Thanks! For What?

I never really know how thankful I am until after Thanksgiving. At work, thank you is currency. I help dozens of people everyday and most times all it costs them is a thank you. You can tell a lot about a person by their thank you. I believe you can tell how thankful people are by their thank you’s. Often a thank you is not enough for some people, and I’ve been on the receiving end of many “have a blessed day.” This is not to be confused with a “bless your heart,” which is sometimes how people respond when I tell them I’m an amputee. Sometimes you can take thank you’s for granted, after all, it’s just a verbal gesture of politeness really. But it can be like a conversational black hole when you don’t get one. Sometimes what’s not said says it all. I’ve helped a patron hundreds of times for the last 9 years and I don’t recall her ever thanking me. I don’t take it personally, it is just who she is, and instead she will say, “I was just wonderin.” Actually, she reminds me a bit of my Grandma Samry, who was a widow for a long time and became more guarded as she got older, but honestly, she was always a bit ornery. Of course the opposite is the person who seemingly has to be the last word in an exchange, and it has nothing to do with appreciation. Ultimately, the outliers give me perspective. I appreciate all the regular and sincere thank you’s even more.

It’s nice to be appreciated at work, but this year is personally special. We moved into our new home in August. I had a poem published, my wife Sue and I have been healthy, and Oh, did I mention I made the final cut of USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage. It’s streaming now on Amazon and iTunes. If you watch it, pay particular attention to the Spam scene. About ten minutes later, there is a “high wide” of us in the raft rogether. The movie, in my opinion and many of the people I know who have seen it, is better than the reviews.

But the biggest news is that over the weekend my mom relocated to Fairhope, Alabama from Falmouth, Massachusetts. She joins my sister, who moved here in January. Three out of my four siblings live in Fairhope now. Yep, sorry southerners, more Damn Yankees! As life long Red Sox fans, please try to refer to us as Northerners.

Anyway, it’s unbelievable. I spent Monday morning sitting in mom’s new apartment. The relocation was postponed a few times over the last year or so. Her health, lack of wealth, and her attitude needed to align before it happened. Now it has!

Last time I saw her she was in the hospital after a fall that cracked her head open like a coconut and left her in a halo for six weeks. On top of that it happened on Mother’s Day. In her 80s she went jumping on the bed… and then fell off, hitting her head on a hotel bureau on the way down. Seeing her on the floor a few minutes after it happened, I’m thankful she’s still alive. Schilling just had the ‘bloody sock.’ My mom had well… there’s a picture, but we would never share it. The doctors ‘say’ she suffered no permanent damage, but it’s gonna take her another six months to fully recover from the trauma. She never expects the pain in her neck to go away. “It joins the pain in the middle of my back,” she says.
It was wonderful to be at our Monday Night Thanksgiving Welcome Home Party with family. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my mom and the rest of my family of 15, which includes two Canadians. And not just for a few hours on a holiday, but year round right here in Fairhope.


Are You Watching?


If you live in LA, let me personally invite you to a free Watch Party at Fairhope Public Library as we stream the movie USS Indianapolis: Men of  Courage. I have not seen the film, so we will find out together if I made the final cut. We’re playing it on the big screen in the Giddens room, which is also one of four theater locations for next week’s Fairhope Film Festival. I encourage anyone who was involved with the film’s production, shot mostly along the Gulf Coast, to join us. Fingers crossed and over the ‘pause’ button!

If you are unable to join us, the movie is available to rent from Amazon Prime and iTunes for $9.99. If you choose to stream it privately, please, no spoiler alerts as to whether my scene in the raft with Nic Cage actually made it into the movie.

Read about my time on the set from  Day one, Day two, and Day three.


When’s Your Movie Out?

People have been asking me when USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is being released. While I’m flattered by this, it is not my movie. I’m one of two amputee extras in the film and I am in the trailer, twice. Check the 1 minute 47 second mark and the 3 minute 10 second frame. You’ll have to pause it because if you blink you’ll miss me. I’m in the raft with Nic for both scenes. I’m in the foreground (‘an important position,’ according to Merriam-Webster), and leading with my stump. The top of my head is covered in a rag, and I’m leaning over the side of the raft.

