Life before and after smart phones

Recently my smart phone, which I had only owned for one year and five months, completely died. I had an old phone temporarily reinstated while I worked out a deal with my provider. I felt lost, because my smart phone is, and was, as my oldest son once said, “My link to the world.” Luckily I got an even better phone with a larger screen and 4G service capabilities. I have thought a lot about all the things for which we depend upon our mobile phones. We are going on a trip shortly and we will use it as a GPS. A lot of folks utilize them to play all sorts of games. It is our camera and we’ve learned a new word, “selfie.” Of course it is the means by which we keep up with family members and friends on social media whom we would not have a clue what was happening in their lives otherwise. We can vote on talent contests, and polls. It is our calculator, and our video viewer; we can read books on it, and use it to look up words and subjects like we used to in our dictionaries and encyclopedias. People even order copies of our St. Clair Publications books everyday on their phones at online booksellers around the world. Of course there is still a place for PCs like I am using to post this blog entry because of the quicker typing ability. Oh, by the way, we can also use it to make a phone call! And usually at a set monthly rate, not with the ‘long distance charges’ of the past. But a lot of folks find it more feasible to simply text, because they can do that at any hour and know that the recipient will be able to read it whenever it is most convenient.

But there were some great things about the “good old days” before modern technology took over our minds and lives. People even talked to each other on occasion, and looked at the road when driving. We enjoyed nature more and took walks in the woods and sometimes meandered along a bubbling stream, or sat by the stillness of a placid pond absorbed in an intriguing book. Would you like to do these things again? I think we all should sometimes. Enjoy life. It’s too short not to.

Laughter is the best medicine

Proverbs 17:22 is a Bible verse often quoted, or misquoted as the case may be. In the NKJV it says A merry heart does good, like a medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. 

A merry heart spills out as laughter, and that’s probably why the saying ” Laughter is the best medicine” came about. That’s found on pp 326-327 in the current paperback version of my best-seller, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions. In 1937 the BBC printed the following in Volume 18 of The Listener:

“Removal of Totem worship— Laughter is the best medicine for tyranny; but the world of 1937 rarely dared to laugh.”

Then Reader’s Digest later picked up this as the title of a humorous feature.

In keeping with this, I comprised a book titled Limericks, Jokes and Other such Rubbish, designed to tickle our funny bones… that’s not in the cliche book but “Tickled pink” and “Get one’s giggle box turned upside down” both are.

Occasionally I’ll come up with another original funny which I write down for future reference. Here’s one which hasn’t been published yet, so if you hear it somewhere you’ll know who thought it up:

A middle-aged cocaine addict got up one fall morning with tremors, bad in need of a fix. He turned on the TV and the weather lady was just coming on.

“We’re all cool around here this morning,” she started. “We’re in the middle forties. For those of you who may be shivering and shaking, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that we’ll be shooting up rather quickly a little later in the day….”

The addict quickly pushed the off button on the remote and made a bee line for the station.

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I was never more honored…

Yesterday morning I walked in and sat down at a table. On it lay an envelope with my name on the front. I had no idea who placed it there, but opened it to see if it contained a clue. First I pulled out a letter from an elementary school at which I had been one of several guests at their career day activities. The letter was, as I expected, thanking me for my speaking to the students. But what I wasn’t expecting was what else was in there. I pulled out one after another index card and a sheet of construction paper which had been crafted into a handmade thank you card. The notes on those cards touched me and made me feel wonderful inside. Most of them spoke of how I had made them feel positive about themselves and at least three told me that as a result of my visit they had decided to become writers.

No one can touch us like our children. Make a difference in the life of a child and you can make our future better. I truly hope that I was able to do just that. I still don’t know who delivered the envelope.

