Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Move Update: December 21, 2016

I'll re-read this years from now for a few laughs.  Or not...
Fox Relocation - Excellent Job!

Recipe: Traditional Eggnog

My friend and fellow author John B. Meilink mentioned that he's never had eggnog.  To help him along his way, I'm publishing my dear old mother's secret recipe for delicious, homemade eggnog - which is the complete opposite of the chemically altered contagion anyone can buy in the store.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Happy Bill of Rights Day 2016

In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt as national Bill of Rights Day.  Anyone not employed by the government should get this as a paid holiday; government workers, and in particular elected officials, should report to work as usual but should work for free; that is, this would be an unpaid work day for them.  Kind of a way of paying back the Great Unwashed (Deplorables and Non-Deplorables alike) for the cushy jobs they hold.

If you'd like to peruse the Bill of Rights, you may do so at the Cornell University Law School - Legal Information Institute. I think these days we should be paying particular attention to the freedom of speech.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Moving 12/1/16

The main pieces of furniture are being moved today.  Josh and his crew from Fox Relocation are doing an excellent job, and by 1:30 PM I expect to be unpacking in Columbus.

The move is not without stress, but thanks again to John Fischer for his help in disconnecting my gas operated clothes dryer.  I thought it was pure electric, but it turned out to be gas.

Off we go!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanks and Good Night

My thanks to political commentary and philosophy blogger Glen Filthie over at Filthie's Thunderbox, who enjoyed my sample chapter and gave me an unsolicited plug along with some random commentary on political correctness and the effect on fiction writing today. Check out Scenes We'd Like To See as it amuses you to do so.

I read Glen on a regular basis and find him an agreeable, easy read.  Thanks Glen!

 - W.L. 'Bill' Emery

WWII Newsreel Featuring Bill Emery

My father served in the US Coast Guard during the second world war.  He didn't like it much, the environment either being too hot or too cold, with Spartan accommodations.  For basic training he was stationed at the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida.  When I visited St. Augustine (I lived in Jacksonville, FL), I once took a tour that included the renowned Ponce de Leon.  When the tour guide pontificated about the luxuries of the Ponce, I thoroughly confounded her by announcing that my father had stayed at the Ponce and found it oppressively hot and overcrowded, and the room service that was so poor no one used it.  While our guide was sputtering, I mentioned that the U.S. Government had paid for the entire stay, including meals and a host of activities.  I added that my father told me that the food was terrible, the worst he'd ever had, and the activities were even worse than the food.  I had the tour group's interest by that time, and completed my impromptu lecture by stating that the worst part about his entire stay was that they had some nut that would get up before dawn and blow a trumpet, waking everyone up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Request for Criticism on Untitled 22-11-2016

Presented for the first time anywhere is Chapter One of an untitled story I'm sort of working on.  Read this or not as you like, but I would appreciate any thoughts or criticisms you, the reader of this hound, might have about the offering.  I'm not really interested in your random thoughts about the election, your uncle Charlie and his drinking habits, or your current financial state and how I might help you.  Just what you read below the fold, please.

Standard Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is most likely accidental.  Your mileage may vary.  Et cetera, ad libitum, ad nauseam, et alii...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Dead Saturday

I'm supposed to be busy packing.  I'm not.  I took two antihistamine/decongestant  pills last night, and as a result I'm walking around in a chemically induced haze.  My morning coffee has had no effect at all.

Facebook Friend Request
The highlight of my day thus far is a facebook friend request from Slainie Landry, someone I don't know, have never met, and have no friends in common with.  I'm not sure just why I think this is the opening gambit for a mail order bride scam, but that's the thought that occurs to me.  I suppose I'm just a naturally misogynistic, suspicious old white man by nature.

Sitting next to me is a gift certificate to Bass Pro and another for the American Table restaurant.  I think it's time for a short road trip.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The China Cabinet

When I moved into my new condominium, I knew that I'd need a china cabinet.  Fortunately for me, I found just the thing on Craig's List in Toledo. Between me, Frank, and a host of aged manual laborers from Bethany Community Fellowship church, we got the cabinet into a U-Haul truck, carted it from Perrysburg back to Sylvania, and from there down to Columbus.  Unloading it was just as much fun as Frank and John could stand for one day - Frank said his fun meter was pegged out for the week, and John didn't care to see the cabinet again.

John, the Curio Cabinet, and Frank
I'm blessed to have Frank and John, because without their help none of this would have ever happened.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November Election 2016

Donald Trump is now almost officially the President Elect, but as the old saying goes, The show ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.  My apologies to any fat ladies reading this who are offended.  Anyone else who is offended can stop reading and go somewhere else.  Go read Fred On Everything, and discover the mysteries of Nordic Genius and the Central Heat Theorem: Adventures in Genetics.

Donald Trump Wins

Monday, November 7, 2016

Surprise at Home

Since I'm moving (Sylvania to Columbus) one load at a time, I have to spend a certain amount of time in Sylvania packing up.  When I get a load of boxes packed, I get a U-Haul truck, load it up, drive to Columbus the next day, unload, return the truck to U-Haul, and drive back to Sylvania again.  The only reason this schedule is possible is because of Frank and John Fischer, both of whom do the lion's share of the actual heavy lifting.  Last time, that portion was most of the entire load, and they worked like government mules to get the truck unloaded.

