And if you’re not busy doing your own thing or celebrating/observing everything October, stop by Jackson County Public Library for their “Star Wars Reads Day – Family Night” on October 8th at 6pm. Join in and dress-up with some pre-Halloween costuming!
October is Attention –deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) awareness month. As of 2011, approximately 8.8% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD in the United States. Though it’s estimated that the rate of occurrence for ADHD is similar in adults, only 4.4% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD – a significant portion of the adult ADHD population goes undiagnosed and untreated.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about ADHD and ADD (ADD has been somewhat recently re-categorized as a sub-type of ADHD- ADHD, Primarily Inattentive).
It’s not uncommon to hear people dismiss ADHD as a behavioral issue: “If only he’d try harder!,” “If her parents just made her…,” “She just doesn’t want to pay attention!” However, brain scans show that there is a significant difference in the brain activity of people diagnosed with ADHD versus neurotypical or “normal” participants. Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States…
Fifty years ago last January, Great Britain lost one its greatest leaders. Winston Spencer Churchill had been Prime Minister twice, once during World War II in the reign of George VI and then under George VI again, until king’s death in 1952 ; then under Queen Elizabeth II, as she started her long reign. In fact during the first half of the 20th century there were very few years that Churchill was not a part of the government of the British Isles.
Followers of “Downton Abbey” would recognize the world that Churchill was born into in 1874. His father was the youngest son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His mother was one of a number of American society women who married British nobility (see “Downton Abbey again”) When Churchill was born the sun never set in the British Empire, when he died, in 1965, that empire had shrunk and turned into a commonwealth of self-governing nations.
In Victorian England, children born into the aristocracy saw little of their parents. Nannies and tutors saw their raising and education. As they grew older, boarding schools took up the learning. With young Winston it was Harrow, not Eton. Churchill was not much of a scholar, not bright enough for civil service. It took three attempts to pass the entrance exam for the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where he ended his formal education, after which he joined the 4th Hussars, a cavalry regiment.
On duty with the 4th Hussars in India 1896, Churchill managed to moonlight as a newspaper correspondent, sending back dispatches on the war on the Afghan frontier. From there, in 1899, he joined Kitchener’s army in Africa, where it was charged with avenging the 1885 murder of Charles George Gordon at Khartoum. That ended his military career, except or a short time in the Great War. After that, he resigned from the army and went as a reporter to cover the Boer War in South Africa, where he was captured and put on a prison-of-war camp, but later escaped.
Then it was time for him to step into politics. It took Churchill two attempts to get himself elected to the House of Commons. In 1900, he won the election for the Oldham constituency, in the greater Manchester area, in the Conservative Party. Unlike the United States Congress, a member of the House of Commons does not have to reside in his constituency, he only needs keep a office there. It did not take Churchill long before he disagreed his party’s policies and began vote against the Government. Finally, in May 1904, he crossed the House and joined the Liberal members in opposition. Four years later, he was elected from a secure seat in the Scottish city of Dundee and he married Clementine Hozier.
As part of the Liberal Party, Churchill was appointed to different positions in the government: the Colonial Office, the Board of Trade, and the Home Office. Much like he did in the years leading up to World War II, Churchill spoke out in Commons for the government to spend money on the Army and Navy to match to power of the European nations who were in an arms race with Germany. In 1911, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, the political head of the British Navy. He was in that position when war broke out on the continent in August 1914. The Gallipoli fiasco the next year brought his resignation from that post and eventually from the government. After that he spent six months as officer in the trenches in Belgium. (See my last blog for details on Gallipoli)
After the Great War, Churchill was made Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air from January 1919 to February 1921 in the government of David Lloyd George. However, in General Election of 1922, Churchill lost his Dundee seat. In the However, two years later he was returned to the Commons as the Member for Epping, a seat he held until 1945 In the mid-1920’s Churchill crossed the House again and rejoined the Conservative Party. . When Stanley Baldwin led the Conservative Party to victory in 1924, Churchill was made Chancellor of Exchequer, a post he held until 1929. For the next ten years Winston was out of government but still in the Commons.
