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Archive for August, 2010

I must choose my books more carefully as I do not want to make a habit of reviewing Texas books especially when they are too good to make fun of.  First it was my review Texas Star Dark Tonight of Robert Perkinson, Texas Tough: The Rise Of America’s Prison Empire.  Now it is S. C. Gwynne, Empire Of The Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History.

When Texans drop their watered-down textbooks and tell their history like it is, they don’t look pretty but they are certainly interesting.  The introduction of horses to the West changed the Indians of the plains into a mounted army of unsurpassed skills and appetite for killing.  The Comanches excelled.

Indians killed Indians, Mexicans, and American settlers and soldiers.  Settlers and soldiers killed Indians and Mexicans.  And the Spanish and Mexicans did their share of killing.  All the killers lived by various codes of honor and morality.

To wonder how history might have been different for North America is naive and silly.  The bloody conflict over dominance had gone on for centuries before any English or Spanish dropped anchor.

The difference between old antagonists and the new invaders was that the American Indians were of a stone age and Europe had long ago surpassed their stone age.  New diseases, smaller populations, and the loss of the Buffalo marked the Indians for eventual defeat.  One side was not smarter than the other side, although each thought very little of the other.  The forces of Western civilization were unstoppable.  Shameful, but there it is.

Those Western movies I watched as a kid never came close to accurate history or the excitement of the truth.  Now our delicate sensibilities would never tolerate a movie that captured Quanah Parker, the Comanches, and the Texans in living color.  The cost would be prohibitive, but the revenue would be enormous.  The sequels would be endless.

We lost Comancheria and gained Texas.  No takebacks allowed.  Enjoy the book.  Charles Marlin

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The first light book from the Gulf Wars I found is Jonathan Trouern-Trend, Birding Babylon: A Soldier’s Journal from Iraq.  Birders need only the title to whet their appetite.  The second is a breezy, teary account of life in a M*A*S*H sequel Paradise General: Riding The Surge At A Combat Hospital In Iraq by Dr. Dave Hnida.  I liked both books.

Not every war book need be profound or soulful, and the good doctor proves it with his account of life among wonderful doctor buddies helping good guys save the lives of wounded heroes and serving some who die.  You can’t help but like him even if he may be a bit of a bore.

Without bitterness, the doctor describes his Combat Support Hospital, staffing, the base, the presence of contractors, the military strategies that work no better one week than another week months apart.  Perhaps it was a healthy way to cope with the combat stress.  As a reader it may be hard to find the same level of acceptance.  Charles Marlin

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Sing a Song of Sixpence, A bag full of Rye, Four and twenty Naughty Boys, Baked in a Pye.  It is incredulous that for all the scholars and disciples of Walt Whitman it is C. K. Williams in 2010 who discovers this song originally came from Whitman’s early years as a poet.  If that doesn’t motivate you to buy the hand-sized book On Whitman the truth should.  Reading the book will renew your great joy in the poet and your skill in reading him on your own.

Protean words, the poet had them beyond his own measure.  He sang alone, he sang for all, he wanted to conduct choral America.  He succeeded.  That is the story Williams tells with expertise and passion.  Charles Marlin

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It is passing, perhaps to be forgotten.  It was a blending of the physical, aesthetic, and intellectual that felt good in your hand and looked good in your pocket.  It accessorized a cup of coffee or bourbon on the rocks perfectly.  It was the small book that exceeded your expectations, a readable Werther’s Original.

Digital publishing will relegate these pleasures to the unwashed environs of used-bookstores.  Digital readers will think of used-bookstores in the same class a soup kitchens.  Go only when down and alias.

I wish I had known when I moved from farm to campus the role little books would have in my life.  I could have kept the great ones for a unique library with all sorts of arcane parameters and a trash library of little ones judged not to my standards.  Of course a rule good for a university kid could only last so long before needing a revision and a review of the cast offs.

There I would have had my perfect excuse for not attending a university function or faculty party, please I must work on my library of readable Werther’s Originals.  Clearly no explanation should be given as a whiff of mystery adds something to your life collection.  Charles Marlin

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Sometimes a title says all that needs to be said, as this one does Early Cook Forest State Park: The Area Visited through Post Cards and Photographs of the 1930s and 1940s, compiled by James T. MacBeth, local and member of the extended Cook family.

