Saturday, December 15, 2018

Remember When…

It seems this time of year is defined by the music we hear. It’s on the radio and television commercials use Christmas songs as background music or as a way to sell the consumer everything from cars and exercise equipment to catheters and incontinence supplies delivered discretely to you home and charged to Medicare.  The songs are supposed to remind us of times past, or friends, or places or something pleasant so we are in the mood to spend money.

That got me to thinking. I don’t sleep much and I’m usually awake around 3am.  I may go back to sleep around the time I need to get up, but from 3 to 6 I do what I call my “creative thinking.”  This is when I remodel my bathroom, tell that guy at the grocery store back in 1973 what he could have done with that cart he thought I hit his car with and important things like that…or…I watch television.  Have you ever watched TV at 3am?  I have every cable channel known to man and the best I can do is fifty channels selling me everything from oil-less fryers, to cosmetics guaranteed to eliminate wrinkles to a course on how to make a million dollars in the stock market. If I don’t watch those, and I’m lucky there is an NPR station showing an old rock and roll review between pitches for a fifteen CD set of all of their music, or a CW series or Celtic or Soul or some other decade of music.  Now to the point of this.  I knew you were waiting.

Those songs immediately bring back memories for me.  I didn’t realize how much of my life was tied to a song.  I hear one and I go back to the memory that song evokes, and I’ll bet it happens for you as well.  What song reminds you of your first love?  How about the one when you realized he/she didn’t love you as much as you thought? My parents were the Great Depression and WWII generation and when they heard an old song on the radio or the Lawrence Welk Show (not me…they watched it, I just suffered through it) they would always comment about “remember when…” and it was usually a pleasant memory unless it was a popular tune during the war and was a favorite of a long lost friend.

What did you listen to in high school?  College? What did you dance to at your first prom?  That song you played on your record player, 8 track, cassette player or CD when you and he/she always…fill in the blank.

For me, and I’ll bet two songs that have a universal meaning for anyone who served in Viet Nam.  They were almost as popular as the National Anthem. It didn’t matter if we heard it on AFVN, on somebody’s cassette player or from a band with singers who could barely pronounce the words, when WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE IF IT’S THE LAST THING WE EVER DO, or I WANNA GO HOME came on we stood, yelled, sang along and generally made fools of ourselves, but we meant every word of it.  Most of us got out of that place, and got home but many didn’t and those songs will always remind me of them.

My good friend Lieutenant Bill….was a Charlie Pride fan and drove us nuts playing his songs all the time. Bill was captured alive one day and when the prisoners came home I looked for him. I scanned the names of those who had died in captivity.  He wasn’t on either list.  Someday, I hope and pray that he gets to GET OUTTA THAT PLACE…

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Christmas Secret


For anyone who was ever in the military from 1941 through 1990, one of the highlights of the Christmas season was the possibility to a visit by Bob Hope and his USO troupe to your base.  He started stateside in California in 1941 and from then until his last trip in 1990 he brought a little bit of home to the troops in some of the most desolate places on earth during each war or conflict where they were deployed.

He did shows on aircraft carrier decks, in open fields at army bases and in rear areas.  He was always accompanied by several other entertainers and most important to the thousands of men, (my apologies to any lady who reads this) a couple of beautiful female dancers, singers or perhaps those with no talent who just looked good.  The shows were free, open seating, no pulling rank to get a front seat, however if he was at or near a hospital you could always find a row or two of wheelchair and other medical devices down front.

I never got to see a show in person, but I did hear two of them live on a radio during Viet Nam.  In 1968 I was on a four day patrol and at the designated time, we were just setting up an ambush site when he came on the radio.  I turned our PRC 25 (if you have to ask….) to the right frequency and listened for a few minutes until it got to be too dangerous to have him on the radio and not have it on the right frequency.  My RTO (see above) wanted to listen through a set of headphones but since I was a Lieutenant and he wasn’t, I won.

The next time I got close to a Bob Hope Christmas show was in 1970.  I was in the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam and got called in to our Corps Headquarters for a Top Secret briefing.  I had no idea what it was about.  We’re invading North Viet Nam?  Cambodia?  It’s over? The President was coming to town?  Nothing as mundane as that.  We were required to show our identification cards, secured in a briefing room, and waited for a 2 star general to arrive.  Once he came in, his briefing officer put a slide on the overhead projector (again, see above) and the TS briefing began.  We were being given Bob Hope’s itinerary and travel route.  Five days later, a helicopter flew over our outpost at the end of the world in the Delta and the pilot informed me that he had Bob Hope on board.  Hope had a call sign which I can’t remember now, but he did not use his name for security purposes.

