Archive for December 13, 2008

W. Wyeth Willard

December 13, 2008

Sometimes … the Internet manages to knock the wind out of me.

W. Wyeth Willard, Chaplain 8th Marines


Willard was credited with serving more consecutive days under constant enemy fire than any chaplain in the history of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Willard landed with the Marines during the World War II battle at Guadalcanal, and of the eight chaplains who served the Marines there, he was the only survivor. In 1944, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Navy’s highest honor, for his service with the 2nd Marine division during the 1943 battle at Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands.

After seeking special permission to go ashore with his men, Willard, despite heavy enemy fire, evacuated the wounded and gave spiritual comfort to the dying. He paced the beach in full view, chanting “I’m Chaplain Willard and you can’t shoot me!” reported Leatherneck, the magazine of the U.S. Marines, in November 1980.

Emphasis added by me.

I never knew this about him.

For several consecutive years when I was kid, I attended a summer camp he founded.

None of us kids saw him as special or courageous or brave.

He was generally a distant fellow, who now and then would address all of us kids.

One of his specialties was doing an imitation of a rooster welcoming dawn. That sounds like a minor thing. But let me tell you, when he did it, it was God’s Own Rooster thundering from Heaven! He was prohibited from doing it by his doctor, that’s how powerful it was. But one summer, one of the counselors had an eye injury and Willard said he’d do the rooster if we all chipped in to help pay for the surgery. He was putting his life on the line for that.

I didn’t know until moments ago that putting his life on the line was something he’d done many times before. And at Guadalcanal, one of the bloodbaths of the Second World War. He not only survived it, he walked it defiantly!

One time, on a trip, we went to some sort of museum and part of the presentation was an old silent movie with, I think, Charlie Chase, in a DIY auto that he powered with a giant magnet, towing himself behind car after car. Willard laughed at that movie with a gusto that bordered on shameful for a grown man! Tears were coming from his eyes! I thought it was funny — but his reaction was … we’d call it Over the Top today. But it was genuine.

It was a Christian camp, devoted to instilling Biblical values in children. Today, that sounds like a horrible thing. That’s how degraded the term “Christian” has become over the decades, due to cartoon “Christians” strutting TV stages, sticking their noses into politics, and overall acting very unlike Jesus.

Whenever I think “Christian,” I see the true Christians I witnessed at that camp. All saints? No, of course not. Regular flawed human beings who did their best without being inconsiderate of others, who didn’t strut around in expensive suits, who didn’t make embarrassing displays of themselves. And some, of course, were there just for a paycheck for the summer, but they never claimed to be holier than anybody — and who knows?, maybe the environment influenced them and they became better people.

We kids never knew what the first “W.” stood for. I still don’t. And, of course, give a kid a strange name and we’ll mangle it into shape for easy ridicule. So “Wyeth” (pronounced WHY-eth) became “Weeth” to us. “Weeth Willard” was what we called him. Behind his back, of course.

To go through the hell of war like that — and then to come home to want to work with noisy, trouble-making kids? It’s inconceivable to me. But I saw him lead us in prayer. I heard his words to God.

His was a true faith. And he was a true man.

God bless and rest his soul. May he have his reward.

Fandom Photos: Broertjes and Morrissey

December 13, 2008

Harry Broertjes and Rich Morrissey, originally uploaded by zilberhere.

Wow, this is really something.

Harry Broertjes was the editor of an influential Legion of Superheroes fanzine published by Mike Flynn, The Legion Outpost. There’s a commemorative issue on Google Book Search, which has a black-and-white picture of Mike Flynn, Richard Morrissey, and Harry Broertjes on page 11 from back in the day.

Rich Morrissey was the All-Time #1 fan of Batman. Aw, crap. I didn’t know he died, until now. Life sucks at moments like this. Rest in Peace, Richard. You did good while you were with us.

Fandom Photos: Carl Gafford

December 13, 2008

Carl Gafford at John Street, originally uploaded by zilberhere.

Carl Gafford at John Street

Carl Gafford was one of the early comic fans to publish a fanzine.

He also created the first organization of fanzine publishers, called the BPP — Blue Plaque Publications. (It was later revived into the UFO — United Fanzine Organization — chaired for some time by by Kurt Erichsen.)

Fandom Photos: Ben Katchor

December 13, 2008

Ben Katchor, originally uploaded by zilberhere.

Yes, the artist who went on to such fame and fortune (MacArthur Fellowship!) is here shown in a humble office at 11 John Street, working on a vintage Mac at a time when it wasn’t vintage but brand-new. This was late 1980’s, early 1990’s, and even then he was watching the other people in the office log on to online services like Compuserve and he’d ask questions about whether it was viable to upload his “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer” strips for people to download.

I have found a cache of fan photos on Flickr. I’m testing using some of them here, using a Post to Blog feature I didn’t know Flickr offered. I might have to change the photo size spec. It’s 500 and 60 pixels or so are getting cut off.

Things will look all screwy for a while as I play with this new feature.

Copyediting: Behind The Scenes

December 13, 2008

Bless the copyeditors.

Oh, I was all set to use the above post as an example of why writers need a professional copyeditor.

Now the point is to double-check the copyeditor!

A copyeditor is still required — and good for them for raising issues such as the one pointed out in that post.

But we live in Google Book Search World these days.

And so in this example, at least, you can see that the copyeditor was actually wrong.

UPDATE: I’ve had to kill the link. After further study of the link, I’ve deemed it worthless. Google Book Search is unscholarly in how it arranges content and publication dates are untrustworthy. Personally, I still think the copyeditor was wrong and the phrase in question existed before the given citation. Can anyone out there confirm that with a reliable citation? Now I won’t rest today until I’ve found it!

England Needs Serious Sorting Out

December 13, 2008

Father-of-three cancer sufferer beaten to death as he prepared to spend his last Christmas with family

He was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February last year and underwent surgery and chemotherapy, but the spread of the disease could not be halted and he was told in June this year that he was terminally ill.

What the hell has happened to that country?

And how can they let this shit go on week after week after week?

Quote: Writer Lawrence Osborne

December 13, 2008

A Writer And Reader On Why Book Publishers Fail

What publishers don’t understand is that media blitz campaigns are often less significant than old-fashioned word of mouth, which is disseminated patiently and slowly through book stores. Books are not Hollywood, to the general astonishment of agents and corporate suits. They are intimate, unpredictable agents of delicious rebellion.

Well, as book stores continue to drop dead, the Word Of Mouth moves to the Internet: blogs, Twitter, et al.

Learn those skills, publishers:

Be Social Like A Disease!
Be Social Like A Disease #2