted, but for me, if I don't have characters that I find engaging, I think that hinders my stories.

So some people are able to read books and say "Oh, this author did this so well! I'm going to do that too!" But for me, it's usually easier to figure out what doesn't work, than what works.

I picked up the 1980s book Timescape by Gregory Benford at the VNSA Used Book Sale a few years back, figuring I should buy it since it seemed like a quintessential time travel book and time travel almost always creeps into my stories. Now, do note that an exception to the "characters over plot" idea used to be science fiction, where the science and plot were the story and the characters tended to be weak. (Not sure if that is still true.)

But anyway, by the time I got to the end of Timescape...well, I would have thrown it across the room, except I was in an airplane and there wasn't room.

Now, in fairness, the plot wasn't great either, and I'm not so certain about the science (IMO time travel science is always kind of iffy, and if I recall correctly there wasn't any of the exciting time travel I'd hoped for).

But what I really hated was the characters. Keep in mind this is based on reading a book a few years ago, but these are the two things that STILL stick with me:

Point 1: Most of the characters, even when the story was in the 1960s, I believe it was, used "Christ" (or "Jesus" or maybe both; I forget which) as their curse of choice. For an Evangelical Christian, it's like nails on a chalkboard to read any character using the Lord's name in vain. Some people do say that in real life, true. But in a given crowd, are most people going to use that phrase?

Takeaway: Watch for phrases some readers will find unusual, and make sure every character isn't using that phrase unless there's a compelling reason for it. It can be hard to write individual voices for characters, but make sure they don't all sound like YOU.

Point 2: One of the male characters was so attractive/powerful/seductive/perfect that he seduced practically every woman in the novel. One of the women did finally mock him, which I enjoyed for about a second. But then another character accused the mocker of being gay, and she retorted that no, she was bisexual. So it read like no heterosexual woman could resist this man's charms.

At the end of the novel, this "attractive" character had just gotten over a very severe episode of food poisoning (vomiting and I think he was still thin/weak/sweating). Yet he managed to seduce another main character's wife in his weakened condition.

Takeaway: Do not make your character so supernaturally perfect that the other characters act like puppets around him or her.

Caveats to that:

Point 1: This review claims critics found characterization a strong point in the novel! That could be the attitude of 1980s reviewers, and/or it could be that men liked this "characterization" better than women. (Even the linked reviewer noted that a couple female characters seemed to be discarded once they had served their purpose.)

Point 2: Girls/young women being pursued by multiple guys is popular with teen girls (see Twilight and Anime like Fushigi Yuugi back in the day, maybe even Fruits Basket, etc.). So again, it could be a gender thing, and it's probably not fair to judge a novel pointed at one audience (men) based on the fact that it's not appealing to women. But on the other hand, the ending of Timescape hints that the author wanted the novel to be deep and literary. In my opinion, a general audience novel (OR a literary novel) shouldn't treat one gender pretty much solely as objects throughout.

So no, I didn't like the novel, but I'm both notoriously picky and sensitive to sexism. Hopefully I learned at least a little something from it...though books like this one have taught me that no, it's not always best to just plow on through to the end of the book. If a book's too annoying, sometimes you should just put it down!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Arrrr! The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pirates!

Arrr, mateys! I hope ye be enjoyin' Talk Like a Pirate Day!

I figured it be a fine day t' review a piratical book I acquired in me travels.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pirates, by Gail Selinger with W. Thomas Smith Jr. be startin' out with the whole history o' sailing an' pirates, though at least one reviewer were complain' about a lack of historical accuracy. I can't much speak much to that, as I be writin' fantasy pirates, not real ones. I can tell ye the first few chapters were a mite boring, 'til they got to talkin' about real pirates. And not all of them were so interesting either.

The book be laid out in chapters, with big headings an' smaller headings throughout, an' outlines o' what the chapters be coverin' at the start an' recaps o' what they covered at the end. It still be surprisingly hard t' find some of the information when ye need it, though the index be all right.

I thought things picked up around Part 2, an' particularly around Chapter 7, when they be startin' to outline life on a ship an' talkin' about press gangin' sailors. Apparently glass-bottom tankards were t' help keep people from bein' forced into service! I ain't so sure about th' Cat o' Nine Tails bein' the origin for lettin' the cat out o' the bag.  Part 3, more about specific pirates, be havin' some points o' interest too. Later on, the parts about the Barbary Corsairs and the Christians and Muslims fightin' had such acts o' cruelty they be makin' a pirate blush. I ain't sure if they were relevant to a lad or lass with an interest in piratin' or not.

