Friday, May 31, 2013

a busy uranian in june

May was an interesting month for me. I had determined to have no ''lazy days'', days when I don't write, this month but I ended up having even more! I had fourteen of these days in May and that's up from last month's seven. I'm not beating myself up about it though because I know why it happened. I picked-up a lot of extra shifts on my day job and when I got home I was too exhausted to do anything. So, it's not like I wasn't being productive. My co-workers kept calling off because they were sick or had an accident or because they didn't want to work with such and such. I was working forty hour weeks and I normally only work half that! Still, I got twenty-five new pages written this month, which takes me up to eighty-one since I resumed writing in April. For June I'm setting a goal to write twenty-nine pages, which will give me an even one-hundred and ten new pages written.
    I also finished and sent the last article in my three part series on writing and spirituality to SGL BookLovers magazine. The articles will appear in the magazine's print and online issues and on SGL social media pages. The editor had to light a fire under my feet, and give me a deadline, to finish the last part. I needed the push and it worked! My SGL article goal for June is to write one new article. I'm shelving the series stuff, at least for now.
    This blog has been moving ahead, too. I made my goal to post five days a week and I intend to continue that in June, although it is challenging at times.
 The book trailer? I'll just say it's still in gestation. I can't even talk about it right now, it's too distressing. All I can do is stay positive and believe it will be done and posted on YouTube sometime in June.
    One of my new goals for June is to launch a facebook fan page. A friend of mine offered to help me set one up. I also intend to set up an author page and a author profile page in June. So, once again I have my work cut out for me. Nonetheless, I must do everything I can to meet these goals. I'll be a busy little Uranian next month!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 6 : the latter

Okay, I'm on a roll with these early LGBT publications. I talked about Henry Gerber's Friendship and Freedom, One magazine and Lisa Ben's Vise Versa but there was another one called the latter. The Latter was the first nationally distributed lesbian magazine in the U.S. It was published by the Lesbian organization the Daughters of Bilitis. It ran from 1956 to 1970. In the beginning it was a newsletter of around a dozen pages produced on a typewriter, copied by mimeograph and hand stapled. It featured short stories, poetry, news, book reviews, letters to the editor and minutes from Daughters of Bilitis meetings.
    By 1957 The Latter had 400 subscribers Nationwide, one of whom was African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry who is best known for her play A Raisin in the Sun. The Latter became a sort of lifeline for Lesbians across America as indicated by a letter Ms. Hansberry wrote to the editor in 1957. In it she said ''I'm glad as heck you exist'' and the letter was published in it's entirety.
    In 1963 the editorship changed hands and the magazine took on a more political tone. A subtitle was added that read ''A Lesbian Review.'' Photographs of women began to appear on the now slicker and more polished cover to give a ''face'' to Lesbianism and articles on the new ''homophile'' White House pickets were printed. Yes, Gays and Lesbians had begun picketing the White House before Stonewall, too!
    The Latter was not immune to in-fighting and vehement disagreements about direction and in 1966 the new radical editor got the boot! By 1970 the Daughters of Bilitis disbanded. Members fought over whether or not to align themselves with male controlled Gay organizations and the growing Women's movement and it's National Organization for Women[NOW]. The Latter did manage to publish sporadic issues throughout 1971 and 72 before it too shut-down.
    I personally think that the 1970's ushered in a new energy and a new generation of LGBT activisim and the decline of The Latter, and One magazine, was just a reflection of that. It was neither good or bad, it just was.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 : Edith Eyde A.K.A Lisa Ben

