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Archive for February, 2012

Charles Dickens and his Secret Teenage Lover

Charles Dickens, one of the greats of english literature whose image was that of a pillar of Victorian morality would have been right at home with today’s sex scandals.

In 1953, when future biographer Claire Tomalin was studying English literature at Cambridge, she came across intriguing refrences  to a figure named Ellen “Nelly” Ternan, a young stage actress of minor reputation. In two separate distinguished biographies on Dickens both mentioned “this girl hanging about (the author), and they were both scathing about her,” Tomalin recalls. “She was (described as) this mercenary, who made Dickens’ kids unhappy, but to whom he seemed very attached. I sensed there was a story there.”. Cut to three decades later, Tomalin, then literary editor of the Sunday Times, mentioned her interest in Ternan to David Parker, curator of the Dickens Museum in London. He encouraged her to write Ternan’s biography.

Tomalin spent the next few years piecing together clues in letterrs, address books, diaries and photographs as she traced the arc of the secretive 13-year liaison between the great author and the actress. The result was her celebrated 1991 book, The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens

Ternan met Dickens in 1857, when she, her mother and sisters were actors in a play he was producing. Dickens was 45; Trenan was 18. Anxious to preserve his image as a pillar of Victorian morality, Dickens purchased a house for her near London, where he visited her secretly. Dickens seemed both to revel in and regret the affair. Dickens and Ternan apparently destroyed all correspondence between them but Tomlin says, “there was plenty of material,” including details about Ternan in missives by Dickens children: Both his son Henry and daughter Katey, for example, “confirmed that (the couple) had a child,  and it died.” Tomalin believes that Nelly and the child, said to be a boy who did not survive infancy, had been sequestered in France.

In 1876, six years after Dickens death, Ternan, then 37, married a clergyman 12 years her junior;  they had two children, neither of whom learned of the relationship with Dickens until long after their mother’s death.

Having been rescued from obscurity by Tomalin, Ternan is about to to take center stage a second time; Ralph Fiennes will direct and star in a film adaption of  The Invisible Woman, with Felicity Jones in the title role, shooting is set to begin perhaps this Spring.

Looking forward to this movie and one other  thing I’m looking forward to are your comments on any of my earlier postings. Having your feedback will help me learn what you like and of even more importance what you don’t like so I can continue to make my blogsite a permanent part of your on line life.

One question for you. Do you know anyone interested in starting a businees of their own or perhaps you may be. After all my blog site is HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE. If you or someone you know would be interested in my special offer to visitors of this site…my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE. Save $10 from its published price at Amazon only $29.95 plus $3.50 s&h. Total $33.45 checks or money orders can be sent to SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601. All books sold on money back guarantee of satisfaction.

Using Platitudes In Your Marketing Messages Can Kill You!

Well, not literally “you” but if you are in business for yourself or into blogging for fun or have to write sales letters for someone else’s business, using platitudes can kill your marketing.

Saying you’re different and then acting the same, smelling the same, tasting the same, looking the same and offering virtually the same product  and service, makes you a LIAR!

These words of wisdom come from Rich Harshaw and his very useful on line site Monopolize Your Marketplace.

When you use platitudes in your marketing, your prospects have no way to tell if you are any better or any worse than anyone else.

What’s a platitude? A platitude is “any words or phrases that are drearily commonplace and predictable and that lack power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition that are nevertheless stated as though they are original or significant.”

Words like–

  • High Quality
  • Great Service
  • Amazing Products
  • Been in Service for Over 20 YEARS

Words and phrases that fall smack dab into the platitude bucket do absolutely nothing to help you explain your value to the prospect, and worse, they actually hurt your credability with the prospect.

Why? Simple.

Regardless of how cool your product actually is or how revolutionary your service has become, when you advertise it using platitudes you sound like every other average product or service offering out there. You literally become a  duck in a sea of ducks in the pond quacking at the same  time and are indistinguishable to your prospect.

When building your marketing, you need to prepare your case as thoroughly as an attorney would prepare a case for court.

In court, the attorney’s case can mean the difference between freedom or incarceration. Between life and death. In your business, your case for your product or service means the difference between success and failure. Think about your marketing and advertising strategy this way: Your product or service is on trial. The consumer is the jury. You are the attorney…and you must educate the jury on all the relevant issues and prove to them that you offer the best value available…and it’s a life-or-death sentence. Your job is to define the relevant issues, come up with all the proof, all the arguments, all the evidence and present it in a way that the jury believes you. Remember, your prospects are the jury!

PLATITUDES WON’T CUT IT!

Ultimately, if you present your case for your product or service in a compelling and convincing way, you’ll build confidence with your prospects and bridge the confidence gap. They’ll feel like they’re in control of the decision. You’ll have business coming to you because you will have effectively separated yourself from your competition. Just like the jury draws the conclusion of guilt or innocence, so will your prospects. They’ll feel like they’d have to be a fool to do business with anyone else but you, regardless of price.

