Pre-Houston Travel Thoughts

Am up early, packing, printing, and preparing for my Houston trip.  It looks like I’ll have good traveling weather.  My planned route will take me into new, unexplored territory.

War Between the States Trivia:

On yesterday’s date in the War Between the States, Union prisoners first began arriving at Andersonville prison. Nearly a fourth of its inmates would die in captivity, and though Henry Wirz, commandant, was executed for war crimes, the irony of history is that the deaths were caused by the Northern leadership, who refused prisoner exchange and refused to sell medicine to the South. One little known fact is that many of the Union prisoners were victimized by other Union soldiers. To gain a true perspective, I would encourage you to read Andersonville, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by MacKinlay Kantor. There was a TV series based on the book, and Kantor presents a more Confederate-friendly than most modern, seeking-to-be-politically-correct writers. Good for him.

A Book I’d like to read:

I was recently given a Book Lover’s Daily Calendar. From time to time I’ll list some books I think I’d like to read or glance at. The ones I list in this post are books I do not have.

Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits. This book is illustrated by Paul Rogers, and full of information and references to the Jazz Greats. I’ve heard (and believe), and told my students, that listening to jazz will help one mentally, likely even raising test scores. I think it may be due to the complexity of the lines, the “gifted” creativity that I hear in the improvisation of its melodies, the subtle changes made so that each song is its own creation. All of this does something to our subconscious, unlocking a great beauty-creating power. Jazz shaped and changed much of America, and it certainly influenced so many of our great musicians. When I teach ENG 102 in college (assuming they use the Kennedy anthology) I always have “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin as one of the readings. There are some great lines in that story that give insight into jazz and insights into the mind and hearts of jazz musicians. A very touching story about a man who nearly lost his brother, but found him and restored the relationship and in that, found himself too. The story is a reminder that we are truly our brother’s keeper.