Thanks for Checking Us Out

Since our present website went up there have been nearly 131,000 views, and my blog has received well over 5,000 hits. I want to thank those who have been to our site, and even more the ones who have ordered books on the site, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers, at book signings that I and other St. Clair Publications authors have held, or at retail outlets. There is no way currently to get an exact number of books we have sold in the past few years, particularly since our entry to accepting our first outside authors in 2009. But there have been been a very great number. Every day someone buys our books. A majority are purchased in the USA, but many have been sold in outer countries such as Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, India, Brazil, and the list goes on. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have kept our little company in business and continue to purchase our books and ebooks!

Most recent releases include Exploring Our Exciting World Books One, Eight and NIne. Book Eight on Europe and Book NIne on East Asia have a variety of talented contributors. Then there is Coach There is Hope! a wonderful how-to book on coaching by Tennessee Technological University staff member, Dr. Lenise Rosemond; I Walked My Dog This Morning, a full color interior collection of my recent poetry; and 200 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names and How They Found Success, a unique pictorial book of intriguing facts about celebrities from all fields which has no equal in print.

All of there recent releases are for sale on Amazon sites worldwide. Then there are the old favorites such as Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, my very popular book on common sayings used by numerous colleges and public libraries; Sleepers Awaken: Now is the Time to Create Your Own Reality and many other great sellers by Michele Doucette; Understanding the Crystal People by Genn John; Conspiracy in the Town that Time Forgot, the best-selling true crime story which I co-wrote with my late friend Captain Ron Cunningham which was recommended by a college for Criminal Justice students; A Teachers Prayer, the captivating true story of Tammy Mentzer Brown used in numerous group studies, Pieces of My Heart, the heart-wrenching true story about a mother’s search for her child which she was forced to give up for adoption by Katy Olaf Ishee; Off the Back of the Rim, a study in what makes a great athlete by Tennessee Tech Women’s basketball coach, Allison Clarke, Secrets from Behind the Chair, true stories of redemption told by beautician Cherie Jobe, and Infidel: Legends of the Men of Iron Book I, a sequel to the classic Men of Iron by Howard Pyle (also available from St. Clair Publications Classics division) skillfully told by Kent Hesselbein. These are only a few of the great books we have available at St. Clair Publications! Those who haven’t and those who want more, check us out today! You may be pleasantly pleased by what you see.

Special Days of Remembrance – Gone But Never Forgotten

Days are remembered for both the sad and the pleasant thoughts which go along with them. The one year anniversary of my son Scott’s death has just past, on August 3rd, and I chose not to go to that place of sorrow online that day. It just hurt too much, and he left us far too soon.

But today is a special day for a better reason, yet with it comes also the missing of another very dear family member. Today commemorates the 106th anniversary of the birth of my mother, Trula Vinson St. Clair. She was born at home in Ducktown, Tennessee on August 6, 1909. From there she traveled with her family across the country to Montana where her father took up a homestead. Then they moved to Sheridan, Wyoming where she graduated with a special certificate in Normal Training- teaching. She first taught schools in Wyoming, then Arkansas, and after graduating from business college, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee. She trained many women to take available positions while their husbands were away during World War II. She was in Who’s Who in North Carolina Education for teaching many illiterates to read and write. But when she and my father married in 1945, that ended her career. She became a wife and mother to the only child she ever had, and I am so grateful. She was a wonderful, dedicated mother.

She passed away in 2000 at age 90. Today I salute her memory along with the memory of my son Scott. Both of them hold a dear place in my heart, and their memory will live on as long as I have breath.

Some questions about celebrities that you likely can’t answer.

Here are some questions which are answered in 200 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names and How They Found Success. Maybe you can understand why some of these folks took pseudonyms.

What famous actor who was the son of impoverished Jewish immigrants spoke Lithuanian and Russian at home as a child and went to work in a coal mine at age 10 earning $1.00 for each ton of coal he mined to help his family survive?

What prominent 20th century Scottish author first married a captain and moved from the UK to Australia to legitimatize her name because her father was involved in a scandal involving the King of England, then later left her husband for another man, moved to the Caribbean and changed her name completely before writing two best-selling novels?

What famous actor when pressed on the phone for a stage name used a character from a movie showing at a nearby theater as his new surname?

