Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Savery Auction: Ignorance is Bliss For Some

I'm amazed at the ignorance of some people. Classic example: Rita Ledbetter, organizer for an event to commemorate the sale of Alaska from Russia to the United States, The event is held every year at the Pioneer Bar, Sitka, Alaska. This year the event is called the "Slavery Auction".

The Anchorage chapter of the NAACP issued a press release condemning that name."The connotation of buying and selling people against their will-that's nothing to glorify", says Wanda Laws, chapter president. Laws wants the event name changed but is not asking that the event be cancelled.

Ledbetter says she didn't understand what the problem was and confessed that she didn't even know what the NAACP was. "Tell them to stick their nose in their own business and leave us alone", she told the press. Alaska Day chairman Ted Allio told the Associated Press he doesn't see the big deal about the original name. The owner of the Pioneer Bar where the event will be held confirmed that the name will be changed to the "Alaska Day Auction".

The story was reported in the Gawker and the Grio. I wonder how many people reading about the incident don't understand what's the problem. Just think in 2015, there are those that say holding a "Slavery Auction" is okay. Afterall, it's for charity. Stop the madness!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Crime, Mysteries, Murder: Emerald Dynasty Family Style

Family time is important to my family, the Emerald Dynasty. For a number of years, we gathered to discuss the latest release of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. We spent time viewing the movies, discussing the characters and events, and comparing differences between the books and the movies. From these gatherings, we formed a group called the “Sin City Marauders”. During the recent Fall and Winter T.V. seasons, my family gathered every Thursday night to view the latest episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder”. We called ourselves “Gladiators”.

I miss these fun time and lively discussions and plan to propose a summertime activity.  Because of my love of mystery and crime novels and movies, I’m inviting the family to reserve one week night to view some of the genre’s classics. I plan to handle the selection of movies by using a “pot luck” jar. I’ll be placing a number of suggestions in the jar to get the ball rolling. My choices are based on listings from two Crime Companions, namely  “The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time” published in book form by the British-based Crime Writers’ Association and “The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time” published by the Mystery Writers of America. Family members can add additions to the “pot luck” jar at any time.

In case you’re curious, here are some of the selections I’ll put in the "pot luck" jar to get the ball rolling:

The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett (1930)
Archetypal tough guy, detective Sam Spade, risks his reputation by trying to help a beautiful young lady. As his partner gets killed Spade is suspected for murder. The story is a complex web of betrayal and deception, in which everyone tries to get the gold statuette of a falcon. Sam's masculine strength is refreshing in today's world of male insecurity. Also an excellent movie with Humphrey Bogart - but the book is better.

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (1938)
The narrator, a young and shy woman, meets wealthy widow, Maxim de Winter, and falls in love with him. On his grand English estate, Manderley, she is immediately haunted by the powerful presence of the former mistress of Manderley, Maxim's flamboyant late wife Rebecca. This story of emotional horror and evil is classic masterpiece.

The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler (1953)
This is probably the best of Chandler's novels. His hero, P.I. Philip Marlowe, tries to help war veteran Terry Lennox, whose sex-obsessed wealthy wife has been murdered. This quickly gets Marlowe into trouble with cops and crazy gangsters. When Terry is also murdered, Marlowe becomes entangled in his friend's dirty family secrets. In his cynical and crisp prose Chandler delivered a gripping tale of moral corruption.

The IPCRESS File, Len Deighton (1962)
Cold war spy thriller that set the standards for the genre. Highly unusual, with a shrewd sense of humour.

Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
Turow's first courtroom thriller is one of the best legal fiction novels. As a former U.S. prosecutor, Turow has intimate knowledge of legal procedures and can draw the reader into the grittily realistic drama of a murder trial. A dark twist of events transforms prosecutor Susty Sabich from the accuser to the accused.

Anatomy of a Murder, Robert Traver (1958)
Traver's book tells a story of deceit and murder that ends in a sensational trial. Army Lt. Manion has obviously killed tavern owner Barney Quil, the man who allegedly raped his wife. A cunning prosecutor and a determined defense attorney are battling out the convoluted case, with a surprising end. Also a classic Otto Preminger film.

Postmortem, Patricia Cornwell (2003)
Patricia Cronwell's first book in the Kay Scarpetta series is about a brilliant serial killer who is strangling young women. Kay is applying latest forensic techniques to identify the killer, but someone is sabotaging the investigation.

Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith (2001) (First published 1950)
In her first novel published in 1950, Patricia Highsmith introduced the character of a subtle, murderous, sociopath who lives unsuspected for years. Highsmith's psycho-thriller was the source of a famous Alfred Hitchcock film in 1953. The book is one of the great classics of psychological crime fiction.

The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy (1984)
Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet submarine commander has made a fateful decision: the Red October is heading west. This trademark military thriller has launched Tom Clancy's phenomenal career.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (1960)
First published in 1960, the novel is a classic. It is set in Maycomb, a fictional representation of Monroeville, Alabama. The novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and within two years sold more than five million copies in 13 countries. Shame on you, if you have not read "the best novel of the century".

Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris (1988)
Hanibal Lecter, a brilliant psychopath whose nickname is "The Cannibal" because he likes to eat parts of his victims, helps FBI trainee Clarice Starling to get into the mind of a serial killer and hunt him down. The book was made into a terrifying film - starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins.

The Firm, John Grisham, (1991)
About a law firm controlled by the Mafia. It’s one of the best legal thrillers on the market, fast-paced, smart, with believable characters.

