Writing Matters Blog

I Have a Complaint Concerning Many Genealogists

My feelings exactly, and the same applies for paying a genealogist to do the research for you.

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Warning:This article contains personal opinions.

This is an almost exact duplicate of an article I posted several years ago. The topic has come up again lately so I decided to publish it again for the benefit of those who did not read or do not remember the original article. I have changed a few words to make sure it covers recent comments.

I have a complaint that may upset some people, including some who read this newsletter. I will probably lose readers because of this article, but I don’t care. Like many of my readers, I feel so strongly about this issue that I just have to speak out – hold the sugar coating.

Some people are so shortsighted that they manage to ignore certain facts that are blatantly obvious to others.

In short, every time I post an article or someone’s press release about some new genealogy data…

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An Invitation to Peruse Pickford Studios

Pickford StudiosIf you seek to be not only informed, but intrigued, not just enlightened, but also entertained, not merely educated, but profoundly edified, then look no further than the writers of Pickford Studios who dwell at http://www.moviesforyourmind.net. Meet Mickey McClain, an eccentric Scotsman who travels extensively, but is quite content to keep the details of his many adventures to himself (with a fortunate exception or two).  Mickey’s editor, Evalyn Ryman-Stimme, is a political activist with the peculiar family tradition of being on the periphery of the defining historical moments of the times (a la Forest Gump). Author Meg Langford, the clever and articulate wearer of many hats, is arguably the brains and imagination behind the whole outfit.

Together the crew at Pickford Studios brings you an array of enjoyable titles.  Follow the adventures of the fattest crime fighter in the world or bask in vicarious enjoyment of the fry cook’s revenge.  Delve into the research of Meg Langford as she examines the history of lynching, directs a critical eye towards the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, and tells a cautionary tale regarding the discovery of a dark side of American life. In addition to the diverse selection of fiction and nonfiction books for sale, readers can enjoy light-hearted blog posts providing everything from evidence of the existence of unicorns to good-natured rips on the Weather Channel.  More serious fare is offered on the Pickford Word where visitors can digest the opinions of this site’s authors on current events and social issues of the day.  All this, plus poetry and more await the curious readers who accept this invitation to check out http://www.moviesforyourmind.net!

Ernest Smelcer (1903 – 1991)

Ernest Smelcer was born in or near Crocker, Pulaski County, Missouri, on December 15, 1903, to James Benjamin Smelcer and Sarah Elizabeth (McMillian) Smelcer.  He was the youngest of nine children.  Ernest attended school at the Brown School House in Hancock, Missouri.  Family recollections and legends recount his proficiency at playing the fiddle, how he wrecked his car while dating the Brown School House teacher (supposedly he was forbidden to drive afterwards for a short time), his fascination with a new pinball machine while visiting his niece and her family, his love of baseball, his gardening prowess, his participation in intense games of Pinochle, his tendency to hand roll his own cigarettes, as well as his ability on multiple occasions to find several four leaf clovers while simply taking a casual stroll through the yard.

Ernest Smelcer (1903-1991)
Ernest Smelcer (1903-1991)

Ernest experienced one tragedy after another that surely had a profound impact on his life.  At the age of six, Ernest’s brother, Roy, succumbed to sickness, and this was followed shortly by his brother Tom’s death from tuberculosis when Ernest was 10 years old.  When Ernest was 13 years old, his father died of nephritis, leaving his mother to watch over Ernest and his eight siblings.

On November 4, 1928, unthinkable tragedy struck again.  Ernest, age 24, was hunting with 55-year-old Edmond Owen Denton in Miller County, Missouri, when he accidentally shot and killed the married father of three.  The coroner’s inquest ruled the incident an accident.  Stories passed down in the family recall Ernest being so distraught that he considered suicide.  His mother is said to have confiscated his pistol for a time, fearing that he might bring harm to himself.

edmond denton dc ed
Death Certificate of Edmond Owen Denton, who was accidentally shot and killed while hunting with Ernest Smelcer on November 4, 1928.

Ernest never committed suicide, but he never married nor did he move away from the home he shared with his mother until her death, with various siblings on and off again during their twilight years, and with his sister, Emma, until his passing in 1991.  On January 15, 1991, my grandfather, Cyrus James Smelcer, was giving Ernest Smelcer a shave and a haircut at his home.  Having remarked to my grandfather earlier that day how he was weary and ready to die, Ernest called out to his sister Emma, suffered a cardiac incident, and died there in his home soon after my grandfather left for the day.  He was 87 years old.

Known to later generations of the family as “Uncle Bill,” Ernest was remembered as a kind man of many talents who overcame tragedy time and time again to live a long and cherished life.  Ernest Smelcer is buried in Crocker Memorial Cemetery in Crocker, Missouri.

A Review: Raeden Zen’s “The Phantom of the Earth”

Phantom of the EarthWhat would the world be like if, in the future, humans no longer dominated the Earth’s surface?

