Bushwackers and “heroes of Gettysburg”

On the weekend of the 159th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, I am posting this article from issue #28 of my ‘zine METANOIA.

One of my favorite Gettysburg historians, Tim Smith, has been all over my YouTube suggestion queue lately, which doesn’t bother me; I’m always happy to watch any video in which Smith displays his unique mix of battle expertise and his dry, irreverent sense of humor. Smith, a historian at the Adams County (PA) Historical Society, delves deeply into battle topics that other historians often only treat on the surface, if at all. Two recent in-depth video interviews showed him at his best, fascinating and funny, discussing two of his pet topics: the early days of the Gettysburg campaign in Adams County, and civilian battle celebrity John Burns.

The interview about the early days of the campaign revealed a potential family connection to me. While the battle itself began on July 1, the Confederates had already come into Pennsylvania two weeks before, making mischief from Chambersburg east to Caledonia (where they raided Thaddeus Stevens’ ironworks).

On June 23, in Cashtown (about eight miles west of Gettysburg) a company of rebel cavalry chased a group of local militia into the woods. At the same time, in a Cashtown hotel, a local named Henry Hahn drunkenly announced “I’m going to shoot myself a rebel.” When the Confederate cavalry rode through, Hahn made good on his promise and shot and killed a cavalryman named Eli Amick, who was the first soldier killed in Adams County during the campaign. Hahn became known as “the bushwhacker.”

Far from feeling like a hero, Hahn went into hiding in the local woods for the next ten days (by military law, the Rebels could have executed him), and reportedly regretted this incident for the rest of his life. He still has descendants in Adams County, and the possible connection I found is in his last name, which is the same as my grandmother’s maiden name. I don’t know if there was any connection between the Adams County Hahns and the Hahns who settled in western Pennsylvania, but I’ll still investigate it sometime.

And if it’s not the same Hahn, maybe I can just do what Smith says John Burns did routinely: make up a story that sounds good.

Smith’s other interview was a discussion of his book John Burns: “The Hero of Gettysburg,” quotation marks employed because, according to Smith, that was how Burns referred to himself. It’s a fun book which explodes all of the mythology surrounding Burns, integrating newly-discovered primary source material from a pair of unfinished Burns bios by other authors, including first-hand accounts of townspeople and soldiers.

Burns was, to put it kindly, an unreliable source, especially concerning his own exploits. While he claimed to be a veteran of the War of 1812, Smith says that not only can that not be proven, but, in fact, it can easily be disproven by looking at muster rolls of units which fought where Burns claimed to have served, rolls on which his name is conspicuously absent. Aside from several terms as town constable, he drifted from job to job and was, if we are to trust contemporary accounts from other Gettysburg residents, seen as a humorless man and something of a local joke, if not an annoyance.

But Burns had one moment of glory, and that was on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg (July 1, 1863), when, at age 69, he grabbed his musket and went out to the field to join the fighting as a civilian volunteer, where he was wounded in action.

That Burns was wounded is beyond dispute; how many times he was wounded is unknown because he was never given a medical exam. (His pension was awarded by a special act of Congress, which didn’t require an exam.)

This gave Burns license to create (and re-create) his own truth: Smith says in varying accounts after the battle, including those of Burns himself, it was claimed that Burns had been hit by Rebel fire one time, two times, three times, four times, five times, and seven times.

“So we know for certain,” Smith said, “that Burns was not wounded six times.”

So locally notorious was Burns and his ever-shifting story that where Bret Harte opened his famous 1864 poem, “John Burns of Gettysburg,” with the following lines…

Have you heard the story that gossips tell
Of John Burns of Gettysburg? – No! Ah, well:
Brief is the glory that hero earns.
Briefer the story of poor John Burns
He was the fellow who won renown
The only man who didn’t back down
When the rebels rode through his native town…

…a Gettyburg resident named Henry Minnigh (himself a former captain in the 1st PA Reserves) wrote and printed a flier of a poem entitled “A Necessary Revisal,” which he distributed at the dedication of a Gettysburg memorial to Burns in 1903. The opening lines read…

