The Bookshelf, Young Texas Reader, Blog Notes, & Texana Youtube Channel

The Texas Bookshelf is for single, specific books' reviews and author interviews . The Texas Parlor ranges more broadly than my other websites. The Young Texas Reader focuses on the youngest through teenagers. Texas Blog Notes surveys blogs of historical and literary interest. I've started a Will's Texana Youtube collecting channel where 1,000 videos are collected in 100 playlists . Find Will in Houston or at willstexana {at} yahoodotcom

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Science Fiction Book Review: Fritz Leiber, Specter is Haunting Texas

Leiber's Specter is a trivial specter haunting the sci fi Texana collection. What was hardly intended a a dystopian (see We, 1984, Brave New World etc.) satire but rather an attempt at parody but is ultimately vacuous slapstick. Written during the Lyndon Johnson presidency shortly after the JFK assassination and under some influence of Texas itself, Leiber tales a future fascist Republic of Texas that after the great world war 3 has spread to include Central America and most of the continent with designs on the world and beyond. Leiber reserves small republics for Blacks and Hippies in California and Florida.

The plot involves a young Mr. Christopher Crockett La Cruz coming from his ultra-lunar home to claim a lost mine. The plot is killed by Leiber's relentless chorus and staging of racism on the part of the ruling tall, Anglo Texas elite over the short, Mexican bentbacks, and others for that matter. Here's the case where less would have been more. He thus trvializes racism itself. Cruz's low gravity home scientists have equipped his with an exoskeleton to allow his 8 foot tall, thin frame to function on earth. Leiber's chronic attentions to the mechanism can further distract the reader, although others may find it intiguing. Cruz's leading role in promoting the "bentback" revolution against the racist leaders is diluted by its clonking from one scene to another. La Cruz's double love interests are at the end resolved by polygamy, which itself precludes what was a possible channel of literary closure, but left in dangling cuteness.

One of Leiber's short stories may provide a teaser to Specter, "America the Beautiful," when an English poet visits UT Dallas. Gather, Darkness, a better novel, may provide closure for dystopians. Texana collectors may also wish to acquire Leiber's Beyond Humanity that includes some Texas references.

Spectral "Texas" elements are merely superficial, invoking historical names, placaes, and events without depth or breadth, selected to sharpen his political diatribe. Leiber's family and personal background in the theater provides some little surcease of readers' pain as his stage directions and such provide some distraction.

Readers may wish to follow up by reading prepared for the Aggies' speculation: HORNY TOADS AND UGLY CHICKENS: A BIBLIOGRAPHY ON TEXAS IN SPECULATIVE FICTION. 20 September 2001. by Bill Page.

Justin Leiber, the son, became a philosophy professor at U of Houston ( ) which lead to UH's Fritz Leiber Archival Collection (at least two folders of interest) at U of Houston described at:

Specter must have been an odd polemic thought at an odd moment for Leiber, otherwise a true fantasy and science fiction foundational writer of the 30s to the 90s. Another author, Daniel Da Cruz offers better Texas sci fi fare in his trilogy, if only for its fun and brighter Texan side.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Houston's Ramona Davis reports: River Oaks Theater Preservation Update 2

Ramona Davis of the Greater Houston Presevation Alliance reports via email:

We wanted to share the latest media coverage GHPA has garnered for its campaign to preserve the River Oaks Shopping Center and Theater:

Today’s Houston Chronicle features an article by Arts Editor Lisa Gray on the petition drive begun by GHPA volunteer Jim Parsons which now has more than 15,000 signatures. In April 2006, Texas Historical Commission presented Gray its Award of Excellence in Media Achievement for reporting on preservation issues and increasing awareness of the state's historic and prehistoric resources.

GHPA volunteer Jim Parsons and GHPA Programs and Information Director David Bush were interviewed by KUHF Radio for a news story that aired Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Again, the coverage focused on the petition drive begun by Parsons and the outpouring of support spurred by the article GHPA succeeded in placing in last Saturday’s Chronicle.

