“Everybody has a George story.”

This morning on Nashville’s Fox 17, country music historian, Robert K. Oermann was talking about the humility of the late great George Jones. He said two things that caught my attention: “He had no idea that he was George Jones,” obviously an inference to how down-to-earth the legend was, and “Everybody has a George story.”

Well, I’m no different to the average middle Tennessean in this respect. Back in the late nineties I was in the Nashville Airport coming from a flight when lo and behold, who should walk by me only about six feet away but ole George and one of my all-time-favorite all-around stars, Glen Campbell. They were engaged in a jovial conversation which was easy for me to hear. Though they were both icons, they were as much different in both looks and style as one could imagine. Glen towered over George so much that it reminded me of the old ‘Mutt and Jeff’ cartoons of the 1950′s, which most of my readers can’t relate to, since many weren’t even born at the time. George was slump shouldered and Glen robust and broad. But they are both a major part of the core of country.

Obviously it is a coincidence that both were rumored dead earlier this month, when both were very alive. Though plagued by Alzheimer’s disease, Glen is still with us for now. There will be a public funeral service for George this Thursday, May 2nd, at the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman Auditorium on Broadway in Music City. He will never be forgotten.


I could never imagine

When I began the long years I was to expend researching cliches, proverbs, and figures of speech I did not imagine that I would, indeed, eventually be viewed as an expert in this field. Granted, I did a most careful and deep study of this fascinating field. The more I delved into it, the more I realized just how much information had not been uncovered by others in printed books. I found that so many of our common catchphrases were misquotes, either phrased wrongly or accredited to an individual who was merely passing it down from others. Other expressions were misunderstood or incorrectly placed in time of their genesis. Another shortcoming of most phrase dictionaries is the fact that they attempt to identify the time of origin with no definitive specific early citations. This plunged me onward to a more precise understanding of the true origins of phrases and old sayings which are so utilized that we never think about how they got started.

My initial offering was On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms, which was published in September, 2011. Over the past year and a half, that volume often ranked number three on Amazon of ‘cliche origin books.’ Then in 2012 I released a second volume of this title with all new phrases. Still, my research took no vacation, for I was woefully short in identifying expressions which needed to be included.

Then only recently, after many months of additional research, i took the entries of both books, and more than doubled this amount, enlarging the physical size from 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches to 6 X 9, making the font smaller and the margins wider, and removing personal references and illustrations, and with my wife and eldest son’s edits, and my good friend and associate, Kent Hesselbein creating a masterpiece cover, came up with a 710 page tome that served to provide my ultimate in this genre. Though it would take a library to hold all of our English catchphrases, this one is as close as one could come in this size volume when considering the average length of entry.

What amazed me is that not only is this book taking off in sales, even the first book is still selling. The final product is titled, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions. Own it today in paperback or Kindle.

George Jones passes away–for real

Though rumors earlier this week proved a hoax, this time it’s real, as reported by the AP today.

George Jones, the iconic country singer who was famous for making smash hits of such sad ballads as “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and “The Green, Green Grass of Home,’ has died. He was 81.

He passed away today, Friday April 26, 2013, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville after being hospitalized with irregular blood pressure accompanied with fever.

He had Number one songs in five  decades, from the fifties to the nineties, and was not only idolized by his fellow country singers, but by icons from other genres such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and many more.

Nicknamed the “Possum,” he had recorded more than one hundred and fifty albums and became the king and long-time symbol of traditional country music. He will be missed sorely by country music fans the world over,

The Prince of Kings–An Awesome Book is Coming Soon

Over the past couple of days my oldest daughter, Gennie, from Ohio, and her lovely daughter, Felicia, have been visiting with us, along with my handsome little great-grandson, Ecio. That was a tremendous pleasure in itself.

Right before they left yesterday we watched the DVD, The Life of Pi. I had been made familiar with the jist of the movie because of the awards it garnered. The film won four Oscars out of eleven nominations, and at the 2013 AFI Awards it was named Film of the Year for Director Ang Lee. Even with all of the noteriety, I never dreamed that it could be so engrossing. To me it was one of the best movies I have ever seen. No one should miss it!

But today’s entry is not about The Life of Pi, primarily. It’s about a book coming out which it is my extreme pleasure to be colaborating. What The Life of Pi is to movies, this is to 2013 books. The fact that this story has gripped my attention in such a way has nothing to do with any contribution I may have made. It all has to do with the true author to whom this gripping drama happened. His pen name is Israel Stuart, a name which he says should have been his true birth name and heritage. This remarkable book is titled, The Prince of Kings.