I am a big fan of little things that forerun big things and Edith Eyde's Vice Versa is a perfect example. Vise Versa is considered by many to be the first Lesbian magazine in the U.S.
    The story of it's inception is interesting ,too. Edith was a young women working as a secretary at RKO studios in Hollywood. There was not alot to do on her job and Edith's had a lackluster social life, as I'm sure many LGBT people did back then. So, she decided to occupy her time, on the clock, by typing a magazine/newsletter for Lesbians to broaden her social circle and meet other Lesbians. She basically created her own little facebook and carved a place for herself in LGBT history in the process. I love it!
      Vise Versa's distribution never went beyond the L.A. area. It had nine issues published from 1947 to 1948 and Edith personally handed out most copies herself. She asked people to pass them onto others when they finished reading them. She did send issues through the mail but stopped for fear of arrest under the Comstock Act, which I talk about in my last post. I suspect that the articles/stories in Vise Versa were not politically charged, as in lets all stand up and claim our rights right now, but they must have had clear Gay and Lesbian themes.
    When RKO was sold Edith lost her job and that's when Vise Versa stopped, but Edith had reached her goal and broadened her social circle by then anyhow. Another thing I like about Edith is that she saw a window of opportunity and she opened it!
    Lisa Ben was a pseudonym, and an anagram for Lesbian, she used in the 1950's when she began writing for The Latter, the Lesbian magazine I'll talk about tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 5 : one magazine part 2

In my last post I was talking about One magazine, the first national gay magazine. One had a bold and defiant tone. It addressed politics, civil-rights, legal issues, historical and psychological issues, police harassment, employment and published short fiction. All of it's publishers had day jobs and, due to it's inability to get ads, they had to finance the magazine out of they're own pockets. They often used pseudonyms to protect they're identities and to make it appear that there were more writer's than there actually were. The magazine quickly got thousands of subscribers, most of whom received they're copies in a plain brown wrapping.
     So, of course this magazine did not have an easy ''birth'' in 1953. Remember, Homosexuality was considered to be a mental illness! The post office and the FBI had been monitoring the magazine since it's first issue but the FBI was the first to take action against it. They contacted the employers of One's writer's, so much for they're pseudonyms, and told them they were employing ''deviants,'' but, amazingly, nobody was fired from they're day jobs! The FBI dropped the issue but the post office soon picked it up. They sighted the 1873 Comstock Act which forbade sending obscene, lewd, or lascivious materials through the mail. So, One had to find legal representation. The ACLU was defending ''sodomy'' laws at the time so they wouldn't take the case, but they found a young up-start lawyer to take the case pro bono. The case dragged on for several years and One lost in two lower courts in 1956 and 57 before it finally won in the U.S. supreme court in 1958. The high court overturned the lower court rulings and said the Comstock Act did not apply to the written word. This ruling allowed LGBT people to start building the national community we know, and take for granted, today because words are a force to be reckoned with. One continued to publish during the court proceedings and did not stop until 1967 due to in-fighting.
    This is my abridged version of the story of One magazine. I have never held an actual issue in my hands but I'm certain they can be obtained. To me, this story is a perfect example of how, with struggle and a vision anything can be built over time.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 5 : one magazine part 1

On January 13, 1958 the U.S. supreme court handed down it's first pro-gay ruling in One Inc.v. Olesen. The case pertained to the question of whether or not One Magazine was ''lewd'' material or not and there for unsuitable to send through the mail. One Magazine was the first Gay magazine in the U.S. to be distributed nationwide. The court ruled that talking about and/or reporting on homosexuality was not in and of itself lewd and/or sexual material.
    Today we take The Advocate, Out, Genre and all other LGBT magazines,  newspapers and journals for granted but very few of us know that One Inc. v. Olesen made them all possible. It all started in January 1953 when a group of Gay activist, whom I'll talk about later, decided they needed a slick, polished and professional magazine for Gays, or ''homophiles'' as they called themselves, along the lines of Life and Look magazines. African-Americans, or Negroes as they were then called, had recently launched Ebony magazine in the late 1940's, so it was now time was the gays to do the same. Gays had had different hurdles to overcome, however. They're kind of love was illegal in every state. President Eisenhower had recently signed an executive order barring Gays from federal employment and the U.S. military had recently purged some 400 Gays from service in 1950.
    In light of all this, these activist went full speed ahead with One Magazine. I personally love the story of One Magazine. I will continue it with my next post. See you then!