For many visitors this will be the perfect memento for a vacation in or near the park.  Visitors will be able to spot places they know from the many photographs.  The price is $20 plus $1.20 state tax.  There is no distributor so the only locations known to sell the book are the Book Nook in Clarion and the MacBeth Gift Shop in Cook Forest.

Local authors who publish their own books seem to always fail to make the connection between publishing and distribution.  Maybe that’s part of the local charm as well as being inconvenient.

The Longfellow Pine, illustrated here and in the book is the tallest tree in the northeastern United States at 181.3 feet.

The Cook Mausoleum, made of blue granite with a stained glass window displaying logs floating down Tom’s Run, is a site to see and see from.  It is well worth the walk.

The deep dark interior of old forest is everywhere in the park, and will make you a photographic artist.  Charles Marlin

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“Oh, my god! Did you see the gorilla?”

“No. Where?”

“On the riding lawn mower.”

“That’s no gorilla. That’s my Dad.”

“Wow, you two look a lot alike.”

“Yeah, when I get on my Mom’s back that’s what she says ‘You two look, act, and smell alike. I”ll be glad when you’re married off.’”

“Man, what is it with moms?”

***************************************

It’s not often that a book totally debunks a reader and keeps him smiling, but The Invisible Gorilla And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us does it. Written by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, two bald guys who lay it on thick about their degrees, positions, and important friends. But then, we know what is said about bald guys who hang out together.

First, they demonstrate what a worthless eyewitness we make most of the time. If you are out looking for deer you’re going to miss the eagle over head. If you’re looking for faults you will rarely see the good things about a person. The things you miss are just as plain as a gorilla standing in front of you.

You may give up using your cell phone while driving after only one chapter of the book. At least, your friends and neighbors hope so.

There is not a dull chapter in the book, and every chapter can make you a better person if you apply what you learned. This book might even get you through the sullen and conflict riddled teen years of your children. The book speaks to a more reliable trust and understanding than parental love alone.

We may all know both the limitations and good uses of our intuitions, but it is hard to make use of that understanding in the rush to survive each day with the will to try again tomorrow. Even a partial application would slow the rush. Rereading the book may give you time to avoid serious damage.

I suggest you stash the book among your cookbooks or in the drawer of your bedside table because those are two places no family member will go near. Decline to loan it to anyone as they will never get it back to you.

This recommendation comes from a 74 year old man who has not worked in years, occasionally talks to himself but never in front of others, and who knows no one of importance that he is aware of. You might say hello but would you trust him to watch your gorilla while you go to the restroom? Charles Marlin

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                      Mr ? Man

# 9  What is the most popular field-of-interest fund?

Mr?Man thinks these are very important questions for every donor and friend of community foundations.

Those funds that are created to respond to grant applications in the community without restrictions are called unrestricted grants funds.  They may have as their field-of-interest all of Clarion County or a township or community such as New Bethlehem, Rimersburg, Sligo, or Clarion.  A qualified nonprofit located within the field-of-interest may submit a grant application.

Clarion County Community Foundation has an all county field-of-interest fund named The Unrestricted Grants Fund, but that would not prevent a donor from creating a fund specifically for their community.

# 10  What about scholarship funds?

Scholarship funds are familiar to everyone because they are often used to memorialize a former student, coach, teacher, or family.  Scholarship funds are a separate type of fund from a field-of-interest.

They are usually restricted to graduating seniors from one or two local high schools, and list the criteria for selecting the scholarship recipients.  The fund committee is often made up of people associated with the school or person memorialized.

For example, CCCF has the Mary E. Shaner Scholarship Fund, created by a bequest in Ms Shaner’s will, for graduating seniors at Keystone High School.  Ms Shaner was a lifetime resident of the Knox community and taught as well as served as librarian in the school district.

# 11  Can anyone donate to a scholarship fund that is already established?

Yes, a donor can select any scholarship fund listed for the community foundation, and make a donation.  Even if the fund has been in existence for generations, donations are always welcomed.  Many scholarship funds are created by a circle of friends and family and supported by various charitable events held each year.  Charles Marlin

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