Though he spent a decade out of government, Churchill remained busy. He needed to make money to make up what he lost in the way of investments due to the stock market crash in 1929. He finished his story of the Great War, The World Crisis and an autobiography, My Early Life. A multi-volume biography of his ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough was finished in 1938. When he was not writing his books, he was publishing newspaper articles and making speeches warning about looming crises in Europe brought on by Hitler’s seizure of power in Germany. The Nazi leader’s expansion of his country’s borders was met a policy of appeasement by the Conservative Party until the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. Churchill was once again First Lord of the Admiralty.
It is always fun to read science fiction and see how the author predicts the future. This is especially true for older books. Not only was our technology not nearly as advanced back then, but we can also truly see how it all turned out. For instance, a lot of writers still had us using cassette tape forever. Now there are plenty of blogs and articles out there that will give you a list of books that made “predictions” that came true. I am going to go in a slightly different route and just talk about some books that I have read and what wonders I found in them. Some you will have heard of, and some you probably haven’t. Hopefully some of them you will want to read.
Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984). It is an eerie feeling when you read something like this and realize just how close he came. Gibson’s protagonist Case is a former computer hacker and current petty criminal. Drug addicted and despondent, he searches for a way out and gets caught up in a tangled scheme that allows him to once again use his Internet skills. Now, look at that summary again and notice the publication date of the book. Although it is called the “Matrix” in the book, it really is the Internet. He coined the term cyberspace, after all.
Neuromancer isn’t always an easy read (although it is a very good read), and cyberpunk isn’t that popular of a genre, but it is an important book. It is one of those that you kind of feel embarrassed about not having read, so if you haven’t already please add it to your list.
Impossible Things by Connie Willis (1986-1992). I suppose you could say that in a short story collection the author has more chances to hit a successful prediction. Whether that is true or not, I found a few interesting ones in here. “Last of the Winnebagos” has characters accessing the “Lifeline” to pull up info on people, such as their schooling and employment history and hobbies. Sounds a bit like Facebook to me. “Even the Queen” has tablet computers, which isn’t that noteworthy since Arthur C. Clarke had those in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). But it also features a Mandela led South African government, and optional genetic surgery.
You also get things like a Humane Society run amok, PC (political correctness) run amok, and ruminations on who really wrote Shakespeare’s play, which is a debate (of sorts) that still goes on. The fact that there are multiple award winning stories in the book means that you shouldn’t read it for the predictions but for the great writing.
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (1959). Video games are something this blog hasn’t talked aboutenough. One of the premiere game franchises of recent times is Halo. When I read the first chapter of Starship Troopers I thought to myself “this is Halo”. Then I checked the copyright on the book and had one of those stereotypical jaw dropping to the floor moments. The beginning of the book details a human attack on an alien city, with soldiers wearing fully mechanized armor complete with an onboard computer system and multiple weapon packages. Just like in Halo. And the movie is better than you remember.
Star Trek. The many TV series and movies has become well known for using many types of technology that have become reality. Let me point you to a couple of pieces on that, here and here. I think it is a good reminder about how wonderful it is to live in this day and age and to have access to this stuff. 3D printing technology, for instance, is truly amazing and is revolutionizing the way people do things. And remember, there are lots of great Star Trek novels, such as Imzadiand Spock’s World.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953). Okay, this is a famous book. But did you remember the earbuds in it? Montag’s wife Millie uses them while watching her flat panel TVs.
The Wonderful Future That Never Was by Gregory Benford and the editors of Popular Mechanics. Okay, so they don’t always get it right. Popular Mechanics started out in 1902, and over the years gave many scientists and writers a chance to predict the future. This fun book compiles many of the misses, and gives credits to some of the hits too. You can get more recent issues of Popular Mechanics at the library.
The Stars My Destinationby Alfred Bester. This is a classic, and while the main new technology in it, teleportation, hasn’t come into reality it is very interesting to think about the ramifications of such a thing. In the book it causes economic disruption substantial enough to start wars. Similarly, when reading newer scifi it is interesting to contemplate how the fictional technologies portrayed might affect us if (or when) they become real.
The Voyage of the Space Beagleby A. E. Vogt. Besides the tech predictions it is fun to read books that inspired future stories. Such is the case with this one, which like many books of its time was actually a compilation of four stories originally published in magazines. The Ixtl seems awfully familiar to those who have seen the Alien movies. In fact it was familiar enough that Vogt sued. The Couerl has appeared in many Final Fantasy games, and also became the Displacer Beast in Dungeons & Dragons. Classic fantasy is rife with elements that made their way into D&D, as is evident by reading authors such as Vance, Moorcock, Howard, and of course Tolkien (which also led to litigation), but I suppose that is a conversation for a future blog.
