1868 baseball advice (that is not a typo)


The Weekly Alta California, October 10, 1868:

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Hints to Base Ballists

Now that the national game is so universally played, the following hints and suggestions may not prove inopportune. They are the result of long and arduous study of the game–practically and theoretically, and are worthy, it is thought, of the attention of all players:

1-Never admit a grocer to your “nine” lest your Club be denominated “butter fingers.”

2-Admit no furriers; they are suggestive of “muffs;” nor bakers, for they are redolent with “muffin.”

3-Never charge your “bases;” as a matter of military necessity this is sometimes advisable, but in ball-play, never.

4-Don’t stop short in a match because your “short stop” muffs a ball.

5-Don’t accuse your catcher of chicken stealing because he catches a “foul.”

6-If your “long field” catches a “fly” don’t laugh at him because he held his mouth open.

7-If a newly married member makes a “home run,” don’t accuse him of being hen-pecked.

8-When you “whitewash” your opponents don’t get any into their eyes; it might hurt.

9-A bricklayer or two would be valuable acquisitions; they would be sure to be good “strikers.”

10-A detective would be useful as a “catcher.”

11-As a “pitcher,” we would recommend Bob Brettle, the pugilist; he may not be much of a ballist, but he says he always “pitches in.”

12-If you can prevail on Billy Edwards to join your club, you may be sure of having a “heavy hitter.”

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I spent yesterday physically reading several issues of The Daily Alta California and The Weekly Alta California from the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s in the San Francisco History Center on the 6th floor of the San Francisco Public Library. Among many gems, I fished out the one posted above. A thoroughly delightful day, since I love doing research, but my eyes were about to fall out of my head by the end of the afternoon.

Newsprint was tiny in those days.

The contents of most California newspapers are available on-line through the California Digital Newspaper Collection organized by UC Riverside. It’s an excellent tool, but reading online isn’t the same thing as holding an actual copy of the paper, and I wanted that experience, hence the trip to the SFPL.

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Links to good writing advice I’ve been collecting


Possibly the truest thing ever said about writing:

“My writing is perfect, I don’t need an editor.”

Said no serious writer, ever.

“A to X Writing Advice,” courtesy of Random House Copy Chief & Executive Managing Editor Benjamin Dreyer. He helped with China’s Wings, and is thanked within.

I absolutely love having editors, copy editors, and fact checkers comb over my work. The world needs more of them. A lot more.

And here is Mr. Dreyer’s List of Common Mistakes. All of them very, very easy to make.

(Both on Biographile. Here’s their Craft of Writing category.

Here’s Paul Krugman’s Fantastic Advice to Everyone Who Writes at Business Insider, which, although more than a year old, is perennially relevant.

No less an authority than Ernest Hemingway serves up Seven Tips on How to Write Fiction.

(Here’s a China’s Wings outtake that features Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, his third wife. They hung out with the CNAC gang in Hong Kong in 1941. Hemingway was so taken with the pilots that he gave them props in his novel Islands in the Stream.)

6 Tips on Reading to Train the Writer’s Eye” from Litreactor.

I consider “being a reader” to be the qualification that ever writer absolutely must have. (If you aren’t a reader, I don’t see how you can possibly compete with those who are.)

Here’s “A Simple Way to Create Suspense” from thriller author Lee Child and The New York Times.

Although I must confess that I think withholding information from readers is a cheap way to create suspense. I find suspense more genuine (and much less annoying) when the reader knows more than the characters.

Here are “Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck.”

And here are “6 Tips on How to be a Better Writer from Harvard Linguist and Cognitive Scientist Steven Pinker.”

What’s with the 6 tips? Are we not capable of assimilating seven at a time?

German literary critic and essayist Walter Benjamin seems to have more confidence in us. Here are his Thirteen Timeless Tidbits.

The Art of Nonfiction, an Interview with John McPhee” at The Paris Review. Long but good. And I love John McPhee.

Do you have any favorite pieces of writing advice? If so, please share them and I’ll add them to the post.

Posted in Reading, Writing, and Research | 2 Comments

I’d like to propose a new word…


Apocalist

Def.: The Thanksgiving shopping list.

