Monthly Archives: August 2013

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Gun Trader’s Guide, 35th Edition: A Must Have Book for Every Firearms Owner

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Gun Trader's Guide, 35th Edition: A Must Have Book for Every Firearms Owner

 If there is one must-have book for every firearms owner — including the present reviewer who is a member of the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association — it’s “Gun Trader’s Guide, Thirty-Fifth Edition: A Comprehensive, Fully Illustrated Guide to Modern Firearms”  (Skyhorse Publishing, 608 pages, $29.95).

Fully illustrated and superbly edited by Stephen D. Carpenteri and published by Skyhorse for the last few years since the demise of former publisher Stoeger, this is the indispensable price guide for people who buy, sell and trade firearms. And that includes everybody who is a target shooter, hunter or gun collector. All gun owners owe a debt of gratitude to Tony Lyons, publisher of Skyhorse Publishing Inc. in New York City, for continuing this book, “The Shooter’s Bible” and other firearms publications.

The 35th edition boasts new entries since last year’s edition and includes a complete index and a guide on how to properly and effectively use this book to find the market value for your collectible modern firearms. There are more than 2,750 illustrations, so the chances are very good that any collectible firearm you own — or want to own — is in this guide.

I noticed that my most recent handgun, the Taurus TCP .380 ultracompact autoloader, Model 738,  is not included. That’s logical, since it’s a newly introduced gun. Older Taurus guns are included in this guide, and the Taurus TCP, an excellent choice for concealed carry, is illustrated and described on Page 377 of “The Shooter’s Bible, 105th Edition,” which I will review in a few days.

Carpenteri provides all the information you’ll need to determine the new in box (NIB), excellent and good condition (based on the NRA grading system) prices of firearms you have or are looking at. Handguns, rifles and shotguns are all included in the book.

This is a book every gun owner should have, along with “The Shooter’s Bible.” Thanks again, Tony Lyons, for your efforts to keep the famous Stoeger books alive and well!

 

About the Editor

Stephen D. Carpenteri has been shooting and hunting for more than fifty years and has been writing about firearms and ammunition since 1975. A handloader, target shooter, and all-round gun buff with experience in all aspects of firearms usage, Carpenteri is an avid gun collector and long-time user of the Gun Trader’s Guide.

Publisher’s web site: www.skyhorsepublishing.com

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OP-ED: Recipe for Increased Irrelevance: Independent Strike on Syria

  • By Joseph J. Honick 
Joseph J. Honick

Joseph J. Honick
America by now is the laughingstock of the Middle East, with Russia’s Putin no doubt sipping good Vodka to salute President Obama’s incomprehensible passion to fling missiles(weapons of mass destruction)at Syria for the use of chemical weapons…a fact that has yet to receive our intelligence authorities actual confirmation.  But “very confident” seems to be good enough for the President and his spokesman Secretary of State John Kerry, once the voice of protest when we overstepped our boundaries in Iraq and just about elsewhere. Reports already abound of Arab countries rallying to Syria’s tough guy Assad because the big bad United States threatens to make him a hero.  After all, what is the comparison of the two powers?  And what do we know of which of the rebels are nice people or just as bad as the ones we supported in Libya?

 Those are just a couple of elementary questions.  Perhaps a much more important inquiry might be what do Americans think of this maneuver by its leader who promised to stop all this costly foolishness in the Middle East that began a decade ago with the invasion of Iraq and seems to  feed on itself in Afghanistan….all without either victory or peaceful resolution.

Add to this equation the understandable refusal of the UK folks to join in the fun.  Certainly no one else is on board.

At the risk of being repetitious, there is something disgusting and eerie that not the President, nor the media and certainly not that alleged peace motivated operation called the United Nations…not one of them has demanded or at least urged Syria’s neighbors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait to step in and use their ethnic relationships to find some rational solution.

After all, aren’t those the same outfits that didn’t wait a diplomatic moment before tossing in nearly $13 billion to the “new” Egypt after the military tossed out its first elected president in many decades?  I won’t try to  make out a case for the evictee, but surely the powerful and wealthy Arab leaders of those three nations alone didn’t wait for us to be any kind of heroes. So why now are they smartly letting us do something foolish….and dangerous?

Surely the Saudis with their $300 billion, more or less, military stuff bought from the U.S. in only two years still pretty fresh and well oiled could assert some influence.

I do not recall reading anywhere that we have been deputized to police certain hot spots in the world.  There are helpless people being  vastly ill-treated in Pakistan and other countries, but there we only dispatch occasional drones that seem to make victims out of innocents as well as guilty.  Why would not the same thing occur with a strike on Syria.

