To Little Rock . . .

I had to get up early for some online college classes I’m teaching, and I’ll soon be on the road to Little Rock. I do have a couple of friends there I’d like to hunt down, and I’d like to see the David O. Dodd Elementary School that I spoke  of in a previous post.

About Dragons . . .

Here I am at Mangum Elementary on Monday. I posed by their mascot, a concrete dragon in front of the school.  I like to tell dragon stories to the kids in some of my programs. I also use the Bombardier Beetle as an example of how dragons (in those days when everything was bigger) could have been possible. On Youtube you see find a video of a Bombardier Beetle at work.

The Fighting Tigers

Today, I thought I’d post the lyrics of a song I often perform in schools with my Civil War program, “The Fighting Tigers of Ireland.” When I ask, students always know that the mascot of LSU is Mike the Tiger.  Few if any know that the mascot has its origin in a famous Confederate fighting unit.

You can read about the history of Mike the Tiger here:

Another great site on Mike the Tiger is right here:

The above site says this about the origin of LSU’s mascot and the term, “The Fighting Tigers.”
According to Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr., PhD. and the “Guide to Louisiana Confederate Military Units, 1861-1865” (LSU Press, 1989), the name Louisiana Tigers evolved from a volunteer company nicknamed the Tiger Rifles, which was organized in New Orleans. This company became a part of a battalion commanded by Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat and was the only company of that battalion to wear the colorful Zouave uniform. In time, Wheat’s entire battalion was called the Tigers.

That nickname in time was applied to all of the Louisiana troops of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The tiger symbol came from the famous Washington Artillery of New Orleans. A militia unit that traces its history back to the 1830s, the Washington Artillery had a logo that featured a snarling tiger’s head. These two units first gained fame at the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861. Major David French Boyd, first president of LSU after the war, had fought with the Louisiana troops in Virginia and knew the reputation of both the Tiger Rifles and Washington Artillery. Thus when LSU football teams entered the gridiron battlefields in their fourth year of intercollegiate competition, they tagged themselves as the “Tigers.” It was the 1955 LSU “Fourth-Quarter Ball Club” that helped the moniker “Tigers” grow into the nickname, “Fighting Tigers.” Thanks to Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr., PhD., a historian at the Pamplin Historical Park, for contributing to the above information.”

Here are Jed Marum’s lyrics for his song, “The Fighting Tigers of Ireland.”  Used by permission. You can purchase Jed’s CD’s at his website:

Let me tell you a tale of those brave Irish boys
Of the Sixth Louisian’
From New Orleans to Richmond and back again
They fought and died for all Dixieland

Led by young Henry Strong who at Sharpsburg fell
He was proud and Irish born
And then bold Colonel Billy Monaghan
Gave his life at Shepardstown

They Irish born
They were heroes all
And they fought for Louisian’
From New Orleans to Richmond and back again
The fighting Tigers of Ireland

Now when old Billy Monaghan sounded the call
Back in eighteen sixty one
Every Irish lad joined him one and all
To keep those Yankees back in Washington

At Port Republic and Bristoe and Fredricksburg
Many valiant and good men gone
They fought with honor and courage at Gettysburg
And reached the gates of Washington

They followed Jackson and Early and Master Lee
And the fiercest in all the land
On this old Marshall Robert and Grant agreed
Were the men of the sixth Louisian’

They Irish born
They were heroes all
And they fought for Louisian’
From New Orleans to Richmond and back again
The fighting Tigers of Ireland

True Blood: HBO Series . . . Horror in the South

We in the South have always taken a liking to stories of horror. Based on Dead Until Dark and other novels by Charlaine Harris (you can find all you want to know about her here) HBO has produced their True Blood series. I’ve seen two episodes and enjoyed them. As I had just finished reading Dead Until Dark (in audio book form), I was able to contrast the book to the movie and give the subject matter some thought. If you want to investigate the HBO series, True Blood, go to this site. The opening scenes in the introduction, which HBO usually does in a masterful fashion, was interesting and full of suggestive thoughts. I love the fact that Dead Until Dark is set in the South (North Louisiana actually), though that made the storyline a little creepy. Reviews are mixed on the novels of Harris, but I bet she cries over the more critical reviews all the way to the bank. Something about her writing works and appeals to people. I suspect that this popular movie series will change Halloween in the South, and especially in North Louisiana. New Orleans has long had a Vampire/Dungeon crowd, and now I guess it will be our turn.

