Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Ad Update & True Tale


Love this!


Update on "How to Kill an Ad"

 I am delighted to report that I have not seen a Progressive anti-parent ad in several weeks. Not one. (I should have complained a lot earlier!)

And . . .

I don't know if any of you took up the cry against the Tampa Hardrock Casino ads or the Inspire commercials, but someone surely did. (Not me.) The Casino ads are gone, gone, gone. Vanished. (They were so outrageous, I suspect shouts of protest came from all over.) As for Inspire, the ad that skated closest to being fraudulent is also gone. The ads that seem to indicate that sleep apnea is a serious problem (NOT insomnia) are still running. 

If my blog or blog readers had anything to do with the demise of these commercials, yay, hurray! If it was simply coincidence, it's still a win. Please keep in mind that you—yes, YOU—have the power to rid your TV screen of insulting, offensive, or downright disgusting commercials. Remember the cry from that old movie:  "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

 ~ * ~

 True Tale from The National Company 
of "The Sound of Music"
(way back when) 
A long, long time ago, I took the plunge, gave up my job teaching music in a Connecticut suburb, and moved to the big city—New York City, to be exact. (I knew I'd reached the age where if I didn't I pursue my desire to sing in musicals, I never would.) I was among the fortunate—being a trained musician with near-perfect sight-reading and choral-directing experience certainly didn't hurt. Particularly when auditioning for a serious musical like the "The Sound of Music." (Broadway was just at the turning point when dancing skills were beginning to take over.)
We auditioned all afternoon, the group of finalists growing smaller and smaller. Until there were just sixteen of us (all female, of course). A voice came out of the darkness of the auditorium: "Okay, girls, time to put on your dancing shoes."
You can imagine the horrified groans! Happily, this was a joke. We had all been selected for our voices. In addition, I was given the job of playing piano for rehearsals on the road, training all replacements, and directing the off-stage choruses. Wow! (Rodgers & Hammerstein even paid my dues into the local Musician's Union.) 
There is music in "The Sound of Music" that you never see in most scores—Medieval-style music in eight parts, sung in Latin. It is absolutely gorgeous, yet doesn't even appear in the recordings of "The Sound of Music." Anyway, we practiced that music, two to a part, until it was perfection, and then we recorded it in a special sound chamber to get an echo effect. This recording would open each show, accompanied by a pantomime of the novices in the Abbey going about their daily activities in front of the curtain.
Mechanics of a road trip:
It was customary for key crew and musicians to travel with the show. For example, Stage Manager, Lighting Technicians, Orchestra Conductor, first chairs of each section. All others—crew & musicians—were hired locally. (FYI, we traveled by train, each chorus member with her own roomette. Very posh.)
Our opening performance was a Saturday matinee in Detroit—at a grand old theater I now understand is derelict. Naturally, excitement was high. This was it. We were actually doing this. No peeking through the curtain, however. This was Broadway, not high school. But we were told the audience was teeming with families with children and a whole host of nuns. (This was back in the day when nuns were easily distinguished by their wimples.)
Our glorious 8-part Latin began to play; the novices wafted onto the stage, doing their pantomime. The music faded away; the girls disappeared into the wings. Sammy, our Stage Manager, gave the signal to open the curtain . . . Nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. Sammy roared:  "God-dammit, open the curtain!"
And his words went out over the loud-speakers that were still open from broadcasting our ethereal 8-part, highly religious prelude to "The Sound of Music."
The road trip was long and sometimes arduous, continuing for more than a year after I left to return to teaching (and not long after, into another new world, that of marriage and raising three children). But I'm pretty sure they never had another opening quite like our debut that afternoon in Detroit. 
~ * ~
 The featured book this week is my very first (though Tarleton's Wife was published first). All 144,000 words of it. I actually had an offer from a major NY publisher - if I would change the heroine's age. Incredibly, I refused. Just because she was too young for modern sensibilities didn't mean she was too young for a heroine in 1809! (A foolish mistake on my part. If I'd compromised, who knows what might have happened?) Shortly after, I was blessed by one of the early e-publishers being willing to accept both the length and a young heroine (by the end of the book she is 21). Eventually, I got my rights back, and The Sometime Bride went up on Amazon and the many affiliates of Smashwords (now Draft2Digital). After a quarter century, copies are still being sold each month.

