Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

I really, really love Electric Light Orchestra. The disco stuff, not so much, but even there I like what Jeff Lynne & company did more than most other disco bands. That's neither here nor there. Today's video is the catchy "Hold on Tight." The song itself is kinda nuts, with random French verses thrown in because, presumably, Lynne couldn't come up with any additional English lyrics and just translated what he already had. But the video itself? Utterly nuts. Random pastiches of various film tropes--most of which are thuddingly obvious to the viewer--thrown together in a nonsensical manner that conveys the message that the band said "screw it." There's no attempt to make any sense or tie the imagery in with the actual music. They simply blew a bunch of money on a screwy, three-minute joke.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Flight of the Conchords.

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Chicken Ranch Central

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 83: Bibliograpby

Confession time: I've got a chip on my shoulder. It's been there since I started researching Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch back in 2009. Once I realized there had been no serious historical survey of the infamous Chicken Ranch, I decided then and there that my book would be the account of record. The only problem was that I was neither an academic nor a historian. I was a journalist, and the only way I could approach such a project was as a journalist. I treated the Chicken Ranch as an exercise in investigative journalism and went from there. I remained keenly aware throughout the project that my results could be viewed as suspect by serious researchers because of my credentials (or lack thereof), so I endeavored to document and cite every source I used in the book.

If you've taken a glance at the Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch endnotes, you'll know that there were a lot of sources cited once all was said and done. In fact, once I turned in my completed manuscript, with all the endnotes, index and bibliography, my publisher flinched. An already large book hand grown substantially larger--far larger than the average book they publish. In the interest of controlling production costs, they suggested that maybe we should eliminate the bibliography, as the vast majority of those sources listed were already cited in the notes. Me, being an agreeable sort, agreed.

Fast forward to now. Along the way, I'd seen references to "scholarly works," and how these were held in higher esteem amongst academics and researchers. Curiosity finally getting the better of me, I sought out clear-cut definitions of "scholarly works" to flesh out my vague notions thereof. One of the first qualifications for such was that the sources used be thoroughly documented and cited. Well, great. I'm all aces on that count. The next criteria gave me some pause, though: Scholarly works should not be entertaining or pleasurable reads. That's not much of a paraphrase. One place online specifically listed the inclusion of academic jargon and a high difficulty in readability in order to be taken seriously as scholarly work. This, of course, is anathema to me. In journalism, clarity of language is paramount, and in my day job I do more than my share of translating jargon into English (which isn't always easy to do). Now, I can understand how a book or article on a serious research topic shouldn't necessarily be restricted to an 8th-grade reading level, the famous target of most mass-market print journalism. At the same time, I see zero reason to make information intentionally opaque via the use of artificially complex sentence structures and obscure word choice. I've no idea of the FOG index of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, but I'll wager it clocks in somewhere north of 8th grade. Writing can be sophisticated and still be clear.

Then I came to the third criteria: Scholarly works must be written by recognized experts in the field, tenured university professors and the like. If a book is written by anyone else, laypeople or journalists then it is explicitly not scholarly work. It may be suitable as reference material for high school essays, but is wholly unsuitable for consideration at the collegiate level. At which point the chip on my shoulder grew three sizes that day. Every demon that hovered over my work for the prior six-plus years let out a collective sneer.

After the throbbing from the moral insult to my person subsided, I considered the entire concept of "scholarly work" and realized that the only point that really and truly mattered was the first one--that all research be thoroughly documented, referenced and cited. The others--writing style and background of the author--are subjective. In this case, subjective snobbery. Yes, some degree of confidence in the presented material may be inferred from an author's credentials and writing ability, but that is secondary to the research itself. I make zero apologies to any student, scholar or researcher who picks up my book and enjoys reading it. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and offer a preemptive "You're welcome."

As for my journalistic research methods, well, I admit there may be gaps in my material. I may have shortfalls in my research. But show me all the doctoral-level historians who've conducted more than nine hours of recorded interviews with Edna Milton Chadwell and published comprehensive histories of the Chicken Ranch brothel, and then we'll talk.

The lack of a published bibliography remains an issue, though. No getting around it. So here it is, in its entirety. I'll add a downloadable .doc file to JaymeBlaschke.com in the near future, but for any high school students desperate for non-scholarly essay material, here's your lifeline.