Writing like this is what creates legends. The theme song, “I wanna do bad things to you” by Jace Everett is a captivating song. I’ve included the lyrics below. I think it would make a good song for a musician to perform at a Halloween event.

I wanna do bad things with you.

When you came in the air went out.
And every shadow filled up with doubt.
I don’t know who you think you are,
But before the night is through,
I wanna do bad things with you.

I’m the kind to sit up in his room.
Heart sick an’ eyes filled up with blue.
I don’t know what you’ve done to me,
But I know this much is true:
I wanna do bad things with you.

When you came in the air went out.
And all those shadows there are filled up with doubt.
I don’t know who you think you are,
But before the night is through,
I wanna do bad things with you.
I wanna do real bad things with you.

I don’t know what you’ve done to me,
But I know this much is true:
I wanna do bad things with you.
I wanna do real bad things with you.

Busy Week

This morning, I presented my Scots-Irish program at Mangum Elementary School. Mangum is a small town near Monroe. What a delightful group of teachers and students! I was welcomed warmly by Kathyryn MacDonald, librarian; the principal, Mr. Pruitt, and even by Melissa Strange, a student I had taught at Caldwell High School who is now teaching at Mangum. Mangum has a great reputation, and I understand that teachers love it so much that few openings ever occur.  The school’s mascot is the dragon. I’ll post a pic of me and the school dragon soon.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Mineola, Texas High School for an author program sponsored by Joy Stuart.  This is one of the biggest author events in East Texas!  Thursday and Friday I’ll in Little Rock, speaking for the Arkansas Reading Association. My topic is once again, “Why Authors Should Fall to Their Knees and Worship Librarians.”  I’ve got to run now and teach my college classes before hitting the road to reach my hotel near Mineola. Perhaps I’ll be able to make another post tonight.

Patrick Cleburne: Stonewall of the West

Patrick Cleburne: The Stonewall of the West

This post resulted from a series I’m writing, Confederate Generals: Texas Legacy. Not too far from Texomaland where I write articles for my Civil War column, TGIF Weekend Bandit, is the little town of Cleburne, Texas. Cleburne is the county seat of Johnson County. The town was named after Irish-Arkansas general, Patrick Cleburne, known as the Stonewall of the West. After the Civil War, many soldiers who had loved and served under Cleburne found themselves on the wagon roads and cattle trails in this locale and they decided to name the new town in Cleburne’s honor. You can read more about the history of the town of Cleburne here:

There are many sources of information on this general (who by the way, was one of the first to call for the enlistment of black Southerners), but perhaps the best source of information is from the Patrick Cleburne Society, whose site is here:

When the war began he enlisted with the Confederacy. His leadership and soldier abilities were quickly recognized, and he rose through the ranks from private to brigadier general.

This site also says this of Cleburne’s military ability: “Cleburne achieved lasting military fame for his defense of Tunnel Hill on Missionary Ridge in Tennessee and at the Battle of Ringgold Gap in North Georgia. His brilliant tactical command in the use of his small force, and strategic utilization of terrain remain among the most compelling in military history to study.”

Unfortunately, due to Hood’s incompetent leadership at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, Cleburne was one of six Southern generals to die. His last words, inscribed on a plaque at the Franklin battlefield were: “If we’re to die, let us die like men.” Cleburne died, leaving behind his recent fiancee and a testimony to the courage and character of so many Confederate leaders.

