One book leads to another...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Trail Without A Trace

Toward the end of the 19th century, Frenchman Louis Le Prince boarded a train in Dijon headed for Paris. A pioneering inventor, he’d taken many trips to America to secure coveted patents on his latest inventions, and planned to return to finalize his patent pending on the first true Moving Picture Camera – before he vanished.

Le Prince was not on the train when it stopped in Paris, nor were any of his belongings. It was as if he’d never boarded in the first place, except that, as a person of notability, people had seen and talked to him. Though the entire train was searched and every passenger questioned, even Scotland Yard was baffled.

There was, however, plenty of speculation. Had Le Prince committed suicide by jumping off the train? Along with all of his belongings? Had his brother murdered him with an elaborate magic trick? Had his family requested his disappearance due to financial difficulties? Those in the industry had different ideas.

The competition was fierce in the cinematography field and none more so than one American trailblazer who actively obstructed every U.S. patent Le Prince ever sought.  In return, Le Prince assisted in the sharing of pertinent information belonging to the trailblazer to a highly interested group of European patent seekers.   

Consequently, with Le Prince out of the picture (no pun intended), the American trailblazer got the pending patent and possibly many more that might have belonged to Le Prince. Nonetheless, the trailblazer undeniably made quite a name for himself with prior and subsequent inventions of his own; which the world still appreciates today, but eventually Le Prince was all but forgotten.

Until 2008, when a graduate student perusing a timeworn book by Thomas Edison on motion picture history in the New York Library archives found this astonishing handwritten note in the pages, dated September 20, 1890:

“Eric called me today from Dijon. It has been done. Prince is no more. This is good news, but I flinched when he told me. Murder is not my thing. I am an inventor and my inventions for moving images can now move forward.” 

What do you think happened to Louis Le Prince? 

"Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people." - David Sarnoff, Pioneer of American Commercial Radio and TV   


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

He Crowned Thy Good

Good morning America, how are you?

If you’re reading this on Wednesday (as planned) that means the internet hasn’t crashed, we’ve survived the election, the sky didn’t fall and this is still our country! We’re on a roll folks. Let’s keep thinking the good thoughts as we go about preserving America as the greatest country in the world.

I’ve got a huge pot of chili simmering on the stove, but since it’s not yet ready, here’s a couple of what I like to call ‘comfort tunes’

Next week I’ll be digging up ghosts of patents past. Until then, stay strong, stand tall and stand together – We, the People, are the winners!

What song reminds you most of America? How many states have you visited? What is the best thing about living in your state?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

One Day That Is Ours

It’s November (already!) and what a great month to be a writer! Any NaNoWriMo participants on board today? If so, I applaud you! It’s also National Memoir Writing Month and Picture Book Month. Yesterday was National Author’s Day, and today is the first Wednesday of the month when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

It’s also National Book Awards Month and Paul Beatty just last week became the very first American author to ever win the Man Booker Prize for his satirical novel The Sellout. Woot!  Another first award to an American was the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. After a two week silence he has at last accepted the award, saying the honor had left him speechless. And Stephen King has (of course) won another Edgar award this year for his short story called (spoiler alert) Obits

In honor of Plan your Epitaph Day, I go only as far as searching for funny ones. Here are a few I found:

There’s one more celebrated day this month that I’d be willing to starve all year for. But first, can you imagine flying across the nation with high expectations of Thanksgiving dinner swirling in your mind as the anticipation of homemade pumpkin pie has you anxiously checking the time till your plane lands – only to find yourself a passenger on the only unsolved skyjacking in American history!  Nicknamed ‘D.B. Cooper’ (for lack of any other information) for whatever reason chose Thanksgiving eve 1971 to successfully carry out the skyjacking and was never seen again. He does, however, share a nod (albeit somewhat dubious) every year on November 24th.

The IWSG Question of the Month is “What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?”  

My take: I think the only thing better than getting lost in a good book is finding yourself while writing one.

Beaver Moon
The Lunar Society, which included Erasmus Darwin, James Watt and Josiah Wedgewood, took its name from the practice of holding monthly meetings on the Monday nearest to the full moon. Members referred to themselves as the Lunatics.

Have any experiences in your life ever made their way into one your stories? Could you write your own epitaph? What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert? How would you describe a marshmallow to someone who’s never heard of such a thing?

“There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American” ~ Ayn Rand