Monthly Archives: March 2012



by Sue West

Dramatic human interest stories provide some of the answers to current children’s issues in a new book called AMERICA’S TWISTED CHILDREN: DEVELOPING HELP FOR DISADVANTAGED,ADHD, AUTISTIC AND FOSTER KIDS.

Back in the 1970’s, author Sue West attended a graduate department in a college of education that provided observation of individual remedial reading instruction through one-way glass. The class worked in teams to make a written report (together with recommendations) on various non-readers.

The hope was that approaches superior to those that had already been used with each child or adult would solve instructional problems. Although the hidden graduate observers never knew what transpired much later in the short-term progress of those they observed, the watchers found the experience similar to watching a human dissection. In this case, however, they were seeing a pulling-apart of all the components that make up the act of reading. Environmental effects on the non-readers were also discussed.

Over the last 10 years, through extensive internet research—including videos—West has also examined the continuing failure of low income children (as a group) to keep up with advantaged children, as well as the swelling numbers of children with ADHD or autism. As a former reading teacher, she also knows of the great need for high quality day care and/or prekindergarten for kids in homes with few or no books or counting toys and games. In addition, she has firsthand knowledge of the increasing need for removal of kids from their homes into foster care or adoption programs.

AMERICA’S TWISTED CHILDREN is available at Antigone Books, 411 North Fourth Avenue in Tucson, Arizona for $15.95. It can also be ordered from the Web site The author’s blog,, may be accessed through

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- NOTHING RHYMES WITH VOLVO


by Mattie Lennon

I’m trying to set up a support group called VOLLOCS; with a V. (Acronym will be explained anon).

You see I owned a Morris Minor in the seventies………….. Which reminds me. Have you ever noticed, apart from the social possibilities afforded, the literary merit of the MM? Fair play to Christy Moore, Richie Kavanagh, and Micky McConnell – they saw the rhyming potential of the Morris Minor; Dine ‘er, Wine ‘er, Baldy Miner, Recline ‘er. Try working Peugeot, Chrysler, Citron, or Hyundai into a villanelle or a sonnet.

Have you ever heard anyone stand up at a Fleadh to sing; “The Toyota Camry Car?” And an ode to an Isuzu or a Renault would be utter Philistinism. I suppose you could rhyme something with KA, but who’d want to?

I digress. As I said, I owned an MM in the seventies and I sustained a lumber-disc-lesion (slipped disc to you) in the same decade. I contracted the latter in the back of the former during nocturnal post-dance activities around Lacken and surrounding areas of the Wicklow Mountains. I claim the Morris Minor designers/manufacturers were, at least partly, negligible through providing front seats which tilted forward making certain pelvic roll-back activities possible, if uncomfortable, in the rear. There are many places in our towns and cities, where the outside of a building describes an internal right angle, contagious to the thoroughfare. Have you ever noticed that, in such corners, there is sometimes a convex railing, with a spiked top, in position? This was a Victorian device for the purpose of discouraging erotica while parallel with the perpendicular. Why couldn’t Sir Alec Issigonis have designed, if not spikes then, some form of deterrent in the back seat of the MM?

But instead of inhibiting they subtly advertised the added facility. A promotion leaflet from fifty years ago reads; “……..relax in perfect comfort in the rear seat of the Morris……the seat is extra wide and deep and there is extra leg room…..deep pile carpets pad the floor….” More recently Paul Skilleter, in a Technical and Historic analysis of the Morris Minor, says it;”….gave a standard of ride-comfort such as had never been experienced in a small British car before………is more than a car… is a familiar, dependable friend that does everything asked of it….has well planned accommodation inside.”

And what did the late Ian Nairn mean, when he wrote, of the MM, in the Sunday Times,; “…..there is no way I can see a comfortable solution to a passionate embrace in the back seat?”

Bad back or no bad back it would be sharp practice on my part to take legal action against the designers of a machine with such attributes; and anyway, Sir Alec Issigonis didn’t leave forwarding address. Of course I mightn’t fare very well in court anyway; and it would be less than prudent to call a witness.

I see, now, where the British inventor, Cris McGlone, has applied for a patent for the “Posture Perfect”; a buzzing leotard. If the wearer adopts a wrong posture an alarm will go off. I wonder……….

A friend of mine, a shopkeeper, claims the aforementioned alternative gymnastics are not possible in the MM. (This man once owned a Morris Minor, but it must be said he has a perfect back) “I’ll show you how possible it is” says I ” Get me a Morris Minor and a………” Then I remembered the words of Nicolas Boileau; “Chaquee age a ses plaisirs…” (every age has It’s pleasures) I am anno-domino-barred. However I felt obliged to point out to my friend, the shopkeeper, that when Dermot O’Leary was promoting “The Oldest Swinger in Town,” it wasn’t a Prefect or an Austin Seven he used on the posters.

I’d swear the ancient Romans knew the erotically appealing properties of the MM; do you remember that little red car in the background in Ben Hur? It certainly wasn’t a Romeo or a Lada.