Found on My Door at Misty Way in Columbus
During the time I'm in Sylvania, mail and other messages tend to pile up in Columbus. I found this little gem taped to my front door last Saturday.  Nice, huh?

Being a civic minded, helpful sort of person, I called Asend Recovery and learned that they were trying to contact the previous resident of my condo.  I explained that I'd just bought the place, and that while I lacked a forwarding address for the previous owner, I did have a telephone number.  Asend Recovery explained that they were in the same shape I was, knowledge-wise, and that the target of their investigation was proving to be somewhat uncooperative regarding voice mail messages and requests to call them back.  I'm somewhat sympathetic, but I'm of no practical help.

I called Deputy Bailiff J.D. Foster and left a message.  Ms. Foster returned my call, was very pleasant and thanked me for my help.  I went through my explanation again, and was reassured that I would no longer be bothered by their office, nor did I have to worry about bad people showing up at my door at odd hours of the morning due to the previous resident's shenanigans, whatever they might be.

Somehow, I don't think I've heard the last of this. 

Monday, October 31, 2016


It's 4:00 AM EST, and I can't sleep.  I've got a ton of stuff to accomplish tomorrow, and being fuzzy headed all day is not going to help.  I'm beginning to think I should pay my favorite witch doctor a visit and see what he has to say.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dancing on Halloween (2016)

Ellen was in town last night, so we decided to get some dinner and then go dancing.  Dinner was at Ciao!, an excellent Italian restaurant located at Monroe Street and US 23.  I had scallops and Ellen had white fish; both were outstanding.

Matt Miller had a Halloween costume party at his studio, which was excellent fun.  Here's the evening in a dozen photos or less.

10 South Holland Sylvania Rd
Toledo, Ohio 43615
(Hill Ave in the Martin School Bld, Top Floor)
(419) 654-8650
Matt Miller, owner/operator

Our Host, Matt Miller
As you can see, Matt is having an identity crises combined with a bad hair day.

Here's a nice couple we met at the party.  I happened to have my camera, and they wanted a souvenir photo.  Here you go, guys!  Regretfully, I didn't get their names, for which I apologize.

My Ellen, Looking Quite Ravishing
Ellen and I
No Caption
We had a great time and we're looking forward to Matt's next party.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Film Review: Papa Hemingway in Cuba

If you haven't seen Papa Hemingway, pick a nice movie night, settle in with your favorite alcoholic beverage and enjoy yourself.  The film was shot in Cuba at Hemingway's home, and although the critics gave it poor reviews the great unwashed seemed to like it just fine.

This is the true story of a naïve junior journalist, Ed Myers, who writes a fan letter to Hemingway and ends up spending a good deal of time with the man and his friends and family on the island of Cuba.  It's a long way from the sort of affecting, syrupy sweet story that one might expect, and instead shows what life was like with the a drunken, volatile, literary genius and his equally mercurial wife.

You can find more reviews on Papa Hemingway in Cuba (2015) on IMDB and on Papa Hemingway in Cuba (2015) on Rotten Tomatoes. I highly recommend the film.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Why are some writers obsessed with cats?

This short vignette was stolen from Michael DiSibio, edited by yours truly, and used without permission.

  • A cat takes more interest in your writing than your spouse or your boss.
  • Cats don't mind watching you write for hours on end. In fact, they find it comforting and will fall asleep nearby.
  • A cat will take a keen interest in the cursor moving on the screen if it catches their attention.
  • Cats love keyboards.
  • If you leave your writing post for a few minutes and return, your cat will be sitting on your chair and will look at you and say, "Are you really going to keep up this pitiful charade of writing, or do I have to show you how it's done?"
  • Like writers, cats don't really have time for full meals. They nibble throughout the day.
  • A cat's measure of success, like writing, is inversely proportional to the expenditure of energy needed to get things done.
  • When a cat has no more interest in what is going on at the keyboard, he walks away and finds someplace to sleep, as does the writer.
  • If you work all night to solve a particular plot requirement and you succeed, your cat will come running into the kitchen and celebrate with you at 4:00am with a bowl of cream.

And that's why some writers are obsessed with cats.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The End of the Ballroom Matter

As some of you know, I attended the grand opening of Toledo Ballroom in Sylvania, OH on Saturday, which resulted in the owner/operator Kent Lautzenheiser sending me an email Sunday, stating that I think that it's in the best interest of our students, our staff, and the studio that you no longer attend our events and parties at Toledo Ballroom. I wrote about it here, Thrown Out of the Bar - Or Ballroom.  I've been out of town for the past few days, and haven't had time to deliver a considered response.

Since then I've had a lot of support from my friends, expressing their surprise, shock and outrage at Kent's unwarranted action. I'm also given to understand that I'm not the only one Kent has treated this way, which in hindsight is not really surprising.

First of all, I thank all my friends for their support. Their opinions, advice, and kind words mean a great deal, and are a real blessing to me. Thank all of you very much for your support.

As for the insufferable Kent Lautzenheiser, I refuse to allow him to rent space in my head. The man could have come to me in person, but instead he sent me an email message. That labels him a coward. Then there's the fact that he invited me to his grand opening, welcomed me in person, and thanked me for coming. That makes him duplicitous, to put it politely.

I suppose I could continue this diatribe, but instead I'll be satisfied to give him the same treatment a dog gives a fire hydrant. Kent Lautzenheiser is his own worst enemy. His aberrant behavior will eventually catch up to him, and he'll go bankrupt and quietly fade away.