But suppose Dr Assad fights back and fails to concede and decides to take out his anger first on Israel who is a lot closer than we are?  The Israelis have a reputation for not taking a lot of guff from the Arabs and understandably would strike back powerfully, and then the tinderbox of the Middle East will be unleashed, hurting a lot more people than the chemical weapons at the heart of the Administration oratory.

If any American air casualties are taken, how could we rescue any crews?

These are just basic areas of reality and concern. What further boggles any mind or should is how poorly media are handling the whole  business.  It was left for the Financial Times of London this morning to note, just by the way, there is need for a strategy beyond the strike.  How dare they utter the obvious that way?

It’s hoped that this essay, if published soon enough, and many, many more around the nation and the world will return our leaders to some conscious understanding of what they are broadcasting so shamelessly.  It is not as lethal to figure out what we should avoid as it would be to carry out the proposed military actions before any understanding what would assuredly come next.

* * *

Joseph J. Honick is a Bainbridge Island, WA-based  international consultant to business and government and writes for many publications, including www.huntingtonnews.net. Honick can be reached at joehonick@gmail.com.  

 

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Welcome Home Mama & Boris: How a Sister’s Love Saved a Fallen Soldier’s Beloved Dogs’ Is A Heartwarming Memoir That Will Appeal to Every Pet Lover

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW:  'Welcome Home Mama & Boris: How a Sister's Love Saved a Fallen Soldier's Beloved Dogs' Is A Heartwarming Memoir That Will Appeal to Every Pet Lover

Whether you’re a dog or cat person, I’m betting that anyone reading “Welcome Home Mama & Boris: How a Sister’s Love Saved a Fallen Soldier’s Beloved Dogs” (Reader’s Digest, 224 pages, color photo insert,  $19.99) will shed more than a few tears and be optimistic at the same time.

This memoir by Carey Neesley and co-author Michael Levin deals with the important bond between a brother and a sister. I know about this firsthand since I have two younger sisters. Now that we’re all in our 70s, and with our mother and both brothers gone, the bond is even stronger as we deal with what life throws at us.

 In the 1997 movie “Grosse Pointe Blank” starring John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, and Dan Aykroyd you’ll see a fictional portrayal of one of the most affluent of Detroit’s suburbs, with a few scenes shot in the actual suburb adjoining Detroit on the shores of Lake St. Clair. It’s a comic caper movie centering around a high school class reunion. By the way, Grosse Pointe is the hometown of acclaimed actress Julie Harris, who died Aug. 24, 2013 at the age of 87.

Grosse Pointe  wasn’t all that funny for Carey Neesley as she and her younger brother Peter grew up their in less than affluent circumstances.

Neesley always thought she and her younger brother, Peter, would never be separated. The children of divorced parents and outcasts in their neighborhood, Carey and Peter supported, loved, and encouraged each other when it seemed no one else cared.

Neesley and co-auhtor Levin eloquently bring to life the sibling bond that I feel is at the core of this appealing book. Carey and Peter were the children of divorced parents (that resonates with me as my brothers and sisters were in the same position after my parents divorced in 1949 when we were young children). It was a bond that grew through the years, and one that made Peter’s eventual decision to enlist in the Army all the more difficult for Carey. With Peter helping her raise her young son and supporting her desire to finish college, Carey was closer than ever to her brother, and the thought of him serving far from home was painful.

While stationed in Iraq, Peter befriended a stray dog and her four puppies, only to watch three of the young pups die in the war zone. With only two surviving dogs—Mama and Boris—Peter did all he could to save the strays. Carey helped her brother with his mission, but everything changed on Christmas Day in 2007 when word arrived at the Neesley household that Peter had died in his sleep.

Amidst the grief of coming to terms with her brother’s death and the turmoil of trying to plan his funeral, Carey devoted herself to bringing Peter’s dogs home to the U.S. It was the final honor she could pay to her brother and a way of keeping a piece of him with her.

With the help of an unlikely network of heroes, including an animal rescue organization in Utah; Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.; then Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; a civilian airline; an Iraqi family, and a private security contractor with military connections, Mama and Boris made the journey from their temporary shelter next to the Army base in  Baghdad to Carey’s suburban house.

Carey’s mission attracted widespread attention and requests from other soldiers for help in bringing home dogs they had become attached to on deployment, and she continues to work with organizations dedicated to bringing home wartime strays.