Friday, May 24, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 4 : Anna ruling

 In my last before stonewall, after 1899 post I talked about the Scientific Humanitarian Committee and how it was the first gay rights organization in the world. One thing that I did not say about it was that it was started and controlled by men. The leaders must have seen the contradiction in promoting human rights without recognizing half of the human race-women! So, they invited a women named Anna Ruling to speak at their October 8, 1904 annual meeting in Berlin. Information about Ruling is scanty but it is now known that Anna Ruling was a pseudonym. Her real name was Theo Anna Sprungli and she was born on August 15, 1880 and died on May 8, 1952. She is considered to be the first Lesbian rights activist in the world because of her speech.
    The speech she gave at this annual meeting was called What Interest Does the Women's Movement have in Solving the Homosexual Problem? The title alone says that she was way ahead of her time. Both women and gays have yet to achieve full equality, but for someone over 100 years ago to give a speech about  it was pretty amazing. It is assumed that Ruling herself was a Lesbian because early in her speech she says ''In middle-class circles they believe, oddly enough, that among them homosexuality has no place, and from these circles the most annoying enemies recruit each other to oppose the movement to free Uranian people. I would like to give as an example, that my father, when by chance he came to speak about homosexuality, explained with confidence, 'nothing of the sort can happen in my family.' The facts prove the opposite. I need to add nothing to the statement.''
    Most of what Ruling says in her speech still rings true, but some of it is would be considered questionable today, like her notion that there are three sexes : men, women and homosexuals. At that time gay right activist considered homosexuals to be a ''third sex.'' She also suggested that the off-spring of a couple where one parent is heterosexual and one homosexual could end up unloved with a number of mental and emotional problems. These outdated ideas do not over shadow the overall message of the speech, which promotes social, economic and political equality for men, women and Homosexuals. If you would like to read the entire speech, which is worth checking out, it can be found online.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

blaxploitation, drag kings and langston hughes

I know I said I was to have no lazy days this month but yesterday I couldn't help. I did nothing productive all day! Well, I wont say ''nothing.'' I did say my affirmations/meditations that pertain to my writing and book promotions. But that's all I did that was writing related.
    Cleveland has had some hot days already and summer is not even officially started yet! My apartment has been an oven and my fans are doing very little to keep me cool, so I kept drinking lots of cold water. I watched back to back episodes of Dark Shadows and a documentary called Baad Assss Cinema. It's about the blaxploitation films of the Early 1970's. These films were action packed urban dramas with lots of drugs, sex and violents. They swept the country and saved Hollywood from bankruptcy. They had titles like Black Cesar, Coffy, Blacula and Shaft to name a few. Pam Grier became a superstar and both Blacks and whites flocked to see them. The era of  ''blaxploitation'' films lasted from 1971 with the release of Melvin Van Peebles Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and lasted until about 1975. Pressure from political groups like the NAACP and C.O.R.E[congress of racial equality] put a stop to them. They felt that they exploited Black Americans and presented a negative image. I have seen a couple of them and I personally think that they preserve a beautiful snapshot of the early 70's in terms of fashion, furniture, cars, etc. I also think they created Black super heroes and heroins, so what if they were drug pushers, pimps and gangsters, employed Black actors and actresses like never before and they were/are just fun to watch! I think they are works of art. Today they are all on DVD and have a cult following like Dark Shadows and Star Trek.
    I did get on the computer yesterday but not to blog. Instead I watched female to male make-up tutorials on YouTube. I didn't know it took so much for a female to become a drag king! I wish drag kings got more recognition. There should be a drag race type reality show for drag kings. I would watch it! I also watched interviews of drag queens from Rupaul's Drag Race on a YouTube show called Under the Wig, which is out of Richmond, VA. Lastly, I surfed the web for Gay personals and hook-up sites! I was just bored and fooling around at that point. I couldn't even get into any of the sites because you had to join and  I wasn't going to do that, so...
    Then, I read some Langston Hughes poems and went to bed. I'm not big on poetry but Langston Hughes' work moves me like nobody else's. His poems are incredible to me.
     I can't afford to spend my days like that all the time or I'll never get my sequel finished. I just got off my day job as I write this, but I must get some writing done today. I don't care if it's only one sentence!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

