You’ve probably set off a firework or two in your time, but do you know how fireworks work? This Fourth of July, we’ll burn our way through a few common examples of every stripe, flash, and boom. You’ve seen the lights. Now know the science.
I’ve got writings and things in the works, I swear, but I’m dropping by to let people know to pick up the new Green Lantern Corps series, which begins the run of my friend Van Jensen as writer. I picked my copy up this afternoon and it was a fast, fun read and I know a lot of good things are in store for this series.
As a side note, when I was an intern at a newspaper where Van was a staff member, we used to take an extended lunch break that we called “research” that was really just us going to get our pull lists.
NORFOLK, Va. — Citing acts such as “making my granddaughter so happy” and “holding open doors for me,” in addition to holding pleasant conversation at a reasonable volume last Thanksgiving, Mark Wittman has been named Nicest Young Man of the Year by the National Grandmother’s Association.
“It’s a real honor to be named to this prestigious award,” Wittman said at a press conference. “I guess it’s proof that I was raised right.”
This is Wittman’s first nomination, offered up by his fiance’s maternal grandmother, Gloria Radnor, the delegate designate of Northern Virginia. Wittman, a legal clerk for the fourth circuit court, met Natalie Goodman while both were attending law school at Georgetown.
Though Wittman met Grandma Gloria last year at Natalie’s father’s retirement party, it wasn’t until Thanksgiving that he made a notable impression on the 82-year-old.
“He was just so handsome and polite,” she said of Wittman, who is of average facial characteristics and is slightly overweight. “Natalie seems to adore him as well.”
She added: “I could just pinch those cheeks of his!”
The Nicest Young Man of the Year Award has been bestowed on recipients by the National Grandmother Association since 1952, shortly after the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower, whom most association members regard as “our finest president, and such a gentleman.”
Last year’s award winner, Thomas Michaels, had his award rescinded after being arrested for driving under the influence, attempted motor vehicular homicide and indecent exposure after ingesting bath salts.
By John Wenz, Philadelphian Chef and Detective
Follow John on tumblr at johnwenz.tumblr.com.
I cashed in the box today. There was $65.88 in it. But no longer! It’s split between my IRA and my savings account. Starting over with a $3 thrift store bank, which has much more reuse and is much more hard to break into.
In which I discuss my struggles with mental illness and how I came out, if not on top, at least in a much better place than I was especially thanks to some good friends.
This chapbook is printed in an edition of 50.
Very pleased to let you know this project is now available for pre-order, with a shipping date of 1/5/2013. $5.00 price includes shipping, and is only meant to cover our printing costs.
Click through to purchase!
Hey y’all, I contributed to this and you should totally plunk money down on this awesome project.
My cousins were always annoyed by the same refrain when we played―that my name was Benny and I was six years old and once lived in a boxcar. None of which was true. They, being my cousins, very clearly knew my parents (who were in the next room over), but they also knew that I was annoying them again with my obsession with The Boxcar Children.
If you’ve never read the books, the basic plot is about four orphaned siblings who take refuge in a boxcar. They are on the “run” from a grandfather they believe to be cruel, sight unseen. But eventually the kindly grandfather takes them in―and puts the boxcar in the backyard at the end, as a sort of makeshift playhouse. In subsequent novels, the siblings would solve mysteries, often somewhere in the realm of Encyclopedia Brown but with occasional Scooby Doo overtones.
The book to hit me first was The Haunted Cabin Mystery. It had everything I wanted out of a book―namely, the word “haunted” in it, as, at the time, I would read anything even sort of ghost related. And the character Benny, youngest of the siblings, hit me more than the others. I had somebody a little annoying but also capable of holding his own. Which sometimes, around my cousins, that’s how I felt. In second grade, this is a Very Important Thing. I was, after all, not yet old enough to be a fourth-grade nothing like Peter in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. But here I had someone around my age who was having genuine adventures. It was an absolute delight to me, even if my cousins rolled their eyes every time it comes up.
It’s funny to think that the book that booked me wasn’t by the original writer, Gertrude Chandler Warner. The last one of those was book 19, Benny Solves a Mystery, another personal favorite in the series, for reasons obvious in the title. There was a fifteen year gap between Benny Solves a Mystery and The Haunted Cabin Mystery―the first was written in 1976, three years before Ms. Warner passed away, the second in 1991. As I delved deeper into the mysteries the siblings uncovered, I also learned a new ghost term―“ghost writer.”
Having a character my own age made the books more relevant to me than any other series of young mystery solvers―the Hardy Boys were just a bit older, and Nancy Drew just didn’t do it for me. Sometimes, that’s what’s important to a child. Superman and Batman may excite our imaginations, but we can’t possibly live up to those tales. I mean, I don’t know anybody rocketed from a dying planet. Do you? But to be able to unravel a mystery at such a young age, it makes you want to strive to be smarter.
Within a couple years, somewhere around book 30, the fascination had passed. The books were gathering dust in favor of Judy Blume and other authors. And of course, eventually, Goosebumps. But still, the tales of a bunch of orphans living in a railcar still stick with me to this day, and were a big part of my upbringing. And today, children who want to delve into those mysteries have 136 books to choose from. But maybe the original 19 (plus The Haunted Cabin!) would be the best place to start.
—John Wenz is, among many other things, a writer living in Philadelphia. He likes loud music, soft cats, bad movies and warm baked goods.