This uplifting book, filled with the gamut of emotions from comedy to tragedy, is worth reading, regardless of your views on the twin conflicts in the Middle East. It’s a natural for a movie. But you don’t have to wait for a filmed version to enjoy this wonderful book.

 

About the Author

A hospice social worker with a Master’s Degree from Wayne State University, Carey Neesley has a very rewarding career in which she sees both the best and the worst of human nature.

Her story has been covered on television (ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the Associated Press), in print (The Washington Post, USA Today, AKC Gazette, MSNBC Field Notes, and many other local and national publications), on the internet, (Examiner.com, Detroit Regional News Hub, Hyer Standard, The E & P Publishers, Animal Planet star “Good Dog U” Joel Silverman- Companions For Life, and Greg Mitchell’s website), and on NPR for Melissa Block’s “All Things Considered.”

Raising her son, Patrick, in the same home where she grew up in Grosse Pointe, MIch., Carey still mourns her brother but hopes that through her work with animals in war zones she can help give his memory the honor it so greatly deserves.

About the Co-Author

New York Times best-selling author Michael Levin has written, co-written or ghostwritten more than 90 books, of which eight are national best sellers.  He is the nationally acknowledged thought leader in the delivery of the next generation of business books.  He has cowritten with Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, football broadcasting legend Pat Summerall, NBA star Doug Christie, Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman, three-time Super Bowl winner Chad Hennings of the Dallas Cowboys, and FBI undercover agent Joaquin Garcia.  He has also contributed to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Jerusalem Post, Writers Digest, and CBS News.  He lives with his wife and four children in Orange County, California.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Native Americans’: More Americans are Dropping Census Bureau Ethnic Designations in Favor of Just Plain ‘American’

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen 
BOOK REVIEW: 'Native Americans': More Americans are Dropping Census Bureau Ethnic Designations in Favor of Just Plain 'American'

Encounter Books has published two books that attempt to define what makes Americans American. I’m  reviewing the shorter one first, “Native Americans: Patriotism, Exceptionalism, and the New American Identity” by James S. Robbins (Encounter Books, 194 pages, notes, maps, index, $23.99). I’m still reading the other one, the more than 800 page “Flight of the Eagle” by Conrad Black and should have my review ready for prime time a week or so after Labor Day.

Robbins takes the term “Native American” — usually applied to people who used to be called “Indians” — and says that he qualifies as much as anyone, along with more and more people who reject the Census Bureau’s traditional ethnic designations. Where once people listed “German,” “Irish”, “English”, “Italian”, etc. on census forms asking for their origin, increasing numbers of people are claiming “American” as their national ancestry, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

 By doing so, Robbins says, they are taking a stand in our melting pot of cultures, as authentic representatives of the American nation. This growing social phenomenon serves as the launching point for a discussion of what twenty-first century Americanism means—its roots and its significance—and the unrelenting assault from multiculturalists who believe that the term “American” either signifies nothing or is a badge of shame. Robbins is far from being a disinterested observer in describing this phenomenon: He approves of cutting ties to ancestral homelands that have little relevance to modern day Americans.

Six glossy color maps help explain where the Americans are. There are plenty of Americans in Kentucky and West Virginia, but Americans are found all over the country: They’re not limited to the arbitrary “red” and “blue” state designations.

In descending order, the states with the most Americans are: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and California, Robbins says, adding that “Americans are in the top five ancestry groups, by percentage, in twenty-seven states stretching from Maine to Washington, and the plurality in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas.”

Just as Conrad Black does in his much longer “Flight of the Eagle,” Robbins traces the arc of immigration and how the act of leaving one’s country required courage. “Coming to America required an intense personal drive,” he writes. “The people at the roots of the national identity were self-selected freedom seekers, and the result was a society that emphasized the individual.”

Robbins quotes Steve Jobs who identified  “the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes…the  ones who see things differently and are crazy enough to think they can change the world.” Jobs’s words came from a 1997 Apple advertising campaign but are a good description of many immigrants to the U.S., Robbins says.

Robbins describes the foundations of the American ideal, the core set of beliefs that define American values, and the ways in which these standards have been undermined and corrupted. He also makes the case for the benefits of an objective standard of what it means to be an American and for returning to the values that turned America from an undeveloped wilderness to the most exceptional country in the world. He ends his treatise on an optimistic note.

 

 About the Author

James S. Robbins is Deputy Editor of Rare and a member of USA Today’s board of contributors. He is the author of “This Time We Win: Rethinking the Tet Offensive” and “Last in Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point”, both from Encounter Books. Dr. Robbins holds a Ph D and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts. He also has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in political science from the University of Cincinnati. He has taught at The Fletcher School, Boston University, Marine Corps University, National Defense University, and other schools. He served in government for ten years, and was awarded the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award. He is also a recipient of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association first prize award for editorials.

