Saturday, December 9, 2017

Science-fiction book cover:
"Invaders from Rigel"

  • Title: Invaders from Rigel
  • Cover blurb: "A Science-Fiction tale of a community that had miraculously changed to metal."
  • Cover typography: Fairly boring
  • Author: Fletcher Pratt (1897-1956)
  • Cover illustrator: Unknown
  • Publisher: Airmont Books (SF-4)
  • Book's first publication: 1960 (though it is an expansion of a magazine novella first written in the early 1930s)
  • Date of this edition: 1976 (Airmont published four editions of this book between 1964 and 1976, with the price starting at 40 cents, rising to 60 cents for the second and third editions, and then peaking at 95 cents for this one. Source:
  • Price: 95 cents
  • Pages: 127
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover blurb excerpt: "But Murray Lee woke up with a feeling of overpowering stiffness in every muscle. He turned over in bed and felt his left elbow, which seemed to be aching particularly — and received the shock of his life. The motion was attended by a creaking clang, and his elbow felt like a complex wheel. Why — he was metal all over!"
  • Silliness Level of that: 8.5 out of 10.
  • First sentence: Murray Lee woke abruptly, the memory of the sound that had roused him drumming at the back of his head, though his conscious mind had been beyond its ambit.
  • Right. What's an ambit? Merriam-Webster defines ambit as "the bounds or limits of a place or district" or "a sphere of action, expression, or influence."
  • Last paragraph: "Ho hum," said Ben Ruby. "The dictator of New York seems to be de trop. How does one get out of here?"
  • Random sentence from middle: The white knight, he wrote in a fit of impish perversity, is climbing up the poker.
  • Goodreads rating: 2.86 stars out of 5.
  • Excerpt of nice review from, written in 2009 by Raymond Mathiesen: "Right from the start of this novel Fletcher Pratt writes with a cheery, devil-may-care attitude that reveals that he has his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek. The book is filled with absurd circumstance, snappy dialogue and incredulous plot twists. The 'science' in the story is so weird that it can't tolerate a moment's serious analysis. Pratt has written a good-natured parody of the type of stories written in the 'Golden Age' of science fiction (1930's to 1950's). The ray guns, strange, malevolent aliens and super-fast flying-craft are all there, but with a mock serious aura. The story is closer to true fantasy, and interestingly Pratt had previously published seven fantasy novels, most of them with a humorous bent."

Friday, December 8, 2017

Two dozen dandy articles to bookmark for December reading

It's that time again!

Here's a roundup of all the interesting writing and photography that caught my eye during the past month.

Instead of sorting it into categories, I'm just going to present the two dozen links in random order. Serious and silly. Present news and history. Sports things and book things. Maybe that will lead to some thoughtful and unexpected connections as your browse through and find something (or multiple somethings) that you want to read during a break from wrapping presents and shoveling snow (if you live in Texas).

But wait. There's more!

For your enjoyment, here are just a few
of the tweets I loved over the past month.
Follow @Papergreat on Twitter to get ALL the retweets.

Want more great reading suggestions?
Browse through the Friday Reads category.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Photo: My great-great-great-great-
grandmother Sarah

It's family portrait time! Here's a photo of Sarah Craig Yarnall Chandler (1807-1880). If my counting and genealogy skills are correct, Sarah is my great-great-great-great-grandmother. She was a great-grandmother to my great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988), who I write about often, remember well and lived with for a few years.

With frame included, this measures four inches wide. The photograph itself is just 2¼ inches wide. Given how old she looks, I'd say this was taken in the 1860s or 1870s.

Her husband was Thomas Jefferson Chandler (1800-1872) and they had 12 children together. The youngest, Philemma Chandler (1828-1918), is my great-great-great-grandfather. Sarah died on August 27, 1880, in Hockessin, Delaware. That was three years before the founding of the Philadelphia Quakers, the predecessor of the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Hayes Tips and Clues" for
December bulletin boards

We've already been through September, October and November with classroom bulletin-board suggestions from 1978's Hayes Tips and Clues for Every Bulletin Board. So now it's time for December, the school month that is significantly shortened by the holiday break for most Americans.

Here are three of the suggested bulletin boards and their accompanying descriptions for the 12th month of the year.

At Christmastime, children are able to display their wishes on the stocking they make from various colors of construction paper. You may want to use commercially-made material for the bricks.