Years later, I had to pleasure of meeting him in Los Angeles and he was a genuine gentleman in every sense of the word.  The reason for this trip down amnesia lane?  Today was an incredibly powerful day as President George H.W. Bush was laid to rest.  I not only met but I worked for 41 in Washington, DC.  As I watched the funeral, it was hard not to get emotional and I thought of the Bob Hope show.  He always ended his show with Silent Night. To this day I can’t hear that song without a tear in my eye.

No joke.  No cute ending here.  Just a fond memory and a fond farewell to two icons. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

They’rrreee Herree

They’rrreee Herree

Every generation is told the one behind them is the future and in most cases that future generation has been looked on with great pride and anticipation of their taking over and doing a better job than the one they replace.

No matter how old you are or what your generation is called, you and unfortunately I, are on our way out. We are going to turn things over to those behind us whether we like it or not.  We see on the news how the country and the world is shifting.  The direction its shifting depends on your political view.  It’s happening all over the world and not just here in the US of A.

Okay, I’m off the soap box now and getting to the point of this blog.  I have mentioned it in the past, but a quick review. (There will be a test at some point)  I have been teaching at the college level for several years in Washington, Florida and now here in Georgia.  My class has always been a writing class, either screenwriting or fiction.  The students have ranged from entering freshmen, a few high schoolers who were dual enrolled and a couple of graduate students over the years. Based on this I feel I have a good handle on the upcoming generation.

At the University of West Florida, I taught a course called Writing for Television, Film and Radio. Notice the first word in the description? That will make sense in a minute.  The name of the class was in the school catalog, on the door to the classroom and on the syllabus I handed out during the first meeting.  

Wait….do I see a hand in the back of the room?  Young man sitting back there on the very first day of class.  “Uh, ‘scuse me but will there be any WRITING requirements in this class?”  Let that sink in for a second.  My smart-ass response?  “You’re in analytical geometric algebraic geography.  How much writing do you think you will have to do?”  “But..but…it say’s right here that this is a television and film class?”

Two weeks later this same individual handed in his first writing assignment.  I brought all the papers home to read and grade.  When I got to his…well…my 12 year old granddaughter was doing her homework alongside her 7 year old brother at the kitchen table. I handed the paper to her to read. Her response?  “Papa, when did Logan learn how to type?”

Moving right along to the present.  I went to a local supermarket last week to get a few things. When I got to the cashier, it was a young lady I recognized from a class next to mine where I now teach. We exchanged pleasantries and when she totaled the order, I said I wanted $20.00 back. “I’d like two tens’ please.” She looked in the drawer.  “Sorry, but I don’t have any tens.”  I’m not hard to please, so I said, “Okay, just give me a thirteen and a seven.” Wait…wait…it gets better…She looked in the drawer and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a thirteen.  Do they really make them?”  There is a small branch bank in the store, so I suggested she go to the bank and ask them for one.  In the meantime, I said, “Just give me a sixteen and a four.”

I didn’t realize the manage was standing nearby and heard the conversation.  “Sir, if you need specific change, please ask for it at the bank.”

I stopped by an adult beverage store on the way home, bought a bottle and paid for it with a brand new fourteen dollar bill. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Remember When We Had No Choices?

Remember When We Had No Choices?

I went to the grocery store yesterday and I was completely confused and it bothered me.  I just needed a few simple, or so I thought, things.  We were out of milk, eggs, soft drinks, mustard and I thought I’d reward myself with a small bag of candy and a cup of coffee from the Starbucks stand in the store.

I didn’t realize you can’t just buy a quart of milk, a dozen eggs, a carton of Cokes, a jar of mustard and a bag of M&M’s without it taking at least an hour and that doesn’t count standing in line to check out.

When I got to the milk case, I wanted a quart of milk. I didn’t want to decide between 2%, 4%, Skim, Low Fat, Non Fat, Organic in each of these varieties, whole, soy or almond.  This didn’t count the choices from free range cows.  Do some cows have to pay for their range?  I grabbed the one with the longest expiration date, and headed for the dairy case for eggs.

Eggs?  Brown? White? Organic?  Free range (they should get with the cow and make a deal) Dozen? Eighteen?  None of them had a picture of a chicken on the carton which made me suspicious.

Two hundred feet of soft drinks on one aisle. Bottles or cans?  Big bottles or small ones?  Glass or plastic?  I just wanted a six pack of Cokes but…Coke Zero, Diet, Diet with Lime/Lemon/Splenda, how about made in Mexico.  Twelve pack? Twenty pack? I ran to the mustard aisle.

