Estonian postage stamp depicting a folk costume from Setu region.

Tallinna Tehnikum (now Tallinn University of Technology) building, St. Canute’s Guildhall.

Tallinn University of Technology (TUT) today.

Judy Foglesong (aka Judy Kangilaski) and her first husband Edward R.  We have tried to contact him, and he is welcome to tell his side.

Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth is one of the growing number of books about the Amish.

During her teen years, Temple Grandin suffered from almost unbearable panic attacks and feared she was going mad. She found that the cattle chute soothed her and credits it with saving her life. She later designed her own ‘squeeze machine.”

Photo: Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery

Commentary - Remembering Larry’s Part 6: Judy

In the 1960s, Judith Dee Foglesong was a familiar sight at Larry’s bar, Columbus, Ohio and part of Mr. T’s clique [see July 2009 Blog]. She was born in Bryan, Ohio, one of four children. A former high school classmate recalls Judy as a majorette with a volatile temper whose main interest was the drama club. Judy had parts in school plays and talked about becoming a Hollywood star.  After graduation the classmate ran into her now and then. One time, Judy mentioned an older guy with children and the next time a guy who was divorced, separated, or breaking up with a significant other - the classmate no longer recalls if those two were the same or different guys or if either was Edward who became the love of her life. When they met for the last time in the spring of 1960, Judy gushed about marrying her dream guy Edward, claiming he had connections in the entertainment world, had studied acting, done TV and modeling, and was on track to break into show business. The couple had appeared together in college plays and planned to do summer stock after their wedding and then major in theater/speech in college. Judy made passing references to her father’s health problems and something about changes involving her younger sister but her focus was on Edward.


Between 1961 and 1962, Judy started hanging out at Larry’s. Nobody recalls if she stumbled upon the place or if Mr. T brought her there. Perhaps she had enrolled at The Ohio State University and decided to drop in. She was divorced or in the process of getting a divorce and filled with bitterness toward Edward. She sobbed how he had betrayed her and ruined her life and said terrible things about him. Some of the patrons felt sorry for Judy while others took her for a drama queen. She spent every evening at Larry’s, usually staying until the bar closed. After several beers, she became boisterous and would periodically shriek. Unlike Mr. T who had been a regular at Larry’s for years prior to her showing up, she didn’t pester others.


Soon she rarely interacted with anyone outside of her clique, and Mr. T seemed to have her under his control. What she saw in him is anybody’s guess. He was balding and unattractive but was known for his mind games. She was viewed as Mr. T’s mistress, somebody who was not a “one-man woman,” and occasionally racy rumors circled about their relationship. After a while, Mr. T’s beautiful wife and his wealthy father discovered the affair. When the father threatened to cut him off financially, Mr. T allegedly passed the single mother on to Big Mike, who later married her - some speculated it was a favor to Mr. T. Around 14 years after high school, she graduated from OSU with a degree in textiles and settled with her two daughters and hubby in California. The drama in her life continued [to be featured in a future blog] and would include two more divorces and toxic relationships with ex-cons, culminating in her execution style murder in 1991 in Port Orford, Oregon. It’s now a cold case.


At Bookstores

  1. Dead Wrong: Straight Facts on the Country’s Most Controversial Cover-Ups by writer/actor  Richard Belzer, who plays John Munch on Law & Order SVU, and investigative reporter David Wayne (Skyhorse Publishing). Its dust jacket declares: “Not only is ‘Big Brother’ watching you, but he’s doing it through the scope of a sniper rifle.” Readers are left with a slew of insights and questions, among them:

--President Lyndon B. Johnson comes across as a sociopath. Billie Sol Estes’s lawyer stated that his client claimed to have direct knowledge and was willing to testify that LBJ ordered the deaths of Henry Marshall, George Krutelik, Harold Orr, Coleman Wade, Josefa Johnson, John Kinser, and President John F. Kennedy.

--Marylyn Monroe’s death was a homicide. After the authors consider various scenarios and note that Robert Kennedy apparently was in town at the  time and left quickly after her death, they conclude that her death most likely was a Mafia hit.

--Vincent Foster’s death could not have been a suicide. The authors’ meticulous analysis is bad news for Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Dead Wrong, which also delves into the deaths of JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Rev. Martin Luther King, has elicited buzz/controversy along with the best sellers Obama’s America by Dinesh D’Souza (Regnery) and No Easy Day by Mark Owen with Kevin Maurer (Dutton).

