Monday, February 24, 2014


In his writer's blog yesterday, our Editor-In-Chief announced the cancellation of the Pro Se anthology Pro Se Presents.
But amongst the stories in that just released last issue is I. A. Watson's novella: Robin Hood and the Maiden of the Tower; thus giving The Free Choice E-zine the opportunity to finally present the second half of our interview with the author.
If you missed part one of our interview with Ian Watson, who writes under the name I.A. Watson, so as not to be confused with the other wordsmith of the same name, you can find it here.

Pro Se Presents 20, cover by Sean E. Ali

TFCE: Ian, your Robin Hood stories were mentioned briefly during our last discussion, but you have done quite a bit of work with the Sherwood Forest archer and company.
I.A.W.: Correct. Mostly by accident. Soon after I’d starting publishing fiction, I was approached by Airship 27 supremo Ron Fortier about the possibility of a novel. He sent me a list of characters he was interested in publishing and said, “Pick one.”
The one that appealed to me most of all was King Arthur, but I felt that was too big a proposition for a done-in-one book. Of the rest, Robin Hood seemed like a good bet. He’s a local lad to me, and he’s one of fiction’s major archetypes. Who couldn’t have fun writing about him?
So I set to work, with an outline that took the readers through Robin’s first year as an outlaw leader of the free men of Sherwood. Lots of Robin stories feature a bit of an origin, but I really wanted to get deep into what transformed a roguish bad lad into the people’s champion of justice over law. Unfortunately, that story turned out to require three volumes instead of one. Fortunately it nicely separated into three stand-alone stories that mean each volume can be read separately.
Book 1, cover by Mike Manley
ROBIN HOOD: KING OF SHERWOOD starts us off, with Robin accidentally
capturing a highborn damsel and that lady becoming Maid Marion. It show how they chivvy each other into becoming the heroes their age needs.
Book 2, cover by Mike Manley
ROBIN HOOD: ARROW OF JUSTICE tells what happens when folks start robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. The Sheriff doesn’t like it, for starters. That volume also includes probably the best-known Robin Hood story, the archery contest. ROBIN HOOD: FREEDOM’S CHAMPION amps the action up as all the consequences of Robin’s rebellion play out. By now we’ve got Prince John, Black Guy of Gisbourne, the Sheriff, and half of England chasing Robin and his men to a really major finale.
The books are produced by Airship 27 in paperback, Kindle, and pdf format, all
Book 3, cover by Mike Manley
linked off my website whose address is down at the bottom of the interview. A short story, ROBIN HOOD AND THE SLAVERS OF WHITBY, is available free online at A Robin Hood comic strip with art by Rob Davis is in ALL STAR PULP COMICS #2.
I’ve also written the novella ROBIN HOOD AND THE MAIDEN IN THE TOWER, which appears in issue 20 of Pro Se Presents magazine and takes place after the trilogy. It’s set a couple of years later, when Prince John is consolidating his power, and this time the action takes place in London; the Tower of the title is the Tower of London – and somebody has to break in there!
There’s a couple of other stories that need telling too. The novella ROBIN HOOD AND THE BLACK MONK is sitting on my hard drive right now biding its time. That one’s the final showdown between Robin and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

TFCE: I’ve really enjoyed your Robin Hood stories. Considering how much of your overall bibliography it comprises, what attracted you to writing historical fiction?
I.A.W.: I like old stories that have resonance with us and our culture. Characters like King Arthur and Robin Hood are part of our literary DNA. Fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty and Red Riding Hood speak to us from childhood at a very primal level. So I enjoy taking events that everyone has at least heard about and using them as elements of stories told using more modern writing techniques.
Author I. A. (Ian) Watson
For example: ancient Greek entertainers made a living telling tales of their hosts’ famous ancestors. That’s why the thirty-seat Argo has seventy-odd named occupants. Nobody wanted his great-grandfather omitted from the heroes’ list, and the minstrel who wanted his fee knew to expand the roster accordingly. But those tales of Jason and the Argonauts were told in a very different style compared to adventure fantasy stories today. There was little reported dialogue or conversation, little exposition about motive or background. We’re told what the characters did, but not always the why. So a talented writer could come to that story and retell it using contemporary literary methods and find a very compelling adventure drama.
And it’s been done. I recommend Robert Graves’ The Golden Fleece to anyone. Scholarly themed and massively entertaining all at the same time. If there’s anyone I try to emulate when I’m writing, it’s Robert Graves.
Historical fiction comes with other advantages. There’s the amazing backdrop,
which adds another dimension to the reader’s mind’s eye picture of events. There are remarkable developments which might not seem credible as made-up plot twists but that can be justifiably used because one can point to an ancient source and say, “See – it happened!” There are things that “everyone knows” about certain eras and events, so the writer can either use that to reinforce his narrative or else challenge it to wake the readers up when something contrary to what they thought was the case happens.

