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Terry W. Sprouse "Author, Storyteller, Lincoln-ologist" RSS Feed (Tucson, Arizona)

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I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend
I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars LIKE SHORT’S CAREER, FLASHES OF GREATNESS BUT UNEVEN, June 28, 2015
A nice bio of a funny and engaging comic.

Here are my key observations about “I Must Say.”

1) Humdinger Anecdotes.

Some of the anecdotes in the book are laugh out loud funny. Such as story about sitting next to Chevy Chase at the American Film Institute tribute to Gregory Peck. Charlton Heston stood up as his table and gave a characteristically windy, bombastic toast that concluded with the words, “I guess you could say, Greg, that I’ve been one luck guy.” To which Chevy boomed out at high volume, while still looking down and cutting his steak, “I’ll say!”

No one knew where the crack came from, including Heston, who glanced around the room, rattled, while Chevy calmly went on cutting his meat.

2) Hollywood Insight.

It was interesting that the studio wanted to cut out two of Short’s bits from “Three Amigos!” which were two of the funniest parts of the movie –Short’s character’s misguided attempt to impress the village children with an anecdote about how silent-screen actress Dorothy Gish told him “Young man, you have got it!” and, Short’s “sew like the wind!” comment.
Fortunately, director, John Landis, stood up to the studio heads, and happily the scenes stayed in the movie.

3) Shared Wisdom

I liked Short’s technique to avoid being overwhelmed or intimidated by people higher up the social latter then he, like Steve Martin and Chevy Chase were in “Three Amigos!”. He calls is his “immediate intimacy” philosophy where he does an impersonation of someone who is relaxed, loose, and not at all intimidated. He imagines himself three years in the future when he really will be relaxed with his new friends.

4) Short Hits a Triple but Not a Home Run

Unfortunately, the book, like Short’s career, is uneven. Sometimes Short gives us great insight into his life and hilarious observations. Other times, he is a little too self-congratulatory and rambling. A good edit to reel in the excesses could have made this book one of the best.

Despite the flaw’s, the book provided “A very decent time I must say.” (As Ed Grimely might remark.)


Do the Clearing: a step-by-step guide to living a happy life and getting what you want
Do the Clearing: a step-by-step guide to living a happy life and getting what you want
by John Benz
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46
10 used & new from $13.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I KNOW HOW ATLAS FELT WHEN HIS BURDEN WAS LIFTED, June 27, 2015
“Do the Clearing” is an excellent book that delivers big on what it promises.

As I began reading this book I had only moderate expectations. I thought I might learn a few god tips on how to get rid of my own excess baggage (both physical and mental). However, as I read examples of how other people had purged themselves and improved their lives by getting rid of unneeded possessions, something clicked inside me.

I was struck like a bolt of lightning with the thought, “Get rid of all those books that you don’t read anymore and the excess stuff in the extra bedroom.”

I stopped reading the book and immediately started putting books and unwanted possessions into bags, to dispose of them. Many of the books and other possessions I had stored were from a different era of my life, one that would never return.

The author asked us to evaluate each object that we own on the basis of “Does this make me feel powerful?” The possessions that I cleared out of my life, and the onerous feeling associated with them, made room for more positive possessions and feelings.

I also removed pictures and even a clock from my walls that did not pass the “”Does this make me more powerful” test. I sold some of the books at a used book store. The ones that didn’t sell I donated to Goodwill or they went in the trash. One way or another they had to go.

As I continued to read the book, I got flashes of other possessions that I needed to clear out. I would lay the book down and start to work clearing out those possessions. It was a back and forth process. Each time I cleared out more items, I felt a burden lifted from my shoulders.

I know how Atlas felt after removing the burden of the world from his shoulders.

I seemed to connect more with the first half of the book than the second half. However, I can see where the second half, which addresses clearing residual thoughts and dealing with past events in your life, could be useful to many people.

Overall, I got much more out of this book than I ever imagined. It’s one of a very few number of books I have read that had an immediate and positive impact on my life.