My only real concern is that Kent will treat others the same way he treated me. When that happens, I hope the victim will know that he (or she) is in good company, and won't waste time or energy feeling rejected.  Instead, give Kent the same treatment I'm giving him.

My other concern is that I wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm the sort of person who would just stop showing up at a regular venue without so much as a see-you-later. I'm not, and I shall miss seeing all of you very much. I'm in the process of moving to Columbus, Ohio, where I've been assured I'll be made welcome at the studios and dance clubs there.

Naturally, I don't recommend Toledo Ballroom to my friends or family. There are several alternatives which offer quality dance instruction and a more congenial atmosphere:

The Dance Clinic
The Dance Clinic on Facebook
10 South Holland Sylvania Rd
Toledo, Ohio 43615
(Hill Ave in the Martin School Bld, Top Floor)
(419) 654-8650
Matt Miller, owner/operator

Paulette's Studio of Dance
Paulette's Studio of Dance on Facebook
4853 Monroe Street, Building B
Toledo, OH 43623
(419) 654-3262
Paulette, owner/operator

The Ballroom Company
The Ballroom Company on Facebook
2319 Detroit Ave
Maumee, Ohio
(419) 893-1850
Gil Aromas, owner/operator

Alfredo's Studio of Dance
Alfredo's Studio of Dance on Facebook
5224 Renwyck Dr
Toledo, Ohio
(419) 536-3243
Alfredo Horna, owner/operator

I've know all these people for years, some for more years than either of us care to remember, and all offer good quality instruction at a reasonable price.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thrown Out of the Bar - Or Ballroom

Getting right to the point, this post is about:

6365 Monroe Street
Sylvania, OH 43560
(419) 690-3897
(Located in the same shopping plaza as Little Caesars)

Owned and operated by Kent Lautzenheiser (Nash)

I worked at Toledo Ballroom from January 1, 2016 through June 19, 2016. I taught group classes, and generally enjoyed it.  The students all said they enjoyed it, and they seemed to learn.  Then on June 23, 2016, I received an email from Kent (the owner) that stated, in part:
I feel that it's time for you to "hang up you hat" as far a being a dance instructor at Toledo Ballroom. You need to be able to enjoy yourself and not over do it. And I need to have a staff who can work a whole dance social or group class, on a consistent basis, without physically having a hard time making it through the event.
Fine. I'm relocating to Columbus anyway, and I have good days and better days health-wise. Besides, it's his studio, and if he doesn't want me to work for him, that's his decision.

In the intervening months, Kent moved his studio from Reynolds Rd to its current location on Monroe St., about ten minutes away from me.  I attended a few Wednesday night practice parties there, and was always made welcome.

Last Saturday (10/15/16) was Kent's grand opening, which was open to the public. I attended, danced with everyone, and both Kent and his mother Judy welcomed me when I arrived and thanked me for coming when I left at the end of the evening.  Everyone was quite congenial.

This morning I found this little gem in my email, as sent at 11:49 PM Sunday night:

Hello Bill. After much consideration, I think that it's in the best interest of our students, our staff, and the studio that you no longer attend our events and parties at Toledo Ballroom. We thank you for your help in teaching for us in the past, but we feel that with you attending our events now, there is a definite conflict of interest. We would appreciate [it] if [you would] respect our decision and enjoy your dancing at the many other venues in the Toledo area. Thank You, and we wish you the best.
Kent Lautzenheiser-Nash
Perhaps I've offended someone, certainly unintentionally.  If so, I apologize for whatever offense I might have given.  As far as any conflict of interest, if there is a conflict it exists solely in Kent Lautzenheiser's somewhat neurotic imagination.

Toledo Ballroom belongs to Kent Lautzenheiser, and he's made it very clear that I'm not welcome there.  Believe me when I say that I never show up where I'm not welcome.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

While clearing out the familial estate, I discovered a VHS tape that I thought was worth digitizing.  This is Bill Emery (my father) riding his all-time favorite five-gaited mare, A Worthy Penny, in the Five-Gaited Amateur Championship class at the Brown County Fair at Georgetown, Ohio.

Dad is number 12 in the class.  My mother shot the video, and the man you can hear shouting encouragement is Tommy Clouse, a professional horse trainer and close friend.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the five-gaited horse, I'll offer this: Horses will do three gaits naturally; walk, trot, and canter (gallop or run).  The natural gait for a horse when he wants to get along down the road is the trot, which is a little rough to ride.  The other two gaits are man-made, and called the rack and the slow-gait. Both of these gaits are smooth and very easy to ride.  Horses tend to rack about as fast as they can trot, and slow gait a little faster than a walk.

Dad won the class, and as he makes his victory pass you may note that he holds the reins in one hand while Penny racks.  He's showing off a bit, as the other riders would need both hands on the reins to keep their horse at a rack.

Friday, October 7, 2016

General Announcement of Publication

My good friend and fellow author, John B. Meilink, has just published his third book, The Unruly Guitarist: "Thank you, Modesto, and Good Night!". I haven't read it yet, but will just as soon as I find an afternoon or two when a dozen or more critical projects are not demanding my time and effort.

The author is a professional musician, and when he isn't holding a piece of wood in each hand and hitting stuff with them, he's living the life of a musician.  Although he might deny it, many of the situations in this book are based on real life events.

