Here’s a blast from the past.  My past, at least. I was looking for a photo to show how times have changed in America and came across this one which illustrated how I have changed. In my 20s I would have focused on the woman on the blanket.  Yes, even then she was old enough to be my mother, but I still would have found this woman seductive. But when I found this photo a few weeks ago, the first thing I saw was the automobile.  Then the other automobile. When I was growing up I could identify every car on the road by its make, model and year. That changed with the proliferation of foreign cars, mostly Japanese.  And “Made in Japan” was a joke in the 1950s; no so today. I could not afford cars like these when I was growing up and now that they are classic, I still can’t afford them now. In a lot of ways, nothing has changed. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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One of the great gifts of the internet is what I call “The Gift of the Split-Second.” There have been millions of photographs since the invention of the camera but fewer than .00001% of them have been seen – before the internet. That was because the ‘old’ photographs only appeared in books and editors had to choose the best – artistic, editorial and human interest – to print. Not so today. I like photographs like this one because they capture – in a split-second – a moment in time when THOSE people were being who they really were. This photograph would never have appeared in a book because the men were drinking and not everyone in the photo was alert and expecting their image to make it through the ages. A man in back is pouring himself a drink rather than looking at the camera and the two sots on the stairway look as though they are about to pass out. The second seated man from the left is proudly holding what looks like a hot water bottle (perhaps a joke?) and the fourth seated man from the left has to tilt his head up to see through his glasses – just like I do. The seated man on the far right looks like he’s asleep. The setting is dingy, like an alleyway with a cart in the background. There are empty glasses on the table and bottles on the dirty paving stones along with some trash. This is a REAL LOOK at the past courtesy of the internet and the “Gift of the Split-Second.” [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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If you watch a lot of television – even if you are a millennial – you will recognize the man on the left as Colonel Harland David Sanders, the founder of “finger lickin’ good” Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders, by the way, died in 1980 – at 90 years of age. Take a moment to see if you recognize the other man in the photo. He is Vincent Damon Furnier and he appears here without make-up. Need another hint: He uses a woman’s name when he is onstage and he is not a crossdresser. If you guessed Alice Cooper, you are correct.
America is a land where you can start out as a nobody and end up a star. Until he was in his 50s, Sanders was still working for other people. Furnier, now known as “The Godfather of Shock Rock,” draws inspiration from horror films and gruesome acts of violence. When this photograph was taken, probably in the 1970s, both were at the top of their game. While it is odd to see them together, keep in mind this is America and here celebrity status breaks down all barriers. Only in America does age have no bearing on success or, for that matter, medium. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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Here we have a shot of a raid in 1922. But this raid wasn’t on a speakeasy, brothel or illegal gambling joint. It was carried out on a beach. The crime? Knees. Too many of them – or, rather, two many of them – were visible. And you know, we can’t have women walking around in bathing suits showing too many knees. Why, these women should have been wearing birkas. That would have showed the proper moral restraint. Wait a minute! A woman can be arrested for wearing a birka. I guess it’s just as bad to show no knees as too many.
America has come a long way in a century. In 1917, three years before the 19th Amendment, women were being denied the right to vote in many parts of the country, their paychecks went to their husbands and it was not uncommon for women to inherit property. (Their husbands could, even if the inheritance was from her family.)
Like I said, we’ve come a long way in a century. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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William Harvey Carney (February 29, 1840 – December 9, 1908) was an African American soldier during the American Civil War. In 1900, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry in saving the regimental colors during the Battle of Fort Wagner in 1863. Because his actions preceded those of other medal honorees, he is considered to be the first African American to be granted the Medal of Honor. An excellent depiction of that battle is in the movie GLORY. The Massachusetts 54th was commanded by seven white officers. One of those white officers — who was killed during the Battle of Fort Wagner — was my mother’s mother’s uncle. In reward for his service, his family was given land in Montana. They founded a city on that land: Lewistown, where my mother was born.

[See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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If it takes you longer than ten seconds to read this license plate holder, you are a whippersnapper, a youngster.  For those of us over 40, it is a no-brainer. Which leads me to debunk the adage “with age comes wisdom.”  In fact, all age brings is bad knees and poor eyesight.  What brings wisdom are mistakes – IF you learn from them. There are lots of ‘old people’ who have held the same job for 40 years and think they know everything because they have made no mistakes.  No, people who have made no mistakes are people who have never tried anything new.

