Adventures around the Web September 30-October 6, 2017


Story Bundle

2017 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle

As always, there’s a writing bundle in time for Nano.  I always like these bundles because the quality is pretty high.

I wouldn’t mind having either my military writer’s guide or my pantser’s guide show up in one of these…

Women in the Military Service for America Memorial Foundation

Women’s Army Corps

Women were recruited into the WACs because of a shortage of men.  They were initially on civilian status, but were later given military status.  The article gives some descriptions of the training, including how the clothes (didn’t) fit, and what it was like to be deployed.  Some things do not change, no matter the time in history!

June Rivers on Little Things

Dick Van Dyke 

The first movie I remember seeing is Dick Van Dyke’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which I named a kitten after).  And, of course, the walnut episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show (if you haven’t seen that one, it has aliens from outer space).  This link is worth it for the video.  I’d like to be like that at 90!

Arlington County, Virginia

George Washington’s Forest

I’ve walked around all these places.  Had no idea about the mill–and I’ve walked under that bridge (though it looks better on the video. I always thought it looks like a place where you would get mugged). Have to check out the last stop and see the tree.

Adventures Around the Web September 2-8, 2017


David Ignatius on the Washington Post

A diminutive woman — and a spy who defined courage

Sometimes people define bravery as someone an extra qualification a person has.  But it’s more like something you have to do because it’s right. Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens’ story about spying during World War II rings like soldiers who receive medals for bravery: She was only a small part of what everyone else was doing.  From Piper Bayard.

Greer Mcallister on Writer Unboxed

Should you Ever Write For Free?

I’ve had writers disagree with me on this (and I know at one point where I disagreed with the writers giving the same advice to me).  Writing for non-paying subconsciously tells you that you’re not good enough to compete with the pros, and it’s very easy to stay at that level.  Though I am one of the few women veterans who writes about war experiences, I’ve stopped submitting to those anthology calls.  None of them pay!  They want to help vets, but they don’t want to pay vets for their writing.  Think about that.

Phil Mawson on BBC News

The Men Who Drew The Mason-Dixon Line

When I drove from Washington State to Washington DC, I crossed over the the Mason-Dixon Line.  I’d heard the name, but didn’t know a lot of history about it.  The article has a map showing the lines, as well some cool bits about the science side.  It’s actually not accurate because of gravity!  From Piper Bayard.

Ashley Feinberg on IO9

Any Animal That Touches This Lethal Lake Turns to Stone

No, this isn’t a made up story.  It’s a real place.  Kind of creepy.  Hmm.  Might make a story.

Tim Kirkpatrick on We Are The Mighty

This is why the Navy wears bell bottoms, and it’s not for fashion

Everything on a military uniform has a purpose.

 

Adventures Around the Web August 19-25, 2017


The Passive Voice

A Check Girl

This is a quote from a Raymond Chandler story.   Wow.  Just wow.

Susan Elia MacNeal on Signature

These Six Incredible Women Served as Undercover Spies During World War II

When I was in school, history that was taught wasn’t particularly interesting.  It was dates and events, not about the people.  Finding things like this on the internet gives history a very different perspective that’s often lost.  And well…spies.  Shared from Gail Reid in the Desert Storm Combat Women Facebook group.

Bored Panda

10+ of the Best Shorts of the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Number two is awesome!

Fossil Guy

Mallows Bay Ghost Fleet Along the Potomac River, Maryland

This is a ship graveyard in Maryland.  I would check it out, but it’s only accessible via the water.  But the story about it is pretty cool.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Business Musings: Eclipse Expectations

Kris was was in the starting place for the eclipse, so it’s got a lot of good details.  But it also talks about how hyped it was and people planned for big business in the totality areas–and didn’t get enough business.  Which slides right into what publishers do with books, like assuming everyone will buy a book because it’s like another book.  Very interesting post on marketing.

 

Apologizing for History


Washington Monument against cloudy skyThis weekend, I wanted to get out and do something fun.  That turned into a trip to the Museum of American History, which is right near the Washington Monument.  It was cloudy out, with rain predicted…and humid and hot.