Readers may wish to sign the online petition and print copies of the “Save This Landmark!” image on GHPA’s Web site.

Your membership in GHPA allows our staff to cultivate relationships with media representatives and generate the coverage necessary to influence public opinion. Please forward this e-mail to interested friends, family and colleagues, and ask them to support this effort by becoming members of GHPA.

Thank you for your continuing support of Greater Houston Preservation Alliance and its efforts to preserve Houston’s irreplaceable historic resources.

Ramona Davis, Executive Director

Texas Methodist History

Texas Methodist History

Folks interested in such will find the Texas United Methodist Historical Society active and productive. The annual dues of $12.50 should allay any fears of the organization laying up riches on earth. (I'm writing my check today.)

Their blog is of course open and gracefully free to all, and the TUMHS also provides a printed HERITAGE JOURNAL annual, a newsletter, and an annual meeting with papers. Their blog includes a "This Week in History" column usually provided by the Society's Chair Wm. C. Hardt.

The blog's side bar lists their mission, officers, a few links, and a list of several dozen blogs of folks contending for the faith and going on to perfection. (I only wish the sidebar was in larger type or a bolder font for us with vision challenges).

The archives of the United Methodist "Texas Conference" (which now generally means East Texas) are kept at Lon Morris College (this blogger's an alum '68) in Jacksonville. At present I'm unaware of where the other several Texas conferences keep their archives. I'm sure the TUMHS is the place to find such keepers of the that knowledge.

Most folks don't know that the "United" in the denominational name was acquired from a merger with the United Bretheren Church back in the 1960s I believe. Before Methodists were United, we just randomly walked around shining in the darkness, wondering about the other candles and hill fires we saw in the distance. Now we gather United at night and read by candlelight under oak trees. I rather like John and Corinthians, but I've erred and have taken up in-door electricity.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

New Texas Author Network: Texas Authors Speakers Co-Op


Texas Authors Speakers Co-Op

By steffercat
posted Wed 5 Jul 2006, 4:34 pmAn important network is coalescing this summer that will benefit the entire Texas literary community beginning this fall.

The Texas Authors Speakers Co-Op will promote Texas Authors to state, national and municipal organizations, business and professional organizations, charitable associations and women’s clubs, as well as cruise lines and spa resorts. The Texas Authors Speakers Co-Op website will provide a catalog of member authors, easy access for those seeking speakers, and links to speakers’ web sites. Speakers will make their own arrangements directly with those who contact them.

The charter meeting will be held at Flat Creek Estate, Lago Vista, Texas, Saturday, September 30, 2006, 11-3

Register by mailing a check for $25 payable to co-founder Anne Isham (memo TASC) by August 1 to: Anne Isham P.O. Box 5325 Jonestown Texas 78645

Registration includes tea, coffee, wine tasting and dessert.

Bring your lunch and be prepared to give a brief (10 minute maximum) presentation to qualify as a Co-Op Speaker.

For more information: Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist

Hurricane Rita Library Grants Still Available from Humanities Source

Mary Alford reports


Recovery grants : Texas cultural and educational organizations affected by Hurricane Rita may request recovery grants of up to $5,000 for immediate needs resulting from the storm. Recovery grants support collection replacement,
conservation work, professional consultation, and even institutional expenses such as replacing shelving and roofing.

Book replacement grants : Texas public and school libraries that suffered losses to their collections as a result of the hurricane may apply for book replacement grants of up to $1,000 to support collection development in such humanities fields as literature and history. Purchases may include books, media
resources, and other educational materials. Libraries may request an
additional $500 to purchase materials that strengthen the teaching and study
of U.S.history and culture. These additional funds are made possible by the NEH's We
the People initiative.

No application forms are necessary. Please see our website:

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through January 1, 2007, until grant funds have been exhausted.