  1. Spilled Blood by popular, award winning novelist Brian Freeman (Silver Oak) is his seventh psychological thriller.

  2. 27 Views of Durham: The Bull City in Prose & Poetry, introduction by Steve Schewel (Eno Publishers), the forth anthology in Eno’s award winning 27 Views series, contains fiction and nonfiction by writers who call Durham, North Carolina home.

  3. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (Henry Holt & Co.) emerged on best-seller on several lists. September was a good month for O’Reilly. His Killing Lincoln with Martin Dugard still appeared on best seller lists and his Lincoln’s Last Days with Dwight Jon Zimmerman for ages 10 & up topped children’s lists.

  4. Dubs Runs for President by Dick Morris (former advisor to President Bill Clinton) and Eileen McCann, illustrated by Clayton Liotta (Velocity Press), ages 4-8, is a timely subject during this election year.


Winners and Losers

Winners

  1. Air Force Captain Jennifer Curtis. For her heroic actions and quick thinking in saving the lives of six soldiers in Afghanistan in 2011, she received the Bronze Star and the Air Force Combat Medal.

  2. Swimmer Missy Franklin, 17, Colorado. She won five medals (four of them gold) and set a world record at the London Olympics. Only one athlete, Mark Phelps with six, had more medals than Franklin. She turned down endorsement offers worth millions to remain eligible for  college swim team. It’s great to encounter an athlete for whom money is not the top priority.

  3. Emily Bicknese, 18, Elgin, Iowa. She visits nursing homes to brighten the lives of the residents and developed the “Grandma, will you read to me?” program. She records the residents a they read stories aloud, then edits and burns the recordings on CDs, which she mails with the books to orphanages around the world.

  4. Farmers markets. In the 1950s, Columbus, Ohio had an amazing farmer’s market. Grocery chains and others with vested interest lobbied to have it demolished, part of a nationwide trend to get rid of these markets in the name of “urban renewal.” For years, the area remained a littered, weed covered empty lot. Over the past 18 years, however, farmers markets have been making a comeback. According to USAD, their numbers saw a 9.6% growth just this past year.


Losers

  1. MSNBC was caught showing a doctored clip from a Romney-Ryan rally in Dayton, Ohio. Stupid of them to believe they could get away with such blatant dishonesty.

  2. U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf, 66, Massachusetts. When brutal wife killer Robert Kosilek (aka Michelle Lynne Kosilek) decided he wanted so-called “sex reassignment” operations costing up to $50,000 (perhaps hoping to serve his life sentence in a cushier women’s prison), this looney judge decided that not only should he get these body modifications but that taxpayers should pay for them and for all his legal fees.

  3. Verenice Gutierrez, principal of Harvey Scott K-8 School, Oregon. She indicated in an interview that references to a peanut butter sandwiches are racist. If this and other babblings attributed to her by the media are accurate, then she should be removed from her position.

  4. Adylbek Kozubaev, 22, citizen of Kyrgyzstan, with no known address in the U.S. Reportedly in a rage over the price of a cart from which he wanted to sell scarves, he made two bomb threats to a shopping mall. The FBI arrested him in the Chicago area. Presumably he faces jail and deportation.

Shuriks Picks, October 2012.

(November Picks follow below)

 

Fiction

The Dark of the Sun by Wilbur Smith, St. Martin’s, $7.99

             

Set in the turbulent Congo in the early 1960s, this action-packed adventure novel follows a motley group of mercenaries hired to retrieve a cache of diamonds, the characters reminiscent of real-life mercenaries Siegfried Müller and “Mad Mike” Hoare. Also titled The Train from Katanga, the novel has been reissued by several publishers since first published in 1965. It was made into the movie The Mercenaries starring Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux and Jim Brown and later renamed. Critics say the film bears litle resemblance to the novel.

 

Wilbur Smith was born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and resides in London. He has published over 30 novels, his latest Those In Peril (2011), with seven of them made into films or miniseries. He credits authors Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck with influencing his writing.


Nonfiction

Almost Amish: A Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth, Tyndale House Publishers, $14.99


Technology has taken over too much of our lives, Nancy Sleeth states, and the trend is away from human contact. She quotes studies revealing that focus on Internet/video games often results in depression, reduction in social skills, and drop in grades for students. Mark Helprin observes, “Our national happiness peaked in the 1950s. We own more, but we enjoy it less.” Increasingly people are finding something missing in their lives and thus many are drawn to a simpler life-style, which partly explains the growing interest in the Amish.

 

Sleeth recommends that we include select aspects of the Amish society into our lives such as make family meals a priority; support local businesses; avoid clutter in the home; take loving care of aging parents, which to the Amish is a joy, not a burden - and they are spared worry over their own fate, knowing their children will do likewise; eat healthier foods (only 4% of the Amish are obese as opposed to 33% of the American mainstream population); and appreciate nature. Having grown up in a Jewish home that commemorated special occasions by planting a tree in Israel, she urges we copy this tradition. She writes, “If we love the creator, we should also love his creation.”


Almost Amish explains what appear to be contradictions in the Amish society and why this subculture should be allowed to maintain their ways. Although the book is oriented to Evangelical Christians, around 90% is also applicable to those of other faiths. Sleeth makes a compelling case for incorporating Amish ways into our lives in order to reduce stress and make us happier. She concludes that study of the Amish reveals “we can live in the world without conforming to its ways - and enjoy ourselves in the process.”


Children’s/YA

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $17.99, ages 9 & up

    

Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and the only person in the world both honored by PETA and inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. She revolutionized the livestock industry with her designs of cruelty-free facilities, which have led to more humane treatment of farm animals and to bigger profits for farmers. In 2010, Time magazine listed her as one of its “100 Most Influential People in the World.” She has made various lists of notable/most admired women and won awards for her designs, books, and humanitarian work. She also has autism.


Children with autism face many challenges, one of them bullying. According to a study by Paul Sterzing released in September, 46% of children with an autism spectrum disorder had been bullied as compared to 11% for other teens. When Grandin bullied at one of her schools, her mother had the resources to transfer her to a special private school. As an adult, Grandin encountered discrimination, vandalism, and sabotage of her work. These however, would pale in comparison to the shock she suffered from visiting Spencer Foods Plant in Spencer, Iowa where animal abuse and hiring of illegal aliens eventually led to a crackdown. Afterward, she had nightmares.


Sy Montgomery notes that Grandin’s most important innovations in design were accomplished not in spite but because of her autism - people with autism can have amazing talents. Grandin thinks visually, the same way animals do, and this gives her the ability, a sort of 6th sense, to understand animals, “one of the gifts of autism.” Although the autistic differ significantly, they share some common traits. They feel assaulted by their sensory systems. Florescent lights drive them crazy. They are supersensitive to smells that others are unable to discern. Ordinary sounds can be painful - the ringing of the school bell hurt Grandin “like a dentist drill hitting a nerve.” Even the smartest ones are socially delayed, have trouble reading people’s faces, and the emotions of an average person remain a mystery to them.


Grandin, now in her mid-sixties and living alone, remains active on behalf of farm animals and autistic people and provides in this book advice to kids on the spectrum. Many of her symptoms are gone, but she is still autistic. Her story illustrates that people with autism can lead meaningful lives and make significant contributions. Montgomery’s excellent presentation provides for a better understanding and acceptance of those afflicted with it.

    

Specialty/Small Press

Unbridled Books was established in 2003 and focuses on literary fiction. Its authors have won numerous awards. It published in 2010 Peter Geye’s acclaimed debut novel Safe from the Sea and this October his second novel The Lighthouse Road, which is set in Northern Minnesota in the 1890s and has received impressive advance praises from reviewers.

    

Author submissions: They accept only email queries for fiction and request that the first 30-50 pages be included in the email.


Top 10 Best Thought-Provoking/Controversial Documentaries, 2000-2012

(chronological order, nonscientific poll)

 

  1. *2016: Obama’s America (Dinesh D’Souza, 2012)

  2. *They Come to America (Dennis Michael Lynch, 2012)

*Dreams from My Real Father (Joel Gilbert, 2012)

*The Amish (David Belton, 2012)

*The Last Mountain (Bill Haney, 2011)

*Bobby Fischer Against the World (Liz Garbus, 2011)

*The Cove (Louie Psihoyos, 2009)

*An Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore, 2006)

*Farenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore, 2004)

*World in the Balance: The Population Paradox (Sarah Holt & Jackie Mow, 2004)

Site content ©  2012

  contact usmailto:shuriks2@aol.com?subject=email%20subject
 archives../../../Archive.html
FAQ../../../Blog.html

The November 2012 blog was eliminated for unknown reasons. Below is a shortened version.

49. Hilja Ostra

My sister Johanna introduced me to Hilja Ostra, a friend of hers from Tallinn’s first girls’ gymnasium. [established in 1874]. Hilja attended Tartu University, planning to become a physician. She grew up on a farm in Vaste-Kuuste parish and had a sister Alma, who was about 15 years older than she, and a half-sister Veronika. Alma was famous or infamous, depending on ones politics, and the center of several scandals.


