Monday, June 30, 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Before June 28th was over, Sarajevo broke out in riots, with anti-Serb violence spreading across the city with Austro-Hungarian encouragement. A mob attacked and destroyed the Hotel Europa, the largest hotel in Sarajevo (and owned by a Serb). Order was restored by mounted solders that night. In a reactionary move, the provincial Bosnian government and Herzegovina's Oskar Potiorek issued a proclamation directing the city police to "eradicate all subversive elements in this land." Posters bearing this edict were nailed up around Sarajevo and on the 29th a series of even more violent demonstrations began. There were and marches and incendiary speeches by political leaders who disappeared when they'd whipped the mob to a frenzy. Serb schools, shops, and homes were attacked, sacked, and burned and by the time the sun went down Sarajevo's governor had declared a state of siege. Order would not be restored until the bodies of Franz Ferdinand and his wife had left Sarajevo by train, but by then the war's fuse had been lit and there would be no turning back.
|The Car in which Archduke Ferdinand Died|
Monday, June 23, 2014
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
American forces began the conflict by launching a three-point invasion of Canada, which failed miserably. In 1914 Napoleon Bonaparte's empire began to crumble, allowing the British to focus on combat in America. Washington DC fell that year and in August the White House, the Capitol, and other government were burned by British and Canadian troops as repayment for similar acts of arson by US troops while in Canada.
September brought the turning of the leaves and the tide. Thomas Macdonough won the Battle of Plattsburg Bay on Lake Champlain, forcing the invading British to retreat back to Canada and leading to the conclusion of US-British peace negotiations in Belgium. On Christmas Eve 1814 the Treaty of Ghent was signed and the War of 1812 formally came to an end, but it wasn't the end of hostilities.
Communication of the era being what it was, British forces assailing the US Gulf Coast weren't informed of the treaty for weeks. On January 8, US forces under the command of Andrew Jackson achieved what is arguably the greatest American victory of the war when they routed the British at the Battle of New Orleans. News of the Treaty of Ghent and Jackson's victory reached the US public nearly simultaneously, fostering a false connection between the two, encouraging a new found sense of confidence in American power, and providing inspiration for a 1960's hit by Johnny Horton.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Summer vacation season has arrived again, bringing with it warm tropical breezes, long lazy days, and the urge to wander. Since I spend a lot of time looking at the past, I figured this would be a good time to peruse the exotic travel offerings our grandparents and great grandparents might have considered when planning their summer holiday.
I'm kicking things off with a 1920 ad from Travel Magazine. Bermuda had been a British colony since 1609 and in 1920 celebrated the tercentenary of Bermudan parliamentary government. That year also marked the first royal visit to the island when Albert Edwards, Prince of Wales and soon to become King Edward VIII arrived aboard the HMS Renown where he was a serving Royal Navy officer. Prince Edward's official duties during the trip included opening the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, visiting St. Geroge's Island where he was principle guest in celebrations marking the 300th anniversary of the Bermudan State House as well as the completion of St. Peter's Church, and officially opening Somers Gardens.
That same year the UK-based Furness Withy shipping company began investing in Bermuda by taking over the Quebec Steamship Company and renaming it the Furness Bermuda Line. Furness Bermuda ran a three week service, bringing mail, freight, and passengers to the island from New York. Bermuda had a major attraction for American tourists - alcohol. The drought that was prohibition settled over American on January 29, 1920 and would remain in place until December 5, 1933 and during this thirteen-year period American tourists sought the warm waters and cool drinks of the Caribbean as a remedy to their moralistic problem. Furness Withy made the best of the prohibition era, investing in Bermudian holiday facilities such as the Mid Ocean Golf Club, the St. George, Bermudian and Castle Harbor hotels, and two tenders to ferry passengers from ship to hotel.
