Wednesday, September 6, 2023

 Post #87  September 6, 2023

Quote for the Day: "The story of how the Upper Peninsula finally became a part of Michigan must have made the angels weep. And doubtless also giggle." John Voelker in the Forward to They Left Their Mark by John S. But. 1985.


Limpy's Adult Lexicon: Raw, Politically Incorrect, Improper & Unexpurgated, As Overheard & Noodled By Joseph Heywood

Fans of Heywood's Woods Cop Mysteries might be initially disappointment when they learn this is not another installment in the author's very popular series. For readers who are not familiar with the author his eleven books in the afore mentioned series follows the adventures and work of Grady Service an Upper Peninsula Conservation Officer. While writing the first book in the series Heywood reports that Limpy Allerdyce, a wayward spirit, habitual poacher and a  Yooper to his ghostly marrow, took up residence in Heywood's literary subconscious. Second only to Grady, Limpy not only became the most popular character in the series but inserted himself  in nearly every one of Heywood's Woods Cop mysteries. And now, other than a fine introductory essay by Heywood entitled "Words from the Word Fiddler" and the last two brief chapters this is, as the title suggests, Limpy's book.

The first chapter is a very good essay on language and words. Heywood explains and demonstrates on how languages are constantly evolving through the invention and use of words, the comingling of languages, and the rise and fall of dialects. Heywood admits he has long been fascinated by Yooper lingo and has been collecting and recording Yooperisms since 1958 and has found that there are several distinct Yooper dialects. He heard and recorded lots of Yooper lingo by living in the U.P. and riding shotgun over the years with numerous Michigan Conservation Officers when researching his books. Heywood is so taken with the lingo he even admits to inventing a few new Yooper words. 

Part II is a compiled list of "Limpy's Thirty Rules for Wannabe Violators." "Rule 17: If womyn gots gun in hand an' wants talk, youse best stop an' listen." The majority of the book, close to 200 pages, is devoted to "Limpyspeak/YouperSpeak (Spokenabulary)." It is the most extensive Youper dictionary I've ever run across and Heywood prefaces it with a guide to some of the peculiarities of the lingo such as "older Yooper speakers don't distinguish singular from plural." I find Youperspeak clever, inventive, imaginative, uniquely descriptive and very much a part of life and living in the U.P. Oh, and I forgot funny.  Such as "go Twinkie" which translate as "go postal, wig out, run amok." I can't resist, two more: "gourmaggot = gourmet" and "hugamanganamus = humongous." 

Memorable quotes from poachers who were caught violating game laws and conservation officer jargon make up the last to sections. The entire book is a delight. Funny, playful, an example of inspired use of language, a window into Yooper culture, and an entertaining book to dip into over and over again on nights you are getting tired of waiting for the next Woods Cop mystery to be published. I'm left with one question. Does Limpy Allerdice get a share of the royalties?

Limpy's Adult Lexicon: Raw, Politically Incorrect, Improper & Unexpurgated, As Overheard & Noodled By Joseph Heywood. Lyons Press, 2023, 246p., $27.95.

The Great Seney Fire: A History of the Walsh Ditch Fire of 1976 by Gregory M. Lusk

The 1976 Seney Fire was the largest, longest, and most costly Michigan fire since 1908 and was in many respects unique. The author was the Assistant Fire Boss of the Seney Fire and after his retirement he brought out all his carefully saved notes, reports, clippings, maps, and data to write this history of the fire. The author is exceeding thorough and at times the book reads more like a report than a narrative history. Due to the author's style the book may sometimes lack narrative drama and this reader got a little bogged down in trying to understand Fire Behavior Indexes, Fuel Moisture Codes, Duff Moisture Code (DMC), Buildup Index (BUI), and others. And yet I found the book fascinating.

The author reviews the geology that made Seney unique and led to a host of factors that made the fire so hard to fight. Seney is an area of bogs, swamps, and marshes, marked by numerous sandy knolls or ridges covered by pines. The U.P. suffered a severe drought the summer of 1976 and the various wetlands pretty much dried up. A lightening strike set marsh grass burning and before long the ground was literary on fire. A fire crew from California could hardly believe it when a local fire fighter took a mass of organic dirt from 8-feet deep. He squeezed a few drops of water from it and then broke up the clod and blew on it. To the astonishment of the California firefighters it started to smoke and then produced a flame. It was an example of how the fire traveled underground, passed below control lines and then resurfaced and spread above ground.