The museum can be a lot of fun.  Like their Transportation history exhibit, or the one on food (with Julia Child’s kitchen).  There’s even the office of the man who invented  the first video game.  It’s pretty cool looking at how different creative people are.

There were also two exhibits which apologized for history.  I got a problem with that.

  1. History’s best value is if we take all of it into context.  Apologizing takes a piece of it entirely out of context, and devalues the rest.
  2. When the rest is devalued, we don’t hear about the positive things people did.

One of the exhibits that went on apology mode was on the Japanese internment during World War II.

What happened to the Japanese in the U.S. was a terrible thing.  I was glad for the opportunity to read George Takei’s biography, because his internment camp as a child put a different perspective on what happened (it was actually more interesting that the actor part).  I also went to an exhibit several years back (think that was at Freer-Sackler) of items made by people in the camps.  It was both sad and amazing, because it spoke of the power of  human spirit.

But I also have a bit of family history that comes with World War II and the Japanese.

My grandparents lived in San Francisco during World War II.  My grandfather was a minister of a church there.  My grandmother reported that she had to do a submarine watch on the coast of California.

 

After the war intended, there was a lot of distrust of Japanese.  My grandfather gave them jobs around the church.  It was a deeply unpopular thing to do, and he did it anyway.  The Japanese honored him about ten years ago.

History is about putting things into perspective and honoring who we are, warts and beauty and all.  Apologizing robs of us that perspective, which we need as human beings.

 

Woman WWII Prisoner of War


Every time I hear about themed months or “firsts” (first woman this or that), it’s sad to see.  The first is that it seems to be the only way women get visibility for accomplishments and that we really should be beyond firsts … and still aren’t.

When I first got to Washington DC, everyone was still squabbling over the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.  The men were actually saying that the women didn’t do anything … why should they be honored?

This woman was a secretary to a military officer during World War II in the Philippines.  The Japanese attacked and captured her.  But she was smart and thought about what she could do to help herself:

After American and Filipino forces surrendered in May 1942, Finch hid her American background and instead passed herself off as a Filipino citizen to avoid being placed in prison camps with other American civilians.

Then she helped out both the resistance and the POWs:

Landing a secretarial job with a Japanese-controlled fuel distribution company, she managed to direct supplies to the Filipino resistance movement as well as food and medicine to POWs, including the Army officer who was her former boss in the intelligence office.

Unfortunately, she got caught, and the Japanese tortured her.  But she never broke.  Then she was released by American forces.

When she moved to the U.S., then she enlisted in the Coast Guard!

Twilight Zone Origins in War


Being a Science Fiction fan, I grew up on reruns of Star Trek, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Twilight Zone, just to name a few.  Probably the most memorable Twilight Zone episode is the one with William Shatner and the monster on the wing.  I couldn’t help it; I put a nod to that in my last novel.

But one of things I really like is the behind the scenes of how shows were made.  The stories behind the creations.

Twilight Zone originated from Rod Serling’s war experiences and his way of dealing with it in the story:

While taking a picture with a friend during a lull at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific, an Air Force plane dropped a box of extra ammunition that landed on Serling’s friend and flattened him fatally. This event would give him inspiration in many of his scripts and stories.

I remember when I came back from Desert Storm.  It was such a big experience that really, I couldn’t put words to it.  I felt like I needed to bleed off some of the poison of it but my stories turned very dark.  The weird part was that I couldn’t see how dark they were … took someone else to point it out to me.

Though I still couldn’t see it.

About the same time, I did a review of Phil Clay’s Redeployment, a collection of short stories.  I’d committed to the review, opened up the first page, read the first line, and wasn’t sure I could do it.  I didn’t want to go back and say I couldn’t do it, so I skipped to the next story, which was less dark and read it in pieces.  I doubt if many people read the entire book because it was so dark.

But I could see the undercurrent of this anger running through the book–I doubt if the writer knows he has it, but he will eventually.  It was in mine, and I had to back away from it if I wanted to sell anything.