Kings, in the story, is a small town in Mississippi. Here, a ’tow-headed’ boy begins a life filled with abuse and denial by his parents of his true identity. He is endowed with a special and unique gift, which is also belittled and sluffed off by those around him. When certain events bring him to the brink of truth, he is forced by those to whom he is entrusted to pack up and move to one town after another. Dispite all of these attempts, he discovers that he is a special person with uncanny talents of royal lineage. He is able to quickly develop song lyrics for a future rock star who crosses his path which will define his career, but is also prevented from receivng the credit or any gain whatsoever. Yet numerous persons which he encounter come away better and richer people because of him.

Of all the books I have published, I have never seen anything quite like this one. It will keep you spell-bound. The Prince of Kings is due out in May. It is a must read.

Making time productive

I had a very enjoyable several days away; though it was jam-packed with activity, it was most productive. Friday, Saturday and the first half of Sunday were filled with making new friends and renewing old friendship. Not to mention, drinking in and taking note of activities which I needed to practice in order to make the following eighteen months of service to my fellow man more useful.

Then I traveled farther north to meet with my dear friend, Lee Pennigton, and his fiance, Jill, for a festive evening out and then to the University for Lee’s poetry reading on Monday. Last evening I drove home.

My point here is that by organizing our time we can all get much more accomplished. Sure, ’all work and no play made Jack a dull boy,’ but no one wants to be dull, so we need to take time for relaxation, too. 

One factor in the seminar I attended over the weekend was that success is not achieved by merely hoping it will come. My mother, who was a dedicated Christian, used to say, “Sometimes you have to put legs under your prayers.”

And if your dreams include publishing your own book some day, contact me at stan@stclair.net .


Today’s hectic pace

In the ‘good ole days’ everything seemed to move at a much more relaxed pace. Not as many people around me were stressed by deadlines or anxious about shedules.

As a youth I was fortunate that we even had a television in our home. The worst problems in the schools were chewing gum and throwing ‘spit balls.’

As a young man, though I was task-oriented and strived to reach my goals, there was no email to check, no texts to send and no need for the latest electronic device. 

I don’t want to return to ‘the thrilling days of yesteryear,’ to quote the announcer’s booming voice on one of my favorite childhood shows, “The Lone Ranger,’ but I sometimes lament the changes which have made us more tense.

I am having a very busy week, accomplishing goals with the business and meeting with authors by appointment on two days, then leaving for a few days in Kentucky for a conference and the poetry reading next Monday by my friend, Lee Pennington. 

Here’s hoping you all have a pleasurable week. Just download one of our books, perhaps my new one, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, to your Kindle, and relax. It will make you think and at times, smile. ‘Life is what you make it’–Where did this originate? See the book!

Amazon special–get it while the getting is good

Amazon has a proven way of marketing that stirs up a lot of attention. When a new item comes out which shows promise they will sometimes offer an outstanding value to ‘get things moving’. This was the case with my initial cliche book, On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms. It became a top seller in its genre.

Now they have done the same for a limited time with my new, much expanded 730 page, small print tome, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs  and Figurative Expressions.

This book, containing a treasure trove of information, has been called ‘a masterpiece’ and ‘extraordinary’ by learned persons who have contacted me. It took me almost three years, including research on the previous books which was included in this one, to put it together. Now it is out in both paperback and Kindle versions. It can be had ‘for a song’. Suggested retail is $27.95 for the hard copy and it is now selling, for a short time only, for $17.84 on Amazon. The Kindle is a low $5.95, and if you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can borrow it FREE!

This carefully researched book, which dissolves myths and exposes misquotes, will never be less expensive. But without my loyal readers, who are my inspiration I could not have put it together in the first place. Get it while the getting is good!

My Friend Lee Pennington: a Remarkable American

In mid August, 2008, while attending the Atlantic Conference in Halifax, NS, Canada, for which I served on the organizational committee, it was my distinct privilege to meet, and become friends with, a number of fine people as a result of this extraordinary venture. Two of them became authors of books which I later published. Several, however, had already made their marks upon society, and continue to do so to this date. Recently I mentioned one of them, Scott Wolter, already a well-respected geologist and author, who is now the host of a History Channel series, America Unearthed.