What famous actor was credited under a stage name without permission and was forced to accept it?

What popular music singer changed her name to the name of a man at whose mailbox she has fallen off her bike as a child?

What well-known country music artist got his stage name as a child from the name of a donkey?

What famous actor’s real name was Albert Einstein?

What country music star traded rabbits he had trapped for his first guitar?

What famous American author was accused of embezzlement by the bank for which he worked and fled to Honduras where he took a pen name and wrote a best-selling novel; but when his wife became ill he returned, surrendered, and was sentenced, continuing to write best sellers in prison?

What popular singer cannot use his stage name in Germany because of objections from the family of someone who had the same name?

What famed American movie star’s father left her mother for another woman when she was small, then committed suicide?

What currently controversial rap singer and film star underwent great drama at age 12 when his sister was murdered by her boyfriend?

What popular modern American television talk show host was the son of a Jewish immigrant father who died when he was young causing his mother to go on welfare and him to go to work after high school to help support her, resulting in his never attending college and take a new name from a liquor store on the spur of the moment?

What award-winning actor was the son of an Indian doctor born in Kenya, and changed his name because it sounded to foreign?

What singer who later became a sensation was thought by a record company president to be too plain and dark to lead a group?

What popular actor and producer was so stressed as a child because of his mother’s suicide attempts that he wet the bed, then chose a stage name from a phone book listing?

What billionaire clothier designed a tie for his employer which was rejected causing him to make ties from rags and work out of a drawer until he could get his own company going?

What notable Italian actress waited tables in a pub in her grandmother’s living room as a young teen?

What World Heavyweight Boxing Champion had a speech impediment and was the son of former slaves who were sharecroppers?

What popular actress who was not Jewish took a Jewish surname to improve her career/

What well-known alternative rock singer was diagnosed with autism as a child, rejected for the Mickey Mouse Club, and then arrested for shoplifting?

What model and television host obtained her new name because of a clerical error?

What very well-known actor had both parents killed in separate accidents by his age one; then had a personal accident in college which ended his dreams for a football career?

What entertainer destined to become an all-time great was bullied in school because of his broken English; then dropped out of high school becoming a bootlegger and working in an illegal casino?

What famed female rapper got started by posting her songs on MySpace?

What multi award-winning British character actress is the granddaughter of a colonel in the Russian army?

What extremely popular 20th century actress was abused and made a ward of the state as a child, and then was convinced by her guardian that she would one day become a movie star?

What extremely successful restaurant owner took the name of a comic strip character and opened a restaurant under that name?

What popular Irish actor was expelled from Catholic school at age sixteen and raised in poverty by a mother who was a heavy drinker?

What outrageously popular current singer who dropped out of school at age 16 was the daughter of pastors who often had to use food stamps and supplies from church food banks to survive while she was growing up?

What popular American author changed her name the first day of Catholic school when a nun asked her what her name was, because her birth name was a male name?

What popular American singer/songwriter had a father who was a church deacon who sold bootlegged moonshine on the side and ran a nightclub?

What popular dancer, singer and film star was kidnapped twice by her father who was separated from her mother before her birth?

What famous 20th century movie star lived in a houseboat built from salvage lumber for several years as a child?

What famed 20th century movie star began his career at less than 1 ½ years old in a traveling vaudeville show?

What immensely popular modern actor regretted using a stage name because it upset his father, and never changed his name legally, his birth name still appearing on his legal documents such as driver’s license and passport?

What popular singer who went on to have her own TV show got her stage name when a DJ forgot her real name?

What currently popular musician and entertainer was a drug dealer and thief as a youth?

What popular television actress had an abusive father causing her to fear for her life as a child; then after getting pregnant in college, married the baby’s farther, then had an affair and divorced him, only to get pregnant again by a married man and have an abortion?

What hip hop artist deepened his appreciation for music while spending three years in jail?

What highly successful theater and film producer was expelled from sixth grade for running a craps game?

What award-winning actor hitchhiked to Hollywood from Texas to begin his quest for stardom?