Overall the book helped me t' understand Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides much more, with the bits on press-ganging, the mutual hatred between the Spanish an' English, the storin' of weapons away from the sailors to prevent mutiny, an' of course the difference between a pirate an' a privateer.  Made me wonder if the writers o' the script read this book.

I can be speakin' for a few bits o' historical matters which may or may not be right. They be tellin' a heartbreakin' story about Captain William Kidd bein' forced back into piracy, but a quick search o' the Internet and I couldn't find nothin' about him bein' forced to go back t' sea against his will, just that it ain't clear why he did. Their account may true, may not. Their tale about Captain Bartholomew Roberts don't sound in the least like this biography I recently acquired using me special offers enabled magic readin' device, though I admit I haven't read it yet to be sure. Again, I ain't sayin' the book ain't right, but it don't seem to match with what I be seein' elsewhere.

But the one that be worryin' me the most is near the end when they be talkin' about Chinese woman pirate Lai Choi San, a.k.a. Lai Sho Sz'en. They spin a fine yarn about her, then say that "no reputable pirate historian has been able to verify (reporter) Lilius's claims" an' that "with no 'hard' evidence Lao's story needs to be classified as fiction." The fiction bit be disappointin' enough. But I don't understand why they be callin' Ms. Lai "Lao" by the end o' the section. An' then at the end o' the chapter they reiterate "Lai Choi Shan emerged in the 1920s and continued her family's traditions of piracy." That be the fourth way o' spellin' her name by me count. I know Chinese names be hard t' spell in English, but didn't they just say they be relatin' a fictional tale about her, on account o' the fact they didn't have any hard facts? I be more than a touch concerned that they be sayin' the tale was real after all, and that they don't know how to be spellin' her name.

The glossary be o' limited value to landlubbers, as it don't be definin' port, starboard, bow, or stern!

Anyway, true or not, the book be worth a look, particularly the middle sections. I be trustin' the bits about nautical life pretty well. The book credits say Ms. Selinger be a gunner on tall ships in her spare time, so could be she knows a bit about the sea. But as far as the history be concerned, I'd be double-checkin' the "facts" if you be lookin' at this for any serious purposes. Fairly warned be ye, says I.

(I acquired this book at an annual used book market fer substantially less than retail price, but it weren't free. Avast with ye, FCC!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

School Time in Colville

School news from Colville, Washington! A little info on Colville here.

I'm not sure when school started in the area, but from this ad, I can assume not August…

--The Colville Examiner, Saturday, September 17, 1921

Though it appears high school, at least, was already in session. (Also interesting to see how few boys were in those classes that elected female officers.)

The High School Classes Elect

That woman suffrage gets its start in the seats of learning, particularly in the high school, was fully demonstrated during the past week when the different classes of the Colville high school held their annual election of class officers. Of the three class presidents elected, the freshman class being the only class which failed to elect all its officers, two were girls. Of the remaining offices, eight were awarded to girls and seven to boys.

Margaret Taylor was elected president of the senior class, making it the third consecutive time that she had directed the affairs of the '21 class as its president. Enos Rice, president of the student body, was elected vice president; Wilbur Copp, secretary; Christine Kimple, treasurer and Alice Conner to the social committee.

Following the seniors, the juniors elected Emma Hofstetter president. Miss Hofstetter has successfully served as president of the '22 class in its freshman and sophomore years. Huburt Page was chosen as vice president; Theis Johnson, secretary; Harold Baird, treasurer; Dorothy Diffenbacher was elected to the social committee.

Gerald Exley was elected president of the sophomore class, making it the second time that he has directed its affairs as president. The other officers elected were Charles Wilbur, vice president; Velma Hackett, secretary and treasurer; Bernie Schwerdfield was chosen to represent the class on the social committee. William Caldwell was the only freshman elected, the first year students electing him to represent them on the social committee.

Instead of having their class advisors appointed, the different classes elected their own class advisors. The seniors elected Miss Eleanor Wilbur, the juniors Miss Marjorie Heaton, the sophomores Miss Muriel Anderson and the freshman Miss Lelah Burgess.

