Third book signing ... no, really

I’d planned on one book signing this holiday season … now there are three. In addition to the one coming up this Friday at 100 N. Orange Street, I’ll be doing another one a week later in Kendallville—only the second book signing I’ve ever done outside of Albion.
That one will be at The Mini Shops, 134 South Main Street, on Saturday, December 13th. At the moment we’re planning a mid-day signing: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information will be forthcoming, but meanwhile don’t forget to stop by the art show and signing in Albion, during the Christmas at the Village! That’s running from 4-8 p.m. December 5th, and here’s the event page for it:

Speak of the Devil: A Day In The Life Of An Idiot Mayor

Speak of the Devil: A Day In The Life Of An Idiot Mayor: Some links before I get started today. Norma had a  Thanksgiving post . Parsnip had a Square Dog Friday  post. Shelly had more family hist...

Forget Congress, here’s the writing vote

I forgot to announce the results of my Facebook poll, in which I asked everyone which direction I should take my humor writing (other than in a downward spiral):
10 people voted I should sell my column to another newspaper or magazine; a regular income is cool. This I’ve done, with “Slightly Off The Mark” now appearing monthly in the Kendallville Mall. (If any businesses would like to sponsor my column, get in touch!)
9 people thought I should write more humor books; humor books are cool. My new book, imaginatively titled “Slightly Off The Mark” is mostly done, although its release may be delayed by other deadlines, so there.
3 people thought I should try monetizing my blog/website; ads are cool. (Okay, ads aren’t cool, but paying bills is cool.) This is something Emily is looking into. I hope people who support my writing won’t be too offended by that.
2 people thought I should try selling my column on a subscription plan; it could work, and things that work are cool. For now this is something I’m not messing with, as my hands are full elsewhere. Since I’m already with the Kendallville Mall, a subscription plan would involve writing an entirely different regular column, and I’m hearing noises that it doesn’t tend to work well.
1 person thought a part time job at Wal-Mart is a perfectly valid career move. This is what I get for putting in a joke choice. But at least it’s nice to know one of my former English teachers is on Facebook.
Here’s the link to the poll, which is kind of silly considering I already gave you the results:

Well, I didn't vote, but only because it was my poll.

The Real First Thanksgivng … Or Not


Thanksgiving in America continues to be one of the most traditional holidays. It still features the original four hundred year old activities of overeating, football, and complaining about Black Friday.

In the Hunter household, as in all of Indiana and much of the world that’s not outside this country, we battle the overeating. How? By serving food that the rest of the year we hate. Stuffing stuff. Cranberry things. Pumpkin anything. It was good enough for the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians, who the Pilgrims politely invited to share a meal in the new home they’d just stolen from the Wampanoag. The Indians brought a housewarming gift of deer, mostly because they didn’t want to eat cranberries or pumpkin.

But what was actually served at that original celebration? And did they really all sit down at long tables outside, in New England, in November? That’s a recipe for a nice heaping helping of frostbite.

The first Thanksgiving was a three day event, leaving one day each for the meal, football, and Black Friday shopping. The Pilgrims were naturally dismayed to discover no mall or Wal-Mart in sight. Rumor had it there was a Target down the road, but both the trip and the name were a bit more dangerous at the time. They compensated by throwing another feast that third day, during which they discussed the football.

Governor William Bradford sent four men on a fowling mission beforehand. We don’t know for sure what they brought back, but it might have been turkey. It also might have been ducks, geese, or swans, which explains the song they invented about the meal and the entertainment. If it hadn’t taken so much time to memorize it, the song would have been “The Twelve Days of Thanksgiving”. That would have turned our holiday world upside down.

Why are game birds called “fowl”? Because they had no refrigeration. It was a warning: “Eat it fast, before it’s fowl!”

On a related note, this has carried over into football, which during the first Thanksgiving was so primitive that it was watched on a black and white TV, with no remote control, or blimp. Whenever a player gets caught doing something that stinks, it’s called a foul. The spelling was changed during the Great Depression, when a letter shortage caused double U’s to be singled.
There was indeed an abundance of cranberries at the First Thanksgiving, mostly because the Natives used them as dye. (Good dye, although it tended to run in the washing machine.) By then the Pilgrims had run out of sugar, so there was no cranberry sauce or relish or anything cranberry. That’s one of the things they were thankful for.

Potatoes were … absent. The Spanish had discovered them in South America, but they weren’t popular with the English yet. Instead they probably had seafood—lobster, clams, oysters, all that stuff you find on the Thanksgiving menu today. Actually, these days the closest we get to that is either oyster dressing or “see? Food!”

Pumpkin? Absolutely: in their pie, their coffee, donuts, milkshakes … kidding—Starbucks didn’t deliver. Actually they did have pumpkins, but no butter or flour for any kind of crust. They may have hollowed out the pumpkins, filled the shell with milk, honey, and spices, and roasted them in hot ashes.

