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So, this page has scans of old diagrams featuring the different rifles used.

This is a history of the machine gun in 1914.

My wife and I had a nice dinner at my parents. My brother, neice, uncle, and two aunts were there too. Somehow, overseas was brought up (it always is), and my father told the age old story of being in Hungry (during the Warsaw Pact era, 1970’s) and seeing jackets for sale for “Oklagoma” University. No, that’s not a typo on my part. They manufacturers got “Oklahoma” wrong. And that’s not the only thing. Back then, with no internet, Europeans have sold merchandise for baseball teams called the “Boston Yankees” and the “New York Red Sox.” The goal, of course, was to sell something that LOOKED American to people who didn’t know any better. Typical. Here’s a two other instances of misunderstanding….

–The guy at the Poznan, Poland train station, who was decked out head to toe in blue jeans — denim hat, denim shirt, denim jacket, and denim slacks. He tried to hustle my family into letting him carry our bags for tips in hard Dollars (the Zloty’s value had fallen into the toilet). I look I come from Bronx? Um. No. This was 1991/92. Jeans were a rare commodity, and a huge “American” item in Eastern Europe, and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, I was told Jeans were a status thing. That’s why we made a point to not wear them before we got on the train.

–My father used to travel to Saudi Arabia on business during the 1990’s. London Central was one of the few boarding schools in DODDS, and families serving in Saudi Arabia often chose to board their high school age teenagers, rather than subject them to a harsh host nation / Wahabi society (This is a place where bacon, on base had to be referred to as “Breakfast Meat” — as to not subject the Saudis to the thought that pork was being eaten in their country. Never mind that this was on base, very far from Saudi eyes.) Anyhow, one Saudi man, while trying to show his cultural understanding to my father, chose to sing Disney show tunes.

There’s a joke, sort of, that I remember hearing around military bases in Europe. An American family moves into a host-nation community. For the sake ease, lets say it’s an American family moving into a neighborhood of Belgians. The new neighbors want to make the American family feel comfortable and welcome, so they invite them over for a “Barbecue.” Hot Dogs and Hamburgers are served. Yet, all the Belgians are wearing ten gallon cowboy hats, and they say the words “Fuck” and “Shit” after every sentence they say in English. Then, they begin to talk very lovingly about handguns and rifles. They even bring out the firearms and fire off a few rounds as “target practice” on some empty beer bottles. The Americans are aghast, speechless. Suddenly concerned, the Belgians say, “But we were only trying to be sensitive to your culture.”

Of course, I’m exaggerating a little to prove a point. Two people of different nationalities and cultures misunderstand each other all the time. In a way, it’s a lot easier to get into one of these misunderstanding if you’re coming from countries that are culturally related, like the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK. The misconception of a “shared” English language, leads to a bunch of faux pas. For example, it’s perfectly acceptable, in England to say to a woman, “Can I Knock You Up?” It means, “Can I come to your house in the morning and knock on your door?” not “Can I get you pregnant?” In the US, saying “I’m stuffed” after a meal means you’ve eaten too much. In England, “Stuffed” means something sexual.

The story about the Belgians, however, contains a slight cultural arrogance — it assumes that it’s the Belgians (or other nationalities) that are responsible for cultural misunderstandings with Americans. Any American living abroad has likely heard tales of American stupidity — it’s where the term “Ugly American” comes from, when describing the moronic antics of American tourists. The Defense and State Departments always warn ex-pats to not act like and “ugly AMerican,” and to blend in as much as you can. Sometimes, the desire to assimilate has strange results.

I know, because today, I’ve been a bit of an “Ugly American” by complete accident and attempted goodwill. My family has spent a lot of time in the United Kingdom — in England, and in the self-governing colony of Bermuda. So, we’ve experienced “Boxing Day,” the 26th of December. In the years since, my parents and myself do stop to wish each other “A good Boxing Day” — for my family, when we lived in Germany, it’s like how we used celebrate Nickolaustag on Dec. 6 (I would wake up to find presents stuffed into my shoes). So, “Happy Boxing Day!” we’d say to each other, not knowing exactly the history of “Boxing Day.”

So, today, I’ve been giving everybody good “Boxing Day” wishes through email and other wise. Even to a Canadian friend and fellow writer, as I sent her a copy of my book, 10$, and a contract for a poem she wrote for Death In Common. Then, I start wondering — why do the Brits and Canadians have a bank holiday on 26th? I googled and cringed at the results:

…the one thread common to all is the theme of one-way provision to those not inhabiting the same social level. As mentioned previously, equals exchanged gifts on Christmas Day or before, but lessers (be they tradespeople, employees, servants, serfs, or the generic “poor”) received their “boxes” on the day after. It is to be noted that the social superiors did not receive anything back from those they played Lord Bountiful to: a gift in return would have been seen as a presumptuous act of laying claim to equality, the very thing Boxing Day was an entrenched bastion against. Boxing Day was, after all, about preserving class lines.