method writing is pepsi

I just wrote and sent the third installment of my three part article series on writing and spirituality. It was challenging to write but I think it turned out good. I called it My Characters, My Friends. It's about my idea that my characters are my friends and how I treat them like I would any human being in the flesh, talking to them, confiding in them, etc. SGL BookLovers gave me a deadline of this Wednesday, so I had to get off my butt and get it done.
    I decided not to write that ''method writing'' article I was going to write because it didn't feel honest or true to myself as a writer. Method acting is an acting technique where the actor recalls emotions and reactions from his or her own life and uses them to identify with the character they're playing. I was going to suggest that writers can somehow do the same thing, but just how this was so I couldn't figure out! It hit me that I should just write about something I know and not some theoretical idea that I myself don't even use. I actually do talk to my characters as if they were flesh and blood human-beings, so I wrote about that and it came out good. So, my ''method writing'' idea is Pepsi[is ded].
    The DVD my recording engineer gave me of the book trailer didn't work in my DVD player, again. He called me last night to see if I watched it yet and I told him it didn't work. So, we made arrangements to get together at his place and play it on his system. So, this is my mundane existence. At least some progress is being made.

Monday, May 20, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 3 : scientific humanitarian committee

Today we have more LGBT groups and organizations than we can count, but where and when did it all begin? In my post on Henry Gerber I talked about The Society for Human Rights which he started in 1924 in Chicago. As I said, it was the first LGBT rights organization in the U.S. but it was not the first in the world. The first in the world was The Scientific Humanitarian Committee. It was started in Berlin in 1897.
    The main mission of the SHC was to repeal paragraph 175 of  Germaine's Imperial Penal Code, which made ''coitus-like'' acts between males illegal. The committee assisted defendants in court who were charged under paragraph 175. They also organized public lectures on Uranians[gay people] and gathered signatures on petitions to repeal paragraph 175. Some famous signatories included Albert Einstein and Leo Tolstoy. Of course, no organization would be complete without some sort of publication and the SHC had one called the Yearbook for Intermediate Sexual Types. It reported on the committee's activities and ran articles supporting Uranianism of a literary, combative and scientific nature. It was published regularly from 1899-1923 and then sporadically until 1933.
    At it's height the SHC had over 500 members and had spread to 25 cities in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. But with the rise of the third Reich the SHC was disbanded by the Nazi's in 1933 and many of it's members were killed. There were attempts to reorganize the SHC in 1949 and 1962 but they failed.
    In-fighting prevented the 1949-50 reorganization of the SHC but another organization emerged called the Committee for Reform of the Sexual Criminal Laws.  It lasted until 1960. Germany did see the beginnings of the repeal of paragraph 175 in 1969 and the full repeal in 1994. These early Gay activist went through hell and back but we are riding on the coattails of their work today.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

counting male models

I'm sooooo tired! I've been picking up a lot of extra hours at my day job lately and it's catching up to me. I just got off and I'm going straight to sleep! There will be no Before Stonewall, After 1899 today. The writing is not being compromised though and neither is my blogging. I have exactly twenty new pages written so far this month.  My recording engineer/co-worker gave me the revamped book trailer on DVD today. So, later on tonight I'll watch it. I hope it's ready to be posted on YouTube this time. It's dragging on too long and I'm ready to be done with it once and for all! Okay, time to go to count sheep or male models, whichever you prefer!

Friday, May 17, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 2 : uranian

 Uranian. What a strange word, huh? Well, it was not so strange to gay activist, or what they called advocates of homosexual emancipation, in the Victorian era. The word was coined in 1864-65 by a German man named Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. He wrote a series of  five booklets called Research into the Riddle of Man-Male Love.  The word originally meant ''third sex'' or a female mind in a male bodied person with a sexual attraction to men. Later in the century it was extended to include female same-gender loving people[lesbians], too.
     The word is believed to be an English version of the German word uring. That word goes back to Plato's symposium in which Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was born to Uranus or ''the heavens.'' This was a birth in which the female is said to have had no part. The Plato connection gets complicated, so I'm not going to go into it here. But I do want to give a simplified reference to it.
     Anyhow, English speaking ''advocates of homosexual emancipation'' quickly embraced the term as a more acceptable word than the degrading ''sodomite'' which, until Uranian came along, was the only word to identify a gay person. Actually, ''nancy'' was used as a derogatory word for an effeminate male too, but it was just as negative. it is interesting to note that the word Homosexual was coined after the word Uranian in 1868-69 by Karoly Maria Kertbeny.
    These advocates argued that gay love, or Uranian love, was a ''comradely'' type of love that would ''unite the estranged ranks of society'', brake down class and gender walls and bring about true democracy. I know that this post goes back further than 1899, but The word Uranian is an obscure part of LGBT history, and it is a part of the Victorian era which goes into the 20th century.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 1 : Henry Gerber