The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars CONTAINS 5 LINCOLN GEMS, June 13, 2015
My main goal in reading “The Hour of Peril” was to get a clear picture of how Lincoln responded to this crises (quotes and anecdotes) and I was not completely disappointed, although the main focus of the book was on detective Alan Pinkerton. Here are five Lincoln gems that I mined from the text that satisfied my longing.

1) The “Slow Horse” Story

At a whistle stop in Thornton, Indiana, Lincoln came to the rear platform of the train, as was his normal procedure, and apologized for declining to make a speech. He launched into an anecdote concerning an aspiring politician who owned a sluggish but sure-footed horse. “The horse was so confoundedly slow, however,” he continued, but just at this moment – before Lincoln could deliver his punch line – the train lurched away from the depot, cutting him off in mid-sentence.

At the next stop along the line, in Lebanon, Lincoln found that some of his supporters from Thorntown had chased the train and were “panting to hear the conclusion of the story.” Lincoln cheerfully took up where he had left off, explaining the he himself shared the dilemma of the owner of the plodding horse. If he stopped at every station to make a stump speech, he would not arrive in Washington until the inauguration was over.

2) “Lincoln Shows Endurance of Bronze Statures”

In some towns where Lincoln’s train passed, men would line up to shake his hand, with the result that his fingers were sore and swollen. According to John Hay: “From what I saw of the President’s coolness under the infliction of several thousand hand-shakings I should say that he unites the courage of Andrew Jackson and the sensibility to physical suffering which is usually assigned to bronze statues.”

3) “Hydrologic Embraces”

Following the first day on the train, a group of Springfield friends took leave of Lincoln to return home. After much melodramatic hugging, they went on their way. Afterwards, Lincoln commented on the ordeal of extracting himself from the “hydraulic embraces” of his friends.

4) “The Lincoln Formula”

In the interest of keeping the train schedule, Lincoln’s trackside routine had been honed to a concise formula. Here is how Joseph Howard of the New York Times summarized the procedure: “Crowds - enthusiasm – little speech – little bow – kissed little girl – God-blessed old man – recognized old friend – much affected.”

5) “Mutually Surpassed Each Other”

In New York City, Lincoln accepted a pair of new hats from rival manufacturers, and diplomatically avoided expressing a preference between the two, by affirming: “They mutually surpassed each other.”

While I would like to have seen more anecdotes about Lincoln himself, this book told a fascinating story.


The Assiduous Quest of Tobias Hopkins: The Complete Novel
The Assiduous Quest of Tobias Hopkins: The Complete Novel
by James Faro
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Hero's Journey, June 7, 2015
This tale is a classic Hero’s Journey” story, what Joseph Campbell refers to as "mankind’s one great story.” All the archetypal components are here. The young sea captain, Tobias Hobias, undertakes a dangerous quest to Virginia, fraught with peril. In the process, the course of his life in changed forever as Tobias is required to 1) solve a series of perplexing mysteries, 2) advance his spiritual growth, and 3) ascend to his rightful role in life.

Tobias is a sailor in the 17th century who is haunted by dreadful memories from his past. He is strong and determined yet there is also an air of mystery about him. Tobias, his first mate John, and crew encounter a permeating sense of danger and foreboding as they unravel the mysteries that drive them relentlessly on.

There is plenty of action and humor to keep us glued to the story and on the edge of our seats.


The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood
The View from the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood
by Nicholas Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.00
63 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars ENLIGHTENED ANALYSIS from THE MAN WHO SAVED STAR TREK, June 4, 2015
In 1979, the Star Trek movie franchise had almost driven off a cliff by the hugely disappointing release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Fans went into movie theaters in droves to see the return of their favorite television series, only to be slapped in the face with overly long, poorly edited, and boring production. Did I mention that it was way too long?

Paramount gave Star Trek one more chance to make a good film. If they failed, it was mothballs for the Starship Enterprise. In steps Nicolas Meyer, from stage right, fresh from his hit movie, “Time After Time,” took over the helm as director of Star Trek II and steer the ship out of danger and secure the future of the franchise. Meyer wrote, directed, or wore both hats, in the three best Star Trek films, Star Trek II: the Wrath of Kahn, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

To say that Meyer worked well under pressure would be a colossal understatement. By the time he came onboard the troubled production of Star Trek II, a was needed a script in 12 days to meet their June deadline for release of the film. How did he do it?