Yes, we have heard the story gossips tell,
Of John Burns of Gettysburg. Ah, well!
Among the people here ‘tis a conviction,
Half the tale is fact, the other half is fiction…

“It is a rare treat,” Smith wrote, “when we are able to actually confirm an aspect of the Burns legend,” and legend and fact seem to have converged in Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 1, 1863: Burns tried to get his neighbors to get their weapons and go join in the first day’s battle on the nearby field, but they refused (“the only man who didn’t back down”); he grabbed his musket and went out to the portion of the field now known as Reynolds Woods (so named because Union General John Reynolds was killed there); he tried to latch onto a Pennsylvania unit, but they basically told the old man to go back home, but Burns persisted and eventually fought alongside the 7th Wisconsin regiment (the famous “Iron Brigade”), where he received his wound(s).

Shortly after he was shot, the Confederates took that part of the field; Burns, who, like Hahn, could have been executed by the Rebels for bushwhacking, hid his gun and ammo and pleaded with the Confederate doctors to treat him, which they did, but they left him on the field near where he fell. When night came, Burns crawled about a quarter mile to a house on the edge of town (the Riggs house, across from Robert E. Lee’s headquarters), where he lay on a cellar door overnight.

According to Smith, while he was lying wounded on the field, Burns described his house in town to a member of the 7th Wisconsin, and asked the soldier to tell his wife to come get him. The soldier balked at first, but later when he passed Burns’ house, he decided to stop and knock on the door. Burns’ wife Barbara answered and the soldier relayed her husband’s message.

Mrs. Burns’ reply?

“I told him not to go out there.”

Brief, indeed, was the glory that hero earned.

Book: Smith, Timothy H. John Burns: “The Hero of Gettysburg.” Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 2000. ISBN 1-57747-060-5

Youtube video interviews with Smith about…
“the Bushwhacker:” tinyurl.com/henry-hahn-bushwhacker
John Burns: tinyurl.com/tim-smith-on-john-burns

METANOIA is a semi-monthly print-only ‘zine. To get a copy of the latest issue, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:
Max Shenk
Hotel Coolidge, rm 138
39 S Main St
White River Jct, VT, 05001
OR
email maxshenkwrites@gmail.com for info.

(Loss of) Commanding Presence

Of all of the fanboy nonsense I’ve read concerning the new season of Star Trek: Picard (of which episode five just aired, or dropped, or whatever you call it), the most fanboyishly nonsensical was from a Facebook commenter who complained that he realized that lead actor Patrick Stewart has aged, “but he no longer seems to have a commanding presence.”

Star Trek: Picard – Patrick Stewart (R) as a 90-something Jean Luc Picard is even more bewildered than ever by the machinations of his nemesis Q (John DeLancie, L).

I replied that, correct me if I’m wrong, but… isn’t one of the main themes of Picard that the title character has aged and no longer feels (or appears to those around him) that he has a “commanding presence”??

Five episodes into the second season, one thing that I love about Star Trek: Picard, which was true in its first season and is true thus far in this season as well, is Patrick Stewart’s performance in the title role. For you who haven’t watched the series, Picard has aged 30+ years since last we saw him onscreen in the Star Trek movies.

I’m trying to think of another elderly fictional character who has been depicted so realistically and played so well by the actor.

One thing I’ve always loved about Star Trek is that it never shied away from the topic of aging. The two best– to me– Trek movies featuring the original cast were the second one (The Wrath of Khan) where Kirk has to come to terms with his aging (think of Kirk grudgingly putting on fucking READING GLASSES so he can clearly see a navigator’s display panel while his nemesis Khan waits arrogantly on the comlink), and the last one (The Undiscovered Country) where all of the other characters are dealing with it as well (Spock’s beautiful line: “Might it be that you and I have grown so inflexible in our old age that we have outlived our usefulness?”).

Pop culture and pop entertainment is produced and consumed by and geared to the young. That’s because traditionally the young have the money and time to consume it. When elderly characters appear, they’re often a diversion, comic relief, etc. I don’t see a lot of pop entertainment where an elderly protagonist is the star attraction.

Stewart’s performance as a 90-something-year-old Picard resonates with the sort of bewilderment-about-self (“how did I get this old”) that anyone who’s dealt with someone in their 70s or 80s or older will recognize instantly.