According to the figures compiled by H. A. Scarborough, high school principal, there are 141 girls in the high school and 104 boys. Twenty-one girls are members of the seniors class; 28 belong to the juniors; 38 to the sophomores while 54 claim the freshman class. More boys belong to the freshman class than any other class, there being 44 first year boys; 30 claim the sophomore class; 21 pride themselves on being juniors. Only 9 boys are in the senior class, making it one of the smallest number of boys to be in the senior class in recent years.

--The Colville Examiner, Saturday, September 17, 1921

This ad amazed me--it sounds like they're saying, sit your kid in front of the record player to entertain them and keep them out of your hair!

--The Colville Examiner, Saturday, September 17, 1921

Funny little ad about appliances for "the young lady who is attending school away from home." Note the electric iron is "Indispensible to the girl who is fussy about her appearance."

--The Colville Examiner, Saturday, September 17, 1921

I find it fascinating that the eye doctor only comes to town every 3 months, if you don't want to get your glasses at the jeweler....

--The Colville Examiner, Saturday, September 17, 1921

In other news, there was a socialist, vegetarian, Russian commune 60 miles from Colville; you can read about it on Page 2.

One could totally steal that for a society in a fantasy story, I think. "We are all brothers, and we believe in Jesus" seems to be the basic expression of the Dukhobor belief….The Grand Forks Dukhobors may be crazy to content themselves with the simple life which they lead, but they are demonstrating the human ability to work few hours and yet have more than plenty, and to live and rear families without the spectre of poverty continually facing them.

--The Colville Examiner, Saturday, September 17, 1921

And I wish banks were like this nowadays.

--The Colville Examiner, Saturday, September 17, 1921

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Providence in Writing

If you've been following my Facebook you may have seen me note my amazement that God not only works things out in our lives, but He can give ideas for His providence to work in our CHARACTERS' lives.

I mean, it's fine and good if God just reaches down and saves my characters from doom. But how amazing is it if a series of events work together to rescue those characters?

I got some inspiration recently to edit a scene in "The Healer and the Pirate." I think the inspiration is from God. I do think it's a good idea, but then, I think a lot of things are good ideas. More impressively, my co-author Maggie also thinks it's a good idea. She's the one who usually strikes down my exciting ideas with her relentless logic. (I tease, but I do believe that is why "The Healer and the Pirate" is by FAR the best thing I've ever worked on.) Anyway, hopefully the edit will go well, and I'm hoping the scene will be greatly strengthened, letting our characters take some action. You'll have to tell me if you can spot the scene when it's finally published.

I think the best example of God's providence in the Bible is probably the book of Esther, which doesn't even mention God, but which has clear evidence of God's providence through events as simple as insomnia. It would have been fine if God would have just smote Haman from the getgo, but as literature and as a Biblical text, the story is more compelling and moving as the drama plays out through the lives of people.

I'm glad God lets us get involved, instead of just smiting people.

Monday, September 12, 2011

4,023 words (depending on how you count)

I really need to edit and write.

Picture = 1,000 words.

So, I present, 4,000 words. Seen at Tempe Town Lake a while back.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Healing Field Tempe Town Lake - September 11, 2011

If you're in the East Valley, I think this is the most beautiful memorial to 9/11. I think it's put up every year for the weekend (at least, I saw it this year and last year, and believe it was around several years before that). As far as I know there's a flag for each victim killed in the attacks.

To me, the most heartbreaking and touching part is the cards on each flag. Some just have the barest of data, but a lot have more information:

Perhaps the most touching aspect about these stories is the way they show the love felt by the people who loved those who were lost.

I still remember how everyone came together immediately after the attacks....I was in college at the time and went to get my roommate for lunch. We were in one of the office buildings there and everyone gathered together to watch TV coverage--something I've really never done before or since.

It was a scary time (as a natural coward, I was a bit worried that the terrorists might strike my Arizona campus!) and an eerie time (I wrote a little stream-of-consciousness poem, now lost, but I believe it started, "Food smells delicious. I'm alive."). And such a sad time--though the initial reports said that as many as 50,000 were killed...I consider it God's providence that the final toll was more like 3,000.

My classes all met as scheduled, and we might have even had a regular lecture in a big auditorium class (psychology, I think it was?). But in my smaller Japanese history class we just talked about the attacks. Everyone wanted to help, I recall, even though there really wasn't all that much we could do out in Arizona. Besides pray.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the survivors and those who lost someone...and to all who are suffering through less-known but still tragic tragedies and illnesses.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Texas flooding, Hollywood Scandal, Raisin Pie - September 10, 1921

There were several tragedies reported in the newspaper for September 11, 1921. I'm not feeling so great today so I'll just post the headlines.