I am going to steal some of Stephen’s thunder here. He writes often (and well) about history, but I also do a fair amount of nonfiction reading. Ever since I was a boy I was especially interested in World War II. As an adult I think I pretty much know all the standard facts about that great and terrible conflict, so what tends to grab my attention more now are some of the lesser known stories and trivia.
I started considering this more recently after I read Cajus Bekker’s Hitler’s Naval War, which to be honest is a rather dry tome. But one thing that Bekker did was focus on the lesser known aspects and skip over the more famous things, such as the sinking of the Bismarck. He assumed his readers would mostly be familiar with that, and I reckon he was right. So instead we learn things like the fact that early on in the war German destroyers would sail right up to the mouth of the Thames river to lay mines, despite British patrols and lighthouses. For a long time the British assumed that the mines were being dropped by planes. A minor detail, but one I found fascinating.
So in that vein I present to you six WWII trivia facts that I suspect many of you don’t know, and that I hope many of you find interesting.
The USS Houston disappears and then helps to build a famous bridge. The Houston was an American heavy cruiser sunk by the Japanese in March of 1942. She came to be known as the “Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast” for the way she skillfully fought in the early parts of the war. Outnumbered and outgunned, it was only a matter of time until she was sunk. When it finally happened, she was unable to send any signals, and all survivors were captured. The Navy immediately presumed her to be lost, but it was nine months until they could confirm it. The full story did not emerge until after the war, when surviving crewmembers were liberated from prisoner of war camps in…Burma? Indeed, that is were many of them ended up, some working on the bridge that was the inspiration for the epic movie The Bridge on the River Kwai.
German torpedoes were rubbish early in the war, for which Churchill is extremely grateful. German U-boats (submarines) wreaked havoc on Allied shipping in WWII, notably early on before effective tactics were developed to combat them. Some 3500 ships were sunk by them, but the tally could have been worse if not for the fact that, for a variety of reasons, the torpedoes they used were often defective. This was really driven home on October 30, 1939, when U-56 launched three torpedoes at the battleship HMS Nelson. All three hit, and all three were duds and failed to explode. On board the Nelson at the time was the current First Lord of the Admiralty and future Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
The US Navy spent weeks attacking a deserted island. Did you know that the Japanese invaded Alaska? Well, in a way they did. In June of 1942 they landed on the islands off Attu and Kiska, part of the Aleutian Islands of the coast of Alaska, as part of a failed diversion for the attack on Midway Atoll. The following May the US retook Attu, but at a high price. It was learned that the Japanese would fight to the last man. Therefore Kiska was targeted by a three week sustained barrage. The Navy fired 330 tons of shells and the Army Air Force dropped 424 tons of bombs. When troops landed on Kiska on August 15 they found the island abandoned. The Japanese had evacuated prior to the bombardment, using fog and darkness as cover. All the US attack did was damage what few things left that the Japanese hadn’t taken or destroyed.
Rome and Paris somehow avoided the fate of other European cities. Many European cities were heavily bombed and damaged during the war, especially the capitals of the main combatants. But Paris and Rome both were largely unscathed. How? Hitler gave direct orders for Paris to be destroyed by the Germans if the Allies attacked. The military governor of the city, Dietrich von Choltitz, ultimately disobeyed that order and surrendered the city mostly intact. It helped that the Allies had decided to avoid bombing the city as much as possible because of its historical and cultural significance…and the fact that it would have diverted much needed resources that could be used elsewhere. Rome was bombed a couple of times. However, when Allied forces approached the city (defended by Germans, since the Italians had already surrendered), negotiations took place that lead to Rome being declared an open city. The Germans were allowed to withdraw, and the city was liberated without further battle.
Many women served as combat pilots for the USSR. Actually, women served in many combat roles for the Soviets. While women did a number of wartime jobs for all the countries involved, they had the most “opportunities” to fight for the USSR. This included being pilots. The ladies flew 1000s of combat missions against the Germans. Moscow native Lydia Litvyak was the first female to shoot down an enemy plane, the first female ace, and is credited with the most kills by a woman. She was shot down and killed in 1943. A group of bomber pilots, flying old biplanes, came to be known as The Night Witches by the Germans.