During the 20's Furness's Bermuda Line consisted of three ships: the Victoria, the St. George, and the Forts Hamilton and the ad featured here focuses on this last ship. It took some digging to unravel the fate of the Forts Hamilton and this is largely due to Furness' poor advertising. In 1923 the Hamilton still appeared on the covers of Furness' sailings brochures, but she no longer was a part of the line's fleet. In 1921 Furness sold her to the Bermuda and West Indies Steamship Company and this began her slow decline. She was sold again in 1926, 1930, 1931, and finally in 1932. In 1933 she was laid up in Trieste Italy where she was was eventually sold for scrap and broke up. Strange to think that the steel which went into building a pleasure vessel for British and American tourists probably went into the war effort which would kill so many of their children.
Let's not leave on that somber note, though. After all, this is a post about vacationing not the cruel ironies of history. So, I'll close with a couple home movies of Bermuda gleaned from the YouTube archives. Note the guy holding up the bottle of booze in the first clip. Spitting in the eye of prohibition, I like his style!
Sunday, June 15, 2014
I wasn't able to find anything about the Chrysler Red-Head engine other than ads of the period. This one comes from the November 3,1927 issue of Life Magazine. I couldn't resist the nouveau feel of the ad, so here it is. According to the copy, the red-head engine was a high-compression option for Chrysler 52's, 62's, 72's, and Imperial 80's, but that's all I've got.
The Imperial 80 was Chrysler's high-performance, luxury sedan of the era, with the "80" supposedly representing the vehicle's top speed. With the roads of the era being what they were, I'd imagine 50 miles per hour would be enough to rattle the fillings right out of your teeth and leave you shaking like you had the DT's for a month afterward. Every time I see its design, I start to hear jazz and think of gangsters and Tommy guns.
Nice ad and a fantastic car!
For father's day, here's a little tune from 1933 entitled My Old Man by the Spirits of Rhythm. Hope everyone's having a great day with their respective old man. Happy Father's Day to my old man!
Saturday, June 14, 2014
It's the second Saturday of the month and that means Steampunk Saturday! Here's an image from the May 1921 issue of Popular Mechanics that would look right at home on the set of Iron Skies. Fresh from the hell of the World War I trenches, the American military had mustard gas on the brain and this little number was their answer to the horrors of chemical warfare. Me? I see this being worn by a mad scientist, probing the mysteries of the aether or a high-altitude airship raider.
I was surprised to find an ad with a calendar that matches with 2014, but here it is, June 1947. And what drink makes you think Flag Day more than a Ward 8?
The name may make you think of lodgings at an asylum, but the name actually has a political origin. The story goes that the drink is an homage to Democrat Martin M. Lomasney's 1898 victory in a Massachusetts statehouse race. When the election was delivered by voters in the city's 8th ward, the drink had its name.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Let me be clear about this – I’m not saying you should write an expose, share your phone number, or all your deep, dark secrets with your readers. You’re not giving them the key to your diary; you’re letting them in on a small (and carefully controlled) slice of your life - the part that involves writing. Think of the “about the author” information you find inside the cover of your favorite book. This written bio talks a little about who the author is and their bibliography, it's a quick look at who the author is without giving much background. If you've published a novel, you might have written something like this for your publisher. It's a good tool for telling readers who you are, but there’s another step you can take, something any writer can do to get their name out in front of more potential readers.
What I’m talking about is creating an author’s biographical video. This is a short video that’s conducted as an interview with you, the author. Recently I did one of these and had an opportunity to work with a good producer who gave me the following pointers.
Let's start with a definition. A producer is the main player in a video production, they oversee the project from beginning to end and are involved in every stage of the production. You can think of them as the leader of the team that will be creating your video.
When you choose a producer you should ask yourself exactly what you want from your video. What are your goals, what style do you want reflected in the video, what is the outlet for your video (broadcast TV, web, or as a part of a larger DVD)? Knowing these things will make it easier it will be to hire a producer who can deliver on your expectations. Check out video production services online and you'll get a feel for what's available in your area.
