Monday, November 12, 2018

A History of Veterans Day

To all veterans being celebrated today, thank you for your service!
For those of us who aren't veterans, have you ever wondered about the origin of Veterans Day? I have, so here's some history about it from History.com:
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

When Is Veterans Day?

  • Veterans Day occurs on November 11 every year in the United States.
  • In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
  • In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
  • Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November).
  • In Europe, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.
Was any of this information new to you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Mae West: How She Got Away With It


Mae West
Mae West had quite a way with words, yet most people nowadays have probably never heard of her. So just to provide a little background information, she was born Mary Jane West on August 17, 1893 and died on November 22, 1980. 

Her career spanned seven decades and she was an actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian and sex symbol.

She’s best known for her lighthearted use of, shall we say, suggestiveness.


I watched a documentary about her recently and it mentioned that if she’d been slimmer and more glamorous, like Marlene Dietrich for instance, she probably could not have gotten away with the lines that made her famous.
She wasn’t particularly beautiful and her figure was rather matronly, but she certainly had a way with words that kept bringing audiences into the movie theaters of the Depression era 1930s.
When presented with a script, she’d re-write all her lines which certainly seemed to pay off at the box office. 
Marlene Dietrich
Up until 1934, movies were not censored.  But even after they were, Mae West still continued to write provocative dialogue (curtailing it only slightly) to the delight of her audiences. However, in the late 1930’s the Censorship Office cracked down on Mae West’s unique use of words. And after that, the magic of her movie performances disappeared. 
When her cinematic career ended, she wrote books and plays and went on to perform in Las Vegas, the United Kingdom, and on radio and television. 
As far as her opinion on censorship, she said, “I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it."  

Here are some of Mae West’s most memorable lines:

"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."

"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."

“Don’t ever let a man put anything over on you except an umbrella.”

"He’s the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of."

"I believe that it’s better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked."

"Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring."

"A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up."

"Give a man a free hand and he’ll run it all over you."

"A woman in love can’t be reasonable – or she probably wouldn’t be in love."

"When women go wrong, men go right after them."


I've only seen one Mae West movie, 1933's She Done Him Wrong. All I can say is that there will never be another Mae West! Have you seen any of her films? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Prosthetic Masks


Not long ago, I stumbled upon a topic that broke my heart.  Halloween is coming up and lots of kids will be wearing masks as a part of their costumes. I remember those days and loved disguising myself behind a mask.

But what if you actually needed a mask to be seen in public, or just by your family and friends?  That’s the dilemma several soldiers from WW I faced as they returned from the trenches.

WW I took the lives of more than 9 million soldiers, but many returned home blinded or with missing limbs.  Then there were those who suffered the only injury in the UK that provided a full pension, facial disfigurement.

Medicine had advanced by the time of the outbreak of WW I.  Lives could be saved, but saving faces destroyed by trench warfare was a difficult undertaking.

According to Olga Khazan in The Atlantic, "The iconic trenches of World War I were themselves an "unforeseen enemy.” The unceasing machine-gun fire led to a fate that was, at the time, almost as bad as death. Western front soldiers who popped their heads above their trenches would come back down with a nose, jaw, or even an entire face missing." 

The most advanced cosmetic surgery during this time was fixing a cleft lip. So doctors were faced with severe challenges.

There were some crude successes of facial reconstruction, but the task of repairing a broken face beyond repair was left the creation of a mask to cover the injuries.

There was a woman sculptor named Anna Coleman Ladd that made some of the best masks. She, along with artist Francis Derwent Wood, helped hundreds of disfigured veterans re-adjust to society.
Ladd would take plaster casts of a soldier's face and try to re-create an identical cheekbone or eye-socket on the opposite side. Then, using copper, she’d create a full or partial mask.  Then it would be painted to match the skin. The entire mask weighed only about half a pound, and was either hung from a set spectacles or tied with strings to the veteran’s head.

In France alone, 3000 soldiers would have required these masks, but Ladd only made 185.
The masks were not long lasting and would fall apart after only a few years.  But it’s assumed that the men who wore them, wore them to the grave, and none of those masks are in existence today.

There are some excellent articles on the prosthetic masks of WW I (such as this one from Smithsonian), but the photographs included on the subject are not for the faint of heart.  So if you should do some looking, just be prepared.

Is this something you'd ever heard of? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Creamy Portobella Chicken


Here's a recipe from Cutefetti.com that sounds absolutely delicious, and oh, so easy!


Creamy Portobella Chicken

Ingredients
  • 1 Pint of Baby Bellas (or equivalent in sliced portabella mushrooms)
  • 1.5 - 2lbs Boneless Chicken Tenderloins or Sliced Chicken Breast
  • 1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
Instructions
Place chicken in the bottom of slow cooker, evenly dump the mushrooms on top and then cover with the cream of chicken soup. Sprinkle desired about of salt and pepper on top. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Do a taste test to determine if your dish could use a little more salt & pepper. Enjoy!

