Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Whenever We Left, it Would Have Been the Same


     Unless the USA was willing to stay in Afghanistan for a century and bring back the military draft, President Biden was right to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan. Their government collapsed quickly, which was a surprise. We orchestrated a massive airlift in spite of everything.

    I made the following assertions:

     1. For those who say we should have stayed, let them enlist in the Armed Forces or persuade their younger relatives and friends to do so. Chickenhawks need to refrain from commenting.

     2. Afghanistan was going to be a shitstorm no matter what, regardless of when we pulled out.

     3. Calls to impeach the president are ridiculous.

     4. Some countries are simply never going to be a democracy.

     Finally, I am a Retired Army Reservist with Veteran Status and a chaplain. I have seen too many Soldiers/other GIs who have endured multiple deployments to Afghanistan and/or Iraq, and have sadly seen the consequences of their service. 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

"The Chair " on Netflix.......oh yeah!


  My wife and I watched three episodes tonight. References to "Prufrock" and a good playlist won me over. It's about a struggling English Department with many interesting faculty members. 

   Confession: I do not have a degree in English but have taught it, and other subjects for a long time The only other departments I knew well on the college/university level were German and History. German ones would not be that exciting, at least for television or film. History could be, but English attracts lots of interesting characters. 

   Watch and let me know what you think!



Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Happy birthday, Elvis Costello! August 25


    Elvis is a year younger than me and is one of the most creative musicians around. He also crosses into various genres as effortlessly as other people change shoes, enjoying success and receiving acclaim for wa=hat he does,


What I think is lyrically his best song. Happy birthday!

Monday, August 23, 2021

RIP Don Everly...and remembering Phil also


    The first song I remembered hearing on the radio that I recognized was one of theirs. IT was KDKA out of Pittsburgh, and I suspect it was "Cathy's Clown" because of the drumbeat. Perhaps it was an earlier one; I was born in 1953 and might have been aware of them earlier. They were cool and I liked them.

    So did lots of other people, especially guys. Graham Nash has a fascinating tale of the time he and Alan Clarke (who later formed The Hollies) went to the Manchester, UK hotel were the brothers stayed when on tour. https://www.cleveland.com/music/2014/10/graham_nashs_1960_meeting_with.html

I read about it first in Nash's autobiography  https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Tales-Rock-Roll-Life/dp/0385347561/ref=asc_df_0385347561/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312069097411&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1504284273348674791&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010341&hvtargid=pla-491629462049&psc=1

It is a reminder about how artists influence and mentor each other, even if only fleetingly

    By extension, think about how we influence people even in chance encounters We can do a lot of good if we choose to. Phil and Don could have been polite and moved on. Instead, they inspired people who left their mark on music.

     A bit more about the brothers. Maybe I resonated with them because we had twins as neighbors. They were not musical, but we had a blast...literally...with them. That's for another time.  I suspect the original name was Eberle, which is German, and was anglicized along the way. Phil and Don also went into the United States Marine Corps Reserve during their career. A short time later the Beatles came and music changed forever., 

    The Everlys still made music, but the hits did not keep on coming. A host of musicians/singers acknowledged them as forerunners. Sadly they had a feud but were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the first year of its existence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cabkl15_8Y  Randy Newman wrote this song; Phil and Don recorded it on their "roots" album, an early country-rock unsung LP.


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Northern Appalchia Reivew


     The concept of place is very important in my writing, especially for poetry. When I was asked to be a fiction reader for the NAR, I immediately accepted. Although I have not lived in the area for 57 years, I came back regularly until my aunt passed in 2001; she was the last near relative left in the Monongahela Valley. 

     The region formed me, and my sports loyalties for the most part lie there. My accent and vocabulary are Western Pennsylvanian. Certainly, my tastes and personality have been influenced by other places I have lived, mainly the Philadelphia area and Germany. 

     As I was working on the Botley novel, I was glad to read some fiction and get an idea about the new genre. Submissions to the NAR are still open, but hurry as they will close soon.

    Lik to Vol. 2:  https://www.sunburypress.com/products/northern-appalachia-review-v2?variant=39364387504221

And for the Botleys.....https://www.blurb.com/b/10799783-the-botleys-of-beaumont-county

Monday, August 16, 2021

Eustacia Botley, Ultimate Church Lady "The Botleys of Beaumont County" on Blurb!


     Dana Carvey created "The Church Lady" on SNL, largely based on his experience in a Lutheran congregation while growing up. She is dressed well, but not flashy, attends all of the time, and makes snide comments about everyone else's shortcomings. In her mind, she has none of her own.

     Eustacia is the widowed mother of Slerd Jr. and Dexter. Always in pearls, always with a sharp eye and sharper tongue to family, friends, and complete strangers. She rules over the Women's Group at st. Clement's and also its Altar Guild. She and her friends occupy the center table in the Tea Room where they hold forth on any and all.

     The 21st Century has not been kind to her. She remembers when the Botleys were VERY prominent in Marion and Beaumont County and even beyond. Slerd Jr.'s career and life have stalled. Her husband died too soon. Her priest is acting strangely. Originally a Democrat, the GOP that she embraced has changed. The world has gone trashy, from Marion to Sarah Palin.

     When the Botley family faces its strongest challenges ever, Eustacia attempts to control everyone. This time, she meets resistance.   The result is in the novel!