According to Wikipedia, the movie premiered in Russia September 22, 2016. It was also released last month in the Philippines.

US Release?

Internet Movie Database up until a few days ago said it would be in theaters Veteran’s Day, November 11.

As of today, IMBD says, “Coming Soon: In Theaters October 14.” What theaters?

The official Facebook page for the movie is silent on when and how it will be released.

The movie is absent from the list of movies coming soon to Carmike and AMC cineplexes.

Unfortunately, a bootlegged version available with English subtitles is already on the internet. As much as I want to watch the movie to see if I’m it, I don’t want to support piracy. So, I’m waiting, and I encourage my readers to do the same.

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is facing the same problems as Nic Cage’s last Gulf Coast movie. Tokarev, aka Rage, was pirated, and never officially released. A Russian DVD version is available or you can stream it on Amazon.

Is there an “official release” for my movie? Well, don’t ask me, I’m stumped. I will be looking for updates and checking Netflix and Amazon to see if it becomes available to stream and I will post again when I learn more. If you have some thoughts, news, or updates about the movie, please share them in the comments.

In the meantime, check out my posts One Two and Three about my movie extra experience.



Why Do People Work at the Library?

“Reference Librarians are the library’s eyes and ears.” Charles W. Bailey, “The Role of Reference Librarians in Institutional Repositories”

A coworker gave me that quote last week.

“Mom, why do people work here?” The 8-year old girl asked as she was walking out of youth services and past the reference desk. The musings of a child, how precious. And curious, like me, but she didn’t ask me.

Mom said, “They need someone to shelve the books and stuff.” What did she say? Hufflepuff, Pufnstuf, Fluff? Here’s some of the “stuff” from just a busy few minutes yesterday morning.

So I had just walked an 89-year-old woman through getting ebooks downloaded to her Overdrive App. In between that I was helping a patron put a hold on Saving Sophie, and simultaneously telling another person how to log in to one of our computers with their library card to surf the web, and then I had a group of eight Latter Day Saints Mission women sign up to use our computer lab. Many of the young women were visiting from their neighboring mission locations, including Atmore and Mobile. I felt like the Fairhope ambassador, which I love doing. While all this was going on, I had a patron patiently waiting to hand me something for helping him in the past. I shortchanged my attention to him, because I had too many other things going on. He wondered off, but I found this later.

When The Girl with the Pearl Question walked by, I was in the middle of creating a sign for the Frances Durham Poetry collection, and noted her role in founding The Pensters, a local writing group that began at the Fairhope Public Library in 1965. While in the midst of that I helped a man in a wheelchair using a computer to print for the first time using our printing station.

Later on, I found the books below.

As it turns out, I’m not just the eyes and ears of the library. As usual, mom was right. I do shelve books and stuff.


How Do You Move Your Books?

My friend took these bookmobile pictures when she attended a “summer fete” in Vaour, France. You don’t see many book vans in America. They are usually modified buses or trucks. This van ranks right up there with The A-Team, Charlie Varrick, Chris Farley’s ‘van down by the river’ and The Mystery Machine.

My Books

We sold our house on Friday. Our new house is being built in Fairhope by Benchmark Homes and should be finished in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, my books, along with most everything we own, is being temporarilly stored in a climate controlled storage facility. PODS (Portable On Demand Storage) picked up our packed POD the same day. Below are pictures of the PodZilla picking up our “stuff.”


What I’m Reading


This is the only book from my home library that I didn’t pack. I’m reading it while we (and the stuff that didn’t fit in the POD) stay at Sue’s mom and dad’s until our new house is finished.

New Home for Books

We are super excited about moving in! Here are some pictures from last week. If you want to view more pictures of our progress and see future new house posts, visit Home Building.




