New Book on a Near-Death Experience to Be Published Soon

A new book on a fascinating subject is soon to be published by a “friend” of mine, Sam Cartwright, who has chronicled his near-death experience in A Faith in the Crowd. I came up with the title for him (and thought it rather clever if I do say so myself.) I also encouraged him to write this book, as he experienced a very non-traditional Heaven upon his arrival. Perhaps, Sam’s experience was shaped by the fact that he was an atheist, and while he still is technically, he has returned to this life as a much deeper spiritual person.

Sam is still not sure if his experience was real or manufactured from his subconscious. The subtitle for A Faith in the Crowd is One man’s journey to Heaven. Or not. Having read the manuscript, I’m not sure myself. If Sam’s experience was real, then I’m happy to say that there is both baseball and laughter in Heaven. I do know that real or not, the book will introduce you to an interesting cast of characters that includes Reverend Mr. Alfred J. Whitebucks, Methuselah, “The Boss,” his brother Myron, and Sam himself.

In any case, Sam is making it easy to decide for yourself, as he is listing the e-version of A Faith in the Crowd for free. I’ll pass along the link as soon as I finish helping him format the manuscript and uploading it to Amazon.

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Time Is A Pool Gets a New Look

My 10 story collection of flash fiction, Time Is A Pool, which I’m happy to say many of you have enjoyed, has a new look. I was perusing my Amazon page recently, saw the listing for Time Is A Pool, and thought, Well, that’s a nondescript cover. And by “nondescript,” I really mean amateurish, but then Time Is A Pool was my first effort to self-publish using CreateSpace, a branch of Amazon. (CreateSpace, by the way, has been replaced by Kindle Direct Publishing.) As we live in Snowden Bridge, a development just north of Winchester, VA, and which has beautiful pools on either side of the entrance, I knew where to go for my new cover. Mix some photos taken on a sunny afternoon with the requisite amount of cursing over the proper pixel proportion and voila! A new cover was created.

Nothing on the inside has changed except a new author biography and an update on what I have published since Time Is A Pool first came out in 2016.

If you have read it and haven’t left a review, please do so! If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to do so. The book’s link is here.

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Remade Music

Readers of this blog know that I enjoy history and I enjoy music. Most music. Some music. Don’t buy me opera tickets. . . . I digress. Anyway, the history of certain popular songs is fascinating to me. Growing up in the 70s, I loved certain songs that I later found out originated in the 40s. While skimming Billboard’s Hottest Hot 100 Hits, by Fred Bronson, I came across a chapter, “The Top 100 Pre-Rock Era Remakes,” and was amazed to discover how many hits were recorded or written, years or even decades before.

Many people know, for example, that the 1960 hit, “The Twist,” by Chubby Checker was actually a remake of Hank Ballard’s record which had been released in 1959. Ballard wrote the song, and his version, originally the B-side of the record, reached number 28 on the Billboard charts. Chubby Checker’s version reached #1 not only in 1960, but again in 1962 making it the only record to reach #1 in two different years.

The Platters, who scored a multitude of their hits in the 1950s took a great deal of material from the 1930s. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” 1933 and “My Prayer,” 1939 are two examples.

Likewise, Connie Francis remade hits from decades before, including “If I Didn’t Care,” a remake of a 1939 hit by The Ink Spots, whose original version sold over 19 copies worldwide, making it at one point, one of the top 10 singles of all time. Francis’ “Who’s Sorry Now?” was originally written in 1923 and was actually featured in the Marx Brothers’ film, A Night in Casablanca.

“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and “It’s Now or Never,” are two signature Elvis Presley tunes, the former first recorded in 1927, and the latter based on the 1949 version of “There’s No Tomorrow,” by Tony Martin. Elvis’ “It’s Now or Never,” which has its basis in “O Sole mio” sold 20 million copies, making it Elvis biggest hit, and also one of the biggest sellers of all-time.

Bobby Vinton’s “There, I Said It Again,” is a remake of Vaughn Monroe’s 1945 version.

Pat Boone’s, “Love Letters in the Sand,” is a remake of the 1931 recording by Ted Black & His Orchestra.

“Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime,” which was a #1 song for Dean Martin in 1964, was originally recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1948.

There is a lesson in all these remake remarks, and that is that good music, from whatever era, endures. A great song might not find its best performer or arrangement immediately, but sooner or later, it will emerge.

Same song, different eras!