I can't say it's an excellent read, since I haven't read it yet, but if it's anything like his first two books it's worth reading.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Birthday in Columbus 2016

Last Sunday (October 2nd) was my birthday; Wednesday (October 5th) is my brother Mike's birthday.  Naturally we tend to celebrate together, generally picking a day that's equally inconvenient for both of us.  We decided on Tuesday night, so when I finally got down to my condo in Columbus, what should I find?

Monday, October 3, 2016

RIP Lilly the Cat

Today I got some sad but not unexpected news.  Our old cat Lilly died while living in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.


Friday, September 30, 2016

A Blast From My Ballroom Past

I used to teach ballroom dancing for fun and very little profit.  Two of the nicest people you'll ever meet are Lee and Peggy Santos, who used to come to our studio and train us.  A few of us should have required a surcharge - aggravation pay, you understand.

One way or another, I found an article about Lee and Peggy in The Mountain Courier on Facebook. Here are a series of screen captures:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Painting the Condo, or The Odessy, Part 2

As promised, Frank and John returned on Saturday, September 24th, to finish painting my condominium.  If you haven't read the prequel to this incredible epic, here's some click bait for you: Painting the Condo, or The Odessy, Part 1. Although I truly believe the majority of readers will have the sense to just read Part 1 anyway, not everyone does.

I went out dancing with a good friend of mine on Friday night, and drove down to Columbus on Saturday, arriving well after Frank and John, who were already hard at work.  The good news started right away.

1868 Misty Way

Friday, September 23, 2016

Painting the Condo, or The Odessy, Part 1

On Sunday, September 18th, I went over to The Home Depot (3200 Secor Rd, Toledo, OH) to get a few paint samples. I'm going to have my condo painted, and my chief concern is paint selection. I have the innate sense of color coordination that one generally finds in a Russian bordello; Ergo, my plan is to buy some sample colors that I optimistically think will coordinate well together, then try them out and see if I'm still psychotic or if the medication has finally kicked in. I'm somewhat cheered by the fact that whatever I do, it won't be as bad as the former tenets, who put this monstrosity on the wall of the master bedroom, and then painted the place in some weird color not found in nature (or Sherwin Williams).

Sunday, September 18, 2016

There and Back Again, An Arduous Trip

I spent the last couple days in Columbus, and a harder, more arduous trip I haven't had since my younger brother screwed up the directions in Northern Wisconsin and I drove all night to get us home.  I started hallucinating at the end of the Wisconsin trip.

Ohio Scenery

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Late Night, Friday Night, Private Party

Being in the mood for a little drinking and dancing, and the Avenue Bistro having a small dance floor and a live band, I felt the opportunity for some much needed R&R was clearly at hand.  To make a perfect evening, I managed to entice Marlene Ward to join me.

Avenue Bistro
Music was provided by the musician/disc jockey DJ M-Sax, who I'd never heard before, but who has a very nice repertoire of jazz music, both Latin and Smooth.

DJ M-Sax
Marlene got several compliments on her dancing, and one lady was so impressed that she bought us a round of drinks.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Today I'm supposed to be packing, but I'm feeling a little beat.  Let's see how much I actually get done.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Last Night

I started off at Toledo Ballroom, 6365 Monroe Street, Sylvania, OH 43560, (419) 690-3897.  Proprietor Kent Nash has an excellent new studio, which I highly recommend.  When the party at Kent's place closed out, or I ran out of energy, a few of us repaired to Bar 145° and their outdoor patio.  The night was perfect for sitting outside and having a drink or two.

Today I'm beat to death.  I think I'm getting old.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lost Art

It has occurred to me several times that we have lost the art of the personal letter.  I haven't received an actual letter in years.  The closest thing to a real letter is a hastily scribbled missive on an amusing card from E.C. Boone, PhD.  That counts for something, I suppose, but it's not like the good old days at all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Meet John Kelly Gentry, Jr.

Meet John Kelly Gentry, Jr. But when you do, have your pistol out with the hammer pulled back and rest your index finger on the trigger.

Monday, August 15, 2016

On Bourbon Whiskey

A casual reader (one Glen Filthie of Filthie's Thunderbox) asked for my opinion on bourbon whiskey, which I am always glad to give.  Those of you who are teetotalers or who are on the wagon may skip the rest of this post.  The rest of you can sit back and relax whilst I pontificate on the wonders of bourbon whiskey.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

Security at Misty Way

The first thing I did after closing on my new home was get Mike to change the locks.  Mike came back from the hardware store with 30 pounds of metal and got to work.  Here are a couple pictures of the locks he pulled off.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

1868 Misty Way Photo Tour

Here's a photo tour of my new home, sans furniture. I haven't moved in as yet, but I intend to remedy that situation fairly soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Resignation from Bethany Community Fellowship

This post is of no concern to most people. I include it in the spirit of full disclosure, and to eliminate any misunderstandings or implications about my reasons for leaving Bethany Community Fellowship church.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Suggested Reading List

Here is a suggested reading list given to me by a friend, who optimistically suggested that these novels be consumed at the rate of one per week.  Between packing, closing the deal on a new home, and general aggravation, I think a more realistic rate might be one per month.

