Saturday, December 27, 2008

Famous people who used to be teachers

In classical myth, Janus is pictured as looking forward and looking back, at the same time. I don't have two faces, and I don't have much respect for those who do, but I am presently looking back to ’08 and forward to ’09. Much has happened in the past few months, and there is no small amount of uncertainty about the immediate future. Since I am not going to be in the classroom for winter quarter, I’ve been thinking about what to do with my free time. That is assuming I have some free time, of course. During the hiatus, I hope to accomplish some goals which have nothing to do with my on and off career as an English instructor. Teaching can be so consuming that I don’t get as much writing and editing done as I would like. I must remember that many teachers have found time to make their mark on the world.

While many scientists, such as Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, and Issac Asimov were also professors, some teachers have achieved fame outside of the classroom. Here is an informal and no doubt incomplete list of celebrities who once made a living as a classroom teacher:

Anne Murray, one of my favorite singers, studied physical education and taught for one year prior to landing a job in television, which in turn launched her career in music. I’ve always enjoyed her songs, and I love her Christmas album.

Sting, who was formerly known as Gordon Sumner, taught for two years prior to making music his full time job.

Art Garfunkel, of Simon and Garfunkel taught at the Litchfield Preparatory School in Connecticut, during which time “Bridge Over Troubled Water” became a hit.

Andy Griffith graduated from UNC and taught at Goldsboro High School as a music teacher until 1951. He was working as a teacher when he recorded his famous “What It Was, Was Football” monologue, which was his first claim to fame.

Roberta Flack taught English in Maryland for several years prior to making music her career.

And, my all time favorite former English teacher is novelist Stephen King. He got a contract for Carrie, a yarn based on his observations of teenagers, and he has published many best sellers.

My novels have not yet brought me much fame, but perhaps I can dream a bit during the daytime, knowing that fame has sometimes followed an education career.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A New Local Vendor for my Books

This is a brief post about a bookstore which is selling my titles, The Gift Horse and Trinity on Tylos. I've been in several times as a customer, and this store has a good selection of titles, a large audio book collection, and super organization.

Readers who visit The Bookstand of Northeast Georgia will find some entertaining reads at great prices. This spacious store is located in what locals call "Banks Crossing" and has ample parking. The proprietor, Ronda Sailors, also has books by other local authors, so I encourage book lovers and those shopping for book lovers to stop in and pick up a great present.

If you are new to Pam's Pages there are links to my publishers as well as to each book's listing on, so you can check these out before you make your purchase.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Where’s the Christmas?

When daughter was about three years old, I took her each Wednesday evening to sing in the “Winkie Bear Choir.” This was our girl talk time, and I enjoyed discussing the moon and the stars with her, for these wonders are more significant to adults who gaze, even for a moment, through childlike eyes. In early December, our small town hung candles and poinsettias, crafted from wire, colored tinsel, and bright lights, from the light poles along the main streets. Daughter and I enjoyed these simple decorations as we drove to and from the church.

As it always does, dark and cold January followed, and we continued our customary trek through Jefferson, but daughter was most disappointed. I remember her small voice, coming from the car seat strapped into my 88 Oldsmobile, “Where is the Christmas, Mama?” Although I tried to explain that the magical time comes only once a year, she had not lived long enough to remember the last one, and the next one was too far off for her young mind to imagine.

She is a college girl now, and the idea of driving with me is boring, unless shopping and fine dining with my credit card is part of the journey. Still, I plan some trips during December, “to get into the Christmas spirit” and these involve lights, decorations, shopping, dining, and sometimes something more.

Recently, my children and I paid a weekday visit to a mall about 45 minutes from home, and there were some decorations, some good buys, and a huge movie theatre. I had read that the box office champ for the previous weekend was “Four Christmases” starring Reese Witherspoon. The timing was right, so I suggested that we watch it after some not so fine dining at the food court. I purchased three tickets from a bored vendor, skipped the snack bar, and sat in the center of a truly empty stadium theatre, with loud surround sound and fast paced previews. My offspring sat on either side of me, and I felt good about the idea. Even the seats and carpet were red, which seemed festive.

Alas, once the previews finished, I realized this was a bad idea. The film has a vulgar script, despite its PG-13 rating, and my son, who is studying Shakespeare, pronounced it full of “groundling humor.” Actually, that was kind, but he probably didn’t want to exacerbate my disgust. Daughter was more frank about what we should have seen instead. If one views the script as biting social commentary, this film might be of some worth, but that is the only possible excuse.

We continued our weekday get-a-way afterward, but the decorations were not so festive anymore. Before long, we mutually agreed to return to our van, and the most exciting part of the journey home was merging onto I-85.

The season is far from over, of course, but my daughter’s words now seem profound. “Where is the Christmas?” is a question for this postmodern age. Certainly I did not find it at the movie theatre. My suggestion to you is to skip “Four Christmases.”

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Five Best of ’08

I’ve heard that retailers are worried about the holidays, because people have less to spend, now that the "r" word is official. That is certainly true for us. Daughter is in the midst of her freshman year at a good state college, and tuition, room & board, and myriad fees have run us about the same as a good used car, and that will repeat each year unless she gets some scholarship dollars from somewhere. There will be less under our tree this holiday.

So, instead of creating a Christmas list of things I want, I am going to mention the best things I purchased in 2008. I do want to remember that I had a good year, even in troubling times. Perhaps, readers of Pam’s Pages will find the perfect gift for family or for themselves on my five best list—

First, I purchased a great book, Phantom, by Susan Kay, for my daughter. She has loved this book and is a fan of the Webber musical, which we saw on Broadway in May. The film version of the musical, available on DVD, is also worthy, but nothing beats the stage version.

Second, I suffered a huge loss of pictures and writing, among other things, when the hard drive of my iBook ceased to function. Having never had such a loss of data, after the shock wore off, I purchased a Western Digital “My Passport” 320GB Portable Hard Drive to use with “Time Machine” which is part of the operating system for my new laptop computer. Hopefully, I won’t suffer that kind of loss again, since the computer reminds me every ten days to back up the entire drive.

Third, my son wanted to have a smaller, more rugged music player, so his birthday present was an Apple iPod nano. I still marvel at the small size and seamless software of this device. Also, due to having flash memory, it is far more “guy friendly” than the older, hard drive model that he used before. Thus far, it has performed flawlessly, so it makes the list.

Fourth, hubby likes to listen to television, loud television, when I don’t, so he requested a new set of wireless headphones. I ordered a Sony Wireless Headphone for him, and he loves this device, which lets him soar and me snore.

Fifth, I enjoy a pot of tea from time to time, and my favorite tea is Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold Tea. These bags make a pot, not just a cup, and this tea has a lovely color and aroma. Oh, and it tastes good, too.

So, there are five diverse items, with prices beginning under ten bucks, that I have purchased for myself and for my family during 2008. The links are to, and while you are there, remember that they stock my debut novel, The Gift Horse, and Trinity on Tylos, by yours truly, and books are a great gift.

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