PARALLEL UNIVERSE: DHS’s Ayo Kimathi Exposed as Racist by Right, Left Sources

  • By David M. Kinchen 
Ayo Kimathi

Ayo Kimathi
Chances are the name “Ayo Kimathi” doesn’t resonate the way Edward Snowden does, but the employers of both men seem to have made major errors in checking out their employees.
The employer of Kimathi, an African-American bureaucrat,  is the Department of Homeland Security. The left-leaning Huffington Post has exposed Kimathi as a racist who not only hates whites and black conservatives, but also President Obama and Louis Farrakhan: Link:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/ayo-kimathi_n_3794900.html?utm_hp_ref=politicsKimathi’s web activities are also reported by the left-leaning Atlantic Wire, operated by Atlantic Monthly magazine: Link:http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/08/homeland-security-employee-moonlights-race-warrior/68600/

 

I was alerted to this situation by right-wing blogger Jim Kouri: Link:http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kouri  who cites the extremely left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center which says that Kimathi  created and maintains a web site ” dedicated to advocating the killing of white people and black conservatives.”  Kouri notes — citing the SPLC — that Kimathi is “is authorized to buy weapons and ammunition for the numerous government agencies that came under the umbrella of the DHS when it was created.”What the SPCL found disturbing, according to the Huffington News report,  was that DHS manager Ayo Kimathi operates an inflammatory web site that features gay slurs and the murder of “whites” and the “ethnic cleansing” of “Uncle Tom race traitors,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Ayo Kimathi  calls himself the Internet’s “Irritated Genie.” When questioned about his world wide web activities by superiors at the DHS, Kimathi replied that the web site was built as a business venture to sell videos of concerts and selected lecture, according to SPLC officials.Kouri and the other sources noted that Kimathi failed to mention some of the lectures were given by racists such as Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam and close friend of President Barack Obama’s former church pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

However, a visit to the web site reveals the content of “Irritated Genie” which quickly warns visitors about an impending race war. His War on the Horizon, declares, “in order for Black people to survive the 21st century, we are going to have to kill a lot of whites – more than our Christian hearts can possibly count,” the Alabama-based SPLC said in its report.

According to the WOH (War on the Horizon) web site, Kimathi’s organization was “created for the purpose of preparing black people worldwide for an unavoidable, inevitable clash with the white race. Whites around the world are absolutely determined to exterminate Afrikan people in all corners of the earth.”

Kouri: “The SPLC alleges that Kimathi said he received permission for his Internet venture by DHS officials, but it appears he omitted to mention to his superiors the goal of his web site.”

PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Why ‘Working Smart’ May Be the Wrong Advice for Young People

  • By David M. Kinchen 
PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Why 'Working Smart' May Be the Wrong Advice for Young People
   In the waiting room at my Dodge dealership while my Dodge Caliber was getting its oil change and a check as to why the tire air pressure light was on, I came across a Popular Mechanicsmagazine that had a story that intrigued me.
It was by “Dirty Jobs” reality TV star Mike Rowe and was about his guidance counselor in high school telling him he had to go to college and get a degree if he didn’t want to end up doing manual labor.In the article, headlined “Why ‘Work Smart, Not Hard’ is the Worst Advice in the World”: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/why-work-smart-not-hard-is-the-worst-advice-in-the-world-15805614Rowe tells how skilled manual labor jobs are going begging, while many college graduates are either under employed and unemployed — and burdened with tens of thousand of dollars of student loan debt.The poor advice from a guidance counselor came when Rowe was 17 and he largely ignored it. Today, he’s working in commercials and has a wonderful reality TV show that I’ve watched whenever I could.Whenever skilled working is brought up, I’m reminded of my older half-brother Jerry Emke (1932-2000), who excelled as a painting and decorating contractor and who also was a genius with motor vehicles. He could bring the average junkyard car back to top performance, as I knew first hand. I often inherited his rescued and revived cars when I was in high school and college. For my remembrance of this wonderful brother: http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/columns/070227-kinchen-comment.htmlRowe writes about a woman who runs a Caterpillar dealership in Las Vegas who told him she has openings for more than a dozen mechanics who are certified to work on the products she sells and services.

When I was in high school in rural Illinois (1953-57) our school had industrial arts and home economics classes for all students and special programs aimed at the farm kids attending our school, including working on tractors and other farm equipment. I was good at woodworking and other industrial arts courses, as well as most academic subjects (but not math!)  but  my guidance counselors tried to discourage me from pursuing a career in non academic areas.

