Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Leslie Gore's "You Don't Own Me" Redux

Leslie Gore recorded this song in 1964. 

We're once again fighting for the same things we were fighting for then. 



Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

My pal, Lesa Holstine, has introduced me to a lot of books I would never have discovered on my own.

If you're not familiar with her blog, you really really really need to check it out. Here 'tis: http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/

One she recently shared with us on her blog was Christopher Morley's "The Haunted Bookshop."

I'm stunned that I had not heard of it, or it's companion book - "Parnassus on Wheels." (which I plan on reading next). "The Haunted Bookshop" actually continues the story of Roger Mifflin, the book seller introduced in "Parnassus on Wheels."

It's not a novel of the supernatural as might be assumed from the title. It refers, instead, to "the ghosts of all great literature," to quote Roger Mifflin.  The story is actually a spy thriller with some romance tossed in.

It was published in 1919, is set in Brooklyn and takes place during the end of World War I, and we get to listen in on some of the discussions the characters have about war, as well as play witness to some surprisingly timely views shared by Mr. Mifflin.

Two, in particular, struck a chord with me:

"The first thing needed is to acquire a sense of pity. The world has been printing books for 450 years, and yet gunpowder still has a wider circulation. Never mind! Printer's ink is the greater explosive: it will win."

There are many others, but here's just one more:

"But I tell you, the world is going to have the truth about War.  We're going to put an end to this madness.  It's not going to be easy.  Just now, in the intoxication of the German collapse, we're all rejoicing in our new happiness.  I tell you, the real Peace will be a long time coming.  When you tear up all the fibres of civilization it's a slow job to knit things together again.  Yu see those children going down the street to school?  Peace lies in their hands.  When they are taught in school that war is the most loathsome scourge humanity is subject to, that it smirches and fouls every lovely occupation of the mortal spirit, then there may be some hope for the future.  But I'd like to bet they are having it drilled into them that war is a glorious and noble sacrifice."

Thought provoking?  Especially when keeping in mind when it was written.

The book is also quite charming with its many references and allusions to other books and authors.  Many were mysteries to me, some were not.  Those that were mysteries had me scooting to Google to see what they might be all about.  

Like many readers, I'm a fool for books about other books, and was thoroughly captivated by this one.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Polly's Iyer - A Place at the Table

My friend Polly Iyer has written a terrific piece about self-published vs. traditionally published authors on The Blood Red Pencil.http://www.bloodredpencil.blogspot.com

Those of us who are self-published are holding tight to the hope that one of these days there will be no "versus" involved. Any of you think that's possible? 

Hop over and read Polly Iyer's piece, A Place at the Table. -http://www.bloodredpencil.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall at Our House

Fall in the mountains is beautiful in the fog or in the sun.  Here's some of both around our house and around the neighborhood.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Wedding Bees: A Novel of honey, love, & manners by Sarah-Kate Lynch

I loved this book to the moon and back. Fun quirky characters living in a delightful old house turned into apartments in Alphabet City, NY, along with good food, and even a taste of the south. All things I love. And some hysterical dialogue.  It's a gentle read bringing  comfort and some smiles.  It's a funny story without trying too hard to be funny. It's sweet without being overly so. I think it's "just right." And the bees! Oh my, I fell totally head over heals in love with the bees. 

I think this was the first books I've read by Sarah-Kate Lynch, but I'm going to take a look at what else she's written.

The story reminded me a great deal of books written by Barbara O'Neal and Sarah Addison Allen, two more favorites.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Life is Good

Life truly is good.  

And when someone you don't know discovers your work and takes the time to write a review about it, it brings home in spades just how good life really is.

And when they share with people, and me, the writer, how much the book touched them in a way such as this, well - honestly, I have no words.  But I have many feelings and emotions running through my head and through my heart right now after reading this.  All so lovely, I could pop.


5.0 out of 5 stars A RarityOctober 10, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: WHIMSEY: A NOVEL (Kindle Edition)
It is a rare book that makes you wish you were really right there at any given moment and then makes you feel as though you really are ... and leaves you ever so grateful for it, too.