A very young bride finds herself married to an enigmatic British spy "for her safety." And is plunged into a seven-year, highly personal view of the Peninsular War—ending, after years of blind devotion, in discovering a betrayal of her trust so immense she can only wonder: Is she the sometime bride of a man who never existed? A discarded mistress? Or a beloved wife whose only rival is her husband's expediency in a time of war?

Author's Note: In addition to being a saga of young lovers caught up in a war, The Sometime Bride is the history of the Peninsular War, Britain's fight against Napoleon in Portugal and Spain. The story moves from France's invasion of Portugal and British troops being driven into the sea at La Coruña to the return of British troops under General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the fortified lines at Torres Vedras, and the gradual push of French troops across Spain and back to France. Plus the chaotic times in Paris after Napoleon's surrender and the Emperor's triumph as he gathers up his old troops, only to be stopped in one of the most famous and bloody battles in history—Waterloo.


Reviewers Choice Award. "Sometimes a reviewer gets a book so powerful, it's hard to know where to begin to tell about it. The Sometime Bride is such a book. . . . Bride passes every criterion for a successful book that I was given as a reviewer. Ms Bancroft weaves a most unusual love story in among the threads of history that cover eight years. . . . I highly recommend both Tarleton's Wife and The Sometime Bride as companion books. They are totally independent, but together give a vastly enlightening and entertaining view of the period through use of wonderful characters and page-turner plots—definite keepers, both." Jane Bowers, Romance Communications

"The writing talent displayed by the author is wonderful . . . Ms. Bancroft's detail for historical events is phenomenal. . . ."
April Redmon, Romantic Times

Five Stars. "Set against the bloody Napoleonic wars, The Sometime Bride is ambitious, engrossing and absolutely wonderful."
Rickey R. Mallory, Affaire de Coeur

Five Stars. "The Sometime Bride by Blair Bancroft is a riveting and well-written story. . . . The tension between the hero and heroine sizzles. . . ." Janet Lane Walters, Scribes World

~ * ~

For a link to Blair's websiteclick here. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)       

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Gallery - Veterans to Dancing Dolphins

 A startling variety of pics for this week's Gallery, from the return of an Honor Flight from Washington, DC, to Dolphin-dancing off Florida's Gulf Coast. 

What is an Honor Flight? you ask. There is a local group that flies elderly veterans—most from the Vietnam War—to see the Memorials in Washington, particularly the Vietnam Wall.

Our Cassidy has been in Police Explorers since before she joined the Air Force Junior ROTC and has been a faithful member in each, rising to commander of the Honor Guard, which met the return of the latest Honor Flight at Sanford International Airport. In the video below, you will also catch glimpses of her father (red shirt) taking photos of the event.

Cassidy, in front

For a link to the video of the Honor Flight vets returning to Sanford International, click here.

And yes, this is the same airport where Cassidy is continuing her flight training. As her high school years came to a close, her parents decided they should capture Cassidy in some Pilot Pin-up poses. (Is that expression still in our modern vocabulary? I grew up with "Pin-up" meaning a glamorous movie star pic that soldiers and sailors in WWII pinned to the walls beside their bunks to keep their spirits up.) Below, several Cassidy Pilot Pin-ups, using "her" plane as a backdrop.


If you're thinking this can't be the same girl as the leader of the Police Explorers Honor Guard . . . I, her grandmother for seventeen+ years, swear it really is. (Needless to say, her two older sisters are ready for all the hoopla to fade away.)


My hairdresser operates her own business out of a building that rents individual cubicles with all the necessary equipment—chair, sink, storage, big window, etc. Which is why my hairdresser can bring her four-month-old puppy to work. Below, Bentley, whose soulful eyes I didn't quite manage to capture. Bentley is both charming and well-mannered, an enjoyable bonus to getting my hair cut.