Jed Marum, who in my opinion is the best writer of Confederate songs in the country, wrote a great song about General Patrick Cleburne. It is a song I sometimes perform in my own Civil War show. It is entitled, “The Stonewall of the West.” Here are the lyrics:

He left his native Ireland
His fortune for to find
He sailed across to America
Beyond the ocean wide
As a soldier he proved bold and true
Stood tall among the rest
His name was Patrick Cleburne
The Stonewall of the west

He made his home in Arkansas
‘til eighteen sixty one
He swore allegiance to the South
When the conflict had begun
But the fury that awaited him
He scarcely could have guessed
But Cleburne was a mighty man
The Stonewall of the West

He found himself in Tennessee
In eighteen sixty four
The Confederate Army was nearly spent
And couldn’t stand much more
General Hood, only God knows why,
He put them to the test
Well, if we’re to die, let us die like men
Said the Stonewall of the West

‘Twas on that sad November day
That Cleburne met his fate
The rebels were outnumbered
And the field they could not take
As he led his men through the hail of fire
A bullet pierced his breast
And Ireland called home the soul
Of the Stonewall of the West

Many a brave man died that day
On the bloody Franklin ground
The smell of death hung in the air
The bodies lay all around
Six southern generals lost their lives
But none as sorely missed
As Cleburne, the pride of Erin
The Stonewall of the West
You can (and should) purchase Jed’s CD containing this song. The CD is entitled, Cross Over the River. You can look at it and purchase it here:

The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke: A Short Review

The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke: A Short Review

This morning, I’m on my way to do storytelling and sign books at the Highland Games at Jackson, Louisiana. I should have a grand time. This is my first trip to this festival. You’ll hear more on my trip later. Now, I wanted to post a short review of The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke, a novel I just finished yesterday. Burke, an award-winning author with over twenty published novels to his credit, has always intrigued me. Here is a man who truly knows how to write. Possessing a unique style of writing, he spins metaphors and similes one after another in a masterful fashion. Burke’s novels are full of historical and law enforcement details, revealing he is a careful researcher. This is the first Dave Robicheaux novel, and with this Cajun detective, Burke has created a life so intricate and fascinating that I’m sure a biography could be be written on him, just as someone did on the fictional Sherlock Holmes. So real is the setting that every one of these novels makes me want to spend more time in South Louisiana. As far as I know, I’ve now read all of the Robicheaux novels. I wish I had read this novel first. That would have been ideal, but you don’t always discover good series in sequence. Burke may not have even intended a sequence. Like Doyle with the character of Sherlock Holmes, I feel the public will be reluctant to let Robicheaux die or fade away. Time will tell. Here are a couple of quotations from the read that I liked:

“Someone once told me that the gambler’s greatest desire, knjowledge of the future, would drive us insane” (24)

“Gamblers and lovers pay big dues and enjoy limited consolations. But sometimes they are enough” (173).

“The road to Roncevaux lures the poet and the visionary like a drug, but the soldier pays for the real estate” (217)

“Scared money never wins” (238).

There are many other quotations, but these caught my eye this morning. Now, off to Jackson!

A Short Review: Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

A Short Review: Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

Sparks’ website:

Once again Nicholas Sparks has a #1 New York Times Best Seller and sold the rights for a movie. This author who has taken America by storm is on to something. He creates books that people want to read and want to see made into movies. I just read his bio, and I’ve got to admit, not only does he have a lot going for him, but he’s paid his dues in life too. He is surely an inspiration to many writers. Nights in Rodanthe (Warner Books) was a quick read, but a memorable one. Sparks works hard at character development, and it shows in his writing. After reading the novel, I felt like I knew and had always known Paul and Adrienne.  The story is a hopeful reminder of what can happen to two people in one weekend, and as the back cover of my edition says, “a moving reminder that love is possible at any age, at any time, and often comes when we least expect it.”

The storm setting along the Outer Banks echoes and mirrors the inner personal storms the main characters have experienced and are experiencing. The conflict is mainly inner, provided by the sense of duty, the guilt, the choices facing the characters.  As usual when I do a review, I’d like to provide a couple of good quotations:

“Comfort could be found in the steady routines of life” (9).

[Paul was] “someone who’d not only made the decision to change the rules that he’d always lived by, but was doing so in a way that most people would be terrified to contemplate” (122).

There are other quotations that I liked, but perhaps this selection will pique your interest to read the novel.

Casting Call: Civil War Reenactors Needed for Movie–Rebel Private

I was delighted to learn from Dixiebroadcasting that a new Civil War movie is in the works.  I explored the site and am impressed by the commitment of its planners to historical accuracy.  One unique aspect: There will be a black Confederate soldier.  I’ve told my students for years that the South had black soldiers (admittedly, not many) before the North did. The director is searching for Civil War reenactors for its project.  I’ve done some work as a movie extra: (The Dead Will Tell, and Miracle Run, both filmed in New Orleans) and will likely apply for this movie. Here is the call for reenactors, followed by the project overview. I lifted these from the movie’s site.