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch:
The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse

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Rice, Harvey. “The show goes on and on...” Houston Chronicle, June 22, 2002. 35A. Print.
Rivenburgh, Debbie. Interview by author via phone. Digital recording. Pahrump, Nevada, July 13, 2009.
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Rutter, Michael. Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West. Helena, MT: Farcountry Press, 2005. Print.
Saxon, Gerald D. and Summerville, John R. “The Chicken Ranch: A Home on the Range.” Red River Valley Historical Review (Fall 1982). 33-44. Print.
Schramm, Frances. “New Year’s Chicken Ranch party a bust in Fayette County.” Banner Press, January 6, 2000. 1-2. Print.
Schwartz, Maryln. “Sheriff Jim: They Love Him In La Grange.” Dallas Morning News, June 29, 1975. 37A. Print.
Seagraves, Anne. Soiled Doves. Hayden, Idaho: Wesanne Publications, 1994. 23. Print.
Seal, Mark. “Sheriff Jim.” Scene Magazine: Dallas Morning News, July 8, 1979. 9-16.
“Sheriff Truman Albert Maddox.” Houston Chronicle, March 22, 2000. Print.
Shewey, Don. “Tommy Tune: Hoofers, Hookers and Hollywood Dreams.” Soho News, July 2, 1980. www.donshewey.com/theater_articles/tommy_tune.html : accessed October 13, 2012. Web.
Siegel, Tatiana. “Universal to remake ‘Best Little Whorehouse.’” Variety, February 10, 2010. www.variety.com/article/VR1118015028 : accessed July 19, 2012. Web.
Sillavan, Royce “Randy.” Trinity, Texas. E-mail to author, July 12, 2009.
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Sillavan, Royce “Randy.” “Remembrances of My Dad: Hollis Milton Sillavan,” Texas Ranger Dispatch Fall 2001. www.texasranger.org/dispatch/Backissues/Dispatch_Issue_05.pdf : accessed July 10, 2009. Web.
Sinks, Julia Lee, Chronicles of Fayette: The Reminiscences of Julia Lee Sinks. La Grange, Texas: Fayette County Historical Commission, 1975.
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Sitton, Thad. The Texas Sheriff: Lord of the County Line. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000. Print.
Smith, Krista. The Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University. E-mail to author, May 18, 2009.
Smith, Mark. “What’s the beef? Try sex/Protesters focusing on adult businesses.” Houston Chronicle, August 21, 1994. State 1. Print.
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Supak, Thomas, Hensel, Charles and Dipple, Ricky. “German Settlers in Fayette County.” Fayette County: Past and Present. Ed. Marjorie L. Williams. La Grange, Texas: Fayette County Historical Commission, 1976. 22-23. Print.
Synnott, Milton, Steinhauser, Mark, Kristoff, Douglas, Washington, Phyllis and Schneider, Rebecca. “The Loessin Brothers.” Fayette County: Past and Present. Ed. Marjorie L. Williams. La Grange, Texas: Fayette County Historical Commission, 1976. 215-216. Print.
Taylor, Gary. I, the People: How Marvin Zindler Busted the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Los Gatos, California: Smashwords edition 1.0, October 2009; Revised January 2012. Ebook.
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“Texas Prostitution Crackdown Due.” San Antonio Light, August 1, 1973. 14-A. Print.
“The Best Little Oil Well.” Time, vol. 117, February 16, 1981. 73. Print.
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Walters, Ken. Interview with author via phone. Digital recording. Freeport, Texas, August 11, 2009.
Walton, Jim. Interview with author via phone. Digital recording. Stephenville, Texas, August 5, 2009.
Walvoord, John. E-mail to author. July 27, 2009.
Ward, Susan Bayer. “Hattie’s house of ill repute is back for a second run.” Austin American-Statesman, April 12, 1993. D1. Print.
Weidner, Elizabeth, Hrncir, Linda, Bade, Bart, Griffin, Donnie and Faison, Genevia. “Thomas James Flournoy: A Fayette County Peace Officer.” Fayette County: Past and Present. Ed. Marjorie L. Williams. La Grange, Texas: Fayette County Historical Commission, 1976. 185-189. Print.
Wilson, Diana. Interview by author via phone. Digital recording. Dallas, Texas, July 29, 2009.
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Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now available from both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Chicken Ranch sells out!

I am informed by people In The Know at History Press that the first printing of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch has sold out, and that the second printing is now arriving in their warehouse for distribution. That, my friends, is pretty darn cool. I don't want to overstate things, though. History Press (and its parent, Arcadia) specialize in niche, local history, so their initial print runs are not comparable to, say, Random House or St. Martins. Still, based upon their enthusiasm for my book, the first print run was a little larger than what they'd normally order up. So the fact that they've sold out and gone back to press in just a little more than three weeks from the release date is an encouraging sign, no?

My trip to Houston yesterday was encouraging as well. I swung by the Houston Public Media studios shortly after 4 p.m. and had an interesting interview with Michael Hagerty for the "Houston Matters" program. It will probably air in September. Afterwards, I was kicking myself for all the clever and intriguing things I should have said but didn't. Even so, I think it came out pretty well and touched on a few areas not widely discussed about the Chicken Ranch. Plus, Michael promised to crank up the bass filter and make me sound like Barry White.