The fire burned for two months, covered 72,000 acres or 112 square miles, and was fought by fire fighting crews from 20 states. The book is chocked full of maps, photographs, charts and filled with fascinating details. The final chapter describes the new methods and equipment for fighting fires from computer modeling to drones, and better communications. 

Sadly, there is more than a little irony in the last sentence of the above paragraph. This summer millions of acres of Canada are burning and I can smell and even taste the smoke here in southern Michigan. The Canadian fires forced the evacuation of tens of thousands while the horrific Maui fire has claimed victims that will reach unimaginable numbers. Those tragic events and the disastrous fires in Europe gave this book a profound immediacy. 

The Great Seney Fire: A History of the Walsh Ditch Fire of 1976 by Gregory M. Lusk. Snowsnake Press, 2023, 230p., $23.99.

The Blue Fame by Nathan Shore.

In this fast paced thriller attorney Ben Hirsh has been disbarred, his wife has divorced him, he has a week left on the lease of his Lansing apartment, and no hopes of getting a job. All are self inflicted wounds. His assets total a few bucks, a Toyota pickup, his father's Smith and Wesson handgun, and a rundown uninhabited family house in Manistique.

Then out of the blue Kyle, an old friend and the Assistant Prosecutor in Escanaba, calls and offers Ben a job. Sort of. Kyle is obsessed with taking down two brothers who are habitual criminals and more dangerous than a cornered cobra. The youngest brother even pistol whipped a cop and because their sister married money and a political heavy weight the charges were dropped. Kyle wants Ben to return to his home in the U.P. and work off the books as his confidential informant and dig up irrefutable evidence of the brothers' crimes. Kyle will find him a job in the private sector which turns out to be walking natural gas lines looking for leaks.

After Ben has a run-in with one of the brothers he realizes he is in way over his head. Ben wants out but Kyle lays it on thick about helping clean up his childhood community and working for the public good. Ben reluctantly agrees and quickly regrets it. This is a tightly written thriller that builds to a riveting climax. The compelling plot is played out against a great portrait of the Escanaba Manistique area and the beautiful Garden Peninsula and its off-shore islands. This is a very good book by a first time author who lives in southern Arizona and writes of the Upper Peninsula like he has lived there all his life. If I was just another seedy patron of Lily's Tavern  (fictional I hope) I'd tell Shore; "Pour me another and make sure it's set in the U.P.

The Blue Fame by Nathan Shore. Barque Point Press, 2022, 319p., $14.99 pb, $26.99.

High on the Vine: Featuring Yooper Entrepreneurs, Tami & Evi Maki (Cousins, Thrice Removed) by Terri Martin

Tami and Evi, as their last names might suggest, married brothers they met at a wedding.  Whether the romantic glow cast by the nuptials blinded the cousins' to character flaws in the their husbands to be is an open question. The answers seems to depend on what some Yooper's (men) rate as sterling character attributes and others (namely women) find less than desirable in a mate. The cousins meet regularly for tea and one of the main topics of discussion is criticizing their husbands' many faults. Tami holds the opinion that God has a sense of humor and when he made man and saw how flawed Adam was he, "sought to salvage the human race through the creation of woman."

It should be noted the tea always takes place in Tami's house in her parlor, which at any other time is called the living room, and instead of sipping tea they a tap a box of wine with an easy pour spout. The other topic of conversation is thinking up a good business idea that will make them wealthy. Rustic camping for women failed and nudity foiled the next idea. But at every tea the subject of (BEEP) the Business Enhancement Entrepreneurial Plan is discussed. The author achieves inspired lunacy when the ladies become partners with a group of monks. The Benevolent Brotherhood of Sylvan Monks created a God awful wine. Tami and Evi agree to promote and sell what is commonly called "Monk Juice" and tastes like "pond scum." There are high hopes for two new varieties soon to be on the market Pinot Grisly and White Infidel. 

This book is an accumulation of stories featuring Tami and Evi that previously appeared in the UP Magazine. Readers should rejoice that all the stories now appear in one book and follow the sisters-in-law from considering raising fish in a swimming pool to vacationing on a beach with a Pina Colada in hand and the Atlantic Ocean spread before them. The book is filled with grins, giggles, and out-loud laughter. And as a special bonus the book's last page contains Tami's Peanut Butter Pinot Creamy Delight Fudge that includes 6 - 9 ounces of Pinot Noir. As Evi might say, "Bone a the peat!"

High on the Vine: Featuring Yooper Entrepreneurs Tami & Evi Maki (Cousins, Thrice Removed) by Terri Martin, Gnarly Woods Publication, 2022, 151p., $17.95.

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