So, in short, I’ve been treating everybody as if they were either my servant or of a lower social economic class, today. Yes, I’m a complete and total, grade-A .moron. I’ve already sent a quickly worded apology to that Canadian friend of mine. And this blog post is my general mea-culpa to the world

If you read The Rusty Nail, you’ll likely see, beyond occasional gardening posts, the chronicles of a certain psychotic moron from Illinois — the guy who fancies himself to be a horror writer but has no grasp on grammar, logic, or manners. I’m not going to mention his name since he likely has Google alerts set up on various variations of his name. Whenever I read reports of his actions, as well as his friends, I’m reminded of the this Katherine Ramslan article I read recently on how stalker psychology actually progresses:

  1. After initial contact, the stalker develops feelings like infatuation, and therefore places the love object on a pedestal.
  2. The stalker then begins to approach the object. It might take a while, but once contact is made, the stalker’s behavior sets him up for rejection.
  3. Rejection triggers the delusion through which the stalker projects his own feelings onto the object: She loves me, too.
  4. The stalker also develops intense anger to mask his shame, which fuels the obsessive pursuit of the object. He now wants to control through harassment or injury.
  5. The stalker must restore his narcissistic fantasy.
  6. Violence is most likely to occur when the love object is devalued, as through an imagined betrayal

The article then offers an interesting set of classifications, too.

Several stalker typologies have been developed, and according to Dr. Michael Zona and his colleagues from the University of Southern California School of Medicine, stalkers appear to come in three basic varieties, with a perverse twist on stalking that adds a fourth important category:

  1. Simple obsessional
    The most common form is male with a female with whom he was once sexually intimate.
  2. Love obsessional
    A love-obsessed stalker tends to idealize a celebrity or someone he has seen from afar and he develops an unrealistic belief that the target person will agree to a relationship.
  3. Erotomania
    Someone suffering from this more extreme obsession believes that the victim loves him or her.
  4. False victimization
    Claiming harassment and stalking when none exists, this behavior is usually carried on by people with histrionic personality disorders.

Another method of categorizing stalkers comes from the team who wrote the FBI’s Crime Classification Manual:

  1. Non-domestic stalker, who has no personal relationship with the victim
  2. Organized (based in a calculated, controlled aggression)
  3. Delusional (based in a fixation like erotomania)
  4. Domestic stalker, who has had a prior relationship with the victim and feels motivated to continue the relationship; this constitutes around 60 percent of stalkers and the aggression often culminates in violence.

Stalkers tend to be unemployed or underemployed, but are smarter than other criminals. They often have a history of failed intimate relationships. They tend to devalue their victims and to sexualize them. They also idealize certain people, minimize what they are doing to resist, project onto people motives and actions that have no basis in truth, and rationalize that the target person deserves to be harassed and violated.

Bermuda is not in the Caribbean.  But, sometimes, it shares more with Caribbean islands, culturally, then it does with the USA.  So, I do remember hearing reggae, ska, and so forth on the radio from time to time.  “Rivers of Babylon” is one song that transcends everything — written by The Melodians and covered by nearly everybody like Jimmy Cliff and, in this instance, Boney M:

Care of a Boston Globe Article

Most Bermudians who claim to share their antique cottages with ghosts simply accept them, Cann says. Of houses built a century or more ago, ”nearly all have ghost stories.” He suggests reading the locally published paperback ”Bermuda’s Favourite Haunts” (1991) by Bermudians John Cox, Mac Musson, and Joan Skinner.

The book admittedly contains only tales of what the authors call ”cheerful ghosts” as revealed in interviews with householders who have encountered them. Many ghosts seem to be little more than transparent houseguests who create cold drafts.

When I lived in Bermuda, there were a ton of things I missed out on. Since I lived close to the Naval Air Station, most of the goods my family consumed came from the naval commissary. St. David’s Island, or at least the part of it I lived on, had no convenience stores. If you needed something, you either went on base or to St. George. So, when it came to soft drinks, I most drank American. And, to be fair, most of what was in Bermuda were American products. So, anyhow, I happened into this can Barritts at a liquor store here in New Jersey. Had to try it, and I have to say, it screams GINGER!

Anyhow, here’s a history of the company.

This blog was supposed to be a scrapbook for both my family’s travels, and my explorations into history.

So, I think this blog needs to return to that exclusively. I’ve thought about it quite a bit, so thoughts on writing, reviews, and all of that stuff will go where it belongs. A blog unto itself:

My forthcoming poetry anthology just got a good pre-press blurb….

Death in Common: Poems from Unlikely Victims brings unusual depth, creativity and chillingly potent imagery to what is often referred to as “horror poetry.” The poems within this unique volume are not simply horrific, they’re genuinely lyrical and wonderfully human stories as well, and that’s not easily accomplished by any poet, liviing, dead, or somewhere in between.

–T.M. Wright, author of “Bone Soup” (Cemetery Dance, 2009) and “Blue Canoe,” a novel (PS Publications, 2009).

Thanks Terry!

… For a Black Quill Award for “Small Press Chills.”  The Black Quill is a relatively new award in the Horror Genre, and further details can be found here.