I really liked Meyer’s description of the creative process involved:

“The process involved no sleep. The artist goes a lot (most?) of the time on intuition. On his or her gut.

According to Socrates, artists are like children, who make no sense except when they create at which to point they go into a kind of trance, during which time they take dictation from God – and this they term ‘inspiration.’

I was probably in some sort of trancelike state, sleep-deprived state and pumping adrenaline like an oil well gusher. I think neurologists refer to this as a ‘State of Flow’.”

The rest is movie history. Star Trek II was a big hit both artistically and financially. The regular crew was back, along with the inspired casting of a young, charismatic Kirstie Alley as the Vulcan, Lt. Saavik.

This book “boldly goes where no Star Trek book has gone before.” Much more than merely a memoir, Meyer provides the insight into the production, personalities, and most intriguingly, an enlightened analysis of the underlying processes, as only a writer of the highest pedigree could do. He has a flair for putting things into perspective, like Mr. Spock, as if viewing things from above, from a loftier perch than the rest of us mere mortals.

The only mild criticism I have of the book, is that some of that later chapters dealing with Meyer’s subsequent (non-Star Trek) film projects, did not have the same magnetic appeal as the earlier chapters. Interesting yes. Spellbinding no.

This does nothing to tarnish the overall quality of this inspired and inspiring book!

Highly recommended.


Star Trek Memories
Star Trek Memories
by William Shatner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.43
78 used & new from $4.21

5.0 out of 5 stars Shatner Delivers the Goods, at Warp 10, June 3, 2015
This review is from: Star Trek Memories (Paperback)
As a long-time fan of the original Star Trek series, my love and appreciation was rekindled by the recent broadcasting of the show on network television. To my great good fortune I came across “Star Trek Memories” in a used book store and devoured it like a lion with raw meat.

For anyone desiring to lean more to learn more about the making of this venerable television series, and who wouldn’t, this book is required reading.

William Shatner delivers the goods, at Warp 10. His recollections are heart-warming, hilarious, and yes, even inspirational. It seems that Captain Kirk learned a great lesson in the process of researching of this book and became a better ship’s captain for having done so.

To his astonishment, he discovered that his four shipmates, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov and Sulu despised him because he was an egotistical maniac (a la the genetically engineered superman Khan) and unsympathetic co-star. But, Kirk rights the ship by apologizing and acknowledging the error of his ways and extending the olive leaf to his disgruntled shipmates. (As he made peace with the Horta in “Devil in the Dark,” Shatner’s favorite episode.)

By including the observations by the other members of the cast and crew (including directors, producers and writers) we get a fascinating look at the series from all angles. Shatner really did his homework, unlike when he defeated the Kobayashi Maru no-win simulation.

Shatner’s extended history of series creator, Gene Roddenberry (“the Great Bird of the Galaxy”) which I anticipated would be boring, turned out to be extremely interesting. Without that key section about the genius behind the show, the story of Star Trek would be far from complete.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book was Shatner’s interaction with Leonard Nimoy. Shatner’s tale of a practical joke carried way beyond any rationality, came to be known as “the great bicycle heist.”

Nimoy purchased a bicycle so that he could get the studio cafeteria ahead of the rest of the crew and Shatner made it his mad obsession to hide Nimoy’s bike each day. The coup de grace of Shatner’s high jinks was that each day he would hide the bike in a place where Nimoy could see it, but not actually be able to use it. For example, inside a car, inside a locked room with a window, hanging from the rafters. Each time, Nimoy would be more enraged by the prank.

Everyone would be standing around laughing and the irate Nimoy would say, “Is this funny? Is it funny to hide a guy’s bike?”

Do yourself a favor. Beam this book onboard.

I also liked Star Trek writer and director Nicholas Meyer’s book, “The View From the Bridge.”