Have you ever heard of a man named Henry Gerber? Well, if you haven't let me tell you alittle about him. Gerber was a Bavarian American postal worker in 1920's Chicago. He joined the military and was stationed in Germany for awhile where he saw a thriving gay right movement. Yes, there was an active gay rights movement in Germany at that time but I'll get to that later. When he returned to the United States he saw no reason why there shouldn't be an active movement here, too. So, in 1924 he started The Society for Human Rights, the first gay rights organization in the United States. He also started the first known gay publication in the U.S. called Friendship and Freedom. An African-American minister named John T. Graves was president of the organization and Gerber, along with four others sat on the board of directors. The state of Illinois granted the society it's charter which is what made it the first official gay organization.
    Things fell apart almost as quickly as they came together, however. The police arrested several of the society's members and confiscated the two issues of Friendship and freedom that existed. They based they're harassment on the states ''sodomy'' law which out-lawed gay sex and the federal comstock law which out-lawed sending ''lewed'' and sexual material through the mail. The Chicago Examiner ran a story called Strange Sex Cult Exposed.  Gerber was fired from the post office and put on trial three times. In the end he was acquitted but he lost his life savings in legal fees. Sadly, no issues of Friendship and Freedom survive. Ironicly though, Illinois became the first state to repeal it's sodomy law in 1961.
    After the collapse of the society and it's paper a bitter and depressed Gerber moved to New York City for awhile. He later reenlisted in the military and left with an honourable discharge in 1945. He died in 1972 but he lived to see the reemergence of the gay rights movement in the U.S. in the 1950's and 60's.
    I personally see The Society for Human Rights and Friendship and Freedom as the first seeds of the movement in the U.S. The times were too hostile for them to make any social and political headway but the dye was cast, or the stage was set, with them. So, Gerber's work was not in vain.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

bearded ladies, racy clowns and nearly-naked acrobats

 Before I start my  Before Stonewall, After 1899 series I want to talk about my recent writing quandary. Last week my main character met someone, a new character that is. I knew this character was going to be a minor one but even minor characters have significance and must add a new dimension to the story. I racked my brain but couldn't figure out what was unique about this character. Finally it hit me to ask Kumi, my main character, what to do. Who would know better than him, after all it's his story. So, that's what I did and, sure enough, I got the answer. The character doesn't even have a name but he is an overseer who is an aspiring circus performer. That meant I had to do research on 19th century circuses and that turned out be very interesting. I'd like to share some things I unearthed, I use the word ''unearthed'' because it's like I'm uncovering something that's always been there, about 19th century circuses.
    They were not like circuses as we know them today. It's true that they were about entertainment with acrobats, clowns, exotic animals, ringmasters and big tops. The difference was that the acrobats wore tight, nearly nude clothing called ''fleshings'' and the clowns were ribald, foul-mouthed and raunchy. One of these racy clowns, a man named Dan Rice, became so famous that he ran for president of the United States in 1868! Alcohol and gambling were commonplace outside the big tops and the troupe members were always brawling with the locals from town to town. In fact, to get hired one needed to be a good fighter as well as a good performer.
    Circus performers had a rallying call when they were in a strange city/town and needed help fighting some local[s]. It was "hey Rube'' and they yelled it when they found themselves in trouble. When you heard it you knew something was about to go down! The call began in New Orleans around 1848 when a circus performer called a friend named Reuben for help in a fight. Another theory about it's origin is that it's short for ''rustic reubens'' which was slang for country folk called ''rubes.''
    Another interesting thing about these circuses, and sideshows, was a type of performer they often featured called the ''bearded lady.'' Bearded ladies were women with a condition we now know as congenital hypertrichosis. It's very rare and has different types. The interesting thing about these bearded ladies is that most of them were not ladies at all. They were men! Today we would call them drag queens! They wore women's dresses, danced, sang and told jokes[today we call these jokes ''reading'']. I'm quite sure most of these bearded ladies were ''sodomites'', or what we call gay, today. So, if you think drag shows are something new, think again!
     The19th century circus was not the kid friendly entertainment that it has become today. I'm glad Kumi included this character. He has a small part in the story but he brings some little known yet interesting history to it that I did not touch upon in Rainbow Plantation Blues.