Can be used with an ellipsis, an in apocalist…

Which implies: The Thanksgiving shopping list plus everything else we need.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

CNAC Forever!

Cheers, Greg

(Nod to my friend Forrest Murphy for the ellipsis.)

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Wartime spy finally accepts she is a French Heroine


Fantastic courage.

A close family friend – her godmother’s father – had been shot by the Germans and her godmother had committed suicide after being taken prisoner by the Nazis.

“I did it for revenge,” said Mrs. Doyle.

Click the pic for The Telegraph’s full story.

Wartine spy copy

Love those para wings pinned to her fleece jacket over her line of medals.

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50 Notable works of nonfiction, posted by the Washington Post


Here’s a list of 50 notable nonfiction books, posted by The Washington Post.

50 works of nonfiction copy

Nice to Tom Shroder’s Acid Test included, along with a few words from my review.

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The Naked Mountaineer by Stephen Sieberson, reviewed by Gregory Crouch


Naked Mountaineer copyHere’s my review of The Naked Mountaineer: Misadventures of an Alpine Traveler by Stephen Sieberson, which appeared as “Bluffs in the Buff” in The Wall Street Journal on November 15 & 16, 2014.

“The jacket copy promises irreverent adventures and peculiar characters presented in a manner far removed from that of “the typical mountaineering book.” And so we crack its covers hoping for alpine rambles in the vein of Eric Newby’s lighthearted bumble “A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush,” of Tom Patey ’s gently deprecating “One Man’s Mountains,” or of W.E. Bowman ’s side-splitting satire “The Ascent of Rum Doodle… [MORE]”

(I’ve linked to a Google search, because linking directly to the review runs into the WSJ paywall; from the search, if you click the top link, it should take you to the review’s full text.)

Bluffs in the Buff copy

 

 

 

Here are links to 18 other book reviews I’ve done for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and more.

 

 

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No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Samet, reviewed by Gregory Crouch


No Mans Land copyHere’s my review of No Man’s Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America by West Point English Professor Elizabeth Samet.

(For The Washington Post, November 7, 2014)

“Samet’s musings are fascinating, and for serving officers, they should be required reading. As goes the famous quote widely but incorrectly attributed to Thucydides but actually drawn from the writings of 19th Century Irish Lt Gen. Sir William Francis Butler, “The Nation that [draws a broad line] between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.”

Elizabeth Samet is certainly doing her bit to ensure neither calamity afflicts the United States.” [MORE…]

Here is a list of 17 other books I’ve reviewed for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and more.

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Adorable cat with dubious literary taste


Cat, EP and CW from June C

Adorable photo of Ginger the Cat, courtesy of June Creson. June recently retired from Boeing, where, as the person who coordinated the string of Ed Wells Book Club events I’ve been doing, she was probably responsible for creating more China’s Wings readers than any other single individual. Thanks, June!

(With a nod to Gregory Richards, a guy I served with in the Army’s 7th Infantry Division in the early ’90s who is now at Boeing. Gregory put me in touch with June shortly after the publication of China’s Wings.)

Nice to see Enduring Patagonia getting some cat love, too.

Posted in China's Wings, Enduring Patagonia | 2 Comments

Best Halloween costume ever, by my 13-year old son, Ryan


When my 13-year old son and I watched the  trailer for the movie Fury some weeks ago, he exclaimed, “It would be so awesome to go to Halloween dressed as a tank!”

I said, “You know, you could probably make that happen…”

He said, “Really?”

Here is the result of his efforts, an M4 Sherman Tank:

Halloween TankPretty fabulous, no? It was the hands down winner in his school costume contest. From what I could see, he had a swarm of kids following him around all day, because it was more than just a costume that he could wear, it was also a costume he could drive

Here’s a video of it rolling out from the assembly area:

(Forgive me, I was enjoying it almost as much as he was…)

And here he is rolling past a local softball field. Quite literally, it stopped the game:

And then a last short one of him catching the attention of a guy coming out of a corner store:

Here are a few pictures of the rig under construction:

Posted in Oddities & Off topics | 9 Comments

Enduring Patagonia quoted in Alpinist No. 48


Psyched to see Enduring Patagonia quoted in the new issue of Alpinist, No. 48

EP in Alpinist copy

 

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