The Pastry War (or) How We Wound Up With Santa Anna’s Leg

 

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History is filled with incidents that are so odd, they strain believability. Take John Adams and Thomas Jefferson dying on the very same day. (July 4, 1826 – which happened to be the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which also carried both men’s signature. How do you explain that? I can’t.)

For sheer weirdness, though, nothing compares to the time when France and Mexico fought the Pastry War, Santa Anna lost a leg, and we (the U.S.) wound up with it. Don’t worry – I can explain everything. So sit back and enjoy the strangest tale you’ll ever hear. Continue reading

Harry Hits the Road

When an ex-president gets behind the wheel, the destination is Adventure!

Harry and Bess behind the wheel

You’ve just wrapped up the most demanding job on earth. For nearly eight years you were President of the United States. You used the atomic bomb for the first time, transitioned the economy from war footing back to a peacetime free market basis (including managing the tsunami of millions of men and women rushing home from World War II, each impatiently demanding a job and a place to live), helped create the United Nations, and stood up to Communist aggression in Korea.

So, what do you do next?

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When Hitler Invaded England … in 1974

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History is littered with possibilities, and the only thing historians love more than bickering among themselves is speculating about what might have happened if the past had played out differently.

What if JFK hadn’t been assassinated?
What if FDR had only served the traditional two terms as president?
And perhaps the most intriguing of all … what if the South had won the Civil War?
Tantalizing possibilities of what may have been gained, or lost, in a history that wasn’t.

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Meet the Old West’s Last Gunfighter

From Oregon State Archives.

You know Jesse James and Billy the Kid. You’ve watched “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and heard tales of John Wesley Hardin and the Dalton Brothers. All legends in their time, all still outlaw icons today.

Every era eventually ends, and the Old West was no exception. The lawlessness that began with the Civil War’s conclusion stretched into the earliest days of the 20th Century. And when that era finally wrapped up, who was its final desperado?

Meet Harry Tracy, who went down with guns blazing in 1902. He was wildly famous in his day, much like John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde were later on. If the FBI had existed then, he would have been Public Enemy #1. Continue reading

Happy 5th of July!

calendar_july_5Here we are, the day after Independence Day. So what to write? Our interest in the Fourth of July ended with last night’s fireworks display. Nobody enjoys reading about the Big Day on the Day After the Big Day. Ever read an article about the true meaning of Christmas on December 26th? No, and you never will.

But I have to write about something. July 5th happens to be my father’s birthday (happy birthday, dad!) which got me wondering: what else happened on this date?

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How A Murdered Hound Became “Man’s Best Friend” (Sort of)

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Our Sally. February 12, 2002 – June 26, 2015

You run a terrible risk when you welcome a dog into your life. We know they will only be with us a short while, and yet we fling our heart wide open to them anyway. Even if we tried to resist, we couldn’t: they would wiggle their way inside anyhow. And when the time comes that we must say goodbye, it hurts like a thousand darts hitting your soul.

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Top 5 Presidential Candidate Slips of the Tongue

 

Slip of the tongue

Let’s face it, running for president is grueling. You get up before dawn, consume things you’d rather not put in your mouth at greasy spoons where you’d rather not eat, hang out all day with people you don’t know, and finally crawl into bed at midnight. Then you get up a few hours later and do it all over again in a different city or state. No weekends, no breaks, no sick days. [Shameless self-promotion: for a behind the scenes peek at what life is really like in a presidential primary campaign, read my novel Tell It Like Tupper.] Continue reading

What’re You Reading These Days?

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June is finally here. According to the calendar, summer doesn’t officially begin for another three weeks. But I’ve never bought into that lie. When you’re sitting on the patio sweating in 90+ degree temperatures in the middle of June, don’t waste your time telling me it’s still spring. If Memorial Day has come and gone, school is out, mosquitoes are eating you alive and the air conditioner is on, that’s good enough for me. It’s summertime. Continue reading

Seeing Double – Top 5 TV Character Recasts

 

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Gen X’ers and Millenials are in a profound funk these days. A voice they’ve known their entire lifetime is leaving a beloved TV cartoon series. After a 26-year run, actor Harry Shearer is saying so long to The Simpsons. He’s the first cast member to call it quits; the fact that the original gang held together since 1989 is amazing itself. Continue reading

A Mudder pulls off a Preakness Win!

APTOPIX Preakness Horse Racing

Frequent readers of this blog know I’m a horse racing nut. (That happens when you live in Kentucky for eight years.)  So two Saturdays in May and one in early June are among my favorite days of the entire year. This past Saturday was one of them. It was the Preakness Stakes, jewel #2 in the Triple Crown. And what I saw in the muddy slop at Pimlico has raised my hopes that maybe, just maybe, this will be the first time one horse sweeps the Big 3 since 1978. Continue reading