Japan surrendered on 8/15/45, and signed the documents on 9/2/45, but the war continued past that for many, including prisoners of war. This was certainly a case in the Pacific Theatre, as word of the surrender took time to reach all of the scattered Japanese military outposts. In fact, some lone Japanese soldiers did not give up until the 1970s! This was even a plot point in an episode of Gilligan’s Island. The Batu Lintang prison camp in Borneo is another interesting example. It housed both Allied soldiers and civilian internees. Although the camp was notified of Japan’s surrender in late August, it was not liberated until September 11. A “death order” was found in the camp commander’s possession indicating that all of the inhabitants were to be killed on September 15, a full month after the “end” of the war. I like how the British officers imprisoned there constructed a radio (and later a generator to power it) and kept it hidden from the Japanese for over two years, only to reveal its existence to the camp commander when he himself was being taken away to prison.
Of course the library has a plethora of books about World War II. Many give an overview of the whole conflict while others cover specific aspects. A trend in newer books seems to be dealing with specific stories and details, and here are some of those.
Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. In 1991 divers off the coast of New Jersey found something they couldn’t believe: a sunken German U-boat. This sets in motion a quest to explore the wreck and find out which one it was and how it got there.
Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff. In November of 1942 a B-17 bomber crashed in Greenland. Zuckoff tells the story both of the attempts to rescue the crew, and his own involvement with finding the plane decades later.
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff. Another book about a plane crash by Zuckoff, this tells the story of a military plane that went down over New Guinea in May of 1945. The survivors were the first outsiders ever encountered by the Dani people, who were confused by the concept of clothes.
World War II on the Air by Mark Bernstein and Alex Lubertozzi, CD narrated by Dan Rather. Not only does this book talk about how reporters brought the war into people’s lives via the radio, but it comes with a CD that includes many of these broadcasts.
Rescue at Los Bañosby Bruce Henderson. This new book tells of the daring raid made to liberate the Los Baños prisoner of war camp in the Philippines. The mission used both US soldiers and Filipino guerillas to free more than 2000 inmates from almost certain death.
Google has revolutionized the way we access information. You used to have to navigate pages of links and categories (and as a webmaster, submit your site to several search engines for indexing if you wanted your site to be found!) and search results weren’t listed by relevancy- they were ordered by how many pages linked to them (anyone remember webrings and link exchanges? “link to my website and I’ll link to yours!”) or in a seemingly random order. And before that, you had to know the exact address to go to the site at all.
Now we have web crawlers, spiders, bots- You don’t even really have to know what you’re searching for anymore! Google will guess your search before you even finish typing and can even understand text-speak (the, often annoying, use of abbreviations and slang to shorten written communications). Complex algorithms bring you the most relevant search results first- you’ll seldom need to leave the first page of search results to find what you’re looking for.
So, why do we need libraries now that Google and the internet is so great?
Not all information is available online- or free
Don’t get me wrong- you can find almost everything online. There are communities out there for almost any interest you can imagine where you can connect with people and get information, even if you can’t find it via search results.
When I was learning bookbinding, there was a ton of information, pictures, and videos of people demonstrating a variety of techniques. And while I learned a lot watching all these folks, there was still a problem- you had to determine who was an expert and who was an amateur. The person telling you “Copy paper/Elmer’s glue/etc is fine! I use it in all my binding projects” doesn’t mention (and probably doesn’t know!) that these products can make bookbinding more difficult, frustrating, and make the end result look… well, less desirable.
It wasn’t until I checked out a book from the library that I started getting more information about paper-grain, the value of “archival quality” products (how to ensure that the projects I made would last), etc. When you’re starting any project, you don’t know what you don’t know! What my 10th grade English teacher told me really was true- “Internet sources are fine! But you need to be sure you’re getting your information from a reliable source and you also need to have book sources to back it up!”
Often (and this may change as we become an increasingly online society) the experts in any given field are still writing books as a way to monetize their expertise (and why shouldn’t they?) rather than giving it away for free on the internet. Even then, as libraries already offer free public access to a myriad of online services and digital information, libraries will most likely be the gateway through which people access new methods for pay-gated content; free access to information for the public has long been the mission of public libraries.