When you've narrowed down your choice of potential producers you should take a look at their portfolios. Remember, the video you're hiring might be your first and only chance to make a good impression on new readers, agents, or publishers so you need to make sure the quality of their work meets your standards and will put your proverbial best foot forward.
When you've narrowed your search to two or three producers you're confident will do a great job on your video, request proposals/quotes. You'll need to provide the potential production companies with detailed information on your project so that they understand your project and can accurately quote a price. You'll want to speak with the production company and get a detailed document showing all costs associated with the project.
When you have selected your producer, meet with them to finalize production details and ask questions. Some potential questions are:
- Is the proposed cost fixed?
- Is there anything that can cause pricing to increase?
- Will there be additional costs for re-edits?
- Can the producer complete the project by your deadline?
- What is the review process?
- What is the format in which the production company provide the final project?
- Will you have complete ownership of the finished project?
When you're confident and comfortable with the producer's answers, you can hire/contract the producer for your project. Now that you've put in all this work, you can actually start working on the video itself!
Every project is a little different, but the basic stages of the production of a Marketing/Information video can essentially be broken down into five stages:
Stage 1: Video Strategy: This is where you and the producer define the story that your video will convey and the basic strategy for making sure this story reaches the audience. Much of this comes from the steps you've gone through to select a producer. It includes a creative brief, story outline, goals, genre, budget, desired audience, script, storyboard, etc.
Stage 2: Pre-Production. This stage involves planning the technical aspects involved in making the video.
Stage 3: Production. This is where you put the hard work under the lights. The video will be shot by the producer and their team.
Stage 4: Post-Production: Once all of the raw footage has been recorded it must be edited and fine tuned. Sound and video will be perfected and the video will take its final form.
Stage 5 - Distribution: Now that your video is finished it's time to distribute, promote, and market it to your audience. Since we're talking about a promotional author's video, this probably means posting it to your website, blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, and any other outlet where your readers can view it and then letting the public know that it's available.
Now, if you're like me you're thinking this all sounds expensive, and it can be. But you can also apply the technology you've got on your PC to the problem and produce a passable author's video using a web cam and a video editing suite. If you can afford it, though, I'd recommend going to a professional. I had the pleasure of working with Motivational Media and it was a great and very educational experience.
Remember, having an author's video isn't a guarantee you'll start racking up New York Times best-seller numbers. It's just a tool to get you out there in front of the public and from one beginning author to another, anything that gets more eyeballs can't be all bad.
Tonight I send a little love song out to the moon, a little Sinatra to invite the full June moon to stop on my windowsill and cast her silver light on my while I sleep. Maybe she'll visit my dreams and, like a muse, leave a little something for the page.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Sunday, June 8, 2014
I can't get over the hat. It looks like something from a Laurel and Hardy or Fatty Arbuckle comedy. As if it'd been shoved on the model's head by an exasperated camera man who was over the whole automotive craze and would have refused the Saks contract if he didn't have three kids to feed.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
A multitude of sources reminded me that I missed the big D-Day anniversary. The fact that I can forget it says something about the men who fought that battle. They spilled their blood to take a foreign shore and in the end they won an America where it's possible to forget their sacrifice and pain. Maybe that's what every warrior fights for, a world that won't remember the need to fight, blissful ignorance. Yet the danger occurs when they succeed for those who forget history's lessons are doomed to repeat its mistakes.
Take the little magazine clipping show above as an illustration of how far we've fallen. This map was published in Life Magazine on June 19, 1944. Just thirteen days after the allies hit the beaches and began hacking their way through the Norman hedgerows a major US magazine was printing maps of the landing sites. Today politicians would dearly love to repeal Freedom of Information Act requests and they routinely try to redact and classify any and all information about military and intelligence operations. Whether you agree with what he did or not, Snowden showed us just how far an unchecked government agency is willing to go for "the safety of the state". Every year it seems like the America I love becomes a little more like all those countries we used to fear. Our government has tried to okay torture, they've made peace with indefinitely detaining suspects without charging them, they maintain off-shore black sites where they can get away with whatever they please, they eavesdrop on our electronic communications, and they practice remote-controlled "targeted killings". In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."