After grabbing a quick dinner of overpriced Tex-Mex, I headed over to Brazos Bookstore for my signing event. Lydia, the event manager, was funny and on top of things, making the entire experience smooth and enjoyable. The audience was on the smaller side, but they made up for it by being very engaged and curious about all things Chicken Ranch. One gentleman was particularly enthused that I discussed the corrupt DPS officer who set the wheels in motion that finally took down the Chicken Ranch, because he'd heard that story discussed by law enforcement in the past but never seen it documented or confirmed anywhere. One fellow shared with me that he'd visited the place the year prior to its closure. A woman shared that she'd visited the place as well--in college, a couple of male friends drove her out there on a lark, and she was mortified at the time (she thinks it funny now). There was also a photographer from Texas Highways there. Not entirely sure what that was about, but he took a few shots of me talking and we discussed some of the interesting new information my research uncovered regarding the Chicken Ranch. After the talk and signing was finished, Lydia brought out a stack of 20-plus books that were presales, as well as another five or so for stock. I signed them all, and I think everyone went home happy.

Next up is a signing and discussion 5:30 p.m. September 1 at Inferno's Pizza for the Comal A&M Club; a signing 6-10 p.m. at the Fayette County Fair at the Fayette County Record booth; and a signing noon-2:30 p.m. at the MSC Bookstore on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, prior to the UCLA football game. Should be a great event!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now available from both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Destination: Houston!

Okay, folks! I am off to Houston for a 7 p.m. signing tonight at Brazos Bookstore. If you missed me when I came to town a few weeks ago, now's your chance to rectify that opportunity squandered. I know what you're probably thinking: "I'd like to go, but Brazos Bookstore is way over there on Bissonnet. Traffic's going to be terrible." This is true, however, I remind you that I'm driving all the way in from San Marcos and braving that very same traffic just to make it so you don't have to make that same drive in the opposite direction to get a signed copy of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch. And do you know why? Because I'm a giver, that's why. In fact, I'll have some additional goodies for everyone who shows up tonight. My goodness, it's like Christmas come early! You Houstonians with a keen interest in Texas history can't pass that up, can you? I didn't think so.

In other news, well, there's more news. The San Marcos Record devoted an entire page to yours truly and my humble little book in the Sunday edition. Alas, there's no online link, but you can click on that photo above to get a good look at the splashy layout. They've treated me very nicely, indeed.

You know who else has treated me nice? The San Antonio Current. After that nice, big review they ran earlier this month, they turned around and ran an advance prior to my signing at the Twig last Friday. "‘Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch’ Author to Read at The Twig on Friday"

Let's see if Houston and Austin media can start showing me as much love, eh?

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now available from both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 82: The Party

First things first: On Tuesday, August 23, I will be at Brazos Bookstore in Houston for a 7 p.m. signing, so all of you Houstonians who missed me on my visit to H-Town two weeks ago, here's your chance to right that particular oversight.

Secondly, the Austin American-Statesman acknowledges my humble book's existence with "All over the book map with the latest Texas titles." It's been quite illuminating to watch how individual media outlets approach my book and attendant subject matter.

I've been running hard these past few weeks, and this past weekend was the most intense for me yet. There was a huge turnout for me at the Nesbitt Memorial Library Thursday in Columbus, with a turnout even larger than that of La Grange, believe it or not. I came darn close to running out of books, and that's a good thing. Amazing interest and enthusiasm from my home town.

Friday saw me back in San Antonio, for a signing at the Twig Book Shop. Again, a strong turnout showing interest in the Chicken Ranch isn't about to ebb any time soon. The staff was wonderful and accommodating, but the audience is what floored me. One woman drove all the way from Uvalde to meet me. Another couple had just moved here from out of state and thought the Chicken Ranch as good a place as any to start learning about Texas lore. Long after my reading and Q&A had ended people continued to trickle in, hoping they weren't too late to meet me and get a copy of the book. When your signing's at 6 and people are still showing up at 8 on the off chance you're not gone yet, well, that's enthusiasm.

The highlight of my weekend, however, was the book release party on Saturday. I've never had a book release party before. With Voices of Vision it just didn't really make sense, and all my other publications have been in magazines and anthologies. So this was something I'd been looking forward to. We had a fantastic time. People started showing up half an hour before the shindig was supposed to start, and continued coming and going the rest of the night. The weather behaved for the most part, with some rain starting up around 9:30, but the party continued unabated and before we knew it, the clock was showing 2 a.m. and we were still gathered 'round the back patio, talking away and enjoying our drinks (on that note, I have to say I've fallen in love with Amarula Gold. It's generally rum-like in profile (and I do like rum), but smoother and a lot more fruity. I found it mixes very nicely with guava nectar for a easy-sipping tropical drink).