Monday, May 13, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899

I really enjoyed posting my ''obscure words'' series. I'm sad that it's over, but I do have another ''obscure'' series up my sleeve. It's going to be on obscure LGBT history. Everybody can tell you about the stonewall riots in 1969, but there is alot that went on before stonewall. In fact, I believe if it were not for the events prior to stonewall there may not have been a stonewall!
    I'm going to discuss things like who was the first gay rights activist? What was the name of the first known gay rights organization in the world and where was it? What was the first gay rights organization in the U.S., who started it and where was it? How did a gay connection almost bring down the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the entire Black civil-rights movement? We all read The Advocate, Out and Genre magazines like it's no big deal, but what was the first gay/lesbian magazine to be distributed nationwide, and why was it a ''big deal''? Who was the first transsexual and when did she cut it off? Alot of people don't know these things, especially younger people. So, I'm happy to share what I've learned with whomever is interested. Of course, I know this blog is about my writing but my writing is historical fiction. History is the source of my inspiration, so it is very relevant to my work. I'll just give intermittent updates on my day to day writing and promotion dramas.
     I don't know how long my Before Stonewall, After 1899 series will be because it's a vast area of study. Alot of it I know off the top of my head from years of study, but some things I might have to research. The question is what hidden gems will I uncover in the process of my research? I suspect there will be alot! I'll let the series go as long as it goes. After all if we don't know where we've been how can we know where we're going, right?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

obscure words part 6

 The Southern plantations/slaves had their own ''word culture'' as did the greater society. Many of these words were ugly and insulting yet were used regularly without a second thought, even by the slaves and free Blacks themselves. I think it's important to have a ready supply of ugly and insulting words to use against an oppressed group, and then get them to use those words themselves, if you want to brake their self- image and boost your own. Words are alive, electromagnetic and powerful. There affect on ones body, mind and spirit are subtle but long lasting. Most of these words are know today but little used, thank goodness! An example would be aunty, boy, coon, darky,  mammy, uncle[tom], pickaninney, sambo and wench. Here are some lesser known words.
          1. Buck, buck nigger : common slang for a young black male.
            A. I saw your buck[nigger] sleeping in the woods this afternoon.
          2. Buckra : a white man, literally a demon or powerful being.
            A. A buckra on horseback came to call on the missus today outside the big house.
          3. Cuffy, cuffee : common appellation for a Negro/Negroes.
            A. That free cuffy up the road chops my wood and bakes bread for me when I need help.
          4. Doughface : a Northerner who supported slavery.
            A.  I wouldn't trust a doughface if they were my own mom and papa.
          5. Maroon : a run-away slave[s] in hiding.
            A. Some whites will hide and feed a maroon no matter what the risk.
            B.  They found a camp of maroons hiding out in the swamp.
          6. Negroism :  to favor or support Blacks.
            A. They say some Southerners work for the cause of negroism in secret.
          7. Negrophilism : fondness for Blacks.
            A. The way he fraternizes with them darkies I'd say he's got a case of negrophilism.
    Although I am both Black and Gay myself, I personally am not easily upset by derogatory or insulting words when I hear them. I guess I just have a thick skin, but some people do feel insulted. I think their feelings should be respected. As a writer I do use derogatory, insulting and ugly words in dialogue, if necessary, because people did talk that way. Dialogue has to feel authentic and real to the reader. So, I write whatever fits without batting an eyelash!