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

The Crossing by Michael Connelly

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

The Tooth Tattoo by Peter Lovesey

The Lion's Mouth: Hanne Wilhelmsen Book Four by Anne Holt

Icarus by Deon Meyer

Since Zeus has been incessantly bumping his head against my leg and meowing for the past 15 minutes, I'll have to go and see what his whimsical majesty is demanding from me this time.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Fun Ends - Temporarily

Back in June we had a nice thunderstorm with a good, stiff, breeze.  The following morning I discovered a brand new opportunity for getting some exercise in the out of doors and renewing my friendship with Frank and John Fischer - two stalwart young men with a passion for developing everyone's Puritan work ethic.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Possible New Home

Last Friday (7/8/16) I went down to Columbus to see a condominium, which I found to be in good repair and suitably priced.  On Saturday I made an offer, which was ultimately accepted.  Now we're down to the contingencies.

1868 Misty Way, Columbus, OH
If the place passes inspection, I'm going to interview the neighbors and see if any of them are members of a death metal band or prone to having drug fueled orgies every weekend.  If not, I've found my new home.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lilly's Reprieve

Yesterday I wrote that Lilly was euthanized (RIP Lilly), but today I found out that Lilly has gotten a reprieve.  Kim, Bob's wife, decided that she would take special care of Lilly and see if the veterinarian in Wisconsin could help her.

My brother and his family are moving from Brighton, Tennessee (a Northern suburb of Memphis) to Rice Lake, Wisconsin, which isn't large enough to be a suburb of anything, were there anything else around Rice Lake - which there is not.

But Kim thinks Lilly can be mended, and I hope she's right.  I'm also thinking that the veterinarian in Rice Lake is a better vet than the one in Memphis, who doubles as a pediatrician.  Well, kids, you know, always did remind me of primates, so I can see the crossover here.

Anyway, I am happy to get the good news.

Friday, July 8, 2016

R.I.P. Lilly

When my mother passed away, my brother and I concluded that his old cat Zeus wouldn't like living in Tennessee with 5 dogs and four other cats, and might not survive the trip.  Rose is in the same kind of shape, so he took Lilly.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I'm A Celebrity!

On the way to finding something else entirely (which I'll post if I should find it), I stumbled across this article from the Toledo Blade: Under The Hat of Jack Roush. The author, Rachel Lenzi, quoted me and almost got it right.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Questions of the Universe Answered

It seems that Terry Wagner on Facebook is tearing his hair out this morning over a few simple questions.  I've decided to help him out, mainly because I am, by nature, a kind and generous person.  I'm also a little bored.

Fireworks of the Past

This is a photo (used without permission) of the 'Cannon Cracker' that my father always talked about, and set off when he was a boy. The American Cannon Cracker was patented on July 7, 1885 by the Masten & Wells Fireworks Co of Boston, Mass. The cracker or salute has wooden end plugs and is 9½ inches long by 1¾ inches in diameter. Salutes over 5 inches long or over ¾ inches in diameter were banned from US trade in 1912.

Canon Cracker
The enormous size of this monster made it the short-lived prize possession of every boy in the United States; many dreamed of setting if off in church. My father used the metaphor 'like a cannon cracker in church' (coupled with a few expletives) to describe the accidental slamming of a door during a tranquil summer morning. I always wanted to know about the canon crackers, but he'd never describe them except to say they were big. I think he didn't want me to get any ideas I didn't already have.

Anyway, here it is. It used black powder for the explosive, and back when canon crackers were legal and fun, I'm certain that some little miscreant somewhere set one off in the rear of the sanctuary right in the middle of a particularly tedious sermon.

Not that I, personally, would ever find any amusement or pleasant diversion in such a nefarious activity... I wonder how young Pastor Alan would deal with that sort of interruption.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Book Promotion and What to Avoid

I ran across this article by accident, which describes a very bad experience by one author who hired a company to promote her latest publication.  The author is Linda Formichelli, and her latest work is How to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life - While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out With a Sharpie, which sound a lot like something I ought to read, but isn't.  For one thing, I already have a meaningful life, and if my life gets any fuller I don't think I'll be able to stand it.

Linda contracted with Insurgent Publishing to promote her book from ground zero into the NYT Bestseller stratosphere, which didn't happen.  The entrepreneur in question, Tom Morkes, denies responsibility and wrongdoing.  Linda doesn't agree with that, which you can read all about in two posts: Brave Author Outs Marketer Who Messed Up Big Time and How One Author Got Ripped Off and How You Can Avoid It.

Speaking for myself, I wouldn't have done any business with Insurgent Publishing, for the simple reason that I can't find a mailing address or phone number anywhere on their web site.  Another item I can't seem to find is a long list of testimonials from grateful authors and their contact information.  In fact, testimonials seem deuced hard to come by.

The real procedure that should be used with any promoter or advertiser is this: Listen to their presentation (their spiel), and get a number.  In the case of a book promotion, it's the number of books the company will help you sell, or cause to sell, if you use their service.  If you'll just sign on the dotted line... Then get the cost.  You summary is, "So you're telling me that if I spend x dollars with you, my book will sell y copies within the first 90 days of its release - and I need do nothing more than hand you x dollars and a book that's ready to publish."  As soon as you get an affirmation, put a caveat on the end of the agreement.  "I'll tell you what - if what you say is true, I'll pay you twice what you're asking.  And by that I mean you, personally.  But, should sales fall short of the promised number, I owe you nothing."