Lots of people got copies of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch and a few enthusiasts also took home Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch, but nobody went home empty-handed. We had party favors, you see. Take a look at that picture up top. "Baby repellent" is what my 10-year-old son calls 'em. We had bowls and bowls filled with baby repellent, and there was lots of laughter when our guests took a close look and realized what was going on. I mean, it's a book about prostitution, after all. What could be more appropriate?

A lot off you may know that I'm into homebrew, although I haven't been terribly active since our move almost two years ago now (Goodness! Time does indeed fly!). Well,the party was as good an excuse as any to shake off the doldrums, and I brewed up six gallons of nut brown ale, in this case, offered as "In-the-Buff Brown Ale" and also "Chicken Ranch approved." Brown ale is a great choice for this kind of thing.. First of all, it's almost impossible to screw up as long as all the equipment is sanitized well. It's a dark beer that has an interesting, rich flavor profile but at the same time is light-bodied and crisp so as not to overwhelm people who normally drink Budweiser, Coors and the like. The custom beer with custom labels earned widespread approval. I also uncellared my last two bottles of the best mead I've ever made and labeled them as "Chicken Kisses." Mead is like wine, but instead of fermenting grapes, honey is used instead. This was bottled back in 2014, before out move. It started out as demi-sweet vanilla bean mead, but the result was somewhat bland, so I steeped some bags of icewine-infused tea we brought back from Vancouver on our vacation that summer. The result was smooth and gently spicy and very pleasant to drink. Lots of people had never sampled honey wine before, so it was a popular novelty experience.

Next up was Miss Edna's Rules for Boarders. I've never been able to actually get my hands on an original booklet, but I did have a copy of the original rules handed out at the Chicken Ranch, so I used my imagination to create what one might have looked like. There are some anachronisms here--the "chickens in love" logo didn't exist until 1977, but hey, we're just having fun with this. I also printed them up in blue ink to simulate the old mimeograph machines us children of the 70s remember from our school days. Sadly, I was not able to replicate the damp paper and distinctive scent of those long-ago copy machines. The rule booklets proved very popular, and just about everyone there found a seat at one point or another to flip through and soak in the sometimes absurd history.

And then there were the koozies. Nobody went home without a koozie. Sometimes with armfuls of koozies to pass out to friends and family. Hardly a wedding goes by without the foam drink wraps being handed out, so why not do the same for a book release party? I've been using them for a few weeks now myself. They class the joint up, don'tcha know.

As for the rest, well, a party happened. The Wife and her friend Laura really outdid themselves. The decorations were amazing. There was so much food! And desserts! We've never had the time to have a proper housewarming party when we moved in, so this one did double-duty. We showed off the pool and the patio and The Wife's photo studio (which we spent most of last year building). I debuted my tiki bar, which I built with my very own hands over the past couple of months (don't tell anyone, but it's not actually finished), which I think impressed more people than my book did. Even Lola, our studio mannequin, got in on the act a little bit. I did a short reading that was well-received and talked about all sorts of things, including--but not limited to--the Chicken Ranch. A good time was had by all, and we hope to do it again before long. We always suspected our new house had been designed, at least in part, to accommodate parties, and now we have verification.

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now available from both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

It has occurred to me that amidst all of the promotion I've been doing of late for Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, some people might become confused and think that I'm actually advocating in favor of prostitution. That is not the case. To clear up any ambiguity on the matter, I offer this public service message from Flight of the Conchords:

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 81: Riding the whirlwind

Where to start? The BookPeople event in Austin on Monday was amazing. It's been one of my personal goals as a writer to have a for-true book signing at this literary Mecca, and I have to say I was somewhat emotional when I walked up and unexpectedly spotted my name headlining the marquee. The nasty weather kept some people away, but there was still a good turnout and after a brief reading from Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch I signed books and answered questions about the for a long, long time. It was close to 9 p.m. before I finally packed up and headed home. And the staff was fantastic--not only were they professional and helpful, they were genuinely interested in my book and the history of the Chicken Ranch. Yay!

So what's next on the agenda? Tonight I'm headed to Columbus for a 7 p.m. talk and signing at the Nesbitt Memorial Library. Friday, August 19 brings me back to San Antonio for a signing at The Twig book store. Then August 20 is the big Book Release Party at Casa de Blaschke, and Tuesday, August 23 sees me back in Houston for a 7 p.m. signing at Brazos Bookstore. Oh, and this afternoon, before I roll into Columbus, I'm making a quick detour to La Grange to sign books for the Fayette County Record, the Visitors Bureau and the public library. Busy! Busy! Busy!

Finally, you know things have entered the Twilight Zone when Chinese media starts reporting on the Chicken Ranch. Does anyone read Mandarin? At least I assume it's Mandarin. Could be Cantonese, I suppose:

There's also a writeup in today's New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung: "Book by local author delves into ‘Chicken Ranch’ history"

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now available from both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

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