The Wedding: May 24, 2014

Derek and Kaitie got married.







































































































Human Rights: Why Bother?* or, Hwa, Hwa, Hwa, Hwa, Hwa

I’m watching Latanya Richardson Jackson, Sophie Okonedo, Anika Noni Rose, and Denzel Washington–the cast of Lorraine Hansberry‘s A Raisin in the Sun, now playing on Broadway–on the Charlie Rose show on PBS.

The first time I saw Raisin, I was a high school junior. It was on television, probably Saturday Night at the Movies. The most recent was last week, when it ran on a network that shows old movies 24/7. I’ve never seen it on stage, but if the opportunity arose, I would grab it.

Some stage presentations I see every time I have the chance. I saw Victor Borge three times over the years, the last time only a few weeks before he died. I’ve seen Hal Holbrook‘s Mark Twain Tonight three or four times–I’ve lost count–beginning in the early ’80s. The latest was in San Antonio in 2012, when Holbrook was eighty-seven.

In each performance, Holbrook uses different material, and thanks to Twain, it’s always timely. Two years ago, after reading from Huckleberry Finn and telling The Story of the Old Ram and other humorous pieces, his Twain ended by inveighing against corporations, banks, and corrupt financiers. He also recited The War Prayer. Ugly and true. Nothing funny there.

Two other stage productions I keep going back to originated here in Austin and turn up every fall, if we’re lucky: Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas. I wrote about them in a post titled Day 24: Mulomedic (the original topic focused on my adoption of an underused word, but before I could finish, it strayed).

It’s impossible to explain the Tunas to folks who’ve not seen them in person or lived among the characters.  Suffice it to say, actors Joe Sears and Jaston Williams (also writers) wear multiple costumes and play multiple roles and make fun of the people sitting in the audience laughing at them. A video is worth a thousand words, so for further edification, check online. They’re there.


English: I took this photo of Jaston Williams,...
English: I took this photo of Jaston Williams, Joe Sears while they were costumed as Vera Carp & Pearl Burras. They were appearing in San Diego in the Play “Tuna Does Vegas.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By Philkon Phil Konstantin [Public domain]
Greater Tuna and A Raisin in the Sun intersected in the mid-1990s, when I took my friend Vivian to see one of the Tunas.

I’d first met Vivian when she came to be my mother’s daytime companion, after Mother’s health made it necessary for her to have someone else in the house while I was at work. A nineteen-year-old African-American, Vivian came highly recommended by one of her former high school teachers, who said she was bright, wrote beautifully, and ought to be in college, but was very shy. She was also quiet and spoke only when she had something important to say.

I thought Vivian would enjoy Tuna but wasn’t sure how I would know. True to form, she sat still and silent for the first several minutes.

Then came the scene at Radio Station OKKK, serving the Greater Tuna area, when Arles Struvie and Thurston Wheelis report on the latest production by Little Theater Director Joe Bob Lipsey. Among Joe Bob’s credits, they report, is his all white production of A Raisin in the Sun.

From the seat to my right came a loud Hwa, hwa, hwa, hwa, hwa.

That was Vivian, enjoying the show.


*To fully understand this reference, you must watch the first Greater Tuna clip–The Beginning.













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Mentors and Aspiring Writers on May 18

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas chapter invites you to the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event. Click on the link to Crime Ladies for all the details.

Crime Ladies

2 P.M., MAY 18, 2014

Presented by
The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation
Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

Gale Albright delivers welcoming remarks

W.D. Smith speaks about his mother’s legacy

Russ Hall talks about mentoring

Helen GingerMentors introduce the Aspiring Writers, who read their 500-word submissions to the audience:

Jan Grape

After submissions are read, a buffet is served. Social hour follows and aspiring Russ Hallwriters and mentors have consultation.



Elizabeth Buhmann 2

Our seven aspiring writers for 2014:

Mentor Elizabeth Buhmann and Aspiring Writers Sue Cleveland and Dixie Evatt

Mentor Susan Rogers Cooper and Aspiring Writer Lindsay Carlson

Mentor Helen Ginger and Aspiring Writer Shelby O’Neill

Mentor Jan Grape and Aspiring Writer Jane Shaughness

Mentor Russ Hall and Aspiring Writer Alex Ferraro

Mentor Caroline Shearer and Aspiring Writer Eileen Dew

Shelby  O'NeillAlex FerraroLindsay CarlsonJane ShaughnessEileen Dew

Sue Cleveland

Dixie Evatt

BBS frame

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Sam Clemens’ Mother

Portrait of Samuel Clemens as a youth holding ...
Portrait of Samuel Clemens as a youth holding a printer’s composing stick with letters SAM. Daguerreotype; sixth plate. Plate mark: Scovill. Inscribed in case well: G.H.[?] Jones Jonco? / Hannibal Mo / 1850 / Nov. 29th. On case pad: Samuel L. Clem-/ens – [illegible] / Taken Dec. 1850 / Age 15. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)










My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.