TFCE: What are the difference(s) between historic and traditional fiction?
I.A.W.: Stories set in the past need to inform the reader about the relevant cultural and technological differences. If the country’s occupied by invaders, then that back story needs to be made clear. If there’s a law demanding that all members of a particular faith wear marks to identify them, then that has to be spelled out. If medical science has not yet understood bacteria, then the audience has to grasp that. All assuming this is knowledge that is significant to how the characters and events of the story interact.
In other words, a modern reader can be expected to know what a character in a contemporary story is doing when he uses the Internet. No exposition is necessary. Readers understand that he can look up the address of a multi-national company and learn something of its sinister CEO. That same reader might need to be warned that traveling from York to London by stagecoach takes two days and requires a stop at a coaching inn half way there or that a feudal serf could not legally own property, not even the clothes he stood in, and required his lord’s permission to marry.
This sometimes requires a certain out of exposition. One tries to avoid, “Well, as you know, Lord Harry, since the imposition of Norman Law after 1066 it has become illegal for peasants and serfs to carry arms or bring hunting dogs into royal forests, on penalty of a hand or eye,” but there is a necessary function to inform modern readers of things that would be common knowledge at the time when the story is set.
Attitudes to women, to different ethnicities, to religion, to disability, and plenty of other things have changed through history as well. There’s a choice before any historical author about how to reflect appropriate mores of the time, a balance between realism, pragmatism, and the sensibilities and expectations of an audience.
One last difference is that the reader might know what’s about to happen. If you set your story in Pompeii 79 A.D., then most of your audience might be expecting a volcanic eruption at some point in the narrative. The author has to take into consideration what a reader might know of events to come and make some use of it.
There’s always a balance to be had, of course, between historical veracity and narrative necessity, but that’s no different from choosing how realistic a modern police procedural should be.

TFCE: Do you find doing the research a daunting/difficult task?
Edward Gibbon
I.A.W.: I’m blessed with a good education – although blessed wasn’t the word I’d have used at school. I have qualifications in history and archeology, so I don’t usually have to dig too far to get the basics. As a hoarder I have a good library – well actually, a library, a study, a dedicated comics room, and an overspill book attic in my house. Most of the standard reference texts are there somewhere (some may have crept into my daughter’s room these days), from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles to a weighty seven-volume tome on the Second World War. When that fails, these days the Internet can usually supply. I rarely need to leave the house to find what I need to know.
The sources of historical accounts vary by era and culture. Everything we know about time-of-Christ Britain was written by Romans, including Julius Caesar who had failed to conquer the country; so everything we read about druids and human sacrifice, about men going to war wearing only woad daubs to show how brave they were, is all filtered through Roman perceptions and Roman propaganda. If one wanted to tell a story of Celtic Britain, one would have to decode and select from writings of the period to assemble the facts one wanted to use. Likewise, one would have to decide what of the various historical reports – that is, things written as histories after the period – one wanted to accept.
Geoffrey of Monmouth
For example, Geoffrey of Monmouth was a twelfth century monk. He wrote a medieval bestseller, the epic History of the Kings of Britain, which starts with the Trojan-descended refugee King Brutus settling London, covers various interesting pre-Roman kings like Bladud the Sorcerer and Shakespeare’s King Lear, and gives us very early stories of Merlin and King Arthur. And that was supposed to be a history book. It was taught as history as late as the eighteenth century. Modern historians despise Geoffrey but I love him. He knew how to write things that were true even if they never really happened!
Should one accord Geoffrey’s work importance in establishing a historic milieu? I think so. Not only did he have excellent narrative instincts, but for half a millennium people believed what he wrote to be the absolute truth; so any tale written in that five hundred years has characters who know history according to Geoffrey.
Sorry, a bit off topic there. Research doesn’t usually bother me. It helps me get into the right mood to write a particular era or style. I often write myself an essay to help me acclimatise the information. Sometimes the essays become features in their own right.