The producers of Rebel Private are seeking reenactors to be selected from a nationwide search to participate in the film as members of Company F of the Texas Brigade and or Terry’s Texas Rangers ( mounted ). Professional actors will be cast for roles with general dialog, however, reenactors will be asked to flesh out the immediate soldiers around such key actors as the story unfolds. Through battlefield attrition these positions will come and go as the “war” progresses and in Fletcher’s transition story wise, from The Texas Brigade to Terry’s Texas Rangers.

The director will make every possible effort toward historical accuracy down to the most minute detail. Great attention will be paid to the period look of soldier’s faces and to uniform changes throughout the story timeline, early to late war. We will utilize entire reenactor units overall in the film participating on the field, however, for the immediate members of Company F and Terry’s Texas Rangers, we will ask for young reenactor soldiers between the ages of 16 and 30, who are thin, with great interest paid to beards and hair. Reenactors for these positions will likely be involved for several weeks. A unique particularly period essence to an overall impression is our focus in this, our…”call to arms”.

For those with interest, please submit recent photographs in uniform and or mounted, along with contact information.

Project Overview

Heartland Pictures, Inc. will produce an independent feature film, Rebel Private, in collaboration with Rebel Private, LLC. The Film’s screenplay is based on the memoirs of Private William Fletcher, C.S.A., of Hood’s Texas Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia, one of few published works of Confederate enlisted men chronicling personal combat experiences. Margaret Mitchell, a friend of the family, referenced the book extensively when writing Gone With The Wind. Miss Vallie Fletcher Taylor, great granddaughter of William Fletcher, released his memoirs in1996, Rebel Private, Front and Rear, which otherwise would have been lost to time as he had self published in 1908, yet all but two copies were destroyed in a tragic house fire. The under thirteen million dollar budget will offer creative freedom, yet studio quality and scale, with unique distribution potential, through the independent film management process.

The “War for Southern Independence” was an unprecedented national tragedy and ironically, an illegal and unnecessary war. Formulated in a gristmill of humanity, where at Gettysburg as many soldiers were casualties in three days as in Vietnam over ten years, this great drama remains fertile ground for stories of uncommon valor and sacrifice. As a result, the loss of potential for what might have been a great Southern nation, adhering to pure Jeffersonian principles established in the American Revolution, a constitutionally based confederation of sovereign states, where little known, the immoral institution of slavery was by 1861 destined to naturally fade, remains unfulfilled.

Into this maelstrom, countless young men such as William Fletcher were thrust, lives forever changed, generations forever diminished, the flower of Southern youth lost to what they perceived was the second American Revolution. It is our fervent desire to honestly illustrate the human side of the Southern people, the often maligned Southern soldier, upon whom this war was unjustly waged and from a Southern point of view. Such has not been done in film all though historically accurate, it is not politically correct. Confederate General Patrick Cleburne put it succinctly…”Gentlemen, if we should not prevail, the victor will write our history”.

“The North practiced sanctioned buying, or substitution. This, the practice of replacing ones self for payment, a socially and legally accepted manner of evading service. You could not do that in the South, Southern pride would not allow for it”. Shelby Foote, noted historian.

In the Orwellian world of the 21st Century, even the word Confederate creates ire through the propaganda of historical revisionism. We would hope through power of the film medium to in some way restore pride in Southern history, which also is American history. Hollywood suffers a bias in that respect, perpetuating negative myth. Only an independent film through planned unique distribution will prevail in such truth. Southerners should not be ashamed of the noble sacrifice of their ancestors and through this film will be allowed the light of honest inspection. Rebel Private is the vehicle, true history the lesson. It is time for an end to distortion.

Music of the time offers an emotional lament, a window on the time often with Celtic roots and as such it touches the soul in a visceral way. Contemporary country music Nashville ties will bring a wealth of resource applied through a purist “Mountain Music” application. We creatively do not seek a symphonic big Hollywood sound, but rather, a historically researched, period instrumentation portrayal of the 1860s.