One thing some people often forget is that not everyone has a computer or internet access at home- or the knowledge needed to utilize these tools effectively. In Western North Carolina, we have areas that don’t even have the option of getting broadband internet. I live right at the edge of where DSL service is available in Franklin. If I lived a little further down the road, my only options would be dial-up (think back to how long it used to take to load an image- let alone a youtube video!) or satellite internet (that may or may not work, depending on how the trees grew in that spring).
Poverty is also an issue in WNC communities. In addition to providing free, public access computers the library provides a multitude of classes that can help build job-seeking skills and help build confidence with technology. Check out our computer classes if you need assistance with basic computer use, social media, image editing, and more. Our library programs also offer an excellent opportunity to make community connections and build inter-personal networks.
Further Reading on the Importance of Libraries
If I had to touch on everything the library does, this blog post could run on indefinitely! If you need more convincing or more information about the value of public libraries, check out some of these articles:
We have people tell us everyday what the library means to them, and how important it is in their lives; do you have a “library story?” What’s your favorite thing about your local library or your favorite way to use your library card?
Don’t forget to show your support for Macon County Public Library at “Books on Tap,” a fundraiser sponsored by the Friends of the Macon County Public Library to be held at the Lazy Hiker Brewing Company on October 1st from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.
The Gallipoli campaign was a side bar in 1915, the second year of the First World War . Gallipoli is a peninsula in northwest Turkey on the west side of a waterway leading from the Black Sea past Istanbul (it was called Constantinople in 1915) to the Adriatic Sea. Because Russia was fighting on the side the Allies in the Great War, Turkey chose to side with the Central Powers and blocked Russia’s outlet through the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles to the Adriatic Sea. To restore Russia’s outlet to the west, and to take the focus off the stalemate on the Western Front, the Allies planned an attack on the Gallipoli and the Dardanelles in the spring of 1915.
The chief advocate of this plan was Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty¹. At first, a fleet of obsolete British and French battle cruisers and battleships would attack the Turkish forts lining both sides of the Dardanelles, and with accompanying minesweepers would force their force way to the Turkish capital. But, with help their German allies, the Turkish army had strengthen the fortresses and laid mines in the waterway. As a result, the naval attack failed: three ships were sunk, one with over 600 men on board, and several more damaged.
The next step was to land troops on the Cape Hellos end of the peninsula and it’s western shore, where Churchill and his colleagues didn’t think there would be much opposition. But the Turks were dug in the high cliffs overlooking the beaches where the landings were taking place. The Allied force, including members of the French Foreign Legion, Anzac troops from Australia and New Zealand, as well as British forces from India and the Western Front, was pinned down as soon as it landed. The casualties were high at the outset and continued in this vein for the next eight months. The planning for this expedition was faulty, and the commanders chosen to lead it were not given the resources necessary to carry out the objectives of their mission. As a result, two offenses, one soon after the landings and one in August, failed with even heavier casualties. Eventually, like on the Western Front, Gallipoli devolved into a stalemate with both sides ensconced in their trenches, until February 1916, when all Allied personnel were withdrawn.
The British Government, looking for a scapegoat, after the initial attack, sacked Churchill from his post as First Lord of the Admiralty, but kept him in the government. The August failure toppled the government and Churchill, who was also out, was offered a command in the Western Front in Belgium. At end of the war, he was eventually was posted to the Colonial Office, where he presided over the founding of the modern Iraq. In writing about Churchill during World War II, Max Hastings said this, “Churchill believed himself exceptionally fitted for the direction of armies, navies, and air forces. He perceived no barrier to such a role in the fact that he possessed neither military staff training nor experience of higher field command.”² In this context, he evidently didn’t learn his lesson after Gallipoli. More on Churchill in my next blog.
¹The political head of the Royal Navy. The person holding this office was a Member of Parliament, part of cabinet and served under the Prime Minister.
²Max Hastings, Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, p. 102.
I really fell in love with music at the same time that many of us do, as a teenager. I’d heard plenty of music in our house before then, from Big Band to the Beatles to Kiss to The Statler Brothers, but it took a bit for music to really grab hold of me, and to develop my own musical identity. Over the following decades that identity has shifted and morphed some, but not to any great degree. I like what I like, and you should too.