What popular award-winning performer began singing in bars at age eight to help support her family?

What 20th century male sex symbol movie star before achieving stardom had an affair with a married heiress and after her divorce was arrested on vice charges, resulting in the heiress shooting her ex-husband over a custody dispute?

What top-selling pop singer began his career at age fifteen with a hastily assembled local group filling in for Buddy Holly immediately after he had been killed?

What popular movie star was forced to model as a young child by her mother to help pay bills because of her father’s death, causing a nervous breakdown at age nine, and a suicide attempt at age 12 after she was given a stage name when debuting on TV based on the way her young cousin mispronounced her name?

What wildly popular early star of stage and screen produced and directed a play titled Sex which was raided, leading to her arrest and conviction for corrupting the morals of youth?

What popular comedian who got his own TV show was abandoned by his mother at age seven and lied about his age to join the Air Force at age 16?

What multi-Grammy-winning musical artist, in spite of an absentee father and a huge natural handicap, was contracted at age eleven by a major record label?

What major motion picture star was taken to movies as a child and told by her mother that the cameraman at the end of the newsreels was pointing the camera at her; then believing this, was contracted as a child?

What child prodigy began his sports career at age two playing with one of the top athletes in his sport on national television; then went on to become one of the most winning players of all time?

What famed award-winning comedian and star of stage, television and motion pictures quit school and ran away from home at age fifteen, later adapting his middle name into a stage name to save his family the embarrassment of having “a lowly comedian” as a relative?


200 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names on Amazon today!

Just yesterday I gave the approval to release my truly unique new book, 200 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names and How they Found Success. I anticipated an Amazon posting by Monday, August 3rd. I checked this morning and was pleasantly surprised to find it already available there! What is so different about this book? Everything! There is not even a similar book available on Amazon. It also has photos of the entrants.

When I began my search for celebrities which had changed their names I was curious as to why so many would do so. There were not only movie stars, musicians, sports figures and authors, there were entrepreneurs, comedians, broadcasters and others who were looking to create a persona with which they could obtain success.I want to mention a few examples of what I found. I am only using brief excerpts from the text of each, with some changes for clarity.

Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. was born in Kingsbury, California and his dad was a dairy farmer.  Bored in his early teens he began making money riding broncs and roping steers. Against his father’s will, he went to compete in a rodeo where the manager told him there would be “slim pickin’s” for him. To keep his father from finding out that he was competing he entered his name as Slim Pickens and won $400 that day.

Born in Horfield, Bristol, UK, Archibald Alexander Leach was the only surviving child of a pants presser father and had an unhappy childhood. Due to the death of a previous child, his mother suffered from clinical depression, and his father put her in a mental institution when Archie was nine, telling him that she was on a long holiday. He later was told that she had died, and his father remarried and had a new family without him. Only at his age 32 did his father, near his death, confess that she was still living. We know him as Cary Grant

Eleanora Fagan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to unwed parents.By age 11 she dropped out of school. One day her mother found a neighbor trying to rape her, and had him arrested. Eleanora was then sent back to the reform school. After her release at not quite 12 she got a job running errands at a brothel, and was listening to Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith records. She joined her mother in Harlem working as a prostitute. The brothel was raided and both were sent to prison.  She was released at 14. She started singing, taking her stage name from Billie Dove, an actress she admired, and her probable father. She went on to become one of the most influential jazz and blues singers of her time as Billie Holiday.

Phoebe Ann Mosey was born to Quaker parents in a log cabin in Darke County, Ohio. Her father died at her age 5 and Annie began hunting at 8. Because of poverty and her father’s death Annie was placed in an infirmary at age 9, and had little schooling in childhood. She was soon bound out to a family who kept her in near slavery, mentally and physically abusing her. 2 years later she ran away. She continued hunting and selling game to restaurants. At 15 she returned to her mother and paid off her mortgage. She became famous in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show as Annie Oakley.

But let’s not ruin the book! Buy your copy today on Amazon for only $14.95.