Heartland Pictures, Inc. is in the fund raising process for Rebel Private, which will be filmed in Texas, Louisiana and Virginia. The writer-director, Chuck Untersee, is a Texan and twenty year veteran of the Hollywood film industry. Through burning zeal to illustrate aesthetic purity of the time by a visually driven romantic story and intimate combat intensity of the D-Day invasion in, Saving Private Ryan, to the poignant relationships of, Cold Mountain, he will create a visceral and riveting film. Rebel Private will be a deeply Southern, highly aesthetic, historically accurate, non “commercial” portrayal of the period. It is our intent to make the audience laugh, cry and most importantly…to think.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, go to the movie’s homepage here:


My calendar is on my main website, but I’ve recently added these events:

The Highland Games in Jackson, Louisiana. This Saturday, November 15, I will be storytelling and playing some music in the children’s area and signing some books. Here is the event’s website:

Brock, TX ISD Thursday, Jan. 15  School Programs!

Mickey Newbury Chords and Lyrics: “Just Dropped In . . .”

Newbury’s talent continues to surprise me. A song I had always liked, “Just Dropped In” was written by him. I had only heard the First Edition’s version, but after listening to Newbury, I think Newbury’s is just as good.  In my research of the song, I discovered that this was one of Kenny Roger’s early, if not earliest, hits when he sang if for the First Edition.  I also learned that Jerry Lee Lewis and Willie Nelson (as well as other artists) recorded the song.  Some say the song is about the LSD experience. Another source says the song was Jimi Hendrix’s favorite song. In my digging, I concluded that there was much more to this song than I had ever realized. Another song to add to my Americana show.  Here are the lyrics:

I woke up this mornin’ with the sundown shinin’ in
I found my mind in a brown paper bag, but then…
I tripped on a cloud and fell-a eight miles high
I tore my mind on a jagged sky
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

(Yeah, yeah, oh-yeah, what condition my condition was in)

I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in
I watched myself crawlin’ out as I was a-crawlin’ in
I got up so tight I couldn’t unwind
I saw so much I broke my mind
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

(Yeah, yeah, oh-yeah, what condition my condition was in)

Someone painted “April Fool” in big black letters on a “Dead End” sign
I had my foot on the gas as I left the road and blew out my mind
Eight miles outta Memphis and I got no spare
Eight miles going left downtown somewhere
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

I said I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in
Yeah yeah oh-yeah

Contest News:

I won honorable mention in the New Millennium Writing Contest (summer) for my story, “Little Rose and the Confederate Cipher.” When I receive information on where you can read the story, I’ll let you know.

Mickey Newbury Chords and Lyrics: “Genevieve”

Author Chat Webinar:

This afternoon,  from 3:30-4:15 p.m., I’ll be featured on Texas Region XI Media and Library Services ‘s “Chat with an Author” interview.  It will be recorded, so I’ll post that link as soon as I have it.

More Mickey Newbury Lyrics:

I’ve gotten good response from posting the lyrics of the talented songwriter, Mickey Newbury, so I decided to post another song of his that I want to add to my song list. It’s called Genevieve. Newbury writes some emotionally powerful lyrics.

Genevieve by Mickey Newbury

Genevieve, Genevieve
What does it all mean to you?
Genevieve, Genevieve
My heart is breaking in two,
Goodbye so long,
I will never be this hurt again,
Genevieve, Genevieve
See how the mornings begin.

Well wouldn’t it be nice,
If I could say what the hell it’s been fun.
But Genevieve, Genevieve,
Your leavin’ me leaves me undone.
So my old friend the highway,
I will cry on your shoulder again,
Oh Genevieve, Genevieve
Here’s where the story begins.

Laughing like a fool
‘Till I was no longer able to breathe
A broken down shell of a man
And his woman and me
Stopped at a café
They would not let us come in
Oh Genevieve, Genevieve
See how the madness begins.

Genevieve, Genevieve,
I just had to see you somehow,
Oh the years have been kind,
You were never as lovely as now,
Closing my eyes,
I can almost be with you again,
But Genevieve, Genevieve,
Here’s where the story will end.