Erin Moran and the Holiday Inn

I got a bit of a weird feeling when I heard actress Erin Moran once stayed in (and got kicked out of) a Holiday Inn Express in Corydon, Indiana. A little research confirmed it was the same Holiday Inn that Emily and I stayed in while researching Hoosier Hysterical a couple of years ago. Corydon was the original state capital of Indiana, so naturally we spent some time in the area.

We weren't there at the same time as she was, of course. Well, not that I know of, although apparently she lived in the area then. I suppose it could have been the same room.


On the one hand, I was a little offended at the way the news media covered her move to Indiana, as if Moran had been banned to the seventh circle of Hell. (Apparently she and her husband moved here to take care of his mother, after her acting jobs dried up and they lost their California property.) I'd take southern Indiana over southern California any day.

On the other hand, I suspect I'd choose wealthy in California over impoverished in Indiana. She'd hit on very hard times, and didn't make the move for the scenery; those of us trying to work our way up can't begin to imagine what it's like to be a TV star at fourteen, and considered a has-been by thirty. Her happy days were far behind her, and it sounds like she spent the last years of her life trying to drown her sorrows in alcohol. I remember the fresh faced kid on "Happy Days", and can't help thinking she was only two years older than me. It could have been any of us; and it's very sad any way you look at it.


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Book Reviews That Bite

Any author will tell you their success at finding readers lives and dies on reviews. Well, and sales. That's a given.

Actually, not all writers will tell you that. Stephen King doesn't worry about reviews so much. Neither does Rowling, these days. Come to think of it, these days they don't have to worry about sales so much, either.

Still, for most of us reviews are a big deal. There's one thing we all desire more than reviews, though: Good reviews. If the reviews contain the words "greatest ever", "genius", or "eat your heart out, King and Rowling", it's probably a good review. Not always, though. Here's a review I got for my first novel, Storm Chaser:

"This is the greatest ever waste of space--getting people to buy it was a genius con. Eat your heart out, King and Rowling: You'd have never gotten away with this."

So there are always exceptions. Here are some questionable reviews my other books received:


Storm Chaser Shorts:
 "Dude, shorts are never mentioned at any of these stories. Sure, there are some storms, and people get chased once or twice, but that's only two-thirds of the title. No truth in advertising!"


Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With the Albion Fire Department:
"This book should have been way longer. He didn't cover every single day. He missed most nights. And what's this 'or so' crap? This guy will never write another history book again."

The No-Campfire Girls:
"I'm all for adventure, but don't they have a safety director at this summer camp? Arrows, explosives, storms, fires--it's an insurance nightmare. Also, it has all these teenage girls, and no representation from teenage boys; it should have been more gender neutral."

Slightly Off the Mark: The Unpublished Columns:
"Opinions are fine as long as they're mine, but these just aren't my opinions at all. Also, I have the strangest feeling the author is trying to be funny. That's just unacceptable. I'm fairly certain I'm offended."

Images of America: Albion and Noble County:
"Okay, this is lazy, lazy stuff. They're supposed to be writing, and instead they jam the whole book full of pictures. And they didn't even take them themselves! Somebody paid them for this? (Update: Okay, somebody pointed out that 'Images' is in the title, but that's just lazy titling.)"

The Notorious Ian Grant:
"So this offensive guy drives all the way across America just so he can insult people in a different state from the one he usually insults people in. Then he's surprised when people want to kill him. Well, California wisecracking doesn't cut it in the Hoosier state, fella: Take your sexy stubble and go home before you get Tazed just like everyone else in this story."

Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All:
"I appreciated all the photos, but I don't know what they're of. Also, I'll bet the jokes would be funny if I knew what they were about. I think this is about history. I don't like history, but the section on Indiana celebrities was cool. But I've never heard of most of them."

Radio Red:
"I've never heard of this book. Should I have heard of this book? Maybe if it was free, I'd try it. Why do these writers want so much money, anyway?"


I'm afraid to even bring up the newest anthology, The Very True Legends of Ol' Man Wickleberry and his Demise. I mean, it's got violence and ageism in it.  On the other hand, it could be worse. None of the reviewers specifically referred to me as a "bad writer".

Well, none that you'll hear about from me.


Sunrise Over Albion

I posted this photo on Instagram the other day, but didn't get a chance to put it up elsewhere until now:


That's the Albion Fire Department off in the distance, and the Sheriff's Department communications tower to the left. I'd just gotten off work and was really lucky to snap this--the orange dimmed out just minutes later.