And in a classic sunset finish, a photo from Florida's Gulf Coast, where I lived for 25 years before moving to Orlando to be near my daughter and the three grandgirls. 

Dolphins dancing off Ft. Meyers Beach

~ * ~

 I thought I should choose an intrepid heroine for this week's featured book, and Rogue's Destiny leaped to mind (even though I've featured it before). I based the heroine's father on my own 4 or 5-greats grandfather, Peter Demo*, which would make him Cassidy's umpteen-greats grandfather. And since he lived to be 112 and one of my mother's "greats" lived to a hundred (passing on about the time I entered high school), the family has oral history far more vivid than could be expected about someone who was a drummer boy for the French at the Battle of Quebec (September 13,1759).

*If you would like to know more about a man who lived a truly remarkable life, click here.. for "An Amazing Bit of Family History" (May 30,2015).


In previous books in the Regency Warrior series, Jack Harding has suffered a broken heart, a close brush with the hangman, and continued his uncertain history with females by letting yet another woman slip through his fingers—this time to his employer, Terence O'Rourke. It would appear Jack is never to know the joy of true love—until he meets a feisty young French Canadian heiress in need of a knight in shining armor. A role at which Jack excels.

WARNING: Although the story in Rogue's Destiny stands alone, it contains major spoilers for the previous books in the Regency Warrior series: The Sometime Bride, Tarleton's Wife, and O'Rourke's Heiress.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair's websiteclick here. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)       


Saturday, May 4, 2024

Thoughts on Civil Disobedience

 [New Blog:  Saturday, May 18]

From the Orlando Sentinel, 4/28/24

The United States of America was founded on Civil Disobedience, which escalated from the Boston Tea Party to armed and rebellious militias, to the ride of Paul Revere, the formation of the Continental Army and, lo & behold, David was taking on Goliath, and though not winning quite so handily, persisting until the Brits decided their losses simply weren't worth the effort of subduing a bunch of rebellious colonies. (George III was likely too afflicted by madness to realize the enormity of this mistake. But, hey, France was a lot closer and an enemy for centuries—far better to commit Redcoats to that problem than worrying about a near-wilderness 5000 miles away.)

All of which illustrates that the U S of A has enormous tolerance for Civil Disobedience. I mean, we practically invented it. Since my earliest memories go back to WWII, I hasten to say there was not so much as a whiff of Civil Disobedience during that time. Patriotism was rampant, everyone pulling together to grind the "Axis" into dust. (Until, that is, the men came home, and many women found they didn't want to give-up their independence and well-paid jobs to return to nothing but cooking, cleaning, and babies.)

In the years that followed, however, the glow of WWII ideals grew dim, as my college classmates were drafted into the Korean War. (Huh? What are we DOING over there? Why did we found a United Nations after the war if it can't handle situations like this? Have we become Policeman to the World? Really?) And then came the gradually escalating Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. You could almost say that protests against both played tag with each other. And at long last, I learned the meaning of Civil Disobedience (strictly as an observer, I hasten to say) . 

For nearly twenty years after college, I was a member of a 16-voice all-professional choir at Temple Mishkan Israel in New Haven, CT. (One summer evening, I even got to be Cantor.) And during much of this time, the choir would sit up in the balcony during the sermon and wonder when "they" were coming to get us. Because Rabbi Bob Goldberg was gung-ho at the front of the Civil Rights movement, marching shoulder-to-shoulder with Martin Luther King and never hesitating to state his opinion on the subject. (Angering some of his congregation as they felt he was neglecting his duties to Mishkan Israel.) 

[As an aside, I should mention that Bob Goldberg was a friend of the author, Arthur Miller, and was the rabbi who taught Marilyn Monroe Judaism before her marriage to Miller.] 

I admit my days at Mishkan Israel, employed by a temple where the rabbi was on the FBI "watch list" was about as close to Civil Disobedience as I ever got. Though, unlike my opinion of the Vietnam protestors, Civil Rights for Black Americans was something I wholeheartedly supported.

