Tag Archives: war

Author Expounds on Labor of Love

 

Peter Brav

The “331 Innings” Interview

with Kam Williams

Author Expounds on Labor of Love

Peter Brav is not much of a baseball player but he’s written three novels where the diamond provides a setting for triumph over adversity in one way or another. Sneaking In (set during the 1999 Yankees championship season), The Other Side Of Losing (set during a Chicago Cubs championship season) and now 331 Innings (set in a small Nebraska town). Add in Zappy I’m Not, a memoir of a cranky middle-aged man reincarnated as a small dog, and you have a literary celebration of all manner of admirable underdogs.

Peter Brav, 331 Innings, Interview, bullying, war, life, Lincoln, Nebraska, Princeton, NJPeter has written several plays including South Beach, African Violet, Later, The Rub, Good Till Cancelled, and Trump Burger which have all been performed in staged readings. A a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, he resides in Princeton, New Jersey with wife Janet and three Papillons.

Kam Williams: Hi Peter, thanks for the interview.

Peter Brav: Totally my pleasure, Kam.

KW: What inspired you to write 331 Innings?

PB:Well, first of all, it’s not a baseball book. That plays a very small part of it. It covers ground I’ve become comfortable with. Trying to understand why we’re all here for such a relatively short time and yet make it harder on each other and ourselves than it should be. I was thinking about bullying and war, specifically, and how they’re linked. And what a better world we’d have, if we could minimize both of them.

KW: How would you describe the novel in 25 words or less?

PB: It’s a pretty powerful 16th year in the life of John Schram, an undersized, underappreciated underdog. Anger’s getting the best of him and he’s most certainly heading in the wrong direction. Hopefully, he’s going to turn things around before it’s too late.

KW: Was the book’s narrator, Jack Schram, based on a real-life person?

PB: John’s Uncle Jack is a fictional 84 year-old lifelong Nebraskan. But Jack’s an amalgam of many older people I’ve met, whether they be relatives or folks at my father’s assisted living center. Like Jack, they’ve made livings, raised families, fought in wars, and watched loved ones and friends pass on. And if they’re like Jack, they marvel at how the younger generations around them keep making the same mistakes they did. I’ve always felt comfortable with older people, perhaps an old soul and all that. It remains to be seen whether that continues now that I’m getting there more rapidly than I’d like.

KW: How much research did you have to do in order to set the story in Nebraska?

PB: I drove through Nebraska four years ago and spent a wonderful week in Lincoln. I know there are significant differences from the Northeast and they’re highlighted on a daily basis on CNN with red and blue colors. But for my time there, on a closeup and personal level, I encountered nothing but personal warmth. And beautiful landscapes. The story wrote itself when I got back.

KW: What message do you want readers to take away from the novel?

PB: Well, some of what I just alluded to. We’ve got no shortage of underdogs in this world, battling whatever adversity comes their way to try and make a good life for themselves and others. What we could use a little more of is leaders, let’s call them overdogs, with a conscience. And that’s pretty much what happens near the end of the novel. Something brings the high school in-crowd and outcasts together, for one really long game anyway, and the rest of the world comes along for the ride. In my 2009 Chicago Cubs fantasy, The Other Side of Losing, I had a very protracted week-long rain delay during the World Series where people come together. This is a bit of the same thing, taking a break from “winning” to maybe show a little love.

KW: Are you already working on your next opus?

PB: Well, as you know, this lawyering thing keeps getting in the way, especially in the spring and summer. But I’ve finished a play called Propriety I’m hopeful about and I’ve started a new play set in the pre-war tumult of the late Thirties.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

PB: Great question, Troy. I wish I had more time to read but I’m getting better. I’ll mention two. The Berlin Boxing Club, a great young adult novel by Robert Sharenow.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006157970X/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

And I’m just finishing War Against War, a terrific nonfiction book about the years before World War I by Michael Kazin.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1476705909/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20 

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

PB: Thanks, Ling-Ju. My beloved mother Adele, a survivor of the Holocaust who passed away two years ago, schlepping my sister and me on subways to see a matinee of Carousel in Manhattan. I believe I was 4 years-old.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

PB: Cooking’s never been one of my strong suits, Kam. But my kids would say my scrambled eggs are perfectly edible.

KW: Craig Robinson asks: What was your last dream?

PB: Hi, Craig. My night dreams are gone shortly after I wake up. There are nights I’m pretty dream-prolific, too. But my daydreams hang around forever; they’re in 331 Innings.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far? 

PB: That’s such a good question, Sherry, and I want you to know I learned it very early on. It’s to evaluate everyone I meet on the basis of individual character only. No wealth, race, religion, nationality, age, popularity considerations, or anything else. And I’ve been the beneficiary of that lesson, with a diverse group of friends enriching my life on a daily basis.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

PB: I don’t know, give me a minute, and I’ll get back to you with a quite pained response. I see someone super blessed to have had the love and encouragement of my incredible wife Janet and the rest of my

family and friends.