I later read that Alma became involved with the leftist Social Democrat party and with feminist causes while still in her early teens. She was expelled from the gymnasium in 1905 because of her radical activism and didn’t complete it until four years later. There also was another scandal, which might have involved questions regarding her morals. Her activism drew the attention of the Tsarist police. For a while, she eluded them but was eventually caught and sent to Siberia. She escaped from Siberia, something that was accomplished much easier during the Tsarist times than later under the Bolsheviks. Upon returning to Estonia, she enrolled in college. After her brief marriage to Bolshevik revolutionary Jaan Anvelt ended in divorce, she married Aleksander Oinas in 1914, Oinas had been arrested by the Tsarist police in 1906 for revolutionary agitation. During Estonian independence, he  emerged as an influential politician and member of the Social Democrat party, and his resume includes serving as Interior Minister. Prior to my return from Russia, he and Alma were accused of aiding the communist Victor Kingissepp evade the authorities, and the scandal cost him his position. Eventually, he would revive his political career, and the couple remained close to Augut Rei. Hilja was far more conventional than her sister, and if she shared Alma’s radical views, I don’t recall her promoting them.


Johanna, Oskar, and I spent all holidays with Mom at Vatsla and invited friends to join us. During Christmas, Easter, and the Pentecost, Hilja would come to Tallinn and then also stay at Vatsla. Each time she brought along her friend Selma Oinas, who was the sister of her brother-in-law Aleksander, and they stayed usually for two to three days. I recall Selma as blond and friendly who had an interest in Art Deco and we discussed Endla Theater in Pärnu. Since Hilja visted us often, rumors spread in Vatsla that she was my girlfriend and that we planned to marry.

Shuriks Picks, November 2012.

 

Fiction

Beauty to Die For: A Spa Mystery by  Kim Alexis & Mindy Starns Clark, P&H Publishing Group, $14.99


Of the contemporary cozies & chick lit novels we received during the past few months, Beauty to Die For was the most interesting. The protagonist is former supermodel Juliette Taylor, who is the co-owner of a company marketing an upscale skin care line. While leading a Christian faith-based  retreat at a luxury spa, she encounters Marcus Stone, a FBI consultant she met 25 years earlier.  While rekindling their romance, they become embroiled with the shadowy members of the counterfeit products trade that has links to terrorists and organized crime and has infiltrated her company.  When the supermodel Raven is murdered at the spa, Juliette and Marcus uncover her secret and end up enticed into a deadly trap. This chick lit mystery is an enjoyable read with an exciting ending.


Nonfiction

Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mother by Pattie Mallette with A.J. Gregory, Revelle, $21.99


Pattie Mallette grew up in Canada with an emotionally absent mother and felt unloved. When she was two, her parents divorced, and it left long-lasting pain. Since age three, she, she was molested in her own home for years, causing shame, fear, and confusion for the little girl. Later, when she reported a molester, she wasn’t believed. The bright spots in her sad childhood were the singing and acting contests where she won numerous trophies.


During her teens, she used drugs, shoplifted, and started a fire. Such acting out is common among abused children as they struggle to numb the pain. When she fell in love with the wrong guy, Jeremy Bieber, it created further turmoil. After an attempted suicide, she was placed in a psych ward where she had a spiritual awakening.


Upon her release, her on-again, off-again relationship with Jeremy continue. When she became pregnant, he rejected her, and she had no place to go except to the Salvation Army shelter. After giving birth to Justin, she and Jeremy planned to marry. Then Jeremy cheated on her in such a cruel way as to force her to cancel the wedding . This might have been his plan all along. It wasn’t easy to raise Justin by herself as she battled depression and anxiety. Yet she did an excellent job.


Pattie deserves credit for Justin becoming a superstar. She signed him up for music lessons and entered him in contests. When he was six, he started buskin in Toronto. A creative and media savvy person, she turned him into a YouTube sensation that led to his discovery.


This inspirational read contains numerous life lessons, especially for at risk young women: A stable family is essential. Your mistakes have consequences. Victim mentality is for losers. To heal, you need to face the truth, no matter how unpleasant. Forgiveness is good for you. You can turn your life around. Religion can play a significant role in achieving a happy life. Pattie concludes: “If God can help me find me way up, I promise, He can do the same for you.”