Watch them back off.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mom's Birthday Post

If Mom were still alive, she'd be 91 years old today (June 28, 1925 - July 8, 2015).  I decided to post a few photos of mom and her family, along with some explanation for anyone who is interested.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review: SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day (Author), Milo Yiannopoulos (Foreword)

SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police 
by Vox Day (Author), Milo Yiannopoulos (Foreword)

File Size: 3739 KB
Print Length: 236 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Castalia House (August 25, 2015)
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ISBN 9527065682

I just finished reading SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day (Author), Milo Yiannopoulos (Foreword).  This is required reading if you're involved in the modern business world. If you're independently wealthy and are positioned so as to be immune to social media attacks, it's optional reading.

Imagine that you're at a business meeting, or maybe an informal get-together of some sort. You make a joke about something - the upcoming election, the list of candidates, or maybe just one candidate - and everyone laughs.  Then bright and early the next morning your face is all over the Internet and you're being labeled a misogynist, a racist, and a pedophile. The number of hate messages in your email and social media accounts exceed the allocated size of your in box, and the company personnel director wants a meeting with you ASAP.  Congratulations, Ace. You've just been attacked by the SJWs, and if you're anything close to a rational human being, you have no idea what to do about it.

Vox Day outlines the phases of an SJW attack in great detail, cites several examples, then describes the counter attack that you, the victim, must make. He tells you what to expect from your friends, family, and co-workers, and explains how to cope with it. He also describes what you should be doing if you see this kind of attack happening to someone else.

This is not what I would call a light read. The information it contains is far too important to be skimmed over. But if you're going to thrive in today's world, reading SJWs Always Lie will tell you what you should know.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Origins Gaming Convention 2016 - Day Six

The last day of my summer vacation was the drive home.  We got as far as Delaware before coming to a dead stop.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Origins Gaming Convention 2016 - Day Three

Mike fixed breakfast for us - excellent!  This is typical of Mike, who always shows outstanding hospitality.  When we finally got our act together, we headed out to Origins only to discover (midway there) that one of us is suffering from memory loss, so it was back to the house to retrieve my ID badge which was hanging from the doorknob where I'd put it so as not to forget it.

Origins Gaming Convention 2016 - Day Two, Continued

Our final game of Day Two was played late in the evening at Mike's house.  Cthulhu Wars is a complex, high strategy board game featuring outsize miniature things from the Lovecraft series of the same name.  I was the King in Yellow and He Who Shall Not Be Named.

Hastur and the Yellow King

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Origins Gaming Convention 2016 - Day Two

Our first event of the day was 4778-Cthulhu Madness Matrix Game run by Rogue Judges.  It was a complete bust.  Cthulhu Madness is an extremely simple story telling game in which the players are given a set of characters, a location (Boston, MA in our case), and a very generalized path towards a conclusion.  The game might have worked if all the players were fairly creative adults, but if you add a precocious, special snowflake 12-year-old along with a few not terribly bright teenagers into the mix, well... let's be charitable and blame circumstances beyond our control.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Origins Gaming Convention 2016 - Day One

Our goal for day one was to pick up our Origins Official ID Pass and our preregistered game event tickets.  The process is that you buy these items online, weeks in advance.  When you arrive at Origins, you stand in line for the preregistration window and present your receipt to the nice volunteer manning the antique laptop, who laboriously looks up your name, and (if all goes well) gives you your Origins Gaming Convention packet.  Then you move along to another window to get your event tickets.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Origins Gaming Convention 2016 - Day Zero

Dave and I left Toledo around 1:00 and arrived at Mike's house around 4:00, mainly due to construction delays and associated traffic.  Mike was pleased to see us.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Real Estate and Truth in Advertising

Last Friday (June 3rd, 2016), I drove to Columbus to look at a condominium I hoped to purchase and eventually live in.  The list price was $86,500, which is within my means.  More importantly, the Home Owner's Association fee was $68 per month, meaning that it doesn't cost a fortune to live there, and the property taxes for 2015 were $1,290.  The pictures on the web looked good, so off we go.  Mind you, I'm still beat half to death from dealing with the tree that fell on the barn, but I'm going to make the drive anyway.  I'm enthused about this, as it looks like I've found a place to live.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Lord Provides

My thanks to brothers Frank and John Fischer for turning this:

At the Job Start

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Lemonade Stand is Closed

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  Right?  Words to live by, a tried and true saying, and other worn out clichés.  Except as of this afternoon the lemonade stand is closed, there is no reopening date, and this has nothing to do with the health department - which I suppose is a refreshing change.

Just look at this little surprise that was handed to me sometime last night.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sylvania Ohio Blues Festival 2016

I went to the Sylvania Blues Festival last Thursday, as held at the Chandler Cafe in downtown Sylvania.  The show started around 6:00 PM, but heavy weather moved in a little after 7:00.  I got back to my car in the proverbial nick of time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On Horses and Accidents

I stumbled across this article thanks to Deb Howatt, and was inspired to correct a few mistakes the author/editor made.  Unlike the author, I have no credentials or titles.  What I have is experience, having grown up on a working horse farm specializing in American Saddlebred show horses; Palominos, Three Gaited, Five Gaited, and Fine Harness.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Return to Bad Mannorz

There's an underground club in Temperance, MI which I've had occasion to visit more than once.  Named after the house band, I wrote about my experience here, in The Two Party System, which you can peruse or not as you like.