TFCE: Just how fictional, for example, is the legend of Robin Hood, compared to recorded history? In other words: what is reality and what is misconstrued? I know what little remains of the real Sherwood Forest is nowhere near its original size!
I.A.W.: Andrew of Wyntoun's Orygynale Chronicle (1377-1384) says of the year 1283: “Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude, Wayth-men ware commendyd gude. In Yngil-wode and Barnysdale, Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale.”
Soon after that, the seminal “first English poem” Piers Plowman mentions him, when the author admits he doesn’t know his Paternoster, but can remember tales of Robin Hood. There’s also a 1439 court case, where the defendant is accused of being “a Robin Hood”; so within two hundred years of the period Robin was said to be around he was a byword for outlawry. The earliest stories of Robin that have come down to us are from the early 15th century, starting with Robyn hode in scherewode stod and Robin Hood and the Monk.
We have a very clear and detailed picture of life around the time in which Robin Hood is supposed to have been active. This is variously accounted to be during the reign and absence of King Richard the Lionheart and the rulership of his brother Prince, later King, John, or of their father Henry II, in the latter part of the twelfth century. It was a time when the feudal system bit hard. England was still in some ways a conquered, occupied country. It was only 125 years or so since Norman invaders had seized the land, imposing new rules over now-enslaved serfs and impoverished peasants. The international Catholic Church had displaced the indigenous and independent Celtic church and held as much control over a citizen’s soul as the Norman overlords held on his body. It was a time when law was used to perpetrate and perpetuate injustices, a time ripe for a folk hero to make a stand.
Robin Hood Statue in Nottingham
That’s not to say there was a Robin Hood; only that one was needed. It’s easy to see why stories of a laughing outlaw who thumbed his nose at authority and stood up for the little people might become such popular tavern fare.
There a small industy out there trying to find “the real Robin”, most of which I’ve managed to offend with my trilogy. It’s the only stuff I’ve written that has provoked letters to the local newspaper and an item on the radio! Nottingham’s multi-million pound tourist industry depends on its Hood connections, so when I followed the earliest traditions in placing Robin’s start in neighbouring Yorkshire (where Barnsdale Forest is), I was kicking over a hornet’s nest. A couple of years ago I even heard from the current Sheriff of Nottingham about it when we met at a dinner.
That said, I’ve drawn my cast and events from the oldest sources available, making choices where there were conflicting versions that best suited the story I wanted to tell, adding in motivations and explanations for events the original chroniclers didn’t bother to footnote. I’ve compromised where reality would trip up a good story – for example, I’ve only peripherally acknowledged that Norman lords, Saxon peasants, and educated clergy spoke three different languages in this era – and I’ve proceeded from the opinion that people will be people whatever their time of birth or social setting. I suspect an oily diplomat, blunt housewife, charming conman, or dedicated soldier are the same from ancient Babylon to distant future Alpha Centuri.

TFCE: Have you taken any liberties with the Robin Hood character(s) that others didn't, or fixed any past misconceptions/mistakes?
I.A.W.: The further back one digs for source material, the more range of choices one has, while still staying true to some version of the character. With Robin Hood, the big choice is whether to make him noble or common. The earliest stories call him a yeoman, that is a free commoner. He’s a low-born lad made good, “one of us”. It was only in Shakespeare’s time, when Robin Hood first appeared in stage plays, that he was associated with the Earl of Huntingdon and assumed to be of noble birth. Everybody loves a lord.
In the end I went with common Robin, the people’s hero. In part that was to avoid the somewhat dated and tacky trope of the superior individual deigning to join the downtrodden people and lead them to success through his innate superiority. In part it was for the fun of having low Robin and highborn Marian interact. For the pro-noble Hood faction, I did establish that the Earl of Huntingdon was probably his birth-father; just not on the right side of the sheets.