Would You Save Your Amputated Leg?

Here’s a few stump related media moments and materials. Thanks for reading and Happy Independence Day.

finders keepers

I finally got around to watching Finders Keepers, a documentary that my friend and fellow Fairhoper Jack Daily recommended to me a few months back. Jack knows about my fascination with all things amputee or library related. If you are not sure about this one, Here’s a link to Internet Movie Database and the trailer.

Somehow this true story and I never crossed paths, but it is a funny, sad, and strange tale that takes place in North Carolina. It made headlines around the world, The Telegraph, CNN, and hundreds of others news outlets back in 2007. Finders Keepers is about John Wood, an amputee, and Shannon Whisnant, the man who finds Wood’s partially embalmed leg in, of all things, a barbecue grill.

The movie is a battle over the possession of John’s amputated leg, which he left in a grill inside his self storage unit. At some point he stopped paying his bill.

Shannon purchased the contents of the unit at an auction, including the remains. In a move that would make P. T. Barnum proud, Shannon wanted to sell tickets so people can see the remains of John’s leg on display, supposedly in the grill that he found them in.

John somehow gets possession of the leg back, and tells everyone it’s his leg and he wants to keep it. Shannon wants it back and in true “Finders Keepers” fashion, he goes to court to get it back. Not just any court though. The case is heard by Judge Mathis. By that point we have learned much, good and bad, about the personal struggles of these two good old boys and their bizarre family histories.

Thanks for the “win win winning” recommendation Jack. It’s available for streaming on Netflix, or check your local library. I highly recommend it, especially for Ripley’s Believe It Not fans, amputees, or anyone interested in a strange story.

Rock Legs


I don’t know what compelled me to watch this link that appeared in my social media feed, but I’m glad I did. I’m not a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, but I love this Carpool Karaoke bit. While it was funny, and entertaining in parts (it’s a bit long), the big payoff for amputees came around the 8.30 minute. The Late Late Show host James Corden asks the band members about their best rock moment. Chad Smith, (AKA Will Ferrell) tells a fantastic story about what he saw during a live performance many years ago. You can watch the whole thing, but here’s Chad’s rock moment.

Chad: We played a festival in Holland many years ago and out in the crowd I saw two guys having a fight with their prosthetic legs…One had a shoe on and the other one didn’t.

Travel Legs

If you are passing through T. F. Green Airport in Providence RI make sure you check out the “display of legs.” My sister Laurie sent me this photo. I noticed they actually change out the prostheses in the case every year or so.

Armed with Fiction

This title showed up in the Baldwin County library catalog recently.


From the Publisher (St. Martin’s)

After having his left arm amputated due to a car accident, Aaron is forced to return to his boyhood home to recuperate. Disappearing into a fog of pain killers, the only true joy in his life comes from the daily 90-second radio spots of science fun facts and the disembodied voice of Sunny Lee.



When Does Your Summer Begin?


Here on the Gulf Coast students get out of school before Memorial Day. Temperatures have been in the 90s this week. For me, summer begins with the first meeting of my creative writing class at Fairhope Public Library.

I’m fortunate to offer the class on a quarterly basis, but I enjoy the summer sessions the most. Last June, the age range of my students was 18-86. This year is shaping up to be just as diverse with a full class of high school students and seniors. The range of ages also makes it a bit more challenging to prepare for, and I love the challenge. I think this is a product of not having lesson plans. No, actually it’s a product of constantly changing the readings, in-class discussions, and the writing exercises. Although I don’t have any students who have taken the course before, I like to keep it fresh by introducing new material. I always include something about amputees, writing forms, and some of my favorite writings. Where I switch things up is in the discussion topics and the writing exercises.

Rather than teaching someone how to upload a file, print a document, read books on the Overdrive App, or provide a refresher on the Dewey Decimal System, all things I love to do as a reference librarian, the writing class gives me the opportunity to share what I’ve learned about the art of creative writing.

Here’s to the start of summer.