See, that is the thing. Music is a great unifying force, but we do allow it to be divisive as well. It shouldn’t really matter to me what music you enjoy, even if I think it is lousy. Often we will disregard an entire genre just on principal. Not cool. The fact is that music is something we should all be able to agree to disagree on. Let’s give that a try, shall we? I myself do not care for Led Zeppelin.
I know, that seems almost sacrilegious, and it nearly caused a familial rift with my father-in-law. But here is the thing: I freely acknowledge that Zeppelin is a great and influential band. Just because I don’t like Robert Plant’s vocal stylings doesn’t mean I’m saying that they are no good. We should try to focus on the positives, not the negatives.
So, music biographies. There are a lot of them. We have dozens of them here at this library. Plus the ones that don’t technically qualify as biography, since biographies are about a person and a band isn’t a person. Books about bands go in the music section (782 in Dewey). I thought about some different ways I could approach this, and in the end decided it was about the music. Each title I selected is therefore accompanied by a song tidbit. Hopefully you will be inspired to read (and listen to) not necessarily these books (artists), but any that strike your fancy.
David Bowie: Starman by Paul Trynka. It took Bowie a while to make it big in the US. One of his earliest hits on this side of the pond was “Young Americans”, from his 1975 album of the same name. Backup vocals on the track were provided by a young American (pun totally intended) who would go on to have some success of his own: Luther Vandross.
Passion is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash by Pat Gilbert. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” was The Clash’s first #1 single in the UK, albeit a decade after it was first released. It reached #17 on its initial release, and only #45 in the US. You can hear Mick Jones yell “Split!” on it, as he was startled by Joe Strummer during the recording session. The title of the song presaged the band’s breakup.
In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, & Duran Duran by John Taylor with Tom Sykes. Taylor is the bass player for Duran Duran, and has some tales to tell. Note that I say “is” and not “was”. Many people view them as an 80s band, but they have never stopped recording or touring. In fact a new album drops shortly. One of their first hits was the iconic “Girls On Film”, written by lead singer Andy Wickett. Bonus points to all of you going “wait, what? Who?” Wickett was soon replaced by Simon Le Bon, and was paid £600 for the rights to the song.
Take Me To The River by Al Green with Davin Seay. Green’s “Love and Happiness” was co-written with Teenie Hodges, who started on it in between intimacies with his girlfriend and watching wrestling. Loyal readers will know we are all about the wrestling here. Hodges sang (yes, sang) the guitar riff to Green while they were in the car, and they recorded it that same night.
Enter Night: A Biography of Metallica by Mick Wall. Once upon a time I didn’t like Metallica, but I got better. The band broke big commercially with their fifth album, and one of the singles off of it, and their first true (power) ballad, was “Nothing Else Matters”. Singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield wrote the song one handed, sort of. He was on the phone with his girlfriend, and was using his other hand to pluck out a new melody on his guitar, which became this song. Hetfield is also notorious for writing the lyrics to his songs well after the music is written. Some Metallica demos feature him just sort of humming along for songs that have no words yet.
Dark Star: The Roy Orbison Story by Ellis Amburn. Orbison was at the zenith of his success in the early 60s, as he put 22 songs onto the Billboard Top 40 in those years. His song “In Dreams” was a bigger hit in the UK, propelling him into a tour with an up and coming band he had never heard of called The Beatles. He followed that up with a tour of Australia along with some chaps called The Rolling Stones.
Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business by Dolly Parton. It is odd now to look back and realize that Parton was once a partner. She started performing as a child, and found success early. She was asked by country singer Porter Wagoner to join his syndicated television and road show. Fans of his program were slow to warm to her, and some thought that she would never go any farther. Her single “Jolene”, which she based off of real life experiences, proved the critics wrong, and her stardom was assured. Now, who’s up for Dollyworld?
Slash by Slash with Anthony Bozza. Slash has played guitar for many projects over the years, but he is still best known for his work with Guns N’ Roses. One day in the studio he was messing around on his guitar doing warm up exercises when he came up with an interesting riff. Although he didn’t think much of it, the rest of the band did and had him play it again. Hearing this going on, lead singer Axl Rose started writing lyrics (about his girlfriend, Erin Everly, daughter of one of The Everly Brothers) and voila, a song was born. That song was “Sweet Child O’ Mine”.