Another remarkable friend made that day was Royce Lee Pennington, who was named a Kentucky Colonel, and was the Kentucky Poet Laureate 1983. Lee’s Vita spans too large an arena to cover in a short posting. He has authored nineteen books, and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry—1977 for I KNEW A WOMAN, and 1993 for THIGMOTROPISM. In addition, he is the author of nine plays, published and produced. He has been granted a number of degrees including an honorary Doctorate of Literature (DLitt, Latin: Litterarum doctor) from World University, Danzig, 1979, and has received high acclaim from various professional societies. He has written thousands of articles, numerous folklore stories and more than 1300 poems published in over 300 magazines. In addition, he has produced 22 documentaries.

Mr. Pennington was born in 1939 at White Oak, in Greenup County, Kentucky. He is a former Professor at the University of Kentucky Jefferson Community College (Now Jefferson Community and Technical College), and as early as 1965, he attempted to inspire poetry in his students. He has traveled in all 50 states and 73 foreign countries.

He has donated his personal papers to the University of Louisville Libraries and later plans to donate his extensive collections of books and artifacts. His bio has appeared in a great many publications worldwide.

He also will provide funding for a new gallery, called the “Lee and Joy Pennington Cultural Heritage Gallery,” in Ekstrom Library on Belknap Campus.

Pennington’s papers include extensive correspondence with poet, novelist and educator Jesse Stuart.  He is also donating his personal Stuart Collection which includes all the Stuart books autographed and in first edition, including the extremely rare, HARVEST OF YOUTH, published privately by Stuart in 1930.  The U of L holds a major collection of Stuart’s works and papers that are on permanent loan from the Jesse Stuart Foundation.

The new archive area to be created with Pennington’s funding is expected to open in spring of this year and will provide climate-controlled housing and exhibition space for materials covering a range of disciplines.

Also a well-published magazine writer, he, during his times of trial, papered a room (all four walls) with the rejection slips he received in a six-month period. If a writer finds that collecting enough to paper a room is too overwhelming or depressing, he/she might consider gathering enough to paper a lampshade, laminate a coffee table, or a wastebasket. The latter project might be especially appropriate.

He is quite an inspiration to those whose dreams and passions live in their determined minds.

On Monday April 15, at 3:00 PM EDT, I plan on being in attendance of a poetry reading at the University of Louisville Ekstrom Library’s Bingham Poetry Room for a reading Lee is presenting. Listening to this master present his work will be a grand experience.

Sources:  KENTUCKY FAMILY ROOTS - 1985, collected by Coleman, Page 164; Poet Lee Pennington Donating Materials to U of L Libraries, nky.com, a Gannett Co.; Explore UK (University of Kentucky Special Collections and  images); Rejected, by Ann Tompert, Facebook.com Events; direct correspondence with Lee Pennington; personal knowledge and experience, Stan St. Clair, 2008—date

Success with perseverance

Stan and Scott Wolter

Recently I learned that a friend of mine, Scott Wolter, who is in the unusual profession of a forensic geologist, is now hosting a History Channel 2 series titled America Unearthed. In his first season finale, he and my distant cousin, Steve St. Clair, journeyed to Nova Scotia (near where I met Scott in 2008 in a conference on Pre-Columbian Atlantic crossings). The title of the episode was In Search of the Holy Grail.  They were following the voyage of ‘Prince Henry’ (Jarl of Orkney) St. Clair, aka Sinclair, made in 1398. Though it was after the dissolving of the Knights Templar, ‘Prince Henry’ was thought to have strong ties to their secrets and legacy, and possibly even in possession of the illusive ‘Holy Grail.’ There were some interesting findings, and more will likely be revealed in upcoming editions of the program next season.

The interesting point here is that Scott is obtaining a copy of the delightful  full-color illustrated children’s book, Prince Henry St. Clair, Earl of Orkney, by British artist, Hazel Brown, which was published this winter by St. Clair Publications and may use it in an upcoming episode of the show, according to my communication yesterday afternoon with Scott.

The book contains a children’s fantasy version of the reality of Prince Henry and his importance to the true history of America. You may own a copy now by simply going to http://stclairpublications.com or at Amazon worldwide sites. It will soon be distributed by the world’s largest book company, Ingram Books, be printed in both London and the US, and be available on request through any major book store.