The (Mis) guidance counselors have won: Try to find programs today in even the largest high schools that were offered routinely back then. For the most part, schools largely ignore people who aren’t interested in a four-year college degree and who want to work with their hands in “dirty jobs.” Guidance counselors — with their  college degrees  — simply don’t understand people who don’t want to go to college.

Germany — to cite perhaps the best example of a nation that values skilled manual labor — is famous for its apprenticeship programs that produce workers who help design and build desirable cars and motorcycles — and that still makes some pretty fine Leica cameras. It’s time we learned from examples like that. Read Rowe’s wonderful piece to discover another career path.

It’s probably too late to go back to retrieve what was wonderful then and still would be wonderful today, but an old guy can dream, can’t he?

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Five Honeymoons’: True Story of California Writer United with Her Childhood Sweetheart After 68 Years Resonates as a Delightful Love Story

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen

 I am not young but I feel young. The day I feel old, I will go to bed and stay there. J’aime la vie! I feel that to live is a wonderful thing. — Coco Chanel

Youth is wasted on the young. — George Bernard Shaw

When Evelyn De Wolfe told me her new book was titled “Five Honeymoons: A True Story” (The Ashlin Press/CreateSpace, 196 pages, $12.95) I responded:  “How can you have five honeymoons when you’ve been married only three times?” OK, if I didn’t use those exact words, they come close

five honeymoons cover

 to what I was thinking about my Los Angeles Times colleague Evie De Wolfe.

One of the best things about working for The Times for almost fifteen years — aside from my wonderful boss, Real Estate Editor Dick Turpin, of course — was my friendship with Evie De Wolfe, among quite a few others at the newspaper in downtown Los Angeles. Just seeing Evie was enough to brighten my day, and visiting her and her third husband, photojournalist Leonard Nadel,  in their home in the Hollywood Hills was enough to recharge me for a week at least.

in “Five Honeymoons” Evie, born Evelyn Ashlin  in Rio de Janeiro (her father was a British subject and she had strong ancestral ties to the land land of her birth and to Rio, her hometown) knew Juan Clinton “Juany” Llerena from their parents’ membership in the Rio de Janeiro Country Club, which had many international members. Juan was of American (on his mother’s side) and Peruvian ancestry and both he and Evelyn Ashlin were multilingual. Many people Evie encountered in Los Angeles, where she began her journalism career, were surprised that this lovely green-eyed blonde was Brazilian. They didn’t know what a melting pot of a country Brazil was and is.

 Bob Armstrong, a childhood friend of Juany, now living in New Jersey, in 2004  re-connected with the man he he knew as a child in Kingston, PA when the Llerenas moved next door to the Armstrongs in 1934. Through emails, Evie reconnected with Juany, now a consultant to the Brazilan port system — an important post in a country that depends a great deal on exports and imports. If it all sounds like a Hollywood story, it’s because it IS a Hollywood story — and a Brazilian one!
The serendipitous reunion of the two childhood sweethearts began in earnest with the delivery from Juany to Evie  of a large envelope with a copy of a photograph of Juany’s 13th birthday party at the country club, along with a letter he’d written  that same year, 1937, describing Evelyn Ashlin to a friend:
“…I’ve marked my girlfriend’s leg with an X [on the photograph]. She’s the prettiest and sweetest girl I’ve met and her name is Evelyn Ashlin. Alas, she may be going to England next year and I suppose that will be the end of our romance….”
five honeymoons back cover
In her Hollywood home, Evie wondered where Juany got the idea she was moving to England: “I chuckled. Why would Juany assume I was going to England when in fact I never left Brazil until I was twenty-one?” She writes that the photo depicted her as a typical 13-year-old bobby soxer, wearing “a pretty white party dress with puffed sleeves”  seated next to the “birthday boy.”  She describes her crush on Juany as “puppy love” but subsequent events proved that this was one long-lived puppy!
She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Brazil at age twenty and worked with the U.S. Embassy as a translater and consultant and later as a researcher for Walt Disney and still later as a journalist for a newspaper in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra CA and later the Los Angeles Times for 40 years in various reporting capacities.
The five “honeymoons” in this evocative book should inspire people who subscribe to the epigraphs I’ve chosen to repeat as part of this review. As long as you’re alive, you should live life to the fullest and in their five encounters Evelyn De Wolfe and Juan Llerena did just that. The two were fortunate that the children of both encouraged the relationship, with Evie’s daughter, Terry, arranging for romantic places for the two and Juany’s family doing the same in Brazil.  Evie’s son from her first marriage, Cleve Landsberg, an independent movie producer, and his wife, Catherine, were also enthusiastic about the reunion of the the two sweethearts. Catherine Landsberg is the daughter of the late Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009), one of my favorite actors, who is most famous for his eponymous role in the British TV series “The Prisoner.” Before his appearance in that wonderful series, he was the star of the British TV series “Secret Agent”, AKA “Danger Man.” The American-born, British reared film and stage actor was also a frequent villain on the TV show “Colombo”, starring Peter Falk.
I heartily recommend “Five Honeymoons” to young people of all ages, men and women. I guarantee that this book will deliver a perfect mix of laughter and tears  by a skilled writer.
About the Author
Author/journalist Evelyn De Wolfe, a graduate of the University of Brazil, was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and came to this country on a student/teacher fellowship to the University of Washington. She served as interpreter for the US Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and the Photographic Unit of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) and was later hired by Walt Disney as a project researcher. She also served as a Hollywood Foreign Press correspondent for Brazilian and British publications, before engaging in a long career as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. A resident of Hollywood, California, she has traveled worldwide on assignments for domestic and international publications and was listed in Who’s Who of American Women.
Reviewer’s Note: As a bonus to readers of this review of a book by my friend Evie, I’m reprinting my review of her book “Across the Herring Pond.”
 Sept. 1, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Across the Herring Pond’: A Wonderful Addition to Time Travel Genre