The Humanities Texas Hurricane Rita Relief Fund is supported in part by a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Please direct any questions to Eric Lupfer, Humanities Texas Director of Grants and Education, at (512) 440-1991 or

Blogger Will Howard & Son Morgan Howard and Gov. Pat Neff with Early Parks Supporters

Historical Preservation of Paper Vital

Bernice Mistrot offers these two sites to affirm the importance of the presevation of paper documents beyond digitization.
by Sally Jacobs "The Practical Archivist,"
whose mantra for digitizing photos is: SCAN YOUR PRINTS AND PRINT YOUR SCANS


Essay by Stewart Brand
First published as "Written on the Wind" in Civilization Magazine in November of 01998

Texas Sense of Place - Nature, Sir Walter Scott & Roy Bedichek

Forty years ago, while in Marshall High School senior English class, my teacher, Emma Mae Broetze, required a third long paper. My first paper on "The Dissolution of English Monastic Life" had been well received. At the time I was preparing for the Methodist cloth and Miss Broetze was German, so the topic was easy and interesting. We'd used the outline-index cards method of writing during class time. That paper was followed one of her choosing on Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," in which I showed limited light. I recovered favor by penning the poem "Life is a Candle" and turning my Spanish class to good use by trilling my r's in reciting the poetry of Robert Burns, the Scottish Bard.

For the third paper, in time from my wooden and metal desk, I piped up with a title "The Autobiographical Aspects of Sir Walter Scott's Novels." Miss Broetze, being QUITE versant in Scott, replied that she'd never thought of such a topic, and I quivered as she noted she'd take special interest in that.

Well, I went forth, grazing the green grass and ambling the thick forests of Waverly etc among the knights of yore and such. Finally, the written deed was done, and well footnoted. I got only a B- and never really understood why I'd fallen despite her stentorian, public explanations. And I didn't know how to explain my approach successfully. As it turns out, autobiography to me WAS an exploration of one's own natural surroundings, and Scott wonderfully described his natural world (since there was little else in those days). My own biography was composed of places (outside the physical, wooden homeplace) in nature. We lived on the edge of town near the "Piney Woods," the "Shop Pond," the "Hill," the "Lake," the "Yard," the "Park," the "Red Clay Pits," the "Pottery Hay Barn," the "Vines,", the "Black Berry Patch," the "Fig Grove," the "Pear Tree," the "Sycamore Tree," the "Pecan Tree," the "Weeds," the "Creek," the "Horse Pen," and the "Quick Sand Bog." To tell my own biography was to context my personal perambulations and extempore postulations within these natural spots. They defined me. When asked "Where were you," "What were you doing" and "Who were you with" I explained naturally. And it all made sense to my mother Joy and father John without deep inquiry.

But I was not match for Miss Broetze's template of formality. Why couldn't she see? Maybe she was bent on civilizing the young hellians before her. Maybe the paper was poorly done.

Only years later did I being to understand. There was Roy Bedichek and Loren Eiseley with their essays on the particulars of nature and the mysteries of life and the sense of place. WH

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Texas Trifles

Texas Trifles

Her bio is worth reading on its own.

Cowtown Pattie

Cowtown Pattie produces an entertaining, pleasant, and infomative blog in her Texastrifles. In her review of "Dinosaur Travel Guide" by Halls, she includes a hotlist of a couple of dozen sites to see dinosaurs in Texas.

Trackback URL for this entry:


Gene Bob: Dallas: the White Metropolis

Gene Bob: Dallas: the White Metropolis

Regarding the volume by Michael Phillips, White Metropolis, etc.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Who is Will Howard, Texas bibliographer?

Your Texas Parlor host and "Will's Texana Monthly" publisher is Will Howard. Howard has worked Texana bibliography for over 30 years. His degrees are A.A. (Lon Morris College, Jacksonville, 1968), B.A. in history, English, psychology, and sociology (SFASU, Nacogdoches, 1970+) and M.L.S. (UT, Austin, 1974).

