Archive for November, 2010



Mark Twain as George Scott

Meet a fine fellow named George who is an aviation enthusiast, a fan of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay (in whose home I photographed him during a visit to Springfield in 2008) and a friend o’ mine. He is also a jewel who shines when he dons a special suit. In that suit, he was among those specially invited to the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in emancipated downtown Springfield before I met him.

George Scott was a successful engineer and business owner before his unique looks and consuming appreciation of Sam Clemens a/k/a Mark Twain led him to pursue a career as a portrayer of the great author whose birthday we celebrate November 30. So where might a Twain portrayer go to maximize his success in that role? If you, as I, guessed HANNIBAL, MISSOURI, you, as I, guessed incorrectly.

True, George and his good wife moved to Hannibal years ago, and to hear him tell the tale, he soon became conspicuous in his proclivity to inspire cold shoulders and hostility from the politicians and intelligentsia of that river city. When he sashays around the center of the hamlet, attracting attention, smiles and great affection from tourists, the city fathers react as though to a cocaine dealer setting up a kiosk next to the courthouse square. No kidding; he has been threatened repeatedly with arrest. He speaks to civic groups and school kids in locales that surround Hannibal. He is a friend of authors of books about Twain, including Ron Powers who wrote an excellent book about the history of Hannibal and the best biography of Twain I have read (and thoroughly enjoyed). The rising rancour from officials in George Scott and family’s residential home of choice has finally succeeded in its goal of convincing him to “get out of Dodge.” He is looking to move closer to Branson, Missouri, a city which seems more hospitable, based on his experiences visiting the city in recent years.

I have seen George/Mark engaging people surprised and delighted to encounter this historic icon in Springfield and want to see him more frequently in this part of the world. If you want to learn more about engaging him at your party or special event . . . or even theater, I recommend you contact him via e at . . .  spiritofmarktwain@yahoo.com   and mention you read about him at Honey & Quinine.

Live long . . . . and proper.



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Job Conger, word Cuisinart

Last week I noted at Facebook that I was living in a house with a broken furnace, working (as a volunteer) at an aviation museum that has no heat and commuting in a truck with a broken heater. A few days later I was fiddling with the panels on my furnace when the heat came on again, a friend, Kevin Panting advised my radiator coolant was way down, out of sight with the cap off, advised me to get a gallon of coolant, and the next day, I finally found my space heater and took it to the AeroKnow Museum because the host is paying for the electricity. It gets better . . .

Some friends invited me to Thanksgiving dinner, and I was so warmed by the invitation that I ordered a pie from Arch, the owner of Robbie’s downtown to take for dessert.

Netting an assignment in the last week for an article that will appear in the December Springfield Business Journal bodes well for mid-December. The assignment went to the editor five hours before deadline, a comfortable, typical timing for a piece that had its special challenges, not one earth-shattering, but every one a little speed bump on the road to “mission accomplished.” There will likely be funds for my annual bottle of 101 proof Wild Turkey, my distillate of choice when I can afford it. For the past 12 years, I’ve been able to afford it once a year. And that’s enough.

There’s also a pretty good prospect of welcoming AeroKnow Museum’s first volunteer to an orientation that will determine what she can do a few hours a week at the public office while I’m working upstairs. I can think of three projects right off the top.

I’ve never worked fewer hours for money and been paid for it than I’m working these days. The four hours I worked for The Granite Guy on the edge of the world out east on North Dirksen Parkway are the first hours I’ve worked there since October 29. On the positive side, George paid me another chunk of back pay, and that allowed me to buy food, and for AeroKnow Museum, more magic tape, computer paper and CD-Rs for photo storage. I kept the receipt and will pay myself back when public support permits.

I’m further away from full-time employment than I was this time last year when I was expecting a formalizing of my circumstance with The Granite Guy. The opposite happened. But I still have a key to the showroom. And I still drive the truck the owner loaned me a year and a half ago. He’s paying the truck insurance, and that’s why there is a chance I can break away from the Museum long enough to get serious about finding a full-time employer. . . . . sometime after Thanksgiving, but let’s get real, campers: Do YOU know anyone likely to hire a journalist and public relations writer/photographer, a high energy quick study who doesn’t have to write if he can trade that destiny for a destiny that comes with a regular pay check?

Neither do I.

Even so, I’m counting my blessings, and I don’t hate myself as much as most blokes probably would if they were in my recently polished shoes. This is all the blessing I can handle; otherwise, Jehovah would have rewarded me with more, and that’s okay with me.

I hope that this season brings readers of Honey & Quinine all the blessings YOU can handle . . .  and maybe just a little bit more.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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It’s not like a jabberwonk (like me) to be absent from bloggery for long stretches. You’d think that the carbonated vanity in my chemistry would effuse that it’s better to say something than to say nothing at all, and I’m bothered that evidence to the contrary suggests I am not whom I seem to be.

But I am. But I am “off my feed,” and like your cousin’s sick kitty, when I am this way, the many fan who visit Honey & Quinine encounter no evidence of the “mews.”

I have been keeping track of things. Again this year, I was an election judge and made hourly counts of the voters to precinct 50. Threw them away yesterday. No point to them. Ancient history.

Jim Lovell (Apollo 13 commander) and Jeffrey Kluger wrote a book Apollo 13, and I acquired two autographed copies recently. Gave one to a local AeroKnow helper and friend. Enjoyed reading every page of it and finished it last night. It made an impression. The mission which did not land on the moon as planned because of technical SNAFUs (Buy and read the book for specifics. You will LOVE it!) relied a lot on celestial navigation for the happy ending. I am relying on “celestial navigation” to safely align my flight path through this vast void of life. It seems all objects which allow me to get my “fixes” are light years away.

And this, of course is “lunacy” in more ways than one. The navigation aids that seem so distant are at arms’ length from my right hand as I type these words: the phone, the computer, Facebook, my front door 25 feet behind me.

The truck was immobile for most of two weeks. I’ve not worked in three. I had to cancel my own moon landing — the article I had committed to write  for Springfield Business Journal because I had no wheels and could not take a taxi to interview key elements of the article. I just sent in a book review to Illinois Times. That will help a little. I have new residents in the upstairs of my duplex. That helps a lot. Bon chance gave me dollars needed for a new alternator for the truck and a friend installed it for no charge because he is a friend first. (Thanks again, Kevin!)  I HOPE I can reconnect with Springfield Business Journal. Cross your fingers! In the meantime, I am pouring myself into the AeroKnow Museum, aviation history (Look for me Saturday displaying old model airplane kits at Illinois State Museum’s “Collectors’ Day.) and the arts (playing/singing early at Third Thursday at Andiamo November 18 downtown).

It seems that like astronauts Lovell, Jim Swigert and Fred Haise, my course in my life’s mission has kept me from a soft landing on the moon, but I am flying out of the dead space experienced while transiting around the moon’s dark side, out of contact with Earth, and the gravitational mechanics of this close but aborted encounter with the latest of many missions is “sling-shotting” me toward home and re-establishing contact with other voices, returning me to distant navigational points that in a perfect world would be an arm’s length away but are not in this imperfect voyage I call life. I can feel the force of Earth drawing me home, and I am keeping eyes close on celestial guideposts along the way, ready to make mid-course correction “burns” as needed.

I am back in the blogging saddle again.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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