In the midst of a growing Civil Rights movement, we plunged into a war in Vietnam. Raised to support our troops, I was horrified when protestors shouted, "Make Love, not War." Appalled at the denigration of our soldiers as they returned from months or years of unrelenting jungle warfare, only to be booed, spit upon. If I hadn't seen it on the TV news, I would not have believed it. One of the most shameful periods in American history. The war might have been questionable. The courage and patriotism of our troops were not!

What did the Civil Rights protests and the Vietnam protests have in common?

They were PEACEFUL protests, escalating to violence only when the police began swinging clubs. Peaceful protests almost everyone tolerated because that's who we are—a nation who fought for the right to speak freely, to express "the other side." But . . .

When Peaceful protests turn violent . . .

When the protestors' rhetoric advocates hatred for someone else's religion, ethnicity, gender-choice . . .

When "student" protests are led by outside agitators with agendas like White Supremacy or Twisted Politics . . .

When it's "Make Hate, Not Peace," it's time to take a long look at what is going on.

My Switch in Attitude:

When my son in New Haven called to tell me protests had begun at Yale, I thought, "Good!" Because I am truly shocked that Israel—with whom I have always had great sympathy—should adopt a policy of annihilation that smacks of Adolf Hitler and his genocidal cohorts. Let's face it—Netanyahu and his rabid Zionists have to go. But . . .

Today's campus protesters are promoting Intolerance and, yes, Hatred. And using VIOLENCE to make their point. I have no doubt there are many truly sincere students involved, justifiably protesting the Israeli army's scorched-earth policy in Gaza, but there are far too many outsiders "jumping on the bandwagon," encouraging—promoting—the protests far beyond the boundaries of Civil Disobedience. 

And yet . . . the Elephant in the Room crops up again . . .

THE BIG PROBLEM:  How to distinguish genuine peaceful protestors, appalled by the excesses of Israel's Zionists from the rabble-rousers who are using the protests to incite anti-Semitism and anti-anything else they might not like. 

I can only hope when it's Punishment Time, both colleges and police will find a way through the jungle of motivations, going easy on those who are protesting genocide and coming down hard on those who are there to incite riot, promote hate, or those making as much political hay as they can for their "any tactic, no matter how low" candidate for the Presidency.

Pay attention, folks. Don't take your eye off the ball. This is a moral battle with world-wide repercussions. And truly difficult to sort out. So condemn the protesters' violence, pray for Peace, and save a bit of admiration for the sincere protesters who are risking their college careers to point out it's way past time to draw a line in the sand and say:

Zionists and Hamas, lay down your weapons, give succor to the wounded, pray for the dead, start clearing the rubble, rebuilding lives along with buildings. An air dream? Pie in the sky? I hope not.

~ * ~

 This week's featured book has to be either The Lady Takes a Risk or The Making of Matthew Wolfe, as both feature scenes of protest. Hmm. Matthew Wolfe, I think—with the scene where Matthew first meets the dour war-amputee from The Lady Takes a Risk (and hero of The Abominable Major).

AUTHOR'S NOTE (from 2020). Welcome to a Regency series with a twist! Although the Matthew Wolfe books feature the adventures of a supposed nobody off the mean streets of London, they are designed for Covid relief—light, warm-hearted, even whimsical. Hopefully, by the time Matthew has found his Happily Ever After, our World will have righted itself and we will be well on our way back to normal. Meanwhile, here is the first in a three-book series of novellas told as an old-fashioned "serial," the first two books with cliff-hanger endings.

Matthew Wolfe, born and raised in the squalor of London's inner city, should be a nobody, forever destined to obscurity, or the hangman. But wait . . . he can read and write, is a whiz at math, can speak like a gentleman, even knows more than a bit of French. And when the boy from London ends up on a hops farm in Kent, surrounded by the remnants of the Royal 10th Hussars and a passel of children, what will this fish out of water do? Retired military and their ladies, children, dogs, a regal cat, neighbors in need, and a determined twelve-year-old—all assist Matthew on his journey toward the person he is meant to be.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair's websiteclick here. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)