Last Friday night the planets fell out of alignment, and the unthinkable happened.  Three local authors were together at the same underground club, all at the same time.  Here's what life is like for the true Bohemian.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Riding With Mother by Momma Fargo, AKA Kathryn Marschalk Loving

Here's an excellent read.  The author, an ex-police officer from the State of Wyoming, takes her dear old mother in the passenger seat of her squad car for a first hand look at the dangerous, stressful life of a real policewoman.  Kathryn's goal is to show her mother what a self-sufficient, resourceful, and genuinely tough police officer she is.  What happens is hilarious!

Here's the link to Riding With Mother by Momma Fargo. Trigger warning: don't drink anything while you're reading this.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Cautionary Tale

I found this story of an uphill grind on the Internet this afternoon, but instead of shrugging the whole thing off as not my problem, I decided to respond and maybe save someone else a headache.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bike Ride on 4/18/16

We finally got some hot weather in Sylvania, and I decided to cheer myself up a little with a bike ride.  A kind of combination exercise and mental relaxation activity.  Here are a few highlights.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Old Writing

I've been following Charles G. Emery on Facebook, and generally enjoy his (re)posts.  One in particular caught my eye, Call me old-fashioned, but I'd rather hear your voice than read your texts.  I'd much prefer not to be pestered at all, thank you.

You see, back in the bad old days (here we go, right?) when dirt was a brand new thing and everyone had to walk to school barefoot for five miles in the snow, uphill both ways... we had the letter and the telephone.  Given that this was before AT&T angered the wrong people and got itself broken up, long distance calls were prohibitively expensive.  In fact, bear with me while I digress a moment.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Criticism, Critics, and the Wisdom to Ignore Them

I enjoy reading Sarah Hoyt's blog, and her latest communiqué reminded me of something that happened to me some time back, and that had a brief impact on my writing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Foster Care and Lexi

The noticeable protest in Saugus, Santa Clarita, California is about a six year old foster child, Alexandria (Lexi), whose foster parents Russel (Rusty) and Summer Page wanted to adopt her but were prevented from doing so.  Normally I wouldn't give this situation more than a passing glance, but Alan Sherban (on Facebook) supported the effort, and if everything goes as planned, Alan is going to be the new Pastor at Bethany Community Fellowship (on Facebook), so I took a look at the situation.  Here's my two cents.

How Not To Market Your Work

Nosing around a few sites, I stumbled across Self-Publishing Review (SPR), where I found this little gem, Six Ways You Are Ruining Your Book Marketing Campaign.  This is worth reading.

About one-quarter to one-third of your time will be spent writing your book.  You'll spend an equal amount of time in editing your work, which is finding and fixing the places where auto-correct suggested the wrong word and you accepted its suggestion without looking.  Then there's the grammar and the pot plot holes you left with a promise to fix them later - and, well, now it's later.

So you've got a great book, or at least a finished book.  You create, or (like in my case) you buy a cover, then you put the whole business out on Amazon and wait for some big name Hollywood producer to call you and offer several million for the film rights of your brand new, Cinderella story, NYT runaway best seller, and big time money maker, which you've title Hundred Proof Gin for the Real Man's Soul.  When that doesn't happen, you check sales and see that you've sold two copies: One to your S.O. and one to an unknown aardvark who fat fingered his keyboard and now wants his bread back.

Your problem is that you didn't advertise.  For every day you spend writing, you'll spend a day trying to get the hoi polloi to buy and (you hope) read your magnum opus, then give it a six star review on Amazon.  But, see, no one knows you and your work exists.

That's where advertising comes in.  Sadly, you are not Don Draper.  If you were, you'd be working in New York and getting paid an incredible salary to come in to the office when it suits you, get hammered by two in the afternoon and sleep it off on the couch.

Truth be told, you enjoy life in the basement and the company of your cat, an undemanding purr-box who sits in your lap and occasionally helps you type.

Being no expert, you try advertising your book, and then wonder why sales don't spike.  This article points out why.  I especially like the second reason, consulting amateurs and treating their advice like that of a professional.  Would you go to one of these basement dwellers if you suspected you had cancer?  Or wanted your 401K to perform better?  Or maybe you need a few grand by the end of the week, and want a nice race track tip.  These guys would have it, right?

Read the article, then draw your own conclusions.  Or, if you lack the skill to draw, read the writing on the wall.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi Day 2016

Today is pi day, which can be expressed several different ways.  Because I'm a bit bored, I'll illustrate a few here:

  1. 22/7
  2. 3.1428571429
  3. 3.14
  4. π
Note that the third example is where we get pi day, March 14th.  Isn't that clever?

As for me, I intend to celebrate pi day in a more traditional fashion.

 Happy pi day to all, and to all a large byte!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hometown Reads

Last time I visited my local Barnes and Noble bookstore I asked the manager why the store didn't feature a section comprised exclusively of local authors.  I got a flat three minutes of prevarication, culminating in the tired old cliché, "I'm sorry, but my hands are tied."  Feeling a bit discouraged, I declined an overpriced B&N latté in favor of a more stimulating beverage.  I went down the street to Bar 145 and got two fingers of good old thought provoker in front of me, water back.