Science fiction is surely one of the hardest genres in which to produce an epic story, because along with creating the plausible details of a fictional, futuristic world, you must give life to a broad array of characters (often not human) that can be related to and empathized with in both their internal and external struggles.  Not only does this author create a broad array of believable characters, but he has meticulously constructed in unfathomable detail the post-human version of Earth on which they live.

The Great Commonwealth of Beimeni will look vaguely familiar, and the painstakingly annotated map will quickly orient readers to the various localities described in the novels.  In addition to the map and charts, several appendices provide a thorough background on every aspect of this future world’s culture, from the thirty precepts which by which the Commonwealth is governed to the process by which the earth was terraformed.   Explanation of travel through space and time, cultural oaths, poems, and songs of the Beimeni, transhuman theology, and a robust glossary of terminology are also available in the appendices previously mentioned.

Throughout the series of books there is a helpful resource built into the story called “Marstone’s Database.”  Described as a government database containing “classified dossiers on citizens of the Great Commonwealth of Beimeni,” this database conveniently (and ingeniously) gives the reader information about relevant characters throughout the story.  In a genre where it would be easy to become lost in the details, the author has thoughtfully prepared readers with any information needed to engage their minds in the plot as it unfolds.

The Phantom of the Earth is a tremendous undertaking for its reader, as I can only imagine it was for its author.  It is however a worthwhile endeavor, justly rewarding for those who read it faithfully from start to finish.  Above all, this impressively detailed, passionately created glimpse of a possible post-human future is sure to be regarded as a notable addition to science fiction literature.

A Review: Philippe Malzieu’s “Pothos: A Novella”

PothosTwo lovers rendezvous in a coffee shop, and the story which transpires from there challenges the reviewer to choose from a multitude of adjectives which could appropriately describe what follows: dark, passionate, suspenseful, twisted, etc.  The protagonist doctor meets with his actress/lover Juliette in a coffee shop.  The conversation leads to a break-up of the relationship, which is redefined in the following chapters.

The author is demonstrably well-educated by the thoroughness with which he injects cultured references into his novella.  References to French literature, an Italian vacation, Greek mythology, some Latin phrases, fine wine, gourmet food, allusions to famous paintings, and philosophical discussions all inject richness into the narrative which more than establishes the narrator’s credibility as an intelligent person of means.  This sophistication is further solidified by the narrator’s expressed disdain for non-intellectuals, those who enjoy a “beer—burp—urine environment” commonly frequented by those who observe and/or play team sports.

The cultured charm seemingly infused into every page in this novella unfortunately cannot replace the need for a solid, driving plot.  After the narrator relationship with Juliette expires, he takes the reader along on a flashback of their romantic exhibitionist vacation before offering a night-shift tour of a psychiatric hospital and its inhabitants with his coworker Bruno.  Even two-thirds the way through this novella, I was unsure to what purpose the protagonist was heading.  This is surely not a drama (I supposed), nor a murder mystery (for it does not seem that anyone has died), and even two-thirds the way through this novella, I was unsure to what purpose the protagonist was heading.  At the conclusion of this novella, many questions remain which could be resolved by adding depth to the characters and clarifying the plot.  However, the overall writing talent and intelligence of the author is undeniable.

A Review: Japan Luggage Express, Ltd.

jluggageRecently, I was given the opportunity to write content for the website of Japan Luggage Express, Ltd.  This company provides worldwide moving and shipping services, claiming to offer both the best and the most economical way to ship your belongings home, or simply a better way to import or export commercial cargo.  This company can help you move almost anywhere from Japan and to almost anywhere in Japan.  Contact information is available right on the front page, and one can choose to contact them using an online form, or by phone, fax, or email.

My experiences with the manager, Mr. Yasu Shimizu, have been very positive, and there are over 20 testimonials available for viewing on the website where clients of Japan Luggage Express have expressed their appreciation for the services they received from this company.  Most pressing technical questions about the service can likely be answered on the website’s FAQ page.  With the FAQs, plus separate pages for air rates and sea rates, the information a client would need from this company is most likely right at their fingertips.  Unanswered questions could easily be addressed through any of the multiple methods of contact provided.

The website for Japan Luggage Express, Ltd. is http://www.jluggage.com.  The manager is Mr. Yasu Shimizu.  It is not every day that a company provides such valuable services, offers rates and information up front, provides information for multiple modes of contact, and appears to have received multiple accolades for friendly, reliable service.  For those individuals planning to move to or from Japan or those in the commercial cargo business, this is definitely a company worth checking out.

The Marasca Report: Italy’s Exoneration of Amanda Knox | WafflesatNoon.com

The Marasca ReportHere is another article I wrote for WafflesatNoon.com: “Amanda “Foxy Knoxy” Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, have been decidedly cleared of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher by a top Italian court.” Read “The Marasca Report: Italy’s Exoneration of Amanda Knox” at WafflesatNoon.com!