The supporting cast seems to have gelled as well, but it’s the series’ title character that makes it worth watching.

If that’s not “commanding presence,” I don’t know what is.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Kirk (William Shatner, L) curses his reading glasses while Spock (Leonard Nimoy, center) and Saavik (Kirstie Alley, R) watch…

Inspiration all around…

One of the writing mysteries that non-writers wonder about is “where do writers get their ideas?”

I can’t speak for EVERY writer, but usually the fiction I write is grounded in something that actually happened. I seldom write about it verbatim, but usually something I’ve experienced is the kernel for a story: I live through something, and then I think “How would (my character or characters) react to this?”

This afternoon is a perfect example. I was at the thrift shop and there was only one register of four open, and I was second person in a line that was maybe five people long. When a second register opened, I turned to my left to see that a pair of women had hopped the line to the front. I said “The line is behind me.” One of the women said “They said they’d help us next” and I said “well, there’s a long line of people who have been waiting longer than you have.”

And the other woman said “WHY DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT YOU?”

I felt stupified, didn’t know what to say to that, but at that point yet another register opened, and I was next in line, so I stepped up as they muttered to themselves.

As soon as I left the thrift shop, first I thought of all the things I would have LIKED to have said to those two women… but then the next thing I thought was “How would this have played out with one of my characters… say… Maura?” My 39 year old mom of two living in Stowe. I started parsing it through: “OK… the thrift shops near Stowe aren’t big enough to have multiple registers, so WHERE would it play out? Kinney Drug has the ‘one line waiting for the next available cashier’ system… so… she would be at Kinney Drug… now… how would her having the kids with her (an 11 year old girl and a six year old boy) have affected her reaction? How would it have played out with not just her, but the kids there, watching this woman jump into the front of the line out of nowhere and giving HER (Maura) crap for pointing it out?”

So that’s where the “Facebook Flash Fiction” piece in the two screenshots below came from.

The first screenshot is pretty much “as it happened,” right up to WHY DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT YOU? and the second is where I took the story in imagination given the characters.

What I’ll DO with it is another question entirely (that’s always the question with these “Facebook Flash Fiction” pieces). It’ll probably end up as a vignette in a longer work, or, if nothing else, in an issue of METANOIA (where I feature a handful of new “flash fiction” pieces every issue).

Anyway… this is just an example of where THIS writer gets ideas… 😉

#facebookflashfiction

http://www.facebook.com/groups/welcometoquakervalley

What is METANOIA, and why haven’t you asked me to send you a copy?

The picture above, as they used to say at print newspapers, is my “morgue”: all back issues of my print only ‘zine METANOIA.

I’ve had contact with a couple people who, when I asked if they wanted me to send it to them every couple weeks, seemed to balk, for whatever reason. These aren’t strangers; they’re people whom I consider friends, and yet they seemed hesitant– scared?– to just say “Yeah, send me a copy,” as if NEXT I’d be pestering them for payment, or expecting FEEDBACK of some kind, or they wanted me to send them a link (read again: PRINT ONLY. NO ONLINE!!) or who knows what else… 

No.

This is usually a single page or two pages, two columns, front and back.

So what is it?

The title of this is METANOIA; it means “a radical transformation.” I like the word and I try to embody it in my life and as a writer, so that’s the title I gave it.

I do it for these reasons:

* I am a writer, and writers write.

* Writing, though, is not just putting words on paper or screen. It’s honing a piece, editing it, getting it published, and connecting with readers.

* I’d reached a point, a few years back, where I was writing in my journal and online (mainly through my characters) but not PUBLISHING. 

* I also didn’t like that online writing was ephemeral, too easily ignored.

* I also love getting physical mail: letters, magazines, packages, cards, postcards. I like to hold a piece of paper in my hand that someone thought enough of to send me.

* I also know and have “met” via social media a lot of like-minded people who have given me of themselves in every way imaginable, and I wanted to give them something back. And “gold or silver I cannot offer thee, but that which I have, I will give you freely.” (Or something like that. 😉 ) And as a writer, what I have to give is my writing.