Girl In A Band by Kim Gordon. Gordon was the bass player and a vocalist for Sonic Youth. Back in the day she was asked to interview LL Cool J for Spin magazine and the two artists clashed. In fact, they clashed severely enough that it inspired a song, “Kool Thing”. The song has several references to LL, and the video director kept the theme going by styling it similarly to LL’s “Going Back To Cali” video. On top of all that, Chuck D from Public Enemy provides guest vocals on the track.
It’s Only Rock’n’roll: The Ultimate Guide to the Rolling Stones by James Karnbach and Carol Bernson. “Gimme Shelter” was a fitting song to come out at the end of the 60s. Songwriters Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (both of whom have their own biographies) channeled the turmoil of the era into a song suitable for the end of the world. Richard said that his guitar fell apart on the last take, “as if by design”.
Dreamgirl: My Life As A Supreme by Mary Wilson, with Patricia Romanowski and Ahrgus Juilliard. Sometimes success comes quickly. Sometimes. The first handful of singles that The Supremes released failed to find that success. In fact, they came to be known as the “No-hit Supremes” around the Motown offices. The ladies didn’t have high hopes for their next song, feeling that it might not have the hook to make it a hit. “Where Did Our Love Go” did in fact have that hook, and was their first #1 single. The next four singles they put out followed suit.
Does The Noise In My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler with David Dalton. Tyler is the singer of Aerosmith, and there are a legion of stories about that band’s rollercoaster career. The one I like best is about what is probably their most famous song, “Walk This Way”. You probably think this is where I do a Run-D.M.C. name drop, but you’d be wrong. No, what I like is where the name of the song comes from, which is from a line in the movie Young Frankenstein. I may not always like Aerosmith’s songs, but I have to give props to Mel Brooks fans.
Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters by Robert Gordon. Maybe this is an obvious one, but here goes. Waters recorded “Rollin’ Stone” in 1950 as a variation on the oldie “Catfish Blues”. How did his version come out? Both Rolling Stone magazine and The Rolling Stones band are named after it.
Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams by Paul Hemphill. Thinking of Williams might make you lonely and tearful…wait, wrong song. The story goes that he wrote “Your Cheatin’ Heart” thinking about his first wife whilst driving with his second one. She wrote down the lyrics on the passenger seat for him. I’m assuming it was a pickup truck.
Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream by Neil Young. Sometimes famous tunes come about in peculiar ways. Young’s “Heart of Gold” features acoustic instead of electric guitars. Why? He had hurt his back and couldn’t play the heavier electric one, hence some “softer” songs as he healed up. James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt provide backing vocals on this one.
Most of the adult book collection at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City is housed in the main reading room, but if you step to the right, go through the opening framed by the flags into the room that houses the reference collection, you will find the Jim Casada Outdoor Collection (JCOC). Casada grew up living next door to Marianna Black, the founder of the Bryson City library. He went on to become a history professor while not losing his love for hunting and fishing he learned from his father. At present, retired from the classroom, he contributes a weekly column to the Smoky Mountain Times that combines local history and outdoor lore. The book collection, named for him, consists of books from his personal library on hunting, fishing, other types of outdoor recreation, geography, history, biography, science, and travel he donated to the library. Instead of discussing the whole collection I am going to spotlight a few individual books of general interest that can be only found in the JCOC.
For example, Mary Roberts Rinehart was better known as a writer of mystery novels, but her inclusion in the JCOC is a non-fiction work detailing her experiences camping, mainly in the western United States. The book titled Out Trail is obviously a collection of articles Mrs. Rinehart had published in Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan in the early 1920s. A greater part of the book describes a automobile trip she took into the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona with about twenty other people. When reading her descriptions, one has to remember she was doing this almost a hundred years ago when highways were not what they are today. One other chapter details a trip she made with a female companion and an armed escort into the Mexico of Pancho Villa, hunting long horn sheep in or about 1917.
Mary Roberts Rinehart is not only adventurous woman with a presence in the JCOC. Gertrude Bell, an English woman, who spent most her life in in the Middle East, first as traveler, then as an archeologist, before become a British spy in that region during World War I, During that period she was friends with Lawrence of Arabia and Winston Churchill, while he was in the Colonial Office. Along with Churchill, Bell is given credit for the founding of the modern Iraq. H. V. F. Winstone’s biography of Bell, titled Gertrude Bell is almost 40 years old and was published well before Western governments’ current interest Iraq’s politics.