It is a rare book that makes you nostalgic for a childhood you've never had with lifelong friends you've never known, in places you've never been.

It is rare for a book to weave impossibilities into "believeablities" in a moment of completely effortless understanding and rationale.

it is a rare book that whisks you away so completely into a whimsical place, filled with whimsical people and creatures, and whimsical events.

Such is this book - a rarity and a keeper!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bronson L. "Bo" Parker Talks About The Pledge of Allegiance

As to biographical information, i. e., who I am; well I'm still trying to figure that one out. For more than half a century, I've hidden behind words, first as a news and sports reporter with a BS in Journalism from UT-Knoxville, my hometown.

Following that career, a quarter century was spent writing historical non-fiction.  So, it was with a lot of naiveté and way too much self confidence that I decided some five years ago to write a novel, a mystery. I managed to get a well-known mystery writer with some forty books published to review my first manuscript.  He sent me an eleven-page, single spaced letter. The first page and a half told me what I had done correctly.  The other nine and a half pages listed the things I needed to learn. I am still learning.

THE PROVIDENCE OF DEATH can be ordered as a POD trade paperback through Amazon, B&N or your local book stores, as well as an ebook for your Kindle.

The Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag is a popular subject. Ask Amazon for a list of books. The response will be over 75,000 titles. There is an adage that the more books and articles written on a historical subject; the higher will be the number of differences regarding facts. Research on the Pledge proved the truth of that adage. For what follows below, original documents or quotes from sources I deemed reputable, were used to separate fact from fiction.

Speaking of fiction: to those of you among Kaye’s readers who’ve asked about the second Joe McKibben novel, I can only say that a few of life’s surprises, including an unanticipated move to Raleigh, North Carolina, have created a longer delay than planned. I’m at that stage where Dorothy Parker (no relation) said, “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”

The thirty-one-words in the Pledge probably represent America’s most widely known and most often recited phrase. However, what is not as well known is how the Pledge became a part of our culture. The original version, nine words shorter than the current version, first appeared in a Boston magazine titled The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892.

At this time in our history, less than three decades after the end of the Civil War, there were no state or federal regulations at to where the American flag could be displayed, or how it could be used. It has been written that beyond military bases, the flag was seldom seen at public venues.

Daniel Sharp Ford, owner and editor of the magazine want to change this through the publication’s premiums department.  For some time, one of the heavily promoted premiums had been the sale of the American flag to schools. The ultimate goal was to sell a flag to every school.  The Pledge and its proposed use was a logical next step in this plan.

Every morning, as envisioned by the magazine, students at each school would stand and recite the pledge as the flag was raised. To further involve students in the daily ritual, the magazine published what it called the pledge salute, to be performed by students while reciting the words. Instructions on performing the pledge included these directions.

“At the words, ‘to my Flag,’ the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.”

The first “official” use of the Pledge and salute would to be on opening day of the World’s Columbian Exposition, scheduled to open in Chicago in October 1892. It would an event to honor the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in America.

Officials at the magazine, led by the owner’s nephew by marriage, James Upham, and Francis Bellamy, a minister who had joined the magazine’s staff, began a campaign among national educators and politicians to gain support for the plan. It won the backing of the National Education Association, and President Benjamin Harrison who issued Presidential Proclamation 335.

It reads, in part, as follows:  “Now, therefore, I, Benjamin Harrison … do hereby appoint Friday, October 21, 1892, the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus as a general holiday for the people of the United States.”

[Note: In 1492, when Columbus recorded in his ship’s log that America had been reached on October 12th, the Julian Calendar (O.S.) was still in use.  The Gregorian Calendar (N.S.) had become the standard calendar used throughout most of the world at the time the proclamation was written. On the Gregorian calendar (N.S.), which dropped some dates, added a plan for leap years, and changed the beginning of the New Year, the 21st  (N.S.) aligns with the 12th  (O.S.). That seems to be the logic used to select the date for the proclamation.]

But construction at the expo site fell behind. The Chicago Historical Society offers this explanation. “Although dedication ceremonies were held on October 21, the fairgrounds were not opened to the public until May 1, 1893.”  Francis Bellamy is quoted as saying he heard the Pledge for the first time on the 21st when “4,000 high school boys in Boston roared it out together.”