TFCE: Considering the difference in eras, how “politically correct” were things back then, compared to how they are today?
I.A.W.: Sticking with Robin Hood, recent versions have become very sensitive on issues of race. This was the time of the Third Crusade, Richard’s reason for leaving the country. Various TV and movie stories have felt it necessary to introduce a wise, noble, and sympathetic Moor to offer some kind of political correctness. Since the original stories have nothing to say about crusading at all, other than to acknowledge it was happening half a world away, I’ve omitted such indulgence. I don’t feel I’m being racist or endorsing religious violence by not bending a story out of shape to address it.
Likewise, various modern incarnations have shied away from Friar Tuck because he is a Christian religious figure. Depicting genuine Christian faith is a modern taboo. Almost all the original sources reference Christianity. On the one had there are the venal and scheming bishops and prelates of a rich and corrupt institution who are amongst Robin’s targets. On the other we have Robin and John’s avowed devotion to the Virgin Mary and Tuck’s flawed but practical Christianity. I’ve tried hard to depict both sides of the story taking place in a world where religion was a pervasive feature of everyday life. There’s plenty of nasty churchmen, and Tuck is a very fallible whiskey priest, but just occasionally when he acts or speaks, it is with true faith and proper Christian intent.
Friar Tuck
One of my favorite scenes is a campfire conversation between Marian’s knightly father and Friar Tuck, wherein the old crusader demands to know why a monk of Christ would associate with outlaws. Tuck replies:

“If our Saviour was amongst us in flesh today, Christ incarnate, where do you think he’d be? In a cathedral with those preferment-chasing modern Pharisees? At court dining with Prince John and his toadies, watching the bear-baiting before the whores come in? In Nottingham with the Sheriff helping him count up his taxes? Or with us in the villages, giving food to the sick, supporting the widows and the orphans, standing up for those the world has trampled down? Where do you think?” The fat friar reached for his tankard. “I’ll wait for him with the outlaws, thank you very much.”

TFCE: And what about Maid Marion? The 2006 BBC (America) adaptation had her take quite an active role, compared to, say Olivia de Havilland in 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Errol Flynn in the title role.
I.A.W.: Marion is quite a late addition to the Robin Hood legends, although she was a legendary character in her own right in her own stories before ever she crashed into Robin’s tale.

TFCE: Really? Afraid I’m unaware of Marion having a solo career before Robin.
I.A.W.: There’s a very old tradition in northern Europe of May Day festivities – maypoles, morris dances, races, country masques, puppet shows and so on, along with some even more rural customs in the fields after sunset. There are traditional characters in these mummers plays, dating back to at least the fourteenth century and possibly much earlier. Marion is the traditional heroine in those stories. The characters are often called “the Knight”, “the Saracen”, “the Fool”, “the Devil”… and “the Marion.”
Marion painting by William C. Wontner
French born minstrel Adam the Hunchback, composing around the late 1200s, only a hundred years after the time of Robin’s stories, wrote the musical play Jeu de Robin et Marion, now the earliest surviving French secular music, but that Robin was a simple shepherd lad. Even then, Marion was a forest maid. It’s held likely that there are whole Marion story-cycles that we’ve lost now, where she was the star.
Meanwhile, Robin Hood was associated with Clorinda, Queen of the Shepherdesses. She’s the earliest heroine in his tales (and in “The Slavers of Whitby”). Robin was quite established as a hero when Marion first appeared in his stories in the sixteenth century.
Marion has also become associated with a real-life historical figure, Matilda Fitzwalter (or Fitzwarren), daughter of one of the Earls who spearheaded the campaign against King John that led to his being forced to sign the Magna Carta. Real-life rumours of John’s attempts to seduce or ravish Matilda are mixed with legendary tales of his designs upon the fair Marion.
In my novels, I try and plot a good narrative course between all the different possibilities, but when we first meet Lady Matilda Fitzwarren in KING OF SHERWOOD, she’s on her way to Kirklees Abbey in disgrace after deterring Prince John’s advances with the assistance of a chamber-pot!

TFCE: Now that’s definitely more in keeping with the image of Maid Marion associated with Robin Hood today.
I.A.W.: True. These days it’s common to toughen up a historic heroine, give her fighting skills or command responsibilities to show she was liberated and capable even in an age where women were marginalised. That’s really not required with Maid Marion. One of her earliest Sherwood appearances has her disguised as a man, fighting Robin to a standstill before they discover each others’ identities. Marion has rarely been portrayed as weak, helpless, passive, or quiet. One ancient source described her: “A smirking wench, none of your coy dames.”
I wanted a version of Marion that could hold her own against a bouncing, exuberant, irreverent Robin. She had to be able to shine beside him, turn him from an outlaw lout to a forest hero. I was really lucky that after a while the two characters clicked in my head and provided their own dialogue thereafter. The problem was shutting them up.