Clarence. The Snake from Dunolly
Clarence. The Snake from Dunolly
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful for Children and Parents, May 27, 2015
Clarence is a curious young snake who has exciting and humorous adventures.

“Clarence the Snake in Dunolly” is an enchanting storybook that teachers and parents can read aloud to their younger elementary aged children. Slightly older children can read the stories themselves. Each chapter is a self-contained story that would intrigue children and teach them a nice moral as well.

One of the things I really liked about the stories is that some of the words are commonly used in Australian English, but not in U.S. English. However, these words are easily understood in the context of the story.

I think this adds another dimension of learning as the teacher or parent can ask the children questions to enhance learning, such as “what do you think a currawong is?” or “what is a paddock?” or “what is a ute?” The answers are “a crow,” a “meadow,” and a “pick-up truck,” respectively.

I went to YouTube and listened to a video of the beautiful singing of the currawong. It differs from the American crow in that way and it can also have white feathers mixed in with the black on its body.

This is a delightful books that children will love, and parents will have fun reading to them. In addition, it has the added advantage of teaching appreciation of another culture.


Take Action! and Start your own Business (Action for a better life Book 2)
Take Action! and Start your own Business (Action for a better life Book 2)
Price: $3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Time-tested tools, April 29, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
“Take Action and Start Your Own Business” is not like the latest “book de jour” get rich quick scheme. Rather, it is much more useful because it provides us with the essential time-tested tools to start a business. And, the author illustrates his points with helpful practical examples and stories from his own extensive experience.

The chapter on Marketing was particularly interesting to me, as an author who is always looking for new ways to promote my books. As with other chapters, the author doesn’t offer glitzy, impractical ways to promote a business, but he relies on time tested techniques that have worked for him. I really appreciated the venerable techniques he suggested, such as:

1. Stay in touch with people (clients in particular) – send notes or call people to congratulate them on their birthday or anniversary.
2. Help other people – go out of your way to solve their problems, “be relentlessly helpful.”
3. Treat people with respect – “want to make a million. Simple, help a million people.”

As the author wisely points out, sooner or later in our lives we will all lose a job and be in a position where we must rely on ourselves to get through tough economic times. At that point, when we are powerfully motivated, starting a business can be a viable option.

This book is a great place to begin.


The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI
The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI
by Betty Medsger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.69
92 used & new from $3.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Like Batman's Nemesis "Two Face", April 27, 2015
The Burglary is actually two stories under one cover, like Batman’s nemesis “Two-Face” (Harvey Dent).

One story is thrilling and moves along at a fast pace, like a Ferrari. The other story is informative, but not thrilling and plods along like plow horse. The two stories are intertwined, with one story told in one chapter and the other story told in the following chapter.

The thrilling story tells us about the adventures of the eight ordinary citizens that did the extraordinary task of stealing files from an FBI office. I was immediately taken in by the situation they found themselves in, having their rights to freedom of speech abused by a hostile government and more hostile FBI. It was fascinating to follow them through the different stages of their lives – the planning, the execution of the burglary, the fear of imminent capture of FBI agents hanging over their heads for years to come, and how they lived their lives after the burglary.

The informative story tells the FBI side of the story. Unfortunately, this story is just not as interesting and it is a bit repetitive at times. I found myself skipping through the FBI sections to get back to the narrative about the burglars.

I would give 5 stars to the burglar story and 3.5 stars to the FBI story. Hence, a strong 4 star rating overall for a book that I highly recommend.


Night Speed Zero
Night Speed Zero
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Put Down, April 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Night Speed Zero (Kindle Edition)
Night Speed Zero is an original and mind bending compilation of stories.

I especially liked one of the earlier tales where a 90-something gentleman gets accosted by three young thugs, while trying to find his car in the parking lot. I could feel the sinking feeling of the old man’s fading memory inhibited his search, The fear was palpable when the thugs intimidate and threaten him. Yet, in a surprising twist, with a dash of dark humor, the old man triumphs over evil.

Some of the stories are like the Twilight Zone on forty- weight caffeine.

Warning. Once you start reading this book, it’s hard to put down. These scary and bizarre stories are guaranteed to send chills down your back.


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