The Pledge of Allegiance took the nation by storm, receiving overwhelming public acceptance and usage. Ford and his staff celebrated their success with a special edition of the magazine.

The first dispute regarding the Pledge focused on its authorship, a question that was not settled until 1957. In accordance with magazine policy, the author had not been identified when the Pledge was first published. However, it was a common assumption that Francis Bellamy wrote both the pledge and instructions for the salute.

After James Upham’s death in 1905, his family discovered documents that were presented to the public as proof that he, not Bellamy, wrote the pledge. In 1939 the United States Flag Association appointed a committee to heard arguments from the Bellamy and Upham families. The committee ruled that Bellamy was the author.

In 1956, when the question of authorship once again arose, the Library of Congress joined the fray. It appointed a panel to review the issue. A year later, the Library of Congress Legislative Reference Service issued a 148-page report, which in part was published in the Congressional Record for Sept. 11, 1957.

 “It is the opinion of the members of this committee that the author of the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag was Francis Bellamy of Rome, New York, and not James B. Upham of Malden, Massachusetts.”

In addition to the debate of authorship, other groups began in 1923 to “refine” the wording of the Pledge This action is described in an abstract written under the sponsorship of the Smithsonian Institution.

A National Flag Conference, presided over by the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, ordained that ‘my flag’ should be changed to ‘the flag of the United States,’ lest immigrant children be unclear just which flag they were saluting.” The following year, the Flag Conference put a finer point of clarification on the issue further by adding “of America” after United States.

As the nation moved through the 1920s and into the 1930s, a national controversy arose¾not with the Pledge itself, but with the salute. Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in Italy, and later Hitler’s Nazi party in Germany, adopted the “Saluto Momano,” a salute used by leaders during the Roman Empire. Scenes showing this salute became a part of newsreels in American theatres.

The visual similarity became a point for debate in the public eye. Newspapers took sides. Some made the debate more contentious by publishing pictures of children giving the salute without the flag being shown. This was pointed to as proof that the salute showed support for the Nazi cause.

It was at this point in the Pledge’s history that the Jehovah’s Witnesses became part of the story. The group had been in existence since the 1870s, but events of the 1930s moved them front and center in the debate regarding the Pledge and the salute.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler ordered that Jehovah Witnesses in Germany be banned for their refusal to participate in saluting Nazi flags in schools and other events. Two years later, the leader of the Jehovah Witnesses in America denounced all flag salutes. He urged his followers to refuse compliance.

Later that year, in the fall of 1935, in Minersville, Pennsylvania, two students from a Jehovah’s Witness family refused to stand and say the pledge. The local school board expelled the students. Their parents sued, and won decisions in lower courts.

But the school district fought the battle up the judicial ladder to the U. S. Supreme Court. In 1940, the court agreed to hear Minersville School District v. Gobitis (“a printer's error enshrined a misspelling of the Gobitas family name in constitutional case law”). The court ruled in favor of the school district by an 8-1 margin. Yes, students could be required to stand and recite the pledge.

Jehovah Witnesses ignored the court’s ruling. Their continued refusal to stand and recite the pledge was based on their beliefs that forbade a pledge of allegiance to anything but God. What followed during the days after the Court decision led parts of the country into a dark moment in the nation’s history.

In a report to the Justice Department, the American Civil Liberties Union documented the violence. At least 1,500 Witnesses were physically attacked or harassed in over 300 locations, mostly in small rural towns. The report also included the following.

A mob of 2,500 burned the Kingdom Hall in Kennebunkport, Maine. In Litchfield, Illinois, police jailed sixty Witnesses, “ostensibly protecting them from their neighbors.”  In Parco, Wyoming, Witnesses were tarred and feathered.

American Legion posts organized to join the protest. Legion members “forced Witnesses from a trailer camp in Jackson, Mississippi and escorted them across state lines to Louisiana where they were passed from county to county, finally winding up in the vicinity of Dallas, Texas."