If the idea of starting your own business  that you can operate from home from anywhere in the world then give some thought to MAIL ORDER. With the power of Internet to sell your product or service on line, it doesn’t matter if you live in Wyoming or Pennsylvania, in Canada or Italy or if you prefer to run your business from the Bahamas, then mail order is for you.

Take advantage of my special offer to readers of my blog to order my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE today. It’s sold on a money back guaaantte of satisfaction, available from Amazon at the published price of $39.95 plus s&h or direct from the publisher for only $29.95 plus $3.50 s&h (Total $33.45) Send a check or money order for $29.95 plus $3.50 (Total $33.45) to: SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601

Death comes to visit the living – Jeff Zaslow’s tragic passing.

This blog post is dedicated to someone I knew only through his writing. Jeff Zaslow was a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. His untimely death occurred Friday February 10. The words are not mine but someone who knew the deceased well, who worked with him, shared good times with him and admired him.

Neil Steinberg is also a columnist for the Sun-Times and a damned good one as was Jeff Zaslow. Since this is my blog and I can post anything I care to, here is Neil’s column from the February 15 edition of the Chicago Sun Times.

Ludwick Wittgenstein’s Tractus Logico- Philosophicus is a list of numbered propositions, each leading to the next. Number 6.4311 begins “Death is not an event in life. Death is not lived through.” For the person who has died, that is. That person is whisked away to whatever reward awaits us after death.

It is those of us who live through death, big time, who must cope with it, particularly accidental death, which radiates outward, sending shock waves, first to those at the scene, stunned to find death intruding onto an ordinary day. Then to the oficialdom who must deal with death regularly and handle the particulars. Then exploding into the lives of family, who suffer the most and, finally the thunderclap reaches the outer world, where people hear it and look up, moved to the degree they knew the deceased.

Jeff Zaslow died in a car accident Friday, as you’ve probably heard. Longtime Sun-Times readers will fondly recall his thoughtful, human and funny advice column that ran from 1987 until 2001, or his best selling books such as The Last Lecture.

I don’t do grief well–I’m self-centered and over-analytical, a bad mix–and no sooner feel loss then immediately start  questioning it, to see if it’s legitimate. Jeff’s death came as a sickening shock, yet I instantly pulled back, certain that I occupy  too distant an orbit among his concentric circles of friends to be entitled to feel awful, which is reserved for his wife and daughters and family, the true epicenter of suffering. Any hurt I feel must be ersatz, overdramatic.

No matter How I tried to focus my  thoughts on others–Jeff’s genius, the key to his life: he was a big-hearted, generous man, a true friend–I kept returning  to my own experiences with him. Memories bubbled up, random stuff. as if my brain were venting everything it knew about Jeff Zaslow, from the fact  that at birth, he was delivered by Dr. C. Everett Koop, the future Surgeon General, to his sister’s hand-made picture frames, to his love of Bruce Springsteen–we once went to a concert together–to the day, almost 25 years ago, Jeff was being given his welcoming tour of the Sun-Times newsroom and I hurried over, curious to discover just what kind of idiot leaves a job writing front page stories for the Wall Street Journal to advise women how to get stains out of a broadloom rug on page 27 of the Sun-Times.

If a Russian novelist tried to create two separate characters to split the spectrum of qualities a writer can possess, might cook up Jeff–happy, concerned for others, frenetic, sincere–and me: melancholy, self-absorbed, shambling, scarcastic. Jeff wanted to help everybody. He held  those enormous Zass Bashes at Navy Pier because he got so many letters from lonely people, and wanted to fix them up with each other, to give each one a shot at the joy he found with his own wife, Sherry. I thought he was crazy. “Jeff”, I’d say. “You’re not a social service.”

When I got the awful news–we have the same literary agency–I dutifully phoned it in to the newspaper. “Do you want to write something?” an editor asked. I said “No.” The planet of my ego is such– think Jupiter–I knew it would be impossible to launch a tribute to Jeff without having it circle back and crash into myself. “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” is the final line of Wittgenstein’s book. Good advice. I wanted to honor Jeff by shutting up, an under appreciated art form.

But silence felt even worse. We Jews bury our own, and standing at Jeff’s graveside, mutely waiting for my turn with the shovel, I stared at my shoes and tried to block out the sound of his daughters weeping. “This is the worst thing in the world,” I thought. “I hate this I hate this I hate this”.

Silence has no utility, it isn’t a sharp enough blade to scrape at the icy loss that Jeff’s death frosts over the world. I wish I could wrap this up tidily, with an inspiring  thought that counterbalances the tragedy in the world and leaves you with a smile. Jeff was so good at that. Alas, he is not here, a hard fact that touches on the often cruel nature of life, one that we lucky enough to have known Jeff will struggle with for a long time.

Thanx, Neil for allowing me to share this with my small group of bloggerfriends. If my mother were still alive and I could have read her this column, she would have said to me in Yiddish “Gut Gazooked”…roughly translated as “Well said”.

When the Weather Outside is Frightful – Winter’s many Hidden Hazards

Home for me is Chicago and we are having one of the mildest winters I can recall. Very little snow (by Chicago standards) and not even all that cold (again by Chicago standards) but if you are reading this and your winter weather is frightful, here are some helpful tips courtesy of THE INK WELL who publish a monthly printed newsletter sent to their customers.