So I had to consciously shift away from dark stories, and even ideas that looked like they were going to veer dark.  I don’t have to think so much about it now, though every now and then it catches me off guard.

And I still write about my time in the military, but it’s very different.

World War II Women in Color


Check out these rare photos of World War II that were originally taken in color.  Color film existed at least since 1939 with The Wizard of Oz, but was still pretty rare because the technology was too new.

But the most striking thing in the photos is that a lot of them feature women.  Women did a lot of jobs during the war, including aircraft spotters, preparing parachutes, and creating munitions.

***

Foot update:  I’m out of the boot and wearing structured shoes (hiking boots).  But I can only walk short distances.  It’s so pretty and nice outside and the flowers are blooming and I still can’t have a walk to enjoy them!

Soon …

The Military Jeep


Jeeps were on their way out when I first enlisted in the military.  My motor transport operator school had us learn how to drive military trucks on one.  It was the only time I saw one; after that, it was replaced by the CUCV (pronounced CUC-V), which is like an SUV.  That was replaced by the Hummer.

So “Jeep in a Crate” caught my eye.  It was actually a scam–get people to buy the government auction lists, but there are some pictures of jeeps being packed for shipping overseas during World War II.  I wonder if the original shape was designed exactly so they could be packed into a crate and then loaded in a shipping container.

And if you want entertainment, check out the story that follows the jeep article for Nazis and flying saucers.

 

The Effects of War (A Christmas and Hollywood story)


I always like to read the behind the scenes of movies and TV series.  I’m not interested in back biting or childish antics of actors, but the personal side of working in a creative environment.

Sometimes even war affects that, like in one of the best known Christmas movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which starred Jimmy Stewart.  Mr. Stewart had just come back from World War II, after serving as a pilot and suffering from PTSD (probably called shell shock then).

When he came back, he struggled to find roles and couldn’t figure out where he fit. I think that’s the case for a lot of veterans, because we come back and everyone’s a stranger to us.  Even the world we lived it looks very different.

And there’s anger.  I remember that when I came back.  It was a weird, unfocused anger.  That turns up in the movie, too:

There’s a scene in the movie where he questions his sanity and he’s got this wild look about him. That’s one scene that really struck me, watching it on the big screen. And the other scene that always made me uncomfortable, but now means so much more to me, is when he’s in his living room and he’s throwing things and screaming at his kids — and his wife and children look at him like, “Who is this man? Who is this monster?” And that is so reflective of what millions of families faced, looking at these strangers who came back from the war with this rage. Stewart played it beautifully. He just lets it out.

Read the article and then watch the movie again.  I know I will.

Stuff and the Army


This post was inspired by comments on moving when I lived in the barracks.  There always seemed to be the assumption that somehow we all lived like monks who had taken a vow of poverty.  In fact one of the biggest impressions that barracks life left me was that where I was living was always considered “temporary.”

I lived in the barracks for six years.  Hardly temporary.

I think some of this comes from World War II military. Despite the fact that WWII was over 70 years ago, it’s still very much a part of our culture.

We have a local insurance company that uses a cartoon general.  WWII fatigues, steel pot helmet, and five stars (a rank that no longer exists).  And Beatle Bailey, which has the same type of uniform, the fat sergeant (who would be kicked out today), and the bay barracks.

So it seems like the imprint WWII made on our culture also impacted the military’s own image of soldiers living in the barracks.

Then, the soldiers would have been temporary, drafted for the war.  Once they finished their hitch, they would go back to civilian life.  It makes sense that everything was temporary.

But it’s seventy + years, and the world’s changed a lot.  What were the soldiers supposed to do once they got off work at 5:00?  Eat dinner, come back, and clean up the barracks and go to bed every night?

For six years?

So there was always that disconnect.  The sergeants sometimes forgot that we did have lives outside of the military.  No one thought hat we might want a place we spent a lot of time in to look halfway decent and not like a place to park for the night.