Friday, May 10, 2013

obscure words part 5

Not only did people in the nineteenth century use words that have fallen into obscurity, but there are also phrases and  ''sayings'' that have gone by the wayside, too. There is a modern day phrase or saying right there: gone by the wayside. I didn't even intend to use one in that sentence, it just happened. That's the thing about these phrases and sayings. We all use them regularly and we don't even realize it. People in the nineteenth century did the same thing. Lets check out some interesting obscure phrases and sayings that I've unearthed. This first one is my favorite!
          1. Acknowledge the corn : to admit the truth, to confess, to face one's own lie[s] or shortcoming[s].
              A. I suggest that you spot crying and acknowledge the corn before it's too late!
          2. Biggest toad in the puddle : the most important person in a group, room or place, an important person.  
              A. He walked around that hall like he was the biggest toad in the puddle!
          3. [Not] born in the woods to scared by an owl : one who is experienced and not afraid.
              A. That lawyer I met was not born in the woods to be scared by an owl!
          4. Elephant, to see the : to have seen, heard or experienced it all.
              A. When she walked into the party with that Negro on her arm I saw the elephant!
          5. Go the whole hog : to go all the way.
              A. If ladies are going to wear those bloomers they might as well go the whole hog and wear inexpressibles, too!
          6. Nigger in the woodpile :  to explain an unsolved mystery or something missing.
             A. After she left and my my food came up missing I knew there was a nigger in the woodpile.
          7. Pile on the agony : to add insult to injury.
             A.  I piled on the agony until he burst into tears!
          8. Post the pony : pay up
             A. You might as well post the pony before I call the authorities.
          9. Seven by nine : someone or something of inferior or common quality.
             A. She was just a seven by nine trying to pass as refined and cultured.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

obscure words part 4

Although information about LGBT people in the nineteenth century is scanty there were words used to identify us. They were not flattering words, especially during the first half, but at least they denoted some sort of existence. One word I almost included in yesterdays post on words still used today but with different meanings was the word gay. Gay was a common word in the nineteenth century but it meant happy, cheerful or in good spirits. It had nothing to do with a person's sexuality. That usage did not become commonplace until the 1970's, although people did use it alittle before that.
    In the nineteenth century people we now call gay were called sodomite[s] and it was not used in a polite sense. There was no politically correct way to describe a gay person. Homosexuality was a perversion and or a sickness-period! It was also a crime punishable by death. So, if you wanted to take a trick home you would have needed to be extra careful because it could have resulted in a treat at the gallows!
    Everyone in the nineteenth century was not hostile to gay people, however. In 1864 the first ''polite'' word to identify gay people was coined by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. The word was uranian and in 1869 the word homosexual was coined by Karoly Maria Kertbeny. Homosexual was more of a clinical term used to denote a type of condition, although it was not necessarily mean either.
    Other nineteenth century words used for gay people or rather effeminate males were nancy/nancy-boy and, later in the century, mary. 
    The word I find most interesting and obscure is uranian. It has practically vanished. I think it's hay day, if a word can have such a thing, was around the turn of the century. It may have morphed into the now obscure homophile used in the 1950's.

Monday, May 6, 2013

obscure word part 3

There is such a thing as, what I call, word demographics. It's the way words move and change over time like a population. There are many words that have survived the nineteenth century and are still with us but have ''changed'' in terms of their meaning. Here are a few of them and their nineteenth century definitions.
          1. Grocery : a bar or drinking establishment
               A. He took us all to the grocery to celebrate is success.
          2. Gum : lies, exaggerations
               A.His explanation was nothing but gum.
          3. Bummer : a lazy hobo or drunk
               A. The city is full of bummers by day and strumpets by night.
          4. Horn : a glass of liquor or ale
               A. It took only one horn to inebriate him.
          5. Picture : one's face, one's person
               A. She sure has a pretty picture to behold.
               B. He asked if I had any money on my picture.
          6. Smile : a drink, to take a drink
              A. Sit down with us and have a smile or two!
      So, the next time somebody ask you what your smiling about,  ask them if shows on your picture. Then, tell them you just came from the grocery and had few horns with a local bummer, and that's no gum!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