I’m not making this up. I get paid to do this research.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what kind of beer they washed this all down with. I mean, Sam Adams, right? That’s the state beverage of Massachusetts. But no, it turns out they hadn’t had time to make beer, and didn’t yet have apples for cider, so they drank water. This helps explain all those Pilgrim paintings with dour expressions.

Add this to native foods like plums, grapes, leeks, and squash, and you get … *gasp* … a meal that’s good for you! It turns out health food nuts aren’t a new thing; it’s just that back then it was involuntary.

Interestingly, I found no reference from historical records about stuffing being served at the first Thanksgiving. I suspect the Pilgrims planned it, until the Wampanoag heard about the idea:

“So, once we get the birds ready, we’ll mix old bread crumbs and tasteless vegetables together, throw a bunch of spices on them, and stuff them up the fowl butt. Instant side dish!”

“Um … we’ll just take our smallpox blankets and go.”

Imagine how they reacted to fruitcake.
"You dress funny, but we'll be peaceful friends forever. right?"

dmyates Believe in Yourself: Announcing the Thanksgiving Black Friday Stay at H...

dmyates Believe in Yourself: Announcing the Thanksgiving Black Friday Stay at H...: Why should retail workers have to give up their holiday when we can shop from home? Thanksgiving is a time or family, but modern ...

Another Book Signing -- and Art

Okay, here we go again! Thanks to Dan Gagen’s kind invitation to an artist’s open house, I’m doing another book signing this year: Friday, December 5th, from 4-8 p.m.

It’s the same evening as Albion’s Christmas at the Village, so we’re hoping to get a big crowd up on the Courthouse Square for all the activities going on. As for us, we’ll be at 100 N. Orange Street, the former Black Building at the stoplight, on the southeast corner—look for the place with the big historical mural on the side. Here’s the Facebook event page:

Naturally, we’ll have all my books there … it would be a pretty sad book signing otherwise. This is a chance for anyone who (understandably) didn’t get out in the lousy weather during my previous book signing. Come look at the books, ask questions, and wait for Santa to go by and the Christmas tree to be lit. Bonus: Great art to look at! Dan is a fantastic painter, and has invited some of his artist friends to set up shop, too.

Speak of the Devil: Chasing Down A Runaway Harrison Ford

"The Fugitive disproved the rule that a television remake will become a toxic waste dump of mediocrity at the box office.":

Speak of the Devil: Chasing Down A Runaway Harrison Ford: Some links before we get to today

An Unhealthy Historical Fail

I want to apologize to everyone I’ve been in contact with about photos for the “Images Of America: Albion and Noble County” project. With my daughter sick for so long and in the hospital for over a week, and the book signing to prepare for, I haven’t gotten back to people like I planned to. I’ll get back on it—as soon as I’m feeling better.
Emily gave me her virus, although oddly, I don’t seem to be quite as sick as she’s been. Usually I get the man flu and curl into a whiney little ball (not that I’m not whining).  She’s slowly getting a little better, while I seem to be getting a little worse, so we haven’t been able to visit Charis as much as I’d hoped. Now I’m hoping that by the time you read this she’ll be home, although there’s still a lot of work to do on her health.
What Charis is going through is much worse than bronchitis, and the only thing I can say for it is that it’s not contagious: My shift partner seems to also have what Emily and I have. Sometimes it’s not nice to share.

Speak of the Devil: Why Do We Keep Letting Him Do Eulogies?

Speak of the Devil: Why Do We Keep Letting Him Do Eulogies?: Some links before I get things underway today. Norma wrote about  rules for writers.  Cheryl had some  living history  photographs. Maria ...

I would feel bad, but …

The bad news is, the book signing didn’t go so great. The good news is, the only person at fault was Mother Nature—and we already knew Mother Nature hates me anyway.
I did sell nine books, and got to talk to some great people, and hey—how better to spend a miserable day than in the library? But we got slammed by the weather. Local schools were canceled, roads and sidewalks were slick and icky, and the high temperature was lower than the normal low temperature for mid-November. Nobody wants to go out in crap like that, especially with wind and occasional snow squalls blasting through.
The folks at the Noble County Public Library—who were great, by the way—kept remarking on how amazingly quiet it was. Maybe I should have rescheduled, but after so much time and effort promoting it, I felt duty bound to go on. The library also put in a lot of work, complete with a flier that they posted on Facebook and on their monitor screens. So again, no one can be faulted but the weather, and I still sold more books than I have at some past signings.
My next step: Get those people who would have shown up if it had been nicer to buy books, and promote for Christmas shopping season! Because even an early winter won’t get me down. Much.