1976 movie with sad ending
TFCE: Considering how some of the movies ended, either in "happily ever after" mode or more dire, like 1976's  Robin and Marian with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the title characters, where they die at the end; did the historical Robin and Marion ever have any children?
I.A.W.: There's nothing about it in any of the older (pre 20th century) stories, but then again there's nothing about any of the merry men's family lives, or the Sheriff's. Except if we follow the Elisibethan strand that identified Marian with Matilda de Fitzwalter, who had known issue by a husband not called Robin Hood (but who might have been Robin turned legit under a different name, I suppose). Her father was the first signatory of the Magna Carta after leading "the Baron's Revolt" that brought King John to heel. Or if we follow the other Elizibethan stage tradition that first made Robin the Earl of Huntingdon (who was actually crusader Prince David of Scotland). He definitely had descendants, one of whom was the famous Scots ruler Robert the Bruce.

TFCE: Obviously there is a lot of material to work with. Other than that yet to be published novella you mentioned earlier (Robin Hood and the Black Monk), is there any chance you will ever return to Sherwood Forest?
I.A.W.: There are a few additional Robin stories that I have considered telling, even to the point of contemplating a fourth volume in the series, but there is definitely at least one more I need to write. Every hero needs an ending. When the moment comes, I’ll get back to THE DEATH OF ROBIN HOOD. That’s as much a part of his lore as his contest for the golden arrow, or his assisting an impoverished knight, or his battle with Black Guy of Gisbourne, or any of his other deeds.
In fact, one thing we often miss out on today in our serial fiction is that final ending, the last bow shot. Batman and James Bond won’t ever really die with a lasting, iconic canon story. Because of that, for all their brilliance, their myths resonate just a little less brightly. King Arthur’s last stand at the Field of Camlaan and Robin Hood’s final bow shot into the forest elevate them to legend.
George & Dragon painting by Briton Reviere
Myths and legends after that? ST GEORGE AND THE DRAGON is one scene off finished. Then I’m planning a volume of stories about Women of Myth. So far I’ve got Cinderella and Blodeuwedd the Flower Maiden done (that name’s pronounced Blood-eye-weath, by the way, saying ‘weath’ as in weather; she’s from The Mabinogion). I’m part-way through Hesione’s story, and then I’m going for Lilith. I’ve got a three-volume novel about the sinking of mythical Ys to run through a third draft of. And there’s lots and lots and lots of King Arthur material stacking up.

TFCE: And that’s on top of everything we discussed in our previous interview.
I.A.W.: These publishers are just so slow! It’s like they don’t want to publish monthly novels by me!
TFCE: Give them time Ian. As great a writer as you are, I (for one) am just not that fast a reader.

All images accompanying this article were either provided by the author or Wikipedia.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Dragons are always warm
Hello Everybody! Waxy Dragon here.

Now, a dear friend of mine is sick, and I hope she gets better soon.
Apparently, she caught a cold.
I have absolutely no idea why she would want to do such a thing.
Why would anyone want to intentionally catch a cold, let alone, what do you do with it after you've caught it?
Personally, I would rather catch heat. Not that dragons are naturally cold; but we definitely prefer the good Spring and Summer weather to Winter.
Of course, if you must catch a cold, this is the right time of year to find one. Can you imagine trying to catch a cold in the Summer? I have no idea where you would look for one to begin with.
All I know for sure is that she's staying home, getting plenty of rest, and having lots of chicken soup; which really surprises me, because I didn't know chickens even knew how to boil water, let alone cook.
My friend told me in an e-mail that her nasal passages are blocked worse than the freeway during rush hour!
But to try and cheer her up, here are a few flu themed jokes.

What kind of flu bug has 24 feet, green eyes, and a pink body with purple stripes?
I don't know, but it's crawling on your neck.

Resting to get better
Are you sure it's a flu bug?
Yes, its nose is running.

Is it "Starve a fever, feed a cold" or "Feed a fever, starve a cold"?
Who cares, either way you get to eat.

Knock, Knock.
Who's there?
Lettuce who?
Lettuce in, it's cold outside!

Why did Dracula take cold medicine?
To stop his coffin.

Like kidney stones, this too shall pass...
But as a special treat, here's a quick trip down Memory Lane with someone else who's always complaining about the cold...

Video clip courtesy of YouTube, while Chilly Willy the Penguin is © Walter Lantz and Universal Studios.

Have a great week everybody. Stay warm and healthy, and please be back here next weekend for more Sunday Funnies!--wd.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


February 26 marks the 95th anniversary of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, USA.