* With all this in mind, two years ago this week, as the first wave of the pandemic hit, I decided to publish this ‘zine.

It would be a writing discipline– I would write, finish, edit, and publish new writing every couple weeks and PUT IT OUT THERE for readers.

It would be print only– that way it wouldn’t get lost in the online weeds of links and blogs and websites– and I would mail those physical copies to people who expressed an interest in me or my writing, or vice versa. 

I didn’t stick strictly to the “every two weeks” schedule the past year or so, as health issues overtook me, but I’m back on that schedule. Issue 31 came out last week; issue 32 will come out NEXT week.

People have paid for it and that is appreciated and it helps me cover the necessary expenses of postage, paper, envelopes, toner, and stuff like this website, but if you want to read it and can’t pay or don’t want to, you’re under NO OBLIGATION to pay.

It’s not a burden on me. It is MY PLEASURE to create this and share it with you.

If you like ME and what I post on social media and on this website, or liked my books, or like my radio show, you will like METANOIA. Each issue contains, generally, an article on something that interests me, a metaphysical article of some kind, fiction pieces from my ongoing character fiction project on social media, a cartoon (yes, I draw that, too; see my posts on The Twins for samples), and whatever quotes I can fit in to fill space.

The topics these past two years have ranged from… let’s see… my uncle Ed, metaphysical lessons in STAR TREK, online shopping, Thoreau’s journal as his TRUE literary magnum opus, John Burns (the “hero of Gettysburg”), the Beatles’ LET IT BE remaster, 60s misogyny in the “good old days,” character development in M*A*S*H, dealing with “Writer’s block,” Penn State football, the silliness of record collecting, how online interactions can sometimes destroy friendships, parenting, French and American cultural norms and faux pas, my process of learning to play a seeming impossible song on the piano, PEANUTS and Charles Schulz and “canon” in story, the lives of blue jays, why I hate the phone, along with the writers and thinkers who stoke me: Neville Goddard, Krishnamurti, Thomas Merton, Henry Miller, Jacques Tati, Orson Welles, and Thoreau (did I mention Thoreau? He is my favorite and appears frequently, even if it’s just a quote).

The metaphysical stuff simply reflects my ongoing life work of reconciling the spiritual with the world. Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do?

Anything in that incomplete topic list that interests you?

Again:

It’s print only.

If you’d like to read a copy, here’s the complicated, convoluted process:

Send me your snail mail address and I will send you the latest issue.

That’s all.

If you want a back issue and saw a topic in the list above that interests you, mention that and I’ll send it along. If you want to go random, pick a number between 1 and 31 and I’ll send that back issue.

You are under no obligation to PAY or BUY anything. If you want to subscribe formally (several people have), it’s a buck an issue in the USA. If you want to donate via my ko-fi page, great. If you want to send stamps (as a couple people have), great.

If not any of the above, great.

You’re not even required to READ IT. One of the most bizarre exchanges I’ve had was with someone whom I’d quoted liberally in an issue, and I messaged him telling him and asking if he’d like a copy, since he was quoted in it, and if so just send me his snail mail address and I’d pop it in the mailbox for him. After five or six messages, he didn’t seem to get that I just wanted to give him this. Further, the tone of his replies made me feel like he saw this as ONE MORE ADDED OBLIGATION IN HIS ALREADY BUSY LIFE.

No. This is a gift, from me to you.

If you’re interested, email me (maxshenkwrites@gmail.com) or use the submit comment feature on this website, or, if you want to pay, go to my Kofi page or to the Metanoia item page on Selz.com.

That’s all there is to it. Honestly.

As my buddy Skip Heller said once about giving away his music on MP3s, a musician’s job is to make music, and a listener’s job is to listen.

As a writer, my job is to write. The reader’s job is to read.

Become a reader of METANOIA!

Hey, Jay! Hey, Red!

This article was originally published in issue 22 of my print-only ‘zine Metanoia.