Does this sound good to you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Inside the Mind of a Murderer

"Every unpunished murder takes away something from the security of every man's life." Daniel Webster

I recently read an excerpt from Michael Capuzzo's new book, The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases. The section I read focused on a woman who murdered her live-in boyfriend after finding out he'd found a "decent girl" to bring home to mom and dad.

I thought the information provided would be useful to anyone developing a character who just happens to be a murderer.

The victim, 24 year old ladies man Scott Dunn, had moved from his well to do home in Philadelphia, to a small West Texas town in hopes of turning his troubled life around. But his real troubles began upon meeting waitress Leisha Hamilton.

A year after Scott's murder, his father, James Dunn, was put in contact with Profiler Richard Walter. By this time the unsolved murder had become a cold case.

Dunn explained the first time he heard from Leisha. She'd found his name on a phone bill and thought he needed to be contacted because Scott had been missing for four days and she was concerned. Dunn had never heard about her. The only girl Dunn knew anything about was Scott's soon to be fiance, Jessica. Leisha claimed Scott had vanished without a trace, only leaving behind his car. And she hinted in subsequent conversations that since she was closest to Scott, she should get his car. Hmm...

Leisha Hamilton
Dunn had recorded Leisha's cold, atonal voice, and played it for Walter, saying he'd never heard anything like it. After Scott's disappearance, police regarded it as a missing person's case. Dunn pushed for a luminol test in Scott and Leisha's apartment. Luminol detects blood as diluted at one part per million. Even after rigorous cleaning, when the chemical is sprayed on walls in darkness, they'll glow blue for 30 seconds. The walls in the apartment glowed blue like they'd been spray painted. DNA tests confirmed the blood as Scott's.

According to Profiler Walter, "the careful cleanup speaks to an elaborate plot. The murder was purposeful, not recreational." Recreational is choosing a random victim for sadistic pleasure. But a carefully organized crime, cleanup, and body disposal indicate a power assertive, or PA killer. "The killing is all about power--incapture, restrain, torture, kill, throw away, 'I win, you lose' kind of power."

Upon examining Leisha's personality, Walter found her very bright, sexy, flippant and manipulative. She had a long list of lovers, husbands, and one night stands, as well as five children--all by different fathers. She claimed only to love the ones conceived in love. Hmm...

The end for Scott came the day Jessica called and Leisha answered the phone. Walter says, "If anything is going to get you killed, it's to reject the psychopath and say, 'I'm better than you are.'"
Scott Dunn

Before Scott disappeared, he was seen sick, leaving a party with Leisha. Walter believes at that point, Scott was poisoned. He speculates that Leisha then called on neighbor Tim Smith to help murder Scott. Smith had sent Leisha fawning love letters saying that if Scott weren't around, they could be together.

Walter says this is classic setup for a female PA killer. She'll enlist trickery to disable a stronger male and/or acquire a sympathetic and weak accomplice.

But calling attention to herself was Leisha's biggest mistake. She called Scott's father. She also played the coquette with detectives on the case calling them with new information and pretending to be afraid of Smith. But she moved in with Smith in order to set him up to take the fall. Walter says, "The need for stimulation is quite insatiable for a psychopath, the ego gratification to prove they're smarter than anyone, the gotcha."

In a later meeting with Leisha, Walter says, "I've noticed you seem to have a great ability to attract men...But for the life of me, I can't figure out what they see in you. Can you explain it for me?" After a startled silence, she smiled and said awkwardly, "Well, I don't know," then excused herself to get back to work.

When a detective with Walter asked why he called her a dog, he said, "Leisha thinks she is smart enough to outwit everybody. What we must do is make her feel insignificant--unimportant. This will drive her crazy, and she may well make a mistake."

Walter later received from a detective a pencil sketch by Leisha of the murder scene. The drawing had been given to the detective by an ex-boyfriend she took up with after Scott. The drawing documented the torture of Scott Dunn. It indicated that she'd chained him to a pallet. At the bottom of the picture was a key depicting handcuffs, a needle, a knife and a gun. Also shown were fists and a blunt instrument.

"This is classic," Walter said. "She drew this to memorialize her achievement." She'd also made other dramatic changes classic to post murder behavior. Walter says killers use murder to to stimulate personal growth. "It was a very dark self-help movement--'I'm Okay, You're Dead." Since the murder, she'd moved on to two more boyfriends and had a child by the last one. She'd also gone to nursing school, while continuing to work as a waitress, and graduated at the top of her class.

Walter says,"If you're accused of being a murderess, how do you cleanse yourself of all suspicion? You become a healer and dress in white."

Leisha was eventually convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Phew! One less murderer roaming the streets.

Hope this information is useful in any future fictional character development you're working on. And be sure to read Capuzzo's book! I'm looking forward to reading the whole thing. How about you? Do you have a true crime work you'd like to recommend?

Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!

Originally posted 8/9/10