Tag Archives: Ron Fritze

Jules Verne and the Steampunk RV

By Ron Fritze

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Most people have read something by Jules Verne whether it be Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea or Around the World in Eighty Days. A lot of his novels have been made into movies, some more than once. Verne was an early contributor to the genre of science fiction when it was first blooming. He wrote during the late nineteenth century and shared its faith that Western Civilization had entered into a permanent age of progress. His fiction predicted various technological innovations such as the submarine (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and Mysterious Island), the helicopter (Robur the Conqueror alt. title The Clipper of the Clouds), or a combination, submarine/airplane/automobile (The Master of the World). Little remarked upon is that Verne also envisioned the recreational vehicle.

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Horsehoe Bend 200th Countdown

By Ron Fritze

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200th anniversaries don’t come along all that often but we have one coming up in Alabama in a few weeks. On the 27th of March, 2014, it will be the bicentennial of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

If you, like me, grew up with“The Wonderful World of Disney” appearing on the TV on Sunday night, you’ll remember the Davy Crockett (aka Fess Parker) episodes. I remember as a little kid the opening episode in which Davy and his friend George Russel (aka Buddy Ebson, aka Jed Clampett) were scouting for hostile Indians in a swampy region. Along the way, Davy has to fight a bear and kills it using just his knife. He also fights an Indian chief to save Russel’s life. My memory is that at the end Davy’s boss Andrew Jackson arrives with the army and captures all the hostile Indians in what I now know was a highly sanitized version of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Of course, if you are younger and grew up on the Disney Channel and Nickelodean, than you grew up with the same TV shows that I watched, it is just that for you they were retro while for me they were cutting edge.

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On the Joys of Browsing: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

By Ron Fritze

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These days, people tend to go on the internet to get answers to their questions. I know that I do. That said, I still have and use a big collection of reference books. One reason is that a standard reference book will be more reliable than some of the internet sites (although I think Wikipedia is generally quite reliable). Another reason is that for some purposes, a reference book can be just as easy to use, or even easier than an online source. That is certainly the case for dictionaries. But there is another reason for checking out many ink and paper works of reference—they are fun to browse. Well, maybe not for everyone, but they are fun for me and I am not alone.

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A Victorian Life: Read the Book, Don’t Wait for Masterpiece Theater

By Ron Fritze

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Lucie Duff Gordon: A Passage to Egypt by Katherine Frank is the next book on the literary itinerary of the day-time book discussion group.  Who is Lucie Duff Gordon, you ask?  In a nutshell, she was a woman author and translator who lived (1821-1869) during the first half of the Victorian era in London.  I am sure most people have never heard of her.  Certainly I hadn’t until I started doing research on Victorian travelers in Egypt.  But once I started reading about her life, I found out what a truly fascinating person she was, as was her family.

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: The Loser Part II

By Ron Fritze

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After the battle of Stones River, the Union high command again wanted Rosecrans to advance against Bragg but he demurred. Pressured to take the offensive, he finally began the Tullahoma campaign of 24 June to 3 July which used brilliant maneuvering to force Bragg out of Tennessee without any major fighting. By early September, he had forced Bragg to abandon the strategic city of Chattanooga and was closely pursuing him when it would have been an opportune time to consolidate his gains by halting in Chattanooga. Pushing ahead, he was initially surprised when Bragg turned to fight. The climax was the battle of Chickamauga on 19-20 September 1863.

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: The Loser Part I

By Ron Fritze

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William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898) commanded the Union Army of the Cumberland at the battle of Chickamauga and made the fatal mistake of pulling a division out of his battle line. Confederate forces exploited that gap to inflict a stinging defeat on the Union forces. Needless to say, this situation resulted in Rosecrans being removed as commander of the Army of the Cumberland. He was never given command of a major army again.

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: Grant on Bragg

By Ron Fritze

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During the Civil War and for years after, Grant was known for keeping his opinions about the war to himself. After he left the presidency that changed and Grant started to reminisce. In 1877 he went on a world tour with John Russell Young as the reporter who accompanied him. Over the course of months, Grant started to provide recollections of the Civil War which Young eagerly included in his newspaper columns and a later book. Then toward the end of his life, Grant was financially ruined by dishonest “friends” and needed to leave his family some money. So he wrote his famous memoirs that were completed shortly before his death. They sold well and are a classic of American writing. In Young’s book and his own memoirs, Grant revealed some telling anecdotes about Braxton Bragg as a man and a soldier. Here they are for your enjoyment. Are there any Bragg fans left out there?

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: Ambrose Bierce

By Ron Fritze

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Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913?) was a journalist, satirist, and short story writer (mostly horror and thrillers) who is best known for his Devil’s Dictionary and the short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” “Owl Creek” is set in northern Alabama and may have been based on the abandoned railroad bridge a mile or two south of Elkmont. Born in Ohio, Bierce had the good fortune, like me and Abraham Lincoln, to grow up in Indiana. In 1913 he is supposed to have disappeared into Mexico during the great Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920. A fictional depiction of his last days forms the plot of the film Old Gringo (1989).

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Tools of the Trade: Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus

By Ron Fritze

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In this blog, I want to share with you what has become my favorite tool for putting some variety and spice into my writing. Check out the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (2004) or OAWT for short. It is a great alternative to Roget’s Thesaurus because it is easier to use and works just as well if not a bit better. It is organized in a dictionary style and provides many synonyms listed in logical order. When appropriate, distinctions are made between formal and informal usages. Some entries also provide a few suggestions for antonyms. Examples of sentences that demonstrate usage of a word are also provided. Take the word “bad.” The OAWT gives twelve different general ways that “bad” can be used. Well over 150 synonyms and antonyms for “bad” are supplied. So if you mean “bad” in the sense of “the bad guys”, it gives alternatives like “corrupt,” “reprobate,” or “crooked” among others. If you mean “bad” in the sense of a “bad child,” it suggests “naughty,” “wayward,” or “undisciplined” among others. Remember, there are often subtle differences in meaning and connotation between some of the alternative suggestions. They are not necessarily inter-changeable parts. Keep your dictionary handy so that you can pick out the word that works best for your situation.

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Chickamauga 150 Countdown: The Winner, Part III

By Ron Fritze

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This is excerpt three from a three-part article for the Chickamauga 150 Countdown:

On 23 June 1863, William Rosecrans and his Union Army of the Cumberland took the offensive against Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee encamped at Tullahoma, Tennessee.  Bragg commanded an army riven by dissent.  He did not communicate his plans with his subordinate generals and they were generally uncooperative with his orders.  Meanwhile Rosecrans conducted a series of flanking maneuvers that kept Bragg off-balance.  By 8 September, he had forced Bragg to abandon the strategically crucial city of Chattanooga and to retreat into Georgia.

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