From my current living space, I don’t see a lot of birds, or at least I don’t see the number of birds that I used to see when I lived in (relatively) rural Vermont and could put up feeders, or take a walk in the woods by just stepping out the back door. This has led me to satisfy my birding interests virtually via Youtube, specifically on two channels: the first hosted by a Newfoundland woman named Lesley the Bird Nerd, who produces beautiful informational videos; and the second a live bird feeder cam hosted by a user named B.A. Birdwatcher; that cam livestreams from (ironically, since I grew up less than 30 miles from there, lived there briefly, and consider it one of my favorite places in the world) Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The videos on these two channels have both stoked and fed my interest. Lesley’s channel is mainly informational– four-to-ten-minute-long videos about the the birds she sees– and from it, I’ve not only been tipped off to behavior I might have missed otherwise; I’ve also had a few misconceptions shattered.

For instance, it’s the start of spring, and I’ve already overheard one conversation this year from someone who was excitedly reporting that they’d “seen their first robin.” Uhhh, sorry: as I learned from one of Lesley’s videos, robins are mostly non-migratory. They’re drawn to the suburbs, it’s believed, because the closely-trimmed lawns make it easier for them to find worms and other food, and in winter, those feeding spots being mostly unavailable, they retreat to the woods. They’re still local, in other words; they’re just off in the woods feeding instead of on our lawns.

Lesley’s favorite birds are blue jays, and she’s at least passed on her love of them to me. Watching her videos, I’ve learned more about jays than I have from any book or live observation. Both her videos and the live “feeder cam” have reminded me that I learn best through a combination of facts and observation. Some of the things she’s learned by watching blue jays for almost 30 years are:

  • Blue jays are monogamous. They don’t necessarily always “mate for life” (Lesley has observed some nasty blue jay breakups, with spurned former mates being driven away from their territory), but they do pair up, and several of the mated pairs she’s observed have been together five or more winters.
  • Blue jays eat paint chips. It doesn’t hurt them; this, Lesley says, is an apparently instinctive attempt to get calcium in their diet, which they naturally get from eggshells. It’s fascinating to me that a bird would know to eat calcium-laden paint chips to supplement its diet.
  • Blue jays, like most birds, have different calls and sounds and body language, all of them communicative of different messages. For example, jays do a bobbing movement accompanied by what she calls “the squeaky gate” call, which is a sign of dominance or aggression: this is my limb/ my tree/ my feeder/ my mate, so go away NOW. I’d never noticed this call before, but now when I hear it, I know I’ve heard it before, and it’s unmistakable.
  • Blue jays can mimic other birds, sometimes strategically. Lesley reports that several times, she’s heard what sounds like a sharp-shinned hawk calling from the trees above her feeder, which, of course, caused the smaller birds at the feeder to scatter for cover… all except the jays. (Insert hmmmmmm…here.) She scanned the trees with her binoculars, expecting to find a hawk, but instead found that the source of the call was…a blue jay. The jay had learned to mimic a sharp-shinned hawk’s call; the threat of an assumed nearby predatory bird sent the smaller birds flying away from the feeder, which meant that the blue jay and his jay friends now had the feeder all to themselves.

Learning these things about jays and other birds, I find I can sit for hours watching the “feeder cam,” and I notice all birds’ interactions in a new way.

Cardinals seem to dominate this feeder– maybe not surprising: it’s a tray feeder filled mostly with sunflower seeds, which cardinals love. While I can easily tell a male cardinal (bright red) from a female cardinal (duller brownish red), it’s impossible for me to distinguish between different males or females (even with 1080px streaming video, there’s only so much detail you can discern). However, the birds’ behavior tells me that there are, indeed, different cardinal groups and pairings. There are males who sit alone at the feeder, cracking open and eating sunflower seeds one at a time. (They’re not swallowing them and storing them in their crops for later, like some bigger birds do. I once watched a jay at this feeder pack 37 shelled peanuts and uncracked sunflower seeds into his crop before taking one last peanut in his beak and flying off!) At least one of these solitary cardinals chases off other males who attempt to come down and share the feeder. There are also (apparently) mated pairs who come down, and, again, when another cardinal tries to come in and partake, one of the perched birds chases the other cardinal off, sometimes before it can even land. There is also at least one pair of male cardinals who come in to feed together, sometimes with a lone female. Are these family or siblings from a previous year?