  

KW: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

PB: I’m going to assume you mean intentionally. Most of the “crazy” things I did only look that way with hindsight. But I’d say naively taking my MGB without snow tires into the mountains of Vermont in the winter of 1981 ranks right up there.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

PB: For the powers that be throughout the world to have a collective Moment of Zen, to borrow from Jon Stewart, in which they realize they have more power and wealth than could be consumed in multiple lifetimes. And then actually do something about it to reduce war, oppression, inequity, ignorance, and the planet’s deterioration. It shouldn’t take the arrival of a worse species as happened in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! to bring people together.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

PB: That’s tough since most of us will be remembered by very few. But I hope it’s for more than those scrambled eggs.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

PB: The usual I’m sure. Five dollars and a completely illegible idea for a new novel scrawled on a napkin.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Peter, and best of luck with the book.

PB: Thank you, Kam, I hope folks enjoy it. Writing it was a joy for me.

To order a copy of 331 Innings, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1544237944/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

Read more of Peter’s work at www.peterbrav.com

and follow him at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3299307.Peter_Brav

and: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPeterBrav/

and: https://twitter.com/PGBistroPG

 

Source:  Baret News 

Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This

 

Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This

Book Review by Amy Lignor

What began in an unforgettable Volume 1—living Jerry Hall’s story and dealing with the heart-wrenching issues of the Viet Nam* War—continues here. The action of battle, fraught with the Jerry Hall, Viet Nam War, moral dilemmas, learning lessons, personal heartbreak, war, book reviewunending horrors that the “unwanted veterans” dealt with, grows even more painful. And as war comes closer to an end, what should have been peaceful thoughts of returning home alive are painfully absent.

Jerry Hall experiences moral dilemmas. Although wanting to avenge death, he still feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. Killing sometimes seems too easy; yet for the enemy, warfare has nothing to do with morality. Learning lessons the hard way, the reader is taken out in the rain-soaked landscape every day, at times screaming at Jerry and telling him not to question what’s right, because if he thinks too long the only one zipped in a body bag will be him.

Personal heartbreak unravels at home, as Jerry attempts airstrikes on suspected V.C. camps while thinking of his beloved son going blind. His brain becomes muddled with anger and alcohol as he says farewell to his annoying captain while a new squadron commander comes aboard. Father William offers up humor and friendship, and a new man arrives (referred to as Walrus), and the loyalty that grows between these men keeps the reader engrossed.

Individual war stories are told, as well as visits with the family who are waiting for the day “Daddy” can come back home. Readers learn that the cockpit was Jerry’s sanctuary—a place where he could think while flying above the madness. In fact, he wanted nothing more than to ride out the rest of the war peacefully. He came to understand that certain people down below were a lot like him. Their families, too, had been ripped apart. Destroyed by the foreign occupation, they now stare at craters where rice paddies used to be.

An assignment back to the States arrives, and the slow trickling of his final days add to Jerry’s nightmares. The ending of this memoir is not something you would guess as you begin Volume 1. Changes certainly occurred for Jerry Hall upon returning home. Perhaps the best lesson to take away from this memoir is the fact that we can change for the better. Perhaps it’s the fact that Jerry Hall crossed many lines, yet somehow found the power within himself to cross back over. But whatever the case may be, the downside remains that war has not become obsolete.

*Americans typically write Vietnam as one word. The Vietnamese use two, Viet Nam, when referring to their country. Out of respect, Jerry Hall chose this version.

Order online NOW!

Source:  Baret News

Heroes Never Wore a Mask

 

Heroes Never Wore a Mask

 

Although there are a few Marvel characters that donned the mask in order to hide their true identities, from their girlfriends, usually – the real heroes of this world go without one. You see, heroes are fighting for something. Whether you believe in their fight or not, they face the battle head-on, with their identities out there for the world to see.

 

eye-626870_640It is impossible to ever say that this world will not see another war. Everyone seems to want to fight for something, even though most of the ‘causes’ have grown meek. Greed, the wish for power, the belief that they are gods, the fight to be the industry’s best by going back to the times of robber barons…these are ‘causes’ that mean nothing and are only single pursuits that, by the way, fail.

 

Generation after generation has faced their enemies. We all know this. The uniforms changed, bringing forth a new rival that the opposite “side” could discern as the enemy. Take it back to the beginning of time, or before, when medieval men fought or when men in tunics followed Caesar. Yes, back then there were men who believed they were gods, as well – living on top of an acropolis surrounded by gold statues that depicted names, such as, Athena or Zeus. Oddly enough, however, they still did not cover their faces. Knights on horseback did, although they used the masks as armor, and always made sure that their enemy knew who they were battling.