Depending on where you live, a covering of fluffy snow and the glisten of icicles can be beautiful signs of the season. However, winter can also come with many hidden hazards.

Here are a few must-know tips to keep you safe and healthy.

Did you know indoor radon gas is one of the leading causes of lung cancer? Radon levels can increase at a deadly rate during cool months when windows are closed, so it’s important to test your home for radon. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/radon.

If your furnace or other heat source stops working, avoid frozen water pipes by turning your faucets to a steady drip. If the pipes do freeze, open a faucet near the frozen area to release vapor from melting ice, then direct a heat lamp, space heater, or hair dryer at the frozen section. Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame, which can cause a fire or steam explosion.

Hypothermia can happen to anyone when their body temperature reaches 95 degrees or lower. Even mild indoor temps of 60-65 degrees can trigger hypothermia in infants and the elderly.

Signs of Hypothermia include

  • Drowsiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Slow Breathing

Beware of frostbitten skin, which appears whitish and feels numb. Treat frostbite by wrapping the area with blankets, or use body heat to warm it gradually. Do not rub frostbitten areas — friction can damage the skin tissue.

If you are standing on a frozen lake, pond, or outdoor skating rink and hear the ice cracking, lie down immediately to distribute your weight. If you fall in, don’t panic. Focus your energy on getting out as quickly as possible. Once out, use powdery snow to sop up excess water. Do jumping jacks, push-ups, or run in place to get your blood pumping and warm up your body.

For more winter tips, check out: www.epa.gov/region3winter

Wise words:

“Health is like money–we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”

Speaking of money. If you are contemplating going into business for yourself, take advantage of my special offer for HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE. It’s available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h, but as a reader of my blog, you can obtain a copy by ordering direct from the publisher. Send a check or money order for $29.95 plus $3.50 (Total $33.45) to: SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601 Sold on complete money back guarantee of satisfaction.

How Superstious Are You?

Don’t Step on A Crack!

I can remember back in the day walking to school and if I should dare to step on a crack I would quickly step back a step or two to avoid it. The penalty, at least in my 10 year old mind if I didn’t, something serious and unpleasant would happen to me or to someone in my family. Funny how superstions stay with us even when we become adults.

Have you ever knocked on wood or thrown salt over your shoulder to ensure good luck?  Superstitious beliefs have been around for thousands of years. Whether you regard them as “old wives’ tales” or believe in their mystical meanings.

Here are a few popular superstitions

Many people anticipate bad luck on Friday the 13th. The number 13 is believed by some to be so unlucky that many buildings do not have a 13th floor and many cities don’t have a 13th street or avenue.

A black cat crossing your path is seen by some people as a sign of bad luck. Tradition holds that when a black cat walks toward you, it brings good fortune, but when it walks away, it takes away your good fortune.

According to some folklore followers, if you break a mirror, you will have bad luck for seven years. On the other hand, rubbing a rabbit’s foot will bring good luck, plentiful crops, many children and prosperity. (If you’re holding a rabbit’s foot think about what good luck it brought to the rabbit.) Tossing spilled salt over your left shoulder, is said to bring good luck.

Tradition holds that if your left palm itches, you will lose money, but if your right palm itches, you will receive money. Many people avoid walking under a ladder because the triangle it creates with the wall and ground is considered a symbol of life, and walking through this triangle is akin to tempting one’s fate.

Some people hang a horeshoe above the doorway to bring good luck to a home. Some even believe the shoe must be turned upward or the luck will spill out. Finding a four leaf clover is a sign of good luck coming your way. Knock on wood while talking to avoid jinxing a good fortune.

If two people pull apart a dried turkey or chicken breastbone while making a wish, the person who gets the longer piece will supposedly have their wish come true.

I’m sure you have some favorite “good luck” beliefs not listed here. Please share with me your favorite sure fire ways to avoid bad luck or assure good luck.

My book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE cannot, of itself, bring anyone good luck but what it can do is show anyone interested in starting their own business, part time or full time, how easy it is to start a business of their own using the power of the world wide web to bring them success quicker than they ever believed possible.

If you’re already involved in a business of your own.you’ll learn how to use your existing experience and add mail order to sell directly to your prospects and customers no matter where they live.

You’ll read:

  1. How To Get Started
  2. How To Find Great Products
  3. How To Make Your Business Profitable Right From The Start
  4. How To Price your Product or Service For Biggest Profits
  5. Secrets to Creating Winning Mail Order Ads
  6. How to Use The Internet To Super Charge Your Business
  7. 14 Sure Fire Check Off Lists That Guarantee Huge Profits From Every Ad You Run.

…and much, much more.

For followers of my blog I have a special offer to share with you. I will send you a personalized copy for only $29.95 plus $3.50 first class mail delivery. Total cost $33.45.  Send order to SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601 My book is sold on a money back guarantee of satisfaction. No questions asked.

If you prefer to order from Amazon price is $39.95. Same guarantee of satisfaction.

Worthwhile Books