Watching these videos has not only rekindled my interest in birding, but has made me place “living in or near the woods, where I can observe birds in their natural habitats and also have a back yard bird feeder” at the top of my list of “criteria for next home.”

Metanoia is my biweekly print-only ‘zine, usually two, sometimes four, pages.

To receive the latest issue of it, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Max Shenk, PO Box 1184, White River Junction, VT 05001 OR order a copy/subscription online at my Selz store: https://maxshenkwrites.selz.com/

“The Twins Turn 21” – new ebook collection of adult comics

The first e-book of my TWINS comics is now available from my Selz store!

The Twins Turn 21 is a 61-page collection of full-color uncensored adult comics, some of them published originally in tamer black and white versions in my ‘zine Metanoia, and some of them never before published.

Click here to see some sample comics!

For more on this collection and to order a copy, click here: https://maxshenkwrites.selz.com/item/the-twins-turn-21-pdf-ebook-collection-of-comics-by-max-harrick-shenk

How much SOUL do you need??

This article originally appeared in issue # 16 of my print only ‘zine Metanoia

The Beatles’ album Rubber Soul recently celebrated its 55th anniversary. Or should that be Rubber Souls: since its release in December 1965, there have always been two different versions ofthe album. The covers were identical, but the UK version contained fourteen tracks. That album was released worldwide…

…except in North America. Capitol Records, the group’s US label, habitually trimmed their fourteen-track UK LPs to twelve tracks (sometimes eleven!), and then further reshuffled the contents to make space for the UK singles (which were customarily not included on UK LPs). Reportedly, Capitol exec Dave Dexter wanted the US Rubber Soul to have more of a “folk music” feel than the UK version, so he snipped four “rock” songs from the UK track listing– “Drive My Car,” “What Goes On,” “If I Needed Someone,” and “Nowhere Man”– and replaced them with two “acoustic” songs– “I’ve Just Seen A Face” and “It’s Only Love” –cut from the earlier UK Help! album (which, in the US, was a soundtrack LP with seven Beatles tunes and five non-Beatles instrumental tracks).

The result was that, even though the two Rubber Souls shared ten common tracks, the US edition had a warmer feel than its UK counterpart, with acoustic instruments dominating the songs. Beatles fans are divided on which Rubber Soul they prefer, but many of them own a copy of both. I used to own both, and while the UK version has grown on me, I grew up with the US version, and that’s still the one that I prefer. As a Facebook friend of mine said, “If it doesn’t open with ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face,’ it’s not Rubber Soul.”

However, the Rubber Soul variations don’t end with the track lineups. Up until 1968, pop albums were issued for both stereo and mono phonographs. The Beatles directly supervised their mono mixes, leaving the EMI engineers to create stereo mixes based on those mono versions. This means that– guess what?– many Beatles collectors have not just two, but four different Rubber Souls: both UK and US releases, in both mono and stereo.

Right now I don’t have any vinyl copies of either edition, and so, spurred by this anniversary, I went to eBay to see if I could score a cheap copy of my favorite Rubber Soul: a US mono pressing. I bid on a copy…

…but then I found myself second-guessing. Buying a vinyl copy of an album I owned on CD and in digital form might seem excessive, if not obsessive, to many people.

Why did I NEED to not only have a vinyl copy, but that specific vinyl copy?

Then I saw this picture on Facebook, posted by a collector in a Beatles group.

These records are said collector’s FIFTEEN copies of the US Rubber Soul. From the top left, he has the original east-and west-coast pressings in both mono and stereo; then a late-‘60s stereo disc (the label almost identical to original issues save for some wording in the manufacturing disclaimer); next, a late ‘60s stereo disc with Capitol’s new label design; then a record club release, the 1973 Apple Records reissue, and, finally, three late 70s and early 80s reissues.

Oh… and, in the lower right corner, for good measure, in addition to those eleven vinyl pressings, he also has the 8-track and cassette releases, as well as two CD editions.

(No, I don’t know where his reel-to-reel tape went.)