150 Believed to Have Perished in San Antonio Flood; Bodies of 42 Are Recovered; 5,000 Made Homeless

Millions in Damage; City In Darkness
Cloudburst Seeds Flood of Water Down River, Inundating the BUsiness and Residence Districts
Troops on Guard To Foil Looters
Majority of Victims Thus Far Accounted For Are Women and Children

--The New York Tribune, September 11, 1921

Also a bridge collapse in Chester, Pennsylvania:

27 Persons Drowned As Bridge Collapses
Men, Women and Children, Watching Attempt to Rescue Boy, Are Dropped, a Struggling Mass, Into River at Chester, Pa.

--The New York Tribune, September 11, 1921

And a story that was on the BBC recently:

Arbuckle Is Held as Girl Guest Dies
Film Comedian Detained in San Francisco Pending Investigation of Fatal Party in His Rooms
Victim is Virginia Rappe, an Actress
Became Hysterical and Then Grew Violently Ill After Taking Drinks

--The New York Tribune, September 11, 1921

In happier news, this raisin pie is suppose to refresh your tired man:

--The New York Tribune, September 11, 1921

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Truth is Stranger than Fiction?

Warning; historical sadness!

So imagine a mission control dispatcher who is sick with space flu, the very same space flu that killed one of his children the week before. His boss asks him to fly a passenger shuttle mission, since the spaceship pilots are out of commission. Due to a lack of training, the dispatcher miscalculates and strikes an asteroid, killing almost 100 people on board.

If I read this in a book, I'd honestly be pretty ticked off at the gratuitous tragedy.

Though if PBS's American Experience is to be believed, a similar chain of events occurred in the New York Subway's Malbone Street Wreck in 1918. (Brian J. Cudahy's Malbone Street Wreck is supposed to debunk some persistent myths regarding the tragedy, so I'm not sure if all that is accurate.)

I enjoy drama in fiction, but I don't like what I feel is often gratuitous tragedy. It's true that historically, there were (and still are) major tragedies. And some people like to read fiction to help them deal with that, I guess? Or just to feel the deep emotion? I guess that's why there are so many different types of books out there! (Even if I don't understand it!)

What I don't like so much is when some authors or publishers actually seem to maximize angst by hinting that a fictional account is non-fiction. I remember how fascinated I was to pick up one of the "Dear America" books (a line I was not familiar with) in an airport. It was touted as a diary, and I was moved by the poignant narration. Too moved, actually, I suspected...I didn't purchase the book. I later discovered the obvious, that the book was entirely fiction. I love when people bring history to life, but I looked in the book itself and couldn't find any reference to it being a fictional account...certainly nothing obvious. I just don't feel like it's fair to pretend something is "real" when it's fiction.

A grown-up example is These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 Arizona Territories by Nancy E. Turner. It's exciting and has a great style, and is actually a very good book (though also incredibly draining, due in part to the diary style, that condenses what would be 30 pages in a regular novel into 2 pages of a diary). And it does tell tragedies that surely happened to people back then (though I think it would be a very unusual person who experienced ALL those tragedies). And it DOES technically say "A Novel" on the front.

But between the marketing and Turner's style, a lot of readers thought it was at least based on a real diary. This interview seems to indicate that the title character was almost entirely fabricated. Which is fine, but I wish the publisher didn't feel the need to dub it a "diary." (And at the Tucson Festival of Books 2010, I believe it was, Turner explained that for the sequel, her publisher pushed her to start the story out with more angst and drama!)

If I ever write a true historical, I don't know how to make it obvious that I'm writing historical fiction. Well, I won't label it a diary. Hopefully I won't have glaring historical errors...and if it's like any of my other works, it will end up having characters that exhibit superhuman powers, and/or time travel...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides

So I FINALLY saw Pirates of the Caribbean 4 - On Stranger Tides. I'm not sorry I waited for it to hit the cheap theaters. I am not sorry I saw it in 2-D either...there were a lot of dark scenes that I think would've been hard in 3-D (at least, every 3-D movie I've been to was really dark!).

Oh, my ship's wheel picture is on the HMS Surprise, which played the HMS Providence in the film.

