Saturday, April 30, 2016

Books Alive 2016 Photo Blog

Books Alive returned last weekend, expanded to three days and moved to venues in downtown Panama City. Here are some of the moments I managed to record:
Ginger Littleton, me, and Cheri Leistner (Books Alive committee members)

Local authors area at the Civic Center

Cool projections by Public Eye featured the local authors' work

David Angier, me

Me with Mary McDonough (Erin Walton)

JD from Public Eye and author Milinda Stephenson

Rick Bragg with a Destin book club

Connie Gittard introduces Ellen Urbani, Annie Quinn & Mary McDonough

Kwame Alexander, Kathie Bennett, and Mr. & Mrs. Middlemas

Kwame Alexander meets a young future reader.

Librarian Sandra Pierce and author Olivia Cooley

Refreshments at the library

Margaret Webster of Public Eye & Jennifer Jones of Bay Arts Alliance

Friday, April 29, 2016

Flashback Friday: Doc Savage and 'The River Extraction'

(Originally published Sunday, May 6, 2001, in The News Herald)

Cover Art by James Bama
As a youngster, one of my greatest literary heroes was Clark Savage Jr., better known as "Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze." A millionaire, surgeon and inventor, Doc traveled the planet righting wrongs with the aid of his World War I buddies, Monk, Ham, Johnnie, Renny and Long Tom (and sometimes his cousin Patricia Savage).

Written by Lester Dent under the pen name "Kenneth Robeson," Doc's adventures were set in the 1930s and featured in pulp magazines of the day. I became familiar with him in the 1970s when Bantam reprinted the serialized stories in the form of paperback novels, Marvel Comics published illustrated tales and Warner Bros. produced a campy movie starring Ron Ely.

Without doubt, Doc was the template on which other superheroes and adventurers were built. Clark Kent owes more to Clark Savage than a first name. (A "biography" of Doc released in the 1980s linked him by blood with the English nobleman called Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and Lamont Cranston - "The Shadow.")

Ron Ely as "Doc"
Doc's base was on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, but he also had a secret "Fortress of Solitude" in the Arctic where he exercised his mind and body to the pinnacle of human perfection. Invariably Doc's physical exertions and hand-to-hand battles resulted in his safari clothing being reduced to tatters. (The number of shirts he went through was used to comic effect in the film.)

That image came to mind this week when I heard the tale of Ebro dentist John Savage ripping off his clothing as he dived into the Choctawhatchee River to pull a patient out of a sinking car. (Call it an emergency dental extraction.)

"It was strictly an immediate reaction," Savage said later. "They asked me if the water was cold and I had to say I never even knew if it was cold or not. There was just too much tension and too much tragedy about to happen.

John Savage, DDS
"I tried to get my socks off, but there wasn't time to get them off."

The car had raced out of control and bounded between trees and over a sand bank where Savage's riverside office (and Fortress of Solitude) sits; the driver initially had trouble getting out of the car and then struggled to swim while wearing steel-toe work boots.

"I'd try to help anybody in that condition," Savage said. "I didn't have time to think about it."

Once again, "Doc Savage" was the hero of the moment. Now he's back at his day job - fighting for tooth, justice and the American way.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Flashback Friday: Digressions in infinite complications

(The following was first published in The News Herald on Sunday, April 29, 2001.)

She needed a spoon for her cereal, but none were clean, so she washed all of the dishes, wiped down the counter tops, swept the floor, mopped, noticed dirt on the baseboards and instead of washing them pulled them off the wall and sanded the paint off of them, refinished them, reattached them to the wall, which she suddenly realized needed a new coat of paint in a different color so she went to Wal-Mart, where she bought paint and brushes, and came back home to paint the dining room (and living room and bathroom) walls — never having paused for breakfast.

Did anybody see where that rabbit ran off to?

She wanted to re-seed bare spots in the lawn, so she bought seed, bags of top soil and cow compost, flowering bedding plants, decorative trimming bricks, and went to find a hoe in the shed, but the shed was in disarray so she pulled everything out of it and stacked boxes and junk for a trip to the dump, and stacked other items for Goodwill, then organized the shed and realized that the hoe was not in the shed at all but rather on the side of the house where our spring garden is usually planted but where pine straw was still heavy on the ground, needing to be raked, so she raked the straw into trashcans that also would be carried to the dump — never having got around to seeding the lawn.

Could someone help us catch these wild geese?

She wanted to relax before bedtime with the latest Left Behind book, but the dog had gotten hair on the bed, so she stripped the comforter and sheets and started a load of wash and folded clothes that were in the drier and went to put them away, but the drawers were full of winter clothes so she sorted the winter clothes — setting many aside for donation — and put the remainder in a tote that wouldn't fit into the closet until the closet was sorted — setting several items aside, again, for donation — and by this time the comforter and sheets had been washed and dried so she made the bed and went to sleep — never having cracked open the book.

But I digress.

Getting to the point (if there is one): The walls would not be repainted now if I had run the dishwasher the night before, as I had promised; the shed would not be cleaned if I had put away the hoe; the winter clothes and closets might not be sorted yet, if I had not played with the dog on the bed.

What would she do without me?