               ~ Mark Twain











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All Over Your Leg

“That cat will write her autograph all over your leg if you let her.” ~ Samuel L. Clemens

from memoirs of Clemens’ secretary Mary Howden which were published in
New York Herald, December 13, 1925

It is 3:30 a.m. I stayed up working on a website for a friend. Then I replied to some emails. Then I wrote several more emails to the same people, as if I thought they were awake and waiting for them. In fact, one of them was awake, and she read my email and replied, so I replied to her.

Then I checked out a page of Shakespearean insults. Earlier in the evening I had found a blog with a title very like the one at the top of this page, so it’s obvious I need a new one–the fact that I’m down to a cow as header is another clue things here are wearing thin; I love cows, but I don’t consider them header material–and before I can do anything else, I must have a title, and the title must be literary. And since Lewis Carroll is pretty well taken up, I turned to Shakespeare. Why I chose insults, I don’t know, except that a while back I found a perfect title there–Guts and Midriff. It’s from Henry IV Part I: Act 3, Scene 3. The entire quotation goes this way:

There’s no room for faith, truth, nor honesty in this bosom of thine. It is all filled up with guts and midriff. 

For vivid imagery, there’s no one better than Shakespeare.

Except for Mark Twain. Finding no insult that seemed appropriate, I turned to a site of Twain quotations and, of course, ended up on the cat page. Twain liked cats. A lot. And his family had a passel of them. Put Mark Twain and cats together, and I’ll read quotations all night without a thought of a blog title.

I think my love of Twain comes from growing up among men who talked like Twain wrote. My father and his Woodward uncles, one of whom lived next door, had the same–I don’t know what, but they had it. If a stenographer had followed them around, the transcripts would have had a lot of Huck Finn in them. When Huck says that Pap has a couple of his toes leaking out the front end of his boot–I can hear my dad saying it. One of my greatest regrets is that the last time he and his three brothers were together, I sat there for three or four hours listening to them remember but didn’t get up and go into the next room for the tape recorder. Well, spilt milk.

Anyway, in my moseying through the Twain and cats page, I discovered the quotation at the first of this post–not something Twain wrote, but something he said to his secretary about the cat that was shredding her dress–and thought it would make a decent post. But when I got it on the page, it looked so small all by itself, so I decided to add a few words of my own. And now I have, so I without further ado, I shall sign off.

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Walk this way

Julia Cameron said this years ago, but I hoped she was wrong. Now that Stanford U has weighed in, however, I have no excuse. Do you? Click the link to Writing Wranglers and Warriors and see what Jennifer Flaten says.

Writing Wranglers and Warriors

Jennifer Flaten This post by Jennifer Flaten

A new study by Standford University finds that walking can stimulate creativity. Last year I logged over 700 miles, I should have creativity coming out my ears!

All kidding aside, I firmly believe this is true, or at least it is for me. It isn’t just walking any repetitive motion painting, digging, etc. gives my mind an opportunity to drift. 024

When I was a teenager, I had a job working for the county. My job involved a lot of painting, meeting setting and housekeeping. I came up with some wonderfully detailed stories in my head during my shifts. Sometimes, I would rewrite books or TV shows to how I thought they should end.

It’s a little harder to drift into that dream state vacuuming the house with a bunch of kids tugging at your attention, but every once in awhile I realize I just cleaned…

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The Tale of Mervyn and LeRoy or, What Price Story?

I’m blogging at Writing Wranglers and Warriors today. Please click over and read the full post.

Writing Wranglers and Warriors


posted by Kathy Waller


I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering. ~ Robert Frost

I have never started a post yet whose end I knew. Or a story. Or a novel. Or an essay. Or . . . ~ Kathy Waller

I am a late bloomer. Unlike Stephen King, I did not start writing stories as soon as I learned to spell.

I wanted to, but I didn’t understand how writers work. I thought I had to know everything when I wrote the first word. Writers, I assumed, created  stories and books in their heads and then put them on paper. I didn’t know any writers, but I knew my mother, who made up stories to tell at nap time.

Moose (Alces alces) crossing a road, Alaska, USA Moose (Alces alces) crossing a road, Alaska, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The most memorable of her creations was the story…

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Kaye George is at Malice Domestic, and Gale Albright, who, along with me, is not, posts a picture of Kaye and one of the cover of her Neanderthal mystery, Death in the Time of Ice (which has been likened to Jean Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear).

Crime Ladies

kaye george at Malice Domestic DITTOIFinalSmall Kaye George discusses her Neanderthal mystery Death in the Time of Ice on the historical fiction panel at the 2014 Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, MD.


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bill at 5 yrs 001
Billie Waller, 5 years old, 1920

My father would have been ninety-nine years old today.

In September, he’ll have been gone for thirty-one years.

It’s easier to imagine him as the child in this picture

than to imagine him at ninety-nine.

Of two things, however, I’m certain:

If here were here today,

his blue eyes would still be twinkling,


 he would still be making us laugh.


When I was a child, my three cousins looked like my mother,

and my grandmother, and my aunts,

but I didn’t look like anyone.

I felt like an outsider and decided I’d been adopted,

although old photographs and witness testimony indicated otherwise.

It was years before I realized I looked like someone after all.

Kathy Waller, 8 years old, 1960
Kathy Waller, 8 years old, 1960