Children’s/YA

George Bellows: Painter with a Punch by Robert Burleigh, Abrams Books, $18.95, ages 8 & up


Artist George Bellows (1882-1825) grew up in Columbus, Ohio. At age 22, he chose a career in art, quit college, and moved to New York. While struggling to establish himself, he played semi-pro baseball to support his family. His best known  works focus on the gritty side of life. He died at age 42 from appendicitis.


Specialty/Small Press of the Month

Night Shade Press was founded in 1997 and publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels. Its recent titles include the acclaimed fantasy novels Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer. The publisher does not accept unagented manuscripts.

Commentary

Among October Bestsellers

  1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, movie tie-in edition), first published in 1937. The movie opens on December 14, 2012.

  2. America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert.  Regarding Pizza Hut contemplating a contest daring people to ask at a presidential debate, “Sausage or pepperoni,” Colbert quipped, “What could be more American than using our electoral process for product placement?”

  3. Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama by Ann Coulter (Sentinel) includes references to various sources of disinformation, such as the edited Rodney King tapes.

  4. Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwartzenegger (Simon & Schuster) emerged as the controversial book of the month in which Arnold brags about his affairs, including with a frumpy housekeeper. Critics wondered why he wrote this tell-all book since he doesn’t need the money and it would only embarrass his family and reveal his narcissism. Jane Velez-Mitchell asked if it could be for revenge on Maria for leaving him.

  5. Land of the Pilgrims Pride by Callista Gingrich, illustrated by Susan Arciero (Regnery Publishing), for ages 5 & up, tells of Ellis the Elephant learning about the 23 colonies.


Winners and Losers

Winners

  1. Actress Daryl Hannah, 51. She volunteered to protect Eleanor Fairchild, 78, of Texas, from eminent domain abuse by a foreign country, Canada. Hannah’s causes have included protecting mountain top removal in West Virginia.

  2. Michael Stanley (pen name for Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip) won the Barry Award for “Best Paperback Original” for Death of the Mantis (our fiction pick for April 2012).

  3. Liang Chow, 44, Iowa. He coached Shawn Johnson and Gabby Douglas and was honored with his own day, August 8, by the West Des Moines City Council. He also received the Immigrant Spirit Award and is writing his autobiography with Marc Hansen.


Losers

  1. Whoever fabricated the “mob reacting to movie trailer” as the cause for the Benghazi terrorist attack that left four Americans dead and has been labeled “the worst cover-up in American politics.”

  2. Vice President Joe Biden, 69. At his debates he behavior involved inappropriate giggling and rudeness, leading Internet comparisons to the Joker. His numerous gaffes included implying our soldiers were fighting in Iran; the 500 trillion tax cut accusation; thinking he was in Iowa when he was in Ohio; and lewd comments to Charles Woods, the father of Tyron Woods who died a hero in Benghazi.

  3. Road racing cyclist Neil Armstrong, 41. He resigned as chairman of Livestrong charity, was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from the sport for life, and his sponsors dropped him. 

Left: Selma Oinas-Kurvits in 1931. During the 1920s, she visited Shurik’s farm with Hilja Ostra.

Right: Her sister Emma Elisabet “Elo” (1890-1970) who married author Friedebert Tuglas.

Center:  Aleksander Oinas (1887-1942), brother of Selma and Elo. In spite of his leftist politics and imprisonment by the Tsarist regime, the Bolsheviks arrested him in 1941 and sentenced him to death. He died in Ussollag prison camp in Solikamski, Russia prior to execution date.

Left: Alma Oinas (1886-1960), older sister of Hilja Ostra, was sent to the gulag for five years, and her eldest daughter 21, was also sent there.

Right: Revolutionary Jaan Anvelt (1884-1937)

In her memoir,Nowhere but Up, Pattie Mallette describes Justin Bieber a a charismatic and hyperactive boy, a natural leader who loved Clifford the Big Red Dog books. Later he won a regional chess tournament and junior golf tournaments. He excelled in sports, and his first choice was to become a pro hockey or soccer player. Music was his second choice.

George Bellows: An Artist in Action by Mary Sayre Haverstock, Columbus Museum of Art (Merrell Publishers) is one of several books about him.

Kim Alexis, a supermodel during the 1980s, is a grandmother and co-author with Mindy Starns Clark of the cozy Beauty to Die For.

Alphonso Mucha, edited by Agnes Husslein-Arco, Jean Louis Gaillemin, Michel Hilaire, and Christiane Lange (Prestal) presents the wide array of artistic contributions by the father of Art Nouveau who is best known for his posters.


An Alphonso Mucha exhibit of more than 230 of his works is presently at the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The exhibit remains there until end of December, 2012