It has always seemed to me that local authors would benefit from a web page.  Someplace on the net where we could rest assured that we're not alone, where our work could be advertised, and where the liberals could give the conservatives a bad case of the red ass, then the conservatives would retaliate with a few stinging remarks of their own, which would send the moonbats into orbit - so the place would need to be policed a bit.  Then the organizer would have to find all the authors in Toledo, then set up the web site... we're talking about a ton of work, which I am not up for.

Fortunately for me, and for the rest of us, someone else arrived at this conclusion as well, and is willing to put some work behind it.  Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence has launched a new site, Hometown Reads, which features authors from the Toledo metro area.  Authors get their own individual page with links to their own website, Facebook, and other social media sites.  Or, if you'd just like to see what local authors are publishing, that's available as well.

This service has been needed for a long time now, and I'm glad Becky and her team are running the ball in for a touchdown.  As for me, it's five o'clock somewhere, but I have to teach tonight.  Toledo Ballroom (2400 N. Reynolds Road, Toledo, OH) has a group class scheduled tonight at 7:00, and I'm teaching intermediate bronze level cha cha. Happy hour will have to wait.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Robert Burns Dinner 2016

My brother Mike got tickets to the premier Robert Burns dinner in Columbus, and was kind enough to invite me along for an evening of drinking, dining and alcohol fueled fun.

This is not the first time I've attended this event, but it's far and away the best dinner ever served - and the beer was outstanding.

For anyone that has never attended a Robert Burns dinner, let me explain that it's a carefully staged production number, attended by Burns aficionados and other people who enjoy eating, drinking and having a great time, all under the guise of superior aesthetics and a love of poetry.  Should you attend, it helps if you enjoy haggis and top-shelf scotch whiskey.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Two Party System

I used to believe in the two party system, and by that I mean a party on Friday night and a party on Saturday night.  I still do believe that this is a great system, but not when you get older.  Or just plain old.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pastor Jim and Ruth Riccitelli

I got the latest news about Pastor Jim Riccitelli and his wife Ruth - my Godparents.  They're living in the Shell Point Retirement Community in Ft. Meyers, Florida.  When the elevator in their building needed some extensive repair, they were evicted from their apartment and relocated to an assisted living facility.  They liked it so much they decided to stay.

You can read the entire article online at Riccitellis Test Assisted Living at The Springs (go to page 31); I've included a copy here (used without permission).

Pastor Jim and Ruth
Although it isn't show here, Jim has a brand new electric scooter that he's learning to drive.  I gather it uses a joystick rather than a steering wheel, which poses something of a challenge to a man used to driving his truck across the plains of Burkina Faso.

We are taught that the Lord will provide for us, and He certainly has done for Pastor Jim and Ruth.  When they decided to move to Florida, their house sold in a few weeks for the asking price.  They have a very nice home in Florida, where they've made many new friends, and, from what I hear, Pastor Jim is left retirement for the nth time.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Film Review: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Last night I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), a film about a girl who is possessed by demons and who dies shortly after a failed exorcism.  This is advertised as being based on real events, for whatever good that does.

The film is very loosely based on the true story of Anneliese Michel (Anna Elisabeth Michel), who was born in 1952 and passed away in 1976 at the age of 23 due to malnutrition and dehydration. At the time of her death she weighed 68 pounds, had broken both knees and was suffering from pneumonia. She had been undergoing continuous exorcism ceremonies for the past year.

The entire business took place in Klingenberg am Main, Bavaria, West Germany, where I would suppose that such things as death during exorcism raise a few eyebrows.  The accused, including priests and parents, were arrested, tried and found guilty of negligent manslaughter.  The sentences were very light, and no one served any jail time.  The interesting part here is that the sentences were a good deal heavier than the prosecutor requested, who recommended that everyone be allowed to walk away without punishment of any kind.

One argument is that the parents were protected by the German Constitution, which allows for the freedom of religion, or the free exercise of religion.  In practical terms, it would seem that the judge and all the attorneys involved were either very reluctant to cross the Catholic church, or that there was more to the story than neglect, superstition and church rituals not often performed in public.  I'm guessing that it was a combination of the two.

Being a religious man and having lived in haunted houses twice, I'm open to the idea of demonic possession.  I do not subscribe to Catholic ritual as the only sure cure for a case of possession.  Prayer will suffice.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Nice Site

I was looking for Pound's Sestina: Altaforte which I wanted to read for inspiration, and I stumbled across this site by accident: Open Culture.  I haven't time to explore it now, but it looks very interesting.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Tuco and Blondie (Cigar Scene)

As some of you know, I'm selling the old family estate and moving to Columbus, probably for the rest of my life. I was born here and grew up in this house, and as I think about leaving for good and all, I feel a bit like Tuco at the end of this scene from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, where Tuco (Eli Wallach) has just gone through a tumultuous, emotional reunion with his older brother Pablo, who is now a priest. Tuco's brother reveals that their parents are dead, then castigates him, and rejects him. In this scene, Tuco lies about the reunion to his partner in crime, Blondie (Clint Eastwood). Blondie knows the truth about the reunion and responds by offering Tuco his cigar, which Tuco accepts with some consternation. At the end, Tuco shakes off the past and looks ahead to a future he believes will be much better than his past life.

I think that's where I'll end up - shaking the dust from my heels and moving on. It isn't like I haven't moved before, as I've lived any number of places in the U.S., mainly East of the Mississippi, and each place was better than the last.