Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Curt Flood and Marvin Miller

Marvin Miller, the legendary leader of the Major League Baseball Player’s Association, passed away yesterday at the age of 95.

Curt Flood's challenge of the reserve clause and the subsequent creation of free agency will forever be part of his legacy.

In Curt Flood in the Media, the celebrated ballplayer reflects on his decision to sue the owners:

"It had been germinating in me for weeks. Sooner or later, someone would challenge baseball's right to treat human beings like used cars. 'I want to sue baseball on constitutional grouns,' I told [Marvin Miller]. His eyebrows rose. 'I want to give the courts a chance to outlaw the reserve system. I want to go out like a man instead of disappearing like a bottle cap.'"

Baseball, Race, and the Demise of the Activist Athlete
by Abraham Iqbal Khan
University Press of Mississippi, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reading the History: Kit Carson

History has portrayed Christopher "Kit" Carson in black and white. Best known as a nineteenth-century frontier hero, he has been represented more recently as an Indian killer responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Navajos. Biographer David Remley counters these polarized views, finding Carson to be less than a mythical hero, but more than a simpleminded rascal with a rifle.

This biography strikes a balance between prevailing notions about this quintessential western figure.

The Life of an American Border Man 
by David A. Remley
University of Oklahoma Press, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Reading the History: Calamity Jane

Forget Doris Day singing on the stagecoach. Forget Robin Weigert’s gritty portrayal on HBO’s Deadwood. The real Calamity Jane was someone the likes of whom you have never encountered. That is, until now.

This book is a definitive biography of Martha Canary, the woman popularly known as Calamity Jane.

The Woman and the Legend
by James D. McLaird
University of Oklahoma Press, 2012

Farm and Garden Picks: Tractors of the World

Tractors come in all different shapes and sizes, and Tractors of the World covers the field from the early steam-driven monsters to the traditional "two large, two small" wheel configuration; the Row Crop models with two small front wheels placed close together and two large rear wheels; and finally to the ultimate modern, four-wheel-drive, multigeared, mega-beasts with GPS devices and onboard computers.

by Mirco de Cet
Arctrus Publishing, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: Tales of a River Rat

The "Wild Mississippi" in this collection of essays is the backwaters of the Upper Mississippi River in Minnesota and Wisconsin, some six thousand acres of seasonally flooded hardwood swamps and heavily forested uplands. Though wild and undeveloped and largely unspoiled, this land is in constant earshot of one of North America's noisiest river channels.

This has been the domain of  nature writer, storyteller, river guide and environmental educator Kenny Salwey for more than three decades. He describes it in first person prose, as if dictating en plein air:

"Now I'm in the Big Woods, sitting in the shade of the old basswoods. How they whisper in the breeze! The water in the log pool is dark and foreboding. A fine scum rests against the upstream edge of the logs. How long have they lain in their watery grave? Two red-tail hawks soar on silent wings; around and around they go. Are they related to the hawk we watched on my first trip here more than forty years ago? I'd like to think so. A splash in the scum breaks the spell. I look down to see ripples where a trout took a fly."

The subject of a 2004 BBC documentary in its Natural World Collection, Salwey is often referred to as the "last of the river rats," a rare breed of people who pretty much live off the land in this harsh territory.

Salwey's essays  are predominantly autobiographical present tense stories of his life in the wild - running a trapline, training a hunting dog, studying wildlife, guiding birders, fishing for trout, encountering bears and muskrats, and getting lost in a blizzard. There's also a handful of his poems in the book and even a recipe for cowboy cookies.

Tales of a River Rat: Adventures Along the Wild Mississippi
by Kenny Salwey. 
Fulcrum, 2012.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Now exploring The Bark River Chronicles

The Bark River valley in southeastern Wisconsin is a microcosm of the state's - indeed, of the Great Lakes region's - natural and human history.

The Bark River Chronicles records one couple's journey by canoe from the river's headwaters to its confluence with the Rock River and several miles farther downstream to Lake Koshkonong.

Stories from a Wisconsin Watershed
by Milton J. Bates
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2012
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Finding Your Voice on Facebook

"The key to successfully marketing your business on Facebook is finding an authentic voice that connects with and engages your desired audience," suggests John Wayne Zimmerman in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Facebook Marketing.

Zimmerman devotes a chapter of his to "The Voice of Your Business" that suggests choosing a celebrity whose persona reflects the way you want your business to be perceived. Mimic the language and style of this "celebrity spokesperson" in your Facebook posts, he advises, and try to be consistent. If more than one person is posting, make sure they also use this  "brand."

As for the content of your posts, Zimmerman says it should always be what your target market wants. "If you own a landscape business, focus on offering tips on how to prepare the lawn for winter, how to get rid of grubs, and when to plant bulbs in your garden."

by John Wayne Zimmerman
ALPHA, 2012
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Animal Origami

You can create an entire zoo of origami creatures with the specially designed textured papers in this kit, which includes step by step photographic instructions for building 20 different animals.

Animal Origami
by Joost Langeveld
Thunder Bay Press, 2011

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artwork: Origami Crane

The Timber Press Encyclopedia of Flowering Shrubs

Now is the time to celebrate late flowering shrubs, an often overlooked group of plants which extend the year's interest in the garden.

The Hydrangea paniculata are especially hardy, carrying abundant flower heads through autumn and sometimes into winter. These include the H. paniculata Grandiflora, which has white flowers turning soft pink as they age. The flowers can be dried for winter decoration.
Hydrangea paniculata Grandiflora"A rounded, deciduous shrub with bluish green foliage and very dense tapered panicles of flower heads."
Flowers late summer to mid autumn. Sun to partial shade. Fertile soil.