The thing that might be astounding (if not confounding) to a non-collector is that musically, most of these eleven Rubber Souls are as identical as they appear! Two of them are mono mixes, while one of the early stereo pressings was a unique “east coast mix” that was never reissued. (Remember my distinction between “east coast” and “west coast” pressings? This was one of the few times that the pressing plant location equated to a musical variation.)

That having been said, the remaining eight albums are just musically identical reissues of the same twelve-track stereo album. Yes, granted: earlier pressings of these discs sound better than later pressings, but later pressings were made in smaller quantities, so, therefore, they’re technically “rarer” and perhaps more “collectible”…

…and as my character Margo might type at this point, “do you even care about any of this?”

I can’t sit here and type that I don’t indulge this sort of obsessiveness in my own way. Within slightly-more-than-arm’s length of my desk sits a crateful of Beatles 45s containing multiple copies of records which appear to be “the same” but are slightly different from each other in some way. I have four different US copies of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” that differ only cosmetically (mainly label variations), but then I also have two different pressings of “For You Blue” that look identical but differ musically; same with “I Feel Fine” and “I’ll Cry Instead” and “Love Me Do” and “Misery” and a bunch of other tunes.

When I lost my 2000+ disc record collection a few years back, I told myself that I now had the fun of acquiring those discs all over again if I wanted to. Label variations, stereo or mono mixes, album or single versions, country of origin, picture sleeves… sussing out these kinds of variations is part of the fun of collecting anything.

So even though I’m kind of mocking this collector’s bring-n-brag picture of his Rubber Soul library, in a way, it’s surprising that I don’t have even one vinyl copy of Rubber Soul.

I don’t think I want or need eleven, but at least that gives me a benchmark.

Whether that’s a benchmark of completeness or of obsessiveness is another question.

* * * * *

Metanoia is my biweekly print-only ‘zine, usually two, sometimes four, pages.

To receive the latest issue of it, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Max Shenk, PO Box 1184, White River Junction, VT 05001 OR order a copy/subscription online at my Selz store: https://maxshenkwrites.selz.com/

Rule One: Be Ted. Rule Two: Why aren’t you Ted?

Ted Williams c. 1971 as manager of the Washington Senators (from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)

A friend of mine said that Ted Williams was an impatient disaster as a hitting coach because his unspoken first rule of hitting seemed to be:

1 – Have the eyesight and reflexes of Ted Williams.

This is how I feel reading the advice of a lot of METAPHYSICAL LIFE COACHES lately. I get where they’re coming from: we discover this teaching, it’s deep and lifechanging, and we want everyone to get it and improve their lives and be happy (and, yeah, perhaps benefit ourselves in some way too).

That’s cool, but we need to remember that if a player isn’t batting .400 right out of the gate, maybe it’s just because he’s not Ted Williams. Yet.

Maybe the words of my Goddard College MFA creative writing advisor Nicky Morris will be helpful, too:

“I find that when I really want to learn something, the best way to do it is to teach a class about it.”

TWINS comic caption contest!

I always include an original TWINS comic in each issue of my print-only ‘zine METANOIA, featuring my character Christy and her “evil twin sister” Rebecca…

…but after twenty issues, I’ve hit a caption dry spell!! HELP!

WRITE A CAPTION FOR THIS COMIC and submit it via email to maxshenkwrites@gmail.com
Deadline for online entries – March 15, 2021

All entries will be published in issue 22, and the winning entrant will receive a signed 5×7 color print of the comic with their caption!

The Twins in color

In each issue of my ‘zine Metanoia, I include a comic featuring The Twins: Christy, based on the character in my books and stories, and Rebecca, her “evil twin sister.” Maybe someday I’ll do a post about how these characters evolved, how I create the comics, etc. In the meantime, since the Twins comics in Metanoia are, by necessity, tiny, censored greyscale reductions of the originals, I wanted to present, in full uncensored color, a few-times-three of the Twins comics that have appeared in Metanoia.

UPDATE (15 April 2021) – The first TWINS ebook comic collection is now available! Click here for more info or to order a copy!

Please note that these are adult-themed comics with cartoon nudity and sexual humor. And that’s as close to a trigger warning as you will ever see from me about my work.

Enjoy!

Click on the thumbnails to bring up the full-sized versions of the comics.