Dispatchers Do It By Phone

In 1991, after an unfortunate encounter with a teething baby, a Congressman from Delaware became the very first person to yell, "What's the number for 911?"

Okay, I was kidding about the baby: He just wanted to complain that the Congressional Dining Room coffee had gone cold. Still, he made a basic mistake that led to a delayed emergency response: He tried to dial "nine eleven". In an effort to get the word out that the number for 911 is "nine one one", Congress declared the second full week in April to be National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. (They declared the third full week of April to be Teething Baby Awareness Week.)

Indiana made that same declaration in 1999, and this year April 9-15 is that very same week. That's why, being a public safety telecommunicator myself, I tried to take that week off.

I mean, it was my week, right? Daiquiris in Hawaii for all dispatchers! But it turns out emergency dispatch centers have to be manned 24 hours a day, something they didn't tell me when I signed on.

(Okay, it's possible they did tell me that. It was twenty-five years ago--and while I haven't slept well since then, I have slept.)

I call myself a dispatcher because "public safety telecommunicator" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but the longer term is more accurate. In bigger dispatch centers, one dispatcher might take 911 calls, another might page out ambulances, a third radio police, a forth may be dedicated to fire departments, and so on. In a smaller dispatch center (like mine), the dispatcher might do all those.

He might also enter calls into the computer, do other computer work like arrest warrants, stolen vehicle calls and missing persons reports, run licenses for traffic stops, and take business line calls. He might empty the trash, make coffee, and operate the security doors for the county or city jails. He might set off the local tornado sirens (hopefully during tornado warnings). He (actually, I think most of them are she) might enter missing person and Amber Alert reports into national databases, try to talk down suicidal people on the phone, or talk somebody through doing CPR on their loves ones. He might have to do any combination of the above at the same time.

So "dispatcher" doesn't really cover it.

Part of the time you don't really need all the people who work in a dispatch center. The rest of the time you need three times as many. Sadly, no one has yet come up with a way to predict which time will fall at which--well--time. But there are certain ways to tell if it's going to get busy:

If you just heated up your meal.
If there's a full Moon, regardless of what the research "experts" say.
If some moron just said, "say, it's been quiet tonight".
If you just realized your bladder is screaming at you to take a break.

In the emergency services, breaks are just an obscure theory. They're best taken at the dispatch console, with a microwave nearby. My record for reheating soup is eight time, but hey--I'm a slow eater, anyway.

When 911 calls you away from that already lukewarm chimichanga, it might be to help someone whose little toe has been hurting for three days. Or, it might be that you're about to become the very last person someone ever talks to. Not knowing is a large part of the stress.

I'm told the average career length for a 911 dispatch is 7-10 years, give or take. If you do it longer than 10 years, you qualify as legally insane. I've done it for more than twice that long.

In that time, some of the really serious stuff is actually the easiest. Your house is on fire? Send the fire department. You're having chest pains? Send an ambulance. Many of my least favorite calls come in on the non-emergency line, and start with "Can I ask you a question?" In my business, there's a fine line between "question" and "complaint", but either way it's bound to end up being one of those head scratchers.

There's also the fact that many 911 calls aren't emergencies, and sometimes business line calls are.

So yeah, I think it's great that people in this job get a week of their own--they earned it. You know what I still want to celebrate Public Safety Telecommunications Week with? That's right: a vacation.

But I can wait a little longer for that ... maybe take it on a weekend, in the summer ... during a full Moon.

Central USA discounted--and my book too

I just learned that Arcadia Publishing has discounted all their Central U.S. books until Sunday. It turns out Indiana's in the Central U.S., so my and Emily's book, Images of America: Albion and Noble County, is also discounted--by 35%, which is no slouch by discount standards. Check it out here:

https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467114516

It's the one with all the cool historical pictures about, you guessed it, Albion and Noble County. And it gives you a break from hearing me talk about Radio Red! I mean, for now.


Back to the Saddle Barn ... and the hiking trails

 The Pokagon State Park Saddle Barn opened for business the first weekend of April, and Emily's first day back was that Sunday. The temperature was in the thirties when she got to work, but warmed up to close to sixty by the end of the day. (Her two days this weekend have been in much nicer weather.)

It was her first chance in months to see the horses, and they were glad to see her!

I don't think they cared so much about me one way or another, but apparently they're shedding, so they were happy enough when I scratched some necks.