Others were “jailed for sedition, for distributing literature, for holding a parade, and for canvassing without a license.” There was one report of castration, but no documentation that any Witnesses were killed. However, as newspapers across the country carried reports on the acts of violence, a public backlash against the Supreme Court grew among the general population.

In 1943, the court found a way to end the national furor it had created. It agreed to hear the case entitled West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. By a 6-3 margin, the 1940 ruling was reversed. Students could not be punished for refusing to stand and recite the pledge. But the Court left many of the details regarding usage of the Pledge to individual states.

The issue of the “Saluto Momano” salute was put to rest on Dec. 22, 1942. Congress, through Federal legislation, commonly called the Flag Law, added the following language. The salute would be “standing with the right hand over the heart” during the recitation. The arm raising involved in the original salute was eliminated.

Adding “under God” to the Pledge became a controversial issue that has been debated to this day. An attorney, a chaplain in the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, is given credit for first adding the phrase to the Pledge in the 1940s. The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution officially recognized him as the originator with an Award of Merit.

The Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus made the change official within its organization. In 1951, it adopted a resolution stating that “under God” would be a part of the pledge used to open KoC meetings.

Then began the campaign to make the change official via federal legislation. All efforts failed until Congress, with the urging of President Eisenhower, passed a bill adding “under God” to the Pledge. The president signed the bill on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.

Leaving details of administering the Pledge to individual states and adding the words “under God,” have fueled debates, disagreements, and lawsuits that are ongoing regarding the Pledge’s role in public schools. The headlines from a series of ten articles, published since 2011, in one publication, The Huffington Post, reflects the polarization of opinion that exists.

 “Make Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance Mandatory as an Educational Tool” (December 6, 2013)
 “Teacher Suspended For Making Student Say The Pledge Of Allegiance” (November 7, 2013)
 “School's Pledge Of Allegiance Canceled Because... Government Shutdown” (October 16, 2013)
 “Stand Up for Liberty by Sitting Out the Pledge of Allegiance” (June 3, 2013)
 “Ariz. Bill Requires Students To Swear Oath To Constitution Under God To Graduate” (January 28, 2013)
 “Michigan House Passes Pledge Of Allegiance, Flag Mandate” (September 18, 2012)
 “Nebraska To Require Public Schools To Allocate Time For Pledge Of Allegiance” (August 14, 2012)
 “State Senate Backs Bill Requiring Pledge Of Allegiance In Schools” (January 12, 2012)
 “Why One Group Wants This Out Of Schools” (November 8, 2011)
 “One Nation Under God?” (May 25, 2011)

While there appears to be no end in sight regarding differences of opinion as to the Pledge’s place in our public educational system, there is one important fact to remember. What started as an idea published in a magazine as a sales promotion has survived for 123 years without a single serious effort to seek the Pledge’s total elimination.


Columbus Day

Differences of opinion surrounding the Pledge also extend to Columbus Day. It did not become a federal holiday until 1937. But on October 12, 1899, “New York City’s Italian population organized a celebration of the discovery of America.” In 1907, Colorado became the first state to formally adopt October 12 as Columbus Day. The city has held a parade on that date since 1909 according to the parade organization’s website.
An area’s history determines on what date and how the day is observed. The official day varies between the 8th and the 14th, except one. Our forty-ninth state ignores Columbus Day to celebrate “Alaska Day” on October 18, the date in 1867 when Russia formally ceded the land to America.

Others bow to local history for a name.  Hawaii calls it “Discovers’ Day” to commemorate the Polynesian discovers of the islands. In South Dakota, it is called “Native American Day.” In California, some cities have hedged their bets by not taking sides. In Berkeley, Sebastopol, and Santa Cruz, it’s “Indigenous People’s Day.”

The Youth’s Companion

There is a bit of historical trivia associated with the name of the Boston firm that published the magazine, The Perry Mason & Co. This company name was a fictitious one, which may have been the reason it later became well known among fans of Earle Stanley Gardner. He has been quoted as saying that the magazine was a favorite of his when he was a small boy. Later, as a writer, he used the publishing company’s name for his now famous fictional character.