I felt like I was in the movie Groundhog Day. Yellow mustard.  Brown mustard.  Spicy mustard.  Mustard with horseradish, Grey Poupon, jars, squirt bottles and best of all:  Stone ground.  I pictured two people with rocks grinding little mustards into a yellow paste.

By this time my blood sugar was in the toilet, and I won’t even talk about toilet paper, so I went to the candy aisle for my M&M’s.  I give up. When M&M’s added peanuts, I thought it was the first sign of the Apocalypse.  Now with all the choices, who knows

I finally got to the check-out line.  Self?  Less than 10? More than 25?  Alcohol and cigarette in a special, over 21 line and don’t try to fool us because we make you show your ID if you look under 97. And speaking of cigarettes.  My dad smoked Camels.  Just plain, non-offensive, middle of the road, Camels.  At my store there are twelve types of Camels.

After I got a cup of coffee…don’t even go there, I went home and dropped on the sofa and told my wife that I wanted to relax and watch some television.  Gracious lady that she is, she offered to turn it on for me.  Did I want to watch, local, network, cable, HBO, Showtime, Skinamax, music channel, Hispanic, Korean, or what?

I gave up and decided that it was time for me to go, so I thought I’d just shoot myself.  Then I couldn’t decide if I wanted to use my .45, my 40, 38, shotgun, deer rifle, that little 22 I won in a poker game or….

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Thank You 
Royal Tea Pot
For allowing us to host our book signing party today!
And Thank You All Who Came Out and Supported Us!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018






to either
or call/text

The biggest secret of World War Two may be about to be revealed…totally by accident.  If the truth gets out, history may have to be re-written, counties may go to war, allies may become enemies and lives will be lost.  One of them is Max Maxwell and he is not happy about it.  He stumbled on the secret when his uncle, a WWII veteran dies and Max and his brother go through his belongings.  From that day on the fuse is lit and there is enough explosives to destroy Max and everything he holds near and dear.  He finds out what the United States government will do to keep a secret and how far it will go to destroy one who can reveal it!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Profound Profanity: Beware the Fireman

 What Temperature do your books burn at?

I started writing this blog for several reasons.  I had written a newspaper column in the past and I liked having to work against a deadline, so that was a part of my decision to gear the blog to a certain day, thus the title Sure Happy It’s Thursday, or the initials.  I obviously realized there was a word in the title that some might find offensive, but certainly not my fellow writers.  I was wrong.

As a writer, naturally I want as many people as possible to know about my books and I use the blog to do it.  I also belong to a number of writer’s groups, some of which meet and some are only on line, at least for me.  I always send a link to the latest blog to all of these sites as well as other groups like my old high schools, family and others.

This week I was told not to send my blog to a particular group of writers in Georgia because my title included profanity.  If this had been a children’s book group or a religious one, I might have understood a little better, but this was not the case.  This was a group (so I thought) that was open to writers of all genres. In today’s world I find it hard to believe that any writer who is true to his or her characters can do so without having some profanity, at least by this group’s standards in the manuscript.

When my first novel came out I was very proud and sent copies to several friends and family to include my mother.  I was on active duty at the time and I always tried to call her every Sunday afternoon because I knew she would be at her sister’s house for a family dinner. After having my book for about a month, I broached the subject in the phone call.  “So, mama, how did you like my book?”  Dead silence for a looong time.  “Where did you learn to talk like that?” she asked.  I tried to explain that it was my character speaking and not me. Nice try, but it didn’t work. “You never talked that way around me,” was her final shot.

Of course, I never did, nor would I ever talk like that around my mother, but times have changed and today kids use language that would have caused a WWII veteran to blush.  If you’re writing a scene where a man hits his thumb with a hammer, I doubt your editor is going to let you get away with him saying, “Oh, gosh, golly gee whiz that hurts!”  I know the last time I slammed my finger in a door, I embarrassed everyone within hearing range.

I’m going to get off my soap box in a minute, but I do want to make a point since I plan to send this to several writer’s groups.  Be true, not only to your characters but to yourself as well.  If your character needs to say something that may offend a reader, if it is appropriate to the person and the situation, go for it. I’ll bet the reader’s eyes can skip over a word or two if they don’t like it. And if you get thrown out of a writer’s group, let me know and we’ll form our own.

Bottom line, if we can have TGIF, we can have SHIT.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Remember When…

It seems this time of year is defined by the music we hear. It’s on the radio and television commercials use Christmas songs as backgro...