Meanwhile, confession: It was the first time since our car accident in September that I walked more than a mile at a time. I made about 2.6 miles, mostly on the bike trail, which is easy going. But I did hit a trail along the way and even went off-trail a little--while I still could, before the foliage fills out and blocks cross country travel. My only complications were a little ankle pain and a sore back.

Not that the trails themselves didn't have complications:

Over the winter it was windier than election season. Emily says there were a couple of small trees across the horse trail, although they didn't present a serious problem. This one was high enough that it would have held them up. I vaulted it, which was a remarkably dumb thing for someone in my shape to do in the middle of nowhere.

There was one across the bike trail, too. I'd imagine the park employees will have everything cleaned up in short order--we could see a lot of places where fallen trees had already been cut up and moved.

No idea who the gentleman in the distance is; I didn't notice he was there until after I took the picture. I wonder if he said cheese? The good news is, people are already out and about, enjoying weather that, if not great, is at least better. The bad news is, my allergies are already acting up.

But that's okay, because I love green ... and the green is coming along:


Don Rickles: Thank You For Your Insults



If I were to insult people and mean it, that wouldn't be funny.” – Don Rickles

And there you have it, the secret to his success. These days everybody wants to be an insult comic—just go to the comments of any web article and watch everyone sharpening their verbal knives, hurling insults, name-calling with glee. They all think they’re original, and they all think they’re funny.

“Who picked your clothes—Stevie Wonder?” – Don Rickles

Don Rickles was way ahead of them, plus he was funnier. He got away with it, too. He didn’t care about your race, sex, religion—he just wanted to know what they were so he could make fun of you.
 
“My mother was a Jewish General Patton” – Don Rickles

That's Don on the left, insulting the Japanese during WW II.


How did he get away with it? Easy: He didn’t mean it. Jokes today just seem mean-spirited, like you’re not trying to be funny so much as getting a dig in. 

“Compared to what some of the young comics use for material today, I’m a priest.” – Don Rickles

But with Rickles you got the impression it was all an act—that he never meant a thing that he said. That he was—although he’d deny it—secretly a nice guy. And by all accounts of those who knew him, it was true. That, as he admitted himself, was the trick—to be likeable and liked before you start with the insults.

“Oh my God, look at you. Anyone else hurt in the accident?” – Don Rickles

R.I.P. Don Rickles, 90 years old, World War II veteran and, as Johnny Carson put it, “Mr. Warmth”.

“If I took therapy, the doctor would quit. He’d just pick up the couch and walk out of the room.”
(To Johnny Carson) “That’s it, laugh it up. You’re making $50 million a year and your poor parents are back in Nebraska eating locusts for dinner.”

The video of my TV interview is up online!



“Local Author (That’s me!) Follows the Story”—in which I talk to Eric Olson about planning, not giving up your day job, and the Klan. Oh, and writing.


(Just don’t forget if you search for me online to put in my middle initial, so Mark R Hunter. Otherwise you’ll end up reading about British politicians, Olympic rowers, Hollywood photographers, or dead people.)

Photo courtesy ABC21

Molly Daniels Says, “Happy 'Bison-Tennial’ Indiana!”

Molly Daniels Says, “Happy 'Bison-Tennial’ Indiana!” 

 

50 Authors from 50 States highlights another Indiana author, Molly Daniels:

https://annettesnyder.blogspot.com/2017/04/molly-daniels-says-happy-bison-tennial.html

"I grew up in Tippecanoe County, where I survived the Blizzard of ‘78;  traveled to the Indiana Dunes once; and spent many happy hours canoeing down Sugar Creek, then exploring Turkey Run and The Shades State Parks."  Emily and I were on the way back from visiting Turkey Run and Shades State Parks when our car was totaled in an accident last year; but we don't hold it against the parks.


Oh, and I get a sidebar next to Molly's post. :-)

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Gy_rmmUypC4/WMfEKYPbosI/AAAAAAAAH4E/i_J7CNV-UoovOIjhzdnXkRcBPh7O3KR2ACEw/s1600/4-2%2BFobiddenLove_fullres.jpg

Jeff update

From my sister-in-law:

Jeff's tests came back that it is cancer. They are doing genetic testing on samples to see if there is weakness in  cancer. If they find one , they will do targeted chemo. Which doc said is better to fight it. If not  will do regular chemo. He is taking it all in stride. He says he gonna kick cancers butt!!! Prayers are still appreciated.