Remember the character in Lee Dunne’s “Does Your Mother” who was conceived in a watch-mans hut; he was called “Watchbox.” Now wouldn’t Morris Minor make a better name for a person than, say, Ford Orien or Opel Vectra?

A University-of-California study has found that men whose initials form negative acronyms e.g. P.I.G. or B.U.M. die 2.8 years younger than those with initials like V.I.P. or W.I.N. It would hardly be conducive to longevity to be called Volvo Diesel or Saab Turbo.

And speaking of longevity; the next time you see some fellow walking with difficulty (I would have every sympathy with him, he is in pain) but, ask him what’s wrong with him. He will quote all sorts of erudite specialists and tell you we evolved too quickly. We weren’t intended to stand up straight, he’ll tell you. Then you’ll have to listen to all sorts of fancy terminology; Scoliosis, Lordosis, Lor…this and Lor..that. Just listen to him for a while and then innocently ask; “Did you ever bring a Morris Minor to a dance?”

If you happen to see my old Morris Minor on the road (the Reg.No. is 7440 IK) have a look at the current driver. If it’s male and walking in the manner described above, there is a good chance he didn’t heed the warning on the faded bumper-sticker; PRACTICE SAFE SEX, AVOID THE BACK SEAT.

Oh, I nearly forgot the acronym.

Contact Mattie Lennon at

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- BEGGARS CAN BE CHOOSERS


by Mattie Lennon

“Les bons pauvres ne savent pas que leur office est d’exercer Notre gererosite.” (The poor don’t know that their function in life is to Exercise our generosity.) Jean-Paul Sarte.

I was delighted when that the stupid law (The Vagrancy (Ireland) Act 1847) had been found to be unconstitutional.

It reminds me of the first time I met the late John B.Keane in Grafton Street, in Dublin. He was being ushered Brown-Thomas-ward by his spouse. And cooperating fully: unusual for a husband. I accosted him to say thanks for his prompt reply when I had written to him shortly before requesting information for an article I was writing.

We were about thirty seconds into the conversation when an adult male with a lacerated face and looking very much the worse for wear approached me. The polystyrene cup in his outstretched hand proclaimed that he would not be offended by a donation.

I contributed 20p (I think). Ireland’s best-known playwright turned his back, (I’m sure he picked up the gesture in the Stacks Mountains as a young fellow) extracted a substantial amount and gave to the needy. I then thought that a man who had written about everything from cornerboys to the aphrodisiac properties of goat’s milk could enlighten me on an enigma, which I had been pondering for decades.

You see, dear reader, if I were talking to you on a public thoroughfare anywhere in the world and a beggar was in the vicinity he would ignore you as if he was a politician and you were a voter after an election. But he would home in on me. I don’t know why. Maybe, contrary to popular opinion, I have a kind face. Come to think of it that’s not the reason. Because I have, on many occasions, been approached from the rear. Many a time in a foreign city my wife thought I was being mugged. When in fact it was just a local with broken, or no English who had decided to ask Mattie Lennon for a small amount of whatever the prevailing currency was. Maybe those people have knowledge of Phrenology and the shape of my weather-beaten head, even when viewed from behind, reveals the fact that I am a soft touch.

However, a foreman gave a more practical explanation to the boss, on a building site where I was employed many years ago. The site was contagious to a leafy street in what is now fashionable Dublin 4 and those from the less affluent section of society used to ferret me out there. Pointing a toil-worn, knarled, forefinger at me the straight-talking foreman, Matt Fagen, explained the situation to the builder, Peter Ewing, a mild mannered, pipe-smoking, kindly Scot. “Every tinker an’ tramp in Dublin is coming to this house, an’ all because o’ dat hoor……because dat hoor is here…an’ they know he’s one o’ themselves.”

I was relating this to John B. adding, ” I seem to attract them.” o which he promptly replied;” (calling on the founder of his religion). You do.”

The reason for his rapid expression of agreement was standing at my elbow in the person of yet another of our marginalized brethren with outstretched hand.

So the best-known Kerryman since Kitchener left me none the wiser as to why complete strangers mistake me for Saint Francis of Assisi.

And salutations such as “hello” or “Good morning” are replaced by “How are ye fixed?”, “Are you carrying” and, in the old days, “Have you a pound you wouldn’t be usin’ “?

I do not begrudge the odd contribution to the less well off and I am not complaining that I am often singled out as if I was the only alms-giver. Come to think of it, it is, I suppose, a kind of a compliment.

Sometimes I say ; “I was just going to ask you”, but I always give something and I don’t agree with Jack Nicholson who says; ” The only way to avoid people who come up to you wanting stuff all the time is to ask first. It freaks them out.” Those unfortunate people are bad enough without freaking them out. Of course there are times when it is permissible not to meet each request with a contribution. I recall an occasion in the distant, pre-decimal days when a man who believed that, at all times, even the most meager of funds should be shared, approached my late father for five pounds. When asked ; ” Would fifty shillings be any use to you?” he conceded that yes, half a loaf would be better than no bread. Lennon Senior replied; “Right. The next fiver I find I’ll give you half of it.”

