It’s Advent…

…which means that it’s time for Gift Suggestions for the Writer in Your Life.  (Even if that writer is you.)

This first one is for musicians, not writers, but artists need to stick together.  Eric Owyoung, who’s a producer/composer with the band Future of Forestry, is offering $50 off on tuition for his Music Mentorship Program until Christmas.  This can be done as a gift, and you can find more information about the program on his web page.

And then there’s Levengers, purveyors of high-end writing and office gear; this year they have a lot of good stuff, including items below $50, such as this leather flash drive holder with a clip to buckle it onto things.  They’ve got pricier stuff, too, like a marble-based iPhone dock or a carved rosewood tablet and book easel.

Or you could just get your writer friend the best fruitcake in the world.  Other places may claim that theirs is, in fact, the best, but as far as I’m concerned, the Collin Street Bakery makes the One True Fruitcake, and that’s that.

And then there’s my own Christmas-through-Twelfth-Night annual sale, which I’m saving for another post because I wanted to talk about all these other good people first.

Nashua, This Weekend

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The Nashua Holiday Stroll will take place this coming Saturday, 25 November 2017.

Jim Macdonald at the Nashua Holiday Stroll, 2016 Jim Macdonald at the Nashua Holiday Stroll, 2016

So why do I care?  I live at the entire other end of the state from Nashua.  Well, because Granite State Magicians will appear (poof!) at 30 Temple Street, Main Level, Nashua, from 7:10 to 8:10 pm (1910-2010).  And I will be among them.

(Immediately following Granite State Magicians there will be a fellow doing a Harry Potter magic show, so plan to stay late.)

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Mental Health

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Mental illness.  It happens, just like physical illness.  If you had the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, you’d get help.  If you had the signs and symptoms of diabetes, you’d get help.  We’ve gone to a lot of time and trouble to make sure everyone knows the signs and symptoms of an awful lot of common diseases (and some not-so-common ones).  Mental illness is pretty darned common.   But tons of people don’t even know the signs and symptoms of mental illness, so they don’t get help.  We’re trying to get the word on the signs and symptoms of mental illness out there.  Tell all your friends.

Here are the signs and symptoms:

Five signs for mental illness Know the five signs

    Know the five signs:
  • not feeling like yourself?
  • feeling agitated?
  • are you withdrawn?
  • not caring for yourself?
  • feeling hopeless?

    R.E.A.C.T.

R.E.A.C.T.

  • Recognize the signs of emotional suffering
  • Express concern and offer…

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Uncle Tom’s SERE

Jim Macdonald has his own take on an American classic….

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Was Uncle Tom’s Cabinwritten by a feminine hand?

No, it was written by Harriet Beecher’s toe.


For years, pretty much all I knew about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the novel, was that it existed.  Important in the social history of the United States, sure.  Important in American literature, sure.  But the plot?  Nope. All I knew of the plot was what I’d gleaned from watching The King and I.  So, recently, I decided to correct that lack.

(BTW: Spoilers)

Over the course of a couple of trips to Boston and to Burlington I listened to an audio recording of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The first surprising thing (to me, anyway) was that the scene of Eliza crossing the Ohio on the ice floes wasn’t the climax of the book.  It was an incident in Chapter Seven (out of forty-five chapters).

I hadn’t looked at UncleTomcriticism beforehand…

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Keep Watching the Skies

Jim Macdonald has a podcast interview coming up on 1 November. Read more about it here:

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This coming Wednesday, November the 1st 2017, from 8:00-10:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time, I’m Earth vs. the Flying Saucersgoing to be a guest on PODCASTUFO. The subject is going to be Betty and Barney Hill.  Those who want to prepare might read this paper:  Amabile, JD, MD, Phyllis E. and Jobe, MD, Thomas H. (1987) “Hypnosis in the Criminal Case: Facts and Fallacies,” Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry: Vol. 5 : Iss. 1 , Article 3.

Or, as they say in the small fishing village where I was raised, “Klaatu barada nikto.”

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Doubling Down

Over on his blog, Jim Macdonald talks about cards and metaphors.

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All too often these days we read or hear in the news, “[Name of politician] doubled down on his earlier remarks…”

So what does it mean to “double down”?

The term comes from the world of gambling, specifically from the game of Blackjack (AKA “Twenty-one”).  The object of the game is to draw cards so that their combined value is a) equal to or less than 21, and b) higher than the dealer’s hand (such that the dealer’s hand is also less than 21).  All cards have values equal to their nominal values; face cards are all valued at 10, and aces can be either one or eleven, at the player’s discretion.  The players are dealt two cards, generally both face up; the dealer initially gets two cards, one face down and the other face up.  After all the players draw the cards they desire, the dealer reveals his or…

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