Reviewed By David M. Kinchen

One of my favorite subcategories of science fiction is the time travel novel. The modern master of this genre is Jack Finney (born Oct. 2, 1911 in Milwaukee and died Nov. 14, 1995 in Northern California). He’s most famous for his 1955 novel “The Body Snatchers”, filmed the following year under the direction of Don Siegel as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” It has been filmed several times since, most recently with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in 2007 as “The Invasion.”

In 1970 Finney’s first time travel novel novel, “Time and Again,” was published. (A sequel, “From Time to Time”, was published just before Finney’s death in 1995). The protagonist of both books, Simon Morley, is working in advertising in New York City in “Time and Again”– Finney was a “Mad Man” in NYC before he became a full-time writer — when he is recruited for a secret government project trying to achieve time travel, with participants steeping themselves in the history and culture of a place and time. Morley did this and traveled back to 1882 New York City through self-hypnosis.

Finney’s classic time travel novel came to mind while I was reading Evelyn De Wolfe’s “Across the Herring Pond” (Trafford Publishing, 364 pages, $26.95, available on Amazon.com.

The Simon Morley of De Wolfe’s fantasy novel is a young American journalist named Evelyn Ashlin, who comes upon a travel journal of a 19th century Cornish squire, who is in fact her own great-great-great grandfather. Quite taken with her discovery, she fantasizes viewing early America as it was almost 200 years ago, traveling back to 1810 Cornwall and traveling to America as his companion.

Empowered by the mind’s inner vision, and with the magic of invisibility at her command, Evelyn Ashlin takes a bold leap backward through time, determined to meet face-to-face with her ancestor and persuade him to let her ride on the coattails of his fascinating adventure. Her portal of entry is an heirloom painting through which she is led magically to the land of Cornwall and the world of 1810.

At first, both annoyed and mystified by the presence of a female “spirit”, Squire James Hosking finally gives in to her wish when promised a trade-off gift he cannot refuse — a glimpse of the future.

Just as Finney gives us a finely detailed picture of Manhattan in 1882 in “Time and Again” so does De Wolfe paints a detailed picture of early 19th century Cornwall and the places of the East Coast of America that she visits with James Hosking. Their ship lands at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, today a popular tourist destination, and — as we embark on a journey through the country — we can almost feel and smell everything.

Evelyn and Squire James travel by ship and stagecoach through a pre-railroad America, visiting the nation’s still new capital city, Washington, where they attend a reception given by President James Madison and his party-loving wife, First Lady Dolley Madison. In those pre-Homeland Security Days, just about anyone can walk up to the White House and talk to the doorman and secure an invitation to a reception. No background check required! Young Evelyn also sees the cruelties of slavery first-hand, on a coastal packet boat where the captain physically abuses a slave who’s a cook on the boat.

De Wolfe has created a remarkable time travel novel in “Across the Herring Pond.” (“Herring Pond” is a Cornish way of describing the Atlantic Ocean, the source of herring favored by the protein-seeking people of the Cornish peninsula. I personally favor their pasties, pot pies that are also a staple of the cuisine of the Upper Peninsula of my native state of Michigan, which has a substantial Cornish-American population.