Extras you can give at Christmas could include kindness, sharing and love. Constructed from colored construction paper, the lettering can be a combination of cut-outs and yarn. The packages are wrapped with Christmas paper and are three-dimensional.

A good bulletin board to generate a lesson about what Christmas was like in a past era. The items can be made from tagboard.

My personal memories of Christmas in the classroom include paper snowflakes on the windows, Christmas countdown chains made of red and green construction paper, caroling around town in fifth- and sixth-grade chorus, and those softball-sized petrified popcorn balls that should have — but somehow didn't — broken every tooth in your mouth. Share you childhood memories of Christmas in elementary school in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The dandy home office of
Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

This unused old photo postcard features Nobel Prize-winning author Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) working away while sitting in one of the rooms at her residence, Mårbacka, in Värmland, Sweden. (This is one of those postcards that is well worth clicking on, to see a larger version.)

Selma and I have a lot in common when it comes to our rooms, and this one at Mårbacka is gorgeous. I love the built-in bookshelves. Books are shelved both vertically and horizontally, of which I am also guilty. There are stacks of books and journals in other locations around the room. (Guilty.) And just about every bit of open space on top of the large table contains piles of papers and other ephemera. (Very guilty.) Selma and I are definitely kindred spirits.

She was the first woman writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, earning the honor in 1909 "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings." After being raised on her grandmother's fairy tales, she had an epic career as a writer. Her best-known work is said by many to be The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (1906), which was commissioned as a geography-based reader for public schools and blossomed into the tale of a fantastic journey across Sweden filled with folklore and fancy. It's going on my long to-read list.

Mårbacka, built in 1793, is where Selma was born and raised. She was able to buy back the entirety of the estate with the help of her Nobel prize money. It has been preserved as a memorial estate. You can go on guided tours, see the gardens and — when you're done — check out the bookstore.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A couple of old photos of Mom

It's been nine months already since Mom died. In that clichéd way, it simultaneously seems like this year has been an eternity and also that Mom was just here yesterday. Continuing the ongoing family snapshots, here are a couple of old photos of Mary Ingham Otto.

1968, age 20

The caption on the back states: "Mary Margaret and Blackie in hammock at Helen's, 1968." The original caption writer wrote that the cat was "Smokie," but someone later — I'm pretty sure it was Mom — crossed that out and wrote "Blackie."

In 1968, I believe that "at Helen's" would indicate this photo was taken at the house of my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham (1919-2003) in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. I have some very limited memories of that house, which can make for another day's post.

I'm fairly certain that this hammock later made it to the house on Oak Crest Lane, when Helen moved back there with her parents. And I probably helped to put it out for the trash during the multi-year process of cleaning that place out.

1972, age 24

That's yours truly with Mom. The caption states: "Christopher and Mary Otto — going to church. July 1972." I would have been about 19 months old.

This looks like the backyard of the house at Oak Crest Lane, though most of that assumption is based upon the clothes line behind us.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

1964 postcard:
"Lots of fun but no fish"

This Photolux postcard, published by American Art Postcard Company of Boston, features an old covered bridge over the Saco River1, on Moat Mountain, in Conway, New Hampshire. The still-operational bridge was built in 1890 and is at least the third bridge at this site. The first of the "modern" bridges was constructed in 1850, with at least one log bridge predating that one.

Here is some drone footage, posted by DragonFly Aerials on YouTube, of the historic bridge surviving high waters just a few weeks ago...

You can read more about the Saco River Bridge and see pictures at New Hampshire's governmental website and on New Hampshire Covered Bridges.

This postcard was sent — with a purple 4-cent Abraham Lincoln stamp — to Annie Edmond of Hampton, Connecticut, in early February 1964. The note states:
Conway, N.H.
We are enjoying our visit with Marion. The weather has been fine, rather cold & windy yesterday, but sunny. Beautiful today, did some ice fishing from a lake shanty with wood heater. Lots of fun but no fish.
Isabel [?] & Edson

In other fishing news from February 2, 1964, according to Wikipedia: "The U.S. Coast Guard seized four Cuban fishing boats in U.S. territorial waters near the Dry Tortugas and jailed the fishermen at Key West. In retaliation, Cuba would cut off the water supply to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay."

1. Per Wikipedia: "The name 'Saco' comes from the Eastern Abenaki word [sɑkohki], meaning '"land where the river comes out.'" The river is also the subject of an Indian curse, as detailed by the New England Historical Society.