Yesterday while enjoying my lunch in the shade of a tree I looked up to see a lone Wildcat fighter noisily making circuits in the clear, Indiana noontime sky and that familiar sense of nostalgia overtook me. There was a day when "over there" was much further away, when our government was a body of consensus albeit a fractious one, a time when things moved slower and didn't travel half as fast. It was a time before I was born, but somehow I still miss it. So on this belated 75th anniversary of D-Day I'd like to apologize to the brave men who faced its dangers, I fear we've squandered what you won, but I keep in my heart the hope that someday we'll reclaim it and renew your pride.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Okay, so is this a combination? Is there some fantastic peach pork and bean recipe that I know nothing about? I'm really not getting the reasoning behind doing a team-up ad for these two particular products. I mean beans and weenies, yes. Peaches and cream, sure. But peaches and beans?
Monday, June 2, 2014
All in a hot and copper sky, The bloody Sun, at noon, 'Right up above the mast did stand, No bigger than the Moon. Day after day, day after day, We stuck, no breath no motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean.
For a writer, getting stuck might not lead to starvation or death by heat exhaustion, but it can kill the mojo you've got for the story your writing. There probably are a million prescriptive blog posts and websites out there telling the would-be author how to break through writer's block. Frankly, it's my opinion anyone saying they have the one sure-fire method to beat the mental logjam that keeps words off the page is selling snake oil.
Unfortunately the solution to your writer's block is just as personal as the reason you write in the first place. There is no formula, you've just got to figure out your own path. Now, I know this doesn't seem very helpful, especially if you've put a good deal of effort into a project only to run aground. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't be discouraged if you try those things that are supposed to work and you find out they don't. That said, I can share what works for me when I'm stuck.
Sometimes I find that the best thing I can do is walk away from my writing. Giving it a rest sometimes clears my head and gives the ideas time to fight it out in my subconscious. After twenty four hours or less I usually that I've got a path forward. If I don't, I'll switch to another ploy and jump to another part of the story, one I'm sure of, and write that scene. Sometimes I leave gaps throughout a story and come back to fill them in after the first edit. This tactic gives me a start and end point that I can connect easily enough. If nothing seems to work, I reach out to a fellow writer who can pose suggestions and help me think through things in a new way. And, if even reaching out to another author doesn't work, I start asking myself what I'm hesitating to write. There may be a good reason I can't put words on the paper - maybe the scene isn't right for the story or I'm trying to force the characters to do something that doesn't fit their personality.
Again, I'm not saying these things are the one way to fill your sails with wind. Your doldrums will require your own answers. The only absolute piece of advice I can give is don't give up on your project or writing, take a break or soldier on, go for a walk or watch a movie, take a nap or go for a run, whatever you do don't give up on your desire to write.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Over the past week we've hung paintings, going with a Victorian feel by crowding them in tightly in the office. The subject matter, on the other hand, ranges all the way from the early 1900's to the modern era and include artwork by my dear wife Kelly Madden and good friend Crystal Helt.
Not so much a car ad for the first Sunday in June, but a car service ad. This little missive advising dad to tune the old jalopy up before hitting the vacation highway struck a chord with me. Not sure why, my dad never golfed or smoked a pipe, we never brought a picnic basket to the beach, and I certainly never had a striped talking duck water toy as a sidekick. Nope, the plan was to go to some low-budget camp ground, go fishing, and get sunburned to the point of blistering before everyone complained so much the whole thing ground to an awful halt. Still, the American vacation is a little like the American Thanksgiving - something that is aspired toward and never achieved.
Anyway, Summer begins in June and so does my annual trawl through all things vacation. From cars to campgrounds to food to destinations, you'll be seeing an assortment here on the blog. There isn't a rest stop until Labor Day, so here's your last chance to do whatever's necessary. I'm not stopping this car until we can put our toes in the sand.