The HMS Surprise out of movie make-up.

Mild spoilers below!

I liked the film, though my expectations were bilge-low, so I was delighted the film turned out to be OK. For a movie that's over 2 hours long, it seemed odd there were so many loose ends. I didn't really buy any of the romance, and while I love to see faith and religion at least alluded to in a movie, the only characters who ended up making God any sort of priority by the end were the Spanish Catholics!

To me, there seemed to be more effort at integrating history in this one, at least. Although actually, almost all the historical aspects were also covered in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pirates. So I'm not sure if the movie writers read that book for research, or if the authors of the research book were influenced by Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides (which I haven't read).

And actually, if I hadn't been familiar with the material of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pirates, parts like sailors being forcibly impressed into service might have gone over my head. Though if you go to one of these movies for the plot, I reckon you have the wrong idea...I found it to be a bit more fun than movies 2 and 3. Then again, some people find the idea of swinging from great heights in human-bone cages hilarious, so if you're one of those, you might not like Stranger Tides nearly as much!

Anyway, I found it enjoyable and worth seeing for $2 on the big screen!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Work, Work, Work, Bible Quotation, Racist Ad, Sugar-Coated Chewing Gum

Not sure how I feel about Tulsa this week...

'Work, Work, Work!' is Davis Panacea for Depression in Proclamation on Labor Day

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4--Secretary James J. Davis of the department of labor called upon everybody to work for the general good in a Labor day statement. He said in part:

"This nation has become the greatest of all producing nations. It has become so great because it works--because it always has worked.

Work for Prosperity.

"Just now we are in the depths of a depression. Everybody is interested in the way out, and we have made up our minds that the way to prosperity is to work. Just now work is more important to us than anything else.

"Labor day this year calls everybody to work. And there never was a day when work--a new kind of work--was more plentiful than it is in the day of widespread unemployment, as now.

"The work to be done is to improve the present situation.

"The business leader must work to start the wheels of industry going again and bid farewell to wartime profits.

Goodbye to Demands.

"The toiler must work among his kind, for the creation of a spirit willing to bid goodbye to unreasonable demands.

"The bankers must work to provide credits for the re-establishment of business. The skilled engineer must work to cut down costs.

"There is that kind of work for every man, woman and child in the country.

"Labor day used to be thought of only as laborers' day.

"From now on, it is everybody's day.

"No man prospers unless his nation prospers with him. That is why Labor day this year takes on this new significance. This year it is no idle holiday. It should be a day of dedication for everybody, for the good of the nation."

--The Morning Tulsa Daily World, September 5, 1921

Daily Bible quotations...that's good, right? Although they verse is 8 words long, followed by a long poem...

Daily Biblical Quotation

September 5.

O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me.
--Isa. xxxviii. 14.

Being perplexed, I say
  Lord, make it right!
Night is as day to Thee,
  Darkness is light.
I am afraid to touch
  Things that involve so much;--
        My trembling hand may shake,
        My skilless hand may break;
        Thine can make no mitake.

       --Anna B. Warner.

--The Morning Tulsa Daily World, September 5, 1921

I'm not sure if mitake is an old-timey word, or if they actually misspelled mistake.

In the category of jaw-droppingly horrible... Only 90 years ago! Yes, page 5 actually has an ad saying:

Spectacle Johnnie Says
The Ku-Klux Klan
can clean Tulsa of hijackers and bootleggers and he believes they mean to do it, for it is said every seven out of 10 are men of families and taxpayers, but there is one thing they can't do, they can't buy high grade guaranteed ground lenses any size shape or style lenses desired in 10-year guaranteed frames, any style desired complete spectacles or eyeglasses, either reading or distant vision, at only $5.00…

--The Morning Tulsa Daily World, September 5, 1921

I can't believe they printed that.

No eye wash, but here's an attractive ad to clean out your mouth.

Wrigley's Peppermint Sugar Coated Gum

--The Morning Tulsa Daily World, September 5, 1921

"PK" appears to be for Philip K. Wrigley. And yes, they do recommend chewing sugar-coated gum after meals to prevent cavities.

Great photo of the wrapper on Flickr.

I'm not sure long it was called "P-K", but I saw an ad from around 1927 showing Spearmint gum in sugar-coated form too, in or around 1927 (this time, a penny for 4 pieces, instead of a nickel for 10).

Now it's available in Australia!