obscure words part 2

People today have this idea that profanity, swearing, euphemisms and taboo words are some kind of modern phenomenon. Historical TV dramas and movies tend to romanticize the past and, I believe, don't give an accurate picture of everyday life. If you take away today's technologies, clothing styles and junk foods people were exactly the same as they are now. If  a scene I'm writing calls for profanity, swearing, a euphemism or some taboo word, most of which are not considered taboo today, I use them because people in the mid nineteenth century would have used them. Some of these words are timeless classics and need no definition like : fuck, shit, horny, screw, cocksucker, cunt, pussy, bastard, prick, [the]clap, and ass. However, there are some words that have faded, been redefined or have become acceptable. Here is and example of some of these words.
          1. Adventuress : this is a euphemism for a prostitute or a wild women
                A. Stay away from those adventuress types while your in the city.
          2. Condom : a taboo word because condoms were illegal for most of the century.
              Jesse : hell
                A. He beat the jesse out of that redneck.
          4. Leg : this word was considered naughty or taboo. People used ''limb'' as a polite substitute.
          5. Lickfinger : a suck-up or kiss-ass.
                A. That lickfinger told her everything we said!
          6. Necessary : euphemism for outhouse or bathroom.
                A. Where might I find the  nearest necessary?
          7. Scalawag : a mean, rotten, evil or worthless person.
                A. The inn keeper was a scalawag of the worst kind.
          8. Strumpet : a whore or slut
                A. Strumpets walk the streets day and night in Baltimore.
           9.Trouser, Pants : taboo for most of the century. Instead, people said inexpressibles, unmentionables,
                 nether garments or sit-down-apons.

Friday, May 3, 2013

obscure words part 1

As a writer of historical fiction my goal is to take the reader back in time and make him or her feel as though they are actually there. In my case I'm referring to mid nineteenth century America. I have to do a lot of research to achieve this feeling and I find it to be a lot of fun. One of the most interesting aspects of my research is the language and speech patterns. To have authentic dialogue I try to find and use words and phrases that were common at the time but are little known and almost never used today. Here is an example of some obscure words that were commonplace in mid nineteenth century America :
             1. Balderdash : nonsense, ridiculous, meaningless babble
                A.  I believe Everything he said was complete balderdash!
             2. Chirk : happy, cheerful
                A. My mood was chirk and lively at the party last night.
             3. Corned : drunk, inebriated
                A. They all got corned last night and slept all day today.
             4.Groggery, grog shop : a bar, usually a dive
                A. He always goes to the grog shop alone but he never leaves alone.
                B. The town groggery burned down last week.
              5. Plug-ugly : a rowdy or rough-neck type of person
                A. The cities are full of dangerous plug-uglies on every corner.
              6. Sockdologer : a powerful punch or blow
                A. I'll give you a sockdologer you'll never forget !
              7. Shut pan : shut-up! shut your mouth!
                A. The man would not shut pan and let her speak.
    This is just an example of some of the words I've rediscovered in my research. I find them interesting. If you heard someone use any of them today what would you think?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I don't know what to call this post [that's the tiltle]

My bike tire ripped Tuesday, so I had to spend another $35.00 on a new tire and inner tube. I didn't have another accident or anything, it was just worn out. Anyhow, I'll give you three guesses where that money came from to repair it :
           1. my publishing and promotions budget
           2. I robbed a bank
           3. The queen of England wired me some fast cash[ she's my home girl! ]
If you chose #2 your correct! I'm just kidding. Actually, It was #1. The only robbery I committed was robbing Peter to pay Paul, again. S%#@ happens. Somehow I'll just have replace it, that is until the next emergency comes up.
    I talked to my recording engineer a few days ago about the issues I had with the book trailer's audio. He understood what I was saying and said he'd fix them. I still haven't seen the video part though. Hopefully, When this book trailer is done, and posted on YouTube, it will have been worth the struggle it took to get it done.
    My writing is going well so far this month, but then again I should hope so. We are only two days into the month! If I can't keep a 31 day commitment two days into it I might as well throw in the towel right now. I might forgive myself for a slip-up or two half way through the month, but at this point there are no excuses. Well, unless he's tall, dark and handsome!