OP-ED: Prejudice by the Letters

  • By Joseph J. Honick 
Joseph J. Honick

Joseph J. Honick
 In recent weeks, there was a legitimate explosion over the past use of the “N” word by cooking queen and television star Paula Deen.  So hot did the media response become that Deen was quickly “relieved” of virtually all her commercial sponsorships, her programs, in fact just about everything but her apron.  The total costs to her have yet to be calculated.  But she did cross that invisible line!
It is not all that unusual from time to time in the entertainment business for some casual kibitzing about color or religion, but there are logical and unwritten lines beyond which careless commentary causes trouble.  Where you don’t expect such actual prejudice is on broadcasts of the squeaky clean NPR programming.

Thus it was more than a little surprising when NPR’s, self appointed “old shoe” Garrison Keillor in 2009 uttered the following:

“Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that’s their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite ‘Silent Night’. If you don’t believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn ‘Silent Night’ and leave ours alone.  This spiritual piracy and cultural elitism, and we Christians have stood for it long enough.  And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck(Yiddish for feces).  Did one of our guys write “Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we’ll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashana?  No we didn’t!”

He followed that with:  “Christmas is a Christian holiday…if you’re not in the club, then buzz off.”

Among the composers, Keillor was condemning was the writer of what has become almost a second national anthem:  “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin, who was grateful to have made it to the United States from anti-Semitism in his native Russia. Berlin also wrote “White Christmas.”

And just a short list of the songs composed by Jewish writers and popular among all regardless of color and religion ….

*The Christmas Song( Chestnuts Roasting….)

*White Christmas

*I’ll Be Home for Christmas

*Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

*There’s No Place  Like Home for the Holidays….

* “Silver Bells” (It’s Christmas Time in the City)

And many more.

To be sure, there was prompt reaction from Jewish circles rightfully insulted.  But where were the champions of civil rights who quite legitimately jumped on Ms Deen to demand the removal of  Keillor from NPR, the network professing a squeaky unprejudiced policy ?  Answer: AWOL!

In 1967, over CNN, ultra conservative commentator Ann Coulter was asked by then host Donny Deutsch, a Jew:

“You (speaking to Coulter)said we should throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians.”  And Coulter replied: “Yes.”

Same lack of response.

So it comes down to prejudice by the letter: The “N” word is a commercial death sentence as it should be.   The “J” word used as Keillor did was satire, right?  He has continued smoothly as if the events of four years ago had not occurred.

In fairness, efforts have been made to get NPR comment on a rough draft of this article that had been sent to them. When finally reached, representatives at their national headquarters disavowed any control over such programming, asserting that individual stations controlled what was used on their stations.

I was also referred to the company that distributes the Keillor program and called them several times without success.

And, Keillor or no Keillor, those great songs will still be played and sung next Christmas.

Problem is that virtually all NPR stations happily carry Keillor and his crew every Saturday.                                                                            * * *
Honick is president of GMA International Ltd with offices on Bainbridge Island, WA.  He is an international consultant to business and writes on a variety of public affairs issues.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Yaffe’s New Humor Book Takes Light-hearted Look at the Irresistible Appeal of One-line Jokes

  • Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
 BOOK REVIEW: Yaffe's New Humor Book Takes Light-hearted Look at the Irresistible Appeal of One-line Jokes
I like to think I have a pretty good sense of humor. After all, my favorite Woody Allen movies are the early, funny ones. Seriously, Philip A. Yaffe has written a book that should help you answer the question about what constitutes humor, “One-Line Wonders: Humor in the Fast Lane” (Amazon Kindle edition, free wireless delivery, about 308 pages, $7.70).
Looking at experts in quick draw humor — Bob Hope, Rita Rudner, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Woody Allen and Jack Benny to name just six — Yaffe explores what makes jokes funny. Reprinting hundreds of one-liners,  he notes that just as “music is said to be the universal language. The same could be said of humor. Just as people the world over like to listen to and play music, so they like to listen to and tell funny stories.”

“As with music, people have different tastes; some like certain kinds of humor and not others. However, whatever their tastes, almost everyone seems to appreciate one-liners . . . but are disinclined to pass them on,” says  Yaffe. I’ve reviewed many ebooks by Brussels, Belgium based American writer Yaffe, and I found “One-line Wonders: Humor in the Fast Lane” to be up to his usual high standards.