*The 2014 Winter Olympics conclude this weekend in Sochi, Russia. For those interested, the top three medal leading countries at the end of events February 21 are: Russia, Norway, and Canada.
*The Office of the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights is reporting rights violations in
North Korea. Botswana has since ended diplomatic relations with North Korea because of this.
*Although the actual election to decide whether or not Scotland should be independent has yet to be held, much debate about the subject is occurring in Europe.
*Meanwhile, India's Parliament is working to make the historic Telangana region a state.
*Not seeking any special favors, treatment, or privileges, it is reported Pope Francis quietly renewed his personal passport this past week. The Pope has also authorized 19 new Cardinals.
*Matteo Renzi has been officially sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Italy.
*Authorities in Tokyo, Japan have a mystery on their hands as person(s) unknown vandalized books containing references to Anne Frank in public libraries across the city.
*The 67th annual BAFTAs (British Academy Film Awards) were presented February 16, with 12 Years A Slave winning Best Film and Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Cate Blanchett as Best Actress for the title role of Blue Jasmine, and Alfonso Cuaron for Best Director (Gravity).
*Meanwhile, the 2014 BRIT (music) Awards held February 19th declared David Bowie Best Solo British Male Artist, Ellie Goulding Best Solo British Female Artist, and the Arctic Monkeys Best British Group.
*Civil unrest continues in Euromaidan protests, along with instances in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Thai, and Syria.

*Actress Mary Grace Canfield (Green Acres, the Broadway stage) has taken her final bows.
*Journalist Garrick Utley is no longer with us.
*Former Space Shuttle Astronaut Dale Gardner has gone to the final frontier.
*Actor Malcolm Tierney (Star Wars, Doctor Who, Braveheart) has left the stage.
*Maria Franziska von Trapp of the historic Von Trapp Family Singers is no longer with us.

*US President Barack Obama met with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai
Lama, despite protests from China. The cordial meeting lasted roughly an hour, with the President afterward saying the subject of Tibet's freedom from China was never raised, nor was it something within his power(s) to help with.
*The United States Supreme Court is hearing a case that may decide the legality of private gambling.
*Jimmy Fallon has officially started as the new host of The Tonight Show, although the program's start time has been delayed because of Olympics' coverage.
*John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison are scheduled to appear on US Postage stamps between now and the end of 2016, along with Steve Jobs, Harvey Milk, Janis Joplin, and James Brown.

For more news at any time, either scroll down to our IN OTHER NEWS feature at the bottom of your screen or visit any other reputable news source.


Hello Everybody. Lots of ground to cover today, starting with the fact that because of our Memorial Edition of Trivia Time last weekend, (February 15), we didn't get to run our annual PRESIDENTS DAY FAMOUS FIRSTS QUIZ.
Regards of your political views or beliefs, do you know....

Who was the first President of the United States…?
01. To have previously served as Vice President?
02. To serve without a Vice President?
03. To hold the office as an Independent? (And yes, it has been done.)
04. To hold the office as a Democrat?
05. To hold the office as a Republican?
06. To be born in the United States after it became an independent country?
07. To not be born within the continental United States?
08. To be born in a hospital?
09. To physically live in the White House?
10. To work in the Oval Office? (The West Wing, where it resides, was a later addition.)
11. To remarry while in office?
12. To ever have his photograph taken?
13. To ever use a telephone?
14. To ever speak on radio?
15. To ever appear on television?
16. To ever make a coast to coast TV broadcast?
17. To delay delivery of the annual State of the Union address?


As usual, we'll reveal all next weekend. But for now, let's open up THE ANSWERS BOX and discover the results of that aforementioned MEMORIAL TRIVIA TIME QUIZ.
Johnson in "Black Saddle", 1960

Although he performed other roles before and after, Johnson will probably be best remembered as The Professor on Gilligan's Island, but what was the character's actual name? Roy Hinkley.

Madden, circa 1970s

While perhaps best known as Ruben Kincaid on The Partridge Family, what was Madden's first job in show business? Stand up comic.

Seeger, circa June 2007
While there are many accomplishments within his legendary career both on and off the musical stage, what musical instrument is Seeger accredited with introducing to American audiences?

The Steel Pan Drum.
The Steel Pan Drum

Schell, circa 1970s
What movie role within his long acting career won Schell an Oscar?

Hans Wolfe in Judgement In Nuremberg, 1961.