Of course none of us know the day or the hour we’ll be reduced to begging. In the meantime I often thought of begging as an experiment. But I wouldn’t have what it takes. Not even the most high powered advertising by Building Societies and other financial establishments can restore my confidence, to ask for money in any shape or form, which was irreparably damaged when I asked a Blessington shopkeeper for a loan of a pound nearly fifty years ago. He said; I’d give you anything, son….but it’s agin the rule o’ the house.”

I wonder was he a pessimist. It has been said that you should always borrow from a pessimist; he doesn’t expect it back. Well recently I was in a restaurant when a work colleague texted me asking to borrow a small amount of money……he was seated two tables away.

As JFK said in his inaugural speech: ” If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

I don’t know about the rich but I have learned one thing about the poor; BEGGARS CAN BE CHOOSERS.

Contact Mattie Lennon at

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Brian T. Yates Author- YALU AND THE PUPPY ROOM


by Brian T. Yates

illlustrated by Tieron Chaney

This Golden Retriever needs to find a forever home
YALU AND THE PUPPY ROOM is the first in a series of books involving a Golden Retriever name Yalu.

Book Synopsis: The Puppy Room is the place where dogs in go to meet people. Most puppies leave with new parents, while other dogs are rejected and have to try again. This Golden Retriever needs to find a forever home and must stand out from the other dogs in her kennel.

ISBN 978-1-934051-42-9

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- AM THE ART OF SLAGGING


by Mattie Lennon

I’m getting a bit of a slagging lately I won’t go into details but it’s great fun. I’m not talking about offensive remarks or insults. I’m referring to good substantial, wholesome, slagging.

SLAGGING is the delicate art of teasing someone in such a fashion that they look forward to it.

It is practiced widely throughout Ireland by all manner of people. Well not all manner; there are those, a small minority, who, through, I presume, cannot take a slagging. And they have a right to live too despite the fact that they could truthfully echo the words of the character in God of Carnage who said “I don’t have a sense of humour and I have no intention of acquiring one.”

There are people who are offended by the suggestion that they shouldn’t be offended. I once lived in a Dublin suberb where it was said that “you would need to wash your words.”

When you slag someone you are giving them an opportunity to laugh at themselves. And Samual Lover said that if a man has a sense of humour keen enough to show up his own absurdities it will prevent him from committing all sins except those worth committing. He didn’t specify what transgressions are worth committing but I suppose he didn’t have to. Will the humourless, however, admit to their condition? Frank Moore Colby said, “Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humour.”? Why can some people not take a slagging? Freud in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious points out that when we were children we had no need for jokes because all our fantasies were so immediate. “ we were ignorant of the comic, we were incapable of jokes and we had no need of humour to make us feel happy in our life.”

Is the anti-slagging brigade made up of those who haven’t left their childhood? And who, subconsciously or otherwise are without the need for a bit of craic? Or are they victims of their upbringing or education? One writer, with reference to French finishing schools says, “In a world where structure, order and logic are the master nouns, the room for nonsense and absurdity is limited.”

We can’t slag everybody. But who do we slag and how should we do it? I apply the Golden rule “Don’t do unto others etc. “ Some erudite people remind me that that is the negative version of the rule. But, as every electrician knows, a negative is just as important as a positive.

I think that we should be proud of the fact that we are unique in Ireland in how we pay a compliment to each other. We do it in a way that other races would see as an insult. Irish friendships can often be measured by how robustly friends “insult” each other. If you’re short, tall, fat, a lothario OR useless with the opposite sex you’ll get a ribbing. If you’re bald, have long hair, rotten teeth or a broken nose you’ll be slagged. But in such a way as to strengthen the bonds of mutual affection. So, we have our own way of dispensing what Americans call “positive reinforcement.” But there are people in these islands who have convinced juries that a graceful taunt was an insult. And they are living comfortably on the proceeds.

In 1994 Jacob Hangaard, a Dutchman, stood for election as a joke. AND he was elected. His manifesto included “the reclassification of people without a sense of humour as disabled.” Would that be taking things a bit too far? I don’t know. “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.” But should we change a culture to appease a small minority who are allergic to life? How do we deal with people who can’t distinguish between affection and rejection? I don’t have an answer to that either. How about a compromise? What if those who suffer from self-victimisation or hypersensitivity were obliged to wear some form of badge proclaiming, “I can’t take a slagging.”

Mattie Lennon

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by Mary Ellen Barnes

A powerful love story containing a compelling mystery, set in 1891 Territorial Tucson

Mary Ellen Barnes, author of:




Available at Amazon

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JoAnn Bassett Author- MAUI WIDOW WALTZ


by JoAnn Bassett

Even ’till death do us part couldn’t spoil her wedding day plans

Wedding planner Pali Moon is delighted when a new client shows up at her door… until she learns the groom’s gone missing at sea. But the would-be bride’s got a plan…and a do a proxy ceremony if necessary. A body floats ashore two days before the wedding. So what’s it gonna be: a wedding or a funeral?

The First book of the “Islands of Aloha” Mystery Series

ISBN: 978-1463606657

Read an except at htt://

Ebook available for $2.99 or in paperback at

Email JoAnn at

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