If you were wondering why Texas was having trouble with flooding recently, you can deduct at least part of the reason from reading Verne Huser’s Rivers of Texas. He points out the four branches of the Trinity River have been prone to flooding. Plus the fact that this river travels through the two populous urban areas of the state: Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, where development is still going in the floodplain and you have a recipe for disaster as happened this year. Beside the Trinity, Huser discusses the other river basins in the state.
I have feeling A Boy and His Gun , by E. C. Janes has been a classic in its genre ever since it was published in 1951. The author gives advice in this book to all boys interested in hunting with guns that he first gave to his nephew, who was killed in World War II. Janes goes into details of a care and safe use of different kinds of guns from air rifle to the shotgun. The reader also learn which game are better hunted with which weapon.
Jerry Dennis fills The River Home: an Angler’s Explorations with essays and stories about fishing. Dennis lives near Traverse City, Michigan on the Old Mission Peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan. The essays and stories in this are not restricted to the United States for settings: Dennis goes fishing in Iceland and southern Chile, for example. Some of his experiences are humorous, such the couple he and fishing buddy ran into fishing in the all together in the Yellowstone River.
Last, I’ll close with a book filled with quotes related to the outdoor pursuits that the greater part of Jim Casada’s collection targets: Passages: The Greatest Quotations From Sporting Literature published by “Sporting Classics,” edited by Chuck Wechsler and Jim Casada. In this book you will see quotations from such notables as Zane Grey, Robert Ruark, Herbert Hoover, Jose Ortega y Gasset, William Faulkner, and some writers the average reader is not familiar with .
I hope the above listed books will whet some reader’s appetite The next time you are the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City, visit the Jim Casada Outdoor Collection. I’ll bet you will come away with something to read.
Once upon a time I mostly read books from one literary genre: fantasy. As the years have gone by I have found that I read a much wider range of things. In fact, I voted for several genres in last weeks poll. I don’t have a master plan here. I read whatever I come across that looks interesting, or is recommended to me. In fact I even went so far recently as to tell my wife to stick a book in my hand, and that is what I would read next. She did, and I read it. It was a good book, and it was something that I probably wasn’t going to read otherwise.
This is the main point of this post: reading things you wouldn’t normally read. It is easy enough for me to say you should try reading outside your comfort zone, but that doesn’t really help you do it now, does it? Oh, and if you only ever read, say, novels about 18th century conflicted Persian poets, than that is fine. You can keep reading those. But for the rest of us it is time for…Genre Bingo!
The goal here is to read a book from each of the genres in a line across, down, or diagonally on the genre bingo card. Once you complete that line, you win! The Free Space space isn’t actually free. You still have to read a book, but you can read any sort of thing you want and count it for that space. There is no set order, and there is no time limit. You can read 20 mysteries before you get around to reading a book of short stories if you want. It can even be a book of mystery short stories. However, each book can only be counted for one space.
I know what you are thinking at this point. You are thinking “this is just the greatest and coolest, but how on earth am I going to find books from genres I am not familiar with?” Good question. I’m glad you asked. (Also, Genre Bingo is totally not my idea. Lots of people have done it before.) You can always ask your Friendly Neighborhood Library Practitioner for genre help and advice, of course. That is always a great option. You can also use this handy list of links to genre books that I am providing.
Fiction Essentially, any book that doesn’t fit into a specific genre. Most best sellers will fit this category.
A personalized prize from me. (Seriously. Send me an email at email@example.com with the details of your winning genre bingo card and I will do my best to send you a real life prize.)
Am I going to play genre bingo myself? Sort of. I think I am going to continue my reading habits as normal and keep track of what bingo spaces I hit on. In a year, if I remember, I will revisit this and see how many I got.
As a finale I present to you an alternate bingo card. Instead of genres we have random types of books to read. Same rules and prizes as above. Feel free to share your thoughts and bingo progress in the comments. and Happy Reading!
As a lead in for next week’s Genre Bingo post, I am doing a poll about what genres we all read. If you don’t see one that you read, you can write it in at the bottom. You can also choose more than one. This poll will remain open for one week, so get voting!