Saturday, August 14, 2021

Fr. Michael Bertoni, Interim Rector in "The Botleys of Beaumont County: now on Blurb

     An interim rector/pastor comes into a congregation that is in transition. He or she is most likely not going to be there permanently. That is one of the pre-conditions. Because of this, she or he can speak boldly, maintain what is working well, straighten out what isn't, and then move on. 

     I have been there myself. Sometimes it is after a long pastorate that ended well, and sometimes after something else.

     Fr, Bertoni is there after the something else: the debacle of Fr. Johnson/Dmitry Stallworth. St. Clement's needs a strong hand, and Bertoni has it. However, it is a gentle hand also. He is a retired US Army chaplain with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. A few years before he came to Marion, he was in Baghdad.  He is an outsider in several ways. Coming from Philadelphia, he is also an Italian-American; in other words, he has two strikes against him.

     The youth of St. Clement's love him. He visits the shut-ins, is visible in the whole community, and finds community in places that the elite do not. Even though he knows from the start that he will not be there forever, he nevertheless gives his all to the parish and community.

     Most of the action in the novel takes place from November 2008 to the following summer. At the Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost services his sermons play a subtle role in the plot. 

     Like him, I was an Army chaplain (ending at the same rank), spent a lot of time in and around Philadelphia, and am mistaken for an Italian-American at times.

Order the book here at:


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Religion in "The Botleys of Beaumont County" (on Blurb)


     Years ago I rode the subway in Philadelphia one evening. A visitor to the City of Brotherly Love asked me a question, and we struck up a conversation. He was the Superintendent of Education in Florida. Since I had my clerical collar on, we talked about religion.

     He told me he had been a Methodist, but when he prospered professionally and financially, he was invited to join the local Episcopalian congregation. "That's where the prestige is in the South," he told me.

     At that time I had spent three years in Virginia and knew what he meant. I filed that knowledge away. Also in Virginia, I learned about the "jackleg" preachers. They had no formal training but were accepted by a local congregation.

     With the rise of non-denominational congregations ( and even that is a denomination in my view), the money and power have shifted on the religious scene in the US. But when I started the Botley novel, there was no question what religion the family would be.

    I have been licensed as a supply priest in several Episcopal dioceses, and the experience has been very good. Lutherans and Episcopalians essentially have the same beliefs and theology, which is why we have official relationships (not the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and others, but that is another story).

    As the Botleys cling on to authority and prestige in Marion and Beaumont County, so does St. Clement's. Relations with the downtown Main Line churches- United Methodist, Presbyterian, and Southern Baptist are good. St. Philip's is a rural Episcopalian church for those in the countryside with less money; it is served by a part-time priest. Jessica Cavendish's Presbyterian congregation in Rivertown is not as prestigious, since it is where it is. Joe Ed Crudup serves a rural independent congregation for a bit, then establishes his own storefront in town. Nominally Baptist, he creates his own brand of right-wing American Christianity.

    Of course, there are people who have no official religion. Given that Marion is what it is, many of these have loose ties to congregations. Many of them are nominal members since the family would be horrified if they were not on the rolls. 

    Slerd and Jessica take religion seriously, and that adds to their guilt. How do they resolve it?



Saturday, August 7, 2021

Fr. Johnson/Dmitry Stallworth from "The Botleys of Beaumont County" on Blurb


     St. Clement's Episcopal Church plays an important role in my novel. That denomination for years was dominant in the South. Several colonies were officially Anglican. After the American Revolution and the establishment of the USA, the Episcopal Church in the USA emerged. 

     In a town like Marion, many of the leading families attend St. Clement's, or at least are on the rolls. Fr. Johnson comes to Marion from his first parish, which is more remote and smaller. He yearns to be back home in Williamstown on the coast. Sadly, he is someone who is capable enough but who does not stand out. A parish like St. Clement's is the best he can expect.

     Johnson is concerned about liberal trends in his denomination and seeks out Orthodoxy. Many Episcopalians, lay and ordained, felt that same way and sought an Anglo-Catholic parish or actually became Roman Catholic or Orthodox. After Johnson realizes that St. Clement's is not going to indulge his Orthodox tastes, he decides to leave. Insisting on observing the date for Orthodox Easter and excommunicating his vestry does not help, either.

     Orthodoxy appeals to Johnson since he studied Classics and History in college. But the canonical (official) Orthodox groups want him to spend a few years studying. After that, there is no assurance that he will be in or even in the same state as Willamstown. 

     Johnson stumbles across a non-canonical Orthodox group. And things get very interesting. This link has a lot of information and can appear confusing. Soon his transforms to Fr. Dmitry.


  Jump down to section 3, Unrecognized Churches and get an idea.

    To order the book, 


Friday, August 6, 2021

Joe Ed Crudup Was Not Intended to be Real......


     Joe Ed Crudup is a colorful character in "Botleys". He is an arch-conservative, lay preacher and local radio show host where he spews venom against Democrats, Muslims, African Americans, etc.

    Today he could well be elected to public office, maybe to Cong

ress. See this:


   Lawd, have mercy! I mean it!

Reviews Are So Very Important to Writers, and So Hard to Get

      When my first poetry book was published seven years ago, I dutifully asked readers/friends to review it. That book, Places and Times, ...