Howard edited a Southwestern Library Association bibliographical booklet for regional children’s material, founded the Texas State Library’s subject index to state government publications monthly checklist, founded and compiled the Texas Bibliographical Society’s periodical "Texas Current Bibliography and Index", compiled a description of the Amarillo Public Library’s Bush/FitzSimon Collection, wrote a Texana books and publications column in the Texas Library Association’s "Texas Library Journal", taught a course at UT’s Library School on contemporary American publishing and book trade, and has spoken and conducted workshops on Texana, history, librarianship, conservation, book arts, publishing, and archival matters.

Howard published under the imprint Winter Wheat House two small volumes of local Austin interest, "Arthur’s Austin ABC: Arturo en Austin: un abecedario" (bilingual, translation provided by Maria Isabel Jofre, illustrations by Ben Sargent) and "The Austin Almanac," focusing on history and horticulture.

Howard was the Librarian in the Texas Room of the Houston Public Library for 18 years until he retired in 2005. He has held offices in the Texas Library Association, including Chairing the Archives & Local History Roundtable. He has been serving for several years on the Battle of San Jacinto Symposium Organizing Committee, Houston’s Museum of Printing History’s Collection Management Committee, the Houston Review Advisory Board, and in different roles with the Archivists of the Houston Area. He chaired in the 1980s both the Travis County Sesquicentennial Committee and the Travis County Historical Commission, and coordinated the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train through Austin. He is a member of the Harris County Historical Commission as well as other posts in the Texana community. Howard now is an historical and archival consultant, public speaker, and publisher of the electronic periodical Will’s Texana Monthly.

The Parlor is assisted by the WTM Circulation Manager, Morgan Howard, who is an Aggie graduate who has worked in several public interests capacities, and he is currently employed by Communities United to Strengthen America as their Pearland office’s Outreach Coordinator.

Theaters of Historic Presevation

GHPA adds River Oaks Shopping Center and Theater,

Alabama Theater/Bookstop to Endangered Buildings List
(cut & paste of GHPA press release)

Greater Houston Preservation Alliance has added three significant historic buildings to its Endangered Buildings List: River Oaks Shopping Center (1937), River Oaks Theater (1939) and the Alabama Theater/Bookstop (1939). GHPA has learned that planned redevelopment threatens all three of these Art Deco landmarks with demolition.

Through GHPA’s efforts, the Houston Chronicle covered the story on the front page of its Saturday, July 22, edition. Click here to read the article by Chronicle Arts Editor Lisa Gray.

GHPA members are encouraged to write Weingarten Realty to express support for preserving these local landmarks. Letters should be addressed to:
Dr. Drew Alexander
Chief Executive Officer
Weingarten Realty
P.O. Box 924133
Houston, Texas 77292-4133

Monday, July 24, 2006

We like books and software in Texas - Geraldine Miller & Greg Abbott

The Chairwoman of the State Board of Education, Geraldine Miller, requested that the State AG rule on whether Texas' strategic "textbook funds" could or could not be spent on computer hardware. To her pleasure, the AG Greg Abbott said informational only please, i.e., books and software, not hardware. It makes a difference, there's about $800 million dollars a year in that fund. This was prompted by a bill by Kent Grusendorf who was disappointed that books couldn't be revised more quickly to suit his desires. Gee, maybe a value of a book is just that changing it is slow and difficult and costly, so the writers' should focus their work on the enduring, the lasting, not just the flash of the moment. Wouldn't it be fun if the $800 million became a slush fund for just about anything, then we wouldn't have to worry about books at all. Somebody should sent Kent a video of "Dumb and Dumber" and of course it sequel.

Mayor Bill White Houston History Task Force

A few months ago, Houston Mayor Bill White appointed a task force of several dozen citizens to make some recommendations on preserving/developing/teaching the history of Houston. This July, ably lead by Betty Chapman, the first recommendations are filed. In the simplest language those are below. Fuller information followed the recommendations and appendices were added.


The following recommendations are the result of many hours of research and study by sixty-five citizens serving on five committees over the past six months. The first four recommendations are of a general nature; the ones that follow were compiled by the individual committees.