One-liners, he says, are pithy humorous observations told a single sentence or perhaps two at the most. At their best, they are a distillation of everything humor is all about, wrapped up in an extremely small package. But if one-liners are such a highly prized form of humor to listen to, why are we so reluctant to tell them to others?

“I believe this is because a single one-liner is like an orphan. It is only when they come together fast and furious that one-liners reach the apogee of comedic perfection,”  Yaffe says.

“By contrast, telling a single one-liner, no matter how inherently funny it may be, doesn’t benefit from this propitious comedic environment. A single one-liner must stand or fall totally on its own, which is why so often it does fall. Thus, while most people admire the one-liner as the acme of humor, they themselves prefer to tell longer jokes because a longer joke helps create the comedic atmosphere and expectation for laughter that a single one-liner cannot.”

A second reason one-liners told singly often fail is that being so condensed, they assume considerable knowledge on the part of the listener. “With a longer joke, you can set the scene to be certain that the listener will understand the context of the joke. However, with a one-liner, either he immediately understands — or he doesn’t.”

In short, whether or not a one-liner succeeds or fails depends as much, and perhaps more, on the listener than on the teller.

Yaffe’s book  celebrates the one-liner as a particularly well-regarded form of humor rather than to launch a scholarly investigation into the philosophy, psychology, and mechanics of the one-liner. For the most part, it highlights some of the best practitioners of the craft along with some of their funniest lines, e.g. Woody Allen, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, H.L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker, Will Rogers, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, etc

In order to fully appreciate their exceptional appeal, it is useful to understand what underlies them. Therefore, the book also includes a brief discussion of the theory and practice of humor, and specifically the theory and practice of the one-liner. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the book is devoted to displaying and enjoying one-liners themselves.

“So prepare yourself to smile, titter, and even laugh out loud. While you are enjoying yourself, if you also learn something useful, so much the better,”  Yaffe concludes.

About the Author

Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)  with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s daily student newspaper.

He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974.

Books by This Author

•       The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional

•       The Gettysburg Collection:
A comprehensive companion to The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional

•       Actual English: English grammar as native speakers really use it

•       Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it

•       What’d You Say? / Que Dites-Vous?
Fun with homophones, proverbs, expressions, false friends, and other linguistic oddities in English and French

•       Belief, Disbelief, Unbelief: A Thousand Thoughts before You Die

•       Extraordinary Ordinary Things: How Did We Ever Live without Them?

•       One-line Wonders: Humor in the Fast Lane

•       The Little Book of BIG Mistakes

•       The Eighth Decade: Reflections on a Life

Books in “Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists” Series

(at August 2013)

•       Astronomy & Cosmology: Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists
•       Human Biology: Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists

Books in “The Essential Ten Percent” Series

(at August 2013)

•       College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent
•       Human Psychology: The Essential Ten Percent
•       Logical Thinking: The Essential Ten Percent
•       Public Speaking: The Essential Ten Percent
•       The Essential Ten Percent Omnibus: Logical Thinking, College-level Writing, Public Speaking
•       The Human Body: The Essential Ten Percent
•       Wise Humor: The Essential Ten Percent
•       Word for Windows: The Essential Ten Percent

OP-ED: Munich Olympic Massacre Anniversary and UN Hypocrisy

 

  • By Joseph J. HonickPrinter friendly view
Joseph J. Honick

Joseph J. Honick

In about a month — September 4 to be precise — the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah in 2013, it will be the 41st anniversary of the slaughter of Israeli Olympic athletes and coaches in Munich, Germany, by an Arab group calling itself “Black September.”

The assassination group had broken through whatever Olympic security existed and taken the Israelis hostage after killing two of them in cold blood.  They claimed the attack was to secure the release of Arabs taken prisoner in previous hostilities.

 What colors the already savage story of more than four decades past is the memory of whom the United Nations of Hypocrisy chose to condemn afterward.  Unsurprisingly, it was not the Arab murderers.  It was Israel for having responded as any other nation would and for how she responded.  One has to wonder how the UN might have reacted had Israel sent in a similar platoon to do in Arab athletes and their colleagues.

In later years at Olympic ceremonies, even the idea of a minute of silence to memorialize the murdered Israelis was often contested by the usual actors.

With the anniversary of the tragedy fast approaching, perhaps President Obama — in wishing Jews around the world a Happy New Year — might take a moment to cite the significance of the event that so damaged the usually joyful celebration of the Olympics 41 years ago.

Honick is president of GMA International Ltd with offices on Bainbridge Island, WA.  He is an international consultant to business and writes on a variety of public affairs issues.