Temple the Ambassador
While the world will remember her fabled acting career as a child star during The Great Depression, she later distinguished herself as an American ambassador to what countries? Ghana (1975-1976) and Czechoslovakia (1989-1992).
Caesar, circa 1961

There is no way to sum up this man's illustrious comedic career in just a few words, but what was his FIRST television show? The Admiral Broadway Revue (1949). True story: the show was cancelled after 26 weeks NOT because of poor ratings, but because Admiral couldn't keep up with the consumer demand for television sets!

Waite, circa 2012
In what is perhaps his most remembered role, what was the full name of his character on The Waltons? Many e-mailed saying John Walton, but because Richard Thomas played "John Boy", aka: John Walton, Junior; that made Waite's character John Walton SENIOR!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Reading is for EVERYONE!
Hello Everybody! Autumn the Puppy here.
Now, depending upon where you live, the weather of late hasn't been all that great. So what do you do while you're cooped up indoors trying to stay warm?

Me? I read a lot.
Yes, dogs read. After all, we're paper trained as puppies. What do you think we do with all that newspaper when we don't need to go to the bathroom?

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of the books I've been reading with you, with my thoughts on them afterward.

The History of Mobile Homes by Winnie Bago
My copy was used to begin with, so there was already a lot of miles on that book.

How to Tell Fortunes by Crystal Ball
I could tell I was wasting my time on this book by the end of Chapter 1!

The History of Armed Heists by Robin Banks
Not every crook wears a suit and tie, or works in politics!

The Successful Lawyers of Suffering by The Firm of Grin and Barrett
Maybe the world is getting too sue happy.

The History of Nuclear Explosives by Adam Baum
I am definitely having second thoughts about getting a microwave oven now.

Guarding the Door by Sergeant Atarms
To the author: from one professional sentry to another, don't quit your day job.

Nobel Prize Cannibals by Laurie Ate
*burp* And you thought Shakespeare was wordy!

The Bestiary of Plant Eaters by Herb Avore
Buffalo, Cows, and Deer, oh my!

"Daddy, Are We There Yet?" By Miles Away
I'm waiting for the sequel: "The Return Trip"

The Beach Bully by Harry Ayp
Sand in your shorts (or fur) is the least of your problems when he's around.

Well, there's plenty more on my bookshelves and in my e-reader to peruse, but that's all the space I have to share with you this weekend. Perhaps we'll get back to this theme another time.
Meanwhile, have a great week and please be back here next weekend for more Sunday Funnies!-AtP

Saturday, February 15, 2014




*The Winter Olympics are under way in Sochi, Russia. For those keeping track, as of earlier today (February 15), the medal leaders were Germany, Switzerland, and Russia.
*Canada has allegedly been dumping its garbage in the Philippines!
*Yemen plans to realign the country into a federation of 6 regions.
*The People's Republic of China and The Republic of China (Taiwan) have started formal meetings after a 65 year hiatus.
*Yoichi Masuzoe is the new Governor-elect of Tokyo, Japan.
*Tammam Salam is the new Prime Minister of Lebanon.
*The United States Federal Government officially recognizes same-gender marriages in legal matters, but it is up to the individual states to allow those unions.
*Scientists at Australian National University believe they have discovered the oldest known star, estimated at 13.6 BILLION years of age.
*Pending the results of an anti-trust investigation, Comcast hopes to purchase Time-Warner Cable.
*Civil unrest continues in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Temple, Circa 2000s
Caesar, circa 1961
Unfortunately, we have lost some notable folks this past week...

*Shirley Temple Black: Former child actress and American Ambassador

*Sid Caesar: Comedy pioneer
*Ralph Waite: actor perhaps best known for his role on The Waltons


For more news at any time, either scroll down to our IN OTHER NEWS feature at the bottom of your screen or visit any other reputable news source.


First and foremost, we are well aware that the Winter Olympics are under way in Sochi, Russia. While we wish all the participating countries and athletes well, The Puzzle Corner unfortunately has just not come up with any appropriate enigmas to commemorate the event. Now then...

To remember some of the people we have lost since the beginning of 2014, a special edition of TRIVIA TIME.
Johnson in "Black Saddle", 1960

Although he performed other roles before and after, Johnson will probably be best remembered as The Professor on Gilligan's Island, but what was the character's actual name?
Madden, circa 1970s

While perhaps best known as Ruben Kincaid on The Partridge Family, what was Madden's first job in show business?

