Song Review: The War Was In Color by Carbon Leaf

I’m honestly not even sure if song reviews are a thing, but I’ve been in love with this song for months and really want to talk about it, so I’m doing it anyway.

So, I first discovered The War Was In Color through this fan video that someone made based on the first Captain America and Avengers movies, which is honestly kind of perfect, so I would definitely recommend watching that. But the song is also really gorgeous just by itself, so that’s what I’m going to focus on here: it is a tribute to those who fought during World War II, from a U.S. perspective.

I happen to be involved in a big WWII project at work right now, so I’m already feeling a bit invested in the time period and also pretty emotional about it. That makes the lyrics for this song hit me a little harder even than they did when I first discovered it.

I see you’ve found a box of my things –
Infantries, tanks and smoldering airplane wings.
These old pictures are cool. Tell me some stories
Was it like the old war movies?
Sit down son. Let me fill you in

I love the imagery here – it’s just a box of old photographs, but to the WWII veteran, it’s a lot more than that: “infantries, tanks and smoldering airplane wings.” These are the pieces of the war that he remembers, not the two-dimensional pictures. I like also the imagery of a younger family member actually asking a veteran about his time in the war, and the veteran being willing to answer and speak about it.

Where to begin? Let’s start with the end
This black and white photo don’t capture the skin
From the flash of a gun to a soldier who’s done
Trust me grandson
The war was in color

There is something about the last line of this verse/the title of this song that really hits me. Even as an historian who knows better, it is still sometimes easy to get caught up in the immediate depictions of the war that are readily available to me…the black and white photographs, newspapers, and movies of the time. There are other artifacts as well, of course, that are not black and white (colorful propaganda posters, flags, etc.). But so many of the direct photographs of that era are black and white, that it can be easy to forget: like life for all people, in all places and all times, this war too was in color. It was immediate and real…the present for many millions of people, even if it is the past for us now.

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A Personal History of Books: 16 Years of Reading

A Personal History of Books: 16 Years of Reading

As my second post of 2017 (although it’s coming a bit later than I intended), I thought I would talk about my New-Books-Read list.

Back in 2000, somewhat on a whim, I decided to start keeping a list of the new books that I read that year in this small, cheerfully-psychedelic Lisa Frank notepad:

booklist

(I can hear you all crying “Oh god, the nineties!” and shielding your eyes.)

The list is just titles, no author names or any other information. My only criteria for adding things were that it had to be an actual book of some sort or another, that I had not read it before (I am an inveterate re-reader of books, sometimes, so I decided not to count those), and that I read all of it. At the end of that first year, I counted up how many titles were on the list (109!), and then flipped the page over to make a “New Books Read Since January 1, 2001,” and continued on.

booklist2000

I kept this up for the next 16 years. At the end of 2016, I finally reached the last page of the notebook.

booklist2016

(As you can see, my handwriting has not notably improved. Be glad that you get to read only typed things from me, my handwritten fiction drafts are awful. XD)

Looking through it since then, I ran a few numbers just for kicks:

-694 new books in 16 years

-Average of 43.375 books per year

-Best year: 2000 (109)

-Worst year: 2007 (13)

For those interested, the 2000 list includes all of both the Dragonriders of Pern series (Anne McCaffrey) and all of the Lord Peter Wimsey series (Dorothy Sayers), among other things. I was prone in middle and high school to spending my summer vacations discovering a new series of books (or two) and then devouring them all in one steady go. (I really miss being able to do that sometimes.) After 2007, I vowed to never read fewer than 15 new books per year again, and so far I’ve managed to hold to that. (To be fair, 2007 was in the middle of college, and I was pretty swamped with work, but still.)

So, the psychedelic 90s teddy bear will now be retired to a shelf, and I have a plainer (less eye-smarting) little purple notebook in which to continue these annual lists. This one has more pages than the previous one, so it will probably take me longer than 16 years to fill it up (unless I get back to reading 100+ new books every year!) Hopefully, I’ll be able to make a post about that one when I finish it too. 🙂

Happy Reading, everyone!

~Ethelinda

The Long-Overdue Update

Last August, my grandfather passed away. He had been ill with cancer for some months, but had not told anyone about it, and so by the time it became bad enough that he had to go to the hospital, he had very little time left. He was not in too much pain, and did not suffer for long, which I am very grateful for. He was my last remaining grandparent, and the one that I had been closest to; I was fortunate enough to live with him for six months following my undergrad graduation, doing an internship in the town where he lived. His loss has been very difficult for me, and even now I still struggle with it at times. For a few months immediately afterwards, I did not really feel much like writing or even editing, which is partly why it took me so long to get back to work on TWoS.

On a more positive front, I had more hours at work during the second half of last year, and as of the beginning of 2016, am full-time and even got a small raise. Since I really love my job, this is very exciting! It also allowed me to finally get my own place again (I had been staying with family since the beginning of 2014), but the moving/unpacking process then took up much of November and December, and some time in January. In addition to my full 40-hour week, this hasn’t always left me with a lot of time to write.

So, I have not been nearly as active with my writing over the past several months as I would have liked. I have at least been working on the latest edit of TWoS for the past couple months, which will be the last one before I send it to my editor. Once I have a final draft that I am satisfied with, I’ll be looking more into the self-publishing process (which I’ve put off because I didn’t want to let that research distract me from actually getting the story written!). Depending on how that process goes, and my time/money situation, I would like to have TWoS officially published sometime before the end of 2016.

I do have one more short story in my im/mortal series written, and another in the works. Some other snippets may be forthcoming as well, and I am going to start some planning and drafting of my next larger project once I’m a bit more settled on the TWoS draft.

Thank you again to anyone who has given me support or enjoyed my writing thus far, and know that more is coming. Hopefully soon!

~Ethelinda

Happy New Year!

(Very slightly belated.)

Here’s to 2015: I hope that it will be a year full of writing and reading!

Thanks once again to everyone who is following The Wizard of Suomen. Look for both a completed first draft and hopefully a completed final version of that this year, as well as some other projects with a bit more variety once the draft of TWoS is done and posted. 🙂

~Ethelinda