1. We recommend that a History Center be established in the city.
2. We recommend that a Non-profit Historical Association be established in the private sector to serve as an umbrella for the city’s historical ventures.
3. We recommend that a City of Houston Archives be established with the goal of determining which city records need to be retained, archived, and maintained in a professional manner.
4. We recommend that a Web site be developed to focus solely on Houston History and all of its related elements.
5. We recommend that a comprehensive Historical Database be developed to include what has been compiled by the Task Force Committee on Identifying the City’s Historical Resources as well as the Houston Architectural Database compiled by the Committee on Identifying and Preserving the Built Environment.
6. We recommend that the Medium of Television be used to educate the public
about our history.

7. We recommend that a public Houston History Fair be held annually to celebrate the rich, diverse heritage of our city.
8. We recommend that Educating Houston’s Youth should be a high priority.
9. We recommend that a comprehensive Media Package be developed to spotlight Houston’s history and to publicize historical happenings within the entire community.

10. We recommend that Historic Neighborhood Surveys be conducted throughout the city.
11. We recommend the following in the area of Public Policy:
A. Revision of the City Building Code to accommodate historic buildings. B. Strengthen the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. C. Hire additional staff to administer the City Historic Preservation Program. D. Initiate an aggressive Historic Plaque Program

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Valentine Overton King

The first person to compile a major bibliography, although it was not published, was Valentine Overton King, head of the nascent Texas State Library, before C.W. Raines' period.  WH

Yahoo! Messenger with Voice. Make PC-to-Phone Calls to the US (and 30+ countries) for 2¢/min or less.

Will's Texana Monthly: Calendar


September 10: Austin Museum Day. Special events and free admission at museums, gardens, and historical sites all over Austin.

September 13-15: Texas Plant Conservation Conference. Private landowners, botanists, and professionals come together to discuss rare and endangered plant species from across Texas. In Alpine, Texas.

September 16: Diez y Seis around the state. Fiestas Patrias.

September 16: Teaching of Texas History Conference at the University of North Texas, Wooten Hall. Theme: “Nineteenth Century Leaders.”

September 16: Palo Duro Canyon SP: Cowboy Stories, Poetry and Music — Come to the Lone Star Interpretive Theater for an evening of family entertainment with Jimmy and Sarah Northcutt. Listen to stories, poetry and original music, weather permitting. 6-8 p.m. (806) 488-2227

September 21-23: East Texas Historical Association Fall Meeting at the Fredonia Hotel in Nacogdoches.

September 21-23: 6th Annual West Texas Book and Music Festival, at the Abilene Civic Center. For information, e-mail: or phone: 325-676-6328

September 24: Mission Tejas State Park — El Camino Real Archeology Tour — Weather permitting, hear a brief history of the first Spanish Mission in East Texas where Texas got its name. Then take a scenic half-mile hike through the woods and see the site of the Nebedache Indian Village and stand in the traces of El Camino Real de los Tejas where Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Jim Bowie and many other characters in Texas history rode. 10 a.m.-noon (936) 687-2394

September 26-27: Texas Wireless Summit at InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel Austin,

September 27 & 28: Texas Cemetery Association’s Maintenance Conference, in Fort Worth, AmeriSuites Hotel.

September 27–30: National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Reunion in Dallas, White Rock Lake. Contact Sally Rodriguez at or (214) 243-2123

September 28–30, 2006 — Big Bend Ranch State Park — Longhorn Cattle Drive — Come out and help round up the Texas longhorns in the park. For three days, experience life on a working ranch by going out on horseback into the rugged country of the ranch and driving the longhorns to ranch headquarters. Call for times; fees $895 per person; reservations required (432) 229-3416

September 29-30: Texas Heritage Living History Weekend, as declared by the Texas Music Heritage Foundation, formerly down on the Guadalupe but now inside the city limits and all at the Schreiner University in Kerrville. Be looking for folks in period clothing and textiles, with odd accoutrements, playing old time heritage music and maybe dancing a jig or folklorico, riding horses, spouting funny talk, and causing a musical dust up or two. Just to get your attention.