Gone Girl: A Novel, Gillian Flynn (2012)
A portrait of a marriage so hilariously terrifying, we can only give you the initial premise: on their fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne’s beloved wife Amy disappears, and all signs point to very foul play. Nick has to clear his name before the police finger him for Amy’s murder. Masterful storytelling.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson (2008)
Publisher Mikael Blomkvist ran a story accusing a prominent Swedish business leader of corruption. But the story is exposed as fraud and Blomkvist faces jail. He temporarily retreats to a small island supposedly for writing another industry leader's biography, but is actually hired to solve a family mystery. This multi-layered mystery is one of the smartest thrillers in recent years.

Eye of the Needle, Ken Follett (2004)
During World War II, The Needle, a ruthless German spy, a young Englishwoman and an investigator are linked together in a breathtaking tale of espionage. This superb thriller is one of the best spy novels ever written.
Queen of Crime Agatha Christie is the Best Selling novelist of all time. Her most famous creations are Miss Marpel (12 novels and 4 short stories) and Hercule Poirot (33 novels and 55 short stories). We could include “And Then There Were None”, “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”, “Death Comes as the End”, or “Murder on the Orient Express”. “The Witness for the Prosecution” ranked #19 as one of the top mystery novel, but should not have been included on the mystery writers’ list. There is no such book. Those who voted for it presumably remember the superb stage play, the equally superb movie or the excellent story on which both were based. (The story’s ending is quite different from that of the dramatic presentations.)

The proposal on gathering the family for mystery/crime viewing and discussions hasn’t been finalized. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. However, why not use the list for summer reads on your own or start a group to view and discuss top mystery/crime novels. It could be fun. Don’t forget to share your adventure with the Emerald Dynasty via The Emerald Quill blog. Enjoy your summer!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Remembering Christa McAuliffe

Christa McAuliffe became the most famous teacher in the U.S. as she prepared to reach for the stars aboard the space shuttle Challenger. A social studies teacher at New Hampshire's Concord High School, she was selected as the first participant in the NASA Teacher in Space Project. She planned to conduct experiments aboard the space shuttle and teach two lessons from space. But tragedy struck, and Challenger disintegrated just 73 seconds after launch. Across the country, schoolchildren were eagerly watching the launch on school televisions, and they were devastated by the loss – but they also were inspired by her story. In the years since, she has been honored for her bravery with dozens of schools named for her, as well as an asteroid and a crater on the moon. We remember McAuliffe's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Let's also remember Zora Neale  Hurston, another notable person who died on January 28th. Read about her in the lead story in our Black History series beginning February 1, 2015.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Working Her Way Back: Paula Deen's Redemption

The last I heard on celebrity "chef" Paula Deen was the termination of various television and endorsement deals in the wake of her inappropriate comments which some considered racist. The race and gender based discrimination lawsuit got lots of media coverage and Paula lots big bucks in the wake of all the negative publicity. When I thought about Paula Deen after the fallout, I felt bad for her and wondered how things could go so terribly wrong in such a short time.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Harvard Honors Du Bois Medal Winners

Sometimes honors are bestowed amid lots of fanfare and publicity, i.e. the Oscars, the Emmy and the Tony Awards. Everybody know about the winners and the nominees. But, many worthwhile honors are bestowed on worthy recipients with little to no bluster and media coverage. Harvard's Du Bois Medals are worthwhile, but not widely covered. The awards have been given since 2000 and many have never even heard of them nor of its winners. This year's awards mark the launch of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

This year, Harvard's Du Bois Medal were awarded to six luminaries Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Director Steven Spielberg, and Georgia Civil Rights Activist and U. S. Rep. John Lewis. The Medal is awarded to those whose work contributed to African and African American culture. It is the highest honor in African and African American Studies.Other honorees were Sr. Presidential Adviser Valerie Jarrett, playwright (Lincoln) Tony Kushner, and NBA Commissioner David Stern. Congressman Lewis and Valerie Jarrett could not attend the ceremony, staying in Washington to address the government shutdown.

Justice Sotomayor, the first Latina Justice, was honored for inspiring children by telling stories of her upbringing, while Spielberg was honored, not only for his film making, but also for establishing a foundation to record oral histories of survivors of the holocaust and other genocides.

In 1890 Harvard awarded W. E. B. Du Bois, the first Ph. D. granted to an African American. Today, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute of African and African American Research.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

More "Star Wars"-The Force Welcomes Lucas-Hobson Baby

The Huffington Post announced exclusively that on Friday, August 9, "Star Wars" filmmaker George Lucas and his wife, Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson, welcomed a daughter into the world.
Everest Hobson Lucas is the first biological child for both parents, but she's far from an only child. The newborn, who was delivered via surrogate, is a little sister to Lucas' adopted children, Amanda, 32; Katie, 25; and Jett, 20.

Lucas and Hobson were married on June 22 at Skywalker Ranch, in Marin County, California. Journalist Bill Moyers officiated the ceremony, and director Steven Spielberg toasted the groom.
In addition to serving as president of Ariel Investments, Hobson, 44, is chairman of Dreamworks Animation and a financial contributor with CBS.

 Lucas, 69, sold his production company, Lucasfilm Ltd., to the Walt Disney Company for $4.05 billion in October 2012. "Star Trek" director J.J. Abrams has since signed on to direct the first in a series of planned "Star Wars" sequels, set to begin filming early next year.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Five Shocking Retirement Facts

Retirement is an opportunity to enjoy the things that make you happy. You need a solid strategy to help ensure you'll have enough income to live comfortably after you stop working. There are several retirement savings and planning strategies for you to consider.

Despite the Dow hitting all-time highs, millions of Americans still have a dismal outlook when it comes to their own ability to retire.