Over the past 50 years, America had gone through profound change. Industries that were rock solid in the 1960s are now long-gone. New technologies have changed our vocabulary, politics and view of both ourselves and the world. The knowledge of the 6,000 years is at our fingertips on our desk.  But the technology has only changed our access to knowledge, not our wisdom. A computer will make it faster but not smarter. Age may not make you smarter but it has given you a lot more time to make mistakes which WILL make you smarter.

If you can’t decipher the license plate holder, talk to your father or mother.  But before you do, here are a selection of words from the 1960s which I included in my eBook EATING A BEAR WITH ITS OWN TEETH.  See how many of these terms you know; then ask your parents about the others.

“Far out”             “Film at 11”                   PBX            lay a patch

Hang 10               “Where’s the beef”      33 1/3        Big John and Sparky

Burma Shave       carriage return            car hop      dimmer switch

Deep six               fink                                 hifi              index card

Mimeo                  matchbook                   PMT           Top end floor

Typesetter            whiteout                       USSR          Twist

[See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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As a writer, my mantra is “If you don’t have something unique, you have nothing.” If I cannot write something that ‘has never been read done before’ I am just another cookie-cutter writer. Walt Disney understood the power of uniqueness.  Here he is in 1955, 11 years before his death, outlining his vision for a theme park. Half a century after his death, Mickey Mouse is still one of the most recognizable personalities in the world, Disneyland alone hosts 18 million tourists a year and you can buy Snow White and the Seven Dwarf lawn figurines – from a 1937 movie – in most cities in the United States. Now that’s the power of unique idea. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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blog61-1 Let’s see how well you know your actors.  Everyone can identify Sean Connery, of course. (If you are under 30, he’s the man right and was the best known James Bond.) The man on the left is Ian Flemming, the man who wrote the James Bond novels.  But I would be very surprised if one person in a thousand could identify the photo of Dušan “Duško” Popov – and Popov was the real-life model for James Bond. He was a double agent for the British during the Second World War, had a “promiscuous lifestyle” which include a lot of women and money and died in 1981, a lot longer than Fleming or many of his spy handlers.  If you want to read an intriguing biography, pull up Popov on Wikipedia.  His life was truly stranger than the fiction Fleming wrote.  [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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Occasionally, I see an upload which makes me want to stand up and cheer.  This is one.  It also encapsulates what is wrong with our schools and businesses. The prevailing belief is whatever rut our school or business is in, well, that rut is the GREATEST rut there is! Change is sacrilege. Because of this mentality, schools and businesses do not change. Ten years later they are in the same muddy rut. America’s education scores have been dropped consistently for two decades and schools are not rising to the challenge of educating today’s students for tomorrow’s world. Our most profitable businesses are dodging the taxman and selling foreign products on the American market. Worse, most polls show– by a margin well into high numeral double digits – that Americans believe we are on the wrong track to the future. We had better get our ducks in a row because we are being overtaken in all industries by companies and countries that are, to use an old California expression, “eating our lunch.” You start changing the American educational and industrial landscape at the bottom, one employee at a time. If your school or company is not willing to treat you as more valuable than its students or customers, it’s time to find another job. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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blog59Is this in code?  Really!  Take another look.  By the time you get to line 3 you should see that, in fact, it is just another way of writing. What’s the point?  Your mind is the most powerful tool in the universe. Most of us do not ‘look at it that way’ because we do not expand our horizons. We are logical, rational thinkers and rarely force our minds to wander. Take a chance. Force your mind to go places it has never been. Read a book on a subject you have never considered important before. Attend a history lecture on an era you have never studied. If you keep thinking the way everyone else is thinking you are no better than those around you.  Success in all fields belongs to the original thinkers.  And if you are at a loss as to how to start ‘thinking like no one else,’ take some advice from Alaskan humorist Warren Sitka, “the only good memory is one that remembers the future.”  If you want to see the future, study the past. And the best way to study the past is old newspapers. If you want a ‘new’ idea for your business, read a month’s worth of newspapers from the 1920s.  Good ideas never disappear, they recirculate. The past is the future. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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