September 29 - October 22: State Fair of Texas. In Dallas. or visit

September 30, 2006 — Palo Duro Canyon SP — 132nd Anniversary of the Battle of Palo Duro — One of the last battles during the Red River Wars was fought in Palo Duro Canyon. Come to the equestrian area and see the 4th Cavalry camp and learn about the military and differences between the Cavalry and Native American warriors. Native American Presentation — John and Judy Madden present the customs of Native Americans from the past to the present in the Lone Star Interpretive Theater. See them dressed in full regalia as they teach the Indian way. 8-9 p.m. (806) 488-2227 (806) 488-2227

October: Texas Archeology Month

October: Archives Week in several locations in the state.

October 6 and 7: Fall Meeting of the Texas Map Society’s Fifth Biennial Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography at The University of Texas at Arlington Central Library, Sixth Floor Atrium. Topic: Mapping the Sacred: Belief and Religion in the History of Cartography. More at and Carolyn Kadri. E-mail:, telephone: 817.272.7253

October 11-14: Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Ninth Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, with dozens of presenters, . Joint conference with Western History Association,

October 11-15: A Joint conference of Librarians of Color will be in Dallas at the Adam's Mark Hotel. Theme: “Gathering at the Waters: Embracing Our Spirits, Telling Our Stories,” produced through the cooperation of five American Library Association Caucuses: AILA, APALA, BCALA, CALA and REFORMA.

October 14, 2006 — Mission Tejas State Park — Blacksmithing Demonstration — Weather permitting, local smiths will demonstrate the basics of metalworking by making handy household items. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (936) 687-2394

October 14-15: North Texas Book & Paper Show, in Fort Worth, with wver 60 dealers showing Used and Rare titles in many specialties with a significant number showing Texana titles. Contact: Reported by Gary Fox, President.

October 14: Tejano Leadership in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas. Symposium at Texas State University. That will be followed in the evening by a Fiesta de Cien Anos at the LBJ Student Center that will include exhibits and traditional fiesta activities. “October 2006 will mark the 200th anniversary of Juan N. Seguín’s birth. Seguín was the leading Tejano (Mexican Texan) military figure of the Texas Revolution and a member of one San Antonio’s most prominent families. He went on to serve in the Senate of the Republic, as mayor of San Antonio, an officer in the Mexican military, and a figure in Bexar County politics in the 1850s.” This year also marks the centennial of Hispanic students at Texas State University.

October 16: Advanced Appraisal for Archivists in Houston, co-sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, Archivists of the Houston Area and University of Houston - Clear Lake, Neumann Library. Contact:

October 19: 2006 E-Records Conference, at University of Texas at Austin, sponsored by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission State and Local Records Management Division and the Texas Department of Information Resources. For more information or to register for the conference, call 512-452-9242.

October 19-20: Preservation Texas Board meeting, Dallas, Preservation Texas Circle Dinner, Dallas

October 20–22: Texas Archeological Society Annual Meeting; San Angelo, San Angelo Inn and Convention Center. Contact: Claude Hudspeth cbhiii@

Calendar Notes: (Readers should email notes to

Cadwell Walton Raines

C.W. Raines compiled the first large, formal, and divserse bibliography under the title "Bibliography of Texas" that was issued in the 1890s. Its contents is broader than most folks expect - technical and scientific works, fiction, poetry, government publications, newspapers, public addressse, theological or churchly works, descriptions of collections as well as the usual traditional historical works. Naturally, the earliest work is Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca's relation regarding his early 16th century shipwreck, residency, and trek south to central Mexico.
Among other career steps, he was the virtual state librarian.
Among other observations are "The Spain in Raines falls mainly before Gaines." Raines is still in print through a fellow in the northeast.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Companion to "Will's Texana Monthly"

The Texas Parlor is an electronic companion to "Will's Texana Monthly: A Free E-journal of reviews, news, and electric observations" published by the Texas Parlor's hosts, Will and Morgan Howard.

Welcome to The Texas Parlor.

Welcome. Sit a spell and let's talk about Texas - its books, writers, history, arts and culture, modern social life and customs - whatever strikes your interest.