 

Who knew generations would grow so angry that mere children would walk into grade schools with guns and shoot their friends? Some even then commit suicide. Children. In the recent past, grandparents who worried about their grandchildren being able to succeed in life, now fear if they will live long enough to succeed.

 

Politics certainly brings about battles. Debates, whether idiotic or intelligent, are held all the time. They debate to tell you what you either want to hear in order for them to take a chair of power, or tell you what they truly believe whether you like it or not, because they wish to change the world – for right or for wrong. Yet they wear no masks. Only silly smiles that humans can see through, if they would just look hard enough.

 

No one should have a gun set in their hands that has no understanding of what it does or the pain it can cause. “Rights” are fought for, without the end result being taken into account. And now, whether you wish to take 9/11, or the Paris tragedy from this past week, or a myriad of other horrors – masks were worn.

 

In someone’s mind they may be “following” others that fight for something important. Perhaps they are the “leaders” of those others telling them the fight is worth their lives and the lives of innocent others. And do not even claim these people who die are not innocent. When someone is going to work, or sitting at a concert, or having a meal with their children – they are innocent. When someone comes along and starts shooting, those victims remain innocent. They are not in positions of power that harm anyone else. They are people, families, children who really do wish to live to see themselves succeed.

 

This is not a political statement; it’s a belief, a question, a confusion, a need to understand why the world is doing what it’s Globe_hands2doing. Nothing changes with these actions. Only body counts rise. So, why? What are you proving?

 

A true hero will never wear a mask. A cover does not show strength, power, and it certainly shows no courage whatsoever. It shows only that you are a coward.

 

Sincerely,

A Grandparent

 

 

Source:  Baret News

Syrian War Prompts Calls for Dipping Into Doomsday Seed Storage Vault

 

Syrian War Prompts Calls for Dipping Into Doomsday Seed Storage Vault

By Burt Carey

Forget those Hollywood portrayals of doomsday preppers building fortified bunkers, storing food and other supplies, and hoarding cases upon cases of ammunition in preparation of post-Armageddon survival. There’s a real
Aleppo, Syria, International Center for Agricultural Research, Svalbard Global Seed Vault, “doomsday” facility, ICARDA, war, food backup, seed bankdoomsday vault above the Arctic Circle on a Norwegian island about 800 miles from the North Pole that stores more than 850,000 stocks of seed for grains and other crops around the world, and it’s being tapped for the first time.

Fighting in and near Aleppo, Syria, has caused officials from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to request a withdrawal of seed samples it provided to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, marking the first request of its type.

Aleppo’s occupation by armed factions is preventing experts from continuing their work developing and conserving seeds to grow cereals with resistance to drought and warm global temperatures. That’s one of the reasons the doomsday vault was opened in an abandoned mine in 2008.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, near Longyearbyen in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. Deep inside a mountain, permafrost guarantees the frozen preservation of a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicates of samples held in gene banks throughout the world. While the vault is commonly referred to as a “doomsday” facility, its very existence is an attempt at insuring against the loss of grains and other food-producing seeds due to large-scale regional or global crises.

Reuters reported that the seeds requested by researchers include samples of wheat, barley and grasses suited to dry regions to replace seeds in a gene bank near Aleppo that has been damaged by the war. Grethe Evjen, of the Norwegian Agriculture Ministry, said the seeds had been requested by ICARDA, which moved its headquarters from Aleppo to Beirut in 2012 because of the war.

ICARDA reportedly asked for nearly 130 boxes out of 325 it has in the vault, containing some 116,000 samples. It hopes to reproduce the samples at its facilities at American University in Beirut, and in Morocco.

“We are, of course, very sad and frustrated at the situation in Aleppo, but at the same time it shows that having a backup facility is important and it works,” said Asmund Asdal, who runs the vault on behalf of the Nordic Genetic Resources Center. “We hoped that we would never get such a request. Ideally, all the world’s seed gene banks would function normally but, of course, we are prepared for this.”

“These seeds are very valuable to the world,” ICARDA’s Director-General Mahmoud Solh told NBC News. “It is an important source for breeding programs, particularly for crops that have drought immunity or are resistant to the hotter temperatures we are getting because of global warming.”

The Svalbard seed bank has 865,871 samples from every country in the world, Asdal said, including countries that no longer exist. Before the facility was built in an abandoned coal mine, a feasibility study determined that the vault could preserve seed for most major food crops for hundreds of years.

Syria’s civil war has killed a quarter of a million people since 2011 and driven 11 million more from their homes, according to United Nations estimates.

History points to the importance of seed banks in general, and the Svalbard vault in particular. Seed gene banks in Iraq and Afghanistan were destroyed during wars in those countries, and a seed bank in the Philippines suffered damage due to flooding and then was destroyed by a fire. There are 1,750 seed banks around the world.

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle