The Whiskey and Book Club ep. 2 with Jim Cornelius from Frontier Partisans

It has been a cruel eight months of waiting, but our long national nightmare is finally over—episode two of the Whiskey and Book Club is up at YouTube.  Joining me for the second episode of the Whiskey and Book Club is the indefatigable Jim Cornelius from Frontier Partisans.  In addition to his long running Frontier Partisans blog, Jim has recently launched a Frontier Partisans podcast.  His first, four-part series focuses on Kit Carson.


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Oddments: Feeling Thankful

We finally closed on our new house the week before Thanksgiving, finalizing my move back to Appalachia (although I’d already been in my empty apartment for a couple months).  This is our third house, and we are still in our thirties.  Which probably isn’t that impressive.  Even these days, the age of the average first-time homebuyer is only 32.  The three houses thing is mostly a function of repeatedly moving across the country.  I am proud that we went from 5% down to 10% to 20% down.

Dave Ramsey is fond of saying that young couples want to start with the standard of living it took their parents 35 years to build.  It is a good point, and a lot of people need to hear it.  But I exceeded my parents’ standard of living the day I walked out of grad school.  I’ve been broke since then, but I haven’t been poor.  Broke and poor aren’t the same thing.  I’ve been well off, broke, and poor—there is a very clear hierarchy among the three.

I’ve never lived the way my parents did.  Doing it as a kid isn’t the same.

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Oddments: “Bye Y’all”

Our two-year-old no-angel hit an important developmental milestone the other day—she said y’all for the first time.  She said “bye y’all” to her grandparents (after hanging up on them, but we will keep working on that).

My entire childhood I was told by teachers that y’all is ungrammatical, that its use would mark me as ignorant.  Both assertions were bullshit.

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Whiskey and Book Club ep. 1 with Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer

Between transitioning at work and taking care of a toddler most of the day, and the stress of watching COVID-19 chew through America, I don’t have a lot of time and energy for reading and less for writing blog posts.  The solution?  Avoiding the hard work of writing by recording a YouTube video instead, something that only requires talking and drinking (although the latter is not, as I understand it, strictly required).

Joining me for the inaugural episode of the Whiskey and Book Club ep. 1 is the inestimable Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer.  You might know Andrea as the founder of Vintage Science Fiction Month.

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Hillbilly Highways is on Temporary Quasi-Hiatus

Real life commitments already cut my blogging time way, way down even before the shit hit the fan.  Now I am doing everything I already barely had time to do, plus transitioning all my classes online and taking care of no-angel most of the day since we took her out of daycare.

I don’t plan to stop posting entirely, but I also don’t want to possibly go weeks without posting without explanation.  Things are going to get worse before they get better.  I don’t expect my situation to change in a couple weeks, especially since I am in a position to more easily social distance than most people.

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Oddments: A Dang Fine Coat

I turned 38 earlier this month.  An unremarkable age, on the whole, although it does have one bit of significance.  When I graduated high school I set out into the world; when I turned 19 I asked for a man’s coat.  My mom bought me a Carhartt duck coat[1] from an outlet shop in BFE connected to a gas station.  I still have that coat, which means that I have now owned it for half of my life.

That Carhartt coat has been with me through a lot.  I drank many a beer by many a fire on many a cold mountain night wearing that coat.  It would get me through two winters in Chicago and serve me well on my return to the Rust Belt (I did add a heavier Carhartt duck coat).  It is still holding strong 19 years later.  It is a little worse for wear, but then I am too.  There is wear at the end of the sleeves, probably because it is a bit too big.  And it is a little faded.  But I think it might have another 19 years in it.

[1] I picked up the term from Cormac McCarthy’s great Border trilogy.

Oddments: On Not Being Scots-Irish

Scots-Irish is almost synonymous with hillbilly in the US.  Scots migrated first from Scotland to Ulster (not Northern Ireland), then to the US, often entering through Philadelphia, walking west until they hit properly tilted country, then working their way down the Appalachian Mountains (at the time America’s “backcountry”).  But many Scots immigrants never detoured through Ulster.  More importantly, as David Hackett Fischer points out in Albion’s Seed, a large portion of that immigration wave were from northern England.  They weren’t from Scotland at all.

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October Month-in-Review and Blog Update

For the last year and a half I have published at least three posts each week across both blogs—a Music Monday post at Hillbilly Highways on Monday, a speculative fiction post at Every Day Should Be Tuesdays on Tuesdays, and a country noir or hillbilly studies post at Hillbilly Highways on Wednesdays.  Not to mention the occasional Throwback Thursday post at Every Day Should Be Tuesday and New Music Friday post at Hillbilly Highways.  It’s fun, but it’s also a grind.  All while I have been getting continually busier professionally and personally, bringing a tiny human into the world and twice having to drop everything for a week and head down those hillbilly highways on short notice to tend to a family emergency.

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Oddments: Top Five Hallowreads at Hillbilly Highways

I have a couple more Hallowreads coming for y’all.  I am several stories into Harlan County Horrors, edited by Mari Adkins, and after that I will start Congregations of the Dead by James A. Moore and Charles R. Rutledge.  I am also somewhat distracted by watching AMC’s Preacher.  But I will get reviews posted of both by Halloween.  In the meantime, I’ve already reviewed some pretty damn good horror here at Hillbilly Highways.

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Spooky Country Noir Reads

I did not move this far north to deal with near 90 degree temps in September.  I love the fall, and that means crisp temps, college football, and . . . Halloween.  And, for me, Halloween means reading.  Really, all of those things mean reading, because I really like reading.  Not reading horror, necessarily, but the Halloween season is an exception.  In the past I have focused on older horror at Every Day Should Be Tuesday, running a series of posts on Frankenstein and a series of posts on the horror of Robert E. Howard.  This year I am bringing it home to Hillbilly Highways.  Ghost stories are a rich part of my cultural heritage, and country noir offers plenty of spooky options.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings.

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