Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Civil War illustrations from Harper's Weekly

Several single-page illustrations from Harper's Weekly have arrived in the bookshop. These pages, over 150 years old, depict events just a few weeks after they happened.

From the June 7, 1862 issue: General McClellan's Army on the March Through the Woods from Williamsburg Toward Richmond - Sketched by Mr. F. Meyer.

July 19, 1862: The Army of the Potomac—Captain De Hart's Battery Shelling the Rebel Advance at the Battle of Gaines's Mills

August 6, 1864: General Sherman's Advance. This illustration shows the "View of Atlanta from the Signal Station," sketched by Theodore R. Davis.

These and more are at the bookshop in Archdale, but you can e-mail me if you live elsewhere. My favorite is in the online shop: a two-page spread of the Civil War (northern) ironclad navy from September 13, 1862. You can see more detail here.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Happy 50 Years of Star Trek!

50 Years of Star Trek

Today (Sept. 8) is the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Star Trek: "The Man Trap." The sixth episode filmed (including two pilots), the story of the salt-hungry shape-shifter was the first one aired as a "sneak preview" of the new series in 1966.

I was too young to remember the first season, but I vaguely remember watching the series on our small black-and-white TV in the kitchen. My imagination merged with those early viewings until it took me years to accept that the Orion slave girl wasn't blue (oh, green is easy for you NOW).

Growing up with Star Trek (especially in syndication), with its co-ed, multicultural cast of characters, plus the early space shuttle program, influenced my love of space and aviation. I studied aerospace engineering in college and worked in that field for nearly two decades.

Looking back at the series, now, the pilots and first season evolved characters and props so quickly — like Spock's deeply slashed eyebrows and velour uniforms, Sulu changing from science officer to helmsman, Majel Barrett changing from "Number One" to Nurse Chapel. To see the changes, I was trying to decide whether to watch it in production order or as-aired.

The salt-eating creature impersonates Dr. McCoy.
Netflix made the decision for me: they sequence episodes in the order in which they aired.

I'm going to enjoy watching how the now-famous characters grow in these early episodes. In "The Man Trap," Lt. Uhura starts out at the helm or nav station, and later tries to flirt with Spock as he mans the captain's chair. The first casualty is...a blue shirt! Then another blue, and a gold (no red shirts!). Missing from this episode: there's no sign of James Doohan or Majel Barrett.

Will you celebrate Star Trek's anniversary by watching episodes, watching movies, reading fan fiction, or any other way?

Source: Allan Asherman, The Star Trek Compendium, Pocket Books, 1993.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Shirley Deane — entertainer, world traveler, world changer

I got to meet Shirley Deane!

Who is Shirley Deane? — you ask. I didn't know until a couple of years ago. Her book, An Unreasonable Woman: In Search of Meaning Around the Globe, sat on a shelf in my bookshop for at least a year. The title was intriguing, but the cover illustration just didn't grab me. I kept moving it from place to place, until one day I read the blurb, flipped through a few pages, and I was hooked.

Amidst a successful career in music and entertainment, Shirley dropped all that and drove half-way around the world in a Land Rover, by herself except where forced to travel with armed guards.

After a stormy romance in the Middle East, she gave up all her worldy possessions as part of a spiritual journey in India.

Her adventures continued as she edited and published a book on Black South Africans, despite break-ins and death threats from an Apartheid regime.

Shirley Deane and Elizabeth Saunders
Shirley writes her story in simple, quick-moving prose. It's rare to find a nonfiction book that races along like a novel. I devoured the book, then passed it on to a friend.

I was delighted to attend Shirley's recent booksigning at Scuppernong Books.

At "nearly 80," she exuded life and feistiness as she recounted some of her stories.