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Ads in 1944 Life Magazine Reflect on Then–and Now

Even with the many dramatic events happening in the world today, most of us spend our time talking about mundane things—the weather, the score of last night’s game, the restaurant down the street that just opened, the cost of a loaf of bread. When writing The Secret of Their Midnight Tears trilogy—and yes, the first chapter of the final entry has just been completed!—I have incorporated just such conversations in order to make the characters as real as possible, and the best way to find out what mundane events folks were talking about is to peruse periodicals and magazines of the time. I did this recently with the July 17, 1944 issue of Life magazine. The lead article was entitled, “Task Force 58” about the Navy’s “great cruise to break the Japanese power in the Marianas.” The cover story was about the fashion trend of young women wearing peasant clothes. Ironically enough, there was also a story about the Japanese beetle invasion, which had begun a mere 28 years before, as well as other features. Looking back 74 years, however, the most interesting thing in Life are the advertisements.

Almost every ad had a war theme. Bell Telephone, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Borden’s, and Sanka coffee urged readers to conserve. Indeed, Borden’s noted that while cheese was a rationed commodity, “Elsie [the cow] says, ‘If your husband was good today—do this . . . if he’s bought an extra war bond on the way home . . . Or if he’s been working in your victory garden since suppertime . . . SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION, LADY! Give him some of that swell Borden ‘s Cheese that he’s been hankering after!’”

Dot Fasteners, Stromberg Carlson, Statler Hotels, Chrysler, and Scotch Tape reminded readers that life would be better and their products and services would be more readily available, once the war ended. Indeed, NBC ran a full-page ad explaining that once victory had been achieved, the development of television would be renewed. Some companies proudly pointed out the manner in which they were contributing to the war effort. These included Plymouth, Veedol Motor Oil, Shell Oil, Grace Line Steamships, and Sperry. Mobil ran a two-page color spread touting its contribution to the war effort, as well as how things would be better once victory had been achieved. “War-Power For U. S. Planes Today—Driving Power For Your Car Tomorrow!” reads part of the copy regarding “Mobilgas.”

Even an ad for Hollander Furs, which featured an elegant woman descending a staircase, and clearly not wanting to remind readers of those sacrifices already made and those yet to come, contained a tiny tag that read, “. . . next to WAR BONDS, the best loved gift . . . FURS.”

Other advertisements for Ansco Film, milk, Gaby Suntan lotion, and Pequot Sheets reference in some way the soldiers themselves.

The old ads are fun—“Jeff” the husband in a Colgate ad when informed by his wife that he has bad breath, says, “Zowie! No wonder you’ve been glum, chum! Mister Dentist, here I come!” They are colorful. They tell stories, some containing more plot than half our modern movies,  and one can sense a growing optimism that the war would be won.

Still, the old ads make me sad, for they also suggest that, unlike today, there was only one demographic to whom these diverse ads were meant to appeal: Americans.

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Make Plans to Attend the 75th Commemoration of the D-Day Invasion

The last great reunion of veterans from the War Between the States took place at Gettysburg in 1938. It was the 75th anniversary of the epic battle, and some 1,845* veterans from both North and South assembled to remember and to be honored. Some of them lived to see World War II and, as did everyone else, anxiously followed the news bulletins and radio broadcasts on June 6, 1944 when the Allies embarked on D-Day. Now, the boys who landed in Normandy are about to arrive at the 75th anniversary of their great battle on June 6 of next year. Appropriately, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia is planning to commemorate “the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of those who fought to free the world of tyranny.”

Part of the parade during the 70th Commemoration.

I attended the 70th Commemoration and I expect to be present at this one as well. That event was a moving experience, and I urge everyone with an interest in history to attend the 75th as I suspect that 2019 will be the last great gathering of these veterans. You will want to tell your children and grandchildren that you saw these makers of history. Better yet, take your children and grandchildren and impress upon them the greatness of those old men who were young once, and who, in their youth, saved the world. Indeed, according to the Summer 2018 Memorial newsletter, “the largest gathering of D-Day veterans in the Nation is expected to attend the ceremony that day with every D-Day veteran in attendance being introduced in a special roll call.” That will take place on the morning of Thursday, June 6. Friday’s events include an evening concert and canteen, and “a 1940s themed parade featuring veterans, antique cars, bands, and living historians” on Saturday.

Bedford is still a small town and accommodations are few. If you plan to attend it is not too early to reserve a room.

I will go for the history and the pageantry, but mostly to fulfill the obligation and the desire to say “thank you.”

* According to The Last Reunion of the Blue and Gray, by Paul L. Roy, 1950.

[Read The Bedford Boys, by Alex Kershaw, for an explanation as to why the National D-Day Memorial is located in a little town between Lynchburg and Roanoke, Virginia. This is the very moving story of the very first boys to hit the beach.]

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The World Of Little League Museum

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