Seeger, circa June 2007
While there are many accomplishments within his legendary career both on and off the musical stage, what musical instrument is Seeger accredited with introducing to American audiences?

Schell, circa 1970s
What movie role within his long acting career won Schell an Oscar?

Temple, the actress
While the world will remember her fabled acting career as a child star during The Great Depression, she later distinguished herself as an American ambassador to what countries?
Caesar, circa 1961

There is no way to sum up this man's illustrious comedic career in just a few words, but what was his FIRST television show?

Waite, circa 2012
In what is perhaps his most remembered role, what was the full name of his character on The Waltons?

We will definitely reveal all next weekend. But for now, let's open THE ANSWERS BOX, and discover the results of our Valentine's Day themed Puzzle Corner from February 8, 2014.

When they were asked that romantic question, the mates to the people listed below all have the letter B somewhere in their name. Were you able to name them all?

01. Mark Harmon = Pam DawBer
02. Don Quixote de La Mancha = Dulcinea del ToBoso
03. Roxanne Kowalski = Charles Bales, in the romantic comedy Roxanne; based upon the story of Cyrano de Bergerac
04. Annie Reed = Sam Baldwin (Sleepless In Seattle)
05. George Takei = Brad Altman

Out of the letters in the word VALENTINE, you can spell:

A, alien, alive, an, ant, at, ate
Eat, eave, even, evil
I, in, inn, inane, it
Lane, late, Latin, lean, leave, lei, lenient, lent, lie, line, lint, live
Neat, nine, nit
Tan, tea, ten, teen, tile, tin, tine
Veil, vein, vent, vial, vile

Other words besides the 43 listed above might be possible.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Happy Valentine's Day
Je t'aime  in French

Ich liebe dich   in German

Ti amo   in Italian

Eu te amo  in Portuguese

Te amo   in Spanish

However you care to say it, today is the day when a lot of people tell their significant others "I love you".

But while some commercial enterprises depend upon this day for revenue, the sentiment is one that should be expressed EVERY day to those important within your heart.

So while we encourage all lovers to (safely) express themselves now, please let those important to you know what is within your heart all the time.


Sunday, February 9, 2014


Humorous Dragon
Hello Everybody!
Waxy Dragon winging her way to you with another edition of The Sunday Funnies!
It's been quite a while since I've done one of these, so it's Open Mike Night!
I'm just going to keep telling jokes because I really haven't thought of a theme or topic for this week's column.
Who knows. Some of these might actually be funny. Ready?

"Am I on?"
"I really didn't like the four letter word my doctor said during the operation I recently had," a man told his lawyer.
"What word was that?" asked the attorney.

What do you call a doctor beneath the sea?
A sturgeon.

Why are hogs like trees?
Because they root for a living.

Do you know the difference between an elephant and a flea?
Elephants can have fleas, but fleas can't have elephants.

Why would you want a blacksmith working in a candy store?
To shoo the flies away.

Why was the farmer jumping up and down in his field?
He wanted to raise mashed potatoes.

What kind of keys do NOT open a lock?
The Monkees, circa 1980s
A donKEY, a turKEY, a monKEY, and the MonKEES: Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, and Mike Nesmith!

And on that ♪ note ♫ everybody, remember that you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish; and please be back with us next weekend for more Sunday Funnies!--wd.

Saturday, February 8, 2014




*The Winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, Russia.
*The Scottish Parliament has voted in favor of legalizing same gender marriages.
*The Mumbai Monorail in India is now officially operational.
*Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered an until now unknown step pyramid.
*Scholars in Greece believe they have discovered two poems written by the legendary Sappho.
*A possible new species of giant jellyfish has washed up on an Australian beach.
*Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam now has a McDonalds.
*Civil unrest continues in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

Within the United States of America...
*Congressional Republicans are apparently dragging their feet on Immigration Reform and extending unemployment benefits, but have passed a farm bill that will also cut federal funding to food stamp programs.
*Jay Leno hosted his last Tonight Show February 6.
*The NFC's Seattle Seahawks defeated the AFC's Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl 48.
*Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has passed away, although authorities are still investigating the circumstances.
*Actor Maximilian Schell (The Sound of Music, Judgement at Nuremberg) has taken his final bow.
*Animation producer Arthur Rankin, Junior (Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Thundercats) is no longer with us.

For more news at any time, either scroll down to our IN OTHER NEWS feature at the bottom of your screen or visit any other reputable news source.